Saotome Ranma awoke as the train stopped to pick up another passenger. He scratched his head as he watched the scrawny boy get on and take the only available seat, which was next to him. Ranma knew that most of the crowds would get off at Tokyo-1 or Tokyo-2, most everyone did. People were clearing out of Tokyo-3 for some reason. Oh well, he’d figure it out eventually. Being out of the country for an extended amount of time tended to keep your knowledge of the local news in your homeland down to a minimum. Granted he knew about second impact fifteen years ago, but Tokyo should be settled by now.
He turned and regarded the newest passenger. The boy was around five foot tall, skinny as a rail, wearing a plain white shirt and jeans. He had black hair that was cut short. Ranma was surprised that he could stand by himself with that little muscle. He shook his head. “Some parents.” He thought. “They don’t know how to feed their kids properly. Kinda reminds me of Gosunkugi in a strange way.” Ranma watched as the boy just sat there looking at the ground and listening to near-non-audible music coming from his Walkman. “The boy just looks like he hasn’t got a thing going for him in the world. Something about the hopelessness radiating from the boy made him speak. “So! Where you headed?” He smiled at the small boy.
Ikari Shinji looked up at the older man. He saw the warm, trustworthy smile on the older man’s face. Shinji did a quick inspection and noticed the gray uniform he was wearing. It looked to be the same material as military BDUs, but no buttons on the shirt, just a flap that velcroed at the shoulder. There was a hint of a scar around the base of his neck. The man had blue eyes and hair that was parted down the middle and hanging at about chin level to either side of his head. Shinji timidly spoke, “I’m going to Tokyo-3.”
Ranma tried his best to keep his smile where it was. The voice sounded pathetically weak. This boy sounded like he didn’t have a friend in the world and the world was about to end, all in one breath. Ranma had never heard such a lack of confidence in a person’s voice before. Of course he usually spent his time around a lot of strong-willed individuals. “Now why is a little guy like you traveling by yourself Tokyo-3? As far as I knew, I’m the only one on this whole train going there.”
Shinji took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. “My father sent for me.”
Ranma raised an eyebrow. “Sounds like you’re not to happy about it.”
The younger boy twiddled his thumbs. “Well, I haven’t seen him in three years and it’s not like we had a great relationship to begin with. I guess I’m a little Nervous.”
Ranma put his hands behind his head and leaned back. “Yeah, me and my pops didn’t have the best relationship either, especially after I moved out.”
“What happened?” Shinji looked to the older man with a look of curiosity in his eyes.
He chuckled to himself. “Let’s just say, he wasn’t very happy about me leaving him to take care of his business. So what’s with you and your dad?”
Shinji’s shoulders slumped. “He left me behind with my uncle after my mother died. He said he didn’t want to see my face anymore.”
Anger flashed in the martial artist’s eyes. “Who would do that to their own kid, especially when they just lost their mom?!” He thought. He brought his emotions back into control and continued aloud. “That’s really not right. No father has the right to do that.”
The boy looked at him with surprise. “What? Leave me with my uncle?”
“No, to say that he didn’t want to see your face anymore. That can be pretty traumatizing for a kid.” Ranma took another look at the boys features and saw some vague resemblance to someone he once knew. “What’s your name anyway?”
Ranma’s eyebrows went up in surprise. “Couldn’t be.” The back of his mind was telling him. “Must be a brother’s kid. Doesn’t hurt to ask…” He was careful not to give anything away with his facial expressions. “Who was your mother?”
Ranma’s eyes went wide. “She didn’t get married?”
Shinji turned to him. “What? You knew my mom?”
“Sorta. Did she get married?”
Shinji nodded. “Yes. Dad just took her name.”
Ranma had a bad feeling in his gut. “Who’s your dad?”
Ranma’s muscles tensed and his expression hardened. “HE’S your father?”
Shinji nodded his head. “Yes. Did you know him?”
Ranma pulled his hair back over his ears. “I’ve met him.” His eyes stayed hard. He swore to himself that he was going to have a chat with his ‘old friend’ about the treatment of his son.
Shinji looked a little taken aback. “I…I’m sorry if I made you mad.”
Ranma shook his head in surprise. “What?”
“I said, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you mad.”
Ranma thought for a second, grabbed the bridge of his nose and shook his head. “It’s not you’re fault Shinji. Do you always assume everything is your fault?”
“Sometimes…most of the time…” He looked down at the floor.
The older man felt sorry for the kid. “Hey! I asked your name, but I never gave mine. I’m Saotome Ranma.” He held his hand out.”
The boy took the proffered hand and shook it. “Nice to meet you.”
“So who’s supposed to pick you up at the station?”
Shinji pulled a picture from his bag. He handed it to Ranma. “Her name is Captain Katsuragi.”
Ranma looked over the picture appreciatively. The picture showed a woman, perhaps in her late twenties, in shorts and a t-shirt that looked two sizes too small. She was in a crawling position winking at the camera. There were some suggestive comments written on it. “Definitely not bad. I’ve seen better, but not much.” Ranma added in his mind, “Of course when you have the cursed form of a super model, it’s hard to find good comparisons.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Shinji sounded a little deflated.
Ranma looked at the picture a bit closer. “Hmm. Definitely military, but she hasn’t been working out as much as she really should.”
Shinji looked at him in surprise. “Are you a detective or something?”
“No, just sizing her up. Like I do an opponent, I find it helps to get to know someone before they really say anything.”
“Are you a soldier?”
Ranma shook his head. “No. I’m a martial artist.”
“You get paid for that?”
Ranma smiled. “You bet! You’d be surprised at how much money you can make when people recognize skill. Heck, I’ve spent the past year in America training Special Forces units. Let me tell you, those Americans may be lazy, but they pay REALLY well.”
“So what are you going to do in Tokyo-3?”
“I’m going to be training the security forces.” He flashed his ID card that they had sent him. “Like I said, you can make money when people recognize skill.”
Shinji nodded. “Hey! I’ve got one of those too!” He dug around in his bag. He pulled out a matching card that had his picture on it.
Ranma laughed. “Looks like we’ll be working together.”
Shinji chuckled nervously. “I don’t think they’d want me to do anything. I mean, look at me.”
Ranma smiled. “Yeah, you look like you haven’t worked out a day in your life, but that can change.”
Shinji looked at him. “How?”
“We’re both going to be in Tokyo-3 so there’s no reason why you can’t work out with me. I can have you whipped into shape in a couple of months.” He smiled confidently.
“I don’t know.” Shinji looked down at himself.
“Come on. All it takes is a little confidence.”
Shinji shrugged. “That’s something I don’t have much of.”
“Obviously, you also don’t have any spine.”
“Hey!” Shinji looked indignant.
“Now that’s the spirit!” Ranma slapped him on the back. “When you grow a backbone, life gets a lot easier. If you let everyone walk all over you, you’ll keep getting trampled. Once you stand up for yourself, you’ll find that life is what you make of it, not what’s handed to you.”
“Maybe you can help me.”
Ranma smiled. “Of course! Martial arts are also a great thing to boost confidence.”
“Really?” Shinji looked hopeful.
“Really! Let me tell you about the great life of a martial artist. Of course it wasn’t always easy…”
Several hours later, they arrived at the Tokyo-3 train station. Ranma looked around at the deserted streets. “I had hoped this would be a lively town, but it looks like I’m going to be disappointed.”
“I thought someone who had led your life would like some peace.” Shinji started digging in his bag for Captain Katsuragi’s number.
“You’d think so, wouldn’t you? I’ve actually found that peaceful times makes one sloppy and lazy. I just can’t let that happen to me. What are you doing?”
Shinji was dialing on the nearest payphone. “I’m trying to get a hold of the captain.”
“Okay, hope something around here is exciting.”
The ground underneath them shook. A loud thunder was heard in the distance. Military helicopters passed overhead and unloaded their compliment of missiles at an unknown target. Ranma laughed. “Me and my big mouth.” He suddenly felt an enormous source of chi. He looked to the east and saw an enormous firefight. “That can’t be good.”
A missile landed in the street a few feet from them. Ranma grabbed Shinji and jumped away before the explosion knocked them off their feet. Just as the smoke was clearing, a blue sports car came to a screeching halt in front of them. A very attractive woman wearing black wraparound sunglasses and a skintight black dress yelled at them from the open window. “Hello, Am I late?” She said in a very amused tone of voice.
Ranma about facefaulted. This girl was completely brainless! “Hey! You maniac! What are you doing driving like that in the middle of a battle?!”
Katsuragi Misato got her first look at the original member of the NWC and about died. “OH MY GOD!!!” She yelled in her mind. “HE’S A HUNK!” She straightened her clothes. “Hello, my name’s Misato. I’m here to pick up Shinji. What’s your name?” She batted her eyelashes.
Ranma rolled his eyes. “Gimme a break.” He walked up and opened the passenger door and motioned Shinji to the back. “Ranma, and your name’s going to be blood splatter if you don’t get out of here!” He sat down in the car just as the sounds of battle were approaching again. “Now drive!”
“Arrogant little…” Her voice trailed off as she hit the accelerator. The car rocketed down the empty streets just as the UN forces were beginning to launch their offensive at the most terrifying creature the Earth had seen in fifteen years: The third Angel.
The creature was humanoid with a head that was shrunken into the torso and arms and legs that looked too small to support its weight. Its face was all white with black pits for eyes. Its nose was just a point that went down from its eyes. It also had massive spikes sticking out of its elbows. The UN forces were unleashing everything they had at it with no effect. Even when they launched enormous cruise missiles at it, the Angel just shrugged them off like harmless flies.
Misato’s car came atop one of the hills between the city and the entrance to the NERV Geo Front. She stopped and got out of the car. She retrieved a pair of field binoculars and looked as the angel approached. “Damn!” She swore under her breath. “They really have returned.”
Ranma got out of his side of the car, Shinji closely following. “Why’d we stop? We still need to get to NERV!”
“I needed to check the situation for myself! Oh no! They’re going to drop an N2 Mine!” Misato grabbed Shinji and threw him to the ground behind the car.
Ranma was still standing. “What?”
“GET DOWN STUPID!” She grabbed him by the back collar of his shirt and hauled him down hard.
Ranma hit the ground just as the mine went off. The world went white and Ranma felt himself being blown away. He reached over and shoved his hand into the ground in front of Shinji and Misato, anchoring all three of them in place. The force of the explosion picked the car up and threw it over them. Ranma just barely got his head down in time before the flying vehicle took it off.
The winds subsided and Ranma pulled himself up and brushed off his suit. “Thanks a lot you crazy woman! Thanks to your little ‘pit stop’ we’re all irradiated!”
Misato stood up in his face. “Thanks to that little ‘pit stop’ I just saved all of our lives!”
Ranma gave her a ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ look. “How do you figure?”
Misato pointed to her overturned car and spoke matter-of-factly. “That could have been us you pig-headed jock! We had a much better chance of surviving the N2 blast outside of the car! And what if we had been on the backside of the mountain when that blast had gone off? We would have all fallen to our deaths!”
Ranma snorted. “That was just a coincidence! You didn’t know they were going to drop a nuke! You just got lucky! I heard the surprise in your voice when you looked through your binoculars!”
Misato put her hand on her hip and jabbed a finger into Ranma’s chest. “You listen here, bucko. I heard the distinct whine of a cruise missile drop system. I stopped the car to see what they were dropping! I expected a daisy cutter, not a friggin’ N2! That’s why I was surprised!”
Ranma sneered at her. “So what about the radiation?! I could be sterile now, you stupid bag!”
Misato rolled her eyes. “The N2 mine doesn’t give off radiation, so you’re fine, Einstein!”
“Uh, can we get going?” Shinji had finally picked himself off the ground.
Misato harrumphed in Ranma’s direction. “As soon as it’s fine with the public safety commission!”
A vein was starting to pull up on Ranma’s head. “How do you expect to go anywhere? LOOK AT YOUR CAR!”
Misato stomped off to her car. “It’s an electric car made of composites! Shinji and I could turn it over!” She put her hand on it and started to rock it. “Shinji, give me a hand!”
Shinji, not really wanting to be involved at all, simply nodded and went to help her turn the car back over. They struggled for a bit but were having trouble getting the car over. They would get it to where it was almost on its side before they had to let it down again. Ranma shook his head and walked over to them. “Step back.” He forced his chi to flow through his muscles and increase the output of his adrenal glands. The burst of strength helped him put the car right side up with hardly any real effort. “Okay, now let’s see you start this, woman!” The last word was spoken with a heap of contempt.
Misato got in the car and turned the key. It wouldn’t start. She swore and as she popped the hood. She looked under the hood and saw that her power plant had been destroyed in the blast. Everything else seemed in order. She just needed power. “Looks like we need to make a quick run back to town.”
Ranma and Shinji facefaulted.
In the heart of NERV headquarters, the chiefs of staff for the combined UN forces were losing hope. They had thrown all their most destructive weapons at the angel to no avail. It ignored tank blasts, crumpled helicopters, shrugged off tomahawks, and simply stood there after being hit with the most powerful bomb that they could unleash without destroying the world along with it. The general in charge turned, in defeat, to Ikari Gendou. “All right, Ikari, you have a go.”
Gendou pushed his glasses up on his face. “This was why NERV was created. Come Fuyutsuki!”
The older man in uniform Fuyutsuki Kouzou nodded and followed Gendou out of the room. “Do you think this is wise, sir? Unit Zero is out of commission and Unit One hasn’t been activated since the accident.”
Gendou nodded. “I have everything under control. Don’t worry. We will have an EVA and a pilot by the time we get to central dogma.”
The two continued down the hall and into the elevator in silence.
Meanwhile, Ranma, Misato, and Shinji were back on the road. Misato was lost in her thoughts. “This is just great! This car was brand new! I still have fifty-seven payments to go, and now it’s a wreck! Everything was going fine and now I meet this totally cute guy, but he’s an arrogant, pushy ass! This is just my luck! I only had to pick up the director’s son and now I’ve got an extra hitchhiker that does nothing but give me a headache. On top of all that my favorite dress is a mess, and I looked so good in it! *Sob*” Misato’s facial expressions were dropping lower the longer she was lost in thought.
“Uh, Misato?” Shinji tapped her on the shoulder.
Misato’s face instantly went back to full beaming smile. “Yes, Shinji?”
“Isn’t taking these batteries like stealing?” Shinji shifts his weight to reveal several batteries with two power leads apiece leading back into the side of the car.
Misato sweated a little bit. “Uh, time of emergency! We have to requisition whatever material it takes! We are at war, you know!”
Ranma’s arms had been crossed ever since they had started driving again. “Like anyone’s going to believe that.”
Misato rolled her eyes and picked up her cell phone. “This is Katsuragi. I need a car train to NERV central, an express of course!” She smiled as she hung up. “If we’re going to go there, we might as well go there in style! Oh, Shinji! I almost forgot!” She pulled a packet from underneath her seat and handed it to the boy in back. “Here’s all the info you need to know about NERV. Do you have your ID?”
“Good. Now Ranma, where can I drop you off?”
Ranma raised an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?”
“I can’t just take a civilian into NERV headquarters. Where can I drop you off?”
Ranma pulled his ID card out of his pocket. “You can take me into the main headquarters with Shinji. You can get off wherever you like.”
Misato’s jaw dropped. “You mean I have to work with you!”
Ranma snorted. “It’s not a picnic for me either.”
Shinji started to rub his temples to try and stave off the headache caused by the arguing couple in the front seats.
They arrived at the gates and a large door opened up. They drove into the doors and onto a platform that had four tire blocks for the car’s wheels. The car locked into place and they began to move sideways and down. They went through several layers of armor before emerging into an area lit up like the daytime. Shinji and Ranma looked around in awe at all the natural beauty that was housed underground. Shinji’s eyes lit up in admiration. “Wow! A Geo Front!”
Misato smiled. “Yup! A completely self-sufficient natural environment.”
Since second impact Ranma had never seen this much vegetation in one spot. He found almost a homesick feeling at seeing the Earth below them so alive. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen this much green.”
Misato heard the hint of sorrow in his voice. “You spend much time in forests?”
Ranma nodded. “Spent most of my life wandering through one wilderness or another. Nature was my home for pretty much the first ten years of my life.” He turned to Misato. “Don’t you miss how alive the earth used to be?”
Misato nodded. “I was only sixteen at the time of second impact. I hadn’t really seen much of the world outside of where my father worked. For the last years before, I had only seen Antarctica.”
“So you’re twenty-eight. A little young for a captain isn’t it?” Ranma sneered.
“Shut-up, you old egotistical jerk!”
Shinji put his hands over his ears and hoped that the end of the line was soon. His prayers were answered as the tram came to a stop and the ‘adults’ got out. Shinji followed. He picked up his bag. Misato told him they would be back for it later. Ranma stopped halfway to the trunk of the car and shrugged. “So where are we going?”
“This way.” Misato indicated the doors at the end of the hall. “I’ll show you the way to central dogma.”
An hour later, they were traveling down yet another escalator. Shinji looked around. “Haven’t we already come this way?”
Ranma took a quick look around and then smacked himself on the forehead. “We’re lost! I can’t believe it! I travel half-way across the globe to be lead around on a wild goose chase by Ryoga’s sister!” He was fuming.
Misato glared at him. “We’re not lost!” She thought in the back of her mind, “Who the hell is Ryoga?” She pulled her cell phone out and dialed a quick number. “I’ve got a code blue. I’m at…” She looked at the markings beside the escalator. “Section G-4.”
“We will take appropriate action.” The speaker on the phone responded. Seconds later an announcement was heard coming over the P.A. system. “Would head researcher Dr Akagi Ritsuko please meet Captain Katsuragi Misato in section G-4? Would head researcher Dr Akagi Ritsuko please meet Captain Katsuragi Misato in section G-4?”
Inside of the EVA-01 staging area, Dr. Akagi Ritsuko was just coming out of the fluid that was used to hold the EVA in stasis. She pulled off her scuba gear in time to hear the repeat of the announcement. “She’s lost again?!”
The lost trio was in an elevator when the doors opened up to reveal a very peeved Ritsuko glaring at Misato. “Lost again I see.”
Misato smiled nervously. “Nice to see you again, Ritsuko.”
Ranma shook his head as Ritsuko selected the correct floor and faced forward. “So she does this often?”
“Every day she comes to work.”
“So does she do anything useful around here, or do you have to carry her?”
“I’m still trying to figure out the answer to that one.”
“HEY!!!” Misato shouted at the two that were talking like she wasn’t even there.
Shinji just continued to read through his NERV information packet that Misato had given him, ignoring what had become the norm for this trip so far.
After a much shorter time they arrived at the EVA-01 staging area. The lights came up to reveal the giant robot. Ranma and Shinji’s eyes bugged out. “What is this?” They asked simultaneously.
“This is Evangelion Unit one.” Her voice took on a lecturing tone. “Don’t bother looking Shinji, it’s not in the book. This is the one thing standing between the human race and extinction from the angels. It failed its first activation test and we estimate a 0.0000000001% chance of reactivation. Or as we call it the O-ni chance.”
“Oh-two?” Ranma asked.
“Oni, like demon.”
“So there’s no chance in hell?”
“Something like that.”
Gendou stepped out onto the platform overlooking the floating catwalk where the others were standing. “Shinji. It’s been a while.”
“Gendou, it hasn’t been long enough.” Ranma growled.
Gendou’s head snapped to the side. Ritsuko and Misato had never seen him move that fast since the failed activation of unit zero. He squinted at the figure with hair covering his face. “Ranma?” His expression hardened. “What are you doing here?”
Ranma smiled his contemptuous grin. “You’re people hired me.” He flipped out his card. “I’m the new security trainer. Although I could have wished for a better boss, one less on the heartless bastard side.”
Gendou’s eyes flashed with anger. Ritsuko couldn’t believe the amount of emotion that he was displaying. “What’s going on between those two? I’ve never seen him this worked up.” She thought.
“So why did you bring your son here? You going to verbally abuse him some more?” Ranma’s eyes had hardened in anger.
Shinji couldn’t believe the amount of tension that had suddenly filled the enormous room.
Misato tried to change the subject. “Director, the angel is attacking! What can we do with Unit One without a pilot? We can’t use Rei.”
Gendou turned to her and pushed his glasses back on his face. “A new pilot was just delivered.”
Misato’s eyes widened in panic. “We can’t use him! It would take too long for him to sync with his EVA! It took Ayanami eight months to sync with hers!”
Shinji was starting to cry. “I knew it! You just want to use me! I won’t do it!” He looked to Misato for support.
Misato put a hardened expression on her face. “Do it, Shinji.”
Ritsuko nodded. “You’re the only one, Shinji.”
Ranma’s aura was becoming visible. It was burning a deep red. “You don’t have to do it, Shinji we’ll find a solution.” He glared at Gendou and tried to come up with another plan.
Gendou turned to a monitor. “Fuyutsuki.” One of the monitors around him lit up with the older man’s face. “The new pilot is unusable. Fetch Rei.”
“Can we use her?”
“She isn’t dead yet.” He turned to another monitor. “Rei?”
“Yes?” A soft voice came back, no video.
“You will do it again.”
Gendou turned his attention back to the others on the platform. “Have Unit One converted over for Rei. She will pilot it.”
The doors at the far end opened and two people in medical scrubs wheeled out a gurney with pale girl with blue hair out. She was bandaged from head to toe with one of her eyes covered and one arm in a sling.
Ranma had had enough. “You coward! You insufferable coward! You would send wounded kids into battle, but sit idly by and do nothing!” He glanced around. He saw what looked like enormous forklifts to the side. He pointed them out to Misato. “Do those catapults go to the surface?”
Misato nodded. “But they’re extremely high speed. It’ll kill you if you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking.”
“I am thinking what you think I’m thinking, but trust me, I can do it.”
Shinji looked at him. “What are you doing?”
Misato turned in disgust from the martial artist. “This pigheaded idiot is going to try and ride the cats to the surface and fight the angel.” Ranma cringed a bit at the abbreviated name for the launching systems. “If the gees don’t kill him, the angel will.”
Shinji looked in disbelief at Ranma. “Why? Why would you try to do something against something you have no chance against?”
Ranma stared at Shinji, his face all business. “It’s a martial artist’s duty to protect those who can’t defend themselves. You can’t run away when the odds are stacked against you. If I had done that, I would have been running most my life. You have to face these challenges. You mustn’t run away.” He turned to Misato. “Tell them to launch when I reach the catapults.”
Misato looked to with pleading eyes to Gendou for support. A small smile trailed across his lips. “Let him go.” “And get himself killed.” He added in his mind.
She threw up her hands in surrender. “Go ahead then, but it will take you a while to reach the…cats?”
Her eyes went wide, as well as almost everyone else’s, when Ranma reached the catapults in three bounds, climbing high into the air and covering impossible amounts of distance with each. When he landed on one of the tongs of the cat’s fork, he gave thumbs up.
Misato shook herself out of her stupor. She pulled a radio from her jacket. “Launch cat one!” She said into it.
Ranma began to rethink the wisdom behind this maneuver when he felt his stomach sink into his toes from the acceleration, but after a while, he was starting to enjoy it.
A large monitor came on behind Gendou showing the battlefield. The Angel had regenerated and was resuming its assault on NERV headquarters. It was beginning to fire blasts in almost random directions, causing cross-shaped explosions. A hole opened in the middle of the street and a small projectile shot out of it. “WAAAAAAHOOOOOO!!!!!!” The mics picked up from the surface.
“Baka!” Misato hissed under her breath.
“We’re picking up another AT Field!” One of the smaller monitors next to Gendou piped up.
“What?!” Gendou turned to it suddenly. “Another angel? How?”
“It’s not an angel, it’s another EVA signature, but very weak.” The tech answered.
Ritsuko had heard the whole conversation on the floor and turned immediately to main screen.
Ranma was about to reach the top of his arc when he started glowing blue. He put his hands out in front of him and gathered all his energy into his hands, creating a large chi ball. He impacted on the angel’s AT Field. The explosion and momentum on the field allowed him to pass through, but he just lightly fell on the angel’s shoulder, which didn’t even notice that he was there.
Ranma looked amazed that all his power and momentum had been sucked up by the force field that the angel exuded. He also amazed at the amount of chi the angel was giving off. It was like all of his old enemies combined. He set his features and began to gather his confidence again.
The screen showed the little man on the angel’s shoulder glowing blue again. “What is he?” Misato asked.
Ritsuko was staring open mouthed at the man who had created his own AT Field and was creating another right before her eyes.
Shinji was amazed such a thing was possible.
Ranma fired his Mouko Takabisha at pointblank into the angel’s head. The angel finally acknowledged his presence. He sent his left arm over his right shoulder in order to swat the pest. Ranma turned and ran behind the angel’s head, but the hand still followed. He looked forward in time to see the angel’s other hand forming a roadblock. Ranma leaped over it, kicked off of the angel’s left shoulder and landed on a nearby rooftop. The angel turned and opened fire. Ranma just barely escaped in time before the building was no more.
The Geo Front was rocked by the blast. Inside the EVA-01 staging area, parts of scaffolding and was beginning to fall from the ceiling and crash into the red fluid holding the EVA in stasis. Another blast sent an eight-foot section down directly on the people standing on the floating catwalk. “Look out!” Misato shouted as she and Ritsuko dove out of the way. Shinji was caught like a deer in the headlights as the mass of steel was crashing down on him. He screamed in terror, as he knew that this was the end.
At the last instant, a huge metallic hand came up and blocked the wreckage, causing it to fall beside Shinji and the catwalk to shake violently, sending the injured Rei to the floor. The hand just stayed poised over Shinji’s head.
“The EVA activated by itself?” Misato asked with a note of worry in her voice.
“That’s impossible!” Shouted Ritsuko. “The entry plug isn’t even inserted! It even ripped through its restraints!”
Misato saw the still startled Shinji staring at the poised hand. “It moved to protect Shinji?”
A pain filled groan snapped Shinji out of his trance. He turned and ran toward the fallen Rei. He helped her to her back and rested her head in his lap. She was giving small screams of pain as he moved her. He withdrew one of his hands and saw it covered in blood. “I mustn’t run away! I mustn’t run away!” He kept on repeating in his mind. He looked at the monitor again just as Ranma caught a glancing blow from the angel that sent him flying through a building and out the other side to the street below. Finally Shinji came to a decision. “I’ll do it! I’ll pilot the EVA!”
“Prep Evangelion unit one for launch!” Ritsuko shouted and the crews began to move about to ready the EVA for launch. They put Shinji into the entry plug and adjourned to the main command balcony in central dogma.
The monitors showed the stasis fluid draining away from the EVA and the gantry the EVA was mounted to moving toward one of the catapults.
Misato turned to face Gendou with a worried expression. “Can we really do this?”
Gendou nodded. “It’s our only hope. Launch.”
Misato nodded. She opened up a communication line to the EVA. “Shinji, are you ready?”
“THIS THING IS FILLING WITH WATER!”
Ritsuko came over the microphone. “The LCL fluid will help send oxygen into your blood faster, just breath it like you would oxygen.”
Shinji released the air he had been holding and inhaled the fluid. He didn’t drown but he looked bad. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Suck it up! You are a boy you know!” Misato shouted into the com. She turned to rest of the crews around her. “Evangelion Unit One, Launch!”
Shinji felt a lurch as the EVA was catapulted to the surface.
“Shinji, don’t get killed out there.” Misato thought with a determined look on her face.
Ranma’s mind was coming out of a fog when he heard an annoying repeating buzzing in his head. As his head cleared he realized it was a clear the area siren. He looked up to see a black and yellow striped square flashing in time with the buzz. The area inside the square split to reveal an access port. Two massive booms went up and received the shoulders of the Evangelion Unit One. As the robot powered up, Ranma felt a familiar tingle in his senses, something familiar, but just out of reach of his conscious mind. He also felt something else. “Shinji. You didn’t have to do this.” He slowly got to his feet; clutching his side where he was sure a couple ribs were broken.
Inside the cockpit, Shinji was still in his street clothes but had two receptors on his head. “What do I do?” He shouted into the radio.
“Just concentrate on walking.” Ritsuko’s voice came back. “That’s all we want you to do.” The doctor muted the mic and turned to her assistant, Ibuki Maya. “How’s he doing?”
“His sync ratio is at 41.3%.” They both watched as the EVA took its first lumbering steps forward.
“Amazing.” Misato mused.
Ritsuko’s face lit up in excitement. “He’s walking!”
Gendou smiled under his bridged hands.
Shinji felt like he was the one walking. He could feel the ground under his feet, and he could almost feel the breeze on his face. He strode forward, only to attract the attention of the angel.
The massive creature turned and charged at the EVA, shoulder ramming it into a building. Shinji tried to throw a punch at it, but it just grabbed the arm and twisted it over, breaking it.
Shinji screamed in pain as he felt the EVA’s arm break. He heard something from the radio, but couldn’t make it out.
“It’s not your real arm Shinji!” Ritsuko tried to get his attention, but the boy was loosing focus.
“His sync ratio is dropping! All the interlocks are failing!” Maya shouted out.
“Eject the entry plug!” Misato ordered. “Now! Get him out of there!”
“I can’t! The EVA’s not responding!”
“We can’t get a reading on the pilot!”
“No! Shinji!” Misato shouted.
Ranma winced as he ran toward the battle. The snapping of the arm could be heard for miles. He caught up to the battle in time to see the angel pick up the EVA by the head. The spike on the angel’s elbow sank into its arm and came out its palm, spearing the EVA in the head. It began to repeat the motion.
A crack of thunder was heard as Ranma powered up for his next assault. “Come on, Ranma. You’re the best! You can’t let an eighty-foot monster beat you! You killed a god! What’s an angel compared to a god!” He built up his confidence for another chi blast. “Your Shinji’s only hope. You’ve got to pull it out right here, or the boy is going to die.” His eyes seemed to flash as he managed to stand upright once more. He shot up into the air as he started climbing stories to get to the top of the nearest building to the battle. He came to the top as the angel finally penetrated the EVA’s AT Field. The piston pierced the armor and went through the eye of the EVA. The angel dropped the EVA, believing it was dead. It wasn’t too far off the mark as LCL fluid, that looked like spurting blood, shot out of the back of its head.
“NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” Ranma shouted his aura leaped to levels he didn’t even know he could reach. The angel moved toward the EVA once again. “GET AWAY FROM HIM YOU ABOMINATION! MOUKO TAKABISHA!!!” He unleashed his blast with totality of his strength and skill. The blast went forward and penetrated the angel’s AT Field. Impacting against the back of the angel.
The blast had no effect on the angel, but it did get its attention. The angel turned to see Ranma slumped to his knees, his energy drained. The angel walked toward the building he was on, raising his arm in preparation to strike.
Ranma laughed. “Heh, never thought it would end like this, the world’s greatest martial artist swatted like an ordinary housefly. I’m sure there’s a moral in here somewhere.”
The angel had his hand poised, and just as it was about to strike it heard a roar from over its shoulder. It turned to see EVA 01 roaring a challenge. The robot grabbed its severed arm and rammed it over the stump from whence it came. The arm healed instantly. The EVA roared again as it charged forward. It grabbed the angel’s hand and broke its arm. With a pivot of its feet it sent the angel flying. The EVA finished its turn and put itself between Ranma and the angel.
Back at operations booth, Misato and the others were shocked to say the least. Misato pointed to the screen. “Is Unit One protecting Ranma?” Misato asked redundantly.
“Unit one is moving again.” One of the techs reported.
On the monitors, the EVA unit charged at the reeling angel. It swung its arms in a side hammer blow with its fists, knocking the angel further back. Unit 01 roared a battle cry and charged again.
“Berserker.” Ritsuko muttered to herself.
Unit 01 followed up its first blow by leaping and somersaulting in the air to impact its feet into the Angel’s chest, knocking it backwards. The EVA charged in again only to hit against the angel’s AT Field. Unit one grabbed the field like a curtain and began to pull it apart. It forced its own AT Field into the hole and overrode the angel’s. It punched through and began raining punches and kicks on the angel. Finally it kicked it away and then charged into the angel, ramming it into ground.
The EVA unit sat on top of the angel and began raining punches into the attacker’s core.
The angel sensed it only had one course.
At operations, they could only watch helplessly as the angel jumped on the EVA’s head and morphed its body into a ball. “It’s going to self-destruct!” Misato shouted.
Ranma could only stare in shock as he felt the power buildup. “SHINJI!!!”
The angel exploded with a tremendous thunder and white light. The blast took on the form of a cross as it died away. The thunder was then followed by rain, god’s gift to the tired warriors.
Ranma awoke to a hospital room. He sat up and rubbed his head. “Did anyone get the number of that train that ran me over? Never mind that, did anyone get the number of times it ran me over.” His high-pitched voice indicated that at this point, he was a she. “Must have been hit by rain”, she thought. A clicking noise to her right got her attention. “Great, I haven’t been awake five minutes and I already have a gun to my head.” She turned and saw Misato standing there pointing a .45 at her head. Ranma smiled. “Usually I have to walk in on a girl in the bath to get a reaction like that.” She said before chuckling.
Misato’s gun didn’t waver. “Who are you and what are you doing with Saotome Ranma’s ID card? Impersonating a NERV officer is grounds for execution.”
“I can answer all that with a glass of warm water.” She smiled knowingly.
“What are you talking about?” Misato pulled the hammer back on her pistol.
“I AM Saotome Ranma. Just get me a glass of warm water.” She looked around and spied a basin to the left. “Never mind, I’ll get it myself.”
“Don’t move!” Misato tensed up. In the blink of an eye, she realized that she was unarmed.
Ranma appeared at her right. “You shouldn’t play with these. You’ll put an eye out.” She tucked the pistol into the front of her pants. “Now, just shut up and watch.”
Ranma walked over the basin and ran the water until it was warm. She splashed herself and became a he once more. “There now, is that better?” His voice was deep again and his uniform was now filled out in different ways than before.
Ranma chuckled and grabbed a glass and filled it with cold water. He walked over and dumped it over her head. “Wake-e, wake.”
Misato looked up and saw Ranma standing over her. “Oh, Ranma. I just had this weird dream that you turned into a redheaded woman. Although that would explain why you’re so stubborn and bull headed.”
Ranma filled the glass again and poured the cold water over his head, transforming into a woman again. “Boo!”
Misato fainted again.
“I could do this all day.” Ranma laughed. He transformed back again and woke her up again. Ranma helped the captain to her feet. “Where’s Shinji? How is he?”
Misato was still reeling a bit from the shock. “He’s in the room next door. He hasn’t woken up yet.”
“Is he all right? He’s not hurt bad, is he?” Ranma’s voice was filling with panic.
Misato smirked at getting a glimpse at what was really under Ranma’s hard exterior. “He’s fine. He just had a bad shock from the battle. He went through a pretty rough experience in the battle. I don’t know if he’ll pilot again or not.”
“Why did he have to pilot in the first place? Isn’t there some military pilot that could do it?”
“Only children born after second impact can pilot the EVAs, and the EVAs are the only real weapon we have against the angels. You saw what effect conventional weapons have on them.”
Ranma nodded. “So Shinji’s our only hope?”
“There is also Rei, but she’s in pretty bad shape from the Unit Zero activation test. You met her at the stasis pond.”
Ranma winced. “Gendou is going to pay.” He thought. He started toward the door. “Let’s go look in on Shinji.”
“Wait a minute!”
Ranma turned to a very determined look on her face. “What?”
“Could you tell me what the hell the sex changing bit is about?”
Ranma slapped his forehead. “I really need to write my autobiography so I don’t have to keep repeating this story.” He proceeded, once again, to tell the story of his curse and how water changes him between sexes.
An hour and half later, they went in and checked on Shinji. Shinji was breathing evenly and looked unhurt. “He looks okay to me.”
Misato crossed her arms. “That brings up another point.”
Ranma turned with a questioning look on his face. “What now?”
“How did you heal so fast, and what were you doing to that angel?”
Ranma rolled his eyes. “I’m a martial artist. If you want more details, wait for the book.” He walked over to Shinji’s bed as Misato huffed up. He nudged the sleeping boy. “Yo, Shinji. Come on, man, you can’t leave me hanging here. Wake up!”
Shinji blinked as he woke up. Of course waking up to Ranma’s face isn’t exactly what he expected to see. “Where am I?”
Ranma smiled. “You’re in the hospital. You don’t seem to be too bad hurt. How do you feel?”
Shinji thought about it a second. “I’m fine. I don’t hurt anywhere.”
Misato softened a bit and relaxed her arms to her side. “The LCL absorbed most of the shock from the blast. We were really only worried about any psychological damage.”
Ranma knocked on Shinji’s head. “Nope, not hollow. Looks like you’re fine to me.” He gave the boy an amused smile.
Shinji laughed. “Can I go? I, uh, really don’t like hospitals.”
Ranma looked to Misato. “Well?”
“I guess he can go. We’ll go to NERV headquarters and try to find you a place to live.”
Ranma and Misato went out in the hall to wait for Shinji to dress. After he was ready they walked to the elevator. On the way, Rei was wheeled by on a stretcher. The elevator doors opened to reveal Ikari Gendou. Ranma scowled, and Shinji turned his head away. Ranma and Gendou stared each other down until the doors closed.
Misato looked at the man and boy’s reaction to the director. “What the story between all of them?” She pondered.
Much later at NERV headquarters, Misato was a little shocked at the revelations on Shinji’s living arrangements. “They don’t want to live together?”
Ritsuko sighed. “It must be natural for them to be apart.”
Shinji tried to put on a brave face. “It’s okay. I’ll be fine living on my own.”
“You not going to live alone.” Ranma was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. “You’re going to live with me. It’ll be fun.” He smiled.
The allocations officer looked over his records. “Saotome Ranma, you will be living in the barracks. Single room.”
“You’re going to live in a closet with Shinji! There’s no way I’m going to let him live in a cramped place like that!” Misato pleaded.
Ranma kicked off the wall and walked forward. “He’s going to live with me. I can find another place to live. I’m not at the mercy of NERV’s generosity. I can always camp outside.”
“There’s no way I’m going to let him live with you!”
“He’ll turn out just like you!”
Ranma blinked. “Annnnnd…that’s a bad thing?”
“YES! I’m not going to let him turn into an egomaniac like you!”
“Well, I’m not letting him live alone!”
“He can live with me!”
Ranma laughed. “He needs to be taught how to fight! If he’s the only hope for humanity, then he needs training and I’m the best one for the job!” He stabbed a thumb at his chest to emphasize his point.
“Then you can both live with me! I’ve got two extra bedrooms!”
Ranma thought about it. “Okay.”
After loading back into Misato’s car, they drove off to the store. “Why are we going to the store?” Ranma wondered.
Misato gave him a playful smile. “Well…I’ve got two new roommates! That’s grounds for a party! We just need to pick up a few things!”
Ranma rubbed his temples. “All right, but make it quick.”
After picking up a few essentials, they headed off for Misato’s apartment. Upon arrival at the front door the apartment, Misato stopped and turned to her new roomies. “You’ll have to excuse the mess, but welcome to your new home.” She opened the door to reveal the inside of the apartment.
Shinji shuffled his feet. “I really don’t want to intrude.”
Misato bend over to Shinji’s eye level. “This is your home now. You’re not intruding.”
Shinji stepped across the threshold and smiled. “Home.”
Ranma poked his head in. “Hmmm…Empty beer cans…Empty liquor bottles…and trash everywhere…Shinji, you sure you don’t want to live in the woods?”
Misato pushed him into the apartment. “You ARE going to live here, and LIKE it. Shinji, would you put up the groceries?”
Shinji walked over and opened the fridge. “Ice?” Opened the next slide. “Snacks.” He pulled out the last slide. “And fifty gallons of beer?!”
Ranma looked at the contents. “It’s not too late to leave.”
Misato elbowed him out of the way. “Just make yourself comfortable. I’ll cook dinner.”
“You bought all instant crap, how can that be cooking?”
Misato scowled at him and turned to go to her room. “I’m going to change first.”
“Oh, don’t change yourself for my sake!” Ranma teased her. He was pleased at the growl that he got in response.
“What’s in the other fridge?” Shinji asked.
“Never mind. He’s probably still sleeping.”
“What?” Ranma and Shinji asked.
After an instant meal (and a few beers for Misato), Ranma decided to start training Shinji. “Okay, Shinji, if you’re going to live with me, you’re going to be a martial artist.”
Misato crossed her arms. “Hey! I’m living with you! Am I going to be a martial artist?”
“Why do you need to be? You don’t do anything useful.”
“DON’T DO ANYTHING USEFUL!!!” She jumped to her feet.
Ranma ignored her. “Okay, Shinji, let’s start out with a few stances.” Ranma started with a few basic stances for long and short-range combat.
“Big deal.” Misato, now dressed in a t-shirt with the sleeves pulled up and short shorts, got up and repeated the stances. “I can do that!”
Ranma had an annoyed look on his face. “Okay. How about this one?” He took up a stance with one leg in the air in front of him and held it.
Misato tried it, and fell. She growled and got back up and tried it again. After a shaky start, she fell over again.
Ranma laughed. “Come on! You’ve got to learn how to move those big hips of yours!”
Misato got up in his face. “My hips are not big!”
“Really. So what are those? Love handles?”
“GAAAHHH! You egotistical, pig-headed…”
“Stuck up, big hipped, brainless…”
The two trailed off as Shinji shook his head. He realized that the lesson was over. Shinji retired to his room for the night, falling asleep quickly from emotional exhaustion.
The next morning Shinji awoke to a pleasant sound, absolute silence. He smiled at the marvelous sound of silence. He stretched and walked into the living room, expecting to see the place in an even worse wreck from the two ‘adults’ fighting. He was shocked to see the place was as he left it, except for a new addition to the floor. On the floor was a pair of pants followed by shorts, two shirts, a bra, panties and a pair of boxers, all leading to Misato’s closed door.