"We're sorry, due to a special emergency all lines are currently down and thus the number you are currently trying to reach is unavailable. Thank you for your patience at this time."
The same message he must have heard 10 times already droned on without Shinji paying much attention to it. It had been nearly an hour since the train had dropped him off just outside of Tokyo 3; in that time he hadn't seen a single living being as he walked all the way to the place where he was supposed to get picked up, and then wandered around the streets looking for this payphone when no one came for him. Save for a few military helicopters and VTOLs that had flown overhead he would have believed the city to be a ghost town. Come to think of it, it was more than just 'a few' military air crafts. Every five minutes or so there was another four or five of them passing overhead, all heading in the same direction. It was more than somewhat unnerving, especially with the alert messages playing over the urban intercoms; declaring the area in a state of emergency.
More unnerving still though was how deserted the place looked for an area under an apparent 'emergency'. Clearly everyone had been evacuated, but from 'what' Shinji couldn't fathom, especially considering the train was still running and had actually dropped him off. That pretty much ruled out the possibility of any sort of military invasion, but then why the apparent need for air supremacy the JSSDF was showing?
All of this was flying way over the 14 year-old boy's head but he had a sinking feeling that his father had something to do with all of this. It wasn't every day that a man like Gendo Ikari suddenly demanded that his son pay him a visit. In fact it wasn't every 'decade' it happened either since Shinji hadn't so much as heard a word from his father since he was a young child. Either way none of it mattered now, it was clear that trying to contact anyone by phone at this point was just going to be a further exercise in futility. He took a glance at the somewhat 'risque' picture of the woman that was supposed to pick him up, lip-stick-print sealed signature and all, and sighed; somewhat disheartened by the situation.
"Well, I guess it's no use after all. I doubt I'll be meeting her here now of all times. I had better hurry up and get to a shelter like everyone else."
Just as he said this however he heard the roar of VTOL engines once more; the only difference being that now they were coming from the same direction they'd previously been heading to, and there was a lot more of them. Before he could wonder what they were all doing, they all fired a volley of rockets towards a single spot in the air. Even at the distance he was from the resulting explosion, the loud bang it created made Shinji put his hands over his ears in order to shield them. From the floating fireball came flying an unidentifiable green projectile roughly half the size of one of the VTOLs. It impacted with one of the aircraft at high speeds, crashing into it and knocking it out of the air before seemingly bouncing off it and going after another VTOL, a glowing purple shimmer accompanying it now.
The projectile was too small and moving too fast for Shinji to make out what it could possibly be at this distance, but what he could very clearly see was the VTOL that had originally been hit by it spinning out of control ad coming towards HIM.
he ran away from his position as far as his little scrawny legs could carry him and the military vessel crash landed only about a block away from where he was only a few moments later. He turned to see the wreckage. if for no other reason than shock and morbid curiosity in assessing the damage done to the VTOL. The airplane was wrecked beyond repair and smoke was coming from the engine, but he saw the cockpit be slowly forced open by the pilot who had somehow managed to soften the landing enough that he didn't loose consciousness on impact.
For a furtive moment Shinji considered running over to the wreck and helping the man out of the smoking deathtrap, but an instant later the same green projectile as before came crashing into the VTOL a second time. it was then that he saw its true shape. As it stood up from the landing the projectile was revealed to be a disfigured, humanoid green giant with a terrifying 'face' in its chest looking something like a bird mask hanging above a great red orb. Upright, it stood as tall as three or four full grown men and just looking at it filled Shinji with a strange sense of terror he could understand. Of course the thing 'looked' scary with its trident-like hands and bone-plated shoulders and bird-mask face; It looked like a bad science-fiction movie alien brought to life. But what was disturbing about it was how 'different' it felt. There was something about it that was fundamentally at odds with Shinji and every other living thing he had ever seen or heard about. Whereas the fear froze Shinji in place however, the pilot of the VTOL reacted with aggression, pulling out a sidearm and shooting ineffectually at the horrendous green giant. As a result, the monstrosity lifted up its arm and the long bone-like pike that extended out of its elbow slid into the arm and came out of the creatures palm wrapped in a mauve light as if it was itself a blade made purely of energy. The giant plunged its pike into the VTOL, hitting the fuel tank and making the wrecked aircraft go up in a massive explosion that incinerated the pilot.
On instinct the young boy shielded his eyes from the bright light of the explosion, not noticing the roar of a car engine come close to him due to the noise of jet fuel igniting and aircraft metal being torn like tissue paper by sheer explosive force. When he took his hands away from his face he saw a bright blue sports car parked in front of him. The passenger door opened in front of him ad inside was seated the same woman from the picture earlier, smiling confidently at him.
"Sorry for making you wait, now get in!" she ordered him with hurry but no harshness in her voice.
Shinji looked back towards the green monster only to see it jump up in the air and fly off to continue it's fight with the Japanese military and then obeyed the command without any word or further hesitation, more than happy to get out of this waking, Godzilla-themed nightmare.
* * *
Inside the georfont, at Nerv HQ mission control, the three Japanese commander-generals of the JSSDF were watching with increasing fury as the entity described as the 'third angel' by the Nerv officials decimated their aerial and land-based troops. Rockets, missiles, tank shells, armour-piercing rounds, nothing was even touching that monster as it effortlessly jumped, flew and ran across the battlefield, destroying whatever was in its way. The defence lines on the ground had been breached almost comically easily and even the aerial fighter's superior mobility was doing little to help them against whatever the hell this thing was.
While the military men barked out order after order, attempting to save face i this crushing battle, two men looked onto the screen calmly, already knowing exactly how this battle would play out. Sat in his Commander's chair behind the Japanese generals was Gendo Ikari, Supreme Commander of Nerv and spearhead of the Servant Soldier initiative. Standing by his side was a much older gentleman who contrasted the calm and quiet but concentrated and almost predator-like look Gendo was displaying with an air of relaxed, almost apathetic, composure towards the developments shown on the giant projector. This man was Kozou Fuyutsuki, Nerv's Sub-Commander working directly under Gendo.
"It would appear that it is in fact an Angel, as was predicted." commented Fuyutsuki calmly as he observed the angel mercilessly rip through the military forces before it.
One of the military generals snapped the pencil he was holding out of sheer irritation and banged his fist against the table fin frustration. "God Dammit! Why the hell is nothing slowing that monster down!?"
"It seems to be in possession of an AT field." continued Fuyutsuki calmly.
"Indeed. replied Gendo, not tearing his eyes away from the screen for a second. Conventional weapons will be completely useless against it."
"Shut up Ikari! barked one of the generals, turning around in his chair to face the Nerv Supreme Commander. Do you think we should put our faith in your ridiculous hocus-pocus, crack-pot theory when the fate of japan is at stake!? We real military men aren't completely out of options yet!"
Just as he said this a red phone-line rang and his comrade answered. The general smirked at Gendo and turned around to face the screen as the other general thanked the Prime-Minister and hung up the line.
"It's been authorized" he declared.
The order was given to lure the Angel towards the ground with a squadron of VTOLs and then keep it pinned there with continuous, relentless fire from the rest of the air force as they hastily retreated. The tactic was no more effective in damaging the monster than any f the previous ones were but it did manage to keep Sachiel (as the angel was identified) at bay for the time that was required. When the volley ended Sachiel observed that all of its opponents had fled the field of battle, stopping momentarily to consider the reason for this sudden chance in tactic it failed to take notice of the projectile being dropped from overhead until it was almost upon it. sensing the threat the angel lifted up its head only in time to see the N2 missile rocket into its AT field and detonate point-blank with the power of a standard low-yield nuclear weapon. The military generals stood from their chairs and cheered out as they observed the direct hit moments before the electromagnetic charge from the weapon knocked out their surveillance cameras. The same first general from before sat back in his chair and swivelled around to face Gendo and Fuyutsuki, a smug, confident grin on his face.
"Well Ikari, I'll hand it to you, that monster took everything we had to bring down, but I think we can both agree that this is pretty much a done deal. Doesn't matter how strong these 'angels' are, there isn't anything on earth that could survive being caught in a N2 weapon's blast radius, let alone point-blank detonation. Looks like your ridiculous 'spirit soldiers' are not going to be needed after all." he boasted in complete confidence, feigning humility at the beginning of his discourse for the sake of appearance.
Gendo Ikari looked just as focused as ever, his stone-like expression unbroken by the development. "We will see." was his only response to the taunts of the general before him, a fact that caused said general's confident smirk to sour into the form of an annoyed frown.
"Stubborn fool. growled back the man as he turned around to face the static-ridden monitor again. In a few moments the picture will come back and you'll see for yourself how your mighty 'angel' stood up to the JSSDF's military might and the strongest weapon in humanity's arsenal."
The following few moments were spent in thick silence as all of central dogma looked at the giant projector, waiting for the picture to come back. When it finally did, exclamations of both shock and anger were unanimous amongst the JSSDF. Not only had the angel NOT been obliterated by the blast, it was still standing, damaged, but mostly intact.
"Readings show that the Angel has only lost 20% of its mass! exclaimed a member of the Nerv personnel. AT Field is still active and the angel is regenerating! Movement is predicted to resume within the hour!"
"God dammit! exclaimed the previously boasting general as he slammed his fist on his desk. 20%!? You're telling me we'd have to hit it with 4 more N2 missiles before that monster went down?!"
"There is no way the Prime Minister will allow that." said one of his colleagues, the general on his right
"You think I don't know that!?" barked back the first commander general before sighing deeply and looking back at Gendo Ikari with a bitter glare. "Alright Ikari, We've done all we could. I loath to say this but orders are orders; we've had our shot, now it's time to see if you and your organization are worth the money the UN invests in you."
The Commander general on his left, who had been mostly silent up until this point looked down at Gendo coldly. "The fate of humanity rests on your shoulders Captain Commander Ikari, do not disappoint us."
With that, the desk that the JSSDF generals were sitting at was retracted into the floor through an elevator mechanism and the rest of the JSSDF personnel evacuated Central Dogma.
"So it seems that a Servant will be required after all. commented Fuyutsuki. Should I send for the Sabre-Class master?"
"No. replied Gendo calmly. All seen servants have to be summoned before the war officially begins." replied Gendo as he got up from his commander's seat and walked over to his personal elevator platform
"I was under the impression that we were still missing a Master to participate in this war." retorted Fuyutsuki.
"One is being delivered as we speak." declared the captain commander, punching in his desired coordinates in the platform's terminal and taking hold of the handle bar before disappearing underground.
* * *
Shinji groaned as he climbed his way out of the flipped over car. He still wasn't sure just how he had managed to avoid breaking anything when the blast wave from the N2 explosion sent he and the woman whom had come to pick him up, who he learned was Captain Misato Katsuragi from Nerv, tumbling off the road. For the moment though, ignoring a few bumps and bruises, he seemed to be no worse for wear. He took Miss Katsuragi's hand as she offered to help him climb out of the driver's door since the car had ended up lying on its side. Once out of the wreck he sat down on the ground, panting lightly as he tried to calm himself down and slow his racing heart. He saw the colonel put her hands up against the roof of the car to try and push it back on its wheels and was about to offer to help when, to his surprise, she seemed to be able to flip the car over to its side without any assistance or even that much effort. He looked at her with a somewhat dumbfounded expression and, for an instant, he thought he saw something like a blue hue hanging around the woman. He quickly rubbed his eyes and when he looked at her again the blue hue was gone. Figuring that he must have hit his head and his eyes were playing tricks on him, Shinji just shook his head lightly and pushed himself off the ground, getting to his feet.
"Well, that was plenty enough excitement for me today. he said in a weary tone. Figures that the day I take a step in Tokyo-3 Godzilla attacks."
Misato Katsuragi turned around and smiled at him. "What's with that tone you're taking now? You sound like a weary old man, aren't kids your age supposed to be cute and all full of energy?"
"Well, maybe some are..." replied Shinji, looking away, shrinking as he usually did when someone confronted him.
The captain sighed lightly. "Man what a depressive kid. well, like father like son I guess. she said as she turned back towards the car, going over to the hood and flipping it open, checking the condition of the engine. Anyways, you should get back in now; I still have to get you to Nerv and this baby looks like she'll still be good to drive."
Shinji listened to her demands and made his way over to the car, getting into the passenger's side as captain Katsuragi got behind the wheel again. Once she'd gotten the car started again and managed to steer it back on the road Shinji looked over to her and decided to speak what was on his mind, though his tone was still very much lacking in any conviction behind it. "So... you... know my father?"
Misato considered the question for a moment before answering. "Well, not personally of course, the commander always keeps to himself with that stern air around him, but I have worked in Nerv for a long time so I've had plenty of opportunities to be around him and sub-commander Fuyutsuki while working."
It was against his better judgment that Shinji followed up with his next question. "I see... I don't suppose he's ever mentioned me, has he?"
Misato hesitated before answering. She could tell from the kid' disposition what answer he was expecting, but at the same time she didn't really want to give him an excuse to go further back in his own shell. She felt uncomfortable whenever she was around people who were so openly wounded. "Well... The Commander always gives off an very professional air. Everything is business with him. I don't know if he's just dedicated to our work or if that's just his natural personality but I don't think I've ever even heard of him telling anyone about anything concerning his private life. I wouldn't go so far as to assume he doesn't have any friends or people he trusts, but if he does then they either aren't part of Nerv or he makes a point not to treat them any differently when at work."
She hoped that by steering the conversation towards the commander's own habits and personality it would help distract her charge from his own angst. The tactic seemed to be at least somewhat effective since Shinji nodded slowly to what she said and, rather than shrinking again, replied pensively. "I think that's just how he is all the time... The last time i saw him was three years ago but he and I didn't really talk. He just came by to talk with my caretaker about how I was 'coming along'. Hearing the two speak it was like listening to engineers talking about some new project in their department or something, everything was cold and orderly. I don't know what kind of work you do with my father, I know it's supposedly really important, but whatever it is it's turned him onto something that looks at everything around it and only sees if it has a purpose or not, and ignores whatever is 'useless'. I guess that's the kind of personality you have to have to be a 'Commander' in you guys' workplace."
"Hmm, maybe..." It was really all that Misato could reply to what Shinji had said. She didn't let it show but part of her was feeling uncomfortable being sat in the car with this kid. Of course part of her felt bad for what he'd been through, but at the same time his shrinking personality was hitting a bit too close to home for her and made her want to just force him to cheer up. She handed him the Nerv welcoming manual so he could read up on the facilities in Tokyo-3 and the rest of the drive was spent in heavy silence.
* * *
It was only about two hours later that Shinji finally got to where he was supposed to go. Once he and Ms. Katsuragi had gotten into Tokyo-3 proper they'd made their way into a military elevator that brought the car into a Nerv hangar before taking a skyway across the Geofront and into Nerv HQ itself. Once inside the massive sprawling complex, however, they started going around in circles, the complicated series of lifts, walkways, elevators and staircases confusing the captain even as she looked over a map she'd brought with her. In the end one of the captain's colleagues, a blonde, bespectacled woman in a lab coat named Ritsuko Akagi, had to come to the pair's rescue and guide them along their way, Ct Katsuragi clearly embarrassed ate getting lost inside her own base but thanking her friend for the assistance regardless.
They brought Shinji down deep into the base, past all other levels, until they reached a floor labelled "Terminal Dogma". Up till now Ritsuko had readily answered any of Shinji's comments or questions about the locations of the facility they passed by, but both women became notably quieter as they reached this level and led Shinji through its halls. Misato in particular seemed to be preoccupied thinking of something else.
They eventually came upon a large lake filled with orange liquid and crossed it thanks to a long walkway, making their way towards a pair of large doors. There were many things Shinji wanted to ask at this point but he couldn't bring himself to speak. Not only because of the grave expressions the two women leading him were feeling, but also because of a strange feeling he was getting from whatever was behind those doors. In one sense he felt terrified, as if there was something waiting for him there that he should never lay eyes upon. Similarly, however, he felt inexplicably drawn to the doors; feeling like what was waiting on the other side was something he had been waiting to see his entire life, or maybe had been waiting for him, beckoning him closer now despite his fear.
When the trio came upon the doors the massive slabs of what appeared to be limestone parted ways automatically, grinding against the ground roughly but with no sounds of machinery to be heard, lending to the thought that whatever was behind them was purposefully inviting them in. Inside, Shinji had a hard time making out anything. He followed after the two women, who seemed to know where they were headed, but the interior of the room was so dimply lit he could barely make out anything around himself. He could tell that the room they were in had to be very large because each of their footsteps made a shallow echo within the walls of the room. He could hear something like running water both beside him and somewhere in front, leading him to believe that this room might be the source of the orange liquid that filled the lake outside. after a while the two women came to a stop without a word. Shinji had, so far bee too busy trying to figure out exactly where they were to pay much attention to the situation but he now realized what an incredibly eerie position he'd been thrust in. It dawned on him that he was now probably several miles below the surface of the earth, judging by the series of elevators they had taken to get down here, and he was in a secluded room with two women he had never met before today, one of which was a trained military operative. He had no idea why he had been called here in the first place, or why he was being brought through the guts of Nerv HQ. He'd yet not heard a word about when he was supposed to meet his father and he now realized that it was very likely that he'd walked himself right into a lion's den by following these women. This, combined with the sense of foreboding that grew in the pit of his stomach, telling him he wasn't supposed to be here, made him consider simply turning tail and running away right now to try and get away from the two women. He realized, however, that there was no chance of escape where he was currently, and his only chance was to hope that this was just some elaborate scheme conducted by his father and that he wasn't in any real danger here.
To try and ease his own mind he cleared his throat loudly and addressed his two escorts. "Uhm, erh, Miss Katsuragi? Miss... Akagi, was it? Uhm, what are we, well, doing here?" he asked, somewhat meekly, glancing behind him to see exactly how far the door was just in case he really did have to run.
His voice seemed to snap both women out of the pensive state they'd been in since getting on this floor, but before either could answer him, a deep, stern voice boomed over an intercom. "So, you've finally arrived."
the voice was accompanied by a viewer's booth high above the three becoming illuminated showing Gendo Ikari standing inside, looking down on his son with an emotionless expression and stern eyes. Shinji could feel it now just as he'd felt it years ago every time is father came to 'visit'. All those eyes ever saw in Shinji was whether or not he had the potential to be 'useful', whether he 'deserved' to be around the 'great' Gendo Ikari or if he was just another useless inconvenience to be ignored. Feeling his father's gaze on him Shinji tightened his fists, feeling his nails dig into his palms, but looked down instinctively, unable to openly challenge the man as he continued talking.
"It has been a while son, I think it has been three years since we've last met?"
Shinji's jaw clenched tight. The way his father spoke those words with his uncaring and professional tone, it was almost like e was hearing a parody of what fathers were 'supposed' to say in situations like these. It made him shake and want to strike anything nearby because of how ridiculous this all was. However, all he did was rely to the statement quietly, without any defiance in his voice. "Yes father."
"Well, I'll get right to the point then." continued Gendo before lifting his hand beside him and snapping his fingers.
The previously dimly lit room was suddenly illuminated by many floodlights overhead, revealing to Shinji a white giant several stories high that was pinned to a cross on the other side of the room, the viewing booth right beside its massive head. The giant's legs were hanging limp from its torso, deep lacerations etched into the fluffy white flesh that made the same orange liquid that was outside run down the legs like fountain-work. This was the source of the noise Shinji had been hearing this entire time. The orange liquid fell into a large pool below the giant that in turn fed dozens of large groves dug into the floor of the room they were sitting in, forming rivers of the giant's orange blood that crisscrossed all over the floor. The arrangement of the groves made the entire floor of the massive room they were in seem like a giant, complex, circular diagram filled with esoteric shapes and lines. Only the circular platform Shinji and the women were standing on, along with the straight path they'd taken from the room's doors were untouched by the grooves, that all eventually led into the walls of the room, ostensibly redirecting the flow of orange liquid outside and into the giant lake that surrounded it.
Shinji had yet to notice any of these intricacies however, he was still looking unblinkingly at the great giant before him, eyes wide with awe and fear. The giant had a purple, seven-eyed mask adorning its face that, while the giant's head hung lifelessly to the side, Shinji could still wear was somehow peering directly at him. This giant was it, this unknowable thing was the source of the terror he'd been feeling the closer and closer he got to this room, the deeper he penetrated inside once he'd entered. Just looking at it made him feel sick to his stomach but at the same time he couldn't move his eyes away. He was entranced by the giant, feeling it pull his consciousness out of his body, sucking him in. He didn't understand what was going on, but the more he looked at teh giant the more shinji felt like he was on the verge of dying.
No, dying wasn't the right word. He felt like he was going to be erased completely. That he would be pulled into the giant like a child is taken in a mother's embrace and everything he was would be wiped clean from the face of the earth. It terrified him beyond what words can describe. He soon feel to his knees and gripped the sides of his head tightly, screaming at the top of his lungs in incomprehensible terror as he stared directly at the ground.
The order hadn't been shouted so much as it had been barked, like a master reprimanding a dog, and like a dog Shinji became quiet. It wasn't like his father's voice had banished the terror that had made Shinji collapse, the fear was still there, he was simply unable to vocalize it anymore, being reduced to heavy panting as he obeyed his father's command.
Seeing that his son had now grown as quiet as could be expected from someone who was first exposed to the giant, Gendo Ikari decided to continue from where he'd previously left off. "As you're undoubtedly aware Tokyo-3 is currently under attack. The creature that is attacking us is called an Angel, and it will not rest until all human life on earth has been wiped out. This white giant you see before you is called Lilith, it has the ability to summon soldiers, warriors from another realm called Servants, that posses the might to stand up against and defeat the angels. These warriors are our only hope against the angels, but they can't exist in this world alone, they need human vessels for their power, a master to anchor them in this realm. Six masters have already been found and bound to their Servants. Only one servant remains, it will be your duty to become its master Shinji. You will form a contract with Lilith and obtain the seventh servant, and then you will go to the surface to face the angel and defend Tokyo-3 from its rampage."
Shinji was still panting on the ground, but listening to his father had allowed him to clear his mind of the terror he'd felt from the giant enough that he could piece together what his father wanted of him and formulate a response. "No way."
Gendo Ikari's eyes narrowed behind his tinted frames and his retort was little more than a menacing growl "Hmm?"
Shinji was unsure what suddenly gave him the strength to argue against his father's wishes, but part of him felt that he was redirecting the rejection he was getting from the giant towards the insane commands his father was giving him. "You drag me out here to a god damn war zone, you put me in front of some freakish abomination, you feed me some insane story about angels and fighters from some magic realm, and then you ask me to contract myself to that thing so i can do your dirty work for you?"
He looked up at his father with a furious glare. "And that's all i am to you isn't it? You don't want me around, you didn't ask me to come by for a 'visit'. I'm just a tool for you, if I don't have a purpose there's no need for me to be around right? Well I can't do it, I can't be your damn 'Master'. I'm just a freaking kid! there's no way i can do any of this! You should have known that, so why the hell did you even bother calling for me!?"
Gendo remained unshaken by his son's outburst, replying instead with with crushingly adamant tone. "You were called to become the seventh Master, nothing else. If you are going to do it then cease your whining and ready yourself. If not then get out!"
Shinji knew, but hearing his father say outright that he had been called only to serve a purpose filled him with a sense of such deep bitterness that he could only look down and tighten his fists more. What was the point in arguing with a man like that anymore?