Cherry Blossom Procession 4 6

[15:34] <AdEvaGM> [END OF EVANGELION. 25th of November, 2018. Location: Outer Space, roughly halfway between the Earth and the Moon. "Cherry Blossom Procession" 4.6-
[15:39] <AdEvaGM> [An indigo rift tore open.-
[15:40] <AdEvaGM> [Out of it came the Dorian Lachapelle. The rip closed a few seconds after the massive engines cleared the rift's horizon.-
[15:43] <AdEvaGM> [Albus Mortens, First Consul of the Greater Sol Co-Prosperity Sphere, stood on the bridge, his expression calm, his eyes narrowed.-
[15:44] <AdEvaGM> ["Yes, I can feel it." Whispered a Virus Guard, standing a few metres behind him. "The Void Asterion's presence in this area… We have arrived at the right place."-
[15:45] <AdEvaGM> ["Could your friend hurry up?" Said Albus.-
[15:46] <AdEvaGM> ["My lord Albus," Said the Guard in a sleek tone. "If I didn't know better I would say you were feeling vulnerable."-
[15:47] <AdEvaGM> ["Metatron's greatest sin was allowing angelspawn to speak." Said Albus with a short sigh. "Of course I feel vulnerable, fool."-
[15:47] <AdEvaGM> [Albus turned to give the Virus Guard a dirty look, just to reinforce the statement.-
[15:48] <AdEvaGM> [The Virus Guard was not wearing a helmet.-
[15:48] <AdEvaGM> [In the place where a fine human head should have been was instead a dark red spherical head-like object, perfectly round, three rings of eight eyes surrounding a large octopus-like beak protruding out of a sucker-mouth.-
[15:50] <AdEvaGM> ["Soon the Void Asterion will arrive, and your mighty ship and its small god will suffice until then. Besides, are you even expecting to be attacked?" Said the Guard, little gills along its throat flaring.-
[15:50] <AdEvaGM> [Albus's lip curled.-
[15:51] <AdEvaGM> ["I am an Immortal, one of the ten thousand sons of Azariah Caine. I always expect to be attacked." Said Albus, turning away quickly.-
[15:51] <AdEvaGM> ["You should have a little more faith." Said the Guard.-
[15:52] <AdEvaGM> ["Why? Did faith stop your precious Asterion from being suplexed through an office building in down-town Rio?" Said Albus. "Or did that 'not count'?"-
[15:53] <AdEvaGM> [The Guard's eyes all narrowed at him. "You will see."-
[15:53] <AdEvaGM> ["I would like to see sooner rather than later, if that's all the same to you-"-
[15:54] <AdEvaGM> [There was a ripple in the void of space.-
[15:55] <AdEvaGM> [It was quick and simple. Space folded, and where there had once been nothing obscuring the view of the earth, there were instead vessels: a battleship and an assault carrier, arriving in formation, a handful of Evangelions and squads of Superheavies between them.-
[15:55] <AdEvaGM> [Albus's eyes widened. "They've found us!"-
[15:56] <AdEvaGM> [He surged forward, grabbing the back of his captain's chair with both hands. The Gendo Ikari's cannons were already charging up.-
[15:56] <AdEvaGM> ["Barrier field to the bow, now!" Shouted Albus.-
[15:57] <AdEvaGM> [A strange sensation rippled through the air, across Albus's skin. It felt like someone had walked across his grave.-
[15:57] <AdEvaGM> [The AT Field bubble around the Dorian took form, but only a second; then the multitude of little arrays and broadcasters across the hull suddenly went dark, and the Field collapsed.-
[15:57] <AdEvaGM> ["What-"-
[15:58] <AdEvaGM> ["The Array's gone into maintenance mode! The Eva's been severed from the network!" Shouted a tech-guard, manning a console. "Our shields are down!"-
[15:58] <AdEvaGM> [The Ikari's cannons fired.-
[15:59] <AdEvaGM> […-
[16:00] <AdEvaGM> ["Direct hit!" Shouted Forrest, manning the Ikari's warfare station. "Enemy bridge has been confirmed destroyed-"-
[16:01] <AdEvaGM> ["Boarding torpedoes, fire!" Said Misato, sitting in the captain's chair. "All forces, move to attack! Try to seal off the enemy hangars before they can launch Superheavies!"-
[16:02] <AdEvaGM> ["Teleporter team one, prepare to hit-and-run on the array hub. De Pteres… Uh, do whatever you're gonna do, but do it quickly." Said Misato.]
[16:13] <Sept> "Understood," said Sera, taking a moment to center himself. "Freya?"
[16:16] <AdEvaGM> ["Y-Yeah?" Asked Freya, sitting uncomfortably in 01's plug.]
[16:17] <Sept> "You ready?"
[16:18] <AdEvaGM> ["Yep."]
[16:22] <Sept> "Alright. AT Field holding, all systems green. Proceeding with projection…"
[16:39] <Yanmei> In 04's entry plug, Yanmei tensed slightly, a clear grimace on her face. Even with all of their planning, a million things could go wrong and cost them everything. Still… there were no visible opponents yet, outside of the Dorian itself. Briefly, she scanned the void of space, half-anticipating some ambush.
[17:48] <AdEvaGM> [But there were no ambushes or threats, at least just yet.-
[17:49] <AdEvaGM> [EVA-01 sat cross-legged on the bow of the Ikari. As it sat there, the space around it began to fill with a bright blue light.-
[17:50] <AdEvaGM> [A cloudy blue aura began to swirl around 01, curling into a rhythmic double-helix pattern, the trails joining a growing blue ball of light above 01's head.-
[17:50] <AdEvaGM> [The trails began to swirl with greater speed.-
[17:51] <AdEvaGM> [The final two trails of aura were absorbed into the ball, which hung for a few seconds, filling anyone who saw it with a strange sense of contentment…-
[17:52] <AdEvaGM> [The ball burst.-
[17:53] <AdEvaGM> [A tremendous pale blue dome flared into existence, encapsulating both the Dorian and the Ikari. From this dome came dozens of tendrils of light, spiralling downwards into the Dorian…]
[18:04] <Yanmei> The initial calm that came from watching the lights eventually shifted into something like a muted worried feeling for Yanmei. "Is this normal? This is supposed to happen, right?"
[18:09] <Sept> "All of this was supposed to happen," Sera mused. "That much should be obvious by now." And 01 went silent.
[18:37] <AdEvaGM> ["Yanmei, I want you to lead an attack on the frontal cannon batteries." Said Misato. "If we can bring those guns down, the Ikari'll be a lot safer from counter-fire."]
[18:52] * Yanmei had muttered something under her breath in disgust after Sera and Freya went absent. Now she resumed her normal speaking voice. "Right, then. This won't take long? Asuka and I will rush up ahead and trash it up close. Wales, provide support from a distance that's suitable for your rifle. Salazar, defend Wales from any incoming counterattacks."
[13:53] <Minaplo> ["Understood." Said Lexie. "And stop calling me Wales!"-
[14:01] <Minaplo> [Curtains of positron bolts spat out from the Dorian's hull as dozens of cannon turrets turned to face the Evas. Yanmei glided gracefully through the wave of fire; within a minute she landed, untouched, next to an impact cannon turret.]
[14:09] * Yanmei raised Exalibur high, and brought it down on the barrel of the turret with a loud, triumphant cry!
[14:11] <Minaplo> [The sword cut straight through. The cannon began to spark and fizzle, but it wasn't going to be firing any time soon.-
[14:22] <Minaplo> [But before Yanmei could move onto the next cannon, one of her visual screens flickered for a second- then cleared, revealing the face of Albus Mortens.-
[14:22] <Minaplo> ["What do you think you're doing?" He asked.]
[14:28] <Yanmei> "What th-?! You!!" Yanmei spat, fixing the screen with a furious glare. "You should talk! Traitor! Degenerate! Kidnapper! Give me back my personnel!"
[14:29] <Minaplo> ["I would be happy to."]
[14:33] <Yanmei> "Unharmed! Don't you dare toss them all out into space or return them all brainwashed or whatever!"
[14:34] <Minaplo> ["I wouldn't dream of it. Your personnel, unharmed, unaffected, returned to you, as you wish."-
[14:36] <Minaplo> [There was a flash of light in front of Yanmei; a small pod appeared. One of its sides was transparent, and Yanmei could see within… Marianne!]
[14:42] <Yanmei> Marianne! Yanmei leaned slightly forward in spite of herself, and then snapped back just as quickly. "What kind of game are you playing here, Mortens?"
[14:44] <Minaplo> ["It's really quite simple. You can have your personnel. But you must pay a price."-
[14:45] <Minaplo> ["Those who cannot earn their boons have no place in the Co-Prosperity Sphere." He said solemnly. "Your personnel will all be returned unharmed. But you must call off all of your forces and surrender your Evangelion and your sword."-
[14:45] <Minaplo> ["If you press on with this foolish attack, be warned: you will pay a price for it, and it will be far higher than I am asking."]
[14:46] <Yanmei> "And what would you do with an Eva you can't pilot and a sword you can't use?"
[14:47] <Minaplo> ["I'm sorry, Zhang, but that is my concern, not yours. You have your terms. I need an answer."]
[15:08] * Yanmei scoffed. "Would you sign a contract without fully understanding the consequences of it? Listen. If there's anything I've learned during the past year, it's that if a negotiating party leaves things all vague, then they are absolutely trying to screw you over. Give me precise details, not this cryptic bullshit." -
[15:12] <Yanmei> "What is this 'higher price' you're going on about? Does this transaction include Akagi? Are you planning to infect 04 with your weird Angel virus? Because, uh… given the fact that I'm still connected to it, that is very much my goddamned problem, regardless of what you may think."
[15:14] <Minaplo> ["This is a waste of my time. You have ten seconds to retrieve Amatore."-
[15:15] <Minaplo> [The monitor flickered dead.]
[15:29] <Yanmei> "Tch." Yanmei reached out immediately to gently grasp the pod. "You okay, Marianne?"
[15:39] <Minaplo> [Marianne said something quickly, her hands flat against the sides of the pod, but Yanmei couldn't her hear.]
[15:43] <Yanmei> "Command! I'm sending her to the hangar. Please isolate and then examine her for injuries."
[15:46] <Minaplo> ["Understood." Came Alphonse's reply. "Cache her through now."]
[15:47] * Yanmei did so, quickly.
[15:48] <Minaplo> ["She's through!"-
[15:49] <Minaplo> [As Yanmei closed the cache, however, a new threat would rise. The hull of the Dorian started to ripple as though it were water, with dozens of ripples appearing in a large circle around her.-
[16:02] <Minaplo> [A second later, tendrils of gleaming light rose, like charmed snakes, from those ripples. They coiled upwards- then suddenly lashed out at Yanmei and Asuka. A few slipped around 04's knees before Yanmei jerked free.-
[16:03] <Minaplo> [But Asuka wasn't so lucky; she jinked away from one, only for a handful of others to lash out and ensnare her. Now they were entangling 02's arms, legs, throat…-
[16:03] <Minaplo> ["U-Ugh- what the-?!"]
[16:05] <Yanmei> "Hold on!" Yanmei tried slashing at them. "Command! What are these things?"
[16:06] <Minaplo> ["I, uh… MAGI! Hurry up!" Snapped Misato.-
[16:07] <Minaplo> [Excalibur struck one of the tendrils- and bounced off.-
[16:07] <Minaplo> [As Yanmei tried again, however, something unusual happened- for a second, Excalibur was shrouded in black flame. This time the blade sliced straight through; the tendril turned to ash and died, but was quickly replaced with some others.-
[16:10] <Minaplo> ["Help me!" Shouted Asuka. Yanmei realised that the tendrils were burning through 02's armour- and a large tendril was rising now, this one ending in a long, sharp sting.]
[16:21] * Yanmei once again went for the tendrils that were still holding Asuka… Excalibur's strange black fire sprang up a second time in a small explosion that quickly died down to a more manageable size and held steady close to the blade as she swung the sword in broad, flashy arcs.
[16:24] <Minaplo> [The field was cleared of tendrils- but only for a few seconds before more emerged. It was just long enough for Asuka to break free.-
[16:24] <Minaplo> [She swung her axe down at a nearby tendril- only for it to bounce away as well.-
[16:24] <Minaplo> ["My stuff's not working on this!" Said Asuka. "Look, I'm gonna make a break and find targets of op, you keep working on these cannons!"]
[16:25] <Yanmei> "Fine! Just be careful!"
[13:34] <Minaplo> [The tendrils only became thicker as Yanmei cut her way towards the next cannon. The farther she went, the more her progress slowed, until she was advancing in mere half-metres through a forest of gleaming tendrils, kept at bay only barely by Excalibur's black fire.-
[13:35] <Minaplo> [The hull beneath her rippled and warped for a bit- and a hand punched through and grabbed 04's ankle. It was grey and fleshy, and oddly familiar…]
[13:39] <Yanmei> And it was the familiarity that really sent a jolt of terror through her. Something that big… could only be an Eva or an Angel, right?! -
[13:39] <Yanmei> "Asshole! Leggo!" She kicked at it furiously, unwilling to lower Excalibur even for an instant.
[13:52] <Minaplo> [Yanmei caught the hand against the deck; its grip slackened for a moment, allowing Yanmei to break free.-
[13:53] <Minaplo> [But the hand quickly recovered. It pulled itself up and out of the deck, followed by the rest of its body- the body of an Evangelion.-
[13:55] <Minaplo> [The Evangelion's armour had sloughed off, revealing its gaunt, naked grey flesh in all its disturbing glory. Yet this too had been changed: tentacles ran both across and under the flesh, pulsating rhythmically every few seconds. The tentacles each fed into bulbous tumourous parasites positioned all around its body- one across its eye, another across its heart, three or four per arm and another three per leg, with two across its back.-
[13:56] <Minaplo> [The Eva's posture was twisted- it looked as though its neck had been snapped, for its head hung upside down.-
[13:57] <Minaplo> [Yet enough of its armour and markings remained for Yanmei to be able to identify it: Evangelion Master Model Unit 18. Kyuu's unit.-
[13:58] <Minaplo> [The Eva lunged at Yanmei, throwing its entire body at her like a javelin.]
[14:26] <Yanmei> "G-god… Kyu-" But it was coming for her. And Yanmei had to duck, quickly, to avoid its charge. She brought Excalibur up as she did, slamming it into the pulsing, glowing bulge on the Eva's chest…
[14:29] <Minaplo> [Excalibur pierced the parasite and the chest both, ripping straight through the middle. The flesh burned away from the black fire.-
[14:30] <Minaplo> [The Eva lowed, then staggered away, pushing violently at Yanmei as it went. It held its hands over the gash in its chest, which didn't seem to be healing. The parasite twitched, before turning to ash.-
[14:30] <Minaplo> [Then every bone in the Eva's body snapped at once.-
[14:31] <Minaplo> [The gash widened, splitting upwards, creating a huge vertical wound from waist to left shoulder. It strained for a second, then split open.-
[14:32] <Minaplo> [Out of the gash burst the Evangelion's skeleton, ligaments and nerves and muscles hanging off it, still connecting it to the flesh like a puppeteer and their puppet.-
[14:33] <Minaplo> [The skeleton-Eva loomed over Yanmei now. Its lower body staggered drunkenly for a moment before it all lurched at Yanmei, seeking to pin her down with its now four arms!]
[14:56] <Yanmei> "Blech!! No!" She had to duck and roll to the side now, still ending up altogether too close for her liking. For a split second she wavered between running away and doing something else, but the opportunity in front of her was too handy to just give up. She sprang again, this time toward the undead monster, slashing at the bits that connected its skeleton parts to its… not skeleton parts.
[14:56] <Yanmei> Excalibur blazed in a bright, firey arc!
[15:17] <Minaplo> [The black flame immolated the Eva almost instantly, spreading across its tainted flesh and bone. Within seconds, the connective tissue had melted into an oily, greasy, bubbly mass.-
[15:18] <Minaplo> [The Eva stuttered toward her for a second, then collapsed into a pile.-
[15:19] <Minaplo> [But the tendrils had not been idle during this. They had grown and expanded, not toward Yanmei but upward. As Yanmei looked around now, she'd see the tendrils entwining, forming a massive enclosed dome around her. A dome that was very nearly sealed shut- only a little space remained from which she could escape.]
[16:08] <Yanmei> But she wasn't going to let it go that easily! She pulled something out of her wing dock… a scuffed and long-neglected bolter, one that was much bigger than a standard pistol bolter, and yet light enough to aim one-handed. And aim she did. At the hull of the Dorian. Just a foot or two away from her own person. -
[16:24] <Yanmei> The thing about fighting in space was that it was the worst pain ever. There was no friction… nothing to slow an Eva down outside of the pilot's own control once it got started jumping, or flying, or somersaulting. The explosion sent 04 somersauting now. It was in the direction Yanmei had hoped to go, yes, but she had hoped to do with with less motionsickness and flailing. She cursed,
[16:24] <Yanmei> but didn't have time to keep it up beyond a choice word or two. Wrigging, glowing strings whipped past her, and the ones that had made up the dense side of the dome were suddenly much closer than they had any right to be. Her own dome suddenly blazed into existance… a bright burst of primatic light that lasted only for a slightest of seconds and blew everything around her back, like a
[16:24] <Yanmei> gale of wind. She spotted the ground, fired off another round in the appropriate direction… and rode the rest of the way to the explosion, this time upright. Would she make it…?
[16:30] <Minaplo> [The tendrils had started to entwine just as Yanmei punched straight through them.-
[16:30] <Minaplo> [She was free!-
[16:33] <Minaplo> [As Yanmei sped away, she was able to twist and see the dome from the outside.-
[16:35] <Minaplo> [But it was -huge-. Entwined as they were, the tendrils stopped taking on any sort of definition and just became a barrier of unbroken light.-
[16:35] <Minaplo> [But… One that was becoming smaller?-
[16:35] <Minaplo> [Indeed, the dome was shrinking in on itself, breaking down back into individual vines.-
[16:36] <Minaplo> [A few seconds later, Yanmei would see where they were all going- into Kyuu's Evangelion. The vines wrapped around skeleton and skin both, roughly shoving the two back together before slithering into the open wound. The vines became muscles and sinew and everything Yanmei had boiled away.-
[16:37] <Minaplo> [The Evangelion now shone, beams of radiance shooting out of every wound, gash and orifice.-
[16:37] <Minaplo> [The deck below the Evangelion rippled, and another shape emerged- a small globe of glowing light, but this light was golden in colour. Yanmei could see the individual within.-
[16:37] <Minaplo> [Albus!]
[16:46] <Yanmei> 04 was still airborne, but Yanmei had slowed and eventually stopped once she was out. It was hard to adjust to all the light, but eventually she did… and then immediately she bristled, leaning forward in her seat. Fucking Albus! Standing right there as if he owned the place!
[16:47] <Minaplo> [Albus gave Yanmei the second smuggest smirk she had ever seen.-
[16:48] <Minaplo> ["I'm impressed, Chancellor. I truly didn't expect you to escape-"-
[16:48] <Minaplo> [The area around Albus lit up. Not with the strange white energy he wielded, but with something more apparent: positron energy. A beam of it, fired square-on from a Great Positron Cannon wielded to Alexandrina.-
[16:49] <Minaplo> [The positron energy formed a globe around him, hung for a second, then twisted into an infinity ring around his head.-
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["Firing a GPC at me during parley is extremely dishonest." He said, his smirk gone. "Take it back."-
[16:54] <Minaplo> [With a snarl, Albus whipped a hand out. The ring of positron energy snapped backwards. It tore straight through EVA-06's chest and out the other side, leaving a short-lived gout of flame in its wake. The Eva was blasted backwards, then began to drift into space.]
[13:01] <Yanmei> "Salazar! Help her!"
[13:13] <Minaplo> [Eufemia was already rushing to 06's side, tucking her bolter away to free up a hand.]
[13:22] <Yanmei> Seeing that she was in good hands, Yanmei jerked her attention back to Albus. Did he have any more attacks at the ready? "It's like you have some shitty deathwish," she hissed.
[13:26] <Minaplo> ["I could say the same for you, Chancellor. It seems like you intend to fight me alone, after all."]
[13:34] <Yanmei> "Yeah. What a challenge that'll be." Yanmei rolled her eyes, tightened her hold on Excalibur, and then began to close the gap, charge-floating at the glowing ball and the even more brightly glowing Eva corpse.
[13:39] <Minaplo> [Albus fled into the corpse-Eva, vanishing into its chest.-
[13:41] <Minaplo> [The Eva flared with light; when the glare subsided a moment later, it was wearing thick, F-Type armour of white and gold. In its left hand was a golden staff, and in its right a sigilite sword.]
[14:10] <Yanmei> Just in time for Yanmei to start making quick work of the hulking Eva! She plunged the still-flaming Excalibur into its staff-wielding arm and smirked silently to herself.
[14:13] <Minaplo> [Excalibur cut through the arm easily, severing the white tendril-muscles beneath. The arm weakened enough for the staff to slip out of its fingers.-
[14:14] <Minaplo> [Albus leapt backwards and raised his sword. The staff leapt into the air of its own accord and began to float around him.-
[14:15] <Minaplo> ["This is how it should be, Yanmei! Chancellor versus Consul! No politics, no dry briefings and statistics, just the two of us, fighting to the death!"-
[14:16] <Minaplo> [A dirac cache appeared in the air in front of him. Out came a small sphere of sigilite. It hung in the air, inert.]
[14:20] <Yanmei> "Consul," Yanmei sneered, springing away from the Eva and the ball. "You're no Consul! You're just an usurper? And the name of your organization is the absolute worst!"
[14:23] <Minaplo> ["At least it thinks big. Who could ever be satisfied with only the Earth?"-
[14:23] <Minaplo> [He hurled the sigilite sphere toward her.]
[14:42] <Yanmei> "Tch-!" She tried to stop it using nothing but her mind and A.T. Field, envisioning, however briefly, the look on his face when the sphere would snap back in his direction and wreck all that pretty F-type armor he was wearing.
[14:46] <Minaplo> [The ball didn't even slow down. It struck 04's chestplate and exploded, bathing the area in a glowing ball of white energy, shimmering rainbow colours all around.-
[14:46] <Minaplo> [When it cleared, 04 had been blasted backwards, much of its armour disintegrating, huge wounds on its body. A hole more than large enough to fit several Evas had been blown in the deck below.-
[14:47] <Minaplo> [As Yanmei felt her body wrack with sympathetic pain, she'd see about a dozen marines float out of the breach and into the void.]
[16:11] * Yanmei was still gasping a little from the scream she'd let out during the explosion. The sight of little people drifting toward the endless darkness of space didn't end the pain, but it did spur her to act in spite of it, raising an arm and enveloping them in a single large bubble of an AT Field. "Hey! Whichever Eva Unit is closest to my position! I need help with another rescue jaunt!"
[16:16] <Minaplo> [The Empress appeared almost out of nowhere, wrapped as it was in an invisibility field.-
[16:17] <Minaplo> [With a wave of her hand, she jaunted the marines away. She turned to leave.-
[16:17] <Minaplo> [At that moment, Albus said three words- words which, once she understood their meaning, chilled Yanmei to the bone.-
[16:18] <Minaplo> ["Time has stopped."-
[16:18] <Minaplo> [And indeed, Yanmei saw, it had.]
[16:20] <Yanmei> Yanmei stared incredulously at him and then very quickly let her eyes dart around at their surroundings.
[16:24] <Minaplo> [The world had frozen in place. The Empress wasn't moving at all. Out in the void between the vessels, Yanmei could see superheavies and kirishimas, some of them on fire, which also sat perfectly still.-
[16:25] <Minaplo> [The only things that could move were Yanmei and Albus.-
[16:27] <Minaplo> ["Allow me to repeat my offer only once. Excalibur and 04, now."]
[16:31] <Yanmei> "You think I'd give up after one hit?!" Yanmei eased to her feet. "You couldn't be any more insulting, could you?"
[16:32] <Minaplo> ["I mean, I could."-
[16:34] <Minaplo> ["But you can do a lot in a single hit." Said Albus. "That's all it took to deal with Princess Alexandrina, after all…"-
[16:37] <Minaplo> ["If it's a fight you want, then I suppose it's a fight you'll have."-
[16:38] <Minaplo> [And with that, Albus surged toward her, sword raised!]

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