Ha-HA! Thought I ran away, did you? Fear not! I will not run away! (kicks duffle bag further under bed) Yet.
... In all honesty, though, I had this one ready a few days before I felt I was ready, and then extended the deadline to work on more content, then figured 'screw it, number 3 won't come until I call it properly.' So here. "Enjoy yo'self. I'm Rick James."
That, and there is a limit to how long I can go without playing God. How that limit works, I have yet to figure out.
A Retelling of BatMan and The Crow(bar)
It takes a man with balls of steel to stare down an Angel from any distance under a mile away without a bunker or two (or ten) in between, and a man with an iron bladder to maintain his position, even as he is covered in the entrails of his subordinates and as his wife/son/something fusion eats the Angel he was glaring at just minutes before. With a surprising amount of gusto.
'I did not realize that our PR divisions' transmitting antennae could be used as a large fork, nor that the Progressive Knife could also be used as a culinary utensil. It just... had not occurred to me.'
It takes a man raised in darkness and trained in the shadows to twist the arms of thousands to further his own goals, and still be confident that he is one of the few that knows what is really going on, and that any others that know only do so because he allows it. At the same time, it takes a man ready to burn in hell to do all this at the behest of a woman gone mad with their combined hubris in mankind.
'What can I say, the pillow talk was invigorating, and no other living woman I know had a hair fetish as intense as hers, then or since.'
It takes nothing short of a sadomasochist to craft a tool of destruction from his own kin and blood. At the same time, it takes a father to bury his own son when he knows that it should have been him instead. When he knows that his son knew that it should have been him, and stepped up anyway.
Gendo knows these things, having long ago acknowledged such. He knows many things. He even knows that, as far as his remaining living former subordinates were concerned, he was known as The Man Who Always Knew Everything.
'As well as Captain GendOwn, the Bastard King, Lord of the Night and a few other choice names. Good thing they never met my cousin or she'd never let me live it down.'
Given that he had once actually taken his generations' equivalent of The Tree of Knowledge for his own, this rumor by itself was not too far from fact. But it was a rumor, and one meant as an insult at that.
'Oh, is that my cue to shut up now? My apologies.'
But he is also a man that does not know many things. How, if the situation had been different, to properly raise a son that had unknowingly watched his mother die. How, if he had more time at his disposal, he could have kept the Akagis moving according to his scenario without giving them the false hope and faith that overall was not necessary, and led to their self-destruction, in both cases.
How to tell his comatose wife that their plan had failed and succeeded in the worst of ways. How to bury his son without holding back the grief and regret that came with his own continued existence. How nobody but him ever seemed to notice how much Lieutenant Makoto took after him, in looks if nothing particularly useful.
These are but a few things that Gendo does not know, and a number of them are caused by his simple lack of awareness given the situation. He does not know that his wife is simply in an extended state of shock, having existed as a higher awareness in a 60 meter war beast for so long that she's still getting used to not sleeping standing up. He does not know that Rei is still alive, and is on the top 10 most wanted list as a menace to the JSSDF and the general public, nor that her wanted poster features her wearing a cheerleading outfit and holding a chainsaw improperly but effectively. He does not know that Shinji has been in Terminal Dogma for the last week, nor that Kyoko Zeppelin Sohryu was yet alive, let alone in the same building as him and his Yui.
And currently multitasking between petting the cat she had adopted, cooking, looking after the strays that kept mysteriously appearing in the basement at exactly 3 in the afternoon every day, and petting the cat. Whereas Yui was still adjusting, Ms. Sohryu had always been a rather active, tense (and horny) specimen of the female variant of homo sapiens sapiens.
Somewhere in the undercarriage of the hatchback trap that could be called Gendo's mind, he realizes that he has had the unfortunate experience of learning such a thing personally, but his self-applied conditioning has all but erased any memory of such event from his mind. So, in a way, he finds himself mysteriously grateful for the fact that he does not, for the record, know everything. Or at least, that mysterious bit of information that was never a part of the scenario.
And he certainly does not know the exact headcount of how many overambitious looters his former teacher, Kozo Fuyutsuki, has crippled since the chaos of people being ejected from Instrumentality began just four nights ago.
Somewhere in the apartment building, a squelching snap rips through relative silence, followed shortly by screams of disbelief.
"Ha! That's 69!" Gendo now knows the exact headcount of how many looters his former teacher has crippled, and lets go of the opportunity to laugh at the implications, instead wondering if he had somehow done that on purpose. Disregards the thought before he tries to apply it to a new scenario. "Anybody else want a piece of me?!"
"What the hell are you, old man?!"
"I am the physical manifestation of the power of youth, and I'm feeling better by the minute! Come at me bruh!"
Five dark alleys, two broken down brothels, half a rec center and a jewelry story away, five people silently take their places at the counter of a dim, buzzing bar, not with any particular purpose in mind or intent to disrupt the status quo, but just because they unknowingly recognize each other. And by bar logic, any two people that have met within the last 30 years of their lives, no matter the circumstances behind their last meeting, will without fail gravitate towards each other if they meet each others' eyes at a bar, regardless of how many other patrons are between them.
Now, considering that one must normally be a recurring attendee of a bar to recognize anyone there (or particularly unlucky), this development would reach the unfortunate conclusion of a large mass of elbows, knees, genitalia, blood, sweat, and broken teeth not halfway through the night, leaving the question to be how anyone ever left such an area. However, thus is another part of the charm of a 'bar'; while some do attend with the intent of knowing others intimately for a night or two (or three hundred and sixty and beyond), the majority of them come to drown their sorrows, fears, angers and regrets. Alone.
Thus is the human condition that makes bars so successful in times of great trial and error. Like now, for instance.
So five people that each know each other would -read as: should- not actually come to meet each other at a bar at random. Rather, on most occasions this set-up accompanies some kind of double-date deal with an unfortunate third-wheel type character that has recently dropped out of a relationship or is in despair from an extended lack of any such socialization. These occasions, under typical circumstance, would lead to the third-wheel character hooking up with the significant other of one or both of the other couples, 'hopefully' without the other half of either couple realizing such a thing had occurred.
In other typical circumstances, there would be some handsome/beautiful devil/angel alone at the bar that the third-wheel character chases after over the course of days to weeks to a few hours before both mutually agree that they find nothing remotely attractive about each other and proceed to make babies and overcome dramatic event after dramatic event, only to commit a double-suicide-homicide after moving to the land of "Happily Ever After," leaving the dating quadret trapped in the bar for all eternity.
Or at least until it closes for the night, if that makes it any less depressing a thought.
None of the people here think such a misconstrued ending is worth their time, so none of the above even count as an option.
On the other hand, the five might have come together to have an orgy later and just wanted to invite others over so they could impose their sweat, tears, and groin-based desires on even more people in the form of supplemental hormone additives known commonly as 'drugs'. However, this kind of situation has become much more akin to a myth since the 1970s, and does not even exist as such in the current day and age. So that's out too.
In short, these people have not come to plan some dastardly event, nor have they come together to, quote on quote, "come together." No, these individuals just happened to be in the same bar at the same time, and their former job occupations had them working in not-so-confined spaces more often than not, so they know each other a little better than the average bar goer would know the person sitting next to them.
So, five people that know each other pretty well meet once again at a bar.
There is no punchline.
"So why green?" The woman closest to the bartender asks. "I mean, with all the immigrants from other nations just walking out of the sea, it'd probably make you stand out less if you dyed it, I dunno, blond? And just when did you get the haircut?"
"Green is an non-natural color for hair, stands out, so it's kind of like 'hiding in plain sight'. Anybody looking for me in particular won't notice and think I'm just another old guy trying to feel young again," he pauses as he takes a pull from his personal flask, "... and I got it done two days ago. How's it look?" While most men his age would not worry enough about their hair to ask a woman's opinion on, well, anything, he had an image to keep up... and in his mind, the ponytail had made him look cooler.
"It makes you look like an neet, but I kinda miss the stubble all of a sudden." She fires off without pause, glass full before her lips and eyes looking to the side. She catches the pout on his face and wonders for a moment whether he's acting or not. Figures what the hell. "It's a good look for you."
With that she tilts back the mug of something tinted orange and momentarily sees herself at a bar at the other end of the universe. Well, crouching behind the counter of a bar, twin semiautomatics in her hands, bottles of expensive crap exploding on the shelves above her, and some guy that reminded her of Shinji diving under a table nearby and swearing like a pirate.
Then she blinks, slams the emptied glass on the table, and continues after signalling for a refill. "Like, seriously, no lie. I wouldn't have figured out it was you but for the scent of shame and perversion." He tries to grin, but settles somewhere between grimacing, raising an eyebrow, and trying to remember how long it took to fix the drink she had just chugged like a frat boy showing off.
It was a complicated expression, and he deserved a medal for pulling it off, in a manner of speaking.
"This is a bar, isn't it? I'm sure everybody smells... something like that..." She shakes her head, waving her hand in front of her.
"Nooope. There's a particular stress hormone, y'know, that people let out in their sweat when they're paranoid about something. I know because you always smelled like it when you visited NERV or came over to 'visit', and out of the people here, you still reek of it the most. Well, that and Old Spice."
He opens his mouth, frowns, and as most men do in situations where they suspect their scent is insulted, sniffs at the inner-lining of his shirt.
"... And you're sure you're not part bloodhound or something?"
"If I was, would that mean you have a bestiality fetish? I'm not sure Pen-Pen would approve, and you know how he feels about you already.."
"Seriously? That bird's still alive? You sure he's not some new breed of Terminator?"
"As if, what kind of bird-shaped killing machine can't take a little spice in their chili?"
"Misato, think about what you just said."
"I see no problem with what I just said and don't think you can change the subject so easily! I am a new woman, Ka... ah, Ryouji, and I will no longer be derailed by your manly charms!"
"... Won't even begin to call out what's wrong with that," he says as he sighs, pinching his nose and secretly thinking 'heh, still got it.' "Okay, back on subject. So what are we talking about now?"
"Why PenPen isn't a WMD?"
"If it were anyone but you I was talking to, I'd think you were crazy, drunk, or knee deep in a valid conspiracy." Considering she had been two out of the three for a good part of the last few years without realizing it, he poured her drink with the skill of a distracted novice and mulled over her question. Then he hit a roadblock in audacity and considered it seriously.
"Right. Anyway. Knowing you and what you normally consider 'food', you're not the type to get name-brand hot sauce because it's 'not even hot enough to set your nose on fire', so I'd guess what you use is banned in 7 of the 6 known continents of today's social economy." He paused. "I take that back, there's been no confirmation from Australia on survival, so that would be out of five. Where did you get it from and what's in it?"
"Ehh, found it one day after Shinji tried cleaning the apartment. Tried some in my ramen, and all was good. Kind of reminded me of when I met you and Rits in university for some reason."
"Really? Didn't you two meet in a cooking class?"
"Oh yeah, that's right! I didn't pass that one! I forget why," she ponders, the hand not tracing figures on the glass reaching up to cup her chin. The bartender stares at her, taking another swig from his flask before daring to assist her poorly lit memories.
"... Because whatever you made for your final project gave Mr. Fubumi alcohol poisoning, didn't it? Poor bastard..."
"Never did find another guy that willing to eat something I made... not after the first bite and a lot of staring, anyway."
"If I remember right, this is exactly why I ever got invited to your apartment in the first place. Akagi got tired of cooking and didn't trust you to not kill her or yourself with yours."
"And she thought I was lonely for whatever reason. Water under the bridge."
"Water that smells strongly of cigarettes and sex for some reason, but water nonetheless." They toast together, and drink again.
Not 10 feet to the left of their general direction, two women and one disillusioned and confused man sit together, having just come from a most disturbing three-way that involved not a one of them. Physically, at least.
'Dear Penthouse; what ever happened to 'As long as the balls don't touch, it's not gay?' Well, you'll never believe the day I had because I'm sure I T-bagged a couple hundred disembodied souls last night, and I can only pray that most of them were female. Except, before now, I was an atheist, so who the hell am I praying to?!'
"Hey, does it really count as a three-way since one was a pig, one was a dog, and one was a rooster?"
"Oh, that was a pig? I didn't know we still had those after everything that's been going on."
'I mean, sure it could be any mans' dream to wake up crotch-to-crotch with a horny chick, but somehow that fantasy died when I realized I could read her mind and could tell that she actually didn't want it. Then, although I've never experienced forcing myself on anyone else, it felt like rape, although that would make sense if I was sharing a collective body with rapists too.. although thinking that hard makes my head hurt, and that's besides the point. Basically, after that, it got old, but that's not the reason I've contacted you today, Penthouse, and for those disturbing images, I apologize...'
"Well, I at least hope that was a pig and not some new kind of mutant. God knows we've got enough of those flying around without them figuring out how to screw each other, or us for that matter."
"How do you think they got into that kind of position, I don't even..."
'... Unless they were appreciated, in which case you have become sick bastards over the years and I expect to be employed within the hour and while we're on the subject, I'd like a raise. There is far more where that comes from, believe me, and I'm not sad to see it go. Especially if I'm getting paid. Sure, I figure we could easily be talking about my self-respect instead, but I think that got ripped apart when naked little girls cornered me under my desk and... oh, now you're getting excited, huh. I knew you all would one day fall to our unique Eastern charms... I just could not have predicted it would be that one in particular. But that's not my point either.'
"Who even are you, lady, I mean... I kind of recognize you from the bridge bunny crew, and for not remembering your name I apologize, but-"
"Aoi Megumi, and don't worry about it, I get that all the time. My character was designed to be easily forgettable."
"... Wait, wha-"
'Dammit, stop being so picky! So what if I could make up something on the spot for these situations, they sound creepy as hell just with me thinking them up! I'm in despair, Penthouse! I came to you to run from my problems, not right back to them! I mean, here I am at a bar, not even half a day after rising from the sludge of souls as it were, and sitting between two totally bangable chicks that I'm paying not a lick of attention to! I'm making sacrifices here, so shut the fuck up and listen to my problems!'
"... I mean, you get to have superior tits that you hide behind cosplay -how the hell you even do that, I don't know- and the resident horndogs aren't humping you with their eyes or innuendo every 10 minutes we're not having a crisis! And your hair's blue! And they don't show you die! You're lucky! All I got was a sensei fetish that nobody but the fans picked up on and I never got to fulfill!"
"It was damn hard to fit into those costumes without it coming out of my paycheck, thank you very much! Oh, what's this? You made at least 3 times as much as I was without dressing up as a French maid every two weeks? And you got to be traumatized! Bitches love trauma, dammit...! Oh, god, I-I'm sorry, I've just been really, really, really... sexually frustrated these past few days, Ibuki-chan..."
'Silence, my friends... I detect a great disturbance in the Force, and not an unwelcome one at that...'
"I'm sure there's a good reason for that, because I have been too. Unfortunately for me, though, sempai got arrested a little while after coming back, and they don't allow conjugal visits for the ladies unless they get serviced too... and somehow or another, all the batteries I stocked up on for days like this are dead."
"... So you expected something like this to happen eventually? Never mind that, how does that sensei-fetish thing work for you? You just got a thing for chicks ordering you around, or does it still work as long as they're older than you?"
"I'm not completely sure, couldn't confess because I never figured it out and I wasn't sure I was supposed to, really. Why?"
"Your birthday's in May, right? If I remember right, I should be about,,, two years older than you?"
'And? Really, Maya? Was our harassment so bad that you can no longer recognize an obvious pass from a woman when you hear it? We have failed you, Ibuki, and for that we deserve nothing but the harshest-'
"And to be completely honest with you, I never could say I only batted for one team with a straight face."
"... Ah, I see what you did there."
"Do you really?"
"You're suggesting that we fuck to get rid of our mutual anxiety. I'll take you up on that, on one condition..."
"This isn't going to be complicated, is it?"
"We bring this meatstick along with, for his own protection and our pleasure."
"What, Aoba? Ehh... I'm not against it, but why him in particular?"
"From what I've seen, most people are either catatonic or in a state of... 'extended excitement' in the first 24 hours after coming out of whatever that was in the sea. And I saw this guy come out almost the minute I passed by this morning, and he's followed us here with almost no help at all. And he hasn't said a single perverted thing yet. And-"
"And he could just be gay and want some girls to hang around, but I see your point... s. Points. Or did you have some other reason?"
"No, not really. So, is that okay?"
'Dear Penthouse, a short while ago, me and my good friend Hyuuga Makoto made a bet, wagering which one of us would get into a situation where we had to satisfy multiple horny women first. Being that neither of us believed it would ever happen in this lifetime and that the world was ending at the time that we made said bet, I never expected anything to come of it, but... this is the tale of how I won. And my (insincere) apology that I took the lead like this. Aoba Shigeru, out.'
Meanwhile, in the bowels of NERV, a crack team of specialized Japanese Specialized Self Defense Forces (with extra 'special') examines the minor details of a dark hallway before them from the lift, first and foremost how it differed from the other thousand hallways of the bunker fortress.
First, there were no remains... correction, make that no remains that identified with what belonged inside the human body. One imaginative soldier voiced his opinion on the streamers they had used to decorate this floor's ceiling, and wondered if there had been a party down here that had been abandoned at one point. His commanding officer pointed out that those were intestines, and that he should really have known that considering he was from the medical unit.
Not that he actually was from the medical unit, at least, not of the official JSSDF. Rather, these men had just somehow infiltrated the mostly-abandoned NERV base while evading a lax army and taking some of their supplies while they were at it, the reason why being that they were all stoned as hell and wanted to go 'looting' and somehow that got translated to 'we're on a secret mission' somewhere along the way. Anyway.
Secondly, there were no flies. This makes a small bit of sense considering there were not as many corpses for the flies to lay eggs in and multiply, but none at all was a bit disturbing. One imaginative solder wondered to himself whether or not it was quiet enough to hear a pin drop in the absence of buzzing insects. Instead, the solder standing next to him farted, and they all promptly evacuated the lift.
Which is to say they tripped over each other at least five times apiece in their hurry to get away from the lift. Fortunately, nobody accidentally groped any of the others in any and all close calls caused by falling motion. Unfortunately, that clearly states that any and all groping was, instead, fully intentional. The gropees remained none the wiser.
Thirdly, every inch of the hallway was painted a dark shade of what might have been red. This is a bit disconcerting considering that the upper levels each had at least a few specks of white left in the walls, while the rest was slightly yellow, and left half of the soldiers wondering just who had had the time to piss on all these walls while the world was ending. Meanwhile, this hallway was red... a thin red, like some idiot had only used one coat of paint, and the floors were sticky, even now.
As if any of them knew anything about paint besides what chemical in it could get them high as kites. Horror movies, on the other hand... well, only one of them could be labeled an 'expert' under current standards. But back to this weird hallway.
It looked kind of like how the floors of the other hallways looked in the areas surrounding some of the doors, except those were obviously not paint. Unless somebody had decided to bathe in a precise shade of red that matched blood very well and rolled around on the floor and had somebody grab them by the ankles and drag them over the floor and through those doors, no.
Although on the off-chance someone had, then this crack team of extra-special JSSDF (read as: special crackheads) was dealing with a number of Expressionist artists that had too much time on their hands and took the art style way too seriously, and not a number of possibly insane serial killers with far too much time on their hands. Ah, if only that were the case... artistic serial killers could be dealt with through trial, error, mass panic, shrill screaming, and large amounts of firepower dumped into dark, confined spaces over the course of the length of a movie.
What they were dealing with... could not. Or rather, would not, even if they had decent training.
Still, for a moment at least, they had time to wonder just who -or what- it was they were dealing with. Then some idiot decided to double-check and see what the wall tasted like, to rest his fears of it being blood.
Instead, his fears were confirmed, and a minute later, one of his squadmates was down on his hands and knees, breathing unit hanging from one side of his helmet as he dutifully released the volatile contents of his stomach on the unsuspecting and rather horrified floor. Before anyone could ream him for eating breakfast that morning when they'd been specifically ordered not to... or kick him while he was down and take his money and leave him for dead (this man was an asshole, apparently), every one of those standing froze at the sound of the doors of a lift opening. At the other end of the dark hallway.
"... What the hell do you think you're doing?"
And a girl with blue hair and glowing red eyes steps out of the brightly-lit lift. With a chainsaw. That was dripping something that clearly was not water.
"Aw, dammit, now I'm gonna have to recoat this level! Do you know how hard it was to get this much blood out of five people? Do you?!"
The commanding officer was suddenly assaulted by an onslaught of brain-numbing girlish shrieking. After the first vein in his neck ruptured, he realized it was not coming from the girl before them, but his own throat.
He kept screaming, even as he fell to his knees and began scrambling towards the lift they had just come from, even as the soldiers around him took up firing positions (that is to say, 'sprayed and prayed'), even as the field of orange light shined into existence in the middle of the hallway. He didn't notice when he started choking on his own bile and blood, only that he seemed to be running out of air to scream with.
With his last thoughts, he cursed the name of the idiot that had farted in the lift.
And somehow, without the chainsaw girl even touching him, he was the first to die.
Down below, in a cavernous area formerly reserved for the corpses of failed Evangelions, Lilith sits, cradling the broken bodies of two of her most-favored children closer to her, even as The One most similar to her performed her gruesome works in the land above. Her tears run in rivers behind her mask; their pitiful cries reach her ears even here, and even now as she tried to block them out, they continue to break through.
'I... I should really be used to this by now,' she says to no one in the Overmind. 'I mean, it's been a few thousand years and I still can't block them out... why did I give my babies the ability to go insane while their Mother can't?' Here she pauses.
'Oh, wait, I can, that's why I let one of my babies dictate whether or not there would be any future for this world. Phew, almost forgot myself there.' She thinks to wipe her brow with the back of one hand on observed reflex before she remembers that she was holding someone in her arms. Rather, two someones.
'Ack! I'm sorry, my babies, Mommy's been a little busy these past few days, so I'd forgotten all about my Gift for you! As recompense, let me dim the Light of my soul... ah, wait, I can't kill myself... aaand you could not receive my gift if I were dead, could you? Wow, this crazy thing is somewhat frustrating... I'd forgotten why I don't do this so often.'
"Mother, I'm going to have to ask you to be quiet for a bit. It's hard to hunt people down when I can't focus, and you're very distracting."
'Ah, yes, my apologies...' Lilith sweatdrops, facing her mask to the ceiling as she focused on her other baby's words and wondering why it felt like someone, somewhere, had just insulted her maturity. 'Ah, Rei? Could you try to bring one of those poor souls down alive and unmaimed for me?'
"... I'll see if I can get two, in case one tries to damage himself. Why do you ask?"
'Well... ah... it's just... Mommy loves young men!'
'Sure I'd rather have one in my size, but there aren't a lot of those types these days, so for once I'm trying quantity over quality.'
"... Come again?"
'Why, yes, I'd love to, but last time I did my mate ran away and my spawn tacked me to the wall for a few thousand years. Sure this might count as a variant of 'incest' and I'm suddenly not so sure if I should be telling you this, but what was I saying again?'
"... I'm starting to see why ADAM was so scared of you."
'Hmm?' With that Lilith was given the unique experience of being hung up on via Overmind. Not knowing what she was supposed to do about the droning tone which was all she could hear at that point, she shrugs, cuts off the connection and turns her attention back to her other babies- ah, that is, children.
'Wonder what that was about... well, anyway. I think you've waited long enough, my babies! I think... I think it's about time, right? You've waited more than long enough.'
Lilith rises, rolling her shoulders to ease the strain on her back -sure she'd been held up by her midsection for a few thousand years, but that did nothing to make her chest any smaller than it had been when she had still been a Guardian, nor her back any stronger. The mass had just... moved, after a while. And promptly returned upon her completion, and release.
So Lilith rises, rolling her shoulders to ease the strain on her back as she remembers what it means to move her legs in a fashion that dictates forward motion.
'Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot, ri-'
And steadily, silently makes her way to an area once called the Chamber of Gauf.