Chapter 1: Adam's First Child
In the month of July in the year 2015, something alien awakened.
It had slept for years uncounted since being ripped prematurely from its Mother's womb, buried beneath miles of ice and stone. Left undisturbed, it might have slumbered eternally. But fifteen years ago, something had changed. It had heard its Mother scream in its mind; then the ice had burned and the stone had boiled in the heart an explosion of unimaginable power. The ferocity of the blast had shifted the planet on its axis. Every living thing on the continent had died instantly.
The alien had hardly been disturbed. It was not, in the conventional sense, a living being.
But its Mother's voice had echoed in its mind, and it had slowly begun to rouse itself from its long dormancy. Now, fifteen years later, it was fully awake. It manifested a body around its Core, condensing magic into physical form to serve as a container for its consciousness. Then, driven by a deep instinctual urge, it began to swim. A visceral longing that it could barely put a name to called it northwest, through the New Dead Sea that had flooded the corpse of the Antarctic continent, and into the Pacific.
The thing's migration did not go unnoticed. A flotilla of ships canvassing the New Dead Sea recorded it on their sonar: a massive object, vaguely humanoid in shape, moving under its own power. They fired off a flurry of alarming messages to the UN, warning of the possible appearance of a being similar to the one that had devastated the world fifteen years ago. Then, on a secret channel, they transmitted a far more meaningful message to their true masters: "A child of Adam has awakened. Alert NERV to prepare for battle."
A force under UN command encountered the thing first. Three Harushio-class submarines, sleek 77-meter long war machines, intercepted it as it approached the coast of Japan. The submarines converged on their target with deadly intent, launching torpedoes the moment they were in range. Three Type 89 torpedoes, each carrying 267 kilograms of high explosive, homed in on the target and detonated.
They failed to so much as scratch it.
Moments from impact, a wall of blue light sprang forth between the torpedoes and the alien. This glowing circle of magic energy absorbed the explosions without difficulty, completely buffering the alien from the blasts. The submarines did not see this fantastical event; their senses limited to sonar, they could only detect that their attack had failed. They would never have a chance to figure out why.
Though conventional weapons posed no more threat to the alien than the bite of an ant did to a human being, it recognized that it was under attack and responded accordingly. Brilliant light burned for a moment in its hollow eye sockets, then lanced forwards. The submarines' metal hulls provided no defense against this magical assault. Steel vaporized in an instant, unable to put up the slightest resistance to the arcane energies wielded by the alien.
Three pillars of light erupted from the shattered wrecks, piercing the water's surface and stabbing into the sky. A smaller beam spread out perpendicular to each shaft; to the observers in the spy planes flying over the ocean, the explosions resembled Roman crosses.
Had there been any observers left under the water, they would have seen that the blast was symmetrical, extending below the remains of the submarines as it did above; the total shape was that of an archaic Cross of Lorraine. But no such observers remained; there was only the alien, swimming on towards its destination.
Old Tokyo had been destroyed fifteen years ago, during the chaos following the catastrophe now known as Second Impact. Replacing it was the city of Tokyo-3, built on the site of the city formerly known as Hakone. This site was not chosen at random. Beneath Tokyo-3 was a massive, perfectly-spherical chamber 13.75 kilometers in diameter: the GeoFront. Much of the GeoFront had become filled with dirt and rubble over the millions of millennia since its formation in the days when the Earth was young; only a small dome-shaped portion at the top remained clear. This dome served as the headquarters of NERV, the organization that had been established for purpose of securing humanity's future.
A black pyramid stood on the surface of the ground within the GeoFront. Within lay Central Dogma, the heart of NERV. Here were built the MAGI, three organic supercomputers which planned the future of mankind; and here lived the person charged with overseeing their mission during the coming trials.
The mood was tense in the command center. NERV was run out of a room with a three-tiered structure. On the lowest level, the MAGI churned in their boxes, sifting through vast amounts of data in their quest to find the perfect course of action. On the middle deck, two men and a woman sat at computer stations. They were the technicians charged with feeding data to the MAGI and interpreting the output. Their fingers danced over their keyboards as new information poured in. And on the final level, above and behind the technicians, two people watched the large holographic display that showed the enemy's movement. This woman and man were the commander and vice-commander of NERV, two of the most powerful people on the planet.
Commander Precia Testarossa was a middle-aged woman. Her dark hair covered the left side of her face. No emotion showed in her dark eyes as she regarded the information on the display; Precia was a woman who rarely expressed what she was thinking. By contrast, the dismay of the man standing next to her was evident. Vice Commander Kozo Fuyutsuki was an elderly man with greying hair; his eyes darted back and forth as he took in the information on display.
"And so the first child of Adam has awakened." Precia said. "Now NERV will face its first true test."
"It's unfortunate that the UN forces engaged the target first." Fuyutsuki said. "Conventional weapons are useless against Angels; their deaths were for nothing."
Precia clasped her hands.
"To the contrary, the loss of the submarines suits our purposes nicely." she stated. "The sooner the UN realizes all of their weapons amount to nothing in the face of the Angels, the sooner we will be given full authority over anti-Angel operations."
Fuyutsuki sighed unhappily. "How many lives do you think that understanding will cost?"
Precia ignored him, instead turning her attention to the technicians.
"What do the MAGI say?" she asked.
First Lieutenant Makoto Hyuga, a slightly nerdy young man with glasses, was the first to respond.
"The MAGI have completed analysis of the Barrier deployed by the target in the combat against the submarines. There's no doubt; the target is an Angel." he said.
First Lieutenant Shigeru Aoba, a young man with long hair spoke next.
"Target, designation Sachiel, is approaching the ruins of Old Tokyo. UN forces are gathering there in preparation to intercept."
Finally, First Lieutenant Maya Ibuki, a petite young woman who sat on a pillow to reach her control panel more comfortably, responded.
"The MAGI are recommending that your daughter also be deployed to intercept at Old Tokyo." she said. "If combat with the Angel occurs in the ruins, collateral damage will be minimized."
"Arrange for high-speed transport of Fate to the combat zone." Precia commanded.
She leaned back in her chair.
"Sachiel." Precia's face was inscrutable. "Show me the power of Adam's progeny."
Amidst the half-submerged ruins of Old Tokyo, the Angel called Sachiel surfaced. For the first time, the Angel could be seen clearly by the forces arrayed against it. It was humanoid in appearance, but only vaguely; its limbs were unnaturally spindly for its size. It had no head or neck, its face instead appearing to be a mask-like bony protrusion in the front between its shoulders. Several other bone formations gave the appearance of pads over its shoulders and of a rib cage enclosing its chest. Visible beneath the ribs was a crystalline red sphere that seemed to shine with internal radiance. The rest of Sachiel's body was blue-black and blubbery in appearance. Gill-like structures fibrillated on the Angel's thighs, though they existed only out of a vestigial adaptive instinct rather than any actual need for respiration.
The military forces that had been gathered in Old Tokyo wasted no time scrutinizing the finer details of the monster as it rose from the water. They had been informed by NERV that this creature, this Angel, was capable of causing a repeat of the devastation wrought fifteen years previously. Memories of Second Impact were still vivid in the soldiers' minds: many of them had fought in the numerous wars that ensued when the world was plunged into chaos following the event. Even now, a decade and a half later, the economies and infrastructures of the world's former superpowers still had not fully recovered. The message from NERV had been clear: the Angel must be stopped at any cost. The world would not survive a Third Impact. And so they did not hesitate on regarding this otherworldly opponent, but immediately opened fire with everything they had.
The missiles struck first. They were of all different makes and models, having been launched from the planes of dozens of different countries in the UN's coalition force. Sachiel was temporarily obscured by a cloud of flame and smoke as the missiles impacted him from all sides. When the smoke cleared, Sachiel was unmarked. A large glowing magic circle had inscribed itself in the air around the Angel, intercepting the missiles before impact. The blue magic had soaked up the explosions effortlessly; there was no sign that the defensive barrier had been even slightly weakened by the attack. Sachiel, obviously unconcerned by the assault, began striding forwards through the half-sunken city; the magic circle faded, its purpose served.
Helicopters attacked next. They spun around the Angel like flies, unleashing a constant stream of bullets from their guns. The defensive magic circle immediately reasserted itself, demonstrating no difficulty blocking this new method of attack. Though the circle hovered in front of Sachiel, it appeared to provide a sphere of total protection; when the helicopters fired at the Angel from behind, blue sparks erupted in the air where the machine gun bullets struck an invisible barrier of magic.
Sachiel paused now, seeming to consider whether these human weapons were significant enough to warrant a response; then, with no warning, it swung out its arms and swatted the helicopters out of the sky. The pilots had kept what they thought was a safe distance during the attack, but Sachiel's limbs proved unexpectedly elastic as it stretched them out to reach the choppers. Those which survived the first swings attempted to flee, but to no avail: Sachiel extended its limbs still further to snatch them out of the sky. Then, all immediate resistance having been quashed, it resumed its single-minded march towards Tokyo-3.
Not far from Sachiel, standing on the roof of one of the ruined buildings of Old Tokyo, was someone who seemed quite out of place in this war zone. It was a young girl, no more than ten years of age. She had exceptionally long golden hair, which she wore tied in twintails.
Her name was Fate.
Fate regarded the monstrous Angel with unflinching eyes, then touched a hand to her chest.
"Bardiche," she said. "Set up."
A yellow magic circle expanded across the ground beneath Fate's feet, then magic spilled from her chest and wrapped itself around her. The magic was jagged and wild, crawling over the surface of her body like bolts of electricity. However, after a moment and in response to her thoughts, the energy settled into a solid form: a battle uniform consisting of a black one-piece with a cape. Once her clothing was complete, the magic condensed itself into her hand and began forming itself into a weapon. A sleek mechanical device assembled itself, an axe-like weapon based on the antique Russian bardiche.
Her transformation completed, Fate stepped forward off of the building. She dropped down towards the water, then her magic flared once more.
"Blitz Rush." Fate said.
Abruptly, she wasn't falling; she was flying. Fate skimmed the surface of the water and rocketed towards Sachiel. The Angel reacted to her approach and raised its defensive circle; Fate adjusted her speed, bent her legs as she collided with the barrier, and then backflipped off of it to hover a short distance in front of Sachiel.
"Photon Lancer." Fate invoked.
Energy gathered around her, converging onto four points. Each point swelled into a sphere, a crackling ball of compressed lightning. A thought from Fate sent all four rocketing into the Angel's barrier. The reaction was spectacular; the magic field which had so easily withstood conventional weapons visibly wavered upon contact with Fate's magic. The lightning balls burned brightly against flickering shield; then the Angel's barrier shattered. Three of the spheres winked out, their energy expended, but the fourth shot forwards and burned a neat hole in the Angel's left shoulder, below the bony guard. A moment later, a thick jet of blue blood spewed out.
The injury hampered the Angel for only a moment; seconds later, the blood flow had already stopped and the wound was closing as new flesh grew into the hole. But by then, Fate was already in motion. She flew forwards, past the boundary of the now-broken barrier, then made a hard right and accelerated towards the Angel's left elbow.
A crescent blade of golden light extended from Bardiche as Fate flew past Sachiel's elbow, then the lower part of the Angel's arm separated and plunged into the turbulent water below. Blood jetted from the stump for a few seconds until the flesh began to heal. An entire limb would take longer to regrow, however, and Fate was still on the move. Sachiel swatted at her with its remaining hand, but Fate nimbly danced through the fingers. She brought herself over the Angel's arm, then dropped down to Sachiel's chest. Within its bony rib cage, the Angel's red gem of a Core glittered.
Fate drew back Bardiche, but stopped when she saw light beginning to gather in the Angel's hollow eye sockets. Fate hurled herself backwards just as Sachiel fired an intense beam of power. The magic missed Fate and struck the ocean below, which began to glow and boil violently.
"Defenser!" Fate shouted.
A magic circle formed in front of her as a pillar-shaped explosion erupted from the water below, splitting into a cross as it rose. A shockwave buffeted Fate, but her shield easily held against the indirect hit. Fate leveled Bardiche at Sachiel's face, and a second magic circle formed. Energy swelled in front of it, straining for release.
Sachiel was gathering more energy in its eyes, trying to unleash a second attack, but Fate was faster. Her gathered energy exploded forwards, forming itself into an attack like an immense bolt of guided lightning. The beam attack struck the Angel directly in its mask-like face. Flesh boiled and bone melted under the ferocity of the assault, and the blazing lights died in their sockets as the Angel's mask cracked.
Now Fate resumed her originally interrupted attack, diving down to Sachiel's chest while re-invoking Arc Saber. Fate swung the blade upwards and sliced off one of the protective ribs, exposing more of the glittering red Core. She drew back the electric blade, prepared to drive it into the shining crystal, but Sachiel reacted defensively by drawing its arms in towards its chest. The Angel's right hand was spread out for an open-handed swat, like a human might swat a fly; its left arm still ended at a stump at the wrist, but the forearm alone was still larger than Fate. She was forced to push away again to avoid being crushed, sliding through the gap between the Angel's arms as it drew them to its chest.
Fate aimed Bardiche, ready to fire another Thunder Smash, when suddenly there was a great ripping sound as the flesh of the Angel's torso was torn apart from within. Sachiel's cracked and broken face mask was pushed aside by a second mask that erupted from beneath it, like a permanent tooth pushing out its baby predecessor. This new mask was whole and undamaged, and it already had the lights of a prepared attack blazing in its sockets.
"Defenser!" Fate barely had time to scream.
The beam attack hit her full on. Fate's protective shield had earlier held up to the secondary shockwave of the Angel's attack, but a direct hit was in another league entirely. The barrier held for only moments before shattering and letting through the remaining force of the blast. White-hot energy closed around Fate's Barrier Jacket, the uniform she had made through her magic; then that too was ripped away and Fate was flung backwards amidst a storm of fire.
"God have mercy on us," Fuyutsuki said as the results of the battle arrived at the command center.
Precia stared wordlessly at the holographic display, hands clasped. Her face displayed no emotion.
"The target has resumed course for Tokyo-3." Shigeru reported. "If its speed remains constant, it will arrive within four hours."
"We've been contacted by the UN forces." Makoto said. "They say they're planning—"
"Commander!" Maya interrupted. "I've just received a report — your daughter is alive! She's been recovered from the sea by a UN helicopter."
"What is her condition?" Precia asked.
"She's unconscious... there don't seem to be any internal injuries, but she's been severely burned. They say... they say she might not make it." Maya said.
"That won't do. Her loss would be unacceptable at this juncture." Precia said neutrally. "Instruct them to have a high-speed transport bring her to the GeoFront immediately. And inform Dr. Akagi to be ready to begin treatment as soon as Fate arrives."
"Ah, that's right! Sempai will know what to do!" Maya said happily. "She's been working really hard on the Devices lately, finding different ways their magic can be used. If she can access Bardiche, she can instruct it to use its magic to heal Fate. That should—"
"Correct, Lieutenant Ibuki." Precia said, cutting her off. "Fate has received severe injuries before, during training, and Dr. Akagi's ministrations have always been exceptionally effective. As such, there is no need to speak further on the matter. Lieutenant Hyuga, you were saying?"
"Uh, right." Makoto said. "The UN is planning to deploy an N-2 mine against the Angel. Given the time necessary to prepare the bomb, they won't be able to deploy it until the Angel is right outside Tokyo-3."
"They'd use an N-2 mine that close to the city?" Fuyutsuki asked.
"MAGI calculate an 85% chance the bomb will be completely ineffective, and a 14.99% chance that it will only briefly hamper the Angel." Makoto added.
"Fools will be fools. Let them use their toy." Precia said. "And after the world watches their best attempt fail, it will be NERV that carries the day. That should serve us well in the court of public opinion."
"You plan to use the second candidate, then?" Fuyutsuki asked.
"Captain Harlaown has already been dispatched to pick her up." Precia said. "Even if the N-2 mine has no effect, there should be sufficient time to prepare her."
"She's had no training." Fuyutsuki protested.
"I have confidence she will perform." Precia said. "Her test results show a near perfect compatibility with Raising Heart; she should be able to bond with it far more quickly than Fate did with Bardiche."
"To think... the future of mankind now rests in the hands of one ten-year-old girl." Fuyutsuki said.
"We'll just have to hope she lives up to expectations." Precia commented.