An Insider's Look

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:29 pm

Sorry these last couple of updates are taking so long to come out, people. Busy days and all that. :uhh:

Chapter 14-3  SPOILER: Show
“WHY DID YOU STOP ME?!”

The Third Child cringed at the sheer volume of the question, wishing that he had been able to plug his ears and keep the strident screech away. His hands were far too busy to do something like that, though, trying to both calm down and covertly push away the angry Pilot with a vice grip on the neck of his shirt.

“Because it wouldn’t have solved anything, probably.” Asuka tried to support him from the side, even if Shinji couldn’t help but notice that his self-appointed assistant wasn’t rushing to his help like she usually did. Perhaps she wasn’t in complete agreement with his actions, either.

“You stay out of this! I want to hear the reason coming out of his mouth!”

“I-It’s as she said. I... don’t like what Makinami did, either, whatever it is, but those people were carrying guns,” Shinji did as requested, fighting back his urge to swallow when Ace’s blue eyes went back to fixating on him. Her hold on the immediate area around his neck didn’t tighten, however, so the Third Child took that as a vague invitation to continue. “Besides, there’s also the problem that we don’t know what’s going on, so... I think we should hear her side of the story, first?”

“Sure. But why not listen to her explanations after I’d punched the stupid glasses off her stupid face?!” Ace demanded, her irritation growing ever worse when Shinji’s look turned doubtful. “What? You got something to say?!"

“C-Calm down, Ace. You weren’t going to punch her.”

“O-Oh yeah?! And why’s that, you smartass? You didn’t look half as sure when you grabbed my arm before!”

“Well, yeah, but... that’s exactly it,” the Third Child elaborated, as carefully as if he were talking to a hungry lion. “We both know that you could have sent me flying across the room if you had really wanted to.”

Ace blinked in contemplation before one of her eyebrows rose above the other, not taking long to realise that the boy had a point. Without a vote that he could influence, there was close to nothing that Shinji could do to stop any of her own initiatives.

‘Which means that I basically exposed myself, didn’t I?’ the redhead thought with a frown, letting go of Shinji’s shirt. Ace then turned around and scurried off to the front of the bridge, mumbling to herself about ‘stupid Third Children that thought they knew her so well’ as she stared at the data on display with rapt attention. Arms crossed and a childish scowl on her face, the Pilot would occasionally throw a covert glance back at Shinji and get caught every time, her comically overblown anger getting worse and worse each time.

The Third Child couldn’t help a small smile at the sight. For all of her bravado, Ace truly was a caring girl.

‘If only these cute moments weren’t overshadowed by her temper...’ the Third Child then thought with a sigh.

“Well, well, that wasn’t half bad. I might have to start calling you ‘Fix-It Shinji’ or something along those lines,” Asuka praised him from the side, a bright smile paired to her sing-song voice. “‘For when you need a problem to just go away!’”

“Haha... I think you’re giving me far too much credit.”

“I don’t think so, you handled that beautifully.” Asuka’s assurances were brief before her tone turned meaningful. “Unless you believe that you’re to blame in any way, shape or form for what happened with Mari?”

Shinji’s smile became hollow, the young man’s eyes turning to look at the same reports that Ace was scanning. Even if the speed at which they scrolled past made it so that he could not tell the specifics of most of them, the negative trend was both obvious and very worrying.

“...I did push for Asuka to become friendly with her. In a way, this whole situation is my-”

“Stop that thought. What you did was perfectly natural and exactly the thing that Asuka needed at the time,” Asuka cut him off, gentle but firm. “Mari just blindsided all of us, no one could have seen that coming. If anything, she should be to blame for taking advantage of your kindness.”

“...I guess,” Shinji admitted, sounding like he didn’t fully believe his own words.

“Don’t guess, be damn sure of it. Buuut I bet there’s something else on your mind, too.”

“Yeah. I’m also worried about Ayanami.”

This time, it was his assistant who couldn’t help herself from flinching.

“...Right, me too,” Asuka replied, all cheer gone from her voice. “I don’t know what that Angel was doing to her, but it sounded horrible. And her EVA...”

The redhead trailed off, both because she didn’t want to finish her sentence and the sound of approaching stomps had caught her attention.

“Hey, what are you two looking all down for?” Ace demanded, hands on her hips. “The First will be fine! She looks frail, but she has survived a lot of stuff already, hasn’t she? Besides, there’s no way one of my Valkyries is biting the dust that easily!”

A sigh escaped Asuka. The girl’s eyes then shifted to the side and noticed that, despite Ace’s best intentions, Shinji wasn’t feeling particularly encouraged, either.

“You could learn how to use a bit of tact every so often, you know?”

“But nothing’s going to happen to her! I’m sure of it! Why waste time worrying about the First when we could be thinking about how to kick that Angel’s ass, instead? I want my revenge, dammit!” A sudden alarm tone brought Ace’s attention to back to the main screen, the Pilot quickly producing a tablet-like device out of thin air. “Oh, wonder what’s... Oh, come on!”

“Something wrong?” Shinji inquired.

“Many somethings! Argh, when it rains it pours!” the redhead grumbled, stomping towards her workstation. “I’ll see you two later.”

“You’re... leaving?”

“Yeah, there are a lot of problems right now, which means that I’ve got a lot of problems right now,” Ace responded, grabbing a few assorted tools from her work area before she noticed Shinji’s curious stare. The Pilot elaborated with a sigh: “Most of the rifts that we patched up immediately after you... vanished, have opened up again. I can’t leave them like that, so I’m going to be plenty busy until we need to sortie again.” The redhead brought a hand up to her head in frustration. “Argh! They’re going to be a pain to fix even with the cynical moron doing rounds, too!”

“Anything I can help with?”

Ace paused, judging Asuka’s unexpected proposal with cynical eyes. It was clear by the Pilot’s face alone and their previous history what she thought of the idea but, eventually, Ace motioned forward with her hand, her mouth set in a serious line.

“...Well, beggars can’t be choosers, I guess. Come with me, but don’t you leave my sight.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Asuka acknowledged, deadpan. “Your massive amounts of trust are humbling.”

“Zip it, brat,” the Pilot shot back. She then pointed an accusing finger back at Shinji. “And you, make yourself useful and talk to us. See if you can bring this whole crisis down a notch.”

“Eh... okay? I don’t mind, but...” the Third Child half-agreed, in a mousy tone that implied he very much did mind. “I’m... not sure Asuka wants to talk with me, right now. She was pretty angry, remember?”

Ace paused in her preparations and turned back around to face Shinji, eyes narrowed into slits. A dangerous smile then appeared on her face, prompting the Third Child to swallow heavily. He already knew where this was going.

Slowly, Ace stepped forward. Quickly, Shinji stepped back.

“You bet she was pissed. But, you know what? I am sure that she will absolutely, definitely and without a doubt not want to speak to the only remaining pillar of stability she has at the moment.” In the blink of an eye, Ace was right in front of the Third Child, re-grabbing him by the neck of his shirt and shaking him like a rag doll. “ARE YOU STUPID OR WHAT?!

“Y-Y-Yes?”

“Good answer! Now grow that spine of yours and start encouraging!” Ace demanded, turning Shinji towards the front of the bridge and strengthening his resolve with a swift and loving kick to the rear. “And look a little bit more confident, for God’s sake! There’s no way she’ll believe you if you don’t believe in what you’re saying!”

“But-”

“No buts! Ayanami will be fine. You’ve known her the longest so just... believe in her!”

“Wow, I never thought I’d hear you saying the word ‘believe’ this many times in quick succession.”

“I said zip it, brat!” Ace swiftly bit out at her other’s cheery quip, before she threw the toolbox in her direction, Asuka barely managing to catch the projectile while keeping her balance. Whatever objections Shinji’s assistant could have had were then promptly squashed by the grumpy Pilot grabbing her by the arm and forcefully dragging her away. “We’re going, Third! Hold the fort until we return.”

“Eep!” Asuka barely had the time to turn around and wave goodbye with her free appendage, her voice quickly fading away from the bridge. “Y-You can do it, Shinji! Just remember, think before you taaaaaalk!”

“Easy for you to say,” Shinji half-complained with a deep sigh when the voice was no longer audible. Still, he knew that, in a way, Ace was right. He had promised to help Asuka in her times of need and nothing would come out of running away from the inevitable, anyway.

With a slow and thoughtful gait, Shinji walked back to his terminal and sat down in his chair. He stared at the mess of reports on the main screen, continuing to scroll past far too quickly for his eyes to truly follow, and propped his elbows on top of the desk, his hands joining together in front of his face. For a few minutes, and as he tried to control the anxiousness that threatened to take over, Shinji thought hard about what his choice of words should be...

...But, as usual, his contemplations were rewarded with no actual ideas about how to deal with a dangerously irritable Asuka Langley-Sohryu.

“...Well, here goes nothing,” the Third Child ultimately decided, running against every warning that his mind was throwing at him. The young man relaxed in his seat, prodded for the now familiar connection, and put on the bravest face he could muster. “A-Asuka?”
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 Mar 16, 2020 4:40 pm

Chapter 14-4  SPOILER: Show
Asuka Langley-Sohryu scanned the area around Unit-02 with an angry frown on her face, noting for the umpteenth time how nothing seemed to have changed since her last check: technicians scurried all about the gantry fixing the battle damage that the EVAs had received, engineers made sure that those below them in the pecking order didn’t get a moment’s rest, and Mr. Monotone and Mr. Casual continued to stand guard outside of Unit-02, chatting about stupid stuff like they always did in a thinly-veiled attempt to make the Second Child feel like nothing was wrong.

It wasn’t working. She still felt like punching the grin off every single one of their faces. Starting with the Stupid Four-Eyes.

“A-Asuka?”

A sudden voice broke the girl out of her bitter musings, a large part of her happy to hear the voice of Unit-01’s former pilot. Asuka got comfortable in her seat and made ready to gladly accept any opportunity to both stave off her boredom and keep her thoughts away from her other teammate, but it was at that time that the redhead recalled why things had been so quiet between her and Shinji for the last hour.

The angry mask returned in full force.

‘What do you want?’

“I’m-”


‘Goddammit, Third!’ Asuka cut him off with a snarl. ‘If you say you’re sorry, I swear I’ll find some way to ram my foot up your ass so hard you’ll taste my soles!’

“I’m… glad you sound better?” Shinji finished, perplexed, and the Second Child felt like kicking herself in the brief silence that ensued. Had she really just pre-emptively snapped at the one time the boy hadn’t needlessly apologised? “Since… you know. Earlier you sounded like you were about to-”

‘A-About to what?!’ once again, the redhead didn’t allow him to finish. ‘About to come up with the best way to give that idiot a piece of my mind! That’s what you’re implying, right?’

“…I guess,” Shinji eventually agreed, correctly guessing that the elephant in the room shouldn’t be mentioned. “You do have a good reason to be angry with her.”

‘Ah, so now you’re agreeing with me. Where was all that understanding earlier?’

“It didn’t go anywhere. Do I really have to tell you why what you were thinking wasn’t a smart idea?”


‘And why the hell not?’ Asuka scoffed back. ‘What can they do to me?’

“Lock you in the EVA until further notice, probably…?” Shinji confidently began, before promptly he realised that his hypothetical threat was exactly what had happened, anyway. “Look, I’m not arguing that Makinami probably deserves a… talk at some point. It’s just that…”

The Third Child’s sentence trailed off, causing his host to narrow her eyes at a nondescript point of the plug.

‘It’s just that… what?’


“It’s just that… you know. If you want to… talk about it before actually punching anyone, remember that… y-you can tell me,” Shinji eventually elaborated, stumbling all the way through. At the end, his words took on a blatantly fake cheery tone. “I-I mean, it’s not like I’m going anywhere, eh?”

Something that earned him a raised eyebrow and an almost incredulous remark.

‘…Was that supposed to be a joke?’

“I… y-yeah,” the young man lamely replied, failing to hide his embarrassment. “It was a bad joke, wasn’t it? I-I’m s-”

‘No! It wasn’t…’ Asuka hurriedly half-corrected herself, cutting off the Third Child’s actual apology in the process. ‘Well, actually it was a pretty bad attempt, but it’s just that… I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you tell a joke.’

The other side of the connection went silent for a few seconds following the misunderstanding. It was now Shinji’s turn to be incredulous.

“…No way.”


‘Yes way!’
the redhead insisted, almost starting to count with her fingers before she realised it could look suspicious from the outside. ‘I’ve heard you being a doormat, or whiny, or annoying, and more recently a bit sarcastic, but attempts at terrible humour are something new!’

“I… Maybe you’re right,” Shinji agreed, just as surprised himself, before his words began to go down a more sombre path that the Second Child didn’t fail to notice. “It’s just that Kensuke and… Toji always joke around like that when they think I’m having a bad day. It just felt like the right thing to do.”

‘So you decided to bring out the old joke book because I was looking depressed?’ Asuka ventured with a smirk. ‘Wow, I must have been in a really deep dump if you had to take that kind of drastic measures.’

“Not deep enough if you’re laughing at me like that,” the young man grumbled back, the hints of sadness that had been in his voice swiftly overriden.

‘You’re right, I am feeling a bit better now,’ Asuka’s smirk morphed into a wide grin. ‘So how about another terrible joke to make me feel even better, eh, Third?’

And the groan that reached her from the other side only made said grin become even larger.

“…I knew I shouldn’t have opened my mouth.”


‘What’s wrong? Is the wittle Shinji angwy?’

“I’m not angry, Asuka,” Shinji shot back, doing an awful job of not sounding indignant. “And I’m older than you are.”

‘Not where it matters you aren’t!’


“…Whatever.” The young man finally sighed, in a way that made it very clear he was absolutely done with the topic. His voice sounded hard enough that it even gave Asuka pause, the redhead suddenly fearful that she might have taken things a bit too far in her attempts to lighten the mood.

‘Hey, Shinji…’ she began, uncaring for how insecure she sounded. ‘You’re... not really angry at me, are you?’

The two seconds of silence that followed felt like an eternity.

“...No, I’m not angry at you, Asuka.”


‘Good!’ Asuka replied, relief washing over her. The girl’s tongue then continued to work before she could think of stopping it. ‘…I mean, I still haven’t told you… you know...

...

‘...Thank you. For cheering me up.’


“I... A-Anytime, Asuka.” The Third Child quickly mumbled, before he went quiet for a moment. A few chuckles reached the redhead shortly after.

‘Hey, what’s so damn funny?’

“Nothing. It’s just... I remembered how you said that I’ve never told you a joke, and I just noticed that this is the first time I’ve heard you say... thanks. I just thought it was funny...”

The Third Child’s words gave Asuka pause once more. Was this really the first time she had thanked Shinji? For anything? Sure, they’d had their ups and downs over the months, but there had been some good times in their relationship when the occasional ‘thank you’ wouldn’t have been unwarranted. It was perplexing to realise that it had never happened.

A bit sad, too.

‘...and kinda cute, too.’


Asuka Langley-Sohryu went very still, wondering whether her ears, her mind or whatever part of her body was responsible for letting her interact with the Third Child was betraying her. Had she just heard Shinji Ikari call her ‘cute’? In that weird and wobbly tone that she had since learned meant he had been thinking it? The both of them had grown accustomed enough to their situation that unintended messages going through wasn’t a thing that happened often anymore but, rash implications aside, it was still pretty obvious to Asuka that she had not been supposed to hear that.

“Asuka? Is something wrong?” Shinji’s somewhat startled words at her reaction did nothing but reinforce that notion.

‘No! Nothing’s wrong! H-Hey, so tell you what!’ Asuka banished any further thought on the topic with a shake of her head. ‘Since it looks like we’re going to be stuck here for a long, long time, how about I share with you a few jokes from my repertoi-’

“Unit-02, do you read me?” a voice suddenly intruded into the proposal and Asuka’s expression curled up in disgust, briefly glad that the channel that had just opened was sound only. Ritsuko Akagi wasn’t the person she had been looking forward to hearing from the most, let alone be the one to interrupt her… enjoyable time with the Third Child.

...At least she wouldn’t be able to tell that her face didn’t currently sport its natural colour.

“…I read you. Where’s Misato?”

“Major Katsuragi is occupied elsewhere at the moment, and I’m in charge of bridge operations.”

‘Wonderful.’


“That’s great to know,” Asuka replied, quickly throwing all pretence out the window. “And what’s this about? You want to know my status? If so, I’m currently engaged in being bored out of my brain.”

“I see. Hopefully, my request will put a stop to that,” the Doctor continued, unflappable as always. “I wanted to get your insight into the last engagement.”

Asuka’s eyes zeroed in on the floating square, which would have certainly combusted into ashes had it been flammable.

“…What? You’re going to tell me I fucked up?”

“Far from it. The successful retrieval of Unit-00 was not something I had envisioned following the Angel’s invasion attempt. If anything, you surpassed my expectations,” Ritsuko’s praise sounded earnest, a fact that threw the Second Child somewhat off balance. “That is precisely why I wanted to speak with you. I have all the information the MAGI have collected at my disposal, but its usefulness towards forming our next strategy is limited without the input of someone with experience in our brand of military affairs. Usually, the Major would fill that role but, as I mentioned, she is currently busy. Hence, why I turn to you.”

Asuka fell silent, checking the proffered explanation through her Bullshit-o-Meter and not really certain about what she could make of the results. On the one hand, this was her one remaining nemesis in HQ speaking but, on the other, she had received the ever-elusive commendation of her efforts. That wasn’t something that could just be ignored.

“Alright, fine. Sounds important enough, I guess,” the redhead ultimately relented. “Can I get a bathroom break before we start, though?”

“No need. The Entry Plug’s filtering systems will make quick work of any waste within,” Ritsuko’s explaining tone turned somewhat curious towards the end. “You know that.”

“Yeah, I know that,” Asuka echoed in annoyance. “But I also know that the waste I need to let go of isn’t just of the liquid variety, and I’m not going to be breathing LCL that’s been smeared in… that.”

An uncomfortable silence followed, the Second Child imagining Ritsuko’s expression and taking a small amount of pride in knowing that she had finally managed to leave the good Doctor speechless. Granted, doing so with the equivalent of a kindergarten dirty joke wasn’t the most prestigious thing ever, but Asuka would still happily take every victory she could take.

“...Denied. I am sorry, but HQ is not currently in a state that would allow us to send our lone remaining Pilot out of the EVA gantries unescorted,” Ritsuko mercilessly shot the request down but, again, the Second Child was surprised to notice how uncharacteristically cordial she sounded. “After all, it is exceedingly likely that the next time you go up to fight the Angel you will do so on your own. We cannot take any further risks at this point, minute as they may seem.”

The Second Child found herself blinking in silence. Her mind had been so saturated in trying to keep up with all the events of the last hour, that the more direct consequences of said events still had not managed to make it to the forefront of her thoughts. At that moment Asuka couldn’t stop her mind from going back to the last two times that she had faced an Angel by herself and the girl barely managed to suppress a shudder, her need for a bathroom break quickly all but forgotten.

“I’m... really going back by myself?” the redhead’s query, made with a sliver of voice, sounded more like pleading than a request for confirmation.

“As I said, it’s exceedingly likely,” Ritsuko tactfully supplied. “The First Child is in the medical ward and the Fifth Child has gone rogue. Not that the latter’s current state would change anything, considering that the repairs to Unit-01’s arms have an optimistic completion estimate of several hours and...”

The Doctor trailed off into a deep sigh that spoke volumes of her own workload at the time, realising that the direction of her explanation was going nowhere useful.

“...that is precisely why we need you at full combat capacity, Second-” Ritsuko paused for an instant, her following words eliciting a raised eyebrow from Asuka. “...Miss Sohryu. It is no exaggeration to say that the fates of everyone both present and not rest squarely on your shoulders.”

“...Way to pile on the pressure.”

“I am aware of that,” Ritsuko calmly replied to the redhead’s half-hearted snark attempt. “But ignoring the issue at hand would help no one.”

“It really wouldn’t, yeah.” Try as she might, Asuka couldn’t dispute the logic. Instead, she decided to pursue another line of questioning. “…How is Ayanami? Will she recover?”


>-O]|[O-<​


Doctor Akagi mulled her response for a few moments, excusing herself with a made-up report that needed to be checked. Sohryu’s question was a tricky one to answer; after all, the First Child’s importance to all the parties involved in the great game was far more critical than she could ever imagine, in one way or another. Before any decisions could be made, however, the facts needed to be properly arranged and analysed:

Due in no small part to the swift decisions of her two teammates during the battle, the First Child’s eventual recovery was possible, almost a certainty, even. But not even NERV’s medical advances could waive the extended hospitalisation that such an effort would require, a period of time that, knowing the alternatives, would surely prove far too long for the Commander’s precious scenario. In fact, had he not been holed up in his own office, Ritsuko was certain that Ikari would have already taken steps towards making a new Rei, a copy of the First Child whose last memory backup was nearing its thirty day anniversary.

‘...Far before any of the most recent events,’ the Doctor quickly realised. ‘She would have no knowledge of the Third being missing, no insight as to the changes happening in HQ and... no recollection of ever having interacted with the Second or Fifth in any meaningful way.’

Ritsuko did some quick calculations on what Ayanami’s possible substitution using her current backup could mean for the future, finding little to no positive outcomes that would come from it. After all, Ikari would have his ace in the hole back in pristine condition, ready to do his bidding just as she was designed to. Granted, that specific line of speculation relied on the Commander still being in a position of power when the entire fiasco was over, but even if he wasn’t in Command of NERV and merely a prisoner, there would be little that could stop Rei from taking him to Terminal Dogma when the day came, if she so wished.

On the other hand, the possibility of backing up the First Child’s consciousness before the body swap was also open. Ritsuko was confident that said plan would do no favours to the Commander’s position, but it was hard to tell if the development would be helpful to the plans of her benefactors, either. It was true that the girl had appeared livelier following Makinami’s influences and her self-designated ‘Power of Friendship’, but the First Child was still nowhere near what Ritsuko would call autonomous and a decision to carry on with her purpose when the time came was still a very real possibility.

‘In that light, the elimination of the variable makes the most pragmatic sense,’ Ritsuko considered, her mind going back to the first time she had properly spoken to her benefactors. ‘Destroy all the clones and either keep the First Child under heavy sedation for as long as necessary or... kill her under the guise of a worsening medical situation.’

And it wasn’t difficult for the Doctor to predict what course of action Legion would likely decide on: Unit-00 had been damaged to the point that repairs made no practical sense, turning its former Pilot into little more than a liability for them. Makinami would likely object to her elimination, but whether her opinion would be influential enough, especially after the day’s events, was a difficult variable to ascertain.

‘But, perhaps, if Makinami’s position could be reinforced in some manner...’


Ritsuko’s eyes came to rest on the psychograph of Asuka Langley-Sohryu. The chaos within had barely subsided in the last few minutes and it was very unlikely that it would do so on its own before the Sixteenth resumed its advance. Even if it did, news of the First Child’s demise would be very likely to worsen their only active Pilot’s mental stability, leaving her open for another downward spiral in the future and headquarters defenceless against the Seventeenth’s eventual arrival.

‘That alone should be a fairly compelling, if risky, argument in favour of sparing Ayanami’s life,’ the Doctor determined, somewhat amused at the contrarian conclusion that she had reached. It wasn’t one that she would have even remotely considered two months ago. ‘...Good grief, Ritsuko. When did you become so damn sentimental? Did Sohryu’s struggles get to you that much, or was it Makinami’s silly team building exercise, the reminder that these are kids we’re dealing with that finally did it?

‘In any case, whatever you decide to do, the window of opportunity to act is now.’

“...The diagnosis has been positive,” Ritsuko finally replied into the open channel, startling the Second Child if her gasp was to be any indication. “The First Child will make a full recovery.”

“Eh?! That’s... great! Yeah, great!” Sohryu happily exclaimed, prompting the Doctor to raise an eyebrow in slight surprise. The young Pilot then continued to herself, in a volume of voice that she probably thought inaudible to those on the other end of the line. “...Fine, then. I just have to kick that asshole Angel’s non-existent butt so that Ayanami can take her time to recover. Then we can both go and kick that other idiot’s butt. Teach her a lesson she won’t forget.”

Ritsuko pretended to not hear Sohryu’s more confident sounding mutterings, choosing to instead take another look at the psychograph readings: they appeared a bit more stable. The variation hadn’t been massive and likely wouldn’t have a great effect in the coming battle, but looking at the situation they found themselves in, Ritsuko was more than willing to skew their odds by even the most marginal of amounts. Anything to see another day.

Satisfied, the Doctor left the Second Child to her own devices for the moment. There was still one more thing that needed to be done, and only one person she trusted to properly take care of it.

“Maya,” Ritsuko whispered into the ear of her protégé, making her jump a little bit. “There is something I need you to do.”
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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

Gryphon117
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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Fri Apr 24, 2020 9:35 am

Well, it's been a while. I'd like to say that this update took so long to write because working from home has wrecked my usual routine but, even if there is a bit of truth to that, late March/early April being a very good month for gaming likely has had a lot more of an impact on my tardiness. Needless to say, a lot of hours have been recently spent in worlds completely unrelated to EVA. Also, I watched the last season of JoJo too and I can't say I was particularly impressed by it, to be honest.

In any case, I'll try to have the next update not take a full month to come out.

Chapter 14-5  SPOILER: Show
It was three hours after the Angel disengaged that the invading forces made it into the command room, carrying combat shields and primed guns fully ready for a fight that never happened. Following Major Katsuragi’s directives to the letter, none of the techs and engineers present in the gargantuan room dared to waste their lives on a doomed battle and raised their arms in surrender, many of them pre-emptively so when the presence of soldiers on the other side of the door became obvious. Such a show of submission didn’t stop the sergeant in charge from barking orders at everyone, however, making certain that everyone present remained sitting and still and that the soldiers in their command drop their guard for a single moment.

The tense minutes that followed came to a stop with the arrival of a second group, the leading figure ordering the soldiers to lower their weapons and motioning for the rest of their retinue to follow in the climb to the command room’s main floor. The second group of soldiers struggled to carry a large coffer up the stairs, panting and growling obscenities under their breaths until they set it down at its destination with a heavy thud. Without a hint of pity for the plight of their grunts, the officer in command, a Lieutenant by what looked to be UN military rank markings, ordered the coffer open and its contents assembled. Finally, the officer turned to regard Ritsuko.

“We need a connection to the MAGI,” they plainly stated in heavily accented English, and Akagi’s otherwise patient expression shifted by a raised eyebrow.

“What for?” she replied in her own personal version of the language. “I was under the impression that you already had one.”

“We need an actual connection, a physical one. It will be necessary for the new Commander to properly take over.”

“Hmm. That thing inside the box is this so-called ‘new Commander’, I presume?”

“Yes, it is. It’s good to see that your genius wasn’t exaggerated,” the officer shot back with battle-weary sarcasm. “But if you’ll excuse me, Doctor, I’m not here to answer your questions. Unlock the MAGI, and I’m sure that the Commander will be more than willing to chat with you.”

“Very well,” Ritsuko agreed, refraining from voicing a scathing comeback. “But first, I will ask that you take off your helmets. UN markings or not, hiding your identities is making the crew more restless than they already were.”

The Lieutenant scanned the crowds for a moment, finding to no real shock that everywhere their eyes went the civilian technicians would quickly look away or do their best to hide under their desks without appearing too obvious, if they hadn’t already gone into hiding from the very beginning of the breach. Akagi had a point, and their orders were very specific about keeping good relations with the residents.

“...Fair enough,” the officer eventually agreed with a hint of annoyance in their voice. They then took off their helmet to reveal a hardened woman’s face in her late twenties or early thirties, with hints of pale blonde in her military style haircut and a piercing gaze of icy blue. Her rough features and demeanour spoke of a likely origin in the Baltic hot zones, or perhaps even further east into Russia. The rest of the soldiers present followed suit, revealing a multitude of ethnicities and skin colours from all over the world behind the armoured visors, as well as a wide range of satisfaction with the order to lay bare.

“I am First Lieutenant Tasha Zakharova, UN Special Ops detachment. We apologise for the way we entered, but we couldn’t take any chances considering the situation,” the newly unveiled Lieutenant spoke, as soothingly as she could muster. It was clear that she wasn’t a people person. “The Commander will elaborate further on the day’s events, but I want to stress that no harm will come to any non-combatants present in the base. Our business is solely with the transgressions of Commander Ikari and Sub-Commander Fuyutsuki.”

The words, delivered without a microphone or any other voice amplifying device, contributed to their feeling of power by echoing slightly throughout the gargantuan chamber. The placating message, however, was not lost on those crew who were somewhat fluent in the English language, the not so gifted companions turning to those who had understood for clarification. Before long, the people who had barricaded themselves behind their terminals slowly began to come out, the process helped by a few friendly waves from what appeared to be the more outgoing members of the invading group, and some degree of normalcy returned to the work of the command room. The wariness remained, but a faint sense of relief was steadily returning to the room. Satisfied, Tasha turned back to Akagi.

“Now, about the MAGI?”

The Lieutenant’s line was more a demand than a question. Her patience was clearly wearing thin, a fact that caused Aoba and Hyuga to unsubtly shy away from the overbearing foreign newcomer. They then wordlessly asked for direction from the only person in the room that continued to appear unfazed by the entire situation.

“Open it up,” Ritsuko acquiesced, motioning with her head towards the long haired bridge operator. “And Aoba, please help these nice people take care of their business down there, will you?”

The guitar-loving man visibly cringed, but accepted the orders without further protest. He keyed in a command in his terminal before stepping down towards the lower levels with a small retinue of soldiers, the three towers of the MAGI slowly rising up in the background. Tasha followed them with her eyes, a deep scowl forming on her face.

“My technicians are skilled enough to work on the MAGI without a chaperone.”

“Absolutely out of the question. Even if it weren’t a supercomputer unlike any other in the world, the MAGI is an irreplaceable family heirloom. I will not allow anyone to tamper with it without supervision. Will that be a problem?”

“...I suppose it can be allowed.” The Lieutenant relented, quickly identifying a battle that she wasn’t going to win. She quickly ordered a pair of soldiers in the background to begin the setup operations and, before long, metres of cabling began to be placed along the route to the MAGI. Tasha left her troops to their work and hardened her gaze to look once more upon her temporary kingdom, quickly going back to a discrepancy in her reports that she had identified as soon as she arrived at the top floor. “One more thing, Akagi.”

“What is it?”

“I was under the impression that the upper echelon of the bridge crew consisted of three people, however, I can’t help but notice that only two men are up here,” Tasha motioned meaningfully to the empty seat in the centre. “Where is the last person?”

Ritsuko followed the Lieutenant’s hand to Maya’s vacant terminal, then turned back to supervise the MAGI with a careless shrug.

“Oh, the third one is currently running an errand for me.”

“Is that so? What sort of errand?”

“The sort that won’t prove to be any kind of hindrance whatsoever,” the Doctor replied without an answer, moving to check her watch. “In fact, I’d expect that you will hear from her shortly.”



>-O]|[O-<​



Maya’s hands shook as she checked the First Child’s straps to make certain that she was still firm and stable in the wheelchair. Taking Rei out of the hospital wing had not been difficult once the doctors in charge of the First Child heard that she was on Ritsuko’s orders, but even with a blanket draped on top of the girl’s unconscious body to hide her identity, walking around the occupied hallways of NERV HQ had the young woman very on edge. No soldier so far had questioned her explanations while she was in the medical ward, but now that she had left that area their stares had turned more inquisitive and their hands had travelled closer to their guns...

...or that was the impression Maya got, anyway. She had never enjoyed the thought of weapons in the first place and having so many of them around her during the last hour had done little good for her sanity.

“O-Okay, calm down, Maya. Your heart’s about to burst, but you’re doing this for Senpai and for Rei-chan,” Maya used her breather to take a peek at the state of her patient beneath the blanket. She was still heavily sedated, the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest as she breathed proving the only sign of life, and the tendrils that had appeared during the Angel fight, even if apparently dormant, had not receded at all. Knowing her Senpai as she did, Maya already had a feeling that she had been lying through her teeth during her conversation with Asuka, but seeing Rei’s pitiful state firsthand... Maya just couldn’t imagine what her Senpai could possibly do to keep her word. “...Hold on just a little bit more. I will get you to that place Senpai talked about and then... and then she will make it all better, I promise.”

Her convictions reignited, Maya allowed the blanket to fall back in place and resumed her journey. It was only a couple of minutes later that the young woman arrived at the intersection that would lead her to one of the restricted elevators going further down, from where she could hear the faint sounds of a conversation. It was likely a checkpoint, she reasoned, before Maya steeled herself and stepped down the hallway.

It wasn’t long before she was spotted and made to stop by two large men.

“Sorry, miss, but this area’s restricted,” one of the soldiers firmly stated while stepping closer to her, his teammate keeping a close eye on Maya. “I’m gonna have to ask that you come with us.”

And, just like that, Maya’s fragile determination crumbled under the sight of the soldier walking towards her, their weapons not pointed at her but ready to shoot in the case that she did something suspicious. Or something that could have been taken as suspicious. Or something that could have accidentally been misunderstood as suspicious.

“I’m...” the young woman stumbled, her eyes never leaving the man’s rifle. “I-I’m...”

“Miss, are you alright?” the soldier inquired, identifying where Maya’s eyes had travelled and quickly putting his hands up in a placating gesture. “Look, I know this is intimidating, but we’re telling you to come with us for your own good. It could get dangerous out here and...”

The man continued his attempts at soothing Maya, but she wasn’t listening, her eyes still glued to the gun. How close had they gotten to these soldiers shooting their rifles at everyone in sight? How close could they still get to that? How likely was it that she would still... have to shoot at these people, too? Could she force herself to pull the trigger when the target was flesh and blood and not some paper outline of a person?

The soldiers sounded fairly young, likely no older than thirty, but Maya suspected that they wouldn’t have the same qualms that she did if the need arose. But it was then that it hit her: her Senpai’s decision had been to entrust Maya with a way of making that terrible possibility less likely to occur. She couldn’t disappoint her, she couldn’t disappoint Rei-chan and, perhaps more importantly, she couldn’t disappoint herself. Closing her eyes, Maya forced herself to break contact with the man-made tool for taking lives and took a deep breath.

“I-I’M HERE UNDER REQUEST FROM DOCTOR RITSUKO AKAGI!!!”

...

“...Ouch,” the soldier cringed, turning towards his teammate when he made sure that his ears still functioned. “Ritsuko Akagi? Isn’t she that big shot scientist we were told to keep on side?”

“That’s her, alright,” the other soldier confirmed, motioning with his head towards the wheelchair. “Does the person under that have anything to do with your request?”

Maya slowly nodded, still too spent for words.

“Then we’re gonna have to take that blanket off. I’m sure you can tell why.”

Maya nodded again and reached for the bottom of the blanket, slowly pulling it back until it was gathered at the back of the wheelchair and Rei was fully visible.

“That’s one of the Pilot kids,” the soldier that was closest quickly identified her. “The First, I think.”

“Rei-chan’s badly hurt,” Maya confirmed, her voice still shaky. “The doctors are having trouble treating her, s-so Senpai asked me to bring her to another laboratory she has further down into the Geofront. So that she can... heal her.”

“And how’s she gonna pull that off? Poor girl looks like she has a tree growing out of her!”

“That’s none of our business, but this does look important. Hold on for a second, please,” the second soldier stated, reaching for his radio. “Ma’am, this is Corporal Hamill at checkpoint Alpha-12? There’s a woman here asking to pass through to the lower levels, she claims to be under Akagi’s orders. She’s got the First Child with her, in a wheelchair. What should we do?”

A few moments of silence lingered while the soldier eyed Maya, listening to the words from the other side of the line.

“Yeah, shortish black hair, petite. Cute thing, really, her nametag has ‘Ibuki’ on it,” the soldier relayed back. “I take it you know her?”

A quick pause, and the man agreed to something with a brisk nod.

“Roger that, I’ll take care of it,” he finally replied, ending the call. “You can pass on through, but I’ll be coming with you. Will that be a problem?”

“No! I... I don’t think so, at least.”

“Good, then let’s hurry.”



>-O]|[O-<​



Not a second after her non-response, Ritsuko saw the Lieutenant react to a message on her radio. The usually intimidating woman blinked in confusion for a moment, before fixing her disbelieving stare on the head of Project-E.

“Is something the matter?”

“...I was just told that Maya Ibuki has been spotted at a checkpoint and is now being escorted to the depths of Terminal Dogma,” Tasha relayed back, still surprised. “Are you a psychic or something?”

“Better, I’m a Jedi.” Ritsuko replied without missing a beat.

A second of silence followed the deadpan delivery, Hyuga breaking down into giggles in the background shortly after.

“Maybe so,” the slightest rise of a corner of Tasha’s lips indicated that the woman did indeed have a sense of humour. “In any case, Agent Morgan sends her regards.”

“We’re almost done over here, ma’am!”

Both women turned to the reporting soldier, Ritsuko quickly noticing how the contents of the coffer had been assembled into a pyramidal device with a sphere on top, equipped with what appeared to be cameras and other information gathering equipment. Several cables ran from the base of the pyramid to the three towers that made up the MAGI.

“Good. Flip the switch, then,” the Lieutenant ordered, her underlings not quite literally starting the process of connecting the device. A few moments and blinking status lights later, the sphere on top whirred with life and began to move in its pedestal.

“Connections established. Video and audio feeds working at full efficiency. Currently running a background check on the quality of the link with the MAGI. This will be followed by an in-depth analysis of the information stored in the MAGI as well as a test of my control of NERV HQ’s functions,” a familiar, neutral male voice reported, before the sphere rotated to the right and towards Ritsuko. “It is good to see you again, Doctor Akagi.”

“I thought it might be you,” Ritsuko dispassionately replied, implying that the feeling was not mutual. “I have to question the need to bring this large device into the command centre, though. You could have used the room’s speakers to make your entrance without being anywhere near as obstructive.”

“Perhaps so, but some speeches are better delivered personally. I deemed a new alliance to be one such case.”

“What are you talking about?” One of Ritsuko’s eyebrows rose above its twin. “You’re still hiding behind an interface, there’s nothing personal about this...”

The doctor’s words trailed off, her mind quickly connecting Arthur’s bizarre comment with some other strange details she had noticed in the past: his penchant for hiding behind speakers or other people. His overly polite and unnatural way of speaking, coupled with his calm and collected demeanour. The manner in which he had managed to hack into the biggest and most secure supercomputer in the world with a simple backdoor access, with the best computing experts in all of Japan being none the wiser about his movements...

A lot of Arthur’s feats and idiosyncrasies had not seemed human to Ritsuko for a long time, but the worst of her suspicions had been dispelled when Legion’s love for cybernetically augmenting the human body became apparent, only to rise back up in full force at that very moment. After all, it was hard to ignore the likely evidence staring her straight in the face.

“Wait a minute... You’re-!”

“I am Arthur,” the new Commander gently interrupted. “It would be exceedingly rude to call me anything else.”

“It’s... self-aware? How did you-?” Ritsuko demanded of the calmly spectating Lieutenant, her voice rising a few octaves despite herself. “No! Why did you create a self-aware AI?! Are you people insane?!”

“As I said, Doctor, you’re being exceedingly rude. Even if I’m aware that, as a member of the sole intelligent species in the planet, it must be daunting to meet someone like me,” Arthur continued, conciliatory despite his words. “To put some of your fears to rest, however, I will have you know that I am the only one of my kind, and that I have no interest in the annihilation of the human species, despite what popular culture may believe.”

“That’s...” Ritsuko gritted her teeth, letting out a sharp release of air at the AI’s lacklustre attempt at humour. “That’s reassuring, but it’s still barely even the tip of the iceberg regarding the issues I have with this... development.”

“I am certain that your remaining reservations will vanish once we get to know each other a bit better, now that we will have ample time to do so.” The AI’s camera focused on the bridge crew and Ritsuko in turns, speaking to all of them. “Nevertheless, I would prefer if my true nature was kept to this small circle for the time being. Reassuring everyone in NERV HQ about my non-genocidal intentions would require a vast amount of resources better allocated elsewhere. I am sure you understand.”

“I understand, alright,” Ritsuko gruffly agreed. “You don’t need to state the obvious.”

The agreement of one party secured, Arthur’s attention shifted to the remaining two. Hyuga and Aoba shared an uncomfortable glance, before they nodded with a sigh.

“Damn, today keeps getting crazier and crazier,” the long-haired bridge man moaned, reaching for the bridge of his nose. “Fine, our lips are sealed. What about Ibuki, though?”

“I will personally brief Miss Ibuki on the situation when-”

“No, thanks,” the head of Project-E interrupted. “I will do it myself.”

“...As you wish, Doctor. And thank you, I appreciate your collaboration.” Arthur’s eye turned towards Tasha. “Lieutenant, please regroup your troops on this floor and have them form up around us. It is time we properly introduced ourselves.”

With a brisk nod, Tasha stepped forward to Maya’s empty workstation and grabbed the attention of the soldiers under her command, motioning for them to rendezvous with her post-haste. The troops did as told and quickly formed a semicircle around Arthur’s pyramid, dozens of still anxious eyes following their movements until the main screen of the command room changed to a panoramic view of the main floor, with Arthur in the middle of it. Curious murmurs erupted at the sight of the strange device that most present had only caught a short glimpse of.

“Good evening, everyone,” the faux-man began, all conversation in the room quieting down in quick succession. “My name is Arthur, and I am here under the authority of the United Nations joint committee. As they previously stated, the fine men and women behind me are part of the United Nations military arm, and directly under my supervision. First of all, and before I go into the reason behind our presence here, I would like to congratulate and extend our deepest thanks to all of you, for your courage and determination on the frontlines of our fight against the Angels. Doubly so for the brave Evangelion Pilots that make up the first and last line of defence and who have sacrificed more than any of us. I hope that knowing that the rest of the world can rest easier because of NERV’s combined struggles at the walls can make those sacrifices bearable.”

A familiar scoff filled the audio waves, clearly signalling that the Second Child had also been invited to the speech, but no witty or disparaging remarks followed. Sohryu either wanted to hear what the invaders had to say for themselves, or realised that throwing one of the tantrums she had been infamous for would serve no purpose. Either way, Ritsuko approved of the girl’s choice.

“But, as much as it pains me to say so, not everyone in NERV HQ shares the same valiant spirit that you have. Not everyone has remained loyal to the directives bestowed upon NERV by the United Nations, by the entire world, choosing instead to corrupt our righteous struggle and use it to serve their own selfish desires, the wants of a group that your leaders, Gendo Ikari and Kozo Fuyutsuki, serve without question. It is through that serfdom that they made you secretly complicit to this perversion of your mission, planning to use our fight as a means to enslave all of humanity under the yoke of a ruling few.”

The murmurs rose anew, disbelief and scepticism in equal measure. It was true that the Commanders weren’t very well-known or particularly loved by their staff, but thirteen Angel attacks and over half a year of war, more than that for most of the people in HQ, had been spent under their command. They were a great part of the reason why NERV HQ still stood, and the denouncing of an invading army didn’t appear to be sitting well with a big part of the personnel who understood that fact.

“World domination?” Aoba muttered to himself, just loud enough for Ritsuko to overhear. “Really?”

“I am aware of the gravity of my accusations, but it is because of that same severity that we didn’t act sooner, and made certain to come prepared. In fact, now we are more than ready to lift the long-lingering veil of secrecy from your eyes, and fully intend to do so.”

The lights in the gigantic room dimmed slightly, bringing the attention of everyone present to the main screen once more. The panoramic view of the invading forces faded and, instead, a number of files began to appear on screen, the clearly visible access path marking them as data buried deep beneath the most secure layers of the MAGI.

“Brave ladies and gentlemen of NERV, heed my words: today I would tell you about the Human Instrumentality Project.”
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 May 25, 2020 3:59 am

Hey, back with the start of another chapter. Nothing much to say about this one, other than that we'll soon be going back to dealing with Armisael soon. I'm sure the poor alien tentacle is tired of waiting by now. :uhh:

Enjoy! ^_^

Chapter 15  SPOILER: Show
The office of Commander Ikari looked the same that day as it had any other, darkness easily winning the battle against the light that filtered through the massive window panes in the back of the room. Two men waited side by side inside of the poorly lit chamber, one sitting and one on his feet, giving credence to the long lasting rumours within HQ stating that staring menacingly at the far wall was everything they did while alone in the office.

But silly falsehoods were far from their minds at that moment in time, for a different battle had been raging for the last few minutes just outside of the office, the invaders clearly having succeeded at pushing past all of the blockades and into the heart of HQ. The two Commanders of NERV remained tall and proud in spite of the encroaching crisis, however, the sounds of ricocheting bullets and fired explosives failing to make them budge even a single millimetre.

The gunfire then stopped, suddenly and without much fanfare, faint groans and voices becoming audible in the distance. It appeared that the war situation inside NERV HQ had developed not necessarily to the local forces’ advantage.

“Knock, knock~!” a bright voice confirmed as the doors were violently thrown wide open. “We’ve got an urgent message for one Commander Ikari and one Sub-Commander Fuyutsuki~! I hope you’ll forgive the mess we made on our way here, but some very rude people wouldn’t let us pass. The nerve of them! And we even brought pizza, too!”

“So you do.” The Sub-Commander drily provided, his eyes looking past the soldiers and at the scene that could be barely seen in the hallway. Fate had not been kind to the Section-2 agents that had been stationed as the last line of defence, despite their preparations. “Dispense with the pleasantries. What are your demands?”

“No fun and all business, I see. Keep that up and you’ll get some early wrinkles... although I guess it’s a bit too late for you already, professor! Oops!” Mari’s reply was cheerfully fake, the young woman raising her handgun to the two men. “And as for me, I’d be more than happy to put a bullet in your foreheads for all the shit you’ve done, but I don’t get to call the shots, as it were. Lucky you.” She then allowed the weapon to drop back down when she considered the message clear, continuing in a more businesslike tone. “Instead, I come with a generous offer: collaborate with us in bringing down SEELE, and we’ll ensure that whatever sentence you end up with at the end of this will be reduced, depending on your efforts and within reason, of course.”

“Generous indeed. Is that the sort of offer you recruited Akagi with?”

“Yes. Although, honestly, she didn’t even need that much incentive to stick the knife in your backs. I bet she would have done it for free if we’d asked! She was really, really angry for some strange reason...”

The old professor’s eyes shifted meaningfully to stare at his co-conspirator’s back, the urge to repeat the words ‘I told you so’ no doubt proving hard to contain. In the end, however, he managed to avoid the obvious bait, settling into his usual posture.

“We appreciate your kindness, but refuse.” It was Ikari who replied next, cool as ice. “The old men and their plans are of no consequence to us, and our own goals are unlikely to align with yours. We stand to gain nothing from submission.”

“You stand to gain nothing from opposing us to the bitter end, either, but I won’t be the one to complain about this turn of events.”

“Do not believe you’ve won,” Ikari growled at Mari’s careless shrugging. “Your hold over this base will be tenuous at best, to say nothing of your chances against the old men. We will have our opportunity.”

“Big words coming from the defeated, but I believe we will take our chances. And I wasn’t talking about our takeover, by the way,” Mari elaborated with a vicious smirk. “Rather, I was referring to the fact that your objective is unachievable, because your objective herself doesn’t care for your success.”

Gendo Ikari’s hands tightened at the mention of his missing wife, the change in pressure so minute that most people would have likely missed it. But it was not invisible to the young agent’s trained eyes, a chink in the man’s impenetrable defence that Mari would wager was paired with confusion behind his tinted glasses.

“Oh? Is that perplexity and bewilderment I see in the Supreme Commander of NERV?” Mari cooed, clearly enjoying herself. “Fine, let me put it more plainly: she doesn’t want to come out of Unit-01. She doesn’t want to meet you.”

“Lies,” Gendo growled, and the young woman before him feigned being shot through the heart.

“Oof, such hurtful accusations! But consider this: how do you believe that I, a complete stranger to any of your designs, managed to flawlessly synch up with Unit-01?”

“Simple. You obviously fooled her with the Dummy Plugs developed by Akagi, or a variant thereof.”

“That was the original plan, I’ll admit. But, no,” the Fifth Child replied back, taking some theatrically slow steps before the gigantic desk as if she were a detective in a mystery novel. “...I’ve actually spoken with your dearest wife multiple times, now. She’s a lovely, if insane, woman. And she was none too happy to hear about how you decided to ignore your parental obligations. As a matter of fact, ensuring the Third Child’s safety in the future was my ticket in.”

“A likely story. One that anyone with a passing knowledge of the Evangelions could fabricate,” Ikari answered, unimpressed. “You will need to try harder than that.”

“Ouch, and the merciless accusations continue!” Mari howled, pressing her hand to her chest a second time and dramatically holding on to the desk for support. She then smiled a wide smile, making sure that the Commander of NERV was meeting her gaze. “But I know I’ll get through eventually. After all, ‘My heart’s true nature can only shine when I’m with you,’ as they say.”

The man’s hands clenched once more, this time far more visibly, and the Fifth Child watched with satisfaction as Commander Ikari barely took a second to go white in the face.

“H-How...?!” he heatedly demanded, standing and slamming his hands on the table. “Where did you hear that?!”

“Struck a nerve, did I? Was the fact that you fancied writing poems in your younger years supposed to be a closely guarded secret? One that only you and one other person knew about? One... Yui Ikari, maybe? I wonder how I could have possibly managed to come across such unbelievable information, if I never spoke to anyone in possession of such knowledge...”

“That’s... impossible,” Ikari stammered, shaking his head in feverish denial. “T-There must be some other way, some o-old paper I missed...”

“You wish.” Mari’s playful stance quickly turned ice cold. “But, like I said, Yui Ikari doesn’t want to come out. Yui Ikari doesn’t want to reunite with you or her son. Yui Ikari is far too obsessed with her own grandiose goals to care about anything she left behind.” A cruel smirk spread across her face. “Your scenario was doomed to failure from the very beginning.

“...And I’d say I feel bad for you, but that’d be lying.”

A sepulchral silence fell upon the room, Mari’s words appearing to echo to every corner of the chamber. All throughout, the young woman kept her eyes on Ikari, drinking in the sight of him collapsing into his seat, his hands slowly reaching towards his face and tremblingly taking his opaque glasses off, before they unceremoniously dropped upon the table. The eyes that were now revealed spoke of a man that had been robbed of something essential to his existence, a guiding light for each and every one of his days, and all it had taken to rob one of the most powerful men on the planet of his unshakable will had been a short and simple reveal at the right moment.

The power a few words could wield was truly frightening, sometimes. Even the Sub-Commander’s usually calm demeanour had been shaken by Mari’s words, the old man noticeably shifting to look at his superior with deep concern. Clearly, such an emotional response out of Ikari had long since stopped being possible in his mind.

It was at that time that the room’s speakers blared to life, Arthur’s familiar voice filling the room and snapping Fuyutsuki back to attention, the man’s quick mind busying itself with deducing how the voice could have made it to one of the most secure rooms in the entire base for a fair few moments. The old professor’s attempts were cut short when Arthur’s speech began in earnest, however, his expression turning more and more grim with each passing sentence.

“Well, look at that,” Mari chuckled at the welcome sound. “It sounds like they already started.”

Finally, he looked to his right and at the Commander. The man had further sunk into his seat and was currently staring at a spot on the faraway wall, almost swallowed by darkness. He looked nothing like the driven husband that had been willing to do anything and everything in order to get back what he most desired. He looked lost to despair, hopeless, just the same as he had looked that fateful day a decade ago when Yui had been taken from them, or when she herself had decided to leave them behind, if the agent’s words were truly to be believed.

It was in that exact moment that Fuyutsuki understood that they had truly, utterly lost. Trying to find any ray of hope in this crushing defeat was simple folly.

“...I will be taking you up on your generous offer,” the old professor finally stated with a heavy voice.

“That was a swift change of heart, Professor Fuyutsuki, but far be it from me to judge. Welcome aboard.” Mari replied, a sarcastic smirk on her face. She then motioned to one of the soldiers with her. “Get him to a nice, quiet room and see if he knows something we still don’t. Let Arthur know we got ourselves a new asset, too.”

The man nodded in agreement and walked over to the Sub-Commander, politely but firmly leading him away from the room. When the door had closed another of the troops under her command turned towards Mari.

“What should we do about Ikari, ma’am?” he asked, contempt clearly audible in his speech. He was formerly Bolivian, Mari remembered, one of the South American countries that had been hit the hardest by the instability of the after Impact years, and that were still struggling to recover. There was no doubt in Mari’s mind that the man would relish the chance of getting back at one of those responsible for that catastrophe.

And Mari could more than understand the feeling, for that temptation existed within her too. In spite of their orders, it would be so simple to turn off their cameras and microphones and kill the man under claims of ‘armed resistance’. There was no chance in hell that obvious lie would get past Arthur, of course, but since Ikari was completely inconsequential to their plans, it would just... be swept under the rug in their pursuit of the larger prey. Repayment for a life lost, for everything she had ever loved and treasured, was right there, just a simple squeeze of the finger away, and there would be no second opportunity like that one. That, Mari fully knew.

But even if the temptation lingered for a few, heavy seconds, it remained as nothing more than that. After all, they would truly be no better than those they hunted if they made their own justice there. Ikari would pay for his crimes, as would all of his associates. No matter what.

‘Besides, shooting him now would be a mercy.’

“Cuff him and get him to a cell,” Mari ordered, turning away from the wreck of a man sitting in a chair that was now far too big for him before the dark thoughts returned. “I don’t think he’ll be much good to us.”
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 Aug 27, 2020 3:55 am

Chapter 15-2  SPOILER: Show
Misato Katsuragi had been uncertain of the scene that would greet her the moment she arrived back at the command room. A handful of likely possibilities had materialised within her mind during her trek through HQ, but the reality that she found when she stepped through the gate had never even made it into any of her calculations. So unexpected, indeed, that she had to stop for a second and make certain the day’s exhaustion wasn’t getting to her.

The tactical head of NERV had expected a mixture of anxiety and animosity to still permeate the gigantic room hours after the violent phase of the takeover had passed but, while her vision had been correct in that regard, the palpable anger and displeasure in the personnel of NERV HQ appeared to be directed in a completely different direction to that of the invading forces. The soldiers had even slung their rifles on their backs and were trying to be useful to the crew in whatever small ways they could, a testament to the deescalating tensions even if the sight of several men in full combat armour going around with trays full of coffee was beyond ridiculous.

Not that Misato minded beyond her initial shock. If anything, this turn of events was likely to save her from some of the many headaches she was bound to suffer in the future.

Misato resumed her climb to the observation platform, her ascent followed by many a curious glance and shady whisper which she pointedly ignored. She quickly reached the top to meet with a haggard-looking Ritsuko, who flicked her eyes to look at her for a fraction of a second before promptly refocusing on her work.

“You look like hell,” she offhandedly remarked.

“Thanks, right back at you,” Misato replied to her co-worker’s comment with a similarly weary voice. “I feel like it, too. Our gracious new overlords believed a nice, long and pointless chat with me was in order. I had to listen to them go on for hours before they remembered that there was an Angel on our doorstep, and that they need me to kill it. Haven’t felt that bored in years.”

“Allow me to apologise on behalf of my subordinates, Major. Your circumstances being as they were, it was deemed appropriate to follow standard procedure even if no one in this base doubts your commitment towards our current struggle, if only to appease our superiors. I implore you to put this unpleasantness behind our future relations.”

Misato’s left eyebrow rose above its twin, her steely eyes tracking the obnoxiously familiar voice to the newest, pyramidal addition to the floor of the command room. The device appeared to stare back.

“...Is this Freezer talking?”

“Aha, I see your wit is as sharp as ever, Major. But indeed, it is I, Arthur. Allow me to briefly explain why-”

“No, thanks. I’m happier not knowing,” Misato rudely cut the freezer off, shifting her attention back towards Ritsuko. “Get me up to speed on the target?”

“Reactivation of the Angel is expected within a thirty minute window. MAGI have detected subtle internal changes in the target during its regeneration process, but there have been no physical changes to it, so far. There is still no consensus in the MAGI as to what to make of this new information, but it’s safe to say that a divergence from our previous encounter should be expected.”

First question, and already a piece of new intel she had been hoping not to hear. Misato fought down the urge to click her tongue in frustration.

“Great. How are Asuka and Unit-02?”

“Stable, to a certain degree. Enough that she should have no trouble piloting, and since Unit-02 retreated from the previous skirmish with almost no damage there is little you need to worry about in regards to her potential combat efficiency.” The Doctor briefly pressed a few fingers on her aide’s terminal and the main monitor changed to the tactical layout of Tokyo-3 and its surroundings, the screen focusing on the location marker for Unit-02 a few kilometres away from the city. “I took the liberty of deploying her within intercept range of the Angel some time ago, just to be safe.”

With a nod, Misato’s eyes briefly flicked to the video feed of Unit-02, the orange square showing her redheaded charge in the middle of her usual pre-sortie preparations, eyes closed and mentally preparing herself for the trial ahead. Despite everything that had happened in the last few hours, Asuka looked no different than during any of her previous sorties, a testament to her experience and deeply ingrained martial mindset. But Misato could tell that she was just putting up a front, even without the help of Ritsuko’s diagnosis.

‘…I should take her aside for a nice, long talk about everything that’s going on when we take care of this bastard. Better not to let whatever she’s thinking fester,’ Misato pondered, before her eyes narrowed at a point in the distance. ‘…I should probably involve that bitch with the glasses somehow, too. The way she handled her cover was an explosion waiting to happen, but I bet Asuka wants to give her a piece of her mind, anyway.’

“...And Units 00 and 01?” the Major continued along that same train of thought, hoping for a miracle.

“Unit-00 still requires extensive repairs that have been put off in favour of Unit-01, not that the First Child is in any state to pilot, at any rate. As for the latter, the infected muscle tissue we were forced to cut out of its arms still hasn’t regenerated, despite how much we attempted to accelerate the process...”

‘Oh, right,’ Misato briefly tuned Ritsuko’s explanation out and let out a mental groan. ‘I forgot that God doesn’t exist.’

“Hold on a minute, Ritz,” she then gently interrupted. “Wasn’t the thing that Unit-01… ate from the Fourteenth Angel supposed to help with that? You know, alongside the infinite energy part?”

“...Yes, the S2 Engine. The fact that it’s not helping Unit-01 regenerate the extirpated muscle tissue makes no sense whatsoever, but what else is new?” Ritsuko sighed, grabbing the bridge of her nose. “We have tried feeding it everything that I could think of on short notice, from spare part tissue to a limb from a failed EVA prototype, and nothing has succeeded at accelerating the regeneration process.”

“Just our luck, eh?”

“I don’t believe in luck. But I’m not a proponent of theology either and I’m finding it hard to think of today as anything other than divine punishment for my sins,” the Doctor grumbled, finally managing to transition back into her usual professional self. “...In any case, Unit-01 could still attempt to sortie with the shoulder mounted weaponry that the engineering department jury-rigged while we worked on the Evangelion itself, but without any proper safety testing on the weapons themselves and the handicap of Unit-01’s very state, I believe I don’t need to state how inadvisable an idea that would be,” Ritsuko finished, throwing a pointed stare Misato’s way. “No matter how very you.”

“Hey, I’m not that desperate yet. Let’s leave that possibility in the pile for now,” the Major defended herself before turning towards Hyuga. “Status of the city defences?”

“All green and ready to go across the board. MAGI recommend engaging the Angel within range of the defensive perimeter for the highest probability of success.” Hyuga keyed a command into his computer, shifting the tactical map to a trio of blips moving around at a languid pace. “We have also been allowed the deployment of several N2 warheads at our discretion. The bombers carrying them are already circling the outskirts of the engagement area and awaiting our command.”

“Must be part of the Russian arsenal if they got here so quickly. Blackjacks, probably,” Misato quickly reasoned, thinking of the handful of supersonic bombers in service with the Russian Air Forces. “Good to know they’ve got our backs. But hopefully we won’t need to call them in. Keep me posted on any changes in-”

The sudden blare of the Angel alarm cut off the rest of Misato’s order, the bridge crew flying into a flurry of activity not an instant later.

“Energy spike detected within the target!” Maya reported. “MAGI are classifying the event as a possible transformation!”

“…Guess this one’s the gentlemanly type. Give me a visual!”

The tactical display vanishing at Misato’s command, the image was replaced by a live-feed of the surface from three different satellites and, in it, the Angel’s circular body appeared to swell larger and larger, slowly but steadily growing to a thickness five times its original size before several bulges began to show in the Angel’s surface, almost as if something was trying to come out of its body.

“…What the hell is it doing?”

And then, as if to answer Misato’s question, the swelling lumps exploded into a shower of purple liquid that dyed vast swathes of the forest. A blanket of pristine white feathers came into sight as a circle of angelic wings continued to sprout along the halo, thin tendrils of tissue keeping them connected to the main body even as the main ring appeared to deflate to a thickness closer to its original size. It was not until all of its new wings stopped growing that the Angel’s transformed body began to rotate once more, the foliage under it swaying side to side as if under the blades of some massive helicopter.

And as the MAGI’s conflicting opinions on the enemy’s capabilities resumed, the Angel began to slowly hover forward.
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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Postby Akomis » Tue Mar 16, 2021 1:04 pm

I just discovered this story. It is insanely good, absolutely love it. Will wait for next chapter.

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Postby Gryphon117 » Wed Mar 17, 2021 10:19 am

Thank you, I'm glad to know that you are enjoying it. I haven't posted a few of the latest updates around here because this place has been deader than dead in spite of it getting some pretty good traffic, so I sort of came to the conclusion that there isn't any real interest in the story, or that folks are just dropping it in short order for one reason or another. That might still be the case, but a reply after this long is worth going ahead and posting the other snippets I have, so I'll get to that either tomorrow or on Friday. Fair warning, though, I've been struggling with the motivation to write for a pair of months by now, so there isn't much to go beyond four or so updates. I'll see if I can manage to kick myself into producing anything beyond that soon.

In any case, thanks again for your support, a handful of words really do mean a lot. I'll try and live up to expectations. ^_^
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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Postby KingXanaduu » Wed Mar 17, 2021 11:04 am

YES!! DUDE, I am so glad you're still around! I was worried that like so many fics, it was going to be left forgotten, but I'm both glad that it's still going strong, and that you're okay (I did DM you on fanfiction earlier, but STILL). :)

Seriously, this fic needs to be uploaded to Fanfiction.net because of how GOOD it is. If more people saw it there, I guarantee you'd get a huger audience for it. :)

Glad to see you're still at it dude. :)
"You're na�ve, Cecil. Even knowing betrayal and despair, you would depend on the whims of others?" - Golbez
---------------------------------------
Sephiroth: "Do you miss the Light?"
Golbez: "Hmph...I merely have duties to fulfill."
Sephiroth: "Too close to the brightness, and you may get scorched."
Golbz:.............
Golbez: Your loss can strengthen you.

"NGE Shinji is broken, Manga Shinji is an asshole, Rebuild Shinji is an idiot. Which is best? Uh, can I get some other options? All of these really suck." -Bagheera

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Postby Akomis » Wed Mar 17, 2021 11:09 am

Holy... There are more updates, yeaaaaaaaa...! I'm sorry, got excited :)
I keep a list of fanfics on reddit, I added yours with a review. The link:
https://www.reddit.com/r/asushin/commen ... t/gr8zy3z/

It is top level fanfic, absolutely fantastic. I will try to make sure that it will get the attention it deserves.

Review: This is one of the best discoveries I had lately. I was intrigued by the premise. It is cool on itself. But I didn't expect the mastery with which it was executed.

The story shows the Asuka's mind world - a fascinating place that has its own inhabitants who represent different aspects of her. And Shinji is locked here. His body lies in a hospital in a coma, but his concience is forced to live in this wierd place. It was fascinating to watch how Asuka's subconscious allows Shinji to see hidden aspects of her, teaches him to understand. This experience changes both Shinji and Asuka.

This would be great on its own as a short one shot. But it is a lot more then this. The world doesn't stay still just because Shinji is in coma. And the interplay of inside and outside of Asuka's mind is beautiful.

I *loved* the dialogs, they are great. And there are numerous in-character jokes, some scenes are briliantly funny.

As a conclusion, it would be a strong claim, but I felt this is a Genocide-level fanfic. Really, I do think so. Please give it a try. 10/10

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Postby Gryphon117 » Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:06 pm

View Original PostKingXanaduu wrote:YES!! DUDE, I am so glad you're still around! I was worried that like so many fics, it was going to be left forgotten, but I'm both glad that it's still going strong, and that you're okay (I did DM you on fanfiction earlier, but STILL). :)

Seriously, this fic needs to be uploaded to Fanfiction.net because of how GOOD it is. If more people saw it there, I guarantee you'd get a huger audience for it. :)

Glad to see you're still at it dude. :)


Thanks for the praise, but I'm wary of uploading to FFN until I'm absolutely certain that nothing will stop me from finishing this story (even if, honestly, I'd also thought about it during this demotivating lull). I already left an unfinished story over there that will always nag at the back of my mind because I hated it as a reader when authors did that, and I don't think I'd ever forgive myself if I ended up doing that a second time.

Akomis wrote:Holy... There are more updates, yeaaaaaaaa...! I'm sorry, got excited :)
I keep a list of fanfics on reddit, I added yours with a review. The link:
https://www.reddit.com/r/asushin/commen ... t/gr8zy3z/

It is top level fanfic, absolutely fantastic. I will try to make sure that it will get the attention it deserves.

Review: This is one of the best discoveries I had lately. I was intrigued by the premise. It is cool on itself. But I didn't expect the mastery with which it was executed.

The story shows the Asuka's mind world - a fascinating place that has its own inhabitants who represent different aspects of her. And Shinji is locked here. His body lies in a hospital in a coma, but his concience is forced to live in this wierd place. It was fascinating to watch how Asuka's subconscious allows Shinji to see hidden aspects of her, teaches him to understand. This experience changes both Shinji and Asuka.

This would be great on its own as a short one shot. But it is a lot more then this. The world doesn't stay still just because Shinji is in coma. And the interplay of inside and outside of Asuka's mind is beautiful.

I *loved* the dialogs, they are great. And there are numerous in-character jokes, some scenes are briliantly funny.

As a conclusion, it would be a strong claim, but I felt this is a Genocide-level fanfic. Really, I do think so. Please give it a try. 10/10


...Well, shit. I think you're overshotting by a mile with the Genocide comparison, but I won't pretend that it didn't make me really happy to read your review. It helps to put things into perspective so, at the risk of sounding repetitive, thanks again. ^_^
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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Postby JimmyWolk » Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:09 pm

View Original PostGryphon117 wrote:That might still be the case, but a reply after this long is worth going ahead and posting the other snippets I have, so I'll get to that either tomorrow or on Friday.

I was kinda wondering if I should link to the later parts on sv, but probably better that way for the folks here. :P
Was also kinda surprised to realize you hadn't posted it on ff.net, did you intend to wait until its done? Welp, that was answered above. Still, I don't think you really need to wait. Nevermind that posting chapter-wise is still the best way to rack up reviews. ;P

(Also, if I may hijack just a little bit: @Akomis, also thanks for the praise of "Long Time No See". Unfortunate that T2t didn't do much for you, but I'm glad that at least one of mine managed. ^^)

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Postby SuperSandwichGoku » Thu Mar 18, 2021 8:08 am

I just found out about this fic, and I'm looking forward to seeing the small updates you have written! I've really liked the premise so far, I think there's the right balance between what happens inside Asuka's head and outside, and I did not expect the ways you've diverged from canon. Regardless, hope more people give it the attention it deserves. Take as much time as you need to find writing motivation though.

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Postby Gryphon117 » Thu Mar 18, 2021 9:08 am

View Original PostJimmyWolk wrote:
View Original PostGryphon117#916122 wrote:That might still be the case, but a reply after this long is worth going ahead and posting the other snippets I have, so I'll get to that either tomorrow or on Friday.

I was kinda wondering if I should link to the later parts on sv, but probably better that way for the folks here. :P
Was also kinda surprised to realize you hadn't posted it on ff.net, did you intend to wait until its done? Welp, that was answered above. Still, I don't think you really need to wait. Nevermind that posting chapter-wise is still the best way to rack up reviews. ;P

(Also, if I may hijack just a little bit: @Akomis, also thanks for the praise of "Long Time No See". Unfortunate that T2t didn't do much for you, but I'm glad that at least one of mine managed. ^^)


Yeah, after some consideration I've decided that I'll stop being headstrong about it and upload to FFN when I get back into the habit of writing and give a second or third look at what I have. It's kind of silly to moan about lack of attention if I don't expose my work as much as I can, right? As for my worries of leaving an unfinished work behind, I guess I'll just have to finish it! ^_^

SuperSandwichGoku wrote:I just found out about this fic, and I'm looking forward to seeing the small updates you have written! I've really liked the premise so far, I think there's the right balance between what happens inside Asuka's head and outside, and I did not expect the ways you've diverged from canon. Regardless, hope more people give it the attention it deserves. Take as much time as you need to find writing motivation though.


Thanks for the support, too! I should have a window in a few hours to reformat and upload one or two of the upcoming scenes, so look forward to it!
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Postby JimmyWolk » Thu Mar 18, 2021 9:47 am

View Original PostGryphon117 wrote:Yeah, after some consideration I've decided that I'll stop being headstrong about it and upload to FFN when I get back into the habit of writing and give a second or third look at what I have. It's kind of silly to moan about lack of attention if I don't expose my work as much as I can, right? As for my worries of leaving an unfinished work behind, I guess I'll just have to finish it! ^_^

I mean, let's say it like this: You have plenty of people looking forward to it already outside of FFN, so yeah, guess you'll "have to" anyway. ;)

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Postby Gryphon117 » Thu Mar 18, 2021 12:57 pm

Chapter 15-3  SPOILER: Show
Asuka didn’t need the warning messages of her Evangelion’s instruments to tell that the battle was close to joining. After all, she had been handed a front row seat to the Angel’s transformed magnificence still far in the distance, the shape and movement of its pearly wings causing her gifted mind to go into overdrive thinking of all the dangerous possibilities her second encounter with this monster would bring. They were not pretty images.

‘Last time it took the three of us to back it into a corner and it hadn’t even… evolved yet,’ Asuka wondered, struggling to keep her feelings of uneasiness under control. ‘Now I’m alone, my instruments don’t tell me anything, that fancy supercomputer can’t figure the Angel out and Akagi is less than useless. Is this going to be alright?’

“Well, it’s showtime,” Misato’s voice broke the Second Child out of her musings. “Are you ready, Asuka?”

“…I always am.” Asuka responded, in a voice that she believed confident but that the look in Misato’s eye quickly informed her was not. An awkward silence ensued before the tactical mastermind of NERV turned to one of the bridge operators for a second, Asuka watching Misato’s eye pan from right to left a few moments later, in what she believed was a quick check of the command room personnel.

“Unit-02, pick up that rifle and advance to these coordinates,” Misato spoke through the channel once more, a positron rifle coming out of the ground right next to Asuka’s crimson Evangelion as she did. “The strength of the Angel’s AT-Field appeared to wane the moment it became mobile, so we’ll open with a poke at its defences from range. Take your shot and duck back into cover. We will relay whatever information MAGI gives us and come up with our strategy from there.”

The Second Child did as ordered, grabbing hold of the offered weapon and setting up at the given coordinates, behind a mountain range. The area before her was clear of any blockers to her line of sight, and would offer a perfect shot whenever the Angel entered her line of fire in less than half a minute. Asuka’s eyes flickered to the satellite feed of her target once again, the redhead having already long lost count of the times it had stared at it since its transformation.

“Are you expecting it to counter fire? To me it looks like this Angel focuses more on hand to hand combat. Or hand to tentacle or whatever.”

“I’m expecting anything at this point. No need to take risks yet,” Misato tersely replied, just as the Angel’s wings began to peek from behind a mountain. “Rifle status reads as calibrated and primed. Fire when ready.”

Asuka took a deep breath and watched, hawkish, as the Angel slowly came into view, its movement far too languid for the Second Child’s impatient nature. As she waited, however, the redhead noticed something wrong with her crosshairs: they were moving a little bit, almost imperceptibly and certainly not enough to influence the accuracy of any shot at the range she was firing from, but enough to catch her attention. Quickly and efficiently, without losing sight of her target’s movement, Asuka went through a checklist of possible malfunctioning equipment, but found nothing wrong with her sensors or connectors. She was about to push the thought of the possible malfunction aside when her right hand twitched involuntarily, bringing Asuka’s attention to it.

Her right hand had not only twitched once, it was shaking and causing the feedback from the handle’s fine-tuning sensors to very slightly throw off her aim. The redhead grit her teeth and tried to tell herself that her hand was just quivering in anticipation and excitement, but her best attempts did little to help her ignore the truth.

“It will be fine, Asuka,” Shinji’s soothing voice suddenly invaded her senses. “We’ve got this.”

And just like that, the crosshair stopped its shaking and firmly settled into place, right as a small scowl appeared on Asuka’s expression. She would never admit it, but given the circumstances, it felt reassuring to have Shinji Ikari, the Pilot, the Ace, in her co-pilot seat.

“…Right.”

The Second Child took another calming breath and focused her attention on her target: the Angel had finally finished gracefully gliding into full view and was offering itself for a clear shot, so Asuka took a few seconds to correct her aim and point the rifle towards the main ring of the Angel. Unit-02 then pressed the trigger and the ray of wild energies flew against the circling wings, a familiar orange barrier appearing at the last second.

“Direct hit, no visible effect on the target!” one of the bridge crew reported the obvious.

“I’m reading a high energy concentration!” the mousy bridge girl followed up, Asuka quickly refocusing her reticle on the unaffected Angel as its rotation quickly picked up speed and all its wings simultaneously rose up to touch the sky. An almost hypnotic display only broken by a pinprick of light in the centre of the halo that turned into a retaliatory energy lance.

“Scheiße!”

Asuka barely had enough time to let go of the rifle and roll away, AT-Field at full power as the thin beam of light pierced cleanly through one side of the mountain and out the other. Unit-02 hurried to its feet and broke into a run in the opposite direction, the beam moving to match her speed and nipping at the crimson robot’s giant heels.

“I want a saturation strike from all launchers east of the city! Bring up barriers D-17 through 28! Give Unit-02 some extra cover!”

The Second Child changed the course of her dash in time with Misato’s orders and slid past two rising barriers to finally come to a stop behind a third, hundreds of missiles soaring past Unit-02’s head to explode harmlessly against the Angel’s AT-Field.

“Asuka! Keep moving!” Misato continued before the redhead could even get her bearings. “Those barriers won’t hold!”

“And don’t deploy your AT-Field!” Akagi followed up. “The Angel is still using it to track your movement!”

Asuka did as ordered with no argument and dove for the next barrier just as the one she had been hiding behind finally gave away and allowed the beam of light through. Rolling her crimson chariot into a crouch, Asuka focused her will into her AT-Field just short of activating it, and observed the pale beam hold immobile in the air. A few seconds later, it dissipated into nothingness and the Second Child let out a sigh of relief, a quick check of the satellite feed showing the Angel’s return to its standard rotation.


>-O]|[O-<​


“Don’t tell me it’s that damn diamond all over again!”

“No,” Ritsuko assuaged Misato’s fears, quickly analysing the combat data that her ward was showing her. “The amount of energy it unleashed isn’t even in the same order of magnitude to what the Fifth could do.”

“Meaning? Can we take a hit and remain combat worthy?”

Maya keyed in a few commands into her terminal and the graph shifted to a handful of lightning-quick combat simulations from different engagement distances. It only took a few seconds before the results had been compiled into an extensive report.

“MAGI’s current rough estimates establish that Evangelion armour should be able to withstand the energy blast for a short period of time before melting, although taking a direct hit should obviously be avoided,” Ritsuko calmly relayed. “Unit-02’s AT-Field should be able to cushion the beam a lot more effectively, although, again, I don’t recommend straining the Pilot with such a task for long.”

“Especially since the Angel seemed to be using Unit-02’s AT-Field as a way to direct its attack, just like what happened with Unit-00 during the last fight.” Maya chimed in, continuing her analysis at the same time.

“Not only that, but we also noticed the energy flow becoming less intense the longer the beam held,” Ritsuko continued, pointing to a downward trend in the graph. “Unlike the Fifth, this Angel might not be capable of persevering with this method of attack for extended periods of time.”

“So there already appear to be a few glaring weaknesses in this one.” The Major reasoned, piecing together the next steps of her tactic. She stepped towards Hyuga’s terminal and pointed to four spots in the tactical display. “We should try to establish whether detecting AT-Fields is the only way the Angel has to track its targets. Prepare the decoys we used against the Fifth and launch them through the elevators here, here, here and here.”

“What do I do in the meantime?” Asuka’s question came through the communications channel, as the room became abuzz with activity once more.

“Move to these coordinates and stand by,” Misato offhandedly commanded, flicking her finger against another spot in the monitor. “Stay out of sight.”

“Roger,” the redhead acknowledged, Unit-02 breaking into a careful march before the Second Child threw another question at Ritsuko. “By the way, have you figured out where the damn core is? Do I have to gut it like we tried to do before?”

“That is a possible course of action, but MAGI currently hypothesizes that the Angel’s core is actually located in the very centre of the ring.”

“In the middle?” Asuka echoed, zooming the satellite feed in her HUD so that she could take a close look at the Angel from above. “But there’s nothing there!”

“Like I said, it’s currently just a hypothesis born of where the Angel appears to be gathering the energy for its beam attacks. The MAGI deduced that the Angel’s core should be close to that point, and I see no reason to fault their logic at this moment. The core could be simply obscured from sight, somehow.”

‘Somehow.’

“Yes, somehow,” Ritsuko shrugged in response to Asuka’s disbelieving echo. “I know it sounds terribly unscientific of me, but it’s currently what I have.”
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Postby Gryphon117 » Thu Mar 18, 2021 1:00 pm

Chapter 15-4  SPOILER: Show
“Yes, somehow,” Ritsuko shrugged in response to Asuka’s disbelieving echo. “I know it sounds terribly unscientific of me, but it’s currently what I have.”

“…I don’t have any fancy degrees and I could have told you most of that.” The redhead grumbled under her breath, unaware that the unmatched sensitivity of the Entry Plug’s microphones managed to carry her voice to the other side. The Head of Project-E gripped her ever-present tablet tighter, the plastic straining a bit under the pressure of her fingers.

“Fancy degrees or not, it can be quite the daunting task to understand the secrets of the alien beings that consistently ignore the foundations of our laws of physics as we know them,” she spat with barely hidden enmity. “But you’re free to try your hand at it whenever you please, Second.”

Asuka was taken aback by the unexpected reply, her mouth struggling to come up with a comeback for a few moments before her gaze turned to one side of the Entry Plug.

“…I’ll pass on that, I’m too busy saving your asses at the moment.” She lamely finished, her half-flippant words only causing Ritsuko’s eyes to narrow further.

“I see, you’re so devoted to your job. Maybe if you had shown half this commitment three hours ago we wouldn’t be in the situation we are now.”

“Ritsuko!”

“Doctor, please refrain from taunting the Second Child, who so happens to currently be the last line of defence for mankind.” Arthur calmly elaborated on Misato’s indignation.

“A fact that makes me fear for mankind’s future,” Ritsuko muttered. “Besides, she started it. Although I should probably refrain from stating that.”

“And yet you made your statement anyway. Your claim is illogical, Doctor Akagi.”

“Everyone!” Misato assertively interrupted, bringing the argument to a stop. “We’ve got an Angel to kill, remember? Please?

At the mention of the Angel, Ritsuko opened her mouth to speak but no rebuke came out of it, the Doctor’s eyes soon closing with a deep sigh as she realised how far she had allowed her professional mask to slip and the damage that she could have caused, if not for Misato’s intervention. Visibly ashamed of herself, Ritsuko roughly ran a hand through her forehead and hair before she gave a small, repentant bow to Misato and Asuka both.

“…You’re right, Katsuragi, I apologise. All the stress is starting to get to me.” She spoke in a sedate tone, truly sounding as exhausted as she claimed. Misato’s eyes then shifted towards Asuka, the girl’s eyes downcast as she visibly struggled to come up with words, as well.

“Yeah, I…” the redhead mumbled, equally as embarrassed. “…I shouldn’t have said any of that, either.”

“It’s alright. Let’s all just focus, okay?” Misato reassured them both, making certain that there wouldn’t be any parting shots before she finally turned her attention to Maya Ibuki, who mutely followed her Senpai with her eyes as she walked closer to her. “Are the dummies in place, Maya?”

“Y-Yes!” the girl almost jumped a foot in the air, and Misato couldn’t help but crack a smile at the sight. “T-They’re… They’re going up right now.”

And almost in time with Maya’s words, four full-scale inflatable balloons sporting Unit-02’s shape popped up on the satellite feed, one of the fakes being vaporised almost instantly. A second one met the same fate after two more minutes of the Angel’s advance, while the last two were left undisturbed in spite of a clear line of sight to the target. Misato watched these developments and allowed half of her brain to process them with military efficiency, while the other half focused on the haggard and stressed faces on most of the bridge crew.

The Fifth Angel had been a tense affair for everyone involved, but today’s combination of the military takeover and the disastrous first engagement that had knocked out two thirds of NERV’s combat strength was making that fateful day so long ago feel like another Tuesday. Misato was starting to fear that the upper echelons of NERV would cave under the pressure if this Angel wasn’t defeated quickly.

“…It appears that the Angel does possess some detection capabilities outside of AT-Fields, visual or otherwise,” Ritsuko finally announced, after poring through the results. “Judging from the tests, MAGI also tentatively establish the range of those abilities at roughly three kilometres, although they’re still unsure whether targets further away were truly undetected or simply ignored as threats.”

“We will avoid open ground during our approach, anyway,” Misato acknowledged, giving Hyuga a quick command and turning her attention to Unit-02’s communications window. “Asuka, we’re sending a prog-glaive at your destination. Sneak further and try to ambush the Angel, but don’t activate your AT-Field, just like before.”

“Yeah, yeah…” Asuka agreed with a small sigh, still reeling from the previous exchange. “Man, hiding like this is not really my style.”

“Be patient, you’ll be doing things your way soon enough,” the Major reassured her. “As a matter of fact, I want you to try and focus your attack on the Angel’s wings when you get the chance.”

“Think that will stop it for a while?”

“It’s something worth trying.” Misato finished, leaving Unit-02 to advance to its new position. One more time, she turned towards her formed accomplice and circled another group of defensive batteries with her finger, adding some of the northern defences to the command as well. “I want another saturation strike ready to cover the last leg of Unit-02’s advance.”

With a nod, Hyuga made certain that everything would be ready and reported as much barely a minute later, while the Major used that time to ensure that all the other pieces on the board were also prepared and in place. Fifty-seven seconds after her last check the Angel crested another hill, one that put it dangerously close to the fortress city itself, and Misato gave the order to strike.

One more time the missiles flew, and one more time they exploded against the octagonal defences of the Sixteenth, creating a wall of fire, smoke and ash. An impressive display of pyrotechnics, almost as beautiful as it was useless, but one that would still serve a purpose.

“Asuka, GO!” Misato commanded, even if redundantly, for Unit-02 had already leapt into action before the words had left her mouth, diving into the grey wall and towards the Angel.
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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Re: An Insider's Look

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Postby Gryphon117 » Thu Mar 18, 2021 1:04 pm

Chapter 15-5  SPOILER: Show
“AT-Field! MAX POWER!” Asuka roared when she focused all her will on the point where her glaive made contact with the Angel’s defences, the smoke and ashes parting as the orange barriers manifested and crashed against each other. Sparks flew as the edge of the blade began to shine and dig into the Angel’s AT-Field, but the Second Child clicked her tongue in frustration when she noticed her weapon struggling to advance at all. Relieving the pressure against her foe, Asuka completed her slashing motion and brought the glaive in another arc around Unit-02’s body to strike once more at the same spot she had already struck once, but amidst the shower of sparks the result was very much the same as her first attempt.

It was during her second flurry of slashes that Asuka saw the Angel raise two of its wings high above it, giving the redhead barely a second’s warning to roll Unit-02 out of the way before they came crashing down tip first and gored a large crevice into the ground.

“Shit!” Asuka grunted, her eyes flicking to the large hole for a quick moment before she swung her glaive around to strike at the exposed appendages, again, with zero success. “It’s not working, Misato!”

“Of course it’s not, we needed three EVAs the last time,” Ace muttered, yanking Shinji’s attention from the main screen and towards her. “Even the brat figured that one out.”

“But I don’t think Misato-san has many other options right now. Do you have any better ideas?”

“Honestly, no,” Ace admitted with a shake of her head, her eyes narrowing a second later. “But we managed to get into range so sticking close to it is probably our best bet, we’ll just need to play it defensive for a bit and wait for an opening. Maybe Akagi can actually figure something out.”

Ace’s words were delivered in her usual self-assured tone, the same one that had always been paired with the makings of a flawless strategy to overcome whatever odds were thrown her way in the past. It was usually a soothing sight, one that always succeeded at comforting Shinji regardless of the end results of the Pilot’s plans, but this time the fearless image was damaged when he noticed that Ace was unconsciously biting her lip.

“You… don’t sound too confident.” Shinji blurted out before he could think better of it, earning himself a scalding glare for his troubles.

“Well, so sorry about that. I mean, we’re in a one on one duel with an Angel. Exactly the situation I didn’t want to ever find ourselves in, remember?” Ace grumped back, crossing her arms and focusing on the big screen again. Asuka and Unit-02 were following their directives to the letter under the brat’s supervision, but while they were avoiding any sort of damage to the red titan they were also failing to hurt the Angel in any way. It wasn’t hard to imagine how the battle would eventually end if the situation didn’t change in some way sooner rather than later. “…But we’ll make it work, so make sure you pull your own weight, too.”

“I’ve been trying to think about how to do just that,” Shinji sighed, his shoulder drooping a little. “I mean, talking to Asuka right now is probably not a great idea, I’ll just distract her. And there’s not much else I can do that you two can’t right now, so…”

“So what, you’re giving up already?”

“I didn’t say that!” Shinji quickly protested, motioning around the room with his hand. “But the red door disappeared at the end of the last fight and it hasn’t come back yet! I can’t do much more without it!”

“Yeah, yeah, stop your whining. Man, you really are useless without me, are you?” Ace replied, a victorious smirk suddenly appearing on her face. “But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!”

Shinji frowned in confusion at the Pilot’s words, and that confusion only grew when Ace dramatically raised a finger to the air and then brought her hand back down in the shape of a gun, aimed straight past Shinji.

“BANG!” she pretended to fire, the Third Child cowering a bit when a small, white ball actually shot out from the girl’s fingers and quickly embedded itself in the far wall. Just an instant later, a familiar crimson door with orange trimmings appeared in the exact same spot Ace had attacked.

“Wha-?!” Shinji mouthed, quickly gathering his jaw from the floor and turning an inquisitive towards the Pilot. “Since when can you do that?!”

“Since a while ago. I experimented a little bit on my free time and got it to work, easy, even if I just made it look a bit more dramatic than it strictly needs to be.” Ace blew on her fingers, as if blowing away the smoke of a recently fired handgun, before she threw a meaningful look Shinji’s way. “Not only me, though, I bet you could have done it, too, since you’ve already been inside. But I bet you were too busy doubting yourself to actually try.”

The Third Child winced slightly at the accusation, but offered no rebuke. After all, the idea of trying to summon the crimson door had indeed occurred to Shinji a few times in the past, but Ace was right in her assumption that he had quickly shot down those budding plans as too crazy to actually work, in spite of the fact that he had seen far more unlikely things during his time inside Asuka’s mind. He had always taken refuge in the fact that the red door would show up without fail somewhere nearby whenever synchronisation happened to cover for his fear of failure.

“…Point taken, thanks for the help. Let’s get…” Shinji began with a sigh and a step in the door’s direction, when he noticed that he was going on that journey by himself.“…Wait, you’re not coming?”

“I just told you that someone has to hold the fort, and even if she’s gotten a bit better, I still don’t trust the brat that much.” Ace replied, cocking her head in the direction of her busy twin. She then turned back to Shinji with her usual cocky smirk and gave him a thumbs up. “Just do what you always do, give us some more juice to work with and I’ll handle the rest, promise. You got this!”

“Go get’em Shinji!” a cheerful agreement echoed from down below, the Third Child’s earnest assistant taking a second to pitch in before she focused back on the battle. Shinji then felt his cheeks heat up a little, the sheer amount of trust he had received from the two fronts proving a bit overwhelming.

It was far more encouraging, however.

“Right,” the young man nodded, opening the crimson door. “I’ll be back soon.”
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 Mar 18, 2021 1:08 pm

Chapter 15-6  SPOILER: Show
“Right,” the young man nodded, opening the crimson door. “I’ll be back soon.”

And as he stepped through the gate and the familiar yet still disorienting feeling of nausea settled in, Shinji quickly found himself within the cosy chamber that had almost become a sort of second home over the many days of Asuka’s training, an anchoring point for the zaniness that permeated his roommate’s inner world. After all, while every other part of Asuka’s mind appeared to shift and evolve in response to what happened in the ‘outside’, this room had always remained curiously unchanging. The fireplace still sat at the far wall, red carpet covered the floor, and the three chairs that faced away from each other, occupied by Asuka and the two female residents, stood where they had the very first time Shinji had entered.

It was truly the same that it always was, down to the smallest cracks on the stone wall. Shinji couldn’t help but let out a small sigh of relief.

“You are running late, Ikari,” a chiding voice spoke behind him all of a sudden, causing the Third Child to jump with a squeak.

“GAH!” Shinji quickly spun to face the source and found Maisie, looking somewhat bored. He wasted no time in giving her an irritated look. “Don’t do that! Do the three of you get a kick out of making me jump, or something?!”

“Well, I cannot speak for the others, but I do indeed find it endlessly amusing to watch you squirm,” Maisie replied with a mocking smirk. “And that is your own fault for being so easy to frighten.”

“I wasn’t scared! I just didn’t expect to see you here!” Shinji paused his protest for a second, his brain catching up to who he was speaking to. “…Actually, we were wondering where you had disappeared to.”

“Spare me your white lies, I’m not naïve enough to believe that I would be missed by those two.” Maisie waved her hand in front of her, as if meaning to bat the young man’s words away, before her sarcastic tone returned in full force. “You, on the other hand, I could picture troubling your empty little head. I might have even found the sentiment flattering if it wasn’t so utterly misplaced.”

“…I guess it’s my fault for not seeing that one coming.”

“As it always is,” the Doll replied, walking past Shinji and motioning with her right hand to the sitting Asuka. “But aren’t you here because there was something that you needed to do? Go ahead, don’t let me stop you.”

The Third Child followed Maisie with eyes full of suspicion until she came to a stop a few steps away from the central chair. He didn’t believe the Aspect to hold any malicious intent, but it wasn’t often that she was this accommodating and non-confrontational, either, and it put the primal part of his mind on edge. After a few seconds of hesitation and an expectantly raised eyebrow, however, Shinji decided to trust in Maisie and continue ahead with his intentions. He didn’t truly have a choice in the matter, after all.

And so, going through motions that had quickly become custom, Shinji stepped towards Asuka and sat on the floor in front of her. He spied a glance at the two women at the back and noted, to no surprise, that they had completely failed to react to his presence. The pair had not spoken to either him or Ace again since the first and last time they had conversed, and they showed no intention of changing that even with a different presence in the room.

Pushing that dilemma out of his mind, Shinji grabbed hold of a few of Asuka’s fingers and closed his eyes, trying to synchronise with her as best as he could while intruding as little as possible. He couldn’t help but smile when the fingers he held on to twitched at the contact and he felt a small pushback in his mind from Asuka’s end of the connection, before she relaxed her barriers and allowed him to share the space. At once, Asuka’s mix of anxiety, courage and determination all coursed through him, broken words and visions of what was happening ‘outside’ appearing in his mind’s eye, and all of it made Shinji feel frustrated that he couldn’t do more than he already was.

‘…But that’s just how things are,’ the young man thought to himself, clutching the fingers a bit tighter. ‘Now it’s all up to Asuka and the girls.’

“…Hey,” Shinji then began as he turned back to Maisie, finding the Aspect looking his way with an unreadable expression. “Can I ask you how you found out about this place?”

“You can. You are even fortunate enough that I am willing to indulge your curiosity,” Maisie quickly switched back to her usual haughtiness. “I have known of this room since long before you arrived. In fact, I believe it to be intrinsically tied to my very existence.”

“Tied to you? In what way?”

“What makes you believe I would humour you that far, you cretin?” The Doll narrowed her eyes at the Third Child’s eager follow up before her face fell with a sigh. “…Is what I would like to say, but the truth is that I couldn’t reward your interest any further even if I wished to, for I myself do not know the answer. Putting it into simple terms, my belief is more of a… gut feeling, than anything else.”

Hearing her explanation, Shinji couldn’t stop himself from mimicking Maisie’s downcast expression; here was yet another possible lead that turned out to go nowhere.

“And have you ever tried to get to the other side of those chairs?” he continued, motioning with his head to the two thrones at the back of the room.

“Have you?”

“Yeah, Ace and me both,” Shinji pointed with his left hand to the centre of the red carpet, then back to the crimson door. “We could walk until we reached the middle, more or less, and then we couldn’t get any closer no matter how fast we tried to go, like we were running on a treadmill. Ace even tried to teleport to the other side but that didn’t work, either. She just reappeared next to the door every time she tried.”

“Then you already know my answer,” Maisie replied, matter-of-factly. Yet another dead end.

“And do you… have any idea who they are?” the Third Child finally tried after a minute of silence, fully aware that he was grasping at straws at that point. “Ace and I think that they have something to do with Unit-02, or maybe that they are some other Aspect of Asuka that got stranded here… somehow. But it’s hard to figure out anything more when they refuse to speak back to us. Do you know anything that helps?”

Expecting another quick denial, Shinji was surprised when no fast reply came out of Maisie. He turned his attention to her and found the half-girl staring hard at the two thrones he had been talking about, looking for all intents and purposes like she had not even heard him, like she had completely forgotten that Shinji was with her in the room.

And only a second later, a big part of the young man wished she wouldn’t remember.

Maisie’s expression had morphed into the most menacing scowl that he had ever seen on her, scary enough that it put to shame any of the heated looks Ace had given him in the past. After all, Ace’s judging stares were always filled with a combination of annoyance, disappointment, anger or a sense of rivalry, but at that point, none of that was on display before Shinji.

The look on Maisie’s face was one of pure hatred.

“Hey… A-Are you okay?”

Shinji regretted asking almost as soon as the words left his mouth, Maisie’s menacing look coming to rest squarely on him. The half-girl’s sharp eyes had lost a lot of their edge during the transition, but they were still intimidating enough to make him gulp.

“Of course I am. And no, I don’t know anything about her,” Maisie brutally rebuked him. “Now how about you focus on what’s important before your foolishness gets us all killed?”

Without a word of argument, Shinji made himself smaller, closed his eyes again and did as he had been told.
Author of a few decent Eva stories, which can be found here.

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

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Postby Gryphon117 » Thu Mar 18, 2021 1:15 pm

Turns out I fell short of my earlier account of four or so scenes, I didn't realise this thread had not been updated since August. There are still three more updates to reach the current resting point of the story, so I'll go ahead and post those tomorrow, then try to wake up the muses and get to writing. Might need a while.

Chapter 15-6  SPOILER: Show
“GO TO HELL ALREADY!”

Feeling Shinji’s support at the back of her mind, her ears barely registering a report about increased synchronisation, Asuka brought her glaive around for another strike at her target’s wings. Sparks flying on contact, the Angel’s AT-Field appeared to struggle more with this offensive than the dozens that had preceded it as the Second Child poured everything she could muster into willing the blade past, making microscopic gains before her enemy pushed her back once more.

Asuka clicked her tongue, shifted her stance, and watched as the Angel spun to counterattack, her experience allowing her to easily identify, evade and counter the coming blow with another pointless step in their dance. Before long, and despite the momentary victory that Shinji’s support had given her, the battle had devolved into another stalemate, with Unit-02 unable to penetrate the Angel’s AT-Field and the Angel failing to strike down the irksome red insect buzzing all around it.

“…I don’t get it,” Asuka muttered to herself, deftly stepping to the side of another pearly wing. “Why isn’t it trying to fry me with that stupid laser?”

“We’ve been looking into that,” Misato promptly replied. “And MAGI believe it’s tied to why it couldn’t shoot at you for long before. It might not be capable of keeping its AT-Field up and using the beam at the same time.”

“Finally some damn good news. So keep up the pressure?”

“Yeah, keep giving it hell for the moment. We’re talking to the Russians right now and looking into the possibility of dropping some of the N2 warheads right on top of the Angel, try to overwhelm the field with a combined offensive.”

Asuka’s mouth set into a grim line as she added one more step to her death-waltz, her eyes briefly flicking to the map of the area while the glaive, again, ineffectively sparked against the barrier.

“This close to the city?”

“It’s far from ideal, but we don’t have much of a choice at this point,” Misato confirmed with a hint of regretful acceptance in her words. The damage to the outer ring of Tokyo-3 would be severe, but they could always rebuild. “Focus on your fight for now, I’ll keep you paged on what the MAGI think of the plan.”

“Yeah well, tell them to hurry the hell up, why don’t you…?” Asuka’s complaints went unfinished when she noticed that the defensive step that had followed her latest strike, performed entirely by muscle memory, had evaded no attacks by the Angel. Kicking herself for the slip, the redhead instantly fell into a firmer defensive stance and willed that Unit-02’s AT-Field manifest, watching as all the wings rose skywards as one and appeared to vibrate, an eerie hum enveloping the area and quickly rising in intensity. “…Shit, the freak’s wisened up! What’s it doing now?!”

And it was at that moment that Asuka felt an immense force strike against her defences, a push so violent that it sent Evangelion Unit-02 flying back first through the air until it crashed past three of the city’s outer armoury buildings. Sliding to a stop in a disjointed heap and completely disoriented for more than a few moments, Asuka eventually coughed and groaned in pain, squinting past the dizziness, rolling the crimson titan onto its stomach and dragging herself to what appeared to be cover.

“Misato!” she struggled to yell into the comms amidst the lessening coughing fits. “What… just happened?”

But static was the only reply that returned. Asuka smashed her fist against the side of the Entry Plug and let out an angry Teutonic curse, catching her breath before she risked a peek out of the side of the massive slab of concrete that protected her and quickly locating the Angel in the distance: its wings still reached towards the sky above but the Angel appeared otherwise immobile. Asuka couldn’t help but gawk at how much smaller it suddenly looked, however. Her instruments were indicating a sudden distance of four kilometres between them.

“Misato! Goddammit, Misato! This is not the time to go silent on me!”

“Status re-!” the voice of the person she had been wishing to hear finally made it through the sea of static. “-suka! Asuka, respond!”

“I’m here! What the hell just happened?!”

A deep sigh of relief reached Asuka’s ears before Misato joined in her line of questioning. “Yeah, Ritsuko! What the hell just happened?!”

“In layman’s terms, the Angel appears to have extended its AT-Field outwards with unprecedented force and reach, pushing you all the way back to the city. It has since returned to its original size, but the field’s advance as well as the resulting shockwave appear to have possessed similar properties to those of an electro-magnetic blast,” the Doctor tersely replied, among the shuffle of feet and the sound of hurried keystrokes. “The effect has not reached deep inside the Geofront, but I would wager that most of the electronics on the surface are either completely fried or offline, pending reboot. The latter will take some minutes.”

“Great. A blackout is exactly what we needed right now,” Misato’s words betrayed how she was probably reaching for the bridge of her nose at that moment in time. “How are you holding up, Asuka? Any damage we might not know about?”

“No, I’m a little dizzy, but I’m… okay…” Asuka trailed off, her eyes slowly widening as she caught sight of hundreds of tiny stars twinkling in the evening sky, stars that would appear in no chart known to man, with dozens and dozens more joining the grandiose constellation with every passing second. “Whoa…”

“…Asuka? What’s wrong?”

The stars twinkled one last time and then, fell back to the earth in droves.

And the only thing Asuka could do was scream.



>-O]|[O-<​

“AAAAAAAAGH! DU ARSCHLOCH! Misato! Misato, ES TUT WEH!”

“Asuka?! What’s going on?!” Misato’s loud demand echoed through the command centre but was quickly swallowed by Asuka’s howls of pain. Quickly realising that she would get no answers out of her pilot, however, the Major’s demands shifted targets. “Did the beam fire again?!”

“It can’t be, we’re getting no hostile energy readings from Unit-02! This must be something else!” Hyuga reported back, before he paused on one of the newest reports. “Wait! These are…”

Misato was at his side like a hawk on a hare, grabbing on to the monitor and rushing through the reports for any sign of answers.

“Damage reports from the armoury buildings? Taken down by hundreds of impacts?” she read, her military mind already busy concocting a few likely scenarios. “How are we getting this?”

“The… physical line to the building itself must still be operational.”

“Then update the situation map with all the buildings that have been shredded like this, we need to get an idea of the damage range of this new threat! And check if any of the visual feeds in the city are still online. Give me eyes on what’s going on, even if it’s from a damn security camera!” taking but a moment to ensure that the holographic map was properly updating and everyone were trying their hardest to ensure the second part of her command, Misato whirled on Maya, a simple, yet crucial demand on her lips. “How’s Asuka?!”

“Unit-02 has received extensive damage to the torso, arms and thighs! Multiple lacerations and heavy bleeding in some areas! Mobility has been compromised! The Pilot’s vitals are stable, but I’m reading an increased heartbeat and her brain activity is all over the place!” Maya turned to Misato, shaken. “I-I think she’s panicking, Major! Asuka’s synch-rate is plummeting! She won’t be able to deploy her AT-Field like this!”

“I’ve found a working camera!” Aoba reported from the other end of the bridge. “Patching it to the main screen!”

As one, everyone in the bridge turned to the front of the room, Aoba working the battered and barely functional device to turn and face the fight outside. Smoke and debris clouded much of the feed, but the quality was good enough to spot many shiny dots rising skywards within the vicinity of the Angel, then being shot forward like bullets, the resulting image being one where Unit-02 appeared to be receiving concentrated and never-ending fire from a hundred airborne heavy machineguns.

“…Are those… its feathers? It’s like a rain of knives…” Misato quickly reasoned, turning back to Hyuga. “Dammit! Force cut the connection, we need to keep the Pilot safe!”

“And what about the plug? Do we eject?”

Misato bit her tongue before she could respond with a resolute ‘YES’. Ejecting the Entry Plug would mean the definite end of Unit-02’s contribution to the fight, and leave the way to the heart of NERV completely open. All their hopes of beating this Angel rode on Asuka piloting Unit-02 and doing it herself, the only deviations from that plan available to them were to either send Makinami on a suicide mission with Unit-01 that was unlikely to change anything, or to activate the self-destruct of NERV HQ and hope that the resulting blast took the Angel with them.

Misato’s military mind was clear on what choice needed to be made, what choice had the greatest objective chance of success. But the side of her that refused to see the Second Child as just a Pilot screamed that there was no guarantee that the Angel would stop its attack the moment Unit-02 went inactive. In that case, every second that Asuka spent inside the plug could easily mean her death.

Misato found herself at a crossroads and, for perhaps the only time in her military career, she hesitated.

“No. We won’t be able to insert the plug again if we eject now and Unit-02 is our last active unit in the field. We’ll have to hope that the Angel stops considering the inactive EVA as a threat and gives us a chance to regroup and strike back, there’s a precedent for them acting in such a manner.” Misato promptly turned to Ritsuko, and her glare was one that could have pierced a hole through the side of NERV HQ. The Doctor, however, took it with little more than an apologetic shrug. “…Don’t look at me like that. It’s what you were thinking but didn’t want to say.”

Ritsuko was completely right on all accounts, she realised, but resisting the urge to slap her right then and there still took all of Misato’s self-control. Instead, she balled her fists and stoically turned back to the screen as the severance command was issued, Misato’s heart rising to her throat as Unit-02 shut off and the crimson titan slumped forward and to its knees, defenceless and utterly defeated.

Mercifully, the Angel’s barrage stopped soon after.

“Unit-02… is silent.”
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 Akomis » Thu Mar 18, 2021 2:32 pm

Thank you for the updates! I loved them.


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