Two hundred and fifty meters below the Forrestal twins, Kaji dragged the last of the bodies of the guards out of sight at the bottom of the scaffolding of EVA-04's cage while Omega used a set of hand binoculars and saw the twins enter the EVA's entry plug. "They're in," he told Kaji.
"Quite a chance you took letting the boy shoot his way in," Kaji commented to him.
"This is what he was born to do," Omega replied, "and with his sister there beside him, he's not going to fail." The two men looked around them and saw activity picking up at the fortress as another Mass-Production unit was prepared to be launched outside of the mountain.
"Something's definitely up," said the older agent. "No time to waste." He carefully walked over to a side corridor and found what appeared to be an electrical circuit panel. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a hand switch and connected it by wires to an open port on the panel. "After I blow this," he told Kaji, "we'll need to split up, so this is it I'm afraid."
"Thank you," Kaji told him.
"As I said thank me if the rest of you are all alive at the end."
"Where will we meet after things are done?"
"We won't, Mr, Kaji," Omega told him. "Of that I am sure, but please be sure to help the twins get out of here. Patrick trusts you, and I think he's right to do so. You'll tell both of them the story I told you, won't you?"
"I will." Kaji smiled in resignation. "Then I hope your path meets the best possible ending."
Omega shrugged slightly. "Aye, it's been a long time in coming. And now," he said as he held the switch in his hand, "it's time for the final act!" He twisted a hand switch and the unit buzzed while a small current carried through the circuit board. Both men waited for a few seconds as nothing happened.
"Everything okay?" Kaji asked quietly.
"Give it a second or two more, kid," was Omega's calm response. "Then all hell's going to break loose."
The electrical circuit that Omega had activated led to another wiring panel in the sub-basement of the fortress, located in a forgotten-about waste dumping pit made when the fortress was built decades ago. From there a six-foot wire then led to a silver canister about half a meter long with Russian markings. The canister contained an experimental weapon that Omega managed to scurry away from the secret research labs of the old USSR before it collapsed, and like so many things that he had discovered in his younger years it's existence was not made known to Omega's former superiors at the CIA or anyone else.
The cylinder began to spark and hum as the electrical signal activated it as within a gyroscope began to rotate violently inside. Once the magnetically-reinforced gyro reached an extremely high velocity it triggered a fuse inside of the weapon and suddenly the entire unit exploded in a widely spread-explosion of fire and electrical static. While the explosives inside the EMP weapon were not that powerful compared to a conventional bomb, the energy created by the explosion powered what was already a super-charged magnetic discharge that would spread a short but very highly intensive burst of electrical signals across the electromagnetic spectrum.
As they were monitoring the battle in Tokyo-3 in their command center, Chairman Kiel and the others suddenly noticed that the monitors within the room were all flickering out. Sparks flew across the room as computers, displays, and other equipment rapidly short-circuited or overloaded from sudden power spikes.
"What is going on?" bellowed the Chairman from his motorized wheelchair.
Several of the uniformed staff frantically worked to determine the cause of why everything in the control room had suddenly gone dark as red emergency lights lit up the room. "My chairman, there's been a intensively rapid surge of electrical energy all throughout the fortress," said one of the staff members. "It's...it's consistent with an EMP attack!"
"Impossible! " cried the chairman. "This fortress is completely EMP shielded!"
Another of the command staff joined in. "My chairman, the EMP burst came from within the fortress!"
"Was it from one of the EVAs?" asked one of the committee members.
"Negative, they're not capable of this."
"Then who or what is?" demanded the chairman. "Here we are at our greatest moment of triumph and now it's all darkness amidst us." Kiel addressed the staff around him. "Who among you is responsible for internal security?"
A tall, thin Russian colonel stood up, somewhat reluctantly. "It is I, my chairman."
"How did you miss this?" Before the colonel could attempt to explain the chairman waived to his guards. "Execute him!" Then to the others in the room he ordered "put this fortress on complete lockdown and find the sewer rats who did this! And someone get our battle room back on-line! NOW!"
From inside their entry plug Patrick and Erin noticed that the fortress lights had all gone out at once, and could see the SEELE techs and guards scurrying around in a frenzy as they tried to cope.
"Looks like the power went out," Erin observed.
"That's our cue!" Patrick grasped onto the actuators and Erin did as well. "Unit 04 Emergency activation protocol!" he shouted and the display in front of them began to rapidly go through the various startup screens of the EVA unit until they had a fully active tactical display. LCL poured into the entry plug and both pilots took a deep breath, blew out all of the air in their lungs and then breathed in LCL as it went over their heads.
The display flashed back EVA-04 ACTIVATED and Patrick pulled on the actuators. "Moving out of the cages!" He pushed to the right but then was stopped by Erin, who pulled the actuators back the opposite way. "Hey! Wait a minute!"
"Do you even have any idea where you're going?" Erin said to him as she fought for control.
"Sure, it's down the main shaft here, right?"
"You can't get there directly, you have to go around the cages first!"
"Just let me pilot, okay?" Patrick argued. "I've been doing this for the last three months, I'm pretty good by now."
"Yes, and I've spent much of that time wondering all around this place. I know where everything is here a lot better than you do."
Patrick looked around the entry plug's video display and saw that men below them had noticed that their EVA was now moving on their own. If their new mission was going to be a success the two of them would need to settle how to pilot the EVA together, something neither of them had ever done with another person before.
"Look, I've got a bunch of kills on the Harpies," declared Patrick. "You should at least let me take the lead."
"She was mine before she was yours," Erin argued, "so my sync is bound to be better than yours."
"All right, all right!" Patrick said, nearly shouting. "We'll do it this way: you concentrate on moving, I'll do the fighting. Does that work?"
Erin thought about it for a moment. "Okay, deal!" She then grabbed onto the actuators again and pushed them forward. "Hang on, we're moving out!"
Vinson sat inside the cabin of his Thunderchief besides a young Canadian officer who was monitoring the attack force's communications network. The woman's eyebrows peaked up on receiving a message and she quickly wrote it down while listening, then handed it to the admiral as she told him what it said.
"Tokyo-3 confirms three Harpies have attacked the base. They're now engaging," she said. Vinson nodded. "That's three less that we'll have to worry about at least. Hopefully they can hold out." The admiral motioned to the officer's display. "Get me a tight-beam line to HUNTER." Within a moment she did so, handing a headset to Vinson.
"HUNTER, this is ZEUS."
Misato's voice came on the other end. "HUNTER, copy."
"Are you able to get a good visual on the target site?"
Inside of the Thunderbolt VSTOL that she was seated in, Misato gave orders to one of the crewman, who then on his own control set maneuvered a very small aerial drone connected by a micro-fibre wire that was a few kilometers away. The drone had a camera and from its vantage point could get a good view of SEELE's mountain fortress from the outside. Misato saw the image gained from the drone's camera and reported back.
"HUNTER has good visual. Two Harpies are outside as are men and air defense units."
"They know we're close," Vinson replied. "Any sign of them moving towards our position?"
"HUNTER, word is from Home that three Harpies are attacking their location. Please inform HUNTER-2 and HUNTER-3 when able."
Misato looked at the mission time clock and saw that there were only a few minutes to go before the MAGI would make their calculations and then broadcast them to the two Evangelons and one N2 warhead that were flying above them. So many things have to go right in order for this to work, Misato thought to herself. Oh, God please don't let anything screw up...
Rei floated inside of the entry plug of her Evangelion. With the EVA in low orbit the microgravity had allowed her to suspend herself in mid-plug and drift while she watched the Earth below through the monitors of the entry plug. The experience of being free from the Earth's gravity felt good to her, and as she looked out on the Earth she listened for any "songs" that the planet might be singing below.
From this distance you can see everything on the planet. Oceans, islands, mountains, rivers, cities. I could see the Himalayan mountains reach into the sky, or the Nile river flow into the Ocean, or the snow-capped peaks of Japan from here. The world is beautiful from up here.
I can also see the open red ocean of Antarctica, and the jagged edges of places like India , or Australia, or Argentina that were destroyed in Second Impact. But even in the ugliness and waste of it, there's beauty in these places too, even now.
There is so much here yet everyone is looks at only the small things in front of them. Up here you can gain perspective.
All of those people who are left down there, all of them hoping for a better life, and struggling for their own existence, to reach out to others and to reach out to themselves, to find meaning in their lives.
I want them to find that meaning. I want them to find love around them, and find a way to live in the world and make their lives better. I want them to have at least some of the paradise that was promised. And if it cost me everything so that humanity can find that way, it would be worth it. It would be worth giving up my own life if that's what it took.
If that's what it means to give birth, to suffer yourself so that something better can come from you, then that's worth it despite my own fear.
I'll give humanity that chance, the chance for them to live in a new world.
The EVA's digital interface chimed and Rei looked at the display. On the screen was a new message: COURSE CORRECTIONS RECEIVED. DEORBIT TIME IN 1:00 MINUTES. Seeing that her time drifting in orbit was coming to a close, Rei pushed off against the edge of the entry plug and drifted back into her throne seat. Still in her hand was her black stabilizer case.
Once in her seat she watched the clock slowly count down until it reached 0:00. Then a new message flashed on the display. DE-ORBIT BURN INITIATED. Rei could feel the EVA being pushed by the rockets on the Type-Z module that she was attached to, spinning and moving her around in orbit and pushing her downward towards Earth.
"HUNTER-2 and HUNTER-3 are starting their descent," the communications officer reported back to Vinson.
"ETA to impact?" he asked her.
"Four minutes, thirty-five seconds."
We're committed. "Order all units to stand by for assault on my mark."
Engineers inside of the SEELE-2 mountain fortress worked frantically to get their back-up power sources on-line as their supervising officers and armed guards anxiously looked on. After several tries, one of the power conduits was re-wired to a reserve battery supply and the lights and displays went back on in the control room.
Once power was restored operators in the room hurriedly re-started their own consoles to see how the battle in Tokyo-3 had progressed. Unfortunately once the link between the base's outer sensors and the command room was re-established they soon found out that they had bigger problems.
"Incoming targets!" shouted one operator. A supervising officer rushed to his console and check the display himself while Chairman Kiel and the others looked on with silently grave expressions.
"From where?" the officer asked.
"Two large objects coming from high altitude...seventy thousand meters, sixty-eight thousand...they're descending at a high rate of speed."
"A ballistic missile attack," said another officer.
The first one checked the display data again and gasped when he realized what was headed their way. "No, missile warheads aren't that big...these are massive!" The officer turned his head and faced his leader. "They are dropping Evangelion units from orbit right on top of us!"
"Go to full alert!" Kiel bellowed, pointing his finger at his minions. "Send out our own EVAs and activate Units 04 and 06! Do it now!"
The boy that SEELE referred to as Kaworu-2 was lying in his bed inside of his room, which had been locked from the outside once he had returned to sleep after his earlier attempt to unify with Unit 01. He had been in there for days but had made no attempt to leave. Instead he simply remained in repose, still dressed in his plug suit, and waited for the moment that he needed.
He heard alarms from the outside of his door, the latest in a series of noisy alerts that were being broadcast throughout the base. Earlier the lights in his room had gone out, and from that and the commotion outside he knew that SEELE's enemy had found their way to even this fortress.
Fools, he thought. They're like children that would pretend to be adults, running around in madness trying to cover up for their own mistakes. To think that the Lilim have inherited this world.
The old man talked about some sort of prophecy but he has been misled up until this point. It's time to take matters into my own hands.
The boy looked at the locked door. They think they can hold me in here. They think they can restrain me by using their medicine on this body. If the enemy is really attacking then the Daughter of Lillith, the other daughter of Lillith will be among them. If I want to reach my true form I'll need to seek her out. Then I can recover my true physical form and restore this world to its rightful owner.
He turned to face the door as he heard it slide open. In the doorway was a security officer, two heavily-armed guards and a doctor. The group came in his darkened room without announcing themselves. The officer then addressed the boy.
"The Chairman has bid that you board your Evangelion and do battle with the intruders," he told him in an authoritative tone.
"Tell him to go to hell," the boy replied.
"You will do this or the medicine we administer to you to keep your body alive will be withheld from you. You have gone too long without it already," the officer said, as he motioned to the syringe that the doctor was now holding in his hands. "You need this to live in this body. Surely that will convince you."
The boy got out of his bed and stood up. "I require nothing from the Lillim."
"You will do this, or there will be severe consequences for you," replied the officer sternly.
Seeing no response from the boy, the officer then gestured to the two guards to move towards the boy and hold him down. The silver-haired boy sighed in impatience. Predictable.
As the guards nearly reached within a foot of the boy a large geometric pattern flashed right in front of him, glowing red in the darkness of the room. The two guards were thrown back against the wall. The officer, now fearful after seeing how his guards were tossed against the wall like toys, reached for his communicator while the doctor tried to flee out the door. Kaworu-2 raised his hands towards the door and it slid closed, locking the two of them inside.
"I do not serve any human," the boy said as he approached the officer, now trembling in fear as he desperately hit the panic button on his communicator. Without saying anything with his own unseen power the boy lifted the officer up off the floor and threw him against the wall. The officer's body crumpled and fell in between the two dead guards.
As he watched the officer being killed the doctor cringed into a corner of the room, his whole body shaking in fear. The boy turned his attention to him next. He took two steps towards the man and then without touching him used his power to wrestle the syringe out of his hands. The small object floated across the room and then landed in the boy's hand.
Looking at the syringe filled the orange liquid, the boy sneered in contempt. "I no longer have a need for this." He then crushed the tube in his hands and dropped the contents on the floor. The boy looked at the doctor as he huddled in the corner, trembling and pleading. "Please...please...don't kill me!"
The boy gave a smirk. "Pathetic."
Amongst the noise of the alarms and clamor of men and machines outside the man's screams couldn't be heard by anyone outside of the room.
"ZEUS, this is HUNTER. HUNTER-2 and HUNTER-3 picked up on visual," reported Misato as she saw the long streaks high up in the sky. Two long white tails with red tips threaded through the dark sky above her, plunging their way downward.
"Status on enemy," Vinson asked. She looked through the display relaying the images of the aerial drone that was closest to Stetland Mountain. "Three...now four Harpies outside. They're starting to engage." Through the monitor she saw missiles and lasers being shot up into the sky to ward off the invaders, weapons that might be useful against an ordinary ballistic missile but nearly worthless against an EVA. She looked out the windows of her Thunderbolt and saw the missile smoke trails and flashes of the laser units reaching up into the sky. Misato carefully watched as their own EVAs plunged downward, knowing that she couldn't communicate with them until they were on the ground itself. "Get ready," she warned the rest of the Thunderbolt's aircrew. "This is going to all come down fast."
Inside of her entry plug Asuka gripped the actuators tightly as her EVA dove rapidly down towards the Earth. Tongues of flame from super-heated oxygen surrounded her on the EVA's video monitors as the EVA shook violently with the rapid descent. In front of the EVA was the remaining portion of the re-entry shield from the Type-Z equipment, blackened with friction and cracking under the strain of the Mach 20 velocity of the unit.
An alarm sounded and Asuka looked up at the monitors. WARNING: HEAT SHIELD INTEGRITY 02% was flashed on the screen. The shield in front of her was now billowing in black smoke, taking up most of the resistance of re-entry through Earth's atmosphere. Three seconds later the shield broke in two, and Asuka quickly maneuvered Unit 02 to make the final approach downward.
"AT Field at Maximum!" she shouted, putting all of her mental and physical energy towards pushing the EVA's energy outward. Her EVA was now low enough to where she could clearly see the mountain below her. The flash of explosions were visible as missile warheads coming from the surface below bounced against the AT Field. Asuka watched the altimeter as it rapidly spun downward: 45,000 Feet...40,000 Feet...35,000 Feet. Adrenaline pumped through her veins as she felt the incredible rush of crashing to Earth and she screamed at the top of her lungs in exuberance. Almost there...almost there...
Launched a minute before the two Evangelions, the S2 warhead also was plunging to Earth at nearly the same speed. Equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and artificial intelligence, the warhead used tiny jets at its rear to dodge missiles and laser shots aimed at it from the ground below. Now plunging below 10,000 feet, the sensor in the nose of the warhead saw what was waiting below: four Mass Production EVAs, all with their AT Fields fully spread out and aglow with energy. This was to the warhead's programming an expected development.
With only seconds to go before impact, the warhead's maneuver jets quickly veered it to one side and away from the spread of AT Fields that it faced below. Instead of striking against the Harpies below, the warhead instead rushed towards the mountain itself and in its last second of electronic life drove straight into the granite midway through the mountain's slope. Using it's high velocity to embed itself a thousand feet through solid rock, the last remaining instruction was given by the warhead's tiny computer and it detonated its N2 payload.
When the warhead hit the mountain Patrick and Erin were carefully maneuvering Unit 04 around the cages and trying to at least look like they were moving as part of the alert. They had just passed by a Harpy that was going towards a tunnel leading to the large double doors at the side of the mountain when the entire base shook violently.
"What was that?" Erin asked.
"Looks like the party's getting started," replied Patrick. "I think the Alliance is bombing this place."
Misato didn't need the drone's video link to see what happened next. Up in the sky above her there was a brilliant flash of light followed a half-second later by a wall of turbulent winds mixed with rock, smoke and fire. Her Thunderbolt, parked on one side of a fjord, buffeted with the shockwave as it rolled in but within a few seconds the wave passed and Misato turned her attention back to her display.
"Are the drones still there?" she asked the operator next to her.
"Looks like we lost a couple but...wait, I got it, one's still good. Active visual." he keyed in a switch and Misato saw the image again from the drone's video camera. One side of Stetland was now a jagged ruin of granite, as the N2 warhead had unearthed a massive side of the peak as well as melting all remaining ice and snow on the mountain.
"How long until the EVA's hit the ground?"
"Any moment now."
Streaking downward at over twenty times the speed of sound, Units 02 and 07 now fully extended their AT fields in front of them. Both units plunged with their feet forward and then plowed into the AT fields of the four Harpies that were standing at the base of the mountain. The space in between the six Evangelions lit up brightly in a massive explosion that filled up the early morning sky.
"EVA units impact!" shouted Misato's crewmate. The explosion creating by the units making contact with the AT Fields blocked out all visual but the Thunderbolt buffeted again with the shockwaves, Misato praying that the little aircraft was protected enough in it's hiding place.
After the last of the shockwaves Misato waited a few more seconds and then asked the crew. "Anything on visual?" Her own monitor no longer showed the video relay of their one remaining scout drone.
"Drone's gone," said the crewman. The colonel bit her lip, knowing that they needed to see if their risks with the EVA had been rewarded. "Get us up in the air!" she ordered the pilot. "I want visual on the impact site."
The Thunderbolt's engines started up and then jets popped them out of their hiding place on the slope of the fjord, shifting their position as they moved forward just yards from the rocky ground below them while the pilot searched for a new vantage point. At the crest of a ridge he gently nestled the aircraft, so that they could get a visual on the impact site.
Vinson's voice came on the radio. "HUNTER, this is ZEUS. Situation on impact site, over."
"Wait one, ZEUS," was Misato's quickly reply.
Hovering on the edge of a mountain ridge, the pilot maneuvered the Thunderbolt just above the visible crestline of the mountain, allowing them to use the gun cameras to search the crash site. The energy from the massive impact had dissipated, and all of the crew scanned the area to see what was still left.
Misato pushed the magnification from her own night scope to maximum and saw the area. Next to the base of the mountain there was a crater created by the explosive force of contact several hundred meters wide. In front of the crater she saw two Harpies sprawled on the ground but she searched for her own EVAs. "HUNTER-2, HUNTER-3, this is HUNTER, Do you copy?" she called out on her communicator. "HUNTER-2, HUNTER-3, COME IN PLEASE?"
Go on to Chapter 55