“You were probably conceived there,” Pieter Langley said to his daughter Asuka at the dinner table.
There was Mauna Loa; the Rangers would soon be going to Hawaii for maneuvers. After the new Ranger pilot was chosen.
“You should have thought twice,” Edgar said, then shoved mashed potatoes in his mouth.
“What does ‘conceived’ mean?” Karin asked curiously. Her roast beef was being shaped into the outer cone of a mashed potatoes volcano as Barbara tried to get her to just *eat* it.
“It means we made Asuka there,” Pieter said quickly. “And then she grew inside her mother’s womb and nine months later, she was born.”
“It means they had seeeeeexxxxxxx on the side of the volcano,” Edgar announced.
His parents froze and stared at him; he was only eleven and they’d hoped he wouldn’t force them to talk about such things to him yet.
“Edgar, don’t be crude,” Asuka snapped at him, though now she couldn’t help imagining it and didn’t *want* to.
“Had what?” Karin asked, pouring gravy into her ‘volcano’.
“See, you get naked and…” Edgar began and his mother now put a hand over his mouth; they stumbled away from the table, wrestling around.
“We have pictures… not of the conception,” Pieter said quickly.
Asuka didn’t know if she wanted to look at her mother or not. “Okay,” she said softly.
“Mooooom,” Edgar wailed.
“Pieter, please go tell your son about manners,” Barbara said sharply enough to surprise Asuka.
“Yes, dear,” he said, taking Edgar and dragging him off.
“I don’t understand,” Karin said. She was only nine and still pretty innocent if you didn’t count playground violence.
In which case, she was more like Genghis Khan, to the aggravation of her parents.
Barbara now hugged her. “Don’t worry about it, dear.”
“Now, time for the volcano to erupt,” Karin said.
“No, not at…”
Barbara ended up covered in gravy and mashed potatoes and Karin soon ended up in her room while Barbara went to clean herself, leaving Asuka alone at the dinner table.
Which was okay by her.
To her surprise, Barbara returned in a flowery blouse which Asuka had never seen. Barbara was not prone to frequent clothing purchases, so this surprised Asuka. “New blouse?”
“I…. I guess you’ve forgotten this one. It hasn’t fit me for years, but now it does,” Barbara said proudly. “I’ve dropped forty pounds.”
“In four months?” Asuka said; looking closer, she could see it, but it had crept up gradually. “Is that even healthy?”
Barbara looked around, then leaned closer. “I know,” she said softly. “But Dr. Johannsen says I am perfectly healthy. I guess the exercise helps a lot.”
“Does father know?” Asuka asked, frowning more.
“He isn’t blind,” Barbara said, winking and Asuka now wanted to never imagine anything ever again.
“If you somehow wither away, Father will be really hurt,” Asuka said, surprising herself.
“I cut back my diet but not the exercise,” Barbara said. “I don’t want to get skinnier than this.”
Asuka tried to use her ring to feel out Barbara’s health, singing a song Radagast had taught her. Barbara shifted in her seat as she reached for her fork. “I feel tingly,” she said, then looked at Asuka.
“You seem to be in perfectly good health,” Asuka said. “But maybe I’d better ask Ritsuko to scan you.”
“I’m sure we don’t need to go that far,” Barbara said, then began cutting her roast beef.
“Mother lost a lot of weight before she died,” Asuka said softly and Barbara froze and looked at Asuka, trembling a little. “I’ll schedule it during your next shift.”
Barbara sighed. “Okay.”
Not that Asuka cared if she lived or died, but Asuka didn’t want to have to deal with her father freaking out and crying children *all the time*.
Neon Genesis Silmarillion (an EVA/Tolkien Legendarium fusion)
Book 3: Seven Thunders
Chapter 6: Land Born of Fire
“Your health is flawless; no signs of anything beyond normal aging,” Dr. Akagi said to Barbara, who felt quite ludicrous in a plugsuit. But you had to wear one for the scan, even though it made her feel like she was in a porno. Despite how it actually covered almost all of your skin. “You have a slightly stronger soul than a normal adult of your age.” Then Dr. Akagi looked at the scan with some concern and Barbara heard the sound of a shoe dropping.
“I’m a nurse. If there is a problem, tell me.” Barbara tried to keep calm and not panic.
Dr. Akagi made a gesture and then called up another scan and ran some sort of comparison. “How very strange.”
“Strange how?” Barbara asked, frowning.
The words which followed might as well have been ‘etoainshrdlu’ to Barbara.
“I’m sorry. There’s interesting similarities to your husband and Asuka,” Dr. Akagi said. “Probably purely coincidental and not unhealthy. I do not see any danger of a health decline, but I am concerned over how you could lose that much weight so fast, yet remain in good health. I’d like a complete list of your diet plan for study.”
“Mostly, I just ate less food and exercised more,” Barbara said hesitantly. “No tricks beyond trying to make myself not eatall the time and eat healthy when I did, along with jogging and some aerobic exercise.”
“Better to be sure. Just get it to me when you can,” Dr. Akagi told her.
Barbara suspected Dr. Akagi was worried about something terrible and not telling her. But she tried to relax. They both said she was okay but now they made her worry she wasn’t. She had a headache the rest of the day that didn’t clear up until she slept.
“Sandi, you can’t exorcise your computer by shouting ‘Jesus’ at it,” Nancy said to Sandi, who was seated in front of her computer, looking frustrated at work.
“Well, I can’t get anything done while it’s busted,” Sandi said, frustrated.
“You can help me transfer these files pointlessly to the records people,” Nancy said, pointing to two wheeled carts full of binders.
“This is a huge waste of time!” Sandi said but she helped Nancy trundle the carts down the hall to the elevator.
“You can tell two old men run this organization,” Nancy said to Sandi. “They were born before computers and just don’t *get it*.”
“I know, some things here are super modern and some are weirdly antiquated. Why bother making hard copies of all this information?” Sandi paused. “I mean, yes, you want to back up data, but who is going to care in 2027 if the amount of gasoline the motor pool uses gets lost?” Then she looked guilty. “But I guess I shouldn’t complain about Commander Fuyutsuki. He made me some special gear for my dance lessons.”
Nancy looked at Sandi curiously. “Go on?”
“I… actually, it’s kind of classified. I think I could tell your boyfriend but not you, sorry,” Sandi said apologetically.
“Dammit, Sandi, don’t tease me like that!” Nancy said, then sighed. “You free Friday? You should grab one of your boyfriends and join us; we’re going clubbing.”
“Is Terrel’s girlfriend as hot as I hear?” Sandi said.
“She’s not his girlfriend yet,” Nancy said. “In part because Terrel is being a wuss about love AGAIN.” She sighed. “Anyway, grab a boytoy and join us.”
“Sure,” Sandi said. “Come on, stupid elevator!”
It opened and Commander Ikari and Commander Fuyutsuki stepped out. They both saluted and Commander Ikari said, “You are correct, her boyfriend is high enough clearance but she is not.”
They both froze up in a panic.
“And we back up various files because in 2004, NERV lost a huge amount of records to a combination of viruses and hackers,” Commander Ikari continued. “And neither of you is ranked highly enough to know more than that.”
“Yes, sir,” Sandi said, saluting weakly.
“And you should go to X-L-R-8 and see Five Corner Square play; one of the Program members, ReiAkagi, will be playing with them,” Commander Ikari said.
“That’s a kiddy club,” Nancy protested.
After a few seconds in his gaze, she wilted. “Yes, sir,” she said, saluting.
Sandi suddenly wondered, if like Beetlejuice, Commander Ikari heard everything said about him.
“Yes,” Commander Ikari said to her calmly.
He has to be joking but how could he… Sandi decided to think about sandwiches until she was *far* clear of Commander Ikari.
“I would be glad to show you,” Rei said to Touji. “Everyone should have better defenses.”
They were at school; he’d stopped her before lunch, in the hallway.
“I can maybe show you some unarmed combat stuff,” he said hesitantly. He could definitely use some mental combat training and he preferred even trades to asking favors.
“Yes, I should strengthen my grappling, especially since my Ranger is so much stronger than my own body,” Rei told him. “And I want to get to know my fellow warriors better.”
“Cool,” Touji said. “Tonight, maybe. I’m free.”
They began making plans as they headed to lunch.
“There’s not some kind of… soul plague… going around, right?” Pieter Langley asked nervously. He looked god awful in the plugsuit and resolved to finally go on a diet and get more exercise himself.
“We know of no such thing,” Dr. Akagi said as she ran a soul scan on him.
“It doesn’t indicate I am going to die, right?” he said nervously.
“Hmm, interesting,” Dr. Akagi said while he stood around, wishing desperately for more clothing and suddenly wondering why Asuka hadn’t forced them to make the plugsuits more dignified by now.
“Which means?” he asked.
“We actually have an old scan of you in the records from long ago,” Dr. Akagi said. “Mother took it.”
“Yes. These things were less embarrassing then,” he said, wondering if he or they had changed.
“They were cruder,” Dr. Akagi said. “Still, your soul is actually a little stronger now than it was then.”
“Well, I was still very shaken up from Kyoko’s death,” Pieter said to her. He looked at the soul scan but it was all glittery motes of silver and gold in a human outline to him.
“I expect that Asuka’s presence has strengthened you both a little,” Dr. Akagi said thoughtfully. “Her soul blazes with exceptional strength; it’s also unusually similar to her mother’s, though from what little I know, they had a rather different temperament.”
“She was a lot more like Asuka before she gave birth, and then she just never recovered,” Pieter said, feeling the old ache. “Show me something like Asuka in my soul.” He wanted to feel closer to his daughter.
Dr. Akagi highlighted various motes; it was all alien to him but then showed him the data in the other scan, the one of Asuka. It was all glittery light and it wasn’t even in the same parts of the body. “How can you tell?”
Word salad rained down on him; he didn’t even know what language she was using some of the time.
“I see,” he said.
“The interesting thing is that your wife has some of this similarity as well,” Dr. Akagi said, pointing to more shiny bits on a third chart; the monitor was now crowded. “Probably her rubbing off on both of you, spiritually.” She sounded intrigued by this.
Pieter suddenly wondered if Asuka was actually making Edgar more prone to chew on her by making him more cranky and he laughed.
“What?” Dr. Akagi asked curioiusly.
“Nothing,” he said. “So do we need to do anything?”
“Come in for a monthly scan. I will start some long-term studies,” she told him.
He hoped this was just caution and not her hiding something because she wasn’t ‘sure’, like one of his doctors had done once.
Better safe than sorry, though, he thought.
“How could she impersonate me without even having met me?” Beleg asked Finduilas, who had ridden to his dwelling in King Thingol’s territories on her way to Valmar to see the Valar.
“She had probably observed dreams of you and may have access to the Narn I Hurin or some other story about Turin,” Finduilas said, frowning as she sat in a chair across a table, facing him. She sipped the blue wine he’d set out and frowned. “I can’t even understand what she thought she was doing.”
“Possibly practicing for a real infiltration,” he said. “Given that our kind does not dream normally, there is no way she could have anticipated encountering a real Elf in the world of Dreams, I would think.” He sighed, glass in hand. “But I know little of such things.”
“It would not be impossible to enter a reverie but the victim would know something wrong when things clashed with their memories,” Finduilas said, frowning further and having a little more wine. “She was good and she had a Ring and so did her mother. Who must have trained her, but we don’t know who she is. I hope the Valar will know.”
“Are you sure she was actually young and not just short?” Beleg said. “From what I saw during the Great Dying, humans have shrunk a lot.”
“You could see it in her face,” Finduilas said. “And I felt the panic of a child.”
“I will speak to Melian,” Beleg said, now sipping his wine. “If you have time…”
“No, I must go quickly,” Finduilas told him.
“Mother would probably notice,” he said wryly.
She buried her face in her hands. “Yes.”
“We will see him soon. I have seen it,” Beleg said softly.
“If the prophecies are true, he must return, but many things are happening unanticipated by us,” Finduilas said, rising and bowing to Beleg. “Thank you for your hospitality, my old friend.”
“Thank you for telling me; I will send news if I find any,” he told her and now showed her out; she soon was back on her horse on her way to Valmar and he gathered supplies to visit his King and Queen.
“WaaRK,” Pen-Pen said to Asuka as she worked in her lab. She was studying penguin data, as she had no homework to grade today and she didn’t want to let this project drag on forever, though it seemed it might, the more she learned from Radagast. Because that taught her that what she’d done with Pen-Pen probably *was* some kind of miracle, though breeding smarter penguins was showing progress… and would take years.
Even with her rigging the odds.
“I am not worried about Barbara,” Asuka said firmly. “I am just making sure Father doesn’t marry someone even *worse*.”
Pen-Pen chirped in the way she knew meant he was laughing at her and she sighed.
“I’m here,” Shinobu said cheerfully, dressed in a giant penguin costume.
Asuka stared at it in disbelief.
“I’m ready for more training!” Shinobu said cheerfully.
She was teaching dances to the chicks; Asuka had noticed the chicks treated Shinobu like their mother, and she had done well at teaching them to dance.
Asuka had not figured out what the use of dancing penguins was, beyond fun, but Pen-Pen enjoyed working with her and she thought it possible you could maybe even train them to do things with their dancing, like help crops to grow.
So despite the silliness of it all, she rose and took off her lab coat and went to dance with Shinobu and Pen-Pen and the young penguins. This is science, she reminded herself, silly as it may seem.
“It looks like a Pharoah,” Touji said, studying the picture of Unit-04. The helmet was Pharoah style, anyway.
“It’s being made in Egypt, at NERV-Cairo,” Commander Ikari said to the assembled Special Talent Program members. “And you should have seen the original design. Someone watched too many cartoons.” He sighed. “Anyway, no one will be commanding this with a wristwatch.”
“Damn,” Kensuke said loudly, then laughed when everyone looked. “Just joking.”
“It’ll be you,” Touji said softly to Olga.
“I hope so,” she whispered.
“You should come train with Rei and I; you’re gonna be up to your neck in mystic shit pretty soon if you do make it,” he told her and she laughed softly.
You know, she’s pretty cool; I wish I’d noticed sooner, Touji thought as he settled back in his chair.
Commander Ikari talked about the plan for the trip, which would be this weekend; it was a short jaunt, thankfully. “Then we’ll be going to Hawaii as some of you know and as no one else needs to know,” he said, looking straight at Kensuke.
“I can keep my mouth shut, dammit!” Kensuke said, frowning.
“I hope so,” Commander Ikari said, then continued the briefing.
Conrad sat in Commander Fuyutsuki’s office, concentrating and shuffling cards. He was getting good at predicting random things… maybe too good. He wanted to be able to play cards with friends without cheating. But other events, he was very hit and miss.