Alright. So, this is something I've had in mind for quite a while. I'm not totally sold on writing it yet; whether I do will depend largely on you guys' reactions. (Although I'm heavily leaning toward doing so.) I'm going to outline the basic story idea, the synopsis of what I have so far, and then some of my concerns and questions for discussion, as well as my take on the characters.
The core idea here was originally "The Angels as good guys". From that, I got "Shinji allies with the Angels, and works to bring about a Third Impact scenario that will allow both Seeds of Life to coexist on the same planet". As the concept has developed, I've decided on a main SxR pairing (although that was always pretty much inevitable; it's my preferred ship). The major theme is reconciliation: between Adam and Lilith (well, sort of -- I'll get to that), between humanity and the Angels, between Shinji and his father.
The themes and ideological tone of the piece may or may not generally align with that of the canon series; I'm interpreting the setting and characters to my own ends. And by that I mean waylaying NGE in a dark alley, beating it senseless, stealing the useful ideas, and throwing away the rest. Really, the best term for this is that it's a c0da, for anyone here who might know what that means.
I'm also going to be going with an interpretation of Yui as generally unsympathetic. (In fact, she'll be the only properly unsympathetic character in the fic.) Whether you agree or not with regards to canon isn't particularly important. Just want to get that out of the way.
The story begins with the point of divergence from canon: Shinji and Rei. During their first proper meeting at her apartment, Rei by chance isn't taking a shower, and is able to greet him normally. Shinji expresses concern for her, and Rei is internally confused -- she understands human affection perfectly, but she doesn't understand why anyone would express affection for her. The meeting ends without incident, but another sync test with Unit-00 is planned.
During the test, Rei I, in the Eva, senses conflict in her "sister", and confronts Rei with her loneliness. And meanwhile, Shinji continues to seek information regarding Rei -- after seeing the state of her apartment, he's worried about her. They talk a couple more times, and Rei finds herself actively seeking contact with him. In a rare burst of initiative, Shinji asks her to stay with Misato and himself, since he feels she simply isn't healthy or safe where she is. Rei doesn't understand his reasoning, but discovers that she wants to, merely in order to be closer to him. In an effort to cut short what she sees as a burgeoning distraction, she attempts to drive him away by explaining what she is -- she's a clone, of both an alien god and Shinji's own mother. There are dozens more of her. She is the second. If she dies, she can be replaced.
Shinji is shocked, but ultimately decides he doesn't care what Rei is -- he knows her well enough to care for her regardless. But the discussion is cut short when Ramiel arrives. Shinji and Rei are deployed to deal with the Angel, but things go poorly. During the engagement, Shinji tries to breach Ramiel's AT Field manually, and ends up inadvertently establishing a mental link. Ramiel is sapient, though alien, and is intrigued by Shinji's lack of fear -- sure, he's frightened of the particle beam and the drill, but he doesn't fear the [/i]Angel[i]. He's not afraid of something he doesn't understand, not since Rei.
Ramiel retreats to mull this over, although Shinji doesn't understand why. He's also in a bad way after the link, and Rei visits him in the hospital, exhibiting surprising tenderness. His interest in her is renewed with a vengeance, and after he recovers, he once again offers to take her in. With her own conceptions of her expendability (?) shaken during the fight, she agrees, and Shinji strongarms Misato into allowing it. Gendo is alerted, but he allows it out of sheer bewilderment at Shinji's unusual behavior. Whether consciously or not, Gendo is also concerned for Rei's well-being, and that factors into his decision as well.
(By the way, I haven't actually even gotten to the plot yet. Yeah, we're going to be here for a while.)
Shinji and Rei slowly bond over time. It's all very fluffy. Shinji starts to understand Rei, and her means of expressing herself; and Rei quickly shifts the affection she held for the elder Ikari to his son. After some time, they agree to attempt a romantic relationship.
Shortly thereafter, Ramiel returns. But instead of attacking, the Angel draws Unit-01 to itself, and Shinji finds himself in an unfamiliar place. Whether it's simply in his mind or he's literally within Ramiel's structure is not fully explained, but it doesn't much matter. The pilot encounters a strange boy, who introduces himself as Adam, but asks Shinji to refer to him as Kaworu. Adam explains that he is the progenitor of the Angels, and gives Shinji a rough understanding of the situation with the two Seeds of Life. Further, he tells Shinji what Third Impact would mean. But never before has he encountered a human who lacked a primal fear of the Other (i.e. Adam-based life), as Shinji does. Adam tells Shinji that he had intended to destroy the Lilin in order to retake his planet from the usurper Lilith, and still has no qualms about doing so, though he regrets the loss of their accomplishments. However, discovering Shinji has led him to believe another solution may be possible.
Shinji is disoriented, and in well over his head, but he suggests a Third Impact scenario that would allow the Lilin and the Angels to share the planet -- after all, it's not like the humans are using every square kilometer. Kaworu explains that Lilith is being held in Terminal Dogma (Okay. So...I know that normally Kaworu wouldn't know that at this point, but the plot just breaks if he doesn't. I'll come up with some explanation. If all else fails, the explanation is timeline bullshit), and her presence limits his influence. Kaworu is aware of SEELE's existence, and knows that they will attempt to stop him if he alters his plan. Furthermore, a "soft" Third Impact isn't possible with the current forms of the Seeds of Life -- Lilith, being...stubborn...wouldn't allow it. In order to make Reconciliation a possibility, Lilith would need to be killed, and her Seed of Life taken by a Lilin. In the meantime, Lilith's death would also allow Adam to manifest much larger numbers of Angels in the Tokyo-3 area, in order to provide close support against SEELE and any other threats that might arise.
Shinji mentions Rei, and they agree that she would be able to take Lilith's power upon herself. After some discussion, Shinji agrees to the plan. In two weeks' time, an Angel will be sent in to allow Shinji to carry out their objectives in the chaos -- among other things, Rei will need to be in her Eva to absorb the Seed of Life. Kaworu tells him that in order to avoid suspicion, it would be best if Shinji destroyed Ramiel. He's reluctant, but Kaworu clarifies that death doesn't work the same way for Angels, and that Adam will be able to resurrect Ramiel with ease. Shinji understands, and destroys Ramiel's core with his progressive knife after re-syncing with Unit-01.
Once everybody's gone off alert, Shinji tells Rei what's going on, and they lay out some plans to take over Nerv's leadership. A day or two later, Shinji pulls a gun on Ritsuko during a routine appointment. She's not sure what to make of it. The plan is to break her, so they'll have someone on the inside during their coup, and also to help them with information about the Evas.
Shinji leads Ritsuko to believe he plans to rape her, but then Rei arrives, and Shinji explains that since he has Rei, he has no need of the attentions of an old hag like Ritsuko. He only has use for her knowledge. The doctor lashes out, but Rei effortlessly restrains her. Defeated, she agrees to help. (I'll explain more of my reasoning here in the character analysis section.) Shinji feels horrible about doing this, but Rei comforts him.
The designated two weeks pass, and Sahaquiel appears, heading for Nerv. Shinji and Rei are deployed -- Unit-00, incidentally, has been refitted as in canon, not that it's important -- but upon entering the field, Shinji breaks off and heads for the command pyramid, opening fire on the conventional forces present, while Rei continues toward Sahaquiel's impact point at a dead run. When Misato realizes something is amiss, she attempts to shut down the Evas, but Ritsuko reveals her loyalties and stops her.
Sahaquiel makes landfall, its AT Field shaping the blast into a narrow column that breaches the Geofront. Unit-00 leaps into the hole, landing in the sea of LCL and approaching Lilith. Meanwhile, Shinji reaches the command pyramid and begins cracking it open.
Rei retrieves the Lance of Longinus and begins eating Lilith. The Seed of Life's original personality attempts to overwrite Rei's, but she asserts her identity and rejects Lilith, severing Lilith's head from their combined mass with her AT Field.
Unit-01 breaches the pyramid and seizes Gendo. The commander, stoic as always, asks what Shinji is planning. He explains, vengefully, and prepares to kill him. But Yui happens to be awake, and learns that the Reconciliation Scenario does not involve the apotheosis of Unit-01. Refusing to allow anyone to interfere with her grand plan, she locks down the Eva and attempts to absorb Shinji.
Rei arrives on the surface wielding the Lance of Longinus and carrying Lilith's head, but quickly realizes that something is wrong. After a few moments of indecision, Gendo, still clutched in the motionless Unit-01's hand, explains. Rei tears through Unit-01's AT Fields and destroys the Eva with the Lance after forcibly de-syncing Shinji.
Gendo, freed from the unit's grasp and shaken by recent events, rushes to retrieve Shinji from the entry plug. Meanwhile, the remains of Unit-01 merge with Lilith's head and quietly vanish from the scene.
Disembarking from Unit-00, Rei, nearly glowing with dormant power, informs Gendo that there's been a change in leadership. Gendo stands down, and Shinji spends several days in the hospital recovering. Rei takes charge for the time being, using a carefully-intimidated Fuyutski as an intermediary, and Nerv personnel are given varying levels of information concerning the situation -- the lowest-level personnel are merely told that the Evas malfunctioned, and Gendo was badly hurt during the incident.
SEELE, meanwhile, are acutely aware that their plans have gone completely sideways, though they don't know the details. Nerv is considered compromised by the Angels, and the JDSSF are sent in to destroy the place if possible. Unit-01 is, of course, gone, and reinforcements from Adam have not yet arrived. Rei uses her Eva, now exponentially more powerful but too damaged to fight, to project an AT barrier around the facility, protecting Nerv from bombardment. The JDSSF are briefly able to breach the field with energy weapons (or possibly something involving Jet Alone), and a few ground teams are sent in. A battle ensues -- Nerv isn't getting massacred, but they won't be able to hold out for long either.
About an hour after the engagement begins, Kaworu appears, leading an army of several dozen angels that curbstomp the JDSSF. Tokyo-3 is placed under lockdown and surrounded by a field projected by several Ramiel-types, and the population are given a cover story.
By this point, Shinji has recovered, and he, Rei, and Kaworu take stock of the situation. Kaworu informs them that in order for Reconciliation to work, Adam's Seed of Life will have to be held by a Lilin, as well. Given Shinji's relationship with Rei and Kaworu's own dramatic sensibilities, he suggests that Shinji be the one to do it. However, they'll need a separate piece of Adam for it to work properly -- Kaworu mentions that he's aware of an embryonic form of Adam in SEELE's possession that would suffice.
When interrogated, a somewhat regretful Gendo reveals that the embryo is currently on a United Nations fleet, along with Unit-02 and the Second Child. The fleet is probably en route to the United States following Nerv's treachery.
Unit-00 has been repaired by this point, and Rei is deployed along with a Gaghiel-type Angel, her Eva equipped with a positron rifle and the Lance of Longinus, to retrieve the embryo -- they know there'll be a hostile Eva on board. Asuka is indeed sortied against them, and a battle ensues, with Rei mounted on Gaghiel engaging the fleet. Working in concert with the warships, Unit-02 is actually able to hold its ground fairly well until a Clockiel-type (which I'll have to come up with a proper name for) arrives, freezing the water in the area and allowing Unit-00 to move freely.
The fleet is still attacking, and Rei would prefer not to kill innocent people if she can avoid it, so she simply grabs the ship holding the embryo and flees on Gaghiel rather than trying to finish them off. When she gets back, Shinji eats the Adam embryo, and...that's about as far as I've gotten, really.
I know that there will be one or more large battles involving Angels engaging the MP Evas, and I know this is going to culminate in Third Impact.
Lilith/Yui will play into this somehow, but I'm not sure how. She works well as a villain, because she, both as Yui and as Lilith, represents an old order that needs to be destroyed in order for our protagonists to carve out their own paradigm. I was originally planning to just have SEELE be the villains, but the thing is we just don't know enough about them for them to be effectively evil, and what we do know makes them rather sympathetic -- they're lonely and/or scared old men. I mean, I can relate to that. ...not the old part, but the rest of it. And also, I feel like if pressed, SEELE would probably be generally okay with KSR's plan.
To go into more detail regarding Reconciliation, the idea is that with the Seeds of Life in the hands of individuals who aren't as...absolute...as the original personalities, and vitally, who love each other, their interaction will create a...spiritual biosphere? that will allow both Adamic and Lilin life to inhabit the planet. Among other things, this'll mean that Angelic technology like AT Field manipulation will be available to humans, which further means transhumanism for everybody. (Everybody who wants it, anyway.) If SEELE still wish to create their Complemented paradise, they can do so.
The trouble is that I need SEELE's resources to be in play, so I can have my giant mech battles. (I always thought the one-on-one monster-of-the-week setup was kind of a waste. When I started watching, I was actually expecting a full-scale war.) And the Lilith/Yui hybrid is both an eldritch abomination, nearly dead initially, and not all that sane or coherent. So having her just like usurp SEELE somehow and take control wouldn't make sense. What would make sense would be if SEELE somehow came into contact with her, and decided to use her as a weapon, but then basically got indoctrinated Reaper-style. (I think we've seen enough random weird powers from the Angels for that to be justifiable.) So it's still SEELE KSR are fighting, but Lilith/Yui's pulling the strings.
The other issue is that what with Yui being evil and all, Shinji can't really fight. I have a few ways of handling that -- he can just sit everything out from that point on, which would actually mean he never fights anything except Ramiel in the story; he can get a new unit somehow, either something the Angels provide or Unit-04 or something (I'm planning to have Kaworu piloting 03, with some paper-thin justification); or he can use his abilities as the bearer of Adam's Seed of Life to manifest as the Giant of Light and fight that way. Which is a bit Attack on Titan, but I think it's what I'm going to go with unless you guys disagree.
Shinji is, more than anything else, a compassionate person. In canon, he only ever really takes action when he sees that someone is in danger. He also has the whole desire to be needed, so in this continuity, he latches onto Rei early on when he notices how unhealthy she is. He also reacts strongly to her own kindness. His cold treatment of Ritsuko is, of course, an act, and he breaks down completely afterward.
Rei has been, in many cases, portrayed as sort of all-knowing. I don't want to that here, because I think it'd be a disservice to her character. The problem is that I don't know how to put together her interactions with Shinji early on. Specifically, I'm not sure who I should have make the first move. Does Shinji show Rei affection, and then things spiral from there as she discovers herself? Or does Rei exhibit some love for him, and events unfold from there? The setup I put in the synopsis has a bit of both, using a sync test as a catalyst for some character development, but I'm not wholly satisfied with it. And I have to get this part right, because half the point of this story is just to be as WAFFy as possible with Rei and Shinji. (I know it doesn't seem all that WAFFy, but if you just have fluff, it feels...unearned, like it doesn't have any weight. So there needs to be some trauma in there too for it to play off of.) But Rei's cute, and I want to write about her being cute. Particularly, I wanted to have this largely be about the consequences of someone like Rei having the opportunity to show affection for Shinji, and how that would affect the events of the series. After all, her sheer unconditional kindness is a large part of her appeal. But I'm not sure how well I can do that.
Part of the issue is just how much character development she has in canon. She's the only one of the main three pilots to overcome her issues on her own, and so in that later dynamic, she would definitely be the initiating element in a relationship with Shinji. But this is taking place much earlier, and it's hard to get a handle on how she'd react to things. And I don't have an easy way to speed her character growth along to that later point, because I don't have any room for Angel attacks until the thing with Ramiel happens, and they need to have made a connection by then so that Best Flying Octahedronal Girl will take notice.
Anyway. Kaworu, here, is being portrayed as fairly nice, and definitely one of the heroes, but not really THE CHAMPION OF MANKIND either. He's absolutely unwilling to relinquish his planet to Lilith -- she wasn't even supposed to be here, after all, which is a part of why I'm making her a villain in this -- and he's prepared to sacrifice the Lilin to that end. He'd just rather not if he has any other options. By the way, the process by which Shinji absorbs the Seed of Life cuts Kaworu off from Adam's power. It's a sacrifice he's willing to make. However, Kaworu, who is basically Adam's original mind, continues to exist, rather than being annihilated. This is part of why he wanted to use the embryo rather than just having Shinji chow down on a Tabris steak.
Gendo is just basically broken, as is the conventional wisdom with regards to his character. But he comes around, eventually. Most of his character arc revolves around getting over Yui in order to help his son. I think the scene where he chooses to give Rei information that will lead to her destroying Unit-01 in order to save Shinji illustrates that pretty well.
Ritsuko seems to place a lot of value on her sexuality, and is probably at least partially aware of what happened to her mother. Shinji deliberately degrading her to the point that he won't bother to even use her body has quite an effect. I don't really dislike Ritsuko, so I want to have her redeemed and folded into the team eventually if possible. Or...well, healed more than redeemed. If she does heal, it'll probably be in concert with Gendo's development -- if he gets over Yui and starts to legitimately care for Ritsuko, that'd go a long way.
I...think that's about everything. ...yeah, sorry for making you read all that. I just had a lot of thoughts to get out, I guess. Anyway, please give me your reactions and any help you can provide with the questions I had. Oh, and I'd appreciate if you could point out if I have a bunch of my Eva!science wrong. Thanks!
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