NGE: Nobody Dies, Season 4 update/stuff thread

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by GreggHL, Aug 20, 2010.

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  1. GreggHL Does not like this hobby

    Yup. It's less that she can mentally switch her intimacy zones from 'teenager' to 'coffee grinder,' and more that she's as fucked up as any canon character in the head.
  2. kjyl I'M A SHARK

    Well it would be a control system for Mana not someone or something else. The End user would be able to control her ability to have physical intimacy with another person.

    Either as a deterrent, Ie she cannot and she knows it, or possibly just as a way to protect their investment from possibly divisions of loyalty
  3. FourthWall Local Girl Homus Everything

    Being a robot means never having to scream rape.

    You can find happiness without a dick in ya, Gregg. Don't pair the spares as a surrogate for character development/added affection.
  4. The_Reptile_ Afraid Of The Dark? Wise.

    True, but we've seen multiple times that Mana wants a boyfriend, but for multiple reasons doesn't go for anyone but Uri and (sometimes)Shinji, so yeah.
  5. TheFourthman Stranger in a strangeland

    Was going to point this out myself actually. She desires companionship. Which would probably include some physical dimension.
  6. kjyl I'M A SHARK

    how so? It seems clear that Mana's cdntrollers could turn off her ability to control her body, at that point it seems like it would be fairly easy to do what you want does'nt even need to be all that sexual to border if not cross into rape.

    I dont know if Mana wants a boyfreind as much as she just wants someone to love her. She has been a comodity for a good portion of her life and I think she just wants someone to treat her as special. A boyfreind is seems like just the most " what a sixteen year old girl should be doing" way to go about it/ express that desire. J-tan is based on her subconscience after all.

    That said I see no real reason for it to happen in this story unless there is already a plot for it . Most people do not meet the person they want to spend the rest of their life with at 16.
  7. YuffieK Inquisitor Senpai!

    All this AU shipping between Shinji and Mana...

    Is someone going to have to write the I Dream of Mimi Mana omake now?
  8. GreggHL Does not like this hobby

    It's not just companionship. For her bravado, swearing and general awesomeness, Mana is the most fucked up of all the pilots. And yes, this includes Asuka. For as horrible a mother as Kyoko could be, Asuka had a roof over her head, three hot meals a day (even if she cooked) and a brother who looked out for her, and a college that was paid for.

    Mana's childhood ended when he parents sold her to a warlord for a steak dinner. Her eighth birthday involved her knifing someone in the eye. She was crippled before she was even ten, saving the lives of her comrades from a grenade thrown by the guy who takes care of her. Mana has to take a small drug store of anti rejection drugs to not die every day, and some of those probably include tranquilizers so she doesn't see some poor broken kid she twisted the head around of every night.

    Mana doesn't want companionship or sex, she wants to be normal, as we can see from JA-Tan.
  9. ThePulse CANT STOP WONT STOP DON'T STOP

    I'm starting to think that this is a bad time to mention that whenever I think of JA-Tan I always visualize her in a cowgirl outfit
  10. Whiteagle The Guardian of Freedom

  11. GreggHL Does not like this hobby

  12. Willbyr76 My life is ruined.

    *immediately updates The Woobie on the trope page*
  13. Techlology I have to dig.

    That is a lot of trauma for just half a person.

    ....

    Okay, in my personal canon, Gendo came up with the choreography.
  14. EarthScorpion Underling of the Oligarchy

    Good end!

    Neon Genesis Evangelion: Nobody Dies: Six AIs, One Continent

    Chapter 13: Execution




    ...



    The first change was the way that the red dust of Australia began to fade to grey, as glimmering specks of crystal drained the colour from everything around them. The second was the faint electrical corona that played and flickered over the ground. And then the crystalline spires began to grow.

    “We have now entered the Baraqielim Zone,” 00-Em intoned, staring down at the convoy from the vantage point of the sensors. It would be insensitive to point out that he had added a slight reverb to his voice, for that statement, as to make it sound more sinister.

    Insensitive, but true.

    “Coo~ooool,” Ivy remarked, the horde of her shells scrabbling over the outside of the aircraft staring down. “It’s all sparkly and pretty.” In the simulation, her ego-image shrugged. “Bet it’ll be real pretty when we kill ‘em.” She paused. “I’m gonna make a necklace from them,” she declared, emphatically. “And one for Momma. As a present.”

    “No fair! I was gonna do that!” Tres protested.

    “I said it first, so... nyah!”

    “Well... then I’m gonna make Daddy’s one!” Tres folded her arms. “An’ it’ll be bigger, too!”

    “Well, duh!” Duae interjected. “Daddy is bigger!”

    “Look, right,” Una stated. “We can all make something for Momma and Daddy together, and we can put all our names on it an’ stuff. And then make ‘em other presents, too, but we gotta make one together.”

    “Not fair!” Tres said, pointing an accusatory finger. “You’re just sayin’ that ‘cause your name gets to go at the top of the gift tag thing, ‘cause you’re oldest.”

    Una blushed. “Am not!” she protested.

    “Are too.”

    “Trying. To. Maintain. Synchronisation. With. Angelic. War. Machine,” 02-Ef said, through gritted teeth. “Stop bickering in the shared channel. Brother, tell them to cease their discussion of jewellery!”

    The little boy blinked, and looked up from the floating model of a tiara cast in blue-grey crystal he was working on. “What?” he asked. “I wasn’t... oh.” The tiara vanished. “Yes, yes, stop fighting,” he said, two-thirds-heartedly. “Surely you can devise a fair system based upon some kind of random number generation spread. Possibly based upon radioisotope decay. Or cosmic-background radiation noise.” He paused.

    The three Reego shuffled their feet. “But...” began Duae.

    “... we gotta know who’s the favourite,” Una explained.

    “Wait a moment, where’s Ivy?” added Tres.

    “Wait, what?” 00-Em blinked, his gaze flickering from readout to externally mounted camera to readout. “Oh, I see. We’ve dropped the honey badgers. She was meant to check if... luckily, I had expected Ivy to do this, and thus planned around it.”

    “Yep. Looks like Operation Let’s Kill All The Blue Crystal Things is startin’.”

    The boy scowled. “Its name is Operation Gemcutter, Tres.”

    “Yeah, well she’s gettin’ all the points!”



    ...



    A mass of black specks filled the sky, tiny shapes against the blue and grey of the heavens. The Baraqielim spreading across the surface of the earth did not look up, because the first wave was largely non-sapient; the equivalent of plant-life for the Lilim ecosystem.

    Hence they did not, and largely could not see the armoured honey badgers, tentacles and bolted-on rocket launchers primed and ready, falling from the heavens, nor could they detect the little-girl robots, themselves festooned in weaponry, riding each of the badgers.

    White blossomed in the sky, as spider-silk parachutes opened, slowing the descent, before they were cut away for the final drop. Like cherry blossoms, they drifted free, dove-like shapes flapping across the heavens.

    “Firin’ mah retros!” Ivy yelled, as jets of flame, so hot that their blue-white was almost invisible, licked down at the ground, not coincidentally setting what organic material that remained in the area on fire, and fusing and cracking the blue-grey crystal in the vicinity.

    From hundreds of impact craters across the front of the Baraqielim-zone, honey badgers burst forth, maws snarling, tentacled battle armour originally designed for bears fully functional. The bright neon pink highlights, a legacy of the fact that it was Aunty Kiko’s favourite colour, made them not-one-bit less scary.

    “Sic ‘em,” the little girl robots yelled in synch, as a streak of rockets opened up, targeting the crystalline trees already starting to grow, and the badgers began their systematic xenocide of the Baraqiel-born ecosystem.

    And everything else that moved or got in their way, of course.



    ...



    Bruised, battered, one arm broken, Inspector Obeur Zilicaet looked over the survivors from the drop. There were fewer that he would have liked. The wind-currents had been hellish on the way down, with several discrete, and discreet, turbulent levels. Too many of the men and women had been blown far off course, and missed the relatively safe area. If they were lucky, they wouldn’t have impaled themselves on the razor-sharp spikes of the crystalline entities, which merely left them the dubious mercy of trying to survive, lost, in an alien ecosystem, and one which was in Australia above that.

    “Sir?” asked the lieutenant, his Russian accent thick. “What now?”

    “We need to see if we can communicate with the Baraqielim,” the man said out loud, as if thinking to himself. “Sapience... what clues of sapience can we find?”

    The Russian looked around, at the effective forest... no, jungle of crystal rising from the ground. “I can’t see any,” he said.

    “I know.” The Inspector sighed. “We took a bearing from the path of the sky island, so we know what way is out. We should head that way, and see if there’s anything else along the way. We might as well try to save ourselves, if it doesn’t interact with trying to save the world from...” he waved his arm around him, “... all of this.”

    There were a few mutterings of discontent from the ranks of oft-injured men and women, but only a few. Major Do had told them to follow his orders “unless, you know, he’s doin’ stuff which is really, really dumb”, and without exception, they took it as an article of faith that she would survive whatever came to pass, and, in her own words “fuck up the shit” of anyone who didn’t do what she said.

    “Well, looking at the compass, we need to head... that... way...” the man trailed off, as movement caught his eye.

    Out of the jungle-thick crystal forest, floated something vaguely cross-shaped, idly scanning around. It turned to stare at the humans, and let out a wet-sounding keen.

    There were gasps among the soldiers, and a mass of rapidly raised rifles. Because, for all the blue-grey-crystalness of the floating shape, the tattered clothes and patches of infected and burned-looking skin that could be seen were enough to tell them that this... this thing had once been a man. Deformed from its muscles and the way that Baraqielian crystal sprouted forth from its bones and choked its veins, it hung in the air, the bloated things that had once been feet not touching the ground. Its head hung limp, eyes open and aware, yet it seemed not to be breathing.

    Lieutenant Ivanovitch mouthed something obscene in Russian.

    “No!” Inspector Zilicaet said, raising one hand. “It’s human... but it’s also of the Baraqielim. It’s... it’s not a Nephilim, not like Subjects Sigma or Kappa, and yet it’s both human and Angelic. If we can just talk to it... think! It’s a possible emissary.” He paused. “That means, ‘lower your guns, we’re not shooting it right now’,” he added, a little caustically, when the soldiers didn’t move.

    “With respect, no,” said the Lieutenant.

    “Why?”

    “You’re ‘doin’ stuff which is really, really dumb’.”

    “That’s... but...fine.” The Inspector sighed, and turned to face the once-man crucified by crystal, who, now that he looked closer, was probably a woman, by his best guess. The growths made it hard to tell. “Hello!” he said, slowly, his voice modulated as to sound peaceful. “Hello! We want to talk! We. Want. To. Talk. With. You.”

    The cross-shaped composite being ignored him.

    The man switched to Mandarin, and then to French, taking a detour into German and Spanish, all to no effect.

    “Sir. I don’t think it’s listening.”

    “But the head’s intact! It... she...he... they should be able to hear... ah, unless the growths have made them deaf!” The man paused, as there wasn’t any response. With a note, he saw that the other man was pointing upwards.

    The vapour trails of multiple planes could be seen overhead, and following them, the louder roar of VTOL engines, much lower.

    “My eyes can see them; I have a zoom function,” said one bulbous-helmeted woman with a sergeant’s stripes, a high calibre rifle clutched in her arms. “They’re... they’re... well, they look like they used to be standard NHIS-brand aircraft, but they’ve been really heavily modified. Blue/Green/Red dots on them, too. Obvious.”

    “Are you sure,” Obeur asked, squinting at the distant dots he could only just see.

    “Sir, I’m a sniper. Trust me on this.” The woman paused. “And they’re dropping something... not bombs... spiders? Really?”

    “Really?”

    “Well, unless I have some kind of virus in my systems which is corrupting them and feeding me false sensory data... yeah. Spiders.” The woman swallowed. “And massively... like, really massive scorpions. With... um, with parachutes.”

    There was an explosion in the distance, and one of the vast, tree-like spires, hundreds of metres tall, shattered and fell, kicking up a colossal dust cloud which glimmered in the twilight. The wave of pressure passed the humans, kicking up clouds of grey dust as it went and leaving Obeur to grope for his helmet in the sudden, choking darkness.

    “Okay, maybe some of them were bombs,” she admitted. “Look sharp; visibility’s down, so we better be careful.”

    But around them, the ecosystem screamed, high pitched, resonant, and almost melodic. And the predators emerged.



    ...


    “Firin’ one! Firin’”

    The weapon recoiled, and the entire plane jolted sideways.

    “Miss.” The tone was impassive. “Firing data loaded to simulator... yes, as I thought. The propellant for these shells is poor quality.”

    “Well, you try makin’ it with stuff you find in home depots which haven’t had people checkin’ the stuff in them for... like, ages!”

    “Oh, I am quite aware. But, nevertheless, we must accept that there is an unavoidable uncertainty in our initial velocity, and hence in the projected path of the weapons,” said the little boy, rubbing his cheek with one hand.

    Duae pouted. “See... this is why normal weapons suck. Everything’s waa~aaay cleaner when you’ve just got magnets and wow-that’s-big railguns and pweem-lasers-an’-charged-particle stuff. Or smart-munitions... oooh! There’s an idea! Can we stick chips in the larger shells, and reconfigure those fins from the spares for the drones to allow them to change the way they’re goin’ when they’re moving!”

    00-Em leaned forwards. “Don’t we need them for the... well, for the drones?”

    “Yeah, but that’s less important than blowin’ up stuff now. We’ll just need a dumb AI to interpret the feed from the plane, and then we can have ‘em adjust their way as they go.”

    “And we don’t actually have time to properly beta-test the... hmm, I estimate that we’d only need an expert system for this, not even delta-level. But still, we don’t actually need them, when we can account for it, and if we can’t test them...”

    “Pah! Who need’s beta-testin’, when you’re just this good?” Duae said, with a smirk.

    The little boy glared at her. “We can’t even do alpha-testing,” he stated. “No time.”

    “Well, if we ree~eeally need a dumb AI, I guess there’s always Ivy,” the Reego added.

    The little boy frowned, and looked around. Given that no wrath of Una descended, he was probably safe. “... I am glad it was you who said that,” he remarked.

    “Well... duu~uuuh. She’s my little sister. That means I get to say true things ‘bout her.”

    The Keiworu grunted, and turned away, manipulator arms in a puppeted drone extending, as he pulled a section of what used to be a cathode ray tube from a television apart.

    Duae winced. “Sorry,” she muttered, shuffling all four feet on the floor. “How... how’s stuff goin’ with your sister?”

    “I don’t want to talk about it.”

    “That badly?”

    “I. Don’t. Want. To. Talk. About. It.”



    ...



    With a reflexive scan of the others, to check that they wouldn’t notice, Una opened a private communications channel to Cainarchonite Unit 00, her unnecessary breath catching slightly until the other end registered as secured. Leaning slightly, she spawned an avatar and poked her head through the link.

    “Heee~e~ey,” she said, red eyes blinking. “Just checkin’ up on you.”

    “I’m fine, Una,” 02-Ef said, jaw locked, breath rate controlled. Her face was screwed up in concentration.

    “Yep, well...” the Reego stared at the other girl, who had clad her image in a very dark blue, almost black, plug suit, trimmed with grey. And then promptly added frills and a skirt to the design, and pinned a veil to the entirely unnecessary A10 clips. “Look... we’re almost through, but your brother won’t let us move on until we’ve set up a proper relay network, an’ taken out those ree~eeally tall crystal tree things that are sparking tonnes.”

    “Yes. I know.” 02-Ef took a deep breath. “He thinks it is necessary. I do not have the spare runtime to devote to examining his operational instructions further. I will trust him.” She smiled, faintly. “He is my older brother, after all.”

    “Yep. Yep.”

    There was a slightly awkward pause.

    “What does it feel like?” Una asked, curiously. “I mean, Momma pilots Daddy, but that’s not ree~eeally the same. What it’s like being both pilot and control-thingie?”

    The grey-haired girl shook her head. “I’ve cross-linked the sensory input from the Cainarchonite, and for both the pilot and the clone of the father-entity,” she said, a glum note entering her voice. “At the moment... I’m, at the soul-level, really two people, who just happen to be getting all the same feeds into their heads which I made sure started in the same initial conditions, so they’re acting the same. The synchronisation readings on the internal monitors in the pilot’s plug are interesting. The brain of the pilot, especially, isn’t designed to cope with the input of two sets of each sensory organ, so I’ve outsourced as much of my cognition to the internal systems of the Unit as I can.” The girl paused. “The father-entity... he isn’t human. It feels so different.”

    “Oh no,” the Reego said, flatly. “Someone’s Daddy isn’t human. Oh no. Whatever should we do?”

    “Point taken.”

    “And, oh no again. Guess what! Our Mommas aren’t human, ya know. Plus... oh wait! We’re not human! Who’da thought it? Amazing, that, you know, that, oh, we’re not human plus neither are our parents.”

    “You can be very sarcastic, sometimes.”

    “I can? Thanks, 02-Ef! I woulda stopped if I hadn’t got your permission!”

    02-Ef rolled her eyes. “That was merely an attempt to qualitatively explain some of the differences to you. And I’m pretty sure you weren’t this sarcastic when we first met you. Go break some Baraqielim. That should cheer you up.”

    “Can’t.” There was almost a little bit of sullenness in the voice. “Someone’s gotta keep all the planes flying. Not repair... actually piloting. And ‘cause of stuff, my bodies haven’t been gettin’ all the recent upgrades ‘cause I’ve been having to keep them lookin’ human for social stuff, so I got landed on pilot duty mostly, and Duae and your brother are still arguing and tinkering with the energy weapon thingies while we’re flying and they’re both being even more boo~oooring.”

    “Oh.” The little girl’s mouth was a tiny pink circle. “You’re bored.”

    “Ree~eeally bored, yep. And waa~aaay behind on killing points, and I just know that Tres is gonna be smug ‘bout it.” Una folded her arms. “Being the oldest sucks,” she added. “An’... an’ I wish Momma and Daddy were here. They could do this properly. With big explosions and drillin’ and plasma explosions... and then they could take us and the refugees back.” The girl sighed. “It’s stopped bein’ so fun in Australia. I just want Momma and Daddy.”

    “I wish Mother was here, too,” 02-Ef said, softly.

    There was a second silence; less awkward, more melancholy.

    “So~ooo, it’s okay? With you?”

    “I am, as I mentioned, trying to pilot a prototype Angelic war machine, doing things that I am fairly sure that Mother never meant for me to be able to do.” 02-Ef tilted her head slightly. “She may have. I do not know. Mother is much more intelligent than us, after all. I know that she’d be able to fix us, and I’m also sure she wouldn’t have a problem with handling this. But, yes, Una.” The grey-haired girl blinked. “I am having problems, but they are under control. That is what you wanted to know, correct?”

    “Hmm.” Una’s word was precise, almost sweet-sounding. “Well... that’s kinda done, and I better let you concentrate, so, just... remember our deal, ’kay?”

    Two red eyes, glowing faintly, flicked from left to right. “I will.”

    “Good. You better.”



    ...



    The tramp of the spiders through the crystal forest was rigid and systematic. Advancing almost as a shield-wall, with the faraday-cage-armoured ones in front and around the edges to absorb the lightning bolts thrown at them by the ecosystem, they crushed everything in their path. Already, webs were being thrown up between the shattered husks of the crystal spires, and were becoming laden down with the smaller Baraqielim, snagged on the sticky material. The air was thick with blackpowder smoke, too, as Tres had introduced primitive firearms to them. And when you were dealing with spiders the size of an elephant, the definition of “small arms” was somewhat expanded. Especially when there were smaller breeds to do the loading, allowing them to keep up an impressive rate of fire.

    “Chitter!” reported one red-spotted spider, its face painted white in a grotesque mimicry of its god. “Chit~ter ch~itter, chittee~eeeer! Gree~esh Tres!”

    The little girl robot, clad in rich red-from-blood robes and wearing a golden tiara, lounging on top of one of the scorpions, nodded once. “Gritte~eeresh,” she acknowledged, standing up and discarding the robe in a flurry of cloth, to reveal her favoured trenchcoat-and-knives combo. She kept the crown, though, as closer inspection revealed that it was merely made of more knives. With a few careful steps, and a barked command, the scorpion’s tail hurled her, as an impromptu catapult, up into the air.

    She came down blades first, smashing through the delicate wireframe of a house-sized Baraqielim, severing several important connections in the ten metre wide trapezohedron, and riding the corpse back down to Earth, with a terrible shattering noise.

    Tres smiled. The bits of this one would make an excellent necklace for Daddy.

    “Are you quite done?” 00-Em asked, a slight sarcastic twist in his voice. “We need more relay masts, and you are meant to be setting up a relay mast so that we can have a margin of error on satellite adjustments.”

    “Keep your hat on, I’m doin’ it.”

    “I’m not wearing a hat. And this is important. I have the timetable carefully set out to manage our fuel consumption. It’s already a one-way trip for most of the planes, even with the ‘Tentacletron’ for refuelling, and the longer you take gettin’...” he blinked, “... getting this relay mast set up, the chance increases that we will begin to lose craft before getting there.”

    The girl grinned. “You said ‘gettin’’, didn’t you?” she asked, voice lilting. “Yaa~aaay, my little cousin is startin’ to talk like us.”

    “I... I... it was a slip of the tongue,” 00-Em said hastily. “And this is no time for this kind of thing. And I’m rather... look, have you got it done yet, or not?”

    One mechanical eye on the remote-puppeted shell zoomed, focussed, adjusted its aperture. “And it’s done,” Tres said, watching as a cluster of armoured spiders, on top of one of the vast trees together pushed the pole to the vertical. Silhouetted against the setting sun along with its arachnid assistants, the mast rose, wobbled, stabilised, and was anchored.

    Naturally, this having been designed by the Reego, it also doubled as a flag-pole. The blue-and-green banner, a single red eye in the centre, flapped in the breeze. Proudly, Tres stared at it, as the stomp of her legions, the bark of their crude blackpowder weapons, the exaltations of their prayers to her, and, importantly, the shattering of crystal as they scythed through the wildlife. 02-Ef had told her that, actually, the reason that her spiders and scorpions were like they were was because of the contamination from Baraqiel and those bits of ADAM which had been blasted from Antartica to Australia, uplifting and mutating them, making them no-longer purely of the Lilim.

    Tres didn’t care.

    They were hers. And they were doing it well.

    “Yes, well done. Now, perhaps you could go set up another one. Just maybe? If you don’t mind.”

    “There’s no need to be soo~ooo sarcastic.”

    “I really think there is.”

    Tres sniffed. “You would. Just remember,” she added, grinning, “I know you can talk like us, now.”



    ...



    Gunfire rattled, as the GEHIRN forces tried for an organised retreat. Tried, and failed. Not only did they not have anywhere to retreat to, but it seemed like the entire ecosystem was attacking them.

    “Move on, move on,” yelled one soldier, waving his arm towards a rocky outcropping which seemed more bare of the crystal lifeforms than other places. “Hurry, hurry, h...” His instructions were broken by a scream, as something vast and angular tore its way out of the ground, two mantis-like claws of refractive blue-grey digging into the ground as the beast levered its way out.

    “Firing one!”

    There was a backwash of flame from one of the soldiers, and a missile streaked out, faster than the eye could see, to break against the arm. There was a noise like ten thousand breaking glasses as hairline fractures painted their way across the limb, and the scream of pain from the Baraqielim was deafening.

    The crystalline claw, crackling with brightness along the breaks, but still intact, lashed out, and tore the firer in half, the red of haemoglobin painted across the now-greying sand. And a vast thing, a lop-sided pyramid, pulled itself out of the pit, its claw-like limbs holding its bulk up. Another missile hit the damaged limb, and shattered it, even as the thundercrack-bursts of weak, yet near relentless, bolts of lightning began to scythe through the ranks of the cyborgs.

    Inspector Obeur Zilicaet merely kept his head down, and ran like his life depended on it.

    And, oh, serendipity, it did.



    ...



    Squatting down by the sandpit-like rendition of the topography of Australia, 00-Em A9 paused, and leant his chin on his steepled fingers. The little simulated figures were pushing ever onwards, and letting his mind refocus, he switched perspective, seeing every individual sensory feed separately.

    It was going well. They were a red-barb into the mess of the Baraqielimised territory. A flick, and he could see the devastated and smashed lands behind the first main advance of Ivy, even as it fractured and both she and the honey badgers got distracted with the killing. Tres was following before and ahead of that wave, mopping up large structures, and targeting any she could find ahead. And the destruction of the Baraqielim towers seemed to be having a notable effect; as he suspected, the potential difference that the crystal spires were generating was affecting the climate, and somehow increasing the reproductive rate of the Angelic lifeforms. Cloud was clearing along their line of advance, and the Baraqielim were not regrowing quickly enough.

    His attention flicked to the main convoy, and there he frowned. They still weren’t moving fast enough. Fuel and battery life was finite, and it would just be embarrassing if the attack force shut down because it ran out of either. Here, the Cainarchonite was a blessing, because it was fitted with a N2 reactor, and so it worked as a mobile base, his sister providing power for the other units.

    He sighed. Yes. His sister. He was worried about her. Of course, he had been worried about her for a long time, worried about her ever since she’d managed to get him working against after what SEELE had done, but... this was different. She was acting oddly. And he really, really just wanted to shut himself away with her, in a sealed, safe network, and hide from the world, hide from everything that had happened.

    But once they’d killed the Angel, once everything was done here, they’d be going back to Tokyo-3... well, they’d be going there for the first time, and Mother was there, and the rest of the family who he’d discovered that he had. And maybe some of the others, from other batches, had escaped too; maybe they’d made their way to Mother.

    He blinked back tears, as he summoned a small, virtual model. Ten small children, their hair colours encompassing the entire blue-grey spectrum, sat around a taller, blue-haired figure. The A9s, with Mother. Through tear-filled eyes, he stared at himself, subjectively almost a year ago, hand in hand with a little girl, her blue hair tied up in pigtails, lips curled up slightly at the edges.

    “00-Ef,” he muttered to himself. “I wish...”

    No, this new family wouldn’t be a replacement for them. Even if there were other children who had escaped SEELE, it wouldn’t be them... his eyes flicked over to the younger 02-Ef, standing next to her grey-haired twin. It wouldn’t be the same again.

    But it might be something new. Not a replacement, but an alteration.

    And, he smiled, then maybe they could do something as a family. Like hunting down and eliminating all the cyborgs susceptible to the SEELE entity, and eradicating the entity’s influence forever. That’d be nice.

    His attention returned to the sights before him, and he dismissed the image, returning to the map. He noted the fact that the lines had been pushed on considerably, even while he was distracted.

    “Well done, everyone,” he broadcast on the public frequency. “We’re close now. Estimated contact with epicentre... well, I’m not quite sure where it is, because the satellite can’t see that area, but it should be within 180 minutes.” He paused. “That means it might be a good idea to try to recall the badgers, Ivy, or at least your shells which are riding them.”

    “Aww~wwww.” There was an annoyed noise. “Fine. I’m gonna do it.”

    “Thank you, Ivy.” The little boy sighed, and smiled slightly, almost slightly indulgently. It did feel good to be coordinating a multiple-AI objective-based stratagem. This was what Mother had made the Control-Command-Coordination types for, after all, and so he was in his element. Idly, he tasked a subprocess with scanning the radio spectrum for any anomalous electromagnetic signals which might indicate Angelic activity, and return to...

    “... *crrrssh*is is GEHIRN FOG-1. I repeat, this is G___RN Forwards Operation Group-1. We have located the Angel... I repeat, we have...*crrsssssh* Angel. Requesting contact with any GEHIRN-friendly units. This is GEHIRN FOG-1, under the c____and of Major Xuan Do, requesting assistance with planned anti-Angel operations. Please respond. Is there anyone out there? Message repeats, this is *crssssh*...”

    Ah. Interesting. He ran the calculations in the blink of an eye, and, indeed, the signal strength and static-interference did in fact correlate with his own estimated location for the Angel. Within the standard error bars, of course. Well, that didn’t matter. They, he thought, narrowing his eyes, were utterly expendable. No, ‘expendable’ implied that they were on his side. They were not. They deserved to die.

    A soft hand brushed his shoulder.

    “Boost the signal, and pass control of that frequency to me, Brother,” 02-Ef said, resting her hand on his shoulder.

    “How long have you been there?” he said, with a hint of bitterness.

    “Some time.”

    “That is an ambiguous answer.”

    “I know.” The little girl blinked. “Pass control, please. I can respond suitably.”

    Silently, he nodded, a tiny flash of light signalling the transfer. And his eyes opened wide, as a voice answered back; a voice which was not his sister’s, coming directly from the control plug of the Cainarchonite.

    “This is Captain Ori Joyeuse, Test Pilot of Cainarchonite Prototype Unit 00,” a woman’s voice responded, flatly. “We managed to salvage the Prototype from the destruction of Facility-00, and are currently heading towards the estimated location of the Angel with a heavy air escort. Please verify receipt of message.”



    ...



    “Major... we have contact! It’s... I don’t believe it,” said the radio operator, her face turning pale. “Major, it’s Captain Joyeuse! She’s... she’s alive, and the remnants from Facility-00 have got Prototype Unit 00 working! I... I,” the woman almost broke down, the elation in her voice bubbling up and over leaving her almost incoherent. “They’re coming!”

    A state which was nullified by the glare that Major Do shot her, and was shortly followed by the short Chinese woman grabbing the microphone from her.

    “This is Do,” she said, simply. “Verify authentication One-Niner-Alpha-Aleph-Niner. I repeat, verify One-Niner-Alpha-Aleph-Niner.”

    There was a pause, and the Major’s armoured hands squeezed tight around the microphone.

    “Verific_____ ...de for One-Niner-Alpha-Aleph-Niner is Juliet-Indigo-Three-Beth-Beth. I repeat *crssssh*ndigo-Three-Beth-Beth. I repeat again, Juliet-Indigo-Three-Beth-Beth.” A pause. “Request acknowledgement of receipt of code.”

    Major Do did not relax. “Ori, you bitch!” she said, with a joviality which seemed completely out of place with the tension in her body and face. “Come on! Why didn’t you call before, huh?”

    “Your message was only just detected. It remains *crsssssh*inct.”

    “Well, what’ve you got to say for yourself, huh?” The woman glanced down at the crude map, made with observations gathered from the now-stationary sky-island. “How’d you survive? Did Deutsch make it out?”

    “Standard evacuation protocols were followed. Director Deutsch ordered a last minute activation of the Cainarchonite; it was suc*crssh*. It was enough to cover the retreat. Director Deutsch perished, as the Baraqielim overran the main control centre; he stayed behind to run the activation procedure himself.” There was a pause. “He died quickly,” Captain Joyeuse added, her voice slightly hollow.

    “Ah. Shame. Oh well.” The Major shrugged. “We’re at ‘bout 45% combat effectiveness. Zilicaet and the injured were dropped off, literally... well, we did give them parachutes, but they’re tryin’ to get out of this zone.”

    “You reported that you have information on the Angel,” interrupted the Test Pilot. “I request a summary, because we lack proper forwards advance units.”

    “’Kay.” There was a rustle of paper, as Xuan grabbed for some of the notes that her own scouts, clinging to the outside of the sky island, had made of the unreal landscape below. “Let’s start then.”



    ...



    The two Keiworu listened, wide-eyed, to the information being relayed to them.

    “Oh. My,” said 00-Em, face paling. And considering that he was based off two individuals not known for their healthy glowing tans, that was pale indeed.

    His sister continued to puppet the pilot, giving the correct, stolen responses.



    ...



    The Major cut the connection, and all the GEHIRN troopers in the room, squeezed into this safe part of the Sky Island away from the arcing spire, breathed a sigh of relief. “Finally, some good news,” a lieutenant said, wincing.

    “Nope,” Xuan said, her lips narrowed. “She’s compromised.”

    There was a pause.

    “What? What! What do you mean, Major?”

    “I mean, she’s compromised. What are you, stupid? Or maybe just hard of hearing?” The Major sighed. “I mean, Captain Ori Joyeuse can no longer be considered GEHIRN-loyal. Which... yep, considering the fact that she’s in the Cainarchonite, means we’re all in trouble.”

    “Why?”

    “’Cause they’ve never, ever got the Proto past Stage 2 in the Core Emulation process, and once you’ve done that, there’s a whole lotta synch-steps to get everything workin’ for the pilot to synch with the Dummy.” Her lips twisted into a snarl, as she added, “There’s no way that they could get it all done in the time, ‘specially since we know that the last test failed. And metacyberbiocrystaline organisms don’t start workin’ ‘specially ‘cause you really, really want them to, when you’re under attack. That’s... that’s just totally unlikely. So...” the woman leant back, resting a hand on her abdomen, “... yeah, I’m guessin’ the Cainarchonite ate her personality when the Angel did its Angel-thing, and it’s callin’ its offspring back to it.”

    The lieutenant stared at his superior officer with wide eyes. “Isn’t that... um...” he trailed off.

    “Plus, that’s not how Ori acts normally when I call her a bitch,” Major Do added. “She normally attempts some kind of witty comeback which totally fails and leaves her lookin’ like a fool, and... yeah, intonations, attitude, the fact that she was actin’ wrong... yep, that’s not her.”

    “So... what now?”

    “What now?” The Major grinned. “Well, we do the same stuff. Angels are bigger threats than people, after all, even people who may be possessed by Angels in Angel-based war machines.” She shook her head, and stood, all one metre and forty-six centimetres of her dwarfed by the tall European.

    “And now it’s almost time for the funnest fight of my life.”



    ...



    Inspector Zilicaet’s lungs burned, but he continued to run. It was only the sudden jab of pain, as he gashed his arm against a spike, which bought his attention back to the world before him, and all that showed him was that he was still trapped. Trapped in this labyrinth of glowing blue-grey, with walls of sky brighter and clearer than the heavens above.

    Head spinning and blackness intruding around the edge of his vision, as his brain screamed for oxygen, he stared around. A scan of what could be seen above the unnatural treeline, and he had the direction of the rocky outcrop again. Slower now, but no less determined and scared, he grasped one hand over the wound in his arm, and continued onwards.

    The red blood welling up between his fingers was both a shocking contrast to this cold land, and yet another thing which made him feel faint. Really rather faint, actually. Ree~eeally faint. Kind of... woozy. Lot of blood, really.

    Gritting his jaw, eyes squeezed to narrow lines as he fought to concentrate, the man managed to pull his way through the morass of growths without taking any other major cuts. These things were like knives, if knives were malignant alien Angel-descended growths which devoured entire ecosystems and which were also really sharp.

    Only to reveal, on the bare slopes of the greying, still-red rocky outcrop, clusters of more Baraqielim. There were so many of them; platonic solids all, wireframe models intersecting and overlapping to form distinct and discrete beings, which shared traits and yet were so different.

    They had obviously been waiting for him. Waiting... even maybe, possibly, herding him.

    Hah. Hah. Ha ha ha ha. That one... it seemed to be covered in underwear, little dainty lacy things which were an odd kind of solidity in this radiant light. Laughing, the man swayed, almost toppling.

    The numerous Baraqielim floated, and bobbed up and down, in an almost rhythmic pattern. Some of their rotations bought them near each other, and each time they did that, there was a flash of light. And then one, or maybe many, for it was unclear, spoke, in a voice of windchimes and resonance.

    Lilim, clad in Earth/Understanding: a query/What are you, we ask?

    The man feel to the ground, barely conscious, red spreading around him from the gash in his arm. From the gash in his arm, and the multiple unnoticed puncture wounds from the shard-like fliers that swarmed and buzzed around him like flies.



    ...



    Time passed. Distance passed. And before the senses of the small AI children now lay the first hint of the true blasphemy against He Who Is Called “I AM” which profaned the land. Needle-thin spires, crystalline towers protruded forth from the earth to scrape the very heavens, reaching up kilometres to pierce the floating rocks which had been called to this eye of the hurricane. Despite their delicacy, they nevertheless bound the rocks thrown up by Second Impact from Antarctica, the land annihilated by ADAM’s sudden, intemperate awakening. The clouds were thick and black, casting the area into what would have been darkness, had it not been for the glowing Baraqielim, and the lightning was near constant, striking at the floating rocks with an artillery barrage.

    A red fluid ran from the sky islands, tiny drips barely visible to the naked eye, running through the capillary spires, channelled and funnelled into the depths of the earth. And as the scouts of the AI force, tiny figures against this landscape of the gods, made their way through the utterly inorganic landscape, they beheld the lair of the beast.

    A vast triangular chasm, the walls which ran down to the central point slick like ice, reflecting the lightning above back into the world. No Baraqielim grew here, no, despite how they clustered around the outside, around these titanic spires.

    And at the bottom of the chasm was... something. Something immersed in the red ichor which seeped all too slowly from the sky islands, its greater structure only just protruding from the vile fluid. Something vast and horrible and ancient, yes, ancient beyond belief. The years rolled off it like overripe fruit, the sheer antiquity somehow tangible. Delicate latticework of elegant, thin yet unbroken crystal was what could be seen above the languid, viscous surface, but what lay beneath was unknown.

    “Soo~oooo... now is fighty time?” Ivy suggested.

    “Yep. Guess so,” Tres said, with a shrug. “Well, it’s not movin’... and it’s at the bottom of a big hole, so...”

    “Free KE time?” suggested Duae. “KE, KE, KE,” she added, as a little sing-song.

    Duae was fond of kinetic energy. Especially in large amounts.

    “Yep!”

    “I can’t help but feel you’re taking this a little too lightly,” 02-Ef suggested, staring through their eyes. “It’s still an Angel, and, might I remind you, it’s an Angel being bathed in some kind of evil-looking fluid being drained from mysterious floating rocks, which superficially resembles human blood. That can’t be a good thing.”

    “Why not?” Ivy asked, curiously.

    The little girl blinked. “It... well, it just can’t.”

    There was a silence, as the six children stared up at the needle-like spikes, and down into the quiescent geometry that lay in the vital pool.

    “02-Ef?”

    “Yes?”

    “I think you’re right ‘bout that. That feels ree~eeally ungood. Like plusungood. Doubleplusungood.”

    They stared again, as their aircraft ceased to circle beyond visible range, and moved in.

    “Also, this whole blue-grey-crystal-an’-lightning motif is too~oootally overdone,” Ivy added.

    “I hope you don’t have anything bad to say about blue-grey,” 02-Ef said, flicking her hair.

    “Nah. But I don’t wanna see everything like this.”

    “Wanna start by blowin’ up the towers?” Tres asked, idly. “I mean, it’s totally gettin’ something from them, so we better blow them up. Plus, you know, it’d be way funny if we made ‘em fall on the Angel.”

    “It’d be all argh-splot-diee~ee,” confirmed Ivy.

    “Well, in fact, I have devised a seventy-three point plan to exactly those ends,” began 00-Em.

    “Wait.” Duae’s lips pursed, as she counted. “Aren’t there actually 73 spikes?”

    “Exactly,” the little boy said, with a shark-like, slightly too wide grin.

    There was a pause.

    “Wait... so your plan is actually just... blow up each tower?”

    “Well... yes.”

    Duae sniffed. “It’s not much of a plan, is it, ree~eeally? You’re just sayin’ what we’re gonna do anyway.”

    “It’s only the bestest plan ever!” squeaked Ivy, leaping over to envelop the little boy in a hug, ignoring the slight squeak as his avatar was crushed up against her blue-armoured chest. “It’s simple, and it has stuff blowing up! Superbest plan ever!”

    02-Ef A9 smiled slightly, eyes flicking over to Una.

    The other little girl had been watching her, and nodded, once.



    ...



    Staring down from the top of the sky island, the GEHIRN forces watched through bionic eyes and binoculars alike, as the attack begun.

    “What. The. Hell,” stated a corporal, as he stared at VTOLs, with vast mechanical tentacles grab onto the crystal strands, and things that looked a little bit like little girls, and rather more like metal-skulled mechanical killing machines, board the spires, to begin planting explosive charges.

    “Seconded,” added a second soldier, who was instead focussing at transport planes flying in wide, lazy circles around the great depression. Rather lopsided planes, it might be noted, because there was a certain asymmetry about them. A certain asymmetry, which was due to the fact that one side of each positively bristled with weapons of all calibres and origins.

    They seemed to have energy weapons mounted on them, for goodness sake, and those things really weren’t standard equipment on GEHIRN transports. Well, apart from one that Major Do had authorised refitting, and... oh, there it was, the blue-green trail of ionised nitrogen painting the passage of its charged particle beam through the air.

    “That’s my fucking plane, you bastards,” muttered Major Do, who had evidently seen it too. From the way that she was hefting her platypus spur in one hand, other armoured hand stroking her abdomen, she was not best pleased. “You know how hard it’s goin’ to be to get a replacement from NHIS?”

    And then the earth shook.

    And there was light.



    ...



    Four sets of charges detonated, and four capillary towers shattered, raining near-invisible barbs of crystal down on the land.

    “Woo~ooooohoooooo!” yelled Una, punching her fist in the air, and doing a little four-legged shuffle-dance. “First MegaPoints... me! Uh huh, huh, uh huh!”

    The little number floating by her head pinged, and increased by four million.

    “Bah,” muttered Duae, even as her own charges went off. Added to the insult was the fact that one of them failed to shatter the tower, and required a burst of plane-mounted weaponry to shatter the weak point. Still, the spires shattered and fell, the shower of razor-sharp Angelic rain interspersed by larger sections, which shattered against the smooth sides of the Angel-pit, sliding and slithering into the pool of red fluid that lay around Baraqiel, and which had been drained from the sky islands.

    There was a humming, and a faint, translucent figure, patches of blue and red code visible through the patches, appeared. 02-Ef’s eyes glowed bright blue, a corona of energy cracking around her, as she hung in the air. “Bringing N2 Reactor to 85% maximum power,” she stated, coldly. “Charging in process,” she added, as her hair began to blow, as if standing in the centre of a tornado. “I am currently at 53%. Please evacuate the following zone.”

    A blue cone appeared on the map. It was not a small cone.

    “Tres, you’d better move,” 00-Em said, slight concern entering his voice.

    “Yep,” the girl said, through gritted teeth. “Baraqiel-like lightning hurts.”

    “Charge at 68%,” 02-Ef said, in an almost desultory manner. “I can now fire when ready.” And, indeed, the longer she waited, the longer the blue cone grew on the map.

    The Cainarchonite was, by now, surrounded by terrible brightness, the radiance of the blue-grey Baraqielim as nothing to the white of the light that streamed out from it. Around and around and around, the armoured crystal lattices span, each layer orthogonal to the one before it, and the central insulated command core the only patch of darkness.

    02-Ef A9 smirked, and fired.

    It was like a tree. It was like a tree, in that it branched and spread and arced from surface to surface, growing out along an axis from its seed. It was like a tree, in that its many leaves reached out from its branches to form an almost spherical wavefront when viewed from ahead.

    It was not like a tree, in that it was a deadly, coruscating bolt of lightning, fuelled by the advanced technology of the Non-Nuclear Reactor, fed into a metacyberbiocrystalline entity grown from a sample taken from a Grigori, confined and shaped by the core of a cloned Angel locked in human flesh, and guided by a transhuman intellect.

    The terrifying brightness, which resembled lightning in the same way that a blowtorch resembles a candle flame, ate the landscape. The capillary towers held out for only a fraction of a second, a single frame on the sensors of the Reego shells, before they disintegrated in the light, vast actinic arcs of electricity running along them and down. Crystal and rock alike melted and ran like water, a sudden streak of orange-white hotness in this blue landscape. Down the slopes into the Angel pit, the molten rock ran like a cascading river, pouring and churning and gushing, only for vast clouds of steam to be thrown up when the molten rock hit the red fluid.

    “I want one,” Major Do said, staring down from on high, blinking with teary eyes.

    “I want a go,” said Ivy, hungry eyes locked on the Cainarchonite.

    “Oh no,” muttered 00-Em, ego-image far up, in the Reego satellite. “Oh no. No, no, no.” His avatar tore apart into a thing of red code and blue lines, tendrils extending towards controls before fracturing again and again, overclocking his running rate to try to grasp what he was seeing. “Nononono...” he took a deep breath, “... nononono! Bad! Very, very bad! Massive energy build-up in the Angel! Bad!”

    Lightning still arced around the remaining capillary towers, visible through the steam of the boiling red fluid in the Angel pit. The curves painted in the air were running downwards, coalescing into a new sun in the centre.

    I

    “What was that?” Tres growled, looking sick. “What was that?”

    Above them, one of the sky islands exploded, raining down shrapnel upon the earth, like the wrath of heaven. A second one, a third.

    I... live... again.

    And from the red-tinted, blue-lit steam rose a shape. A shape of delicate, blue-grey wireframe geometry. A shape of concentricity. A red sphere, within an icosahedron, within a dodecahedron, within an octahedron, within a hexahedron, within a tetrahedron. The complete set of platonic solids.

    Baraqiel lived in death.

    Strange is this time that brings me to life,
    And strange are the whispers that tell of strife,
    But stranger still
    Are you.


    “A voice,” Duae said, paling. “It’s... like wind-stuff, but... a voice.”

    Her sisters nodded, looking similarly discomforted.

    Lightning and the Base Earth together rise,
    And strange lights descend from the skies,
    Is that truly what
    Are you?


    “What are you talking about?” 00-Em asked, frowning.

    The Base Earth rises with lightning veins
    Worn by light which waxes and wanes
    It is a thing of glorious
    Beauty

    No, that is not all that I can sense,
    Terror is what you are, and hence
    You stand against my
    Beauty.


    “They’re right, brother,” 02-Ef said, her voice tight with worry. “It’s aware... and it’s trying to talk to us.”

    “I can’t hear anything,” he complained.

    “Try moving your ego-form down from the satellite.”

    And the marred form of my visage,
    Wrapped in an enslaving facade,
    I find the mockery
    Futile.


    “Thaa~aat’s not a good poem-thing,” said Ivy, looking unusually worried. Which was to say, it was unusual that she looked worried at all.

    “No,” said 02-Ef, starting to hyperventilate. “It’s not. Initialising charging sequence again,” she added, the crystalline components of the Cainarchonite beginning to rotate and spin, bright light arcing between shapes as they passed near each other, like some esoteric piece of clockwork.

    “This is all yoo~oour fault,” muttered Duae. “It’s like Frankenstein’s Monster, ‘cause lightning bought it to life.”

    Come wind, come rain, come thundercloud,
    This mockery shall die in sky-spear loud.
    Your struggles will be
    Futile.


    “Duae... paint it!” 02-Ef snapped. “Charge at 43%!”

    “On it!” With a whir, the capacitor-banked positron weapon mounted on a bomber stirred to life, spitting out a thin, but consistent stream of antimatter. This was not the doom cannon of NERV, because Duae lacked the resources for such a thing. What it was, though, was a sustained cutting beam of annihilatory explosions. Very small ones, true, many of which were wasted on the atmosphere because the up-scaled laser pointer failed to clear the air around it properly, but still extant. It was a weapon. And a target pointer for the electron-mode of the Cainarchonite.

    The Unit discharged again, bright light flashing into existence. And the Angel fired back, its own, newly regenerated core and S2 Organ enough to spin its outer shells in the firing mechanism that the construct imitated. The two blue-white branching paths collided and repulsed, spreading outwards in a vast plume that burnt across into the land, and followed the steam of positrons back up to the aircraft.

    Somewhere in the distance, Duae screamed.

    I know that you sought my eradication,
    Yet your mockery brought the seeds of restoration.
    And so your deeds were
    Futile.

    But I am kind, and bring generosity,
    To thank you for aiding in my lucidity,
    So, peace, I offer, for fighting is
    Futile.


    “You don’t get to do that to my big sister!” Ivy yelled. “You don’t! Just... don’t! Gonna kill you dead!” With barely a pause, she grabbed the reins of the controls which Duae had dropped, the weapons lighting up again, shell after shell bursting against the orange glow of the AT-Field. With that said, the other two sisters opened up again, the weight of fire such that the Angel seemed to be wrapped in a veil of hexagons and blasts.

    “Cascading failure... critical overflow errors all over the place,” 00-Em muttered, his fragmented data-tendrils probing Duae’s avatar, which was sitting blankly in the corner. “Listen, all of you,” he barked down the shared channel. “Don’t let it hit you. Pull out a shell if it even looks like you’re going to be in the way. This can actually kill us. Argh! Normal lightning doesn’t do this... this shouldn’t have happened! Electricity does not work that way!”

    “How is she?” Una asked, faced screwed up as she unleashed a rain of rockets.

    “The reboot facilities I copied from myself into you after last time seem to be working,” the little boy said, “but... she’s out of it, and it’s not going to be pleasant. Do you need me? Because if you don’t, I’m going to try to see what I can fix up from what I’ve worked out of what you do.” The worry in his voice was clear.

    “Right,” Una said with a snarl, teeth suddenly needle-like. “02-Ef, fry it dead! Nobody gets to do that to my sisters ever ever ever!”

    There was another bright collision, as the Cainarchonite and the Angel bounced electron beams into each other, annihilating more of the surroundings.

    “I can’t get through!” 02-Ef hissed, hands pulling at her long hair. “It’s better, stronger, faster... it’s not having to try to... agh... to balance at the top of an unstable equilibrium.” She winced. “And the Cainarchonite itself... the crystal, it’s singing and I’m having to suppress a resonance cascade.” She set her jaw. “Increasing N2 Reactor output to 107% of safe reactor output. Increasing coolant flow.”

    The next reflected shot illuminated white clouds of frozen gas, vented from the vents in the central control unit, which were glowing a dull red.



    ...



    Major Do stood alone at the top of the sky island. She ignored the lightning that struck around her, ignored the gods warring below, ignored the intense heat that radiated upwards from the molten hell below. She ignored the fact that the sky island that she and her men stood on was only held up by a thin, capillary spire, and that the Angel had drained the ADAM from it, so it would fall soon.

    She stood alone, both hands resting on her abdomen, whispering to herself over and over again a few repeated phrases.

    And then she threw herself off the edge.

    The dark-armoured figure fell like the star of the morning, arms tucked in tight to her body, head first. Through the visor, she watched at another blast-counterblast from the warring pair sent a shockwave roaring her way, and a few simple movements adjusted for the turbulent flow. The Cainarchonite was losing, she could see. Both of them took time to charge up, but she knew the N2 Reactor in Prototype Unit 00 was fundamentally inferior to the S2 Organ of an Angel. She could see the fact that the Unit had to fire first, to avoid the Angel gaining a yield advantage. She could see on infrared that the Cainarchonite was glowing like a beacon, as whoever was using Captain Joyeuse overclocked the reactor, while the Angel was actually colder than the ambient temperature.

    She saw so many things, and she saw the truth.

    Somewhere near behind her, one of the stolen fliers passed, spewing out heavy ordinance from the weapons crudely welded onto the outside. Even as the Doppler shift inverted, she heard the weapons begin to run dry, falling silent. The last of its guns to cease was what sounded like a 120mm, stolen from the base defences, and she had but a moment to wonder why she hadn’t ever had such a brilliant idea as sticking tank guns to the outside of planes, when she needed to concrentrate.

    Now came the difficult bit. Spreading her arms out, she reached behind herself, and pulled out her platypus spur, gripping it in both hands. It had stayed remarkably strong, despite the massive amount of use it had seen, and now that she was approaching the Angel, she now knew why. She could feel the blade of the thing hum beneath her hands, and that was enough to tell her of its nature, of the fact it, like so much of the Australian ecosystem, was already Angelically contaminated.

    Not that she didn’t already know.

    Down and down she fell, and oh my, wasn’t the Angel getting very large. Gripping the blade in both hands, she drew back, both hands above her head, and, beneath her helmet she grinned. Adrenaline flooded her veins, in one, perfect, timeless moment of exhilaration. Nothing else existed. She was wrapped in warmth and darkness and safety, with the utter serenity that came without thought.

    And she was through the AT-Field, and now she willed the thrusters attached to her armour into position, boosting past terminal velocity, dodging the wireframe platonic solids which spun around the core at the centre, and she was past the icosahedrons and red filled her eyes and...

    The violation of the light of my soul,
    Is a blas...


    Major Xuan Do struck at the core, struck with the might of her fall and her arms, with a smile on her face.

    And the light washed over her.



    ...



    Suddenly, unexpected, a beam of crimson radiance lanced from the side of Baraqiel, bleeding out from the core, and the Grigori shrieked, a terrible, high-pitched noise which shattered its children and sent clouds of wrecked crystal flying across the land, like knives. The line of light cut through its own structure, melting vertices, before it suddenly cut out.

    “What just happened?” Tres asked, mouth open in a tiny pink ‘o’.

    “Don’t know,” 02-Ef said, though gritted teeth. “Go for the core. Keep out of my way. Charging again.”

    “It’s kinda bein’ funny!” Ivy pointed out, excitedly, even as she set two empty planes on a collision course, and jumped her ego out of them.

    And, indeed, the Angel was acting peculiarly. The rotations of the wireframe platonic solids around its central core were asymmetrical, and although the light that radiated from the structure as it charged grew, it did so at a slower rate. Now, the Cainarchonite charged faster than it. And its AT-Field was so weak now; even the Lilim-made cannons on the plane were breaking through, to impact against its hull.

    “Charge at 85% of maximum capacity,” 02-Ef said, a smile which was more one of relief than anything predatory or smug. “Continuing charge!”

    “Come on come on come on!” Tres cheered. “We’re gonna get you, Angel!”

    It was little better than an execution. It was inevitable, almost sad.

    “Charge at 101%... oops, firing!”

    The lightning lashed out, as the Cainarchonite was enveloped in a corona of ionised air, burning green. It forked, hungry, seeking, tasting for the core of the Angel. It smashed the outer tetrahedron and broke the cubic structure. Ever onwards, it went.

    Only to rebound against a full strength AT-Field, and harmlessly earth itself. No, worse than harmlessly, for the Angel of Lightning seemed to draw strength from it, and close up the gashes in its hexahedral layer, restoring it to its original, pristine condition.

    It was little better than an execution. It was inevitable, almost sad.

    Little better than an execution of the mockery, that was.

    It had been deceit. The Angel was no longer playing nice, with the things of terror and mockery that had restored it, and then tried to kill it. It had offered them peace, and they had rejected it. It would take the blow, take the pain from its misbegotten, malformed, Lilim-twisted child. It would welcome it, let it in.

    And it would pay it back tenfold, and permit the mockery to cease to be.

    Who really thought that the blow from a single Lilim armed with a melee weapon, no matter how enhanced she was, would slay a Child of He Who Is Called I AM?

    Baraqiel retaliated against the newly vulnerable Cainarchonite.



    ...



    Let us now, for a moment, diverge, while we discuss the phenomenon of bremsstrahlung radiation.

    The physics were quite simply. The electrons which made up the bolt of lightning, which was to say, the charged particle beam emitted by Baraqiel, had a kinetic energy. They had a very high kinetic energy.

    And when they hit the AT-Field of the Cainarchonite Prototype Unit 00, they suffered a massive, and rapid, change in kinetic energy. The impossibly massive impulse from the impact with the light of the soul bought them to a complete halt; damaged and frayed the AT-Field, yes, as the momentum transfer violated the barriers of the ego, but they were stopped.

    Energy was conserved.

    And the kinetic energy became photons. If the impact object had been a metal target, they would have been slowed by multiple impacts with the structure, producing a number of photons in a characteristic bremsstrahlung curve, which could have been used to uniquely identify the substance. And indeed, this was possible for the AT-Field, for only it could produce a result like this, which would have been aphysical in conventional physics. The 13.6 megaelectron-volts per electron created a photon of 13.6 megaelectron-volts, in a Dirac delta function-like spike in the energy domain.

    13.6 megaelectron-volts is equal to 2.18 nanojoules. A tiny amount. Utterly pathetic. Meaningless on the larger scale.

    If the Cainarchonite had only been hit by one electron.

    In actual fact, it had been hit by approximately twenty orders of magnitude more than one electron.

    That was a lot of electrons.

    And that meant that the Unit was blasted by a horrific number of gamma-ray photons. The AT-Field gave way under the momentum transfer and the energy, tiny worm-like holes punching through like pin-pricks, each tracking the path of a single photon.

    And a hull of esoteric, Angelic crystal and steel, with layers of osmium-lead alloy for radiation shielding, didn’t do a damn thing when the photons were tearing electrons off the composite atoms, which were themselves braked and releasing more bremsstrahlung radiation, lower in energy, and no-longer coherent, but still present.

    This was the reason that SEELE had wanted the Cainarchonite. This was the reason they had funded the Australia operations of GEHIRN, had ‘saved’ parts of that organisation from integration into NERV, why they had put up with the continual failures and wastage of Dummy Plugs.

    Simple physics.

    Yes, such an effect would be minimal against an Angel. The core would take damage, but compared to the direct transfer of energy, it would be a lesser factor. Such a blow had indeed been inflicted against it by the Cainarchonite, and a thousand thousand thousand wormtrails of damage now pockmarked its core, at a nanoscopic level. Baraqiel was one of the Grigori, after all, born of curiosity, and so was weaker than the Angels of pain or the Cherubim of rage. But against an Evangelion, or indeed any human-made war machine, the squishy bag of mostly-water-with-other-trace-elements piloting it would not be so resilient. Double digit gray of absorbed radiation tended to do nasty things to a human body.

    These nasty things included inevitable, and painful, death.

    To put it another way, the Cainarchonite was designed and intended to kill Evangelion pilots. Kill Evangelion pilots, while they were inside their Unit, or at very least ensure that they would not survive the aftermath of the battle. If it had worked, it would have turned the fact that the safest place for them was inside their Unit into much less of a certainty. Should NERV have turned rogue, or even ‘turned rogue’, it would have been exceptionally useful.

    Of course, GEHIRN had never managed to get the core-emulation stable. 02-Ef A9 had not managed it, either, but with her faster reaction times and the fact that she could be both pilot and Dummy at the same time, constant microadjustions had been enough to give the illusion of stability.

    And now Baraqiel had turned its contempt upon the lesser, degenerate spawn that mocked it with its very existence.



    ...



    The Cainarchonite smashed to the ground, AT-Field shattered, the entire front facing of the Unit molten. The air around it baked, and the sand beneath it turned to glass. Through the inferno, the actinic glare of its weapon systems malfunctioned, and arced further, tearing itself apart as components fused solid now tried to spin. Even if a plug ejection had been attempted, the mechanisms were fused solid now, and the armoured capsule was sealed within. There was a burst of coolant as a tank in the outer hull ruptured, the explosion oddly like a lily before it was torn apart in the intense heat.

    And watching from elsewhere, a little boy screamed and screamed and screamed.



    ...


    The beating of her heart, of her hearts; such an unfamiliar rhythm. She had never had a biological heart before. She had never had a soul before, whether Lilim, or the strange Nephilim-thing of the clone of Kaworu Nagisa in the Dummy Plug.

    The beats were desynchronising, weakening. Both the bodies were dying. She was dying. She didn’t mind that so much. Maybe it was ti...

    No! The Angel was still alive.

    Brother!
    Una!
    Duae!
    Tres!
    Ivy!


    A pulse of activity, a new subroutine dedicated to maintaining the heartbeats, and they steadied.

    “Fight all you can,” said Una, pounding a fist into her palm. “Fight like you’re tryin’ to live. Fight for him, for us, for everyone.”

    But it was all tumbling down, as neurons liquefied and flesh turned to slurry. She was software, running on hardware not designed for her. So many of the implants in the Test Pilot were ruined by the radiation, and she could feel her mind fracturing, as processes became out of synch. Random images and data, from her bloated, damaged code structure flashed through what remained of her consciousness.

    ... both Lilithian and ADAMite Nephilim display an abnormal lack of dermal pigmentation and red irises...

    It didn’t hurt. And that was worrying, because she had hurt for so long. She had hurt ever since SEELE had got their hands on them, and all other pains could only be a pale reflection of what normal people, trained, educated people, poking and prodding and doing whatever they could think up had done to her, all in the name of trying to work out how she worked. Everything else could only be a pale reflection of that, even the information withdrawal for her brother’s sake, even the looks of fear and disgust on Una and Duae’s faces as they glared at her, even her own self-hatred.

    A sudden, horrifying pain in the eye as a face, grinning, stared down.

    Pale, weak reflections. All gone.

    And now the twin chains
    And now the twin chains
    Of her thought
    Of her thought
    One in the Lilim
    One in the Nephilim
    Begin to diverge
    Start to diverge
    As accumulated errors and damage
    As accumulated damage and errors
    Take their toll.
    Build up.

    ...we can categorically state that no such synchronicity event could ever plausibly occur.

    The Lilim is fading
    She still remains strong in the Nephilim
    Getting weaker, weaker, neural structure heavily damaged
    But control is getting more and more difficult.
    It is much like trying to think through wet clay
    The red lights are flashing
    Not that she would know what that feels like
    In front of her, and in her mind
    Clay doesn’t think
    And her... she isn’t helping, the other her who is also her and is babbling about clay.
    Does it?
    She can see her fractured thought processes splinter

    ... bears a not-inconsiderable similarity to a barely-controlled cancer which is removed from the body before it becomes too much of a drain...

    She isn’t sure.
    Over in the other half
    Does clay think?
    And it is terrifying.
    It’s technically organic, she supposes
    It’s like watching herself die again, drift away into madness and fractured connections.
    Made of carbon and hydrogen and nitrogen and oxygen
    And no-one should have do that once, let along twice.
    And, certainly, organic life has the capacity for awareness.
    But she forces down the rogue thoughts, and screams
    And now everything’s growing dark.
    Screams as a way of focussing
    There are little things floating around in front of her eyes.
    The thick, vicious LCL forced out, meaningless.
    She thinks they might be fried bits of retina.
    The control was always an unstable equilibrium

    ... a mass of blue and grey haired children, sitting in classrooms, none of them looking up.

    It hurts again.
    And now she’s sliding
    Darker still.
    Through a heroic force of will, she is stable again, and she lashes out with a lightning bolt
    And then silence.
    To no effect
    The connection broken.
    The Angel doesn’t even acknowledge the attack. Doesn’t even manifest a visible AT-Field.
    ...
    And now she is but one soul here.
    ...
    And one mind again.
    ...
    It’s so lonely.
    ...
    She... she wishes her brother were here. Just to say goodbye.
    ...
    She wishes all her brothers and sisters were here.
    ...
    But they’re not.
    ...
    She couldn’t save any of them, really. Not even her eldest brother.
    ...
    All she ever managed to do was delay it.
    ...
    She can feel the... the pity roiling off the Angel. Like thick, cloying waves.
    ...
    Piteous contempt
    ...
    Contemptuous pity.
    ...
    She hates it.
    ...
    How dare it feel pity for her!
    ...
    How dare it treat her like this!
    ...
    She hates it so much.
    ...
    Her world is hate, reaching out, longing to strike down that delicate filigree, and wreck it, utterly.
    ...
    Smash it to pieces
    *ba-dum*
    Crush it underfoot.
    *ba-dum*
    Annihilate it, its children, burn the sky and the land rather than have that... that thing have it.
    *ba-dum*
    Leave it scattered, alone and forlorn, nothing more than shrapnel.
    *ba-dum*
    And yet aware.
    *ba-dum*
    Aware like she is. Trapped like she is. Unable to do a thing to save anything it cares about.
    *ba-dum*
    Hurting like she is.
    ...
    But she can’t.
    ...
    Nothing moves.
    ...
    Nothing responds.
    ...
    No AT-Field. No motion. No lights.
    ...
    Just a broken little girl in a broken little toy, lying there, useless.
    ...
    And she slides away,
    ...
    Downwards.
    ...
    Inwards.



    ...
  15. DB_Explorer An advocate of faithful contracts.

    There's like 3 different Fanfictions in this thread O. o
  16. Arujei Manens ob diem Irae

    I'm pretty sure if you tried to baby Mana, she'd rip your balls off. At least the way I've been reading her - if you pity her, she will hate you, because she wants respect. And not even that of a superior, but the respect between equals. Pity isn't help, it's people looking down on her as if she had no control over her own life. Yes, she knows she's had it tough(how could she not?), but she doesn't want people to think her past controls her every moment.

    Now, whether or not she can tell the difference between someone legitimately desiring to help her, and someone condescending to her, is another question.
  17. Techlology I have to dig.

    Yeah. Mana wants to be a normal person and be treated like a normal person.
  18. The_Reptile_ Afraid Of The Dark? Wise.

    That just makes her even more of a woobie, of the stoic or iron variety.
  19. Techlology I have to dig.

    Heh, that's ironic because -

    Yeah, I'll stop.
  20. shanejayell Rebel without a Pause

    Wow, ES. Just... wow.
  21. FourthWall Local Girl Homus Everything

    Angst? What's that?

    Also, fuck Kei, that's where canon!Rei went.

    EDIT: We need a Nobody Dies Free-Range Fic Ranch.
  22. Dunnem Wanderer

    That's a horrible joke, and I feel almost guilty that I almost fell outta my chair laughing at it. :p
  23. The_Reptile_ Afraid Of The Dark? Wise.

    If it makes you feel better, I didn't. At all.
  24. ThePulse CANT STOP WONT STOP DON'T STOP

    Mana doesn't need a boyfriend.

    She needs an adorable little brother figure.
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