Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion, or anything associated with it. I have written this story solely because I enjoy writing.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything belonging to DC Comics or anything associated with it. I have written this story solely because I enjoy writing.
Chapter 1: The Experiment
There were days when Hikari Horaki couldn't help but feel old.
In a way, she knew that many people would be incredulous at such a notion. After all, she was an energetic young lady of fourteen, the middle daughter of three girls, and every inch the model schoolgirl. A freckled girl with brown hair done up in pigtails, and about as average in appearance as was possible.
But appearances did nothing to stave off the weight responsibility had placed upon her shoulders. The weight of being the Horaki family matriarch, the weight of tending to the needs of her younger and older sisters, and the weight of doing things that she would much rather not be bothered with for their sakes.
Her present situation was a prime example of that sort of situation.
"Kodama! What are we doing here? This is boring!" came the piercing voice of Nozomi, Hikari's younger sister.
"What are you talking about? Look at this place!" Kodama returned with an air of incredulity. Gesturing at the various artifacts that surrounded the three girls. "How can you possibly be bored here?!"
While Nozomi was rolling her eyes in frustrated disbelief, Hikari gave a sigh of resignation, knowing from experience that she was in for a very long day. The younger girl still in grade school, and Kodama presently in college, and the difference in age and schooling was probably the least different things about them. Nozomi had very little in the way of an attention span, and enjoyed anything that was active and exciting. As for Kodama, she was a far more scientific bent, and quickly became enthused with anything to be found in a science text.
As Hikari surveyed the various items surrounding them, she watched as Kodama smiled broadly before going up to one of the items on display. "I mean, look at this!" the eldest sister enthused, gesturing at the object. "This rock was taken from an asteroid while it was still in space! The astronauts were actually able to leave the shuttle and perform an excavation on the asteroid itself!"
"So?" Nozomi asked with a level of disinterest only a girl her age seemed capable of.
"So, this is a raw, untouched sample of extraterrestrial material, completely unchanged by the affects of atmospheric entry!" Kodama explained. "I mean, think about! A perfect sample! And what people did in order to get it…!"
"Space rocks are bad," Nozomi declared, narrowed her eyes in cute rebellion.
"Says who?" Kodama demanded.
"Everybody does!" the younger girl retorted. "A space rock caused Second Impact, remember?"
Shaking her head at Nozomi's answer, the eldest sister countered, "Well, this space rock had absolutely nothing to do that." When the younger girl remained unimpressed, Kodama added, "Anyway, think of what people have learned from objects like this! About the structure of the universe, the possibility of alien life -!"
"I bet the Angels are aliens," Nozomi grumbled.
"No less alien than those things in those anime you watch all the time," Kodama pointed out, losing her patience.
"That's different!" Nozomi protested. "Ryoko and Ayeka are good aliens! Not like the Angels!"
"Well, did it ever occur to you that we might find evidence of other 'good aliens' from things like this?" Kodama stated, smiling like the cat that had eaten the canary. Nozomi's answer was to look away in a sulky manner, something the eldest sister took as a sign of victory.
Though Hikari sometimes found the bickering of her siblings to be amusing, this was not one of those times. This was due in part to the added stress that had become a part of their lives. Though their father, Tanaka Horaki, was a kind and loving father, he was also a technician at NERV, an organization that was the only real line of defense against the Angels. While this post was difficult in and of itself, there were others problems with such a life, including living a city that had been designed to be a fortress, capable of weathering any assault.
Then, less than a week ago, the entire city had been evacuated. Every citizen of Tokyo-3 and much of the NERV personnel had been sent fleeing for their lives in the face of a terrible danger. And even after the danger had passed, things had yet to return to normal for the city and its inhabitants.
I can't believe how close we came…to losing everything, Hikari mulled, feeling a dull chill, the echo of fears she had felt before. The pigtailed girl thinking of the days that had followed their return to Tokyo-3, of her conversations with Asuka Langley-Sohryu.
As a pilot of one of the three mighty Evangelions, Asuka had been present for the confrontation with this latest Angel. She had gone into great detail about the battle, particularly how she had been the one to levy the fatal blow against the monster. And if the German girl had stuck to her normal braggadocio, then Hikari would have been just fine with that, having long since grown accustomed to Asuka's bravado.
But Asuka had gone into greater deal. Had gone on to describe how close all of Tokyo-3 had come to annihilation. Of how, not just NERV, but the homes and livelihoods of everyone who could resided within the fortress city had come to being destroyed forever. And how dangerously close Hikari had come to losing three fellow students, one of whom was her best friend, and how her family had very nearly lost the stability and reassurance that having a place to call home brought them, and every little treasure and item of luxury they had.
A few years ago, Hikari had lost her mother, and had almost been broken by it, along with her sisters. Losing her home and watching her family suffer the agony of such an occurrence was something she had very much feared she would not be able to withstand.
This was why, when Kodama had been invited by one of her college professors to assist him in some project, Hikari had thought it would be a good idea for the three sisters to make a trip out of it. To do something to forget their woes and maybe do some other fun things while they were at it. Especially since the project related to a major exhibition taking place at the university regarding manned exploration of space, something that had gone dead in the post-Impact world. The pigtailed matriarch had honestly thought it would be interesting for all three of the girls.
It had seemed like a good idea on paper. But unfortunately for Hikari, the transition from paper to real life very rarely went as planned, with a number of difficulties clogging things up. The train being late had been the very first thing to go wrong, with Nozomi immediately falling prey to boredom as the three girls moved about the display hall, which had some old equipment and various rocks and other artifacts on display. No animatronics, no video shows, nothing that would spark the younger girl's interest.
"C'mon, sister! Can't we go to the mall or someplace fun?" Nozomi asked plaintively. The little girl tugging at Hikari's sleeve in an effort to force all attention on her. "There's nothing to do here!"
Stung by this declaration, Kodama whirled about, clearly intent on explaining all the wonderfully scientific things that could and would be done in a well-equipped facility such as Tokyo-2 University. Her face shifting from annoyance to sympathy as she looked at Hikari's face, and apparently realizing the burden that was being placed on her. Giving the middle sister a sympathetic look, Kodama said, "Actually, Hikari…you really don't have to stay here. What Professor Ousugi has planned shouldn't take all that long, and there's a pizza place and arcade where a lot of the guys hang out. It's practically on campus, and…
You have no idea how tempting that is, Hikari thought ruefully. A feeling that was increased by Nozomi jumping up and down in excitement, almost sending the pigtailed girl to the floor in her enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, there was one thing all three Horaki girls had in common, and that was having a stubborn streak as wide as an Eva was tall. And Hikari had set about this plan with the hopes of the three of them being able to relax together. Spend some time as a family, something that had been eluding them as of late.
"Well…" Hikari started, considering her options. Then with a reluctant sigh, she said, "Okay…but I'd like to at least meet your sensei. I'd hate to have come all this way without at least seeing him."
While it was clear Nozomi was disappointed that they would not be immediately departing this place for a location more to her liking, the fact that Hikari was making this concession was enough to stop her from adding a whine to her petulant face. While Kodama managed to smile for her benefit. "Okay," the eldest sister spoke. "Just be careful, okay? Sensei's lab is kinda…crowded."
"What hit this place?" Nozomi wondered, her little eyes bulging clear out of their sockets. "An earthquake, or a hurricane?"
Stifling a groan of dismay, Hikari couldn't help but privately agree with her little sister. The small room in which the three girls had found themselves in contained a series of shelves upon which boxes filled with various articles. There were also many boxes on the floor, as way as research notes and papers here and there. All of it giving the impression of a chaos that might one day be unraveled and understood. Though probably by a computer far superior to all three of the MAGI.
"Nozomi!" Kodama gasped, shushing the little girl, her eyes narrowed with wariness. Stiffening at the sound of approaching footsteps.
"Neither, actually," came a refined, male voice. The sisters shifted about, watching as a tall, slender man with a cigarette butt dangling carelessly from his lips came into view. He was dressed very casually in slacks, a loose shirt and a crooked tie, and a rumpled lab coat. An untidy mop of dark hair topped him off.
"Oh, sensei!" Kodama blurted as the man approached, wrapping his arms about her. The eldest Horaki daughter returned his embrace, and when it was eventually broken, she looked back at her sisters. "Um…about what Nozomi said…"
Waving his hand, the scientist smiled easily. "Think nothing of it, my dear!" Professor Ousugi replied, dismissing the young woman's concerns. "After all, several of my colleagues have wondered if Second Impact was somehow responsible for my lab's condition. And right to my face, I might add!" As the older man laughed at his own joke, the other two girls joined in, followed shortly by Kodama. Still chuckling over his own wit, the scientist moved to examine his student's sisters.
"Now, let's see…" Ousugi began, a finger at his lip. He then pointed at the girls, saying, "You're Hikari, and Nozomi, right?"
"That's right," Hikari returned with a nod.
"Oh, good. I was worried I'd gotten them mixed up," Ousugi smiled once again, giving a casual shake of his head. "Show me an asteroid or a pulsar, and I can rattle off everything you could ever want to know about it, but when it comes to people's names, I can barely my own, let alone those of others."
When Nozomi once again laughed, Hikari felt her own heart lightening somewhat. She had so wanted for the three of them to be as a family on this trip, without any splitting up, each sister doing her own thing. Something that seemed more likely now.
If there was anything she had learned from the loss of her mother, it was that there wasn't always enough time to do everything, say everything that should be said and done. That moments together should never be wasted.
"So, Kodama told me that the two of you were interested in having a little look-see at our little experiment today," the professor went on. His demeanor that as of caller for a circus, a veritable magnet for the curious.
"Uh, that's right, sensei," Kodama agreed, eyeing Hikari. "Maybe you could…tell them what you had in mind?"
"Oh, it's just spectacular! Simply spectacular!" Ousugi grinned, speaking more with his hands than with his mouth. "A few months ago, I was able to acquire a sample of a meteorite that had crashed to earth several years ago. Now, I'll admit that at first glance, this sample didn't look all that impressive." With the younger girls successfully hooked, the professor grinned as he led up to his bombshell. "I stress, at first glance. However…"
"However…" Hikari prompted when the scientist trailed off. Seeming to revel in the tension he created.
"Then, we took a cutting of the specimen's core, and performed a full spectral analysis," Ousugi went on, pacing about before the two girls. "And you'll never believe what we found!"
"Sensei, please!" Kodama chided, her face too full of amusement to be taken seriously. "Don't you think you've milked the suspense enough?"
Giving his student a somewhat pouty look, Ousugi shook his head before returning his attention to her sisters. "That Kodama. She never lets me have any fun!"
"Tell me about it!" Nozomi grinned, taking an immediate liking to the man.
Sharing in her little sister's enthusiasm, Hikari gave the professor a more serious look. "So…what did you find?"
"A miracle! A mystery of the cosmos that shall shed light on the very nature of life itself!" Ousugi went on. Only to be cut short by Kodama clearing her throat. Giving a reluctant sigh, the professor settled down. "Well, before I explain the nature of my find, I'll ask you this. Are either of you heard about the missions to Mars, or explorations of passing asteroids? Of how fossilized cell samples were found in samples taken from them?"
"Yeah?" Nozomi asked.
"Well, we found something like that, except for one major difference!" Ousugi grinned brightly. Squatting down so as to look the two girls straight in their eyes, the scientist allowed the moment to grow, to fill with tension. "The samples we found aren't fossilized."
Confusion exploded within Hikari's mind, and a quick glance revealed that Nozomi was in a similar state. The two girls looked the scientist to each other and back again. "What?" Hikari gaped.
"You mean…you've got a real live alien in there?" Nozomi demanded.
"Oh, don't get me wrong! It's just a sample of cells, and I'm not sure that the word 'live' really applies," Ousugi corrected them. "But these cells are completely organic, and appear to be intact specimens," the professor explained, his excitement growing with each word he spoke. "Intact enough for me to try…a little experiment."
"An experiment?" Hikari asked.
"Sensei thinks that it might be possible to stimulate the cells," Kodama explained. "If we hit them with a proper band of low-band EM frequencies…"
"Then for a very short time, those cells should function as they did when they were truly alive!" the professor exalted, clenching his fists with excitement. Looking every bit like a little boy, getting ready for a day at an amusement park. "In that brief period, we will not only have evidence of alien life, but a better glimpse at how that life in fact lived! Cellular metabolism, functions, a thousand things we can only guess at!"
"On top of that, if the procedure does work, the cells should recover enough for us to be able to extract an intact sampling of DNA," Kodama added brightly. "We might be able to map out an alien genome, possibly even perform a tissue reconstruction!"
Nozomi's cute little face wrinkled up at this. "Tissue reconstruction?"
"You mean…you might even be able to tell…what these things looked like?" Hikari gasped disbelievingly.
"Precisely!" Ousugi jumped. "All my life, I've studied astronomy, have postulated on the possibility of alien life! And now I have the chance to perhaps look at our unknown neighbors in the face!"
Blinking as she looked Kodama, unsure whether to be jumping with excitement as well or looking into loony bins for the professor, Hikari settled for giving Ousugi a baffled look. "Well…that sounds great and all, but…if that's the case…why don't you report this to…?"
"Some higher authority?" Ousugi gathered. When Hikari nodded, the scientist gave a bitter snort. "Young lady, even if Second Impact hadn't forced a rather substantial shift away from space exploration, having NERV gobble up every scrap of available money has made my kind of research into extraterrestrial phenomena all but impossible!"
"Sensei!" Kodama chided.
"I know, I know! And I certainly don't hold your father responsible for the bureaucratic mentality that I must suffer with! And I am fully aware that all of the knowledge in the universe won't do humanity an ounce of good if we're not around to enjoy it!" the professor grumbled in a good-natured fashion. Shrugging helplessly, Ousugi returned his attention to the two girls. "I'm simply trying to explain to these fine young ladies that, at the moment, I'm about as a high an authority as one can expect to find in regards to such matters."
"Oh," Hikari got out, seeing the older man's point.
"Sorry," Nozomi added, shuffling about on her feet.
"What are you talking about? If anyone should be sorry, it should be me for sounding off like that!" Ousugi responded, instantly regaining his good humor. Placing a hand on the girls' shoulders, he declared, "Tell you what! After we're done making history here, how about we go out for pizza and ice cream? My treat?"
Hikari could only grin as Nozomi jumped for joy. Professor Ousugi had obviously made a fan out of her.
"So, how about it, ladies?" the professor went on, grinning infectiously. "Are you in the mood to see history in the making?"
Moving quickly, Ousugi escorted the Horaki sisters to another section of the university, one that was as neat and tidy as his own lab was a disaster area. Machines and computers hummed quietly in the background, devices whose functions Hikari could only guess surrounded her. And in the center of it all was a massive machine that looked like a cross between a dentist's X-ray machine and a blaster that would look at home on a Klingon battle cruiser.
"Behold! The spectral transponder!" Ousugi gushed, gesturing at the machine before them. Hikari had already discovered that the professor was a man of many expressions and demeanors. Now he was adding the look of a proud father to his repertoire as he gazed at the device. "This is the little darling we'll be using to get a better look at our extraterrestrial neighbors!"
"Do you think that they'll be bad aliens or good aliens?" Nozomi wondered.
Easily smiling in the face of the child's question, Ousugi shrugged. "Well, I'm afraid that this device isn't quite sophisticated enough to be able to answer a question like that," the professor admitted laughingly. "All we can do is hope that it's up to the task of getting a few cells to roll over and play alive for a while!"
"I wouldn't worry about it, Nozomi," Kodama told the girl. "Even if something goes wrong, I really don't think an Angel will pop out and destroy us."
"Alright, then! Kodama! Ready the transponder for action! Ladies! Why don't you get behind that shielding over there?" Professor Ousugi instructed as he marched purposely to one side of the lab. "It's time for me to fetch…the guest of honor!"
"Hikari, Nozomi, this way," Kodama instructed, the eldest sister ushering her siblings behind a thick transparency. "The transponder will only be emitting at the low band of the EM spectrum, but there's no harm in playing it safe."
"No arguments here," Hikari agreed as the two girls took up position.
"Okay," Kodama spoke as she moved away. "Now, I'll be with the professor at the control station. Just wait right here until the procedure is done, and don't touch anything!"
"How can we? There's nothing to touch!" Nozomi protested. The eldest Horaki sister rolled her eyes at this, giving a groan of despair as she turned and made her way over to her station. Leaving the remaining siblings to watch and wait.
It wasn't long before Professor Ousugi reappeared, gingerly handling a small tray. With a grin of anticipation, the scientist placed the sample upon a podium at the center of the lab before darting off to join Kodama.
"Everything's in place!" the scientist grinned, rubbing his hands together in glee. "Kodama! Align the spectral transponder with the sample!"
"Right, sensei!" Kodama answered. Hikari watched as her elder sister moved with practiced ease, depressing several key controls. The arm from which the transponder hung swung about, moving the device so that it hovered above the podium, the barrel pointed directly at it.
"I'm bringing all the sensory equipment online!" Ousugi announced he leapt from one control panel to the next. As he did so, the various machines within the lab began to home with greater force, the lab lighting up like a Christmas tree. "We have to get as much data as possible! Every scrap of information! I don't know how long we'll be able to stimulate the cells into activity, but we can't afford to miss out on even a moment of their renewed life!"
With Kodama the very essence of control and the professor prancing about like he was practicing for a hopscotch tournament, Hikari could only shake her head in amusement at the contrast in their personalities. And wait for the two of them to complete their preparations.
After what felt like forever but was probably only a couple minutes, Hikari finally heard Professor Ousugi clap his hands together. "Get ready, ladies! It is now…show time!" the scientist exalted. "Kodama! Activate the transponder! It's time to see how well our guest of honor dances!"
"I'm bringing the spectral transponder online…now!" Kodama declared, and with final press of a button, the transponder came to life. A wave of rainbow light sprang forth from the barrel, bathing the podium in its light.
"Wow! It's so pretty!" Nozomi enthused, something Hikari had to agree with.
"Sensei…I'm getting readings from the sample!" Kodama declared, a grin splitting her face. "We're detecting signs of cellular activity!"
"Marvelous! Stupendous! Extraordinary!" Professor Ousugi cried out, jumping frantically from one station to another, looking at the various readouts. "Look at this data! The biochemical analysis! The energy potential! Cellular metabolism! All of it right there! Extraterrestrial biological functions, and we're witnessing them with our own eyes!"
Nozomi grinned at Hikari, who grinned in return. Watching the scientist bound about his lab like an overexcited schoolboy was far more interesting and entertaining then the experiment itself could ever be.
A couple of minutes passed, with the scientist and his student going about their business. Rapt in their work and oblivious to anything else. Then a suspicious beeping made its way to Hikari's ears, and when the young matriarch looked at the control booth, she saw concern ghosting Kodama's face. "Sensei…?"
"Hmm?" Professor Ousugi returned, barely conscious of Kodama as he went about his work.
"I'm getting an odd reading here," the young woman admitted. This succeeded in grabbing the professor's attention, and he came to hover over her shoulder. "These readings…they're growing too fast!"
"Oh, no…!" the scientist gasped in horror. "We've overloaded the cellular membranes! Quick1 Shut the transponder down before it -!"
Even as Professor Ousugi spoke these words, it was too late. The tiny specimen in the center of the room exploded in a plume of smoke, the foul vapors spilling out across the floor and spreading out towards the viewing area.
"Nozomi!" Hikari gasped out, hurriedly wrapping her arms about her sister and pushing her as far away from the noxious cloud as she could. Shielding the little girl's mouth and nose with the sleeve of her shirt, Hikari moved her to a safe distance, coughing as the rancid fumes filled her lungs. Her eyes tearing badly, the pigtailed girl was blinded as she tried to make her way to safety.
"Sister!" came the muffled voice of Nozomi, but Hikari couldn't make sense of it. She couldn't make sense of anything as the world swirled about her. Sending her off her feet, falling to the floor as she descended into a pool of darkness.
"I simply cannot apologize enough for what happened to you today, my dear," Professor Ousugi spoke sorrowfully. Now wearing the face of man witnessing a loved one on his or her deathbed. "I can't imagine what could have gone wrong back there."
"It's not your fault, Professor," Hikari replied. The girl was currently lying on a couch in his office, a bag of ice on her head.
"That's right, sensei! You couldn't have known something like that would happen! None of us could!" Kodama insisted, placing a reassuring hand on her mentor's shoulder. "To be honest…I'm not even sure what happened back there!"
"Clearly, these cells have a very low tolerance for heat or excessive levels of energy," the professor grimaced. "They must have come from an environment substantially cooler than our own, and – oh, I'm sorry! Here I am, rambling on like an idiot after what I did to you!"
"Its okay, Professor," Hikari answered. "After all…it's not like you forced me to come and watch."
Frowning despondently, Nozomi looked at the girl who had just suffered. "Are you sure you're all right, sister?"
Mustering up a weak grin, Hikari answered, "Aside from this ringing in my ears, yeah. I'm okay." Taking her sister's hand in her own, the pigtailed girl added, "Okay enough to go out for pizza and ice cream."
While Nozomi was sucking in a delighted breath, Kodama frowned in concern. "Hikari, are you sure about that?" the eldest sister asked. "I really think you should see a doctor, and…"
"Kodama, really! I'm fine!" Hikari returned, which was more or less true. While the middle sister was feeling somewhat under the weather, she didn't feel it significant enough to warrant an immediate examination. "Besides, it's not like I'd get a case of alien cooties from that stuff, right?"
Nodding, the professor told them, "That's correct. According to our analysis, the cells in that sample overheated and exploded. And even if they haven't all gone up in smoke, without continued bombardment from the transponder, then they would return dormancy."
"Which means no I'm in no danger of becoming moon sick," Hikari commented as she sat herself up. Needing to be strong for the sake of her sisters. Then allowing herself to smile once more, she looked at the professor. "So…if that offer for a treat still stands…I'd like to take you up on it."
Sighing as he shed his fearful expression, Professor Ousugi once again adopted one of boyish glee. "Well, in that case, ladies, let us be off then!" the scientist declared, putting a cigarette in his mouth and lighting it. "After having to put up with a poor man's mad scientist, you -!"
The professor was cut off as Hikari issued a strangled gasp, and practically fell off the couch. Her sisters quickly fell next to her. "Hikari, are you all right?" Kodama wondered. The middle sister gave a quick nod, to which Kodama shot up and gave the scientist an accusing look. "Sensei! What were you thinking?! Having a cigarette now?! After what just happened?!"
"Yeah!" Nozomi threw in, putting her hands to her hips and looking as officious as she could muster. "Didn't anyone tell you that smoking was bad for you?"
While Professor Ousugi sputtered in apology, putting out his cigarette, Hikari just sat there. Unable to speak, to explain that it wasn't the newly spawned smoke of the cigarette that had her fall over.
It was the lighter, which was still open. The flames of which filled the pigtailed girl with a deep, abiding fear…
Author's Notes: Since Mike313 did Hikari's story for "Superwomen of Eva", it only seems fair that I do her story for the "SOE2" series. Please, read and review! And maybe check out my other stories.
Now, those of you who are fans of DC comics probably have an idea or two what hero Hikari is becoming. For those of you not in the know…well, unlike Mike, I don't feel the need to blow the secret in the first chapter. And because I'm just so mean, I'm going to let all of you wait until I feel like updating this story again before I confirm any guesses you might have.
Until next time!