March 21, 2014: Transcript of the Last Transmissions of the Long-Smith Expedition Dr. Clark A. Smith: Can anyone hear me? Home Base (Sandy Peterson): We read you, Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith: We've reached the edge of the chasm reported by that spelunker. This thing is HUGE. Dr. Long is setting up the measuring equipment with Mr. Derleth's help. [pause] Now where has that Carter boy run off to again... Home Base (Sandy Peterson): Is he acting up again? Dr. Smith: He was so impatient on the way in here that he nearly fell to his death four times. Anyway, [pause] Strange, I just heard a noise somewhat like...Ugh! Home Base (Keith Herbert): Is something wrong? Dr. Smith: There's a veritable ocean of cave crickets sweeping across the floor as if the hordes of Hell were after them or something. Anyway, the caverns seem to be made of basalt, which makes little sense, given that Oklahoma isn't exactly noted for its volcanic activity. Going to take a sample... [banging noises] Now I... [There are faint screams in the distance] Home Base (Speaker unidentified): What the hell was THAT? Dr. Smith: Dr. Long, what's...oh, shit. Home Base (Keith Herbert): Dr. Smith? What's wrong? Are you having a cave in? Dr. Smith: [loudly] There's some sort of bridge across the chasm, and something is coming across it. Dr. Long is playing the arc light across...holy shit! How...How can that thing support its own weight? Carter, come back here, you idiot!!! [sounds of more running and screaming] Home Base (Sandy Peterson): What is it? What's going on? Dr. Smith: Spiders! Everywhere! And a...AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! [More screams, then silence except for a noise almost like raindrops splashing on stone] Home Base (Unidentified voice): Dynamite the cavern entrance. Home Base (Sandy Peterson): But that will seal them in with...whatever that was. Home Base (Unidentified Voice): Do it. I'm going to contact headquarters. -*- "So it has begun," the old man said to his younger one-time protege, who by the whims of fate was now his boss. "And the day shall come when the endless weaver shall complete his creation and cross the abyss which shielded the world from him and once more gaze upon the sun. And he shall sound the call, awakening his ancient enemy friends to come forth. The heights will sink and the deeps will rise; the veils will be parted and what is known will be occulted; the dead shall walk and the living shall die," the younger, though not young, man said, resting his chin on a gloved hand and adjusting his glasses with the other hand. "If the Hippies had understood the true meaning of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, they would have shot themselves." He laughed faintly and stood. "If you will pardon me, I must write a letter." "What should I do about the Long-Smith expedition?" "The usual coverup. And keep me informed on the transmitter. Assuming Carter did his job right." "Well, we are getting a mobile transmission, so it got attached to SOMETHING," the older man said. "Get me a speed and direction estimate then. And pray it doesn't just wander around underground for a few months, letting the batteries run out. Good day." He departed. -*- John Biles & Rod M. Present A Neon Genesis Evangelion Elseworlds Children of an Elder God Chapter 1: The Stars Are Right "How shall a man know his gods?" "By the signs of their divinity." "And what if thieves walk among the gods?" "Then, indeed, how shall a man know?" --"The Aztecs" (Dr. Who, First Season) -*- Shinji's memories of his arrival in Tokyo-3 were fixed in the first seconds of his arrival when a spider landed on his nose. It had been floating through the air, held aloft by a gentle breeze and by a tangle of webs that bore some resemblence to a parachute made by MC Escher. As he stepped off the train, the breeze blew it onto his face. Many people would have screamed or hurriedly slapped it off his face. Shinji simply blinked and stared at it. The train doors closed and it pulled out of the station. Shinji ignored it, focused on the spider. It sat on his cheek and stared at him. He stared back in a contest rigged against him, since his opponent had no eyelids. Slowly, Shinji put down his suitcase and raised his hand, brushing the spider onto his other hand, then putting it down on the ground. It scampered away, and he smiled a little smile for the first time in days. "Kind to animals?" a woman's voice asked. Shinji blinked and looked up. A woman was staring at him through mirrored sunglasses. She didn't look like someone who would work for his father; she looked more like an idol singer, dressed in casual, but sexy clothing, with a figure of the kind that Shinji was just now starting to notice. It wasn't her clothing or her body that drew his attention, but rather the strange necklace she wore. The chain was made of gold, while the pendant mixed silver and bronze, tracing out a sort of broken five pointed star with a tongue of flame in the middle made of copper. Shinji normally wasn't much for abstract art, or any kind of art for that matter, but it caught his attention and wouldn't let it go. Since it was hanging just above the top of her cleavage, the woman drew the wrong conclusions from his stare, but she just smiled. "Earth to Shinji. Come in, Shinji." He blinked and looked up. "That's a...what is that?" "My father found it in Polynesia during one of his expeditions. I like it." Shinji nodded. The pendant was oddly comforting. "You're Captain Kusanagi?"
"Captain Katsugari. Captain Misato Katsugari." She put out a hand. "Nice to meet you." Shinji stared at it for a second, then shook her hand. Not what he had expected at all. Much better, really. "So why does Father want to see me?" "Come with me, and all will be explained." She looked around. "Where's your luggage?" "This is it," he said, holding up the one suitcase. Her response was cut short by her nearly jumping out of her skin. "Aaah! Spider!" She yanked it off her shoulder and stomped on it. "Damn bugs." "You didn't have to kill it." "I hate bugs." Two more spiders drifted by. Shinji said, "I guess you must hate this town, then." "Follow me." She started to head towards the parking lot. "They're not normally so bad." The car was nice, very nice, a sports car. It was blue, a color Shinji liked, and it was probably more expensive than the house he had lived out his life in. Well, maybe not quite that expensive, but he was sure it had cost more than anything he or the housekeeper who had raised him could have ever afforded. It only had one flaw; four spiders were having a race to see who could cover the windshield with webs faster. Misato cursed and ran over, unlocking the car, opening the door, and jumping in in one fluid motion. The windshield wipers and twin water jets put an end to the spider art competition, laying waste to their work. The artists themselves scampered for cover, and two of them quickly fried when they foolishly fled into the engine. You can't expect much from a creature whose brain is the size of a grain of sand, though. Misato kept the wipers running while Shinji got into the car. "I think you're overreacting a little, Captain Katsuragi," he said as he put his suitcase in the back and buckled his seatbelt. "You've never had a spider crawl up your nose, I see." She frowned and put the car in gear, peeling out of the parking lot. "Are the spiders that common here?" Shinji asked. Maybe Father is breeding them, he thought. "No, not really. It happened in college." She shivered and the car swerved all over the road, which was rather disturbing at ninety miles an hour. Shinji wasn't brave enough to offer a critique of her driving, but he certainly thought it. All he said was, "So why am I here?" "You really don't know?" She swerved again, this time to crush a can, and ticked off a little tiny tick mark in the part of her brain that kept track of how many cans she'd crushed today. They roared down the road into Tokyo-3, a city that looked like it was all downtown and nothing else. Buildings towered around them, and many of them were increasingly covered with webs as they moved deeper into the city. The car was crunching more and more spiders every minute, and now Misato had to keep the windshield wipers going in order to see. The rear window and the side ones were starting to vanish beneath grey-white webs. "Has Father been experimenting with spiders?" She frowned. "I have no idea why we're getting all these...shit." Shinji blinked, and then he realized why she was cursing. There was a spider the size of a small dog in the road. It went flying off the road when Misato plowed into it, but it left a dent in the bumper, and Misato cursed. Then the sirens started going off all over the city. "Great! First my car, then the first attack happens while I'm driving!" She started trying to dial her cellphone with one hand, but then it simply rang. She started driving one handed, swerving wildly as she talked. "Yes, I noticed the damn spiders! I'm putting the damage to my bumper on my expense account." Pause. "This is official business, dammit! Yes, I have the Third Child." Shinji blinked. I have siblings? I thought I was the only child. Why didn't anyone ever tell me? I wonder what their names are. "He's just fine, but I hope he's not allergic to bugs. How the hell did so many of these things get into the city so quickly?" Pause. "How did so many EGGS get into the city, then?" Pause. Swerve. Shinji saw a man setting himself on fire to get dozens of spiders off of him. "Ahh, so it's finally shown up. With all its little kids, no doubt. Send the bombers to slow it down." Pause. "Ahh, they're already on the way. How soon?" Pause. "Shit." "Are we going to be bombed?" Shinji asked. It seemed like the sort of day that he would get blown up and eaten by spiders. Most days he saw his father were like that. "Not directly, no," Misato said to Shinji, then turned back to the phone. "I know this is what we've been preparing for, but I wasn't expecting to get my new car destroyed today!" She squealed the car to a halt. "Get out!" "What?" She grabbed Shinji and jumped into the ditch along one side of the road. Then the N-2 bomb went off on the horizon. -*- They had to walk the rest of the way to HQ. The N-2 blast scared most of the spiders into hiding and killed the rest with the shockwave. However, as Shinji soon found out... "The N-2 bomb seems to have stunned it. We have a few hours before it gets back up and comes after us," Dr. Ritsuko Akagi said. She was blond and somewhat attractive, with short hair, glasses, and an odd habit of wearing a blue one-piece bathing suit and a lab coat as her work uniform. It wasn't much stranger than the whole place was to Shinji, who thought the place virtually screamed 'James Bond'. He wondered if his father was now a spy. The giant humanoid head, attached to a giant humanoid body, which he was standing next to was bizarre as well. It looked like a giant badly made plastic doll of odd colors with bits of mishapen armor. The words 'Unit01' were painted on the armor on the left side of the thing's neck. It creeped Shinji out. It was wrong. He didn't want to be anywhere near it, but everyone else seemed to see it as perfectly normal. "What is going on?" Shinji's father, a man named Gendo Ikari, looked down at him. He was tall and broad with a short dark beard, neatly trimmed hair and small glasses. "I have brought you here to pilot this. The world is under attack, and only we can stop the menace. If we do not act, the world will be destroyed."
Shinji stared at his father, who hadn't changed a bit except for the beard, from his cold stare to his brief and inadequate explanations. 'Why is grass green?' 'Because it's not blue.' 'What's for dinner?' 'Food.' 'Why do Ihave to live away from you, father?' 'It's for your own good.'He didn't even get a hello. He wanted to say hello, but as he looked at Gendo, his resolve melted. Questions died unasked on his lips. He and his father stared at each other silently, hisfather grimly, while he wilted under the gaze, which seemed to tug away his will. "This is the creature." Ritusko pointed to a view screen in one wall of the chamber. It showed a creature that resembled a huge spider, hundreds of feet tall, lying on its side, its legs working the air feebly. It was surrounded by a charred cocoon of spider silk and the corpses of countless spiders. However, more were erupting up from the ground and forming from its blood, which was puddled around it. Further more, the charred marks on its exterior were fading, and ichor was no longer leaking from it. "The enemies we fight are known as Angels, and the one out there today is designated as Matriel. Our current estimate is that we have about a half hour before it fully recovers, and another half hour before it reaches the edge of Tokyo-3. How long it will take to reach us is not yet predictable." Shinji stared at the screen. The creature was even more repulsive to him than the strange simulacrum of a human they were all standing next to on a platform over the huge tube it was kept in. It wasn't possible. Anything that big should collapse under its own weight. Shinji was better educated than the average fourteen year old. His father had seen to that, if not much else. And he had worked hard, with some vague impulse of hope to please his father or at least to get noticed by him. Even anger would have been better than being ignored. "Shouldn't that thing collapse? I mean, there's no way those spindly legs can support its weight if it's that big." It wasn't just the size. Something about how the legs moved were wrong. They were too limber, too flexible, too nimble for such a creature. And its shape...real creatures rarely have angles; they have curves, nature doesn't produce straight lines, but this creature was oddly angular. "Our understanding of such matters is entirely the result of the cramped understandings derived from observing the lifeforms of a single backwater planet, and quite likely has no validity in the universe at large. Possibly it looks at us and wonders why we don't collapse in on ourselves under the weight of our atmosphere without an exo-skeleton. Whether or not it SHOULD collapse, it is not collapsing." She fell silent, apparently surprised with herself for going on for so long. Shinji frowned. "What do I have to do with this?" "One of our pilots is in Germany, and the other one was injured," Misato said. "But we believe you can pilot an EVA. You match the profile. You'll help us, won't you, Shinji?" He and EVA had a brief staring contest. EVA won. "I don't like it." Gendo frowned. "You don't have to like it." "How am I supposed to pilot this thing without any training?" "It's thought controlled," Misato said. "You just have to have the knack. Anyone could do it, but only those with the right genetics could do it well." He stared at the horrible spider thing on the viewscreen again. It was wrong, an abomination. It was impossible; there was no way it could hold itself up. Every bit of biology he knew screamed that there had been some kind of mistake here, but he couldn't deny his eyes. It revulsed him, even though the little spiders that had preceded its arrival had been sort of cute, or at least...they were right and it was not. "I'm not much of a figher." "It'll be just like using your own body," Misato said with a wheedling tone in her voice. "If your body was dozens of feet tall and superhumanly strong. Don't you want to be a hero?" Shinji thought about all the giant robot anime he had seen. It always looked easy, but he was quite sure it couldn't REALLY be that easy. It wasn't the danger stopping him so much as the fact that the EVA was nearly as creepy as the giant spider-thing. He turned and stared at his father, trying to read him, even though Shinji wasn't much good at reading people. Was this what his father had really summoned him for? Was he responsible for all this? His father's eyes riveted him in place, fixing him like a deer staring into headlights. While the rest of his face was blank, like a mask, Gendo's eyes were alive, stern and piercing, deep as an oceanic trench. Shinji could feel himself falling into his father's eyes, being dissected; his soul was laid bare. He wanted to flee that gaze, to run far away where no one could look at him and see how much this all scared him, how much the spider repulsed him, how much the EVA frightened him. I must look like a scared rabbit, Shinji thought. I wonder how he sees me. In his mind's eye, he could see himself through his father's eyes. It was a vivid vision, almost realler than life. It was a strangely calm feeling. He had been breathing heavily, but his body felt serene now as he put himself in his father's place, somehow absorbing Gendo's calm. To his surprise, he realized that his own body looked much calmer than he actually felt. Is my father hiding emotions as strong as my own?, Shinji wondered. He must be. If I don't do this, he doesn't have anyone who can take my place. He heard himself say, "I'll do it." He didn't feel himself saying it, but since he was busy fantasizing, as far as he could tell, this didn't surprise him, although he did SEE himself say it. He had been intending to say it, anyway, having changed his mind, so it didn't bother him much. With that, his vision ended and he was back to normal, seeing things from his own perspective, not from his father's. It had been surreal, but it had happened to him before, though not often. It was more common in his dreams. Especially the stranger ones that made him wake up screaming. Misato smiled. "Excellent. Let's get you suited up and ready." -*- The plugsuit wasn't bad. It looked fairly snazzy and it was remarkably comfortable for something so form- fitting. The LCL was another matter. He'd almost gone back on his decision just from looking at it. It was a black, gooey sludge that looked far too much like motor oil mixed with toxic waste. It smelled like rotten food mixed with vomit. Ignoring his protests and failing to explain very clearly why it wouldn't kill him on contact, they just keep filling up the plug unit with it. He had expected it to be ice cold, but it was comfortably warm, which was the only comfortable aspect of it. It tasted hideous, like battery acid mixed with vinegar and castor oil and sewage. Far worse was the absolute darkness into which it plunged you; it felt like all of the universe had been destroyed and only Shinji remained. Then the darkness began to swirl with patterns of light, which constantly hinted at shapes but would not quite reveal them. He felt like he was drowning in darkness, like it was oozing down his throat and into his veins. Every tiny bodily sensation felt like a harbringer of doom. Just as he felt certain he would go mad, he realized that the reason it was so dark was that his eyes were closed. At least, they felt like they were closed, although he didn't remember closing them. There had been a sort of almost tugging feeling, and suddenly, his eyes were closed. So he opened them. He was staring at the platform on which a while ago he had debated whether or not to do this. A small square hung in the air in the lower right corner of his vision; it was a video image of Misato. "Can you read me, Shinji?" "Um, I can HEAR you." Shinji said. "And I can see you. I don't...wait, am I seeing what the EVA sees?" Misato nodded. "You can call up various instrumentation by mental command, but we'll have to go over all that when we have more time. Try moving Unit01's arm." It was indeed as easy as they promised, although he couldn't move much, given the Unit was strapped to something. "I'm rea...wait, do I have any weapons?" While they were in a hurry, they did have enough time to explain that, at least. -*- "Synchronization rate is 85 % and rising," Maya said. She was one of Dr. Akagi's assistants, female with short black hair and a smiling face. While many of those to be found in NERV seemed to think that somberness was part of the Orders of the Day, she was not one of them. "The Third Child is even more of a natural at this than the Second Child was." Dr. Akagi nodded. "Bodily functions report?" Another technician said, "All body functions normal. Looks like this one won't die because his body forgot to keep functioning while he was piloting." "Good. We don't have anyone to take his place," Gendo said. "Well, we could try the..." Dr. Akagi began. "Even if they were fully functional, what would they pilot? One of our cardboard models? Unit00 is still damaged. We'll use it if we have to, but only if it's absolutely necessary. And if it comes down to that, we can use Rei," Gendo said, watching the various viewscreens intently. "Luckily, this will likely be the weakest of our opponents." -*- As Shinji moved through the streets of the city, he pondered two major questions. First of all, what sort of weirdo builds a hundred foot tall robot and only arms it with a knife? Secondly, what sort of idiot builds a giant robot that has to use an extension cord? Then again, it is only a giant spider, he thought. Scary looking, but spiders don't have a lot of offensive armnament as long as you don't run into their web, and I doubt the web's been made that can hold this thing. He rounded a corner, stomping hundreds, maybe thousands of spiders with every step. They ranged in size from normal tiny ones to ones the size of a small dog. There were webs everywhere, but he moved through them as if they didn't exist. The Angel-Spider itself was standing on a tank covered with webs, looking around. It spotted him and chittered, which was somewhat creepy, but not very communicative. I should have asked for a super economy size can of Raid, Shinji thought. "I've spotted him," he said. "Strike for the eyes, Shinji," Misato said. "Blind him." Shinji nodded and Unit01 ran forward at his mental command. Shortly afterwards, Unit01 stabbed down with the knife, missing only because the huge spider had taken off running the second Unit01 started its charge. Unit01 ran after his opponent, crushing dozens of cars as it ran, and even more spiders than before. This section of the city was coated with webs, a sea of greyish-white sticky stuff. Bits of web coated Unit01's legs and feet. He rounded three corners as the spider-beast skittered through the streets, occassionally smashing into a bank of glass windows with a stray leg and shattering them. Finally, it darted around yet another corner and Unit01 charged right after it, right into a huge web between two buildings. The web strands were huge, nearly a foot across each. Unit01 was neatly caught, just like a fly. "I've been caught!" "Generate an AT field!" Misato said. "A what?" "We believe the EVAs are capable of generating an AT field like that produced by the Angels." "So how do I do it? And what is it?" "Actually, we're not sure how to make it generate one." This was NOT what Shinji wanted to hear. -*- "Activate Unit00, and get Rei prepped to pilot it," Gendo said. "She's injured and so is her unit, but we can't afford a defeat. Not with it right here in Tokyo-3." "Perhaps we should use the..." Dr. Akagi began. "We've already seen what inexperience can do for us. I'd rather not repeat the experience." -*- Shinji felt claustraphobic. Unit01 was wrapped in webbing and its eyes were half covered, so he could barely see. Unable to act, he was becoming increasingly aware of being trapped in a metal tube full of a cold liquid that gave him the heebie-jeebies. Misato kept giving him soothing assurances that he didn't really believe. Many people would have cried or blamed themselves or even blamed others, but Shinji couldn't muster the will to do any of those. "Rei is coming in Unit00," Misato said. "Just hold out a few more minutes." Shinji laughed faintly. "I'll do my best." -*- Rei was glad to be in Unit00. It was an escape from her body, which was wracked with pain from the recent training disaster. While Unit00 was damaged like her, it felt no pain. LCL held no terrors for Rei; it was an escape from a body which usually succeeded only in getting in her way. The fluid that she knew had driven at least three potential pilots insane made her more sane, she was sure. It held something she needed. Or perhaps it was just the pleasure of piloting Unit00 which she liked. Few things gave her normal body any enjoyment, but piloting Unit00 was always enjoyable. She sprinted through Tokyo-3 at speeds of which her usual body would not have been capable. Buildings whizzed by, and a few cars crunched under her feet; it was like running through a forest and accidentally stepping on some beetles. She paused to assess the situation. Unit01 was webbed between two buildings. Her target, the spider, was wandering around aimlessly, spinning webs and smashing buildings. Millions of spiders danced around the area, imitating their...master? father? leader? Perhaps the pattern of the webs would mean something. She activated Unit00's radio. "Katsugari-san, I need an aerial view of the city." A tiny box appeared in the right corner of her sight, showing Captain Katsugari's face. "Yes. We've got planes over the area. I'll have it patched through to you." Webs which had seemed aimless from the ground took on a different visage from above. The webs formed a roughly v shaped pattern across the city, with some sort of oval sigil in the middle with a dot in its midst where Unit01 was trapped and where the giant leader of the spiders was meandering about, clearing an open space inside the oval. While the sigil remained meaningless to Rei, she felt it must be some sort of meaningful pattern. Perhaps a signal to more of these creatures, whatever they were. Half-remembered bits of biology studies surfaced in her mind, and she decided to experiment. Wrenching a power line support pole loose from the ground, she hurled it down onto the webbing, then stepped back. Sparks flew from the damaged lines and the webbing ignited. Soon, the city was ablaze with a short-lived fire; the webbing was highly flammable, but burnt away very quickly. Shinji was snapped out of his half-trance of doomed apathy by the sudden feeling that he was on fire. Instinct took over, and he stopped, dropped, and rolled. This was rather more destructive when piloting Unit01 than would normally be the case. Countless spiders burned to death, were crushed, or combined the two death methods. Unit00 drew its progressive knife and charged forward while the Spider-Angel was still ringed in flame. She hailed Unit01's pilot by radio while charging forward. "Unit 01, attack now." Her knife plunged down into one of its faceted eyes, gashing it open and spewing viridescent mauve ichor onto Unit00's hands and arms. Putting the Unit's weight into it, she plunged the knife deeper into the creature's head, trying to get to its brain. Shimmering auras of fluctuating color began to form upon Unit00's hands, arms, and knife, eating away at the Angel-Spider's flesh. In her peripheral vision, she could see Unit01 was hacking away at one of the huge spider-thing's legs, but her attention was focused on her blade. The deeper it sank into the creature, the harder it was to push it forward and the brighter it shone. Perhaps it stole its color from the huge spider-beast, which was turning grey where the shimmering light shone upon it, its flesh flaking and crumbling away. It struggled forward, trying to bite her, but she was standing to one side of the mandibles and with the knife pressing into its eye, it couldn't turn successfully to bite her, especially with Unit01 hacking off some of its legs. Nor could it turn to attack Unit01. Nor could it retreat, as its legs weren't well designed for trying to move straight backwards, and as fast as it could move, Unit00 simply pressed forwards. Far away in the subterranean monitoring chamber, a technician announced, "The Angel and Unit00 are generating strong AT fields, while Unit01 is generating a somewhat weaker one, as projected." "What about synchronization rates?" Dr. Akagi asked, looking up at one of the monitors which showed hundreds of seperate statuses, jumbled together confusingly. "Oddly, Unit01 is actually showing a higher synchronization rate, although Unit00 is climbing, but is producing a weaker AT field. It may be related to the fact that Unit00's pilot is experiencing a higher level of physical stress. Respiration and heartbeat are up, adrenalin levels have gone up, etc. Meanwhile, Unit01's pilot is only at the level of exertion of a brisk walk." Gendo's lips quirked into a very faint smile. Rei could no longer see her knife through the glow of colors, but she could feel she was pressing against...something. The exoskeleton, she guessed. "I'm encountering resistance." "It's generating an AT-field. Press harder," Misato said. "Shinji, stop playing with its legs and help Rei." "How?" "STAB IT IN THE HEAD WITH YOUR KNIFE!" Misato pulled herself together when several staff members stared at her. Unit01 stood up and stabbed its knife down into the creature's head, easily fending off its feeble and now maimed legs. Out of the corner of his eye, Shinji could see more spiders approaching, but all the ones nearby had burned up. "So how did you know the fire wouldn't burn up my EVA too, Rei?" he asked, hoping she knew more about this creature than he did. "I didn't." Rei gritted her teeth, or perhaps it was Unit00's teeth; there was no way to tell. The darkness inside the creature was struggling with her light and losing; more and more of its flesh was turning a colorless grey and flaking away; the eyes were completely gone, and the colors were swallowing up her sight. "..." She didn't know? Shinji thought. It took a lot to snap him out of apathy, but that did it. "You could have killed me!" "If I did nothing, the situation would not have improved," Rei replied. Misato cut in. "Are you generating an AT-field?" "I have no idea. My arms and knife are glowing. Am I doing that?" "Very good, Shinji," Misato said. "The Angel's AT-field is wavering, wavering...gone," the technician reported. The Angel popped like a balloon. A wave of grey rushed through its already dark body and it fell apart into huge flakes of dried flesh which began to crumble even as it tumbled to the ground. Energy played about Unit00 and Unit01 like Saint Elmo's fire. Both Rei and Shinji felt a jolt like they had just stuck a fork in an electrical socket. While they couldn't see the changes in their own units, they did see changes in each other's EVA. Shinji's changed color to silver and became perfectly smooth. The few bits of web that remained on it fell off. Meanwhile, Unit00 sprouted protuberances around its mouth that looked suspiciously like the creature's mouth mandibles. They knew its true name now, though they didn't know how they knew. Or what exactly it was. The command crew could see this as well. Gendo said to Dr. Akagi, "Has the Angel infiltrated the EVAs?" She shook her head. "No sign of Angel presences. As we projected, the EVAs have adapated to the battle they have just fought. It's too early to be sure of the exact results, but I can speculate if you like," Dr. Akagi said, smiling. "Save it for your report," Gendo said, and she frowned slightly. "Do you believe it is safe to bring them back to our base?" "As safe as the EVAs ever are, giving what happened during that test." Dr. Akagi shuddered slightly from the memory. "Good job," Misato told Shinji and Rei. "Come on back to the base." -*- "Ugh! Ack! *COUGH* Blech!" "Oh come on. It isn't that bad, is it?" Shinji, covered in the dark and noxious LCL fluid, crawled out of the plug and gave Misato a dark look. "It... is that bad?" Shinji opened his mouth to say something, then paused. A moment later he was spitting out black sludge from his mouth and into the coolant liquid below. Misato grimaced. "Ew. Okay, maybe we'd better get you to the infirmary." Gasping, looking a bit ill, Shinji croaked, "Need... water." After a brief stop at a nearby water fountain, they made their way, Shinji on wobbly legs, and Misato frowning about the nasty black sludge staining her dress. -*- Ritsuko smiled as the two entered her office. "Ah, good. I was going to ask you to come here anyway. So how's our pilot?" "Somewhat nauseated," replied Misato. "I think I'm getting better," said Shinji weakly. Ritsuko nodded. "I expected as much. Your first time in the LCL wasn't pleasant, I'm sure. Neither will the next time. But it won't be as bad, and it'll get better as time goes by. Your body gets used to it." Next time? Shinji didn't even want to think about it. "But, as standard procedure, we have to make sure you're all right. So if you'll step over here for a moment..." Ritsuko subjected Shinji to a battery of tests, put under the light of miscellaneous machinery that he didn't comprehend. Then various probes were stuck into multiple orifaces, not improving his mood at all. And it didn't help that Misato was in the room too, with an ever-so-slight smile. "Are you done yet?" asked Shinji meekly, feeling more probed than he thought humans should be. Ritsuko nodded. "I'm done. Just get some rest and the nausea should go away entirely on its own. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got another patient to attend to." -*- The two walked through the endless maze of corridors of the base, their footsteps echoing throught the empty spaces. With the nausea far less severe than it was earlier, Shinji had enough presence of mind to relfect on the day so far. He had... ... seen his father for the first time in years. ... inhaled toxic sludge. ... almost been killed while piloting a giant robot. ... and killed a giant monster. On the whole, the day was far less pleasant than that quick summary expressed. It wasn't a day he'd care to repeat. Except for the killing. There was an odd feeling that had run through him when the creature died. As it sagged to lifelessness, he'd felt a rush course through his body. Disturbingly pleasant. He wondered if the battles would always end that way. Misato derailed his train of thought easily. "Oh, I forgot to mention. You've been put in my care, Shinji." He blinked. "I won't be staying with Father?" He wasn't sure if he should be angry at his father or relieved. Her voice was a little uncomfortable. "He's often gone and very busy and can't take care of you properly. Also, I have two spare bedrooms. The other one will be occupied by the Second Child when she arrives from Germany." "The Second Child?" he asked. "Named in the order we recruited you. The First Child is Ayanami Rei. The Second Child is Asuka Langley. And the Third Child is you." As they passed a series of elevators, one of them opened. Misato winced and Shinji seemed puzzled as they saw Ritsuko wheeling a stretcher out of it. "Quick, turn around," mumbled Misato. "Misato? Is that you?" The commander smiled nervously. "Ritsuko! Hi! Just... showing Shinji around the place." "You're lost again." This was not a question, it was a statement of fact. Misato scratched the back of her head nervously. "Okay, maybe I am, a little." Ritsuko rolled her eyes. "Don't even try to make excuses. Just go down three intersections, take a left, go up the elevator to level 1, and you should be back in central." Shinji ignored the banter bouncing back and forth between the two. His attention was, much to his own surprise, rivited elsewhere. On the stretcher was a girl, probably his age. Half of her face, including one eye, was heavily wrapped in bandages. One of her arms was wrapped in bandages as well. With her eyes closed peacefully, her pale skin, seemingly smooth as marble, he thought she looked rather beautiful in a statue-esque way. He knew he was staring at her, but couldn't stop himself. There was something about her... And then she opened her eye. His eyes met hers. "Hey, Shinji." "Huh? What?" Misato smirked. "I know she's cute but we really should be going." Rei's eye shut once more, and Ritsuko wheeled her away. Shinji, seemingly in a daze, looked back and forth from the departing Rei to Misato. And then he realized what she was hinting at. "I-it's not like that!" he insisted, blushhing. "Sure it isn't," teased Misato. "Come on, this way." After a few minutes of silent walking, Shinji spoke again. "I guess she's been training a while. She fights very well." "Rei? She's been training here longer than I've been here," Misato said. "From a very early age." She looked both ways at an intersection, then turned right. "You like cup ramen, right?" "Hmm? Yeah, it's okay." "Good." She sounded relieved. "I really need to go shopping one of these days, but you won't starve." She stopped at a door and slid her ID card through the keyslot. The door opened into a room full of plastic sacks of garbage. "Uh oh, was I supposed to make a left turn or a right back there?" While Misato puzzled over directions, Shinji stared down the hall, where the squeaking of wheels marked Ritsuko and Rei's passing. Rei. He had looked into the girl's eye. It was red, a bright, vibrant red, but otherwise seemed guileless, straightforward, and void of any particular emotion. And he had felt fear. -*- Shinji hoped for his own sake that Misato's apartment wasn't normally overrun with thousands of spiders. Regardless of the normal status quo, however, it had far more than its quota of spiders today. He stared quietly about the room, shrouded in white. Misato's eyes widened. "Damnation." She began running through the room, stomping everything that moved. Shinji watched quietly, until she said, "C'mon and help!" Shinji was rather surprised to see a penguin burst out of the refrigerator as they struggled towards the cabinet. It tried to climb up Misato and failed since penguins are not noted for their climbing skills. Shinji boggled for a few seconds and the spiders tried to web his feet to the floor. "That's Pen-pen, my other roommate," Misato said.
Shinji boggled a second time, and this time his feet DID get webbed to the floor, but he easily broke free. "A penguin?" "Antarctica melted so they all migrated." Shinji simply extended his previous boggle instead of starting a new one. They eventually clawed their way into one of the cabinets and armed themselves with RAID. Misato ran wild, using up an entire can in minutes. This drove all the spiders out of the apartment. It also fumigated the apartment so thoroughly that it drove Misato and Shinji out as well. Exhaustion finally crept up on him while he was sitting in front of the apartment, waiting for it to air out. It had been the strangest day of his life to date, and he half expected to wake up in the morning and find out it was all a dream. -*- "Well, that was easy," Gendo's second-in-command said. The old man was sitting in his usual comfortable chair, wondering why Gendo had kept the uncomfortable chair for himself and let visitors have the nice one. "We nearly lost Unit01 and we could have easily lost Unit00 if 'Matriel' had succeeded in biting into it," Gendo said. "The Developed Automatic Guardian Organic Navigator hasn't been properly tested yet, nor has Diogenes found the next Child yet. Not that we have an EVA for a fourth child to pilot yet, either. Things will be much better once we have all three Children here. If it had actually broken into our headquarters, it would have been disastrous. As it is, we'll be fumigating our base for weeks." He pulled off his glasses and began to polish them. "Then why didn't you send Ayanami Rei out first?" "I did not think she would be able to function so well. While she acts as if she feels no pain, I think she would likely behave that way if something bit off her arm. And she lost control of her EVA during that last test. We couldn't afford such a lapse in battle." "But how could you be sure the boy would do any better?" Gendo smiled. "The wise magician never reveals ALL his secrets." -end part 1-