Fear

New Kinds Of Fear

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.

He was in a village.

Small houses crowded the narrow streets. Everywhere he looked, there were cats. Sitting on windowsills, standing on barrels, perched on fences. Staring at him.

He wandered through the streets and roads of the village. The houses were of a wide variety of constructions, mostly old. In the sky above, he could see two moons.

He turned a corner, and saw a girl.

The pale bluish hair was tossed by the wind, and her red eyes met his with a startling amount of intensity. The mask was gone; Rei's eyes burned with loneliness and fear.

He stepped towards her. "Rei?"

She ran to him, wrapped her arms around him, resting her head on his shoulder. He hesitated, and put his arms around the slender girl. He could feel her tears on his shoulder, as her body was wracked by sobs.

"Rei...can you tell me what's wrong?"

She shook her head.

"This is a dream, isn't it? We're sharing a dream?" He hesitated. "Here, you can tell me."

"You are afraid. When I touch you, you retreat." She released him, and stepped back.

"The sleeper awakens."

With those words, she faded from view, and the orange armoured form of Zerogoki took her place. Shinji stepped back, horrified, tripped over a cat...

...And sat bolt upright in his bed, gasping.

He could still hear Rei sobbing in her room.

Fear

Six: New Kinds Of Fear

It had been six days since the battle against Summanus, and Ritsuko had finally summoned Shinji to her office.

He glanced around nervously; Ritsuko held three doctorates, in computer science, biochemistry and medicine. Her office looked quite schizophrenic. Computers in various states of repairs, medical charts, and odd bits of material were scattered about the work bench. The office was also liberally decorated with cats; he thought back to his dreams, and wondered if there was a connection. An ashtray sat on her desk, overflowing with lipstick-stained cigarette butts, and a cup of coffee, stone cold and growing a fine skim of mold, sat next to it.

Ritsuko herself was leaning against the workbench, holding another cup, this one fresh and steaming. She noted his glance at the desk, and grinned. "It's been a busy few days, and I haven't been in here much." She sipped her coffee, then said, "I've got a few things I want to discuss today, but we'll start with the important one. What do you know about EVA?"

Shinji thought about this. "Well, I've been told that they're giant robots built to fight the Old Ones."

"Nice try." Ritsuko grinned.

"They're not robots." Shinji looked down. "I kinda realized that the first time I piloted Shogoki."

"They are biomechanical constructs, developed by your father."

"You said, the first time I saw Shogoki, that Father invented her."

"Her?"

Shinji nodded. "Shogoki is female. I could feel that. Zerogoki is male. Shogoki called him her brother."

"Maybe that's where we went wrong," mused Ritsuko. "I knew they were somewhat alive, though not as we know life. But I didn't realize that they were alive and intelligent."

Shinji looked up. "You said that you didn't understand the technology that went into them?"

"Yes." Ritsuko sat down. "Take a seat."

He complied. She sipped her coffee again, and said, "Sixteen years ago, your parents were involved in an expedition to Antarctica. There, your father discovered a life-form. Even the fact that it was a life-form was at best a guess, as it was not composed of normal matter."

"Not normal matter?"

"No." Ritsuko shook her head. "Normal matter is composed of particles, except for light, which has properties of both particle and wave. This creature also had properties of particle and wave, but not the same way as light. It definitely had mass and volume, but it was impervious to most forms of analysis. Light has neither mass nor volume, but lends itself well to analysis.

"But the team of scientists working on it managed to detach a sample. A small team, including your parents, were sent back to Tokyo with this sample. A day after they left, the base was destroyed by a massive explosion."

"Second Impact."

"Yes." Ritsuko grinned. "Theorists believe that Second Impact was caused by a meteor strike, but why it would land square on the base-camp of the Antarctic Expedition puzzles me."

"Could Second Impact have been caused by that...life-form?"

"Perhaps. But the fact is, there was only one survivor of Second Impact. A fourteen-year-old girl." Ritsuko stared down into her coffee. "It was two years before she could even speak again, and when she recovered, she said that she didn't remember the events of Second Impact at all."

Shinji paused, to process this information, then asked, "So what does that have to do with EVA?"

"Simple." Ritsuko pulled a cigarette out of the pack in her pocket, and lit it. "Your parents designed EVA by cloning the life-form. They grew the flesh over a metal skeleton, and added the armour as a means of control."

He jumped to his feet. "So they aren't robots at all!"

"In a way, they were meant to be. Your mother couldn't clone brain tissue, so they have complex computers to interface with the plug. Making the pilot the brain. And their skeletons are metal. So they are more like cyborgs than either pure life-forms or robots."

"But it doesn't work that way." Shinji shook his head. "They may not have brains, but they are intelligent. And Zerogoki is dangerously insane."

"We know that Unit Zero is...unstable; the first time we tried to activate it, it killed its pilot. The second time...Well, you saw how Rei came out of that."

"She wasn't so good after the third time, either."

Ritsuko raised her eyebrows. "At least she wasn't hospitalized."

"I guess." Shinji sighed.

"Somehow, you talked her through activation. How did you know to do so?"

"I'd fought with Shogoki twice before. I was doing badly, when I was trying to control her. Since then, I've found that I need to work with her."

"A partnership, not a master/slave relationship."

"Yeah."

Ritsuko turned to one of the computers, and tapped a key. Shinji gaped at the sight of himself, writhing in the plug and screaming. He took a step forward, and touched the screen.

"What the hell..."

"This was recorded from your fight with Summanus." Ritsuko sighed. "We added the plug video recorder after the second fight. Your battle with Ithaqua had been recorded, audio only, and you were screaming just as badly."

He staggered back a step.

"Tell me," asked Ritsuko. "Does this look like a partnership?"

He shook his head, numbly. "What about Rei?"

She tapped a key, cutting off the video. "Sure you want to see?"

"Yes." He looked at her. "I don't want to cause her that kind of pain."

She considered, then asked, "How are you and Rei getting along?"

"Well..." He looked down. "The last week has been kind of hard. She hasn't spoken to me at all. At least she isn't taking snipes at me any more."

Ritsuko tapped a key again, and the screen now showed the inside of Rei's plug. And the girl, curled up in fetal position.

"She's not screaming." Shinji looked relieved.

"She only spoke once through the entire battle, just before the end. I asked how you two—"

"Shinji!"

He jumped at the roar. Even at her angriest, Rei had never raised her voice; now, she howled as though all the Demons of Hell were on her tail. A cry of fear and rage. He shivered.

Ritsuko tapped the monitor, which now showed Rei curled back up. "Just after that, she rammed an energy lance into Summanus, and blew him to fragments." She turned off the monitor. "How does it feel to know that your fiancee is using your name as a battle cry?"

He shivered again. "She might just have been mad at me."

"Her sync rate jumped over one hundred percent. She was literally one with the EVA at that point."

"Doctor!" The intern looked up from his instruments. "We've got EEG activity. Lots of it!"

"What?" The doctor walked over. "Impossible. That patient is just this side of being a houseplant."

"I know. But we've got massive beta and gamma spikes." He indicated the chart. "Here, and here. Delta levels have been creeping up, as well—" He broke off. "Massive delta spike."

"That's impossible. You can't have a delta spike during beta activity." He glanced up at the patient behind the glass. "Her eyes are still closed, and she's not moving. Your spikes must be artifacts."

The intern touched the self-diagnostic button. "No, Doctor. It's clean."

The girl's eyes snapped open.

Rei dropped the cup. It shattered at her feet, spraying her legs with scalding tea. She barely noticed.

"Ythogtha."

"Impossible." Fuyutsuki scowled at her. "Ythogtha lies in the Dreamlands, locked away from Earth."

"Ythogtha comes. He has entered the mind of a Sleeper."

Fuyutsuki considered, then picked up the telephone.

"Ikari."

"Gendo!" Fuyutsuki's voice was nervous. "Is there any record in the Book of Ythogtha ever coming to Earth?"

"I will check."

The Book was, in fact, a collection of scrolls. Gendo extracted one, unrolled it carefully.

"If Ythogtha comes to Earth, it will be by inhabiting the body of a Sleeper." Gendo considered. "I do not know what he will do. But I think it would be best to send an EVA to the surface. Sound evacuation, then launch EVA-00."

"EVA-01 has better sync rates, and they've just finished—"

"No." Gendo smiled. "If Ythogtha comes, I want our most powerful Dreamer to face him."

The evacuation alarm sounded.

Toji looked up in disgust. "Great. Perfect timing."

The flower vendor sighed. "At least they've started giving us enough warning."

"Yeah." Toji picked up the flowers he had just purchased. "There's a shelter under the hospital. I'll have time to get these to Chouko before the-"

An explosion rocked the street. Toji staggered, and turned to look.

The hospital was only two blocks away, and he could see smoke and flames leaping up from the fifth floor. "Oh, no...Chouko's room!"

He turned and ran towards the hospital. He could see the steel shutters covering the doors, and knew he wasn't going to make it before the building began to sink into the Geofront.

The shutters buckled, warped, and fell outward. Toji stopped cold in his tracks, and stared.

Between the shattered remnants of the shutters stood a girl. His sister. She stalked from the building with the air of a conquering queen. A hospital gown was loosely arranged around her, far too little protection against the cold of the autumn evening, but she showed no discomfort of any sort.

The building next to him emitted a sharp noise, like fingernails on chalkboard, and red lights started flashing. He leaped clear as two massive doors opened, to reveal an orange armoured behemoth.

"An Evangelion—?"

The EVA raised a gun pod, chambered a round, and sighted down on Chouko.

"No! Bastard!" Toji charged the EVA, but a sudden blast caught it and him, and he blacked out.

"Sweet merciful God."

Misato stared at the carnage. EVA-00 was down, its armour fused and charred. Six buildings had been smashed by some sort of kinetic wave, far too powerful for EVA's fields to repel, and were starting to burn.

The command deck's hatch slid open, and Shinji and Ritsuko ran in. Ritsuko turned immediately, seated herself at her monitor station.

"MAGI are not reporting the wave pattern of an Old One. What the hell's going on?"

"That girl..." Shinji stared at the image of the girl on the monitor. "She's Toji's sister?"

"Suzuhara Chouko." Misato nodded. "Rei detected her. How did you know?"

"I don't know." Shinji glanced over at the EVA's monitoring station. "Zerogoki is down for the count. I'd better get my plug suit on."

"Nein."

He turned, to see a slender girl with red-gold hair. She wore a red plug suit, and was fitting A20 clips to her head. She glanced up, and he gasped in recognition.

"You!" He pointed at her, jaw agape. "I dreamed of you!"

"Der verrückte Idiot. Du wirst nicht benötigt. Ich bin der bessere Pilot." She smirked, then switched to Japanese. "You will sit and watch, as a superior pilot destroys this threat."

"You're the Second Child?"

"The First, if skill counted for anything."

"EVA-02 fully charged, and ready to deploy." Ritsuko turned to the girl. "Asuka. To your entry plug."

The girl flashed him a thumbs up, and ran off. Shinji turned to Misato.

"I thought she was in Germany?"

"NERV released her, and her Evangelion, to us after it became apparent that the Old Ones were coming here," said Misato. "Once Evangelion Unit Three is complete, it'll be shipped over as well; Unit Four is under construction, and is awaiting a pilot."

"But Unit Three already has a pilot?"

"The Fourth Child," affirmed Misato. "Kaoru Nagisa, but he's in Nevada, learning to sync with his Evangelion."

"Catapult charged."

"Launch tube four open, and confirmed clear by visual inspection."

Misato turned back to the forming battle. "Insert the plug."

"A20 Nerve link established."

"No time for mistakes, people." Ritsuko tapped her controls. "A20 Nerve stimulation active."

"Zero harmonics."

"Clear to catapult four."

Shinji ran to the viewport, and looked into the EVA pen. A red Evangelion had joined his own in the pen, and was being moved to the catapult.

"Catapult locks engaged."

"Unit Two, Launch!"

It was the first time he'd witnessed an EVA launch. The powerful electromagnetic catapult arced fiercely around the EVA, and it was blasted upwards. Shinji winced, and, for once, was grateful for LCL; the acceleration had to exceed ten gees.

"EVA-02 has reached the surface."

"Gut. Gun pod ready." The cockpit video recorder showed Asuka's face, the redhead grinning fiercely.

Shinji shook his head. "Gun pods won't work."

"Hm?" Misato turned to look at the boy.

"I keep telling you people that...the gun pods are worthless."

She considered this, then said, "Suit up and proceed to your plug."

Shinji fought down the panic as the plug flooded. It shifted on its cams, and was rotated into position. He tapped a control on the console, and a screen, projected into the LCL and seeming to float in mid-air, showed the feed from EVA-02.

Asuka's teeth were clenched, her hands working the controls. Shinji could only assume that Asuka was hammering away at Chouko with the gun pod.

"Asuka! The gun pod will not work."

"What am I supposed to use?" Asuka snarled. "I don't have any other weapons."

Ritsuko's face appeared on another screen. "Shinji. She doesn't have the experience that you or Rei have. She doesn't know—"

"There's nothing I need to know!" Asuka's face purpled in rage. "I'm the best pilot! Das äußerste! Nothing that that boy can teach me—"

She does not yet Dream.

"Ritsuko! Have you started A20?"

"Not yet, Shinji. We're maneuvering you to the catapult now."

Shinji closed his eyes.

Shogoki.

Nothing.

"Damn, she's not answering me! Ritsuko, start the A20 Nerve induction."

Misato broke in. "Not yet, Shinji."

"But—"

"Orders."

He bit down his fear and shame. "Aye, ma'am."

I cannot be free, without the Dream.

"It's not Shogoki I'm hearing...it's Asuka's EVA!"

"Catapult locks engaged."

"EVA-01 still at sixty percent and charging."

He closed his eyes, and concentrated, but caught nothing more from EVA-02.

"Starting A20 Nerve induction."

"Charge complete."

"Command interface set to Japanese language."

The colours swirled around him, and the plug seemed to melt away. He shuddered.

"Route to surface confirmed clear by visual inspection."

"EVA-01, launch!"

The EVA lurched, and rocketed towards the surface. A straight shot this time, no sideways lurching, just the bone-crushing acceleration, muted by the LCL. The EVA came to a sudden halt, and the doors swung open. He stepped out into the daylight.

"Red harmonics, pilot wave."

"Shinji! Your sync rate is dropping."

"I'll try to adjust." He walked the EVA out, and turned the corner to face the battle.

EVA-02 ejected its empty clip, slammed another into place, and chambered a round.

Shogoki.

Nothing. Shinji winced; he couldn't fight alone!

EVA-02 blasted away again; it seemed almost comical, the massive EVA blazing away on full automatic at a half-naked nine-year-old girl. But the comedy vanished with the smoke-cloud, as Chouko walked through the firestorm, completely unharmed.

Shogoki!

Still nothing.

A screen popped up; Rei's face this time. "Ikari."

"Rei! Are you all right?"

"I am unable to continue to fight. Zerogoki is immobilized."

"I can't sync with Shogoki."

"Zerogoki tells me you are afraid." Her eyes burned into his, and he felt shame. "Shogoki is withdrawn from you, because you fear her."

"How can I not?"

But the screen had closed. He squeezed his eyes shut.

I'm not afraid. It was a mantra. I am not afraid. The Old One will destroy the Father.

A scream. His eyes snapped open. EVA-02 was standing bolt upright, as though clenched in a giant fist. On the screen, Asuka was shaking in terror, screaming.

"Asuka!" He leaned forward. "You need to—"

The screen cut off, and EVA-02 collapsed to the ground.

"No..."

The girl turned to face him.

And warped.

Her skin bulged, twisted, cracked and peeled off in strips, as a nightmare form emerged. It grew rapidly, until it was almost as tall as Shogoki. A beard of tentacles sprouted from its face, just below a single staring eye. Massive batlike wings unfurled, and it reached upward towards the heavens with muscular, green scaled arms.

"My God." Fuyutsuki stared at the monitor. "Is that—"

"No. It is not him." Gendo shook his head. "But it will lead us to him." He touched a control, and Shinji appeared. "Pilot Ikari. Do not engage the Old One. Allow it to pass unharmed."

"I—"

"You heard the order!" Misato broke in on the same channel.

"Yes, ma'am."

Shinji stepped back, allowing the Old One to pass. It stared at him, then stepped past, heading for the sea.

"Why are we letting it go?"

It goes to R'lyeh.

"Shogoki?"

Yes, Dreamer. My Brother's Dreamer sleeps.

"Rei—"

No. Zerogoki sleeps. The Dreamer Rei is awake, but without Zerogoki, she is merely a Dreamer, trapped within him. My other Brother is imprisoned, but his Dreamer sleeps.

"We awoke Rei once. Can we do it with Asuka?"

Not while you fear us.

"I..." He looked down. "I'm afraid of what happens to me."

Your shell is not part of the Dream.

"Maybe not. But I..." He trailed off.

You cannot help the fear. It is the survival instinct. But it matters not. The sleeper awakens.

EVA-02 was standing up. He glanced over to his comm board, but EVA-02 was not transmitting. "Ritsuko, can you patch me into EVA-02's plug video recorder?"

"Let me check." There was a pause. "I can do it, but Misato recommends against it."

"Is it an order?"

Misato's voice came on. "No, but—"

"I'll risk it. Patch me in." The screen reappeared, and he recoiled in shock.

Asuka was in a screaming rage.

"EVA-02 is active again."

"Asuka, do not engage. Repeat—"

It didn't matter. EVA-02 turned, and charged Ythogtha. The Old One turned, smashing EVA-02 to the ground with a careless wave of the hand.

EVA-02 rolled to its feet, its umbilical severed.

"Unit Two is on backup power. Five minutes remain."

She charged, an energy Lance forming in the EVA's hands, but it dissolved just as the tip reached Ythogtha.

Ythogtha is powerful with the Flow. The Lance will not help.

Asuka's screams of berserk rage continued to fill the cockpit. It filled his ears, filled his head. How one person could contain so much rage—

"Asuka," he yelled. "You need—"

She continued to scream.

She is deep in the Dream, Shinji. She cannot hear us.

"Then I need—"

No...not while you fear me. I will not allow it!

Ythogtha grabbed EVA-02, and pinned it against a building. Four tentacles smashed into its armour, and began tearing it apart.

"Shinji!" Misato again. "Fuck the orders. Take that thing down before it kills Asuka!"

"Belay that order, Katsuragi!"

"No!" The rage in Misato's voice matched that in his father's. "I am the officer in command of this operation. Shinji, take it down!"

"I can't!" Panic crept into his voice. "I can't sync up!"

"Dammit, Asuka is gonna die in front of your eyes if you don't do something!"

"Pilot Ikari." Rei, on another screen. "Do not fear the Dream."

He closed his eyes. "But..."

"You show weakness."

He bowed his head, until it touched the console.

"You are a failure."

"No..."

Rei continued remorselessly. "You are a coward."

"No!"

"You are worthless."

"No!"

Rage dispelled fear, and he cast himself heedlessly into the Dream.

Her Brother hung on the edge of death.

Ythogtha. Beast of the Black Lake. Dispelled from this Realm, banished to the Dreamlands. Returned how, she did not know. But he was killing her Brother.

The Lance would not work; she raised her mental defenses against Ythogtha's psychic attacks, and then charged in, the battle steel of her armour crushing Ythogtha's head with one massive punch.

Not that this killed him; mere matter could not harm an Old One.

Ythogtha dropped her Brother, and turned to face her. Within her, the Dreamer, fully surrendered to her, cried out, and the Barrier snapped into existence.

But Ythogtha was the most powerful within the Flow of any opponent that she had faced; he touched the Barrier, and it eroded almost instantly.

She reached out, grasped him, and sent a kinetic blast through his frame, knocking him back fifty meters. He plowed through one of the strange buildings, smashing it in his wake, then stood again.

He is proof against any physical attack, as well as the Flow.

But you're not made of real matter. Not like the armour.

But the armour gives you the ability to direct me. Without the Dreamer, I have no purpose, and will not move.

The Dreamer gave a thought, and the armour on her left hand was blasted free. She felt it numb.

Purpose? Dreamer and Shogoki? We are more than that.

She flexed the freed arm. We are not one. We are two.

But we act as one.

She strode forward, and swung the fist. Ythogtha raised an arm to parry, and both howled with pain at the contact.

We cancel each other!

This is dangerous, Dreamer; either or both of us can be cast on the winds.

If we do not do this, Nigoki will die. Zerogoki will die. And Father will die.

Purpose.

She swung again; this time, when Ythogtha parried, she grasped his arm firmly, and reversed her Flow.

Ythogtha screamed.

She drew the Flow from him, and he shrunk. His skull collapsed in on itself, his tentacles withered and dessicated. His wings collapsed, dissolving into puddles of liquid, and still he shrank.

Dreamer! We have drawn too much of the Flow!

We can channel this.

The armour began to burn. The Flow fed back, into its energy supply, and pieces began to fall off. The back plate fell free, and her wings, so long trapped, spread out to the sky.

And still, Ythogtha screamed.

The umbilical that powered her armour burned, chaotic flame dancing along its length. The helmet dissolved away, and her jaws opened for the first time.

She roared her blood fury at the sky, as Ythogtha collapsed, his essence banished back to the Dreamlands.

The rain in his face awoke him. Toji groaned, sat up and looked around.

A sudden roar drew his attention. Standing practically on top of him was a winged monstrosity. Its cloven hooves dug into the pavement, and its hands, tipped with massive bone-white talons, were outspread. He scrabbled backward, terror striking to the core, as it spread its wings and roared to the sky.

Then saw the body.

At the feet of the creature was his sister. Her skin was burned, her arms and legs twisted to impossible angles. He cried out his grief, then looked up at the monster, rage building.

Then he saw it. On one arm, the purple and green armour, bearing the words EVA-01.

"That's EVA..." Horror dawned in him. "Shinji..."

He staggered to his feet, and walked towards his sister's body. He knelt next to her, his tears flowing faster than the rain.

"Shinji...I will kill you." He clenched a fist. "This I swear."

Maya knelt over a pool of vomit, but Misato could not spare the time to sympathize. She was too busy keeping her own gorge under control.

"Dispatch recovery. Get EVA-01 in first, and for God's sake, get it covered up." She glanced over at Ritsuko. "How long have you known about this?"

"Since the beginning."

Misato strode across the command deck, and grabbed her, throwing her up against the wall. "And why the fuck did you not think to tell me?" She bashed the blonde's head against the wall. "Do you not realize what that is?"

"I know better than you what it is." She smiled down at Misato. "I forgive you your anger, Misato. I knew that I would have to face it eventually. But I had my orders."

Misato dropped her, and turned. "Orders!" The phone rang, and she grabbed the receiver. "Command deck!"

"Captain Katsuragi." Ikari's voice was cold. "Please report to my office."

"Aye, sir."

She gently set the phone on the cradle, then turned to Ritsuko. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be." Ritsuko rubbed her head. "At least one of us had the courage to violate orders to do what was right."

"When I get back, I'll buy you a beer." She sighed. "That is, assuming I still have a job when I get back."

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