Tales of Evangelion
Chapter Seven: Concerning Dragons
It was actually a rare, peaceful day in Tokyo-3. No Angels were busy destroying the city for no discernable reason. No Evas were busy destroying the city for no discernable reason. Only three buildings had been taken down by Sarge since dawn. Seele was not in session (and therefore not almost accidentally revealing their existence) and the Committee for Human Instrumentality was up to their eyeballs (Brute's eyeballs) in paperwork for all the wanton destruction. The United Nations was enjoying being a superpower.
Yep everything was…boring.
So anyway out in the city a small rift in the fabric of reality occurred. A rift so small that hardly anyone noticed. Well, except that one guy who happened to be too close to the rift as it opened. He got pulled in and was never heard from again. But with Angels, Evangelions, and Sarge, one person missing wasn't going to show up on anyone's radar. In any case, when the rift closed, it left behind a mask. It was just sitting there, waiting to be picked up and put on. Just waiting…waiting…waiting…until finally some schmo walked by and picked up the mask. Now, see, I wasn't there when this happened, so I can't relay exactly what he said at the time, but I guess it went something like this.
"Oh holy shit a free mask! I should pick this up and put it on before someone else does! Lolololololol I'm such a dumbass!"
I don't know; I'm not a doctor.
Whatever he said, the idiot put the mask on. Maybe it promised him candy that it had in the van around the corner. As soon as the unholy metal touched his face, he was possessed by an evil force. The power flowed all around him, clothing him in armor from head to foot, and draping over that armor a red cape. Because capes are cool.
The figure got unsteadily to its feet and stretched. Thousands of years of imprisonment will do that to a fellow. Beneath the mask, he smiled.
"For your entertainment, Jack... is...BACK." He summoned the Sword of Aeons and gave it a few test swings. "Jolly good."
Did I say evil? I meant badass.
Jack of Blades gave the city a cursory once-over. "Curious. This doesn't seem to be Albion, but then the Void does connect to an infinite number of parallel dimensions, so I suppose I should be grateful that I ended up in a habitable universe, eh?" After all, there was no reason that he couldn't create a cult that worshipped him in this universe, right? Damn straight!
"Now, let's see, my mind is a bit muddled from interdimensional travel and possessing an inferior mortal, so I can't quite remember what I wanted to do. Luckily, I wrote down the steps to world domination." He shook his head. "And just who the devil am I talking to?"
His notes took the form of a clipboard with elegant, flowing script on the front piece of paper.
"Step 1: Summon a dragon." He blinked. "That's step one? Really? Well, alright. The clipboard says so."
He took the Sword of Aeons in hand and jammed it into the space between dimensions, opening a portal to a universe where dragons existed.
It was a rainy day in the Artisan Realm, and a young, purple dragon was busy chasing sheep around. You know, because dragons eat sheep. "Is this rain ever going to stop?" he asked his dragonfly companion. "I've forgotten what the sun looks like. We should go on vacation: somewhere warm, somewhere sunny."
He spied a portal just over the hill.
"Dragon Shores! Yeah, I haven't been there since we kicked Gnasty Gnorc's butt. How 'bout it, Sparx, you up for a vacation?"
The dragonfly zoomed off, as if saying "Of course, you dumbass."
"Last one there's a Gnorc!" And the two companions dived headfirst into the portal.
Jack hmphed as the tiny purple form tumbled out of his dimensional rift.
"Hi! Which way to the…beach?"
Jack stared. Hard.
"What? You've never seen a dragon before?"
"Oh, I've seen dragons," Jack replied. "Huge, ferocious creatures, with wingspans that block out the sky, claws the can rend mountains, and fire that makes the sun seem less than an oil-lamp by comparison. I have ridden such ferocious beings and conquered entire civilizations – and then slaughtered them at my leisure. You, my pint-sized reptile, are no dragon."
"Am so! Sparx and I defeated Gnasty Gnorc and his army and freed all of the adult dragons from imprisonment."
Jack massaged his temples. "Ok. Let's assume you are a dragon. Can you breathe fire?"
"Duh." He inhaled deeply (already a red flag in Jack's mind; dragons shouldn't need to do that) and expelled a cone of fire about three feet in front of him.
"That was awful. I can make better fire with magic. In my sleep." He sighed. "Can you fly?"
"Well, I can glide."
"If I get a running start, I can glide."
Jack facepalmed. The dimensional rift sealed up with a belching sound. "I hate this, but I guess you'll have to do." Reluctantly, he crossed Step 1 off of the list. There weren't any more steps after that one. His plans began and ended at dragons. Because dragons are fucking awesome. Except this one. This one was sickeningly adorable.
"Delightful. Follow me, would you?" They started off in a random direction. "Tell me, tiny flying reptile, what do they call you?"
"Spyro. And the dragonfly is Sparx."
"Lovely. I'll call you whatever I bloody well please. I am Jack of Blades. You may call me Jack."
"Uh huh. So, Jack, why did you bring me here?"
Jack uttered something between a sigh and a growl. "I didn't summon you, but if you must know, I need your help to conquer the world."
"Finally, someone recognizes my talents," Spyro exclaimed.
"You haven't listened to a word I said, have you?"
"You're damn right I am! Let's do this."
"At least you have the correct mindset. Maybe I won't disembowel you and divine the future from your entrails whilst simultaneously bathing in your blood. At least not for a while."
Meanwhile in the world of Avalar…
Ripto conquered everything. The end.
That's when Nerv's alarms started going off. Entire walls filled up with ALERT hexagons. Big, flashing, three-dimensional ALERT hexagons. Like the kind that takes years to develop to get the graphics to look just right. The kind that sucks away the entire rest of the budget so that nothing else in the damn facility works properly. Ever. You know the kind.
Then I leaned forward and stared deeply into your eyes – into your very soul – and for that brief instant, we connected on a level that cannot be put into words. It was sort of like sex, but telepathic. And weird. Actually I guess it can be put into words. Then I broke the contact before it got any worse. Moments later, you realize you now truly understand the meaning of "mind fuck". And you wish you could return to time before that, to when your consciousness was still unsullied. Unfortunately for you, no such time exists anymore. For I now exist in your past, present, and future. No place you go is safe. I will always be with you. Remember that time you saw a hobo? That was me. It was always me. It will always be me.
Yuan sighed under the blinding red light of hundreds of budget-draining ALERT signs. It was going to be one of those days – by which he meant EVERY DAY HE WORKED AT NERV. Sometimes he had dreams of a time before Nerv. Or even after. They always seemed like a decent JRPG. Only he was a villain…he thought. Sometimes. It was hard to tell.
"What should be doing about this, sir?" He groaned inwardly, despairing over what Kratos might say.
He almost didn't look when he heard the crashes, but habit (and, though he was loathe to admit it, a bit of morbid curiosity) forced him to turn. Kratos has thrown everything off his desk – except his name plate, which appeared to be bolted to the desk now (Yuan dreaded the next time he decided to add a title to his name). Evidently, Kratos had carved what appeared to be a pie chart of different methods to deal with a situation. Using his sword as a pointer, the Supreme Commander of Nerv spun the Wheel of Fate.
Yuan didn't get a good look, but he was certain one of the options was "Murder the innocent".
No. Couldn't have been
Luckly, the sword didn't land on that one. Instead it came to an excruciatingly slow stop on "Do nothing" after narrowly avoiding "Just give up". Kratos shrugged and sat back in his chair, propped his feet up – and fell asleep.
All the alarms fell silent and everyone returned to their work uneasily. Yuan proceeded to beat his head against the wall.
Jack of Blades let out a long, tired sigh. This dragon was turning out to be a handful. And not for the usually reasons a dragon might be a handful. Except for the haphazard expulsion of feces – that was the same. He was like a goddamn monkey except that he couldn't throw it. I mean seriously. Dig a trench or something. Goddamn.
His latest migraine was caused when Spyro had attempted to show off his headbutt. Needless to say, the birdbath remained as still as, well, a marble birdbath.
"Enough," Jack declared, noticing the dragonfly, Sparx, had changed from yellow to blue. Odd. "Walk with me, young reptilian creature."
"What's up, Jackie?"
"Never call me that. Look. Things just aren't working out between us."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you can't fly, you can't breathe fire, you apparently have no real strength in your bones, and quite frankly you're adorable. Dragons are never supposed to be adorable. They need to be massive and ferocious, capable of razing an entire kingdom to ash in one day."
"How big a kingdom? Like England, or France, you know."
"Hm. Well, France is a Republic now, so we can't use that. England – well that sank. I'd say an area about the size of New Jersey."
Spyro considered this. "Should I burn New Jersey?"
Jack chuckled. "Oh no, they have enough problems. Sending them a dragon would be insulting. Rude, even. I might a manipulative evil manifestation of evil spawned from the darkest depth of the Void – but I have manners you know."
"Sooo…" Spyro said slowly. "What're we gonna do?"
Jack stopped, facing away from the tiny purple dragon. "I'm afraid the only course of action is for me to rend your head from your neck, dismember your remaining limbs, slice open your belly from neck to groin, eviscerate you – that is to say, spill your entrails upon the pavement – then devour your soul and steal your wallet." He spun around, the Sword of Aeons poised like an executioner's axe. "Nothing personal. Any last words?"
But Spyro never got the chance, for at that moment, a modified blue 1981 Alpine Renault A310 slammed into the poor dragon and carried him several hundred feet before the driver hit the brakes, which sent him crashing back onto the pavement.
Jack stared. "Or you could get mangled by a drunken ninja woman's car. I'll have you know my way was less painful!" And he vanished.
The door was flung open and Sheena stumbled out. "Oh my god, did I just hit that dog?"
"So did you hear?" Emil asked Genis. "Sheena hit a dog on the way to work."
Genis snorted. "Like that's anything new."
They were seated at a table in the Nerv cafeteria while waiting Lloyd and Asuka to finish their sync test. Marta sat between them with Pen-Pen on her lap. Corrine munched on a piece of toast. Several large flat screen monitors ran a loop of the Nerv logo.
"But that's not it," Emil continued. "I heard it was bigger than a Great Dane, and purple with horns."
"What, like a dragon?" Marta rubbed the warm water penguin on the head.
Genis crossed his arms. "No, sounds more like her normal ramblings. 'Oh, I don't have those papers because a griffin stole them.' 'A sphinx wouldn't let me out of my house.' 'I hit a dragon.' Sounds more like she's chasing the dragon, to me."
Marta tilted her head, confused. "So she ran it over on purpose?"
"And just what the hell is this?" Raine stopped dead in the doorway, mouth agape. A bloody, purple mess lay across her desk.
Sheena grinned sheepishly. "I, uh, kind of hit it with my car." She waited. "Can you fix it?"
Raine's mouth filled up with foam, her eyes rolled back, and she fainted.
When Lloyd, Presea, and Asuka got back from their sync test, the three non-pilots were already elbow-deep into a conversation (read: argument) on the difference between a dragon and a wyvern. Now, see, normally, Asuka would have thrown up her hands and walked away from them then and there, preferring not to deal with their rambling bullshit that inevitably would lead to destruction of public property, several arrests, and hurling vicious insults at an elderly florist. However, this was not one of those so-called normal times. Today, Asuka was intrigued.
"Did I hear something about a wyvern?" she asked, quickly sliding between Genis and Emil.
"Dragon," Emil insisted.
"Aren't we in Japan?" Marta's asked…no one, I guess. "Wouldn't it be a snake-like dragon? What is that a wyrm?"
Genis shook his head furiously. "No, no, no. Wyrm is a European term, so it couldn't be applied to a dragon found in the East. Besides, it's a – "
"It had four legs!" Emil shouted. "Four! That makes it a dragon, not a wyvern!"
"You never saw it, so how do you know?"
"Neither did you!"
"But I'm always right." Genis folded his arms as if that closed the matter.
"Boys, boys," Asuka soothed. "I know a way we can settle this dispute." She stole one of Lloyd's swords and shoved him to the floor. Raising the sword over her head, she placed a foot on his chest to keep him down. "Kill the beast!"
Apparently she has some Teutonic Knights in her ancestry.
Once the dragon was patched up, everyone decided that it was probably best if Kratos never found out about it. Naturally, he did. It was his daily attempt to woo Raine Sage that brought him down to the medical ward. Right in the middle of "physically seducing" the good doctor, the tiny purple dragon poked his head around the corner. Ten minutes later, the two of them sat opposite one another in an interrogation room.
"Since when do we have an interrogation room?" Sheen asked Yuan as they watched from the other side of a two-way mirror.
"Since Kratos ordered it put in so he could interrogate people."
"No," Yuan sighed. "Just…people. Random pedestrians. Old ladies, even."
Inside, Kratos laced his fingers. "If you come in peace, surrender," he offered. "If you're here to make war – we surrender."
Sheena and Yuan facepalmed.
"Why are we crawling through the ductwork?" That sounded like Emil.
"Because shut up, that's why!" Asuka thrust her leg backward and caught him right in the face.
"Why do you keep talking?" Genis asked. "It never goes well for you."
"Yeah," Emil agreed. "I really should know better by now.
"Can I have my swords back?" Lloyd complained from behind Genis. "I feel naked without them."
"You can have them back after we kill the beast," Asuka insisted for the hundredth time. "And only if I feel like it. Who knows, I might decide that I like them better."
"No whining, worm!" She kicked Emil in the face, who kicked Genis in the face, who kicked Lloyd in the face. Hard. The half-elf was not about to take Lloyd's punishment without some kind of satisfaction. Meanwhile, Marta trailed behind, deciding if it was too late to avoid getting caught up in any further shenanigans. It was, but she had to hope. Besides, if she looked at just the right angle, she could sort of see Emil's butt.
Asuka stopped over a vent and peered through the space between the bars. "This is it, boys – and Marta – this is what we've been training for."
"Training?" Genis snorted. "You mean chasing Lloyd around the cafeteria for ten minutes?"
"No talk-back!" Genis got a face full of Emil's foot, courtesy of Asuka. He kicked Lloyd. Just because.
Asuka braced herself –
Sheena and Yuan were about ready to die. Kratos had been in "negotiations" now for about ten minutes, and already he had surrendered to the dragon, as well as every employee's bank accounts, and Unit 00. And the dragon had not uttered a single word. Well, that's not entirely true. He had tried to talk, but Kratos took that as a sign of its displeasure – and that's when he offered up Unit 00.
Mercifully, the ventilation cover was kicked down and Asuka followed, brandishing Lloyd's swords. He and the other tumbled down seconds later. She crossed the swords over her head in an X formation and shouted, "KILL THE BEAST!"
When Sheena glanced over, Yuan was gone.
Kratos abruptly stood from his seat and drew his sword. "You shall not harm this creature – he is under my protection until negotiations are finished!" He and Asuka met swords as Lloyd and Emil tackled the dragon – and then the three of them crashed through the two-way mirror and raced down the hallway.
Sheena blinked. "What."
"I know, right," remarked Marta, who was now standing at her side.
"I…I'm not hallucinating, right? All this is actually happening?"
"Asuka is fighting Kratos with Lloyd's swords. Lloyd and Emil and struggling to hogtie that purple dragon as it races through Nerv. And Genis is busy attempting a blood ritual to smite this entire facility to rubble."
Sheena surveyed the area, taking it all in.
Sanity had become a precious commodity, Yuan decided. A non-renewable resource that was rapidly being drained by the members of Nerv. As far as he could determine, only he remained perfectly sane.
The Bridge Bunnies were…a mixed bag. Kuchinawa seemed perfectly logical, but that was only because he was busy NOT trying to kill Sheena. Colette was, well, a ditz with no sense of balance and, he was convinced, never learned how to walk. And Richter – he actually hadn't said much, so while he might be a valuable ally, Yuan was forced to assume the worst. Schrödinger be damned.
"So that's pretty much the situation. We have a tiny purple dragon loose in headquarters."
Richter raised his hand. "Seriously?"
Yuan considered this. "Yes."
Richter folded his arms and nodded to himself. "I'd like to hand in my two-week notice."
"Denied," the subcommander answered quickly.
"Damn," Richter swore. "Almost had it this time."
"Any other questions?"
Richter again. "Since we apparently won't be leaving this insane asylum any time in the conceivable future, are we going to, you know, do anything about the dragon?"
"Our glorious leader has spun the wheel of fate." As if that explained everything. "He's actually currently engaged in a swordfight with Asuka."
Colette raised her hand. "Is the dragon in any way, snuggly?"
Yuan opened his mouth, paused, frowned, and opened his mouth again. Like a ventriloquist dummy whose operator had forgotten that he was supposed to speak for the dummy. "I…don't know how to answer that. Um. Maybe?"
"Kay!" She smiled and started working back and forth in her seat.
"Right. Um. Yeah. So, we need to mount some sort of offensive, since…you know…"
"Everyone else is fucking useless?" Richter offered.
"Yes. Thank you." He sighed. "Any ideas? Kuchinawa?"
But Kuchinawa didn't answer. He didn't answer because he didn't have any plans. He didn't have any plans because he was a straw figure of himself. Kuchinawa had vanished.
Yuan rubbed the bridge of his nose. "How does he always get me?"
Sarge was…confused to put it mildly. Normally, pedestrians fled in terror at the sight of his tank barreling down the streets of Tokyo-3. They would void their bowels and flee as if the devil himself was on their heels, eager to drag their souls to hell. A number of them had formed a semi-religious organization which posited that Sarge was actually an agent of the Angels and/or the devil. But that was ridiculous.
Sarge hated the Angels.
In any case, this pedestrian didn't run in bowel-voiding terror. This one stood there, curious, eyeing the tank with a sort of amused condescension.
Sarge kicked open the cupola. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Jack of Blades bowed politely. "Analyzing your machine for fatal flaws. I have discovered…several."
That got Sarge's ire going. "Who the hell do you think you are?"
"Oh no one special – just an agent of a dimension of absolute nothingness, a force of nature unmatched in sheer magnitude, an unstoppable – "
Jack frowned. How dare this mortal interrupt him! "Yeeeesss…."
"Then saddle up, Nancy. You're about to get put on a three-legged horse bound for the nearest telegraph station to hell!"
"That didn't make any – "
Zelos looked around the empty set. "Why haven't I been in this chapter yet?"
"You…you don't really know where this is going anymore, do you?"
What? Nonsense! Who told you that? They're lying! Get off my back!
Emil had long since let go of the dragon, but Lloyd had somehow managed to get on its back and ride it around the base like a horse until it wore itself out. It was a strange sight to see Lloyd dragging the tiny purple dragon down the hallway by its tail. He struggled to speak before Lloyd noticed him and ordered him to help out. They acquired some rope and a pole and tied the dragon by its feet and carried it like a human sacrifice to a Polynesian cannibal feast. That was an even stranger sight to the workers at Nerv.
Sheena was speechless when they rounded the corner and presented the dragon to her. "What next?" Lloyd asked.
"Your father is fighting Asuka."
Genis passed out from blood loss and had to be carried away from the insanity, leaving only Asuka and Kratos. At some point during the fight, her hair had come out of their signature pigtails and hung loosely about her shoulders. A strange determination had come over her. It no longer mattered why she was fighting him (because, honestly, she had no fucking clue). The point was now to win at all costs.
Time was nothing as she delivered blow after blow, parry after parry. Steel on steel was her timepiece, their heavy breathing a marker of the hour. In the time since she had begun the fight, her technique had improved slightly. No longer was she simply flailing the swords around – now she swung with purpose, drive.
Her arms ached and stung with each swing, sweat matter her hair to her face. At some pint she had simply chopped off her bangs so that she could see. This was a match of unflinching resolve – a test of will between two unstoppable…
…And that's when she slipped on a pool of her own seat and went down. Kratos stood over her, sword point to her nose.
"Do you yield?"
He sheathed his sword and helped her up. "You put up a wonderful fight. You could teach my son a thing or two."
"The hell I will."
Jack of Blades strode down the street. And I mean on the street. As in, the fucking middle of the road. Traffic was literally at a standstill as cars swerved to avoid hitting the strange pedestrian. Well, they were now; the first few met a messy end in another dimension of pain. Entirely of pain. Where existence itself was torture and you begged for death, only to know the disappointment that you will have no escape from the pain. It was something Jack cooked up in middle school - a combination of mathematics, physics, and a dash of occult studies.
His parents were so proud.
So now, Sword of Aeons in hand, traffic at a standstill, pedestrians running in fear, Jack paused in the middle of the chaos.
"Now it's time I summoned a real dragon."
He plunged the Sword into the space between worlds, fishing around for a realm that seemed right. After some searching, he found one: a realm of dreams and magic where the mortals and immortals both could visit; the home of a lost eternity, a golden city turned to darkness by meddling mortals.
In this realm, Jack heard a sweet, siren call. While immune to its effects, he followed it anyway to its source, curious. After some wandering he found the origin; lo and behold, it was a dragon. And a big one. It awoke to his touch, giving Jack a taste of its power. He liked what he felt. Bringing the sword down to the ground, he carved a large portal between the worlds, an opening for the dragon to enter through.
Tokyo-3 trembled at the might. The very air turned heavy and thick. Something like music flowed out of the portal, calling to every mortal. Some went insane, screaming. Others wept and fell to the ground in something like worship. Most, though, simply stared in wonder as the beast arrived through the rift. A massive head lumbered lazily through, followed by an equally massive body and tail that almost doubled its length. Each footstep was like a tremor that shook buildings and shattered windows and set alarms off. And then it spread its wings and took to the air.
Urthemiel, Dragon of Beauty, Archdemon of the fifth Blight, and Old God of the Tevinter Imperium raised loosed a terrible cry into the air, calling her servants.
This land was hers now.