Chapter 15 - The Death Giver, Part 3 of 3
The appointed day came as NERV readied itself for round two with Baraqijal. Up on the surface, each Evangelion was in position, ready to do their part, all equipped with the new external batteries Maria had helped them put together.
"Everyone good out there?" Misato's voice asked over the comms.
"Ready," Shinji confirmed.
"I am ready," Rei added. Unit-00 was equipped with a large tank backpack containing the alkaline solution, and held in its hands was the EVA-sized injection gun, connected to the tank via a large hose.
"I feel like I'm in one of those inflatable sumo suits you see at carnivals," Asuka mildly griped, referring to the D-Type suit her Unit-02 was geared up in, "but I'm ready whenever Benny the Ball comes back."
"Tell you what, Asuka," Misato began to offer, "we come out of this in one piece, you'll all be treated to a weekend at the onsen near Mt. Asama, on us. Think of this as a way to really make up for keeping you from the Okinawa trip."
Asuka's comm was silent for about a minute as the redhead considered what she'd been offered. "...Deal," she said. "But this place better have at least a 4.5-star rating!"
"Oh, it does, and then some," Misato replied. "Stand by for further orders." With that, Misato turned off the comms as she surveyed the bridge. All the techs were in their place, as were Ritsuko to her side and the commanders up in their perch. On a holo-projector to Misato's other side, Maria and Mari were watching to see how their contributions would help in the fight to come.
"Quite the incentive, Captain Katsuragi," Maria commented, "sounds like compared to the spas here at home, the onsen would make them seem so pedestrian."
"Ooh, I'll make sure Ramona doesn't hear about that..." Mari teased, making Maria fluster a bit. Ramona was the masseuse at the spa the two girls sometimes visited in their downtime after a hard day's training.
"Give it a try if you're ever in our neck of the woods," Misato replied, before turning her focus to the techs. "Everything ready?"
Makoto quickly pulled up a grid map of the city before he answered. "Pit trap is all set, camouflage has been deployed." A marker on the map indicated the full extent of the trap's façade. The hole that served as the trap had previously been opened during Unit-01's battle with Iblis the Fourth Angel. The surface area within had been coated in order to withstand Baraqijal's acid.
"Status of the Angel?" Misato asked.
Kaede quickly pulled up footage from the cameras on the outskirts of the city. "Inbound, reaching city limits in five minutes."
Misato nodded before turning the comms back on. "Pilots, the Angel's almost here. Get ready to execute the plan on my mark."
"Roger," all three pilots answered back.
The surface, edge of the city...
Baraqijal, now fully-replenished, rolled at great speed as it entered Tokyo-3, vehicles and buildings alike steamrolled in its wake. It slowed as it eyed its surroundings, instinctively wary as it made its way toward its destination. When it tripped one particular sensor as it rolled along one avenue, it was all Misato needed to hear.
"Now!" she ordered, as the automated defenses were activated, pelting Baraqijal with ammo that no doubt proved ineffective, except as a minor nuisance to the creature. When the weapons ran out of ammo, Shinji took his cue and Unit-1 made its presence known to the Angel, firing a short burst from its pallet rifle and getting Baraqijal's attention. The Angel turned to face its opponent, which then proceeded to break into a run while Baraqijal gave chase, firing a few sprays of acid as it did. Shinji made his purple EVA duck and weave among the buildings, narrowly avoiding the acid sprays from the pursuant Angel, until finally he reached the target area for the pit trap. Shinji had Unit-01 goad the creature into speeding up its progress; the moment it got within mere inches of the mechanoid, Unit-01 jumped at the last second. Unable to halt its progress, Baraqijal rolled right on top of the pit's camouflage, which gave way as the spherical monster fell into the hole.
Unit-01 soon got behind Baraqijal and held it in place. "Asuka, you're up!" Shinji signaled over the comms.
Immediately upon hearing that, the D-Type-clad Unit-02 bolted up from its hiding spot (though not without difficulty, considering the bulk of the D-Type equipment) and held Baraqijal in place from its side.
"Spreading AT-Field!" Asuka exclaimed. Hers and Shinji's fields soon swiftly manifested as they covered the surface of Baraqijal's membrane. The Angel alternated the shooting patterns of its precision acid sprays at its opponents in an attempt to throw them off, but Shinji and Asuka persisted, even as different spots on their EVAs' superstructures began to dissolve from the acid's touch.
"REI!" both Shinji and Asuka shouted. On hearing that, Unit-00 appeared swiftly and ran towards the struggle. Making a quick jump over a construction site, Rei's EVA just as swiftly thrust the needle of the injector gun into Baraqijal's membrane, proceeding to then squeeze the trigger to unleash the alkaline solution. Soon, all eyes watching from the bridge witnessed as the coloring of the liquid membrane of Baraqijal began to take on a different color.
In the midst of the struggle, Baraqijal was starting to catch on, and lashed out accordingly, projecting the spikes around its body in an attempt to deter the three EVAs. Unit-02 wasn't harmed much due to the Type-D suit acting as a buffer, but Units-01 and 00 had to divide their attention between holding down their ends of the Angel while blocking the spikes that tried to spear them with their respective free hands. Soon enough, the entire tank of the alkaline solution was empty, and Baraqijal, realizing one of its main 'weapons' was now useless, abandoned its membrane altogether, causing the liquid to fall from its hold into the pit.
"It worked!" Ritsuko said. "The acid's been neutralized!"
"Which means we don't have to hold back," Misato added in, a grin on her face. "Guys, let 'em have it!"
"Yes ma'am!" all three pilots replied. Unit-01 and Unit-00 began snapping off Baraqijal's spikes, while Asuka gave the command for the Type-D equipment to disengage. The suit's parts opened up and fell off of the red EVA, which then used its no longer encumbered right arm to draw the prog-knife from its pauldron. As it joined in on snapping off the spikes of the desperately-thrashing Baraqijal, Asuka found her opening and thrust her prog-knife into the center of the creature, piercing the core. She twisted the blade further and split it, causing a gush of the creature's lifeblood to erupt from the fatal wound. The struggling ceased, and the now-lifeless Baraqijal fell into a pool of what used to be its acid.
Cheers erupted on the bridge when Units-01 and 02 gave the crew a thumbs-up over their mission accomplished. Misato couldn't have been more proud of her charges.
"Looks like that onsen weekend's a go," Ritsuko noted. "But before you start making any reservations, we've still got quite a day ahead of us."
Misato, knowing the amount of paperwork her friend and colleague was referring to, made a bit of a pouting face at her. "Way to be a buzzkill, Rits."
Commander Ikari's office, hours later...
The most senior command staff, along with Kaji, had been engaged in a long discussion that was part after-action briefing and part proposal for future steps to be taken. None of them knew that there was another present in the room with them, as the Shadow was well-hidden within that which he derived his moniker from. He was listening in, waiting for just the right opportunity to manipulate events to his liking.
"Overall conclusions?" Gendo asked.
"I'm in agreement with Captain Katsuragi and the Sub-Commander, Sir," Ritsuko replied. "Each Angel so far has varied wildly in our assessment of them, and the Eighth was no different. We believe that any future Angels will be even stronger and more unpredictable, which is all the more reason for the obvious: we need additional reinforcements, and that means transferring Units-04 and 03 over here."
"Additionally," Misato began to add, "the input of pilots Vincennes and Makinami proved to be invaluable to the victory we were able to achieve today, so it's imperative we arrange for their transfer as soon as possible."
Gendo considered their words for a moment, before finally responding. "We've already earned the Americans' ire for reassigning the artificial S2 engine project to the Siberian branch. In this regard, I must reject your proposal."
Misato and Ritsuko were surprised by his reaction; Fuyutsuki and Kaji, on the other hand, weren't as much.
"But sir-" Misato began to argue.
"You remember that they campaigned heavily for the right to construct Units 04 and 03 on their soil," Gendo reminded her. "We risk souring our relations further if we make such a request of them."
[Suggested music: "There is No Shadow", Jerry Goldsmith, The Shadow OST.]
The Shadow found his opening right then and there. Catching the faintest of glimpses of his father's eyes, he immediately began to work the particular brand of hypnotism taught to him by Allard, which the previous Shadow had used to hamper the perceptions of others in order to keep his activities within the realm of rumor and speculation.
"You will accept their proposal," the Shadow commanded in a faint, yet audible whisper.
Gendo paused for a moment, making a gesture to indicate he was in deep thought, before he spoke up. "Disregard my previous statements," he said. "I have decided to accept your proposal."
Hearing this took all four by surprise, as they never expected the commander to change his mind this fast.
"You will have the transfer arranged immediately," the Shadow added.
"I will arrange for the transfer immediately," Gendo continued, as if he had decided the matter on his own.
"You will ensure the Americans agree to the transfer orders," the Shadow capped off.
"I will ensure that the Americans are offered proper incentive to see things our way," Gendo stated.
With that, the Shadow released his brief hold on his father, who was none the wiser that the decision he'd just made wasn't of his own volition.
Gendo then turned to Kaji. "As to the other matters at hand, I want you to investigate the identity of the party responsible for the sabotage of the EVA power supply buildings. Leave no stone unturned in your search; if these are the same people behind the kidnapping attempt on the First Child, I want them identified so we may take direct action against them. Is that understood?"
Kaji nodded. "I'll get started right away," the stubble-ridden inspector affirmed. "Believe it or not, I do enjoy a good mystery every now and then."
Gendo turned his focus back to the entire group. "Dismissed," he said, and with that, the four of them (or rather, five, as the Shadow covertly followed) exited the office to get on with the rest of their respective tasks for the day.
End Chapter 15.
The Shadow's powers vary in whichever medium he's in. Across all forms, he's an expert detective, highly-skilled marksman and hand-to-hand combatant, and master of disguise and stealth. In only the radio and film depictions, however, he is given the ability to make himself almost invisible to others, occasional low-level telekinesis, and, for our purposes in particular, hypnotic/telepathic abilities that allow him to 'cloud' the minds of others. It lets him alter or read a person's thoughts or perceptions, with the most famous depiction of this found in the 1994 film; an example is found during an exchange between Alec Baldwin's Lamont Cranston and Jonathan Winters's Commissioner Wainwright Barth at the Cobalt Club.