And so we let the stars fall down…
She woke to the sound of a low buzzing–her personal comm, no doubt–trust command to ensure that all holders would be reachable 24/7, regardless of whether or not they were finally getting more than 5 hours of sleep each night because well, you try sleeping comfortably when your stomach was larger than a beach ball. Next to her, a mane of white shifted slightly, though he made no move to answer it.
Damn. Well, since she was awake…might as well. Groaning, she stretched a hand out from underneath the warm covers and with bleary eyes, attempted to decipher the glowing text.
URGENT! Miss Nobunagun, your presence is required for today’s mission brief. Please report in at 0800 sharp.
“Uugh…what the hell, I thought I was excused from missions by now…something must be up…” Frowning, she set the device down and sighed, debating whether or not she even wanted to argue with command.
“Probably just want your opinion or somethin’,” a yawn, followed by a kiss. “Mornin’…you sleep all right?” He mussed her hair, before patting the large bump.
“Ehh…guess so…I swear, she kicks so much more than her brother did.” As if to prove her point, the baby kicked again, much to his delight (but not exactly hers). “Hey, you try carrying around a kid for 9 months–trust me, it can get pretty old after a while…”
“Naah…I think someone’s just grumpy this morning ’cause she has to dress up for a meeting for once,” he teased, before helping her up. “I seem to remember someone spending hours trying to catch the movement on film the first time around…?”
“Th-that was only because my parents were insisting! Now, are you going to help me or not?!” Flustered, she only managed to do the top buttons, before giving up and letting him handle the rest.
“Riight. You keep tellin’ yourself that…” Satisfied with his handiwork, he handed her the jacket and stepped out the door.
“–NO–I’m sayin’ it right now, she stays put–”
“–Jack please, listen to me–”
“–I am listenin’ you piece of shit, and th’ way I see it, the risks are much too high to even–”
The meeting hadn’t even been underway for more than five minutes, and already a fist-fight was threatening to break out between the two men–the reincarnation of one Eugene Françoise Vidocq versus an odd amalgamation of Jack the Ripper and Florence Nightingale. Whom also happened to be her husband. Warily, she cast a sideways glance at Gandhi, who could only give her a long-suffering sigh. Great, just what she needed on a Monday morning–another headache right before yet another critical mission. Jack had already been briefed days earlier, so why did they need her here again?
Oh right, because a certain William Tell and the Sixth Platoon had been unable to accomplish the previous mission on time; as it stood now, they had only just reached the primary goal, and who knew how long it would take to wrap up the secondary ones? Maternity leave or not, when the fate of the world was on the line, you didn’t pull any punches.
Still…this was not going to be like the beginning of her pregnancy, when the baby was barely a noticeable weight yet; second one or not, she tired easily and there was no way she was going to be able to be as dexterous or quick. Not to mention the risks at this stage, should something go wrong…
“Enough! Vidocq, back off, Jack, you stand down.” A cane thumped once onto the floor, and the entire room grew silent. Commander Iyo, who rarely left the command center nowadays due to her advanced age, apparently had deemed it serious enough to come down and take the lead. “Miss Nobunagun, I’ll keep it brief; while we are entirely aware of your condition–”
“–bullshit,” a muttered growl, though the Commander chose to ignore it,
“regrettably, there is no other way to achieve this mission successfully without a sniper-class holder. Not one that would minimize the casualties as we’ve planned…"
She grit her teeth; she knew the commander was right, hell the mission had been a joint operation between her and Vidocq, and of course it had to hinge on a sniper’s ability to shoot out a tiny piece of flesh in between the Invasion Object's armored plates. How were they supposed to know that Tell wouldn’t be available?
She couldn’t. She had to. After all…wasn’t this why they were still fighting? Even after all these years…she had to hope, that someday, her son (and soon, daughter) would know the world they had grown up in, before the constant fear of the EIOs–Evolutionary Invasion Objects–permeated the entire atmosphere, people living as if every day could be their last. Clearing her throat she stood up, all eyes on her now.
"I understand, Commander. As such…I think, if we can make a few minor adjustments right away, I…should be all right out there–”
“–Sio–” She silenced him with a single glare, one that said ‘I’ll talk to you later’, and he stepped back into the shadows, fingers digging into fists.
“–As I was saying; first, I’ll need to be transported to the top; there’s no way I’ll have the energy or speed to make it in time. Secondly, I’d like to add Newton to the ground squad, as an extra time buffer.”
The Commander took it all in without a single word, nodding at each request. “Done. Cyx is available, and I’ll postpone Newton’s patrol deployment until after this mission. Very well then, if we are finished here, everyone is dismissed to begin preparations right away.” The light switched on, and all the other holders filed out of the room, talking amongst themselves about the last-minute additions. As soon as the room was nearly empty, she pulled him by the collar to a quieter corner, never mind their height difference. He followed without a word, though she could tell he was upset.
The silence seemed deafening, until they both decided to start talking at once.
“I know you’re against this–”
“–obviously, the hell you think you’re doing goin’ out there like this–”
“–you think I don’t know that? But I know the plan, I made the plan, and this is the only way it’ll succeed–”
“–doesn’t mean I have to like it–”
“–you don’t have to; but please, Ja–Adam; I need you to trust me on this; even if you disagree…”
He sighed heavily, having already resigned the moment Vidocq’s mouth opened. “I know; and I hate it when you’re right.” Without even caring that someone could be watching, he swept her into a kiss, much to her surprise. “I just hate it when I can’t be around to protect you two…”
“Oh Adam…” She understood that sentiment; it was something she had to work very hard to get over, at first. “You’re just…overreacting…”
“Am not.” A complaint, almost childishly so, like when they were young.
“Well okay, maybe not, but…I’ll be fine. Really. Cyx can carry me up most of the way, and we chose the ledge specifically because it’ll be out of the way…if anything, I should be telling you to be careful. You’re leading the rush squad, after all…”
“Tch. Nothin’ I can’t handle…”
“Adam…” Her lips twisted into that pout, because he could still be so recklessly insane sometimes–
“I know I know, I’ll watch myself; don’t worry, ’specially if you’re adding Jess back into the mix…it’ll be just like old times again…”
“Don’t worry Sio-chan, I’ll be watching his back as well in case he, you know, does something stupid again.” She turned and Gandhi was there, as if asking what was taking the two of them so long. As the three turned to leave, she suddenly thought she felt a rumble from Oda Nobunaga run down her spine…
Was it a warning of what was to come…? But no…she was simply just overthinking things. It was riskier than they’d originally calculated, but it was still doable.
As long as things went according to plan.
Most women would probably balk at the idea of being stuffed into a suit of armor, and then being ferried on the back of a woman-turned-motorcycle who liked to take corners at high speeds. Then again, most women who were heading into their 6th month of pregnancy would probably never consider going into a war zone, let alone taking to the field.
But they needed a sniper; what else could she do?
‘I swear, when we get back, Tell owes me big…again…’ She thought venomously as she took a breather, her swollen belly making it difficult to maintain the strenuous pace for long. Cyx had done all she could in getting her as far as she did, but even she couldn’t navigate the dense thickets that covered the perch on this particular cliffside. To make matters worse, she could no longer sidle on her stomach as she was used to, instead have to aim as best she could on top of a hollowed-out boulder.
“Miss Nobunagun. Are you in position?” The mic crackled to life, Galileo’s squeaky voice patching through.
“Ugh…yeah, I’m as good as I’ll ever be…and tell Jack to quit griping and get into his position already, the sooner we take down this bastard, the sooner he can stop panicking himself into a–”
“–I’m not panicking, I’m just concerned–!” A harsh voice cut into the conversation, to nobody’s surprise. “By all means, you shouldn’t even be out here, when I see Tell’s face I'm gonna give it to him–”
“Adam,” she used her warning tone, the ‘don’t-start-this-again-with-me’ one that was usually reserved for when he was getting too worked up over her condition.
That, or when she was threatening to withhold sex.
“…I’m in position.”
“All right. Now, if we are done with any and and all marital issues,” a snort from Gandhi on one of the other mics, “let’s get started.” The Commander herself taking to the reigns on this operation, as there could be no mistakes allowed in one as important as this; especially with one of their key holders more than halfway through her second pregnancy. “Galileo, what’s the status of the Object?”
“Moving steadily, it should be within range in the next minute~su!”
“Good. Rush squad, get ready to move out.”
“Aye aye, Commander.”
“I have it in my sights.” 4x, then 10x, the zoom was now focused on a singular pinpoint, right between the top and bottom neck plates. As soon as the dinosaur-like creature took a single step forward…the top sliding just enough to expose that fleshy spot–
“It’s a direct hit~su! B-but, wait–!” Just as she was about to congratulate herself for a job well done, the spotter’s panicky voice cut back in. “Oh no, it’s getting back up! The shot–we must've miscalculated the forced necessary to rupture the armor in one shot!”
“Fuck!” She swore into the mic, feeling incredibly useless. Great. So much for Plan A… “Dammit, sorry Jack, you guys’ll have to take out at close range! I’ll try and do as much damage as I can from here.”
The ledge was far, but she was able to get a decent bird’s eye view of the battle below. Gandhi, taking his position as defender, and Newton supporting Jack…it would be okay, they would be able to finish the job–
“Gandhi!!” The figures below suddenly started scrambling, one of them falling to his knees while the other charged straight into the beast, only to be met with its spike-covered tail–
“Jack! Jack!” Newton rushing up behind to help him from being overrun by the dozens of smaller Objects that were now seemingly being born from the gaping hole in the beast’s side…
“–to your left flank, it’s–” She could hear his grunts of pain over the radio chatter as he swung the bladed claw, sending bits and pieces flying. Shit…they were getting overwhelmed…and long-range sniping wouldn’t be fast enough, not at this range…
‘But if I fired short-range bursts…’ In a split second she’d made up her mind.
If you are seized by fear, change–for it means you are doing something wrong. Abrupt adaptations on the battlefield were nothing she hadn’t managed before...
“–stay where you are, I’m coming–”
“NO! Th’ fuck you think you're doin’, you can’t–!”
Too late, she was huffing her way down the slope as fast as she could, baby and all. ‘Please…hang in there just a little longer!’
It was totally illogical, incredibly dangerous, and had there been anyone else with her, they probably would’ve stopped her. But as it stood, she wasn’t going to lose him…not by a long shot.
“–Adam, don’t–!” God dammit, how was it that after all these years he still insisted on charging in headfirst, despite being severely injured already; blood covering nearly every part of what remained of his armor. The only reason he was still conscious was probably out of sheer stubbornness–
Just a few more meters…and then aim…
She didn’t even see it coming; only when a searing pain announced itself along her entire left side, and when her vision filled with the grit of dirt and blood–and the baby, oh god what about the baby was she going to be–a spasm of pain in her abdomen, and she couldn’t help but cry out–