" 'It only gets stranger from here.' That's the second time you've said that. What else could've possibly happened?"
The mirthless smile remained on Misato's face.
When Misato came to, she found the command center in ruins. Billions of yen worth of supercomputers, holographic displays, and other ridiculously expensive equipment was absolutely trashed; more importantly, most of the command center's staff was sprawled across either said equipment or the floor in varying states of injury. After checking, and finding herself bruised and banged but not severely injured, Misato stood, trying to decide what to do first. She heard sirens in the distance—good, the base's fire department was already on the way. So then, the first thing to do would be to see if there was anyone who needed immediate help, and then figure out a way to contact Tokyo-3, let them know something had gone--
"Hello? Hello? Can anyone hear me? Misato? Anyone?"
Impossibly, one of the EVA monitor stations was still online and getting audio from Unit 04, though the screen that should have been showing the video feed was in pieces. Misato ran over and grabbed the microphone, eliciting groans from some apparently semi-conscious staff that she nearly tripped over.
"Haruhi! Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, I banged my head against the wall but it's not too bad. What happened?" The voice on the other end was confused but oddly calm.
"Something went wrong with Toji's power-up test. I—we aren't sure exactly what yet, but Unit 3 appears to have exploded."
"Exploded?! Is Toji all right?"
"I don't know, I'm not even...sure..." Something caught Misato's eye. A huge chunk had been blown out of the command center's wall, through which she could see a hulking, vaguely humanoid shape, black as the night, walking out of sight. At the same time, one of the last things she saw before the explosion came to mind: a cluster of flashing red screens displaying 'WARNING: BLUE PATTERN DETECTED'.
Misato was fluent in several languages—someone as high-ranking as her in a multinational organization like NERV had to be—and it was her observation that while the nature of the Japanese language made it fairly easy to insult a specific person, her native tongue was woefully inadequate when it came to general, target-less swearing. And so it was that an impressive variety of profanities in English, German, and French filled the air as she rushed to the control stations that had been linked to Unit 03.
They were dead, of course. Mostly smashed, too. There was more cursing.
Leaving Haruhi in the cold, Misato found the communications console. Also wrecked. On the edge of panic, she pulled out her cellphone and mashed in the emergency number, hoping she had remembered it correctly.
"Thank you for calling NERV GeoFront Base. To--" The rest of the automated message was lost over Misato yelling "Authorization Katsuragi four-eight-delta-two-nine!" The phone beeped, and within seconds someone was on the line.
"Major Katsuragi. I've just received reports of a large explosion in the Matsushiro area. May I ask what, exactly, is happening?" 'Someone' being Commander Ikari himself.
"Sir, there's been an accident." Misato hurriedly explained what she could piece together to the commander.
"Acknowledged. That fits with the telemetry we are receiving here. Our control systems are in range of and connected to Unit 03, but both the pilot and the EVA are unresponsive. I will give the orders to launch Units 00 through 02 to intercept; you and whatever's left of the Matsushiro staff should attempt to launch Unit 04 as well."
Fat chance, Misato thought as she saw a console short out rather spectacularly. "Roger that. I don't think enough of the equipment is left intact to bring the Eva online, though."
"I see. Do what you can, then. Ikari out."
As the line went dead, Misato took another look around. Some of the command center's staff were apparently beginning to recover, and the fire department had arrived. As soon as those with major injuries had been carried out (she noticed with no small relief that there were no body bags), she found a position from which she could face everyone who remained.
"All right, ladies and gentlemen. Here's the situation, as far as we know it. The source of the explosion was Evangelion Unit 03, which has, through unknown means, become an Angel. It is currently on its way to Tokyo-3. The NERV base there is currently deploying Evangelion units to intercept it, but Commander Ikari has asked me to deploy Unit 04 if possible. The fire department has informed me that the building appears to be stable, despite the nice view of the sunset you now have. So. Can we do this? What's still working? I know we still have an audio feed from Unit 04." She wasn't actually expecting results, but she needed to at least give it a shot.
Silence for a moment, as everyone checked to see if the equipment nearest them was still running. Then some muttered cursing and looks of disappointment. Finally, one blond-haired, bespectacled technical officer spoke up.. "This station is still running! The screens're busted, but the one next to it looks good; if I can--"
"Yes ma'am." The tech dove under the desk, presumably to fiddle with the wiring. After a moment, he popped back up to examine his handiwork; Misato could see the light of a computer screen reflected in his glasses. "It's working! It's..." He frowned in confusion. "It's the primary startup system for Unit 04."
Misato knew why he was confused. While any of the smaller terminals like that one could be used to initiate the Eva's startup sequence—they were all linked to the same pseudo-MAGI supercomputer bank much deeper underground, after all—that task had been assigned to the two main terminals at the front of the room: one for Unit 03, and one for Unit 04. There was no good reason she could think of that that particular console would be set up to activate the Evangelion.
For now, though, she wasn't about to question the lucky break. She hurried over to the single active console. "Well? Can we start it up?"
The tech squinted, trying to read the vast array of information from three screens barely a quarter the size of the ones the program had been designed for. After a moment, he turned back to Misato and shook his head. "No, ma'am. The main power lines have been cut off, and the emergency generators are only barely enough to keep the computers running. We don't have a fraction of the power we need to activate the Eva. We could drain the batteries to provide the startup charge, but that would leave it with barely three minutes of power. And the batteries seem to be busted, or at least knocked loose." He tapped a knuckle on one part of the screen; the battery status readout said that they were empty.
So much for the lucky break. Misato resisted the urge to kick the very expensive and now very useless electronics surrounding her. Wait...batteries...now I remember... "Isn't Unit 04 different, though? Doesn't it run under its own power?"
The tech frowned again. "I wasn't aware of anything like that; the startup sequence is the same as the one for Unit 03."
"If I could answer that?" A blond-haired man Misato didn't recognize spoke up from behind her in slightly American-accented but fluent Japanese; presumably he was one of the scientists flown in from Area 51. Misato nodded. "Evangelion Unit 04 is powered by an S² engine, and is therefore theoretically capable of operating independently for an indefinite amount of time. However, it still requires an initial charge to allow the zero-point siphon to begin the quantum degen--"
"Spare me the technobabble." Misato wished Ritsuko was there, but unfortunately, her old friend had been carried out unconscious on a stretcher with a bandage around her forehead." Can we start it or not?"
"...No, we can't. It requires approximately the same amount of energy as the original Evangelion startup process, and unfortunately, Unit 04 does not have a battery pack."
And that's why the batteries are showing as empty. Dammit. "So we can't do anything."
"...I'm sorry, but no, ma'am. Evangelion Unit 04 is staying put. And so is its pilot."
"So this explosion started in the test building, and yet left it stable enough for you and some of the staff to stay in there?" Ritsuko's expression had shifted from one of confusion to frank disbelief.
"Yes. And then proceeded to nearly level the rest of the base. The only building left standing for about a quarter mile around is right at ground zero. Apparently, except for that one anomaly, the explosion was equivalent to a medium-yield N2 bomb."
"I'm starting to think you're making this all up to give me a headache."
"I wish I was. And would you believe that when we checked later, those two consoles were the only ones left running? Completely undamaged, too, except for the broken monitors."
"I suppose this is the supreme insanity you've been leading up to." It was extremely weird, yes, but so far Ritsuko hadn't heard anything that would give her a worse headache than dealing with the Evas and the "science" behind them.
"Oh, no. The best parts are still yet to come."
At that, Misato remembered the most important person in the process of getting an Evangelion up and running. Rushing over to the still-active monitor console, she hit the microphone button. "Haruhi? Are you still there?"
"Yep. I started thinking you'd forgotten about me. What's up?"
Misato explained everything she had pieced together since she had seen EVA-03 leaving the base. "...and so you're stuck here. Stuck in the cockpit, for that matter, since we don't even have enough power to eject the entry plug."
"...You're telling me that my Eva has some kind of super-advanced generator that can run forever, but it won't start up because they forgot to put in the batteries?"
That was actually a surprisingly accurate assessment of the situation. "...Well, mainly because we don't have any power. The batteries are kind of a side issue." A side issue that someone in Nevada would be losing their job over, if she had any say in it.
"You've got to be kidding me." Misato could hear actual anger in the Fifth Child's voice now. "This is bullshit! This thing is controlled by my mind, right? Can't I just will it to work or something?"
"I'm sorry, Haruhi, but it just doesn't work that--"
"POWER ON! ACTIVATE! WORK, DAMN YOU, WORK!"
Misato didn't even have time to be taken aback by Haruhi's sudden outburst before the tech who had found the working terminal called to her. "Ma'am! There's something happening...I think you should see this."
Misato once again moved back to the console. The tech was pointing to the battery readout on the screen.
As she watched, the empty battery readout seemed to twist and distort itself into a circular dial of some kind. A white bar appeared at the center of the dial, and then, another one atop it at an angle. Slowly at first, then faster and faster, the bars formed a white line spiraling to the edge of the dial. A...power meter, or something?
Suddenly, a large number of things started happening on the screens at once. Misato recognized it immediately—it was the entire Evangelion power-up sequence. But nobody had done anything—the A10 nerve connections, the harmonic checks, everything was somehow happening automatically, and faster than any human could do it.
She heard Haruhi's voice again: "See! I told ya, I just had to think hard enough at it!"
Even as Misato marveled at the absurdity of that statement, she looked again at the console's screen. There, dead center, was a window saying simply:
STATUS: NO DAMAGE
SYNC RATIO: 95%
REMAINING POWER: ∞
Ritsuko burst out laughing. Misato simply stared until the laughs subsided enough for her friend to begin talking again.
"Thank you, Misato...I haven't had a good laugh in I don't know how long. You really had me going there."
"You think I'm joking."
"Of course I think you're joking! 'Thinking hard enough at it'? That's...that's beyond ridiculous. If it was that easy, I hardly think we'd have the whole startup sequence."
"...I thought you might say so. Maybe my version is a little overly dramatic." Misato held up a file folder with a very large CLASSIFIED sticker on it. "You want the official report? It has the Commander's signature and everything."
Misato's face maintained the same faint smile as she handed the file down to her bed-ridden friend. Ritsuko ignored the alarm bells going off in her head and began to read...
This was not one of Shinji Ikari's best days. Of course, any day in which he had to pilot Unit 01 automatically counted as not one of his best days, but this one ranked pretty low so far. As usual, he had been called up out of nowhere in the middle of doing his homework, and then sent out to intercept the incoming Angel with virtually no intel on what it was or how it fought. This time, he hadn't even gotten a picture of the stupid thing.
He had, of course, quickly found out that the "Angel" was an out-of-control EVA-03, and that it had made short work of Asuka and Rei. And then it started making short work of him. As a result, the black Eva now had its hands wrapped around Unit 01's throat, and the synchronization effect was starting to make it difficult for him to breathe. The audio feed from NERV rather unnecessarily confirmed this: "Life support systems failing. Pilot's vital signs decreasing."
And then his father's voice. "Shinji. Why aren't you fighting back?"
True, he could break EVA-03's grip rather easily if he wanted to. But... "I can't! There's still a person in there!"
"Irrelevant. It's an Angel. Our enemy."
"The pilot might still be alive! I can't kill another human being..." True, he might have been able to kill the Eva without damaging the entry plug, but it would be a long shot, and he didn't want to know what even that might do to the pilot if he was still synchronized.
"It's him or you." His father's words left no room for doubt; oddly enough, this only strengthened Shinji's resolve not to harm Unit 03's pilot.
"No. I'd rather--"
"New contact incoming!" A different voice broke into the conversation. "It's...it's Unit 04! Uplink established!"
Silence for a moment, and then several things happened at once. First, a new video window opened in Shinji's HUD, showing a vaguely familiar face screaming a wordless "KYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Second, the pressure around his throat abruptly dropped. Third, the inky black, vaguely humanoid form that was currently filling his vision was briefly replaced by a silver flash from the left, then by the clear evening sky.
There was another moment of silence. Then, the still-nameless voice from NERV spoke up. "Did she just...jump-kick it?"
Shinji got Unit 01 back on its feet, and looked over to where the silver flash had gone. The black Eva was now on its back, at the end of what looked like an impressive skid (which had, incidentally, demolished a small neighborhood). In front of it was yet another Eva, one he had never seen before, presumably Unit 04. It appeared to have also fallen down, although it was already springing back to its feet.
Unit 03 appeared stunned for the moment. Unit 04 took the opportunity to stand straight up and fold its arms across its chest. As Shinji watched, the video feed showed the pilot striking the exact same pose as she spoke:
"Evangelion Unit 04, and Evangelion pilot Haruhi Suzumiya, have arrived!"
And It's An Adventure proves, once again, that it just refuses to die. After seeing Rebuild 2.0, I almost decided to reboot it again and put it in the Rebuild continuity, but eventually decided that that wasn't a particularly good idea.
I really wish I had some kind of skill at drawing; I personally think this story would work much better as a comic than in purely written form. Things like Haruhi doing the Gunbuster Pose at the end...it's hard to make them sound nearly as badass without having the visuals to back it up.
C2A2. Feel free to tell me everything you thought was wrong with this chapter, and maybe everything you liked as well.