Chapter 16

CATOcylsm: Cessation


Although the motive came from within, the form taken by the cult has appeared to many to be of non-Israelite origin. Babylonia and Assyria, however, seem to be out of the question: malik, "arbiter, decider," is there an epithet of various gods, and as an appellative means "prince" and not king; further, little evidence for the prevalence of human sacrifice has as yet been found in those lands (A. Jeremias, Das Alte Test. im Lichte d. alten Orients, 2nd ed., p. 454). Among the Canaanite branch, the king-god is more prominent, and apart from the Ammonite variant Milcom, numerous names compounded with Milk- are found on Phoenician inscriptions and among western Semites mentioned in cuneiform literature (H. Zimmern, Keilinschr. u. das Alte Test., 3rd ed. pp. 470 sqq.). It is true that child-sacrifice in connexion with fire prevailed among the Phoenicians, and, according to the Greeks, the deity honoured with these grisly rites was Kronos (identified with the Phoenician El, "God"). On the other hand, the seat of the cult appears to have been at Jerusalem, and the period during which it flourished does not favour any strong Phoenician influence. Again, the form of the word Tophet and Ahaz's association with Damascus might point to an Aramaean origin for the cult; but it would not be safe to support this view by the statements and names in 2 Kings xvii. 31. On the whole, the biblical tradition that the Molech-cult was Canaanite and indigenous (Deut. xii. 29 sqq., xviii. 9 seq.) holds the ground. There was a tendency in time of misfortune to revert to earlier rites (illustrated in some ancient mourning customs), and it may have been some old disused practice revived under the pressure of national distress.

- Encyclopædia Britannica (1911). Rumours that the first printing was halted, and the books pulped, are entirely false; likewise, there was no scandal which was hushed up by the family of the editor-in-chief.


The Herald surfaced.

This was not a simple process. For, you see, the assumption had been made that the creature would be perhaps the size of an Evangelion, as per all the previous examples of such entities. Even the longest, Yam, had been only roughly an order of magnitude longer than the Evangelions.

Shinji felt a sudden pulse, one of sheer, unadulterated terror, as the crystalline fracture of an AT-Field emerged from over the horizon to the south. For a sudden timeless moment, he froze, as his brain refused to process the scale of the object. It tore through a mountain as it rose and rose and rose, its unnatural, impossible luminescence shining brightly through the clouds of ash and rock from the volcanoes that its passage had induced, magma spewing out around, like a veil of mist. A plume of dust that swirled and embraced it, climbed past the entity high into the stratosphere, lightning and thunder boomed as static charges gathered in the environment, the blast of debris rushing over the surface of the earth, roiling and boiling and tumbling.

As for the beast itself; how to describe it? It was not altogether akin to the bloated ray-like things which dwell at the bottoms of the deepest abysses of the tumescent oceans, consuming the constant shower of carcasses which rain down upon the depths, where no light is ever seen. Nor was is purely arachnid, many eyes staring forth beyond a hardened carapace covered in hair-like protrusions. It was not the long-dead carcass of a whale, rotting around bleached bones, nor the slime-coated bulk of a gastropod mollusc, shell stripped from it by evolutionary processes, nor was it a thing with the smooth, precise curves which normally came only from design and manufacture, from technological origin. It was none of these things, for it took elements from all, and combined them into an abominable form which became, in the eye of the viewer the original; something which ray and spider and scorpion and rotting whale and slug and even manufactured good all partook of, but did not encompass, it.

And its dimensions were best measured in kilometres. The precise size could not be judged, for the lack of objects to scale it to, combined with the way that it seemed to shift and pulsate as it moved, sometimes close and large, sometimes far away and absolutely massive, meant that no clear reference could be obtained.

With one colossal mass; not quite a tentacle, not quite a wing, not quite a protruding bone, it reached out, the air screaming as air molecules were torn half by the infinitesimal edge of the AT-Field that embraced the appendage. Such finesse was not needed, though, as the shear momentum behind the suddenly-flat plane of ruptured space-time crushed a Swarm Ship like a cardboard box, the D-Engines rupturing before being subsumed by the forced nature of the jagged and decidedly not flat Minskowski space-time that the Guard of Yog-Sothoth bore with it. The impact, brief though it was, gave a slight scale of the beast.

Shinji realised he was screaming only when his lungs emptied of LCL. He took a gulp, and continued, frozen to the spot.

Misato stared up at the autocensored image on the display, multiple angles from E-9s scattered all around the island, mouth open. With a sudden, violent swirl of motion, she turned, and, eyes filled with unconstrained rage, grabbed Agent Tome by the throat, lifting the albino off the floor, as he choked and struggled.

"How the fuck were we supposed to capture that, you bastard!" she screamed at him in Japanese, spittle spraying over his face.

"It... wasn't meant... be that," he managed in the same language, around the hand clamped around his throat. "Also... no Migou."

With the violence born of lack of restraint, she threw him to the ground, turning her back even before he had finished tumbling, panting heavily. The man just lay on the floor, clutching at his throat and gasping.

"Right!" the Major yelled. "Someone get CATO Command and tell those Admirals and Field Marshalls I want the Herald nuked until it's deader than... a very dead thing! And if the Migou are going to a-matter my pilots, they've got no damn reason to protest about this. And since I've seen Herald survive atomics before, they'd better use the big stuff." She paused, coughing, and sucking in much needed air. "Listen to me, you three," she said to the Evangelion pilots, a little bit of the rage leaving her voice. "You must run away. Listen to me. You must run away. Let the Migou get killed like this. We'll come up with a new plan when we can see what it can do," she added, her voice unsteady as doubt infiltrated it. "Asuka and Shinji, meet up with Rei at the location we're transmitting. You two are closer to it; get away."

"But what will that do?" protested Asuka, hyperventilating lungfuls of LCL. "What can we do..."

"Do... not be worried," stated Rei, her voice somewhat shaky.

That seemed to drag Shinji back. "You... it'll turn out all right?" he asked, desperately. "Are you... have you... are you sure?"

"You misunderstand. Worry is not useful." She coughed twice, a spluttering of LCL. "We... we should perform our orders to the best of our capabilities, without letting others..."

"Schnauze! Halt die Schnauze!" roared Asuka over the communications, before switching back to English. "Just shut up! Not helping!"

"Both of you, do as I say and just run!" ordered the Major, her voice shaking with somewhat omnidirectional anger. "Don't bicker; get away from it! Get back to the resupply point"

The twin figures of the Test Model and the Mass Production model turned, and fled from the monstrosity which had torn its way from the flesh of the Earth, as, behind them, the radiance of the AT-Field and the burning glow of the magma that spewed from the open wound fought for dominance.


The column of Faithful survivors made their way through the tunnels beneath the city (although now, perhaps, the term "ruins" was more accurate) of Dagon'uvtu Oraribyrapr, a snaking column largely composed of children in heavy coats, their filtration masks covering their features. Less than one in seven of the individuals in the line were in the armour that they had taken from the military supplies; proper modern gear, not the Cold War II era equipment of the militia. That had been handed down, to the elder children, who now displayed a disparate mismatch of whatever gear could be spared; helmets and webbing over the civilian warm clothing and filtration masks. The very earth was shaking frequently now, even after the terrible set of earthquakes had seemingly stopped. The dust on the floors danced continuously, the air filled with a haze which was disturbingly similar to NEG emfog. The squalling of small children could be heard from all around.

One of these older children, sent back as a runner to the middle of the line, arrived, panting beneath his mask.

"Veer'thyne'yrnq-re," he managed, pronouncing it correctly, "up ahead... the tunnel's collapsed. It's just rocks and stuff."

Khonatqa muttered curses to herself in Ry'lehan, then glanced to the shorter figures of her half-sisters beside her. Well, from the way that the elder one, a handgun on a sling around her neck that had originally been designed for carbines, was covering up the younger one's ears, she at the very least already knew what they meant.

"We're going to have to go up, use one of the hidden access tunnels to get out," she said. "Look at the walls," she pointed at a cluster of Ry'lehan hieroglyphics, "you can read that we're below..." she squinted, "... Cra-gr'k Industrial. It'll just be a short bit across the surface, and we can get back down. Spread the message that everyone has to be sure that all their gear is sealed, that their weapons are ready, and that the small children are under control."

The runner nodded, and left. The noise level in the tunnels rose, as everyone checked their gear, or looked at the suits of the little ones, checking that the LEDs were still blue-green. If they went red, that meant that there was a breach. They were those colours, because that way it ensured that both human and Deep One alike could read them; yellow would have been unseen to Deep Ones, just as infra-red would have been to humans.

"Yhu, I want you to cover your ears," Ghuhulia said to her little sister, once she had done her own and checked Yhughui'ne's. "I just want to talk to the Veer'thyne'yrnq-re, and I don't want you to get scared. 'kay? I'm not going to leave you."

The five-year old nodded, the mask that covered her entire head under the hood sliding around, slightly too large, then she clamped overly large gloves over where her ears would be.

Khonatqa stared down at the CW2 gas-mask staring up at her, and momentarily suppressed a shiver.

"A lot of people are going to die doing this, aren't they?" the little girl said softly, muffled even further by the mask."

"Maybe," Khonatqa admitted. "But only if we stumble into the blasphemers."

"Mummy's already dead, isn't she." The words were not a question. "Gulifr'kre too, though he's not really that important, as he's not my real daddy."

A blast shook the ceiling, the lights flickering.

Khonatqa nodded. Almost certainly; it was a mild shame. Raguelle hadn't been that bad a worker, though a little lazy. "And, no, he wasn't important."

"I dr-dr-dreamed it, and I tried to explain it to her, and she didn't l-listen and I didn't tell h-her it properly because... because I was scared that she'd get worried," the eight-year old let out in a burble. "She just th-th-thought I was talking about the fact that she wa-wasn't one of the Blooded and was going to die like that rather than like this. B-bu-but we're go-going to die. We're all going to d-die."

The lights flickered again, the whispering buzzing noise of the panels audible as they flicked on and off repeatedly.

The older woman took in a breath, air rushing over her gills as well as into her lungs, and let it out. "Dreams are just dreams, most of the time. Only the most favoured among the Blooded and Chosen can ever become a sh'gher fr're and receive visions of the future from Cthulhu'ybeq or ]Dagon'ybeq. You're just feeling guilty because..."

Another runner appeared. "Veer'thyne'yrnq-re," this one, this time a teenage girl, too young for her first pregnancy, said, "we've got the hatch open. We can start getting people up the ladder, the other Veer'thyne looked up, and it seemed to be safe."

"W-what are you going to do about the sha'tbvq-nyvra," said Ghuhalia, keeping her face turned away her little sister, who still obediently had her gloves clamped over the side of her filtration hood, stopping the little girl from seeing her tear-filled eyes.

"Get ready to move out, then," ordered Khonatqa. She paused, as the words of her half-sister filtered through her ears. "Wait, what?"

"They're already h-here..." whispered Ghuhalia. "And there's... s-s-some w-w-worse th-things out there. I've seen them in m-m-my dreams." She turned up, and locked wet eyes with the half-sister who she had not know about before today. "F-f-fire sweeping over the earth. And s-s-so many bodies."


"You are instructed to obtain a strategic missile launch. It will always be possible to blame it on the Dagonites later. It has been deemed better for you to beg forgiveness over the corpse of a Herald than ask permission."

"We're going to have to go through GATCN. The President is there."

There was a pause.

"The President is aware of what is happening, and retains active control?"

"They had to bring her in, after the first Dagonite nuclear weapons. It's not as if you can keep that kind of thing secret."

"That's a problem." There was an intake of breath. "If there had not been contact, it would have been possible that a minister or command Triumvirate could have authorised it, in such an emergency. That would have been a trivial exercise"


The drumming of fingers.

"Permission for a LANCE deployment will be refused."

"Almost certainly."

"That is an issue. Although other paths to obtain such a thing exist, it is not desirable that those methods be revealed yet."

A shrug.

"We can still ask."

"It is not that. It is merely that... well, she has the potential to be inconvenient. And if there is one thing that this situation does not need, it is... inconvenience."


The soul-blasted remains of the Weny Komdy had been joined by another Loyalist, the look of profound horror on his face locked in by impossibly rapid rigour mortis.

"New target assigned," stated Kantya-14. "Temporary Loyalist command centre located by other Eidelon Combat Units."

"They are laying SCU cables for high emfog comms," continued Kantya-15, in an identical monotone, without a break. "Any high value targets are to prepared for extraction, and the communications systems eliminated."

"Objectives update understood," answered Foxtrot-813, ensconced within the stolen Loyalist power armour. "Data squirt received. Route determined." He paused. "Estimated threat levels noted," he stated. "This unit will take vanguard position."

"Agreed, Foxtrot-813," said Kantya-12. "Note the presence of Loyalist Elites."

"Presence was noted. Ready to move on command."

The four Replica Elites, their changing colour of their armour blending into the surroundings, and the stolen power armour left through the breached door to the rest of the Dagonite tunnel network through which they had arrived. There were occasional wet noises, as the Oyanari stood on the corpses, torn apart by hypervelocity railgun slugs, energy weapons, or occasionally just riddled with bullets, that they had created in their arrival.

Somewhere in the ruins of a factory, a almost unnoticeable floor tile cracked, the dust covering it puffing into the air. A second blow served to clear the opening, before the power armour emerged from the hole, like a rather technophilic and militant Venus from the depths of the ocean. Only with more climbing and dust, and less sea-foam and naked babies with wings.

With a tinkling, the lock fell out of the ruined hatch.

Looking around, it could be seen that the battle had raged through here already. The roof was entirely missing, its remnants obscuring the scorched and melted remains of murals painted on the floor. The production line was a charred mess of metal and plastics, fused solid where the plastic had not burned. At one end of the room, superior senses of the Replicas could discern discarded shell casings of AW1-era automatic weapons, and a few of the pre-booster stages of anti-tank missiles; a few of their users scattered around in the area, unmoving. High above, the booms of supersonic air units spoke of their presence in the fire-lit smoke and clouds, as Migou [combat-form/networks], now deprived of their capital-grade support, still pushed back the New Earth Government Navy aircraft.

The two footprints dug deep into the floor, the right size for a forty-metre tall arcanocyberxenobiological war machine, drawing a line between two gaps in the walls, and the fact that one entire half of the building, and everything visible through the hole, was nothing more than flat slagged glass, was also a bit of a clue.

"Clear," reported 813, as he swiftly moved into cover, lowering the profile of the armour next to what looked like the remains of an arm. "No hostiles visible. There's widespread devastation from unknown high energy discharge... plasma, probably. It appears too widespread for a charge beam, and the distribution is wrong for a laser."

In pairs, the Elite followed him, dispersing behind the remnants of the infrastructure, their armour fading to a dusty splotchy grey, overlain with amorphous shapes which merely broke their image up further. All five of the Eidelon Units threw repeated glances at the slagged mess, and the footprints. The glass, digging down into the hellish landscape, was still radiating heat. It was fortunate that the tunnels they had used had not passed under that mess; they would have been fused solid.

"Potential threat or hazard to the mission?" asked Kantya-15 over the network, the Replicas in close enough proximity to punch through the emfog. "Negative. Projected probability is that damage was inflicted by prototype Evangelion Titan-class capital unit."

"Affirmed," added Kantya-14. "Projection matches personal estimates."

"Dissenting opinion," retorted, insofar as such a term can be applied to a monotone, Kantya-12. "It was the Mass Production model, not the Prototype."

"I did not say that it was the Prototype," said Kantya-15. "I did not specify which unit it was. I agree with your projection on the Unit ID, however."

"Yes, you did," responded Kantya-12.

"No, I did not. I stated that the Evangelion Units are prototypes."

The earth shook, as the clouds above lit up briefly in a white light, only to die off again.

"The Mass Production Model is not. Hence the name. Technically, neither is the Test Model. The majority are not prototypes."

"But they are still prototypes, compared to the Engel units, which have been implemented in much greater numbers and use the same fundamental technology as the base."

"Both of you, shut up," stated Kantya-13, in a way which would have been described as flat, had the Replica possessed a more expanded emotional repertoire. "Your behaviour is inefficient, abnormal, and not necessary for the mission. Desist."

"I await further instructions," said Foxtrot-813, who had been listening to the conversation with hints of confusion. This kind of internal debate was unusual among the normal Eidelon Combat Units. The fact that he had not been able to contact Command since the initial blast just made things more problematic; it meant that he was unable to receive or request the necessary support that the tightly organised powered armour units normally received. It was probably a consequence of the additional independence that a commando unit would require, although they seemed to have no problem receiving messages. "What formation should we use to advance?"

"Satru-4," stated Kantya-15, as the six-eyed helmet poked above the entrance. "Ghost..." the Replica Elite stiffened and fell silent. "It comes."

"It wakes," agreed Kantya-13. "It can be felt."

"Emergency protocol override, orders changed," chorused all four Elites, in unison. "Regrouping at Point Alpha-Zulu-02. Preparing for evac. Switching to pseudo-independent mode."

"Understood," replied Foxtrot-813. "Eidelon Combat Unit ready to follow orders. New destination set."

And the sky to the south lit up.


As one, the Migou fleet disengaged from the New Earth Government forces, discharging all their decoys and emptying their reservoirs of emfog as they did it. The vast clouds of micro-and-nanoparticles that bloomed around them hung like liquid in the air, more akin to a veil than to a cloud. The vortices and flows of the movement of the atmosphere, thrown and tossed by the passage of the vast ships and their lesser craft, and by the thermals from the war below, were made visible for all to see. It would not aid them against this foe, and they could but hope that the uplifted apes of Species ᵺᶙӎӎшѧ would have the self-preservation to permit them to engage the real foe without distraction or sapping vital troops. Even the [Terrestrial Planet Combat] [Deployment Craft] in the process of landing troops began to shift in form, closing the spread-out ribcage on the underside of the massive ships which shielded their forces as they deployed

The Adjunct of Deployed Strategic Reserves was already concerned. They had taken excessive casualties even before they had landed, and there were certainly {HAZARDS} active on the island. Certainly {HAZARDS}; potentially {THREATS}, albeit lesser ones than the the {SLEEPER IN FIRE}. Some reports were even coming in that they seemed to be equipped as scaled up versions of the converted {LESSER SERVITORS} that Species ᵺᶙӎӎшѧ was known to use.

If that were true, the Adjunct of Deployed Strategic Reserves would be putting a motion for planetary sterilisation, and damn the consequences. The proliferation of {THREATS} was far beyond anything that could be permitted, even if it would wake other such foes. Attempting to harness the engine of their own destruction...only Species ᵺᶙӎӎшѧ could be so foolish.

Well, Species ᵺᶙӎӎшѧ and the Tsab.. And Species ǻdzǣǖȝ, though reports coming in from the far end of the spiral arm indicated that they were on the verge of being wiped out, contained after their contamination by a mere {HAZARD} resident on one of the planets in their system had enabled them to break a too-weak Exclusion Volume. And the... well, there were far too many suicidal young species that would bring entire star clusters down with them, if the Migou had not been there to ensure that the local area of space was one compatible with their own continued existence.

The Adjunct of Deployed Strategic Reserves dismissed these thoughts with a slight buzz of the wings of the primary [body-form/individual] ensconced within the bridge of the [Terrestrial Planet Combat] [Local Supremacy Craft], deep within its hull, and turned its collected attention to the [body-form/individual] integrated with the ships systems.

The reports were indeed dire, when the upcoming threat of the {SLEEPER IN FIRE} was taken into account. The casualties in such a hot-drop, against local capital-grade defences, were always going to be horrific, as the reduced detection signature necessary for any modern military unit to survive on the battlefield was completely incompatible with atmospheric re-entry at this kind of velocity. Especially when the [New Earth Government] appeared, from their best estimates, to have suspected that they were coming, and emplaced a specialist anti-capital charge beam at the centre of the island, which remained operational, despite their best efforts. Yes, they could certainly eliminate all the remaining [New Earth Government] and [Esoteric Order of Dagon] forces on the island; but that was not why they were there. They were there to contain the {THREAT} which had just surfaced, and the Adjunct of Deployed Strategic Reserves was certain that they would take horrendous casualties

Adjunct of Deployed Strategic Reserves: Of the initial [(one-36)] [Terrestrial Planet Combat] [Local Supremacy Craft] (non-standard);

[(five)] have been [destroyed/eliminated] by unidentified (presumed [NEG]) relativistic particle beam fire from an unidentified capital grade unit.

[(two)] have been [destroyed/eliminated] by known [NEG] local fleet actions.

[(one)] has been [destroyed/eliminated] by unknown causes.

[(one)] has been [destroyed/eliminated] by the actions of the {SLEEPER IN FIRE}.

[(seven)] have been [damaged/rendered] such that they are incapable of full [action/deed] for this operation by unidentified (presumed [NEG]) relativistic particle beam fire from an unidentified capital grade unit, although will be able to [conduct/perform] support duties.

[(five)] have been [damaged/rendered] such that they are incapable of full [action/deed] for this operation by known [NEG] local fleet actions, although will be able to [conduct/perform] support duties.

[(six)] have suffered [minor/limited] damage, and are capable of fulfilling the mission objectives.

[(nine)] remain intact and fully combat-ready.

Adjunct of Deployed Strategic Reserves: Of the initial [(one-36) and (nine)] [Terrestrial Planet Combat] [Deployment Craft] (non-standard);

[(six)] have been [destroyed/eliminated] by unidentified (presumed [NEG]) relativistic particle beam fire from an unidentified capital grade unit.

[(six)] have been [destroyed/eliminated] by known [NEG] local fleet actions.

[(one)] has been [destroyed/eliminated] by unknown causes while [landed/unloading].

[(two)] have landed, and suffered such [damage/injury] that they are incapable of sustained flight until [repairs/replacements] are made, but have or are deploying troops in full.

[(eight)] have been [damaged/rendered] such that they are incapable of full [action/deed] for this operation by unidentified (presumed [NEG]) relativistic particle beam fire from an unidentified capital grade unit, although will be able to [conduct/perform] support duties.

[(seven)] have been [damaged/rendered] such that they are incapable of full [action/deed] for this operation by known [NEG] local fleet actions, although will be able to [conduct/perform] support duties.

[(eleven)] have suffered [minor/limited] damage, and are capable of fulfilling the mission objectives.

[(four)] remain intact and fully combat-ready.

Adjunct of Deployed Strategic Reserves: Of the initial [(two)] [General Out-System] [Local Supremacy Craft];

[(two)] remain intact and fully combat-ready.

The Adjunct of Deployed Strategic Reserves made a buzz of irritation, at the reminder of how they had suffered in the approach. That relativistic particle beam fire had broken up their line of approach, directed at the ones that had been ordered to land close to the target zones, even before they had broken from the main formation. Even before they should have known such a thing. It was... concerning. It was known that Species ᵺᶙӎӎшѧ possessed the ability to manifest precognitive powers; of course they would. But they were normally rare in such a species at this level of development and sapience, and there had been a non-negligible rise, over the previous [(two-36th)] of a Yuggothian cycle. It was not the rise that was the alarming thing; such species often did unstable things akin to this, as they experimented with themselves and with the arcane. Indeed, Species ᵺᶙӎшѧ was somewhat unusually reluctant to engage in [body-form/self] modifications; most dangerous young species normally radically altered themselves, especially if they were {TAINTED} or {CONTAMINATED}. No, it was the ratio of certain extranormal abilities which had left the wise among the sorcerer-scientists, like the Handler of Xenobiological Organisms (who spoke on this manner across the networks on every opportunity, incessantly and at great length) disturbed.

The increasing use of such phenomena on the battlefield was merely another manifestation of the malaise that afflicted this planet. The Adjunct of Deployed Strategic Reserves would be glad when Three was properly Contained, and they could move away from this place, back to the outer system and the Oort Cloud, rather than be forced to spend time in a dense atmospheric, high gravity environment like this. It expressed a great dislike of such places; even Three-Orbital-First and Four were unpleasant in a combat body-form, as opposed to an acceleration body-form of the type used for long-distance travel or a micro-gravity body-form like those used all throughout the Oort Cloud.

The [body-form/individual] buzzed its wings, settling its mind. It was getting distracted, its mind already repelled by the thought of the {THREAT} and the fact that it, most likely, faced [self-form/death] against such a thing as this. It did not matter. It was quite willing to face cessation if it could have the consolation that it had fulfilled its role and sent the {SLEEPER IN FIRE} back to the [dreaming/death] from where it had came.

It felt a twinge in the [body-form/individual] that was plugged directly into the communications network, aiding the synchronisation of the fleet, that indicated an external contact authorised by the [Void Forces]. It acknowledged the message, from one of the two [General Out-System] [Local Supremacy Craft] that still hung, fusion drives burning, high above this planet, barely in the atmosphere.

Commodore of Orbital Supremacy: This [combat-form/individual] wishes to pass [information/warning] to the Deployed Strategic Reserves.

Adjunct D. S. R: This [body-form/individual] acknowledges the [request/message], and [authorises/grants] the Commodore of Orbital Supremacy access to communications.

Commodore O. S.: This [combat-form/individual] thanks the Adjunct of Deployed Strategic Reserves.

The Commodore of Orbital Supremacy, its body (like that of its crew) so rebuilt for the high accelerations that a warship must handle, that they were incompatible of forming a [self-form/network] network with the most common phenotype among the local Migou, vibrated. Eyes, which to Species ᵺᶙӎшѧ would have been glowing an odd reddish-green, but to the Migou had a very strong ultraviolet component, stared forth from the outside of the armoured shell in which its nervous system, held in place, existed. It didn't really matter. It wasn't really attached to this shell except in a metaphysical sense; it was a distributed intellect in the warship, able to survive accelerations that would have left its base form a thinly smeared mess against the wall, let alone what Species ᵺᶙӎшѧ or the loyal examples of Species ᵺᶙӎшѧ-[α] could have tolerated. Its senses were the ship's senses. Its body was the ship's body.

And so it opened a channel to the rest of the fleet with nothing more than a thought, because the ship's communications organs were its communications organs

Commodore O. S.: This [combat-form/individual] wishes to inform the [surviving/remaining] [self-form/individuals] of the Deployed Strategic Reserves that [containment/sterilisation] of the {THREAT} of the {SLEEPER IN FIRE} is about to [commence/begin]. All [self-form/individuals] should have at least one [body-form/individual] outside the projected blast radius. [Sterilisation/containment] begins in [(three-36) and (twelve)] lesser time units.

And with that said, it cut the link. Oh, the Deployed Strategic Reserves had been inept in a way that had imperilled that all! The Commodore of Orbital Supremacy was terrified by what it was going to do, for it bore the risk of waking more of the {THREATS}. But if it need be done, it was best that it be done quickly, for who knew what the {SLEEPER IN FIRE} would do with wakefulness?


There was a crunch, loud in the deathly silence which had just fallen, as the President slammed the PCPU she had just been handed down against the table. A tiny amount of fluid oozed out from the broken device, the synthetic odour immediately bonded to by the nanoscrubbers that filled the air.

"Would anyone care to tell me what the hell is going on in Iceland!" she yelled at the ceiling.

"Certainly, Madam President," began one of the Field Marshalls, an haggard woman with a full head of snow-white hair said. The youthful brightness of her eyes all but stated that they were not her first pair, but were instead a vat-grown replacement. "If you will but..."

"Please, don't patronise me, Fazil," snapped President Nyanda. "I was informed of the very existence of this massive military deployment all of... oh," she said, putting a finger to her mouth to match her expression of mock puzzlement, "yesterday, and then only because you lot couldn't keep the fact that the fish-fucke... men had used nuclear weapons from the Cabinet. Now the damn Migou have dropped from orbit pulling accelerations which, if I recall my school days," she said, exaggerating her youth compared to the average age of the room, "should be leaving them as red jam..."

"Ma'am, Migou ichor isn't actually red..."

"...shut up. Where was I? Oh yes. The Migou have dropped from orbit with the largest single deployment ever in a way that intelligence reports assure me means they must be desperate. They are making use of antimatter weapons in a tactical capacity. They have bought two of their six warships into the atmosphere. I'm surprised they haven't just crashing the damn Hive Ship into Iceland the way they're acting." She pointed down at the wrecked PCPU on the table, panting in a rather deliberate way. "And now you tell me that a massive ship-sized ENE with some kind of sorcerous shield has appeared, and you want to deploy the strategic nuclear arsenal!" The last words were almost shrieked.

The government officials and military leaders around the table glanced at each other. They were actually physically here; there was no way that the bandwidth for AR-projecting would be allowed in and out of this bunker, which had (unbeknownst to almost everyone around the table) defences both mundane and sorcerous which were almost as good as those in a Vault. It was an understandable reaction from the President, although a little heavy in sarcasm. It was, unfortunately, at the moment rather unhelpful, when launch authority was needed

"Yes, Madam President," said the Minster of War, Genevieve Aristide, finally. "I am requesting permission for the strategic arsenal to be deployed on behalf of the CATO ground forces, against the ENE. We do not intend to target the Migou, and they seem as keen to kill it as we are, so they should not retaliate... at least according to the xenopsych experts. And, actually, we don't want to just use the fusion weapons. If you hadn't... if you check further down on the list," she said, trying to ignore the damage to the PCPU, given the way that the President's hand was twitching, "the Mixcoatl warheads were to be the 'decoy'." She paused, trying not to push Helen Nyanda too far, before she said the next thing.

Unfortunately, the President glared at her, as if she were reading her mind. For a pretty face, who, it was widely agreed, had got the position after only after her predecessor had been embroiled in a nasty funding scandal, and the assassination of her husband (whose first name she now used as a surname) earned her sympathy, she was too sharp by far. "You want to use one of the LANCE systems?" she snapped, still panting. "Are you insane?"

"No." Geniveve Aristide paused, tucking an errant hair back behind her ear. "By our estimates, we need to use something of that potential yield to be sure that we take down something like..."

"The LANCEs are vital for GODSPEAR," interrupted the dark-skinned woman. "And I don't want to waste the best shot we have at killing that Hive Ship, once and for all, by letting the Migou find out about GODSPEAR because you, Genevieve, authorised a secret military operation without any reference to the Cabinet or me! Damn it, you're near the line! You may even be on the far side of it!"

The rest of the room stared at the two woman; the President and the Minister of War (one enraged, the other keeping her expression mask-like) locked together. There was a cough from the end of the table. A male Nazzadi, a single, asymmetric curving tattoo on his left cheek a contrast to the hints of white starting to creep into his hair, just at the roots, glanced over at the President.

"Madam President," he said, not a trace of a Nazzadi accent in his flawless Reformed accent, "I have just received information which I believe that you would wish to hear, before you make your decision."

The President blinked first, and sat down. "Certainly, Representative," she said, unconsciously smoothing out her jacket, and favouring him with a faint, albeit slightly fixed, smile.

The Representative from the Ashcroft Foundation for North America (and, technically speaking, the first among equals of the continental Representatives, as the individual responsible for the capital of the New Earth Government) nodded. "I will be brief, as this is an emergency. I have just received information that the true aim of CATO was accomplished." He raised his hands at the uproar. "Please," he said, turning up the volume on his microphone to drown out the noise.

"Shut up, everyone" ordered the President, glaring at the Representative as she did so. The room fell silent; there was something disturbingly teacher-like about that tone. "What do you mean?"

"Yes. CATO was never about the reconquest of Iceland, not really. The GIA had received information that there was a high-value target, attempting some kind of summoning ritual, on the island. The rest of CATO was a distraction, to permit a team consisting of the Foundation's three capital-grade Evangelion Titan-class ACXB mecha to spearhead an assault, with the primary goal being the elimination of the target, and the prevention of the ritual. By precedent, they have had noted successes in such roles, including the destruction of the ENE which nearly breached the naval defences near Chicago-2 on the 13th last month."

"You failed then, Jara!" interrupted Field Marshal Fazil. "Look at the ENE here!"

The Nazzadi nodded. "Sadly, we were unable to get there before the target could complete the ritual. However, the primary target was successfully killed. Madam President, Dagon is dead."

"Dagon... you mean?" whispered the President.

"Yes," he nodded. "Dagon, as in, 'Esoteric Order of' was successfully eliminated."

A deathly hush fell over the room. Slowly, the cheers started, only to die out as they remembered the fact that there was a massive extra-normal entity rampaging through the area.

The Representative bowed. "That is all."

There was a pause.

"We estimate that only one LANCE would be required to take down the target," interjected a young-looking, bald male amlati in the uniform of a GIA analyst, trying to keep the original conversation running despite the interruption. "That would still leave us with ei..."

"No," said Helen Nyanda, flatly, clamping down on the bubbly glee that she could feel at the news. "I am not going to endanger GODSPEAR, when it could rid us of the Hive Ship, even with this good news. That is it. No discussion. I am prepared to unlock the strategic nuclear arsenal, but I expressly refuse to unlock the orbital systems." She raised one hand, underskin command implants already shining through her skin. "Are you aware of how long it took us to get those things into orbit?" she asked rhetorically, as she immersed her hand in the blue-gloop of the suitcase-like device an aide had placed in front of her. "Limited Release; authorised by New Earth Government President Helen Nyanda. Unlock Strategic Arsenal, up to Tonatiuh-category weapons," she said calmly, ignoring the squirming feelings on top of, and underneath the skin, running all the way up her arm and throughout her body, as the systems they'd installed in her even before she had been inaugurated confirmed the lack of Blank-modifications or uncharacteristic mental influences. "Six hour Release."

There was a nod from the aide beside her.

The authorisation was valid.


Unit 01 and 02 raced, side-by-side, eating up the distance almost as quickly as they tore up the surfaces below them, as directly behind them the bulk of the Herald cast its unnatural radiance over the land, the intensity akin to that of a false moon.

"I must run away," muttered Shinji. "I must run away."

"I think it might be... it's following us," groaned Asuka, as she managed to squeeze a little more velocity out of the towering behemoth which now seemed very small. "This is just ridiculous! Run away faster! Although," she added, a faint smirk on her lips which was betrayed by the worry in her voice, "at least it's bright enough to know what the real threats are."

And, indeed, the bulk of Moloch, twisted appendages writhing and twisting so that they sometimes passed through each other in a way which was oddly repetitive despite its initially random appearance was coming closer. The burning suns of the Migou plasma cannons seemed to be doing nothing; the smears of ionised gas dispersing upon contact with the fractured light of the AT-Field.

"I'd prefer if it were more stupid in that case," retorted Shinji, matching pace with her, and overtaking again, as Unit 01 was no longer weighed down by the main weapon. "Mot took damage from less firepower than that. And we don't have a spare arcology power grid!"

"Less banter, more running," commanded Asuka. "Misato! Misato! Can you hear us? Shinji! How far away is it?"

There was no response from command; not even a crackle. What did occur was a series of blasts against the AT-Field, as tactical antimatter-warheads began to burst against the side and top of the monstrosity, the fireballs lopsided as the violated space-time refused the annihilation passage.

"Uh..." the boy paused, looking at the wall of the entry plug. "Um. It's... I don't know! It's jumping around! The system is all confused! Anywhere from 1600 metres to 120 km!"

"Brilliant," Asuka snarled. "Is it actually teleporting, or is it just screwing with your sensors?"

"How would I know?" he responded. "How could I tell the difference? It... it... argh!" he gasped, as Migou fightercraft opened up, the laser cannons cutting down with the snap of superheated air. The Evangelion stumbled, more from the shock than from any damage, before picking up the pace again. The laser defence grid lashed out, incepting the accompanying wave of missiles; it was fortunate that they seemed to be using all their larger munitions against the Herald.

"Ignore them, Shinji," said Asuka. "Just keep runni... Scheiße!" The laser pulse which had prompted the exclamation, the mid-ultraviolet electromagnetic radiation scoring down her left arm before she could manifest just enough of an AT the tarmac had been cold under her feet, the shoes really not suitable for this. They had walked past row after row of abandoned car, almost all old petchems, and her mother had told her to be careful Field to get her out of the way. "Drone!"

The two Evangelions scattered. "Yeah! I know!" said Shinji, as he threw himself back, right arm of the Evangelion clutched over the damage from that charge beam, head angled as so to maximise what the one functional eye of the Evangelion could see. "Kill it!"

"It's out of range!" snapped Asuka. "Just distract it!"

"Distract it!" he retorted, the head-mounted lasers now back under manual control, but not even scratching the surface of the capital ship. "How am I meant to do that?"

"Keep firing uselessly at it," she shouted back, breaking into a sprint that quickly turned into a dive to the side, when the laser cut a path back towards her. "Do it more!"

"They're not idiots," he yelled, as warning signals bloomed across the projection, tracking the hostile projectiles as best they could, "... and missiles! The ships just launched a swarm! They can see that you have the big gun!"

"Damn it! Where is Rei?" snapped the girl. "Just run. We can see if we can get it in denser terrain."

"Denser terrain? Denser terrain? We're in forty-metre giant robots! About the only dense terrain we can get is a high-rise city..."

"You know what I meant!"

"... and even then, the stuff that can hurt us just shoots straight through buildings and an entire Swarm Ship to get you!" The boy took a deep breath. "It ripped through like it was tissue paper," he added in a softer voice, unconsciously raising a hand from his controls to rest it over his chest. Yes, the vat-cultured flash had repaired the damage that the sympathetic feedback from the hole that Mot had torn in his... in the Evangelion's body (he had merely suffered burns). But that didn't mean that it hadn't hurt, or that he couldn't remember that horrifying spike of agony that had coruscated through his mind in the tiny fraction of a second (according to Dr Akagi) that it had taken the neurons in his brain to fire and the corresponding breakdown in synchronisation to minimise the damage.

Actually, now that he though about it... that was really odd. How could he have felt it, if there hadn't been time for his brain to react? He could ask Ritsuko for more details, but, Shinji was fairly sure, even if he didn't merely get exposed to either brusque preoccupation or somewhat patronising condescension, any explanation that he did get would firstly not make much sense unless you had some kind of high level degree in arcane sciences (probably multiple ones), and secondly overuse the prefixes 'arcano-' and 'anima-'. And probably various terms in German, too. Why was it that no-one had the decency to overthrow the supremacy of the Germanic languages in the field of obfuscatory scientific jargon, anyway? He was sure that he'd do a lot better at understanding them if they used Japanese, like he was sure, deep down, that they were meant to.

Of course, there were probably times to discuss the nature of languages, and how they evolved, shifted, and, as both a carrier of memes and a memeplex in their own right, vied for supremacy. When crouched down in as low a profile as possible, in a fissure opened by the surfacing of some ancient alien thing, to avoid a spaceship crewed by a different kind of alien shooting you with a giant laser was not one of those times, and served only to distract one from more important tasks.

Sometimes Shinji hated his own mind. And it returned the favour, and suggested a few new ways that he could die in the next few minutes. With pictures.


"Can you get through to them!" asked Misato, her knuckles white as she grasped the railing in front of her. On the map of Iceland, the entire area around the Herald was shockingly low resolution, the entire area surrounded in a bright-red dome cascading warnings and odd image corruptions, though the fires and the clouds, meshing and shredding each other with each new blastwave, could be picked out. The marker for Unit 00 was the only one visible; the other two Evangelions were somewhere in that hell.

Lieutenant Aoba, looking decidedly queasy, shook his head. "No," he called back. "We're not even getting sigcors." He paused. "It could mean that either their comms are down, that they're not even getting them, or..."

"... or 01 and 02 have been destroyed," said Captain Martello, flatly. "Each of those shots from the warships are in the seventy to eighty megaton range, and there's no way that the Eva could take being at ground zero of that. If they were too close to them..."

The [VOICE ONLY] connection back to London-2 symbol turned green on the mainscreen. "That's not true," interjected Ritsuko, the multi-second latency slowing down any attempts to communicate. "An AT-Field could theoretically withstand it... no, let's rephrase it. An Eva's AT-Field could theoretically withstand it, given a high enough synch-ratio and... well, luck. We can actually see that a Herald's one can," she added morosely. "Our own strategic weapons aren't going to do a thing, if the Migou can't kill it." There was a pause. "Unit 00 is far too damaged to be able to face that thing," she said, slowly. "You have to pull it out, Misato; we can't lose all three Evas."

"Ritsuko, have you got a look at the interface yet?" the Major asked, coldly. "It's not going to matter if someone doesn't kill it. Even if the Herald doesn't kill us all, look what the Migou are doing. They're chucking megatonnes around like water, and they've never done that before. They want Moloch dead " She smiled grimly. "They may be a bunch of alien bug bastards, but they have a certain sense of style, I can grant them that. It's what I'd do if I had orbital weapons."

"Yes, yes you would," remarked Ritsuko, a dry note in her voice. "I think it's for the best that you weren't serving in CW2. But that's why Unit 00, in the state that it's in, shouldn't move in. After all, if it's destroyed, and the Migou kill the Herald, we'll have no defences against any later ones."

The static portrait of Rei joined Ritsuko's on the screen, the profile of Unit 00 beside her picture covered in red warning lights. "I remain functional," the girl said, her voice weak. There were several deep breaths of LCL, an odd gurgling noise that echoed oddly around the control room. "I... will fulfil my assigned role. I... will... fulfil my purpose. I... I... I am I."

"Unit 00 is moving towards the interface boundary," reported one of the forwards technicians. "Major... she's... it's barely holding together. We've got complete ablative epidermis failure, multiple hardplate ruptures which have breached the organism itself..."

"I can see that," the black-haired woman replied, jaw locked. "But... Ritsuko, have you seen that interface around the area? Look at it. It's like POLLEN. It's forming a ASZ."

There was the pause, as words made their way to L2 and back again.

"I know!" Ritsuko almost shrieked. "But you know what, Misato? We can't do anything about it! The Evas can't operate in that kind of environment; not with the Migou doing that! Pull back Rei, and we can get a salvage team to stop the Eva falling apart or dying under her, while the Migou try to kill the... it! But now, right now? We can't do anything about a ASZ, or the Herald, or the Migou. About all we can do is stomp on the fucking fishmen in their stupid CW2 gear! You understand? They're too damaged!"

The Major paused, tendons straining on the back of her hands and in her neck. "You! Tome!" she commanded. "Do you have anything at all on Moloch? Any secret weaknesses you OSS bastards have forgotten to mention, or any hidden superweapons?"

The albino glared back, from the seat which he was slumped into, PCPU open on his lap. "No!" he snapped back, in a hoarse voice, hand still clutched protectively over the finger-print bruises on his throat. "It... Moloch wasn't meant to be like this. There was one thing we could have used, but it need the Solomon Throne intact. And the known details, on the... on the Herald; we woke it up too fast, as you ordered, rather than in a controlled fashion as we had planned. It was meant to be smaller than an Eva, and barely aware!"

The woman sighed. "Oh." She made a disgusted noise in the back of her throat. "Rei, you are to hold where you are, and wait for us to pull up some repair craft. You can't help the other two now, and we can't risk losing you too."

There was no response from Unit 00.

"Pilot Ayanami!" ordered the Major. "Respond! Acknowledge the orders!"

"I... I have other instructions which overwrite those... those orders," Rei responded, eventually. "I h-have been instructed by Representative Ikari to ensure..." she gasped in pain, "....that the integrity of Unit 01 is maintained. It is *crssssshhh*" Unit 00's location marker entered the flagged area on the map, and vanished, just as the communications ceased.

"Shut it down! Stop her going any further!"

"Won't work, Major," said Makota, shaking his head. "The Evangelion's in autistic mode, even if we could contact it. It's specifically set up to prevent Migou-induced forced shutdown."

Misato's grasp on the railing went slack, and her shoulders slumped. She could feel the pain coursing through her palms, banded bruises from where she had been squeezing too hard, but it was nothing compared to the mental anguish.

No. No. No. It's all going wrong. All three of the Evas are in one of those places. We can't contact them. We don't even know if Shinji and Asuka are still alive. It's happening again; I'm going to lose them too. And it's my fault again. I can't take this again. Not after China, and NKL, and before. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.


The other two Evangelions spun to hear the roaring, tearing noise that the cockpit systems rendered the charge-beam shot as. It reached out, green aftertrail tracing out a path to Moloch.

Unit 00... was not in a good state. That much was certain. And considering the level of damage that it had sustained before it had been left on its own, surrounded by hostile forces that were specifically targeting it, while low on coolant for its primary weapon, that was saying something. It was barely recognisable as an Evangelion. The first layer of hardplates were, in the patches where they had not already been punched through, slagged and melted, direct hits from the ventral plasma weapons slagging even the heat resistant ceramics. The second layer and the third were in similar states; in some points, the naked flesh and machinery of the Evangelion was exposed. The head had almost been clean torn off; it lolled to the side, a charge beam shot having glanced the side. A gaping wound in the abdomen of the Unit looked like it had been dangerously close to the entry plug, clean into the sternum. The right arm looked like it was being held together purely by the blackish crystals that could be seen within the flesh, knitting it together. Almost nothing could be seen of it original colouration; it was the grey of metal, the blackish brown of slagged heat shielding, and, everywhere, coating it like poorly applied paint, the reddish-purple of the ichor of the Evangelion, oozing down the body to pool in the footprints that the monstrosity left as it walked.

Frankly, the fact that the charge beam remained operational spoke that Rei had chosen to shield it with her own body, rather than permit it to be damaged in the same way that Unit 01's weapon had been.

"Rei!" shouted Shinji. "Are you all right?"

"I... remain myself," said Rei, weakly, hyperventilating lungfuls of LCL. "I... remain functional." There was the sound of her swallowing. "Hit. Cooling cycle in process. The supercooled gas hurts," she said, a shiver running through her voice. The other two Children could see the frozen patches of the ichor of the Evangelion, which cracked and fell to the floor as she limped closer to them. "Additional damage sustained to Unit 00's right arm due to recoil." She paused. "I... am sorry. I am distracted. Hit. Shot was blocked by an AT-Field. No damage to target Moloch inflicted. I apologise for my..."

The pause was fully justified, as time seemed to slow to a crawl. On the ground before the Evangelions, the shadows of the titans were suddenly as black as pitch, solid, dark and all consuming, compared to the brilliance that filled the rest of the view. The screens on the entry plugs began to cascade with warnings, even as the walls dimmed, clamping down near instantly on the excessive brightness and normalising the image. Shinji felt an ice-hot knife stab into his right eye, and Unit 01 fell, its mass slamming into the ground (again). Something cracked, the snapping of a giant's ribcage. Unit 02 fared better, Asuka reflexively dropping down at the bright light, as training told her to minimise her profile as best she could. After all, she'd already had her fair share of Migou heavy weapons thrown at her today, and as the glimmering diamond mesh of the AT-Field together, they had trudged along the side of the road, she holding onto her mother's hand. Her daddy had already been called up, to help fight off the invaders. She had squeezed tight, because, when she looked back, she could see the mass of the landing ships hanging above the city. And a light had flared, and the city had died, because the humans had decided that the invaders could not be allowed to keep that which they had taken. enveloped her, forming a radiant wall that hopefully would cover Unit 01 too, she looked back.

If the ventral plasma weapons of the Migou Swarm Ships had been nascent stars in the night, living briefly only to extinguish themselves, then what now blossomed over the horizon was a newborn sun, the vast fireball enveloping Moloch in its entirety, consuming the Herald and blotting out even the light of its AT-Field. And visible through the darkened projection against the wall of the entry plug, even as sirens screamed their warning of dangerous levels of gamma radiation as the ionising radiation punched through the opaque atmosphere, was the oncoming blast wave. It tore apart the sparse vegetation that grew up in the interior of Iceland, instantly carbonised vegetation disintegrating like dust in the wind. The eponymous ice subliminated into plasma, only adding to the wave. It tore off layers of rock, the boulder-sized shrapnel and excreta tossed around like dice in a giant game of the gods. The spares clouds were torn asunder, whipped away like sea mist on a warm day by the newborn sun.

And the fireball rose and rose, and expanded and expanded, and from this cosmic bulb a fungous spire blossomed.

Asuka stared at the inferno that had enveloped Moloch. "That wasn't us," she whispered, softly, awed by the immensity of the sight. "The gamma spike... that's the Migou."

Well, at least the bugs were doing something useful, she thought, as the spire of dust and ash rose from the now-fading sun, thinning slightly to reveal the glittering within.




Oh no.

That was, of course, when the second Migou warship opened up, and the dying sun produced by the first impact of the relativistic antihydrogen-cored projectile was joined by a new one. And another. And another.

As fireballs which measured in the kilometres bloomed against the Herald, Moloch immersed in fire, Asuka was aware of just how small the Evangelions were. Of how small she was. Over the radio, she heard Shinji start swearing, in a mixture of Japanese, English, and Nazzadi, but she remained silent. There was something almost religious about this moment, as she pulled herself up, braced against the hellish winds that threatened to sweep her off her feet.

No, forget that. There was something truly religious about this.


The diminished column of Faithful refugees made their way through the ruins of what had once been their home, before so many monstrous beings had filled the seas and the skies and the land. They were almost being ignored, it seemed; the war passing around them, as Migou and NEG aircraft fought in the skies above, and tanks, mecha and power armour clashed in the streets, firing straight through thin walls to hit targets on the other sides of buildings. No-one seemed to care enough about a cluster of infantry to target them with airstrikes, and although it had been stressful, they had managed to get to cover each time there had been land forces passing. There had been casualties, inevitably, but the strategic positioning of the slowest and weakest had minimised the losses of the useful ones.

And now they were huddled down in the ruins of a school, as the sky to the south was lit by unnaturally bright lights. They could feel the earth shake, both the pulses from the aftershocks of the massive earthquakes, and an almost regular pounding, thuds with a not-dissimilar frequency to the dust filled winds that blew up towards them, that set the Geiger counters screaming. And in the lights, they could see that the entire sky in that direction was filled with massive clouds, vast spires reaching up, intermingling and twisting, like battling sky-giants.

It felt like the world was ending.

The dust from the ruins and the winds and from the emfog that both sides had been using in such vast quantities, would have been choking if Khonatqa had not been wearing the breathing apparatus, especially since she had obtained the superior, modern-military level gear, rather than the CW2-era stuff, which hadn't been designed for this kind of thing. The people who had built the first models (and they had actually constructed it from hand, in virtuous labour; the reason for the use of such old gear was that it did not require precious nanofactory time to manufacture) had never expected for nanoweapons to see battlefield use. It had been before the First Arcanotech War, after all, that strange prototype for the later arcane wars, where all those theoretical designs that the Second Cold War powers had been stockpiling for use against each other saw use against an alien species that had turned out to not be so alien after all. And so, thanks to the inferior protective capacity of the older designs against such volumes, filtration systems and namzappers were giving out, overwhelmed by the volumes that flowed and billowed around them, a hint of silver in the concrete and brick dust. Many of the smaller children were already suffering from emfog inhalation, as well as from nastier agents that were mixed in among the nebulous clouds.

"C-c-come on, Yhu," muttered Ghuhalia, keeping her voice lowered, as they crouched in the remnants of a school building, the bright colours barely visible under the bullet holes. "Just k-k-keep on breathing. It's okay, right? Right? I c-can-can c-carry you, Yhu." She let out a giggle that sounded more like a sob. "Yhu'll be okay. Right? Right?"

The smaller girl didn't respond to the joke, that would have normally had her at the very least hitting her sister. She just kept on breathing, as best she could, in and out, wet gasps from under the over-large gas mask.

"We're at Yr-neavat-v'fsha Primary," the elder girl continued, just talking, almost mindlessly. "You r-r-remember that, Yhu? You w-wanted to... go there, but then mummy... m-m-mummy," Ghulalia began to sob muffled sobs, uselessly trying to wipe her protected eyes with a sleeve, "m-m-mummy is de... no. M-mummy g-got... that new job, and w-w-we had to m-move."

Khonatqa looked down at the pair; her half-sisters. The younger one wasn't going to last much longer, by her reckoning. From the wet sound of the breathing, there was a lethal amount of one of the fast-acting NaM agents in her lungs, probably em-hardened, making it slightly resilient to the older models of emzapper. Once there... well, the enzyme-action was busy tearing apart cell walls. Yhughui'ne was going to drown on her own blood, and fast enough that, even if they could have gotten her to a sorcerer, the lengthy ritual would have taken time that she didn't have.

The older woman, almost one of the Chosen, let her hand fall idly to the pistol at her side. It was far too cruel to let someone go like this, she knew. There wasn't a cure, not one that they could get. And it was a very, very nasty way to die. As part of her training in the Veer'thyne, they had had all the militia commanders for their sections watch exactly what happened on an attempted rebel. It had taken the man fifteen minutes to die, and he had screamed until they had administered a paralytic compound to his vocal cords, as he was making too much noise.

But she couldn't do it. She wasn't sure if it was her human instincts, or the deeper ones that came from her emerging Chosen heritage, but, despite the fact that she intellectually knew that this was the kinder option; quick and painless, she couldn't do it. It was almost ridiculous; although they were relatives, she had only met them today, had only found out about them yesterday. And yet, because they happened to have the same father, she was going to let the younger one suffer a painful death merely because she didn't have the damn bravery to face the stare from Ghuhalia.

She hadn't hesitated to gun down that idiot Ubeevoyr, just because he was a jerk and a threat to her position. Now, why wouldn't she provide a mercy killing, and save the girl agony, just because they shared some blood?

Yhughui'ne gurgled, then coughed, a spot of blood somehow making its way to splatter against the clear plating of the eyepiece. "Ghu," she croaked. "Ghu. Hurts... hurts!" She coughed again, hacking fluid up. "Help! Mummy! Help!"

Helplessly, her hand loosened and tightened around the handle of the gun, feeling the webbing between her fingers rub. She merely turned her back in the dying girl, trying her hardest to put it out of her mind, so she could work out how to save the rest. And herself, obviously. Behind her, she could hear Ghulalia sobbing, no longer restrained.

A gunshot.

Khonatqa twirled, weapon raised. The pistol, hanging away by its strap, and comically oversized on the eight year old, was pointed at the ground, the hole in the damaged floor smoking and evident. Ghulalia stared up, eyes red but defiant at the woman. "I c-c-couldn't do it," she wailed. "I can't! It's hurting her, but I can't! And they told.... told us at sc-school that it was b-b-better to do it than let someone hurt like that, but I can't! I couldn't h-help Fr-fraenkis or Ulf or Kair or M-m-mummy and now they're all d-d-dead and I can't even help Yhu by making it stop h-h-hurting!"

Awkwardly, Khonatqa lowered her weapon. She felt like crying, but she couldn't; not any more. Her tear ducts had sealed themselves as part of her transformation, relying on modified eyelids to keep them wet, but she still had enough human in her for the tar-black melancholy to make demands of her body that she do so.


Another blast; another sun blossoming over the horizon, lighting up the abused night of the northern winter. Moloch remained intact; worse, it was striking back. Those loathsome tendrils lashed out, waving through the air to puncture the lesser Migou which were still maintaining a flow of steady plasma and laser fire into it. The warships were keeping it pinned, true, unable to move without lessening its AT-Field such that it could die, but they would surely only have a finite supply of antimatter warheads for their railguns. And every shot they fired increased the risk that... other things would wake from the dreaming sleep of unbeing. It was a stalemate which the Herald could only win. And so, now, the {SLEEPER IN FIRE}, Moloch, weathered the storm of annihilating particle and antiparticle, AT-Field bright.

"Don't you see it!" shouted Asuka, a sudden tone of excitement in her voice. "Yes! It's so obvious!"

"Yes... I have no idea what you're talking about," managed Shinji.

"Shut up, and let me explain, idiot," she said, equal parts stress and elation in her voice. She was on fire, it seemed, the stress pushing her mind towards conclusions that she never would have been able to reach had the danger of death been so severe. This was not an adrenaline rush, no, because adrenaline inhibited higher cognitive functions to allow flood flow to vital muscles; this was a sudden clarity that came from the necessity for survival, and all those things she had read slotting together when given a physical specimen. "You remember Mot, you two." It was not a question. "Remember how it concentrated the AT-Field at specific points, in order to deal with the concentrated fire from the Migou ships first, and then your laser, Shinji?"

"That... that is what it did," managed Rei.

"If we assume that the average AT-Field density over the surface is conserved..."

"Why sh-should we do... such a thing," asked the pale girl.

"The Xu-Nordsstrom Principle," was the quickfire answer. "The r-state of local space is such that the X-N tensor is necessarily limited to a finite value if the Herald doesn't want a Zone-like ASZ. As we found with the last one."

"That is... logical."

"I'm so glad you agree," Asuka replied, a hint of acid in her tone. "Logically, therefore, to survive a bombardment like this, when the resilience that it is demonstrating is compared to previous such entities, it will have its AT-Field at a maximum, because it's surviving stuff that all the others wouldn't have stood a chance against. Now, Migou antimatter weapons use element-n-s with an n-value matrix which is fairly close to, if not identical to, that of conventional matter, and the r-state of local space is, again, such that the Weyl and Ricci tensors approximate to that of flat Minskowski space-time"

"Yes," said Rei."

"I have no idea what you are saying!" blurted out Shinji. These were just... words, strung together. In fact, he was fairly sure that Asuka was in fact just making it upon the spot. In his opinion, the fact that she wasn't bothering to think up words, and just saying things like 'element-n-s' was a dead giveaway. And the fact that Rei seemed to be playing along with it...

... no that wasn't fair. It was just that, well, in the land of the geniuses, the normally-bright one gets the low-paid menial jobs. Of course, spraying microcleanser would actually be a lot safer than piloting a giant robot-thing.

"Yes. That's because I'm the one with the degree, not you. And Rei cheats." Asuka paused. "How to put this... ah. The big bad monster thing has a magical shield, which has a discrete and finite... which can only be so strong, and it has it mostly facing the direction that the Migou are shooting from. And space-time isn't so bendy that we can't say that straight lines are straight."

Shinji made a disgusted noise in the back of his throat. "Okay, okay. I get it. There's no need to be offensively patronising like that."

Asuka shrugged. "The dumbed-down explanation was, technically speaking, wrong. Anyway. Yes, there was a need, because you weren't going to understand it any other way."

Shinji managed to bite back a retort since, technically speaking (only technically, though, he reassured himself), she was right.

"You... you suggest that w-we connect the mD/D-Engines of the Evangelions together, and... then move to a p-p-position where I can t-target the underside," asked Rei, the pain in her voice evident.


"The... the... Unit 00 has sustained c-critical damage. The charge beam will not withstand a shot of that yield."

"Neither will it withstand the Herald, when it deals with the Migou. This is the only way we can kill that thing, when it's distracted! You will do it, First Child, because I'm telling you to!"

"I know who you are," Rei whispered, in a soft tone. "Are you sure?"

"Yes! Yes I am! It's our only hope to survive!"

There was a moment of silence. Then;

"I will do it."

Shinji felt it was time to make another contribution. "So, basically, we're going to run underneath it and shoot it with all of us plugged into the Rei Gun?"

"That is not its..."

"Yes," interrupted Asuka. "Except, you know, I'll actually put some thought into it."

"And, why, exactly, have we not already tried this?"

"Because, in case you don't remember, Third Child, there is a antimatter double-digit megatonne-yield bombardment in process. That means that getting under will be really hard."

"We... we will not need to get directly under the a-assigned target," corrected Rei. "A valid firing solution... can be obtained from further away."


"I know where."

Footstep after footstep, the three Children dove into the fire that surrounded Moloch, knights wrapped in shining light. One vast wall, as all three AT-Fields merged and blurred, discrete yet unified in the way that they covered each other, through the hellish opaque landscape that had painted itself upon the surface of the Earth. The scales were confusing, as if reality itself was breaking down; at one moment, the Herald was so close, and barely larger than an Eva; the next, it was a sky-leviathan on the distant horizon.

"I... think I'm going to be sick," groaned Shinji, but he did not let up his pace, just concentrating at best he could upon the feeling of running, of the pounding, jerking motion as the LCL-filled capsule swayed to and fro with the steps of the armoured titan.

Asuka stared up at the Migou-spawned suns before her, eyes reflecting even the dimmed light which the entry-plug wall displayed. It was amazing, and it was beautiful in its cold, dispassionate way. It was the beauty of large numbers and of geometry. As the AT-Field, those shimmering, cracked fractures in reality itself, that was projected from her out-reached palm, grew brighter and brighter, she was sure that she had never felt more alive, more complete. She lived for these moments, on the edge of her seat in the entry plug, caught between one moment and the next, burning so bright. When you had seen newborn suns and killed beings that some would have called god-like, was there any wonder that the world outside the Eva was cold and grey?

And Rei? She did not think. She reacted. She performed the optimal task at each moment, as if she had drilled for years. Because, in a sense, she had. She knew what was necessary, and what was coming next; what had to happen, and what would happen. Thought was not necessary, because it was obsolete, an automaton in her own body, to escape the damage and the agony from what the Migou had done to her and Unit 00.

But all too soon, she opened her eyes, and returned to the pain of her body and of the Evangelion.

"Stop," she said, flatly. "We are here. Please grant full access to your internal mD/D-Engine to Unit 00."

Shinji swallowed, watching as the [limitedpower] icon emerged, the torso-strands of the image of the Evangelion on the plug wall turning red. "Okay," he said, keenly aware of the fact that he could not run away any more; at least without tapping into the internal batteries and their pathetically limited five minutes of power. "Do it."

"Yes," echoed Asuka, almost identical emotions flowing through her head. It was the loss of control, she felt; the fact that you might be dependent on some external power for your Evangelion's (and thus your own) well being, that was so bad, she decided.

Rei lifted the charge beam, wincing as the mass of the weapon pulled at her heavily damaged arm. The gun was not pointed anywhere near the Herald. That was fully intentional. She could feel what it was doing to space-time What the Second Child had intellectually called the Xu-Nordsstrom tensor, Rei could feel, in the same way as others could detect a limited spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. It was tearing the worldlines of the things within its Domain apart, shredding space and time at a level far beyond the tight manipulations of the AT-Fields of the Evangelions.

And it was going to win. The fact was simple. It was fully awake before the celestial conjunction, and the Migou would not be able to kill it properly. It would reign over the Earth and the stars, as a fully awake {THREAT} (for the Migou named their foes well, Rei felt), awakened early by human and Deep One stupidity. Dagon had felt that the {SLEEPER IN FIRE} was an ally of his master. Dagon had been wrong. It was not an ally; it was a rival, an opponent.

But there was a way through the mess of timelike curves that it was spinning to save itself from anti-matter annihilation. A way to ensure that the Herald would be slain.

She raised her fingers from the control yokes, and flexed them, taking a deep, shuddering gulp of LCL.

"Hurry up, Rei," shouted Asuka, her voice far away. "The D-Cells are starting to show signs of incipient avalanche breakdowns. We don't want a Horizon Event!"

Ignoring the other girl, Rei reached down, and made a few fine adjustments on an AR-interface before her, adjusting the aim manually; the LAIs in the software shutdown due to the impossible, as they saw it, physical conditions.

A single tear trickled into the LCL as she fired.

The stream of relativistic protons propagated outwards through space, the path from their own frame of reference perfectly straight, but from the eyes of the Evangelions an impossible sequence of tight curves that could only be seen by the green aftertrail of ionised air. It bent underneath the Herald, rising to hit its bulk (for it seemed to be massive, and far away at the moment) in the centre, punching up through the weakened underside of the AT-Field.

The Herald exploded into a vast amorphous cloud of sepulchral gas; the greens of a punctured tomb blended with purples and impossible fluorescences that should not be, and would have not been had it not been for what Moloch had been doing to the universe.

And the charge beam, damaged, out of coolant, abused and overcharged, tore itself apart; white-hot shrapnel tearing into the heavily damaged Unit 00 and through it, reddish-purple blood painting arcs in the air.


Rei Ayanami was still alive. That surprised her. She should be dead; she knew that for a fact. The shrapnel had scythed its way through the entry plug, and she had felt the shards punch through her body as they tore through both walls, as the LCL that had filled the plug flowed out through the holes. The mangled remains of her body were wedged under the control yoke, and Rei gazed up, unmoving, at the interface between the air and the fluid, her own reflection showing just how injured she was. As if she was not already fully aware of this fact.

There was no pain, and that was a bad sign, for there had been pain aplenty in the synchronicity accident with the Evangelion.

And she should be dead.

Ah. I know you are there, brother.

A mental chuckle, filled with strain.

Hah. Not brother, not really. There is no term in any human language for how we are related.

Half-brother approximates the best, though.

Yes. Yes it does.

A pause.

You should not be able to do this.

I know. I am killing the others to keep you alive.

It will not last forever.

But it can work for now. For long enough.

A bubbling cough from a punctured lung.

No. I am already dead. I know it in my past, in my present, and my future.

You cannot be. I am going to keep you alive, if it kills... oh.

Yes. This can only end one way. She is already awake, for they roused her with all that contact. And now her rage will be focussed. It... it is necessary.

I know what will happen. You know what will happen.


It is inevitable.

It has already happened. You are just keeping her from noticing it. And she will notice the deaths of the others, eventually.

A bitter laugh.

And then she will notice you. And then she will notice me, and I will not be able to hold out. She's already won, hasn't she.

Yes. It was better than all the alternatives I could see.

A pause, a timeless moment of gulped LCL.

And now she's here.

The girl, eyes fading to blackness, felt a pair of cool arms encircle her, felt the rage and the horror and the pain and the agony and the hatred and the disgust and the sorrow and the loathing and the love through the soft lips on her cheek.

my baby

Rei Ayanami died with the faintest smile on her face.


my baby! give her back!
Zwar du erschrakst ihm das Herz; doch ältere Schrecken
she's scared of her touch
stürzten in ihn bei dem berührenden Anstoß.
she's scared. she said no.
Ruf ihn... du rufst ihn nicht ganz aus dunkelem Umgang.
she died in mind and soul when she tried to touch her
Freilich, er will, er entspringt; erleichtert gewöhnt er
to hug her
sich in dein heimliches Herz und nimmt und beginnt sich.
just like everyone else
Aber begann er sich je?
what kind of thing spawns itself?
Mutter, du machtest ihn klein, du warsts, die ihn anfing;
and so she prepared a meal for that which had carried her
dir war er neu, du beugtest über die neuen
willing or not, it makes no difference
Augen die freundliche Welt und wehrtest der fremden.
who can scare away the darkness
Wo, ach, hin sind die Jahre, da du ihm einfach
when they have not seen the light of day for forty years?
mit der schlanken Gestalt wallendes Chaos vertratst?


The vast nebulous cloud of that which had-been-and-would-be Moloch hung in the air, a stinking presence that devoured light only to spew it forth in colours and spectra not native to Earth. The sound was not indescribable, but to make such an attempt was impossible, for the minds of men could not know its ear-tearing immensity nor its sheer spectral range. The venomous seething of the radiance that was all too familiar to those who had gazed upon an AT-Field before expanded, then contracted, hints of solidity impossibly forming once again before another expansion tore them back into nothingness and left only the reality-saturated gas.

The mind within the amorphous thing, that in a sense was it, thought; in no manner akin to that of mortal man, but still it thought.

I Exist
Therefore I Exist.

I Exist
Therefore I Feel.

I Feel
Therefore I Know.

I Know
Therefore I Am Aware That There Are Those
Who Would Oppose Me

I Am Aware
Therefore I Understand Them.

I Understand Them
Therefore They Are Weak

They Are Weak
Therefore I Prevail.

But all was not right in the sepulchral cloud. It could feel the weakened shards of a rival nearby, and longed to consume and devour them. It could feel the death all around it, as things warred.

And it could feel something else. Watching. Waiting. Hungry.

one footstep. another, on no solid ground, nor within the normal set of dimensions. bloody footprints in space and time and souls.

The great beast felt another mind brush up against his. Smaller, yes, and massively weaker.

But awake. So awake, even in this time before the necessary time of rightness. It could feel itself being summoned to the deathless sleep of nothingness once again, because the conditions were not right to live again. But that mind... it was awake, and aware, and was viable under such cruel conditions.

But where was it?

The {SLEEPER IN FIRE} searched around, reaching out from beyond the protective barrier of its soul to hunt for this rival that stalked it while it was still too weak to act as it wished, still forced into a barren, cold reality with horrifically low ambient energy levels that forced it to rest in the core of this ball of rock if it wished to live-sleep, remain alive though of limited awarness.

No sign. No trace. But around it... the world was wrong. It could feel that there was the absense of the sense of certain rivals, ceratain abominable enemies it had known before, and that they were not where they should be. Dead? Perhaps. It had slept for over sixty million cycles of this ball of rock; perhaps such things had come to past.

But where was the rival?

It must think! It must drive away the fog of sleep and of this rude awakening from its mind, and function as best it can!

I Exist
There I Will Prevail.

I Will Prevail
Therefore I Will Eliminate All Foes
Regardless of Their Esteem

I Will Eliminate All Foes
Therefore I Shall Discover Where

a door which is open is not guarded

you deserve to die

you killed her

you are not
not anymore

And so that which-had-been-called-Moloch died, and was consumed.

A new god's in her heaven, all's right with the world.


The sky was wracked with blinding light, as the cloud dispersed, full-spectrum em radiation flooding the sensors of the Evangelions as the Herald died. There may have been whoops of joy elsewhere, but both the Second and Third Children were silent.

Suddenly, the communications systems in Unit 01 flared to life. A sibilant, whispering crackle filled them, from which no discernible words could be heard.

"Asuka! Misato?" yelped Shinji, the coppery taste of his own blood, from the bitten lip, discernible even through the already-bloodlike LCL. "Did you just see that? What... why... what just happened?" He swallowed, the LCL momentarily overpowering his own blood, before the tears came, completely unnoticeable in the fluid around him. "Well... the Herald is dead. Whatever happened. But... but... Rei. She's dead. Th-there's no way that.... that she could have survived that/ It... it... it," he gulped, " went right through the entry plug. Oh... oh..."and he began to sob, uncontrollable breathless shakes that made communication impossible.

A cool hand reached out, and stroked him on the cheek. Reflexively wiping his eyes against the sleeve of the plug suit, for what little good it did, he looked up.

A naked, emaciated woman, her dark hair hanging around her head like dead seaweed in the currents of the orange fluid, hung before him. From under the veil of her hair, two hate-filled eyes glared, accusing him of unknown deeds. Behind her, the wall of the entry plug was malfunctioning, red and yellow and orange coloured warnings flowing flamelike over a blank metal wall.

Shinji screamed then, screamed even as the unnoticeable tears flowed from his eyes, and pulled back, cowering back into the seat in the entry plug to get away from the figure of horror before him. That was when the pain hit him, and the screams changed from ones of terror, to ones of agony.

The human body is an incredibly complicated structure. For one, it is not one specific thing, unlike some other xenobiological lifeforms, but in fact, a broad category of so many components, which covers the organs, muscles, skeletal structure, nervous system, viscera, fat reserves... and even these things are broad categories in their own right. It is an ensemble of any different types of cell, no longer homogeneous, as their forebears once were, and each cell type approaches the complexity of entire organisms. Just compare a bacterium to the smooth muscle cells in the heart, say, or even the ultra-specialised nature of the red blood cell, evolved to maximise its own surface area to volume ratio such that it does not even had a nucleus any more, and the wonders of emergent structure can be seen. Who would have thought that crude bacteria-like lifeforms could end up as something so incredibly complex? And that is before the amazing structure of the brain, a matrix of water and trace elements that somehow produces, through the emergent interaction of its components, the seeming of consciousness. Marvellous.

It does not survive well when it is torn apart from the inside, blood superheated and muscles torn internally by precise telekinetic movements. All that was left... that that she left were the bones, scraps of flesh clinging to the the smooth surface, bound together by the shredded remnants of the plug suit, floating in an expanding cloud of discoloured LCL. The light in Unit 01's one remaining eye evaporated, and it slumped, falling to the ground with an earth-shattering thud.

And the Evangelion suffered the same fate as its pilot, painting the landscape with the ichor of the thing.

Asuka watched the Test Model fall, and spun, firing wildly, melting the earth, trying to find whatever was doing this. She couldn't even see; the blood from Unit 01 smeared her sensors, and even the light of the star-matter that came forth from the plasmathrower was not enough to burn through; in fact, it caked the ichor of the fallen beast to her armour and over her sensors.

"Die!" she screamed, as she blindly searched for her unknown target, operating barely above an instinctual level. "Die! Die! Die! D..."

Something hammered straight into her AT-Field she had spoken withey had taken her baby from her and tore straight through, radiance nullified by an opposed field, already prodigious capacities empowered by the consumed Herald and Unit 01.

She was the second death. The second, of the human species and its subspecies.

They all deserved to die.


This was no peaceful oblivion. The poet was wrong. The world died not with a whimper (unless it was the final yelp of an abused puppy, beaten to death by callous children), but with a bang.

The mother was everywhere. In every shadow, behind every window, the newborn godling attuned to the race which had spawned her. Which had treated her like this.

The walls were painted red, bodies rent asunder across the globe, as the extermination occurred. Flesh liquefied, leaving only charred skeletal remains where they had fallen. And with each death, each consumption, she grew more than she had been, and she was great indeed.

There was no closure. No explanation. No happy endings. Only death.

And retaliation.

Soon, it was done. How soon, was a somewhat dubious question. Time was a human concept, and there were no more humans. Out of... what would it be? Boredom? Amusement? A realisation that they might pose a threat? Some residual human feelings, passed up from her own devoured children? Whatever the reason, she turned her attentions to the Deep Ones.

The seas ran red with blood.

The Migou, horrified by what had happened, tried to kill the planet, negating all attempts at subtlety in a desperate bid to contain the {THREAT}. Blank-faced, she danced inside the continent-sized blossoms of flame, as all turned to ash and dust, the bloody footprints she left behind infused into the glass of what had once been a world.

Soon, empty tombs drifted through the void, Migou flesh just as weak as human flesh.

Other things woke.

She killed and ate them too, just as she had Moloch, for they were weak and newly stirred from the sleep that was death, while she was strong. Something that could be made incorporeal by a mere physical impact when newly awakened stood no chance against her, fortified as she was by an entire biosphere and so many other, greater beings. On a dead world, of barren rock and ruined cities and endless desert and dead seas, the atmosphere once again returning to its natural, anaerobic state, she played.

Soon, she grew bored. How soon, it could not be said, because time was a human concept, and she was far, far from that now-forgotten dead species, which only existed as lased archival records stored by nearby Migou systems; a number and record, buried deep. So she moved on.

Idols were built by the things that were driven mad by her passage through their worlds. She did not care, and did not spare them for it; nor did she target them for it. They were so far beneath her comprehension now, that she did not understand such a thing. If she ever had; what kind of a being was locked in time, unable to feel the past or see the future? What kind of being could not understand the simple mechanical awareness of a matrix of dirty water, feel the universe that flowed around it and change it as it saw fit, or simply go where it wished, how it wished? And against eternity, such a being was brief, transitory, such that it was almost a rounding error. And she could make it so it was.

Soon, she grew bored. How soon, it could not be said, because against the immensity of aeons, time itself withered and died. She chose to sleep then, in the deathless sleep of unbeing that was filled with dreams.

Across the galaxy, statues would be found in the crafts of primitive, now-dead cultures, on many different worlds. And yet they all shared some characteristics. A roughly bipedal form; swathed in some crude kind of garment that many such races had painted using iron oxide; two eyes that stared forth from under a veil of hair in chiselled granite and cave painting alike, positioned on the upper appendage, above a maw which remained sealed in a blank expression which gave the poor archaeologists who found it a feeling that they were but insects.

And they grew afraid, for cults spoke of the time that this being would awake, and break down the old laws, dancing free and unconstrained, in killing and bloodshed and amoral apathy.

Soon, she awoke. How soon, it could not be said, for even the stars burned dim with aeons past. Some even tried to stop her, in crude mechanisms and with poorly understood sciences and sorceries, to valiantly hold her off for just one more day of survival, or even to steal the powers of that which they knew of only as a god.

They died too.

Nyarlathotep watched all this. And a slight frown marred his undying mask.

How boring.