[3 / an / cgl / diy / gd / i / n / out / p / po / qst / s4s / t / trv / vip / vm / vmg / w / wg / wsr / ] [Settings]
Board
Settings Home
/qst/ - Mitsuba Archive


>Neon Terminus Evangelion
>Episode 05 - "The weight of a soul"

***

Old threads - http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?searchall=Neon+Terminus+Evangelion
Twitter - https://twitter.com/TimeKillerQM
My Discord - https://discord.gg/BnJeeu4
What's the deal with NTE? - https://pastebin.com/AXWHpqGp
>>
File: 2004.jpg (20 KB, 800x600)
20 KB
20 KB .jpg
>New Tampa Reclamation Zone
>2004

"System sequence start."

You exhale slowly. When you breathe in you let the LCL fill your lungs like you were taught, fighting your panicked 'drowning' reflex. It only takes a moment to familiarize yourself. Once the LCL begins to oxygenate your blood directly, a strange sense of calm washes over you. A sense of protection and . . . isolation. You feel detached from the world somehow, like someone else is watching over you.

"Initiating primary connections."

"Connections accepted, nerve pulses free flowing. Eighty-eight percent efficiency in neutral responses."

"Only eighty-eight?"

"It will have to suffice. Rose?"

You are Rose Holiday and you're currently in the entry plug of your Evangelion, Sever.

"Rose, can you hear us?" Your father repeats the question.

"Loud and clear," you respond quickly, gripping your activation throttles nervously as the Eva finishes its post-start check.

"-Major," your father says. In your nervousness, you'd forgotten his rank. "Loud and clear Major." Leave it to your father to worry about such things on the eve of battle.

"Sorry, sir. All systems are in order, Major," you say, keeping all emotion from your voice.

"Very good. Begin combat deployment. Main elevator engage, bring Sever to the deck," Holiday says.

Your Eva's sensors come online and you see through Sever's eyes. With the hiss of pistons and groan of strained mechanisms, the darkness above your Eva splits open, filling with the turquoise light of the sky. Your Eva lies flat on its back on a steel pad which begins to climb upward toward the opening hatch above as the elevator rises up.

You're vaguely aware of the subtle side-to-side rocking of the freighter you're aboard.
>>
File: Old Tampa.png (436 KB, 888x666)
436 KB
436 KB .png
As the cargo elevator nears its apex, you rise to your feet, compensating for the motion of the ship you're aboard. Standing up, you look across the water and onto the derelict ruins of Old Tampa. The city is far beyond salvaging. Waist-thick kudzu vines wrap the buildings, their tops lost in groves of dense vegetation. Mangrove trees form green patches here and there. With a little magnification you can see flocks of birds roosting in the trees across the ruin.

This city is a grave marker for the countless dead of the Third Impact. You'd been a young girl when it had happened, hardly old enough to understand why your world was suddenly upended. You'd been alone when your mother had died. Your father, the Major, had already been deployed by the US military.

Alone. You'd dealt with it all alone. You were a military brat, you were supposed to be stronger than regular kids. More able to deal with this. Your dad had taught you to be tough, self-reliant, and capable. Maybe that was why you didn't break, maybe that was why you took the chance to be a pilot when your father told you about it.

All around this freighter is a small flotilla of warships bristling with guns and missiles. Cruisers, frigates, and patrol boats. Helicopters buzz and circle above you while jet aircraft orbit high above.

This meager force is all that sits between the ruins and the New Tampa construction area. Further away you can see small green islands, earthen dikes surrounded by mangrove and cypress trees. Above these little islands are the spinning, white blades of the wind turbines which provide power to the farms and homesteads there.

The chatter of the tactical command staff continues as you take all this in.

"Doctor, what's the latest read on the target?" Holiday asks.

"The Magi's consensus is unanimous,." Dr. Kaufman says. "It's an Angel. Currently moving in the shallows around the ruins. Energy readings are fluctuating."

"What exactly does that mean, Doctor?" This time Colonel Versetti speaks. He's your father's old friend from the military, but he's always unsettled you. There's something that feels fake to you about his demeanor. You don't want to dwell on it.
>>
File: 3rd Angel.jpg (140 KB, 848x779)
140 KB
140 KB .jpg
"Unknown," Kaufman answers. "The Magi are still analyzing. This is the first time we've managed to get such close contact with an Angel. With the first two we hardly had time to blink."

"The Evangelion will change all that," Versetti says with utmost confidence. "It's time to take our future back. Major?"

"Sir," your father acknowledges. "Rose, your target is the Third Angel. Designated Garbiel. It's moving among the shallows here. Your orders are to advance and destroy it before it can turn back for New Tampa."

You feel the weight of the attention of this entire task force turning to you. Every sailor, pilot, and staffer turns their hopes to you. You alone can save them or doom them. You refuse to fail. "Understood," you say, "I'll proceed with my orders, Major. Sever is moving out."

You half-hop from the deck of the freighter and splash down into the murky salt shallows, your power cord spooling out behind you, leashing you to the onboard nuclear generator on the freighter. The cord trails along behind you as you walk forward. The water comes up to just below your Eva's hips, cascading away in a rough wake as you wade forward.

You're afraid, but you bury that deep within you, swallowing fear. You've trained as much as you could for this moment. Years of practice, years of reviewing the only existing footage of the first and second Angels. This is your moment.

"Air recon has spotted movement in the city," you father says. "Proceed with caution."

"Affirmative." You decouple the assault rifle from its holster on your Eva's back and ready it. You pause a moment to rub your eyes before proceeding. You pass down the swampy avenue between the skeletal skyscrapers that rise above you. Hollow, empty windows stare back at you. Here and there dirty glass panes are somehow still intact, you catch glimpses of your Eva's reflection. It's staring monoeye seems to haunt you.

"Movement detected ahead, five hundred meters."

You see the splashing a moment after it's announced. A picture-in-picture window appears, giving you a birds eye view, piped in by a recon aircraft. A feathery white wake plows between buildings as some sort of large aquatic creature darts forward.

"Target is closing on Sever."

You see it a second later, the wake banks around a skyscraper and then accelerates straight toward you.


>Open fire on it while you have a clear shot
>Leap onto a nearby skyscraper to avoid it
>Switch to your spear and try to lance it as it passes
>Write in
>>
Good afternoon, TKQM!

>>4923771
>Switch to your spear and try to lance it as it passes
BRACE BRACE BRACE
>>
>>4923771
>Switch to your spear and try to lance it as it passes
>>
>>4923771
>Switch to your spear and try to lance it as it passes

Oh shit, the first use of an Eva.
>>
A moment of indecision comes and goes, passing like a breeze through your mind as combat training takes over. You hear your father's voice in your head,

Don't give them fear. Giving the enemy fear is no different from giving them aid or comfort. Accept that you have nothing to lose, accept that all you have is what you take from them. Give them nothing.

You drop the point of your spear and slide your right leg back, your heel dredging through the silt and sand to crunch into the submerged asphalt of a forgotten city street.

The Angel comes on quicker, whipping and thrashing like a serpent, throwing a pray of seafoam across the flooded buildings. The wake breaks through shattered window panes.

"Come on," you whisper, tightening your grip on the spear shaft. The silver head blurs to white as the vibromotor purrs to life. "Come on you bastard!"

A laser rangefinder ticks the distance down, meters vanishing to nothing until it's on you. Your pour your entire being into one mental command. Thrust!

You lunge with the spear at the apex of the Angel's mad charge. The spearhead finds flesh and punches in, the weight of the Angel slamming into you, kinetic energy unleashing its fury on you.

You cry in alarm as your Eva rocks backward with the impact. Your monitors flash static for a moment. Sickeningly, you become aware of the ground giving way beneath you, the street you stand on has eroded from the tidal activity until it sloughs away. You sense yourself falling, your balance shot.

Your death grip on the spear intensifies, seeking to keep yourself from going over.

The Angel, thoroughly impaled on the spear, thrashes even more intently, throwing water and foam in billowing cascades that swamp your Eva. You catch glimpses of smooth, grey skin and flapping wing-like fins.

"Impact! Target AT Field has been breached," control says.

You grit your teeth and struggle against the Angel's heaving bulk which threatens to bowl you over or wrench your spear free.

***

Roll 1d6. I need 3 rolls total.
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>4925718
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>4925718
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>4925718
>>
>4
>4
>3

Writing
>>
You take a titanic step backward, your foot pulverizing more underwater asphalt before you regain balance and press against the creature with a cry of rage.

The Angel fights even harder, twisting, turning, and pulling to try to free itself. With a powerful tug, it wrenches free. A spray of foamy red blood washes over your Eva and it darts away, swimming deeper into the city.

"Sever, pursue," your father urges.

"Acknowledged! Sever moving!" you press the throttles forward and your Eva lurches to life. Its awkward wading gait gives way to large, powerful strides as you sprint after the fleeing quarry. The Angel's blood cooks off the head of your spear.

In a second you lose sight of it as it rounds a leaning skeletal tower.

"Sonar indicates it's turning back. Target is coming around for another pass."

You come to a halt and ready your spear. "Which way?"

"Your left. Come about thirty degrees."

You turn to face the broad avenue, weapon in hand.

"You have to finish it, Rose," your father says. "Kill it in this pass before it can regenerate."

"Affirmative." You push aside the doubt in your mind that you can do that. If an Eva can't defeat an Angel then there's no hope for mankind.

The Angel again races around the corner, water sheeting across a half-glimpsed, smoothly ridged back.

"Here, I am," you say to yourself. "Come and get me."

The Angel zigs and zags, leaving a bloody trail in the water before it seems to sense you again and rushes forward with a burst of speed.


>Impale it again, the same as before
>Leap onto its back as it passes
>Evade the charge and engage with your rifle
>Write in
>>
>>4925861
>Leap onto its back as it passes
>>
>>4925861
>Impale it again, the same as before
looks like it'll fall for it again.
>>
>>4925861
>Leap onto its back as it passes
>>
>>4925861
>Leap onto its back as it passes
Welcome back TK
>>
>>4926346
>Welcome back TK
Good to be back!

>Leap onto its back as it passes
Writing
>>
You brace your knees and leap at the last second, arcing into the air with a graceful twirl that spins your loose power cable out behind you, narrowly avoiding the Angel's charge. Above it, you can clearly see it's diamond shape, like a massive skate or ray. It's gray back is lined with smooth ridges, a perfect landing spot.

You fall.

A moment after your descent begins, the Angel flaps a powerful wing-fin and overturns itself. As it flips over, you see that its belly is split by a vertical, tooth-lined maw, open and waiting. A tense shock of fear runs through you as you fall helplessly into that mouth. Its jaws snap shut on your Eva's legs, just above the knee. Surprise gives way to pain which shoots through your legs with such intensity that you're unable to scream. Your calves are on fire and you feel the bones of your knees being ground to pulp.

"Sever is taking damage to both legs!"

The Angel's momentum catches you and whips you sideways as it continues swimming at speed, now with you caught.

You suck in a deep breath, trying to find yourself.

"Rose, engage the target!" your father demands.

A twin set of luminescent, pink tails rise from the rear of the animal where a stingray's barbed tail would be.

"Destroy it!" Major Holiday shouts.

You don't have time to go for your rifle. Your spear is in hand, and all you have. You stab it downward into the mouth, shattering a scything tooth and drawing a fountain of blood.

The Angel's tails strike. The first wraps around the shaft of your spear, clenches, and shatters the weapon. The second tail remains pointed at you. You see the glowing tip of that appendage frozen in your vision as it strikes toward you. You gasp.

This is the last thing you ever see with your right eye.

There is a blinding, stabbing pain in your head and you release the controls to grab your face. Tears come instantly, you're crying in agony. No tears come from your right eye, only a thin dribble of blood that runs down your cheek. Your voice cracks as you scream and claw at your own face, trying to remove the wriggling, burning tail from your eye.

"Sever, focus! Focus on the mission!"

The teeth begin chewing and pain shoots anew from both your legs. "Make it stop! Make it stop!" you cry out. Your mind is adrift, cut off from logic and reason, flooded with panic, fear.

The Angel's second tail lashes out, wrapping around your Eva's chest and midriff before constricting with the same force that shattered your spear.
>>
File: Alert.gif (1543 KB, 676x654)
1543 KB
1543 KB .gif
There is a groan of armor plate before your Eva's carapace gives way, buckling under pressure. One of your monitors fizzes out to static and you find you can't draw breath. You can feel your ribs flexing, bending inward as you're constricted. All around you is the sound of armor plate collapsing and bones splintering

"Her AT field is totally gone!"

"It's attacking the Eva directly now," Dr. Kaufman says. "Sever all nerve connections and eject the plug, she's finished."

"Belay that order." This time Colonel Versetti speaks.

"Rose, listen to me. You have to destroy the Angel. You have to destroy it." Despite your unbearable pain and the dim knowledge that you're about to die, your father's voice comes through clearly.

"I-I can't!" you gasp.

The entry plug casing around you fractures. Thick, red blood spills into the LCL around you, swirling to create a red, soupy mix.

"You don't have a choice," your father says. "You don't have any choice, do you hear me!?"

The plug itself now begins collapsing, monitors explode and flick shards of glass through the cockpit, your blood mingles with the Eva's blood in the LCL. You can taste it now, that bloody taste. It fills your nose and mouth and you start to choke. You're going to drown in here.

"Colonel, this is insane, eject the plug, we can still save the pilot!" Kaufman protests.

Versetti doesn't answer.

"Rose, you know what you have to do, so do it!" Your father shouts.

You controls feel so far away from you, your body is wracked by agony as your Eva is being eaten by the angel one painful bite at a time. There's one option left. One way you can still save the city and meet your father's wishes.

Somehow you grope in soupy mix, feeling along the side of the pilot couch until you find the self destruct handle.

"Do it, Rose!"

Awash in a world of blood and pain, you grip the handle just as the lights in your cockpit go out, plunging you into blackness. You pull with everything you can. You pull knowing that you're killing yourself. You pull knowing this is your father's last wish for you.

The handle thunks into place and then your world is erased by light.
>>
File: 2017.jpg (18 KB, 800x600)
18 KB
18 KB .jpg
>2017

You are Captain Rose Holiday and you're standing in Nerv 03's main command center staring at recon photos cycling across the display.

"What's the analysis?" you ask.

"Blood pattern is blue," Yezhov says.

"The Magi are unanimous," Max agrees. "An Angel."

You brush a lock of hair behind your ear and fold your arms, studying the strange images before you. "Then why's it so damn different?"

The Angel in question isn't much like any Angel you've encountered before. The images show a brilliantly green . . . structure. You're having a hard time framing it in your mind. Rising from a central pillar-like stalk, the Angel has burst from the pavement in the middle of Atlanta's financial district. Stalks branch off at regular intervals, creating a fractal pattern, each of which terminates in a broad, flat diamond-shaped plane of green crystal. It's massive, threatening to choke out the skyscrapers around it, easily dwarfing an Eva.

"It looks like a plant," Mbaru says.

You'll be damned if it doesn't. Branches, leaves, even strange crystalline flowers. It also hasn't moved so much as grown. Bursting out of the ground and rapidly expanding. Branches have penetrated into surrounding buildings as it grows skyward, the primary column terminates in an elaborate petal structure which glows red.

You cycle through photos of this thing at various stages of growth.

"Rapid growth over just an hour and now nothing," you say.

"Maybe it's finished," Max suggests.

"Or maybe it's waiting for something else," Yezhov says.

"What's the status on the evacuation?" you turn automatically to Sayid's station before noting that it's empty. "Anyone?"

"The UN is hopping mad," Max says, "They're overseeing the evacuation. Sounds like most people in the immediate vicinity are clear, but they want to know how this thing got into the city."

"Fantastic question," you say. "We'll let them know as soon as we do. What about underground, plants have roots, what's it doing there?"

"Unknown," Mbaru says. "We have no way of getting a clear picture. Minor seismic activity. The city is interfering with detailed ground scans."

The doors at the rear of the room hiss open and your father enters, followed by Colonel Versetti. You salute them both. "Colonel, Major. I wasn't expecting you."

"An Angel has just sprung up like Athena from Zeus's skull," Versetti says. "And the UN Council is demanding we take immediate action."

"We're evaluating our options."

"Then evaluate faster," Your father says. "Time is of the essence here. Every moment we delay gives that thing more time to spread. I don't need to tell you how important that city is for logistics along the southern coast."

"No, sir," you agree.

"Then get me solutions."

You turn back to Yezhov "Has Dr. Caswell and the Science Branch had a chance to analyze the readings?"

Yezhov nods after reading a report on his monitor. "They confirm it is Angel and that is is not growing now. That is all they can confirm."

>Write in
>>
>>4927044
Ah shit. Let's scramble the jets, get some bombs and napalm down. Get an idea of what we're dealing with here.
>>
>>4927040
You pull with everything you can. You pull knowing that you're killing yourself. You pull knowing this is your father's last wish for you.
Cold. But if a self destruct is at least as powerful as a nuke, it's not a terrible option when your only EVA is toast anyway.

Speaking of, what in an EVA would generate that strong of an explosion? It can't be a power core, because EVAs use offshore power. Surely they don't carry nukes onboard purely for self-destruct?

>>4927044
>Plan of action
Keep the evacuation moving. Use military transports if needed, but get them out as soon as possible. Anyone evacuated from the city should be held short-term for any sort of physical changes or other shenanigans. Mask it as a check out procedure or something. This Angel is very out of pattern, and I'm a touch worried it maybe have ability out of normal as well.

Encircle the city, primarily with sensors of various types. Make sure plenty of them are pointed underground. Maybe even stick a few poor guys in the outer sewers. We may not be able to see into the city, but we can watch the boundry.

What is the status of all EVAs? How many EVAs can we get on site, and how quickly?

State of local power grid? Fallback power options if the local grid is compromised?

Suggest slicing (for plant) and blunt (for crystal stuff) melee weapons be on site.


Get the conventional forces to do probing runs, ideally with drones, missiles, and other standoff weapons. We're looking for a reaction. Avoid needless collateral damage, but don't worry about it overmuch.

There's not much info yet, but see if the eggheads have any theories on chemical options for damaging or suppressing it. Something that isn't horribly toxic for humans would be best, but I doubt it'll be that easy. If they do any any ideas on that, jerry rig a bomber wing with as much as the stuff as can be gotten on short notice. If the chemical is safe-ish for humans, go ahead and time the drop with EVA arrival. If bad for humans, keep it in reserve. Make sure the emergency kit in the entry plugs (they have those, right?) contain full face gas masks.
>>
>>4927524
I'm thinking we should avoid fire for now, as this is in the middle of a major city that we'd like to be more-or-less intact after this, and fire has a nasty habit of spreading.
>>
>>4927536
That's fair. I'll swap to your much more thought out write in.
>>
>>4927044
>Equip EVAs with progressive axes.
The whole thing is a crystal rose. An axe seems like a fair compromise between edged and blunt weapons.
>Continue monitoring the situation and hold off on engaging the Angel until EVAs get on site
Atlanta isn't far. Focus on the evacuation. Conventional methods aren't too helpful against Angels but keep them on standby.
>Evaluation
I'm going to guess that something happens when the flower "blooms". That could be an explosion or pollen of some kind. I think this is going to be a DPS race.
>>
>>4928434
Feel free to combine any of these ideas, I'm spitballing here.
>>
No update today. Real life sucker punched me and I have a ton I need to do. I'll continue on Friday, sorry guys

>>4927531
All Evas are operation but Korine is not on active pilot status and cannot be deployed. Katya, Ethan, and Renton are available.

>>4927531
>How many EVAs can we get on site, and how quickly?
Three listed above can be deployed in just a few hours, very quickly.

>>4927531
>State of local power grid? Fallback power options if the local grid is compromised?
Grid is intact and functional, more than enough to power three Evas, Backup generators can also be flown in.
>>
>>4928450
Do what you gotta TK, this will give us time to strategize.
>>
>>4928466
Thanks! I can check in to answer questions throughout the day. Hit me if you have any.
>>
>>4928434
Axes sound like a good idea, if we have them in stock. If not, shorter, heavier blades would be preferable, something along machete lines.

>>4928450
Thanks for the info.

Renton and Korine were out on the last deployment, so Katya and Ethan are up. We'll keep Renton (and Korine) in reserve at home. Here's hoping Katya took Ethan's advice post-mission to heart.

Go ahead and bring backup power systems; This Angel came out of nowhere and is affecting a large area. There's no guarantee they won't cause damage to the grid or the plants themselves.

Among our various bomber loadouts, do we have pure kinetic payloads? Or maybe ICBM kinetic 'warheads'? I'm wondering if they might help shatter the crystal, and pure kinetics have a much lower collateral damage potential. Plus there's no risk of duds resulting in UXO in the city.
>>
Writing
>>
"What are our options for a conventional strike?" you say.

"Conventional?" Major Holiday blurts. "You're joking, Captain. You're going to bomb the city we're trying to save?"

You don't look at your father as you answer. "Precision ordinance. A tactical strike, probing for response. We have to know what it's capable of before we go in blind."

The Major looks at Versetti who remains stone-faced and silent.

"Captain, collateral damage must be minimized at all costs."

"One rule for Buenos Aires, another for your cities, yes?" Yezhov says, not bothering to hide his sneer.

You interject before your father can. "Agent Yezhov, you will recognize command authority or you will be escorted from this command room by NervSec, is that clear?" You narrow your good eye at him.

Yezhov snorts and turns back to his monitor, what's gotten into him you can't imagine.

This time, the Colonel speaks. "This is a delicate situation. Buenos Aires cannot be allowed to happen again. Burning down a flooded ruin in an act of desperation is one thing. When I made that call, I did so knowing I had no alternative. You have an alternative, Captain. Deploy the Evangelions."

You nod. "Once I've gauged the situation, we'll do so." You turn to Mbaru. "Renton and Korine sortied last time. Put Katya and Ethan on this one. Transfer Hydra and Corvus to Snelson AFB via the number eight transit rail."

Mbaru plugs in the commands.

"Outfit them with gladius and progressive axes."

"No ranged weapons?" Max asks.

"In close quarters, I'm dubious how useful they'd be. Make sure we deploy the backup power generator too." You spy Yezhov glowering at his terminal. "Agent Yezhov." You wait until he looks at you.

"Captain?" The fury on his face is naked, raw. You don't allow him an inch.

"What are our options for a payload to strike this thing with?"

"I confer with Science Division," he says curtly.

"You do that."

"Max, conventional assets?"

"There's an armored brigade already deploying to the city from Fort Benning for evacuation assistance and fixed-wing attack craft from Dobbins AFB."

"Task a squadron to attack the Angel," you say. "We'll transfer the Evas north, it will at least buy us some intel."
>>
The attack squadron levels out on final approach toward the target. They're flying low enough to maintain visual on the Angel rising like a glass flower from the heart of the city.

Ten strike fighters close at speed, each one carrying a half-dozen laser guided bombs with enough explosive force to shatter a steel-reinforced concrete bunker or split a battle tank open like a rotten fruit.

"Target, sixty seconds. Arm weapons."

"Affirm, weapons armed."

The range finder steadily counts the distance down to weapon release.

"Paint the target."

"Thirty seconds."

Each man prepares to drop their ordinance.

***

"High energy reading," Max says.

On the main monitor of Nerv 03's central command, you watch the Angel's flower top glow with inner red light before a beam lances out and sweeps the sky. Each of the attack craft explodes at the slightest caress from this high intensity beam. A heartbeat later, ribbons of metal fall from black smoke puffs like rain.

"Attack squadron totally destroyed," Max says softly.

You nod, internalizing the information. The Angel struck as soon as it was targeted by the laser guidance system.

"Alright, lets a ground approach. One company. No guided munitions."

Max hesitates until you look at him. "One company, got it."

***

The streets of Atlanta's financial district are deserted. The civilians in this area had evacuated long ago, allowing the tanks of the armored company to advance at speed, their treads a blur. Behind them. Here and there a parked car remained abandoned. The tanks hardly slowed for these, battering them aside or simply rolling over top of them, crushing them like empty cans.

The commander of the lead tank pears from his open cupola hatch, staring up at the towering Angel in something like dread.

"In range, sir."

"Company, full stop," the commander says.

The tanks shudder to a halt, aligning the muzzles of their main guns with the Angel. The commander knows this is a fool's errand. He's the one meant to trip whatever tricks the Angel has in store. So be it.

"Fire."

Each gun booms, slinging an armor piercing sabot faster than the eye can follow. The shells streak through the air, angling straight at the Angel's main trunk before they strike an invisible barrier, glancing off to ricochet wildly away.

"Reverse, company withdraw!"

The pavement in front of his tank factures open and a sharp, glassy black tendril shoots upward before angling to face him.

His grabs for the pintle-mounted machine gun beside him on reflex. It wouldn't make a difference.

This root stabs out with blinding speed and spears his tank as others are similarly attacked.
>>
In Nerv 03, you watch the tank company taken apart in short succession by the submerged roots. They emerged from the ground and from neighboring buildings to attack the tank, not stopping until the vehicles are wrecked. Some of the crew bail out and flee on foot unmolested.

"Self defense," you say. "The Angel is reacting to hostility and protecting itself."

"Are you suggesting it can think?" your father asks.

"I don't care if it can think or not, but it seems to follow a pattern of behavior. You look at your watch. "What's the ETA on the Evas?"

"Hydra and Corvus are thirty minutes out," Mbaru says,

"Have the UN ground forces draw back and form a perimeter around the Angel. No one gets closer. I also want seismic sensors deployed at regular intervals around the perimeter. If this thing is growing underground, I want to know." You turn for the door.

"Where are you going?" your father asks.

"Science Division. I want to see what Caswell and Yezhov have for me."

Within a minute, you're in Science Division, seated in a deserted auditorium with Yezhov, looking up at the screen Caswell stands beside.

"It appears to be a plant," he says. "I mean, superficially. Leaves, roots, stems, a flower." He indicates these things on the image behind him. "It grows like a plant, it's largely stationary like a plant. Truly remarkable, it's almost like this is another branch of the Angel evolutionary family we've never seen. Some other possibility of life."

"Fascinating," you reply sardonically. "But I'm much more interested in how we kill it."

"Well, Rose, we just don't know that much about it," Caswell says, tapping his chin and studying the image. "Spectrographic analysis indicates that it's crystalline, as it appears, not flesh. I'll be surprised if it bleeds. We don't know how it sustains itself, if it sustains itself. It looks like a plant, but again, that resemblance may purely be superficial."

"Can we spray something on it? Defoliant?"

He shrugs. "You could. But I think you'd be wasting your time. Even Angels that are more recognizably biological don't seem to follow laws of biology. I doubt any poisons mankind has ever dreamed of would have any effect."

"Useless," Yezhov mutters, loud enough for you to hear.

"We tried to attack it with guided munitions and it defended itself. It seemed to sense the attack."

"Yes!" Caswell says, "I saw. Fascinating. I mean, tragic obviously, but how it was able to determine our intent was pretty incredible. Of course, it could just be coincidence. Maybe some distance threshold we crossed which caused it to defend itself."

"My last option is to send in the Evas," you say. "And it looks like that's going to be a slog. Unless you have anything for me."

Caswell looks at Yezhov who just shrugs.

"Maybe," he says. "But . . . it's pretty out there."

"I'll take 'out there'."
>>
"Have you ever heard the term 'rods from the gods'?"

"Is that a euphemism?" you ask, raising an eyebrow.

Caswell flusters a second. "Ah, no. It's an old military project from before Second Impact, it was folded into a project called 'Brilliant Pebbles'." He chuckles. "It's a play on words, you see? 'Brilliant Pebbles' are 'smart rocks'."

You don't react.

Caswell clears his throat. "In short, it's a kinetic payload delivered at high velocity, usually from orbit, rather than an explosive payload."

"What's the point?" you ask, before realizing what he's getting at. "You think it can be shattered?"

He nods. "Yes. Well, maybe. It seems likely. I think if we disrupt the central structure enough, the whole thing will go off like Prince Rupert's Drop."

"Roger," you warn.

He collects his thoughts. "What I'm getting at is 'yes'. I think it can be shattered."

"So can we hit it with the smart rocks?"

He shakes his head. "The project never got off the ground so to speak. However!" He holds up a finger. "I think we might be able to cobble together the next best thing. A tungsten penetrator the size of a telephone pole, carried via an intercontinental ballistic missile. The targeting on those isn't exactly pin-point perfect. But I think we can launch a whole batch, like a shotgun blast-" he mimes a spread with his fingers. "The penetrators theoretically could cause substantial collateral damage if they miss, but it will be nothing compared to a nuclear strike."

"In short," you say.

"In short, if you give me some time I can replace the MIRVs on an ICBM with tungsten rails, and we can launch from a missile base out west and drop it right on the Angel's head. It would never see it coming."

"And the downsides?"

He frowns slightly. "Two obstacles. The first is time. I think with some hard pushing from Colonel Versetti, we can get everything we need set up and deployed within twenty four hours."

Convincing Versetti to green-light dropping sub-orbital tungsten rods on Atlanta was going to be a tough sell, but you think you might be able to swing it provided Roger is confident in this plan. "And the second thing?" you ask.

"The AT Field," Roger says. "High-velocity or not, I don't have high hopes of a clear penetration of an AT field. If the Evas can get close just before the moment of impact, I think we can neutralize the field and shatter the Angel-" He claps his hands. "-like that.

Twenty four hours to leave the Angel alone, unchecked. It's already grown massively in just a few, though it seems to have stopped. You have no idea what could happen in twenty four hours.


>I'll talk Versetti into it, begin preparations right away
>Too many variables. We'll launch a standard Eva sortie
>We'll sortie with the Evas right away. If they fail, we'll go to your plan as the backup.
>Write in
>>
>>4929912
>write in
"How many of these payloads can we prepare?"
send one in initially as a test of the spread/accuracy. Even if it fails to puncture the AT field, it will give a good idea of the accuracy error to be dialed on on subsequent shots.

Assuming that the AT field protects the angle, advance the Evas when the second ICBM is ready. Use them as both a distraction and a way to counter the AT field. Drop the second, hopefully more accurate, tungsten spikes with the AT field down.
>>
>>4929912
>I'll talk Versetti into it, begin preparations right away
>>
>>4929912
>I'll talk Versetti into it, begin preparations right away
>>
>>4929906
>"Attack squadron totally destroyed," Max says softly.
>His grabs for the pintle-mounted machine gun beside him on reflex. It wouldn't make a difference.
Aw hell. I hate spending good men and materiel like that. I wish we had more long range options for probing.

>>4929912
>"Have you ever heard the term 'rods from the gods'?"
Those were the things I was thinking of when I asked about kinetics, though true orbital-launched RFGs have so much energy on impact they act like meteor impacts.
If these ICBM-based ones work, we're going to want a substantial part of our existing missiles converted to kinetics; the nukes don't do the work anymore, and kinetics don't leave fallout.


>"Is that a euphemism?" you ask, raising an eyebrow.
Rose, you can't give others a hard time about cracking jokes when you're doing it yourself.

>Write in
>We'll sortie with the Evas right away as aggressive recon. If they get too much pushback, we'll pull them back and wait for the missiles.

>"No ranged weapons?" Max asks.
Ideally, they'll still have pistols on hand. But I think it may be a little late for that. Do we even have EVA sidearms?

While we're at it, continue to get as many sensors on this thing as possible. Most Angels before this one have only been 'visible' for a short time before they were destroyed; this is an excellent opportunity to get slower, more powerful sensors in place to examine an Angel while it's still 'alive'.
>>
>>4930417
>Do we even have EVA sidearms?
Dunno, but revolvers would be cool
>>
>>4927531
>Speaking of, what in an EVA would generate that strong of an explosion?

Sorry, I missed this question. I'm not 100% sure. They do that in canon, but it's never really explained. My own personal explanation is that all Eva's have an S2 core like Angel's do, only the Eva's is inactive. Hence they are capable of exploding with force.

>>4930417
>Do we even have EVA sidearms?
They Do exist, but given how relatively ineffective things like assault rifles are, a pistol would likely be nearly useless.
>>
>>4929912
>>4929945 supporting
>I'll talk Versetti into it, begin preparations right away
>>
>>4930687
They do have cores.
>>
>I'll talk Versetti into it, begin preparations right away
>>4930242
>>4930261
>>4931618

+

Write in

Writing
>>
You mentally review all the details a moment before speaking. "How many of these ballistic penetrator warheads could we prepare?"

Caswell hesitates. "I . . . guess there's not really an upper limit. The bottleneck is boosters and guidance assemblies, and god knows we've got plenty of those lying around from before Second Impact. Western vintage I mean. The old soviet models don't have the sort of accuracy we need."

"What assurance you have that American missiles can hit a target so small?" Yezhov asks.

Caswell's grin falters. "Well . . . none I suppose."

You ignore the bickering. "Get two ready ASAP," you say. "American-make for now, until we can get hard data about the Russian models."

"I'll get right on it."

"I want the first shot ready in twelve hours."

"Twelve?" Caswell freezes.

"Twelve," you repeat. "Consider it a test. Let's see if we can even hit the bastard before we throw the Evas into the mix. Get the Magi running simulations of an Eva attack as well as a missile attack. I want some hard data."

Caswell nods.

"And get as many science division field teams as you can to Atlanta. We don't often have a chance to study our enemy for long. Let's do the best we can with this."

"What about Versetti?" Caswell asks.

You stand up, feeling the muscles in your leg pulling from the injury you'd taken thirteen years ago. You don't allow yourself a grimace, and you refuse to limp out of here. "Leave the Colonel to me."
>>
The conference room you stand in is drowned in darkness, only the three people physically present are visible, each wrapped in a stark circle of light. You have the sensation of being watched. This conference room is equipped with an advanced communication suite allowing long-distance, real time virtual interactions. Your father and Colonel Versetti make frequent use of it when dealing with their superiors in the UN.

"Have you lost your mind?" Major Holiday demands. "You want us to drop an ICBM on Atlanta?"

You don't flinch, keeping your good eye fixed straight ahead at a point between Versetti and your father. "The standard nuclear payload will be traded out for a collection of tungsten penetrator rods, each one slaved to the terminal guidance package of a repurposed independently targeted reentry vehicle. The Magi have run weapons simulations and found the weapon spread to be within a fifty-five percent probability of optimal outcome."

The Major is dumbfounded for a moment, gaping silently at you. You catch his eyes flick to Versetti, gauging the colonel's opinion. From your point of view, Versetti is as still as the surface of a lake. He sits, hands folded, his lips formed into a placid smile. You also know that Versetti might just be the only person on this world that your father trusts. They've been working together a long time, long enough to read one another at a glance.

"Fifty-five percent," Holiday repeats, "meaning what exactly?"

"In eleven hundred computer simulations we received an optimum result in six hundred and five of them." You reply with mechanical precision, not daring to let an ounce of emotion into your reply.

"What's optimal, Captain?" Versetti asks, the first time he's spoken in this meeting.

You swallow. "An optimum result is that one of the penetrators hits the target."

"Then we have almost fifty-fifty odds of even hitting the target?" Holiday presses.

"Yes, sir."

"And this is your plan?"

"Sir, in simulations of a direct Eva attack, the outcome was significantly worse. Thirty percent probability of target destruction, eighty percent probability of one or both units being rendered inoperable." You don't bother to give him the probabilities for the pilots surviving.

"That's abysmal," Holiday says. "You're the tactical commander for this base, you understand that? You want us to believe that-" Holiday draws short, noting a slight hand gesture from Versetti.

"This is your favored plan, captain?" Versetti asks.

You don't answer right away. You're smart enough to know that's not what Versetti wants to hear. "This is the best plan with the resources we have, and the one with the highest probability of destroying the Angel within twenty four hours."

Versetti and Holiday are silent, but they trade a look. It only lasts a second.

"Then it's the plan we have," Versetti says at last. "See to it, captain."

You salute. "Sir." You turn with military precision and leave.
>>
The door closes behind Captain Holiday and a half-dozen other figures appear around the conference table, the UN committee in holographic form, at its head, Chairman Saito sits opposite Colonel Versetti.

"You place too much faith in your friend's daughter, Colonel."

"Captain Holiday serves our needs," Versetti replies, not rising to the bait. "Were she not the best candidate for the role, she would be replaced."

"You don't truly intend to go through with this scheme, do you?" The French representative demands.

"I do," Versetti says. "If the plan fails, we have all the usual fail safes, beyond which Atlanta is important in the short term, but New Tampa will soon eclipse it as an infrastructural hub."

"See to it that you don't fail," Saito says.

The Committee vanishes and the lights in the conference room come up, revealing the multitude of projectors and plastic screens needed to bring the holograms to life.

"Touchy," Holiday says.

"They've lost one of their pawns," Versetti says. "We knew how they would react to us eliminating the spy."

"The old bastards expect us to keep doing their dirty work despite everything," Holiday says, hands clenched in rage. "After all they took from us-"

Versetti holds up a hand to silence him. "In time," he says. "The stage is set, and with the spy removed, we have more freedom to act. Kaufman has been silenced, and Womack has been firmly shackled to his work. The old men won't know that their plan has been changed until it's too late."

"I hope you're right about this, Versetti," Holiday says. "We only have one chance."

"Timing my friend. It's all in the timing." He smiles.
>>
You are Ethan Chandler, Evangelion pilot, and you're outside of Atlanta, sitting on a tall metal gantry which currently acts as the staging platform for your Eva, Hydra. The city of Atlanta sprawls before you. Relatively untouched by Second Impact, it experienced a massive boom afterward, growing exponentially as former trade hubs like New York and Tokyo were vaporized, and London flooded.

The crystal towers of the newer financial district are testament enough to the success they found. Of course now those towers play host to the truly alien. The Angel growing in their midst would seem more alive if it moved more like a plant. Since it overshadows many of the skyscrapers around it, it's no doubt beset by high winds, but you haven't seen it move at all.

You find its stillness eerie, but it's undeniably beautiful, easily the most beautiful Angel you've seen. The geometry of its lines and angles is perfect somehow, almost artistic. It reminds you of math, of fractals and the golden ratio.

Your plugsuit does little to ward the breeze that whips around the gantry and you pull your arms closer to yourself.

You can see a military cordon extending in both directions forming a perfect circle around the affected part of the city. Armored vehicles, trucks, spotlights, and sensor gear dot the line at regular intervals, all intermittently patrolled by men in olive green uniforms and Nerv science division personnel collecting readings.

The sound of footsteps on metal makes you look back. Katya approaches, also in her plugsuit.

"I interrupting?" she asks.

"No," you shake your head. "Just looking at it."

She comes and leans on the railing, looking toward it.

"It's pretty, huh?" you say.

"Pretty? No. Evil."

Her curt dismissal catches you off guard. You don't bother to tell her something can be both.

"Still, it's something to look at. Sometimes I can't help but wonder why they're here," you say.

"Angels?"

"Yeah."

Katya shakes her head.

"What's up?" you ask. "Need something?"

"I . . . no." Katya tenses. "I just come to . . ."

"Keep me company?"

"Yes." She does not elaborate.


>"Are you worried because of what happened in our last battle together? This won't be like that."
>"Thanks for sitting with me. I hate to be alone before a mission."
>Say nothing. Just sit.
>Write in
>>
>>4934077
>"Thanks for sitting with me. I hate to be alone before a mission."
>>
>>4934077
>>Say nothing. Just sit.
We've done the quiet comfortable silence thing with her before; Neither of us are the chatterer type.

>"Then we have almost fifty-fifty odds of even hitting the target?" Holiday presses.
>"Yes, sir."
Urg.
Still, kinetics have a fraction of the collateral damage potential. While it will cause damage to the city, at least there'll be a city to fix afterwords.

Crazy idea: I suggest we spin off a part of the R&D department as a "mad science" group. They'd be specialized in coming up with crazy applications of existing technology that could be weaponized against theoretical Angels.
I doubt conventional forces will ever be more than auxiliary, but if we can make them useful for more than suicide-by-scouting, it will go a long way in reducing our dependence on the EVAs.
>>
>>4934387
I'll support both of these. I do wonder when Linda will appear next. How long has it been since Ethan last encountered her?
>>
>>4934630
>I do wonder when Linda will appear next. How long has it been since Ethan last encountered her?
We last saw her shortly before the arc end, where it was indicated she'd be leaving for a while because we'd messed up. The only hint we've had as to the time between the arcs is that Korine is still off-duty, Renton is at least healed enough from the burn damage to be back on the roster, and all the EVAs are repaired.

I'd like to see her again especially as an emotion backstop for Ethan during combat, but I doubt she'll be around for a while.
That's a good point actually; This will be Ethan's first fight without her in the flesh or in spirit. I hope that doesn't rattle him too bad.
>>
>>4934077
>>"Thanks"
Short and sweet.

>>4934387
I support the RND proposal.
>>
>>4934077
>"Are you worried because of what happened in our last battle together? This won't be like that."
>>
Writing
>>
>>4934630
>How long has it been since Ethan last encountered her?
Several days at least Likely a week or two.
>>
"Thanks," you say.

The rumble of heavy machinery passes beneath you. A column of tracked carriers with missile racks on their roughs drives north, toward the city to reinforce the perimeter. You wonder if it makes anyone feel safer to have these military assets around the Angel. Is it just psychological? Who is it supposed to comfort, the civilians who live in the surrounding area or the higher ups sitting nervously in their bunkers.

You think about Linda. This is your first battle without her. The last time you and Katya had fought as a team, you'd very nearly died. Only Linda's intervention had saved you. She claims you saved her once, you suppose that makes you even. All the same, you feel that old nervous tension creeping into your gut. Fear that crystalizes to a raw anger. Katya is right, the Angel isn't pretty, it's evil.

You're just too afraid to accept the unknown. You kill Angels, how am I any different?

Linda's words sting to recall. Were you being single-minded? The Angels were a clear threat to mankind. They existed only to destroy and to take and to ruin. You'd grown up in the ashes of a world they'd tried to burn to the ground.

But this Angel does nothing. It's fixed in place by roots, growing steadily toward the sun. Does it really have to die? What would Linda say?

"Ethan," Katya says, cutting your thoughts short.

"What's up?"

"I want you to know, I remember what you say to me. We are a team. We will fight together."

Before you can answer, a series of megaphones along the perimeter crackle to life. "All personnel be advised, Longshot in five minutes. Forward reconnaissance teams draw back to safe distance."

"I'm not worried about it," you tell her. "If we fight together there's not an Angel around that can stand."

She smiles slightly before turning her face away, hiding her expression.

The Angel glitters in the reflected light of a dozen spotlights. Each facet of the prisms that make its leaves seems to catch the light differently, throwing a hundred crisscrossing rainbows across the emerald trunk.

This Angel has to die. Even if it's just because those are your orders. You're one man against the weight of the world. It's immaterial what your opinion is. You're a soldier.
>>
File: FinalDescent.png (885 KB, 694x607)
885 KB
885 KB .png
Inside Nerv 03's Central Command room, the tactical staff watch the main display with growing apprehension. Smaller displays show the camera feed from the main missile body as it finishes terminal alignment and separates the final descent stage. Metallic chaff flutters away in the black void of low orbit as the stages separate.

The blue-white curve of the earth is visible for a moment in the grainy camera feed as the booster re-aligns. The planet seems both indestructible and fragile from this god-like view. The mission timer continues to count past zero.

"MIRV separation confirmed," Max says, reading his display. "Terminal descent commencing."

Rose doesn't reply, keeping her jaw clenched tight, staring hard at the monitor, willing success. She doesn't look back at her father and Versetti watching. This is a roll of the dice.

If there is a God, she muses, now's a good time for Him to act.

***

The activity at the perimeter falls to nothing. All eyes are turned inward toward the angel. The lenses of binoculars glint in the light. Targeting arrays, radar dishes, neutrino scanners, and all manner of sensors are aimed at the Angel.

A large LED display nearby ticks off the seconds until impact. Less than a minute remains.

Katya and Ethan watch transfixed, waiting for the attack.

***

Roll 1d6. I need 3 rolls total.
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>4935553
>"All personnel be advised, Longshot in five minutes.
A fitting name, in more ways than one.

>>4935555
no whammy no whammy
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>4935555
Bring the Iron Rain!
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>4935555
>>
Oh fuck the 2s have returned
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>4935555
Damn. Missed the roll because I was at work. Don't count my roll. That bit about the golden ratio makes me wonder if there's a way to mathematically deduce a weak point in the Angels structure.
>>
>>4936006
Jesus these twos! Definitely don't count that!
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>4935555
>>
File: 22222222222.jpg (174 KB, 1606x902)
174 KB
174 KB .jpg
>All these desperate rolls.
Fate has spoken.

Writing
>>
File: 1461194527936.jpg (14 KB, 324x451)
14 KB
14 KB .jpg
Rolled 6, 4, 5, 5, 6, 1, 2, 1, 5, 1, 3, 5, 2, 3, 6, 4, 1, 6, 6, 2, 2, 6 = 82 (22d6)

>>4936644
oh no
>>
You are Ethan Chandler, and only see the briefest flicker of light pass across your vision before you see a towering skyscraper crumble into glittering dust. The sound of the impact comes a moment later like a thunderclap, like God snapped His fingers. You feel it in your chest.

A hushed murmur goes up from the soldiers on the ground around you. Camera shutters click, capturing the event.

Four more impacts sound off as each of the tungsten penetrator rods strikes the ground successively, gradually moving away from the target. A few punch into open spaces like streets or parking garages, others clip buildings, twisting frames and blowing out windows into a shower of glass.

The sound of the impacts reverberates in the silence that follows.

The Angel shudders, it's leaves all trembling at once, fluttering in unison a moment before stopping. It sounds like a giant wind chime.

Then nothing.

Katya blinks, then looks at you. "We missed?"
>>
You are Captain Rose Holiday in Nerv 03 Central Commander.

"Yes, ma'am," Max confirms. "A miss. All five rods overshot the target. Closest impact was one hundred and fifty meters away."

You swear under your breath.

"That's practically right on top of it, captain," Dr. Caswell says. He'd come up to the command center to watch the strike. The amount of room for error, accounting for atmospheric conditions, the earth's rotation-"

"We missed, Doctor," you say, cutting him short. "I don't care if it's by an inch or a mile, we missed."

Caswell refuses to be drawn into your anger. He looks you in the eyes, "Yes, but that means we've got a better chance of not missing the next time."

"We can ready another shot," Max suggests. "We've got plenty of those old missiles."

"There's no time for that." Colonel Versetti speaks and everyone falls silent, all eyes go to him. "Every moment we let this abomination remain is a moment we risk annihilation. There won't be any additional test shots. You have the Evangelions in place, and they've always been our first line of defense. Initiate the attack and coordinate it with the last missile. If the attack fails, we have Orion on standby."

He means if the pilots are killed.

You remain stiffly at attention as Versetti speaks to you and respond only with "Sir." You turn to your team. "Doctor, prepare Longshot II."

"We'll analyze the telemetry data and adjust our next shot," Caswell says. "If it hits-"

"If." You cut him off again with that word, not willing to let his boundless optimism taint a very down to earth planning session. You're not in the mood. "Yezhov, coordinate with the UN forces on site and prepare for the attack. Max, run final diagnostics on the Eva systems and weapons. Mbaru, what do we have ready?"

"Progressive cleaver for Katya," Mbaru says, "A battle axe for Ethan."

You saw the videos of the tank company being taken apart by those root-like structures, you saw how fast they reacted to a threat to the central body. You just hope the Evas can get close enough to lower the AT field. Then it's up to Roger's missile strike. You have to hope this time his added data helps.

The plan is straight forward: advance both Evas as a team directly at the Angel, getting as close as possible before attacking. Do you want to make any changes?


>No, proceed with the plan
>Yes (Write in)
>>
File: GO GO GOOOOOOO.gif (2090 KB, 700x415)
2090 KB
2090 KB .gif
>>4936673
>only see the briefest flicker of light pass across your vision before you see a towering skyscraper crumble into glittering dust.
That is a wild image.

>>4936677
A single tweak: make sure the EVAs are spaced out enough to avoid AOE attacks getting both of them. Otherwise,
>>No, proceed with the plan
There are too many unknowns to make any more complex plans. Let's get some.
>>
>>4936677
>No, proceed with the plan
My biggest concern is possibly hitting our EVAs with Long shot 2. They'd get eviscerated.
>>
>>4936677
>>>No, proceed with the plan
Cue "Decisive Battle"
>>
>No, proceed with the plan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJQTWuVlp08

Writing
>>
File: rose1000hours.jpg (122 KB, 720x480)
122 KB
122 KB .jpg
>>4938152
>1000 hours in MS Paint
>>
File: ETA-min.gif (6231 KB, 981x600)
6231 KB
6231 KB .gif
"We're go for Longshot 2. Have the Evas prepare to launch," you say. You spare a glance toward the end of the control room, toward the Colonel and your father, their expressions unreadable.

The display behind you switches over to a full-screen countdown starting at fifteen minutes.

"Sierra Castle missile base reports Longshot 2 is airborne," Max says.

You nod. "Alert the pilots. I want them advancing in ten minutes."

***

You are Ethan Chandler and now you're nestled within the armored entry plug deep in Hydra's heart. Final ignition checks complete, the voices of technicians buzzing distantly on the radio as the electrical system of your Evangelion hums to life, impelling nerves and muscles to obey your commands. You feel a strange mental pressure weighing on your mind as you synchronize with the Eva. Its nerves become yours, and your thoughts become its.

"Hydra is online and active. All systems nominal," a technician says, silencing the radio chatter.

To your right is a small timer running down from fifteen. It represents the time until the second missile strike will arrive. If all goes according to plan, you'll be in perfect position to neutralize the Angel's AT field when the missiles strike it, destroying it. That's a long way to go in a short time. Timing is going to be everything.

You open your fist, laying your palm open on your leg. A single, pristine, white feather rests delicately on your skin. It's not possible of course. It's not possible that you had this feather clenched in your hand a moment ago, and it's not possible that you have it with you here now. You didn't bring it with you into the cockpit, not consciously anyway. It's a final calling card from Linda, a single feather left behind. It's with you when you want it, and gone when you forget it, like a relic of memory.

You turn it over, holding it carefully as if you could break it. Whatever tied Linda to you, you remain tied through this feather somehow. It's a reminder that she's left, but she's not gone.

"Linda." You close your eyes and close your hand around the feather. You focus your thoughts inward, stilling your mind and calming your nervousness. For a moment there's nothing but then . . . there! You feel it, like the delicate vibrations of a taut string. Notes, bars, a melody. You could hum along if you wanted to. The Waltz. Linda's Waltz.
>>
"Hydra, Corvus, acknowledge."

"Hydra copies," you say, opening your eyes and taking the throttles in hand, song forgotten.

"Corvus copies," Katya echoes. Her image appears in a small window on your display, her features set, serious, focused.

Rose appears center frame, looking as anxious as you've ever seen her. "Longshot 2 is inbound. Dr. Caswell assures me they've calibrated this second shot so it will hit. You need to make sure you're in position beside the Angel before it hits to neutralize its AT field. When you're that close, your own AT field will be gone. The chances of you being hit by one of the lances are slim to none, but be careful."

"What if the shot misses?" you ask.

"It won't," Rose says.

"But if it does?" you press.

Rose doesn't say anything. "We're all counting on you. Do whatever it takes to destroy that Angel."

"Yes, ma'am."

Rose hesitates a moment. "And both of you come home in one piece." Her image vanishes and the final restraining locks on your Eva release. A glance at the timer tells you that you have about ten minutes to cross through the city and get in close. Ten minutes is a long time be be in close proximity with an Angel.

"Ready, Katya?" you ask.

Corvus steps from its gantry nearby, its white armor shining in the sun. "Ready." She carries a huge longsword with a thick blade. You have your own heavy weapon, a double-bladed Ax. What better for cutting down an Angel?

You don't say anything else, there's nothing to say. You advance.

The two of you walk carefully and deliberately forward, moving steadily into the more and more heavily urbanized financial district, closer to the Angel's main body. It's gargantuan, towering over you, casting distorted colored shadows across the ground as sunlight passes through its crystal leaves.

In the probing attacks, the Angel seemed to respond to aggression, so your plan is to get as close as you can before the Angel reacts.

It doesn't take long.

"Seismic readings ahead," Max says. "It's reacting."

The street before you ruptures and a black, shining tendril strikes out, lancing straight for your Eva. You turn aside, avoiding the attack and bring your axe down on it out of instinct. The progressive blade cleaves through the root with a sound like cutting glass. The severed end explodes into splinters which scatter harmlessly through the air.

"Engaging!" Katya shouts, batting away a similar attack and avoiding another.

The building beside you explodes as a fresh tendril lashes out from it. The ground seems to crawl and squirm, as if it's alive as more tendrils move to attack.

You have five minutes until the missile arrives.


>Rush the Angel's main body together
>Stay here and keep the tendrils occupied while Katya moves in on the Angel
>Split up and try to move toward the Angel's stalk separately
>Write in
>>
>>4938251
>>Rush the Angel's main body together
>>
>>4938251
>Write in
Essentially move together but staggered. Push into the center of the Angel but leap frog when necessary to watch each other's back. I get the feeling these roots are going to be every where.
>>
>>4938248
> For a moment there's nothing but then . . . there! You feel it, like the delicate vibrations of a taut string. Notes, bars, a melody. You could hum along if you wanted to. The Waltz. Linda's Waltz.
Good to know she's still got our back if things go off the rails.

>>4938251
>The chances of you being hit by one of the lances are slim to none, but be careful."
Rose, I know you're being supportive, but we all saw the first round come in; we wouldn't have time to realize we were in the path, nevermind any attempt to dodge. We'd exist in one moment, and... not exist in the next.

>>4938279
this. bounding isn't strictly necessary in this situation, but it may help us keep better situational awareness as we move.
>>
>>4938251
>>4938279
>>
>>4938279
Support.
They are everywhere at the same time. "Expect the unexpectable".
>>
>>4938279
>This

Writing
>>
"Seismic disturbances increasing."

You don't need the reminder. You twist and turn, parrying attacks as the come in, your axe swinging to and fro. Shards of severed appendages rattle off your Eva's armor like crystal rain.

"Ethan!" Katya's warning comes a moment before she swipes her cleaver and bisects a stabbing tendril that was coming for you.

The timer is rapidly falling to zero.

"We're going to get torn apart here," you say, the two of you going back to back, watching more roots slither like glass snakes from shattered streets and crumbling buildings. It feels like the city is falling apart around you.

"Da."

"Go. I'll buy a little time, we'll leapfrog."

"Ethan, I-"

"Go!" You don't give yourself time to be afraid and leap toward the massing tendrils, axe singing through the air.

Katya drops her Eva into a sprinter's posture and explodes toward the Angel, feet pounding and arms pumping. With the effortless grace of a dancer she side steps one attack and leaps over another before landing and continuing on, racing for the towering Angel's central stalk.

You need to buy her a second before it catches on. You loop your axe in a circle overhead before bringing it crashing through a tendril slithering toward your leg. The Axe cleaves it and embeds itself in the pavement, radiating massive fault lines in all directions. You're off balance for a moment, enough time for your guard to be down.

Another root smashes into your rib cage with the force of a freight train. Your Eva lurches sideways and you gasp from pain. You have enough foresight to use the momentum of this hit to wrench your axe free and deal a retributive blow to the root, smashing it to shards.

"Ethan, now, come!"
>>
You don't hesitate, you trust. Turning, you sprint after Katya, moving neatly through the small gap she left in her passing. As you run along, trying in vain to catch up with her, you see furrows in the pavement chasing after her, others arrowing in ahead to intercept. The Angel hasn't given up.

Your timer shows three minutes.

"Katya, move your ass!"

She doesn't respond as the intercepting tendrils reach her and attack. She cuts off a pair of them before a third wraps around her legs from directly underneath and yanks her flat on the ground. She hardly has time to cry out before you reach her, cutting the tendril and then another before the two of you are on the move again.

"Evas are entering AT neutralization range," Caswell says. "You guys have to stay close to make sure the field goes down. No matter what! Just . . . don't get too close."

You don't have time to criticize the contradictory direction, the tendrils are looping back, racing at you and then . . . they stop. It's as if an invisible wall has stopped them all.

"The roots," Katya says.

"Maybe we're out of range," you suggest.

The Angel shudders, the leaves flapping as if caught in a breeze. You and Katya turn and look up to see the Angel contorting itself, branches curl and change angles, leaves rotate, sunlight flashing off their smooth surfaces as they come into alignment.

"High energy buildup detected within Angel's central structure."

The red flower atop the Angel begins to glow with an alien light, petals shifting and aligning like an array of lenses.

You remember watching this exact weapon cut down a flight of aircraft with little effort. Now it seems to be channeling even more energy to this attack.


>Split up and circle the Angel
>Advance and attack the stalk directly
>Circle the angel together
>Write in
>>
>>4939632
>You don't hesitate, you trust.
That's what it's all about.

>Split up and circle the Angel
Cold calculation time. A singular massive beam weapon won't be able to hit both us of if we're on opposite sides of it. Plus, the lateral movement relative to it should make the targeting difficult (hopefully).
>>
>>4939632
>Split up and circle the Angel

>>4939821
>singular massive beam weapon won't be able to hit both us
But what if it splits into two?
>>
>>4939628
>Split up and circle the Angel
>>
>>4939821
Support
I would also suggest weaving between the exposed roots and branches. Don't stay still but if we can cause it to hit itself that'd be a nice bonus.

>>4939836
I'm hoping against hope that it can't split the beam. Even in the case that it can't split the beam whoever it happens to target is probably going to get their power umbilical cord cut. If it can split the beam well... we're on a timer anyways.
>>
>Split up and circle the Angel
>>4939821
>>4939836
>>4939955
>>4939983


Writing
>>
File: Snag.jpg (108 KB, 898x755)
108 KB
108 KB .jpg
The glow in the central flower intensifies, seeming to double in brightness again and again. You know that sort of build up can only last so long.

"Katya, go left!"

There's no hesitation on her part, she darts off, circling the Angel, staying between the plant body and the root tendrils that seem to follow along on the edge of striking range. You don't have the time to watch her, the only way this plan will work is if you both present moving targets.

"Keep up with this, you son of a bitch!" You turn and sprint in the opposite direction. You hardly get a step before your Eva is pulled short with a violent yank. "Shit!"

Your heads up display blurts warnings at you about the power cable. You look over your shoulder to see the thick powerline is pulled taut, winding among buildings. You don't have time to sort it out. A glance at the missile attack timer shows a few slim minutes left. You depress the key to eject your cable with hardly a second thought and return to running.

"Katya, watch your cable" you warn.

"I watch!"

Urban scenery flashes by you in a blur. The mirrored glass-fronts of the skyscrapers you weave between all reflect the green crystal body of the Angel and its quivering leaves.

"MIRV terminal guidance updated," Max says. "Longshot 2 on final approach. Two minutes to impact."

The Angel fires. For a moment, everything is bathed in a sickly red light, like a filtered flashbulb going off. You stagger blindly in that instant, your Eva's arm clipping a high-rise and smashing the façade in. Steel girders buckle and groan but you push yourself away and continue staggering on. It takes you a second to realize you're unharmed.

"Corvus has sustained damage to right leg. We have tears in major ligaments, the right soleus is completely destroyed. Power cable severed."

Far away, on nearly the opposite side of the Angel you see the cause for the red-out. A swatch of smoking ruin has been carved through the city, as if a gigantic cutting torch had been run through it. Buildings drip molten glass, sagging in the heat. Others topple, completely bisected by the beam. At the end of this path of devastation you see the white-gold figure of Katya's Eva, Corvus. It lies sprawled, armor steaming.

"Katya!?"

The Eva twitches, then lifts itself up, trying to get back to its feet. You're too far away to see the extent of the damage, but Katya looks lucky to be alive. She'd only sustained a glancing blow. But it's enough to put her out.

Corvus topples back to its knees when it tries to put any weight on its right leg. Katya hisses in pain as if the leg were hers.

"Corvus is combat ineffective," Rose says. "Hydra, finish the mission."

"Sixty seconds for Longshot."
>>
"Katya?" you ask, frozen in place.

"Here," she says. She stabs the tip of her cleaver into the ground and uses it to lift her Eva into a standing position. She's not going anywhere any time soon, but she's out of immediate danger.

"We have an energy buildup inside the angel again!" Max says. "It's going to fire!"

The flower is beginning to glow once more with that hateful red light. The crystal leaves dance to an unfelt breeze and begin to align themselves again.

Your eyes go to Katya's Eva, it's a sitting duck "Rose, pull Corvus back."

"I neutralize the field, Ethan," Katya interjects.

"Thirty seconds to Longshot."

"Rose, get her out of there!" you shout.

Rose doesn't answer you. She either can't, or won't. Like it or not, you need Katya's Eva to neutralize the Angel's AT field. If she ejects, her Eva stops projecting its field, and that might just be enough to allow the Angel to protect itself.

Katya won't survive another hit, but if Longshot works, she won't have to.

"Twenty."

You have no way of knowing if the Angel is targeting you as a remaining threat, or aiming to eliminate Katya. Either way, your next move is clear. You start sprinting again, circling around toward her Eva as fast as you can.

"Impact in ten seconds."

It's a race, a race between the ethereal power of the Angels, and the technological supremacy of man.

Far overhead, faster than the eye can follow, five tungsten rods the size of telephone poles streak toward the earth with suborbital velocity. If the missiles hit before the Angel fires, then what happens next won't matter. But if they miss again . . .

You run faster.

***

Roll 1d6. I need 3 rolls total.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>4943191
Dice gods please I beg you
>>
File: 1357966863198.jpg (50 KB, 853x480)
50 KB
50 KB .jpg
>>4943195
>Dice gods please I beg you
>>
File: 1439157099550.png (108 KB, 400x612)
108 KB
108 KB .png
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>4943191
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>4943195
>>4943205
>>4943214
oh

Net neutral I guess
>>
File: you sure about that.gif (2072 KB, 540x413)
2072 KB
2072 KB .gif
>>4943195
I don't think Ethan would handle losing a second teammate very well at all. But Linda might appreciate the company.

>>4943191
If the shot fails to connect, we're going to be in a lot of trouble. One crippled EVA, one disconnected, and a doom laser that it seems happy to use repeatedly.

>>4943278
I've never been entirely clear if Killer takes the top die, or mixes in all 3.