>Neon Terminus Evangelion>Episode 09 - "Everywhere at the End of Time"***The steady rumble of traffic fills the streets of New Tampa. A fresh, salt air breeze sweeps across the top of the dike and flavors the air with the scents of the ocean.You are Ethan Chandler and you're having a good day. You're out for a date with your girlfriend, Katya Skobeleva, enjoying the sights and sounds of the city as you walk hand in hand.It feels like heaven. Unreal. Your heart is lighter than a feather. You're walking on air. You glance at her. She looks back. Her crystal blue eyes fix on yours and she smiles, sending an electric jolt through your heart.You grin wider and look away. Glancing up you see a sign over a window-fronted store."Want to grab something to eat?" You ask.She nods.You hold the door for her and step inside.***Old threads - http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?searchall=Neon+Terminus+EvangelionTwitter - https://twitter.com/TimeKillerQMMy Discord - https://discord.gg/BnJeeu4What's the deal with NTE? - https://pastebin.com/AXWHpqGpDramatis Personae - https://pastebin.com/43mZJFSrList of Angels - https://pastebin.com/WzkhBtkr
You leave the heat of the tropics behind and step into a refreshing blast of conditioned air. The place is small, somewhat cozy, but with the same cold, modern stylings as the rest of the city. There are a few other people here, mostly young working professionals talking on cell phones or enjoying coffee in singles and pairs around the place.The air is full of the rich smell of roasting coffee and the sugary sweetness of baking confectionaries. The window facing the street is full of potted plants with broad, waxy leaves, lending a jungle feel to the front of the store. You and Katya make your way to the counter where you order a couple pastries and two coffees.The cashier hands you the number for your order and sets to work making it."Oh," Katya says.You look at her and are alarmed to see that she looks troubled. Her hand goes to her chest and she takes a slow breath. "Are you alright?" you ask.She nods. "Yes. I just . . . I need to sit down I think.""Here, come on." You lead her over to a window-side table and pull the chair for her."Thank you."You sit across from her. "Out of breath?" She nods, still holding her chest. She hasn't been the same since the contact experiment. You don't known precisely what happened to her, but you know that it took a toll on her health. She's still in the process of recovering."I pushed you too hard," you say. "We shouldn't be walking around like this."Katya shakes her head. "No, I enjoying it. Am okay. Just a break.">Are you sure you're alright? >What happened with the Angel exactly? Did it hurt you?>I'll go wait for our order>Write in
>>5397666>>What happened with the Angel exactly? Did it hurt you?
>>5397666>What happened with the Angel exactly? Did it hurt you?
You reach across the table and take her hand. "What happened?" You ask. "Did it hurt you?"She shakes her head. "No. Not like that."You squeeze her hand. "What happened?""It . . . talk with me. Like before but . . . different. When I speak with the last one it was . . . cruel." She frowns. "It want to hurt me. This one feel like . . . child.""A child?"She nods. "Da. Like . . . it not know anything. Almost . . . innocent.""No Angel is innocent," you say."Maybe," she says. "But it said . . . that it not want to kill me." She looks distant, troubled."We don't fight the Angels because we want to. We do it because we have to," you say.She looks you in the eye, gaze firm. "I know.""So what happened to you then? If the Angel didn't hurt you.""Something with brain interface," she says. "Dr. Caswell say feedback or something. My heart beat went irregular.""What?" you exclaim."Am okay now, honey."You're not convinced. "That's not something you just 'get okay' from, kitty." You squeeze her hand. "That's actually really serious.""I have good doctor," she says. "I feel better. Really. Dr. Caswell says I be in good shape in a few days."You're dubious about that diagnosis. Was that the truth? Or was that just what Nerv wants to be true? A pilot of Katya's experience and skill is rare enough that they wouldn't want to lose her. Of course, they wouldn't want to push her too hard either, would they?You hear your order number called and collect it from the counter before returning.You and Katya spend a few minutes enjoying the coffee and pastries. Something about being here with her makes it taste even better. You're feeling bold. In the days Katya spent in the hospital, you'd brushed up on your Russian, that is to say you tried to learn what you could. Really just a smattering of words and phrases."This is delicious," you say in uncertain Russian.Katya looks up at you, at first confused, then surprised. "You study?"You nod, beaming proudly.She laughs, "Your accent. So bad." She bursts out laughing before covering her mouth."Hey! I'm doing my best," you say, pride wounded."No," she soothes, "No, am sorry. I am very proud of you, honey. But . . . maybe you use some more lessons. Listen. Watch my lips."She repeats what you just said, and then again but slower, forming the words carefully. You watch her lips dutifully. After a second you realize she's waiting for you to speak and you really weren't listening."Sorry, I wasn't listening. Can you say it again?"Katya blushes and you squeeze her hand. She squeezes back."Can you say it again?"
She does so and this time you repeat it back, trying to imitate her pronunciation. She walks you through some words and phrases. Sometimes grinning as you stumble over yourself trying to repeat them, other times cringing at your atrocious pronunciation, but she doesn't give up, and the more she teaches, the more enthusiastic she seems to be about it until suddenly she stops, looking bothered."What's wrong?" you ask."Is nothing," she says at first. "No. Not nothing. Ethan, what we do after this?""I figured we could walk back home," you say."No. I mean . . . after everything. After being pilots.""Oh. I . . . I don't know.""You come home with me?" she asks."To Russia?"She nods.>I was hoping we could both stay here>I would love to go to Russia>Do you really want to go home? I thought you didn't get along with your father>Write in
>>5398478>Do you really want to go home? I thought you didn't get along with your father
>>5398572That was me
>>5398478>>I would love to go to Russia
>>5398478>Write in"If that's what you really want. . ."
"Do you really want to go back home? I thought you didn't get along with your father."Katya looks troubled for a moment. "Well. No. I . . . no. I do not. He is very controlling I think. But . . . it is my family. My home. Yes?""I'm just a little surprised that you want to go back. I thought you were happy to be away.""I am," she says. "But this is . . . not my place. I feel like outsider here."You can't help but wonder if she didn't feel like an outsider back home too. Everything you know about Katya suggests that she's never felt like she fit it anywhere."It could be nice to go there," you say. "I'd at least like to visit. If that's what you really want to do, then I think I would do it."She looks satisfied. "That you try is all I ask." She leans over the table to give you a peck on the cheek which leaves your skin feeling flushed. "I think maybe we try it. Yes?""I think so," you say. "When all this is over.""When it is over," she agrees.It's still so surreal for you that this is happening at all. Your romance with Katya came on so suddenly and so intensely that it almost doesn't feel real. There's a part of you that worries this is just teenage puppy love, something that's fleeting and temporary. Maybe. Maybe it is. But you don't want it to be, and you don't think so. You feel close to Katya. Comfortable. She knows you better than maybe anyone else and you like to think that you know her.She sips her coffee and watches traffic trundling by outside.This little walk through New Tampa's trendy downtown was an impromptu idea brought on by Katya's release from the hospital and the good weather. In a way, it's a first date. You can't help but feel like maybe you have this relationship horribly out of order."So what did you want to do next?" you ask. "I mean our next date. We could go somewhere in a couple days maybe when our duty schedules sync up."Katya thinks. "Not sure. There is so much to do here! You have any ideas, honey?">Go clubbing>Go swimming>Go to the arcade>Write in
>>5399707>Go to the arcade
"I was thinking the beach," you say. "We could go swimming. Just the two of us.""Again?" Katya smirks. "I think maybe you just want see me in my swimsuit.""Maybe," you agree, grinning wider. "I wouldn't complain." You feel victorious as you see Katya blush again. "But if we're going to go to Russia, maybe we should enjoy some tropical weather while we can.""Yes, I think so," Katya says. "You very uh . . . how you say? Pragmatic?""Yeah," you laugh. "That's me. Pragmatic."Katya finishes her coffee and takes the last few bites of her pastry, savoring each one.Life is good. No matter what happens next, you know you'll find a way through. You smile. God is in His heaven and all's right with the world.***You are Aaliyah Sayid and you feel the coals of anger smoldering deep within your chest. You thought that what Nerv had done to you had extinguished those flames. As you languished in that empty, hellish place you felt like you were on the edge of a precipice. One slip and you'd fall and be gone. Who you are, who you were, your memories, all gone. You're relieved to discover that those embers were just lying dormant, waiting to be rekindled. Now you feel them burning for action. Revenge. Justice. Whatever you call it.It's funny. You don't have much regard for your own life. Live or die is all the same in the grand scheme of things. You came from nothing, and to nothing you'll return, no matter what. You're human, dust, ash, clay. No, what bothers you is your brother.Sweat beads off your face as you finish this set of pushups. Your muscles strain, burning pain courses through you but you push through. You have to.Your brother. You'd let him down back in what had been your home. You'd let him down and so he was dead. Nothing you can do will ever bring him back. You've always told yourself that your mission and your role in the UN can prevent others like him from dying, but you don't really know anymore if that's true.The fact is, you're the only one who remembers him. His face, his voice. When you die, he'll be dead all over again. Deader than before. You're all that's keeping him alive, even just as the embers in the ashes of the past.With a final force of effort, you push yourself back into start position. You force yourself to breathe and get back to your feet. Prison had eroded you, mind and body, and you can't afford to be soft right now. You have to be hard as rock, sharp as a knife. You snatch a towel from the back of the couch and wipe the sweat from your face.
Movement behind you triggers your reflexes like a tripwire. You lash a hand out and grab your holstered pistol hanging from a nearby doorknob before you stop, forcing muscles to relax. You exhale slowly."Max," you say in greeting.Looking up, you see him. He's just as tired as before, but he also looks worried, though not afraid."I uh," Max stops and clears his throat. "I'm going to be leaving for work in about an hour but . . ." he gestures back toward the kitchen. "I made breakfast.""Breakfast," you repeat. Somehow you'd blocked out the sounds and smells of cooking, but now the aroma of bacon hits you like a freight train. "Sure."A moment later you're seated across from one another in the small kitchenette. Waffles, eggs, bacon, coffee, and cigarettes. You help yourself. After so long on bland foods, syrup tastes like a riot of flavor. Bacon seems like heaven. You're stuffing your face and don't have any intention of stopping.Max is staring at you, his food virtually untouched.You swallow. "Not hungry?""It's my meds," he says."I'm sorry," you say."No," Max says. "No. I'm the one who should be sorry."You blink at him."Sayid, I . . . I didn't know. I thought . . . I thought you were dead. I thought they killed you . . . if I'd known . . . god, if I thought for a second you were alive I would have . . . shit, I don't know but I would have done something. Just letting you rot like that . . . it wasn't right. I'm sorry.">Don't apologize. I don't blame you>You leave justice to me. I'll make them pay for it.>It's a part of the job. Not pleasant, but it is what it is.>write in
>>5401042>>Don't apologize. I don't blame you
>>5401042>write inJust smile and touch his hand.
You don't think. You just do. You reach out and touch his hand, your fingertips resting gently on his skin. You smile at him and his grief melts away to shock. Life's too short. Whatever else is true, you know for sure that is. Life is too damn short.Neither of you speak. Max is clearly at a loss for words. That's okay with you. There's nothing that really needs to be said."Aaliyah," he says at last.You don't let him finish that thought. "Don't apologize." You take your hand back and gather up your dishes. "I don't blame you." You turn your back on him and load the dishwasher. "What happened to me wasn't your fault, and it wasn't your responsibility." You look back over your shoulder and are surprisingly pleased to see that he's still dumbfounded. "It's touch that you care, though.""Yeah," Max says at last. "Of course."You lean against the countertop and fold your arms, clearing your mind of anything but business. "You read my report to the UN?"He nods. "Yeah. Last night. It doesn't make any sense though. Why keep a captive Angel in secret? We've got another already. Is that what Nerv is hiding?"You shake your head. "No. At least, I don't think so. There's something else going on here. Versetti is surrounding himself with people he trusts. People he can control. I think that's why he hasn't brought in more pilots and I think that's why NervSec is so utterly incompetent. They're all just lackeys.""To what end?" Max asks.You don't even want to imagine what a megalomaniac would do with a captive Angel. You shake your head. "All I know is that there is something beneath Nerv that shouldn't be there. Yezhov took the report to the UN.""So we wait to see what they say?""No," you say. Something isn't sitting right with you. You feel a strange sense of urgency, like a clock ticking toward midnight. Something is coming. You feel it, like a scent in the air. "No," you say again. "I want to do a bit more digging of my own.""Into?""Dr. Kaufman," you say. "And the Ex-Nerv employees who tried to kidnap Ethan. And the assassination attempt on Womack. There's another force at play here," you say. "It's not the UN and it's not Nerv. I think there might be some kind of . . . homegrown resistance movement.""Resistance?" Max asks, skeptical.
"Bad term," you say. "But the closest I can get. What if . . . what if Kaufman got too close to the truth. What if the same is true of other people, only they managed to stay hidden. Leaving this city undetected would be difficult and Nervsec has enough on their plate already. Maybe they collect here.""And you want to . . . what? Find them?""Find them," you agree. "Talk with them. Fight out what they know. It's not like I can do much else. Certainly not from inside Nerv.""And how are you going to track these people down in NervSec can't do it?">You can get me a list of former employees and I can make some house calls>I'm going to let the UN know about my hunch and see if they can track these people>I'll ask Yezhov to crack NervSec again and see if he can gather a list of people under surveillance>Write in
>>5402248>>I'll ask Yezhov to crack NervSec again and see if he can gather a list of people under surveillance
>>5402248>>I'm going to let the UN know about my hunch and see if they can track these people
>>5402248>I'm going to let the UN know about my hunch and see if they can track these people
"NervSec can't," you say. "But I bet UN Intelligence can.""And then what? You just go meet with them?""Something like that.""Sayid, Nerv is hunting for you. It's really not safe out there.""No," you agree. "But it's not really safe here either. What's that thing Americans say?" You try to put the idiom together in your head. "I'd rather die with my boots on."Max snorts derisively. "This isn't a Western, okay? You're not the new sheriff in town.""Maybe not, but I'm not afraid. We've all got to die sometime, right Max?"Max stares at you, brow furrowed. It's obvious that he's worried, and it's obvious that his concern isn't purely professional. "Yeah," he says at last. "Fuck it. Fine. Let me know when you go, okay?"You give him a small smile and shake your head. "Not you, Max. Just me. I need you in Nerv. Stay at your job, stay hidden.""But-""Whatever sins Versetti is hiding, Nerv is still doing important work. Be a part of it," you say."Fuck," Max says. "This is all . . . fuck." He takes his head in his hands. "Nothing is ever easy, is it?""Nope."He looks up at you again. "Why did it have to be us? I mean . . . you and me. We made it this far. Plenty of other people didn't. Why us?""Envious of the dead?" you ask. "That doesn't sound like you, Max.""Envious? Heh. Maybe. Shit. At least it's over for them.""Like it or not, we're alive," you say firmly. "And we need to fight for that. We are going to die. But not now. Not yet.""Right," he says. "Not until this is done."
You are Ethan Chandler and you are back in Nerv. It had felt weird coming here the first time. New Tampa was sprawling enough, but the maze of tunnels that made up Nerv 03 was even more intimidating. Now though it felt like a second home.You're standing in an empty briefing room as your guardian, Mbaru, goes through a filing cabinet before pulling out a sheaf of paper. He squints at it, reading over it quickly, and then extends it to you. "Here. Your schedule this week."You take the paper in the same way you might accept being handed a loaded diaper. Looking over it quickly, you grimace. "Night shift? Ugh.""Rotation keeps it fair," Mbaru says. "Everyone gets the night shift.""I don't mind nights." Korine enters behind you, startling you. "What are you-""Starting my shift," she says. "What else would I be doing here?"A good question. "Good luck," Mbaru says as he leaves the room. You're not sure if he means with your shift or with Korine . . . or both.Korine takes a seat at one of the empty desks and finishes off a can of soda before lobbing it vaguely in the direction of a trash can. "Nights are good," she says. "Less Nerv goons swarming around my feet."You smirk. "I don't think 'Nerv goons' really swarm much.""Maybe not to you," she says haughtily. "So . . . you and Katya, huh?"It's equal parts statement and accusation. "Y-yeah. I guess.""You'd better do more than guess I think," she says. "You be nice to her, okay? Quit being so thick, alright?""Thick?""Never mind. When do you start doing the night shift?"I start in a couple days," you say. "Going back to back?""I split a shift with Renton before it," you say. "Not bad.">So when are you and I going to watch some more horror movies?>This is a weird question, but do you have any advice about Katya?>How have you been feeling lately?>write in
>>5403463>>So when are you and I going to watch some more horror movies?I SAW THAT, BITCH!
>>5403463>>So when are you and I going to watch some more horror movies?
No update today guys. Busy IRL. Hopefully tomorrow or Saturday!
>>5403463>So when are you and I going to watch some more horror movies?
"So, when are you and I going to watch some more horror movies?" you ask."Whenever you want," she says. "Well, I need to get some more. My old collection got kinda . . ."You remember when she trashed it in an uncontrollable rage. "Good excuse to grab some new ones.""No argument there," she says, face not betraying any shame for what had happened before. "I'll grab a couple new titles. We can have a movie night next time Katya is on duty. I think she'd just slow us down."Your girlfriend's distaste for horror movies is no secret to either of you. "Yeah, that's probably best. She's gone through a lot lately.""Yeah," Korine says. "She had something crazy happen right? She got hurt?"You nod, not sure how much Katya would want you sharing. "Sort of. She's a lot better now though.""I'm glad to hear it," Korine says. "Next time you see her, tell her that I want to hang soon. Girls night, you know?"You nod. "Yeah, I can do that."Korine stands up suddenly. "Alright. Movie night. Don't forget.""Never.""Later," she says.
You are Captain Rose Holiday and you're not sure you just heard your father correctly."The Council?" you repeat. You feel like a child in his shadow. He stands over your desk, looking down on you as implacably as he would study a topographic map. Your dad has always been distant, cold. It's how he was trained. You know he's this way because he was trained to be.He'd been special forces before the Valentines Treaty. He'd been trained to make life and death decisions without any hesitation. He was pragmatic to the extreme. He hadn't flinched when you told him you wanted to be a pilot. He hadn't flinched when he'd ordered you to kill the Angel no matter the cost."The United Nations Council has requested your presence specifically," your father says.You're head of Nerv's tactical division. You wield incredible power. Regiments and wings scramble and deploy at your word. But you've never met with the Council before. You feel a cold sweat come over you. They were the ones in charge of the entire human endeavor. Ostensibly representatives of the nations that made up the bulk of the UN's military forces, in actuality they were like petty kings in their own right.Your father and the Colonel had always handled the Council and left you to your work."Isn't that unusual, major?" you say.Your father doesn't bat an eye. "They want an extra perspective on our operations here."There's no room to argue or refuse. You stand. "Alright then." You follow your father from your office towards the secured conference rooms. He doesn't look at you and doesn't speak. You adjust your eyepatch out of nervous habit but otherwise, try to remain cool. Your mind is racing, what could the Council want with you? What answers could you possibly provide them that your father couldn't?As if reading your thoughts, he speaks. "It's an unusual situation." He stops outside the door to the conference room and turns to look at you. "Things are . . . developing rapidly. Answer their questions honestly, but don't be afraid."You nod.He reaches out and lays a hand on your shoulder, startling you. His face, normally guarded, is for once open. "Rose, you trust me, don't you?"
You are Rose Holiday. You are fourteen years old and you can hear your father's voice echoing down the passageway. You were idly exploring the dark depths of Nerv 03, still unfinished after years of preparation. You've been told this whole place will one day be a metropolis, a bastion. Right now, it's like a ghost town writ large. Skeletal skyscrapers and darkened high rises line empty streets. Everything is deserted and silent save for the echoing of construction and the thrum of water pumps as they dredge fresh land from the sea.You're this city's defense. You're the pilot of an Evangelion, intended to guard this place by any means necessary. You haven't had a chance to test yourself in battle outside of simulations, and likely never would. It had been years since an Angel had been seen. Sometimes you think they'll never return, but your father seems confident they will.Right now, all of that is far from your thoughts. You're just surprised to hear your father talking. You didn't realize this area of the base was in use yet. You walk silently along the cement corridor, following the sounds. Your dad sounds angry. Livid. "-so good people could die? People like my wife?!" he says."I know, John." That's Colonel Versetti. His voice is calm, soothing. You've seen your dad lose his temper, it wasn't unusual and it had happened much more frequently after your mother died, but you had never heard him this angry, and you hadn't heard him talk about your mother like this either. You stop outside of the door, staring at its blank metal face, unsure of what to do."The bible says God flooded the world once and swore 'never again'," your dad says. "You ever think we must have done something so disgusting that He might change His mind?"The words shock you to your core.There's a silence before your dad continues. "The things I saw in Venezuela . . . People acting like animals. Clawing at one another for scraps of food. Disgusting.""Humankind is nothing if not a race of survivors," Versetti says, his tone reconciliatory."Animals," your dad replies dismissively. "Animals. There is no limit to the depths of depravity we sink to. They were eating their kids, Colonel. Their kids. And the old men want us to unite that!?"Versetti says nothing."When you took this job did you ever think that the biggest criminals might be the ones who spared the rest of the filth from the flames and tide? Did you ever think that maybe it was a mistake for any of us to survive? Let alone the ones who wanted this?"
Your father is ranting now. "'Progress through unity' they say. What progress? What unity? The old men are playing the same goddamn game they've always played. We're just more cattle to them. It's just a bill. Second Impact . . . Second Impact was a blessing. Destruction would have been a mercy. We don't deserve what we have."You feel sick."You're getting ahead of yourself, John," Versetti says. "We'll change all that. Steer a new course. One of our own design. One that sees the worthy elevated."And the rest?" Your father asks.Versetti doesn't answer."Good," your father says.You're still frozen when your father steps out of the office and locks eyes with you, clearly startled to see you. Your heart thunders in your ears and you struggle to think of something to say.You expect to see anger, fury, rage. Instead, you just see shock."Rose . . ."You straighten up, standing firm, and meet his gaze.He glances over his shoulder into the room he came from and closes the door behind himself, taking a moment to compose himself. "Rose," he says. "I know a lot of this must seem frightening, things occurring outside of your control. But . . . Our mission here is important - vital, to the survival of our species. I know it's confusing but . . . the colonel has a vision. One that I hope you'll play an essential role in as an Eva pilot."You can only nod.He puts a hand on your shoulder, his expression softening. "This isn't the life I wanted for you, Rose. I know your mother . . . she would want better. But . . . this is what has to be done. What we're doing is going to fix things. Make the world safe." He stares at you. "You trust me, don't you?">Yes>I don't know>No>write in
>>5406794>>YesIt'll be fiiiine.
You look up into his eyes and say the words that you feel at heart. "I trust you, dad."He smiles at you. It's something you'll never forget. You relish that feeling of pride ,hold it close to your chest. It's all you ever wanted.***>2017"Rose, you trust me, don't you?" Your father asks you. A strange echo of the past. Your answer hasn't changed. He's your father, that will never change."I trust you, dad." But you're not sure anymore what it is he's after. You don't like to think about that overhead conversation all those years ago. Sometimes you wonder if it ever really happened.Did you ever think that the biggest criminals might be the ones who spared the rest of the filth from the flames and tide?He nods once, accepting, then opens the door to the conference room and gestures you in.It's black inside save for thin pillars of light marking each of the holograms of the council members who are seated around the table, their eyes fixed on you.You take place center stage, your pace and stance betraying none of the nervousness you feel inside."Captain Holiday," one of them says, "We are pleased to finally meet you."You incline your head slightly. "Likewise.""Let's begin, shall we?" The man who speaks has a clipped, precise English accent. You correctly recognize this as a rhetorical question and say nothing.The next one of them to speak sits at the head of the table. You know he's old, but how old exactly is impossible to say. He's weathered in the same way that a rock is. Timeless. Ethnically, he's Japanese, but his English carries no discernible accent."The Nerv 03 facility currently has four Evangelion pilots, is this correct?" "Yes, sir."He nods. "We have heard mixed reports regarding their skills. Can you comment on the reliability and loyalty of these pilots?"Is this what they brought you here for? To state the obvious? Surely they received regular reports about these things. Are they looking for you to reveal some deeper truth? Something your father and the Colonel have tried to conceal from them?
Your father told you to answer honestly, so you do. "Their performance has seen ups and downs but they have kept us safe and fulfilled their missions. They've put their lives on the line time and time again to get the job done. I can't fault them for that.""And your facility, Nerv 03. New Tampa, the city. It was damaged in a recent Angel attack, yes?" The man who speaks does so with a Russian accent. He's old, like the chairman, but in a different way. He looks tired, battered, like a boxer who's just done several rounds. You also find yourself surprised that you recognize him. He has his daughter's eyes."That's correct, Mr. Skobelev. We faced an uncertain foe and dealt with it swiftly, but it wasn't a perfect victory.""So few are," the Chairman says, eliciting a tight smile from you.Skobelev doesn't smile. "But your city is still a fortress, is that right? It can still defend itself then?""A transferal of facilities at this late stage is impossible." The Englishman interjects, surprising you. You're more surprised still to see that he's speaking to Skobelev, chiding him."I ask Captain Holiday," Skobelev resorts coldly. "I want answer from her.""Our defensive facilities remain intact," you reply, a little confused. "The damage was minimal."His silence seems to invite you to continue."The city is a fortress, yes. A physical fortress. But many of our enemies seem to bypass physicality altogether. So far we've stopped every single one of them. The structural damage has been negligible compared to what the angels could have done if left unchecked. But there is always the possibility of our encountering something unexpected. Something new.""It remains to be seen what form the final Angel will take," another of the Councilmen says, addressing his colleagues."Time is too short to change the scenario," the Englishman replies.You have the feeling that you're not meant to hear any of this, which makes it more perplexing. Perhaps the worst thing is that the men gathered here seem to be aware of your presence, but merely indifferent to what they say around you.>Isn't it a bit soon to be talking about the final Angel?>Do you have any further questions for me, gentlemen?>Write in
>>5408289>>Isn't it a bit soon to be talking about the final Angel?
>>5408289>>Do you have any further questions for me, gentlemen?
>>5408289>Write inKeep quiet.
Rolled 3 (1d3)>Rolling>writingW
You keep silent as the Council speaks. You tell yourself that you're just being respectful, but you're really hoping they'll keep talking."If the scenario is in jeopardy then it has to be changed," a French-accented representative says."There will be time once the Angels are defeated," the Chairman says, his voice both soothing and commanding."If we act quickly then change won't be necessary," Skobelev adds. The men seem to suddenly notice you. If any of them feels like they said too much, they don't show it."Captain, tell us, what was the result of the contact experiment with the captive Angel? The eleventh," the Chairman asks.You blink. Why wouldn't they know that?"It was a partial success," you say. "We confirmed that the Angels seem to have some higher reasoning capabilities.""Reasoning?" Skobelev asks.You look at him. "Yes. The Angel seemed to . . . it seemed willing to negotiate." You don't fail to notice the councilmen trading looks like this is some kind of bombshell. "The details should all be included in the official report," you add."We prefer word of mouth," the Englishman says, "to the written word.""Speech conceals fewer lies," the Frenchman adds.
You don't know what to say to that, but you're not sure you like the tone."Captain Holiday, your father and Colonel Versetti have been your superiors since you were a pilot, correct?" the Englishman asks.Another question with an obvious answer. Your patience for these is wearing thin. "Of course.""What comments do you have on their leadership? Their command of the Nerv 03 facility? Are you satisfied with their performance? With their dedication to our cause?"You stiffen with surprise, your hands clenched at parade rest behind your back. Neither your father nor the Colonel are here but . . . still, you feel strange talking about them behind their backs. Your father had told you to be honest. Honestly, you know that Versetti is hiding something. He's hiding from you and he's certainly hiding something from the UN Council. But what? And why? Everything you know says that there is a secret struggle going on between Nerv and the UN. Like two men smiling at one another as they wrestle for control of a loaded gun beneath the table.You told your father that you trust him though."I have no complaints," you say. "Colonel Versetti has commanded us well. He's well-liked by the staff. His leadership has seen us win every battle we've engaged with. I can't ask for more than that.""And your father?" Skobelev asks."The Major has likewise performed well," you say. "I'm proud to serve under him.""You feel loyalty then? To your father? A personal bond?"You stare back at him. "He's my commanding officer."Skobelev gives you a tight smile.Silence falls over the room. The Chairman speaks. "Unless there are not further questions-""One," Skobelev says.You see the surprise flash across the faces of some of the Council. It seems like these questions are more rehearsed than you would expect, and Skobelev is going off script."My daughter," he says, looking grave. "Katya. She is a pilot of yours. She is on active duty still, yes? Or has she been taken off duty?">She's our top pilot You should be proud of her.>I'm sorry, but our deployment is a tactical matter>Do you have some reason she should be taken off duty?>Write in
>>5409300>>Do you have some reason she should be taken off duty?
>>5409300>>She's our top pilot You should be proud of her.
>>5409300>She's our top pilot You should be proud of her.
You meet his gaze. "She's one of our top pilots. Maybe even our best," you say. "She's invaluable to what we do here. If I can be frank, sir, you should be proud of her."Skobelev sags a little, seeming to deflate. His face tightens. You see not pride, but . . . Worry? Fear?The others on the Council watch Skobelev carefully, their faces tense. After a minute of silence, the Englishman speaks again."We have no further questions, Captain."You nod.The Chairman speaks. "This council expects you to carry out your duties to the letter. What you do, you do in service of all mankind. Do not forget that.""I won't," you say. "You can count on me."The holograms vanish, plunging you into darkness. A moment later the lights snap on, filling the empty space and momentarily blinding you. Your father and Versetti are here. Versetti grins at you."Well handled, captain. Very good."You've never felt more like a piece on a playing board than you do at this moment. You just wonder what the next move is going to be. "Thank you, sir."
You are Ethan Chandler, and you can't really explain why you're nervous. This isn't the first date you've had with Katya, and it's not even the first time you've gone to the beach together. Still, nervous is definitely what you are.This date was all you could think about at your tactical briefing with Mbaru today. It haunted your thoughts and clouded your mind. No sooner had you finished your duties than you'd changed and set off for the beach. One benefit of living on a small island is the beach isn't far no matter where you are.The one you'd chosen was close to your apartment so it's only a short walk along palm-lined avenues.Ascending a switchback ramp, you scale the floodwalls and reach the beach itself.Given that New Tampa is a man-made island, the beach is just as artificial as the city. Sugar-white sand has been dredged up and hauled here from somewhere else. Blocks of concrete dot the shore in a vain bid to prevent the ocean from reclaiming what once owned.Behind you the city rises, crystal and steel. Before you the horizon, blue on blue.Unlike your last visit, there are people here. It's not quite busy, but it's certainly active. Men and women walk the sand, lay in the sun, or splash in the water. They're mostly young adults, you notice. The working professionals who populate this city. There are few families.You begin to scan the area for Katya. It doesn't take long to spot her. She's standing in the shade of a broad umbrella looking out to sea. Her long hair blows in the breeze which also rustles the hem of her white sundress. For a moment you're reminded of Linda. It's a comparison you push aside and cross the beach toward her. She looks over and spots you as you approach, her face lighting up. She gives you a shy little wave and you return it,."Hello," she says."Privet," you reply.Katya giggles. "Is very strange," she says. "Not bad. But strange.""Hey, at least I'm trying," you say."Yes.""I hope I didn't keep you waiting."No," she says. "I was enjoying breeze. Very nice out.">Want to get something to eat first?>Ready to swim?>Want to walk with me first?>Write in
>>5410171>>Want to walk with me first?Eating must be done last, as swimming after eating is bad for you.
>>5410171>>Want to walk with me first?>>5410259That's an old wives tale.
>>5410171>Want to walk with me first?>>5410315Do you swim? I feel terrible if I swim right after eating?
>>5410315>>5410564It causes gut pain and can lead to severe cramps in the water and cause you to drown
You extend a hand to her. "How about a walk?"She takes your hand. "Yes."The two of you walk hand in hand along the beach, waves chasing your feet. Katya looks so different in a dress from how you're used to seeing her. It's kind of incredible how easily she goes from casual to chic. It's weird in another way too. This is probably the side of Katya you've seen the least. You have to remind yourself that while you're equals in the eyes of Nerv, she's an heiress to an incalculable fortune, millions- maybe billions of dollars- and you're just a war orphan without a penny to your name.Really, she's just in a plain sundress, you can only imagine the sort of things she's worn back home. People called her a princess when you'd first met her. Maybe she's more of a princess than you first admitted."Ethan?""Hm?""You staring," she says.You feel your cheeks flush with color. "Ah. Sorry."She squeezes your hand."Just thinking that you look really nice."It's her turn to blush. "Thank you.""Did you ever dress up for anything back home? I mean, wearing fancy dresses."She thinks a moment. "Sometimes. For dinners or business functions." She makes a face. "Very boring.""I wouldn't know."Katya looks at you. "When we in Russia, you will see I think."The thought chills your blood. "What? You'd drag me along?""Of course. You are my honey, no?" She gives your hand another squeeze."Definitely. Just . . . it's a little intimidating to think about," you laugh."Worse than Angels?""Much. I can kill an Angel. I don't think you'd like me cutting loose in a dinner party."Katya laughs. "No. But I be there with you."That thought at least is comforting. The two of you have walked far enough that you're reaching quieter stretches of beach. Only the occasional jogger passes by. You walk close enough to the water's edge that the tide sweeps at your feet playfully. Sandpipers chase the waves, hunting for food.>Tell me more about your family. I don't know that much about them.>Maybe you can explain why you want to go home. I'm still confused, it doesn't sound like you like it.>If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?>write in
>>5410564>>5410581Never happened to me. Guess I'm just built different.>>5410711>Tell me more about your family. I don't know that much about them.
>>5410711>>Tell me more about your family. I don't know that much about them.
>>5410711>Tell me more about your family. I don't know that much about them.
>>5410874>>5411131>>5411888Sorry for the delay. Lots going on IRL.Writing
You kick absently at the waves as you walk, throwing a sheet of glittering water ahead of you. "So tell me about your family. I don't really know that much about them. You've got two sisters and a brother, right?""Yes," she nods."I am the youngest. My mother she passed after I was born.""I'm sorry," you say.Katya nods but looks distant for a moment. "Oldest is Karina. She is a bit . . . eh . . . cold? Distant? She is very business, you know?""Type A?""A?" Katya looks at you quizzically."She's uh . . . focused? Driven? No nonsense?""Yes. That. Type A. She wants to be most like my papa. My father. He is a businessman.""What's he do?""Petroleum," Katya says. "Oil. Fields, rigs, refineries. My father own it all.""All of it?"She laughs. "No, not all oil, But he own all types/ Very busy man. Very important I think.""How much money does he have?" you blurt the question without thinking about it and regret it when she gives you a look."Lots I think. But this is not my money. I am youngest, I will not get most of it, you see?""No, I wasn't saying . . ." you feel stupid. "I was just curious. Sorry. What about your brother?""Dmitri. Big man. Like my papa. Tall, broad. Popular with the girls. A big clown. He is . . . how you say? A playboy?""I can imagine," you say."Hunting, drinking, driving, smoking, shooting, partying. He think he's very tough. Macho. But he is a sweet man I think.""Would he like me?""Yes," Katya says. "Mmm. Actually, I think no.""No? Why not?"She gives you another look. "You dating his little sister.""Ah. Right."She laughs. "Do not worry, honey. I protect you." She sticks her tongue out at you and you feel yourself relax a little bit. "And your other sister is . . . ""Anya. She live in Moscow now. Far away from everyone.""Air force, right?"Again, Katya nods. "Fighter pilot. Very cool.""You sound envious," you laugh. "You're an Eva pilot."Katya looks surprised that you called her out. "Yes well . . . I admire her. So bold. Brave. Independent, you know?"
"A role model?"She thinks about this. "Yes. I think so. I always want to be like her. I look up to all my family in different ways. Karina is very fashionable. Anya very brave. Dmitri very tough and kind.""He taught you how to shoot, right?""Yes.""I guess then you're like all of them," you say.She stops walking and looks at you, confused."Fashionable, brave, tough, kind. That's you."You've never seen Katya so flustered before. Her face turns red and she blinks rapidly. "I- Maybe is true." She says this in a way that makes it clear she doesn't believe it before turning her head and continuing on. "I am the baby in the family, you know. They all protect me in different ways."Before you can respond, Katya reaches up and takes off her cat ears. In one swift motion, she puts the hairband on you. "Cat!" she says."Wh-""You a cat now," she says. "Say meow.""Meow?"Katya laughs like this is the funniest thing she's heard all day. You can't remember her ever laughing so hard."What?" you say, smiling in spite of yourself. "Is it that funny?""Yes!"You laugh with her, taking the ears back off to carefully put them on her head. "They look better on you.""Thank you. You ready to swim now?">Yes>Write in
"Let's do it."You strip off your shirt and Katya lifts her sundress over her head to reveal a two-piece swimsuit beneath. She catches you staring and flicks your nose lightly. "None of that. Time to swim.""Let's go!"The water is shockingly cold at first when you enter. Katya squeals in surprise which becomes laughter as the two of you wade out. You're not sure who fired the first shot, but within a minute you are splashing one another and laughing as you work your way deeper into the surf. In a desperate attempt to stop the hostilities, you grab her by the waist and pull her against you. She struggles in vain for a moment before surrendering to your embrace and putting her arms around you. It's blissful. Katya's body is warm against yours as the waves bat at both of you.After a minute she lets go and pushes lightly away from you, swimming out further. You follow her until your feet don't touch the sandy floor anymore.You fight off an initial wave of panic about what lurks in the water, willing yourself to relax, to float. In this way, you ride up and over each wave as it comes at you. They can't be more than a couple of feet, but they feel much higher.You and Katya don't stray much further, content to simply ride the waves here. As you crest over one, you see dark gray clouds on the horizon. "That must be why the waves are so high," you say. "There's a storm.""I think it going to rain later today."You give her a look and grin. "Then let's enjoy the water while we can."
You are Aaliyah Sayid. It's dark and it's raining.It's impressive how quickly a little weather can change New Tampa's atmosphere completely. You've always thought of it as a city without a soul, but in the rain, it feels even more lonely than when the tropical sun isn't beating down.A bus passes by, its electric motor virtually silent, only the woosh of tires on wet pavement marks its passage. You watch it go from the shadow of a doorway.Pinion, your UN contact, had seemed surprised to hear from you. You guess he'd assumed the worst when you stopped reporting in and no one had ever bothered to correct him. It didn't take him long to relay your request for information to the UN. A meeting was set up.Here. Now.Here was nowhere, a semi-deserted side street in the third district. Utterly unremarkable, commercial and office space. You hadn't been told anything other than "contact had been arranged" and your contact would be a man in a red jacket. You frown to yourself and check your watch.The problem was he was late. Whatever the reason was for that, it wasn't good.Rain patters down on the puddles forming along the sidewalk and beads down the windows of the storefronts nearby. You'd rather be inside, warm and dry. Maybe even at Max's place, sharing a beer.If only you had that kind of luxury.You check your watch again and this time when you look up, you see a lone man step out of a bus stop shelter. He walks a few paces to stand on the side of the road and looks both ways.His red rain slicker reflects the light of the street lamps.This has to be your contact.You surreptitiously check your sidearm. It's a Sig Sauer P320, nine millimeter. It's not your preferred weapon, this one is from Yezhov. You typically prefer smaller handguns, but you're not going to be choosy. Fifteen-round magazine with two spares. If you need any of them then you think you're really in trouble. Still, it provides a bit of comfort as you step into the open and cross the rainy street for the man in the red raincoat.He turns and locks eyes with you as you approach. He's scared. You are too, but you hide it better."You're-" he starts, then stops. "Lotus?"Your codename for this meetup. "Brandy," you give the countersign.He relaxes, slightly.
Up close you can see the poorly concealed body of a longarm in his raincoat, maybe a sawed-off shotgun, but it's hard to tell."Expecting trouble?" you ask.He relaxes a little, the ghost of a smile flickering on his lips. "Aren't you?"You don't smile and you don't answer the question. "I was told you have someone I need to meet."He nods. "Doctor Scott. Macy Scott. It's vital." He takes a sudden step closer to you and you tense up. He's offering you a folded slip of paper.You take it and flip it open. It's an address in the city and not one you recognize. It's unusual. You tuck it into your pocket and look up again and freeze.His eyes are wide, unblinking, focused over your shoulder.The only sound is that of rain hitting his jacket. "You've got company," he says.You resist the urge to look over your shoulder.You see him tightening his grip on the weapon under his coat, which you now clearly see is a shotgun. You risk a glance over your shoulder.A dark sedan idles at the end of the street, fifty meters away. Its headlights are on, wipers running. There's no mistaking it for anything other than a NervSec car.>Open fire on the car>Split up and flee on foot>Flee together>Write in
>>5413197>>Open fire on the carWindshield, hope it's not armored.If it doesn't work>Flee togetherKeep solid things between us and the car, the two of us getting shot is a problem, but getting run over is also a problem :)
>>5413197>Open fire on the carAt least shoot out the headlights.
>>5413197>>Open fire on the cartarget the driver
You meet your contact's eyes again and give him only the slightest nod before you pivot and draw your weapon in one smooth move. You raise the sights and pin the sedan, your heart thumping in your chest.Headlights.BAM. BAM. BAM.The left and then right headlights blow out and you track your fire onto the windshield.The roar of the shotgun snuffs out your hearing in your left ear as you both fire. The windshield explodes in a shower of safety glass. Something whistles past your head and you realize the occupants of the car are shooting back.You grab the contact and drag him into cover behind the bus stop. Its glass back blows out and gunfire whines and shrieks around you. You are dimly aware of the sound of someone screaming in the car. At least you'd hit one of them, and with the lights out they wouldn't be able to pursue you quickly."Come on." You grab the contact by the shoulder and pull him back to his feet. You blind fire two more shots toward the car and start running, dragging red coat along. He works the slide on his shotgun and fires it toward the car again."How'd they find us!?" he demands, eyes wild and angry. Afraid.You push him into an alleyway as rounds strike off the brick edging of the building. Pressing your back against the wall you blind fire two more times around the corner to give NervSec something to think about. "Bad fucking luck," you shoot back. "Small city. Take your pick.""Twenty-four hours," he says, racking his shotgun again. "We'll be waiting at that address. Come alone. Whatever you have to say, we'll listen."You hear car doors slamming and shouting. NervSec is closing on foot."I'll be there," you say. "Alone.""Good luck." He turns and runs along the alley.>Escape through the storefront>Make for the metro>Up a nearby fire escape>Write in
>>5414257>>Make for the metro
>>5414257>Make for the metro
You run. You run as fast as your legs can move you. Rain splashes your face as storefronts blur by and your breath rasps in your ears. You run like you're trying to outrun a bullet. You run from the certainty of death, or worse, that they'll put you back in that white room if they get you again and this time you won't get back out.You run for your life.A bullet whines off brick near your head and you duck into a narrower alley adjoining this one, after a short flight you emerge back onto the wet sidewalk. A pair of bystanders take a bewildered step back until they see the gun in your hand. One of the screams.You spot the sign for the metro and return to running. You already feel your body betraying you. Too slow, too weak. You're winded and you've hardly gone anywhere. Soft. You fly down the stairs leading underground, your feet hardly seem to touch them at all. Your stomach drops out sickeningly before you hit the tile ground and keep running. The metro is well monitored, it's true, but it's a warren also. You can get anywhere in the city and be gone in a flash.You round the corner and sprint across the platform towards the waiting metro tram. Perfect timing.You're not sure why you look over your shoulder, but you do, and look straight into the sunglasses of a Nervsec agent leveling his pistol at you. Caught in the open, there's nowhere to hide. It's kill or be killed.***Roll 1d6 I need 3 rolls total
Rolled 6 (1d6)>>5415564
Rolled 3 (1d6)>>5415564
Rolled 4 (1d6)>>5415564
You bring your weapon up and around, pirouetting on the ball of your foot as you center the pistol.You hear the angry hum of a bullet crack past you but you don't flinch.One shot.Your pistol jumps and the NervSec agent's head snaps back, his body going limp.You turn away and sprint the rest of the distance to the metro, jumping into the car as the doors close. Mercifully it's empty.Concealing your pistol in your waistband again, you take a moment to try to catch your breath. A simple map of the subway line you're on catches your eye and you follow its trajectory. You can change cars at Mabry Circle which isn't far. Then another change of cars should lose your pursuit entirely. They're not going to risk making a big scene to catch you. Then it's just a matter of roaming, circling around, and doubling back until you're sure you haven't been followed. You sit down on the hard bench seat and feel the car accelerate out of the station. You're shaking. You look down at your empty hands blankly. They're visibly trembling.You let out a long, shaky breath and try to steady yourself. You recall faint memories of breathing exercises and calming thoughts but it's all intangible, you can't seem to hold it in your mind. All you can think about is the sound that bullet made as it cracked past your head, a handsbreadth from ending you forever and pitching you into the same numbing blackness your brother was lost to.You feel a surge of emotions, hot and fast. Fear, sadness, joy, guilt, each one strikes you like a hammer blow.You feel the recoil of your pistol and see the NervSec agent's head jerk back. You can imagine his brain blood-shockingly red-pooling beneath him. You feel suddenly nauseous and wrap your arms around yourself.You've never killed anyone before. Never.
"This stop, Mabry Circle. Mabry Circle." Your stop.You get off the car in a daze, moving through a loose crowd of people who board behind you. You feel sweaty and sick, but also distant, like this is all a dream. "Get it together," you whisper to yourself. "Get it together. Don't fall apart. Not now." You clench your hands into tight fists and fight off the shock settling over you. You're alive. He's not. That's all there is to it.By the time you board the connecting Metro, you're feeling stiller, more centered, your mind quieter.You ride the metro for an hour, trading cars several times as you work your way toward the outer edges of the city. Then you spend another hour walking the streets aimlessly. You circle, zig-zag, and double back on your own path over and over again as you aimlessly meander.You have to be positive-absolutely positive-that you're not followed. If you lead NervSec to Max then you'll doom both of you.The rain lets up eventually and the sky is starting to lighten when you finally reach Max's place. You're soaked through and shivering, your legs feel like rubber, exhausted.You push open the door and breathe in the stale stink of cigarettes though it doesn't bother you. The warmth of Max's apartment feels like heaven.Max is here, standing in the hall shirtless, gun in hand, his face at first surprised, then relieved. He's thinner than he should be, but his body is marked with fading musculature like ancient ruins. He was in good shape before his body started breaking down."My god, Aalyiah you were gone so long I-" Max shoves the gun back in a holster at his side. He ushers you in and closes the door. "Jesus, you're soaked. You must be freezing."You can only nod. You don't trust yourself to speak quite yet.He bumps the thermostat up a few degrees. "Let me grab you a towel and some fresh clothes.""You waited for me?" you say at last.He looks at you, confused. "You really think I'd be able to sleep with you out there like that?" He looks exhausted.>Thanks. I'm glad you've got my back>I don't want to be alone tonight. Help me get out of these clothes.>You really shouldn't worry about me. My survival prospects aren't good.>Write in
>>5417032>>I don't want to be alone tonight. Help me get out of these clothes.handholding with the lights off
>>5417032>>I don't want to be alone tonight. Help me get out of these clothes.
No update today. Extremely busy this week, so we'll hold for voting one more day
You grab Max's wrist as he makes for the closet for towels. "Forget it, Max," you say."But-"You put a finger to his lips. "I don't want to be alone tonight. Understand?"He nods."So help me get out of these clothes." You peel your shirt up over your head. Your damp skin prickles in the cold air and goosebumps break out across your body.Max's hands feel warm on your body as he helps finish undressing you. Somehow he manages not to rush. Each move is slow, deliberate, careful.You smile up at him, but it's plastic. Insincere. It's what he'd expect to see.He doesn't smile back. "You sure?" He looks troubled.You stand on tiptoes to kiss him. His lips feel like fire on yours. "The way I see it, Max," you say. "Both of our days are numbered. Do you really want to die without fucking each other at least once?"Max considers this a moment, shrugs, and pulls his own shirt off. The real truth of it is less carnal. You're just so empty right now that you want to feel something. You want to feel anything, and you want to feel someone else. Max is here, and so are you.Soon your mind is far away, riding high enough that the troubles of this world can't ever hope to touch you. You're above the clouds in bliss and you're not thinking about anything else.
You are Captain Rose Holiday, and you can't help but note how tired your staff look. This all-hands meeting has pulled everyone off their normal rotations so a lot of people are used to being snug in bed right now.Max looks exhausted, and Yezhov has dark shadows under his eyes like he hasn't slept in days. Mbaru looks marginally better, but all of the other technicians look worn. This 24/7 activity is taking a toll on your people.You all stand in a loose semi-circle in the open floor of the control room beneath the chromatic swirl on the display above you."What's the final word, Max?" you ask."It's definitely going to hit us," Max says, glancing up at the display board which shows a radar map of the hurricane in real-time. "We've just been getting the outlying storm bands so far, but Delta is proceeding due West. She's going to cross the Florida Sea. We can expect a direct impact with the eye of the storm.""Damn," you say. "What's the UN doing in all this?" "Naval vessels are moving off," Mbaru says. Snelson is grounding all air traffic, the civilian airport will be closing to inbound traffic in six hours.""We'll be on our own then," you say."Until the storm passes," Mbaru agrees. "Our communication network is hardened against such issues; however, we have seafloor fiber optic cables to connect us with Atlanta in case of emergency.""What about risk to the city?""Emergency crews are on standby all along the outer seawall and along the inner dikes. They should withstand the storm surge, any wind, waves. Rainfall will be a problem, but the city drainage system has been expected and cleared. The metro will be closed as a precaution in case of unexpected flooding. Civilian power outages may also be possible with solar down and the tidal generators offline. Batteries only can last so long.""Any chance we can feed the auxiliary nuclear reactors back to power the city?""Too much drain," Max says. "No way. It's just enough to keep Nerv going, none to spare."You look down at the clipboard in your hands and flip through page after page of readiness reports."How long until it gets here?" you ask."We'll get the edge of the storm in twenty-four hours. The eye should hit around twenty-eight hours or so from now," Max says.>Order a civilian evacuation just in case, the military can assist with it>No reason to panic anyone, we'll just ensure we have enough survival provisions for everyone in case of power outages or flooding>Write in
>>5418987>No reason to panic anyone, we'll just ensure we have enough survival provisions for everyone in case of power outages or flooding
>>5418987>>Order a civilian evacuation just in case, the military can assist with itgot a bad feeling about the storm
>>5418987>Order a civilian evacuation just in case, the military can assist with it
>>5418987>>No reason to panic anyone, we'll just ensure we have enough survival provisions for everyone in case of power outages or flooding
You stare up at the display, watching the spiral arms of the hurricane slowly rotating, pixel by pixel as it draws steadily nearer to New Tampa."It's just a storm," you say. "We've weathered worse. There's no reason to start a panic." You look to Mbaru. "Before the UN leaves us here, have them drop off enough emergency supplies for the civilian population. Enough to keep everyone alive in the worst case."Mbaru nods.You take a deep breath and then release it as a sigh. "Alright. Let's get moving on this. Normal rotations as expected. We can travel via the metro tunnels as long as the pumps don't go offline."As the staff disperses to carry out your orders, you watch the storm inching along, its deadly fury rendered as colored pixels. It's just a storm. So why do you have a bad feeling about it?
You are Ethan Chandler, and Korine opens her door, a mischievous grin on her face. "Yo.""Hey," you say. "Movies?"She grins somehow wider. "You betcha." She steps aside and lets you enter. Her apartment is relatively clean with a minimum of clothes on the floor. "Keeping it clean, huh?" you tease."Bite me," she returns. She flops on a couch and gestures vaguely for you to take a seat. "Snacks in the kitchen. Popcorn and shit if you want.""Yeah, I think I do.""Hey, make me some too," she calls as you step into the kitchen. You snort but begin preparing two bowls of popcorn."So what's on the docket?" you call over the hum of the microwave."Boggy Creek 3: Revengeance.""Is that really what it's called?"Korine laughs. "No. I've got a couple zombie movies actually. Two Romero ones- Dawn and Day- plus a few Italian ripoffs.""Nice."The bag begins to pop."I'm trying to . . . you know . . . keep a better handle on things," Korine says."Handle?""On my life," she says. "I want to . . . do better. You know? I want to be better."> Self-improvement is one of the toughest things to do, but I'm sure you can do it.>Have you talked to anyone about your feelings? Maybe some therapy or something could help.>You don't need to 'do better'. You're fine as you are.>Write in
>>5419934>> Self-improvement is one of the toughest things to do, but I'm sure you can do it.also"I've got your back for whatever you need."or words to the effect.
>>5419934> Self-improvement is one of the toughest things to do, but I'm sure you can do it.
>>5419934>> Self-improvement is one of the toughest things to do, but I'm sure you can do it.
"Wow," you say. "Self-improvement is tough. Probably one of the hardest things to do, but if there's anyone who can do it, I'm sure it's you."You watch the bag rotate in the microwave, the smell of popcorn filling the air."Thanks for the vote of confidence," Korine says. "Doubt I'll stick with it though.""Ah, negative attitude," you say."Fine, I'm positive that I won't stick with it."You laugh. The microwave beeps at you and you take the popcorn out and pour it into a bowl before carrying it back to the living room. You set it between you and Korine on the couch. "You know whatever you need, I've got your back."She smiles at you, but she looks tired. "Thanks. It's pretty tough. I'm working with Dr. Caswell on my meds and stuff. Trying to find something that works for me.""That's awesome," you say."Not really," she shoves a handful of popcorn into her mouth. "Kinda lame actually. Talking about meds like some old bitch. Ready?""Ready," you say.She hits play.It's a simple movie: Zombies lay siege to a shopping mall. Somehow it also says a lot. The effects are hokey, the acting is a mixed bag, but somehow you enjoy it."Watch this part," Korine says a number of times, typically right before a gruesome zombie kill or human death. She has a great time, particularly when everything goes to shit at the end. It feels sort of like an essay about the human condition, a story about things falling apart."Awesome," she says as the helicopter flies for the horizon and credits roll in the mall, once again in the hands of the dead."Pretty good," you say. "Old. The zombies were blue and the blood was Crayola red."She laughs. "Yeah? That's what makes it fun! Ready for the next one?"Rain patters at the windows of her apartment. Lightning wreaths the horizon outside as the hurricane draws nearer."Sure."You start getting the next tape ready."How's your playing going?" you ask as you rewind Dawn."Playing""Piano.""Ah. It's good I guess," she says. "Nothing new really.""I still think about that song you played. The one you wrote."Korine tries to look nonchalant, but you sense she's embarrassed about it. "It's whatever.""You've got a knack for it.""Sure," she says.There's a lull in conversation as you eject the old tape and slide in the next one. Day of the Dead. At least the zombie makeup looks better."You remember that first day we hung out?" Korine asks. "I asked you to go shopping with me.""Yeah," you say. "Of course.""What were you thinking? I mean what was going through your head when I asked you to come with me?">I was thinking you couldn't be any weirder than anyone else I'd met so far>I was glad to have someone to hang out with>I guess I wasn't thinking about anything really>Write in
>>5420952>>I was glad to have someone to hang out with
"What was I thinking?""Yeah.""I was thinking it would be great to have someone to hang out with. I didn't know anyone and . . . " you think of Linda. "I was alone.""And now you're stuck with me," She laughs. "It was pretty weird, right? I don't normally just pester random people.""I thought it was nice of you.""Yeah, exactly. Do I seem like the type of person to just do something randomly nice?""Yes," you say.Korine is momentarily at a loss for words. She opens her mouth and then closes it again. "Well. Fine."You laugh at her discomfort. "Aw, don't be like that.""Whatever," she says with mock irritation. "You don't know me. I'm cold and hard and evil.""I'm sure you are.""Just put the movie on," she says.You hit play.If Dawn was about the death of humanity, Day of the Dead is about its slowly decaying body. Things don't collapse so much as they rot. The special effects are without a doubt much better, the acting is mostly superb, and you think it's a far darker story."Look!" Korine thumps your shoulder. "Clown zombie!"Sure enough, there is a clown zombie."That's the draw for you, huh? Spectacle?""Hell yes," Korine says with utter seriousness. "All style, no substance.""You're not serious," you say, watching a soldier get pulled apart by the undead. "Why not?'"Why? I don't know. You strike me as deeper than that."She gives you an amused. "Deeper? Uh oh. We got a philosopher on our hands."You brush her off "I mean the spectacle is cool, but there's more to it, yeah?"She shrugs. "Life's a spectacle. Make of it what you will I guess. Crazy shit happens then you die.">There's more to life than that. There's meaning.>I guess you're right about that>Write in
>>5421745>>There's more to life than that. There's meaning.
>>5421745>I guess you're right about that
>>5421745>There's more to life than that. There's meaning.
"There's more to life than that. There's meaning.""Meaning?" Korine frowns. She more than frowns. She looks downright bitter. "How can you- You really think that?""I think so," you say. "I mean . . . without meaning-""Then there's no point. Right?" She gives you a tired smile."Right.""I don't think there is a point, Ethan. Life's a bitch then you die. That's what happened to my mom. That's what happened to Sayid, and . . . I mean . . . " She looks uncomfortable.She doesn't need to say it. You think of Linda. Not Linda as she appears now, but as she was. You think of her smiling and laughing. You think of her dying."I know what you mean," you say. "I just . . . I can't accept that. I won't. There's meaning. Even if it's meaning we give it ourselves. It means something.""Maybe," Korine says. She looks out the window behind the couch, into the dark. Flashes of distant lightning flicker above the ocean. "Maybe you're right. Maybe I just haven't found the meaning I want yet.""You've got time," you say."And if I don't?" she asks. She tries to sound callous, but it only comes across scared.You wonder if Linda ever suspected how little time she'd have on this earth. You wonder if Linda cares about that anymore. You wonder how much time you have yourself. Whatever it is, you suspect it won't be enough. But somehow, it will have to be.You lay a hand on her shoulder. "You spend your time worrying about that and you'll go crazy.""Too late," she says."We fight for the days we have, alright? I've got your back and you've got mine. Right?"Korine nods, seeming to pull herself together a bit more. "Right. Nothing's ever easy, right?"You smile. "Right."Silence lapses and thunder rolls."Hey, Ethan.""Hm?""Want to listen to me play some more?""Definitely."
You are Aaliyah Sayid. It's dark again, but this time it's not raining, not here anyway. A cold wind whips westward through the city. Liter scatters down the street and forms into drifts. Despite the lack of any official evacuation, the streets are silent. Everyone is indoors, relying on steel and concrete to safeguard them from the coming fury of the storm.Storm shutters have been lowered on windows, emergency flood drainage systems are open, awnings rolled up. The city is braced and ready.Few people would be stupid enough to venture out on the eve of a hurricane strike, but you're apparently one of them.You stand at the base of the seawall on the north side of the city. The towering armored wall looms before you. A darkened tunnel leads inward. It's marked with the strange address you were given. Alphanumeric code.Signs warn off unauthorized personnel, but the chain link gate securing the tunnel is open.You resist the urge to check your gun. Instead, you look at the sign over the tunnel.TIDAL GENERATOR No. 21You enter.The tunnel is dark and noisy. The roar of the waves echoes through it back at you, growing in intensity with every step. You pass through a handful of open watertight doors before you reach the main generator room. It's a large, cement chamber that houses the paddle-like tidal generators. The boom arms are locked in position and the sea inlet is closed though you can hear waves pounding it from outside.It smells of the ocean here and the humidity is almost unbearable. The walls are slimy with algae."That's far enough." The voice echoes in the chamber, somehow audible even over the waves.You stop."Your gun. Take it out slowly and lay it on the ground with two fingers, then take three big steps back."You peer into the darkness, eyes flicking along rows of machinery until you spot the speaker. A man in plain clothes has a handgun leveled at you.For a moment you're still but then you do as you're told, laying your gun down and backing away. It takes every ounce of willpower you have to leave your only bargaining chip at your feet. You're operating on faith.You remain still as more figures emerge from the dark one by one, weapons on you. A half dozen in all, men and women. One of them- a woman- steps forward, apparently unarmed. She carries no weapon and manages to look both assured and afraid. It's a look you recognize. It's a look of someone resigned to their own mortality.
"Hello Sayid," she says."Doctor Scott, I presume.""Macy," she says. "Just Macy is fine. It's past time that we spoke.""You're the ones who tried to kill Womack," you say. "You tried to take Ethan too."Macy smiles but it doesn't reach her eyes. "That's right.""Who are you people?""Ex-Nerv mostly," she says. "People who found out the truth, or enough of it to be worried. Worried enough to act.""About the Angel? The one beneath the city?"Macy looks momentarily surprised. "So you've learned about that.""Cain, Versetti called it. What is it? What's he doing with it?""Sayid, who do you work for? You were Nerv once, yes? But now the UN is reaching out to us. Are you UN intelligence?"You don't see any reason to keep that a secret anymore. "I'm on assignment from the UN Council," you say. "Yes."She shakes her head. "Then you're here on a fool's errand.""I'm trying to get to the bottom of all this. If Versetti is up to something then the UN-""Is fully aware of what Versetti is doing here," she interrupts. "Or at least what he's supposed to be doing. You think they don't know about Cain?"Of all the things you exp[ected to feel today, confusion wasn't one of them. "If that were true then they wouldn't have bothered sending me.""Sayid," Macy says. "You really don't get it, do you? You're just another part of their plan. You're as much of a pawn here as anyone.">I'm more of a bishop. Slightly more useful, still not necessary for a victory>You're saying the UN and Nerv are both in on this?>I'm not in the mood for theatrics. Start talking>Write in
>>5423119>>You're saying the UN and Nerv are both in on this?
>>5423119>You're saying the UN and Nerv are both in on this?
You ignore the jibe. "What are you saying?" you ask. "The UN and Nerv are both in on this?""Is it really that surprising?" Macy asks you. "Think about it. Nerv is a powerful organization, sure. But how far could Versetti develop his plan without their tacit approval? How could he keep an Angel hidden from them? Do you think you're the first person to discover it?""I know about the Angel," you say. "But not what they want it for. What is the secret city down there? Nod, the Veil of Eden, the Serpent. What is it all?""I'll start at the beginning," she says. "Versetti and his Antarctic expedition.""That's where they collected Cain," you say."Yes," she says. "Adam's first child. One of many as we'd later discover. In the early days, it was Versetti, Holiday, and Kauffman.""The former science head?""Yes," she says. "He was one of the ones who started all this. When the first angel was discovered he saw its potential to do good, the power to protect humanity. That mission was originally to collect genetic samples from Adam–the same samples they would use in the development of the Evas– but they discovered something else. The true second angel.""There were two Angels in the ice?"Macy shakes her head. "When Adam exploded he didn't just take out a third of humanity. He also seeded his offspring across the globe. The Angels. They're shards of the father in effect. Pieces of Adam scattered to the far corners of the world. They're awakening now, but they were first spread in the chaos of Second Impact. The first we found beside Adam himself was there in Antarctica. Still embryonic, it was a sign of things to come. Versetti called it 'a seed'. A seed of the future. Cain.""They took it back with them."She nods. "By this time the true magnitude of the disaster was becoming clear. The Angels weren't done with us yet. There would be more. We had to prepare a weapon that could deal with them.""The Evas."She nods again. "They didn't know how much time they had, but the Angel which attacked Buenos Aires showed them they had less time than they thought. It was drawn to Cain somehow, I think. It came for him.""Cain? Why?"Macy shakes her head. "I don't know. Something about the nature of the Angels, they seem drawn to one another almost magnetically. Evas have this same effect to a lesser degree. Cain seems to burn especially bright. Like a beacon drawing them in.""Toward this city.""Yes," She says. "At least, I think so." After a moment, she continues. "Kaufman was in charge of designing not only the Evangelions, but also the Serpent.."
"What is it?""The Serpent is the pinnacle of bio-technological development using the angels. It's the control mechanism for Cain. It's what keeps him complacent and docile to allow them to harvest genetic material. He's where they hope to get a functioning S2 core.""An S2? What for?"She gives you a look that makes you feel like an ant. "Use your imagination, Sayid. An S2 core would be a source of unlimited, free energy. Nothing would be off limits to us then.""And you think that's a bad thing?""In and of itself? No. The problem is that Versetti and the UN differ on this matter."You're getting tired of drawing answers out of her. "What do you mean 'differ'?""The United Nations . . . it's not what it seems, Sayid. World peace, unity, one world government, all of that is . . . it's a front for something else.""What?""Control," she says. "They don't want to harness the Lightning for Hire to help everyone. They want to do it to control everyone. Versetti is a part of their plan–just like you are, only Versetti isn't cooperating with them.""How?"She shakes her head looking at the ground. "I don't know exactly. My role in the development of the Serpent was extremely limited. But I can guess.""So guess."She looks up at you. There's no mistaking the fear in her eyes. "I think Versetti wants to use it to subjugate everything. I think he wants that power for himself. He wants to drive the Celestial Team alone, understand?""How is that possible? So what if he has an S2 core, what good does that do?""You don't get it. It's not just an engine. It's not a powerplant. It's . . . it's not even just a weapon. The power the S2 contains is more than just potential energy. It's . . . " She's struggling for words."It's what?""It's the power of God."The only sound is the waves pounding the sealed inlet hatch.>So all we have to do is destroy it.>Why would the UN hand the power of God to Versetti if they don't trust him?>You're crazy. The UN wouldn't ever authorize something like this. It doesn't make any sense>Write in
>>5423729>>Why would the UN hand the power of God to Versetti if they don't trust him?
>>5423729>Why would the UN hand the power of God to Versetti if they don't trust him?
"Why would they trust Versetti? If you're right about Cain and the S2, then why would they ever hand it over to someone they don't trust?""Why? I can't pretend to know what they think, but I imagine it's several things. The first is control. They're used to having it. It's what their power is built on and it's what they want to maintain. They think they can control Versetti. Secondly, I think that's why you and the other UN spies are here. You're bells around a cat's neck. You're a tripwire in case Versetti goes off script."You bristle at the idea of your life being used so callously but . . . something about it seems to fit, especially given the UN's apparent lack of urgency in responding to this situation."But most importantly," she says. "They gave him the Angel because they think they have the power to take it back whenever they want."You don't want to imagine what a Nerv/UN power struggle might look like."So what's the gameplan?" you say. "What are his next steps?"She shakes her head. "I'm a scientist. I'm not a spy and I'm not a soldier. I don't know what Versetti is planning. With the introduction of a second Angel to Nerv, I think it's bought some time. He's going to likely try to remove that Angel's core first. A test maybe, or maybe the real deal. But really I think what everyone is waiting on is the final Angel.""Final?""The Angels were spawned by Adam's death. They're numbered by Nerv. Finitely. I suspect Versetti knows how many are left, and I suspect it's not many.""So there's not much time," you say."No," she agrees. She looks tired. Beaten. "Unlike me, Sayid, you are a spy. You are a soldier. What are we going to do?"The eyes of the others are all on you. They look just as tired as their apparent leader. Each of them is looking to you for guidance.>I'm sorry, I don't know>We're going to have to wait for an opportunity to destroy Cain. We can't act too soon.>I'll arrange a secret meeting with one of the pilots to see if we can win them to our side>Write in
>>5425659>>We're going to have to wait for an opportunity to destroy Cain. We can't act too soon.
You feel more alone than even when you were in that torture cell. If what Macy says is correct that means you're really on your own. If this is just some kind of game of control to the UN then can you really even trust them? Then again, can you trust her?Whatever the truth, you can't just do nothing. "We're going to have to wait for an opportunity to destroy Cain," you say. "If we move too soon then we're sunk."Macy nods. "I don't know what that will look like yet," you say, "but we're not without options. We have choices open to us. People I trust."Macy takes a deep breath. "I think you're right. We have to wait for the right moment. Let's just hope it's not too late."Thunder rolls outside making everyone jump. The storm is almost here."We'll get you a way to contact us," Macy says. "But I think our time is up.""Stay safe," you say. "And be ready.""We always are."
Far from the humid maintenance tunnels Sayid was in, Korine McIntosh is safe and warm, alone in her apartment. She sits at her keyboard, facing the windows and watching the hurricane draw nearer. Lighting slashes through the dark, billowing clouds and wind rips at the palm trees lining the city streets. Driving sheets of rain clatter off the glass in wet gusts. The fury of nature on display and barreling straight for them.Korine wasn't worried. The building was next to indestructible. The glass was shatterproof, unyielding. It was basically a fortress. She also wasn't worried because she was mentally, quite far away.She played her heart, fingers dancing over keys to the accompaniment of thunder.https://youtu.be/CeZW57CMgpoShe was alone, but while she played she wasn't lonely. She thought of herself as broken. Broken in nearly every way. Like shattered glass, she had jagged, sharp edges that cut other people. Maybe she was beyond fixing, maybe the most she could hope for was to be left alone.But while she played, she made something beautiful. For those minutes, her music was an expression–not of herself–but of herself as she'd like to be. Beautiful and whole.So she played as the wind howled, the thunder roared, and the rain pounded.***Far underground in Nerv 03, Ethan hugs Katya as she finishes her shift and he takes over. This far below ground, there is no indication of any storm outside. LCD panels in the subterranean halls show warm beach scenes and calm oceans. Katya leaves and travels by metro back to her apartment, seeing nothing of the storm.Ethan takes his post in the pilot ready room, content to wait in calm stillness, thinking about the next time he can see Katya again. He settles into a routine of quiet contemplation and thoughtfulness, his mind exploring possible futures.
You are Aaliyah Sayid and you're again in bed with Max. You smell sweat, sex, and above all else, cigarettes. "Fuck," Max says, aggressively extinguishing the cigarette. "Makes me sick," he says."What does?""This," he indicates the smoldering cigarette butt. "God, I can't even smoke anymore."You put your own cigarette out. Nasty habit, but there are some times when you just need one. The sheets fall away from your body as you roll over to be closer to him. His arm automatically goes around you. You lay your head on his chest. It's fake of course. This moment is as artificial a buzz as the cigarettes you smoke. But you want it as much as you want a good smoke after a good fuck. You hadn't intended to end up with Max like this again. You thought once would blow off some tension and make things easier. You'd told him everything Macy had told you about the UN and control and Cain and then . . .Well, here you are."We're fucked, aren't we?" Max asks. "I mean, no matter how this goes, we're totally fucked. If she's right and the Colonel is up to something and the UN is too then . . . what do we have?">She's full of shit>We've still got ourselves>Yeah, we're fucked. But so what?>write in
>>5426384>>Yeah, we're fucked. But so what?
>>5426385>Yeah, we're fuckenjd2vd. But so what?
>>5426385>Consider reawakening the angel from it's S2 core
You are Max Goldberg, and despite the fact that Aaliyah did most of the work, you're still tired. "Yeah," she says, taking a long drag on her cigarette. "We're fucked." She rolls onto her back and puts her hands behind her head as she stares at the ceiling. "But so what?"You tear your eyes from her body to meet her gaze, cool, serious.You start laughing. If you were pressed, you're not sure you would be able to explain why you find it funny, but you do. As the rains drum on your window and lightning flashes through the blinds, you laugh.Sayid's normally blank mask cracks for a moment too. She grins back at you."Yeah," you say. "So fucking what."Sayid gives you a deadpan wink. "Now you're catching on." She glances over at the bedside clock. "You've got a shift, don't you?"The amusement you felt fades a bit. "Yeah." You would give just about anything to stay in this bed with Sayid a while longer. Hell, there's a part of you that would be able to die content as long as you never had to get up again. But you get out of bed anyway.After a shameful hunt around the floor for your clothes, you start for the bathroom."Max," she says.You stop in the doorway."Be careful, okay?"You give a sad smile. "What, worried I might die?"Sayid returns your expression. "You're not ready yet.""No," you say. "Not yet."You shower as quickly as you can, letting the hot water run over you for as long as you dare before finally dressing for work. You don't say goodbye to Sayid, leaving without a word. You're lucky enough that your apartment is connected to the metro via a stairwell in the lobby. The storm outside is buffeting the city with fearsome sheets of rain and howling winds. You're grateful for the sanctuary of the metro. It's deserted except for small groups of police and UN troopers who are ensuring it's only in use by governmental personnel.
When you finally arrive at Nerv control, you see that all of the monitors are set to data about the storm. A radar map shows the vortex of Delta striking New Tampa. Other screens show CCTV footage of storm-swept streets. Monitors list rainfall and wind speeds and a street map of the city shows which have been closed off to contain flooding.A skeleton crew mans the stations, keeping Nerv operational.Yezhov is also here. He sits at his station with his feet up on the terminal. He grins as you approach."Max. You look like shit I think.""You too," you say. "But I've got an excuse. What's yours?"Yezhov laughs as you sit beside him and log in to your terminal. You sweep the data feed and check for anomalies. Roger and his science team are doing testing with the Eleventh Angel down in the containment annex. Security systems are all online and green, the Magi operating normally."Smoke?" Yezhov offers you a cigarette.You almost take it before you remember the gut-churning nausea the last one gave you. Your body really has it out for you if one of your last vices is turning you off."Trying to quit," you say.Yezhov raises an eyebrow but says nothing. To your surprise, he puts the cigarette away. "Enough to worry about already, I think." You're not sure if he means you or him. "You have new neighbor I hear."You don't, but you know he means Sayid. "Yeah.""Is good?""It's good," you say. "She's getting settled in. She's comfortable I think."Yezhov nods. "Good. This is not a friendly city.""No," you agree.>What did you do before Nerv?>What's Katya's dad like?>My 'neighbor' and I have actually gotten pretty close>Write in
>>5429324>>My 'neighbor' and I have actually gotten pretty close
>>5429324>What did you do before Nerv?
"In fact," you say. "My new neighbor and I have actually gotten . . pretty close."Yezhov eyes you, surprised, then amused. "Oh?" He chuckles. "I think some people have all the luck. Hmm? Maybe your new neighbor live with me for a while.""I think she hates you," you say with a smirk."Make it more interesting, no?" He laughs."Well, is dangerous city. Is lonely city. Is maybe good you have each other then." "Maybe," you say. "It sort of came out of nowhere.""For her maybe, not for you I think.""Am I that transparent?" you ask.Yezhov just smirks at you. "Just keep your head on your work, eh? I hate to lose you.""That won't be a problem," you say, thinking about how hard it was to get out of bed today. You look over the monitors and marvel at the ferocity of the storm. Waves smash impotently over the cement water breakers and dikes that ring the city and drainage pumps so far are keeping up with the deluge. The metro tunnels are mostly clear. At least for now."Work is number one with me," you say, thinking about everything Sayid told you, wondering how much Yezhov knows and how much he can be trusted. "No worries there.""Keep it that way," Yezhov says.And on the storm comes. The following minutes blur together in a smear of nothingness. You watch as the powerful winds of the inner wall of the cyclone ravage the looser parts of the city. They strip palms and tear up awnings before finally, the eye passes over.You sit up and watch the monitors keenly. For everything you've seen in life, the interior of the eye of a hurricane isn't one of them.It's eerily calm. The city fits perfectly within the massive eye. From the CCTV cameras mounted on New Tampa's highest skyscrapers, you can see the swirling gray storm like a wall around you, isolating you from reality."Incredible," you say.Yezhov only nods.You're starting to think about going topside to see it in person when one of your monitors beeps an update.
You can't believe what you're seeing. It can't be right."What?" Yezhov asks. "What is it?""Something's not right," you say. You call up satellite data with a few quick commands. It corroborates surface sensors. You feel a chill run down your spine."What?" Yezhov asks, more insistently."The storm," you say, looking up. "It's stopped."Hurricane Delta hovers over New Tampa, ringing the city with its eye. A window of clear blue sky above framed by walls of raging storm clouds. The hurricane is no longer moving as it should but rather sits in place, perfectly centered on the city.Your heart is beating faster. This isn't natural. It can't be natural. Hurricanes don't just stop like this."This isn't-"The monitors flash a warning. BLOOD TYPE BLUEANGEL DETECTED"Oh my god."Simultaneously, around the entire ring of the storm, lightning flashes all at once.
You are Doctor Roger Caswell, head of Nerv Science Division and you are well and truly within your element. Deep beneath even the submerged command and control sections of Nerv 03, you are one part of a larger scientific team parsing new information.This place, once called containment, has been transformed into what most called the Science Annex now. Rings of subterranean laboratories have sprung up around a central holding chamber. A massive, red-lit room that contains the Eleventh Angel- or at least what's left of it.It's cross-shaped, geometric skeleton frames a red S2 core which pulses with untapped potential as the Angel sleeps its life away.You hum to yourself as you work. Symphonies of mathematics waltz across your computer screen in a ceaseless parade of data. You don't consider yourself religious or even spiritual, but right now you feel as though you're one with the harmonies of the universe, in tune with the grand Waltz of Life that plays around you.You sit at the foremost bank of computer terminals facing the broad, armored glass windows that look into the containment chamber. You're one of a dozen other scientists and technicians reviewing the information coming back from the sensors which ring the Angel. Once you have the data you need, you'll be able to proceed with the S2 extraction experiment and then-You stop and look up. You're not the only one humming. One of the other technicians is also humming as he types. It's the same song.He looks up, noticing your gaze. "What?"You open your mouth to reply and the power goes out. The room is plunged into absolute darkness, the kind only possible in the depths of the earth. You have just enough time to draw a nervous breath before the lights come back. The nuclear reactor and battery backups have kicked in, restoring power to the Annex. The other scientists and techs murmur nervously. That isn't supposed to happen. Was it just the Annex or was it the whole base? You suppose you'd better find out.You pick up a phone receiver built into the desk and go to punch the number for Command into the keypad when you stop. Your eyes and your mind can't reconcile what you're seeing.
A girl.The other science division personnel in the room take note of her and stop as well.There's a girl in the containment room. A girl with the Angel. But no, she's not a girl. She can't be. Her feet don't touch the ground. Not even close. She hovers dozens of meters off the ground, facing the Angel's S2 core. She has enormous, pearlescent wings which are spread, but still and her head is ringed by a shining halo of gold.No one breathes, no one makes any sound, as if the slightest disturbance will break whatever spell has hold of everyone.The girl looks over, directly at you despite the distance and you're more startled to realize that you recognize her after all. Linda Bordeaux, the pilot from Anchorage. The one who died."Everyone out," you say.No one moves."Everyone out!"The science staff flee for the exit in a mad scramble, knocking aside coffee and computers. Papers fly through the air like leaves, but you still can't move.Linda turns back to the Angel and speaks. Her voice carries clearly over the intercom somehow."Let’s go, Child of Adam. We have work to do.”Light begins to fill the containment chamber. Alarms blare madly around you. Warnings flash up on computer screens as all the readings point to one ultimate conclusion. The Angel is waking up.You have to get out.***Roll 1d6 I need 3 rolls total
Rolled 5 (1d6)>>5430150
Rolled 2 (1d6)>>5430150
Rolled 6 (1d6)>>5430150
Just like that, the spell is broken. You run. You're the last one out of the lab, at least you have enough self-control left to ensure that. Behind you the light pouring from the containment chamber gets hotter and brighter. It feels like a sunburn on your exposed flesh before the blast doors close behind you. A moment later A shockwave runs through the facility and you stagger and fall.***You Rose Holiday and the control center is in chaos when you arrive."What the hell is going on?" you demand."The storm's stopped overhead," Max says. "We detected an AT field projection just before we lost main power."AT field?" you say."The strongest we've ever registered," Max adds."Is an Angel controlling the hurricane?""Unknown," Max says.A vibration runs through the floor and the monitors all flicker.For a heartbeat you're silent, staring in shock at Max and Yezhov who stare back. "What the Hell was that?" you ask, voice barely a whisper."Shockwave from Science Annex," Yezhov says.A schematic of the facility appears on the monitor, damaged areas in red.
"Magi report massive damage to main containment.""Oh my God," Your mind is racing. First, you think of Roger. He was down there with his team. Did he do something? Or . . . you stop. "The Angel?"Yezhov only shakes his head."Someone find out what the hell is happening. Get Ethan to his Eva.""Already moving him," Max says.A fresh alarm goes off. Mx whirls to look at his monitor and only blinks a few times, mouth agape."What?" you demand."Orion . . . Orion just activated.""Renton's Eva? I thought Ethan was on standby.""He is," Max says. He types a command into her terminal. "Orion's plug isn't inserted . . . it's empty.""Get me visual," you snap.The primary display resolves to feed from Orion's cage. The Eva is in the act of wrenching itself free from the gantry securing it in place. Steel twists like cheap plastic, buckling and splintering away. The raw power of an Evangelion is on display as it frees itself, no longer chained by the shackles you'd held it in.You almost don't notice the girl at first. She has wings and she hovers just over Orion's shoulder as it frees itself."What the hell is that?" you ask."The Final Angel," Colonel Versetti says. You hadn't heard him enter the room. "Sir?" you ask. Events are moving too fast for you to linger on what he just said,"Seal all blast doors and bulkheads," Versetti says. "Recall the pilots and all active duty personnel. Put the city on full alert."You look at Max and nod. "Do it."Versetti takes a seat at the rear of the room, your father at his side. "It will be making its way toward the core of this facility. Captain Holiday, your job is to stop it at any cost.""Sir, what-""If that Angel reaches the depths of this base," Versetti says. "Then we're looking at the end of all Mankind.""Sir, what the hell is happening? Who is that girl? That looks like-""It isn't," Versetti says. "It's an Angel and it's gathering components for Third Impact."You feel a wave of horror wash over you."It has everything it needs but one thing, and that thing is being held in secure storage beneath this facility," Versetti says. "If the Angel reaches it, then it's all over. Do you understand?""Y-yes sir.""Then launch Hydra and destroy it."You turn to Max. "Get me Ethan."
As Orion tears its way out of the Eva cages and on toward the central access shaft, you're patched into Ethan's communications system. His image appears on the screen, he looks determined but worried."Rose, what's going on? I hear explosions. Is it an Angel?"You're sure of it now. That Angel, that girl. It's Linda Bordeaux, Ethan's friend. You don't know how, you don't know why, but you recognize her. Of course, it can't really be her. How could it be? It's impossible."Yes," you say. "It's an Angel.""Then let's get this done," Ethan says."Ethan," you say "You have to stop this one. No matter what it takes. If this Angel gets to the bottom of the base it will kill everyone. Everyone."Ethan grits his teeth. "Same shit, different day.">Launch the Eva>You need to know that this Angel looks like Linda. You can't let that stop you. You have to kill it.>Write in
>>5431308>>Launch the EvaIt'll be fiiiine.
>>5431308>>Launch the Eva
>>5431308>You need to know that this Angel looks like Linda. You can't let that stop you. You have to kill it.
You are Ethan Chandler and you're in your Eva. You're deploying for combat in the last place you ever expected to. Nerv 03 was the innermost sanctum of the most heavily defended fortress on earth. It was inconceivable that the enemy would breach this place so easily. Stepping from your Eva's gantry, it's just a matter of following the wave of destruction."Hydra moving," you say. You press the control throttles forward and pursue the rogue Eva."The Angel has taken control of Orion," Rose says, her voice sounding thin over the radio. "We're working on remote shutdown solutions but for now, consider Orion hostile.""Got it.""Ethan, it's Colonel Versetti."This is a surprise."Consider Orion expendable," he says. "Destroy it if you must. The Angel cannot reach beyond the Veil of Eden."You have no idea what he's talking about, but you're not about to argue with him. "Yes, sir."You duck through a pulverized armored door and move along a narrow access shaft, your Eva's shoulders brushing the walls."Captain, any weapons for me?" you ask."We're working on it, Ethan. For now, you have your prog knife."You're not sure exactly how useful a knife is going to be against this Angel, but it's all you have."Backup?" you ask.Versetti cuts in again. "The Angel will reach the Veil well before reinforcements arrive. Stop it."
You reach the edge of a vertical shaft and peer down into the black depths. You can faintly see a descending angelic glowing. Orion is being lowered down the shaft, its arms and legs splayed like a spider. Since you can't fly, you grab hold of an elevator cable and it begins lowering you after the Eva. As you descend, your mind races. How did an Angel get into Nerv? How was it controlling an Eva? How the hell were you going to kill it? And more troubling, what was the Veil of Eden? Was it some defensive layer you'd neglected to learn about?Worry builds in your gut. Rose had said everyone would die if you failed. She sounded like she meant it."So don't fuck up," you whisper to yourself. You don't want to admit it to yourself but you're afraid.A flash of light at the bottom of the shaft precedes a blast of hot air and smoke. "Final armor plate breached," Max says."Ethan, stop it outside the Aquafront," Versetti says. More terms you don't understand.You see the bottom of the shaft now, the glow is closer. You release the cable and fall the remaining distance before landing on a large metal floor with a reverberating boom.You stand your Eva from its crouch and deploy your knife, facing your enemies alone. The bottom of the shaft is circular and dark. Orion is here. It stands hunched, like an ape, its arms dangling its side, head cocked animalistically toward you.Beside it is something you initially don't recognize. It's a shape you've seen before, a double-barred cross, the size of an Eva. It hovers silently, S2 core glowing. An Angel.The third figure steals your breath. Human-sized. Linda.She's just like you last saw her, wings and all. Now she's crowned with a golden halo. She floats between the Angel and Eva at her side.Between you and them is a circular hole that's been blasted in the bottom of the shaft. At first, it looks like empty blackness below. It takes another second for you to recognize that there is water. Waves lap and splash in the dark like an ocean."Hello, Ethan. I knew you'd come," Linda says. Her voice is clear to you like she's right beside you. "I dreamed it." She closes her eyes.The crushing dark depths of the secret sea.She smiles and opens her eyes. "This is it. It's us. It's always us.">What the hell are you doing?>Don't do this, please>If you're here to destroy us, I won't let you>Write in
>>5432405>>What the hell are you doing?
>>5432405>What the hell are you doing?Just keep talking. Delay delay delay.
"Linda?" you say. You're shaking. You can't believe what you're seeing, and for once you don't think you're the only one. "What the hell are you doing?"Linda looks between Eva and Angel. "We're here to free Cain," she says. "We're here to start the Reconciliation of our kinds.""Reconciliation?" You repeat. "You keep saying that. You keep using that word. What are you talking about?""Human," she says. "Angel. Diametrically opposed. The fruit of knowledge and the fruit of life. You hate and fear one another. When I first became what I am, I was confused. I couldn't make sense of my thoughts, I couldn't make sense of this conflict between our kinds. I thought that only one could inherit this world.""So what side did you choose?" you ask.She shakes her head. "You don't get it. We don't have to choose. We could be one.""One?""Like me," she says. "Human and Angel."Versetti's voice buzzes in your cockpit, "This is a lie. Destroy her."You ignore him."How?""Through the power of Cain. I saw it in my dreams, Ethan. Adam's son holds the power to shape reality, even beyond what I can do." She laughs. "Can you imagine it? A world of our design, Ethan. You and me. And everyone.""And the Angels?""Everyone," she repeats."All as one."You can't help yourself, you try to picture it but you can't. Humans and Angels all as one? One entity? One mind? One race? "What would that even look like?" you ask."No more physical forms," she says. Linda becomes Katya before your eyes. "No more restrictions." She's Korine now. "Only what we dream.">That's not reality, Linda. It's just a lie. A dream isn't real.>You're talking about destroying everyone, not saving them.>How do you know it will even work?>write in
>>5432832>>write in"Neat. I'm in."
>>5432832>That's not reality, Linda. It's just a lie. A dream isn't real.No matter the form, a Lie will remain a Lie
>>5432832>How do you know it will even work?
>>5432832>>That's not reality, Linda. It's just a lie. A dream isn't real.>How do you know it will even work?
>>5432871>>5433128>>5433197>That's not reality, Linda. It's just a lie. A dream isn't real.>How do you know it will even work?
"That's not reality, Linda," you say. "A dream isn't real."Linda frowns. "You can't accept any reality but the one you see, can you?""It doesn't matter what I see," you say, "Reality will go on with or without me. It doesn't care what I believe or what I dream. This world will exist even when I'm, dead and gone.""Are you sure about that?" Linda asks.You don't have an answer for her. "How do you even know it will really work?" You say. "I dreamed it.""Your dreams can't be wrong?"Linda smiles. "You're asking me that here?" She shakes her head, amused. "They haven't been wrong yet.""That's no guarantee," you say.Shock is plain on her face. Then she gives a patient smile. "It sounds like you need to think about it. I didn't expect you would understand. You have tens of thousands of years of evolution screaming at you to survive no matter the cost. You can't even see the other option."Linda looks up at the Angel beside her, floating silently. "A servant of heaven." She looks at Orion, its dark gray faceplate is blank and impassive. "A servant of mankind." She smiles at you. "Just like you, Ethan."Orion deploys its knife and steps forward aggressively, moving between you and the Angels."I'll leave the ultimate choice to you, Ethan. But I can't wait anymore," Linda says. "Cain wants to be free."The cross angel descends through the open hole and into the churning waves below. Linda follows behind on shimmering wings."Linda!" You shout, but she's gone.Orion moves closer, its head lolled to one side, knife at the ready. It moves stiffly, like a puppet."Ethan," Rose says, "We've rigged up a system to access the Eva armory. We're sending down a lance. ETA is sixty seconds."Orion takes another jerking step closer, circling the hole. You don't have sixty seconds.>Engage Orion with your knife>Avoid Orion until the lance arrives>Evade Orion and pursue the Angels>write in
>>5433255>>Avoid Orion until the lance arrivesBah. Anon never chooses the interesting options.
>>5433255>>Avoid Orion until the lance arrives
>>5433255>Engage Orion with your knife
Orion lunges at you and makes an awkward sweep with its knife. You barely scramble back in time, your Eva's feet crashing on the armored floor. Renton's Eva has always been an ally, seeing it like this is jarring.The gray Eva takes a few more jerky steps, moving side to side, its head lolling limply, knife cutting glowing afterimages through the air. It seems like it's toying with you.Orion lunges again and you manage to bat the arm aside so the blade drives into the wall of the shaft with a shower of white sparks."Thirty seconds"You risk a glance up and see the lance being lowered on a cable. In that moment, Orion lunges at you again.***Roll 1d6 I need 3 rolls total
Rolled 6 (1d6)>>5433693
Rolled 2 (1d6)>>5433693
Sidestepping the clumsy attack is no object. You move like a dancer, swinging away from danger at the last minute and deflecting Orion's arm with your own empty hand. You feel and hear the bones splinter like a tree trunk coming apart. Orion's arm-broken below the elbow- flops limply at its side.The enemy Eva simply reaches down with its good arm and takes the knife from its dead hand. You can't help but feel like it's not really trying."Ethan!" Rose shouts.On instinct, you hold your arm up and catch the falling lance. The second your Eva grips it, the weapon interfaces with your onboard computers, and its double prongs deploy. Onboard generators vibrate the lance to a silver blur.You barely get it down in time to ward off a second attack, swatting Orion's good arm aside. Its guard is open, Now or never.With a feral cry, you run Orion through with the lance, piecing its armor plates like paper and pin it to the wall of the shaft.With the threat immobilized, you deploy your own knife, seizing it with your off hand. One swipe and Orion's head tumbles to the floor. Red blood fountains up the wall, pulsing in time with the Eva's titanic heartbeat. Each wave of vitae comes up shorter than the one before until it's just oozing from its neck stump."Target is silent," Max says."Ethan, pursue the Angels," Versetti adds.You don't need to be told twice. You wrench the bloody lance free, blood cooks on the sharpened prongs as you pace over to the hole burned in the center of the floor and look down into the dark, Stygian Sea. You can't shake the sensation of looking down at an ocean at night. What the hell is this place even?You pursue. Dropping through the hole, your power cable only slows your descent slightly before you strike the water and sink into the black depths.
Gradually, you become aware of light. Flocks of bioluminescent creatures swirl and churn just at the edge of your vision. Dim lights shine from above like a city suspended above the water.You sink, Gradually deeper and deeper. Rusted gantries descend into the depths with you, some dotted with floodlights. The water is strangely clear. You can see the sea floor drawing steadily nearer. It's artificial. The floor is composed not of rock or sand, by geometrically arrayed cement blocks. Each is individually numbered and most are covered in slimy back growth. Pale crustaceans and blind armored fish flit by you in the dark, totally unlike any other life you've ever seen.As you descend further, you see construction debris scattered across the cement waste forming alien mounds of rusted steel and shattered blocks. This place was constructed in a hurry and then abandoned just as quickly.Your Eva lands, its knees buckling slightly to absorb the impact. As you straighten up, you see an Angelic glow from ahead. You press on, moving with underwater slowness. The target lies ahead.Rose speaks, her voice over your comm, but she's not talking to you. "Father, what . . . what is this place?"Holiday doesn't respond at first. After a beat of silence, he answers. "This is Nerv's reason for being. A prison for the Second Angel." He addresses you. "Ethan, you're approaching the Veil of Eden. If the Angels breach it then all is lost. Every man, woman, and child on this planet is doomed.""I got it," you say. Striding across the bottom of the black abyss, you make your way around uneven cement blocks and corroded metal girders.Ahead you see lights and emerge into a clearing of sorts. A massive metal door is set into the ground here labeled with faded, flaking paint warning off any intruders. "EDEN" is the only label.The cross angel floats here and Linda with it. She is apparently unphased by the ocean deep, appearing no different than she did in the air. In spite of yourself, you come to a halt and stare at them and at the door, lance at the ready.
"This is it, Ethan," She says, gesturing about it. "Welcome home. The birthplace of life. The womb of the world." Her voice is somehow unaffected by the water.It looks like an oceanic nightmare to you. There's nothing but ruin and decay here. A time-corroded armored door is framed by cyclopean blocks of cement, ringed with the carcasses of abandoned construction equipment. "It will be the birthplace of a new race as well. A child of Lilith," she indicates you- "a child of Adam-" the angel. "And one of both." She touches her own chest. "This is our new genesis. The death of Angels and mankind and the rebirth of something new.">There's not going to be any rebirth. I'm here to stop you.>Please reconsider this, Linda. What you're talking about is insane.>I want to help you. If you're right, we can change everything.>Write in
>>5434455>>I want to help you. If you're right, we can change everything.
>>5434455>There's not going to be any rebirth. I'm here to stop you.
>>5434455>I want to help you. If you're right, we can change everything.But as a lie.
>>5434730Because this is radically different than sincerely agreeing, I'm counting this as a seperate category.That goes for anyone else who aims to flip on Linda. I'll need to know otherwise I'm going to assume Ethan is sincere.
>>5434455+1 to >>5434730Attempt the flip on her. Clearly we're good at lying, right?
>>5434455>>There's not going to be any rebirth. I'm here to stop you.
>>5434794I'm voting not to flip on her
>I want to help you (sincere)>>5434465>>5434737>There's not going to be any rebirth. I'm here to stop you.>>5434707>>5434924>I want to help you (lie)>>5434730>>54348104 votes against helping and only 2 for, so I am going to combine:>There's not going to be any rebirth. I'm here to stop you.and>I want to help you (lie)writing
"I want to help you, Linda," you say, taking a step closer to her. Your Eva's foot stirs a cloud of swirling dust drawn from the muddy seafloor. "Let's work together."Linda turns to face you, expression unreadable. "You do?""I want to make a better world for everyone," you say. She smiles. "Then put down the lance."You hesitate. It's only for an instant, but it's long enough for her to frown. "You say you want to help, but it looks like you're going to fight to the end. I shouldn't have expected any different. When I was just Linda I wouldn't have understood either. Now that I'm more I can see things that you can't see."You try to speak but at first, no words come. "I wish things could be different, Linda." You swallow hard. "I really do. If they were different then-""You wouldn't have to kill me?" she asks.You don't answer her. You can't answer her.Linda only smiles back sadly. "Things can be different, Ethan," she says. "What you see right now isn't all there is. I'll show you."
You open your eyes to the sound of an alarm clock. You are Ethan Chandler, and you're still tired. Really, you'd probably give just about anything to go back to sleep. So you do. You close your eyes and pull the sheets over your head to block out the tropical sunlight filtering in past your blinds. It works at first until you hear a banging on your door."You'd better not be dozing off in there!"You groan and sit up. "No," you reply petulantly."You're going to be late. Come on, let's get a move on!"You sigh and throw the sheets off before hopping out of bed and starting to dress. Once you're sort of ready to face the day, you leave your room behind."Morning kid," your dad says. He's standing by the coffee maker and anxiously waiting for his first caffeine hit of the day. "Sleep well?"You grunt something roughly in the affirmative and shuffle into the kitchen. Breakfast for you is a couple of toaster waffles and some orange juice. As you eat, you stare out the kitchen window. Your family's apartment is a highrise so you've got a great view of New Tampa all the way out to the trio of rocket gantries lining the far edge of the island city."Don't you love Mondays?" Your dad asks, pouring himself a mug of coffee.You give him an unamused look."Yeah," he says. "I've had days like that. But it's a big day for us. Orion is launching today. Hydra is supposed to go right after it. Lots of hard work is about to pay off." Your dad works for Nerv, like most of the people in the city. Without any exaggeration, your dad is a rocket scientist. Well, maybe he'd call himself 'an aeronautical engineer or something, but the point is he works on rockets, spaceships, and satellites. All a part of the growing space exploration company. It's exciting stuff! Well, it would be exciting for someone who wasn't as used to it as you are."Ethan, you're running late," your mom says as she enters the kitchen. She moves with a whirlwind of activity, trying to apply makeup and make herself breakfast at the same time. "You too, huh?" you say."Very funny," she says.Your dad takes over breakfast making for your mom. "We're not going to be late," he says. "And you're not either if you leave soon. You don't want to miss the metro to school."Yeah, it's probably time you get going. You pull on your backpack and grab a waffle for the road. "See you guys.">I always walk to school with my best friend Renton>I always walk to school with my neighbor Linda>I always walk to school alone>Write in
>>5435561>I always walk to school with my neighbor Linda
>>5435561>>I always walk to school with my neighbor Linda
You close the apartment door behind you and cross the carpeted hall to Linda's place. You only have time to knock once before she opens the door. "Ready?" She beams. "Alive," you say, "Awake. Yes. Ready? Never."Linda laughs and pulls on her backpack. "Mom, we're going!""Have fun!"Linda closes the door and the two of you make for the elevator. "Big day at Nerv isn't it?""That's what my dad says. They're launching some of the rockets finally.""That's exciting! How cool," she says.You shrug and hit the elevator call button. "It's okay."Linda makes a face at you. "Oh come on, Ethan. It's a rocket! Outer space! You don't think that's cool?""It's not not cool," you reply. "It's just . . . I mean I hear about it all the time."The elevator arrives and you both get on, careful not to press into the other commuters taking it down to the metro stop. "It's just kind of routine," you finish."Linda laughs. "You have no sense of adventure, do you?""Guess not."She gives you a playful shove that almost knocks you into another commuter. "You're so weird," she says.You've known Linda for . . . well, it feels like forever. She was one of the first kids you met when your family moved here and you've been forever ever since basically. Over the years your relationship has changed, evolved. She was a friend, then you had a 'girls are icky' stage before you matured a little bit, enough to start hanging out with her again.Now though…
The elevator doors open and Linda loops her arm around yours and guides you off the elevator and into the metro tunnels.Now, you're not exactly how to describe things. Linda hums to herself as you board the metro, packed in with commuters and students. People chat, play music, read, or nap where they can. You and Linda stand and share a handgrip on a pole. You don't speak as the metro car accelerates from the station going north toward the stop for Snelson High School.You listen to Linda humming. You feel like you could listen to it forever. She has a beautiful voice. You know because you've heard her sing before. She's been involved in some musical projects at school including some stage plays. But her real passion is classical music. It's not really your taste, but you don't mind her going on about opuses and movements and sonatas and waltzes and whatnot."Are you excited about the dance?" Linda asks."The ocean one?"She laughs. "Under the sea," she corrects you. "Not really. Do I seem like the dancing type?""You've got a dancer's legs," she teases."If only I had a dancer's sense of coordination.""So boring," she sticks her tongue out at you.You hadn't given the school dance much thought. Just something else to overcome, and not something you're really looking forward to. You don't have a date yet and the prospect of trying to get one is pretty daunting. You're pretty sure Linda would go with you if you asked but . . . you're not sure you want to ask. At least not yet."Oh hey," Linda says. "Did you do the quiz for Ms. Holiday's class?">It would be a little late now if I hadn't. I keep on top of that stuff>Actually, I was going to ask if I could copy off you on the way there>There was a quiz!?>write in
>>5435809>It would be a little late now if I hadn't. I keep on top of that stuff
>>5435809>There was a quiz!?
>>5435809>>There was a quiz!?
>>5435809>I don't know what you were working on, because there wasn't a quiz. Clearly.
Your heart skips a beat. The Quiz. Oh god. THE QUIZ. You feel sweat break out across your forehead. You can visualize it perfectly. The take-home sheet Miss Holiday handed you at the end of class on Friday and her reminder. Do it over the weekend.You hadn't. You did the opposite of that."Ethan?"Your mind races. Solutions? Excuses? Finally, you settle on denial."There was no quiz." There, perfect. God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.Linda tilts her head. "What.""I don't know what you were working on, because there wasn't a quiz.""Ethan there was a-"No. Rising mental damage. Anguish levels off the charts. You refuse it. You refuse to entertain the idea. "Clearly," you say, "there was no quiz. Who assigns a quiz on a Friday? A take-home quiz? It's nonsense, even for a social studies class."Linda snickers. "Ah. Right. Silly me. How could I forget?""Really irresponsible of you to be honest," you say. You've decided to face your fate with dignity. Does denial equal dignity? Maybe. You tell yourself that it does.Linda laughs. "I feel sufficiently shamed. Did you want to . . . maybe . . . hypothetically . . . take a look at my work?">Yes, please>No. I've made my choice. A captain goes down with the ship>Write in
You hang your head. Your pride dies in your chest. You can't do this, you can't face the consequences of your own hubris. "Yes please."Linda laughs and unzips her backpack. "What would you do without me, Ethan?""Die probably."She laughs again.The metro slows to a stop and most of the passengers get off, making their way into the tunnel network running beneath the city to go to work at Nerv. You and Linda take a pair of empty seas by a window and you quickly get to work copying her answers while ensuring you leave enough wrong so as not to raise suspicion.The metro accelerates again and leaves the underground tunnels behind, climbing onto an elevated track running over the city streets. Warm sunlight pours in through the windows as the car winds through the city.While you work, Linda puts an earbud in your ear and then its pair in hers. She rests her head on your shoulder and closes her eyes as soothing classical music plays. It's a waltz, you can tell by it's characteristic ¾ beat. You decide to show off."The Blue Danube,""An der schönen blauen Donau," Linda corrects without opening her eyes. "Opus 314.""Strauss," you say.She opens one eye to look up at you and grins. "Not bad, Ethan. But not exactly going to make up for forgetting the homework.""Priorities," you say, finishing the last few questions on the paper and shoving it back in your bag.Linda shivers and scooches closer to you. "It's cold. I'm cold."You can see dying light pouring over the horizon as the sun sets across Anchorage Bay. Somehow, it almost looks like the sun is rising."Ethan?""Hm?"Linda is looking at you, puzzled. "You said something?""Just said it looks like the sun is rising," you say."The sun is rising," she says."Right."Before much longer, the metro car reaches the stop for Snelson High. You and Linda debark with a gaggle of other students and make your way up two flights of stairs beneath LCD signs advertising various products. Snelson High, like the rest of the city, is modern and clean with an open and airy design, lots of windows and light.You enter your homeroom class and Linda peels off to go chat with your friends while you sit at your desk.Rento startles you by plopping into the sea beside you. "Yo.""Yo yourself.""You forgot the quiz didn't you?""Not a chance," you lie."You copied off Linda again, didn't you?""Absolutely," you say.Renton laughs. "Madman. One day your life of crime will catch up to you."You flash a cocky grin at him. "We'll see about that.""So, big news. You have a date for the dance?" Renton asks.>I was going to ask Linda probably>No. Not yet. I'm still thinking about it>write in
>>5437178>>I was going to ask Linda probablyBest girl.
>>5437178>I was going to ask Linda probably
>>5437178>>I was going to ask Linda probably
"Actually I was planning to ask Linda."Renton's eyes wide. So does his grin. "Oh ho ho! Is that so? You finally found your balls, eh?" he jostles you lightly"Cut it out," you say, rolling your eyes. You look back to make sure that Linda hadn't heard any of this.She's at the back of the class with her friend Korine, both look toward you when you turn your head. Korine sticks her tongue out at you and Linda laughs.Shaking your head, you turn back around. "We're friends so it would just make sense," you say."Friends. Right, yes. Of course. Just a couple of besties.""Stop.""No, I am being serious," Renton says in a way that makes it clear he isn't. "Just two good pals.""Yeah, I get it, okay?"He laughs. "We'll see how it goes. And promise me that you won't wait for her to ask you first. That's pathetic, my man.""I'm not gonna- look just cut it out, okay?"Renton cackles sadistically.Before he can torment you any further, Miss Holiday enters the class room like a rush of wind, her high heels clicking on the floor. "Okay, seats. Seats. Enough pandemonium. Let's have some order in here, okay?"With some grumbling the students in your class disperse to their seats and get out their papers.Miss Holiday pauses at the front of the class. "While you get out your homework, quick announcement." She turns and beckons to the doorway. "We have a new student."
A girl with long, platinum hair enters through the doorway, her face blank."This is Katy Skobeleva.""Katya," the girl corrects."Hm? Oh. Katya, sorry," Holiday says. "Why don't you find a seat and I'll get you caught up after the homework."Katya nods and moves between the desks towards an empty spot by the window. As she passes you, you make eye contact. Her eyes are icy blue. For a moment you see . . . She passes by and takes her seat, leaving you a little flustered. What just happened?"Alright, start passing your work up," Holiday says. "We've got a lot to learn today. We'll be learning about the Valentines Disarmament Treaty and the formation of the United Nations governing council."You find yourself unable to focus on the lesson as Holiday talks. Your thoughts are adrift. You keep thinking about the under the sea dance and Linda. You also can't shake the feeling that . . . Katya recognized you.You risk a glance across the classroom to where she's studiously taking notes, pausing only to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. What's weirder is that you feel like you recognize her too. "Ethan."You jump at Miss Holiday's voice."Yes?"She sighs. "There'll will be plenty of time for you to eye the new student after class."You blush at the chorus of laughter and giggles that erupts afterward. God, you wish you could just die.The rest of the school day proceeds without incident. You make it through social studies and chemistry before lunch period gives a reprieve from education.>I'll grab a bite to eat with my friends in the cafeteria>I want to talk with the new girl and see why I know her>I'll take lunch by myself. I don't feel like being around other people>Write in
>>5437390>I want to talk with the new girl and see why I know her
>>5437390>>I'll grab a bite to eat with my friends in the cafeteria
>>5437390>>I want to talk with the new girl and see why I know her
>>5437390>I'll take lunch by myself. I don't feel like being around other people
I'm going to close the thread here. I've got IRL commitments springing up again and I won't be able to post for a bit. Plus this thread is edging toward oblivion.I'll pick up the next thread hopefully in a week or so and continue where we left off.Thanks for playing, guys!
>>5438606See you on the other side, in our attempt to escape this false dream