Shin Seiki Evangelion was created by Hideki Anno, and is owned by Gainax. Use of the characters and situations therein are not intended as any challenge of their copyrights.
Mythos elements were created by H. P. Lovecraft and owned by Arkham Publishing.
"Area is secure," reported the Corporal.
The Sergeant nodded, and tapped a control on his wrist. "Lieutenant, we've secured the main computer room."
"Any luck bypassing the lockouts?"
"No." The Sergeant glanced over at a PFC. "It seems that the computer is almost...fighting back against us."
"Can you shut it down?"
"I can, but then it won't be any use to us."
"It also won't be of any use to them. My authorization, Sergeant; shut it down."
"Understood." The sergeant looked back at the PFC. "Private, take that machine down."
"The system's fighting the shutdown command. I can do it, but it might not come back up."
The PFC nodded, and unlimbered his rifle. "Suggest you clear the room, Sergeant."
- - - - -
Tail Kinker Presents
- - - - -
"That's it." Hyuuga took off his headphones. "They've taken down the computer."
"They overrode the security lockouts?"
He shook his head. "No, I suspect they blew it up."
"Okay." Misato scowled. "What can we do to defend this location without the computer?"
"Blast doors are already sealed, and without the computer, they can't re-open them."
"Good." She glanced over at Maya. "Status of Unit One?"
"They haven't reached it yet. But with the MAGI down, we won't be able to control it."
"That's all right. Shinji has demonstrated that he doesn't need the MAGI for control."
"There's another problem," said Aoba. "With the blast doors locked down...he can't reach Shogoki."
- - - - -
The firefight had reached the lower levels. NERV troops, unaware of the situation, had fallen back slowly, saturating the enemy forces with fire. But they were badly outnumbered, and had no heavy weapons.
The Colonel advanced behind his troops, reporting in to the Brigadier as each checkpoint was reached and secured. The JSSDF soldiers were backed by an engineering company, who were charged with breaching each blast door in their path.
The Colonel waved a commo tech over, and took the field radio headset from him. "Sir, we've got almost complete control of sub-level D. Isolated pockets of resistance remain."
"Keep those pockets bottled up, but don't worry too much about them. Proceed to sub-level E, and Terminal Dogma."
"Sir, I don't--"
"That's an order, Colonel."
The Colonel drew a breath. "Sir, yes sir. But it is my duty to remind the Brigadier that forces left on our flanks could cut us off from support."
The Brigadier paused. "You are correct, Colonel. However, once your objective is achieved at Terminal Dogma, there will be no need to worry about that."
The Colonel frowned. "Yes, sir." He disconnected the radio, and glanced over at the Captain of the engineering company. "Have you been briefed on Terminal Dogma?"
"Yes, sir." The Captain consulted his palmtop computer. "Foot-thick steel blast doors. We brought twenty-four burning charges specifically to cut those doors open."
The Colonel clicked his microphone. "Able Company and Echo Company. Advance to sub-level E and complete mission objective."
- - - - -
Something thumped on the blast door. Misato waved two NERV soldiers forward. "Take cover behind the consoles. When I give the word, we'll be falling back via emergency exits."
The technician had an access panel open on the floor, and had been fighting with the mechanical equipment underneath. "Yes, ma'am?"
"I've got the mechanics hooked up, but it will be at least another two minutes before we can cycle these doors." Hyuuga scowled at the hydraulics, and added, "probably longer."
"Okay." Misato drew her sidearm, and crouched behind a console.
The outline of the blast door glared brilliantly, as shaped charges burned their way through its actuators. The door crumpled inwards, melted, shrapnel spraying across the command deck. Misato waited until the noise faded, and yelled, "This area is secure!"
No troops came through the doorway. A voice yelled back, "Captain Katsuragi! Surrender, and I guarantee the lives of your crew."
"No. For your heresy and treason against the Old Ones, you are sentenced to death. But you can save your crew."
Misato glanced over at the soldier next to her. "It almost seems worth it."
"You gonna take him up on it?"
"No." She grinned. "I know they have no intention of letting anyone leave here alive." She turned back towards the door. "Give me two minutes to consider."
The voice from the doorway responded, "You have twenty seconds."
- - - - -
Shinji scowled at the scene before him. Thirty soldiers, perhaps more, clustered around the blast door sealing the cages. He'd had a hard time dealing with three, even with Shogoki's help.
Four of the soldiers were attaching something to the blast doors. He realized that they were explosive devices.
He looked down at the submachine gun in his hands. He doubted he could kill all of them with it...but he needed to reach Shogoki.
Do not fear the Dream.
He turned, startled, but there was no-one there.
Do not retreat.
"Rei?" He whispered her name, almost like a prayer.
I fear to be alone tonight.
"Rei? Where are you?"
I Dream. Freedom from fear and from pain.
"The Dreamlands." His eyes widened. "You escaped."
"What can I do? How can I get past those goons, to Shogoki?"
Memories flooded into his mind. Memories of their days in the Dreamlands. And he realized what she meant.
"I don't know if I'm as strong as you, Rei."
I choose my own path. The sound of drums...
He closed his eyes. Remembered the moment Rei died, his name her last word. Remembered Asuka's death, the memory passed through Rei.
These people, outside the door. They served another master. The DAGON Council. The Council were responsible for Asuka's death. They had awoken the Old Ones. They had brought Cthulhu, who had killed Rei.
And now, their soldiers were trying to kill Misato. Himself. Shogoki.
He checked the chamber on the submachine gun, then stepped around the corner. He brought the gun up to his shoulder, stock snug to his cheek, and squeezed the trigger.
The Heckler and Koch MP5A3 was designed with low recoil and silenced operation in mind. He walked the rounds across the group of soldiers, watching them crumple under his fire. In less than two seconds, the gun locked open on an empty chamber, and the troopers had only just started to realize that they were taking fire.
Many were already down, wounded or dead, but three turned towards him, weapons raised.
"Kill him, now!"
He smirked, and raised the Barrier. Bullets impacted it, ricocheting off into the walls. He raised his hand, traced the Lesser Sign, and a wave of heat incinerated the front line of soldiers.
"How the fuck is he doing that?"
He willed the Lance into existence, and leaped down the hallway, carving into them.
- - - - -
A grenade bounced into the room, and Misato yelled. "Get down!"
Shrapnel peppered the console, and she shook her head to clear the ringing. "Return fire!"
The two soldiers hammered the doorway with weapons fire, and Misato drew a bead, waiting. One emptied his magazine, and as he paused to reload, two JSSDF troopers leaned out, bringing their own weapons to bear. Misato shot one through the head, and the other ducked back under cover.
"Hyuuga! What's the status on that hatch?"
"Thirty more seconds!"
"Everyone fall back to the escape hatch!" Misato fired three more rounds, waited until she saw the rest of the staff at the hatch, then fell back to the next console back.
The two NERV soldiers remained, firing into the doorway.
"No, ma'am." One of them dropped back down behind the console to reload. "We'll cover your retreat."
"You can't beat them! They'll be bringing up the heavy weapons soon."
"Then you'd better get out of here, ma'am." He cycled the bolt on his submachine gun, bringing it back into battery.
"Hatch is open!"
Misato turned to the staff. "Go. Just jump in, and the slides will take you down to sub-level C."
Maya was the first down, followed by Fuyutsuki. Misato watched as the rest followed them, then turned back to the troopers. "Okay, everyone's away. Let's go, fall back!"
"Can't." The Corporal shook his head. "We can't let them take the hatch, or they'll follow you. Get through, and we'll seal it behind you."
"Dammit, that's an order! Fall back!"
"Ma'am." The Corporal fit his last magazine to the submachine gun. "It has been an honour to serve you."
Misato locked eyes with him, then nodded. And jumped down the hatch.
"Private, seal that hatch, then blow the controls."
"Yes, Corp." The Private moved to the hatch controls, and the Corporal popped back up, suppressing the door. The clip didn't last long; the UMP10 didn't fire as fast as the MP5, but it had a smaller magazine. Only three seconds until it locked open.
"Hatch sealed." The Private pulled a grenade from his belt, yanked the pin from it and dropped it into the access panel. He moved back to the console, tossed a clip to the Corporal. The crack of the grenade made them wince, but the Corporal smiled.
"That will slow them down." He loaded the clip, and yanked back the charging handle. "Think they'll accept our surrender?"
"I don't think so, Corp." The Private dropped his submachine gun, and pulled another grenade.
"Then let's make sure we take a large honour guard with us to hell."
- - - - -
He turned, to see the bridge staff approaching, Misato in the lead.
"We managed to get away. What's going on down here?"
"I've seen where they're going." He rubbed his temple. "Shogoki showed me. They're going to try to destroy Shub-Niggurath."
"The Old One, in Terminal Dogma?" Misato frowned. "I thought they wanted to save the Old Ones."
"No. The DAGON Council wanted to protect Cthulhu. With Cthulhu dead, now they want to make sure that NERV doesn't come after them." He smiled. "If Shub-Niggurath dies, then Shogoki dies."
"Is there any way we can stop them?"
He shook his head. "There's too many there. But they can't hurt him."
"Only an EVA."
"Yes. Rei predicted that two EVA would be needed to kill Shub-Niggurath, but that was while he was contained." He turned to face the titanic Evangelion. "Now, we have one, and DAGON's soldiers will fail to kill Shub-Niggurath."
"They will only succeed in freeing him." He turned back to Misato. "Get everyone out. Evacuate completely. I will stop Shub-Niggurath."
"You just told me that you would need two EVA."
"To kill him. I need merely slow him down."
"No!" Misato screamed. "No-one else is dying for me!"
"Shub-Niggurath will destroy all the Sleepers, for he has seen that we can destroy him and his kind." His voice took on the eerie timber that told her that it was Shogoki speaking, not Shinji. "But there is a chance for survival for your kind, and for the Sleepers."
"What are you talking--"
"Our blood flows in your veins, Captain Katsuragi." He smiled. "It is still dormant, for you are less than five percent Deep One. But you know that your father came from Okinawa."
Her eyes widened. "You mean..."
"You will go into the sea. We have seen it in your blood."
"No..." She crumpled to her knees.
"Do not fear it. It is part of who you are, just as it is part of who we are."
"Oh, my God." Her hand clutched at her cross.
"This is why your mind survives the sight of an Old One. This is why you have survived wounds that would kill a Sleeper." His hand touched her face. "This is why we know you will survive the Third Impact."
"How...how many others?"
"All of NERV's staff were selected from those with Deep One blood." He smiled. "All but the Commander and his aide. We have seen that Shub-Niggurath will not harm those of the blood. But you must take them from here, or he will destroy you for imprisoning him."
Misato nodded, and stood. "I'll get them out." Impulsively, she drew him into an embrace.
He returned it, then stepped back, a smile on his face. "We will miss you, Dreamer of Water."
"I will miss both of you." She turned back to the crew. "All right, let's go! Tunnel 17C will take us to the Geofront, then from there, we can get out to the surface. Let's move, the clock is ticking!"
- - - - -
Why did you lie to her, Dreamer Shinji?
I did not lie. What We plan, they will survive.
Once again, They were one. No plug this time, no suit, no A20 link. Merely two bodies, merged into one. Two minds, with one goal.
The service shaft was too narrow for Their wings, so They furled them, and dropped like a stone. Near the bottom, Their arms reached out, slowing their fall, Their claws tearing up the metal. They reached the bottom of the shaft, and tore the bulkhead from their path.
Beyond was Terminal Dogma.
Twenty massive graves, still open. Each contained an Evangelion, one that had died before successful activation. The score of graves formed a circle, and at the center of the circle was Shub-Niggurath.
They had seen him in nightmares. Thousands of weaving tentacles, some as slender as a Sleeper's arm, others thicker around than Themselves.
The Sleeper soldiers will breach the door to Terminal Dogma. We must stop them.
We cannot. What will be, will be.
The door sizzled, a seven-foot circle blazing into brilliant light as explosive devices cut their way through the steel. The blast lanced out into Terminal Dogma, starting several fires, and destroying one of the guardposts that held Shub-Niggurath prisoner. A thousand voices rose from the Old One, as he renewed his struggle to escape.
Through the newly formed gap, dozens of soldiers poured through. But these were ordinary humans. Not descendants of the Deep Ones, like the Dreamers. They had no protection from the awesome presence of Shub-Niggurath.
Memories of the Old Ones ran deep within each Sleeper's soul, far deeper than they could know. The incredible power of an Old One, the utter terror they represented, and the simple insignificance of mankind was brought to bear on them. Their minds snapped like brittle twigs. Many simply died, their bodies crumpling on the spot; others broke, screaming and running. One raised a recoilless rifle, intending to attack the horror before him, but had apparently failed to properly operate the weapon; it exploded in his hands, killing him.
They smirked. They honestly felt that they could destroy him.
IS THAT NOT WHY YOU ARE HERE?
No. We have come in an attempt to save what lives we can.
THERE IS NO REASON FOR ME TO SPARE ANYONE
And there is no way for me to convince you otherwise. Therefore, we must do battle with you, to buy them time to escape.
ANY ATTEMPT ON ME IS A FUTILE WASTE OF YOUR LIFE, AS YOU HAVE NO CHANCE TO DEFEAT ME
They nodded; They had expected this. But the Lance formed within Their hands, and They leaped forward. The Barrier containing the Old One failed before They got halfway there, and several tentacles lashed out, wrapping Their body completely.
- - - - -
IT WAS FOOLISH OF YOU TO ATTACK ME
Most likely correct, but what else could he do? Misato and the others had to get away, as far away as possible.
NO MATTER THE DISTANCE THAT THEY FLEE, THEY CANNOT ESCAPE MY CHILDREN
The Thousand Young. Had he not faced them already, in the battle against Nug and Yeb?
WHILE I WAS ASLEEP, CONTROL OF THE YOUNG PASSED TO THE STRONGEST OF THEM
Was that why Shub-Niggurath had kept him alive? To punish him for destroying his Children?
DEATH COMES TO ALL, BUT TO THE WEAKEST FIRST
Yes. Everyone died. There was no exception to this.
IN THE END, SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST IS THE ONLY UNIVERSAL LAW
Survival was important, no doubt about this. The two most basic human instincts, survival and reproduction, and what was reproduction but another form of survival. Of the species, not of the individual. Nigoki had failed to understand this, though it was not his fault.
HE WAS ONE OF MY YOUNG
Not a surprise.
SO WAS THE ONE YOU CALLED SHOGOKI
Was she dead, too?
DEATH COMES TO ALL
So what mattered, since everyone died, was how death would find them.
THE MANNER IN WHICH IT ARRIVES IS IRRELEVANT
Maybe to an Old One, but not to a human.
His mind expanded, touched on the minds of those he had encountered in this strange city. On Misato, witnessing the last moments of a pair of soldiers that she didn't even know by name. He watched, sharing her sense of despair and grief as they chose to cover the escape of the bridge crew, paying for it with their own lives.
On his father, who fought to rid the world of the Old Ones, so that none others would feel the pain that he had endured. Learned that it had been he who ordered the destruction of the Deep One City in the Pacific, the attack that had killed his mother. Learned of his revulsion at the discovery of the tainted blood that filled Shinji's own veins. And the moment of Gendo's death, the only regret being that he had not saved humanity.
He watched as Toji struggled with the death of his sister, turning himself into an instrument of vengeance. He witnessed the terrifying events surrounding his selection and development as a Pilot, until his very soul was destroyed by an Old One. He recalled that he had still not spent time grieving for his sometime friend, sometime enemy.
He watched as a man he'd known only from Asuka's descriptions and dreams succumbed to poison and dehydration, still struggling to deliver his last message to the woman he loved.
He watched as Aida's mind snapped, his Deep One blood not running thick enough to protect him from the sight of the Wendigo. He had chosen to be there, at that battle, as he felt he owed it to Shinji, and it had cost him his life. He tasted the boy's gratitude as Misato ordered the euthanization of his still-breathing corpse, freeing him from his nightmares at last.
He watched as Ritsuko fought to uncover the truth, driving herself to face her own demons and turn against the man she loved. He felt her heart break as she realized the degree to which she had been betrayed, minutes before it was destroyed by a 9mm slug.
He tasted Asuka's pain and shame at discovering that she was the worst of three Pilots, to be trained by one she despised. To be surpassed at everything by the other that she hated. Felt her grow in confidence with her Evangelion, until she and Nigoki were one. He felt Nigoki's mounting terror as she was slowly consumed by her own inner demon, and his final desperate act to save her soul. And he felt the love for him, that had driven her to cross space and time to save him.
He had dreaded the last, but touched on it now. Rei. He felt her love for him, beyond anything she could comprehend. Save that it had driven her to sacrifice herself to save him.
SHE DIED IN VAIN
YOU WILL DIE HERE, AND HER SACRIFICE WILL BE WASTED
- - - - -
Misato stepped back, raising her pistol, as massive tentacles broke through the pavement.
"Fuck! Get back, go around the other way!" She emptied the pistol into the monster before her. "Aoba, is there another way to the airstrip?"
"Yeah, if we hurry." Aoba was half-carrying Maya; the woman had collapsed in shock at the appearance of the Old One. "We can take L Street, but if we don't move it, that thing can cut us off."
"Then go, take them with you." Misato fell back, ejecting the spent clip and jamming another one in. "I can't stop this thing, but maybe I can keep it busy."
"It's ignoring us, for now."
"It won't stay that way." She raised the pistol, but Hyuuga grabbed her arm.
"Ma'am, we don't need you to slow it down. Come on!"
She stared at him, then nodded. "Okay, let's go. Maya, we've got to run!"
- - - - -
Across the planet, the Thousand Young arose.
In Tiannenmen Square, a squalling nightmare burst forth, scattering thousand-year-old masonry. Lacking the knowledge gained at great cost by NERV, the Chinese government sent the entire People's Army against it, to no avail.
In Boston, the creature surfaced off the shore, and quickly moved into town, tearing up buildings and killing indiscriminately. In desperation, the U.S. Air Force hit the town with a thermonuclear warhead. This had the sole result of killing every living person that had been spared by the Old One. The monster itself was completely unharmed.
The Sea of Galilee boiled madly as the creature lying at the bottom rose from the dead. The Israeli government did not move against it. They already knew that their fates were sealed, though the reasons behind it escaped them.
The European Union closed ranks to assault the monster that tore its way through St. Peter's Square. Many spoke of Armageddon, or of Ragnarok, or one of a hundred other predictions of the end of the world. Knowledge of their impending death hampered the soldiers of the Union, but it mattered little. Their deaths were as pre-ordained as though their prophecies were true. All that changed was the form it took.
The Australian desert exploded in a cloud of sand and horror. The Royal Australian Armed Forces had been briefed on the Old Ones, and did not attempt to engage it. Instead, they concentrated on trying to evacuate their island nation. Even if the means to do so had existed, they did not yet realize that there was nowhere else to go.
- - - - -
DO YOU SEE, NOW, THAT YOUR RACE IS DOOMED?
He had had no doubt of this. Humanity had stuck its finger in a hornet's nest. His own father had brought this upon the species, in his selfish desire for vengeance.
YOUR SELF-SACRIFICE WAS, DOUBTLESS, NOBLE BY THE STANDARDS OF YOUR KIND, BUT ULTIMATELY IRRELEVANT
There, Shub-Niggurath was mistaken. Yes, he could now feel the minds of every person on Earth. Taste their joys, their pain. Their fear. But Rei, Asuka, Shogoki, even his own mother, had given him a gift that now could be used to his own advantage.
YOU CANNOT SAVE THEM
Could it be that Shub-Niggurath was not all-knowing?
MY EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE VASTLY OUTWEIGHS YOUR OWN
Yes, most certainly. After all, he was only fifteen, and only Shub-Niggurath knew how old Shub-Niggurath was. But he knew one thing that Shub-Niggurath did not. Just a small thing. But it was there.
He knew about fear.
I FEAR NOTHING
That was his point.
The Old Ones were vastly more powerful than almost anything they had encountered. They survived by being mighty. Humanity was vastly weaker than almost anything else on the planet. To survive, they had had to rely on their fear, until that fear drove them to learn things to replace it.
But the oldest and most fundamental fear of all still remained. Fear of the Old Ones. The fear that had been bred into every human who ever lived, imprinted on their genes.
That fear had been sublimated, and humans still believed in things, even in this age of science, beyond their knowledge. Things like Loki. Raiden. Ma Yuan. Nergal. Hades. Jehovah. Fear of nature. Fear of the unknown, of the unnatural. Fear of disease, of death. Fear evolved into worship. But at the core, it remained fear.
And now, across the planet, groups of humans fell into prayer. At that moment, their minds were open, and Shinji could touch them. Only a tiny percentage had the potential to Dream, mostly those with Deep One blood. But those, he drew towards him.
Shub-Niggurath fell silent, perhaps not caring what action he took at this point. He felt the pressure on his body increase, and knew that his time on this plane was at best measured in seconds.
In his mind's eye, he saw the door open, and a thousand points of will flooded through the gates. Joyfully, he cast himself into the river.
- - - - -
He was in a village.
Small houses crowded the narrow streets. Everywhere he looked, there were cats. Sitting on windowsills, standing on barrels, perched on fences. Staring at him.
He wandered through the streets and roads of the village. The houses were of a wide variety of constructions, mostly old. In the sky above, he could see two moons.
He turned a corner, and saw them.
Asuka. A haughty smile, offset by the haunted look in her eyes.
Misato. Confident, steadfast, and obviously bewildered.
His mother. A warm smile of welcome on her face.
She stepped up to him, the mask cast aside, and reached for his hands.