Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ Battlestar Evangelion ❯ The Starchildren ( Chapter 2 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
By: Dartz_IRL And the great demon rose into the sky, carried by the avatari of the Gods almost to the stars themselves. Furious at his captivity, he strained against his righteous captors, tearing at his silver wings. With one great final roar of bloody hatred the Third Age of mankind was ended and the demon was cast to the stars for eternity.
Thus began the Fourth Age of man.
-New Creation Gospel ch26::vr01
Well, chapter two. This looks like something that could take off, or bubble away nicely in its own way. Anyway, enjoy the next chapter as, like Shinji, I settle into a Third Person style. If you have any opinions, don't be afraid to let me know, whatever they may be.
Apologies for the sheer length (11k) of the thing, but things needed to be done and needed to be done now. There's stuff that needs to be hinted at, and it can only really be done now, at least so it will be obvious my big `wow' moment wasn't made up on the spot.
Battlestar Galactica and Neon Genesis Evangelion are copyrighted works.
(NGE-Gainax-Hideaki Anno. BSG-Universal-Ronald.D Moore  & Glen A. Larson ).
Other stuff might be mentioned that's copyrighted.
I don't own anything.
It's just a bit of fun anyway.
I…………………… 8230;………………………… ……………………I
And the great demon rose into the sky, carried by the avatari of the Gods almost to the stars themselves. Furious at his captivity, he strained against his righteous captors, tearing at his silver wings. With one great final roar of bloody hatred the Third Age of mankind was ended and the demon was cast to the stars for eternity.
Thus began the Fourth Age of man.
-New Creation Gospel ch26::vr01
I…………………… 8230;………………………… ……………………I
Shinji stood alone, looking down over some great city far below him. A city he'd never seen, yet somehow seemed familiar to him.
A cool, refreshing breeze blew, wrapping his body and chilling his very bones, catching his shirt like a sail. It was a feeling the pale skinned boy had never known and he savoured it. The soft, wet grass carpet beneath his bare feet, the sweet smell of nectar on the mountain air, the chirping of insects, all were things the boy had read about, had heard described, but had never experienced first hand.
He closed his eyes and savoured every nuance of his dream, like an old chocolate sweet he'd once allowed to melt on his tongue for nearly an hour. He knew it had to be a dream, he'd never even set foot on true solid ground, but that couldn't stop him from enjoying these few moments of peace.
The fortress city glistened in the afternoon sun below him, each glass window a miniature sun flickering in the heat. Mist hugged the green and fawn mountains around him, rising on the wind up the steep slopes. Above him, the stars shone brightly, patterns traced out in the night sky above him.
The Tree of Life, the symbol of the Ten Colonies hung high above him, a brilliant shining white against the black night sky.
As he stared up, overawed at the shining path, he watched transfixed as one by one, the points of light flashed a brilliant blue, pure light and energy enveloping him as he collapsed peacefully back onto the grass of the mountainside, cold dew soaking through his shirt.
He was tired though, and he had to sleep.
So he did.
I…………………… 8230;………………………… ……………………I
Shinji was woken by some strange electronic tone, invading the peaceful privacy of his sleeping mind. Loud and shrill, it resonated throughout his thoughts, jarring him painfully from his peaceful slumber.
Another damned drill, it had to be.
His bed was too comfortable to leave for a shelter area in the bowels of the ship, not now anyway. Cold steel was not a pleasant thing to sleep against at whatever hour in the morning this was.
But it wasn't stopping.
Ringing in his ears, dragging his awareness kicking and screaming into the real world.
Slowly, he pushed himself upright in his bed, groggily rubbing his eyes beneath the harsh fluorescent lights of his cabin. A Crazy dream, a thankfully crazy nightmare. He'd been watching those old videos too much and he knew it.
And the smell of disinfectant tingling in his nostrils.
In his cabin?
“Where am I?” he slurred, blinking to clear his aching eyes.
He wasn't at home anyway.
It came as an immediate relief to find that the source of the electric tone was some machine beside him. He was almost elated that he didn't have to run to some freezing metal coffin in his nightwear.
`Infirmary,' he thought. `How did I get here?'
Grimacing, a shot of pain spasmed in his leg, tearing at his muscles. It was an echo of some great agony, running like a river of molten metal up his thigh and through his hip.
“Frack…What the? It hurts!”
“It hurts,” he cried out.
It couldn't have been real. It just couldn't. It had to have been a nightmare of some sort.
“It has to be.”
The stark white walls of his infirmary room surrounded him, a beeping cardiograph the source his morning wake-up call. And the name on the screen:
Pilot Ikari. S. -3c BSG 19 PACIFICA
He glanced out a pair of dinner-tray portholes, at the inky darkness of space beyond, and his reflection in the quartz glass. It was too bright to see the stars outside, he knew, but somehow that familiar view calmed him.
Sighing, he dropped back onto the bed, staring at the girders, ducting and lighting above him, sterile and clean like a hospital should be. Everything was in the wrong place.
I…………………… 8230;………………………… ……………………I
Misato cracked the stiff hatch open, being careful not to make a single sound. If he was sleeping, she didn't want to wake him. If she could help it, she didn't really want him to know she'd been there at all. She wasn't even sure why she came.
Was it pity?
Or was it guilt she'd dragged him into something he shouldn't have had to deal with, not until he'd come of age anyway.
“Spying are we?”
The captain jumped back with a start, her heart jumping a beat as a mysterious hand came down heavily on her shoulder.
“Frak Ritsuko,” she said, catching her breath. “Don't sneak up on me like that; I nearly ruined another dress thanks to you.”
“Hmmm,” the doctor grinned teasingly. “What are you doing here anyway? I thought the commander was supposed to be debriefing you today.”
“Yeah, well,” she grabbed her arm. “A Quorum meeting was called, so it's been put back until tomorrow. I thought I'd just check on him, see how he was doing.”
“Strange, yesterday, you two didn't seem to be getting on too well.”
“Yeah,” Misato sighed. “But there's just, I don't know, there's something about him.”
“Don't tell me you're interested in a fourteen year old boy now, are you?” the doctor grinned, hiding it behind her grey clipboard
“What? And this from a person who's so lonely they sometimes hold entire conversations with themselves?” the captain snapped back, hands on her hips.
Ritsuko revealed her true motives, savouring her old friend's embarrassment for a moment. She'd always been such an easy tease, and a few minutes of good humour were a nice way to break up the day. Misato just sighed, resting back against the bulkhead behind her.
“I won't deny it,” Ritsuko said. “It helps me think.”
“Sure it does.”
“So, if it's not a personal visit, why are you here then?” she pushed back.
“I guess,” the captain searched for an explanation. “I kinda feel sorry for the kid.”
Was that it, she wondered privately, pity? Brushing her fingers through her hair, she glanced through the porthole set in the hatch, Shinji stirring in his bed as he slept.
“Well, he did have an `exciting' day yesterday,”
“It's not that Rits, well, it's not only that. It's just, he's one of the first generation of starchildren, born in space since the evacuation. He's lived his entire life in a cabin on a converted freighter. The kid's probably never even set foot on solid ground, never known the feel of grass beneath his feet.”
“There're the bio-domes on the agri-ships.”
“That's different. It's only a substitute for the real thing. And now there's this.”
“Hmm,” Akagi nodded. “He wouldn't know any better. You can only miss things you remember having in the first place.”
Misato just watched Shinji sleep.
“Maybe we're not just talking about the boy here?” Ritsuko said.
“Oh knock it off Rits.” she swatted playfully, as if it was nothing.
“I've got to go check on Rei, want to go to the bar later, play a few games of triad?”
“Only if you feel like losing your rations for the next week.” The captain challenged with a grin.
“And this from the person who's losing the weight?”
“Bah,” Misato snorted. “Perhaps you should stick to talking to yourself. With tact like that you'd make a lousy psychiatrist.”
The doctor allowed herself a private chuckle as she strolled down the corridor. She could've stayed there all day if she'd wanted to and Misato would have still fallen into her little traps. It gave her a strange satisfaction to do it, the green eyed doctor enjoying making the former pilot squirm. But, work had to be done, and the Commanders pet needed seeing to. Gods forbid Rei's bedpan being slightly too full or her medication being late by ten minutes.
At least he wasn't following her today.
And for that, the doctor was most thankful.
Captain Katsuragi just watched the boy, slipping the door open, just wide enough so she could stand. It was pity, she thought a she watched Shinji sleep, pity for his generation. Maybe the doctor was right as well; maybe she was feeling sorry for herself. Even after nearly twenty years, homesickness was an epidemic throughout the fleet.
Shinji just lay there, curled up in his bed, with his back to the captain.
“You did good Shinji. You saved everyone. Enjoy your sleep.”
Then she closed the door with a muffled thunk, leaving him to sleep. A growl from her gut reminded her of Ritsuko's challenge. She pulled on her loose uniform pants, snapping them back against her thinning waistline.
“I really am going to have to start winning. I'm going to starve otherwise.”
In his bed, Shinji covered his head.
Maybe, if he fell back asleep he'd wake up in his own bed and discover that this had all just been a nightmare.
I…………………… 8230;………………………… ……………………I
Commander Gendou Ikari sat, supporting himself on his laced fingers. The delegates from the ten colonies surrounded him, each sitting at their own place at the round Quorum table. If he was truthful with himself, he would rather have been somewhere, anywhere else other than that stuffy Quorum chamber. The core of an enemy Base-star was beginning to seem like heaven compared to a darkened room full of self important old bastards. It almost stank of corruption and sweat.
“….And the use of two nuclear weapons against a single enemy ship.” The Chokmah representative slapped the action reports against the table. “Two of the most valuable, effective and scarce weapons we have. They don't exactly grow on trees you know.”
Gendou had always thought that, with his pointed nose he could almost look like a rat. He certainly sounded like one.
“In my judgement as Commander it was necessary. The Seraphim had to be destroyed. It was my belief that those weapons would be sufficient to deal with the threat, based on available information.
“But it failed, wasting the weapons. And when you did finally deal with it, your Pilot caused more damage to the fleet than the Saura….Seera…”
“Seraphim,” his aide whispered.
“Seraphim yes. The Astral Queen has had to be placed in tow and…”
“Yes, we have lost quite a bit in this last scrap.” Colonial president, and delegate from planet Keter, Keel Lorenz interrupted him. “But, I assure you, just jumping away would not have sufficed in this case.”
He spoke in grating, mechanical tones, his larynx long since replaced by an electronic implant, as had been his eyes and most of his spine. Gendou often wondered how old the oldest man of the council really was.
“And why not?” The Binah representative questioned. “It's worked for seventeen bloody years!”
Cries of agreement resonated through the chamber.
“Perhaps the Commander is getting old and infirm, indecisive and stuck in his ways,” he accused. “He's going senile.”
How frustrating and petty these 'men' were. For an instant Gendou felt as if he could punch him right between his immaculate teeth. And maybe follow up with a blow to his oversized gut. What he ate in a week, would normally feed a family for a month.
“Maybe it's time for him and the military to step down and stop arbitrarily deciding our fate each time we're attacked. Making irrational gambles with the human race, with our entire species' existence, without the consent of the people or this council, it's a wonder we aren't all dead years ago.”
“It is precisely because of those `irrational gambles' you speak off,” Gendou said unflustered, “that we are all still alive today.”
“Here here!” A solitary voice rang out.
“Not all of us.” the obese man corrected, “forty seven thousand, six hundred and thirty three, as of this morning.”
“It's better than none.”
A distasteful truth, but the truth nonetheless. There was no arguing with that, though Gendo was sure the old men would try and find a way.
“Commander.” Keel spoke eventually. “The undisputable fact right now is that, because of the damages incurred, the fleet requires a safe place where they can repair and refit. Have scouting patrols located any nearby planetoids where this may be accomplished?”
“Gentlemen,” the commander said, simultaneously wondering if they even deserved the simple honorific title. “Our scouts have reported a suitable system three jumps away. If you'll open your files to page thirty seven, you'll find their report on the system, designated KTM21.”
The shuffling and tearing of recycled paper was deafening.
“This is an algae planet, less than a billion years old. The atmosphere is barely breathable,” The Chokmah rodent complained.
They had to find a problem with everything, didn't they? Something to complain about and make themselves feel self important
“It will suffice. Spectral imaging suggests useable tylium deposits, potable water and simple, edible organic vegetation. We've been on worse.”
Again, there were grumbles of grudging agreement from the assembled men.
“Motion is to set fleet course to system KTM21. All in agreement, raise your arms and say `Aye',” Keel instructed.
“Aye!” eight voices answered.
“All opposed, say `Nay'.”
“Nay,” The Binah Minister answered, one solitary voice of begrudging disagreement.
“Motion passed,” the president range the small bell, a metallic ring echoing off the chambers grey walls. “Is there any other business gentlemen?”
There was no answer.
“Very well. Quorum dismissed.” he rang the bell three times.
Silently, the old men shuffled out of the room, down to the launchbays and shuttles back to their respective ships. Whispers of malcontent rippled through the council members, aides quietly nodding in agreement. It was no different really to the hundred of other meetings over the years, after every attack, accident and asteroid; the old men just had to make their displeasure known.
Keel and Ikari were left alone in the room, staring at each other from across the table.
“You play a dangerous game Ikari.” the president warned. “These men have support among the populace.”
“The Quorum is nothing but an unnecessary hindrance. It always has been. You said yourself it will get in the way of our efforts.” Gendou said.
“A long time ago,” Keel reminded. “It is necessary to quiet the masses. Without it, there would be full scale riots throughout the fleet. We're barely able to maintain order as it is. There're already cries on some scowls for your removal from command and replacement with a civilian authority.”
The Commander knew what that really meant.
"So they wish to consolidate their own power, and ruin us all in the process.”
“We need them. If we are to turn on ourselves, then everything we have done to bring us this close will have been for nothing. The search for Malkhut has been, and always will be, our top priority. If we fail…”
“If we fail,” Gendou interrupted. “Humanity is finished.”
I…………………… 8230;………………………… ……………………I
Sleeping was good.
Shinji knew that.
In his dreams he could at least hide from the psychotic space captain who was now leading him through the stark white corridors of the infirmary. They were different from the rest of the ship, being wider, to let the trolleys pass. Through locked ward doors he could hear the occasional pained cry, muffled somewhat by sheet steel plate. The people who had been hurt in the battle.
Occasionally, they'd pass an orange suited mechanic or technician, scorched, burnt and bloodied, sitting on a trolley waiting their turn for treatment. Shinji knew that each one was watching him, blaming him with accusatory eyes, wishing for him to suffer like they were.
Someone lay covered by a white, blood spattered sheet.
It was what his father had told him.
“It will be your fault Shinji. If they are harmed it will be because you refused to protect them.”
Those words rang in his ears like the fading chime of a bell. My fault, he thought. I piloted that thing and people still got hurt.
“Hey!” someone called after him.
Footsteps rattled the deck, running hard up behind him, the owner panting hard. To Shinji, it sounded almost as if they were about to hack their own lungs onto the plates.
“Can I help you?” Misato asked with a polite smile.
Another technician, bent double, gasping for air.
“Yeah,” he wheezed. “I'm looking for my younger sister. Kara, Kara Suzahara; she was hurt during the battle. I need to find her.”
He was a boy, barely Shinji's age, his eyes frantic. Shinji swallowed bile. His younger sister he'd said. His younger sister had been hurt during the battle. It was his fault, Shinji knew, his and his alone. If he hadn't waited, if he hadn't protested, if he hadn't missed the fracking shuttle the day before, then maybe Kara Suzahara would've been standing there with her brother.
“I'm sorry.” Misato smiled apologetically. “I don't know where she is. Find Doctor Ritsuko Akagi, she should know.”
“Thank you.” The young tech nodded.
Shinji wanted to throw up, looking up at this boy his own age, yet somehow towering above him, pushing him down into the deckplates. He was responsible for the girls suffering. He, and only he, was responsible for the pain and suffering surrounding him. And if he admitted it to anyone, then chances are he'd end up beaten, punished, cast out and abandoned from society.
And guilt and responsibility still gnawed at the back of his skull. He had to say something; he had to admit something, anything. Honesty was a virtue, his guardian had always told him. Yet the truth could sometimes hurt. A necessary pain he'd always been told, but somehow, speaking the truth didn't seem to be worth a broken jaw.
But he had to say something.
“I apologise for what happened to your sister,” he stuttered out.
The boy regarded him with his brown eyes, and Shinji was terrified that maybe any moment, he'd be sprawled on the deck, bleeding and being beaten to a pulp. Why did he have to say something?
“Thank you,” the tech nodded.
And he left, running off, searching for the name Captain Katsuragi had given him.
Shinji was almost shivering.
Misato placed a warm hand, heavy on his shoulder. The teenager looked up into the Captains still, somehow, cheerful face.
“You still did the right thing Shinji,” she said. “Now come with me, we'll get your quarters on this ship sorted out.”
In her mind, the green-jacketed captain found a strange idea taking shape in her kind. It was one of those thoughts, one of those ideas that was like a persistent weed. Once it had taken root in her mind, it was impossible to eradicate. Every time she tried to kill it, it just came back stronger. It wasn't necessarily a good idea, it sure didn't seem like it, but try as she might, she just couldn't dismiss it. There was something about the sullen teenager, the way his grey eyes always seemed to be cast down on the floor three feet in front of him, that couldn't help but elicit feelings of pity.
Or was it sympathy?
Misato wasn't sure. Though an empty rumble deep in her stomach only served to give merit to her crazy idea.
A few extra ration credits would be handy in any event. It would certainly make up for her recent losses at the tables. And then there were the advancement possibilities. She'd been Captain and CAG for four years now, since her injury, maybe it was time for a promotion?
Shinji merely followed just a few paces behind.
Quarters on this ship, she'd said. It didn't take too much deduction on his part to figure out what that implied.
“That means I'll have to Pilot again,” he spoke to himself, pausing to glance out a dark porthole and the uniform cloak of space. He couldn't even see his home. He didn't want to see the robot. The youth was sure it was still out there, that monster machine.
And still there was that painful cramp in his leg, reminding him of something he prayed he could forget.
I…………………… 8230;………………………… ……………………I
27 hours earlier…
A coffin, that's what it reminded Shinji off.
A steel tube, like the ones in old movies the vampire used to appear from, right before they sucked the blood from the blonde maiden. It didn't help his claustrophobia that he was wearing a heavy plastic flight suit and pressure helmet, fabric wrapped hosing running between him and the almost cradle type seat he was sitting in. The weighty blue suit was already sweating his body, the glass faceplate misting up more with every breath.
How was he supposed to fight if he couldn't even see the controls?
He should never have agreed to this. Never.
Shinji closed his eyes and tried to relax back, but the ejection seat didn't want to let him. The cradle like cockpit was cramped, hot and uncomfortable, five LCD viewscreens being his only window on the outside world. What looked like a bodged cockpit assembly from an old viper was in front of him, with two mysterious control throttles.
It definitely looked like a fighter cockpit, at least, as far as he could tell. He didn't know what any of the indicators, dials, bells and whistles meant.
“How am I supposed to fly this thing?” he wondered out loud.
And what use was a bipedal war machine in space anyway?
Why couldn't they just use fighters or nukes?
“You will be instructed,” a voice spoke into his ear. “So don't worry.”
He looked away from the dials in front of him, to a smiling face on the display to his right. Framed by a window marked `CC::Kat' was the perennially cheerful captain who'd brought him to what would likely be his final resting place.
And that dampness spreading around his waist, trickling down his legs and pooling in his boots.
`How embarrassing,' he thought shamefully. Everyone would laugh at him now, he was sure of it.
CC-Kat: “We're flooding your suit with LCL. Don't worry, it's perfectly breathable.”
For an instant, that came as a relief to the youth that the wetness hadn't come from him. `But what could she possibly mean by `breathable liquid'?' he wondered. As other voices discussed settings and systems he couldn't hope to comprehend, Shinji's attention was nervously focused on the wetness rising up his chest.
He was going to drown.
That was it, he was going to die. The logical part of his mind just short circuited, the foul smelling liquid creeping inexorably past his neck. Gasped, panicked breaths heaved great gulps of air into his lungs, his rapid respiration ringing in his helmet. Rapidly, he searched for some escape, gripping his helmet with his hands in a frantic attempt to rip it off.
One last breath, he was sure it would be the last and the foul fluid closed in around him, covering his head. His lungs burned for just one more breath, voices reassuring him the liquid was breathable drowned by the hammering of his panicked heart against his chest.
He swallowed his breath, forcing it back down.
But he couldn't hold it.
Instinct overrode his conscious mind, his body dumping the wasted breath, bubbling up in his suit. He gasped for fresh air, his lungs flooding with the orange fluid instead. Instantly, his body rejected the liquid, coughing, retching, painfully trying to expel the fluid from his lungs. Shinji knew he was about to die.
In the launch control room overlooking the hanger, Misato watched the boy convulse in the entry plug, struggling to deal with the LCL.
“Should we do something?” She asked the doctor beside her.
“There is nothing we can do.”
“If his body rejects the LCL?”
“That shouldn't happen,” Ritsuko reassured, speaking into the screens in front of her. “His profile doesn't match those who would usually be affected. I'm afraid he'll just have to suck it up.”
She grinned at Captain Katsuragi beside her.
“Bad pun Rits, bad pun.”
To Shinji's lasting surprise, he felt himself breathing normally. Rapidly, still panicking and gasping, but not drowning. The youth could feel the fluid flowing through his lungs, trickling up and down his throat with every breath, gurgling into his stomach.
“I feel sick,” he groaned
CC-Aka: “Do not vomit,” the doctor warned. “If you vomit it could kill you.”
A repeat of last week's accident was something Ritsuko didn't need.
CC-Kat: “Deal with it. You're a boy aren't you?”
Shinji could only grumble something under his breath, almost glaring at the purple haired avatar on the viewscreen beside him. Why did this have to happen to him?
Through his displays, he could see the walls of the hanger, and the control rooms above him. He could see figures, shadows looking down at him. `Was one of them his father?' he wondered.
He couldn't tell.
He didn't know the old man had already returned to the bridge.
In the control room, Misato herself was staring down into the glowing white eyes of the purple mech. `Why does he have to do this?' he asked herself, looking away to the busy Ritsuko Akagi. `Why was it so necessary that he, and only he, had to be picked up and brought here?'
Why couldn't they use a trained Pilot?
“Misato,” the blond doctor interrupted her musings. “He's going to need guidance. Do you have the control manuals there?”
“I think,” she fumbled in a drawer beneath the console. “Yeah, I got it why?”
“As CAG, it's your job to instruct new viper pilot's, am I right?”
“Yes,” she admitted. “But this is a little different?”
“Not by much,” Ritsuko said, “He needs someone with experience.”
“But….” It was useless. “I suppose,” The captain sighed.
And there was the `Zack' incident. One wrong instruction, one mistake, and someone could get killed. She didn't want to see the boy harmed, she knew that. The Commander had told him any injuries in the fleet would be his fault. Misato couldn't help but feel that if the boy was harmed, it would be her fault.
It wouldn't be the first time, she noted privately.
Being a pilot was easier than command, less responsibility, more action and a lot more fun. And less of a conscience to deal with when something goes TU.
“Primary fuelling complete,” the orange suited tech reported. “Battery cells charged. Spaceframe elements at ninety-eight point eight percent nominal operating efficiency.”
“And the underlying organic elements?” the doctor questioned.
“Organic metabolism within safety limits,” he answered. “Core energy negative. Solenoid effect below supercharge threshold.”
It brought a satisfying grin to her face, watching each individual indicator light up safe. The Pilots lifesigns were excited, to say the least, but stable. The mech itself even seemed to be cooperating. O-nine, they'd called it, or more colloquially, `The Devil'. It was based on a probability estimate the Espers had given but she couldn't help but wonder if the original designers had had that old legend in mind when they'd built it.
It certainly matched the descriptions of a few legendary demons she'd read about. But they were just legends, nothing more. If this was a demon, then it was controlled, stable, safe beneath layers of armour, restraints and restrictors. Years of her labour were bearing fruit before her eyes, the dull eyes of the machine beginning to shine up at her.
“Open primary synchronisation circuits,” she directed.
“Circuits one through thirty four open,” a voice answered. “Synchronicity threshold has been crossed.”
In his cockpit, Shinji listened with growing confusion as he began to feel this strange tingle inside the back of his skull. It felt almost is if some tiny tendrils were slowly snaking their way into his mind, sensations creeping into his awareness. It was a strange sensation, his body feeling as if it was gaining more weight by the second. He could feel himself held back, something gripping hard against his arms and shoulders. Behind it all, was something….else, he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
An emotion perhaps?
He searched for more.
Sadness, a longing, a great loneliness underlying everything, drawing his mind down into this strange abyss of sorrow, bringing tears to his eyes. Staring down, it felt to the boy that just for an infinitesimal instant some…thing was staring back at him.
“Hold it there,” the doctor's voice intruded. “Keep at least fifty percent below the borderline.”
It bounced back with a jolt, Shinji blinking to clear his vision as he struggled to understand what was going on.
“What's happening?” he questioned to whoever would listen.
“Misato,” Ritsuko gave the captain her cue
“Alright,” she gave in. “But I should be on the bridge, not down here.” She juggled the plastic radio handset and folded paper between her hands and shoulders, struggling to find that elusive combination that would allow her to speak and read at the same time
CC::Kat: “The Evangelion is a techno-organic weapons system designed for space based combat,” she read. “It consists of an organic tissue substrate onto which mechanical control systems, thrusters and armour plating are grafted. You understand that?”
She sure as hell didn't.
From Unit 01: “Sort of,” the boy's wireless distorted voice answered.
If he'd been truthful, it would only have prolonged his time sitting in his metal tomb. It didn't sound that important to the teenager anyway.
CC::Kat: “Okay, that's good. Anyway, the controls you see are for the mechanical components. The two hand throttles control your RCS thrusters for pitch and roll; the rudder pedals control your yaw angle.”
To Shinji, she could have been talking about an inverse tachyon field for all he understood. Green glowing displays hummed before him, dials and pressure gauges diligently announcing data the bewildered youth couldn't hope to comprehend.
She knew he didn't.
From Unit01: “Um…sort of,” Shinji answered.
He didn't want her to know he didn't.
CC:Kat: “Don't worry about that anyway,” she departed from the text, seeing he was a lost cause. “You'll pick it up in space; it's pretty simple once you get the hang of it.”
`He'll have to,' she noted.
“Yeah, once I get the hang of it,” Shinji commented under his breath.
“Oh, and somehow mass genocide is less of a mortal sin than this!”
Silence fell as those in the control room stared at the source of the outburst. Dr Akagi grimaced and buried her face shamefully in her hands. They already thought she was crazy. Running her fingers through her dyed hair, she was sure her tormentor was still behind her smiling in that detached, inhuman manner she'd come to hate.
The voice of her former classmate snapped her out of it.
“What was that about?” Misato questioned.
“Nothing,” she waved it off. “Just been getting no sleep, what with Rei's accident and everything. The hours are beginning to catch up on me, that's all.”
Was that an instant of disbelief the doctor saw in Misato's eyes? It hadn't exactly sounded like her best excuse, but, on this occasion at least, it had been the truth. But she could still hear the hidden whispers behind her back, spoken when it was thought she couldn't.
“Next one out the airlock,” they were saying. “Section D, for sure this time.”
She couldn't blame them for it really.
Captain Katsuragi watched her for a moment, before returning to the manual in her hands. Noisily, she flicked through it, searching for something that seemed important.
CC::Kat: “Shinji,” she began again. “This is important. Your EVA's organic components are self sustaining, but it's got only fifteen minutes of fuel for it's thrusters, give or take. Once that's gone that's it, you're dead in space.”
`Dead in space.' The boy thought ruefully, `Couldn't she have picked a friendlier sounding phrase?'
But he was going to do it, he was resigned to that much at least.
“Status of Evangelion Unit 01.” The gravel voice of the Commander demanded.
“Ready for launch,” Ritsuko answered quickly.
Misato just watched the boy onscreen as he looked up, almost seeming to look pleadingly at her.
“Launch the Evangelion,” The Commander ordered.
Slowly, Shinji felt himself to move, the fluid in his suit sloshing to his feet as the Eva began to rise. He could sense the great cradle supporting the giant biomech pulling against his arms and shoulders. It was almost an ethereal sensation. The more he tried to grasp at it with his mind and understand it, the further it would retreat from him, slipping through the fingers of his consciousness like smoke.
There was something more to this machine that what the Captain had tried to tell him, he knew. He could feel the energy of it washing through him, tingling in his chest and at its fingertips.
Maybe it was just his own natural terror, his own fears prickling like static on the back of his neck.
Wire frame diagrams flashed from red to green beside him, surrounding what he guessed was an image of himself, or his mechanic. All six locks showed open. Above his head, the steel hatch cracked open, the atmosphere roaring out into the black void, a frozen fog of vapour followed by airless vacuum.
From::Control: “Launch Bay Depressurised”
CC::Kat: “Good hunting Shinji.”
The floodlit walls of the hanger gave way to the darkness of outer space, the pock marked and combat scarred hull of the ancient battlestar laid out in front of him. The lift came to a halt, the purple coloured biomech standing nearly one hundred meters tall on the topside of the four kilometre long warship, arms folded
Slowly, a pair of silver metal wings telescoped out from the thruster pack on the back of the techno-organoid. To the untrained observer, the EVA could look almost like it was wearing a backpack, bracing cables and structural supports running across the polished purple armour of the machine. White thrusters strapped to the calves and forearms hissed and smoked, heavy duty carbon alloy clamps springing free, releasing the monster machine from it's restraints.
Shinji saw himself begin to drift away from the starship, micro-gravity bubbling in his stomach, crawling up his throat like a worm. His body was telling him he was strapped tight to the cockpit, his LCD windows showing him moving steadily away from the launchpad.
From Unit 01: “What do I do?” he asked, gulping down the vomit rising in his throat. The unwilling pilot remembered all too clearly the warning the blonde doctor had given him.
CC::Kat: “Gently thrust forward,” the electronic image of Captain Katsuragi directed. “Push your two throttles forward.”
From Unit 01: “Roger.”
The youth looked at his controls, loosely gripping the throttles in his hands.
“Okay,” he gathered his thoughts. “Just push forward.”
Just don't screw up.
The handles clicked faintly, something humming menacingly far beneath him. For a fraction of a second, Shinji was surprised to find that nothing was happening, the EVA still just slowly drifting away from the silent battlestar. `Did I do something wrong?' he wondered.
And so he pushed forward again.
Immediately, it was as if someone had kicked him in the back, engines roaring distantly. The machines engines flared a bright hydrogen blue, throwing the mecha forward with a brain jellying jolt that rattled the EVA's pilot to the core.
Again, Shinji spun head over heals, his senses doing cartwheels as he struggled to orient himself. The LCD windows struggled to keep up with the spin, white stars streaking past, Shinji only able to catch fleeting glimpses of the rapidly receding battlestar, looking more like a smoke trailing ant the further away it was, and that glowing ball he guessed was the enemy he was supposed to be fighting.
“Use RCS to stabilise,” A distant voice directed. “Just gentle movements, pitch it up out of the spin.”
It might have been the Captain, he couldn't tell. He could tell top from up from down, top from bottom, the grin line HUD displays spinning like a washing machine. He wanted to puke, he could taste it, feel it gurgling up inside his throat as if his insides were being turned inside out.
CC::Kat: “Focus on your HUD Shinji,” The captain's voice instructed, he was sure it was her. “Find the artificial horizon and focus on that. It should be right in front of you. Can you see it?”
It was almost as if a hand had reached down and pulled his mind from it's whirlpool. Blinking, he searched for something that could be what she was talking about.
CC:Kat: “A green circle marked in radians, it's got a line through it, can you see it?”
His eyes locked on it, spinning furiously in front of him.
From Unit 01: “I see it, I think,” he answered greenly.
CC:Kat: “Good, focus only on that, only on what direction it's moving. Can you see which way it's spinning?”
It was all he could do to separate the dial in front of him from the whirling mass of blackness and colour that surrounded him. A single green line spiralling through the circled horizon, spiralling and looping back in over itself.
From Unit 01: “It's spinning right, and then going over itself backwards.”
At least that's what he thought it was doing. He doubted if it was doing a Colonial Day march he'd be able to tell the difference.
CC::Kat: “Very Good,” she stated again, her voice laced with reassuring encouragement. “Now slowly thrust against it, one dimension at a time. Gently fire your thrusters and cancel one direction at a time.”
`Okay,' Shinji thought. `Now how do I fire the thrusters again?'
On a blind, instinctive whim, he pushed with his foot, the pedal dropping compliantly. He wasn't sure what it had done, but he felt it had done something. Maybe this wasn't as hard as it looked. Thrusters studding the mech's arms and legs flashed white gas as the struggling Pilot pulled at every combination of controls he could think of.
Whether by luck, or something called an AIRS stabiliser that was flashing enthusiastically on his display, the nauseating spin slowed and stopped, Shinji's whirling head taking a few seconds to catch up. Ahead of him now, relayed through his five electronic windows, was that ever present blackness of space, punctuated by a few dim points of light.
Two of the brighter ones were highlighted with their own green circle. Ships of the fleet, Shinji guessed. Slowly, gently, he rotated himself around, watching the numbers tick past him. He saw the Pacifica, now seemingly hopelessly distant, trailing orange sparkles behind it.
He just wanted to get his feet back on solid decking again, it didn't matter where.
And then there was the thing he had come to fight, this brilliant mysterious glowing orb, that even through the numerous digital and electronic filters, seemed to penetrate to his very soul. The boy could see it, advancing towards him slowly, inexorably. He knew he was terrified, Shinji's heart was hammering against his ribs, pounding like a jackhammer as the monster drew near.
CC::Kat: “Shinji, you have missiles, launch them at the target.”
The boys mind just froze as he stared at this awesome object.
CC::Kat “Shinji!” Misato yelled. “Answer me!”
She could see his image on her screen, staring blankly ahead, his lips quivering with each breath. He didn't have the chops for this. She'd know it, but she'd let him go out there anyway.
“Activate automatic recall,” she barked. “Bring him back.”
She wasn't going to leave him out there to die.
“Belay that!,” Ritsuko cut in. “He has to stay out there.”
“You can't be serious.”
“I'm deadly serious,” Ritsuko said. “The Commanders orders were quite explicit.”
“He's going to die!” Misato yelled.
They would leave him to his death so they could escape, was that their plan? To buy time with the life of a child? She'd given similar orders herself, sent Pilots on missions she knew they wouldn't be coming back from, but still, to do it with a kid sickened her.
“He is safer sitting in that Evangelion than we are here.” The doctor said, somehow managing to remain calm. “Trust me on this, he will not be harmed.”
“How can you…”
An icy stare from the doctor cut her off mis sentence.
“Alright.” The Captain relented, glaring at the blonde woman for a moment, before returning her attention to Shinji on the screen.
But still she wondered, `How in hell could Shinji be safer in that machine, than we are on board a million tonne battlestar?'
On the still smoky bridge, Commander Ikari stared at the EVA, hanging motionless in space. The screens flickered, waves of static running across the images they displayed. The sudden occasionally crackle of a short circuit frying mixed with the panicked voice of another engineer reporting some new hurt to the ship. Hyuga was still trying to outrun the Seraphim, his hands bloodied by the smashed panel, but with one engine dead, there wasn't much hope of that.
It was still following; it's brilliant, burning light silhouetting Unit 01. It almost seemed as if it was about to envelope the EVA, to assimilate it within its luminous body.
Lieutenant Ibuki looked as if she could collapse beneath the weight of information flowing through her station, the brunette, still struggling to separate desperate pleas for aid from calm damage reports and demands from Pilot's to be launched.
“Are you sure this will work?” Fuyutski asked.
“Of course,” The elder Ikari answered. “It will have to, we don't have anything else.”
“And if it doesn't?”
Gendou didn't answer. His gaze stayed fixed on the purple machine.
Lieutenant Aoba watched the information in front of him, data streaming from the ships sensors to his station. He could see the target on DRADIS, thermal and ultraviolet spectrums of the target. What he saw next made his blood run cold.
“Particle radiation signature from the target!”
The Commander grunted.
“Directed at us?”
“Negative,” he answered. “What the….”
He swallowed his words. It was almost incomprehensible, what he was seeing on the screens in front of him. Veins of shining energy boiling up from the surface of the Seraphim, arcing like lighting into space before falling back into the space monster.
Strange as it seemed, that's what it was doing.
“The energy feeding back into its body, it's changing shape, it's doing something.”
But what by the Barons of Hell could it be?
Slowly, six great golden wings of pure, crackling energy unfurled from within the light, spreading and folding around Unit 01. Shinji wanted to scream, he wanted to pull away, he desperately wanted to do something, anything, but his body wouldn't answer his commands.
He watched as the glowing spheroid, warped and boiled, stretching in front of him into some great, silver skinned, vaguely humanoid form. It was staggeringly beautiful, and yet, at the same time, utterly terrifying. From hunched shoulders, a face stared at him, two dark eyes and what looked like the hooked beak of a bird.
Shinji screamed. A blood curdling scream of such absolute and pure terror that it resonated across the wireless, chilling the heart of everyone who heard it.
CC::Kat: “Get you're fracking ass out of there!” Misato yelled.
“Help me!” he cried, “Somebody please help me,” the boy pleaded. “I don't want to die in here!”
As if hearing his voice, the face of the Seraphim lowered, the black holes of its eyes darkly burning its way through his soul. Electronic alarms screamed warnings as he saw a new blue fire take hold, flickering menacingly in the monster's pits.
And instantly, a searing light, brighter than a thousand burning suns, consumed him.
Immediately, Shinji felt his chest explode, the breath blasting from his lungs as a boiling heat roasted his body, cooking him to the core. A grasped, pained cry escaped him as his mech was thrown backwards, tumbling and smouldering through space, fuels and oxygen tanks ruptured, trailing smoke and debris as the damaged machine spun out of control.
“Damn it,” Misato punched a panel in front of her. “You told me he would be safe!” she snapped.
“He still is,” Ritsuko answered. “Just wait.”
“No, `just wait'.” The Captain shouted, smacking the panel again. “He'll die and you know it, so stop feeding me this feldergarb and activate the recall.”
She could've almost ripped the Doctor from her seat and done it herself.
“I suggest you do what she says. To destroy one of Gods great creations may be forgivable, in time. But to destroy an innocent child in the process, that is true mortal sin.”
His voice rang through Akagi's mind once more as she tried to focus on her job. Just focus on her work, on her task and how to do it, that's all she had to do.
“I can't,” she spoke through gritted teeth. “If Shinji does not destroy this Seraphim now, then we all die.”
Her composure was cracking, and they both knew it.
“Feldergarb!” Katsuragi spat, “And you know it. For fracks sake Rits, the first thing we're taught is that he who fight's and runs away, lives to fight another day.”
“For conventional opponent, yes, but this thing is more dangerous than anything we've faced before,” her logical ice returned, sending a chill down the Captains spine. “It can outrun, and outgun us. If we jump away, it will follow us. There will be no respite, no escape, it is relentless. If we do not defeat it now, it will destroy us entirely. If we lose here, all we can do is buy time before the inevitable.”
Misato shivered, glancing at the image of the spinning Unit 01, the pained look on the face of the Pilot, and the deadly green eyes of her friend. Swallowing her words she shook down a memory she didn't want to repeat.
“I know Ritsuko,” she said quietly. “But…”
She lowered her head, resting against a panel marked `Fluid Transfer.'
“Never mind. Just an uncomfortable reminder, that's all,” she forced a smile.
Unit 01 tumbled out of control, its pilot thrashing in his cockpit as he tried to cool the fire burning in his chest.
CC::Kat: “It's not real Shinji,” he heard the Captain say. “You will feel damage to the organic components of the EVA as if they have happened to your own body. It is not real pain.”
From Unit 01: “That's easy for you to say.” he cried out, his voice gargling in the liquid. “It hurts!”
The EVA spiralled backwards at a dizzying speed, silently spinning away from the seraphim. The occasionally, panicked flare of a thruster did nothing to halt its plunge into the depths of space. Alarms belted warnings of system failures, of damage to power lines a structural members, but all Shinji's mind, could focus on was the agony burning through his chest.
Burst oxygen lines fanned the smouldering flames licking out from between melted armour panels, lubricant oils and flesh burning fitfully beneath the damaged panels.
With a devastating crash, the machine smashed into the blue painted hull of the Astral Queen. Being a freighter, the ships unarmoured hull tore open like tinfoil, the pressurised atmosphere bursting free into the void of space, billowing out in a shining cloud of vapour, dragging silver debris and stunned, struggling crewmen with it. A frame spar, or some other strong piece of structure punched through the machines leg, red blood spraying out from the wound, the Pilot screaming beneath the absolute agony of his new injury.
Shinji finally just curled up into a ball, sobbing in his helmet as the realisation that his life was about to end took hold. There was no escape. He remembered thinking how much the cockpit reminded him of a coffin, of course, now it would be his coffin.
He thought he could feel someone brushing their hand against his cheek. He thought he could hear Misato's voice ordering him to regain control and fight back. He thought he could smell what might have been fruit.
`Just as long as it doesn't hurt,' he thought finally.
Immediately, a surge of impossible energy wracked his body, an intense power rising from beneath him. He braced himself, expecting his final moments to be defined by the shrieking agony of another blast, but nothing came.
Unsure of himself, he looked around, rainbow patterns shimmering across the cockpit walls, the instruments in front of him going haywire.
“Frack!” Ritsuko jumped back from her screens, stunning Misato momentarily.
The horrified look on the doctor's face terrified Misato, simply because it was something she'd never seen before. She looked at the image of the EVA on screen
“It's activating,” Ritsuko stuttered. “Dear God's the core is activating,”
Immediately, there was a blare of alarms, as one by one, readouts and data displays, flashed red, before cutting to static. An image of Shinji stared back across the electronic gulf, a terrified plea for help, before it to dissolved into static.
“Synchronisation ratio has passed the absolute borderline,” a tech announced. “It's doubling every second,”
“What does that mean?” The CAG's gaze flashed between, the doctor, the tech, and the image of Unit 01, slowly lifting itself from the wreckage of the Astral Queens engine section.
“It's alive,” Akagi said, her voice shaking.
The doctor watched with growing horror as signal pulses and control lines began to reverse.
“Solenoids have passed supercharge threshold,” she heard someone say. “Net energy generation in the mitochondrial pathways.”
“Synchronisation ratio has passed upper threshold limit,” The blonde doctor said.
She didn't want to believe what she was seeing on the screen in front of her. Logically, physically evenit just wasn't possible, but there it was, the raw data staring her in the face.
With one final bassoon roar, echoing across the void, ringing in the minds of every single man woman and child alive, the God machine declared its freedom in the most spectacular way possible.
An almost hushed, terrified silence fell on the bridge, stunned crewmembers staring at the stuttering images on the viewscreen wondering just what this monster was
Commander Ikari smirked beneath his laced hands.
“You planned for this,” Fuyutski commented
“Yes,” Gendou answered. “The battle is over.”
The EVA surged forward on a pillar of burning blue fire, ramming itself hard into the body of the Seraphim. Carrying its momentum, it pushed forward, charging through the ether, with the struggling humanoid vainly searching for a way out of the biomechs crushing bearhug. Desperately, it tried to blast its way free, its particle beam tracing a glowing arc across the void, orange fire blossoming distantly where it struck two starships.
Unit 01 headbutted it between the eyes, driving the point of its horn deep into the silver flesh before wrenching it free with a savage, bone smashing crunch that resonated through the machines structure, announcing itself over relay microphones and wireless signals to those watching on.
“What is that thing?” Misato wondered out loud, her mind overloading with thoughts, concerns for the safety of its Pilot, fears that it may not stop after it defeats the Seraphim.
There was something so utterly primeval, so absolutely terrifying about this beast that the Pilot couldn't help but wonder if maybe there wasn't a reason it looked like the demons of legend. Could it have been a warning perhaps, by the original builders, or a reference by some religious engineer who saw the power of what he had created and gave it the form to match it's function. If you build a demon, why not make it look like one?
Blue blood sprayed across the armour of the rampaging Evangelion, shred of dripping flesh hanging from its horn. Perhaps realising it was finally defeated, the Seraphim took the only option available to it.
In a fraction of a second, it self immolated.
And, for a brief instant in time, a new sun was born.
A brilliant fireball, hundreds of kilometres across consumed both monsters entirely, the burning heat reaching out and touching all those who had been watching through distant windows.
“All readings lost,” someone's voice said.
Immediately, Misato came to one, gut wrenching conclusion. No matter how safe the boy could have been within his mech, nothing could possibly have survived a blast like that.
“Shinji!” she called out. “Answer me damn it!”
By the Gods she hoped he was still alive out there, somehow. The last thing she wanted on her conscious was to have sent some kid to his death.
Slowly, the glare from the blast diminished, a hulking dark shadow taking form against the background of light. Misato could see it clearly, looking vaguely like the Evangelion, but taller almost, and thinner. Quickly, she realised that its engines, and most of the equipment attached to it had been blown off.
She could see it; it's dark, scorched armour, the long, humanoid limbs, and those menacing, glowing eyes. She could feel it watching her. Through metres of steel and cable, across thousands of miles of rarefied hydrogen gas; she could still feel it watching her.
“Every piece of our technology is missing, gone,” Ritsuko said. “Braces, control systems, restraints. It's all been expunged, destroyed as a human body would destroy bacteria. Everything we have done to it has been perfectly undone. What you see, is the EVA's true form.”
I…………………… 8230;………………………… ……………………I
“That's not fair Miss Katsuragi,” Shinji said.
The Captain muttered something under her breath about family resemblances as the attendant at the canteen counter slowly lost his patience.
“Look Shinji,” she spoke through gritted teeth. “There're two things you need to understand.”
Already, the former fighter pilot was beginning to think that maybe this might not have been her best idea. There may have been something about him that made him worthy of her sympathy, but that had been while he was asleep. Now, he was being just annoying, as grouchy and unfriendly as his father.
`Why did I even bother?' she asked herself for a moment.
“Firstly, if we're going to be living together, we'll have to share things, and that includes credits. Second, I told you to call me Misato, okay?”
Her patience was already thinning.
She glared at the boy.
“…ato,” he finished abruptly.
“I'm sorry Captain,” The old attendant interrupted, placing the credit card on the steel table. “You can't use the young lad's card. DeFStRes regulations y'know like.”
The grey haired old man wore that `don't kill me, I'm only doing my job' smile common to all service personnel the moment they give you bad news. The captain growled as Shinji snatched his card from the table.
“Shinji…” Misato looked down at the boy. “Roommates share things.”
Shinji wanted to say `no'. He desperately wanted to show the purple haired beauty the print on the rough plastic card that read:
FOR THE USE OF IKARI SHINJI ONLY. GRADE F-6 YOUNG ADULT MALE. NOT FOR USE BY OTHER PERSONS RELATED OR OTHERWISE.
He wanted to show her the part that warned how unauthorised use would lead to the forfeiture of ration credits. He wanted to keep the credits he'd been saving up for God's know how long to buy something special. What that special something was he didn't know, but he wanted it. He wanted to do all these things, but somehow he couldn't. He couldn't look up into her caring, almost pleading brown eyes and say no.
“Two standard dinner meals please,” he said. “No meat, protein only.”
Misato would just have to owe him. Not that he'd ever get paid back of course. Somehow, he got the feeling that his new guardian wasn't the type to loose sleep over a small debt to a worthless child.
“Thanks Shinji.” The captain smiled at him. “You're real useful when you want to be.”
`So, I'm taking food from a child now,' she thought privately, bitterly. A moment of self loathing as she felt the grey eyed boy stare right at her, the glistening orbs almost accusing her of theft. `You've hit a new low with this one Misato,'
But, there was always the triad game later. She could win some credit then, enough to pay him back maybe. And as the guardian of a child, she could expect a generous boost to her grade soon anyway.
Shinji fingered his now empty card, watching the overhead lights flash off its laminated surface. Two simple black printed lines, a magnetic strip and a faded picture defined the boy's entire existence and material worth. F-6 was the lowest grade; save for one, only his good health had kept him off the bottom rung.
“Here you go lad,” the old man placed the tray on the counter beside him.
“Thank you,” Shinji bowed politely, receiving the loaded tray with both hands.
“Nice thing you did there, you got an interest in her at your age?” the man wore a wry grin.
“What,” he stuttered? “No, I just…” his voice trailed off as he stared at his white sneakers. She was twice his age and probably well out of his league anyway
“Well, I should warn you. She's had her allocation, don't waste yours. I see her in here at least once a week gambling her credits away.”
Shinji looked away to the woman, searching for an empty table among the chattering crowds.
“Thank you sir,” he nodded
“Good day lad, enjoy!”
Carrying his plastic tray with him, Shinji found an empty table; at least it was until Misato sat down opposite him. He hated the public mess hall, on any ship. It was always the same. Overcrowded, overheated, sweat stinking with `food' that barely deserved the description. Even green algae could be tolerable, correctly prepared. This was nothing but scorched slops that, according to his former guardian, wouldn't even have been worth feeding to porcines.
“Do we have to eat here Miss Misato?” he questioned, retreating lower into his chair as an intruding tylium stained tech bumped against him
“Well…” she looked at her tray. “I'm afraid I can't cook,” the captain admitted with a shamed smile.
Shinji just wasn't sure if he should make the offer. It seemed like a good idea but, he didn't want to humiliate her any more, did he. She probably already disliked him now, he didn't want the person he had to live with to hate him. `But,' the youth looked at the recycled sludge in font of him. `Anything would be better than this slurry.' Nervously, he swallowed his fears.
“I can cook Misato.”
She was going to hit him and he knew it. He should've just stopped, turned around and muttered some hurried retraction before poisoning himself with the contents of his tray. And then he remembered what had happened the last time he'd eaten a public meal.
“I know how to cook.”
Misato smiled, though, Shinji could see it wasn't exactly a friendly smile.
“Well, I can see we're going to get along just fine.”
In no way was that remotely reassuring for the brown haired boy.
Finishing his meal, though he still used the term `meal' loosely, he was led from the bustling canteen through the same monotonous grey corridors he'd come to associate with the military vessel. If he was supposed to live there, then how could he possibly find his way around the great warship?
Occasionally, he passed something incongruous, an out of place mural of a grassy meadow, or a child's dropped toy that hinted at how the ship was now home to more than colonial military personnel. He thought he could hear children playing in a cabin they passed.
A collapsed girder blocked his way.
He thought maybe it might be damage from the recent battle, but it had been marked with worn yellow paint chipping and corroding away where hundred had brushed against it climbing over. The beam had been there for years probably, he realised. A relic maybe of the second exodus.
“Well, this is home,” his purple haired guide said. “Cabin Top-0627.”
`Another grey door.' Shinji thought.
“It's your home too now Shinji,” Misato smiled encouragingly at him, gesturing invitingly to the open hatchway. She had to do something to knock him out of his dour mood, if only to make him more liveable.
He struggled to look enthusiastic about it. Shinji wasn't even sure if he could really cross the threshold into this new residence. He still struggled to find a way to resolve in his mind that the brightly lit cabin where he'd spent almost his entire life wasn't his home anymore. The youth still half expected to be taking a shuttle back to the tanker later that day.
He could almost miss the ever present oily smell of decayed crude tylium.
Stopping at the doorway, he looked up at the woman beside him, still smiling. `She's probably faking it,' he thought.
He closed his eyes and held his breath, boldly stepping forward into the unknown. The first thing to hit him was the smell of sweat and scarce perfume, mixed with electric ozone dryness of the ships ventilation.
`These are supposed to be officer's quarters?' The boy thought.
It was definitely smaller than his cabin, another half open door opposite him leading to a combined head, shower and apparently, laundry room judging by the amount of cloths he could see inside it. A small desk against a wall was buckling down beneath the weight of paperwork loaded on top of it. A bird sat, perched in a cage, silently staring across cabin.
“Aren't pets forbidden?”
“Oh, yeah, but Pen-Pen's a special case.” the captain answered, throwing her jacket onto the back of a chair.
“How?” Shinji rattled the cage curiously. The blue feathered bird appeared to be resting, or something. It definitely didn't answer him.
“He's the last Binah Blue penguin,” answered Misato “And he's my old squadrons' mascot.”
“He looks dead,” Shinji stuck his finger through the brass bars, trying to poke the bird.
“Oh, he's just resting,” The Captain explained. “He'll be hibernating for another few weeks now. Terribly loyal pet the Binah blue.”
Shinji gave an interested hum. To him, the bird still looked deceased, almost glued to his perch. The boy poked the cage again, before turning his attention to more important matters, such as finding a place to sleep.
There seemed to be two beds in the cabin, curtained-off bunks one above the other. Were one of those his?
The now tank topped captain lay back on her chair, yawning as she cracked open a bottle of beer, the harsh lighting pleasingly highlighting her breasts to the boy. She may have been a bit of a loon, but she had a body that he'd thought could only exist in his fantasies.
It was strangely exciting to watch her lean right back, downing the entire bottle in one great gulp. She tossed her head forward with a satisfied sigh, her chest bouncing as smiled almost teasingly at the boy again.
Shinji blushed, ran to the bathroom, and just hid.
“How shameful,” Misato heard him mutter.
“I should be nicer to him,” she said to herself, “But he's probably already made his mind up about me.”
Later, as he lay in his bunk, he stared up at the depression in the mattress above him, a blurred outline of the woman sleeping just over his head. She seemed to have almost curled up into herself. Occasionally, she tossed and turned, squeaking and creaking the aged springs, disturbing Shinji. Why she had to do it every time he felt himself begin to drift off, he didn't know.
The fact that Misato'd insisted the lights stay on didn't help the boys developing insomnia. Despite it being night cycle, enough light still filtered through the thin curtain material to make sleep difficult for him anyway.
“Papa,” he thought he heard Misato whisper.
Groaning, he wrapped his own sheets around him and turned over, fixing his gaze on the small black porthole, and the darkness beyond. He thought maybe he might be able to see his home, The Rising Sun, that it might maybe be one of the dim pinpoint lights he could see, but he could never be sure.
“I want to go home,” he mumbled “I don't want to be here,”
I…………………… 8230;………………………… ……………………I
“Now hear this. Now hear this, Dog shift four report to watch stations. Systems switch to nocturnal cycle. Repeat, Dog shift four report to duty stations. Systems to be switched to nocturnal cycle.”
Lieutenant Ibuki's voice cut out, followed by 4 electric chimes.
Commander Ikari was walking through the infirmary of his ship, a journey he'd been making twice a day, each day for the last week. The harsh lights dimmed from an almost painful white to a soothing grey. There was no true day and night in space, only the constant artificial lights of the ship.
At first, the cycle had been a concession, to help those new to long term spaceflight adapt, but over the years, it had become standard procedure. `Night' time certainly had a soothing, relaxing feel to it, something the constant `day' mode fleet combat regulations demanded lacked. It was a simple thing, though the Commander knew that, in the early days at least, it gave people hope, a sense of accomplishment from the knowledge that they'd survived another day and perhaps some small feeling of home.
“Commander,” Two Space Marines saluted abruptly, their black battle dress uniforms contrasting with the white corridors.
“Marines,” he acknowledge half-heartedly.
“Now here this,” the tannoy cut in. “Now hear this. Lieutenant Valeris report to Infirmary ward seven. Statements to be taken from Yeomen Burke and Sandman. Repeat, Lieutenant Valeris report to infirmary ward seven. Statements to be taken from Yeomen Burke and Sandman.”
His destination was a single private room, its door marked with a simple paper placard.
Pilot Ayanami. R. -1c BSG 19 PACIFICA
Stealthily, the elderly man slipped into the room, not quite sure why he was being so careful. Maybe he just didn't want anybody seeing him as anything other than a Battlestar commander.
Alone now in the room, except for the blue haired girl sleeping peacefully, he removed his glasses and placed them on the table beside her.
“Rei,” he said, smiling.
She stirred in her bed, slowly rolling her head, meeting the commanders blue eyes with her single red one. The albino allowed herself a gentle upturn of her lips seeing who the voice belonged to. She'd recognised the voice but still, to see the man with her own eye was the greatest comfort Rei could know.
“Father,” she answered weakly, raising her bandaged arm.
The man slipped the white glove from his hand and took the girls own, gripping as tight as he dared. The feeling of human contact, the warmth of the elderly commanders hand tingled down her arm, soothing any small pains she felt.
To the girl, it was the most reassuring feeling in the world.
And she drifted off back into her peaceful sleep.
I…………………… 8230;………………………… ……………………I
Yes I am following the series, for the first few chapters anyway. Firstly, it helps me get my feet in the universe I've set up here and it allows me to introduce the changes in my universe over the normal Evaverse. Also, there may be a few interesting mysteries lying around if you know where to look.
There will be a few `surprises' later on, and not what you'd quite expect.