That Launched a Thousand Ships?
Chapter 2: Meeting the family.
Standard disclaimers apply, don't own anything, yadayadayada. This episode of Star Drek brought to you by a deranged mind.
In his life, Shinji Ikari had experienced more things than most. Many of these would qualify as strange or frightening.
Being abducted by aliens however, took top spot his short list of truly weird events. As soon as he exited his entry plug, he was guided by flashing arrows on the floor into what seemed to be a dressing chamber. He was startled when a rather jovial voice started speaking to him.
"Hiya kiddo! Sorry for the rough ride up. Now, some folks are really anxious to meet you, so the sooner we get that smelly crud you've been soaking in cleaned up, the sooner you can get into some respectable clothes. So just follow the lights and let's get this party started. Oh, if ya need anything, just sing out. Name's Oddball"
Oddball. Very appropriate to this situation as a whole. He'd been stripped, steam cleaned, soaked, and micro waved giving him a very good idea of how a dumpling from a Chinese take-out felt. The robes were a pleasant surprise, loose fitting and very comfortable, but why did they have to be purple and green? He was then ushered into a luxuriously furnished office where he was hit with another shock to his system.
The woman seated behind the desk was beautiful, no doubt about it. Long brown hair, a positively drool-worthy figure and a beautiful face…but something seemed familiar.. 'god..the eyes! Green..Like mom's!'
At that moment, the woman's face lit up with a broad grin. "Right in one, Shinji! Now come on over here and give your poor old grandma a hug!"
'Yes, definitely a strange day' was his thought, right before keeling over from shock.
Gendo was not in the best of moods right now. Aside from feeling like every nerve in his body was on fire, he was now being frog-marched by a pair of robots down a corridor. A large door slid open as they approached and he was unceremoniously thrown in head first. As he rose off the floor, he was met with sardonic laughter.
"Ah, Gendo…the man who would be god. I mean, seriously, VTOLS against Starships…? Pathetic!"
The speaker stepped out into the light. Tall, long dark hair streaked with white, very muscular.
"Who are you, and why am I here? By what right do you hold me here?" Gendo managed to grate out. He made a move to rush the tall man, and promptly found himself slammed against a wall by some invisible fist.
"Oooh, that must have hurt! Did you seriously think that I would come within ten feet of you without some safeguard in place? Not that I really needed it when I could've psi-blasted you myself. Still, you asked a legitimate question, so let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was an empire. The rulers had a brilliant daughter who they loved dearly. Unfortunately, the rulers tried to arrange a marriage. Being independent and headstrong, the princess took exception to this and fled to a little known backwater world. There, she met and married, and gave birth to a son. The princess met an unfortunate fate, and the prince consort proceeded to abandon the heir for 10 years. The princess was Yui Ikari, and her child, Shinji."
The Emperor Priam watched with great satisfaction as all the color drained from Gendo's face as he realized that he was in some seriously deep dip. Priam strode over and grabbed Gendo by the throat, holding him dangling above the deck. His voice crackled with icy fury. "Gendo Ikari, by taking our name, you rendered yourself subject to our laws. I now strip you of that name and the protection of the royal family. For the crimes of attempted genocide, child abuse, abandonment, adultery and discorporating the royal princess, we find you guilty of high treason! I have been you judge and jury, but someone else wishes to be your executioner." He tossed Gendo down, and strode towards the exit. The back wall slid away, revealing the huge form of EVA unit 01, eyes glowing red. A low growl sounded.
Priam then winced as the following sounds were heard:
"Gods, Yui, that temper! I know you were angry, but did you really have to bite his head off like that…?"
(Now Priam, don't be too hard on our daughter) the telepathic voice of his wife chided him. (I'm sure that this whole business left a bad taste in her mouth as is.)
In the meantime, Oddball was overseeing the awakening of the rest of the NERV Command crew.
It felt like every hangover she'd ever had had gotten together and taken up residence in her skull, the pain so intense that it was a major effort to open her eyes, much less think coherently. Finally though, she gathered enough energy to pry her lids open and take in her surroundings.
'Last thing I remember, we were being buzzed by what looked like a bunch of flying Sumo wrestlers. Next thing I know, I'm here…speaking of which, where the hell am I anyway?' She had no complaints about her comfort level; the bed she was on seemed to mould itself to every contour of her body. The lighting was soft, with some sort of artwork adding splashes of color to otherwise plain surroundings. A whirring and clinking pulled her attention to a bedside table, where a vial of some liquid was being deposited from a wall slot.
"Ah, you're finally up!" The mellow voice caused her to start violently. It seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once.
"Who are you? Where the blazes am I?"
"All in good time, Captain Katsuragi. First things first. I'm going to assume that you've got one hell of a headache. Drink that vial. It'll help alleviate the effects of the Neural Pulse that we used on NERV H.Q."
Misato lifted the flask and sniffed…eech, what a stench! She held her nose and upended the contents down her throat. God, did it burn! She couldn't argue with the effects though; the throb in her head disappeared almost immediately! She sighed and smiled with relief.
"Thanks, I needed that. Now, I hate to sound like an ingrate, but who are you and how do you know who I am?"
A warm disembodied chuckle sounded. "Actually, I'm more of a what than a who; I'm an artificial intelligence, model ODBL9000. But you, beautiful lady, can call me Oddball."
Misato shook her head. "Oh great, now a computer is making a pass at me!"
"Hey, you're lucky I've got no real body, otherwise I'd be doing more'n that, lemme tell you…!"
"I'll take that as a compliment. Now, Robo-perv, could you answer those questions I asked earlier?"
"Well, I've already told you who I am. You are on the Imperial Battle-Ship Stavanzer, currently en route to New U.N headquarters in Neo-Berlin. His Imperial Majesty, Priam the 14th will be meeting with the entire assembly to tender an offer. In the meantime, consider yourself our guest. You will be escorted to an audience with the Imperatrix, Lady Callisto, who is very eager to meet you."
"I'm honored but…why?"
"For the kindness and support you've shown the heir lineal. And to answer what I'm sure is your next question, he's known to you as Shinji Ikari, son of crown princess Yui Ikari and successor to the throne of the Ikarian Star Empire."
Misato Katsuragi was a strong woman and brilliant strategist. She had handled situations that would have paralyzed a lesser personality. At this news, she did something totally unexpected. She collapsed bonelessly back onto the bed in a dead faint.
"Humph. Was it something I said…?"
Meanwhile, Ritsuko Akagi was experiencing her own painful awakening. So when a small jar bearing the tag "Drink me" appeared, she didn't hesitate. After all, if whoever these people were had wanted her dead, they could have done so easily. She sighed in blissful relief as she felt her mind begin to function relatively pain-free. She took in the room she was in; a couple of monitors displaying what she assumed were her vitals, a bedside table, what looked like some form of dispenser nearby and not much else. Her eyes then opened wide with astonishment as she re-read the tag on the jar.
"Drink me! How could they possibly know that I used to love reading "Alice in Wonderland" as a kid?"
"Well, it helps when you have telepaths on board, but in your case, the MAGI gave us the information freely. Your mom seems to have quite a sense of humor…" The disembodied voice drawled in an amused tone. "And before you start playing the Who, what and where game, my name is Oddball, I'm an artificial intelligence and I happen to have gotten quite close to your mom recently. Odd woman, only one I know who'd give a computer a multiple personality disorder." A dry chuckle sounded.
Ritsuko slumped back onto the bed. "Okay…now I definitely need a coffee and a cigarette…"
A wall slot opened, dispensing a mug and a pitcher of something that smelled absolutely heavenly.
"We haven't got coffee, but I think you'll like that. We call it Chok'Tar. As for the cigarettes, closest thing is that disgusting stuff the Sargonites smoke"
"Yeah, they're those delightful fellows who ripped the VTOL engines off with their bare hands before settling them on the ground, and stunned all you folks with a neural pulse. They're heavy gravvers…they're comfortable at 10 G's. Took them a week in the tank to get accustomed to the low air pressure and gravity on your world."
That explained a lot, like how they were able to break through 27 layers of armor so easily. Ritsuko shuddered, remembering how the incredibly broad and stocky forms not only caught up to some of the missiles fired, but then proceeded to take them for rides like so many kids at an amusement park! She took a cautious sip of the Chok'Tar, then closed her eyes in bliss.
"Oh my god, that's good…better than sex!"
"Considering who you've been having it with, I can't say I'm surprised…man could be the poster-boy for erectile dysfunction!"
Ritsuko was first angered by this insult, but to her shock found she was chortling in spite of herself
"I will admit, sometimes it's hard to get a rise out of him…"
"Help! I've fallen and can't get it up..!"
For the first time in quite a while, Ritsuko laughed, an honest side-splitting, gut busting explosion of mirth that took several minutes to subside. Finally, she calmed down enough to be able to breathe again.
"Oh…my, I needed that. Thanks!"
"Not a problem. Anything else you need?"
"Some answers would be nice. Just why are you people here, anyway?"
"I'm not sure you're going to like the answers."
"Why don't you let me be the judge of that?" Ritsuko crossed her arms, a smug expression on her face.
"Well, don't say I didn't warn you." There was a sound like someone inhaling deeply.
"In the first place, we're going to put NERV and SEELE out of business." Ritsuko's eyes opened wide in shock; she started to protest, but was cut off. "In exchange for a few small favors, we will totally eradicate every 'Angel' in this system. But that's a secondary objective. Primary reason is to retrieve the heir lineal, as well as hopefully rescue the crown princess from a truly horrible imprisonment. You know these people; they are Shinji and Yui Ikari, respectively."
"No! You're lying, Yui Ikari is DEAD…!"
"Oh, PUH-LEEZE! You and I both know better! Her essence is very much alive, and VERY unhappy. The sick thing is, you know that everything Gendo did was to get Yui back, and you still think that some day, he'll love you. Hard to do, since he's now as dead as you claim Yui was." Ritsuko's eyes widened, filling with tears of anger. " You are so friggin deep in denial that you don't even realize that you're following exactly in your mom's footsteps. You always try to prove yourself her superior, but all you'll ever be is a pale shadow."
"That's not true! I'm not her shadow; I'M MY OWN PERSON, YOU BODYLESS FREAK!"
"Phah. You just keep right on telling yourself that, Doc. Just for the record, I might not have a body, but I'm a helluva lot more human than you'll ever be. After all, I'm not the one aiding, abetting and boffing a genocidal maniac!
Good day, DOCTOR."
The room went silent. Soon the only sound heard was the bitter sobbing of a shattered woman.
'God, I feel like crap. Whatever I was drinking with Misato must've had one helluva a kick!' This was Kaji's first foggy thought upon opening his eyes. Memory then kicked in and he abruptly sat up, or rather tried to. Big mistake!
The pain felt like he'd been worked over by the section-2 goon squad. He groaned out a curse as he fell back. That's when he found that he had company.
"Ah, Mr. Ryouji! Welcome back to the world of the wakeful!" Kaji noted absently that the voice was disgustingly cheerful.
"You sound like a morning person…I hate morning people! Speaking of which, just who and where are you…and come to think of it, where am I?" A small bottle clinked out of a slot next to his bed; obviously he was supposed to drink it, despite the perfectly vile smell coming from the contents. Ah, well, down the hatch. The effect was almost immediate, and he sighed in relief. What sounded suspiciously like a snicker echoed through the room.
"I don't think I know what a 'morning person' is, but thanks for thinking of me as one, anyway. Y'see, I'm an AI, but you can call me Oddball. You're on board the ISS Stavanzer, currently in geosynchronous orbit above Japan. We will shortly be en route to UN headquarter in Neo-Berlin."
"Oh. And what business do you have with the U.N?"
"We plan on offering a plan for the betterment of all."
"Very Altruistic, I'm sure. But what's the catch, and who, exactly are 'WE'?"
"We are elements of the Imperial Star Fleet, under direct command of his Imperial Majesty, Priam the 14th.
We represent the Ikarian Stellar Empire."
Kaji stared blankly for a moment, then started to laugh. "Ikarian Empire! Kami save us, SEELE is going to have a canary about this. Ikari, as in Ikari Gendo…?"
The temperature in the room seemed to drop radically. "Mr. Ryouji, do NOT dignify that piece of Borf excrement with the Ikari name. He was a disgrace and a non-entity. He has been dealt with, and his fellow nut-cases will soon follow."
Kaji's eyebrows arced upwards. "Really? Tell me more."
"Oh? What would you like to know, pray tell?"
"What I've always wanted to know. The truth."
"The truth? You can't handle the truth!"
Kaji's voice was eerily calm. "Try me."
"OK, you asked for it. That monitor there should have all you need to know. Just say 'more' to advance. But one question."
"Name it." Kaji was already racing through the information displayed.
"I've seen you referred to in various personal logs as a stud. Don't you find it taxing holding up walls?"
Kaji promptly fell over, twitching convulsively,
"Sheesh. Maybe I should've asked about how he could fit on a snow tire instead…?"
A/N The ship names were borrowed from the Icerigger trilogy by Sci-fi writer Alan Dean Foster.