Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Wed May 04, 2011 7:46 pm Post subject:
Maya Ibuki, Evangelion Pilot (Now Past CiA! New Material!)
In which Maya arrives
All right, so. A long time ago I wrote a 40+ chapter epic that was somewhat popular but ultimately fell apart. This was tragic. To correct this horrible tragedy I am going to start up again. However, the old fic is abandoned.
For starters, who will remember forty chapters after like a year of absence? That's crazy. So we will begin again, with a few rewrites here and there, as a nice refresher course for the old fans (if there are any left) and a good jumping on point for the new fans (who will hopefully be less intimidated by ONE chapter). Here we go! Chapter One, begin!
"It wasn't a dark and stormy night. It should have been..." - Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
The train pulled into the station, and a lone girl got off of it. Any observer would have said for certain that she was the only one on the platform, let alone disembarking. But there were no observers. No one was present for several miles.
It wasn't that the train station was abandoned, for indeed it was well-maintained. The rails still glistened in the sun, vending machines were lined up and fully-stocked, the displays above the platform announced the state of emergency in bright red lettering.
Maya Ibuki didn’t like this state of affairs at all. Pushing back a few bangs of brown hair, and straightening her uniform just in case someone was watching, she left the station, looking around nervously. She didn’t even think she heard any birds.
“Hello?” she called out at the front doors. Nothing.
After a minute of absolute silence, she shuddered slightly and began a mad dash to the parking lot. Several cars sat, abandoned. Maya looked in each window, but saw no one. Still there was silence, excepting her feet, the sound of her bag bouncing against her, and her breathing, which was slowly picking up speed.
After she’d thoroughly inspected each and every car, she angrily pulled out a letter from her bag. With care, she unfolded it and began to read it aloud. Her voice was soft, perhaps because she always spoke that way, perhaps because of fear that being loud would attract too much attention. There wasn't any visible danger, but isolation was a human fear that Maya had not moved beyond.
"Ibuki Maya, your presence in Tokyo-3 on the date of July 11th is requested by the Japanese government. Failure to appear will result in your arrest. Enclosed is a train ticket, with the time and station of boarding printed upon it. Transportation beyond the rail network will be arranged. Nerv Headquarters.”
A ticket had been enclosed, and she’d used it to get this far. Now what? Transport should be here, or at least, the letter implied it would be (it didn’t technically say when it was arranged, Maya had to admit), but there was no reason to suspect that Nerv would simply abandon her. She decided that the state of emergency must have affected them too, which meant obvious trouble.
Uncertainly, Maya left the parking lot, hesitating for a moment at the sidewalk before she remembered which direction Tokyo-3 was. The railway lines didn’t even go as far as it; she was in another city, though she wasn't sure which. The ticket had been unlabeled, and the station made no announcements.
“I’ve got a long walk ahead of me,” she said as happily as she could. “At least I wore tennis shoes.” So she began to walk towards the sun, which was slowly approaching sunset.
* * *
The letter had arrived at five o'clock on the first of July, and though Maya didn't realize it, it was effectively a countdown until the end of the world. Two hundred and sixty-seven hours exactly until an Angel arrived. Four thousand, three hundred and ninety-nine hours remained before it was all over.
Six minutes after the letter was placed in the mailbox, Maya's grandmother retrieved it and all the rest of the post, and went to put them on the kitchen table. She sighed to herself, because even though Maya had been privileged enough to not know her own destiny, the family had known from the day Maya's mother had abandoned her on their doorstep.
The old woman looked at her husband. "It's time," she said sadly. He nodded, and the two of them left the kitchen and knocked on Maya's bedroom door.
She opened it and bowed politely. "Is it dinner already?" she asked. "It's barely after five..."
"No dear," her grandmother replied. "You received some very important mail. We thought you should take a look at it."
Maya left her room and slid the door shut, looking quizzically at both of her grandparents. She didn't often receive mail; it was expensive and the internet was usually faster. Slowly, Maya walked into the kitchen, both of her grandparents following. She wondered how important this mail was that her family would behave so oddly.
The kitchen was a small one, square one, with barely enough room for the table, some counters, a sink, and the oven. Despite this, Maya's grandmother had found a way to personalize it by hanging photos on the small amount of wall space available, most of them of the family. Maya's deceased mother was the subject of many of the photographs, well over half of them.
Maya had asked why once, when she'd been very small. Her grandfather had frowned for a moment, and then said simply, "Death isn't the sort of thing you can ever forget." Every house Maya visited showed evidence of this. Small shrines were erected to family members or friends, most of whom had died fifteen years ago, on the same day. It was as if every home was at least part-graveyard.
The letter sat on top of the pile, menacing in its own right. Maya fumbled for a moment with the envelope and finally tore it open. Its contents fell to the table. Maya read them.
"What?" she asked very silently. "They want me to go to Tokyo-3? Why?"
She turned, but neither grandparent answered. Over the next week and a half, despite Maya's pesterings, they wouldn't. But they did make it clear she had to go, and helped her pack. They even threw a going-away party, which Maya's few friends attended, crying. She'd said her goodbyes, and set out. The train ride had been a pleasant if lonely one; no conductor nor passenger were in sight after Maya boarded. The arrival was perhaps less enjoyable.
* * *
Half an hour of walking later, with the sun now harshly illuminating the towers of the nearby (but so far away) city, Maya discovered that her strategy had several flaws. She had barely gotten anywhere, it was entirely possible her ride had shown up late, and while she wasn’t tired, the constant paranoia over the situation was beginning to drive her nuts. She hadn't seen a single person along the road, nor heard them. The only sound were her footsteps on the hot concrete of the roadway.
But then Maya heard the first noise that she hadn’t caused herself. Above her, several airplanes flew by in close formation. They looked military, and moved faster than any plane Maya had ever seen. Because of that, soon they were out of hearing range, and loneliness settled back in.
“This is ridiculous,” Maya said shortly thereafter, to keep the silence at bay. “What on Earth could have caused an entire city to be evacuated for half an hour? If it was so bad, surely the city would be destroyed by now!”
The silence seemed all the louder for her talking. Maya gulped again, and decided that talking probably would just make her feel worse, so she fell silent, choosing to shield her eyes and face from the sunset instead.
After another half hour, she spoke again. “Come on…” she muttered to herself. “There’s nothing to be scared of. It’s just-” She paused and swung around suddenly, convinced she'd just heard something.
A boy stood a few meters away, watching her coldly and intently. He had dark hair that nearly went down to his eyes and wore strange glasses, both of which made it feel as though he were staring at her. He reached out his hand, slowly. Maya took a step towards him, but blinked.
No one stood there once her eyes were open. The streets were empty and it seemed they always had been. Maya briefly considered the possibility that she'd just gone crazy, hallucinating human company out of loneliness. But that was ridiculous. She'd only been alone for most of the day.
"This place is creepy," she decided finally, shaking her head. She turned around again and kept going, though she stopped every few steps to look all around her. Desolate. Not even the cicadas were out today.
Finally, she saw something reassuring. A car was zooming down the streets, coming in her direction. She smiled and waved. The car stopped beside her and the door opened. “Ibuki?” the driver asked, smiling.
Maya nodded to the driver, a brunette with blue eyes. She wore a simple red uniform and cap, and she smiled quite warmly. “I’m Captain Soryu,” she said. “Our planes spotted you, so I came here as quickly as I could.” She laughed a little, embarrassed. Her face seemed perfect, soft but with a sharp bone structure.
“It took you over an hour!” Maya replied, completely disbelieving.
Soryu shrugged. “It took me awhile to get here, okay? I was supposed to arrive here the same time you were, but my train got a bit waylaid." She reached into a purse on her other side and pulled out an ID card. "Here," she said. "So you know that I am who I say I am."
Maya sighed as they accelerated off. The Captain clearly had no conception of speed limits or, if she did, didn’t feel the need to pay attention to them while the roads were this abandoned.
“What’s going on?” Maya asked. “Why is the city so empty?”
Soryu darkened. “An Angel attacked today,” she said. “The city has been evacuated because of it. We need to hurry.”
Maya couldn’t think of anything to say. An Angel. She could practically imagine the public service announcements in her head.
“Fifteen years ago, we were attacked via asteroid by an alien race,” the announcer would say, “dubbed “Angels” for their catastrophic power. For seven years, we worked on recovering. But now, we are preparing for defense.” That would be about the time that the Nerv logo would appear. “The best and the brightest of mankind from over a dozen nations, united together to save mankind.” Then there’d be some videos of Nerv employees, all smiling and wonderful. “But they need *your* help. Join Nerv today!” Then finally, a picture of some guy would be displayed, the commander of Nerv or something.
The whole thing was stupid and badly written, but that’s how all PSAs were, Maya thought. Propaganda at best, maybe.
“Do you know why you were called here?” Soryu asked after a few minutes of silence.
“No, ma’am.” Maya didn’t look at her, preferring the window instead. Captain Soryu was pretty (Maya felt rather envious of her overall appearance, which was far more exceptional than her own. Maya, fourteen, was definitely growing up, but her face still looked like a child) but it would be rude to stare.
Soryu didn’t say anything for a while after that. Maya recognized it as the silence that came when adults had to say something that would be hard to take but didn’t want to hurt the “kid” they were talking to. When she finally spoke up, her words were simply, “You’re going to be doing a great service to mankind.”
Maya knew that didn’t bode well.
* * *
Others might have been amazed when they entered the Geofront, but Maya wasn’t. Again, all that came to mind were the public service announcements and brochures encouraging people to sign up. The Nerv pyramid was practically on the US dollar bill. She had to admit though; it was impressive they’d dug this out in just eight years.
Captain Soryu smiled at her as the car was let off the rails and into a parking garage. “We’ll be at the meet-up point in no time.”
“Meet-up?” Maya asked, still uncertain of what the actual plan was or the reason she’d been called here. She didn’t have anything to do with the military.
“Yes. You’re going to be meeting Commander Ikari, the man who runs Nerv.”
“Wow…” Maya tried to sound enthused, but really couldn’t muster anything.
“Yeah, you’re pretty lucky!” Soryu exclaimed, completely fooled by Maya’s transparent statements. “Not every kid gets this chance, you know!”
‘That wasn’t the kind of ‘wow’ I meant’, Maya thought bitterly.
The rest of the ride was spent in silence, again. Somehow neither could find a good conversational topic to stick on, so Soryu compensated by blaring the radio instead. Maya was relieved when they got to the underground garage, but less so when they began their hike into the facility. Every hallway was gray and uniform, with English and Japanese signs littered across them, unhelpfully pointing in a thousand locations at once. Worse, the captain was navigating randomly at best, turning left, right, randomly turning back the way they went... It was like being in a maze.
“We’re lost, aren’t we?” Maya asked as they went down a set of stairs and found themselves back in the parking garage.
“This doesn’t make sense!” the captain said angrily. “We haven’t gone UP at any point!”
“Some of those hallways were sloped,” Maya noted.
“Still!” Captain Soryu looked around accusingly at the garage around them before she saw something that interested her. “Ah! An elevator! We’ll take that!” She grabbed Maya by the arm and pulled her to it.
When the doors opened, a blue-haired woman of about the captain's age wearing a lab coat was standing in the elevator. Her eyes widened when she saw Captain Soryu, but quickly returned to a dull look, staring ahead at the two lost individuals in front of her. She seemed bored, almost.
“Rei!” Soryu shouted. “I haven’t seen you in forever!” She let go of Maya and embraced the other woman ecstatically. “How are you?”
Rei smiled very slightly, though Maya noticed that none of her other expressions changed. The smile itself seemed thin and perhaps slightly forced. “I am well. I did not know you were transferred here.”
Maya joined the two women in the elevator and pressed the “Close” button, standing awkwardly between them as they chatted. She wasn't sure if she should contribute to the conversation, or simply remain silent. Reunions were uncomfortable. She decided ultimately just to shut up.
“Oh, yeah. Well, Shinji-sensei requested me.” Maya wondered who Soryu was talking about, but didn't ask. Presumably a higher-up of some sort.
Rei’s eyebrows rose. “I didn’t know… but…” she sighed. “He seems to have gotten everyone from that class here.” She smiled again, just as slight. “I’m sure we will work together well.”
The elevator doors opened, leading Maya into a new life.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Last edited by Legendary on Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:17 am; edited 4 times in total
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Thu May 05, 2011 10:02 pm Post subject:
In which Maya does a lot of thinking
"I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth-men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air-for I am grieved that I have made them." - The LORD, Book of Genesis, Author Disputed
Deep in the bowels of Nerv, a collection of rooms stood, each housing or ready to house one of Nerv's top secret weapons. The expense in building the facility paled in comparison to the construction of even one of the humanoid robots they kept, not merely in money but in manhours, and typically lives. Building a single Evangelion (as they were called) was a dangerous job and the machines used in the process were in a constant state of disrepair. Accidents happened. They were expected.
With a dangerous threat approaching the city, accidents were risked again as a group of men had been called in to bring one into full working order. A simple room, metallic with a bit of rust, usually empty save for the storage container for the robot in question (a giant basin filled with a pink liquid), was now covered in wires running in every direction, and filled with workmen in orange jumpsuits. They were running out of time.
Keita Asari, one such worked, turned when the doors opened and a girl walked in, her mouth open in shock. He chuckled to himself, well aware that the Evangelion models surprised everyone the first time around. He almost turned back to the open hatch in Eva-01’s armor (Eva-01 being the designation of this particular model), but two more people walked out of the elevator. One; his boss Dr. Ayanami, didn’t surprise him at all. The other did.
“Asuka?” he said softly. “I haven’t seen you since school.”
He very nearly waved to her, but changed his mind at the last minute. She probably would barely recognize him in the uniform, and he was standing on the shoulder of a giant robot… This time his attention did return to the beast. Copper-plated wires (and a few other things that were shaped like wires, but didn’t seem metallic at all) ran up and down the arm, and a few had been broken.
He remembered Dr. Ayanami’s exact words for how quickly they needed fixing. “An hour ago.”
Grumbling, he pulled the replacement wires out of his toolkit and began running them through. Why the hell hadn’t the regular status reports picked this glitch up until now? They’d just run a diagnostic yesterday, and the equipment had worked fine on Eva-00.
"You are the one who will be piloting it,” he heard Dr. Ayanami say, and once he’d finished threading in the last wire, he turned his attention to the three women. Most everyone else already had.
“What?” Asuka was shouting. “That’s insane! She just got here!”
"No," Dr. Ayanami responded. "It is merely unlucky. We had no idea that an would be arriving today. Our initial plans were nothing more than a few simple start-up tests; perfectly normal in every way."
The captain scoffed in response. "Well since combat's arrived plans have changed, wouldn't you say? Don't you have a back-up pilot?" She moved in between the pilot and Rei, protectively.
Maya opened her mouth to speak.
* * *
"This is why you wanted me?" Maya couldn't believe it. Why would they want a fourteen-year old girl to pilot a giant robot? It didn't make any sense! "You... you didn't even ask!"
The captain looked down. “They wouldn’t have needed to,” Asuka explained. She began to recite something one of their teachers had told them about long ago. “The Diet of Japan voted unanimously in December of 2003 to give Nerv the power to take all necessary measures to repel any Angelic attack against the forces of Earth.”
Neither of them noticed, but Keita was mouthing the words along with her. Their teacher had not been happy at all with that particular resolution. He’d drawn a few historic parallels, but few students had paid him any attention, arguing that to stop attacks Nerv - or rather Gehirn, as it was known in those days - would need all the power it could get.
The future pilot said nothing. She just looked away.
“Please get in,” Dr. Ayanami said, stepping forward and pushing Asuka out of the way. “Believe me, it’s for the best.”
Maya shook her head. "I don't know how to pilot any kind of robots," she said. "You can't just put me in the cockpit and expect me to figure out how to make the thing work." She laughed nervously. "There's probably dozens of switches and buttons, aren't there?"
Rei opened her mouth to respond to this, but stopped, hearing footsteps echoing above them. She turned upwards, as did everyone else. Above the Cage that held the Evangelion was a small room for observation purposes, and someone had entered. The man's face appeared in the window; the face of the commander of Nerv, Shinji Ikari.
Everyone stared up at him, and he scanned the room silently. The commander looked down at Asuka for a moment, who smiled slightly, and then Rei, who smiled quite broadly, but finally his eyes settled on the teenage girl. She looked back, frightened but refusing to look away.
Shinji gulped, but he spoke calmly and firmly. "Welcome to Nerv," he said, almost brightly. Maya said nothing in response, preferring to glare instead. Commander Ikari sighed. “I’m not going to lie to you, Ibuki-san. We are asking a lot of you, asking for you to pilot," he said. "And for that I do apologize. But we're not going to force you."
“So I can go then?" the girl asked, her eyes widening happily. This whole day had been so strange that it was a relief to hear that the weirdness might end momentarily. It wasn't so simple, of course.
“Yes, you could. But,” Ikari-sensei said quickly, for Maya had already turned to leave, “That won’t do you any good... We only have one other. Because of circumstances unrelated to today, he’s heavily injured. My best doctors say he’d die in about five minutes without the intensive care he’s currently hooked up to.”
Maya hesitated, but didn’t say anything. Asuka looked at Rei, mouthing the words "He'd die?" in shock.
Shinji kept going. She hadn't left so far, so perhaps this was going to work. “Ibuki-san, if the Angel gets into the Geofront, we’ve lost. He’ll kill everyone here, and shortly thereafter everyone on planet Earth. You’re the only chance we have.”
The girl turned to Asuka, who tried to smile but failed. She just looked guilty, or perhaps regretful. “It’s true,” Asuka said sadly. “He isn’t lying. If you don’t do this, we’re all going to die.” She looked back to the commander, uncertain, but Maya had already turned her head up as well.
"Fine. I'll do it," Maya replied.
Several people grinned. A huge problem with the Evangelion was fixed. Eva-01 finally had a pilot.
* * *
Asuka walked into the Command Center. “Is she really our only chance?” she asked Rei. “I know I told her that but is that really true?"
“You did the right thing,” Rei assured her. “That’s all that matters.”
Asuka looked around. The room was immense, multi-leveled, and shaped like a battleship. Most of it was clearly dedicated to computers; the lowest level was a morass of immense wires and fans. Only a few levels were even occupied.
Strangely, she knew everyone in the room. Former classmates Aida, Suzuhara, and Horaki sat on the top level where she and Rei stood, typing away at computers. Kotonoha sat on a lower level, speaking into a headset. Matsuda and Idane sat by an open hatch, fixing something. Even Nakada worked for Nerv HQ, though all Asuka got of her was her voice over the intercom.
“LCL now cooled to human optimal temperature. Pumps 1, 2, and 4 operating at normal capacity.”
Asuka stared in silence.
“Impressive, isn’t it?” Rei asked. “He’s managed to assemble nearly all of us into Nerv HQ.”
“Not everyone,” Asuka said, thinking back to the class list.
“Someone else is arriving in a couple of months, and not everyone works up here.” Rei chuckled awkwardly, trying to deflect Asuka's train of thought.
“We’ll still be one person short,” Asuka said sadly. “You know who I mean.”
Rei shrugged. “Anyways, this is Tactical. Your desk is over there.” She nodded to one side of the room. “Everything you requested.”
“How long until the Angel arrives?” Asuka asked, her voice trembling. This was it, she realized. The greatest threat to humanity was slowly approacing them. Everything depended upon destroying it as quickly as possible. No amount of training could have prepared her for this, and she would do nothing but give orders.
“Ten minutes. We’ll have her launched before then.”
Asuka walked to the edge of her level. She was vaguely aware of Suzuhara and Horaki waving, but she didn’t wave back. Instead, she stared at the immense displays. There were topographical, infrared, radar…. But most impressive of all was the television screen that was alternating between at least seventeen camera views, all of which featured the Angel.
“This is much better than what we have at Nerv-03," she said.
“Hamburg doesn’t need this equipment,” Rei responded. “The Angels will attack here, and only here. Germany is safe.”
“They attacked Antarctica,” Asuka whispered.
“It’s gone now," Rei responded coolly. She stepped forward to one of the displays and examined it for a moment. "This is the last line of defense for all mankind. If we fail, everyone dies."
Asuka couldn’t think of anything to say in response to that.
* * *
Maya entered the cockpit (called the Entry Plug by the Nerv officials) and looked around. She felt cramped by all the machinery around her, but managed to get into the seat towards the bottom. Here things were much more open. She took a deep breath and buckled herself in. “This is it…” she whispered.
She looked around the “Entry Plug”. The vast majority was simply the seat, but in front of her sat several holographic displays. One suddenly flickered on, revealing the face of a simple-looking woman about Soryu and Rei’s age.
“Hi. I’m Horaki Hikari!” she announced brightly. “I’ll help you get everything set up.”
“Th- thanks.” Maya stared blankly, feeling overwhelmed by everything that had just happened.
“So, you should know that each Entry Plug is filled with LCL. It oxygenates your blood stream, which is important in an emergency, and also acts as a cushion for high speed stuff. It should start filling in now. Don’t panic, you’ll be fine.”
Maya watched as two pipes in the bottom of plug opened up and began spewing an orange liquid. It made her want to throw up, but she couldn't get away; the top of the cockpit had been sealed above her.
“Good,” Horaki said when the entire plug filled up. “Now we’ll be moving you onto the lift.” Maya felt the Evangelion shake beneath her feet as it was conveyed somewhere. “And now you’ll be going up.”
When Maya felt capable of conscious thought after she “went up”, she came to the conclusion that if there hadn’t been any LCL in the plug, she would have been smushed like an insect against the windshield. Now she very nearly threw up again, out of sheer disorientation.
“Sorry about that,” she heard Captain Soryu say. “Okay, it’s time for the real challenge.”
“Think about taking a step forward. Do everything except actually move,” Rei offered.
‘Oh, those are wonderful instructions,’ Maya thought bitterly, looking ahead of her. Instead of the rusting cage, she was now looking out at the city streets of Tokyo-3, which had been darkened by the passing of sunset. No lights were on in the city. ‘Do everything except actually move. That’s what I’m doing right now…’ She focused as hard as she could, and still this “Eva-01” wasn’t moving.
“Come on,” she whispered. “There has to be a way to make this work…”
Unbidden, an image of Eva-01 lifting its right leg and stepping forward appeared in her mind. She focused on it as hard as she could, and felt the sudden shift as Eva-01’s leg really lifted and moved forward.
‘It would be really bad if I thought about this thing tripp-‘
The problem with unbidden images, Maya felt, was that they came and went as they pleased. Lifting her head up, she saw the holographic image of the captain and the doctor sighing in disbelief. And then they looked scared.
“The Angel is approaching!” she heard Horaki shout. “Get that Evangelion up, and get it up now!”
Maya imagined the Evangelion pushing itself up, and practically felt the resistance of the concrete roads below her in her own arms. Slowly, the Evangelion followed her mental picture into a standing position.
That left the problem of the Angel. Carefully, Maya swung the Evangelion around, holding tightly to the two handles that controlled… Maya wasn’t sure what they controlled. It wasn’t as if they exactly made the arms move. She did that without their help.
Down the street a little ways was the Angel.
The first thing Maya thought when she thought it was, ‘That shouldn’t exist.’
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Last edited by Legendary on Tue May 10, 2011 12:27 am; edited 3 times in total
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Fri May 06, 2011 7:37 pm Post subject:
In which an Angel is defeated
"And so it begins." - Kosh, Babylon 5, by J. Michael Straczynski
The “Angel” was hideous. Four thin, spindly legs stretched out over several blocks. The one closest to Maya, only a couple of meters away, thinned to an impossible point, a “foot” that had no business holding anything up, let alone a beast as massive as this. The foot lifted up, and Maya could see with shock that it had torn through the concrete.
Then the body of the beast came into view. It was a hemispheroid, roughly, but constantly bits of flesh bubbled along the surface, some occasionally popping and releasing some strange red gas. The worst bit though was the eyes. Yellow, but with blue irises, they looked more painted on at first. But as Maya squinted, they seemed to jump out at her as if they were real eyes, ready to pop out of their sockets. If Maya didn’t know better, she would have thought they were both painted AND real.
This, really, was all the more reason that such a thing shouldn’t be allowed to exist at all, and had Maya been the violent sort, she might have just charged it then, to kill it in the hopes that everything that seemed so horribly wrong would go away.
In reality, though, she was just scared.
It didn't even matter to her that she was in a giant robot. If she'd thought about that, she would have just found her circumstances all the more ridiculous. How would a purple machine of any level of gargantuan proportions make the least bit of difference against something this hideous? More importantly, what did they expect of her? She didn't have any training at all!
Try as she might to get a hold of herself, she couldn’t. All she could see was the giant robot being torn apart in her mind’s eye. She tried desperately to get the robot to move, thinking to grab one of the thin legs and pull the creature down, but all that happened was that the robot took a step backwards.
Maya couldn’t blame it.
“Do something!” she heard Asuka shout. “Please!”
She couldn’t. She just couldn’t.
It didn’t help that, shortly after that, one of the monomolecular blade-legs of the Angel stabbed right into the robot’s forehead, because the pain Maya felt in her own forehead rather distracted her from more pressing issues.
Asuka looked at her apartment despairingly. The entry hall was cramped, the living room was cramped, the kitchen was cramped, the bedrooms were cramped... It was cramped. “Really, Rei? This is what you guys consider a mansion?” Asuka couldn't believe HQ had assured her that her quarters would be some of the largest available to employees. What did the lieutenants stay in? Cardboard boxes?
“It’s big enough for someone who is living alone,” Rei said, carrying several boxes and depositing them on the kitchen table.
“It’s an apartment with three bedrooms and a bath! What says mansion about that?! There’s only one kitchen and there aren’t any servants to clean up after me!”
"You want a servant?” Rei asked disbelievingly.
Asuka put the box she was carrying down on the table next to the rest of the pile. “Geez Rei, I’m kidding a little. I mean, I did get told it was a mansion, but… This’ll do. Lighten up. We lived together for four years; you could take a joke then.”
“That was in college," Rei responded. "We're not really roommates any more, you know."
Asuka frowned. “So what?” she said. “What’s changed?”
“Your hair was red then,” Rei said, smiling a little to herself. "Isn't that change enough, when you think about it for awhile?" She went to the kitchen, produced a knife, and returned to start cutting the tape open on the boxes.
“So now I’m not allowed to make a couple changes?” Asuka glared at her old friend, no longer feeling so jovial.
Rei silently dug through a few of the boxes before pulling two from the pile and lifting them up. “It's not changes in general I mind, you know. Anyway, I can set up your hair for you if you like.”
“I like my hair this way!” Asuka shouted. “Red just looks weird to me lately!”
“Whatever. Should I hook up the TV or not?”
“No! I can do it myself!”
“Previous experience suggests otherwise,” Rei muttered, looking at the tangled mess of wires that Asuka had shoved into one box. “I believe that one of these was torn from a toaster.”
“I don’t need someone who can’t even support my new hair color plugging things in for me!”
Rei decided to be reasonable. “It’s just that color I’m against, you know. Why don’t you try blonde? Or blue, like mine? We could match. It would be fun...”
“What’s wrong with this color, then?” Asuka asked. "It's just a normal one, sure, but I don't really need to die my hair magenta to look good..."
“It makes you look pathetic.”
Asuka shook her head. “It’s pointless having these talks with you,” she commented. “You’re never willing to see anyone else’s point of view.”
Rei said nothing to that, instead just plugging in the cords to Asuka's small TV. She stuck around a little bit after that to help with the rest of the heavier lifting, but departed without much else said.
Maya opened her eyes. The pain was gone. So was the robot. Someone had moved her into a hospital room. A rather bright hospital room. Maya shut her eyes again, though the image of the sparsely decorated room burned in her retinas. It was small and cramped, with only enough room for one visitor at a time at best.
“Ugh…” she muttered. “I thought everyone was going to die if I didn’t win.”
A few minutes later, the light stopped burning through her eyelids, and she opened them and sat up. “Last time I trust that guy...” she muttered. She turned to the nightstand on her right and started. Sitting in a chair was “that guy”. What had they called him? Commander Ikari? “Uh…. Hi.”
He nodded, smiling.
“Uh… I’m not dead. I thought you said…” Then, the memory clicked. “You never said I had to kill it, did you? You said…”
“I said I wasn’t going to lie, and I’m not going to start now." The commander leaned in conspiratorially. "We desperately hoped that you would find it possible to fight that thing unaided, but I understand that you were frightened. That’s why there was always a back-up plan, but it was a back-up plan that still required you to be inside the robot. It's called Evangelion, by the way." He chuckled.
“Why did you need me to be inside it?” Maya asked, looking at the man with confusion.
“It’s complicated..." Ikari hesitated just long enough that Maya wondered if he was really having difficulty explaining or if he was just looking for the words. "The best way to explain it is that the Evangelion used a human mind for intelligence, and used your desire to live as a motivator. There’s a lot of stuff about electromagnetism in there somewhere that I don’t understand, but that’s a good and reasonably accurate way of putting it.”
Maya nodded. Artificial intelligences were still a few years off, according to one of her teachers (her old teachers? Was she to stay here now?), but most advanced tech companies and governments could get almost the same thing by "borrowing" the brains of real people.
“Um… sir?" No point in waiting to find out... "Am I going to have to stay here?”
“You could leave, if you insisted. But that would still leave us with the problem of having one other pilot, who is heavily injured.” Shinji looked down. "Poor kid..."
Maya paled. “I forgot about him. When will he recover?”
“We hope that he’ll be better in less than a month, but it is hard to be sure,” Commander Ikari admitted. “Would you like to see him? He’s staying in this hospital.”
“Uh…” Maya gulped. “I guess,” she muttered. “I mean, if I stay, I’m going to have to get to know him pretty well, aren’t I?” She wondered what he was like. Just a normal kid like her, or someone actually trained for this position? And then there was personality? Outgoing? Quiet? Hopefully not rude...
“I would assume so,” the commander agreed.
Maya pulled herself out of bed. Despite what she’d expected, it wasn’t difficult at all. She wondered why she was in a hospital when she didn’t have a single injury on her. She thought it might be weird to ask, though, so she merely let her superior officer lead her to the room next door.
Like her room, there was only one bed, and lying in it was a dark-haired boy, hooked up to, among other things, an IV, a breathing apparatus, and a heart monitor. Several limbs were in casts. Maya could barely stand to look at him at first, but then she recognized him.
‘I saw him yesterday…’ she thought. “What happened to him?” Before Shinji could answer, she added quickly, "What's his name?"
“Rokubungi Gendo. He’s a relative of mine, though I'm not quite sure exactly how." Commander Ikari chuckled briefly, and then continued. "As for what happened to him… Let’s just say there was a malfunction in our Test Type unit, Eva-00.”
Maya paled. “A malfunction?"
“Its AI turned on and attempted to attack the facility. You’re at no risk; your Eva won’t do that. He was injured when we pulled him out,” the commander explained.
“How do you know my Evangelion won’t do that?” Maya asked, looking from the boy to the commander in concern. Would that happen to her? Was that all they'd been banking on? Had the AI in the robot just turned on and attacked the Angel first, giving them enough time to figure out how to turn it off?
“Do you want to destroy this facility?” Ikari asked.
Maya was silent for a moment, shocked at the question. “No. I can't think of any reason to..."
“Then why would the Evangelion’s AI?”
Maya sat down at the waiting area by the front desk. Shinji had led her here and then excused himself quietly while some secretary had handed her a bunch of forms to fill out. Many, Maya noticed, had already been contributed to by her grandparents and were dated the seventh of July. 'They knew about this five days ago,' she thought angrily, 'and didn't see fit to tell me.' She sat down on one of the brown, uncomfortable chairs, and began to go through them.
Most of the forms were medical, but that wasn't a problem. Maya had never had any major illnesses and hadn't been born with even a single allergy. The rest were consent forms, which seemed a little unnecessary now. However, these too were back-dated. Even the spaces by where Maya's signature were required had already been dated the seventh. How convenient for Nerv.
She finished and handed in the forms, and was directed to wait until Doctor Ayanami arrived. She did so, counting the people entering and leaving the hospital idly. When the doctor finally arrived, Maya was no longer disoriented, and not in a particularly good mood.
"So I filled out the forms half an hour ago," Maya said.
Rei nodded. "Good," she said. "I hope it wasn't too much trouble." She smiled, revealing a set of perfectly white teeth, and continued. "Of course, as your grandparents contributed so much to the forms, I'm sure that you probably only had to supply your own signature a few times."
"Someone else helpfully dated the papers for me," Maya added.
The doctor adjusted her lab coat, unbuttoning the top button, but continued smiling. "I'm glad someone took the time to keep your effort as minimal as possible," Rei replied. "You're a pilot now, and have other things to worry about. I myself am going to lay down the ground rules now, so we're perfectly clear on everything. Would you like to do that here, or in my office?"
"All right then." Doctor Ayanami sat down in a chair next to Maya's and crossed her legs. "We have of course arranged for all the usual things for you. An apartment (here's the key)," she slipped a small envelope into Maya's hands, "enrollment at the local middle school, a small bank account for your payments to be deposited into, those sorts of things." Rei raised an eyebrow when Maya didn't react to the word 'payment.'
"Yes, Ms. Ibuki, we are paying you. The money should account for living expenses and leave you with enough for petty cash and the reserves for the occasional emergency. Not that you'll be having any major ones, of course. If your apartment is destroyed, you will receive another one free, and your medical is paid for by the government as well."
The doctor uncrossed her legs and ran her hand along one, smoothing out the bumps along the fabric. "You will attend school regularly, but afterwards you will be joining us here in the facility to train in Evangelion Unit 01. There will always be a dinner break, but training has no set schedule and can last as long or as little as we feel like."
Her smile broadened, looking all the more fake. "Do you understand?"
Maya nodded uncertainly.
"Excellent. Then tomorrow we may begin. In the meantime, you are excused to your apartment or anywhere else in the city, to do as you please." Rei rose. "Goodbye." She left almost immediately.
Maya stared, and then shook her head. "Thanks for the welcome...." Quietly, she opened the envelope, and a key and a piece of paper with an address on it fell out. She rose, and set out.
In the bowels of Nerv, the command center continued to operate, analyzing every facet of the previous night's battle. In a brief moment of respite, one of the lieutenants, the athletic, dark-haired Toji Suzuhara, turned to another working nearby, the more nerdy, sandy-haired Kensuke Aida. “So… in one day, we get attacked by an Angel, and Asuka shows up… Think it’s just a coincidence?” he asked, jokingly.
Kensuke rolled his eyes. “Just because you couldn’t get a date with her in college doesn’t mean she’s an enemy, you know.”
Toji grumbled and turned back to the console. “So. One day, one battle, and let’s see… We’ve got three dozen roads that need to be repaired, Eva-01 is missing an eye where the Angel stabbe-” He stopped as the third lieutenant who worked on the upper portions of the bridge, Hikari Horaki walked by and interrupted.
“No, it isn’t." Both of her associates turned to her in surprise. She continued talking while slowly pulling her own brown hair up. "All ocular damage was repaired overnight. We still don’t know why.” She sighed and fussed with the khaki uniforms all Nerv employees wore. Hers always felt a little too tight. "Our scientists think that maybe the wires there successfully retracted.
“Freaky..." Toji laughed a little nervously. "Well, at least that's some good news. We won't have to spend too much time on repairs for Eva-01."
“No,” Kensuke reminded Toji. “Eva-01 lost its head as well, so we still have ridiculous amounts of work to do.”
Toji sighed. “Plus, one of our pilots is in the hospital and the other one ended up there last night before doing any damage.” He returned his attention to the console. “If we keep taking damage like this, we’re screwed.”
Kensuke and Hikari didn’t say anything in response. They'd already worked that out for themselves.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Tue May 10, 2011 12:21 am Post subject:
In which Maya and Asuka meet new people
"A cruel story runs on wheels, and every hand oils the wheels as they run." - Ouida
“Argh! Nothing in this place works!"
That was an exaggeration, but only a slight one. The toaster was one of many appliances in Maya's new apartment slowly conspiring to ensure she'd be running late. She felt tempted to throw it out the window, but even that slight deviation from her schedule would make her late at this point, so she let it be. "It wouldn't be so bad if the shower had been hot," she grumbled.
Maya covered her unheated bread in peanut butter, grabbed her bag, and dashed out the front door. The school wasn’t too far away, so Maya got there before she’d even finished eating. Several dozen students were hanging around outside the front door, but no one paid her any attention as she walked by them.
She started rifling through her bag. When she'd arrived at her apartment yesterday several papers had been on the dining room table, and one had discussed her school situation a little more thoroughly than Doctor Ayanami had. “You will join Class 2-A. Akagi Ritsuko is Class Representative and will help you settle in.” She nodded to herself and found the class quickly.
Half a dozen people were already sitting at their desks, but only one of them noticed her, a blond. “Can I help you?” she asked, stepping up to Maya with a friendly smile on her face.
“Uh, yeah. I’m looking for Akagi Ritsuko...” Maya looked at the girl awkwardly and adjusted the shoulder strap of her bag.
“That’s me,” the other girl said brightly. “Are you the new student? Ikari Maya, right?”
“Uh, no... I'm Ibuki. Ibuki Maya. It's nice to meet you.” Maya bowed quickly.
“Oh. Sorry.” The class representative blushed slightly, embarrassed at her own mistake. "It's nice to meet you too." Ritsuko bowed in response. Maya was glad when she looked back up; bowing hid Ritsuko's face and most especially her eyes, which were a lovely shade of green.
“Where should I sit?” Maya asked.
Ritsuko pointed out a desk. “That one’s been empty for awhile,” she offered. “I don’t think Kobayashi-san is going to be coming back. I heard his dad got fired from Nerv.”
The pilot walked over to the empty seat and started putting her stuff in the desk, and was surprised to discover a laptop in the compartment. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Is there some way to get this back to-”
“You misunderstand. Every student has a laptop here. It’s for school use.” Ritsuko was chuckling a little.
“This is a 2014 model,” Maya said in awe, holding it up and examining it. “How could the school afford one for every student? Or even one per classroom?”
Ritsuko shook her head. “I don’t quite know. I hear that Nerv pays for it, but my dad’s always complaining about the budget cuts in his department. Anyways, that’s not important. There shouldn’t be a password for that computer, and you’re free to use it at any time to take notes or whatever, but you shouldn’t use the chat function during class.”
“Right.” Maya didn't even know who she would be talking to. Ritsuko probably only seemed so friendly because she had to go through the usual Class Representative spiel.
“Hey, Rii-chan!” some boy said, running in through the classroom door. “How’s it goin’?”
Ritsuko smiled at the boy. “Ry- Kaji-san. I’m all right, just helping a new student.” She nodded to Maya. “This is Ikar- Sorry. Ibuki Maya."
The new boy-- Kaji-- looked at Maya and chuckled. Maya wasn't sure what he was laughing about; her uniform and appearance were perfect while he just looked scruffy with his dorky ponytail and what little facial hair a fourteen-year old boy could grow. Plus his uniform was a little too big on him. "Interesting slip, Rits. So, Ikarsorryibuki, got any relatives in Nerv?" He still had that stupid grin and smile.
She shook her head. "No, I don't think so. None that I'm aware of anyway... I have a lot of cousins and maybe one of them..."
The boy started putting his things on the desk next to Maya's. Great. "One of them named Ikari? With a commanding rank?"
Maya’s eyes widened in disbelief. “The commander! My cousin?" She laughed. "That's funny! We're not related at all!"
“Good luck convincing everyone about that,” Kaji said, pointing to a couple of girls who were whispering to each other frantically. “I think the rumor mill is gonna get going pretty soon anyway..."
Maya looked at Kaji in confusion. "Um... Why would you even want them to start a rumor like that? Ritsuko just misspoke!"
"Actually, it's not just them..." Ritsuko said. "A couple of kids who have high-ranking Nerv parents were whispering about a new student coming in when I got here. They said some Ikari was coming in. I guess someone misheard. Still, I can't blame them. If you don't even have any Nerv family, why did they know?"
Kaji had a weird look in his eyes. Maya turned away. "I'm not related to Commander Ikari," she said firmly. "It's just a dumb rumor, okay?"
Ritsuko nodded. Kaji said nothing and Maya didn't look to see if he was doing anything or not. Kaji sat down on one side of Maya and Ritsuko sat in front of her, each deciding that the conversation was clearly over. Maya said nothing, deciding to get familiar with the computer before class began.
The next few minutes passed quickly, with all the students filing in. Ritsuko didn’t talk much (she was too busy smiling at Kaji), but Maya did manage to ask one question when it suddenly occured to her. “Who is our teacher?”
“Oh! Right!" Ritsuko turned around fully and blushed. "Sorry! Our teacher’s new. Strasberg-sensei. He’s a foreigner, but he’s apparently one of the best teachers or something.”
“Nerv’s paying for him too, then?”
Ritsuko shrugged. “Wouldn’t surprise me. Oh! Rise! Bow! Sit!” she cried, as Strasberg-sensei entered. He was young, perhaps Captain Soryu's age, and had dark hair that seemed more blue than black. He wore a simple uniform (white shirt and slacks) that was basically a larger version of the uniforms that all the boys were wearing (the girls of course were in blue and white dresses).
Everyone followed the class representative's directions, and turned expectantly to Maya. Strasberg, knowing that nothing would get accomplished until he had Maya introduce herself, nodded to her. “Ibuki-san," he said kindly, "Please come up and introduce yourself.”
“R- right.” Maya stood up and walked to the front of the class, deciding then and there to nip the stupid rumors in the bud. “Uh, there seems to have been a bit of a mix-up in the rumor mill. I’m Ibuki Maya, and I’m from Kikuna. No relation to Commander Ikari. I don’t think he has a daughter.”
“I heard he did,” someone “whispered”, “but that she was lost in Second Impact and got amnesia!”
“They do look sort of similar,” someone else added. “Maybe he finally found her!”
Strasberg rolled his eyes. “Quiet, kids. I’m sure Ibuki-san knows her own past better than you do.”
“Not if she suffered from amnesia!” a blonde called out. Strasberg glared and immediately the class fell silent.
Kaji sniggered; Maya glared. This was not going to be her favorite school year.
Lunchtime finally arrived. Maya found herself swamped by classmates who wanted so much to befriend “Commander Shinji Ikari’s long-lost daughter.” Besides Kaji and the class rep, who at least seemed genuine in their interest; there was a trio of girls, Mogami, Ooi, and Agano; two boys who seemed to be best friends, Hyuga and Aoba; and a boy named Yamada. Of course, there were actually
Maya angrily shooed the lot away, going up to the roof to eat by herself. No one followed her all the way up, but she was pretty sure she saw a few people staring out at her. When she finished eating, she went back downstairs, hoping that lunch would soon be over, but there were apparently still fifteen minutes left.
Kaji got up and sat by her when she came back in. “Still denying the rumors?" he asked. He still had that sickening grin on his face. Maya still wanted to punch it off of him. What was so entertaining about a bunch of people thinking something that was patently untrue?
“Can’t you do math?! I’m fourteen years old! I wouldn’t have been a fetus during Second Impact, let alone capable of getting amnesia!” Maya looked around the room. Surprisingly, no one was really paying attention to her.
“Maybe your ‘parents’ lied to you.”
Maya almost corrected him by pointing out that she'd been raised by her grandparents when she saw how stupid that was for arguing about her parents. “Why does everyone care anyways? What’s the big deal if I’m Commander Ikari’s daughter?”
Kaji grinned. “Simple. It would confirm that you are who you think we are.”
“And who would that be?” Maya asked, exasperated.
“The pilot of the Evangelion that saved everyone a couple nights ago,” Kaji answered casually, lacking his smile.
Asuka knocked on the door to Shinji’s office. She had been dreading this meeting the entire morning, but it had to be done. The door opened a and Asuka walked in.
The office was immense. It felt like she’d have to walk a mile just to get to Shinji’s desk, and it didn’t help that he was poring over papers, almost completely oblivious to her presence. She looked up at the ceiling, expecting an elaborate design or something. It was mostly brown, though there were a few flecks of silver and gold, like something had been painted there once.
“Hey, here’s the battle data you asked for,” she said when she finally made the crossing, holding out a small stack of papers.
He looked up, smiling. “Thanks,” he said.
“Ibuki seems to have some grasp of the controls," Asuka noted, "though it’s nowhere near as good as Rokubungi. We trained her for the past few hours. She's been doing quite nicely."
Shinji nodded, taking the report and looking over it. “We might just win this, if we can train her,” he muttered, seemingly to himself.
Asuka almost left him to his musings then, but then spoke up. “Hey, ba- Commander?”
“Yeah?” He looked back up at her, no longer smiling quite as much. Asuka wondered if she shouldn't have used her old nickname for him. Probably, but she had never been one to think about what she said. She was glad she'd cut herself off.
“Permission to speak freely?” That would probably be the best thing to do at this point. 'Damage control, Asuka. Damage control.' She smiled too. That would help.
A strange look crossed Shinji’s face before he said, “Of course.”
“Why did you request for me to be transferred here?” Asuka asked. She suspected it was just because everyone else from the ’05 class had been there, but she wasn’t certain. Maybe...
He gulped, and then said, “There’s a few reasons.”
“My being the best-prepared being one of them, right?” She sat down as he nodded. “It’s just, after what happened, I never thought we'd see each other again. Not that I mi-”
“Your competence is one of the reasons, but that’s not the only one. I… I knew you’d be honest. If I suggest doing something you think is stupid, you’ll say so.”
“Just like in school, huh?” Asuka said, thinking back for a moment before dragging her mind back to the present.
“Among other places, yes.”
Asuka frowned and fiddled with her necklace for a moment. “Look, Shinji, I…” The necklace was a cross. A cross, and a memory of a place they had in common, even though neither of them knew it until a few years after the fact. “I just want you to know, I’m over… over you, that is.” He didn’t say anything, so she kept going. “It was nothing but a silly schoolgirl crush on a favorite teacher. You were right and I was wrong… I said it, all right?”
Sighing, he replied. “It’s the past. If you don’t want to talk about it… we can put it behind us.”
Asuka nodded and stood up. “Good, well… I just wanted to get it out of the way now. So that we can work professionally.” She opened her mouth to ask why nearly all of her old classmates were working at Nerv, but lost the courage, and, needing something to say, managed, “I’m going to dinner now.”
“Enjoy,” Shinji said, looking back down at the paperwork in front of him.
Asuka made the long walk back to the exit, sighing to herself. It was better to have that conversation out of the way, but perhaps she’d only made things more awkward. She ate alone in the cafeteria, and then went back to the Command Center. Not very people were there at this time of day, and the ones that were seemed to be all grunts. She didn’t recognize anyone.
“This job sucks,” she muttered, loading up a map of Tokyo-3 on her console. “It’s gonna be a whole lot of waiting for a chance to throw kids at monsters…”
The map loaded up, revealing all of the automated defenses and all of the possible lines of defense the city could operate. The notes were many and complex, constantly relaying to her how much electricity something could cost, which lines couldn’t be operated simultaneously due to a lack of JSSDF forces, mentioning whenever something operated below 95% capacity, which sections were under repairs, which sections were due for maintenance.
It wasn’t so much a map as thousands of sticky notes thrown into a pile.
“How is anyone supposed to operate a thing like this?” she muttered, closing the program in frustration. “It’s so complex, it’s useless. I’d be better off leaving both Evas in the center of the city and plugged in twenty-four/seven.”
“An interesting proposal, but unfeasible, Captain,” a voice, caring and light, said behind her.
Asuka swung around to see a light-haired man smiling at her. “Uh…”
“I’m the Vice Commander, Nagisa Kaworu, representing the United Nations Committee in Charge of Nerv. It is wonderful to meet you.”
By the way, what are the thoughts of peoples here? Anyone got anything to say?
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Tue May 10, 2011 7:12 pm Post subject:
In which a report isn't burned, whatever its author might think
"The goal of all life is death." - Sigmund Freud
"Kotonoha Katsuko’s Report on Rokubungi Gendo:
Progress continues to be minimal.
Yesterday, we returned to our regular schedule of interviews. They went somewhat like every other one, except our opening discussion, in which instead of replying with “I feel nothing” to the question “How are you feeling?” he reported that he was in pain. I’d be angry, but really I should have expected as much.
He continues to refuse to cooperate with most of the exercises, informing me that they are pointless. My job is made all the more difficult by the standing order not to pry into his past beyond about five years or so ago. I am quite confident that whatever trauma happened to this kid, it has to have happened earlier.
Commander Ikari, I again request the right to look deeper into his profiles. At least let me know about his background. You can’t fix problems without a full knowledge of events.
Seeing as that won’t ever happen, here’s what I can determine about the boy:
1) He is repressing his emotions. Considering what little I know about him, the best reason I can come up with is that someone close to him died. Perhaps his parents?
2) He is intensely, fanatically loyal to Commander Ikari and Doctor Ayanami. As they are the only ones who display any knowledge of his past, I’d suggest that they “rescued” him from some situation and have inadvertently become replacement parents in his eyes.
3) Because of this fanaticism, he reacts negatively to any perceived effort to distance themselves from him. Doctor Ayanami’s activity in this regard is most unsettling, but she believes that he will not recover without learning not to cling to individuals in his present manner, and as such refuses to make herself closer.
This is the fifty-seventh time I have reported as such, nearly once weekly. If anyone actually reads these reports, they should know this. If, as I am beginning to suspect, this entire job is pointless, then I’m sure that this is merely the fifty-seventh time my reports have been incinerated."
* * *
Three days at school, and barely anyone believed her. Maybe not anyone, actually, though Ritsuko was polite and assured Maya that she’d know better than anyone else. Kaji kept joking that she was really sixteen, but a late bloomer to explain why she looked fourteen. She would have punched him, but… violence really wasn’t her forte.
While no one seemed willing to dismiss the stupid rumor, a few people were willing to shut up about it most of the time. Besides Ritsuko and Kaji, Hyuga and Aoba were cool about things, and Maya found herself hanging out with them more and more often.
Ritsuko, despite being Class Representative, couldn’t at all be considered prim and proper. She did the role well enough for the teachers, but around her friends she was more interested in punk rock bands than schoolwork. According to Kaji, she dyed her hair a different color every month, and blond was apparently unusual for her - she didn’t like colors that people could grow naturally. As far as Maya could tell, she was Ritsuko’s only female friend; she didn’t have much patience for most of the rest.
Kaji… Kaji was strange. He read every tabloid you could find in a supermarket, and seemed to have a few dozen others besides. Aliens, time travel, government conspiracies, he loved it. He didn’t seem to believe a word of it, but he kept reading anyways, laughing and wondering if maybe, just maybe, some low-key article might be real. About the only relatively sane thing he liked was the James Bond franchise, and that was only because he wanted to be just like the man when he grew up.
Makoto Hyuga would frequently humor Kaji’s tabloid obsessions, but most of the time he kept to himself, preferring the company of a good comic book to anyone else. He was the only one who really excelled at the schoolwork; no one else was bad per se, it’s just that he was a straight-A student. He and Kaji were best friends, and frequently hung out after school, even when no one else could.
And last was Shigeru Aoba. The kid was just as much of a weirdo as Kaji was, but in a completely different way. His hair was dyed, like Ritsuko’s, but black, a black that felt more unreal than anything else. He frequently expressed the belief that the Angels were going to destroy humanity sooner or later, something that Maya couldn’t help but agree with, though she’d never say it. He and Ritsuko were always talking about starting up a band together, but they couldn’t get a drummer or a bass player, so it was always dreaming.
“What would we call it, anyways?” Aoba asked the fourth lunch Maya spent at school.
“We need something big. How about…” Ritsuko considered for a moment. “First Impact?”
Maya looked at Ritsuko in disbelief. “Isn’t that… in rather poor taste?”
“Well, we’re not exactly going to be a clean band. We’re going to be cutting edge and offensive!” Ritsuko explained.
“But Second Impact killed-”
“Just drop it,” Kaji said. “Their band is never gonna get off the ground anyways.” He flipped the page of his latest tabloid. “Ooh, a squirrel gave birth to a three-headed alien.”
“It will too! We just need a couple more people.”
“To hide how poorly you sing and play?”
Ritsuko glared. “Look, Maya, what about you? Don’t you know how to play anything? Or we could teach you.”
Maya shook her head. “I don’t really have time. I spend half of my time after school doing synch tests at Nerv. I still haven’t memorized all the controls, and we don’t know when the next Angel will show up.”
“You haven’t been able to hang out after school any day this week, you know," Makoto said, almost accusingly. "Do they ever intend to give you a break?”
Maya looked down at her lunch for a minute. She was barely able to fit homework in around Nerv with the current schedule, and she’d heard Doctor Ayanami talking about revving up her training at least until Gendo recovered, so they wouldn’t be caught completely unprepared.
She’d asked why they couldn’t just rely on the AI to cover things, but Ayanami had pointed out that “We can’t rely on artificial intelligence to fix all of our problems. Something might go wrong.” So, until Maya could pilot the Eva perfectly, she wasn’t getting any breaks.
“Well,” Ritsuko offered, “you could come over on Saturday. There’s no school, if we’re lucky they won’t schedule anything for you that day.”
“I’ll see if I can get permission for that,” Maya said, but she doubted anything would happen in that respect. Briefly, she looked over at an empty desk by the window, where she was told that Rokubungi sat. She wondered when he’d get better.
She also remembered the unspoken implication in what the Commander had told her. She didn’t want to destroy the facility, but that meant-
* * *
Maya looked down angrily at her plugsuit. It was too tight, really. They said it wasn’t, that she just wasn’t used to skintight things and that after a couple of weeks everything would be just perfect and she wouldn’t even notice it. They were wrong.
She hated everything else about it too. The stupid purple color, the way the material blatantly changed around her breasts and crotch, drawing in all attention to them. She was sure everyone stared, even though she never did catch anyone did so. What the hell was Nerv doing designing uniforms like this?
LCL filled the chamber, orange and disgusting. Maya still felt like she wanted to throw up. Then everything went clear, and if Maya was perfectly still, she could pretend she was just sitting in an empty chamber.
But that definitely wasn’t the case, and even breathing reminded her. As she tried to inhale and fill her lungs, her expanding chest felt the resistance of the liquid around her, making breathing slightly harder. Moving her arms was even more difficult, and she found that it was best to find a comfortable spot for her legs immediately rather than ending up struggling against the LCL later. Whatever it was about this stuff that cushioned pilots in safely, it worked a little too well.
Sound became distorted. LCL mixed with the radio mixed with the noises of the Entry Plug around her managed to make everything come in twisted and slow. She tried to follow Asuka’s instructions exactly, but she had to guess what those instructions were. Go forward? DON’T go forward? What was the difference when she was stuck here in this machine?
And why care anyways? The LCL felt like a drug, soothing her to the point where nothing really mattered. Her eyes could barely stay open during this phase, and then everything became rhythmic; the machines beating like a loving heart. She had to focus, to tune it out.
Thousands of psychedelic images flashed in front of her. She wasn’t sure if they were really there, or if something about the synchronization process caused her to hallucinate about the empty white spaces of the Entry Plug.
Then there were noises, smells, tastes, and other sensations rolled across her. It was like being two people at once for a moment, a disorienting sensation that made her have to fight even harder to lift her feet, struggle against herself to move her arms, before she learned to ignore Maya Ibuki and focus in on the purple robot, and only the purple robot. Even then, Maya was always there, always not moving her legs and tripping herself up when she realized that. Still, even temporarily forgetting made it easier, easier to follow directions and run and jump and dodge and fire and most of all, most important of all, not scream.
She wasn’t allowed to be afraid any more.
So instead, she tried to breathe.
* * *
Asuka and a small fleet of technicians watched the battle from above the Pribnow Box where everything was being simulated, smiling at the ridiculous graphics used to represent the Angel. Maya and Eva-01 were behaving admirably, running through the gauntlet that Rei had programmed for them as best as they could. They weren’t perfect, still mistiming jumps or turning a little too soon, but Maya was getting the hang of it.
“It’s enough to make me think we have a chance,” she commented.
“You doubted that?” Kaworu asked. Asuka jumped a little and turned; he hadn't been behind her before. He was smiling. He always smiled, and while Asuka wanted to hate him for it, she couldn’t. There wasn’t ever any doubt in his mind that things were going to be okay. That made him different from every adult Asuka had known in fifteen years.
“Well, a little,” she said. “What are you doing here, anyways, Vice-Commander? I thought you had more important responsibilities than a training mission.”
Kaworu shrugged. “I like checking up on everyone. Making sure that all of our staff is doing well. It’s important.”
"Fair enough." Asuka turned back to the Pribnow Box. “How’s she doing?” she asked the technicians. There were at least a dozen; so many computers were stuffed into the small rectangular observation room and all of them needed constant monitoring during tests.
Suzuhara was the first to respond. “She’s averaging eighty-six percent as far as a success rate goes. Her synch rate, though, is as low as ever.”
“Any idea how to increase it?” Asuka asked. “What do you guys do for Gendo?”
“Extended training is all he seems to need,” Hikari said without looking up from her console. “Why are you asking though? Didn’t you train a pilot in Germany?”
“Well, of course. But I wasn’t around for her early training, just the last couple of years. She wasn’t good at first, but I never looked into how they jump-started her.”
Toji considered something for a few minutes. Asuka could tell by the way he was biting his lip. “Uh… well… maybe her synch would increase if we upped the difficulty of the training?”
“She’s only at 86% as it is.”
“So she’s doing well enough,” Toji argued. “Why improve when 9 times out of 10 you’re doing okay? If we force her to go twice as hard as she actually can, she’ll get better from the stress!” He actually sounded excited.
Asuka’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t think it works that way,” she said flatly.
“It might be worth a shot.”
Asuka shook her head. “Fine. Increase the difficulty or whatever. But you guys are dealing with this if she breaks down.” She turned to Kaworu, who was still watching. “Is there anything you need, sir?”
“I’ll be going now," he responded, still smiling. Always. "Report by my office later this evening, though, if you would. There’s a few things we should discuss about the strategic front.” He bowed very politely and then exited.
Once the door was closed, the technicians began to talk a little more freely about the vice commander. “He’s kinda weird,” Kensuke commented. “Nice, but… a little too nice, don’t you think?”
“I really don’t know,” Asuka answered. “I just met him.” She frowned to herself. Was there such a thing as too nice anymore? It wasn't like he could be an enemy spy for the Angels, after all. And all of humanity was on the same side, so there'd be no reason to fake friendliness. "I think he's genuine though. Maybe just not used to this part of Japan and overcompensating a bit. Besides, nearly everyone in the higher rankings knows everyone else; he's kind of the odd man out."
"I guess, but sti-"
"We have a job to do, Aida." The captain glared for a moment. "We can gossip later."
* * *
Gendo lay in bed, aching. They wouldn’t give him painkillers for another hour. He’d asked twice in the past hour, an unusual amount of conversation for him. No one had come to visit him in several days. The last time, the Commander had brought that girl, and she’d just stared at him pityingly. They thought he’d been asleep.
The commander had been lying to her, in a sense. Painting a picture that, from the right perspective, was entirely true, but, with all the information available, was clearly wrong. He’d nearly spoken out, but decided against it at the last moment. The half-truths might be better for the girl to know.
There were too many dark secrets running about the depths of the Geofront, hidden in dark corners behind locked doors behind mazes upon mazes. Secrets kept so far down that no one could hear the bleeding or the screaming, not matter how loud it got.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 6:38 pm Post subject:
In which synchronization is explained
"Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing." - Albert Einstein
Maya woke not to the sound of her alarm clock but to the sound of the phone ringing. Slowly, she pushed herself out of bed and ambled over to the phone, which was kept in the kitchen. Her house was slowly becoming a mess, she realized. She hadn't had a chance to clean it yet. The past seven days had been far too busy for her to do much but come home after training, do some homework, and collapse into her bed, which still hadn't been made.
She answered the phone. "Hello," she said. "This is Ibuki Maya..."
"Sup! It's Kaji Ryoji." Maya giggled to herself. His voice was a little deeper over the phone, which made him sound more like an adult. "Sorry for calling so early, but I wanted to get a hold of you! Rii-chan and I forgot to mention. We were gonna go hang out at the park tomorrow; there's a guy there who makes ice cream and he always has discounts on Monday. Can you come?"
Maya sighed. "I don't know. I think I have stuff to do tomorrow..." She looked around the kitchen. The dirty dishes in the sink were a nice reminder of how much training she'd been putting in lately. Maya wasn't a good pilot or anything, not yet, but this level of training seemed ridiculously excessive. She worked from two-thirty until ten, not counting dinner.
"You have training every day," Ryoji protested. "Can't you get a day off or something? I'm pretty sure people get those if they work in Japan. At least one a year."
"I didn't say I was tr-" Maya began.
Ryoji didn't let her finish. "It's pretty much blatantly obvious, Maya. You couldn't have given yourself away any more if you'd shown up to school wearing an official Nerv uniform. But seriously. Get a day off."
Maya laughed again. "I'll try," she said, bowing and smiling even though he couldn't see her. "Thanks for inviting me, by the way."
"Of course. I mean, you don't have any other friends to hang out with right now, since you just moved here, so..." Ryoji hesitated. "Well, I think you're cool so you should hang with us, Miss Eva Pilot!" He laughed a bit. "See you tomorrow in class?"
"See ya." Kaji hung up, and Maya did too. She looked around her kitchen angrily. She really should get to work on this place before she had to leave for Nerv...
* * *
The commander walked down the hallway slowly, thinking. The Committee still refused to release their translations for the Dead Sea Scrolls, and as they had the only complete copy he had no other recourse. The Angels were predicted within them, described in cruel detail that would further the survival of mankind. He needed those papers.
He turned a corner, intending to ride the elevator up to his office. However, the doors were already open, but closing quickly.
“Hey, hold the elevator!” Shinji called out.
The person inside quickly pressed the Hold button and waited for him to come. It was Asuka, smiling. “Hey,” she said. “Which floor?”
“My office,” Shinji responded.
Asuka sighed. “You never leave your office if you can help it, do you? I think this is the first time since the Angel that I’ve seen you outside it.”
“Well, my quarters adjoin it, so between sleeping and all the paperwork I have to worry about, I usually don’t have time. I only left recently because I had a meeting with the Committee.” Shinji blushed, knowing she had a point. Lately he'd spent far too much time there.
“The Committee? That’s who Kaworu represents, right?”
Shinji's eyes narrowed. “You call him Kaworu?”
Asuka looked up to see how many floors they had left to go. Only a few more. Good. This conversation was going to be ridiculous, she could just tell. “He asked me to. He… he’s kind of cool for a superior officer.”
"He isn't," Shinji retorted.
The captain raised an eyebrow. "Really? What is he then, Commander?"
“He’s a fanatic,” Shinji said. “That’s all he is.”
It was better than the typical “He’s not as nice as he seems to be!” that Asuka had seen in so many TV shows, but only just. “Look, Commander, I’m not interested in Kaworu at all. He’s my superior officer and we’ve been working on tactical plans together over the past week. You don’t have to warn me away from him. It’s just a cliché.”
Shinji sighed. “I’m talking about you even being friends with someone like him. Surely you remembered what we talked about in those classes? The Committee is only interested in people doing what they’re told. They’re saving the world for their own sake, not anybody else’s.”
The elevator doors opened, and Asuka stepped out. For a brief moment, the harshest words she could have said wanted to spring out, leap from her lips like flung spears and eviscerate the Commander. She very nearly started to say something, but the elevator doors were shut and the device continued upward.
“Dammit, Commander,” she muttered to herself.
* * *
Her frustrations with the Commander were soon forgotten when she arrived in Nagisa’s office. It was immaculate; every shelf carefully organized, every piece of furniture kept dusted, every picture on the wall straightened. His desk was completely cleared of papers or anything else, and instead was projecting a holographic map of Tokyo-3. Asuka sat down in the chair opposite Kaworu’s and bowed her head.
“Morning!” he said brightly. Always polite, always cheerful. Asuka wondered briefly if it was a façade, but didn’t ask. Everyone born before 2000 had them. No reason to push his.
“Hello,” she said, looking over the map. “I see my latest changes were approved.”
Kaworu nodded. “Correct. If this last defense line-" He pointed to a line of gun turrets guarding the oceanfront of a nearby town. "-meets with your approval, we can start discussions about the Evangelion weapons. Research and Development has a few dozen ideas.”
Asuka’s eyes widened. “That many? But… We only have a couple of Evangelion units, and the guns-”
“The guns are apparently not enough, according to them. Or at least, it might be worth it to see what else we can build. You are aware that there are two competing companies, aren’t you?” Kaworu reached into a drawer to produce papers on them, but Asuka cut him off.
“I read something about that in the report. Heavy Chemical Industries is building something. But the only other information about mechas I saw was something about the JSSDF, who aren’t exactly a company.” Asuka grinned a moment. “Surely they’re not in competition with us?”
“Well, I’m sure you can understand that the Japanese government doesn’t enjoy having so much reliance on a multi-national organization. They could actually be a world power if they got rid of their dependence on Nerv and its signatory nations, so having a project of their own that can deal with the Angels would be the best thing that could ever happen to them.”
Asuka frowned. “So we’re designing more weapons to seem more competent, so that HCI and the JSSDF don’t have a chance? That’s a waste of money.”
“Give the designs a chance,” Kaworu said. “We have to pay R&D to do something until we fight more Angels and see what they’re capable of.”
“I guess. So, whaddya got?”
Kaworu opened a different drawer, and the designs poured forth. They weren't even all ranged weaponry; swords and other melee weapons had been presented. Asuka could see some use in them; if an Angel tried to get too close to one of the Evangelions having something to deter it besides a prog knife.
"Um, wow." Asuka laughed. "We've got a lot to talk about, huh?" She picked up a couple design papers. "Let's get started."
* * *
Maya gulped as she knocked on Doctor Ayanami’s office door. She'd asked where the doctor worked and while the technicians had been glad to tell her where it was, they'd said that the doctor didn't particularly enjoy being interrupted in the course of her work. She had important things to do. Samples to analyze, reports to write, proposals to approve... She barely had time to see anyone.
Maya pushed the door open, and looked inside. The office was covered in computer monitors, and the whirring of the fans was immense. Even with that the room was sweltering. Worse than Maya’s apartment had been the day she'd moved in. On top of that; the place was both spartan, with no personal possessions visible, and felt unclean, with the metal walls slowly rusting.
“Uh, Doctor?” Ayanami didn’t look up from the computer she was working with, or say anything, so Maya was forced to keep going. “I was wondering about my training schedule. I’ve trained seven days straight now, and… I was wondering if I could have a day off.”
The doctor looked up at her. “What for? Are you ill?”
“N- no. It’s just… I’ve got some friends, and it would be nice if I could have a day to relax with them every now and again. Not often, just… once a week… or… something?” Maya gulped again.
Ayanami sighed and turned her attention back to the computer screen. “What’s your synch ratio right now?”
“Uh, I guess it’s something like twenty-five percent. And it was only twenty when I started!”
“That’s not nearly good enough. Gendo still has a ratio of thirty percent. You need to continue training. The next Angel might arrive tomorrow, and you’ll be stuck all alone. Maybe when Gendo finishes recovering, we can arrange for you to have a day off.”
“That’s ridiculous! I’m barely keeping up with schoolwork as it is!”
Ayanami shrugged. “You go to school so you can have a normal life, Pilot Ibuki, not for grades. We know we can’t just train you constantly. I can assure you it doesn’t really matter if you pass or not.”
‘Lovely,’ Maya thought.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm busy. Please leave." Rei turned back to the computers and said nothing more. Angrily, Maya was forced to leave. She wasn't really all that surprised she'd said no.
* * *
Nerv had coined many terms over the years, but this counted as one of the weirdest. The ratio part was easy enough to understand, obviously, but the main issue was the other word. Synchronization.
The human mind is a self-contained object. It can gather input through nerves, and it can send instructions to various parts of the mind. That’s it. End of story. Telepathy is a myth, precognitive dreaming merely the two times a day a broken clock is right. Nothing short of a vast amount of energy expended to alter humanity could change that.
Nerv had explored one of those ways, developing the Evangelion units. Bits and pieces of things almost but not quite identical (excepting scale) to human nerves were strung through each and every limb of the humanoids. These nerves were strung together in inhuman ways, and where they met in tangled coils, radio transmitters had been placed, relaying electrical data.
The data was sent through the LCL at a fraction of a fraction of a second; slowed down, but not enough for the human brain to notice. The receivers? Tucked away in what initially seem to be hair-clips. They’re not though. Each of them has a tiny microdrill, and when placed on a human head they push their way in and connect to the nerves of the brain.
The receiver, called an A-10 Nerve Unit, converts the electrical energy into something the brain can understand, and disrupts the normal path of the mind with the new signal, fooling someone into believing that an Evangelion arm is their own arm. But even that isn’t good enough. At first it doesn’t produce a powerful enough signal for full disruption, and the regular signals of the brain come in, producing disorientation. A low synchronization ratio.
But damage the brain enough, continue to interfere with the signaling of its nerves, and eventually the A-10 units will disrupt the brain completely whenever attached to a human being. A high synchronization ratio. 100%.
Strangely, some argue that that isn’t as high as you can go, even though you can’t remove the normal signals any more than you already have.
* * *
“So,” Ritsuko said when Maya came to school on Monday. “You can’t come, can you?”
Maya shook her head angrily and slammed her bag onto her desk. “It’s stupid! Seven straight days of training and they won’t let off or anything! The doctor claims that I’ll get a break as soon as Rokubungi recover-” She didn’t even have a chance to finish before Ryoji started laughing.
“That’s what she says now, sure. I bet that as soon as he recovers, you won’t get a break until you know how to work together.”
Maya nodded. “I was willing to bet as much.”
The bell rang before they could continue that line of thought, and then the teacher began talking about Second Impact. He talked about the meteorite that caused it, including the well-known “paradox” that something so small could do so much damage. He asked why that was, and Ritsuko’s hand shot into the air immediately.
“Because it was moving at ninety-nine percent the speed of light,” she said in a bored tone, managing to add a second layer of meaning: “We learned this when we were five. Can we move on now?”
Strasberg-sensei sighed. “Right,” and went on about the man who detected it (Caimoa Nan), and the instant annihilation of two billion people living in the southern hemisphere, etc, etc, etc. He didn’t ask any questions though, and Maya decided to start doodling rather than paying any attention to him. She soon realized, looking up a little while later, that nearly everyone else was ignoring him too.
For a brief moment, the alarms that suddenly went off were a relief.
Then she realized that they meant an Angel was coming.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Thu May 12, 2011 6:14 pm Post subject:
In which Maya betrays a friend
"An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified." - Gospel of Luke
‘Breathe… Breathe and don’t stop breathing no matter what,’ Maya told herself as the LCL flooded the chamber. ‘It won’t even be so bad this time. They say that Gendo will be deployed with me.’
Colors and sounds flashed by again. It didn’t feel so weird this time. Eva-01 was carted onto the lift again. Maya barely noticed it. One point five seconds later, Eva-01 stood on the streets. Its pilot barely felt the urge to throw up.
“Where’s Eva-00?” she asked.
Over the comm, Captain Soryu responded. “Five blocks to your south. That’s not important though. You remember where Gun Tower 3-A is? Go there.”
Maya paused a brief moment before running forward a few blocks and then turning right. The tower was already opening as she approached it. Maya realized, as she reached for the gun, that the entire skyline of the city was different from how it was normally. She wondered why that was.
“The Angel didn’t destroy any of the skyscrapers already, did it?” she asked anxiously.
Horaki laughed. “No. They can be retracted into the Geofront. Don’t worry about things. The target’s fifty meters away from you now. Rokubungi will make contact first. Hurry and go northwest.”
Maya nodded and sent the Evangelion running. Tokyo-3’s street system had been designed strangely for a driver, but quite nicely for an Evangelion. Instead of being one perfect grid running north to south and east to west, there were several small grids of streets throughout the city, some of which ran along the forty-five degree angles. Two blocks from where she stood the streets curved along that angle, and she followed them.
This new Angel loomed tall above her, shining and strangely metallic. The form was humanoid, like an Evangelion, but much thicker. Light reflected off of the creature’s body in several directions. Each reflection Maya could see was subtly wrong, somehow. The shapes of the towers around them were twisted, curling in around each other.
Once again, the mere appearance of the Angel gave Maya the sensation that something was horribly wrong in the world. Once again, some instinctual part of her brain told her to kill it, to kill it quickly and destroy all remnants of it to put things right.
Once again, she was getting a headache.
She turned to the other presence in the battlefield; the bright blue and white robot Evangelion Unit 00. So far, the pilot within it had maintained strict radio silence, and Maya had no idea what Gendo was up to, but presently he held a gun in each hand and was firing rapidly. Unfortunately, a strange barrier of rainbow colors formed between the two giants, and every shot was deflected.
Maya held up her gun and began firing as well. Another rainbow barrier formed between her and the Angel, much to her frustration. And, on some level, terror.
“What is that thing?” she demanded angrily.
“The Fourth Angel is projecting an Absolute Terror Field.” Lovely name, perfectly reassuring, nothing at all to distress Maya in the least. “Project your own AT Field to counteract the effects.” Captain Soryu added, “Gendo, you too.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Maya heard the boy state.
Eva-00 lowered its guns for a moment, and Maya watched in amazement as the barrier between the two giants began to flicker, and eventually fade. Unfortunately for Gendo, the instant the barrier was gone the Angel reached out quickly and grabbed Eva-00’s neck, tightening its grip. Maya was impressed that its pilot didn’t cry out at all.
Because the AT Field seemed to still be down, Maya fired quickly at the Angel. All of the shots bounced off of the creature’s metallic form, splitting into six different shots as each bolt hit and going off in completely different directions. Maya heard some exclamations from the command center about that, but she wasn’t paying them any attention.
“If I can’t hurt it with my gun, what can I do?” she muttered. A crazy idea entered her head, and she went with it. Its reflective surface might block light and plasma, but could it block solid objects? With that in mind, she charged, not caring what the command thought. She had to get Gendo out of that thing’s death grip.
The plan worked, more or less. The butt of the gun did damage, yes, and the Angel let go of Gendo, but Eva-00 collapsed and Maya only heard Gendo gasping for breath as the creature swung around to face her. Then, naturally, it grabbed onto her. Maya began to scream.
Then of course, she started running out of air.
And then, a great deal of time later, she passed out.
* * *
And woke up in a hospital bed again.
“I can’t keep doing this,” she muttered as soon as she remembered who she was and why she was there.
This time, when she sat up, the Commander wasn’t there. She didn’t know what she thought about that. No one even entered her room for half an hour, and that was only a nurse who’d been expecting to come in on a sleeping girl.
“What happened?” Maya asked, not really caring. Whatever it was, she’d won.
“Gendo Rokubungi recovered in time to defeat the Angel,” the nurse answered simply. “Before that though, HQ forcibly disconnected you from your Evangelion to prevent damage.”
“Forcibly disconnected?" Maya stared at the nurse in confusion. "Do you know what that means, ma'am?"
“No, I'm sorry. I don't.” The nurse started taking Maya’s pulse. "I'm just a regular nurse, Miss Ibuki. I don't really understand how the Evangelion units function. That's for more advanced doctors."
Maya couldn’t think of anything else to ask if she was just talking to a regular physician, so she sat back and tried to relax as the nurse looked over her. She came out with a reasonably clean bill of health, and was assured that any lasting pain she might have from synching would fade out by tomorrow morning. Then the nurse left, not saying anything else. Maya was left alone on her bed, and she realized then that she had nothing to do.
At no time that day did anyone come to visit her. The nurse only came two more times; once to deliver dinner, once to take the plates away. Maya leafed through some magazines that the hospital provided, but saw that there was nothing of interest. She tried sleeping for awhile, but she always came back to the same dream.
* * *
The moon hung high in the sky, impossibly large and seemingly made entirely out of light. Only rough strokes of light gray suggested to Maya that it was supposed to be the moon at all. Excepting the moon, everything was draped in red and orange light. The sound of trains echoed somewhere in the distance, but Maya could not see where it originated from, nor anything else of interest. The world extended out forever, flat and uninteresting.
So she walked, and walked, and walked. It might have taken her forever just to walk. Maybe it was only an hour, or even less. It was hard to tell in dreams. But with all the walking, she never saw anything; nothing except the vast moon and the red Earth. If humanity existed at all in this dream, it had long ago walked away from this strange world. Who could blame it?
She gave up, and fell to the red Earth to lie on the ground. Then she heard someone, or perhaps something, say her name.
And then she woke up.
* * *
Maya was given her schoolbag the next day and was driven to the middle school with Gendo, who had apparently spent the night in observation. He said nothing the entire drive, staring out the window despite her best efforts to communicate. When the car stopped in the parking lot, Gendo practically flew out of the car and started jogging to the school building before Maya had even unbuckled her seatbelt. The driver chuckled.
‘Shut up,’ Maya thought angrily as she got out of the car. ‘I should just quit. I haven’t even defeated either of the stupid Angels, and Gendo must have killed that Second Angel before I got here.’
She sat down at her desk in a funk, but this didn’t seem to stop Ritsuko from smiling at her. “I'm glad you're okay! We were worried about you when you didn't come back to school yesterday." She laughed. "How did the fight go? Did you show that Angel who was boss?!"
“I didn’t really do much,” Maya responded. She was about to explain more about what had gone wrong in this battle when Ryoji came running up.
“Look at this, Maya-san!” he said, laughing. “It’s great!” He held out a tabloid, which she took wearily.
“ANGELS - A SIMPLE NAME, OR THE REAL DEAL?” the headline asked. Under it was, “IS NERV WAGING WAR AGAINST GOD?”
Maya couldn’t help but chuckle a little and opened the tabloid up to the article proper to begin reading aloud. “‘Yesterday the thir-’” Maya paused here. “That’s a typo,” she explained. “It should read fourth. Anyways… ‘Yesterday the third angel arrived in Tokyo-3. But was it a simple alien monster, or the Angel of Secrets, Raziel?”
Ritsuko shook her head. “They’ve really outdone themselves this time.” Then she asked, “So, do you want to come over today?”
Maya considered for a moment. They’d told her two days ago that they’d scheduled a training session every day for another week, but… She didn’t care anymore. She knew, deep down, that she’d tell them she was leaving, that she wanted them to find someone else to replace her. She wasn’t good enough anyways.
“Why not?” she said. She'd just leave, and that would be the end of it. It was a perfect plan, really.
* * *
It was no surprise to Maya that as she left the school with Ritsuko and Ryoji, several Nerv agents slowly stepped out from their hiding places around the school. She didn't know there were any such men tasked with watching her constantly but it wasn't that much of a surprise when she thought about it. They slowly approached her.
One asked, "Did you forget that you have an obligation with us today?"
Everyone turned to Maya, and she sighed. "I know," she said. "But..." She almost said, "I quit," but decided that that would probably be too dramatic now. "I want to see Dr. Ayanami."
They nodded and one whispered into a walkie-talkie. A car pulled up, and the agent opened the door. "Get in," he said.
Maya turned back to the other two. "Sorry," she said.
Ryoji shrugged, Ritsuko nodded. "It's cool," she assured her. "We'll see you later, promise." The two turned and continued on, though Maya noticed as she got into the car that they turned back occasionally to look. She sighed to herself and waved as the car drove past them. They waved back, but weren't smiling.
The car ride was long and circuitous; Maya noticed that they frequently went around in circles. As it seemed unlikely that the agent was deliberately incompetent, it must have been... Maya wasn't sure. A punishment for not being willing to pilot every day they told her to? Maybe.
Finally, they pulled into one of the buildings that led down into the underground facilities, and the car was taken to a small, familiar parking garage. The agents let her out and walked her through the maze of hallways to the familiar office of Doctor Ayanami. Maya opened the door and went in. The agents didn't follow.
The doctor's computer wasn't on, and she had turned her chair so that she was facing Maya. The room was as dark and grungy as ever. The only bright thing in the room was Ayanami's smile. "You wanted to see me?"
"I..." Maya sighed. "I can't keep piloting."
Rei didn't respond for a moment. "May I ask why?" she finally said, looking annoyed. "Your synchronization ratios remain as high as ever."
Maya sighed. “I’m clearly not good enough in actual combat,” she said. “You need someone who can actually pilot.”
Again a pause, then surprisingly, the doctor nodded. But her smile had twisted, and now looked more threatening than inviting. “Very well. We’ll save Eva-01’s AI, replace its core with a new one, and select a new pilot.” The doctor paused a moment to look at a computer screen. “Hmm, this Akagi girl will do,” she muttered. “She’s your age. Are you absolutely sure you’re going to leave?”
Maya hesitated. Should she leave, if it meant Ritsuko would be stuck piloting? She hadn’t known the girl for very long, but she had been nice. She gulped. It didn't matter. Maya wasn't good enough. “Yes.”
Doctor Ayanami clicked a few things with her mouse. “Your records are now on standby. We can arrange for you to be sent out of the city in two days.”
The Doctor was still smiling, but now Maya couldn’t tell if it was warmly or coldly. “Is that all?”
Maya nodded, trying to ignore the sinking feeling in her stomach. She was told to leave, and she did.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Fri May 13, 2011 6:10 pm Post subject:
In which Gendo volunteers information
"By this arrangement the mutual need for warmth is only very moderately satisfied; but then people do not get pricked" - Schopenhauer on The Hedgehog's Dilemma
Asuka sat on Rei’s desk, sighing. “So she’s already leaving then, is she?” Rei wished she would get off the desk; Asuka had a habit of posing and was currently leaning back slightly, her legs crossed and swinging slightly together, bouncing off the edge of the desk.
“In two days, yes,” Rei said, trying to focus on the displays on her computer. She wasn't concerned at all. There was always a way to make the pilots come back; she just hadn't found it yet. “I do have an extra chair, you know.”
“I'm fine,” Asuka said, not moving in the slightest. “I just don’t get it. You guys were ready to tie her up and throw her in Eva-01 if she didn’t cooperate the first day she got here, but now you’re just ready to let her go?”
“We can’t really force her,” Rei explained. “People still have rights, whatever power the Diet might have given us. Besides, a completely unwilling pilot kept in an Eva would be a liability.”
“Funny how that never got mentioned that first night,” Asuka muttered. “I mean, I know I’m the one who convinced her in the end, but that’s just because we needed her. If I hadn’t said anything, we all would have died.” She looked around the room. Rei had been a clean freak when they'd been in college together; it seemed weird that she would appreciate such a grungy room.
“You don’t need to justify yourself to me.”
“Why’d we send for her anyway?” Asuka asked suddenly. “Aren’t there plenty of potential pilots we can use? I keep hearing about the Marduk Institute.”
Rei looked up from her computer. “If I tell you, will you let me work in peace?” Asuka nodded almost immediately, excited. She barely even noticed that Rei was suddenly smiling again. Rei preferred it that way.
* * *
“You’re leaving?!” Shigeru shouted. “But you just got here!”
“I know…” Maya played with her lunch idly. She had considered not even coming back to school, but had realized that morning that despite it all, she wanted to say goodbye to everyone. She also knew she needed to warn Ritsuko ahead of time, but she wasn’t entirely how to phrase it.
“Well,” said Kaji, “you could at least tell us why.”
Maya took a moment to answer, looking around at the group, who had scooted their desks together to form one large table to eat on. “I’m not good enough to pilot for Nerv, okay? I didn’t even really kill either of the two Angels I fought. The AI killed the first one, and the other one…” She looked over at Gendo.
Ritsuko looked a little hurt. “I thought you’d be staying awhile. It was fun, even if we only got a chance to hang out during lunch.” She looked over at Gendo as well. “Besides, you’re the much nicer of the two pilots. We could have found out so much from you.”
“That’s probably not a good reason for her to stay though,” Makoto said. “If she’s not doing very well, then why should she stick around? It doesn't sound like anything that's all that fun..."
Ritsuko glared. “I wasn’t saying she should stay if she’s not enjoying it! I’m just saying… Besides, I trust her more for the whole ‘saving the world’ thing than I do that kid. He hasn’t spoken once! When Strasberg-sensei asks him questions, he just doesn’t answer until someone else volunteers. He’s either a jerk, incredibly full of himself, or retarded!”
“You shouldn’t talk about him like that,” Kaji commented jokingly. “Today’s magazine says that both pilots have ray guns with all the power of an N2 mine! He could incinerate you for talking about him like that!”
“Shut up, Kaji,” Ritsuko and Shigeru said simultaneously.
The boy sighed. “Just trying to lighten the mood,” he muttered.
“Anyways,” Makoto said. “We will miss you, Maya-san. Are you sure you can’t stay in town?”
Maya shook her head. “I guess they’re sending me back to my grandparents. That won’t be all that great, but… At least I’ll get to see my friends back home. And I’ll be sure to send you guys some emails, okay?”
The lunch bell rang, which prevented Maya from talking to Ritsuko about the change in piloting. She resolved to tell her as soon as school was out, but when that came, she was approached by someone else.
“I wish to speak to you,” Gendo said, standing in front of Maya’s desk. “Now.”
“Uh…” Maya turned to Ritsuko and the rest of the gang, who were grabbing their stuff and getting ready to leave. “I-”
“We’ll see you tomorrow, Maya!” Kaji said. “We’ll be at the train station, don’t worry about that!”
“Bye!” Ritsuko added.
Maya turned back to Gendo, glaring. “What is it?” She hissed. "I was going to talk to Ritsuko! She's going to be in charge of piloting in my place, you know!"
“You’re quitting,” he said simply.
“Yes,” Maya replied. “I’m quitting. What do you want?”
“Why?” he asked.
“Why? Weren’t you paying attention in that last battle? What part of ‘I can’t even stay conscious while fighting’ didn’t you get?!”
Gendo didn’t react at all to her raising voice. “That’s not a sufficient reason to quit,” he commented. “You have yet to even be truly injured.”
“I’m not good enough. I’ll just get hurt and let you down sooner or later.”
The boy glared. “You should have tried harder,” he said. Then he turned away and left.
Maya sat at her desk for several minutes in disbelief. That boy… The first time he’d spoken to her, and it was just to chew her out for not being good enough? “Jerk!” she muttered. “Ritsuko was right. That’s all he really is. A jerk or a retard.” She stood up and grabbed her bag.
She left the school building and looked around. This would be the last time she’d be here. It was better than the old school, she had to admit. Strasberg-sensei had been much cooler too; he actually seemed to be interested in teaching people things.
The yard was empty, which was a little odd. Maya sat down on a bench for a few moments, staring up the sky. “I really should have told Ritsuko about the piloting thing during lunch,” she muttered. “What’s she going to say when she finds out? What will she think of me if she finds out that I knew? What… what would happen to her?”
She couldn’t help but imagining either of the Angels easily eviscerating Eva-01, with Ritsuko inside. Her mind’s eye would occasionally generate the image of the plugsuit, torn and battered; the only thing still remotely recognizable from the ordeal.
She shuddered and stood up.
“I need to pack," she decided. Maybe that would distract her.
* * *
Gendo lay back on the couch. “This is pointless, Doctor,” he said.
Katsuko took a few breaths and looked around her office. She'd requested special leather furniture to make the room more comfortable, she'd painted the place to make it more soothing, and she'd arranged and rearranged everything in perfect accordance with feng shui. None of it helped her urge to kill the kid. ‘I know,’ she thought. ‘The Commander still won’t give me permission to ask you anything useful.’
She reached into her desk and produced a notepad and pen. “Don’t be so defeatist, Gendo.” She considered a few moments, trying to think of a question that she hadn’t asked before. Well, a question she was allowed to ask. “Have you talked to your former co-pilot?” she asked finally.
“After school today.”
When their sessions had first started, Katsuko would normally wait a few seconds after Gendo stopped talking, in case he was going to volunteer more information. She had learned quickly that he never actually did. “I see. What did you say?”
“I told her she should have tried harder.”
“At being a pilot?” Katsuko was surprised. Gendo was willing to talk about his opinions? To someone he barely knew? This was completely unlike him.
“Well, why?” Katsuko stopped doodling on her notepad and prepared to actually write down the things Gendo might say. This could be important.
“Because she should have.”
‘If I kill him, I’m out of a job.’ Katsuko shut her eyes. “Why do you think that?”
“Doctor Ayanami says she didn’t try very hard. And she only ever fought two Angels anyways. She acts like they’re super-dangerous, but… I think she just doesn’t think in battles.” That was more than Katsuko had ever heard from Gendo in one round before.
“Uh, but surely you can understand that? The girl must have just been panicking, after all. It’s to be expected, isn’t it?”
“I don’t panic.” Did he have any emotions, Katsuko wondered. She'd never seen him have any, but surely there were some. No one could possibly be completely emotionally numb. Not as long as Gendo had been.
Gendo didn’t answer. The rest of the session went as Katsuko had expected it to from the beginning: as poorly as possible. She ended it five minutes early when she realized that she wasn’t going to get anything new out of the boy. The only additional information she had was that he didn’t panic. She suspected that whatever was wrong with him caused that.
* * *
Maya stopped in the hallway to her apartment. Captain Soryu stood at her front door, knocking on it. ‘Great.’ Maya stepped forward, waving slightly. “Uh, Captain? I just got here.”
Asuka swung around, smiling. “Oh, hi Maya! I just came to say goodbye, you know… I know we didn’t exactly talk much, but… well, I thought I should.” She shifted awkwardly. "I'm sorry we didn't get to talk more, by the way... I've been kind of busy settling in."
“Oh,” said Maya. “I… I guess you can come in for a few minutes.” She fumbled for her keys and opened the door. The beautiful captain stepped inside, and Maya followed her. “Do you want something to drink?”
“I’m fine,” she said. The captain sat down at the dining table, smiling at Maya. “You know, just the other day I finally found out why we called you in.”
“Huh?” Maya looked at Soryu uncertainly. "What do you mean, 'why'?"
“Well, I mean, you have to admit it’s a little odd grabbing a random fourteen-year old girl from out of the city when we could have gotten someone who lived close by, don’t you think?” Asuka leaned forward conspiratorially. "So clearly, you were picked for a reason, right?"
Maya frowned as she poured herself a glass of water. “I guess so…” She sat down, and tried not to sound too curious. “Why was I picked?”
“Apparently, your mother was a volunteer here about a decade ago. She helped design a lot of Eva-01’s features.”
Maya looked incredulous. “My mother didn't volunteer here!" she protested. "They never mentioned that at all! My grandparents told me she'd won a trip to America and died in a plane crash."
Asuka gulped. “I… I’m not trying to cause trouble. It’s in our records. Ibuki Mari, right?” She continued when Maya nodded. “She did work here. She was hoping that you’d be the pilot, and requested you got the chance to. She died in some sort of accident, so… I think Sh-- the Commander calling you here was his way of honoring her request.”
Maya suddenly understood. “So this is it, huh? I’m free to leave, but I get to go on a dozen guilt trips beforehand? What’s next? Does it turn out that Commander Ikari really is my father too, and that if I leave I’m ruining my one chance to get to know either of my parents?”
“What? No… I just thought you’d want to know,” Soryu said. “I… I came here to offer you her full record.” She took several folded-up papers out of her jacket. “They’re a higher clearance than you’re allowed to have, but I don’t care. It’s… it’s probably got more on there than your grandparents would have told you even if they had been honest, and… and it’s got several pictures.” She held them out to Maya. “I’m sorry you had such a bad time here. I don’t know if I could do any better, so I won’t judge you. I hope that life gets better when you get back home.”
Captain Soryu dropped the papers on the table and left the apartment. Maya stared at them for a long time.
“Stupid mind games,” she muttered. “That’s… that’s cheating. You offer me all I can ever know about my mother and say my grandparents didn’t tell me the truth, Gendo tells me I don’t try hard enough, the doctor picks Ritsuko for my replacement, and the Commander tells me the truth whenever I ask.” She sighed. “That’s. Not. Fair.”
It was not much of a surprise the next day when Maya discovered that Rei had never actually cancelled any of her accounts and hadn't even arranged for her to leave the city. And, Maya decided after the fact, it might have been worth it to see her friends smile in surprise when she walked into the class. Maybe.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Mon May 16, 2011 2:45 pm Post subject:
In which Asuka has dinner, and...
"I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong." - The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket
A couple hours after visiting Maya, Asuka walked into the restaurant, looking around uncertainly. The idea of meeting a superior officer for dinner in such a fancy place had never crossed her mind. And if it had, the idea of it being this superior officer would have been considered briefly, and then laughed at. Still, it was an interesting idea, she’d give it that.
Vice-Commander Nagisa was giving instructions to a waiter when she noticed him, and she quickly walked to the table he’d picked out. This whole place was well beyond her budget, where the hell did he get this kind of money? And why would he waste it for a business meeting?
“Vice-Commander!” she said to announce herself.
“Captain Soryu,” Kaworu responded, smiling brightly as ever.
“Uh, this is…” she looked around again, and couldn’t come up with a word. “Wow.”
“Presentation is everything.”
“To be honest, sir, a couple of meat bowls would be good enough,” Asuka said. She looked around again. The walls were decorated with art from the nineteenth century, mostly Japanese, but there were a few particularly famous pieces from other countries. There wasn’t a live performer, but soothing music was being played, and Asuka was pretty sure it was from the nineteenth century too. It was all very beautiful and elegant, but completely overwhelming to her.
“Yes, well, this won’t be standard procedure,” Kaworu said, a hint of laughter in his voice, “just one bit of extravagance to impress until we get to know each other better and can rely on personalities, not appearances.”
Asuka narrowed her eyes, feeling quite confident that she’d lost the Vice-Commander somewhere. “Uh, okay…” she said at last, trying to sound confident and then changing the subject quickly. “So, uh, about this new Eva armament…”
“Of course,” Kaworu said brightly, reaching down into a bag he had at his feet.
“The designs won’t put the pilots’ wellbeing into any danger, will they?” Asuka asked. Gendo was heavily injured already, and Maya’s replacement would be completely new, and the other one... hadn’t fought Angels yet. She briefly considered mentioning Maya’s quitting to Nagisa, but decided he’d already know, and would probably already know who would replace the girl.
“No more than usual,” Kaworu said. The laughter in his voice was gone. He held up a large white binder, stuffed nearly to the breaking point by pages of various colors. Asuka wondered how anyone could come up with so many design ideas for such a simple robot.
“Oh, sorry, I uh… I tend to jump right into business,” Asuka said, blushing brightly. Thinking about the suffering of children did not whet the appetite.
Kaworu nodded understandingly, and began. “The vast majority of the things you’ll see in there are weapons, but there are a few modular armor models.”
That was a relief. The idea of modular armor had been thrown around a few times at Nerv Germany, but they hadn’t heard back from HQ about the idea before Asuka had left. If they could start working on those immediately, the Evas would be more protected.
“They have armor proposals designated with every letter in the combined English and Cyrillic alphabets,” Kaworu added, sounding a bit disparaging of so many concepts.
Asuka flipped through them quickly, making a few simple opinions on each one but resolving to give all of them a better look as the evening went on. Some of them did seem quite impressive. “I can see R&D has been quite, uh… thorough.”
“Unfortunately,” Kaworu agreed. He leaned in, conspiratorially. “Please, as a favor to me, don’t approve the F-Type armor.”
Asuka flipped back to the beginning of the armor section and flipped through it again. “D… E… F-Type…” She paused, staring at it properly now. “It’s like a giant potato peeler,” she muttered. “Are all these armor blocks even functional?” she asked after a minute of staring.
The F-Type armor’s (drawn around Eva-01 as a sample) crimes began with the coloring. Magenta and orange colored pencils had been used for coloration, and Asuka cringed merely looking at it. Several sections of it, particularly the upper legs and shoulders, seemed to be weighed down unnecessarily by blocky armor, and Asuka could scarcely believe such an outfitted Eva would be able to move. Worst of all, a pylon was raised up in front of the Eva’s face, something that would clearly obscure visibility. Asuka shook her head.
“What’s the impact on the muscle packages from rotation and wear and tear?” Asuka asked. Kaworu didn’t answer, and Asuka realized he had no clue.
“As you can see, not all submitted designs were… sane.”
“I can see that! These numbers are off the chart… The energy we’d have to expend just to make this thing move… Who proposed this? I want him fired!”
Kaworu grinned a little. “Don’t be too hard on him. Watanabe also designed the specifications for B- and D-Type equipment. You’ll find them much more to your liking. Maybe S-Type too, though it’s hard to say.”
Asuka flipped a couple pages back to the D-Type equipment, which was designed to help Evangelion units withstand massive amounts of heat, and the B-Type equipment, for aquatic use. S-Type turned out to be a jetpack. Asuka asked for a pen and crossed that one out (“way too flashy, and the fuel we’d expend…”) and the F-Type equipment, but signed off on B- and D-Type.
The rest turned out to be a mixed bag. Some were definitely good, but a lot of the others looked like they’d need to be examined by the Magi computer system that Nerv used before she could be sure if they’d work or not. “Rei would throw a fit if I approved something that scratched up the Eva’s paint jobs,” she explained jokingly.
“Then maybe we should look at the regular weapons? There’re all kinds of designs. Swords, spears, guns… I don’t even recognize the inspiration for some of those weapons.”
Asuka grinned. “I think we definitely need more melee weapons,” she said. “Something quick to attack, and malle-” She stopped. “Oh, the food’s here!” she said. She wasn’t sure what she felt about Kaworu ordering for her, but she’d give it a chance.
“I hope you’re hungry,” Kaworu said. “This is only the appetizer.”
Asuka looked at the large plate that had been set down between them and the food that was on it. This was an appetizer? But then she noticed the wine bottle, and that was a much happier addition to the table than the food. “I see you use the wine and dine tactic that all superior officers use, Vice-Commander Nagisa,” she muttered.
“If you don’t want it-” Kaworu began.
She took the bottle and began pouring. “For future reference, a beef bowl and a beer will do just fine.” She winked and took a “sip”.
“I know, but as I said, the first meal in a working relationship should be the fanciest.”
Asuka stopped smiling as she thought back. “Yeah… First impressions are always the most important ones.”
“It’s sad, isn’t it? A first impression might go hideously badly, but it's the one that sticks. The incompleteness of the information we obtain about someone the first time we meet them taints the relationship forever... sometimes for good, sometimes...”
Asuka kept remembering. “You’re right. I remember the first time I set foot here, when I was little. I was a ‘haffu’, half-white, half-Japanese. It wasn’t pretty. People would make fun of my hair, or eyes, or weight. They thought I’d be loud, overbearing, and constantly eating Big Macs or something. I know I was a bit loud as a child, but…” She sighed, and lifted her wine glass ironically. “To first impressions?”
“To first impressions!” Their wine glasses met and clinked, and both drank.
“You know, you’re different from what I’d imagine a Committee member to be like…”
“I really only represent the Committee,” Kaworu explained. “I’m not a high-ranked member.”
“Oh. Sorry, it’s just, the Commander…”
“He doesn’t like me.”
“Shin-- Commander Ikari tends to be like that with people he doesn’t know,” she explained. “Uh, where did you live before this?”
“I was at the Committee Headquarters, in Germany, working on budgetary issues. When the position was created to monitor Ikari’s spending habits, I was a shoe-in.”
Asuka smiled. “Ich liebte Deutschland. Es war weit weg von Japan.”
“Warum bist du gegangen?” Kaworu asked.
Asuka had already finished a few glasses. “It had a lot of bad memories. Sometimes you need to reinvent yourself.”
“What could have been so bad?”
“Fear, for one thing. Someone else, too. I dated someone here. It didn’t work out.”
Kaworu understood right away. “The Commander,” he said.
“H-how? Did he…?”
“No. I just figured it was probably someone here, and no one else seemed your type. Well, he doesn’t either, but… he looks like he could have been once. Time changes people, though. We all can drift apart.”
“Does anyone else know?” Asuka asked nervously.
“Not that I’m aware of,” Kaworu reassured her.
“Keep a secret? Of course. But… some part of me thinks you two could be together again.” Kaworu smiled even more broadly than usual. “Though of course, I am a hopeless romantic.”
“I know he’s not the man I used to love, and I’m not…” She gulped. “I
never actually knew what I was to him.”
“I suspect, Captain, that you were the only person who could understand him.” The unspoken words were there, if anyone would know, it would be him. The only survivors.
“I thought so as well,” Asuka said. “That’s why I ran away, I think.”
“You shouldn’t run away,” Kaworu said. “If you understand and care about him, then you should pursue him. He will destroy himself with guilt otherwise.”
“Without me he’d already be dead,” Asuka said, chuckling. “I… I think we’re alike, y’know? Alike, but too different.” She frowned suddenly. “I think I’m drunk.”
“Perhaps. A shame, because we never really covered all the designs.”
“Huh? Oh!” She flushed with embarrassment again. “What should I sign?”
Kaworu held out several dozen pieces of paper and had her place her signature upon them. Asuka didn’t look at any of them. “Would you like help getting home?”
“Yeah… I… Ani- A friend says I’m a walking traffic violation when I’m sober. If I drive drunk I might start Third Impact or something.”
They left, Kaworu paying the bill quickly, and were soon at Asuka’s unremarkable apartment. They paused by the front door.
“Thanks for being a gentleman,” Asuka said, leaning in and kissing him on the cheek. Kaworu blushed. And then she opened the front door, smiling.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Last edited by Legendary on Tue May 17, 2011 6:30 pm; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 28 Jun 2007
|Posted: Tue May 17, 2011 1:17 pm Post subject:
You don't use the "Chapter the XX" heading any longer?
Back in action for now.
WAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!(-link to lunacy)...Taste me, if you can bear it. (Warning: Language NSFW)
The main point of idiocy is for the smart to have their lulz. Without human idiocy, trolling would not exist, and that's uncool, since a large part of my entertainment consists of mocking the absurdity and dumbassery of the world, especially the Internet.-MaggotMaster
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Tue May 17, 2011 7:06 pm Post subject:
In which "nihilism" is the word of the day
"There's no future for you." - God Save the Queen, by the Sex Pistols
Agano Kaede looked over at the new girl and her friends and smirked.
Ooi Satsuki followed her gaze. “Ugh, you’re staring at them again?” She brushed some of her hair back, looking at it critically. Like several other girls lately, she’d taken to dying her hair (in her case, a particularly light brown). It was a lot cheaper than other ways of looking different. Clothing had become so expensive.
“Yeah, well, it’s just funny.”
Aoi Mogami pushed up her glasses. “You’ve been saying that for awhile now, Kae-chan. What’s so funny about them?”
“Oh! I guess you don’t really know." Kaede gestured for both girls to lean in and began explaining. "You both know Aoba's older sister, Miki, right?"
The other two girls nodded, not quite sure where this was going to go, and not entirely sure that they cared. Kaede brought up all sorts of stupid things. This would probably be one of those, and they'd have to laugh before she would finally drop it and let them talk about something interesting.
"She hangs out with my older sister, you know."
Satsuki and Aoi nodded again, hoping Kaede would get to the point so they could get back to their lunches.
“One date I got to see the Aoba apartment, and this is what makes it funny. Turns out Aoba has a little brother too. The kid was hospitalized after that first Angel attacked; injured in the battle or something. And now Shigeru-san is hanging out with the girl who didn’t kill the Angel fast enough to save his little brother.” She giggled a little. Neither of the other girls laughed. “Well? Isn’t that funny?”
“That’s really kind of sad, Kae-chan,” Mogami said. Kaede wasn't really surprised. The girl found everything depressing. She too had dyed her hair (a blue-black) because she said it fit the way she felt better. Satsuki had quipped that Aoi had looked pathetic beforehand and that the dye hadn't changed much.
Ooi shrugged. “I’m sure the kid’ll recover. I saw the Angel’s body when my dad drove us home. If that thing didn’t kill him right away, it doesn’t look like it could have done anything major.”
“Yeah, but I still feel bad for him.” Mogami looked down at her lunch of stupid ramen noodles. Again. “Ugh, does anyone want to trade?”
“I still have my egg left,” Kaede volunteered. “What flavor ramen?”
“Okay.” The two girls exchanged lunches quietly. Satsuki shook her head. They did this every other day, always bringing the same lunches because their families couldn’t afford anything else. Most people couldn’t. The world’s food supplies were entering their yearly recession again. At least in a couple of months the Siberians would have quite a large crop grown.
Kaede was still staring at the group around Maya. “I thought she was leaving,” she muttered. “I guess she just said she was for the attention.”
“Kae-chan, leave off,” Satsuki said. “She is the Commander’s daughter, after all.”
It was Kaede’s turn to exchange glances with Mogami. They’d both (well, okay, just Mogami) explained that Maya could only be the Commander’s daughter if she’d been kidnapped after Second Impact, which was much more unlikely, but she’d refused to listen, convinced that there was no reason that Maya’d be a pilot otherwise.
“If you have to be the Commander’s kid to pilot,” Mogami whispered, “then explain Rokubungi.”
“Maya’s fraternal twin,” Satsuki replied. "He looks even more like the Commander than she does, after all. It only makes sense."
“You’re worse than that Kaji kid. At least he doesn’t take it seriously…” Kaede dug into the egg, relishing every bite. "At least, I think he's joking." She giggled a bit. "I think he's doing it to get Ibuki's attention, don't you think?"
Aoi shrugged and led the conversation in a different direction.
* * *
Yamada Daisuke opened the letter hurriedly. His grandparents had given it to him when he’d gone home for lunch, but he had decided to get to class so he’d have something entertaining to do during the literature section. Since Strasberg-sensei was busy talking about some dumb, happy, kid-friendly book, like all the others they’d read in school, he barely even had to hide it.
My business in Hannover is nearly concluded. I have bought my tickets and will be coming home soon. As you requested, I have obtained several photographs, and as I will be flying home on a different route (to Bucharest, then over the Pole to Tehran, then New Delhi, Changsha, and lastly Saga), I will attempt to get more during my layovers. I am sure you will find them far more beautiful than the photos I took while in Nevada last year.
Europe is very nice this time of year, as the snow has finally melted and the birds are singing again. It’s amazing how quickly they changed their migratory patterns, but even listening I can tell that there used to be many more kinds of calls in the chorus. Thousands of species have died, it seems, but they haven’t even begun accounting for which ones are gone.
Ugh, that turned rather depressing, didn’t it? I’m sorry. My colds always leave me a little down. I hope you’re in good health, though.
I have arranged for a “Captain Soryu” to escort you to my ship when I arrive. Hopefully, if my planes and ship are not delayed, I will be arriving the twenty-sixth of July. I regret that they made school an all-year activity a few years ago, for otherwise we could enjoy your summer vacation.
Your loving uncle,
Daisuke smiled to himself and folded the letter back up again. His uncle, one of Nerv Section 2's most respected workers, would finally be coming home. The coming Sunday was looking to be the best day ever.
* * *
People move slowly, but that’s alright, for the Earth moves slowly too. Most of the time. The advent of Second Impact had, like First Impact before it, heavily affected the rotation, climate, and geography of planet Earth, and few people had moved from their homes, despite all the hardship they faced.
The most affected region was Antarctica itself. Whatever Angelic weapons had touched down there, the effects had been disastrous. The ice cap had been blown away, and the resulting waters had flooded the world. The continent itself had been turned into a strange red liquid that defied normal physics. The only thing that kept the ocean life alive was that it had been diffusing into the seas nearby very slowly.
A year after the explosion, a new ice cap had begun forming to replace the old one, but near French Polynesia. The old North Pole slowly melted into a temperate sea, and a new one began forming over the Arabian Peninsula, nicely ending all Middle Eastern conflict at the cost of creating thousands of refugees. Well, thousands more than expected, anyways. Worse on the polar front, where the Antarctic polar ice cap had contained fourteen million square kilometers of ice, the Arabian polar ice cap wasn’t even two and a half million. The sea levels rose hideously.
Australasia lost all population and most artificial constructions following the attack, but the environment began to recover, and the new weather patterns led to an immense rain forest where the Outback had once lain. People began to move there, to conquer the continent once more, and life actually felt like it could get better.
Most of southern Africa had been destroyed too, but Africa became a continent stretching across an arctic and a temperate zone, and while chaos followed initially, stable nations crawled out of the chaos, and they turned to Europe to find out what happened. Europe, now a true landmass and not a mere peninsula, had suffered immensely in its new domain, but eventually it too recovered, and the nations there had created the Committee and Nerv’s predecessor, Gehirn.
The Americas had moved into the tropics, but the rainforests had been destroyed by Second Impact, and a vast plain incapable of growing anything stretched around the new Amazon Sea. Argentina was the only temperate region, and the only one capable of supporting mankind. People starved. North America fared little better, for while the immediate environmental devastation was limited in comparison, slowly but surely the Great Plains became a dry waste.
Southeast Asia was fine, a little sunken but as much of a jungle as ever. Southeast China sank, and the rest remained desert, stretching all the way into Kazakhstan. The jungles of India became forests. Siberia became farmland. Japan barely changed at all; such a mountainous terrain barely sank whatever the sea level, but now sat in permanent summer.
The world was barely capable of holding the three billon people it had left, and even then there would have to be massive migration. But people don’t move. They find home, and they’ll stay there, come hell or high water. Or, more appropriately, come heaven AND high water.
* * *
Shigeru spread out on Ritsuko’s couch, stretching. “Another day, another afternoon where Maya gets to suffer.”
Ritsuko glared at him. “Don’t put it like that,” she said. “It can’t be that bad for her if she’s staying… can it?” She looked to Kaji and Makoto for support, but they were looking at one of Kaji’s stupid magazines, this one about alien abductees and what probably ended up happening to them.
“How could aliens and humans breed with each other, anyways?” Makoto asked Kaji.
“Probably they just insert alien DNA into some poor woman and then the alien DNA makes a new baby that’s sorta-alien.”
Ritsuko grumbled and turned on the TV. “I think I got a kid who might be interested in joining up with our band, Shigeru. She’s named Zeppelin and she can play all sorts of instruments.”
Shigeru didn’t answer, looking in the general direction of the TV but not really paying attention. “I wonder if the space between Angels will be bigger this time around. Nine days isn’t enough time for training.”
“Can we not talk about it?” Kaji asked. “It’s bad enough living in fear, let’s not make things worse by considering the logistics.” He sighed. “I wish my dad didn’t work at Nerv. We could move out of town and wouldn’t have to worry about it at all.”
“Yeah. You could live in Greenland and farm watermelon and be completely oblivious when the world suddenly ends and everyone dies. Sounds like great fun.”
“What’s wrong with farming watermelons?”
Shigeru glared. “It was just an example. Would carrots be more pathetic for you?”
Kaji shrugged. “I still wouldn’t be thinking about it. Wouldn’t it be worse if an Angel won but it would take five minutes and we’d spend all that time knowing we were going to die? At least being caught unawares wouldn’t be so frightening.”
“I thought we weren’t going to talk about this,” Ritsuko muttered, flipping past a science channel talking about the latest failures in working with purely artificial gametes. “Wanna play a video game or something instead?” She looked at her old Sega Dreamcast, one of the last consoles to enter the market before Second Impact, and thus, one of the last consoles made.
“We’ve played them all. We should save up and buy one of the new ones that came out last year. The Nintendo one looks pretty cool.”
“Cool, but expensive.” Ritsuko sat down. “Ugh…” She flipped to a different news channel.
“Heavy Chemical Industries has recently invited people from several different organizations to their conference for their latest product. Shockingly, the conference will take place close to the ruins of Old Tokyo, and rumors suggest that it will be a giant robot designed to rival the Evangelion. Our attempts to meet with a Nerv spokesman failed, although at least one worker who wishes to remain anonymous stated that Nerv is unconcerned about the rumors.”
The kids exchanged glances, some smiling. If this project succeeded… Maya just might be able to get out of piloting after all.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Last edited by Legendary on Fri May 20, 2011 5:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 1:37 am Post subject:
In which Nerv makes a discovery and a plot
"Some fossils in the ancient Burgess shale are so alien that we can't determine which end of the creature is up, and yet these monsters evolved right here on Earth from the same origins as we did." - Jonas Forsberg
Toji scrolled through the data that had been collected on the past two Angels. Ninety percent of it was complete gibberish. At one point the Magi computer system was completely convinced that the Third Angel had massed over two million times ten to the fiftieth power kilograms. This was only more than a dozen orders of magnitude larger than the sun, which was more reassuring than the weight of the Fourth Angel.
Toji wasn’t a physicist, but a book he’d skimmed through a few years back gave him the impression that something couldn’t be as (relatively) small as the Angel and weigh that much without completely screwing up the planet and probably collapsing into a black hole.
The rest of the data wasn’t much better. Whenever the Magi could agree on a particular interpretation of the data, it was even more impossible than the mass. The best interpretation that Toji could come up with was that the Angel was somehow messing around the Magi sensors, but even that didn’t account for everything.
Hikari walked by, holding a collection of books.
“What are those for?” Toji asked. Some seemed familiar.
“Oh, these are just college books,” Hikari explained. “I never got around to selling them after that last semester.” She looked at one critically. “I hated that required year of science. Biology sucked.”
“Can I borrow that?” Toji asked. “Maybe it’ll help me understand these stupid Angels better.”
“What if they’re war machines?”
"We borrow from nature to build things. Maybe they do too.” Toji flipped through the book. “Boring stuff on evolution, boring stuff on single-celled life, boring stuff on… protists? What the hell is a protist?”
Hikari rolled her eyes. “I don’t think you’ll be getting anything useful out of that book if you barely know biology.”
Toji kept flipping through it. “Huh. You know, the third angel was kind of like a daddy long-legs.” He looked at the page on Arachnea for a little while, before concluding that the Angel had nothing in common with spiders except appearance.
But he kept going past examples on specific creatures, and found himself in the chapter on DNA. It looked stupid but… He looked up at the computer screen. “Four wavelengths; blue with red, green with yellow… Four base pairs; A with T, C with G…” He made a note of it, and then had a random idea.
The Magi had a complete record of the Human Genome Project and were entirely capable of comparing two sets of data. So Toji had them compare the wavelength information with human DNA. Two minutes later, the results came in.
Human DNA and the Angelic wavelengths were ninety-nine-point-nine-seven percent identical. That was only statistically impossible.
* * *
Computers aren’t smart. For the first few decades after being invented, computers thought solely in terms of concrete ones and zeroes. Send an electrical signal, and the computer will detect it and ‘think’, “one”. When it’s looking and it doesn’t get an electrical signal, and it’ll think “zero”.
Run a few hundred thousand little detectors in there, to choose to send electrical signals or not based on what you put in, and suddenly a computer can do math, display colors, or blow up thousands of virtual Nazis. That’s not fast enough, though. The computer can only receive “one”, or “zero”.
What if it needs to do something where it needs to get both signals at once?
Then take a jump into quantum mechanics. At such scales, scales which are barely observable, microscope or not, the world suddenly becomes a very different place. The scales lead to a world where nothing is defined without observation. Now instead of using simple bits of one and zero, use a “qbit”, which is simultaneously one and zero.
Suddenly, calculations become a lot quicker.
The Magi were a trio of quantum computers. This alone would have made them among the best computers in the world; besides Magi computers, there were only twelve quantum computers in the world. Seven of them were used by various governments. The ones remaining were used by high-tech companies.
Nerv, though, had decided to get a leg-up on the competition. Ibuki Mari had created the first true artificial intelligence by borrowing human intellects and predispositions to help the computers. The first simply behaved as she did normally. The second took on most of her scientific qualities. The third, least used of the set, took on her concern for her daughter Maya.
If Maya ever found out, she’d almost certainly burst out laughing. She hadn’t seen her mother since she was three years old. She’d thought her mother had died in a car accident until quite recently, and her memories of Mari suggested that she wasn’t an especially concerned woman.
She was quite wrong about this.
After all, Mari had worked intimately with the Evangelion project until she stopped breathing, and even with her death she still cast an immense shadow over the project.
No one saw fit to tell Maya this. She was mostly in the dark about everything. No one saw reason to change that.
* * *
Asuka handed the papers she’d received from Toji to Rei. “Look at this stuff,” she said. “Can you believe this nonsense? Apparently we’re super-similar to the Angels or something! It’s blowing a coincidence out of proportion!”
Rei glared at Asuka for a little while, upset that she kept barging into the office without a care in the world, but relented and looked at the papers. “You think this is a coincidence? Don’t you even know how many genomes human beings have?”
“Okay, yeah, it’s stupidly impossible for it not to be a coincidence. But what does that even mean?" Asuka crossed her arms and huffed angrily, but softened. "Do you know?”
The doctor considered for a few moments. “The best possibility is that the Angels have genetically engineered their warriors to resemble us as much as possible. Though I can't even begin to imagine why they would bother doing something like that. Unless they needed their biotech to survive on Earth for extended periods.”
“Making them like us is failing miserably,” Asuka muttered. “I’ve seen three of them and only one of them even looked remotely humanoid. What was the second one like?”
“A genetic abomination,” Rei said. “Lots of things… all mashed together. Maybe… like an insect?” She shook her head. "It was even less refined than the ones that came after it. It might have been an earlier model, or a baseline they always construct. Or something."
“Great description. Can I see some pictures?”
Rei shook her head again. “They’re classified. Still, I see your point. If they wanted to resemble us, they could probably do a much better job of it. It doesn't really matter though, does it? We just have to kill them." She started typing at her computer again. "I'm assuming you're going to stay here until I kick you out?"
The captain sat down on the desk. "Or longer!" she replied. "Come on, Rei. We used to be roommates. What's wrong with hanging out every now and again?"
"I'm busy. Get out."
"Uh... Right." Asuka left, sighing.
* * *
“Hey Lieutenant, how are repairs coming along?”
Nakada Michiko and Matsuda Takeru looked up from a computer console on the bridge. Kensuke still couldn’t believe Shinji had chosen to hire them (or, really, Toji). These two hadn’t even been top of the class, they’d just been there. There’d been, what, eighty-six other people Shinji could have hired from that class? Or hell, anyone else in the world. Why those two, or anyone from one particular university study? Kensuke still thought it made no sense.
“Uh… “ Michiko looked at the console again quickly, “They’ve fixed most of the torn ligaments in Eva-00 and have fully repaired Eva-01. We’ll have everything fixed up in a couple more days, and we’re all pretty sure that there’s not going to be another Angel attack in that time period, so we should be good.”
“We can’t be certain though. An Angel could attack right now,” Kensuke pointed out.
“Yes,” Takeru agreed, “but at this point the pilot would feel like they slept on their neck funny, not like they had whiplash or something worse.”
“So that’s good enough?” Kensuke snapped. That was maybe unfair, but he didn't care. The repairs were taking way too long, in his opinion. It had been three days. There shouldn't be any major problems.
“Uh… it’s the best we can do. We’ve had two repair teams around the clock, but it’s not like replacing a tire. You should know that.” Michiko rolled her eyes at Kensuke. Secretly he thought that that was all she was good at.
“We could… increase the repair teams, if you like,” Takeru suggested. “Won’t speed things up much, but…”
“Never mind,” Kensuke said. He knew that Takeru was just trying to offer a suggestion that would make him go away. There really wasn’t anything to speed stuff up, but he couldn’t admit he’d started chewing them out for something they couldn’t control. It was probably their fault for being incompetent, but... The point was, he’d lose respect, and they wouldn’t listen even when they had done something wrong. He left.
Takeru and Michiko exchanged glances once he was gone.
“Some people don’t handle power very well,” said Michiko, conveniently ignoring her many years of being the most popular (and bitchiest) girl in school.
Kensuke, meanwhile, was muttering to himself. “It’s not my fault Ayanami wants this all done in two days.”
* * *
Raidon Watanabe wasn't a former student of Shinji Ikari. He was just another Japanese citizen, one who had signed up to join Nerv and was reasonably happy doing so. Not everyone had to have a tragic backstory, a dark secret, or a burning desire. Sometimes, people were people. And he was a person who worked for the research and development department of Nerv.
He pulled up the computer models of the many proposals for future Evangelion models. While several of the models had not been accepted (only fifty percent of his had been, which was discouraging), many had been. Vice-Commander Nagisa had dropped the paperwork off with him, and then Doctor Ayanami had come by.
“What kind of armor do you have that can resist radiation?” she’d asked.
“Oh, that’s A-Type armor. Inoue designed that… It didn’t get app-”
“Do you have the paper for it? And a pen?”
Raidon nodded and handed her the sheet of paper. Rei took it quickly and signed the paper. “There,” she said. “I want it built in three days.”
Raidon had grinned at that request. “It can be done.” He hadn't even noticed that Rei had signed it with Asuka’s name.
Now, he was simply sending a memo over to the construction crew. He wasn't entirely sure how such a project would be able to be finished on such short notice, but that wasn't his problem. It did surprise him, though. Of all the threats Evangelions would be facing, radioactivity shouldn't have been one of them. What could Nerv be fighting that had radioactivity?
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 8:59 pm Post subject:
In which the phrase "bridge bunny" is almost used
"You had to live... in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized." - 1984, by George Orwell
Shinji looked dispairingly at the papers strewn across his desk. For every one that he filled out correctly, three more were dumped onto the desk. The UN Committee saw no reason to give him any free time, and kept him “loyal” by keeping him too busy to do anything that they felt was wrong, or criminal.
For the most part, Shinji was all right with that arrangement, but lately it had begun to grate. He’d almost cleared his desk off the previous day when Kaworu arrived at around dinnertime with an entire stack of papers, apologizing and explaining that the Committee had only just forwarded them over to him and that Shinji didn’t need to feel rushed or anything, he just felt that they should all be moved now before someone lost track of something.
Shinji hated Kaworu when he did stuff like that.
As he finished filling out another paper, someone knocked on the door.
“Come in!” Shinji called. The door was so far away that it was a miracle he could hear the knocking.
A lieutenant came in. The distinguishing color of the pips by her collar weren’t visible yet, so Shinji had no idea what section she was in. He did recognize her, however. Idane Kimie. During the past two Angel attacks, she’d left her regular post and gone to Command to help some of the other workers accelerate any maintenance being done to the Magi.
The pips under her color were green. She was part of Section 2, then.
“Commander!” Kimie said brightly, saluting. “I came with some reports!”
“Oh, you don’t have to sign them or anything,” Kimie explained. “It’s just a bit of information about the pilots’ latest activities.”
“We collect that?”
“Doctor Ayanami thinks it’s absolutely essential. Anyways, our reports suggest that Gendo has been spending as much time underground as possible, only coming out of the Geofront for the schoolwork that Doctor Ayanami and yourself ordered. He even refused his apartment and just uses the barracks.”
Shinji nodded slightly. Kimie noticed he looked a bit concerned but said nothing. It wasn’t any of her business. Though, the last time she’d given him a report and he’d looked concerned, he’d been her teacher and she’d messed up horribly. This time, though, she couldn’t have messed up.
“Maya is actually the opposite. She spends as much time as she can above ground. Today, for example, she finally got a day off and she hasn’t come within several meters of an entrance to the Underground. We think she’s not a big fan of being down here, but… I guess that was kind of obvious since she quit that one time.”
Shinji still said nothing.
“Well,” Kimie muttered. “That’s pretty much it. Thanks for your time, Commander.” She turned.
“Lieutenant, wait.” Kimie paused, anticipating an order from the commander, not a question. “Uh… do you talk to Asuka much nowadays?”
Kimie sighed. “To be honest, no. We work in completely different departments, you know, and she’s pretty busy with the bridge bu-workers.”
‘Dammit, Kimie, you can’t use derogative slang for your coworkers in front of your mutual boss!’ she thought to herself. ‘Okay, it’s not derogative, but…’
She realized Shinji had been talking.
“…with her more often.”
Kimie guessed what the beginning of that sentence was and nodded. “Right,” she said. “Is that all, sir?”
Shinji nodded. "You're dismissed," he said, smiling.
She left, wondering why he thought it so important that she rekindle a friendship with an old classmate.
* * *
The bell rang. For the first time in a week and a half, Maya was actually happy when it did. She gathered up the books she’d need that night and stuffed them into her bag, remembering briefly Rei’s statement that schoolwork didn’t matter. She almost decided to blow off homework, but… Ritsuko was class rep. She couldn’t be friends with her if she didn’t do the work.
“You ready then?” Ritsuko asked. “We’re heading to the mall.”
“Eh…” Ritsuko didn’t look too enthused. “Oh, I didn’t mention, but that one girl who wants to join the band- Zeppelin something- she's coming along too."
“Kyoko,” a blond-haired girl said, walking up to both of them. Maya couldn't believe how many people in this class dyed their hair, but said nothing. “It’s very nice to meet you, Ibuki-san."
“Hi,” Maya said. “Nice to meet you too. What instrument do you play?”
“All sorts, but they want me for bass because they want you for drums.” Kyoko grinned. “This will be so much fun!”
Maya turned to Ritsuko in shock. She'd never heard of that particular part of the plan for the band before. “I can’t really play…” she protested.
“I’m sure it can’t be that hard to learn,” Ritsuko said. “Come on!”
The three joined the boys and set off to the mall. It was immense; the building alone looked like it could rival the Geofront pyramid in size. Maps were posted regularly, and even with them Maya felt lost. For most of the time, they just walked around, looking through the windows into the stores. Clothing, electronics, books... Every kind of store surrounded them, spread randomly through the mall.
Kaji, of course, had to go to a store that specialized in the paranormal, so they all dropped by a store with that particular theme to look around. Maya tried very hard not to giggle, and she could tell Kyoko was in the same situation, but before she could make an aside comment to her, Shigeru led her over to some sort of magnet thing. She watched briefly as he showed her how it “made” him stronger.
Then she went over to the magazines that Ritsuko and Makoto were looking at. “Aliens again,” Ritsuko muttered. “I wouldn’t mind Kaji’s liking this so much if there was some new material.”
Makoto looked over at her. “What would you expect then? Shinto spirits saving and-slash-or killing people?”
“Nah, I saw that a couple days ago.”
“This place is bizarre,” Maya said to both of them. “I can’t believe people would take half of this stuff seriously.” She looked critically at a bunch of model UFOs. To nobody’s surprise, they were all completely different from one another and it was hard to believe that one species could have built two of them to use in comfort, let alone all of them.
Again though, she didn’t feel quite right in the conversation, so she joined Kaji at the front desk.
“Whaddya mean you won’t let me have a tab?! I’ve been coming here for years!”
Then again, maybe not.
She dinked around a little by the healing crystals. A scab on her elbow looked a bit better afterwards, but Maya knew it had probably just healed a little naturally. They finally left that stupid store, but none of the rest were especially interesting, and conversation was always a little awkward.
Eventually, they left the store, but then they bumped into a different group of schoolkids.
“Oh, joy,” Ritsuko muttered.
Maya looked at them. Three of them, the girls, were 2-A students. She didn't know them, but obviously they (Satsuki Ooi, Kaede Agano, and Aoi Mogami) all knew who she was. The fourth was older, someone she didn’t know.
“Well, it’s my little sister!” the boy exclaimed, ruffling Ritsuko’s hair.
“Please don’t touch me.”
“And it's her boyfriend!” Satsuki Ooi added brightly.
“We haven’t gone out in over a year,” Ritsuko muttered. Kaji blushed a little. Maya looked at both of them in shock. She couldn't believe that those two had ever liked each other in that fashion. It just didn't seem like either of them. Of course, that was probably why they'd broken up.
“Who’s this?” Kyoko asked Maya. Maya shook her head in confusion.
“Akagi Shiro. He’s an upperclassman,” Shigeru whispered.
“Let’s run for it,” Kaji whispered.
Everyone dispersed except Ritsuko and Maya, who felt abandoning Ritsuko was cruel. Considering all the stuff she had to hear for the next hour as Ritsuko’s older brother and his three hanger-on’s joked “with” her, she realized it might not have been the best idea.
* * *
Rei dug through the boxes she hadn’t unpacked. This unused corner of her apartment was a mess, but she didn’t really have a place to put things, generally. Today though, she was looking to see if a favorite dress of hers had survived the move. She wanted something good to wear in a couple days when Jet Alone was released.
She didn’t find it, but she did find an old notebook. She flipped it open, wondering why she'd kept anything like this. It wasn't labeled in a way to suggest it had anything to do with her Nerv job, so it had to be related to something else.
The violent sketches that stared back at her surprised her a little. She’d forgotten she’d ever drawn stuff like this.
She’d also forgotten that she’d color the victim's hair red.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Fri May 20, 2011 6:05 pm Post subject:
In which corporate terrorism is performed
"The discovery of nuclear chain reactions need not bring about the destruction of mankind any more than did the discovery of matches." - Albert Einstein
A helicopter flew over the bright blue sea. Maya sat uncomfortably in the chair next to another one of her classmates Yamada Daisuke. Maya wasn't quite sure why he was there. Captain Soryu was in the front seat, next to the pilot, which was somewhat comforting. Maya had never been so far away from land before.
Daisuke smiled at her. “This is kind of fun, isn’t it?” he asked. Those were probably the first words he'd ever said to her the whole time she'd been in Tokyo-3. She only knew his name from Asuka, who had introduced the two of them before they'd boarded the helicopter.
Maya sighed and looked out the window. There was a boat visible in the distance, presumably the one that the Nerv employee the Captain had mentioned was riding in on. She remembered the conversation.
“How would you like to go on a small day trip?” The captain had asked. “You’ll have a great time with me.”
Maya had smiled, of course, because she and Soryu barely spoke at all. “That sounds great,” she’d replied. “Where are we going to go?”
“On a helicopter ride. Just a nice sight-seeing thing. Oh, and we’ll stop off on a boat before we turn around. You’ll have a great time.”
“Is anyone coming with us?” Maya had asked, hesitating at the prospect of having to put up with Gendo more than she had to. The boy was quiet and generally irritable, and not someone whose company she enjoyed in the least. And whenever they trained together, he did his absolute best to ignore her.
He was an infuriating jerk.
“Maya-san?” Daisuke asked again, concerned by her silence.
She swung back around. “Uh, yeah, I guess this is fun,” she said. ‘If listening to the helicopter blades rotate above us perpetually counts as fun.’
Slowly the helicopter lowered itself onto the deck of the boat. The captain turned around to the kids and smiled. “This is going to be such fun. Maya, you’re going to be meeting one of my old college friends, Yamada Kaito. You’ll like him a lot. I mean, I do. I skipped that stupid Heavy Chemical Industries press conference or whatever it was just to come see him.”
‘THAT’S why Daisuke is here!’ Maya realized. “Oh! Is he your father?”
Daisuke looked down. “No,” he said. “He’s my uncle.”
“Oh,” Maya said. “Sorry.”
Things were awkward for awhile after that. Maya knew from experience that a kid who reacted like Daisuke did had lost his parents. She had too, of course. Her mother, at least. So she let him sit by himself instead of forcing the conversation. 'It probably happened to him a lot more recently than I lost my parents,' she thought. 'I'd be sad still too, if I'd known my parents as well as he probably did.'
Shortly, though, the helicopter landed and all three of them got out. Maya couldn’t help but be amazed by the boat. She’d never seen the military boats, and on the whole it was quite impressive. The deck itself was massive, and she was only seeing one half of it. The other was obscured by a large tower of smaller decks rising out of the boat; most of them were decked in radio equipment.
“It’s new,” Captain Soryu said, noticing Maya’s look. “It can go from Australia to the Red Sea in…” She frowned. “I don’t remember,” she admitted. “It’s fast though, trust me.”
They kept walking until the captain started waving. “Kaito!” she shouted.
A man with light brown hair in a simple suit turned to the group. His eyes lit up right away, and he ran forward. He and Soryu shared a hug, which shocked both Maya and Daisuke. It was brief though, and they quickly pulled away from each other.
“It’s been a long time,” Kaito commented.
Asuka nodded. “Apparently we crossed in the air. I was coming here, you were going to Germany.” She laughed a bit.
“We wouldn’t have run into each other anyways,” Kaito said, laughing too. “I was sent to the Committee headquarters. Hannover, not Hamburg. I met a potential pilot there,” he added. “She’s a nice kid, I guess.”
“Wow...” Asuka said. Maya could tell right away that business wasn’t exactly what Asuka wanted to hear, but she also felt that Kaito was probably being restrained for his own reasons. Perhaps because he was in front of his nephew.
Daisuke looked like he had a pretty good idea of the obvious attraction Kaito had for Asuka, though. He winked at Maya. She laughed a little. This made Kaito step back a bit.
Asuka turned to Maya. “This is Kaito Yamada. He’s one of the chief workers for Section 2.”
“I was Germany for awhile on business,” he explained. “The Commander needed me to pick up a package or two for him.”
“Couldn’t they have just mailed them?” Maya asked, rightly but unfoundedly suspicious.
“You can’t mail packages these delicate,” Kaito said. “The Iranians are causing trouble again. We can’t trust out packages to get through the mail unharassed.”
“Oh,” Daisuke and Maya said in unison. At least Maya knew someone else had been wondering what she’d asked.
Maya then noticed the large package that was by Kaito’s feet. For a few seconds, she wondered what was in it, but didn’t have the nerve to ask.
Asuka and Kaito made small talk for awhile, but Maya and Daisuke weren’t interested. They looked over the rails at the deep blue sea, easily losing themselves in the waves that lapped against the side of the ship. Maya wished that the water was more opaque; it would have been nice to see the fish in the water.
Daisuke spoke first. “So… what’s it like piloting?”
“You wouldn’t like it,” Maya said. “It’s a lot of hard work for no reward.”
“I dunno. We’re alive, after all.”
“That’s really not enough,” Maya muttered.
Daisuke shrugged. “If you say so. I bet being behind the controls would be a blast.”
Maya shook her head and said nothing in response. Why didn't anyone believe her when she said that piloting wasn't worth it? What would it take?
* * *
Gendo was sitting alone in one Nerv's many hallways. They didn't need him to synch, but he didn't want to go back to his apartment. He hated it there. The deeper into Nerv he was, the happier and more at home he felt. Once he'd even tried to get permission to go to the lowest level, but it had of course been refused. Gendo didn't blame Shinji for saying no, because he never blamed Shinji or Rei for anything. He just didn't know why they'd said no.
And now Rei was approaching him, her face betraying almost no emotion. There was but one flaw in her defenses; something in her eyes. Gendo thought she looked nervous. He looked up at her, as close to happy as he ever was. “Yes, ma’am?”
“The A-Type armor has been completed,” she announced. “However, we are not entirely sure how successful it will be. Therefore, you will suit up in Eva-00, go to the surface, and power down until you receive further instructions.”
The boy nodded. “Of course.”
Rei sighed. “Also, you must be sure not to mention this training exercise to anyone else.”
“Of course. I’ll never speak of it again.” This was an unusual command to be receiving, but it was not unprecedented and Gendo was sure that whatever reasons anyone would want Nerv's activities kept secret were good ones. After all, there were several secrets that still needed to be kept, or the public would panic. And as far as Gendo understood, Shinji's greatest concern was keeping the public calm in the face of utmost danger.
The doctor wasn't satisfied. “Not even to me or the Commander?”
The boy nodded, a bit surprised, though he didn’t show it. It was unheard of to be instructed not to mention something to the Commander if he wasn't the one giving that order. This must be the most important mission Doctor Ayanami could think of. Gendo was so proud to be a part of it.
He barely even realized that the Doctor was already walking away, now completely satisfied with him and contented to ignore Gendo until he was actively needed again.
* * *
“Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest product of our generation is about to be unveiled!”
There was applause, of course. Tokita Nozomi knew how to draw in a crowd, that was for certain. She had a very pretty smile too. That always helped get a man's attention. She’d spent all of her teenage years getting that smile right. And now here she was, the spokeswoman for Heavy Chemical Industries.
“Now, you have all heard the rumors of HCI’s ‘Eva-killer’, and I’m pleased to announce that every one of those rumors is true.”
One of the walls of the conference room lowered. A giant robot stood on the other side, clearly powered down. Its main color was red, except for two gray eyes and some decals, which produced an unnerving effect. Everyone applauded anyway, though.
“This is Jet Alone! It is superior to the Evangelion models in dozens of ways!” Nozomi continued. “It will be the invincible model!”
A hand rose immediately. “In what ways?” a person asked calmly.
“Firstly, it does not depend on teenagers to work. Considering the instability of the pubescent, this alone is an immense improvement. In fact, it does not require a human pilot to reside in it at all. Instead, it operates purely by remote control, allowing a team of qualified specialists to make decisions divorced from immediate danger!”
The person sitting at the table didn’t seem impressed at all. “That’s it?” he asked.
“No, of course not! Whereas the Evangelion requires constant connection via wire, or it dies after a five minute battery life, the Jet Alone models have no such limitation! Each of them will have a fully functioning nuclear reactor with enough fuel to continue to operate for months!”
Another person raised her hand. “But I heard that the Evangelion have a special technology that is required to penetrate the Angel's shields. Do you have a similar plan?”
Nozomi didn’t stop smiling for a moment. “I can assure you,” she said calmly, “we will crack that last secret of Nerv before the month is out, at which point we will be quite capable of handling the rest of what the Angels throw at us.
“Besides, while Nerv might have those benefits right now, we all know that they’re lacking in other respects.” She held up a folder. “This documents Eva-01 going berserk against the Second Angel. How can we expect Nerv to defeat us when they can’t control their own machines?”
Someone shouted, “Down with Nerv!” and it became a chant.
Nozomi smirked to herself. Inviting the people who had no reason to be fond of Nerv had been a good idea. She turned to the complimentary table that had been given them, but saw to her disappointment that no one was there. They must be cowards, afraid to show up and face their just desserts after all these years of hogging resources and endangering minors.
Among more serious charges.
She cleared her throat a few times, and held up her hand. “Ladies and gentlemen… Ladies and gentlemen! Please, calm yourselves! We haven’t even given you the first demonstration of Jet Alone’s capabilities!”
Slowly, the chanting stopped, and everyone turned their attention to the giant robot. Nozomi whispered into her microphone. “Activate the project.”
Jet Alone turned on, slowly, but it turned around quite quickly, and began to walk away.
The last thing any of them saw was a rocket of some sort suddenly colliding with it, and the explosion of the nuclear reactor it housed within its torso.
* * *
It was the first thing that Asuka saw when she got to her apartment and turned on the TV.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Mon May 23, 2011 8:57 pm Post subject:
In which the explosion looms over all
"Now the first time you kill somebody, that's the hardest." - Virgil, True Romance, by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery
Gendo kneeled over the toilet, vomiting.
Rei watched him, unconcerned either about his condition or the fact that she was in a male restroom. She was slightly concerned about the filth in the room, and made a note to fire the janitors in charge of the area. But there were more important things at the moment. She turned to Raidon, who stood next to her, looking uncomfortable.
“As you can see,” she said coldly, “the A-Type armor is flawed. Gendo wasn’t ill until he went on the field mission.”
Raidon glared. “A-Type armor protects the Evangelion unit from radiation, not the pilot. The Entry Plug is completely sealed to begin with. You couldn’t irradiate it. Not here on planet Earth, anyways.”
“There’s no other reason for him to be ill," the doctor responded.
Raidon shrugged. “Maybe he ate something that disagreed with him. Maybe it’s just a bit of motion sickness. Don’t blame me. Not unless the A-Type failed the Evangelion unit. That’s what it’s designed to protect.” He turned and began to walk away.
“I didn’t say you were dismissed,” Rei said coldly.
Raidon stopped and took a deep breath.
“Dismissed,” Rei said after a minute of making him stand there. He walked away in angrily. She glared at Gendo. “What’s wrong with you then? I was afraid you were contaminated. If it’s not that, then what?”
Gendo vomited some more.
Rei swore under her breath and walked away. “When you empty your stomach, report to my office and I’ll give you some medicine, then.”
Gendo nodded a little, but stopped quickly. What could have affected him so badly? He couldn’t think what it coul-
No, he could. He knew exactly what it was. As soon as he’d pulled the trigger on the prototype missile launcher that Captain Soryu had approved, and watched the explosion, he’d felt... sick. So many people, dead.
It was as if he’d been connected to each and every one of them, and then all of them were suddenly, irrevocably gone, because he'd cut the connections.
Now it was midnight. He’d eaten dinner at eleven o'clock, which was ridiculously late, because that was how it always was. But today even the plants felt like beings of respect, and as he bit into them he felt sick. Then he’d run here and had been vomiting up lunch and dinner. A disgusting state of affairs. Hopefully it would end soon.
When it did, he took a minute to wonder if Lieutenant Watanabe Raidon had actually been at Nerv, or if the Doctor had woke him up. He didn’t care either way, it was just curiosity. Doctor Ayanami had a way of being cold to the people around her. He emulated that as best as he could, to make her proud.
Thus far, it hadn’t been working.
* * *
Horaki Kodama walked into Shinji’s office wearing black. He wasn't surprised to see the Horaki sister in mourning, but he was surprised to see her the very day after her sister's death.
Shinji almost smiled at her, but checked himself. That didn’t feel right, all things considered. “I… I’m glad to be able to meet you.”
Kodama nodded, sitting down in the chair across Shinji’s desk, rubbing at her eyes. “It’s… I really wish we weren’t meeting like this.” She seemed close to tears. “Poor Nozomi…” she muttered.
“Yes. I have already sent Yamada and Asari to location. They’re going to conduct as full of an investigation as possible, to determine exactly what happened.”
“I’m sure it was the JSSDF,” Kodama said coldly. “I know HCI and Nerv have always been rivals, but you are just a UN organization. Odds were our success would just mean our robots would replace Nerv-created ones, but Nerv itself wouldn’t be threatened… The JSSDF though…” she trailed off.
“Yes,” Shinji agreed. For years they’d been developing, wanting to kick the UN off of their islands and defend themselves solo. A robot force under their control would be enough to not only accomplish that, but to establish Japan as a world, or at least Pacific, power.
And, of course, Shinji genuinely believed that Nerv had nothing to do with anything.
“Uh… why did your employers call this meeting?” he asked after a moment.
“Former employers,” Kodama corrected. "I'm leaving the company to focus on other matters..." Then she smiled a little, a fake smile, but a smile all the same. “But, there was a reason. You see, Jet Alone was a prototype, but it wasn’t the only one we had. There’s another model we still have. It works.”
Shinji nodded a little. “I assume this means you’re offering it to us?”
“Yes,” Kodama said. “We’re making a couple of adjustments so it can run off of the power supply if you’d like to leave the reactor off.”
“The price?” Shinji asked, worried.
“It’ll be high. Another reason they’re my former employers is because HCI is about to collapse. Everyone’s sold stock, no one’s buying. We’re barely worth pennies now, and at least three groups have begun to boycott everything we’ve made. HCI is dead.”
The commander shifted uncomfortably. “I’ll have to talk to the UN if we’re talking about billions of yen.”
“I’m afraid they are.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Shinji said. “How can I get back to you on this?” He reached into his desk and pulled out a notebook and pen.
Kodama handed Shinji a card. “Do hurry, Commander. If you take too long, there won’t be an HCI left.” She rose and left his office without waiting to see if he had anything else to say.
Shinji leaned back in his chair, and sighed. Then he took out his laptop, printed something out, and signed it.
TEMPORARY LEAVE OF ABSENCE FORM
Employee: Horaki Hikari
Duration: To the discretion of the employee
Reason: Death in the family
Signature: Ikari Shinji
* * *
Keita took off his glasses as they flew overhead, looking down on the world below them. The Nerv helicopter was comfortable but not made out of iron, so the pilot was holding them as high above the terrain as possible. It wasn't like Old Tokyo hadn't been irradiated dozens of times.
Kaito almost yawned, but managed to hold it in. “See anything of interest?”
“Meh. There’s not much to see now. All the emissions are over with.”
Kaito frowned. Asari hadn’t packed anything when the two of them had set off on this mission, and he didn’t see him using any instruments. To be doing any kind of proper scanning, they’d need something. Human beings weren’t exactly designed to see into the radio part of the spectrum.
“Anyways, there’s a lot of metal around still, but it’s all too damaged. You’d need a lab to make heads or tails of it, and even then it would have to be with HCI’s help so we’d know what was what.”
“So what are you saying then?” Kaito asked. He tried staring down, but couldn't see anything that particularly stood out. The wreckage of Jet Alone blended in perfectly with the city as far as he could see. He wondered briefly if this was going to be a regular assignment. He hoped not.
“I’m saying that the way things are right now, it could have been anything. Maybe Jet Alone was just unstable and it blew up on its own. Maybe someone sabotaged it.”
“Dammit,” Kaito whispered. “We can’t have this going on now. If someone is sabotaging robots, they'll be going after us sooner or later."
"So what's Nerv going to do, you think?" Keita asked.
Kaito considered for a few moments. "I dunno," he said. "I guess it depends on how much danger the Commander thinks there is."
* * *
“What are we going to do then?” Toji asked at the inevitable Nerv meeting, held on the upper levels of their command center. Six of the seven most important members of Nerv were gathered; himself, Asuka, Rei, Kensuke, Kaworu, and Shinji. Hikari had of course not even arrived that day. She wouldn't be needed, not right now.
“If it was a terrorist action,” Asuka said, “the obvious course of action is to pull the kids out of school and keep them down here twenty-four seven.”
“Not an option,” Rei said. “Maya’s synch ratio has been increasing more now that she interacts with her classmates on a proper level. Removing her would devastate her and possibly crash her ability to pilot. We can’t possibly risk something like that.”
“Sniper teams then?” Kensuke suggested. “To watch them at all times and keep them safe from suspicious individuals. One team per pilot… Hell, the team that watches Gendo won’t have a whole lot to worry about.”
“I’ll approve it immediately,” Kaworu said. “Right now at least the two are synching, right? They’re in no real danger in an Evangelion unit.” He turned to Shinji. “Is there anything else we need to worry about, sir?”
“We should increase security if possible,” Shinji said. “The JSSDF are almost certainly behind this action, and I don’t want to have them trying anything on us. We have to keep protecting mankind, and if they’re this fanatical, I suspect they’re not interested. Or, more worryingly, their project might be near completion.”
“Worringly?” Asuka asked. “Surely they wouldn’t be able to kick us out…”
“You’d be amazed,” Rei said. “Worse, there are allegations that they kidnapped children during the aftermath of Second Impact.”
Toji sighed. “I’m glad our company doesn’t sink to those sorts of lows.”
Shinji nodded. “Of course not. This is about humanity. Unless there’s anything else we need to do, this meeting is adjourned.”
Everyone stood up and left, except Asuka, who stared at her papers. “That’s the second time I've heard you say that… Are you really that consumed by guilt?” she muttered.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Tue May 24, 2011 6:27 pm Post subject:
In which a new pilot is about to arrive
"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live." - Norman Cousins
The last few days had not been happy ones, Maya thought. The height of the awkwardness had come when the sniper teams had insisted on being allowed in the classroom at all times. They’d made Ritsuko and Gendo switch seats so he was further away from the window. They’d nearly attacked a kid who’d arrived five minutes late before they decided that no terrorists would be so short.
On the other hand, she’d managed to make a better friend in Daisuke, who was now eating lunch with them on a regular basis. The kid was completely enamored with his uncle, and sometimes bored the group with his recounting of the man’s exploits. Apparently Yamada had been everywhere, even the Middle East before Second Impact.
The day Kaito had arrived, Maya had gone to his house to do math homework with him, and had been surprised. The apartment was in one of the more upscale parts of the city, and it was apparent from the moment that Daisuke had opened the door that they were very rich.
"I'm home!" Daisuke called out as he stepped in. No one answered. He yelled it out again, still no answer.
Maya followed hesitantly. "Maybe they're not home," she suggested.
Daisuke kicked off his shoes and beckoned for Maya to follow him. "Of course they are," he said. "My grandparents are probably just busy doing something else. It's kind of how they are," he explained.
"Oh, you live with your grandparents?" Maya asked. "I used to, before I came here."
The boy nodded. "Yeah," he said. "My mom died in childbirth, and I don't really know who my dad is." He led her through the entry hall and a dining room where an old woman was seated. She looked up critically at the two teens but said nothing and returned to her knitting. "Hi Gran," Daisuke said, but got no response.
He continued on, and Maya followed him, to his room, which consisted mostly of a bed and a desk. Three was also a chair, and a carpet. Nothing on the walls, nothing that suggested anyone actually used the room. It just sort of... sat there. "Um..." she started.
"Yeah, I know," he said. "Please just don't ask."
Maya sighed and sat down on the bed. "Um, right," she said. She shook her head. Looking back on it, she'd been surprised her grandparents hadn't told her the truth about things, but at least they had treated her kindly. The two of them went on to do the homework, and finished.
The next day, Maya had been a lot nicer to Daisuke, and Ritsuko had gone so far as to accuse Maya of having a crush on him. Maya, in turn, had blushed and protested that she couldn’t possibly be interested in him. She wasn’t. Like most boys, Daisuke was entirely too crude at times, though he did his best to hide it whenever there was a girl present. Picking his nose when no one was looking, scratching himself in awkward places.
Boys were stupid.
Maya had never, ever been interested in one. Not really. There had been the joking in elementary school, pretending to be boyfriend and girlfriend and holding hands or something, but that didn’t really count. There’d been a few older men worth looking at, but never anyone her own age. When people asked if she’d get a boyfriend, she’d said simply that she was waiting for them to grow up. It seemed like a safe plan.
On the Thursday after Kaito’s arrival in Japan and Jet Alone’s explosion, Maya was sent a letter informing her that she would not be going to class that particular day, for reasons that would be explained in Nerv HQ. Naturally, of course, she abandoned all of hope of getting to classes without some difficulty, for an entire team of grown men with guns were camped in the corridor outside her apartment building. Jerks.
They escorted her quickly to the elevators that led underground; almost shooting a car that happened to be driving by just because it was there and could possibly decide to swerve off the road, slam on the gas and attempt to fit through a door big enough for one person, and crush Maya like a pancake despite the many bodies between itself and her.
* * *
Shinji Ikari looked at the gravestone sadly, remembering and trying to pretend that everything was going to be okay. It wasn’t even a stone, really. It was a marker. There wasn’t enough room for gravestones in the post-Impact world. Even people who’d died afterwards died knowing they’d simply be burned, rather than left to “waste” space.
One marker among thousands.
They stretched out as far as he could see. Many were unlabelled. Entire social groups had died in the stretch of a few minutes, so how could anyone identify the bodies? The people who’d survived had been known to just kill themselves rather than face the world before them.
One marker among thousands.
One name among hundreds.
It lost all meaning, too. It was just a few symbols sketched into rock. That was all that was there. Nothing to say what she’d done, what she’d meant, who she really was. Date of birth? Even Shinji had forgotten it, and he’d never forgotten it when she was alive. Date of death? Unknown, but most simply looked here and thought of one month.
One marker among thousands.
One name among hundreds.
One date that didn’t need to be said.
He’d never see her face again. Their photo albums had all been burned away. The wallet he’d had that day had been stolen. A picture he’d had in his suitcase had been left behind. All government records had been lost. She might very well have never existed as far as anyone knew.
One marker among thousands.
One name among hundreds.
One date that didn’t need to be said.
One woman forgotten.
The part that made it most painful, he realized, was that he never learned. He always looked at the next grave over, always expecting it to bear HER name. Where the mother’s name was at least present, something he could shut his eyes and talk to as if she’d never really left, even if it was ALL that was left, the complete and stark absence of the daughter hurt most.
It had become like clockwork. This was the part where he fell to his knees, trying not to cry. This was the part where he looked at the only thing he had left, trying to see straight despite everything. This was the part where he gave up and just sobbed like a child.
This was where he was. Every minute, every day, despite the best effort of every distraction, despite every kind word from everyone who ever found out, despite every effort to forget the women, here he was, venerating the only thing he had left.
One marker among thousands.
One name among hundreds.
One date that didn’t need to be said.
One woman forgotten.
One man broken.
* * *
Maya pulled herself out of the elevator and marched into the bridge. The captain and Gendo were already there, both standing awkwardly. Soryu brightened when Maya arrived. "Good, you're here. Make yourself comfortable."
The pilot considered sitting down in one of the chairs, but decided to move next to Gendo instead, to avoid looking particularly awkward. "Hello Captain," she said.
“Morning,” said Asuka brightly, “I’m pleased to announce to both of you that we’re finally receiving all of Nerv-03’s Evangelion equipment.”
Maya blinked in confusion and turned to Gendo. He clearly understood what Asuka meant, but wasn’t going to let on, even in facial expressions. She turned back to Asuka, hoping for an explanation.
The captain understood, and continued. "Today, Evangelion Unit 02 has arrived.”
Gendo smirked very slightly. “And the pilot?” he asked.
“Of course! She’s… a nice girl, of course. A bit strange, but she knows her Japanese very well, and I hope you’ll both help her settle in.”
"Well, of course I will!" Maya replied. "I didn't even know there were any pilots besides the pair of us! Has she been training at all, or is she like me?"
“The pilot is not new,” Asuka said. “She’s been training for six years, you know. That’s more than Gendo has, if I remember rightly.” She turned to the boy expectantly.
Gendo said nothing.
“Well, then… We’re going to go see her now, of course. Do you want to ride in my car, or would you feel safer in an armored vehicle?”
Maya blanched. “Oh please, let’s take your car, Captain. I’m really tired of the guards. They just keep getting in the way of everything.”
Asuka laughed. “I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s just that with Jet Alone, we’re… pretty nervous. We don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“Nothing will,” Gendo said confidently. “To me anyways…”
Maya gulped. “Could you at least tell them to be less blatant? I’m afraid to take a shower sometimes.”
Again the captain laughed. “I’ll see what I can do. Besides, Doctor Ayanami has pointed out that if terrorists had been planning to attack, they’d have seen our grossly inflated security measures and would probably just give up by now.”
Maya wondered if she should point out that decreasing security measures might be seen as an invitation, but… Well, it wasn’t as if the snipers were being gotten rid of, right? Just told to back off a little bit.
Then she decided to stop pondering, because Asuka was leading them up to her car, and babbling away about her favorite TV shows and how she was thinking maybe Maya would benefit from watching them, because they were soooo funny. Maya had tried watching one, but it was stupid and immature. All kids’ entertainment was childish lately. She’d snuck to a used books store back home a few times and bought a few things from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Their idea of children’s entertainment had been a bit more mature and more to her liking.
It was like adults thought they had to shelter kids. It didn’t work. Even a girl like Maya had seen the aftermath of Second Impact. Her generation didn’t worry about monsters under the bed. They worried about the monsters that walked the streets.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Wed May 25, 2011 10:49 pm Post subject:
In which causality is abandoned
"Each of us can manifest the properties of a field of consciousness that transcends space, time, and linear causality." - Stanislav Grof
Kotonoha Katsuko’s Report on Rokubungi Gendo:
Progress continues to be minimal.
Of course. I mean, I can’t do anything with this kid. You know that, whoever reads these admittedly useless reports knows that I can’t help him at all with as little information as I’ve been given. For example, when is this kid’s birthday? Why is a birthday classified? That’s stupid.
Today, Wednesday, July 29th, I think I contributed about 99.9% to a one thousand word dialogue. His word? “Goodbye.” However, I can say with definite certainty that he flinched when the Jet Alone incident was mentioned. The kid has something resembling human emotions after all, this is great news, isn’t it?
So be honest, Ikari-sensei. This isn’t really about Gendo, is it? Is this something I’m going to suffer for? Did my talking in class that one time make you desperate for revenge, so you arranged to hire me to put up with the least human kid on the face of the Earth?
Seriously, you have to give me more to work with than this.
This is report number fifty-nine.
Just as useless as the rest.
* * *
Three minutes, seventeen seconds into the drive, the car-phone began to ring. Asuka, who was swerving through thick Tokyo-3 traffic, turned to Maya. “Can you get that?” she asked.
Maya nodded and picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“Who is this?” It sounded like one of the lieutenants. Suzuhara, maybe?
“This is the pilot of Evangelion Unit 01. Ibuki Maya.”
“Oh, good. Asuka there?” He sounded very concerned, Maya realized.
“Tell her to turn the car around and get back here. This is urgent.”
Maya gulped. “An Angel?” she asked.
“Yeah.” Suzuhara hung up the phone.
Asuka was looking at Maya, concerned. “We have to go back, then?”
Asuka flipped a switch, and a siren turned on. Cars began to pull out of their way, and the captain performed a quick U-turn. Then she slammed on the gas. “An Angel just would attack today,” she muttered. “It’s like they know when we have something important going on…”
Twelve minutes later, Maya was in Eva-01, listening in on the discussions going on in the command center.
“This is bad,” Asuka commented. “This thing is huge.”
The Vice-Commander made a non-committal grunt, and said simply, “Every scan that your team has performed has produced conflicting results. This time, we’re not even sure where the core is supposed to be.”
“It’s right there!” Asuka protested. She was obviously pointing at something, but communications were Sound Only right now.
“That’s what it seems,” Suzuhara agreed. “But we’re really not sure at this point. More to the point, how the hell are we going to get up to it?”
“Uh… well…” Captain Soryu hesitated for some time. “Aida, is the B-Type armor completed?”
“We’ve got a couple of working models, but neither is designed for Eva-00. We can’t send Ma-”
“We won’t be.” A visual of the captain with the command center in the background flickered on. Of the others, only the Vice-Commander was looking at the console. “Rokubungi?” Asuka asked.
Another visual turned on. “Yes?”
“We’re going to send you an armor module. Your job is to retrieve it and take it to the harbor. Once there, inform the Second Child that she is to suit up in Eva-02, put on the armor, and find a way to attack the Angel. Then get ready to provide cover.”
Gendo looked upset that he wouldn’t get to fight the Angel properly, but nodded. “Yes, ma’am,” he said simply. He turned off the radio, and a light on Maya’s terminal informed her that Eva-00 had been launched.
“And me, ma’am?” she asked.
Asuka grinned. “We’re giving you some B-Type armor. It’ll let your Evangelion swim through the water. Go to the coast before suiting up though. It’s not exactly designed for aboveground movement.” She cut communications.
And then Maya saw the B-Type armor. It was designed to fit around Eva-01’s armor, but she saw immediately that it was going to be difficult to put on. Quite a lot of the armor consisted of helium bubbles of some construction or another. Without it, Eva-01 would probably just sink to the bottom without any hope at all.
* * *
Maya stared up at the Angel in shock. It was every bit as huge as they’d said. The upper parts of its body passed through the clouds. Its head was white, with a long beak. Below it was a small red sphere encased in a tetrahedral cage. Its body was a collection of black structural supports forming strange shapes. Its two legs were connected by a small ring each to the main body, and the ring spun to lift the leg and move it forward. The legs were miles high, and trailed into points. Between them hung an immense sphere, shining with its own strange light. Helixes and spheres were everywhere on it, though the helixes defied Maya’s attempts to follow them from one end to the other.
Something behind the creatures head moved like a clock hand, ticking away slowly. With each move, a leg went forward and touched down. Where the legs met the water, ice began to form. Already half a dozen icebergs had sprung into the tropical waters.
A dozen ships floated in the water nearby, trying to keep away from the immense Angel. They were clearly the best in the fleet, but Maya saw they weren’t moving fast enough. A moment later, a leg struck through one of the ships, freezing it solid completely.
Maya snapped to attention and began throwing the B-Type armor over herself, ready to swim at the Angel… Not that it would make much of a difference. She couldn’t see any possible difference that could result. They were screwed.
As she leapt into the water, she saw something red dive from one of the boats. It swam quickly to an iceberg, holding some sort of spear. It stabbed the iceberg. Nothing happened. So the red thing - Eva-02? - jumped onto the iceberg and looked up. At this point, Maya had made Eva-01 swim close up to the Angel, following it.
Maybe it was the sphere above her, but everything here seemed red. She radioed Eva-02, asking if the pilot had any ideas. Only static came back at first, and then finally, broken but audible, one word. “Climb.”
“Climb?” Maya looked at Eva-02, which was so red it burned. The robot pulled out its two prog knives, stuck them into one leg of the Angel, and began to ascend. She decided she’d do the same.
* * *
The pilot of Eva-02 turned on her radio as Eva-01 caught up. ‘I wonder if she has any ideas’, the pilot wondered, as Eva-01 followed the Angel. Here, everything was bathed in red light, and the Evangelion, which had been clearly purple before, lost all the blue coloration. A single word came in over the radio, almost unintelligible because of the static. “Climb.”
“Climb?” The pilot looked at Eva-01, which pulled out its two prog knives, stuck them into one leg of the Angel, and began to ascend. She decided she’d do the same.
Up and up they went, first using the knives and balancing their feet against the legs, then clinging onto the rungs of the helixes, then finally shimmying their way across. Each meter they rose made the world redder, when they stood together between the sphere and the head, even the Evangelions had disappeared into red. Strangely though, each detail of the Angel was present and clear.
‘Think…’ the pilot of Eva-02, Anita Griffith, thought to herself. ‘Think hard.’ She looked up at the red sphere in its cage. ‘They say Angels have cores, but…’ She looked down at the other sphere. ‘It’s sort of red,’ she thought. There wasn’t enough time for both, she realized. Neither of them was plugged in, and she wasn’t sure how many minutes they’d wasted. They’d only had five to start with.
She began to crawl down the body, heading for the immense sphere. Maybe Eva-01 was following her lead; maybe its pilot had come to the same conclusion. It was hard to tell. Weirder still was the way the Angel had completely ignored them. Surely they were supposed to attack?
They reached the sphere. No reaction. They stabbed into it.
And were blasted away by an explosion.
* * *
Maya watched in horror. Their plan had worked, but she was falling much too fast and towards the ground, not the waters. She turned to Eva-02, hoping for another idea. It deployed a parachute.
“What?! I don’t have a parachute!” Maya started pressing random buttons, though, just in case. One button turned on headlights, which was interesting but unwanted. Another caused random clicking to happen. Maya realized it was for forced unplugging of the umbilical cords the Evas got power from. Finally, the Entry Plug was ejected, and she parachuted down to the streets.
Eva-01 landed in a tangled wreck a few meters away. Maya flinched instinctively.
* * *
Asuka, Rei, Kaworu, and Shinji met in a private room, far away from the prying eyes of lesser Nerv workers. Rei had a binder filled with pictures that she wanted to show them.
“Let’s start with the most alarming,” she said. She placed the first one in the center of the table. It showed several clouds above the battle site that just stopped sharply, as if the rest of them had been cut away. “This image was captured shortly after the explosion.”
Kaworu shrugged his shoulders. “We know the Angels are dangerous. There isn’t much we can do.”
Rei slapped two more pictures down. One showed the Angel’s core, sparking with burning white light. Another showed it falling into the sea. The water had receded all around it, a perfect bowl that existed without any forces that could have pushed them away.
“All these pictures are connected to the Core?” Asuka asked nervously.
Rei nodded. “I believe we have finally determined the location of the S2 Engines that each Angel is equipped with. Only a broken engine could have produced such results.”
“Can it be recovered?” Shinji asked.
“Understood. Now, one other abnormality…” Rei produced a series of pictures, showing Eva-01 and Eva-02 moving up the Angel. “Both pilots moved in complete synchronicity for a period of three minutes and twelve seconds. We have yet to account for this fact. We also observe that they each sent a radio message to the other pilot at the same time.”
“Strange… Is that a bad sign?”
“I don’t know,” Rei admitted. “That’s all I have. I’ll send a team to retrieve the core ASAP.” She left, bowing. Shinji left shortly after that.
Kaworu turned to Asuka, smiling. “Congratulations, by the way. Although we lost half our defense system and a quarter of the UN fleet, your diversion worked.’
“None of our shots even hit the Angel. Its AT Field was immense.”
“Yes, but… it’ll only take a week and a half to repair Eva-01. It could have been much worse if the Angel noticed them while they climbed up it.” Kaworu bowed. “Good job, Captain. It’s time for a meeting with the Committee, or I’d stay longer.” He left as well.
Asuka didn’t mind everyone’s hasty retreat. She rushed off after gathering her things, looking forward to talking to Anita again. It had been half a month. They had a lot of catching up to do.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Thu May 26, 2011 3:53 pm Post subject:
In which Anita introduces herself without fanfare
"How like a winter hath my absence been / From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!" - Sonnet XCVII, William Shakespeare
Asuka’s arms spread open just in time for Anita to run into them and embrace her tightly. The two held each other for over a minute, and then pulled away. Asuka looked at the girl closely. She had a couple of bruises, some of which were hard to see because of her tan skin, but she always did. Her dark gray eyes were wide with joy, which was a nice sight to see.
“I missed you too,” Asuka said. They’d only had a few days to say goodbye. Her job transfer had been approved four days before she’d come to Japan, and Anita’s training had been doubled for reasons that Asuka hadn’t been aware of at the time.
The two of them walked side-by-side for awhile down the corridors, just enjoying each others’ company. Then, pulling at the braid in her hair slightly, Anita asked, “So um, where will I live here?”
Asuka grinned. “One of the conditions for me coming over here was that you’d end up living with me. It’s a little cramped because the commander is an idiot who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘mansion’, but I think the two of us can live there no problem.”
“Good! Oh, and you saw my battle, of course?” Anita looked up at Asuka hopefully, clearly ready to start bragging.
Asuka only nodded in response, deciding not to mention the oddities they’d detected.
“It went as perfectly as I’d trained for.”
“Yeah. Good job there.” Asuka reached into a pocket of her uniform and pulled out some papers. “So, uh, you’ll be going to this school…” She handed Anita a pamphlet. “It’s the same class as the other two pilots, so I’m sure you’ll fit in great.”
* * *
“You’re throwing her a party?” Rei asked. "She just got here. Besides, we're all going to be busy. Like I am now." Once again, Asuka had made herself far too comfortable on Rei's desk, and was stretched out and interfering with Rei's attempts to get her job done. The corpses of the Angels weren't going to analyze themselves.
“Yeah! I think it’ll help her make friends here, with the pilots and with us. She’s lived in Nerv-03 for so long that she hasn’t really had to work at making friends, and I'm worried maybe it'll be hard for her, not being quite so special anymore. Anyways, the party's tomorrow night and I'm hoping we'll spend most of the night goofing off.”
“It's a sleepover too?” When Asuka nodded, Rei shook her head in disgust and continued with, “Aren’t we a little old for a sleepover?”
“I’m only twenty-nine!” Asuka protested. “Come on... You know you want to come.” She smiled broadly,
Rei shrugged. “I guess I don’t have anything else to do. At least, not then. I'm working now though, so if you don't mind...”
Asuka left, encouraged. However, others were not so interested. The adult friends she had almost invariably turned her proposal down.
“I have a date with Toji-kun,” Hikari said simply when Asuka called. “It’s rare for us to both have a Friday night free.”
Oh, right. She was on leave of absence, and probably didn't want to be around a lot of people right then anyway. Asuka kicked herself mentally, but moved on quickly.
“Ever since security went up, I have to keep an eye on Maya’s apartment. Make sure no one breaks in while she’s away and plants a bomb or something,” Kimie explained.
“I have to write a report,” Katsuko said.
Asuka moved onto the pilots after that. She’d told Maya about it, and she said she’d come along. Gendo had been invited as a courtesy. He’d walked away. She really only had a couple other ideas, though they wouldn’t be allowed to stay the whole night. They were men, after all.
“I wish I could,” Kaworu said when he asked, “because it’s important that she get adjusted to Tokyo-3 quickly, but I have a Committee meeting tomorrow night.”
The Commander was her last hope, and he too turned her down, for much the same reasons as Kaworu. He did, strangely, seem surprised that Anita was living with Asuka. “When did that happen?”
“I got your approval for it, remember? That one night you called me in Germany.”
“Oh.” Shinji considered for a moment, and looked at the only picture he kept on his desk. Asuka wondered briefly what that picture was. It always faced him and she'd never seen anyone go onto his side of the desk. Shinji gulped. “Can… can I ask you a favor?”
“I… depends on the favor…” Asuka didn’t like the way this conversation was going.
Shinji gulped again, but pressed on. “Well. This is about Anita getting adjusted, right?”
“Well… she’s not the only one who isn’t adjusted… Gendo is… well, he needs a little help." At Asuka's skeptical glance, Shinji corrected himself. "A lot of help. He really needs someone normal to socialize with, and…”
Asuka sighed. "I already invited him, you know. He said no. Well, I'm assuming that was his answer anyway. He really didn't say much of anything."
"That's... not quite what I meant." Shinji looked at the picture again. Asuka wanted to reach over and grab it, to see what face it held. Though she had a sneaking suspicion. Almost involuntarily, the captain reached up and started playing with her dyed brown hair. "What I mean is," the commander said, "Gendo should probably start living with people, instead of by himself."
“You want me to move Gendo in too?” Asuka didn't even bother trying to keep the shock and outrage (yes, outrage. What the hell was this idiot thinking, that she was a day care center?!) out of her voice.
Shinji looked at her pleadingly. “Please.”
“Why not you?”
“I… I couldn’t. Not after…”
“Oh…” Asuka gulped. That was another candidate for the person in the picture. Or maybe it was both of them, really. “Okay, fine. There’s one spare room, it’s small, but he can have it. I’ll move him in tomorrow night. But this is the last time you get to ask a favor like this! I am NOT moving Maya in too!”
She rose. "At any rate, it's time I get back to work. Goodbye, Commander."
* * *
“All right,” Kensuke said, standing in front of Keita, Michiko, and Takeru. He couldn't believe that these idiots were the best technicians Nerv had. “The crash pretty much broke every bone in Eva-01’s body.” They paused for a moment, to look up at the wreck of the Eva-01, which had been transferred to a non-standard Evangelion cage.
The robot was no longer even capable of holding itself up, and the regular crews had given up trying to force the body into a position that could at least be righted, so it just lay on the floor of the cage, pathetic and wounded. Kensuke gulped. Even in this state he still felt as if the thing could go into berserk at any moment and destroy them all. But that was impossible; it had no power.
“Wonderful,” Keita muttered. “There’s not a whole lot we can do for that.”
“The spine is still intact, however,” Kensuke said. “So that’s a good sign. And even if we don’t have the resources to replace the limbs, we can do a lot of work with realigning joints and replacing digits.”
‘We, of course.’ Michiko thought. ‘Because you’re going to be doing this and not just ordering us around as much as possible.’ There was a sound behind her and the technicians turned to the Eva. No, it wasn't moving. Just something settling, surely. She took a deep breath.
Takeru frowned. “Even with all of that work," he noted, "we still are going to have to take awhile to get everything done." He walked over to a computer set into the wall and typed something into it. "And that's accounting for a couple of the spare parts we do have."
“Damn,” Kensuke muttered. “We want this done in less than two weeks.”
“Evas don’t heal that quickly,” Keita noted. "They just... don't."
The lieutenant glared at everyone. “Find something to speed things up then! Anything at this point would be helpful.”
Takeru and Keita exchanged a glance. They had one idea. It might work.
* * *
“So, any results for the Jet Alone explosion?” Raidon asked. He and Kaito had settled down into the Nerv cafeteria with lunch, and while Raidon was more interested in eating, he was somewhat concerned about the prospects of corporate terrorism. It was something Nerv really didn't need to be getting involved in.
Kaito shrugged his shoulders. “I presented all the information to Doctor Ayanami. If something is up, then she’ll let me know.”
“Damn. I’m kinda curious about that. I mean, Jet Alone obviously had some pretty good specs. It would take something powerful to penetrate its armor.”
Kaito took a sip from his drink and leaned back. The cafeteria was perhaps the worst place to have conversations in Nerv, especially private ones, but there wasn’t really anywhere else for the two to go talk. He’d already found at least five listening devices in a bathroom. A bathroom! At least here they’d be covered up by the noise.
“So what do you think it was, then?” Kaito asked.
Raidon leaned in closely. “Well, it wasn’t some stupid independent group, I can tell you that much. The specs for Jet Alone suggest that you’d need military-grade weapons to have a chance of penetrating the armor. Thus… it could be us, the JSSDF… or a rival military.”
“Or the Angels?”
“Why though?” Raidon asked. “Jet Alone can’t hit them. They’ve always been attacking here, where the big weapons are. And let’s face it; there were three entire days between the explosion and the next Angel attack. Why didn't it just come straight to Tokyo-3 and attack the same day?”
“I dunno…” Kaito said, pausing to take a few bites of his food. “I’m not even sure which military groups could have pulled that off. Japanese airspace is monitored, at least along our borders. If it wasn’t the JSSDF, then it would have to be us.”
“Then it was the JSSDF, simple as that.”
Kaito sighed. “I can probably find out something from there. They owe me a couple of favors. We won’t be able to do anything about it though. Best case scenario we might be able to find out if they want to pull anything with us.” He laughed. "Not likely though, and if they are actually planning something, we're probably in a world of hurt."
Raidon shrugged. “Just knowing is enough for me.” He looked down at his empty plate. “Well, I finished up with lunch. Thanks for the chat, Yamada-san.”
“Sure. You remind me a bit of someone I went to school with. It’s like having those conversations all over again.” Kaito grinned and waved as Raidon walked away.
* * *
“I look ridiculous in this uniform,” Anita muttered as she and Maya ducked into Class 2-A. She tried brushing it down for a moment, unsuccessfully. She looked down at it again, wondering whose idea it was to have such a weird shade of green for a uniform, and what the ridiculous bow was all about.
Maya laughed. “You’ll get used to it.”
“No,” Anita said calmly. “No, I don’t think I will.” She looked around at the unfamiliar room, but Maya noted that she didn't seem all that uncomfortable or nervous. Anita wasn't looking all that friendly at anyone either, she realized, but at least she was taking the time to look around.
Strasberg-sensei was already in the classroom, which was unusual for him. He noticed the two pilots and approached. “Ah, G… Gurifi…”
“Griffith,” Anita enunciated. “It’s American.”
Strasberg nodded. “I’m afraid I’m a bit too used to Japanese. Perhaps you will introduce yourself and I’ll use your first name? That is the western way of doing things. It's Anita, right?”
Anita nodded. “That’s fine,” she said. “Where do I sit?”
“We’ll worry about that after you introduce yourself.”
“Intro-” Anita turned to Maya, but she’d already sat down next to her friends, and was smiling and laughing a little with one of them.
“Don’t worry about it. You’ll just say your name and a little about yourself. Where you came from, interests, that sort of thing.”
Anita nodded, gulping. Public speaking was not her strong suit, and it became apparent to all her classmates after the bell rang and Strasberg-sensei made everyone give Anita their attention. “I… I’m Anita Griffith. I am the pilot of Evangelion Production Model-02, and I come from Hamburg, Germany, where Nerv-03 Base is located.” She bowed, and was silent.
Maya glared over at Satsuki as she heard her whisper to Kaede, “Great, some stupid gaijin,” but said nothing.
No one said anything for a few awkward moments (everyone heard Satsuki); then Strasberg directed Anita to take a seat. She hurried over there and pulled out her supplies. Strasberg-sensei sighed, and began to talk about math. People kept staring at Anita, but there weren’t many whispers and soon the class seemed to reach the consensus that she was either shy or couldn’t speak Japanese very well, and the day went on as normal.
This meant that Anita’s introduction had gone off much better than Maya’s, really.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:53 pm Post subject:
In which Gendo moves in
"What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies." - Aristotle
Rei and Maya got to the party at the same time. A moving truck had already pulled in, and two workers were pulling a bed out of it.
“Huh?” Maya stared. “I thought Anita was already all moved in?”
“I believe Rokubungi’s items are arriving as well,” Rei explained, not even stopping on her approach to the front doors.
“What? Rokubungi…” Maya couldn’t believe it. “Why is that?”
Rei stopped this time, but only to shoot Maya a glare that made it clear that Rei thought the girl was asking entirely too many questions. “It was a last minute request from the Commander. I don't know any more than that, so stop talking."
As they approached the apartment doors, Maya looking down, Gendo got out of the moving van and approached them. “I am home,” he announced to Rei, ignoring Maya.
“Hey Gendo-kun!” Maya exclaimed, trying to be nice.
“Doctor Ayanami…” Gendo bowed, still ignoring his co-pilot. "I'm very glad to see you here."
“Hello, Rokubungi,” Rei said. She sounded incredibly cold. Maya couldn’t believe it. She’d never heard her quite like that before. She decided not to ask though, and instead, all three of them went up to Asuka’s apartment and Rei knocked on the door.
Asuka answered. “Oh, hi! Gendo! Rei! Maya!” she grinned. “Come on in!” The ladies did, Gendo hesitated. Asuka sighed, and put her hand on Gendo's shoulder. “Look, I know this is a weird change, but the Commander asked me to take care of you, and that’s what I'm going to do.” It didn’t sound incredibly believable, but she was trying. Gendo responded with a look that was a mixture of innocence and coldness. “Can you give us a chance?”
“I will do my best,” he said, taking his suitcase and exploring the apartment until he found his new bedroom. It was small enough to be a large closet. His bed had been placed inside, but it was empty otherwise. He sat the suitcase on the bed, not taking care to open it and unpack. There wasn't much inside besides school supplies and clothes anyway.
Then he joined everyone else, who were dining happily on Chinese food Asuka had ordered for the occasion. It was an awkward table, Maya in her school uniform, Rei in her lab coat, Anita in simple-looking clothing, and Asuka in a ridiculously revealing (but comfy-looking) outfit. She opened up a beer and passed a second can to Rei.
“To us. We somehow managed to evolve into responsible adults.” She giggled slightly.
Rei drank, but afterwards corrected Asuka with, “Adults, at any rate.”
“So, what do you think of the place?” Anita asked Maya nervously, edging slightly away from Asuka, who was perhaps enjoying her alcohol a little too much."
“It’s great; Asuka's apartment looks pretty comfortable. And uh, I think we'll get along.”
Anita blushed. “Thank you,” she said. She sighed. “I’m not sure what I’ll do about… him… though,” she admitted quietly.
“You can always call me,” Maya offered. Then the two of them began to eat, and conversation stopped while everyone enjoyed the food. No one had bothered saying a word to Gendo.
When they were done, Asuka announced that it was time to watch a bad movie, and led everyone into the living room. Gendo followed reluctantly. The movie “Escape from Monster Island: Part VII: The Clones Attack from Outer Space” was not a movie that sounded like it could be interesting. Trying to avoid everyone, he sat in a corner.
“Come on over, Gendo-kun!” Asuka called. “Sit here!” She patted the sofa cushion next to her. After he moved, she leaned in to whisper to Rei on her other side. “See? All he needs is a little push.” Then they began to watch the movie, laughing their way through the poor costumes, dialogue, sets, and characterizations. Asuka did most of the laughing, actually. Rei seemed a little reserved, and all three children were a little uncomfortable. They did loosen up when Asuka put in the next movie, which was a sequel with even lower production values.
Still though, Asuka considered it a major success when she managed to get Gendo to mock part of the movie. Specifically, he mocked the cardboard rocks. Not the best joke, she thought, but it was a real start.
“See? Having fun is nice.”
“I fail to see the purpose it serves,” Gendo said coldly.
“Stress relief,” Rei suggested. Maya noted she sounded much nicer to Gendo now. She wondered if it was the alcohol, or if it was simply being around Asuka.
“Next time you feel awful, like the world is out to get you, just remember something silly or funny, and laugh. I promise you’ll feel much better, right Anita?” Asuka offered.
“I, um… Y-yeah.”
“I do not feel that way.” Gendo stood up and went to his room.
Asuka sighed, and realized that she should call Shinji and report on the way that things were going. “Hey, Rei? Can you cover for me for a second? I need to make a call.” She went to the veranda, pulling out her cell phone.
Rei, loudly and jokingly, made an announcement. “If either of you touch alcohol or make any other kind of trouble, I will break your pathetic legs and lock you in your Evangelion for at least thirty-six days.”
“Yes, Doctor,” Anita said.
“I wouldn’t think of it!” Maya answered quickly.
* * *
On the veranda, Asuka began rehearsing while the phone rang. “Oh, Commander, sorry! I was just calling to give you a status report, not to listen to the sound of your voice…” She giggled to herself. "I need to stop thinking about that," she said. "It's really silly."
Then he answered. “This is Commander Ikari. Who’s calling?”
“Oh! Uh… Commander…” She tried to calm herself down.
“Asu- Captain?” Even though he'd known that she would be calling him to tell him about Gendo, he still sounded a little surprised. Was he just surprised she was maybe a little drunk? He'd seen her like that before, but not since their college... thing... That had been so wrong.
What had he been thinking, asking the woman he could only remember as the drunken college girl to take care of some teen kid who needed help?
“Hey. Yeah… Sorry about calling you this late… Can you talk?”
“It…” Shinji gulped. “It’s fine.”
“I was calling to give you an update on Gendo’s status,” Asuka explained. And nothing else, she told herself again. That stuff needed to stop, and it needed to stop here. It wasn't even a deal, and besides... Something might be going on between herself and Kaworu. Even though they hadn't really talked since the dinner. Nothing except Angels.
“Yeah? How is he doing?”
Asuka paced back and forth nervously. “I think… I think you made a good choice sending him to me.” Okay in reality she'd just made him talk once, but that might be good. He didn't seem to do much socializing otherwise. She could get more out of the poor kid, she was sure of it.
“Hey uh… You think we could, like, get together sometime?" No! What was she doing? This was stupid. "T-to discuss battle plans!” she amended. "That's what I mean."
Shinji was silent for a moment. He was going to say no, wasn't he? He was remembering everything about everything and he was going to say- “Battle plans. Sure.”
“Yeah, right. Anyway, I think that living here is a good way to deal with Rokubungi’s antisocial low self-esteem. Uh… I was just calling to let you know this. So now that you do, I guess I should end this call, so…” Asuka trailed off.
“Uh, right. Goodbye.” Shinji sounded just as awkward as she felt. This was why they hadn't talked in forever.
“Yeah. See you tomorrow?”
Asuka smiled, even though Shinji couldn’t see her. “’Night, Commander Baka.”
“Night,” he responded. She hung up. That went well.
* * *
“You like it in there, don’t you?” Maya asked. She and Anita were in Anita’s new bedroom, sprawled out on the bed and both feeling quite comfortable. Things had gone quite well that evening, all things considered.
Anita didn't answer for a moment, and finally turned to Maya with confusion on her face. “Do I like it in where?” she asked.
“In that thing,” Maya said vaguely.
Another hesitation, but eventually the answer came. “I suppose so. I’ve been trained for it for six years,” Anita said, realizing what Maya meant.
“Six years… I can’t even imagine." Maya shook her head. She hoped she wouldn't be piloting in the year 2021. She'd be twenty by then. That was... old. "You turned out better than some, though. Growing up at Nerv, I mean.”
“If you're talking about Gendo... I guess I got lucky.” Anita was quiet for awhile, and then she asked, “Would you think I was crazy if I told you something?”
“You can tell me anything,” Maya said. It was heartfelt, even though they barely knew each other. Pilots, Maya decided, had to stick together no matter what. The Angels weren't going to kill themselves. And there were too many stories of what went wrong when soldiers couldn't work together, anyway.
It suddenly occured to Maya that she was thinking of herself as a soldier. And that was truly terrifying.
“I don’t mind being in the plug. I actually… I like it. I feel like the whole world accepts me, when I'm in there.” Anita rolled onto her back and stretched out a little.
Maya smiled. “That’s beautiful… I’m not surprised you don’t hate it like me if it makes you feel like that. I… I envy you.” She tried to decide how she felt inside of an Eva. She didn't know if she was entirely sure, though. Safe, maybe? Or just really nervous.
They were both tired, and as neither could think of anything more to say in that discussion, they settled down to sleep.
* * *
Asuka didn't go back in right away, deciding for quite awhile to just stare at the stars instead. She wasn't sure what she thought, and wasn't in the mood for a party. When she did come back, though, she was smiling broadly. “Hey kids, I’m ba- Huh?” Asuka looked around at the mostly empty living room. Only Rei remained.
“They left to sleep," the doctor explained.
“Already?” Asuka handed a beer to Rei and took another of her own. She looked around. “Remember that dingy old dorm room?”
Ayanami sighed, preferring not to think about the places she used to live. “I burned it to the ground after we left. There are no records,” Rei said, perfectly deadpan. Asuka giggled a little at that. “The apartment I have is quite comfortable for living alone,” she added.
“Don’t you miss me?” Asuka pouted.
“You’re right here.”
Asuka shut her eyes and thought back to those college days. “I missed having you grumble about me not picking up after myself, or Hikari making us stay up late to finish homework…”
“And you and Toji always fought during study sessions. I think he liked you.” Rei laughed a little, but Asuka just rolled her eyes in disbelief.
“That’s out of a manga. ‘I like you, but I’ll act like I hate you to hide it.’”
Rei glared. “Kaito and Kensuke liked you too. You could have had any boy in that school.” There was perhaps just the tiniest hint of jealousy and bitterness in her voice, but Asuka didn't notice. She was too in love with all the memories she had. They were the best she had.
“None of them worked out. They were all… idiots, and stuff. College boys, right?” A moment’s silence. They both reflected on the issue they were dancing around. “It’s good to be back, good to be with you.”
Rei looked out a window. “I wish Second Impact had never happened,” she said, changing the subject quickly.
“Yeah… Me too.” Asuka tried to block out the memories. “But, there’s nothing we can do about it.” They stared at the stars together, and then Asuka suddenly hugged Rei. “Thanks for coming by,” she said.
Rei shifted. “Sure,” she said.
“We should do this more often. Maybe next time I’ll cook us dinner. I got pretty good at it since we last saw each other. There won't be any more food poisonings, I promise.” Asuka tightened her hold on her old best friend.
“I will remember that,” Rei said, pulling away forcefully. “I should leave now. Good night.”
Rei waved goodbye and left, leaving Asuka alone. After a moment’s uncertainty, she went to the room where the girls were asleep, and opened it slightly.
“You did a great job during the fight,” she whispered. “I’m proud of you both.” They didn’t answer. They were asleep.
The Valiants Project: Giant robots in the last days of man.
||All times are GMT - 5 Hours
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum