[Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Reichu
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[Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Reichu » Fri Mar 27, 2015 11:39 pm

HAHAHAHA, YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN, DIDN'T YOU?

Crying Man
泣いて男(ヒト)

This is a story about Misato's father, the mysterious Dr. Katsuragi. To make the story practical to tell, he shall be appointed a personal name: Akira.

Akira Katsuragi is a brilliant, but sensitive to a fault, man who for years has evaded his emotional obligations to his wife and daughter, escaping into the controversial physics research that has maintained an obsessive hold on his mind. After a decade of grueling work, he has finally published his magnum opus, a massive paper forwarding the Super Solenoid Theory, a potential final solution to humanity's energy crisis. Despite a frustrating initial reception, financial backers eventually emerge... but the blessing is a mixed one, and Akira quickly finds that he is in far over his head. You probably know where things go from here. (...or do you?)

The prelude chapter offers a taste of what is to come, but we're in no rush to get there. Expect a slow burn. Although Crying Man will eventually deal quite heavily with NGE's greater mysteries, this is a character piece first and foremost.

CONTENTS:

UPDATE 8/2016: For the most up to date versions of the chapters, along with all future story updates, please follow this link:
Crying Man @ Archive of Our Own

In-thread links to older chapter edits, along with a disowned Prelude chapter, follow:
SPOILER: Show
Prelude (Antarctica, Early 2000)

PART I

DTNI 1999 Conference, Aachen, Germany

July 17, 1999
Ch.01
Ch.02
Ch.03

Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan

July 19, 1999
Ch. 04 (A) (B) (Katsuragi Household)
Ch. 05 (Kyoto University, Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics [YTD])
Ch. 06 (YTD & Katsuragi Household)

September, 1999
Ch. 07: Enter the Dragon (9/11, YTD)
Ch. 08: Temptation (A) (B) (9/17; Guren no Fukuryū & Katsuragi Household)
Ch. 09: The Crossroads (A) (B) (C) (9/18; Katsuragi Household, Yoshida Shrine, & Around Town) {M; S}
Ch. 10: The Wall (A) (B) (C) (9/18; Katsuragi Household, Outside a School, & Local Arcade) {S; M}
Ch. 11: High Times (MIA) (9/19; Katsuragi Household & Mountains over Sakyo-ku) {S}

October, 1999
Ch. 12: The Dragon & The Fox (UN CfS, HR Office, Tokyo) {Tatsuta}
Ch. 13: Old Pain (A) (B) (Various locations) {A; S}

NOTE: Curly brackets { } denote POV other than Akira.
M = Misato
S = Sayaka


CHARACTERS:

SPOILER: Show
There are going to be a lot of new names, so may as well keep tabs on them as they show up. The prelude will be ignored for the purposes of the list. Characters are listed surname-first in their order of appearance. Principals and main supporting cast are bolded, unless doing so would bring on a bad case of spoilers.

Katsuragi Akira (葛城アキラ): The main character. Husband of Sayaka, father of Misato. A theoretical physicist at Kyoto University's Yukawa Institute (High Energy Physics research group) who spent a decade of his life perfecting and finally (in April 1999) publishing the Super Solenoid Theory. Unusually tall, chronically underweight, and blessed/cursed with youthful biseinen looks. Has a highly sensitive nature and, more than likely, some long-undiagnosed mental health problems. Wears a Greek cross, but claims to not be Christian. Left-handed. 40 y.o. at the time the story begins. Named for Kaworu's voice actor, Akira Ishida (see this old thread). However, unlike Ishida, Katsuragi's name would probably use the kanji 明.

Dr. Amagiri (天霧博士): Initially mentioned in a citation during Akira's lecture. The supervisor of the High Energy Physics department prior to Okadome, now retired to Melbourne, Australia. Akira and Haru are his proteges.

Soryu-Zeppelin, Kyoko (惣流・キョウコ・ツェッペリン): Wife of Langley. Eccentric geneticist currently stationed in Germany who designs custom proteins and breeds mutant terrors. Outgoing and spirited, but somewhat overbearing. Assists Akira via e-mail in his perpetual search for grant money.

Langley, Adrian (エードリアン・ラングレー): Husband of Kyoko. Commercially-funded prosthetician of northeastern US extract, currently stationed in Germany. A bit sardonic, but not unfriendly. Distinguished by his red hair and blue eyes.

Katsuragi Misato (葛城ミサト): Akira and Sayaka's adolescent daughter, 12 years of age when the story begins. Stalwartly devoted to her mother and her well-being, while inwardly loathing her father for his complete emotional unreliability. Once a very mild-mannered and well-behaved girl, now sprouting into a fiery and independent adolescent. A cursing, skateboarding tomboy who flirts with danger through the company she keeps, while paradoxically attempting to avoid "trouble" herself. Participates in multiple sports after school, including martial arts. Likes video games, anime, and European cars.

Katsuragi Sayaka (葛城サヤカ): Akira's wife and Misato's mother. Younger sister of Yura. A small woman, mild of manner and temperament, with dark eyes, swarthy skin, and raven-black hair (normally braided) that extends to the bottom of her back. Studied medicine in college and now holds a part-time job at a clinic. A devoted practitioner of Shinto. Approximately Akira's age. Still loves and desires her husband, despite the pain that his emotional and physical distance brings. Maiden name Katori.

Tanikoshi Hiroshi (谷越ヒロシ): A junior researcher in YTD's High Energy Physics group; one of Akira's kouhai.

Yakumo Haru (八雲ハル): Akira's same-age peer and good friend, also in YTD's High Energy Physics group. Husband to Risa and father of two children. A plain-looking, bespectacled man with a colorful personality. Has known Akira since college and looks out for his well-being. Enabled Risa to pursue a career by gradually reducing his own work load and sharing equally in domestic responsibilities.

Igara Kaworu (伊賀良かをる): Akira's maternal great-aunt, who died of illness in 1935 at the tender age of 19, and to whom Akira bears an incredible resemblance. Raised as an Orthodox Christian, but, while devout, was rather liberal. Possessed extraordinary innate proclivities for both the arts and the sciences. Her Greek cross necklace is now worn by Akira, who idolizes Igara as something akin to a "muse" (as Haru puts it). Akira keeps an old tinted photograph of her on his office desk.

Okadome Senzo (岡留センゾウ): The fellow currently in charge of Akira's department at YTD. Apparently doesn't like Akira very much.

Yakumo Risa (八雲リサ): Wife of Haru and mother of two children. Recently obtained her "dream job", a full-time position as a pharmacologist. Wants her husband to quit smoking. Maiden name Etajima.

Nishikado Suomi (西門スオミ): One of Akira's grad students. Friends with Hanako.

Domyoji Hanako (道明寺ハナコ): One of Akira's grad students. Friends with Suomi.

Yamagiri "Sei-Sei" (山切"セイセイ"): Junior researcher in Akira's department. Works with Tanikoshi.

Yoshida; Ando; Iso; Kosaka; Yamashita; Kio: Akira and Haru's peers at the High Energy Physics group.

Tatsuta Chiyoe (龍田チヨエ): Highly professional woman working as an ISTAA recruiter for the United Nations' Commission for the Sciences. Approaches Akira after he presents at a YTD convention and offers him a job within ISTAA over dinner a week later.

Takanashi Taro (高梨タロウ): An old friend of Akira's currently living in San Francisco.

Shimomura (霜村): A young man of college age working at the Guren no Fukuryū.

Katori Yura (香取ユラ): Sayaka's older sister, a well-to-do accountant who owns her own firm. A socially liberal rebel despite her very traditional upbringing. Partnered with a man named Tatsuya. No children.

Etajima, Mr. & Mrs. (江田島夫妻): Risa's parents, who live down in Osaka.

Eri (エリ): A friend of Sayaka's whom she knows through work. A skilled gardener who helps Sayaka with the plantings in the yard.

Tatsuya (タツヤ): Yura's domestic partner and co-owner of their accounting firm. Described as quiet and hard to read, but a good match for Yura. Comes from a family background in construction and has some skill working with wood, stone, etc. Called "Takkun" by Sayaka.

Katori, Mr. & Mrs. (香取夫妻): Parents of Yura and Sayaka, still alive and well in Tamba. A very conservative couple who attempted to raise their daughters on traditional Japanese social values, and only partially succeeded with Sayaka. They apparently find Akira to be "a pathetic excuse for a man".

Kimiko (キミコ): Female Akita whom Akira discovered as a half-starved stray puppy and nursed back to health. Killed by a car when she was no older than two. Named for a childhood friend of Akira's.

Kei (ケイ): Misato's best friend, a fellow skateboard-riding tomboy. A well-meaning girl who seems burdened by a troubled home life. Already smokes, has apparently given up on extracurricular activities, and described by Shima-kun as "kind of a klepto". Likes Sanrio, Pokemon, and Fatal Fury.

Ryusaku (リュウサク): Kei's cousin, whose father was diagnosed with depression, and whom Kei claims is better at Daytona USA 2 than Misato.

Katsuo (カツオ叔父ちゃん): Kei's uncle and Ryusaku's father. A melancholic who missed considerable amounts of work and was eventually sent to a mental institution. After being diagnosed with depression there, he now takes medication and sees a psychiatrist and is apparently a changed man.

Kiyoko (キヨコ): Friend of Misato and Kei's, distinguished by her bleached-white hair. Keeps the boys Takashi and Masaru close, supposedly for three-on-three "snogging".

Takashi & Masaru (タカシとマサル): Friends of Misato and Kei's who associate more closely with Kiyoko. Have been inseparable for years, and rumored to be a bit closer than just friends.

Shima-kun (島君): Older friend of Kei's, around 16. Like Kei, comes from a troubled family background, with parents recently divorced. Considers himself a punk and lowlife, and plays the part by hitting on underage girls, but this might just be a cover for a vulnerable and perceptive personality. Spikes his hair, smokes, and has a huge forehead. "Shima" is his surname.


NOTES, DISCLAIMERS & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

SPOILER: Show
Notes & Disclaimers:
  • Crying Man is based on a story and characters copyright Khara/Gainax. All original content is copyright Rachel K. Clark.
  • IMPORTANT: I have privately discussed CM with many people between 2006 and now. If you think you know something about how the story will unfold, and this either (A) is not predetermined by the show (e.g.: the divorce; Akira's death) or (B) has not obviously been publicly posted somewhere (e.g., Akira is Adam's baby poppa), please keep it to yourself.
  • Content advisory: If you were fine with NGE, then CM should pose no problems. Depictions of sex won't always be off-camera, and my own translation convention allows for harsh language, but that's about it.
  • By necessity, most of the cast is comprised of original characters. You'll naturally see some familiar faces along the way, but I'll be approaching the matter of who to include somewhat conservatively. Hopefully the OCs will be interesting enough that CM will do just fine without backup from several of NGE's more popular characters.
  • Any deviations from canon you may encounter (and there will be quite a few) are almost certainly deliberate artistic/narrative choices on my part. Where the show has left things open to interpretation… well, if you have any familiarity with my posting history, you probably know what to expect here. Which is to say: Reichu's head canon will be distinctly her own, so make sure your body can take it.
  • While I'm attempting to get as many of the cultural, location, and period details correct as possible, my own cultural background has the anticipated effect of making most characterizations ... regrettably American. It's far too late to make significant chances, though, so just be warned to not expect, say, my take on the Katsuragi marriage to be a critique of Japanese cultural norms in quite the way Anno likely intended.
Props to...
  • Both honsou and Seele00TextOnly for beta reading and listening to my incessant ramblings.
  • Magami no ER for her vital role in Akira Katsuragi's original creation.
  • BobBQ for providing the template for Adrian Langley, inspiring the creation of a now-critical original character, and much more.
  • Sailor Star Dust and the other folks of both the post-3I RP thread and #egf-rpg for indulging my use of Akira (and Kyoko, for that matter).
  • Bagheera for inadvertently triggering me into getting off my ass and undertaking this project (that is, actually writing CM start to finish). Also inspired me to associate fixed dates with chapters.
  • Everyone who's been reading and commenting!
Last edited by Reichu on Tue Mar 08, 2016 3:56 am, edited 18 times in total.

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Postby Reichu » Fri Mar 27, 2015 11:49 pm

This is a prelude chapter, which is really just a cheap and transparent way to generate interest in light of the fact that the story will take a little while to really get going.

It occurs early in the year 2000, somewhere in Antarctica. I will probably nail down the specifics later on.

PRELUDE  SPOILER: Show
The elevator descends into the dark, icy abyss.

Within the makeshift and seemingly ramshackle structure stand five men: three quite tall, two quite short, and all of them wrapped in thick, fur-rimmed parkas. They are segregated by color, it seems. The one operating the lift -- the tallest in the group -- wears yellow, “ENGINEERING” printed on his back. Two in “ADMINISTRATION” wear red, and two in “SCIENCE” wear blue. They stand around in a silence of thick anticipation.

The tall man marked by “SCIENCE” seems to be tensest of them all. As if sensing this, his peer – a stout, balding East Asian man – turns to him and shatters the ambiance. “Oh, oh. Akira, I've got the perfect one for this.” His face becomes impish and his voice theatrical. “Down we descend into the Ninth Circle of Hell… to the frozen lake of Cocytus, where the Devil himself lays chained within his icy tomb!”

This Akira glances down at the other man through his shaggy forelocks, rolls his eyes, and shoves his hands deeper into his pockets. “Come on, Sakaru,” he says lightly. “You're spoiling the mood.”

“And you, Dr. Katsuragi, are absolutely no fun at all.”

“I'm especially no fun if you call me THAT,” Akira quips.

“You're only proving my point.”

Akira ignores him and hesitantly sneaks a glance at the administrators, who haven't said a word this entire time. Gendo Ikari, and that recent arrival from Germany, Kiel Lorenz. All along they've seemed to share some kind of deep and intimidating understanding between them. Neither of them seem to notice Akira's look, and he averts his eyes.

“That was The Divine Comedy, wasn't it, Dr. Tsubaki?” the engineer asks belatedly.

“Sure was,” Sakaru Tsubaki replies. “Though, I'll admit I never read the whole thing.”

“I had to for school. In the original Italian. Don't ask me to remember a word of it now, though.”

“Interesting! I wouldn't have pegged you for the literary type, Callaghan-san. What were you studying?”

“Well, that was the problem,” Callaghan replies, adjusting his safety glasses. “I couldn't decide, so I pissed away all my money, and here I am all these years later. ...Just never know, you know?”

“I surely do,” Tsubaki agrees.

Akira decides to intervene and prevent further tedious small-talk between them. “About how much further, you think?”

“It's quite the descent, Dr. Katsuragi,” Callaghan says, “and this lift isn't always cooperative, either. Would be nice if we could see anything, eh? Lighting with enough candelas to illuminate the entire chamber is prohibitively expensive, energy-wise, at least so long as the 'rotunda' is coated in ice like this.”

Akira nods. “Sakaru, what was your group's estimate for the size of the chamber? I seem to recall the value being rather impressive.”

Tsubaki shrugs broadly. “Get me drunk and I might remember.”

“Forget I asked,” Akira sighs.

Eventually, ground level appears, having come within range of the lights mounted on the elevator's front. Akira bites his lip and his hands roll into fists in his pockets. It won't be long now.

A couple of minutes later, the lift is brought to a gentle stop by Callaghan. He manually opens the door, then crouches to pick up the portable spotlight at his feet. “Please follow me, sirs.” The American turns the light on, illuminating a path for them. Once they have all emptied out, he adds, “Please stay within the markers. Beyond that, we can't be sure the ground is secure. If you need something to steady your step, there should be a collection of poles to the left of the lift.” The two older men, Tsubaki and Lorenz, retrieve poles for themselves without reserve, but the rest don't bother. Once that's done, Callaghan gestures. “Right this way. It'll take several minutes to walk to the site.”

The path is flat, and must have been quite slippery at one point, but has been well-trodden by the workers by now. Akira doesn't envy the dangerous conditions Callaghan's group have been taming so the rest of the team can come down safely, but it's hard not to be jealous that they're the ones who actually get to see everything first. But, strange as it feels, the wait is effectively over. An unbearable tightness forms in the pit of his stomach as the anticipation heightens yet further. Soon, Akira will finally be delivered unto what was promised him.

“We're on top of the lake bed right now, aren't we?” Tsubaki asks Callaghan. Then, smiling, he adds, “Our very own Cocytus.”

“Yes, sir. The footing has been easy so far, but the last stretch will be a bit more challenging... We'll be going down into the lake itself.”

And soon enough, they reach the top of a precipice – the boundary of the excavation zone. Giant spotlights scattered throughout the pit greet them and entice them further within. It is, still, difficult to make out much… aside from the towering spire extending from the center of the zone. Akira immediately knows what he sees, and he feels as though his heart skips a beat. His eyes trace the spire down, where he sees a massive organic form being carved free from the ice.

Callaghan points. “You can already see the Spear from here. We'll need to get a bit further to check out the real prize, though. The incline is fairly steep, men, so watch your footing. We didn't have a chance to recarve the steps before your arrival. Will anyone require assistance reaching lake bottom?” No answer. “Good, then. Let's go.”

The excavation equipment, initially appearing to be on an insect's scale, dwarfs them rapidly. And the object half-buried in the ice dwarfs them fastest of all. Akira cannot believe what he's beholding, even though he knew exactly what to expect from the geology team's scans. “It's here, Sakaru,” he breathes to his friend. "It's really here."

“Yep," Tsubaki affirms, disarmingly casual. Pointing, "Head, neck, upper arms, shoulders… Everything's where we expected it." To the engineer, he says, “Your group is doing beautiful work, Callaghan-san. How long until you have the whole specimen out?”

“Hard to say. We're getting an influx of new workers soon, aren't we?” Callaghan turns to Ikari and Lorenz.

Ikari at last speaks. “Yes. No more than two weeks.”

"Great news," Tsubaki says. "According to the manifest, all of the departments will be getting extensive reinforcements, right? It'll be one hell of a party. Sure you're ready for it, Aki-" He looks to where his companion had been, but the man is gone. Under his breath, he mutters, "Of course the zealous bastard rushes on ahead..."

Akira finishes his reckless descent to the bottom of the pit, ice crumbling precariously underfoot. Heart pounding, he regains his footing and scrambles toward the towering form, left arm outstretched. And, finally, he is close enough to put a gloved hand directly upon ... it, confirming that it is reality and not some hallucination. He circles around the massive form, hand scraping against the remaining thin coat of ice, taking in its immensity. The dome of a giant cranium, resting on its right side.

He follows an icy incline up, taking him to what must be the exposed left side of the head. Now oblivious to all else, he sets foot directly upon it, and carefully proceeds. Across brain case, over the bulge of cheekbone, and up onto the brow, overlooking a bulging round mass. What he sees brings him into a state of utter spiritual arrest, and he compulsively reaches into his parka for the cross around his neck.

It's an eye. A massive, gaping, blood-red eye.

As Akira stares directly into the eye of providence, he then knows, at last, that God exists.

It's not quite as elegant and streamlined as I'd like, but... whatever. I have to keep telling myself that vomiting up all of the story in order from A to Z will be the hard part. If only I can do THAT, rewrites will be easy.

Next up will be some nonsense about Super Solenoid Theory and a couple of shameless cameos.
Last edited by Reichu on Sun Mar 29, 2015 1:12 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby NemZ » Sat Mar 28, 2015 4:23 am

I'm really enjoying the banter, though I guess we know now why Gendo and Keel were so quick to dismiss the scientists as fools in their private discussion later. :devil:
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Postby Reichu » Sat Mar 28, 2015 9:22 am

View Original PostNemZ wrote:I'm really enjoying the banter

You'll probably like Tsubaki's character, then. It's too early for me to comment on what Kiel and Gendo are thinking, though. All in good time...

Looks like the opening chapters weren't already typed as I'd hoped, so I have to go crawling through my stack of notebooks to find them. Bluh.

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Postby Literary Eagle » Sat Mar 28, 2015 10:15 am

I like the banter as well. This looks like an interesting subject for a fan fic, so I look forward to finding out where you'll go with it! I've seen some of your theories here and there on the forums, but there are probably some that I've missed, so I'm sure there will be some surprises for me. This will be fun! ^_^
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Postby Reichu » Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:00 am

I want to keep some amount of momentum going, so here's the next bit I've managed to cobble together, covering a presentation on Super Solenoid Theory and the subsequent inevitable mobbing. I'm not especially fond of this, but gotta start somewhere, I suppose. The next segments should be a lot more fun.

Chapter 1  SPOILER: Show
Aachen, Germany
July 1999

The dark, still presentation room is completely packed — not a seat left empty, not a bit of side or back wall left bare. A thousand eyes rest upon the man at the podium, Dr. Akira Katsuragi from Kyoto University.

Lecturing is nothing new to him, nothing to wrack the nerves. Over the years, he's lectured to peers and students, in his native Japanese and in nearly accent-free German. He's even had the benefit of having given this particular presentation two times previous. Delivering it has never been the problem. Being taken seriously — that always was.

He refuses to give them anything but his deepest confidences. He will not be broken. Akira projects a smile, and continues. “And it's taken seven years — seven long, grueling years — but this conundrum turned out to have a solution after all.” From his terminal, he changes the projected image, revealing a computer-generated model of a double helix in a ring configuration, not unlike a bacterial plasmid. With an inhumanly steady hand, he indicates it with the red dot of a laser pointer, and with whimsical excitement announces, “Ladies and gentlemen… the 'Super Solenoid'.”

Stifled murmurs ripple through those in attendance, as if on cue.

The tall, spare man seems to relish the reaction. Once it dies down, after a handful of seconds, he goes on. “It's perhaps deceptively simple — so much more than a toroidal double helix enclosed by a vacuum, when it comes down to it. But this is the key to unlocking the FIP equation… and to tapping the energy reservoirs of the Dirac Sea. This is the answer to the problem that has eluded physics for so long… This is the key to unlimited energy.”

Another wave of incredulous murmurs cascades forth from these unruly claims. Akira is entirely impervious, however; and he proceeds undeterred. The computer model launches into a simulation, perfectly timed to his vocal accompaniment. “The Super Solenoid, or S², forms the basis and bulk of a theoretical construct I've called the S² engine. A new breed of reactor.” A hypothetical rendition of the entire device, with all major components labeled, is displayed. “The S² itself works on the basis of supersymmetry, as you have probably deduced, and, of course, spiral super-strings, courtesy of Amagiri 1991.”

He proceeds at a hectic pace through many more screens of calculations and intricate-looking simulations — the product of so much hardship and toil, reduced to mere fleeting images. But even so, Akira can sense the audience grow increasingly edgy. Many shift in their places and fidget constantly as if bursting with questions. He knows that he's being provocative, and that much is deeply satisfying.

“The super solenoid satisfies what has long been sought by perpetual motion enthusiasts. But no First Law is being broken here! The energy does come from somewhere — a place where our own needs couldn't hope to make a dent, and so, from our perspective, it would be an essentially infinite supply.” While the words themselves sound dry as can be, he unfailingly delivers them with child-like, borderline manic enthusiasm. “However, the greatest challenge we face is pushing technology to the point where it can, in fact, interact with the higher dimensions wherein the Dirac Sea exists, and this is largely a matter of overcoming our own perceptual limitations...”

The physicist had been so embroiled in his dissertation that the coordinator's tap on his shoulder comes as a surprise. “I'm sorry, Dr. Katsuragi,” she says, “but you need to wrap it up. There won't be time for questions.”

He nods. “Ah… I'd better make this quick, then.” Quickly… How to conclude this in the couple minutes remaining? He skips through the remaining slides, all the way to the concluding statements. “Unfortunately, all that currently exists are the mathematical models, which I have perfected over the past decade, and some preliminary thoughts on the direction technology must go if we are to embrace an S² paradigm. The S² Theory stands ready to take energy research and the entire physics world where they have never gone before. There may yet be an end to the energy crisis. The future is right here before us, and we need only to follow the path it has laid.”

Akira proceeds to the final slide, which provides acknowledgments to his institution along with everyone without whom the S² theory could never have reached a publishable state. “Thank all of you for taking the time to listen. I'm afraid I won't be able to take any questions. However, most should be answered in my paper*, which is available at the publisher's* table. Enjoy the rest of the symposium.” As the lights come on for a brief preparatory interlude, Akira takes a shallow bow, gathers his things, and departs the podium.

* (I need to fabricate both the paper's title and the name of the journal it's in for the sake of verisimilitude, but this wasn't a priority tonight.)

***

The hallways of the hotel's convention floors begin to fill with people moving to change lecture rooms, go out for lunch, or other assorted business. Akira Katsuragi doesn't get very far from the site of his own lecture before he is engulfed by a crowd, the pathogen to their phagocyte. He immediately closes up his schedule and straightens up with a resigned look on his tall, thin face. Security will break up the crowd soon enough, but until then he's trapped.

“Dr. Katsuragi!” innumerable voices clamor, all taking the liberty of launching their questions in one great cacophonous tumult.

He puts a hand out and makes a gesture indicating he wishes to speak. “I can only take one question at a time.” Akira quickly scans the crowd and picks out someone as arbitrarily as he can. “You there! The young woman in the aqua shirt.”

“Dr. Katsuragi, what distinguishes your work from those of prior individuals claiming they have found the perfect energy source? How do we know you're just not another esteemed scientist turned crackpot?”

It is painful how much he hears variations upon this. But, at least, it means his answer is well-rehearsed. With a playful grin, he responds, “All covered at length in the paper. There is probably no substitute for seeing the gritty details of how I came to my conclusions all laid out. If it’s too pricey, there is always the library. I understand it's available electronically, as well.”

A new person jumps in. “Dr. Katsuragi, how many people do you think will actually have that sort of patience? I mean — there is quite a huge stigma on the type of proposals you are making.”

“And it’s unfortunate, too,” Akira says. “The classical notion of perpetual motion is flawed; we can’t expect to get something from nothing. What I am proposing is not actually perpetual motion, and never was. That this error continues to be made, and continues to require correction, is a waste of everyone's time, wouldn't you agree?” A couple of attempts are made to interrupt, but he waves them off and continues. “I studied the history of ‘perpetual motion’ and ‘free energy’ advocates in quite a level of depth, and those who care to look should find that the Super Solenoid Theory avoids all of their mistakes.”

“That's well and good,” another member of the mob says, “but what real utility does this have beyond your native field, Dr. Katsuragi? As theoretical physics, it's fascinating. As a proposal for applied physics, it leaves… much to be desired.”

“Mere theories aren't going to solve the world's problems. Real, material solutions do.”

“And?” responds Akira. “Where do real, material solutions begin? Much of the time… in theory.”

“People have every right to be skeptical,” another woman interjects. “Even if this reactor is as feasible as you say, it is also, by your own admission, completely beyond current technological capabilities!”

He smiles impishly, undeterred. “I have quite a bit of work ahead of me, don’t I?”

“What, you plan on personally advancing technology as required to achieve this solenoid of yours? Don’t be foolish!”

“It’s far too late for that,” he replies. “And, with that…” Akira sees security up the corridor dissolving the traffic and decides to make his move. “I won’t be responsible for clogging the hall any longer. Any further questions will require ‘incentive’. Feel free to make me an offer if you catch me at one of the local bars, eh?” He excuses himself as charmingly as possible, and despite multiple protests they've no choice but to let him go.

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Postby NemZ » Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:56 am

So not actually limitless... just exceptionally large potential draw over a hypothetically infinite time. Quite likely different angels have variable max drawing rates on that energy as well, which would be governed by differences in their exact S2 structures.

If you want to push the crackpot view, make the publication based in a developing country with an unfamiliar name so it's obvious he had to shop it around quite a while before someone was willing to spend ink on his work.
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Postby Reichu » Mon Mar 30, 2015 6:05 pm

View Original PostNemZ wrote:If you want to push the crackpot view, make the publication based in a developing country with an unfamiliar name so it's obvious he had to shop it around quite a while before someone was willing to spend ink on his work.

I'm certain he had to resort to an obscure journal due to all of the bigger ones having reputations to preserve, although Akira's own science-worshipping standards wouldn't permit him to submit to anyone with known lapses in the peer review process. After all, resorting to a designated crackpot journal from the start would be to outright concede, "My work isn't just controversial science, it's shit science."

Offhand it occurred to me that a physics publication in eastern Europe and/or former Soviet Union might achieve just the right balance of "could be legitimate" and "sounds dodgy...". Maybe someone a bit more attuned to turn-of-the-century geopolitics can provide a suggestion.

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Postby NemZ » Mon Mar 30, 2015 6:30 pm

There was a bit of a thing about the Chinese Science Bulletin recently for publishing a climate change denier's article amidst problems with not disclosing the author's biased corporate funding. Might do the job.
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Postby Reichu » Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:40 pm

I'll probably do some research eventually to establish some of these specifics.

A little something for tonight.
Chapter 2  SPOILER: Show
Akira hides in a low-traffic alcove, casually sitting against the wall, cross-referencing between the conference's booklet of abstracts and his heavily-highlighted copy of the schedule. The presentation he had most anticipated had been scheduled shortly after the conclusion of his own, on the opposite end of the hotel, and there was no way to reach it in time. Looking over the remaining highlights, there is little he cannot do without. Especially given the fact that his height and physical distinctiveness make it difficult to move around without being stopped by the wrong kind of people.

Just thinking back to the previous two conferences he presented at this summer fills him with an overbearing weariness. He replaces the materials into his handbag and decides to retreat to his room while the halls are still quiet. Overhearing some passers-by discuss their midday meal plans, Akira contemplates pursuing nourishment himself, then quickly dismisses the idea. He doesn't actually feel hungry, despite eating almost nothing for breakfast.

On the elevator ride up to the sixth floor of the west tower, he hunkers in one corner, hands pocketed, hoping the one other passenger doesn't pay him any mind. The young European male looks intently in Akira's direction, like he's trying to make out the other's nametag. But before he manages to conjure any irritating questions, the doors open to the fourth floor and the European departs — taking one last look at Akira as he does. A close call... There will be many more before this trip is over, he is certain.

Room 602. After a couple of minutes of fumbling with the key card, Akira gets the lock to yield, and he escapes into his tiny, three-day sanctuary. The darkness is immediately soothing. The shoes come off and he sets them along with his handbag neatly near the doorway. Stretching creaky joints and releasing a delicate yawn, he wanders into the bathroom to heed nature's call.

Afterward, he washes his hands, and then his face. Even here in Germany, the sinks are too low for him, but he makes do, bending his knees to avoid stooping. As he brings the drying cloth down, his eyes — solemn, and a deep, rich brown — meet their counterparts in the mirror's reflection, and ensnare them. Akira's countenance is all too familiar to him, as it's remained largely impervious to the ravages of time. This face… has been with him since teenage growth spurts molded it into its final long, angular shape, while leaving him with an overall delicate — some would say effeminate — grace. Were it not for the white hairs sneaking in amongst the purples, and a few faint lines etched about the eyes and mouth, he could easily be mistaken for someone at least ten years younger.

He runs long, bony fingers through his mop of dark purple hair. Trimmed days before he departed for Aachen, but, somehow, no less unruly than it had been before. Akira seems to prefer it that way, though. As if, without the scruffy bangs and haphazard cowlicks, he wouldn't look appropriately eccentric.

It occurs to him that, even if he doesn't look his age, the sense of fatigue extruding from his eyes more than makes up for this. Without another thought, he lets himself collapse onto the room's single bed, and immediately feels his whole body go limp. Eyes wide open, he stares up at the wallpaper-coated ceiling and soon finds himself adrift in hypnagogia, neither asleep nor awake. But even this would be the nearest thing to sleep he's experienced in days.

The hours go by.

The next installment should conclude the Germany prologue section... and also be a very guilty pleasure to write. That will probably be done tomorrow.

Seeing the view count increase in a way far disproportionate to the number of replies I'm getting, I wonder if that is mostly Google-bots, or if people actually are reading this and just not saying anything. Granted, maybe there isn't much to say during these boring, stage-setting sessions... Having kept this story in my head for so long, I hope I'm actually able to build this up in a way that will ultimately be satisfying for others to read.
Last edited by Reichu on Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby NemZ » Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:11 am

Geez, how tall is this bastard? Germans aren't a short people, practically giants compared to the average Japanese.
Rest In Peace ~ 1978 - 2017
"I'd consider myself a realist, alright? but in philosophical terms I'm what's called a pessimist. It means I'm bad at parties." - Rust Cohle
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Postby Reichu » Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:57 am

My official height for him is 189cm, or about 6'2". Strictly speaking, this isn't very realistic, but then again neither is having naturally purple hair.

The comment about low sinks was written years ago, so for all I can remember that might have been disguised venting on my part (I'm not short, after all), but if it seems out of place I'll just excise it when I complete the chapter.

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Postby pwhodges » Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:44 am

I like your writing style so far, and this prologue seems a good start to a story. Beyond that, I really don't have anything much to say - which I would suggest is a good thing.

I wouldn't myself bother with a paper title and journal, as I didn't feel the lack of them; but I can see how a suitable journal would add a little colour to the background.
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Postby Literary Eagle » Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:52 am

I'm enjoying this so far! While I love reading about the main characters, it's really fun to see someone fill in the backstory and flesh out one of the minor characters. I like how you bring Akira to life with little details that highlight how absorbed he is in his work (hardly eating and sleeping, for example). And the explanation for the Super Solenoid makes sense, given what ended up happening to those unfortunate Nerv employees in Nevada.

I'll admit that I even got a little giddy (Just a little, I swear! -o-; ) when you described Akira's physical appearance. Especially imagining his white hairs mixing with the purple ones... I was picturing little touches of lavender gray, almost like Kaworu's hair color. Was Akira putting his hands in his pockets also supposed to make us think of Kaworu, or was that just a coincidence? Ooh, and imagining his voice as a grownup version of Kaworu's voice, excitedly explaining about science... mmm. (Intelligence is attractive, okay? Too bad Akira is apparently lousy husband/father material. Sigh.)

Anyway, good stuff! Please continue!
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Postby Reichu » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:57 pm

pwhodges: Thanks for the comments. I'm in the worst position possible to know whether or not I'm starting the story on an adequate foot, so hearing how it's received helps relieve some anxiety. (Crying Man is incredibly personal, so there is going to be anxiety, whether I like it or not...)

Literary Eagle: Oh, it sounds like we might have another Akira fangirl in the making! I'm always happy to have company; you can imagine how lonely it gets.

You can see his "official" hair color in my old ANF avatar; it's kind of a dark, desaturate purple. The drawing itself leaves something to be desired, and after all this time I still can't really draw him to spec, despite having a very concrete idea of how he should look.

The hands-in-pockets thing is indeed inspired by Kaworu. It works out well enough, since Akira has plenty of reason to resort to such body language. As for Akira being "apparently lousy husband/father material"... No matter what, he will always be my hazubando. :crush:

****

The usual anxiety demands that I post the next chapter before it's completely finished. Hopefully as I gain confidence, this will happen less and less. [EDIT: If you are only coming through the thread now, skip ahead to here.]

Chapter 3A  SPOILER: Show
Same day
Evening


Countless tiny bubbles form a layer of white froth atop the pinkish alcoholic beverage. Sunken brown eyes gaze emptily down into the bowl-like glass, strangely absorbed. The transformations of matter — physical, chemical, or atomic — are all so transient. Even something as complicated as a multicellular eukaryotic life is, ultimately, no different from one bubble in the froth. Whatever circumstances caused matter to take that form, eventually they will end. The bubble will pop…

Akira raises the straw to his lips and takes a dainty sip. The saga of assimilation continues.

Afterward, he finds himself drawn into the reflections on the table's surface. Artificial lights, warped shapes beyond recognition. He has always found himself enchanted by such mundane details, the kinds of sensory information that most people filter out once they've reached a certain age. For a mind constantly seeking temporary escape from itself, all these little things — cracks in a wall, the patterns of wood grain, the movements of city birds, dust floating on his cornea — provide tiny little sanctuaries. Others call it “daydreaming” and “zoning out”, and maybe it is, but… labels render these things no less invaluable to him.

His left hand absentmindedly fidgets with something dangling from his neck, while the right cradles and massages his head.

Eventually, a couple of unfamiliar voices pop out from the low-level multilingual din of the bar. They're speaking English, for which his own fluency is mostly confined to reading and writing... but he understands enough to know that it concerns him. He simply listens, motionless as a prey animal trying to evade detection.

“Adrian, look!” A woman's voice. “Isn't that the Kyoto University professor we saw earlier? ...Dr. Kisaragi?”

A man. “Ah, yes, the solenoids guy. I think it was 'Katsuragi', actually.”

“Just testing you.”

“Yes, yes, of course you were.” Sardonic, but still playful. “I… uh… don't think you should get any ideas. I doubt the man's in any mood for further haranguing.”

“And what makes you think I intend to harangue him?”

“Because it would be suspicious if you weren't thinking that.”

“Oh, you. Always putting a negative spin on everything. I'm just going to say hi, that's all.”

As two sets of footsteps approach, Akira suddenly feels prompted to take another sip from his drink.

About a meter away from Akira's table, the woman bows, then announces her presence in perfect Japanese. “Good evening. I'm Kyoko Soryu-Zeppelin. Do I have the pleasure of meeting Dr. Katsuragi?”

He sets his drink down and apprehends her with weary, but not unfriendly, eyes. Responding in turn with Japanese, he says, “I'm the only Dr. Katsuragi that I'm aware of.” Ms. — or, rather, Dr., as a glance at her badge confirms — Soryu-Zeppelin looks quite young, and in all likelihood completed her doctorate recently. Mid-20s, at the most. Even in the dim lighting, it's clear she's of mixed ancestry. He supposes that the compound surname immediately answers all questions on that count. Japanese-German, and looks it. Akira notes that she's quite tall for a woman, at least 5 cm taller than her average height partner — a blessing from the Zeppelin genes, to be sure. Somewhere in the dark and unkempt parts of his consciousness, he concedes that Kyoko is amazingly attractive.

The man makes a little throat-clearing sound to get both their attentions. In German, he says “I'm afraid I don't know the mother tongue well enough to not look like a fool trying to speak it. We can all speak German well enough, yes?”

Practically in unison, Akira and Kyoko reply, “Yes, of course.” They share a weird glance for about a full second.

Kyoko's other half quickly intervenes. He extends a hand to Akira. “The name's Langley. Adrian Langley.” Akira reflexively offers his dominant hand, the left, which he quickly realizes won't work so well. Langley immediately takes stock of the situation and offers his left instead. An accommodating man, it would seem. Akira quickly notes the ring on Langley's fourth finger, all but confirming the obvious. The two men share a brief shake, firm and sincere.

Langley looks very Anglo-Saxon, and has rather refined, one might say 'well-bred', features, the most distinguished among them being his fiery red hair (neatly combed back, though hardly tamed) and piercing blue eyes. His personal grooming and attire are immaculate… in stark contrast to the devil-may-care attitude that Kyoko gives off. He can't be much older than her, but something about his manner… He's very dour and resigned, with the sense of someone who has left the spirit of youth far behind him.

“Pleasure to meet you, Adrian. Pleasure to meet you both.” The couple seem friendly, and half of the fun of these conventions has always been the people, so Akira gestures to the chairs opposite him. “Won't you two join me?” Kyoko accepts the offer instantly; Adrian, only after a moment's contemplation, as though still self-conscious about being a nuisance. “By the way,” Akira says, “please call me 'Akira'.”

“Oh?” says Kyoko.

“Well, then, if we’re all going to be on a first-name basis,” Langley says, “you may as well call me ‘Adrian’.” He indicates Kyoko. “She's just like you, always telling people to call her 'Kyoko'. Are you two in cahoots, with this whole 'usurping the backbone of Japanese society' thing? I thought formality was everything over there.”

“Ugh,” Kyoko spits. “Japan… Adrian knows I won't go there any more than I humanly have to. Terrible place to be a woman.”

Akira nods. “It's slowly getting better, but… I agree.” A sense of deep melancholy momentarily appears in his eyes. “It's not a great place to be either sex, really.” Before anyone can respond to that, he adds, “I spent part of my formative years right here in Germany. I guess it was enough to make a significant impact.”

“Ohhhhh,” Kyoko says. “I was wondering how you spoke German so well. That definitely explains it. You have one rare talent among Nihonjin. Cherish it well.”

Akira's face flushes ever so slightly. “Oh, I certainly do. I wish I had more occasion to use it. Beautiful language. So much more… textured than Japanese. But, really, my only opportunities are at conferences like this. Back in college I would do impersonations, like of Hitler or Freud, but… you know. Eventually that sort of thing just becomes stupid instead of fun.”

Langley offers a sympathetic nod. “I understand, completely.”

Kyoko… not so much. “Now I kind of want to see you do the 'just a cigar' thing.”

“Luckily for me,” Akira grins, “Freud never actually said that.”

“Seriously? Huh.”

Langley abruptly claps his hands together and stands up. “Right! I knew we'd come to this bar for a reason! After all the nonsense we had to sit through tonight, I really need to get mildly intoxicated. You'll have the usual, right, Kyoko?” She nods. “You want anything, Akira, or are you okay with--” He struggles to identify the pink stuff in the bowl-glass.

“Berliner Weisse. I'm fine, thank you.”

“All right. I'll be right back. Don't cause too much mischief, Kyoko. I know how you are.”

Next time will pick up immediately from that. This has been a bit more laborious than I anticipated, since I've been stitching together around four different versions of the scene (all incomplete) and adding new material as needed, and I might not finish today after all.

Perhaps someone a bit more knowledgeable about alcoholic beverages than myself could suggest choices for our two shameless cameos? (Something hard, bitter, and not too foreign for Langley; something wild and mildly girly for Kyo.) I'll probably give Ornette a poke in the IRC, but alternate suggestions are welcome.
Last edited by Reichu on Mon May 04, 2015 10:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby pwhodges » Tue Mar 31, 2015 5:13 pm

You have my continuing interest assured.

I don't know if you want comments on language details (in the way Bags and I have taken on board when writing), so:
SPOILER: Show
He has always found himself taken in by such mundane details,
I misunderstood "taken in" as "deceived" on first read. You used "drawn in" already, so maybe consider something like "caught" or "entranced" instead?
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Postby Literary Eagle » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:15 pm

Reichu wrote:Oh, it sounds like we might have another Akira fangirl in the making!


Heh, yes indeed! I like his hair color in your old ANF avatar. Are there any other drawings of him that exist? If there are, I'd love to see them!

As for Chapter 3A... Oh my, so Kyoko and Langley are here as well? This could be fun. :D
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Postby Reichu » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:11 am

View Original Postpwhodges wrote:You have my continuing interest assured.

Interesting... I wonder if my guess about what has prompted your continuing interest is correct.

I don't know if you want comments on language details

Oh, I quite appreciate them. Thank you.

View Original PostLiterary Eagle wrote:Are there any other drawings of him that exist? If there are, I'd love to see them!

There are some, which I can probably dig up eventually.

Okay, here is the whole thing now.

Chapter 3  SPOILER: Show
Same day
Evening


Countless tiny bubbles form a layer of white froth atop the pinkish alcoholic beverage. Sunken brown eyes gaze emptily down into the bowl-like glass, strangely absorbed. The transformations of matter — physical, chemical, or atomic — are all so transient. Even something as complicated as a multicellular eukaryotic organism is, ultimately, no different from one bubble in the froth. Whatever circumstances caused matter to take that form, eventually they will come to an end. The bubble will pop…

Akira raises the straw to his lips and takes a dainty sip. The saga of assimilation continues.

Afterward, he finds himself drawn into the reflections on the table's surface. Artificial lights, warped shapes beyond recognition. He has always found himself entranced by such mundane details, the kinds of sensory information that most people filter out once they've reached a certain age. For a mind constantly seeking temporary escape from itself, all these little things — cracks in a wall, the patterns of wood grain, the movements of city birds, dust floating on his cornea — provide tiny mental sanctuaries. Others call it “daydreaming” and “zoning out”, and maybe it is, but… labels render these things no less invaluable to him.

His left hand absentmindedly fidgets with something dangling from his neck, while the right cradles and massages his head.

Eventually, a couple of unfamiliar voices pop out from the low-level multilingual din of the bar. They're speaking English, for which his own fluency is mostly confined to reading and writing... but he understands enough to know that it concerns him. He simply listens, motionless as a prey animal trying to evade detection.

“Adrian, look!” A woman's voice. “Isn't that the Kyoto University professor we saw earlier? ...Dr. Kisaragi?”

A man. “Ah, yes, the solenoids guy. I think it was 'Katsuragi', actually.”

“Just testing you.”

“Yes, yes, of course you were.” Sardonic, but still playful. “I… uh… don't think you should get any ideas. I doubt the man's in any mood for further haranguing.”

“And what makes you think I intend to harangue him?”

“Because it would be suspicious if your intentions were anything but.”

“Oh, you. Always putting a negative spin on everything. I'm just going to say hi, that's all.”

As two sets of footsteps approach, Akira suddenly feels prompted to take another sip from his drink.

About a meter away from Akira's table, the woman bows, her nearly shoulder-length ash-brown hair draping the sides of her face. In perfect Japanese, she announces, “Good evening. I'm Kyoko Soryu-Zeppelin. Do I have the pleasure of meeting Dr. Katsuragi?” She slowly straightens, hair bobbing.

He sets his drink down and apprehends her with a weary, but not unfriendly, look. Ms. — or, rather, Dr., as a glance at her badge confirms — Soryu-Zeppelin appears quite young, mid-twenties at the most, and in all likelihood completed her doctorate recently. Her eyes are a vibrant, intelligent hazel; her proportions modest and attractive; and she's dressed well, with a very distinctive sense of style. Responding with Japanese in turn, he says, “I'm the only Dr. Katsuragi that I'm aware of.” Even in the dim lighting, it's clear she's of mixed ancestry. He supposes that the compound surname immediately answers all questions on that count. Japanese-German, and looks it. Akira notes that she's quite tall for a woman, at least 5 cm taller than her average height partner — a blessing from the Zeppelin genes, to be sure.

The man makes a little throat-clearing sound to get both their attentions. In German, he says “I'm afraid I don't know the mother tongue well enough to not look like a fool trying to speak it. We can all speak German well enough, yes?”

Practically in unison, Akira and Kyoko reply, “Yes, of course.” They share a weird glance for about a full second.

Kyoko's other half quickly intervenes. He extends a hand to Akira. “The name's Langley. Adrian Langley.” Akira reflexively offers his dominant hand, the left, which he quickly realizes won't work so well. Langley immediately takes stock of the situation and offers his left instead. An accommodating man, it would seem. Akira quickly notes the ring on Langley's fourth finger, all but confirming the obvious. The two men share a brief shake, firm and sincere.

Langley looks very Anglo-Saxon, and has rather refined, one might say 'well-bred', features, the most distinguished among them being his fiery red hair (neatly combed back, though hardly tamed) and piercing blue eyes. His personal grooming and attire are immaculate, in stark contrast to the devil-may-care attitude that Kyoko gives off. He can't be much older than her, but something about his manner… He's very dour and resigned, with the sense of someone who has left the spirit of youth far behind him.

“Pleasure to meet you, Adrian. Pleasure to meet you both.” The couple seem friendly, and half of the fun of these conventions has always been the people, so Akira gestures to the chairs opposite him. “Won't you two join me?” Kyoko accepts the offer instantly; Adrian, only after a moment's contemplation, as though still self-conscious about being a nuisance. “By the way,” Akira says, “please call me 'Akira'.”

“Oh?” says Kyoko.

“Well, then, if we’re all going to be on a first-name basis,” Langley says, “you may as well call me ‘Adrian’.” He indicates Kyoko. “She's just like you, always telling people to call her 'Kyoko'. Are you two in cahoots, with this whole 'usurping the backbone of Japanese society' thing? I thought formality was everything over there.”

“Ugh,” Kyoko spits. “Japan… Adrian knows I won't go there any more than I humanly have to. Terrible place to be a woman.”

Akira nods. “It's slowly getting better, but… I agree.” A sense of deep melancholy momentarily appears in his eyes. “It's not a great place to be either sex, really.” Before anyone can respond to that, he adds, “I spent part of my formative years right here in Germany. I guess it was enough to make a significant impact.”

“Ohhhhh,” Kyoko says. “I was wondering how you spoke German so well. That definitely explains it. You have one rare talent among Nihonjin. Cherish it well.”

Akira's face flushes ever so slightly. “Oh, I certainly do. I wish I had more occasion to use it. Beautiful language. So much more… textured than Japanese. But, really, my only opportunities are at conferences like this. Back in college I would do impersonations, like of Hitler or Freud, but… you know. Eventually that sort of thing just becomes stupid instead of fun.”

Langley offers a sympathetic nod. “I understand, completely.”

Kyoko… not so much. “Now I kind of want to see you do the 'just a cigar' thing.”

“Luckily for me,” Akira grins, “Freud never actually said that.”

“Seriously? Huh.”

Langley abruptly claps his hands together and stands up. “Right! I knew we'd come to this bar for a reason! After all the nonsense we had to sit through tonight, I really need to get mildly intoxicated. You'll have the usual, right, Kyoko?” She nods. “You want anything, Akira, or are you okay with--” He struggles to identify the pink stuff in the bowl-glass.

“Berliner Weisse. I'm fine, thank you.”

“All right. I'll be right back. Don't cause too much mischief, Kyoko. I know how you are.”

Akira watches Langley amble over to the counter and initiate the barkeep in conversation. He turns back to Kyoko. “What kind of mischief might that be?”

Kyoko's chin rests upon bridged fingers, and her hazel eyes bore into him with all-too-transparent meaning. “You’re much better-looking up close, Doctor.” A sly smile. “But I’m sure you get that all the time.”

Akira would be uncomfortable, if this weren't so typical that he'd learned long, long ago to shrug it off as one of life's cruel running gags. Mostly, he feels bad for Adrian. He takes another sip from his drink, and casually replies, “You have no idea.”

“So how do you do it, Akira? Stay so beautiful at your age. You must be in your… what, early forties?”

“You have a good eye,” he says. “I'll be forty-one later this year. And to answer the first question: inadvertently.”

That gets a laugh out of Kyoko. Her eyes continue to creep over him a short time more, then they suddenly stop, distracted, below his face. “You're Christian?”

At first he's confused, but his own eyes quickly dart down at his chest, where his pendant hangs: a Greek cross made of white metal alloy, with a chain attached to either side of the upper stipes. He's worn it so long that it's come to feel an intrinsic part of him, and he takes its presence for granted. “Ah, this?” He shakes his head. “No, I'm not Christian.”

“Oh?” Kyoko probes. Only now does he notice that Kyoko wears a little metal crucifix around her own neck — a common fixture on Westerners, it seems.

“This...” Akira nervously rubs the cross between thumb and index fingers. “I suppose you could call it a family heirloom.” His tone of voice is distant, and his evasive body language all but says, 'I don't want to talk about this'.

“I see,” she says, apparently getting the hint. A glass is then set in front of her, and she looks up at Langley, who sits down next to her with his own. “Thank you, dear.”

Langley nods in affirmation, then turns to Akira. “So, did my wife behave herself? Be honest.”

Somehow, Langley's casualness about the whole thing brings a smile to Akira's face. “I deal with far worse on a regular basis. Part of my job is interacting with college students, after all.”

Kyoko puts her hands up as if pleading not guilty. “Am I not allowed to admire the beauty of the natural world? Is a beautiful human any less worthy of awe than an exquisite sunset, or a most delightfully intricate protein?”

Langley sighs. “When I start seeing you make eyes at protein conformations, I'll believe that's all it is.”

You can ogle Dr. Katsuragi, dear. I don't mind.”

While their banter is entertaining in its way, Akira decides that it's become a bit too revealing for his tastes. “...So! What's brought you two to DTNI '99?”

“I'm not here to present, sadly,” Kyoko says. “Sons of bitches turned me down!”

Akira shrinks slightly at her profanity, then elaborates. “Well, what I mean is… What do you two do?”

“Ah! In that event,” she replies, “one could crudely describe me as a genetic engineer.”

“I'm just a humble prosthetician,” Langley says.

Akira smiles. “Interesting combination.”

“They actually go together, in a way,” Kyoko says. “Both fields seek to augment the natural living form.”

“She makes mutants. I make cyborgs.” Langley takes a big swig of his drink, then drolly adds, “Perhaps, one day, we can unite our powers and create mutant cyborgs.” Kyoko chuckles at that.

“Is that what you two are after?” Akira asks. “Improving upon nature?”

Langley eyes Kyoko as if he knows what's coming.

“There are plenty of flaws to fix. And what's going to do it now that humans aren't even evolving anymore? Natural selection doesn't affect us one iota these days.”

“I'm not completely sure that's—”Akira begins, but sees Langley start to shake his head at him, communicating a sense of futility. Akira quickly changes course in response. “Well… uh, this is probably true…”

Kyoko, having been effectively activated, continues on her spiel. “I'm not actually interested in eugenics or anything like that. Giving your kid the 'perfect' genes? There's no such thing, so why bother? And even if it were, it's boring. Old hat.” She takes a nice, long drink. “I don't just want to shuffle around what's already there. I want to make new things. So, to that end...” Another drink. “…I've been custom-designing new and better proteins. From there, it's a simple matter of reverse-engineering the CDS and inserting it into a genome.”

Akira, both impressed and perplexed, raises an eyebrow. “Have you... been having much success?”

Langley clicks his tongue. “It has a tendency to weird people out. Kyoko's first 'success' is something that's carried in the blood and makes it look dark purple or indigo when it's fully oxygenated.”

“Ssshh, Adrian! It hasn't been published yet!” Her tone shifts from admonishing to mischievous. “You must admit, though. The rats are rather impressive.”

“Well, yes. I'm sure any one of them could kill a small dog,” Langley quips dryly. “Truly the stuff of B movie horror. Dr. Zeppelin & the Blue-blooded Rats of Terror.”

“I would pay good money to see that,” Kyoko counters.

Akira wonders if talking to these people was a good idea after all.

Langley glances back at Akira. “Kyoko here is quite the eccentric researcher. But brilliant. I give her a hard time, but if she focuses her mind, she can do anything, really.”

“And now you're going to tell me that I need you to keep me in line and realize my full potential.” She kisses him on the cheek.

“Eccentric, eh?” Akira says. “I don't suppose you two have an easier time with funding than I do?”

Langley scratches his chin. “I was lucky enough to get into a commercial research group right out of school, so this isn't a problem I have much experience with.”

“I've been fairly blessed so far, myself,” Kyoko adds, “but I don't expect my current situation to last. I've been shopping around quite a bit and found a number of opportunities that could be promising. Not all of them are specifically for the biosciences, either. Who knows, Akira — some of them might be useful to you. I'd be happy to e-mail you what I know.”

Akira's face beams a little. “I probably have some leads that would be useful to you, for that matter. A swap sounds delightful.” He retrieves his handbag — a leather construction that looks quite old and weathered, but is holding up nonetheless — from under the table, unclasps it, and retrieves a copy of his card from a little pocket within to present to Kyoko. In exchange, she gives him her own, gracefully embossed with her personal information.

Langley digs into his inner jacket pocket. “That's not a bad idea.” He offers his own business card. Akira starts to fetch another copy to give Langley, but he dismisses the gesture. “No need. I can just get your info off Kyoko.” Akira nods and accepts the token of camaraderie. Langley continues, “You seem like a kindred spirit, Akira. We'd love to see more of you. Let us know if you're ever in Germany again, eh?”

“Ah, you two live here?” Akira asks. “Very nice.”

Langley shrugs. “It's decent enough. I'd rather be back in the Northeast, but… gotta follow life where it takes you.”

“He's American, if you haven't noticed,” Kyoko interjects. “Of course no country can hope to hold a torch to his own.”

“Oh, ease off, Kyo,” Langley says with a roll of the eyes. “You knew what you were getting yourself into when you married a Yankee.”

“I know.” She kisses him again.

Akira starts to feel a tad awkward again and tries to get the conversation back on track. “Well, anyway. Next time I'm in the Fatherland, I'll take you up on your offer. If you two ever find yourselves in Japan, don't be afraid to give me a call, either.”

“Trying to give me an excuse to pay my grandmother a visit, are you?” Kyoko winks at him. “I'll be sure to take you up on that.”

Akira finally notices that both of them have finished their drinks, while he's still not more than halfway through his. He gets the definite sense that the encounter is winding down, and decides to help it along. “Early morning for you two?”

“Actually, it is,” Langley affirms, standing up. “So we'd probably best be going. Meeting you was quite a pleasant surprise, I must say.”

“See?” Kyoko says. “My ideas aren't all terrible.” She tips her head to Akira and smiles at him. “Best of luck with everything. Don't let the doubters drag you down too much.”

Langley nods. “We like to romanticize the sciences, but what are scientists but people? They aren't impervious to the pressure to conform, or the resistance to radical change. Taking the wrong side too soon can blemish one's reputation. Trail-blazers like you and Kyoko will never have it easy.”

“I know…” Akira looks down forlornly. “I know all about the way it is.”

“Keep your chin up,” Kyoko says. “If your ideas have merit, people will catch on sooner or later.”

“Hopefully sooner rather than later,” Akira says. “Hope for the best… Expect the worst.”

“With any luck, we'll be able to help each other out,” Kyoko says. “Expect an e-mail from me no later than Monday.”

Akira nods with resolve. “For mine, Tuesday.”

“Excellent,” Kyoko responds, grinning.

“Best of luck with everything,” Langley says, issuing a little wave. Kyoko provides one of her own, along with a final piercing look.

Akira doesn't return her look, but he does wave back. “And best of luck to you two, as well.”

“Give that drink the love it deserves, now!” Langley calls as he and Kyoko walk off.

Akira watches them until they're out of sight. He isn't quite sure what he should think about what just happened. Maybe it's not important that he immediately know.

He stows their cards away safely, and sets about finishing his drink.


Part "A" has been reworked somewhat. There is some description for Kyoko that I forgot to include first time around. I also removed the part about "the dark and unkempt parts of [Akira's] consciousness" (where he's more or less thinking, "would bone Kyoko Zeppelin-Soryu"), and I'm not sure if I should have. Oh well. [s]Part "B" will almost invariably be hit a few times with the rewrites whip once I've recovered, as it suffers a bit from "ocean of dialogue" syndrome at the moment and I'm sure there are lots of small stupid errors as well. [/s]

4/10/15 Edit: Various changes made to latter part of the dialogue, as explained here.

This concludes the 'prologue' section. Next up: a first look at conditions in the Katsuragi household.

Acknowledgements:

The base characterization for Adrian Langley, along with the name and his profession, comes from BobBQ's The Tenant of Room 404. While I can't recall how much of "my" Adrian's personality overlaps with BobBQ's, he's very much responsible for introducing me to the concept of an actually sympathetic and nuanced Langley -- one which turned out to be way more fun to write than 'some asshole who cheats on his crazy wife because he's an asshole'. I never actually read all of TR404, but BobBQ and I corresponded a fair amount about things and stuff regarding our respective creative projects, and his input had, in some cases, significant impact on the form that Crying Man took. I'll mention whatever I can remember at the appropriate times.
Last edited by Reichu on Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.

NemZ
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Postby NemZ » Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:31 am

The idea that unfaithfulness was a mutual issue in Asuka's family is an interesting one. Goes a long way to balance the scales.

So was that just a joke or is Langley bi? :devil:
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Reichu
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Postby Reichu » Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:27 am

View Original PostNemZ wrote:So was that just a joke or is Langley bi? :devil:

I suppose Kyoko might be suggesting that she would find it hawt if Langley were bi. :devil:

Made some changes, as I anticipated, concentrated toward the end, and also created occasion to make Kyoko say, "I would pay good money to see that". I'm a bit curious how a scene comprised almost entirely of three people sitting down talking over drinks plays out so early in the story.

On an aside, I'm slightly surprised by the end result: Kyoko ended up being more playful and Langley more funny than I'd initially anticipated.

If you're trying to read Ch.3 on April 1st, the main thing you need to know is that "Chuckmen" is just a word-filtered "peo.ple".


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