[10.03.99] » by Lisa

She wished it were raining.

If it were raining, she couldn't see out the glass that nearly surrounded her - and she couldn't see the object in front of her. If it were raining, she could call it a day and go back to the base. Her gear was not yet waterproofed.

But it wasn't raining. The sun shone in the sky like the day had just dawned, and she could see clearly all that was around her. The gear she sat in, Vierge, hummed quietly as she stalled it to stand on the rocky terrain.

Her right hand clenched into a fist - in, out - she flexed her fingers out of nervous habit. And waited. Her mind raced, and she drifted into her thoughts.

It won't hurt you. It'll only improve your performance.

"Stop it," She told herself. She was only making it worse. She didn't know why she couldn't decide - maybe it was because either decision wasn't something she'd like to choose.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the crackling of the Solaris intercom on the control panel in front of her. "Elyhaym? You still there? Elly? What are you waiting for?" Renk, one of the gear fighters under her comand, barked into the transmittor.

She tapped the reply button, and her hand lingered on the switch, but she didn't say anything. Slowly, she let her hand slide off, and an answer came almost immediately.

"Elly! What do you think you're doing? Elly? Take the 'Drive' and go!"

She stared at the control panel, then switched the Solaris intercom off. All was silent now except for the humming of the gear. A large, dark-colored enemy gear stood at the other end of the small plateau. Fei's gear. "What is he doing here?" She thought, her eyes narrowing. "He always manages to show up at the wrong time and get himself in trouble." She tapped a gloved hand on the control panel. Then, slowly, and decisively, she turned on the trans-gear two-way.

"Elly!" She barely heard Fei's voice coming through on the radio. "Are you there?"

She paused a moment, then pressed the button. "What do you want?! Hurry up and get Weltall into gear - you're just wasting time!"

There was a pause. "Elly…"

"I am a Solaris officer, and you are in the way. We were dispatched here to cut off your progress to the border. Now are you going to surrender or fight?" She was surprised to hear her voice rise dangerously, and she took a deep breath. "Please, Fei. Those are my orders."

"But, Elly - "

"I'm sorry, Fei. Get your gear moving."

"Hold on just a minute. You're not using that…that 'Drive', is it? The personality-changing drug? This isn't the Elly I know…"

"But you hardly know me at all." She thought, grimacing at Weltall across the way, although she knew that Fei couldn't see her. "So I don't have to be nice to you. Actually, you owe me one." She stopped at that. "Owe you for what? Saving his life? No, I guess we're even there…" She sighed irritably. Time was being wasted, and she didn't know what to do. She was telling him to fight, yet he didn't want to fight. Maybe…

Her eyes wandered down to a small drawer on the board, and she opened it slowly. At the bottom, near some folders and maps, sat a small glass bottle filled with grainy white pills. The 'Drive.' Her hand moved and picked up the bottle, fingering it carefully. She never wanted to use this before, but…

"Stop it." She growled angrily, to herself. "You are a top-ranking Solaris officer. You can do whatever you want now. You're in charge. You don't have to be nice to him. Take the 'Drive.'"

Her hands shook as she opened the bottle, and tilted it shakily. One of the pills fell out into her hand, and before she could think, she opened her mouth and swallowed it as best she could.

"Elly?" Fei's voice echoed over the transmittor. "Elly, stop. I don't want to fight you."

Almost immediately, she could feel the pill taking effect. Her whole body felt suddenly tingly and warm, and her head lightened. She almost felt as if she were - growing stronger, somehow. She gripped the two levers in front of her with gloved hands, and started the gear up. She couldn't think. It was almost as if…she couldn't control herself.

"ELLY!" Fei's voice was louder this time. " Stop it right now! I said I don't want to fight you! Ellly!" His voice was drowned out for a moment as Vierge's engine roared and the massive mech took a step forward.

"Elly, why'd you take that? You took the 'Drive,' didn't you?"

"That's no concern of yours!" She gasped as her voice came out - it sounded louder, more angrier somehow, yet she didn't know how to control it. "Get your gear moving!"

"Elly! You - your voice…this is not the real Elly. That personality-changing drug…it's…"

She cut off his words before he finished. "This is my true personality! There is no other!" Her hands shifted slightly on the levers and Vierge took another step. "We are the Abel, the chosen ones…you're just…just…" Her voice faltered. "A surface-dwelling -Lamb-!" She choked on the word, but then snarled and sped up.

She was in front of him now, and her hands flew swiftly over the control panel. Vierge kicked high, hitting Weltall square in the upper-frame.

"Elly! I don't want to fight you, but…"

She didn't reply, but swung Vierge around to kick backwards, and Weltall cringed under the force of the blows.

"Elly…" His voice wavered. "I warned you, I don't want to fight…"

"Too bad." She turned and pushed a lever up, accessing the Ether she had stored, then clicked a button. Ether Aerods flew out of the gear's Ether tank and flew, exploding around Fei, until she could no longer see him in the rising dust.

Fei didn't respond. Instead, Weltall charged, kicking Vierge and dealing a few smart blows to the middle frame. In the cockpit, Elly gripped the side poles so she wouldn't get injured. Her seat restraint was not helping at all.

She charged, and Vierge kicked out. In turn, the two gears fought. Elly glanced down at the controls. She still had plenty of Ether left. Plenty of fuel, too…

Suddenly, she gasped as a sharp pain ran through her head. The 'Drive' - was it wearing off so quickly? The pain shocked her again, and she held back a strangled cry. It hurt so much…her head ached, and the pain increased, creating shocking waves of hurt throughout her head. Vierge stopped, and the Solaris officer reached for her seat buckle.

Weltall paused halfway across the clearing. "Elly…are you….?"

"My head!" She gasped, reaching up with her hands to hold it. "My…my head…it hurts so bad…" A sudden, booming shock came forcefully, and she screamed. The pain was too intense…she felt as if her brain was sizzling away to nothing. Out of pure fright, Elly screamed again, and she curled up on the control seat, clutching her head.

"Elly! Get a hold of yourself! Are you okay?" She glanced up out of the top of her eyes to see Weltall coming over.

"I don't need…your help…" She gasped, still holding her head. "Was this what happened when the 'Drive' wore off?" She shrieked as the pain increased. It seemed there was nothing she could do…she hoped she wouldn't pass out.

She felt a sudden tremor as Fei's gear grabbed ahold of her Solaris mech and forced it down so that it wouldn't move. She screamed again, breathing in ragged gasps as the currents of pain still swam through her head.

Then, as almost as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. Her head still ached, but there were no shock pulses in her head. She took a deep breath, and tears started to run down her cheeks. There was a knock at the cockpit door. She stumbled out of her upturned chair and turned the lock and swung the door out. Fei stood precariously on the edge of the downed gear, still the same as when she last saw him in Aveh.

"You're okay." He sounded relieved. She stepped outside and closed the gear door behind her.

He motioned for her to come stand on the grass, and she climbed down, obeying.

"Are you…okay? You're not hurt, are you? For a moment, I thought…"

"I'm sorry." She said, but her voice sounded cold. "I'm sorry. Now I have to get back to the Solaris base." She turned on her heel but stopped as he grabbed her arm.

"Wait. You're going back there? Back there where they'll just encourage you to keep using that 'Drive' to enhance your performance? Elly, that's not the place for you. Your place is not as an officer…why don't you come with us? Me, and Bart, and Margie, and Citan, and Sigurd, and - "

She interrupted him. "Why do you think that just because I've been kind to you before means I'm coming with you?" She pushed his hand away. "You are just another surface dweller." She paused, and under her breath, added "-Lamb- -" She shook her head. "Leave me alone. I have my own duties to attend to."

"Elly - hold on, I - "

But she didn't stop. She reached Vierge and scaled the side, and her hand came into contact with the metal door. She swung it open, and stepped inside. And she didn't look back.

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