A commission for LavanyaSix. Flooded earth basemap from Sregan (www.deviantart.com/sregan)
Aeons ago, the First Ancestral Race, although god-like in their abilities, faced an inescapable doom. Desiring that something of them would still live on, they sent the Seeds of Life, enclosed in colossal vessels tens of miles across, into space, to land on distant worlds and there bring about a new creation. Some worlds would evolve life the long, slow, way, creating races of individuals that would use science to choose their ultimate destiny: others would be populated by beings in some ways like the First Race themselves, immortal and powerful and self-sufficient in themselves, who simply know rather than “making decisions” and “thinking.” Unfortunately, on one world they screwed up, and two Seeds of each different kind arrived within a short time of the other. The entity that would one day be known as LILITH won out, and from her blood all life on Earth would arise: but ADAM did not perish, and slept away the ages in a region of the Earth’s crust that would one day be part of what we call Antarctica.
September 13, 2000 – the day the world nearly ended. It was later reported to have been caused by a meteor, too small to be easily detected (in fact only one astronomer, after the fact, reported observing it), with however a relative speed absurdly close to the speed of light. The resulting cataclysmic impact almost entirely destroyed the Antarctic ice cap, either vaporizing it, pulverizing it into fine particles, or melting it, causing an immediate, alarming fast swelling of the seas that swallowed cities and coastlines – those that had survived (usually due to some less fortunate nation being in between) the colossal tidal waves which had arrived within a few hours of Impact. Those parts of the ice cap not liquefied but sent into the atmosphere soon retuned as torrential rain or impossibly heavy snow, adding to the damage by causing massive flooding deep inland.
As yet unripe crops were washed away, drowned, overgrown with moisture-loving molds and fungi. Much of the harvest was in by this time in the northern hemisphere, but in much of the south, already hit hardest by the tidal waves, losses were in places almost total. And unlike previous catastrophes, there was no untouched part of the globe to take up the slack. If somewhat less desperate for food, northern states were struggling to maintain anything resembling order as tens, then hundreds of millions had to be evacuated as the seas rose and continued to rise, in flat low lying areas often faster than people could walk away. Eventually, roughly half the world’s population would die, not just of drowning or famine or violence, but from disease that spread like wildfire in the catastrophic conditions.
The southern hemisphere was hit particularly hard, with the majority of Australia’s urban, coast-dwelling majority swept away by the first waves, South Africa surviving mainly on the high plateau above the Grand Escarpment, and South American coastlines were scraped clean from Patagonia to Peru. (Even being land-locked really wasn’t enough, as Paraguay found out). West Africa, head on to the waves, was also hit hard, as was peninsular and island SE Asia.
The Indian subcontinent, hit head on by tidal waves, followed by famine and mass population movements, sank into chaos: even as central government crumbled, a savage, pointless war was fought as tens of millions of Pakistani and Indian refugees collided, blindly seeking shelter which existed nowhere in the area, culminating in a nuclear exchange which finished the job of collapsing both states.
The Chinese state, protected by the states to its south from the worst of the waves but quickly sinking, mobilized every soldier and reserve, established a firm grip on every remaining agricultural asset the country would keep after the seas stopped rising, and put a hundred million to forced labor to build dams and greenhouses and other necessities. The “triage” of those who the state could not save and indeed in some cases ruthlessly cut off remains a subject that cannot be discussed or even acknowledged to have happened in China. Japan, although the Emergency Government was nowhere near as brutal, had its own traditions of obedience and conformity to draw on in an unspeakable catastrophe, and rather than mass famine most people just went rather hungry for a long time. German organization and discipline did well in the face of a huge part of their country going under and the resettlement of tens of millions of north German, Dutch, Danes, etc.
Other northern counties didn’t do quite so well: the English soon were dismayed to learn how low-lying their island was (which gave the Scottish nationalists a touch of pleasure, soon turning to public dismay as English refugees poured into the High(er)lands). France has never really gotten over the loss of Paris (quick damming efforts proved ultimately futile: the City of Light is now several scattered islands in the Seine Manche. Russia descended into near chaos and eventually dictatorship (no doubt a working democracy by 2015 without the Impact, people in this world opine). And the US, whose inhabitants from the start seemed unable to accept that such a catastrophe could possibly happen to them, spent far too much time arguing about What Was to Be Done while the waters rose and far too much time afterwards arguing Whose Fault the Mess Is.
For a while it looked like fighting over resources and what was to be done with hundreds of millions of refugees and the common “I’ve got mine, Jack” attitude among the more functional states doomed civilization to collapse over much of the globe, with violent border clashes and invasions breaking out left and right, in some cases as efforts to redirect public attention from disastrous conditions at home. After the India-Pakistan nuclear exchange, a Chinese-Russian refugee crisis leading to nuclear arms-waggling, and the dropping of a bomb on Tokyo that killed some 500,000  people, cooler heads prevailed, and a coalition of surviving powers working through the United Nations established by a mix of force and persuasion the Valentine’s Day Ceasefire of 2001, and pledged to work together to heal the injured planet.
By 2015, one might with some confidence state that the pledge has been fulfilled: although many parts of the globe are still a mess and run by warlords of various sorts, by and large there is again a functional global economy, and technological progress is moving speedily ahead. In what might seem an internationalist dream come true, the militaries of all major powers save China are subordinated to the United Nations, with sizable forces permanently assigned to UN command (such as the United Nations Pacific Fleet) and other forces essentially operating until UN aegis and essentially “on call” to the UN when needed. The UN is also clearing house and administrator for a wide variety of international programs, medical, economic, scientific, and environmental.
(What was initially simply called The Impact has become more widely known by 2015 as Second Impact, with First Impact being the collision that broke off the Moon from the Earth. Why this usage has become popular is something social scientists wonder about, since the events, aside from both being major thumps to the Earth, have little in common. Social scientists looking to see their funding and job opportunities dry up might investigate further and note the wide use of the phrase “second impact” among sections of the global elite before the whole “first impact was the Moon” explanation became well known.)
Europe is more united than OTL (hang together or hang separately) and with Britain and France both in shaky shape more dominated by Germany: although it had its own deaths from illness and people not getting far enough inland fast enough, by taking in survivors from Denmark, the Netherlands, and Flemish-speaking Belgium, it has increased its share of the overall European population: with the recent absorption of Austria, “fourth Reich” grumbling has become common in other European countries. The Germans, who feel their contributions were vital to Saving Europe, are a touch resentful. Mediterranean Europe has an Egyptian refugee issue, but so does all the Med: the sea backing hundreds of miles up the Nile did a number on Egyptian agriculture.
Israel, with low-lying Tel Aviv flooded, has recentered itself in a Greater Jerusalem (shame about all those Palestinians that had to be displaced) and gone rather apocalyptical: they’re very open about their nukes and N2 devices nowadays. The ever-paranoid Israeli secret services have been on SEELE’s trail for some time, and they’re not happy with what they’ve found out so far.
The US, which lost most of the west coast right off to tidal waves and the east coast and the Caribbean not long after to rapidly rising waves, has not adjusted very well, and many of its inland cities are surrounded by seething shanty-towns inhabited by as yet un-rehoused refugees. Unemployment is running at 12-15%, and major reforms of the economy are being held up by political gridlock. There is a great deal of public anger at dominance by “international” forces and the loss of US leadership that neither major party seems willing to immediately address: several rather demented new parties have sprung up in response to demand, only foiled by the nature of the US two-party system from achieving much. The fact that no US citizens are currently involved in fighting the “aliens” in Japan is a serious sore spot.
Japan is doing well, surprisingly so. It has been able to afford to build a new political capital in Matsumoto city (informally “Tokyo 2”), plus the new “fortress city” of Tokyo-3 (initially promoted as a fancier permanent capital to replace Tokyo-2, but its true purpose was to serve as an anti-Angel bastion around and over NERV’s core facilities). A mostly mountainous country, it hasn’t lost much land, and there has been a frenzy of new building. A lot of the international money flow passes through Japan, (a suspiciously large amount of money, if anyone was actually reporting the numbers accurately) and the UN headquarters have been moved there. (Something which annoys Americans – ironically, since they are frequently hostile to the UN).
In spite of broad improvements, all is not well. The planetary environment has been permanently changed, with the much higher sea level and the massive introduction of humidity into the atmosphere greatly warming the globe. The north Polar ice cap is gone, and remaining glaciers, notably those of Greenland, are melting at an alarming rate. Japan is warm year-round save for Hokkaido, and the US Mississippi river basin is Louisiana-like all the way to St. Louis. The loss of Tibetan snowpack has become so critical that the Chinese have blasted out a number of huge new reservoirs with N-2  bombs to keep China’s rivers fed. (Pity about those Tibetans that had to be moved, but a drop in the bucket compared to all the people-moving China has had to do already).
People are still emotionally scarred from the events of Second Impact. Generally speaking, those not living well inland and at a decent elevation when it occurred have been through emotionally wrenching refugee experiences at a minimum, and those blessed with altitude rarely escaped close encounters with illness, famine, war, social breakdown and lawlessness, and a plunge in living standards. A decade or more of worst-than-great-depression economic conditions even in the best-off countries left what we call “millennials” stingy, paranoid penny-pinchers. And in really hard-hit areas, such as most of the southern hemisphere, most survivors suffer to some greater or lesser extent from PTSD. So, so many dream of drowning. In those countries where people can afford their fees, psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors have all the work they can handle and more: the drug industries (legal and illegal) are also doing quite well.
Something weird has happened to the seas around Antarctica, which have gone red and toxic to sea life. The contamination has been slow to spread beyond the gyre of the circumpolar current, but by 2015 fish die-offs are taking place several hundred miles north of the former edges of the “dead zone.”
Environmental damage of course extends far beyond Antarctica, with shore and lowland-dwelling life having undergone horrendous extinction events. Penguins are largely gone outside of zoos, those living outside Antarctica having mostly been wiped from existence by tidal waves. (Zoos are arks of survivors to an extent far beyond OTL, and if you aren’t at least trying to breed species X, Y, and Z you are automatically considered a pretty shitty zoo.) The flooded lands, contaminated by gigatons of chemical and industrial waste from flooded cities and factories and power plants, tend towards toxic levels of bacterial life and monstrous algal blooms, and little in the way of healthy sea life. Fragile dryland environments were destroyed during the massive post-Impact precipitation, and Death Valley is a supersaline lake that is expected to take another decade to finish drying up.
(People continue to burn coal and use gasoline, because worse than the worst global warming threats have already happened, so what the hell. Ecologists tend to be a depressive bunch even by this world’s low standards.)
But by far the worst is the Birth Dearth.
Starting almost immediately after the Impact, failed pregnancies began to steadily increase – often without being noted as such, since the embryos tend to die at a very early age, while little more than a blob of cells. What was noticeable was that the birth rate was steadily decreasing, and in a manner that did not resemble any normal disease or environmental effect: the change was global and seemed to randomly effect individual pregnancies, rather than individual parents, although it took a while for the statistical pattern to become clear. What was clear in retrospect was that governments had become aware of the problem well before the public began to notice, and had carried out a quite energetic effort of suppressing the facts and the severity of the situation: something perhaps only possible in a world with a greatly retarded development of anything resembling the internet and no “social media.” Over the last few years, as birth rates dropped ever closer to zero, things have gotten increasingly out of hand, and only a vigorous program of disinformation suggesting to people that a solution is close at hand and tied in to the whole “alien invasion” narrative (see below) has prevented the general population from going entirely batshit. (In countries closer to the edge, theocratic, end-of-the-world-is-here regimes have been sprouting up like mushrooms).
Not that theocratic crazyness hasn’t been there all along – that the world was ending seemed initially a rather compelling theory after Impact, and the restoration of order was seen by many as merely a temporary stay of execution. The UN world system is of course (to Christian fundamentalists) the evil Rome of the end-days, the red poison sea around Antarctica is clearly the result of those Vials of Wrath, and Gendo Ikari is only one of dozens of people that have been identified as the Antichrist at one time or another. The US nearly elected a Christian fundamentalist in 2004, and a lot of people are still convinced his huge stash of snuff porn and torture basement were all a massive fraud perpetrated to ruin his electoral chances (they’re right about the torture basement and most of the porn).
The world is, in fact, under the control (more or less) of a Conspiracy, if not one of the many the public has actually heard of. SEELE has been around since biblical times, but like Lovecraft’s Cthulhu cult, those”touched by the Gods” have been around since humanity proper began: dreaming eternally beneath the Earth under Japan and Antarctica, the great souls of the Seeds of Life have at time brushed those of the higher primates, and after writing was invented, some began writing down what they had dreamed. In turn, a day would come when writings were compiled, compared, and seen as true prophecy, and a movement which would never die was born.
(Not that ADAM and LILITH, as humans would come to call them, intended there to be a cult. It was just that human egos and the boundaries of their souls were weak).
The ancient world was an unstable place. There were wars, invasions, persecutions, and violent splits in the cult, the Primordial Ones not dreaming and providing answers on cue. Some of what was known was lost and not recovered until the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls (the real ones, not the plausible fakes the general public knows of) in the 1940s. One branch would eventually give rise to Jewish Kabbalah, softening dread reality with a coating of vague mysticism, while the other branch remained convinced of the actual possibility of “gathering the light in the darkness” and bringing mankind back into direct communion with God: to make of the body of humanity a new divine entity. Rosicrucians, Masons, Theosophists, Sufi mystics and whirling dervishes: SEELE has been part of and puppet master of all of them, and by the 18th century had agents in every government west of China. Long before the first _official_ voyages to Antarctica, secret pilgrimages brought people of often surprising historical importance to where decades of digging at a cost of thousands of lives had exposed as yet only the tiniest fragment of something unimaginable.
1914 was a mistake, a bad one: SEELE expected the war to end quickly, and had seen it as necessarily to resolve some international tensions that were growing beyond the ability of their government agents to control. It wouldn’t be until the 1950s that SEELE could be confident again in its ability to manipulate the non-Communist world effectively, in part due to the discovery of the Scrolls, which for the first time gave SEELE not merely a goal, but an actual plan of action. And promises of miracles.
It is hard to say when SEELE moved from faith to science as a means of pursuing its goal. “Storming heaven”, fundamentally transforming mankind through alchemy and magic, had long been a part of SEELE’s mainline movement: 18th century rationalism, which sneered at such things as stones falling from heaven, was certainly anathema to SEELE’s grander ambitions, but Newton impressed SEELE scholars as well as more mainstream ones, and impressed them with the idea that this “science” thing could lead to useful truths: after all, Newton’s gravitation theory cleared up some of the ancient knowledge that SEELE themselves hadn’t understood. In any case, by the 20th century it has become a matter of certainty that science would be needed to build the bridge between humanity and the divine, and SEELE began recruiting energetically from the scientific community.
After Second Impact, SEELE was able to greatly expand its global influence thanks to its control of the vastly expanded and empowered United Nations (no, the UN didn’t control world government before the Impact: yes, SEELE secretly infiltrated and controlled it because, if you’re a global secret conspiracy, you make sure you have a thumb in every international organization regardless).
SEELE’s control level, is, however, variable. It’s weakest in China, where infiltration during Imperial days never got very far, and advances in the 19th century and Republican era were reversed during the paranoid Maoist era. Post-Mao influence has remained limited, and China is considered an untrustworthy partner in the anti-Angel effort: they have been left into the Conspiracy to the extent that they have some idea of the stakes, and a major NERV manufacturing facility exists in Beijing, but they are kept to some extent at arm’s length. The Chinese are aware they are getting the run-around to a considerable extent, and have some projects of their own which SEELE is quite unaware of. Russia, too, isn’t quite a full partner: the Stalinist era was no friendlier to foreign conspiracies than the Maoist one, and although SEELE regained some ground in the dying days of the USSR and with the easily corruptible oligarchs and crime bosses of the 90s, it is notable that none of SEELE’s inner cabal is of Russian origin.
Although long infiltrated at many levels by SEELE, the US is getting a bit hard to ride herd on, as radical politicians unhappy with the current situation and deeply skeptical of NERV and its role arise. There might be need to discredit or even arrange “accidents” for some of the political crop of 2016: except that if SEELE’s plans go through, there never will be a 2016 US election.
SEELE’s current top leadership forms a cabal within a cabal within a cabal: like many secret societies, there are different narratives depending on your position in the hierarchy. Top government officials firmly under SEELE’s thumb fully know the stakes and the nature of NERV’s technology, but are unaware that SEELE has its own apocalypse plan. The next-to-the-top leadership knows that once the threat of human extinction at the (metaphorical in most cases) hands of the Children of ADAM has passed, mankind would be merged into a perfect and eternal being, bringing an end to all fear, suffering, and loneliness. The tippy tippy top planned to merge all of humanity into a perfect and eternal being – of which they would be the driving and controlling intelligence. Imagine the Leviathan, as portrayed on the cover of Hobbes’s book, a giant made of innumerable men, whose head is that of the king. Now replace the head of the king with the heads of a relative handful of terrible old men.
Technology is rather different than in our 2015, technology both more advanced and more backwards existing in a somewhat schizotech setting. Technology was already ahead in several fields from OTL by the time of Second Impact: notable was the N2 bomb, a product of quantum-mechanical research, which created a burst of electromagnetic energy comparable in its destructive power to a nuclear weapon, but with little or no residual radiation. (One was used on Tokyo shortly after Second Impact). By 2015, most conventional nuclear weapons have been decommissioned, and replaced in national arsenals (where replaced at all: arsenals are greatly reduced from 2000) with N2 bombs.
And then there was the whole field of Metaphysical Biology. By the 1990s the existence of the soul or something that could be called a soul, controlling the thought pattern, personality, and the sense of the self in a being, had been widely confirmed. It appears to exist in all living things from bacteria to people, and also seems to be necessary for any multi-cellular life more complex than the more primitive sort of sponges to grow their bodies. Human souls do appear to have an extra level of complexity. As yet, research does not clearly indicate how souls originate or where they come from if they do not originate as a product of biological activity, or where they go after death. Careful measurements of souls as they depart the body and quickly become undetectable indicate a loss of energy which does not enter into the local environment: so unless the law of conservation of energy is being violated, the soul must be going somewhere else – but where? By 1999 most top-level Universities have established a College of Metaphysical Biology, as Kyoto university calls it.
Experiments on animal life in which the soul is violently and suddenly detached from the body (requiring some pretty unholy soul-tech and hardly ever happening in normal life: the soul usually remains loosely connected to the body until advanced decay sets in, at which point normal “physics” take over) has shown the body under those circumstances can undergo as sudden “phase change” to a reddish goo with no structure above single cells.
All this is, of course, simply taken by major religions as confirmation of what they already knew all along, although there has also been the development of Neo-Vitalism and the Rationalist Metaphysics movement, which calls for greater study of the soul as a purely natural phenomenon, and sees new avenues in human development and terrestrial immortality in such research. (Or course, those organizations such as SEELE which know the real skinny have their own – and very different – ideas along these lines).
Some of the more disturbing elements of the research – such as that souls can be split and re-merged, or that pieces can be transferred from one body to another, albeit at the cost of insanity – are kept from the general public, as are speculations that a soul could be destroyed entirely by a sufficiently massive electromagnetic discharge – say, being at the center of a sufficiently large electromagnetic detonation, such as a large enough N2 or old-style atomic bomb (currently un-provable, since how could one track a soul through that?) It is also possible to transfer some part of the consciousness to a cloned brain (if you can get a clone: see below) or even a computer, although as yet the “Nerd Rapture” (full mind transfer) is impossible.
(Of course, SEELE promises its outer circle followers and government dupes that yes, immortality for you and you and even you there in the back will be coming soon!)
Most disturbing of all, the fact that the supply of new human souls has dried up – the real source of the Birth Dearth – is kept _very_ secret, especially since it is widely suspected that the reason this has happened is humanity mucking around with the Seeds, ADAM and LILITH. (LILITH is the source of souls for terrestrial beings as ADAM is the source of the souls of Angels, and it seems unlikely that LILITH just ran out of souls at this point in its billions-of-years existence. After all, it continues to provide souls for all non-human beings, from the rare penguins to those pesky cicadas which now breed all year in Japan to the yeasts which make beer).
SEELE and NERV of course assure the in-the-know governments that this is an eminently solvable problem once they have dealt with the pesky offspring of ADAM.
The same soul-force that holds together a living body can actually be externalized as a defensive or even offensive field of force, but this requires enormous energy, which a human body is incapable of generating: a soul housed in an Eva, hooked up to the combined output of multiple nuclear power plants, can, forming the basis of what is called an “AT-field”. The actual nature of this field, again, is generally kept from the general public. Both Americans and Europeans have secret projects outside of the NERV framework to find technological, non-soul based ways of punching through an AT field: after all, the defeat of the Angel Ramiel with the aid of a particle beam weapon (albeit one powered by most of the electrical output of Japan), indicates that sufficient Dakka, properly applied, can do the job. SEELE allows this research, feeling it unlikely that these projects will make any fundamental breakthroughs before humanity’s warrantee will run out – and if they do, they’re confident enough in their ability to manipulate the governments involved to make sure any new anti-Angel weapons are used in the pursuit of their goals.
Corporations and government research centers had developed biotech and cybernetics capable of life extension beyond anything OTL. These were secretly used by the richest and most powerful people on the planet (including SEELE leadership) and kept secret and away from the general public because 1. Only the hyper-rich could afford them anyway, 2. General public resentment at the rich for staying alive and mental cognizant a good deal longer than said public and 3. Some extremely skeezy elements in the necessary procedures (keeping brain cells active and the brain non-senile? You don’t want to know how).
Cloning is possible, if currently not too practical due to the soul shortage: Normally it takes a great many tries for a clone to “take” and not disintegrate into cell goo. NERV’s advanced metaphysical biology allows them to mass-produce clones, but only under some very special circumstances, raised in tanks of the blood of LILITH.
After Impact, such things as consumer electronics and entertainment understandably stagnated in the general collapse of living standards and the need to prioritize resources. Cassette players and CDs are still common, Sega Saturn game consoles from before Second Impact are still competitive with current games, and there is no such thing as “social media”, while the Internet has not grown very much beyond the early 2000s level of development. Other lines of technology have been impeded by different priorities: an emphasis in Angel-fighting tech has prevented the development of much in the way of drone technology, and the general public certainly doesn’t have them.
OTOH, high-performance computing, robotics, biotech, and of course all forms of Angel-related technology have surged forward in a swelling tide of dollars, yen, and Euros. The MAGI line of supercomputers, developed initially by Naoko Akagi, represent a highly advanced form of artificial intelligence, three machines implanted somehow with certain aspect of a human mind (Known as the Personality Imprint Operating System) and working together to achieve a consensus: as yet they have not been surpassed, and duplicate versions are now in operation in Germany, the US, China, and in the Japanese capital. Particle beam weapons more powerful than anything previously imagined have been built. There have been some advances in aerospace, with the development of truly monumental aircraft for transporting EVAs from place to place, and sub-orbital passenger planes for multi-thousand mile hops, if no real space capacity beyond putting up regular satellites. Personal phones are clunky, but the well off have holographic displays for communicating or “videoconferencing”, and electrical cars are common. And even though the EVAS aren’t actually giant robots, the general belief that they are in fact giant robots has led to advances in giant robot technology. (Japanese and American firms both have giant robots in the works. If they aren’t perfected in time to help out with the Angels, they’re still cheaper than EVAs, and the EVAs have made giant combat robots a proven concept.)
A lot of people were until recently very enthusiastic about the possibilities of the “S2 organ” or “Super Solenoid engine” located within the bodies of Angels. A source of what our universe would call Zero Point energy, a Super Solenoid (called as such because of its double spiral structure, not to any functional resemblance to the electrical component) is a limitless source of clean energy, and theoretically could solve all the world’s energy problems. Enthusiasm has dropped rather sharply after an accident in installing one salvaged from a dead angel led an 89 kilometer radius sphere of Nevada to drop out of the universe, and the US has made it clear it doesn’t want to have any more Angel chunks within its borders. But research continues, although less because there’s a need for energy than because if you wanna have an army of obedient brainless slave EVAs, they need a power source.
(Russians, being Russians, are researching on how to build an S2 bomb).
Second Impact happened when it did because an old man was becoming impatient.
Adam’s partial awakening was necessary so he could be reduced to a controllable (not to mention portable) state. And if a few billion people died in the process, well, eggs, omelets. It’s not like they could wait a few more decades to find a safer way to do it - Keel Lorenz had been leader of SEELE for thirty years when Second Impact took place and was by that point nearly a century old. Medicines and technologies more advanced than any available to the general public kept Lorenz functional, but he could feel death’s cold breath on the back of his neck. If he was to become part of the ruling consciousness of a God, and not some mere cell in a toenail or something (so to speak), he could not die before what SEELE had come to call the Human Instrumentality Project was completed. (Heck, SEELE’s leadership was largely a gerontocracy by this point, so it wasn’t hard to find support).
Another 15 years have gone by, and quite a bit of Keel Lorenz’s body has been replaced by cybernetics to keep him alive and functional. His subordinates within SEELE’s innermost leadership have been watching closely for signs of collapse, and perhaps his mind is no longer as sharp: Ikari Gendo has certainly been getting away with a lot lately, or at least thinks he is.
The Alien Invasion story was born of necessity: the EVA project took place on a scale that could not be concealed. Although national governments could be let in on the actual facts to a certain extent (not to that of really understanding what NERV was actually for), the general public could hardly be allowed to know that the Evangelions were being built to fight off a cosmic menace that the people ultimately behind NERV were responsible for in the first place, with the souls of every human being on the planet at stake. That they were meant to fight alien invaders was a cover story that was allowed to slowly leak out, in such a way that it appeared to be something the government was unsuccessfully trying to cover up. (The whole super-fast meteor explanation had been seen as fishy by astronomers and planetary scientists from the start, both because objects within the galaxy just don’t move with that relative speed, and if you looked at the number carefully, a meteoric impact that wiped out the entire Antarctic ice cap would have done rather _more_ damage than Second Impact had actually done. Suppressing the second while allowing discussion of the first allowed people to easily swallow the “alien relativistic weapon” rumor. And when the whole “Birth Dearth” thing became impossible to hide, the “alien biological weapons” rumor was easier to swallow and it was easier to believe a remedy could be found than “NO MORE SOULS FOR YOU!!” So when world governments were “forced” to reveal there was an ancient crashed alien ship buried below Tokyo-3 and world governments had been using tech derived from it in a secret project to fight off an attack by aliens – well, people had been primed to believe, and it wasn’t long before the first weird-looking alien monster to show up and be beaten by Giant Robots. Sure the Japanese used the strangest code names – “Angels?” – but everyone knows the Japanese are weird like that.
Twelve angels so far have been defeated, and the world waits for further events with bated breath. (Some more than others: top leadership has a better notion of what is at stake, and the general population knows that if the Angels break through it will be Bad, but unaware that it will be global genocide-bad).
Still, there is a sense of desperation in the air. Some 1.5X106 cubic kilometers of Nevada recently dropped out of our universe and into the Dirac sea, extending down almost to the planetary mantle and creating ongoing earthquakes and a steady release of volcanic gasses from the planetary interior. The American government is in disarray. The Israelis (which after seven decades of intensive digging have a few ancient writings in their possession that even SEELE doesn’t have) have been in secret communication with the Chinese, and are working together on some rather non-orthodox Metaphysical Biology projects of their own. The Russians, who have always had a certain degree of faith in More Dakka, have been speculating that if one relatively small N2 bomb can melt an Angel a little bit, how about a 20 megaton fusion bomb? How about several of them in succession? After all, one should have a fallback plan in case the Japanese screw up, no? And of course many religious types take this as another set of Signs and Portents, and pray, and go onto mountaintops, and kill themselves.
On the far shores of the Sea of Dirac, the endless, numberless dead, await, beyond all fear and hope.
And far across the wheel of the galaxy, the descendants of the other Seeds of Life, some now of the second or even third cycle of creation, battle the ancient, nameless enemy, the chemical machines, those who think with no awareness, who live with no self, the philosophical zombies, the soulless ones.
 Less than a sixth as many as would have been killed earlier: by this point flooding had led to the evacuation of most of Tokyo, although a surprising number of people were still hanging on in partly flooded tall buildings.
 See below