Disclaimer: I do not own Shin Seiki Evangelion or anything relating to Project .hack.

Chapter 1

Shinji Ikari, the savior of humanity, rolls over in his bed as he sleeps in the warm confines of his bed. The Sunday morning sun shines through his bedroom window, obliterating the darkness. A slight smile adorns his face as he sleeps peacefully, but, unknown to the sleeping boy, that wouldn't last much longer.

"WAKE UP BAKA!!"

His eyes bolt open as he yelps and jumps out of his bed. In the process, his feet get snagged on his blanket and ends up face-first on the floor. Shinji holds his aching head as he slowly stands up, moaning in pain. He slowly opens his eyes, letting them adjust to the brightness. As his vision slowly clears, the first thing he is able to discern is a large mass of red looking down at him.

"Asuka?"

The fiery red-head smirks as she looks down on her fellow pilot and housemate. She straightens out and places her hands on her hips, tapping her foot impatiently.

By this time, Shinji had managed to untangle himself and sit up at the foot of his bed. Still rubbing the lump on his cranium, he looks at his digital clock. The red digital displays the time of 8:30 AM. Mumbling something under his breath, he turns towards the pilot of Unit 02.

"Asuka, why'd you have to wake me up so early? It's Sunday..."

"Hmph! Geez, is that what I get for doing you a favor, Third Child?"

Shinji looks up at her and blinks in surprise.

"Huh? What..."

"Now hurry up! I'm hungry and I have to meet Hikari soon."

Asuka turns and quickly exits the room, leaving Shinji along to his thoughts.

"So that's why she got me up..."

He slowly stands up and makes his way to the bathroom to perform his usual morning routine, knowing it was suicide trying to argue with his housemate.

After fixing Asuka breakfast, which she quickly ate up, she left to meet Hikari. Shinji waits a few minutes to make sure that she wasn't going to come back for something before fixing himself a simple breakfast. At that same moment, PenPen decided to make his appearance. The penguin moves over next to Shinji and pokes at his leg. Shinji looks down at the warm-water penguin.

"So you're hungry, too?"

He walks over to the fridge and pulls out a fish, using a small tub of hot water to quickly defrost it before placing it in the penguin's bowl. PenPen warks happily and gulps down the fish. Shinji sits down at the time to eat his own food.

After eating, Shinji cleans up the dishes before collapsing onto the couch. He looks up at the clock on the wall, which reads 10:00 AM, and ponders on what to do.

"Let's see, there are no sync-tests today. I wonder if Toji and Kensuke are doing anything."

He stands up and walks over to the phone to make the calls. Finding that his friends are also up and bored out of their minds, they make arrangements to meet at the local mall.

Soon, the trio is slowly making their way through the large mall talking and occasionally stopping to look into a window or two. As noon rolls around, the group heads to the food court to feed their empty bellies.

"Ah, glorious food!" exclaims Toji as he sits down with his tray full of food.

His two friends can't help put smile at their friend as they sit besides him with their own, smaller portions of food. Their attention is drawn to their plates as they begin to eat. A moment of silence passes as they eat. Kensuke is the first to speak up.

"So, are you guys gonna get it?"

Toji looks up from his plate and quickly gulps down the food in his mouth before responding.

"Get what?"

"You know! It's only the hottest thing out right now!"

Toji stares blankly for a moment. By this time, Shinji had stopped eating and was listening in on the conversation.

"Oh!" exclaims Toji, "You mean 'The World'!"

"What else would I be talking about?"

By this time, Shinji was completely lost and was looking at his friends with a confused look.

"'The World'?"

His two friends quickly turn and stare wide-eyed at their friend.

"Um, what did I say?" questions Shinji meekly.

"Haven't you been paying attention? 'The World' is only the hottest MMORPG out!" answers Kensuke.

"MMORPG?"

Toji sighs and gives his clueless friend a friendly slap on the back.

"Multi-Member Online Role-Playing Game, Shin-man. It's basically an online adventure game."

"Oh."

Kensuke pushes hi glasses up the bridge of his nose.

"So, you guys gonna get it? Then we can create our own party and become the best players ever!"

"Ah, I don't know, Kensuke. I'm kinda low on cash right now. But, don't fret! I'll get it as soon as I can scrounge up enough!"

The glasses-wearing boy turns to his other friend.

"What about you, Shinji? I know that you pilots must get paid a lot."

"Um, I don't know..."

Kensuke smiles at his friend.

"I don't want to pressure, Shinji. But if you get it, let me know so we can get together online!"

Shinji looks up and smiles at his friends.

"Ok."

After eating, the trio continues their wandering throughout the mall. By 3 pm, Kensuke and Toji had left, leaving Shinji alone in the mall. Shinji continued to wander through the mall until he got bored and decided to head home.

On his way out of the mall, he paused in front of a computer store. In the window, a sign caught his eye. He walked closer to examine it.

SALE! Buy the hit game 'The World' and get half off other 'The World' related products.

Shinji thought for a moment, recalling Kensuke talking about the game. Being curious, he entered the store and started to look around. As he rounded a corner, one of the salesmen approached him.

"May I help you, sir?"

"Um, yes. I was looking at the sign outside and."

"Oh! You're here for the sale on 'The World'? Follow me."

He follows the man past several aisles until they reach a large on at the end of the row. They turn into it and encounter a large wall of various electronic equipment, all of which bear the 'CC Corp' logo. The salesman turns to Shinji.

"Well, here we are. Anything you need to play 'The World' can be found here."

Shinji gazes at the large amount of equipment, unsure of what to do.

"I've never played this before, so..."

"You don't know what you need, right? Don't worry. I'll give you a hand."

The salesman grabs several items off of the shelves and carries them off to the register. He rings up the items.

"So will that be cash or charge?"

Shinji pulls out his wallet and hands him his NERV ID card, which conveniently doubles as a credit card. The salesman takes the card and briefly looks it over before staring in awe at Shinji.

"You're one of those Evangelion pilots?! Oh, wow! To think, I just helped one of them! Hold on a second."

The visibly excited salesman runs off into the storeroom for a moment and re-appears carrying a box.

"We just got these in and weren't suppose to sell 'em to next week. It's the latest interface system for the game. Consider this as a gift for all you've done for humanity."

Shinji can't help but smile at the young man. After collecting his purchases, he heads towards home with a small smile on his face and a good feeling inside.

"I'm home!"

Shinji takes off his shoes and enters the apartment. Receiving no response, he presumes Misato is still at work and Asuka is out with Hikari. He enters his room and deposits his purchases onto his bed. Looking at the clock, he decides to start to make dinner for his two roommates. Soon, Asuka returns with several packages and quickly deposits them in her room where she stayed until dinner. Misato arrived after and sat down with her customary after-work-can-of-beer.

After dinner, Shinji slipped away to his room and assembled his new purchase. He stands back from his computer and looks over his new possessions. The computer was on with the orange ALTIMIT desktop running. In front of the screen rested his controller and interface headset. He sits down in the chair and starts up 'The World.'

Welcome to 'The World' Please register username, screen name, password, and character type.

Username: Shinji Ikari

Screen Name: Hitori

Password: *****

Retype Password: *****

Character Type: Twin-Blade User

Registering....

Registration Complete.

Shinji sits back in his chair and picks up the controller before putting on the interface. He moves the cursor over the 'Log In' button and clicks it.