Phase 28 - The Angel of Death

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED TWILIGHT

Phase 28 - The Angel of Death

March 15th, CE 77 - Battleship Minerva, Fortress Akre, Akre District, Kurdistan

Under a cloud of dust and a clear blue sky, the world shook as the mighty Minerva came to a rest on the massive airfield of Fortress Akre. The ship's battle-scarred wings slowly folded into the hull; with a final rumble, the engines fell silent, and a great sigh of wind went curling among the towers and barracks and mobile suits of the fortress.

Standing in front of the command complex with arms crossed, the bear of a man who called himself Karda al-Imad straightened out his green and black camouflage fatigues. "They sure know how to make an entrance, don't they?"

At Karda's side, an aide adjusted the maroon beret on his head with a sigh. "I hope they don't have that big battleship on their tail," he said. "We might be able to hold up against it, but I'm not eager to find out for certain."

"Is that any way for a warrior of the peshmerga to talk?" Karda chuckled. The aide merely shrugged.

"There's a difference between fighting honorably and fighting stupidly, sir," he protested. "And with all due respect to the fine soldiers on the Minerva, they seem to bring trouble with them wherever they go. They already dragged in that Archangel-class that's been hovering outside Mosul for a while. I certainly don't want to see Akre wind up like Volgograd."

Karda's eyes flashed with determination. "God willing, no city that flies the flag of Kurdistan will wind up like Volgograd, Tekman," he said stonily. "You know that. We will all die before we see our country destroyed by the dogs of the Phantom Pain."

"Of course, and I am fully prepared to die for that cause," Tekman said, "but that doesn't mean I welcome the opportunity to do so if that opportunity can be averted. What good are we to Kurdistan if we're dead?"

Karda chuckled. "You're too pragmatic for platitudes. Whatever happened to the old days where you'd roar with approval when I talked about dying honorably for our people, and that would be that?"

Tekman shrugged again. "I would blame the scientists and their calculative, logical thinking, but they keep my ship running."

Sighing and shaking his head, Karda turned his eyes back towards the battered hull of the Minerva. "You know, they have a new pilot among their ranks. They say it's a teenage girl. What do you think of that?"

Tekman frowned behind his clipped beard. "You know I don't like mixing faith and military matters."

"Not like that," Karda said, shaking his head again, "but you saw the pictures, didn't you? A pretty young woman with the brand of aristocracy in her name, and she's the pilot of a Gundam. A Gundam, of all things! She killed Harris Meyers, you know."

Tekman only glanced grimly towards the Minerva. "Then that would put us in safe hands, wouldn't it?"

Karda stood up and donned his own beret. "I will go over and greet them. I'm of a mind to offer them escort through Anbar with the Saladin. Will it be ready?"

"By this evening, God willing," Tekman said. Karda smiled up at the Minerva.

"The Minerva is the emissary of Chiao Xu's Resistance. If we want to maintain our supply lines with the rest of the Resistance, we'll have to treat her well."

Earth Alliance Archangel-class battleship Witch's Hammer, Akre District, Kurdistan

"The Minerva has docked at Akre," the sensor officer reported from the CIC. Behind her mask, Misa smiled as she eyed the distant point on the map.

"As predicted," she said. "Randall, move the Witch's Hammer in closer."

Sanders glanced over at her in surprise. "You don't mean to launch a frontal assault, do you?"

"Of course not," Misa answered. "With only one ship, we would not be very successful. But we have mobile suits outfitted with Mirage Colloid." She glanced back at the map. "Karda al-Imad is the leader of that unit, is he not?"

"He is indeed, ma'am," Randall said from the captain's chair. "And his troops are supplied by Chiao Xu's followers."

Sanders glanced over at the map himself, looking stressed. "We only have our N Daggers and your Blitz unit," he said. "Kenta Shoyou was taken down by Oldendorf in a second-generation machine. Harris Meyers was killed in a first-generation machine. We would be well outmatched by the Minerva's fourth- and fifth-generation Gundams."

"Then we should avoid a direct confrontation, shouldn't we?" Misa responded. "Lord Djibril has sent us to gauge their strength. We will do so by attempting to assassinate Karda al-Imad. Surely that will draw them into a fight." She stood up quickly. "Such is the way of the Night Tigers. Randall, take us in."

Fortress Akre, Akre District, Kurdistan

Another base, another commander who had a hard time believing that the Minerva was commanded by two teenage girls. Meyrin did find it annoying, but it was also hard to feel much more than intimidation in the presence of the towering Karda al-Imad. Something about huge men with beards was just frightening. And since she and Abbey were standing on the tarmac in front of their silent warship, something made Meyrin feel just a little less safe.

Plucking up her courage and wondering why every Resistance leader seemed to be a giant, she offered the nonplussed Karda al-Imad a salute. "Thank you for allowing us to dock, Commandant Imad," she said, settling for clipped military formality. "We will not be here long."

"What kind of Resistance unit would we be if we did not welcome the mighty Minerva with open arms?" Karda asked, answering her salute with one of his own. "We have much to discuss, so please, do not feel hurried to leave. To the south is the jurisdiction of the Syrian Hammer, and I assure you, you'll want to be ready for him."

The Syrian Hammer. Now there was an unsettling name Ibrahim Abdulmalik was the man who made his name slashing and burning his way through the historical Levant, meeting the fearsome Israeli Separatists blow for blow in battle and slowly rolling back a panoply of terrorist groups and militias across the Levant. That was not a man Meyrin was looking forward to fight although she did have cards in her hand that few others could match.

"We don't intend on staying long regardless," Meyrin went on, "because we want to get to Carpentaria quickly. And that incident in Novorossiysk..."

Karda's eyes darkened knowingly. "General Abdulmalik will likely put up a fierce fight. I offer you escort through the Anbar desert, down to the Shatt al-Arab. We know the land well."

Meyrin paused in surprise, before offering a smile. "Thank you, Commandant. We appreciate it." She turned towards the Minerva's elegant prow. "The Syrian Hammer will have quite a challenge on his hands, won't he?"

Karda grinned behind his beard. "All hammers break at some point. Come, captain; we have much to discuss."

Leaning against the railing of the Minerva's observation deck, Shinn Asuka cast a wary glance towards the airfield below, where workers were attaching pipes to the ship and opening up the hangars to ferry in supplies. Culture informed the temperament of the inhabitants of whatever base he stopped in, and dictated the degree of adulation, but never stopped the adulation from happening.

Stella was there as well, staring blankly at the airfield. Shinn idly wondered what she thought of the girls who threw themselves at him, and then remembered Kika's point from so long ago that chances were good she had no idea what was going on, or what they wanted.

"It's hot out here..." Stella murmured.

Shinn glanced up at her. "It's gonna get hotter," he warned. "We're going into the desert. There's no water out there."

Stella turned that thought over in her mind for a moment. "Are there scary things out there?" she asked.

"Nothing that's scarier than you," Shinn answered with a smile. "We'll be okay. I'll protect you, remember?"

A slow nod; Shinn held back a sigh. By now he was used to Stella's slow side, and since she was lightning-fast when it counted namely, in battle he supposed it was just part of who she was now, whether or not it had been part of who she was meant to be.

Still, three years with only halting progress towards improving her mental faculties was frustrating, and he still had those damnable lingering doubts as to whether or not changing her was as morally bankrupt as what the Alliance had done to her.

"Hey, Shinn," she started again, turning her big violet eyes towards him. "How come you have so many friends?"

Shinn blinked in surprise, his mind going immediately to his friends that were no longer living. "What do you mean?"

"Whenever Shinn goes out, people are happy to see him," Stella continued, fumbling over her words. Shinn tried not to blush as he recounted just how happy some of those people had been to see him. "How come?"

Guess it's got nothing to do with my natural charisma, Shinn thought amusedly. "We're all pretty famous," he said instead. "I bet if you went out more often, you'd have your fair share of fans as well."

Of course, Shinn was not about to let that happen. He had enough to worry about with Emily.

Stella thought that over and slowly smiled. "Stella is glad that Shinn has so many friends."

Shinn smiled back and tried to feel the same way.

The wind curled around her and ruffled her hair as Emily ventured tenuously out of the iron walls of the Minerva, setting foot on the solid tarmac below and liking the feeling of a floor that was not moving or held up by a complicated machine whose workings baffled her. The captain was meeting with the base's commandant, and the Twilight had been tuned and retuned during the flight over Turkey in anticipation of an attack that never came. Rather than get in the way, she instead resolved to spend some time in Fortress Akre, where she might perhaps escape the baneful images of her mother and the angel of death.

A knot of men were on their knees nearby, murmuring in a language Emily had no hope of translating, and bowing reverently to the ground. She glanced up at the sky, finding them facing south, and hurried out of the way. Not everyone was praying, but at their head was an imposing man with a gnarled beard and a jagged scar over his right eye.

"Who the hell are you?!"

Emily whirled around at the voice, and her eyes went wide as she found herself staring down the barrel of a handgun. She followed the hand that held it up to an irate girl in a green and black camouflage fatigue, twisting her dusty olive-skinned features into a scowl.

"I said, who are you?" the girl repeated, removing the safety. Emily took a hesitant step back. "This is a restricted area."

"I-I'm with the Minerva," Emily answered quickly, putting her hands up defensively. "The commander said I could..."

She trailed off as the girl eyed her suspiciously for a moment, and then jammed the gun back into its holster in annoyance. 'Well, quit wandering around like that," she said tersely. "You sure don't look like a soldier."

Emily turned that phrase over in her mind for a split-second. "But I am," she started. "I'm a mobile suit pilot."

At that, the girl merely laughed and shoved past her, heading towards a nearby hangar. Emily sighed, following her trail and looking up at the daunting shape of a Dagger L in brown and tan desert camouflage, with that red, white, and green flag on its left shoulder and a yellow crescent moon and star on its right. The mechanics were working on a Jet Striker pack affixed to its back Emily guessed that that was one of the Daggers that had escorted the Minerva in.

Almost unbidden, Emily thought back to Shinn's reception in Poljarny, and decided that at least no one was groping her. And so she turned back towards the base and resolved to distract herself.

"For the last time, Viveka, they're not staring because they like it," Athrun said wearily, sweat dripping from his brow as he worked in the close confines of a fuse box behind the Infinite Justice's cockpit seat, with Viveka leaning against the center console on the hatch. "This isn't really a culture that smiles upon unnecessarily bare skin."

Viveka glanced down at her black tank-top. "Well, I'm not changing. It's hotter than the Devil's asshole here. They're just going to have to grow some thicker spiritual skin."

Athrun gave up with a sigh and pulled himself out of his Gundam's insides. "You think it's hot here, just wait 'til we go through Iraq and Kuwait," he said, wiping away the sweat. "And that's not even counting Mideast Command."

"What's so bad about them anyway?" Viveka asked, shuffling aside and leaning against the hatch jamb as Athrun emerged and yanked off his jacket. "I heard some things in Bretagne, but really."

Athrun glanced back dubiously at her. "You ever hear of the Blood Rivers of Damascus?"

Viveka thought for a moment. "Heard the name, but that's it. Sounded like some kind of bad garage band. Why?"

"In CE 75, there was a huge Resistance unit led by a local sheikh in the Levant." Athrun's eyes darkened, and Viveka wondered if this was a story with personal investment. "They tried to march on Damascus and seize the city. Mideast Command moved in under the command of Ibrahim Abdulmalik. They fought block-by-block through the entire city for three weeks, killed eighty thousand people. No journalists were allowed anywhere near Damascus during the operation, and when they were finally allowed into the city, it was ringed with huge stakes that had impaled Resistance soldiers hanging off them." Viveka's eye went wide in disbelief. "Apparently, it was a subordinate who did that, because Abdulmalik had a whole regiment of his own men hanged for war crimes afterward. But still, that's what we'll be up against when we try to cross that desert. He's not a man to be trifled with."

"Holy shit," Viveka answered simply.

Athrun heaved a sigh, looking across the hangar at the silent Twilight Gundam. Even with its Phase Shift down, it looked like the bloodlust of the battle in Novorossiysk was still coursing through it. He had no doubt that the Syrian Hammer could not match the Minerva's pilots, but that did not mean it would be easy.

"Well, he's never had to deal with us, has he?" Viveka asked, echoing Athrun's thoughts. "I bet we could kick his ass."

Athrun smiled. "Always a silver lining with you, isn't there?" he shot back, heading back inside the Justice.

Kicked back against a wall and watching in boredom, Auel could not help but yawn as he watched the local soldiers conduct drills with a column of foot soldiers. Drill was so passé.

"So what's our road trip through the Middle East looking like?" he asked tiredly, glancing over at Sting as he took a slug of water.

"Going down through Iraq and into the Persian Gulf, through the Strait of Hormuz, into the Indian Ocean, and down to Carpentaria from there," Sting answered. "Barring any unforeseen fuck-ups, of course."

"And we're just gonna waltz past the Sri Lanka base?" Auel scoffed.

"No, I'm thinking more of a salsa," Sting shot back. "Of course they'll try something, but we'll keep far south enough to make it a real stretch for them."

Auel sighed again and mopped back his hair. "This sucks," he said. "So you think we can get some kind of cool-ass refits at Carpentaria?"

Sting merely shrugged. "I asked Abes, and he said he'd see, but they didn't promise anything."

Another sigh. "Well, we have to be able to keep up with Emily, next time she does something crazy."

"I hear ya."

Auel glanced back at the marching soldiers. "So you think she's an Extended?"

Sting paused over his water. "Shinn says that he doesn't sense any of that weird distortion that he gets from us and Stella," he answered. "He said it's like the pressure he feels from Athrun." He swirled his drink around for a moment. "Maybe we should plan for a stop at Lodonia sometime, eh?"

Auel's eyes darkened painfully. "Never thought it'd be a good idea to go back there."

Earth Alliance Archangel-class battleship Witch's Hammer, Akre District, Kurdistan

"Blue Team will stand guard with our mobile suits, keeping the Mirage Colloid cloak active and maintaining radio silence," Misa said, standing before her pilots and soldiers as they assembled around a handful of battered jeeps. "Red Team will come with me. A single person has a better chance of infiltrating the security, so I will dispatch the target. Red Team will secure our escape route. Is that clear?"

"Yes ma'am!" the soldiers chorused, with crisp salutes all around. Misa turned towards her kneeling Blitz Gundam, its eyes dark.

The little angel of Project Evolution is out there as well...I'm looking forward to this.

"Colonel," Sanders said, approaching and drawing up his mask. "The Zurich reports that it is on approach and will enter Akre's suspected radar range in ninety minutes."

"Perfect." She shouldered her silenced sniper rifle. "With any luck, we will be able to kill some of the Minerva's leaders. But our real objective is to draw them into a fight and gauge their new pilot. Will you be up to that task?"

"Of course," Sanders answered, donning his helmet and saluting. Misa smiled beneath her mask.

"Good. Commence operation."

Fortress Akre

At night, Fortress Akre looked less like a fortress and more like a city with a disproportionately large airport. Bright lights illuminated the fortress's grounds, allowing workers to continue with their night shifts and keep the base's defenses alert at all hours. And more importantly, the light allowed for a bit of heat, which was not something that one would have wanted more of during the day...but at night, as the temperature fell, it became far more appealing.

From her perch atop a wayward ammunition crate bathed in the moonlight, Emily watched as the soldiers around the base changed shifts, with the bleary-eyed day shift shambling towards the barracks and the somewhat-less-bleary-eyed night shift trudging out to pick up the slack. Some of them nodded or tipped their caps, but on a whole, few seemed to notice her not that she was making an effort to be noticed.

"Move," someone said. Emily glanced aside and found that same surly-faced girl from before, this time with an assault rifle slung over her shoulder. She duly hopped off the crate, and the girl wrenched it open with the toe of her boot, before fishing out a handful of bullets and pulling the magazine off of her rifle.

"Um, what's your name...?" Emily started. The girl merely stared at her. "I'm Emily."

The girl paused for a moment, before returning her attention to the rifle. "Lance Corporal Aza al-Khaliq," she answered.

Emily searched for words, as an awkward silence took over.

"I'm a mobile suit pilot," Aza added, sliding bullets into her rifle's magazine, with the sound of metal on metal punctuating her words. "I escorted the Minerva here." She finished and snapped the magazine back into place with a hollow click, and turned to cast her cold brown eyes on the Twilight's pilot.

"Well, I'm a pilot too " Emily started, only to stop as Aza laughed again.

"There's no way you can be a mobile suit pilot," she said with a smirk. "Look at you. You can't even stand up for yourself in a conversation." She shook her head. "They kept saying the Minerva had a new pilot who had already killed Alliance aces, but you must not be it."

Emily wondered momentarily about telling Aza that she was the Twilight's pilot, and then decided not to bother.

"You'd better grow a spine," Aza chuckled, pushing past her again, "or you'll die."

Emily glanced after the iron-willed girl as she headed off with an assault rifle over her shoulder and ice in her eyes.

Standing before a sprawling paper map of Iraq laid out on a table in what seemed to be a discarded office turned conference room, Karda crossed his two titanic arms over his chest, with a blinking red line pointing down from Fortress Akre through the unforgiving desert of Anbar, before curling down to the Shatt al-Arab at the mouth of the Euphrates river. Meyrin and Abbey studied it for a moment, before looking back up at Karda.

"So you suggest we don't stop anywhere," Meyrin concluded. Karda shook his head.

"The western cities are rather violent, and if you spent too much time there, you would become yet another foreign military that got bogged down trying to fix the problems there. We'll swing west of Ramadi and Nasiriyah and put you down through Basra to get to the Shatt al-Arab."

"'We?'" Abbey asked, arching an eyebrow. "You're coming too?"

"We will escort you to the sea in our flagship, the Saladin," Karda elaborated.

"You'll have to fight Abdulmalik, then," Meyrin warned. Karda merely shrugged.

"We are the only ones he cannot kill. And with the Minerva on our side, how can we lose?" His thin smile disappeared. "Furthermore, to the south there is a militia that may pose you problems. The Husam al-Din has done battle with our troops as much as they fight the Alliance, and those brutes will probably take a swipe at you. We will "

Karda said no more, as Abbey lunged at him and tackled him to the ground an instant later, the glass of a nearby window shattered as a bullet went streaking through, embedding itself in the wall. Meyrin snapped her gun out of her coat, firing three rounds through the broken window. A flash of movement out the adjacent window caught her attention she leapt through feet-first, shattering the window and landing with a crunch of crushed glass, taking off after a fleeing human figure. She pulled her headset up to her ear as shouts went up and she heard the door in Karda's conference room get kicked in, with voices shouting in Kurdish.

"Minerva, this is Meyrin," she said breathlessly, pursuing the attacker into the shadows. "Someone just tried to assassinate Karda. Issue Condition Red."

"An alert is going out already," Roxy answered. "But we've got problems. There's a Siegfried-class on an attack bearing, and that Archangel is on the move too."

Meyrin clenched her teeth, rounding a corner and throwing herself to the ground as a pair of bullets slammed into the wall above her. She squeezed off a pair of return shots, but the attacker was already running, and Meyrin leapt to her feet to follow.

"Get Abbey back there to take over in my absence," Meyrin ordered. "I'm chasing the attacker. Prepare to get the ship airborne!"

She ducked again as more gunshots split the air, and looked up in surprise only to widen her eyes in disbelief as something went spiraling out of the air, and only instinct saved her from a jet black throwing knife that nearly speared her head.

"What is this...?" she started, as she snapped her gun back up and fired. She heard feet hit the ground below, and took off again.

Battleship Minerva

"What the hell is going on?!" Vino shouted as he raced down the gantry as the Legend Gundam came to life. Emily leapt up onto the catwalk, looking around frantically, even as the Chaos Gundam took off with a flash out the portside catapult. "I heard someone tried to kill the commander!"

"Is that what's going on...?" Emily started. "Vino, is the Twilight ready?"

"Yeah, just don't try to break it like you did last time," Vino answered, heading down the gantry towards the Savior. Emily shook her head and shoved aside the memories of "last time," racing into the cockpit of her war machine and slamming the hatch shut behind her.

Activating the Twilight was like instinct now, and within moments, the cockpit screens lit up with the view of the world through the Twilight's eyes. Emily guided her Gundam out to the starboard catapult.

"Roxy," Emily said as her face appeared on the auxiliary screen, "what's going on?"

"There's a Siegfried and an Archangel approaching, and apparently someone just tried to kill Karda," Roxy answered. "The Siegfried is launching mobile suits. Abbey is on her way back here. Get out there and kick some ass."

Emily snapped her restraints shut. "Right. Twilight, launching!"

Shit, I had him right there! Misa thought furiously as she raced through the back alleys of Fortress Akre. Am I being chased by a Coordinator?!

Misa whirled around, drawing the two daggers worked into her ponytail, and hurling them down with expert precision towards her pursuer. Behind her, Meyrin yelped in surprise as the daggers streaked by her, grazing her cheek and sending a flame of pain shooting up from her face. She winced, clutching the wound and firing back, but the slender black assailant landed in front of her on one foot and kicked her gun aside, before raising a sword in her right hand

The sword went wide as a gunshot rang out and a bullet struck the blade, knocking it off course and sending it slicing over Meyrin's head instead of through her neck. Meyrin seized her chance and lunged forward, planting a solid right hook onto her foe's face and sending the black-clad figure staggering back. The attacker leapt away just as more gunshots rang out, and Meyrin glanced up as Shinn Asuka sprinted into view, offering his hand to help Meyrin up.

"A ninja!" cried Shinn breathlessly. "Who in the hell sends ninjas to kill people?! Christ, are you alright?"

Meyrin rubbed her cheek testily, glaring down at the blood. "She was either an Extended or a Coordinator," she answered. "She's gone now, but the whole base is on alert. She can't get far, can she?"

"I'm going for the Destiny," Shinn said. "Let's get back to the ship."

The Twilight Gundam landed with a crash on the airfield, even as tracer rounds and missiles lit up the night sky and the massive shining arms of searchlights reached into the heavens. Emily scanned the sky for attackers instead, instinct flared up and the white bolt told her to whirl around. Just as she did, something came crashing down against her beam shield.

Standing before her, with a massive curved katana slammed against her shield, a green and black N Dagger N was ready for battle. Inside, Aaron Sanders narrowed his eyes at the black Gundam before him.

"Is this the little girl the Alliance fears so much...?" he muttered, lunging forward and shoving the Twilight back. Emily ground her teeth as her foe raised its sword for another blow

"Not like that...!" she snapped, lunging forward and delivering a dizzying spinning kick to the Dagger's face, sending it staggering back. She landed with a crash and snapped her rifle up for a killing blow, only to see it blocked by the Dagger's shield as it backpedaled, sword in hand.

"Emily, there are three more of those N Daggers," Roxy's voice cut in. "Can you handle them?"

The Twilight rattled as Emily exchanged her rifle for her saber and blocked the Dagger's furious sword stroke. "Um, no," she answered.

"I'll handle them," Athrun put in. "Viveka, let's go!"

The Dagger fired its Hakenfaust lock anchor straight into the Twilight's face, clamping onto its free left arm and yanking it aside. Emily screamed as her Gundam went reeling, and Sanders planted his mobile suit's feet into the ground as he brought the Hakenfaust around, swinging it towards a building

"You can try!" Emily shouted with a roar, she fired the Twilight's engines and rocketed up into the sky. Sanders' eyes widened in disbelief as she used the Hakenfaust to yank the N Dagger into the sky, and with a mind-numbing crash, kicked the Dagger in the stomach and smashed it back into the ground.

"Well done, little girl...!" Sanders roared, as his Dagger leapt back to its feet and swung its sword up to block the Twilight's killing saber stroke. "But !"

The Dagger reached for its second katana, but the sensors inside the Dagger wailed, and Sanders leapt backwards to dodge a wave of beam fire. Both combatants snapped their attention to the side, just in time for the N Dagger to deflect another salvo.

Emily blinked in surprise as the desert camouflaged Dagger L with the flag on its left shoulder and the golden crescent moon on its right twirled two beam carbines on its fingers with a dramatic flourish and fired again at the surprised N Dagger.

"Aza?!" Emily started an instant later she jumped aside to dodge the N Dagger's beam rifle blast, and whirled around to face her foe.

"Impressive, but your Dagger L is no match for a Ninja Dagger!" Sanders cried, somersaulting off his mobile suit's left hand and spiraling gracefully through the air. He landed with a crash and slammed his sword down against the Dagger L's shield, and his desert-painted foe buckled and fell to one knee under the force of the blow. Sanders kicked the Dagger's left-hand carbine away victoriously, knocking its shield wide, and raised his sword for a killing blow

"Forgetting something?!"

Sanders snapped his attention to the side in disbelief as the Twilight delivered a punishing roundhouse kick to his machine's head from behind. As he struggled to recollect his wits and his mobile suit teetered, he looked up, just in time for the Twilight to send him crashing back to the ground with another devastating kick.

Emily turned towards the Dagger L, helping it back to its feet and opening a channel. "Aza! Are you " She paused in surprise as Aza looked at her in shock. "What is it...?"

"Y-You..." Aza started. "You're the Twilight's pilot?!"

Emily glanced urgently towards the N Dagger as it began to rise. "Yeah," she said. "But why?"

Aza was silent for a moment, her eyes wide. "'re her..."

"I'm who?" Emily asked.

"...the Angel of Death..."

Emily blinked in surprise.

To be continued...