An Insider's Look

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Postby Asuka'sBigBrother » Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:21 pm

View Original PostGryphon117 wrote:Weird, I normally do that and the thoughts in this scene appear in italics for me. I've checked it again and cannot find the unmarked thoughts that you're talking about, so do you mind telling me which part you're mentioning just in case I'm being blind?


example:
No, that was impossible. Ridiculous. Getting rid of the best Pilot on their roster would be the fastest way for Humanity to kick the bucket! Her performance was fine. If she’d been given all the advantages Ikari and the Doll had, Asuka would have handled most of the Angels by herself, easy. She was sure of it!
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Postby VUX » Wed Feb 28, 2018 10:58 pm

What's the symbolism of the title?
"When life gives you problems..., get into the robot!"

"We VUX wanted peace with humans, until they day that insult was thrown"
"Where's you're ogrelord now laddeh?" Drek

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:15 am

Asuka'sBigBrother wrote:example:
No, that was impossible. Ridiculous. Getting rid of the best Pilot on their roster would be the fastest way for Humanity to kick the bucket! Her performance was fine. If she’d been given all the advantages Ikari and the Doll had, Asuka would have handled most of the Angels by herself, easy. She was sure of it!


But that's a narration bit, it shouldn't be in italics. I mean, sure, I'm talking about Asuka's thoughts in there, but I'm not directly showing them. It's not like this:

'No, that's impossible. Ridiculous. Geting rid of the best Pilot in the roster will be the fastest way for Humanity to kick the bucket! My performance is fine. If I had half the advantages that Ikari and that stupid Doll do, I would have handled most of the Angels by myself, easy! I'm sure of it!'

VUX wrote:What's the symbolism of the title?


That will become clear in a few scenes. And even more clear further down the line. :wink:
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Postby Gryphon117 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:08 am

Chapter 4-1  SPOILER: Show
"What?! Why can't I use the tram?!" Asuka loudly protested, pointing forward through the gate. "That guy ahead just got on board!"

The pair of Section-2 agents that had been standing by the sides of the gate recoiled slightly at the volume of her voice, but didn’t budge in the slightest. They'd obviously been waiting for her, since it was pretty uncommon to see the black-suited men hanging around inside of the Geofront, otherwise. Plus, Asuka was pretty sure that they were part of her security detachment, although it was hard to tell what with all of the gorillas in Section-2 looking like clones of each other.

"We have standing orders to keep you within the Geofront, Second Child," the agent on the right spoke in a baritone voice. "As such, you're currently not allowed to use any of the exits."

"Besides, where do you have to go right now?" the agent on the left added, sounding like the complete opposite of his partner. "You don't have school today, right?"

Only now, in her very first interaction with the men in black of NERV, did Asuka confirm that they were apparently capable of differing speech and independent thought. Pushing the proof of non mass production to the back of her mind, though, Asuka refocused on the important bits of the conversation.

"Where do I need to go?!” the redhead threw up her arms in frustration, not giving credit to her ears. “To Misato's apartment, obviously!"

But no answer came to Asuka’s statement of the obvious. On the contrary, both men fell eerily silent for a few, long seconds, and the Second Child was pretty sure that she caught the two blinking behind their glasses, before they eventually shared a look.

"...Wait, are you saying that no one's informed you?"

"Inform me?” the redhead quickly rounded on the left agent. “About what?!"

"Major Katsuragi was placed under arrest for insubordination during the last battle, so her guardianship over you and the Third Child has been revoked," the man explained, his more corpulent partner nodding in agreement. "You are going to be staying in one of the apartments within the Geofront from now on."

"W-What...? Insubordination...?" Asuka echoed, her mind quickly realising how Misato had never appeared in Shinji’s room. Very out of character for her. "What happened?!"

"I'm afraid that we're not privy to the details. We're not handed after action reports regarding the battles against the Angels," the second agent elaborated, the tone of his voice not shifting a bit from before. "I suspect that we were only informed of Major Katsuragi's situation because we've been tasked with moving your belongings to your new residence and..."

The big gorilla kept his baritone explanation going, talking about theories and justifications and such. But Asuka was only listening with half an ear, her mind busy elsewhere.

'Is it because of what happened to Shinji...? Did he go and play the hero under Misato's orders, and that’s why she got into trouble?' the Second Child wondered, quickly concluding her assumption as the most likely cause, indeed. '...So not only Shinji, your screw up has affected Misato, too.'

Asuka felt her heart sink, Akagi’s prior words coming back with a vengeance: how her contributions to the fight had been nil, how she failed miserably at piloting EVA...

But then the girl’s expression hardened, well honed reflexes detecting the rapidly burgeoning depressive wave and immediately diverting it down the usual pathway: blaming someone else.

'No, it’s not my fault! I could have handled that Angel on my own! That's what they get for not trusting me!'

The moment of weakness handled, she brushed aside the feelings that had almost forced their way past her mask and focused on the matter at hand. She was being moved out?

"Wait a minute...” Asuka suddenly realised, sending a scalding glare at Mr. Monotone. “Did you just say that you goons are going through my things?!"

"Goons?!" The big agent angrily retorted, shattering a second theory for the day. "We're professional security, you little-!"

"Hey, easy there,” Mr. Casual grabbed a hold of his partner’s shoulder, silencing him. “Ladies are zealous about their privacy, you know? It's because you're so high strung that you never get any dates."

“B-Bwha?!”

Leaving his larger comrade to explode in indignation, Mr. Casual then turned towards Asuka with what some would have called a winning smile. The Second Child would have classified it under the shit-eating variety, instead.

"Don't worry, some of our female fellows are handling the move. Besides, like my friend here said, we're a professional bunch. We wouldn't blabber about any secrets even if we found any."

The burly agent let out an audible sigh just as Mr. Casual finished his explanation, finally managing to fall back into his usual patterns. He then crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow at his partner.

"...How is that any different to what I was saying?"

"I don’t know. In that I was all smooth, and confident and all that stuff that chicks dig so much, maybe? I tell you man, you need to relax. You're always so serious, it's no wonder you can't get in the pants of that barkeep you like so much!"

“I- I don’t...”

“Yes, you do! Or are you going to tell me that all your awkwardness is just for show?”

The two grown men then fell into a series of silly arguments about who liked who, whether they had any chances and more stuff that, as far as the Second Child was concerned, was very stupid. Their discussion also brought annoying memories of Misato being her usual and irritating joker self, which the redhead didn’t need right now.

Besides, Asuka could feel the beginnings of a headache at the idiotic antics before her.

"Fine, whatever!” the Second Child furiously yelled at the bickering idiots. “Can you two just shut up and get me to that room you’re talking about, now?!"

Which earned her their undivided attention as well as a narrow-eyed glare from the tallest of the two, which Asuka didn’t care much about.

"...By all means, sorry about that.” Mr. Casual acknowledged, tipping his head forward in a placating gesture before turning to lead the way. “Follow me, Second Child."

Asuka did as she was told and followed the man, with Mr. Monotone falling into step a bit behind her. Mr. Casual then guided them through the maze of hallways that made up the Geofront until they reached the residential area, which was little more than additional doors on each wall with a different colour guiding arrow painted on the floor. It also had an access to the park section of the Geofront from time to time, but the greenery was doing very little to bolster Asuka’s spirits at the mundane sight.

Shortly after, the group arrived at room 550 and Mr. Monotone handed Asuka the keycard for the door. The Second Child quickly opened the door and stepped over the threshold, intending to get the whole thing over and done with as soon as possible...

...until she stopped dead in her tracks.

"...Huh,” Asuka mumbled to herself, taking in on her surroundings. “This place isn't half bad."

For one, it was spacious. Much more than the outside might have hinted at: the apartment had a big western-style bed inside a large bedroom, a wide living room with a generous TV and a respectable kitchen and bathroom to the side. The Second Child had been dreading a small study with a bunk or something along those lines, but her new quarters were a pleasant surprise. If Asuka had to guess, she'd put their size at just slightly bigger than Misato's condo.

Only this one she didn't have to share with her and the Third.

Although said idea didn’t fill Asuka with as much joy as she thought it would. Something that the redhead found puzzling, considering that she finally had the independence she’d been clamouring for when she had first arrived in Japan.

...

...It was probably due to how empty the room was at that point. Surely, her spirits would pick up when she had the chance to decorate the place however she wanted?

"We'll be outside. So if you need us, just give a holler." Mr. Casual commented, slapping his partner’s back and stepping through the door. "Come on, big boy, let's leave the lady to get settled. In the meanwhile, I'll tutor you on some moves you can put to practice tonight."

Asuka let out a grateful sigh when the door closed between her and the two Section-2 agents, idly wondering if she could ask for a change in security detail now that she was going to be cooped within the Geofront for the foreseeable future, and whether her request would actually be given the slightest consideration by whoever was in charge. For some unfathomable reason, the redhead was willing to bet that it wouldn’t, which would be perfectly in line with her usual luck.

In any case, Asuka pushed those thoughts aside for later consideration and began to wander her new quarters, familiarising herself with what was to be her new home:

It was lacking in many amenities, but what was there looked as if it had been set up by a decent interior decorator, something that Asuka had not expected out of NERV. Or perhaps the things already in the room were some of the belongings of whoever had been in the room before her?

The latter theory earned some points when Asuka found a cardboard box within the bedroom’s wardrobe, which was slightly dusty but not dirty enough to indicate years of abandonment. Furthermore, the smoothness of the edges and some tear marks here and there indicated that it had been used many times in the past.

Curious, Asuka carried the fairly heavy box into the living room and carefully opened it, finding a myriad plastic items stacked in very neat order of size within. Wasting no time, the Second Child grabbed the biggest item, one that had seen better times, and took it out of the box.

“Wow, this thing looks ancient...” the redhead whispered to herself, inspecting the red and white machine from every angle. “...Family Computer? Is this some sort of videogame console? I like the colour, at least.”

Setting the device aside, the Second Child reached further into the box, taking out a pair of controllers and a few videogame cartridges. Spending barely a second on each of them, Asuka discarded those cartridges which had kanji she couldn’t read, or that looked plain silly.

Which was most of them.

Eventually, though, her hands took hold of one cartridge that didn’t fall into either category, even if the cover did look very cartoonish.

Dragon Quest?” Asuka read, her tone unimpressed. “Talk about imaginative titles. Bet you there’s a princess in despair somewhere in there.”

Despite her words, though, the Second Child’s eyes flickered from the cartridge and towards the fairly large TV in the room. She wondered for a moment if the screen would be compatible with the archaic hardware, before deciding that there was but a single way to find out and putting herself to work on checking all the different cables and connections. The TV didn’t look brand new, after all, and logic dictated a probable connection between the two devices, considering the console’s presence in the adjoining room.

A hunch that was proven right shortly after when Asuka pushed the ON switch and sat on the floor with controller in hand, a cushion set to make the hard surface beneath a bit more tolerable.

“Not expecting much, but it still beats staring at the ceiling. Been a while since the last time, anyway.”

And while eyes that had gotten very little actual rest since the day before itched in protest, Asuka paid them no heed, instead opting to press START and immerse herself in an audience with an 8-bit King. For a few hours, she would be in a different world, be a different person, and forget all about her troubles.

A bit of escapism never hurt anyone, after all.
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Postby Asuka'sBigBrother » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:31 pm

View Original PostGryphon117 wrote:But that's a narration bit, it shouldn't be in italics. I mean, sure, I'm talking about Asuka's thoughts in there, but I'm not directly showing them.:

Ah okay.

Well then let me reframe my advice. Instead of making narration that closely resembles showing someone thinking, just show the person thinking. Cut the middle man, directly show us Asuka's thoughts. We can reach the conclusions.
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Postby Gryphon117 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:46 pm

Asuka'sBigBrother wrote:Ah okay.

Well then let me reframe my advice. Instead of making narration that closely resembles showing someone thinking, just show the person thinking. Cut the middle man, directly show us Asuka's thoughts. We can reach the conclusions.


I probably will. Reading through it again, I'm not really satisfied with that bit, myself.

Any thoughts about the most recent scene?
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Postby Asuka'sBigBrother » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:57 pm

View Original PostGryphon117 wrote:I probably will. Reading through it again, I'm not really satisfied with that bit, myself.

Any thoughts about the most recent scene?

Great as usual.

I like you going with mr. casual and mr. not causal but here's a way to upgrade that
SPOILER: Show
translate it into Japanese using a transaltor and then make it Mr. "translation". Feel free to include many words


I also like you're letting her think more. I also loved this line:
Although said idea didn’t fill Asuka with as much joy as she thought it would. Something that the redhead found puzzling, considering that she finally had the independence she’d been clamouring for when she had first arrived in Japan.

You don't say anything explicitly, and the symbolism is far stronger for it.

You don't need this line though:
The moment of weakness handled, she brushed aside the feelings that had almost forced their way past her mask

If you feel tempted to tell the reader the whole point of a scene...
don't.

Show not tell.

Additionally, I'd try using scenery description to set a tone for a scene.

Also..
SPOILER: Show
I'm starting chapter 6 this weekend, given how much you've been egging me on about how everything seems disconnected, I'll think you'll like this one since everything's going to start converging :)
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Postby Gryphon117 » Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:53 pm

I don't like the idea of gratuitous Japanese for very specific bits. I feel like it doesn't fit very well in an English story unless it's used somewhat liberally, which I don't currently plan to do. As it stands right now, the only bits of language mixing that I may do is having Asuka use a bit of German here and there (since one of my Betas happens to be fluent), but even that I don't plan on using a lot. Thanks for the idea, anyway. ^_^

In any case, here's the last scene of the backlog. At this point, this thread and the one at SV are on the same point of the story once again, so I'll be going back to my bi-weekly updates.

...Until I run out of backlog, at least, which might not be too far into the future, at this point. But we'll see what we do with that bridge once we reach it.

Chapter 4-2  SPOILER: Show
The Third Child trudged through the muddy grass, falling rain and biting winds striking his body in the same way that they had been doing for a long time, now. As he moved, the young man made sure to strain his ears in hopes of hearing anything that could prove helpful (or dangerous) for his situation, since the wall of white around him limited the workload on his vision to making sure he didn’t stumble over any protruding rocks and such.

But there was very little to hear outside of the howling of the wind, as well. Wherever this countryside was, it didn’t appear to have any animals in it, or people, or whatever. It was as devoid of life as the hospital had been.

‘...Except for that... thing, of course,’ the Third Child shuddered, not at all because of the rain. ‘Hopefully there won’t be more of them out here.’

The young man’s focus then shifted, remembering that him and the stuff of his nightmares for days to come hadn’t been the only ones in that hospital.

‘...And Asuka was there, too, right before...’

The shrill scream that he’d heard from the hallway returned to the forefront of his mind, freezing the boy down to his very core. Having the chance to catch his breath had also given Shinji the opportunity to realise that the terrified shriek had been the very last thing he’d heard from his teammate. To say that knowing that made him worry would be an understatement.

Especially considering that he had run away from her. Again.

‘I wonder if she’s all right...’

At least until he collided with something hard. Something hard that let out a girly yelp even as the Third Child was forcefully made to sit on the grass; rebooting back into full consciousness, Shinji’s mind decreed that automatic reactions be sent towards the one that was also rising off the ground.

“I-I’m sorry! I wasn’t looking where...”

But then the young man blinked, his mind needing a second to process and identify the part of the situation that was out of place. Which meant that the individual he’d collided with had a moment to collect themselves before Shinji’s eyes fixated on them...

...and widened as plates.

"A-Asuka! You're all right!"

"Dost thou know me...?"

The Third Child did a doubletake at Asuka's words, not just because they were unlike anything he'd ever heard before, both in accent and content, but also because of the way in which they had been spoken. Rather than Asuka's usual loud and domineering tone, the words of the girl before him were courteous and measured.

A far cry from what he'd been expecting, to be sure, shocking enough that the young man felt the need to check that he had not stopped the wrong person: blue eyes and red hair, just as he remembered them. Everything seemed to be in order.

But it was then that Shinji's eyes fell upon the girl's clothing, or rather, their peculiarity: Asuka was fitted with a breastplate, as well as with several other plates of metal over her legs and arms connected by chainmail. The only visible piece of actual cloth looked like a red coloured undershirt, but Shinji's attention quickly jumped from that and to the much more important longsword and shield combination that the redhead had strapped to her back.

Thankfully, though, Asuka didn't look intent on using the weapon, unlike Shinji's last encounter with the Middle Ages. Quite the opposite, in fact: with the armour somehow managing to shine even without the Sun's rays hitting it, she looked like a knight errant. Like something straight out of a fairytale.

Jumping to his feet, Shinji threw that last detail into the ever-growing pile of stuff that didn’t make much sense.

"...But thy visage is not one I recognize. Couldst thou perhaps be a soul I assisted in times past?" Asuka wondered, breaking the boy out of his staring. "If so, pray excuse me for forgetting, but I'm afraid that remembering every single person I've saved would prove an impossible task for someone of my stature."

"W-Why are you talking so weird, Asuka? It's me, Shinji!" the Third Child insisted. "S-Stupid Shinji, remember?"

"Shinji...?" The knight echoed, and she leant closer for a better look. She shook her head shortly after, though. "Pray forgive me, but I know none by that name. This situation is most puzzling, but mayhap you confuse me for someone else?"

The young man’s first instinct upon seeing Asuka’s reaction was to call bull. How could she say that she didn’t know him, after everything they’d been through together? After he’d been worried sick about her safety, Asuka decided that this was the best time for an elaborate joke?!

But Shinji just managed to keep his temper in check, precisely because he had been on the receiving end of Asuka’s pranks one too many times in the past to recognize when his fellow Pilot was trying to pull one on him, and ‘Asuka’ didn’t seem to be joking this time. Either that, or she’d attended some serious acting lessons.

‘She looks like Asuka, she acts like Asuka and she sounds like Asuka... for the most part,’ the Third Child wondered, relaxing his body while his thoughts remained too busy racing past one another. ‘But she doesn’t know me? And what’s with the weird getup? What the hell’s going on?!’

"In any case, perhaps thou mayst assist me, for 'tis a grave problem I face, indeed," Asuka continued, taking a worn map out of a pouch and remaining blissfully ignorant to Shinji’s prior reaction. "His Majesty entrusted this map to me, in hopes that I'd rescue the fair Princess of the realm and put an end to the tyranny of the despicable Dragon King, but the script on the parchment has proven undecipherable in the face of my best efforts and halted any actual progress in my quest."

‘...Is this even the same Asuka I saw before? The Asuka I know...? She must be, right?! Who else could it be if not her?! But then why doesn’t she recognize me?!’

"I believe the crux of the problem to lie in my unfamiliarity with the written form of the language used in these lands.” Asuka unfolded the map, showing it so Shinji could see. “Shouldst thou be a native, wouldst thou pray take a glance at this map and help me find my way to the lair of the Dragon King?"

The appearance of the pale parchment right before his eyes finally managed to break Shinji’s recurrent train of thought, although it did very little for his state of mind, otherwise.

“I-I’m sorry,” the young man muttered, shaky hands pushing the map away. “I-I can’t look at anything right now.”

“W-What? But thou must!” Asuka responded, a glimpse of the girl Shinji was familiar with seeping through her surprise. “The fate of thy realm hangs in the balance!"

“I’m sorry, it’s just that-!”

"Okay, Miss Thou,” a third voice suddenly cut into the conversation. “Please quiet down a little, will you?"

And it was then that Shinji’s mind encountered a critical error: belying all logic, the information issued from his auditory system reported that the new input hadn’t sounded like a third different voice, but rather like a third voice that should have been a second voice. The voice of the person right before him, as a matter of fact.

But the request had not come from the knight, his visual system reported. It had come from somewhere to Shinji’s right, instead. And it was when the young man turned to find the source that he saw a person break through the wall of encroaching fog. A figure dressed in a red raincoat and carrying a matching umbrella as a defence from the rain.

And a figure that Shinji knew very well.

"E-Eh? A-Asuka?" the young man stuttered, his eyes continuously looping from one girl to the other. "Another Asuka?!"

The newcomer paused for a second and raised an eyebrow at Shinji, a hint of confusion flying over her expression for all of an instant before she motioned for the boy to stand put.

"You pipe down a bit, too. I'll be with you in a minute."

"What luck! Two people in short succession after finding none for so long! The Light's blessings must be with me on this day!" A wide smile blossomed on the face of the first Asuka, as she turned to show the map to her twin. "Art thou familiar with the ways of this realm, my Lady, so that thou mayst guide my blade to the lair of the Dragon King? I asked for the cooperation of this young man prior, but I fear the minions of my nemesis may have found him sooner than I did. His wits appear to have all but left him."

"Yeah... That's a fairly normal state of affairs there, I'm pretty sure." The newcomer stated, throwing a wink in Shinji's direction at the same time. She then shifted her attention from the confused boy and back to the other girl, grabbing hold of the offered map. "Okay, let me take a look at that."

Both girls huddled together under the umbrella, chatting casually as if they were the oldest of friends. Although Shinji’s mind was far more interested in trying to understand why either of the Asukas weren’t weirded out in the slightest by talking to... themselves.

Perhaps he’d just absorbed all the available shock in the environment into himself, leaving none for the girls to feel surprised with? That sounded about as reasonable an explanation as the scene taking place before his very eyes, after all.

"Hmmm, I see... Yeah, I think I can help you." The second Asuka eventually paused for a bit, throwing a glance in the knight's direction. "How's your sense of direction, though? Navigating in this weather might be difficult, you know?"

"Not to worry, for 'tis impeccable, of course! As befits a heroine of my renown!" the knight proudly tapped a fist on her chest, the gauntlet and breastplate letting out a healthy clanging sound. "Many times have I found my way through labyrinthine cave networks with naught but a glint of light before me!"

"Good to know the fate of the kingdom is in such capable hands, then." The second Asuka smiled, before stepping forward and motioning with her arm to a point in the distance. "Okay, listen up: go straight in that direction until you climb the third hill, then follow through the valley to your right until you reach a mighty fortification. The Dragon King will await your challenge within, although you'll likely need to defeat his two lieutenants before you have the chance to do so."

"That shall not prove a problem." The knight grinned boldly, reclaiming her map with a nod of her head. "My deepest thanks, brave Lady, I shall continue on my quest immediately. Pray look after the young man until his health returns?"

"Sure, I will. Good luck!"

With a smile and a wave from both sides, the knight turned and disappeared down the indicated direction until the sound of her steps were swallowed by the whistling winds. And it was at this point, with her proxy out of earshot, that the second Asuka put her free hand on her hip and let out a hearty laugh.

"Hah! That will teach 'em!"

She then whirled towards Shinji, the self-satisfied smile never leaving her face.

"Good, you're still here. Been a while since I last saw one of you."

Stepping forward, Asuka invaded the young man’s personal space and inspected him like one would an interesting piece of jewellery, much to Shinji’s embarrassment. Humming to herself as she did so, her grin somehow managed to become even wider.

"And you're the lost puppy variety? It's been even longer for one of those!" The redhead then backed away just as quickly, bringing a finger to her chin. "Guess you're the one I noticed before. Although I still don't know who was laughing...

"Eh, not important, it doesn't feel like there are any others out here, anyway." Asuka shrugged, before turning away with a beckoning motion. "Let’s go, Shinji."

“Y-You know me?!”

Asuka paused for a moment, staring at the young man as if he’d grown a second head.

“Of course I know you. Why wouldn’t I? Did you hit your head or something?” The flicker of confusion from before returned to the redhead’s face, lingering for a few more seconds until she dispelled it with a shake of her head. “...You’re one weird Shinji. Come on.”

‘One weird Shinji?’ the Third Child wondered as his feet came to a brief stop. ‘What does she mean by-?’

‘Brief’ because it wasn’t long until the young man realised that he would quickly need to move once more. After all, Asuka was already disappearing through the fog and Shinji didn’t feel like being alone again; confusing company was still better than no company.

"Umm...” Shinji started, falling into step beside the redhead. “W-Where are we going?"

"Somewhere warm and with a roof,” Asuka replied, sending a playful look his way and covering him with the umbrella. “Unless you'd rather stay in the cold and rain?"

Shinji felt his cheeks heat up, the relief of finally being out of the biting rain quickly being overshadowed by something, and someone else. Umbrellas and the downpours that came to Tokyo-3 from time to time had been major players in many a fantasy scenario concocted by the Third Child’s busy teenage mind, after all.

Scenarios that had no place in his current situation, Shinji had to remind himself. The young man quickly decided to focus his thoughts on how nice the words ‘warm and with a roof’ sounded, instead.

It would no doubt be better than letting his brain run free.
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Postby Asuka'sBigBrother » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:16 pm

This was guten.
SPOILER: Show
not enough "baka" tho
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Postby Gryphon117 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:30 pm

A bit of a shorter piece this time, running to the end of Chapter 4. Things should start really moving forward in the next chapter, with the first real big deviations from Canon making their appearance and, as such, it's going to be noticeably longer than the rest. As a matter of fact, what's written of it for now already clocks in at 7.5k words, and there's still quite a bit left to go until the end. Fitting for the chapter that I consider the ending to the Introduction arc.

But that's going to be next Sunday, and I've also decided that we're going to be moving forward with the story in a weekly basis from now on. I'm very close to getting to the end of my backlog, I'm afraid, and I'd prefer if I didn't have the threads hot on the heels of my current writing.

In any case, and without further ado, enjoy. ^_^

Chapter 4-3  SPOILER: Show
The walk to the place Asuka had described didn’t take long, and Shinji soon found himself standing before a charming little farmstead. Its walls were painted a pale yellow, with a pair of blue windows framing a red door, and the roof of the building shared in the latter’s colour scheme. There was a pen on either side for what Shinji supposed would be animals but that currently lay empty, as well as a garden in the back in which wild vegetation quickly grew under the constant rain.

It was pretty, and the sight felt strangely nostalgic, too, in a way. And it didn’t take long for Shinji to figure out why: the farm looked like it had been plucked straight from a picture book. A children’s one.

“Cool, huh? I just built it!” Asuka grinned, motioning with her arm towards the back of the farmstead. “The garden’s a bit bare right now, but I want to put some flowers and stuff there when I get the chance. Ooor when the weather improves a bit, whatever comes first; come in, I’ll get us something hot!”

Asuka lead the way, opening the farm’s door and charging further inside without bothering to take off her shoes. Shinji made to stop her, driven by both his customs and the fear of mud ending up all over the place but, to his surprise, no marks of any kind had been left behind by Asuka’s footwear.

Shinji looked down at his feet and found his shoes mud-free and shining as if they’d just been polished. His ears also picked up on the whistling sound of a teapot reaching its boiling point from further inside, despite the fact that the both of them had just gotten here and water heating so fast was just plain impossible.

Without asking for any approval, his mind automatically put the two strange facts in the ever-growing ‘Ignore That’ list and, without wasting any more time, Shinji promptly stepped into the kitchen proper.

“...So the weather’s not always like this, over here?”

“Nah. Although it’s been like this for quite some time, now.” Asuka rummaged through the cupboards until she produced a pair of teabags, placing them in two cups and grabbing hold of the boiling water. “And the latest shake-up hasn’t helped matters at all, either. Some parts around here are still very unstable, so you shouldn’t go anywhere near them; have a seat, by the way.”

Shinji did as told and took a wooden chair carved with animal motifs for himself, engravings that extended to the other chairs and the table, as well, showing pictures of dogs, cats and other farm animals. A carving of two horses playing around was especially prominent among them, for some reason.

Before long, Shinji’s examination was cut short by Asuka planting a cup of freshly prepared green tea in his hands, the redhead humming a happy tune as she sat down to enjoy her own. Looking around, Shinji found no sign of sugar or any other additives anywhere on the table or the back of the kitchen, so he figured that everything necessary had already been put into the tea.

A hunch that was proven exactly right, much to the young man’s shock. Not because Asuka had brewed some very fine tea, since his roommate had already done so during some special occasions in the past, but rather because his drink tasted exactly as he liked to have it, and his personal recipe wasn’t what anyone would call common.

Tea habits were one of those few things Shinji Ikari could have been called compulsive about.

“How...? How do you know the way I like my tea?”

“Hello?” Asuka paused in her sipping, raising an eyebrow at the young man. “Because you’re a partial representation of Shinji Ikari, maybe? One that shares a few common traits with the others? You really did hit your head, didn’t you?”

“Partial representation...?” Shinji echoed, eyes widening slightly. “W-What do you mean? I’m Shinji Ikari!”

“No, you’re not. You’re just a mental image, Shinji Ikari as Asuka Langley-Sohryu sees him. One of them, anyway.”

But I’m not!” the young man insisted, taking Asuka by surprise. “I-I mean, I don’t know anything about this mental image thing, but I know I was fighting the Angel before! And then there was this light and then I- I just... I just woke up here!”

“Wait, did you just-“ Asuka quickly put down her tea, leaning forward and narrowing her eyes at Shinji. “Did you just say ‘Angel’?”

“Y-Yeah, I was fighting the Angel before. Is... that important?”

"Of course it’s important! That changes everything! You couldn’t know about the Angels unless you were one of the Pilot Shinjis, which you’re not!" The redhead brought her hands to her head, her hair going from side to side. "Oh, blimey! Are you telling me that you’re the real Shinji!? I thought that you were just a minor aspect!"

"A-A minor aspect?"

"Yeah, like Miss Thou earlier! Although I guess that you wouldn't know." Asuka waved a hand in front of her with a stressed sigh. "Long story short, a minor aspect is someone like me, but in a transient and limited form. They show up and go all the time around here."

“And where is ‘around here’?!” Shinji suddenly stood up, slamming his hands on the table. “Where exactly am I?!”

“...Oh, right.” Asuka went eerily quiet for a few moments, before motioning towards the fallen chair with a strained smile. “Umm... You might want to sit for this one.”

“What? Why?! Just tell me!”

“Trust me, it’s for your own good.”

Shinji felt the end of his patience draw near and a rebuke come to his tongue, but the young man bit down hard on it and kept it from coming out. The Third Child then picked up the chair and did as he’d been told, if only because seeing a worried expression on Asuka’s face was ground-shattering enough to override any objections he might have had.

“This,” the redhead finally elaborated with a tired groan, signalling around her with her hands. “Is the mind of Asuka Langley-Sohryu. Welcome, I guess.”
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Postby Asuka'sBigBrother » Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:28 am

Damn,this is getting interesting...
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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 4:28 pm

Sunday's back, so that means it's update time. Here we start with the first scene of Chapter 5, which is probably going to be the biggest chapter to date, as I previously mentioned. Today, we catch back up with a shell-shocked Shinji and find out a little bit more about what kind of situation what he has landed himself into this time:

Chapter 5-1  SPOILER: Show
A heavy silence fell over the kitchen following Asuka’s outrageous claim. After all, somehow, someway, Shinji Ikari had managed to land himself not within the bowels of a physics-defying enigma or something as equally extraordinary, but inside the mind of his frequently contradictory roommate.

He was stuck in the head of Asuka Langley-Sohryu. The sheer ridiculousness of the idea made his own spin.

One thing was for certain, however: he was very glad about having listened to Asuka’s prior advice. As he was feeling right now, Shinji seriously doubted his knees could have supported the weight of his body.

“I’m... inside of Asuka...?” the young man eventually repeated, his eyes looking through the young redhead sitting before him. “W-What...? B-But how...?!”

“I have no clue, maybe it was the Angel?” Asuka sighed. “In case it wasn’t clear, this sort of thing has never happened before.”

Much to the redhead’s dismay, it was painfully apparent that her truthful answer had done very little to bolster Shinji’s spirits, even if it was clearly better than keeping the young man in the dark. Nevertheless, it was also obvious that Shinji would need some serious time to process his situation, and that was time that Asuka was more than willing to offer him. She had things of her own to think about, after all.

“I guess you were the strange thing I felt before, then,” the redhead eventually surmised after a long period of silence, narrowing her eyes for a brief second. “Silly me, of course you were. I can actually feel how you don't belong here right now if I don’t let my assumptions cloud my judgement.

“I never knew you could laugh as hard as that, though. Did something funny happen?”

“Something happened, alright,” the young man replied, arms instinctively moving to hug himself. “Not exactly funny, though.”

“Care to elaborate?”

“Not now, please. Just...” Shinji shook his head, looking like he had suddenly aged an entire decade. “Can you start again? From the beginning?”

“Telling you...”

“Where we are. Who you are,” the Third Child continued, grabbing hold of the tea he had discarded before. “That kind of thing.”

Asuka nodded, and reclined back into her seat with a sigh. After all, the concepts that Shinji was asking for were, in essence, very simple for her to understand, but explaining them to someone without the ability to see things as she did would prove to be quite a bit more of a challenge.

Besides, Asuka didn’t fail to notice how hard the young man’s hands were shaking, either. It looked like whatever explanation she decided to go with would also have the added difficulty of needing to calm Shinji down.

No biggie.

“Well, like I said before, this is the inside of Asuka’s mind. Her consciousness, where all the concepts, beliefs and desires that make Asuka Asuka gather,” the redhead began, struggling to come up with a decent simile for her definition. “You could think of this place as one big puzzle, I guess. One in which the different pieces of Asuka’s personality work together to make a coherent whole.”

"So... you are something like that, too?" Shinji interrupted, watching her intently over the top of his mug. “A piece in the puzzle?”

"In layman's terms, yeah, although I guess my actual value would be more along the lines of ten or twenty pieces, if we account for an Aspect like Miss Thou being worth a single one...” Asuka trailed off for a second, before waving her hand with a click of her tongue. “But I guess that’s not such a great comparison, anyway. The precise truth is far more complicated than that."

"...How much more complicated?"

"Quite a bit. Like, are you familiar with Jungian psychology?"

Even if no words were used to answer her question, the blank look Shinji sent her way told Asuka everything she needed to know.

"...Guess not,” the redhead sighed. “Not that surprising considering that the Walls of Jericho went over your head."

“The... Walls of Jericho?” Shinji echoed, the name sounding vaguely familiar to him for some reason. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

“It’s important because...”

A frown grew over Asuka’s features, her voice going silent for several seconds. Long enough to make even Shinji Ikari impatient.

“Because...?”

“Sorry, I... kinda went blank, there.” The redhead shook her head, focusing back on the task at hand. “...Oh, well. Guess it’s really not that important, then; let’s just say that I am important around here and leave it at that for the moment. I’ll show you how later but, for now, on to the minor aspects that you’ll find around here.”

"...Okay," Shinji agreed, following on the girl’s initiative. “You said earlier that you thought I was one of those, didn’t you?”

“Mhmm.”

"But shouldn't I have looked like Asuka, then?"

"Not necessarily. Minor aspects can show up as many different things, you see. There are some for Kaji, Misato, Hikari..." Asuka elaborated, motioning with her hand towards Shinji. "A minor aspect that looks like you has appeared before, too, although not in the same context you were in."

"I see. What context did it appear in, then?"

"The context? Oh, it was..."

The frown returned to Asuka’s face, the redhead falling into contemplative silence a second time.

“Is something wrong?”

"No, it’s just... I... don't remember," Asuka replied, scratching the top of her head. “...Funny. That’s never happened before, either. What’s with me today?”

“Maybe you’re... tired?”

“I can’t get tired,” the girl retorted. "And before you ask: no, I know it happened, but the details are fuzzy. Like it's lingering right at the edge of my memory, or something. It’s kinda frustrating."

The girl’s words matched her expression, the frown that had appeared a pair of times before slowly but steadily growing in size, something that made alarm bells sound within Shinji’s own mind. After all, the young man had no desire to find out whether this... piece of Asuka handled frustration in the same manner his roommate did.

“So... you said that the Asuka from before is a part of Asuka? Isn’t that a bit weird?” the Third Child asked, managing to win the girl’s attention back. “I mean, it’s just that... she looked and sounded so different.”

"Yup, she is Asuka, just not the Asuka you know,” the redhead answered, going back to a positive mood in the flash of an eye. “Think of her like a mask, of sorts."

"A... mask?"

"Yeah. Like, haven't you ever seen Asuka act differently with different people? I mean, I’m sure you do it, too.”

Shinji contemplated the redhead’s words for a few moments, quickly coming up with plenty of cases in which they could apply to Asuka and him both. In Asuka’s case, though, Horaki-san seemed to be the best example, considering that the Class Representative was about the only person his roommate appeared to be completely at ease with.

“I guess...”

"That's the sort of thing I'm talking about. In this case, though, it's more about relaxation and leisure than social interaction. Going by previous experience, Miss Thou probably came to be due to Asuka immersing herself in some sort of story, like from a book or something like that."

“Oh, okay,” Shinji acknowledged, figuring that it didn’t sound that weird for his mental images to actually exist within his brain, all things considered. Shortly after, though, the young man’s eyes went wide. “...Wait a second, that means that the real Asuka...”

“Is going around, living her life as usual?” Asuka supplied with a grin. “Bingo!”

“That’s a relief... I thought that she was stuck here, too.” The young man let out a breath, happy to finally have one of the questions that had been bothering him for a long while answered. But then, another realisation came to the forefront of his mind. “W-Wait a minute! And what about me?!”

Asuka blinked, taken aback by the sudden change.

“What about you?”

“Yeah!” Shinji insisted, pointing a finger at the outside. “I mean, if I’m here, who’s out there?!”

“Oh, that. I... have no idea. I’m sorry.”

“And can’t you find out?!” The Third Child stood up, his chair clattering to the floor with a heavy crash. “I mean, you said that you’re important here, right?! Can’t you... look through Asuka’s eyes, or check her memory or something like that?!”

“I could... once,” Asuka replied, looking away with a strained smile. “But then stuff happened, and I... kiiinda can’t, anymore.”

“W-What do you mean?”

Asuka scratched the back of her head, groaning at the idea of another complicated subject. Nevertheless, the redhead slowly brought her head back to its original position...

“That’s another one of those things that’s pretty hard to explain, but I mean that-“

...and that was when her eyes went wide as saucers.

“Omygosh, Shinji!” Asuka exclaimed, pointing a finger to his hands. “W-What’s that?!”

“W-What’s wha-?”

Shinji followed Asuka’s shaking finger and looked downwards, quickly finding out that all he could see was the kitchen’s table.

Through his hands.

“What the hell?!”

“You’re... fading away?!” Asuka speculated, eyes fixated on the steadily panicking young man. The girl’s head turned to look behind her a second later, though, her attention moving to a point far beyond. “...No, you’re being recognized as a concept and modified along with the rest of the plane?! But that shouldn’t happen! Don’t tell me they-!”

“Asuka!” Shinji interrupted, bringing the redhead’s attention back to himself. “What’s going on?!”

“Don’t worry, this is happening because Asuka’s situation just changed! You’re only being swept into the flux!” the girl quickly explained, leaning forward to grab Shinji’s hands. “You’ll probably wind up somewhere else, but I’ll find you, okay?! Just remember: whatever you do, don’t-!”

Whatever the redhead intended to say was cut short by a sudden shift in scenery, the Third Child blinking only to find black space all around him. The warm contact of Asuka’s fingers also disappeared from his own, doing very little to calm the young man.

“Asuka?” Shinji screamed into the void. “Asuka?!”

But no answer came, other than the familiar feeling of having his senses suddenly assaulted by both sickening sights and sounds.

The Third Child writhed through the brief, painful experience, and then slowly opened his eyes, dreading what he would find. And Shinji was right to feel so, for he quickly recognized his surroundings:

White, clinical and terrifying.
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Postby Asuka'sBigBrother » Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:10 pm

damn, no doubt bout your creativity
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Postby Gryphon117 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:49 am

Asuka'sBigBrother wrote:damn, no doubt bout your creativity


Thanks, but the concepts I'm using in this scene are really not that creative. I'm mostly lifting them off of other media I've enjoyed, for the most part.
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Postby xanderkh » Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:56 pm

Sorry I took so freaking long to actually sit down and review this story for once proper. And thus far, I have to say, I'm REALLY liking both the premise and the style. Excellent idea of using the Arael attack to help bridge the gap between Asuka and Shinji.

And massive kudos for Misato for actually to be the one to finally stick it to Gendo to have Shinji save Asuka. However, I am very worried about how Shinji will take this, now that Misato has been suspended. Shinji hasn't anyone to go to, and living on his own won't really add to his mental health. And hopefully, Asuka will eventually find out soon as well, that even a glamorous hotel room isn't so great if you have to live alone. Too bad Ritsuko's tactfulness in this whole mess is about as gentle as being dragged through a gravel pitt. :P

I'm especially enjoying the premise of Shinji exploring Asuka's mentalscape as a byproduct of Arael's attack. I'm vaguely reminded of the episode of Teen Titans (the GOOD SERIES) where Beast Boy and Cyborg explore Raven's mental world. This is a great opportunity for Shinji to discover more about Asuka's personality, but also a great medium for Drama to explore her issues as well, and knowing what we know of Asuka, it's not going to be pretty, which is excellent drama.

Asuka's aspects thus far have been pretty creative, as I've been kind of making up my own theories about what parts of her they represent. I can't help feeling that the Hero Knight Asuka is of course a nod to your AU and Dragon's Quest that she's playing. Although, I have to wonder what the Armored Knight in the mindscape represents? Whatever it is, I have a feeling it's going to be a dramatic highlight.

So, thus far, the premise and the context of the story, I'm really digging, and I can't wait to read more chapters to come. I haven't been this excited for a new fic for a while now.

Now, to be a fair critic (and this is a part I always hate to reveal), there are some issues. There is a lot of wording and detail in a lot of these sentences, as Asuka'sBigBrother already indicated. You're very descriptive and detailed in your exposition, and I would kill to have the descriptive knowledge that you have in my own works Gryphon. That being said however, there are some scenes that too much of a description goes against the context of a scene, especially if you're trying to make a somber atmosphere with a lot of tension. Evangelion, especially as a drama, has always been a series that goes with the "less is more" context in writing. Small details that leave a BIG impact to the imagination.

For example in Ch 3-2, where Asuka remembers the death of her mother. Now, a lot of us fans already know this fate, but in the context of the story for your audience, if you want to keep the audience in tension, vague descriptions are especially good, leaving it up to the audiences imaginations. Like, as an example, "Asuka could always remember the last image of her nightmare. A body just hanging limply, swaying in an empty room."
It's that kind of a description that leaves a lasting and pounding impression, with little amount of details. :)

That being said, you're descriptive nature is not without merit of course, as they were BRILLIANT in both your "Great Snowball Battle" fic and your Fantasy AU Evangelion fic, especially when we were in Mari's head. That type of writing was great for both fics, as one was a Slice of Life fic that needed such description when getting into the minds of our characters, as these were different from the original Asuka and Shinji.

All and all, this are just minor quips, as you said this fic is a learning process, and so far, I'm really liking what I'm seeing. I can't wait to see how more of this develops, and how hopefully this little adventure is going to bring them closer together. :)
"You're na�ve, Cecil. Even knowing betrayal and despair, you would depend on the whims of others?" - Golbez
---------------------------------------
Sephiroth: "Do you miss the Light?"
Golbez: "Hmph...I merely have duties to fulfill."
Sephiroth: "Too close to the brightness, and you may get scorched."
Golbz:.............
Golbez: Your loss can strengthen you.

"NGE Shinji is broken, Manga Shinji is an asshole, Rebuild Shinji is an idiot. Which is best? Uh, can I get some other options? All of these really suck." -Bagheera

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:42 pm

Thanks, it's always nice to see in-depth feedback that's clear on the points to improve. And yeah, the narration thing is definitely the improvement area that pops up the most, now and in the past. I'll try to strike a better balance in the future.

Updating tomorrow. Probably in the early morning since I'll be heading to the hospital straight after to meet my new niece. ^_^
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Postby Asuka'sBigBrother » Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:20 pm

oof, you're so prolific, i'm tempted to stop procrastinating on my story, but i have a song to finish so...


:chinscratch:

what should i do?
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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:22 am

Asuka'sBigBrother wrote:what should i do?


What you feel like doing. It's not like you're getting paid to write, so if the body asks you to do something else, you should. ^_^

Here's the update, by the way. Enjoy, you guys.

Chapter 5-2  SPOILER: Show
“I’m here to interrogate the prisoner."

Ritsuko Akagi’s request echoed slightly down the long and mostly deserted corridor of detention cells. A place that struck fear in NERV employees and Tokyo-3 citizens alike, legends about the oversized brig of NERV HQ were a dime a dozen, often drawing inspiration from classic spy movie stories or so-called historical facts about the GESTAPO and KGB.

The most popular theory claimed the brig to be the final resting place of all those people who crossed Gendo Ikari and his personal army of Section-2 agents, or merely even looked at them funny. But the far more boring truth of the matter was that, like many things in NERV, its detention centre was simply unnecessarily large and unlikely to be highly efficient for reasons that Ritsuko wasn’t privy to, if there even were any.

The Commander was more than happy to exploit the urban legends for all they were worth, though. They were a simple and effortless way of furthering his control over HQ, after all.

“Understood, ma’am,” the agent on the right nodded, signalling to his teammate and turning to open the door. “If you’ll follow me...”

“Of course. But first, I’d ask that you disconnect the camera feed.”

“What? But Ma’am-“

“We’ll be discussing confidential matters, matters that are not to remain on tape.” Ritsuko elaborated, her voice dropping a few degrees. “I trust that the Commander requested the same thing?”

“Y-Yeah...”

“Then think of this as an extension of his request. I’m but tackling the same set of issues.”

The two guards shared a brief look, showing a great example of unspoken communication before the same guard that had spoken began to shake his head.

“But still, ma’am, we need-“

“Confirmation from the Commander?” Ritsuko finished, pretending that her patience was wearing thin. “Should we interrupt his work just for that? I do not believe he would take kindly to that.”

A fairly audible gulp reached Ritsuko’s ears and the blonde had to fight down the urge to laugh when both guards shared a very different type of look. The urban legends were quite useful, indeed.

“...Tell Shinjiro to cut the feed.” The guard on the left nodded his agreement and went to do as he’d been told, disappearing through a side door a few steps away. The lead guard then turned to Ritsuko, finally opening the security door and leading the way forward. “This way, ma’am.”

The guard led her down a short corridor, before opening a second door and stepping inside. He then remained at the door side, allowing Ritsuko entry and unhindered view of the cell’s interior.

It was cold, dark and far from luxurious, but even in the darkness, it took Ritsuko no time to identify the figure of her former friend: lying on the mattress that barely passed for a bed and with her back facing towards the door, Ritsuko needed no extra guesses to figure out what Misato had been doing previous to her entry. It would appear that the Commander had made no effort whatsoever to soften the blow of the latest news, not that Ritsuko had really expected him to.

“Whenever you’re ready to leave, ma’am, or if anything happens, just press this button,” the guard explained, motioning to an intercom device right beside the door. “I’ll be waiting just outside.”

“Very well. Now leave us.”

With a nod, the guard did as told and the door to the outside closed behind Ritsuko soon after. Just to make sure, the scientist followed that with a glance towards the security camera in the corner of the room, quickly confirming that it was indeed offline.

Finally free of prying eyes, Ritsuko took her mask off, allowing her shoulders to drop and her body to relax. Slowly, the blonde moved further inside the room, grabbing hold of a forgotten chair next to the wall and sitting on it with a tired sigh.

And then she bided her time, silence enveloping the room as Ritsuko waited for her former friend to make the first move.

Unlike many others, Misato didn’t test her patience.

“Why are you here?”

Misato’s voice sounded coarse to Ritsuko’s ears, but the undertone of anger was still unmistakable.

“Am I not allowed to be worried?”

“You can do whatever you want, but I was honestly betting on you laughing at me.”

“What you did was reckless, I won’t deny it,” Ritsuko replied, keeping a witty comeback from slipping past her lips. “But I want to believe that you thought me a better person than that.”

Misato merely scoffed, her back not moving the slightest from its position.

“Why are you here?”

The Major repeated herself, in a tone that made it clear that she had no mind for fake pleasantries.

“I’m here because I’ve got things to discuss with you.” Ritsuko answered, slipping back into her mask. “Things related to your quest with Kaji.”

“Thought so,” Misato scoffed for a second time. “Well, I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Ikari: you can fuck right off.”

“I’m not here on his behalf.”

Her former friend stiffened for a brief instant at her comeback, the emphasis having the effect Ritsuko had been looking for. Over her shoulder, one of Misato’s puffy eyes finally made an appearance.

“...What?”

“A third party recently contacted me. A group that, by the sound of things, was... acquainted with Kaji,” Ritsuko reclined back on her chair with a sigh. “He was a really popular man.”

“Save the jokes,” Misato turned to sit up on the bed, now giving the blonde her full attention. “A third party? That’s the first I’ve heard of it. Where are you going with this, Ritz?”

“You don’t need me to tell you where I’m going, Misato. You’re smarter than that.”

“I still want to hear you say it.”

Ritsuko shook her head with a roll of her eyes at the Major’s insistence. She figured that humouring her was the fastest way forward, though.

“I’m going to pick up where Kaji left off, and do what he could not.” The Head of Project-E narrowed her eyes at her former friend. “Happy now?”

Misato, for her part, merely glared back. She spent several seconds intently watching for any signs of deception on Ritsuko’s face, her search turning up little in way of results.

“Fuck me, you’re serious.”

“Of course I’m serious. Since when have I been one to bluff, Misato?”

“You’re right, outright lies are more your style.” Misato spat, before standing up for what appeared to be the first time in hours. “And where does this sudden change of heart even come from?”

“I took a long, hard look at my life choices and didn’t like what I saw.” Ritsuko replied, eyes falling to the side. “This is my attempt at making things right.”

An explanation that only earned the doctor yet another scoff from her former friend.

“Very cute, Ritz. Too bad you’ve made it clear by now that you’re not exactly good Samaritan material. Why don’t you try again?”

“That obvious? And here I thought that all that was needed to get on your good side was to be foolishly idealistic.” Ritsuko didn’t fail to notice the way in which Misato’s hands clenched at her words, barely managing to stop a smirk from blossoming on her face. Two could play that game, after all; she then sat up straighter in her chair, returning to a more serious approach. “The situation has changed. It’s really as simple as that.”

“Because of this so-called third party?” The Major began to pace up and down the cell, her feet threatening to stomp a hole into the ground. “No, even if they’re really a thing, they’re just a convenient excuse. The truth is that you had a falling out with the two commanders and now you want out, isn’t it?

“What happened, Ritz? Did the goals of NERV stop aligning with your own?” Misato stomped back to the centre of the room, trying her utmost to glare answers out of the blonde. “Something to do with their Angels in the closet? Or is it more about the shadowy cabal in the background?”

Efforts that brought her little more than silence and a raised eyebrow for the longest of times. And even after that, it wasn’t Ritsuko’s words that broke through the blanket of silence, but rather a string of amused chuckles.

Laughter that only served to test the Major’s patience even further.

“What’s. So. Funny?”

“Watching you try to play the police interrogator with but a fraction of the facts,” Ritsuko casually answered, easily ignoring a glare that would have melted lesser women. “I suppose Kaji is to thank for you finding out about Lilith and SEELE? Not that it matters. You don’t have the foggiest idea of how deep the rabbit hole goes, Misato.”

“What do you know, Ritsuko?”

“A sizable chunk of the Truth Kaji was so obsessed with: Second Impact and why it happened, the Evas and Unit-01, the true purpose of NERV and SEELE as well as the plan that Ikari and Fuyutsuki hatched from it.” The Doctor stood up, responding to Misato’s withering look with a sharp one of her own. “All of that and much more, but those are Truths I’ll only tell you if you agree to help me. I don’t think this is a hard question.”

A sharp intake of breath answered her words and, unperturbed, Ritsuko watched as her former friend’s expression went through shock, sorrow, and all the way up to barely restrained rage, before finally settling back on a steely mask once again.

“Fuck you, Ritsuko,” Misato spat, slowly heading back to sit on the bed. “Only you would use Kaji like that.”

And Ritsuko’s eyes followed her, a slight pang of guilt resonating within her as Misato’s words replayed in her mind.

‘...You’re right about that, Misato,’ Ritsuko agreed, before mercilessly squashing the feeling. ‘But unfortunately, the means must be on the same level as the end.’

“I do what I have to, because the world I’m entering doesn’t allow for half measures. There will be time to pray for the dead later.” The doctor took a quick look at her watch, her eyes narrowing slightly. “Now, give me a straight answer, Misato. I can’t stay here forever.”

But in spite of Ritsuko’s warning, the Major offered no quick response. Instead, she spent several long moments staring at the floor, no doubt weighing her situation, Kaji’s legacy and the credibility of the Doctor’s words and how they could change the playing field.

“Fine, let’s assume for a second that I agree to join forces,” Misato eventually began, her eyes never rising up. “Why go to the effort of recruiting me?

“Because you’re the Operations Director of NERV, obviously. No one in the entire world could measure to your tactical knowledge of the EVAs, and I’m sure that my… supporters will also see it that way.”

“In case that they need to destroy them?”

“I’m not privy to that kind of details yet,” Ritsuko replied, for she honestly didn’t know. “But if it will serve to assuage your fears, they appear far more interested in Ikari and SEELE than in the Children.”

“That doesn’t help,” Misato tightly shook her head. “Your third party could simply consider them a non-issue to eliminate.”

“Perhaps. But that’s all I have.”

“...Fine, let’s continue: as you said, I’m the Operations Director of NERV. But have you forgotten that I’m also stuck here?” Misato motioned with her hand, indicating the room around them. She then rested her elbows on her knees, expression turning downcast. “Besides, the last time I tried to make a difference I only made things worse. Kaji was wrong about me.”

And Ritsuko had to keep an aggravated sigh from slipping past her lips at her former friend’s words. The conversation wasn’t going in a direction she liked.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she countered. “The Third Child is alive.”

“Clinically so. I may not be a doctor but I still understand the reports, Ritsuko.”

“Then you’ve also understood the ones that mention the manner in which you saved Unit-02 and the Second Child, all while defeating the Angel? You won the day, Misato.”

The Major’s eyes suddenly rose to meet Ritsuko’s, caught somewhere between surprise and anger.

“You call that a victory?”

“Would you rather call the successful continuation of Mankind a failure?”

“For fuck’s sake, Ritsuko! You know what I mean!” Misato shot up to her feet, emphasising her next words with her fingers. “Kaji is dead. Shinji is gone. Asuka hates me. And after all this time I still can’t figure out what’s going on in Rei’s head!

“And not only that, now you come from out of nowhere! After being a willing instrument to most of the above since God knows how long, you suddenly come and tell me that you want my help?! That you want to do the complete opposite of everything you’ve been doing up until now?! And I’m expected to believe you?!”

“It’s never too late to start over. Isn’t that something Kaji would say?” Ritsuko’s words were as a calm sea to Misato’s raging typhoon, the blonde trying her hardest to claw for a positive outcome. “What will you do, otherwise? Stay here and wallow in your own self-pity? Cry about the Third Child’s condition? About the Second’s rapidly deteriorating stability?”

The Major’s eyes fell to the side, her hands clenching into tight fists.

“They…” Misato spoke, in barely more than a whisper. “They don’t deserve this...”

“...No one does. But this is a war, Misato, and they’re our soldiers,” Ritsuko pressed further forward, secretly wondering why she needed to remind a military commander of such a basic concept. “By the time that you started your little family project, you were fully aware of what could happen every time they were sent out to fight.”

“And that makes it right?!”

“That makes it necessary.”

Misato’s non-verbal response resounded throughout the entire cell, confirming Ritsuko’s fears: Misato Katsuragi would not be joining her.

“...You’re being childish, Misato.” The Head of Project-E backed away a step, a hand moving to caress her cheek. “Childish and short-sighted.”

“I’ll take that over heartless,” the Major spat, motioning towards the door with her head. “Now, if you’ve got nothing else to say, I’d like to be alone, friend.”

For a fleeting moment, a part of Ritsuko thought of clashing with Misato, of telling her about how her own revenge-driven motivations weren’t so different from the ones of the person she was calling ‘heartless’. Of how, for all of her moral manoeuvring, Misato had been equally as guilty and irresponsible on the treatment of the Children she suddenly seemed to care so much about.

But it was her professional side, logical as it always was, who told her that there was very little point to fighting that battle of wills. Her efforts and energy had no need to be wasted on misguided hypocrites, and it was because of that the Doctor forced her body to relax and return to its usual poise.

“...Unbelievable.”

And with no further words, a disappointed Ritsuko Akagi turned to leave the prison cell.

She had hoped that Misato could be reasonable, that she could look past the inconsequential issues and work towards a greater good, but her belief had been clearly misplaced. The Operations Director of NERV wouldn’t prove to be the asset Ritsuko had been looking for, not in the immediate future, at least. But although her loss was a considerable blow, it was by no means a critical one.

“Ikari will get you out of here the moment the next Angel arrives. He doesn’t have a replacement for you, and he can’t afford to find one so late into the game.” Ritsuko briefly looked over her shoulder after she pressed the intercom button, regarding the sorry sight of someone she had once respected. “Try to get your head out of your ass before then, Katsuragi.”

The door then opened and closed with a slam, leaving Misato Katsuragi alone with her thoughts once more.
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

Currently working on a new project: An Insider's Look

brer rabbit
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby brer rabbit » Thu Mar 22, 2018 9:51 pm

View Original PostGryphon117 wrote:What you feel like doing. It's not like you're getting paid to write, so if the body asks you to do something else, you should. ^_^

Here's the update, by the way. Enjoy, you guys.

Chapter 5-2  SPOILER: Show
“I’m here to interrogate the prisoner."

Ritsuko Akagi’s request echoed slightly down the long and mostly deserted corridor of detention cells. A place that struck fear in NERV employees and Tokyo-3 citizens alike, legends about the oversized brig of NERV HQ were a dime a dozen, often drawing inspiration from classic spy movie stories or so-called historical facts about the GESTAPO and KGB.

The most popular theory claimed the brig to be the final resting place of all those people who crossed Gendo Ikari and his personal army of Section-2 agents, or merely even looked at them funny. But the far more boring truth of the matter was that, like many things in NERV, its detention centre was simply unnecessarily large and unlikely to be highly efficient for reasons that Ritsuko wasn’t privy to, if there even were any.

The Commander was more than happy to exploit the urban legends for all they were worth, though. They were a simple and effortless way of furthering his control over HQ, after all.

“Understood, ma’am,” the agent on the right nodded, signalling to his teammate and turning to open the door. “If you’ll follow me...”

“Of course. But first, I’d ask that you disconnect the camera feed.”

“What? But Ma’am-“

“We’ll be discussing confidential matters, matters that are not to remain on tape.” Ritsuko elaborated, her voice dropping a few degrees. “I trust that the Commander requested the same thing?”

“Y-Yeah...”

“Then think of this as an extension of his request. I’m but tackling the same set of issues.”

The two guards shared a brief look, showing a great example of unspoken communication before the same guard that had spoken began to shake his head.

“But still, ma’am, we need-“

“Confirmation from the Commander?” Ritsuko finished, pretending that her patience was wearing thin. “Should we interrupt his work just for that? I do not believe he would take kindly to that.”

A fairly audible gulp reached Ritsuko’s ears and the blonde had to fight down the urge to laugh when both guards shared a very different type of look. The urban legends were quite useful, indeed.

“...Tell Shinjiro to cut the feed.” The guard on the left nodded his agreement and went to do as he’d been told, disappearing through a side door a few steps away. The lead guard then turned to Ritsuko, finally opening the security door and leading the way forward. “This way, ma’am.”

The guard led her down a short corridor, before opening a second door and stepping inside. He then remained at the door side, allowing Ritsuko entry and unhindered view of the cell’s interior.

It was cold, dark and far from luxurious, but even in the darkness, it took Ritsuko no time to identify the figure of her former friend: lying on the mattress that barely passed for a bed and with her back facing towards the door, Ritsuko needed no extra guesses to figure out what Misato had been doing previous to her entry. It would appear that the Commander had made no effort whatsoever to soften the blow of the latest news, not that Ritsuko had really expected him to.

“Whenever you’re ready to leave, ma’am, or if anything happens, just press this button,” the guard explained, motioning to an intercom device right beside the door. “I’ll be waiting just outside.”

“Very well. Now leave us.”

With a nod, the guard did as told and the door to the outside closed behind Ritsuko soon after. Just to make sure, the scientist followed that with a glance towards the security camera in the corner of the room, quickly confirming that it was indeed offline.

Finally free of prying eyes, Ritsuko took her mask off, allowing her shoulders to drop and her body to relax. Slowly, the blonde moved further inside the room, grabbing hold of a forgotten chair next to the wall and sitting on it with a tired sigh.

And then she bided her time, silence enveloping the room as Ritsuko waited for her former friend to make the first move.

Unlike many others, Misato didn’t test her patience.

“Why are you here?”

Misato’s voice sounded coarse to Ritsuko’s ears, but the undertone of anger was still unmistakable.

“Am I not allowed to be worried?”

“You can do whatever you want, but I was honestly betting on you laughing at me.”

“What you did was reckless, I won’t deny it,” Ritsuko replied, keeping a witty comeback from slipping past her lips. “But I want to believe that you thought me a better person than that.”

Misato merely scoffed, her back not moving the slightest from its position.

“Why are you here?”

The Major repeated herself, in a tone that made it clear that she had no mind for fake pleasantries.

“I’m here because I’ve got things to discuss with you.” Ritsuko answered, slipping back into her mask. “Things related to your quest with Kaji.”

“Thought so,” Misato scoffed for a second time. “Well, I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Ikari: you can fuck right off.”

“I’m not here on his behalf.”

Her former friend stiffened for a brief instant at her comeback, the emphasis having the effect Ritsuko had been looking for. Over her shoulder, one of Misato’s puffy eyes finally made an appearance.

“...What?”

“A third party recently contacted me. A group that, by the sound of things, was... acquainted with Kaji,” Ritsuko reclined back on her chair with a sigh. “He was a really popular man.”

“Save the jokes,” Misato turned to sit up on the bed, now giving the blonde her full attention. “A third party? That’s the first I’ve heard of it. Where are you going with this, Ritz?”

“You don’t need me to tell you where I’m going, Misato. You’re smarter than that.”

“I still want to hear you say it.”

Ritsuko shook her head with a roll of her eyes at the Major’s insistence. She figured that humouring her was the fastest way forward, though.

“I’m going to pick up where Kaji left off, and do what he could not.” The Head of Project-E narrowed her eyes at her former friend. “Happy now?”

Misato, for her part, merely glared back. She spent several seconds intently watching for any signs of deception on Ritsuko’s face, her search turning up little in way of results.

“Fuck me, you’re serious.”

“Of course I’m serious. Since when have I been one to bluff, Misato?”

“You’re right, outright lies are more your style.” Misato spat, before standing up for what appeared to be the first time in hours. “And where does this sudden change of heart even come from?”

“I took a long, hard look at my life choices and didn’t like what I saw.” Ritsuko replied, eyes falling to the side. “This is my attempt at making things right.”

An explanation that only earned the doctor yet another scoff from her former friend.

“Very cute, Ritz. Too bad you’ve made it clear by now that you’re not exactly good Samaritan material. Why don’t you try again?”

“That obvious? And here I thought that all that was needed to get on your good side was to be foolishly idealistic.” Ritsuko didn’t fail to notice the way in which Misato’s hands clenched at her words, barely managing to stop a smirk from blossoming on her face. Two could play that game, after all; she then sat up straighter in her chair, returning to a more serious approach. “The situation has changed. It’s really as simple as that.”

“Because of this so-called third party?” The Major began to pace up and down the cell, her feet threatening to stomp a hole into the ground. “No, even if they’re really a thing, they’re just a convenient excuse. The truth is that you had a falling out with the two commanders and now you want out, isn’t it?

“What happened, Ritz? Did the goals of NERV stop aligning with your own?” Misato stomped back to the centre of the room, trying her utmost to glare answers out of the blonde. “Something to do with their Angels in the closet? Or is it more about the shadowy cabal in the background?”

Efforts that brought her little more than silence and a raised eyebrow for the longest of times. And even after that, it wasn’t Ritsuko’s words that broke through the blanket of silence, but rather a string of amused chuckles.

Laughter that only served to test the Major’s patience even further.

“What’s. So. Funny?”

“Watching you try to play the police interrogator with but a fraction of the facts,” Ritsuko casually answered, easily ignoring a glare that would have melted lesser women. “I suppose Kaji is to thank for you finding out about Lilith and SEELE? Not that it matters. You don’t have the foggiest idea of how deep the rabbit hole goes, Misato.”

“What do you know, Ritsuko?”

“A sizable chunk of the Truth Kaji was so obsessed with: Second Impact and why it happened, the Evas and Unit-01, the true purpose of NERV and SEELE as well as the plan that Ikari and Fuyutsuki hatched from it.” The Doctor stood up, responding to Misato’s withering look with a sharp one of her own. “All of that and much more, but those are Truths I’ll only tell you if you agree to help me. I don’t think this is a hard question.”

A sharp intake of breath answered her words and, unperturbed, Ritsuko watched as her former friend’s expression went through shock, sorrow, and all the way up to barely restrained rage, before finally settling back on a steely mask once again.

“Fuck you, Ritsuko,” Misato spat, slowly heading back to sit on the bed. “Only you would use Kaji like that.”

And Ritsuko’s eyes followed her, a slight pang of guilt resonating within her as Misato’s words replayed in her mind.

‘...You’re right about that, Misato,’ Ritsuko agreed, before mercilessly squashing the feeling. ‘But unfortunately, the means must be on the same level as the end.’

“I do what I have to, because the world I’m entering doesn’t allow for half measures. There will be time to pray for the dead later.” The doctor took a quick look at her watch, her eyes narrowing slightly. “Now, give me a straight answer, Misato. I can’t stay here forever.”

But in spite of Ritsuko’s warning, the Major offered no quick response. Instead, she spent several long moments staring at the floor, no doubt weighing her situation, Kaji’s legacy and the credibility of the Doctor’s words and how they could change the playing field.

“Fine, let’s assume for a second that I agree to join forces,” Misato eventually began, her eyes never rising up. “Why go to the effort of recruiting me?

“Because you’re the Operations Director of NERV, obviously. No one in the entire world could measure to your tactical knowledge of the EVAs, and I’m sure that my… supporters will also see it that way.”

“In case that they need to destroy them?”

“I’m not privy to that kind of details yet,” Ritsuko replied, for she honestly didn’t know. “But if it will serve to assuage your fears, they appear far more interested in Ikari and SEELE than in the Children.”

“That doesn’t help,” Misato tightly shook her head. “Your third party could simply consider them a non-issue to eliminate.”

“Perhaps. But that’s all I have.”

“...Fine, let’s continue: as you said, I’m the Operations Director of NERV. But have you forgotten that I’m also stuck here?” Misato motioned with her hand, indicating the room around them. She then rested her elbows on her knees, expression turning downcast. “Besides, the last time I tried to make a difference I only made things worse. Kaji was wrong about me.”

And Ritsuko had to keep an aggravated sigh from slipping past her lips at her former friend’s words. The conversation wasn’t going in a direction she liked.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she countered. “The Third Child is alive.”

“Clinically so. I may not be a doctor but I still understand the reports, Ritsuko.”

“Then you’ve also understood the ones that mention the manner in which you saved Unit-02 and the Second Child, all while defeating the Angel? You won the day, Misato.”

The Major’s eyes suddenly rose to meet Ritsuko’s, caught somewhere between surprise and anger.

“You call that a victory?”

“Would you rather call the successful continuation of Mankind a failure?”

“For fuck’s sake, Ritsuko! You know what I mean!” Misato shot up to her feet, emphasising her next words with her fingers. “Kaji is dead. Shinji is gone. Asuka hates me. And after all this time I still can’t figure out what’s going on in Rei’s head!

“And not only that, now you come from out of nowhere! After being a willing instrument to most of the above since God knows how long, you suddenly come and tell me that you want my help?! That you want to do the complete opposite of everything you’ve been doing up until now?! And I’m expected to believe you?!”

“It’s never too late to start over. Isn’t that something Kaji would say?” Ritsuko’s words were as a calm sea to Misato’s raging typhoon, the blonde trying her hardest to claw for a positive outcome. “What will you do, otherwise? Stay here and wallow in your own self-pity? Cry about the Third Child’s condition? About the Second’s rapidly deteriorating stability?”

The Major’s eyes fell to the side, her hands clenching into tight fists.

“They…” Misato spoke, in barely more than a whisper. “They don’t deserve this...”

“...No one does. But this is a war, Misato, and they’re our soldiers,” Ritsuko pressed further forward, secretly wondering why she needed to remind a military commander of such a basic concept. “By the time that you started your little family project, you were fully aware of what could happen every time they were sent out to fight.”

“And that makes it right?!”

“That makes it necessary.”

Misato’s non-verbal response resounded throughout the entire cell, confirming Ritsuko’s fears: Misato Katsuragi would not be joining her.

“...You’re being childish, Misato.” The Head of Project-E backed away a step, a hand moving to caress her cheek. “Childish and short-sighted.”

“I’ll take that over heartless,” the Major spat, motioning towards the door with her head. “Now, if you’ve got nothing else to say, I’d like to be alone, friend.”

For a fleeting moment, a part of Ritsuko thought of clashing with Misato, of telling her about how her own revenge-driven motivations weren’t so different from the ones of the person she was calling ‘heartless’. Of how, for all of her moral manoeuvring, Misato had been equally as guilty and irresponsible on the treatment of the Children she suddenly seemed to care so much about.

But it was her professional side, logical as it always was, who told her that there was very little point to fighting that battle of wills. Her efforts and energy had no need to be wasted on misguided hypocrites, and it was because of that the Doctor forced her body to relax and return to its usual poise.

“...Unbelievable.”

And with no further words, a disappointed Ritsuko Akagi turned to leave the prison cell.

She had hoped that Misato could be reasonable, that she could look past the inconsequential issues and work towards a greater good, but her belief had been clearly misplaced. The Operations Director of NERV wouldn’t prove to be the asset Ritsuko had been looking for, not in the immediate future, at least. But although her loss was a considerable blow, it was by no means a critical one.

“Ikari will get you out of here the moment the next Angel arrives. He doesn’t have a replacement for you, and he can’t afford to find one so late into the game.” Ritsuko briefly looked over her shoulder after she pressed the intercom button, regarding the sorry sight of someone she had once respected. “Try to get your head out of your ass before then, Katsuragi.”

The door then opened and closed with a slam, leaving Misato Katsuragi alone with her thoughts once more.

That alliance won't really happen until after Ristuko... meeting with SEELE after the sixteen Angel dies.

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Mar 25, 2018 8:17 am

Update time today, although I'm afraid that this is one of those scenes that will probably benefit from some reworking when I begin re-editing the chapters for their posting in FFN or wherever somewhere down the line. It feels as if it's a little all over the place, and not to the same standards as the rest of the scenes.

Do let me know what you think, dear reader. Any feedback is, as always, more than welcome. :wink:

Chapter 5-3  SPOILER: Show
Shinji Ikari’s second expedition through the decrepit hospital was far more cautious than the first. After all, and contrary to the many past declarations of his redheaded roommate, he was not an idiot and more than capable of learning from his mistakes: which meant that rather than carelessly open any doors he came across, the Third Child was very methodical and safe in his investigations. Rather than hurry along the myriad of straight paths, Shinji Ikari made sure to check each and every one of his corners. And, finally, the young man made a point out of not yelling for help on the very unlikely chance that someone would respond.

Last time had more than established how that was a terrible idea, and while he hadn’t seen any proof of the medieval nightmare being around, it more than paid to be careful.

‘Why do I keep being sent here?’ the Third Child wondered, brushing his fingers against one of the faded nameplates. ‘And why does this creepy place exist in Asuka’s mind? Did… something happen to her in a hospital?’

It was no secret to anyone with a modicum of perception that Asuka Langley-Sohryu wasn’t exactly fond of hospitals, after all. Every admission into the NERV medical wing had always been combined with a distinct increase in anxiousness, which generally made the redhead very cranky.

More than usual, anyway.

Shinji sighed and walked away from the decrepit door, continuing on his way and devoting a part of his mental prowess towards trying to figure out the mystery wrapped within an enigma that was his current situation. Needless to say, though, the young man’s efforts yielded fairly lacking results.

“I should probably ask that Asuka from before about this when I get out of here,” Shinji considered, doing his best to ignore how easily an ‘if’ could fit into that thought. “She seemed to know a lot about what’s going on in here.

“I guess that makes sense. I mean, who better than Asuka to tell me about what’s going on in the inside of Asuka’s mind, right?” the young man groaned, tiredly shaking his head. “Gods, this is confusing…”

It was then, however, that the Third Child noticed someone staring sharply at him, and when his eyes rose to find the source, Shinji spotted a little girl in a dark dress standing a dozen steps further down the hallway. Alone.

Once again, Kensuke’s damned ghost stories came to the forefront of his mind, which, coupled with his previous experience in the hospital, made it bad enough that Shinji would have certainly not taken his chances with the new arrival had it not been for the telltale red hair.

“Asuka…?”

Shinji stared back at the little girl, amazed for a short moment at how finding different versions of his roommate wasn’t doing much to surprise him anymore. At his call, however, Asuka’s young face shifted from the ever-present annoyance the Third Child had come to associate with her and took on all the surprise that should have been his.

‘Is this the same Asuka I saw the last time?’ Shinji scrutinized the little girl, comparing her to the short glimpses he’d caught prior. ‘I thought she looked taller...’

But then the little Asuka turned on her heel and disappeared around a corner, cutting the young man’s comparisons short.

“H-Hey!” Shinji called out, moving to follow. “Asuka, wait up!”

However, this time around the Third Child made sure to keep a respectable distance away from his target, close enough that he would not lose her, but far enough that he would have time to react to whatever this realm decided to throw his way in a worst case scenario. A single instance of seeing his life flash before his eyes was quite enough for him, thank you very much.

Besides, while the last time it had been a rusty knight hot on his heels, there was no guarantee that things would be exactly the same as then. There could be a red EVA roaming around the hospital for all Shinji knew, and he had no intention to find out.

‘...Speaking of, was that thing a part of Asuka, too?’ the young man considered, recalling the other Asuka’s confusing explanation about Aspects and whatnot. ‘No, it couldn’t be. Asuka is angry a lot of the time, but it wasn’t just angry. It was… something else.’

Deciding to leave the theorizing for another time, Shinji tailed the little Asuka until she guided him to a corridor he recognised. A hallway that looked in distinctly better shape than the others he’d traversed, now that he noticed, and that had seen the Third Child go from one end to the other in record time not that long ago. Two times, and in opposite directions.

The feeling of déja vu became even stronger when Shinji saw the little Asuka enter the same door that had been entered the last time, too. A fact that, knowing what had happened then, made the Third Child brace himself for a chilling scream.

But one that never came, much to the young man’s surprise.

Caution winning over curiosity, Shinji tiptoed forward until he arrived at the rough spot where he had once been forced to stop and then became still as a statue. He held his breath and counted to ten, half of him expecting the door that had just been used to explode outwards as it had done in the past but, once again, his assumptions were proven wrong.

Nevertheless, the young man didn’t decide to test his luck for quite a while longer. After all, it wasn’t like Asuka could go anywhere, and Shinji didn’t feel like proving that he could trip on the same stone twice.

Ultimately, though, Shinji slowly walked over to the closed door, the series of cautious actions and absent consequences repeating itself ad infinitum until the young man’s hand finally rested on top of the door’s handle. Getting himself ready for anything, the Third Child worked the handle...

...and the door refused to budge, much to his disappointment.

“Weird, why won’t the door open?” Shinji muttered to himself, recalling how no other door in the hospital had barred his way. “...Did she lock it?”

“Of course it won’t open,” an unexpected voice answered his rhetorical question from somewhere behind him. “What? Did you think that you could just waltz into anyone’s deepest secrets?”

“Huh?”

“Well...” before he could turn around, Shinji felt fingers grab a hold of the neck of his shirt. “Turns out you can’t.”

And Shinji barely managed to catch a glimpse of red before being slammed against a wall, finding himself face to face with someone he didn’t need much time to identify:

“By the way, who the hell are you?”

Red hair and blue eyes… check.

Plugsuit… check.

Threatening growl… check.

Wanton violence… double check.

This was Asuka, all right. Maybe even his Asuka; Shinji’s aching neck and back certainly agreed with that last assessment.

“Ouch! Asuka, that hurts!”

But the plugsuit-clad redhead paid no attention to Shinji’s complaints, merely tightening her hold on the young man’s shirt.

“Stop bitching and start talking, before I make you-!”

A fearsome roar and the boom of something being torn to pieces swallowed the rest of Asuka’s threat and, as one, two heads turned to look down the hallway the noise was coming from, one far more terrified than the other.

“...Right, she’s still rampaging about. Tch, and we had made so much progress…” Asuka grumbled, before looking at Shinji out of the corner of her eye. “...Let’s take this somewhere else.”

And in a literal blink of Shinji’s eyes, the hospital corridor vanished and was replaced by surroundings that the Third Child had grown to become intimately familiar with. Surroundings that, for a change, had nothing to do with either fog or rain.

For Shinji Ikari was now standing within the EVA gantries. And much to his dismay, the idea of a red EVA appearing from out of nowhere suddenly became a lot more likely.

“...Okay, let’s continue: Who. Are. You?”

The fact that the collar of his shirt was still in the grip of said EVA’s designated Pilot didn’t do much to assuage his fears, either.

“I-I’m Shinji! Shinji Ikari!”

“I can see that, stupid, that’s not what I’m talking about: you sure look like one of the spineless idiots that used to wander around here a lot, but every single piece of information I have on you tells me you’re not. What’s more, everything points to how you shouldn’t be, period.” Shinji’s eyes widened as he saw Asuka pull her right fist back. “So you better start enlightening me before I decide to trust my data.”

And at the sight of the growling girl and the prepped fist, Shinji felt something well up within him. Something that he hadn’t felt in weeks, ever since before the advent of the Twelfth, starting as a pinprick in his chest and quickly swelling to reach every single pore in his body:

An irrepressible urge to butt heads with Asuka. An urge that Shinji wasn’t completely sure where it had come from.

“And what do you want me to say!? I don’t know what’s going on, either!” Shinji exploded, pushing against the railing behind him to get back on proper footing. “Ever since I ended up here I’ve only been lost, chased and... made fun of, and the only explanation for all of it I’ve heard sounds just… insane!”

Maybe it was something about the way in which she expressed herself, sounding so like the Asuka he knew, always a hair’s breadth away from biting his head off; or maybe it was his own mind’s way of throwing in the towel and asking for a recess but, in any case, Shinji’s outburst was certainly something that Asuka had not expected, at least if her shocked silence was anything to go by.

Not that the Third Child registered it, busy as he was in going through his personal meltdown process, other than to instinctively leverage on the weakened grip on his collar.

“I’ve had it with all of it! I’m sick of the fog, I’m sick of the hospitals, I’m sick of all the Asukas running around and not making any damn sense!” the Third Child shut his eyes tightly, showing his left cheek to his attacker. “Hell, you threatening to punch me like this is the closest I’ve gotten to something I know! So just- just do it! See what I care!”

But the blow Shinji had been expecting didn’t come right away, a frown growing on Asuka’s face, instead.

“What the...? Y-You’re just a Shinji, you’re not supposed to-” the redhead then shook her head and tensed back up, the moment of confusion gone. “Actually, screw that! If you want a fist to the face so much, then I’ll be happy to oblige!”

“WAIT!” a third voice suddenly came from the right, stopping Asuka mid-strike. “Y-You are getting conflicting readings because he isn’t any kind of Aspect!”

And, in unison, Shinji and the plugsuited redhead turned to meet the new arrival: an Asuka that, by all accounts, seemed to be the self-proclaimed important Asuka Shinji had met last time. She had foregone her previous clothing for a familiar yellow sundress, though.

“Oh, the brat finally showed up,” Pilot Asuka groaned, narrowing her eyes at the third comer. “Did you get bored of playing with your toys already?”

A comment that made Asuka recoil back as if struck, before she began to stomp her foot on the floor.

“I-I’m not a brat!”

“Right. Tell me that again when the first thing you do after losing your admin rights isn’t to build yourself a multi-coloured storybook farm. Seriously, how childish can you get?” Pilot Asuka’s voice then turned mocking. “Did it at least make you feel better? Make the booboos go away?”

“Grr…!” Asuka redoubled her stomping, hard enough that it made the platform tremble a little bit. “Why do you always have to be so mean?!”

“Because someone has to. Not all of us can afford to be as naïve as you, you know? As if that was something brats would understand.”

It appeared for a moment that Asuka would counter with a rebuttal of her own, but she decided to remain silent at the last second. A sight that only made her counterpart scoff in disdain.

“U-Umm…” Shinji eventually broke the silence, tapping the hand of the Asuka that was still holding onto his collar. “...C-Can you let me go now?”

“And where did all your guts go?” said redhead then turned towards him, somehow looking even more angry than she had been until now. “Pff. Boring.”

And with a pull and a shove, Pilot Asuka separated Shinji from the railing he’d been pressed against and violently pushed him towards her double, the Third Child barely managing to maintain his balance.

“A-Are you all right, Shinji?!” Asuka quickly caught the unbalanced young man, before sending a hot glare in her counterpart’s direction. “You didn’t need to do that!”

“Give me a break, it’s not like he’s going to shatter into tiny little pieces,” Pilot Asuka then motioned with her head towards the Third Child, who had just quickly jumped away from his helper’s embrace. “Now, you were saying something about this Shinji not being like the others...?”

“Y-Yeah! But tell me where he was first!”

“Sure,” the Pilot shrugged with a roll of her eyes. “He was at the hospital.”

“A-At the hospital?!” Asuka exclaimed, mouth wide. But her surprise quickly morphed into anger. “You- You nincompoop! Why did you bring him there?!”

“Bring him? I didn’t bring him. Unlike some, I don’t make a habit out of wasting my administrative efforts on superfluous bullcrap,” the Pilot countered, making Asuka flinch. “And before you ask, no, chances are our dearest third wheel had nothing to do with it, either.”

“What? And you expect me to believe that he just appeared there following a grand-scale REM transformation?” Asuka rallied, pointing an accusing finger at her other. “I don’t think so! You had something to do with it!”

“And why would I do that?”

The finger fell, and with it whatever energy Asuka had managed to muster behind her counter.

“Huh?”

“You heard me,” the Pilot repeated, fixing Asuka with a hard stare. “I didn’t even know what the anomaly was until I checked it. Why would I toy with a REM transformation and bring an unknown into the one place we have all agreed not to mess with?”

“B-Because…” Asuka tried her best to come up with a comeback to her double’s admittedly sensible argument. “B-Because you’re a meanie…?”

But, disappointingly, her best effort proved only good enough to earn her a light smack on the top of her head.

“Try again, brat. Besides, we’ve been too busy running damage control until now to even think of handling our other duties.” Pilot Asuka then motioned towards Shinji. “Now, about this guy...?”

Shinji and Asuka shared a brief look and, at her nod, they spent the next few minutes trying to explain the situation to the best of their abilities. From the Angel attack, to their meeting, and to Shinji’s sudden disappearance. At the end of their tale, Pilot Asuka’s expression had turned a nice shade of sceptic.

“So you’re telling me that he’s the real deal? The Shinji Ikari that Asuka interacts with every day?”

The plugsuited redhead moved closer to the Third Child, giving him an appraising look over that made Shinji’s feeling of dejá vu return with a vengeance.

“...You really don’t look like much, even in person,” the Pilot sentenced, causing Shinji’s head to hang a little bit. “I honestly wouldn’t buy into you being the great EVA Pilot that you are if I hadn’t seen it myself.”

“...Thanks?”

“Whatever,” she scoffed, stabbing a finger at Shinji’s chest. “And while this talk is nice and all, why don’t you hurry up and get out? You’re giving us a whole lot of trouble in here.”

“I would if I could!” the young man countered, gesturing with his arms at the area around him. “But how am I going to do that?”

“True. I guess we don’t have a door around that could easily get you to where you belong,” the Pilot sighed, scratching the back of her head. “Maybe that wouldn’t even be enough, considering how you were looking the last time.”

“You know what happened to me?!”

“...And you don’t?” the redhead blinked, slightly taken aback by how quickly the Third Child had shifted gears. “From what we know, it had something to do with-”

But the Pilot suddenly cut herself short much to Shinji’s frustration, eyes moving skyward for a second before she raised a finger.

“Hm? Hold on a minute.” Asuka then turned around, producing a cellphone from out of thin air and bringing it to her ear. “Yeah, I’m here. What is it?”

And just as quickly, the Pilot pulled the phone away from her head with a cringe. Whoever was on the other end of the line was loud, loud enough that Shinji could easily identify them as female.

Not that the Third Child would have needed a clue to make that assumption, at this point.

“Wait, slow down,” Asuka demanded of her caller. “What do you mean that a minor Aspect has just entered HQ?”

Less frantically than before, the voice began to retell her report to an increasingly confused Pilot, but the confusion of the plugsuited redhead wasn’t what grabbed Shinji’s attention the most: that honour went to how the Third Child noticed the Asuka beside him suddenly go stiff as a board.

“She’s challenging the ‘Dragon King’ and his two lieutenants...? Wrecking and looting all the hardware she finds along the way and calling it ‘Hero Tax’? The hell are you talking about?” Asuka echoed, her voice sounding more and more suspicious by the second. “Look, I’m busy. If this is a joke-”

At least until she turned to face them once again and her eyes fell on her twin. After all, Asuka had taken to doing a very obvious attempt at concealment. With whistling and everything.

Which, needless to say, had the opposite effect on the one she’d been trying to fool. With a furious roar, the phone she’d been holding flew out the side of the platform and vanished into the depths below, before the enraged Pilot charged straight for her double with fist held high...

“The hell did you do, you stupid brat?!”

...and struck Shinji Ikari square in the face. A young man who, upon being unwillingly propelled by the Mk.1 Sohryu Fist Engine, relished in the joy of flight for the briefest of instants before falling down to the floor, groaning in pain.

“Shinji!”

“Oh crap, why did he-?” the Pilot’s eyes widened, looking back and forth from the spot where the Third Child had landed and the place where he had jumped in front of her strike. “I… I-I didn’t mean to-”

“What is wrong with you?!” her double demanded, and the plugsuit-clad Asuka blinked herself back into a semblance of awareness. Quickly, she noticed her other helping Shinji back to a sitting position, as the young man massaged the left side of his face. He was in quite obvious pain, but it didn’t look like anything important had been broken, thankfully.

Her twin, on the other hand, looked angry like she had honestly never seen her. Which only served to rekindle the flames of her own indignation.

“W-What is wrong with me?! I should be asking what is wrong with you!” the Pilot countered, every bit as furious. “Weren’t you satisfied with forcing your stupid plans forward?! Now you have to throw a tantrum and wreck HQ because the rest of us don’t want to put up with your shit?! You only have yourself to blame for what happened to that moron!”

What?! I wasn’t the one who punched him!”

“As if that mattered! Would we have been in this situation in the first place if you weren’t such a goddamn child?! If you didn’t think that pulling a prank now of all times was such a great idea?!” The Pilot turned around with a huff and pulled out another device. She began to brush her fingers over its screen, her expression darkening as lines upon lines of text scrolled past the glass. “Scheiße, the damage will probably take forever to fix! Gott, that’s why you should never be left in charge of anything, brat! You always mess everything up!” The redhead then faced the pair once more and angrily pointed a finger at the sitting Third Child. “Now pick up that idiot and get the hell out of here before I force you out!”

“You don’t need to tell me twice, you big bully! I hope that she finds you and gives you a big whack over the head!” Asuka shot back, grabbing a proper hold of the young man and furiously raising her own fist. “And don’t you even think of coming near Shinji again, or I will be the one to knock your lights out!”

And without offering the time for a witty comeback, Asuka closed her eyes before the two disappeared without a trace. To where, the remaining redhead didn’t need more than a single chance to correctly guess, not that she was planning on following.

She had far more pressing and difficult matters to attend to for the immediate future.

“...Tch. What a stupid brat,” the Pilot grumbled, taking a second to gauge where her attention would be needed the most. “I sure hope she’ll at least try harder than the last time.”

Her ill-humoured words fading into the distance, the plugsuit-clad redhead disappeared into thin air like her twin had mere moments before, hoping that this so-called ‘heroine’ wouldn’t prove as dim-witted as some other people she could mention.


>-O]|[O-<​


“Are you all right, Shinji?”

Shinji suddenly found himself resting on something soft and comfortable, probably a bed, if he had to guess. More than likely, he quickly figured, he had been caught in yet another one of those weird shifts like the one the Pilot Asuka had pulled off earlier, which probably meant that he was safely back at the farm again. And with no nausea to speak of, to boot.

It would have been funny to think about how used he was getting to such sudden transitions if it didn’t hurt to do so, really.

“My head hurts…”

The Third Child stated the obvious, continuing to rub the left side of his head. His skull hurt something fierce, not quite as badly as it had during the fight with the Third Angel, but quite a bit worse than when Toji had punched him, or anytime Asuka had felt a more direct conveying of her displeasure over something or another was in order.

...Shinji had quite an extensive knowledge of head injuries, now that he thought about it. Although that probably wasn’t a good thing, especially since thinking still hurt.

“No wonder it does. She didn’t hold anything back.” Asuka muttered bitterly, before she sighed and sat down in a chair at his bedside. The redhead then leant forward to check him for injuries. “...You didn’t have to do that, you know? It’s not like she can permanently hurt me or anything. She’s always like that.”

“...Sorry.”

Still, and while getting in the middle of the incoming attack hadn’t probably been his finest idea, the Third Child surprised himself by realising that he would do so again, if presented with the same choice. After all, Shinji didn’t really understand what the conflict between the two Asukas had been about, but he wasn’t about to sit still and let the one person who had helped him in this place so far get a punch to the face.

“Don’t say you’re sorry,” Asuka chided him softly, smiling as she took a better look at his eye. “I appreciate what you did, silly.”

And as the healthy teenage boy that he was, Shinji noticed the change in the girl before him. Because while the Third Child had always been aware of how pretty Asuka was, he had never thought that she could look… radiant. It was mind blowing what a difference a genuine smile could do on someone like her, really, and the young man’s brain and hormones were more than happy to have him commit the image to memory.

After all, the archives of his mind weren’t entirely sure about whether such an earth-shattering event would happen twice in their lifetime, considering that this first taste had required a literal dive into Asuka’s psyche and a healthy punch from a might-be fragment of her personality. Replicating a situation on the same level of ridiculous could be a hard thing to do.

...

...And perhaps it would be for the best that it was so.

“She…” Shinji began, coughing into his hand to break away from the strange train of thought. “She knew something.”

“And we’ll find out what it is, don’t worry,” Asuka reassured him, deeming her checkup complete and standing up from her chair. “But for now, you should get some sleep, Shinji. You’re looking terrible, and not just because of the eye. I might use the time to lie down a little bit, myself, but I’ll still wake you up if something important happens, all right?”

For a second, Shinji considered asking Asuka what the point of sleeping was for her if, by her own admission, she couldn’t actually get tired, but the Third Child’s brain not-so-kindly reminded him with a quick stab of discomfort that he was too exhausted to argue. Still, and while he failed miserably at stifling a yawn, Shinji did find the time for one final (and somewhat worrying) question that tied into the sleeping arrangements.

“Okay, but where are you going to sleep? Wasn’t there only a single room…?” The young man asked, recalling the layout of the farmhouse. He then groaned tiredly when he remembered yet another important detail about the person beside him. “Don’t tell me: I’m going to find a second room the very moment I wake up, right?”

And at that, Asuka merely laughed and ruffled his hair.

“Good boy.”
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

Currently working on a new project: An Insider's Look


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