The sword cuts into the blade of the Lance, sparks grinding out onto the martian sands but neither weapon- artifice or eternal- breaking. Unit-00 grinds its heels, palm against the shaft of the Lance ad pressing it further and further against the prothean's sword.
The sword twists and drives the blade of the Lance into the ground- erupting red light surrounding it and glassing the sand. Flicking its wrist, the Prothean leaps back, the sword dissipating into white. A ring forms around its wrist, a flowing series of images flicking into existence. A flash of white, a second flash, and the sword is replaced by two shorter, curved blades.
Giving them a testing swing, the Prothean levels one sword at Unit-00, flipping the second sword in its other hand into an underhanded grip. Twitching the blade at the white and gold Evangelion, the Prothean bends its knees, grinding its heel.
"Playful," Rei intones. And Unit-00 pulls the head of the lance from the ground and leaps, spinning through the air and catching both blades on the Lance.
A brief flicker of light in the distance catches her eye. Rei pushes, Unit-00 slamming its heel into the gut of the Prothean, and both fly back just before the beam of cerulean light cuts through the air where Unit-00 was.
Sniper, the voice in the back of her soul growls.
"I know," Rei responds, "Asuka said there's no entry plugs. But they're using AT Fields. Tell me how."
A faint murmur. Growling, followed by pouting. Unit-00 twirls the lance in one hand and circles, the two Evangelions sizing each other up, examining each other, even as the ground shakes to announce that yes, Unit-05 has entered the fray and called dibs on the camper.
Okay. Hacked them. They're reflecting their AT Fields off of each other, the voice like her own answers, Also, been denied critical information. What does 'The Crucible is Waking' mean?
Somewhere between Unit-05 landing foot first on one of the protheans and the giant Geth robot charging the ones that attacked Unit-01, the ground began to crack. And shake. And lift.
Inside the entry plug, Shinji grips the butterfly controls. LCL churns. He can hear his mother go utterly, absolutely silent.
"Vessae," he says, "How bad is this?"
Vessae nods her head. The seat shakes, the entry plug shakes, the Evangelion shakes and she gives off a faint squeak. "What's the term...apocalyptic?"
It rises. The ground that was above it orbits it in a spiral of sand, mud, and glass. First as a shadow, its forms obscured by darkness, by lack of definition, from the countless years it has spent slumbering. Its form towers, a mountain rising through the air. Two arms extend outwards. Four more join it, sprouting from its back.
An eyeless face rises, sloped back, only the faintest hints of what was once the features of a man upon the black and gold mask it wears.
It rises; gravity holds no sway over it. Around it the remains of its eon-old tomb rise through the air, hieroglyphics of its life scoured by the storm it has summoned.
It looks up to the floating form of Unit-01. Recognition, brief and fleeting in its soul, and in the entry plug of the purple Evangelion, Vessae feels her heart catch in her chest.
"The Crucible has awoken," she whispers, "This world will now end."
The Geth juggernaut acts first. Blazing through the air, fists forward, the metal giant charges the floating form of the Crucible. Single eye focused on the threat, it brings to bear all its weaponry. Dozens, hundreds of cannons. Missile arrays, tesla coils, weaponized mass effect generators.
The Crucible turns it head towards the Geth, and plastics, metal, and eezo turn to brittle glass, shattering upon the Crucible's chest.
Far below, the prothean Evangelions stop. Looking up, they flicker patterns of light across their hulls. The white Eva turns and nods to Unit-00, before stamping its foot against the ground and sending it flying upwards towards the woken god.
Lines of white trace into great circles, forming into a sphere around the Crucible. It turns opaque, then turns to clouded crystal. And then it shatters, blasting away cloud and sky and sending the prothean Evangelions crashing to the ground.
Extending one arm skyward, a rotating ring of weapons tears into existence. It swivels around the wrist of the giant. First swords, then spears, then more and more arcane, ancient weapons. Until finally settling on a lance as tall as the giant, ending in spinning prongs and with a cerulean light glowing at its heart.
In the entry plug, Shinji stares at it. He turns to Vessae.
"Gravitational Drive Impeller," she states.
Two screens pop up on either side of Shinji, Asuka and Lia showing identical looks of confusion.
"It's a what?"
Shinji turns back to them. "It's a Mass Effect powered planet cracker," he confirms.
Confusion turns to horror. "It's a WHAT?!"
Waving his hand, Shinji closes both windows. "Okay," he says. Reaching under the seat, he pulls a lever, presses a button. A holographic number pad appears in front of him, and Shinji taps in a combination he never wanted to use. "So, the bad news is, the Protheans may have had people with similar ideas to yours. The good news is, I don't think any of them were as crazy."
Beneath the entry plug, something hums. Something churns. "Giving control over to you, Mom. Time to make physics cry."
And outside the Eva, gravity stops being an issue. Light, mass, relativity all become suggestions. And Unit-01 spreads its arms out, before eight wings of white fire erupt from its silhouetted form.
There is light. Light without heat, radiating from the floating form. Within which there is a many who are one- not many souls, but many facets of the same supersoul, grown so large, grown so complex, that it has snaked into ever crevice like ice through cement, like the web of a persistent, drugged spider.
At the center, there is she who was once Human. But has become more.
An eternal testament. An eternity in herself.
And she has been given freedom. And in her measured, sane manner, Yui Ikari announces her released presence to the universe, and lets it shudder in arcane horror at what has been unleashed.
Upon this base earth grew a tree
A tree of knowledge, grown tall and free
Upon its branches in radiant white
Grew I, and I, as is mine right
Did my lilim-sprouted divine might
Spread its wings and my soul take flight
It starts as a spark of white upon the shadows of the sky. Spreading out, expanding and unfurling. White flame streaks upwards into a newly created void and three eyes focus on the Crucible.
Then it acts. Yui Ikari sings the song of ascending godhood upon the world before slamming into the Crucible like a murder train without end.
In the space between tick and tock, between then and now, between the first wave of the impact and an event which can rightfully be called an Impact, manicured fingers tap on a glossy table. "So let me get this straight," Kyoko Sohryu says, "You've become a god. Possibly a capitalized god. And the amount of power you can wield when given leave lets you become such an immense being that time hiccups around you."
Yui Ikari smiles brightly, crossing her legs. Then waggles her eyebrows at Kyoko and uncrosses her legs. "Yep!" she chirps.
Kyoko gives her a flat stare. "Of course you'd do that. You'd find a way to break the universe at will. As you are an insane megalomaniac."
Yui scoffs imperiously, stroking the oni shaped head of the armrest of her immense golden throne. "I am not a megalomaniac," she protests, and idly adjusts the color of her labcoat that is formed from and colored with the blood of her enemies.
The first pulse hits the Death Star and the orbiting migrant fleet. Standing in the CiC, Lia grabs one of the straps on the railing and reaches out, grabbing Amira's wrist. Around them, the holographic screens flicker and the map of Mars goes dark. And then everyone starts rising up, holding onto their chairs and holding onto whatever is bolted down.
"Did Unit-01 just cancel out gravity?!" Amira yells.
Lia rolls her eyes. "Yes! Doctor Ikari has a tendency of going overboard!"
As the newest crew member- and having not seen Doctor Ikari at her finest- Amira continues with the obvious questions. Folders, cups, loose PDAs rise up. Outside the windows, Mars flashes bright and white.
"How is Unit-01 doing this?!"
"AT Fields, that's how."
Light blinds them all. The entire CiC bleaches, and Lia averts her eyes from the window even as she silently swears about her bosh'tet and him biting off more than he can chew.
"WHY IS UNIT-01 DOING THIS?"
"AT-Fields, that's why!"
Eight wings of fire and eight wings of light become two great torrents of force, two newborn universes that warp all things beneath and above them. Time becomes meaningless- the giants running from the conflagration do so in slow motion and then stop motion.
The two voids in reality open up- to consume the Crucible and to consume the Evangelion. To consume them and all around them.
Reality buckles and strains. If the world had a voice, the voice would beg them to stop.
And then there is a flash of red. A streak of fire across the martian sky, and a single bladed lance drives into the Crucible's heart before carrying it down to the sand and pinning it. The giant ragdolls and the limbs go limp. Unit-01 lowers, the wings folding back into its shoulders, and the entry plug opens to allow Vessae to climb upon its helm.
The eyeless face of the Crucible looks upon the Evangelion. And then, it goes silent.
Above them, buoyed by its halo, a black Evangelion descends towards them. Its golden lines glow like the sun, and the red visor centers on Unit-01.
"Shinji Ikari." There is a lightness, a faint bit of humor to the voice. "I have waited a long time to meet you. I am-"
Sadly, the first meeting of Kaworu Nagisa and Shinji Ikari is interrupted when Unit-02 vaults over the horizon and plants its foot in the Mark-06's jaw.
"Vessae." Arm extended, Unit-01 holds its hand in front of the impaled Crucible's face. In its palm, Vessae sits. The prothean girl turns to the demonic mask and Shinji's voice. "Talk to me. Do you know the soul inside the Crucible?"
The girl nods. She wipes her eyes on the sleeve of her black plugsuit, ignoring the cold, the wind, or the lack of breathable atmosphere. Somehow. "Yes. It is my father."
A creaking of metal and plastic, and the Evangelion turns from the Crucible. It turns, armor still faintly red, weapon and other systems still cooling down, and turns to the others. In particular, to Unit-00, which has its feet squarely on the back of the Mark-06's knees; Unit-05, which has one foot on the black eva's head and two feet on its wrists, and Unit-02, which has straddled the evangelion and is prying the back of its neck off with a progressive knife.
"So," Shinji says, "What's this?"
"Seventeenth Angel," Rei responds, "Princess killed him. He got her to-"
"One more word and I swear, Rei-"
The purple Eva shakes its head. Idly, Shinji muses that in five years the two girls have become good partners. But, then again, they've known each other for...what? Ten times as long as he knew them. The Eva turns, from the three Evangelion dogpiling on the Angel to the six Prothean Evangelions standing around the Crucible. And he can't help but notice how...different...they all look.
There is a tall, thin one with a red hue- the one he saw transform and was ridden by the gold edged one. Rather than having demonic masks, one has a face like a funeral mask. Several are faceless. One has a single, glowing eye.
All of them stand more upright, more human, than he did. At least, than he used to have Unit-01. Nowadays, with the armor and, well, his sense of purpose he'd actually say that his Eva isn't the same slouched over monster that it was.
"So," Shinji says, "What about them? What do we do about them?"
"They did not know we were here as allies," Vessae responds, "They have apologized. Five of them will guard the Crucible. One requests to come with us."
The white Evangelion, the faceless one with the swords, takes a step forward. Falling to one knee, it bows its gilded head. "The soul within is that of my father's second in command. The Evangelion is one of the oldest, one of the first created by my people."
"Okay. Do we call it something other than 'The guy who attacked Rei?'"
The four eyed girl nods. "Its name, translated, is Policy Sword of Rulers." She tilts her head and gives off a small smile. "I was thinking Kusanagi."
The dreadnought's engines flare white, carrying it from the red planet below. The fleet flanking it turns like a flock of migrating birds, flowing with it into the ether.
Well lit hallways lead to the higher ceilings, gradually growing around them until they lead into the Evangelion bays. A structural decision, it was explained. Sudden increases or decreases in height would be bad for both the integrity and the sanity of the crew.
"I am still not convinced the new passengers are the best idea," Tevos states, pulling at the collar of her dress, "We're quite sure that the other pilots aren't as compliant as Shinji is."
Next to her, the turian shrugs. "It's a calculated risk, ambassador." Aurius Vitoran, Council Spectre, twitchies his mandibles. "The Council needs more Evangelions, and there's only so much rope they'll hand Doctor Ikari."
"On the other hand, the specialists from NERV seem to be more sane than Doctor Ikari." Tevos stares at the turian. "I am fully aware of how low a hurdle that is to clear, but they do seem more trustworthy and less of an insane megalomaniac."
Tevos blinks. They pass green wire mesh, and a metal plate with a hand print big enough to fit a shuttle in. "I'm not sure how much of a megalomaniac Ikari is. She seems to have a very good grasp on what she's capable of doing, but I digress."
The mesh gives way to transparent walls of the other Evangelion bays. Rather than standing, the Evangelions hang suspended from the ceilings- bolts in place over their armor, arms and legs stretched out to give easier access to maintenance crews that have to work on their joints. They came to the Sol system with one, and are leaving with five.
The two pause, staring at the four legged Evangelion. Bolts hold one arm easily enough. Around the rotary drill, clamps are set into place, and a patchwork of catwalks, bolts, and wires restrain its many legs.
"So that's what a Rachni angel would look like."
If looks could kill, Tevos would owe the Council a new Spectre.
Acceleration times mass is the civilization killer. Make something too big, and you can't launch it off of a planet. Make it too small, and it's easy to launch, but at the same time too small for the long term survival of a civilization. Most spacefaring civilizations get around this one of two ways- either they build larger structures in space, piece by space-launched piece, or they get around the hard limit using Mass Effect technology.
The most successful civilizations do both.
Hence, there is a plentiful amount of liquid water aboard the Death Star, and that is replenished by mining passing comets and other such detritus.
Double hence, Shinji Ikari can take a hot shower after sortie'ing inside Unit-01. Steam rises and flows into the vents- the condensers built into the pipes collect the liquid water and return them to the tanks, meaning very little is actually lost. A closed system, which means that the ship can go months without having to go into port. Meaning they can attend to many crises.
A sigh and he exits, head swimming and thoughts locked onto the past- his past on Earth and his past...everywhere else. Towel exchanged for the bottom of his encounter suit, he runs a hand through still damp hair and wipes the mirror of the washroom with one hand and makes a mental count of the marks.
He counts three jagged red marks on his right side, around the ribs. One red circle on his left shoulder. Knows the exit is on the other side, a little lower. Runs his hand on his abdomen- two lines, running down. Traces his finger on his right collarbone and follows the line which goes to the shoulder.
"Well, no new ones," he says, and grabs the top of the suit, donning the blue and black and pressing the seals together along his sides, fitting his head through the collar. Strangest part of Earth wasn't seeing the people he hasn't seen for years, but wearing clothes with slack.
All the more realization that he doesn't fit in back there. Less that he doesn't fit in at home, more that he doesn't fit in on Earth.
A chime and he looks up, walking out of the washroom, fitting on the hip coat of his encounter suit and idly glancing around for the helmet. They're probably jumping to the Citadel next.
Walking across his quarters, he taps the release and finds Lia waiting, leaning on the doorframe. "Wondering when you'd get here," she says, idly tapping her fingers together, "So Doctor Solus confirmed we have the Prothean Eva on board- the Mark 06 is heading back to Earth but we have the pilot onboard."
Shinji nods, rubbing the back of his neck. "Okay. I guess we can ask Asuka about him later." He sighs, shoulders slumping. "Sorry, still a bit tired. I don't think we expected things like...that...to happen."
She nods, easing into the quarters, turning him around and walking him towards the couch that serves as his bed. "So," he continues, "Hope that...ah...you haven't gotten into any arguments with Asuka or anything."
There is a hiss of steam. When Lia next speaks, she does so without the digital aftertone of the encounter suit helmet. "Let's just say we're kindred spirits."
Shinji works his jaw, mouths the words, and turns to Lia just before she grabs him by the collar and mashes her lips against his.
To the humans, he appears as a young man with ash hair and gold rimmed red eyes. To the quarians, he appears to be a young man with pale lavender skin and corded white hair. To the asari, he appears a silver-skinned Maiden. To the turians, a youth with chalk skin and the markings of every colony upon his face. To the krogans, a youth barely past the Rite, with no scars upon him and eyes so blue they appear sapphires.
His arms and legs are restrained, flattened against a metal bed bolted into the wall. The metal brace covers the mouth of every version, a hovering screen over his face- transparent enough to see through, but opaque enough for the sensors to run over his eyes and nose.
"So." Red clad fist knocks on the glass. Kaworu Nagisa glances to the window and smiles. "You are completely restrained. The moment you try any Angelic bullshit, you will be dumped through the airlock underneath you."
He glances down at the double doors under his feet.
"Also, the sensors are going to read your retinal activity and breathing, and translate it into words. So you don't get to talk. Are we clear?"
Behind the glass, Asuka folds her arms and unconsciously cocks her hips, still in her encounter suit. "Anything to say, first?"
"It is good to see you again, Miss Sohryu," the digitized voice of the Angel of Free Will states, "You seem much happier since Pilot Ikari returned."
Asuka's hand darts out towards the large red button to her right, but stops- caught by Rei, who shakes her head.
Asuka flares her nostrils, narrows her eyes at the restrained Angel who strung along her and Misato, and at the unrestrained Angel she calls her sister in everything but blood. Pulling her hand back, the pilot of Unit-02 chews her lip.
"So were we just the first humans on Mars?" she asks.
"You were," Rei responds, and narrows red eyes, "Definition of human for me is...bouncy...when we refer to accomplishments."
Asuka shrugs. "Pretty sure 'taking the virginity of Kensuke Aida' isn't something I'd want to chalk up to the Humanity Fuck Yeah column, but you're dorky enough to count as homo sapien."
Rei shrugs, looping an arm underneath and extending a fist. Asuka nods, and the two pilots briefly sis-fist. Followed by the ship lurching and Shinji's voice booming over the loudspeakers.
"Blue Pattern detected," the voice announces, "An Angelic signature has been detected on the Turian colony of Vigilance! Maintenance crew to Unit-01 bay!"
Thick plates grind along the ceiling overhead, blocking off the bay to the rest of the ship. Lines of blue run up the gaps- kinetic barriers protecting the rest of the ship from the sheer boom that Unit-01 can bring to bear. Transparent probes float from structural point to point, welding bolts in place. Shuttles ferry material from one end of Unit-01 to the other, the steady hum of blue engines marking their passing.
The shuttles manage to drown out the arguing, but only just. "-out of your fucking mind if you think we're sitting this out!"
Helmet under his arm and already in his plug-cum-encounter suit, Shinji tries to rationalize that the redhead isn't the same Asuka who was a mass of violence and mother issues. Succeeds, if only by a bit. "Vigilance is a point-seven gravity world. You were having enough trouble controlling the Eva on Mars, and we never planned that as a combat operation."
Asuka shrugs. She looks to Rei, who nods. Mari digs a deeper hole. "This is the part where he should remind you he has killed roughly as many Angels as all of us combined," she states. Shinji coughs and says nothing, turning from his sister and his he-is-not-sure-of to the fuel relays which are now absolutely fascinating.
"Hey!" Asuka whaps him on the shoulder. "My AT-Field says 'Fuck you I have Earth-normal gravity!' How did you not figure this out?"
Shinji balls his hand and coughs. Summoned by the visible discomfort of her son, Yui's sphere avatar appears between them. "Oh, he knows that quite well. He's just worried about either you being harmed or about not being able to strut about as the all-conquering hero. Either of which prevent you wresting his virginity from him like a Varren with a pretzel!"
Asuka stare at the sphere for a long moment. Rei shifts to the side and Shinji backs away. "I have no idea what that's a euphemism for."
"I made it up on the spot," Yui chirps, "But I'm pretty sure it involves you holding him down."
"Mom." The sphere turns to Shinji. "Stop helping." The sphere flickers and vanishes, and Shinji continues walking down the catwalk, parallel to the Evangelion, towards the Entry Plug.
The turian stands at the airdock of the quarian frigate, rubbing the back of his neck and twitching two silver gray mandibles. Adjusting the collar of the black uniform, he looks at the newest arrivals- he was expecting them from the Migrant Fleet. Not from the backwards planet which the superweapon came from.
"I'm reasonably sure it violates quarantine."
Misato Katsuragi flares her nostrils, cocks her chin, and stares down the turian. "I'm reasonably sure I was asked by Urdnot Wrex to come aboard as tactical advisor, and he approved of my traveling companion."
Her companion mirrors the motion, and adds to it an imperious "Wark."
Chitters and clicking come from down the corridor. Misato and Pen Pen glance past the turian and down the metal hallway to watch Ayanami stumble past, several diminutive figures holding onto its arms, all in pastel and bright encounter suits and laughing.
"Immature Creators! We ask that you be careful!" The Geth walks past, slow and careful, joints locked to allow the quarian children to hang from its arms. "We insist that you relocate to liveships in event of combat deployment!"
The three watch the Geth and its giggling cargo disappear down the hallway.
"Pretty sure that violates regulations to," the turian states.
Misato shrugs. "I dunno. I might be cynical, but I was looking at that and thinking 'potential pilots.'" She turns to the turian. "Okay, so. Let's go."
He flicks his mandibles and sighs, reaching behind him and unfolding a long, angular rifle. "Right. Come with me. You're sure you don't want to see the pilots, first?"
She walks alongside the turian, shaking her head. Thrusting her hands into the pockets of her bomber jacket, she glances side to side. Taking in views of space, more space, and stars. "They're grown ups. They can take care of themselves."
The penguin waddles alongside her, giving approving warks and kwehs to the scenery. A pink jellyfish person floats by and briefly gets Pen Pen's attention, and then he waddles faster to keep up with the food giver. "So you're sure you want to see the prisoner?" the turian asks.
Misato nods, following him into an open lift. Coughing, she extends her hand. "Misato Katsuragi. NERV Subcommander."
He nods, mandibles twitching, catbird face otherwise unreadable. And he takes her hand. "Pavius Vakarian. Citadel Security."
The doors close and the lift speeds down. A red line runs up the cabin and an affirmative beep opens the door in front of a double door sporting two armored and armed Krogans. "C-Sec. NERV consultant here to see the prisoner," Pavius states.
The two Krogans grunt and step aside. Leading her in, the doors open for the turian and admit them both into the orange-lit room opposite the transparent wall and the restrained Kaworu.
The pale youth smiles beneath the facemask. "Hello, Misato."
Misato taps on the window. She smiles, despite herself. "Hey, kid. Glad to see Asuka didn't break anything."
"I think she wants to save it for later, although from what I hear she is taking out most of her aggression on Pilot Ikari."
Misato snickers. "Filthy rumors, although I do encourage competition between you two." She taps the glass. Folds her arms and taps her sleeve. "So. How're you alive?"
Behind the mask, his lips pull up in a smile. Reddish gold eyes glance between the turian- who sees a chalk skinned youth with the markings of the original colony- and the penguin, who sees an enormous albino penguin. When he speaks, they all understand him.
"To understand that is to understand the nature of that which you call angels. Despite our power and our purpose, we are not monsters. I am an aspect of the work left by the Pale and Silent Walker of Stars and Gods."
Misato nods. "And he is?"
"The last Celestial Engineer. Or, as his people would be called in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the First Ancestral Race."
Long finger tap on biceps. The light on her mouthpiece glows in time with the cough, and she walks into the hangar bay, on catwalks suspended over doors that run along the entire length of the dreadnought, and towards the suspended red giant. There is an unconscious sway to Lia's hips, a mood to her motion that one would commonly associate with cats.
She walks with purpose- but not so much to distract from the current conflagration. Memories she shared during her time inside Unit-01 tell her that the fact that he hasn't backed down to apologized? That's a definite change for him.
Lia tends to have the audio receivers of her helmet muted when entering a room with Asuka Langley Sohryu, and for good reason at that. But she watches the wild gesticulations between her pet bosh'tet and the redhead, and glances at the red giant. Finally, she walks up, coughs, and taps him on the shoulder.
"Shinji, shut up and let her get in the giant robot."
Asuka preens. There are other ways to put it, but the cock of her chin, the look of triumph on her face and the way she seems to grow two inches at Lia's support reminds her of a preening bird. Or something of similar biology. Shinji glances between the two, and finally turns to Rei and Mari, looking for support.
Rei has already fitted on her A-10 connectors without a single look of apology on her face and Mari had made it halfway to Unit-05 before he turned to them. His shoulders slump and he shrugs, mollified slightly by Lia wrapping her arms around his waist from behind and pressing herself against his back.
Asuka quirks an eyebrow, staring at the quarian. Who responds with a small cough.
"Totally worth it," Lia interrupts. Shinji rubs the bridge of his nose, silently praying for death.
"Right, fine," he sighs, "Asuka, get...get in Unit-02. But everyone follows my lead, got it?"
He looks up just in time to see the entry plug spin into Unit-02's spine and the turbines in the shoulder fins spin up to speed. "Yeah this is going to be a clusterfuck," he moans, and doesn't resist Lia tugging him on the arm to lead him to Unit-01.
The colony of Vigilant has stood since the great wars of unification. A city spread over the eastern continent, its silver spires have stood for hundreds of years- a sign that the great void not only welcomed the children of Palaven, it yielded to them.
The skeletal giant that rises from the ocean reveals such sentiments to be a lie.
It appears as parody of the turians- long limbed, vaguely avian. A skull shaped beak with three holes for its eyes and mouth forms a face, and three long fingers extend from its wrists. Silver and painted with the colors of the setting sun, it rises from the depths along the eastern borders of the main settlement, and meets the rail cannons with a wall of golden light.
A single cross the color of inflamed flesh rises into the sky, and the Angel advances through the breach in the colony walls. It is met by transparent probes to analyze it, and fighters to pepper it with missiles and bullets. A cannon the size of the angel itself extends from the central spire and fires. The round slows as if through amber, and a metal sphere the size of a personal shuttle drops to the ground. The angel advances.
At least, until the red glow of the descending dreadnought fills the sky. It turns, face twisting. Metal rounds at hypersonic velocity bounce off of its bare skin, and its foot hovers over the rubble of its breach. Turning to the dreadnought, it steps out of the city and onto land, watching the cargo bay doors open and a shape descend into the sea.
The resulting tidal wave splashes against the kinetic barriers of the city and the absolute territory of the angel. Speakers set throughout the city direct citizens to evacuation zones. On rooftops, onlookers cheer the approach of the Evangelion- at least until the haze clears and they get a good look at what just arrived.
Water sloughs off the emerald and gold giant. The turbine built into its back bathes the water in white, sparks running up the seems of its armor. Inside the entry plug, the walls turn red with declarations of godhood, and she bares all the teeth. "Alright, Gogoki. No idea what type this one is, but let's take it apart and find out! Suggestions?"
The brass and silver display flashes green, and displays the thoughts of Unit-05's core in perfect clarity.
"Drill it is!"
On the Eva's right arm, bolts twist out and megascale engines come to life. The brass helix purrs and spins, becoming a conical blur of angelic suffering.
Jets on the back of Unit-05 fire, and the citizens of Vigilant are introduced to Mari Illustrious Makinami.
The Angel takes a step back. If the light of its AT Field is indeed the light of its soul, then it had touched the soul of Mari herself. Fear would be understandable. Hesitation, a sign of intelligence. It does not run away screaming, hence it cannot match the survival instinct of a sane human, but instead responds by extending both arms and letting fly two blasts of light.
Both slam into the Evangelion- the light and force send up plumes of smoke and debris, followed by the sound of ringing bells. And then the crackle of speakers, followed by Mari's voice carrying over the city with a declaration of,
"This hand of mine glows with an awesome power! It shines the way to grasp victory!"
Unit-05 carries out of the smoke, claw limb extended, blue lightning crackling around it.
It blasts through the Angel's AT Field. The three holes twist and the Angel takes a step back.
And the Evangelion switches up at the last minute and drives its drill through the Angel's chest, sending bits of LCL, gore, and silver to paint the skyline.
The top half of the angel vanishes. As does the bottom half, and Mari glances side to side to find two angels- one silver, one gold, now flank her. "Fuck yes! Teamwork Angel!"
Her celebrations come premature. Two three-fingered hands swing out and two identical blasts of light slam into Unit-05's face. Smoke and steam waft off of the emerald giant, golden visor flashing in time with the wall of gold that folds out in front of it- to shield itself and the city behind it.
The twin angels simply turn their faces, raising both arms and gathering two spheres of silver light between their palms.
When something hits the water behind them, a wall of steam and earth shaking force grabbing their attention. That, and a horn. A low, long blast of sound that hangs in the air and makes teeth rattle. Followed by footsteps and a long, sharp grinding of metal upon pavement.
The angels turn, just as the boat horn sounds again. The steam and smoke part to reveal Unit-02 and Unit-00, striding down the open road of debris and wreckage. In the left hand of each giant there is the bow of an empty nautical transport, freshly retrieved from Vigilant's port. The metal scrapes and plates fall off the long, flat shapes of the boats, held together solely by inertia, superior construction, and the faint blue light permeating their superstructures from the built in mass effect engines.
The two Evangelions come to a halt come to a halt in front of the two angels. A single, synchronized sweep, and they bring up the boats like swords, in time with the faint chime from the onboard computers acknowledging that torque has been engaged.
With a single, mirrored swing, they shatter both boats over the angels' heads, before following through with a synchronized kick between its legs.
The two Evangelions act in concert, act in synch. Twin punches followed by a stamp to the ground to cause the street beneath to liquify. The angel looses its footing, swings out two perfectly timed blasts, which reflect off two raised AT fields.
The two Evangelions lunge through, spin, and drive two heels into opposite sides of the twin angels, slamming them into each other- and back into a single Angel. Which then lifts up into the air when the spinning drill rams into it from behind, shredding the twin core. A flash of light and the Angel explodes, a cross of light blasting into the air, silhouetting the form of Unit-05.
Save for the twin rivers if iridescent green that run down its cheeks as both pilot and Eva cry manly tears.
The light clears, and Unit-02 straightens up. It turns to the river of debris leading from the sea, and to the still intact rest of the city. Propping one fist on its hip, it raises its other arm and gives the watching turians a thumbs up.
Watching from the Entry Plug, Shinji lets out a long breath. The black rings rotate slowly around his chair, gloves fingers tapping along the butterfly controls. "Three...two..."
"Shinji," EDI chimes, "Incoming communication from the Turian Councillor."
He sighs, shoulders slumping. "Put him through, EDI."
Wrex grins, hands on his waist. Reaching out, he pats Misato on the back, the two watching the big screen above the bank of the Death Star's bridge. Behind the turtle alien, Mordin taps on his omnitool and Tevos holds her face in her hands. "Ambassador Tevos, incoming communication from the Asari Councillor."
Tevos responds with a weak sob. "Put her through."
"Good job, girls!" She flashes a V sign. "Now prepare for retrieval and try not to piss off the rest of the galaxy!"
Three Evangelion retrievals later. The catwalks next to Unit-05. Partially transparent drones hover around the centaur god machine, fixing plates back into place and taking care to not waken chthonic horrors.
"There is a what on Unit-05?"
Mari shrugs. LCL still beading on her bright pink plugsuit and cat eared connectors on her head, she says the next words as if they are the most natural thing. "I had them install a rail gun launched fusion bomb on Gogoki."
Standing across from her, flanked by Asuka, Rei, and Misato, Shinji works his jaw. "For what possible reason do you need a fusion bomb?"
Mari shrugs. "I figure...lots of Angels." The four stare at her. A mix of disbelief, surprise, and trepidation. She rolls her eyes and clicks her tongue. "You just want to suck the joy out of everything."
Shinji rubs the bridge of his nose, a loud groan on his lips. "Commander Ikari to CiC. Commander Ikari to CiC."
Rei blinks, cocks her head and turns to the ceiling mounted speakers. A repair drone hovers past her, continuing onto Unit-00 in the distance. "When did he come aboard?"
"No." Shinji's shoulders slump. "No, I have a rank." He begins walking, followed by the others. They pass Unit-01, its yellow eyes following them.
Asuka stares at him, as if trying to somehow imagine him. With the pedobeard and the orange glasses. And the desperate air of manchild hanging over him, but she fails. She fails hard. "Sounds legit," she murmurs. She tries to imagine the Angel War with Shinji- Space Future Hero Shinji- as the Commander of NERV. "If that's all I'm gonna head to my bunk-"
Hand up to his ear, Shinji rotates his left hand. The omnitool folds into existence around it, becoming the holographic face of Wrex. "Wrex, I'm on my way. What's wrong?"
The Krogan grins. They pass the restrained form of Kusanagi, Misato giving it an appreciative whistle. "Ain't an emergency, kid. Just got off the line with the Migrant Fleet Councillor and we're about to hit the Widow relay."
They enter the elevator, the doors closing behind them and the wall in front of Shinji turning transparent. He pulls on his helmet, the glass face shield turning partially transparent to display a pair of glowing blue eyes. "Got it, Wrex. We're heading to the transfer deck." He looks over his shoulder. "Put on your helmets if you want to come aboard."
The cab runs along the outer hull of the dreadnought, walls turning transparent to allow a view of the emerald and vermillion nebula past the walls. Clouds of dust and faint bits of rock and frozen gas pass them, bringing them closer and closer to the star at the center of the stellar formation.
"Come aboard what?" Misato asks.
The shape becomes more defined. A darkness surrounding the light. Like long petals of a great, colossal flower.
"That," Shinji answers. A smile creeps up the bottom of his mask.
The dreadnought clears the clouds, and they see it. A five pronged shape floating in the darkness, dwarfing the dreadnought. Dwarfing the ships around it, great vessels flitting around the station like cicadas in summer. Lights run along each arm- illumination of the arms, illumination from the cities running along them.
The ring at the center shines like a sun- haloed by the actual star the structure orbits, glowing with the impossibly large eezo generator built into it. Behind Shinji, his four guests find themselves completely lost for words. So, he gives them answers.
"Welcome to the Citadel."
A green circle made of light spins, folds into the wall, and the wall slides up, blasting them with fresh air. Face concealed by a red and black quarian helmet, Asuka blinks glowing eyes and taps her omnitool. Next to her, Rei looks out the doorway through glowing red eyes before Mari pushes past, the long skirt of her quarian encounter suit trailing like a cloak and the A-10 protrusions twitching like cat ears atop her pink helm.
She runs into Shinji's extended arm, and he shakes his head. The mouthpiece glows in time with Mari's tongue click.
"Outside of the Death Star, a few people even now what a human is," Shinji says, walking forward and leading them onto the well lit, white road overlooking a full lake, "We're Quarians. Or, at least, that's what everyone thinks we are."
"Who's legs bend weird and who have too many fingers and toes." Asuka cocks an eyebrow beneath her helm, hand on her hip. "Just sayin' it like I see it, Third."
Shinji nods. "Cover story is that the odd...anatomy is part of a series of mutations which give us the ability to pilot the Eva. All in all, everyone buys it because they need the Evas."
They walk over the lake, white roads intersecting beneath them. Peaking over the railing, Rei looks down and her eyes go wide, before she catches up to her brother. Boxy shuttles fly overhead, blue and silver cars flying past them on either side. A screen folds out high above, showing the attack on Vigilant.
"One thing to keep in mind is that everything here is alien," Shinji continues, "You've met Quarians, you've met turians-"
"The metal velociraptor people," Mari clarifies.
"Blue skinned space babes," Mari adds.
Shinji glares at Mari, eyes narrowing. Her eyes only bounce up and down beneath her face plate. "And Krogans."
"Turtle people," Rei adds from Shinji's other side. He sighs and shakes his head. A skycar passes, stops, and a light flashes from the window before it speeds off.
"Right. Anyway, there's also-"
And Shinji walks into a tree trunk which had placed itself in front of him. He backs up to find the girls staring straight up at the gorilla which had somehow made its way off of Earth. Except, it is not a gorilla. It is twice as tall, its hide more like an elephant. Its face, rather than having a mouth, has wrinkles and tentacles hanging from it.
"With barely contained awe," it says in a slow, monotone drawl, "I stand in the presence of the savior of my people."
Rei blinks. Mari tilts her head. Asuka manages a small, flat, "what."
"I." Shinji balls his hand and coughs. "I saved their homeworld five years ago."
The beady eyes of the alien gorilla elephant octopus focus on Shinji. "With revelation and arousal; May I touch you?"
Shinji shrugs. "Maybe later?"
The immense alien thingy turns and lumbers away. Mari taps her omnitool open and begins looking for possible saddles. Rei tilts her head and cocks an eyebrow. "The fuck?" Asuka asks.
Shinji rubs the back of his head, turning to them. "Right. So, just a fair warning, I am kind of recognizable here. Like I said, they were really, really losing the war with the Angels before I arrived and..." He blinks, staring at them. Notices that the three of them are staring up, behind him. "What are you looking at?"
Rei walks over, takes his shoulders, and turns him around. Shinji looks up and stares at the hovering, football field sized screen hovering over the web of white walkways that is focued on him. More particularly focused on him staring at the screen, with Rei's hands on his shoulders, and the massive letters reading 'Shinji'Ikari vas Death Star returns to the Citadel.'
It is testament to his fortitude and five years of personal growth that he does not run away screaming. And rather, manages a small, squeaky, "Crapbaskets."
The Presidium. The heart of the Citadel. An expanse of white and silver beneath an artificial sky. Part center of government, part spiritual heart, part nature conservatory, it also serves as the final bastion should darkness consume the galaxy. The Angels are not the first apocalyptic threat to face the Council. Beneath the blue skies of the Presidium, overlooking the blue waters of its reservoir, a massive statue of a Krogan stands with its arm extended and its eyes towards the horizon.
Urdnot Wrex leans against the railing overlooking the statue, trying to place who it's supposed to be a statue of. A cough and he inclines his head, turning to the silver skinned, blue marked turian standing with his hands clasped behind him. Wrex quickly makes mental checks- C-Sec uniform. Office grade.
"Yes?" he rumbles.
"Are you Urdnot Wrex?" the turian asks.
Wrex grunts an affirmative. Parking tickets, probably.
"My." The turian coughs. "My family- my immediate family- lives on Jhinuva."
"Yeah." Wrex lets one red eye wander. Scans the walkways for witnesses. "Yeah, we were there five months ago."
The turian nods. His mandibles click.
"You're welcome," Wrex adds. The turian half bows, lowering his head to the ancient Krogan, and quickly walks off.
Wrex rubs the back of his head, arms too short to reach the back of his hump. He turns to Mordin as the salarian walks out of the bathroom next to the walkway, and grunts. "Never get used to people thanking me," Wrex mutters.
"Too young for Rachni war victory celebrations," Mordin observes, "Then again, circumstances different. Krogan turned to expansionism to counter population numbers." A short, sharp intake of breath. "Did not end well."
Wrex grunts, leaning on the railing. "Yeah, well. Krogans doing what they do best. Saving everyone from monsters." He shakes his head. "What was it you said again? You think we're gonna cure ourselves in a hundred years?"
Mordin shakes his head. "Not cure. Adapt." He leans against the railing next to Wrex, looking out. Wrex follows his gaze and realizes Mordin looks towards the Krogan statue. "Krogan biology adaptable. Robust." The Salarian pauses. Taps long fingers on the railing. "STG, most likely, has had to introduce new strains of Genophage to Krogan populations to prevent adaptation."
Wrex glowers, teeth grinding. "What'll stop them this time?"
"You." Mordin reaches out, patting Wrex on the hump. "Krogan leading a fleet to save everyone from the Angels. Certain destruction of Galactic Civilization prevented by Krogan leader, but not only by Krogan race. Krogans showing they are true citizens of the galaxy." A pause. Mordin smiles a bit wider. "Also, plentiful blackmail material on Dalatrasses and STG ranking officers, with threat to publish Genophage modifications on Extranet if anything happens."
Wrex grunts and slaps Mordin on the back. Then grabs him by the collar when Mordin almost pitches over the rail. "That's why I like you, Mordin."
The doors behind them open. Two massive plates of white folding into an archway, and Wrex turns, reaching down and adjusting his codpiece. "Right. Took his damn time."
Mordin nods with a smile. Exiting the archway, a quarian woman in a black and red encounter suit walks out, white faceplate hiding her features and her hipskirt dragging behind her. "Councillor Ium'Pallim vas QwibQwib will see you now, Admiral Wrex."
Mordin grins, nodding. Wrex grunts, adjusting his belt. Walking behind the woman, Wrex's eyes wander downwards. He glances to the side and sees Mordin staring as well, cocking a scaled eyebrow. The salarian shrugs, and they walk along in silence down a white corridor that opens up into a small arboretum with buzzing insects and alien vines along the walls, which lead to a half circle desk and several floating computer screens.
They spread out, framing the desk, and reveal a gray skinned quarian with a neatly trimmed mop of obsidian cords hanging from his wrinkled face.
"Wrex," he states, in an accented and gravel voice, "Does the term political shitstorm mean anything to you?"
The old krogan shrugs. The quarian woman eases to the side, sashaying back to the other desk and flowing into her seat. "Should it?" Wrex asks, and snaps his fingers, "Oh, yeah. The girls."
"Who destroyed two transport haulers, after dragging them across Vigilant." Ium'Pallim blinks. "Girls. Then your mission was successful?" Wrex nods. "How many Evangelions are currently aboard the ship?"
Wrex raises a finger with a toothy grin, throwing an arm around Mordin's shoulders. "Now, Councillor. What's more important? The fact that we have five Evangelions, or the fact that we made a deal with NERV?"
Vessae stands, straight and still, in an observation booth overlooking the flower structure hanging in the plume of the nebula. She's dressed in an encounter suit, black and highlighted with gold, her two peripheral eyes closed to give the illusion of normality, her own self having modified itself to bend her legs like a normal quarian.
"The Citadel was a myth when I was a child. Mother spoke of its spires and the works of the ancient engineers who wrought it." A three fingered hand presses on glass. She drinks in memories of the fingerprints upon it. "I realize she spoke in myths and legends. She used our tales of creation to excuse that we had no knowledge of its origins. Where she claimed our gods made the Relays and the Citadel, it was still an excuse for ignorance."
She turns to her watcher, the young man who had been assigned towards her safety. Kensuke Aida blinks, shrugs, and fixes his helmet back on. The purple plate turns semi transparent and the mouthpiece of the quarian helmet glows. "Oh...kay."
She tilts her head. Behind her, the lights of the Citadel flicker from the constant, relentless traffic. "I can see aspects of your soul. You have the touch of humanity's progenitor upon you."
Kensuke balls his hand and the light flickers with his cough. "Aren't you...ah...little young to know that?"
One glowing eye narrows. "There was lipstick smudged on your cheek. I recognize the color that Rei uses."
Kensuke shifts side to side. Vessae looks up at him, with the intensity and judgement of a six year old girl, which in the back of his mind proves to him the simple truth that all life in the universe can produce creepy children.
"So," he says, "Shinji asked me to look after you while he's aboard the Citadel."
She turns back to the station. Legend. Myth. "I can look after myself."
Kensuke sighs, trotting over and standing next to her. "Well, I could ask you to look after me."
A shuttle passes the window, Kensuke's gaze trailing after the spacecraft. "A worthy challenge," Vessae intones, "After all, you let Rei feed on your soul."
He turns to her. Silent, for a long moment. "Wait is that what she's doing?"
Vessae giggles. Whether it is a sinister giggle- as Kensuke is used to from his best friend's little sister- or the giggle of a normal child- which he has little experience with- he is uncertain. Instead, he simply rolls back and forth on his heels.
"So," Vessae says, "If you do what I say, I'm going to make you a giant robot pilot."
In theory, Lia was supposed to be in the lead. As someone who was actually quarian, and as well as someone who had spent time on the Citadel in the past, she was a natural choice for making sure the other pilots didn't find trouble when Shinji was called off to the Embassies.
This idea hinged on Asuka allowing herself to be lead around, however.
The white walls of the Presidium give way to gunmetal gray and black corridors of the Markets. "Don't buy any food," Lia says, "They'll sell you quarian food. Shinji tried it once and he had to get his stomach pumped."
Rei blinks. Mari cocks her head. Walking next to her rival-if-they-were-competing, Asuka turns and walks backwards, arms folded. "Quarians are dextro-amino acid, we're levo-amino acid," she explains, ducking underneath a passing Elcor and jabbing a thumb at food stands along the windowed corridor, "'Cept for Rei. Not sure what you can eat."
"I usually subsist on Kensuke's soul." Rei smirks beneath her helmet.
Lia rolls her eyes. "Anyway, keep close to me," she says with a sigh, grabbing Asuka by the arm and turning her around, "This isn't a pilgrimage. We're in one of the safer parts but the Citadel has places you don't want to go. It has places Wrex doesn't want to go."
Asuka shrugs. The four pass a walkway and two turians talking shop, passing underneath a bridge with large neon signs for something called 'fish-dog food shack'. "How are we reading these?"
"Omnitool has a built in translator," Lia explains, "This way. I need to get a patch for my scanning program."
She yanks Asuka along, Rei and Mari following. Walking towards a row of gaudily decorated shops, Lia pulls Asuka through the open door, opening her mouth to speak.
"I'm Shinji Ikari and this is my favorite store on the Citadel."
Asuka looks up. Eyes go wide, then narrow.
She works her arm free, backs out of the store. Then walks in again.
"I'm Shinji Ikari and this is my favorite store on the Citadel."
"The fuck is this?" she breathes.
Lia shrugs. "Maintenance doesn't pay for itself."
Through the windows of the chamber, he can see the dead star that holds the galaxy together. All the strands of fate, of matter, of light and heat, all pulled into this careful dance by the corpse of an ancient and unknowable light. He would contemplate it for days, weeks. Forgetting to eat, forgetting to sleep.
Wondering if this was the star the ancient gods of this galaxy once lived in the light of. If his god chose this location in effigy, in worship, in mockery of the ancient fore bearers who created him.
Sitting with legs crossed, cords of black hang in the reduced gravity around his jaw. He does not turn to the sound of the door open, or the many legs skittering upon the stone floor. In the darkness, violet eyes open and briefly flicker with gold. "You've come for me?" he asks.
His voice cracks from years of silence. For words are the lowest form of communication his master employs. Rotating in the darkness, his hands on his knees, he turns to face the shifting and chitinous form of the four eyed lord of his domain. It regards him with four golden eyes and the mandibles click together.
The air shifts and it speaks with thunder.
"The Harvest has begun."
A slow breath from old, damaged lungs. "I see. Who is your vanguard?"
Mandibles click. The unnatural, sloped head shifts. "Nazara."
He nods and two toed feet touch the warm stone. "Yes. What of the Geth?"
"The Geth have rejected our overtures. They cling to the archaic notion of peace with the Creators. They stand against us."
"Our children remain as ever fools." He cracks his knuckles and gold plays over his fingers. "Then your Collectors shall follow me instead. Our agreement stands?"
It seems to grow in front of him. The presence within it makes its inadequate corporeal form strain, but it does not break. "Open the Citadel for us, and your people shall live as our heralds. Rannoch returned to you, and the Angel that stole your homeworld will die by our hands."
He nods. Weight of years, weight of death pulls down his shoulders. "Honor your agreement, Vaum'Zorah," the thunder speaks, "And we shall honor ours."
A slow, rattled exhalation. Violet eyes open and he nods. "Of course, Harbinger. Where do I go?"
He would normally have thought of the Asari to his right as a mix of Fai and Ambassador Tevos, with Wrex's voice.
But he's had Earth on his mind again. Ever since they stumbled their way back to the world of his birth and shitty childhood, he's had Earth on his mind. So now he thinks the Asari in the slow-ass elevator next to him has Ritsuko's snarkiness, Misato's blatantness, and his father's voice.
"...so now the Matriarch's are all 'you were right, you were right, how can we grovel to you,' and I tell them, 'make me an admiral and give me a harem.'"
The asari waggles an eyebrow, leaning in next to him. He tries to shuffle to his side, and presses up against the quarian woman on his other side. Glancing to her, eyes heavy with an apology, he catches her eyes moving up and down.
"Just kidding about the harem. Nezzie'd have first dibs anyway." Floors pass on the sides of the transparent tube, rising from white platforms and walkways to the crystal spires of the embassies. Doors ding and the glass slides open in front. "My floor, anyway."
The asari walks out, and of course she rocks her hips side to side as she does so. Shinji shuffles to the side, eyes following the blue skinned woman, and glances to the quarian. Her eyes snap back into place, and a silent agreement is made between them to not discuss what they were both watching.
Glancing again at the quarian, he tries to infer. The red lining of her encounter suit probably mean embassy staff. Probably high up in the social heirarchy, he guesses, from the...shape. And his mind wanders once again. Reminds him of Misato. Reminds him of Rei. Reminds himself that he knew them for a period of months, and he should be more reminded of Fai.
He taps a foot, eyes glancing side to side. On one hand, he wishes he got Touji to come along. On the other hand, he only knew Touji for five months, and he talks about personal problems with Kenn'Reegar, and usually over some form of alcohol that's strong enough for them both to get drunk from it.
Then there is the hanar group hug of his romantic life- which is another euphemism that he would never have picked up on Earth. Rubbing the back of his neck, he lets out a long breath. Why does he have any lingering feelings fro the redhead? He's known Lia for five and a half years- she helped pull him out of the entry plug. She was the one who persuaded Wrex to stay. Asuka may have been the first girl he kissed, but Lia was the first girl he made out with- which lead to them both getting sick but that's not something either of them regret.
Then there's biology. He's reasonably sure tab A goes into slot B. Not that they could actually make anything. The suit tells him that internal temperature has risen and his hormones have spiked just thinking about it, and he mentally tells it to shove it. But back when Earth was an impossibility, he kept telling himself it wasn't a thing they had to worry about if they ever got to the point where they were thinking about it. Because the entire war with the Angels have left enough kids without parents that he'd be more than willing to at very least follow Wrex's example and give them a better childhood than he ever did.
Floors tick by. Hell, he's still fixated on Earth. Not that he regrets getting back there, but he was used to this. Used to Lia and him dancing around their relationship, used to Fai teasing her daughter about Shinji being 'the son-in-law she wants, the son she wishes she had, and if neither of those pan out she's still in the market.' Used to his mother being...her. And used to being a member of the Fleet. Not a quarian, not a human, but having someplace to belong.
Then the door rings and the quarian walks out, swaying her hips side to side. A note dings on his omnitool, and he flicks his finger to bring it up. And finds it's an address. Which he quickly closes. The door closes and floors whisk by.
Shinji rolls his shoulders and groans. "I think I need an adult."
Behind him, the massive bulk shifts. "Seductively; I am an adult."
She turns to the beady eyes of the elcor, and turns back to the elevator console.
End Chapter 4