A light clicked on in the office. The elderly gentleman in a long green housecoat sat down at the desk and hiked the chair closer to the smooth, worn down oak. Comfort was the first priority, re-arranging the desk as he went. Shifting papers here, throwing away wrappers to his cigar and clicking on low lighting after a tick afterthought. The room was spacious, almost inviting. He was alone in there.
Still…after comfort came the fact that the papers were still there, stacked neatly and with a brief notation on the tip of the manila folder. The man pulled off his gloves, rubbing his fingers together in the calm air. Wetting his lips, he reached for the folder--once…twice…thrice he failed. Calmly, he brought his hand back to keep it from shaking.
Sighing, he grabbed the near-forgotten cigar and clipped the end of it off and struck a match. A puff of cherry flavored cancer calmed him, a little. His fingers drew along his lips in nervous anticipation. That stack of paper wasn't so imposing. Only twenty pages, if that.
But what it held…what it held, indeed. Finally, enough smoke filling his lungs and a fine head rush going, he pulled the notation off of the file; it was from the informant who retrieved it for him:
BURN IT AND NEVER READ IT.
"Hmph." A tongue of smoke curled out from his nostrils. He didn't know if it were contempt or agreement in that single noise. Probably the most prescient thing he'd read in a long time concerning this whole idea. He took his cigar in one hand, and leaned over to drag an empty trash pail over.
He struck another match and burned the notation, throwing it into the aluminum pail. Small wisps of smoke like dragon tails seeped up into the air. He took a breath and cut the tether of rope that locked the folder. Wrangling his fingers, he flipped open the cover to the title page.
The 2000 Incident in the Antarctic
CLASSIFIED: Sierra Alpha Proximal EYES ONLY
Simply put, what he read in that title terrified him. He was a man privy to secrets of national importance, some grim, some that never should see the light of day. They were nothing in the end. Not what dark whispers or skeletons those at the top of the Ministries held in their closets. What lie on these pieces of paper held more weight on his mind and terror in his heart than any black op or secret government project.
And he'd not even flipped the page. His grayed eyes looked over across his desk to a trio of photo frames. The two of his family he ignored, the one in the rear, the smallest one, captured his eye. He stared at that picture, running gnarled fingers through his white hair. The old man was looking at himself over a decade younger and with his finest associate of the Gehirn Foundation. "Is this what you found?" he whispered as if the walls could hear. No, tonight they wouldn't hear him.
The recorders were off and his assigned listeners-in were at home, in their beds and comfortable. His manor was his own again. Family privately sequestered in their rooms, dreams taking them away from the world for a time.
And here he sat with his papers, his documents. He sighed again, looking at the title page and finally summoning the strength to turn the page. The page fluttered and turned in his fingers, fingers that covered his mouth, palm cradling his chin.
The words almost read themselves to him:
"I write this in anticipation. A before and after if you will. I have come here; I have come to the Antarctic, further than any expedition ever has. To the eastern shores of this continent and I will come back the last true conqueror of our final frontier on terra firma. You must think what a fool; expeditions have come, gone and been to my exact place before and since.
And I would not disagree. Scott, Byrd, Shackleton and Amundsen have all come before me. The name of Katsuragi shall soon be embedded in stone alongside theirs. For mine is an important discovery. As of twenty three hundred hours on this eve of August 3, 1999, we've discovered something down there. Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.
We've discovered something. Something incredible.
We are currently digging near the Ross Ice Shelf, on a few hints given by satellite imaging and thermal blooms we have recorded from deep in the ice shelves, just outside of Mount Erebus. Most curious, the university and Gehirn Foundation saddled up all of the expenses for the trip and picked up my tab. I must say once more, I am truly honored to be the lead of the expedition.
I digress; I fear in my excitement I may adulterate this statement. The thermal blooms in the imaging photographs I was given when first approached on this project were…problematic. They indicated a land mass that for all intents and purposes did not exist. Some kind of plateau that was never shown or seen within topographical maps, verily, I've never even seen it on the satellite photos.
But there the bloom was, in radiant color. At first refuting it as malfunction, six more passes were made of the continent. Sure enough, each time it was there, growing brighter in some and fading in the others. It was pulsing. Dr. Ikagi and I had never seen anything like it before or since.
So we started searching for precedent. Any of the expeditions that went near Erebus or in that region. Anything on this mystery plateau. I had tentatively codenamed the 'plateau' Phantasm. It was fleeting, and frankly, I thought it may even be a figment of my own imagination. It seemed…too fantastical to believe."
The elderly gentleman rubbed his temple, and dimmed the lights lower, feeling the micro servers in his ocular transplants correct. He was still getting a headache; he'd need his visor soon.
Lorenz Keel sucked down another lungful of his cigar, thumbing over another page, his hand finally stilled. The next page showed the infrared photos, copies anyway, and several other…real pictures. Not mock ups, but the real thing from the advance of the party on the Ice Shelf. The damned thing existed.
But then…Keel had always known that…hadn't he? His body jerked in a slight jitter when he heard the whine of a VTOLs engines roar distantly overhead, part of Tokyo-02's airport.
"Too jump old man…too jumpy…"
Who wouldn't be reading this…? He thought to himself.
Attention focused downward again onto the papers. Keiji Katsuragi spoke through those words; Keel could almost hear his old friend talking once again.
"…in later months, I found what I had been wishing and pulling at threads for: a break. We found an actual similar encounter with the mysterious readings we had gotten. It was an old expedition of the 1930s boom in worldwide archaeology. American, headed from the Miskatonic University in New England.
Something disastrous had happened during the expedition. Some numbers of lives were lost, only two escaped, one barely completely insane. No other mentions of these men occur in the record. All evidence was said to have been confiscated by the United States Government. I dare say…it excited me and scared me. What was out there? Something that truly was, for the most part, undiscovered…waiting. And now…as I look back at this photo, sitting on the desk next to me and the wind whipping outside.
I dare say it called us here."
Keel looked up from the papers across the room with a distant train of thought. And so began the fall into Second Impact. The Awakening… Keel shivered again when he heard a few VTOLs take off and the sounds of an airliner slowly whine overhead. His gaze returned to the folder and its blank words staring at him. One wouldn't think that simple words, nonchalant words, this memoir would inspire terror.
But God in Heaven, it did.
Keel was looking into something only a handful of people in the world knew about. This report wouldn't survive past him, he knew that much. This was a final plea to Keel. To stop what he was doing and come to sense. But would showing this to him only bring him to his senses? Or bring the stamp down quicker?
A light clicked on in his mind. His hands suddenly whipped through the folder, a finger marking his page in the report as he flipped its back side open. A baited breath waited in his lungs as he pulled out the twin set of cases. The silvered sheen of the two enclosed what were possibly the greatest state secret of any nation in all of time.
Two simple mini discs, recordings. The last surviving views of…of what lie underneath that ice.
Oh God. Both were encased in locked titanium cases, snuggly placed into a fold of the manila carrier. What lie in those two cases…he shuddered. Both contained the only surviving footage that made it back with the survivors. They were…infamous amongst those who knew of their existence.
Keel's former colleague, Professor Mariko Janai, had torn her own eyes out after viewing it in 2005 when they were released for examination. They said they found her with her hands in her fireplace, burning her hands and eyes. Mercifully, she had died.
And now here the discs were, before him. He was no fool.
How God worked in mysterious ways…if there truly was one. The papers…paper was terrifying enough for him. He didn't wish to see the Iwo gateway and what lie beyond it. He didn't wish to see the city that lie on that plateau…nor of the creatures they had found like those poor, damned American's in the thirties. The mental images and even the blurred photographs of the gate…and what happened to the probes was enough to stop his heart.
The leader of the SEELE council made up his mind then and there.
Trembling fingers dialed in their key codes. Shimmering silver mini discs glinted back at him with the entering of his code clearance. Harmless little discs of plastic and metal. What were buried inside lines of code were perhaps the most ancient and terrifying thing ever to grace this planet.
Keel took them both out, and nodded, placing them on the desk next to his console. Almost with a measured movement, he grasped his pyramidal paperweight, raised it over his head and smashed the two discs. The desk shuddered as he struck once more, making sure they were well and rightly gone.
A troubled grunt left his lips, a painful murmur in his chest. This over exertion was well worth it. He pulled a bottle out of his desk and took a thin white pill out from it, popped the top back on and placed the pill under his tongue. Soon the murmur vanished. His headache, however, remained.
Keel didn't care about his visor at the moment, his eyes would stay as they were, and he would see it with them, not through a digital readout. He swept the bits of glittering accusation into the bin. No one should ever have seen that to begin with. Perhaps the bloom in that first photo had enchanted them all with promises of glory.
"Come to me, like the spider to the fly." Keel swore as he couldn't get his hands to stop shaking. Now he knew the urgency with what that note had meant.
Keel kept at it, reading through the report, the memoir soon became a journal and then last will and testament of his old friend. It was a difficult thing to struggle with. Terrifying to see along with his friend what was uncovered in that icy Hell.
One initial comment still gave Keel a moment of amazement and utter shock at his friend's attitude over it all, "My daughter, Misato, has come with us, she's entering college next year and she wished to come along before school started. I gladly endorsed this. I never…"
"…We set out from Osaka-02 at 08:30 on July 05, 1999. Making several stops in the island chains and once more in Austrailia for final loading of equipment and provision."
"What we've found is a city, all over this plateau, when we arrived we flew past Erebus and in a parting of the cloud wall…it sprawled out over the ice sheet. It's incredible. Millions of years old, that's what Usagi told us from initial spectral analysis and carbon dating. That's just an out there estimate. These things, these towers are made from things I can't describe."
"…found what seems to be a blocked off ice shelf in the city, the satellites tell us that the heat bloom is somewhere deep under the city. Whatever it is, it's almost as big as the plateau. Further…"
"…the camp is a fair distance from the city, out on the ice shelf itself, our airstrip is secure and we are doing fairly well, I must say. The temperature has kept at 2 degrees Celsius most of the trip…"
"The nights are so odd here. Perhaps I'm simply not used to being at one of the poles…the night sky seems…off…constellations seem different somehow…"
"…found some odd hieroglyphs all over the city, huge abnormal mosaics. We can't make any of it out. Our linguists have run back to camp with their tails between their legs for five days now. It's truly frustrating, I know they're doing their best, but they must be missing something…"
Keel found himself stopping every few paragraphs now. He almost wished his friend hadn't sent this along with his daughter when he saved her. He wished that damned fool hadn't had the clarity to save his documentation. Keel was sweating. This kind of thing…he shuddered. What did the head of the Ministry of the Interior or the Prime Minister think of it when they first read it? Neither ever said a word of it. But Keel saw and he heard the rumors. Both men were never the same. He suspected he'd be joining that none so honorable clique.
And the papers went on. The moratorium of his reading was to give himself peace of mind. Rumors always had a way of making one dread what came next. Keel only knew it would get worse…far, far worse. His eyes were wrenched back to the paper.
"…Malmsteen, our Norwegian aide from the Gehrin International team has vanished. Simply…vanished into the ruins. Ralga said he was there one moment, and when he turned back next…gone. He said the air took on a strange acrid scent…"
"…Storms are getting worse, but we've come prepared, our airplanes are well tethered and out 'copters are safe and sound. Choi and Park are still a bit nervous, but they've not been in a true South winter…"
"Oddest thing, the wind here. Perhaps it's because I haven't been here in so long. It just seems to be buffeting the area all too hard. We get harsh wind storms, tore away two tents yesterday. But a quarter of a mile away…nothing. Nothing above a mild gust. Gray peaks are rolling from the direction of Erebus. Heavy snow coming…"
"…Choi is gone. Carter and Igaki heard him last night during the storm. He was yelling about the whistling or some damn thing. No one heard any such thing. They said he was yelling, laughing and crying. He ran off into the snow drifts. All we found in the search was a flare…and his skeleton. I have no words to express the horror of it all. The man burned himself alive with a flare. The men are restless and some are calling for the expedition to end and we withdraw home…"
"Satellite communication is out due to the storm. Our radio relay has been iced out as well. Malfunction in the equipment. Heavy snows the past few nights since Choi committed suicide. The plateau seems to just stretch on now. It's hazy to even see the rest of the island and continent. The cloud wall has extended almost…"
"…Misato seems to be worried much more than the others. Very understandable. She's young, and the sudden death of one man and the vanishing of another has scared her. I now regret bringing her along. But one always looks back in hindsight in 20/20…"
"The vote has been made to soldier on with the set backs we've had. We are going back to the ruins to investigate all the signatures while we are here. I will not have two men die and nothing to show for their sacrifice. We will find something. The evidence is here, and yet nothing can be found. It is truly like being in the ocean with not a drop to drink."
"Success! We've uncovered an antechamber in the ruins, about three kilometers into the city. Between six very massive towers and what appears to be the base of a large, almost Mayan-esque temple. I say Mayan because…well, it's the only analogy that comes close to fitting the shape. The shapes and angles of this place are confusing and I dare say disturbing in some areas. What this civilization was…I can only imagine their customs…"
Keel shook his head. So this was the beginning of the end for Keiji and his expedition. And then the continent vanished in a flood of light as the being codenamed White Moon had awoken…
Keel read on.
"It's been five days and we have reached the deeper into the antechamber. Further in this notation have I added the coal rubbings of sixty glyphs we've found inside the city. Once more…we cannot decrypt them…"
"One of the water drills exploded today, trying to take core samples inside the antechamber. The altar, if that's what that block can be described as was virtually unphased. Usagi was badly hurt, a piece of shrapnel embedded itself in her thigh and multiple lacerations from…"
"Misato stays at base camp, she refuses to go anywhere near the city anymore."
"We've passed through the antechamber…it's like the city extends deep underground. We came into a room—a near gorge some dozens of meters down. Sheer glinting stone, like a mix of obsidian and limestone. We could hear something breathing in there…"
"…set up terminus camp inside the antechamber, most glorious sight in the evening. Well, near twilight, I digress. The entire room lights up, the glyphs actually glow from some source we have not found…"
"We have found It…something that was giving off the heat. But it wasn't really heat…it was something else. I can't find the terms to explain this creature in the gorge. It's asleep, but awake at the same time. I don't know if even what I write makes sense, but this is the unadulterated truth…"
"We have dubbed it, White Moon…that's what we've agreed to call it."
Keel shook his head, taking a long pull of the cigar, letting out a pained sigh. He was shaking so badly he could hardly contain it. Keiji's own mind seemed to be influenced by it from the start. A trembling appendage covered Keel's ocular implants. The black glass framed his weak eyes, keeping out the light. But it didn't let the words stay out. No, the reading simply sucked in and absorbed his thoughts.
Sometimes he wished the N2 sweep attack upon Matsuba had left him blind. Truly, he didn't know what to think anymore about it all.
But the signs were in the stars as prophesied and this document stamped it in blood. Then the Awakening…Keel saw knew where this was going. This paper in his hands was a first hand account. For a moment, he didn't want to know anymore. But in his heart, he couldn't do Keiji that dishonor.
"Keel…" the man jumped in his chair, stifling a shout, looking about his room wildly. He pulled the folds of his nightcoat in tight, breathing deeply.
"Nothing. Nothing is there…" He gritted his teeth when he could have sworn he heard it once more.
No, the world was not the same anymore. A sharp thump in his chest. A nitroglycerin pill under the tongue tried to calm it. The smoke still rolled out of the tin next to the desk.
Nothing sounded within the depths of his abode again.
The text drew on, next to it were photos of an amorphous light—photos of the Second Impact taken from three separate satellites not knocked out in the event.
"It…sings in the night. In the dark. Our harmonics can't pick it up though. Hana has drawn some kind of waking illness. She sweats and is dehydrated all at once. We cannot determine the cause…"
"The Moon…it is a glorious creature. I have stayed in the camp while the team moved back to the permanent camp to assist Hana. Park, Igaki, Tanada and Chen have stayed with me. We continue to observe it. It lies on an altar as large as a football field. Its chest rises and falls. Giant nails have grown out from its unused hands and curled inward into its flesh. We cannot actually SEE the skin, it glows so brightly. White light fills this entire cavern until the edge of this altar. Then the infinite night swallows all…"
The documentation stopped for a period of what was surmised to be at least six days. In that time…well, no one knows what happened. Whatever hurtled them toward Second Impact. The Awakening of White Moon and the crashing down of the world around them.
Out of the confusion came back only one survivor, poor Misato, Keiji's young girl. Completely mute. She hadn't spoken since. Some say she came back hollowed out by whatever happened at the epicenter.
With what they woke up, with what they unleashed. He wouldn't doubt it.
All that was left was the final entry.
"White Moon smiled at me…it smiled so widely. I did what it asked. I gave them to it…I gave their minds to it. My little Misato ran away…so sad. But it ate them greedily…and I can still hear their screams at night. Right next to me, like a touch of air caressing my face. It has shown me things, wondrous wide things beyond this pallid place…it's Singing again…all it needs is my mind and it can wake. IT CAN WAKE. IT CAN WAKE INTO THIS WORLD.
WE'LL SING WITH IT.
WE SHALL SEE WHAT IS BEYoNd.
Keel closed the report, not needing the graphs of the Impact's intensity. Time/survivor curves were too grim to look at. The numbers were just cold enough to block out the grim realizations and all.
At 3:05 A.M. Eastern-Standard, the Awakening occurred. Second Impact to the public. Keiji did what he promised in his last writing. He had sent the entire document by e-mail. It amazed Keel that his addled brain could do it. Darker trains of thought pondered that maybe he was made to send it. Perhaps 'White Moon' wanted the world's elite and officials to know what happened that night.
That was perhaps more chilling than the two billion dead that Second Impact left in its wake. Lives, nations, spirits broken. The old man shook his head, Southeast Asia was still recovering. The West had been relatively spared. Only a few million dead, little land lost.
Seeds of unrest sowed and so forth. Perhaps that was part of what White Moon wanted. There was no mistaking the ancient malevolence that now dwelled in the Dead Sea. That same malevolence that was spreading across the world.
His eyes traced to the set of windows that set in the wall behind him. It gave him a view of the slopes of the land tracing down to the glowing skyline of Tokyo-02.
Beyond that was the distant Miasma. That sickly yellow-red glow that had lingered ever since the Awakening. The constant reminder of what laughed on the wind. What walked in the shadows of dreams.
Keel pondered for a long while. His eyes focusing weakly on the Miasma. Then nothing, simply staring into abstract space. He did need to read that.
Truly it was the final push he needed. Hands moved deftly, and soon he grabbed his other folder and placed it on the table.
The bold type was a name he'd been hearing for almost two years now. Now, all he had to do was sign it into legislation and approve her budget.
"Project NERV. Gehirn Foundation."
One breath and his pen moved from the inkwell. "Let the die be cast."
(To be continued)
A/N: Well, well. My own take on the fusion of Lovecraft and Eva. I shall try and keep away from the clichéd catches and what not. My world is quite a bit different than most you've seen. I hope to keep true to Lovecraft's subject matter and type of horror. With a little of my own of course! I really hope you all like it.
Drop me a line if you do or don't! Catch you all later!
Update: I've decided to make this a one shot as I wish to make a series of one shot within the greater universe I've created. Also, I'll be writing them at various intervals, so as I can focus on my other projects as well. I promise more shall be coming in the future! No worries!