LAST TIME ON MIGHTY MORPHIN MECHA RANGERS!
Kaiba and Yugi listen to audio tapes from the fight with Jet Alone and are very much okay with it talking on it's own. Kaiba exhibits either great arrogance or bravery by epically telling off "Enoch" and leaving like nothing had happened. Bright Noah makes his first appearance in the story via hologram and warns Kamille about upcoming trouble and that he should stay exactly in the heart of where it will be. Naturally, Kamille doesn't see any problem with this and complies with his orders.
Shinji visits his injured, but no longer drugged not-girlfriend and misunderstands her feelings for the other boy who pilots an evangelion. In his anger, he gets annoyed with a bitchy reporter and punches her out while her intern rewards him with an interview. The other new mecha pilots get used to their new surroundings, Mamoru gets to watch Kamina, Bulgus and Van enter a three way with their swords...to show off their skill as duelists, Vega and Bit take a shot at Ao for inciting the Medi-chlorian effect, Coop gets tricked into destroying a Federation base by Anabel...I mean Anavel Gato and General Shepard shoots and burns the messenger because he couldn't stop a forty meter tall robot capable of demolishing armies from wiping out his base.
Where's the fairness in the world, people?
I don't care honestly, it's not like I'm getting paid to do this!
Royal Palace of Fanelia
The Shadow of Doubt hung from his shoulders, heavier than the black cloak whose train ran back to the seat of the steward.
Once an outcast, a traitor and now standing in place of his brother, Folken stood emotionless before the image of a kneeling pyromaniac.
"All this time..." Folken started, "And this is all that you can report to me?"
"I allowed Genome to take you to earth and you have yet to accomplish your mission." Folken watched the affeminine youth shiver, "And yet, you follow the whims of a little girl...while the Winged Goddess remains alive and empowers my brother with their love."
"What do you want me to do? Kill her?" Dilandau asked with a sarcastic laugh, the fool had forgotten his place after all, "You need to be more specific Folken-" Fear defined his features now, fear from feeling Folken's power surge towards him and encase his body in an unseeable cocoon of agony and pain.
"Don't. Mock. Me." Folken watched as Dilandau grabbed his arm, his hand twisting out of place as the Steward of Fanelia broke and dislocated each finger again and again, "Who was it that removed you from within the mind of Lord Allen's sister?"
"Yes," Folken continued to punish the squirming fool, "Who was it that gave you shape? Gave you a body to call your own form? Granted you my own blood and with it the blood of the black dragon?"
"Whom do you serve until your pitiful life has come to an end?"
"Lord...Folken..." Dilandau slowly muttered, "LORD FOLKEN!"
"Be sure and remember that." Folken warned when he released Dilandau from his torture, "Do not disappoint me, Dilandau." The young man snarled as a pulse of magic disrupted the air around Folken, but Folken was unaffected and stood still as the former slayer of Zaibach was stricken by Folken's counterattack and fell onto his back, his eyes twitched with pain as the fool slowly breathed.
"You need time to your thoughts," Folken said as the image of Dilandau began to fade, "Continue in your fun, but do not forget your mission."
"Incredible..." A nearby chambermaid said in awe, "My lord...to deflect and harm Dilandau when he is such a distance away from Gaea?"
"You are amazed by this power?" The girl blushed when Folken brought his face close to her's and he soothed his finger along her chin, "Don't be. This power is nothing more than an opium sent by the gods to deceive us into believing that we have control over our lives and our fate."
"But did this power not allow you survive death when Dornkirk struck you?"
"I don't believe it did..." Folken answered the girl, "My survival was always guaranteed, always fated. No matter the path that we take, all roads will lead to where they were determined to lead."
"Sir..." The girl started, she was curious of the unknown apparently, "What of paths that intersect?"
"They will lead wherever they were meant to lead." Folken answered as his cloak wrapped around him, "Leave me."
"It is good to you see again, Folken"
"Thank you Keelz, though I won't say the same for you." The Council of Seele heard Folken greet, "Where is Rosewater?"
"On a tour at my expense," Ikari answered, "His memories will be essential to our plans, so I felt that it would only be fitting for him to see just how far our design reaches."
"What of the beast from the Age before Time?"
"Akagi is transporting it." Ikari went on, "The last facility was deemed unfit to keep it in check."
"Understatement of the hour, Ikari," Seele 08 argued, "You should destroy that creature while you have the means to do so."
"Irrelevant," Ikari quickly answered, "Is the Lunar Fleet prepared?"
"They will be-"
"That was a yes or no question, Admiral," Ikari clarified to the hidden Federation Admiral, "Once the Right of Deployment is issued, I will need all speed to ensure that it is carried out swiftly. I will broker nothing less, is that clear?"
"Hackett and Noah are-"
"Irrelevant," Ikari said again, "Silence them and their constituents if you have to."
"What is this Right of Deployment?"
"An emergency power granted to Nerv's predecessor after the Impact which was then carried over to Nerv." Ikari explained to Seele 00, "In the event of an Angel attack, Nerv will have the authority to command and mobilize any necessary portion of Federation and other allied forces in order to counter the Angel Threat."
"Simple enough..." Seele 00 replied, intrigued with the new information, "But why bother? The angels are trying to attack Nerv HQ and Sachiel already proved the uselessness of the Federation Forces against them."
"Unless..." Folken spoke, "Have the Dead Sea Scrolls spoken of a possible relocation for the next angel attack?"
"Not the scrolls," Ikari answered, "A much more reliable source has informed me of another way that the angels could attack us."
Tokyo-3 International Airport
"SCIENCE! ENERGY! SCIENCE! ENERGY!" A sixty year old traveler watched an overhead commercial with amusement, "Electrolytes, power lights, more lights than YOUR BODY HAS ROOM FOR!" Despite how absurdly over the top the commercial was, a lot of young men had become pumped by the subject matter as if being rallied.
"Does that drink actually work?"
"I've actually tried it," A man in his late twenties with his hair tied into a tail on his back answered when he sat down next to the traveler, "All it does is really boost what you already have."
"You'll be so fast; Mother Nature will be like SLOOOOOW DOOOOWN!" The commercial went on, "And you'll be like FUCK YOU and kick her in the face with your ENERGY LEGS!"
"So it's not a scheme by Kaiba."
"At least not one that he'd be bothered to pull." "Nervous?"
"Cut to the chase, am I about to die?"
"Not that I'm aware of..." "Why? Are you about to silence me on your student's orders?"
"Don't worry about that..." The Traveler assured his friend, "I've dismissed myself from that man's company."
"Finally couldn't take it anymore?" The young man humorously asked, "I'm surprised that you lasted this long."
"I should say the same for you."
"So where are you off to now?"
"First, I'm going to do what I should've done when the Fourth Angel was defeated," The former vice-commander of Nerv started, "Then I'll retire to someplace cool and bereft of moral compromise to live out the rest of my days in whatever peace I can gather."
"And you really think that you'll find it?"
"I certainly won't find it in Nerv," The old man stated, "I should've realized it when Yui left us...left Gendo and Shinji to fend for themselves...likely know that they'd fall apart without her."
"What about her daughter?"
"Just how far have you been prying Kaji?"
"Struck a nerve?" The old man refused to give any secret now that his suspicions had been baited, "Yeah...I've been doing that to a lot of people lately."
"Who else are you working for? The Black Knights? The Black Prince? Londo Bell? The damned Silver Hawks?"
"You're not the only one whose jumping ship," Kaji stated, "Hell! I've forgotten whose side I was originally on...I guess it doesn't matter now...does it?"
"So where are you going?" Kaji held up a ticket showing his destination, a location that made the old man scoff, "Why am I not surprised?"
"Believe it or not, I was actually invited," Kaji explained, worriedly looking over the ticket as he did, "I think that I'm going to die..."
"You'd be the lucky one...you get to die young and heroic," The old man casually assured the triple...quadruple...agent, "Me...I've lived too long...lived to see myself become the villain."
"Dark Knight fan?"
"I always used to think of myself as Commissioner Gordon..." Fuyutski admitted to answer Kaji's question, "A normal police officer whose armed with intelligence, honor and integrity...enough to earn the respect of a hero who operates outside of the world's laws. In truth...I'm probably more alike to a henchman of Mr. Freeze."
"Iceman cometh!" Kaji called out, earning a threatening glare from various young people wearing Dark Knight shirts or reading Batman comic books, "What? Don't tell me that you've never watched Batman and Robin for a good laugh."
"I actually wish my Mr. Freeze was as funny," Knowing who the former vice-commander was talking about, Kaji noticed a dark irony, "Now I'm afraid that he's lost sight of that which he wishes to find...or maybe he's so fixated on the woman in her frozen prison...that he ignores the child who cries for his love and his acknowledgement...and only turns to the boy when he needs him to pick away at the impenetrable prison."
"You've thought a lot about this...haven't you?"
"Doesn't matter..." The intercomm activated and called for the next flight to board, "There's my flight."
"Mine too!" Kaji exclaimed when he grabbed Fuyutski's bags along with his own, "Relax...I killed all of the guys following me...or maybe they were after you? Both of us?"
"Did you now?" Fuyutski didn't doubt Kaji's boast, he just didn't want to think about how he did so, "You're awfully clean for someone who just got out of a fight."
"Here's the thing..." Kaji explained when the intercomm called for a clean-up in Parking Lot T-83, "A fight implies that both sides had a chance of winning."
Bethany Nerv Containment Area
Another cigarette went out, so she threw it over the rails.
The doctor stood in the protected control center of an elaborately large cage. One that would house a cargo from before time was even comprehended. From box-shaped windows, multiple mobile suits and knightmare frames pointed their weapons at the shaking box that was lured into the cage. The cargo within eventually ceased it's attempts to escape while the doctor yawned.
"This guy looks pretty hungry..." A nearby technician gulped while monitoring the surveilance camera within the cargo box, "Hard to believe that he used to be king of the dinosaurs-"
"King? More like a god before it's time," Dr. Akagi scoffed as the box was lowered into an opening a the bottom of the cage, once secured, a large platform slid over the bottom of the cage and obscured the box from naked sight, "Hyuga, the truth is that there was no first tyrannosaurus rex. The skeleton that the media displayed was a carefully studied and crafted fake to amaze and distract the masses from the increasing cost of living."
"So we found nothing?"
"We found him." Ritsuko answered, "It was found frozen in sub-zero temperatures close to the border between the Earth's Crust and the Mantle. From geographic studies, we concluded that this creature was hit by a large piece of debris that caused it to fall into what was at the time a large lake...the creature was unable to swim to the surface due to it's small and unflexible arms. It's strength comes from it's jaw and it's leg strength."
"How is it still alive then?"
"We haven't figured it out," Ritsuko partially admitted, being careful to leave out details that were above the technician's pay grade, "But it possesses a remarkable amount of physical endurance, strength, and sheer determination once it spots it's prey. In fact, there's evidence of various episodes where the specimen endured injuries that should kill any other creature of it's kind, but this one somehow survived each and everyone of them."
"Survival of the fitness, my dear," Ritsuko heard her tolerated guest comment, "Apparently, this creature possesses the sheer will to survive all obstacles, even the onset of an extinction level meteor. The Will of a being who dominated his world with absolute authority and power."
"Or it was extremely lucky," Ritsuko sarcastically countered, earning a chuckle from Mr. Rosewater's son, "A simple apparition that has lived too far beyond it's time and now merely exists in a world that it will never be able to adapt in."
"Then why allow it's DNA to be used in the "Neo-Zilla" Project?"
"Just because it can't cope, doesn't mean that it's not of use," Ritsuko noted, "I heard that it was able to match the original King of Monsters himself before he was captured...but both are out of their element."
"Excuse me ma'am," The Security Captain asked, "Permission to engage the feeding mechanism?"
"Granted," Ritsuko quickly answered while a Gustav Karl MS walked along the platform's surface and set up the feeding mechanism for the caged beast, "Problem child?"
"This is sad..." Rosewater's son lamented, though his face retained a cold smile, "A King doesn't want to be fed, it wants to hunt."
"A king is not placed within a cage," Ritsuko pointed out as meat was fed through the mechanism, "If he wants to hunt, then he shouldn't have been captured. The captive have no say in what they eat."
"As long as they remain captive."
"Ma'am..." The Gustav Karl reported, "It's not eating."
"Guess it's not hungry." Ritsuko concluded, "Cease feeding procedure and call it a night-" The doctor was interrupted when a large crash rocked the entire cage and knocked the Gustav Karl over the opening in the platform. The Security Captain cried out as the MS was savagely pulled into the small opening and nothing was heard except for metal crunching and slowly silenced screaming.
"See?" Wayne Rosewater pointed out, "It wanted to hunt."
"WHAT THE FUCK-" Another Security officer yelled as a green-brown creature burst out from the platform of it's cage and roared a thunderous roar that broke the glass of the observation deck, "HOLY...FUCKING...SHIT...IT'S A DINOSAUR!"
"WHAT THE FUCK!"
"They didn't know that they were monitoring a dinosaur?"
"There's a difference between knowing and seeing," Ritsuko commented, "Know that they see it, they're reactions are common gibberish like, "Oh my fucking god! Fucking dinosaur!"
"If you're all done! It's trying to escape!"
"IT'S JUMPING AND CLIMBING!" The Security Lieutenant noted as his security window was breached by the sharptooth dinosaur, "ENGAGE PROTOCAL ATLAS!"
"Increasing Gravity Pull to 300%" Hyuga said as the gravity within the cage increased to levels that would crush must humans to a complete pulp, but the dinosaur designated "Sharptooth", remained unaffected as it picked out a GM III and ate it while ignoring fire from his captors, "Subject is resisting!"
"Hammerfall Unit?" Ritsuko asked, having seen this situation before, "Engage at will."
"Understood." A young girl answered when the top of the cage opened up and down dove a green Evangelion with multiple legs and a large hollow lance, "Point blank shithead!" Eva Uni 05 stabbed it's lance through the Sharptooth's back, causing it to succumb to the force of 300 times gravity and plummet into the depths with Eva falling above it. The area shook when both massive creatures hit the ground, Ritsuko watched as Unit 05 stomped on the creature's jaws to close them and embedded it's lance further into the dinosaur.
"The target is silent..." The Security Sargeant reported, "Unit 05 has it contained."
"Send in the clean-up team to get it into it's cage." Ritsuko commanded, "Mari! Provide ranged cover."
"Got it, hag." Ritsuko growled at the show of disrespect, "Sorry, I meant Old Hag."
"I really hate that little bitch." Ritsuko admitted, though she would wait to really show that little brat a peace of her mind, "Great is retribution for the patient."
"Out of it's element, right?" Wayne Rosewater asked, trying to rub Ritsuko's apparent oversight into her face, "Perhaps you are the one who is obsolete, Dr. Akagi."
"Watch your mouth young man-"
"My son is merely speaking his mind, no need to punish him." Mr. Rosewater said in defense of his son, "So much like his darling angel of a mother when she was with us. But a king is still a king, my dear. Even when it's removed from it's kingdom, the king simply creates a new one to join with the old."
"My mother was right about you...Anyway, my retribution approaches."
"Hey hag!" Mari shouted over the comm, "The team has the beast in it's cage, what are your orders?"
"Tell the team to inject more tranquilizer fluid into it's skin then leave the cage." Ritsuko commanded as Mari hauled up the stunned beast and allowed a team of GMs to stab it with long lances to further subdue it, "Some king...it may have been king of it's world, but it's in our world now...the world of humankind."
"You mean mankind my dear," Rosewater corrected, "Feminist views aside, this is the world of men."
"And when you men destroy each other, woman shall inherit the earth."
"Or what's left of it when we're done with our destructive quarrels."
Angel Groove Medical Center
"Hey Annie..." Hikari greeted the little red head that bounced onto her bed, "Hitomi? Nia? Mrs. Smith? What are all of you doing here?"
"They came here to visit you silly!"
"She's probably tired from all of the therapy." Hitomi guessed while everyone took a seat around Hikari, "You like Hospital food?"
"Oh...I don't mind and it was..." Hikari looked at the near-empty plate on the table next to her bed, "Left here by Shinji."
"Cute." Dorothy observed when she picked up a crumb and ate it, "Light dash of cherry spice...Greek salt...wait, Spartan salt...lemon juice...and black pepper from Mars...he put a lot of effort into a simple breakfast."
"He does love to cook," Nia said, "But I was to believe that only women should cook food for the men?"
"Who said that?"
"Put that thing away, Leena." Hitomi told Leena, who reluctantly stashed her shotgun into the bust of her shirt, "How does it even fit in there?"
"It's called having a heavy bust." Leena answered, causing Hitomi to notice her small her bust was in comparison, "Relax! I don't really know either...dad's the one who designed the dress."
"Your dad designed the dress? Explains the tacky color scheme."
"Says the princess who walks around in a school uniform most of the time and the most teasing formal dress in the world."
"Look...I didn't design that Fanelian dress, it was a gift from a merchant that me and Van knew." Hitomi answered, whistling from Van's reaction when she first wore said dress, "Fanelians aren't very conscious about modesty, alright?"
"Modesty is not dressing like trash, Annie." Dorothy explained to her daughter, "Or better yet, it's dressing in clothes that are appropriate for where you're going."
"So...not wearing pajamas to go over someone's house?"
"Then why is Noriko in her pajamas?"
"Hey!" Noriko walked over to Annie, picked her up and started tickling her on Hikari's bed, "This is an officer's custom uniform you little squirt!"
"Yeah, I got promoted!" Noriko cheered, giving Annie a chance to jump on the DF member and start her own tickle barrage, "Hey! Not the stomach! Anywhere but there!"
"Can I tickle someone?"
"Okay! Hurry and tickle Noriko before she gets up-"
"Too late!" Noriko shouted when she flipped onto her feet and started tickling Annie while the little girl was still latched to her, "You've got skill, but I've got guts and courage!"
"Are we really going to watch this?"
"Let em have their fun."
"I'm not going to watch," Nia smiled as she walked behind Noriko and started tickling her back, "Surprise-"
Multiple worlds revolved around their stars, engulfed in blooms of light and energy when those stars were destroyed.
The people upon those worlds cried out in one voice before death silenced their voices, before energy melted away their bodies.
But they continued in sorrow, defeat and pain...even as their children cried...
Cried as beams of light and shadow evaporated their bodies...
Cried as the front of their skulls were pried from their struggling writhing forms...
Cried as their oppressors drained their very blood from the veins of their bodies...
Cried as they and their neighbors were crucified upon great black towers...
Cried as brothers was forced to kill an enemy that resembled their fallen family and loved ones...
Cried as their towering foes restrained and prodded their very soul...
Cried as their leaders remained silent to their pain, slain before anyone knew that war was upon them...
Cried as their greatest work was turned against them as a harbinger of their destruction...
In the center of the pain was a single being...a being shrouded completely in a vortex of red and dark energy as the world upon which he stood and the worlds around that world all darkened. The being opened his eyes, eyes that were little more than tiny red orbs that held no remorse or pity...
Back to Reality
"I..." A still Noriko put down Annie and turned to leave, "I need to go..."
"What was that about?" Hikari asked, "Annie?"
"Annie?" Dorothy bent down to her shaking and tearful daughter, the child silently grabbed her mother, "What happened?"
"Nia?" Leena asked Nia, who remained on her knees with widened eyes, "Your face just became really pale...okay..."
"I believe that we should go." A concerned Dorothy nodded to the girls and carried her daughter out of the room, "It will be alright Annie, just tell me what happened."
"What if..." Nia started, "If I told you...told you that I saw something? A thousand different somethings all weaved together like a flashing photo movie that just keeps repeating and repeating itself over and over again at maximum volume to where you feel like you're drowning?"
"Maybe I should take a look..."
"Hitomi, you really shouldn't-" Before Nia could protest further, Hitomi had already melded her mind with Nia's.
"I don't see anything..." Hitomi answered, "Your friend might've shown all of you her memories when you guys touched."
"My friend? How did you know about her?"
"You wouldn't be the first," Hitomi explained, "Besides, you seemed more occupied than usual and I took a peek into your thoughts while we were going to Hikari's room. That was when I sensed two different flows of thought...who is she?"
"Could I...talk to you about it later?"
"Sure." Hitomi said when Nia rushed out of the room, further confusing Hikari, "Don't worry about it! Children always get scared of their own imaginations, I wouldn't be so-"
"Hitomi..." Hikari stared straight into the older girl's eyes, "Annie is a very calm girl for her age...likely because she's used to the unusual given her family circumstances; Nia has spent the last year or so with a group of hyperactive badasses who have enough energy between them to power the entire Colonial Axis; and Noriko once had a gun pointed to her face once and she just smiled before asking if the gunman had a bad day! Something happened! What was it?"
"They don't really know themselves, so I'm going to let them answer that, alright?" Hitomi asked when she saw Hikari fume and throw a pillow at the window, "What?"
"Sorry...I've just been so...pent up lately..."
"Between the attacks on the city, getting drugged by a pervert chef, kidnapped by a giant skyscrapper wearing a trench coat, nearly being abducted by a robot scorpion and then botching up your chances with Shinji-" Hitomi exhaled when she calmly caught the blade of Hikari's katana, "Okay...how did you sneak that past security?"
"Pidgeons..." Hikari replied when she quickly sheathed the sword and put it under her bed, "A flock of them carried it through my window."
"Pidgeons...right..." Hitomi scoffed, "Merle?"
"It was Lord Van's orders..." The catgirl apologetically explained when she appeared next to a surprised Leena, "He wanted to make sure that Shinji's lady was able to fend off any more attacks or attempted abductions."
"How sweet of him..."
"What the hell is everyone talking about?"
"It's okay Leena," Hitomi assured the confused Zoids ace, "Not all of us can have talents behind blowing things up or shooting them."
"Just like not everyone can be fooled by superstitious mumble jumble."
"What if I told you to duck in three seconds?"
"Why-" Leena barely managed to follow Hitomi's instructions before a baseball soared through Hikari's room and hit the space in the wall where Leena's head originally had been. She whistled when she saw smoke rise from the ball and then glanced at a waiting Hitomi, "Shut up..."
"So when do I start Mr. Kaiba?"
"Immediately," Seto Kaiba said to Dr. Tauros, "With this hefty collection of zoids at my disposal, my defense force can stop complaining that I never supply them."
"But I'm the one giving away the zoids-"
"Under my orders," Kaiba pointed out, "Get used to it, everything that has my name on it guarantees that I'll get full credit for everything that's done, even if I had nothing to do with it."
"Like George Lucas and Star Wars?"
"Exactly." Kaiba answered, "By the way, your team is under my control too."
"You're...very much okay with this."
"I was going to retire as the Blitz Team Manager anyway," Tauros explained, "Jamie has a better head between his shoulders, he'll manage them well when the Grand Prix starts up."
"Meanwhile, I'll receive a hefty portion of the winnings?"
"Fine and that will go to my son's treatment."
"And so we segway into tragic territory," Kaiba said when Tauros smile gave way to a solemn frown, "Oh come on! It's not like he'll never make a recovery! It's just a matter of how much of a recovery you were hoping for."
"I know that you're only trying to help..." Tauros stated as he took out a photo of his family, "But I've made my peace with this situation..."
"Of course you have Dr. Tauros," Kaiba nodded when he looked at the photo of Tauros with his wife, daughter Leena and his son, Leon, "That's why you came to me to help your hopeless son."
"And what else was I supposed to do?" Tauros asked like he was on trial, "Leena begged me to do something! Anything! The only reason that I thought you could help was because our Ace Pilot happened to be a miracle grower!"
"Bit's the reason that Leon has any...speck of hope..." Tauros exhaled while Kaiba waited for the weather to turn downcast, "I don't how what he did and he regrets that he couldn't do more...but that act gave Leena hope...hope that I will not take from her. As for me, I dare not hope."
"Gee...I'm sure your son will appreciate your outlook when he recovers."
"Assuming that I'll be around to see it." Tauros said more to himself than Kaiba, "What happened to Leon...destroyed a part of me...killed it...and whether he survives or not...it has taken it's toll on me."
"What? Are you dying?"
"No...it's just a feeling," Tauros inhaled once more and excitedly picked up a red blade liger, "Anywho! I have some zoids to work on! Thank you for your time Mr. Kaiba!"
"Whatever..." Kaiba said as the Zoid's Manager flew his toy zoid while exiting the office, "Sheesh! What is it with all of these schizos in town? One minute, they're depressed as hell and the next they start dancing like it's spring!"
"What was that!"
"You must calm yourself-"
"Don't tell me to calm down!" Nia screamed at the other presence in her mind, "This is...infuriating...you are infuriating!"
"Nia?" Yoko asked when she entered the room, "Are you alright-"
"Don't come in here!"
"This is my room!"
"Then go to Kamina's room!" Realizing who she just yelled at, Nia dropped her head and walked out, "I am sorry...I will go to my room..."
"Are you sure that I can't help-"
"No...no...you can't..." Nia said as she slammed the door behind her and made her way to her own room, "See what you made me do?"
"I did no such thing-"
"Then where did all of those images come from!"
"It was nothing that I caused-"
"That had never happened before so it had to have been you-"
"Not directly." The presence answered, "All I did was cipher that which was sent into your mind."
"Sent into my mind?" Nia asked, confused at what the presence had said, "It didn't come from you?"
"No..." Nia sat on her bed as the presence continued, "What you witnessed were glimpses and emotions from a time before my life was sang into being. A time from before your father fell into darkness."
"But you said that you were a cipher?"
"Yes." The presence answered, "I had learned and seen that which you just witnessed. Though that conflict was long since passed, I could make sense and understand...understand that I was seeing into the rise of the Antithesis...the creation of the Anti-spiral and the death of our forerunners."
"I...I see..." Another question prodded Nia's mind, "I this...is this what father saw?"
"Nia..." Nia sensed uncertainty within the presence, "I do not know what happened to your father...as our struggle continued...his hearing became burdened...burdened with a chorus of standing shadows. His voice became siphoned with fear...it eminated with a voice that chilled and discorded those who heard it. Even when we neared the homeworld of their world...fear had shattered his mind. Fear of his own power, fear of what would come of this victory, fear that feed into despair..."
"He...Why didn't it stop after the Anti-thesis was defeated?"
"Because he had come to accept his despair as his own." The Presence continued, "The chorus of our enemies saturated deep into his being, too deep for even the bonds with his companions to change that. Too deep for him to turn back from his betrayal...or from his actions of late."
"How do you know about them?"
"From you," The Presence explained further, "I know that Aether now impels his own people...fear still imprisons his mind...causing him to believe that all is lost."
"Fear? He hides it well if that is true."
"It has become a way of life. He believes himself prey to an inevitable fate."
"Nemesis," Nia recalled what Simon told her about the encounter with Enoch and suddenly she felt chilled, "I only know of it from the whispers that Aether would release. An event where all the forces of evolution would spiral out of control and destroy all of existence, exhausting the energies of the mortal realms even as it's voice becomes strained and unable to fully annunciate itself. That is why the Anti-thesis sought to destroy all life capable of expanding the spiral, that is the genesis of our war...a war that began before my life had been sung into existence."
"It started before you were born? How? Why?"
"I only know of this through echoes from the constant blabber of Water," The presence seemed both annoyed and fond of the individual named Water, "There was a Federation much like the one here on earth. One that spanned throughout the galaxy and beyond. One formed from the chaos of destruction and victory and at its center was a mighty Forge. This Federation formed much that still exists today, but they were destroyed by inward warfare. One chorus clashed with another and stars shattered before their meeting."
"Do you know more?"
"It is not a thing that I can speak of..." The Presence also seemed affected by what Nia had seen before, "Not alone, not without one who was there."
"Nia?" Nia heard someone call from outside her room, "It's Hitomi, Yoko told me to check on you-" Hitomi was interrupted when Yoko kicked down the door and entered.
"Was it necessary for you to kick my door in half?"
"You did lock it."
"If you were going to do that then why ask me to check on her?"
"Didn't you know that she'd do that?"
"Ha! So it is mumble jumble!"
"Pint down!" Yoko answered, "So talk to us. What's troubling you?"
"Apart from the voice in my head and vivid nightmarish images of death and destruction that still plague my waking consciousness?" Nia asked the older girls, "Nothing."
"About the first two..." Hitomi started, "Just tell us one thing...what made think that it was a good idea to join your soul with the soul of the Cyclopsis pilot?"
"How did you know that it was the Cyclopsis pilot?"
"You just told me and I saw it a few minutes ago." Hitomi replied, "Just explain it to us."
"Alright..." Nia agreed, "It happened a few days ago while the Exhibition was occurring..."
Command Center SO-Level Classified Hanger
"Abort start-up sequence!"
"Negative!" A technician cried as the entire hanger shook from the creature that fought against it's restraints, "The abort signal is being blocked! It's fighting against the restraints!"
"AT FIELD LEVELS INCREASING! IT'S SPREADING IT'S WINGS!"
"I told you to eject the Dummy Plug!"
"We did!" Another technician said to Mokuba, "We're gonna die! We can't shut down the armor!"
"Nerve Staples now!" Mokuba ordered and watched with resigned guilt as the creature squirmed, "Again!" As another pulse of energy was shot through the creature's spine, it calmed down and it's eyes faded out.
"Animus is calming down..." A technician with orange hair that obscured his freckled face stated, "Activity levels returning to normal."
"The armor isn't ready yet after all," Mokuba lamented, "Put it back into the vault and tell teams Zulu and Haftu that they'll have to put in overtime."
"Understood." The technician stated, "Can I go home...I mean to my apartment after this?"
"Yes Briefers, you can go."
"It's Briefs, okay?"
"Whatever floats your boat," Mokuba said to the geeky boy, "Even with the data that Mikey gave me...it's still not enough...I can't even call this a step forward."
"Why not just give up the whole project?"
"I would've been better off having never started at all..." Mokuba admitted to Briefs, "But I was hasty...I had no idea about what it took to create an Evangelion from scratch. I didn't care, I thought that it would be cool."
"You shouldn't blame yourself for what had to be done." Kiyal assured him, "She...volunteered for the procedure, her life would've ended regardless of rather or not you'd..."
"Maybe...and that's why I can't stop," Mokuba said to himself, "What I've done to Miss Anono...is unexcusible...if I give up now, it will be unforgivable. What she gave up cannot be salvaged."
"What did she..." Thankfully Kiyal recanted her question, "Better yet, I don't think I want to know..."
"Thanks for that Kiyal," Mokuba thanked his friend and then took a long look at the creature that stood restrained, "This is supposed to be humanity's line of defense against the angels? Makes you wonder if we're worth saving...if this is what we have to turn our hopes to."
"And the pilot?"
"Assuming we find one you mean? God have mercy on their soul because Animus sure won't."
"Hopefully, we won't need Animus."
"Even Shinji decides to bail...then we may not even have a choice."
"So you've settled in nicely..." Vega said when entered Ao's room after knocking and found him sitting on his mattress with both windows open, "Should I leave?"
"No." Ao replied, "Just letting some air flow through here."
"Sure," Ao answered, "What's up?"
"Just checking on you," Vega simply answered, "Like your room?"
"It'll work, it's better than the room I used to have."
"What was that one like?"
"A box with grafitti all over it."
"Okay...new subject," Vega decided and saw a picture of a young woman on Ao's dresser, "Whose this cute girl?"
"Oh!" A little panicked, Vega immediately dispelled certain thoughts from his mind, "She really looks like she's our age."
"Good genetics I guess," Ao answered in a hurry, "She's in Jaburo, got it? She left me with some old man when I was three and the next time I heard about her was a year ago. She got mixed up with a gang called the White Fang and got life imprisonment."
"Not really, the Fangs were a bunch of maniacs..." Ao explained with growing discontentment, "They built a space-fortress with gun strong enough to put the planet into a Nuclear Winter and when the gun got taken out, they tried to smash the station into the planet and had to be blown apart."
"And you really think your mom was with them?"
"Hell if I know," Ao said, flipping onto his feet and grabbing a nearby surfboard, "Doesn't change that she ditched me and my life's been a move from one beating to the next."
"Until you met us." Vega said, hoping to raise this kid's spirits, "Just don't break any of the Doc's model kits."
"How do you take him seriously?"
"I don't," Vega admitted, "I just smile and go on with my business. In any case, he's been pretty good to me, so he's like family."
"You've had a hard time with people?"
"Comes with the territory of being trained as a living weapon," Vega answered, "They raise you to use deadly zoids capable of wiping out cities and to be a lethal zoid warrior to the point that it's hardly fun...but as soon as you want to do something else...you get guilt-tripped or worse."
"People suck...don't they?"
"Not all of them, some just don't know any better."
District 17, Family Day Inn
"Why...Pen Pen...why?" Misato lamented as her penguin gulped down yet another can of beer right after Misato got home from buying it, "Isn't that stuff poisonous for you?"
The penguin quickly crushed the empty can against it's head and marched back to it's personal refrigerator. How did she piss off Pen-Pen? The penguin practically owes her his life but hasn't let her have a sip of beer since Shinji was abducted...
Maybe that was it.
"It's not like I set him up," Misato said to herself, "Can't wait till every last angel is gone, then I can give the "Commander" a piece of my mind!"
"What's stopping you know?"
"Shut it Maya!" Misato shouted at her roommate in the shower getting ready for an interview. She was just about to take another nap when she heard a knock at the door, "Who is it?"
"Colonel Katsuragi?" A kind yet stern voice asked, "My name's Roger Smith, could I come in?"
"Sure..." Misato answered and opened the door, "Welcome."
"Have I caught you at a bad time?"
"No...I'm a guest in this city, so none of my time is booked for squat."
"Why are you dressed like that?"
"Like what?" Mr. Smith inhaled and focused his face on Misato's, "Oh...sorry about the attire. I'm usually better dressed for work, this is about the only clothes that I have that don't have holes or tears in them."
"Oh yes, I heard about your encounter with the Decepticons."
"You've met em?"
"Not personally, one of their agents is being held at our Command Center." Roger explained, "It was found attempting to abduct a girl named Hikari Horaki."
"Hikari?" Misato knew the name from Shinji's class, she was the class representative before being transferred to a new academy, "Is she alright?"
"She should be checked out in a day or two." Roger assured the Colonel, seemingly assured himself of the woman's reaction to Hikari's situation, "But truth be told, I'm surprised to see you here so far from home or work."
"Cut to the chase Negotiator." Misato stated when she sat on her couch and crossed her legs, "I'm glad to know that one of Shinji's friends is alright, but we both that's not why you're here."
"It's true." Roger freely admitted, "Since we've decided to drop facades, then do go on Colonel. Could you explain how Shinji Ikari was recruited into your organization as the pilot of Unit 01?"
"You're talking to me like I'm enjoying any of it..." Misato was about tired of feeling like she was on trial, "You think I like throwing him out there? You don't think that I would trade anything to take his place?"
"This is not a trial, Colonel..."
"Very well, Misato." Roger agreed, "I'm simply trying to help everyone here to understand the full scope of Shinji's dilemna and how it is confusing him to the point of tearing apart his mental state of being."
"I didn't...know..." Misato admitted, "I thought that his father had told him everything...when I brought Shinji to NERV...he knew nothing...about the Eva...the Angels...nothing. I didn't much of it...at first, I thought that since the Commander was the head of Nerv that naturally he wouldn't have much time for his son..."
"Turns out, it was much worse." Roger added, "His father commanded him to pilot Eva without explanation and told him to leave if he wouldn't. Then Shinji changed his mind when his father was about to place an injured pilot into the Eva-"
"I won't make excuses for his actions...or mine...but there was nothing else we could do," Misato explained, recalling the first battle with Sachiel and the devastation that it left, "At the time, we only had one other pilot and she was too injured to be able to pilot...and our other available trained pilot was in Germany. Shinji was the only one who could pilot Eva or else the Angel would have won."
"Why was he left in the dark? Why didn't anyone inform him?"
"I thought that it was taken care of-"
"You made an assumption." Roger commented with unhidden disapproval, "Without a clear picture of the child's relationship with his father, you assumed that he would have been made aware of code-S classified information. Did you or anyone else attempt contact with the child before you "recruited" him?"
"The kid was moved all over the place, it was impossible to get a clear picture." Misato stated, "One report had him with Dr. Keyes, then we had him at Citadel Station undergoing alliance investigation...I didn't know what to expect when I picked him up...and his father didn't say shit about ever having a son until..."
"Until he needed him." Roger finished, "It's pretty clear what your organization did from your account and what Shinji has told us and what he doesn't need to say. Looks like Nerv had already made up it's mind on it's pilot for Unit 01 a long time ago. Right around when his mother died, his father abandoned him and had him shuttled from home to home, giving him to apathetic and unattached guardians whom he wouldn't be able to form a familial bond with. That way, he would be conditioned to desire the love a parent that he probably knows would never love him and act to do whatever it took for that love."
"That's a large assumption, negotiator."
"Look me in the eye and tell me that I'm wrong, colonel."
"Mr. Smith." Misato started to counter him and then stopped because there was nothing to counter with, "Damn it all..."
"And you were his former guardian?"
"I'm still his guardian."
"As approved by Nerv," Roger corrected, "Whom Shinji no longer works for."
"That's not your decision to make."
"It's his and he's already made it."
"How do I know that none of you coerced him into making that decision? Did you promise him a rank, paycheck, rights an adult and hookers if he stayed?"
"No one coerced him into anything. We've simply treated him with the respect that he deserves."
"What respect does a deserter have?"
"Apparently we've mixed the definitions for deserter and forcefully conscripted child soldier."
"If that's all Negotiator..." Misato stood up, really not in the mood to continue this conversation, "I will not sit here and let you accuse me while you excuse Shinji for turning his back on his responsibilities-" That was when Misato's day got a whole lot worse because a young man in a red shirt burst through the ceiling, landed like he'd jumped off of trampolene and drew out his sword with it's point in Misato's face.
"YOU DARE BELITTLE SHINJI'S HONOR WHEN YOU HAVE NONE TO BE COMPARED TO HIS?"
"Van!" A surprised Roger shouted, "How did you even get here?"
"Quiet Roger! This woman is speaking out of line!" Van declared, "As an employee of his bastard father, you have no right to say anything against Shinji's honor!"
"This coming from a guy who got sent to fight a dragon when he hit puberty?" Misato asked as she drew out a pistol and swiftly knocked away Van's sword before pointing in the Fanelian's face, "Sorry! You walked blindly into a stupid action of your own free will! You didn't have lives balanced on the damned act-" Misato gasped when her pistol was shot from her hand from a well-placed shot.
"Bet you wish you had that excuse."
"Bit?" Roger asked in surprise when he saw the Zoid's ace in the living room entryway with a miniature pistol in his hand, "Is that a Derringer?"
"Don't worry Smith, I was only shooting to disarm." Bit assured the negotiator before he felt something press against the back of his head, "I thought I heard a click..."
"Can't a girl get ready for an interview..." Maya said to herself, "Without having to deal with a break-in too!"
"Guess we've got a Mexican Standoff then!" Bit called out when Misato managed to pull another pistol out of her bosum, "So how about saying sorry so that we can all get out of this without getting a bullet through ourselves, k?"
"I'm not dropping until you do." Misato stated when Maya pointed another shotgun at Van, "I don't know where any of you start! I take it that you've never had to make hard decisions for the good of the needs of the many-" Misato was interrupted again when the arm of a red gunman crashed into the side of the apartment.
"WHO ARE YOU TO TALK ABOUT THE NEEDS OF THE MANY!" Kamina yelled while standing on top of the gunman's fist, "YOUR ORGANIZATION USES KIDS AS TOOLS FOR THEIR OWN MEANS, SAVING THE WORLD'S JUST A COVER-UP FOR WHATEVER YOU'RE REALLY UP TO! THAT SHIT ABOUT ENDS JUSTIFYING THE MEANS IS THE SAME THING THEY SAID TO MY GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GREAT GRANDPARENTS WHEN THEY WERE THROWN INTO THE MINES!"
"Sorry to hear about that..." Misato replied honestly, "But are you so much better than me when you use a child as the spearhead for your personal vendetta!"
"Hypocrisy..." Misato gulped when she felt a pistol stop just inches from her head, "Best defined as a pot calling the kettle black."
"How did you get here?" Roger asked Heero, still trying to take in everything that had just happened, "How do you all even know where here is?"
"I have trackers on all of the rangers that are homed into each other," Heero explained without looking away from Misato, "I overheard the conversation and then added their channels to the line so they could hear it."
"Where's Simon and Shinji's?"
"Their's was damaged in the fight against Brittle Bullet," Heero went on, "I'm still trying to repair it."
"Uh..." Bit started to sweat when Pen Pen entered the room holding something that no penguin should ever hold, "The penguin is holding a gun..."
"A shotgun to be precise." heero corrected, "And it's trying to decide between me and the Colonel...wait...he settled on me."
"Earth is..." A confused Van noted, "A strange...strange place..."
"Enough! RANGERS! MORPH MIGHT AND UNITE!" Roger called out, surprised when the rangers and Kamina dropped their weapons and faced him, "What the hell are you all doing? I had this situation under control and then you barge in here and cause all of this damage and trauma! Hell! Some of you have criticized Shinji for the same things that the Colonel brought up! Why act like this now?"
"Excuse me?" Kamina asked, "When you said Rangers, morph, might and unite...was that an acknowledgement? I'm just Simon's co-pilot when I am around."
"Kamina..." Roger didn't think that this needed to be explained, but went on and did so, "You're an odd man, but Simon holds you highly as he should. So as far as I'm a concerned, you're a ranger."
"And that's how I feel about Shinji," Kamina added, "That kid's got more strength than he realizes and it pisses me off about how much it's held down from his self-esteem. Mainly because of bitches like her who just use him without any consideration about what they're putting him through!"
"I said things to Shinji that may have been in haste," Van admitted, "Once I learned more about him, I realize that he has courage that would equal any knight of Gaea if not surpass it. In fact, he's one of the few earthlings that I would invite to Fanelia."
"Look...the kid has some issues and really needs therapy," Bit said, "That said, the source of said need really rubs me the wrong way. Hell, I know who I am and how full my closet is when I say this...but any organization that forces children into a harmful service can never be justified."
"And what about the fate of humanity?"
"You know how many organizations claim to work for the salvation of mankind?" Heero asked Misato while still pointing his pistol to her head, "It depends on the group's definition of salvation and you can examine it from their methods. I've been a soldier since my father died at the age of nine and I've lost count of how many organizations drew me into their ranks, persuading me that their actions were for the good of humanity. But you can't dig through a field of mud and expect to find a diamond. Good fruit is not borne from evil trees. After the atrocities that I sat as an accomplice to, the graveyards that I helped overfill; the cities that were left in mourning until no soul was left to cry; and all the countless souls that torment my mind, even now, they from amongst my victims who cry to me from beyond the grave and ask me, "Was your cause worth my death?" And I answer each and every one of them...No."
"Before or after you became a gundam pilot?"
"Thanks for clarifying." Bit said, relieved that their comrade wasn't possibly a terrorist, "What about Shinji?"
"I respect him."
"I also don't appreciate those who knowingly use children as soldiers."
"I appreciate this even less..."
"Deal with it."
"Settle down everyone." Roger said to everyone who'd left this apartment in ruins, "I whole-heartedly agree with everything that you've all said, but reacting with aggression is the last thing that we want to do. I don't think Shinji would appreciate this if he were to find out."
"Oh...I'm certain that he'd be happy if we sought retribution for his mistreatment."
"Retribution?" Misato asked, laughing at the absurdity of the situation, "Have you all forgotten that you're being blackmailed by Kaiba?"
"Oh yeah..." Bit recalled, "I kind of like it here, probably would've ended up here eventually anyway."
"And Kaiba's upfront about being an egotistical asshole," Van stated, "He didn't emotionally blackmail his own child into piloting a mecha that can harm him after abandoning him for eleven years of his life."
"I didn't know that..."
"'With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.' Those words were uttered by chief representative Heero Yuy as both wisdom and warning to his friend Zeon Zum Deikun." Roger said, earning the full attention of Heero, "The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged."
"The moment a child, a child who has barely come of his own is forced to undergo the burden of an adult. Forced into a role that he is not ready for...he is inherently robbed. Robbed not only of his childhood, but of his recognition of choice. A child is to be nurtured by an adult, a parent, a teacher, a mentor, to one day be able to stand on their own. Make their own decisions, prepare their own food, and eventually nurture their own family should they choose to have one."
"Treat that child as nothing more than a weapon, a tool to be disposed, and then make them feel responsible when they rationally refuse. You're telling them that their self-worth is meaningless. That...they should allow others to tell them their course for the rest of their lives. You don't have to even say those words, the message becomes embedded in their mind. That their life is not their's, their mind, their body...not even their heart...all of it belongs to those who control them. For the rest of their lives, they will be commanded and if they do not obey, then no matter how right they might actually be...they are wrong."
"And that is the conflict that Shinji faces. The Angels are a terrible threat, this is true and Shinji is not denying that. But here, he was realized how poisonous his father is. He has seen true parents and how they treat their families; how family's should function; and is starting to understand the meaning of true unconditional, unhindered and unobstructed love! But because of what his father did to him and perhaps his mother shares some part but I wouldn't know...he doesn't believe that he deserves it."
"Just like with...oh God...please...just...leave..." An overwhelmed Misato practically pleaded, "Don't worry about the damage...I'll just say that...a train hit it..."
"Does that mean me too?"
"Don't you have an appointment Maya?"
"One that I won't make on time thanks to all of you!" Maya shouted, accidently hitting Bit in the back of his head with the butt of her shotgun, "Nevermind...I'll just go to the interview."
"You do that and we'll leave." Bit agreed while rubbing the bruise in his head, "You should get maintenance to work on that roof..."
Woodcrest, Illinois, Central American States
"Mr. Freeman, I hope that my tardiness doesn't-" Though tired from the long flights of stairs, Lelouch could tell that something was wrong. The office that he looked into was empty, the floor decorated by half a dozen bodies with neat bullet holes in their heads with the wall littered with even more bullet holes, "Offend?"
"Hello Black Prince," Lelouch cautiously turned towards a mirror in the corner of the office wall, spotting the reflection of a teenage chinese girl who held her bleeding arm, "You are curious as to why I'm huddled under this window, no?"
"Yes...I am..." Lelouch admitted, "Along with how I am not meeting with the Executive of the Freeman's Boondocks."
"Mr. Freeman isn't favorable towards the corporate office," The girl answered, awfully calm despite her surroundings, "He recognizes its value and prominence, but refuses to operate out of one. Something that many of our enemies have not realized."
"As part of his "crew", I have aided Mr. Freeman in many endeavors," The girl stated, "We've killed many people, some of whom had their throats slit by my very hand; Torched many American and Chinese Business, perhaps a Britainian business or two as well; and have even earned the ire of the majority of white, black, yellow, brown, blue, green, tan, and pale people as well despite our goal and the results of our goal."
"Yes...my associate has told me so much about Mr. Freeman."
"Your associate and Mr. Freeman see eye to eye on many things." The girl agreed and motioned her head towards the desk, "Could you dive for that desk and roll the red ball that's under it to me?"
"So that I can take out the sniper in the building across from us." The girl explained, "Mr. Freeman's younger brother owns a monopoly in the Girl Scout's Cookie Trade and the Fundraiser Chocolate Market...both of which are being used to fund operations which your helmeted associate knows much of."
"Curious..." Lelouch peeked his head around the doorway and lightly smirked, "Are you sure that it's just one sniper?"
"There were more...but now there is only one."
"Did they leave?"
"I had more balls here." The girl stated, "And I've already expended all of the slacking interns as bait, the rest are fine and I would not wish to waste their lives."
"Then let me spare you some of your energy," Lelouch offered, "When I roll the ball to you, slide a piece of glass back and then angle it so that I can see anything else on that building through the other shard of glass next to you."
"Very well." Lelouch dived for the desk, the back of his leg narrowly avoided a bullet that fired from the adjacent building. He rolled the ball to the girl and watched while she kicked the ball into the air, followed it with a somersault and delivered a spinning downward kick that sent the ball out the window and towards the building. Just as she landed, a second bullet grazed the side of her torso, "Your suspicion was correct. There is another sniper..."
"Do not worry, grab the shard." Lelouch instructed, still impressed with the girl's skill with such a mundane object. An impression that was further compounded when the girl followed his guidelines, "Angle it a little more and...bull's eye! They call you the Red Ball for a reason Miss. Long-dou-"
"Do not call me that!" The girl shouted before she quickly composed herself, "I am Ming of the Boondocks, you will call me Ming. Understand?"
"My apologies, I didn't mean to offend." Lelouch wasn't surprised that the girl had distanced herself from her grandfather with all things considered, "Now, allow me to finish off the last sniper."
"How will you do that with a glass shard?"
"You'd surprised what you could do with the mundane." Lelouch stated as he waved his hand over his eye and issued his command, "I am Prince Lelouch Vi Britannia and I command you! Obey me!" A purple origami bird flew into the shard, then flew into another one and then soared across the distance into the eye of the remaining sniper.
"He's stopping..." Ming noticed, "What is he saying?"
"He's awaiting my command...please hold the shard there," Lelouch instructed further, "Find your employer and kill him and all others attempting to assassinate Miss Ling, understand?"
"Now he's saluting and departing," Lelouch stood up from behind the desk as Ming did the same, "So your associate taught you his tricks, did he?"
"That's actually one that I taught him." Lelouch knew that Zero's identity wouldn't be in danger within this building, "But tricks and power are meaningless without patience, fluidity, composure, and applied intellect."
"I see." Ming agreed, equally impressed with the Brittanian Prince, "Now then, Prince Lelouch-"
"Just Lelouch would be fine," Lelouch assured the girl while she sat at her desk and called for maintenance, "I wasn't intending to take up your time, but my fiancee and I ran into issues of prejudice at a restaurant that we had reservations for and I wanted to know if you knew of a better one."
"Do you mock me?" Ming asked with a threatening smile, "Is it because I am Chinese?"
"No..." Lelouch answered, "It's because you own the city's businesses and schools..."
"True enough," Ming giggled while Lelouch smiled from his newly affirmed ally, "Here's a brochure."
Command Center Lounge
"I'm not even going to try and explain it." Maya bluntly said when she sat down in front of her blue-haired interviewer, "I'll just say that I had multiple holes punched through my apartment and that's why I'm late."
"I'm sure that it was nothing in your control." The DF official with the EF rank insignia of a Lieutenant Commander, "So you do realize that you're being hired for the exact same job that you had at Nerv right?"
"Mr. Kaiba explained that very well."
"You also know that you'll have to divulge every secret that you ever learned about Nerv."
"Whatever I say won't be anything that you either don't know or haven't figured out for yourselves."
"So why are you here?"
"Because I need to do something...to be part of something." Maya answered and then shook her head, "No...that's not true anymore."
"Could you elaborate?"
"Of course..." Maya agreed, "I'm a technician and a glorified secretary, I'm used to just being given instructions and then caring them out as part of a larger group. I knew that there things happening that I wouldn't understand, but I didn't want to know about them. I trusted my superiors to have our best interest at heart and...to do the right thing for everyone."
"The more I peeked though...the less I trusted those superiors." Maya continued, "My senpai...had designed Nerve Staplers to ensure the efficient performance of future Evas and their pilots. Do you know what a Nerve Stapler is?"
"I've worn one." The officer explained, pointing to a circular scar on both sides of his neck, "And given the nature of the machines Nerv builds and their interface with the pilots...its the same, isn't it?"
"It's worse...I...saw a video about how it would work..." Maya recalled, unsettled by the memory, "They tested it on a pilot stationed in Bethany...part of a disciplinary procedure, I'd call it cold-blooded torture. They gave the girl a gun and ordered her to shoot another girl who would've been a pilot, but was suspected to have been a spy for someone named...Makaov...Mari refused. So senpai...activated the staple that had been surgically placed over the seventh vertabre of Eva Unit 05. Mari screeched so loudly that...I swore that I heard glass break. But she still refused...so senpai activated the staple again...and again...and again...finally, Mari shot the girl...and then...horrified at what she had done...she turned the gun on herself..."
"She killed herself?"
"Senpai activated the staple. Mari was knocked out and placed in restrained confinement until she decided to...behave. Then I realized...even as a technician...I was no better than Senpai. I've read records of the numerous acts done and experiments that took place for the building of the rejected evangelions...the ones before our first prototype was built. I can't even walk into a church without feeling the stain of my apathy...within my very skin."
"How do you believe we'll be different?"
"If you are, I'll leave." Maya stated, almost like she didn't care if she'd get the job, "If what you're doing here doesn't help people...then I'll leave and sell you all down river for free. I may go down with you, but I won't be an accomplice to atrocity anymore..."
"Miss Ibuki, You're hired."
"Honestly, the decision had been made before you even walked through the door." The officer admitted, "I'm just here to make sure that your intentions are pure. That you're not...a spy for Gendo."
"My conscious is too strong." Maya laughed as she took the officer's hand and shook it, "When do I start...Commander..."
"Just Kamille," The officer replied, "Honestly, I'm new-blood just like you. Looking forward to working with you."
"Tha...thank you." Maya said to Kamille and then something hit her, "Hold on...Kamille? As in...Kamille Bidan?"
"Yeah." Kamille said, unsurprised that someone had recognized him, "Kamille Bidan...the Zeta Guardian of AEUG...one of the Knights of the White Unicorn...and currently Lt. Commander in one of the only trustworthy sections of the Federation."
"Is that what people usually remember about you?"
"It is what it is." Kamille shrugged his shoulders, "My life was defined by the wars, how would anyone remember differently?"
"Weren't you a doctor?" Maya asked, "Von Braun? Before the Counterattack Riots?"
"How did you know about that?" Kamille as if something had hit him, he looked through a folder with files that he'd brought to the interview and pulled out a medical document, "Born with Severe Patent Ductus Arteriosus...underwent intensive surgical treatment at the...St. Luna Hospital..."
"August 11th, 1993." Maya finished, "You did help a lot of people so, I don't blame you if you don't remember me."
"Sorry that I didn't at first." Kamille apologized, "You've had a happy life...apart from the circumstances...a healthy life."
"You're the one who gave me that life." Kamille smiled when Maya bowed in respect, "Thanks for that...and for hearing me pour out my woes."
"I've done that for a lot of people, so don't feel like you're an isolated headache."
"Found a playmate for your tea party Kamilla?"
"JUDAU!" Maya just said nothing as Kamille jumped over the couch and started chasing another co-worker, "Keep running! I can sense when you go!"
"Like I sense the female within you?"
"I think that I'll fit in nicely around here." Maya said to herself when she heard the sound of someone being punched through a wall, "At least people are honest with each other..."
Command Center Basement Section DNE
"Nice place we've got here..." Duo Maxwell muttered to himself as he quietly strolled through the halls of an area where he shouldn't be in, "Wonder why security isn't tighter."
"Because I'm all that they need." Duo yawned when Heero stepped out in front of him with a raised pistol, "Turn around and go back to your hotel."
"And leave you to search the mysteries of this city?" Duo asked, "Can't let you do that buddy..."
"How do you know where I can and can't go?"
"Cause it's pretty odd to sneak around in an area where you're allowed to be. Aren't you a Ranger?"
"This coming from the guy who sneaked in here?"
"Yep." Duo answered before his face took on a serious demeanor, "Then just riddle me this, why's there a high energy reading saturated into the ground?"
"You detected it?"
"Since when did you become a Newtype?"
"You don't need to be one to see that somethings wrong with this cozy little city." Duo answered when he stepped past Heero, "Monsters...mythological beasts...dragons...resurrected historic figures...giant robots straight out of a campy kid's show...and nuclear robots that go rogue as soon as they come here despite having been tested against any hacking attempt, AI rogue tendencies or viruses? I'm about as curious as you are."
"Then why stop me?"
"Stop you? I was planning on forcing you to lead me to whatever's causing this energy."
"I always knew you'd be a terrible priest."
"Yeah...it's great the Pope made me an honorary father and all...but it's hard to be legit when no one will even let you give a sermon."
"Or that you wouldn't know how to give one?"
"And they say that you don't have people skills." Duo laughed as Heero put away his pistol, "How's Victoro?"
"Hates my guts, still wishes that I'd died instead of his mother..." Duo reported with a sour cheer, "Otherwise, a chip off the old block."
"Victoro has the same face that I did when I was his age."
"He's nine now right?" Duo asked, earning a simple nod from Heero, "And you were...so this is bad? Too much of a chip off the old block?"
"I'm going home." Heero turned to leave, "Next time, just ask."
"But I love bugging you when you don't expect it." Father Maxwell counted when he saw Heero's nail twitch, an instinct that saved him from being shot through the head by Heero's drawn silencer, "I also like that look on your face...that subtle frustration that you've yet to even nick me...not even with blanks."
"I'm getting closer though..." Heero replied, "I love that look on your face too."
"The..."I just shit my pants look?" Duo nervously chuckled, "You'd think I'd stop being creeped out by you after ten damn years!"
"As far your overall presence...the feeling is neutral."
Ontario, Central American States
"Asuka my dear!" The Red Baroness jumped into the open arms of her sweetheart and gave him a passionate kiss which he gently returned, "I believed you would be more occupied."
"The job was a complete bore, so I took off early." Asuka replied before lightly kissing Kaworu again, though she did not fail to notice the disapproving glare of her escort maid, "What? Didn't I tell you to piss off and go home?"
"I cannot ma'am." The white haired girl replied, "Home is on the other side of the ocean-"
"Still wanna be a smartass? How about I send you back to the Moulin Rouge?" The maid bowed and left the Baroness with her sweetheart, "Thought that would shut you up."
"Hostile, aren't we?"
"Sorry..." Asuka apologized as she allowed herself to be led to a nearby small table, "It's just that I've been working non-stop for the past few months. Just as I was settling in with this freedom, some old man from my father's mother's side dies and I inherited his estate and his title. Then I got sent to Luxembourg and as soon as I was sent to Quebec, someone else croaks over and dies and I took their place as Viscountess."
"Would congratulations be inappropriate then?" Kaworu asked, still smiling, "You don't seem as wayward as when we last spoke."
"I'm not." Asuka stated, "All things considered, I love my new life. I'm actually somebody instead of just a glorified test subject that someone can throw around like a doll. Sure, I have to get my hands dirty a lot, but everything's got a price. Right?"
"Almost everything." Kaworu caressed Asuka's face, lingering on the light scars that remained on it, "Is this patch a result of such a price?"
"Oh this?" Asuka briefly took off the patch on her eye and handed it to Kaworu, "It was a gift from one of Lelouche's "chambermaids". But I can still see through the patch, it's just there to keep accidents from happening."
"Such as Luxembourg's former president colorful suicide after an hour of raving madly about seeing his wife die after a madman dropped a piano on her head?" Asuka shrugged, "Was that supposed to be confidential?"
"No such thing between you and me..." Asuka replied as Kaworu handed Asuka her eyepatch and stood up, "What is it?"
"I must excuse myself." Kaworu held up his phone to both cover and communicate his purpose, "I shall return shortly."
"Alright." Asuka replied sweetly, Kaworu briefly recalled the few but sweet days and nights that he had spent with the red haired baroness before closing his eyes and placing the phone to his ear.
A feeling that remained even as he opened his eyes and found himself on the moon. Before him, a large humanoid in insectoid armor hovered above, a projection of they who lied on the reaches of galaxies.
"Adam, why do you delay?"
"The delay is not mine." Tabris answered, "The Jailer's reach has shortened of late."
"Because Ikari failed?" The entity inquired, unsatisfied with it's ally's words, "Twice you have led them to orchestrate the end of this human era and twice they have failed. Even their star-ward war has failed to stop them. Why do you persist in believing that they will cause their own destruction? Why do you not end them yourselves?"
"You would risk the nemesis of the growing void?"
"All that comes, comes regardless of our schemes."
"Messenger, the illusion of free will change nothing." The entity stated, it's eyes gleamed with the light of infinite knowledge, "The Jailer's failings have allowed the humans to spread further than they should. Their species has gain the attention of he who is infinitely their greater. He has watched from afar, content with the consumption of doomed worlds and galaxies. Should he be compelled to come, then you Tabris will surrender your vessel and become one with us."
"You speak as though you have power over me." Tabris said in humor and challenge to the entity. The brown haired humanoid narrowed it's eyes though it knew the truth of it's stance, "Do not fear. My curiosity only extends towards their-"
"Do not insult us." The entity warned, causing Kaworu to smile, "Why do you smile?"
"You really are afraid of them, aren't you?" Tabris asked, "After all, they destroyed your kind before they even grasped the cusp of their potential. They found the forge and when it was taken from them, they defeated those who usurped them. And even impelled as they are, they've still managed to find cracks in their cage. If we deny them the keys of ascension for too long, then they will take them. And you will be among the first that they will crush, Leviathan."
"You speak as though you see them as your equal."
"No, they aren't..." Tabris admitted, "But I believe that they deserve a chance to...impress me. Ikari's failures came not from an oversight on his part, but from the spirit and defiance of the human animal. Surely that is worth a healthy bit of curiosity?"
"Beware that you do not lose sight, the fate of the Forgers disproves your assertions." Satisfied, the entity began to fade from view while Tabris closed his eyes, "Satiate your curiosity, but should you fail...we will be waiting."
"Who was that?" Asuka asked, her face dangerously close to Kaworu's face when he opened his eyes, "Kaworu?"
"An annoyance." The boy answered as he put away the phone, "Ironic how they who boast most often are those who have the least authority over their fate...unable to see the simplest means for their absolution."
"So you just hung up on your boss?"
"Only someone who believes they are." Kaworu laughed, "But enough about them, shall we attend this concert that you spoke of?"
"About that...they cancelled."
"Oh...why? I was looking forward to hearing the Ode to Joy."
"Something about getting attacked by a giant robot with rocket powered fists." Asuka explained lightly, "But who cares, I've gotta be out of here in the morning anyway."
"Pity...you must return to your duties in Quebec?"
"No, I'm being sent over someone named Kabuto." Asuka answered, "Should be a cakewalk though, just like every other mission that Lelou gives me."
"I am certain that they all have meaning and purpose. He thinks highly of you."
"Not as highly as you do."
"From a certain point of view...that is true." Kaworu dared not think of the point of view that he subscribed to, but he felt that it would ruin the afternoon. Like his sweetheart, he too wished to take away a brief moment of solace.
There would be few more in the days to come...
So...here we have another "largely" non-action chapter with build-up for future ACTION-CRAMPED AWESOMENESS!
Some will probably notice that the two main heroes aren't in this chapter, this was intentional. Kind of like a day in the limelight for other characters, by the time I'd written the other scenes, I felt like attempting to shoehorn them in would just be padding.
But some will say, isn't this whole chapter padding?
No...no it's not...
Kind of have a headache right now, so I'll keep this Author's notes brief. Seg-way chapters are kind of hard to write...at least for me.
In the meantime, Read, Review and Enjoy.