Chapter One: Worlds AwayEdit
"It WHAT?" General Albert F. Leonard asked.
"It seems to have failed. We're suspecting sabotage, the records show that the San Francisco facility sent out a feedback loop just before the sequence initiated," the lieutenant informed his superior is his office at the pentagon.
"Doggone it!" he pounded his fist on his desk. "Six damn years we spent on this project, and we let the bad guys screw it up for us?"
"I'm afraid so, sir."
"Find whoever did this. I want him in this office as soon as possible."
"We've already detained someone from the San Francisco facility. A background check revealed his daughter was killed by Gordon Colen, the prisoner we were using for the human test."
"Doesn't anybody check up on these things anymore?"
"We didn't see any need to, sir."
"That doesn't matter. What about the prisoner? If he still alive?"
"Hard to say, sir. After the smoke cleared, there was no sign of him. Remains or otherwise."
"Great, now we have an escaped convict to worry about," he sighed, "Set up a manhunt, I don't want him gone for long."
"According to the computer readouts, whatever wasn't corrupted, his pattern was transferred somewhere, but its hard to say where."
"Great, with any luck he re-materialize in orbit."
"There was also some quantum interference, sir. It seemed there were other patterns in the buffer."
"Yes sir. Seventeen to be exact. Two seemed to stand out the most. According to the readout, an energy field of some sort and a very, very large object."
"What does Doctor Hanson say about it?"
"Nothing yet, sir. She is still in the hospital, she hasn't regained consciousness yet."
The General leaned back in his chair for a moment. "Find out where those patterns came from. Find the source if you have to, but keep it hush-hush. Congress doesn't even know about this project yet, and that's the way its going to stay, understand me?"
"Give the orders."
The lieutenant saluted the General as he nodded and left.
"Ranma?" Akane asked, looking up into his eyes.
"What just happened?" he asked her. The tingling sensation still hadn't left him, but he noted the fact that he and Akane now stood at a lakes edge, surrounded by hundreds of trees.
"I don't know," she said, getting up. The last thing she remembered was seeing a green energy field, and then nothing but blue sky. All of a sudden aware of her condition, she involuntarily covered herself up.
"Give me your pants!" she yelled.
"What? What about me?!" he argued.
"That doesn't matter, you're wearing boxers! I need something to cover me up!"
"You're already wearing my shirt!" he yelled at her.
"That's not going to do much!" she replied.
Off in the distance, a deer listened to the arguing couple, and bounded off into the woods.
It took Shinji a few moments to clear his head. He stared without relent at his surroundings. Something wasn't right. He was just beginning to realize what had happened to him when the energy field has descended upon him and Asuka. Even then, he still wasn't clear on everything. Now this was happening. He doubted his sanity, something he had been doing multiple times in the past few days of his life.
He decided that rather than sit on the side of the road, he should try and forget his problems and focus on Asuka. Anything to take his mind off of what had been happening.
"Asuka?" Shinji asked, shaking her.
"Asuka, wake up!" he yelled.
Where they were made no sense at all to Shinji. Last thing he remembered, was a vast wasteland, with no signs of life for miles. Now, as he sat on the side of the road, half watching the passing cars and lush green plant life, he realized he had missed something.
Looking up, he noticed a truck pulling to the side of the road. The driver got out and ran up to Shinji.
"Hey, is she all right?" the driver asked Shinji.
Shinji looked at him, confused for a moment. It dawned on him a moment later that the man was speaking English. Quickly trying to recall his English lessons from school, he returned the speech.
"Hospital," he said, "Her need to go hospital!" he told him. His english was usually much better, but in his current state, he didn't seem able to recall much else.
"Hop in the bed of the truck, there's a stretcher back there you can strap her to," the driver replied.
Shinji only understood a handful of words, but after seeing the stretcher, he got the full idea. He hopped into the truck, and helped lift Asuka down onto the stretcher, and tied her down.
"Stay back there, I'll have you to the hospital in no time!" the man said as he hopped into the truck.
Shinji had no idea what he said, but managed to understand after the truck started to speed off, nearly knocking Shinji out of the bed.
"This... Uhh.. Wouldn't be..." Lina gawked at her surroundings.
"Hmm.. It would appear we've been teleported," Zel said thoughtfully.
"Wow, look at that bridge!" Gourry pointed at the large red wrought iron bridge stretched across the bay in front of them.
"Where are we?" Lina said, looking around. A group of people were standing a few feet away from them, gawking.
"Hmm..." Zel muttered, rubbing his chin. "Can you read these characters?" he asked, pointing towards a sign.
Lina looked closely at them. "Nope," she said, tracing her fingers over the characters on the sign.
The three of them looked about for a moment.
"Do you notice anything?" Zelgadis asked.
"Look at everyone. Look at the way they're dressed. They don't hold any walking staffs, none of them are holding weapons. Yet they don't even bat an eye at us."
Lina looked around, everyone was indeed, ignoring them completely. "Maybe its just the custom here."
It was then that Gourry perked up and noticed something off in the distance. "Hey, look!" he pointed at what seemed to be some kind of festival.
"What do you suppose it is?" Lina asked.
"I think..." Zelgadis squinted his eyes. "It's something we should most definately check out."
"I hope there's something to eat," Lina muttered.
"How.. Did.." Terra muttered, staring around.
"I have no idea."
"That field, it was like the X-zone."
"No. It couldn't have been," Terra shook her head. "There is no magic anymore."
"But where are we now?" Celes asked, looking around. They were in a crop-like field, which seemed to go on for miles. Strange plants grew around them as the four of them continued to walk.
"How did we get here, would be the better question," Sabin muttered as he pushed another stalk out of his way.
"This field is man-made," Locke said, "If we keep going, we'll find someone who can tell us where we are..."
"Or kill us," Sabin muttered again.
"That's doubtful, not with us. Even without magic, we can put up a hell of a fight."
Sabin smiled and nodded. "Good point."
"Wait," Terra stopped.
"What is it?"
"Don't you hear that?"
Each of them listened closely. Locke was the first to speak.
"It's a `swooshing' sound. It comes and goes every few seconds," he said, then looked to his left. "It's coming from over there!"
The four of them pushed their way through the field until the reached the outer edge. What they saw there, none of them could fully explain.
"What..." Celes began.
"Are..." Locke Continued.
"Those...?" Sabin finished.
Terra frowned. A deep, angry frown as she realized they were no longer in their own world. In front of her, contraptions of gleaming chrome, each one an assortment of colours, but most notably, there were human beings inside of them.
"Tifa?" Cloud asked.
"Where is everyone?"
"I don't know," she walked ahead for a moment, stepping over a log that had fallen on its side. In the distance of the forest, they could see what seemed to be a clearing, and a strange four-legged animal pouncing about through the woods.
"I think we should head over there," Cloud said, pointed towards the clearing.
Tifa nodded. "Keep your sword handy."
"I had no intentions of doing otherwise," he said as he began to walk towards the clearing.
Tifa smiled and followed.
"How did we get here?" Fei asked, astounded at the sights he was seeing.
"I don't know, but that city down there.. It... There's nothing like it! It can't be there!" she nearly shouted.
"I don't think we're on our world anymore, Elly. It just feels different. Almost alien."
Elly nodded. "Should we land?"
Fei checked the fuel gauge in the cockpit. "We've still got fuel left, but we should land somewhere and recharge."
"Somewhere that will attract little attention," Elly replied, nodding.
Fei looked at the city below him. It was vast, going as far as his eye could see. But far into the distance he spotted it.
"Over there," he pointed. A patch of dark green past the city's edge, a forest at the base of a mountain. "Those trees should be large enough to camouflage us accurately."
Unbeknownst to the two in the cockpit of the Xenogears, hundred of feet below, calls were being made to the police, government officials, newspapers and UFO researchers simultaneously.
It was only disoriented for a moment. Precisely 1.385 seconds to be exact. Wherever it was didn't matter, the fact was that he had been supplied with a food source sooner than expected. As it spied the ground below him, he saw the first subject.
When it went through the process of feeding, it usually took months, sometimes even years to consume an entire planet. But that was usually because it was hungry and fatigued. Now it was not. It was fully fed, but it would still have room for more.
No, it thought to itself. This world will not take long, he did a quick estimation from the planets gravity to estimate the size. The air quality told him of the technological advancements, and from pressure, he could tell the approximate population. He looked downward to catch a view of a member of the dominant species. Humanoid. Opposable thumbs. If he could smile in his current form, he would have. He had already found his first victim.
It moved itself through the oxygen surrounding it to the man below. He was running through a grassy field, unknowing of his impending doom. A moment later, the body was taken. The life force held within the being was quickly being consumed. It would not take long for the life force to be completely consumed. A minute, maybe less. He had come into contact with other life forces, nearly ten times as strong as this one. Some have even had enough to reject his essence from their bodies. But in the end, they always gave up.
It accessed the memories and knowledge of his new host body. As he simultaneously tested out his motor functions. He had been in humanoid bodies before, but they were always the most awkward to keep balance in. He brought a hand up to his face and stretched it outward, when the memories began to flow into him.
The name of the man was Gordon Colen. A mass murderer, sentenced to death by the judiciary system of this world. No. Country. He brought up a brief geological image of the world, and where he was. Then he frowned. He didn't _KNOW_ where he was. Neither he nor the body he inhabited knew. But as the more recent memories began to surface as he fed off of the last of the mans life force, he smiled. He now knew how he had come to be there.
"No," he said to himself, using his newly acquired voice. "Not long at all."
"Sarah?" James asked, sitting by the side of the hospital bed. He frowned as he recalled the situation he had gone through after the explosion.
He had been waiting outside of the facility when he heard the explosion. Since the guards were mostly concerned with finding the source of the explosion, they ignored him as he ran into the control booth to see if Sarah was alright. After order was partially restored, they started to collect the casualties, bringing military personnel to the medical facility in the compound. All non-military personnel had to be taken to civilian hospitals. James gritted his teeth at the memory.
A moment earlier, she had stirred, it was barely noticeable to the untrained eye, but James had become accustomed to noticing the most minute of details.
"Sarah? Are you awake?" he asked again.
He had known Sarah for years. They had even gone out at one point, then broke up a year later, but somehow managed to remain friends. He was waiting outside of the facility for Sarah so they could go out for a drink, perhaps even catch a movie. He hadn't known what was going on inside, until he heard the explosion. Then, he just didn't care, but somehow, he knew where to find Sarah.
He found her caught under a metal beam. Not horribly heavy, but enough to break a few ribs, or worse. Fortunately, Sarah got off with just the former.
A low moan escaped Sarah lips as she turned her head. A moment later, to James' elation, she opened her eyes.
She smiled slightly. "What hit me?"
"A metal beam."
She blinked at him for a moment. "How did..."
"I was waiting for you in the parking lot." he shrugged, "Had I known something big was happening, I woulda stayed home. I guess its lucky I was there."
"The... The project," she groaned as she sat up.
"You'd better stay down, the doctor says you've broken three ribs."
Sarah plopped back down into the bed. "What went wrong?"
"I have no idea. You're lab assistant was conscious a few minutes ago, but now she's under again," he pointed at the bed across from them. "She said there was a `feedback loop' or something, whatever that means."
"Damnit!" she yelled.
"She also said `There were others.' She went back under before I could ask what she meant. What are you guys working on in there?"
Sarah shook her head. "Sorry, James. Non-Disclosure."
James nodded in understanding. "Well, do _YOU_ know what she meant by that?"
Sarah stared out for a moment. "I'm not sure. It could mean any number of things," she looked at James' face. "I really wish I could tell you, James."
James smiled. "Me too, just lay back and relax for now. I've got to go now. I've been with you all night, I think I'd better get some sleep."
Sarah nodded in understanding. "I'll be here if you need me."
James smiled as he walked out the door.
"Excuse me, Mr. Ikari?" a Japanese doctor walked up to him.
Shinji snapped out of his reverie and looked up. He had been thinking more on his current situation, but it still mostly came out as a total blank.
"We've taken a look at your friend. She should be fine, although there's not much more we can do without health insurance."
Shinji nodded. Then looked back down, he started to retreat back into his mind when the doctor had continued to speak.
"There's one more thing, Mr. Ikari."
Looking back up, he answered. "Yes?"
"This hospital isn't used to taking in people with no form of identification, even if they are unconscious."
"I uhh.. Don't have any," he checked his pockets. Maybe he had his NERV I.D. on him. As he noted that his pockets were empty, the doctor continued.
"Indeed, and you speak limited English. The point is this, Mr. Ikari. There were marks found on your friend's throat that would indicate someone tried to strangle her. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"
Shinji gasped. A moment later, he nodded. "Yes sir. I know how they got there."
The doctor nodded. "Mr. Ikari, I'm afraid we're going to have to detain you until your friend wakes up. You will be released if she decides not to press charges."
To the doctors surprise, Shinji co-operated. The hospital security guard brought him to a small room at the end of a corridor, and sat him down.
The doctor stared at the boy walk off down the hall and shook his head. The boy was wearing normal clothes, but the girl had been wearing some sort of plastic suit. When he had examined her, it took him a few minutes to figure out how to get her undressed. The scissors seemed ineffective, but then a nurse inadvertently put pressure on a small tab near the collar, and the suit was loosened from her skin just enough that they could remove it.
He glanced back for a moment, nodding at a police officer seated in the room across the hall.
"Sir?" the lieutenant stood at the Generals office door.
"Come in," he said as he stared out his window.
"We've gotten a few reports. Concerning the extra patterns."
"There was a mass UFO sighting above San Francisco today. The fact that it differed from all other UFO sightings and was reported by many people in downtown San Francisco leads us to believe it's not a coincidence."
"What are the details?"
"Several people claim to have seen a humanoid shaped machine flying away from San Francisco. Our base also concedes that there was in fact, something in the air. We lost tracking of it after it neared the mountains."
"Check up on it," he said. "Anything else?"
"We're still checking on things, sir. However there was a report of a strangely dressed teen at the Cedar Grove Hospital."
"Cedar Grove? The Facility?"
"A civilian hospital, sir. Two Japanese teenagers were brought in by a man who found them on the freeway. The girl was unconscious. The boy is being detained for questioning."
"It doesn't necessarily mean anything," he thought for a moment. "But I want a full report on the questioning. Keep looking, lieutenant."
"I can't believe I agreed to this," Ranma said as he removed his pants and handed them to Akane.
"You'd prefer me naked, perhaps?" she giggled.
Ranma briefly paused, but then recovered, "Phfft. Who'd wanna see a tomboy like you naked?"
Akane paused as she put the pants on. "Ranma?" she replied, in a more serious tone than he had expected.
"I heard you. I just couldn't do anything."
"Back in China. When you put your shirt on me. I hear everything you said."
"You did?" he said. Then thought. *What the hell did I say?* "Uhhh..."
"Hello!?" a voice called from the opposite end of the lake. Ranma and Akane instinctively looked over. Standing on the edge were two people. A man and a woman from what they could tell.
"Hey!" Ranma replied, waving them over. He looked at Akane. "Well, at least they speak Japanese."
"Maybe they can tell us where we are."
"Maybe," he said as he got up to walk around the lake to meet the two people on the other end.
"Do you think they can tell us where we are?" Tifa asked.
"I hope so. This place doesn't feel right. The air. The way the wind blows. It just feels... Alien," Cloud replied.
"I know. And that animal we saw earlier."
"Well, we'll find out in a minute, they're coming over to meet us," he pointed at the two forms.
Ranma looked suspiciously for a moment as he started to be able to see the people before him a bit better. What seemed to stand out most was something protruding from the man's back. It was hard to make out at the moment, but a few seconds later, he realized what it was.
"It's.. A.. Zanbatou..." Akane gawked.
"What the hell does he have that for?" Ranma asked.
"Do you think he wants to..." Akane replied.
Ranma shook his head. "He didn't sound menacing. We should be on guard."
Akane nodded. "Right."
"What did they stop for?" Tifa asked.
"I don't know. We're almost there, lets keep going."
"Who are you?" Ranma asked, bringing himself to a defensive stance.
The blonde one put his hands up in front of him, as a friendly gesture. "Hold on, we don't mean any harm."
"Then what's with that?" Ranma gestured towards the sword strapped onto the blonde ones back.
"It's my sword. I always carry it with me."
"Where exactly are we?" Akane asked.
The woman gawked. "You mean... You don't know either?"
"Oh no," Akane said. "You too?"
"We were at the northern cave a while ago, then some light came down on us, and here we are," the blonde one continued.
"Northern cave?" Ranma asked.
The blonde one shook his head. "It doesn't matter. The point is, we're here and we don't even know where here is."
"Me neither," Ranma said, dropping his defensive stance.
"Should we stick together? Try and find out where we are?" the woman suggested.
Akane smiled. "I think that would be best. Ranma?" she looked at him.
Ranma nodded. "I guess that would be the best idea."
The blonde man smiled. "Good. I'm Cloud. This is Tifa," he gestured towards the girl next to him.
"Tifa Lockheart, pleased to meet you," she said as she extended her hand out towards Akane.
"Akane Tendo. Likewise," Akane smiled as she shook her hand.
"Ranma Saotome," Ranma greeted with a forced smile. He still didn't trust the man with the sword completely. He would have to earn that.
"So, do we have any idea where we are?" Gourry asked.
"I would imagine we've left Seyroon. We may be outside of the barrier, but these structures. I've never seen the likes of them. They nearly touch the sky," Zel commented.
"Who cares about that? I'm hungry!" Lina said as she stopped in front of a buffet table.
"Lina, that food may not be..."
Lina mumbled something as she downed the contents of the table in three seconds flat.
It was noticed rather quickly by several people that the food had gone. However, they had suspected someone ran off with the food, instead of consuming it right there on the spot. Lina was not even granted a second look as she walked slowly away from the table.
"It would seem there are many dressed similarly to us, however I'm not so sure its chance. These people seem to be dressed like us for some kind of celebration. Look," he pointed as several people wearing clothes similar to what the people he had seen earlier were wearing, "they are dressed differently. I believe if we're to look inconspicuous, we've got to find similar clothing."
"Do you have any money?" Lina asked, walking alongside him.
"I've got my pouch," he said. "There should be enough in there to buy us some decent clothes."
"Great, all we have to do now is find a clothes merchant."
"Should we ask someone?" Gourry asked.
"I doubt they would understand us, I can't for the life of me understand a word they're saying."
"Well, we've got to find somewhere to buy some clothes," Lina said.
"Like that?" Gourry pointed to a stand off to the left of them.
"Indeed. That will do nicely, however those are merely shirts. We would have to find a merchants stand that sells trousers," Zelgadis replied.
"Well, lets go!" Lina said, running towards the stand.
"What do you make of them?" Locke asked Sabin thoughtfully.
"They're weird. It's like Magitek in a way, but more... I don't know, machinelike."
"I can't sense any magic from them," Terra said.
"Have you seen anything like this before, Celes?"
Celes stared out onto the open road for a few seconds longer. "Once. The empire was experimenting with cross-country land transport devices that don't rely on tracks. They made a prototype that ran the same fuel that the Magitek armor ran on. The prototype was destroyed, and the never tried again."
"Could we be... In the future?" Locke asked. "I mean, if there's no magic in that, then technology could have advanced us that far, couldn't it?"
"Look at the airship. In a way, it was far more advanced than these contraptions," Terra said. "If we were in the future, we'd probably see a collection of airship traffic." She shook her head. "No. I don't even think we're on our world."
"Where are we then?"
"Somewhere else. I don't know exactly, but somewhere else."
"Should we follow the road?"
Terra looked around for a moment. "Yes, I think that would be best. Maybe we can find an Inn or something."
"How is it?" Elly asked from below.
In the open cockpit, Fei sat watching the fuel gauge count up. "Eighty precent. Another half-hour should bring it up to full power."
"Aren't you going to come down here? It's beautiful!" she said, spinning around in the clearing they had landed in.
Fei smiled. "I think we'd better first figure out where we are. That city... I've never seen anything that big. Not even Etrenank."
"Where do you think we are?"
"Me? I've got as much of a clue as you do. I suppose it may be possible we've traveled into the future. But I doubt that."
"You know what I think?"
"On Solaris, I've seen ancient photographs excavated from the Ruins on Ignas. They were barely visible, but some contained pictures of cities. Cities like this one. I think we're in the past. On the planet we came from originally."
"That means we've not only gone to another solar system, but a whole other time as well. Ten thousand years back, if not further."
Elly shrugged. "Fate does weird things."
Fei smiled. He knew it did. His entire life. All of his lives have been strange twists of fate. The current one being no exception.
He walked onward, continuing on the course he had selected. He hated walking, it was so.. Inefficient. From the memories he had taken from the man, he thought it would be best to drive in what the people of this world called `cars'. That would be far faster. As it was, he had no idea where he was geographically. Since he had entered the body, he had been walking on instinct.
The he heard it. Ever so faintly, a swooshing noise. Again, and again. From his hosts memories, he identified the sound easily.
There was a road nearby.
*Soon,* he thought to himself. *So soon.*
"Mr. Ikari?" a policeman asked as he entered the room. He was American, that much was certain, and he spoke with a heavy American accent.
"Yes?" he replied without looking up.
"I'm Detective Walter Costa, I'd like to ask you a few questions if you don't mind..."
Shinji shuffled in his chair. "Whatever."
"Okay, first off," he began as he brought out a tape recorder, "For the record, I'll need your full name."
He sighed. He didn't want to talk, but it was better than remaining in silence. "Shinji Ikari."
"What is your nationality, Mr. Ikari?"
He scoffed. As if they didn't already know. He had told everyone he'd seen since arriving here. Wherever 'here' was. "Japanese," he answered.
"Were you born in Japan?"
"Are you a legal American citizen?"
The man paused for a moment and continued to write.
"How did you come to be in America, son? Vacation?"
"No. I don't know how I got here."
The man eyed him suspiciously for a moment, then continued.
"Date of birth?"
He had to strain for an answer. Since the Third Impact, he had been having trouble bringing anything up from his mind. "June 6, 2001."
The man dropped his pen for a moment. "Listen son, its imperative you tell the truth. This is after all a legal matter."
Shinji looked confused for a moment. "I am."
The man just shook his head. "Okay, whatever. Your friend..."
"Asuka Soryuu Langley."
"Okay, son. She was brought into the hospital for what reason?"
"I tried to kill her," he said meekly.
The man batted his eye at him for a moment, then continued to write.
"Why were you trying to kill her?"
"I was angry."
"You were angry at her? What did she do?"
"Not her. Well, not just her. Everyone, my Father, Everyone at NERV..."
"Yes. That's the organization I work for."
"Where can I contact them?"
"Why is that?"
"Well, besides the fact that everyone in the organization is dead, its Top Secret."
The police officer raised an eyebrow, then wrote something down. "I'll just leave that subject alone for now. What were you doing at the side of the road this morning?"
"I don't know."
"What do you mean?"
"I wasn't there a moment earlier."
"Where were you?"
"Japan. Well, I think it was Japan. It was more of a wasteland."
The man dropped his pen for a moment, then continued.
"Okay. Where exactly do you live in Japan?"
He seemed to be getting annoyed, but tried his best not to let it show. "Son, what's the date?"
"August 16, 2015."
He dropped his pen. "Son, what's the deal here?"
"It's not 2015 son, its not even the twenty-first century yet. Not for another year and a half."
"Not... 2015?" he kept his eyes wide open after that remark.
"No, son. Now you'd better start getting serious. This isn't a joke."
"Not... 2015..?" he kept repeating it. As if if would make more sense if he kept repeating.
"Now, those clothes your friend was wearing. What are they?"
"It's a... Plug suit..." he said absent-mindedly.
"Plug suits, for piloting... Eva's."
"Evangelion Units. You wouldn't have heard of them."
He shook his head. "Son, I understand there's something seriously wrong right now. I don't know what you've been through, but its not 2015, you weren't born in 2001, there is no Tokyo-3, and I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as an 'Evangelion Unit'."
Shinji looked up at him. He was more calmed down than he had been during his final moments in his Eva, but he was still feeling himself approaching his threshold. "Look," he said, " I don't know how or why this happened, but it did. Apparently, I've gone back in time, to before I was even born. But the fact remains that I'm not lying, give me a polygraph if you need to."
"Polygraphs don't work if you really believe all this."
"Your friend isn't awake yet. Believe me, though. When she is, I'll be asking her the same questions."
"You do that."
"Until then, you're going to remain detained until we can find your parents." he said as he got up and left.
A few minutes later, the report of the questioning was faxed to the headquarters by use of a hospital fax machine, were it was in turn faxed to a military installation in Cedar Grove, and then relayed to Washington.
A certain General smiled after reading the fax, and picked up the phone.