Summary: A thought experiment, showing how Shinji Ikari might turn out if he were raised in the MGLN universe.
If this gets enough support, I'll take it from just this prologue and turn it into a full-fledged story of its own.
Most dimensions were slightly out of phase with each other, and many scientists had theorized that different dimensions could have parallel counterparts of the same objects - worlds, constellations, or even individuals.
But it wasn't until just six years ago - shortly after the Scaglietti incident - that this theory was confirmed when the TSAB detected a massive dimensional disturbance.
Upon reaching the source some months later, the investigation team found an otherdimensional parallel of Unadministered World 97, otherwise known as Earth.
The disturbance - which the natives of this second Earth would later refer to as 'Second Impact' - resulted in the permanent change of that world's climate and the eventual deaths of over two-thirds of its inhabitants, largely attributed to either the rising sea levels or the series of wars that broke out in Second Impact's wake.
The aftershocks of the event did not effect the dimension of origin, but caused natural disasters of much lesser severity in several other 'nearby' dimensions.
Based on the residual energy from the event, the team was able to discern that it had been caused by some sort of exceptionally powerful Lost Logia.
Over the next four years, there has been an ongoing covert investigation into the Lost Logia that caused Second Impact, with minimal results.
On a day in that fourth year, Enforcer Fate Testarossa-Harlaown found an abandoned child in the middle of an urban wasteland.
Fate Testarossa-Harlaown was, by nature, a very considerate woman. So when the school called to report that the second boy she'd taken into her care had gotten into a fight, she resolved to wait until she'd heard his side of the story before passing any kind of judgment.
At home, Shinji was normally very withdrawn, needing to be pulled into family discussions or activities, and not really doing much to express himself. According to the schoolteachers, however, the boy had gone berserk and savagely attacked a classmate for no reason.
As the blonde enforcer drove him home for the end of the day, she asked, "So, care to tell me why you got into a fight?"
After several seconds, Shinji eventually replied, "He said bad things about you, bro, and sis. Things that weren't true."
Interesting. Although Fate greatly disapproved of Shinji's chosen method to handle the situation, it was nice to hear evidence that he did care about his foster family, apparently.
"What kind of things did he say, Shinji?"
The boy was silent for a few seconds, as though wary of repeating what he'd heard, until Fate eventually coaxed it out of him.
"He said the three of you should die. No, that's not right. He said you all shouldn't be allowed to exist in the first place, because you weren't born like normal people... because you were made artificially."
Ah. There was a minority subset of the population that had active protests against the existence of artificial humans, like Fate, Erio, and Vivio. Apparently, one of Shinji's classmates was the child of such people.
Personally, Fate wasn't too bothered by it - they were entitled to their opinions, and so long as they didn't break the law in voicing them, it wasn't really a problem.
Still - both as a mother and as an Enforcer - Fate was obligated to nip this behavior in the bud, before it became a recurring problem.
"Shinji," she began, "I'm glad that you care so much about us, but you can't use violence as your first solution to every problem that comes along. If he says something like that again, just try to ignore him. Understood?"
The boy was silent for a moment, and just watched the scenery go by. Eventually, he nodded. "... yeah."
Fate wasn't quite sure he really understood, but she let it go for the time being. "By the by, you said you wanted to try your hand at learning Strike Arts with Vivio?"
Shinji didn't face her as he said, "I'd rather not join Vivio's classes, if that's okay."
Fate frowned, asking, "Why not?"
The reply this time was immediate. "Vivio's a nice person. She'd try to help me become her equal. Rivals helping each other get stronger through competition, that kind of thing."
Not seeing the problem, Fate asked, "And what's wrong with that?"
"I've seen her spar a few times. Vivio is... amazing."
Fate certainly hadn't been expecting that kind of a reason - nor the reverent tone in which he'd said it - but she bade him continue.
"It's not just her skill, either. Her physical conditioning is at a level that I could never reach in the time she has, and I'm not some kind of genius who could pick up the ability needed to make up for it, either. I'd only slow her and everyone else down. Vivio and her friends deserve better than to have me dragging them down."
Arf, who'd been napping in the back seat, snarked, "Wow, kid, the confidence is rolling off of you in waves."
Shinji turned in his seat and stared at her, blank expression never changing.
After a while, Arf shivered and broke eye contact. "Geez. Someone apparently can't take a joke."
Shinji turned back to where he was, absently gazing out the window. "I knew you were joking. I just didn't laugh."
"Yeah, you never laugh. Or smile, or really emote much of anything. ... You're a real creepy kid, you know that?"
Attempting to bring the conversation back to its original topic, Fate summarised, "So what you're saying is that you don't think you can catch up to her?"
Shinji turned to face his guardian and bluntly asked, "Tell me honestly. Do you seriously believe I could?"
Fate, both as a mother-figure and as a friend, wanted to be supportive.
But as she thought about it, she found she couldn't really disagree with him. With a forlorn sigh, she said, "Shinji, you are one depressing boy, you know that?"
And she knew he meant it.
"Still, I think an old friend of mine's got some openings in his schedule, and I might get him to agree to a one-on-one class with you."
Shinji tilted his head. "'Him' who?"
Fate smiled. "That's a surprise."
This prologue starts just after Riot Force 6 dissolves, and concludes a few months before the events of Vivid.