An Insider's Look

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sonichu
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby sonichu » Mon Jul 30, 2018 7:36 pm

Was looking forward to this. Great chapter man.

Gryphon117
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Aug 05, 2018 3:37 am

Nothing much to say here, other than that we pick up where we left off and that the next scene will probably be the end of the chapter. Now, back to writing with me.

Enjoy! ^_^

Chapter 8-4  SPOILER: Show
“...Where are we now?”

Shinji looked all around him, taking a few exploratory steps of his surroundings just as soon as Ace took her hand off his shoulder. Not that there was much to actually discover, since the latest jump had taken them to an empty and grassy expanse bordered by an elaborate metallic fence that had little else in the way of eye-catching traits, making the Third Child wonder not for the first time what he was doing in such a place.

“Patience, Third. It’s just not done forming yet.”

“Forming?” Shinji echoed, turning back towards his guides. “Something’s going to appear here?”

“Precisely. I told you that this realm is constantly in flux, remember? Well, that’s even truer for this area we’re in,” Asuka elaborated, motioning around her with her arms. “These are the outer layers, where Asuka’s memories and recollections reside.”

“So you want to show me one of her memories? Something linked to the mountain from before?”

“Sort of,” Asuka replied with a nonchalant shrug, only to become the target of a pointed and tired look.

“...Can’t you be a little more specific?”

“There’s no need,” Ace added, indicating the expanse before the group with her head. “Turn around, it’s starting to come into focus.”

Shinji did as commanded and watched as, just like Ace had said, the scene before him began to take shape little by little: first, at the edges, where row upon row of tiny stone monoliths slowly began to appear along the ground. Then, towards the middle, a small congregation of people clad in black clothes phased into existence. Finally, their murmurs and soft, mourning cries added sound to the memory.

He was in a graveyard, Shinji quickly realised. One where a funeral was being held.

...

It didn’t bring the most pleasant of memories. In fact, the only thing that kept the Third Child from believing that the scene was a product of his own mind was the sight of a tiny, redheaded girl, holding onto the hand of an older woman with a serious expression.

“Who... died?”

“Why don’t you go on ahead and find out?” Asuka softly responded.

“You’re not coming?”

“We can’t. I’m already bending the rules as it is by guiding you here,” the Pilot explained, pointing a finger to her other. “Telling you any more about the circumstances of this area would land me in the same kind of trouble as the brat here, and I don’t really feel like dealing with that.”

Asuka answered Ace’s rude comment with a dirty look, but didn’t move any closer to the obvious bait than that.

“Like this blockhead said, it’s not the same situation if you’re the one that figures it out,” she further elaborated, smiling encouragingly at Shinji. “How far you want to go with that is up to you, as well.”

“...Alright then.”

After some hesitation, the Third Child followed the counsel of his two guides and walked closer to the group of grievers, stopping only when he came close enough to notice the lack of features on the faces of most of the people gathered. Save for the little Asuka herself and a pair of others, a man and a woman, the visage of everyone present was little more than a swirling mass the colour of flesh occupying the spot where their heads would be. The ‘heads’ lagged slightly behind the movements of their necks, as well, letting out a trail as they moved that did nothing if not further emphasize the freakiness of the sight.

It was a spectacle so unnatural that it sent a shiver down Shinji’s spine, even if he figured that their bizarre blurriness was just probably due to something as innocent as Asuka not remembering much of their identities. Still, that knowledge didn’t make their appearance, coupled with their crying and moaning, any less disturbing.

Nevertheless, the Third Child forced himself to close the remaining gap and step next to the little Asuka, the redheaded memory not even acknowledging his presence. Shinji then examined the recently carved tombstone that was before him, stopping only for a second to decipher the Latin characters within.

“Kyoko Zeppelin Sohryu...” the young Ikari read, his eyes gathering all the information present. He turned eyes towards the two redheads. “Is that... Asuka’s mom?”

“Was,” Ace corrected. “In case you couldn’t tell by the end date, Third.”

“...Yeah, I figured,” Shinji agreed with a sigh, not glad about being right in that instance. He then frowned, recalling a scene from the past. “Now that I think about it, she did mention something about a ‘real mom’ when she got that call from Germany.”

“That’s because it was our stepmother calling,” the Pilot elaborated, crossing her arms as her eyes fell to the side. “Although with how little we see of her she might as well not be one.”

Seeing the sad expression on Ace’s face, Shinji debated for a few moments whether he should follow with the obvious question and enter the metaphorical minefield or not. Because it was a minefield, of that there was no doubt. Of the same kind as those he had had to deal with a few times in the past, on the rare occasions when Asuka had been... ‘open’ with him.

Nevertheless, and fully knowing the risks that he was facing, the Third Child decided to go ahead and ask. He had been told to try and gather as much information on Asuka as he could, after all, and he figured that he would continue to gain little on that front unless he ventured forward at some point.

“...Not a good relationship?”

“I wouldn’t say it’s bad, just... distant. Because of NERV and stuff,” Ace explained with a nonchalant shrug that looked very fake to Shinji’s eyes. “Even then... she tries, I guess.”

“She’s not a bad woman, we actually get along sort of fine,” Asuka added, before struggling for words as well. “It’s just...”

The two girls shared a brief look, clearly hesitant about whether they should say something more on the topic. And then, they replied in unison.

“...She’s not mom.”

“Besides, I’ve been hearing even less out of them ever since they finally had their child. That call was the first one in weeks.” Ace continued, putting on an annoyed expression that lacked as much power as her previous attempt had.

But that was not the detail that Shinji noticed, or at least not the one that he devoted his attention to. That honour went to the newest and most striking nugget of information that his efforts had rewarded him with:

“Asuka has a sibling?”

“A half-sister. In fact, half the call that day was for Erika to gush about how healthy and smart her baby was. It was actually kinda funny,” Ace further explained with a chuckle. “Though we haven’t even met her yet so it’s not like it’s really that important to us.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Shinji saw Asuka pout and frown in a way that implied she was very much in disagreement.

“...How old is she now?”

“The baby?” Asuka responded, making some quick calculations. “About two years old or so, I’d say.”

“And what’s it to you, Third?” the Pilot joined in, her tone turning dangerous.

The Third Child swallowed tightly. Obviously, whatever leeway Shinji had been graciously offered was quickly reaching its end. From that point onward, he would have been a wrong word away from pissing Asuka off and making her storm off like she usually did, and previous experience had quickly taught him that Ace wasn’t that much different from his Asuka in that regard.

Still, the young Ikari pressed on.

“I don’t know, isn’t it... weird?” Shinji continued, nervously scratching the back of his head. “I-I mean, if I suddenly found out that I have a brother or a sister... I’d like to meet them, I guess.”

“We should, right?!” Asuka suddenly exploded, rushing to support his idea. “I’ve been saying exactly that for a long time now, but they just won’t listen to me!”

“Because what would the point in that be? We plain don’t have a place in that family anymore,” Ace snarled back at her other. “And I don’t even like kids, anyway. They just moan and cry about everything, like someone else I could mention.”

She threw a pointed look at Shinji, which the Third Child just frowned at.

“Well, you are sounding like someone else I could mention, too.”

“Maybe. I’m just a realist, that’s all,” the Pilot deflected with a casual shrug. “And while that nihilist idiot might be full of shit for the most part, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

“But we’re getting sidetracked. Family talk is not what we brought you here for.”

“Then why am I here?”

Ace indicated forward with her head, to the little Asuka and the elderly woman that she had joined her hand with.

“Listen.”

Shinji shifted his attention and quickly noticed that, little by little, the people closest to Asuka began to take on a more defined shape, and the mix of mourning sounds faded into the background in favour of more understandable comments and murmurs.

“...It’s just so terrible, leaving behind such a young girl...”

“And after barely paying attention to her for the longest time, too. I hear that she would spend days on end tucked away in her laboratory, working double or even triple shifts! That’s hardly a proper way to raise a child!”

“And that... lecher of a man, too. I know that he was a step away from filing a divorce, but marrying his wife’s doctor? He didn’t even wait for the body to grow cold!”

The words then began to mount on top of one another, slowly rising in a painful crescendo as more and more people joined the conversation and detachedly threw in their two cents, like bystanders at a car crash.

It reminded the Third Child of a time long past, when his own mother’s funeral had been held, although all the disparaging comments at the time had been directed at his father, rather than the recently deceased. The similarities still made him clench his jaw tightly, however.

But unlike him, the little Asuka remained stoic through it all, only showing her displeasure by squeezing her free hand into a tiny fist. Not failing to notice, the elderly woman comfortingly tightened her hold on Asuka’s other hand, but the scowl that had taken hold of the child’s face, one that Shinji had grown extremely familiar with, never went away.

And it was then that a slightly distorted conversation played out between the two:

“You’re a strong girl, Asuka,” the older woman spoke comfortingly, bit with a hint of concern beneath her words. “But it’s alright if you have to cry.”

Concern that the young Asuka responded to with an ice-cold tone completely unbefitting of someone so young.

“I’ll never cry, grandmother. I have to take care of myself now.”

Shinji felt his eyes widen and his breath hitch, hearing a line that would not have been out of place in Maisie’s mouth come out of Asuka’s five-year-old self. After all, and in spite of the Aspect’s bold claims and many reminders, he had from the very beginning been reticent to accept that something like... her could have possibly been a part of the girl he had shared an apartment with and fought beside (and against) for many months.

But the Third Child had just witnessed the structure that could have held his case crumble into a million pieces, and it felt as if the most groundbreaking of evidence had just slapped him across the face.

...

Thinking back, he had never seen Asuka cry outside of that unconscious one time during their synch training, or show anything that could have been even remotely taken as a sign of weakness. And while not five seconds ago, Shinji would have been more than happy to attribute Asuka’s characteristic lack of willingness to accept her own mistakes or cooperate with others as part of the girl’s competitive streak, he was quickly coming to suspect that the cause might not have been nearly as innocent as he had initially assumed.

In short, he had more than likely completely failed to get a read on Asuka. Again.

“Thinking hard, huh, Third?”

Shinji blinked himself out of his stupor when the Pilot’s words reached him, and found both of his companions just within arm’s range, staring at the tombstone, pondering. The young man hadn’t noticed them move, absorbed in his reflection as he had been.

“...Yes. I guess now I do understand a bit more about why Asuka is always so independent. But still...” the Third Child sighed with a mix of tiredness and frustration, wondering whether there was even a point in asking the question that had briefly passed through his mind. Then again it wasn’t like he had anything to lose by doing so. “You know what happened to make her like that, right?...Was it really that bad?”

The Pilot met his questioning eyes unflinchingly and seemed to consider his words for a few moments. It wasn’t long before she denied him with a shake of her head, however.

“Sorry, no hints. Like we said, figuring that out is part of your homework for the near future, Third,” Ace replied tersely, but it was clear to Shinji that she did want to say something more. “Although if there’s something that should go without saying, it’s that you should make sure to remember the words she said.”

“O-Okay.”

“Good. In any case, now we should-”

Ace stopped talking all of a sudden, brow furrowing and expression going distant for a few moments in the same manner that Shinji had seen her do a couple of times before in the not too distant past. This time, however, whatever news the redhead had received seemed to be more surprising than good or bad, at least if the way her eyes widened was to be any indication.

“...Damn, already? Wow, she must be really tired.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Asuka just fell asleep,” Ace clarified, still sounding like she didn’t completely believe her own words. “Knowing how it usually goes I thought we still had a bit more time, but she really fell like a log, tonight.

“Oh, well, no big deal. That’s just our signal for moving the timeline forwards a little bit, I guess,” the Pilot paused for a second, grinning ferally and giving the young Ikari an equally unsettling look. “...And do you know what that means, Third?”

“Uh... no?” Shinji replied, covertly asking Asuka for help with his eyes. But his efforts proved to be too little, too late, when Ace pounced on him and seized his head as if she wanted to give him a noogie.

“It means that you’re coming with me!”

“H-Hey! Don’t be so rough!” Asuka protested on the trapped boy’s behalf. “And what about me?!”

“You can go back to your baby farmstead. Don’t worry, I’ll drop him by before curfew!” Ace called back with half a care, waving a short goodbye with her free hand. “Ta-ta!”

“Wait! That’s not what I-” but Asuka’s protests fell on deaf ears, Shinji and Ace vanishing before she could even finish her demands. Groaning in irritation, the normally optimistic redhead loudly stomped her feet and yelled at the empty expanse. “HEY! STOP LEAVING ME ON MY OWN!”
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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

Gryphon117
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 5:13 am

And here we are again with an end to the current chapter. Big update once again, sort of meant to make up for the next one which will probably be on the short-ish side of things.

Enjoy and comment, if you want! Those are the lifeblood of any content creator! ^_^

Chapter 8-5  SPOILER: Show
“Pretty sure this is the place...” Ace mumbled to herself, scouting the surrounding area with her eyes.

“Let. Me. Go!”

“Huh?” the Pilot paused, following the voice down to her right elbow. A mop of black hair was stuck between her arm and her right side and struggling to get free. “Oh. Sorry, Third. Forgot about you for a sec.”

Ace loosened her hold and the young Ikari quickly pushed himself away from her and to his freedom, rubbing his aching ears.

‘Hey, Shinji, remember what I asked you to do earlier? It’s time to take care of it. Can you please come with me?’” the Third Child growled, imitating Asuka’s voice. “Was that really so hard to do, you brute?”

“Oh, come on! Stop being such a drama queen,” Ace rolled her eyes in response, bringing her fist up. “I didn’t even give you a noogie!”

Shinji’s glare intensified at the girl’s dismissive tone. He was really supposed to be grateful that there had been no pain to go along with the humiliation?

“Where are we now?” he decided to grumble, instead.

“A bit closer to HQ.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“Neither would the actual answer,” Ace shrugged, continuing to taunt him. “We are where we need to be.

“And here,” the Pilot continued, moving her hand first up and then in the opposite direction, as if she were pulling down a screen. “I can do this.”

And just like that, a screen did pop up before Shinji’s eyes. A screen of the weird and intangible kind, like the ones that usually popped whenever he received communications within his EVA.

‘...Actually, it looks exactly like it. Down to the golden border. Figures.’

Ace followed her trick by making as if she were opening a curtain, causing the floating screen to widen up, its edges curving towards them until it looked akin to the inflated sail of a ship. One, two and three motions more, looking like she was pressing buttons, and the screen slowly began to transmit an image, blurry at first, but coming into focus little by little.

“What is that for?” Shinji asked, looking at the device in amazement, his displeasure all but forgotten.

“Asuka just went to sleep, remember?” Ace half-responded. “What do you do when you’re sleeping?”

“...Dream? Are we going to watch Asuka’s dream?”

“Right-o!” the Pilot cheered, slugging Shinji in the shoulder and making him stumble back a bit. “But that’s actually not the important part of what we’re doing. You’ll need to wait just a little bit more to find that out.”

The redhead then eagerly continued with her work, touching and sliding this and that in the gigantic screen to the rhythm of a happy tune, looking for all intents and purposes like she was having the time of her life not five seconds after she had been grumbling at him.

Yet another one of her usual mood swings, Shinji figured. He was still glad for her high spirits, though, if only because Ace was that much less likely to visit violence upon him when she was feeling positive. On the other hand, the young Ikari had a few doubts clouding his face as he rubbed the second aching part in his body.

“I’m... not sure how comfortable I am doing that.”

“Doing what?”

“Watching Asuka’s dreams,” Shinji elaborated. “Isn’t that an invasion of privacy?”

The redhead paused, giving him a raised eyebrow.

“A bit late to be having that kind of doubts, Third. Haven’t you learned a lot of stuff already that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise?”

“Well, yeah. But I wasn’t the one who thought of that idea, remember? You two just brought me along for the ride.”

“...Touché,” Ace admitted, bringing a finger to her lips in thought. “Still, you’re somewhat right about the whole privacy thing. A teenage girl has plenty of secrets that have nothing to do with what we’re helping you achieve, after all,” she then shrugged, casually playing the whole thing down. “But that can be easily fixed: I’ll just censor out whatever irrelevant bits you’re not supposed to see, in the unlikely case that something like that actually does pop up. Deal?”

Ace extended her hand to him and fixed him with a look, the kind of look that meant she wanted a straight answer out of him. Meanwhile, the Third Child eyed the extended appendage with the same reservation one would a scary-looking dog, fully knowing that this was a decision that could come back to bite him in the ass later on, and that more than likely would come back to bite him, knowing his luck.

...

Still, making Ace mad wasn’t something he wanted to do, either. Leaving aside her more than likely decision to not help him anymore should he decide not to help her, the whole dream idea was obviously important to her, for whatever reason. Dashing the girl’s hopes like that didn’t sit well with him, to be honest.

Finally, and after a few seconds of consideration, Shinji locked his own hand with Ace’s. He still had his misgivings about the whole thing, of course, but he figured that the Pilot’s censoring proposal was the best middle ground he was going to get.

“Okay. That’s better, I guess.”

“Great!” Ace gave him one of her rare, wide smiles and quickly turned to hit one final button. “Let’s get down to business, then!”

And from the great screen, a thousand cheers suddenly erupted with a blast of colours. The Third Child blinked, taken aback, and took a second to refocus and identify the chromatic mess that was on display: rows upon rows of people standing along a gentle incline, jumping and dancing and waving humongous flags from left to right. The view then panned to the side, and Shinji saw a green and brownish pitch off in the distance, one that he found more than recognizable in less than an instant.

“Is that a... baseball stadium?” the young man asked, finding trouble with keeping his mouth shut.

Not that his companion was much better off.

“Well... that’s unexpected.”

“Something wrong?”

“...Nah, it’s nothing. Nothing too huge, anyway. It works just as well for what we’re trying to do, I’m just... a little surprised,” Ace elaborated, frowning in thought. “...Guess the readings I was getting before weren’t all bull, after all.”

The sound of firework explosions brought Shinji’s attention back to the screen, just in time to see the camera focus on a group of people coming out onto the pitch. They were all dressed for a proper game of baseball with all the assorted knick-knacks needed to play, and Shinji quickly identified familiar faces like Horaki’s and Ayanami’s among the players dressed in red and white. The strange girl that had passed him by earlier that ‘day’ was also among them, jumping up, down, left and right as she waved in every direction, looking for all intents and purposes like a hyperactive bunny.

Second came the opposing team, mostly composed of boys and girls with which Asuka had had some trouble in the past. He could see Ebihara and Iori from 2-B, as well as some upperclassmen and underclassmen both, all sporting the same blue and white uniform. To the surprise of no one, Shinji was also quick to find his friends Kensuke and Toji in their fatigues.

‘...Of course.’

And lastly, to the sound of thunderous fanfare, the screen closed in on the image of Asuka making it onto the field, followed by another figure dressed in the colours of the opposing side. Sporting a big, red ‘C’ on the chest of her uniform, the redhead confidently strode to the pitcher’s mound and pointed her orange and green bat to the crowds, making them go even wilder.

But Shinji’s attention wasn’t on Asuka or her Captain shenanigans, but rather on the second person that had quietly followed her to the centre of the field: the young man stoically awaited for Asuka to finish basking in the glory of her entrance, arms crossed and radiating an aura of confidence and raw power that effortlessly allowed him to stand by as Asuka’s equal.

And to make matters even more bizarre for Shinji, the confident young man sported his own face...

...with the exception of one tiny, little detail:

“W-Why-” the Third Child stuttered, eyes wide and pointing a shaky finger at the sheer wrongness his eyes were being subjected to. “WHY DOES HE HAVE SIDEBURNS?!”

“Hmm?” Ace broke out of her reflections, raising an eyebrow at the horrified young man before she turned eyes towards the source. “Oh, he’s probably just one of the Pilot Shinjis.”

“That doesn’t answer my question!”

“Of course it does! Haven’t you watched any of those old mecha classics?” Ace shot back, as if she were speaking of something as obvious as the sky being blue. “Every hot-blooded ace pilot had sideburns!”

“But I’m not hot-blooded!”

“Tell me about it,” Ace muttered to herself with a roll of her eyes. She then pointed a thumb at the screen. “Anyway, you’re missing the point, Third, and we’ve been over this, already. He’s not you, just one of the pieces that make up Shinji Ikari within Asuka’s mind.”

“I do remember that, but still...”

“Basically, he’s not so much Shinji Ikari, the ‘Unrivalled Doormat’, but more ‘The Invincible Third Child, EVA Pilot Extraordinaire’,” Ace interrupted him, her face saying everything about where her personal preferences laid. “Fitting that an ace Pilot and protector of the human race would look like that, don’t you think?”

“...’Fitting’ my ass...” the young Ikari disagreed, suppressing a shiver. “...Wait, I thought Asuka didn’t like anime. I’ve heard her call the ones on TV ‘stupid cartoons’ more than once.”

Ace took in a sharp breath when Shinji’s curious eyes landed on her, and the young man noticed her cheeks quickly change colour and grow slightly closer to that of her hair’s. Looking away, the girl coughed into one hand before throwing an annoyed look the Third Child’s way.

“That’s... because they are, especially those romantic ones that Hikari goes through like water on a hot day,” the Pilot explained, crossing her arms defensively. “...Far removed from the very few ones I might have watched when I was younger and ignorant. And explicitly for research purposes.”

Shinji raised an eyebrow at the way Ace was fidgeting in her spot, recognizing it as something he had seen Asuka do in the past. Needless to say, it was a rare sight, and one that he hadn’t expected to come up with such a topic, since the Third Child didn’t understand what was so terrible about enjoying a series or two, no matter the medium. Then again, Asuka had a habit of getting embarrassed at the strangest of things.

...

...She always managed to look cute in those moments, though.

“Whatever you say,” Shinji let out a short chuckle with a shake of his head, allowing for the topic and the direction of his thoughts to both drop. “I guess that’s one of those things I shouldn’t mention to Asuka whenever I manage to get out?”

“If you value your life,” Ace warned/threatened. “Don’t think I’ll go easy on you just because of your stay here.”

“I’ll... make a note of that.”

Following their exchange, the two focused on watching the baseball match side by side, as Asuka’s team and the opposition led by the... outrageous Shinji vied for victory. To no one’s surprise (much less Shinji’s), Asuka herself proved the most important player in her team, hitting ball after ball and netting a nice amount of the runs in the match, but, what really did surprise him was how well everyone else played, with special mention going to Asuka’s rivals:

The scores were tied well into the fifth inning, a far cry from the landslide victory that Shinji would have expected out of one of his roommate’s dreams. And better yet, his own avatar was responsible for quite a bit of the opposing team’s runs.

Funny, considering that Asuka was fully aware of how terribly he had done the last time the boys had played baseball in P.E.

With a sigh, the Third Child took his eyes off the strange match and threw a quick look Ace’s way: she was fully engrossed in the screen, cheering and celebrating as loud as any of the spectators whenever something important happened...

...but she had apparently forgotten the reason why the both of them were there to begin with.

“So... when do we start?” Shinji eventually reminded her.

“Start...?” the Pilot repeated with a frown, confirming Shinji’s suspicions. “...Oh. Actually...”

A hint of doubt crossed Ace’s face as she took turns looking between Shinji and the screen.

“What?”

“Um... Do you mind if we wait for a little while longer?”

“...Not really, but why?” the Third Child replied, somewhat taken aback at both the answer and Ace’s suddenly subdued demeanour. “Didn’t you say that it was urgent? Whatever ‘it’ was?”

“Well, yeah...” the Pilot sighed long and deep, before she turned to look at the tense match in the screen with something akin to longing. “But the last few nights haven’t been kind to Asuka, you know? And looking at this... I guess I’d feel kinda bad for interrupting such a nice dream.”

The young man followed Ace’s eyes back to the screen. Exaggeration and weird interpretations of his person aside, he had to admit that what he was looking at was indeed a very good dream.

Then again, he barely ever remembered his own dreams, so it wasn’t like he had a very good basis for comparison.

“...So this really isn’t the norm?”

“You know it isn’t. Have you forgotten how and where we first met?”

“How could I?” Shinji snarked back. “I mean, being pinned to a wall and having someone threaten to pop my teeth was such a memorable experience...”

“Yeah, yeah, I wasn’t having the best of times at that point, alright?” Ace admitted, still adhering to her ‘no apology’ policy. “Stupid brat wasn’t helping, either.

“...But anyway, nice dreams aside, I’ve been thinking that putting the plan into motion right as Asuka’s about to wake up might actually make it work better, too,” the Pilot further elaborated. “I mean, if we don’t and you actually succeed in talking to Asuka right now, she might just end up dismissing it as a freak dream or her mind playing tricks on her. Like the time in Unit-02.”

With a shrug and a nod, Shinji decided that deferring to Ace’s theory was probably the best thing to do.

And so they waited some more, watching as what had started as a baseball match quickly turned into some sort of baseball war game: baseballs that had been fast pitches at the start of the game suddenly began to fly in all sorts of strange and impossible patterns, before catching fire or leaving electric aftershocks after being struck by the bat. Catchers all over the pitch jumped absurd distances to grab the elemental missiles, even building up a human tower to prevent a homerun at the very last possible moment.

And then Angels showed up out of nowhere and the stadium’s pitch opened up to reveal an EVA catapult, Units 01 and 02 appearing ready to receive their Pilots a second later. Shinji watched as Unit-02 grabbed a giant progressive axe from a second armoury elevator, and then raised an eyebrow when Unit-01 pulled a giant katana out of some sort of spatial distortion, too.

Because reasons.

With a whole lot of shouting and manly roaring the two robots promptly went to town on the invading Angels, and it was roughly at that point when Shinji began to further suspect that Asuka might have ended covertly watching a bit more anime than she let on, for some strange reason he couldn’t quite put a finger on.

At least the whole dream had ended up looking a lot more like something Shinji would have expected his roommate to come up with.

“Okay, I think we’re nearing time, now,” Ace finally spoke right as Asuka split a copy of the Fourth Angel in half with Unit-02’s axe. “Listen, I want you to call out to Asuka as hard as you can.”

“You... want me to shout?” Shinji tore his eyes off the hot-blooded spectacle to stare at the girl in confusion. “I don’t know, that sounds a bit-”

“Stupid?” the Pilot interrupted, reading the young man’s thoughts. “Yeah, I’m aware. But I’m hoping that the bits of newfound insight on Asuka you just got might strengthen the connection... somehow. Like it was when she synched with Unit-02.”

‘Somehow’?” Shinji echoed, his words making way for some reluctance. “That... doesn’t sound like you’ve put a lot of thought into this.”

“I have put a lot of thought into this! But this whole situation is all news for us, too, remember? Of course I’ve got no idea if it will actually work!” Ace protested with a pout. “But it’s not like we lose anything by trying, right?”

Ace then poked the hesitant young man in the chest, narrowing her eyes at him.

“Now, if you’re done with your silly objections, how about we get right to it? Get over there and give me a big shout.”

Shinji followed Ace’s outstretched finger to the spot it was aiming at and then back at her, only to find a look that was very clear in its meaning: whatever his opinions or reservations on the matter, the Third Child wasn’t going to talk his way out of doing what the redhead wanted him to do.

Which made the young Ikari kind of mad, to be completely honest. He had at no point said that he wasn’t going to cooperate with her, after all, so Ace’s forceful nagging was completely out of place, as far as he was concerned. Just like his Asuka’s had been so many times in the past.

So much prior experience had made the young man fully aware of the fact that nothing good would come out of crossing Asuka out of spite, though.

‘...Might as well get it over with,’ Shinji decided with a sigh, walking to the spot Ace had indicated and drawing in a big breath.

“And don’t even think about half-assing it!” the girl added at the last moment.

“Alright, alright!” Shinji shot back, starting to get annoyed himself. “Jeez...”

Ace recoiled back slightly at the young man’s tone, but didn’t let it deter her. She crossed her arms before her and pinned him with her eyes, silently urging Shinji forward until the Third Child drew in some more air and put his hands around his mouth.

ASUKAAA!!” he yelled, as loud and hard as his lungs and vocal cords allowed him to.

The name echoed down the foggy plains time and time again as one second passed another, but other than Shinji’s voice getting lost in the distance nothing else seemed to happen. Shinji then threw a quick look at Ace, silently asking him what he should do next, to which the redhead just gave him a repeating motion with her hand.

“Do it again. I certainly got something out of...” the Pilot frowned and trailed off, her eyes slowly widening in sheer shock soon after. “What in the world...?”

And it was at that moment that Shinji felt a familiar wave of nausea wash over him and saw his vision blur at the edges, a combination that forced him to lean on his knees for support. His hearing was abruptly assaulted by another cacophony of unpleasant sounds, too, and weakly raised his head in order to plea for Ace to help him.

He found the Pilot staring back with anxious eyes, shouting words at him that didn’t make it past the jumbled dissonance assaulting his ears. Shinji then tried calling back to her...

...but then he blinked, and Ace was no more. And neither were the screen they had been watching or his immediate surroundings, for that matter.

But more importantly, gone were the ailments that had suddenly assailed him, too.

Shinji was quick to notice as soon as he recovered that he was... somewhere else. In what looked like a bare room with no windows or doors, the only thing it contained being a small, but steadily growing swirling vortex right in front of him.

“Where am I...?” the Third Child swallowed, looking all around him as he slowly straightened back up. “...Ace?! ACE?!”

But no one answered the young man’s calls, the vortex growing larger and more ominous at his panicked words until finally, and with surprisingly little fanfare, it seemed to stabilize into a big and wide black mass that curved into a concave right in front of the Third Child.

Shinji took a few steps back from the dark matter and turned around, but the mass followed his movements, always keeping in front of him no matter how he turned and twisted. It always seemed to keep its distance, as well, staying close but out of arm’s reach no matter how hard the Third Child tried to distance himself from it.

And then, just as suddenly, the mass parted horizontally through the middle like a pair of eyelids, and allowed a burst of white to flow through. The light then began to change into some sort of image, gaining focus on the edges and slowly becoming less and less blurry until, finally, it became completely clear to Shinji:

What he was seeing was not an image, but rather some sort of live broadcast. The broadcast of an unfamiliar ceiling.

“...Shinji?”
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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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby sonichu » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:42 am

This was definitely one of the best chapters so far. I'm really looking forward to Shinji finally getting to speak to Asuka.

Gryphon117
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:28 pm

View Original Postsonichu wrote:This was definitely one of the best chapters so far. I'm really looking forward to Shinji finally getting to speak to Asuka.


Thanks, glad you liked it! :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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