Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Story)

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Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Story)

Post by VX-145 »

This is, as the title says, a STGOD 2020/21 fanfic. While I'm writing with established ships, characters and polities, I'll provide a short context section below this chapter so those not familiar don't have to go through the game threads. I have tried to give context clues where possible, but some things just don't fit in the text or even in the footnotes. Anyway, with that out of the way;

Chapter 1

“Reactor one coolant at 50 percent maximum temperature. Output is holding steady. Reactors two and three are coming online. Main linkages are green. All systems powered.”

“Main battery rails are charging, fabricators are set to mix three. Fire control has a lock on the target with 85.9935 percent rated accuracy. Secondary fire control is set to incoming fire denial. Lasers and turbolasers receiving power and ready to fire.”

“Shielding systems A through D are active and at nominal status. Active and re-active armour systems online. All bulkheads are sealed.”

“Fighter and SAR squadrons report they’re out of the area. Nothing from the target.”

“Thank Rei for that. Are they proceeding according to their operational schedule?”

“Yes. They began moving towards their main rally point three minutes behind schedule. They will commence operation in five minutes.”

“I thought they were supposed to be masters of precision and all that? Whatever. All stations have reported; this ship is clear for action. Just waiting on your word, Captain.”

Victoria sat forwards in her command cradle, eyes fixed on the forward window. She nodded, a sharp movement; “All hands to battle stations. Commence the operation.”

Alarms blared - rather redundantly - as the ship rumbled forwards, one hundred thousand tonnes of armour plate, cannons, engines, reactors, fuel tanks and other technical gubbinz drifting out from behind an asteroid with a grace an observer would be hard pushed to believe, if it weren’t happening in front of them. The Katerina Claes turned slightly, drifting to bring all its main battery to bear on the bulky target floating serenely ahead of it.

On the screen, the ship crossed a line on the map.

“Incoming fire!”

Victoria stood; “Reinforce forward shields!”

Five hundred missiles arced from behind another asteroid, splashing against the Claes’ shields. The whole ship shook with the impact… but the shields held. Just about.

“Shields at thirty-four percent, recharging.”

“All batteries! Commence fire!” That wasn’t doctrine. Interesting.

The force of the Claes’ thirty-two hypervelocity rifles firing would, in atmosphere, have been a deadly weapon in its own right; but in space, the shells they fired - a mix of solid shot, turbo-shot, and EMP-shot - would have to suffice.
“Target is going evasive!”

Victoria let one canine show in a savage smile. “Spin up the main gun. Authorisation code 66.”

Her crew shared a look. “Main gun spinning up, aye.”

“Reactor two linkages attached to accelerator coil.”

“Antimatter collection at .3 percent and rising. Estimated time to firing: two minutes.”

“Rounds impacting!”

Of the rounds fired, only the solid shot were unguided - and, given the four-kilometre length of their target, even some of those still hit. Hyperdense alloy penetrator met similarly-hyperdense armour, and tore through the first two layers, just in time for the turbo-shot shells, weaving and ducking through enemy defensive fire, to ripple-fire their warheads into the gaps; even this was barely enough for full penetration, let alone serious internal damage, but the next volley was already on its way. The EMP-shot turned out to be rather useless, however, their electronically-active warheads making them easy prey for the enemy’s point defence weapons.

“Shot-mix shifted to mix five.” Victoria nodded, unconsciously, at that - effectively, a straight solid-shot/turbo-shot mix.

“Target has fired a second volley!”

Missiles blossomed forth from the enemy craft, faster than she would have expected; they must have launched the first before even spotting the Claes. Another interesting thing.

“Fire the anchors!”

The ship’s masked guns - chosen for this task precisely because they would be masked - bore on a nearby section of hull plating from whatever ancient battle had rendered all of nearby space denuded of worlds, and fired.

Reconfiguring a combination railgun/missile launcher/explosive-propellant cannon into an oversized grappling hook might seem like madness on the face of it, but when one has a crew comprised of the engineering equivalent of Border Collies, “madness” becomes surprisingly realistic. Case in point: the pitons slammed home, lodging firmly into the ancient hull plating. The Claes’ engines fired, spinning both around each other - and then then pitons detached, hurling the multi-million tonne of exotic alloys towards the incoming missiles.

They were smart, and of course space is big - most tried to change course, swerving around the oncoming object, and a fair few even succeeded. Most, however, either did not have the fuel capacity to do so and still hit the Claes, or were simply too slow to react. Particularly, the heaviest anti-ship missiles were amongst the latter group, eliminating the most important threat at a stroke. The remainder were still enough to get one or two missiles through the screen of defensive flak, but they did barely anything to the Claes’ shields - and her second, third and fourth volleys had torn gaping holes in the enemy ship’s armour.

“Main gun charged!”

“Burn towards the enemy! I want to be sure of the kill!”

Getting a hard lock in the endless rocks was difficult even with the turreted guns; with the fixed-mount lance, they would have to close the distance or risk emptying into a harmless asteroid instead of the target. This, however, was a risk-

“Electromagnetic spikes on the target! Incoming railgun fire!”

Lots of it, at that; it seemed like every damn square inch of the thing had a railgun on it with all the incoming fire markers on the main screen.

“Shifting defensive fire to pattern-2!”

Luckily, the enemy’s cannon were not nearly as sophisticated as Endeavourite guns - they were mostly using solid-shot, a single one of which would still make a mess of the Claes if it hit unshielded hull, but they could be evaded - or shot down, as two clouds of flak-fire blossomed into existence between the two ships. Even with all that, though, quite a few got through - and more were coming.

“Shields at fifty percent - decreasing.”

“Estimated time until firing: ten seconds.”

“Shields at twenty-five percent!”

“Five seconds!”

“Shields collapsing!”

The whole ship shook as the first round slammed home, disabling the No.5 Main Battery turret. Then another hit, and another, and another-

“Main gun firing solution attained!”

Victoria had already turned the MASTER ARM key, so all she had to do was yell: “FIRE!”

She didn’t hear the click of the cannon’s particle acceleration circuit switching to the fire position, not with it being drowned out by the sound of tearing armour (one round scored a glancing hit on the bridge window, leaving a worrying crack in the thick, armoured glass), but she certainly heard the CHOOM of the turbolaser-encased antimatter streaking forth to strike the target. The beam connected the two ships for a moment, and then exploded within the enemy ship - which listed slowly to one side, trailing fire.

“...enemy fire terminated. Shields restoring.”

“Confirmed: one times Neokastro-class cruiser, destroyed. End the exercise.”

Victoria sat back in her chair. “Well done, everyone. Protos Agrippina, excellent work. How does it feel to be on Blue Team?”

“It is… most insightful,” the slight woman acting as her XO (normally a nonexistent position on Endeavour ships, but Victoria had felt like trying something new) said, her voice filtered slightly by the translation systems. “I must say, I was expecting some more exotic stratagems?”

“Gotta keep something up our sleeves,” was Victoria’s reply. “Besides, the classics are classic for a reason.”

“Message from the Theotita.* Kapetenos soi Pegasi sends his compliments and congratulations on an exercise well completed, and stipulates that the next exercise will be with auxiliary craft. He reports that his FTL system is fully charged and he wishes to accompany us back to base.”

“Very good. Take us to Hyperspace-2 and proceed at standard cruising speed back to Birmingham Hab.”

That was the last thing Victoria remembered before everything went to shit.

“Please seek shelter. A state of emergency has been declared throughout the Tokyo-3 Metropolitan Area. This phone is currently unavailable. We apologise for the inconvenience.”

Shinji Ikari stood on a pavement just outside a train station, staring blankly at the phone which, stubbornly, refused to change its tone. He turned, saw a strange girl standing in the middle of the street, was distracted by birds, and noticed that she was gone when he looked back.

Before he could investigate further, a giant… humanoid… thing? showed up, a bird-faced mask in the centre of its torso, just above an odd rib cage and a bright red orb. Gunships surrounded it - and fired off their weapons at once. The monster disappeared in a firestorm, but when the storm was over, it was unharmed.

It sang, a high-pitched choral scream, and reached one of its tri-clawed arms out as if to ward off one of the gunships. It worked, but only because a spear of purple light extended forth and impaled the offending craft. Shinji stared, transfixed at the sight, and almost didn’t notice when it floated towards him, landing just down the street with a crash. Luckily, before it could decide to kill him, some purple-haired woman showed up in a car and told him in no uncertain terms to get in.

That being the safest course of action, he did so, and then had to hold rather tight to the door handle as the woman put the car through its paces - and, given it was a high-end sports model, those were some thorough paces indeed.

Four odd fighter craft (but then, they were all odd to him) streaked past overhead, and the radio crackled to life. It took Shinji a moment to figure out what he was hearing, but it seemed to be what the pilots above were saying:

“Rouge** Two, try for the legs. Switch to bolas with the h-v-c, if that doesn’t work try nets. Three, see if you can’t disable an arm. Four, with me - we’ll take the core.”

“It’s not an AT-AT, lead, so don’t expect me to fly around its legs. HVC reconfiguring now.”

“Three here - switching to thermic lance rounds. You think Angel meat tastes good?”

“Four, following.”

“Sara 2, go to standard search pattern. 1, you have your targets. If it looks your way, you’ve got the engine power to dodge even in those tubs, so pay attention. Kleftis, stand by to commence operation.”

“On it, boss.”

“Reconfiguring undercarriage now. Remind me to refit the engines on this thing when we get back…”

“Parangelíes pou elífthisan kai anagnorístikan. Sto ónomá tous***.”

The purple-haired lady was trying to introduce herself, but she was entirely drowned out by what sounded like somebody throwing a can of nitroglycerine into an active washing machine, sixteen times overlapping. Fire rippled out from the fighter craft, and intersected with the monster.

Whatever those guns were, they didn’t seem too much more effective than the last lot. More interesting, certainly, one was firing cables and nets at the monster, but no visible damage resulted. The fighters peeled off, still firing at the monster, and swung back around for a second attack run.

“Well, they’re distracting it, at least,” the lady said. “Misato Katsuragi. You’re Shinji, right?” He nodded, ears still ringing slightly. “Do you still have the letter you were sent?”

He nodded again, pulling out the rather crumpled and torn letter. “What was that thing?”

“It’s a being we call an Angel.” She rooted around for something in the glove box - while still driving - and produced a small green notebook, with the word NERV emblazoned on the front. “Read this.”

“Sara 1 here. Got visual on target one. Moving to acquire.”

Another craft roared overhead, but this time, instead of passing, it kept pace with their car.

“Who the hell is that?” Katsuragi said, “That’s not one of-”

The car lurched suddenly, lifted into the air; Shinji held on for dear life as Katsuragi cursed. With a clank, metal arms folded around the car - and then they were rising even higher, above the buildings.

“Lady and gentleman, welcome to Thunderbird Airlines. Please keep all limbs inside the vehicle until the conclusion of the flight,” came over the radio - louder now, and the display read “YES I AM TALKING TO YOU”. “We will be arriving at our destination in just under one minute.”

Misato spluttered something incoherent, and then: “Put us down!”

“Relax, I’m just giving you a lift to where you were headed anyway. And this way, you don’t get caught in the blast radius of an N2 mine. Unless, y’know, you want that, in which case...”

“...A lift would be appreciated.”

Their captor(?) deposited them on a car elevator (which Shinji hadn’t even known existed until now, but that was getting to be an old feeling) before settling in on the spot right next to them. Misato’s incipient furious tirade at the pilot of the ship - which turned out to be remarkably sandwich-like, if a sandwich was made of metal, had guns, and also had a bulge on the top - was cut off by the fact that the pilot was a small pastel-coloured horse like creature with wings and bright orange hair.

“What the fuck?”

“That’s just rude,” the horse said, just as the elevator rumbled. “Alright, that’s the N2 mine dodged - anyway, so, I’m Spitfire, nice to meet you and so on and so forth. Oh, right, I had a script. One second.” It pulled a sheet of paper from nowhere and read, in a robotic tone: “I AM AN ALIEN INVADER FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION. TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER, EARTHLING, LEST I PROBE- seriously? This is my cover story?”

Shinji worked up enough mental fortitude to ask the obvious question: “What… are you?”

The horse looked up from its paper. “I’m human. Can’t you tell?”

Misato stared blankly. “What the fuck?”

Σαν κλέφτης, εξαφανίζουμε τη θέληση του πιστού να αντισταθεί**** hovered over the surface of Terra Eld, stealth systems engaged. His commander - one Anura apo Aftokratoria - paced, a habit they’d picked up from one of the dramas back home, clenching and unclenching their armoured fists.

“How much longer?” Anura asked, turning to the orange-armoured soldier waiting patiently at the hatch leading forwards to the main troop compartment - their only company on the otherwise-deserted bridge.

The Custodiant inclined his head. “Sara 2 reports no further civilians in the combat area. Rouge flight is re-massing and reports they will be ready to return to the combat area in six minutes. Sara 1 is ahead of schedule, but anticipates delays and estimates deployment of Unit 01 in thirty minutes to one hour. The operation will commence at that time.”

Anura narrowed their eyes, not that the Custodiant could see them through their helmet. They were used to Endeavourites being far less formal. “It’s just sitting there,” they said, gesturing at the hologram of the Angel standing, slowly healing in a large crater. “If we hit it now-”

“We would not even lay a single scratch upon it, and would reveal ourselves before we are ready. Patience, friend. I would storm the gates of the fortress below us alone, or engage the Angel in single combat, if I thought there was a chance of victory - but there is not.”

Anura bit back a reply; the Custodiant was right. They’d seen Rouge flight make pass after pass at the beast, before and after the N2 mine detonation, with no result; they didn’t even catch its attention. Still; to be this close, and no closer… “Tell me what you know of this beast again, while we wait.”

Gendo Ikari was not having a good day. This had been expected; today was the day of prophecy, and that would take a toll on his mind and body. He had not expected the appearance of strange objects out in the asteroid belt of the solar system, but that could be written off as something linked to the Angel’s arrival - the Scrolls were vague at best about their forms. He had even less reason to expect the sudden arrival of a half-dozen fighters, seemingly answering to none of the United Nations nor (as a frantic phone call had revealed) any of the myriad secret bodies that really ran the world. Then, one of them had abducted his fourth-in-command along with the pilot of Unit 01, only to drop them off exactly where they had been going in the first place.

He had not pinched himself to check if he was dreaming when the pilot of one of those fighters turned out to be a small equine. That would have let other people see weakness, and that was a fatal mistake in his line of work. He had bitten his tongue instead.

Now, he was standing above his fourth officer, the Unit 01 pilot, and the small equine, trying to remember what he had intended to say at this exact moment. The equine, he noted with dull surprise, had barely reacted at the reveal of Unit 01. It had, in fact, raised an eyebrow with slight disdain.

Alright. He could improvise. Looked like Katsuragi was about to get to the big reveal, so showtime. With a flick of his hand, he depolarised the window separating him from the pilot (whose reactions could be unpredictable).

“Correct,” he said, “Shinji will pilot it.”

“No he won’t. I can do it.”

Going Postal and Making Money had never been so much as drafted on this version of Earth, and yet Gendo came surprisingly close to Moist von Lipvig in terms of personal philosophy. Sometimes, everything went wrong in just the right way, and he could feel himself out-thinking reality itself, dancing on a tight-rope just one step ahead of the executioner’s blade. This was not one of those times.

He let Akagi try and dispute the horse’s assertion, to no avail: “Wh- You’re an alien!”

“We’ve been over this, I’m a human, from Earth. Just because it’s not this Earth and I’m not in a human body doesn’t change anything. I happen to have achieved a synchronisation score of twenty percent, and I’m the only qualified pilot in combat condition on the continent.”

You. Are. A. Horse,” Akagi ground out, which didn’t seem like a very good argument to Gendo - though he couldn’t come up with a better one himself at that moment. Maybe… no, that’d never work. But what - no, stupid idea.

“I’m a pony,” the horse countered, “A Pegasus pony, thank you very much.”

Right, this one should work. “You are not authorised to pilot the Evangelion.”

The pony shot him a look. “Really, now, that’s what you’re going with? You’re willing to let a child who, until literally a minute ago, did not even know the word Evangelion pilot one to fight - without training, or even a plan - a monster that is, as we speak, about three minutes from waking up and causing more havoc. The talking pegasus, on the other hoof,” (Gendo winced) “who says she’s piloted one before, and has a plan for killing that monster, she’s not allowed? Anyone else find that a bit odd?”

Of course. The pony was playing to the crowd - in this case, the techs making Unit 01 ready to launch, and the bridge crews behind Gendo. They looked… split. Even Katsuragi had a puzzled look on her face, but then the pony had gone right for the metaphorical jugular by focussing on fighting the Angel.

“We could try it?” Katsuragi ventured, after a moment. “If she doesn’t synchronise…”

“She won’t, the system isn’t set up for... ponies.” Akagi was dangerously close to revealing that Unit 01 was specifically set up for Shinji, which would probably go about as well as lighting a cigarette on the Hindenburg with a flamethrower, but that was their last card.

So of course the pony just waved a hoof. “Don’t worry about that. I can set that up on the fly, if need be. Get it? Because I can fly?”

Gendo made up his mind. He was going to shoot that pony, right in its face. Of course, the Angel had other concerns; the roof shook, a twisted beam of metal and concrete hurtling down towards the clustered figures on the catwalk-

Only to be blasted apart by a ruby-red energy bolt, which Gendo traced to a bulky-looking gun held, somehow, at the tip of one of the pony’s forehooves. Making eye contact with Gendo, the pony flicked the gun down, extracted a fist-size cartridge from the barrel, and replaced it.

“We don’t have time for this.”

“Reset Unit 01 to blank uplink configuration,” he ordered, and turned on his heel before any more ridiculousness could arise.

“Sara 2 reports deployment of Unit 01 imminent,” Flight Leader Wedge Antilles spoke, brisk and precise, into his helmet microphone. “By the numbers, people - when she neutralises the enemy AT field, Kleftis will engage. Rouge flight, we’ll be backup.”

A chorus of affirmative responses flooded back, and he let his mind drift. What would happen once the Angel was dead? Wedge was sure there’d be some conflict - it was inevitable. Those in charge of Earth had diametrically opposed goals to the Theophanic contingent of their impromptu expeditionary force, let alone how much they’d disagree with the Endeavour half.

He’d fought other living beings before. He’d rather not have to again - but he would, if he had to.

“Unit 01 taking the field. Surprise, motherfucker!”

From his vantage point atop one of the mountains overlooking the city (a real mountain, on Old Earth!), he saw a street open up, vomiting forth a purple-and-green titan just metres away from the Angel, which was just entering the city. He could not see the resulting short clash of AT fields, but his sensors could - and they told him the Angel no longer had an active one. Bashing apart an enemy AT field with one’s own would normally be a risky move - better to pierce it instead, so that you might have your own defenses active.


“Commence operation,” Wedge ordered - and a second later, his cockpit canopy polarised to maximum darkness as the Kleftis’ engines lit and the craft surged forwards.

There were several competing schools of thought regarding the design and construction of Theophanic Imperial kleptoi boarding craft. Some believed that heavy armour and firepower would allow the craft to reach its target. Others preferred stealth. soi Pegasi, in outfitting the Theotita, had chosen a different approach. Their craft was to hide as enemy ships closed - and then sprint towards them, relying not on chainsaw-bows or laser-cutters to pierce the enemy hull… but a single, razor-sharp ram bow.

To put the following events as an observer (with really good sunglasses) might have seen: a one hundred and fifty metre long ship, looking for all the world like a knight’s tournament lance, rocketed towards the Angel from the bay. It broke the speed of sound and went hypersonic within the first second of its burn*****, and by the time it reached the Angel it was going fast enough that the bow was starting to burn with shock heating. The ram tip, some five centimetres across and forged of hyperdense exotic material, impacted directly onto the Angel’s core. Sachiel - as the Angel was designated - would have been able to survive the impact had it had its AT field engaged. It did not, and so it did not.

The Kleftis, on the other hand, emerged from the other end of the Angel entirely undamaged. Not that there was much of an Angel left to emerge from. Its computer (since Anura was unconscious) angled the bow up, and within a minute the craft was well outside NERV or the UN’s detection range.

Wedge, barely having had time to polarise and then de-polarise his canopy, thumbed the switch to the long-range comms suite:

“Angel destroyed. Operation complete.”

“Operation complete.” Victoria barely heard the words, hip-deep as she was in the bowels of a Theophanic fire suppression system that had decided that the ship being on fire was, in fact, the desirable state of affairs. Nevertheless, she pinged a quick “job well done” emote back across the comms channel, before forcing one of the valves open with a wrench of her arms.

That, at last, fixed the damn thing, or at least broke it in a useful way; she heard the foam rush through the pipes, and the distinctive f-chshhh of it being emptied into the next compartment over (which had previously been on fire).

Which, if nothing had exploded in the last couple of minutes, meant that her task list was empty. Sure enough, there was nothing left for her to fix in this section of the Theotita. Letting out a long sigh, she slumped backwards, leaning against the access panel to the foam system she’d just been working on, and let her mind drift.

The damage from whatever the bloody fuck had happened wasn’t just constrained to the Theotita; her own Claes still bore a gash along her dorsal surface, which had disabled most of her main battery; had the wound been just a little lower, it would have destroyed all six of her SAR craft, which would have been a much harsher loss. As it was, the wounds to the Theophanic cruiser were far deeper; one of the internal ammunition lockers had exploded, setting alight an area the size of the Claes, and a full third of the ship’s complement - ten thousand people - were injured, missing, or dead. Victoria’s own ship had taken practically no fatalities - one or two spacers were chilling out in the ship’s computer systems, but they’d get themselves a new body as soon as the situation stabilised - but most of her crew was injured, knocked out cold in The Event and still unconscious. She’d barely had the pilots to scrape together a recon flight out to the local planet in search of help.

Which had turned out to be Earth.

Not just any Earth, either, but one with a UN, a NERV, presumably a SEELE though for obvious reasons there was precious little evidence of their existence, and of course, Angels. So, not the Earth that would send out the colony fleets that would become the star nations of Endeavour, the Theophanic Empire or the Republic of Nashtar (and whatever Amazo-X counted as), but one with which Victoria (and any Endeavourite who had not spent the past three-and-a-half centuries living under a rock) was familiar with. Which, to put it in the words of her gunnery officer, was a kick in the head.

Still, she had a vague plan sketched out, having talked it over with those of her crew that were awake and the officers of the Theotita: fix the ships, establish a base of operations somewhere useful and generally ruin anyone’s day whose day needed ruining.

Victoria was just beginning to nod off when her comm channel chirped: “Captain, there’s an electrical fault alert stopping us from sealing off compartments 34-A through 44-A. Could you check it out and clear it?”

Step one, it seemed, would be a while yet.

*The ship's full name being To oristikó epicheírima gia ti theótitá tous eínai aftó to néo kástro tis pístis ston theó mas, or “The definitive argument about their divinity is this new castle of the faith in our god”, or - in actual Greek writing - Το οριστικό επιχείρημα για τη θεότητά τους είναι αυτό το νέο κάστρο της πίστης στον θεό μας

**this is intentional. It’s Rouge.

***Or, rather: Παραγγελίες που ελήφθησαν και αναγνωρίστηκαν. Στο όνομά τους.

****Kleftis, for short.

*****Normally, such accelerations would have turned the crew to a fine red paste - but the Kleftis had been the lucky recipient of a full suite of Endeavour inertial-dumping mechanisms. This meant the crew was merely knocked unconscious, with the automatic systems kicking in to keep the craft on its course.

Context Catch-up Corner!

Endeavour: One of the human polities in STGOD 2020/21, which - aside from one - all descend from a now-dead Earth. Sent out originally as a test of Amazo-X's mind-upload technology, the colony fleet that would become Endeavour suffered from rapid existential failure somewhere along its journey, and the passengers only woke back up after about three thousand, six hundred and fifty years "asleep" in the computer systems. Now, it's a nation of void-dwelling anime-obsessed post-human anarchists. Despite their relatively late start, their kind-of-but-not-really immortality and general attitude towards machines and technology allows them to keep pace with - and in some areas, out-strip - other polities technologically. Their ships and other weapons tend to be compact, with extremely high firepower density. Also, they're played by me!

The Theophanic Empire: One of the other human polities, and also a descendent of Earth. This time, the fleet reached its destination safely, only to fragment politically. After a period of social upheaval, a sect of the Empire managed to convince the nobility (for they had developed a nobility) to contribute their genetic seed to create a god-emperoress. They're generally Greek-flavoured, and use massive ships - the Neokastro-class cruiser is fully four kilometres long, bow to stern, and it is far outstripped by other vessels in the fleet. However, while they're not lacking in technological sophistication, their ships lack direct long-range ship-to-ship weapons, relying instead on boarding craft (Kleptoi) to seize enemy vessels. Size still matters, of course; while an Endeavour cruiser out-performs the Theophanic equivalent, it's not by much. Played by Elheru Aran in the game.

Amazo-X: A merger between Earth's two richest people led to one corporation having effective control over most of Old Earth. They left most of the governments still intact - indeed, even though Earth has been lost for four thousand years in the modern age in-game, they still claim to be operating under the jurisdiction of the United States of America - but funded most of the efforts to evacuate the planet before whatever happened to it... happened. This was not for altruistic reasons; most of those fleets were experiments of one sort or another. In the modern age, they're mostly a foot-note, their warships being relatively obsolete and their economic influence limited by the fact that everyone remembers how much of a collosal dick they were on Earth. Shortly after the Endeavour colonists "woke up", Amazo-X tried to genocide them, so there's bad blood there. They, along with the Republic of Nashtar (played by Rogue 9), the UISC (played by Crossroads, Inc.) or the Haruhiist Empire (played by Shinn Langley Soryu), will probably not appear in this fanfic.
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Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Story

Post by VX-145 »

Chapter 2

POWER.......... OK

Spitfire slowly became aware she was aware. Everything ached; her hooves, her head, and especially her back. Then, she remembered why, and groaned. Ramming the Angel with the Kleftis had seemed like a good idea right up until she’d realised that she would be right next to what was, effectively, a mile-long explosion.

It had looked cool, though.

She opened her eyes, blinking away some grime that had accumulated, and sat up, which produced an odd tearing noise. She was in an unfeasibly large hospital room, in the sole bed. That made sense. One of her forehooves had a metal bracelet around it - which had been linked by chains to a similar one attached to the low rail around the bed. Had been, because she’d broken the chain when she sat up. Did she need to fix that? Her internal fabricator was offline, so it would have to wait. It probably wasn’t important.

A man in a black suit opened the door (which slid open with a neat hiss), took one look at Spitfire, and started talking into his wrist. Something about “escaped custody”? Then he drew a pistol, and aimed it at Spitfire.

“Don’t move,” the man ordered.

Rude. “I’ll move if I want to, thank you very much. What, you’re going to shoot your valuable alien prisoner and explain why you did to your boss?” To emphasise the point, Spitfire stretched out her forehooves. “Not that keeping me prisoner is a good idea either. I’ve signalled for backup.” Well, she actually hadn’t - but she did that now, routing a quick “hey i need help” message out to her ship, which it turned out had been carried back to the surface via the car elevator she’d left it on.

It took a second or two for the man to work up a reply: “I’ll shoot you if I have to.”

Booting up Sara 2’s “return to pilot” function was simple enough… but there was the small problem of some 22 layers of remarkably advanced armour plating between her and Sara 2. She puzzled over whether or not to try intruding into the NERV internal network before realising that the elevator had a button panel. From there, she set the ship’s internal aufab* up to build a simple drone, and set a task in the drone’s queue to push the button when it was complete. That would take a while, though.

“Yeah, good luck with that.” That was a bit of a bluff; she’d been divested of her armoured flight suit and helmet, and even those would have only stopped the first couple of bullets. Not that her erstwhile captor knew that… hopefully.

“That will not be necessary,” Gendo motherfucking Ikari himself walked into the room, with Ritsuko Akagi trailing a step behind. Spitfire momentarily considered that she could probably save everyone a whole lot of trouble by just killing the bastard here and now, but counseled herself patience. Without a weapon, there was no guarantee that she’d actually bag him.

“Is this how you greet all the ladies?” she said instead, “It wouldn’t surprise me. Having them tied to a bed is probably the only way you can get them to talk to you.” She blinked. “Sorry, I was going for a James Bond sort of witty repartee and that came out a lot harsher than I thought it would.”

While Ritsuko bristled, Gendo brushed off the comment. “You will tell me where you came from.”

Spitfire rolled her eyes. “Earth. How many times do I have to tell you?” Her bot rolled out of Sara 1, and hit the switch to send the elevator down.

Ritsuko stepped forwards, holding a clipboard in one hand. “Two objects appeared in the asteroid belt, and exactly six hours and forty-three minutes later, you and your ships arrived. Obviously, you came from those objects. Where did they come from?”

“That depends.” Her ship was still a while out, the elevator taking its sweet-ass time. So, time to stall.


“On how you define “came from”. Do you mean the shipyards in which they were built? The base from which we set off? The polities which created and operated them? Or the universe from which we were yeeted unceremoniously? Because some of those are fractal questions.”

“All of that, in order,” Ritsuko said, glaring at Spitfire. “And then explain why you saw fit to melt the entirety of downtown Tokyo-3 in addition to all the armour plating on Unit 01’s back.”

Spitfire yawned, consciously stretching out her wings in addition to her forehooves. She’d probably need the former pretty quickly. “Well, I don’t know where one of them was built, but the other… the weapons were built at the Naval Arsenal in Endeavour, but they were fitted to the hull at Fapping-Upon-Busom shipyard, and the ship itself was named and crewed by the Inner Belt Hab Collective. See, fractal questions. Polity-wise, one’s from Endeavour and the other from a place called the Theophanic Empire, and I have no classification system for different universes so I can’t tell you anything beyond “it’s not this one”.” She cocked her head. “As to our battle plan, I’ll not be taking criticism from the people whose bright idea it was to nuke the giant monster - because that never fucking works - and whose backup plan was to shove a child into a semi-sentient biomechanical affront to God.”

“Are we to expect any more people from your… universe… arriving?” Ritsuko pressed on with the interrogation, ignoring the provocation bundled up in Spitfire’s answers. Impressive, really.

“I don’t know. This wasn’t planned, if that’s what you’re asking.” Spitfire hoped that the people back home would be able to figure out what had happened, but there was no guarantee there.

“You were familiar with NERV, Project E and the test unit. Did they exist on your Earth?”

“Probably not.” Things would have gone differently, if they had.

“Would you like to explain where that familiarity came from?”

Yeah, that wasn’t happening. “Not really, no.” A message popped up on her HUD - OPEN AREA REACHED, ENGINES IGNITING. “To be honest, I’m getting a little sick of answering these questions.”

“We can move on to the vivisection if you’d prefer.” The doctor’s tone was ice cold.

A deep, rumbling, sputtering roar saved Spitfire the hassle of coming up with some witty remark. She glanced out the window, to see her Sara 2 drop from a hole in the Geo-Front roof and make a bee-line directly for them. An alarm started blaring, but the fighter was upon them before anyone could react, shattering the window into millions of fragments with its shockwave.

“Well,” Spitfire said, hopping out of the bed, “This is my ride.”

“Shoot her,” Gendo ordered, and the guard fired with commendable accuracy, given his arm was torn to bloody ribbons, only for the round to spark uselessly off her ship’s shield bubble. Spitfire jumped, and with a flutter of her wings was perched just above the cockpit.

More rounds hit the shields, and for a brief moment Spitfire considered just cutting loose with the main guns - until she realised they were loaded with a mix of fire suppression foam rounds, vacuum survival kits, hull repair foam and broad-spectrum radio tags. In other words, nothing that would actually kill**.

She shrugged, and fired them anyway; the look on Gendo’s face just before a vacuum survival kit bonked him on the head was well worth it.

It had taken fourteen hours to finally extinguish the last, guttering flame in the Theotita’s bowels. They’d had a pallet of ancient incendiary warheads, loaded half a millennium ago and completely forgotten about, in the magazine that had been so disastrously damaged. Needless to say, incendiaries designed to burn through solid armour plate in the vacuum of space had been extremely difficult to deal with. In the end, it had taken the attention of the Claes’ Magical Girl team to sort out - and they’d done so by throwing the entire offending compartment into a dedicated nether-space storage pocket.

Which left the impromptu expeditionary force with one Endeavourite Kitsune-class cruiser with a damaged particle beam lance, one Theophanic Neokastro-class cruiser down a full quarter of its ammunition and missing half its main engines, six AW-7 Bodkin fighters (four of which were currently fucking about on Earth), six AW-3S Bilobate SAR craft (two of which were ibid), three kleptoi boarding craft of the same basic stealth-ram type (of the original twenty, thanks to the aforementioned eternal fire), and not quite enough crew to staff all of them.

As such, a permanent base was sorely needed, leading to a conference call between the awake members of the Claes’ crew and the surviving command staff of the Theotita; the Earthside members of both being left temporarily out of the loop.

Well, that was originally why the call was started. When Victoria joined, though, the centrepiece was one of the images taken from the away force of Earth - particularly focussed on the south pole, which had a rainbow-coloured black hole in place of a continent.

“I have questions,” Kapetenos (Captain) soi Pegasi intoned, his thin, reedy voice incongruous with his large frame - both belying the man’s general popularity with those who served under him.

“You’ve seen the material I highlighted?” Victoria asked, “Specifically, the Rebuild films?”

“I have, and if the Kleftis’ hull wasn’t covered in bits of giant monster, I wouldn’t believe they could possibly be relevant. I understand you know about as much of the situation as I do - your helmslady was quite thorough in her briefing - but tell me: was it really an accident that we ended up here?”

Victoria met the good Captain’s gaze. “Endeavour - as a polity - nor my crew intended for this to happen, if that’s what you’re asking. Otherwise, it might not be; the upper layers of hyperspace are heavily influenced by concepts originating in base-level reality. If we were thrown up there…” she shrugged, “Or it could be Q.”

“The catch-all term for “unknown godlike entity fucking with humanity”,” Rei (not that one, the Claes’ tactical officer) helpfully supplied.

“I can accept that,” soi Pegasi said, leaning forwards in his command throne. “I suppose I’ll have to get the rest of my answers direct from the source. Moving on - where in the local area would work best for your construction equipment?”

Victoria swept the picture of Ruined Earth off the central window, and replaced it with a map of the solar system - zoomed in to show the two ships’ current positions and the Mars sub-system. “Anywhere with a sufficient amount of raw material would be feasible,” she said, “But in our version of the Solar System, Mars was noted for having a wide variety of mineral resources easily accessible - though not in overly great quantities. Having ores to work with would speed up construction efforts significantly.” She swiped again, this time highlighting the moons. “Of course, we can hardly have the Theotita land on the surface with his current level of damage. So, we’ll send mining teams down, and build our facility on Phobos. Within a few months, we should have a decently-sized shipyard to work with - if we had the crews, we could even start expanding the fleet.”

One of the Theophanic third-line officers (whose name Victoria had yet to catch) interjected: “And how long will it take to repair the Το οριστικό επιχείρημα για τη θεότητά τους είναι αυτό το νέο κάστρο της πίστης στον θεό μας?”

“That depends on what resources we can find. Optimistically, call it two weeks total, including transit time. More realistically, probably a whole month.” Victoria made an apologetic face. “Normally, it’d be a lot faster, but without established facilities and with our own repair needs…”

“A month will be fine,” Protos (roughly, executive officer) Agrippina cut in. “And we’ll require the base for further operations in the system. Now, on to the latest casualty reports…”

Rei Ayanami opened her eyes, staring directly at the hospital room’s ceiling. There was some pain, but it wasn’t important. The room was a different one than the one she had occupied last time she’d drifted out of the opiate-induced haze, but that was not important either. She turned her head; the glasses were still there. That was important.

“She has awoken.”

Rei sat up and looked around for the source of the words, and could not see any people in the room. The movement caused some pain, but that was not important. A slight whirring sound drew her attention to one of the machines - a mass of blue-and-white painted metal, and it was only when her eyes caught on an immense, six-barrelled gun that she realised it wasn’t a piece of hospital equipment. The gun was attached to a bulky, angular box, with stumpy legs and a wide, four-fingered arm on the other side; she locked eyes on a slit on the torso, and for a brief moment there were eyes looking back at her.

“Do not be alarmed.”

That definitely came from the machine. The top of its body was just touching the ceiling, and she wondered how it had entered the room before deciding that it wasn’t important. It had entered the room.

The door slid open, but instead of the expected nurse or the vaguely-hoped-for Commander, a remarkably average-looking man in an orange flight suit walked in instead. A second later, an older version of… herself? walked in, this one in a more typical nurse’s uniform - though she did not recognise the various decorations (aside from a red cross) or the exact style.

“Really sorry about this,” the simulacra said, gesturing to herself, “But I’m the best medic on the team, and the nearest replacement is about three hundred million kilometres away. Yes, I’m Rei Ayanami, no, I’m not you. If it helps at all, think of me as Rouge 4.” The other Rei produced a bag, and from the bag produced a stethoscope. “Can I examine you?”

Rei nodded; there was no reason to refuse. Rouge 4 stepped forwards, and placed the stethoscope on Rei’s arm, which was not how they were normally used but maybe this was a new technique. A minute passed in silence, the orange-suited man standing at ease as Rouge 4 worked. The machine stayed still, as well. Then, Rouge 4 removed the stethoscope, and straightened up.

“Alright,” she said. “I guess I’ll have to wait for your caretaker - I can’t leave you in this condition. You have more broken bones than intact, for Chris’ sake.***”

“You’re staying, then?” the man by the door asked.

Rouge 4 cast a look at the man. “Someone’s got to. I’ll have Brother Somnius to back me up.”

There was an extremely loud roar, and Rei instinctively covered her ears. Then, there was an odd staccato splat-ping-splat sound, and the man by the door winced. “That’s my cue to g-t-f-o. You set on staying?”

Rouge 4 didn’t respond verbally, just nodding and producing a camping stool from… thin air? With a look back into the room, the man left.

In a darkened chamber, a group of seven men sat around a table. At one end, sat Keel Lorenz, and at the other, Gendo Ikari. “The destruction wrought upon the Test Unit, and the devastation of Tokyo-3. These, when weighed against the defeat of the Angel, are still a heavy cost to bear - to say nothing of the attention of these… interlopers. Explain yourself, Ikari.”

“The Angel was defeated, and no major deviation from the path was observed. While extensive, the damage to both the city and Unit 01 are more than mitigated by the opportunities presented by the newcomers.” Gendo unconsciously raised a hand to his head; the bruise inflicted upon him had definitely been a fair price for the technological wonder that had inflicted it. He would soon be beyond such things, of course, but they would make his position all the more secure.

“Were you able to get anything from those who visited you?” that was from one of the lesser members, sitting off on Keel’s right hand. “Before they managed to escape, that is.”

Gendo ignored the slight. “There seems to be two distinct groups involved; whether they are firm allies, or temporarily working together in order to overcome the predicament they have found themselves in, remains to be seen.” He had learned a lot more than that, of course, but the old men would be told exactly what they needed to be told and not a single syllable more.

“A dividing strategy could work,” mused the man to Gendo’s immediate left, “It would certainly prevent them interfering more with the Work, and allow us to reap the benefits of their technology.”

“The most troubling thing is their apparent familiarity with Project E, NERV, and the Angels,” intoned Keel. “You must discern where this knowledge comes from. We cannot afford an antagonistic force this close to Completion. To that end - do not antagonise them further. Attempt a reconciliation with the one you drove off.”

“Of course. If that’s all?”

“You are dismissed, Ikari.”

Four hours, forty-four minutes and forty-three seconds after the last conversation lapsed, the Commander arrived to check on Rei****. He opened the door, did a double-take at the sight of Brother Somnius in the corner, and then caught sight of Rouge 4 (who was, at that point, asleep on the floor, having produced a futon from one of Brother Somnius’ boxes). He looked at Rei, and then back at Rouge 4, and then back at Rei. Then, he stepped out of the room, and closed the door.

Two minutes and eighteen seconds later, he re-opened the door, and let out a deep sigh at the sight of Rouge 4, who was still lying half-asleep on the floor.

“Interloper. Begone.” Brother Somnius rumbled to life, clacking its claw together and rotating the barrels of its autocannon.

“Relax,” Rouge 4 said, now standing. “It’s just Commander Ikari - I’m sure he’s not a threat.” Brother Somnius snorted in derision, but settled back down. “I was waiting for you to show up - told your staff we were waiting and everything. So, I’m medic-certified by the Lower East Side Collective Medical Board, and I thought since you had an injured kid I’d take a look at her.” From there, she launched into a brief explanation of the injuries she’d found earlier, and the treatments she’d recommend.

Rei found that explanation rather difficult to follow, and it wasn’t important. Then, there were the risks: “Of course, this does come with some risks. While I can use injected auto-targeting cauterising nanobots, there’s still a low risk involved with that process - one in every two hundred and thirty-six million - of the bots missing their target and burning healthy flesh. Any damage thus incurred has, in all the cases observed, been repaired shortly afterwards by the stem cell injections…” and she continued on like this for a while, listing off a risk of the treatment options, a mitigating factor and a way to fix the damage should the danger eventuate. Rei lost track after the third or fourth such cycle, but the Commander at least remained focussed.

Eventually, the list ended, and it was time for the Commander to decide. “...why are you Rei?” he asked.

“I don’t know. Why are you Gendo?” Rouge 4 riposted. (Rei had read that word in a book and had not yet had the opportunity to use it in its proper context). Then: “I just appeared one day, next to the number 6 forward railgun mount of an old destroyer. That’s the story. It happens.”

“Lo! A Child appears
From secret shores
To guide, or be guided.”

Rei looked over at the machine, which had rumbled those words.

“Don’t quote scripture at these people,” Rouge 4 said, sharply, “They’re confused enough as it is. You’ll have to excuse Brother Somnius; he’s somewhat of a fanatic, but his heart’s in the right place.”

There was utter silence for eighteen seconds, punctuated only by Brother Somnius slumping back down into a rest position. “You will conduct this treatment under Doctor Akagi’s supervision. If she tells you to stop, you will stop.”

Rouge 4 clicked her fingers into a thumbs-up sign. “Got it. Do you have a spare room I can sleep in, ‘cos I think I’ve intruded on Rei’s company long enough?”

Gendo motioned to the door. “This way.” He cast a glance at Brother Somnius. “Is that staying there?”

“I will relocate.”

The machine stomped towards the door, brushing past Gendo and turning sideways to get its bulk through the door. Finally, she was alone with her thoughts.

WIth the rail lines out of Tokyo-3 out of commission - along with the highways, and any navigable water routes, and the vast majority of footpaths - Shinji had been obligated to stay a while in the city. Luckily, Misato - as the purple-haired lady insisted on being called - had offered to put him up as long as necessary. Unluckily, that meant braving what few roads had survived (or had been repaired since the battle) and Misato’s driving.

Truthfully, the devastation didn’t seem too bad; most of the buildings under the ship’s flight path were still little more than flecks of molten rubble across the surrounding mountains, but replacements had already been built for a fair number of them, and the rest of the city had barely been affected. A few of the (smaller) strange alien ships criss-crossed the city every so often, braving the thunderstorm that had raged since the battle to spray something on the ground - it wasn’t until they came to a recently-sprayed patch that Shinji realised they were repairing the roads.

Just as they were pulling into Misato’s apartment car park, one of the ships burst out from behind a mountain and arced up into space. He didn’t see what happened next, the car park being underground, and by the time he’d hauled the metric ton of Doritos, instant ramen and beer (all branded with a promotion for some gacha game) up to the woman’s door he didn’t really have the mental bandwidth to contemplate the odd event.

The apartment itself was an utter mess, and Misato was called away by a phone call, so Shinji set about tidying up a little before they ate - and, seeing as Dr. Akagi had taken the time to warn him specifically about Misato’s cooking, took the opportunity to take over instead. It was a thank-you for taking care of him, that should be okay… right?

Misato finished her phone call right when dinner was ready - which was not a co-incidence, she’d actively hung up with the words “gotta go now, dinner’s ready” - and took a seat opposite him.

“That was Ritsuko,” she said, after downing a beer with a yell that Shinji was reasonably sure the entire apartment complex heard, “That pony flew away, and they’re going to need someone to pilot Unit 01 for tests. You up for it? It pays!”

Shinji considered the offer, and - not having just had his eye gouged out by a laser-coated spike wielded by the unthinking remnant of an ancient alien race dead set on merging with its progenitor - said; “Sure.”

CC: list:TECHDIV-3
RE: Preliminary Alien Artefact Analysis
ATTCH: details.doc, details.xls

In order of most-examined to least-examined artefacts. I have implemented a system to show which artefact comes from which alien polity with the designation E (for Endeavour) or T (for the Theophanic Empire). Note that none of the latter's artefacts have yet been recovered; analysis of their technology will come in the later "observations" report.

Biological Samples from Subject-SP01 (“Spitfire”), (E):

NERV Medical provided TECHDIV with samples of SP01’s tissue. This tissue, when examined, originally bore no similarity whatsoever with any known living creature except our theoretical model of Angel biology. The subject’s musculature and body tissue was fundamentally indistinguishable from each other and their skin - note this does not extend to the subject’s organs, which we detected using conventional radiographical imaging. The subject does not appear to possess a skeletal structure - this could be an adaptive advantage, given their occupation as a pilot of extremely high-acceleration spacecraft. Genetically, DNA sequencing revealed that the subject is a chimera of multiple different species, including Falco peregrinus and, of course, Homo sapiens. Notably, outside of commonalities, no genetic material was present from Equus ferus caballus. The tissue itself features numerous external enhancements (ala MARDUK’s proposed Neo-Spartan Programme): self-sealing blood vessels, adaptive proteins, fibre-optic nerve links, and a high quantity of nanotechnology - including active task-focussed nanites. The presence of this latter element forced TECHDIV to incinerate the sample and all potentially-contaminated material in order to prevent a runaway grey goo scenario in light of the aliens’ manufacturing capabilities.

There was also some genetic damage present consistent with aging and existing in a high-radiation environment, but this was confined to the Homo sapiens sections of genetic code. Estimating the subject’s age using this information is, however, impossible without access to further material.

Taken together, this implies that the subject was a baseline human up until a point of indeterminate time ago, at which point they became their current form through means unknown. This, along with other data (see Medical Technology below) implies a level of sophistication with biology bordering on complete mastery. This means that the aliens can take non-human forms (as was obvious before), but the limits on this are unknown; it is unlikely that they can alter their form at will without outside assistance, and given the presence of organs, it is unlikely they can exist below or above a certain size threshold.

Please inform SECDIV head that the likelihood of “microscopic life expanding to Evangelion size inside our base and slaughtering us all” is low.

Flight Suit and Helmet, belonging to SP01, (E):

SP01’s flight suit consisted of three major components: outer armoured shell pieces, covering their barrel (the technical term for the underside of a horse), flanks, and fore-sections of all four of their legs; an inner suit akin to our plug suits, and a helmet.

Of these, the armoured shell pieces are of the least interest. They contain connection ports, presumably to link the pilot to their craft (ala early plug suits), along with mounting points for various accoutrements, and otherwise are inert. The armour itself is a composite; the outer layer being a 25mm layer of ceramic, backed by another 25mm of carbon nanotube weave, backed by a 15mm layer of cushioning gel (specifically, a heretofore-unknown type of fungus immersed in water) and a 10mm layer of soft plastic. Testing revealed that the armour would stand up to repeated 9mm, 5.56mm and 7.62mm standard lead ball fire, with breakdown occurring somewhere around the 100-round mark for all three - though the wearer would likely suffer internal shock damage from the repeated impacts. Testing against different rounds, higher-calibre weapons, or non-conventional weaponry was impossible, see below.

The inner suit bears multiple similarities to our plug suits, superficially and in its capability to contract to fit the wearer. Unlike our suits, this is accomplished not through vacuum-seal and memory-fabric, but through each fibre making up the suit being chains of small electromechanical cells. When powered, these cells respond to various electrical inputs (see detailed report attached), retracting, relaxing and even breaking to form new threads. They are also capable of transmitting power and digital information, at unknown rates. This material is also cut-resistant, able to resist 10,000g of cutting load unpowered (and an unknown load when powered), and stab-proof.

Two built-in attachments came with the inner layer. One of these was a built-in power supply, and the other was a fabrication device. Both were identified by labels in English and Katakana.

The power supply was an oblong box, measuring 15cm by 5cm by 10cm, weighing 125 grammes. Given the power spike it exhibited when we first attempted to disassemble it, we decided instead to disassemble the fabricator. Bear in mind that the power supply is capable of powering all components of the flight suit for extended periods independently; this puts a lower limit on its endurance and generation capacity. The spike observed reached a full gigawatt of power output, but average generation is estimated to be approximately 20MW, and it would likely be able to operate for at least a day in order to be of any use in a survival situation. Unfortunately, due to the events described below, we were unable to ascertain any further details about its operation.

The fabrication device was a cylinder with a radius of 10cm and depth of 15cm, weighing two kilogrammes. When we tried to disassemble it, the device activated, drawing on the power supply. It proceeded to convert the inner suit, the remaining sections of outer armour, and then both itself and the power supply into a packaged ham sandwich. The resulting packaging was branded “TESCO Value! Simply Ham” (see photos) and listed the sandwich’s ingredients and nutritional information on the back, along with a customer service email address and a phone number (again, see attachment). Attempts to reach either of these have failed; the number is out of service and the email address does not exist. The sandwich itself consisted of two slices of white bread, buttered with margarine spread, cut in half and with chopped ham arranged near the mouth of the resulting sandwiches (i.e. in view of the clear plastic view window).

Fortunately, the helmet had been removed for testing elsewhere, and survived the incident. Structurally, the helmet is made up of the same materials as the armoured outer shell, with a second layer of dry cushioning (the fungus used in the gel, sans water) and electronic components. The faceplate, interestingly, seems to be some sort of transparent steel inlaid with a transparent version of their smart fibres; how this was accomplished is unclear, but this means the faceplate is less of a weakness than originally thought.

What few solid electronic components are present are of staggering complexity compared to Earth-built analogues. While we have not yet taken the helmet apart due to concerns over its irreplaceability, non-invasive scans (utilising technology repurposed from Type-22 Angel biopsy equipment) show that the helmet is equipped with a processor half as capable of that of a MAGI terminal and a solid-state drive theoretically capable of holding anywhere between 1 to 750 terabytes of information (depending on how much of the drive is storage medium versus casing). Interestingly, the helmet also contains two A10 neural clips, built into the design.

Auxiliary Technician Third Class Lister, on her own initiative, conducted live testing of the helmet on the night of June 13th, 2015. While the initial testing was not recorded, subsequent tests were. When the helmet is put on, it performs a biometric scan, including a low-intensity AT Field Wavelength Test to determine who is wearing it; since AuxTech Lister was not SP01, it instead allowed her to log into a “guest” account. This allowed AuxTech Lister to utilise text, video and audio messaging functions, and the ability to turn on the helmet’s wireless connectivity function. We decided against doing so due to the security risks involved.

Notably, the helmet did not adapt either externally or internally to the new wearer; AuxTech Lister described wearing it as “really [expletive] uncomfortable”, which is unsurprising given the head shape of its owner.

One attempt was made to connect the helmet to an isolated laptop, in order to interface with it outside of AuxTech Lister’s method. This proved to be a failure; the helmet downloaded all information loaded to the laptop, and then installed a “Bonzi Buddy” virus that wiped the laptop over the next two hours whilst psychologically assaulting any researcher who attempted to interfere.

The conclusions we have drawn from the analysis of the flight suit are as follows: the aliens possess higher-quality armour material, more advanced computing and electrical equipment, and ancillary equipment that wouldn’t be out of place in a high-magic fantasy novel. An invading force equipped with this technology, even limited to infantry, would require disproportionate amounts of force to defeat, up to and including N2 weaponry in the worst-case scenario (see EXERCISE PAPYRUS in the details doc). Conversely, applying this technology in our favour would solve many of NERV’s long-term strategic dilemmas vis-a-vis defeating the Angels and operating Project E equipment.

Alien Medical Technology observations, (E):

On the evening of June 15th, representatives from the Endeavour contingent offered to provide medical services for the First Child on a pro bono basis. This offer was accepted, and I was allowed to witness the procedures employed on the following day (i.e. the 16th). Generally speaking, my observations reinforce the general trends laid out above; the aliens seem to have access to highly sophisticated medical technology and micro-scale machinery.

The procedure went as follows. First, a small canister was tied into the First Child’s bloodstream through a standard IV system. Then, self-targeting cauterisation drones were deployed from this canister into the First Child’s bloodstream in order to seal remaining internal bleeding. Once these had carried out their work, they extracted themselves back to their container, and reconfigured themselves to repair bones. The mechanism by which they accomplished this was described to me by the doctor performing the procedure. Essentially, the drones use a combination of “quick-setting bone substitute” and a passive “healing encourager thingimabob” (sic) to fix the damage. In a manner most elegant, the “bone substitute” is in fact consumed by the body and used to create natural bone in a seamless fashion. However, the doctor was concerned about the possibility of a “Helvetica Scenario” when using the substitute - though they assured me this was an extremely unlikely event, happening just once in the entire history of Endeavour.

Finally, the drones were extracted a second time and re-reconfigured to repair soft tissue damage. In this form, they carry an “LCL-alike” liquid which can configure itself into the patient's tissues. This part of the procedure was similarly a success, repairing the cauterisation damage from the first stage, various lacerations on the exterior of the First Child’s body, and damage to the First Child’s right eye. In total, the procedure lasted one hour and thirty-two minutes, fifteen seconds, and - while I kept the First Child overnight for monitoring - the First Child had no remaining injuries once it was complete.

This concludes the summary report. A followup on observed capabilities of various artefacts will follow when I’ve had time to finish repair work on Unit 01, and more observation has taken place.

RE: change your email address already

Certain genetic markers in the Homo sapiens portion of SP01’s genetic code were identical to those of the First Child. This, combined with the Endeavour portion of the alien forces’ interest in the First Child and the existence of at least one active First Child Backup (RG04), indicates some form of relationship - perhaps one of ancestry, if the time travel theory espoused by Dr. Asashio is worth the digital space it takes up on my hard drive. I’m inclined towards keeping an open mind, but obtaining more samples has become a priority in this light.

As it turned out, “doing tests” involved a lot of sitting around having one’s “synchronisation ratio” measured, with a side order of the occasional combat simulation - just in case. Shinji was appallingly bad at the latter, eking out a single victory in the eighteen simulations that he took part in over that first week, though Misato kept telling him he was doing better.

He didn’t believe it.

Also, Dad had yet to so much as glance in his direction.

On the plus side, Spitfire - the pony who’d taken his place in the battle - had been invited back to the Geo-Front following whatever had happened (he wasn't privy to the details, but apparently apologies had been given on both sides), and the other pilot had been released from hospital. She was an odd one, with blue hair and red eyes; she was quite ethereal, and didn’t talk much, but was unfailingly polite and kind of relaxing to be around. With two other, more experienced, pilots around, it was unlikely that he’d be thrown into battle.

And, even better, spending all this time underground meant he avoided the rolling thunderstorms on the surface. Going to school, when the one he was to be enrolled at finally re-opened, was going to be an utter pain.

“Aurora 2, close up on me. Contact to the south, control wants us to check them out and chase them off.”

Mihaly rolled his eyes, and then rolled his Su-35 over to follow his flight lead. “We’re in the UN now, we’re not meant to be chasing people off.”

“Could be one of those aliens - or an Angel. Go to full throttle, contact is moving fast.”

“Hope it’s the former and not the latter.” Mihaly pushed the throttle to full, echoing a sonic boom over the Okhotsk. There was a fishing boat somewhere off in the distance; the crew probably had quite a few blown-out eardrums now.

Two minutes at full throttle was enough to get their contact within radar range; it was small, and moving at high speed - pretty close to Mihaly’s own, for comparison - towards the Russian mainland. Could still be either an Angel or an alien; who knew what crazy shit either of them were capable of.

“Try giving them a call?” he suggested.

“I was about to. Switch to open band Boris.”
Mihaly did so, and heard, in English: “Unknown contact, this is Russian Federation sovereign airspace. Please identify yourself and turn away, or we will be forced to open fire.”

“Russian Federation Sovereign Airspace - that’s a weird name for a fighter squadron but okay - this is Rouge 3, from the Endeavour Protectorate Navy. I’m following an AT Field signature; think there might be an Angel somewhere nearby. You don’t happen to have that one captive this time around, do you? Whatever. Shoot at me if you want, I have no intention of changing course.”

The fuck? A captive Angel - who could even accomplish such a thing? And… this time around? “Think it’s a psy-op, Lead?” he asked, over a secondary channel.

“Fucked if I know, 2.” Then: “Rouge 3, please divert from your course. This is your final warning.” To punctuate that, Lead painted the rogue Rouge with his targeting RADAR - which it responded to by disappearing entirely off RADAR.

“Shit,” Mihaly remarked. “Watching your back, Lead.”

“Switch to your IR heads, my friend in Japan says these guys burn like the sun,” Lead advised - well, it wasn’t like he was going to get a lock with the RADAR missiles. “Contact should be within range in three… two… one-”

Sure enough, a small speck was on the horizon - now a larger speck, and a much larger speck, wait - “Break, Lead!” Mihaly yelled, and the alien craft flew in the space between the two Russian fighters, a strange, pointed angular thing with a large rocket bell at the rear, and then it was gone. He shoved the stick over, compensating for the wash of the alien craft’s passing and seeking to ride it into a turn; he was just successful enough at this to get a lock with his heat-seekers, and he let one fly - the diplomats could sort it out later.

The alien craft span, end over end, and spat a stream of blue bolts at the missile; one eventually found its mark, and the missile exploded.

“Nice shot,” came the alien pilot’s remark - how they were able to transmit in such a public manner was an item on the long list of “how do they do X?” questions that Mihaly dearly hoped the scientists back home were on their way to answering - and the craft span again. “I don’t really have the- wait, that’s odd. ATDAR just- BREAK, BREAK!”

On instinct, Mihaly hauled the stick over again, rolling just out the way as a purple beam of light split apart the air where his fighter had just been. Lead wasn’t as fortunate, his craft bearing the brunt of a second beam and entirely ceasing to exist. As he rolled back around, Mihaly caught a glimpse of an immense shape in the water, barely visible with its red shell in the blood-red ocean, lifting itself upright.

“Angel spotted; looks to be number 4. All Rouge craft, rendezvous on my location - Claes, you seeing this?”


“Well, someone’s early.” Victoria tapped the picture of the Fourth Angel on her monitor, vaguely hoping to squish the thing and save everyone the bother. “Alright, is it on the warpath? R2, how’s the ship looking?”

Rouge 3’s voice crackled across the interplanetary distance, ignoring the delays light would impose; “It just took off southwards - looks like it’s going to Tokyo-3. I’m keeping up with it, and at current speed it should be there in two hours.”

This was followed by a series of whistles and blatts, which roughly translated to: “Hyperdrive’s still fucked, I can get you 80% from the main thrusters, and the main gun is still borked.” She’d expected something along those lines; forging the exotic materials to replace key components in the hyperdrive and big gun was always going to take a while, and the Theotita’s repairs had taken priority.

Speaking of… “Captain soi Pegasi, the Angel has appeared.”

“Isn’t that a little early? I thought you’d estimated another week at least.”

Victoria shrugged, her tail swinging from one side to another - gestures the other captain couldn’t see, but she’d gotten into the habit young and it was three centuries too late to change. “Could be anything; we’re still not even sure what version we’re in yet. The Claes can be at Earth…” she ran the numbers, quickly, “About half an hour after the Angel reaches the city. Without our main gun, we probably won’t be able to kill it on our own, but with local intervention…”

“The Theotita’s engines are still in bits, but I can detach my remaining kleptoi and associated marines to assist.”

“Probably not the best idea just yet,” Victoria said, quickly pinging the crew (what little of them weren’t stuck unconscious in the medical bay or otherwise busy) to confirm whether or not they wanted to go along with her plan of action; technically redundant, since they were “in combat”, but she hadn’t stayed a captain for over three centuries by sticking to the letter of the rules. There were the usual calls for simply taking over the planet once they got there (which, thankfully, was not quite popular enough an idea for her to have to act on it), but the general consensus was to go over and kick an Angel’s ass. Or get their ass kicked. “Kleftis is still on station if we need a ram, and I want to get a bit more information before we start trying to take over the world.”

“Perhaps for the best, then. I’ll send Agrippina over on one of the new shuttles. She’s been making noises about wanting to see the cradle. And she can start poking about, asking some questions.”

Victoria nodded, and closed the channel. Only a second later did she realise that, since the other captain couldn’t see her, that meant she’d effectively hung up - she sent a quick text-only message clarifying what she’d meant. Then, she opened one of the internal channels; “First shift stand to stations.”

A few minutes later, the rest of her bridge staff filed up from the stairwell and nestled themselves into their control stations. Victoria nodded at the Helm (one of the two Reis Ayanami on the bridge staff), who returned a thumbs-up, and pushed open the throttle with one gloved hand.

Slowly, the Katerina Claes began drifting away from Phobos and the cradle of metal struts that had grown out of the small moon’s surface; a single shuttle caught up with her on the way out, and the engines went to full as soon as the ship was clear.

Spitfire sat in the entry plug of Unit 01, gripping both control paddles and staring at the resolutely-blank plug walls. “Nothing’s happening.”

There was some commotion amongst the command staff at Spitfire’s words, given the Angel was barely an hour out, and they ran through a quick reset sequence. A short while later, and it was time for a second attempt.

“Still nothing. Did you guys fuck with it? Let me try from my end.” She twisted around, getting at the computer hardware that sat in tandem with the pilot, and plugged in a USB cable from her arm. Running a diagnostic spat out a dozen or so errors, mostly, well: “The fuck is a 58008 error? Wait one.” This time, she opened the damn casing up entirely, and checked the hardware. Everything was in its place.

“Try it one more time?” Technician Ibuki suggested, and - with a shrug - Spitfire complied. This time-

a drop in the ocean, a rock on the side of a mountain, the smallest speck of RNA in a human cell

blood splashing against the lunar regolith, blazing white wings against a red sky

a dog cocking its head at an unfamiliar sound, a cat carefully sniffing a new toy

liberty at last, freedom for all, the cleansing of the original sin-

she was jerked back to consciousness, still in the entry plug. She groaned, put one hoof to her head, which seemed to contain a battalion of jackhammers and an 18-gun artillery battery for good measure. The last thing she heard before passing out again was Ibuki shouting something about “terminal plug depth” and “synchronisation ratio over one hundred”...

“You know what would be nice?” Wedge said, hurling his fighter over in a wide barrel roll to evade one of the Angel’s laser whips. “Weapons that actually hurt the enemy.”

“They had Anti-AT field weapons in 3.33, boss,” Rouge 2 cut in, both into the conversation and in front of 1’s fighter, his hypervelocity guns spitting out a pair of turbo-shot, their warheads going off almost immediately; twin bolts of red splashing uselessly against the Angel’s AT Field. “Why did we never build any of our own?”

Wedge joined in the fire, adding his twin pulse laser turrets to the barrage. It didn’t do much, aside from giving everyone a pretty light show, but expending munitions on an inexorably advancing foe was a time-honoured tradition. “Because, 2, we have real big guns on our ships that can turn Angels into mush.” Mats for the aufab were down to about twenty percent; it was about time to swap out for 3 and 4.

“Except that the only one in existence in this universe is A) broken, B) the lightweight version, and C) still on its way to Earth.” They made another attack run, this time spreading their fire; this seemed a little more promising, until the Angel simply widened its AT Field to deal with the threat. Land was on the horizon behind them, and approaching fast.

“I think the Sovereign Protector and She Who Has Not Been Named didn’t anticipate this scenario. Angel’s going to make landfall in thirty seconds. I suggest we pull off, restock from seawater, and hit it together with Unit 01 and the rest of the flight.”

“Sounds good to me, boss. Dumping ordnance and heading out to restock.”

With one final, futile flurry of weapons fire, the two fighters emptied their magazines and broke off their harassment of the Angel.

From making landfall, it didn’t take the Angel long to reach Tokyo-3, completely ignoring the UN interception forces deployed to check its advance. Standing against it, back to the armoured cover-buildings of the city centre, was Unit 01. A rifle lay loosely in its hands, which it brought up and fired as the Angel came into view. Naturally, this accomplished nothing more than kicking up a cloud of smoke.

“What’s she doing?” Wedge muttered to himself; his ATDAR wasn’t showing an offensive AT Field deployment. He made sure the Evangelion could hear him; “You’ve got to take its AT Field down before anyone can hurt it, remember?”

A hesitant voice came back: “How do I do that?”

Ah, fuck. “...Is that Shinji Ikari in there?”

Before the pilot could answer, the Angel whirled its whips, forcing the Evangelion back. Futilely, it fired another burst from its rifle. “Uh… yes, how did- woah-” another attack from the Angel pushed the Evangelion back still further. Wedge dove in at the Angel, trying to distract it with a salvo of bolts from the fixed laser cannons, but, well, it was an Angel.

“Alright, I don’t have a sync score, so… is Spitfire still around?” Probably not, if the kid was piloting, but hope springs eternal.

“Uhh… no, something happened when she tried to synchronise and she got knocked out.” Another swipe of the Angel’s whips nearly cut the power umbilical keeping the Evangelion going; Wedge silently vowed to see the damn thing fitted with a reactor. He led the flight in on another attempt to distract, spitting a wide variety of rounds at the damn thing - even mixing in a hull-repair shell to physically block the Angel - but it kept going on heedless of all attempts to stop it.

Its own attacks, however, found their mark this time; one whip gouged Unit 01’s rifle in half, the other wrapping around its torso and cutting the umbilical before withdrawing.

“Withdraw and retrieve another rifle!” came an order from NERV - Katsuragi, if Wedge was getting the voice correct.

“Where to?” Shinji was getting boxed in, and the Angel stubbornly refused to so much as slow down. A whip thrust forth, snapping across its eyes, and the Evangelion stopped in its tracks. Odd; Wedge would have thought he’d have kept backing away - and then he saw why the boy didn’t.

There were people on the building behind him.

“You didn’t finish the fucking evacuation?” he spat down the comm-line.

“There wasn’t anyone left in the city when I swept it,” Sara 2 called back, “Swept it ten times, standard pattern, nothing.”

Wedge’s obvious retort was cut off: “runawaymustn’trunawaymustn’trunawaymustn’trunawayMUSTN’T RUN AWAY!”

Unit 01 drew its knife, put its head down, and charged. As it closed the distance, the Angel lashed out, scoring a hit on its arm but nothing more; the Evangelion crashed into it, sending them both down to the floor. Wedge’s ATDAR pinged; the AT Fields on the battlefield had just disappeared. As one, without him needing to give the order, the whole flight wheeled and spat fire into the Angel; huge chunks of its flesh were torn off, burned, vapourised, electrocuted and - in one case - transmuted into bread, and then something must have hit its core, because it stopped moving.

Wedge let out a breath, forcing the tension out of his body. Then, it was time to start the cleanup. "Okay, Sara 2, get back here and evac these fools..."

*The generic term for an Auto-fabricator.
**In fact, they were designed not to: the two types of foam being set up to create shelters for trapped, injured and otherwise inconvenienced crew, rather than enclose and suffocate them. The solid rounds were fired at a low enough velocity not to cause much more than a mild bruise, at best.
***Again, not a typo.
****Having been alerted (at long last) that the girl had visitors, rather than doing so for any other reason.
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Re: Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Sto

Post by Elheru Aran »

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Re: Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Sto

Post by VX-145 »

Chapter 3

“Look at the size of that thing,” Recovery Technician Suzu muttered, staring up at the bulky form sliding into place above Lake Ashi; a long thing, with a pair of stubby wings on each side and a prominent hunchbacked bridge tower near the back of the ship. It had descended with almost unnatural grace from the sky not too long after the Angel had been killed; judging by the lack of reaction, it might not be another horrible fiend out to kill them.

“Your wife was saying something similar to me last night,” ReTech Jones replied, dryly. “It’s a sight, though. Heard from my friend in Ops that it’s related to those UFOs flying around.”

“Well, your friend in Ops earns the “no shit, Sherlock” award for this week, then. You know, I had a guy who worked in Medical tell me the aliens were all like, ponies, or something.”

Jones was about to reply, but the shadow of their manager loomed above them. “Stop chatting, get that cable attached! I want this damn robot underground before midnight...”

Transcript of the first public broadcast from Alien Ship 2, later identified as the ESS Katerina Claes:

[some minor fumbling sounds]

“Hello Earthlings! My name is Victoria Carver, and I am - for my sins - the captain of the fine cruiser Katerina Claes. I’ll cut to the chase; we’re humans from about four thousand years in the future and a different universe. If that sounds like a lot to take in, well, it is! Anyway, we noticed you all had a little Angel problem, so we’ve decided to help out a little. We’d also like to talk to… is it the UN right now? Whatever general assembly of peoples and all that you’ve got going on. That’ll be public, so hold your questions until then! Peace out!”

[two seconds of silence, then, quietly:]

“Shit, I forgot to ask them to take us to their leaders…”

[the broadcast ends]

Shinji awoke to darkness, unable to open his eyes. He reached one hand up, probing them, and met bandage; the searing pain of the Angel’s whip-crack across his face overwhelmed his memory for a second, and he shuddered.

“He’s awake,” came Ayanami’s voice from the darkness.

There was a rustling noise, and then; “Huh? Oh, right. Hey kid, try not to poke it too hard. You’ve got some sympathy injuries, but they’ll heal soon.” The voice was oddly familiar, and it took him a second to place it: Ayanami’s voice, but… slightly different. Older, maybe? “That was a pretty brave thing to do, charging it after it gouged your eyes out.”

Was it? He hadn’t been thinking. “Uhh… thanks.”

Something was placed over one of his arms, and then: “Yup, looks all good, no sign of neurological damage. Your eyes should start working again in an hour or so, your brain’s just getting used to the idea that they’re not actually damaged. Right, then, I’ll go tell the Captain…”

Shinji heard some footsteps, and then a door opened, and closed. He lay back down, mentally willing his brain to realise that his eyes were fine; at least then he could read or something. Then, he heard the turning of a page, and realised Ayanami was still in the room. “Ayanami?” he ventured.


...he hadn’t thought that far ahead. He settled on: “What are you reading?”

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

Shinji felt himself blink, which was an odd feeling to have without the associated… blink. “ it good?”

“I don’t know. The main character is… interesting.” Ayanami paused for a moment. “I don’t understand why the Endeavour aliens would name a ship after her.”

“They did that?”

“Yes. When I asked what the ship was, they called it the Katerina Claes, and Rouge 4 gave me this manga.”

That explained where it had come from. “Maybe she does something later in the plot, or they just really like her. I think you’d have to ask them, to know one way or another.”


In the dead of night, something strange occurred near a plague-struck town on the outskirts of Baghdad. A light swooped down from the sky, and came to rest upon the ground; before anyone could reach it, it took off again. In the morning, the local police found a crate emblazoned with the twin symbols of a red cross and a stylised outline of a long-haired lady in a large dress. The crate itself was stuffed to the brim with medical supplies; disposable gloves, water purifiers (for it was a water-borne plague), food fit for the sick and the healthy alike, and vial after vial of modern antibiotics - and more, with another unknown substance. At the top of the crate was a note, in English and Arabic: “A gift, offered freely.”

The police officers who discovered the crate were, at first, tempted to hide it, and sell the insides on for a massive profit. That plan was discussed - briefly, since the moment the idea was mentioned, the note transformed, bearing instead a sad face and a photorealistic picture of the policemen involved being disintegrated. The idea was quickly dropped thereafter.

Across the planet, similar things happened; areas of drought received rain and barrels of water, places hit by famine found food, and city councils worldwide woke up to find new homeless shelters built atop abandoned factories.

CC: list:TECHDIV-3
RE: Preliminary Alien Artefact Observations
ATTCH: mordetails.doc, mordetails.xls

Following on from the previous in this series. Note that the section on the alien warship currently hovering above Lake Ashi is somewhat rushed and incomplete.

Alien Bipedal Ground Vehicle / Autonomous Robot (E):

A large, bipedal machine with a boxy humanoid shape. It bears significant resemblance to the “Dreadnought” war machines from the 1990s science fiction wargame “Warhammer 40,000”, equipped with a rotary cannon in the place of one limb and a combination claw/flamethrower apparatus on the other. It speaks, in a distorted voice, and uses short and/or religious phrases. It seems to be able to manipulate its own size to some extent, as it can access areas it would otherwise be too large to access.

This machine self-identifies as “Brother Somnius” of the “Custodiants” [sic]. Brief enquiries towards other alien personnel have not yet provided a definitive answer as to whether or not it is a manned vehicle or an autonomous robot of some type. “Somnius”, of course, is derived from the Latin “somnium”, which can mean “dream” or “sleep”, while “Custodiant” means something along the lines of “Caretaker”, “Guard” or “Watcher”.

Alien Fighter Craft, Type 1 (E):

A single-pilot craft approximately fifteen metres in length. The cockpit is located at the front, just behind the craft’s fixed-forward weapons; from there, the hull bulges outwards significantly, until tapering again. A single primary engine sits at the back of the craft, with multiple smaller thrusters providing power in all directions; this is not their only means of propulsion, as these fighters have been observed hovering in mid-air and moving without igniting any of their engines - though at a much reduced pace.

Examination of footage recovered from their combat encounters reveals that these fighters are armed with three distinct weapons systems. The first is, as noted, fixed to fire directly ahead, and fires short bolts of blue energy; the craft possesses six of these in total. The second weapon system consists of a pair of double-barreled turrets, one on the underside of the craft, the other at the top facing backwards; these fire beams of green energy, though they have been observed to fire bolts as well. Finally, there is a single double turret at the top of the craft, just behind the cockpit, which seems to be the ship’s primary weapon. This has been observed to fire nearly any conceivable munition, from guided missiles to more energy bolts, and even some form of fabrication round that has been used to repair the damage caused by the Angel battles and - in one case - to turn part of an Angel into bread. Their weapons are, collectively, sufficiently accurate and powerful enough to both shoot down incoming missiles, and cause significant - even possibly fatal - damage to an unprotected Angel.

These craft are also equipped with some form of energy shielding, with enough strength to protect the craft entirely from ramming into buildings and from glancing blows from the previous Angel’s energy whips. They have been observed undertaking accelerations that would kill any unprotected pilot outright - and indeed, probably cause severe damage to any machinery on board - which implies the existence of some manner of G-force shielding or dissipation system, since the pilots we have observed have demonstrated no requirement for special modification.

These ships have also been observed collecting significant quantities of earth (of varying grades and type) and water (ditto), usually after extended combat operations. This could be some manner of “refuelling” or “reloading” operation, assuming they have on-board fabrication devices.

Alien Fighter Craft, Type 2 (E):

This craft is also single-pilot, though much larger than the Type 1. Like the Type 1, the cockpit is at the front, with a prominent bulge and engines at the rear; unlike the simple structure of the Type 1, though, there is a trench on either side of the vessel, leading it to look somewhat like a 19th century ironclad warship or a sandwich. Notably, the hunchback structure aft of the cockpit does not contain any weapons; it is instead a passenger compartment. This, combined with the overheard designations for these craft (“Sara 1” and “Sara 2”) and their usage all imply these are some manner of specialised Search and Rescue (SAR) design.

In terms of armament, these ships have only used one weapon system thus far; four fixed-forwards weapons of the variable munitions type. These have been used solely to carry out their SAR function, though their loads are still reasonably effective in a non-lethal suppression role. I can personally attest that whatever foam some of their munitions use is effectively impossible to remove from clothing. The presence of standard medical imagery - including a prominent red cross on either side of the passenger compartment - indicates that they are non-combatants.

They are notably slower than their combat-focussed counterparts, and are equipped with a similar shielding system. Additionally, they have a single grapple on the underside of the craft, capable of lifting main battle tanks without impacting the craft’s performance. Eyewitnesses who have been rescued by the craft report that the interior of the passenger compartment is cramped, with a maximum capacity of about ten adult humans on two benches; if some are willing to stand, that can perhaps double. A device sits in the middle of the compartment, with the label “SURVIVAL FABRICATOR” printed prominently just above a computer screen; this screen was disabled in all accounts.

Alien Ramship, (T):

This craft has, thus far, only been observed once; during its ramming attack upon the Third Angel. It is exceptionally large for an aircraft, though still quite small compared to the objects described below; it seems to be about 150m long, with a distinct lance-like profile. It is equipped with some manner of stealth technology that hides it from both passive and active electromagnetic detection (including human vision), but this seems unable to be used in conjunction with the craft’s main engines. These engines were able to accelerate the craft from stationary to hypersonic speeds in less than a second - an acceleration of over one hundred and seventy G’s. The shockwave from its passing over the city was sufficient to melt solid steel and concrete in a zone about one kilometre on either side of its passage, and cause almost total destruction of most major infrastructure; the craft itself was suffering from shock heating at the time of its impact. It did not seem to have any actual damage on its ascent into the atmosphere.

The craft bears a distinct aesthetic difference to the two types of fighter observed; it is a sleeker, more rounded design, compared to the angular shapes present on the fighters. It also appears to be engraved with lines of Greek and Cyrillic text, of which the only deciphered words are “grace”, “glory” and “thief”. Its hull is also gilded, with plenty of brass and purple-coloured hull panels. From this - and the pilot’s language being Greek, as opposed to the English or Japanese Endeavour pilots use - we suspect it is a craft of the Theophanic Empire.

Alien Ship, Type 1 (T):

This object was observed appearing in the asteroid belt on the day of the Third Angel’s arrival; telescopic imaging indicates it is over 4km in length, and is wedge-shaped. It was mostly visible due to its high infrared signature, which has since diminished; this could have been the result of the process by which the aliens arrived, but this is unknown. It was later observed transiting to Martian orbit, whereupon it - along with the Type 2 ship - seems to have taken up residence near Phobos. We suspect it is a Theophanic Empire vessel, as other craft of the Ramship type have been observed docking and undocking from it; we have testimony to the effect that one ship is from the Theophanic Empire, and the other is from Endeavour.

We haven’t been able to deduce many of its capabilities, but it is capable of accelerations of at least 4g - and likely higher, such a low speed being of little use in warfare given the acceleration demonstrated by its ramships. We suspect it was damaged, or accelerated slower than its full potential due to fuel concerns.

Alien Ship, Type 2 (E):

The other ship that arrived in the asteroid belt. It is much smaller than the Type 1, being about five hundred metres long. Type 1 and 2 alien fighters have been observed using it as a mothership, so we suspect it is the Endeavour vessel of the two. Our testimony claims that “[the ship’s] weapons were built at the Naval Arsenal in Endeavour, but they were fitted to the hull at Fapping-Upon-Busom shipyard, and the ship itself was named and crewed by the Inner Belt Hab Collective”, which is the most information we have about the place the ship came from - if it’s true, of course. “Fapping-Upon-Busom” in particular, I am told, is a joke name.

This ship made the Mars to Earth transit in two hours, ten minutes and sixteen seconds, for an average speed of nearly 29 million metres per second, and is currently hovering in place over Lake Ashi with no visible means of doing so. It is equipped with transmitters capable of broadcasting across the planet, and some manner of Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) system, as no attempts to make a missile lock upon it have succeeded.

While its armament has not yet been observed in action, we have noticed that it carries a wide variety of weapons. Sixteen twin turrets of the same type seem to make up its primary battery - these are positioned so that all but one can be brought to bear on a target in front of the craft, and are the largest weapons. Four different types of secondary weapon have also been counted, and there is a prominent notch on the ship’s bow that contains some manner of device; whether this is a reverse thruster or a weapon is unknown.

It has identified itself as a “cruiser” by the name of Katerina Claes; apparently, the name comes from some work of fiction. The designation, on the other hand, implies that it is either a command and control vessel - unlikely, given the number of turrets the ship bears - or a high-endurance middleweight combat vessel, like the cruisers of Earth navies in the 19th and 20th centuries.

To conclude; militarily, these Aliens have various insurmountable advantages. They are faster than any terrestrial combat vehicle, are better protected than all except the Project E units, and their logistical train is practically nonexistent. A direct confrontation is not recommended. Again, their assistance could be invaluable to NERV and the UN as a whole.

RE: Re: change your email address already (37)

Overheard some transmissions during the last battle talking about a “3.33” and “Anti-AT field weapons”; similarly, during the incident near Russia, one of their pilots used the phrase “this time around”, referring to the possibility of NERV (or Russia) holding an Angel captive. The aliens also claim to be from “a different universe”, so there could potentially be an information advantage on our part; if we deviate from whatever path they’re familiar with, they won’t have prior knowledge of our operations.

It’s either that or throw all the N2 mines in the world at them.

After the tumult of Second Impact, and the wars that followed, the UN Headquarters building in New York had lain empty for several years, until the final peace of February 2001. The building really wasn’t much different from the movies, though some of the flags flying outside were different and there was a suspicious crater just over the road. The parking facilities were… not exactly built for space warships, but the proliferation of VTOL passenger craft over the past few years did at least mean there was somewhere for the shuttle containing Victoria, Agrippina and whoever had been closest to the hangar bay and/or had nothing better to do to land.

When the doors at the back slid open, the compartment inside was flooded with photographic flashes from the crowd of reporters waiting outside, each anxious to get a good look (and more importantly, a usable photograph of) at the aliens. What they got, however, were photographs of an empty compartment, lined with machinery with a stairwell leading upwards. After a few seconds of awkward silence, the first of the aliens began to descend… and they were human. Human in an odd uniform, but still, disappointingly, human.

The next to descend at least had ears and a tail, though was otherwise also human. Then, finally, something truly alien - a small, cyan-coloured vaguely horse-looking thing with wings and rainbow coloured hair. Next was a red-eyed, blue-haired woman, followed by… what looked like a floating ribbon, and then another red-eyed, blue-haired woman. Then, the door closed, and the group made their way through the cleared path into the building.

Inside, every member of the General Assembly had made it to this meeting, and most had also written out their wills just in case. They waited with bated breath as the first one out of the ship approached the front of the room, and stood behind the long, low desk.

The woman cleared her throat. “Good day, members of this body and those watching from elsewhere. I am Protos Agrippina, of the Το οριστικό επιχείρημα για τη θεότητά τους είναι αυτό το νέο κάστρο της πίστης στον θεό μας - or Theotita, for short. I represent the crew of that ship, and her home polity, the Theophanic Empire, as the good Captain here-” she gestured to the cat-eared lady - “Represents Endeavour. I have been asked by my own Captain to ask this august body one question in particular.”

She stopped, withdrawing a small notecard. There was still silence in the room - not even a single cough was heard. Then, she spoke: “What the fuck?”

If there had been silence before, now there was… more silence. A pin could drop and not make a sound due to the sheer amount of silence in the room. Then, one of the functionaries whose job it was to keep things moving asked: “Can you clarify?”

“Why is there a black hole, or whatever that thing is, over the South Pole? Why are the oceans filled with blood, and why is there blood on the moon? What did you do to get it up there? Blood should evaporate on the way out of the atmosphere - and why do these Angels keep turning up, anyway?” Agrippina cast the card down onto the table. “Don’t take this for criticism - unless any of you had a part in the decisions that led to this point - but it was a little disconcerting to see Terra Eld, the cradle of Humanity, for the first time in four thousand years and see that it’s mostly covered in blood.”

This time, there was whispered discussion amongst the representatives. Eventually, the representative from Chile ventured: “Is it not a result of the Second Impact?”

“Yes, so what was Second Impact?” Agrippina spread her arms wide; “I’ve been told it was a meteor impact, that it was an experiment gone awry, that it was some sort of sin - which was it?” More silence. “Do any of you know?”

The US Representative stood, and gestured to Agrippina. “I believe you are in as much the same position as us, sadly. We have had top scientists examining the Second Impact site since it happened - I can assure the good Ambassador that we’re just in the dark as they are. Or less so, even - the transmission sent by Victoria Carver mentioned that you were from some four thousand years in the future. Do you not have historical records of this time?”

Agrippina motioned the cat-eared lady up to the stage. “I am the aforementioned Victoria Carver,” she began, tail swaying slowly from one side to the other. “And the short answer is: no. Both Endeavour and the Theophanic Empire descend from Earth’s diaspora, but very little is known about that period - and much of what records we have contradict each other. The most reliable sources Endeavour has access to are the memories of those who lived back then, and who survived the Event; but even then, we were stored as computer memory in damaged hardware for most of those four thousand years, and it’s a miracle we remember as much as we do.”

“I’m sorry - “we”?” The American Representative, again.

Victoria smiled, revealing her long, sharp canines. “I grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon,” she said. “When the wars came, and Amazo-X started offering places on colony ships “free of charge”, I signed up; I knew there was going to be a catch, but anything was better than the constant cycle of storm to 30-plus degree weather to storm, or being sent off to fight in Norway or wherever the fuck we’d declared war on this week. I remember signing up, and then “waking up” on board the Endeavour to find that I was stuck in the computer.”

It took a while but eventually the Canadian Representative asked: “ were in a computer?”

Victoria paused just a second for dramatic effect. “I got better.”

Naturally, things devolved from there.

Shinji had been ordered to report to Gym No.3 in Block 1 for “Hand to Hand Combat Training”. This had seemed like a good idea at the time; with the Endeavour pilot still unable to pilot, it was only a matter of time before he’d have to fight again; and with the school still being repaired from the first battle, it was something to do. It was getting pretty boring just sitting around the apartment or hanging around NERV in his spare time.

Upon entering the gym, he realised that boredom was, perhaps, a little more precious than he’d first thought. After all, being bored meant that he wasn’t getting thrown around by a ten-foot-tall armoured behemoth, or the walking tank standing next to it. Unfortunately, it was too late to reconsider; the tall mecha immediately called out: “Ikari - over here!”

Regretting his life choices, Shinji dragged his way across the floor. Up close, his prospective teachers were even more intimidating; the more human-looking mecha had a long, cruelly-serrated blade on its back, and he flinched away as the other machine clacked its claw.

“I am Ypolchagos Anura apo Aftokratora,” the tall machine introduced itself, taking off its helmet to reveal a dark-skinned face with close-cropped hair. “I will be one of your instructors today, alongside Brother Somnius here.”

I am ready to train, again,” the big metal box intoned, spinning its claw.

“Yes, thank you,” Anura said, shaking one hand in the box’s general direction. “Now then, when Ayanami gets here, we will begin.”

That welcome reprieve didn’t last long; Rei soon walked in, clad in the same exercise clothes he was, and the introductions were repeated almost verbatim. Then, it was apparently time for Shinji to “show what he knew already”, which seemed to consist of being thrown about by an armoured Anura, then being thrown about some more when the Ypolchagos stepped out of their warsuit.

Not only did the soldier have a reach advantage, and a height advantage, and a strength advantage, but they were blindingly fast, too; Shinji could barely even see the movement that sent him flying. Luckily, after about ten minutes of that, it was Rei’s turn. She did… about as well as Shinji. After another ten minutes, Anura called a halt.

“It seems that neither of you are entirely untrained,” they said, “but we still have our work cut out for us nonetheless. Brother Somnius, I think we should start with balance…”

One of the problems with taking the diplomatic route was the constant poking around by various parties trying to figure out just how, exactly, a hundred-thousand-ton spaceship was able to float in midair, build weapons from dirt, and descend through the atmosphere at high speed without any visible shock heating effects. Rei Ayanami (the tactical officer on the Katerina Claes, specifically) suggested a simple solution over void-distilled ale and metastable vodka one night in the crew lounge: tours of the Claes.

The general reaction to this idea was, to quote one spacer: “This is a bad idea. We need to do it.” Before Agrippina could sputter even the slightest protest, the itineraries were drawn up and invitations sent, and by the next day the whole thing had been arranged. This is how the Katerina Claes found herself moored at the lakeside with the water lapping gently on her hull. Her portside airlock faced out into Tokyo-3, locked open as the crew prepared to receive a complement of politicians, scientists, journalists, and a class from the local middle school. The invitation had been extended to a few NERV personnel as well, but no RSVP had been received from those.

The crew had gone a little overboard with the decorations, perhaps; every wall was lined with bunting, there was a literal red carpet laid down, and both hangar bays had been converted into impromptu entertainment areas. The starboard bay even had a stage facing out over the lake, with the hangar doors open and a thin layer of water covering the deck. Most of the forward crew quarters - normally used by spacers working with the Particle Beam Lance at the prow of the ship, but currently empty with most of the Claes’ crew still unconscious - were fitted out as a “living display” of life in Endeavour, and the entire lower deck (which used to house the ship’s three Vertical Launch missile tubes before such things were rendered superfluous by the Hypervelocity Cannon) had been cleared for an as-yet unknown reason that probably had something to do with the hangar crew fabbing up a bunch of modern sports hovercars and an uncomfortably large quantity of rocket motors.

At about 10am, the first of the guests started to arrive, and by mid-day, the ship was positively crawling with them…


“This is so cool!”

Toji Suzuhara grunted out something noncommittal, more concerned with how he’d had to go to school even after it had been mostly melted than the alien ship in front of him. Then again, this did mean he was able to hang out with certain people who he otherwise had no opportunity to see, so maybe it wasn’t all bad - and besides, he owed the aliens one. His friend lifted his camera, and paused.

“Do you think they’ll let me film?”

Toji mused on that a little. “Probably not, Ken. Didn’t they take your camera off you after the last attack? How’d you get it back?”

“This is a new one,” Kensuke said, “One of the aliens gave it to me after the gorillas mugged us.”

Toji looked over at the camera. “Looks the same to me. You sure it’s not your old one?”

Kensuke shook his head. “No scratches on it - see?”

“Alright everyone,” came a voice from the airlock, “We’re going to start your tour now, so follow me!”

Toji blinked. “Is that Ayanami?” It sure looked like her, though maybe a bit older? Did she have family - her being an alien would explain a lot.

“No way, man. Look - she’s got a name badge on.” And she did - it read, “Rei Ayanami - not that one.”

“What the hell?”

There was a lot of similar mutterings from the other classmates, to which Rei (?) held up a finger. “I know it’s a little weird, but you’ll just have to bear with it. I’m Spacer Rei Ayanami, first shift helm officer on this ship, and I’ll be your guide today. If you’d come along…”

With a bit of cajoling from the Class Rep and the teacher, the class herded themselves into the airlock. “So, here we are in the portside airlock,” Rei (?) said, “Which is normally kept available for people to experience vacuum or even hyperspace during travel. I hold the ship record for longest suitless hyperspace exposure with three and a half seconds - since I was able to be resuscitated back on board without having to respawn, it counts!” She cleared her throat, looking suddenly shifty (which was an entirely surreal experience), “Not that any of you should try such a thing, of course. Anyway, moving on!”

The airlock opened out onto a stairwell; they took the route down into a wide, open area with benches and tables. “This is the galley, which is the main dining area - of course, people still eat in their cabins, but these spaces are always useful. That’s the kitchen, that area there. Through that door on the just there side, we have the medbay, which is currently being used, and R2 isn’t letting anyone into Main Engineering - that’s through the door at the back. So, forwards we go!”

“The Katerina Claes is a Kitsune-class cruiser of the Endeavour Protectorate, the fourth of the class after the Katra, Kaguya Shinomiya and Komi Shoko. You might notice a certain theme with the naming, though this is actually an odd coincidence; none of the later ships start with a K. She was built, along with her three older sisters, in 260 AW - that’s 260 After Awakening, when the first of the Endeavour colonists began to wake up after The Event. To put it in a more familiar calendar, that’s about 6100 AD. Or, to put it another way - about as much in the future as the taming of horses and the construction of Stonehenge are in the past. Blows the mind, right?”

6100?! Stonehenge? Toji tried to picture it; going back to that age with modern technology. How would they react? Would they see him as a god, or some sort of wizard?

“Anyway, it’s not as long a time difference as you might think, because the original colonists were stuck in standby in a computer for most of that time. Right,” Rei (?) clicked her fingers, “portside hangar bay!” She led them through a door on the left side of the wall, into a long, slightly wider space; a single alien fighter sat in the middle, barely fitting into the bay. They approached this as she talked: “These bays were originally built as a sort of insurance - so that damaged fighters could have somewhere to dock, and be transported around if necessary. Each can hold six fighters - for a total of twelve, or a full squadron. We were lucky enough to have a half-squadron each of Bodkin fighters and Bilobate SAR craft on board when we got yeeted out of our home universe, which we’ve used extensively so far. Some of you may have even ridden in a Bilobate.

This one is Rouge 5’s Bodkin fighter, chosen mostly because 5 is helping out with some of the rebuilding work in the city.”

Of course, Kensuke couldn’t contain himself at that point; he rushed forwards, poking his camera this way and that, muttering about how cool the ship was.

“Filming is permitted, by the way, and you can touch the craft - the cockpit is locked, but there’s simulators on board if anyone wants to try flying one. Or nearly any craft in the Endeavour Protectorate!”

Toji barely managed to catch Kensuke before the nerd passed out from sheer excitement. The boy was on his feet again within a couple of seconds, though, and the tour continued, Rei (?) pointing out the various systems on board the fighter and giving a brief history lesson: “The Bodkin, designation AW-7, was the winner of the Endeavour-wide Fighter Design Competition of 348, having been submitted by Dr. Doofenshmirtz of Trista hab. It’s replaced the AW-6 entirely across the Protectorate fleet, with the surplus craft being moved into reserves or claimed by various civilians...”

It was, on the whole, an odd mix of interesting and boring; at one point, Rei (?) reached into a little yellow port and pulled out an exact replica of Toji’s school uniform, but his eyes kind of glazed over a bit when she launched into an explanation as to how that worked. The little booths showing daily life in Endeavour were neat, if a little hard to believe - they lived entirely on space stations or ships, ranging from the immense Endeavour hab conglomerate to tiny single-room habs “for hermits”, for a start. Then there was the body-printing stuff, which felt a little off, but then he was a little distracted trying to stop Kensuke from climbing inside the big gun Rei (?) showed them at the bow of the ship.

And then there was the play. Each student had their own armchair; Toji’s moulded around his body as he sat down in a way that was both unnerving and comfortable. This sensation was quickly drowned out by the fact that the aliens were putting on a magical girl play, complete with call-outs to the audience asking them to “believe harder to overcome the power of despair and Capitalism” (this was accompanied by the sudden appearance of an extremely ripped old-looking man) and some real neat light shows including a set-piece where an “Amazo-X Factory Ship” was blown up by the magical girls.

He was reasonably sure the shrapnel thrown at the students had been an intended part of the play. No-one was hurt, after all.

After that, they were free for a bit - and obviously, Kensuke immediately dragged Toji over to the simulators to try flying a “real spaceship” (which bugged Toji - it was still a simulator, right?), which turned out to be crowded by a bunch of suited adults. Some of ‘em he recognised from the TV, some kinda big shots, and there were a couple of aliens too - including a giant green-skinned, thick-tusked beast with a gun the size of Toji’s torso held in one hand… and was dressed in a tuxedo.

“Roight then,” the beast said, “Youse gits is done - let da boys through, will youse?”

“I beg your pardon?” said one of the suits, with a smug superior look that needed punching in Toji’s humble opinion, “I’m sure they can wait a while.”

“Then beg,” the beast growled.

“I’m sorry?”

“Youse wanted to beg my pardon. So’s beg. Youse gits have been at this fer an hour now, and youse rubbish at it - let da grotz at it.”

“Well, I never,” the suit protested, but they moved on, casting a glare at the two boys as they went. Toji cast one back, almost on principle; damn suits never did anything useful.

Settling into a nice flight sim and blowing the crap outta some pixels seemed like a good idea right then, so he climbed into the pod next to Kensuke’s… and was faced with more buttons and screens than he’d ever seen before in his life - and two sticks, not one. How the fuck was anyone supposed to fly this thing?

“Good afternoon pilot, and welcome to Introduction to Flight. This course will give you the skills needed to pilot any craft with a Standard Control System, or SCS.” The voice, harsh and feminine, came from behind Toji - probably some recorded thing, he’d been to enough museums with Kensuke to know the drill. “First, your controls. Each will be highlighted as I mention them. Your basic controls are the throttle, strafe stick, and pitch stick. Your velocity and acceleration are displayed here, please note the vector display here in addition, and fuel readout is here. Now then, your objective is to destroy the incoming Amazo-X drones. This is a historical simulation in which you will be flying an AW-1 “Arrowhead” interceptor. Begin.”

The cockpit windows went black, and he was in space, surrounded by rocks and bits of metal debris. He rolled the fighter one way, then the other, and tried the 6 d-o-f stick - it seemed to strafe the fighter, rather than rolling and pitching it. Four red blips appeared in front of him, each listed as “ND-1” at 4km out, and he pushed open the throttle towards them.

“Please note that this simulated craft is not equipped with a Hyperspace Brake, and is thus subject to newtonian physics.”

“Sure,” Toji muttered, “Whatever the hell that means.”

It meant that he overshot the drones by a full kilometre, barely able to keep one in his gunsights - not that he knew how to fire the damn guns, since the triggers on the sticks didn’t work. He turned the fighter around, and managed to start heading towards the enemy again, and of course, overshot again. This time, one of them shot at him, the whole cockpit rattling and a hologram shoving itself in his face for a split second before disappearing. The ship still flew, and he realised what he was doing wrong - it was like ice skating! Only, not.

He managed to slot himself behind one of the enemies, only for it to flip over and - while still moving backwards - start shooting at him, and he still didn’t know how to fire the damn guns. Did he even have any? Desperately, he flicked any switch that had a label even vaguely related to weapons.

The voice kept talking the whole while: “The AW-1 was well known for being durable, fast, and hard-hitting, if extremely complex. These qualities made it an ideal interceptor in the Quite Frankly, Terrible War, with a single craft able to repel whole squadrons of Amazo-X drones. As an interceptor, they had little fuel, and thus were unsuited to offensive actions.”

One switch or another did… something, and a rocket streaked out from just above Toji’s head and speared the enemy head-on. It disintegrated, and he turned his attention to the next in line, only to see that it had already been chewed up. How, he had no idea, but he shrugged and turned onwards… just in time to see the third and fourth enemies blown apart by rockets that he’d apparently fired?

“Good work, pilot,” the voice said, as if to mock him - he hadn’t really done anything, after all.

There was a score screen, and then the simulator pod opened; the green-skinned monster was still there, and nodded at Toji as he stepped out - Kensuke was also waiting there, looking like he always did when the local muscle noticed he’d been taking pictures he shouldn’t have been taking.

“Captain wants ta talk to youse,” the beast said, arms folded.

“What did you do?” Toji moaned, accepting the inevitable.


Kensuke’s dread only increased with each step they took towards the top of the ship; even the sight of a four-legged dog robot engaged in conversation with a medieval-looking knight didn’t raise his spirits. The two boys were marched all the way up to the bridge, and for a moment Kensuke marvelled at the, well, marvels around him; seven large control seats, festooned with cables and monitors and knick-knacks of all kinds (he swore he recognised a Gunpla sitting on one monitor from his own collection), all dark. The view ahead was even more impressive, the front window looking over the twin turrets with the lake and even Mt. Fuji in the background… and the captain of the ship standing in the window, tail swaying from one side to the other, one hand resting on a sword hilt.

“These two, you said?” she said, sounding British of all accents.

“Yes, these two,” another man said, stepping out from behind one of the consoles (was it just Kensuke, or did the captain roll her eyes at that?). He was the man who’d argued with the Ork next to the simulators, Kensuke realised - and the dread increased another tenfold. Well, at least this would be his first diplomatic incident. “I’m quite certain they took my wallet - and my phone. That has classified information on it.”

The captain smiled. “Well, Ambassador, you’re in luck. Spacer Mlarg is a streamer - constantly recording everything he sees, you know. So, all we have to do is review the footage…”

The man paled. “That won’t be necessary. I recall now - they fell out of my pocket in the simulators. My deepest -”

An alarm blared, the screens at every control station lighting up at once. The captain wordlessly took two bounding steps towards one of them, and put on a headset - a normal human one, with holes for her cat ears.

“Report,” she barked, and paled as someone on the other end responded. The whole ship rumbled, and practically shot out of the water; Kensuke tripped, clutching at a nearby control station to stay balanced, as the ship rolled over onto its side just in time for a beam of blue light to hit just in front of the window.

“Get these damn kids off the bridge!” the captain yelled, and Kensuke felt himself dragged backwards by the scruff of his neck; he twisted, desperately keeping the window in his view, and was rewarded by the sight of a shining blue octohedron, floating above the lake.

No, that was wrong - there were two.
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Re: Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Sto

Post by VX-145 »

Chapter 4

Imagine, for a moment, being a spaceship, twisting and rolling and pitching to catch just one more beam to protect the city behind you. You have three hearts, each burning brighter than the Sun itself, eyes sharp enough to see a speck of dust on the surface of Pluto (and ears to hear it fall - even through the vacuum of space), and a whole lot of very sharp teeth. That’s not all, though, you are each and every single one of its crew, a combined ten thousand years of thoughts and memory, the whole becoming more than the sum of its parts. You grew up in a hundred different places, and yet you were built, you are in a hundred different places, and yet you are one.

And all of you is fighting over exactly what music to play.

That is how it feels to be an Endeavour spacer operating at full capacity.

Katerina Claes rocked, two beams of blue light playing over her hull, and spat back defiance in the form of twenty-eight solid spines of hyperdense matter; the shock of their passing parting the very atmosphere and making waves as tall as the ship in the lake. Exotic matter met AT Field, and disintegrated; antimatter met energy shield, and hellfire washed over the hull, radiating out into uselessness.

Shields, primary, 89%, recharging. Shields, secondary, online, charging to 100%. Enemy will need to increase firepower by 10% in order to reduce primary shield below recharge capacity, and 15% total in order to threaten penetration. BLOOD! FOR THE BLOOD GOD! Repairs to dorsal autologi trunk line complete; main battery fire rate at 100%. Particle Beam Lance repairs still underway, estimated time until emergency fire capacity: 00d 08hr 43m 10s. Incoming fire. Hit - starboard hangar, dorsal. Shields, primary, 89%, recharging. WITNESS!

Her secondary batteries lit up, a hail of rainbow colours bridging the gap between Claes and an incoming beam, and a cloud of fire blossomed as the two met. That octohedron kept firing, but the other… the other changed tack, twisting along its W-axis to bring a more powerful weapon to bear; to an outside observer, limited to just the X, Y, Z and T dimensions, it looked like the Angel split apart into two columns of overlaid cuboids.

Incoming fire. Hit - Main Battery Turret 6. Shields, primary, 77%, recharging. YOU! SHALL (NOT)! PASS! Main Battery reloaded - firing. No effect on target. Environmental damage - within tolerance. Always wanted to go camping here. Shifting ammunition mix to turbo-shot, reload in 06s. Incoming fire. Hit - Bridge tower. Shields, primary, 75%, recharging. RIP AND TEAR! RIP AND TEAR UNTIL IT IS DONE!

Incoming transmission.

“How long until Unit 01 launches?” Misato barked, tearing her eyes from the devastation being wrought on the main screen; she’d thought the battle was over when the Katerina Claes vanished in a ball of steam and fire, only for it to rise, seemingly unscathed, and hold both Angels at bay by itself. No answer was forthcoming; the three Lieutenants on the scene were just as transfixed as she’d been. “Stop gawking! How long?”

Hyuga recovered first, checking his monitor; “Pilot has boarded, he’s just going through the synchronisation process now.”

Ibuki brought up the launch map, and Misato pointed at one of the exit points nearer to the lakeside. “Get him there, and send a long-range combat package up after him.”

“Not sure what you expect a rifle to do against those, but on it,” said Aoba.

Misato shot a quick glare at the man. “It’s that or nothing. Ibuki, get in contact with the aliens - we need to work out a plan.” Maybe if they just strapped Unit 01 to the ship, it could get close enough to neutralise one of the Angels’ AT Fields? No, they were taking care to maintain a set distance from the Claes at all times.

“On it. Establishing protocol… Protocol established. You’re live.”

Misato nodded. “Katerina Claes, this is NERV central control. We’re ready to scramble Unit 01, but it won’t be able to get close enough to neutralise either of the Angels’ AT Fields. Can you assist?”

For the briefest moment, she felt two hundred eyes bore into her. She shuddered, and a hundred overlapping voices rang out: “REPAIRING PARTICLE BEAM LANCE. ESTIMATED TIME TO EMERGENCY FIRE CAPACITY: 00d 08hr 40m 10s. DEPLOYMENT OF EVANGELION UNWISE UNTIL THAT TIME. VERY UNWISE. EVACUATION STATUS?”

Hyuga gave her a thumbs-up, and the board looked clear. “All residents evacuated. The city is in interception mode; we can retract the buildings at any time,” Misato said.


The channel cut to static. Ibuki turned to Misato; “Should we have Unit 01 stand down?”

Misato nodded her head. “They’re disengaging; stand down.”

Sachiko stepped onto the prow of the Claes, a laser turret on either side spewing high-intensity death towards the implacable foe. She shuddered, her link with the rest of the ship cut, but her friends were beside her, and that was all that mattered. She linked hands with Akari, and both girls stared out across the bay at their foes.

“Ready?” Sachiko asked, and Akari nodded. They breathed together, and lifted their conjoined hands in the direction of the enemy.

“In the name of justice!” Sachiko began,

“In the name of peace!” said Akari, and in unison, they said:

“Team Twelve Special Shine Attack: GATES OF HELL! OPEN!”

Above the non-shifting Angel, the sky tore itself apart. Snow began to fall, and then fire - unquenchable, intense fire, that had once been the Theotita’s stock of incendiary warheads. Hellfire splashed against the Angel’s AT Field, and floated in place, still alight. A salvo of turbo-shot followed, the warheads lighting off in unison, smashing against a divided AT Field - and breaking through, one blue bolt slamming home against the Angel’s hide.

Both Angels screamed, the injured one floating backwards behind its companion. Fire still blazed a halo above its top-most point, but it was beginning to fade; its energy implacably sucked away by the unyielding shield it rested upon. There was no chance for the Claes to follow up - the second Angel kept the first covered, spinning again on its W-axis to present a shield-type, and both retreated back across the lake at high speed.

It was over - for now.

“How did you do it?”

Captain Carver turned, one ear cocked away from the blonde-haired lab-coated lady who’d interrupted her talk with Katsuragi. “Oh, good, you made it. So, about Target 2-”

“No,” Ritsuko pushed in, “You are not wriggling out of this one. How. Did. You. Do. It?”

“Do what?” Captain Carver asked, blinking.

“Open a portal to some sort of hell dimension! What… what was that? How did you do it, why didn’t you keep doing it, how in the fuck does that even work?” Ritsuko took a deep breath, and forced herself to calm down just a bit - for now.

Captain Carver mused for a moment, then held up a finger. “Right, yes! Okay, so the short answer is we just happened to have an unquenchable fire lying around somewhere inconvenient, so the Claes’ Magical Girl team scooped it up and put it in a netherspace storage pocket until we could figure out what to do about it. Turns out, “dumping it on an Angel” was a good move - but we only had the one, as I was just explaining to Katsuragi here, and Target 2 moved to defend 1 before we could push our advantage. Also, can we call them something other than Targets 1 and 2?”

Ritsuko nodded. “What is a “netherspace storage pocket”, then?”

“It’s a bit of netherspace used to store things. I’d have thought that was obvious.” Something must have shown on Ritsuko’s face, because the infuriating cat-girl continued, with a sigh: “Okay, so imagine that π is exactly three, and k divided by k is equal to eight…”


The explanation Victoria gave was… somewhere about 45% accurate. Close enough that the good Doctor would be able to figure out what was true and false, but not close enough that she wouldn’t have to spend quite a bit of time chasing up every lead just to understand the basic theory. Not that Victoria truly understood it herself; she’d had to crowd-source her little bullshit speech. Still, if it helped keep things on track - and distract NERV from other, slightly more important secrets - it was all good. “So, about Romiel,” Victoria restarted her planned train of thought, “It seems to exist in an extra spatial dimension - W - with what we see being a sort of “shadow” cast into three-dimensional space, like how a sphere casts a circle shadow onto two-dimensional space. We can probably rig something to hit a target whose depth is mostly in the W-axis, but it won’t be powerful enough to break through an AT Field.”

“Romiel?” Katsuragi asked, “Target 2, right?”

“That’s the bunny,” said Victoria. “Ramiel is 1, Romiel is 2. So, in other words, we need to try and get Romiel to have its core at W equals 0, or, fully in X/Y/Z space.” She had diagrams, but trying to display four spatial dimensions at once in three dimensions was… tricky. Katsuragi and Akagi seemed to be following along, though - well, the latter had figured it out independently.

“There’s also another problem to consider,” Akagi interrupted, “When you damaged… Ramiel… we detected a power surge from,” she sighed, “Romiel, then a sudden increase in Ramiel’s repair speed. They could be linked.”

Not only were there two of them, but they were twinned? “So we’ll need two shots, preferably at the same time, both of which need to be a kill. Or one shot that happens to be very lucky.” Victoria felt an ear twitch. “The Claes’ Particle Beam Lance can breach an AT Field and still kill the Angel, but at that power it’d take a good minute to recharge. And the Theotita is still under repair - that’d be the sort of firepower we need.” That part about the Theotita being under repair was something of an exaggeration, but the ship wouldn’t be available for this battle. Better the NERVlings didn’t know the real reason - and she was leading Katsuragi on a little, here.

Sure enough, the NERV officer tilted her head in thought. “I might have an idea,” she said, “But it’s going to need your help.”

Kapetenos soi Pegasi was extremely, ultimately, frustratingly, endlessly and annoyingly, bored. Oh, that was better than the alternative, sure, but ever since the Theotita had slid into dock near Phobos he’d had nothing to do except sit around and wait for the engines to be fixed. There hadn’t been any disciplinary problems with the crew - at least, none that had been brought to his attention - and he’d finished all the paperwork associated with the ship having a giant hole blasted through it by eldritch forces on the way to the dock. He’d taken to spinning in his command throne (well, first he’d taken to some impromptu DIY in making his command throne able to spin), playing various electronic games both Theophanic and Endeavourite.

There was a strangely recursive one about being a ship captain with nothing to do, and having to play video games to pass the time.

When the Angels attacked, he briefly entertained the idea of trying a long-range bombardment, or sending a missile salvo out, but he’d been told to just stand by for now - and now, a few hours after things had calmed down, Captain Carver was finally filling him in.

“-so that’s when I said, “k divided by k is equal to eight!”.” At the complete lack of reaction from soi Pegasi, the woman coughed. “Anyway, so the Angels keep showing up way too early - and there were two of them this time, when there were only supposed to be one. We’re only just supposed to be fighting the last Angel!”

soi Pegasi span around, slowly. “Not much we can do about that from up here. Theotita’s back in fighting condition, thanks to those engineers of yours, so we can be down to help within the day.” The repairs had also required significant efforts from the technognostiki, of course, but he’d already flattered them.

Carver shook her head. “No, Muffins had a bit of an idea that could be worth following up on.” A projection of Earth lit itself up in the space between soi Pegasi and the screen, with little crosses orbiting it. “She suspects that there’s an Angel behind all this. If you position your kleptoi in these positions, in conjunction with the Claes’ fighter wing, we should have full coverage of the whole planet with all sensor types. If you spot an unaccounted-for Angel...”

soi Pegasi stopped spinning, and considered the idea. “Better that than this interminable wait. If it’s out there, we’ll kill it.”

Rei did not get bored. She was disciplined, and had mental fortitude sufficient enough to withstand any torment, which boredom certainly was not. She most definitely had not resorted to counting the ceiling tiles in her hospital room during her thankfully-over stay, and only appreciated the access to Endeavour’s media library* for the tactical advantages it provided. For example, that cool people always looked away from explosions, and that any problem could be solved with the correct mixture of friendship and antimatter-powered death.

That last part was particularly relevant right now, as her and Shinji** were currently sat in front of an immense Positron Cannon, listening to Dr. Akagi, Captain Katsuragi and a smattering of aliens list off the operations plan for tonight while rain splashed down around them. Another group of aliens were busy cutting open the hull of their cruiser, a task which Dr. Akagi seemed to be having difficulty tearing her eyes from.

“With the ship’s Number Three reactor powering the cannon,” the taller alien with a revolver on his hip said, “it’ll recharge in a hair under two minutes, with some variability coming from how hot the capacitors are runnin’. That should synchronise nice and proper like with the Claes, but whoever’s firin’ will still need to wait for our signal - and vice versa.”

Captain Katsuragi took over. “The primary shooter will be Unit 01, piloted by Shinji. Rei, you’ll be on standby in Unit 00, in case one of the Angels manages to land a hit; you’ll take over firing in that case.”

A short, dome-headed robot on three wheeled legs beeped and whistled, being translated a second later by one of the other aliens: “R2 says not to worry about the gun - so long as the particle accelerator isn’t damaged, it can be repaired. He also wants you both to know that you’ll be behind solid armour plate and whatever energy shielding we can scrounge up, which should provide some protection if the Angels focus fire on you.”

“The operation will commence at 0100 hours tonight,” Captain Katsuragi continued, “By that time, Ramiel should have regenerated to full capacity, and both Angels will be on approach. We will open fire with cruise missiles and artillery batteries first, while the Katerina Claes flies an evasive course and engages with its secondary battery. Once both Particle Beam Lance and Positron Cannon are charged, we will try to kill both Angels simultaneously. If the Angels do not approach, or only one chooses to attack, the Claes will launch an offensive in the hopes of luring the enemy into the kill-zone. The Claes will, in either case, attempt to destroy the target labelled Romiel - if, however, it turns out either of you needs to take that shot, be wary that it will only be vulnerable when it is firing at full power.”

“Remember,” Dr. Akagi spoke for the first time, “Positron streams are affected by gravity, electromagnetic forces, wind, and the Coriolis Effect. Ramiel, in addition, uses a Positron Cannon of its own - that beam will repel your shot, since they are the same charge, so take care to shoot at Ramiel only when it is not firing at you.”

Rei nodded, and Shinji muttered an affirmative. The group of lecturers moved on, leaving the two pilots alone for a while. Rei looked out over the city, the bastion of humanity against the darkness, and the ship floating overhead - another bastion, from another time.

“Ayanami?” Shinji said, hesitation evident in his voice. She turned, to indicate she was listening. “Are you scared? About having to pilot Evangelion again, I mean?”

Rei thought on that. What was fear, really? Had she ever felt it? Would she? “No,” was what she said. Then, because she’d read somewhere that it was polite, she asked: “Are you?”

“Not as much as I thought I’d be.” Shinji leant back, resting on his arms. “I think… if we were doing this alone, I couldn’t do it. I was terrified the first time, you know? Having to go out and fight a giant monster, and getting hurt, but… if the adults could do it, they would. Some of them try to even though they can’t. It’s still scary, but not as much.” He nodded to himself, turned and smiled at Rei. “So, I’ll do my best, and make sure you don’t get hurt.”

0055. Nearly showtime. Victoria mentally toggled the ship’s communications suite to broadcast her words to the crew and local NERV forces, and quickly swapped out the words in her normal pre-battle speech:

“Spacers of Endeavour,” she began, “And our brave allies. I’m not going to waste more words than necessary, and most of you have heard this a dozen times over by now. For the first time in this ship’s history, however, we are fighting an enemy that’s our equal, and playing for keeps. If we win, everyone gets to experience the sweetness of life for another day - but if we lose, this planet will be denuded entirely of life that isn’t octahedral. Make no mistake; they are a danger both to this ship, and to the great Evangelions that stand beside us. Even so, we hold all the advantages; we are shielded, we are armoured, our weapons are better and we have home at our back. Well, that’s it. You know what to do - so get to it.”

0100. Operation: start.

Slowly, this time, the Angels floated forwards. Missiles, rockets, shells and even a few small-calibre bullets flew towards them, effortlessly deflected by their AT Fields.

Victoria took in a breath, and let it out. She leaned back, closed her eyes, and let herself go.

The Katerina Claes waited, suspended in mid-air above the city - or at least, where the city had been before being retracted into the ground. She tensed, coiled up, and every single one of her eyes was fixed upon the line at which battle would finally be joined. Both Angels crossed the line in unison, and the Claes pounced forth, guns blazing; of course, even her formidable firepower couldn’t even scratch the Angels, but it wasn’t meant to. All she had to do was provoke the enemy into making themselves vulnerable.

Ramiel fired back first, antimatter washing over the cruiser’s shields, fiercer than last time. Perhaps it had taken the opportunity to make itself stronger? It didn’t matter. Romiel joined in, spinning to present a four-pronged form; both were concentrating their fire on the same point, hoping to break through the Claes’ shield. Neither, however, had noticed the blue light dripping from the ship’s prow - or maybe, they didn’t care. Whichever it was, it was also a mistake.

Particle Accelerator at full spin. Collecting particles. Turbolaser Encasement System active. Target acquired. Particle Beam Lance ready to fire.


The Particle Beam Lance was one of the most sophisticated and powerful weapons in existence, even in the Claes’ home universe. The principle was deceptively simple; a circular particle accelerator generated antimatter, which was then “wrapped” in a shell made of charged gas. Of course, this required reactors capable of outputting more energy than the whole state of Japan in 2015, electromagnets forged from exotic materials, gas that only occurred naturally in 0.2% of all gas giants and energy shielding. Each had to be built to exacting standards, and then adjusted from those to fit the ship they were mounted on; a slight variation in a ship’s configuration could lead to the weapon simply not working - or an unplanned rapid disassembly of the ship. Building and fitting a single Particle Beam Lance required the specialised infrastructure of the Shikinami Naval Arsenal in Endeavour, and took a full month.

All of this, for a slight click, a loud CHOOM, and a jet of blue flame lancing from the Claes’ prow towards the spinning Romiel. An AT Field, the inviolate space composed of identity itself and powered by a bottomless well of power, sprang up to meet it - and was shattered into a thousand orange shards. The beam pierced the Angel’s physical shell (at least, that of it which had a W=0 co-ordinate) and detonated, blue shards and blood joining the still-falling pieces of AT Field.

Romiel screamed, spikes jutting out from its body, and sank back slightly; Ramiel interposed itself between the Claes and Romiel, still firing its own weapon. Again, Romiel screamed - but this time, it was fury, and not pain; it span into a starfish pattern, and a sensor on board the Claes registered that the Angel had taken the bait; its core was now at W=0. Naturally, that also meant that the beam it was charging right now was backed by the full might of its S2 engine, but with just a bit of luck the battle would be over in the next thirty seconds.

A hundred and one voices called out: “NOW!”, and Unit 01, lying in a carefully hidden hide, squeezed the trigger of its immense Positron Cannon. A purple beam streaked forth, the tip breaching Ramiel’s AT Field and striking its body at the join between two of its plates. The rear of the beam, however, twisted as Ramiel turned to face the new threat, whipping across the Claes’ hull and leaving an angry orange scar.

Ignoring the wound, the Claes began firing her own shot. Something within her cracked, and the beam lanced just a few metres from the prow before spluttering out, and the ship’s fail-safes kicked in, flooding the Lance’s firing chamber with fire-suppression foam.

Fire burst from Ramiel’s back, the Angel falling as its companion had a few moments ago, but it righted itself; just as feared, the two Angels were twinned. And, with the Claes’ Lance out of commission, they had one usable weapon to kill both Angels.

Both Angels, seeing a new threat and perhaps perceiving that the Claes was damaged, turned their fire towards the mountainside fortress. Backed by the city’s power grid, the Endeavourite shields protecting Unit 01 could hold for a time, and the armour for a bit longer, but not indefinitely.

New plan needed. Repairs to Particle Beam Lance infeasible in the context of this battle. NO-ONE MAKES US BLEED OUR OWN BLOOD! Need to get two Angels with one shot. Estimated time until enemy breaches Unit 01’s defences: 01m 30s. Ramiel has taken damage, but is at full defensive capacity. RAMMING SPEED?


Shinji took in a deep breath, gagging slightly at the taste of LCL. The Positron Cannon was recharging, and the Angels had yet to breach the shield protecting him - but the alien cruiser was damaged, and it was his fault. He should have known the Angel would turn towards him, that the beam would be deflected - damn it all. What could he do?

Overlapping voices came from the SPEECH ONLY box to his left: “BE READY TO FIRE.” He physically felt himself straighten back up. The fight wasn’t over yet; he could still do this. Not that he knew what the new plan was, but it was better than sitting and waiting to die.

Both Angels kept concentrating their fire on the last remaining threat: the Positron Cannon wielded by Unit 01, and the fortress that kept both safe. Recognising that the Katerina Claes was no longer an existential threat, they ignored the cruiser entirely, even as it kept pouring shots into their flanks from its secondary batteries. That was their second mistake; the ship powered backwards, and then lit its main engines as one.

One hundred thousand tonnes of Endeavour cruiser slammed into Ramiel’s AT Field at supersonic speed, AT Field meeting energy shield and both standing firm. Whatever arcane mechanism the Angel used to move kicked in, but the Angel was slowly and surely pushed sideways - and the Kleftis, joining the battle from halfway across the planet, impacted into Romiel’s side with its hull aglow, forcing the two Angels ever closer.

Not fast enough, though, as the shielding on Unit 01’s mountain fortress flickered and died, and armour began to redden and sag. Just as the twin beams of energy breached the final plate, Unit 00 was there, its AT Field at maximum strength; even this was a scant defence, but it held the ravening beams at bay long enough for the two Angels to finally line up. Shinji wasted no time, squeezing the trigger once more; it reached out, blew threw Ramiel and Romiel, and came out the other side.

Their deaths were oddly anticlimactic; they sagged, Romiel dissolving into blood, and Ramiel settling into the lake. Not that many were even watching; already, attention had shifted towards getting Units 01 and 00 out of the fort, and rescuing their pilots.

*Well, most of a full library; references to a certain media property had been carefully removed.
**Rei used Shinji’s first name to distinguish him from the Commander.
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Re: Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Sto

Post by VX-145 »

The first of a series of shorter chapters. I'll also be away for a week or so, so the next one will take a while.
Chapter 5

Rei’s mouth was dry; an all-too-familiar sensation, especially in conjunction with the smell of antiseptic cleaner and soft noises of various medical machines. She opened her eyes, forcing sleep to part; and sure enough, she was in NERV’s medical wing once more, though it was pitch black. This time, she wasn’t in pain, even if she did feel a little stiff. What had happened? The alien ship - the Katerina Claes - had been damaged, somehow, so they’d had to line up the two Angels so Shinji could kill them both with one shot; she hadn’t even been told the plan, just somehow known exactly what it was, how long it would take Shinji to fire, how long it would take the Katerina Claes and the other alien ship to push both Angels into line, and how long it would take for the firing position’s defences to collapse.

That last number had been smaller than the other two, so she’d moved, and Unit 00 had taken the hit, both Angels’ attacks burning through her AT Field and just about to breach her armour when Shinji had taken the shot. Given the level of exposure she’d had, it was unusual that she’d suffered no sympathetic injuries - or burns from overheating LCL, for that matter. Maybe the aliens had used their medical technology again?

She sat up and stretched out, casting her eyes about for any of the aliens; none were waiting in the room this time, but some loungewear had been left out for her bearing one of their many, many symbols. More evidence towards the alien medical technology theory. Unfortunately, they hadn’t left her a book - and she didn’t feel tired enough to go back to sleep. Lying back, she tried to count the ceiling tiles, only to lose track about halfway through. Counting heartbeats was the same, and she kept rolling over again and again.

Maybe a drink and a walk would help; she was still thirsty. She swung her legs out of the bed, got changed, and stepped out into the hallway; there was a drinking fountain with plastic cups at each lobby, so she made her way towards the light. No-one was on duty, but that made sense; the clock read 0411 and this was Ward 3, which shared a duty nurse with 4 overnight. There was, however, the bulky form of Brother Somnius in the corner, soft snoring coming from his vision slit. She procured the papercup from the dispenser (the last time she had been here, it had been plastic, but the change was unimportant*) and began filling her cup. With the sound that produced, however, Somnius stopped snoring.

You are awake,” he said, the quietness of his voice at odds with the baritone. “How are you feeling?

“I am functional,” Rei said, sitting down.

That is not what I meant.

Rei took a sip of water, and thought for a moment. Normally, that question meant “are you functional”, in her experience. “I am not in pain. I am slightly cold.”

Very good. Do you require anything else?


Good.” The machine stood in silence for a while, and then rumbled: “May I ask a question?” He just had. Ignoring that, Rei nodded. “What were your motives for placing yourself in the path of the Angel’s attack?

Rei thought that should have been obvious. “The operation would have failed if I had not. My survival would be irrelevant.”

That is heartening. I had feared that you intended to sacrifice yourself in some way; that would have done - and will do - no good. Such an attitude is… unbecoming. It is better to live for yourself than to die for an Emperor.

“That is hypocritical; you are a sacrifice,” Rei countered, her words sudden; something clenched within her. “A person who is entombed within the machine, to do nothing but fight.”

I am not the one entombed. I am the tomb. Even if I did not fight, I would be thus.

“But you are still a soldier,” Rei said, “Sacrifice is an inherent part of that identity. A soldier is one who sacrifices themself to protect another.”

The machine’s torso swayed from one side to the other. “No. I am a spacer. We do place ourselves at risk to protect others, but that is not the core part of our purpose. I am as much an explorer as I am a soldier. Even then, soldiers do not sacrifice themselves; they place themselves at risk, and for many different reasons. I, for example, am an Endeavour spacer because I wanted adventure; I am a Custodiant because I sympathised with the teachings, and I have this form because it is the one I like best. To go into battle expecting to sacrifice yourself is counterproductive at best.” Rei yawned, almost cutting Somnius off. “A full discussion will have to wait for a more appropriate hour,” the man-machine intoned. “I, too, am weary.

“Yes,” Rei said, standing; she retreated back to the room, going over the man-machine’s strange philosophy. She would have to press for further details; it was counter to what she had been told - and, for that matter, the Commander had asked her to pass on any details the aliens told her.

Λόγχη που βυθίζεται στις καρδιές των απίστων για να κλέψει τον θησαυρό τους για τους δίκαιους**, or Dikaous, for short, was a quiet, orderly ship. Moreso, now that most of his crew was dead - but through the grace of the technognostiki (and some Endeavour computer systems), he flew with just three of his crew present. Currently, the craft, one of the Theotita’s few remaining kleptoi boarding ships, hovered in place over Europe, waiting for the arcane device the technognostiki had shoved in their troop bay to do its work. It had been several hours so far, and showed no signs of completing any time soon.

Currently, the crew was engaged in conversation with their Endeavour counterpart currently scanning the area to their south.

“So,” Ava-3396 said, “you’re telling me that we weren’t sucked into the past, but into an entirely fictional world?”

The man on the other end, clad in an ancient-looking space-suit with clear visor, nodded. “Well, kinda not fictional, now we’re here. But this isn’t how Earth was, at least according to the records we have. No red seas or anything like that - well, aside from the Red Sea, but that was never literal. And it fits some works of fiction we have, at least in the broad strokes.”

Ava and his two companions were silent, at that; he couldn’t speak for the other two, but his own mind was trying to deal with the idea that he’d been transported not just through time but through… realities? Universes? He muttered a quick prayer for protection and guidance. “How are we supposed to get home?”

The Endeavour pilot shrugged. “I tried helping with the science doo-hickey Engineering’s working on, but I never studied hyperspatial dynamics so it all kinda went over my head. That might work, or, maybe we were sent here to do something. Hell, might be there is no way back. I’m not concerned either way.”

“Why in Theoua’s name not?” Eris, to Ava’s right, asked, her voice shocked. “I would like to see my home once more in this life - do you not desire the same?” Ava couldn’t relate, really, he’d been born aboard the Theotita, but some of the common crew hadn’t.

“Not much I can do about it, really. And besides, there’s a problem I can solve in front of me; better to work on that.”

Ava opened his mouth to say something, before an oddity on his screen caught his attention. “Have either of you checked the readings from sectors 33 to 48?”

“What about them?” Livy, the other crewman, asked, “They look just normal to me.”

“Okay, so what exactly are they? In numbers.”

“...Normal.” Livy paused for a second. “Ah.”

“Yeah, that ain’t right. So…” Ava thought, carefully writing down what he knew right at that moment in case he forgot again. “Transmit our data on E-33 through E-48 to the Theotita, and tag it agnoíthike.”

Agnoíthike?" soi Pegasi stirred, wheeling his command throne around. "That’s not a code I’m familiar with.”

“T̷̘̤͘͜ḥ̸̊̊̋̕ȧ̵̱͊͘t̸̜̩̎̓ͅ ̴̺͇̼͇͒̋̄c̶͎̱̭̟̓o̷̼̬̫̍d̴͎̓̅e̶͎̝̊̽̉ ̶̹̎ì̷̦n̸̼̖̓̂d̴̖͆͊̿̑ǐ̶͙̮̗̻c̷̺̤̫̎a̵̡̜͆́͛͂t̷͚̞́̃̀e̸͈̰̔̔̒̈ͅs̷̪͍̯̫̈͘ ̸̩̼̖̋̾â̵͓̍̄̍n̶̬̱̫͌ ̵̢̛͖̳̜e̴̯͖͑͌ņ̴̫̰͊̀̓͘ȩ̸̳̲̈͌̕m̶̧̢̲̑̃ÿ̸̘͉́͋͘͝ ̴̡̭͔̆w̶̛̭͖̾̄͠h̷̻̜̻̏̋͘ȋ̶̠c̴̣̩͌̈̑ḩ̶̟͎̪̌ ̶̖̭̱̬̆̀͌m̵͍̩̘͉̄͛̌͝ạ̸̰̤̓ḳ̸͓̋̈̾ę̸̙̦͔͐̇̃s̴̭̕͠ ̸̭͛ĩ̴̯̗̦̀͜ṱ̵̯̘́͐͝s̷̫̘̔̂̓́ͅë̴̙̭̼̘́l̶̨̰͚̗̉́͛f̷̯̣͓͖̈́́ ̶̩͓͇͊̐u̴̢͕̙̍̊n̷̢̦̳͍̿ķ̴̦̬̽̐ñ̴̫̰̤̠́̈́͝ǫ̸̠̓͂͆͜w̴̻͗̀̕͝n̶̗͉͆̕ ̵̢̘̻͖̾i̸̦͌́̐͝n̷͔͇̈́̓͂ ̵̦̲́̀͆t̷̞̘͎̿ḣ̸̬͔͒̚e̵̟̘̲͂̄̃͝ͅ ̷̪̯̘͋̈́͝m̷̹͑̽͐ï̶͙̕n̵̠͕̈̾͌̕ď̸̖̞̜̆s̷͙̹̝̩̀͒͒͛ ̷͎̠̉ö̵̥́͊͊f̵̦̯͉̓͜ ̶̼̘͖̖̀͊t̴̟̪͉̐ͅh̸͚͆̔o̸̠̱̿́̿͘s̴̡̜̱̤̈́́͐͑e̸̯̬͓͉̾ ̴̣̪͍̃̏̀̕ŵ̶͚̹̿̅h̴̬̗̥͕͑̔́͋ŏ̶̥̙͖ͅ ̸̯͓̰͌o̶̺̿͘͝b̵̢͓͉͛̆ṡ̶̝͚͈ę̷̈́̓͘r̷̢̯̈v̸̺̠̿͜e̷̞͈͆ ̷̲̂̃͋̆ǐ̸̮̭̪̬t̶̨̲̺͆̓͊̄.̵̘̺̽͛̏̚ͅ” Frater Beckett reported, soi Pegasi straining to make out the words - he’d never quite picked up the knack for decoding the strange modulated voices of the technognostiki. “I̷̜̚t̴̲̺̺̄̈͗͝ ̷̢̙̻̃h̵̻̣͙̀̍a̵͙̦̗̿̈́̋s̴̙͋ ̴͙͓̕n̷̨͕̠̞͊̕e̸̱̋͆̚͝v̸͖̳̦̍̄͝e̷̠͕̹̒́̈r̷͎̆̓ ̷̫͋̀̕b̷̨͂̈́͠ȅ̷̺̤̕ë̵̮̪͙́n̷̨̙̱͓̓ ̶̰̻̀̋u̴̧͊̅͝ş̶̛̟͉͚e̴̪͘͝d̴͓̪̰̪͑̀.̵̦̈́̐̓ͅ ̸̭̥̫̀̉̀̏”

“Most interesting,” soi Pegasi said, “Do we have a countermeasure?”

“We do,” replied Frater Beckett. “Í̸̤͉̈́ṱ̷̢͚̼̈́́͐ ̸̥̀ẅ̷̢̺́ͅi̷̫͒̈̊l̴̟̯̹̼̍̓͐̎l̵͈̎͂̀ ̵͓̳͕̂͘ṯ̸̨̫͇̄̿̀̚a̸̲̬͑̔̾͊k̷̡͖͆e̵̹̜̒́ ̶̻̥͋͆̇̏s̵̘̮̄̋͗̀o̶̡̩̠͒̿m̷̦̜̹̪͐̐̕ë̵̦͔ ̶̡̨̲̀͊̈́̀t̶̢̟͖̊̈́͠i̶͚͓̘͛̐̽m̴̨̛̼͈̀̔e̸̖̦͛ ̶͕͖̻͊͗t̴̥̂̾͘ő̵̢̧̱̯̇ ̵͕͋̿d̷͓̍̉e̷̯͊p̵̩͕͔̈͊̄l̴̗̄̀o̴̞͘ỳ̵̺̰͇͋́̌͜;̴̙͎͌͠ ̷͈͎̫̈I̶͕͕̍ ̴̫̼͍̎̃̓w̶̯̰͛ï̵̬͐l̷̰̃l̷̝̣̺̐̈́̉͆ ̵͍̯̽̿̇̀͜o̸͔̓v̸̠̔̌e̷̹̟̽ͅr̴̻̿͒̏̑s̵̹̞̤͍̉́ȅ̶̦͖̟̹͐̄͘e̴̪̬̭̥͂ ̷̢̦̼͜͝t̵̺̣̋̔̇̈́h̴͇̑̇ě̶͔̈ ̴̢̀͗̇p̴̧̮̺͜͝r̷̦͚͊e̷̪͋̉͠p̶̧̛͚̣̗͗̏a̷͕͊͆r̴̠͍͖̝͂̈́̚ä̷̹t̵̗̺̬͆̈́́̊i̷͕̩̐̔̆͝o̷̬̙͉̣͑̄̚n̴̜͓̾̂š̷͓̖̺̏̈ ̴͕͒͋̀p̷̨̲̦̱̎͂̀͘e̸̛̼͆̏̚ṟ̸̥͈̻͂̍s̸̜͎̝̭̓o̴̩̯̤͎͂̃͋͒ń̶̟̥̈́̋a̷̭̔̿̿͆ḽ̷͇͐̆̉͠l̶̳͖̳͌̿͛ͅÿ̴̻̣͔̩͂.̵̢̜̞́̂”

“Carry on, then.” He turned to leave, then held up a finger. “How long until the repairs to the engines are complete?”

Frater Beckett consulted an ologramma woven from threads of green light in front of his face. “Ť̶͚̲̭̞͊w̴̖̭͘o̴̪̺̹̅ ̵̩̻̳̉͠͝d̵̩͓̽͋͑a̵̱̳̿̎́̋y̶͔͉͗̑̊͝s̵̛̹̮̑̇.̴͇̘̪̤̐”

“Good. We’ll move to Earth then; leave behind only what crew is needed to keep this base functional - I suspect we’ll have need of it ere long.”

Finally, the time was at hand. The aliens, their ship damaged, were on the backfoot, distracted and casting about for help - the perfect time to gather what information could be gathered, and push for whatever advantage could be gained. To this end, Gendo was feeling almost high-spirited as he made his way up the decks of the alien warship. One glance at the technology on display was enough to tell him that whatever civilisation they came from, it was far closer to the Tree of Life than humanity. He prepared himself for a knock-down drag-out battle of the minds, checked that his phone was still running, and knocked on the lounge door.

The door opened, revealing the alien calling itself Victoria… dressed in underwear and with a toothbrush hanging from her mouth. A cartoon featuring those strange marshmallow equine-adjacent things was playing on a screen at the other end of the room; Victoria held up a hand and it paused.

“‘Sup?” the alien said, one ear tilting a little. They waved their held-up hand and were clothed in their usual uniform-esque clothes. The toothbrush remained, of course, but Gendo was well-prepared for the aliens’ chaos.

“Good morning,” he said, bowing slightly. “How go the repairs to your vessel?”

“The damage from the battle is repaired,” the alien said. “And we’ve started work on the city’s defences - the mayor’s office was quite keen for us to get going as soon as possible. With your permission, we’d like to work on the Evangelion units as well; even if we only supplied the external armour, it would cut down repair times significantly.”

“Very well. I shall have Akagi make the arrangements.” The mayor’s office? They were a puppet controlled by the MAGI, which meant the supercomputers had acted of their own accord. He would have to make sure such a thing could not be repeated. He waited just long enough for it to be awkward, and then said: “There were two Angels, this time.”

“Yeah, that was a new one. Good thing the Kleftis was close by, y’know? Speaking of-” The alien produced a small USB drive from their hand, and tossed it over to Gendo. “There’s plans on there for a new warship - nothing fancy, basically just one of those positron cannons strapped to some engines, but that’s all we can build at the minute. I’d like NERV to give it a once-over; we’re going to present it to the UN within the week. Should stop us having to use child soldiers, and if that doesn’t work our pilot training programme will kick in by the end of the year. Hopefully.”

“Pilot training programme?” Gendo asked, carefully keeping his face impassive. Many had tried to replace NERV and Project E - all had failed, and only a few of those had required a push.

“Yeah, making it so actual soldiers can pilot. They’ll probably need new Evas - 00 and 01 are real uncooperative - but you’ve got a couple building, so we can use those.” The alien looked up casually, finally taking the toothbrush from their mouth and waving it slightly as though they hadn’t just proposed turning NERV’s organisation on its head and disposing of their two qualified pilots. “How’s that sound?”

“...You will have to consult the United States of North America,” Gendo said. “Their government paid for those units.”

“Of course,” said the alien, “They’ll get their due.” Something chimed, and the alien’s ears twitched. “Ah, that’s my 10 o’clock. Do you need someone to see you out?”

“No, I will manage.” Gendo turned back out the door - which hadn’t closed - and strode purposefully back to the airlock, and from there back to the waiting sedan. It was only once he was inside and he had checked carefully for listening devices or other such nonsense that he fished his phone out of his pocket. A smirk found its way onto his face, despite his best efforts, at the notification that the download had finished; he opened up the internet browser, and navigated to the first of the downloaded web pages.

“WELCOME TO ENDEAVOURPEDIA” blinked up at him, on and off. A full, unredacted store of the alien’s knowledge, at his fingertips - literally. All he had to do now, was figure out how to use it.

*A passing Theophanic soldier had taken the time to replace the cups with a more environmentally-friendly alternative. This would go on to spawn a horror franchise, The Mystery of the Changing Cups.
**“Spear that plunges into the hearts of the unfaithful to steal their treasure for the righteous”
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Re: Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Sto

Post by VX-145 »

Another short chapter.
Chapter 6

The rain hadn’t stopped pouring down on Tokyo-3 since the first Angel battle; Dr. Akagi had said something about artificial pressure fronts and high-energy systems, but all Shinji knew is it made running away uncomfortable. He shivered, desperately wishing he’d remembered to bring an umbrella, and ducked into a covered alleyway for at least a minute of not being rained upon. Slumping down against a wall, he brushed the water from his eyes; a cat came up to him, meowing softly.

“I don’t have anything,” he said, but the cat persisted, nuzzling its head against his leg. Idly, he scratched it behind its ear. “What am I even doing?” The memory of his positron beam scouring the Katerina Claes’ bow flashed into his mind, and he doubled over. All that talk, and he’d still messed it up. There was nowhere to run to, though; he’d seen the state of the roads.

“Running away would be my guess, kid.” The voice made Shinji look up; a large purple-y monster wearing a vest and a shoulder holster was standing at the mouth of the alley. Either he was further gone than he’d thought, or the other was an alien. “And freezing yourself to death. You don’t wanna be getting hypothermia, let me tell you.” Shinji remained silent, but the alien came closer anyway. “I’d have taken the train, myself - if any were running. Have a drink, kid, warm yourself up.” The alien held out a mug of what looked like - but most definitely did not smell like - coffee. Tentatively, Shinji accepted it - he was damned cold - and took a sip; it didn’t taste like coffee either. He didn’t know what it tasted like, but he did know he both never wanted to taste it again and that he inevitably would.

“So, kid, what’s up?” Shinji stayed sullenly silent. The alien sighed. “If this is about the little friendly fire incident, no-one was hurt. Hell, no-one was even in the compartment you hit - and it’s not your fault the damn thing fired and deflected your shot in that direction.”

“Ayanami was hurt,” Shinji said.

The alien gave him a sympathetic look. “Kid, I’m probably not supposed to tell you this, but… we’re from the future, right? I know she’d have gotten hurt one hell of a lot worse if things had been different; if you’d been a little slower, or the like.” He looked thoughtful, for a second; “Though I guess there was only supposed to be one Angel, too. So, I guess you’re doin’ even better than I said.”

Heat welled up inside Shinji; he bit out: “What do you even care? I’ll pilot the Eva, and you could just heal me if I get sick.”

“Be careful not to cut yourself with that edge, kid,” the alien said, holding up both paws in a gesture of pacification. “I ain’t here ‘cause of that eldritch crap. Hell, I was just walkin’ outta that bar up ahead when I saw you stumble in here; never had actual honest-to-Godorrei beer before.” The alien sighed, again, and held out one paw. “Let’s just get you back home, okay?”

Well, it wasn’t like there was much point in running anymore; Shinji nodded, and accepted the alien’s paw.

The only rain in the Geo-Front was artificial, or maybe metaphorical. The former, cascading down from specialised pipes criss-crossing the upper dome of the structure, the latter - entirely on one Gendo Ikari’s parade. See, learning about Endeavourpedia’s existence had been one trial - he’d had to stage an incident during the Katerina Claes’ open day in order to allow his agent access to their computers* - and then obtaining a phone capable of downloading the entire thing in less than ten minutes, even in plain text format, had required calling in a number of favours that he’d rather have kept in his back pocket. All that effort**, and what he’d obtained was a barely readable, disorganised mass of information.

For illustrative purposes, an example article opening paragraph, after being run through a clean-up procedure:

͈̍͆́̈̈͟T̘͔̝̮̰̲ͨ̉̑̏̒̀̉͟h̦̱͖̮͇̪̜͊ͯͥ͛͌i̟͉̞̫s̓̆͗ͯ̍̈҉̩̻̰ ̢̗̗̤̥̰a̶͔̗̔̓͂̔r̥̼͎̤̤ͦͯͅt͉͉̮̞̻ͭ͑̓ͩ̇i͙̥̋ͭ̀̏́̈c̻͗̅́͋l͙̆ͧͨ͐̋e̅̄ͣ͒͜ ̩͙̺̫̄͢i̱͓͉ͨͦͬș͍ͪ̍̑͐ ̷̤͉̑ͪ͑̿̃̚a̮̥̜̫̜̱̰̐͐̆͐b̭̤ͪͪo͇̭͍̙̱͐͑ͤ͐̊u̸̱̫ͦͥt͓ ̭̫̪̭͌ͩ̀ͅf̤̂̈́͛̅ͥ̈́̚u̱͚̣͊̌ͫ̋͗̅̉̕r̺̯̭̪͉̈n̠̖̬̣̬̈i̻͋̾t̢̝̱͗u͇͎̻͌ͭ̊̏ͤr̴̪͉̞̾̇̀̎͛ͯe͔͔͎̹ͪ͛͜.͙͕͈̹̞͛̇ͣ̆ ͕̰̬͙̝̜ͨ̐͌ͯͦF̲͙̞̈̾ͥ̉̇͋ͅö̴̳̿ͮ̽̚r̴̬̖̈̍ͩͨͤͬ ̳̝̗̦̖̺ͫͣͪo̗ͯͯͮt̰̼̰͕͈ͪ͒̐ͣ̆̊he̶̺̟͇rͣͩ̇̋̅̅҉̘̮͎͕ ̈́͆̃u͇͉͋ͯ͑̾̈s̱͉̥̰̦͕̘̈́͊͋͌̀͆e͕̎̇̾͞s̢̳̦̣̖͐̐,̩̠͇̰͙̔ͣ ͋̓̔̃s͇̠̠̭̟̑ͦͯͨ̾ęe̵̒ͬ͛̃̈̑ ̶̲̘͈̹̲̾ͬͭ̋̅̊ͅĈ̶̬̲̱̪̏̊ͪ̒ͭ͂ẖ̳͇͕̝̩̤̾̄̍͂ͤ̽̚͜a͕͖̺̮͍͇ͫi͚̼̥͈̬͚̎ͮr̹̙͂̕ ͖̙͈̼̏͐̎̈́(̶ͅd̶̃ỉ̠͖̥̣̺͊s̥̰̐́a̠̰̥̞͓̹ͬͥm͛ͪ͊̍̚b̹̗̰̫͙̳ͤ̂͋͆ͅi̼̙͔̺̫̼͋g͚̻̫̬̋̒̾u̔̒ͮ̈̑ͯ͛͏̮a̍̽̓͐̏̚t̴̩͖͇i̴̻̔o͗ͮͤͩ̚͏̩n͚̻̰͕̗͓̱)̶̫̭̾ͨͦͣ̎͛̐.̶̠͇̂̍̿ͥͅ
͖̰͎̗̝̰̉ͥ̽ͭͧ̊̀O̸̦̺ͫ̈n̴̠̖̩̠̦͐̋ͫ̾e̲̿͆̍̎ͪ͜ ̉o̻͇̟̱̺̾̚͢f̢ ͆̽̏̑ͤt͔̏ͧ͗̀h̟ͭ͜ë͖̦̳̪́̇̂ͅ ̮̻̟̺͚̮̯̆ͩ͛̅b̫̯̝͙̫̤͌a̘̼̤̙̜̙̟ͭ͊̒ͦ̆ͨs̛̼̰̯̲̣̙̖͋̏̇i͚͡cͧ̋̃͂̑ ̯̮̠̔̐̄̚p͈i̛͖̗̊͋̂e̴̠͔̻̠ͦ̿ͪc̞̺̳̹͓͎ͩ́̎̀ͬ̓e̥̥͔͖̖̬ͤͪs̗̳̭ͭ̉ͨ̀̐̃ ̲̞͗̏ͯͥ͋͗͐ò̦͈̥̙̲̝̠̚f̴̘͎̬͕̠͒ͬ͂ͅ ̪̭̦̖ͫͣfͦ̽̋̑̓͏͇ȗ̵̘͈̘̹̎̌͋ͪ̌͛r͌͏̪̥̗͇͇n͉̖̪̥͓̦̠ͩ̀͐̇ͮi̍̽͆̆͑͒͊t̻̯̃͊ͧͩ̈ͩ͋u̦̠̜̘̟͔͎͒͌̑̈̒ͥͣ͜r̞ͣ̿ͦͣ̓e̺̼̘̙̿͊ͥ̆̑ͪ̚,̷̺̺̪̞ ̮̦̱̬͒̂̈͛ͯa͚̲͔̙͑̄ ̼͓̮̺̞̏͂̏̋̌̿c̯͍̦͖͙͑ͮ͛̂̎͢ͅͅḩa͈̯̝̮̟͉̎̏͂i͔̬͉͔ͬ̐͌ͭ̓r̻̩͚͇͇̝̿͑̀̇̌̏͡ ̱̘̮̩̻̜̍ͯͪ̕ì̚s̞͚͈͐̑ͫ̇ͭͣ̚ ̟́͒ͭ̑̅͋a̠̘͎̭ͪ͂̽ ̵͖t̰̺͉̼̓̽͗ͅy͂́̒҉̬̱͉p͓̝̳̜͈̳̀e҉̹͖̳ ͧ̌ͩ̏̽o͎͙͍ͧ̎͑͆̑͂̐f̠ͥ̊̋ͭ̏͐̈́͡ ͂ͮ̅҉̪̘̠̲̬̘s͐̾ͩ҉̣̪̪̭̺̩̫ę̠͚͔̋̉̋ͅa̤̰͍ͣͮ̑̃ͣͅt̀̇͑͂̽̎̓.̍ ̫̪͍̠̤̙ͨ͗Ḭ̮̗͉̫̑͒̉ͣ͘t̻̙̥̖̿ͭ̆ͨ͑͂̚ŝ̲̬̱̎ ͓̪̼̣̣͙͈̾͠pͭ̐ͬ͌͂ͥ̾r̗ͬ͆̊͞ì̡̼̟͗̍͗̈́ͩ̎m͎̠̉̉͘ḁ̛̻r͉̦͓̙y̟̜̤͎͂ͩ̉̎͟ ͉̦͓̫͒̌͜f̯͉̼̭̼͓̞̑͑eͥͤ̀̅̋͢a̶̫͑̐ͦ͒t͔ͅù͕̘̯̭̩̺̽̄͗́r̭͕ͤ̿ͬ͛e̮̖̮͔͗̋̎ͨ̎̓͘s̺̬͉̿́̇͛̋͟ ̬̯̤̖̗̙̽́ã̃ͥ͂͊̚҉͍̙͖̮͈ͅr͔̼͓̥̍ͣͧͦ͌ẹ̩̩͖̘̗̹͝ ͍̖̥͇̯͎̹̿͌̏t̷̺̜͖̫̪̅͛̂w̩̠̞̭̮̟ͧ̃̎̚ŏ̩͖̭ͥ ͕͍̟̲̥̻͆͝p̰̩̩̖̹̲̟i̗̲͇͇̫͒͛̀e̅̒̋ͮͩ́̚c̞̟̟ͣ̃́̆ͅͅē̦̹̯̠ͯͣ̌͐̆͋s̙̠̲͙̜̰ͬ͂̊̍͒̽́̚ ͔͖̭̳̦ǒ̘͈͍͎̼͇͈̽̄ͬͧͬf̣͊͆̏̓̑̏ͨ ̴̬̍ͦͣ̄a̠̾ ̫ͮ̇d̠̝ͫ̒ͧ͋͛ͦͫủ̲̺̰̺̩ͪṙ̟̣͍̜̖̞̳ͥͭ͋̀̌͊a̺̟͒́b̆ͯ̈́̊̒҉̦̠ͅl̈͑ͭ͑̚e̗̫͘ ̡͕͖́m͓̬̟̯̓̔̄ͮ̓̽̎â̢͔̹̣͂ṯ̵̲̩͍͍̇̔̓ͯ͗e̪̩͙̣ͬͨ͝ͅr͓̉͆ͫ̾̊͡ia͕̟ͤͦ̃͒ͅl̸͖̬͈ͪ̊̎,̛̉ ̥̜̯̏̂̔͋aͭͤ̚͏͔̫̳̼ͅt͐͜t̟̄͌͑ͤa͖̞̩͖͊̓̃̈́͡c͇̻̦͇̩h̘͉͔̪͖̃ͣͯ̽ȅͪd̩͇̍̌ͅ ̞̝͛̔ͬͦ͆͘a̋ͫ̃̐͊͘s̊̑̋ͧ̌͘ ̧bͦͮ́a̰͇͍͙ͧͭ͋͗c̨̦͉̱̯̖͈͂͐ͯͧk̔̒ͩ͑̆ͩ̌ ̜̙͚̑ͬa̳n̾͊̈̾͆҉̼̻ḍ̰͌ ͛̏̆s̤̠̑̌͡e̖̪̬̒̉̏ͤạ̞ͨ̆͑͞ṯ͖̥̓̇̇͟ ̻̘̉ͩ̓̒͠t̞̜̯o̐҉̰̘ ̦̘͈̺̲̿̔͗͗̀o̥̹̽̂̀̓ͤ͛ͯnͩ͋͑̄̓̆҉̭̙̱̰̳̫͓e͓̥͇̹̬̹̔͊̃͛͑̊ ͓̖ͤͬ̃ͨ̆̓͗a̟̙̣̻̖͗̽n̷̠͕̒̇ͬ̓̃ͦo̮̜͔̺̳tͩ͘h̹̤͉̘͑̐ͯ̋̎ͨ̽̕ȇ̼̱̳̱͚̪ͨ̋̆r̭̺̜̹̺̂̽ͭ͊͒̉́ ̢̂̋̂̀̒̔à̼́͊̄̐ͥt̫̜́̽ͥ̒̑̔͑́ ̣̈ͭa̠̫̓̚ ̳͍̺͑́̏̾̾̇9̜ͭ0̥͓̰͈͑͜°̴̘̣̳̂ ̦͙̳̈́o̘͓͚̦̙͟r͕̉̄ͥ́ ̬̌̒͂̈͆͋̚sl̳̥͇̖̥̙̎i̩̟̝̙̐̀̾͋̀g̤̘͖̱̬̩̹̀ͧͣͪ̇̿̈́h͓ͩͮ̀̏̾t̢̅l̨͇̻̎̔ͫͪͥy͊ͤ ̷̟̳̝̙͈͎̬ͧͯ̀̀g̸̯̗͍͍͉̝͋ͣ͌͋͑̚r̜̜̋ͮȅ̜̥͇̩̩̞ă̷͍̙̇͂͗̆̓ͅt̺̋̔͟e̙̹r̥͎͚̮͇̱̿̔͊ͅ ̨̥͕̘ͥ̾̇ͭa͙͔̗͚̯̪ͫnͤ̒̔g̙̫͓͚̹̞̩̓ͬ̿l͙̻͚̠͙̇ͭ̇͋͒ͫë́́̿̀͋ͫ,͐ͮͥ̋̊̈҉̪̳ ̔̚ẁ̝̫͈̩̳̬̐͛ȋ̮̹͍̥͎ͫͭ͝t͚͚͈̙̟͍̃̇h͓̤͔̮̣̘̊ͧ̓̈̌̚ͅ ̧̱͚̥̟u͝sͦ̾҉ͅͅu̳͍̜̙̩̞̯̕a̰̝̯͓ͪͯ̎̍l̑̔̌̃l̒̍͂y͖̦̯͋͛̅ ͕̭̤͈̄͠t́ͪ̍h̛̭ͨ̏͐͂e̳͚̤ͬ͊͌̿̾ ̗͔̫͖̝̰ͅf͆o͍̺͉̦̻̎̓̔̈̀̚ũ͎̫̤ͪ̒̂̚ř̂̅̈͑̃̚ ̵̱̮͈͖ͪͨ̽̏c̢̱͓̗̲̺̜̼ͯ̔͂ͬ́o͎̖̦̪r̡̄ͭ̃͐̃ͨn̻̠̫̬̼̰̦ͯe͍̯̫̤̜̮̻͊͑ṙ̠͎̤͖̜͑ͯ͛̂ͫͣ͢s̘̙̰̲̤ͭ̄ͦ̓̽ͤ͞ ̳̻͍̤̔͑̈́ͧ̍o͕͙̞̯ͯ̽̓̽̉̌̕f̜̤͓̹̼̔ͯ̏ͤ̋ ̅ͤ̆̿͛t͆̄̾́̒̾̊ẖ̮̞̭̭̦̩̆ͦ̐̈́e̫̼̟̱͒͛́̄ͨ ̛͈̝͙̱͖̠͐ͭͤh͙͉̲̻̳̹͓͜ȍ̯ͫr̯͈ͥi̢̮̼͓͚̥̠͈̎z̮̦̪̼̩͂ͫ̔ͣ̉͘ͅọ̠͇̫͙̞̱̅͆̂n͇̱̭͓̟̑ͦ̕t̡̪̤ͅa̭͍̓͌̚͘l̢̼̎ͨ̔̐͒̚ ̯͉̮͖̲̭̹ͩ͡ś̠̻ȩ͖͎ḁ̸̟̩̂̑͑̽͗́t͙̥̘̜ͥ ̰̭̊͒̅͝a͇͛ͥ̀͛̚t̩͉̭ͯͦͮ̿ṯ̥̟̦͟a̮͙̼̦̗̺̖cͬhͮ̌͂̿̐̆҉̖̯̼̜̟̻è̦̫͍̘̗͓d͒̒͌͂͑̂͡ͅ ̦̳̓͐̔ͯi̱̲͎͉̞̝̍̿̀ͬͧ̉̈́ṉ̥̲̪̙̣̲͂̄ͤ̽ ̺͚̂̓̉ͩ̚͢t͉̎͋̊ͩͅṷ͇̺͔̱͚͆̊r̼̦̥̓̓ͩͫͮ̓̾n̋̎̏͋ͩ͗͊ ͇̬̯̂t͔͆̏̐̏̇̄̇̀ȏ̜ͦͤ͘ ̝͛͗f́o͚͖̻̦̤̩ͪ́̽̎ͩ̈́ͤu̎̄̂r̫̤̥̦͖͍ͫ̋̄͛̕ ̘̪̃͌lͬ͋̂̔̆̒́e̸̺̺̽̏g̸̺ͧ͆̔͛ͦ͑͋ş͍͇̼̻ͪ͋̇ͤ—̗̳̲̖̦̔̾ͩͤo͚̠͙̖̝̤̲͝ṟ̗̝͗̒̔̿̈̿͑ ̫͔̲̯̬̬̼ͣ̔ͯͦ̆o̸̜ͦ̄ṭ̺͛͋̌̂h̖͉̜̪̩̮̯̊̽̊̄ͤ͊ė̳̰̝̭̘̣̃͘ṟ̠̩̲̣͊͊͋ͤ̍ͬ̏͘ͅͅ ̧̦̠̣̝͙̏̋ͧ̊ͅp̦͍̥̙̼̠̉̿ͪ̀̚ͅa̘͖͓̫͒̌͋̄̿r̗̩̙̪ṱ͇̐s̤̹͚̦͈̱̞͐ͨ͞ ̡̺̩͖̗͈ͬ̔͐̆ͦ̚o͓̦͑͐͗͋̍͛̌f̡̠̳͕̝͚͕ͮͥ̋ͥ ̳͖̲͓th̵ͣ̌̂͗̽͂͊e̿̄̾ͫ̄҉̼̲͖̠̱ ̉ͮ̇̄ͨ̏͌s͓̬̗̣̟͎͈ͬ͂̅̌͛e̴̠̘̥̜̿̈͗ͩa̰̗̭̪͍͓̍̆ͯ̆̊̔̓t̲̥͎̼'̬̮̻s̸͈̜̰̳̰̺͙͋̌̑̽̔̂͆ ̓̆ͯ͏͔u̡̜̟̫̱̤̩n̶̳̖̞̽̌͐d̝̠͖̼̲͓̉̑ͣ̓̚͘e͔̭̣̟͙̳ͮͥͤ͋͝r̢̰̯̩̹̔s̱͇i̛̫͙͍̿̿̊̈ͧ͐d̈ͣ̃̈́̕e͔̭͇͖̜̝ͥ͒ ̷͔̺̥ͤ̍ͤ̅̽ͭͅa̻ͨͧ͂ͯ͞t͇͍̗͎t͆ͨ̄̽̚҉͙̤̬̺̫̭ä̢͕̰c̨̭̫̠̀̂ͨ̃̋̉h̻̎ͦ͆͐ͦͬe̮̮͓ͩ̌ͦ̾̇̀d͖̕ ̵̑̑ͦtò̧͖̱̝͇͖͎͑̏ͩ̂ ͉͖̠̼̄ͬ̂͗ͣ̾t̂͌ͣ̒͒̾͞ḩͬ̽ͤ̿͌̽̓r̰͖̫̳̠e̵͇̬͎̼̾ͦ͑ͦ͑̊̄ę͙̤̝̩̖̙ͩ̅͛̅ͨ ̳̭͇̈́͋̽̍͗̆̚l̙͈̜ͧ͐͂ͅe͍͌̒ͪ̃̇͂̑g̺̭͈̺ͣͭ̓ͣͨ͊͐͞ͅs̬ͦ͝ ̥̝͑̓̆ͪ͒ͧ̚ơ̞̯͍̖͖̭̿ͬͪͅr̶̝̺̻̰̱͇̺̾̚ ̧̣̙͇̩͕̣ͣ͆ͮt̝̼͉ͣ͌o ̝͇͔̩̞̭͇å̧͈ͣ̉̇̓ͣͮ ͙͔͍̍̐ͥ̍̆s̢̻͓̜̱̍̿̉̿h̤̣̝͈͍͐͐̐̉̔͐͐͟à͒͐̿f͉̯̰̞̝͍t̰̳̜͓̍ ̰̖͙̺͗̌ͩa̙̠̿͋͊̌͝bo̮͒̊̒͐͆u̜̯̦̞̰̦̦ͣͩͯ́͋t̼̤͙̦̺̑̇̃ͥ ̨̥ͥͫ̓ͤͥͮ̈w̞͍̠̞͎͚h̠̱̳̗̪̗̪̊̂̋ͯ̈́̕i̩̺̪̠̥̯ͧ̔̃̀c̙̟̱͇͔͌̅͛͂͌h̳̱̻̋̊̅̄̈́ ̳̲̥̻̀ͩ̏̐̒̐̓͠a͈͒ͩ̂̕ ̡͇̫̺̲̞̥̓̎f̲̤̗͉̯̱̞̕o̦̻̘̘ǔ̦̩̦̦͚͚̂̓̐̉̿ȓ̬̻͔-̰͕̦͚̞̈a͖͙͔̰͋̒̈́ͦ̃ͫ̄r̻̮͖̥̊͒̍͋ͫͤ̚m̬̭̮̣ͧ̋́͐ͣ̒ ̴̙͓̟̩͚̙͂̓̒̀ͬͦ̍t̸̠͔̟͚ͩ͛͐͗͑̚uͧͩͣ̓̾̐r̈́̊ͧ̆͑n̰̩͋̽̄ͭs͈̦̠͖̑̊ẗ̺̟̪͉́ͭͅi̝̗ͤ͆̐̀̚̚l̦̙̪̽́ͭ͂̂̃͒e͕͉ͨͮ̂́̔ͅ ̱͉̫̺͋̋̐o̺͉͉͕̮̜ͩͥ̏̎nͤ̀ͫ̆ͦ̃͡ ̫̙͚͊ͩ͐͊ͩ̅r͖̝̫̪̰̓ͪ̄̑ͬ͘o̱͉̲͇̰͙̎̓̊̄ͮ̃̓͢ḷ̶͈̮̝͑l̵̂̈́͊̔ͩͩ̆ěͥͫͭr̸̪͇̦͖ͅs͓̭̥̳̮͌̈́̈́̈́ ͇̲͇̌̓͜c͙̗̺̘ͦ̓͟a͎͋̏͊̂ͭṉ̗̦͕̥̾̒̓ͮ͒ ̤̈́ͦ̽ͤͨ̓̉͡t̥̯̰̰̭uͫ̀r̮̘̝̞͆ͤn̶͇ͪ̎̄̔ͤͅ—͍̠͔͗s͔̱̼̺͚̬ͯ͛ͤ̅ͬtͪ͛͒̿̄ͬ̐͠r̶̗̋̂ͮ̾͗͐̔o̮̻̦̙̫̗͆̂ṇ̯̽ͫ̊̉ͮ̎̀g̭͖̜̗͊̈ͩ̏͗͂ͮ ͮ͌e̢͉͔ͧ̈̋͐n̘͔̥͖͔̭͢ͅo̼ͦͅu̢̻̐̐ͪ̒g̛͈̪͉̯̥̖ͪ̊̑̒̑h͙͈̖̹̣̉̎ ̈́̾͛̔͛҉̩̪͙͇ͅtͭ̇ͥ͆́͏͎͍̤̫̥̳̟o̪̱͓͕͊̌ͬ̑̏̏ ҉̹s͔̣̭̘̬͑u̲͇̣͓͑͌̃́p̦ͪ̾p̧͇̙̜̼̯o̪̰̣̽̂͒̐r̫͈̳̝̭ͮͯ͊̔̂ͪt͋͊̈́̆ͦ̑͛͠ ̭͎͎͉̻̜͊̄̍̔̑t̍͌ͦ͊͛̚̚h̼͓͂ͬ́̆ͯ͑e̠̩ ̗̬͍͙̗̱͢w͆ͯ̔͛̊ͭ͏ĕ̶̒̈́̔ȉ̴̥̦̬͓̼̟͒̎̌̚gh̭͗t̺̠̲̣̟̱̾ͬ͊̀ ͇ͥ̌o̺̹͉̠͇̥̅̈́͐f̶ͭ̔͆ͨ̑̏ ̛͉̼̮̱̇̍̍̊̉̋̾a̻̮͋ͧ͌̄͞ ͇̻̺̹̩ͦ̃ͨͅp͞ê͈͓̼͙̇͆̍r̞ͣͨͦ͐ͧ̎͊s̪̜̠̱̬̜͗̒̿ͨͫ̋̍ọ̼̲̰ͩ̈́̑n̨͉̞̞̝̼ ̗̯̭w͏̳͎̘h̞̼͕̫͍̏͆ͥͯo̟͕͈̙ͅ ̷̭͌͌s̛̹ͣ̿͂̅̽̆̓i͔̲ͤ͋́́ţ̰̼̫̤̖͆̏͗͒̚s̵̗̼ ̧̹͛̿̇ͯ̓͑o̡̲̗̹̣̻͇͈̾ͬ̀̈̇̊̒n̄̊̌ͯ͢ ̥̪̝̟͐̾̔ͦ͞ẗ̒ͣ̉̓̀h͍̗͇̱̼͖̦e̝͉͍ͨ̄ͫ ͑͠s͛ͭ́̽ͪ̍̀e̲͍̙̠̬̤̞̽a̷͎̬̒ͥ̈́̀͑ͅt̤̺̫̘̯̝͖͌̎̽̏ͭ̅ ͇̃͛ͨ(̖̑̑̃̄͗̿͜u̲̹̪͓͔̖̭ͩ̊s̸̥̰̙̩̐̈́͂u̵̟͈̖͋́͂̏̆̉a̲̓͐͝ľ̙̗̯̱̱͗̂͋̚͘l̩̺̯͚̩̘̉̔̋͐̽̅ͅy̲ͬͅ ͭ̀͊w̼͎̍ͦ̚i͌҉̣̯͚̰͚d̵̯̩̫͑̎̎̏ę̗̯̆͐ ̼̗̥̙ͫͧ̇̄å̸̒n̤͔͙ͧd̟̙̟̖̫̋̇ͨͫ ̼̩̈͐͐͌ͫ̽b̼̺̑̎̈́̓r̡̮̗͈͔ͤͮ̉̅̅ô̬̝̭̳̰̐̆ͪ̉ͅaͯ̓͏̣̪̮̞̻d̗̫̲͒̚ ͖̯͖͉ͭ̋ͨ̚e͐̈̑͐̔̋̀n̦̯̍̿́͊̇̇́͝o̝̟̯͖̾͂ͧ̓ṵ̬̙ͬ̅̓ͥ͋g͈̱̎̔̆̋̕h̷̫̫̼̐̉ ̩͈̖̙̜̀̓̄ͅt̡͙̗̜͍͎̠͆ͨ̆o͓̜ͧ ̳̟͖͍̠͚̞͂hͪ҉o̜̐̔l͒ͨ̔ͦ̿̚̚ď͐͛̎ͫ̔ͅ ̘̖̪̻͊̓ͭ̍͂̿t͇̖̲̣̪͎̅͛̐hͧ̈́͒̄̉̒͏͔è͔̼ͬ̈́̎ͩ͗ ̟͉̪͚̤͓ͧ͌͌͛̆ͬ̚l̩̄o̝̠̠̼̎͐̂͌ͤ̊̽͠w̸̱̝̻̼͎̣ͅe͍̦͉̫̰̘̩̋͐̎̆r̩̯͔͈̮͇̐͢ͅ ̫͈͐ͦb̧͙̥͍͕o̭ͮd́́ͭy͔ ̴͚ͯ̆ͨ͑f̿ͤ̄҉̲̜̘͓͓r̶̜͕̖̳͕̩o̧̲m͍͖̠̀͢ ̊͒̒҉̱̗̹̯̦̠̯t̪̱̳͔͙́̏̉̀͝h͒͂ͣ̋ͩ҉̰̳e̝̪̰̘ͬ͛ͪ͂ ̖̲͇̠̭̭̪̅ͥͦ̉ͣ͞b͎̦̖̗̓͑̐͋̊ͪͅủ͉̠̪͇̥̮̮t̪̊́t͛͢o͎̯̥̳̯̱ͩͪ̋̇c̸̻̣̠̝ͧ̓̈́ͧ̓͌k̸̗̻͂͛̄ͩ͋ͬsͪͬ̑ͬͯ ͎͎̩̝͖͍͊̎̔ͫͧ͊a͇̭̺̜ͣḷ̞̫̱ͣͥ͌m͔̦̦̝̬̪͔̌̎ͧͧ͑o̝ͪ́̉̃ͭ̑ͧs̝̪̦̊̽̂ͨ̓t̙̪̻̺̘̍̊̅͌́͌̚ ͕̲̯ͮ͛ͧ͒̐ț̮̮̟͇͉̰o̭̫̯͓̖͖̦̿̈ͩͧ͒̽̒ ̬͔ͭ̐̏͊̂ͤt͇ḫ̫̗͔ͮ͑̒̈́̃͢ͅe̷̫̗͎̥̼̐̓͋ͭͯ ̰̲͓̱̺̲̺͌ͫ̌ͯk̡̤͚͂̍n̼ͮͧ͆̅ͬ͆̌́e͓̥̰̤ͅê̬̪̗̖͢s̆̇͂ͯ͋̆ͦ͢)͕̺̠̮͉̳͒ ̵͚̜̻͎͎̖̝͑ͪ͒ẳ̱̱̭̦̙̤̤ͯ̃n̰̮͙̠̣ͤ̍̈ͯͬ̎d̥̤͚̃̄͊̅ ͚͈̜̩̤̊̏ͧ̔̉͢l̹ͮ̅͆͒ͬe̷̹͍̤̯̜̼ͬ̓̓ͩa̷̤̖̪̗̭n̝͕̥͎͐ͪͬ͒s̲̝̞̼̀̇̽ͥ͛̇ͫ̀ ̢̤͚ͮ̊ͯ̾̒à̭̾ͤͥ̌͡g̺̹̻̎̈́a̡͔̤ͫͫ̋̒̒i̝͓͈̙̰̓̋̎̃̄n̲͇̭̲̲ͮͯ͗ͦͨͩs̠̺ͫͫ͌̽͠t͉̫̼͑̓̔ ̶̞̗̂ͭ̚ț͓͔̪h̺̻͚̟͖̾͌̾ͪ̒ͤē̡͍̺̑ͥ̈́ ̫̹̟̮̹ͣ͑̔̕v͈̙͉̘̩̈́e͑̄̆҉̙̜̟r̙͎̯ͥ̽̎ͭ͐͆t̸̘̘̥̼͔͕͍ͬ̐i̖̝̋ͪ̂͐͋ͮͅc͍̻̘̱͙̗͘a̧̍ĺ̬͇ ̵̝̾̂̈ͭḇ͒ͧ̑̇͌̔̂a̡͍̭ͯ́ͬ̐̅̿c̨̮͖̙̣͙ͦͥͅk̭̪̩̹̙͎͛́ͧ͢ ̝͕̣̰̣ͣͨ͢(̺̮̮͍ͤ́̒̐̕u̘͛̾ͭ̀ş̠̼̤͇̞̇ͬủ̙͇̫̖̈̐͑ͧ̀̈́ͅå̴̹̻̉̒̃ͤl̕l̨̠̭͔̪̯̎̍̽ͧ̎̚y̨̮͈̗̻̙ ̪̱̭̾h͌͋̿͐҉̩ĭ̄̂g̢͖̠͙͕̎͗̌̆̓ͩ́h̭͙̹̪̙͙ͤͮ̎͛̐̌ ̰͎a̬̟̭̱̥̬̠͆̋͠ṇ͍̦͖̙͔̯̆̓͜d̛̍͌ͩ̒̒ ̧ͧͯ̈̂͛ͩẘ̝͍̱̼̮i̙̯̟̩ͪͮ̈ͦ͂̆͜ͅd̛͇̫̻̻̣͍̮̂e̛͙̘̿̒ ̧͎̫̙̭͕͉ͤ̿e̸͖̘̗͇̠̟ͦ͋͋ͤ́̚ṉ̩͉̣͇͕̀̈́͐͌̊̚͠ō̧̠̻̦̩̗ͪ̀̍̒̀u͙̺ͪg̃̅ͫ͋ͨ͊ẖ͇͉ͫ͂ͯͣͭͤ͢ ̒̈́̀̀ͤ͋̅҉̭̻ͅt̲͓̗̝̹́o̴̪̜͎̗̩̱ͭ̾̊ ̳̿͑̀s̥̹̝̯̉̏̂ͭ͜ȕ̜̟̥͆̋p̉͘p̟͉̰̦̙ͧͤͧͯ̎̍o̵̐ͯ̽ͯ͋͒̍r̖̰͖͔̩ͫ̾ͨṱ̪̯̲͇̩͌̍̃ ͚̜̫̥̪̼ͅt̯̳͚̪͎͎̎̑̽h͙͇̜̫ͧ̀̍̈́͟ẻ̜̆͗̚͝ ͙̫̰̜͍̏̑̇̓ͮ͑ͭͅb͙̖ḁ̬͓̤̉ͩ̎̆̇c̻ͧ̓̉̔ͣͭͤk͙̯͓̚ͅ ͩ͐͗͊ͭ҉̣͙̗̳̻t̙͇̪͚̱̑o̯̘͈͕̻̘͗͠ ̵̗̫̖̝t͈͚̏ͫ͌h̫̗̜̠̩̤͛͊͑̅́e̖ ͩ̋ͫ̒͌͒ͪ͏sͫ̐̅͋ḣ͇͈̞̈́͒ͮ̏ͣ͞o̰̳̯̺̳̤͂ͤ̽̋̚ȗ̪̖̤͖̤̠̱ͩͯͫ́̎̂ḷ͂dͬͮ͐͡ĕ̛̦̰͙͇̗̬̯͛r͆͟ ̫͉̝̲̺̱̠ͯͪ̊̏͌ͣb̦͎͚̖̺͗͛̂͞l̦̳͎ͭ̅̚͟ḁ͖͋d͚̗̪ͥͮ͆͆͠é̱̙̭̬́̍̾̕s̸̰͚̟̝͈ͩ̒̊)̦̍̓ͪͦ̃̅ͫ.̤̱͕̍̔̏ͣ̄͐̋͡ͅ ̣̮͎̩̿͊Ṱ͙̘ͦ̑ͬ̓̽ͅh̲͇̟̭̰̜̽ͤ̿̉̚e̥̘̊̈̔ ͕̘̖̫̙ͅl̶̩̖͔̖̬̇e̱͈̹͓͙͍ͮ͗ͅgͧͫ͞s̯̬̋ͨͣ̄ͤͪ̚ ͙͊̋͛̈ͪ̚͡ă̧̰rͬ̓̋e̸͖̬̝̘ͣ̓ͯ͌ ̭͍̙͖̞̿̅ͭt̛͈ͨ͌̅ÿ̸̞͈͖̹́p̮̤̗̳̰͚̖ͦ̌̎į̲̭̩͙͇͍͋ͧ́̍͌̃c̞ͯa͉̟̫͈̩̗ͭ̓̉͆̔̚l̖̦̮ͨ͒̐̈͒̀l̟̤̝̝̱̝̾͢y͙̋̆ͩͧ͊ͪ ͓ͩ̎͑ͫ͢h̲̝͊̑i̛͚͍͈̖̳̤͗̅̿͊͐̓g̖͈͛ͅh̰̦͍͌ ͈̜͔̙̤͕͗e̼͔̘̩̮n̢͕̹̩̖̭̭͓ͯͥ͑͌̅̋o̬̠̲͚͔̰͗͆u̒̃̓ǧ̰̱͆h̤̣̺̰͕̦̖͒̽ ͓̲͈͓ͤ̏ͥ̂͒f̧̙̹̼̼̗̮̔̀ͭ̔̀͋̚ͅo̥̲͌r̯͕͉̜̈̊ ͔̼͕̭̾ͥ͑̂ͬ̾͟tͦ̾ͩ̅ͯ̈́̀hͬ̀ͧ̈́͆ͯͩe̺͙̥̖̜͐̂̓ͫ͌ ͖̰͐̿ͧ̃̔͊s̞̎ͪͣe͟a̻ͨ̔̀ͩͧt̘̅͒̆ě̑̍͗҉͇͉͇̟͎ͅd̰̥͖͔͚͕͙ͮ ̻͎ͧp͏̖̭̙̠͉̩e̛̥̘̽͌̊̒̇ͪr̶͕͈̩̟͚̙͔͂ͧ̒ͦͫ̎̓ŝ̨̜̩̠̠̬ͩ͗̿͂̚̚ọ̥̰͔͇̩̻ͨ̌n̩̜̝͒̕'͚͎̗̓ͫ͂̔͢ṣ͕͍͘ ͇̯̖͖̯͐ͫ͐ͩ̋ͅt̷̤̣̜̫̘͔̝h͌̎i̳̭̝͎̋̿ͮ̄̿ͫ̓g̛͉̫̞̜͓͔̏͒̐̉̾h̦͓͆̒͡s͚̜̠̱̮͊ ͚͊̽̒͘ạ̱̺̇̓͒ͮͮń̗̹͖̗̬̞̇̆ͯd̸̮̰͍͉ͨ ͎ͥͪͭ́kͧͦ̋̒̀ņ̤͔̭̦̲̺̐ͭ́̔̂͑̃e̤͉̝ͫ̉e̛̟̯̙̺͓̋̏͗̆̽s̙̭̤̺̈́̐ͩ ̞̠͊͋͒͂̓̄́ͅţ͈̪͎̖̲̋̄̉͂̽ͅo͑̒̐͒̌̌̅ ̝̹͙̟͉̝̈ͦ̓͛͘f̭̏͂̏̀ǒ̸̳̹̰͂r͖̞̖̬͙̿̏̂̓̏͂m͂̎͊͛̌̀ ͒̉̎a͌͗̒̍ ͟9̵̣͕̪̰ͣͪ͆̂0̨̀͛ͦͬ°͓͔͎͚̋͆ ͚̯͍͕̳͇̖ͯ̀o͙̫̬̪̝̻ͭ͗̊͛͡r͈͕̪̠̺̹͚͡ ͤ͏̦̱͎͚l̴̙͍̹̦͖̞ͨ̔ͫͯe͒͏̦͕͈s̬͎̦̹̩͙͊͐s̰̼͙͇̞͈͈̒̓͋e̮̬̰͍̝ͩ͒̆͌ͥ̀r͈̲̭̩͖̟͓͂̅ͣ̎̔͝ ͔͕͕a̭̝̮̹͑̋̅̎ͣ̒̄n̶̮͓͇͇̜̼̈́͆͌͋̂ͫg͓͙͔̦̙̀̽̇l̳̳̙͎͠e̱̝̖͍̦̪̭ͤ͡.̯͚̤̻̦̩̫̃͋ͣ͂ͦ͆̚[̱͓̤̯͎͎̝̈́̓ͬ1ͩ̄̿]̀͗[̵̝̫̼̘̝̓̎2̅̈̔̇͌]̬̫͒̋̋͠ ̵͓͍U̴̝̮͔͎̣͇̪̓͂ͣs͇̲̭̰ͭͩͪ̂͞e̖̰̬̭̾̿͐̈́̎͞d̺̬̰̤̤̬̪̊̈ͮ ̲̭̝ͣ̃i̛̝͚̟̱̦͗n̯͉̮̫ͯ́̏ͫ͑͋ͨ ͖͍͋̏̽͆͆̅ͭa̸͎̫̤̬͍͎ͥͩ ͈̱̥͉̖ͮ͠n̘̬͉͊̾̔̚u̩ͮm̵͇͕̤͔̼̖ͤ́ͭ̋̂ͥͅb̵̆ͭ̅é̩̝̖͕̥͇̳ͤͯ̌͌̓ͨ̀r͇̫̥̐̾͐ ̱̰͖̲̺̓͑ͦ͂̿̇ó̳́͂ͤͤ͐̆f̦͇̊ͨ̇ ̤̦͐͆̋ͪ͂̊͑ṛͨ̂́̑̑̆͋̕o̖̪ͫ͊͝o̸ͣm̡̘̗̻͍͕ͫ̾͂̎̑̂s̛̳̗̺͚̅̑ͥ̄ ̮̥͉͍̤̜̻ͮ͋͋ͥ̔ͯi̟͉̜̟ͣ̑͊̍ͅn̝͒ͦ̂ ͕̮̟̦͖ͪ̌̈ͭͦ̂ḣ͍̰̘͉̞̩͎ͣ̀ͣo͋̈͘m͓̪̩̲ͫ̑̆ẻ̘̩̠̜ͯͦͭ̈̊́sͬ̈̽̎̋ͪ̉̀ ̺̦̠͔̖͍̌ͩ(̵̱̮̻̰͔̦ͥͪͣ̈́ͩḙ̭̹̆̉̇̎.̳͎͓̞͍̝͛ͭ̎͛̐́̚g̙̺̰̱̜͍̒.̣̙̘̪̖̺̩ͯ̃͂͡ ̬̘̈iͭ̒̆̽͋̚͟n͖̪ͪ̑̈́͛́ ̸͇͇̻͖̮̬̽̂ͯl̘̼̺̤̜̞͇̄̐ͮͦ̄̉̀i̴̼̰͚̤͍͎v͔͔̱̟͚̙ͬ̊̄̓ͮȉ͖̙̓́̌ͯ͊͌n̮͓̯̈́̍g͚͈ͭ̃͌ͯ̉͗͠ ͚̲̲̯͇̒̈́̈ͮ̈́ͨ̎r̙̅͛̒ͨo̥̬̿ͤ̊̿ͤͯ͛o̪͖͍͉̼ͨ̋͂̂m̥͍͔̝̭̈͋͛̔ͪ͋ͅs̳̳͙̥̣̋ͥ͐ͣ̍́,̮̠̖ͫͪͪ̿ ͭͣͦ͆̿̈́ͮd̠i̢̥ͣ̐̾ͬn͔̠͓͌̐̈͗ͤ̌̊ï̃̒ͬ͐ͤ̎҉͚̮̗͕͖͉ͅṉ̝̮͒̍ͦ̾͂̎ͣg҉͇̳̲̥̬ ̞̼̬̠ͧ̓̐̔̕r̭̗̲̆̃̐͗o̠̩̪̫ͧ̑̍ō̜̝͚̬͆͠m̬̾̈ͫ͆ͩ́̚s̼̭̀̎̀,̥̣͖̼͔̣͍̔ͭ̾̅̋̚ ͖͍͚̥̼̯̅̐̐̊͜aͥ̇ͨ̄̾̀n̈́̓҉͙̠d̳̖̠͕̬̿̿͞ ̗̭͆̐ͤ̓d͙ͤͬ̈ê̡̜̂ͩ̊͛͆͛nͤ̏ṣ̹͖͕̗̋͋͌̓͒ͅ)̣͇̬͈̞ͥ͝,̴̫̻̯̻̬̠ ̤͍̩̩̮͉ͫ̅͗̑͠ï̇͋ͤ̎̍̿n̢͍̱͓̭͍̩͊ͩ̓̂̆͗ ̹̞̟̼̖͆ͦ̔̿̚ṣ̶͕̙͓c̰͕̜̝̜ͯ̽ͬ̍͐̈ͬh̩̹o͓͍̳̼͈̳̱͞o͖̥͍͇̘̘̞l̩̦̤͇̤̝̞ͯͧ̀͒͡ș̜̞̼̗̐̒̎̿͗̓̔ͅ ̛̱̙͇̠̇̽ͮå̻͙͓͇̼̔̿͗̊n͇̯̰̮̱ͮ̒ͭͫ̓̈́d̶̝̤̼͍͂̓̑̀̋̆ ͫ͑ͣͮ̅̇o̝͖̹ͤ̉̈̏̇f͇̑̾̄́ͧ̋ͪf̹̮̙̃ͅi̛̹̹͂̽ͫc̸̮̦̒e͇͎̥̱͐ͣͣ̎͒̀s̒̽̐̓ ͔͙̫̮̞̞̑(̧̃ͦͦ̈̎ẃ̤̗̠̤̮ͅi̫͙͍t͕̞͇̦͉͋̈͛ͬͦ́͋͞ͅh̽̄̊̉̀̍ ̡̠̹̻̳͙̖́d̟̘̲̞͍͍̤ͣͧ̍͐̀̚e̝̱̩̤ͦͫ͐͌͌̍̚s̨̮̗̰̲ͧk̛̼̘̞̭̐̽͂s̛͎)̆̏͌̈́͌ͭ̋͏̱̱̱͎,̿̆̽ͩ̐ͩ ̷̟̲̪͚̠̲͉ͬ̿͛͗̾̑a͖̥̙͊ͥn̄ͦ̍͟d̡̰͕ ͎͊i̛̠̹͋͆́̄̿ͅn̸̟͗̿͌ͣ͗ͩ̐ ̘̪ͧͨ́͆͌ͤͦv̦̙̭̻̻̙ͤ̈́̂ͧͨ͠a̢̲͕̦̙̹̻ͪr̙ͭ̏̃̏́ị̺̣̹̯̝̲ͩ̾ͪ̓̒oͧ̉ͤ͂̑͊͏̝̮͔̮u̢ͪs̱͊͌ ̷̼ͣ̆̆ͤ̀͑ǒ͙̳͈͕͖̲̯͢t̴̯̎ͣͦ͊̎͒ͮh̥̥̻͙͔͌̽ͤͨͅe̼̬̼̺̼͡ͅr̶̥̦͎̩̥͙̐͐ͦ̑̓ ̧̱͇̻̑ͤw̤͔̹͞ơ̹͖̳͕̳̲͛ͯ͊r̵̰̜̣͚̜̭ͧ̇̽̇͗k̦̹̯̝̻̺̣̉ͫͥ̃̏͒p̶̲͍̆̽̊l̛̒̒͂a͇̠͈͍͕̝̔̽c̮͎e̮̥̦͉̾s̰̯͖̋̚,͙̜͖̄̃ͣͧ͐ͮͩ ̀c͉̞̦̘̞̅ͮ́ͭ͂ͣȟ̰̘̲̃̀a͎͓͆ͨ̆̿̊̃i̙̭͖̲̼̙̬ͩ̂ͬ͒ͪͩ̎r͛̃ͬ͋͛҉͙͔̟̳ͅs͓͕̰͔̯͇͒ͥ͊͒͋̅͌͡ ̮͉͕̼̫̹͍ͯͩ̂̾ͤm͔ä̧͇͚͚̱̞̫́͒̀ͣ̓ͫ͐y̩̳̱̫͙͓̞ͬ͑̄ ̛̹̻̜̒͊b̭̪̑͌̈ͅé̢̝̯̱̩̘̹̒͛ͫ͗ ̱̮͕̟̝̭̼ͨͫ̇̇́m̪̟̜̹̺̙a̯̞̫̖̦̩̝͐̃̽d̢͈̗͎̬͖̜̄̈́̊̒̂ͭ͗ęͥ͒ͮͤͤ̓̌ ̘̟̯̺̬̳̅ȍ̮͎̦ͦ̔ͭ͑ͅf͚̘̬̙̠́̌ͤͨ̚͡ ͖̾ͫ͌͠ẃ͈̀̀̈́̚oͬ̕o̭̹̬d̴̩̞̺͇̬̘̑̅̚,̮̟͉͉̺̥ͯ̓͒̿ͮͯ ͭ̄̔̿m͉̩͇̺̥̗e͎̻̹̫̣͝ț̙͍ͬͤ̒ͬa͔̬̻̯͙͛̉͒ͤ̍ͫ͒͢l͈͡ͅ,͎̥̪̮̪̪̕ ̮̠͍͇o̳̰̥̩̠̙͎ͤ̆̓r̭̺̊̔̒ ̶̹̙̳̎ͩ̂̊s͖̥̳̦̮̤̀y͕̰̼͕͓̟͉n̟̰̿ͩͧ̿ͭ̎t̖̪̘̓h͔͚͉̦͓ͧ̒͠ȩ̜̣̓ͫ̋͐̽́ͯt̳̭̲͕͙͕͒͂͋͆̈̅͜i̇͂̈́ͥ͂̓̑c̦͚̹̜͇͈ͩͪ̒ͬ̈̈ͪ̀ ̫͉̥̗̽͆͢m̯̙̠̮͙̫̮͋ả̪̜t̹͉e̢̲̞͎ͮṛ̴̱ī͚͑̈́ͧa͖͙͍̅̿̂l͌ŝ͚̯͍̠ͯ̿̈̀̃̆͠,̦͖̬͙̂ͨ̂ͥ̕ ̯̀͘aͥ̈̀̓n͌͒͏̤d̾͜ ̢͇̣̘̩ͅͅe̤̙͓͚̠̲͐̚͡i̪̘͈̹t̴̗̩̻͖͈͑ͣ̐̂ͅh̘͓ͮͬ̽̐ͣ̚͢eͬ̿ͬͬȑ̲͉̞̼̻̘̒ͩ̾̆̌͢ͅ ̵͇̙̙͙̓ͩ̏̋͆̍t̰͖̳͔̎ͥͬ̏͑͗ͩ͞h͉̙͎̪̰̜̿̉ͬ͗̀̚e̖̗͚̹͙͚͔ͦͨ̊͊̽̚ ͍̬̻̼ͦ̉͢s̩̠̯͐̓͗͛ͮe̩̥̞̙͓̋͗ä͟t̖̳̏ͣ́ ͇͓̞̑͆̿́̀̆̉́a͊̌l͔̦͇̄o͔̗̝̙ͅn̲̘̖͓̖͇ͬͣͮ̿͟e̲̤̦͚͔̾ ̶̝̭̼͍̠̲͖͂́͑̌ͩͫo̙͋̏ͮͤ̎ͭr̤̗̜̥̳͉̼͌͌́ ̤ͭͯͩt̗̱̮̼̦̮͍͆ͥͯ̇͑̇h̢̞̰̖̬̣e̙͖͔̙̐́ͮͅ ͈͓̹͕̪̰̑̎͊̑ẻ͇͓̮̝͈͈̫͝n̳͕̩̣̠̅̈̔̅ͨ̈͛t̢͕͓ͣ̅ͤ̓i̼̮̱̳̓ͩͣ̑́r̃̓̍͋͂̿ề̲ ̱͕̝ͮ̿͌ͪ͑́̓͢c̜͎͂̌h̙̯̠̩̝̊̏̇̽͛͂a̠̺̙̤i͂̋̓ͣ̊r̃̎̏̍ͪͫͩ͏̺̗̩̱̝̫ ̨̬ͦ̉ͯͪͦḿ̩̻̬͚̬͈̦ǎ̧̹̣̫ͭ̍y̏҉̟̦̪̬̬̙͇ ̼̭̾ͪ̎ͩb̶̜̟͕̻̤͇͖ͤ͛é̠̗̰̟̣ ̷̫͓p̽̌͋̋̆͘a̍ͧ̔̂ͤ͏̮̜̮d̞̭̩̮̘̲͕͐͆̐̂d͇͙͍̺̮ͤ͗͐ͯͬ͌͞eͣͤͨ̾̏d̶͎͉ͮ͑̏̑ ̞͖͈̟̫̮̱͋ͧ͛ͭ͗̋ó͔̳̦͎̫̗̜r̞̖͈͂̋̔̍͡ ̸̹u̳͇ͬ͊p̹̦̪̼h̳̬̰̹̜̝̕ͅo̟̙͙̟͙͍̘̔̿ͦl̢͔̥ͫͥ̌̏̂͑s̪̦̪͇t̝̗̪̫̪̿̊ͥ͗ͪ̋͐ͅḙ̳̞͕̖ͦ̔r̺̝͙e̤̐͋͆̌͋͌͊͠d̰̣̪̯͖̍͋̊̊ͯ̎ͪ ͚͚̩̪̰͎̝̒̓̑̕i҉̫͍̰̞̳͚n̨̼̘̭̬͚̰̅͛̆ ̙̦̟̤͕̏̔̃v̩̣̪͊ͭa͉̩̻͇̗̦͛ͧ̄ṟ͎̼̩̄ͥ͐̇͜ȋ̧̪̖̩̯̯̝͇̂̀ͫ̿̉ö̶̖̪̊̌̉ǘ̘̏̃̌̆̄̚͘s̭͈̲̻̗͜ ̄ͦ̄̋͝c̝̦͌̀ͅő͓̫̳̅ͩ͑̇l̒ͥo̝͉̝͚ṛ͙̯̉̓͋s̳͇̳̬̭̫̤̓̂̓ ͓ạ̴̠̗ǹ͚̦̙̜̥d̦̖̼̂́͐͐ͤ̐̕ ͇̩͖͉͙̙̓f̰ͦ̏̕á̢͙ͪ͌̑ͨ͛͋bͯ͑͊̑͏̼̫͓r̉̃̽ͧ͢iͤ̃̒͏͔͕̙͙̰͔c͕͋͋̐ͣ̑̇́s̙̥͉͔͔͙͐̇̓ͮ.̥̜ͩ̈́ͪ̈́͐͊̕ ̙̩͚͎̒̇ͩͥ

Filtering out the excess symbols - diacritics and all that - took the full attention of one of the MAGI, and that was before dealing with the Meme War Hazards; pieces of information that somehow caused physical or digital damage to any entity trying to perceive them. This could range from the innocuous; simply forcing the perceiver to notice the phrase: “Did you know that world-renowned writer Stephen King was once hit by a car? Just something to consider.”
in any other piece of media they tried to perceive; to the downright weird, like the one letter, that made the perceiver and their second cousin twice removed acutely aware of each other’s existence and the reason why they were acutely aware of each other’s existence***. Naturally, information on what the Meme War was, or why the aliens’ public-access information system was filled with active weapons, was… infected by Meme War Hazards. Luckily, the aliens were just a phone call away, and after an incredibly awkward conversation where Gendo had to not admit that he’d “stolen” the information and the aliens obviously knew he had, he’d learned the basic history. Meme Hazards had originated as a sort of practical joke, before being co-opted by a faction of the aliens that had plotted to seize complete political power; they’d used the practise to spread their ideals, and a war of information and ideas had broken out. Many of the truly dangerous Hazards had been disarmed, but the corruption and remaining Hazards had been left as a warning, or an inoculation - the alien he’d spoken to had been very unclear on that point.

“Every age, it seems, is tainted by the greed of Men,” Fuyutsuki said upon being relayed the story, “Rubbish to ones such as we, devoid of all worldly wants.”

For some reason, Gendo’s phone displayed a picture of someone pointing and saying “IS THAT A DARK SOULS REFERENCE?"**** after those words. Gendo shrugged it off; it was probably another Hazard, and thus better ignored. “This simply confirms that they are as susceptible as us to such forces,” he said instead. “All that remains is to find what they want. Once that is accomplished, they will be nothing more than another piece on the board.”

Of course, first he had to finish decoding this damnable digital database...

Rei slammed into the floor, her body going limp; she rolled twice, and was still.


She rolled over, and pushed herself to her feet. Nearby was the shortsword she’d been given; she picked it up, and charged forwards, there was a BRRT-


Shinji took the first step this time, and vanished in a sea of flame; the flames flickered towards her-


Metal clattered on concrete; Shinji’s sword skittered off into the darkness. “No!” he yelled. “We’re getting nowhere!”

Very well.” Brother Somnius shuffled on his feet, relaxing from the braced position he’d been in since the start of their virtual training. “A short break.”

Rei sat on the bare concrete, pulling her knees up to her chest; truthfully, there was a bunched-up feeling within her, one that had only grown with each contemptuous defeat. She had not felt that in a long time.

“You’re both doing well,” Anura, the Theophanic, said, materialising into the virtual realm beside Somnius. “It’s beside the point, but your survival times are measurable in single-digit fractions of a second, now.”

A remarkable achievement, which even full squads of JSSDF operatives struggle to attain.”

Interesting. “You have been training with the JSSDF?” Rei asked. Normally, the Strategic Self-Defence Force rarely deigned to visit NERV; regular visits would be a significant change. For some reason, Anura and Somnius looked at each other.

“Yes,” Anura said, “That is one way to put it, I suppose. Now, breaktime’s over - we’ll swap out, you can fight me for a bit…”

The estate was beautiful; nestled in an ancient valley, it had been spared the chaos of Second Impact. Cherry trees, genetically altered to be permanently in bloom, tastefully nestled up to the sephirotic series of ponds at whose Keter position the main building sat, overlooking the rest of the compound. The effect in the moonlight was really quite stunning, especially with the main building blazing with a raging inferno.

Incoming aircraft.”

Anura sighed, and swivelled the head of their Class-5 warsuit; sure enough, one of those strange-looking VTOL craft was on final approach. It bore markings they didn’t recognise, and didn’t match up with anything in their suits’ database. “They’re really not trying to hide, are they?” At least it didn’t have a seven-eyed mask like one fool had emblazoned on his personal limo. “I’ll deal with it.” Carefully, they lined up the new Endeavourite laser cannon emplaced on their right shoulder; it was about time they tested the new weapon. It locked on, and Anura pulled the trigger; a thin blue bolt erupted from the barrel, and pierced the offending aircraft, which obligingly exploded.

Thank you. Engaging remaining enemy ground forces.” From their vantage point up on the ridge, Anura had a clear view of Somnius’ mop-up operation; the great dreadnought stomped forwards, autocannon blazing. An armoured vehicle of some sort rolled forwards, only to be caught in the stream of shells and obliterated. Rockets and missiles streaked forth from the blazing facade of the main building, some intercepted by autocannon fire and the rest by the dreadnought’s shield.

Resistance is futile. There is no need to die here. Surrender.” The only response to Somnius’ words was an intensification of the oncoming fusilade. Grimly, Somnius set about silencing it. One by one, the smoky rocket trails stopped being renewed, and the blinking lights of rifle fire winked out for the last time. Anura almost felt it was tragic; though... these were the same men who had doomed the world for their own benefit.

The last gasp of the enemy’s resistance was not long in coming; four men charged out from concealed positions on Somnius’ flanks, clutching demolition charges in their hands. Two were cut down by autocannon fire, a third died as a human candle, and the last made it close enough that Somnius reached out and grabbed the poor fellow. For some reason, they were determined enough to detonate their charge with no hope of escape; of course, the explosion did nothing to Somnius’ armoured claw. “No enemies remaining. Retrieval team, cleared for operation.”

Thanks, you two,” Muffins said, and one of the new-build Endeavourite shuttles flashed past overhead. "We'll have the place cleared out before you can even say a word that takes twenty minutes to say."

“Do you really think they’ll find anything, with the way that place is?” Anura asked, gesturing towards the inferno despite knowing Somnius had no way of seeing the movement.

Information on lower-echelon SEELE operations is likely still present. SEELE’s disaster survival procedures are… extensive. Information on the Committee was probably never present at this site.” Somnius paused. “If it was, and I have inadvertently destroyed it, you have my personal apologies.”

Anura chuckled. “How would I even know, you brick?”

That was the joke.”

*They would have been allowed if they’d just asked, but there is a certain order to some things.
**Which, thankfully, was offscreen.
***A kill team had been dispatched, and Gendo’s second cousin twice removed would soon be aware of nothing at all.
****It was; Fuyutsuki had recently obtained copies of the games from an enterprising Endeavourite spacer in exchange for two cups of vanilla extract and a half-finished haiku.
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Re: Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Sto

Post by VX-145 »

Chapter 7

“And obviously the last place was a decoy, but we know they don’t know that we knew it was a decoy,” Captain Carver said, her tail pointing out the burning symbolism-loaded SEELE facility that had been burned to the ground last night on the ologramma behind her. “We recovered samples taken from the Third, Fourth and Fifth Angels, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time; preliminary analysis is still ongoing, but their physical makeup alone is highly interesting. How go your efforts in Areas E33-E48?”

Frater Beckett cleared his throat: “̸̬̗̔͝A̶̙̓̾͛n̶͇̭̟̓a̷̢̗͝ḻ̵̭́̂͝ͅy̶̯̻̏̈̌ͅŝ̶̤̝i̴͙͔̻̿s̵͖̖̃̂ ̶͉͖́o̴̪͍̓͒f̵̧͖̙̈́̓̈ ̷̙̔͒̉t̴̛̜̫̜̿̚ḧ̶̪̖́̃e̸̦̍͊ ̴͛̑̑ͅa̴͓͑͋f̵̨͖̈́f̶͍͂͒͊e̴̫̼̋c̴͓̊̚t̵̡͇͙̔̏͑e̴̡͠ḑ̵̳̜̿̓ ̸̯̑̌a̷̬̗͗r̴̦̘͉͛̂̆e̶̘͙̎̌ä̵͓͍ ̴̼̒ḣ̷̜̄̋ã̸̠s̸̲͋͋ ̴͈̈ṟ̴̣͓̽̇e̴̱͐̈́̉v̵̝̐̽e̵̯̯͑̐̑͜a̸̠͐̿l̴̥̔̈́ḙ̴͆͠ḑ̴͑ ̸̨͇̀̏̀ṭ̶̼̝̕h̶̩͐͠ả̵͔̘̗t̶͙̦̑͋̀ͅ ̸͇̻̇̿ṉ̴͆ȏ̴̯̭̠ ̶̮͊i̶̟͇͑͘ǹ̵̛̯f̶̱̀̚o̸̢̖͉͛̿̔r̷͙̆m̴̬̙̥͊ǎ̵̬̣̠̃̕t̷̀͝ͅi̴̘̮͆̀̇o̴͇͑n̴̻̙͝ ̶̮̣̀̍͘e̸͈̽̇n̵̗̱̐̂̂t̵̮͕̙͐ę̸̼̫͛̏r̵͈̿͂͋s̵̬̮̫͌̓ ̵̫̤͊o̶͔̍r̴̨̛̝̎ ̶̧̖̜̎̓l̵͔͍̋̓ē̷͇͘a̵̢̭̲̎̒v̷͚̰̄e̶̟͊͜͝s̶͕͓͎͛̇.̷̡̬̝͊̿̀ ̶̰̾Ä̵̜̣̣́̄t̶̠̮͠t̴̞̟͙̊e̴̡̊̔̾m̴̠̮̙͗̉̇p̷̤̑͘t̸̹̄͂͠s̵̜̊̑͑ ̶̜̞̺̔t̷̲͛͗̾ơ̸̄́ͅ ̵͖̩͕̈́s̵̟͝e̷͚̯̽n̶̛̜̖̣͂́d̴̢̡̘̈ ̶̯̿̈́p̷̟̾r̸̩̉͜ő̵̦̣̞̾b̴̙͓́̈́̅͜ě̶͔̒s̶̪̹͇̎ ̵͔̏t̵̤͎̱̄h̴͙̞̟̍̚r̸̗͔̈̈́͜͝ǫ̵̮̆͘u̶̬̻̗͌́g̷̥̜̋̎h̷̦͇̎̍̓ ̴̮͙̝̿̌͝h̸̭͈̰͆͐ą̵̺͋̉̈͜v̵͇̩̑͛e̵͚̪͐̏̇ ̴̳̑͒r̷̡̂̓͝e̴͙̖̹̕ṣ̸͚͙͗u̴͙̭͒̾l̶̨͈͆̔͝t̷͎̭̉̀ḙ̷̮͈́ḏ̶̰̠͒̍ ̴̡̘͌ͅi̴̡͊̀̒ń̷͔͉̐ ̵͚͍̂̚c̸̝͉̈̒̕ȍ̵̢͖̪͌̐n̵͖̻̥̓́̀t̴̙͉̣̂ả̷̯̖͐̉c̵̫͕͂t̴̡̠͕̐ ̶̰̂͗͝b̸̯̣̽͆͘e̸̢̹̒̅̚i̴̖̇ͅṇ̸͖̾g̶̰͙̠̿ ̵̺͠ĺ̷͚͇̏̃ȯ̵̼s̷̫̣̿̃t̶͍̪̮͑ ̷̼͎̬̆̕ẇ̷̪̹͗͘i̸̥̍t̷͓͕̑̊h̶͖̰̚ ̸͓̔͊̀ţ̸̆ͅh̷̯̥̄̇e̸̝̾̿̂ ̵̗̇̐̈p̸̛̙̲͂͂r̶̤̟̺̄ȏ̵̻̋͠b̸͚̎̈ͅè̶͉̹͜.̴̦̤͋͘͠ ̸̫͗Â̸̧͕̇̚d̸̥̟̮̀d̶̪̗̟̋̐̚ǐ̶͓̭̅ͅt̶͙̮̓̚i̵̟͎͆͝ọ̶̆n̸͍͒a̵̭̩͒̓̓ͅļ̷͈̗̃̊͠ḽ̶̪̥̉̕͝y̸̻͈̓͂,̵͚̓ ̸͕̽ỉ̵̲͍̙͛n̷̤̳̽̅͝f̷͇͠ó̴̮̮͉r̶͕͖̄m̵͚̬͎͐a̵͔͠t̴͚̋̆̀i̵̧̩̭̽ö̷͈͈̘́̒n̵͕̆ ̸̹́̇͑ọ̴̤́n̵̹̈́̒̄ ̸̡̮̲́̐t̶̘̽h̵͍̖̱̑̀e̶̩͝ ̵͖̞̦̉̕a̶̛̠̝̠̎͠r̷̛̭e̷͈̔̿ả̵͍s̸̺̮͔͂̀̿ ̷͉̝̂͋͆ȇ̴̱̭̺̆̑x̴̮͌̑͗ị̵̊͆s̷͈͉̚t̷͔̯̤̔̑ś̵͎ ̵̩̟̬͐̀͋ǐ̵̪̥̲͝n̴̫͊̍͝ ̵͉̮͛̊ŏ̵̻̙̅u̸̹͌̀̒ṛ̴̢̿͑ ̷̥͉̫̽͠͝d̴̫̃ạ̷̈̾̅ṭ̶͊a̸͇̰̐̏͘b̴̬͚̱̅ḁ̷̻̥̂͐n̵̞̉͛̌k̴̨͂̿s̴̯̹͊,̶̝̀̽͌ ̸̋ͅb̶̪̋̕͝ȕ̵̺͙t̴̜̖̲̾ ̶̬̫̾͋͂ĩ̶̪̟͈͘͝s̶͈̮̄ ̵̥́̚ȑ̵̺̠̠̀͠ę̵͙̻̌͐ḿ̷̳̹a̷͚͗r̵͔̪̎͝k̷͍͊̒̈́ạ̵̰͗́̑ͅb̵̞̅̀l̷̙̈͋̾ÿ̸̧̛͕̹́̑ ̶̺̣̑͐u̷̳̳̬͐̇͌ṅ̶̥͉ŕ̵͕̦͍e̵͖̥̽̕m̴͖̍͆̔ȃ̶̢r̸̹͆̄k̸̲͝a̵͔̭͎͗b̶̯͌l̸̺̲͋̌e̷̳͓̩̾̀̒.̵̠̽̀”̷͔̭̅͂̏ͅ

Victoria raised an eyebrow. “Remarkably unremarkable?”

“Yes, it is quite interesting,” soi Pegasi took over, leaning over the table. “You see, when we access the files, they’re not interesting - so uninteresting, in fact, that one cannot recall even the slightest detail from them. Not even the names of the affected regions.” He gestured to one of the attending spacers, who laid a set of manilla folders on the table. “Take a look for yourself.”

Victoria leafed through the folders, reading without comprehending. “Right. Yeah, I have no idea how to deal with this.” It wasn’t memetic, or a digital attack - the former couldn’t accomplish anything on this scale, something would have slipped through, and the latter wouldn’t have affected the Theophanics. “Do you have any leads?”

“̶͚͔̝͆̑̿N̷̡̗̊̈̅ô̷̯n̵̫̭̙̓e̴̱͈̠͝ ̶̦̫̟̎ḁ̴̣́̋͌s̸̖̣̝̒͋ ̴̪͊y̵͍͐ë̶͉͓͕́ṭ̷͔͔̀̉̽,̶̥͖̇ͅ"̵̨͈̍͝ said Frater Beckett. ̵̘̿͛"̶̧͎̠͋Ó̷̮̝̣u̴̹͇̐̎r̵̭̍ ̷͔̭̈́̆̉S̷̬͙͓̐̃t̶͈͚͈̓̉̀ȁ̴̢̗̇n̷̜͂̋͒d̵̖͛̿a̴̺̓̃́͜r̵̪͂͛͌d̵̝̳̩̂̉ ̷̤̬̀̕ͅB̶̰̋ŭ̴͕̕l̴͐ͅl̷̲̥͉̋̅̎ṡ̵͇̳h̵̟̖̽̈́̀i̵̬͇̜̓͘͝t̴̜̞̲̏̒ ̷̮̄͗͆D̸͎̹̀e̵̬̱̍̅͜f̴̡̛͍̥e̴̲͒ȧ̶͎̳̤̈́̌t̵̬͇̽͘͠ ̴̝͒M̵̻͒̌u̴͚͓̒̇͜n̵͎͇͆̐i̸̜͔͂ṭ̸̲͒͂̚ḯ̷̯̝̞̋͋o̸̝̪̘̿n̴̟͋̓s̶̳̘̠̉ ̶̙̌h̸̟͖̏̕a̸̤̓v̴̙͙̣̈̑͆ȇ̶̢͔̗̚ ̷͓͓̎̀̐á̷̯̲c̷̛̫͉̕t̵̤͔͙͊̊͗ỉ̷̢ͅv̶̧̘̺̾̋a̵̹̖̎̕ṫ̸̡͎̠e̸̺̔́d̶̪̗̲̈́̎;̷̬̅͐͜ ̴̧͈̋w̷̞̓̐͝e̶͈͋̽̕͜ ̷̛͙̉ä̵͇̦͎́̿̆r̵̺͍̾̀e̷̻̽͌̃ ̶̺̬̈i̵͔̋͘n̵̛͕͐̌ ̸̟̒̈́t̷͔̯̕h̴̗͔̔͌́͜ě̸̼̩̼͊̏ ̵̨͔̪̒̏͐p̷̩̓ṙ̶̡͈͎̆̇o̷̟̼͙̿c̷̳͆́e̷͈͇̓̓͠s̸̟͖̯̈́́s̸͓͐̓̑ ̸̭̏͜o̶̫̮̦̾f̵̬̪̀͘ ̴̟̐̍͝r̴̝̙̤̉͌ĕ̸̗ͅ-̵̺͕̠͒ạ̶̹̈ṟ̸̥̱̓̽m̷̤̠̭͌ī̷̢͇n̵̹͖̈́͂̚ǵ̶͓̼̌͠ ̶̳̃̆̅o̸̺̝̿ͅu̷̬̓r̶͔̙̀͌͘͜ ̴̰̀̊m̸̱͙̪͑̄̀į̴̛̪̙s̴̫̻͐͜s̴̳̿̈́̕i̶͙̮̤̽ļ̵͐̈e̸̯͌̓͠ş̷̡̢̎̚.̵̦̹̞̏̊”̷̫̾

“You’ll need to hit the source directly, with those,” Victoria mused, “Unless yours are different from ours.”

soi Pegasi shook his head. “Alas, they are the same type. However, Frater Beckett assures me that it will be possible to enter the affected area safely.”

“That’s going to be tough on the team you send in,” said Victoria. “Do you want us to provide backup? We can send Rouge through.”

One hand clasped to his belly, soi Pegasi laughed, a comfortingly jolly sound. “You misunderstand me, Captain. I do not intend to send a strike force in - I will take the Theotita itself.”

Wilhelmina-4465 was the last remaining crewmember of the entire Midships Magazine Company A Shift, formerly one thousand strong; she’d only been spared on account of being in the brig at the time as a result of partaking in a card game where some cheating may or may not occurred. She’d moved out of the old bunkroom, what with her being one of three people living in a space formerly housing five hundred, and now was part of the Forward Magazine Company D Shift, and had the singular (mis)fortune of being on duty when the Standard Bullshit Defeat Munitions activated, blinking their green LED indicator lights at the tip of their warhead casings.

“Be careful with that,” she snapped at one rating who’d just nearly dropped one of the warheads, “Do you want a [DATA EXPUNGED] to happen? No? Then don’t fucking drop it!” Theoua above, she hated working with these shitty things. One wrong move and reality itself goes fucking sideways. Still, handling them did come with automatic extra hazard pay, so it wasn’t all bad.

The thin notes of the ship’s pipe began playing over the PA system, followed by the voice of the kapetanos: “All hands, this is the kapetanos. We are about to enter the combat area; all personnel are to report to battle stations. This is not a drill. We will be engaging with a class-6 entity; focus on your jobs and the word of the Theoua, and all will be fine.”

“You hear that, you lazy pigs? We’re about to enter combat, so look lively!” Wilhelmina directed a glare at Paul-111111, who was leaning against one of the bulkheads. “Let’s get these fucking warheads stowed before the Angel tears us a new one!”

Actually entering the affected zone was quite the anticlimax; the only major change was that the fields below became more elongated and narrower, but it was otherwise identical to the forest-farmland-town pattern the Theotita had glided over on the way in. soi Pegasi kept careful watch on the viewscreens, looking alert for any sign of their quarry. It would likely be in the centre of the region, but he knew better than to trust words like “likely” with his life. Chatter flowed on the bridge floor, few items making it all the way through to his own ear - their sensors were being reflected by the boundary, but they could “see” the whole of the affected region from this position. Communications seemed to break down beyond a few kilometres, and it was impossible to know if any made it out of the boundary; given the ack of calls for help by the local residents, they probably didn’t. There were no signs of the enemy, but one city, some seven hundred kilometres distant, was heavily fortified in the vein of Tokyo-3. Great gun towers covered every approach, and the one remaining uncut rail line was crammed with trains - whether they were bringing in supplies or evacuating refugees, it was impossible to tell. Most telling, though, were the craters surrounding the city, filled with what soi Pegasi dearly hoped was just red water and not the blood it looked like.

“Pattern blue off the starboard bow!” ypaxiomatikós Alexi called out, and the ship’s lights darkened.

“Well, that was sooner than I expected,” soi Pegasi muttered, and stood, striking a striking pose. “Railgun batteries, target the enemy and prepare for rapid fire. Missile bays, fire a salvo of BDM warheads - use the pattern blue as a target.”

“The warheads aren’t armed!” reported back the eighth-in-command for the missile systems. “They’re not responding to our arming codes!”

“Then this isn’t our target,” said soi Pegasi, his voice low. “Belay the missile command - railguns, you are still to fire when ready.”

Suddenly, the target itself appeared on the viewscreen; a bird-masked black humanoid, almost identical to the Third Angel save for a few minor details. Its eyes flashed, and the viewscreen winked out for a second. “Hit to section 11-38!” rang out the voice of the damage control officer, “Armour penetrated, no systems damage!” At the same time, the familiar rumble of the Theotita’s railgun batteries told soi Pegasi that his ship was finally getting into the fight.

The Angel on the viewscreen staggered backwards, hundreds of rounds - each the equivalent of a low-yield atomic bomb - striking its body per second. The hexagonal orange aspis they used flashed into existence for a moment, and then shattered like glass, overloaded through sheer volume of firepower; its eyes flashed once more, this time knocking eight of the railgun turrets out, before a round fractured its core. Slowly, the Angel leaned backwards, and dissolved into... blood.

Someone on the bridge floor muttered; “Well, that explains all the blood.” soi Pegasi suppressed a grunt of amusement, instead choosing to sit back down upon his throne.

“Engines to one-third,” he ordered. “Take us to that battlefield.”

“Unit 02, prepare for immediate launch.”

Asuka’s eyes snapped open, taking in the bare walls of her entry plug; how long had she been asleep? About two hours, going by Unit 02’s system clock, but that was hardly accurate. “Another Angel?” she asked, punching in the startup sequence with practised ease. OS, online, neural interface buffer, nominal, LCL reserve tank filling…

“Negative, Unit 02, no Pattern Blue. Well, there was, but it’s gone now - we’re detecting a large airborne object approaching at high speed from that location. Next shift’s not due for a few days so you should be safe to engage.”

“So you’re saying it’s probably an Angel, dummkopf,” spat Asuka, holding her breath as the LCL rose past her nose. “Send up a Type-2 weapons package, and get me some cover. There’s no way this thing isn’t hostile…”

Launching went well for once, considering Berlin wasn’t currently being shot at by Angels, and she found herself on the surface with her weapons crate conveniently nearby; she broke it open, and retrieved the rifle within. It wouldn’t do much against an Angel, but it felt good to dump the magazine into their stupid faces. More useful was the bandolier of progressive knives next to it. Those, at least, could actually kill things.

She was about to call back to HQ and ask where the fuck the target was going to come from when she saw it. It definitely wasn’t an Angel, unless the Angels were going in for gold-trimmed metal, obvious thruster ports, and gun turrets. And it was still coming… and still coming… and there was even more of it, gold-edged plates spanning for kilometres and practically filling the whole sky. It coasted to a halt, and Asuka began using Unit 02’s magnifiers to pick out details. Whatever it was, it had statues on its surface.

Horrific screeching seemed to come from everywhere around her, and was suddenly cut off. “Ah, hello down there!” an affable voice said (in Japanese!), not through her radio but from the object. “This is the Theophanic Imperial Cruiser Το οριστικό επιχείρημα για τη θεότητά τους είναι αυτό το νέο κάστρο της πίστης στον θεό μας, Kapetanos Manfred soi Pegasi commanding - you can call the ship the Theotita, and the man “soi Pegasi”. We are here to render assistance.”

...yeah, that seemed about right. Greek-speaking possible aliens wouldn’t be the weirdest thing to happen this week.

Of course, it wasn’t as simple as setting down, reinforcing the city and trying to figure out what exactly was going on and thus how to deal with it. Less than an hour after the Theotita cruised to a halt on newly-fitted inertia-cancelling drives, the alarms began to sound. soi Pegasi, not having left his command throne, wheeled around from the snack tray behind him to face the viewscreens.

“Two pattern blues,” reported ypaxiomatikós Alexi. “Signatures are a match for the Fourth Angel.” That had been one of the communications specialists’ idea - damned if he could remember the name right now - that the Angels all seemed to have some sort of unique pattern. Whichever Angel was causing this, would thus have to not be a match for any known pattern. “Wait, one more - Fifth Angel, Ramiel type!”

Still no sign of the mastermind, then. soi Pegasi studied the tactical plot; the two Fourths were closer, but there was no way the locals had anything that could engage the Fifth. “All batteries, engage the Fifth-type,” he ordered. “Swap missile batteries one through eighty-six for anti-ship munitions; maintain BDM loads in eighty-seven through one-fifty-six. Contact NERV-B, tell their Evangelion to engage the Fourth-types.” Immediately, the throne began rumbling with the rippling barrages of railgun fire.

“Enemy aspis holding!” called Alexi. Then: “Energy build-up in its reactor!”

“Evasive!” called out the helm-spacer, and soi Pegasi was glad for sitting down, lest he be thrown about the bridge like some piece of sporting equipment. He watched on the viewscreen as the Angel’s beam lanced out, curved slightly in mid-air… and missed, as the Theotita rolled to port, letting the beam skim over the hull. No major damage was sustained, though they now had work for the punishment details: buffing the gold armour plating until it shone once more.

Alexi’s voice rang out again: “Missile batteries one through eighty-six report reloading complete! They’re ready to fire on your mark.”

“I want focussed fire on one point of that Angel’s aspis,” said soi Pegasi, “Have the warheads impact at the same time - if that doesn’t work, switch to sustained barrage.”

“Understood. Warheads launching.” Streaks of red - almost a solid sheet, with how many missiles were in the air - appeared on the tactical plot, and a moment later the Angel on the viewscreen disappeared behind a cloud of smoke. soi Pegasi smiled, baring one canine in the manner of one particularly edgy Endeavourite he'd met. Each and every single one of the heavy anti-ship warheads had either directly hit, or discharged their energy precisely on target. “Enemy aspis is down!” Alexi dutifully called, and soi Pegasi watched as his railguns began picking the blue diamond Angel apart.

Asuka had had to turn off Unit 02’s external sound pickups with the air being torn apart above her; she ducked as one of the Angels lashed out with its tentacle whips, then was practically blown off her feet as dozens, then hundreds of missiles blossomed out from the Theotita above her. Fortunately, so were her opponents - and she was faster, springing up and spraying at one with the pallet rifle while charging at the other. She rolled, covering the distance and getting under another lash of the Angel’s whips, and stabbed out with a progressive knife, meeting an AT Field. She pressed on, letting the other Angel lash futilely at her back, and cut through-

“Incoming shift!”

Shit, not now! There was supposed to be a few days, at least! Gritting her teeth, she pushed her knife into the Angel’s core, and then the world twisted; suddenly, she was standing upon a field of red, and the Angel before her was slightly different. It was still dying, though, and she saw the big fucking blue diamond fall apart out of the corner of her eye, but there was one at her back. She turned, throwing the Angel on her knife between her and the unharmed one, only to see it impaled on the end of a long, two-handed sword. Both Angels slowly slumped, and dissolved into blood.

“Do you need some more help, Soryu?” an unfortunately familiar voice asked.

Fucking hell, now the copycat was here. “I’m still one ahead of you, Shikinami,” Asuka bit out. “How’d you enjoy not existing?” Urgh, what had the other her been thinking with that stupid fucking crest?

“Just fine, fuck you for asking. What’s with the big ship?”

“You’ll have to ask them that, they just showed up." She looked around; the field was clear. Whatever weapons these aliens had, they were certainly effective; the big Angel was, just like the other two, a pool of blood on the floor. "Come on, let’s see if NERV-B made it through, I could use some real food…”
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Re: Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Sto

Post by VX-145 »

Not 100% happy with this chapter, but things need to move forward. Apologies for the delay between this one and the last.

Chapter 8

The Theotita’s bridge was a whirlwind of noise and activity; crew running about from here to there like a pack of meerkats chasing a human shadow around. Monitors were checked, unplugged, rechecked, plugged back in, and then checked a third time; technognostiki acolytes wandered to and fro, mechadendrites occasionally plunging into machinery or, on one occasion, slapping aside a crewmember who had been about to take a crowbar to a particularly finicky control station. Whatever had happened, it had taken out almost all of the Theotita’s visual displays with it; the railgun batteries had gone to local control before the Angel had recovered, thankfully.

It looks like whatever they did to the sea around the south pole happened to the land here - it’s all red. There’s a second Evangelion here as well now. It’s red, but it looks a little different to the first one.” There was silence from the observation blister - probably, some gunner had burst in with new information. “Wait, you can’t just-

Hey Captain, so - either we’re really fucked, or we’re only minorly fucked.” No, that wasn’t a gunner, that was the Endeavourite engineer who’d stayed on to make sure the engines were running right. What was her name again? She was one of those pony folk - Pone-three, that was it.

“Explain,” soi Pegasi said.

Right, I’m a bit cut off from the main databases and I didn’t have space left over with your engines being as complicated as they are, but from what I remember, things only got like this after a… was it a Third Impact? Near Fourth Impact? Negative Root Minus One Impact? Big end-of-the-world thingy. The upshot is, either everyone over at T-3 managed to let the world end in the five minutes we were away, or…

soi Pegasi could tell when someone was fishing. “Or?” he asked.

We’re not in Kansas anymore.” soi Pegasi remained silent, making sure to hold it long enough to make it an awkward silence. “Aw, come on, man, that’s like, old-school shit. Whatever. Look, I think your techpriests are on to something - I’ll come up and talk to Beckett. And then I should… probably get down to the surface.

“̵͕̓T̸̞̈ḧ̸̖́e̴͈͋ ̶̀ͅE̷̫͠q̵̗̀ủ̶̻i̶͍͊n̷̩̾é̴͙’̵̖͌s̷͍̐ ̵̧̂ḏ̴̔á̵͙ẗ̶̹́a̶͚͘ ̷̣̾p̸͚̉r̴̹̂o̷̦̚v̵͕̕ẻ̶̲ṡ̸̺ ̵̺̃ö̵͕́ú̵̱r̸̙̓ ̶̛͜h̵͚̍y̶̑ͅṗ̶̳ơ̵̥t̸͈͐ḧ̶̝e̸͙̓s̸̤̈́i̷̪͆s̵̭͂,̸͈̓”̵̳́ Frater Beckett rumbled. “̶͔̊C̵͙͛a̶̼͂p̶͎̈́t̸̞̑a̷̗͘i̴͔͋n̷̜͋,̶̯͝ ̶͍̅d̷̯͝i̴͇̒d̷̛̻ ̶͘ͅy̷̪͝ö̶̯́ú̴̩ ̵̡̐ţ̷͒a̵̟̔k̸̫̊ĕ̴̟ ̸̜́H̷̞̔ỉ̵̫s̷̠̃t̸̬̓o̵͚̿r̸͚̊î̶̗c̷͍̍a̷̘̿l̷͕̾ ̷̨̄Ṗ̵̦h̸̩͗ỵ̸͐š̷̫i̷̜͋c̵̖̏s̶̱̈́ ̴͕̈́ḍ̷̀ů̷̮r̸̽ͅi̵͙͠ṋ̴͌g̶͈͂ ̴̤̆ỳ̴̻ö̶̤́û̷ͅr̶̢̽ ̷̨͊ŝ̸̲ć̴̫h̸̲̓o̸̞̊ȍ̸͍ḻ̷̕ḯ̷͜n̶͙͐g̶̗̕?̸̙͐”̵̱͒

“I did,” said soi Pegasi. “Pegasi have to. It’s Newton and Einstein and all that, right?”

“̴̜̅A̴̩͛r̴̘͛e̵̬̓ ̷̠̃y̵̖̔ö̷̖́ų̵́ ̵̝̄f̵̺̾a̵̓ͅm̸̫̄i̵̺̚l̵̪̎i̵̤͆a̸̤͐r̴̛͕ ̴̡̀w̴̛͍i̷̭̎t̵̙͑h̶̟̐ ̶̠̕s̶̬̒ǘ̶̡p̵̡̈́e̴̙͒ṛ̵̐p̵͙̔ó̵͉s̵͇̓i̶͔͐ṯ̶̀i̷̧̓o̵͈͋n̴̬̊?̷̟̀”̴̳͆

soi Pegasi let out a long sigh. “If I hear the word “quantum” from either of you…”

“No quantum necessary, boss,” the pony said, a little nervously. Her headphones were, for once, around her neck. Naturally, her sunglasses had not been removed. “So, the good news is we’re not completely fucked. The bad news is that the Angel is utilising a sort of Infinite Assassin strategy - variant eight point six three.” She received two blank looks, so continued: “Essentially, it’s trying to define itself as the version of itself that wins, and in doing so, becoming that version.”

“I did not think it possible,” said soi Pegasi, “But I understand the concept even less with that explanation.”

“̵̦̒I̴͉͐t̵̘͝ ̶̳͋i̵̫̓s̵̞̿ ̷̲̓m̸̦̃y̴̼̐ ̵͓̍ö̵̜w̴̖͑n̶͔̚ ̶̘͝h̶̠͛y̸͙͒p̸͇͊o̷̗̒ţ̵̔h̴͇͘e̸̫̓s̶̍ͅi̸̫͠s̴̟̑,̸̳̆ ̸͕̽a̸̟͑n̶͍̎d̴̜͝ ̸̗̕t̵̜̂h̶̲̀ȧ̴̞t̸͇̅ ̵̗͌e̵͕̕x̶̧̀p̵͖͑l̴̮̃a̸͚͗ṉ̵̇a̶̝͒t̶̠́ḯ̵̥ō̸̙ņ̴̄ ̷̤́m̸̙͠å̸̫k̶̘̽e̷̗͠s̸̘̈ ̸̻̎m̴̮͆e̷̼͘ ̶̣͊ḏ̸̾o̵͎͆u̴͓̽b̴̽͜t̸̞͋ ̴͇̎d̶̳̋e̸͠ͅs̷͚͊p̴̻͊i̶͚̍t̶̥͌ẻ̵̪ ̷̳̃t̵̮̉h̶͌ͅę̷͂ ̵̫̈e̵̪̓v̴̢̏i̷̩̎ḓ̸͛ẹ̸͌n̷̩͑c̶͓̓ẻ̷̖ ̷̝̒w̵̦͗ẻ̶̦ ̵͎͑h̴̪͝ạ̶̛v̵̯̑e̷̩͋ ̸̫̈c̴̣̾ó̸̮l̷̜̃l̴̳͐ę̷͑c̴͓̈́ṯ̷̐e̵̦̕d̸̫̒.̸̰͊”̶̯̐

“Okay, so… again, my brain’s pretty full of all engineering stuff, so Imma miss some details, ‘kay? You’re both aware of multiverse theory, that it’s kinda sorta true and false at the same time, right?” Two nods. “So, normally, you can’t just hop from one world to another, nor can you make one world into another, but whatever the Angel’s special bullshit is, includes being able to bring in possible versions of reality.”

“̷̗͑N̶͕͛o̷̦͐ṭ̶̇ḧ̷̢ï̴͎ñ̶̲g̸͘ͅ ̶̘̀ȍ̵̢v̷͙̊e̷̘͆r̶̛̜ ̵͍̎ạ̷̃ ̵͔͐.̶̝̔0̶͙͋0̷̢͋1̵̙͝2̷͇͂ ̴̘͝d̵͍͛e̷̾ͅv̵̘͝i̵̤̊a̴̛̪t̷̹̓i̴̬̚ǒ̵͜n̴̖̎,̶͙́”̵̪̆ Beckett interrupted. “̷̭͘Ẅ̴͉́e̴̟̚ ̶̝͐s̶̻̔ḫ̶̀ä̷̙́l̷̝͌ḽ̶̛ ̴̨͑ň̷̢o̶̻̓t̸̞̓ ̸̡͘s̵̙̓u̶̦͂d̵̛͔d̶̥̋ȅ̴̝ǹ̴͈l̴̳̑y̷̝͗ ̸̧̈t̸͓̉u̴̬̇r̶͉͆ń̶ͅ ̶̩̏ḯ̸̩n̶̛̘t̷̢͒o̸͝ͅ ̸͕̈w̵̖͆h̴̝͂a̵̪͛l̸̟̿ȩ̵̍s̸̳̉ ̸̲̍ǒ̵̭r̸̖̒ ̷̜̀p̶̬̍o̷̪͝ţ̵̈t̶̼͋e̵͝ͅd̴̲͆ ̸̢̔p̴̱̂l̸̎͜a̸̳͆n̵̺̾t̵̯̂s̵̜͑.̶̙̚”̶̙̅

“Right. So, of course one of the things it can do is bring in copies of Angels; this would be bad enough on its own, but it seems to be capable of choosing which variant of Angel it brings in. This is why there were two Fifth Angels, I think. It seems to have set up shop here, and is iterating on its tactics until it wins.”

“Why here, and not Tokyo-3?” asked soi Pegasi.

“̶̹͑U̵͑͜n̸̦͑k̸̝̒n̶̛͜o̶̰͒w̸̳̎n̵̹̽.̸͚̄ ̸͎̈Ṭ̵̓ĥ̴̹ẽ̷̠ ̶͎͑o̴̠͝b̶̝͑j̵̡͛e̷͇͐c̷͎̉ţ̷͝i̸̛̮v̶̺̎e̶̪͝s̷̮̋ ̴̖͌o̸͈̿f̶͉̍ ̶̡̾ţ̵͐h̶̝̎ẹ̸̌ ̵͙͌Å̷̬n̶̰̿g̷͙̾ë̶̡l̶̹͘s̴̗͑ ̵̝̔a̸̺͌ȓ̸̠e̷͉͝ ̷̢͋v̵͐ͅa̷̙̎r̵̬̂i̴̹̓a̷̩̓b̷̞͘l̶̼̐ę̴̛ ̶͓̓ď̵̢ȅ̴̻p̵͉͗e̶͍̋n̷̻̐d̵̻̆i̴͈͂n̴̽ͅg̷̩͊ ̸͇͘ö̶̖n̸̢̏ ̴͇̊w̶͙̓h̶̭̀i̷̙͐c̸̮̎h̵̳̿ ̸̮̅ẗ̸͉́i̶̜̐m̷̛͉e̸̫̋l̵̮̚ḯ̸̫n̷̛̮e̶̠͒ ̶͙̀-̷͒ͅ ̷̡̍“̸̬́c̷̤̿ȁ̷̹n̴͘͜o̷͚̾n̴͇͛”̵̡̚ ̸̰͝i̴͖͂n̶̰͌ ̶̞̒t̸͚̍h̸͚̉ë̸̱́ ̸̢̾E̶̱̔n̶͖̓d̸̫͘e̸̫͗a̵̧̕v̵̞͝o̷͓̊ü̴̫r̵̤͐i̵͔̓t̵͎̆e̶̯͝ ̷͕̾t̶͉͆e̸̳͗ŕ̷̨m̵̪̃i̴͈͆ń̶̤ỏ̷͜l̷͉̊ò̸ͅģ̴͠y̷̩͒ ̸͔͊-̴̨̅ ̸̜̌í̵͎s̵̘͌ ̴̗͒a̸̬͆c̵̮̀t̸̨͠i̴̤͘v̴̟͒ę̴͊,̶͍̎ ̶̹̑b̸̹̍ụ̵͌ţ̵̿ ̴̖̎t̴͉̆h̴̘͂e̶̡̓y̸͌͜ ̷͖̿a̸̫͝ĺ̴̢l̶̦̾ ̶̫̎f̴̩͊i̸͚͊ẍ̶̳́ạ̷̓t̸̪͝e̷̖̐ ̷̺͋o̷̢͊ń̴̰ ̷̰̽f̶͕͗i̴͔̿n̷͎͋d̸̟̑i̵̳͗n̴̫̐g̶̫̕ ã̴̝n̴̮͂d̸̖̚ ̵̣͌m̶̭̌a̴̲̋k̷̦̊i̶̯̔n̵̘̈́g̶̼̿ ̸̦́c̶̘͝ö̶͚n̶̦̏t̵̖̽a̴̺̓c̸̫̿t̶̩͑ ̵̥̉w̴̱͠i̸̱̐t̸̥͐h̶͉̔ ̴͘͜ ̵̳͗ȅ̷͉i̴̭͝t̴̡̔h̸͂͜è̷͎r̵̺̒ ̸̺̈́t̴̰̀h̶̦̏e̵͉̔ ̴̾͜F̵͕̈́i̴͖̒r̷̘̅ś̷̝t̸̟̂ ̶̖̉ȯ̵̭r̶̫͒ ̴͆͜S̴͓͘e̸̮͘c̵͉͊o̴͎̊n̵̡̚d̶̗̂ ̶͔̍Ȃ̷̢n̸̘̆g̸̜̓ë̷͍́l̵̞̾s̵̠̃.̵̼̃ ̸͓͂N̴͈̿ė̵̜i̶̩͊t̶̢͆ẖ̵̽e̴͖̎r̴̨͑ ̴̨̄o̷̭̓f̴͉̄ ̵͈̌t̷͍̎h̶͔͗o̸̧̽s̵̓ͅe̸̢̒ ̶̧̄ḁ̸͛ṛ̷̀ę̷̚ ̸̤͂l̵̗̚ö̴̙́c̷̞̽a̶̯͝t̸̡͑e̶̙͠d̸̥͂ ̵͙̎h̵͓͋e̶̹͝r̷̻̚e̷̩̋.̸̦̈”̷̲̿

The Captain nodded. “Is it capable of spreading this effect over a larger area - could the area perhaps be expanding?”

“̸͋ͅU̷̲͊n̵̙͠l̷͈̄î̷̬k̵̟̈e̴͚̒l̴͚͒y̵̥͒.̴̹͝ ̵̨̎P̷̬̃r̸̙̂ḯ̵̥o̶̦̍r̴͔͛ ̶̻͌e̸̫͘x̴̖͗p̵̖̍ë̸͚́r̴̨̿í̵͓m̸̩̒e̶̡͋n̴͉̎t̸̬̓s̷̙̽ ̴̮̒i̷̠̓n̷̳̾ ̴̧̓ṱ̸̽h̸̬͌i̸͈͆s̵̼̽ ̸̰̅f̶̈́͜ȉ̵͜é̸̢l̴͇̉d̴̜̊ ̶̯̒i̴̼̓ñ̷͕d̴͉̊i̴͚͌ć̶̜ą̴̾ț̸̈́ę̷̎ ̵̟̋t̸̗̏ḩ̸͐â̵ͅt̶̝̿ ̸̗̂i̸͈̎t̷͎̎ ̸̡̾r̴̩̍e̶͖͠q̸̢̔u̷̥͠i̸̜͝r̷̲̎ë̸̹́s̵̢͆ ̴͇̏ą̸̉ ̸̞̇c̶̬̕o̵̮̐n̴̡͌s̵̞͠t̷̝͊a̷̦̋n̴͕͆t̷̫̍ ̴̲͐a̷̧͝n̵̮̓d̷̬͋ ̴̳͒s̶̤̒î̶̱g̵̱͑n̷͍̍ì̶͓f̴̟͑i̴̫͂c̶̯̒a̶̦̋n̸͍͝ţ̶̄ ̶̱́e̷̝̿f̶̬͝f̸͚̊o̸͉͗r̶͓̀ẗ̷̤́ ̸͕͒t̴̟̑o̵̝͗ ̸̗̀m̵̠̾ă̴͕i̴̦̕n̸̥̎t̴̗̀a̸͍̓í̵̳n̷̥̋ ̷̛̩a̵͕̎n̷̳̍ ̶̖͐e̶͍̒f̷̫̽f̷̠͂ë̷̺c̷̝̈́t̷̛͈ ̵͔̽n̸̛͈ȏ̷͙t̵̲̕ ̵̜̃c̴̫̉o̴̬̓n̵̝͂s̶̗̾i̸̳͊s̷̠̀t̵̟̔e̴̙͝ṋ̷̌t̵̯͘ ̶̗̽ẅ̸̪́i̷̖͗t̴̮͌ḥ̸͆ ̵̫̀b̶̡̉a̶̬͑ŝ̷͙è̵̫l̵̢̋i̵̻̽n̵̡̂e̶̛̜ ̵͚̄r̵̭̎ë̸̦́ạ̶͒l̸̛͎ȉ̴ͅţ̴͗y̷͚̓.̴̲̏ ̷̟́I̷̘̐t̵̻͛ ̵̼̂i̵̺̽ś̸͙ ̷̜̃l̸̙͠i̵̯͒k̷͙͌ē̸͓ĺ̶̬ÿ̵̜́ ̵̢͛t̷̤͛h̵͍͑a̶̡͗t̴̻̕ ̴̫͝t̸̢̿h̷̖̃e̷̳̒ ̸̠̓A̴̮͝n̵̡͘g̶̲͋è̷̟l̴̻̇ ̶͈̈́ï̵̝s̷͍̕ ̵̫͝ḏ̴̕e̸̞̋v̴̢́ȍ̸̹t̵̬͘i̴̙͝n̶̡̿g̴̒ͅ ̶̛̤m̵͍͌o̶̼̒s̸̥̄t̵̚͜ ̸̞͑o̵̟̾f̷̨̍ ̶͎̃ĭ̵̙t̵̚ͅs̶̡̈́ ̴͖͂e̴̟̐f̸͖̊f̶̫͝o̷̜͋r̴̬̂t̵̟͂ ̵̹͋ẗ̸̳́o̸̩͝ ̴̤͒m̶̟̐a̷͕̍i̷̲̍n̵͙͌ẗ̴̜́a̵͉͂i̵̒ͅn̵̼̈́i̵̻͋n̵̤̎g̶͖̀ ̶͈̾t̵̪̓h̷̖̏e̷̲͋ ̵͈͘c̵͎̏u̸͚͒ṟ̵̈r̶͍̿e̷̬̔n̶̛̘ṱ̴̈́ ̸̫͊a̴͎͌r̴̡̓ĕ̴̳ȧ̶̼;̸̝͌ ̶͔̅e̵͎̋v̷̜͗ȩ̴̃n̷̘͘ ̵̗́ẇ̴̼ḭ̶͒t̴̗́ḧ̶͉́ ̸̰̃t̴̋ͅh̸̨̾e̷̹̋ ̶̬̊t̶̮́ḩ̸̓e̶̲̽o̶̼̐r̴͈̈́i̷̪̊ș̴͌e̵̙͒d̶͖̑ ̴̠͌ṯ̵̃h̷̞͝r̵̈ͅȯ̷̺ȕ̵̙g̶̻̀h̶͔͑p̶̥͑u̷̳̚t̷͔̽ ̸͐ͅò̸̹f̶̙̿ ̶̙́a̴̻͑n̴͕̄ ̵̟̔S̴̥̎2̷͍̀ ̶̂ͅO̶͚̍ŗ̵̈g̸̝̕à̵̡n̸̞̿,̴͚̄ ̴͎́i̵̲͆t̸̩̏ ̸̞̄i̷̢̍s̸̥̐ ̵̭̒s̵̱̚ì̶̧m̸̢̉p̷̞̚ḽ̴̽y̶̥̅ ̸̦͘ń̵̹ơ̵̼t̸̛̩ ̴̠͠p̶̭̿ȍ̸̠s̶͉̿s̷̙̓ỉ̴̭b̸̜̀l̶̜̑ë̶̡ ̸̣͠t̴̖̅ő̶͙ ̷̜̌m̶͍̌á̴̤i̵̝͛n̵̤̽t̷̜̕a̸͚̅i̶̪͠ṋ̷̉ ̸̭͝a̶̲̅n̶̬͠ ̶͔̀ä̸͍́l̵̨̇t̴̗͝e̵͇̋r̵̝͐n̵̘̈́a̵͚̾ţ̸̆e̴̤̿-̴̣͌c̴̣͑a̷͔͂n̵͕͑ǫ̴͌ń̴̯ ̴͓̍b̵̡̚ȕ̵̩b̴̥̋b̵̻̌l̴͍̈́e̵͍̋ ̶͍͊ọ̸́v̶̨̽e̷̯͋r̴̙͂ ̸̺͒a̶̬̅ṉ̶͐ ̴̜̔a̶̱̍r̶͍͘e̶̜͗â̷͍ ̵̪͑m̴̜̎ṷ̶͂c̶̭̚h̸͙͋ ̷̤̾l̷͓͂a̸̢͋r̷͎̈́g̴̝̉e̶̫̓r̸̝͝ ̸̟͆t̵̪͌h̵͒ͅä̸͜n̵̳̍ ̴̼̐ẗ̶͇ḣ̶̹e̶͚͘ ̴̌ͅȯ̵̟ņ̵̈́è̵͕ ̶̜̚t̵̢͘h̸͍̎a̷̖̓t̶̪̋ ̷͎͝ḭ̷̆s̵̙͊ ̶̟͆c̷̣̍ú̴͔r̵̳͆r̴̰͗e̶̺͑ṋ̸͘t̴͋ͅl̶̜͠y̸̼͗ ̶̥̅b̵͉͒ê̶̹ȋ̶̥n̷̈́ͅg̴̭͘ ̴̤̿a̵̬͒f̵̫͊f̵̬̄e̴̢̿c̶̲̾ț̸̌ë̶͖́d̴̼́.̵͚͗”̴̮̔

That was probably enough information for now. “Do either of you have a weapon we can use to kill the Angel? Or some defence against this strategy?”

The Endeavourite and Technognostiki shared a look. Frater Beckett prompted the pony forwards with a mechadendrite, or more accurately, slapped the pony forwards. “What the hey, man?” Pon-3 whispered, then shook her head. “Launching BDM during the next canon shift should do something, we’re just not sure what. They might kill the Angel, or they might negate its canon-shifting ability, or just bring it out from whatever pocket reality it’s hiding in so we can kill it.” That was expected; Bullshit Defeat Munitions could have unpredictable effects. “Other than that, we could try and find the Angel ourselves, but that carries a risk. If we descend into netherspace - sorry, you call it nullspace - here, we might be irreversibly shifted away from baseline canon.”

“For the first time, I’m thankful that our nullspace engines are yet to be repaired,” mused soi Pegasi. “Very well. You mentioned you had to go to the surface - I’ll send a team with you to analyse the environment. Our success is by no means certain, and if this is the result, then we should know how to survive it.”

NERV-B had, in fact, made it through the last shift; rather than scavenged MREs and a bedroll, there might actually be real food and comfortable quarters in the two Asukas’ future. Fortunately, the facility was equipped to handle two Evangelion units at once, so no devastation was wrought as the two fought to be the first out of the entry plug. Their weapons were quickly stored against the walls of their cages, and both disembarked with almost undue haste.

“I’m telling you, you’re really gonna miss all this when the idiot child fucks it all up for everyone.” The sound of running water stopped as both pilots finished showering at nearly the exact same second.

Soryu paused, towel hanging loosely in her hands. “Stop it with the backstory, already. I get it, your future sucks and it’s really bad and everyone dies. Did they have giant alien warships in the future as well?”

There was silence from Shikinami’s shower cubicle for a second. “...Well, yes, but actually no. There’s the Wunder, but we built that.... I think? It's so hard to remember.”

“Then your future isn’t mine.” Soryu put her spare, non-LCL covered plug suit on, and pressurised it. “Not like I’d have let it get that bad...”

Shikinami stormed out of her cubicle, about to counter, when the base alarms went off.

“All base personnel to level-two alert. Evangelion pilots to standby.”

Both pilots shared a weary look. “Better not be another damned Angel,” Soryu muttered. “Had enough of those for today.” As if to answer, the alarms ceased.

“Section 2 team 6 and Section 3 team 4 to landing pad 2. All other personnel, stand down.”

The two Asukas shared a look. “So, pad 2?”

“Yup. Let’s go.”

They managed to get to the pad just as a VTOL set down - though, it wasn’t like any VTOL Soryu had seen, and a quick interrogation revealed it wasn’t one Shikinami knew about either. It was almost cartoonishly boxy; a stubby, wingless thing with engines set on either side and a large angled cockpit at the front. The canopy was made of darkened glass, making it impossible to see who - or what - was at the controls. It bore insignia; a stylised winged horse above the text Θάνατος από ψηλά. “Death from Above”? Really?

A squad of armed men covered the craft as it settled, and a team of lab techs stood by nearby. With a hiss, a door at the back of the ship opened, and down came… well, some normal-looking human beings. Soryu could hear Greek being spoken, as about ten men and women came out the door. They were clad in full space-suits, though their helmet visors were open. Each carried a weapon, strange-looking pistols, and the suits were armoured. Clearly, they’d been expecting trouble. The one at the front stopped, taking in the half dozen automatic rifles being aimed at their person, and held up a hand. “Αχ, χαιρετισμούς…” he started, then shook his head. “Greetings, on behalf of the Theoua and soi Pegasi. I am Ypolochagós Albert-443 of the Theophanic Imperial Cruiser Το οριστικό επιχείρημα για τη θεότητά τους είναι αυτό το νέο κάστρο της πίστης στον θεό μας; these are my subordinates. We’re here to conduct a survey of the surrounding area in order to better facilitate its defence and the destruction of the enemy Angel.”

The Section 2 team loosened up a little, and one of them held a hand to his earpiece. A second later, he spoke: “Very well. The Commander will see you before then; he has many questions.”

The Ypolochagós waved a hand. “Of course; lead the way.” Soryu remained still as the group of aliens(?) passed, trying to look as though she was busy with other tasks. The Section 3 personnel did some scans, and trooped off themselves, clearly happy with whatever they’d found; that just left her, Shikinami and an open door to an alien VTOL. It was too tempting to pass up; she just had to know what was in there.

Infuriatingly, the other sort-of her had the same idea, heading towards the open door as soon as the last Section 3 nerd was out of sight, and they reached it at the same time. Inside was a little disappointing; it was all machinery, boxy things that Soryu didn’t know the purpose of, though the one labelled “CARGO CONTAINER 2x2x2” was probably some sort of cargo container. There was a ramp leading up to a second deck; Soryu left Shikinami poking at some disc thing on the floor and crept up to find a pretty standard-looking passenger compartment with a door leading forwards, probably towards the cockpit. She was about to open it when a voice came from behind her: “And just what the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?”

She hadn’t expected aliens to talk in an upper-class British lady’s voice. “Just looking around,” she said. “What’s your problem?”

“Urgh, she’s asking what my problem is. Well, you know how quickly we had to print these shuttles out? And to Theophanic measures, to boot? You’re lucky this shuttle’s even airtight. Your “just looking around” could have put you in the middle of a gravity eddy, or a vacuum pocket, or caught up in the autologi system.”

Soryu turned around, coming face-to-face with… a brown-furred, brown-maned vaguely horse-like thing. Right, so there were actual aliens! “I bet you those aren’t even a thing,” she said, choosing to ignore the fact that she was talking to an alien.

One eyebrow raised, the alien produced a ball from somewhere, and threw it at one of the chairs. The ball promptly exploded. Then the chair folded upwards, at a speed that was somewhere between “dangerous” and “lethal”.

“Okay, point made,” Soryu said.

“Oh hey!” an energetic voice called from the ramp, “There really are two of them! Man, am I glad we picked this assignment. Everyone else gonna be so jealous!”

Soryu was quickly herded out of the shuttle, followed by the equine; outside, another equine was bobbing its head slowly, while Shikinami lay sprawled out on the floor. “Hey Tavi,” the new equine said, “This one punched me.”

It doesn’t have bones,” Shikinami groaned. “Why doesn’t it have bones?

“How rude,” “Tavi” remarked. “Just because some of us think bones are a waste of space. And so fragile!”

“Have you ever broken a bone?” the first equine asked. “It’s a major bummer.”

Introductions were made, at length; the two equines were Ponies (or rather, Humans), named Octavia and Vinyl Scratch (or DJ Pon-3, it was unclear). Soryu was not so put out by the fact that both of them claimed to be human that she didn’t notice the double-take the two took when the two Asukas introduced themselves. Nor did she miss the not-so-subtle mutterings about “canon” and “timeline” and “maybe we’re the self-insert OCs, do not steal”. Nonetheless, the two ponies were happy to follow the two Asukas to a more congenial setting for conversation. To whit: the canteen, which was currently serving Germanic staples like sausages and schnitzel alongside a range of sandwiches and other snacks.

“This is just the wurst,” Vinyl said, sitting down and holding a plate of, well, wurst in her hooves. Soryu took a closer look - she was a Bachelor of Science, how could she not - and saw that the plate was, somehow, hovering in place; there was no groove on the hoof, or other such mechanism to hold it up. She had to get the pony into a lab, whatever it took. She could almost see the papers-

“The ends of our hooves are high-friction, and have miniaturised tractor beam emitters.”

“What?” Soryu blinked, and looked up; Octavia looked distinctly unimpressed, somehow.

“We’re not specimens to take apart, you know. We’re people. All you have to do is ask.”

Soryu bit back the sudden burst of fire, clenching a fist and carefully relaxing it. “Fine. So, a tractor beam, huh?”

“Oh, it’s just a simple ring of Nisa-type flexible emitters, powered through bio-energy; they’re not very powerful, but they don’t need to be.” Octavia paused, side-eyeing the other pony who was currently eating a plate of curry and paying no attention at all to the topic at hand. Shikinami, on the other hand, most certainly was.

“Is that how you account for the increased calorific requirements?” she asked, nodding towards the stacked plates brought over from the serving area. “Or do you have an internal battery?”

“Sometimes both. Nisa-type emitters can maintain the position of an object without much energy use - indeed, by diverting energy into netherspace, you might even see a small gain. However, Vinyl and I have… other augmentations.” Octavia paused for a moment. “So, tell me: why are there two of you?”

Urgh. That question. “There’s not two of us, there’s one of me and one of her.”

“Of course. Regardless…?”

Soryu looked helplessly at Shikinami, who shrugged. “I don’t know,” Soryu said, “she doesn’t know, it just happened when the first Angel showed up. I’m fighting for my life, and then the whole world just fucking twists ninety degrees and now there’s another Unit 02 stealing my kill. Are those “augmentations” common in your Theophanic Empire?” If the pony could segue into a question, then so could she.

“Perhaps. But we’re not from the Theophanic Empire, we’re just helping out.” Octavia paused for a second; “We’re from another place, called Endeavour. So, these shifts… how many times have they happened? Have you come across, say, a third version of yourselves, or other Berlins?”

In this slightly artificial manner, information was slowly exchanged. Asuka obtained small snippets of life in Endeavour, ranging from how they’d carefully managed to reverse-engineer the genetic code for the cacao tree from an extremely expired bar of chocolate to how Vinyl had once depressurised an entire spaceborne habitat through playing dubstep. All she’d had to give in exchange were simple numbers; how many Angels she’d killed (three, counting today’s), how many shifts there had been (eight, maybe nine) and that they tended to shift between her version of reality and Shikinami’s fake future. For her part, the fake kept her secrets; outside of her being allegedly from fourteen years in the future, Soryu knew next to nothing about her.

Of course, their time was limited; there were all sorts of checks to do on her Unit 02, and it looked like the fake’s hadn’t seen maintenance in years. So, she finished up her own food, and bade farewell to the two ponies.

The Commander of the Berlin base turned out to be someone who resembled a soi Raubvogel stereotype; a red face, huge muttonchops, and a moustache to make any spacer worth their salt green with envy. He spread his arms wide as the Ypolochagós and his team filed into the cramped command centre of Berlin base, knocking over a decorative pineapple as he did so.

“Ypolochagós!” the man said, his voice booming, “I must say, that ship of yours came at a most opportune moment.”

Albert extended a hand, which was swiftly enclosed in a firm-but-not-too-firm grasp. “Albert-443,” he introduced himself, “Ypolochagós of the Imperial Theophanic Cruiser Theotita. My captain extends his regards, and wishes me to relay his thoughts concerning the defence of this fair city.”

“Splendid! I’m Dietrich von Zeppelin, Commander of this base - for my sins. Forgive me, but… your name has a number?”

“There are only so many names,” Albert explained, “and the Theotita’s crew numbered in the tens of thousands. There has to be some way of differentiating crew with the same name in the heat of battle.”

“A most ingenious solution. Come, then, let us hear your captain’s thoughts.” This was punctuated by a hearty slap on the holo-map table, which caused the display to flicker.

For his part, Albert ignored it, instead placing a mobile ologramma emitter of Theophanic design on the table; it was heavily gilded, which drew Looks from across the room. Mentally, he made a note to keep an eye on it. “While the Theotita remains in position above the city, it will be very difficult for Angels to make an approach. However, the combined weight of our railgun and missile fire will eventually render the local area, at least, uninhabitable - we estimate this will occur after either three more salvoes of anti-ship missiles, or one thousand, six hundred and eight salvoes of railgun fire.”

“So you are to be used sparingly,” Commander von Zeppelin remarked. “Our Unit 02 - plus the extra - are reusable, but of course need to engage in melee combat to be effective. Our gun towers are entirely ineffective, even when we have access to them. These shifts make everything verdammt complicated.”

“Fortunately, the next one should be the last - failing that, the one after. We have special munitions that are able to drag the Angel causing them into reality; there, we should be able to kill it.”

Commander von Zeppelin raised an eyebrow. “This is a common occurrence, in your Empire?”

“Not as such, no.” Albert swiped up a basic informational pamphlet on the Bullshit Defeat Munition. “These are the weapons in question; they are… esoteric in their nature, but the short explanation is that they are capable of making sure reality stays… reality.”

“Most fascinating. Perhaps the question becomes: which reality?”

Albert thought for a second. “The technognostiki think it’ll be the one outside the bubble, ‘cos there’s more reality out there than in here. But we're not sure.” Naturally, that raised another concerned eyebrow, but the good Commander said nothing more.

"Very well. What other methods do we have of defending the city, now your ship is here?" he asked, instead.

“So,” the pony introduced as Vinyl Scratch said, “You gonna eat that?”

Shikinami - who was now the sole Asuka at the table and thus could drop the surname - glanced down at her plate of assorted foods. She’d eaten the meat, and it wasn’t like she actually needed to eat, so she slowly pushed it towards the white marshmallow flesh golem… thing. It - well, she - began eating her fried potatoes, slowly and methodically.

“How’s the eye?” Vinyl asked.

Asuka raised one hand to her eyepatch, idly tracing its outline. She felt nothing. “It’s fine.”

“The Theophanics do a radical line of prosthetics, if you’re looking for a new one.”

“It’s not something that can be “fixed”,” said Asuka. “Especially not with a new eye.”

The pony shrugged, which was a remarkably odd movement on an equine body-plan. “Could totally lick the other problem, but it’s no biggie. The eyepatch look is rad A F.”

Auka carefully did not draw her combat knife and threaten the pony with death if she didn’t keep quiet. “What other problem?” she growled, instead. You could get pretty far with a growl and a propensity towards violence, she’d learned that very early in life - it was how far she could get otherwise that had always been a struggle.

Very far, but perhaps not far enough. The pony didn’t seem fazed in the slightest, but then it was hard to tell behind the purple cartoony sunglasses. “Chillaxe, babe. I’m not gonna go blabbing your secrets to all and sundry - course, if you wanted me to…”

That had to be a bluff, at least in part. She didn’t even know half her own secrets - whatever reality this was didn’t have room for them, it seemed. She felt like she should know them, but attempting to remember anything beyond the very immediate - things like “Eva Pilot, just barely on the good side of 30 and still looking like she was 14, not part of NERV, has an Angel (or corpse thereof) in eye, idiot boy fucks the world up for everyone” - just resulted in a vague feeling of forgetfulness. There was something important that she knew, but didn’t know.

She realised the pony hadn’t spoken in a short while. “What do you want?” she spat.

“To defeat the Angels and save the world. Preferably both.” The pony’s eyes unfocussed. “Speaking of, I gotta dash. Got some more equipment to shuttle down.”

Even with half the crew complement, a Neokastro-class Theophanic cruiser still had more than ten thousand people aboard; among these was about half a division’s worth of marines, normally assigned to the boarding craft, and these were now slowly being shuttled down to the ground to start digging in around NERV Berlin. They weren’t simply infantry, as the word “marines” might imply, but mechanised troops with air, armour and artillery support - as well as a handful of Class-5 warsuits, imposing, flittering things that carried rather a lot of firepower. A few of the local defence force soldiers were a little confused, since they were primarily boarding troops and not planetary assault; it was soon explained to them that the ships being boarded were often the size of small islands in and of themselves, and had ample space for full-scale industrial warfare.

For four days, nothing interrupted the work; trenches and bunkers were dug, energy shields and gun emplacements were emplaced, and a pair of Endeavourite Mobile Construction Vehicles were slowly built from smaller autofabs. Once they were built, a veritable flood of war machines would, well, flood the city. Interestingly, though, the red earth provided very little in the way of feedstock for the autofabs, and environmental analysis showed that nothing could grow if any of it was present in the soil - it seemed to kill the life around it. Naturally, this was some cause for concern, but outside of slowly converting all the red earth into something less toxic, there wasn’t much that could be done about it.

Units 02 were repaired, given new batteries, and even fitted with shiny new weapons from surplus railgun mounts off the Theotita and knives made of literal space-age steel. The pilots even found it in themselves to train together, and - a miracle of miracles - it went well. Then, on the fifth day, things went to hell.

The world shifted, and then cracked, and shifted back; the Theotita’s hull buckled as hundreds of BDM warheads self-armed and detonated, warping reality around them momentarily and then forcing it to self-correct. Everything looked like the taste of limes, and smelt like an alpine view, and then settled; floating high above the city was the Angel, at long last.
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Elheru Aran
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Re: Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Sto

Post by Elheru Aran »

No need to apologize for lateness, mate. Solid post, need to see what happens next now!
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Re: Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Sto

Post by VX-145 »

Chapter 9

“Open fire!” Iochagós Klaus-673 shouted, highlighting an approaching mini-Angel with the target designator slung under his railcannon; his warsuit team followed without hesitation, slinging a remarkably wide mix of ordnance down at the foe. It bounced, of course, even quarter-sized Angel being practically immune to any weapon even a Class-5 warsuit normally carried, but they were joined by the massed rifle fire of several hundred Theophanic marines, and even one of the new big gun emplacements. The Angel, a facsimile of the first (which, Klaus vaguely recalled, was actually the third?) staggered, but its aspis held firm, and the two next to it proceeded without pause. He briefly considered asking for support, but the whole damn line was engaged; where had they even come from?

One of the Angels’ eyes flashed, and light splashed against the aspis the Endeavourites had set up, a cross of fire deflected skywards. He didn’t know if it would still hold if the Angels managed to get close, but for now it was giving them some sort of advantage. It was a little comforting to know he was at least fighting something like a normal war machine, not like the stories he’d heard about what the Angels could do when they really put their mind to it. If they just kept their fire concentrated on one, maybe its aspis would break; even now, the first of the Endeavourite semi-autonomous tanks were rolling out of the strange factories they’d set up. They were big, perhaps twice the size of one of the marine tanks trundling about Klaus’ feet, with two guns and four individual track pods. One of them headed his direction, and added its guns to the fusilade. They weren’t enough to break the Angel’s aspis, but more would be coming, and maybe even the red anti-Angel warsuits.

The only question was, why wasn’t the Theotita firing?

soi Pegasi groaned, and forced his eyes open. The bridge was intact, which was a good start, though he expected that whatever had happened was going to be expensive. “Damage report,” he slurred, pushing himself upwards. A medic was checking him over, and he resisted the urge to bat them aside as they shone a light in his eye.

“No concussion,” they said.

“Not me, the ship!” Theoua damn it, why had he let Agrippina go off on her own? Second officers were a pain to find.

Ypaxiomatikós Alexi was currently leaning over one of the consoles, but turned after a moment. “We don’t know the full extent of the damage, but it seems the BDM warheads detonated in their tubes. We still have power, but we’ve suffered extensive surface damage and all engines are out. The areas around missile batteries one-oh-one through one-twenty-two are twisted; structural integrity in those areas is compromised. Battery ninety and twenty metres surrounding it are now made of cheese, battery one-thirty is invisible, and all we’re getting from battery one-forty-five is that it’s plaid.”


“Yes, sir, plaid.”

Well, the Theotita had crew for a reason. Whatever “plaid” meant was their problem. “And the enemy?” soi Pegasi moved on.

“We’ve detected nine sets of enemy emissions; eight on the surface and one above us. The ones on the surface seem a lot weaker than any Angel we’ve seen so far - our marines are keeping them at bay for now.”

“And the last one?” soi Pegasi wasn’t a fool. He knew which one was likely to be the mastermind, or whatever the word would be for the one behind all this.

“It’s reading weirdly, sir. One minute it’s stronger than anything we’ve seen, next it’s nothing, then it reads as an error.”

soi Pegasi nodded. “Have any railgun battery that can bear focus on the main Angel,” he ordered. “The rest, distribute between the Angels on the ground. And have our reserve warsuits prepare to engage at close quarters with that one. I have a feeling we’ll need to be up close and personal.”

Soryu launched into utter chaos, a storm of shellfire and radio chatter as the aliens held nine small Angels at bay with energy shielding and sheer firepower. She fumbled through the settings until she found the options for noise cancelling and radio restriction; even then, she could feel the reverberation of heavy artillery through the soles of Unit 02’s feet. A tank trundled past, firing as it moved, and Soryu took a brief moment to survey the situation. The western side was most in danger, a pair of mini-Angels using destroyed, red buildings as cover. She drew her knives, and strode forth, the defenders parting neatly to let her through. Another mecha, about half the size of her Unit 02, followed in her wake.

Without breaking stride, she shattered the AT Field of the closest Angel, and slammed into it at full speed. It couldn’t raise its arms to defend itself, and she cracked its bird-skull mask with a single blow; her second found its core, and it died. The second was locked in combat with her follower, unable to land a hit on the smaller mecha as it dodged and weaved through the terrain. It, too, was the work of a moment to deal with… but then there were three more.

That could be a problem.

Lochías Paul-3122 strode out of the dorsal airlock, railgun at the ready; six other Class-5 warsuits flanked him. He deftly avoided the spots on the hull that weren’t quite structurally sound (one of which being a chocolate fondue machine) to his assigned position, and tried to locate the target; it was floating in the air about two hundred metres up, but his display wouldn’t show it. He thumped the side, trying to clear whatever glitch was causing the problem, but it persisted. Frustrated, he popped the hatch - not strictly normal procedure, but an old trick - stood up, and caught a glimpse of the Angel.

It was only for a second, before he managed to screw his eyes shut, but he saw his own face reflected back upon him ten thousand times ten thousand times, each subtly different until the changes were such that he could only recognise himself through the fact that it was himself, each face nestled inside itself like one of those dolls his mother had once shown him a picture of, only she hadn’t, and sometimes the dolls weren’t able to fit inside the larger, but were instead themselves the larger, and then he closed his eyes. Carefully, he lowered himself back down and closed the hatch.

“Don’t look at it directly,” he said, trying not to notice how his voice wavered. He took a deep breath. The Angel was practically ignoring all the fire sent its way - or at least, it wasn’t dead yet. What was the plan? One of the red warsuits was supposed to be joining them, but it hadn’t yet; he didn’t have access to the higher command channels, but from what little he could tell the ground front still wasn’t stable. At least it didn’t seem to have any weapons of its own, and it didn’t seem inclined to summon in more Ramiel-types.

Of course, he just had to think that; the moment he did, one appeared between the Theotita and the Angel. The few railgun batteries remaining on the dorsal surface - some hundred or so total barrels - switched to fire at it, blanketing its blue pseudo-skin in fire. In response, the sub-Angel shot back with its energy weapon, catching the Theotita directly amidships, about a kilometre away from Paul and his squad. The whole ship shuddered for a moment, but the guns kept firing and the ship was still floating, so it couldn’t have done too much damage.

Still, they were stuck here, and at the mercy of the sub-Angel to boot…

There was no end to the mini-Angels. Shikinami must have killed a dozen by now, enough that one of her new knives had actually broken. They weren’t a challenge, but they were bogging her and Soryu down, and the main Angel was doing something, she just knew it. The Theophanic marines were picking up a lot of the slack, and those strange automatic factories were churning out enough tanks to keep the line stable even when the mini-Angel numbers doubled, but there was already a new type of sub-Angel in the sky.

Whirling around, she caught yet another mini-Angel in the bird-mask, and slammed her knife down into its core. Another one took its place, and she killed that as quickly; massed fire from the fortress-Berlin took care of its companion. This was getting them nowhere.

A voice came over the long-range radio: “Asuka?” That was Misato, but she’d been on the other side of the planet last time they’d spoken.

“Misato? What are you doing here?”

“...I don’t know, I think we were looking for you, and then there was this… change. What’s your status? Where are you?”

“Berlin,” Shikinami answered. “We’re having trouble with an Angel.” She knifed another mini-Angel, nearly unconsciously, and had to close her eyes for a second as the big Ramiel-type sub-Angel fired its main weapon again. “I could really use a hand, if Four-Eyes is spare.”

“I think we can do better than that. Hang tight, we’re on the way.”

“Unidentified craft approaching from starboard!” Alexi called out.

Theoua fucking damn it, as if they didn’t have enough shit to be dealing with. The Theotita had shrugged off two shots from the Ramiel-type Angel’s main beam so far, but it couldn’t keep doing so indefinitely; already, the dorsal armour was at 30% thickness in the hit areas. “Retarget our starboard guns! How long until we have anti-ship missiles?” soi Pegasi demanded.

“Still another ten minutes!” Alexi paused, crouching by one of the bridge crew. “Incoming hail from the unknown!”

“Put it through.” A friendly, hopefully. The little video screen in soi Pegasi’s desk changed to show a video of a stern-looking woman, most of her face hidden behind her hat and glasses.

“I’m Captain Katsuragi, of the WILLE ship AAA Wunder. We’re carrying a-” she broke off, looking to the side, “Make that two, Evangelion units. Where do you need them?”

Well, that was a lucky break. “We’re holding the line, but we need the main Angel killed as soon as possible.” Something tickled at the back of his mind, the exact sort of thought that you couldn’t ignore when Bullshit Defeat Munitions were involved. “We have warheads that need to be delivered to the Angel along with an Evangelion.” How to get them there, though; he’d ordered all of the remaining BDM warheads re-loaded for anti-ship warheads. Except, that hadn’t been accomplished yet. “If you take up station above the Angel, we can launch our warheads up to you. All you need to do then, is drop them and your Evangelion units on the Angel.” It was a mad plan, but the easiest he could think of at the moment.

There was silence on the other end for a moment; Katsuragi looked around at her bridge. Then: “...I like it. We’ll be in position shortly.”

“Never thought I’d be going into battle with you, Type 6. You gonna hold up okay?”

Rei ignored the words from her ally. She had her orders, she would follow them. Only, there was this odd sensation in her head, and it wouldn’t go away. She could ignore it, would ignore it when the operation started, but something about it made her think it was important.

“Whatever. Ignore me if you want. We’re coming up on the drop zone; bet you wish you still had that flight pack, huh?”

What did that mean? The flight pack had been expended, out of fuel. If she had retained it, it would simply weigh her down. What had she expended it on, though? That feeling got a little stronger, so she tried to think about the operation instead. Unit 08a, Pilot Illustrious’ unit, and her own Mark 09, were to drop from the Wunder, catch a missile launched by a heretofore-unknown aerial battleship, and plunge it into the heart of a likewise unknown Angel. She had some aerial combat training, so the operation had a slightly higher chance of success than otherwise.

“Unit 08, Mark 09, DROP!”

She fell, her eyes darting about looking for the missile she was to catch. There was an Angel below her, which she’d been warned not to look at until she was on final approach, and a sub-Angel below that which was being engaged by the fortress on the ground and the Wunder. Where was the other aerial battleship? Then she saw it - plumes of white smoke, coming from the side of the fortress, which wasn’t on the ground but was in fact the battleship she’d been looking for. It was immense; a bit longer than the Wunder but thicker-built.

A missile, as large as her Mark 09, approached, slowing down as it got close. She grabbed onto it, shaking off the sudden feeling she knew exactly what was about to happen, and held on tight as it tipped over. The Angel came into view, and for a microsecond she almost felt like she was connected to herselves, before the feeling suddenly stopped and was replaced by a gigantic push from behind. Crossing the distance between her and the Angel took less than a second, and she saw layer upon layer of wheels spinning through each other and fell through strange patterns, and then the warhead “detonated”.

A Bullshit Defeat Munition does not detonate in the conventional sense. It simply activates, and imposes a specific version of reality upon the space within its field of effect. This version of reality was quite specific, dreamed up by the long-gone people who had made the first BDM, and about as close as one could get to a human’s perception of reality under normal conditions while still being wrong in every conceivable way. After all, the first group of people to make a BDM had wiped themselves and their very narrative from existence through abuse of meta-narrative weapons, and had been pretty obsessed with calculating how much energy it took to vaporise spherical masses of iron to boot. The only reason the BDM survived to this day was because it was one of those meta-narrative weapons - indeed, had been meant as the ultimate in that vein, but deployed too late to save its creators. The BDM also had a tendency to “glitch” reality for a planck second before imposing that specific reality-state; this was the cause of plaid, and cheese, and so on.

Rei was imparted this knowledge in the moment of the warhead’s detonation. It seemed important, but less important than the fact that the Angel was now a humanoid-formed thing to which the term “boring” somehow applied. She didn’t even know what that word meant. It, along with Rei and Unit 08a, fell towards the blue octahedral sub-Angel that had been guarding it; somehow, Rei knew they’d only have a few moments to finish the Angel off, so she dove closer to it and drew a knife. With unspoken co-ordination, Illustrious in her Evangelion did the same.

The Angel lashed out with energy beams and its arms, nearly catching Rei, but failing to keep either Evangelion at bay. Rei grabbed its arm, pulling it close, as Unit 08a grabbed its legs. The core was in sight, right in the centre of its chest (which, again, was somehow “boring”). Rei lashed out with her knife, catching it once, twice.

The core cracked, and-
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Re: Concerning the Adventures of the ESS Katerina Claes and the Theophanic Cruiser Theotita (STGOD 20 Non-Canon Side Sto

Post by VX-145 »

Chapter 10

Reality staggered for a moment. It was reasonably sure that a moment ago it couldn’t do things like “stagger”, or “narrate”, but that was then and this was now. It twirled, unsteady, and fell over into empty space. It felt sick, and tried to throw up, spattering nothing onto the pavement of unreality. It had a hankering for a kebab, or maybe a sausage in a bun. There was a knot somewhere inside it, where possible met definite met impossible met should-be-but-didn’t.

It lay on the curb, feeling sorry for itself. What had it ever done to deserve this?

“Code 145! We got a code 145 over here!” Deep in the bowels - well, really, actually quite shallow in the bowels - of another metaphysical manifestation of all of reality, shit was going sideways. Literally. But enough about the plumbing problems that had been plaguing the place for months, and more about the Code 145 that even now was attracting workers from across the tower.

“What’s a 145?” Mort, one of the Employees in that place, asked, barely having had time to collect his Standard Issue No.1 Duct Tape and No.3 Wrench from his bunk.

“Sudden manifestation of self-awareness followed by hangover and stomach problems brought on by a concept-altering weapon interacting with an Infinite Assassin cascade,” his Senior said. “It’s one of those real specific ones.”

“Oh, like a 19, or a 3312, or a-”

“Yes, yes, Code 69. Real funny. Just look at me laughing my butt off.”

“We’ve been travelling upwards for a while, which level we goin’ to?”

Zonker, Mort’s companion, checked their clipboard. “3,297.”

The two shared a Look, Grade 6: Knowing It Is Bad News, But In Denial. “...tell me it ain’t Earth,” Mort ventured.

The clipboard was duly checked, and re-checked. “It is,” said the Zonker.

“Flarg,” muttered Mort.

“Flarg,” agreed Zonker.

They emerged from the elevator to chaos, ‘ployees running from here to there like headless chickens, which some of them actually were. Code 145s were Like That, but then so were most of the Codes in the Book of Codes. Similarly, they were almost all fixable with liberal application of No.1 Duct Tape and a No.3 Wrench, supposing one could get close enough to actually do the application part of that sentence. The problem with a 145 was that the room in which the 145 had happened was now filled with Nothing, which was a lot worse than it being filled with anything else.

Somehow, Mort and Zonker managed to find themselves at the front of the push of employees trying to get into the room, probably because they were the only two actually trying to get in, as opposed to simply looking like they were trying. Normally, they’d have given it more than a token effort, but Earth had recently developed a reputation for being… Difficult. Especially with the new iterations running in its home Sector, most of which were rough to deal with at the best of times. Just last week, Mort and Zonker had had to fix some strange issue where one of the iterations was lagging behind itself, which… come to think of it, might have actually been a warning sign for this particular blow-up.

“Alright, so here’s how we’re gonna play it,” said Zonker. “I’ll tie a rope to you, you go in, and if it goes badly I’ll pull you out. Sound good?”

“Fine, but you owe me. Two rounds at the Tavern.” Mort said, a deal which the Senior promptly agreed to in the time-honoured way of nodding but not actually writing anything down. “Nothing for it,” muttered Mort, and he pushed his way into the Nothing.

Zonker waited with not-quite bated breath for five, then ten minutes. The rope he held went untugged, but after the fifteenth minute he was almost about to reel it in anyway, when the rope went slack, and Mort emerged, battered, covered in tartare sauce, and carrying a tureen of chips. Slowly, the Nothing behind him receded. The Employees surged forwards, carrying away the precious evidence before anyone could spoil it, leaving the two alone.

“What was it like in there?” Zonker asked.

Mort’s eyes were wide. “Have you ever had one of those dreams where you think about something and it happens, only you’ve somehow angered the dream gods so it’s slightly different, and there’s something chasing you but you get rid of it with a thought and then it’s chasing you again and the cycle continues until you wake up, but you haven’t actually woken up and you’re in another dream, and you get up and go to work and it’s only halfway through the day when you realise you’re dreaming, and then you wake up for real and try to exercise the control you had in the dream but you can’t because it’s reality?”


“Well, it was like that.” Mort brightened up. “Come on, you owe me three rounds.”

“I thought it was two?” Zonker asked.

“It’s three.”

Rei hit the hull of the alien battleship in her Mark 09, followed shortly by Unit 08a, which landed on top of her. She had the weirdest feeling, like she’d somehow broken one of reality’s pipes and caused a massive industrial accident, which was doubly weird because she could actually put a name to it. A few huge armoured soldiers were approaching, hopefully to recover both Eva units. She pushed Unit 08a off her, and rolled into a crouch.

With a thought, the plug retracted, and she looked around; the ship had suffered extensive damage, including a pretty big hole not too far from where they’d landed, but it looked like it was under control. There was no large, blood-soaked moon in the sky, and there never had been.

“Χαίρετε, πιλότος Ayanami!” one of the soldiers called out, then they banged the side of their helmet. “Apologies, my translator glitched - Hail and well met. We’re here to recover you - if you stay there, one of us will be up shortly…”

Flames spilled out around the wreckage of the Jet Alone robot, onlookers gazing aghast. Or, at least, those onlookers who had, until just now, been about to make a lot of money off the machine were looking on aghastly, most of the audience either didn’t care or were actively cheering its downfall. Only part of that was because the company who made it had taken a very… aggressive approach to labour management and public relations. Mostly, they were cheering because it had been brought down by a young lady in a very frilly pink dress, who hadn’t even had to take a single step.

One executive was particularly livid, fists clenched into balls as he glared at the alien who’d caused all this. “That-” he spluttered, “You - that was a trillion-dollar machine! How are you going to pay for this?”

“You were the one who asked for a challenger,” Captain Carver replied, tail lazily flicking from one side to another. “Besides, it was obsolete. Seriously, you didn’t even give it any weapons? Or-” There was a great rush of something, as though a bubble somewhere had just burst. Victoria looked off into the distance for a moment. “Oh. Shit. Right, I gotta go, you have fun cleaning up here.”

“Where do you think-” was all the executive managed to get out before Victoria left the room. A shuttle was already waiting for her at the door out of the control bunker, engines lit and stirring up dust; Akari was climbing aboard, her Magical Girl suit reverting to a more civilian form.

“So, think we can take NERV without it being a clusterfuck?” Victoria asked nonchalant, sitting down in the seat opposite the erstwhile Magical Girl. Messages flooded her HUD; status reports, requests for information, and a fair few just spamming “LET’S GO” emotes.

“Easily,” Akari replied. “So long as Gendo doesn’t escape. Are we finally kicking things off?”

Victoria answered a few messages. “Depends on if WILLE or the Theotita decide to go loud; I’d say it’s more than likely. I’ll have you and the rest of your team on pursuit duty. Make sure you get him, will you?”

“Of course.”

The great bulk of the Claes hove into view as they circled around a mountain. She still bore a few marks from her last battle, but they were merely marks, not wounds. A much smaller ship floated beside her, the first of the new Ion Cannon Frigates. It was a long, thin beast, with four large panels radiating from a central body; those served multiple purposes, including heat dissipation and solar energy collection, but were really just there for the aesthetics. The crew had been hand-picked by various Endeavourite spacers, who had mostly just pointed at random people on the street and asked them if they wanted to crew a space warship. Some objections had been raised from various stuffy military professionals, and ignored. What were they going to do, shoot at the ship they wanted?

A second, this one built by NERV themselves, was currently being fitted out in the Geo-Front. It had no weapon, the positron cannon earmarked for it not being completed yet, but the rest of the systems were in place. More were in various stages of construction across the planet and in the rapidly-growing autoshipyards in Martian orbit - along with a few fabricator ships intended to relieve the suffering of Earth’s population.

Victoria had barely strode onto the bridge of the Claes before issuing an order: “Put me through to the Theotita.”

The connection took less than a second, Theophanic and Endeavourite communications systems long since adapted to one another, and the face of soi Pegasi soon filled the screen. “Captain! As you can see, we have vanquished the foe, with the timely assistance of the local anti-Angel forces, I should add.”

“Yes, congratulations.” Victoria mentally face-palmed. She’d said that without thinking. “I suppose that has something to do with the sudden rush of knowing things that I knew all along but had been forced to never know?”

soi Pegasi’s face broke out into a wide smile. “You got it in one. The Angel made everyone outside the area forget about what was inside it, and vice versa. My technognostiki are trying to pin-point when, exactly, it turned up; so far they’ve narrowed it down to “about when the Fourth Angel showed up.” The two Fifths were its doing, as well.”

“Of course they were.” Victoria sighed, time to get this whole mess over with. “So, who exactly helped you out? I’m getting conflicting reports - Soryu or Shikinami?”

soi Pegasi’s smile widened. “Both. And more.”

“Fuck.” She knew exactly what that meant. “And I don’t suppose they’re willing to talk?”

“I’ll have Frater Beckett patch us in.”

Misato Katsuragi (the NERV one) was on edge. Something about the way the aliens had been acting today was off-putting; they didn’t normally look like they were ready for a fight to break out at any time, but today… Well, the one assigned as Shinji’s sort-of bodyguard had spent the entire day carrying around a gun about the size of Misato’s arm - and the one Rei had following her around, the big “dreadnought”, had disappeared during today’s sync test and had yet to re-appear. Instead, one of the pseudo-Equines had taken up that station. How exactly it intended to fire the rifle slung across its back, Misato neither knew nor wanted to know.

Another oddity was the way in which the Endeavourite alien Captain had texted her, asking to come over for dinner. There was no reason to refuse, but… she hadn’t given any of the aliens her phone number. Hell, she’d only recently given Shinji her phone number! And it was her turn to cook today, too! Still, there were a lot of questions she had to ask them, and it’d help to get to know them better. They’d fought three battles back-to-back with Misato barely knowing her opposite number’s name.

So it was that the evening came, and with it a distinct stench of instant curry and ramen cups, and the sound of her apartment’s doorbell. She managed to get ahead of Shinji to open the door - the kid was in one of those “eager to please” moods he got - and opened it to… Rei? And also Rei. And then the Endeavour Captain, a European-looking lady with cat ears and a tail.

“Victoria Carver,” the Endeavour Captain introduced herself. “This is Spacer Ayanami. We picked Rei up on the way over,” the catgirl said, “I hope you don’t mind. She could do with a hot meal once in a while.” The hell did that mean? Didn’t she eat at NERV - and wasn’t she the Commander’s ward, anyway?

Whatever. Misato shook it off, and put on her smile. “It’s okay, come on in!” The usual rituals were observed - shoes off, apologies for the disturbance, and so on - and then they were around Misato’s dining table, which was way, way too small to fit all five of them.

There was an awkward pause. “Did they ever make any new Star Wars films in this timeline?” Victoria asked, to which Misato shook her head.

“Last one was Return of the Jedi,” she said. “You know, the one with the teddy bears?”

“Alright, you’ve got a TV, let’s sit there.”

Several hours later, she’d been introduced to Jar Jar Binks and was beginning to vaguely appreciate Second Impact. The rest of the film had been… odd, not too bad, but perhaps not quite what she’d expected from the first part of a Darth Vader origin story.

Shinji cleared up as usual, looking rather surprised at the Endeavourites’ empty plates (Rei’s - the NERV one - was half-eaten; there had been no meat in it, but there were some things even she couldn’t stoic her way through*), and Misato noticed the Endeavour Rei nudging her earthling counterpart come help with the washing up, leaving her alone with Victoria.

“So,” Victoria began, “You know how we’re from an alternate timeline where none of you existed?”

“...Yes?” That was an opener and a half.

“How would you react if I told you another alternate timeline had intersected with ours, and now there’s a version of you running around who’s fourteen years older and with one heck of a grudge against NERV?”

Misato blinked, slowly. “What happened?”

“Remember how two Angels turned up at the same time last battle?” Misato nodded, and Victoria continued: “We traced that to an Angel making an area of Europe entirely incomprehensible. It was creating Angels - or dragging them in from other timelines, we’re not sure - and slowly wearing down NERV Berlin to prepare for an assault on Tokyo-3. It was also swapping between timelines for an as yet unknown reason; one of those…”

“Was one where I’m fourteen years older,” Misato finished.

Victoria clicked her fingers and gave a thumbs-up. “Precisely.”

“Okay.” Misato leant back on the couch. “Do we have time for the next film?”

“You’re taking it well,” said Victoria.

“The other me’s not planning on starting Third Impact, or becoming an Angel and attacking Tokyo-3, right?”

Victoria’s tail flicked. “I can categorically state that initiating Third Impact is the very last thing she would do. Nor would she become an Angel.”

“Then it’s not my problem right now.” Misato leaned forwards, cracked open the DVD case marked Attack of the Clones, and slid the disc into the player. She also very carefully ignored how Victoria had talked around the "attacking Tokyo-3" part of her question. That would be tomorrow's problem. “Are we doing this?”

“The scenario requires adjustment.”

Gendo was not a man given to witticisms, but even he was tempted to reply with something along the lines of “no shit, Sherlock”. Even now, that would get him killed, so he ignored the unfamiliar feeling, instead saying: “NERV will soon be unable to fulfil its role. The mantle of Angel-slayers has already passed to the aliens, and they are beginning to ask questions that I am finding it difficult to deflect.” The last part was a lie; he knew they knew what he was up to, and he was reasonably sure that they knew he knew - and going any further down that line of thinking would lead to recursion. Still, no questions had been asked, but a lot of pointed comments had been made.

“Your failure to contain the alien presence is a different matter. What are we to do about these duplicates? If the information from NERV-B is correct, they know our plans!” After this long, Gendo didn’t bother keeping track of who was talking unless it was Keel himself - rich, powerful old men tended to blur into one another. This particular example of the breed was the one in the red-highlighted seat, directly on Gendo’s left. He didn’t bother responding to the obvious bait, instead remaining silent to see if anyone would come up with a plan.

“The time is nigh for drastic action,” Keel spoke up, as the pause stretched into awkwardness. “One of our backup scenarios has a provision that we will use; we shall bathe the affected area in nuclear fire, and put paid to that problem, and the larger alien ship, in one stroke. As for the other aliens, I am sure their ship cannot withstand our full stock of N2 warheads. If that fails, we have the Arks to fall back upon. Begin preparing the groundwork.”

The other members broke out into their normal display of shock, but for once Gendo almost saw the wisdom in this plan. It was foolishness to break out into open warfare so soon, rather than keeping the conflict in the shadows, but if it should work… well, it would restore things to how they should be.

“Am I excused?” he asked.

“Leave us,” Keel ordered, and the holographic projections of the other members faded. Fuyutsuki was waiting outside, and began talking about some minor project or other. Gendo cut him off.

“Have Section 2 prepare for an armed incursion,” he ordered, “The Old Men are on the verge of acting rash.”

*The Endeavourites had not only cleaned their plates, but actually asked for seconds. After a lifetime drinking Endeavourite Coffee, burnt, badly-mixed instant food barely even registered.
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