Chapter Ten: InvasionEdit

Misato sighed as she tapped a pen against her cheek. It was truly astounding how much talent and sheer power there was in the room. She had marked down as much information as she could get from those there, and learned a great deal of information about the few who were wandering about the base.

She had figured that in the mess hall alone, there was more power collectively than an eva unit.

First there was Ranma, from what she had understood, he came from a world where martial artists could really pack a wallop, and he was one of the best. He was able to jump incredibly high distances and learn new techniques on the spot, as well as being able to punch and/or kick his opponent at insane speeds. Additionally, he had the ability to change sexes with nothing but water. A perfect addition to a Special Tactics Team against Hastur. Next to his name, there was a bright red checkmark.

Then there was Akane. While being from the same world as Ranma, she wasn't nearly as strong, skilled or fast as him, but she could easily kick the asses of most of the military personnel on the base. There was another check next to her name.

Moving along, she found Lina. Lina Inverse, from a world of intense magical power. In Lina's own words, she was the 'best'. From Gourry's words, however, she was simply the most frightening of all of L-Sama's creations on their own world. Gourry exhibited amazing proficiency with his sword, and seemed to be an excellent strategist. There were marks next to their names as well. There was also a third in their party, a man called Zelgadis, who was technically only one-third man. From what she had heard, he was just as strong as the other two from that world. Since she hadn't met him, of course, she ended up putting a question mark next to his name.

She didn't quite know what to make of Fei Fong Wong and Elly Van Houten. Fei was a great martial artist in his own respect, not quite living up to Ranma, but giving him a run for his money. Elly could also do amazing things with a twelve-inch plastic rod, that most people would never expect one could do. And then there was the Xenogears, which could prove to be an excellent tool in fighting Hastur. She had hastily checked their names as well.

Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockheart were amazing fighters in their own rights, and they had an amazing ability to summon creatures out of nowhere to help them out briefly, but there was a limit to such power. Still, valuable team members. She checked them off.

Then came the Returners. Terra Branford, Locke Cole, Sabin Figaro and Celes Chere. While each of them could command magic with great accuracy, they each had their own abilities. Terra seemed born of magic, and had stronger spells than all of them. Locke was sneaky, he had snuck up on Misato three times without even trying. Sabin was just as proficient with metal claws as Terra was with her magic, and Celes could draw magical-based attacks into her sword. She marked the four of them down.

Finally, there were herself, Shinji and Asuka. Misato herself had experience within the military, but Shinji and Asuka? All they knew was how to pilot an eva. Hardly useful in a world where eva units would probably never be developed. She wasn't sure how they could help, but she stopped to realize something.

Asuka was useful in front of a computer system. She knew them back and forth, side-to-side, therefore that would be her area, but Shinji...

Nothing occured to her, except for the nagging feeling that Shinji had more to him that she thought.

Finally, she stood up and took the paper with her. She walked directly towards General Leonard's office.

"And then-- get this, she dressed up as the opera singer and started to belt out lyrics. We were all blown away," Locke said, chuckling at the memories.

"All that just to get an airship?" Cloud asked. "We just stole ours from the Shinra Corporation."

"Don't forget that we did have the designer of the Highwind with us too, you know," Tifa interrupted.

"Well, yeah. Cid was with us. He engineered the Highwind," Cloud said.

"Cid?" Celes now broke into the conversation. "There's a Cid back on our world, too. He's my grandfather. He designed the MagiTek system."

"Doesn't sound anything like our Cid," Tifa said. "He's a pottymouthed smoker."

"Well, it's a good thing our worlds are nothing alike," Celes said. "I don't think I could deal with my Grandfather being like that."

Tifa laughed. "Yeah, although I would admit a chocobo could be fairly useful."

"About as useful as a dancing moogle," Celes said, winking.

They chuckled for a few moments, then paused. "Wait," Celes said. "Nobody from any of the other worlds have ever heard of a Chocobo. Do you know what a moogle is?"

"Well, yeah, actually. We've got one with us in one of our materia stones. His name's Mog."

Celes' eyes bugged out.

The streets were filled with refugees of the bay area. Cars were lined up for miles, trying to leave the city, for the unknown fear of what could happen if they stayed.

Of course, that didn't prevent a small line of cars trying to enter the city.

Mainly, they were military, and a few civilian vehicles, most notably local media and people trying to reach their families in the bay area.

But curiously, one vehicle stood out. It was a greyhound bus with 'Portland' displayed at the front. Strangely enough, nobody noticed it.

Hastur looked upon the lineup. He could try to break through, but chances were that the soldiers would delay him further. It was hard to keep control of his essence while he was split into twelve shells.

The driver shell looked curiously out the window at the three cars in front of him and grimaced at the form of a soldier talking to one of the drivers of the vehicles.

The soldier then looked toward the bus and used the radio he held in his hand. A few moments passed, and then a voice was heard.

"This is National Guard Sierra Golf Five, to Civilian Greyhound Number Twenty-Five-Twelve, copy?"

There was silence.

"This is National Guard Sierra Golf Five, to Civilian Greyhound Number Twenty-Five-Twelve, do you copy?"

Hastur ignored it for a moment, then realized that the bus he now had control of was numbered twenty-five twelve. The soldier was communicating to him through the bus frequency.

"This is National Guard Sierra Golf Five, to Civilian Greyhound Number Twenty-Five-Twelve, do you copy?"

The driver shell picked up the radio and pressed the button.

"Yes, we copy," all of Hastur's shells replied at once.

"Civilian Greyhound Number Twenty-Five-Twelve, don't you know that the entire bay area is under evac?"

"We do."

"Then why are you here?"

"We have business with the newcomers."

"Say again, Twenty-Five-Twelve?"

The bus made a collective sigh. "Allow us passage, human. We have business with the newcomers."

"Twenty-Five-Twelve, be advised there is a DefCon One condition in the Bay Area, if you do not turn around, you and your passengers will be forced to leave."

Hastur growled collectively. "If you do not allow us passage, we shall consume your essence and continue on our way."

There was a moment of silence.

"Hold, Twenty-Five Twelve," the soldier said over the radio. Ahead of the bus, Hastur could see the man switching channels on the radio and talking. A few moments later, the look of fear consumed the soldier. He quickly switched back.

"Twenty-Five-Twelve, I'll clear some space. You are to go directly to your destination. Any divergence will result in lethal force."

"We do not plan on diverging."

The man quickly rushed the cars in front of the bus to one side. And with that, Hastur was on his way.

In General Leonard's office, the phone rang.

Zelgadis looked into the computer screen thoughtfully. "So these devices hold information, like books?"

"Books, games, applications, things like that," Sarah replied, typing in a few commands into her console.

"So, what would this be, then?"

"It's the transfer log for Project: Churchill. It's what brought you and your... err... companions over."

"I see. So it records things like that?"

"Yes, it can record pretty much anything," she said, almost dismissing Zelgadis.

Truthfully, she was surprised and amazed by Zelgadis' power. It had proved that maybe there were things that couldn't be explained by science, as had been Sarah's belief for years now. Part of her resented the fact, but part of her felt hopeful.

"So with this log you may be able to find a way to return us home?"

"That's the plan. We can't very well have you sitting around here, right?" She sighed. "And if we can send that Hastur thing back where it came from, it would save us a whole lot of trouble."

Zelgadis nodded. "Agreed."

Sarah tapped a few buttons on her console and gasped.

"What is it?"

"I think I just figured it out," Sarah said, smiling.

"How so?" Zelgadis looked at the screen. It looked like complete gibberish to him.

"Look here," she pointed to one part of the screen. "This is a log of every molecule that was sent in the transfer. An amazingly huge amount, considering there are over sixteen of you, right?"

"I suppose," Zelgadis replied.

"Well, look over here now. Each set of data is accompanied by a string of characters, and I've been racking my brain trying to figure them out. Why the hell were they there, and all that, right?"


"They're space-time coordinates."

"Pardon me?" Zelgadis asked.

Sarah turned her chair around. "Look," she began. "Every point in space has its own set of coordinates, like... X marks the spot on a map."

"I see."

"Now, we've been using this program to define places on planet Earth. It didn't even occur to us that it might branch out into various dimensions or galaxies, but it did. The computer had a hard time dealing with it, so it gave a set of _EXACT_ space-time coordinates for every molecule that was transferred."

"I'm not sure I'm following you," Zelgadis said.

"In laymans terms... we can get you home, but it'll take some time. I've got to play matchmaker here. I don't want to send you or any of your friends to the wrong world, if you catch my drift."

Zelgadis smiled. "I understand. How long do you think?"

"I'm not sure. Not long, though. Most of the work is already done, I've just got to cut each one of you and... paste you into the right space-time coordinates."

Zelgadis really didn't like the sound of that.

"All personnel report to the mess hall, immediately."

Sarah growled. "Oh, what now?"

"Mein Gott, this system is ancient," Asuka complained. "Look at this, it's only 4.3 Gigahertz! It's like a ten-yen system!"

"Well, it is 1999," Shinji said. "That was probably a good system back then."

"You stay out of this," Asuka said. She typed a few more keys into her console. "As if you'd know anything about military systems."


"Shut up, Shinji," Asuka barked.

Shinji sighed. "How do you think Misato got here, Asuka?"

Asuka shrugged. "Probably much in the same way we did," she replied. "That'd be my guess."

"But it was so different," Shinji said. "We didn't arrive naked. We also arrived around the same time all the others did. They even said that their project wasn't operational when Misato showed up."

Asuka growled and pushed herself away from the console. "So? What are you trying to say, Shinji? That she's no Misato?"

"Well, no, not that--"

"That she's some kind of demented off-shoot of Hastur? Oh, no, wait... She's the first Angel! That's it."

"I'm not saying that, Asuka."

"Then keep your trap shut," Asuka said, pulling herself back to the console. "I'm not willing to look a gift horse in the mouth, Shinji. Especially not now."

Shinji looked toward Asuka and sighed. He had so badly wanted to tell her. To tell somebody... but the chances of somebody listening were slim to none. Who would have believed it? 'Oh, by the way, Asuka. I caused Misato to arrive by mere thought. Here! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat now! I'm great at parties!'.

A moment later, a rabbit hopped into the room. Asuka stared at it for a moment in confusion.

Shinji, of course, never noticed.

The PA system then rang out and scared the rabbit away. "All personnel report to the mess hall, immediately."

Asuka turned toward Shinji. "Shinji, did you see--" she paused. "Nevermind. Let's go."

She stopped to pick up a laptop from under the table and started her way out to the mess hall, with Shinji in tow.

"Come on, people," Misato called. "Pay attention!"

"We are!" Ranma called back.

"Oh, right," Misato replied. "Is everyone here? Make a quick check."

Everyone in the room took a look around. Lina and Gourry stood up.

"Zelgadis isn't here," Lina said.

"Yes, he is," Zelgadis said, walking into the room, followed by the good doctor Sarah.

"What's going on?" the doctor asked.

"Hastur has broken into the city," Misato said. "We need to arrange a plan of battle. He could be here any minute, but there is also some bad news."

"What's that?" Akane asked, from the front of the room.

"Quite simply," Misato said as she turned to the video screen at the front of the hall, "We're no longer dealing with just one entity."

"What?" Zelgadis exclaimed. "He's got friends?"

"Not exactly," Misato said. "Listen to this." She bent over and flicked a switch on the video screen. The blue on the screen intself turned to black, and a yellows sound bar appeared in the middle of the screen.

"Sierra Golf Five, this is X-Ray Tango Two, report," one voice said.

"X-Ray Tango Two, de nada. We've been doing nothing but turning away traffic for hours, Sir."

"What's on your slate, Sierra Golf?"

"Two civilian cars, a civilian greyhound transport, that's about it."

"A greyhound?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Get on their frequency and tell them to get out of here. The company should have done it."

"Yes, Sir."

There were a few moments of silence.

"This is National Guard Sierra Golf Five, to Civilian Greyhound Number Twenty-Five-Twelve, copy?"

There was silence.

"This is National Guard Sierra Golf Five, to Civilian Greyhound Number Twenty-Five-Twelve, do you copy?"

"Yes, we copy," a voice replied from the bus, but it sounded strange.

"Civilian Greyhound Number Twenty-Five-Twelve, don't you know that the entire bay area is under evac?"

"We do."

"Then why are you here?"

"We have business with the newcomers."

The people inside the mess hall closed their eyes, and a few of them nodded. Misato shut the recording down.

"It's him," Terra said. "But why does he sound so strange?"

"That confused the Guard, too. But when the bus actually broke through the roadblock, they got an answer," Misato said. "There are about twelve people aboard the bus. Each of them were talking in unison."

"Wait," Cloud said. "He's got them ALL?"

Misato nodded. "It's okay, we're starting to work together a plan." She looked toward Zelgadis. "Your friends said something about your being able to knock Hastur out of his body for a period of time, right?" Misato asked.

Zelgadis nodded. "Rah Tilt, that's right. But it only works for a few moments until he works his way back in. It doesn't take him too long."

"Is there any way you could further adapt that? To make him stay in a body?"

Zelgadis thought for a second. "Well," he began. "In order to do that, you would have to use a spell designed to keep an astral form within the body. The closest thing I can think of is a healing spell, or a barrier spell."

"Are you capable of it?" Leonard asked, breaking into the conversation.

"I'm capable of any shamanist magic," Zelgadis said. "But the thing is that shamanism alone won't make this spell. I'll have to design an all-new one."

"What do you need?" Terra asked, stepping towards Zelgadis. "I'll help."

Zelgadis raised his brow and nodded. "I'll need to get an idea of your magical abilities."

Terra smiled.

"Hey, what about me?" Lina asked.

Misato took the opportunity to break into the conversation. "Actually, you'd be much more useful on the offensive," she said. "Especially once Hastur gets here, which won't be long. He's broken through the city gates, we still haven't figured out how, and he knows exactly where we are."

Lina blinked, then nodded. She understood the implications.

"Okay, so we've figured that much out," Cloud said. "But the trick is confining him to one body, right? If those reports you got are true, then he's inhabited at least a dozen bodies."

"I think I've got a theory about that," James said, walking into the room carrying a printout.

He cleared some space on a table and slammed the printout down. "As soon as I heard about him having control over twelve bodies, something clicked."

"What's that?" Ranma asked, looking over James' shoulder.

"Well, roughly, this: We've only seen Hastur take over single entities, correct? A cop here, Joe Blow nobody there, but we've never seen his manifestation in more than one body at once. Therefore, I came up with a hypothesis," he started.

"Which is?" Fei asked.

"It's an unproven theory, Fei," Elly informed him.

"As far as I can figure, he feeds on the lifeforce of those he infests. It takes a few minutes for them to die entirely, but it's inevitable. So, I got to thinking... what was to prevent those he took over from re-taking their bodies?"

"I dunno," Ranma broke in. "As far as I can figure, he's an alien fart. Maybe the smell overpowers them."

James snapped his fingers. "I wouldn't have said it quite like that, but you're pretty damn close. No, it's his willpower. His essence is filled with his purpose, which is, as we know, to eat life wherever he can find it. Now, I got to thinking... if he's in a dozen different bodies, then his willpower is spread thin."

"Then what's to prevent the new ones from retaking their bodies?" Misato asked.

"He's still able to overpower them, but he wouldn't have to same level of control over them as he would if he was in a single organism."

"Okay, so what do we do? Kill them? Innocent people?"

James shook his head. "No, you're not understanding me. They're already dead. His power is spread thin... Think of it this way. If you sat on a nail, what would happen?"

"You'd get a nail crammed up your ass," Asuka said.

"Precisely, but what if you sat on twelve nails, arranged in a square-shaped pattern?"

"It wouldn't hurt as much as the single nail, because your weight would be evenly distributed!" Asuka exclaimed. "Which means, he'll be easier to kill!"

"Not kill, no," James said. "We haven't exactly figured out a way to do that yet, but we have figured out how to trap him, and with that may come the knowledge of how to kill him."

"So then what do you suggest?" Leonard asked.

"Arrange some teams to kill all but one of his new hosts," James said. "If my hypothesis holds up, then we can expect that his entire essence will gather in the single host body."

"And if it doesn't?" Sabin asked.

James smiled. "If it doesn't... we try again, and again, and again if we have to."

"Hey, uhh... everyone?" Asuka said, typing on the laptop. "We've got company."

As she turned the laptop to face the crowd, they were all subject to the image of a greyhound bus crashing through the gates of the compound.

Leonard took a deep breath. "It's now or never people," he said. "Katsuragi, get them mobilized."

Misato nodded, and then faced her troops.

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