An Insider's Look

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Sep 30, 2018 7:15 am

I've been swamped with work this entire week, so there won't be an update today, folks. The scene itself is mostly done, but with some final touches here and there still remaining I'm quite probably going to be pushing the update until next Wednesday. From there on, I think I'm going to be trying to push subsequent updates into a ten day schedule, alternating between Wednesday and Sunday updates. Hopefully that will be something I'll be able to uphold.

Again, sorry for the inconvenience. Working full time and needing to be a responsible adult bites into my writing time quite a bit, unfortunately. :irked:
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Wed Oct 03, 2018 9:09 am

Update time, as promised. Next one will be going up on October 14th, should everything end up conforming to plan. ^_^

Now, if you'll excuse me, the brain demands a short nap. *crawls to the bed*

Chapter 10-2  SPOILER: Show
The rays of light that came from the hospital window made the young man laying within the room look at peace, almost as if he were taking a nap and about to wake up any second. A fairly large part of Asuka had been wishing for the latter to be the case, in fact, hoping that the way in which she had previously ejected Shinji from her thoughts could have ended up causing him to take up residence in his own body again, somehow. How his essence, soul, cognition or whatever was supposed to make the trip back by itself was something that Asuka had trouble imagining an answer to but, then again, even the weirdest of hypothesis weren’t that farfetched considering that she had already talked to her comatose roommate via thoughts.

And had been trying to do so again for the last twenty minutes, with no success.

“…I keep fucking up every chance I get, don’t I?” the redhead angrily muttered to herself.

“I’ll not mince words: that wasn’t a good showing, Asuka. I’ll also admit that the scenario I pitted against the three of you wasn’t at all fair, but I was expecting a much better performance than what I saw, anyway,” a familiar voice responded to her rhetorical question. “All that said, though, it’s not just a ‘you’ problem. I’m sure you already noticed?”

And Asuka blinked herself back to attention, having managed to forget that Misato was in the room with her, probably because the older woman had barely said a word ever since they had entered. She had been content to grab a chair for herself and stoically watch over Shinji’s sleeping form, instead.

And watch her too, apparently, considering that she had caught her self-deprecating mumbling. Granted, Misato had also completely misunderstood her meaning but, with a sigh, Asuka realised that her last line was still every bit as accurate when spoken in regards to her EVA career.

“…Yeah,” the redhead quietly replied after giving Misato’s question a second’s thought. “We were running around like headless chickens.”

“Yes, you were. And while I understood and agreed with what you yourself were trying to do during the fight, the fact remains that you never let your two teammates in on it.”

“…I know.”

“Then you should start thinking about trying to remedy that,” the Major softly, but meaningfully, chastised. “As it stands, you are now at the head of the Pilot corps, Asuka, in both capacity and training. Any future team cohesion efforts live or die with you.”

“So now I’m a model to follow?” the Second Child raised a suspicious eyebrow. “Is that what you mean?”

“All I’m saying is that it’s a leader’s duty to lead, be it by example or in some other manner.”

“I don’t recall you ever burdening Shinji with any of that,” Asuka scoffed, her gaze steeling slightly.

Misato recoiled back slightly and threw a surprised look at the redhead for a moment, her mouth starting to form the beginning of a reply before she cut herself short.

“...And you’re completely right,” the older woman accepted, wincing from the accusation. “I was... worried that he could crack under the pressure that would come from a strictly professional chain of command, I suppose. Although I can think of one other person who wouldn’t have taken nicely to such an approach, too.”

The Second Child crossed her arms and looked away from the Major’s meaningful look with another, softer scoff. Admittedly, Misato was completely correct as well on her latter reasoning, considering that Asuka had ended up getting angry over Shinji giving his opinion not that long ago, even when she had been making an active effort not to. Translating such a situation to a hypothetical in which Shinji was team leader and expected to be followed as such... wouldn’t have been pretty on Asuka’s side of things, to say the least.

“But that’s a moot point now,” Misato continued. “The fact remains that the Angels are getting more and more dangerous each time and that a laissez-faire approach to the organisation of the Pilot corps is not going to cut it anymore. We’ll need to adapt, and sooner rather than later,” her eyes travelled to the sleeping young man, her voice turning mournful. “…I don’t want any more of you to end up like Shinji-kun, or worse.”

Asuka felt a pang of jealousy strike her heart at the sight of the grief-stricken Misato, but she quickly and mercilessly squashed the sensation and forced it to the back of her mind. That was not the time to question what Misato’s expression would have been had the places of the two Children been reversed and, besides, her roommate had been undeniably happy to see that she was doing fine before, too.

For a measure of ‘fine’, anyway.

Asuka’s feeling of inadequacy then steadily transformed into one of sadness, watching her normally optimistic and happy guardian on the verge of breaking down in tears. But what made it worse, was knowing that she had words at hand that could make the older woman feel much better: she so badly wanted to tell Misato that Shinji was alive, and that he had somehow ended up taking residence within her mind. That they had been arguing back and forth just like a few weeks ago, and that the Third Child had apparently managed to grow something resembling a spine in the process, to boot (much to Asuka’s chagrin).

But the Second Child could not bring herself to speak, no matter how much she wanted to let Misato know, and her misgivings weren’t born out of a fear of being doubted, either. After all, and regardless of the few seconds of weird staring she would probably garner, if there were two people in the world right now that Asuka could trust to not immediately believe that she was crazy the very moment she finished explaining herself, those were probably Misato and Hikari.

But there was nothing Hikari could do in this situation, and approaching Misato for something like that came with one, small problem, Asuka realised with a sigh.

‘Awesome. The first time in your life that you even consider confiding in Misato, and you can’t do it because she has a microphone strapped to her neck. One that will likely get you kicked out of the EVA Program faster than you can say ‘Stupid Shinji’, at that.’

And when it came to choosing between her EVA and anything else, Asuka wasn’t at all surprised to find out what her immediate choice was.

There was a very distinct lack of pride in her decision, though.

“Chin up, Asuka” Misato suddenly spoke in a comforting tone, sensing the redhead’s distress but misunderstanding the reason, once again. “You’ll do better next time.”

“…Right. If an Angel attacks today there won’t be a next time,” the redhead rolled with the punches and grumbled back, earning herself a frown from Misato. “Humanity is doomed without Invincible Shinji-sama to save us.”

“You know that Shinji didn’t get most of his kills by himself, Asuka. Not whenever he was in control, anyway. But even then, it’s undeniable that without him we’re missing a big part of our punch.” The Major admitted with a sigh. But when she continued, a small and ill-meaning smile had made its way to her lips. “That’s why I’m going to be working the three of you really hard straight away, starting tonight.”

“…You’re not chaining us to the sims all night, are you?” Asuka warily questioned after a short pause.

“Of course not!” Misato replied back in a tone that was far from comforting. “That would be counterproductive!”

Reassurances aside, however, the Major’s expression was anything but encouraging.

“I know that smile,” Asuka lamented as she closed her eyes. “It’s going to be something embarrassing again, isn’t it?”

“Well... Preparations are underway, so you’ll find out soon enough~”

“...Gee, I can’t wait.”

Asuka rolled her eyes at Misato’s cryptic smirk, and, for a few minutes, both women fell into what could have been taken as a comfortable silence, each immersed into their own thoughts and only briefly breaking off from said reflections on the surprisingly frequent times in which their eyes met, more often than not over the sleeping body of the room’s main occupant. By the fourth time that such an exchange had happened, however, the up until then pleasant silence had turned into an awkward one, full of questions and admissions that neither of the two knew how to tackle. Funny, considering that they had shared the closest and most touching few seconds in all of their history not three hours ago.

‘For fuck’s sake… I keep putting my foot in my mouth, Wondergirl takes to giving life advice and now Misato of all people is acting awkward!’ Asuka inwardly moaned, narrowing her eyes at the sleeping Third Child. ‘Gott in Himmel, this is so annoying! And it’s all your fault, Stupid-’

“Oh! By the way,” Misato spoke all of a sudden, breaking the redhead out of her trance. “Did something happen between you and Rei?”


“You didn’t look at her once during the debriefing. And I know that your relationship isn’t stellar to begin with, but…” the older woman trailed off with a shrug. “I guess it looked worse than usual.”

Asuka blinked, not at all aware that she’d done something like that, although she stopped thinking it strange after a moment’s contemplation. After all, she had been plenty busy arguing with Shinji during the debriefing, far too much to put attention towards her immediate surroundings. Her subsequent fuckup hadn’t helped matters, either.

‘Not that the First wasn’t acting incredibly out of character before the mission, herself. Seriously, what was up with all the staring?’ Asuka thought to herself, mind going back to the moment in question and failing to keep a frown from appearing on her face. ‘…In any case, I guess that could be as good an excuse as any.’

“It’s nothing. Just that the First kept looking at me like I’d grown a second head before we climbed into our EVAs, for some reason,” Asuka explained offhandedly before focusing back on Shinji. “It was creepy and I guess it stuck, but it’s no big deal, really. Just Wondergirl being her typical, weird self.”

Misato considered the girl’s response for a few moments, before considering it possible enough with a mental shrug.

“I see. Then if it’s not Rei, what is it that’s got you thinking so hard?” the Major continued, before the tone of her voice shifted from the professional soldier Asuka rarely heard to the professional slob she heard all too often. “It’s not about what the new girl said, is it?”

“What she said?” Asuka echoed, raising an eyebrow.

“Makinami, I mean,” Misato smirked as she elaborated, reclining in her seat and turning her eyes towards the ceiling. “You know, the whole ‘Princess Charming’ deal? It sure felt like I’d missed something.”


“I’m just saying, there’s nothing wrong with it,” the unwinding woman continued, oblivious to Asuka’s reaction to her previous words. “It’s completely normal for a teenage boy and a teenage girl that spend a lot of time together for-”

“Misato,” the Second Child abruptly growled. “Shut up.”

And Misato Katsuragi found herself quickly complying with the request, sitting straight up just a moment later. Just as swiftly, the smile that had adorned her face also fell. There was a strange expression on Asuka’s face, far from the innocent embarrassment that she had been aiming for, like so many times before, something further amplified by the cold and strange edge that had been contained within the girl’s words.

Her quick wit now succeeding where it had just failed, Misato rapidly realised her folly: rather than easing the awkwardness with a harmless joke, she had only succeeded in making it even more miserable.

“…Sorry. Low hanging fruit, temptations and all that,” the older woman promptly apologised, looking entirely like she fully meant every single word. “I… probably shouldn’t have opened my big mouth. I mean, I know this is a touchy subject for you, and I still go and try to lighten the mood with it. What an idiot I am.”

“…Who said it was a touchy subject?” the Second Child glared back. “You’re making it sound as if I like the idiot.”

But rather than responding, Misato merely stared at her, long and deliberate. A look that lacked any sort of ill will whatsoever, but one that Asuka quickly found she couldn’t match, anyway.

“And that’s fine if you don’t,” her roommate ultimately replied, before her expression turned fairly serious. She also looked quite uncomfortable, all of a sudden. “But, in any case, and completely unrelated to that possibility, can I… give you a bit of advice, Asuka?”

The Second Child’s brow creased, quickly identifying that whatever she was going to say next, Misato definitely looked a fair bit hesitant about it. A fact that didn’t exactly put the redhead at ease, either.

‘So not just Wondergirl but now Misato, too? This is a week of firsts, isn’t it?’

“Alright,” Asuka allowed with a sigh, “What is it?”

“Never… deny your feelings,” Misato declared, the unexpected gravity behind her tone and message stunning the redhead into silence. “It might be scary, it might be daunting, but should you ever find yourself attracted to a special someone, just… don’t let opportunity pass you by, Asuka, now or in the future.

“Many a time it won’t work out. Some others it will work out only to break apart years later. And after many a failure you might find yourself regretting the fact that you even tried, but…”

Misato drew in a deep breath and closed her eyes, taking a moment to think of how to best put her meaning into words. A moment in which Asuka noticed the older woman’s hand travel to hover over her heart, apparently without her own notice.

“But I can assure you: whatever pain, whatever regret you might get out of reaching out to another, will be nothing compared to the regret that you will live with if you’re ever too afraid to take hold of what you hold dear until it is too late.”


The Second Child didn’t need even a fraction of her genius to know who Misato was referencing with her last line:

Kaji was dead. Asuka would never forget the day on which Shinji had let her know and what she had felt at that time, the overwhelming heartache that had appeared impossible to endure, back then.

But what the woman before her had suffered had been a thousand times worse, and continued to be, even. Watching Misato Katsuragi, NERV’s Head of Operations, barely manage to hold back tears was all the confirmation Asuka required to realise that.


“Promise me, Asuka: we will get through this war. And when we do, I want you to grab the reins of your life,” Misato continued, her eyes opening and giving way to twin pools of conviction. “No matter what that may mean to you, I want you and Shinji and Rei to be happy. No regrets allowed, alright?”

And it was so that the Second Child found herself at a loss for words, once more. However, the frustration that usually came in hand with the ever increasing frequency at which she was going mute took a backseat in deference of a deeper contemplation of what Misato had just said:

After all, what was ‘happiness’ supposed to mean for Asuka Langley-Sohryu? For most of her life, the answer to that question had been to pilot EVA, but was such a response something that Asuka could rely on until the day she died?

The redhead was a bit ashamed to realise that she had never given such a silly but important question any further thought than that. After all, the Second Child wasn’t naïve enough to believe that the war would last forever, and so did Misato appear to believe, as well. So when the last of the Angels was dead and there was no more need for a cripplingly expensive defence against them, what would become of the Evangelions, then?

What would become of their Pilots? Of the Second Child, when the world had no more need for such a person?

Asuka didn’t yet know the answer to that question, and she suspected that it would remain so for a long time to come. But, perhaps, it was time to start considering it.

“I…” the redhead swallowed, barely managing to choke out the words. “I’ll try to.”

“Thank you, Asuka,” Misato replied with a small smile, before her eyes travelled back to the sleeping Third Child. They shone a little bit more than usual, now. “…And yeah, I hope you’re ready for a lot of trying. He’s… not the brightest on matters of the heart, I think.”

“…Tell me about it.” Asuka grumbled before she could stop herself.

“What was that~?”

And the Second Child thus jumped slightly in her seat, having forgotten just how good Misato’s hearing could be when she was actually paying attention. Crossing her arms, the young woman looked away with a huff, her lips making a small pout.


To which the Major only smiled, wider and more heartily than she had done in a while.

“Well, look at us, being all serious. So serious, so serious! I think that’s about as much serious talk as I can stomach for today, don’t you agree?” Misato asked in between chuckles, seamlessly managing to transition back to her usual self. The older woman’s mirth was contagious, though, and Asuka was about to join in her laughing when Misato’s phone rang and she checked it in a hurry.

The knowing smirk that came upon the Major’s expression promptly took all traces of humour out of Asuka’s system.

“Heh, talk about timely! Preparations for the start of your training just completed!”

“Oh, joy of joys...” the redhead sighed, giving a last glance at the room’s sleeping occupant before standing up from her seat. “...Alright, let’s just get this over with.”

“Oh, come on, Asuka-chan!” Misato jokingly intoned, quickly moving beside her. “Aren’t you even the slightest bit curious about what it will entail?”

“Will you never call me that again if I ask you?”

The older of the two women replied to the redhead’s pointed stare with another teasing smile and a wink.


Her constant joking aside, though, it would have been clear as day to anyone with a pair of functioning eyes that Misato was putting on a brave face and barely succeeding at it. Asuka was one of such people.

She would happily take Misato’s horrible humour and teasing attempts over watching her mope, though.

‘Goddamn you, Stupid Shinji. If you don’t hurry up and wake up already, I swear I’ll practice lucid dreaming and find some way of putting you back where you belong myself.’

“…Fine. What’s your plan, Misato?”

And with the sigh of defeat that signified the Second Child’s agreement, Misato Katsuragi leant down to whisper in the ear of Asuka Langley-Sohryu.

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

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

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:55 am

Another Sunday means another update, and with this one we've broken 100k words of An insider's Look! Let's see if I can suceed at having things more or less wrapped up for our characters in another a hundred thousand, or so. :tongue:

But in the meantime, enjoy! ^_^

Chapter 10-3  SPOILER: Show
“Until the three of you learn to work as a unified team, you will be living together in the same apartment. You will sleep, train, eat, bathe and carry out all other elements of your daily routine together, and since there are no boys in the arrangement to be mindful of this time, there will be no exceptions to the above.” Misato complemented her ominous explanation to the three girls with a smirk and a gesture towards the redheaded pilot of Unit-02. “As some of you are aware of, Asuka is already familiar with parts of the regime. She’ll walk you through the hoops.”

Standing side by side in front of the entrance of what would soon become their new abode, the three active members of the Evangelion Pilot corps received their new orders with varied degrees of enthusiasm: on the far left, Mari Makinami kept her usual and nonchalant smile on her face, apparently not at all bothered by the words that reached her ears. Right beside her, Rei Ayanami maintained an unflappable expression throughout the entire explanation, only blinking twice in quick succession in what perhaps could have been taken as an uncharacteristic show of surprise.

Meanwhile, on the far right, the Second Child responded to the mention of her name with a very distinctive scalding glare that could have pierced through an AT-Field…

“…I hate you.”

…but that had little to no effect on Misato Katsuragi.

“There, there,” the older woman shooed Asuka’s words away before falling back on her military professionalism. “The inspiration for this initiative aimed to achieve a complete synchronisation in both thought and actions between two people, but we have no need to go that far in this iteration. As such, you’ll be happy to know that you won’t be required to wear matching outfits during your stay together…”

“Thank God.”



“Should the results of your cohabitation prove lacking, we will take whatever measures are considered appropriate to improve on them, sticking to tried and true methods first, like the ones used against the Seventh Angel,” Misato continued, her military discipline unfaltering even in the face of the now quickly paling Second Child. “After all, and while we don’t want to enforce any changes that would result in undue stress for the three of you, we also don’t want the next Angel to defeat you, either. You get one pick to figure out which one of those two options is more important.”

“B-B-But Misato! Don’t you remember those... things?!” the redhead quickly protested, loudly stomping her foot against the floor. “They were horrible! A nuclear attack against fashion! There has to be some sort of law against making anyone wear something that humiliating!”

“…The costumes were rather tasteless,” the First Child agreed with a hint of disapproval, much to the surprise of most present.

Not that the shock stopped Asuka from trying to make the most out of the unexpected situation.

“See?” the redhead quickly motioned towards Rei. “Even Wondergirl agrees with me!”

“Eh, I thought they were kinda cool.”

Three pairs of eyes promptly homed in on the one person who had spoken the last words, ranging from curious to outright aghast. To no one’s surprise, much less Asuka’s, Mari had been the last one to voice her opinion, although the Second Child wasn’t certain on what was more disappointing about the scene before her: the fact that Mari had just killed her momentum flat, or the fact that the Fifth Child truly seemed to find the... thing that Asuka had been forced to wear a few months ago appealing.

“…Wow, you’ve got some shit taste,” the redhead tiredly brought a hand to the bridge of her nose after a fair few seconds of silent contemplation. And a moment later, something occurred to her. “…Wait, how would you even know how they looked? You weren’t here for that!”

“I read the reports,” the twin-tailed girl explained with a shrug, sending a look the Major’s way. “There were a few pictures of you and the Third in matching outfits, there. I think you were playing Twister?”

And like a raging hurricane, Asuka immediately turned her livid attention towards her former roommate.

“You saved those?!”

“Yes, I did. That’s the sort of detail that goes into after-action reports, Asuka, and you’re fully aware of it,” the Major responded, not managing to resist the urge to roll her eyes. “You also know that no one without the proper clearance can get access to those files, so will you stop it with the overreactions, now?”

“…I don’t know,” the redhead angrily pouted, narrowing her eyes. “Do I get an actual choice, this time?”

“Not really. You’re doing this whether you like it or not, so you better get used to the idea,” Misato replied, parrying the Second Child’s heated gaze with a meaningful look of her own. “You should try hard and get along if you don’t want to end up wearing the worst case scenario.”

Misato then walked past the three girls and produced a single keycard, which she used to open the room’s door and push it open. Turning back around, the Major motioned to the First Child next and handed the keycard to her.

“I’m designating Rei as your apartment’s gatekeeper. She will hold the key and, like everything else, the three of you will share it whenever you need to leave your quarters. There are several other copies to be used in case of emergency, but the ones you should be aware of are with me, with Doctor Akagi, and with the Section-2 detachment that will be keeping guard outside your door.”

“And why does Wondergirl get to keep the key?” Asuka quickly protested.

“Because she’s the one I can completely trust not to bend the rules, at the moment,” Misato offhandedly shot the redhead down, entering the apartment and motioning for the three girls to follow. “But for now, let’s go inside. I’ll give you three a tour of the place and let you know where your personal possessions are.”

With a quiet nod, Rei pocketed the keycard within her uniform and followed the Major in, Mari going in second after taking a moment to send a bright smile Asuka’s way. A gesture that went largely ignored and that was answered with a glare that could have melted mountains.

One that proved just as ineffective as the first of its kind had been.

“‘It would be counterproductive’, my ass...” the Second Child quietly fumed as everyone else passed over the threshold, resignedly starting to put one foot in front of the other. “And just when I was getting used to the idea of living on my own, too…”

The tour itself was short and to the point, just a few minutes long before Major Katsuragi rushed off to handle some of her other obligations, which was a somewhat surprising achievement considering that the apartment could have easily been two or three times larger than the one Asuka had been using until then. It had all the necessary essentials, with a spacious and well-furnished living room, a fully functional kitchen and a big bathroom with a trio of side-by-side showers, set up similarly to those in the locker rooms.

It was in that last area of the apartment where Asuka noticed the First Child briefly stop the surreptitious glances that she had been throwing in her direction all day long, to look at the lined up showers with something that could have been taken as disappointment. Apparently, the bluenette was a fan of soaking in the bath.

Not that Asuka could call her out on that. The Second Child would also miss one of the only things she genuinely liked about Japan, herself.

The tour continued with their guide showing them to three separate and more private rooms that each Pilot could use to store their things, although Misato had been quick to remind them of how they would all be sleeping together in the living room. To hammer the point home, the rooms themselves were completely bereft of beds, making them look oddly desolate and leaving only a few futons to be carried to the main room when night-time came.

‘Goodbye, my dearest bed, how I’ll miss you,’ Asuka grimly thought at the prospect of sleeping on the floor again. ‘I can’t wait to use those stupid portable mats the Japanese like so much...’

A few reminders of conduct, obligations and incoming tests later, and Misato left the trio to their own devices for the rest of the day; hinting at, but not outright stating, that their special brand of training had already begun.

And so did the Second Child rue her situation for the umpteenth time that hour, stuck in permanent close proximity to two of the people she wanted to see the least, at the time.

“So… what now?” Makinami asked, when the three girls had spent a few seconds staring at the closed door without a word. “We’ve still got some time until dinner, so do you girls want to do something?”

Mari’s query was met with complete silence, Rei complementing the quietude with a blank look that clearly exemplified her intentions to be reactive, rather than lead the pack. Asuka, for her part, dove into her room with an irritated sigh and came out with the trusty Famicom a few moments later, before proceeding to plug it into the TV under the watchful eye of her two newly appointed roommates. Making short work of the setup, the redhead then looked into the bag of games and picked up Dragon Quest once again, fully intending to relieve a fair bit of pent up stress and frustration by annihilating the pixel armies of the evil Dragonlord with magic and sword both. Grabbing a cushion to sit on, Asuka reached for the power button when...

“Wait,” Mari suddenly interrupted, grabbing a controller for herself and fishing for a different game. “Gotta do this together, right?”

For a brief moment, Asuka considered answering Mari’s rhetorical question with a resounding ‘NO!’, but the impulse died in her mouth when the redhead felt Rei step closer to them both. The rules Misato had laid down were what they were, much to Asuka’s chagrin, and since she was going to have the goody-two-shoes of the First Child constantly looking over her shoulder, trying to waive them even a little was probably not going to be in the cards.

“…Fine. Whatever.” Asuka relented, moodily resting her chin on her hand and throwing the cartridge back in the bag with a fair bit more force than entirely necessary. “Just make sure it’s something good.”

“By your command! Let’s see here…” Mari redoubled her efforts after a brief and goofy military salute, digging through the plastic squares like a dog searching for a buried bone. In a similar manner, the twin-tailed girl was overly excited when she finally found something that caught her interest. “Oh! Double Dragon! Does that title sound cool or what?!”

“Who cares about the stupid title? Just plug the damn thing so we can start playing, already.”

“Yes, yes, I’m on it,” Mari replied in her ever-present good cheer, annoying the redhead some more. “Our Princess is so demanding…”

But true to her words, Mari inserted the cartridge and powered up the console in two fluid motions, grabbing another cushion for herself and offering a third one to the First Child. The bluenette accepted it with a grateful nod, although since the Famicom lacked the option to plug in a third controller, Rei opted for sitting a little bit further back from the other two, looking at the proceedings with an air of intrigue.

Without much fanfare, Asuka breezed through the game’s starting sequence with only a brief pause to select the two player mode, and a second one to raise an eyebrow at the game’s effort to designate the bad guys.

‘Did that guy just sucker punch her in the stomach…?’ the Second Child wondered, before a stray thought soured her mood when the two player characters made their appearance. ‘Oh well, gotta save the girl, I guess. Tch, talk about a game Invincible Shinji would feel right at home playing.’

A final thought that resonated with how simple Double Dragon’s entire premise was: beating the snot out of waves of enemies as the leading pair made their way through a dilapidated town. The fact that it was a cooperative effort made Asuka feel somewhat bitter about the fact that she wasn’t going to get a chance to vent her frustrations on Mari’s character, though, frustrations that only mounted when the Fifth Child took to humming in tune to the game’s repetitive (albeit surprisingly catchy) soundtrack. In any case, it wasn’t long before said grievances took a backseat to the Second Child’s competitive spirit burning brighter than she had initially intended to, her own controller never leaving her hands as Makinami and Wondergirl swapped the other one whenever one of the two bit the dust.

Nevertheless, and despite the clear superiority on display, Asuka’s bad mood was still apparent, with witty and disparaging remarks following each controller swap and a fair bit of unnecessary force being visited upon her own controller each and every time the redhead’s own actions weren’t rewarded with perfection, which ultimately prompted the three sided clash to come to a stop when Mari pressed the PAUSE button in her controller, turning to the redhead on her left with a serious look.

“Okay, Princess: what are you so angry about?”

Gripping the controller tighter, the Second Child scowled in the direction of the one who had dared to interrupt her fun. “What do you think?” she added, when her stare alone proved wanting to convey her message.

“You’re still hung up on that?” the Fifth Child sighed in response, gingerly placing her controller on the floor. “I mean, I’ll admit that maybe I did take the last joke during the synch-tests a bit too far. But even then, it’s just that: a joke. Whatever happened to learning to take those?”

“Your one ‘joke’ stops being funny when it’s always about trying to link me to that idiot!”

Asuka’s protest was punctuated by the second controller being hammered into the floor, the girl’s glaring evolving into a full-blown snarl. A reaction that merely garnered a raised eyebrow from her newly-appointed teammate, not at all fazed by the Second Child’s destructive tendencies.

Try to? I don’t have to try to. Here’s a bit of a newsflash, darling: if you were any more obvious about your crush, there would be neon signs advertising it all over town,” Mari shot back with a chuckle, shaking her head in amusement. A gesture that left her blind to the way the Second Child recoiled at her words. “Not that there’s anything at all wrong with that, you know? It’s perfectly human to be attracted to someone else. I mean, you even got the first confirmation about which side you-”

And it was so that Mari Makinami was caught off-guard, and barely managed to grab hold of the Beast’s hands before they arrived at whatever soft part of her body the Second Child had intended to crush.

“Oh, come on!” Mari groaned, struggling to keep the angered redhead at bay from the disadvantageous position she had earned for herself. “Are we seriously doing this [i]again[/i]?!”

“Whatever it takes for you to SHUT. YOUR. MOUTH!”

Pushing forward with each of her enraged words, Asuka managed to gain a little bit of ground before the struggle grinded into a deadlock once more, and the two girls remained like that, with neither side proving capable of overpowering the other for a few, long moments.

And from the side, Rei Ayanami watched quietly. To her credit, the First Child had not backed away even the slightest bit at the onset of hostilities, even more remarkable considering that the heated clash was taking place less than an arm’s length distance away from her.

“Why are you fighting?” the bluenette asked instead, her cool and logical demeanour as unbreakable as ever.

“Oh, nothing much!” the Fifth Child chirped back. “Just about how Princess here has the hots for Sleeping Beauty and can’t bring herself to admit it!”

“I… see?”

“Don’t just believe everything the stupid four-eyes says!” Asuka angrily protested, taking a split-second to glare in Rei’s direction.

“...I have heard that expression used by some of the female students at school, before. Judging by the context of their conversation, am I correct in assuming that they, and therefore, you, were speaking about a third person’s romantic prospects?”

“You got that one absolutely right, Bluebird!

“I see,” Rei nodded with barely discernible satisfaction, before turning towards the struggling redhead with a confused look. “Then why shouldn’t the Fifth Child’s words be trusted? They fall in line with my own observations.”

And just like that, with a few well placed words, the bloodlust in Asuka’s eyes faded and left way for disbelieving shock to take residence.


A reaction that was mirrored to a slightly lesser degree by the young woman that Asuka had just tried to assault.

“Okaay,” Mari blinked, taking advantage of the sudden lack of force against her hands and arms to rise back up to a more comfortable position. “I know that I talked about neon signs and all, but I didn’t really expect for you of all people to have caught on to this, Bluebird.”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Rei replied back, her eyelids milimetrically drawing together. “I am always aware of my surroundings.”

“Sorry, sorry, didn’t mean to be rude. Just caught me a bit off-guard, although I guess it makes sense for the quiet ones to be more attentive,” the twin-tailed girl apologised with a shrug, before she turned towards Asuka and tentatively let go of one of her hands. “...I fear you might have broken the Princess, though...

“Hello, Princess?” Mari called out, waving her free hand in front of the Second Child’s face. “Anybody home~?”

A hand that instinctively went to shield her own face when Asuka suddenly stood up without a word. The gesture soon proved pointless, however, because the Second Child apparently had had enough violence for the moment, deciding to cut a blazing trail out of the living room, instead. Mari and Rei, for their part, slowly moved to follow at a safe distance.

“Princess? Where are you going? You know you can’t just go away on your...” the Fifth Child began, quickly thinking of things she could say to calm the enraged redhead down. But her efforts quickly ceased when she noticed the door that Asuka had chosen to leave through. “Princess, wait!”

Shut up, I don’t want to hear it!” Asuka shouted back, opening the door and rushing inside without a care. “Forget about Misato’s stupid training! If either of you come in here, I swear I’ll make mincemeat out of you!”

“But Princess, that’s-!”

A myriad crashing sounds interrupted Mari’s words, the twin-tailed girl and the First Child beside her wincing (one far more noticeably than the other) at the unmistakable sound of valuable items breaking on hard contact with the floor.

“…a storage closet.” Mari belatedly finished when things finally seemed to settle down, opening one eye to inspect the aftermath.

Asuka’s usually pristine clothes were now soiled with dust, grime and a few spots of paint, and the same could have been said about her exposed skin and flaming hair. The Second Child’s face had not fared any better, either, or so it seemed from the parts of it that weren’t obscured by the girl’s bangs.

‘At least there wasn’t anything sharp or dangerous in there, apparently. Thank God,’ Mari thought with a mental sigh of relief.

“The people who worked on this place said that they didn’t have time to move all that stuff, and that they would get on with it tomorrow morning,” the Fifth Child explained, trying her hardest not to make direct eye contact with her new German roommate, lest the Beast awaken once again. “You... weren’t paying attention when the Major...?”

“Not. Another. Word.” The dirty redhead growled with pressed fists at her sides, heavy steps almost shaking the ground as she made her way out of her useless haven and towards the showers.

And the two other Children watched her go, Rei making a short attempt to follow Asuka before Mari caught her wrist with a very meaningful shake of her head. Understanding the Fifth Child’s appeal to common sense, the bluenette appeared to decide that the enforcement of rules could wait for one or two hours.

For their own safety, if nothing else.

“...Well, that went about as terribly as humanly possible,” Mari eventually grumbled once more when Asuka had disappeared from sight, throwing a small and somewhat weary smile in Rei’s direction. “So, which colour would you like your costume?”
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby sonichu » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:12 pm

I really enjoyed this one. Seeing Shinji's reaction to the 3 other pilots living together should also be interesting once he finds out how to talk to Asuka again.

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:47 am

A bit of an early update, since I'm going to be having a hell of a time next week and don't think I'll have an opportunity to expand on this scene before Wednesday, so I thought that there was no point in waiting until then. This is roughly half of the scene I want to write, but I'm afraid the other half will need to wait until the next time I can afford some writing time. Sorry about that. :um:

Chapter 10-4  SPOILER: Show
It was dinner time when Asuka finally emerged from her private area of the apartment, to find a spread of delicious-looking food waiting on the living room’s table. Apology food, the Second Child surmised, quickly finding that the sight made the growls of her protesting stomach, being the only reason she had come out in the first place, almost unbearable to suffer.

“Oh, Princess!” Mari promptly exclaimed when she spotted her, tucking a slightly dirty apron into the washing machine. “You’re out!”

Rei also stopped setting up the table just enough to send a curious look the redhead’s way, the sudden attention of the two Pilots who had been just about to sit down and enjoy the day’s last meal making Asuka feel tempted to grab a snack from the fridge and retreat back into seclusion. Ultimately, though, that idea fell through when the much bigger temptation on sight compelled Asuka to take her seat at the table, much to Mari’s undisguised joy.

“Looks like someone’s hungry~,” the Fifth Child sang, walking over and sitting on the chair to Asuka’s right. A few moments later Rei joined the duo, completing the triangle at the table. “Right, we’re all set now! How’s that thing that you guys say at the table? ‘Thanks for the food’?”

Having already started picking at their food, none of the two other Pilots proved interested in responding to Mari’s question (much to the girl’s dismay), a state of affairs that carried over throughout the entire dinner in spite of the Fifth Child’s ill-received attempts to strike a conversation among the trio. Other, subtler communication did take place in its stead, however, as the Second Child furtively hunted for clues that would let her know about the evening’s happenings. Clues that Asuka, surprisingly enough, found when she looked at the First Child’s fingers, for a few of the girl’s fingertips were now covered in carefully-wrapped bandages.

Bandages which were clear on their message: Rei had been assisting with the cooking. And while it was also fairly clear that the bluenette had done no favours to her own hands while at it and that Mari had probably done the elephant’s share of the work, that small scrap of knowledge sent another, different message straight into Asuka’s mind.

‘They’re really trying to make this whole thing work, aren’t they…?’ the Second Child assumed, correctly guessing that the First and Fifth Children had stuck to the principles of their ‘training’ even in her own absence.

Which was already more than she, Asuka Langley-Sohryu, had done. And she had even told Misato that she would try and become a good leader for the Pilot corps a scant few hours ago, too! And yet, she had managed to fail miserably in the face of the very first hurdle that had been thrown her way.

‘How very you, Asuka.’

That last thought echoing within her mind for a short while, the Second Child snapped back into awareness when her fork struck an empty plate. Blinking, the redhead noticed that she had apparently managed to devour the entire serving while completely out of it, and was further surprised when Rei took the now empty plate and useless fork out of her hands and made her way towards the sink. Mari followed with a quip about ‘Bluebird leading the way’, grabbing a few handfuls of the dinnerware and picking a spot for herself next to Rei.

And Asuka watched them work, noticing before long that neither of the two girls had completely cleaned off the table. A few plates, glasses and knives remained behind, consisting of roughly a third of the original spread that the Second Child had seen on her arrival.

‘...Damn, I knew that Wondergirl couldn’t do subtle if her life depended on it, but I expected Glasses to be a bit better at it,’ Asuka thought with a sigh, narrowing her eyes at the defenceless dinnerware. ‘Still, there’s really no getting out of this one, is it? You don’t want to wear that stupid thing, and you also know that Misato will show no mercy, Asuka. Goes without saying that she’ll also be disappointed if you fail to see this through...’

A heavier, deeper sigh escaped her and, before she knew it, the Second Child had stood up and joined her peers at the sink, remaining plates and glasses in hand. Neither Mari nor Rei made any mention of her actions, however, the trio working as a well-oiled washing, drying and placing machine within a few seconds of Asuka joining them.

Before long all the washing up was finished and, while the Fifth Child had half-expected her redheaded teammate to storm out towards her private room the very moment the group had finished their first joint effort, Asuka surprised her by burying her head in her arms and resting against the table, instead. She remained as such for a few minutes, not moving in the slightest except for the steady rise and fall of her breathing, the other two Pilots sharing a brief look and joining her at the table at Mari’s behest.

“...Fine, I like the moron. And it makes as little sense to me as it does to anyone else in this stupid world,” Asuka suddenly admitted out of nowhere, to the mild shock of everyone present. “Are you going to get off my case about it now?”

“Huh. I didn’t actually expect you to go out and say it, Princess. Congratulations.”

“What’s the point in hiding it anymore? Misato knows, you know, even Wondergirl has figured it out and because someoneI could mention didn’t keep their mouth shut, half the base has probably put two and two together by now,” Asuka replied with a soft growl. “I can hear them laughing behind my back, already...”

“Come on, dramatic much? And I already apologised for that joke!” Mari protested with a slight roll of her eyes. “Do you always rake people over the coals this much, Princess?”

“Only those who deserve it."

“Which is basically anyone, I’d guess?” the Fifth Child lightly taunted back, satisfied when the redhead’s eyes narrowed in annoyance. “In any case, I’ll cut it with the jokes if you want, but since the topic has already come up I… sooort of want to talk about Shinji Ikari, now.”

“Why?” Rei’s inquisitive question came from the other side.

“Why not? I mean, come on,” Mari leaned over the table, putting a sweet smile and resting her head on her hands. “I’ve learned about the famous Third Child from word of mouth and some reports, but I’m curious as to what makes him such a big deal. How can I let go of the chance to speak about the man with the two people that he worked the closest with?”

“And what’s it to you what Shinji’s like?” Asuka grumped back, crossing her arms and leaning backwards against her chair the entire distance Mari had covered. The Fifth Child merely smiled wider.

“Call it gossip. After all, what girl wouldn’t be curious?” Mari then stood up from her seat and walked over towards Rei before throwing her arms around the bluenette from behind, much to the First Child’s surprise. “This unassuming young man managed to charm the spitfire Second Child, and even Ice Queen Ayanami warms up a little when she talks about him. I can tell!”

Curling into herself as much as she could as a defence against the unfamiliar, Rei tried her best to hide the reactions that confirmed each and every one of the Fifth Child’s words. Despite her efforts, though, the contrast between the soft blush on her cheeks and the girl’s pale skin was impossible to miss.

“...Please let go.”

“Ha ha, knew it!” Mari cheered as she completely disregarded her captive’s words and held on to her even tighter. “And I’ll let you go in a while. Maybe. Did you know that you’re very huggable, Bluebird?”

Rei’s response to the query was a nondescript moan and an acceptance of the fuzzy feelings the Fifth Child’s embrace undoubtedly brought out within her. Either that, or the blue haired girl had quickly and sensibly given up on her vain attempts at escape for the time. Either option was fine with Mari, really.

“...The hell are you doing, you pervert?”

Not so much with Asuka, judging by her disbelieving tone.

“Nuzzling against one of my two cute teammates?” the twin-tailed girl cheekily replied, continuing to do just that. “Or is the Princess jealous? I’ve got arms for two people, you know?”

“As if!” Asuka promptly shot back, pushing her seat backwards a step to hammer her point home. “Why don’t you leave the both of us alone and go cuddle up with Aida, instead?!”

“Aida?” Mari blinked, quickly putting a face to the name. “Oh, you mean the guy at the batting cages?”

“Yeah! The one that nearly had a heart attack when you kissed him on the cheek!” the Second Child jeered, jumping at the chance to get some of the attention off of Shinji, and by association, herself. “An idiot for an idiot, you’d make such a cute couple!”

“Hmm...” Mari went silent at the redhead’s taunting words, a thoughtful look coming to her face. “He might not be much to look at right now, but take off the dorky glasses and give him a few years and he’ll probably be above average. I wouldn’t mind him, actually.”


“Why not? It’s a possibility like any other. Or that’s what I would say if I didn’t have other, more important stuff to worry about, anyway,” Mari shrugged nonchalantly at Asuka’s deadpan stare, following that with a smile. “Maybe in another life?”
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:37 am

I bring another short update today, one that sadly doesn't quite manage to finish the current scene, either. This schoolyear isn't being generous on the out of work obligations so far, I'm afraid. Essentially, I've been hit with job training for my Wednesday afternoons these past two weeks and all through November, which kinda sucks because Wednesday is usually the day outside of weekends that I can devote to writing. This month is quite likely not going to be the best for updates because of that. And neither will the first half of December, due to evaluations and gradings. :uhh:

I'll try to show some signs of life, though, even if I'm barely having the time to sit down and think about how I want the dialogues and scenes to flow these days. Hopefully they won't suffer too much because of that, so look forward to it.

In any case, enjoy. Here's to the third time being the charm for this one scene. ^_^

Chapter 10-5  SPOILER: Show
“Why not? It’s a possibility like any other. Or that’s what I would say if I didn’t have other, more important stuff to worry about, anyway,” Mari shrugged nonchalantly at Asuka’s deadpan stare, following that with a smile. “Maybe in another life?

“And it’s not like you’re one to talk, Princess,” the twin-tailed girl continued, her lips curving even further into a smirk. “I mean, Sleeping Beauty has a bit of a girly thing going for him, but he’s kind of physically unremarkable outside of that, right now. Didn’t stop a certain someone from falling head over heels for him, though~”

“It’s not like that. I said that I had a stupid teenage crush on him, sure, but don’t go claiming anything more.”

“...And our Princess keeps on being stubborn. I really thought there was a glimmer of hope back there.” Mari sighed, before letting go of her blue-haired captive to sit back on her chair. She then focused the entirety of her attention on Asuka once again, hands supporting her head over the table as a teasing smile never left the Fifth Child’s face. “So, since you have admitted to liking the guy already, answer me this now: have you two kissed yet?”


“Oooh~, that’s a ‘Yes’ if I ever saw one!” Mari giggled, pressing the offensive against the suddenly flustered redhead. “Tell me, tell me: do the Third Child’s well-known talents translate to anything else? How did it go?”

Expression akin to a deer’s caught in the headlights, Asuka sat frozen in her chair for a few, long seconds, the blush that had appeared in her cheeks at the sudden question quickly gaining in intensity and spreading around until it looked as if her red mane had grown to cover every last bit of her face. Just as swiftly, the Second Child tried to hide this development by hunkering down behind her arms and, for a moment, Mari thought that Asuka would just clamp down and go silent again.

But the Second Child surprised her by allowing a disappointed sigh that spoke volumes in and of itself to escape her fort, followed by an actual response to her query.


“Ouch, that’s a shame,” Mari gently reassured the crestfallen redhead, resisting the urge to reach forward and pat her head. “But don’t let it get you down, take it as a learning experience for when he wakes up! You could even put your Princess Charming talents to the test until he does! I won’t tell anyone!”

“Will you ever shut up about that?” Asuka growled back, emerging just enough to glare at the annoying Fifth Child.

“Maybe when you gather up the courage to try a second time,” Mari grinned, then shifting her eyes towards Rei. “And how about you, Bluebird? What do you like about the famous Third Child?”

“Me...?” the bluenette replied with a puzzled look, inching just slightly backwards so as to ward off against the possibility of a second attempt on her personal space. A valiant strategy that was mercilessly countered when Mari began advancing forward so that she was always at arm’s reach, and one that Rei was forced to abandon when her own chair softly clacked against Asuka’s and the Second Child stared at her with a mixture of curiosity and irritation.

“I don’t see any other infinitely huggable blue-haired girls hanging around here, so yeah, I guess that’d be you,” Mari confirmed, throwing a Cheshire smile at her trapped prey. “Out with it!”

Squirming just the slightest bit at the situation she now found herself in, the First Child’s usual stoic expression faltered under the unexpected inquiry, eyes dancing here and there as the rosy tinge found its way to her cheeks for a second time in too few minutes. And to make matters even worse, the bluenette noticed out of the corner of her eye how Asuka took just a bit more interest into this new turn of the conversation, as well.

“I...” Rei hesitantly began, before her eyes suddenly hardened and she made to stand up... “I don’t see how that line of questioning has anything to do with our training.”

...At least, until a hand on her wrist stopped the bluenette from actually rising. When she turned to look, Rei found her crimson counterpart holding onto her, eyes narrowing in her direction.

“Oh no, you’re not weaselling your way out of this one, Wondergirl. I’m not going to be the only one being embarrassed today.”

“Nice catch, Princess!” Mari cheered from the other side, only to quickly find the same sky-blue orbs stabbing into her.

“Shut up, I’m not doing this for you.”

“That’s fine, that’s fine, I understand. It’s only common sense to want to know the conditions of the battlefield before diving in, isn’t it?” the Fifth Child waved away the enmity without a concern, grinning as she inched closer to the now resigned bluenette. “So, you were saying, Rei-chan?”

The First Child watched quietly as Asuka grumped at Makinami’s latest remark and let go of her wrist as it if had been on fire, before she rested her head on the table once again and made a fairly terrible show out of trying to appear completely uncaring towards the discussion. The bluenette then contemplated how best to answer the Fifth Child’s question, seeing as it had been made more than clear already that she wasn’t going to be evading a response.

It wasn’t long until Rei found one to her liking:

“I enjoy Ikari-kun’s warmth.”

“H-His ‘warmth’?!” Asuka promptly blew her cover, eliciting a surprised blink from the First Child. “What the heck’s that supposed-?!”

“Peace, Princess. I’m sure that’s not what she meant,” Mari swiftly and effortlessly cut the redhead off, before sending a teasing smile her way. “And even if it were... well, Sleeping Beauty’s still free to do whatever he wants for the time being, you know?”

Rei thought she heard something akin to grinding teeth come out of the Second Child before she turned away with a huff and went back to her previous position, although not bothering with trying to hide her interest this time around.

The Fifth Child then turned towards Rei once again.

“So you like being around him, I take it?”

“I enjoy his company, yes,” the bluenette replied with a nod of her head. “Ikari-kun has always been kind to me in the past.”

“Enough for you to want to be around him more often?” Mari pressed, smile growing ever wider.

“...Yes,” Rei admitted, before her expression turned a bit more serious. “But that is not something that will happen.”

“Why not?” Asuka harped from behind. “Just tell him to follow and he will, it’s not like that moron knows how to do anything else.”
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:36 am

Hiya, I'm back again, although not with the usual menu, I'm afraid. I've been struggling to come up with an end to the previous scene that was to my liking (there's something about young girls discussing boys that I can't wrap my head around, apparently) and, in case it wasn't obvious, my efforts haven't really paid off with anything I feel comfortable putting out. It's gotten to the point of being kind of frustrating, so rather than keep on bashing my head against the wall until one of the two sides breaks, I've decided to go do something else until the muses of witty dialogue and compelling self-discovery decide to come back from vacation.

This piece I bring today is a bit different. It follows a random Post-3I Good Ending kind of timeline in which everything ended up basically about as well as it could have, and it stars a young student doing her best to deal with any student's worst nightmare: homework. The archetypical 'write a short essay about your family' kind of homework that most of us have had to take care of at some point in our lives, too. That's the sort of feel I was aiming for with this and I think it came out mostly alright, but since there's still quite a bit of time until I'll consider posting this on FFN, I invite you guys to freely propose anything that you believe could serve to strengthen this unconventional narrative.

In any case, enjoy! ^_^

In Three Words, Part 1  SPOILER: Show
My Daddy, Shinji Ikari:

Some people say that my daddy ended the world.

I never really understood what they meant by ‘ending the world’, though. When I go outside I see the ground under my feet, buildings all over, and a blue sky above. I hear the sound of people talking, birds chirping and the occasional car driving along the road. How could any of that be possible if the world had ‘ended’?

I guess what they meant to say (and continue to, sometimes) was that there used to be a lot more people in the world before Daddy ‘screwed up’, and that there wasn’t a red line (accross) across the moon’s path, either. But that’s fine by me. I don’t like it when there is a lot of people, and I enjoy stargazing with Daddy and Mommy when a full moon’s out. Auntie Rei joins us when she’s around town, too, and that makes it even better! So, yeah, I think the bit of red on black and white looks pretty cool, but different strokes and all that, I guess.

But that doesn’t mean that those jerks are right. After all, they wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for Daddy. They should thank him for that!

…Or that’s what Mommy likes to say from time to time, anyway, whenever she spots Daddy looking a bit down for a while. I’m not sure why, but she must have a real good reason for saying it. She’s a genius, after all! And Mommy used to say it pretty often, too, with some people looking almost ashamed right after, which doesn’t really make a lot of sense if it was some sort of lie.

Oh, and I say ‘used to’ because these days Daddy doesn’t get people talking behind his back all that much anymore, but I remember a time when I was smaller and people whispered wherever we went. It didn’t matter if it was the market, the park, or even the school playground, almost nowhere was safe from the angry comments and angry faces of the townspeople. They would say that Daddy was ‘responsible’, that things were better before the ‘Impact’, or that he should have ‘grown some balls when it mattered’.

And every time that Mommy wasn’t around to glare those jerks into being quiet (and even some times when she was), Daddy would quietly call out to me, gather me in his arms and just leave without saying a word. Said that ‘They had a right to their opinion and that it wasn’t worth fighting over’ when I asked him why, leaving me with yet another thing that I didn’t get when I was a little girl with a very Mother-influenced sense of right and wrong.

Now I understand that Daddy simply didn’t want to make things worse for us by angering the townspeople, and I guess he was right since they did eventually sort of stop bringing up the ‘end of the world’ bit. I didn’t get to play too much with other children because of it, though, so that’s probably one of the big reasons why I don’t really like to be with other kids around my age all that much.

But that’s no big deal.

Of course, back in the day I would also do my part in cheering Daddy up whenever Mommy’s usual tactics failed to do the trick: I would help him with the house chores and with maintaining our small field of crops, I would talk him into playing some instrument or another for me, or make him a nice little something whenever we did Arts & Crafts at school. I remember how he lit up when I brought him a toy bunny I had thrown together using some clay and paint, and how I…

…But I’m getting sidetracked, this isn’t supposed to be about me. Sorry, Sensei.

I think a word that describes my Dad is ‘calm’. He never loses his temper and it’s hard to find him with anything other than a contented smile on his face. He likes to keep little noise around the house and the only person I’ve ever seen him argue with is Mommy, and even then he’s like a strong wind to Mommy’s stormy typhoon. Auntie Rei, too, acts very much in the same way Daddy does, but she somehow manages to always sound even calmer. I guess it’s something that runs in the family.

The funny thing is that Mommy once told me that Daddy used to get so angry that it even scared her, and my mom is no coward. And while I believe her, I look at Dad and can’t help but break out laughing whenever I try to picture him raising his voice above stern (chastice) scolding levels of volume. It just doesn’t suit him.

In any case, I think the above also shows in the way in which Daddy decides to carry on his life: while Mom wasted no time in climbing the social ladder until she became the mayor of our town, Daddy is just happy to stay back at home and hold the fort, taking care of all the things that need to be taken care of (like me!) so that everything can be ready when an usually exhausted Mommy gets back home late in the evening. Some other kids in my class have it the other way around, with their dads going out to work and their moms staying back. Some others have both their parents working, but even if a few of my so-called classmates (childish morons, really) claim that no true man should be doing ‘woman’ tasks like cleaning the house, I think this is the arrangement that works best for our family.

After all, and considering the sort of dinner she has cooked for the two of us in the rare occasions when Daddy has gone out for the night with his friends, I can declare with no room for error whatsoever that Mommy is just plain not suited for the household life. Both my mind and my stomach are far happier knowing that Mommy’s the more (ambitius) ambitious of the two, and that Daddy won’t ever create an omelette that comes out green.

So, yeah. Like I said, Daddy is the one that takes care of the household obligations (with some help on my part!) and he takes more than a bit of pride in his work: no spot of dust is suffered to exist and no piece of furniture, be it big or small, is allowed to stand out of its designated place. These two rules are of mandatory fulfilment in the Ikari-Sohryu household and any rule-breakers do so at their own peril, as some of our more... relaxed guests quickly found out in their very first visit.

...My prayers go to you, Katsuragi-san.

A second word to describe my Daddy would be ‘talented’, I think, at least as far as music goes. Mommy complains that the ‘Invincible Shinji’ was also annoyingly talented at their teenage jobs, but since they’ve never gone into too much detail with what it was that they did, I can’t really talk about that. I can sure say that I have yet to meet another self-taught person who can play as many musical instruments as my Daddy, though: he knows how to play the (traverse) transverse flute, the guitar, the piano, the violin and a few more instruments that he doesn’t bring out as often.

But what I didn’t know until three years ago was that Daddy also played the cello. I always knew that there was a well-maintained cello in the house, but since Daddy had never played it in front of me I had just assumed that it was another instrument that he wanted to learn at some point. From what Mommy told me, though, Daddy had asked to have that same cello repaired a long time ago, but she had never ever seen him play it since.

When I asked him why, Daddy only told me that thinking about playing the cello again made him sad, and then he had a small argument with Mommy in which she claimed that Daddy should just ‘get over it’ already, whatever that meant. The only thing I learned that day was that Daddy’s cello apparently had belonged to his Mother first, my Grandma that passed away before I was born, and that the way she died had something to do with Daddy not wanting to play the cello?

In any case, things sort of remained like that for a few more days, and I had almost completely forgotten about the cello in the first place when Makinami-sensei showed up out of nowhere, with auntie Rei and a shocking proposal in tow:

She wanted Daddy to play the cello in her jazz band, Marie’s Four, that same well-liked band that had been filling the town restaurant every Saturday evening for months. And I remember how Daddy repeated Makinami-sensei’s words to himself, looking white as a sheet, and then tried to duck back inside with a made up excuse only to find Mommy standing right behind him.

That last one shocked Daddy and me both, because I never knew Mommy could be so quiet. Mommy followed that by pushing Daddy back into the middle of the group and taking a place next to Makinami-sensei and auntie Rei, saying that it ‘couldn’t hurt to try’ since he had a lot of free time that he spent (practicing) practising random instruments on his own, anyway. It was a waste to keep it all to himself and the family, Mommy said.

Auntie Rei quickly agreed on that, too (which was weird, because Mommy and Auntie usually don’t agree on much), and it wasn’t long until us family women plus Makinami-sensei had cornered Daddy into agreeing to give the band a try, despite his obvious doubts.

I was a bit scared back then that we had forced Daddy into doing something that he didn’t like, but considering that Makinami-sensei’s band soon changed its name to Marie’s Five, I think it’s safe to say that Daddy enjoys it there. He’s been looking a lot happier since, too.

And actually, I think that’s the last word I want to describe Daddy with: ‘happy’. Happy to be alive and with Mommy, Auntie and me, in his own way. Happy to play with Marie’s Five and make other people happy, making use of the gift he has been given. Maybe he’s not the strongest Daddy in the world, or the smartest or the bravest, but he’s kind, he’s funny, and he’s a perfect match for Mommy’s more impulsive personality. Plus, he (almost) always has a special smile for me that he brings out whenever we play together, whenever we go out shopping, whenever he notices that I am the one who has something on her mind, or just whenever we just… plain spend time together.

And I don’t think I’d change any of that, not for anything in the entire world. You’re not perfect, but I love you anyway, Daddy.
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Dec 02, 2018 4:37 am

Second character snippet is done, with two more planned until I try my luck at tackling AIL once again. This time we have Asuka in the spotlight, so let me know what you guys think. ^_^

My Mommy, Asuka Langley-Sohryu  SPOILER: Show
I think the first word to describe my Mommy would be ‘demanding’. She doesn’t want me to be perfect at everything, but she gets mad when Daddy or me don’t try our hardest at something. No slacking off on what needs to be done, in short, which has been exactly her own way of handling things for the longest time, according to Daddy.

I think that’s fair now, but I used to hate it a few years back because schoolwork was so painfully easy and boring, with hours and more hours of being spoon-fed the most basic of explanations. I never failed a subject, but our old Sensei made a habit of taking off points from my grades for ‘passive (behavior) behaviour in class’, which Mommy always read as me ‘not trying my hardest’. And then, arguments between the two of us would ensue over the whole thing for at least three days, or until Daddy (or Auntie Rei if she was around at the time) thought it safe enough to get involved and defuse the situation.

Mommy’s temper is really something else and Daddy often jokes that, as far as that goes, I take after her a little more than he would like. It’s only fair, he says, to have the both of us loudly arguing when Daddy and Auntie are always so calm and collected. A balance must be kept.

And I used to get a bit mad at Daddy for that, but I eventually stopped when I noticed that it only made him laugh harder.

In any case, I love Mommy very much, but she can be a real pain when she wants to. And I guess I am, too, sometimes. Thankfully, the above has been a moot point ever since we got Makinami-sensei in our group, so it’s all good now.

Except for Geography. Geography can still burn down in a fire.

Speaking of Makinami-sensei, she and Mommy apparently go way back, and Sensei once told me in private that the ‘Princess’ (no clue where that comes from) has always been like that, all righteous fury and indignation one second and an ‘affectionate kitten’ the next. Sensei also joked that Mommy’s two sides had Daddy all sorts of confused back before they started dating, and that if I thought they were bad now, I should have seen their arguments/flirting back in the day. Makinami-sensei finished by saying that getting Mommy and Daddy together was easily ‘the hardest thing she had done in her life’.

And I would have liked to see that. Although I guess I do see it, now that I think about it, whenever Daddy and Mommy argue over something just to make up a few minutes later. They have their problems, but I think it’s obvious that they love each other (and me) very much.

Speaking of, I think the second word for Mommy would be ‘loving’. Makinami-sensei put it very well when she called her an ‘affectionate kitten’, because for half of the time when she’s not being grumpy Mommy is very touchy, always looking for an excuse or another to hug me or Daddy tightly. And I like that. Plus, whenever we’re alone and not fighting, Mommy always calls me ‘Her Little Dolly’.

And that name is a bit of a secret between us, I guess. Or at least, Mommy asked me not to tell Daddy or auntie Rei about it, saying they would worry if they knew. I didn’t understand back then why they would worry about it (and I still don’t), but I made sure to do as she said and keep our little secret to ourselves, anyway. Mommy probably has her reasons, after all, and it’s well-known that her mind can work in mysterious ways, sometimes. A flaw of being a genius, I’d bet.

Besides, it’s not like I don’t have another big secret I’m keeping with auntie Rei, anyway. I’m already a pro at this kind of stuff.

Mommy is also a pretty good singer, and I learned that during her thirtieth birthday celebrations. Since that year was also the year that Mommy had been elected for her second term as town Mayor, we decided to throw a small party for her at the Horaki family restaurant to (comemorate) commemorate both occasions. I remember Mommy complaining about making such a big deal out of it, but it wasn’t long before she got into the mood and began to have fun at the party with everyone else. The cooks under Horaki-san’s orders cooked us an amazing dinner feast and Marie’s Five gave Daddy the night off, but the event that really made the party happened when Marie basically trapped Mommy into going up onto the stage with her to sing a duet.

And go up she did, even if Mommy protested as much as she could before she fell to peer pressure. I remember her looking all sorts of embarrassed as every eye in the restaurant turned to her and the first notes of ‘Fly me to the Moon’ began to play...

...but Mommy did an amazing job of it.

She wasn’t as good as Marie, of course, but she wasn’t that far behind, either. And that surprised me because Mommy had never trained her voice before, as far as I knew. Maybe she did some karaoke during her regular girls’ nights out with Sensei, Auntie and Horaki-san?

In any case, everyone present, but especially Daddy, loved her singing. And since roughly nine months later my baby-brother Takao was born, I can guess without much room for error at what happened between Daddy and Mommy when we got back home that night and I went to sleep.

But I’m getting sidetracked. Again. Sorry, Sensei.

Back on topic, I think the last word I want to give to Mommy is ‘childish’, and I know that’s probably going to surprise you, Sensei. After all, how could the woman that’s respected and known as the ‘One-eyed Devil’ by a lot of men twice her size be a big child while she’s at home? The same woman that has the town hall in an iron grip, and that every single politician inside dares not cross?

Well, then I’ll tell you that that very same woman also needs some serious prodding by a kid less than half her age so that she’ll stand up from the couch and do her part of the house chores. Or that the ‘One-eyed Devil’ also likes to live up to her namesake by playing silly little pranks on those around her (mostly Daddy, but Auntie and me are also common mischief targets). Or that a free day on Sunday means that she won’t come out from her room until lunch is cooked and served, and sometimes she won’t even come out for lunch if she had a night out with her friends the previous day…

I could go on, but I think what I already said should be plenty. Mommy outside and Mommy at home are like two completely different people, and it really has to be seen to be believed. She usually tries to defend herself by saying that her position as Mayor and the sheer amount of ‘Goddamn Idiots’ that she has to listen to every day always leave her exhausted, and I believe her because I know it’s true, but since I also get tired from all the things I do every day and I never get any slack from her, I’ll say that it’s fair to nag her a little bit and try our hardest to make Mommy into a more responsible person while at home.

(Like that’s gonna ha-) I don’t think we’ll ever succeed at that, though.

Daddy usually compares Mommy to Katsuragi-san whenever she acts all lazy (which is often), and Mommy tends to respond by bristling like a cat and going on tirades about how they’re nothing alike. Tirades that might sound believable at first (Mommy is a politician, after all), but that lose most of their punch the first time that you see the both of them side by side after a day’s hard work.

It gets to the point that if Daddy ever thought of putting a wig on Katsuragi-san I don’t think I’d be able to tell them apart, honestly. Not as long as there wasn’t any alcohol involved, at least, because that’s the one thing that Katsuragi-san is still uncontested on.

But yeah, the two of them are basically one-to-one outside of that, not that Mommy will ever admit it. Fitting, considering that if I could put a fourth word in here, Mommy’s would 100% be ‘stubborn’. Just as bad as the biggest of mules.

But I still love you, Mommy. Even if you’re a pain in the ass sometimes and could be a better example back home, I also believe that you’re a perfect role-model to follow outside of Daddy’s castle. If I ever need to stop and think about how I’m going to handle my own future, I’ll make sure to remember the way in which you fought for yours in a time when no one knew where to go or do.

I’m so proud to be your daughter.

But no, no matter what Daddy says whenever we argue, I’m not as stubborn as you are. Am I right or am I right, Sensei?
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:04 am

Update time, and it's Rei's turn to shine, breaking records and leaving her two former teammates in the dust as far as word count goes! I had quite a bit of fun with this one, since Rei's bit is one of those that I had fairly clear in my head ever sicne before I started to write Shinji's. I hope you guys will like it.

And with this, we've only got Mari left to go. I'll try to have her piece done early next week, hopefully before Christmas, so that I can start focusing on AIL once again after the 25th. It's been more than a month since I last worked on that, after all, and I suspect that there will be quite a few people who just want me to keep on trucking with it. ^_^

My Auntie, Rei Ayanami  SPOILER: Show
My auntie Rei is a superhero.

I know what I just said sounds silly and not at all like something a girl my age should believe in, but that’s basically the only explanation I can come up with for the secret I share with her. I guess a little more information is necessary to clear up what I mean, though.

By the way, I can trust you to keep this between us, right Sensei? I mean, Auntie Rei is your friend, too, right?

In any case, my story begins on a cold and snowy winter evening. Auntie and I were coming back home from shopping for groceries, when we happened to hear a soft and pained-sounding whine coming from the side of the road. We went closer to investigate and found a little puppy lying on its side, moaning weakly and almost completely hidden under a thin mantle of snow.

‘It is a Shiba Inu,’ auntie Rei said as she passed her bags to me and quickly knelt down to take a closer look at the poor puppy. ‘Not even a month old.’

Then, without even needing to touch him or look at him from a different angle, Auntie told me that he’d been hit very hard by something, probably a passing car that hadn’t noticed him. His wounds were fatal and, even without the snow all over it sapping his strength, the doggy would likely die in just a few more minutes.

My seven-year-old self was very sad at the news, I remember. I asked Auntie if there was something, anything, we could do for the little puppy, but the harsh reality of the situation was that both of the town vets were a fair distance away and it was just impossible that we would make it to either of them in time.

I’ve always liked animals. It’s no secret that I probably like them better than most people, honestly, and auntie Rei has always been very aware of this, being the insightful person that she is. Maybe that’s why she decided to do what she did, back then, even if it meant coming clean on her big secret:

Suddenly putting her hand just above the injured puppy, Auntie asked me to close my eyes and, thinking she was about to mercy-kill it, I did as she asked without a second thought. But then, I heard something that sounded a whole lot like water hitting the pavement. When Auntie then asked me to open my eyes again, I was shocked to see the puppy on all fours, barking happily and running circles around Auntie with eyes full of adoration.

‘You must never tell anyone about this’, auntie Rei then very seriously demanded, ignoring the doggy to focus entirely on me. And seven-year-old me just nodded dumbly, busy trying to make sense of what had just happened. It wasn’t until we were halfway back home that I finally managed to put two and two together and figure out that Auntie was a superhero, so it was no wonder that she didn’t want her secret identity to be public knowledge.

So I didn’t say anything.

As a side note, the doggy followed us all the way back home and we ended up adopting him, even if Mommy wasn’t completely on board with the idea at the start. Something about ‘a downgrade’ from a pet penguin; in any case, his name’s Koro, and while he’s a lot bigger now than he was back then he’s still just as energetic. And obviously, he’s extra happy when auntie Rei comes over to visit.

As part of her superhero duties, my auntie spends a lot of time during the year travelling to all sorts of different countries. Auntie says that she’s out looking for ideas for her books and paintings, but since I became aware of her secret superhero identity I’ve figured that she’s also helping out those in need like she did for Koro. I mean, I remember how she happened to go to the southern part of India when a huge famine was all over the news, and things improved and got a whole lot better not two weeks after Auntie had left for Austria. Very much out of nowhere and for no apparent reason, crops and livestock were suddenly growing bigger and stronger than the country had ever seen, almost like it was a miracle.

Coincidence? I think not! I mean, if there’s one thing that Auntie Rei is it is kind-hearted, after all. I might as well make that another one of the words to describe her, now that I think about it.

Auntie’s travels are almost endless: one week she’s in Britain or Russia and the next she’s in Congo or Mexico or South Africa. One postcard says that she’s wearing layer above layer of clothes and the next says that she’s doing her best to hide from the sun under a wide-brimmed sunhat, all in the name of helping those in need (and coming up with material for her cover-up jobs, I guess). Mommy and Daddy always say that Auntie is out working and not playing, but the stories she tells whenever she’s at home sound so fun that I’ve always wished I could join her in a worldwide adventure, anyway.

I haven’t been lucky so far, though. In fact, the one time that Auntie offered to take me with her for a few weeks, Mommy would have none of it because I would have been missing out on school for too long and Daddy didn’t come to my aid like he sometimes does. Like always, auntie Rei went on her trip on her own that time, too, and I remember being so mad at Daddy and Mommy that I didn’t speak to them for days.

It was really annoying, but at least Auntie Rei brought me a cool souvenir when she came back that time: a pretty T-shirt with a lot of funny-looking sheep on it. I also managed to talk Mommy into letting me go on a trip with Auntie when I turn sixteen, if I prove to her that I can miss a few weeks of class without falling behind.

Shouldn’t be too hard. And I’m going to stop here before I end up going into sidetrack territory again.

For auntie Rei’s second word, I think I’m going to go with ‘calm’. It might be cheating a little bit because I already used that word for Daddy, but if I didn’t use to describe Auntie then I would just be lying. I’m also going to cheat a little bit more and add ‘insightful’ to the second word, because I said it was one of Auntie’s qualities earlier before but I think it can also be one of the reasons why she’s usually so quiet.

Auntie Rei doesn’t talk much outside of her stories, and she doesn’t talk even a quarter of what Mommy does, that’s for sure. She’s more the listening type and doesn’t miss a beat, always on guard for the things that are said and done around her so that when she does speak she always has the right thing to say. Unlike Daddy, who sometimes flounders a little bit and puts his foot in his mouth.

Actually, I think that might be the biggest difference between the two: where Daddy is quiet because he doesn’t like trouble and prefers to do his own thing, Auntie is quiet because she’s too busy looking and listening for clues about everything around her. That amount of care and attention to detail must be why her children novels are such a big hit.

And for Auntie’s last word, I think I’m going to go with ‘focused’, especially because I think it’s funny that Auntie and Mommy argue so much when they’re together considering that they’re so similar as far as their work goes. The both of them are always trying to doing their jobs as well as they can to the expense of almost everything else, and Daddy often says that it must be partly because of how much Mommy and Auntie worked and how much responsibility they had when they were younger.

I think that makes sense, but I also think it’s a bit sad that Mommy and Auntie won’t relax on their own more often. At least Makinami-sensei is there to take them away when she thinks they’ve been working too hard for too long.

And that actually reminds me of one time a little bit over a year ago when Auntie brought me over to her studio: I’d spent the entire afternoon begging Auntie to let me see the new stuff she’d brought from her latest trip, and finally got her to cave in during the last hour before evening. You see, Auntie’s workshop isn’t just the place where she paints and stores her paintings, it also doubles as something of a museum of all the things she has found during her travels and I just love to see every little new item that Auntie brings back every time she returns to town.

In any case, we climbed to the top of her duplex and I wasted no time in starting my tour of the place: there were a pair of cat statuettes that looked Egyptian, a model of the leaning tower of Pisa, a hat from one of those English guards that never, ever move a muscle and a greyish piece of rock that was labelled as coming from the Moon.

That last one was probably some fake that Auntie had picked up from a peddler, or something, just to see if she could trick me. Which didn’t happen, of course.

But what really caught my eye were these cute ribbons of many colours dancing to the breeze that flew in from the half-open window, and I hurried closer to take a better look, noticing quickly that they were made of yarn. They were a flashy mesh of bright reds, blues, greens and yellows, and the colour palette reminded me a lot of some traditional costumes that Makinami-sensei had shown us when learning about the mid and south Americas. Of course, I immediately asked Auntie if she had been around that area recently…

…but she didn’t answer.

Curious, I turned around, and then I noticed that the reason why Auntie wasn’t answering was that she was scribbling away at her picture book, stopping only to take half-second glances at the spot where I was standing. I was surprised, of course, but I also learned a long time ago not to bother Auntie when she’s being all artist-like, so I just went around and looked at her other paintings and things while she was busy with her drawing. I made sure not to touch anything, of course.

Eventually, auntie Rei got finished with her work and plopped it on a nearby bench before she walked away to the storeroom muttering about colours, and I risked a quick peek at what she’d been working on so eagerly: unsurprisingly considering the time and place, it was a portrait of me looking out the window with the setting sun in the background. Well, more like a rough pencil sketch, actually, but still not bad at all considering that she drew it in like, ten or fifteen minutes. It was very pretty, as usual.

And also kinda funny-looking. I don’t remember having a greenish or bluish thing around me, after all. And even if it didn’t take away from the beauty, it was just… weird. It’s this little thing that Auntie does for every single one of her paintings. It doesn’t matter if it’s a person or an animal or a tree, Auntie always gives them these strange lines all around them that make them pop out a little bit more, if that makes sense.

Maybe seeing things all weird is one of her superpowers, now that I think about it? Or is that really just an artistic thing? I mean, Makinami-sensei showed us some famous paintings from some famous artists for a project one time, and while some of them were just about people or landscapes looking pretty, some others looked weird and stretched or just... plain didn’t really make much sense. Maybe those lines are Auntie’s artistic signature?

In any case, artists are weird, is what I mean. Almost as weird as the offhand not-answer that auntie Rei gave me when I asked her about it.

‘Light of the Soul’, yeah right. I’m not five anymore, Auntie!

But going back to auntie Rei, one last thing I want to mention is that sometimes she looks kinda lonely. Which is funny, because from what little I know about superheroes they always end up hooking up with someone or another pretty quick. That hasn’t been the case for Auntie as far as I know, though, because I’ve never seen her or heard about her being with anyone else in a romantic way.

And that makes me sad, because if there’s anyone in the world who deserves to be happy, that someone is my kind-hearted auntie Rei. That’s a problem that could be hard to fix, though, because Auntie’s circle of friends is very, very small. In fact, and I know it probably sounds a bit strange coming from me of all people, but I think she could do with meeting some more people and making new friends.

Then again, I could be completely wrong and maybe Auntie does meet and make friends with new people in all of her travels and I just don’t know about it. It doesn’t look like that to me, though, and that makes me a bit worried for her. I know Daddy and Mommy have been worried, too.

The only person who doesn’t seem to be worried is auntie Rei herself, actually. I mean, when I asked her about why she didn’t try something like a dating service the only thing she did was smile at me and say that she had ‘All the time in the world’ to find a partner.

Which is a load of bull. I’ll give Auntie that she does look quite a bit younger than Mommy does (much to Mommy’s eternal annoyance), but it’s not like she’s going to live forever. If she keeps on acting like she is right now, it’s only going to end up with her being lonely her entire life! And that would just be... sad.

But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that happen, and I just know that you’ll be with me on this one, too, Sensei. We are going to find that stubborn aunt of mine a person that she can be happy with whether she grumbles about it or not, and what better way to start with than with that huge pile of people that Sensei is friends with? Auntie’s soulmate just has to be in there, somewhere!

...But this has gone way out of hand already, so we should probably leave our planning for some other time. Time to finish this essay!

I love you, Auntie, and even if they’ve never met you in person, I just know that there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world who love you as much as I do, too. Being a superhero and helping those that need saving will do that for you, and even if we’re only talking about the smaller details, painting your pictures and writing your books so that the imagination of just as many people can fly free is nothing to scoff at, either.

You deserve to be happy as much as anyone, Auntie. And I know that you say you have all the time in the world, but I hope we’ll succeed at finding your special someone sooner rather than later, anyway.

[ I ] - [ 3 ] - [ W ]​

“And it’s done!”

The pen hits the top of my table as I relax against the back of my chair. After all, and even knowing that I had plenty of stuff to talk about when it came to Auntie, this one got long. I stretch my arms and legs and groan a little at the tingling that I feel from the latter, before fighting back a yawn and spying a glance at the tabletop clock.

It’s 19:13PM, so I should still have a short while to play with Koro before dinner’s ready. Gotta review my work before I consider it truly done, though, so I blink the drowsiness away and pick up the piece of paper containing my masterwork.

And then I stop.

“...But now that I think about it, maybe giving this out isn’t such a great idea,” I ponder, reading the first few lines of the essay time and time again. “It’s not that I don’t trust Sensei to keep Auntie’s real job a secret, but if auntie Rei was so serious about keeping it to myself…”

“Mmm… I guess I really should redo those parts, and this entire thing could really use some trimming, besides. Sensei did say that learning how to summarise was important,” I finally decide with a sad sigh, concluding that playtime with Koro will have to wait until after dinner and picking up the pen once more. “It’s not going to be the same without that starting punch, but that’s still way better than disappointing Auntie. Better get to it!”
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:29 am

Woah, almost a month of no postings! Sorry it took me this long to post these, but I've been pretty busy during the holidays and didn't have the time to manually format them. Better late than never, though! ^_^

This update ends my short story foray for the time being, so the next updates will be going back to AIL, as usual.

My Sensei, Mari Makinami  SPOILER: Show
‘I used to think that school was easy and boring, but a special teacher changed that and taught me the joy of learning something new from everything.’

I tap the pen against my nose and stare at the two lines of black against white. What I’ve written so far works very well as a start, but I’m drawing a blank on what I should follow it up with.

After all, I was sure from the beginning that I wanted this last essay to be about Sensei, but she has come up so much in the other parts that I don’t really know what else to say about her. I guess I’ll start by writing that I couldn’t be happier to have her as my teacher, and that everyone else in class thinks the same, too, girls and boys alike. The boys especially are always going out of their way to remind the other classes of just how awesome Makinami-sensei is, and they try five times as much whenever Sensei is within earshot.

I can’t blame them, but they’re crushing so hard on Sensei that it’s almost sad to watch. They’re fifteen years too young to even be worth her time, though, and then the idiots would need to grow their brains another fifty or sixty odd years to match Sensei’s intelligence.

But I guess I should follow their example and make ‘awesome’ into one of Sensei’s words. Pen to the paper!


‘...and the Projects we work on with Sensei are almost as awesome as she is.’ There, one down.

Speaking of that, I still don’t understand why Makinami-sensei’s single. She’s very pretty and always happy, she’s smart and a great teacher, and the restaurant always fills up when her band is performing so she’s obviously also really popular as well. Logically thinking about the problem like Sensei has taught us tells me that there should be absolutely no way that people aren’t lining up to ask her out, but that’s… actually not happening. Or at least no one that I know of has come out victorious from that question.

And I’m pretty sure of that because, while there could be plenty of stuff going on in Sensei’s private life, of course (I’m not around her 24-7, after all), if Sensei had gotten together with someone at some point, I’m certain that I would have heard something out of Mommy. Unlike me, Mommy’s really bad at keeping secrets and, besides, the town is really not that big. If someone, somewhere, had seen Marie having fun with a ‘friend’, it would have made the rounds all through town quicker than Mommy can call Daddy a ‘Baka’.

And since all the boys in class haven’t fallen into the pits of despair yet, I guess it’s safe to say that Makinami-sensei’s still available, illogical as it may be.

When we asked her about that one day, the answer she gave us was that ‘All her love was used up with her awesome students’, and that she had nothing left to give to anyone else. It was obviously one of Makinami-sensei’s usual jokes and we all laughed together at it, but her words reminded me about Auntie’s comment on ‘Having all the time in the world’ and how lonely she had looked at the time.

Makinami-sensei didn’t look lonely at all, but I still made her a good luck charm during our next Arts & Crafts period, anyway, a small necklace made of seashells that I hoped would help her find that special someone one day. When I offered it to her at the end of the lesson she gave me the biggest of smiles, and told me that she would treasure it and wear it to her next jazz performances for however long it lasted. And I remember nodding along to Sensei’s words, thinking that with how pretty and perfect she always looked during her concerts there was simply no way she would break the image by wearing something an eleven year old had thrown together in little more than half an hour…

…but the awesome thing is that Marie did wear it.

And I wasn’t the only one to notice, because that night the audience kept on murmuring during the pauses between songs about how strange it was to see Marie wearing something so unusual. But no one actually raised the question until the very last moment of the band’s customary end of concert Q&A session, when a well-dressed man couldn’t keep his curiosity any longer and straight out asked Marie about the hand-made necklace.

And just then, after catching my eye for a second and giving me a wink before she smiled at the man, Marie answered him by saying that it was ‘a heartfelt gift from my special someone’.

Immediately, the hall ran abuzz with people whispering about what Marie had just said, but Sensei just grinned impishly and took it in stride, playing the game as some other parts of the audience followed suit and bombarded her with questions. Me, on the other hand...

...Well, let’s just say that, until then, I’d never known you could feel embarrassed, happy and satisfied all at the same time.

The embarrassment then won by a landslide when word got out to Mum that I had been the ‘special someone’ Marie was talking about. Still, that’s probably a memory I’m going to keep for a long time, so thank you, Sensei.

And what I just remembered is a good way of putting Sensei in a nutshell, now that I think about it. It might be a little flirtier when she’s wearing her Marie persona, but that same exuberance and positive outlook towards everything is the same no matter where she is or what she’s doing.

Some of the more traditional people in town might say that Sensei’s nature borders on shameless, but I think it’s more fitting to say that Sensei is ‘energetic’, or ‘enthusiastic’, and that she just likes being with people a lot. I mean, whenever she’s showing off the next idea she’s been working on to the class or we’re actually working on it, Sensei’s always the very first to be hyped about what she’s talking about or what we’re doing. I guess those same people who call Makinami-sensei’s behaviour improper would probably say something even more idiotic if they saw Sensei constantly acting like she’s our age, but Sensei’s mountains of enthusiasm towards everything is just her way of motivating us towards doing our best. How she sells the class the latest project she’s been working on, in short, and I’m living proof that her method works really well.

Hmm... I should probably write that down, too.

‘...Sensei’s endless energy and constant happiness make me glad that I get to work with her every day.’ There, this essay is taking shape now!

But, again, and after everything she has done for us, I can’t help but keep on thinking that it’s such a shame that Makinami-sensei is single. All of that happy energy is meant to be shared with someone else, so it just doesn’t feel right that...

…Then again, maybe I’m going about this the wrong way. I mean, what if I’m understanding the problem incorrectly? What if I’m wrong on my assumption that Makinami-sensei doesn’t have a sweetheart?

What if Sensei’s waiting on someone?

Mmm, that idea has a bit of merit… I mean, I know for a fact that Sensei’s pretty good at bringing people together (it’s completely possible that I wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for her, after all) so chances are that she’s not a stranger to love, and knows more than the basics of it. In fact, Sensei probably knows a lot more than that considering just how flirty her Marie persona is. I remember how Daddy complained that Marie wouldn’t stop teasing him during his first practice sessions with the band, actually, so it just follows that such a person wouldn’t be on their own for long.

Yeah! That must be it! Sensei already has a person she loves and they’re just… away, doing... something! And Sensei has resolved to wait until they come back so they can get married and create a family and live happily ever after! Yeah! That sounds perfectly fitting for a romantic like Sensei!

‘...So, who is it, Sensei? Is it one of the people from the government that come visit from time to time, or that friend of Daddy’s that’s doing the rounds around the world for some magazine, or someone else entirely?! Please tell me! I swear I won’t tell anyone you don’t want me to!

I mean, you can trust me, right?’

I can barely contain my excitement as I leave the pen on the desk, and I find myself wishing that the hours will hurry up and pass so that tomorrow can come. The answer to one of the biggest questions in my life is less than 86.400 seconds away, after all! Less than half that time, actually. I’m sure that Sensei will come clean to her favourite student after I’ve managed to come this far, right? Even if she has never spoken about it before, for whatever reason.

...But now I realise that I’ve just spent this entire essay gossiping. Damn. And I’ve still got one more word to give to Sensei, too! But at least that one’s easy:

I pick up the pen and carefully write ‘exemplary’ on the next line, then ready myself for elaborating on that word.

‘If Mommy is my role-model for never giving up no matter what the world throws my way, Sensei is the one that will always remind me to live my life to the fullest.

I love you, Makinami-sensei. I’m so glad that you’re my teacher and that you taught me how to look at the world with different eyes. A town without you in it wouldn’t be the same, and I don’t need to ask Mommy, Daddy, Auntie and everyone else in town to know that they agree. You’re the heart of our home for all of us, so make sure that you always remember to take good care of yourself!’

P.S: I swear I won’t tell! So let me know who your sweetheart is after class, alright?! Don’t wait too long and let them escape! ^_^
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:31 am

Chapter 10-6  SPOILER: Show
“Why not?” Asuka harped from behind. “Just tell him to follow and he will, it’s not like that moron knows how to do anything else.”

The Second Child then found herself observed by her fellow Pilots, Makinami doing that annoying thing with her face that meant she knew Asuka was missing something. Even worse, and through her usual non-expression, Ayanami was doing something strikingly similar, too.


“Nothing!” Mari deflected, far too quickly for Asuka’s taste. She then stood up and stretched a bit. “In any case, how about we-”

“Hey! Not so fast!” the redhead interrupted, quickly grabbing hold of Mari’s wrist. “What about you?”

“Eh?” the Fifth Child repeated, pointing at her face. “Me?”

“Yeah, you. Why should we be the only ones talking about this stuff?”

“Indeed,” Rei promptly agreed, causing one of Mari’s eyebrows to rise up. “It is only fair.”

Mari couldn’t help a chuckle. Something about hearing the almost indignant voice of the First Child was terribly amusing.

“Well... sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have any spicy stories to tell, myself.”

“Wait,” the Second Child scoffed in response. “So you mean to tell me that you’re running your mouth about... that, and you don’t have any actual experience to your name?”

“I guess.”


“I’m glad that you found my input so reliable that my lack of practical know-how may sound like a lie, Princess, but you know better than anyone how us EVA Pilots don’t get a lot of spare time,” the Fifth Child shrugged. “So take it or leave it.”

“You’re a backup,” Asuka argued, narrowing her eyes. “You’re not even a real Pilot.”

“I still went through the full rigours of training, you know? That leaves the chances for fooling around somewhere in the negatives.”

“I trained to Pilot EVA all my life and still had time to get a degree.”

“And not all of us lowly mortals are geniuses, Princess,” Mari shot back, her smile turning playful. “I’m sure your crush will appreciate you remembering that.”

And the next comeback died on the Second Child’s lips, a faint blush rising to decorate her cheeks.

“Bah, whatever. I’ll get the truth out of you eventually,” Asuka sat back down with a grumble, crossing her arms in defeat. “But that’s got me thinking: why didn’t NERV bring you to pilot Unit-01 back during the first Angel attack if you were trained for it? Why bring Stupid Shinji?”

“Don’t know. Maybe time was too short to bring me here from China, or maybe you’ve always been right from the beginning and a fair bit of nepotism was at play. I’m not sure I’d have made a much better job than Sleeping Beauty did, anyway,” the Fifth Child then turned her attention back to the kitchen. “But I think that’s enough talk for tonight. I spied a box of sleep-well infusions in one of the cupboards earlier, so what says we have one final drink and go to bed? Katsuragi’s planning to make tomorrow a long day for us, I’m pretty sure.”

“...Yeah, that’s Misato, alright,” Asuka groaned in agreement, thinking the proposal through for a second or two. “Okay, hit me up. I’ve never had any, but what’s the worst that could happen, eh?”

“Cool. What about you, Bluebird?”

“I’ll have a cup, as well.” The First Child concurred with a nod, after a moment’s deliberation.

With a big smile and a flourish, Mari reached into one of the cabinets and took out the required amount from a tiny, decorated cardboard box. She then hurried to fill three cups of water before speaking over her work and to the other two Pilots.

“Gotcha, that’s three little bags, then. I’ll have them ready in a jiffy, so why don’t you get started with the beds?” the Fifth Child required before she raised a finger to the sky. “Tonight, we sleep like logs! And tomorrow, we show everyone our amazing teamwork!”

And whether Mari Makinami expected an excited cheer or not, the truth was that her enthusiasm never garnered such a response. Much to the Fifth Child’s chagrin, Ayanami merely tilted her head in confusion, while Asuka left the room with only a roll of her eyes.

“...Real tough crowd,” Mari moaned to herself when Rei, too, had walked out of earshot. “...This is going to be one long week.”
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:35 pm

Sorry for being a day late to the conclusion of this chapter, but doing a fair share of the paperwork to buy myself a flat took a lot of the time I had this past weekend. It's been fun but, hey, at least I'll stop having to pay an exorbitant amount of rent every month of my life! That's worth a headache or five.

In any case, I'll get started with Chapter 11 ASAP, but considering that I still have more stuff to take care of this weekend chances are the next update will come on Sunday 26th, or somewhere along those lines. Send your positive energy to Shinji in the meantime, because he'll probably ne ed it. ^_^

Chapter 10-7  SPOILER: Show
‘Damn, it still hurts. Feels like I put my hand in a trash compactor.’

Misato Katsuragi flexed and relaxed her right hand almost in time with her steps, wincing slightly at the pangs of pain that lanced up her arm with every single motion. Not a life-threatening injury by any means, but certainly one that had been distracting her ever since Misato had greeted the newest Pilot recruit.

‘...The hell’s up with that girl, anyway?’ the Major thought, thinking back to the day’s biggest surprise. ‘She doesn’t look any older than the other Pilots, but-’

A sudden loss of tempo in the steps behind her brought Misato to a sudden stop, and she turned to see one of her Section-2 escorts bringing a hand to his ear. New instructions, no doubt.

“What’s wrong?” the Major demanded once it looked like he’d finished.

“Your attention is required elsewhere, Major,” the man replied, curt and faux-polite as all Section-2 always were. “Please follow us.”

Misato raised an eyebrow in wonder, and was about to protest the invitation and focus back on her thoughts when she remembered the specifics of her current situation.

“Fine,” she agreed with a sigh. “Not like I have much of a choice, anyway.”

With the positions in their formation now reversed, Misato followed the two black-clad agents as they led the way through the labyrinthine corridors of NERV HQ, thinking harder about what Ikari would demand of her than about where her feet were carrying her. At least, until the group arrived at an elevator and Misato quickly noticed a detail that went against her expectations:

They weren’t going up.

“...This is not the way to the Commander’s office,” Misato commented, narrowing her eyes and quietly patting the side of her jacket to ensure that her sidearm was still there. “Where are you taking me?”

But the two men provided no answer to her query, silently waiting until the elevator stopped at the third basement floor before restarting their march, one of them remaining at her back to ensure that Misato would follow. Once again the Major did so, her mind frenziedly coming up with possibilities and contingency plans for a worst case scenario until the same agent that had instructed her before stopped, and indicated a nondescript door with his hand.

“We’ve arrived. This way, please.”

Despite the wording, the man’s words were not an invitation and Misato wasn’t keen on learning the consequences of non-compliance. That being so, she did as commanded, and as the door’s knob turned and a hidden system beeped in agreement of her actions, the only thing that Misato clearly and absolutely understood was that Gendo Ikari likely had nothing to do with this latest development.

Stepping inside, Misato recalled from her memories of the NERV HQ floor plans (which, admittedly, weren’t very clear) that this specific floor was mostly comprised of storage rooms for the base’s automated delivery system, which brought supplies to every corner of the NERV pyramid when required and in record time.

But a storage room is not what greeted her inside.

“Good evening, Major Katsuragi,” a distinctly male voice spoke to her from a large armchair that obscured her vision. “It is a pleasure to finally meet you.”

Now blinking for different reasons than she had initially expected, Misato took a quick look at the walls around her and swiftly identified a bunch of computers and a variety of monitoring equipment that certainly shouldn’t have been there if her memory was accurate. Misato became even more certain that her memory was right when she noticed how brightly lit the room was, everywhere save for the final stretch of it in which the armchair sat and the voice had come from, making the ambience of it all very obviously intentional.

“The monitoring equipment you are wearing is being jammed by the gentlemen who brought you,” the voice continued, Misato taking a quick look behind her and receiving a stoic nod in response. Clearly, they weren’t actually Section-2. “So feel free to speak your mind without any worries.”

“Speak my mind, huh? Well, I’ll say that someone’s trying really hard,” Misato snarked before she could help herself. “Or did I somehow time-travel back to the seventies?”

“I know, right?”

Misato raised an eyebrow at the supporting response, and not only because it was in agreement with her criticism but, because this time, and despite coming from exactly the same place as last time, the voice that had answered her had been female. And one that Misato had heard not too long ago, incidentally.

“Makinami…?” Misato mouthed right as the armchair turned around and the Fifth Child made herself known, the older woman barely stopping herself from doing a double-take. “The fuck?”

“I know what you’re thinking, but this was not my idea,” the twin-tailed girl put her hands up in defence. “I’m just helping with giving it form, so to speak.”

“…What?” Misato frowned, trying to make sense of what the Fifth Child had just said before she shook her head and focused on what was truly important. “No, scratch that. What are you even doing-?”

“How quick you are to betray your allies, Agent Morgan,” the male voice from before reproachfully cut in before Misato could finish, the Major quickly looking around to try and pinpoint where the out-of-place voice was coming from. It wasn’t until a second later that Misato noticed a choker around her neck that Makinami hadn’t been wearing before.

“Shut up, Arthur. I’m just starting to get tired of your creative ways of testing the extent of the MAGI’s control over the city,” Mari shot back towards the top of the room, suddenly sounding more like Asuka than the girl Misato had met a scant few hours back. “I’ll give you that getting a front seat to your chat with Akagi was funny the first time, but what I really had a hard time not laughing at was your idea of ‘shady’ and ‘mysterious’, and not the Doc’s reactions to it.”

“…94% of the surveillance team shared a similar opinion,” the disembodied voice replied, sounding dejected. “It would appear that everyone’s a critic.”

“When you make a point of ripping off all the worst clichés from every Bond and Noir movie villain ever, they sure as hell are,” Makinami shot back, taking off the choker and carelessly throwing it on top of a nearby table. “Who’d have thought?”

“What the hell is going on here?!” Misato finally exploded, bringing all the eyes in the room to her.

Eyes that numbered at less than eight, for the owner of the male voice, the so-called ‘Arthur’, still hadn’t actually shown himself. Nevertheless, and considering the withering glare that Mari Makinami had taken to throwing her way after her outburst, Misato could have sworn that there were twice that many people staring at her.

“Hey, Arthur, if you don’t need me to be a mannequin for your games anymore, I’ll be going,” Mari gruffly stated after a few moments, breaking eye contact as she stood up from her seat and getting ready to leave. “I had those two drink some herbs that should keep them sleeping until happy hour comes, but you can never be too sure. You had no issues doctoring the tapes, right?”

“None whatsoever, Agent Morgan.”

“Good,” the Fifth Child acknowledged, still ignoring a Misato that was very close to livid. “Then I’m off.”

“Hey! Wait just a damn minute!” Misato protested, reaching towards the retreating girl. “I’m not done asking you-!”

Only for her wrist to be caught in a vice-grip not even halfway to its objective, a grip that made the handshake she had received earlier that day feel like a loving squeeze. The force that clasped around her arm was strong and cold and it took all of Misato’s willpower just to keep herself from wincing, let alone try to escape it.

“Don’t touch me again if you want to keep your hand, Major Katsuragi,” the Fifth Child threatened, all traces of the easygoing person that had spent the day joking with and bullshitting Asuka gone in the span of a second. What remained was as cold and bitter as a pit of ice, one that Misato could swear was just a bad word away from trying to murder her.

“Agent Morgan, please. Focus on your objectives,” the male voice brusquely interrupted, clearly implying that his command wasn’t up for discussion.

And with a grunt and one last hateful glare towards Misato, the Fifth Child let go of the trapped limb and continued on her way, the two goons parting to let her through with a respectful nod of their heads. A moment later, the two-faced girl had disappeared from the room.

“My apologies for that,” the mystery man continued. “But I would advise against extended off-the-clock interaction with Agent Morgan, Miss Katsuragi.”

“No shit,” Misato mumbled, still reeling from the experience. “What’s her problem?”

“Agent Morgan has reasons for not appreciating you, specifically, Major.”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed,” Misato scoffed back, before speaking at the entire room. “Feel like elaborating on those ‘reasons’, Mister Disembodied Voice?”

“I prefer the name ‘Arthur’. And I’m afraid that most of that certainly falls under need-to-know information, Miss Katsuragi,” ‘Arthur’ replied. “I can, however, disclose that Agent Morgan’s animosity likely has something to do with Agent Percival’s untimely demise.”

“Percival?” Misato echoed, narrowing her eyes and quickly tying knots to come up with an identity for the codename...

“Apologies, Major. You would better know Agent Percival as Ryoji Kaji. My condolences.”

...and having her hunch confirmed just a second later.

‘Kaji... So Ritsuko wasn’t lying. You really were playing far too many sides for your own good,’ Misato thought grimly. ‘...And what was your relationship with that girl?’

“...I see. Thank you for the confirmation,” she eventually continued, falling into her Major Katsuragi persona to try and keep her expression blank. “So, you guys have an obsession with Arthurian legend or something?”

“Codenames can come in many varieties, as I’m sure you’re already aware,” Arthur replied, seamlessly following the switch in topic. “In any case, you’re surprisingly composed at the idea of having a foreign agent among your pilots, Major, considering the protective streak that has been attributed to you in recent times.”

“I’m anything but happy about it, trust me. But Akagi told me that the Fifth Child has been around Shinji, Asuka and Rei for some time now, while I was still detained,” Misato reasoned, mouth pressed into a tight line. “If she had wanted to hurt them, she’s probably had plenty of opportunity to do so by now.”

“Indeed she has. But as you already suspect, I assure you that we intend to bring no harm to the Pilots, if at all possible.”

“No wonder you don’t. Someone needs to pilot the EVAs for the next NERV after the original is gone, right?”

“Your accusations are woefully misplaced,” Arthur tersely argued back. “I assure you that we have no interest in the Evangelions as weapons of war, Major, beyond the task for which they were ostensibly built: defeating the Angels.”

“‘Ostensibly’? So there really is another purpose for the EVAs,” Misato confirmed, crossing her arms with a doubtful snort. “And that was a nice sales pitch. You only have to work on making it sound believable, now.”

“Distrust was to be expected, but let me attempt to reassure you of the nobility of our actions. We are of the opinion that neither humanity nor the world that houses it is ready to handle the pressure that would come from a worldwide Evangelion arms race. As a matter of fact, we sought to do the same during the years of nuclear proliferation, back in the Cold War period, but our capability to project power within the appropriate spheres was sorely lacking at that time, and our best efforts amounted to little,” Arthur elaborated, his usually dry voice actually sounding somewhat sad towards the end of his explanation. “We don’t intend to fail twice, and certainly not at a time when humanity is looking down into the abyss of oblivion.”

“How benevolent of you.”

“Our organisation has grown much since its infant years, Major, and we are now much better equipped to meet the objectives that we set for ourselves,” Arthur continued, ignoring Misato’s needling statement, “Our influence was instrumental in avoiding a second WMD arms race by ensuring the non-proliferation of N2 warheads, for example, and in keeping their production tied to quotas set by a... ‘clean’ part of the UN security council.”

“...So the UN is truly under someone’s thumb. SEELE’s?”

“Indeed,” the voice confirmed. “Not all of the New York Headquarters falls under SEELE’s influence, but some of its most important sections certainly do. The General Assembly, Security Council and the Economic and Social Council being some of the most important among them. Worrisome, as I’m sure you agree.

“But returning to the topic of our preparations, I would like to show you something, Major Katsuragi. The main reason we called for you, incidentally.”

“And here I thought I’d been called to a history lesson...” Misato snarked, before her eyes caught sight of something unusual. “...Huh?”

A tiny spider, no bigger than the size of an ordinary coin, lazily made its way over a keyboard. Slowly and carefully, it walked over the last of the keys and descended along the side of the device to the top of the table, where it continued on its merry way until it suddenly stopped, spinning in place and jiggling its legs this way and that in a seemingly erratic manner, all under the Major’s flabbergasted scrutiny.

It wasn’t the spider itself that stumped Misato, though, but rather the fact that it shouldn’t have been there. After all, and due to the sterile nature of certain very important areas within HQ, a cleansing programme had been initiated and rigorously maintained since the time of its construction to ensure that there were no pests within the Geofront. No rats, no cockroaches, not even the tiniest of flies could be found inside Gendo Ikari’s pyramid and, obviously, that also applied to spiders.

Which only made it even more curious when a second spider joined the first. And then the two were joined by another pair, and then half a dozen spiders. In a matter of seconds, half the tabletop had been covered in tiny arachnids.

“What the f-?”

Misato turned away from the desk, quickly noticing that the spiders weren’t coming just out of the crevices around the desk. They were coming out of a ventilation duct, from the sides of the monitoring machinery, coming in from under the door,...

They were everywhere. No matter where Misato looked, her eyes landed on a bunch of spiders, a quick estimate easily putting their numbers in the hundreds, already.

“It is no infestation, I assure you,” Arthur spoke, sounding very proud of himself. “Not a natural invasion, at the very least.”

“You people made these?” Misato asked, failing to keep a note of incredulity from her voice, before a soft whirring noise from her right caught her attention: one of the spiders had perched itself on her shoulder, and began slowly making the trek down her arm under the Major’s watchful gaze.

“Indeed, this is just a small show of our capabilities. While NERV and SEELE were focused on going bigger and more powerful, our organisation decided to contact and employ the talents of the world that didn’t fit into such a vision and go in the opposite direction, as well as towards some other interesting and rewarding tangents,” the voice continued to elaborate. “The X-ATM092 is the result of some of our most recent breakthroughs in miniaturisation, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. They are equipped with state of the art monitoring equipment, self-repair capabilities, as well as enough awareness to autonomously track targets and coordinate with the collective in order to share and coordinate audiovisual inputs. In short, they are the ultimate spy drone.”

“And far too fancy and expensive to be used just for monitoring purposes, I bet.” Misato offhandedly commented, taking a closer look at the spider that had climbed onto her palm. The mechanical arachnid stared back curiously.


And while Misato had not expected Arthur to come clean at the veiled accusation, the way in which he had sidestepped the issue already told her far more than she needed to know. With a few quick movements, Misato shook the spider off her hand and resolved to crush the little critters whenever she got the chance, even if it would probably be as useful as trying to punch the sea.

“How many of these things are in HQ?” she asked, just for confirmation’s sake.

“One million five-hundred thousand four-hundred and seventy two, with a peak amount of two million being desirable for optimum efficiency.”

‘...Yeah, forget punching the sea,’ Misato thought with a barely concealed grimace. ‘Drinking the Pacific dry with a straw sounds more accurate.’

“They allow us to have constant eyes and ears on roughly sixty percent of NERV HQ at this moment, with the rest about to be covered in two days’ time,” Arthur continued over Misato’s silence. “For all of its benefits, this kind of monitoring equipment isn’t capable of covering large distances too quickly, but it has already allowed us to positively identify twenty-seven SEELE informers as of this moment... Actually, make that twenty-eight. Obviously, we are also in the process of dealing with them.”

“You realise that eliminating those informers will tip off SEELE about something being very wrong?” Misato protested, doing her best to ignore the swarming spiders and focusing back on one of the spots from which the voice was coming from.

“I never mentioned the word ‘eliminate’, Major.”

“You think asking nicely is going to do the job?”

“Oh, no. We are not quite so naïve,” Arthur replied with an amused undertone. “I believe our intentions could be summarised with the famous ‘Turn your enemy’s strengths against them.’”

“So you want to try and subvert what’s probably a bunch of zealots. Even better,” Misato shot back with a half-glare. “And don’t quote Sun Tzu at me.”

“I will refrain from doing so if that is your wish but, I assure you, we have the means to ensure that the loyalty of the subverted spies won’t be an issue moving forward.” The voice’s cryptic answer was followed by a darkening of its tone. “Since you’ve proven so critical of our actions and designs, however, I’d like to hear what it is that you’ve been doing all this time, Major Katsuragi? Or, more importantly, what are your own plans for facing the crisis that SEELE’s actions represent?”

Misato was struck silent by the sudden question, but not because she hadn’t pondered it at length before. After all, every moment that she hadn’t been beating herself about the consequences her decisions had had on Shinji, Misato had committed to thinking about the mission Kaji had entrusted to her. What she could do to stop the puppeteers that were controlling everything behind the curtains, what she could do to stop Commander Ikari and his own plans, whatever they were, and what her next move should be to bring her still nascent plans into motion.

But unfortunately, the answers to Misato’s difficult questions hadn’t been forthcoming in all the time she had spent imprisoned, just as they weren’t now.

“I thought as much.” Arthur ultimately replied for her, his words bringing Misato to the edge of bristling.

“Please don’t take my criticism as an insult, Major,” the voice chortled again. “I realise that dismantling a worldwide conspiracy by your lonesome and with a backdoor access to the MAGI as your only weapon would be a difficult achievement for anyone. Especially anyone under your current... circumstances.

“Truly, toppling the odds in such a fortuitous manner is something that certainly belongs in fiction rather than in the harsh reality we live in, which is why I believe that cooperation, or at least non-interference, is in the best of all our interests. Don’t you agree?”

“And what if I don’t?”

As soon as the words left her lips, Misato heard the unmistakable sound of a gun’s hammer being cocked behind her.

“Agent Morgan might very well get her wish,” Arthur replied, noncommittally. “Nothing personal, Major, but as we said, we will stop at nothing to achieve our objectives.”

“Of course,” Misato grunted back. “You drive a hard bargain. Makes you wonder who the bad guys really are.”

“We’re aware of that fact, but that’s a label we will gladly carry if we have to. Do we have a non-interference agreement, then?”

“...So long as you don’t touch the kids,” Misato warned. “I don’t care what happens to me, but if anything happens to them, I swear that there won’t be a speaker in the world you and yours can hide behind.”

“Duly noted, Major,” Arthur calmly replied back, unimpressed, and Misato heard the man behind her put his gun back in its holster. “Thank you for your time. We will be in touch.”

And without any further flourish, the disembodied voice went silent and seemed to disappear as quickly as it had arrived, now that it had the answer it had wanted, just as, at the same time, the tiny spiderlings began to leave the room in the same way that they had entered, their point now proven. Arthur was likely still listening to the events inside the room, but chances were that his interest in conversation had reached an end.

Which is why Misato Katsuragi continued to try her best at showing no emotion, even when her heart and mind where anything but calm.

‘And now you’ve gone and gotten yourself involved with another shady party, Misato, just like Kaji and Ritsuko did,’ the Major wistfully contemplated, eyes fixating on an unimportant spot of the chair before her despite her best efforts. ‘Everything stays in the group, huh? Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, life finds a way.’

‘...No. Don’t bring yourself down, Misato. Shinji, Asuka and Rei are counting on you to untie your hands and find a way out of this whole mess for them. God knows we can’t trust these people as far as we can-’

“If it eases your mind, Major, the current escort assigned to the Second Child is part of our infiltration team, too,” the man who had held her at gunpoint not two minutes ago suddenly broke into Misato’s thoughts, bringing her attention to him. “They are under orders to ensure that no harm comes to her, no matter what.”

“Nice effort, but that really doesn’t ease my mind.” Misato grunted back bitterly.

“...You’re a hard woman to please. Your friend didn’t give us nearly as much trouble,” the man sighed, earning himself a piercing glare for his trouble. “Fine, then. How about this?”

The man then took out a device from one of his inner pockets, the shape of it eerily similar to the one Commander Ikari had held in his hand when he had ordered the bomb-choker put around her neck. As a matter of fact, and if she had known no better, Misato would have sworn they were one and the same.

But what really caught her attention was the sound that came out of the choker when the man pushed one of the buttons in the device: a short and high-pitched beep, and definitely the same one that had reached Misato’s ears when the choker had been activated in the Commander’s office.

“...What did you just do?” Misato almost growled, her glare intensifying tenfold.

“Easy there, Major. I just deactivated the triggering mechanism for the bomb, even if the monitoring systems are still in place to avoid suspicion. The explosive charge won’t activate if it receives the command to do so, and our tampering shouldn’t be noticed unless someone takes a close look at the choker itself,” the man shrugged, pocketing the device once again. “Something that judging by Gendo Ikari and Kozo Fuyutsuki’s psych profiles they are not likely to do until we approach the last stages of our operation. But we will find a more definitive solution to your problem before that.”

“And why would you do this?”

“Because we don’t want you to blow yourself up?” the man explained, barely concealing his exasperation as he took off his sunglasses, probably to appear more earnest. “Look, our superiors’ love for secrecy and Agent Morgan’s independent actions might not make it look like it, but we really are not your enemies here, Major Katsuragi.”

But while everything about his body language made the man appear sincere, the mere act of taking off his sunglasses ended up making Misato even more wary of him. And that was because, while she couldn’t quite place what, there was definitely something off about the man’s eyes, something that the Major would have been willing to bet was also true for his partner.

“Whatever you say. The last time I checked, though, friends didn’t point guns at each other’s backs,” Misato quickly replied before she was caught staring. “But not having to worry about my neck should make things easier on my end, so I guess there’s that.”

“...And that’s it?” the man almost spat, shocked at the Major’s indifference. “Not even a-”

At least, until a hand on his arm made him stop mid-sentence.

“Let it go,” the man’s partner admonished, sounding far closer to the Section-2 goons that Misato was used to dealing with. “That’s everything we’re getting out of her tonight.”

“...Right,” the offended agent eventually agreed (even if it looked for a second like he wouldn’t), putting his glasses back where they belonged and trying to recover a scrap of professionalism. “We should get going, Major. This room may be secure, but if we stay here much longer people might start asking questions.”

“Agreed,” Misato replied, pushing past the both of them and towards the door. “Don’t fall behind.”

And as she crossed the threshold into the hallway, Major Katsuragi couldn’t help a smirk at the strangled groan that she heard behind her. Childish, she realised, and very much so. But even as she adapted her planning on the go to allow room for a third party, Misato would gladly take her small victories wherever she could.

For those could very well prove sparse in the future.
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby eldomtom2 » Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:53 pm

Be very careful with OCs.

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:36 pm

I personally don't enjoy OCs who add nothing to the plot at hand, so I'll definitely try to avoid falling into that same hole. Thanks for the warning, anyway. :wink:
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby eldomtom2 » Sat Jan 19, 2019 3:36 pm

I was more worried about the opposite, to be honest. Adding an anti-SEELE secret organisation requires an extreme degree of tact.

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sat Jan 26, 2019 4:11 pm

Interlude 1  SPOILER: Show
He was little more than a kid, the way he rocked back and forth reminding her of a child moaning about a scraped knee, not unlike one of the many she had cared for in a previous life that didn’t matter anymore.

The cause of Kotaro Ikawa’s ills, however, was nothing quite so innocent. In fact, and despite the poor illumination in the room, she could still see the swollen red spot where the now discarded syringe had pierced through the man’s skin, a little below his right ear.

The result of her own actions.

Unlike many of the others she had been instructed to dispatch, Kotaro Ikawa didn’t have a direct connection to SEELE. He was the lowliest link in his chain of information, a nobody that had no way of knowing how the information he was selling, e-mail addresses of a sizable part of the NERV employee base, as well as the means to access them, were being used. He likely believed that he was just allowing for spam-mail and other online scams to annoy his co-workers, something that a young man of his talents probably found very shameful within the privacy of his own room. Unfortunately, property mortgages didn’t discriminate based on university degrees, and the ones he had to pay were on the expensive side of the spectrum.

Not that his debts would be a cause of worry for Kotaro Ikawa anymore.

The rocking young man let out a pained whine, and just as his hands came up to weakly scratch at his scalp, the computer in the room let out a short, affirmative beep: the signal to let her know that the dissemination process had finished. With a sigh, the woman propped herself from the wall she had been resting against and walked closer to Kotaro.

“La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo,” she spoke once she was standing on front of him, the man’s lightless eyes turning to look at her, but at the same time look far beyond her.

“La…” he repeated in strangled gasps. “…Li-Lu… Le-Lo.”

He had been a shy one, she remembered, the way that those same eyes had been so surprised at her flirty remarks during the end of their night shift telling her that he was very unused to women making passes at him. That and an unexpected caress had been all that she had needed to make him believe that he was going to get lucky that night; another clear indication that Kotaro Ikawa was much too young to be getting involved in that sort of mess.

But orders were orders, and no exceptions were to be made in subverting SEELE’s information network. She knew that much.

“…Laputan Machine.” The woman finally spoke, her words echoing inside the room like a death sentence.

In response, Kotaro Ikawa straightened in his seat, hands moving to cradle his head as his pupils expanded and dilated almost uncontrollably. He moaned and gurgled, teeth gnashing against one another and nostrils flaring as he appeared to struggle for breath…

…and then, in a moment, his entire body suddenly relaxed like a puppet that had had its strings cut.

“Good work, Agent. All readings are nominal,” a familiar voice congratulated her. “Assuming direct control.”

As soon as the words reached her ears, the female agent watched as Kotaro’s head snapped to attention. She watched as the young man raised his right arm in the air and then rotated his hand so that it was facing backwards, before doing the same thing with the left. A few more similar movement exercises followed and then he began to speak, revealing all sorts of personal information first, prior to maintaining a conversation with himself and telling a bad joke to top it all off.

None of that was out of his own volition, of course, and she could see within the last glimmer of awareness in Kotaro’s eyes a man despairing at what was happening to him. Soon, he would be unable to do even that whenever the nano-machines activated, and remember nothing at all outside of perfectly curated memories at the times where they were dormant. He would feel no need to do anything outside of the most base of routines, either, for ease of control and lessened risk of contamination.

Kotaro Ikawa was about to become a prisoner inside of his own body. The same horrifying fate that awaited every single one of SEELE’s informants.

And she couldn’t stop thinking that he was little more than a kid.

“…I’m going out for a smoke, Arthur,” the female agent turned towards the door, not wanting to watch the gruesome spectacle anymore. “Let me know when you’re done so I can clean up.”

“Of course, Agent,” the monotone voice responded. “But before you leave, the latest regulations under article twenty-seven, paragraph eight, require me to ask whether you would prefer to have your likeness purged from the fabricated memories that we are to embed into the subject.”

“New regulations?” the woman paused as told, turning back towards the room with an inquisitive look. “What’s all that about?

“Indeed. A small faction of operatives have proclaimed their dissatisfaction with the measures sometimes required to lure their targets, and expressed their wish to ease their own minds by ensuring that the subjects remember nothing of their interactions together,” Arthur detachedly explained. “The nature of this dilemma being something that we can easily alter with the means currently at our disposal, we have deemed their request acceptable. That being so, we ask you to please...”

‘…Unbelievable,’ the female agent wondered as Arthur droned on in the background, giving one last look at the shell of a man in the room. ‘We are doing this… stuff, and whether the damn zombies remember bedding them is what they have an issue with?’

“It’s fine, I don’t care,” she interrupted with an angry shake of her head, hurrying towards the exit. “At least let him have one last, nice, dream.”

And the veteran agent barely registered Arthur’s clinical ‘Acknowledged’ as she cut ties with the room with more force than absolutely necessary, pulling out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter and putting one between her lips with a practised motion.

Within fifteen minutes, she had gone through three of the small stress-relievers. But much to her chagrin, the thin door proved unable to completely muffle the moans of the latest inmate inside.
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:31 am

Sorry this took so long, RL issues have popped up. The schedule might remain a bit bumpy until Summer, in fact.

In any case, enjoy. ^_^

Chapter 11  SPOILER: Show
The rain gradually became heavier and heavier during the few seconds in which Shinji Ikari’s attention was captured by the other occupant within the open field. His eyes never leaving the gargantuan weapon it held for more than an instant at a time, the Third Child was still able to confirm that he was looking at the same suit of armour he had already met once before prior to his instincts taking over and Shinji stumbling to his feet. A small part of him noted that his hasty actions were making a mess out of his clothes, but it was quickly ignored in favour of standing up and preparing to run away as soon as humanly possible. Just as he was about to bolt away, though, young man stopped himself short of rushing into a full on sprint, the memory of how reliant on sound the rusty knight had previously been keeping him from making what could have been a fatal mistake.

Instead, Shinji forced himself to remain in place and took a second, long look at the sitting giant. Much to his surprise, quite some time had already passed and the armour hadn’t turned around to look his way or appeared to react to his presence in any manner, the Third Child briefly entertaining the idea that his arrival might actually not have been heard. That thought, however, remained with the young man for the single second that it took him to recall that his landing after Asuka had spit him out of the strange room had been anything but silent.

Maybe the armour didn’t care for going after him anymore? Such a theory sounded possible looking at the circumstances, but Shinji wasn’t going to put it to the test any further than absolutely necessary. And so, he observed from a distance some more: the rhythmic way in which the armour moved slightly up and down just as if it were breathing, fingers idly tapping on the hilt of its weapon and eyes never leaving the blade’s rusty steel and needlessly wide surface.

It looked sort of human-like now, like someone about to take a nap after a hard day of work. Shinji suspected that its eyes were open, however, and with the way the head was tilted down and fixated in one place the armour almost looked as if it were...


Shinji then snapped back to attention when the metallic husk suddenly began to rise, the slab of steel that it had been hugging up until that point taking its rightful place in a loose right-handed reverse grip that dragged the heavy-looking blade along the ground. Lumbering steps then carried it closer towards Shinji’s general direction, but much to the young man’s relief the thing still didn’t give any indication that it was aware of his presence.

‘I should probably leave before it actually realises I’m here, anyway…’ The young man decided, turning around on the wet grass as quietly as he could.

But just as he was about to turn tail and quietly slip away, Shinji saw a flash of red pass in front of his eyes right before a loud crash and a sudden gust of wind almost knocked him flat on his butt. Covering his face with his hands, the Third Child valiantly fought against what felt like a small tornado for all of three seconds, but then almost fell a second time in the opposite direction when the buffeting wind disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.

Stumbling back to attention, Shinji’s head snapped forward to where the knight had last been, but only a fairly sizable puff of smoke remained with no other signs of the threat anywhere in sight. He still wasn’t alone, though, for a plugsuited redhead now stood about three or so metres ahead of him with her right arm outstretched forward, the plumes of rising smoke making it look for a moment as if she had sprouted a pair of greyish wings.

The Third Child didn’t let the pretty thought distract him from the fact that Ace, the very same Ace who had already shown she could summon a one-to-one copy of Unit-02 at will, had also just punched one of the scariest beings Shinji had ever met into non-existence.


Shinji Ikari was really glad to know that Ace was on his side.

“…T-Thanks, Ace,” the young man thanked her, letting out a sigh of relief. “I don’t think it saw me, but I was a bit afraid it was going to-”

“Oh, don’t worry, Third. She wasn’t going to do anything to you, because right now you’re not anywhere you’re not supposed to be,” the redheaded pilot cut him off, suddenly sending a narrowed-eye stare over her shoulder. “Me, on the other hand...”

And it was then Shinji realised, Ace was mad. Or madder, anyway. More than usual. More importantly, she was clearly angry at him.

Suddenly, Shinji Ikari didn’t feel nearly as safe anymore. It didn’t get any better when Ace finished what the knight had started and stomped all the distance between them until they were face to face, grabbing his shirt in a vice grip from which there was no escape.

“What did you say to her, you complete and absolute moron?!” the enraged redhead snarled.

“Bwha?! Hey-!” the Third Child exclaimed, his head shooting backward and forward and backward again. “Ace! Blargh! Stop i-! That’s not-!”

And all the time Ace kept on repeating the same question over and over again, a question that Shinji had no answer for. Not that knowing would have mattered, because the way Ace was shaking the young man like a ragdoll wouldn’t have allowed for a single word longer than two syllables to leave his mouth. But it was when most of Shinji’s thoughts and ideas had begun to turn into mush that the shaking suddenly stopped, a throaty and angry sound on Ace’s behalf letting the Third Child know that the pause hadn’t been intended. Somewhat dizzy, Shinji looked to his right and saw that another Asuka was there, the nice one, this time. She was holding onto Ace’s arm and fixing her with the meanest glare Shinji had seen her throw at anyone.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“Are you blind? I’m giving this idiot a piece of my mind!” Ace bit back. “I mean, we freaking had it! The only thing he needed to do was shut his big mouth about anything that wasn’t trying to get Asuka to spill the beans to Akagi, and then that faux-blonde bint could have found some way of fixing this whole mess! And he somehow found a way to fuck that up!”

“I’m already aware something happened,” Asuka evenly replied, motioning at the rain all around for emphasis. “But you being violent is going to fix your problem, how?”

“Maybe it won’t fix it,” Ace grumbled, batting Asuka’s hand away. “But it sure as hell will make me feel a lot better!”

A hand that clamped back on its previous position with at least twice the force, if Ace’s sudden yelp was to be any indication.

“…Do I have to beat some sense into you again~?” Asuka sweetly admonished, bringing Ace’s attention to her fake smile.

A sunny grin that made the plugsuited redhead let go of her prey as if he had become a branding iron with yet another, more subdued, yelp. She was halfway through protectively raising her arms when Ace caught herself, and forced herself back into casualness with a convenient cough and a glare.

“H-Ha! The last time you just cheated and got lucky. But I’ve got more important problems to worry about than teaching you a lesson,” Ace shot back, turning her back to the pair with a huff. “...Fine, we’ll do this your way, brat. But make it quick.”

Something that left the pilot blind to Asuka childishly sticking her tongue out behind her. A scene that would have probably made the Third Child chuckle had his head not been spinning still.

“Don’t listen to that meanie, Shinji,” Asuka quickly focused back on the dazed young man now that the trouble had been diverted. “First of all, are you all right?”

“Y-Yeah,” Shinji muttered, steadily finding his own balance again. “I’m a bit confused, but-”

“Of course he’s fine, it’s the Invincible Shinji Ikari we’re talking about!” Ace gruffly cut into their conversation. “Will you stop wasting time, already?!”

A second glare flew in Ace’s direction at the interruption and, for a moment, it looked as if Ace would actually follow up with another quip, but she then promptly decided to limit herself to her usual ill-humoured grumblings with a roll of her eyes. Nevertheless, Asuka decided to wait until she was a few steps away to continue their talk.

“Again, don’t listen to her. She’s been cranky for a while now and is just looking for something to vent at, and...”

“...Because I did something stupid, right?” Shinji finished for her with a weary sigh.

“I... Well, maybe.

“But why don’t you tell me about what happened first, Shinji?” Asuka continued, putting the conversation back on track. “Our hot-headed friend said that you managed to speak to Asuka?”

“...Yeah,” the young man replied with a small grimace. “But she wasn’t happy about it.”

“Of course she wasn’t! You peeped on her while she was undressing, you pervert!” Ace suddenly stomped her way back into the group.

“N-No I didn’t! That was an accident!”

“Yeah, right! Sure is convenient to have a random screen that’s always glued to your face as an explanation!”

“But I’m telling the truth!”

“Sure you are,” Ace shot the rebuttal down, making to grab Shinji by his shirt a second time. “What do you think I am, four?!”

Only to have Asuka step between the two of them.

“Calm down, you two. Especially you,” the redhead demanded of her other for the third time that day and, as had been the trend so far, Ace grumbled some more and backed down. But this time she stood her ground around the group, much to Asuka’s disquiet. “Okay, now that’s taken care of... Was that everything that happened, Shinji?”

“...No,” Shinji replied after a second, looking around for a place to sit down. He found it in the form of an adequately sized rock a few steps away. “...Asuka had some synch-tests to attend and... this girl that’s been around for some time now came to look for her. After that...”

The Third Child recounted everything that happened that day for Asuka’s benefit, since by the way that she had been reacting up until then, he figured that Ace was already aware of most of the things that had happened. Shinji told Asuka about Misato, about the results of the synch-test and how happy the ‘real’ Asuka had been, about the disastrous simulation battle right after and the way Asuka’s mood had then taken a dive into the negatives...

“...Then Unit-00 took a blast to the chest and I said I was glad that it was only a simulation. Ayanami could have been hurt really bad by that if it had been a real battle,” Shinji finished with another sigh. “And then Asuka muttered something and said that she didn’t want to listen to me. I landed here just a second later.”

His explanation finished, Shinji raised his head from the slump it had been in during the whole process and checked for a reaction from Asuka. The girl’s face had a knowing look to it, but whatever the redhead had realised from his words was probably not good judging by how troubled her expression looked.

“That was... a very silly thing to say, Shinji,” Asuka eventually confirmed, much to the young man’s confusion.

“‘Silly’? Ha! Even for you, Third, that was so stupid,” Ace harped from the background immediately after.

“What an exceedingly foolish claim, indeed, Third Child.”

Shinji blinked in surprise, not having expected a third voice to comment on his most recent failure and, just before he turned to look at the source, he noticed Asuka and Ace reacting with as much shock as him. The latter’s shock quickly turned to disdain when she laid eyes on the new arrival, however.

“Hey!” Ace exclaimed, pointing an accusing finger forward. “What are you doing here?!”

“The same thing you are, just double-checking some facts,” Maisie calmly countered with a dismissing wave of her fabric hand. “By all means, continue on as if I weren’t here.”

“Ignore you? Sure. But why don’t you do as you say and actually-”

“Argh!” Shinji’s voice cut the Pilot off, the young man jumping to his feet as he did. “Stop it already!”

A move that brought the still erupting argument to a screeching halt. Two pairs of startled blue eyes quickly found their marks on the heavily panting Third Child, and even the usually unflappable Maisie looked a bit stunned at the sudden outburst.

“...Third?” Ace cautiously began after a moment’s silence. “Everything all-?”

“I just don’t get it!” Shinji ignored her, motioning wildly at the three aspects. “I only said that Ayanami could have been hurt if it had been a real battle! Will any of you tell me why that was wrong?!”

But the Third Child received no immediate answer to his demands. The three girls before him shared a long, meaningful and somewhat uncomfortable look, but otherwise remained silent for several seconds.

Maisie was the first to smirk and back away, clearly unconcerned with giving any sort of explanation but interested in the events about to unfold. The other two girls watched her retreat, words of objection rising up to Ace’s mouth until the redheaded pilot saw a golden opportunity for herself: stomping towards the Doll, Ace made sure to express each and every one of her complaints away from the Third Child.

Asuka then felt the entire force of Shinji’s eyes on her. Oblivious to the aspect, however, the Third Child’s attention had at no point veered from her in the slightest. It was clear as to who the young man believed would be the one to give him a straight answer.

“Uh...” the kind redhead floundered, suddenly finding her hands of supreme interest. “W-What you said wasn’t wrong, actually. It’s kind of... a little more complicated than that.”

“‘Complicated’, how?” the young man insisted.

“I-I mean... From what you said, Asuka probably wasn’t feeling too great at the time, and... bringing up the F-First like that exactly then would have... Um... Ehm...” Asuka stuttered her way through the words, clearly not enjoying being put on the spot. The redhead then went silent for a second and stopped intertwining her fingers in a million different shapes, before motioning with her hands around her and sending a sunny smile Shinji’s way. “N-Nice weather we’re having, huh?”

The droplets of water striking the ground then took on the mantle of main characters as the four members of the group fell into an awkward silence. Roughly at the same time, Shinji heard what sounded like someone palming their face, but paid it no heed in favour of taking a look at the downpour around him. A second or two of seeing, feeling and hearing the rain, and the young man turned to stare at Asuka like she had grown a second head.


“What the brat’s trying and failing to say is that you have a gift for choosing the wrong words at the worst of times, Third.” Ace walked back to the both of them with a sigh and ended her other’s plight, but not before lightly flicking Asuka in the forehead with a finger.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Shinji grumbled just before he went on the offensive again. “But again, why is it wrong to say that I was glad Ayanami wasn’t actually hurt by that attack, that it could have been bad if it was a real battle? I’d have said the exact same thing if Asuka had been the one getting hit during the simulation! She knows that!”

“...Does she, now?” Ace asked back, crossing her arms.

“Why wouldn’t she?! We’ve been piloting together for months!”

“Did you ever tell her?”

“Tell her...? I... I guess not,” the Third Child deflated slightly at the obvious question, sitting on the rock once more. “But look at me and where I am! I’m stuck inside Asuka’s head because I was worried and wanted to help her when that Angel attacked! Isn’t that enough proof for her?”

“Fair point, Third,” Ace admitted with a weary sigh. “I guess you could put blame on both sides of the argument but, look, just... think about what I just said, alright? A little more in depth? I know boys are dense and stupid on principle and that you run laps around most of them as far as that goes, but I’m sure you can figure things out if you think them through for a while.”

“‘Think about it?’” Maisie scoffed at Ace’s reassuring words, bringing the group’s attention back to her. “I see that you still keep your farfetched opinion about this sad excuse for a man being able to amount to much of anything.”

“Shut your trap. I may be very pissed at him right now, but credit where credit’s due: the guy’s trying,” Ace shot back, her support bringing a small, cheerful smile to Shinji’s face. It was wiped out completely when the Pilot continued, though. “He absolutely, positively, and categorically sucks at it, but even I’ve got to admit that his idiotic babbling is more than most people have ever tried to do.”

“Is that so? How quaint,” the Doll continued, unimpressed. “But if your belief is so strong, why not back your words with some actual action, for once?”

“What do you mean?”

“Headquarters, you fool. There has been a vacant seat in our section since the departure of our most simpleminded colleague, remember?” Maisie answered with a wave in Asuka’s direction, which made the kind redhead sit down next to Shinji and slump forward at the reminder.

Ace, in turn, stared back at the dejected pair with a raised eyebrow.

“And you want... the Third to sit on it?”

“I don’t want anything, I’m just stating the obvious. If you truly believe that this foolish fool of a man can be the change to advance your respective agendas, there is simply no better place in this realm from which to be of influence.”

Maisie then turned and walked away from the group, but not before noticing how Asuka had visibly perked up at her words. The Doll’s shoulders rising in the most dramatic of shrugs, she continued in a tone of voice every bit as fake.

“But, alas, the matter of access remains an important issue. If only there was some way he could...”

“My access card!” Asuka happily jumped to her feet, brandishing a reddish plastic square from out of nowhere. “He can use it! Shinji can go in my place and-!”

“Cool your heels, numbskull,” Ace interrupted, firmly sitting Asuka back on the stone before she sent a glare in the third redhead’s direction. “Why don’t you tell us what your angle is, first? You’re being awfully helpful today.”

“An angle?” the Doll giggled, waving the accusation away. “My, my... Perish the thought.”

“Cut the crap. You seriously expect me to believe that you’re doing this out of the goodness of your heart?”

“And why would I need to scheme in the shadows?” Maisie shot back, turning back around to face the group with an amused look. “In case your bellicose mind has already forgotten, the achievement of my wants is a foregone conclusion.”

“‘Foregone’, my ass,” Ace scoffed with a roll of her eyes. “Fine. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ll take your word for it. Why are you helping us, then?”

“Entertainment, mostly. Our views may be different, but our origins are still the same. I also find it dreadfully boring if the challenge is lacking, hence, the bone,” Maisie explained with a careless shrug. “Of course, you could also ignore my advice and continue to fail at your most basic of functions. It’s all the same to me, and it wouldn’t be the first time you did so today, either. So much for that influence of yours...”

And with the almost disinterested manner in which Maisie’s words were delivered, Shinji could already tell that a storm would soon brew in what he wished were the proverbial horizon. Unfortunately for him, though, the first sounds of thunder quickly made themselves apparent far closer to home than he would have liked, in the form of a plugsuited redhead simmering with rage.

“Listen up, Third: I’m going to explain what you’re going to be doing next in three simple steps,” the Pilot growled, rounding on the now very uncomfortable Third Child. “You are going to grab that access card. You are going to follow us to HQ and continue this idiot’s work. And most important of all, you’re not going to fuck it up. Understood?”


“Cool,” Ace acknowledged, before grabbing his wrist and forcing him back up. “Let’s get rolling, then.”

The Pilot then thanklessly grabbed the plastic square from Asuka and brushed past her, and while the redhead regained her balance Shinji found himself briefly locking eyes with the first friendly person he had met in that strange place. Asuka promptly answered his stare with a small smile, although one that lacked her usual cheer.

It didn’t take the young man long to figure out why. They were all going to a place where Asuka couldn’t follow, and at that point it was fairly likely they would remain there for what was left of his stay. Asuka, in turn, would probably go back to her farm and stay there. Alone.

It was blindingly obvious that the girl didn’t enjoy being on her own. Her sunny disposition whenever he or her ‘sisters’ were around shone through whatever arguments she usually had with the latter, and the manner in which her features had darkened each time he had needed (or been forced) to go away left little room for doubt. If that wasn’t enough, Shinji also realised that this could be the very last time he ever saw this Asuka again…

…and more quickly than he ever thought himself capable of, Shinji Ikari made a decision.

“Wait!” the Third Child planted his feet firmly into the ground, managing to wrest his hand free in the process. “I have a demand to make before I go!”

“What? A demand?” Ace echoed, her question caught between sheer shock and impatient exasperation. “Fine, what is it?”

“I...” Shinji took a deep breath, squaring himself in place. “I want Asuka to come with me.”

A collective silence fell around the group at his words, the girls’ reactions ranging from Asuka’s muted shock to Maisie’s aloof interest. It was Ace’s thinly-veiled indignation that took centre spot, however.

“...Excuse me?”

“I said that I want Asuka to go there with me, so she can help me learn the job!”

“You can’t be serious. She was expelled, Third!” the plugsuited redhead protested. “There is no way she can get back into HQ until her ban is lifted!”

“Then you work on making that happen or I won’t help you!” Shinji argued back, putting a hand to his chest. “Besides, she won’t be in the same position she was before, she will just be my assistant! Any decisions will be mine and mine alone. That should be fine, right?”

“No, it won’t! You just don’t get it, stupid! I can’t just make a petition and have her reinstated! It doesn’t work like-!”

“It’s done.”


“I said that my request was granted. Your naïve friend will be allowed back into HQ for operational assistance, and that purpose only,” Maisie elaborated, taunting Ace with a superior smirk. “Are you going to flap your mouth like a fish for much longer, or should we be on our way back?”

And if Ace had been simmering before, now she was making an erupting volcano look like a safe place to be. Steam almost shooting out of her nostrils, the girl pinned Shinji with a pointed glare.

“...Any other requests, Third?

“W-Well, I also wanted to-”

Denied! But I’m sure glad we had this conversation,” Ace cut him off, grabbing the Third Child by the neck of his shirt and pointing her other arm forward. A swirly vortex then appeared in front of Shinji’s startled eyes. “I’m looking forward to working with you and all that Japanese crap, now move it!

And with a mighty shove the Third Child was pushed into the portal and disappeared within, likely to reappear near their destination in a way that would once again put the toughness of his bones to the test. Maisie walked into the vortex right after, looking pensive but caring very little for the group’s shenanigans. Finally, Ace turned to enter the opened way herself when a hand on her shoulder stopped her dead in her tracks.

“Hey!” Asuka called her out. “You didn’t have to do that!”

“Bite me, Miss Secretary.” Ace scoffed back, pushing the offending hand off her body.

But instead of falling by the wayside like the Pilot had expected, she soon found that very same hand taking hold of her right and pinning it behind her back, before Ace’s head was forced down into a textbook hold.

“…Since you asked so nicely.”

And with a firm kick to her bottom, Ace went spiralling into her own creation head first, screaming bloody murder all the way. Asuka herself then entered the portal when the awful sound disappeared, her wide smile no longer a forced one.

She was looking forward to her new job.
Last edited by Gryphon117 on Sun May 05, 2019 3:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:43 am

Hello people, I'm still alive. Again, sorry this one took so long, although funnily enough I've written about 80% of it in the last three days, so you can imagine how busy I've been during the remaining two weeks. Going up and down asking for estimates on refurbishing the various rooms of a flat will do that to someone, and that's without adding the studying and evaluation meetings from last week on top of all the other assorted obligations...

I can't wait for July to be here, and for me to be free of so much stuff to do. :sniffle:

In any case, enjoy. I'll try to have the remaining part of this scene arrive in a more timely manner. ^_^

Chapter 11-2  SPOILER: Show
“…Why me?”

“Because of your complete lack of a capacity to assert your own opinions or anything approaching resoluteness during most of your pathetic daily existence? I thought that would have been obvious by now.”

Resting on the wet grass, the Third Child’s face twisted in annoyance at Maisie’s biting words, having no problem whatsoever with picturing the girl’s usual haughtiness as she stood over his fallen body. With a weary sigh the young man placed his hands against the ground and began to push himself up, but found himself stopping midway through: a helping hand had just appeared before his vision.

Blinking at the unexpected offer, the Third Child wordlessly followed the appendage back to the body it was joined to and found to his mute shock an unamused Maisie raising a fake eyebrow at him.

“Would you rather I retract my hand?” the girl questioned after a second of silence.

“No! S-Sorry!” old instincts quickly reactivated as Shinji accepted the offered help. “It’s just, I-”

“Found it strange? What can I say? Even my heartstrings are pulled by your kicked-puppy expression,” Maisie finished for him with words that dripped with sarcasm. Effortlessly, she helped the young man to his feet before she carelessly turned around and continued over her shoulder. “…And you may want to step aside now, Ikari.”

“Huh?” the young man mouthed, still shaken by the recent experience. “Why…?”

But it was when a startled cry reached him from his right that Shinji realised his mistake. His instincts having driven him to face the source even if the back of his mind already suspected what to expect, a large object struck his midsection and forced him back to the ground for the second time in under a minute, knocking the wind out of him in the process. At least he wasn’t face down this time, the part of him that wasn’t in pain quietly celebrated.

“Because of that,” the young man heard Maisie offhandedly respond, her usual bored self back in full force. “So predictable… always so predictable.”

But most of Shinji’s attention wasn’t focused on the retreating Doll, just like it wasn’t focused on his hurting stomach, either. His eyes were stuck on the plugsuited missile that had pushed him against the grass and that was currently in a bit of a daze, muttering unintelligible gibberish against his bellybutton and causing the ripples of her hot breath to spread all over his entire body.

The embarrassing and highly volatile situation he suddenly found himself in taught the young man something he hadn’t fully realised until that point, however: Ace, and by extension Maisie and ‘Asuka’, he figured, were every bit as warm as the original person even if they were ‘only’ some sort of mental fabrications. Shinji wasn’t certain at all how that was supposed to work and he wasn’t about to try and make some sense out of it, especially since Asuka’s talk from what felt like an eternity ago about Aspects and the rules of the mind had soared completely over his head. Maybe he would ask the gentle redhead about it some other time, but for now the young man swallowed tightly and made himself ready for what he knew was coming his way.

“C-Could you… get off?” he asked of the slowly readjusting Ace.

And said redhead slowly brought her eyes towards his face, noting his proximity with a confused look a second prior to fully digesting the details of her position. Shock, embarrassment and anger flew past the Pilot’s face in that order, before she quickly put her hands against his chest and forcefully pushed herself off him at the sound of:


Ace then stormed past Maisie, huffing and puffing, but not before letting Shinji know with a single look and under no uncertain terms that the both of them landing as they had was still, somehow, entirely his fault. At least she hadn’t hit him, Shinji thought with relief.

Still, and knowing that it would lead him nowhere pleasant, the Third Child decided not to contest the issue and picked himself off the ground once more to follow the group, Asuka arriving just at that very moment and looking completely lost as to what had happened during her brief absence. Once again, Shinji chose to deflect the girl’s curious questions as well as he could because as far as he was concerned, there was no need to sully Asuka’s usual innocence with Ace’s more annoying quirks.

There was this slightly guilty look around Asuka’s face for a reason Shinji couldn’t quite place, however, and it remained there for the duration of the group’s short trek. But the curious detail didn’t linger for long in Shinji’s mind, for after a few minutes of walking through the foggy prairies the four of them reached a sudden break in the grey barrier, one that allowed the Third Child to see a familiar pyramid in the distance, albeit one that was painted almost exclusively in red.

“That’s... NERV?”

“Right now it is,” Ace gruffly replied, clearly still annoyed at him. “It wasn’t when we were in Germany and maybe it will be something different a few years from now, though. The mindscape can be unpredictable like that.”

“But… this is Headquarters, right? Why is such an important place in Asuka’s mind shaped like NERV HQ?” Shinji continued, feeling more than actually noticing Ace turn to stare at him through the corner of her eye. “Is being a Pilot really so important to her?”

“Gee, I wonder if that could be it. If only we had gone over something like that a few hours ago… oh, wait. We did,” the Pilot dramatically scoffed as she threw her arms up in frustration and redoubled her pace. “You better step up your game once we get inside, Ikari, or you’ll end up being just as useless as Third Wheel over there.”

The Third Child narrowed his eyes at the Pilot’s retreating back. After all, and despite Ace and Maisie’s usual claims to the contrary, he did pay attention to the things that they said around him. It was just that the idea of glorifying NERV like Asuka apparently did felt completely alien to him, although maybe that was just because his point of view was that of someone who didn’t enjoy piloting EVA, unlike his roommate.

“Don’t listen to her, Shinji, you’ll do just fine.” Asuka’s encouraging form promptly appeared by his side. “We’re going to help Asuka together, remember?”

“I know,” the young man reassured her, putting his feet in motion again. “I guess I’m just… a little nervous.”

“Well, don’t be! You’ve got me around to show you the ropes!” The redhead raised a fist to the sky with a cheer. “We’ll have you influencing like the best of them in no time!”

And Shinji had to admit, Asuka’s enthusiasm was as infectious as ever. And just as he had done countless times before, Shinji found himself lamenting the fact that Asuka, of all aspects, had to be the one with barely any say in the triumvirate.

‘Just imagine how an Asuka that had her at the helm could have turned out.’

Being greeted every day with a smile instead of a frown, for one, sounded like a likely scenario. Or getting some amount of personal say in his daily life instead of being told to do this and that at all times. Chances were that Asuka’s social circle would have expanded to include more than just Horaki-san (and arguably himself) as actual friends, maybe even the unimaginable could have happened and she would have become friends with Toji and Kensuke, possibly even with Ayanami. The whole thing sounded like a very nice fantasy, honestly.

But for some reason it also felt… wrong. Like an Asuka that was always cheery, empathetic and obliging wouldn’t be any less fake than the wall around his Asuka, the one that he had been getting to know in detail over the last few days, cracks and lies and everything.

The little things that had made being Asuka’s friend worth it for him would be a lot more diluted in such a scenario, too: watching her devour the contents of her bento box from afar when she thought no one aside from Horaki-san was looking, hearing her make one grandiose statement after another, or trying to lead the team in that way only she knew how to pull off, even the small, unspoken ‘thank you’ smile he’d gotten out of Asuka one time, after he’d brought cold tea for both of them to Misato’s veranda during a hotter than usual day. All of the above would be followed by a barbed wire of indifference or a demeaning one-liner, of course, but Shinji had since learned to differentiate the really angry Asuka from the Asuka that only wanted to appear irritated.

Needing to look into the differences every single time was still very tiresome, though, not to say annoying, and he didn’t need his roommate’s genius intellect to know who was to blame for that.

…But yes, even if they made him angry more often than not, Asuka wouldn’t be Asuka without Ace and Maisie. Obviously, she wasn’t herself without the Asuka from this side, either, so he would need to try his best to fill in her shoes without overdoing it. Trying to strike a balance between the three sides was clearly the best idea.

The whole thing had gotten the young man thinking, though: did he have little Shinjis running around his head, too? And if he did, what were his like? Probably every bit as indecisive and submissive as he was, ‘doormats’ as Asuka had called him more than once. But maybe someone like that weird Shinji with the sideburns actually existed inside his head?

‘Yeah…’ Shinji chuckled under his breath. ‘No way.’

“What’s so funny?”

And just an instant later, he found himself staring down into Ace’s inquisitive eyes.

“N-Nothing!” the Third Child managed to blurt out, only for the blue laser beams pointed at his face to intensify. Obviously, Ace wasn’t buying his answer, but she couldn’t decide whether she wanted to wring the truth out of him or continue to be angry at him.

Eventually, the latter choice seemed to win out.

“…Whatever,” she scoffed and lazily motioned to a massive gate before her, one that Shinji had been too immersed in thought to see approaching. “We’re here.”

A cursory glance revealed that the gate was a part of the pyramid itself, being one with its incline and proving that way to be much different from the large but still regular entrances to the real NERV HQ pyramid. Apparently, Asuka had taken some liberties with the small details, and that feeling Shinji got gained even more traction when something that looked like a little drone straight out of a sci-fi movie zoomed into their vision and began scanning them. The small machine seemed to focus for a few seconds on the small, plastic rectangle he had pinned to his shirt before it flew away, leaving only a satisfied beep as a goodbye.

The doors then parted through the middle and allowed them access, the group venturing forth and entering into a gigantic room that was completely unlike the thousands of maze-like hallways of the NERV Shinji knew. Probably another unconscious artistic license on Asuka’s part, since she’d always been very clear about how much she hated those ‘stupid damn corridors’.

No matter how much he privately agreed with her on that point, however, something even more surprising was quick to catch the young man’s attention. More than one something, actually. A couple hundred, even.

There were little Asukas with disproportionate body parts running around inside the massive structure, carrying gigantic books and assorted materials in their tiny arms as if they were working in some sort of factory floor, how their oversized heads managed to strike any sort of balance with the rest of their almost cartoony bodies proving a complete mystery to Shinji. They worked without a break and with little regard to their surroundings, interacting with nothing and veering out of their selected paths only to avoid collisions with the environment. They appeared so in sync with each other that the hundreds and possibly thousands of tiny Asukas reminded Shinji of an ant colony, a beehive, or some other sort of hive-like community.

“And those are…?” Shinji asked as his hand almost moved by itself to stroke the head of a passing mini-Asuka. That same hand quickly shot upwards when the red gremlin tried to bite it.

“Workers. They gather and classify memories, put together thoughts and actions… that kind of stuff. They’re the workforce that keep Asuka’s mind running, but they’re really not important to us, or to you for that matter,” Ace explained without stopping. “Just know that they’re there and let’s keep going. Over here.”

The Third Child and his recently inducted assistant quickly moved to follow, the former now making sure to keep an arm’s length away from the so-called ‘workers’ while the latter tried to death glare away any further attacks against her boss. Neither were successful in their attempts, but since their failure happened due to the little Asukas being much too numerous and busy to care for their presence, all remained mostly well.

Then, and after what felt like a few hundred metres of walking and an elevator ride that raised the group a fair few metres above the hustle and bustle below, Ace finally lead them to an overlook of the area with a long and fairly wide console that was shaped like a big C, one that looked strikingly similar to the consoles of the NERV bridge crew. Ibuki-san, Aoba-san and Hyuga-san, they were called?

Shinji got the feeling that a cast as varied as the bridge crew of NERV wouldn’t be sitting in these chairs, however.

‘On second thought, though…’ the young man then pondered, watching the two redheaded aspects that marched in front of him.

“That one over there is your seat. Your secretary will let you know how it works,” Ace suddenly asserted as she pointed to the chair more to the left. She then sat down in the one in the middle, “And don’t fuck up, remember?”

“I know,” Shinji bit back, making himself comfortable. “You don’t need to repeat it every ten minutes.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” the Pilot declared. In a swift motion she then spun the chair around, throwing a superior smirk at the Third Child and poking a thumb to her chest. “And while we’re inside here, you’ll call me ‘Madam’, understood? Veterancy is something that must be respected!”

A soft snort sounded from somewhere around Ace’s back and Shinji spied a glance to see Maisie taking a seat on the right of the console. The Pilot herself quickly mimicked his moves, although in her case it was probably out of an intent to retaliate rather than curiosity.

Still, hearing Maisie take an unspoken shot at her did fill the young man with a strange crave to follow suit. Maybe it was because of what the Doll had said to him earlier, while he was lying face down on the grass? Or maybe it was because Ace’s demand had sounded so close to something ‘his’ Asuka could have said?

In any case, Shinji’s words came out before he could even think of stopping them:

“I-I don’t think so, Ace,” the young man quipped, deeply ingrained nervousness still managing to make it into what could have been a nonchalant comeback. “The contract I didn’t sign said nothing about that.”

“E-Excuse me?!”

And Ace’s reaction was so like ‘his’ Asuka that a large part of him felt his slip almost justified, but…

“Pfft!” a much louder snort suddenly came from the back. “BWAHAHAHAHA!”

…Shinji was far more worried about the fact that Maisie was now laughing uncontrollably.
Last edited by Gryphon117 on Sun May 05, 2019 3:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Thu Apr 25, 2019 7:22 am

Hiya folks, I'm still not dead. And I even managed to throw a few hours together during this Easter vacations to get some writing done. Shocking, I know! :rolleyes:

Again, sorry the updates have become so infrequent, although I can say that I haven't been completely idle during this past month, either. I've been using those scraps of free time in which I couldn't get into a proper mindspace to write to look back at what I've written so far and refresh a few of the ideas I had, both mentally and physically, since the initial document I started to work from has deviated quite a bit from its original inception and needed some redoing. I've also taken the time to rewrite a few of the story's more questionable passages and rearrange the content and word-count of the chapters as well (the revised story is currently sitting at 22 chapters), and I think the reading is better for it.

I'll try to get another, likely short update done before I get back into the full brunt of work, and from then on we'll go back to writing when I can. I'll also be using that time to continue updating the plot document for all the plot-points that I'll need to change going forward, so if any of you feels like offering some feedback on that, send me a PM and I'll share the document when it's done so you can tell me if my ideas suck or not. ^_^

But for now, enjoy. This scene will mark the end of this chapter and the next will pick up where we left off.

Chapter 11-3  SPOILER: Show
…Shinji was far more worried about the fact that Maisie was now laughing uncontrollably.

“I-I said that…” the young man began, his focus shifting past the irate redhead. Had that joke even been that good?

“I heard what you said, you sassy little ingrate!” the Pilot growled back. “Fine! Be that way! But don’t come crying back to me when you have a problem!”

But in spite of Ace’s huffing and puffing, Shinji’s attention was still entirely on Maisie and the last remnants of her laughing fit, the half-girl rubbing tears out of her eyes that Shinji could have sworn came out as very tiny balls of cotton. All that aside, however, what really shocked the young man to his core was that neither of the other two Aspects appeared at all surprised with Maisie’s outburst, implying that her randomly breaking down into laughter was normal.

‘…Don’t tell me that she’s the one who handles Asuka’s sense of humour.’ Shinji brought the thought to its logical conclusion, finding the resulting idea a very difficult one to swallow. It would explain a few more quirks of the ‘real’ Asuka, though.

Ace then put on a pair of huge headphones in a big show that managed to win back Shinji’s attention and began to fiddle with the console in front of her, and it was at that moment that the Third Child noticed how the computers he had assumed were just like the ones at NERV actually looked nothing like the source material. They actually reminded Shinji of those manipulation toys for toddlers, only ones that had been enlarged and made to look a bit more serious. Probably every bit as resistant, too, because Ace sure looked like she was trying to tear the levers and dials and little lights off her poor console, occasionally sending an incensed glare his way.

‘…Better give her some space.’ The young man wisely decided. His eyes then took a quick appraisal of his own console and concluded that it seemed very similar to Ace’s before he turned his attention upwards, and towards a second and higher platform that overlooked the area he was currently in and which did look exactly as it did in the original NERV. And if that were the case…

“Hey, who’s that seat for?”

“Huh?” the young man heard Asuka stop organising some notes she had apparently manifested out of nowhere.

“Up there. Where… the Commander usually sits,” Shinji clarified, almost biting his father’s rank out as he narrowed his eyes at the platform. “Is that seat used by anyone here?”

“Oh, that one! I dunno. That seat’s been empty for as long as I can remember.”

“So… it’s just a carryover from the original NERV?”

“Maybe,” Asuka responded, going back to her notes and folders. “The funny thing is that there was an important looking seat in all the other versions of HQ, too, for some reason, even if no one’s ever sat on it.”

“Really? Isn’t that-?”

But Shinji never got to finish his question, his eyes almost bulging out of their sockets when he turned his attention at the one that was going to be his assistant. At some point during the last minute Asuka had decided to change her clothes, foregoing the yellow sundress that Shinji had come to associate with her for a blouse and tight mini-skirt combination. A crimson tie, shoes and glasses of the same colour completed the ensemble, and Asuka’ flaming mane had been tied up into a bun at the top of her head, making her appear a bit older. Almost like she were a stereotypical teacher, or a secretary.

“‘Isn’t that’, what?” Asuka asked back, wondering what had made Shinji stop. She then smiled and did a little twirl when she noticed his stare. “Oh! Like it? How do I look?”

“G-G-Good…” Shinji stuttered, quickly looking away. “But why…?”

“Did I change?” Asuka finished with a shrug. “I don’t know, I felt like it. I mean, if the dummy over there is going to keep calling me your secretary I might as well look the part.”

‘I’m pretty sure that actual secretaries don’t really wear that kind of outfit, though…’

The Third Child kept his corrections to himself, however, justifying his actions with the fact that Asuka looked really damn proud of her new look. But it made him wonder whether her choice of clothing had come out of a lack of knowledge or just a desire to tease him, like her sisters had taken to doing.

That last thought forced Shinji to supress a shiver. If this Asuka got used to messing with him too, what little remained of his sanity wouldn’t be able to take it.

“…Never mind.” Making a note of trying to convince Asuka to change clothes again in the future, the young man quickly looked for a shift in topic.

“What’s the situation?” Ace suddenly asked aloud, intruding on their conversation and saving Shinji the effort of finding an excuse. Her voice was all business, and apparently directed at no one in particular.

“Asuka’s still in her room, the same as the last two hours,” Maisie answered back, now wearing the same headphones that Ace had put on a few moments back. “Barely any changes whatsoever.”

“Well, that’s just great,” Ace grumbled, narrowing her eyes at a wide screen situated in the same spot where the holographic tactical map was in the original HQ. The screen was showing an unfamiliar ceiling, and Shinji didn’t need more than a single chance to figure out from whose perspective the white surface was being watched. “That glasses-wearing idiot is starting to become a major pain.”

“Hey, Shinji,” Asuka counselled by his side. “I think you should put on your own headphones.”

“Right!” the young man agreed, quickly taking the red device and putting it over his ears. Much to his surprise, however, no sound, or music or anything at all came out of the headphones, Shinji taking a quick look to confirm that they were plugged to the console and that everything seemed to be in working condition. A quick look at Asuka dashed his doubts, the redhead wordlessly encouraging him to speak a command.

“So…” Shinji hesitated, thinking of what Misato would have said in a situation like that. “Status report?”

And before long, a steady stream of information began to reach Shinji’s ears, courtesy of what sounded like at least a dozen slightly different Asuka voices. Each one gave their report on a different subject, from the things Asuka had been doing since what Shinji supposed was the last update, to what she had felt or thought during the day. The voices came all at once and spoke one over the other but, in spite of that, were still perfectly understandable for some reason.

The wording of the reports was kind of weird, however. Stuff like, ‘Asuka was happy about her synch-results lately,’, ‘Asuka complained of the lack of proper sleep lately,’ or ‘Asuka became sad at being told a bad joke recently.’ It was understandable, but far more detached and less informative than Shinji had expected.

“So Asuka’s angry at… Makinami-san?” the young man deciphered, not at all surprised by the news. “I guess it must be because of something she said. Maybe she’s still mad about that Misato joke she made?”

Shinji posed his question to the area around him, hoping that maybe one of his two co-workers would shed some light on the situation, but neither Ace nor Maisie paid him any mind. They were immersed in their own work, asking for updates and flicking their gazes to the screen from time to time.

“Okay…” the Third Child then asked his secretary, watching the other two Aspects type into their computers. “What now?”

“Now you write a proposal for what Asuka should do!”

“So I just write whatever and she’ll do it?”

“Maybe, maybe not. Remember that we only influence and propose things Asuka could do, the actual decision making is not in our hands.”

“Oh, right. One of you mentioned something about that,” Shinji recalled, a thought then coming to his mind. “And who handles that decision? Is it another ‘you’?”

“I dunno. I think it’s Asuka herself that chooses, but I don’t know for sure,” Asuka replied with a shrug. “You probably know better than me about that, Shinji.”

The young man considered his assistant’s words, comparing what she had proposed to his own experiences. After all, what if all those times when he had felt that he had to make choices or think about things to do, the little Shinjis that maybe lived inside his own head were the ones feeding him possibilities?

‘If they do, they do a pretty crap job most of the time,’ the Third Child thought, amused. ‘No point in thinking about that, though. What should Asuka do in this situation?’

A quick glance with Asuka’s vision reported that it was fairly late in the evening, around the time when Asuka usually had dinner. The most recent reports also gave Shinji more information about his roommate’s situation, like how she was currently living with Ayanami and Makinami-san under some sort of training. It was therefore safe to assume that the other two pilots were somewhere in the apartment.

“She should… go have dinner,” Shinji promptly typed into his console, having reached a decision. “And talk… with the others.”

The Third Child pressed the Enter key and a pop-up window asking him whether he wanted to confirm his proposal appeared in his screen. One quick click of the integrated mouse and a confirmation of his intentions later, and a little Asuka flashing a victory sign showed up on-screen, the words ‘MESSAGE SENT’ floating around her.

After a few seconds the screen changed again: it now showed three teams of Asukas wearing the yellow hardhats that construction workers usually wore, the only difference between them being the colour of their vests. The three teams then began building what appeared to be an Asuka statue each, rising higher and higher while a percentage number at the top did the same. It was obviously some sort of breakdown of Asuka’s decision, since the other two statues had a label below them explaining their proposals, too: ‘Stay inside and go to sleep’ and ‘Come out and put Rei and Mari in their place’.

It wasn’t hard for Shinji to figure out who had proposed what, the young man following the little Asukas with rapt attention as they continued their work in the same manner a comic character would. The whole thing was certainly kinda cute, but also incredibly silly. Almost childish, in fact.

‘…And it sure fits Asuka to a tee.’

But it wasn’t long before the Third Child focused his attention back on his own work. After all, and much to his surprise, ‘his’ Asukas had built the largest statue and were now celebrating at the top. The young man felt a sense of pride within him at his victory, but he didn’t fail to notice the sharp look that came from his right, either.

It was also at that time that Shinji actually stopped to consider what he had asked Asuka to do, finding it to be something that he himself probably wouldn’t have done in her shoes. Funny how his usual hesitation didn’t rear its ugly head when he was making decisions for someone else.

Shinji then watched as Asuka complained about being hungry and rose up from her bed, opening the door of her room and walking with heavy steps towards the kitchen area. Just like Shinji had suspected, Ayanami and Makinami-san were both there working hard on dinner, a feast that looked fairly tasty to the young man’s experienced eyes. It wasn’t anything extravagant by any means, but all the basics were covered and well-seasoned and the meal had been made to look both attractive and appetizing as well. The mark of someone who knew what they were doing.

‘Makinami-san must be a pretty good cook.’ The Third Child noted with approval, not failing to notice the bandages on Ayanami’s fingers that disqualified her for the lion’s share of the work.

Asuka sat down after a bit of grumbling and the trio shared a silent dinner despite Makinami-san’s best efforts, rising up to do the washing up together after they were finished and giving Shinji a fairly good idea (and bad memories) of what Misato was trying to do with her training. Some small talk also sprung up between the three pilots at that point too, nothing important at all but just enough to allow Shinji to learn that apparently their input wasn’t necessary during most conversations, Asuka choosing her own responses by herself.

There were some times in which a bunch of answers would appear on screen like they were some sort of multiple choice test, however, but Ace and Maisie, being a lot more proficient at their jobs than he currently was, would always beat him to them. Before long, Shinji gave up on getting his way on those for the time being and turned towards Asuka, who was eagerly following his progress.

“Now that I think about it,” the young man asked her, his work having brought up a fairly recent memory. “What exactly did you do to get yourself expelled? You never told me.”

And the happy smile that had been adorning Asuka’s face until that moment promptly disappeared to make way for a troubled grimace.

“…Oh, that…”

“Ace said that you ignored the rules and forced Asuka to do something, right?” Shinji continued. “Was it something bad?”

“Well, I mean…” the cheerful aspect sighed, bringing up a hand to grab the bridge of her nose. “I thought it was a good idea at the time, but it’s pretty clear by now that I was wrong.”

“So... what did you do?”

“You’re really not going to let it go, are you?” Asuka groaned, but ultimately relented. “...Fine, fine. You do deserve to know, at this point. Remember that day you went to visit your mother’s grave...?”

And it took Shinji less than half a second to figure out where she was going.

You did that?!”

“I started it, because at that point it was the huge elephant in the room,” Asuka elaborated, motioning with a serious face towards her two others. “But then they decided to try and block me and I was forced into going all-in. The two of them didn’t understand that quitting halfway through would have been an even worse idea, and here we are.”

“B-But why?” the Third Child insisted, thinking back with a grimace of the time when Asuka had demanded the strangest thing out of him. “I mean, you of all people should have known that Asuka doesn’t-”

“Fine, I like the moron,” Asuka’s voice suddenly intruded into Shinji’s reply, coming from the large screen. “And it makes as little sense to me as it does to anyone else in this stupid world. Are you going to get off my case about it, now?”

And the Second Child’s sudden admission left Shinji as flabbergasted as the twin-tailed girl he could see through the monitor. After all, his ears couldn’t possibly have heard that correctly, right? It had to be some sort of trick...


The Third Child immediately sought answers from Asuka right as he heard something that sounded very much like Ace breaking down into a stuttering wreck next to him but, for her part, his secretary merely pointed forward at the screen with another sigh.

“…Because of that.”
Last edited by Gryphon117 on Sun May 05, 2019 3:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Sun May 05, 2019 3:12 am

Chapter 11-4  SPOILER: Show
In turns, Shinji faced towards Asuka and Ace with eyes wide as plates. One of his shaky fingers was pointing at the large screen where the scene continued to play out, the Third Child’s lips moving by themselves but failing to produce any meaningful or understandable words.


Until they did, even if they were still neither meaningful nor understandable.

“Easy, Shinji,” Asuka quickly but gently grabbed hold of the panicking Third Child. “Calm down.”

But her kind efforts only seemed to worsen the situation, Shinji pushing the helping hand away.

“A-A-Are you serious!? How am I supposed to be calm?! This is insane!” the young man exclaimed, still wildly flailing in the direction of the screen. “Did you know about that?!”

“I… didn’t really remember when I first found you, but I guess the blanks sort of slowly filled by themselves without me noticing,” Asuka explained with a slightly pained grimace. “By the time you reached the top of the mountain I had fully figured it out, but… I didn’t know how to let you know, or even if it would have been a good idea to let you know. Guess Asuka decided to make that decision for me, eh?”

“So… i-it’s true, then?”

“Well… I guess,” Asuka shrugged at Shinji’s nervous question. “But if you want some extra confirmation…”

The redhead trailed off and motioned with her head towards where Ace was sitting, looking as if she’d just seen a car crash. Feeling their stares striking her person, the Pilot turned towards Shinji and her face lit up like a flaming ball, the girl quickly turning around once more.

“D-Don’t look at me!” she protested, still looking away. “This is your mess! You explain it!”

“Fine, fine…” Asuka sighed with a roll of her eyes. She then prepared herself for what was likely going to be a long-winded explanation before her eyes caught on to what was going on in the main screen. “…Actually, maybe we can continue this talk a little bit later, Shinji.”

“What? Why?”

“Because I think you should pay some attention to what they are saying now,” Asuka elaborated, handing Shinji his headphones and bringing the boy’s eyes back to the screen. “It sounds important.”

And that was how Shinji got himself a first row seat to a girl talk, a very embarrassing experience that he could have done without. He watched as Makinami-san showed some interest in him and pressed Asuka for details on her recent admission, eventually getting Asuka to spill the beans about the kiss. That alone, and the way in which Asuka told her version about what happened, was enough to put yet more worries in Shinji’s mind, but the most shocking event of the evening came when the First Child made a confession of her own.

‘A-Ayanami, too?!’ the young man thought to himself, still having major trouble believing his ears. He thought he heard Ace grumble something about a Casanova, too, but he was far too busy holding onto his crumbling beliefs to pay it much mind.

Eventually, and almost as if she had heard Shinji’s pleas for mercy and taken pity on him, Makinami decided that the girls should call it a night and left to prepare some drinks that would help them all sleep while Asuka and Ayanami got to setting up the futons. A few minutes later and darkness began to seep into the screen from above and below, covering the entire thing in a short few seconds and prompting it to deactivate once its purpose for the day had been fulfilled.

Asuka had fallen asleep and Shinji couldn’t have been happier to see it, because he truly didn’t think his mind could have taken one more revelation of the same size the last few had been. His hands still shaking a fair bit more than he would have liked, the Third Child took off his headphones and set them on top of the console, his eyes slowly looking around him and taking stock of the situation:

The little worker Asukas continued to run around as if nothing whatsoever had changed, Asuka looked like she was barely holding herself from giving him a hug, and Ace was looking anywhere except in his direction. Worryingly enough, Maisie was nowhere to be seen, but in light of the recent developments, Shinji’s mind promptly put that detail on the ‘handle later’ pile.

Instead, and as the lights in the command room dimmed as if they were signalling an end to the work-shift, the young man turned his confused eyes towards Asuka.

“A-Are you s-serious…?”

“I couldn’t have doctored something like that even at my full capacities. Not that I would have wanted to, anyway,” the redhead confirmed, doing a calming motion with her hands. “But let’s move on with baby steps, alright? You were asking me something before, remember?”

“...Right. Take it slow.” Shinji did as he was told, taking in a few deep breaths before continuing. “...So the day Asuka and I k-kissed was… the day that you were expelled?”

“No, that came later. But what I did that day was the start of everything,” Asuka explained with a sigh. “After all, and even if it was something that I hadn’t planned on, seizing control for myself also meant that I had complete and total responsibility over Asuka’s actions. For a while, I left Ace and Maisie without a job to do.”

“...And that was bad, right?” Shinji ventured, thinking back to his idea about keeping the three aspects in balance.

Also, the young man couldn’t help but feel like there was something different about Asuka. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but it was almost as if she sounded... older?

“It was bad, alright,” Asuka agreed, further confirming Shinji’s suspicions. “I mean, the whole thing sounded nice until I realised that I don’t know the first thing about piloting an Evangelion or handling Asuka’s depressive episodes when they happen. And boy, did Asuka become sad after what I had forced her to do.”

A shadow came over Shinji’s face, the young man remembering Asuka’s sigh of disappointment when she had told the girls about how terrible the kiss had been. He didn’t need to think hard on the reason as to why that could have been.

“…So she regretted kissing me?” Shinji asked, recalling his own pang of guilt and hurt when Asuka had appeared to airily dismiss the whole thing with her gargles in the bathroom.

“No, dummy. Not like you’re probably thinking, anyway,” Asuka gently corrected him. “She got sad because you didn’t kiss her back.”


“Why didn’t you, anyway?” Ace suddenly intruded, reminding everyone about how she was still there, albeit looking at the opposite wall. “I mean, you just stood there like a fish.”

“...I don’t know. I was scared, I guess,” the Third Child defended himself, still reeling from revelation to revelation. “Asuka asking me for a kiss had come out of nowhere and I just... didn’t know what to do. I was sure that she would have gotten angry at me for touching her.”

“And why did you think that?!” Ace protested, finally turning back towards the pair. “A girl literally went and kissed you out of her own volition! That’s about as big an invitation as you can get!”

“An invitation? From someone that was keeping my nose plugged?” Shinji shot back, wide-eyed. Before long, however, that surprise turned to anger. “And what about previous experience for a reason to be afraid? Living with her for months and having Asuka explode at the smallest thing? She used to yell at me for brushing her arm on accident and I was supposed to figure out that at that time, at that specific time, she actually wanted me to hold her?! What kind of screwed up logic is that?!”

“I…” Ace flinched and recoiled back a little bit, before she smoothly transitioned from her faux-pas by standing up from her chair and walking around in circles. Grumbling to herself, the Pilot eventually noticed the meaningful stare that Asuka was throwing her way and narrowed her eyes in response. “…Okay, fine. Point taken, brat.”

And Shinji promptly shifted his attention from one redhead to the other.

“Point? What point is she talking about?”

“Remember all of those mixed messages you were getting from Asuka?” His assistant explained with a motion towards her other. “You’ve got Ace to thank for those.”

“Hey, don’t make it sound like it’s all on me. That other moron helped from time to time, too. It’s not like I was ever on board with the idea to begin with, anyway,” the Pilot shot back, annoyed, her eyes then travelling until her irritation was landing straight on Shinji. “And it’s not my fault that he’s dense as a rock.”

“I’m not dense! When did Asuka ever say that she liked me?!”

“How about that time she told you not to cross the walls of Jericho, you moron?”

“The walls of…” Shinji rolled the familiar name in his mouth for a few moments before he turned to look at Asuka. “Wait, you mentioned them, too. What’s the big deal with those walls? Asuka said that they were impenetrable?”

“The insurmountable walls of Jericho were destroyed as an act of God when Joshua and his Israelite army marched around the city and blew their trumpets. The walls of Jericho are famous not because they were strong, but because they crumbled.”

“What?” Shinji turned Asuka’s words in his head, his expression looking more and more confused by the second. “But that doesn’t make any…”

Until an exasperated Ace flicked him in the forehead.

“She was inviting you into her room, you moron.”

“W-W-What?! She… I… Eh?!” the Third Child senselessly spluttered, the hidden meaning finally sinking into his brain. Just at that moment, however, an important flaw in Asuka’s logic came to the forefront of his mind. “H-Hey, wait a second: why does that make me dense?! How was I supposed to know anything about some old tale from the other side of the world?!”

“You weren’t supposed to.” Ace calmly replied, bringing Shinji’s comeback to a screeching halt.

And the Third Child’s response was to blink. And then blink again, his open mouth failing to serve as the gateway for words as his eyebrows drew ever closer in confusion.

“And stuff like this is why I say that you’re dense, Third,” Ace continued, clearly taking pity on him. “Say, why do you think that I went to all the effort of making it hard for you to understand?”

“…I don’t know,” Shinji replied, finding his tongue once more. “Maybe she was embarrassed?”

“No. That would be because no matter what she says I, and by extent Asuka, have no actual interest in someone that’s just a freaking doormat, Third. And guess who fits that bill?” the Pilot elaborated, crossing her arms in condescendence. “At least most of the time that you’re not in your EVA, anyway.”

“Someone’s been ignoring the readings she didn’t want to read, I see.” Asuka criticised from the back, moving forward until she was standing in front of Ace again.

“The only thing I’ve ignored is teenage hormones doing their thing,” the Pilot scoffed. “You’re the one who’s reading far too much into them, because exactly the same thing that happened with the Third would have happened if we had been forced to live together with just about any other boy on the planet.”

“You know that’s not true.”

“And you know you’re full of shit. We’re fighting a war, defending the planet, being freaking heroes!” Ace shouted back, her arms going up and up with each one of her words until they fell back down, the Pilot almost spitting her next line. “And you’d throw all of that away to play the love-struck damsel at the worst of times.”

“I never said that what we have to do wasn’t important! But ignoring Asuka’s wants just because they don’t fit into your agenda is just irresponsible!”

“Irresponsible? That’s rich, coming from the one that got her this close to losing the achievement of her life!” Ace drew her thumb and index fingers close together, visibly getting angrier and angrier. “And for doing exactly what you just said I shouldn’t, too. Does that bit of hypocrisy taste good?”

“I know I made a mistake,” Asuka argued back, her temper also beginning to flare in a way that convinced Shinji’s instincts to take a step or five back. “I’m just trying to stop you from making another one!”

“Unlike you, I don’t make mistakes,” Ace proclaimed, circling around Asuka and pinning Shinji with her gaze for a second. “But fine, let’s assume for a second that I listen to you: you push for what you want and Asuka gets together with that idiot over there or some other random guy, I don’t care. Everything’s nice and rosy for a while, but then the magic fades, or they get bored of her, or they realise that their picture of the Great Second Child is not what they thought it would be and she’s a lot more work to keep around than she’s worth.

“And then they decide to leave despite Asuka begging them to stay. And then Asuka’s alone and heartbroken and back on square one, having gained absolutely nothing of value from the entire experience except a big pile of regrets. The end.”

“You don’t know for sure that will happen,” Asuka seethed, her hands drawing into tight fists.

“Neither do you know that it won’t,” Ace bit back, “So in the very likely scenario where Asuka finds herself on her own again, what will you do then? Will you go back to crying in your baby farm and make us fix your mess again?”

“No, I won’t. If it happens, that’s life.”

“That’s not life, that’s useless. Like playing Russian roulette and hoping your brains won’t get splattered,” Ace shot back, putting a hand against her chest. “And I’m not up for gambling. If I can’t have a love story that will mean something, then I don’t want one at all.”

Both girls locked eyes and tried to will the other into forfeiting the argument, the clash turning into a silent titanic struggle until, after what had felt like an entire minute, Asuka quietly looked away and towards the floor. Her fists were still shaking, but apparently that was enough for Ace to consider the argument her victory, sending Shinji a brief, serious look as she motioned with her head to Asuka, before the Pilot got ready to leave the room.

But then, and as he got to thinking about how he could cheer his assistant up like Ace apparently wanted him to, Shinji thought he heard Asuka mumble something to herself. And he must have not been alone in thinking that, because Ace paused her steps long enough to turn around and demand some clarification as well.

“What was that, brat?”

“I said that you are the brat!” Asuka suddenly exploded, making both Shinji and her other recoil. “It’s not worth doing because it could go wrong, or because it might end?! Don’t give me that crap! Love doesn’t need to be forever for it to be worth it! And you know that! You’re just using it as an excuse for not trying!”

“An excuse?!” Ace scoffed, quickly getting past her shock and drawing herself up at the challenge. “An excuse she says!”

“Yes, an excuse!” Asuka pressed, moving forward too. “Because what you really are is scared. Scared that if we try and it works, you’ll become unnecessary the moment Asuka finds something to focus her life on that’s not EVA! But if only you’d understand that-!”

And it was then that Shinji heard a thunderous strike that cut off whatever it was that Asuka had wanted to say. The cracking thunder had come straight from a plugsuited fist, its contact with Asuka’s left cheek sending the redhead flying against the back wall and leaving her in a crumpled heap, apparently unharmed but groaning in discomfort.

“I… I’m not scared,” Ace then declared to her fallen opponent, in a voice that was as shaky as her extended fist. “And I’m not going anywhere.”
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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