"Prepping for second stage. Initiating LCL ionization. Setting plug depth."
Gripping the controls. Breathe in. Breathe out. This is for the best. The entire future rides on the results of this experiment. Science is the future, after all. Sacrifices have to be made for it.
"Second stage successful. Plug depth set. Preparing third stage activation."
They will understand, when that glorious future is laid out before them. They will praise and sing her name when she hands them paradise. They will love her and worship her, and everything will be right with the world.
A nervous tick crosses her lip. Tapping a button on her wrist, she brings up the video screen in her right eye. Her husband, her son. The Professor, that poor sweet man. Watching as the experiment readies, and…and her son.
Her son is smiling, watching Mommy get ready to pilot the giant robot.
Ready to get nice and traumatized from watching Mommy die.
"Ready for third stage activation in three…two…"
She pulls her hands from the controls as if they burn her, flipping open a control panel between her legs and pulling up a lever. The entire plug shakes, LCL draining from it like water down a toilet as it jerks and spins out of the monster's spine.
Undoing the belts across her chest and waist, she scrambles out of her chair and climbs out, climbing to the hatch and pushing it open.
The boots of the plug suit clang against the metal catwalk as she practically jumps out of the metal tube, not affording the restrained monster a glance as she grabs a towel from a technician and dries off her short brown hair, pushing open the door to the Control Box as everyone stares. Waiting a moment, she hands the now damp and sticky towel to another technician, who stares at it before walking off with it. Her baby runs over, leaping into her arms as she gives off a relieved smile.
"What happened?" Kozou asks.
"The experiment's too dangerous," Yui responds, "We're looking into something else. I'll get on the horn with Kihl and go over everything with him."
Her husband raises an eyebrow, turning to Kozou. He shrugs, turning back to her as he scratches the back of his head.
"Yui," he starts.
"No," Yui cuts him off, "There was a better than likely chance that-"
Rudely jerks her thumb at the restrained biomech.
"Was going to eat me. I have an idea for an alternative that will still get that thing working. Until then, we're not having any contact experiments. Clear?"
Kozou and Gendo both nod, both sighing. The technicians hide their snickers. There is little illusion of who wears the pants in the Ikari household, and it is mainly because it is easy to stay on Doctor Yui Ikari's good side that harmony rules GEHRIN with an iron fist.
"Now, come on," she says, tightening her grip on her son, "Let's find whatever hole Naoko's stuck herself into and get back to work."
Neon Genesis Evangelion:
"Due to special emergency circumstances, all lines are currently out of service. Thank you."
AD 2017. T+ 17 years, Second Impact.
He stares at the receiver for a few moments before sighing and placing it back on the phone. Reaching into his pocket, he flips open the phone and, again, stares. No signal. Sighing, he closes it, spinning around. Getting his bearings. Figuring out what the Hell he's going to do.
The city is empty.
He arrived here two hours ago and he hasn't seen a single blessed soul.
It's a nice city, mind you. Sure, no buildings are taller than the apartment blocks, but it is a nice city, if low key and suburban. The streets are clean, there is not traffic (partially because no cars are moving) and the buildings are nice and colorful.
But still, there are no people.
"Come," he says, scratching his head, "Just…'come.' I haven't seen him in three years and that's all I get?"
The sixteen year old boy, with dark brown hair and clear blue eyes, dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans from the four hour train ride, scratches his head as if he can dig through his skull to find an answer. A nervous habit, yes, but considering his heritage most find it lucky he isn't hanging from a light fixture and babbling.
Despite being well into puberty and priding himself that he is, in fact, male, he shrieks like a schoolgirl when an explosion rips through a building several blocks down, scrambling back as a VTOL jet flies overhead, the four engines on its cigar-shaped body blasting out superheated air as a volley of missiles swarms out.
"What the Hell?" he asks, mouth hanging open.
A statement he repeats even louder when a line of pink light lances through the air and the VTOL explodes in a plume of ignited fuel.
The entire apartment block collapses as something rises above it, a great and mighty foot crushing it under its weight. As it is, Shinji Ikari's brain rewires itself at a great and mighty speed, the flight mechanism suppressing the fight response to the point where it barely notices it existed, and the rest of his brain reinforcing the bladder control so he doesn't soil his pants.
It stands over twenty stories tall.
Its skin is the color of limes and sour apples. Its body is some sort of sick parody of the human form, with elongated arms covered in bone spikes, ending in three fingered hands. Its legs are thin and boney and should in no way hold up that thing in front of him and it doesn't even have a head just a lump fused with its shoulders where some sort of bird skull is looking at him.
And it's looking at him.
It is looking at him.
"Oh…shit," he whispers.
The left hand snaps open and it turns on him, reaching for him. The hole at the center of its hand begins to glow as the air whine and pulses, cars flying towards the monster as it looks up.
And a missile fires out, whipping past Shinji before slamming into the red core at its center. The missile explodes, the creature falling back, emitting a sound between bad violin, dying cats and cricket sex as it grabs at its chest, a hairline fracture where the explosive hit.
A spent green tube- a missile launcher- lands at his feet. A hand grabs his arm as he dumbly nods.
"Great. Come with me if you want to live."
With a yank, the wind whips past him as he's carried along, his feet leaving the ground as the entirety of Tokyo-3 becomes a blur. Save for the green thing. That is clearly visible and it is currently stomping after them. Even though it is incapable of expressions and its face has not even changed position, he knows that it is pissed off.
"Yeah, it's me," the rescuer says, "I've got him. Oh, and the Angel is after him to. We're going to need a distraction…"
A click of the tongue and a sigh.
"Yeah, I took down its field and hit it in the core with an RPG. Okay, okay, I pissed it off. Happy?"
They run up the side of an apartment block, vaulting the rooftops, speeding along faster than a car as lime green feet stomp the street in their wake, narrowly dodging as blasts of pink light rip up buildings.
"Hey, are you afraid of heights?"
He nods with a whimper.
Which is when Shinji turns around and stares at the end of the apartment building. The ground leaves, or at least the rooftop ends, and Shinji takes a moment to stare at a quarter mile drop between them, the edge of this district of the city, and the one it overlooks over a sheer concrete wall.
"Oh…oh God," he whispers.
They drop. The rescuer, who is apparently determined to get him killed, laughs. Below them, a plate of concrete and metal slides open and reveals a metal tube, his rescuer twisting and slipping them both in, Shinji's side hitting cushions that take the brunt of the impact before he bounces off onto polished smooth metal.
He screams, she laughs, as they ride the tube at full speed like a spiral slide, a pair of hands grabbing the metal. He shoots ahead of her, bouncing through the turns, eyes going wide as he sees the light at the end of the tunnel.
A light which is an actual exit, which he shoots out of before slamming into a wall covered in gel padding. He hangs off it for a moment, all his forward inertia rippling through it before he drops to the cold metal floor.
A white and blue blur slams foot first into the gel, kicking off of it before flipping and landing on two sneaker covered feet. His eyes slowly, shakily, trace up. Past the white sneakers and black socks. Past the pale white legs and plaid skirt, past the white shirt, blue jacket, finally towards the face framed in blue hair and sporting a pair of red, blood colored eyes.
Arms shoot up and she bows, and right before his brain begins shutting because this can't be f___ing happening down he hears something about a '10-point landing.'
She spins around, clapping her hands together as heels slap against the metal floor.
"Dr. Akagi," the girl squeals, "One Third Child, as ordered!"
He rolls onto his back, not on his own will. Looking down on him is a woman. A beautiful, adult woman with glasses and chocolate brown hair, in a wet suit and a lab coat. He wants to believe he is dreaming, but the pounding of his heart is telling him that no, no, this is really really real.
"Hello, Shinji," she says, "I am Ritsuko Akagi. I am a friend of your father's."
"In a Ugandan way," Rei adds.
"Rei, be quiet," Ritsuko says, glaring at her before turning back to Shinji, "Shinji, you were summoned here by your father. You're in a facility called NERV-1. That creature that attacked you and Rei…right."
She tilts his head up. The pale girl smiles and waves, clicking her heels together with a high pitched giggle.
"This is Rei Ayanami," Ritsuko continues, "She is a Pilot. Like you. Do you know why you were summoned to Tokyo-3?"
He shakes his head. Eyes dart around as others begin approaching. A young woman with purple hair, in a black dress and bomber jacket. A girl a little older than him with short black hair and in a beige uniform.
"Well, that creature that attacked you is an Angel," Ritsuko says, "And…we need you to destroy it."
A pause, a beat. Rei stares at Ritsuko, pursing her lips.
His response does not come in the form of a question. Rather, as would be sensible for someone in his position and from his recent experience, his response comes in the form of a scream.
It starts all the way in his stomach, streaking up his throat and exiting his mouth in a high pitched, sustained shriek of terror, disbelief and girlish horror, before he scrambles onto his feet and runs. Skidding the corner, he sprints on all fours into the nearest labeled men's rest room, rolling to a stop in a stall and locking the door behind him.
Back in the hallway, the assembled personnel can only stare and watch. Leaning back on her feet, Rei shrugs and starts walking towards the bathroom.
"I'll drag him out," she says, "Someone should call the Commander."
He found a bag in the stall, most likely for stool samples, but since it was brown and paper it would serve for the current purpose. Fist closed around the opening, the bag inflates and deflates with every hard, ragged breath. Shinji Ikari, child of two of the smarted people on the face of the Earth, hyperventilates in a men's room stall several miles underground as his brain slowly restarts.
It has been years since he saw any relatives outside of his uncle and aunt. Of course, they are busy. They are always busy. That's the point. As it is, he is an afterthought, or so he tells himself, and he still has no idea what in God's name they do.
The bag deflates and inflates. His toes curl inside his short boots, his knuckles white around the bag. He has to go out there at some point, he tells himself. Eventually. Maybe sometime next week when he stops telling himself that a lime green monster that takes on armies just tried to make him its prison bitch.
"Heeee~ey," the voice calls out, the door to the bathroom swinging open, "Oh, Shin~ji? Are you dead yet?"
White sneakers and black socks he can see underneath the teal stall door. They shift from side to side, a small, light knock on the door. Another knock, followed by a sigh and the sound of knuckles cracking.
Then the pale fist puts a hole through the door, reaching all the way to her short sleeve. The hand gropes at the door before finally settling on the lock, turning it to open before retracting. The bag ceases its inflating as Shinji stops breathing, staring in mute horror as Rei places her hands on her knees and bends down, smiling.
"Hey there," she says, "I know this is freaking you out, but the Commander, your dad, really wants to see you right now. I can carry you if you'd like. 'Kay?"
The bag inflates slowly, then slowly sucks back in. Carefully, he lowers it, finding he is not blinking as much as he should.
"What…are…you?" he asks.
"I'm Rei," she says with a toothy grin.
"No…no, what are you?"
"I said it before, silly," she says, "I'm Rei."
She grabs his arm, yanking him to his feet, and drags him out.
"Yeah, this is a great idea. Let's start him out by introducing him to Rei."
The purple haired woman glares at Ritsuko as they walk across the catwalk, Akagi rubbing the bridge of her nose as lights come on over the artificial lake.
"Don't ask me," she says, "The Commander ordered Rei to rendezvous with him. If it were up to me, I would've sent you, Misato. Right now we can hope that Rei hasn't scared him off."
"Oh, like she'd let him run," Misato Katsuragi says with a snort, stopping and tapping her foot, "She'd break his legs, first. Something is not right with that girl."
"Thank you, Professor."
"Is something wrong?"
Both women freeze. They both turn to the lit platform at the top of the holding facility, the man silhouetted by the back light. He pushes his amber glasses up his nose as Akagi slides hers back on.
"We think Rei has made a bad first impression on the Third Child," Misato says.
"From what Section 2 tells us," Akagi continues, "Rei…agitated…the Fourth Angel, then had it chase her and Shinji across District 14 before they…they free fell into access port 4. Last I checked, Shinji was hyperventilating in a bathroom on floor B21."
Thanks to the back lighting, they cannot read the expression on his face.
"Sorry we're late!"
At this point, Shinji's color is lighter than Rei's. He walks, half stumbling, onto the catwalk as Misato and Ritsuko turn and stare at the girl, who comes to a stop as Shinji stumbles a few steps more before himself halting. Rubbing the bridge of her nose, sighing in exasperation, Akagi pushes her glasses back up and gestures to Misato.
"This is Lieutenant Colonel Misato Katsuragi," she says, "She is the tactical operations commander for NERV-1. Shinji, the Fourth Angel will attempt to penetrate the major layers of armor we have surrounding our base in order to initiate an event which will more or less end all sentient life on this planet. We believe you can stop it."
Looking from side to side, he taps his foot and waits. Waits for the laugh track to begin. Walking past them, he turns and stares at the backlit platform.
"Hello, Shinji," Commander Gendo Ikari says, "It has been a while."
"Three years," he says, "And I just get a postcard. Can you please tell me that this is a joke?"
"No joke," a second voice says, a door on the other side of the catwalk opening.
Flat shoes hit the catwalk, wearing a sweat suit and lab coat, glasses on her face and her shoulder length brown hair sporting some traces of gray.
"Mom?" Shinji asks.
"It's been four years for me," Yui Ikari says, placing her hands on Shinji's shoulders and squeezing, "Your uncle and aunt has sent us updates, but it's been too long. How are you?"
"Tired, freaked out, and I think I wet myself," he says with a shaky smile, "Um…can someone please tell me what's going on here?"
The spotlights underneath the lake and against the wall fire up. Slowly, he turns, his eyes first wandering onto the massive yellow optics, then expanding out. Out onto the purple metal, the green highlights. His eyes trace along the horn jutting from its nose, the demonic grin covering its face.
That is what it looks like, he thinks, like some sort of mythological Oni. Like a demonic mask used to scare children into sleeping.
"What is that?" he asks.
"Evangelion Unit 01," Gendo Ikari responds, "The single most advanced combat unit ever created by human hands."
Disengaging from his mother, he wants to the side catwalk, staring at it. With a discharge of steam and rush of air, the visage of the massive cyborg turns to him.
"And it has chosen you as its pilot," Yui adds.
Eyes roll up, and Shinji collapses in a heap to the floor.
A sharp intake of breath and eyes open, darting from side to side as he sits up in the hospital bed. He coughs, scrambling out of the bed, sprinting on all fours into the white tiled bathroom before jettisoning the contents of the last two days worth of meals into the toilet. Coughing, gagging, he hits the flush control, letting it spin down before he releases the rest. Just to be sure.
"I see you're up."
The voice comes from the room, and he stumbles out, looking down and seeing he's in a hospital gown. Groaning, he looks across the room to find Misato waving, a cheery expression on her face as she leans against the door.
"Hey," she says, "You alright?"
He taps the side of his head, raising an eyebrow.
"I…guess," he says, "I guess. What happened?"
"You blacked out," she responds, After we recovered the plug. How are you feeling?"
"Like I just had my head stomped on."
"Accurate," Misato says with a shrug, watching him flip down onto the bed, "Good work, though. You did well."
He clenches his eyes shut, groaning.
LCL pressure set. Synchronization at...54%! Oo, Unit 01 LIKES him!
"Ng…I remember getting in the plug," he says, "I remember you launching it. I remember trying to fight the thing…"
"The Angel put your head through a building," Misato says, sitting on the chair next to him, "Whatever the Eva feels, you do. That's how synchronization works. You have an unusually high synch ratio, so you definitely felt that."
"Uh huh," he says, scrunching his forehead, "I…I remember screaming. It broke my arm?"
"The Eva's arm," she says, holding up his right arm so he sees that it is, in fact, intact, "Not yours."
Roaring. Screaming. Shrieking. Screaming.
The fist goes through the Angel's face, coming out the other side, the Eva grabbing both shoulders and tearing down the middle. It shrieks, screaming as its body is ripped down to the waist, the Core hanging on the thinnest skeletal strings before the jaw opens and comes down on-
"It…went berserk," Misato says, patting his shoulder, "The Angel's gone, Shinji. It's dead. You don't have to worry about it, anymore. It's gone."
"I…I remember that," he says, "I didn't black out from that. I blacked out later. I calmed it down and I saw something in the rubble and…"
"Okay, the Angel's gone," Misato's voice says in his ear, "Prepare to power down and be retrieved."
"Wait," Shinji says, willing the Eva's head to turn as he grips the controls, "I…wait, I see something! Can this thing see through buildings?"
The view of Tokyo-3 shifts. It becomes wire framed, pulsing, individual shapes appearing in buildings as he nods. Willing it forward, he turns towards a building, the one the Angel slammed his head through.
"Oh…oh no," he says, "Ma'am, there's someone trapped in that building!"
The Eva's arm, the good arm, tears open the building, a convenience store and apartment complex. Growling, he opens the hatch between his legs, pulling the level as the Plug violently jerks back and up.
"Shinji, what are you doing?" Yui's voice asks.
"There's someone trapped in there!" he yells, popping open restraints, "I'll be right back!"
Ignoring the protests, he climbs out, swallowing, hard as he sees he is still at least fifty feet up, despite the Eva being bent down on one knee. Grabbing armor plating, he slowly crawls down the arm, holding on for dear life as he shimmies down the index finger.
Running into the store, he pulls aside rubble, working his way in. Slowly, laboriously, as he hears the shaky breathing as sirens blare in the distance.
Before finally coming to the source, the little girl with brown hair, and the half ton slab of concrete and metal on her legs.
"You blacked out after you got the emergency crews to her," Misato says, softly, squeezing his shoulder, "I…I'll get you what I can on her. When we know she'll make it."
"I did that," he says.
"No, the Angel did," she says with a sigh, "Look, Shinji. Give me a couple of hours. Then we'll get out of here. Okay?"
He turns to her, raising an eyebrow.
"Your parents are both insanely busy," she says, "So they can't take care of you. Your father's the Commander, your mother heads the entire research department. So, they made me a deal. I take care of you while you're here. Alright?"
"And enthusiastic you are," she says with a chuckle, slapping him on the back, "Look, you did good. Your mother wanted me to tell you she's proud of you. Your father…well, you know. You did great out there, especially for a first timer. So, you'll be fine, alright?"
She grins, patting him on the head, and walks out. Slowly, hesitantly, he lies back onto the bed. Staring at the unfamiliar ceiling, he sighs.
Silently, fitfully, drifts off into sleep.