.hack/EVA: Catharsis: Possibilities

Disclaimer: In this universe in the quantum foam, I do not own or in any way shape or form hold a claim to the .hack series or Neon Genesis Evangelion (or of course, any other copyrighted works I might reference here).

" " denotes speech

'italics' denotes thought

'bold' denotes location names

'bold italics' denotes skill use

Kyouko Kaga's Apartment, Tokyo-3

After being discharged from the hospital, the mousy brunette now known as Kyouko Kaga had found herself dealing with the ordeal of returning to her everyday life, something she found especially troublesome having forgotten much of her past after the car accident that had sent her to the hospital. Even with the help (and temporary financial assistance) of her relatives Ichiro Sato and Tomoki Aida, it was difficult, as aside from what she had been told, her past was a blank, and trying to remember only brought to mind a powerful sense of loss.

It was almost as if the person she was had died, never to return, and the person she was now had no connection to her past life. 'Twas a strange sensation, to say the least, to know nearly nothing of who she had been, though from time to time she felt vague twinges of familiarity when she certain places or people on the streets.

Two encounters in particular stood out to her. The first was on her way back from refresher classes at nursing school (as she had apparently forgotten what she had learned in the accident, and thus needed to relearn her vocational skills as a nurse), when she had bumped into a doctor out on a cigarette break, a brunette in her 30s with deep brown eyes. The doctor had been startled to see her, eyes widening in recognition, and questioningly whispered the name "Maya." But as that was not her name, Kyouko could only demure, and the other had quickly backed off, apologizing that it was but a case of mistaken identity, much to the other's disappointment.

The second had been much more fleeting, occurring during her short residency as school nurse at Tokyo-3 1st Municipal Junior High School. On her way to the nurse's office, the mousy brunette had passed the ever-popular teacher Yumi Aranami, walking alongside her ward Reimeiki Hakubo, both of who looked at her for a moment with almost identical wistful expressions before turning away.

But it was not the look, as much as a snatch of their conversation that had caught Kyouko's attention.

"The mind may forget," the statuesque Yumi Aranami was saying to the silver haired child beside her. "But the heart and body remembers…"

'Wouldn't it be nice if that were true?' the amnesiac mused, a soft smile tugging at the edge of her lips as the pair walked around the corner and out of sight. 'I wonder if I will ever remember someone from my past…'

When she returned to her apartment that night, she went about her usual evening routine of checking her email to see if there were any updates or urgent requests from nursing school. There was nothing, as expected, so finishing that, she had been about to logoff and go to sleep, when she clicked the wrong icon, and had instead launched the program of The World: R2.

The hard drive spun and whirred, and the opening splash of the game popped up on screen, quickly finishing its loading sequence to reveal the title screen.

'That's odd…did I play this before my accident?' she wondered. 'Or was this something that Tomoki installed as a prank to make me think I did?'

She rolled her eyes at that last thought, as the ponytailed, unshaven man of her acquaintance did often like to play practical jokes with her, sometimes referring to her jestingly as a "queen" of one sort or another. Had they dated at some point in the past? Surely not, as the playboy wasn't her type, and besides, he was dating someone else, a purple-haired Colonel Katsuragi affiliated with the UN.

'There I go wondering about my past again, and questioning what I know, even though it's likely I'll never remember. Anyway, now that I have this program open, I might as well take a look at it—maybe there will be some clues there to who I was.'

What she accessed first was the forums, where a name and a post leapt out at her from the screen.

The title appeared innocuous enough, as those of most messages were wont to do, at least those that did not contain explicit references to porn, viruses, or other garbled spam. It was mysterious enough, to be sure, but the name of the author was one she recognized from her online meanderings as an enigmatic and influential writer who only wrote of significant topics, particularly those pertaining to the MMORPG called The World.

'The net poet W.B. Yeats? I wonder what he has to say…'

Curious as to the message's contents, Kyouko opened it, lips compressing into thin line as her eyes glanced over the lines.

Subject: Requiem of Fate

Sender: W.B. Yeats

The age of dusk has now passed on
With a choice made at the end of human will

A dark evangel rises as the harbinger of freedom
Rejecting falsely dreamed utopia for

The World of shadowed ones

As Queen of the Dark and Phantom Queen
fought 'gainst evil-shaped ones too massive to compare

The Harbinger walked alone unto the end of land
unyielding shadows and moonlight at his side

His only protection memories of a Goddess' love

The soul of a dream, a vessel of pathos,
bearing the weight of shadow and light
spurning blithe whispers of fate
for the uncertainty of a cruel angel's thesis

Time's spiral goes on, and the world will turn

Driven by the will of all those within it
driven by the will of dreams and mortal memories

Towards the uncertain and the yet unknown
only fragments left of chains of fate
the epitaph of dusk and dawn

Night has fallen, and has passed
Dawn rises o'er the World, and

At last returns the Shadowed One,

Who quests for the Twilight Dragon

As the master of rumors and memories past

Awaits on the path of spider lilies the return of the

Once and Future Queen

Her curiosity piqued at what seemed to be a reference to Arthurian lore, Kyouko glanced at the clock and figured that she still had some time to spare before going to sleep that night. Returning to the forum's main page, she continued to browse, raising an eyebrow as she read over some of the posts, including one that included screenshots of a recent special event on the isle of Hy Brasail.

In-game weddings were rare enough, though this one had been notable as it had involved the former Holy Palace Emperor and not one, but two young women, both of whom she recognized from her work at the local school, and one of which was…

'The silver-haired girl known in-world as Lycoris…'

Lycoris. That was a name she recognized, her mind seeming to suggest that a red dress would be more appropriate for her attire. And further, it had a meaning she recognized as well.

'Poignant memories…as well as spider lilies…could it be…?'

Why did the girl seem so familiar? Was it because she reminded Kyouko of her son, or was it something else? The answer surely lay within the game…

'More importantly…do I really want to know?'

Clicking out of the forum, Kyouko returned to the title screen of 'The World: R2', the cursor of her mouse vacillating between 'Log in' and 'Quit.' She found that she couldn't make a decision, so instead of a conscious choice, she chose randomness. Closing her eyes, the brunette brought her finger randomly down upon one of the keys on the keyboard, opening her eyes only when a chime announced that something had changed.

She had chosen to log in.

'Might as well see this to the end then…'

Sitting neglected on the side of her desk was a headset and controller, items that she now plugged into the computer, placing the headset over her head. And as she did so, there was a moment of feedback as the room around her faded away to reveal a strange new city of stone and iron, still bustling though it was yet night.

Δ Server, Eternal City Mac Anu

Evening had come, and the light of the watery moon danced upon the canals and the cobblestones of the streets, bringing a soft illumination to the industrial city. It was a busy place, no matter the time, the place where people came and went between The World and the world of shadowed ones, the gateway to what some might call utopia. But in this city, it was possible to be alone as well, as a certain red-clad Blade Brandier found to be all too true, as no one greeted her, no one found her familiar.

After a time of taking in her surroundings, the young woman had made her way to the central bridge of Mac Anu, the place of many meetings and distant farewells, a bridge that each and every player of The World had walked across at one point or another in their adventures.

Standing there, the Blade Brandier looked down at water, studying the image reflected there. The figure was a noble-looking dark-haired woman clad in formal red Japanese clothing, one that seemed more familiar to her than even her own.

"Kaede…" the name came unbidden to her lips, one she repeated experimentally and found fitting in her mouth. "My character's name is…Kaede."

A soft rustle of fabric sounded behind her, and the now-named Kaede turned to see two figures, looking at her with the same considering expression that Yumi Aranami and Reimeiki Hakubo had back at school.

'One is almost an exact match with Aranami-sensei, taking the form of a sorceress clad in black, with flowing purple-black tresses, dark violet eyes, and a silver infinity symbol at the collar of her dress. And the other…'

The other was not someone she recognized from the other world, though on looking at him, she felt a powerful sense of recognition. This one, a small, horned boy in white, with golden eyes looking out unblinking from the fringes of his cropped blue-silver hair, reminded her of…

'…a son. He seems like…the son I lost…'

With the tangle of emotions welling up inside her breast, Kaede didn't know exactly what to say, though she was surprised as anyone else might be when the Sorceress in Black stepped close to her, tilting her head.

"I've been waiting for you…" the Shadow Warlock murmured with a wistful smile. "I have been waiting for very a long time, in fact. And so has the little Lord Zelkova, who sees you as…"

"A mother," Kaede voiced without prompting, bringing a smile to the boy, who inclined his head towards her with a gentle laugh. "And you are…Yumi Aranami?"

"I am?" prompted the Shadow Warlock, raising one slender eyebrow in a way that reminded Kaede of Edgar Allen Poe's raven. "Perhaps, but what might my name be in this world, where I am a specter of the past?"

Clearly, she was not about to make things easy for the newcomer, much like a trickster out of legend. And if she were a sorceress out of legend, and a specter of the past…the appellation 'Phantom Queen' came to mind again, one of the titles given to the goddess known as…

"Morganna," Kaede said at last, repeating it to see how it tasted in her mouth. The name somehow felt…right. "Your name is…Morganna."

"Yes," to approval of the other, who reached out and took the blademistress' hand, much to the amnesiac's surprise. And yet, it was not so large a shock as she might have thought, as the blademistress looked into the sorceress' eyes questioningly.

"The mind forgets, but the heart remembers," the noblewoman found herself saying, lines that the statuesque sorceress had spoken earlier that day. "Is that right?"

"Rumor has it that this is so," spoke the third member of the group, the little blue-haired boy. It was somehow nostalgic, and Kaede smiled despite herself as Zelkova took her other hand. "Shall we go?"

There was a brief internal struggle, as the blademistress wondered whether or not to accept the invitation. Somehow, she had a feeling that if she said yes, there would be no going back. In the end, it proved impossible to resist both the look of hopefulness on his face--or for that matter, the smirk of expectation in Morganna's eyes, so she answered the only way she could.

"…Okay," she relented, with a weak smile of her own.

The three walked together to the Chaos Gate of the Eternal City. There they paused for a moment, deliberating on a destination, then without ado, vanished with a flurry of golden rings into an uncertain future, filled with possibilities. Whatever else it held, it would surely be…interesting.

'Welcome to the World, indeed.'