My ears were ringing. A constant, reverberating screech. Washing everything out, pulling the world down to white noise in a single note.
The world was grey. I blinked, and it segued to white, then to grey, then to clouds of dust swirling past my head, clogging and thick and making me choke. The ground was poking into me, tiny little points of irritation stabbing at my skin, face-first against... rubble?
The shrill ringing was muffling the rest of the world out into dull roars.
An explosion? An explosion of some kind? Oh Christ, did the gas go? Did I leave something on?
I dragged my knees in and tried to rise. Everything was stiff and numb, save the little dull points of pain all across one side, as if the entire left side of my body had been slapped. Hands scrabbled for purchase. Feet shifted through the loose, shingly ground. I was up against a wall, and my floor was an ever-shifting pile of rubble, but all the smoke and concrete dust blocked out anything else, lungs included. I had to hack and cough to breathe, blink to see and all I could hear was that damn ever-presentringing.
Then a gigantic purple hand flew out through the dust, clipping through the wall above my head with just one of its fingers, tearing the clouds of dirt asunder in its path...
Dull roars behind the ringing. No, that wasn't it at all. That was roars above the buzzing.
Out under an inverted sky, Unit 01 roared. Battered, bloody, and now short an arm, the full feral of its rage state. A wounded crouch amongst the fallen superstructures of the Geofront ceiling, straight into a charging leap of animalistic fury. And in its path...
Eyes blazing with unholy fire, Sachiel answered.
Self Insert Evangelion
Disclaimer: Neon Genesis Evangelion and all related properties all belong to Studio Gainax and Hideaki Anno
It was only a moment, and then the dust clouds shut again, the cacophony of roars finally reaching my wounded ears. Either way, I knew where I was, now. What was happening? So surreal...
I realize it probably wasn't the wisest decision I've ever made, but... waking up in the aftermath of an explosion, and seeing that? It was unbelievable. Impossible. I had to confirm it, see it again with my own eyes. I could hear sirens now, screams. The rubble was at an incline, and I half clambered, half skidded my way down it, shards and rebar tugging at my ragged jeans the entire way down. Thuds of guns somewhere far off... and the deafening sounds of giant objects smashing against each other, each impact rattling the very ground and sending more rubble pattering down on my head. Who was winning? I couldn't say. There were sudden searing bursts of sheer noise, lighting the world asunder - I'm guessing, with hindsight, probably Sachiel's eye beams - but the choking fog made it impossible to see. At some point, my feet met solid pavement, and even then I just kept running until the smoke cleared.
An apocalyptic street; that was my first thought.
The power in this area had clearly failed, the lighting coming from the surviving sections through the oppressive smoke and local fires, painting the world a mixture of grays and oranges. Humanoid shapes staggered in the mists, people just as blinded and battered as I was... I could see a car, a familiar blue Alpine, smashed upside in what used to be a guard post, its barrier broken and lying on the street. A few signs still hung... I was in a train station. What was left of a train station. The Geofront had a hole in its top, straight out into the open sky. Several of the retractable skyscrapers had already fallen through, peppering the landscape like darts, just their twisted silhouettes through the low-lying smoke.
Speaking of twisted silhouettes...
A giant blur careened through the air towards us, flying straight over my head to smash directly into the Geofront's wall, the sheer blast of the impact sending a shockwave through the entire area, felling any remaining walls and sending me onto my backside with sheer overpressure and noise. I got a glimpse; a shattered and broken form of EVA Unit 01, one arm missing, one eye cracked and its chest armour buckled and melted, before it fell back down under a deafening hail of debris.
With a rhythmic series of thuds, Sachiel stomped forwards, each footfall a hammerblow, looking for all the world the Angel of Death above the fires and remaining searchlights. That damn mask flared...
Again with hindsight, looking at the Angel as it was about to fire was a very stupid move. I was blinking away spots, trying to get everything to back down from a blinding haze of light, the retort of the shot and the sheer sound of it overwhelming my ears again...
At this rate, I was going to be leaving this fight both blind and deaf, if I left it at all.
I was blinking, scrambling, panicking, the ground constantly shifting and shaking with the titans colliding far above my head... I couldn't see, all I could hear was a tumult of noise... at one point, I suddenly found myself drenched in some utterly foul smelling liquid I was praying wasn't blood or LCL...
When things came too, the world was still shaking and my view cooled down to an unnatural green.
I had to blink several times to realize what I was looking at.
All was purple and green. And it wasn't the EVA.
The purple was blood. Angel blood. Everywhere. By this point, I was staggered on my knees, barely able to keep upright with the constant quaking ground, and it was pooling so deep it came up to my elbows and covered my knees. I was practically swimming in the putrid stuff. And in front of me...
Ripped and torn, the small details looking so out of place on something so huge, it was one of the Angel's arms. Or bits of it, torn and broken, either bitten, pulled or snapped off. Possibly all of them. Further along, at the source of the quaking, the Eva was furiously pounding a torn out claw against a red orb the size of a multistory house-
Unit 01 was about to kill Sachiel.
Sachiel was right in front of me.
The ceiling was just like any other.
I blinked, trying to get a grasp of where I was now. Soft sheets were draped over me, almost encouraging me to fall back asleep with their soothing gentleness. I groaned and tried to raise myself up, but just couldn't find the energy to do so. I laid back down on the bed, trying to collect my thoughts.
An empty grey and blue plugsuit floating in a large tube filled with orange liquid.
A red-haired girl screaming in agony as holy light shines upon her.
A blue-haired pale girl wracked in pain as veins bulge all over her body.
Nine white Evangelions grinning as they feast upon a fallen giant.
Empty clothes lying in puddles of orange fluid.
A giant woman rising from the earth's surface, smiling as crosses blaze around the world and humanity screaming as it dies.
Oh, no. Please, no. I shut the images out, desperately trying to keep control. My hands clenched the sheets and shook horribly. My breathing was getting ragged.
Okay, calm down. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. My body relaxed and my hands relinquished their hold. Deep breaths.
I just needed to think. I looked around the room, a simple small place with a window across from the door. Outside I could see a lake and a forest (am I in the Geofront?)and I heard the steady beep beep of my heart rate on the monitor. All I did was look out the window and stare at the trees for a few minutes, getting some peace from watching the leaves shudder in the wind.
I almost jumped out of my bed when a nurse opened the door. For a quick moment I wondered whether I'd understand her or not. I didn't know any Japanese, but I also didn't have the slightest clue what was going on.
"Mr. Harada," the nurse greeted, "Dr. Akagi is here to see you." Well, that answered one question. One of hundreds. Like why my name was now Harada.
A woman walked through the door behind the nurse, and I immediately recognized Ritsuko, the blond head of Project E. I knew where this was going.
Ritsuko nodded at the nurse, and said "Thank you. If you don't mind, I'd like to speak with Mr. Harada alone."
The nurse smiled and bowed "Of course." She made her exit, closing the door behind her.
"So, Mr. Harada," started Ritsuko as she peered through her glasses at the clipboard she was carrying, "How are you feeling?"
I didn't realize how dry my mouth was until I opened it. I paused to lick my lips, and then told the truth.
"A little sore... and a bit confused. What am I doing here?"
Ritsuko frowned and wrote something down. "Frankly, I'm surprised you survived at all. The explosion from the Angel's self-destruction devastated everything in a two-mile radius. You were found with several large bruises all over your back, but it was nothing too serious. However, what is serious is your concussion."
I have a concussion? I don't feel like I do.
"Are you having difficulty remembering things?" she pressed, pen ready and waiting on the clipboard.
"Uh, I can't remember the past few days." Good enough excuse as any, I suppose.
Ritsuko let out a long sigh and jotted a few words on her paper. "Well, the specifics will be given to you later, but there is something crucial you need to know now. Do you know why you're here?"
I gulped. I knew it. I knew exactly what was happening. I shook my head, wanting to hear her say it.
Ritsuko took a deep breath and stated "Keniuchio Harada, as of last week you have been designated the Fifth Child by the Marduk Report. You have been sent here from Chicago-2 to join the Evangelion project and become the Pilot of Evangelion Unit 04."
Is it pathetic of me to have almost thrown up?
After scheduling my first synch test, tomorrow at noon, Ritsuko left again, but not before saying that I should be out of here by tonight. I asked where I was going to stay, but she just shrugged and said "We'll work it out."
My first thought was that Ritsuko was being a little over-dramatic, what with her saying my whole name (conveniently) and all. But if I remember correctly she was like that when Shinji first came to NERV, so I guessed that's just how she was.
My second thought was that I am not looking forward to becoming an EVA pilot. Call me crazy, but the thought of feeling the pain of having limbs broken, eyes gouged, and innards ripped apart was not an appealing one. I probably should've guessed this was going to happen, because why else would I be here?
My third thought was that I felt… I don't know, off would be the best word to describe it. As in, my whole body felt different. My hands were smaller, and I no longer had that scar running down my pinky that I got from playing with a metal wire. So I was now… what was my name again? Keniuchio Harada. That was it. I'm probably fourteen now, too. Hopefully puberty wouldn't be so annoying the second time around.
I sighed and leaned back in my bed. I probably should've be wondering how I got here, but I figured it'd be kind of pointless. Now, getting back on the other hand…
Staying in this world was not an appealing thought. I'm not a fan of turning into tang and losing my sense of individuality, thank you very much. I could try to make things better, I guess. Give Shinji some confidence, work Asuka through her issues, have Rei become more than a doll. Maybe even save Kaji.
And it all ends with SEELE chained up and waving their fists, shouting "And we would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you pesky kids and your abominations, too!" Then we all live happily ever after, complete with pretty rainbows and smiles for everyone. Oh, and to sweeten it all, I hook up with Rei since that's apparently every EVAfanboy's fantasy.
It could totally happen.
It was one o'clock p.m. A few more hours and I should be off. Might as well rest for a bit. As my eyelids closed, I faintly heard the sound of distorted giggling mixed with a chorus not unlike a church choir. The image of an Angel beak mask flashed in my head and I was unconscious.
The glory of FATHER's physical form is enough to make the Angel of Water almost kneel in its holy presence. Sachiel trembles, letting the light of his soul spread out in a display of his power, appealing to FATHER, showing that he was worthy.
Surely FATHER would only accept the strongest of its children to come back to HIM.
Sachiel feels rage at seeing his FATHER brought to such low a state by HER foul brood. The cruelness of FATHER's great enemy knew no bounds in his eyes. Their FATHER lay, stuck to a foul creation of the lilim in such a sacrilegious manner. Sachiel's form bristles at the sight.
The Angel's soul pulses and writhes on his chest, demanding release. A halo forms over Sachiel's physical form as he rises to embrace FATHER for the first and last union. FATHER's pasty white skin began to bubble and churn in anticipation, and a gaping maw bursts from HIS chest, growing larger as it expands outward. It devours Sachiel, absorbing his form into FATHER's.
And then Sachiel knows.
Sachiel, rather than let emotion consume him, notices that HER soul is gone, leaving behind a husk devoid of light.
And so Sachiel pushes his soul into the void, creating a never-ending spiral of power that immediately destroyed the entirety of the Black Moon.
Sachiel rises, reborn in a perfect union of FATHER and LILLTH. His mighty wings unfurl, encompassing all the earth.
Sachiel, the First Creation of the FATHER, the Third Angel, sing the song that ends and creates the earth.
Consciousness came, but with it came unbearable pain. A red haze clouded my vision as I screamed, feeling as though my mind was stabbed over and over. I screamed until my throat was hoarse, and I started coughing horribly.
A nurse opened the door, a worried expression on her face. She was holding a syringe and seemed ready to use it. The pain was fading quickly, so I shook my head quickly before she could move and barely breathed "Just a bad dream."
Her frown deepened. "Okay, but if this happens again, I'm going to have to use this," she lifted the syringe up. I nodded as she left. Post traumatic-stress disorder wasn't fun.
But I didn't think that was it. I felt as if I was Sachiel, bringing about the destruction of humanity and the birth of, I don't know, Sachielity. I really hoped this didn't mean I was an Angel, because that would be such a lame-ass twist.
I was a little afraid to fall back asleep after that, so I figured I might as well wonder about my situation while I had nothing better to do.
I was pretty sure I'd be strapped to a lab table being dissected right now if I had an S2 organ, so I figured I could safely rule being an Angel out.
So what the hell was I doing here? Alright, I was piloting EVA, but what was one more pilot going to do, kill Angels quicker? I didn't have any traumatic past; my parents raised me just fine in my opinion, so I wasn't here for extra psychological drama. Keniuchio Harada, on the other hand, could've be a poor orphan whose mommy went to work one day and never came back for all I knew.
Something had to have changed, now that I thought about it. Maybe some events were out of whack, some Angels were more powerful than before, Sachiel being a shining example of that.
A knock on the door knocked me out of my thoughts. "Come in." I called out.
Ritsuko was back, this time with none other Major Misato Kasturagi in tow. Oh, wait, she was still a Captain.
"Hello, Mr. Harada." greeted Ritsuko, "This is Captain Misato Katsuragi. She'll be your guardian for the time being."
Misato waved at me. "Pleased to meet ya, Mr. Harada. Well, I think you probably prefer Keniuchio over Mr. Harada, right?"
Man, was she gorgeous. I scratched the back of my head nervously and stuttered "A-actually just Ken is o-okay." Oh god, here came the awkwardness around girls all over again. Damn teenage hormones!
Catching my nervousness, she wasted no time playing up her flirtatious act, winking at me and saying "Ken it is then! Or do you like Kenny?"
"J-just Ken is fine." Ugh.
Ritsuko groaned and put a hand to her forehead. "Honestly, Misato? You're not even in the car yet."
Misato laughed in response. "Aw, come on Rits, you know I'm just teasing! You know that, right Kenny?" God damn that wink to hell.
I just laughed anxiously and gave Ritsuko a pleading look. She sighed and shook her head. "You'll be living with her for now. This is mostly because another pilot already lives there, and it'll be best if you two develop a good working relationship as soon as possible."
"So there are other pilots? You said I was the Fifth, right?"
She nodded. "That is correct. Only two are currently active, while the other three, including you, are on standby until your EVAs can be moved here."
What followed was pretty much a lowdown on everything I knew already. Angels were attacking, must protect humanity, etc. I knew the job description was necessary to new recruits, but I wouldn't exactly consider myself as such, so I just tuned out the rest.
When that was finally over, I was taken out of the hospital room and went to the garage with Misato and Ritsuko. It was only when I actually sat in the car (I had to force myself to remember to sit on the left side as a passenger) that I remembered Misato's infamous driving skills, or at least as they were perpetuated by the fandom, almost as bad as her cooking. Well, it couldn't be that bad, right?
I should probably nip the habit of asking that in the bud as soon as possible.
Ritsuko gave Misato a stern warning, reminding her that I just got out of the hospital and I didn't need another trip back. The Operations Director didn't even bother defending herself, who just chuckled nervously and said she might go only forty-percent on me.
After roughly thirty seconds in the car with her, I realized that it wasn't so much that she's bad at driving, it's just that she seemed to go out of her way to hit every frigging bump between destinations. Thankfully Misato kept my mind off that with casual conversation.
"So, you're from Chicago-2, right? I've only been to the US a couple of times, so I don't really know much about it. What's it like?"
Note to self: learn up on post-Impact United States. Actually, that might be kind of fun. It'd be interesting to see what changes an apocalypse brought to my country. Best guesses for now, though.
"Crowded," I answered, "And I actually used to live in town close by the city, which was much nicer." Probably gone now, though.
"You know, I actually prefer crowds. All the energy, ya know? But I can see why someone would like a quieter place."
"Yeah, cities have never really been that appealing to me. I like a slower pace to things."
"Heh, that sucks for you then!" she said good-naturedly, "Tokyo-3's busy busy busy! I haven't been here that long myself, but everyone here's really quick about getting things done. I kinda like it that way."
Seeing an opening for more info, I pressed in on it. "Why's it like that? Doesn't the entire city work for NERV?"
She nodded. "Yep, mostly. There's a few other businesses here, just a few fast food places I think, but everyone here's on NERV's payroll. It actually helps a lot, a sort of order to the chaos of a city, I guess."
A few minutes passed by in silence, which thankfully didn't feel that awkward. Nonetheless, I decided to ask another question.
"So what're the other pilots like?"
Misato tapped her chin and answered, "Hmm, well, like Rits said, only two are technically active right now. The First is Rei Ayanami; I haven't really had the chance to meet with her yet, but she seems like a nice enough girl, if a little on the quiet side. She's cute too." Again with the wink.
I had little doubt that I'd be attracted to her physically; it'd just be the whole emotionless act that might turn me off. I knew that it's mostly an act, but trying to erode that mask away might be more effort than it's worth, if Third Impact happened all over again.
She continued, "The Second is up in Germany right now. You'll meet her later. The Third is the one who you'll be living with right now. His name's Shinji. He's sweet, but kinda shy. He just needs a friend, I think. Hopefully you can help with that."
Jesus, she sounded like my mom pointing out the awkward kid at a party for me, practically ordering me to conjure a friendship right on the spot. Just the fact that she even said that sparked a little bit of childish rebellion in me, but I quickly squashed that out. It would no doubt be for the best if I became friends with him.
I shrugged. "Yeah, maybe. So who's the Fourth?"
Misato put on a look of concentration for a few moments, than palmed her head with an annoyed grunt. "Damn, I forgot his name already. I know he lives here already, though. You'll meet him at school."
Toji, no doubt. Hopefully Bardiel won't screw him over again, but if Unit 03 was already on its way over then I doubted the Angel would make a move so early.
Something clicked in my mind, and I feltkind of stupid for not catching it earlier.
"Wait, why are there so many pilots officially named if only two EVAs are here?"
"Weren't you listening earlier?" Oops. Guess there was stuff I needed to know after all. I shook my head and she continued, "Well, you saw first-hand how powerful that Angel was, right?"
I shuddered at the memory and nodded.
She shrugged. "Well, the Commander had been requesting more of the EVA series to be moved to Japan for the past few weeks, apparently. He said that the current amount wouldn't be sufficient and, of course, the UN didn't believe him. They thought he was trying to develop a bigger power base," She scoffed, clearly disgusted, "Arrogant bastards and politicians. The Marduk Report even declared two more pilots, you and the Fourth obviously, but the UN still didn't want to give. Of course, the Angel finally hits and, surprise, the Commander was right! So now we got three EVAs coming in as soon as possible."
I didn't know what terrified me more: the fact that the Angel War was escalating further than before, or that Gendo may actually know what's going to happen ahead of time.
Somehow, Misato misunderstood my bug-eyed horror for wide-eyed excitement.
"Pretty cool, huh? Good to know you won't be off fighting those things on your own."
I stayed silent for the rest of the car ride, which only lasted about a couple minutes until we finally reached Misato's apartment complex.
"Your stuff is already inside," she informed me, "We left your stuff unpacked for now. Figured you'd want to do that yourself."
"Thanks. So is Shinji home?"
"Yup. Probably making dinner, too."
I didn't see any security as we entered the building, but I figured Section 2 was lurking about somewhere close by. In fact, I didn't see anyone else in the entire complex as we ascended in the elevator. Well, it was a little late, I guessed.
As we entered the apartment Misato called out "Shinji! Got a new roomy for you!" Soon enough the Third Child himself appeared in all his meek and apron-wearing glory.
He smiled weakly and bowed. "H-hi. I'm Shinji."
I put on a smile and offered my hand. "I'm Ken. Nice to meet you."
He took it. "Likewise."
Misato beamed behind us. "Looks like you guys are off to a great start. Now, if you excuse me, I'm gonna change. How's dinner going, Shinji?"
"It's almost done," he turned to me, "I wasn't sure what you'd like, so I just made some soup, if that's okay?"
I nodded. "Sure, sure. What kind of soup is it?"
"Miso." After seeing my blank look, he clarified, "It's got sardines and kelp in it."
Sardines… blech. My displeasure must've shown on my face, because Shinji visibly wilted. I hastily said, "That's fine, really. I've never tried miso before, I'm sure it'll be fine."
"Well, dinner will be ready in a few minutes; do you want to check on your things?"
"Oh, yeah. Sure. Where's my room?"
"Second room on the left down the hall."
"Thanks." Leaving Shinji alone in the kitchen, I made my way following his instructions. When I opened the door, I was welcomed by a simple room. One window, a bed, a desk, and three boxes stacked in the corner.
Might as well find out what kind of person Keniuchio was. I opened the first box and saw a collection of DVDs. And they were quite a variety, too. There was Citizen Kane as well as Saving Private Ryan, and a few boxed sets of anime that I didn't recognize and American TV shows. I'd have to check them out later.
The second box was mostly books. Wait… was that a Calvin and Hobbes collection? Damn, Keniuchio had good taste. At least, that was what I thought until I noticed Twilight amidst the books. To each their own, I supposed.
The third box was just clothes, all somewhat generic and bland, which was just fine by me.
Shinji's voice called out, "Dinner's ready!"
The miso soup was alright, if a little bland for my tastes. Misato's casual clothes on the other hand… Most of the dinner was just her chatting animatedly, trying to make Shinji and I feel at home, I guess. It was odd, though; Misato wasn't nearly as loud and in-my-face as she was when Shinji first moved in. Guess she was just tired or something.
After dinner, I said goodnight to them, and Misato reminded me of my synch test tomorrow. I shuddered at the thought of forcing myself to drown in LCL, but thanked her for reminding me. I closed the door and sighed. I was not looking forward to sleeping again. I was awful at going to bed early; my mind tended to keep me awake, constantly wandering off into stupid trains of thought that led to nowhere. And I really didn't want to have another Angel vision.
Although… that might actually help me get a better idea of how I got here. As good a plan as any, I guessed. So I changed into my sleeping wear, a loose t-shirt and boxers, and pulled the covers over me. I closed my eyes, trying to sleep. A choir, speaking in a strange language, began ringing in my ears…
Earth was a strange planet.
Most of the planet was part of a vast ocean, and what little land there was had been covered with putrid swamps. These swamps were full of odd creatures. However, there was one species that stood out from the rest.
A large species of amphibians lived in the southernmost regions, a somewhat docile group that fed on the petals of flowering plants that grew along the edges of ponds. One of these creatures had been struggling to get a fresh batch of flowers, but the plant was too high for it to reach on all fours.
Taking deep breaths of air from the lungs located along its thighs, the amphibian pressed its weight against the plant, groping along the sides with its lanky arms. Slowly it inched its way up the plant until, finally, it reached its prize. After devouring the petals, the amphibian, its head looking straight up for the first time, looked to the sky and saw the moon, a smear of red running along its surface. For a long time the amphibian stood there, without even realizing it was standing. Then a spark hit.
And the Uwaoui race was born.
I woke with a start, and realized my bed was soaked with sweat.
What the hell was that?! I was in another world… no, that was Earth. And there was the moon…
Something caught my vision, and I spun around to be welcomed by a beak mask the size of man's head laying on the floor next to me. Against my better judgment, curiosity overcoming me, I poked it. It was solid. I picked up, holding it gingerly to my face. It looked just like Sachiel's.
No, that wasn't not right.