Disclaimer: Xenosaga and Neon Genesis Evangelion belong to who they belong. What? You thought this was gonna be longer?
"We'll be caught in the explosion! We have to get out of here quickly!" Shion yells over the explosions rocking Proto Merkabah. One of the more powerful ones knocks her to her feet followed by a massive rumbling.
"What was that?" asks Ziggy, his cybernetic sensors picking up the increased frequency of the rumbles.
"More explosions?" MOMO looks around in fear and subconsciously latches on to her protector as the whole station starts to shake.
"No. It's faint, but it feels like we're...changing directions?" adds Chaos questioningly. Although he appeared human, the full extent of his abilities was still unknown by the people around him.
KOS-MOS, who had been silent all this time, had been busy scanning the area and finally spoke up. "Shion. I have confirmation of ignition in the Proto Merkabah's propulsion units," she says, her voice in its usual monotone. Going silent as her scanners start feeding her more data, she faces her creator as the final figures come in. "It is descending towards Second Miltia now."
The whole group looks on in shock at her statement. A station the size of Proto Merkabah striking Second Miltia would be the equivalent of the impact which destroyed ancient Earth all those millennia ago. As the station began its deadly plunge, one observer in orbit around the planet looked on in amusement and glee as images of death and destruction danced in his mind.
"Well then, let's just see how powerful you all are..."
Back on the station, Shion had finally recovered from the shock of the information, getting back on her feet and facing KOS-MOS. "Are you sure about this?" she asks.
"Yes," comes the emotionless reply. "Should its descent continue at present speed, we will enter the atmosphere in approximately 8 minutes."
"Looks like 'he' planned this," Ziggy adds, unknown to him that the person was just outside the station watching.
"That bastard!" growls Jr. "He's got too many tricks up his sleeve..."
"Based on the current angle of approach, breaking up the facility into approximately 28,000 pieces would result in 99.6 of them vaporizing before impact..."
"...if we detach each sub-component?" finishes Shion as she realizes what KOS-MOS was suggesting.
MOMO also realizes the plan and starts searching her memory for any way to implement that idea. At last she finds the data she was looking for, opening her golden eyes and facing the group. "The control room...the control room on level 33 will allow us to detach the facility!" she finishes hurriedly.
"We'd better hurry! There's no time!" Chaos adds.
The group rushes to the control room, precious seconds ticking away with each step they take. Finally finding an elevator which would lead them to the location, MOMO heads to the terminal and starts inputting commands faster than any human could into the console.
"Is there a problem," Ziggy asks gently of the little girl.
MOMO doesn't look up from the terminal as she continues to punch away at the keys. "It's bad. The entire process from system startup to complete detachment takes one whole minute! That won't give us enough time to return to the Elsa!"
"Is this the only place we can activate it from?" asks the cyborg, his face a mask of calm. "We can't do it remotely?"
MOMO shakes her head in resignation and fear. "No. The system was built so that the command will only be accepted from here."
Jr stomps his foot angrily on the metal flooring. "Damn...So the only way to stop this thing is to go down with it?"
"This can't be...There has to be another way!" Shion pleads, as if her silent wishing would come true.
"There isn't!" MOMO adds, tears threatening to fall from her eyes. "I've searched again and again, but we can only activate it from here!"
Everyone remains silent, unable to think of another solution. A voice speaks up however, shaking them out of their stupor.
"Please head back now," comes KOS-MOS firm command.
"What, KOS-MOS?" Shion looks to her android like it had suddenly grown a second head.
"Shion, please return to the Elsa with the others," KOS-MOS reiterates, her primary directive of protecting her creator coming to the forefront. "I will stay behind to initiate the detachment sequence."
"Wait a second? Stay behind? Are you joking?"
"This facility will enter the atmosphere shortly. We will exceed the tolerances for maximum temperature in three minutes and 28 seconds. Please hurry. I suggest you return to the Elsa before then." Before Shion can retort, KOS-MOS cuts her off and starts walking towards the console. "My self-preservation programming is functioning properly. I have no intention of remaining on this facility to the very end. Do not worry. At maximum speed, I can reach the Elsa in under one minute."
"You're sure?" asks Ziggy.
"Yes. This option guarantees the highest probability of success."
Seeing as that was going to be her only reply, Ziggy calls for the others to head back to the ship. Shion however, in true fashion, still refuses to abandon the android.
"Trust her, Shion. It'll be ok. She'll catch up. Now c'mon!" Jr. adds as he starts his run back. Reluctantly, she agrees and follows the rest of the group. Turning back only once to scold her uncooperative creation.
"You'd better come back, KOS-MOS!"
The group had already made its way a quarter of the way back to the ship when a new set of explosions start rocking the floor, the detachment sequence already starting. From the outside, it appeared the station was coming apart like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle, years of missing research becoming lost with each falling part. The group finally makes it back to the Elsa, out of breath but alive.
"Matthews!" Jr. calls as he enters the bridge.
"Little Master! What's all this shaking? What the heck did you guys do?" asks the captain.
"Proto Merkabah's about to re-enter the atmosphere. If left unchecked, it'll crash into the planet..."
Matthews looks on in shock. This was definitely not what he signed up for when he agreed to work for Jr. and the Foundation.
Seeing that Matthews was still in shock, Jr. brings him up to speed with the plan KOS-MOS was currently implementing.
"We detached all the sub-compartments and that's what's causing all the shaking. Anyway, we'll get into more details later. Just prepare for immediate take-off!"
"Right, let's...What! Prepare? Why don't we leave just now?"
"KOS-MOS is still inside. We're going to wait for her!"
"But aren't we in danger if it's already detaching?"
Jr turns to the captain, the look in his eyes showing that there was no convincing him otherwise. "I'm aware of that, but if I SAY we wait, we wait!"
Looking at the control panel, KOS-MOS continues to punch away at the keys, finalizing the sequence which would complete the separation of Proto Merkabah.
100 separation initiated comes the reply from the computer.
KOS-MOS turns around and begins her run back to the Elsa. As she is running, an odd current runs through her system, causing her to stumble slightly. 'It appears there is some power imbalance in my control matrix. I will have to request Shion examine it when I return,' she notes to herself. Increasing her speed to compensate for the stumble, she reaches the stairwell to the Elsa only to find that it had already collapsed due to falling debris. 'Recalculating new route,' her internal systems reply. Sensing that the platform where the ship was docked was also destroyed, she assumes that the ship had already left the area and escaped to space. KOS-MOS begins to plan for another means of escape seeing as her ride was no longer an option. Before she can even begin to find a path, a silent voice speaks into her mind.
"See with your heart, KOS-MOS," the voice beckons.
'I have no heart,' she replies, unsure why she even replied to the voice.
"See with your heart," the voice repeats.
A sudden feeling comes over KOS-MOS as she looks down a corridor, a particular wall coming to mind. 'Is this what humans call...a hunch?' she thinks to herself. 'There is a 50 probability of survival if I attempt to take one of the fighters and escape from Proto Merkabah yet...something else is telling me to take this corridor.' The entire debate merely took nano-seconds for KOS-MOS but finally ignoring her logic program she decides to go with the 'hunch' and run down the corridor. Traveling several hundred meters in what would have certainly wiped out a normal human, she stops at a particular point in the wall, gazing at it curiously as the 'hunch' starts acting up again.
"Maximum output," she whispers to no one in particular. Pointing her right hand at the wall, it transforms into ion cannon mode and begins charging. As it reaches full charge, KOS-MOS lets loose a wide beam of energy, neatly incinerating everything in its path. Running forward as the beam continues its destructive path, she dodges falling debris as she makes her way through the makeshift tunnel. Finally blasting through the outer wall, KOS-MOS jumps through the hole not really expecting to see anything. A small part of her thinking that this is not how she would have wanted everything to end. 'I...want?' she thinks. However, as she clears the smoke, the blue and white hull of the Elsa can be seen patiently waiting for her.
"KOS-MOS!" cries Shion, her hand outstretched and ready to grab her.
KOS-MOS reaches out and catches the hand, her body unfortunately too heavy for Shion to manage correctly which causes her to slam into the ship's hull. Fortunately for her, being an android had its perks and she barely felt the slam.
Shion struggles to bring KOS-MOS into the ship, the weight posing more of a problem than realized. Her arm already straining just to hang on, she feels KOS-MOS slowly slipping through her grasp. 'No! I can't hold on!' Just as she looses her hold on the android, a second hand grabs KOS-MOS, saving her from a fiery death. Looking to her helper, Shion is surprised to see the cyborg right behind her. "Ziggy!" she beams.
"I've got them both," he says into the ship's intercom. "Tale us out of here!"
As the ship blasts away from the collapsing Proto Merkabah, Shion collapses onto the floor in relief. Looking towards KOS-MOS, she sighs as she rubs her sore hand. "I really better start putting you on a diet," she jokes.
'Is that what is called a 'joke'?' she thinks. Turning to her creator, she is mildly surprised when Shion suddenly latches on to her and starts crying.
"Something's not right" says Ziggy, the ship starting to shake violently. "Let's go," he commands.
Shion dusts off her uniform and rushes to the lift. Seeing KOS-MOS starting to get to her feet as well, she follows Ziggy through the ships corridors.
As KOS-MOS follows Shion, another 'hunch' makes its way to her mind, calling her to head to the cargo bay. Debating whether to follow the Vector employee or go with the 'hunch,' KOS-MOS decides to patch in to the ship's communications network and overhears the frantic yells on the bridge.
The angle of approach is too steep! cries one voice. 'Shion's assistant.'
Can't you fix it! yells a voice. 'Captain Matthews,' she thinks.
It's no good! The controls aren't responding! replies Tony.
Impossible! All the systems show green!.
The stabilizers must have been damaged by the debris! Tony adds. We can't change the angle any more than what we have!
She shuts off the comm. system, her decision already made. Walking to the cargo bay, she starts calculating all the variables needed to fulfill her prime directive...protect Shion at all costs.
What will you do? the voice asks.
chaos looks down at his hands, a feeling of helplessness washing over him as the ship continues its deadly plunge. 'Can't I do anything?' he cries out silently. Feeling more and more helpless with each passing second, he is shaken out of his stupor as he hears someone coming down the lift. 'Who could be coming here at this time?' chaos wonders. As the figure steps out of the shadows, he sees the familiar white boots and clear blue hair of the battle android heading towards the airlock. "You're...?" KOS-MOS doesn't answer him as she continues her final walk. He calls out again, hoping to find out her intentions. "What are you...?" He is interrupted when KOS-MOS finally speaks, her voice soft and somewhat...sad?
"Release your pain...onto me." Theses were the last words he heard from her as she disappears down a dark corridor, the path to the airlock.
As the doors close behind her, KOS-MOS begins charging all her systems to full power. It wasn't as if there was any other alternative. 'Is this...fear? Do I fear death?' Pushing that thought aside, she pushes the button before her, opening the airlock and jumping out into the fiery hell raging around the ship.
"The aft hatch is opening!" Hammer yells.
"What the hell? Are they trying to burn us from the inside!" Matthews shouts. "Who's down there?" he asks the group.
Shion looks around and sees that her android once again out of sight, a chill running up her spine as she realizes what just happened. "It can't be..."
Outside, KOS-MOS crosses her arms across her head, shielding it as best she could from the heat generated by re-entry. Heat shields at 95 capacity reports her internal sensors. Her outer skin created out of a high density compound, it showed no signs of damage from the searing fire. She knew however that she was not built to withstand such temperatures. As she maneuvers herself to the bow of the Elsa, her communicator comes online with a transmission from inside the ship.
KOS-MOS! You get back this instant. You can't survive those temperatures!
"Shion," KOS-MOS replies. "I will proceed to shield the Elsa with my energy field. Please stabilize the ship during that time."
What do you think you're doing? What will that accomplish? comes the angry retort.
"Do not worry." 'Worry. I should be worried yet I am not.' "Maintaining this position for one minute and 20 seconds will save the Elsa." 'Yet I know my body will not survive longer than that,' comes the unspoken thought.
But you'll be incinerated if you do that! Stop this at once!
'She is my creator. She would know,' KOS-MOS thinks to herself. 'I couldn't return to the ship now even if I was ordered to.' She was too far from the hatch to be able to make it safely back anyway. Nearing the bow of the ship, she activates the communicator one last time. "I am happy...to be of service." Cutting off the signal, KOS-MOS positions herself right in front of the Elsa, now taking the brunt of the re-entry heat. Feeling parts of her armor starting to char, she stretches out her arms, spreading herself out as wide as possible to protect the ship behind her. 60 seconds to heat shield failure reports her sensors. Ignoring every warning that her body was throwing at her, she remains steadfast in her position
45 seconds Pieces of her outer armor begin burning and breaking off.
30 seconds The helmet breaks off from her head, her long blue hair now flowing freely.
10 seconds. Internal systems near meltdown.
Take my pain comes a gentle voice. KOS-MOS eyes begin to glow blue as six snow white wings erupt from her back, growing to enormous size and covering the entire Elsa. As the wings fully envelope the ship, her systems finally give out from the tremendous heat and stress, the last thing KOS-MOS sees is a bright flash of light and then darkness.
"Rei, you will pilot Unit-01!" barks a monotone voice.
The girl struggles to open her eyes, red pupils staring at the lights above. 'I am...lying down,' she thinks to herself. She also notices that one of her eyes is currently bandaged.
"Rei! I said you will pilot Unit-01!" commands the voice a second time.
'Rei? Is that...my name?' Unable to answer the question herself, she decides to follow the voice and get off the bed. As she wills her muscles to move, a sharp pain runs up her spine and courses through her whole body, causing her to cry out in both surprise and pain. 'Pain? Is this what pain is?' comes the thought. Before she can get out of the bed, the floor begins to shake tremendously, causing her to fall out of the bed and aggravate the pain all around her body. The next few moments are a blur for her as she hears several loud crashes around her and two hands lift her off the cold floor. The last thing she hears are the quiet whispers of 'I mustn't run away' from what sounded like a young boy before darkness overwhelms her.
To be continued in the next chapter-
Even I'm curious how this will turn out. We'll just have to see now won't we?