An Insider's Look

Everything Evangelion Fanfiction related.

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xanderkh
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby xanderkh » Wed May 09, 2018 6:34 pm

Considering how varied Asuka is, and how varied her aspects thus far are, that's a pretty impossible question to answer. XD I don't think I could narrow it down to something akin to the Emotions from Inside Out. This is something I think I'll more than likely will be surprised. XD
"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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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun May 13, 2018 11:41 am

Shorter update this week, I'm afraid. This was one scene I had initially wanted to throw in together with the previous one as a way of finishing the chapter, but it just wasn't ready in time. Probably for the best, since I wouldn't have had anything to update with today, otherwise. The next update will be meatier to make up for it, I promise. ^_^

Chapter 6-4  SPOILER: Show
Asuka walked briskly through the hospital wing of NERV HQ, the only thing keeping her from outright running through it being the succession of miffed nurses that always seemed to appear out of nowhere and get in her way the moment she started to jog. Despite the irritating nuisances, however, getting to room 303 as quickly as possible remained her clear objective, a goal that she had even stood up Doctor Akagi for.

‘Your best sync score ever and you decide to come here instead of going to the debriefing, all while fully knowing that Doctor McBitchFace won’t be happy about any of the above,’ the Second Child mentally chastised herself. She kept on moving forward, nonetheless. ‘Watch yourself be kicked out of the program because you just had to come see for yourself, Asuka. You really live up to your genius, sometimes.’

Only a few moments after the last of her self-criticism Asuka rounded a corner into a familiar hallway, identifying her destination just a few doors down the way. Taking a deep breath to prepare herself, the redhead stomped until she stood before room 303 and, perhaps with a fair amount more force than was entirely necessary, threw the room’s door open and charged inside.

Only to freeze in place an instant later.

“Pilot Sohryu.” The much taller man inside stated rather than asked, not turning around from his vigil over the sleeping Third Child.

And it was then that Asuka found herself in one of those rare situations she couldn’t figure out how to deal with. After all, the sight before her topped quite a few of the weirdness records that Ayanami had managed to set up just the day before.

“C-Commander… Ikari? What are you-?” Asuka stuttered, the moment she finally found her voice. She then quickly kept herself from putting her foot in her mouth and scrambled to get into something barely resembling proper military respect. “I-I mean…”

“At ease, Second Child,” the Commander gravely cut her off, turning his head to regard her over his left shoulder. “What are you doing here? I received the initial report on the testing results not that long ago. I expected you to be present at the debriefing at this time.”

“Well, y-yes, but… ” the redhead trailed off and swallowed tightly, wondering just how big a mess she had managed to land herself in.

‘But what? But I skipped it and rushed to see Shinji because I heard his voice inside my head?’ the young girl inwardly groaned, kicking herself one more time for not waiting an hour or two before coming. ‘Sure, Asuka. Tell the Commander you’re going freaking schizo! That will be good for you!’

“I-I... forgot something!” Asuka quickly made up. “I forgot something... important! Yeah, that’s it!”

“Important enough to forego your obligations?”

“Y-Yeah...?”

Asuka looked away, hiding a slight cringe. The Second Child then scrambled for ways of improving on her lie, preferably ones that didn’t dig a deeper hole for herself, but the ideas were not forthcoming.

Not a situation you wanted to be in when you had the Supreme Commander of NERV right in front of you.

“...I see.” The taller man eventually responded when it became obvious no further explanation would reach his ears, even though his narrowed eyes left it clear that he didn’t believe a word Asuka had said. Gendo then turned and walked past the redhead and towards the door, pausing just as he was about to open it. “No matter, good work on today’s test. Keep the effort up.”

“Y-Yes, sir!” and the redhead followed him with her eyes, more than a bit shocked at the development. “Th-Thank you, sir!”

The door slid closed with no further words, and the girl’s entire body sagged forward the moment that it did, letting out a deep, drawn out sigh. That exchange had been much too close for comfort, as far as she was concerned.

“Was he… visiting Shinji?” Asuka wondered to herself when she regained some presence of mind. She then blinked and turned towards the door again when yet another impossibility crossed her mind. “...And did he just encourage me?”

‘Of all the people to validate your efforts, huh? Not Misato, not that fake doctor, not... Kaji. It had to be freaking Commander Ikari,’ Asuka shook her head, feeling torn between amusement and disappointment before she shifted her gaze towards Shinji. ‘...And that’s without going into why he was here in the first place.’

“Wow, never thought he gave a damn,” the redhead scoffed, moving to the edge of the bed. “Looks like you’ve got me beat at shitty fathers, too, Third.

“And speaking of, you’re still sleeping, huh?” Asuka glanced at the different instruments strapped to the slumbering young man, quickly confirming that that was indeed the case. A disappointed sigh soon escaped her. “...Of course you are. What? Did you really expect him to be up and about, Asuka?”

With a frustrated groan, the Second Child grabbed a nearby chair and sat on it, idly going through the events that had ended up bringing her back to room 303. There was the conversation with Akagi and the synch-test, of course, and how she had decided to trust Ayanami’s word and try to ‘reach out’ to the EVA, no matter how stupid it had made her feel for the next hour or so.

And then, for a moment, she could have sworn to have heard Shinji’s voice, shortly after the brief stab of pain in her forehead that had startled Ibuki.

But that couldn’t be... right?

“...It must have been my imagination. Probably lack of proper sleep or something like that,” Asuka concluded, leaning a bit closer. “...But it seriously felt as if-”

“Hmm… He’s kinda cute,” a second voice suddenly cut in from behind her. “Is he your boyfriend?”

Asuka quickly turned around in response, uncomfortable hospital plastic chair clattering to the floor...

...only to find another face a hair’s breadth away from hers.

“W-W-Who the hell are you?!” Asuka exclaimed, shoving the invader of her personal space away and successfully driving them back with a satisfying yelp.

The Second Child then narrowed her eyes and took a good look at them: the one that had managed to sneak up on her was another girl around her age, with long, maroon-coloured hair styled into twin-tails and wearing red glasses, as well as a... garish bubblegum pink plugsuit.

The latter alone gave Asuka all the information her genius needed to know.

“Hm?” the intruding girl blinked in surprise at the rough treatment, before a carefree smile spread across her face. A stark contrast to the scowl she was now receiving. “Oh, sorry, sorry! Did I scare you?”

She then threw her plugsuited hand forward, offering it for a handshake.

“I’m the Fifth Child, Mari Makinami! Nice to meetcha!”
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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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun May 20, 2018 4:39 am

Update time, and it is an extra large one, as promised!

By the way, remember that time I mentioned the possibility of an update not happening one of these weeks? Well, that time might very well be next week. Several RL issues have kept me from getting much writing done this weekend, and I've gotta get my reports done for the end of year evaluation meetings sometime next week, so no large-scale writing is gonna happen in the next few days, either.

So, yeah. Best case scenario I can whip up something short for an update next week, but I wouldn't hold my breath for it unless you like going blue in the face. :tongue:

Chapter 7-1  SPOILER: Show
To the credit of Mari Makinami, the Fifth Child, she stood her ground stoically for the tense seconds that followed her greeting. Even under the sweltering look that the redhead was throwing at her, her arm stayed outstretched and her face remained inviting, although, to be completely honest, the newcomer felt like her smile was starting to strain just a little bit.

She tried her hardest to keep it from showing, though. After all, first impressions were important.

“You’re the one that was sent to replace me, aren’t you?”

At least until she heard the almost palpable accusation in Asuka’s first words. Mari withdrew her hand with a small sigh. Despite her best efforts, no handshakes were going to be had that day, apparently.

“I guess I am. Although it looks like I won’t be replacing anyone after that last showing,” the Fifth Child shrugged casually, her smile weakening but not leaving her face. “Works for me. I didn’t like the idea of taking anyone’s place, anyway.”

“Why don’t you go ahead and pack your things, then?” the redhead pressed on, drawing closer until her scowl was right in front of Mari’s face. “I’m not going to be dropping back down and letting you into my Unit-02, now or in the future.”

“…Oookay? Why so mad?” The other girl blinked, slightly taken aback. Although she showed no signs of discomfort other than the disappearance of her smile. “I’m just here to help, you know? What with you guys taking a few bad hits lately and all that. I guess someone up there thought it would be a good idea to make sure there’s someone ready to step up in case that… you know.”

The maroon-haired girl elaborated on her last point by doing some explosion motions with her hands, complete with sound effects. Efforts that only yielded her another annoyed look from Asuka.

“That’s not going to happen.”

“Well, I sure hope not,” Mari agreed, growing a carefree grin. “I mean, hearing that I was going to stay a backup was a huge relief, to be honest. I’ve never been in an actual EVA-sized combat situation before, you know? Not outside the sims, anyway.”

“Oh, great.” The Fifth Child watched as Asuka’s face wrinkled even more at her admission, and her more scientifically curious side wondered whether the Second Child’s animosity had an actual limit it could hit. “Another greenhorn.”

“And what did you expect? Have you heard of any other kaiju attacks anywhere in the world? You know that stuff only happens in Japan,” Mari shot back, sidestepping the fuming redhead and moving closer to the bed. “In any case, chances are I’ll just end up being a backup for the Pilot of Unit-01, so your precious EVA is safe from my nefarious presence.

“And speaking of, this is the renowned Third Child, huh?”

“You know him?” Asuka questioned, her eyes hardening at the word ‘renowned’.

“And who in NERV doesn’t?” the twin-tailed girl replied cheekily, hovering over the sleeping young man. “It’s not like he’s the rookie that’s leading the scoreboard in terms of Angel kills, right? A real outlier?”

‘A real pain in the ass is what he is,’ the Second Child scoffed, looking away with a small scowl. ‘…Figures he’d be the famous one. Damn showoff.’

“I thought he’d be more imposing, though. And more awake,” Mari eventually spoke, the slight hint of disappointment that seeped into her words bringing Asuka’s attention back to her. “What happened to him?”

“No one knows, some sort of weird coma,” the redhead briefly grumped, looking away once more for a different reason. “He’s been like that for a while now.”

“Hmm… So he’s kinda like the guy version of Sleeping Beauty, then?” Mari proposed, and Asuka had to admit that it was indeed an apt comparison. The redhead’s attention was then brought back to the bed when she heard the tell-tale rustling of bedsheets, her blue eyes widening like plates when she spotted the other girl drawing closer to Shinji’s face with a wide grin on her own. “…Hey, think he’ll wake up if I give him a kiss?”

“W-What the hell are you doing?!”

Asuka’s voice boomed across the small room, loud enough that she could have sworn it echoed. She also found herself hovering above Shinji’s bed and about to push the invading girl off of it, despite having no recollection of having willed her body forward.

Mari Makinami, for her part, stared at her in perplexed silence for a second or two before she broke out into loud laughter. That didn’t help matters much either, as far as the redhead was concerned.

“Come on, I’m just kidding! You really took that seriously?” the maroon-haired girl pushed herself back, her laughing slowly dying out into chuckles. She then raised her eyebrow at the other girl, her look turning curious. “Why are you getting so worked up about it, anyway?”

Asuka jumped off the bed and felt her face heat up at the loaded question. She then snarled and opened her mouth to tell the twin-tailed girl to mind her own damn business, but her best efforts ended up as little more than incoherent babbling because of a sudden lack of cooperation on the part of her tongue.

The Second Child’s face heated up even further.

“…Oh, I see. I guess I wasn’t so off the mark before~” Mari rested her head on her hands and admired the reactions, sing-song words filling the room as a Cheshire smile spread all over her face. “So the mean and serious Second Child does have a heart somewhere in there. That’s good to know!”


>-O]|[O-<​


Shinji Ikari stepped out of the farm and into the fresh outside to enjoy the lack of constant rain a little bit more than he had been able to, before. The young man figured that he couldn’t really do much other than thinking about his future plans until Asuka showed up, anyway, and doing so with the feeling of grass between his fingers and a nice breeze hitting his face sounded like a better idea than doing so inside.

At least, until something struck the top of his head.

“...Again, Ace?” the Third Child grumbled, rubbing the affected part. “Can you please stop throwing things at my... head?”

Shinji fixated his gaze on the object of his afflictions, quickly noting that it wasn’t one of the wooden chips the Pilot had attacked him with before, but rather a very small stone. Also, there seemed to be no actual sign of Ace being around (mainly due to the lack of immediate taunting comeback that Shinji would have expected out of her), so it truly seemed as if the redhead was completely innocent this time. Curious, the Third child picked the pebble up to examine it a little bit closer...

...and then let go of it almost instantly.

“Uwah! Hot!”

The little rock felt as if it had spent half an hour inside a full-power oven, and Shinji couldn’t help but be a little surprised at that. Just when he thought he had grown accustomed to most of the things Asuka’s brain could throw his way, there always seemed to be something new to see.

Another pebble landing a few steps away from him interrupted the young man’s musings, followed by a second and then a third. All the while, Shinji’s brain went through the causes that could have created such a blazing hot stone, not really liking the one that had made it to the forefront.

The Third Child liked it even less when he heard a loud rumbling in the distance.

“Is that... smoke?”

The young man quickly identified a gray plume raising toward the sky, a very bad feeling forming in the pit of his stomach. And then, as if to confirm it, a mountain erupted from the distant ground, bellowing smoke, fire and ashes all around it.

Come on!” Shinji screamed, breaking into a run in the opposite direction when he saw a few stray and bigger rocks strike the earth uncomfortably close. “You’ve gotta be kidding me!”


>-O]|[O-<​

"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST SAY?!”

Faster than she could blink, Mari found herself pinned to the wall by an irate redhead, barely managing to catch her hands with her own. In between doing her best to keep her face from being struck, though, the Fifth Child couldn’t help but wonder that Asuka was pretty strong for someone that thin.

“T-That the Second Child has a very big heart and is not at all prone to violence?” Mari tried to defuse the situation, succeeding about as well as she had expected. “Don’t you think you’re overreacting just a little bit?”

“I DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THE THIRD, ALRIGHT?!” the redhead roared, failing to register any part of what she’d been told. “WHY DON’T YOU MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS, YOU FOUR-EYED BI-?!”

“What are you two doing?!” at least, until another voice suddenly cut in, freezing Asuka into a halt. “Can’t you see that this is a hospital?! If you have a problem with each other, take it outside!”

Slowly, Mari turned to regard the newcomer, just as the Second Child did the same: it was a hospital nurse. One of many, she supposed. And a woman that had met the redhead in front of her already, if the way her eyes narrowed was any indication.

“Sohryu-san again? For the love of-” The nurse let out a deep sigh, bringing a hand to grab the bridge of her nose. She then fixed Asuka with a frustrated look. “How many times do we have to tell you to keep your voice down? The patients need their rest!”

“But-... But I didn’t-” Asuka let go of the Fifth Child as if she had been on fire, before frantically gesturing at her with a hand. “It’s all her fault! She-”

“I don’t care about any excuses, Sohryu-san, rules are rules,” the nurse interrupted, further indicating that she was dangerously approaching the end of her patience. “We might have to forbid you from visiting if these constant altercations of yours keep up.”

And at the older woman’s words, Mari saw the Second Child’s expression go from shock, to dread, to grief and finally to anger all in the span of three seconds That was all before she balled her fists and stormed past the nurse, almost leaving a fiery trail in her wake.

“Fine, whatever! See what I care!”

The Fifth Child barely had enough time to brace herself before the door slammed shut.


>-O]|[O-<​


“Hey, wait! I said wait a minute!” Mari’s voice called out from behind her, hurried steps letting Asuka know that the annoying girl was in close pursuit. “Sorry that I made you angry!”

“Screw you.”

“No thanks. And I didn’t mean anything bad by what I said, honest! I just thought it would be a nice icebreaker, you know?” the twin-tailed girl fell into step beside Asuka, easily keeping up with the redhead’s blazing pace. “Buuut I guess I stumbled into a sensitive subject, instead. Sorry again.

“But hey! I talked to the nurse lady, okay? Told her it was all my fault. Which it was. She’ll overlook it this time.”

“I don’t care,” the Second Child gruffly stated, although Mari didn’t fail to catch a very slight relaxing of her shoulders. “Stop. Following me.”

“Sorry, no can do. The Doc told me to ‘go and ingratiate yourself with the other Pilots’, you see?” the Fifth Child explained, smoothly transitioning into her carefree ways. “But since Bluebird disappeared on me and the Third’s on sleep mode you’re sort of the only one that’s left right now.”

“Well in that case, don’t feel the need to stick to your orders. Go away and I’ll just say that you and I had a great time if anyone asks.”

“That’s so nice of you! But I was looking forward to actually spending some time with the Wünderkid of NERV-Germany too, you know?” Mari replied, putting on a winning smile. “Thought I could learn a thing or two from you, Senpai!”

The redhead felt her hands clench and her teeth grind against each other at every single one of the Fifth Child’s quirks, both verbal and physical. The new arrival truly had a talent for pissing her off that Asuka had always thought exclusive to Shinji and Misato.

“Okay, first of all, don’t call me that,” the Second Child growled, moving to bar the other girl’s way. “And to follow up on that why on Earth would I want to be your friend?”

“Why not? Aren’t you friends with the First Child?” the twin-tailed girl argued with a shrug, casually deflecting Asuka’s hostility. “Besides, isn’t it important to have people you can trust watching your back in combat?”

“You’re in the bench. You’re not going to see combat.”

“Eh, I don’t mean to jinx it but you never know when that might chan-” Mari suddenly gasped, her eyes catching sight of something down the hallway. She then grew a wide smile, the maroon-haired girl waving at whatever it was that she had seen. “Oh, hey! Bluebird, over here!”

Rolling her eyes at both the twin-tailed girl’s non-existent attention span and at how blatantly she was now being ignored, Asuka turned around to look at what it was that had grabbed Mari’s eye: the redhead quickly found it to be Rei Ayanami, probably on her way to visit the slumbering Third Child. The bluenette regarded the newcomer with a curious look.

“Are you talking to me, Fifth Child?”

“No, I’m talking to the giant blue bird that’s right behind you,” Mari snarked with a deadpan look, only to feel the urge to palm her face when Rei shifted to look behind her. “Don’t turn around! Of course I’m talking to you!”

“But ‘Bluebird’ is not my name,” Rei argued, walking closer to the pair. “Why do you insist on calling me that?”

“I don’t know. ‘Cause Bluebirds are pretty flowers that are blue and your hair is also blue and kinda pretty?” the Fifth Child shrugged nonchalantly, waving off Rei’s question. “Don’t sweat the details.

“But forget about that! Listen, how about coming with the two of us? Sohryu-san here was going to tour me around the town, but we can always make this a group experience!”

“But I’m already familiar with the layout of the city,” the bluenette tilted her head to the side curiously. “What would the purpose of that activity be?”

“And since when did I agree to any of that?” the redhead offered as well, her mood still on a steady sour.

“Wow, you two are a merry bunch, aren’t you?” Mari mumbled to herself with a roll of her eyes. She then threw a fist up in the air. “Come on, it’s an excuse for fun! We can get to know each other better before the Doc inevitably throws us into the sims, and then we’ll grab some dinner together! Bonding time!”

“Hellish time, more like,” Asuka scoffed and propped herself against the wall. “Besides, we’re cooped inside the Geofront for the time being, four-eyes, so it’s not like we could leave even if we wanted to. Such a shame, really.”

“Huh? The Doc didn’t tell me anything about that. You sure it wasn’t just a temporary measure?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t care. But it’s not like there’s any way to know for sure, is there? Unless you want to go ahead and bother Akagi again, that is. I’m sure she’ll love that.” The Second Child rolled her eyes, spitting the name out as if it was a bad tasting appetizer. She then sent a mocking look at the twin-tailed girl. “So I think I’ll just stay and do something else for the day, instead. Have fun getting lost by yourself.”

Grinning from ear to ear, Asuka Langley-Sohryu relaxed against the wall and set her body up in a very specific fashion. A set of angles and unspoken messages of her own development that had always managed to bring the maximum amount of irritation out of the Third Child in the past, and that she figured would succeed equally as well at bothering the stupid greenhorn. With a few alterations, of course.

But then Asuka’s carefully constructed posture hit an unexpected disturbance when a phone began to ring: hers, to be exact. Her expression promptly shifting into an annoyed scowl and muttering something that Doctor Akagi wouldn’t have approved of, the Second Child fished for the device and raised it to her ear.

What now?” Asuka sharply spoke into it.

“A-Asuka? Is that you?”

The redhead’s eyes widened. She knew that voice, and it wasn’t the one she had been expecting to hear.

“Hikari?!”

“It is you!” The class representative of 2-A cheered happily, as if a heavy weight had just been lifted from her shoulders. The calm lasted for but a fleeting second, however. “Where have you been?! Do you have any idea how worried I was?!”

Asuka cringed as she pulled the phone away from her ear. As relieved as she was at not having to do yet another unscheduled test, placating an angry Hikari hadn’t been on her list of preferred pastimes, either.

“Ack! Sorry, sorry, don’t yell! It’s just...” the redhead spoke, quickly figuring how she could explain herself without giving away any confidential information. “Some… stuff happened in the last battle. I’m sort of living in the Geofront now because of it.”

“…I guess that’s why no one would answer at Katsuragi-san’s…” Hikari reasoned after a short pause, before going back on the offensive. “And couldn’t you have given someone a call?! I was starting to think that you were seriously hurt or… or worse until Toji told me that you were fine!”

“It just didn’t cross my mind, alright? I’ve been busy lately and-” Asuka started to defend herself before she cut herself off, grabbing onto a small detail. “…Wait, ‘Toji’? Didn’t you Japanese only do the first name thing when-”

Don’t change the subject!” Hikari demanded, forcing the redhead’s phone away from her ear again.

It was at this time that Asuka decided that a change in strategy was required and, after a long and hard fought battle in which she focused on nothing else, the Second Child’s wile eventually succeeded in calming down her best friend for the time being. There would still be hell to pay if and when she managed to get back to school and needed to do the same thing again both on Hikari’s home turf and in person, but she could confidently say that her ears were safe for the time being.

“Asuka, listen: I need to talk to you, okay? Can you meet this afternoon?”

…Or not. It looked as if Hikari wanted to address the latter sooner than the Second Child was expecting. Not something that she was looking to deal with after the ups and downs that the day had already offered her.

Then again, Asuka did have one very good excuse available to her. Not even a bad kind of excuse, really.

“Look, I’d love to but I wasn’t allowed outside the last time I tried, Hikari. And I really don’t know when that’s going to-”

“They say it’s fine!”

“…Huh?”

Asuka turned towards the one that had spoken and found the Fifth Child walking towards her, Mister Casual and Mister Monotone in tow. The redhead narrowed her eyes at her Section-2 security detail, her mind quickly trying to piece all the facts together and figuring out how it impacted her chances of getting an earful today.

But the twin-tailed girl was faster on the uptake than she was.

“These two gentlemen say that they’ll escort us wherever we want to go. That should be the last snag out of the way, right?” Mari grinned and motioned at the two men, before she stepped forward and effortlessly swiped the phone from the stunned redhead’s hand. “Let’s ask your friend if she wants to come with us!”

“H-Hey!” Asuka promptly protested, but her efforts to take back the phone were stonewalled by the Fifth Child twisting and turning out of her reach. “Give that back!”

“Hiya! I’m Mari!” the Fifth Child cheerily greeted into the receiver, even managing to find the time to grab onto Ayanami’s arm so that she wouldn’t walk away on her own. “Where do you want to meet?”
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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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby PenPen4life » Fri Jun 01, 2018 3:15 am

This remains the best fan fic I've ever read here.

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby sonichu » Fri Jun 01, 2018 2:59 pm

Yeah that's Gryphon for you. The guy knows how to write a great fic. Can't wait for the next update.

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Fri Jun 01, 2018 3:45 pm

Thanks, you two! The compliments are very much appreciated. ^_^

I'll be posting another, sadly somewhat short update this Sunday, and hopefully we'll continue with the usual regular updates from here on out. And I say hopefully because the end of May / entirety of June is a busy time for us teachers, so I might yet have to skip another week some time from now depending on the workload I end up having to deal with. I'll try to keep it from coming to that, though.
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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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 4:29 am

Short update this week, I'm afraid. And I'm going to keep the prefacing blurb short as well, because I'm currently swimming in exams I've gotta grade. :sniffle:

Enjoy!

Chapter 7-2  SPOILER: Show
“I expect that you are fully aware as to the nature of this meeting, Doctor Akagi.”

“Indeed. The Second Child’s sudden recovery took us all by surprise, myself, most of all,” Ritsuko agreed, punctuating the latter part of her speech with a grunt. “But it is of no concern. I’ll have the EVAs refitted to adapt to the newly arrived UN demands before the end of this work-shift.”

The Commander’s gaze rested briefly on the folder that had been delivered to his office mere minutes ago, a document containing a myriad direct orders and directives for NERV to follow in the aftermath of the Fifteenth Angel, most of which, in true bureaucratic fashion, were either unimportant or completely disregardable.

Except for one: the immediate unfreezing of Evangelion Unit-01 and the assignment of the Fifth Child as its interim Pilot, citing a worrying lack of proper asset usage during the last battle.

Commander Ikari had to keep himself from scowling. After all, the thinly disguised UN demands could as well have been referred to as SEELE demands. The old men had obviously smelled blood in the water, and promptly moved to improve their position.

Not that Gendo Ikari was going to let them into his kingdom easily.

“Belay that, the Fifth Child will remain a backup for Unit-02,” the Commander ordered, his eyes moving to a different, worryingly thin folder, that had accompanied the Fifth Child’s entrance into HQ. “We will not endanger Unit-01 on SEELE’s whims.”

“Impossible. I’m afraid that synch and simulation tests are already scheduled for the Fifth Child, Commander.”

The elder Ikari paused, eyes narrowing as he turned to regard Ritsuko. Was that spitefulness he had heard in the woman’s voice?

“Then cancel them. What possessed you to even consider going ahead with these orders, Doctor?”

“I don’t know. Perhaps it was Yui’s ghost that took over me, telling me that she would enjoy some different company.”

The Commander’s second, longer pause was accompanied by a blink of his eyes, a gesture that hid behind his eternally opaque glasses. What the lenses couldn’t conceal was the sudden frown that marred the man’s forehead, however.

“...What did you say?”

And then, a smirk found its way to Ritsuko’s face, the Head of Project-E discarding any further attempt at subterfuge and properly squaring off against the Supreme Commander of NERV. A man that found himself further taken aback by his subordinate’s suddenly fearless attitude.

“The tests will continue as scheduled, and the Fifth Child will become Unit-01’s designated Pilot,” Ritsuko loudly repeated, completely uncowed. “That is what I said.”

The fall of a pin could have been clearly heard in the silence that followed and, slowly, Gendo Ikari unfurled his hands and gently set them against the table. His frown deepened and his lips pressed into a tight line...

...but it was not the Commander who spoke next.

“...You overstep your boundaries, Doctor.”

Ritsuko glanced at Ikari’s aging second in command, answering his cold words with a frigid wind of her own.

“I’m glad you can at least see the obvious. But the real question is what you will do about it, if anything at all?” the woman spoke, her words almost taunting. “You’re welcome to try, of course, but I’m afraid young Ibuki is still too inexperienced to take proper care of the MAGI and the EVAs, as I do. Then again, a rookie mistake at a critical juncture would be a hilarious way of finding all of your best laid plans upturned, wouldn’t it?”

Sub-Commander Fuyutsuki grunted, but offered no actual retort. He merely shifted his eyes to look at Gendo, trying to anticipate how the younger man would handle the current situation.

And what he saw was a very minute shake of the Commander’s fingers, although it was hard to tell whether it was born out of anger or concern.

“…Am I to take this as your official withdrawal from our scenario, Doctor?” Ikari finally spoke through almost gritted teeth.

“From your scenario,” Ritsuko replied, her prior ice ousted by barely bridled indignant heat. “And I’m honestly surprised that you yet feel the need to ask.”

“Perhaps I simply believe that this situation may still be mended. Should you share your thoughts, we could-”

‘Mended’?! I will hear none of that!” the Doctor furiously interrupted Gendo’s attempt at diplomacy. “I am done following in Mother’s footsteps! I will not be your toy anymore, to be discarded at a moment’s notice, and I won’t allow myself to stay within a phantom’s shadow, either! Not when I have another choice.”

Ritsuko’s accusations boomed throughout the gargantuan office, and out of the corner of his eye the Sub-Commander thought he saw Ikari flinch slightly, as if he had been struck. The unexpected mirage was further reinforced when the Supreme Commander of NERV took an extra second to respond.

“...You speak of choices, but you’re a fool if you truly believe SEELE to be deserving of your trust.”

“In that you’re both akin, but that is no longer any of your concern.” Ritsuko spat out with enough venom to rival a cobra, and this time Fuyutsuki certainly saw the younger man wince. Unlike the old Professor, however, the Doctor seemed to think nothing of it, turning to leave with a snarl. “And if that will be all, I have other, more pressing business to attend to. I’m sure you do as well, Commander.”

Akagi’s heels began to clack away into the distance, and Fuyutsuki saw Gendo’s right hand twitch and make to reach into his pocket before going still. The man’s frame had also gone stiff, and it seemed for a fleeting moment as if a battle of wills was being fought within him.

Until, ultimately, the Commander slammed his hands on the table and stood up.

Ritsuko!” he called out, a tinge of hurt and betrayal making it into his words.

But the Head of Project-E didn’t stop until she reached the door, never even glancing back in his direction. Then, with a final slam, the door shut behind Ritsuko Akagi.

And Gendo Ikari collapsed into his seat, a deep breath escaping him. He then slowly brought his hands to his face, massaging his temple as if he was trying to rub a painful migraine away while, all throughout, his Sub-Commander watched him intently.

“...I told you so.”

“Not... now. Sensei.” The elder Ikari breathed out, making it quite clear that the short exchange had taken a sizeable emotional toll on him.

For all of their joint plotting, however, Kozo Fuyutsuki found that he had very little pity to spare for the man. He could afford him the time to settle back into a semblance of normalcy, though.

“So Akagi has turned,” the Professor eventually stated, bringing the conversation back to the most recent and critical development. “Not entirely unexpected, although I honestly can’t imagine what SEELE could have offered to entice-”

“...It’s not the old men.”

“...Hmm?”

“For all of her talents, Akagi is still a terrible liar,” Gendo elaborated, folding his hands back into his usual stance. “Whoever’s backing her little mutiny is not in SEELE’s payroll.”

“I see. Is finding out who her benefactors are why you refrained from joining her fate with agent Kaji’s, then? Or did you simply not have the heart to pull the trigger?”

“...”

“...Be that as it may, a third army entering the battlefield is a worrying development,” Fuyutsuki continued when the lack of a forthcoming answer became obvious. “It would certainly appear that the latest events have begun to veer out of control,” the Sub-Commander sighed deeply, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I wonder... is the house of cards about to collapse, Ikari?”

“...Not yet, Sensei,” Gendo reassured him, now fully back into his Commander’s persona. “We are not defeated yet.”


>-O]|[O-<​


Ritsuko Akagi collapsed against the wall of the elevator the very second its protective doors closed before her. Her heart was beating wildly and her need for oxygen was satisfied in ragged breaths, shaky legs barely managing to hold up a profusely sweating body.

The Head of Project-E remained as such for a fair while until, in her ear, a somewhat distorted voice was quick to praise her.

“Good work, Doctor. You played your part magnificently,” the voice spoke, sounding satisfied. “Now, if you could see to the proper delivery of the containers we spoke about?”

“Can you just give me a second?” Ritsuko shot back, annoyed at the urgency. “I think I just saw my life flash before my eyes.”

“Come now, we assured you that you would be safe, didn’t we?” a hearty chuckle answered the woman’s complaint, causing her to narrow her eyes. “Your concern was misplaced from the very beginning.”

“Well, excuse me if I don’t find myself fully trusting disembodied voices.”

“Fair enough,” the voice conceded, ever good-humoured. “But there’s no rest for the wicked, Doctor. You would do well to grow accustomed to this amount of physical and... emotional exertion.”

The blonde woman grunted, but refrained from offering a witty comeback. She focused her attention on herself, instead, noticing how her legs now seemed capable of supporting her weight once again, and how the rest of her body didn’t feel like jelly anymore.

Furthermore, Ritsuko Akagi felt a feeling of pride and accomplishment swell within her, now that the better part of her brain wasn’t fearing for her life. After all, she had spoken her mind to Gendo Ikari and lifted the yoke that had for the longest time been around her neck, taking the first major step in her own path.

And regardless of where that path ended up taking her, this act of rebellion alone was already more than she would have dared dream of six months ago.

“...Right. This is nothing.” Doctor Akagi agreed and pushed herself onto her feet, feeling how the invigorating sensation reached the entirety of her frame. By the time the elevator’s ding notified its arrival at her destination floor, the Head of Project-E was already busy at work with her trusty PDA. “I’ll have your deliveries sorted before the day is out.”

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

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

sonichu
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Postby sonichu » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:22 pm

Well that was unexpected. I wasn't expecting Akagi to actually let Gendo know she's working against him. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of this group she's working for as well. Keep up the good work man.

PenPen4life
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Postby PenPen4life » Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:00 pm

Have my eyes deicieved me? Has Gryphon wrote a chapter without expositing emotions?

Damn, lebron james of evageeks, no doubt. (also, three new nge 2 chapters are out ^_^ )

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Postby Gryphon117 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:56 am

View Original PostPenPen4life wrote:Have my eyes deicieved me? Has Gryphon wrote a chapter without expositing emotions?

Damn, lebron james of evageeks, no doubt. (also, three new nge 2 chapters are out ^_^ )


Not to imply said affairs are going to staly like that, mind you. :tongue:

I'm aware about the chapters, and I'll check them out when I can. As it stands, I've barely got enough time to handle my obligations and work on my own story for a little bit.
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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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 5:49 am

Bit of a fairly large and light-hearted update this time, as we follow the girls on their afternoon out. This update is long enough that I probably could have uploaded half of it last week, but I didn't want to break the progression of it into two updates, so here you go.

In any case, this is one of those scenes that could probably do with some improvements, so don't be afraid to speak up. Enjoy! ^_^

Chapter 7-3  SPOILER: Show
Rei Ayanami analysed the aluminium instrument she had been handed with curiosity: it had a cylindrical shape, thinner at the bottom and wider towards the top, and possessed a type of grip that hinted towards sweeping or slashing motions as its intended means of use. The lack of a blade or wedge of any kind in its surface went against such a possibility, however.

Rei then theorised that the instrument could have been meant as a bludgeoning weapon, instead, but the light mass and poor density of the manufacturing material made that an unlikely assumption. So did the name that had been inscribed and decorated on the tool’s side, as well, for it would have been senseless and pointless to so skilfully embellish a surface that would quickly degenerate under the stress of combat.



Unless the instrument wasn’t meant for battle, as she had initially speculated. But what other purpose could such an inefficiently large and inertia-driven device have, then? What could it do that a simple and far more transportable hammer couldn’t?

The name engraved upon the instrument itself, ‘Home Run Hall’, also failed to elicit any further insights into the purpose of the tool she was now in possession of, other than its coincidence in both content and design to the front of the store the group had recently entered. The rows of fenced in compartments within the building itself provided no hints as to the purpose of the facility, either, and neither did the numbered plaques that were set up at the other end of the large room.

Realising then that she was working with incomplete or faulty information, and that it was wasteful and pointless for her to continue trying to decipher the intended purpose of the instrument she had been given in such a manner, the First Child decided to ask the person who had handed it to her, instead.

“What am I to do with this?”

Something that caused the twin-tailed girl before her to pause and look at Rei as if she’d just grown a second head.

“What? You’ve never seen a baseball bat before, Bluebird?”

“’Baseball’?” the bluenette echoed, eyeing the so-called ‘bat’. “I’m not familiar with that term.”

“Really? Hard to believe that, considering which country you live in,” Mari chuckled, picking up a bat of her own and doing a few demonstration swings. “In any case, I’ll explain it to you: as far as we care, this is a sport about hitting a flying ball with your bat and sending it back the way it came,” she explained, before signalling towards the other end of the course with her bat. “For added difficulty, you need to aim for those markers over there and try to rack up as many points as possible.”

“Points? For what purpose?”

“Purpose? I don’t know. Having fun?” the Fifth Child shrugged. “That’s what people practice sports for, right?”

“I engage in swimming to maintain a satisfactory state of health,” the bluenette argued. “I also find the activity remarkably soothing.”

“I… guess you could roll like that, too. Different strokes for different folks, eh?” Mari smiled awkwardly, turning slightly to look at the other two girls that were sitting at the back of the batting cages. “...Is she always like this?”

“Just you wait until she brings out the toilet philosophy,” Asuka grumbled, scoffing angrily. “By the way, I’m not talking to you, remember?”

The twin-tailed girl rolled her eyes at the predictable answer. The Second Child had been crabby before, but the redhead’s mood had reached an all-time low after whatever it was that the Hikari girl had told her. Something that Mari found quite surprising, considering that the new addition to the group had been anything if not pleasant up until now.

With a tired sigh, Mari turned to regard the novice batter.

“...Is she always like that?”

“No,” Rei’s reply was clipped and laced with a hint of irritation. “Pilot Sohryu is usually much louder.”

“What did you say?!”

“Huh, go figure,” Mari smirked, getting another rise out of the redhead. “And here I thought that she had the volume cranked up to eleven, already.”

“Do you want to see how much louder I can get?!”

“Oh? So this isn’t even your final form?” the Fifth Child continued with her teasing, before thinking better about her efforts. “Actually, don’t answer that. I’d rather see if you can walk the walk,” she then picked up another bat and threw it towards Asuka, the redhead easily catching it. “How about it, Asuka? Care for a match?”

The redhead looked down at the bat and then back at the smiling Pilot, a hint of doubt crossing her features for an instant before it vanished and was replaced by incensed determination, the Second Child’s lips pressing into a thin line.

“…You’re on,” Asuka picked up the verbal glove, striding heavily towards an empty cage. “I’ve wanted to shut your mouth for a while now.”

“That’s the spirit!” Mari cheered, turning towards Hikari next. “Your turn now Piggy-chan, let’s make this a two versus two! You team up with Asuka and I’ll pair up with Bluebird here! May the best team win!”

‘P-Piggy-chan’…?” Hikari blinked at the strange nickname for a second, before she stood up from her seat with a resigned sigh. “…And how come I don’t get a say in this?”

“Don’t worry, Hikari,” her redheaded friend reassured her, glaring daggers at the back of her fellow Pilot. “I’m not going to lose against that stupid four-eyes.”

Words that only prompted the Class Representative of 2-A to sigh deeper and mutter under her breath.

“…That’s actually the part I’m worried about.”


>-O]|[O-<​


Ten innings and many swings later, the impromptu baseball match came to an end with a solid victory for Team Asuka, a match in which the Second and Fifth Children gave their all, butting heads and fighting evenly all the way to the last second. The two of them were so well matched, indeed, that the outcome of the game was arguably decided by the efforts of their teammates rather than their own.

Efforts in which the First Child had far more trouble competing than her direct opponent did: many a time did the baseballs swoosh by Rei Ayanami’s bat without direct contact, or strike it indirectly enough that the small spheres would arc backwards rather than launch towards the targets she was aiming for. It got to the point, despite some marked improvements by the last steps of the game, that the usually inexpressive girl was narrowing her eyes and letting out short huffs of annoyance every time the baseball wouldn’t comply with her wishes.

The Second Child’s gloating had not helped in the slightest, either.

“I’m sorry. My lacking performance was the main cause of our defeat,” Rei told her teammate as the group retreated to the building’s cafeteria, eyebrows knitted closer than normal. “This… ‘baseball’ is difficult.”

“It’s fine, it’s fine! Nobody’s born knowing, Bluebird,” the Fifth Child reassured her with a smile, clearing an errant droplet of sweat from her forehead at the same time. “What’s important is that we had fun!”

“And that I put you in your place!”

Mari chuckled at the haughty voice that responded, turning towards the now confident looking Second Child. The girl’s competitive streak was truly something to behold.

“Yeah, yeah… that, too. You’ve got some good arms there, Asuka,” Mari praised, offering her hand for a belated post-game handshake. “I look forward to the next match.”

The redhead then paused for a second, staring at the outstretched limb as if it was completely out of place, or an unthinkable answer to what she had just said. As if the Fifth Child’s actions didn’t conform to whatever probable scenarios Asuka had envisioned.

It was a fleeting picture, however, the girl’s expression morphing into a bold grin soon after.

“…And I look forward to kicking your ass again!” the Second Child exclaimed, firmly grabbing onto Mari’s offered hand.

“You sure nailed those balls out there,” an outsider voice suddenly cut in, breaking the moment. “How about a drink to recover?”

“...What the- ?” Asuka paused for an instant, recognizing the voice, before she jerked around. “Geek-stooge?! The hell are you doing here?!”

“Nice to see you, too,” Kensuke Aida snarked, narrowing his eyes at the redhead. He then gestured at his work uniform. “And what does it look like I’m doing? Some of us have to work for our spending money, Red.”

“Maybe you wouldn’t need so much of it if you didn’t always waste it on your useless-”

“Knock it off, Asuka,” Hikari tiredly chided her friend, before she smiled at her classmate. “Good afternoon, Aida-kun.”

“Hey, Class Rep, and Ayanami. Good effort out there! And…” Kensuke’s eyes then landed on Mari, travelling downwards a little bit before he willed them back up. “…Friend of yours?”

The Fifth Child nodded her head before anyone could answer and strode towards the sandy-haired young man, stopping right in front of him.

“Hiya, I’m Mari!” she said, giving the now dumbfounded boy a kiss on each cheek. “Nice to meet you!”

And it was then that Mari Makinami heard a weird, strangled gasp behind her. Stepping away from Kensuke, who had suddenly gone stiff as a board, the twin-tailed girl turned around to see Hikari do a fairly good impression of a shell-shocked goldfish and hold a shaky finger towards her.

“…What?”

“W-W-What are you doing, Makinami-san...?”

“Greeting the guy…?” the Fifth Child elaborated, expression clouding in confusion for a second. “…Oh, right. Japanese. Sorry, I guess I forgot about the culture shock thing for a moment, there,” she shrugged, before turning to smile at the frozen Kensuke. “Old habits die hard. I hope I didn’t make you uncomfortable, Aida-san?”

“N-No, i-it’s fine!” The flustered boy quickly denied, jolting out of his shock. He then coughed into his hand to try and regain a modicum of composure, sending a dirty look towards Asuka in the process. “I mean… it’s a lot better than how the other foreigner here greeted me.”

Said foreigner answered the challenging stare with one of her own, crossing her arms in defiance.

“It was your own fault for staring at what you shouldn’t have,” the Second Child scoffed. “You stupid pervert.”

Our fault?!” Kensuke protested. “Who was the genius who wore a sundress at sea?!”

Pre-emptively sighing in exasperation at the louder comeback that she knew was about to happen, the Class Representative of 2-A grabbed Rei and Mari by their wrists and strode towards one of the tables, leaving the other two to their devices. Sitting down, the brunette then proceeded to completely ignore the rapidly escalating argument just a few steps away.

She was tired, she was more than a bit miffed at her best friend, and she was in absolutely no mood to lay down the law for a while. As far as she was concerned, even Class Representatives deserved their breaks and it was time for Hikari to enjoy hers.


>-O]|[O-<​


“Where are you from anyway, Makinami-san?” Hikari asked quite some time later, once everyone had seated and ordered their drinks. “I mean, I know you mentioned that you were from overseas, but some of your mannerisms seem very… well, foreign.”

The twin-tailed girl smiled at that, appearing to take Hikari’s words as a compliment.

“Well, I’m from England, technically. Although with how much time I’ve spent in Beijing you could call me Chinese by now, I guess.”

“Beijing?” Kensuke echoed, his ears perking up. “Wait, you mean to say that you’re with NERV, too?!”

“Yup!”

And, just like that, the sandy-haired boy’s look went from one of interest all the way up to one of adoration.

‘...Someone’s got herself a fanboy,’ Asuka thought at the sight, groaning at how the military nut’s eyes had suddenly started to sparkle. Sparkles that, in true geek-stooge fashion, were soon followed by an inquisitive tirade as to the capabilities of the EVAs and the MO of NERV tactical operations. A sudden interrogation that Mari showed a remarkable amount of patience for, too.

Although, funnily enough, the boy didn’t use the opportunity to beg for a chance at being made a Pilot in the way that Shinji had mentioned a couple of times before.

‘He must have finally figured that they’d never let an idiot like him into the program.’ Asuka promptly tuned Aida out, bringing her soda to her lips. ‘Guess he can learn after all.’

“So you’re another EVA Pilot, Makinami-san? Thank you for your hard work.” Hikari bowed gratefully to the Fifth Child as soon as Kensuke gave her a chance, before she was suddenly reminded of something. The brunette then turned towards her friend. “And speaking of that, where is Ikari-kun? I had expected him to show up with you.”

The Second Child froze, the soda she’d been drinking slowly going back down the drink’s straw. Before long, her eyebrows drew together in irritation.

“So that moron didn’t tell you?”

“He’s not a moron, Asuka!” Hikari shot back, narrowing her eyes at the redhead. “And no, he didn’t tell me anything about Ikari-kun. Why?”

Asuka sighed and placed the soda back on the table, rubbing her temple for a few seconds while she searched for a way of explaining Shinji’s status that didn’t break any confidentiality boundaries. Something that was further complicated by the need for it to also leave her in a good light as far as the battle was concerned, and that using the usual ‘Shinji screwed up’ explanation that Asuka had employed for the longest time didn’t exactly sit well with her at this point.

It was then that help arrived from an unlikely source.

“Ikari-kun is indisposed at the moment,” the First Child explained, bringing Hikari’s attention to her.

“Indisposed? As in he’s sick?”

The red and blue opposites shared a knowing look but remained silent, neither of them knowing how to further elaborate on the aftermath of the Fifteenth Angel.

“…No. You wouldn’t have made such a big deal out of Toji not telling me if it was something that simple,” Hikari reasoned, thinking things over for a second or two. And then, a look of realisation dawned on her face, the brunette’s eyes quickly moving to Mari. “…Oh, no… Did something happen to Ikari-kun?!”

“Not to worry,” the twin-tailed girl quickly explained before Rei or Asuka could jump in. “Sleeping Beauty is just doing as his namesake implies. I was brought here to be his backup until he wakes up.”

“What?! He’s-“

“Out of danger, yeah. He’s just both mentally and physically exhausted, and he’ll be up on his feet in the near future. Nothing to worry about,” Mari gently interrupted, before smirking and sending a meaningful look Asuka’s way. “Surely, Ikari-kun’s personal nurse agrees with me?”

“...Who exactly are you calling that idiot’s personal nurse?” said redhead countered, glaring back.

“Oh, there’s no need to be shy, Asuka-chan! I could feel the absolute depths of your worry when we first met in his room!” Mari smiled dreamily, bringing her hands together. “It was so cute! The devotion, the promises of undying love!”

Something that sounded very much like a young woman squeeing in delight sounded off from the Second Child’s side, but the redhead ignored it in favour of setting the record straight as quickly as humanly possible.

“Okay, now I’m sure that you’re just making stuff up,” Asuka scoffed, her tone going dangerously low. “And that you’re a masochist, too. You’re asking for a real beating, you know?”

“Of course I’m making stuff up, but you could cut it with the threats of violence, too.” The Fifth Child rolled her eyes with a groan, turning to face Asuka with a serious face. “Lighten up, girl! Learn to take a joke or two. It’s not a personal attack and nobody likes a stick in the mud.”

“I do have a sense of humour, your stupid jokes just don’t fall inside of it,” the redhead countered, indignantly crossing her arms. “But even if I didn’t, so what? I’m an EVA Pilot, and I’m here to pilot my EVA, not to make friends.”

“So now we are an aloof professional? Strictly business? Give me a break,” Mari sighed, throwing her hands up in the air. She then leant forward on the table, staring intently at the Second Child. “In any case, I do want to make some friends while I’m here. And I guess that means that I’ll be starting with you, whether you like it or not.”

“I’d love to see you try,” Asuka replied with a barely concealed snarl.

To which the twin-tailed girl merely smiled widely.

“Challenge accepted.”


>-O]|[O-<​


“Well, that was a short-lived bet. Don’t you think so, Ayanami-san?”

Rei Ayanami stared at the girl by her side, offering little in the way of response. After all, the bluenette was unsure as to what bet it was that Hikari was referring to, and also failed to understand why her opinion on the length of said wager could have possibly been of any importance.

Whatever the reason was, the First Child suspected it to be tied in some manner to the way in which Class Representative Horaki had been silently inspecting the Second and Fifth Children for some time now, who had taken to walking a few metres ahead of them and were immersed in a discussion about the events of the afternoon. Both of them were exceedingly loud in their speech, easily catching the attention of passing pedestrians and keeping it for several seconds, to the point that Rei had believed Hikari’s previous observation to have been a part of her preparation for her well-known disciplinary measures.

Up until that point, anyway.

“Just look at her. They haven’t known each other for even one day and they’re already bickering as if they’d met years ago. It took me weeks before Asuka opened up to me like that,” Hikari continued, shaking her head in amusement. “She’s a bit strange, but that girl is good. It actually makes me a little jealous.”

“I disagree,” the bluenette replied. “They appear to be constantly at odds with each other.”

“It looks like that to you, Ayanami-san?” Hikari questioned, clearly surprised. “I guess it would to anyone who doesn’t fully understand how Asuka works.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not too sure about how to explain it. Asuka is… explosive, but she is also very socially lazy outside of keeping up appearances, I guess,” Hikari elaborated with a shrug. “Like, if she really despised Makinami-san, she would just limit herself to not giving her the time of day unless provoked, like she does with countless other people. But instead, there you have them, butting heads over this and that in the competing manner that Asuka loves so much. They’re fighting, but not really fighting. They’re arguing like friends sometimes do,” the brunette then sighed softly, her gaze going distant for a moment. “…Just like she tried to do with Ikari-kun.”

“Is that why you argued with Pilot Sohryu earlier today?”

“…You could say that. Even if that one was a bit more serious,” Hikari replied, unable to hide a small wince. “I thought I had disguised it a little bit better than that, though.”

“You didn’t.”

The brunette blinked for a moment, not having expected such a brusque answer. It wasn’t long before she broke into chuckles, though.

“You’re blunt, Ayanami-san,” Hikari replied. “Yeah, I had a small fight with Asuka when she didn’t agree with a decision I’ve recently made. But that’s fine, that’s just people being people, and she’ll get over it before long. It’s the underlying bonds that are important and, if there’s something I’ve learned from my sisters, it’s that those sorts of hiccups tend to make relationships between individuals stronger.”

Rei’s expression turned pensive, the First Child turning the explanations that the Class Representative had shared inside her head. Admittedly, a lot of the wording Hikari had used sounded somewhat out of place to her, but the bluenette caught enough to understand the basic logic behind the other girl’s words.

“…I see.” Rei nodded her head, staring at the two girls in front of them. “Does your previous question mean to imply that you believe the Second and Fifth to share such a social bond between them?”

“And the First Child, too. If not now, then soon enough,” Hikari replied with a smile, before bringing her attention to the front, as well. “Maybe when Ikari-kun wakes up he’ll have room to join in, too.”

The pair fell into a comfortable silence after that, the Class Representative intently examining the Second and Fifth Children as they continued to argue with one another. Then, and little by little, a small smile began to blossom on her face.

“Yeah, I definitely like her,” Hikari eventually whispered under her breath, believing herself unheard. “She seems like a dependable person. Exactly the kind of person Asuka needs right now.”

The bluenette wasn’t certain about whether ‘dependable’ was a label that could have been applied to the Fifth Child, but the newcomer’s physical prowess did indeed appear to be indicative of an adequate potential to Pilot EVA. It still remained to be seen whether that potential would translate into an actual proficiency towards piloting, but Rei did agree with Hikari’s outlook on how necessary Makinami-san’s presence would be for the upcoming battles.

“Still,” the Class Representative continued, this time in a proper and audible tone. “Even after everything that’s happened Asuka can’t bring herself to say it yet, huh?”

“Say what?”

“That she likes Ikari-kun. She’s so obvious about it that it’s actually a bit painful to watch,” the brunette sighed, making a face. “The same goes in the opposite direction, too, though. Well, not right now, but you know what I mean.”

Rei Ayanami blinked in confusion, the last part of Hikari’s statement proving not to be true at all. After all, what was it about being fond of something or someone that it required a public admission, as if it was some sort of mistake? As a matter of fact, Rei herself enjoyed many things, like the feeling of water against her skin or the simple pleasure of reading. Obviously, Ikari-kun’s company also qualified for that, but the First Child didn’t understand the reasoning behind needing to announce such a thing.

Nevertheless, the Second’s habitual insistence not on hiding her enjoyment of Ikari-kun’s company, but on outright denying it, was the one thing that had always struck Rei as odd about her.

“Then again,” Hikari continued, breaking the bluenette’s train of thought. “I also believed that Ikari-kun was into you for the longest time, Ayanami-san, so it’s not like I’m infallible.”

Rei frowned, trying to wrap her head around the impossibility that the other girl’s latest words suggested. It was a proven fact that two physical bodies couldn’t co-exist in the same exact space, after all.

“I... don’t understand.”

Her reply earned the First Child a strange look from her companion for a few moments, but it wasn’t long before it shifted into one of amusement.

“That’s fine,” Hikari responded, smiling in a way that suggested an intention to let the topic rest. “I guess I have my reason for why that ship didn’t sail, after all.”

…And now navigation came into the picture? To say that Rei Ayanami felt utterly perplexed at Class Representative Horaki’s bizarre conversational skills would have been to sell it short. Then again, and since the conversation didn’t seem to be at all relevant towards either her purpose or Ikari-kun’s wishes, it wasn’t like the First Child felt a special need to inform Hikari of her personal shortcomings.

Instead, the bluenette was simply content to silently follow her lead all the way back to NERV.
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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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:49 am

Here is the final scene for this chapter, people. Next week we will be going back to Shinji and how he's been dealing with the fun times in Asuka's day, as well as some development of his own. Although I might put in a brief interlude in between chapters, depending on whether I can finish figuring out the scene I've got in my head. We'll see how that goes.

In the meantime, enjoy! ^_^

Chapter 7-4  SPOILER: Show
“How did your day go?” Ritsuko Akagi questioned when she heard the door to her NERV apartment open, never lifting her gaze from the documents she was analysing. “I was told that you managed to meet up with the First and Second Children?”

Her visitor grunted in response, shutting the door and unceremoniously plopping herself on Ritsuko’s couch. She then let out a tired sigh, looking for all intents and purposes as if she’d just run a marathon.

“Sure did,” the Fifth Child mumbled. “Never knew that being an actual teenager could be this damn exhausting, though.”

The Doctor paused in her reading for an instant, lifting her eyes to look at her visitor with whimsical interest.

“I take it that the Second was her usual abrasive self?”

“You could say that,” Mari groaned, rolling her eyes. “Still, for someone that prickly she sure gets attached to people pretty darn quick.”

“The Second Child suffers from severe self-esteem and abandonment issues,” Ritsuko explained, going back to her reading. “That’s hardly surprising.”

The blonde’s words were followed by a bout of quiet, thoughtful humming coming out of the girl. Mari relaxed herself even more on Ritsuko’s couch, closing her eyes and giving the illusion that she was about to doze off.

“...Hmm, is that so?” the Fifth Child eventually muttered. “Well, I kinda already figured that her deal was something along those lines. Whose bright idea was it to give her a giant robot, anyway?”

“Things just worked out that way, as far as I’m aware.”

“Can you elaborate a bit on that?”

Ritsuko’s gaze separated from the report for a second time, now turning to look curiously (and with a bit of concern) at the unwinding young woman.

“…That’s strange. I expected you to be in the know about these sorts of things, already.”

“My insertion was a rush-job, so they only briefed me on the top of the line need-to-know stuff, with later reports or on-site intel gathering covering everything else,” Mari shrugged nonchalantly. “The Pilots and their idiosyncrasies didn’t fall into that initial lump, I guess.”

“Fair enough,” Ritsuko replied, mostly satisfied with the explanation. She then put the report aside and swivelled her chair around to address the agent directly. “Did your initial briefing cover the manner in which the EVAs function?”

“Something about souls and filio-maternal instincts and stuff like that?” Mari provided, eyes still closed but proving that she was giving the conversation her full attention, despite appearances.

Even if her explanation wasn’t as in-depth as Ritsuko would have liked.

“…More or less.” Ritsuko acknowledged, pinching the bridge of her nose with a sigh as a show of her own exhaustion. “I’ll give you the short of it: synchronisation is achieved by a link between the soul in the EVA and that of its Pilot, hence, the name. For this synchronisation to be effective, however, the basis of the bond must be one of strong cooperation, or protective in nature. There are other ways for the synchronisation link to be formed, of course, but their potential efficiency is hypothesised to be lower.”

The Doctor then paused for a second, making sure that she still had the girl’s attention. It seemed to be the case.

“In that sense, being that Kyoko Sohryu Zeppelin’s soul inhabits Unit-02’s current core, it stands to reason that her daughter would be the best Pilot candidate, referring to the strength of the filio-maternal instincts, as you put it, before. The same stands true for Unit-01, but not for 00.”

“Hm-mm. Being the Pilot of a giant robot doesn’t explain that girl’s issues, though.”

“Kyoko Sohryu Zeppelin committed suicide some time after her failed contact experiment, following a period of severe dementia in which she mistook a doll for her daughter, amongst other symptoms,” Ritsuko elaborated, before exhaling somberly and falling silent.

The Head of Project-E then stood from her seat, pacing a few steps around the room before she continued.

“...Asuka was the one who found the body. What remained of her mother had also tried to kill ‘her’ at the time of her suicide, too, and that wasn’t a detail that escaped the Second Child’s young mind. Add a complete lack of psychiatric or medical care of any sort following Asuka’s incident and some other drastic changes over the years within her immediate social and family circle, as well as the pressure and responsibility from her personal achievements and her role as an EVA Pilot... and you end up with our very own Second Child.”

A heavy silence settled on the apartment following the Doctor’s explanation, with the rustling of the couch as the Fifth Child manoeuvred into a sitting position and Ritsuko’s lethargic walking being the only sounds that managed to break through for a few moments.

“…Ouch,” Mari eventually provided with a wince, now fully ‘awake’. “Girl needs a hug, I guess.”

“A valiant hypothesis, although proving it would require extensive bodily harm. I’ll leave that to your discretion,” Ritsuko replied, prior to walking over and tapping her hand on top of the discarded report. “But that explanation brings us up to the issues the Second Child’s sudden recovery has caused us.”

“Namely?”

“That we can’t put you in Unit-02, as we had originally envisioned.”

“I’m aware. Which means that I’m going with Unit-01, instead,” Mari agreed, bringing a finger to softly pat at her right ear. “I was told about that while I was with the girls.”

“If only it were that simple, I wouldn’t be wracking my mind finding a way to transplant the method I’d been planning to use with Unit-02, onto Unit-01.” The Doctor grumbled bitterly, shaking her head.

“...Talk to me, Doc. Maybe I can help.”

“...I seriously doubt that, but it won’t do you any harm to know about it, anyway,” Ritsuko agreed with another exhausted sigh, resuming her pacing and taking another moment to think of the best way to proceed with her next explanation.

“I had planned on using a modified version of our existing Dummy Plugs to aid in your synchronisation, one that would have formed a ‘screen’ between you and the soul in the EVA and fooled it into believing that the intended Pilot was there, as per the Dummy’s original purpose, but without taking full control of the Evangelion.”

The Doctor then stopped in place and turned towards the agent, snapping her fingers as she struggled to find her next words.

“It would have served as a... phantasm of the Second Child, if you may, one that would have allowed you to command Unit-02 as if you were Asuka herself. It would have likely resulted in a small hit to the potential synchronisation ratio, but that was a small price to pay for the ability to switch Pilots on a whim.”

“Okay, I think I get that,” Mari replied with a nod of her head. “But why can’t you do that with Unit-01?”

“We should have been able to, in theory. But Unit-01’s soul has shown herself to be far more adverse to the use of Dummy Plugs after their one and only successful activation and combat use. I doubt she would allow for the wool to be pulled over her eyes, so to speak,” Ritsuko elaborated, her words taking on a hint of bitterness at some points. “Due to the fragmented nature of Unit-02’s soul, such a strategy would have probably been far easier to implement on it.”

“...Right. That sure sounds like it makes things more complicated.”

“That’s quite the understatement,” the head of Project-E grunted in response. “Should the modified Dummy Plugs fail to function as intended, this predicament could have the potential to completely upturn our plans. Worse come to worst, I hope your diplomatic skills are up to par.”

“Parleying with a ghost, huh?” Mari chuckled, quickly catching on to the woman’s meaning. “That’s gotta be up there in the list of weird things I’ve had to do. Anything you can tell me about this Ikari woman?”

“Nothing that’s not in the reports you might have been handed, I’m afraid,” Ritsuko sighed, sending a meaningful look the agent’s way. The twin-tailed girl nodded her head, indicating that she had indeed been briefed on it. “I never knew her. She was dead by the time I came here, and the Commander never was forthcoming on the topic.”

“Well, that’s great,” the Fifth Child replied, her body language indicating that it was anything but. “Any Plan Bs in mind for a worst case scenario?”

“Only one at this point, I’m afraid,” the blonde nodded her head and crossed her arms. “We can always fabricate a report that would allow us to rid ourselves of the Second Child, but I’d prefer to leave that as a last resort. Tactical benefits of an extra EVA aside, such a course of action has quite the potential to backfire on us.”

“As well as to destroy what little self-esteem the Second has managed to scrounge up together?” Mari wittingly completed with a raised eyebrow. “I’m impressed, Doctor. I didn’t peg you for the compassionate type.”

“And I’m not. But I’m not a completely amoral monster, either, if that’s what you’re implying. Not at this time, anyway,” Ritsuko waved the girl’s half-hearted praise away, choosing instead to go into the kitchen and fetch a glass of wine for herself. “I’m of course more than willing to do whatever needs to be done if the situation calls for it, but I’d rather destroy as few lives as possible if I can help it.”

“That takes a load off my mind, then, Doctor, I approve. And don’t worry, I’m sure things will work out just fine,” the Fifth Child sprawled back against her seat, going back into her faux-sleep mode. “In any case, though, and since you’ve known them for far longer than I have, what do you think are our chances of subverting the active Pilots to our cause?”

“Exceedingly unlikely, I would say. One is a psychological wreck holding herself from plunging into the abyss by a thread, and the other is a construct tailor-made to serve a unique purpose. I’d be more than shocked if you managed to succeed with such a plan.”

“…That bad, huh? Well, it’s a good thing I like my challenges, then,” Mari shot back with a grin. “But seriously, does NERV have a grudge against healthy mindsets, or something?”

“I’ve wondered about that myself more often than I would like, believe me.” Ritsuko agreed with a deep sigh. She then walked back to the living room and sat across from Mari, sipping her wine as she contemplated the Fifth Child’s words.

“Still, there is no harm in subtly probing the Pilots, I suppose, considering that you’ll be spending a sizable amount of time in their company should your synchronisation test prove successful,” the Doctor concurred after some time. “For that purpose, I’ll work towards offering you chances to further influence the Second Child starting with tomorrow’s simulation training. Since she already despises me, I have no issue with further playing to her expectations.”

“Thanks a lot, Doc.”

“Think nothing of it,” Ritsuko waved the gratitude away in favour of sticking to the topic, and it wasn’t long before her expression clouded substantially. “The First will be a more complicated matter, however.”

“Not necessarily,” Mari disagreed, eliciting a raised eyebrow from the blonde. “Ayanami’s thought process seems fairly simplistic and overly naïve. That’s something we can exploit.”

“I’m not nearly as optimistic but, again, I have no issue with your trying,” the Head of Project-E acquiesced, but not before sending the young woman a warning look over her glass. “Just remember to be careful when you’re playing with the Commander’s toy.”

Advice that only made the Fifth Child smile, her relaxed posture continuing to belie even the slightest hint of trepidation.

“Noted. I’ll watch my back while I’m hanging around the old man’s pet,” Mari easily acknowledged, humming in thought. “Hmm… I wonder what I should teach Bluebird about next time?”

“‘Bluebird’?” Ritsuko echoed, not amused. “Is that your moniker for the First?”

“Sure! I mean, it’s kinda obvious, isn’t it?” the agent chuckled, causing the Doctor’s frown to become more pronounced. “I’d come up with ‘Kitten’ too, since she’s so standoffish and seems to know so little about the world, but thought better of changing her nickname since I’d already taken to calling her Bluebird before that. Wouldn’t want to overload her untrained brain with too many new things now, would we?”

“I’d rather you didn’t do that at all. Such inane name-calling hardly sounds befitting of a professional of your supposed calibre,” Ritsuko chastised the twin-tailed girl with words made of ice. “It certainly doesn’t fill me with confidence.”

“…And I’d say my personal quirks and potential capabilities are completely separate from one another, but at least it’s fairly clear why you have so few friends, now.”

“I’ll have you know that my personal priorities at this time lie in preventing a worldwide conspiracy threatening to end mankind as we know it, as should yours,” the Doctor shot back. “I am not here to make friends.”

Response that had Mari raise an amused eyebrow.

“...Now where have I heard that before?” she muttered to herself, thinking back to the afternoon’s events.

“What was that?”

“Nothing important,” the Fifth Child deflected with a sigh, returning to her usual persona. “But come now, don’t be so stuffy, Doc. Nobody ever said saving the world couldn’t be fun!”

“And I wasn’t told that the infiltrator I’d be provided with wouldn’t be capable of taking her duty seriously, either,” Ritsuko bemoaned, throwing her hands in the air. “Then again, I was the one that agreed to your proposal of using the ‘Power of Friendship’ as a way of achieving our objectives, wasn’t I? I should have seen this coming.”

“You do you, and I’ll do me, Doc. Besides, why do you think it so far-fetched? Camaraderie has been a thing since the times of the ancient empires, and been known to contribute towards toppling overwhelming odds, before,” the agent argued, before her voice turned mocking. “Who knows, maybe if the non-corrupt upper echelons of NERV had embraced such a concept, we wouldn’t be dealing with the mess that is the Pilot Corps, right now~.”

“Perhaps. Although I’m afraid you’ll have to bring that criticism to Major Katsuragi, difficult as it may be at the moment,” the head of Project-E replied, indicating with a turn and a beckoning hand that her inclination towards discussing the topic was over. “Now, follow me. I’ve got a whiteboard with a diagram set up in the next room to walk you through the main differences of the modified Dummy Plug you should know about, on the off-chance that it will actually work.”

Ritsuko soon disappeared through one of the adjoining doors, flicking the lights in the living room off as she did so and expecting the Fifth Child to quickly follow her. Mari didn’t immediately do as had been foreseen of her, though, instead deciding to linger in the couch for a few moments, gaze turned skywards.

“...With Major Katsuragi, huh?” the Fifth Child eventually mouthed with apparent distaste, eyes narrowing at a nondescript spot of the ceiling. “Oh, you better believe that I will.”
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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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby PenPen4life » Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:50 am

NGL, having reached the peaks of writing, 7.3 was a bump in your road to g.o.a.tness.

Filler isn't intrinsically bad. But as with everything else in a story, filler should be compelling. The reader should be invested. But while it started nicely, you didn't really follow through.

There is much good, the opening paragraph with Rei was amazing. Not saying she's looking at a bat makes for some genuine humor and charm. At times, we get quality in character dialogue. But there were portions where it didn't feel compelling.

The main issue, would be that you didn't really do anything with the episode. You did a great deal to set up the squad playing baseball, and then you, skipped them playing baseball, outlining what happened in the game rather than letting us see what happens. As a result, it doesn't feel like these people are experiencing, but rather that you've outlined what they experienced. This doesn't make for compelling storytelling. If you aren't going to show us these characters experiencing a baseball game, why bother setting it up?

From what I could derive, the purpose of this filler was to flesh out Asuka and mari's relationship. But. how, you go about doing that is what determines if it's compelling or not.

This isn't the best way of doing that:
SPOILER: Show
“You’re blunt, Ayanami-san,” Hikari replied. “Yeah, I had a small fight with Asuka when she didn’t agree with a decision I’ve recently made. But that’s fine, that’s just people being people, and she’ll get over it before long. It’s the underlying bonds that are important and, if there’s something I’ve learned from my sisters, it’s that those sorts of hiccups tend to make relationships between individuals stronger.”

SPOILER: Show
“I’m not too sure about how to explain it. Asuka is… explosive, but she is also very socially lazy outside of keeping up appearances, I guess,” Hikari elaborated with a shrug. “Like, if she really despised Makinami-san, she would just limit herself to not giving her the time of day unless provoked, like she does with countless other people. But instead, there you have them, butting heads over this and that in the competing manner that Asuka loves so much. They’re fighting, but not really fighting. They’re arguing like friends sometimes do,” the brunette then sighed softly, her gaze going distant for a moment. “…Just like she tried to do with Ikari-kun.”


Having a character tell us everything we need to know for the purpose of a story is, frankly, lazy. Letting us infer this from Asuka and Hikari's interactions is a much more personal, power, and compelling method. This is because it allows us to relate to the characters as we see them as people rather than plot devices.

People are compelling. Plot devices, not so much.

My final point would be regarding this relationship you're bringing to the fray with kboy and Mari. Relationships are fine, as long as they revolve around the characters, rather than forcing the characters to revolve around them. So if you're going to do a relationship between the two, I'd suggest you develop or flesh out the characters first, and then evolve the relationship based on where you want the characters to go, or, what part of the characters you want to reveal(and remember, you can't have already revealed this). Establish a point a for each character. Determine what direction you want them heading, and develop the relationship, based on that direction or any additional twists you have in their individual relationships. Characters aren't meant to explore relationships, relationships are meant to explore characters.

With that, I conclude my sermon. Be free Gryphon, may greatness greet you wherever you may head.

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:42 pm

Well, I'm saddened that you didn't like it. Hopefully the next one will be better on that respect.

As for Kensuke and Mari...

Spoilers for the story. Open at own risk.  SPOILER: Show
I don't really plan on doing anything with them. I intentionally gave a nod in that direction, sure, but its only purpose is to set up an inside joke for one of my other stories later on. Mari has quite a few other and more important priorities in her mind than romance with a random guy off the street, and it's not like she did anything that could have been considered a false flag, as far as she's concerned. She only greeted him like men and women from half of Europe (bar Asuka) commonly greet each other.
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:22 am

Bit of a short update, today. I decided to go ahead and get that Interlude I talked about last time going and, while it's not too extensive, I do hope it will get some people thinking. ^_^

Interlude 1  SPOILER: Show
A single light shone in a storeroom within NERV HQ, the one that had flicked its activator carefully and silently shutting the only access to the room behind her. The person who had entered was a woman sporting NERV technical division fatigues, one more from the vast amount that toiled everyday within the large pyramid. She was average in most respects: not plain, but not striking. Not short, but not tall, either. Not boring, but not exceedingly charming. She was, for all intents and purposes, a very forgettable face in the daily chaos involved in running Humanity’s last line of defence.

And that worked out all the better for her, as far as she was concerned.

The tech specialist walked further inside the storeroom, searching for something amongst the tools, parts and other assorted items kept within. She checked the shelves and cabinets with hurry and attention, until she stumbled upon what she was looking for half-hidden in a dark corner of the room: a set of six heavy-looking rectangular boxes stacked on top of one another.

Letting out an irritated sigh and grumbling to herself about how people always seemed to creatively interpret their orders, the woman took hold of each box and began to carefully set them on the floor one by one until they lay in two sets of three, parallel to one another. She then knelt in front of the first container and began to pat its backside, fingers travelling up and down the surface as if looking for something. A brief exploration that yielded results when a tiny, camouflaged spot of the silver box gave in to the pressure and caused a hidden keypad to spring out of the container’s side. The woman focused her attention on the newly emerged device, closing her eyes for a moment before she pressed a finger against the keypad.

“...Two, eight, four, six, nine.” She muttered, depressing the numbers in the same order. The device responded in the way it was programmed to and, right as the last digit appeared within the keypad’s display, a confirmation sound came from it and the container it was affixed to opened up with the unmistakable hiss of decompression.

Five more hisses followed, letting her know that the seal on the other containers had been broken, as well.

The woman then stood and took off her jacket, revealing little more than a tank top underneath as she abandoned the discarded piece of clothing on the ground with little care, preferring to reach out towards her naked left shoulder, instead. Her fingers caressed the exposed flesh for a few moments and then bit in, parting the skin with little effort and allowing her to displace the shoulder out of its socket.

The entirety of the woman’s left arm then came off with a pop, and she placed the artificial limb between her legs, the stump that had once been connected to her shoulder facing upwards. The now one-armed female looked into the stump’s hole, quickly identifying a small storing device in the shape of a revolver’s drum, with six thin cylinders housed inside of it.

She retrieved one of them and held it in her right hand, before crushing the cylinder like one would a survival flare and then tossing it into the open container before her. A soft glow coming out of the box let her know that the process was developing correctly, and so she grabbed her detached arm once more and stepped towards another box, repeating the entire process for each of the other five.

When that was done, she quickly reattached her left arm onto its shoulder and let it hang limp, flexing her fingers as much as she could to ensure that it was passably connected until she had the opportunity to properly do so. Finally, she walked back to the first container and inspected the cargo held within, nodding in satisfaction before she reached out towards the back of it and made sure to hide the keypad once again.

The woman then put on her jacket with some difficulty, inserting her left hand inside a pocket when she was done. That would prove enough to disguise its lifeless nature in a building where most people didn’t give each other a second glance.

“The cargo is live,” the woman reported, touching her ear.

“Excellent work, Y-752,” complimented the voice of her handler. “Have any of our tracking hounds marked prey as of yet?”

“Nothing concrete, Arthur. We’ll keep you apprised of any developments as we continue our investigations.”

“Do so. The shipment of Violets will arrive imminently, and I need not remind you that time is of the essence for the continued success of the operation.”

“Roger, we’ll redouble our efforts. Out.”

With a flick of her finger, the agent killed the connection. She then took a few seconds to ensure that no trace of her presence or her activities remained either on her person or in the storage room, turning the lights off and leaving the area like a perfectly normal NERV employee once she had completed a sweep of it to her satisfaction.

Swiftly, blackness enveloped most of the storage room once again. And it would have remained so, undisturbed until the morning work shift arrived the next day and began their daily routine of maintenance and logistics...

...had it not been for the million reddish pinpricks that slowly came to life and broke the darkness.
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Currently working on a new project: An Insider's Look

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:13 am

Update time, and we're going back to Shinji for this chapter in order to advance his side of the plot a little bit. This update is a little on the short side of things, however, since it's just meant to set up the rest of the upcoming scenes.

Also, I've been kinda busy this week getting things ready for my holidays. I'm going out for about two weeks, and while I'll continue writing on my laptop whenever I have the time and feel like it, I'm afraid that wi-fi connections for it are going to be fairly spotty where I'm going. I'll try to keep up with the updates, but if one of them lands at some other time than next Sunday, now you know why. ^_^

Chapter 8-1  SPOILER: Show
“You had to run away because of a volcano, you say?”

“Y-Yeah.”

“One which spat a lot of white-hot boulders, many of which came dangerously close to hurting you?”

“...Hm-mm.”

“...And one of those rocks reduced my beautiful farm to cinders?”

“...I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. How’s any of that your fault?” Asuka reassured the morose young man with a sigh, grumbling as she continued to inspect the gaping hole that stretched from one end of the farmhouse to the other. “Still, first she sends me away and forces me to walk back and now this? ...It’s as if I’ve become the butt-monkey of some greater power, I tell you.

“Oh, well. Gotta stay positive,” the redhead ultimately decided, her usual cheer slowly creeping back into her voice. “At least the crops are alright and I can fix the structure itself after she stops blocking me. Hopefully it won’t collapse before then.”

She then turned back towards Shinji again. In spite of nothing threatening being in sight, the Third Child had been running for his life when she had come across him a short while ago, and convincing him to accompany her back to the farmstead was a feat that had required quite some effort out of Asuka. She had, admittedly, found the young man’s initial volcano story to be sort of silly, as well (or some sort of elaborate joke by either of her sisters), but that clearly was not the case anymore.

The fact that she had been none the wiser about such a drastic change in the real Asuka’s psyche until she had seen it for herself did nothing to boost her optimism on her steadily diminishing powers, though.

But that was a worry for another time. At that moment, the redhead decided to instead focus her attention on the now sitting young man, who had taken to contemplating some deep question or another. He had been doing so for quite some time already, eyes locked on a piece of ex-farm that would have appeared to be of extreme interest to him, if only he were actually looking at it.

“Are those whirring noises I hear coming from your head, Shinji?” Asuka asked him in her usual upbeat. “What’cha thinking about?”

“Huh?” Shinji mumbled, breaking out of his daze and looking at Asuka. The Third Child kept his eyes on her for a few moments, before sighing and going back to fixating on the ground. “...It’s nothing. I’m just thinking about what Maisie said.”

“‘Maisie’?” Asuka echoed, eyes narrowing at the unfamiliar name. “...Is that who I think it is?”

“Umm... I guess? If you’re talking about one of you who looks straight out of a horror film, at least,” Shinji’s shoulders sagged a bit further. “Anyway, I told her that I wanted to help Asuka, but she just...”

“She just what?”

The Third Child’s reply was not a quick one, the breeze that streaked throughout the open fields filling the void for a few, extended moments, instead. And somehow, in that silence, the young man managed to look even glummer.

“...She made me see how much of an idiot I am.” Shinji finally spoke, burying his head behind his knees.

“What?!” Asuka exclaimed. “Why did she-?!”

But then, his companion fell silent with a quiet gasp, and the reason why became clear when Shinji heard steps coming closer to his position. He paid them no heed, though. In spite of her sudden silence, Asuka had not reacted badly, after all, so chances were that whatever was approaching wasn’t dangerous. It was probably some minor aspect or another that Shinji didn’t feel like dealing with at that moment in time, anyway, like that Asuka that had looked like a fairytale knight.

...

...Or so the Third Child thought. That line of thought was quickly debunked when the new arrival stepped right in front of him and ruffled his hair, causing the young man to recoil back in surprise and emerge from his hastily erected fort.

The one who had touched him was a young woman, but not one that Shinji recognized. She sported striking red glasses before blue eyes that danced with mirth and mischief and her dark hair, a middle-ground between dark brown and red, was done in twin-tails and framed an affable expression.

She was certainly very pretty to the Third Child’s eyes, a view that only became even more evident when the girl offered him a bright smile and a flirtatious wink. She then happily continued on her way, her steps taking the giggles of the strange girl farther and farther until she got lost in the fog.

“...W-Who was that?” Shinji asked when he managed to find his voice, staring at where the newcomer had left from. “Is she a friend of Asuka’s? From before she came to Japan?”

“...Doesn’t ring a bell.” His companion replied, bewildered eyes stuck to the same spot.

“I’d be shocked if it did,” a grouchy voice suddenly cut in. “You haven’t actually met her.”

Asuka and Shinji stared at each other for an instant, before turning in sync towards the ruined farm. On the roof, and leaning against the chimney, now stood a familiar plugsuited redhead.

“Ace!” the young man exclaimed. “You know who that was?”

“That’s the Fifth Child,” the Pilot explained, before jumping off the ruined roof and throwing a cocky smirk Shinji’s way. “Your replacement, Third.”

“My... replacement?” Shinji echoed, a strange feeling forming in the pit of his stomach, although he could not exactly pinpoint the reason why.

Was it a feeling of disappointment at being succeeded as an EVA Pilot, therefore failing at his duties? With the added knowledge that someone else would need to pick up and suffer where he had slipped?

...Or was it due to the other reason why a replacement would be necessary? That the Doctors might have made too small an advance in understanding his ailment, or, even worse...

...that they might think his condition completely unrecoverable?

“Yup! Can’t say I like her that much, though. Her so-called humour is as terrible as Misato’s,” Ace’s grumbling brought Shinji out of his musings. “Besides, she’s a greenhorn with no combat experience...”

The Pilot then crossed her arms and looked away, adding in a low voice that she must have thought inaudible.

“...Not to mention she can’t keep her damn hands to herself.”

“Huh?” the young man inquired, having caught on part of it. “What was that about her hands, Ace?”

“Nothing! Anyway, let’s stop talking about her, alright?!” the Pilot quickly deflected, before pointing an accusing finger back at Shinji. “So, why are you brooding this time, Third?”

“I’m not brooding.” The Third Child grumbled back, but his efforts were only met with one of Ace’s usual scoffs.

“Right. And I’m as terrible a Pilot as you are.”

“Peace, you two,” Asuka quickly cut in between the two confronting parts before an argument ended up erupting between them. It wouldn’t be the first time such a thing happened, after all, and certainly not the last. “He said something about a ‘Maisie’ making him feel like an idiot.”

“Really?” the Pilot promptly jeered, breaking down into guffaws. “And here I thought he could do that by himself!”

When she failed laughing, though, she raised her eyes to notice that where there had previously been a single pair of narrowed eyes glaring at her, now, there were two.

“Oh, come on! Don’t look at me like that!” Ace threw her hands in the air, rolling her eyes at the same time. “Jeez! One little joke and they crucify you!

“Besides, isn’t it about time that you got off your lazy ass, Third? You’re not gonna prove her wrong just by sitting around!” the plugsuited redhead continued, hands on her hips and mirroring a pose that the Third child had seen his Asuka do plenty of times, before. “Thinking is fine, but sometimes you just gotta do, you know?”

“And how am I supposed to do?” Shinji responded, irritated, before shooting back to his feet. “I know what I said before, but she is right! I’ve never managed to figure Asuka out! Every time I thought I learned something about her, she would throw my expectations right back at my face five minutes later! It’s always been like that!

“How am I going to help someone I don’t understand?!”

“Then it’s clear what we’ve got to do, right?”

Shinji blinked in confusion, the reply the young man had received not conforming to his assumptions. He had expected Ace to argue back and call him a wimp or something similar, but it wasn’t her who had actually spoken. In fact, said redhead was looking curiously at her other, clearly as taken aback as Shinji was.

Slowly, the Third Child turned to look at Asuka, succinctly posing his answer to what the girl had just asked:

“...Huh?”

“You want to ‘understand Asuka’, don’t you?” the optimistic redhead elaborated with a cool smile. She then threw a fist up in the air. “That’s simple, then. We’ll help you do just that!”

“Wait, ‘we’?” Ace quickly protested. “When did I sign up on anything?”

“You thought that your penalty for losing our little fight was pretty insignificant, didn’t you?” Asuka countered, grinning shamelessly. “Then you can consider this a part of that, too. Besides, I’m going to need your help, anyway.”

“...You dirty little-” the Pilot muttered, glaring at Asuka. It wasn’t long before she relented, however. “...Fine, fine. But we’re clear after this, you hear? So, what did you have in mind?”

Her grin quickly going from shameless to scheming, Asuka stepped next to Ace and began to whisper words in her ear. The two of them remained like that for quite some time, and it was during those tense seconds when Shinji saw Ace’s expression morph from her characteristic frown, to a more neutral look and finally, into a small smile.

The Third Child’s mood, in turn, went pretty much in the opposite direction.

“Oh, so you want to start with that.” Ace finally spoke when her accomplice finished her explanation. The plugsuited redhead then threw a faux-pleasant look Shinji’s way, and her charming smile quickly turned into a wide smirk that bordered on sadistic. “...I like it.”

Whatever was going to happen, it was clear that there was no way the Third Child was going to be running away from it. Not when one of the girls before him could sweet-talk him into compliance and the other could effortlessly drag him wherever he was needed.

Shinji Ikari hung his head, sensing the encroaching doom in his future.

“...This is the part where I regret all my decisions, isn’t it?”
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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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:16 pm

Update time, maybe the last one in a small while. I'm beginning the second leg of my trip, which means that I'm going to be sticking to phone navigation to fulfill my Internet needs for a couple of days.

As far as the piece goes, this one's probably a bit rougher than normal since it hasn't gone through the full rigor of the beta process, but it's still good enough that it can be uploaded after that early warning, methinks. Don't be afraid to let me know if you come upon something that reads wrong or could be better put in some other way, though. The feedback will be more than apreciated, as always.

Enjoy! ^_^

Chapter 8-2  SPOILER: Show
“This is... a mountain?”

“Got it in one!” Ace smirked mockingly at the young man. “Your observational skills never fail to amaze me, Third. What gave it away?”

Shinji threw a dirty look in the Pilot’s direction, but resisted the urge to actually answer her taunt. It was obviously what she wanted, so he wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction. Instead, the Third Child decided to pose the most pressing question in his head at his other guide.

“Why are we here?”

“It’s part of our help!” Asuka cheerfully, but not very usefully, responded.

“How is a... mountain going to help?” Shinji argued back, motioning towards the fairly steep incline before him. The fog around that area seemed to be less dense than that of other places, as well, offering enough vision to let the young man know that the peak in particular went for quite some distance in the vertical axis. Chances were that the bits he could see were just the very bottom part of it, too.

“It’s not the mountain itself that’s going to help, silly! It’s what you’re going to do!” Asuka elaborated. “You’re going to be climbing to the top!”

Shinji had to fight hard his urge to wince. After all, he had already figured that something along those lines was afoot, but Asuka’s concise explanation failed to elaborate on the reason as to...

“...Why?”

“We’re full of questions today, aren’t we, Third?” Ace interrupted and began to impatiently push the young man forward, much to his chagrin. “But why don’t you just save them and get to climbing, already?!”

“Wait!” Shinji struggled valiantly but to very little avail. “At least tell me how tall we are talking here!”

“Oh, you don’t want to know.”

“I do want to know!”

“Well then, that’s too bad for you: because I’m not telling!” Ace grinned evilly and gave the Third Child one final push, before jumping back to stand right beside Asuka. She then raised her hand and snapped her fingers... “And voilá!”

...and a reddish barrier suddenly manifested between Shinji and the two Asukas.

“W-What is this...?” the young man muttered, pressing his hands against the wall. It was warm to the touch and obviously solid, but there was very little else he could infer from it. At least it didn’t hurt him.

‘I guess Ace is feeling generous today.’

“I’ve sealed you alone with the mountain,” said redhead elaborated, smirking widely. “Don’t worry, it won’t bite.”

“...And why did you do that?” Shinji questioned, his nervousness starting to give way to annoyance.

Not that Ace allowed such a thing to affect her.

“Why this, why that...” the Pilot grumbled back with a roll of her eyes. “Gott in Himmel, don’t you ever get tired of asking the same things?”

“Not when I’m dealing with your ideas. Must be an acquired trait.”

“...Cheeky,” Ace replied, narrowing her gaze at the young man. But slowly, a commending smile began to appear on her face. “Oh well, if you must know, the barrier’s purpose is twofold: to have nothing interrupt your climb and to make sure that you don’t try to take any easy ways out.

“And with that said, the explanations are done! Get to work, Third! The sooner you start...”

“...the sooner you will be done!” Asuka finished, pumping a fist in the air. “Do your best, Shinji!”

Ace then put a hand on Asuka’s shoulder and, just like that, the both of them vanished without a trace as instantly as the group had arrived.

Shinji, for his part, let out a resigned sigh as he turned towards the mountain once again.

Ace’s precautions and Asuka’s encouragements aside, it’s not like he had much of a choice in the matter, anyway. He really couldn’t go anywhere on his own, what with not having a clue as to where he was in relation to the now ruined farmstead. He would have to depend on Ace to get him back, just as they had relied on her to come here in the first place.

Which meant that he had an indeterminately tall mountain to climb, no matter what. The more Shinji thought about his task, however, the more he found himself objecting less and less to having to carry it out.

“If this is really going to help me understand Asuka...” the Third Child whispered to himself, slightly more determined eyes turning skyward.

And it was so, that Shinji took his first few steps on his way to the top.


>-O]|[O-<​


The first few hundred metres of incline were simple enough. The surface was grassy, and the clearly marked pathways and gentle slopes made the trek easily manageable even for someone as athletically inexperienced as the Third Child. It was something more akin to a scenic hiking route, rather than the gruelling test of fitness that Ace had made it sound to be, and Shinji had been more than happy for that.

But the lenient introduction soon gave way to harder trials: solid and dry well-trodden paths steadily became coated in mud, making movement difficult for someone without proper footwear. The severity of the inclines quickly turned harsher and more erratic, as well, sapping the energy out of Shinji’s legs with every climbed hill and giving the young man little time to recover before he hit the next one.

Nevertheless, he made progress. And while the fog made it so that he had no way of knowing how close or far from his goal he actually was, Shinji was fully aware of that fact.

‘...Maybe it’s better this way,’ the young Ikari contemplated, having decided to stop and rest for a few minutes on a nearby stone. ‘If I don’t know how much is left, I can just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Eventually, I’ll reach the top.

‘...I hope.’

Allowing his mind to wander during his short break, Shinji couldn’t help but wonder that maybe he should have taken Kensuke up on some of his past offers to go camping. After all, his friend had let him know time and time again that he made a habit out of doing some light trekking whenever he wasn’t busy with single-handedly re-enacting some famous battle or another. Having some more stamina and overall tolerance towards physical exertion would have surely made the young man’s current predicament far more manageable.

‘Then again, how was I supposed to know that I’d need to climb the Himalayas?’ Shinji inwardly groaned, massaging his thighs to try and relieve some of the stiffness in them. Clearly, if there was a certainty in the Third Child’s future, it was that he was going to be feeling sore all over before long. ‘...With some luck, Asuka’s farm will be fixed by the time I finish. I’m going to need a lot of sleep after-’

“It hasn’t been long since you started your journey, and you’re already exhausted?” a familiar voice suddenly broke into his thoughts from the side “Is this how far your will takes you, Ikari?”

And, sure enough, when Shinji turned his head towards the source, he found Maisie sitting on a nearby rocky outcropping. She was dangling her feet from the side and staring down on him, giving the Third Child a judgmental look. A look akin to the ones his Asuka had taken to throwing his way before the last Angel battle, whenever she wasn’t mad at him for some reason or another.

“I’m just... catching my breath,” the young man grumbled back, withering slightly under the scrutiny despite his best efforts. “Go away.”

“So chivalrous... But no. I believe I shall stay,” the girl answered, smiling wickedly. “I would so hate to miss the moment when you give up and run away, after all.”

He didn’t know if it was due to the words themselves or the mocking tone that had accompanied them, perhaps it was even due to the merciless manner in which she had put him down during their first meeting, but the young Ikari nevertheless felt a roaring need to prove the hideous girl wrong. Shinji quickly stood and hurried on his way, fully intending to leave Maisie behind, much to the protests of his leg muscles.

Efforts that proved for naught when, much to his chagrin, Shinji soon heard rustles behind him that denoted how she had begun to follow him.

“Abandoning a lady without even a proper goodbye, Ikari?” the taunts didn’t take long, and the Third Child clenched his jaw and focused on the path, trying his best to ignore them. “Forget unchivalrous. You truly are as useless a man as they come, are you not?”

“What are you even doing here?”

“I can go where I please,” the girl replied, and Shinji heard a rustle of clothes behind him. He correctly figured that Maisie had crossed her arms haughtily, in lieu of the mannerisms she had previously shown. “I see no need to justify myself to you.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Shinji grumbled back, forming a dome shape with his hands. “Ace made... a barrier thingy. Said no one could enter it without her knowing.”

“…Oh, that,” Maisie briefly coughed into her hand, her usual tone quickly returning after her faux-pas. “I’m afraid that she is nowhere near as powerful or influential as she believes herself to be. Our liege’s mindset may have made a marginal shift towards optimism, but such a change is but a drop in an ocean of despair.”

“...Right,” the Third Child grumbled, tensing as the Doll advanced to his side. “A-And your opinion is more important than theirs because...?”

“Because I am she, and she is me. I am the greatest and most important part of her psyche,” Maisie grinned superiorly, cloth hand hovering over the spot where her heart would have been in an almost Napoleonic way. “Compared to me, those two others are but leaves in the wind, transient and inconsequential. I was here from the beginning, and I shall be here at the end.”

Shinji couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Truthful or not, she certainly had the arrogant part down to a tee.

“Besides, the distinction is evident in just how little they know: Glory? Adulation? Companionship?” Maisie continued, spitting the last word. “Inconsequential, all of them. As I myself prove, the only thing Asuka wishes for is the cold, comforting embrace of oblivion.”

The Third Child slowed to a stop at those words, eyes narrowing at his companion.

“…No way.”

“Averting your eyes from the truth, Ikari?” Maisie leered over her shoulder, never stopping. “How very... you.”

“I’m not averting my eyes from anything,” the Third Child loudly shot back. “I’m just calling bullshit on that.”

This time, it was Maisie who stopped, slowly turning around until she was facing Shinji once again. And then, in a flash, she had moved to stand right before the Third Child’s face.

“Excuse me?” the Doll’s lips pressed into a thin line, a cool fury beginning to pool in her eyes. “Did you just presume to tell me I am wrong?”

“I don’t know anything about what happened to Asuka. I’m pretty sure I never got a good look at who Asuka really is, just like you said,” the young Ikari evenly responded, trying his best not to show just how creeped out he was. “But from what little I know, if there’s a thing I’m sure of, it’s that the girl I spent a week training with, and many more living with, doesn’t just want to be forgotten.

“And I’ll prove it to you. I’ll find a way to talk to Asuka and I will help her,” Shinji kept his momentum, snarling at Maisie and pushing past her. “I’ll help her until you have no reasons left to say such awful things again!”

Now scowling, the Third Child stomped his way forward and continued his climb at a rate previously unseen. And he did so alone for some time, too, although it wasn’t too long until he could feel Maisie’s presence hovering right behind him.

Floating quite literally, in fact.

“Such strong convictions…” Maisie whispered to herself, in what the young man thought to be an appraising tone. “You truly are different from all those other Shinjis, aren’t you?”

But whatever Shinji believed he had briefly heard was gone just as quickly: as his unwanted companion glided past his side and effortlessly kept pace with him just a pair of steps ahead, the young man was quick to see that a superior smile had found its way back onto Maisie’s face.

“Very well, then, I shall accept your challenge. Struggle on, Ikari. Try your hardest to prove me wrong,” she confidently confronted, her grin becoming wider. “But know that I shall be watching you cling to your misguided views, and that I shall be there when it all comes down crashing around you.”

“Sure,” the Third Child retorted just as boldly, intending to end the argument right then and there and prompt the half-girl to finally leave him in peace. “Knock yourself out.”

And Shinji succeeded in his intentions, as far as settling the discussion went. His companion had surprisingly allowed him to have the last word, and he could now go back to focusing on the task at hand...

...if not for the fact that Maisie was still by his side. She was keeping to herself for a change, sure, but she was still there and every little bit as daunting as ever. Coupled with what measure of bravado Shinji Ikari had managed to previously conjure proving as fleeting as it had been effective, the Third Child soon became painfully aware of how just little his efforts had done to change his situation.

“Umm...” the young man eventually spoke when he finally reached his wit’s end. “Why are you still here?”

“Did you forget, already?” Maisie scoffed in response, quickly breaking herself out of whatever thoughts she was contemplating. “I have no need to justify-”

“That’s not what I meant! It’s just-” Shinji groaned in exasperation, randomly motioning with his hands in ways that not even himself could actually decipher. “You... finished your big speech! I thought you were just... going to go away after that.”

“And why would I do that?” the Doll raised an artificial eyebrow, staring at Shinji as if he were an alien. “Didn’t you hear me say that I would watch you cling to your misguided views? Or is your hearing just as impaired as your logic?”

“No... I just... didn’t think you were being quite so literal about it.”

A scalding glare was all the answer the Third Child received for what felt like hours, making him feel like he had said the most stupid thing ever. Which, if Maisie’s expression was to be any indication, he probably had.

“...What a foolish fool you are.”
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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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby sonichu » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:08 pm

Still enjoying every chapter of this. Please keep them coming.

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:30 am

View Original Postsonichu wrote:Still enjoying every chapter of this. Please keep them coming.


Thanks. People might not think them too important or worth saying, but little things like that do help at keeping the motivation going. :D
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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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:20 am

Sorry for missing out on the last update, but I was busy on my trip and this one was a large update that I didn't want to split. I think it came out fairly alright, but let me know what you guys think. ^_^

On the topic of chapters, we might be two or three scenes away from the end of this one, depending on how I decide to handle things. We'll see how that goes.

Chapter 8-3  SPOILER: Show
Shinji continued the ascent with his unwanted companion in tow, the sound of his heavy footsteps interspersing with a litany of veiled (and not so veiled) insults and criticisms. Background noise which proved to be more than a bit annoying to the Third Child, the young man fervently wishing on more than one occasion that he could have his trusty SDAT back.

Sadly, his yearning was to no avail, and the only music Shinji’s ears heard for a very, very long time was the one created by Maisie’s nagging. Still, and to prove that every problem had a silver lining to it, such a frustrating situation actually helped Shinji retrain one of the talents he had valued the most ever since his arrival at Tokyo-3:

The ability to tune Asuka out.

Practise of this skill turned a gruelling experience into a gruelling experience marginally less grating on his sanity, which made the following hours slightly more tolerable. But then, right around the time when Shinji was beginning to feel rather optimistic about his trials, Fate saw it fit to throw yet another curve ball his way, this time in the form of a new surface to tread.

Gone were the forests and the muddy but still verdant paths, leaving way to a gray horizon of gravel and loose stone that introduced a whole new set of challenges to the already exhausted Third Child, most important of which was the lack of a solid foundation for his feet to step and push from. More than once did Shinji catch himself needing to do last-second adjustments to his posture in order to prevent himself from stumbling to the ground, and this problem only became more exacerbated when the mountain’s incline grew harsher.

Faced with this new dilemma, Shinji tried snaking his way up the mountain to lacking results, the loose stone proving just as precarious no matter which angle he tried and, in the end, the Third Child swallowed his pride and crouched down onto all fours. Using the lower centre of gravity to his advantage, he achieved some semblance of forward progress once more...

“Crawling along the ground like that is a look that certainly suits you, Ikari.”

...although such an approach was not without its fair share of negatives, either.

“Shut up,” the Third Child spat out, his words barely managing to come out in between heaving breaths.

“But how could I stop myself from commenting on such a sorry sight, and everything it entails? A creeping monkey shall be the key towards a better future? Please,” Maisie scoffed in disgust, lazily hovering next to the young man. “The two of them must be truly desperate if they fail to realise the absurdity of their claims, although I figure that there is no greater blindness than a lack of desire to see.”

“Bet you wouldn’t be so chipper if you were sweating half as much as I am,” Shinji shot back, glaring at the girl to little effect. “I’d love to see you climb this thing my way.”

“I already have, you dimwit. I can’t believe you still haven’t managed to figure that out,” the half-girl replied just as hotly, narrowing her eyes. “Then again, this is the same person that can’t understand the laws of this realm even after spending so much time in it, so I suppose that all expectations should be tempered.”

“And how am I supposed to know? I’m not a... major aspect or whatever, like the three of you!”

“That’s precisely why you should be far more aware of the power of cognition than any of us. And yet, here you are.”

“...Cognition?” Shinji echoed. “You mean like... perception and understanding?”

“Of course, you dolt! Think about it: if you possess a physical form due to your own cognition-” Maisie suddenly cut herself off, appearing to think better of her explanation. “...On second thought, I should refrain. Knowing would sabotage a big part of this little exercise, and it probably wouldn’t be nearly as effective as a result. It would spoil my fun, as well.”

“Hey, wait! What was that you were saying?!”

“Nothing,” Maisie deflected, floating further forward. “Quit your babbling and continue your feeble ascent. I tire of this test.”

“...I don’t know how many times I’ve said that you can leave whenever...”

But if the Third Child’s grumblings were actually heard, his companion showed no signs of having actually done so. Not that the young man was about to test his luck any further than that. Instead, and resigning himself to his ill-deserved fate, Shinji focused back on his duty.

At least, until he felt a chilling sensation go down his back, one that made the hairs on his neck bristle. Worried, the Third Child quickly turned around and scanned the path he had come from, but there was nothing that caught his attention within his limited field of view.

"What is it now, Ikari?" Maisie impatiently called out after just a few moments, forcing the young man to cut his investigation short.

"...It's probably nothing."

'It felt like someone was watching me, though,' Shinji thought for an instant, before he turned back around with a shake of his head. ‘Must be my imagination. Ace did say that I would be on my own, here.’

His eyes then landed on the ill-humoured and expectant Maisie.

‘Then again...’

The Doll reacted to the pointed stare that was being thrown her way with yet another huff, and prepared herself to go into what Shinji expected to be one more tirade. But then, and just as she opened her mouth and Shinji got ready to resume ignoring her, Maisie caught herself and intently stared at a spot just past him.

Frowning, the half-girl made a motion with her hand and suddenly vanished from sight.

‘Huh?’ The Third Child hurried over to the spot she had occupied, with no small measure of surprise. ‘Did she really just leave?’

“Hiya, Shinji!”

And then, a similar yet completely different voice beckoned him from the side.

“...Eh?” Shinji quickly turned towards the familiar sound. And just a second later, he found himself gaping. “W-W-WHAT THE HELL?!”

Asuka and Ace had somehow just appeared a few steps to his left, lazily riding what appeared to be a giant escalator, one that seemed to stretch from bottom to top of the mountain and that certainly hadn’t been there an instant ago. The pair waved at him when he made eye contact and sent twin smiles his way, one encouraging and the other full of smug.

“Hey, Third. How’s the workout going?”

“You- You know how it’s going! What’s the big idea, making this place so damn huge?!” the young man protested, letting the Pilot know exactly what was in his mind. He then pointed to the completely out of place contraption. “And what’s with THAT?!”

Oooh, so cranky!” Ace snarked back. “Is the wittle baby Shinji tired already? Is it time for his afternoon na-MMPH?!”

“Cut it out, you,” Asuka quickly put a hand over the Pilot’s mouth, preventing another argument from erupting. She then turned towards Shinji, smiling sweetly even as her other vainly attempted to escape her grasp. “Don’t mind her. You’re doing great, Shinji!”

“Umm... Thanks, but...” the Third Child pointed at the struggling redhead. “Isn’t she going to be angry after that?”

“Don’t care, she had it coming. I explicitly told her not to tease you, you know?” Asuka grumbled, annoyed, tightening her hold further. “She almost ruined the entire point of us showing up like this in the first place.”

“Point? What point?”

Asuka froze the very moment she heard Shinji’s suspicion-laden words.

“...Whoops,” she mumbled under her breath, before sending a sunny (and obviously fake) smile the young man’s way. “F-Forget you heard anything, Shinji!”

“Or how about you tell me what all of this is supposed to teach me, already?”

“No! Can’t do! Not yet!” Asuka furiously shook her head and the escalator sped up drastically, separating the pair from Shinji at the pace of a speeding car. “Keep it up, Shinji! Remember what you felt right now!”

“Hey! Wait! I said wait!” the Third Child called out to them, but his efforts soon proved useless. In just a few moments they were out of sight. “...And they’re gone.

“...What was that about...?” the young Ikari let out a deep sigh, irritated and exhausted in equal measures.

“...I see, so that’s what they’re doing. Clever girls,” Maisie’s voice suddenly commented from his side. “...Or so I’d have said if they had not managed to almost sabotage themselves with their ineptitude.”

“ACK!” Shinji promptly sprang out of the way. “W-Where were you?!”

“Right here, obviously. I merely hid myself,” Maisie smiled, amused. “Seeing the look of shock on the faces of those two as they realise just how powerless they are would have certainly been nice, but I can’t be bothered to deal with the annoying fallout of such an action.”

“...I don’t think I want to know,” Shinji eventually shook his head when he managed to get his heart-rate under control. “Anyway, you really know what they’re up to?”

“I heavily suspect, but it is not my place to tell you,” the Doll shrugged, before pointing forwards with a cloth finger. “Should you want to know the answer to your question, you need but to reach the top. Not too long to go now.

“But this is where we part ways for the moment, Ikari,” Maisie continued, turning towards him with a wide smirk. “Do amuse me in the days to come, won’t you? I shall be watching.”

And with a second flick of her hand, she was gone. For good this time, Shinji hoped.


>-O]|[O-<​


“Not bad, Third. I’ll be honest, a big part of me didn’t think you had it in you.”

Shinji threw a dirty look the Pilot’s way, but bee lined his way to a comfy-looking rock without any actual words. After all, and while the last stretch of his climb might have been short when compared to all the effort he had gone through already, the Third Child had needed to use every little ounce of his remaining energy to make it to the end. Out of breath as he was, he couldn’t have replied to Ace’s sass even if he had wanted to.

“Oh, come on. Theatrics much?” said redhead continued unimpeded. “Don’t tell me that the mighty Third Child is reduced to this after just a little bit of exercise. If only Misato could see you now...”

“Cut... the crap,” the young man finally spoke back, brushing the back of his hand against his forehead and creating a waterfall of sweat. “What was... that about, earlier?”

“Straight to the point, huh? You’re no fun,” Ace made a big show out of pouting, before she turned towards Asuka. “Although it is getting a bit late outside, really. What do you say we get this thing started?”

The optimistic redhead sent her other a warning look, but promptly nodded her head in agreement and focused her attention on Shinji.

“All right!” Ace cheered. “Tell me, Third: when you saw us go past you earlier, what did you feel?”

“...Huh?”

“This is important, Shinji,” Asuka added, sounding stern towards him for only the second time since he had met her. “Please take it seriously.”

“I... I don’t know,” Shinji stuttered, still taken aback by the strange question. “I was... confused?”

“Sorry, we meant before this big dummy opened her big mouth, actually,” Asuka elaborated with a grimace, pointing a finger at Ace. “Right when we first showed up, riding that escalator.”

“The moment I saw you?” the Third Child echoed, thinking back. “I was annoyed, I guess.”

“Really?” Ace jumped in, stepping closer to Shinji with a knowing smirk. “You were only annoyed when you saw us cruise along, making a mockery of all your hard work?”

“...Fine, I was angry. More pissed off than I’ve been all day,” Shinji expanded, turning to face the Pilot’s mocking. “Why?”

“Really? Well, then I’d say that it worked like a charm!” Ace turned towards Asuka, looking very proud of herself. “See? That’s why my encouragements were necessary!”

“Whatever you say, just get on with it,” said redhead replied with a weary roll of her eyes. She then stepped back a little, putting some space between herself and the other two. “You handle it from here.”

“...I don’t follow,” Shinji declared, watching how Asuka retreated before he turned accusing eyes towards Ace. “But this better not have been some elaborate joke.”

“Oh shush, you big baby,” the Pilot deflected, condescendingly patting his head and stepping past him. “We just said it’s important, didn’t we?”

Ace then moved towards the edge of the summit and stopped with her back towards him, Shinji warily moving to follow a few moments later after pausing to seek Asuka’s assurance. The Third Child was then taken aback when he reached the Pilot’s side, finding that her expression had turned far more serious and less grouchy than Shinji had seen in... probably ever.

That alone was signal enough for him to show some attention, although he was still reluctant to speak up first.

“This mountain is a metaphor.” The Pilot eventually spoke, saving Shinji the obvious question.

“A... metaphor?” the young Ikari repeated, recalling the well-known artistic term. “A metaphor for what?”

“For Asuka’s training towards becoming an EVA Pilot.”

“A metaphor for EVA?”

“Can you stop repeating what I just said?” Ace glared at the boy beside her, a bit of her usual self creeping back into her words.

“...Sorry.”

Only to palm her face at the more than predictable answer she received.

“You just don’t learn, do youn Third?” the Pilot sighed through her fingers, then allowed her hand to limply fall back to her side. “Whatever, just be quiet for a bit until story time is over, hmm?”

Ace threw a pointed look the young man’s way and awaited an answer. It came in the form of a hesitant nod after the Third Child’s loud gulp almost echoed down the mountainside.

Satisfied, the Pilot began her tale:

“Like I said, this is a metaphor for Asuka’s training as an EVA Pilot. It’s obviously condensed because we can’t have you doing this thing for the better part of a decade, but it should have given you a rough-”

“Did you just say a decade?!”

“...I said that you should be quiet, but I guess you didn’t catch that part,” Ace shot back with an annoyed glare, making her companion recoil back a bit. “Yeah, Asuka trained for about ten years, give or take. What of it?”

“It’s just... I didn’t think she had trained for that long,” Shinji elaborated. “I thought that she had been a Pilot for... two or three years at most.”

“HA! You don’t train something as important as a professional EVA Pilot in two or three years, Third!” Ace jeered, stabbing her index finger at Shinji’s chest. “Goes to show what you know.”

“...I would have known if she had just told me.”

“...Fair point,” Ace grudgingly conceded, going back to her spot. “In any case, Asuka’s training was a gruelling regime in mind and body both, but she threw herself at it with single-minded abandon. She learned military tactics, martial arts, weapon handling, and basically every other ability that a modern day soldier would need to master, and she did all of that at an age when most kids are struggling to learn the times tables. Impressive, isn’t it?”

Ace’s rhetorical question sounded off towards the horizon but it received no response, just as she had predicted. Instead, a deep silence settled between the two people at the edge of the summit, a silence in which Ace figured that, surely, Shinji was staring at her in awe-struck quiet.

But her theory shattered when Ace finally turned around to face the Third Child: he was indeed looking at her, but the look he was giving her was not one of silent awe, but rather one of silent disbelief. Bordering on scepticism, to be precise.

“What’s with that look?” the Pilot demanded.

“It’s... nothing,” Shinji denied, quickly shaking his head. “It’s nothing!”

“You suck at lying, Third. Out with it.”

“...You’ll get angry.”

“No, I won’t,” Ace reassured him, trying to sound truthful. Unfortunately, her honest words didn’t appear to reach her companion. “What? Do you want me to promise, Third?”

“Eh... yeah?”

“...Whatever, I promise. Out with it, already!”

“Okay...” Shinji finally caved in, taking a few more seconds to fidget on the spot and figure out how he wanted to proceed through the verbal minefield. “If... If Asuka has trained for so long and is so skilled in combat... howcomeshe’shadsomuchtroublefightingtheAngels?!”

Shinji braced himself for impact the very moment the last word left his mouth but, strangely enough, no actual raging strike struck any part of his body. Flabbergasted, the Third Child peeked through the slit between his arms, only to find Ace firmly clenching her fists with fire in her eyes.

“...You were right. That question is pissing me off quite a bit, Third. But I promised, didn’t I?” the redhead grumbled through tightly-pressed lips before she forced herself to relax. Not long after, her entire disposition had shifted towards indifference. “Whatever. It’s not like it doesn’t have a simple answer, anyway.”

“It... does?”

“Sure. I mean, how many Angels has Asuka fought that could have been beaten with conventional tactics?”

“...Oh.” The Third Child mouthed, perfectly understanding what Ace meant. The latest batch of Angels had been nothing like the first two he himself had faced, after all. It was reasonable to expect that Asuka and her proper training at the time when compared to him would have done a much better job than he had against the Third and Fourth Angels, maybe even the Fifth.

“Yup. Asuka could have handled those two small-fries in her sleep. Did so during the single EVA combat sim-tests on multiple occasions, in fact,” the Pilot agreed, managing to read Shinji’s mind. “That’s what an elite and properly trained top EVA Pilot can do. It’s just that being the best at regular combat proceedings matters jack shit in this war.”

“That’s something else I don’t understand. Why is Asuka so... obsessed with being the best?”

“That’s for later. But going back to Asuka becoming the top EVA Pilot, it should be enough to say that things didn’t go exactly as planned,” Ace grumbled. “Or rather, they did at the beginning, before they got seriously derailed at the end.”

“Derailed how?”

“...Funny that you would ask. But you only need to go back to some time ago, when the both of us came along to say hi,” the Pilot clarified, pointing to the incline Shinji had climbed. “Our means of transport wasn’t just for show, you know?”

The young man frowned, turning his companion’s words inside his head and following her finger. The gargantuan device that went from base to top of the mountain was still as out of place as ever.

“You mean that escalator is a... metaphor, too? For someone else’s EVA caree-?” The eyes of the Third Child suddenly widened in realisation. “...That’s me, isn’t it?”

“You’re damn right it is, Third. Congrats on figuring that one out,” Ace faux-praised his breakthrough, pointing a finger at the massive escalator. “That’s meant to illustrate the rise of a certain annoying boy, after he was pretty much picked up off the street and immediately put at the helm of an EVA.”

Shinji felt a pang of guilt when he heard his suspicions proven right, about how he had, as Ace had previously put it, made a mockery out of Asuka’s struggles with his own piloting. And while it might not have been at all intentional, this new knowledge did certainly help to put into perspective some of the reasons why the Second Child always seemed to be mad at him.

Especially Asuka’s increased hostility after Shinji managed to surpass her record synch-ratio. Having the achievement of a lifetime snatched away by someone who didn’t at all deserve it would make anyone furious.

It was no wonder Asuka hated him. And there was only one thing that Shinji thought could even start making it better:

“I-...” he began, bowing forward. “I’m so-”

But any more words were interrupted by the harsh contact of a rubbery hand against the back of his head.

OW! What was that for?!” the young Ikari immediately protested.

“Because you were about to apologise for being good at your job,” Ace chastised him with a critical look. “Do you realise just how stupid and dishonest that makes you sound?”

“But I am sorry!” Shinji argued back. “I didn’t mean to... to... stomp all over Asuka’s efforts like that! Didn’t you just say that this was something she trained for all her life?!”

“That still doesn’t make it something you should apologise for, you’re the more talented Pilot and that’s that. No amount of ‘Sorry’ is going to change that, whether it comes out of skill, an innate gift, or just plain, dumb luck,” the Pilot stated, as if it were an unquestionable truth. She then turned to look towards the fog, appearing to see something more than endless grey. “Besides, it might be immensely infuriating but, at the same time, it’s also worthy of respect.”

“...What?”

“I said that it’s worthy of respect, and respect it she does, trust me,” Ace repeated, her voice growing uncharacteristically soft. “It pisses her off to no end but, deep down, Asuka can’t help but admire you and your abilities. She can’t help but see all those fights, all those operations in which the Almighty Third Child single-handedly turned the tide of battle and wish that she were more like him.

“As capable as to have the highest synch-ratio, as skilled to face a monster like the Fourteenth on her own, as compassionate to take a blow for another...” the redhead listed with her fingers, before growing silent at the fourth item. When it came, the last entry was far more hushed than the others. “...and as fearless to dive into a volcano without a second thought, saving a comrade’s life.”

...

Shinji stared in shock at the Pilot, not knowing how to react to the unexpected compliments. A big part of that was due to Shinji admittedly finding most of what Ace had just said completely unbelievable but, at the same time, he also knew her words to be the truth. After all, who would know what Asuka’s thoughts and opinions were better than a literal part of her psyche?

“I...” The Third Child stuttered, but the words would not come. What was he supposed to say to something like that? He had always believed that his roommate despised him but, while that assessment might have been true to a point, the Third Child couldn’t wrap his head around the new information he had been given.

Asuka looked up to his achievements? Admired him, even?

‘Although I’ve taken everything that by all rights should have been hers?’ the young man realised, high spirits going sour in the blink of an eye. ‘Me, who hates piloting EVA?’

“Don’t give me that face, Third,” Ace intruded into his thoughts, reading his mood without even needing to look at him. “I thought you’d be happier, considering that I don’t praise you all that often.”

“How can I be happy about what you just said? You just told me that I’m responsible for Asuka losing her place in the world,” Shinji sighed deeply, his eyes steadily dropping down to the ground. “And the best part is that she’s wrong. I’m nothing special.”

The Third Child felt Ace’s eyes bore into him from the side, but no immediate response was forthcoming. The only sound that reached his ears was that of a deep sigh not too different from his own.

“...That’s not something I should argue. Whether you think she’s right or wrong is all up to you, Third,” the Pilot spoke in time, voice neutral. “In any case, did you get some useful insight out of the experience?”

“...Yeah. I think so.”

“Then that’s what’s important, and pretty much all the use that we had for this place. We should get going towards the next,” Ace proposed, turning and heading back towards an Asuka that had been doing her best to entertain herself. “Not too long now until it’s time.”

“Time?” Shinji echoed, following the Pilot with wary eyes. “Time for what?”

The redhead paused and looked over her shoulder, awarding the Third Child’s curiosity with a smirk and a wink that were not at all foreboding.

“Time for a little experiment of my own I want to try.”
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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