DISCLAIMER: Original series belong to someone else.
Chapter 22: Catch A Falling Angel
The world of the Lilim turned slowly beneath it.
Had things not been altered, it would not have noticed anything except the siren call of its target.
A scattering of light as if to hold off the darkness. A warm circle of the Known to hold off the Unknown perhaps?
It certainly wouldn't have been capable of being philosophical about it.
And yet the cold darkness of death must inevitably fall on each of them, even if things were not As They Must Be. So for the time they have, that wherein they Know and Feel, they seek to prolong their day both literally and metaphorically.
It continued its orbit, looking at the world without eyes but in terms of mass and energy and overdimension patterns. Curious for a moment, it switched that perception to see the world as the lilim themselves did.
After all, if it is Inevitable that my fall must cease their existence - is it not fair to see this world as they themselves do?
Which led to watching the world turn below. The Angel that would come to be designated as Sahaquiel watched the light and the dark, the blues and greens and swirling whites marred by the red blot at one end.
Ah. So limited in scope, but that limitation also further defines and focuses. How interesting.
A potential approach vector beckoned and was passed as the Angel considered the world below.
Wasn't Matariel supposed to go before me?
It couldn't sigh. There were no lungs, it was at an altitude where there was no air to sigh with, and the gesture was one the lilim might use but it was not a lilim. It merely observed.
The Anomaly is down there still. Perhaps the lilim will pass this test after all.
"Any change in target status?" asked Misato as the doors opened and she walked onto the bridge.
"What appears to be minor course corrections," said Makoto, looking back over one shoulder.
"How does it do that anyway?" asked Misato. "I mean, I'm not exactly a science nerd, don't the satellites have to use manuevering thrusters and fire off bits of fuel to do anything in space?"
"Maybe you should ask Ranma, he's the one who figured it out and duplicated it," said Makoto, switching displays from satellite feeds.
"Well, at least Ritsu has her vacation and is away from here," said Misato, flopping down into the command chair. "She's probably having fun. Scuba diving. Nature walks. All that yummy microbrewery beer down in Okinawa."
"Preferably not scuba diving and beer diving at the same time," said Makoto.
"Don't knock it until you've tried it," responded Misato.
"How do you even have a liver left?" asked Shigeru, though he was careful not to ask that TOO loudly.
"Okay," said Misato, either not hearing or choosing to ignore that. "No changes in the status of the Angel, so we're all good now right?"
"Pilots are on standby," said Shigeru at a normal loudness level. "Looks like Rei is reading a history text, Asuka is studying kanji, and Ranma is doing something else that would probably give Doctor Akagi fits."
"Just as well she's having fun in the sun then," said Misato. "Huh. There's a hidden switch on the chair arm. What does it... oh that's nice. Massage function in the back. Ahhh."
"What's he doing?" asked Makoto.
"Trying to use his flying technique on other objects, making them move without his having to move. Doesn't look like it's working too well." Shigeru Aoba changed one of the screens to display a box flipping around and crashing to the floor.
"If he masters that and uses it when she gets back, she might need another vacation," noted Makoto.
Ritsuko fumbled around for her snorkel. Somehow she could just tell that someone was doing something that violated the laws of physics and common sense. She even knew Who and Where.
"Damn it. I should be there. Without someone to rein her in, Misato is likely to do all sorts of insane things."
"So, now we have five kinds of beer at the cafeteria?" asked Makoto.
"Of course not," responded Misato, sounding indignant. "That would imply drinking during work. That would be an entirely inappropriate use of the authority that everyone else skipping town has given me."
"Oh?" asked Makoto.
Misato nodded, not mentioning that she had the cafeteria drop a six-pack by her car at the end of her shift. Hopefully, when everyone came back they'd miss that one as it really was a tiny little addition to the operating budget.
"So the Commander and Vice-Commander are where the Antarctica continent used to be," said Shigeru. "Doctor Akagi is in Okinawa by now. And Misato hasn't gone insane with the power yet."
"Don't say it," cautioned Makoto.
"Don't be superstitious," responded Shigeru. "Besides, I didn't need to say it. We were all thinking it."
There's Matariel? Why is it doing that?
-and maybe a nice stream here so I can put some happy little trees over there.
Ah, Sahaquiel. Try not to make a mess, would you?
I'm going to orbital strike on their base.
I found this desert here and got started manipulating the environment, and it is a strangely addictive experience.
Why? All this will be ended if I am successful. In any case, it is all transitory.
Because it is interesting. Because it is fragile and delicate. And it has a beauty of its own. We should not be able to note such things or even think about them. Yet here we are.
True. Yet I shall act and things will be as they should.
Images began appearing.
"What is this?" asked Misato, not being a scientific genius.
"Satellite image - Sahara desert. About 200 kilometers from the Richat Structure."
"Is that what the big 'bullseye' over in the corner is?"
"Yeah. That's it. That's natural. The rocks and trees aren't. That was a sandy desert there up until a few days ago." Makoto switched the view to an earlier image and then shrunk it so he could put the two side-by-side. "It looks like the rock is fused sand forming ledges and windbreaks. The grass and trees are sheltered by the rock and that stream of water isn't natural either."
"Well, yeah, even after Second Impact's weather changes - the Sahara is hot and dry and no fun at all," said Misato. "What's doing it?"
Makoto reached out and manipulated the screen again. Now it was showing an odd cloud.
"Is it an Angel?" asked Misato.
"Magi confirm," agreed Makoto. "Ident given was Matariel - the Angel of Rain. It seems to be living up to that name. Observers have estimated that directly underneath the Angel there's about an inch of rain per hour."
"Where's it getting the water?" asked Misato, hoping the answer wasn't creating-it-out-of-nothing. Because that could get messy.
"Heat distortion detected in Southern Pacific," said Makoto, flicking up another screen. "47 degrees by 129 degrees. Intense heat at that point and a gravitational distortion of 1.5 with corresponding magnetic field. Research Division is thinking it's some kind of wormhole effect. So it is evaporating the sea water, using a wormhole effect to move the resulting water vapor, and condensing it into a steady rain."
"Well, we can't go there and get it - especially with that other one orbitting and throwing little pieces of itself down every so often." Misato considered that, and the possibility of running one of the Eva down there anyway. Maybe Asuka. Though there were the political considerations to ponder as well. Many of those countries were not happy with NERV anyway.
"No contact from the Commanders directly," said Shigeru. "We were able to use a relay though. They're diverting to go past the South Pacific anomaly."
"Sahaquiel is the more pressing concern," noted Misato aloud. "We'll deal with that and decide what to do about this other one later. I'm more concerned with us having two Angels going at once. Don't they know they're supposed to just appear one-at-a-time?"
"Maybe someone didn't get the memo?" asked Shigeru.
The world of the lilim was interesting in its own way, but the time had come.
Sahaquiel adjusted its course ever so slightly. Just like so.
HEY! Don't go messing up my forests! I'm putting in some nice conifers now.
Sahaquiel experienced the brief desire to do a facepalm, despite not actually having a face. Or a palm for that matter.
Isn't your angle all wrong?
Sahaquiel really wished it was going to put itself down near Matariel at this point. No, it was already on the way and the flight path was NOT ideal for the purposes. Yes, I was adjusting the course when SOMEONE decided to shout at me about their trees.
"It's coming down WHERE?!" asked Misato.
"Uhm, looks like the Sea Of Japan," noted Makoto.
"Well, there's nothing out there to hit so I don't... wait a minute. Ritsuko?"
"Oh, it's adjusting further - looks like its warping space to try and get back to where it can drop directly on us."
"Well, at least we're a little better prepared than they are in Okinawa," said Misato. "Pilot status?"
"They're still at their start-points," said Shigeru. "Rei and Asuka are in their Eva units. Ranma is... outside. Eating a box lunch."
"What?" asked Misato.
"Well, they were on stand-by for several hours," noted Makoto. "Switching out so that they could eat and use the toilet was pretty much mandated by that."
"Get him back in Unit 01," said Misato while massaging the bridge of her nose. "As soon as we have a clear indication of where it's coming down, have them intercept."
"Projecting probable impact areas now," said Shigeru. "Still a pretty wide area."
"Well, it's a big kaiju," noted Makoto. "Ranma is back in the entry plug. Relaying coordinates."
"And they're off," said Shigeru. "Pity about the battery limitations. If Ranma could just fly up there and ninja-backstab it, this'd be a whole lot easier."
"Gotta work with what we have," noted Misato. "Relay to the pilots as we update the kaiju's descent path."
"Trajectory mapped and relayed," said Shigeru.
"Ranma's complaining about how he's having to adjust for the slow computers," noted Maya.
"We all have our burdens to bear," noted Misato.
"Appears to have made final corrections," said Shigeru. "Except for the bits it's shot off."
"I hope we're not dealing with a repeat of the tentacle monsters," said Misato. "They left a mess on the landing outside our apartment."
They ran. All three starting from different positions and heading towards a central point.
"Go Ranma. We'll catch up!"
"Don't have to tell me twice."
"Don't speak for me, wundergirl! I'll catch up in a minute!"
"Unit-01 has accelerated! Speed 980kph! Still accelerating!"
"Good thing Ritsuko isn't here. She'd be getting upset by now."
"Asuka is making up for Ritsuko's absence."
"Unit-01 has broken the sound barrier!"
"Yes! I win! He's already done three impossible things before encountering the Angel."
"Extending AT Field to Maximum! AT Shoryuken!"
He'd visualized it. Worked on it. Prepared for it.
He'd slid to a stop underneath the descending Angel, taking as much of the momentum as he could and going into a crouch with it.
The move was simply an uppercut where legs and arm and shoulder all channelled strength into an ascending punch. His AT field extended to cancel the other's AT field, with a wedge of force cutting through the shield and reinforcing the blow.
Sahaquiel found itself impacted, progress slowed and damage crushing its frame.
Then the Lilim abomination put a second hand out and was holding it up? It directed energy to thrust, trying to build speed and therefore impact force back up despite the tiny distance to the ground.
If it could just crush the tiny figure before it, then detonate upon contact with the ground - it could direct that force in the appropriate direction and still accomplish the goal.
Unfortunately, the Lilim were not cooperating.
"Guys? A little hand?"
Unit-00 slid to a stop, paused, and then began clapping.
"NOT what I meant," complained Ranma. "Someone want to stab the core?"
"I got it!" said Asuka, drawing a pair of progressive knives. "Time to make sushi!"
"It's not a fish," protested Rei as she began stabbing the Angel herself.
"Don't be such a stickler! We have to save wunderboy! Let me savor this moment!"
Rei considered that solemnly. That was the proper role of the female lead, to rescue the male lead - wasn't it?
"Just pointing out. Two hands holding Angel up. Someone want to stab it already?"
Sahaquiel decided that if it was going to go anyway, might as well go out with a bang.
It blew up. Massive red fireball, cross-shaped on the top.
"Systems coming back online. Unit-01 located, epicenter of the blast. On its back and imbedded into the ground."
"Unit-00 located. Legs are sticking up out of the remains of a hill. Positive for lifesigns but we're not able to get details until we can dig it out."
"Unit-02 located. Must have flipped over a few times during the explosion. Currently backside up. At least she won't have to be dug out the way Unit-00 will."
Misato considered the images being relayed on the screens. "Could have been worse. Good job everyone!"
"Uhm, my Dad left one of the car windows open partway."
"So, the last Angel through flooded the streets. Not only did the car end up in a pile of other cars at the end of the street - there was that red junk soaked into everything. Including my homework."
"That's no excuse, Suzahara. You should have everything on computer backup. Even though that has a tendency to fail whenever there's an EMP like when... never mind. Just redo the assignment."
Ranma idly flipped a coin up and caught it.
"That's annoying," said Batgirl.
Misato massaged her forehead with one hand. "Asuka, you don't need to wear your plugsuit for this. Or the mask. Or the cape."
"I will NOT be upstaged by some Kryptonian genetically engineered superstud!" declared Asuka/Batgirl.
"Well, she got the 'stud' part right, but I deny everything else," said Ranma.
"I meant BOY. Stuporboy!" Asuka fumed.
"And Rei? What's with the maid outfit?" asked Misato, still rubbing her forehead.
"Ah. I like it," said Rei softly.
"People, no cosplay at NERV HQ. Okay? Okay," said Misato.
"But-" began Asuka, ready to point out it WAS a plugsuit and that the utility belt had come in handy when she was stuck in that entry plug for four hours while it was being dug out.
"NO. Not at all. This is not the Justice League." Misato put her foot down literally to emphasize her statement.
"You could be Zatanna," offered Maya.
"Oh, that IS a pretty good costu-" Misato stopped and glared at Maya. "Not helping. Surprised you don't have an outfit for Ritsu."
Ignoring how Makoto had just gone glassy-eyed and still (having pulled up a picture of Zatanna and picturing Misato in such a costume), Maya considered telling Misato that she HAD made a couple of special outfits for Ritsuko.
"You did, didn't you?" asked Misato flatly as she took in the innocent expression.
"Maybe," admitted Maya.
"I'm not even going to ask," said Misato. "No cosplay. No getting Ranma into spandex either."
"Ah," said Rei, a clear sound of disappointment in her voice.
"Thank you," said Ranma sincerely to Misato.
"Hmmmm," hmmed Asuka, looking over Ranma and trying to picture him in blue spandex.
"Anyway, upshot from stopping the Angel codenamed Sahaquiel," said Misato. "Minimal damage considering what COULD have happened. Didn't keep Ranma from totalling three trains. Asuka from stomping flat the Mayor's limo. Rei from shooting a porn shop."
"My foot slipped," said Rei.
"That they had a display mannequin out front wearing a plugsuit and with short blue hair was, of course, a coincidence," said Misato drily.
Asuka reached over and high-fived Rei without a single comment between the two.
"Uh huh," said Misato. "Moving right along. Nice that neither business on either side was damaged in the slightest. Even when your rifle discharged because your foot slipped, that's good control."
Rei nodded without comment.
"There is currently no plan to go after Matariel," said Misato. "Current location is politically dicey for us to go there, not to mention travel times would take at least one Eva Unit out of play for three days minimum just to deploy."
"Not to mention the lack of power cables," pointed out Asuka. "We'd be on battery power - so five minutes operational time."
"Right," said Misato. "So, if the Angel comes anywhere we CAN deploy - we can hit it then."
"Do we have ANY idea what the next Angel is going to be?" asked Ranma. "Each of 'em has these names and all. Is there a list? Can we work out a strategy beforehand? Do we even know where they pop up from?"
"No idea on any of that," admitted Misato. "Though we think the Angels actually hatch from eggs left over from meteorite strikes in the past. The kind of meteors that do that whole mass-extinction thing. Except that doesn't work too well with some of 'em because they just show up."
"So basically, no idea at all," pointed out Asuka.
A tiny bit of dust clung to a shoe, which was then deposited in a corridor. If the universe had not changed, it would have gone on to infect a section of NERV HQ involved with pilot-testing. The universe HAD changed though, and a little robot vacuum cleaner sucked in the nano particles of dust and grime.
At the end of the shift, it dumped the now-full storage bag into the proper wall socket before going off to recharge in the slot allocated to it amongst all the others.