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[ P - Pre-Teen ]

BOOM. They knocked again. Blob jerked awake and muttered, " Where's the particle beam? Who's shooting Aliens?..."

There was a crash behind them and Uncle Homer skidding into the room baring a rifle. It was easy for Shinji to see that that was what had been in the package.

" WHO'S...T-T-THERE!?" He shouted rather awkwardly, " I W-WARN YOU! I HAVE A G-GUN!"

There was a small pause, then SMASH! The door flew right off it's hinges and fell flat on the floor, making a cloud of dust rise.

There was a gigantic man in the doorway. His shaggy beard trickled with rain and his head was covered by a Viking-like helmet with horns and a small symbol that Shinji couldn't read. His eyes most certainly stood out, like black beetles on that massive head.

He squeezed into the hut, ducking although his hat still brushed the roof with those horns. He bent down, picking up the door and fitting it neatly in place again, turning to face them all as the noise from the storm seemed to die in this silence.

" Pardon, but do you have any green tea? It's been a rough ride out in this weather..."

He strode over to the couch, as Blob stared in terror. He watched him a moment as he spoke, " Could you please move over, son. I'm sure there is more then enough room if you do."

Blob squealed and ran behind his mother. Who knew that someone so big could run so fast?

" And here's Shinji," grinned the gigantic stranger.

Shinji was in honesty half terrified himself, but took a tiny relieving breath as he saw the great man smile.

" Last time I saw you, Shinji, you were only a baby. You look a lot like your dad you know?"

Uncle Homer made a funny rasping noise in his throat as he stood up to him, " You better get out of here!...Y-You're breaking the law!"

" Oh hush up, Dreary. You always made such a fuss," with that he grabbed the rifle out of Uncle Homer's hands and tied it in a bow, tossing it away to a corner.

Uncle Homer looked like he was going to be sick.

" Anyway, Shinji, a very happy birthday to you. I have something for you. I may have sat on it on the way, but I bet it will still taste all right."

From inside a bag he carried, the giant pulled out a half squished box. Shinji's fingers trembled as he opened it. Inside was a chocolate cake with "Happy Birthday" written on it in green icing.

Shinji wanted to say thank you, but found himself tangled in words and instead said, " Who are you?"

The giant chuckled a bit as he looked him over, " I should have introduced myself. I'm Ox King, well that is what I'm referred to as. I am the Grounds Keeper at Animeland School of Technology and Fantasy."

He held out a great hand and shook Shinji's entire arm, " So how about that green tea? I wouldn't say no if you had coffee in mind though."

His eyes fell upon the pitiful grate with the chip bags in it. He snorted and walked over, stooping over the mess. No one could see what he was doing, but when he drew back, there was a nice fire there. The light and warmth flooding over Shinji like a hot bath.

The giant sank back unto the sofa, pulling out all kinds of foods and drinks from that bag of his. Blob's mouth watered, but it took Uncle Homer but a moment to notice.

" Don't touch a thing he gives you, Blob."

The giant chuckled.

" I doubt you son there needs to eat anymore, Dreary, don't worry."

He gave a few sausages to Shinji, who was so hungry that he had never tasted anything so wonderful in his life, and yet, he still couldn't keep his eyes off the giant. Since nobody seemed to explain a thing to him, he looked up to him again, "I'm sorry, but I still don't know who you are."

The giant set down his cup of tea, " Just call me Ox King. Everyone else does. And like I said, I'm the Grounds Keeper at Animeland High. You of course know about the school though."

" Um...not really."

" No?" Ox King looked shocked.

" I'm sorry."

"Sorry?" Ox King turned to the Drearys, whom were shuddering into he shadows of the hut. "It's them that should be sorry! I knew that you hadn't gotten your letters, but I didn't think that they'd keep Animeland High a secret too! Didn't you even wonder where you parents learned what they knew?"

" What did they know?" asked Shinji.

" WHAT DID THEY KNOW?" he thundered, " Now just one second here!" His anger made the hut shake as the Drearys cowered against the wall.

" Do you mean to tell me that this boy-OF ALL BOYS-knows nothing...ABOUT ANYTHING?!"

Shinji felt a bit annoyed. He wasn't bad at school and he knew math okay enough.

" I know some things you know! I can do math and stuff!" Shinji seemed a bit ruffled.

Ox King waved a hand, "I mean about our world Shinji. Your world."

" What world?"

Ox King looked like he was going to explode.

"DREARY!" he boomed.

Uncle Homer looked like he had seen a ghost, and muttered inaudible words under his meek breath.

" But, you have to know about your mom and dad? They are famous! And so are you!"

" Huh? What would they be famous for?"

" You...You don't know?" Ox King fixed his hat as his gaze lingered on Shinji in bewilderment.

Just then, Uncle Homer seemed to have found his voice, "Stop! You can't tell him a thing! You hear me? Not one!"

The bravest of heroes would have trembled under Ox King's gaze now as he loomed over Uncle Homer, " You never told him? You never told him what was in the letter that Yosho left with him? I WAS THERE WHEN YOSHO LEFT IT!"

"STOP!" yelled Uncle Homer in panic.

Aunt Cruella fanned herself to keep herself from fainting.

" Go chew on a Japanese Radish, the lot of you," turning to Shinji, he spoke softer, "Shinji-your an Anime character."

The shack was silent, only the rain outside made any noise at all.

" I'm...what?" gasped Shinji.

" An Anime character, and a good one too, once you've had training of course, " The couch sank once more as he took a seat again, " here's the letter. Bout time you read it."

Shinji took his letter with trembling finger, carefully opening the backing and reading.

Animeland High School of Technology and Fantasy

Principal: Yosho (Jurian Crown Prince)

Dear Mr. Ikari,

We are pleased to say that you have been accepted into Animeland High School of Technology and Fantasy. Please read the enclosed list of school supplies. School begins on September 1. We awaited your fairy or winged cat no later then July 31.

Yours Sincerely



Vice Principal

Questions ran through him like there was no answer to any. He couldn't figure which to ask first, until he finally muttered, " What does it mean my fairy or winged cat?"

" Pouncing Pikachus, that reminds me," said Ox King, smacking his forehead with enough force to knock over a real ox. From his bag, he pulled a little winged and rather flustered looking Bat thingy...


Who was followed by Duo Maxwell with a fishing net right out of the shack and into the rain.

" That's not it, " Ox King looked a bit confused as he reached back in, pulling out a tiny winged kitten.

He then scribbled a note that Shinji could read up-side down.

Dear Professor Yosho

Given Shinji his letter.

Taking him to buy his things tomorrow.

Weather's horrible. Hope you are well

Ox King

Ox King rolled up the note and clamped it in the kitten's mouth, walking to the door. Throwing the kitten out at lightspeed, he came back as if that were normal.

Shinji quickly closed his open mouth.

" Where was I?" asked Ox King as the still flustered but stern Uncle Homer stepped into the firelight.

" He isn't going."

" I'd like to see a poorly drawn American cartoon character like yourself stop him?"

"A what?" asked Shinji.

" American character, Shinji," answered Ox King, " Non-Anime folk. And it looks like you were set with the biggest ones on the planet."

" We swore that we would stop that after we took him in," insisted Aunt Cruella, " Anime character indeed."

" You knew?," said Shinji, " You knew I am an-an Anime character?"

" Knew!?" she shrieked, "Of course we knew! How could you not be being my sister what she was? She got a letter too. Disappearing to that school and coming home each summer drawing up plans to so called "mobile suits" and "mechas." I was the only one who saw her for what she was- a freak! To my parents though, she was the gem of the family!"

She stopped for a breath and ranted on, as if this had been held back for years.

" Then she met that Ikari at school and they left and got married and had you, and of course I knew you'd be just the same, just as strange, just as-ABNORMAL- and then, if you please, she went and got herself blown up and we ended up landed with you!"

Shinji went white, "Blown up? YOU SAID THEY DIED IN A CAR CRASH!"

" CAR CRASH!?" roared Ox King, jumping up so angry that the Drearys scuttled back to their corner. "How could a car crash kill the famous Ikaris? It's an outrage! A scandal! Shinji Ikari not knowing his story when every kid in our world knows his name!"

"But why? What happened?" asked Shinji eagerly.

The anger faded from Ox King's face and he suddenly grew anxious.

" I wasn't expecting this," he said, " I had no idea, when Yosho told me there might be trouble getting ahold of you, how much you didn't know. Ah, Shinji. I don't know if I'm the right person to tell you-but some on has to-you can't go off to Animeland High not knowing.

He threw a deadly look at the Drearys.

" Well it's best you know as much as I can say-mind I can't say everything since so much of it is a mystery..."

He stared at the fire, then looked to Shinji, "It begins-I suppose-with a person... well it's surprising you don't know his name, everyone in our world knows..."


" Well, I don't like saying his name if I can help it. No one does."

"Why not?"

" Dazed Dark Magicians, Shinji, people are still scared. Geebers this is difficult. See, there was this anime character that went bad...real bad. As bad as you could go. Worst of the worst. His name is..."

He gulped and nothing came out.

" Could you write it down?" Shinji suggested.

" Nah, can't spell it. All right...Naraku," he shuddered. " Don't make me say it again! Any way, this villain, a while ago, went looking for followers. He got them too. Some were afraid of his power and others wanted some power for themselves. Dark days, Shinji. You couldn't trust anyone. Terrible things happened. He was taking over. Some stood up to him, and ended up dead. Horribly. Animeland High was one of the only safe places left. Think Yosho was the only one He was scared of. Didn't dare to take the school, not then .

" Now your parents were the best of their class. Part of the mystery is why He never tried to get them to his side before. Probably thought they were too close to Yosho to deal with his side.

" Maybe he thought he could persuade them.... or wanted them out of the way. All anyone knows is that he showed up in that city you all lived in a few years ago. You were only 7 or so then and he-he..."

He blew his nose like a great foghorn.

" Sorry, but I knew your parents and you couldn't find nicer people. Any way...he killed them. And here's the real mystery. He tried to kill you too. He wanted to make a clean job, or by then he got to like killing, but he couldn't do it. Ever wonder about that mark on your forehead? That's no ordinary cut. That's a cut made by evil curses of dark demons. He took care of your parents, your house, but not you Shinji, and that's why you're famous. No one lived after he decided to kill them, no one but you. You were only a little boy, and you lived."

Something rattled in Shinji's mind as Ox King ended his tale. He saw again the white flash of light. More clearly then ever before. And something else too, a sickening laugh.

Ox King watched him sadly.

" I took you from the ruins myself, on Yosho's orders. Brought you here to this lot."

" Garbage!" yelled Uncle Homer in a way that made Shinji jump. He'd forgotten about the Drearys. Uncle Homer certainly seemed to have his gut back as he stared at Ox King angrily.

" Listen here boy, I accept that there is something strange about you. Nothing a good belting wouldn't cure. About your parents, they were weirdoes, no way around that. The worlds better off without them in my opinion. Asked for all they got, getting mixed up with mechas and fairies and what nots. Just as I thought, knew they'd come to a sticky end."

At that moment, Ox King jumped up, drawing a great mallet from his bag. He pointed it threateningly at Uncle Homer, "I'm warning you Dreary. One more word..."

In danger of being flattened by that giant's mallet, he lost courage and sank to the wall again.

"Better," said Ox King as he sat again, making the sofa sink right down to floor.

Shinji still had been brimming with questions, "but what happened to Na...sorry..I mean... that guy?"

" Good question, Shinji. He disappeared the night he tried to kill you. That makes you even more famous. He was getting so powerful, why did he go?

" Some say he's dead. That's all farse to me, doubt he could even die. Some say he's out there biding his time. I don't believe that either. His people came back to our side, some coming out of evil trances. Doubt they could have if he was coming back.

" Most say he's still out there, but too weak to carry on. Something you did finished him off, Shinji. You did something he didn't count on. No one knows what either. You stumped us all you know."

Ox King looked at Shinji with warmth and respect, but Shinji instead of feeling proud felt that there had been some sort of mistake. An Anime character? Him? That wasn't possible. He'd spent half his life being bullied by Blob and his friends and nagged by Aunt Cruella and Uncle Homer. If he really was an Anime character, why didn't he just squish him with a mecha every time they locked him in a closet? If he defeated the worst villain of all time, why could Blob kick him around like a football?

"Ox King," he said quietly, " I think there's a mistake here. I can't be an anime character."

To his surprise, Ox King merely chuckled.

" Not an anime character eh? Never made things happen when you were angry or scared?"

Shinji looked into the fire. Now that he thought of it, every odd thing that his Aunt and Uncle had blamed on him did happen when he was scared or upset. Right up to the glass at the zoo.

He smiled up at Ox King, seeing that he was practically beaming at him.

" You see ?" he chuckled, " Shinji Ikari not an anime character? You'll be famous at school."

Uncle Homer wasn't giving up there, " Haven't I said he isn't going!? He's going to a public school and he'll be grateful. I read those letters. He needs all kinds of garbage like VR glasses and expression books..."

" If he wants to go, a great American cartoon drought like you won't stop him, " growled Ox King. " Stop the Ikari's son from going to Animeland High? You are insane. His name's been down since he was born. He's off to the finest Anime school in the world. Seven years there and he won't know himself. He'll be with kids of his own kind, and under the best principal in Animeland High history, Professor Yosh..."


That drove Ox King too far as he raised that gigantic mallet, " NEVER-INSULT-MASTER-YOSHO-INFRONT-OF-ME!"

He brought the great mallet down on Blob and with a spray of weird stars and hearts, Blob seemed to be 3 feet shorter, badly misproportioned and crying at the top of his lungs.

Uncle Homer screamed as he panicked, grabbing Blob and Aunt Cruella and running into the next room slamming the door shut and locking it a million times over.

Ox King stroked his beard as he sat, " Sorry about losing my temper Shinji, " he cast him a sideways look, " Be grateful if you didn't mention this at Animeland High. I'm not supposed to do things like that. I was allowed to do some things to get you the letters and find you, but nothing more."

" Why can't you do certain things like that?" asked Shinji.

" Well, I was at Animeland High too, but I got expelled in my third year. They took away my VR helmet and everything. But Yosho let me stay as Grounds keeper. Great man that Yosho."

" Why were you expelled?"

" It's getting late and there is lots to do tomorrow," said Ox King loudly, "Going to town to get your supplies."

He gave Shinji a thick black coat.

" You can keep warm under that, and if it wriggles, it may still have a few live pikachu in the pockets."