[Fic] Amarantos

Everything Evangelion Fanfiction related.

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NemZ
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Postby NemZ » Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:47 am

Hmm. I'm not fond of the "but little did he know..." sort of comments as they takes you immediately out of the scene. Other than that I liked it so far. Poor Erika.
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Postby Glor » Fri Aug 14, 2015 12:34 pm

Iuvenal: I know the feel. At least I managed to diverge a little bit. Good to know. Feels like it still needs hammering out here and there. Lemme' know what those minor quibbles were.

NemZ: I thought I might be able to get away with it, but I can see how it would detract from the moment.
Rite of Reclamation - an Evangelion/Halo fusion, check it out, is pretty neat.

"Anything can be Evangelion related if you have the will to twist it." -Joseki.

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Postby Folk Devil » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:04 pm

Love it so far. Very clear writing, really well paced. Your characterization of the Children as young kids is spot on. Also, for the record, I didn't find it repetitive at all, but then again I read it after the edits.

The only thing I didn't like, and it's just a nitpick really, is the Ace Combat Zero namedrop. I have a bit of a pet peeve against IRL games/shows/songs being mentioned in fanfics, but it's just a personal preference thing. It doesn't detract from the chapter at all, so don't change it.

Also, there were two spelling mistakes I noticed in chapter 4:

coy fish = koi fish
a[art = part
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Postby Glor » Sun Aug 16, 2015 5:59 pm

You're too kind FD. Awesome to know the edits seemed to have smoothed things out. Chapter 3 was pretty gross before the changes.

Understandable pet peeve to have. Fics that excessively namedrop stuff bother the hell out of me, once or twice is okay in my book.

Thanks for catching those mistakes, ugh... Coy...
Rite of Reclamation - an Evangelion/Halo fusion, check it out, is pretty neat.

"Anything can be Evangelion related if you have the will to twist it." -Joseki.

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Postby Literary Eagle » Sun Aug 16, 2015 11:54 pm

Ooh, nice. I liked seeing Shinji's interactions with Misato, and I wonder what kind of differences could result from them meeting earlier than they did in the anime timeline. I felt bad for Erika, though.

Just one tiny little typo in addition to what Folk Devil already mentioned:

The sky had been died shades of violet and pink (Should be "dyed")

Please keep up the good work!
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Postby Folk Devil » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:54 pm

View Original PostGlor wrote:You're too kind FD. Awesome to know the edits seemed to have smoothed things out. Chapter 3 was pretty gross before the changes.

Understandable pet peeve to have. Fics that excessively namedrop stuff bother the hell out of me, once or twice is okay in my book.

Thanks for catching those mistakes, ugh... Coy...


Well most of them, if they do it, they do it way too much. And that goes for any fandom. It's especially great when it's a super old fic and it dates it really badly.

"Asuka was sitting in her room listening to Linkin Park when the phone rang..."
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Postby Glor » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:37 am

Literary Eagle: Thanks for reading and spotting that hilarious typo! :asuka_thumbsup:

Folk Devil: haha, Linkin Park? Pfft, so OoC, Asuka would totally be listening to Rammstein. Duh.
Rite of Reclamation - an Evangelion/Halo fusion, check it out, is pretty neat.

"Anything can be Evangelion related if you have the will to twist it." -Joseki.

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Postby Folk Devil » Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:55 pm

View Original PostGlor wrote:Literary Eagle: Thanks for reading and spotting that hilarious typo! :asuka_thumbsup:

Folk Devil: haha, Linkin Park? Pfft, so OoC, Asuka would totally be listening to Rammstein. Duh.


Probably, I just picked the worst edgy band I could think of.
The Creative Principle: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11251079/1/The-Creative-Principle

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Postby PurpleandRed » Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:01 am

How old was Asuka when she and Shinji got into Nerv? Also, pretty creepy fanfic...
Asuka, you're not going to have any children.

You don't care about Hikari anymore, Asuka?

I want somebody to kick Asuka's butt! She is stupid, vain, and cries like a spoiled brat! Is there a game where you can kick her butt?

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Postby Glor » Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:18 am

Canon wise, Asuka was 4 when they chose her as a pilot.
Rite of Reclamation - an Evangelion/Halo fusion, check it out, is pretty neat.

"Anything can be Evangelion related if you have the will to twist it." -Joseki.

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Postby Ash1969 » Sat Oct 03, 2015 9:15 am

Three, actually because she was born in December.
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Postby Glor » Sat Oct 03, 2015 10:19 am

:asuka_thumbsup:

I always forget how late in the year she was born.
Rite of Reclamation - an Evangelion/Halo fusion, check it out, is pretty neat.

"Anything can be Evangelion related if you have the will to twist it." -Joseki.

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Postby PurpleandRed » Sun Oct 04, 2015 4:42 am

Sagittarius are very friendly. I do sort of believe characters have the same zodiacs as their actors but she should've been born in November.
Asuka, you're not going to have any children.

You don't care about Hikari anymore, Asuka?

I want somebody to kick Asuka's butt! She is stupid, vain, and cries like a spoiled brat! Is there a game where you can kick her butt?

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Postby SEELE » Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:09 am

View Original PostAsh1969 wrote:Three, actually because she was born in December.


I thought the seiyu determined when they were born.
"Shinji repeatedly rises to the occasion, overcomes his own doubts and fears and puts others ahead of himself to the point of self harm. The situation overwhelms him. Victory does not define a hero. Intent does. He breaks at the end, but after inhuman, overwhelming, borderline comedic suffering." - Chuckman talking about Shinji as a hero
Final Fantasy 7 gets a remake. I hope it doesn't goes the same way NTE did.
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Postby Gob Hobblin » Sun Oct 04, 2015 11:37 am

I like the relationship portrayed in this fic. The possessiveness of Asuka towards Shinji seems to highlight her own loneliness and detachment from other children: we can see that without necessarily having a POV from her, simultaneously learning of Shinji's own issues through his POV. It's solid writing, and good characterization. Also, you're imagery is very well done: it's easy to see what you're describing.

Speaking of characterization, your OCs are well done, for the brief moments we see them. Erika is an intriguing addition, and despite my love for AxS, I really want to see more of this kid.

Also, I like the set-up of Shinji's culture shock still resounding, even after all his time in Germany. It's not something that goes away quickly, but always lingers. You've done a good job of portraying that in minor ways, even as he has shown a comfort and understanding of the new place he lives.

Also...Shinji is a football player. I love it! I almost want to see what he would do with rugby, but seeing him play football is good enough. Nice little addition!

Couple of very minor technical nitpicks, and they really are nitpicks:

SPOILER: Show


-A Petty Officer isn't an officer; they're NCOs. So, non-commissioned officers. Either way, they wouldn't like to be called officers. It's two distinct career tracks.

-Any knife can be used for slashing, and a good instructor would point that out. It's dangerous to tell a person that a multi-functional weapon can be used only in one or two ways; the user will then focus on trying to get the 'ideal' attack at the expense of an open attack. Frank Herbert put it best in Dune; the tip can also cut, and the edge can also stab.

-A 9mm has a VERY mild recoil. It wouldn't jar the arms or feel very powerful at all, even to a child. The only exception to that would be a bullet with a high powered primer, but that wouldn't be used for familiarization. Further, P8s and all similar weapons have recoil reduction systems. That being said, for a first time shooter, the weapon wouldn't hurt so much as kick: it would be a strange and frightening experience to try and get a firm grip on a weapon that MOVED every time it fired. Think holding a remote and feeling it jerk every time you pressed a button. Not painful, but disorienting.

Though, Gob still might look good in a cocktail dress.
-Sorrow

Rei wanted to know what waffles tasted like.
-Literary Eagle

We have to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, and work. But work has to come in third.
-Leslie Knope

Come read EVA Sessions! This place has it, too! There'll be pizza! Not really! There are other things, too! Not EVA Sessions! Did I mention the pizza!?

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Postby Glor » Sun Oct 04, 2015 8:57 pm

Tanks mang, good to get a sense of how everything is coming across.

Thanks for pointing out those nitpicks too. I was already familiar with the differentiation between an Officer and an NCO, I just assumed Shinji wouldn't be aware of the difference and would just refer to him as an officer from his POV. Gonna' change it to avoid confusion, though.

Your insight on the knife bit is much appreciated, and you're right. From my own research and watching instructors, it seemed like it was more efficient to resort to stabs as opposed to slashes. But I'm also not in the military and Franky does put it rather well.

As for the gun scene, boy is that embarrassing. I kinda just pulled from my own experiences firing guns when I was younger - I couldn't tell you what guns they were, a few sidearms and rifles, but I remember almost getting hit in the face because I wasn't ready for the recoil. I should've done more thorough research on the P8, regardless.

I'm realizing as I'm going that I may have to extend this arc by two or three chapters to pace things a little better. Not any time soon, probably after I'm done with chapter 7, that way I can take a step back and see where I can expound on things.
Rite of Reclamation - an Evangelion/Halo fusion, check it out, is pretty neat.

"Anything can be Evangelion related if you have the will to twist it." -Joseki.

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Postby Gob Hobblin » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:25 pm

Don't feel embarrassed! The details are minute when compared to the story and the characters. If you make us care about your characters, you've done your job. Anything else is trivial.
Though, Gob still might look good in a cocktail dress.
-Sorrow

Rei wanted to know what waffles tasted like.
-Literary Eagle

We have to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, and work. But work has to come in third.
-Leslie Knope

Come read EVA Sessions! This place has it, too! There'll be pizza! Not really! There are other things, too! Not EVA Sessions! Did I mention the pizza!?

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Postby Glor » Thu Oct 08, 2015 1:27 pm

Chapter 5 has been done for a bit. Just sitting there staring at me. I can see junctions where it needs work, but am at a loss as far as what to do with it. So here you go.

SPOILER: Show
Chapter 5: Burden

Shinji had always held the suspicion, but had never known for sure. The red triangles in her hair confirmed it – Asuka was an alien. When he told her as much he was rewarded with a bruised shoulder.

He chuckled, jumping back as she raised her fist again. “A cat then? No, cats are cute and fuzzy...”

“Go ahead, keep talking you little jerk,” she said sweetly while her eyes promised punishment.

Shinji sat down on the steps leading to the back porch of the Langley house, putting up the white flag early. “Fine, what are they?”

“A10 clips,” Asuka said with a grin, hands planted on her hips. “Haven't you ever been in an entry plug before?”

“A what?” he asked, leaning his elbows on his knees. She knew he hadn't.

Entry plug.”

Shinji clicked his tongue. “What the heck is it? And if I'm a pilot, why haven't I seen one before?”

“Probably because your robot isn't here – duh.”

“Robot?”

“Yeah, don't you know anything?” she asked, missing his glare as she balanced along the edge of the top step. “They're supposed to finish building my robot here in Berlin.”

“Just yours?”

She shrugged, wobbling. “They said yours was being built in Japan at Headquarters.”

“Headquarters for what?” he asked, willing her to fall. That might show her.

“NERV,” she growled, plopping down next to him, “do I have to teach you everything?!”

NERV. A word he'd been seeing around the old Gehirn offices quite a lot recently.

When Shinji had turned 10, a lot of things he was still trying to figure out had happened. They hadn't seen Lützow in a while and were given new security I.D. cards for their training sessions within the research center. Inside there were armed guards – not like the old ones that kind of reminded him of pudgy police – but full-fledged soldiers dressed in tan while sporting red berets, rifles slung around their shoulders. Since then, the place was constantly under construction, halls and rooms sealed off by tarps while power tools blared. The warehouse they trained in never really changed, though Gehirn itself began to flood with other people – scientists, soldiers, technicians. Everywhere he went there was a big red leaf cut down the middle by the letters NERV – some saying about God arcing under it.

He was 11 now, and in the span of two years Gehirn had gone from a gated, squat complex to a huge, fortified concrete hive of activity. He wondered if it had been finished at all since he'd been away. Three months ago they had completed their training with Weissenburg and hadn't been back to Gehirn since. Asuka had been decidedly dour after he left. In fact, he hadn't seen her this excited for anything in a while.

Misato had even disappeared for a bit and he'd gotten himself punished by Teacher several times for misbehaving. She hadn't even told him she was leaving – or where. One day she was just gone and he'd locked himself in his room for a while, listening to his SDAT for maybe the first time in a year. He'd forgiven her as soon as she'd come back a few weeks ago, though.

“You two ready to go, or what?” behind them a lavender haired woman was leaning on the threshold of the back door.

“Misato!”

“Hey, kiddo,” she said as he ran up to greet her, a hand absently ruffling his hair.

He glowered, trying to push her arm away – and failing. “I'm not a kid! I'm eleven.”

“Oh, well excuse me,” she laughed, dragging him close as she started to rough her knuckles against his head.

“Stop– Misato!” he growled, desperately trying to wiggle out from under her arm. She loosened her grip, but didn't let up.

“I said stop!” he yelled, finally managing to push her away.

“Oh, don't be such a brat,” she pouted when he glared at her. His anger did somersaults in his stomach as he realized how close they had been, eyes falling to her chest. He looked away in the same second, shame creeping across his cheeks. Why'd she have to treat him like a baby all the time? He just wanted... well, he didn't know what he wanted. But the notion was something interesting – disturbing even – and all around uncomfortable.

As Asuka walked up, he saw her eyes squinch for just a moment, then she pinched his cheek. He jerked back, retaliating with a pinch to her arm.

“Ow, that hurt!” the girl scowled and reached for him. He grabbed her wrists and struggled to keep her at bay as she pushed against him.

“Hey, hey–!” Misato grabbed an arm each to pull them apart. “Knock it off! Geez...” she sighed, turning to travel back through the house.

Shinji started to follow, only to be knocked back as Asuka moved ahead, sticking her tongue out. By the time they reached the car, she had already rushed to jump into the front passenger seat. Failing to hide a scowl – much to the redhead's satisfaction – he climbed into the back and begrudgingly buckled in.

They soon left the countryside behind and wound a familiar path through Berlin. Misato had to stop the car several times at checkpoints manned by armed men in tan uniforms. Soon enough, they rode up along twelve-foot high concrete walls rimmed with curling spindles of barbed-wire. At the final gate, Misato had her I.D. scanned one last time before the wall of iron-rod parted to let them pass.

The humble offices he'd come to know had been transformed into a small fortress of glass facades preceded by elevated decks that could be reached via a long series of stairs broken up by levels of terraces.

“Welcome to NERV-03, Shinji. Quaint little place.” Misato said as they rolled into a parking spot. Adults marched up and down the grand stairways, sporting suits or uniforms, a murmur of conversation and activity traveling over the courtyard.

“Race you to the top!” Asuka shouted, bolting up the steps. Shinji stomped up after her, his legs burning after only the first few flights – but he had to win or else she would brag about it the rest of the day. Teeth grinding, he made it only a step or two behind Asuka, feeling like his knees might break at any moment. He gave in at last, just before the final flight to the top.

Asuka turned around as he staggered up the last few steps, lungs starving for oxygen. “What took you so long?” she asked, breathless.

He fixed her with a glare, ignoring the jibe. “I would've... won if you hadn't... cheated.”

“Asuka Langley Soryu never cheats... you're just mad because I'm faster than you.”

Preplexion traveled their way from the passing adults, and soon a tan-uniformed man with a rifle slung around his shoulder approached, sunglasses hiding his eyes. “You kids lost?” he asked, not waiting for an answer as he spoke into the radio latched to his vest.

Misato came to their rescue. “It's okay! They're with me, sorry!”

The guard shifted his feet and made a lazy gesture. “Can I see your NERV I.D. Ma'am?”

She fished it out of her purse and the guard scanned it with a hand-held device, which elicited a high-pitched wail in response. The guard handed it back. “Sorry to keep you Lieutenant, go ahead.”

Misato smiled. “Thank you!” as soon as they were a good distance away, the smile dropped and she gave them a stern look. “Don't go wandering around once we get inside,” she hissed, “then we might really be in trouble.”

“Why should we get in trouble? We're way more important than some stupid guard,” Asuka whispered to him.

They walked to a gap under the tall windows stretching over the entrance, descending a ramp into the AC where lines of people waited before metal doors and watchful guards. Before they'd built the base, a portly security guard would just slide it through his hand-held reader like the one the other guard had. Above the row of seven gates it read NERV-03 Terminal 14.

“Why are there so many soldiers here?” Shinji asked.

“NERV is a special agency under the UN, so they have to make sure it's well protected. Now get your card out.”

He pulled the red and black plastic square from a pants pocket, watching Misato as she made a show of sliding it. A harsh buzzer sounded and the door panel flared green before whooshing open. They had to scan their cards individually, and once through, boarded an elevator. Shinji counted the levels as they ticked by.

“Asuka's already heard it, but everything past this point is Top Secret, got it?” she said, fixing him with a long, level look.

“Uh, okay.”

The elevator dinged and they departed, reaching a door labeled: RESTRICTED AREA – Authorized Personnel Only. Misato slid her card once more before placing her palm on a grid-lined screen. A moment later it pinged in success and they descended further still into the base, guided down a frigid hall with ribbed panels. Just when Shinji thought it might go on forever, a door at its end yielded to a room full of computers, tall towers with green lights flickering behind glass panels standing guard along the walls. In front of them was a table with a shimmering sky blue surface, a hologram of something vaguely person shaped hovering over it. Beyond that were tall floor-to-ceiling windows. A few people with head sets manned some of the terminal stations, only one woman sparing them a disinterested glance.

Asuka bolted across the room towards the windows and Shinji followed. A massive chamber at least fifteen stories high was laid out before them: at the bottom of which was a giant figure, though much of it was concealed by sheets of white tarp and a web-like structure of scaffolding and mezzanines that supported a series of cranes.

Shinji gasped. “Wow! It's a person – a giant person!”

“This is Evangelion Unit-02,” Misato said, leaning against the window next to him.

“My Eva!” Asuka cheered, pressing up against the glass.

The door panel to their right slid into the wall, introducing them to a familiar German doctor. He looked a bit more weathered since they'd last seen him, harder lines under his eyes and a much paler complexion. Other people wearing white lab coats entered with him, but didn't linger, save for one. Her dull brown hair was cut short, framing her high cheek bones and squared chin.

“There you are! I've – uh,” Lützow paused, a disparaging glance flickering towards the woman next to him, “we've, been waiting for you.”

The woman's eyes fixed on Misato. “You are late.”

“I... got lost?” she ventured, bashfully. “Sorry, Moskva.”

“Who're you?” Asuka asked, as if making some sort of challenge.

Lützow almost suppressed a grimace as he combed a hand through his graying hair. “Ah, yes, introductions I suppose. Asuka, Shinji: this is the new Assistant Director of Third Branch's Technological Division. She was just transferred over from HQ...”

“Alyona Moskva,” she said, her brown-green eyes sending a shiver down his spine.

Lützow grunted. “Right, well, might as well show you around before we get started.” he led them through the left side of the control room, down a curving path that brought them into the bright, sterile light of Unit-02's housing. They were on the highest gantry, able to overlook the entire facility and its bustling crews.

“This is what we're piloting?” Shinji asked, practically hanging over the railing.

Asuka shot him a glare. “No one but me gets to pilot this one.”

“That's right,” Lützow said with a tight smirk, “but you are correct, Shinji. We've spent a long time preparing the Evangelions.”

His mind flooded with questions faster than he could ask them. “So how does it work?”

“That's a rather board question,” Moskva said, only a bit of a Russian accent creeping through her German. “Do you mean to ask how you control it?”

He nodded.

“To put it simply, the answer is through electrochemical communication.”

At Shinji's befuddled look, Lützow poked his head. “With your thoughts.”

“Oh,” his brow furrowed, “why's it have to be so big?”

“Who cares!?” Asuka barked, excited more than anything else. She grabbed his arm, tugging him down the gantry to show him its head. She pointed to all the different parts, listing off in rapid fire where the entry plug was supposed to go and where all the different weapons were going to be. The only part they could really see was the chest, shining segmented steel plates coming together at a downward point.

“So, it's silver?”

“No, that's just the base metal. They haven't painted it yet.” her eyes widened and she let out a small gasp. “Misato! Tell them to paint it red!”

The woman chuckled. “I'll see what we can do, Asuka.”

She smiled and looked back down at Unit-02, going on about her Eva and how it was going to be the best – better than the two in Japan. He wouldn't know. Her expression was the brightest he'd ever seen it. That was good. He didn't like to see her as quiet and mopey as she had been the past few months. She was a lot less grumpy now too.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

He blinked, a smile he didn't realize he was wearing dropping from his face. Panicked, he leaned forward against the railing, pretending to have found something of immense interest down below. “Like what? I wasn't doing anything.”

“You were – weirdo!” she said, poking his chest.

“I-I wasn't!”

A beaming Misato shattered the hostility. “You two are so cute together!”

“Misato!” they whined, faces red.

“Oops, I think I embarrassed them.” she giggled and the three adults smiled knowingly.

Lützow stuffed a hand in his lab pocket and waved them over with the other. “Come along – we still have a lot to do tonight.”

***

The locker room was frigid, chilling his bones and turning the quick change of attire into a race to escape the cold. A race he was losing. It had taken him almost fifteen minutes to get the stupid suit on. There was a thin black mesh on the inside, but it didn't make it any easier to fit into the thing. Misato said if he didn't have it on tight around his arms and legs it wouldn't seal properly. He adjusted the chest piece a few more times, hoping he was doing it right and far too embarrassed to go ask his caretaker for help. Clamping the neck-piece together like he'd been shown, Shinji clicked the device at his wrist and jumped when the suit snap-hissed to his body.

He checked himself, making sure everything was as it should be. The suit itself was mostly white, with a few red markings here and there, the black mesh revealing itself between a few of the angled plates over his stomach. Kind of like the Eva, he thought. Though the armor, if he could really call it that, was just a hard kind of plastic. Or so he guessed. It was bulky around his shoulders and chest, but not top heavy.

The suit creaked as he walked towards what Misato called the Testing Chambers. A shiver scuttled down his spine and he stopped in his tracks.

A pool of translucent red liquid stretched out before him. Wires and tubes spilled from the low ceiling, connecting into ports at the neck of a figure with a head either made of metal or held in some kind of thick mask. His gut sank as he took in the depth of the tanks, the thing inside little more than a torso with two arms that cut off at the wrists. There was a cavity in its sternum, occupied by something that looked mechanical, at least from where he was. There were two other pools within the corridor, marked off with black and yellow strips of caution paint.

A finger jabbing him in the side made Shinji jump, though he stifled a yelp.

“Ooh, Shinji, when did you get so muscly?” Misato cooed, giving his bicep a squeeze. He yanked his arm away and she giggled.

“Stop teasing me.” he grumbled, taking a step back – both from Misato and the red pool. “What is that?”

She shrugged. “Just a dummy. It's supposed to simulate the piloting process. Or so I'm told.”

Asuka came in from the opposite end of the Testing Chambers in a suit not unlike his. Most of it was similarly a plain white, the torso sporting red colorations. It was shaped differently, yet had the same large print 'TEST' just where the collar bones met.

“I hate this suit,” she sighed, nose twitching as her eyes fixed to the top of his head. She reached up and adjusted his headset.

“Why are we wearing these?” he asked as she positioned it to her liking.

Before Asuka could answer, Lützow came stumbling over a wire from across the pool. “We're going to start testing your ability to synchronize with the Evangelion,” he said, fiddling with an unseen panel.

“Synchronize?”

“Mhm. It is what will allow you to issue mental commands to the Eva, controlling it as if it were your own body.”

Shinji followed Lützow up a set of grated stairs alongside the suspended head, the walkway curving in an arc around the back. A long, white cylinder was waiting there, sitting upon a ringed platform, the base of it touching the water where it would meet the mutilated body's spine. Along its length it read – EVA-01 PROTOTYPE. Underneath that, in much smaller print, was a serial number and the date: 05-07-2004, ///Obsolete/// stamped in red paint.

“This is the technology that will allow you to link with the Evangelion,” Lützow said, patting the white tube affectionately. “The apparatus before you is just to allow us to simulate the experience. You'll be situated in the command suite here and submerged in LCL.”

Moskva stepped up next to Misato. “It's going to feel like you're drowning when the LCL fills your lungs. But once that happens, your blood will be oxygenated directly.”

“So I'll still be able to breathe?”

“Essentially.”

Asuka pushed her nose up with a thumb. “You have to suck it in through your nose. It hurts more, but you choke less.”

That managed a half-smirk. “What is it for?”

“The LCL acts like a communication link. The A10s,” Lützow tapped Shinji's headset, “bounce your thoughts through the LCL, which channels them as commands to the Eva's brain. Much easier than trying to create an uplink by jamming a neural interface into your skull, eh? This communication between pilot and machine happens all the quicker the higher your synchronization is.”

He looked to the head facing down in the liquid. “It has a brain?”

“Purely cybernetic...” Moskva said, “it can't actually think for itself.”

Shinji supposed that was why they needed a pilot. Lützow took Asuka to an adjacent chambers, while Moskva coached him on a few more things regarding the plug. He settled himself inside, finding the command suite surprisingly comfortable. The hatch sealed and he immediately wanted out. He couldn't wuss out now, though. Not with Asuka and Misato and everyone else watching.

A few lights at the rear of the plug snapped on and he felt it spin, waiting long minutes in the semi-darkness.

“Begin LCL injection.”

“Roger, flooding entry plug.”

A thick, soupy orange substance slowly began to spill in from the bottom of the plug, rising steadily. It was cold as it started to swallow his legs, the suit beginning to regulate the temperature. He braced himself as it reached his neck, swallowing it in as it reached over his head. He gagged, a headache pulsing to life in his sinuses. He did feel like he was drowning – all at once he couldn't breathe and liquid was spilling down his throat. Rising bile tickled his esophagus, but he held it down despite his panic. At last the LCL pooled into his lungs and he could breathe again – yet he couldn't. He had the air but didn't need to breathe for it. White and black splotches splashed over his vision at the sensation.

“Beginning primary contact.”

“Inserting synapses, connecting junctions.”

“Transmitting pulse.”

“Begin secondary contact.”

“Roger, connecting interface.”

“Connect A10 nerve-links.”

“All circuits are operational. A10 connection is nominal.”

“LCL charge is normal.”

As they spoke a wash of colors and spectrums flared within the plug, pulsing over his head before coalescing into a view of the Testing Chamber. The LCL elicited a snap-hiss as the orange hue was whisked away to become clear.

“Borderline clear, checking harmonic values.”

“Basic proto-synchronization rate calculated.”

His body felt fuzzy, like it was numb – he blinked, trying to clear his eyes. He went from having a headache, to something like a sledge hammer trying to crack his skull open.

He was told he would get used to it.

After the initial shock wore off, sitting in the entry plug was actually very boring. He could imagine it was different operating within the actual Evangelion, but for the next hour all he did was sit there while the controllers occasionally muttered operational markers or procedures over the radio.

At last they told him he was done and drained the plug before sliding the hatch open. He hung over the side for a few minutes, hocking up the LCL that clung stubbornly to his lungs and throat. Thankfully, Misato soon arrived with a towel.

They had him standing over a grated area, still dripping a bit with the orange stuff that filled his nostrils with the scent of copper. He'd been given a towel to dry his head with, but didn't want to change and shower just yet. He was, from a non-invasive distance, watching over the shoulder of a technician as readings and gauges for Asuka's simulator fluctuated.

“Why has the Research Division waited so long to start testing him?” he heard Misato ask in a hushed tone. He pretended to be absorbed in the computer screen. “And why here? Shouldn't they have taken him to HQ by now?”

“Direct– I mean, Commander Ikari's orders,” Lützow answered. “The original plug they used for the contact experiment will suffice for testing, as to why, I couldn't be sure.”

Commander? His father? That must mean he was in charge of the Headquarters Asuka was talking about.

“It just seems odd they wouldn't want to start syncing him with Unit-01 as soon as possible.”

Shinji spun around. “Misato, when will my Eva be done?”

She jumped and her eyes widened a little. If they were just testing him because his Eva wasn't ready, the sooner it was built, the sooner his father would call him home. For the first time in a while he thought of that stupid letter he'd tore up. He didn't have long left.

“Um, I'm not sure, kiddo – I think they started final assembly sometime last year. It'll definitely be finished before Unit-02, though.”

Moskva made a wry face. “I should hope so, we need the testing data from Unit-01 if we're going to have the production model ready on schedule. First and Second Branch are antsy enough as it is.”

Lützow waved his hand. “They won't even have the muscular layers fully formed for another year at least – they can make adjustments. The U.S. is probably just upset they won't have a functioning Evangelion before everyone else.”

Tests at NERV took up their days just as the training with Weissenburg had. Yet even here, Asuka was adored by the mostly German staff, who doted on her as if she were their own daughter. That usually left him with Moskva and Misato. He couldn't help but think about how neatly the foreigners had been segregated from the rest of the operation.

Moskva was always very serious, to the point where he was frightened he might actually anger her if he made even the tiniest mistake during his tests. After each one, she would bring him into the control room so he could read the synchronization charts filled out with the data collected from the plug. He didn't really understand it and Moskva never explained. Through the myriad of changing percentages – he deciphered it enough to find his sync ratio aligned within the tabs of 'nerve connectors'.

When he asked Asuka about it, her answer made his jaw drop. “27%?” he asked.

She shrugged. “Yeah, what's yours?”

1.1%

“I– I dunno.”

From then on, he tried to make the percentage go up for his tests. He didn't actually know what he was supposed to do to make that happen, but it crawled its way higher and higher, little by little, and each time Moskva would take him to the in-house food court and buy him whatever he wanted. She never smiled and they never talked.

All the same, he never stopped trying to get that number higher.

***

In the 5th grade, Asuka had started taking more advanced classes, and thus started finding more friends in the advanced students – who were often separated from the normal classes and allotted special privileges. Some afternoons she would be out spending time with them, not arriving home until later in the night. It was mostly girls, and she seemed to do her best to steer clear of him at school. Or maybe he was just imagining that part.

Along with that, girls started giving him looks or would giggle whenever he passed by, hands covering their mouths as they whispered to one another. Despite the incident with Erika, word must've gotten around that Shinji and Asuka weren't actually boyfriend and girlfriend like most kids had assumed.

He would watch as boys from other classes would stare after Asuka. She began finding notes at her desk, ripping them up and throwing them in the trash without ever reading them. Others tried a more direct approach – one even offered her a handful of flowers, only to watch her toss them in the trash as she walked off.

It made his stomach churn and he wouldn't be able to focus on any of his lessons, tapping his pencil against the desk, chewing on the eraser instead when the teacher snapped at him for it.

Between school, her advanced classes and NERV, she didn't come over to his house all that much. When she did come to the garden, she always had her homework, making him study with her out on the back porch or by the pond.

This morning, they were preparing for yet another school day. He was clad in the usual uniform for his grade level, dark blue khakis and jacket. He left his white undershirt untucked for the time being. Asuka would fuss over it later, but he couldn't be bothered. It was just too early.

As he stepped across the Langley's back porch, he thought, with some amusement, back to her birthday the year before last when she'd turned 10.

A wretched cough tore its way out of Asuka's throat, the kind you could imagine ripping up someone's lungs. Her body convulsed as it triggered a bout of hacking. She fell back into her pillows, exhausted, sporting a puffy red nose and pale cheeks.

“Asuka?” he asked from the doorway to her room. Her head rolled towards him, bed sheets shifting.

“Hey, Shinji,” she rasped, barely above a whisper, a small cough shaking her chest. Mrs Langley touched a hand to his back, urging him forward. Mr Langley was there too, sparing him a glance and a small smile. He was sitting at her bedside, garbed in an olive green uniform with golden pins and buttons, a dozen colored ribbons adorning his chest. Turning back to his daughter, he kissed the top of her head while a hand smoothed over her disheveled mess of hair. Whispered words left his lips before he stood, fitting a cap over his head and making for the door. He ruffled Shinji's hair as he passed, Mrs Langley following him out.

He occupied the now empty chair at her bedside, taking in her heavy eyelids and wondering what could make her so sick. She'd been absent from school yesterday, and he'd finally gathered up the courage to knock at the Langley's door and ask about her. Mrs Langley said it was strep throat, but for all he knew it could be some deadly foreign disease.

Asuka pulled the covers up over her nose, so all he could see were her eyes. “Don't look at me. I'm gross.” her muffled voice said.

He chuckled.

It was supposed to be her birthday today. So long as he'd known her, she'd never celebrated them in any spectacular fashion. Her parents always made an attempt, but she always found a way to throw it back in their faces, so they'd stopped trying. Birthday parties were for little kids, or so she always said.

His own birthdays weren't much of an event either. They came and went like any other day. The only difference was that Teacher postponed lessons.

“Are you gonna' be okay?” he asked as she finished her most recent coughing fit. If it was anything really serious, Asuka would be in the hospital.

“'Course I am, dummy,” she croaked, coughing once more.

He tried and failed to stifle a laugh, to which she hid further under the covers. “I'm sick... you're supposed to be nice to me,” she groaned.

I'm always nice to you, he wanted to say, but knew it wasn't true. When he was quiet, she poked her whole face out of the covers to rasp, “Make me tea.”

So he did.

Shinji visited her every day for the next two and half weeks. More than a few days he just skipped school to stay in her room while her father and step-mother worked, making her tea and soft foods. Asuka said he was stupid for missing school, but didn't tell him to leave. She couldn't talk very much anyway. Some days she wouldn't be able to speak at all. He never thought he would end up wishing she could.

So he would sit by her bedside, trying to do homework while she slept.

Since then, the Langley's never gave a second thought to his comings and goings. So of course Mr Langley simply bid him a good morning as he passed through the kitchen, only a brief glance up from his news paper.

He stepped into the foyer to climb up the oaken steps. It was odd, as a child the house had always looked so big. Now that he was older, he realized it was no mansion at all, especially compared to some of the other countryside dwellings in Berlin. All the same, it was still a beautiful home and denoted just how well off the family was.

Up the stairs and down the hall to his right, he made a brief knock as he pushed the door open “Asuka? Come on, we're gonna' be late. You always–”

Get out!” she screeched, clutching a towel to herself.

“I'm sorry!” he shouted, unable to stagger from the room quick enough. Something whacked against the door as he closed it, heart trying its damnedest to hammer its way out of his chest.

“Dammit, Shinji! You– you stupid pervert!”

“What?!”

Muffled curses in German echoed at him from the other side and all the awkward lessons from those sex ed classes came flooding back. He took several steps away from the door, as if that would separate him from them. Why was his face so hot? Why were his hands shaking? It was just Asuka – he hadn't seen anything. At least he didn't think he did... did he?

Shinji shook his head to dismiss that particular line of thought. She'd been his best, and really only, friend since they were 4, he couldn't possibly think of her like... that.

The door swung open, revealing a fully dressed and very peeved Asuka. “What gave you the idea you could just walk into a girl's room without permission?!”

He held his hands up. “I-I don't know, I'm sorry!”

“Why don't you try using that peanut you call a brain next time?!” she demanded, pushing past him and storming down the hall.

“Asuka...” he hurried to keep pace as she thundered down the stairs, “come on, I said I was sorry.”

“'Cause that just fixes everything, doesn't it?” she snapped.

He stopped on the steps. “You barge into mine without asking all the time...”

Luckily, she didn't hear him. She would just keep arguing with him anyway and he didn't want to do that the whole car ride over to school. Asuka was overbearing enough without him trying to get her mad. Best to just give up rather than make a big deal about it.

That was more or less the last time he ever went to fetch her for school. It turned out waiting by the front door was much safer. Still, no matter how hard he tried, he could never quite manage to expunge the incident from his mind.

***

“You've made very good progress Shinji.” Moskva said.

The displays flickered, the readings making him frown. “It's only 9%. Asuka's is at 30.”

A smirk ever so briefly graced her lips. “Did you know she's been sync-testing since she was four? It's taken her a very long time to reach that number. Besides, your rates will be much higher with the actual unit.”

That explained some of her strange behavior when they were little kids. She'd known what piloting was way before he ever did. His face smarted and the suit seemed to weigh 40 pounds.

He showered, changed and went with Moskva down to the food court while Asuka continued her testing, fetching two slices of pizza. He liked to fold them together and make a sandwich.

“Miss Moskva?” he asked after a time, managing little more than a few bites.

“Out with it, child.” she said, not looking up from her PDA sitting on the table.

He gulped. “No one's been able to tell me... why are you making these robots? Why do we have to pilot them?”

“To fight beings we call Angels.”

His head shot up. They talked about Angels and that kind of stuff at the Kloster all the time. “What are they?” he asked. In the books, they were holy messengers of God with halos and wings and all that. How could they be fighting those?

Her eyes lingered on him. “No one is certain. All we know for sure is that they want to take the Earth away from us. With the Eva, we can stop that from happening.”

“But why me? Why Asuka?”

“That's simply the way it is.”

Why do I have to live here? Because your father has deemed it necessary.

Why do we have to learn to fight? To protect mankind.

Why do we have to protect mankind? Because we have to.

Those weren't real answers. Nothing ever happened 'just because'. That couldn't be right. It was like everyone was always in on some big secret – laughing at him behind his back just because he didn't know any better.

Asuka was chatty as they left NERV-03, but Shinji didn't want to talk to her. She kept secrets from him too. Bidding her a good night only after a nudge from Misato, he plugged his SDAT in and let it lull him to sleep.

***

He was in the garden, standing at the edge of a clearing with a spiraling tree that grew golden apples. The sun was blinding, casting the forest around him in thin black, ghostly silhouettes. A flare of color snagged his eye: a bird with orange and red feathers was perched upon a high branch, one of the golden apples trapped in its beak. It held him under its eyes for what seemed a lifetime, before spreading its great wings and flying off with its prize.

He looked down, all at once realizing he was naked. Eyes rising to the tree again, there was a girl his age sitting amidst its thick, twisting roots. A girl with blue hair and bright crimson eyes.


Shinji's body jolted and he lifted his face from the open book, cheek numb and red. He groaned, blinking several times and distantly registering he was lying on his stomach. A weight sat on the right side of his back, not heavy, just – something. He tried to move and twisted to find Asuka fast asleep, using his side as a pillow.

She made a soft mewling noise as he shifted, stirring from her impromptu nap. When Asuka noticed what she was laying on, she bolted upright, giving him a look as she rubbed sleep from the other eye. He shrugged, pretending it didn't bother him.

She was probably still sore at him for his cold-shouldered goodbye last week. He'd just been thinking about a lot of stuff, and he hadn't possessed the energy to deal with her even a little that night. Definitely couldn't tell her that, though. Best to stick to the old routine.

Shinji checked the time from the watch lying next to his book – 5:16. It had been about an hour and a half since they started, and he'd made little to no progress on his homework. It was testament to just how far he'd let his grades slip this past year. Teacher had given him a scathing lecture some months ago. Truth be told, Shinji just didn't care anymore. Piloting was the only thing he was here for, so long as he kept doing that, he had a feeling no one really cared how well he did in school.

“I'm leaving for University in two weeks,” Asuka said.

He looked up. “What?”

She flicked hair from her face, absorbed in her work. “They're still going to have me come to NERV, but I'll be living on campus.”

“Oh.” he said, chewing on the eraser of his pencil. The drone of the cicadas reigned for a while as he waited for her to continue, but she just kept scrawling notes.

“How far is it?” he finally asked.

“Down south in Baden-Württemberg. Heidelberg.”

He struggled to summon a mental image of Germany. Baden-Württemberg was a south-western state bordering Switzerland, nearly a six hour drive. Maybe an hour by plane. He waited for further explanation, but none came.

“Uh, which school?” he ventured, trying to ignore the growing ache in his stomach.

Her nose twitched with a sneer. “What other top Universities do you know of in Heidelberg?”

“I don't know... it was just a question.”

“Look, just... stop talking, okay?” she asked quietly, almost looking him in the eyes. She didn't wait for any acknowledgment, phasing him out as just another part of the scenery. He wished that didn't sting, but he indulged her anyway. If only because she'd genuinely asked it of him instead of making it a demand.

Shinji stared down at his textbook for a while, the problems becoming jumbled and nonsensical blurs of numbers and letters. The dream from before swirled about his thoughts, the orange bird flying off with a golden apple.

They finished the rest of their homework in silence.

***

Those two weeks passed by in a blur of quiet homework sessions, tests at NERV and monotonous school days. Now he, Asuka, her parents, and Misato were pulling up to the Berlin Tegel Airport: a mountain of tiered window facades stacked atop concrete platforms, a multi-level tower reaching high above it to preside over the runways.

Finding parking below, they made their way out of the yellow-tinged halls and up into the smooth, pristine corridors built for massive amounts of people it would never accommodate.

They picked up her ticket, transferred her luggage and passed through security. All the while Asuka hovered close by to him. The air in the wide corridors was cold, but smelled fresh and echoed with hundreds of voices.

All too soon they arrived at the proper concourse and it dawned on him that she was actually leaving. He felt stupid only getting anxious about it now. It just hadn't seemed real until this moment – with Asuka standing in front of the terminal, carry-on in hand.

They stood side by side near the gate. Outside the tall floor-to-ceiling windows the plane was already docked. Asuka stared down the long, narrow path leading within. She was wearing jeans and a long-sleeved maroon shirt for the trip. Even though they were the same height, he'd never seen her look quite so small as she did in that moment, her free hand balled tight into a fist. It was like they were little kids again.

He realized now just how little time they'd spent together before she had to leave. She'd even been given a week off from school. It was pointless for her to go there anymore – not since she was going to college. Shinji could've gone to see her, but... no, if Asuka wanted his company, she sought it out. She would find him, like she always did. It would never work the other way around. If he looked for her when she didn't want it, she'd turn him away.

The gate clerk called for boarding. A feeling of dread began to boil up from his gut. Asuka hugged her father, then her step-mother, exchanging brief goodbyes and well-wishes.

Then she turned to him, expression a mask that hid the Asuka he rarely saw underneath, betrayed by the way she bit her lower lip. Just as she started to turn and leave, a resolution passed through her eyes. She dropped her bag and pulled him into a hug, squeezing him so tight he thought his bones might break. He hugged her back, not caring that her hair was making his nose itch or that Misato might tease him.

Before the embrace could go on for too long, she pushed him away, a false smile touching her lips. “I'll see you when I come home, dork.”

He tried to smile back. “Okay.”

She hefted her carry-on up and waited in line as the passengers handed over their tickets. He watched her march down the ramp, quickly disappearing behind a horde of strangers.

She looked back and he waived. “Bye, Asuka!” he called, and she turned away without a smile and without a word.

Even when she was out of sight, Shinji didn't want to leave. He wasn't sure if he wanted to go back home knowing she wouldn't be there.

***

The days stretched on endlessly at school as he suffered lesson after lesson with no distraction. The weeks crawled by at a snails pace, each seeming to take the span of a year to wade through.

With Asuka's absence, Shinji found his time largely unoccupied, even with his testing at NERV during the late evenings.

He'd held onto the hope he might be able to see her there at some point, but that was impossible because of her schedule at University. She only flew in a few times a month for sync-testing and when she did, it was in the morning while he was at school, gone by the time he arrived in the evening.

After perhaps a few weeks, he was surprised, and elated, when there was a letter waiting for him at home. He tore the envelope open, excusing himself from joining Teacher for dinner. In it, she claimed to have a new guardian to watch over her while she stayed at University. She told him about what campus life was like – and how she was the youngest person ever enrolled in the college.

He sent her letters in return, using Lützow as a mailing service, much to his annoyance. His were usually very short, as he didn't have much to talk about. He was almost annoyed at how uninteresting his life was here.

It was strange at first, not having her there to fill his days, but he discovered other ways to busy himself. In particular, he started caring for the garden more – planting flowers, clearing out weeds, uprooting rogue trees. He told Asuka about all that, as boring as she might find it. Eventually, Mr Langley allowed him access to the Estate's maintenance shed, evidently pleased. Likely because he had to pay the gardeners a little less with the free labor on hand. Day by day, Shinji eagerly awaited her letters. Slowly, the gaps between them grew longer and longer. He told himself he didn't mind. She was busy with college, afterall.

With one letter he received several pictures. A man who must've been her new guardian appeared often. He was Japanese, long hair tied back while bits of stubble clung to his chin. He was in almost all of them. They smiled and laughed, while she hugged him or clung to his arm in every shot.

Shinji found himself thinking of Erika again. He'd managed to forget about her for a while, despite seeing her every now and then at school. Recently he'd seen her latched onto the arm of some brown-haired boy. She avoided his eyes, pretending he wasn't there, while the boy caught him staring after her and sent him a smarmy smile and a wink.

He hated it.

It wasn't long before he started to look forward to tests at NERV. If only to be away from the garden and the Kloster.

“You miss her, don't you?” Misato asked.

Her voice tore his mind back to the present, where he stood within the Testing Chambers. He held back a grimace. She must have seen him staring at Asuka's simulation Eva. “No. I still have you... and Teacher.”

The echoing void of the corridor settled between them, muffled words from the control room slipping through.

“What'll you do if I leave?” she asked, that last word puncturing his heart. He shrugged, not meeting her eyes. He didn't want to look at her face – a fake face. A liar's face. Just the thought of it was starting to make him sick.

“I have to go back to Headquarters again.” she said when he didn't respond and he saw her fidget from the corner of his eye. “I won't be gone long... hey, look at me,” she reached out, a finger nudging his chin. He turned his head away.

“Fine.” she sighed, boots clacking along the grated floor as she left his side for the control booth. The test flew by and eventually he was back home, politely greeting Teacher as he padded to his room.

On the chair he used for cello practice was Misato's red beret, hanging off the back rest. He batted the thing to the floor and settled into his seat, just sitting there for long minutes, hands balled atop his knees. His gaze found the cello case on the floor to his left – and without remembering taking it out, he was preparing the instrument for use.

It wasn't long before he started to play. The humming chords became a nightly ritual, easing the time away into simple music.

Shinji's test scores started to decline before settling at 7%. They didn't rise after that. Misato came back right around then. It hadn't been long before he found himself wishing he'd said goodbye. He could never manage to stay mad at her for long.

Moskva stopped taking him to the food court and he didn't care to read from the charts. He came in with Misato, ran his tests, and then went home. He never saw her outside of that, but why should he? Her job was to watch him at the base and nothing else. She didn't care for him any more than that, no matter how much he might want her to.

Teacher gave up hounding him on his lessons, sparing him little more than a disappointed frown while reading his report cards at the dinner table.

In the quiet nights, it started to settle in, even though he didn't want to entertain the notion.

Asuka had finally left him behind.

Despite Germany's endless summer, the garden didn't seem so bright anymore.
Last edited by Glor on Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
Rite of Reclamation - an Evangelion/Halo fusion, check it out, is pretty neat.

"Anything can be Evangelion related if you have the will to twist it." -Joseki.

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Postby Iuvenal » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:30 pm

Makes my day when I see this thread get updated. Unfortunately I won't have time to read it until after the long weekend but I have high expectations :)
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Postby NemZ » Sat Oct 10, 2015 12:46 am

Damn it Shinji, get a life of your own already!
Rest In Peace ~ 1978 - 2017
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