[Fic] The Tenant of Room 404

Everything Evangelion Fanfiction related.

Moderator: Board Staff

majlund
Sandalphon
Sandalphon
User avatar
Posts: 523
Joined: Nov 06, 2007
Location: EU/DK/CPH

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby majlund » Mon Jun 02, 2008 12:35 pm

This update simply blew me away. I'll have to change my Awesomeness'O'Meter to use a logarithmic scale because of you.
Si vis Pacem para Bellum

Sailor Star Dust
Kept you waiting, huh?
Kept you waiting, huh?
User avatar
Age: 34
Posts: 22917
Joined: Aug 13, 2006
Location: Living in Houston, TX
Gender: Female
Contact:

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Sailor Star Dust » Mon Jun 02, 2008 7:49 pm

Awesome update. I'm glad you worked those 2 Angels in there.

Amusing what you did to Sloth (poor guy) and mai kawaii waifu is gone! :crybaby:

Glad Rei-chan is back. Intense chapter, but a damn good one. I felt sad at the final lines of this chapter myself, and I'm still hoping you'll make at least a somewhat happy ending from all this.
~Take care of yourself, I need you~

BobBQ
Dyskolos
Dyskolos
User avatar
Posts: 4475
Joined: Jul 21, 2006
Location: Mother Base, Mitakihara Waters
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby BobBQ » Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:47 am

UrsusArctos wrote:This is one LONG update.

Indeed. Never had to split it between two posts before.

slothen wrote:Did Joyeuse and fem-smith return at the same time, or did she come back later to find/help him?

Keiko would have arrived a few hours after Joyeuse. If she'd known what he was doing, she'd have tried to stop him before he ever arrived.

I'm a bit confused as to how Keiko met Azanael, I'm also a bit curious as to how you envision an Arume invasion of the current shell, would it be from the world that the Narwhal came from? or would it be more like the Arume's first contact with humanity?

Iz dat sum sequel theory?

Also, I'm curious to see if Joel Marlin shows up later, neither the awesome huge combat knife or the m60 have shown up, but he isn't dead yet either.

If at first you don't appear, wait a chapter or two.

Chowwow wrote:So I presume the end is near? That was what was said a few moons ago.

It was and it is. I estimate the story has another two or three chapters left in it, not including whatever bonus materials I append afterwards. Long chapters are long, unless I break them down.

Reichu
Death True True
Death True True
User avatar
Posts: 23759
Joined: Aug 21, 2004
Location: Starship Eva
Gender: Female
Contact:

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Reichu » Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:15 am

BobBQ wrote:I estimate the story has another two or three chapters left in it

I wait all this time for f-K, and the damn thing only has that much more mileage? Kya!

Assuming Shat (har har) and Tur actually do stuff, maybe you can make them cooler than they are in the Proposal.

Does this mean I have to catch up now? Goddammit. Guess it gives me something to do while I put my computer through a backup-a-thon.
What if... Kaworu bonded with Misato instead of Shinji, and the two of them were siblings?
Father Brother Lover Mother (AO3, FF.net)
The path to an alternate Third Impact has reached stage 19 (5/22)!

slothen
First Ancestral Sloth
First Ancestral Sloth
User avatar
Age: 33
Posts: 2558
Joined: Sep 12, 2006
Location: Indianapolis
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby slothen » Wed Jun 04, 2008 4:55 pm

The idea of Keiko and Joyeuse knowing Azanael and I guess some other of the original Blue Drop (anime) characters makes for some complicated event chains.

Also, if you only met Tiller once, at an anime convention, how did you get such intimate knowledge of his weapon and his target shooting experience?
God, Apparently you all have been discussing Q since November. Catching up on the discussion is harrowing.

MAL Profile

BobBQ
Dyskolos
Dyskolos
User avatar
Posts: 4475
Joined: Jul 21, 2006
Location: Mother Base, Mitakihara Waters
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby BobBQ » Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:06 pm

Reichu wrote:Assuming Shat (har har) and Tur actually do stuff, maybe you can make them cooler than they are in the Proposal.

Goes without saying.

slothen wrote:The idea of Keiko and Joyeuse knowing Azanael and I guess some other of the original Blue Drop (anime) characters makes for some complicated event chains.

Not as complicated as some of the stuff I've already written, I wager.

Also, if you only met Tiller once, at an anime convention, how did you get such intimate knowledge of his weapon and his target shooting experience?

As a long-time practical shooter with mad skillz, Tiller would have had a well-established reputation.

Update in the works, watch this space.

slothen
First Ancestral Sloth
First Ancestral Sloth
User avatar
Age: 33
Posts: 2558
Joined: Sep 12, 2006
Location: Indianapolis
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby slothen » Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:35 pm

BobBQ wrote:mad skillz,


Holy shit.
God, Apparently you all have been discussing Q since November. Catching up on the discussion is harrowing.

MAL Profile

Chowwow
Ireul
Ireul
User avatar
Age: 33
Posts: 683
Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Location: Michigan, U.S.A
Gender: Male
Contact:

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Chowwow » Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:20 pm

Hmm, I understand that there are people out there with fast-shooting skills, I just wonder if having such a skill with semiautomatic pistols is really practical in a combat situation. It takes a lot of skill to train for fast-shooting, but is it enough to handle a target that can move away and shoot back?

Apparently so, in Tiller's case at least.

slothen
First Ancestral Sloth
First Ancestral Sloth
User avatar
Age: 33
Posts: 2558
Joined: Sep 12, 2006
Location: Indianapolis
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby slothen » Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:13 am

consider that this isn't a video-game situation, where the targets are strafing back and forth. In Tiller's attack, he came in aggressively against multiple targets that were probably stationary, or, once the firing started, stationary behind cover, so at that point its just move and shoot like in the video. Besides, if you shoot fast enough and accurately enough, thats better than body armor or cover.
God, Apparently you all have been discussing Q since November. Catching up on the discussion is harrowing.

MAL Profile

UrsusArctos
The Beginning and the End
The Beginning and the End
User avatar
Age: 32
Posts: 8669
Joined: Jun 28, 2007
Location: Visiting forum at random

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby UrsusArctos » Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:12 am

Tiller could have blitzed them if they were all moving slowly(or were stationary), separated from each other, at close range and taken by surprise- and all categories fit in this situation. If they had proper body armor, things would have been different.

And things would have been very different had they been prepared, ready and trained. There are a lot of guys who are extremely fast and accurate with assault rifles as well, and an organized team would have taken Tiller (or an even better IPSC shooter) down.
[Became a moderator on December 31st, 2007. Became an administrator on September 7th, 2013.]
Not knowing that Monk is bi is like not knowing the Pope is Catholic - ZapX
You're either really bad at interpreting jokes or really good at pretending you are and I have no idea which.-Monk Ed
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

BobBQ
Dyskolos
Dyskolos
User avatar
Posts: 4475
Joined: Jul 21, 2006
Location: Mother Base, Mitakihara Waters
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby BobBQ » Sat Jun 14, 2008 11:27 pm

I'm back.

Part 59: The Revolution Will Not Be Bowdlerized | HOMECOMING

“Do me a favor,” Keiko said as we lifted off. “There's a carbine behind each of our seats. Check 'em, would you?”

I felt around and found a familiar shape nestled in a bracket on the inside wall of the airframe. “Got it... Looks like a GAU-Five-A/A.”

“Only you would remember a designation like that. How can you tell it's Air Force material?”

“It's got no forward assist.” I turned the compact assault rifle over and pulled out the twenty-round magazine. “Unlike the Army's XM-One-Seventy-Seven and the later Colt Commando models... Funny, though: I didn't think there would be many of these still in circulation.”

“You can play Sureshot Holmes later. Does it look like it works?”

I pushed out the rear takedown pin and flipped open the upper half of the receiver. “Looks okay... Picked up some wear, but it's clean.” I put the GAU back together and returned it to its bracket. “Pass me the other one.”

“Just a sec... There.”

“Thanks. Rei, you doing okay back there?”

“Yes.”

“Targets sighted,” Keiko announced as I finished my inspection of the second rifle. “They're swinging along the coast... Lemme try the radio again.” She fiddled with something on the instrument panel and shook her head. “Nada. Totally squelched... The flying Leyden jar out there must be jamming it.”

An apt comparison. Now that the panic of losing Kirov was finally receding for the moment, the scant details I knew of these Angels were coming back to the top of the processing stack. They originated in Evangelion's initial proposal documents, part of a scenario strikingly different from the one I had built my early plans on. I really shouldn't have been surprised by their existence here, not after encountering the Land Cruisers, but there was something unsettling about it regardless. I didn't have a whole lot to work from: Shateiel, the cylindrically crystalline member of the pair, was a being supposedly made of solidified light and capable of absorbing, storing and discharging electromagnetic energy. How appropriate that our attempts to warn Nerv were being thwarted by the Angel of Silence. The other, Turel, was the flying bomb: a towering white thing that looked to be one part fifties retro, one part nautilus and one part Statue of Liberty. That its name meant 'Rock of God' might not have been entirely unfitting if one considered that the next best way to wipe out all of Tokyo-3 in one go was probably to hit the city with an asteroid.

“Dammit,” our pilot muttered, distracting me from my reminiscing. “If they stay on this course, they'll go right past New Yokosuka. The Seventh Fleet will light 'em up sure as anything, and then...”

“The fleet's going to get the stuffing beaten out of themselves.”

“Yeah.”

I kept my eyes on the distant arcs sporadically flashing around Shateiel. “Can we go any faster?”

“Not easily. The max airspeed for this rig is something like two hundred KPH and we're doing about that much already... Good news is, we're not short on gas.” She consulted her instruments. “Seems the best course is to cut past 'em on the landward side and skim low over the mountains.”

“Okay.” Fire bloomed over water to the southwest. “The Navy's sending their regards... Looks like they've got something big in the area.”

“The Wisconsin. I heard the mercs talking about it when I went in to jack the chopper.” Shateiel's AT Field flared, lurid orange against boiling gold. “Wasting their ammo, looks like. Sixteen-inchers ain't enough, even when they come in packs of nine.”

“They can use every round they've got if that's what it takes to slow those two down.” I frowned as a wave of what looked like cruise missiles closed the gap and impacted, equally ineffective. “Got some binoculars I could borrow?”

“You're not gonna stick your head out the window and spectate as we go, are you?”

“Well...”

“Forget it. Not worth the extra fuel we'd burn.”

“If you say so... Uh oh—bug zapper's moving off.”

“I see it,” Keiko grunted. “Going right for Wisky.” She gritted her teeth. “If that's the fastest it can go, maybe they can outrun it.”

“Doesn't look like they plan to,” I observed as the battleship fired anther salvo. “Maybe if the rest of the fleet tries a pincer move... Wait.” I blinked as the moon came out from behind its refuge in the clouds, revealing one hull alone on the dark sea. “Where's the rest of the fleet?”

“From what I heard, most of it's in Sasebo right now. They must have sent that out alone to buy time for whatever's still deployed in Yokosuka.”

“A suicide run? That's insane!”

“And you and I aren't?” She shook her head. “What can we do?”

“I'm thinking,” I muttered. “Try the radio again.”

“Yeah, yeah... Still no good.”

“Damn it..!”

“We've got company. Looks like six aircraft from the base.” The Huey lurched. “Better make sure we aren't in their attack path.”

I watched as the Wisconsin kept up its losing battle against Shateiel's advance. “I see them.”

“A-Ten tank busters. I'd have thought the Air Force would be here before the Navy... Guess the radio jamming slowed them down.”

“Yeah...”

The Wisconsin was heading east at top speed, primary and secondary batteries blazing away. Shateiel was definitely chasing the ship now, even as the first of the A-10s hailed it with a burst from a 30mm nose gun. The Angel ignored the aircraft as they assailed it in turn and peeled off, aiming for Turel. The second target seemed reluctant to leave its companion behind: it had slowed to a crawl as Shateiel chased after the battleship. Now to see if the Evas could mobilize before the Angels either destroyed their current obstacles or decided to ignore them and move on.

“Gotta take us lower,” Keiko said, manipulating the control stick and prompting a ticklish feeling in my stomach. “Don't wanna catch one of those shells.” She glanced at me. “You don't get airsick, right?”

“No, but there's a first time for everything.”

“Sorry.” The chopper leveled off a little. “This better?”

“Yeah.” I peered through the windshield with growing concern. “How low are we going?”

“Low enough to make a fast landing if we start taking fire.”

“We're approaching a residential area. I hope you know what you're doing.”

“I told you I learned from the best, didn't I?”

“Yeah, yeah...” I leaned forwards, trying to see past her. “We've passed the targets. I'm moving to the back to keep watch.”

“'Kay. Watch out for those switches.”

“Sumisu-san,” said Rei as I extricated myself from the cockpit, already watching the Angels through a side window. “You look pained.”

“I'm okay. The anesthetic they sprayed on my eye is wearing off, that's all.” I latched onto a nearby handhold and looked out through the next window. “Seems the Wisconsin's not going to make it.”

“There are many people on that ship. Do you not wish to help them?”

“Of course I want to,” I protested, “but there's nothing we can do like this. If the ship can hold out just a little longer—”

“Sumisu-san.” Rei turned to face me. “Have you forgotten that I have the same power as those Angels?”

“Uh...” Apparently I had forgotten, what with everything else going on at the time. “Can—can you stop them? In your condition?”

“I cannot destroy them, but I can render them vulnerable. You must bring me closer to them.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

All in all, having the Evas come to us here was preferable to us going to them and fighting defense above the Geofront. “Okay,” I said. “But if it's too much for you, we're pulling out. Keiko, change of plan!”

“I heard,” said the pilot. “And if it were anyone but you two asking, I'd refuse point-blank.” She flipped another switch. “Hold onto yer biscuits.”

The Huey zoomed skyward so fast that I felt as if I were trying to do a chin-up instead of merely standing upright. “Waugh!”

“Yeeee-haw!” The deck twisted under my feet and I suddenly found myself plastered against the side door. “Boo-yah,” Keiko whooped. “Make way for Mekong lumberjacks!”

“...The hell?”

“Sorry, forgot that movie hasn't been made yet. Whee!”

No doubt about it, this woman had inherited my crazy streak and then some. I clung to the handhold for dear life until the helicopter was flying more or less straight and level, then detached myself and went to Rei. “You okay?”

“Yes.”

“I hope so. This is going to take a lot of Moxie.”

“Mokkushii?”

“My home state's soft drink, root beer for masochists. My parents named a boat after it.”

She filed that away. “I can begin now, but we must move nearer for the effect to be sufficient.”

Keiko gave the First Children a thumbs-up and a silly grin. “Gotcher number, baby.”

She had my uneven command of Japanese, too. “Very well,” said Rei, apparently unperturbed, and rolled the left side door open.

I grabbed the handhold again and leaned out a little, the rotor wash and slipstream cold against my face. “Okay... We're clear, keep going!”

“Right!”

“Sumisu-san.” Rei's hand wrapped around mine. “Do not let go.”

“Eh? What are you..?” My voice trailed off as Rei stepped out onto the ordnance pylon, seemingly oblivious to the wind. She gazed at Turel for a few moments, then closed her eyes. The air around the Angel rippled.

FRRREEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWW!

The A-10 was well ahead of us by the time I'd opened my eye. It'd passed closer than I would have liked, maybe to get a look at us. The quaintly-shaped plane fired two hissing bursts at Turel before banking right and out of view. A second passed us at a greater distance, duplicating the attack. The Angel's AT Field flickered, losing its former radiance as it began to weaken against Rei's energy and the hammering of one GAU-8/A after another. The shield faded to almost nothing as the third A-10 made its run and failed to appear completely when the fourth came calling. As it pulled away, I could make out a cluster of jagged holes in Turel's pale flank: dark spots in the moonlight.

“It's working,” I called. “Keep it up!”

“No.” Rei opened her eyes. “The other is coming back.”

It was true: Shateiel left the Wisconsin behind—naval gunfire nonwithstanding—and glided towards the wounded half of the pair. As they drew near each other, a writhing, crackling tendril of energy leaped across the air between them. Turel's AT Field renewed, completely deflecting the fifth and sixth A-10s' strafing. The Angels hovered for a second more, silent and stationary, then Turel's side split into narrow slats, like a Venetian blind turned on its side. The slats shifted, twisting and folding as something emerged from the center of the tall body.

“Uh oh.”

It was a three-gun turret, of the same massive scale as the Wisconsin's main arrays. A more compact assembly moved into place above it before the Angel's skin returned to its original featureless shape. Other parts of the Angel began the same process of alteration, along its leading edge and at the peak and base of the tower. Once those processes had come to their conclusion, Turel sported a third smaller turret and—most incongruously—a radar array. The whole thing had taken no more than four or five seconds.

“Mechanical mimicry,” I breathed. “Keiko, did you see that?”

“Yeah!” The Huey shifted into sideways flight, circling around the targets. “Hang on tight, this could get hairy!”

The A-10s were coming back for their next run, two at a time now. The first pair passed to our left, lined up their guns and exploded into tumbling chunks and fragments. The second pair tried to pull out, the one closer to us breaking up like before. The other swung off in a wide arc: the right wing was half gone and the engine and tail assemblies on the same side had been totally blown off. Incredibly, it was not only still airborne but apparently under the control of its pilot. The surviving duo had abandoned their attack with more room to spare and were so far unscathed. Seeing that they were moving to cover the crippled airframe, I turned my eye back to Turel. There was no mistaking the noise which accompanied each tank buster's destruction: the Angel had duplicated not only the Wisconsin's armaments, but also those of its flying tormentors. Its chances of hitting us with a sixteen-inch Mark 7 weren't great, but a Gatling gun spewing nearly four thousand depleted-uranium shells per minute was an entirely different proposition.

Turel appeared to have exactly that notion in mind, too. There was no warning, only a flash of orange just ahead of us as Rei's hand was torn from mine. She tumbled away with a frightened cry—I would have followed, pitched right out as the Huey rolled wildly, were it not for that one hand on the hull and the pylon supporting my feet. “Keiko! We just lost Rei!”

“Shit!” The chopper righted, moving at an angle. “Can you see her?”

I twisted around, searching the air. “She's floating at about eight o'clock and a little below!”

“Right!” The feeling in my stomach suggested that we were now flying backwards. “I'll bring us in for a pickup!”

“Okay! A little closer, little closer... That's good!” I reached out, caught Rei by the wrist and pulled her in. “Got her!”

“Ooh-rah!” The helicopter ascended.

I felt Rei slide an arm around my waist and looked down. “Sorry about that.”

She blinked. “About what?”

“...Forget it.” I nodded towards Turel, now turning its big guns towards the Wisconsin. “Get ready!”

Rei closed her eyes. I braced myself. Turel opened fire. In the distance, columns of white rose and fell near the Wisconsin: ranging shots, or else the Angel just had lousy aim. “Looks like it still needs to get the hang of that,” I yelled. “If it sticks to to imitated weapons, the ship'll be okay as long as the Phalanx systems don't run empty!”

“Phalanx..? Oh, crap!”

“Now what?”

“I forgot,” Keiko replied. “The Wisconsin was in Yokosuka to have the Phalanx turrets upgraded! It's got no working point defense!”

I winced. “You gotta be kidding me!”

Something slammed into Shateiel's AT Field from a westerly direction, exploding violently. “'Bout time,” my clone hollered. “Looks like the cavalry's shown up!”

Thank goodness. “How many?” I called. “Can you see?”

“Not from here. Let's just hope they sent enough!”

“Yeah!” Hopefully they'd brought heavier weapons, too. While the standard Eva sniper rifle—designed in England by Accuracy International, who in an epic act of product placement modeled it after their highly successful Arctic Warfare, and fabricated by BAE—had enough punch to take out a missile frigate, it alone might not be enough to kill these targets. The Angels definitely didn't like the added threat, however: Shateiel displaced, setting itself up in the Eva's line of fire while Turel beat us off with a second Gatling burst.

“Damn!” I gritted my teeth. Rei couldn't squelch those AT Fields and keep her own strong enough to deflect the incoming projectiles at the same time, and Turel looked like it knew that. At the same time, Shateiel couldn't shield Turel with just its body: it may have been close to the size of an Eva, but Turel was easily twice that. “Keiko, you've got to evade the incoming fire!”

“Sorry, Dad! This is the best I can do at this range!”

She hadn't called me that before. Somehow it worried me. “Keep trying! Rei, is—is there anything we can do to make it easier?”

“Sumisu-san... Do you believe in me?”

“I... Of course I believe you can do it!”

“That is not what I meant.” Her face had taken a firm expression. “I can suppress both of them together only at a very short distance. Do you believe in me, Sumisu-san?”

None of us wanted to be flying next to a hostile Angel, especially when it was under fire from two directions, but the alternatives—the deaths of the Wisconsin's crew of nineteen hundred at best and Third Impact at worst—were unacceptable. “Okay, Rei,” I said as Turel tried to hit the battleship once more, overshooting the mark this time. “I believe in you. Don't let me down... Keiko, take us in!”

“For the record, this is nuts.” The Huey's nose dipped. Another Eva sniper round expended itself against Shateiel's shields. “And you're going to owe me a very stiff drink if we survive it! Don't fall out again, kid!”

Keiko's piloting was far more aggressive now, steering the helicopter in like a dog going for a postman. We'd cut it too close, unfortunately: Turel's third barrage hit the Wisconsin along the waterline, two-thirds aft of the bow. The fast battleship responded in kind, blasting the Angel head-on. The damage couldn't have been serious, though, not with the AT Field yet partially active, and it was sure to be already repairing itself as the smoke cleared. Under ideal circumstances, with working radios and all the rest, we'd just launch a coordinated assault on each Angel's core and have this over and done with in time to get eight hours of sleep.

Well, maybe. I couldn't tell where Turel's core was and Shateiel seemed to have two of them. Not that it mattered, because neither the battleship nor the sniping Eva could shoot accurately enough to hit one of the red orbs in these conditions. They'd have to get closer for that. The Wisconsin was starting to develop a list to port—we might not be able to count on that base of fire much longer. A sniper round rammed through the AT Field and made physical contact with Shateiel. The Angel made a half-rotation, turning a shattered facet towards us. As Turel's cannons belched clouds of fire afresh, the facet melted and ran together, restoring the smooth, glassy sheen.

“No good, huh?” Doing this piecemeal, chipping them away one shot at a time, was obviously inadequate. Turel and the Wisconsin had another exchange, the former ignoring us for the moment and the latter swinging north. I could only assume its crew were trying to run back to New Yokosuka or else beach the vessel somewhere along the coast. “Rei, this isn't enough!”

“I require only a little longer. Ikari-kun is coming.”

“Eh?”

“And another... Another who I do not know.”

I swung my head towards the cockpit. “Keiko, do you see anything?”

“Yeah, we've got something inbound from—holy shit!”

“Wha—”

The world whited out. I twisted away, closing my eye as tightly as I could. I heard a yelp from Keiko and a thunderclap that left my ears ringing. The Huey's deck jolted, the shock running up through my knees. “Ergh!” I shook my head, trying to see past the image burned into my retina. “Everyone okay?”

“Still kickin'...” Keiko sounded dazed. “My eyes are fucked up, though...”

“Can you see?”

“Yeah, sort of... Gimme a couple of minutes to recover, okay?”

“I don't think we have a couple of minutes, Keiko! They're using the positron rifle!”

“I know!”

“The big positron rifle!”

“I know!” The chopper's nose lifted. “I'll back us off a ways!”

Good idea. My vision had resolved enough by now to see that Shateiel was deploying a new trick: it was hovering on its side with its bottom end pointing towards Tokyo-3, an intense body of agitated energy suspended between its twin cores. The exterior facets were reconfiguring into a narrower tube, their edges overlapping one another. The line of energy joining the two Angels had changed as well, pulses running along it from Turel's end. It almost looked like...

“Keiko, disrupt the connection!”

“What?”

“Open fire!”

The three-barreled gun in the chin turret roared briefly, then again. The 20mm rounds wouldn't break that link, but if I was right about it being a transmission of data rather than mere power, they might degrade the signal enough to delay or misdirect Shateiel's aiming.

“What are you doing? Keep shooting!”

“The gun's jammed or something!”

Come to think of it, the M197 wasn't renowned for reliability. “Use rockets!”

“I'll see what I can—take cover!”

I managed to scrunch my eye shut ahead of the whiteout this time, though I could feel its intensity on my skin. When the light dimmed, I saw that the friendly shot placement left something to be desired: the positron beam had passed over Turel's peak, slagging the radar array and the armor under it. Both were, of course, being rebuilt straight away. “Tch,” I sighed. “Keiko, did it deflect that?”

“They fired at the same time,” she called back. “The other one hit the water!”

That explained the distant column of rising steam. “We're getting nowhere like this! Keiko, head for the Evas!”

“But Sumisu-san, this—”

“It's not enough, Rei. We have to coordinate our supporting fire and try again.” I drew her inside and rolled the door closed as the Huey accelerated. “Uh, Keiko? What are we going to do with Joyeuse?”

“Dunno... Wanna bury him at sea?”

“We may have to.” I moved to the rear of the cockpit and watched over her shoulder. “How're we doing otherwise?”

“Our ride's okay. Used a lotta gas, though, and the nose gun is still jammed.”

“Could be worse.”

“Yeah... What about Wisky?”

“Took some hits, but they're not dead yet.”

“That's not so bad.” Keiko frowned at the sound of a new volley. “Who's shooting now?”

I went back to the side door and opened it a little. “It's the Wisconsin again... The Angels are ignoring it.”

“Figures. No point in wasting time on it if it can't hurt them, right?”

“Looks that way.”

“'Kay, we're coming up on the Evas... Radio's not working yet. How do you wanna do this?”

“Take us in low on their left. Is there a megaphone aboard?”

“Under the copilot seat.”

I ducked and tugged out the article in question. “That's convenient.”

“Nah. I swiped it from the mercs, just in case.”

“Your strategic thinking is appreciated.” I opened the door all the way. We were now over the foothills just north of New Yokosuka, the lights of that city shining brightly not far away. Eva-02 was nearest, crouching with the sniper rifle. Eva-03 sat beside it, bristling with missile racks and clutching a large rocket launcher. Both carried extended-operation battery packs. Past the third unit was Eva-01, gripping the massive positron rifle which had been used against Ramiel. The SSDF-built weapon sported some upgrades, including a rather larger cooling module. Two large cables ran from it, one into the power socket on Eva-01's back and the other to the last of the giants. The last looked like Eva-03 prior to its reconstruction, but with a predominately silver color scheme.

So Eva-04 had finally been put into play. Was that boy the pilot?

Well, that was something to worry about later. The base of operations was up the hill behind the Evas, lit by portable floodlights. Both of the Russian helicopters sat amidst the activity there, dozens of people moving around them. “Keiko! Drop me off on this side of the Hinds, then take over aerial observation! I'll wave when I need pickup, okay?”

“If you're sure... Right, we're going in!”

I handed the megaphone to Rei. “Once you're back in the air, watch the targets and use this to keep me informed. Got it?”

“Yes... Sumisu-san, what are you doing?”

“Paying off my insurance premium,” I said, tucking the bottom end of the Type 17's magazine housing into the back of my pants and leaving the extra-chunky Mauser clone placed for a semi-quick draw. The .45 stripper clips went into my new pants pockets. “Gotten ambushed enough times to know better by now.” Next came the Thompson, Mosin-Nagant and M72. “At least, in theory.”

“I understand.”

Fully loaded—how did I manage to support the weight of five guns with ammo plus a disposable rocket launcher so easily, anyway?—I took up my place. People on the ground were gathering, waiting as we descended: a mix of Nerv security and Russian soldiers. “A little lower,” I called. “That's good!” Three steps out, brace and jump.

Thud!

“Down and clear!” I moved around to the Huey's forward end and waved to Keiko. “Get going!”

She gave me a thumbs-up through the windshield, and then the helicopter was off.

“Hello, world! It's Waredo Dyrge, the bane of all happy folk!”

“I don't believe a word of it.” Captain Chabenko stepped to the front. “It's good to see you again, Comrade Commissar.” He looked me over. “Taken some damage, haven't you?”

“Yeah... Well, never mind that. Who's in charge here?”

“Major Katsuragi. She's—”

”SUMISU-KUN!”

“Oof! ...Not in front of the Klingons, Major!”

Misato let go, tears in her eyes. “We... We thought you were dead...”

“Certain people would dearly love to see it happen. They'll be waiting a long time.”

“And Rei?”

“In the chopper. She's fine.” I motioned towards the Evas. “First things first. Let's get this done.”

“Yes. Yes, of course.” She set off, moving pretty well for someone who'd been shot in the gut just a few days ago.

I followed. “What's the pilot arrangement?”

“Shinji-kun in Eva One, Asuka and Horaki-chan in Two and Aida-kun and Suzuhara-kun in Three. Four is piloted by our new Seventh Children, Nagisa Kaworu.“

“Got it.” I looked up at Eva-02's towering back. “Okay, listen up! We have two targets, and they're tough ones. On top of that, one's apparently immune to positron weapons. I've got something in the helicopter that can suppress their AT Fields, but that's not enough without concerted, unrelenting fire on your part... Here's the deal: Evas One and Four will support from here with focused fire. Shinji, you aim for the big one, center of mass. Asuka, pass that rifle to Nagisa. Nagisa, you whittle down the small one. Hold fire until we start shooting. Evas Two and Three will displace to close engagement range and smash the targets once the airborne field suppressor is up and running. Everyone got that?”

”Roger, Smith!”

“Yes, Sumisu-san!”

“We'll be right beside ya, man!”

“...”


“...”

“...”

I frowned. “Nagisa-kun, is there a problem?”

”No, no problem. Proceeding as ordered.”

“What's with that glum voice, homo-boy?”
Asuka demanded. ”Smith's here now! Show some enthusiasm!”

“It's okay, Asuka,” I cut in. “Go easy on him.”

”Oh, all right.”

“Your cooperation is appreciated... Major, one other thing.”

“What is it?”

“When we get radio communications back, don't tell HQ I'm here, okay? We've got some moles that need to be whacked.”

“Got it. Not a word.”

“Thanks.” I waved to Keiko. “Let's move out, boys and girls!”

As the Huey settled, I looked back over my shoulder at Eva-04. So long as Kaworu did his allocated job now, there would be plenty of time to make it up to him later... If there was anything that could be done to make up for being forced to kill one's own children, anyway.

“I'm in,” I said simply, closing the door. “Take us up.”

***

Shateiel and Turel hadn't been idle. With us out of the way and the Wisconsin limping towards New Yokosuka, they'd been able to cover a lot of ground. On the other hand, so had we: the two assault Evas had no trouble keeping up with our Huey despite having their hands filled with ordnance. Turel greeted us with another helping of depleted uranium, easily deflected by Rei.

I leaned out, a solid grasp on the megaphone. “All right, guys... SMASH 'EM!”

The Evas skidded to a halt, treads shredding the pavement of the deserted street beneath them. Eva-02 opened up with a pair of pallet rifles, their chattering melding with the tinkling of a thousand shattering panes of glass. Shateiel began to roll, trying to turn its cracked facets away from the incoming shells: a futile maneuver, made the more so when a sniper round hit the Angel at a glancing angle and completely shattered a facet. Two more broke in turn as something on the order of fifteen rockets struck together—Toji and Kensuke had definitely benefited from the extra training. Turel fruitlessly tried to counter with the battleship guns... And then the positron rifle lanced straight through it. There was another burst of rifle fire, a furious stabbing with progressive knives and a string of cook-off explosions.

And then it was over. Shateiel burst, torn apart by the energy it had been trying to accrue for a positron shot. The myriad shards dissolved, becoming fleeting pulses of light. Turel's gutted hull descended like a ripped balloon, crashing down on a vacant highway and settling onto its back, silent guns pointing at stars. “Hey,” Keiko announced. “We've got radio!”

“Great,” I sighed. Why did I always feel totally burned out right after winning? “Take us back to the camp.” I walked over to Joyeuse and covered him with his jacket. “Let me do the talking.”

***

“You did it! You beat them!”

“Who, me?” I gave Misato a weary look. “I just gave a couple of orders... Are we done here?”

“Yes... As soon as we're packed up, we can go home.”

“Yay. What about the Wisconsin?”

“Back in port. Limited damage, a few casualties.”

“That's more like it. By the way, where are the Land Cruisers?”

“We had to leave them behind. There wasn't an easy way to transport them over the mountains.”

“I see... Do me a couple of favors, would you? My ID card got stolen, so have it canceled and a replacement made. Also, find out what's going on in the Limited-Intervention Zone and try to get some aid for the refugees.”

“Aid?”

“Food and medical supplies. I think they have enough ammo to hold out for the moment.”

“Uh, Sumisu-kun...”

“What?”

“You said, 'aid for the refugees'?”

“That's right. They helped me get Rei back and it's the least we can do for them.”

“But...”

“You have no idea what really happened out there, do you?” I shook my head. “To make it short, what the government is probably painting as an uprising was actually an act of self-defense. It wasn't the refugees who attacked us and snatched Rei on Christmas Eve, nor were they accomplices of the real enemy. I'll explain the details later, so for now just do it. Oh, and get some kind of lockdown placed on the Great Sun Society.”

“The political group? Why?”

I turned around, motioning to the LAW. “I got this off one of their hitmen, and they had lots more where it came from. Full-auto assault weapons and firebombs, too—four men in my squad got burned to death this afternoon. Somebody supplied a whole lot of restricted hardware to those Great Sun thugs and my gut says it was somebody in a position of influence.” My voice dropped to a dangerous growl. “And it was one of them who gouged out my eye. You can imagine why I'm not a happy camper.”

“Er... Yes. Yes, I can.” She took off quickly. “I'll make that call now.”

“You do that... And remember—not a word about us being back!”

“What's the matter, man? You don't like publicity?”

I gave the messy-haired young man with the wearable computer a suspicious look. “And you are..?”

“Ender Kincaid, data processing specialist. I came in with Kathy Zachmann over there.” He motioned to a woman in a stained lab coat, with slightly greasy-looking hair in a ponytail and stern glasses, who was trying to balance a laptop on each knee. “We got here the day before yesterday, tech support for Eva Four.”

“I see... Interesting shirt you've got there.”

“You like it? It's Old Akkadian, means 'If you can read this, you masturbate too much.'”

“Uh-huh.”

“I wanted it done in Sumerian, but the printer got it mixed up.”

“That's too bad.”

“Ender,” Zachmann called irritably, “stop schmoozing around the military nerd and get back to work.”

“Right,” he sighed. “See you, man.”

Military nerd? Kensuke must have been mouthing off again. “So what's your shtick?” I asked, approaching the other new meat.

“Advanced energy physics.” She adjusted her glasses. “And if you came over here to talk about guns—”

“I didn't.”

“Thank heathens... Do you mind? I'm kind of busy here.”

I shrugged. “I'll try again later.”

“Sumisu-san!” I found myself surrounded by Children. “You look great!” Kensuke continued. “Like a real veteran!”

“Aida.”

“Yes..?”

“Shut up.” I turned to Shinji and Asuka. “How's everyone holding up?”

“We're all right,” said Shinji, “but everyone has been on edge since—since that night... Um, is Ayanami..? Can I see her?”

“I guess, unless you'd rather wait until we find her some clothes.”

“Er...” His cheeks reddened.

“Not that I expect she'd care.” I nodded towards the idle Huey. “Come on.”

“Just a minute.” Shinji reached over and pulled the straggler forwards. “This is Kaworu-kun, our new—”

“I know,” I said shortly. “I've been expecting him.”

“Oh... Um—”

“What?”

“...Nothing.”

“Hey Smith,” Asuka queried as we ambled to the chopper, “what happened to your eye?”

“I got stabbed by a furious young patriot.”

“No, the other eye. Why's it colored like that?”

“I got exposed to strange chemicals.”

“What were you doing out there?”

“Fighting the good fight, same as always. You'll hear all the juicy details later.” I opened the door a little and stick my head in. “Rei, there are some people who want to see you. Got anything you can... Oh.”

She'd put on Joyeuse's jacket, which was long enough to cover the essentials. “Is this not appropriate?”

“No, that's okay. Come out and—oy!”

“What?” Asuka demanded, throwing the door open. “Something wro—eeeeek!”

“Sorry,” I said, planting myself in front of Joyeuse's mortal remains. “We didn't have time to bury him.”

“Who... Who is he?”

“My uncle Gordon,” I said, making up a cover story on the fly. “He came in to get me out.”

The initial shock over, Asuka leaned around me. “Why does he have your scars?”

“A disguise to fool the enemy.”

“That's right,” Keiko chimed in, exiting the cockpit. “Dad thought he could pass himself off as cousin Smith there.” She crouched beside Rei. “So you guys are the Children, huh? I'm Keiko. Nice to meet you.”

“Wow,” Kensuke breathed. He suddenly bowed deeply. “Fair lady! Will you marry me?”

Asuka and I twitched. Keiko looked slightly amused. “Sorry, kiddo,” she said, patting his head. “I only like women.”

“No way...”

“Ya way.”

“'Scuse me,” I muttered, spotting Chabenko not far off. “Be right back... Comrade Captain!”

“Problem, comrade?”

“Maybe not,” said I. “If you've got a minute, care to fill me in on what's been happening in the city?”

“Not much,” the Russian replied. “People are tense, of course, but it was quiet until today.”

“I see. What about the security details?”

“I requested reinforcements, but we got a unit from the Darkstar PMC instead.”

“More mercenaries?”

“That's right. I understand Tokyo-Two paid for it.”

“Should have known.” I lowered my voice. “Listen, can you do me a big favor when we get back?”

“Sure, comrade.”

“Good. It's like this...”

***

“Coming up on the LZ,” Keiko announced. “We sticking to the plan?”

I adjusted my grip on the A-91. “Yeah.”

“Just checking. I hope that Chabenko guy doesn't miss his cue.”

“If he does miss it, we'll do it ourselves.” I glanced at Rei, stoically bearing a GAU-5. “You don't have to force yourself, Rei. This might be very messy and I—”

“I do not care,” she answered firmly. “I will protect those who are important to me.”

“Okay.”

“The Hinds have touched down,” Keiko reported. “They're unloading. Khaki, green and black on the ground.”

A mix of Nerv security, mercs and Section Two agents. “I see them. Take us down once the Children are out of the way.”

“Roger.”

I watched through the door window as Misato led the Eva pilots towards a waiting Nerv van. “Okay, I think this will do.” I held on with my good hand as the Huey swung in and settled by the edge of the helipad, waiting as the whine of the Pratt & Whitney engines died away. Keiko climbed out of the cockpit and crouched beside Rei. Across the helipad, I saw the despised figure of Kimber Maddox accosting Misato. “Ready?” I asked.

“Ready.”

“Ready.”

I nodded to Keiko. “Go for it.”

“Done and done.” She swung her M4 up, grabbed the side door and threw it open. The noise got the attention of all present: I stepped onto the pylon, assault rifle at low ready.

“Okay, suckers! I'm back to make sure everyone has a miserable time!”

Kimber, frozen halfway between the van and us, looked livid. “You!”

“What did Odysseus say to the suitors, book twenty-two, lines thirty-six to forty-two?” I raised a hand.

”Attention, all Tokyo-Three and Nerv facility security forces,” Chabenko's voice boomed over the local PA system. ”In accordance with intelligence relayed by Commissioner Smith, recently returned from the foxholes of Old Tokyo, the Darkstar private military company is hereby designated an enemy organization. All Darkstar employees within areas under Nerv jurisdiction are to be disarmed and detained immediately. Failure to comply will be met with any degree of force necessary. Ryoji Kaji of the Investigation Division is to be detained under the same terms. That is all.”

“He said, 'you punks didn't think I'd ever come home, did you?'”

“Sumisu-kun,” Misato called, “stop joking around!”

“This is no joke, Major.” I jumped down, laser-eying Kimber. “It's just business.”

“You son of a bitch..!”

“Care to say that a little louder, Maddox?” I advanced diagonally, approaching without putting myself in the friendly line of fire. “You see, this is the problem with us self-righteous assholes. We just can't parse 'die' as a legitimate command.”

She gave me a thoroughly evil look as Chabenko's troops began relieving her associates of their F15s and P90s. “You think you can get away with this, you smart-ass clown?”

“It's not me you should be worrying about,” I said coldly. “It's Takao.”

“You... You wouldn't dare!”

“I can and I will.” I yanked her Beretta 96 out of its holster, dropped the mag and racked the slide against my belt, then tossed the empty gun away. “What she does to you after that is your problem.” The Beretta 84 went next. “Now get over there against the van... Major, cuff her and round up the usual suspects. I think the cafeteria would make for a passable venue.”

“What are you planning?”

“I'm going to tell everyone what happened out there... And some other things.”

“What do you mean? What other things?”

“Do you remember what I told you on the way back from New Yokosuka, after the first incident? I'm going to make good on my word now... It's time to end the lies that our would-be puppet masters have perpetuated over the last fifteen years.”

“I understand.” Misato took a deep breath. “We'll be there.”

“Don't rush yourself... Rei, you go with her. I need to swing by a couple of places and scrounge some things before we get started.” I nodded to Chabenko. “Take the others to the stockade. We'll deal with them later.”

“As you say, comrade.”

“And keep an eye out for Tiller and his hostage.”

***

“I have to ask,” Keiko said quietly as the elevator descended. “Why Gordon?”

“My middle name. A lot of men in the family have it.”

“Nice and generic, huh?”

“Well, yeah... That and it's Scotch.” I pulled my eye away from the floor counter. “Didn't Joyeuse ever talk about himself?”

“Not much. He almost never said anything about life before you came here.”

“I see... My turn now?”

“Sure.”

“Why cousins?”

There was a pause. “Well... Joyeuse wasn't a great father, but he was better than nothing. I know the obvious choice is to have you take over, but you're... You know, you're—”

“Too young.”

“Yeah. More like a big brother, right? I would have used that, but I wasn't sure how well people here know you.”

“Not that well, I have to admit... So we're sticking with cousins for now?”

“I guess.”

“I'm temped to make a Haruka-Michiru joke, but that'd be a bit much... Anyway, what's with the M-Four?”

“Joyeuse didn't approve either,” she chuckled. “I started out with this because the sky eyes figured it was the best their subjects had to offer.”

“Meaning the former top dog, the United States.”

“Right... Anyway, the gear grew on me after a while. I've been meaning to get a piston upper for the carbine, but other stuff keeps getting in the way.”

“Ah.”

“Actually...” She eyed the ceiling carefully. “You sure this thing isn't monitored?”

“Unless they overhauled it in the last few days, yes.”

“Okay.” She raised her left arm and started pressing buttons on what I'd taken to be a large digital wristwatch. “What's a good demo piece? Gepard fourteen-point-five? Nah, too big... Microgun, same deal... MP-Five/Ten? Meh... Oh, this'll do.” She turned her hand over and pressed the device: I couldn't hide my surprise as an original AR-10 materialized across her palm.

“Wow.”

“Cool, huh?” She tapped the device again and the battle rifle vanished. “It's based on sky eye tech, but they don't have anything this small.”

“How does it work?”

“You know how their spearshell launchers can bounce shots through an adjacent spatial layer to hide them from target sensors? Same principle. It's induction powered, drawing energy from the user's body via the internal nanomachines.”

“So not just anyone can use it?”

“Bingo.”

“If the sky eyes don't use it, where'd you get it?”

“Joyeuse and some friends built a few—this is the newest model. I brought one of the prototypes as a backup, but if you want it...”

“Sure, if it works.”

She produced a second, less streamlined unit. “Function's fine, but this one has less space. You won't be able to stick any really big stuff in it. On the other hand, the memory is non-volatile and the contents are position-indexed relative to the control unit, so you won't lose your inventory if you take it off or wear it differently. It's waterproof to six hundred meters, vacuum-enabled and works in a wider range of temperatures than you'd ever survive.”

“Does it tell time?”

“They forgot to add that until the last revision.” She watched apologetically as I passed the strap around my right wrist. “Sorry.”

“I'll survive... So how do I use it? I only see three buttons.”

“The UI was kind of an afterthought. All you get is Next Item, Previous Item and Transfer. It has eight slots.”

“Simple enough, I guess.” I pulled out the Type 17 and laid it over my hand. “Uh, it won't take my fingers off, will it?”

“No, but it won't work if they're in the way.”

“Okay.” I pressed the big button and watched as the broomhandle disappeared. A second press brought it back. “Nifty.”

“Yeah. Just remember, the stuff you put in doesn't just disappear. You'll still need to pull it all out for regular maintenance.”

“I can live with that.” I tucked the .45 back into my pants. “I'll save it until after I've cleaned this stuff.”

***

“So you're back,” Mikuma growled as we strolled into the armory. “You don't disappoint... Who's the lady?”

“My cousin.”

“Nice to meet you... Sumisu, what's all that you're carrying?”

“Souvenirs of my trip to the Zone. You should come to the meeting if you want to hear all about it.” I went across to my usual locker. “All my stuff's still here, huh?”

“'Course it is. You've never died on me yet, no matter how crazy you act.”

“Thanks for believing in me.” I pulled out my P7 and Norinco 1911. “How did these get back here?”

“Kaji brought them in after you disappeared. He said you dropped 'em after running empty.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Nice collection,” Keiko said. She reached past me and grabbed the Desert Eagle. “Ooh, a forty-four slabside! Can I borrow this?”

I raised an eyebrow. Well, she was about my height and far from small-boned... “If you really want to.”

“I like big guns and I cannot lie.” She dropped the M4 on the bench and donned the big magnum's shoulder holster. I shared an incredulous look with Mikuma.

“By the way,” said he, producing a box from somewhere, “I believe you commissioned this.”

I opened the box to find a streamlined black handgun. “So I did.”

“Hm?” Keiko turned around. “What's that?”

“This—” I drew the slide back and locked it. “—is a Strayer-Tripp Twenty-Eleven. It's what I got myself for Christmas... Gee, Mikuma, you really pulled out all the stops this time.”

“After what you paid me for it, how could I not?” The armor watched as I inspected the piece. “I already did most of the break-in for you, so it should be pretty smooth.”

“It is. The whole thing feels nice.”

“You look like something's bothering you. Did I order a wrong part?”

“No,” I said quickly. “No, this is exactly what I wanted... Mikuma, when I was out there, I found who was behind all the recent attacks. He uses the same make and model.”

“That's a downer.”

“Maybe.” I picked up a magazine—carrying fourteen of the bottlenecked .38-45 rounds I'd become so fond of—and slammed it in. “Or it might be appropriately ironic. I don't know.” I pulled back on the slide and let it run forwards. “What I do know is that next time I won't run out of ammo before the bastard dies.”

***

“Those of you who were present when I made my first forays into this place may remember an analogy I used.” I reached one extremity of the cafeteria and reversed my course, looking over those gathered before me as I went. “An analogy of a building rigged with explosives, which I used to illustrate my need to selectively keep you in the dark for your own safety... Well, people, this is it. We're out of the building.”

A murmur grew among those present. I raised a hand for quiet. “We've come a long way since then and gone through a lot of rough times. Some of us have lost comrades. Others will bear scars for the rest of their lives. You know these things already, but few of you know why they happened. That is why you are here, to learn at long last what has really been going on... But before I start at the beginning, fifteen years ago, there is one present matter which needs attention. Also, I must ask you all not to judge anyone else here too harshly, for there are many among us who have done questionable things for reasons which, if not well-meaning, are at least understandably human.”

I altered my course a little, bringing me nearer to Kaworu. “Over the last six-odd weeks, I have devised a number of plans aimed at securing our collective futures. Eva Three has been salvaged and rebuilt. This facility and the city above are better defended than ever, ironically thanks in part to the actions of our enemy. Of the five Evas in our possession, two are capable of unlimited free movement thanks to progress made in harnessing the Super Solenoid. Instead of three pilots, we now have seven.” I gave the newest arrival a significant look. “And while I was away, the last and perhaps most important of these plans finally paid off... Nagisa-kun, would you come up here, please?”

Kaworu rose and moved to the front of the room, hands in pockets. “Before I go on,” said I, “I need to apologize for giving you the cold shoulder earlier and for putting you on the spot now... Nagisa-kun, can you tell us why you were sent here?”

“I was sent here to serve as the pilot of Eva Four, and to assist the other Children as required.”

“Very good. That, I imagine, is the official line.” I picked a random face from the audience. “Hikari, is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“Just so.” I turned back to Kaworu. “Those who sent you, meanwhile, did so in hopes that you would further their own ends by causing a great deal of mischief. What they probably didn't tell you is that they intended for this to be a suicide mission.”

More murmuring from the others. “Quiet, please... Thank you. Right now, Nagisa-kun, I should expect that your thoughts are something along the lines of 'who is this fat guy and what does he want?' Am I right?”

“...Perhaps.”

“Then I'll get to the point... You were sent here as Nagisa Kaworu, Seventh Children. Those who raised you call you Tabris or Tabrias, the Angel of Free Will. They might also know you as Adam, progenitor of the Angels against whom these people have been fighting for the past year.” There was a dead silence. “But I imagine you once had another name: a name to call your own, not given by our kind. Am I wrong?”

“No,” he answered, barely audible. “It's true.”

“Sumisu-kun, what is this!?” Misato jumped to her feet. “What in the world are you thinking?”

“What, you ask? That's simple enough.” I smiled, despite the tension. “Nagisa-kun was sent here as a disguised enemy, but I think he would be far more useful as our ally.”

“What? Didn't you just say he's an Angel?”

“Not in so many words, but yes.”

“That's impossible! An Angel can't be our ally!”

“If you truly believe that, you are not using the little gray cells.” I tapped a finger against the side of my head. “Let me tell you a story, a family story. It's about one of my great-grandfathers—a Scotsman, it so happens—who fought in the First World War. That's nasty business, and you can all consider yourselves lucky that Japan had only a marginal role in it... Ahem. One day, the story goes, he was separated from his unit and became lost in the no-man's land between the opposing trenches. Not a good place to be, I assure you... Anyway, he met another soldier, a German, who was in the same situation. What do you suppose they did? Their countries were at war—the obvious expectation was for them to fight! But no, they didn't fight: instead, they laid down their rifles and, though unable to understand each other's speech, worked together. For three weeks they did this, living on water and oatmeal in a dead wasteland. Ultimately they found themselves near the Central Powers' lines, where they parted ways. My great-grandfather knew how to find his way back to his own side from there, and so he returned. He survived the war, became a long-serving component of the Canadian postal system and died at a ripe old age... It would be nice, I think, if the same could be said for that German.”

I took a moment to gauge reactions. “Perhaps you are not convinced... Well, I also have a personal reason for wanting this. You have all heard, no doubt, of the incident which occurred during our offshore testing with Eva Three, the incident in which we were catapulted into the future. You all know that we returned from that time, and brought Eva Six and the Second Branch back with us... But you do not know, any of you, that something else happened out there.” I faced Kaworu. “When we arrived in that time, in a world destroyed by Third Impact, you were waiting.”

He hadn't seen that one coming. “I was..?”

“Yes. In that future, you were a good friend indeed. When my future self died in action, it was you he chose to send a final message to the past.” I resumed walking. “Thanks to his actions and yours, one terrible future has been averted already... But it seems unfair, doesn't it, for me to ask you to turn your back on your own children?”

“It doesn't matter,” Kaworu replied, voice saddened. “My choice is already made... I have no right to destroy the civilization of the Lilin merely so that I might replace it with my own kind. I cannot erase their songs for the sake of beings who would live in silence.”

“I see,” I said. “When did you decide?”

“After I came here and met the other Children. For a time, they talked and I listened. In them I saw great pain, but also great hope. That was when I finally understood what I could not fifteen years ago... How the Lilin can persist despite crushing despair, how they cling to life even as they survive because of the Evangelions, which they created from what I once was... Had these last two whom I believed long dead not shown themselves, I would have already contrived my own destruction for the sake of Shinji-kun and the others.” His eyes met mine. “But now you, about whom I have heard so much, tell me that I must live on beside the Lilin.”

“You don't like the idea?”

“It makes no difference—what you ask is tantalizing but impossible. The souls of my children linger, and I could resurrect them if I wished... But our two lineages cannot exist together on this world. One must destroy the other to ensure its own future.”

“Ah, but that's where you and the Major are both wrong. There's no physical reason why your kind and ours can't coexist, only opposition born of ignorance!” I waved. “Rei! Up here, if you please!”

“Yes.”

“Stop!” Gendo rose in the back row, his CZ 75B pointing my way. “Rei, come back.”

Keiko whipped up her M4. “You put that down now, buster!”

“Knock it off, both of you.” I waited for Rei to join us. “They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Shall we show them?”

“Very well.”

“Right.” I pulled out the Type 17 and thumbed the safety. “Hold out your hand... That's good.”

Pukka! Fzzt!

“You see?” I put the pistol away. “I ask you, ladies and gentlemen... Has Rei ever posed a threat to you? Hyuga, has she?”

“Well... No, I guess.”

“Takao, have you ever seen people spontaneously combust when she walks by?”

“Can't say that I have.”

“Fuyutsuki, has Rei ever caused any subordinate of yours to dissolve into orange juice?”

“Certainly not.”

“So you see, Nagisa-kun, it's not impossible at all if both sides are willing to try!”

“You're crazy,” Misato declared. “You can't seriously mean you want humans and Angels to live together!”

“That's exactly what I mean,” I replied. “Though the Angels might have to endure the indignity of needing to take human form, for the sake of mutual trust.” I spun on my heel and marched to center stage. “I won't force you to answer just yet, Nagisa-kun. You can give me your answer when I've finished explaining... The rest of you, pay careful attention. I'm about to tell you how we got here, what we're up against and where we can go from this point. When I'm finished, maybe you'll understand why it's so important that we work together instead of against each other.” I cleared my throat. “The story begins a little more than fifteen years ago, and it also begins many billions of years before that...”

In the hours that followed, I talked of many things. I talked of the Angels and their origins, of Seele and their machinations and of Second Impact and the founding of Gehirn. I talked of the creation of the Evas, of the building of Tokyo-3, of the beginnings of Nerv and of the schemes of those who funded it. I talked of Tiller's coming, of the unacceptable future averted, of my time in the Zone and of the threats we now faced from Seele and their countless pawns. I omitted a few details, for instance combining the Arume and Novaya Tula into a vague third party with a common grudge against Darkstar, but on the whole it was an honest if painfully inadequate series of revelations. The only thing I didn't talk about was myself. Even now, they couldn't know those things.

“...And that just about wraps it up,” I said at long last, my throat starting to hurt from all the talking. “Have you decided, Nagisa-kun? Will you help build a better tomorrow for all of us?”

Kaworu looked to Rei. “There was once a time when you and I held each other as enemies, even though we are the same. If I agree to this request, will you accept me as a friend?”

Rei squared herself. “Sumisu-san told me you would come, though I did not understand him at that time... If he believes in you, then I shall as well.”

“Shinji-kun, I have been closest to you out of all the Children. You are one I truly admire. Will you also remain my friend?”

“I... That is... I guess, if Sumisu-san thinks it's all right...”

“And all of you,” Kaworu concluded, addressing all in the room. “Though my children have died at your hands, I cannot bear you ill will for doing what you must to guarantee your own existence. Can you, in time, learn to trust one such as myself?”

Takao got up. “I won't speak for anyone else here, but... I guess I'm with Rei and Shinji. If a guy who battles through unbelievable odds, goes way out on limbs to help his friends, travels through time and stays sane despite knowing so many dirty secrets about this whole deal says we should do this, that's worth enough to give you a chance.”

Maya joined her. “Me too.”

“A chance is all I ask for.” The first and last Angel's confidence seemed to grow a bit. “I am not sure what you speak of can be accomplished so easily, Smith, but I will do as you wish and continue to exist alongside the Lilin. I only hope your confidence is not misplaced.”

I glanced at Keiko. “What do you think? Is my confidence misplaced?”

“Not at all.”

“Then it's decided.” I placed my hands on my hips. I must have cut quite a figure in my cargo pants, tactical vest, duster and brand new eyepatch, because the growing rumbles of discontent immediately settled. “Our mission is no longer to destroy Angels, but to prevent our human enemies from bringing about Third Impact and ending life as we know it! The only way to go is forward—there's no turning back now! Are you with me?”

Most of them looked not to me, but to Gendo. “Sumisu,” he intoned coldly, “have you forgotten—”

“Have I forgotten our agreement? Not for a moment, Commander. I promise, come hell or high water, that you'll get what you wish for.”

“You have never let me down before.” He pushed his glasses up. “You have the benefit of the doubt for now, but do not squander it.”

“Thank you, Commander. Well, unless anyone else has a question—what's that?”

Ritsuko quieted the beeping computer. “That's the results of the test you asked me to run.”

“Test?” Misato looked from her to me. “What's this about?”

“I popped into her office on the way down,” I explained, “and asked if she could check something for me... So what are the results?”

“The genetic pattern matches as you suggested, with minor differences owing to damage in the original chromosome.”

“That confirms it, then. Thanks.”

“Confirms what?” Misato demanded.

“I asked Akagi to run a test,” said I, “on Kaworu's DNA and yours.”

“What? Why?”

“To confirm something that my sources only implied... In a nutshell, your father, Katsuragi Akira, was the donor in the sabotaged contact experiment which led to Second Impact. Kaworu is to him as Rei is to Ikari Yui.” I smiled. “I think that makes Nagisa-kun your brother.”

“Um, Sumisu-san...”

“Yes, Shinji?”

“Uh... You see...”

“Yes..?”

He turned red. “Kaworu-kun isn't really a boy.”

“...Eh?”

“Impossible,” Ritsuko asserted. “The karyotype is XY!”

“But... When we were in the bath, I saw...” Shinji looked like a tomato now. “I promised I wouldn't say anything...”

“Swyer syndrome.” Kaworu sounded... ashamed? “That's what the Lilin who raised me called it. They gave me hormone treatment, so that my voice would change... I never understood why they thought it necessary.”

“So what,” Asuka said suspiciously, “you're some kind of flat-chested girl?”

“Yes.”

“Not a homo-boy?”

“That's right.”

Asuka bared her teeth. “Get the hell away from Shinji!”

Musashi gave the Second Children an annoyed look. “Are you jealous or something?”

“No way! I just don't want these two—”

“Stop!” I thrust out a hand. “Hammer time!”

“...What?”

“Enough squabbling.” I scanned those before me, taking in the gamut of emotions from numb shock to hostile wariness. “I know this is a lot to take in at once, so I think it'd probably be best for everyone to just sleep on it tonight. Dismissed!”

The rest began to disperse, talking among themselves. I intercepted Kimber and Kaji, both in handcuffs, as they were led out. “So, what do you have to say for yourself now?”

Kaji looked away. Kimber spat at my feet. “Fuck you.”

Takao came up behind her, a fist cocked. “Did you say something, bitch?”

Her voice suggested she was fighting back tears. “Not now,” I cautioned. “Lieutenant, get them outta here.”

***

“Smith.”

I looked up from my dismantled Thompson. “Kaworu-kun... Oh, you mind if I call you that?”

“No.” He—she looked around the armory. “Soryu said you spend a lot of time here.”

“Yeah... Something you need?”

She sat down across from me. “I wanted to talk to you.”

“Second thoughts?”

“No.” She regarded me for a few seconds. “You hide your pain well.”

“After you take a few hits, you learn to block it out.”

“Not physical pain,” Kaworu corrected. “Pain of the heart... Pain you did not speak of back there.”

“Yeah,” I said quietly. “I guess so.” I looked up from the submachine gun. “You want to hear about it?”

“If you wish to share it.”

“Don't suppose it matters... What I didn't tell the others is that the woman Tiller took hostage is... is someone special to me.”

“Someone you love.”

“It took me a long time to realize that.” I shook my head. “And just when I did, he took her away from me. I don't know if she's alive, or if she remembers me. I lost her because I got careless and ran out of ammo at the worst time, and then...” My voice started to go. “We could have gone after them, could have chased them down in the helicopter, but I chose let them go so we could bring Rei back and stop those Angels.”

“I think I understand.” There was sympathy in those crimson eyes. “You gave her up to protect the Lilin here.”

UrsusArctos
The Beginning and the End
The Beginning and the End
User avatar
Age: 32
Posts: 8669
Joined: Jun 28, 2007
Location: Visiting forum at random

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby UrsusArctos » Sat Jun 14, 2008 11:58 pm

Smith wrote:I'm back.


Okaeri nasai!

Edit: Since having a big IRC conversation on this won't be possible-

1. Bringing the Wisconsin and the whole bunch of Evas (And assorted weapons) into the battle together was excellent, although I doubt that something the size of Turel would be seriously hurt by 30mm DU rounds. A tungsten sabot round or even a normal base-fused AP round from the Wisconsin would hurt like hell, though.

2. Nice job with the A-10s. We now need Su-25s!

3. Shat and Tur make for a great team.

4. Gendo has gone down to thuggery, pulling out his CZ 75B in the middle of the canteen.

5. Shocking revelation upon shocking revelation. Fem-Kaworu makes a second appearance in Tenant. Misato must be pretty disturbed right now.

6. Swyer syndrome? Extremely interesting. :kaos_akuma:

7. Using Fuyu-bot's startup message was utterly hilarious.
Last edited by UrsusArctos on Sun Jun 15, 2008 2:25 am, edited 3 times in total.
[Became a moderator on December 31st, 2007. Became an administrator on September 7th, 2013.]
Not knowing that Monk is bi is like not knowing the Pope is Catholic - ZapX
You're either really bad at interpreting jokes or really good at pretending you are and I have no idea which.-Monk Ed
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

Jay911
Lilith
User avatar
Posts: 137
Joined: Aug 25, 2006
Location: Alberta
Contact:

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Jay911 » Sun Jun 15, 2008 12:00 am

Splendid return!
--j.

CyborgZeta
Adam
User avatar
Posts: 78
Joined: Oct 23, 2006

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby CyborgZeta » Sun Jun 15, 2008 2:42 am

“Stop!” I thrust out a hand. “Hammer time!”
:thumbsup:
"Without courage all virtues lose their meaning." - Winston Churchill

Indigo Arcangel
Sahaquiel
Sahaquiel
User avatar
Posts: 618
Joined: Jul 10, 2007
Location: Solihull, The UK

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Indigo Arcangel » Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:40 am

I just hope that the reason for Kaji's betrayal will be revealed in due course.
Normality is overrated

Kaworu/Asuka - give it a chance!
(Clarification - I still like Asuka/Shinji)

Mr. Tines
Administrator
Administrator
User avatar
Age: 62
Posts: 20450
Joined: Nov 23, 2004
Location: This sceptered isle.
Gender: Male
Contact:

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Mr. Tines » Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:55 am

Akira, Swyer syndrome ... Reichu's fingerprints are indeed evident on the sources for this fic. :D
Reminder: Play nicely <<>> My vanity publishing:- NGE|blog|Photos|retro-blog|Fanfics||MAL
Avatar: Mahou Shoujo Rapture Asuka : "Slice them up with your magical karambit, chu!"

Enki v.2
Lilin
Lilin
User avatar
Age: 32
Posts: 1464
Joined: Mar 08, 2008
Location: Twenty minutes into the f
Gender: Male
Contact:

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Enki v.2 » Sun Jun 15, 2008 9:10 am

If there was anything I was *not* expecting, it was probably Smith X Kaworu WAFF.

I have also forgotten how Smith got from the Zone to the chopper, and who Keiko is (well, I vaguely remember -- I don't remember Joyeuse) so either I missed a chapter, or I skipped/skimmed part of one. *needs to go back and reread*

Tabasco
Sachiel
User avatar
Posts: 211
Joined: Apr 27, 2007

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Tabasco » Sun Jun 15, 2008 10:21 am

”The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To speak of many things:
Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax,
Of cabbages and kings;
Of why the sea is boiling hot,
And whether pigs have wings.”
-- Lewis Carrol, The Walrus and the Carpenter

And I can just see the last of those revelations. Oh, by the way, in addition to all that other stuff, I'm not from this universe. Is that going to be a problem?

Anyway, for the battle scene I'd say it was about as good a demonstration of the fog of war as you could ask for, but I was a little fogged myself until I reread it. Not sure if it's just me or not, but thought I'd mention it.

I liked the twist you put on Kaworu (all -how- many of them? :) ) while he's by no means my favorite character it's nice to see him used as more than one last emotional disaster for Shinji.
---
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one insists on adapting the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
- George Bernard Shaw

BobBQ
Dyskolos
Dyskolos
User avatar
Posts: 4475
Joined: Jul 21, 2006
Location: Mother Base, Mitakihara Waters
Gender: Male

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby BobBQ » Sun Jun 15, 2008 12:06 pm

UrsusArctos wrote:4. Gendo has gone down to thuggery, pulling out his CZ 75B in the middle of the canteen.

Even Magnificent Bastards are not above the occasional panic attack.

Indigo Arcangel wrote:I just hope that the reason for Kaji's betrayal will be revealed in due course.

Next chapter.

Mr. Tines wrote:Akira, Swyer syndrome ... Reichu's fingerprints are indeed evident on the sources for this fic.

For the record, Swyer syndrome is my own contribution. Teh 'chu Did Not Want.

Enki v.2 wrote:If there was anything I was *not* expecting, it was probably Smith X Kaworu WAFF.

You make that sound so perverted.

Tabasco wrote:I liked the twist you put on Kaworu ... it's nice to see him used as more than one last emotional disaster for Shinji.

After what I did to the Committee members, would you expect anything else?

Enki v.2
Lilin
Lilin
User avatar
Age: 32
Posts: 1464
Joined: Mar 08, 2008
Location: Twenty minutes into the f
Gender: Male
Contact:

  •      
  •      
  • Quote

Postby Enki v.2 » Sun Jun 15, 2008 12:12 pm

BobBQ wrote:
Enki v.2 wrote:If there was anything I was *not* expecting, it was probably Smith X Kaworu WAFF.

You make that sound so perverted.


I think maybe you should end up with her. It would be something never before seen in fanfiction: a male SI ending up having a straight relationship with kaworu after mary-janing the entire plot through actually potentially understandable (read: not usual mary-jane/deus ex machina fare) actions.


Return to “Fanfiction”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests