Captain Van Niekerk had finished her evaluations and personnel reports for the better part of the next year. In truth, she hated paperwork more than anything, and keeping ahead of it helped her cope somehow. However, there was one evaluation she had yet to complete, and after making a copy of the file, she put the original back into records and took the copy back to her apartment, scanning it with her eyes as she made the walk back to the complex. It was certainly a nicer place than the last place she'd lived, though pretty much anything was better than the Mediterranean with no shelter to speak of whatsoever.
Opening the door to the apartment, she was welcomed to the sight of Pilot Lillian in the midst of her exercises. Not saying a single word, Jacoline hung up the jacket in the closet near the door, making sure to tuck the arms together and setting it towards the back of two other identical and pristine uniform jackets.
"No need to pause on my account Pilot Lillian. We will begin your evaluation soon enough. It is good you have already begun to warm-up. It will certainly help with tonight's exercises."
Tucking the folder back under her arm, she headed to her room and opened the door, straightening the landscape portrait she had spent nearly a year's pay to have done. While not a beautiful piece by most standards, it was really the only thing she had of Pre-Second Impact, and even it was simply a memory, Southern Africa was simply a handful of islands at the highest points anymore, if even that. The background being the skyline and coast of Cape Town, the foreground...her family, as best as could be recollected and transferred into the mind of the artist. After a hard sigh and forced cough, she began stripping out of her uniform, changing into a short-sleeved beige top and gray sweatpants, and dropping her work clothes into her designated baskets. She left the file beneath her single pillow and tucked the key to the apartment into her clothing.
Before walking back out into the main room, she caught a glance of herself in the mirror, try as she might, the memories of the events following Second Impact would never go away, and her body was a billboard for what a human could stoop to in the worst of circumstances. A deep breath and turn of the handle, and she was back out in the main room of the flat.
"Pilot Lillian, your evaluation begins now, I find that running brings a certain clarity to the mind, and dispels ones instinct to skirt around the truth in certain areas. Now take that device in your ears out and follow me."
While waiting for her new roommate to respond, she spoke again,"In regards to your question earlier, depending on what I deem is suitable for you, you may find yourself working in the Eva Armory, or simply filing paperwork for the Heads of all NERV departments."
"Alright, why don't you go shower and I'll get your bag to your room?"
Tammy actually managed a bit of a grin at Gale's offer. "Huh. And Mom was always going on about how chivalry was dead."
"Seriously? Alright, thanks; don't mind if I do."
It wasn't like she had anything intensely private or delicate anyway, and the guy certainly looked capable enough to move a box or two around. And if that meant that she could get cleaned off any faster...
"I'll be sure not to take too long," she continued, stopping only long enough to pick up a towel and a thick, flannel robe. "No promises about leaving any hot water though."
Twenty or so minutes later, Tammy finally stepped out of the shower, her relieved sigh turning into steam the second it left her mouth. Some soap, shampoo, and some not-freezing water really went a long way in terms of repairing her frayed mental state. Sadly, she couldn't just linger in the warm, steam-filled room forever; someone else was waiting to use it too.
Wiping enough condensation off the mirror to see in, the pilot dried herself off, made sure that her hair fell into some vague semblance of order, and pulled on her robe. Then, sighing in disappointment, she stepped out into the noticeably colder hallway.
"Hey," Tammy called, making her way down towards the bedrooms, her towel slung over shoulders, "shower's open!"
D-18 lost the game. It was a bit of a surprise to her, but it was true. It was rare for her to be outwitted like this, but intriguing none the less. Apparently the trick was to "think several moves ahead" - or so the Colonel said - but she wasn't sure how precisely to do that. Was that one of the traits that separated her from humans; precognition?
She would need to research this later, but for the moment this wasn't her prime concern. "I request another attempt at this trial in the future Colonel." she said, deciding she would overcome the challenge in the future. A moment later she found the game even stranger; why was she so concerned about a game? Did the game somehow meet one of her objectives? Perhaps the element of strategy would help her in the battlefield or perhaps it had something to do with the need to complete the Ensign's orders for "fun". Either way, it was strange and not something she expected.
Glancing at the clock, she realized that it was getting late and her need for sleep - to keep herself at peek fighting condition - was coming upon her. "Until the date of the next trial; continue operation Colonel." she said; leaving the recreational room.
She arrived at her new apartment just as the sun was beginning to set; plenty of time to finish her maintenance, meet her "roommate", and enter sleep mode. She unlocked the door to the apartment and walked inside; the room was empty. For a moment, she thought she'd managed to arrive first. Then she noticed the lights coming from the other side of a door; visible between the bottom of the door and the carpets.
D-18 took off her shoes - placing them in the closet - and pushed open the door to the lights; determining it important to know who she was living with. "I am home." she said, mono-toned as she always was, glancing around the room.
She was in the middle of a back bend and, from an inverted view, saw Jacoline enter.
"No need to pause on my account Pilot Johnson. We will begin your evaluation soon enough. It is good you have already begun to warm-up. It will certainly help with tonight's exercises."
Actually, this was a cool down...Jesus fuck, don't you people ever rest? She thought, with a hint of bitterness. While Jacoline got changed, Lillian finished up her routine, and was just doing a few basic dancers stretches when the older woman returned.
"Pilot Johnson, your evaluation begins now, I find that running brings a certain clarity to the mind, and dispels ones instinct to skirt around the truth in certain areas. Now take that device in your ears out and follow me."
"Understood...one second." With that she darted back to her room, dispensing with the music player, and stuffing her feet into a pair of runners. As she was lacing them up, she heard Jacoline's voice down the hall. "In regards to your question earlier, depending on what I deem is suitable for you, you may find yourself working in the Eva Armoury, or simply filing paperwork for the Heads of all NERV departments." Well those sound like stellar options...
Shortly, she was standing in front of Jacoline, ready to go. "Two quick things before we go ma'am." She said, before the door was opened. "One, please call me Lillian, at least when we're off duty...'Pilot Lillian' is going to get old really fast." The second thing worried her a bit, she had no idea how Jacoline would react, but she had to be told. Taking a deep breath, Lillian pushed on. "The other thing, is that...that people know what I really do...at least in Canada, I have no idea if it made the press over here." Reaching up, she tapped the PPCLI crest on her top. "I'm sure it says in my file that Pat, sorry, Unit-41 and I were 'seconded' to the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. It was all some BS PR stunt, but the short of it is that they trotted me, and 41, out before the press. I never said a word to them, but they were told my name, how old I was...all that sort of shit." Finishing, she sighed and waited to see what happened.
Gale had grabbed the boxes the girl had brought with her, abandoning his own backpack on the floor near the couch until he moved the girls boxes. Gale placed all the girls boxes in the room furthest down the hall, the one with the better view, before grabbing his backpack and throwing it unceremoniously into his room near the closet. Gale didn't have anything important in his backpack, it was all just clothes. Everything important to him was on him, that included his sisters dog-tags that he had been given to him after she passed. These Gale kept on a chain beside his own dog tags, a bit unorthodox to be sure, but it was just something he'd done since she passed. A habit to keep them together since she had always been there for him when no one else had. Gale clutched at both sets of dog tags beneath his soaked clothing and sighed mostly to himself, closing the door to his room and heading back to the living room. Gale quickly cleaned up the sofa, getting it as dry as he could, the sound of the shower in the background somewhat soothing.
Twenty minutes passed and Gale heard the water turn off, so he grabbed the things he would be wearing to sleep and waited until he heard the bathroom door open again.
"Hey, shower's open!"
Gale nodded to himself and headed out into the living room, his clothes clutched in one hand. Gale saw the girl heading his way so he pointed over his shoulder, "I put all your things in the second room back."
With that Gale made his way past the girl and into the bathroom.
"Mr. York; I am your room mate."
"Oh hey, O-Ortwin? Am I saying that right? I already called a room, hope that's okay. Do you need any help unpacking?" It didn't look like the other pilot had brought much with him but it was the polite thing to say.
"How about that angel fight, huh? That was something." He remembered Ortwin was in the dark blue and white EVA. The one that looked like it was wearing funky shoes. "You're EVA looked really cool out there. have you been piloting it long? I'm still pretty new at it, it's kinda cool though. Gotta say I'm a little jealous of everyone else though, getting legs and all. The tech people said that 67 has a weak... something field too but HEY it's still an EVA!"
It took a bit but Jamie did manage to notice he was rambling and cut himself off. Leaving a moment of awkwardness between the two.
"So uuhh... you wanna get some lunch? I guess we'll need to stock the kitchen."
Another moment of silence and awkwardness arose, but Ortwin's voice would make it disappear once he replied.
All those questions came at once, V-3 let out a sigh as he began to answer the freckled boy's questions. He did so in a slow, calculated manner. The clone still had to take time to translate his thoughts into English, after all. He began, "Number one: it is pronounced AWRT-veen." He pronounced it with a hint of a sneer and moved on, "Number two: I am content with any room, so yes. Number three: no." V-3 dragged the small bag out of the shadows then let go of it and continued, "Number three: the mission was successful; that is all. Number four: I have been a test pilot for a long period of time, but have only been assigned to Unit-39 recently." He paused, "Number five: It is an Eva, yes." Finally, V-3 answered the last question, "Number six: No thank you; I have already eaten. It has been stated that the parental unit will take care of such matters."
He then chose a room and placed his belongings in there, including the key that had been dangling near Jamie's head the whole time.
"...all that sort of shit."
"Pilot Lillian, I see no reason to call you without your designation if I require you do the same for myself. As for you and your Eva's time in the Canadian limelight, NERV's intelligence rivals the rest of the world's put together, therefore we knew almost every detail of your lives before you arrived. However, it seems that we will not have to resort to injections and dark rooms with bright lights in order to extract what we probably already know about you."
As Jacoline turned away, Lillian rolled her eyes. Dear God...she really IS going to be about as much fun as living at a convent...joy. Falling into step beside the other woman, she kept pace easily. The sudden burst of speed caught her off guard, and she just stared at the advancing figure for a moment, before taking off after her. As she caught up, Jacoline asked her a question.
The Captain led the way down the building afterwards, not saying a word, simply watching out of the corner of her eye the reactions and attitude of Lillian Diana Chloe. Once outside, she began with a jog, and continued.
"Files may well tell facts about a person, place, or object, but after years of being out in the field, you learn that they often react much differently than the observations of a desk jockey would tend to have you believe,"She then put on a very quick burst of speed and began tearing down the street, the pilot was then forced to either slow down, or speed up and work to catch the officer, though she still had enough breath somehow to ask her another question,"What do you think Second Impact gave humanity?"
Lillian ran in silence, easily keeping pace. Damn... After a bit of thought, she responded. "Assuming we survive whatever the Angels are trying to do? Another way to kill ourselves; look at human history, every major technological step we've made has been turned to kill each other."*breath* "NERV may have Eva building under wraps now, but eventually something'll leak, and the next thing you know, some jackass nation is using them to attack another." *breath* "As my dad used to say: 'Same tune, new artist.'"
The younger woman caught up soon enough to the Head of Security, and with a small note tucked into the back of her mind, she admired that the pilot had reacted quickly to the speed boost, it showed a small bit of adaptability what with her breathing.
"You certainly have a dark view of the world for someone as young as yourself, with little to indicate why. However, as you just said, we have yet another weapon, but you don't believe that NERV would allow something as dangerous as the Evas out without some kind of failsafe, do you?"She looked to see the pilot's reaction to that,"Trust me when I tell you that the machines you put yourself into to fight the Angels are very much impossible to duplicate without the materials, personnel, and procedures of NERV. Unless these leaks also let out those details as well as the secrets involved, it will not be safe to create even fully automated copies. And even if they do, all they'll be are hunks of metal with weak AT fields, not Evas."
"Well I come from a family of realists, so ya, some might say I can be a bit pessimistic, but I prefer to think of myself as a bit more 'grounded'." *breath* "If NERV didn't have a whole ass loads of fail-safes, I'd be very surprised." She replied, raising an eyebrow. *breath* "Aside from production level stuff, I'd be putting some sort of powerful self-destruct on-board the Evas...just in case."
"In any case, that is not the focus of this evaluation. The point of this run was so that I didn't have to continue to sit today, and I see that you keep yourself in decent shape, for a pilot,"She then sped up even more than before, and using a wooden fence as a spring board of sorts, spun and began running back towards the complex,"But can your use of the AT field help in this instance?,"She yelled back, moving unbelievably quickly and rounding the first corner back before Lillian was able to fully turn on her heel. Once around the second corner however, Jacoline waited for the pilot, and readied herself to stop the girl when she came around one of the few buildings she would be required to round on her way back to the complex.
And now your final little test, girl. You've done decently so far, I would hope that you do not disappoint me now.
"Just because I don't have time to dance anymore, I don't see..." Lillian was caught off guard by the Captain's sudden manoeuvre. "Holy shit.." She muttered, as Jacoline took off.
Slewing about, she launched after the woman at a dead sprint, just close enough to see her vanish around the corners ahead of her. Rounding the second one, Lillian was confronted by a motionless person blocking her path. Without thinking, and being utterly unable to stop, she dropped her shoulder and ran full force into the Captain.
Jacoline was certainly not expecting that action at all, but her instincts and training took over, although an audible "OOOFFF" was heard as the pilot barreled into her. Using the built-up momentum, Niekerk dropped and rolled with the girl she had her arms wrapped around, droppping her over onto the ground, while attempting to be as careful as possible to avoid any lasting damage.
Both of the women now on the ground, Niekerk rolled to her front and bounced to her feet, before grabbing her now well-bruised torso and coughing. The adrenaline rushing through her system, she breathed out and held out her hand to help the pilot up, a half-smile and chuckle escaping her lips before another cough. However, the smile faded soon after.
"Lillian Chloe, at least piloting has possibly improved your ability to tackle challenges head-on. Pun fully intended. I lied before about the job. You will not be working in the Eva armory. But you're not going to be stuck as a glorified clerk, we have enough of those already. Congratulations, you just found yourself a position in the Security Force. Nothing major, but during your duty hours, you have a small bit of rank over the other pilots as far as I'm concerned. Though I'm sure the Director has already chosen her own proteges from among the soldiers in your unit. Your uniform should be waiting for you in your locker along with your plugsuits in the morning. Now get up and take my hand, you still have sleep to get, and I have my own night rituals to attend to before I get to sleep. I'll see about getting the kitchen stocked tomorrow, never have had a real reason to think of much as anything but temporary. NERV's changing that, for the time being."
The pilots lived together, and for those weeks a semblance of normalcy came over them.
One night, at last, the asleep pilots wake up to alarms.
In the command center, personnel were a rush to assume their stations. Radar arrays had detected a large flying object moving in the direction of the GeoFront. Evangelions are to launch immediately and meet the Angel as it enters London-2.
Amira was awake by the time the alarms rang through the base. She spent a large part of the night awake, reviewing every bit of information in the base. From weapon calibrations to pilot relationships as they were put together in family units. For the most part, they behaved just how regular teenagers and children acted. They bonded in many ways but one of them was that they were pilots for large mechs that could save the world. Today was one of those days that would decide it.
Amira rushed to the command center in black pants, and a black tank top but by the time she reached her station she had zipped up a jacket, covering the majority of her scars. No doubt a few could see just how scarred the Director really was but she ignored those looks. Right now, she had to command these pilots.
"Mr. Jaeger, you know what to do." Amira said, commanding the man to deploy the weapons for the ascending pilots. "Activate searchlights and infrared sensors. I need a visual on the angel ASAP. Until then all units hold."
"Captain Nierek, make sure everything is locked down and secured. We don't know how fast the Angel is going to be on us I don't want it arriving to an open base. And get those pilots moving."
At the sound of the alarms, D-18 rolled out of her bed and hit the ground running. She knew what it meant: and Angel. She needed to be at NERV as soon as possible. She stopped briefly at the door to slip on her shoes and burst out the door; not even closing it behind her.
She bolted down the stairs three at a time, using her hand to grab hold of the railing to use as a pivot when she needed to change direction. She was in the street and running before the first minute was up. The streets were, as one might expect following an alarm, alive with activity. People were already rushing toward NERV to do their job or rushing to shelters to survive the coming fight.
When she reached the entrance, she swiped her card and entered as quickly as possible; intent on reaching her Eva before things became problematic. Before she could however, she needed to change; her sleepwear was hardly a plugsuit. Thanks to the special paths set up for pilots to reach their Eva's, D-18 was in the locker-room and suiting up before 5 minutes had passed. By 8 minutes past the alarm, she was in her entry plug and ready for insertion.
"Unit 82 Pilot: Ready for Entry" she said into the microphone, informing the commander in the same mono-tone voice she always used.
"Mr. Jaeger, you know what to do. Activate searchlights and infrared sensors. I need a visual on the angel ASAP. Until then all units hold. Captain Nierek, make sure everything is locked down and secured. We don't know how fast the Angel is going to be on us I don't want it arriving to an open base. And get those pilots moving."
The orders went out. Long range sensors were the only means of visual confirmation- recon aircraft sent out to track the Angel had crashed, the pilots not responding over comms, presumably having lost control of their vehicles. The MAGI were analyzing all streams of data. Its A.T. Field can stop electromagnetic waves from entering or exiting its radius, which makes the interior completely black and the exterior more reflective than any manmade mirror. Smart pilots would remember to bring some form of lighting with them when entering the super-reflective bubble.
Thanks to its powerful electromagnetic manipulation, the Angel had remain undetected by virtually all Nerv equipment until it is already dangerously close to the Base of Operations. Evangelions have the option of emergency deployment in the city itself (albeit without access to full resources) or fall back to the Geofront to defend from there with better preparation.
At a subconscious level, Lillian knew she must've woken up, at least enough to get dress and to her Eva; the fact that she was in her plug suit, immersed in LCL, and plugged in was proof of that...she just didn't remember any of it. So help me, if this is a damned exercise I am going to flatten someone! She thought blearily...she was never going to be a 'morning' person.
With everything showing green on her end, and a sync of 70% (not bad considering she was still half asleep), she gave the okay and 41 began to launch. Damn, and just when that dream was getting good...wish I could remember wh..
"Unit-41, what's wrong? Your sync ratio is dropping."
The NERV operators voice cut through her thoughts. "Wha..? Oh sorry, something on my end." She said, flinching; her sync was down to 63%, but it was starting to climb again.
"Focus pilot, we don't need you de-syncing."
"Sorry Sir, I keep on that." She replied. Focus you idiot! As the lift came to a halt at the surface, she brought up the GeoFront's data feed on the Angel. "Well fuck...don't suppose they have an Eva-sized jetpack?" She muttered. Without an order to move, Pat dropped into a crouch, and began drumming its fingers on the ground. "Easy Pat...we'll get to it soon enough."
Their first exchange marked the tone their future exchanges would take: V-3 only replied to Jamie when he had to, and Jamie kept conversations up, if only just because of his friendly nature. The clone filled the empty days with imagination while hiding behind various books. However, the blaring alarms ended all of that. V-3 did as he always did and followed protocol: got up, got to NERV HQ, got to the locker room, got into the plug suit and got into Unit-39's entry plug.
He was seated inside it, surrounded by LCL and streams of letters and numbers that made up the data feed he had brought up.
V-3 ignored that for the moment. "Pilot of Unit-39: ready and awaiting insertion." He stated through the microphone, his voice had a hint of calmness in it. He stared ahead and scanned over the data feed. A shadow crawling in the night? No, it was simply darkness itself. The clone closed his eyes for about a second, making his own world dark. Nevertheless, presence soon filled the darkness - it was Unit-39. Synchronastion began, numbers rose and rose, but soon settled. He was ready.
The alarms jolted Mark awake, but it was the thumping sound of Daria dashing out the door that got him out of bed. The past few weeks had their apartment filled with a thick tension as Mark's distaste for his apathetic roommate made their living situation uncomfortable for all involved (at least, those who were capable of actual emotive reception).
Once out in the hallway, Mark deliberately took another route to the Eva hangar just to avoid Daria, running faster to balance out the slower route. Practically flying through the dressing room, Mark had his plug suit on in no time. In fact, the only thing that stopped his pace was the sight of Unit 13-B. "Hey Roger, ready for a night game?" Mark smirked as he hopped into his entry plug.
Once the door shut, Mark closed his eyes and let the LCL fill the camber. "Warrant Officer Johnson, ready for Unit-13-B insertion." Mark mutter into the mic as he got ready to become something so much greater than what a normal human could ever dream to be.
Time dilates and time contracts.
On the one hand, the time it took Iggy to wake from the siren, leap from a couch into a pair of sandals by the door, hurtle himself out into the brisk London night, and tear off in the direction of NERV HQ, seemed to have been compressed into about three seconds. Hell, that actually wasn't half bad, after all, Iggy wasn't entirely sure if the time it had taken to suit up and launch had ever technically existed. Meh, it was probably for the best, there were an awful lot of small thoughts crammed into that 3.1 second window, thoughts that wouldn't be fitting during combat but could exist now in their own little space. Most of them revolved around why he still didn't have a proper home unit after two weeks, even if the rotating roommates bit was plenty fun. Currently he was crashing on Mark and Daria's couch, and while they were both lovely people, there was lot of unexplained tension and awkwardly quiet moments. Maybe he was interrupting something, did they have a fling? Was that ethical? (Hanky panky with someone with the capacity for free thought akin to the average toaster raised an awful lot of ethical questions. Probably best to keep out of it. ) Incidentally, maybe time contraction would explain why Iggy had bolted out of the house in nothing more than sandals and puppy print boxer shorts, it was going to be an interesting walk home assuming he survived this battle.
But that was then and this was now. If time could contract, it could dilate.
This moment right here, Iggy nestled in his entry plug, the familiar slight pinches and bunches of the plug suit, the heavy liquid breaths drawn by lungs filled with LCL... this moment seemed to last for an eternity. Emergency field deployment had been the obvious choice for Unit-77, after all, he required no manually delivered weapons, all of his armaments attached to the beast's frame. The Wendigo stalked about on all fours along the edges of this angel's strange field, Iggy staring into the eyes of his monster self through the angel's reflective surface. This moment lasted for a lifetime, decades of the sharp electric tingle of two nervous systems synchronizing, decades of the slowly growing burn in the muscles as the body ached for action and release. This moment could last for ever, let it. Iggy chuckled and 77 growled, low and menacing, more than ready to taste a new foe.
"Unit 77 deployed and ready. Permission to engage in probing maneuvers within Zophiel's field of influence?"
Amira monitored the data coming in from the MAGI and from what the readings described, Zophiel wasn't pretty. It had the ability to block any and all electromagnetic waves entering or exiting its large shape. It looked like a large bubble with the reflective capabilities of anything unlike they have ever seen. Just another day on the job.
"Unit 77, do so but proceed with extreme caution. We don't know what exactly Zophiel does and it isn't exactly letting us. Remember, the Geofront is our last line of defense. If you need to pull back then do so, it will give you more time to prepare." Amira said, pondering the situation. She watched Unit 77 closely. If Zophiel did have reflective powers then ranged weapons would be useless until there would be a way to circumvent its bubble. But now, they had to probe it. They didn't have time to spare.
"The rest of the units, I need deployed to the GeoFront ASAP. Get them suited up with extra night vision, search lights, anything that can help them see in that thing. Any unit that doesn't need suiting up intercept Zophiel. Unit-13B assist on the GeoFront. Unit 77 rally any units in the city and begin probing procedures."
Gale heard the alarms, drawing him out of his dream. Gale bolted out of bed, immediately awake and already slamming his own door open. In the weeks that he and Tammy had been living here, it had become more of a home and less of a cell in Gale's mind. A few notebooks lay scattered about on the coffee table, and his backpack lay open in his room, now carrying inside of it textbooks and papers for his classes.
"Tammy wake up! We've got to go now!" Gale shouted, grabbing a jacket from the rack and sprinting out the door and down the steps. He didn't bother to close the door because he knew that Tammy wouldn't be that far behind.
Gale sprinted down the stairs three at a time, hitting the bottom and taking off at a full sprint. Gale didn't know where the angel was, but he was determined to make it to his EVA before the angel made it to the city limits. Gale made it to the locker room fairly quickly, ripping out of his sleeping clothes and donning his black and red plugsuit. Gale then dashed to the EVA hanger and quickly got into the entry plug.
Gale was quickly submerged in the LCL, the same icy chill he had been given every time he got in Reaper fell over him again. Gale sat in silence for a moment as his synch ratio was determined and the multiple tests were run.
Gale smiled, "Unit-75 at the ready ma'am."
Gale launched off into the Geofront, letting his mind wander back to his roommate and wondering if she was already in her EVA as well. The darkness shrouded Gale and unit-75 as they rose through the many levels of the elevator to the surface. Gale's unit wasn't really suited for night-combat, but he was sure that could be fixed with a few searchlights.
People often make the mistake of naming the animalistic mind a simple mind. True, the needs weren't as complex, the goals far more straightforward, but a simple mind did not get fed, a simple mind did not keep its place on the food chain. No, an animal needed a mind like a diamond, clear, focused and full of sharp edges. Iggy calculated. Iggy outside of 77 was not the calculating sort, he acted from his belly and dealt with what came next. But Wendigo was true savage, and it took the churning mass of its young pilots mind and sharpened it, honed it to a fine edge and cut where the cutting mattered.
It came down to resources, what did Iggy have, what did the others have? What were the strengths of the pack and where were the prey's soft spots? The go ahead came from HQ, Boss Lady's voice loud and clear. Within a fraction of a second, something slid into place within Iggy's mind, something like a plan. Too many were defaulting to lights, but that was dangerous, that played into Zophiel's strength. If it could been electromagnetic radiation... fuck, visible light fell within the electromagnetic spectrum, too dangerous to rely on the eyes. Iggy grinned, thankfully there were plenty of other senses at the body's disposal.
Iggy dipped into the torrent, the raging surge of sensory data he had to sublimate every time he sank into 77's psyche to keep from going mad. He imagined pulling one thread from that stream, bringing it back with him into conscious focus. He spoke quick and clear, words as sharp as his thoughts, "82, Daria, you have a MAGI Uplink, yes? Configure it to process low frequency active sonar. I'll do one 30 second run and transmit data to your Eva upon exiting Zophiel's territory, forward the mapped image to the others. Trust no transmissions from within the zone. Heh... I'm a go purr at it."
A Neo-Spartan did not hesitate. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, Iggy knew the danger of trailblazing. 77 was not built for playing the vanguard, they could only hope that the Eva would endure whatever initial assault Zophiel might conjure. Unit 77 slipped into the Angel's territory, into darkness, and almost immediately began to growl. The sound poured from the deep places of the Eva's bestial throat, a frantic low note pulse that sank into the groin and unnerved. It was Iggy's life line, each pulse brought back the flicker of an image. The sound bounced and brought the suggestion of an image. Iggy moved, as quickly as the limited echolocation would allow, thirty seconds ticking away in his head. Perhaps sound would be more difficult for the Angel to pinpoint and counter than an obvious intrusion of light.
"Waters here. Unit-99 is prepped and ready for launch at any time."
Waters had been silent for so long it was almost surprising to hear it speak again. The reclusive pilot had never been far away from the others, but it hadn't been keen on speaking with them. An elephant in the room, so to speak, it merely watched. More than a few nights, D. had spent the time between laying down and sleeping with observing whatever information it could about the other pilots. Tucked safely beneath its bed at home was a small journal. Should one look inside, it would find itself split off into sections by colored index cards. And inside each section, there was a title page dedicated to one of the pilots.
Waters had busied itself by watching the others, taking detailed notes. Sleep schedules, daily routines, preferred foods, favorite topics of discussion, average amount of blinks per minute.
I'm not sure what's most important, the quiet creature thought to itself. So I'd better catalog it all.
The observation period was over, now. D. was settling into a feeling of normalcy. This was more like its days in training than it had been prepared to expect. It had learned so much, and now it only had to decide how to use that information. Bubbles in the LCL lazily drifted past its face as a hand glided over a list of names on the Eva's HUD. All it had to now was choose a name, and tonight the experimentation period could begin...
A finger stretched out, and stroked across a single name. Tamara O'Neil.
A smile twisted across the pilot's flesh, baring pearly white teeth. "You look very fun, Ms. O'Neil..."
Waters' Evangelion was ready to launch, eager to commence and finish the battle. Its pilot had something to look forward to after this, and was quite driven to secure victory.
Blaring klaxons and flashing alarms filled the apartment complex with relentless waves of noise and light. Within seconds, everyone within was galvanized to action, rushing to their respective battle stations or Eva units. Well, at least, almost everyone within did so.
Tammy just pulled a pillow over her head, her still half-asleep mind unwilling to leave the warmth and comfort of her bed. "Sam, Billy," she muttered, unaware that the screams of the alarms were drowning her out, "leave your little sisters alone, and go back to bed, 'kay? We'll talk about it in the morning..."
Deciding that her duties as an older sister had been met, the pilot pulled the pillow and bedsheets even tighter to her, willing herself to fall back asleep. Whatever the problem was, it would still be there in the morn-
"Tammy wake up! We've got to go now!"
At the sound of Gale's shout, Tammy shot straight, her sheets still wrapped around her like some sort of toga. "I'M UP! I'm up, I'm up, I'm up..." she replied, shouting at first but slowly trailing off into quiet muttering. Apparently the problem couldn't wait until tomorrow after all.
Grumbling incoherently to herself, the girl slowly pulled herself out of bed. She briefly considered changing out of her pajamas, but after realizing that she'd just have to put on her plug suit later she decided against it. Besides, it was perfectly okay to wander around dressed in a pair of running shorts and a tank-top, right? At least she wouldn't look as bizarre as some of the other pilots...
So, after recovering her Nerv ID card and making sure that her apartment door was locked (Gale had apparently forgotten to close the door after he left. She'd have to talk to him about that; they couldn't afford to waste perfectly good air conditioning. Well, maybe they could afford it, but it was still a waste of money) the girl half-walked, half-jogged towards the GeoFront, still struggling to get her mind up and running.
"Okay, okay, okay," Tammy asked as the entry plug's LCL began to work its way into her lungs, "so let me get this straight: You're telling me that this Angel blocks out light and radio waves?"
They could have just said that, instead of going on and on about the electro-whatever spectrum...
A shudder ran down Tammy's spine as Unit-73 powered on. That sensation of having another psyche pressing up against her own, of having twice as many bodies and minds... She still couldn't decide if she liked the feeling, or if it was driving her insane.
"The rest of the units, I need deployed to the GeoFront ASAP. Get them suited up with extra night vision, search lights, anything that can help them see in that thing."
"Yes ma'am," Tammy replied as Ms. Uli's command relayed over the radio. To be honest, she was a bit relieved at the commander's decision; getting some extra to equip and get her bearings, even if it was just a little bit, was always appreciated. Besides, it couldn't hurt to take a couple of extra minutes to get synched up with Connla.
58% and rising.
"82, Daria, you have a MAGI Uplink, yes? Configure it to process low frequency active sonar. I'll do one 30 second run and transmit data to your Eva upon exiting Zophiel's territory, forward the mapped image to the others. Trust no transmissions from within the zone. Heh... I'm a go purr at it."
At that, the Evangelion let off a series of growls, using it's nonhuman senses to send sonar pulses through the Angel's A.T. Field. The Sonar image that returned was of something solid within the reflective orb. It was smaller than an Evangelion, made of chiseled geometric shapes. As he approached, the field went down. Unit-77 and the Angel were left staring at each other.
It was kind of cute, in a bizarre way. A small being that appears to be vaguely mechanical. The body was basically a can or cylinder, slightly teardrop shaped, faceted and with an almost-stone-hewn texture. It has one weird limb, like an interlocking assembly of mechanical parts, to which is attached some tool or weapon. Zophiel's core is exposed on it's 'front', near the top and set into a pentagonal crest.
The next thing Iggy knew, Unit-77 was under attack. Hundreds of projectiles lanced into it from below. Entry Plug readings showed penetrations all over it's body, and the Evangelion roared in shock. It was the Ensnarement System, firing hundreds of harpoons and hooks connected to high-tensile cables in an attempt to tether down an Angel and stop it from moving.
At that moment, the Entry Plug HUD also detected an intrusion on the Evangelion's systems. The Umbilical Cable stopped supplying power. The Shoulder Wings were unable to open. The Angel somehow subverts machinery, and was now assuming control of the Eva unit. Unit-77 was berserking to escape the wires, but as it struggled Zophiel was raising Barrier Plates from underground bays.
Alarmingly, there are multiple reports that forces in the city are encountering subverted technological systems. Zophiel exhibits almost more control over man's technology than man itself. Mechanical devices within a certain range will begin to turn against their builders and operators; turrets will fall silent; cables will stop supplying power; phones and computers will become unusable.
In the Command Center, Nerv personnel stared frozen at the screen as the Angel floated over to the very launch systems and cargo elevators that the Evangelions use to launch from the Geofront, ignoring turrets and fortifications as it passes by. As Unit-77 was tearing itself free, the armored doors sealing off the elevator opened, and Zophiel floated down it, bypassing the Geofront barrier.
Bursts of radio chatter filled Unit-73's entry plug, creating a disorganized cacophony as Nerv personnel attempted to find an explanation for the Angel's assault on their systems. Long, fancy, difficult to pronounce words were tossed around like fastballs as some of the brightest minds in the world struggled to describe the phenomenon.
Tammy didn't really see what the problem was. Zophiel could take over any and all types of technology and use them to its advantage. She didn't need some super-complicated explanation to grasp that.
Spinning her newly outfitted Eva (now with brand new high-powered floodlights and a rudimentary sonar systems attached!) around, the pilot headed back to the launch bay, and turned Unit-73's gaze up towards the labyrinthine tunnel system overhead. Those passages spread out all across London-2; even if she had somehow managed to memorize all of their various twists and turns, there was no possible way Tammy could predict which path the Angel would take to get down here.
So, she did the next best thing. How had Iggy put it?
"MAGI-RMD, configure HUD for high-frequency sonar pulses." She may not have understood the specifics of the set-up, but Tammy knew that sound and light-waves functioned on different levels. The Angel wouldn't be able to blind her if she could "see" it without eyes. "Switch visual set-up in 5, 4, 3, 2..."
As the girl trailed off, the entry plug's display flickered for a second, suddenly switching from its standard mode to something quite a bit different. It must have been difficult to translate sound-waves into visual data, but the MAGI system seemed to do a good job of it. To Tammy, it looked like she was suddenly floating inside of a massive 3-D blueprint, like she was in the center of a massive sphere. Color had been reduced to mere black and white, with simplistic, but effective, outlines showing her where things were. A few numbers flashed across the HUD, informing her that the MAGI-RMD was sending out a sonar pulse and updating the display over fifty times a second.
"Huh. Guess this is how a bat feels..." That's basically what this was, right? Echolocation?
Directing her gaze back towards the ceiling, Tammy located the strangely shaped figure, a cylinder just a tad smaller than Unit-73, making its way through the elevator system.
"Okaaaaaaaaaay," she muttered, feeling Connla's raw desire to hunt the intruder butting up against and melding with her own plans. She instinctively fiddled with the controls, and felt her Eva's arms move upwards, resting the stock of its giant rifle against its shoulder and angling it up at a ridiculous degree. There was no way a human could have possibly fired an accurate shot from this posture. But then again, she wasn't exactly a human at the moment, now was she?
As she tracked Zophiel's descent, ready to open fire the instant the Angel left the tunnel's protection, Tammy only had one thing to ask: "Giant chunks of metal traveling at supersonic speeds don't count as technology, right?"
"82, Daria, you have a MAGI Uplink, yes? Configure it to process low frequency active sonar. I'll do one 30 second run and transmit data to your Eva upon exiting Zophiel's territory, forward the mapped image to the others. Trust no transmissions from within the zone. Heh... I'm a go purr at it."
"Roger that" she replied, switching the link over. With any luck she though, they could get a clear image of the beast before it figured at what they were up to. Then, she waited and listened. It was as she was listening that, almost immediately, the link severed itself. She tried to restore the the link, only to receive error messages. When she tried to override them, she heard it.
"do not" it said, its voice resonating within her mind. She was about to send a report of the malfunction when Unit-77 was attacked. Suddenly, the entire landscape seemed to turn against them. the angel was - to the best of her knowledge - commanding the technological capabilities of the city. When she caught sight of Unit-77, she realized it was worse - it was commanding any technology - even Eva operating systems.
Ignoring the voice for the moment, she unlocked her wings so she could grab her knife, then dropped her cannon where she stood: the last thing she needed was extra weight from a weapon which might not work. Finally, she sprinted after the angel, lumping down the elevator shaft the angel had taken with her A. T. Field at full strength right in front of her.
She would, as the saying went, "gut it like a fish".
V-3 gripped the controls tightly and reined in Unit-39, waiting for the floodlights and the like to be fitted as Unit-77 went ahead only to be trapped in a cage of humanity's own making. Todestrieb urged the clone forward, it wanted to dive into the darkness, wanted to end it, wanted to destroy. Still, V-3 refused and dropped the rocket launcher. There was no point in fighting if the enemy would respond with a hostile takeover. Daria seemed to have the same idea, she had dropped her weapon and... What? She had decide to charge!? He understood why, but it was suicide to go at it alone. V-3 stopped opposing Todestrieb's will and joined Daria in her charge - his target: the strange mechanical limb of the Angel. Unit-39 would enjoy ripping it off. Both pilot and Eva were in a state of contentment as they ran towards the Angel, only just behind Unit-82. If the charge didn't work, at least there was the self-destruct...
Gale and unit-75 sat with newly equipped floodlights aimed at the ceiling, trained on the many elevator shafts that led down to the geofront from London-2. Gale's mind that had wandered before was now crystal clear, the icy chill given to him by his Evangelion helping him to focus on the enemy before him. Comm chatter had been bouncing around in the Evangelion for a few minutes now, ever since the angel had actually made it into the city limits. Gale could only sit and watch the many entrances to the geofront, his eyes scanning the top of the cavern. A few bursts of radio chatter reported that unit-77 had been attacked by the angel and was struggling to free himself up top with the help of unit-82.
Get ready Reaper... it looks like this night has only just started. Gale thought to himself as he tightened his grip on the battle rifle, his finger hovering over the trigger.
The weeks kind of blended together after a while. Living aay from his family was a strange new thing for Jamie at first but it wasn't as if they were far away and he was at least allowed to contact them regularly. His flat mate on the other hand was what Mum would have called "An odd duck."
Ortwin was quiet and kept to himself and his books, though he was never rude or mean there was definitely a wall between the two of them. He didn't even wait for Jamie when the alarms started blurring. Yeah sure the two of them had been living pretty separate lives but come on! This was different!
Jamie was the last pilot to get to the locker room and the last to scramble into his suit. He ran full pelt down the clinical corridors to get to his EVA (which he still needed to think of a more memorable name for than 67... Legs...maybe?). The boy was already damp from sweat even before he was submerged in the weird goo that filled up the drivers seat. He told himself it was from running so much but he knew nerves had played their part too. deep down. The numbers went up and up and up. A Shiver went down Jamie's spine, stopping short of his legs but he'd been in training in the weeks between attacks. It had taken a lot of effort but syncing his senses up with 67 didn't scare him like it did before... it was still weird but it didn't bring him out in sudden panic like it did before. 67 didn't seem to care.
The two of them were pushing 90% and everything was checking out. "This is Jamie and 67 checking in. We are up and ready to go!" He yelled, bleary eyed and raring to go... and totally oblivious to what was going on up above.
Amira cursed their reliance to technology as scores of personnel worked on trying to regain control of the subsystems that Zophiel was taking over one by one. This Angel had complete control of technology around much like how Kushiel absorbed the electricity around it. She watched as their own Entrapment system snare Unit-77 and effectively taking it out of the fight. She considered flooding the systems with Balkelite as a last resort but as of now, the EVA units were all either deployed at the Geo-Front or pursuing Zophiel through the tunnels. Although, even here the effects of the Angel could be felt. The local sensors are going haywire with teams of staff trying to get a hold of it. The only semi-reliable forms of information were the MAGI-links installed into some of the EVA's and right now it looked like Unit-77 had caught sight of Zophiel. Amira tried to comprehend why Unit-77 would charge the angel but right now they had the location of the Angel.
"Send the location of Unit-77 to the rest of the team." Amira commanded then she switched to the EVA comms.
"The angel's been taking over the local systems. I'm not sure how long we can maintain radio contact. Unit-13B, new orders, proceed into the tunnels and take Unit-67 along with Unit-75. We're going to need a provisional unit in there and a skirmisher is always handy in a fight. Everybody else, I want you to hold position unless told otherwise. You're our last line of defense if things go south."
Zophiel came floating down the elevator shaft. Tammy was the first to respond, firing a hail of rounds. It blocked them with it's A.T. Field, but moved to avoid her. This Angel, frightening as it was, seemed to be trying to evade the Evas, floating away from them when they approached, raising it's EM-block A.T. Field. Zophiel is not designed to stand up in a direct assault.
Unit-73 was next to be subverted. Tammy's Entry Plug was flashing with warnings as the Evangelion was being taken over. But before the Entry Plug went dark, Daria's Eva rushed past her, leaping across the shaft, Progressive knife in hand. The Angel was unprepared for it, and she latched onto it in mid air. More of Tammy's bullets tore across it, leaving a deep groove in it's side, near the core. 82 was being subverted as she did, but V-3 in Todestrieb was right behind her, landing on top of it. Zophiel tried to wave them off, but Daria climbed up to it, using her A.T. Field to hold it in place, ready to bring her knife down directly onto it's exposed core.
Suddenly, Daria's visual went pitch black. Unit-82 was in total darkness. Frantically she tried to locate the core, but Zophiel raised it's mechanical limb, and a large needle came out at the end. When the reflective bubble came down, Unit-82 had been harpooned through the throat, and Daria could feel something being injected into her unit. The Evangelion went numb, muscular control shut down, and she slipped off, falling down the elevator until finally she landed in the Eva hangar.
Zophiel turned it's weapon on Todestrieb, but V-3 was ready. He caught the harpoon in the Eva's hand, and staring straight at Zophiel, crushed the the appendage in it's palm. With the other arm he hammered the Angel's mechanical limb, breaking it apart. The Angel tried to escape, Todestrieb pummeling the core with its fists. It came into the Geofront, where the other Evas were running up to them. The Angel was cornered.
But the turrets around Nerv base came to life, turning to face the Evangelions. Zophiel finally escaped, raising the reflective A.T. Field, opening another set of fortified doors and disappearing down another launch bay. Humanity's own defenses rained down on them.
"Dammit, missed my chance!" Mark cursed as the Angel went back to hide in the myriad of tunnels that cut through the surrounded the Geofront. He had spent all the time since being deployed measuring the variables that would effect his positron rifle, and watching the data incoming about Zophiel's AT field. However, Big Roger's massive size and the bulk of his Megaframe made fighting in the tunnels extremely disadvantageous.
Regardless, the Evas in the Geofront were in danger, and Mark was in a position to lend a hand. "Barrier territory, raise!" Channeling his focus into precise calculations, Unit 13-B was enable to erect panels of its AT field to block the incoming barrage. When one area was clear, a panel would disappear, only to "reappear" in another spot where it was needed.
The Evas within a large radius of Unit 13-B could not be damaged by the hijacked turrets, but the unit itself could not move, as its focus was directed completely towards AT manipulation.
Gale tried to move aside but the barrage was already too close. Gale managed to duck to one knee and try to take cover behind some of the trees but he knew that it wasn't going to do him any good. Gale close his eyes and waited for the inevitable explosions to tear through his unit and get to him, but that explosion never came. Instead, Gale heard the sound of explosions, but never felt the impact. Gale opened his eyes to see one of the other pilots standing with its Eva and deploying their AT field. Gale took a brief second to regroup with the other Eva's taking a tactical assessment of the situation before going to make his decision. Gale saw that two of the Eva's were down, and unit-82 wasn't going to be moving anytime soon.
"Unit-13 B, I owe you one because you just saved my life." Gale said on a private channel to the pilot of the blue and red evangelion.
Gale stood up and checked his ammunition, still almost a full clip in his rifle since he only managed to pop a few shots off before the angel was attacked by the other pilots. Gale nodded mostly to himself, checking to make sure his umbilical cord was still connected and that he was getting powered before looking over at the tunnel that the angel disappeared down after having its arm ripped off by unit-39.
"Alright, which units are still operational?" Gale asked, looking around at the many sentry turrets around the geofront. "We need to form up and push toward that tunnel the angel disappeared down."
"HQ is there some way to shut down those turrets to give unit-13B some relief?"
The night had been relatively quiet, paperwork seemed to dominate her days and sometimes, since she left it to pile up, this night as well. Looking over the latest security reports pertaining to door maintenance and inventory of the armory, the alarm sounded. While she was relieved to be torn away from the monotonous duty of paperpushing that had become half of her life, there was another emotion quickly brought to the forefront of her mind. And that was anxiety. Another one of the Angels had been spotted, and somehow had circumvented their sensors until it was practically in NERV HQ, and if that wasn't enough, the pilots were still minutes away running, and even more before their Eva's were operational.
Running through the corridors of the base, she zipped up her uniform and straightened the jacket, this was no time to be out of sorts. Speaking into her radio, she ordered her security officers to let the pilots through without question, and any nearby the lockers, to facilitate their swift departure. Finally, just as she was about to enter the switched the channel to one reserved specifically for the pilots and ordered their immediate awakening if they had failed to hear the awful alarm in their sleep.
"Captain Nierek, make sure everything is locked down and secured. We don't know how fast the Angel is going to be on us I don't want it arriving to an open base. And get those pilots moving."
"Already done Director,"She said, strapping the radio back to her belt,"Everything has been prepared."
Watching Zopiel's powers however, she couldn't help but wonder if her orders had truly been heard on the other side of the machine that was so prized on-base for communication. Her early career had hinged on not really knowing if what was planned and assumed was actually done or not, and this simply set her back to those days, there was nothing she could do on a base this large besides send runners, but everyone at HQ was needed, despite the fact that almost every monitor was having bouts of static as the creature moved closer.
After seeing Unit-77's initial assault and their own precautions being used against them, and realizing immediately what the monster at their very doorstep intended to do, she left Command at a breakneck pace,running through the halls, radio in hand, hoping that the signal continued to hold out and that it didn't have the power of intercepting their transmissions.
"All security personnel, seal the doors to the elevator systems, by HAND IF YOU MUST! Any obstacle you put in this Zophiel's way buys us that much more time to defeat this bastard! YOU hear me!? CLOSE THE DAMN DOORS, SEAL OUR EVAS INSIDE, THEY CAN HANDLE THEMSELVES! IF YOU SEE ONE FALL, GET OUR PILOTS OUT OF THEIR TUBES AND GET THEM TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM. Do not, I REPEAT, do NOT engage the Angel."
A rather satisfying crunch echoed throughout the tunnels as Zophiel was relived of its limb. The Angel had made the mistake of showing its little trick with the harpoon to the pair and the limb was simply the price had to pair to that. Unit-39 let the needle, and the limb with it, and went straight for the core. Nevertheless, it withstood the punches. However, just as V-3 was going to open the shoulder wing and reach for Progressive Knife inside, the Angel slipped away. The Eva turned around, and saw a volley of missiles approaching. Todestrieb welcomed and awaited the eventual collision. But the pilot inside was distracted by a message from another pilot, and the missiles themselves were blocked by another Unit's A.T. Field.
"Alright, which units are still operational? We need to form up and push toward that tunnel the angel disappeared down."
"Unit-39 here. Status: Operational." V-3 automatically replied, "Currently the nearest to the Angel's position. Pursue target?" The clone took the chance to equip his Progressive Knife. His mind went back to the charge, Unit-82 had taken that harpoon and he had used her and her A.T. Field as a shield of sorts into order to strike. He should have been the shield! That was his designated role! The clone decided to open up a private channel and left it short and sweet, "I acknowledge my error." He quickly cut it off, and hoped that was enough. Then again, when he had said that to the NERV staff back in Germany, they had reacted dramatically. They had shouted and screwed up their faces. Unit-82's pilot would probably do the same thing.
Amira's temper flared as Zophiel took command of their own turrets as a way to escape the EVAs. It was now inside the tunnels once more with Unit-13B blocking the missiles with his A.T. field. Unit-82 had landed in the launch bay causing some damage to the facility but that the least of her concerns.
"HQ is there some way to shut down those turrets to give unit-13B some relief?"
"I'm not going to lie to you. Zophiel excels in taking over nearby technology and the turrets are under its control. We're going to try and shut them down but in the mean time, move forward and hunt down Zophiel. The faster you complete the objective, the less damage the turrets will inflict." Amira said to the pilots. The base was now frantic with personnel trying to get fruitlessly gain control of the hijacked turrets. Captain Nierek ran off in an effort to rescue Daria and seal off any the hole left from its fall from the tunnels. In moments like this, it paid to remain calm, assess the situation and make a decision. She just hoped that the pilots would make the right one.
"Da-dammit," Tammy cursed, both her body and voice shaky. Zophiel's near takeover of Unit-73 had rattled her pretty good; even after the Eva's systems had recovered, her synch-ratio had plummeted to a mere 38%. Connla was still responding to her commands, and she could still feel its mind yearning for the Angel's blood, but their link was incredibly weak. If she wanted to actually do something, then she needed to get her head back in the game ASAP. That was all there was too it.
"Barrier territory, raise!"
Luckily, Mark and 13-B had provided some much needed backup, giving Tammy some protection from the Geofront's now hostile turrets. Hundreds of shells and missiles pounded into his A.T. Field, but apparently Mark was significantly more skilled than she was at maintaining the Fields under pressure. "Thanks, Mark," she said gratefully, allowing herself to sag back in her seat. "Would've been toast without ya."
But Zophiel was just getting further and further away... Was she really content to just stay here, safe behind everyone else without doing anything to fight? Daria and Iggy were already in trouble, and there was no telling what else the Angel could do. There were no two ways about it; she had to do her bit to bring it down.
"'I will continue', right?" Tammy muttered, casting a glance at the paralyzed Unit-82. Continuing to fight when some of her comrades were injured still left a bad taste in her mouth, but what choice did she have? "Okay. So let's keep going."
The Angel was already making its way down the next set of launch bays, and with the turrets raining hellfire down on them Tammy wasn't sure if she'd be able to get a good shot at the Angel, let alone its core. She had neither the training or talent to shoot accurately while moving; odds are anything she fired would miss by a mile.
So, all she had to do, she decided, was get to a position where she could aim properly.
Wasting no time, Tammy retrieved the spare ammo magazine from Connla's shoulder, ejected the spent one from the rifle, and reloaded. Then, after chambering a round, she pushed the Eva to its feet and stared at the elevator shaft the Angel was currently descending. That was her target.
And she wasn't going to stop until she had hit it with everything she had.
"Eject umbilical power cable!"
Letting out a ferocious battle cry, Tammy sent her Eva hurtling over the A.T. Field barrier with a single fantastic leap. Almost immediately, she was showered with a spray of explosive projectiles. Though they were relatively small, they still packed a hell of a punch, and in such large numbers they still posed a significant threat. So she kept moving, charging forward the instant she touched ground in an attempt to escape the brunt of the assault.
It took a few seconds for the Eva to really speed up, its sub-par construction dragging its acceleration out to an almost lethal degree. During that time, Tammy could feel the missiles slamming into her; even at 62%, each impact felt like a fist crunching into her body.
But the instant she really got moving, she was out of it. Even an Eva like Unit-73 could move if it really needed, and the turrets, even with all their fancy aiming gadgets, would have a hell of a time keeping up.
Then, the mouth of the elevator shaft loomed before her, its massive steel doors still wide open. There was no time to slow down; she had to make do with skidding to a shuddering halt at the hole's lip. But slowing down a hundred thousand tons of mech was far easier said than done. Though its feet dug deep furrows into the concrete, Unit-73 still hurtled over the edge, into the shaft, and slammed into the far wall. The impact was hard enough to put a sizable dent into the wall and knocked the air from Tammy's lungs (or it would have, if said lungs weren't full of LCL), and the Eva began to fall down the shaft, towards the sphere of shadow and darkness below.
Exactly as planned.
Driving Unit-73's free fist into the concrete, Tammy brought their descent to a stop. Then, bracing the Eva's feet against the wall, she twisted around, using its remaining limb to aim the rifle down at Zophiel's outline. At the pentagonal shape set into its front. And even with her lungs partially deflated, the pilot still managed to muster up a grim smile.
"Gotcha," she muttered as she pulled the trigger.