Disclaimer: Neon Genesis Evangelion is the creation of Anno and Gainax. I don't own it, make no claims to it, and am making no profit from the fan fiction. No infringement of copyright is intended. In other words, please don't sue.
Disclaimer: I do not own DC Comics or anything associated with it, and I am making no profit from this fan fiction. No infringement of copyright is intended. In other words, please don't sue.
Prologue: The Realization and the Random
The atmosphere within the NERV command center was tense, though that was only to be expected, given the situation. After all, those few personnel who remained knew only too well that the Tenth Angel would soon descend upon the city like the giant sledgehammer of god. If it managed to impact the earth with its AT field still up, Tokyo-3 would be destroyed like a sandcastle subjected to the force of a tidal wave.
"Everything's all set," Misato said to herself, then turned her attention to the bridge crew. "The rest of you can all evacuate now, too. I can handle things on my own from this point on."
"No way!" Aoba said at once. "This is our job, too."
"Right," Makoto agreed earnestly. "We're not leaving."
Maya just gave a firm nod of agreement.
Misato smiled. "Thanks, guys."
They trust her, Ritsuko thought, silently watching the scene from the back of the command center.
She herself didn't trust Misato, not this time. While Ritsuko was perfectly willing to admit that when it came to tactics, Misato was usually insanely brilliant (or perhaps brilliantly insane would be a better way to put it, given the crazy but effective plans the Ops Director sometimes came up with), she had seen the odds of success that the MAGI had given this operation. And she knew that Misato was ignoring them because of her vendetta against the Angels.
It suddenly occurred to her that she could leave. There was no great need for NERV's top scientist at the moment, and there was still time for her to get away and to a safer area of Japan. It would probably go unnoticed if she snuck out, and in any case, she'd already made her opinion of Misato's chosen course of action abundantly clear.
Yet, strangely, she found that she simply didn't have the will to go fleeing from Tokyo-3 at top speed. Despite her knowledge that the city was almost certainly going to be utterly shattered in the near future, killing everyone within it, she couldn't muster the energy to run.
Frowning, she silently examined this strange absence of basic survival instincts she found within herself.
It shocked her to realize that she wasn't driving like a madwoman away from Tokyo-3 because she simply didn't care all that much whether she lived or died. Her life had just become so miserable and joyless that she couldn't generate any fear of death.
This is a new low, even for you, Akagi, she thought dourly.
Part of her lack of enthusiasm was the knowledge that the Commanders were safely away from Japan, meaning that if the city was destroyed and she survived, it would be her, Gendo, and Fuyutski trying to rebuild NERV in time for the next Angel. She just didn't think she could handle that.
Mostly, though, her apathy flowed from issues that weren't likely to change any time soon. The guilt she carried over how she was helping to bring a Third Impact ever closer grew heavier with each passing day, preventing her from sleeping even when she was able to find a few interrupted hours away from work in which she could attempt to rest.
Her "meetings" with Gendo were also becoming increasing mechanical, as he abandoned the various pretenses of romance he'd once made, becoming ever more confident that he had total control of her.
And the worst part was that he was right. Despite how bad her life was now, she was too afraid of Gendo's wrath to defy him. And regardless of how her relationship with the man had decayed, she was too afraid of being alone to leave him.
I really am pathetic, she thought as she looked up at the command center's main screen, wondering when exactly the battle would commence.
Over an hour later, the Angel finally entered visual range of the city, and the command was given for the EVA Units to move out.
Detaching their umbilical cables, which could only be a hindrance on such a short, do-or-die mission, the three armored giants went sprinting across the landscape. To the few observers, it was an awesome sight, the trio of Evangelions thundering across the city, unable to avoid destroying the asphalt of the streets beneath their enormous boots as they went.
Unfortunately, the Tenth Angel was even greater and more terrible than all three Evangelions put together. An enormous shape like an Egyptian hieroglyphic, its shadow blanketed the entire city as it descended, wreathed in plasma from its entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
Looking at it on the main screen with the rest of the personnel in the NERV command center, Ritsuko suddenly knew in her heart that she would never see the sun rise over the horizon ever again.
All three EVA Units were moving at an incredible pace for things as big as they were, but somehow, Unit One managed to give it one particularly great burst of speed, rocketing onto the top of a grassy hill just in time to halt the Angel's descent.
"AT field full power!" Shinji shouted as he raised Unit One's arms.
A hexagonal barrier of energy flashed into being between the Angel and the Evangelion, and to Ritsuko's amazement, the descent of the Tenth Angel was halted.
Then, the ground beneath Unit One's feet began to give. The purple colossus began to visibly struggle with the weight of the gigantic destroyer it was trying to stave off.
Just as it seemed certain that the test-type Evangelion would collapse beneath the might of its foe, the other two EVA's arrived on the scene, adding the strength of their AT fields to Unit One's. There was a great flare of light, and the Angel was actually pushed upward by a short but noticeable distance. Unit Zero tore a hole in the Angel's AT field, and then Unit Two plunged its progressive knife into the core the monstrosity, the red "pupil" of the eye-like Angel.
The Angel's massive AT field abruptly winked out of existence, which robbed the now dead monstrosity of much of its destructive power. With this barrier removed, its now lifeless body flopped down, finally allowed to crash down onto surface.
Yet the sheer mass of the Angel, as well as its rather volatile composition, insured that Tokyo-3 would once again fail to escape a battle unscarred. A great fireball rose up, the light bright enough to blind anyone who was foolish enough to look at it. The force of the blast was enough to blow a massive crater into the ground that would become a member of the group of lakes that Tokyo-3 was collecting.
A few city blocks away from the hill where the EVA's faced the Tenth Angel sat a museum, which was unable to descend into the Geofront like most of the newer buildings in the city.
It wasn't a large or particularly well appointed facility, as most potential investors had believed—correctly—that putting such a place in the fortress of mankind was an unacceptably risky move.
Yet despite how obviously ill-advised the museum was, those who worked there were very devoted to their jobs, and had managed to procure a number of nice artifacts to display there.
One of these pieces sat in the museum's tiny Egyptian section in a glass case. Apparently a stone carving of a beetle, a small plaque named it the "Scarab of the Pharaoh Kha-Ef-Re."
Of course, no one was present to appreciate any of the exhibits, as the entire city had been evacuated. Everything inside the place was still and silent.
Then the explosion created by the Tenth Angel's destruction tore through the empty museum. Display cases shattered, spraying broken glass everywhere, old documents which had been lovingly restored and preserved were instantly reduced to ashes, and the entire building soon went toppling down.
Yet despite the incredible destructive force, the scarab was not destroyed. Part of the exterior was burned away, but the artifact held up remarkably well under the abuse. The force of the blast sent it soaring high into the air, away from the pile of rubble that had once been a museum and now served as the junkyard for so many other relics. Up and up it went, flying directionless thorough the sky, until it finally returned to the ground, a very impressive distance from the museum that had once held it.
And there it lay, just waiting for someone to pick it up.
Ritsuko supposed she should have been relieved that she got to drive home that evening, but she simply wasn't. Instead, she found herself almost disappointed and even a little annoyed that Misato's insane gambit had actually worked.
I'll bet she'll be insufferable from now on, she thought sourly. "Never tell me the odds." That's what she'll say next time I try and talk some sense into her.
Suddenly, as though karma had decided to punish her for thinking ill of her friend, her car began to swerve frighteningly despite her steady grip on her steering wheel. The scientist quickly pulled over and got out of her car to inspect it, soon finding the source of the problem.
"A flat tire," she groaned. "Wonderful."
Well, she was a brilliant scientist with more doctorates than anyone could shake a stick at. She was perfectly capable of changing a tire, she told herself as she popped her trunk.
"Unless I don't have a jack!" she exclaimed as she discovered that she was missing a rather vital tool.
She'd bought her car used, and she'd gone to great lengths to ensure that she didn't buy a lemon. And while she'd demanded that a spare tire be included in the deal, she had not bothered to check of all the equipment needed to use it was there.
Okay, calm down, she told herself, squelching her desire to start screaming and kicking her car. Just call somebody for help.
The faux blonde got out her cell phone…only to discover that the battery was dead.
With a sigh of disgust, the scientist reached into her pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a Zippo lighter. She stuck the cancer stick into her mouth, then opened the lighter and flicked the switch. A few sparks came out, but no flame.
The faux blonde barely resisted the urge to fling her bum lighter to the ground. It was bad enough that the latest battle had made her realize just how utterly pathetic she'd become and how totally miserable she was, but the universe seemed to be doing its level best to inconvenience her at every turn, too.
Tossing her unlit cigarette away, Ritsuko forced herself to take several deep breaths and calm down. Moving with a forced patience, she put her lighter back into her pocket, then popped the hood of her car. Hopefully some Good Samaritan with a jack in their trunk would be along soon.
Unfortunately, Misato had ordered the evacuation of the city, which meant that most of the roads were all but deserted at the moment, because the people had yet to start returning. So Ritsuko was stuck there in the middle of nowhere, with a long, lonely road and a stretch of land that boasted nothing but stringy grass and weeds.
Or at least, so it seemed at first. While Ritsuko was waiting for someone to come along and help her, she happened to spot something blue nestled within a clump of weeds. Curious, and not having anything better to do than investigate, Ritsuko went over to it. Brushing aside the weeds, she was surprised to find what appeared to be a scarab made out of blue stone. It looked ancient, and was roughly the size of a small dinner plate.
She picked it up, and her eyes widened slightly as she got a better look at it. Part of the exterior of the bug was gone, revealing what looked like some very advanced circuitry beneath.
Ritsuko frowned, wondering why anyone would go to the trouble of putting high tech equipment into something like a stone carving. The question of why someone would abandon the thing in the middle of nowhere also occurred to her.
Maybe if I studied it, I could find out, she mused. At least it would give me something to think about besides…everything else.
She returned to her car and put the scarab on the floor in the back. No sooner had she done this than did another car pull up right behind hers, a man climbing out.
"Hello, miss," he greeted her. "Car trouble?"
"Just a flat tire," Ritsuko said. "I only popped the hood to try and get somebody to stop. I hope you have a jack."
"Of course," the man said. "I'll have you moving again in no time."
Roughly an hour later, Ritsuko was pulling into the driveway of her modest home, more than ready for the day to be over. Her Good Samaritan had been a nice enough guy, but he'd tried to get her phone number, and it was another thing that Ritsuko simply didn't want to deal with.
This place smells like cats, she thought as she walked inside.
It was an annoyance, but one Ritsuko would have found much more tolerable if she actually had a cat in her place. However, her long, often erratic hours had forced her to send her pet to live with her grandmother, meaning she didn't even have her favorite ball of fur to snuggle up to on long nights.
"Why am I dwelling on this so much?" she wondered aloud. "It's not like I can do anything about it."
Though she was speaking about her cat, Ritsuko quickly realized that her statement was a pretty good description of her entire life.
She felt like the events of that day had…had woken her up, and made her really examine her life, and discover just how terrible it was. But what good was knowing how miserable she was if she couldn't do anything about it? And she made no mistake; there wasn't anything she could do to change things. Gendo Ikari would get what he wanted in the end; Gendo Ikari always got what he wanted, in the end.
I just want to go back to "sleep," she thought tiredly.
Deciding that she simply wanted this wretched day to end as soon as humanly possible, Ritsuko didn't even bother making or reheating something for her dinner. Instead, she went straight up to her bedroom, deposited the strange scarab that she'd found on top of her dresser, undressed, and went straight to bed.
In minutes, the emotionally drained woman was sleeping fitfully.
Hours passed in silence, just like any other night. Then, in the small hours of the morning, there was movement from the top of Ritsuko's dresser. The once seemingly inanimate scarab began to move, slowly at first, almost experimentally. Then it appeared to become more sure of itself, and it carefully crawled off the dresser, to the floor, and then toward its new host.
Ritsuko, who was laying on her stomach as she slept, didn't stir as it crawled up on to her, positioning itself at the base of her spine. Nor did she wake as it began to fuse itself with her central nervous system, joining the two of them into a symbiotic relationship.
By the time the process had completed itself, the first, timid rays of dawn sunlight were streaming in through the windows.
And, at last, Ritsuko awoke.
The scientist jerked violently, then quickly turned over and got into a sitting position, a loud gasp escaping her mouth. A voice was speaking inside her head, but it was doing so in a language she couldn't even identify, let alone understand. Terror gripped her as she realized that not only was she hearing disembodied voices, but there was something on her back, and it was growing.
She tried to scream, but instead of the high pitched shriek she'd expected, a babble of mysterious words--similar to the ones she was hearing inside her mind--burst out past her lips instead. She immediately closed her mouth and covered it with her hands, feeling her horror mounting.
What is happening to me?! She thought frantically.
Some kind of black and blue material was spreading over her body. So far it had only covered part of her arms and torso, but it was moving quickly. She tried to work her fingers between it and her skin so she could pull it off, but it was to no avail. The stuff felt hard and rigid, like the exoskeleton of an insect.
"No!" she managed to gasp out as she felt it moving up her neck, threatening to cover her head.
It didn't heed her. Seconds later, the material had moved over her face. To her surprise, she was neither blinded nor suffocated by it. Red, transparent lenses formed before her eyes, allowing her to see, and though her nose was covered, she found that she had no need to breathe through her mouth, which remained exposed.
Her panic diminished by the realization that her demise was not imminent, she looked down just in time to see the strange material cover her feet. Her entire body had been engulfed.
Feeling strangely numb, she got to her feet and went to examine herself in her room's full length mirror. Her entire body was covered in the blue and black armor, but the most shocking thing was what was on her back.
The scarab she'd picked up by the side of the road had grown incredibly, until it was large enough to cover her entire back. Its top two legs were draped over her shoulders, while the remaining four clutched at her sides, and the thing's pincers stuck up higher than her head.
"Oh my god," she breathed, "what the hell happened?"
Within her mind, the scarab chattered back at her in its incomprehensible language.
Author's Notes: I realize that I sort of piled on the angst here, but I felt that I had to. I really can't feel sympathetic toward Ritsuko unless I picture her as feeling really defeated and believing that she's totally unable to stop Gendo by the time she wakes up and realizes how bad things are. I mean, she goes along with his insane plans until she finally decides she's had enough, and then she lashes out…at Rei. If anybody was in a position to stop Gendo, it was her, but she doesn't really seem to try until EoE, and when Plan A fails, she doesn't even make an attempt to shoot him with the gun she brought.
So, I felt like I had to present her in the way I did in order to be able to like her. Which I actually think will turn out pretty well, because who doesn't want to see the woman who's been taking crap from her so-called lover realize she doesn't have to take it anymore and, well, stop taking it?
Anyway, onto the powers. Ritsuko's becoming a relatively obscure superhero, and if you're not sure of who she is, you probably don't know that hero. I'd tell you, but Orionpax09 apparently feels that I can't keep my trap about these things (see his Superwomen of Eva 2: Hunter's Legacy. Seriously, do it, it looks like the start of a fun ride). So you'll just have to wait until next chapter to find out. Or unleash the power of Google. Either one.
Anyway, thanks as always to my readers and reviewers.