Chapter 1: Welcome to Tokyo-3
--NEURO-HYPERWAVE UPLINK ESTABLISHED--
"Agent Omicron-552/B, your autoclassifiers and personality overlay are disabled. You may now think freely."
"Thank you, Control. Your thought-signature sounds different; are you new?"
"Yes. I'm Delta-84. Your previous controller, Delta-28 was...dishonorably discharged; I'm not at liberty to discuss the reason with you right now. I am at liberty to say that it was quite a scandal, though."
"Delta-28's gone. Maybe the universe isn't trying to make me miserable after all. Commencing sensory data upload." A pause, much longer than it should have been. "Control?"
"Omicron-552/B, can you confirm the validity of the data? Specifically at points marked 22A, 46BF, and E8-1 through, um, 3C8A, and incidents crosslinked with those?"
"Yes, Control, the data are valid. May I remind you that these are well within the observed and recorded capabilities of the subject?"
"My God...Delta-28 knew about this and still kept you on observation?"
"Yeah. He marked her as 'Timeline-Critical'. He made it part of the overlay, too, so I put up with everything thinking it was necessary. And then he "forgot" to disable the overlay for at least half my scheduled reports."
"Er...well." Control was silent for a moment.
"If you've looked through my file, you'll have seen that I've put in several requests to redesignate the subject as a Shiva-class and carry out Containment Protocol 2. The fact that Central hasn't authorized it on its own gives me a sneaking suspicion that Delta-28 hid a lot of this information."
"You know, I think you might be right. I'm putting the request through to Central with the data attached." Another pause, much shorter this time; it was nice to have an AI for a boss. "Central's cleared it. They're sending Omicron-552/A to execute CP2."
"Only the best of the best for a mission like this. I wish I could do it myself. Er...my current self. You know what I mean."
"That I do. You want to extract now or wait it out?"
"I'll wait it out. I want to see how the secondary subject turns out without the Shiva-class ruining his life. I think he might be a good recruit; he's got the brains for it."
"Understood. Your paradox shield is online and all green; 552/A is deploying to NT832/1994 in three...two...one...now."
Agent Omicron-552/B closed her eyes through the brief wave of nausea, then opened them, expecting to see her view of Nishinomiya and Osaka Bay mostly unchanged.
What she saw instead brought the nausea right back.
"Control, this is Omicron-552/B. We have an unanticipated, catastrophic butterfly-effect. Recommend you reverse previous mission immediately." She waited a few seconds, trying to fight down the panic. There was no response. "Control! Do you read me? CONTROL!"
"They can't hear you, you know," said a familiar-sounding voice from behind her. When she turned to face its source, she knew immediately that she wouldn't be hearing from Control ever again.
FIVE YEARS LATER
"Due to the current emergency, all lines are unavailable. Please try again later."
"Huh. No good." Shinji Ikari hung up the pay phone and voiced his frustrations aloud to the abandoned street, trying to fill up the unearthly quiet. "I knew I shouldn't have come here..." He sighed, looked around yet again for a sign of his ride, then once again examined the slightly worn-out Polaroid photo in his hand. The photo depicted an attractive woman, in her late twenties or early thirties by Shinji's estimate, wearing a tank top and cutoff jeans. She was also leaning over, apparently for no other reason than to give the camera a good view of her cleavage. Someone—presumably the woman herself—had seen fit to add the words "LOOK HERE" and an arrow specifically pointing this out. She had also written "Shinji--I'm coming to pick you up, so wait for me, okay?", which was marginally more helpful.
"Well, I guess we won't be meeting here." He checked his cellphone again; there was still no signal, and it was already late in the afternoon. "I should probably get to a shelter—huh?"
Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw a girl standing in the middle of the street. For an instant, he thought it was the weird girl from the train station, but no, this girl was a bit taller and had hair that was more bluish than--
A series of earthshaking crashes gradually approaching him distracted him from the girl. They seemed to be coming from a nearby cross-street; whatever was making them sounded like it would come into the intersection at any moment.
And when it did: "What the...?"
It was a mecha; there was no disputing that. A big one, too; it was at least 40 meters tall, and roughly humanoid in shape. It was mostly dark green—that specific shade of dark green that might as well have been a bright neon sign saying THIS IS A MILITARY MACHINE. It had a bizarrely hunchbacked appearance despite its height; its angular upper back went significantly higher than its shoulders. There was no real head to speak of, though, merely a small hexagonal protrusion from its wide "neck", under which was a glowing screen. Its long arms and legs appeared to be segmented, as was its disproportionately narrow torso. Also, it talked.
"Hey! Kid! Get your ass to a shelter!" It did not turn to "look" at him, but continued walking towards...whatever it was walking towards.
"Um, uh, but I'm kind of waiting for someone to pick me up--"
If it, or whoever was piloting it, could hear him, it gave no indication. It quickly became irrelevant, however, due to the sound of several UNAF gunships flying out from behind a nearby foothill. Pursuing them was—dear God, what was that?
"The unidentified object is approaching Tokyo-3."
"We've got a visual. Putting it on the main screen..."
Gasps and muttered profanities filled the NERV command center as the...thing came into view. It was easily 50 meters high, and black as the night except for a number of bone-white structures: some kind of armor covering its shoulders, a birdlike mask where its face should've been, and what looked like an exposed ribcage covering a gleaming red orb.
In the center of the sudden commotion sat Commander Gendo Ikari, calm as the eye of a hurricane. His second-in-command, Kozo Fuyutsuki stood behind him, observing the scene with equal dispassion.
"It's been fifteen years, hasn't it?" The vice-commander spoke softly, believing—falsely—that nobody but his old friend would hear him.
"Yes. Well, now we're sure." The Commander reached up to adjust his glasses as he watched the monstrosity turn towards the camera, its empty eyes now seeming to look directly into his own.
"The Angels are here."
Shinji watched in awe as the gunships unleashed a hailstorm of firepower at the monster. Dozens of rockets streaked towards it, blooming into a chain of explosions that seemed powerful enough to obliterate just about anything. Yet when the dust cleared, the monster still stood, apparently unharmed. It seemed to consider one of the gunships for a moment, then raised its right arm. A crimson, glowing lance burst from its palm and obliterated the unlucky gunship.
Meanwhile, the mecha was carefully detaching something from its back. As far as Shinji could tell, it was some kind of gun. A very, very large gun, attached via a thick cable to the center of the mecha's back. The mecha lowered itself down to one knee and pointed the weapon at the monster.
Shinji quite suddenly realized that, given his relative proximity to the mecha, it might be a good idea to cover his ears.
And not a moment too soon; there was a dazzling flash of light and accompanying CRACK as the mecha fired, sending a burst of something directly into the monster's chest. Shinji tried to blink away the flash-blindness and process what he had just seen; it looked for all the world like the mecha had shot a lightning bolt, of all things. The monster staggered from the blast, but remained upright and visibly undamaged.
The lightning gun, or whatever it was, had accomplished something, however. It had gotten the creature's attention. It turned to face the mecha, considering it as it had the unlucky gunship.
Fire bloomed out from beneath the creature, illuminating the surrounding landscape into something Dante might have imagined. Impossibly, the gigantic being lifted off, jumping nearly a kilometer to face the mecha at close range. The mecha fired the lightning gun again while it was in midair, but the effect this time seemed to be even less—the monster did not seem fazed by it at all.
Shinji barely had time to process all this before he was knocked down by the impact of the monster landing not twenty meters away from him. The mecha's lightning gun flashed and cracked once again; as Shinji tried (belatedly and ineffectually) to simultaneously shield his eyes and cover his ears, he heard the distinct noise of screeching tires and the click of a car door opening through the ringing in his ears. He looked up to see a blue Renault sports coupe with the woman from the photo in the driver's seat.
"Sorry I kept you waiting," she chirped, an incongruously cheerful smile across her face. Shinji didn't even bother replying; he just jumped into the car. The woman didn't wait long either; as soon as the door was closed, she shifted into gear and blasted her way down the nearest cross street, putting as much distance between them and the impending battle of titans as possible.
"This is JA22; the E-laser seems totally ineffective even at close range. Falling b—AUGH!" The radio signal dissolved into static as the Angel's energy lance pierced JA22's "head". Every person in the NERV command center (well, every person without better-than-average knowledge of nuclear physics) held their breath for a moment, waiting to see if the mecha's internal microfusion reactor would turn the surrounding town into a radioactive wasteland. Thankfully (or obviously, again depending on one's physics knowledge), it did not; JA22 merely froze, than fell onto its back, destroying a few small buildings. The Angel then resumed its methodical destruction of everything shooting at it; it eliminated the rest of the gunships (save for the one providing the video feed to NERV, which had wisely retreated to a safe distance and stopped firing). Nothing fazed it; not Gatling guns, not tank shells, not artillery, not missile after missile after missile.
The highest-ranking officers in the Japan Strategic Self-Defense Force, the Japan Airborne Self Defense Forcem and the UN Global Defense Force each sat at a table in the command center, watching in horror as the Angel carved a path of destruction through hundreds of soldiers and millions of dollars' worth of equipment.
"Dammit!" The JSSDF general slammed his fist into the table, spilling a few drops from the coffee mug in front of him. "We're hitting it with everything we have and we aren't even touching it!" He stood and rounded on a lab-coated woman standing behind him, well off to the right of Ikari and Fuyutsuki. "And your little science project didn't even slow it down!"
The red-haired woman regarded the general coolly. "Jet Alone was designed to be the final word in conventional warfare, General Araki. What we are facing right now is clearly anything but conventional." Anyone who was watching Ikari and Fuyutsuki would have noticed the former raising an eyebrow at the woman's emphasis on 'conventional'. Had she overheard?
Araki opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the JASDF general. "Dr. Jansson has a point. We need to hit this thing with something bigger."
The purple-haired woman—whose name, Shinji had learned, was Misato Katsuragi—had gotten them out of the town and on the highway to Tokyo-3 in record time, largely as a consequence of her style of driving, which could charitably be described as "unbelievably reckless". Once they had reached what she thought was a safe distance, she stopped and decided to watch the rest of the battle by way of leaning out the passenger-side window and looking through a pair of binoculars. This position had the side effect of placing her ample chest inches away from Shinji's face—a situation he found uncomfortable but, he had to admit to himself, not entirely unfavorable. Not that he--
"Wait." Misato spoke. Had she seen something? Shinji squinted; he could just barely see a few gunships retreating from the monster. Were they out of ammo, or...?
"They're not...they're going to use one of the N² mines! GET DOWN!" Misato's shout was rather unnecessary, as she dove down on top of Shinji, as if trying to protect him from—what? His mind was still processing the last sentence she had spoken when the world went white.
The N2 line of explosives represented perhaps the greatest public relations achievement in the history of Japan: convincing the scared and justifiably nuke-shy masses that an explosive device with the destructive power of twenty-five thousand tons of TNT—more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, though far short of the yield of modern thermonuclear explosives like the one that had hit Tokyo—was a-okay, simply because it was not nuclear. Never mind that it was still a weapon of mass destruction by any definition of the term. Never mind that the only reason it did not produce a mushroom cloud was that it was specifically designed not to do so. Never mind that every physicist on Earth swore that it was impossible to create an explosion that powerful with anything other than a nuke. There was no fungus-shaped smoke and no radioactive fallout, so no problems, right?
Those within its blast radius might disagree with the "no problems" part. Included among this unlucky number were Shinji Ikari, Major Misato Katsuragi, and Major Misato Katsuragi's very nice Renault Alpine coupe, which were all knocked off the road and flipped over several times by the blast wave.
"YES!" General Araki managed to show yet another shocking display of unprofessionalism, standing up and nearly knocking his chair over as the massive explosion obscured the Angel from view. He looked back and actually smirked at Ikari and Fuyutsuki. "Looks like we won't be needing your science project either, Ikari."
Gendo Ikari did not speak; he merely continued to watch as the image on the main screen dissolved into static as the EMP from the blast knocked out the camera.
There were several minutes of tense waiting as the various technicians scrambled to find a camera or sensor system that was still online. One of the UN generals leaned over to Araki and said, "That had to have destroyed it. Nothing could survive a blast like that at point blank range." It sounded like he was trying to convince himself as much as Araki.
The technicians chose that moment to finally get one of the sensor arrays back online. "High-energy reading detected at the center of the blast crater!" A fuzzy, black-and-white video feed started up again moments later, revealing the Angel standing at the center of the firestorm, clearly damaged but definitely alive and moving. It's strange, bird-like "face" appeared to have been partially torn away, revealing...another bony "face" beneath it.
The UN general slumped back in his seat. "No..."
"That was our last resort," Araki muttered.
Behind them, the two men who knew more about the mysterious being than anyone else in the room observed the being. No longer did they speak in whispers to each other, for now it was clear they would benefit the most from acting like they knew what was going on.
"It looks like it's regenerating itself," Fuyutsuki observed. "Just as expected."
"It wouldn't be much of an autonomous invasion weapon if it couldn't."
There was a flash of light from the Angel's eye sockets, and one of the technicians yelled out "Massive energy spike coming from the target!" Before she was done saying "massive", the camera and sensor arrays went dead once again.
"It also appears to be capable of upgrading itself at will," Kozo said.
"Including its intelligence, apparently. It will likely renew its assault momentarily."
Araki once again turned to face the two of them, helplessness apparent in his expression and voice. "Even after all this, Ikari, you think NERV's fancy toys can beat this thing?"
Gendo adjusted his glasses, a rare smile lighting up his face. "I know we can. It's what NERV was created for."
"Very well." Araki sighed. "If nobody objects, I'm putting you in command in this operation from here on out. Don't disappoint me."
"Yes, sir." Gendo turned to his desk and pushed a button on the built-in comm console. "This is Ikari. We have authorization. Prepare to activate Unit 01."
For the first time, a hint of confusion appeared on his second-in-command's face. "Unit 01? But...it's not even finished. The whole system is almost completely untested. And what about a pilot?"
"I have enough confidence in the preliminary tests to deploy it, and enough of the sync matrix is complete for the pilot to engage in short-range combat. As for the pilot..." Gendo's smile faded. "We have Rei. And if she fails...there's a spare on the way."
"Okay. One...two...three...PUSH!" With much straining and grunting, Shinji and Misato managed to flip the previously inverted car back onto its wheels. "Phew. Thanks for the help, Shinji."
"Uh, thank you too, Miss Katsuragi--"
"Just Misato is fine," she interrupted, taking off her sunglasses with a warm smile. "Glad to finally meet you, Shinji Ikari."
"Yeah." Shinji smiled back. Wow, she's beautiful. Maybe coming here wasn't such a big mistake after all.
After a few minutes of furious duct-taping, the battered and bruised Renault was on the road again, and Misato was talking with someone on her cell.
"Yeah, we're both fine. His safety is my top priority, after all. Are the car trains running?...Express B-22, routed to the A-28 entrance." Her cheerful expression abruptly sharpened. "Again? Seriously? That's what, the third, fourth time this week! Fine, fine, get A-28 ready instead...what do you mean A-28's broken down too? Dammit. Yes, I know all about the maintenance budgets. A-29's not too far away; is that one working today? Good. We'll be there in about twenty minutes." She hung up and let out a long sigh, sinking alarmingly low into the driver's seat. After a few minutes of silence, which Shinji spent staring out the window at the rather beautiful view, she spoke up again. "So. Shinji. Is there anything you wanted to ask me?"
"Nothing? Not, 'why was I called here'? Not, 'what the hell was that thing'?"
Shinji studied the tops of his shoes intensely. "I figured there wouldn't be much of a point. All you'd do is tell me it's classified information."
Misato laughed. "Pretty sharp for a kid your age! You're right, there isn't a whole lot I can tell you right now. Pretty much all I can say is that the thing we just got away from is called an Angel, which most likely just raises more questions." As she spoke, Shinji noticed that she had turned into a tunnel, and had stopped in front of a very large door. Painted on the door were the words "NERV – God's in His Heaven, all's right with the world" along with half a fig leaf. "With any luck, though, your security clearance is about to get bumped up a few notches."
Shinji examined the logo until the door retracted into the ceiling. "NERV?"
Misato drove forward through the door, stopping at a set of locks designed to hold the car's wheels in place—not unlike a car wash. "It's a special agency under the command of the UN. Your father works there. Do you know what he does?"
"All I've heard is that his work is 'essential for humanity's continued survival'. Are you...are you taking me to him?" Shinji spoke over an electronic voice announcing "Train A-29 now departing for station G-35, with stops at G-30, G-31, G-32-1, G-32-2, G-33-1, G-33-2, and G-34."
"Yes. Yes, I think so."
Shinji wasn't sure what to think of this. It had been so long ago...the only really clear memory he had of his father was him leaving. Did he really want to see him again?
Misato's voice interrupted his thoughts. "...ur ID card, right?"
"Oh! Yeah." Shinji dug through his bag, and pulled out a sheet of paper with a plastic card paperclipped to it. The only legible text on the paper was his name, and a scrawled message in his father's handwriting saying "COME HERE." It looked like there had been a fair bit of information on the page, but all of it except a number—001372--had been redacted with a black marker.
Misato examined the card. "Huh. Looks like your security clearance is already higher than I thought. Here." She pulled a big, thick book marked "NERV EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK" in English and Japanese out of the glove box. "Read this."
Shinji examined the cover for a few seconds. "So, I'm going to be working for my father?" Misato didn't respond. "Of course. He wouldn't have called me here if he didn't need me for something."
"I take it you don't get along with your dad?" Shinji didn't respond. "Heh. Neither do I."
At that moment, the rock walls surrounding the car train suddenly gave way to open air, giving the two of them a truly spectacular view of the largest underground cavern in the history of the Earth. Shinji's usual neutral expression gave way to complete awe as he gazed upon it. "Awesome! It's...it's a real Geofront!"
"Yep. This is where our secret base, NERV Central HQ, is located. She pointed at a pyramid-like structure in the center. "This is humanity's ultimate fortress, and the key to rebuilding our planet." Misato followed his gaze to the the inverted skyscrapers at the roof of the cavern; the sight still took her breath away even now.
The car train chose that moment to suddenly jerk to a stop, leaving them stuck hundreds of meters above the cavern floor.
"Of course," Misato said, "like everything else we've built, it doesn't always work quite right."
A/N: So here we are with version 3 of "It's An Adventure, Right?...Right?". It's bigger. It's better. It is arguably more badass. And, most importantly, it's not going to try and run on pure awesomeness to compensate for a poor plot.
Change #1: It's starting from the beginning, rather than the battle with Bardiel. This setup honestly just gives me more room to fit in all the plot points and character development I want.
Change #2: Less Haruhi. The main complaint I received was that Haruhi was taking attention away from the other characters. In this one, Haruhi will be, at most, a minor character, at least until EVA-04 goes online. After that, who knows?
Change #3: More SOS Brigade. Mikuru, Yuki, and Itsuki will all have major parts in the storyline, as you can probably tell.
I honestly wanted to make this chapter longer, maybe covering the first two episodes of the series, but there's a certain point at which a voice in my head just goes POST IT POST IT POST IT and I can't ignore it any more.
All reviews welcomed, positive or negative. C2A2: Constructive Criticism Always Appreciated!