Ritsuko Akagi's eyes opened slowly. The smell of burnt plastic, clothing and other less palatable things drifted around her. The swirls of dust and debris in the air turned lazy circles. A slight glow could be seen in the right side of her peripheral vision.

'Why am I alive?' she thought to herself. The experiment had detonated violently, she should be dead. The shrapnel from the destruction of the reactor should have torn her body to shreds. Yet here she was, mostly unscathed at first glance.

Carefully, she tried to sit up only to realize she was being weighed down by something unseen. She took notice of her condition and saw her clothes were mostly burned away. A few scraps were draped over her chest, keeping her ample bosom covered if only barely. Though her skirt was mostly burned away, her panties survived surprisingly well, if slightly sooty. For the most part, her modesty was intact, not that it mattered. She was alone down here.

It was an instillation outside of Tokyo-3, one that was part of NERV's external resources much like the Matsushiro facility was during the Angel Wars over 6 years ago. It was considered a part of "Ex-Res Section 3C", the internal code name for External Resources which covered everything outside of the Geofront proper. She had been using it to test a new reactor model, but the experiment required something special. It was a device she created to help her adjust the system safely. It wasn't responding to her commands either, so it must have lost power in the explosion.

'I'm in big trouble if I can't get this thing off of me,' she thought to herself as she looked for the emergency releases for the harness. 'This thing weighs quite a few kilos, so I am not going anywhere with it attached still."

She reached up to her chest where part of the harness was and realized it was partially sunken into her own flesh.

"What the," she whispered aloud as she tried to feel for the releases. It was as if the harness had fused itself to her chest.

"Oh no, the nanites!" she whispered. She remembered the intricate connections to her body needed to control the specialized rig required a direct neuro-interface. The nanites were meant to help preserve her nerves since cybernetic connections like this were intrusive and tended to cause nervous system damage if precautions were not taken.

'This is gonna hurt like all hell,' she thought to herself. Many of the connections the rig used were inserted directly into her spinal column. Her fingers touched the skin near the edges of the sectioned harness and instantly drew away. The skin and flesh were sore, and it felt like the harness was buried in that flesh.

The harness consisted of sectioned metal that linked like a flat chain. It ran under her breasts along the rib there to her sternum. Another set of metal followed the rib a few bones below that and a third set followed the bottom edge of her rib cage. A contoured metal plate connected the six chain-like bands at her sternum to provide complete stability, and these bands were also connected to the important part of the unit... an external artificial spine. This device connected to her spinal column via a series of electrodes that inserted into her spine along the entire length from the base of her neck down to her tailbone. The spine was relatively flat but protruded enough to give her profile a scary look while she had it equipped.

The fact that the harness was buried part way into her flesh confused her until she realized in a deep breath that it was fused directly to her ribcage.

"Oh, Kami, no," she whispered as she realized what that meant. The artificial spine was also fused to her then, and the electrodes must have either killed her nerve endings or permanently fused with her central nervous system. She tried to move her legs and she was able to, though she felt sore.

"The nanites must be confusing the harness as a part of me," she sad to herself. "I have to get the colony removed. Then I might be able to do something about the harness... If I could just get up."

She tried again, but the equipment connected to the harness weighed her down too much. Realizing she was dead if she didn't get moving she tried again and again. She strained against the extreme weight of the harness but she couldn't even so much as budge at all.

"Damn it!" she cried out. "I... want... up... NOW!"

Suddenly she cried in pain as the feeling of an electrical spark went off in her head. She interpreted the feeling as what a circuit must feel like when it closes. The rubble beneath her began to move, and before she could question what was happening now, an explosion of debris happened close to her off to the right causing her to shield her face.

The burst of dust cleared quickly, revealing a tendril of metal formed from a series of 'rings' spaced slightly with more mechanical workings beneath. The individual rings had three convex indentations on them, giving the impression of spinal bones. The end of the tendril bore a three-pronged claw that was jointed three times on each prong. The inside created by the point the prongs connected to was shaped like a triangle that had its corners snipped off. There were lights inside the claw at the effective sides of the triangle, and a hole or aperture in the very center that could not have been more than eight centimeters wide. The opened claw seemed close to three-quarters of a meter in width.

Ritsuko watched the fully opened claw as it slammed down on the floor nearby with a metallic bang, forming a flat and stable stand. To her left another of these complex tendrils tore from the ground and also flattened and impacted the floor. The tendrils themselves led under the debris to an unseen location, but Ritsuko knew what the other end was connected to.

She felt and saw herself lifting off the ground as two more heavy metal tendrils raised up from the debris. They tried to set her on her feet, but her legs were still too weak from the accident and the shock of what has happened to her to support her weight, so they let her down to her knees instead. She fell forward onto her hands as the reality of what happened to her started to sink in.

The nanites were so confused, that the entire rig was thought to be part of her body, and effectively 'repaired' her. The spark was the control system reconnecting to her brain, and her brain rewiring itself to accommodate the four extra limbs.

She looked to the left and saw the claw of one of her tendrils come up to her side, almost as if it was looking at her. Another spark was felt but this was far less jolting. In her mind, she saw herself, ragged and worn, kneeling on the floor and she realized she somehow changed her perspective to the claw. The tendril lifted up allowing her to view the damage to her back. The artificial spine was sunk into her body and fused with the bones of her spine, but the metal was still visible. The connection points between the tendrils and the spine was also sunken into her back slightly. The entire rig was a part of her now, stabilized and one.

"And now," she whispered, "I truly am a freak."

Part of her vision blurred as she shifted her perspective back to her own eyes, tears hit the ground below her as she stayed on her hands and knees. Crushing despair washed over her as she realized how much of her own humanity she had lost, and in her anguish sat back on her legs and screamed. The tendrils pointed skyward as they appeared to scream with her...

Archdruid Sephiroth Presents

The Second Chapter of the SOE:Alterverse Saga


It's been just over six years since Third Impact, but roughly 99 percent of the human race doesn't even know it happened, and those that do refer to it as the "Day That Never Was". The people who knew of it included high members of the world's governments who now worked tirelessly to ensure that the mistakes that led to Third Impact are never repeated.

NERV had been reestablished as a peacekeeping organization and the new EVAs have more in common with basic science fiction mechs than the original bio-mechanical behemoth versions. Despite that, NERV has already had to flex its new muscles and prove itself to still be a dominate force on the battlefield.

Under the leadership of Supreme Commander Misato Katsuragi, NERV launched its first campaign into Canada to stop Alexander Cartigan from overtaking the entire North American continent. In the past year, most of their operations ran from the Soviet border of China all the way to the Red Sea. These operations were designed to stop a major rebellion in China as an Imperialistic regime attempted to unite all of Asia against the rest of the world. With NERV's intervention, they failed.

But NERV has had its own set of tragedies. An alien symbiote, enhanced by Doctor Akagi infected Rei Ayanami and temporarily turned her into the monster first known as The Bloodletter and then as Venom. A second symbiote, derived from the first, infected Asuka and had turned her into the mass murderer Carnage. After a climactic battle between the symbiotes, Asuka was captured and now resides in a prison in Germany. Rei, on the other hand, was apparently freed from her symbiote and has since married her beloved Shinji and given him a daughter named Eve.

Over the course of those events, Shinji was given a special mutagen to save his life. And this changed him into the hero Tokyo-3 has come to know as Spiderman. When he wasn't busy with sorties in China or being a family man, he stopped petty crime in Tokyo-3 to keep his skills sharp in case they would be needed one day.

Ritsuko, for her part, never gave up on science. Her studies into world events over the past year after the Symbiote War led her to one inescapable conclusion. The reason so many countries were at each other's throats was because of the lack of energy sources on the planet. Oil was almost gone, nuclear was thought to be too risky. And most other alternative sources of power as they were simply were not enough to meet the demands. And so she became obsessed with the idea of finding a new energy source: one that was safe, efficient, and plentiful. Now, 14 months after Asuka was captured, she found her answer... but it was one that was destined to change her entire life, perhaps for the worst...

I: Humanity Lost, Part I

48 Hours Ago

The conference room felt stifling to its occupants as Ritsuko finished her briefing on what she was proposing for her latest project. Though she explained everything thoroughly, it still sounded like a bunch of hogwash to all of the members in attendance.

"The idea is sound," Ritsuko explained. "We know that Trithic-Azurite, Trithic-Rubicite, and Trithic-Diamondite all produce a one second energy field when the crystal itself is in motion. We also know these energy fields interact. It should be no issue to create a three-axis rotation device to maximize the area of the field and produce the maximum energy results."

"Forgive me for interrupting," Misato began, her position at the far end of the conference table gave her the best view of the diagrams that Ritsuko had drawn up. "But doesn't this sound a bit like fringe science?"

"I'm sure they said the same thing when radar was proposed," Ritsuko replied. "The theories on the three Trithic Elements have been proven but no one has put together these calculations before."

"But they are just theories, right?" Maya asked. "Sempai, I don't want to sound like a naysayer, but the supplies of these resources are minimal at best. None of the elements are native to Earth and all of them are under the control of Fisk Enterprises. They'll charge an arm and a leg easily for even a small sample of the materials. Just trying to prove your theories could potentially break the bank. NERV doesn't have the resources at its disposal that it used to."

"The math proves the theories, Maya," she replied. "At this stage, I just have to refine a reactor design that provides a safe and effective means of extracting the energy."

"And therein lies the problem," came the heavily accented voice of Doctor Curt Connors. He was American by birth, and so something of an outsider to NERV. But his skills in the arena of biology were more than a match for Doctor Akagi, who had moved away from biology and into engineering later in her life. His dirty blonde hair and blue eyes set him apart from the other members of the room, as did the fact that he was missing most of his right arm, the result of an incident he would rather not discuss.

"Your designs could never take into account the massive energy release from the three elements because there is no metal on the planet that is adequate for that kind of energy release," Doctor Connors explained. "The entire system would overload with even the smallest amounts of the three elements. And only with the three elements can you produce enough power to be viable. It simply won't work."

"I tell it you, it will work!" Ritsuko said with a passion Misato never knew she had. "I wouldn't even need a lot of the material to start researching the proper metals for energy extraction. One gram of each crystal would be sufficient to get started."

"At that amount, you could easily level a building or even a city block if something goes wrong."

Ritsuko was getting more upset by the moment. She wasn't about to let some American scientist tell her off like that.

"You're a bit of an alarmist, aren't you Doctor Connors? Did it not occur to you that I'd taken those calculations into account?"

"It occurred to me," he replied undaunted. "And if I come off as an alarmist, it's with good reason. An experiment like this can very easily escalate beyond your calculations. It's far too dangerous."

"I'm afraid I have to side with Doctor Connors on this," Misato replied much to Ritsuko's dismay. "I'm sorry, Rits, I can't approve of this experiment. Not only is it not in the budget, but the risk of disaster is way too high."

"I see," Ritsuko replied.

"Meeting is adjourned." The other, silent members of the meeting left but Ritsuko and Misato remained behind. "I know how much this means to you–"

"No, I don't think you do," Ritsuko interrupted. "I've come to realize that 99 percent of the world's conflicts, if not more, are due to the energy shortage. If we can come up with a cheap and viable alternative, we could usher in a new age for mankind! Now, my reactor may not be the answer to that great equation, but if we don't put it into practice we'll never know for sure!"

Misato sighed. "You always were a freak, Rits," Misato began. "But to get obsessed over this? Where the hell do you get off acting like a saint?"

Ritsuko looked shocked at Misato.

"After creating a symbiote organism that damn near threw the entire city of Tokyo-3 into chaos, you have the gall to come to us with this? You want to blow up the city now, is that it?"

The doctor could say nothing. She simply watched as she stood up with both of her hands on the table top. It was another gesture that reminded her far too much of a certain former Supreme Commander.

"Drop this at once, Doctor," Misato ordered. "I need you to focus on your duties here. Remember that your release from prison a year ago was contingent upon your cooperation."

"So now you're going to rub that in my face?" Ritsuko questioned.

"You've left me no alternative," Misato explained with finality. "Abandon this pipe-dream and get back to work improving the Evangelions."

"Fine," Ritsuko replied shortly, as she put her materials away.

Misato left the room without another word. It was only after the door closed that Ritsuko allowed herself to exhale. It took all of her willpower to keep from crying.

24 Hours Ago

Ritsuko just couldn't abandon her dream. She decided instead that she would try her best to get the reactor up and running on her own. She was able to jury rig most of the components she needed, but she still required the most important part of the reactor itself. For that, she went to the Fisk Enterprises building in Kyoto. She was surprised when not only was the CEO of the company there, but he was willing to meet with her.

"I'm honored that you decided to meet with me directly," Ritsuko said upon entering the man's office.

"I assure you," Wilson Fisk began. "The honor is all mine. Please sit down." Ritsuko sat in the chair offered. "So, tell me, what does the head of NERV's Project-E want with 3 grams of very rare crystal?"

To Ritsuko, this man was intimidating, regardless of just how open and friendly he tried to be. He was American by birth, but had a reputation in Japan for being extremely successful at squeezing profit from dying businesses. He stood well over six feet tall was was quite beefy for even his size. But Ritsuko could plainly see he wasn't necessarily fat, but rather dense in frame, like a sumo wrestler but compact. He wore a white business jacket over a dark tan vest and button up. His pants were black as were his shoes. Sitting next to the desk was a singular cane topped with a large crystal with a flat top that almost looked like it could be a diamond. If it was, it was the biggest diamond she had ever seen. The only other thing that stood out about Fisk was the fact that he looked as if he had gone bald many years ago. Not a single strand of hair could be found on his head.

"I have an experiment I want to attempt that requires the elements," she explained. "Unfortunately, I wasn't able to secure funding from NERV directly for the experiment."

"I see," he replied, rubbing his generous chin. "The elements you require are quite expensive, but I am willing to part with a 1-gram sample of each for, say, ten-thousand US dollars?"

Ritsuko was surprised, she expected this to end without success but the amount she saved up would cover that and still leave a little left in case she needed something else. She began to think this was fated.

"I can do that," she replied. "Thank you so much!"

"Now, now," Wilson Fisk began. "Don't mention it. I, of course, would like to hear how well the experiment worked out. I may be willing to invest in future experiments more directly."

Ritsuko paused at that comment. While she wanted to keep the technology out of corporate hands, if NERV wouldn't cooperate with her then she might not have a choice in the matter. "I will surely give it some thought, Mister Fisk."

"Good, good. Let me not keep you. I'll have my accountant come in and handle the funds transfer and you can leave with the material in hand shortly."

"You have it here?" she asked curiously.

"I keep some samples of the material here in case they're needed. Lucky for you, they happen to be 1-gram samples of all three of the elements."

Ritsuko's theory that fate was intervening on her behalf started to seem more likely by the minute.

16 Hours Ago

Ritsuko had returned to her laboratory. She placed herself on a speakerphone as she prepared a specialized device on a nearby workbench.

"Material Dispersal," came a voice over the speakerphone. "This is Iauku."

"Hello, Iauku," Ritsuko replied. "Long time, no hear from. How are the kids?"

"Doing well!" he replied. "Thank you for asking, Doctor. So, what I can I for you today?"

"Is it ready yet?" she asked. Ritsuko had something she needed for her reactor experiment and put in the order for it about six months ago. It was a complicated project though, it was approved without issue. Of course, no one knew its real purpose.

"It's ready," he replied. "Though I gotta ask, why do you need a cybernetic rig like this?"

"Now, Iauku, I told you I couldn't discuss that with people outside of Project-E."

"I know. I'm just curious. It seems odd that you'd need something as complex as this, especially with it being non-magnetic and non-conductive."

"I had to take some drastic measures with the design," Ritsuko replied. "That's really all I can say without getting you in trouble with Section-2."

"Understood, Doc," he said. "So, where do you need it?"

"I need you to transfer it to Lab 3C-317."

"That's the one north of the city, right? I'll get right on that for you. And hey, thanks again for the Christmas present for little Nariko. She was thrilled with it!"

"You're quite welcome. We'll talk again." Ritsuko shut the phone down and finished the device she was working on.

It was small, no bigger than a standard die used in a Las Vegas, casino, but inside was a nanite hive.

Cybernetics were tricky things to work with. Constant exposure to the electrodes and nerve induction plates required for proper man-machine interface caused many of these tissues to break down over time and undergo necrosis. Properly tuned nanites were required to repair the tissues at the site of connection to keep the connections together and prevent tissue damage. This was especially true of the specialized rig Ritsuko had designed.

The rig consisted of an external artificial spine that ran from her base of her neck all the way to the last lumbar. In medical terms: it ran from the C3 just below the atlas and axis all the way to the L5 of her spinal column. The device consisted of spinal electrodes that would insert themselves into her spine along all 12 of her thoracic nerve groups, five of the eight cervical nerves and all five lumbar nerves. These were required to control the actual arms of the rig.

Those arms consisted of four relatively massive tentacle-like mechanized arms forged of a metal that was both non-conductive and non-reactive to magnetic forces. Even with these electrodes in place, it took concentration to control the complex systems. Each claw consisted of three individual prongs with three joints each, plus a smaller set of joints at the tips allowing for much more fine and detailed gripping and control, though these weren't always visible. The claws were able to open beyond 90 degrees allowing for an unprecedented range motion.

Each claw also carried a unique utility. One carried a blade with three edges for cutting wires and other basic objects. Another carries an internal tendril with a tiny three prong claw for even more delicate operations. The third carries a cutting and welding torch for emergency repairs, and the last carries a multi-tool designed to emulate most basic tools like socket wrenches or screwdrivers. These utilities are hidden behind an 8cm aperture in the center of each claw.

The individual tentacles were designed of metals that were non-conductive and did not react to magnetic fields to assure they could work inside the magnetic field used to contain the energy and radiation of the reactor. The individual tendrils were formed of an intricate system of rotating servos and extending pistons and shock absorbers. These were protected from direct external forces by a series of metal rings with three convex curves. The completed rings stacked on top of each other but expanded away from each other roughly parallel when the tentacle arm was extended. The entire set up allowed the tentacle to collapse into a three foot segment or expand to a remarkable 15 feet without any loss of power or precision of movement.

Ritsuko was quite proud of the design. It took into account everything she would need to complete the project and allowed her to do so virtually-hands free to protect her from the effects of the energy field that would be created by the reactor itself. Without the ability to work a safe distance away from the reactor, she could be contaminated with deadly theta radiation. Even in small quantities, this form of radiation could kill a healthy human being. The only major weakness of the rig was its reliance on an external power supply and the fact that it weighed in at a hefty 50 kilos (about 110 pounds) which included the power pack that made up about half that weight.

But with this final piece she was completing, everything was in place. She placed the hive inside of an injector gun where it broke itself down into its component parts in a saline solution. Once the computer confirmed the hive was set into transfer mode, she placed the gun just under her sternum and pulled the trigger.

She felt an intense pressure for just a moment as a hundred micro-needles pierced her skin and injected the nanites and the hive components into her bloodstream. Within moments, they found their way into the blood vessels just below her heart and began to push through the vessels' walls into her chest cavity where the hive merged with the arteries there. Within just a minute, it reconstructed itself and began to release more nanites into her bloodstream. These machines would be fed instructions by the hive, and maintained within it when needed. Small contingents of nanites crawled over the hive's surface to protect it from tissue rejection and the body's own immune system while the body got used to having it there.

Ritsuko took her temperature and saw it was only slightly elevated, but only less than a fraction of a degree.

"Good," she whispered. "Everything is in place."

"I certainly hope you're not still feeding that pipe dream of yours," came the voice of Doctor Connors. He just entered the room and looked less than enthused seeing Ritsuko working on something that wasn't Project-E.

"Why do you care?" Ritsuko snapped. "They're my dreams to chase. Didn't you ever have a dream yourself, Doctor?"

"I did," he replied. "I dreamed I was the best field surgeon the US Army ever had. For a time, I lived that dream. But the fact that I'm short an appendage is proof that all dreams come to an end at some point, Doctor Akagi. We didn't tell you your dream was a pipe dream just to discourage you. We told you that because that is exactly what it is. It's far too dangerous."

"Do you think John Glen and the rest of the pioneers of space travel let fear rule them?" she countered. "This is precisely why I expected you to follow my ambition. You're an American too. I expected the same 'can-do' attitude they had. Instead, you're just like all the others. I guess you lost more than your arm in combat."

"Are you calling me a coward?" Doctor Connors asked dangerously. "I know danger when I see it. You are blinded by your ambition and you're letting your desires rule you! You're only going to get yourself killed if you continue to follow this path, Doctor Akagi. I implore you... Abandon this pipe dream and go back to medicine and the EVA's. If you really want to help the world, use the talents that were given to you and stop chasing impossible goals."

"It's not impossible!" she yelled causing Doctor Connors to flinch and look away. "Weapons only cause more death. Medicine is only a bandage over the gaping wound that is our inability to stop killing each other!"

"And you think this reactor, assuming you can get it to work, will solve all the world's problems?"

"Not all of them, no... Just most of them."

Doctor Connors stood motionless for a moment as if thinking before he finally spoke. "I'm going to recommend to the Supreme Commander that you be relieved of your position as head of Project-E and be forced to submit to a full psychiatric evaluation."

Doctor Akagi's eyes narrowed dangerously. "You want my position, is that it?"

"It would take five people as intelligent as me to replace you. Nevertheless, I firmly believe at this point that you are completely unfit for duty."

"You think I'm insane?!"

"I know you are insane, Doctor. A psychiatric evaluation at this stage is a mere formality." He breathed out the rest of the breath he didn't use. "Go home, Doctor. You'll need your rest for the inquiry that is likely awaiting you tomorrow morning." With that, he left.

Ritsuko held her temper until she was sure he was gone. Then she screamed in rage.

"That damned FOOL!" she yelled. "He'll ruin everything!"

Just as she was about to begin lamenting, she heard her phone buzz, telling her she had a text message waiting. She picked up the phone and looked at the message.

"Rig is on its way. Will be there shortly. Thanks again, Doc. -Iauku"

Ritsuko suddenly smiled and wiped the tears that where threatening to break free. "This is my chance," she whispered. "Everything is in place and Misato won't find out about Curt's stupid request until tomorrow morning. I still have time to pull this off." She quickly gathered her materials and left NERV.

'And if I do, they'll finally see the truth for themselves...'

1 Hour Ago

It was a Frankenstein machine if any could be called one. In the center of the central reaction chamber was a multi-axis spinning mechanism that held all three of the elements. The central spindle connected all three to the central point. The secondary rotator was connected to this along its central axis and this sat upon a third rotator. They were designed to spin at approximately 6,600 revolutions per minute in all three directions simultaneously.

Ritsuko took off her normal lab shirt and bra and put on a specialized one that kept her entire back open. The bottom had ties the she would need to tie after the rig was installed to keep her decent. She turned back to look at said rig.

The four tentacles were at neutral positions behind the rig, connected via four plates that interlocked at the thoracic section of the artificial spine. The connection point would fall just below her shoulder blades. The long pins of the electrodes currently were out behind the spine and reminded her of porcupine quills. A set of chain like links spayed out in front connected to a plate that would fit over her sternum. That part would link in under her shirt and trace her ribs to provide additional stability.

"You always were a freak, Rits."

Misato's words had stung a bit, but she always figured her friendship with the girl had been tenuous since she was released from prison. With this rig in place, she would look pretty freakish, she realized.

"At least it's not permanent," she told herself as she stepped on the platform in front of the stand for the rig. She turned away and the bracing of the stand aligned the machine with her spinal column. She pulled the flat chain supports over her ribs, wincing a bit at the cold metal. Although the underside was a form of polypropylene plastic, most of it was metal and it was a bit cold. Gooseflesh made itself visible as she locked the restraints over her chest. Once it was in place, it automatically adjusted to her breathing.

She reached over and pressed the button confirming she was ready to begin the interface process. The spine pressed against her back from just below her axis vertebra all the way down to the last lumbar, stopping literally just above the top of her posterior. As soon as it lined up, she heard a tone telling her to hold still which she did. With a sharp cry of pain the 44 electrodes inserted themselves into her spinal column, completing the interface circuit. Instantly, the nanites in her body swarmed to her spinal column to begin working on sustaining the nerve clusters and maintaining the connections.

After a moment, she felt a 'pop' in her head and concentrated on controlling the arms. She was able to do so but it took a bit of concentration.

"Ok," she said between breaths. "This is a weird feeling." She took a few more breaths before she turned to the computer. "Alright, begin recording." The system turned on and let out a tone telling her she was being recorded.

"My name is Doctor Ritsuko Akagi. I am head of Project-E at NERV. I have 15 Doctoral degrees in various scientific fields including Genetic Engineering, Molecular Biology, Theoretical Physics, Engineering and Medicine. The experiment you are about to witness may be mankind's first step towards establishing a new reality on planet Earth. Perhaps one day, my research will take us beyond our world and to the stars themselves.

"I've included as part of this video, my research notes regarding what I call the Triphasic Reactor. This reactor system involves utilizing the three Trithic Elements of Trithic-Azurite, Trithic-Rubicite, and Trithic-Diamondite. Though these crystals have yet to be fully termed as 'elements' in the strictest sense, we will refer to them as such for the purposes of this experiment."

Ritsuko turned towards the reactor system and extended her new metal arms into the reaction chamber. Within this chamber were control systems that modified rotational speeds and energy admixtures between the elements. These controls were outside of the main reactor housing but inside of the magnetic shield that needed to be in place to protect her from lethal exposure.

"By now you should have read my notes on the reactor system. In summary, you know that the Trithic Elements produce a minor energy field when they move at a rapid speed. And that overlapping energy fields from the three elements actually serves to exponentially magnify the energy output. This reactor will spin all three elements at speeds exceeding 6,600 revolutions per minute. The expected energy output of 1-gram of each element at that speed should be enough to power a small city. We will be monitoring the energy carefully to ensure there are no overloads.

"If you were wondering why I'm equipped with this complex rig on my back, its purpose is to allow me to conduct changes to the reactor without exposing myself to danger. Needless to say, this is an unrefined prototype of the reactor and thus will be more dangerous than a proper housing would normally be. But the power follows need to be closer to the control valves in order to reduce overall radiation output."

Ritsuko started up the reactor. First, the inner wheel containing all three elements began spinning along the X-Z axis. Then, a moment later, the secondary rotator activated and began to spin the ensemble along the Y-Z axis. Energy levels suddenly spiked but were still too low to be of any use.

"I will now start the final rotational axis which will cause the energy output to increase to usable levels."

Doctor Akagi activated the last rotational axis which began to spin the entire reactor core along the X-Y axis. The glow of the elements increased, throwing off a pattern of alternating red, white, and blue energies across the outer glass surface of the reactor core. Energy levels began to increase to higher and higher levels until the output was close to what Doctor Akagi predicted.

"As you can see," she began triumphantly. "The reactor's energy output is close to my original prediction and is still increasing in power."

Her moment of triumph was ended when an alert came from the computer system. The reactor was starting to overheat, quickly. Ritsuko quickly adjusted the system using the valves and switches within the magnetic field to reduce reactor power. At first, it looked as if it were working. Suddenly, an under-volt error was detected along the main circuit breakers. They had suddenly become fused by the high-temperature problem.

"Damn it," she said. "I must have miscalculated the heat output. The safety systems, such as they are, are now offline. I'm going to attempt to ease the reactor down and power off the system."

A spark from her right made her jump, and her imperfect link to her rig caused one of her claws to suddenly twist to the right instead of left. The X-Y axis rotation speed jumped to over 9,000 RPM's.

"No!" Ritsuko cried out as she tried to adjust it. The magnetic field became imbalanced and a bolt of electrical energy lanced out of the reactor and hit her square in the lower chest, near the injection site where her nanite hive was introduced into her body.

The jolt caused her to lose control over her arms briefly and, in that short amount of time, part of the rotation housing came lose. The three elements shattered under their own energy stress...

… Ritsuko felt the fireball and, for the briefest of moments, wondered if Doctor Connors was right after all...

To Be Continued

I built my machine

It's a part of me, it's inside of me

I'm stuck in this dream

It's changing me, I am becoming...

Nine Inch Nails, The Becoming