In The Synfront

[14:40] <Marianne> [The display of prismatic energy dominated the room, casting bright orange light against the walls and gleaming floor.-
[14:40] <Marianne> ["Three… Two… One…"-
[14:42] <Marianne> [Kaboom! With an almighty explosion, the blast doors that sealed the inner sanctum of the LN off from the rest of the Pyramid shattered, sending heavy debris across the floor. The strike team- having waged a solid and very hard-fought ten minute battle along bridges, fortified chokeholds, hallways and armories… Had finally reached their destination.-
[14:43] <Marianne> [A wide room, mostly unfurnished, with gleaming white floors, wide windows looking out onto the Synfront… And a single, very high chair, the back of which was facing them.]
[14:52] * Raphael emerges through the smoke as soon as its safe to do so, his rifle exchanged for a bolt pistol now that his left arm is badly wounded and nearly useless after a nasty scuffle with one of the Iron Guard. Beyond that his armour is dotted with scarring and mas-burns, including a blast that would have been fatal had his ablatives failed. And yet even then, he’s still one of the luckier
[14:52] * Raphael ones…-
[14:52] <Raphael> Right now his weapon is trained on the chair, at roughly head height, although given the size of the room there’s still a good deal of space between him and his target. "… Azariah Caine?"
[14:57] <Marianne> ["…"-
[14:57] <Marianne> [A thin, weak voice from the chair. "Have you come to kill me?"]
[15:03] <Raphael> "No, Mr. Caine." Raphael's voice may have been a child's now, but it remained calm and steady. It was not a time for anger, regardless of what he'd seen. "We have orders to bring you out alive."
[15:04] <Marianne> ["You want to kill me. A part of you does, at least. You can't help it. It's just how people are." He sighed deeply, fatigued. "Where did it all go wrong? I started out only wanting to help people, to take away their problems, to -heal-…"]
[15:10] <Raphael> "…" Raphael glanced over his shoulder to beyond the rubble of the blast door where even now Euphrasie was busy seeing to the wounded and dying from the other teams. He shook his head. "… Perhaps. I'm not here to pass judgement, but I do intend to fulfil my orders. Will you be coming quietly, Mr. Caine?"
[15:12] <Marianne> ["What else can I do?" He turned the chair around. "Except play this out to the bitter end?"-
[15:12] <Marianne> [He…-
[15:14] <Marianne> [He couldn't be human, could he? He was nothing like the picture Raphael had seen. Blonde hair had gone white and lank. Fair, healthy skin now sat drained of colour, thin and gaunt. He was thin, unnaturally thin- and as he stood up, unnaturally tall, easily over nine feet tall. He wore elaborate robes that shrouded most of his body.-
[15:14] <Marianne> ["I still have a part to play! I will -not- surrender until I am finished!"]
[15:19] * Raphael lowered his aim without further questioning or hesitation, firing a shot into the space beneath Azariah's robes where any human's - or humanoid's - leg would be.
[15:19] <Marianne> [The shot stopped in mid-air- slamming into an AT Field.-
[15:20] <Marianne> ["Do you know how long it takes for a soul to leave the body?" Very slowly, he pulled his over-large sleeves back from his hands. "About two to three weeks."-
[15:20] <Marianne> [He lifted his right hand. The fingers were long and twisted, and veins bulged…-
[15:21] <Marianne> [But that paled in comparison to what sat embedded into his palm.-
[15:21] <Marianne> [It was an eye.-
[15:22] <Marianne> ["Ramliel- the Sixth Daughter- falling to earth within my territory? It had to be destiny."-
[15:22] <Marianne> ["All it took to grant me the power I needed was to graft that soul back into the body of Adam- and seal it into my very flesh!"-
[15:23] <Marianne> [The field manifested fully now, a shimmering wall of prismatic light. Its sheer presence was enough to blow at Raphael's hair and clothes.-
[15:23] <Marianne> [A second later, it pulsed- the window -shattered-, and Raphael and the rest of his squad were hurled against a wall.]
[15:35] <Raphael> They'd all been firing from the moment Raphael's first shot sparked off the AT field, for all the good it had done them, but then suddenly the world was a mess of light and flying glass and Raphael could feel himself hurtling backwards. His first scream came as his wounded arm was hammered into the wall, followed only moments later by a quieter, but more desperate one as the first tendrils
[15:35] <Raphael> of alien awareness began to snake through his body and mind.
[15:37] <Marianne> ["Hm…" Azariah mulled over this, thinking to himself. Then, he concentrated- and for a second, his AT Field coalesced onto a single point- focused on Raphael.-
[15:37] <Marianne> [A second passed, and the field moved on.]
[15:46] * Raphael stops struggling, but from the way his face was contorted he seemed to be even more stung by whatever he'd just been shown. But even then, it only slips into outright panic when that point of focus tries to move on to the rest of his team. "Azariah! Stop this!"
[15:47] <Marianne> [As if responding to Raphael's command, the field stopped.-
[15:48] <Marianne> ["Child." Azariah turned, back towards the window. "To dare reprimand me, you bare shadow, you pale ghoul!" He held out his hand…]
[16:06] <Raphael> And then Raphael is able to move again, the invisible weight gone from his chest. There's a bare, undisguised loathing on his face as he staggers backs to his feet, searching around in vain for his gun. "… Hugues, get everyone to evac. Whatever he is now, we’re not equipped for it."
[16:06] <Marianne> [Hugues nods, a vague, worn look in his eyes. He turns-
[16:07] <Marianne> [And finds his way out blocked. Ikari Gendo stands there in full uniform, surrounded by none other than the twelve Ayanami girls- each of them wielding swords of equal length and make.-
[16:10] <Marianne> ["Captain Guillory. When I give the order, I want you to take your gun and shoot Azariah twice. Once in the chest, once in the head." He says, quietly and urgently. "Rei. Do it."-
[16:10] <Marianne> [Rei nods- the twelve Ayanamis file out into a line abreast, facing Azariah. They focus. Twelve fields shimmer in unison…-
[16:18] <Marianne> ["Not enough." Muttered Gendo. "I need… de Pteres."]
[16:27] <Marianne> [Gendo reached for his earpiece. "De Pteres! Neutralise him!"-
[16:27] <Marianne> ["… You need to hurry. Ramliel has taken over his mind."-
[16:28] <Marianne> [EVA-04 could already be seen, now, surrounded by swarms of machines- and before long, EVA-01 joined it, its green and orange visage dominating the view.-
[16:28] <Marianne> ["Guillory. Now."]
[16:43] <Raphael> Two sharp cracks from Raphael's stolen bolt pistol split the air, the sound echoing off the marble floors.
[16:45] <Marianne> [AT Field now fully weakened, the shots caught Azariah in the chest and head- as aimed, leaving a crater in the chest and ripping the head bodily in half. Azariah stumbled forward, then backwards…-
[16:45] <Marianne> [Then collapsed onto the ground.-
[16:45] <Marianne> ["Rei. You know what to do." Said Gendo.-
[16:46] <Marianne> [Rei nodded. She walked promptly across the room, sword at the ready until she stood over the dead body. Head ripped in half, neck barely together, eyes staring at the roof…-
[16:46] <Marianne> [They moved, suddenly, staring at her- and before she could react, his hand, the hand upon which sat Adam, raised- and plunged into her chest, skin warping as though it were nothing but water.-
[16:47] <Marianne> [Rei stared, eyes wide-
[16:47] <Marianne> [and then she -screamed-.]
[16:51] * Raphael doesn't make a sound. He doesn't even have any time to form one. He's already crossed half of the floor before he's truly aware of what's happening, and by then he's aiming again and firing a last shot that blows apart the shoulder that connects the warped arm to its host.
[16:52] <Marianne> [The bolt rips the arm free, and Azariah screams- before he scrabbles and grabs the arm itself with his other one. "NO! I MUST- THERE MUST BE ONE-"-
[16:54] <Marianne> [Rei slashed, the sword ripping his hand free. She staggered backward, and, gripping the embedded limb with her free hand, -wrenched- it out- the flesh warping back, leaving no mark.-
[16:54] <Marianne> [She dropped it, hands shaking, and -stabbed-. Over, and over, plunging her sword into Adam, tears pouring down her cheeks…-
[16:54] <Marianne> ["…" Azariah stared up at her…-
[16:55] <Marianne> [And finally closed those wretched, mutilated eyes.]
[17:03] * Aline has quit IRC (Quit: )
[17:06] * Raphael isn't taking any further chances, though. As the shockwave rattles the rest of the synfront, Raphael empties the rest of the pistol clip into Azariah's corpse before tossing the weapon away in disgust. Only then does he reach over and place his hand gently on Rei's arm in an attempt to still it.
[17:09] <Marianne> [At his touch, Rei tosses her sword aside and collapses into him, sobbing into his chest unstoppably…-
[17:09] <Marianne> [Gendo watches on. His expression unreadable behind his glasses, but a second later he's at their side, his own hand on Rei's shoulder. "Let's go home, Rei. Guillory, please take Rei back to the pickup zone."]
[17:14] * Raphael doesn't look at Gendo or acknowledge him, but he follows the directive all the same. With Rei still held tight under his arm he proceeds past the other Ayanamis, his own team and the dead soldiers beyond them, murmuring to the girl quietly all the while.
[17:14] <Marianne> [The other Ayanamis vanish their blades, and work on helping the wounded.-
[17:15] <Marianne> [Gendo himself stares down at the mutilated corpse of Azariah Caine. He's quiet, impassive.-
[17:15] <Marianne> [A moment later, he reached into his uniform jacket, pulled out a small container, bent down, and placed Azariah's severed hand inside. The container is sealed and placed back within the jacket- and then he's gone, following the others.]
[17:26] <Sept> There were heavy, quick, uneven steps from the corridors outside. Sera de Pteres appeared, breath rasping heavily as he panted and coughed up LCL. He'd stopped at the mouth of the door to catch his breath, but slowly, he raised his head, and lost his breath all over again. He stumbled over to the lifeless, ravaged husk, covered his mouth and just stared down at it, drawing gasping breaths.

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