Fear

Where They Ruled Then

Shin Seiki Evangelion was created by Hideki Anno, and is owned by Gainax.

Mythos elements were created by H. P. Lovecraft and owned by Arkham Publishing. Byatis was created by Robert Bloch. Ithaqua and Cthugha created by August Derleth. Summanus, Mnomquah and Cthylla created by Brian Lumley. Ythogtha was created by Lin Carter. Mordiggian created by Clarke Ashton Smith. Cyäegha was created by Eddy C. Burtin.

Use of the characters and situations therein are not intended as any challenge of their copyrights.

Gendo stood angrily. "I did not authorize deployment of Unit Zero."

"Nonetheless, I am ready to deploy." Rei tapped controls on the plug console. "Please clear the route to the surface."

"Rei!" Gendo ground his teeth. "I forbid this! Remember your place."

"My place is at his side."

"This is not why I created you!"

"I am not your puppet." Rei's voice was calm, cool. "I choose my own path. If the route to the surface is not clear, I shall be forced to carve my way out."

"Lieutenant Ibuki. Increase the pressure in the plug, and render the Pilot unconscious."

"I can't." Maya shook her head. "We didn't activate remote telemetries, just the sensory gear."

"Katsuragi!" Gendo whirled to face the Captain. "Activate all restraints, and shut down the catapult."

Misato hesitated, then turned back to the screen. "Hyuuga, open all hatches."

Hyuuga swallowed. "Route to surface confirmed clear by visual inspection."

"Captain—"

"Evangelion, Unit Zero, launch!"

"No!"

Gendo's shout of rage was drowned out by the sound of the catapult firing. Misato turned and glared at him.

"This is my battle. You can feel free to kill me, if you think you'll be able to direct those two in combat."

Gendo slowly sat down. "I do not need to. When Shinji learns that you have just sacrificed Rei for nothing, he will kill you himself. If Cthulhu does not reach us first."

Fear

Nineteen: Where They Ruled Then

Zerogoki burst from the catapult, the Flow enhancing his leap into the sky. Deep within him, Rei found herself falling deeper in the Dream than she had thought possible.

This will be the last time We fight together.

WE HAVE SEEN THIS. THERE IS NO WAY THAT WE CAN SURVIVE AGAINST CTHULHU.

Then all that remains for Us to do is to save Our Sister.

AT LONG LAST, WE SHALL BE FREE. FREE OF THE TYRANNY OF SHUB-NIGGURATH, FREE OF THE OPPRESSION OF THE SLEEPERS. FREE FROM THE PAIN.

Their armour warped, and burst from Their body, freeing their wings. They unfurled, catching the wind, and summoned Their barrier.

Below them, in the strange city, Their Sister was pinned against a building by Cthulhu. His tentacles dug into her body, questing for the life-force of his mother/daughter. Their wings tucked, the Lance appeared unbidden in hand, and They dove.

The impact of their landing smashed a crater into the streets, and the Lance swung down, severing Cthulhu's tentacles. He staggered back, roaring in pain. The Lance swung again, catching him across the head and carving a bloody furrow. They spun. A massive fist smashed into his head, energy roaring in brilliant arcs as Their form was cancelled by his, and he flew backwards, smashing into a building.

They followed, Lance held to impale, and drove it into him, piercing him through to the building behind them. Their body smashed into him, arcs again forming and sparking around Them. Still They clung to him, despite the terrible pain wracking Their body.

And Cthulhu laughed.

FOOLISH. I GROW STRONGER FROM YOUR ENERGIES, NOT WEAKER. THERE IS NO WAY THAT YOU CAN DEFEAT ME.

They knew it for truth, but grimly continued to hold. More and more energy coursed between them, draining from Their body to his.

EVEN SHOULD OUR PLAN BE FULLY SUCCESSFUL, CTHULHU MAY GAIN TOO MUCH POWER FOR SHOGOKI TO BE ABLE TO DEFEAT HIM.

Part of them knew this, and knew that there was only one way to damage him enough to give Shinji his chance.

WE KNEW FREEDOM WOULD COME OF THIS.

But we will not see him again.

WE WILL NOT. BUT YOU SHALL.

She felt herself fall away from the Dream, and hurriedly began tapping controls. A communication screen sprang open, and Misato's face appeared within it.

"Rei! What the hell are you doing? You're making it stronger!"

"Not for long, Captain Katsuragi." She completed her preparations. "I must return to the Dream. It has been an honour to serve with you."

"Rei—"

"Please tell Shinji that my last thought was of him."

The communication screen snapped shut, and she dove back to the Dream.

All is ready.

THEN THE TIME FOR FREEDOM IS AT HAND.

Already They could feel the fire burning in Their veins, as Their body turned on itself. Their skin glowed incandescent.

Shinji!

The explosion rocked the command deck.

"Rei!" Misato whirled to face Maya. "What the fuck happened?"

"I've still got two high-energy signatures, but both are clearly identifiable as EVA." Maya shook her head. "Did she get it?"

Misato turned to the hood, and peered through. It took her a moment to find a working camera, and another to find the blast area. Smoke still roiled around the building, but something moved within.

Cthulhu stepped from the flaming wreckage, to all apearances completely unharmed from the thunderous blast.

"Negative, negative! Target is still mobile!"

"What the fuck does it take to put that thing down?" Aoba was starting to come unglued. "We've nuked it, we've sent two EVA against it, one of them blew up right in its lap! We're fucked!"

Gendo rose from his seat. "Sound evacuation. Both EVA units are destroyed, and it is only a matter of time before Cthulhu reaches Terminal Dogma."

"We—"

"We've lost!"

"No!" Misato slammed a fist down on her console. "We can still fight it. Shogoki is immobile, but not destroyed!"

"Before Rei so obligingly gave Cthulhu all of Zerogoki's energy, Shogoki might have won." Gendo scowled. "If you had not ordered Zerogoki into combat—"

"Cthulhu could have drained the energy from Shogoki just as easily."

"No, he couldn't!" roared Gendo. "If he could, he would have done so!"

"Movement on Unit One!" Hyuuga jumped to his feet. "Shinji is moving again!"

"It does not matter." Gendo shook his head. "All that can happen is that he can cover our escape. Sound evacuation."

Misato considered him, long and hard. Then spoke.

"I swore an oath, sir. To protect this world from the Old Ones." Her hand clasped her cross. "You do not have the authority to discharge me from my oath."

She turned back to the technicians.

"Status of EVA Unit One?"

"Umbilicus is severed, but power levels are not dropping."

"Patch me in."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Shinji."

His voice was weak. "Rei...She's dead."

"Yes. But she may have weakened Cthulhu enough to defeat him."

His voice changed, and she felt the hairs rise up on the back of her neck.

"You lie to Us, Dreamer of Water. He is not weaker, but stronger. But the Dreamer Rei has given Us the key to victory."

They pulled themselves upright, and faced the Old One as he approached.

YOUR BROTHER WAS FOOLISH. He raised his hands, stared at the crackling energy between them. HE HAS GIVEN ME MORE POWER THAN EVEN CTHYLLA'S SOUL COULD GRANT. I SHALL NOW TAKE WHAT IS MINE.

As you wish.

They opened Themselves, and allowed the essence of Cthylla to pass between them. Cthulhu staggered back in shock, as the soul of the Old One Cthylla merged with his own.

And cancelled it out.

Zerogoki did not die in vain. Rei did not die in vain. You absorbed Their energies, but at a cost.

Cthulhu fell to his knees.

Your energies have changed. They have become as ours. And the energies of an Old One are opposite.

Arcs ran across his body, flashing to the streets, the buildings, the power lines. His frame dwindled, crumpling inwards on itself.

And so they cancel each other out, leaving you with only the power you stole from Zerogoki. Lessened by the amount you spent recovering after They sacrificed themselves.

They raised the gun pod, and chambered a round.

And now, you are least among the Old Ones. They smiled, cracking the helmet, and bared Their teeth. We have already defeated far stronger than you.

EVEN IN MY WEAKENED STATE, THAT SLEEPER-MADE TOY CANNOT HARM ME.

That may have been true, save that the bullets are formed from the bones of an Evangelion.

His eyes widened.

They pulled the trigger. The gun pod roared, explosive shells hammering Cthulhu's form and spraying flechettes of bone shards throughout his body. They held down the trigger until the gun pod ran dry, then cast it aside.

Cthulhu bled from a hundred wounds, but still had not crumpled. They strode forward, the Lance springing to life in Their hand. They stepped up beside him, and raised the Lance.

For Rei.

The Lance came down, severing his head from his body.

"No!" screamed Keel. His fist smashed down into the table, the brittle bones shattering, but he did not feel the pain.

"Gendo's betrayal is complete," observed Yamahito. "Both Cthulhu and Cthuylla are lost, and neither can regenerate without the other."

Keel turned to him. "We cannot allow this sacrelige to pass unpunished. Deploy the JSSDF. I want NERV destroyed utterly."

Yamahito nodded. "As you wish."

"Recovery is complete." Maya examined her board, then looked over at Misato. "Pilot extraction will take about ten minutes."

Misato blew over her cup of coffee, and grinned. "Last time. Make sure we do it right."

"It would be embarrassing to lose him again, wouldn't it?"

"Yeah, especially after—" She broke off as an alarm wailed to life. "What's happening?"

Aoba stared at his monitor. "Intrusion. Someone's trying to hack the MAGI."

"Cut the hard line."

"Yes, ma'am." He twisted a control, then stared in shock. "Pyrotechnic charges failed to detonate."

Misato grabbed the telephone and punched in a number. She waited long seconds, and said, "No answer from that sector's sub-control note." She punched another number. "No answer from the front gate." She dropped the phone, and turned to Maya. "Give me a security cam on the front gate."

The screen cleared, to show the front gate standing open, the guards dead on the ground.

"It's DAGON." Fuyutsuki sighed. "They've decided to take vengeance for Cthulhu."

"How could they—wait. Vengeance?"

Gendo answered her question. "It has always been their plan to pave the way for Cthulhu's return, by removing his enemies among the Old Ones."

"You were helping them?"

"They thought so." Gendo smiled tightly. "I wanted them all dead, not merely most of them."

"How could they hit us so quickly?"

"They have been observing us for at least the last month."

"Sound intruder alert." Misato pulled a key from her pocket, and unlocked the weapons locker. "Everyone grab a firearm. Hyuuga, can you seal us off from the troops in the building?"

"I think so. But Shinji—"

"I'll get him up here."

"Aw, fuck." Hyuuga stared at the screen. "The intruder program is trying to lock all the doors open."

"Can you bypass it?"

"Not from here. I might be able to lock out the intruder, though."

"Do your best." Misato grabbed the phone again, tapped in another number. This time, she got an answer.

"Cages."

"This is Captain Katsuragi. What is the Pilot's condition?"

"Physically unhurt, but...I think he's in shock or something."

"Get him up here, right away."

"Yes, ma'am."

The doctor hung up the telephone, and walked back to the plug.

"Shinji."

"She's dead." Shinji sat in the plug, legs pulled up to his chest. "She died, to save me."

"It's over. You've killed the last one."

"It is over." He did not look up. "I finally told her. And now she's dead."

"You need to go to the command deck."

"Why bother." He snorted. "My father orders me there? So he can tell me I'm no longer needed? Already figured that one out."

The doctor sighed, and glanced at the two nurses at his side. "Drag him out of there, if you need to. The Captain wants him on the command deck."

The nurses turned to follow his instructions, but Shinji stood, and climbed out of the plug. "Misato needs me? Not my father?"

"Yeah."

He turned and took a step towards the door, but staggered. One of the nurses grabbed him, pulled him upright.

"Asuka..." He took another step forward, towards a draped gurney.

"You can't help her." The doctor shook his head. "She was shot multiple times, and still managed to kill both the guards."

"Why—"

It was the male nurse who answered him. "Rei got up in the middle of us trying to help her, and walked off. Asuka got up right behind her, and we followed Asuka." He indicated two other gurneys. "These goons tried to stop them, and Asuka went nuts on them."

"She must have known," said Shinji. "She knew what Rei was planning, and helped her do it." He staggered again, grief hitting him anew.

"Careful, kid. You just had a helluva fight. If you want, we can get you a wheelchair."

"I'm fine." He shook his head. "I...I need to get to the command deck."

"Take it slow. We'll be right behind you."

The door opened, and three men stepped in. All were dressed completely in black, and all three carried submachine guns. The doctor looked up in surprise. "What the—"

One of the machine guns fired, bullets slamming into the doctor. The startled expression on his face did not fade as he crumpled to the ground. One of the nurses dove to the side, and was cut down. The third raised her hands, and stepped in front of Shinji.

"I don't know who you are, but you don't need to—"

The assassin didn't hesitate, merely shot her. Shinji stared in shock as she crumpled. Then looked up at the assassin.

"She was unarmed!"

"Doesn't matter." The assassin raised his gun. "Shinji Ikari, for your heresy and treason against the Old Ones, you are sentenced to death."

He leaped forwards, closing the distance between them in far less time than even he expected. His hand knocked the man's gun into the air, causing bullets to ricochet off the ceiling, and then his foot came up, driving into the man's testicles. His grip on the gun weakened, and Shinji pulled it from his hands and clubbed him across the face with it.

He fell away, hands coming up to cover his face. Shinji dived and rolled, bullets hammering into the ground behind him, and came up, gun pointed directly at the second assassin.

Aim at the center. Pull the trigger.

His finger tightened on the trigger, and the gun spat a three-round burst, putting the man down for the count. He brought the submachine gun around, and put the next three rounds into the third man's face.

A heavy boot slammed into his head, and the gun clattered across the floor. He pulled himself to his feet, to see the first assassin, face bleeding, draw his sidearm and level it at him.

"Sorry, kid. Nothing personal."

A massive purple fist slammed down on top of him, crushing the life from him like a mosquito. Shinji looked up in shock, to see Shogoki, still within the tank of LCL, staring back at him.

"We've managed to lock out the attacking programs," reported Maya. "There's some kind of AI, defending the system."

"What kind?" Misato craned her neck over the top of the monitor. "I can't read this bloody thing upside down."

"It's a personality simulation. Shouldn't be of any use for this, but it's tied into almost every part of the computer."

"Way to go, Ritsuko," breathed Misato.

"Heavy fighting in C block," yelled Aoba. "They're getting closer."

"At least they haven't used an N2 mine on us."

"They cannot," said Gendo. "If they do, they know they will cause a terrible cataclysm."

The hatch slid open, and Shinji ran onto the control deck, submachine gun cradled in both hands.

"Shinji!" Misato turned. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah." He rubbed his side, gasping for air. "Ran into some bad guys. The whole facility is crawling with them."

"DAGON will be intent on killing everyone in the facility." Gendo scowled. "But in particular, they will want Asuka, Shinji and me."

"Asuka's dead." Shinji scowled. "I found her outside the cages. She'd been shot."

"You're kidding!" Misato's jaw gaped. "I thought she was brain-dead."

"Nigoki's mind was in her body, remember?"

"And they found you, but you beat them."

"Three of them. I avoided the rest. Most likely, they'll be trying to get here."

"They are," confirmed Hyuuga. "I've been sealing bulkheads around them, trying to steer them away from here, but they've overridden some."

"So they're after you and Gendo?" Misato smirked. "Well, we'll just have to make sure that they don't get what they want."

She turned, drew her sidearm in one smooth motion, and fired.

Gendo staggered back into his chair, staring in disbelief at the bloody hole in his chest. Misato stalked forwards, the gun at full extension, her off hand cupping the base.

"Now then. My oath is discharged. The last of the Old Ones is dead." She smiled cruelly. "And that means that there is no further use for you."

Gendo scrabbled for his gun, but Misato fired again, this time hitting his right wrist. He stared up at her, his breath coming in bloody rattles.

"You fool. One remains, in Terminal Dogma."

"Imprisoned." Shinji nodded. "I can take care of him in short order."

"The DAGON Council's soldiers will reach this deck very soon. You need me to intercede with them."

"Not at all true." Kouzou Fuyutsuki smiled tightly. "By destroying both Cthulhu and Cthylla, you have guaranteed that they will show no mercy."

"I am the commander of this facility!"

"Not any more." Misato carefully sighted down the length of the pistol. "This facility is no longer needed."

His eyes turned to Shinji. "Pilot Ikari. I order you to place Captain Katsuragi under arrest. The charge is mutiny."

Shinji said nothing, merely stood and stared at him coldly.

"That is a direct order! Stop her!"

Shinji glanced over at Misato. "I must proceed to Terminal Dogma, and destroy Shub-Niggurath."

"Understood, Pilot Ikari."

"Shinji!" Gendo's voice was becoming frantic. "Stop her."

Shinji glanced back down at him. "Unfortunate." His voice was terribly cold. "I was hoping that you were ready to be a man."

Gendo's eyes widened in horror.

The pistol spoke once more.

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