Adam "Your own personal trauma-sponge" Kadmon

Disclaimer: apologies to Gainax and anyone reading this. I don't own Evangelion.

Welcome to the winner of the 2007 Adam Kadmon Ice Cream Headache Fanfiction Contest. Runners-up include another fic inspired by a Radiohead song, "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy," and a romance story that explores the oft-ignored but painfully obvious sexual tension between Shinji and Fuyutsuki. The winner was selected by a complex and strenuous evaluation process of which one would be the easiest for me to write. So now, to you, my "beloved" readers, I present chapter one of what will hopefully be a one-chapter story. Let's go, MazinEva!!

Pre-note: there's gonna be a couple WTF moments. Just roll with it.


"I'm home… finally."

A strong and sure figure stood atop the hill line that bordered the city of Tokyo-3. Below him a sea of sunflowers peeked up at the heavens in the blossoming daylight. The fringes of the city were slowly coming alive, people waking from their peaceful slumbers and silent dreams. Lights peppered the predawn metropolis, giving it the illusion of thousands of eyes opening to view this figure's return.

He strode confidently down a small incline onto the city highway, a dazzling smile playing on his boyish features. His short brown hair ruffled in the early morning wind, just as the sun rose behind his back. His deep blue eyes sparkled with honesty and sincerity, as well as a tremendous hidden power.

"I'm home."

Inexplicably wearing a long red trench coat, with—what the hell?—a samurai sword strapped to his back, he prepared to whip out his sunglasses and look cool, in the way only wannabe badass morons with enough pathetic creator "I wish I was him" wish fulfillment can to keep losers distracted from their own dismally dead-end lives for as long as they watch the series.

But I digress.

"Finally."

So consumed with his return and soon-to-be reunion with his family, he never heard the commuter bus coming.

"Holy shit!"

The bus driver swerved to avoid the young man, but to no avail. He impacted the front fender and flew through the air, landing in a jumbled heap of limbs and organs and dumb clothes twenty feet away.

"Oh, God!" the driver wailed. "He's dead!" He began sobbing over the steering wheel as the passengers disembarked.

Ikari Shinji stepped off the bus, viewing the scene with utter horror.

"What a terrible way to come home," he said. He said a quick prayer for the deceased, and started down the hill to the city.


MazinEva! Round 1!

Getting Off To A Bad Start

Or

Return of the Eternal Effigy, Ikari Shinji


Meanwhile, in a shadowy and therefore evil lair…

"The time is nigh," the first black monolith boomed. Around it, forming a circle, others fazed into existence, numbered two through twelve.

"Yea, repent and be humble," number Five spoke.

"The end of this disgusting world of vice and sin will soon be upon us," Three said.

"And the Endtime will come, heralding in mankind's true evolution," One uttered. "Prepare, brothers and sisters. Or, at least I assume sisters and brothers. I mean, honestly, have we ever seen the entirety of this little club outside of these dumb monolith thingies? For all I know, Eleven could be a third grader or something. A really smart, articulate, evil third grader, but one nonetheless. Well, does it truly matter? I guess not. But I would like to know. But does anyone ever listen to me? Oh, no, of course not. I'm only number freaking one, your supposed leader and moderator. I mean, come on. Who started this ancient secret society of crazy people who want to destroy the world? Me, that's who, you ungrateful sons of bitches. Or daughters of bitches. Like I know. Assholes."

"Our time of ascension is close," Eleven spoke. "Our time when we will walk with God once again. Since we figured out last week that God does indeed have feet. And where is the instrument of our salvation?"

A harsh white light illuminated the center of the circle, and a lone form stepped into it.

"You are our greatest hope, the culmination of our scientific knowledge and… hope. You will herald the End and scour this world of these arrogant humans. Uh, I mean those arrogant humans. The ones outside of this poorly lit, ill-defined chamber. Ahem." One seemed to swell and expand. Which it did, by manipulating the holographic display in a pathetic attempt to look important. "You are our greatest hope, which I already said but I want to use dramatic repetition to give the original statement more importance, Zero!"

The form in the circle bowed, awaiting the order to destroy mankind.

"Zero!" Five spoke. "Receive your chariot and obliterate our enemies! Which isn't actually a chariot because you would totally get your ass kicked in one!"

The floor slid apart and a giant humanoid orange machine rose in a completely unnecessary billow of smoke. Its single eye glowed, again, unnecessarily.

"Go forth, Zero! Make those fools pay with the blood of the guilty! Because they are guilty, and we assume they have blood, which they will pay us! The currency of the future is blood!"

The orange monster lowered its hand, received its master, and raised it high above the floor, to the top of its head. A half-buried sphere sitting atop its crown opened and allowed access to its pilot. It snapped closed and hummed to full life.

"Yes! Go, Zero, and… you know… kill people… and… blow stuff up." A cough. "Yea, go and spread death and destruction!"

The orange machine's back distended and grew, before two long feathery wings sprouted out. It took to the air and grasped a long lance, then flew through a hole in the ceiling, hundreds of yards above.

"It has begun," One said, pleasure evident in his voice. "Verily, it has begun."

An awkward pause.

"Ah, what time is it? Uh… wow. One forty-seven already. Huh. Time flies, doesn't it. Well, let's break for a late lunch. I'll catch up later. I gotta get my spine's oil changed and look at naked boys in tubes. We'll reconvene at three to go over the new dental plan and Apocalypse insurance. And to discuss Eight's blatant disregard for our appropriate icon rules. A pair of inverted breasts may look like an 8, but it is simply not acceptable. We have children in here on a regular basis. Not only that but— hey. Hey, Nine, no. No. A floppy penis that kind of resembles a 9 is not cool, alright? That is not cool. Just, just, no. You know what? Screw it. We're shutting down. I have administrative privilege, and I am shutting this down right now. So grow up, act your ages, and— damn it Three! Get those ass cheeks off of there this instant! Christ, I'm surrounded by children. Yeah, just, just screw it. We're done. We're done."


"Welcome to the super scientific city of Tokyo-3!"

Shinji looked at the strangely dressed woman on the pay telephone's touch screen monitor who seemed to be waiting just for him. Why exactly a diminutive catgirl in a skimpy maid uniform displayed on an LCD screen would be waiting for him escaped his impressive logic skills. Well, impressive compared to the rest of the cast, as you shall soon find out. Still, Shinji couldn't help but think the way her tail morphed into an electrical cord was cute, albeit in an anthropomorphic, completely inappropriate way. The sprite smiled and waved, attempting to make him feel at home by offering a healthy view of her digital cleavage.

Things had changed since he'd been away.

"Need to make a call? Please touch me."

Yes, things had definitely changed.

He aimed for her hair to avoid any accidental groping, even if it was just a computer program. But as he was about to make contact she jumped up and he pressed down on her backside. He snatched his hand away quickly.

"Uh, sorry, miss!"

"Oh, you! Tee hee hee!"

The girl's torso morphed into a number box, waiting for Shinji to dial. He fished in his shirt pocket for the letter packet he was mailed and briefly skimmed the contents for the information he needed. He began punching in what he hoped was the appropriate phone number from an extensive list of inheritance lawyers, and the girl on the screen started to moan in ecstasy, arching her neck and bristling her tail. Shinji sighed, cursing whoever designed this.

"Whew! That sure was a long number, you stud. Tee hee hee!"

With an exasperated groan, Shinji idly strummed on the receiver as the number processed, glancing around the abandoned train terminal he was in. He wished he could have taken it instead of that smelly cramped commuter bus, but his teacher/guardian made him work for his money, and he didn't feel like earning the required pittance for a train ticket. It could get very uncomfortable very quickly. That one time he was loaned out to the girl's college for funds to save his life from a ruptured appendix still haunted him.

He shook it off, reminding himself he was no longer under the unforgiving clutches of his former Master, and was in fact in a very large, advanced city. Aside from that whole catgirl thing asking for him to grope her, it was also sort of odd that such a large city seemed to have absolutely no citizens; the streets and buildings were all deserted. Even the free porn and bourbon shop down the road was empty. Not that Shinji was really complaining about some alone time. After the last few years a little peace and quiet like this was welcome. Though he had a feeling it wouldn't last very long.

He glanced back down to the letter his father sent him, all but ordering him to

'Come in from the dry rain and be shielded by my scrumptious ass cheeks that clap the national anthem of Bolivia! Do you not love my multi-flavored inhabitance of blueberry muffins? Tacos! Purple monkey dishwasher marshmallow marshmallow baseball bat in the balls of old St. Nick! Pecans and nipple-twisters here I come for your delectable earlobes that will make me into an exploding chimpanzee with two knives in each foot two I tell you! Stocking stuffers with battery-flavored socks partake of my thunderous orgasm kaleidoscope art from hairless Kindergarten students riding flaming buckets of geriatric gal bladders into a canyon of alcoholic racecar mice with heat seeking laser bowels! Ha ha ha ha ha! I am the sexy putrefaction god of doorknobs! Worship my eternal scrotal magnificence as it colors the sky with—'

The last line became scribbled and illegible, until someone else hastily scrawled in what might have been blood, the words "please for the love of God come to Tokyo-3."

So, he came. Though the letter did not fill him with optimism, he held onto the minuscule hope his father finally beat the crippling drug dependency he developed after his mother died, and wanted him back, like a father should. Perhaps everything he wrote was an elaborate code.

Shinji scanned the rest of the note. Attached was a small snapshot of a drawing of a figure, which may have been a woman or fuse box instructions. And the "note the circuitry input node" message on the bottom was just confusing.

He shook his head and turned his attention back on the phone's LCD screen, where the catgirl had somehow acquired a set of garters. She cheerfully opened her digital mouth.

"Sorry cutie, but all lines are currently down due to giant monster attack."

A soft electronic peep sounded and a 2-D symbol of a large lizard stepping on a building appeared in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

"What in the world?" he said.

A building promptly collapsed behind him. From the smoking rubble a giant orange mecha arose, swinging a long double-pronged red spear and demolishing everything in the immediate vicinity of the entire city. It was humanoid in appearance, ridiculously gangly and proportionally impractical, but humanoid. It sported what looked like muscles and proper articulation along a form-fitting armor, while its "face" was encased in a helmet, and held a single shining eye in its center, and a weird metal goatee-like chin.

Despite the somewhat comical outward appearance of the robot, it was not filling Shinji with assurance that he'd be able to continue living for very long. He gritted his teeth, determined not to empty his bowels on a city street corner.

"This just doesn't seem to be my day," he said.

A blue streak skidded to a halt at his feet, diverting his attention from imminent death from giant robot to imminent death from severely dilapidated car.

"Hey kid!" the driver yelled over the din, leaning out the broken window. "Get to a shelter or you'll written off as an acceptable loss under the city's Individual Responsibility for Monster Avoidance bylaws!"

Had Shinji not known her, he would have thought her gorgeous.

"Misato-san?"

"Shinji-kun?" She tore off the shades I forgot to mention she was wearing and gave him a once over. "Shinji-kun!" Misato crawled out of her poorly abused Renault like a spider on crack and pulled him into a crushing hug. "Oh, my little Shin-chan is finally home! This is the greatest day of my life!"

"Um, what about that giant thing destroying the city?"

"Huh? Oh, that. Not even the end of the world can ruin my mood now that you're back." She released him to arm's length. "Let me take a good look at you."

Another building fell behind them, sending dust and debris into a frenzied dance around their position.

"My my, what a handsome young man you turned out to be. I bet the girls never leave you alone. But I mean, pfft, who needs some annoying little schoolgirl chasing after you, especially since if she does catch you she won't know what the hell to do with you. Sure the whole naïve and shy thing can be cute if you're role-playing, but in real life it's boring, unless it's a guy, then I can be the 'teacher' and that's totally hot. So I suppose a better question might be to ask if the women never leave you alone, and what are your feelings regarding that?"

Shinji watched in terror as the orange behemoth closed in on their location, brandishing its spear, its singular eye alight with what he could only assume was evil intent. Or a dramatic effect. Or a dramatically evil—

"Misato-san…"

"Yes, my darling little boy?"

"Well, don't you think we should go?" He pointed to the fast approaching robot causing all the death stuff. "I mean I'm, I'm glad to see you too, but maybe right here isn't the safest place to have a reunion."

"You're right," she said seriously. "We'll have to continue this at my place, with champagne and steak. Climb in and let's go."

"Ah, while I appreciate the gesture, I'm back home because my father sent me a letter. He said he wanted to see me as soon as possible." At least, that was how he interpreted it. True, it had been the first communication he had with the man in nearly a decade, but it rekindled his nearly dead hope of having a normal family again. Despite the letter's complete lack of coherency and spittle stains.

Though he did suppose "normal" family was overrated. Misato had been his surrogate big sister when he was a child before death and drugs took his parents away, but even that was at times little more than being a life-sized doll for her to play dress up with. Still, she was like family. Scary, overly affectionate family, but family nonetheless.

"Oh, fine," Misato groaned. "I guess I'll take you to him."

They got in her car, just as the orange mech's spear slammed into the pavement behind them, sending the Renault flipping through the air. Shinji screamed, clutching the dashboard for dear life. Misato casually put the car into second gear, only frowning a little as the vehicle finally crashed into the ground. Checking her bearings, she started off towards Shinji's father, who conveniently was also her employer.

"I have to say," she said with relaxed cheer. "It's a miracle I found you out here at all. I must have the devil's own luck."

"Wait. You mean you weren't out here to pick me up?"

"Huh? Oh, no. I had to make an emergency plushy and swimwear run." She gestured to the backseats overflowing with shopping bags. "It's the only way Asuka will keep fighting for us."

"Asuka?" Shinji gaped, as fond memories of his childhood friend flitted through him. He remembered how sadistically spirited the redhead had been as a child, as well as her unhealthy love for stuffed animals. "What on earth does Asuka have to do with this?"

"Turn around and see for yourself."

Shinji twisted in his seat, and gasped as a giant, slim four-eyed red mech, complete with a metal bosom and exaggerated hips, plowed into the robot that had nearly killed them a page or so ago. Several nearby buildings shattered from the force.

"Asuka!? You mean Asuka's in that red thing!?" The practical question one might have in such a situation, namely, why is a fourteen-year-old the city's only defense, was drowned by Shinji's sweaty panic at seeing his old friend in danger.

"Yeah," Misato said, idly scratching the side of her nose. "How's she doing?"

The two mecha grappled for a moment, then in a fantastically actiony sequence that I'll skip over, Asuka caught an orange fist in her face, sending her to the ground. Her foe raised its spear over its head and swung down in a blurring arc. Shinji cringed, as he was apt to do.

"We have to go back! She's in trouble!"

"Damn it, Asuka," Misato groaned. "You talk big, but when you actually get out there, you get your ass kicked." She sputtered. "I mean, really. Guess the whole 'entrust the future to humanity's youth' was supposed to just be a metaphor. Oh well. It doesn't matter now. We finally have our knight in shining armor to save us. Or starchy school uniform. Pretty much the same."

Misato stepped on the gas, careening around a corner and killing several small mammals. She casually added a few more chalk lines to a counter by the stick shift.

"Asuka!" Shinji yelled helplessly, as he was apt to do.

"Oh, she'll be fine. Of course, that's assuming the last attack didn't crush her cockpit, and her ejection seat worked, and it didn't send her flying into a gas tank or anything. Relax."

Shinji whirled around, mouth open to insist they go back. So upset, he never saw the tranquilizer gun. As several powerful psychotropic drugs coursed through his nervous system, Shinji sank into the car seat, all thought lost to him. Misato hummed happily, reminding herself to thank Ritsuko again for her uncanny ability to mix drug cocktails. She gazed ahead, plowing through three backyards, to the huge pyramidal structure that sat above the city on a wide mountaintop.

"Welcome to Tokyo-3," she told her unconscious passenger.


It was a boring and unimportant trip to the bowels of… well, I guess I'll still call it NERV, which I'll skip. Oh, they met Ritsuko along the way, who was clad in a swimsuit for some reason, and she and Misato had some cryptic talk about units and stuff. They eventually reached the oversized kiddy pool which was the cage after a pointless voyage in a ridiculous motorized raft, but Ritsuko blew a fuse turning on the lights, so they had to sit in absolute darkness for a few minutes while someone tripped the circuit breaker. But when they finally saw the mecha and all, boy was it dramatic.

"This," Ritsuko said as she swept her hand across the chamber in a completely needless show of theatrics, "this is the big fake life form thingy, the MazinEva!, mankind's last hope against the monster that conveniently just today showed up to fight us. And you, Shinji-kun, will be its pilot!"

Total silence met her declaration.

"Um… don't… don't you have, you know, anything to say about that? A refusal, a tantrum, wimpy tears? Something? I don't want my speech, which I worked out very carefully over three weeks, to be completely useless. Damn it, say something!"

Shinji opened his mouth and drooled onto his shirt.

"… the tranquilizers again, Misato?" she asked, massaging her temples.

"Well, he was making a lot of noise on the way here and—"

"How much did you give him?"

"Um… the whole syringe?"

"… you really need to learn a little restraint."

Ritsuko pulled out a long needle from her coat pocket, which must somehow be the entrance to some other dimension, and stuck it into Shinji's arm. The boy's eyes immediately cleared and he focused on the giant metal visage staring down at him. He took the next logical leap.

"So," he said, still a little lightheaded as he gazed up at the face of the robot, this big purple skull that emotionally scarred small children and gave them nightmares for the rest of their lives, "this is my father's work? I thought he was just a simple pharmaceutical representative."

"Correct," a booming voice sounded above him. "On both counts."

"Father…" Shinji whispered, looking up.

"It's been awhile," Gendo said, smirking. That was mostly his fault, having lost his son's address. He had a hell of a time locating him, and was currently feeling more than a little miffed about it. Gendo glared down at the boy from a high balcony overlooking the umbilical bridge, one lazy hand hanging out his pocket.

Any sense of drama was lost as Ritsuko cupped her hands by her mouth and shouted.

"Your work? Your work? My ass! Your wife made this and you know it!"

"Yeah!" Misato joined in. "Boo! Boo! Taking credit for your dead wife's creation!"

"Yeah!" Fuyutsuki said, his image popping up on a vid screen by Gendo's side. "How dare you assume responsibility for Yui-kun's brilliance! You have no claim on any of it!"

"Mother made this?" Shinji asked no one in particular. "Goodness. This is a far cry from those plastic models she loved when I was a child."

"Alright!" Gendo shouted. "I might not have actually made it… but I did paint it myself."

"You did?" Shinji asked, looking over the machine. "You painted all these flames and skulls and lightning bolts on it?"

"Yes. Now Shinji, time is of the essence. That monster outside is getting closer every second." A loud crash interrupted him, and he looked to the ceiling. "The enemy… it must have discovered our location…"

"Well, obviously," Ritsuko said. "You're the one who insisted on building our headquarters on the tallest mountain in the city, and putting that gaudy pyramid on top of it. It's a miracle no one found it before today."

"Yeah," Misato chimed in. "Actually, thinking about it, why haven't we been attacked before today? It seems a little poorly thought out. Like, for convenience and tension's sake we're throwing out the concepts of realism and practicality. But I'm just rambling…"

"Enough!"

Gendo punched a button at his side and was lowered via a personal lift to the bridge. About twelve feet from his son the lowering mechanism shorted out and stopped with a jolt, and he was flung down the remaining distance. Out of sheer instinct he thrust his hands out to cushion the fall.

"Damn it, Akagi!" He landed on the umbilical bridge with a resounding crash, crying out as he impacted the floor. "Oh, God! My hands are broken!"

"Suck it up," the Doctor told him. "You act like this is the first time your hands have gotten pulverized, or burned, or crushed. Don't be a baby. I'll have you fixed up in a jiffy." Ritsuko produced another long syringe from her coat pocket and injected the commander of NERV with an unidentifiable substance. Gendo immediately smiled.

Yet again forced to view her superior officer's drug dependency, Misato shook her head. Shinji merely looked at his father's hands and felt ill.

"That has to hurt. I can see the bones…"

"Shinji…?"

The boy in question turned. He shook his head free of the confusion and the unpleasant memories of his drug-addled father ruining his fourth birthday party by showing up wearing nothing but a strategically placed cone hat and cape.

"Asuka?" he said in shock. "Asuka, is that you?"

Gone, gone was the stumpy little girl he had grown up with. Gone too were the leg braces and patch to correct her lazy eye. Before him stood a stunning young woman, tall, slender, fiery red hair cascading down her back, framing her beautiful face, her eyes bright, and blue, and neither one drifting to the side. She wore a strange, skintight crimson suit of metal and rubber, which left very little to the imagination. But as Shinji had no imagination, nothing dirty passed through his head. Just as well. The female cast of this series has been forced through enough under-aged debauchery.

Asuka's face beamed and she ran full speed to him, knocking several low level techs off the bridge into what appeared to be orange Gatorade surrounding the mech.

"Shinji! It really is you! I can't believe you're finally back!" She stopped just short of embracing him, her hands floating by his shoulders. His broad, well-defined shoulders, she told herself. "I'm so happy! You've finally come back to m—" She slapped a hand over her mouth, mortified that she had nearly spilled her heart so quickly. "I'm… I'm glad you're back home. Welcome home."

"Thanks. It's good to be back." He couldn't help but remark on the drastic change she had undergone during his absence. "You look great, Asuka."

"Thanks," she said, feeling a blush light up her cheeks. She treated herself to a quick once over of his body. "You look great, too."

He smiled to himself, dense as a rock. Suddenly he shot forward, eyes full of concern.

"Are you okay?" he asked, her battle rushing back to him through the haze of drug goggles. "You're not hurt, are you?"

"N-no, no," she said, blushing brightly as he searched her body for injury. "Really. I found an emergency escape route and conveniently wound up here. I'm fine."

"Thank goodness," he said with a genuinely grateful smile.

As they stood gazing at each other, Gendo moaned in pain.

"Oh, right. The city and the attack."

"Yeah," Misato growled, her eyes twitching over her old friend and Asuka. Subtly, she re-holstered her gun. She never did trust Germans.

Ritsuko helped the Commander to his feet, and another dose of happy juice. He sighed contentedly.

"Shinji," Gendo said, using a mangled hand to push his glasses back up his nose. "You are our only hope for animated cheese ball races on TV Tokyo-brand sandwich cookies. The enemy eats our weight in tire axle gumdrop spaceship bad dog bad dog bad dog bad dog. Can you stop puff puff tricycles and save my collection of many fragrant scissors? Laughter-colored spiders vomiting from your ears win win win!"

"Um…" Ritsuko cleared her throat. Having spent the last decade or so as nothing but a glorified interpreter for Gendo when he was bombed out of his mind, she was rather adept at separating the totally insane ramblings that left his mouth from the moderately insane ones. "I think he meant to say you're our last hope to beat that thing outside. That only you can pilot the MazinEva! and save us from imminent death."

"Fishnet fetish goat haaaaaaa…!"

Having no sense of drama or suspense himself, Shinji quickly dismissed all the practical arguments against following his father's orders. In the end, and because we all knew he would do it, he agreed.

"I'll… I'll pilot it," he said, gazing up at the machine, the MazinEva! For you, mother. For the world you wanted me to live in.

Dramatic music inexplicably swelled over the loudspeakers, and Shinji was led away by Dr. Akagi who gave him a brief history of untrained, untested rookie pilots who were somehow better at fighting than seasoned professionals. It was not mere plot device or convenience, she explained, but an exact science. One she specialized in. Mechology, she called it. The fact that Shinji had never heard of it before didn't bother him in the least. She was wearing a lab coat, so he trusted her intellect completely.

Ritsuko went on the explain how the above stated newbies were often naïve, introverted young men with some sort of tragic and heartrending past, usually with strained relations with close family members, but who somehow manage to attract the attention of several sweet young things, who inevitably turn out to be princesses or childhood friends or weird military experiments. The Doctor asked which he preferred, and when he stated he had no preference, she warned him that an overtly shounen-ai mecha series had yet to be commercially successful, that "Wing" show notwithstanding.

But she digressed.

Slapping a pair of neural connectors to his head and kicking him into the waiting entry plug, Ritsuko openly wished he wouldn't die on his first mission. Actually, she knew full well that he would indeed return successful, but she wanted to increase the whole mathematical equation of drama.

Shinji only knew that this was, so far, the stupidest thing he had ever participated in. And he had been involved with several poorly designed marketing gimmicks made to lure fools from their money. Including half a dozen "parenting" sims. Creepy.

But he digressed.

As the mighty behemoth came to life around him, Shinji couldn't help but feel it was time for a scene change. Not a drastic or well thought out one, simply something to increase the tension, and because I can't link the next part together smoothly.


"Somehow, this isn't what I thought my homecoming would be like."

Shinji sat in the cockpit of Unit-01, as someone alternatively called it, waiting through all the activation tests and preparations. Which were surprisingly lengthy given the fact that a giant murderous hell machine was obliterating the city just outside. Shinji adjusted the buds on his head, wondering if such tiny things could really help him control a giant robot.

"I thought there'd be more to it."

He looked over the sparsely decorated plug, finding only two control yokes. No levers, pedals, switches… nothing but dinky little grip things. How could piloting a mech be so simple? To distance itself from those G shows, Ritsuko would say, but since she wasn't there that was just me. Moving on.

Shinji blew out a long breath to try and calm himself. His mind drifted back to the past few years he had spent away from home, deep within the mountains. Or, at least that was what his teacher called the red light district they lived in.

Master, he thought. I suppose this was what you were training me for. I hope I will not disappoint you, and can honor your teachings. He gripped the controls as a tech told him they were almost ready to launch. Please, lend me your strength and wisdom, Master Kaji.

"Shinji?"

He glanced down at a vid window that popped up by his elbow, displaying a very embarrassed young woman.

"Asuka? What's up?"

"Well…" She drew in a breath, and smiled at him. "Be careful out there, okay? It won't be fair if you came back here today only to… to…"

"Asuka…"

"I'm so sorry, Shinji!" In the small screen, she bit her finger and turned away. "If I had been able to beat that thing you wouldn't have to go out there and fight! How can you ever forgive me?"

"There's nothing to forgive, Asuka," he said, and meant it. "I mean, even though we haven't seen each other in years, we're still friends, right? We promised to stay friends forever, remember?"

"Of course I remember that conveniently off-screen event."

"So don't worry." He smiled. "I'm impressed with you. You went out and fought by yourself. You did great, Asuka."

Thank you, Shinji, she thought. But you better come back. You were the only person to not make fun of me when I was younger. Despite my lazy eye, and differently sized legs, and the lice, and that whole grisly "noodle incident"… you've always stayed by me, Shinji. I… I want to tell you… so much…

"Shinji," she said, thankful that despite having her inner monologue appear in italics there were no quotation marks to make it public knowledge. "I… I just want you to know that… that I…"

Asuka's image in the window was yanked backwards, and Misato's grim visage replaced it.

"Final safety locks disengaged," she grumbled, frowning. "Try not to barf."

Her announcement was followed by a series of crashes and thumps. At his side, Shinji saw several techs run in terror as the platforms they were on slid into the wall.

"That's unfortunate."

With an odd toilet flush sound effect the plug began filling with a strange, coppery liquid. Shinji tried not to panic, hoping this was merely another step to activating the robot. But as the foul-smelling stuff reached his chin his natural preservation instincts kicked in.

"I don't want to be a bother, but, well, I seem to be in danger of drowning."

"What?" he heard someone yell. "Oh, shit! The LCL is leaking into the plug!"

"Damn it, Akagi!"

"No, no, don't worry. According to my calculations, this will undercut the mounting dramatic tension via comic relief. It's sure to give our mecha an edge over all the others. Never underestimate the value of something old and cliché!"

Shinji grabbed the air mask that popped down from an overhead compartment.

Alright, he thought. I can do this. I've survived worse. The grappling "combat" Master taught me. Sending me into the city to survive for a month with only ten yen and hot pants. Those marathon massage sessions. I… I can do this.

"Path clear. Ready to launch."

"Sir," he heard Misato say. "Can we really do this?"

"Does the grand spankmaster of Ireland need to work up the toe-sucking conundrum of how to spill his seed all over CD cases of Joseph Stalin eat monkey eat!"

"… launch MazinEva! Unit-01."

Shinji rocketed to the surface. It was a very unpleasant trip, like a poorly designed carnival ride intended to separate your stomach with its contents, thereby forcing you to refill it with stale popcorn and hot dogs made of dead horse/clown meat. He chanced a look up and saw two doors opening for him, sliding apart to reveal the open sky, which was odd, considering he had just been inside a base situated on a tall mountain. He stopped as abruptly as he began, and tried to take stock of his surroundings while searching for the orange machine and retaining his breakfast.

"Okay," Shinji said. "Who exactly am I supposed to be fighting here?"

"Don't you know anything?" Ritsuko shouted. "First battles for rookies are always against poorly defined, unknown enemies in some sort of convoluted, illogical setting. It's the classic trial by fire!"

"Fantastic," Shinji grumbled. He spotted the orange mech flying over the city and gutting several buildings. "Hey. I just thought of something. Are all the civilians evacuated?"

"Define 'all.'"

"Alright, Shinji-kun," Misato cut in. "On your right is a weapons transport building. We're sending up a rifle and a couple rocket launchers, a sword, a shield, maybe a few lasers, whatever we can fit."

"Um… about that…"

"What now, Ritsuko?"

"Well… with all the commotion about launching Unit-01… uh… none of the weapons transports are stocked."

"What!?"

"Damn it, Akagi!"

"Devour mighty staplers!"

"So he's helpless!?"

That's exactly how Shinji felt as he watched the orange robot close in on him. It stopped a block away, staring him down. There was no fear or apprehension in its movements, simply a curiosity stemming from serious battle experience. It raised its spear.

"How do I move this thing!?" Shinji shouted. "Help!"

A small screen popped out from the plug's siding. It crackled with static for a moment, then a small, chibi Ritsuko appeared, waving a flag bearing NERV's logo, a red fig leaf severed in half, with the line 'If You're Reading This, You're Fucked' curving beneath it.

"So you want to know about the MazinEva!, huh?" the chibi Ritsuko asked, as several cats inexplicably started circling her. "Alright! First off, I hope you're in the safe confines of NERV and not in some suicidal battle without any training. If not, please note that NERV has a terrific accidental death clause that will provide for your spouse and/or family. But that's only assuming we like you."

"Help me, Dr. Akagi!"

"First," the cartoon went on. "Please ensure that the blinkers are turned off. If not, they will quickly drain the internal batteries…"

Outside, his foe had tired of waiting, and charged. Shinji screamed in terror.

It was an odd thing, though, growing up on the hard-boiled streets of Kyoto, or wherever. Scraping out an existence and living day to day. It taught one invaluable lessons. About humanity, and human interaction. And about how to stay cool and collected during a possibly violent altercation.

Shinji of course didn't grow up on the mean streets. Living under the careful tutelage of Master Kaji Ryoji, nestled in the heart of the red light district of some Japanese city had given him other types of important life lessons. Things that won't be discussed right now. But as it was, his youth had afforded him many things which he himself often forgot about. For example, faced down with an incensed, possibly hormonal attacker, Shinji's left side of his brain, or right side, whichever controls involuntary reactions… or maybe it's a gland. I don't know. And neither did Shinji. All he knew was that he sidestepped the attack, and spun around with enough time to watch his enemy ram into a low-lying building.

"Ooh! Denied!" someone in NERV said, possibly his father. Shinji was having trouble focusing. Over the din, he heard Misato ask someone how his "synch rate" was.

"Predictably high, ma'am!"

"Excellent. Shinji-kun! Keep attacking! It's us or him!"

He saw, in a blur, the orange machine's spear whip around towards him. Shinji cringed and tried to jump backwards in his seat. To his amazement, the MazinEva! leapt back, just as he had attempted to.

How convenient, he thought, finally realizing how to control the mech.

His victory was short lived as his opponent leaned forward, its single eye glowing brighter and brighter. With a final spark an energy beam… beamed from its eye, blanketing the surrounding area in fiery, molten death. Unit-01 vanished under the assault, and the tactical net strained to relay his scream of agony.

"Shinji-kun!" several people shouted at once, but to save room were expressed as a single action.

As the super scientific city of Tokyo-3 roasted under its hellish barbeque, Shinji crawled to his feet in the MazinEva!, clutching his head.

Of course, he mused bitterly. I get to feel whatever the robot feels. Otherwise, I'd be in no real danger. This sucks.

He had no time to ponder his electric wounds though, as he spotted the Harbinger (I need a new noun for "orange devil," okay? So from now on the bad guys are called Harbingers. There) above his head, swooping down to finish the job. With no weapon to oppose his enemy's, and no time to get away, Shinji braced for impact.

The spear cut through the air, and his left arm, sending the severed limb five miles across the city, landing in one of those shoddily built and poorly secured evacuation shelters. I mean, come on. Unit-02's skull comes crashing into one of those like it was the top floor of a straw hut in that one episode.

But I digress.

Shinji looked down at his missing left hand, wondering how it was his machine was bleeding, right when the sympathetic pain hit him.

Ow, he thought.

A gust of wind brought his attention back to the Harbinger. It alighted before him, pulling back its weapon to skewer his face.

This'll probably hurt, too.

Suddenly, in a flash, and because I said so, through his pain and fear Master Kaji's training rushed to the forefront of his mind. The training that required all that time spent around women with minimal clothing. The hard, grueling instruction of how to relate to females, in various senses, and how to anticipate their thoughts and wants until it became a nearly innate skill, like increasing stamina through aerobics or Misato's rigorous "drink 'til ya pass out" program of building up alcohol tolerance.

Shinji instinctually felt the familiar spark of his senses expanding beyond his body, reaching out to the other machine on nothing but reflexive intuition. And past the layers of metal and destruction he felt… a woman.

Yeah. That's right. Shinji's an empath. But only regarding the female of the species. Makes things easier for me in this single particular situation. Besides, Kaji always struck me as knowing exactly what to say and do in any given situation, like a sixth sense. But I do have a real explanation. Later. Later.

"There's someone in there," Shinji said. "A pilot, just like me." He frowned. "I can't hurt her. Master Kaji always told me to never raise a hand against a woman. Unless they specifically requested it. And even then, only within the confines of a caring, loving environment, with a safety word."

Having no permission or safety word, Shinji sought for a sound way to free the enemy pilot. He briefly considered opening a comm. channel to the other machine, but his regretful failing in mastering his teacher's "female sweet talking" skill stayed his hand. In a move born of desperation, he ducked down to plead for mercy, and the Harbinger fell over his back as it lunged.

Fell over his back, and right into a gas station.

Now, for those of you still bothering to pay attention, you might remember a passage where the Harbinger's eye lit up like a candle. To make this battle, and this chapter go away, I'm making the eye still on fire, which in turn will ignite the gasoline, resulting in a mech-crippling explosion.

To be true to source material, let's say it was a cross-flare. And to stay true to my sense of "drama," let's insert a scene change.


The smoke of the battle still settling around him, Shinji climbed out of the MazinEva! Using a conveniently placed rope ladder he reached the ground, and climbed over the rubble to the big robot that just blew itself up.

"Hello?" he called. "Are you okay? I'm sorry I had to do that, miss. I hope you're alright."

Shinji scaled the mech, employing every agility and strength exercise his sensei had imparted to him. He crested the head and found a release for the skull hatch. He pondered, for a moment, the wisdom of placing the pilot in the head of a humanoid mecha. That seemed to him to be the first place an opponent would aim for.

The opaque hatch lifted, hissing out steam and pressure in a pointless exhibition to delay revealing the identity of the pilot though I'm sure you've all figured it out.

"Hello?" Shinji called into the haze, trying to peer through it. "Miss? I am sorry, but you were attacking my home and, well, I hope you're not injured."

Each passing second only served to increase his worry. He attempted to fan the billowing smoke away, desperate for a look at the pilot.

Oh, what would Master Kaji say now? I can't believe I had to fight a girl without a safety word.

"Miss? Hello…?"

The smoke parted as a flying blue and white blur tackled him and sent both of them several yards to the ground. Shinji was grateful again to his sensei, and the time he had taken strengthening his body with endurance exercises and hot wax. He barely felt the jagged street strike his back.

As he saw a knife heading for his neck, survival instincts that only I knew he possessed right this instant sprang to life and he stopped the attack by blocking her wrist with his forearm. The weapon fell, and Shinji grasped the hand of the female pilot straddling him.

"M-miss! Please! I don't mean you any harm!"

Shinji's eyes widened, getting his first clear view of the girl. She was young, perhaps his age. She was incredibly pale, with striking red eyes and feathery azure hair cradling her face. She was, he thought on an entirely different realm of consciousness, rather pretty. Living with one such as Master Kaji, Shinji had learned to appreciate women of every conceivable type and style. And age. But let's not go there. At least not right now.

But the blood seeping down over her left eye was not lost to him. Nor the fact that she could only use her right arm, which was still in his hand.

"You're hurt! I'm so sorry!"

The girl raised her head, then brought it down it a savage strike. Yet again calling upon his teacher's training, Shinji pivoted his hips and flipped her onto her back before using his legs to pin the girl beneath him, effectively cutting off her resources for attack. Her squirms and kicks were proven ineffective by Shinji's superior thigh strength.

Thanks, Master, he thought. Though how he knew I'd be in life or death situations like this astounds me. He peered down at the girl. Why on earth would a young girl be piloting a robot and destroying the city? Questions, it turned out, that would have to wait. For a future chapter. If I decide to keep this fic alive. And if I remember to ask the questions again. Which I probably won't.

"Shinji!?"

He looked up. Asuka, as well as the rest of the people he had met today stood several yards away from him on the ruined street, openly staring at him. Except his father who was intently focused on how his fingers moved through the air. But the confused, hurt expression covering his childhood friend's face gave him a deep emotional wound. Which would most likely be followed by a bodily one. He completely missed Misato aiming her gun at him.

"Shinji!" Asuka cried again, her eyes growing wet. "What… what on earth are you doing!?"

He imagined how awkward this must look, with a pretty girl trapped between his legs.

"Um…"

"And who the hell is that!?"

He looked to the girl under him, hoping for something, anything. Her face remained a blank mask. Her red eyes narrowed on him.

"I am Zero," she said, so softly that only he could hear. "And I am going to kill you."

Not for the first time this day, Shinji wondered if should have responded to his father's letter. He wished he was still in the mountains receiving training from his sensei, learning the ways of the world.

"I will kill you," Zero repeated. "You would be wise to end my life now."

"I can't kill you, miss. I'm terribly sorry I even hurt you."

The girl cocked an eyebrow, but it was so fast it appeared as nothing more than a mirage.

"You are weak," she stated. "When the next Harbinger attacks, it will crush you."

The next one?

Shinji sighed, since that's the easiest way I have for expressing a monumental fatigue, either emotional of physical. He glanced back at MazinEva! Unit-01, its colorful flames and decals burned away to reveal its dark purple base coat. Oh, and since I skipped a physical description of it before, let's just assume it looks the same as in the series, alright? Now back to the melodrama.

Staring up into its darkened eyes, the young boy couldn't help but feel that this was the start of a long and multi-chapter story. But after a moment, he hoped it wouldn't be.


Round 1! Over!

Author's notes: just a writer's block exercise, without any merit or depth. To be clear, I started getting ideas after a friend of mine showed me Mazinkaiser a couple years ago. It got me thinking about all the familiarities in mecha shows. I actually wasn't into robot series that much before Eva, and now I can't help but poke fun at the genre in general. Although I did enjoy Gundam 0080. I felt it was less preachy and convoluted than most Gundam stuff. Now that I've alienated all the G fans out there, let's move on.

Belay those angry flames, Asuka fans. I have something planned…

Shinji the empath? I have something planned…

Next chapter should be up fairly soon, mostly to explain Asuka's criminal behavior. Though it really shouldn't be much of a mystery. But overall, meh, I'm lukewarm over this fic. I hope my parody rewrite will turn out better. You know, the one where the entire cast is after Shinji; man, woman, Eva, Angel, computer, Pen Pen and me. I still think that's a funny idea.

One more thing. Regarding the rating. I'm going to be hedging the fence between what constitutes a T and M rating. So, yeah, some lime. Nothing much, but it's still in there. And I'm not sure if saying the F word in NERV's logo will get me in trouble. If it does, let's make the most out of it. Fuck.

Points to anyone who knows where the "noodle incident" reference is from. Fuck.