Neon Genesis Alcion
Chapter 1: The Giants of Berlin-II
With a hiss and a crack, the jet's door opened out into the morning breeze, a rush of cool air entering the jet's cabin. A garnet heel stepped down onto the boarding ramp, and then another, complimented by a candy apple sundress that fluttered tenderly in the wind. Crisp cobalt eyes narrowed as they peered about the runway, before being drawn to the sight of the rising sun. It crested over the tremendous skyscrapers to the East, which silhouetted against the horizon like towering mythical beings. The Giants of Berlin-II.
Thin lips spread into a smile at the familiar image as she stepped off the ramp, the wind gracing her pale skin and sending a shiver up her back. Shoulder-length sunflower blonde hair blew in the breeze, tickling her neck and freckled cheeks. Taking in a deep breath, she sighed contently to herself.
The purse by her side vibrated. Her smile faded as she sighed again, a note of frustration in it.
"Same old, same old, huh?" asked a male voice from behind, its tone silky smooth and yet powerful enough to send its own chill up the girl's spine.
With a glance back towards the jet, she nodded as her hand brushed her windswept hair from her face, revealing a cheerful smile even as her handbag continued to vibrate.
"It's just like how I remember it, Mr Kaji! A liiiiittle chillier than I'd like personally, but it's home."
"Well then, let's get you two reacquainted. You think Berlin-II missed you as much as you missed it, Asuka?"
Her heart fluttered as she heard him speak, but his question made her bite her lip, because the answer was…complicated. Everything was complicated for Asuka Langley Soryu. Everything.
A week had been set aside for the pair to settle down after their move but ever eager, Asuka jumped at the opportunity to go back to school. The night before her first day, Asuka spent hours running through a regiment of facial cleaners, blackhead removers, lotions, the whole works. The razor was most assuredly not the friend of any German girl, but she shrugged it off. No matter how tired she felt or how late she stayed up prepping herself, she was determined to look the best she possibly could when she saw her classmates for the first time in over a year. If she was anything but spotless…what would they think? She had to keep up appearances because Asuka knew as soon as she set foot in that school, all eyes would be on her.
At last she was nearing the end, but that was not an excuse to skimp out or deliver anything less than perfect. A dumpy school uniform just would not do her justice, with its sterile look that blended in with everyone else. What could she add that would catch the eye? Reaching into her bag, Asuka picked through it until she found exactly what she wanted: a bottle of Revlon Roulette Rush polish. With a steady, deliberate hand she applied it to each nail. With each one done, Asuka felt a sense of elation. And yet, even as she looked over herself as she let her work dry…something was missing.
She couldn't wrap her mind around it, and it was beginning to frustrate her. What was she missing? She looked around her room, still messy and riddled with half-open boxes from the move, for inspiration. Her gaze went to her phone, but at the thought of actually unlocking it and seeing the flood of ignored notifications, she continued to search.
That's when she spotted it, sitting there on the nightstand as if beckoning to her: a headband, otherwise unremarkable save for two small rounded crimson and white horns that protruded from it. Asuka had received it during her time in America, courtesy of the training she had been doing there. Normally something so dorky would put her off, but the longer she looked at it, the more it dared her to incorporate it into her look.
Picking it up, Asuka then opened one of the boxes and dumped its contents out onto the already crowded bed. The girl flipped through each one, skimming through them. Surely something here would work…
Asuka studied the glossy magazine page, before attempting to copy what she saw. The result pulled her hair back, letting it fall further back behind her head down to the nape of her neck while keeping her bangs in place. It complimented her heart-shaped face, but most importantly, it covered up much of the headband, leaving the horns poking out towards the back of her head. Almost like devil-horns, perhaps?
Now this was a look Asuka could get behind. Cute but mischievous was exactly what she saw herself as. Even in her increasingly tired state, she smiled. If this didn't make them do a double take, well…clearly the problem is with them.
As she prepared to head to bed, Asuka paused, before looking back to her phone. She would have to check it. She had been putting it off since she touched down with Mr Kaji, but even she knew she couldn't avoid all the notifications forever. With great reluctance, she unlocked her phone and opened the Supergram app.
The first thing her weary eyes were met with was her own face in a video preview. It seemed the little update video she made on the plane ride back had blown up, just as she was hoping. The views were tremendous, and the comments similarly numerous. Not that she cared about the comments. She never read any of them anyways. The only thing that was keeping her attention wasn't the typed responses from her viewers, but the now playing video.
Asuka cringed. She wore her biggest smile in the video, but she could just see how tired she looked in the video due to being crammed in a jet for hours on end. How did no one else see that she seemed so forced in the video? What idiots. She opened the dreaded "Messages" tab, spotted one at the very top with a subject line reading "hey" and then immediately proceeded to delete the entire message stack without batting an eye.
Setting her phone down, Asuka slipped under whatever she could of the covers and closed her eyes. Beauty sleep is super important, so she best not waste any more time, lest she come out looking as miserable as she did in the video. That would just be the worst.
With a confident strut, Asuka set her first footstep onto school ground, and then another, and another. Her gait was fast but impactful as her plain black shoes hit the ground. A pewter grey high-waisted skirt hung down to her knees, each step kicking it upwards as though fighting back against its conservative coverage. Asuka carried in her hand a student's briefcase, slung over her shoulder without care. The whiteness of her long-sleeved white blouse was accented with a rich carmine silk bow, while the sleeves were rolled up to just above the elbow, exposing her pale skin. The breeze blew just enough to give a flowing motion to her hair that only served to further her dramatic entrance onto campus, Marina and the Diamonds playing on her earbuds as the soundtrack to her coming.
"Got a figure like a pin-up, got a figure like a doll
Don't care if you think I'm dumb, I don't care at all
Candy bear, sweetie pie, wanna be adored
I'm the girl you'd die for"
A group of boys were busy discussing their plans for after school involving a newly released MOBA video game when one of them spotted the approaching Asuka, going quiet as he took in every part of her. His friends noticed and followed his gaze to her, and they too went quiet.
"I'll chew you up and I'll spit you out
'Cause that's what young love is all about
So pull me closer and kiss me hard
I'm gonna pop your bubblegum heart"
Pausing her music, Asuka popped an earbud out and smiled at them.
"Heyyyyy Johannes," she asked, voice almost a purr as she bit her lip. "Whatcha talkin' about?"
The closest boy fumbled his words as her eyes zeroed in on him.
"Oh, uh, hey Langley. Me and my bros were just talking about our plans for tonight. New Century Skyhawk drops tonight and we all got preorders, so we're gonna go screw around in it and see how everything works."
"Oh, I've got that on preorder too! Maybe I'll join you boys later. My gamertag's 'xxKATE_ROSExx' and I'm preeeetty much always online whenever I have free time. Besides, I've got a new rig that I've just been iiiitching to try out."
All of them looked at each other and quickly smiled and snickered with one another, one boy whispering to his friend "Duuude we gonna have a sexy chick on our team!"
"Oh? Who is she?" asked Asuka, tilting her head, causing him to go quiet upon realizing she was asking him.
"Well, I'll keep my eye out for her then. Now, I've got to get going, but don't get toooooo distracted now. We don't waaaant anyone to be off thinking about something he shouldn't in class, now do weee?"
She spun around and took off, every boy in the group watching her from behind and a few still thinking too hard about her last comment. She could feel them watching, and she tingled with satisfaction. She wasn't even sure if that guy's name was actually Johannes, but frankly she didn't care to know what his name was. Or anyone else's for that matter. Every glance, every probing gaze, was a thrill. Girls, boys, nerds, jocks, preps, all of them were fodder for her hunger for attention. Replacing her earbud, she hit play.
"I'm Miss Sugar Pink, liquor, liquor lips
Hit me with your sweet love, steal me with a kiss
I'm Miss Sugar Pink, liquor, liquor lips
I'm gonna be your bubblegum bitch
I'm gonna be your bubblegum bitch"
The walk to class was just the preview. True to her expectations, many a student swarmed Asuka, abuzz with questions and comments such as "How was your trip?" or "Yo girl you still single?" or "Hey when are we gonna see it, Langley?!" and no doubt many more she barely registered. She simply smiled and waved to her entourage. When one of the track girls offered to take a selfie with her, Asuka gladly obliged, taking her phone and grinning at it as she took a picture with the girl.
"Hey Langley, what are those on your head" asked one boy.
Asuka tapped on the horns coming from the back of her head after she returned the girl's phone.
"Ohhh, theeeese? I got these from NERV's American branch! They're super cute, right? I use them for interfacing with my baby! Soooo nice of NERV to let me take them out of the lab!"
The students were all suitably impressed and would have continued to barrage Asuka with remarks had the bell not rang to signal homeroom. As the crowd dispersed, Asuka waved a dramatic farewell to them with a gleeful laugh. For all the work she spent the previous night and this morning getting ready, Asuka was content with the fruits of her labor.
The rest of the school day was spent in a euphoric high as she heard her name being mentioned all about school in a variety of situations. The geeks speculated about how her horns worked. The jocks were devising plans and bets for who could get a successful date with her. The popular girls were busy talking trash about her only a table away from Asuka at lunch time. Asuka's response was to flick a bit of tomato at one of them, the thing becoming stuck in one girl's hair without her notice, which forced Asuka to snicker quietly.
Once her silent chuckling was done, she looked down at her lunch tray, a smile on her face. Gone a year and yet time had only served to strengthen Asuka's stardom. Her Supergram page was on fire. Her classmates adored and hated her all at once. Everyone was talking about her. This was it. This was the life.
And she was already feeling tired of it. No, of course she wasn't! She just had her fill of the noise and bustle for the day, and she was ready to go home. The only problem was that there were still three hours of school left. Three hours of more laughs, flirtatious comments and selfies. God dammit.
The final bell rang out, signaling the end of the school day. Asuka departed the building with briefcase in hand, still maintaining her energetic walk and smile until she was certain she was out of view of any other students. Without hesitation, her hands searched for the ribbon around her neck, which by this point was on the verge of causing her to go mad.
Before she could remove the damned thing, out of the corner of her vision she spotted someone leaving campus as well. A guy, tall and lanky with a wine coloured track jacket on. He was nothing to write home about in the looks department, but in the annoyances department, Asuka was writing pages. Did he live down this same way? Great. Wonderful. Joyous. Fuck. Couldn't she at least have the walk back home to herself? Her and Mr Kaji's apartment was a good long walk away from here…
Suddenly, Asuka's complaining about the blandness of her clothes had been flipped on its head somewhat. Had the girl worn heels to school, her feet would be killing her by now with how she had been walking. And now Asuka was going to have to walk for even longer like that. The thought of her offering a sincere apology to her dorky black shoes was enough to get a chuckle out of the tired girl.
Well, there was no point to putting it off. Asuka resumed her walk, but not wishing to think of how long the coming walk was going to be, she looked around at the colossal majesties that made up this part of Berlin-II. The towers of steel, concrete, and glass were all modern marvels of engineering and triumphs of aesthetic. Considering how quickly Berlin-II was built, it was impressive for sure. What was once a random patch of forest in Brandenburg fifteen years ago had become a beacon of culture and human ingenuity in her eyes.
Asuka panned her head around, taking in the view of city life. Pigeons pecking at dropped French fries. The mesmerizing lights of cars in the street as the sun set. Surface-to-air missile systems crowning the peaks of many of the taller skyscrapers. The odd couple out shopping in one of the many boutique stores. It was nice. City life suited Asuka well. There was always something to do. Once the weekend hits, Asuka would for sure hit the town, maybe get a bite to eat too. A nice hot fudge sundae sure would be nice about now. Maybe two, since it had been a long day and she deserved to treat herself.
A funny thought slipped into Asuka's mind as she continued on: how fortunate was it that Berlin-II citizens spoke English as their main language? Her trip to America was filled with plenty of bright spots, but what wasn't one was that she hadn't spoken all that much German. She was a little rusty, as much as she hated to admit it. Growing up and spending most of her life in Berlin-II, she rarely had a need to speak the national language anyways, but it was the principal of the thing! A German who can't speak a lick of German? Beyond stupid! Still, the decision by the UN and NERV to enforce English as the main language of the cities each NERV branch was based out of at least made the trip to America a whole lot easier.
Oh, that trip to America was something alright. The training there was a miserable chore Asuka was frankly ecstatic about not having to ever repeat again. Well, not on her own anyways. Everything else? Beyond her wildest dreams. The people were really friendly and often went out of their way to help Asuka and Mr Kaji find their way around. American fast food was such a guilty pleasure for her after training, even if it often looked unappetizing to high heavens. All the variety of music and movies was enough to make her head spin. Asuka had seen snow for the first time in her life, and she spent all morning trying to make snowmen of her and Mr Kaji, to mixed results.
However, the crowning jewel was her visit to the white-covered valley of Hollywood, California. A city…no…THE city where dreams are made. All of Asuka's idols and inspirations passed through there at some point, creating things that did so much to shape her in her younger years. The classy and assertive Katherine Hepburn, the intelligent yet ostentatious Elizabeth Taylor, the gloriously theatric Cate Blanchett, and oh she could go on and on. She must have spent an entire day just looking for a place to recreate Marilyn Monroe's iconic flying skirt photo before being sorely disappointed to find that snow rarely left California these days, a stark contrast to what the state used to be back like in the day. Stupid Dead Sea Evaporation Incident, ruining her dream.
Accepting NERV US's invitation for training was, if she was being honest, just an excuse for her pilgrimage to the big city. With any luck, the next time she would be there wouldn't be in some stuffy rental car, but in a scarlet limousine with a bottle of champagne in one hand and her face on a TIME magazine in the other. "Mankind's Heroine and Hollywood's Queen" would make for a good cover quote, wouldn't it?
Asuka blinked. She was just a short distance away from the apartment complex she had moved into. Had she been lost in her reveries for that long?
Something hit the concrete behind Asuka, causing her to twirl around. Two boys were on the ground before her, one of them the tall guy in the track jacket and the other another student from her school. The track jacket boy pummeled the other boy with his fist across the face. What the hell was going on?
Then, Asuka looked down. A phone attached to a selfie stick was laying on the ground, screen cracked but clearly showing a snapshot of Asuka's panties. Wait…what?! Asuka looked back and forth, her mind drawing blanks as to what to do. This had never happened to her before. What was she supposed to do? A year of training in America for the unexpected for nothing.
Standing up and wiping his fist on his pant leg, the track jacket guy snorted as he walked past Asuka, heading towards the apartments.
"Next time, be aware of your surroundings, stupid" said the track jacket guy in a Slavic accent as he passed Asuka, leaving the other student in shambles on the ground.
Asuka was speechless, her mind unable to give a response at first to what had just happened. Then, the first thought that finally came to her was to kick the pervert's phone into the bushes. The second thought was to kick the living shit out of the pervert. The third was to run home and cry because she was so fucking done with today.
Asuka spent that night alone in her room, face pressed hard into a stuffed animal crying and cursing. She had hoped Mr Kaji would be back that night to help raise her spirits, but it seemed the man had been summoned to NERV Germany's HQ while she was away at school. On short notice as well, since her dear caretaker normally left a note before departing for work.
After some time, Asuka's distressed sobs slowly lessened as she was able to regain control of herself, her thoughts steadily clearing. Asuka's mind replayed the day over and over in her head. Everything was going according to plan. What went wrong? She wiped her face as she sniffed. Nothing had went wrong at school. The problem, she realized, was herself. She had begun to crack on the inside after just the first day in her fight for the top. For Asuka Langley Soryu, Mankind's Destined Primadonna, this was unacceptable. She wouldn't allow herself to fall like this again. She couldn't.
"Damn you, you pathetic loser" she thought as she looked up at the mirror to see the gross sniveling thing in it. "You're not allowed to be a weak little shit like that! You're above that!"
Her mind shifted to the incident that had happened on the way back from school, with the pervert who was stalking her. Asuka supposed she should have been flattered by the attempt. It was a marker for just how much her popularity was skyrocketing. Yet…it didn't. Why? Why?! The sight of the camera and the realization stirred up something inside her that fiercely clashed with who she wanted to be. She shook her head at the implication, and forced herself to change the subject in her head.
That guy with the track jacket, unkempt auburn hair, and emerald green eyes saved her. Only minutes before, she had been thinking up every reason to want to knock his teeth out of his stupid Slavic face. Why? What could he possibly have to gain from helping her? Certainly not getting on her good side. He called her "stupid" for heaven's sake!
Her eyes widened. He lived in this same apartment complex as her. She could find out for herself what he had to gain from all of this. Finding out his name and apartment number wouldn't be hard. Just skim through the apartment's tenant list and look for a name listing that that doesn't sound like a local.
A pit began to form in her stomach. Some place deep inside her felt improper to not at least offer some kind of thanks to him for what he did. After all, when was the last time someone came to her defence for, well, anything? He knocked that stalker bang zoom straight to the moon. Sure, she wouldn't have done the same thing had their roles been reversed, but…just something to show appreciation wouldn't hurt, would it?
Another long school day was at an end. With an exhausted yawn, the Slavic young man pulled his door key from his pocket, the thing shimmering in the light of the sunset.
The teenager recoiled in surprise as something smacked into his shoulder and plopped to the ground. He quickly spun around, searching for the source of his disturbance as his fight-or-flight reflexes kicked in. Standing there was that blonde girl from the other day, "Oska" or "Oscar" or whatever her name was. His vision trailed down towards the ground. By his foot was a wrapped up submarine sandwich.
He asked "…what the fuck are you doing?"
"Take it" replied Asuka, standing there sternly with hands on her hips, her normal voice lacking the flamboyance of the previous day. "That's for yesterday, so now we're even, Sergei Kresta."
He furrowed his eyebrows.
"Yeah, I figured that, but why did you not just hand it to me?"
Asuka remained posed there, her stern face crumbling as it turned red as a cherry.
"You did not think of that, did you" he questioned.
No. No she hadn't. The boy kneeled down and retrieved the sandwich, looking it over, before placing it under his arm. Unlocking the door, he turned back to Asuka.
"…so Oscar, are you coming in or not?"
After an entire day of hearing people fumble their words around her, it was Asuka's turn.
"Oh, uhhh, s-sure? Th-Thanks I guess."
He gestured to the open door, to which she entered sheepishly. Asuka couldn't tell which was the weirder for her: being the awkward one for once or actually accepting a guy's offer to go into his house. Well, at least she could strike the latter off the bucket list.
Asuka raised an eyebrow as she stood there, glancing around. This apartment complex wasn't even that old, according to Mr Kaji, but the interior decor looked like something her Grandmother might have in her house. Old-fashioned patterned wallpaper, hand-painted wooden cabinets, and lace floral curtains. Super trippy, like being in a photograph from the 1960's or something. The apartment felt cramped, even compared to Asuka's own place, and much chillier to boot. A dingy old block of a television sat in the corner with a bunch of things plugged into it, Asuka's eyes spotting an old PS2 being among the mess. A black and white portrait of a woman was hung up on the wall, along with a pin up girl poster and a crude drawing of an AK-47.
"Sit wherever you want," said Sergei as he set down his briefcase and sandwich with a yawn.
After a moment of looking around, Asuka sat down on a hideous floral-patterned love seat, feeling herself sink into its lopsided cushion.
"Like it? It is some real big rich guy house, huh" laughed Sergei.
Asuka swallowed, carefully deciding her words as she continued to sink into the cushion.
"I-It's…uhhh…different" she replied with a shake of her head. "…soooo…what's up with the décor, exactly? I wouldn't figure you to be someone who likes old fashion stuff."
"You like it? It reminds me and my brother of home back in Russia. We searched long time to find everything once we came here."
Asuka stared at a deeply worrying stain on the wall by the pin up poster.
"Dooooo you get lonely here often?"
Sergei took the sub from its wrapper and plopped onto the couch alongside Asuka, kicking a leg up onto the manky old coffee table.
"Not really," he replied, taking a bite. "Me and my big brother get along okay. He works, I go to school, and I make dinner for when him. He is not a rich guy, but he makes enough to do okay."
Asuka raised an eyebrow.
"No one comes to visit you?"
"Aaaaaand you're okay with that?"
Sergei wiped his mouth and shrugged.
"Pretty much. No one likes to hang out with big scary Russian kid. People think I am like a big scary wolf or bear" he replied, making a clawing motion.
Crossing her arms, Asuka frowned.
"Really? You're a track team member, riiiiiiight? You've gotta have a bunch of idiot guy friends there, right? The track team's chock FULL of them!"
Sergei laughed even harder than before, threatening to choke on his mouthful of sandwich.
"You think I am track team member, Oscar?!"
Asuka grimaced and attempted to stand up, though only succeeding to struggle awkwardly in place on the love seat.
"My NAME is ASUKA! Not 'ASOOKA', not 'ASS-KA', and NOT 'OSCAR'!" The girl finally gave up, sinking further still into the seat as she breathed deeply. "...I'm not stupid. Why ELSE would you wear a track jacket? Cuz 'FAAAASHIOOOON'? Are track suits worn by assholes a FASHIONABLE thing now, or did I just happen to miss that particular issue of Vogue?"
Sergei stifled a further laugh. "Because I like to wear them?" He flicked the exasperated German girl's nose before taking another bite. "You should let this side of you out more often. It is fun."
"Don't you DARE flick me like I'm some piece of trash-" she paused, eyes wide with visible confusion. "What?"
Finishing the first half of the sub, Sergei licked his fingers. "I see you at school yesterday, walking all big and stuff like you have stick up your ass."
A bead of sweat rolled down Asuka's forehead. She wanted to give him a knuckle sandwich to go with the sandwich she had already given to him, but she managed to maintain her composition. She was curious about this tall Russian asshole's comment.
Asuka smirked, eye twitching as she asked "Aaaaaand what is your point? Why do you care about what I do, hmmm?"
"If you want to act like you have a stick up your ass, you should OWN it." Sergei clenched his fist to emphasize himself. "You always smile and laugh at the most stupid things, you know? That is so boring. See, I thought you were a dumb bitch which is a bad thing, but a bitch with attitude is so much more cooler, you know? It is more memorable is what I mean."
"Most popular girls here act all sweet, but they are big bitches. Where I come from, girls are not scared to tell people they are morons. No one is. All I am saying is that you should make it clear you are not there to be their play thing, but other way around."
Scratching her head, Asuka stared down at the coffee table. What the fuck did that mean? Was she only there to entertain and arouse and enrage her fellow classmates? Be their "play thing"? Oh no. Oh no no no no no she was NOT! They did NOT control her…right? Was that what exhausted her so much the other day? It wasn't like she didn't enjoy being so vocal and flirtatious, but…it did get on the nerves at times when she wasn't always in the mood for it. If Asuka wanted to let the devil out, she was damn well going to no matter what! Okay, this Russian asshole was onto something.
Her nerves calming, Asuka recomposed herself, straightening out her skirt and hair before smiling at Sergei.
"Well…your feedback is much obliged, asshole. I'll be sure to keep that in mind."
Sergei stood up from his seat effortlessly, before extending a hand to help Asuka up.
"Hey, assholes need to stick together to survive, you know? Fuck everyone else, am I right" asked the Russian teen as he tapped his finger against his head.
Asuka paused for a moment, before taking his helping hand.
"I suppoooose…its people like us against losers like them."
"You can be the Heartbreaker, Asuka, and I can be the Facebreaker."
Now THAT was a plan in Asuka's book, putting a smile on her face. While not the first time someone legitimately put a smile on her freckled face, it was the first in a very long time by anyone who wasn't Mr Kaji. As she stood there rosy-cheeked, looking up at the tall Russian boy, she spotted something hanging off a shelf behind him.
"Saaaay…I see you got an old PS2," said Asuka. "That there…that isn't a Guitar Hero guitar, is it" she asked as she pointed towards the long plastic thing that jutted off the shelf.
Sergei raised an eyebrow, before glancing back.
"Ahhhhh, you play Guitar Hero, Asuka?"
Asuka nodded her head.
"Mmmhm! Gaming IS, like, my bread and butter! PC, consoles, retro stuff, all of it! And I tell you, I can play Guitar Hero like a fucking QUEEN!" She rested her hands on her hips. "Next time I'm over, fire it up and I WILL slay."
"Good! My brother does not play with me very much anymore. He is always so busy."
Asuka felt a pang of very mild regret. While she wasn't lying when she said she was supreme at Guitar Hero, the only problem was she hadn't played it in ages after she accidentally destroyed Mr Kaji's PS2 in a fit of rage after…wait…MR KAJI! Damn, Asuka had lost track of time! The girl scurried to the window and looked out. Night. Uh oh. Mr Kaji was always one for strict discipline, so this wasn't going to sit well with him, what with her being out late at a guy's house and all. Besides, the thought of upsetting her rather alarmingly attractive caretaker didn't sit well with the teenage Asuka.
"Ach! I'm running super late" cried Asuka. "I don't wanna keep darling waiting!"
Fumbling with her briefcase, Asuka quickly touched up her hair and clothes before sending a text to Mr Kaji and darting out the door, Sergei bidding her a good night as she did so.
"Good night, Oscar!"
"You too, you giant asshole!"
With haste, Asuka made her way towards her and Mr Kaji's apartment, nearly tripping once or twice but maintaining a pep in her step. In a sea of drones and sheep, Asuka was just happy to have met someone else with some goddamn personality for once, and it left her cheeks red the whole way back.
The door to the apartment creaked open as Asuka slipped inside. Everything was dark. Had she arrived back before Mr Kaji? Or perhaps he was asleep?
"Did you have a good evening, Asuka?"
That familiar tone made Asuka's heart flutter as she paused midway through locking the door. Mr Kaji was home? Wait…his tone didn't sound upset at all. Was something up? She could have sworn she was about to get a scolding from her fantasy guardian. Finishing locking up, Asuka turned around, a smile on her face and genuine teenage love oozing out of her words as she replied.
"Well I am now that you're home, Mr Kaji!"
Sitting in the dark on the couch, illuminated by laptop light, was the unmistakable figure of the man. He was tall and lean, tawny-skinned, with long black hair tied back into a messy ponytail. His jawline game was strong, accentuated by stubble that felt wonderful to rub a hand against. The gorgeous Japanese man was still in his work clothes, the sleeves of his dress shirt rolled up and tie haphazard and loose around his neck. His broad shoulders and beautiful smile beckoned to Asuka, but once she was halfway towards him, she paused.
"Wait, Mr Kaji, if you're home, why didn't you text me? I don't wanna keep you waiting…it's rude of me when I do…"
Kaji leaned back, rubbing his eyes, which now that Asuka was up close did seem much more tired than usual.
"Oh, I wouldn't dream of interrupting anything, Asuka. You being out with a guy is a good thing, and I don't want to interfere."
Huh? What did he mean by that? Asuka shook her head.
"Is something up, Mr Kaji? You didn't leave a note or anything yesterday, and you seem so tired now…is everything okay?"
Mr Kaji's smile faded as he gestured towards the laptop.
"See for yourself, Asuka."
Asuka slowly approached the couch and sat down beside the man, pressing herself against him despite his best attempt to scoot away from her a little. Her vision adjusted to the bright screen, before the girl let out a gasp of shock.
"Wh-What is this?! Mr Kaji?!"
The laptop displayed a live news broadcast from Japan. The text was mostly in kanji, but what English was there read "Tokyo-III Under Attack". Her heart sank as the camera panned over a city in the dead of night, its skyscrapers eerily similar enough to Berlin-II's to make Asuka uncomfortable at the sight of many of them in desolation. Fires could be seen burning just beyond the city as plumes of smoke circled skywards and sirens screamed. What was going on? Was it terrorists? An attacking army?
Then she saw it.
The panning camera revealed a not a giant of concrete and steel, but…a literal giant. A figure of grand stature, clad in smooth frost white plate armour, highlights of blood red breaking up the monochrome colour scheme. The entity possessed a mechanical appearance with long limber yet well-built limbs, coupled with a tapered and segmented midriff and bulky upper body. Broad twin pylons jutted from the tops of the shoulders, further enhancing its god-like height amongst the concrete titans.
The head of the giant resembled a kind of samurai helmet, with broad edges that jutted from the sides and back of the head. An armoured beak comprised the face with a long flat horn protruding forward from the titan's forehead. A pair of glowing ultramarine eyes pierced the darkness as if staring directly into Asuka's own frightened eyes. Adorning its body were NERV insignias and a large black number reading "01". With a lumbering step, the earth and all the buildings trembled and shook. Asuka wrapped her arms around Mr Kaji, unable to look away from the fearful spectacle.
"D-Dear God, that's…" she muttered. "…E-Evangelion Unit One…is online…"
The Giant of Tokyo-III had taken its first step, and that could only mean one thing: it was time. The Apostolos had finally come.
What's going down in Tokyo-III? What the heck is that mysterious giant robot? What are "Apostolos"? Don't touch that dial! Neon Genesis Alcion will be back with Chapter 2: A Primadonna for the New Age!