0947 April 6th 2015
“500 meters!” Lieutenant Parker calls out over the comms, a verbal confirmation of what the pilots and Captain Ward can see on their screens. On the surface, it was raining, but down in the hole, as the work crews had dubbed it, the only sign was the barest trickle of water flowing down the access ramp. Daas had worked a minor miracle with his adaptation of the Angel’s AT field, and while it was not quite as effective as the Angel’s ability to burrow, it had turned weeks worth of work into days.
The chamber was hewn from the stone of the earth, a hemisphere buried a hundred meters under the surface. The mobile support structures were set up in an antechamber just outside, armored against attack by thick walls of rock. Not that it’d stop the Angel, given the way it could swim through bedrock like it was water, but at least it’d probably stop a friendly fire incident. That’s where the N2 mine was, as well, along with the charges that would collapse the tunnel mouth if the Evangelions had to make an escape.
“300 meters! No course varian— wait, it’s speeding up! Thirty seconds to contact!”
Right now, though, the battlefield they’d carved for themselves looked like nothing more than a tomb, plain and unadorned. Except, that was, for the signs on the wall. The crews said they weren’t there, of course, nor did anyone else. Just the pilots could. They were like art, or writing, it was hard to tell. In either case, they were faintly glimmering white lines along the walls of the chamber that shimmered and burst into rainbows of color at the brush of an AT field. They weren’t always there, though — they were only visible, it’d seem, through the eyes of an Evangelion. Outside of the cockpit, it was like they weren’t even there — though Daas, once, could swear he saw them out of the corner of his eye while leaving after a long shift of digging…
“150 meters! 100! Ten seconds!”
Makatiel could be felt before before it was seen — first there was a slight vibration in the LCL, like ripples in a cup of water when a door slams, then they can feel it in their feet, the ground shaking beneath them. The lines on the wall begin to twinkle and shimmer, twisting around a single point, and a second later, the stone itself begins to glow orange, dully at first but increasing in brightness with every heartbeat.
“Five! Four! Three! Two! One!”
The orange glow is pure white now, the stone pouring away from the wall and pooling on the ground. It ceases to glow as it flows along the cave floor, but expands into a puddle like a liquid nonetheless, a dark hole forming in the wall. Two spindly legs push through the hole, widening it, finding purchase on the other side, and pulling itself through. As it slides into the light, the pilots catch their first good glimpse of Makatiel. It resembles a spider, in a way, eight legs growing out from a bulbous, elongated body, jet black with white, chitinous plates along its back and running down its legs. Its face — if it could be called a face — looks almost like a plain, white mask, with two black holes for eyes, and a third, larger hole for a mouth. As it draws itself up, it becomes plain that it’s larger than an Evangelion, larger than Sachiel by a head or three, and the pilots catch glimpses of two things. The first is a glint of red on its belly — clearly the Angel’s core.
The second is Makatiel’s mouth, a hole in the underside of its head, lined with hundreds of moving, chitinous talons, dripping with something that smokes as it splashes against the cave floor. As it points towards the Evas, the talons move faster, and the Angel screams, a challenging shriek.
As the angel attacks, Morgan’s plan goes into action. Spencer almost panics but is kept in line, with him and Marina leaping forward to engage together in a simultaneous assault while Daas holds back, ready to use his skills with the AT Field as long range support.
Morgan grins and pounds a fist against a panel in hope. (off comms) “Jesus christ, their synchronization rate is through the roof. Maybe they’ll pull it off after all”
Marina and Spencer charge Makatiel, flanking it with disturbing synchronicity. Their weapons strike as one, tonfa and axe slamming through the thin wisps of the Angel’s AT field.
Both strike true, sinking into the Angel’s sides, precisely opposite each other, sprays of thick black blood gushing forth as the Angel screams again.
Marina’s completely silent, all her concentration on staying in sync with both IOT and Spencer, eyes focused and unblinking even as the blood sprays over her viewfeed.
Spencer: “Is it dead?”
Morgan: “Pattern is still active!”
Marina: “Fixing that.”
Spencer and Marina’s Evas move in sync, weapons rising and falling at the same moment.
Spencer’s axe impacts on the Angel’s body again, but a leg interposes itself between the Angel and Marina’s tonfa, the chain teeth gaining purchase on the chitinous armor and piercing the leg.
New spurts of blood flow forth, painting the Evas’ armor jet black — but now the Angel rears back to strike.
Marina draws back into a more advantageous stance, tonfa posed to try and block if needed. “Still moving, command.”
A wickedly pointed claw at the tip of one of Makatiel’s forelegs misses Spencer… but not Marina.
She flips around the blade, slamming forward with equal force and trying to push back the alien limb.
Marina deflects the attack, the claw sliding harmlessly to her side!
Spencer: “Nail it Daas!”
Daas’ EVA has its’ arm cocked back, a gleaming spear of metal in its’ hand. “AT Field charged. Firing!”
Makatiel lurches as the spear lodges itself in one of its legs. It’s hanging a little lower, but it’s still up.
“Target impact; leg. Recharging.” Daas’ EVA reaches back to one side, where several similar spears have been set for him.
Morgan: “M777 teams, we’re passing MAGI targetting data to you now. Target the wounds and fire!”
IOT drops low, giving the artillery squads more room to fire and less room to shoot her instead by mistake.
Unfortunately they overcorrect to avoid plastering the EVAs and blow holes out of the cavern wall instead
“Battery one reports misfire, sir!” Lieutenant Parker calls out. “It’ll take them a minute to clear it!”
Morgan: “Damn. Understood. Reroute that targetting cycle to the IN1!”
The cave shakes under the barrage of missed artillery shots!
Marina: She glances upwards as the shots go wide. “Shit.”
Daas’ screen lights with new data. “IN1 confirms data feed. AT Field charge at 20% and rising.” This trick of pushing objects with AT force is new to Daas, but a logical use of the Field, especially after the digging of the past week.
The melee duo strike out in tandem once more, EVAs spinning elegantly around the multi-legged monster as it struggles to deflect their blows.
Marina’s tonfa strikes home again, but a claw flicks out to turn aside Spencer’s axe. It flares red for a second as it meets the axeblade, and Spencer can feel the axe shudder unnaturally. Whatever it just did, it barely failed to shatter the blade.
Spencer: “Oh now I’m pissed”
Marina: Taking advantage of the angel’s focus on her squadmate, the tonfa drives deep, IOT putting much of its weight behind the blow. “Come on, fall down so we can finish you off you piece of shit.”
The Angel shudders as Marina leans into the blow, the tonfa digging deep into the Angel’s bulbous body, and slumps to the ground. For a brief second it shudders and twitches…
She dares to hope.
Then, howling, its body begins to shake. The blood seeping out of Makatiel begins to bubble and boil, receding back into the Angel as its wounds close. For a moment, the Angel tenses up, then as its wounds heal, spikes of white chitin erupt from the Angel’s body, ripping through its skin to menace the Evas. Getting close enough to hit it just got a little harder.
Marina: “Son of a BITCH.”
Daas :“AT Field waveform is still nullified, Ensign! The pattern’s changed, but you’re still supressing it!”
Makatiel lunges at Spencer, claws raised high to strike at the Eva.
…but while its wounds seem to have healed, it doesn’t meet any more success in melee combat, the claws skittering across the stone floor harmlessly.
Spencer: “Hey Boss, what’s with all these spikes?”
Morgan: “Be advised, and commended, the Angel just did for you what we’ve only seen it do for direct N2 detonations and undergone an adaptive mutation to compensate for your attacks. Consider its danger in close combat to have increased dramatically.”
Daas: “Keep your neutralization going, you two; it may have gained powers as well, though I can’t tell what with all the interference.”
Daas: “Field charged! Firing!” A second spear is flung outward, following the data he’d been fed.
The flung spear flies through two of the Angel’s legs, severing them. It lurches to the side as the limbs fall to the ground, but remains standing.
“Impact; legs! It’s crippled!” Daas’ EVA, perhaps too closely synced, can be seen to briefly pump its’ fist before grabbing a new spear.
Morgan crosses his arms as a nervous tick as the still functional battery takes aim. A lucky shot from the artillery battery sends the Angel reeling back onto legs that are no longer there!
Spencer: “Boss you want me to continue to hack at this thing? I can nail the hell out it, but it’ll probably ding the paint”
Morgan grimaces, knowing he’s putting the kid into direct danger. “Now’s our best bet to attack the core. Keep on it, Spencer.”
Marina takes aim, the carbine laid across her supporting arm, every shot fired impacting the already down alien monster as she grits her teeth, muttering to herself. “Go down, die already, don’t explode…”
The force of the gunshots drives the Angel back against the wall, slammed against the stone with each impact. The bullets open up new wounds on Makatiel’s limbs and body, the chitinous armor cracking. The facemask splinters under the barrage, and Marina can see a bullet spark off the Angel’s core.
Spencer: “We just blowing this one up or do you want me to try to rip it out?”
Daas: “Warn me if we’re blowing it up.”
Morgan: “MAGI is not reporting it is inactive. If it detects that we’re trying to capture it then it might self-destruct. Destroy it.”
Rushing forward, D-01’s axe slams towards the core, ignoring the deadly spikes impacting the EVA’s armor. The Angel attempts to fend off the blow, but Spencer pushes past its flailing claws! The blow strikes true on the core, the axe scraping off some of the protective armor. Screaming in pain, the ground begins to shake as Makatiel’s AT field flares!
Daas recognizes this pattern — it’s trying to tunnel out. Spencer can see the stone under the Angel flow around it as it starts to sink into the rock. “AT Field aspect change! Power spiking! It’s trying to escape!”
Morgan picks up the nearby phone linked to the USMC artillery batteries. “This is a priority order! Evacuate immediately!”
Artillery: “Roger that! Batteries one and two, packing up and rolling the hell out!”
Morgan: “Leave the guns, evacuate immediately. NERV will take responsibility.”
Artillery: “Yessir! Moving!”
The pilots can see the artillerymen scrambling into their vehicles and heading for the exit.
Marina: “Are we going to try to stop the escape, sir?”
Morgan: “Stop the escape and kill it at all costs, Pilot! We cannot allow it to return later!”
Once more, unit IN1 looses a deadly AT powered spear at the now retreating angel. It passes low under the arch of the Creature’s legs, impacting the wall and digging nearly all the way into it
Morgan: “Daas, close in and see what you can do about keeping it from collapsing the tunnel behind it!”
Daas: “This thing must project the movement field innately! Even at total neutralization it can still tunnel!”
Spencer: “I could try to pull it back toward us”
Forgoing words, Marina attempts to end the battle with overwhelming force, sending another barrage at the deadly invader. She curses as the spray goes wide. “Spencer, try to immobilize it if you can!”
His axe flies once more, and the Angel howls as the axe strikes true on the core, a long, deep crack forming in the thing’s material — but it’s still moving. It sinks further into the ground. Daas gets one last shot.
Spencer: “You can do it Daas!”
Morgan calls up the MAGI targetting array and personally feeds it to Daas’ machine.
Daas’s hand trembles on the controls as he cocks back to throw one last spear. “AT Field, MAXIMUM CHARGE!” Focusing sheer will into the actuators, he breathes a muttered prayer in Hindu, and lets fly the spear, AT field coiling around the shaft to accelerate it as it leaves his hands.
He can hear the crack as the thing goes supersonic, aimed well and flying true. It sails through the Angel as if it isn’t even there, going through the core and Makatiel’s body in a spray of gore, shattering into a hundred shards as it impacts on the cave wall. For a moment, all is quiet.
Then the core glows an incandescent red, painful to look at as it goes critical. For the pilots, the world plunges into fire and darkness.
“Captain!” Parker cries out from her console, a note of panic in her voice. “Base team reports heavy seismic activity! The cave’s collapsing inwards!”
Morgan pales in understanding and hopes there’s still a connection to the EVAs. “Pilots, the cavern is collapsing! Switch power supplies to life support mode!”
Marina reflexively drops the weapons and attempts to cover her chest, before everything goes red.
Morgan’s message gets through just before a rock hits the hard line to the surface.
Morgan: “Parker, contact the excavation teams. It looks like their contract just extended.”
Parker: “R-roger that, sir. Should we contact NERV-06 for assistance?”
Daas has only enough time to set his EVA to a low-power Life Support mode before he loses all conciousness.
Morgan: “Yes. If they can spare a unit we can teach it how to dig.”
Parker: “I’ll get them on the line, sir. I’m… I’m starting the timer.”
Morgan picks up the phone to the USMC artillery’s radio again. “2nd Battallion this is NERV Ops. Do you read?”
On the tactical display, a countdown timer flashes up in the corner, 24:00:00. It promptly begins counting down the pilots’ lifespan without rescue.
“Sir, Second Batallion here — or what’s left of us. We lost Battery Two in the collapse, they didn’t make it out in time.”
Morgan: “Damn. I hate to demand more, but we’re sending in the excavators again to dig out our pilots. Previous angels have shown the ability to carry man-sized creatures inside them and they’re going to need an escort. If your men are still combat effective then those tractor drivers are going to need marines to keep them alive.”
Artillery: “Can do, sir, but be advised, we’re at 50% capacity.”
Morgan: “We’ll be sending the NERV DCTs that handled the last outbreak there on VTOLs to back you up.”
Artillery: “Roger that. We’ll be at the base camp in 10 mikes.”
Morgan: “We’ll need you on station for 24 hours. One way or the other the mission will be over by then.”
Artillery: There’s a brief pause on the other end of the line. “… Understood, sir.”
There’s a click as the Marine switches comm channels, presumably to radio his men. The clock relentlessly ticks downwards on the display, counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds until the pilots’ battleground becomes their tomb.