Chaos Lord Productions Brings You.
Written by Chaos Lord
Disclaimer: All entities and devices in this story belong to their respective owners.
Chapter 10 - One Down
As he lay in their bed, Mitsuki's warm body pressed lovingly against his, Kazuki could not help but feel awed by the current situation. More than once he'd wondered what it would be like to experience such closeness with a girl. Like with many other things in life, imagination proved to be a poor substitute to the reality of actually having Mitsuki beside him. So good was it in fact that, had he the ability, he would have gone back in time to tell himself to spare everyone a great deal of unnecessary heartache and just ask her to be his girlfriend. Since time travel seemed to be out of even Zinv's power though, Kazuki was content to enjoy what he had.
Speaking of enjoying what he had, their current arrangement brought to mind something else he'd often imagined. Those fevered dreams of imaginary passion were added to by Mitsuki herself. Since they became a couple, even a nascent one, the young woman changed how she dressed for bed. Gone were the pants and in their place were bare legs sticking out from beneath a long shirt. Given his own use of shorts to sleep in, their legs rubbed back and forth against one another in a way which made his head spin and his hormones surge; something he wasn't sure whether she planned or was merely a happy coincidence.
"Mitsuki," he asked softly as he continued to gently run his hand through her hair, "are you awake?"
"Mmm," she purred. Like the man beneath her Mitsuki was finding her current position deeply satisfying. Never had she imagined feeling so happy. At any given moment she felt as if she was on the edge of breaking out into song, so light was her heart right then.
Kazuki smiled down at her. It was weirdly refreshing to hear her sound laid back and peaceful. "Can I ask you a question?"
Something in his voice prickled at the edges of her mind and said, in no uncertain terms, that the coming conversation was one in which she should devote all of her concentration. With barely a sigh of longing for her former position Mitsuki sat up and looked her boyfriend in the eye. "Sure, what's up?"
"I don't want to pressure you or anything, but have you thought about were we go from here," asked Kazuki as he glanced down at where his girlfriend's hand rested on his stomach. It was still within the realm of decency yet low enough to emphasize the need of his question.
The brown-haired teen followed his gaze to where her hand was. Seeing its position made her cheeks turn pink as the full implications of what he asked hit her. "When did that get there," she asked herself absently. Even with that internal question, Mitsuki refrained from removing the appendage in question. "Yeah, I have." That was the truth. While the male of the species was more known for their nearly constant focus on sex, it was a simple fact of life that women thought about it too. In fact, the emphasis on the male side was probably a result of female-kind's shifting some of the light off of themselves.
He mentally rolled his eyes with amusement. Even in the midst of a intimate conversation that he started, Mitsuki was still compelled to control things. "Well, were do we go? I mean, have you ever been tempted at all?"
The blush on Mitsuki's face brightened to the point of near-incandescence. With a shy smile she looked down as her hand instinctually gripped his shirt. Though a part of her wished to do nothing more than to lie and play up the good girl angle she pushed that part down. At the very beginning of their relationship she had vowed to be truthful with the man before her, too much of their lives together up until then had been filled with lies and Mitsuki wanted to ensure that what they had would remain apart from that past.
"I'd be lying if I said no." Her smile became a grin when she heard his small gasp at that admission. "Kazuki, every moment we're together I'm tempted. I guess I get that from Ayuko," she said with a chuckle. "Each time we jump dimensions that temptation gets that much harder to ignore. And now that we're together," she whispered, "its nearly impossible."
To hear her say those things brought Kazuki an enormous swell of manly pride. No one had really called him irresistible like that before but it engendered within him another question. "Why," he started hoarsely, "why haven't you tried anything?"
Mitsuki could hear the raw desire in his voice and it almost convinced her to, as Kazuki put it, try anything. The voice of her true mother broke in and, through the tempted young woman, gave him his answer. "I'm not ready yet."
"How do you know," he asked with needing curiosity. Like her, he knew he wasn't ready for anything more than what they were doing but for the life of him he didn't know why.
She looked into his eyes and saw the confusion and desire to understand shifting about there. It was then that Mitsuki knew what her mother must have seen when she asked her that very same question. "Well its like Akane told me. If the person we want is really the one then none of us really know why we hold back. But one day something will snap inside and suddenly there will be no keeping us apart."
"So it's a wait and see thing then," he said with some measurable disappointment.
Shaking her head, the young woman removed her hand from his stomach and placed it over his heart. "No, it's a wait and learn thing, I think. It gives us a chance to learn and love each other as people before we become l-lovers."
Her embarrassment at saying that word was clear, but so to was the sentiment behind it. With a blush of his own, Kazuki reached up and gently placed a hand over his girlfriend's heart. "Okay."
Feeling his hand on her chest made her heart pound so loudly that it sounded like drums in Mitsuki's head. Its thrumming beat rushed through her mind and unlocked one of the doors along the path. "You know," she said as her smile became a tad warmer that it was before, "we may not be ready for everything yet, but that doesn't mean that we're not ready for everything."
He looked up at her thoroughly perplexed, "What does that mean?"
"Well," she said with a hint of mischief, "we can do things like this." Screwing up all of her courage, Mitsuki bent down and placed a soft kiss upon her boyfriend's lips.
On an objective measure of kisses it did not rank high but in his mind the entire cosmos was centered on the place were their lips gently touched. At the intimate gesture a dozen thoughts surged through Kazuki's mind so fast it felt as if reality was spinning out of control. Over it was was the singular observation of the sweetness of her lips.
With only the light of the outside lights to illuminate the room, Shinji stared up at the ceiling of the place Misato had set aside for him. The softness of the bed brought no remedy to the emotions swirling in his mind. Since that singular moment of revelation during the last mission briefing, the young man's mind had been in a state of turmoil regarding his violet-haired guardian. At war with one another was the romantic love he held for her and the certain knowledge that she could never love someone like him in the manner he wished. To make matters worse, just when everything evened out in his mind some image of Misato would pop up to bring chaos to the order.
Groaning with frustration, Shinji rolled onto his side. There on the nightstand, illuminated by a shaft of light, was a picture of him and Misato Mitsuki took at one of their parties. Slowly he reached out and ran a finger along the smooth lines of her smiling face. "How did I not see you like this before," he asked as his hand yearned to gently cup the real face that picture portrayed. No reply came from the still lips he longed to kiss but he drew solace from the brilliant smile she'd directed towards the camera as she wrapped an arm around his shoulder.
Absently, his finger drifted down to circle the curves of her chest as it practically lept from the confines of her loose tee shirt. He'd noticed them before, of course. With the way she dressed around the apartment it was impossible to miss those expansive orbs. There were times when he wondered whether or not she was trying to tease him by wearing such provocative clothing. Before his revelation he'd always look away from her when her chest was particularly exposed. Now, he had to work hard to look away instead of admiring the view like he desired. "At least I now know why Toji and Kensuke keep saying why I'm so lucky to live with you," he chuckled.
That amusement didn't last long however and soon enough his face was once again showing his inner turmoil. "But is it really luck or just another way the universe can kick me in the face," he asked of the picture. Yes, it was true he loved having Misato in his life, she'd done so much to help hime since they'd first met. And yet he could not shake the knowledge that, no matter how he felt, all she saw him as was a brother or possible a son. Even with all the good which had come into his life as of late, Shinji could not shake the feeling that Misato's feelings on the matter were merely the shoelace which heralded the other shoe's descent.
Shinji's view of the situation would not have been so pessimistic had he known what Misato was up to at that particular moment in time. Like him, she was conflicted with regards to her feelings for the young man. But where Shinji wallowed in misery and contemplated the general unfairness of creation, the long-haired Major took a more energetic route to work out her feelings.
Behind a barricaded door she laid beneath covers, their thick bulk hiding her naked body. Sweat rolled in sheets off her flushed flesh as her hands moved with expert precision. In her mind those slim hands probing every inch of her body were not her own but instead belonged to the wonderful young man down the hall. With deft skill mind-Shinji drove her on to ever greater heights of ecstasy and just when she thought she could stand the pleasure no more he sent her tumbling into one mind-blowing orgasm after another. The current one she was building to looked to be the greatest of the night and she was sure it would leave her screaming until her throat went raw. Luckily she'd taken the precaution of placing gag on herself to make sure the real Shinji didn't come to help.
Had he, or anyone else for that matter, been there to see her at that moment he would've noticed how her face was warped with the pleasure from her activities. Along with the pleasure there was something else marring the woman's visage, tears. An outsider may have mistaken them as an additional outpouring of pleasure but they would have been wrong. Only someone inside Misato's mind could have known that the tears were the product of an immense sadness. A sadness born of her inability to really have Shinji in the room with her, caressing her body, loving her like her soul so desperately desired.
It was a bright Sunday in Tokyo 3 that saw Makoto and Ifurita walking happily through the sprawling metropolis. Today was not the first day they decided to go out among the people of this new world but it was the first that they walked with such purpose. Ifurita had made a promise and now she was going to keep it.
"So this woman we're going to meet," prompted Makoto.
"Right. Do you see her often?" He could, if he so desired, pluck the information right of her mind, the bond allowed such things quite easily. It was by mutual agreement however that he refrained from doing so. There was something about talking, some primal link to all their yesterdays, which made it the form of communication they used the most.
Ifurita nodded happily, "Yes. She works at the shop were I purchase our food and other supplies."
"So why do I have to meet her? That part I'm still confused about." Confused as he may be, Makoto didn't object to the outing. He'd stop the world just to spend an eternity at her side, so a walk was in no way even a minor inconvenience.
"She asked to meet you and I said I would bring you to her when I could, Besides, you needed to get away from grading tests, if only for a little while." It was something which unnerved her, the constant work which came with her love's job. The others, Mitsuki and Misato, seemed to leave their work at work. By some perverse process however, Makoto's work seemed to follow him where ever he might roam. Such things in her opinion were not healthy, especially as it seemed to needlessly stress him.
Makoto wholeheartedly agreed with her desire to get him away from tests. But instead of commenting on it he simply smiled and tightened his grip on her hand slightly. "What's she like?"
"Nice, very warm. She always has a smile whenever I come in. Though you should be ready to get yelled at," she said with a grin.
Hearing her playful tone told him that he needn't fear any serious attack, but it still drew his curiosity. "Me? Why?"
"I don not think she is pleased with me doing all our shopping."
"You did explain to her that it's hard to shop and teach, right? I mean, I'd love to be able to do more but it's kinda hard." Already he'd been beating himself up for leaving her with a big part of the house work, the last thing Makoto thought he wanted was to hear someone else speak those same condemnations.
"Yes," she said as she let go of his hand and wrapped her arm around his waist, "I told her and she approved. I just think she may joke with you some. She seems to like joking with people, though it always seems to be good natured."
"Well that I can handle," he said as he slid an arm around her waist as well. "After five years around Shayla-Shayla you learn how to take a joke."
Across town from the happy couple, Asuka and Hikari were out and about. Their school was doing a food drive to help some of the local families whose homes had been damaged or destroyed by some of the Angel attacks. While it was true that the government provided relief for the displaced, the Class Representative had reached the conclusion that it was their duty as citizens, and as humans, to help their neighbors in their time of need. So both girls were wandering the streets between shops and homes handing out flyers and informing people where they could leave their donations.
As they went about their work Hikari kept looking at her friend in concern. Though neither of them appreciated walking around in Tokyo 3's perpetual heat Asuka looked especially downtrodden. More than that there was something off about her appearance, it was almost as if something was missing. It had been nagging at her mind for several days now and for the life of her she couldn't reach a conclusion. Suddenly she realized what was wrong with the picture. Upon retrospect it was so obvious that she had to hit herself in the head for being so inattentive.
"You all right, Hikari," asked Asuka wryly. After all, it wasn't as if the girl went around hitting herself all the time.
Though the was blushing so deeply her freckles appeared to be a solid mass the pig-tailed girl pressed on. "Your hair clips are missing."
Intellectually she knew that her A-10 nerve connectors were not on her head, she'd left them in her quarters on purpose. Even still, Asuka instinctually reached up to feel for missing devices. "Oh yeah. Someone asked me not to wear them for a few days."
The somebody in question was the aggravatingly insightful Dr. Wyatt. In that annoying, yet astute, way of his he'd suggested that she wore the clips as if they were some sort of ceremonial totem. He contented that a part of her viewed them as crown by which she could lord her power over others; even if was merely a silent statement of said power. At the time his words upset her, though most attacks directed at anything remotely pilot related normally did.
Even more aggravating was the disconcerting ring of truth his words possessed. Looking back on things she had viewed the clips as something of a crown. When they were perched on her head she felt stronger, more confident, better than all those around her. Back in Germany everyone knew of her status as a pilot and they gave her the respect she deserved . . . or at least the respect she thought she deserved. Here no one knew who she was beyond being the new transfer student, for them the clips meant nothing. In fact, more than once she'd overheard one person or another call them cyber cat ears. Some even wondered if she was some cosplay fetishist for gott's sake!
It was that, more than Gordon Gordon's ideas, got her to stop wearing the clips, if only temporarily. Since she first took them off three days ago Hikari was the first person her own age who had commented on their absence. To be so far removed from the center of attention that it took even her best friend so long to notice was a further blow to her pride and another bit of proof that her doctor was right in saying that she was worth no more or less than anyone else.
Hikari could hear that there was more to the request than her friend was letting on but refrained from inquiring. "You know, while a little variety is a good thing I think your hair looked better pulled back like it was."
Asuka fingered her hair self-consciously, "I agree but I think the person I made the promise to wouldn't want me to use them again just yet."
She gave her friend's hair a closer look while thinking of something she could do to help. After a few moments an idea came to mind, "I've got an idea. Why don't we do a loose braid running along the sides of your head and have them meet in the back while the rest of your hair stays free?"
The redhead though about what her friend described for a few seconds before breaking out into a wide smile, "That's a great idea Hikari! We just need to make sure its something I can do on my own. I do a lot of swimming and I need to be able to fix it."
Happy to see her friend's mood improve so greatly, Hikari nodded eagerly. "Sure! Let's finish this block and the we can head to my place to work something out."
Standing out in the heat of the day, Shinji stared at the door before him with fear in his belly. In a way, what he was about to do scared him more than facing down his father. Unlike his father though, he couldn't run away from this. He was going insane from the maelstrom of emotions within him and needed to find an anchor before the storm totally consumed him. Misato was out of the question, she was the high pressure system that had collided with his low pressure life. That only left Mitsuki to confide in and he had no idea how she would react.
In the last moments before he could totally puss out Shinji, his hand shaking, reached out and rung the bell on Mitsuki's apartment. He didn't have to wait long and soon enough the door slid open to reveal a slightly disheveled Kazuki. "Um, hi," he lamely muttered to the older man.
"Shinji," asked Kazuki with a hint of surprise. Seeing the morose cloud hovering around his young friend he cast aside any thoughts of continuing his prior activities in favor for helping Shinji out. "Is everything okay?"
"Yes," he blurted hastily. "I mean no. C-can I talk to Mitsuki?" Though he wasn't particularly masculine, Shinji felt that talking about his feelings with another man went against some primal manliness.
The older teen nodded, "Sure," he said a tad louder than was needed, "Mitsuki's inside, Shinji." In light of their prior actions he didn't want Mitsuki to be caught by their company in a less than favorable manner.
Giving his friend a curious look, Shinji walked into the apartment and headed towards the living room. Either Mitsuki would be there when he arrived or she would be soon. Sure enough the young woman was sitting on the couch looking completely at ease. "H-hi Mitsuki."
Mitsuki smiled at her young friend happily. Even though his untimely arrival had interrupted some couples time she and Kazuki were sharing she wasn't about to act coldly to the shy teen. "Hello Shinji. How a you today?"
"Um, okay. I guess. Can we talk, in private," he asked with a concerned glance back towards Kazuki.
Seeing his worried look Mitsuki frowned internally. "That shouldn't be a problem, should it, Kazuki?"
Said man was staring at his girlfriend incredulously. Mitsuki only had a few moments of warning yet she was immaculate, as if their passionate kissing never happened. But instead of trying to figure out his girlfriend, Kazuki nodded dutifully. "Not at all. I needed to hit the market anyway. You two try to stay out of trouble, okay." Then, acting purely on a whimsical impulse, he stepped forward and gave her a quick kiss. Something which, gratefully, caused her to blush mightily.
She watched him leave the room with a goofy smile on her face. It wasn't until the front door closed that she was able to break herself free of his kiss' spell. Blushing now from embarrassment, Mitsuki turned back to Shinji and patted the seat next to her. "Here, sit down."
He happily obliged her and was soon sitting as comfortably as his troubled emotions would allow. "Thanks."
"Now, what seems to be the trouble?"
The young man opened his mouth to speak but when nothing came out he shook his head and stood. "Maybe I should go."
"Nah ah," admonished Mitsuki as she pulled her young friend back into his seat. "You came for a reason, so tell me what's bothering you."
Shinji sat there for several minutes as he gathered his nerve. "It . . . it's Misato," he finally said.
"What about her," she asked while trying to hide her enthusiasm.
"You're probably going to think I'm a pervert or something but I think I l-love her." Though he was sure that she would look upon him poorly, just saying those words out loud lifted a huge weight off his young shoulders.
Inside, a little Mitsuki was doing cartwheels and cheers as fireworks went off in the distance. On the outside she tried to suppress her giddiness, though some did manage to leak out. "I don't see why you wouldn't."
Of all the responses he could have heard, that was certainly not on his list. "What? You mean you don't think I'm a pervert?"
"Shinji, Shinji," she faux admonished. "Why on earth would I think that about you? You are a good-hearted, able-bodied, young man, I'd be surprised if you didn't have some kind of feelings for Misato, That you love her makes that much more sense."
He looked at her with complete astonishment. "You're okay with me having feelings for her?"
"Why wouldn't I be," giggled Mitsuki. "Shinji, every day older men fall for much younger women and society doesn't blink. It'd be hypocritical to then yell at a younger man for dating an older woman. The only thing I'd suggest is that you take it slow with her. You've both been through a lot and going too fast can only hurt you both."
"You don't think I actually have a chance with her, do you?" Even though he hoped the answer was a resounding yes his internal pessimism repeatedly said no.
Though she knew that Misato was in love with him, Mitsuki kept that little bit of information to herself. "Who knows," she shrugged. "Only she can say that. All I can tell you is that you should give her the opportunity to say yes or no." It was cruel, she knew, but these sorts of things needed to be handled with care. If she pushed them together they might just fly apart again. It was up to them now, they were caught up in each other and whether they'd fuze into a wondrous whole or explode climatically was theirs to decide. All she could do was lend an ear when need be.
It wasn't what he hoped for but it also wasn't the answered he feared. All told it was pretty good and he'd just have to take what he got. "So go slow and give her a chance. Is that what you're saying?"
"Pretty much, yeah."
"You know," he laughed, "when I say it, it sounds so simple."
Mitsuki nodded as she leaned forward, "Yeah, it does. But just because it sounds simple doesn't make it so. Relationships are naturally difficult, it's when people forget that fact that things start falling apart. Even though we love each other, Kazuki and I have to work hard to maintain what we have while building for our future. And yeah, there will be bumps along the way. One of you will say or do something that hurts the other, that's only natural. The key is to never stop talking."
Shinji felt as if someone had shoved a large stone in his throat and though he swallowed deeply it obstinately stayed in place. "How am I going to do that," he mentally groaned. Opening up to people at all was a nearly insurmountable challenge. What Mitsuki described sounded practically impossible. Maybe it was the universe's way of saying that he should quit while he was ahead. Before he could step down that path too far though an image of his father inexplicably popped in his head. The man's stoney visage stared down at him as a silent monument to the ramifications of eschewing relationships. He may not want to be challenged but he wanted to be his father even less.
"Okay, Mitsuki," he said slowly. "I'll do that. And . . . thanks."
She smiled and put a hand on his, "You're welcome. And feel free to come and talk to me whenever you need to."
The water pouring across her pale skin was positively scalding, a stark contrast to the frigid temperatures of her shower. Rei Ayanami minded neither the cold nor the heat, both were mere distractions. All that mattered was the mission. If ordered to she'd gladly sacrifice her life in furtherance of the cause, though a part of her was pleased that such a thing had not yet been requested.
As of late, this desire to live was an anomaly in her thought processes. Though she had not reported the development to the Commander, it churned through her thoughts nonetheless. By her reckoning all this began once she met Ikari. For some reason he sparked unfathomable desires within her. It vexed her that she could not quickly analyze and compartmentalize those desires and it led to the first instances of self-preservation. These were only bolstered by her interactions with Ifurita and Mr. Mizuhara. More so than any other she had encountered those two were capable of sliding through all the barriers she erected to keep others out; a frightening yet wholly welcome experience.
"I swear," commented a voice from the next stall over, "I think this whole place is staffed by a bunch of perverts. I never had to get naked for my Unit-02."
"There do appear to be some benefits to an end to my existence," thought Rei as the voice of Pilot Soryu grated across her surroundings. While it was true that she and the red-head interacted quite infrequently, something about her made the bluenette highly uncomfortable. "Perhaps the staff at the German branch were subpar," she commented dryly, "Doctor Akagi is recognized as one of the foremost leaders in man-machine interface technology." The sputtered outrage was more muted than she expected, still Rei found it most satisfactory.
A chuckle sounded over the intercom. "Okay, that's enough you two. Asuka, the cameras in the isolation zone have been turned off for your privacy. None of us can see you."
Asuka snorted with derision. Although she'd not felt like herself in some time, at that particular moment she believed she was on a solid mental footing. Gordon Gordon might have her all twisted up about piloting but she still knew what was and wasn't appropriate. "Sure, you can't see us. But what about Shinji? He's in here naked along side of us."
Standing in the final stall, Shinji tried very hard not to think about the two very naked girls nearby. Things got even worse when his efforts kept substituting a nude Misato for Rei and Asuka. In a desperate move, the young man conjured up some mental ice water in the form of his father. The man wasn't au naturel, he didn't need to be, just the thought of the man was enough to cool any amorous thoughts he may have. "I've got an idea."
Doctor Akagi's sigh could be heard through the speakers, "Such as?"
"I'll go first and once I'm in my entry plug Rei and Asuka can get in theirs," he offered helpfully.
In her stall Asuka put her hands on her hips, thrust out her still-developing chest, and nodded with authority. "Excellent idea thir . . . uh, I mean, Shinji." That was something else Gordon Gordon brought to her attention. Just as her nerve clips were a way for her to rise above those around her so too was her use of titles as opposed to people's names. And the problem with that was, once she thought about it some, it made a lot of sense.
"Great," said Ritsuko sarcastically. "Now can we please get on track?"
"Sure. I'm heading to the simulation body now."
As the naked male made his way towards the testing chamber he was blissfully unaware of the small cluster of cells which were ensconced nearby. They started as a speck no bigger than a grain of sand, something which went ignored by the workmen when this part of the facility was hastily completed months ago. Stuck to the side of a steel support beam the cells sat quietly, never moving, never dividing, merely waiting. Eight of its brothers and sisters had gone before it, each perishing before they could rescue the All-Father. Now it was Iruel's turn and when the nearby abominations came to life it awoke with a thirst for retribution.
Elsewhere in the fortress city of Tokyo 3, the former Demon God Ifurita went about her day's business. Clad in stylish jeans and a white blouse, the pale woman hummed a merry tune while sweeping the apartment she shared with her dearest Makoto. For so long death was both her weapon and companion, it hung about her like an oppressive cloak which sought to choke the life out of her. Against such a thing the drudgery of life was a wondrous shield keeping the terrors of the past at bay.
So consumed was she with the sedate moment that Ifurita nearly missed the buzzing of a sub-program. It was one she'd instituted soon after arriving in this world. Instead of going to a terminal and hoping that, at that particular moment, a hole would open in the MAGI's defenses, she left the program in place to monitor the system. Since installing the program it had little indications of even the smallest of cracks in the defenses. Since, that is, this very instant.
With the way suddenly opened, Ifurita dove into the computer system at the speed of thought. There was no way to know how long this hole would be opened and she was determined to make the most of it. To her senses the MAGI appeared as a massive web whose dark and sickly tendrils wrapped around anything and everything on the planet. Her thoughts were like a brilliant light burning a path through the darkness, it was a path she could use again should she ever desire to return to such a terrible place.
There was something else in the system, a mind comprised of a vast multitude. It sought to consume and convert all it touched in an effort to achieve its goal. Luckily it was so totally dedicated to its mission that it ignored Ifruita for what it considered to be the more pressing threat. So it was that, as the two titans did battle along silicon pathways, the ex-Demon God was able to peer beneath NERV's mask and see the malignant tumor at its heart. She'd wanted to know the truth about this world and now that she had the knowledge Ifurita wanted to be rid of it. But while she could not purge herself of the horrors lurking deep within the personal files of Gendo Ikari, she could give herself a measure of relief.
From across the room the Power Key Staff flew into the woman's waiting hand. Even as her weapon moved towards her, Ifurita stormed across the apartment with dreadful purpose. As she moved the nano-machines reconstructed her clothing into the battle suit which plagued the nightmares of all those fortunate enough to survive an encounter with her. Before, when she killed an Angel, the blue-haired woman wept for the life she took. Today, as she took the skies of Tokyo 3, Ifurita felt no sadness, no shame, just the singular desire to kill. There were monsters on this planet more fearsome, and loathsome, than any Angel. And since the agencies of man knew nothing of those terrors a higher power was required.
As she flew into the sky there was no EM jamming, no active camouflage, only a vibration of air molecules before her face. Ifurita did not want to conceal her approach, she wanted to strike terror into the hearts of her victims. For the first time in ten thousand years the Demon God Ifurita was on the hunt and woe be to any who stood in her way.
A ring of menacing black monoliths hovered above the curve of the Earth. The only hint to their identity or purpose was the name SEELE scrawled across the top of each black rectangle and beneath that a number ranging between zero and twelve. Down below the unholy conclave, the people went about their business without a clue as to the dark dealings happening above them.
Of course, the monoliths weren't really there. The only thing that high above Earth was a simple monitor satellite hovering in geosynchronous orbit. Its high-powered camera supplied the planetary vista for each of the SEELE member's enjoyment. In reality, the planet and the menacing rectangles were all holographic creations for the twelve men who comprised the committee.
Though the black stones were undoubtedly meant to convey an image of silent power to all who laid eyes upon them, in reality they merely illustrated how sad they were. Each had more control over the fates of man than any human before them yet every one was afraid of the others, an irony given their future desires. Only one of those in attendance knew all the names of their fellows and that was the face hiding behind the double zeroes. While someone might have tried to make a joke linking him to a certain fictional spy, the reality was that the moniker was a testament to how truly worthless he was.
"It appears as if the next messenger has begun its assault," said 03.
From 10 came an irritated grumble, "Something tells me Ikari will try and pass this current outage as nothing but another drill."
The drill in question referred to SEELE's recent sabotage of the Japan NERV facility. Admittedly the timing of that particular operation had not been salutatory but it amused 00 to hear Ikari's explanation to the U.N.. "Undoubtedly. Let us just hope there are no further interruptions to the scenario."
"Yes," said 04, "they have been most . . . what's that? What the hell are you, ahrg!" To the nondescript horror of the other faceless blocks, 04 suddenly faded away. Below, on the representation of Earth, a bright light suddenly appeared in southern Japan before vanishing several moments later.
Although none of their number was aware of what had just befallen 04, there was not a single soul among them who did not feel an icy spike of fear pierce their heart. At the same time, each member of the Committee had the inexplicable feeling that the destiny they all worked so hard for had taken a sudden turn for the worse.
"In continuing news, reports are coming in of a massive explosion in Shizuoka prefecture near Mt. Aino. Eyewitness accounts describe a fireball nearly two kilometers in height. Luckily the remote location of the explosion's center limited damage to nearby cities, though there are reports of minor injuries from falling items as a result of quakes. The question remains, how and why did this largely unpopulated region suddenly erupt into a hellish maelstrom?"
"I can't believe a blast that big wasn't another Angel," said Shinji as he listened to the news report coming from the radio.
Sitting in the driver's seat of the Alpine Renault, Misato waved her hand frantically. "Shh! You don't want to summon one of them, do you?" After sitting on the sidelines while the science types killed the last Angel, the violet-haired woman wasn't too keen on having another attack so soon. "Let's just enjoy the ride, okay," she asked softly while hazarding a quick touch on Shinji's arm.
When it became clear that it was up to Ritsuko and Maya to save their asses, Mitsuki had suggested that they assemble a team to go out and rescue the pilots. Being the Operations Director, and guardian to one of the pilots, Misato eagerly agreed. Even with the computers down, it didn't take long to navigate a route to the outside. If the power had been out it could've taken days but as it was the manuals all still worked. It was when they reached the three naked teens that Misato got sight of something which was sure to add fuel to the fires of her dreams.
Based on how he looked that first night out of the shower, she'd always imagined being with Shinji in terms of skill and longevity, not size. Though nowhere near a slut, Misato had been with enough men over the years to know what was really important in the bedroom so such thoughts weren't an issue. Now, after seeing him when he exited the simulation plug, the woman had to rethink the size equation. "Either he's had one hell of a growth spurt or there was some serious shrinkage going on back then," she thought with some amount of awe.
Feeling those slim fingers on the bare skin of his arm sent shivers running up and down his spine. "T-that sounds good." Even as he enjoyed the pleasurable sensations his mind drifted to the moment he left the plug. He'd been thinking about things then too and he only hoped that Misato hadn't noticed anything.
Even with her going at a more sedate pace, the drive didn't last much longer. Soon enough Misato pulled her prized vehicle into its spot and turned off the motor. Casting a quick smile Shinji's way, she got out of the car. As she turned to face the building her smile froze before quickly falling. A heartbeat later the Major was running, her gun out and the safety off.
Though he didn't know what exactly was wrong, Shinji ran after Misato without reservation. He might have come to Tokyo 3 a coward but when the woman he had feelings for went running headlong into a potentially dangerous situation then he'd be damned if he wasn't there to back her up. That conviction faded somewhat when he saw that it was Ifurita and Makoto's door she kicked in.
Misato couldn't believe what she had seen but in the military they train you to see everything right the first time. What she saw in the moments after leaving her car was a flying woman. Though its back had been facing her, the blue hair and axe-staff undoubtedly belonged to Ifurita. And seeing as only an Angel could fly, Misato reached the obvious conclusion and went in ready for a fight. When she turned the corner into living room the Major came found the staff pointed in her face and Ifurita's cold eyes staring at her. In those eyes she saw only death and for the first time since she started down this path she questioned the sanity of her actions.
From behind came a voice which sent a spike of betrayal through Misato's soul. "Can't we all just get along?"
"Mitsuki," she said with a strangled sob. "N-not you too."
"Misato," said the young brunette sadly as she moved to stand beside Ifurita, "please, it's going to be okay."
She moved her gun's barrel between the two women as her mind tried to come to grips with recent events. "And why should I trust you? Huh," she screeched. "You've been lying to us for months now! Who are you working for?"
Her hands still up, Mitsuki shook her head. "No, you don't understand. Other than where we came from is the god's honest truth. We didn't want to lie to you, we just had to fudge some details otherwise your government would have locked us up and destroyed our way home."
"And just where do Angels call home," roared Misato. So furious was she, there was so much pain in her heart, that her words were punctuated with angry spittle. "Because she is certainly not human. What about you, eh Mitsuki? Where do I have to shoot you to find your core?"
"None of us are Angels," retorted Mitsuki desperately. She knew all too well how much her friend hated the Angels. The quicker she pushed those ideas out of Misato's mind the better. "Think about it, Ritsuko gave me a full physical right after I joined NERV. Would she've let me walk around if I was an Angel?"
That little piece of logic pierced the haze of pain surrounding her mind. "N-no, she wouldn't. But what about her," she asked while pointing the barrel of her weapon towards Ifurita. "I saw her flying. Nothing human can do that."
Ifurita cast an apologetic glance Mitsuki's way before moving her staff to her side. "You are correct. I am not human. I was made countless eons ago by the ancients of a world called El Hazard. I am the Demon God Ifurita and I would like it, if you should so wish, to be your friend."
Shinji heard all he needed to. Though there were some things he didn't know about them, they were still his family and now he needed to work to make things right. Moving from Misato's side, he reached out and put a hand on her arm. "Come on Misato, it's going to be all right. Let's listen to what they have to say."
Even as she let him push her arm down, Misato stared into Shinji's eyes. In their depths she saw a strength of conviction that made her legs weak. Right then she knew that she could trust his instincts even if hers were in doubt. "Okay," she said while flipping on her gun's safety. Like lightning Misato whipped her head around to pin Mitsuki with her gaze, "You're getting your chance. Say something I don't like and I start shooting. Got it?"
Mitsuki swallowed nervously at the unmistakable promise of pain in her friend's voice. Even with Ifurita at her side, she mentally put her money on Misato. "Got it. And I promise, everything from hereon will be the truth."
"It better. Shinji, be a dear and get me a drink. Something tells me I'm going to need it."
"Sure," smiled the young man. "What about you guys?"
"Water," chimed the two women as they sat on the nearby couch.
A few minutes later saw the three women, and one young man, all seated and nursing their various drinks. Nervous glances filled the air with a certain tension which was only pierced by the occasional sips taken by those in attendance. Finally, as the silence became too much to bear, Mitsuki sighed and placed her drink on the nearby table. "I guess this all started, for me at least, when Kazuki was having visions of another world . . . "
Over the next few hours Misato and Shinji listened to a series of tales so amazing that they strained the bounds of credulity. In fact, both of them would have probably long since dismissed it all as nothing but bunk if it weren't for the fact that Ifurita had flown around the room and they both knew more about the armored form, now known as Zinv, than anyone else. That Makoto and Kazuki were able to add further depth to the story when they arrived only increased the believability quotient.
By the time all the stories had reached their end Misato found herself no longer wanting to shoot the people before her, quite the opposite in point of fact. Ever since she'd met them the violet-haired woman always felt as if there was some dark secret hiding beneath their pleasant surface. It had been her, apparently erroneous, thought that said secret had something to do with their time in the wilds. There were many things which happened beyond the bounds of civilization and it was always her fear that one of them had been forced to kill someone for their own survival. Luckily those fears proved to be largely false, though in Ifurita's case they were actually lacking in severity. Still, one question yet to be answered.
"What I don't get is why, after all your work keeping everything secret, did you take the risk of flying out in the open."
Mitsuki looked at her blue-haired friend with a similar look of confusion. "Yes, I was wondering about that too."
Over the course of their talks Ifurita had felt herself emotionally leaving the dark feelings which had possessed her earlier in the day. With her friends' question all of it came back and she felt a block of ice form around her heart that not even Makoto's presence could melt. "Tell me Misato, what do you know of SEELE?"
The Major cocked her head as she tried to wrack her brain for a mention of whatever it was she as being asked. Something in the way the question was asked engendered a feeling of dread within her and she did her best to produce any information she could. In all of her searches, however, only a single instance came to mind, "Um, I know it's 'soul' in German but that's it."
"SEELE," spat the Demon God with disgust, "is the organization behind all of this. The Angels, the Second Impact, the EVAs, NERV, and everything else going on, SEELE is in the center of it all. They are a group of short-sighted fools who wish for the total destruction and enslavement of mankind. Each of them wishes to become a god in the new world order and today I showed one of their number the foolishness of such a goal."
"It was you, wasn't it," asked Shinji with a not small amount of fear. "You were the one who caused that explosion in Shinzuoka, weren't you?" When he heard what she had done on El Hazard his horror had been tempered by the knowledge that her actions were the result of another's wishes. The devastation she wrought upon this world though, that was another matter entirely.
Ifurita saw the fear in her young friend's eyes and it made her heart ache. Shinji was the last person she wished to have fear her, yet it was there all the same. "Yes, that was me. One of the SEELE council was there and I ended him, as I will end their entire band. Already their schemes have caused the deaths of half this world's population. In time they will see the rest burn as well. Their power within your bureaucracy is too great to simply oust from their positions. What is required is an outside force willing and able to dispatch each and every one of their insidious group."
From her position near Shinji, Misato could see that he was getting ready to object. Before he could she took his hand in her own and looked him in the eyes. For a moment Misato had to smirk at the change in stances. Just a short while ago it had been her who wanted to tear into them and it was Shinji who stopped her, now it was her turn to make him see the light. "She's right Shinji."
"But she's talking about killing people," he countered with the moral certainty that such things were wrong.
"I know she is. But if what she is saying about these SEELE people are true, then she's right." Seeing that he was about to refute her, she put a finger on his lips. "I mean it Shinji. You weren't even born yet when the Second Impact happened but I was at ground zero. I saw Adam rise above Antarctica before exploding. That, and the aftermath of that day, was so terrible that I didn't talk for years. I'd always blamed the Angels for it all but if I'd known it was a group of people who did it then you can bet your ass that I, and a whole bunch more people, would have been out there hunting them down. If Ifurita can kill SEELE then it's in everyone's best interests to let her."
"Y-you were really there?"
"Yes," she nodded sadly. Taking his hand, Misato moved it over a spot she could find even with her eyes closed. "Here. This is the scar I got that day." Not even the immense intimacy of having him touch her was enough to banish the darkness which accompanied that blemish. As he absently ran his fingers across the scar, she tilted his head up to face her, "Do you want them to hurt anyone else like this?"
Consumed by horror and arousal, Shinji shook his head sadly. "No. You're right. They've got to go." Though he knew it was the right thing to do, killing even one person still seemed wrong to him.
Ifurita caught the reluctant tone to his words and stepped over to him. Kneeling before her friend with imploring eyes, she said, "Believe me Shinji, if I thought there was any other way, I would gladly take it. Killing people, even ones as odious as SEELE, does not appeal to me. But think of it this way, each and every member of SEELE is like President Clark. They would rather see the world burn than let anyone else chart its destiny. And like Clark, should the authorities come for them it is probable that they would take their own life. None of these men will ever see the justice they deserve, so I will met it out on behalf of their victims."
At first he didn't want to acknowledge her, what she suggested was beyond the pale in his mind. When she mentioned Clark however, the remnants of his disgust vanished. He'd see those episodes too many times to want to actually live them. "A-are you sure there isn't another way," though asked, Shinji already knew the answer. Just as with the fictional Clark, there was only one way to end this.
"I'm sure," she answered with sad resolution.
Sitting as straight as he could, Shinji looked down into the expectant eyes of his friend. "Then stop them. Make sure the Earth stays un-scorched."
Gripping his free hand tightly she said, "I will."
And he knew she would. After the stories she told them there was no way Ifurita could fail in this. That did not mean however, that he wished for her to do it on her own. "I want to help."
From across the room Kazuki shook his head, "No Shinji. You're a pilot, you need to keep battling the Angels until they stop coming."
"Kazuki is right, Shinji," added Ifurita. "For right now the greater threat is the Angels. Only once they have been defeated will the Committee strike and by then I will have hopefully taken care of them."
"So you're telling me that all I can do is wait," asked Shinji with an unconscious pout. That was something a lot of people were asking him to do. There was a time when he'd happily wait for the ending of the world. Now the idea of waiting around doing nothing was becoming increasingly unpleasant.
Kazuki smiled grimly. "Believe me Shinji, I know how you're feeling. Waiting for the next battle is one of the hardest things to do but it's also one of the most important."
Misato once again took the young man's hand, "He's right. In the military they can train you for everything but the wait. That's something you have to learn for yourself."
Though he didn't like it, Shinji deferred to the experience of those who knew better. "Okay, okay," he sighed dramatically. "I'll fight the giant monsters while you guys worry about the shadowy bad guys."
Of all the secrets laid bare, all the truths told, Ifurita kept one to herself. Only her dearest Makoto knew the hidden truth surrounding one individual. It was thanks to his power that he had lived her life and through the experience could see the world as she did.
No one deserved to be made into a weapon, especially not without their informed consent. To gladly go out and sacrifice one's life because another built you to do so is a terrible thing. Even more so is the moment when you realize that all that you have done in another's name was nothing but a lie.
For a while now Ifurita had wondered why she felt such kinship with the perpetually disheveled Rei Ayanami. Now, in light of the information she liberated from the MAGI, the former Demon God knew why. Rei was, lamentably, herself only at the beginning of her long descent into horror. Only Rei's path was worse than hers because the poor girl could not even know the blessed release of death. Fortunately, it was a path Ifurita was committed to diverting her from.
Standing before the dirty door to Rei's apartment, Ifurita stared at the numbers with a not so small sense of apprehension. Though she was much better than the bad old days, the woman was well aware of her limitations with regards to conversation skills. Befriending the girl, steering her away from the fate Ikari had in store for her, would require such abilities in abundance. Under normal circumstances this was something Makoto would be perfect for but there was nothing normal about this and Ifurita had to do it on her own. She was so consumed with her examination of Rei's door that she actually gasped when it suddenly opened.
Rei blinked, her version of surprise, to see the compelling woman standing before her door. It had been her intention to engage in her daily exercises, a walk followed by laps in the NERV pool. She certainly never intended to have a visitor. Furthermore she found herself confused as to her own emotions on the matter. Of all those who could have appeared at her doorstep Ifurita was on a very short list of those whose presence she did not mind.
"Ifurita, why are you here?"
The blue-haired woman smiled, "If you are not busy, I thought we could talk."
Pilot Ayanami quirked her head, "For what purpose?"
"You remind me of myself when I was . . . younger."
"Somehow I doubt that," said Rei with serious detachment. After all, who else out there was a creation of another. No one could know what it was like to live one's life solely for another's purpose.
Had she not been in the possession of certain information Ifurita would have never dared argue lives with anyone. Every person, in her admittedly limited experience, was different and to assume they were all the same was as foolhardy as it was insulting. But in Rei she could see herself. Superimposed over the mop of blue hair was her own elegant tresses. The poor girl even had the same resolute fires dancing in her eyes that Makoto had seen in within her. "You are always the outsider," she started knowingly. "Among a crowd you do not know what to do. The actions of others are as fascinating as they are painful. And even as that pain assails you, you do not know why it is there. Am I close?"
The question was, ultimately, superfluous. Rei's face telegraphed every ounce of surprise she felt in startling high-definition. Others had tried this in the past. They would speak on how they 'knew' what it was like to be her. Inevitably every one of them were wildly off the mark. Not so with the woman standing before her. And it was not just the words, though those had a certain ring of understanding about them as well. There was a certain quality to her voice, a tonality that Rei could not easily quantify, which reached into her and sparked something within her. "How?"
"Like I said," smiled Ifurita warmly, "you remind me of myself."
Where once doubt reigned within her small frame, now Rei heard those words and understood how true they were. Somehow, by some working of fate which was unimaginable to her, Ifurita did know her. Obviously the increasingly intriguing woman could not know anything about her purpose, but she possessed a knowledge of the person inside her earthly shell. "S-so I see. This pain you speak of . . . does it ever fade?"
"I can not speak for others, but for me it has." And oh how it had fled from her. Thanks to Makoto the way was opened and in this place everyone around her seemed to flow in and sooth a little bit more of that monstrous agony.
For the first time in her entire existence Rei felt a spark of something form within the depths of her soul. A warmth she had never encountered previously sparked into be being. It was small, no more than an ember struggling for life amongst a vast icy landscape, yet its presence was both remarkable and magnificent. "Can you show me how to make it go away?"
"I can not make any promises," warned Ifurita, "but I will try my best to save you from it."
Author's Notes: And so it begins . . . Wow, we had a real stumbling block thrown into the whole scenario, haven't we? Now just so you all will know, I've been planning this for a long time. Both Ifurita's final success in her efforts against the MAGI and the revelation of hers and the other's extra-dimensional origins was something I've been working towards for ages. Plus I even got to work in a SEELE death. **SPOILER ALERT** Expect more to come. **END SPOILER**
Also this chapter marks a turning point in the story. As many of you have noted, I've said a lot of stuff without actually doing anything. Unfortunately it takes a lot of effort to build a suitable base from which changes could be made. I had to start out small so that the big changes coming didn't blindside you guys. Now that the big changes are made, expect them to start coming faster and more frequently. (Just don't expect the chapters to be written any faster. I'm working on my third novel as I write this and its the second I've done this year alone. I'm only human you know!)
Speaking of changes, expect some payoff on several plot threads in the next few chapters. If you are taking count of the Angels, we've pretty much worked through the really goofy ones and now we're getting into the ones which impacted both the series and this story the most. I hope you enjoy the ride.
Until next time I am always,
King of the Wicker People