Aline 4

[12:31] <Minaplo> [NEON GENESIS EVANGELION, Episode Aline 4. Date: 7th of September, 2040.-
[12:32] <Minaplo> ["And in other news, Cardinal Weiss-Xylander reported today his firm condemnation of the Antipope Crisis brewing in Krakow…"-
[12:32] <Minaplo> ["You want anything?" Asked Shinji, moving from the couch. "I'm gonna grab a drink, so…"]
[12:34] * Aline thought on that for a little bit, hm-ing. "…I think I…" Pause. "I'll have a drink too, okay?"
[12:36] <Minaplo> ["Alright." He headed off to the kitchen, leaving Aline alone with the television, which was showing a clip of Cardinal William Weiss-Xylander- who had aged very well, although he needed glasses at this point- throwing down a line of fiery criticisms of the injust schismatics in Poland. He was quite fired up.]
[12:40] * Aline was at least amused by seeing him there. It had been long ago that she dropped the quest to discover her connection to him - though she still wondered at times - so instead he was just another acquaintance. And a famous one at that. A /cardinal/!
[12:46] <Minaplo> [… And then quite suddenly, the broadcast was interrupted.-
[12:52] <Minaplo> ["We apologise for the interruption," Said the newscaster. "But we have breaking news- Fifteen minutes ago at a presentation in the Royal Exhibition Building, Second Secretary of the Chinese Embassy mission to France, Yanmei Zhang-Wei, was stabbed to death in front of a crowd of UN delegates…"]
[12:53] * Aline had nothing in hand yet to drop, so instead she just dropped her jaw, staring wide at the TV. "My god… Shinji! Did you hear that? Someone just killed Yanmei…!"
[12:55] <Minaplo> ["Wh-what?" He returned from the kitchen. "What happened?!"-
[12:56] <Minaplo> ["We go live…"-
[12:56] <Minaplo> [The camera showed horrified crowds, Yanmei's body still lying where it had fallen, a puddle of blood spreading beneath it, Isaiah clinging to it tightly, wracked with screams of anguish. Security guards were sweeping through the area…]
[13:01] * Aline stared deeply at the screen, only turning a bit to the side to assure herself that Shinji was there. She knew it was (maybe) a bit silly to, but she felt a bit paranoid and jumpy now. "You can see it. She was stabbed… stabbed in front of all those people."
[13:05] <Minaplo> ["I don't believe it. W-Who'd do that?"]
[13:08] * Aline shook her head and frowned deeply. "I'm not sure… She's always been one to get into politics, so maybe she pissed someone off?"
[13:08] <Minaplo> ["O-Obviously…"-
[13:08] <Minaplo> [There was a knock at the door. Several sharp knocks, actually.]
[13:09] * Aline nearly jumped at the sound, and looked towards where her shotgun and sword were kept - she still cleaned and maintained them, though she hadn't practiced in a long time… "Who is it?!" She cried out.
[13:11] <Minaplo> ["Auntie Aline, it's me!" The voice of Oskar Soryu-Fontaine- one of the Paris-2 pilots- that Aline knew. Oskar's voice was urgent and shaken- after all, the mother of his fiancee had just been killed.]
[13:15] * Aline craned her head at Shinji, but then carefully went to open the door, working the locks first and everything. "We saw the news… what's up?" She began almost immediately.
[13:17] <Minaplo> ["Listen, get yourself into something functional- you and Shinji have to come with me, we need to leave."]
[13:19] * Aline almost hesitated, but… she lowered her head, turning to Shinji again. "…I was afraid as soon as the news hit. Shinji, let's go out for a while. I should still have an old outfit…" And Aline wandered off quickly to change into a relatively plain red tracksuit. Tacky, but well. Functional! She was moving /very/ fast, all said.
[13:20] <Minaplo> ["What's going on?" Asked Shinji, bewildered.-
[13:22] <Minaplo> ["We're all in danger. C'mon. Shinji, Captain Gosselin's here, you can get a ride on his bike- Auntie Aline, I'm tossing you into the trunk of my car."]
[13:27] * Aline came out, still overhearing all of it. "I'm gonna trust you. It's… it's them going after the pilots and former pilots?!" She was a bit twitchy about going in a trunk, but her fear and paranoia was rising ever-more.
[13:28] <Minaplo> ["Y… Yanmei had information about Mary Caine. Damning info. They're going after anyone related to her, friends, anyone who might support her." He busted open the trunk, which… Well, it looked uncomfortable, but for some reason there was a red blanket in there. "Hop in."-
[13:31] <Minaplo> [There was the sound of a growling motor- Frederic drove up on a sleek motorbike, dressed in his military coat, a high-powered Maser Pistol visible on his hip. "Get on, Shinji." He said, and Shinji- with only a second of hesitation- jumped onto the back, hands around Frederic's middle. Frederic ran a gloved hand through his greying hair and sighed. "We'll see you at the rendezvous point, Oskar. Make sure you get the cargo."-
[13:31] <Minaplo> ["I know already. Go!"]
[13:33] * Aline hopped in right away, though she had to contort a bit painfully to squeeze in. She prepared herself for a dark and uncertain travel…
[13:33] <Minaplo> [Click.-
[13:33] <Minaplo> [Darkness, for a second- then a little light flicked on.-
[13:34] <Minaplo> [The sound of footsteps, then the car started to move. "Aline, can you hear me?" Oskar's voice- faint, but coherent.]
[13:34] * Aline spoke back, trying to pick the right volume. "Yes!"
[13:35] <Minaplo> ["Frederic, Sophie, Marianne and the rest of the bridge crew who are in danger are leaving on special planes and heading for Boston. They're gonna be escorted by the First Superheavy Regiment- they're loyal to Henriette Mazarin, and that means they're on our side. So they'll be ok."-
[13:36] <Minaplo> ["We're getting to Boston by another means."]
[13:36] <Aline> "…Another means?" Aline said a bit incredulously.
[13:38] <Minaplo> ["I'm borrowing EVA-24, and- I know you're not gonna like it, but you'll be doing a manual startup and breaking out with EVA-00. We've managed to prepare as best we could- the Lance of Tears is there for you- but it's gonna be tight."]
[13:42] * Aline felt a certain pang of familiarity, actually. She never quite felt as safe as she should outside of 00. It was like it was her destiny - maybe even /Destiny/ - to be the last of her generation of pilots. "Actually… I'm okay with that. I may not like it now, but I'm my safest onboard 00. It's in my nature by now. Let's do this!"
[13:44] <Minaplo> ["That's what I like to hear."-
[13:45] <Minaplo> [About ten minutes later, the car would find itself swinging gently from side to side on one of NERV's car elevators. There were alarms sounding in the distance…-
[13:46] <Minaplo> [The elevator finally came to a stop. A few seconds later- glorious fresh air as Oskar popped open the trunk. "You ready to go?"]
[13:48] * Aline was practically leaping out of the car trunk. Age was nothing compared to adrenaline, and she was only 40 yet! Still limber, yeeeeah! Of course, Aline could only spend a second mentally patting herself on the back for Still Having It. "As ever." She already started walking, waiting for Oskar only a little.
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["EVA-00 is in its bakelite stasis silo, but the bakelite should be drained by now. As quickly as we can, you need to get in, power up, and rip your way out via the cargo elevator. Rosalie and I are grabbing 22 and 24- we'll be following if we can, but once we're topside, we scatter."]
[14:44] * Aline nodded, then, as she moved, had a question. "What about Louise and…" she hesitated verbally, but not physically. "Padma? Are they with us or uninvolved or what?"
[14:54] <Minaplo> [Oskar blanched.-
[14:54] <Minaplo> ["I dunno about Louise. She's like Rosalie and I- our SRs have been dropping with age."-
[14:54] <Minaplo> ["Padma…" he shook his head. "If you see Padma, don't bother fighting. Don't even bother talking to her. Just run. Her ratio sits at 100% perfectly- she'll rip you apart if you give her half a chance."]
[14:57] * Aline shook her head as she kept going. They'd probably be making progress by now. "I… see. Crazy as ever. Well, good luck, though maybe if we stuck together we might have a ghost of a chance, but… we'd be big targets. I guess one of us will draw her ire if she turns up."
[14:57] <Minaplo> ["If she does show up, leave her to Rosalie and I. 00 won't have a chance." They'd come to a fork. "Alright. That's your elevator. I'm going this way. Good luck."]
[15:00] * Aline simply gave a little salute, and hit her elevator. Hopefully Shinji was okay. Hopefully /she'd/ be okay. But the idea of tangling with Padma with all her crazy powers was not attractive. Back when she was in her /prime/, William was able to put her down in-sim in more or less a single volley. Now with such a great disadvantage, Oskar was right. 00 didn't have a chance. She sighed,
[15:00] * Aline while the elevator went.
[15:01] <Minaplo> [A few times, it stopped and shuddered most ominously…-
[15:01] <Minaplo> [But eventually it came to a full stop, and the doors opened.-
[15:03] <Minaplo> [Within was a sight she hadn't seen for nearly twelve years. EVA-00, the LCL draining out of its silo, filling the huge cavern around it up to the lip of the hexagonal-perimeter platform that surrounded it. A loading ladder led up to the entry plug.-
[15:03] <Minaplo> [The Lance of Tears was halfway-submerged, point down, in the bakelite. The chamber was empty, except for the many-tendriled form of Doctor Surov, his arms folded, watching EVA-00.]
[15:09] <Aline> Also crazy as ever. But the way he was just passively watching meant he was, allegedly, on her side. She didn't bother saying anything, just giving him a brief Significant Glance, before rushing up the ladder, running the manual-launch process through her head - then, through practice.
[15:11] <Minaplo> [First stage connections… LCL pumping into the plug… Second stage- the rush of kaleidoscopic colours and jumbled images. And then- a clear picture. Synch Ratio sitting at 60%.-
[15:12] <Minaplo> ["Hello, Aline. I am Otis Mark 5, Evangelion Prototype Unit-00 Model. It has been 11 years, 5 months, 27 days, 10 hours, 46 minutes, 36 seconds since your last activity."]
[15:16] * Aline was already beginning to get moving, glad that her ratio hadn't slipped /further/ in all those 11 years etc etc etc. She probably had Voriel's influence as well as herself to thank for that, even if the poor bastard might even be dead for good by now. Still, she almost smiled. Otis was something of an 'old friend' now, rather than the annoyance especially Yanmei thought it was. But
[15:16] * Aline 00 kept moving, grabbing - and if needed forcibly /yanking/ - the Lance of Tears from where it lay, and starting to rise. "Otis, preload combat data for EVA-23."
[15:18] <Minaplo> ["The combat data hasn't been updated in 11 years, 6 months, 19 days, 2 hours, 22 minutes, 19 seconds!"]
[15:20] * Aline was scoping out her angle of escape, readying her lance for a can-opener approach as needed. "They've got to know I'm here by-" Likely a slam from the lance embedding itself into steel and concrete. "-now. If you can, update it! If not, just load the old data. Anything is better than nothing."
[15:25] <Minaplo> ["I can't get a clear link to the MAGI! Loading old data…"-
[15:25] <Minaplo> [Luckily, the NERV Eva stasis silos were built under long, spacious shafts- each silo was designed to make it easy to move out of. Within a minute or so the hatch above her was pried open.]
[15:29] <Aline> And 00 rose, wings spread in what must have been the closest thing to its former glory that it'd ever get now. Aline half-wondered, as she rose out of the silo, if she'd become witness to a scene of devestation in the world above, as she shot up past the Geofront, up into Paris-2 itself. Somehow, the feeling of everything going to pot was strong enough that she nearly expected the city to
[15:29] <Aline> be in flames…
[15:32] <Minaplo> [True to form, the first thing she saw as she emerged was a burning blast of positron energy, missing her narrowly.-
[15:34] <Minaplo> ["Left, Oskar, flank her, I'll take her straight on!" Cried Rosalie, a positron battle rifle in her hands, firing full-auto at a target- EVA-23, which nimbly dodged.-
[15:34] <Minaplo> ["Auntie Aline, get out and go! Head for Boston!" Cried Oskar, an Ultra-progressive sword in hand.]
[15:36] * Aline nodded firmly, putting her hand to her heart even as 00 began to shimmer and glow, AT Field changing to an accellerating pattern and sending her aloft and shooting towards the west. "…Godspeed, you two."
[15:37] <Minaplo> [… And she was gone, leaving the outskirts of Paris-2, heading west…-
[15:38] <Minaplo> [Hours passed. Every hour or so, she received a text-only message from 'M'- Henriette Mazarin, no doubt- to take a different course for awhile, then another, then another- making her hopefully untraceable.-
[15:38] <Minaplo> [Before long, the sun was starting to peek over the east, casting everything in a vague, dusky light.]
[15:42] * Aline knew that time was passing, but she kept going. Her heart was still racing from her thoughts about Oskar, Rosalie, Shinji, Sera, the bunnies… Everyone she wished would come out of this okay. She had yet to come out of her adrenaline rush…!
[15:46] <Minaplo> ["High energy signature detected!"]
[15:48] * Aline kept streaking towards Boston on her course (for now), but she did turn around in the plug to look at it herself. She had a sinking feeling that she knew what it was going to be. Padma.
[15:49] <Minaplo> [It was a Dirac Sea, a jaunt- not the clumsy, imprecise jaunts which had been cutting edge twenty-three years ago; these were precision jaunts, impossible to anyone but an Angel and Padma d'Orleans.-
[15:50] <Minaplo> [EVA-23 emerged, apparently undamaged. It hung in the air, a terrible omen.-
[15:50] <Minaplo> [Voice only- "I don't suppose it's worth the time asking you to surrender."]
[15:57] <Aline> 00 whirled about in midair, letting its inertia send it scooting a bit further backwards like it were in space. "It's worth about as much time as asking you to stop." So this was it. Her final battle. Aline knew 00 didn't have the strength to contend with this monster, poor thing. She was the last of the trinity's pilots alive. The last pilot from the Angel Wars to still fight. Once again,
[15:57] <Aline> the new world rejected her, discarded her as a has-been, a useless thing - and now, a /threat/. The Lance of Tears readied itself, pointing out at EVA-23 as if in defiant challenge. With the comms off, Aline whispered to herself… "It begins."
[15:58] <Minaplo> [EVA-23 hovered in mid-air, A2-Type Equipment and AT Wings keeping it hovering.-
[15:59] <Minaplo> [A dirac cache opened, and the Eva reached in, drawing out a weapon.-
[15:59] <Minaplo> [It had been nearly twenty-three years since Aline ahd seen that weapon last. A long, immaculately clean but simple blade, impossibly sharp, humming with energy…-
[15:59] <Minaplo> [Excalibur.]
[16:17] * Aline turned about completely, and took a deep breath. Strategies rushed through her head very quickly, and she was going over all sorts. It was perhaps pointless to repel the mindreading she suspected, but she was cycling through them rapidly.
[16:20] <Minaplo> ["High energy buildup within the target! AT Field strength increasing rapidly…!"-
[16:21] <Minaplo> [EVA-23 raised a hand- a distortion, a dirac breach.-
[16:21] <Minaplo> [… Half a second later, four other breaches ripped themselves into existence, around EVA-00…!]
[16:22] * Aline weaved suddenly, managing to dodge… one of them, as she prepared to wheel forward to engage!
[16:22] <Aline> *one of their firing angles
[16:23] <Minaplo> [But not all of them. Burning negative-energy AT Beams ripped through the other portals, bombarding EVA-00, leaving deep burned grooves in the head and body…]
[16:33] * Aline cried out in pain, and could /feel/ her body decaying from the attack. But it didn't matter. It was literally do or die. Aline knew her chances of survival were almost nonexistant against someone like this, so she'd just have to do as much damage as possible! So 00 used that same gift of speed that was part of its escape, to barrel forward towards Padma's unit! Her comms were still
[16:33] * Aline on receive-only, so she just let loose a howl of bloody murder…!
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["Aline!" A new voice. A woman's, one she didn't know very well…-
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["This is Captain Suzanne Guillory of the First Superheavy Regiment! I'm moving to assist! Hold on!"-
[16:46] <Minaplo> ["Interlopers…" Murmured Padma, shaking her head. She kept her eyes on EVA-00- pointing at it with her free arm.-
[16:47] <Minaplo> [Energy began to gather, seemingly out of the air for Padma, gathering around her hand- a ball of unstoppable negative energy that she directed at EVA-00, not so much smashing into its left arm as totally vaporising it.]
[17:20] * Aline hit the comms switch, broadcast to only Suzanne. "Suzanne…! This is suicide! I know you want to help but there's no fucking way you can han- AAAAGH!" That was about the point where the arm blew apart. "…No way you can handle this. This is worse than an Angel. This is worse than an Archangel!" But she kept going, and flailed with her lance, her rustiness only matched by her fury!
[17:21] <Minaplo> [… And the blow was easily parried, Padma swiping off 00's legs on the reverse. "Is this really all Aline Blanc can bring against me?"-
[17:21] <Minaplo> ["Don't worry." Said Suzanne quietly. "I've been trained to fight Evangelions. All I need to do is be fast and careful!"]
[17:28] * Aline shook her head, not deigning to respond to Padma at all. Instead, she just kept hammering at EVA-23's head, blow after blow rocketing in a blur as she expended the very last of her hope in a blaze of speed!
[17:30] <Minaplo> [The blow dug into the metal plates on EVA-23's head, drawing blood-
[17:30] <Minaplo> [And a second later, a positron blast left its mark, snapping Padma's beast forward.-
[17:30] <Minaplo> ["W-What?! I'm taking damage?"-
[17:31] <Minaplo> ["I will -not- be so insulted by an obselete relic and a metal toy!"-
[17:35] <Minaplo> [A cracking sound, and EVA-23 vanished- only to reappear some 800 metres away, facing Suzanne.-
[17:36] <Minaplo> [The air stiffened, and energy gathered into six small globes. They all hurled themselves at the TRIDEN-T 6G…-
[17:36] <Minaplo> [But Suzanne had plenty of time to avoid them, and did so with ease.]
[17:39] * Aline howled again. She wouldn't respond to Padma, but her rage, while not quite as loud as before, was broadcast to Suzanne readily. "Don't think you're done with me yet, Padma!" 00 closed the distance in a heartbeat, and then laid out another - failed - stab.
[17:43] <Minaplo> ["But I am." Padma smirked, and turned her attention towards Suzanne. Four dirac portals rippled to life around the zippy TRIDEN-T, followed immediately by a barrage of Anti-AT energy.-
[17:43] <Minaplo> [The beams left gaping holes where they struck. Suzanne let out a cry of horror.]
[17:55] * Aline shook her head. This was not the time to let the younger generation die for her. So what if the new world rejected her? She would reject it right back. Taking a /very/ deep breath, and holding it, Aline paused to meditate. But only seconds passed. "You're right… in that you're done!" Aline flipped the Lance of Tears, and suddenly - in open defiance to all laws of AT Fields, it
[17:55] * Aline glowed with her full commitment of energy, even though the Anti-AT field /should/ have cancelled it out in its entirety. 00 started to rear back, and raised the lance as if to stab Padma. For a moment, it just lingered there, aimed but not impaled. Then… it moved! Slowly it pushed forwards… then it suddenly was flipped in 00's hand, and plunged right into 00's own chest, shearing right
[17:55] * Aline past the plating with its angry energy. "Suzanne. Tell Raphael that I'm sorry for everything." She turned off the comms. A slow keening whine started to rise over the ocean, and in a sudden move, 00 - lance still embedded in its chest - hugged EVA-23 with its last good arm, clinging tight. In her plug, Aline started to tear up, the droplets floating in the LCL. But she was smiling, smiling
[17:55] * Aline that same gentle smile Shinji might've known her for. To herself and nobody else, Aline uttered her last words. "I guess I lost to Destiny in the end. I'm coming, Mother." …Then a deafening roar shook the Atlantic, as the lance shattered, unleashing a wave of heat and force… that was suddenly joined by a much, much, larger blast. In its last milliseconds of life, EVA-00 awoke one last
[17:55] * Aline time to wail in sorrowful agony.

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