[Fic] New Perspective Evangelion 11... yes it is still going

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[Fic] New Perspective Evangelion 11... yes it is still going

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Postby Dartz » Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:53 pm

Nearly a year since the last update, here we go. This one's going a little bit slow, thanks to a dead harddrive other projects and a tendency to delete thousands of words at a time after I decided I didn't like them, but I have cool thing's planned.

First parts start here , but I don't exactly like them anymore because I've sort of moved on in style... I may re-edit and concatenate the lot together into longer parts

They locked the three of us in a small presentation room, myself, Asuka and Misato. The room itself was barely big enough to fit Misato's Alpine inside, and most of what space there was, was taken up by a fibreboard conference table, covered in cheap veneer. I sat myself between Misato and Asuka, not really deliberately so. It didn't matter anyway, all the chairs where the same folding black-plastic bum-numbers.

I sat there, boiling in a cauldron of shame and self consciousness. While Captain Katsuragi was stunning her full dress uniform, an elegant combination of navy and wine with silver trim, along with a slightly too small forage cap, Asuka and I had been stuck into general fatigues... the same tan uniform the bridge bunnies enjoyed.

The blouse was fine. Light and airy, even if the fibres were a little coarse and some of the stitching on the red shoulder pads tickled with loose threads. The belt clasped firmly around the waist and the red beret with was neat, even if my hair had to be tied back to meet regulations nobody else seemed to bother with. The flat shoes, I could live with despite them trying to slip off my feet constantly. Even the opaque white tights I found disturbingly comfortable.

I fucking hated the miniskirt.

“Now then, this is a proper military occasion,” Misato continued with her last minute briefing. “Remember your actual ranks, Lieutenants. Remember to stand and salute, and remember to use proper title to superior officers. You're in the military now.”

Misato grinned, and Asuka clearly loved it. Misato was to be Captain Katsuragi, Asuka to be Lieutenant Sorhyu, and I was only Lieutenant JG Nagato. We even had our own sidearms, to keep the military theme going. The FN Five-Seven in the holster on my hip still weighed heavy despite being unloaded. NERV was determined to show the world it was a genuine military force.

The gun like a plastic airsoft toy, not a real weapon.

The base' air conditioning parched the air, leaving our mouth's like deserts. There was supposed to be a catering service with water, tea, coffee and sandwiches, but that wouldn't arrive until after our guests.

“Also, try to remember the proper names and titles of our visitors from the US Air Force, who own the Nevada test facility, and our test staff,” our commanding officer carried on, “Brigadier General Johnston, Major Arizona and Lieutenant Roberts, and of course our own Doctor Langley and Captain Shikinami,”

Asuka twitched and fidgeted in her chair for a second, while I considered an old fanfiction I'd just been reminded of by one of the officers’ names. And here I was living it....

I fiddled with the bracelet on my arm for a few minutes, thinking about the previous night with Misato. I thought about what she'd said for a brief moment, and the box waiting for me at home. After the test, she was going to drag me kicking and screaming through the contents of that box, for better or worse for my sanity.

There was more to my guardian than beer, boobs and the occasional tease.... she was so much smarter than anyone would dare give her credit for, her warming big-sister aura hiding a mind that seemed wisened beyond her years. She was right about one thing that made me feel better, maybe there were other things….

My thoughts starting rolling towards a rather unsettling conclusion, and I jumped track's abruptly.

“No name for 5th Child?” I questioned.

“It's a surprise,” Misato grinned back at us. “I want to let him introduce himself,”

“Fine, be like that.” I snarled, pouting.

She stuck her tongue out at me.

And sometimes, Misato could almost be a teenage girl...

I sighed, leaning back on my chair, shoddy plastic creaking under my weight. I wanted to see this Pilot and get it over with, then having some fun getting my ass handed to me by Asuka in Unit 02, and blowing simulated kaiju up with simulated weapons for twelve hours. That would be fun. Not sitting here bored to death by latecomers, but actually blowing stuff up...

Stuff blowing up was always fun. It appealed to the baser instincts within.

The briefing papers were dry... a new railgun that took its power from the EVA's batteries seeming the only interesting thing. There a lot of stuff about how the proposed Unit 04 was supposed to work in tandem with Unit 03, something about trying to replicate the successes of the 7th Angel and some sort of ballistic missile system.

So somebody had decided it would be a good idea to have me work closely together with the new male pilot, who'd been described as bishounen by at least three different people. Were people purposely trying to confuse me even more? I was already a bit whimsical in the brainpan, and I got the feeling that people were looking at me as the least stable of the four pilots…and the least competent. The sword of Damocles was hanging over my fledgling career and my own self identity was under siege thanks to my body.

Never underestimate the ability of this world to screw with your head, I told myself, and never underestimate its ability to let you do most of its work for you.

Doctor Akagi breezed in through the door.... the same way she always seemed to... she was always in a hurry, rushing from place to place as if someone was chasing her with a gun.

“They will be coming shortly, the briefing with the Commander ran long,” stated the Doctor brusquely, “Now remember, we have to make a good impression on these people... the Commander is trying to secure the release of Unit 04. General Johnston has the ear of the US government; they will likely follow his final recommendation. Five Evangelions will make our lives so much easier.”

“Five Eva's... a person could take over the world with that sort of power,” Joked Misato...”Mister Bond,”

Her impression of Blofeld however, was sorely lacking. The Cheshire cat grin killed it. I appreciated the delicious irony in her words. Especially compared to the last time I'd heard them in animation.

“That's exactly what's bothering the Americans, Misato.” chided Ritsuko, “They're afraid we will use EVA technology against them, once the Angels have been defeated”

“They're being morons,” scoffed Nerv's tactical director, “The EVA is a defensive weapon only, relying on a specific pilot, with an extremely limited run-time away from an extremely limited cable-length, only available within the limits of this city. And, as I recall, that's why the Security Council demanded we limit the battery life of the Eva's in the first place,”

“They did that on purpose?” Asuka blurted out, taking the words straight off my own tongue. Thief. “What if we don't have electric power?”

“Yes, they did,” confirmed the doctor sourly, “We have 20 minute removable backups incase that happens, but with three backup power supplies for the city itself, and priority to the Eva supplies, they should never be necessary,”

I snickered quietly into my hand, trying desperately to just sit there quiet.

“What's so funny?”

“Never say never,” I giggled, grinning stupidly.

The woman just looked at me, bemused for a second.

“A total power failure is impossible; it could only be done on purpose by someone with specific knowledge of our system,”

“Person who built Titanic say sinking it is impossible too.” I countered. The Titanic was built by professionals, the Pacific continent by amateurs.

Akagi just glared at me. I win. Haha. Or I would win whenever the next Angel got its arse around to showing up. She didn't like me anyway. Of course, I had the benefit of fore-hindsight, and I was going to smugly revel in it. Sitting back down into my chair I could sense the irritation radiating off of Akagi, and I lapped it up. It occurred to me that maybe I was being a little childish about it, but fuck that... I was technically 14; I was still entitled to be childish if I wanted to be... Or Noriko was.... or something.

“Noriko,” pressed Misato crossly.

I didn't answer her.

Shinji was doing that gamer club thing with Kensuke, as he did every Saturday. Apparently, it started off as Misato's idea, but he'd seemed pretty enthused about it himself this morning. I knew where I'd rather be. Given a choice between gamers rolling D20's to meet in an imaginary tavern, and sitting through a dry, braindead military briefing, there was no choice.

I sat there gently fingering strands of hair, forking them apart, twirling them through my fingers, tying half loops and loose knots which fell out under their own weight. A day later, or so it seemed....time flies when you're having fun.... the door was pushed open by some red-capped non-com outside.

“In here sirs,” said the non-com.

I recognised him....I did see him regularly guarding the main gates....but I'd never found out his name. Well, everyone knows what happens to NPC's who never get named. The old roleplayers maxim made me wonder, was he the same man stabbed in the back when the JSSDF invaded... or when they will invade….or whatever?

That's not something to think about! I squelched the thought hard.

4 men, 1 woman, and a boy marched in.

I hiccuped, nearly screaming when I saw him. A stunned shudder ran through my body, a bolt of terror, a shock of fury and a thrill of confusion.

Why was he here?

There was no-one else he could be.... Not with that alabaster skin, not with those blood red eyes and not with his rough, concrete toned hair. The Fifth Children stood opposite me, wearing an emotionless smile.... his eyes stared right into me, filled with what I saw as demonic malice. He wore the same...or similar uniform as me, the same style beret, the same rank insignia on his collar, replacing only the skirt with slack trousers.

I'd seen him before, in my dreams.... or nightmares.

“Stand,” whispered Captain Katsuragi, “And salute,”

I nearly tripped, feeling about ready to trip. I fumbled a little, drawing a dark glare from Asuka from ruining her martial perfection. It's not my fault. The uniformed men, answered in kind. They towered over us, a head and shoulders taller than Misato, or Ritsuko. I suddenly realised just how small I was. Even the boy, the Fifth Children, had a few inches on me.

And still he was smiling that God awful smile.

“Gentlemen,” Ritsuko spoke up, snapping me out of it. “To my right, is Captain Misato Katsuragi, Director of Operations, and Third in Command,” Misato bowed, “Lieutenant Asuka Langley Sorhyu, Pilot of Evangelion Unit 02,” Asuka nodded, a smirk on her face., “And Finally, Lieutenant Junior Grade, Noriko Nagato, Pilot of Evangelion Unit 03,”

And she was emphasising 'Junior'. I smiled warmly, forcing my attention away from the child. He wasn't there, he was a figment of my imagination, some kooky hallucination.... that bastard brought me here, now he was fucking with my head!

Back to work... be official. Ignore him.... or it...

“It's a pleasure to meet you ladies,” bowed the first of the Americans, General Johnston according to has name-tag. He was a warm man, his voice have a soft, southern edge to it. He reminded me so much of Colonel Sanders it wasn't funny. Same hair, same beard, even the same confederate gentleman personality.

I wondered if it was all an act, or if he really was the personification of the lost mom-and-pop image of the good 'ol US. If it wasn't for the blue uniform... which managed to remind me so much of Stargate SG-1... I'dve sworn he was just another average Joe.

“I am General Carl Johnston of the United States Air Force, Commanding officer of Groom Lake Airforce base.”

The man on his left, opposite Misato stood up... he seemed to me to be the exact opposite of the General. As a man, he seemed short, severe and too the point.

“Major Micheal Arizona, Air Force liaison Officer to NERV,”

The third officer rose to his feet.... clean, fresh faced, and on the surface completely unremarkable, expect for his green eyes. He was almost a boy within his uniform, maybe a couple of years older than myself. I guess if I'd been a girl... a real one.... I might've found him 'cute'.

“Lieutenant Rainier Roberts, my adjutant,”

The woman stood up, short, mousy and Japanese, she was wearing the same uniform as me, with Captain's insignia on her collar.

“NERV liaison to the Airforce, Captain Ichiko Shikinami,”

Wasn't that Asuka's name in some AU? I couldn't remember for sure. The man beside her rose to his feet, opposite Asuka. He wore a dark business suit, but his hair that same rust-red, his eyes that same ice blue. Father and daughter shared a chilling gaze that sucked the heat right out of the room. Ritsuko Akagi, smirked at her opposite number.

“Doctor Kyle Langley, Director of Sierra project,”

Finally, it was the boy's turn, but I already knew exactly who he was.

“Fifth Children and Test Pilot of Unit Zero-Four, Kawaoru Nagisa.”

He bowed low, regarding each of us with those evil eyes of his.

“It is a pleasure to meet you all,” he said, voice soft and almost effemeninate... a sickening purr devoid of all human emotion, “Where is the Third? I was hoping I could see him today.”

I felt physically sick.

“I'm afraid he couldn't make it,” answered Akagi.

Nagisa nodded.... he wasn't disappointed. I was certain he couldn't even be disappointed. Such an inhuman thing... he made my skin crawl.

“So how's it going, Asuka?” her father asked, his voice rough, roguish stubble framing a Harrison Ford jaw.

“I'm doing fine without you, father”

She was brutally polite, perfectly proper, and still stabbing a knife into his heart as best she could. She wore that savage 'I want to eat your heart raw while you watch' grin of hers. The elder Langley, seemed impervious.

“Miss Nagato,” he addressed me, offering a polite handshake, “I knew your mother well, her sudden death was a tragedy for us all.”

Plastic grief. It was so obvious, so bloody phony. She wasn't even my mother, but still he was pissing me off.

“Thank you,” I nodded, not meaning it either. As much as I wanted to tell him to bugger off, it just wasn't something to do at a formal meeting.

“And your Father aswell, that leaves you alone now, doesn't it?”

Fuck off, I willed.

Asuka wanted to stab him. She was picturing the bloody knife in her hands.

“No, I have Captain Katsuragi, she's my guardian.”

That surprised the hell out of her.

“And yours aswell Asuka?” he left me be. “I do hope she's been treating you well,”

“Can we get started, please,” the American General put the brakes on him, “I for one, can't wait to see our new equipment in action, and I'm sure the young ladies here are as excited as I am.”

I almost could've kissed him.

“Yes, let's get started,” Akagi cut in, chilling the air.

Her, or the glares Asuka was throwing her father. Misato's mind was still doing cartwheels. One of the officers unrolled a silver screen from the ceiling.

Americans always had the unique ability.... especially Californians.... of sounding just like that condescending school principal everyone hated, even when they were just trying to give a presentation. While I was sure it was nothing intentional, I got the feeling Lieutenant Roberts was talking right down at me, as if I was just a stupid kid beneath contempt.

It made paying active attention to just about anything she was saying or doing a mind-frying chore.

I was more concerned with Nagisa.

Why was he... no it... here now?

It was responsible for me being here.... I was sure of that. I'd seen him...it... in my dreams. He'd spoken right to me.

He did this to me.

He took me from my comfortable life and threw me into this body. I didn't know whether I wanted to kill him or not. Maybe just maim him gently. Or send him to Thailand for... surgery.

That idea put a smile on my face. Even if it would lack the shock factor of waking up and suddenly realising that she had to use a different bathroom. Something else told me he probably wouldn't give a damn either way....

But it'd make me feel better.

Then I could drop her in front of a pit of animé fanboys, and watch as the bought dolls of her and drew her into Yuri doujins with Pen-Pen-ko. And a griddle.

It was much better than the dull.... but still attractive...Lieutenant, who was discussing the current transient control reactors for the railgun, and how if the US was shipping Unit 04 to Tokyo-3..... they had to fall back to the old minutemen.

The nuclear option would do the job, even if it did have Misato turning a ghostly white. But it really wasn't an option for a country as densely populated as Japan. The EVA was the only weapon which could kill an Angel, without killing everything in a 15 kilometre radius. Compared to the alternative, the collateral damage after the average EVA sortie was minimal.

Of course Misato paled and commented about mankind repeating the mistakes of the past. Ritsuko commented about logic and 'the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few'. Asuka seemed genuinely horrified that if she lost, she might be incinerated at the drop of the hat... but then concluded that was a good excuse not to lose, and it didn't matter anyway because she wasn't going to lose.

I was more concerned with the Nyarlathotep wannabe sitting across from me, redolent with sinister serenity. He just smiled an almost dainty smile.... devoid of any feeling.

The general was next up, discussing combat tactics, and how Unit's 03 and 04 were designed to operate in tandem with each other. Unit 04 was the spotter, painted silver to reflect the heat of the atomic flash. Unit 03 was the missile carrier. Both were armoured enough to shrug off a megaton blast as a gust of hot wind. It was both terrifying and thrilling at the same time.

“But,” reassured the General, “recognising the Japanese government’s three-principles on atomic weapons, those systems were removed. Both machines were rendered nuclear incapable,” A disappointing relief. “Though the missile systems themselves can still be armed with N2 warheads,”

He had a better presentation style... a little easier to follow. He seemed to talk to me, rather than down at me. Still, it was a pain in the arse to sit through... literally... the chairs where hell on my butt.

Defence policies of NERV. Cooperation between NERV and the US armed forces stationed in Japan. US contributions to the UN tank battalions. Costs and budgeting. Operational procedures and cross communication procedures between US, UN, NERV and JSSDF forces. Orders of command precedence.

The upshot was, NERV retained ultimate authority in the field. The pilots could also use NERV's command authority to order ground and air forces around... to avoid stomping the crunchies in tanks…which was a real problem… or to distract a target with air-strikes from orbiting B1's, Vulcans and Tu-22's.

The downside was; that was only after the Japanese government allowed us to. Until then, we were subject to direct UN command, and part of the same chain of command as all other UN forces.

Why was the US were talking about UN and close cooperation? Maybe it really was an all-for-one mentality? All nations for one human race, one human race for all nations?

There was something comforting about it. After Second Impact, all nations of the world had come together and said 'Never Again'. And this time, they'd meant it. There had been one full blown war in the 15 years since the Valentine Treaty... in Vietnam. And it had lasted 2 weeks before the JSSDF and UN forces had ended it. The peoples of the world were too busy trying to get back on their feet to bother with the expense of war. It was world peace, or near enough to it, and all it took was the deaths of 3 billion people.

Or more likely, it was a marriage of convenience until everyone was ready to start killing each other again.

The meeting dragged on. I think the Pilots were only there as a political stunt of some sort, to prove that we actually existed.

Nagisa sat serenely. Staring at me.

My skin prickled with static, charging with electric current.

An object in motion will continue in motion in a straight line until acted upon by some external force. Newton's Second law. His words in my dreams. And now himself in person. As malignant as a cancer in the room.

“Doctor Langley will now discuss the design and construction procedures, aswell as the temporary modifications to Unit 03 for these tests, the improvements being made for Unit 04, aswell as projected construction designs for 10, 11 and 12,”

Like the announcer at the Oscars, he turned the floor over to a new chapter in boredom. What made this worse was that this was something I actually had to pay attention too. Was this a secret endurance test? How long can the Pilot's stay awake in the face of unremitting boredom? How many times over could I count the tiles on the roof?

Or trace my finger on a pen-scratching on the table announcing something involving the Commander, Mt. Akagi and a bunch of other stuff I couldn't figure out? Either that meant 'loneliness', or somebody was struggling to spell 'service' correctly.

Asuka's father stood up, pulled the creases out of his suit, and coughed a little into his hand. He stared down at his daughter for a second, offering her a paternal smile. She answered with the most hateful scowl, like he'd boiled her pet cat alive once and forced her to eat the stew left behind.

“Alright,” he coughed again, clearing his throat, “The Sierra Project involves the research of energy weapons powered by an onboard power supply within the Evangelion itself, the provision of onboard power and the development of a prototype.”

10:30 am, according to the clock on the wall.

Was it running slow?

It felt like it had been years.

Decades even.

“As part of the test regime, Unit 03 has been retrofitted with a power take off, using the onboard batteries as a placeholder energy source. The aim being to test and verify the function of the power regulation algorithms.”

I'm sharing a room with the devil's apprentice, and I'm being bored to death by a lecture dryer than the Atacama desert. Railguns may be cool, but not when you understand the vast majority of the theory behind their operation, but still have to sit through a lecture on basic electromagnetism.

I leaned over and whispered in Asuka's ear, “Why can't he just get on with it? I know this stuff,”

She just looked at me, like I'd told her I was the final Angel.

“How do you know that?” she interrogated, her voice a harsh whisper.

“I read my fathers textbooks,” I lied off the cuff. He was supposed to be an engineer, wasn’t he?

For a moment, she seemed genuinely impressed by that. That was a good feeling.

“The transient current magnitude is controlled by these two reactors mounted under the barrel. By varying the position of the iron core within the reactors themselves, the quality of the reactor, and hence the rate of change of current can be controlled, giving an effective method of power and recoil adjustment.”

Still Nagisa sat there, studying me.

Red eyes, glistening. Blood red eyes.

“Unlike with coilguns, magnetic saturation of the projectile is not an issue, allowing extremely high velocities to be achieved, on the order of approximately 10 kilometers per second, giving kinetic energies more than capable of penetrating an AT field.”

Eyes that had seen aeons, it seemed.

“Don’t stare at the new boy,” whispered Asuka in my ear, her breath tickling like a buzzing mosquito. “Or does someone have a crush?”

“No!” I snapped back at her.

Silence,

“Is there something you wish to add, Lieutenant?”

Bloody hell. Thanks Asuka, thanks a fucking bunch. Every eye in the room turned to me. Another reason for Akagi to think I was nuts. Think! Think quick. Find something to say that isn’t ‘Sorry’. What do I know about high current electronics and railguns?

“Um..” the gears in my mind began to turn, turning up Wikipedia pages, textbook pages and slashdot articles. “How are you…” I realised I could switch back to my native language, “How are you making sure there’s good contact between the rails and the projectile, to minimise damage due to high current arcing? Or how many shots do we get before the rails disintegrate?”

It was Ritsuko’s turn to gawk. For the briefest of moments, I took her off guard. I knew something she didn’t… or didn’t expect me to. That was so satisfying; the most a polite ‘fuck you’ imaginable. The Americans were definitely impressed, Langley smirking. I’d seen the same smirk on his daughters face any time she’d been given the chance to show just how gifted she was.

“We use a sacrificial conductive foam wadding on the projectile contacts which ensures reliable contact between rail and projectile. The foam turns to plasma, and is used to impart further energy to the projectile, aswell as protecting the rails by laying a fresh coating of conductive carbon behind after every shot. Each barrel is good for over 100 shots. Will that be enough?”

As slick as a snake-oil salesman, with barely a half second’s thought. I just nodded smugly, settling down into the warmth my own self satisfaction. Nagisa chuckled ever so slightly, and a cold chill ran up my back, a feeling that someone was walking on my grave.

Akagi whispered something in Misato’s ear, drawing a curt nod from the Captain. Badmouthing me again? Or was I just being paranoid? That woman hated me.

“Where were we?” Langley coughed again, “Right. Using these reactors does leave a high power EMF when the current cuts off after the projectile has left the barrel, which if not compensated for would cause damage to the Evangelion’s battery systems, or other power source.”…the S2 engine in Unit 04, just spit it out…. “A software controlled solid state switch shunts this current into cap-bank mounted here..” he gestured towards the blueprints on the projector, “..in the rifle’s stock. Switches then change polarity, allowing this energy to be used to part-power the next shot. This reduces power draw for subsequent shots, after the first.”

The clock ground around.

Tick… Tock.

Tick… Tock.

Who makes the clock tick by, When will my fate be ready? Do I get prior warning Am I told? Are there no surprises? What song was that again? I knew I’d heard it somewhere. I shrugged and decided it wasn’t so important.

“Now we move on to integration with the onboard HUD and targeting control systems…”

I counted the seconds.

Then minutes.

Ritsuko badgered with questions about systems integration, software reliability, and assurances from third-party contractors. The Americans loved third-party contractors. And dull, dry things. Dull as old silver. Dry as Sahara bones.

Then….

A knock at the door.

“I think it’s time we break for sandwiches,” said a relieved Misato.

The whole room exhaled. Except for the Angel, he couldn’t care less. But food would make everyone feel better.

“So, you’re the Fifth child then,” Asuka swung into her usual routine. “Lieutenant Asuka Sorhyu, pilot of Unit 02, pleased to meet you.”

I noticed she watched the reactions of her father as she dropped the Langley. He didn’t give two hoots, he was too busy waffling with Akagi and Misato, and keeping the blue-shirts from the USAF happy.

“The Second Child,” he purred, “Es ist eine freude, sie zu erfüllen”

I blanked.

“Sie sind Deutsche?”

Whatever she was saying about Germany, she was pleasantly amused by it. Maybe she was surprised just how German Kawaoru was.

“Ja….”

I didn’t even try to follow it. The pair carried on with their Rammstein duet. The adults were duelling over the history of the Evangelion project in English, while Misato sat back and tried to look like an understanding professional.

“So, Nagisa is quite the bishounen, isn’t he?” she purred….

“I not like Nagisa,” is all I said. Arms folded.

“Asuka didn’t like Shinji at first, but she got over it,” Memories of a hundred Shinji/Asuka lemons sent shudders down my spine. I will hate Nagisa. No matter what happens. I will hate him for taking me from my home, from my life, for the rest of my life.

I growled into my own chest.

“Nice question by the way. From the looks of it, I think you impressed our guests,”

And all of a sudden, I felt good about myself again. Not only that, but it reaffirmed my identity. Not as the 14 year old girl and mecha pilot, but the 22 year old engineer who was just about to finish final year in university before some bloody Angel decided it would be hilarious to see how well he would do as a 14 year old girl and mecha pilot.

I murdered a ham sandwich. I’d rather have murdered the Angel.

“Now that we’re all refreshed, shall we get back to work?”

As usual, Akagi ended the fun.

The meeting would last for another hour.

----->>

“That Fifth Child is creepy,” said Asuka, unbuttoning her blouse, “a complete freakazoid like the First,”

I turned around to make sure Rei wasn’t in the changing room. Not that she’d actually care, mind.

“Yeah, he is a bit…” I had to search for the right word “…a bit queer. And I don’t mean his sexual orientation. I mean, look at the way he smiles, the way he talks, it’s like one of those uncanny-valley CGI film characters. Emotion on the outside, but hollow and false on the inside,”

The opposite of Rei then, almost. Asuka nodded.

“His German is too perfect; he speaks like a dictionary, rather than a human being. He reminds me of a serial killer. At least the Third is human”…a beat, followed by a quick backpeddle, “That doesn’t mean that I like Shinji of course, just that I prefer him to this freaky Volker Eckert Fifth child.”

I threw her a disbelieving look. Yes Miss Tsundere, I believe you, you don’t like Shinji at all.

“At least you don’t have to work with him,” I mumbled bitterly. Here’s hoping that when Unit 04 goes pop in Nevada, it’ll take Kawaoru with it.

Now that was a comforting thought. All my problems disappear in a mushroom cloud.

I pulled my plugsuit up around my body, nestling parts into their proper places. A click of a switch, and it hugged my skin, trapped air exhausting from vents on the hips, back and shoulders. A little tighter across the chest than usual…

You’re a growing young woman Noriko, Misato’s voice whispered in my ear.

A few swings of my arms to try and fix the fit…which failed…. And I shrugged it off. Deep breath. Hold it. Close my eyes. Open and exhale slowly.

I wasn’t a girl.
I wasn’t a woman.
I wasn’t a man.
I wasn’t any of those.

In my plugsuit, I was the 4th Child. Now, I was the Pilot of Unit 03.

Asuka’s red suit compressed around her body.

“Don’t worry Asuka, I’ll go easy on you,” I teased.

“Pride comes before a fall, 4th child,” she swaggered. “Besides, I’ll look bad if you make it too easy for me to beat you.”

Spoken as if her beating me was an absolute certainty. It probably was. Unless I could think of something really cunning, really quickly…

Whatever it was, I’d only ever get one chance to do it.

----->>

I tried to put Thursday out of my mind… but it still lingered, sending chills through my body was the LCL began to trickle in. I knew the Eva wouldn’t harm me, but what I knew didn’t matter one iota to my subconscious.

The blood of Lilith was rising quickly up my chest.

I could defeat my subconscious. This proved as much. Close my eyes. Take one last deep breath of blood tasting air, and wait for the LCL to rise above my head. Open Eyes. Open mouth and blow bubbles, listening to them pop like gunshots in the liquid. Then inhale and feel fine.

The human body breathed liquid for 9months, it wasn’t hard to teach it to do it again. Just remember not do it when swimming in open water.

Going back from liquid to air, was still about 5 minutes of coughing, puking and hacking gobbets of phlegm and red gel across the floor. Ed Harris made that part look easy.

Then came the rush… growing a thousand feet in three seconds. My mind expanded to fill the void within the EVA, ghosts of sensations from the armour and cage locks dancing through my awareness. I gripped the twin throttles tightly, anchoring myself back in my own body.

A few quick checks over the displays around me. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing felt wrong.

“Unit 03 has activated. All systems green.”

Maya Ibuki answered me.

“Acknowledge Unit 03. Launch in 5 minutes. ”

American accents burred in the background. The Generals face appeared beside me.

“Zero-Three. Lieutenant,”…he pronounced it Loo-tenant… “Remember pilot, you’re not just riding in a machine. You’re riding on the hopes and dreams of two hundred million Americans invested in your machine, invested in a future for the human race. We stand behind you, all of us. And we entrust our fate to your courageous hands. Do your best us, Lieutenant.”

There was an almost tearful glimmer in his eye.

“I will,” I smiled back.

He probably took my smile as being one of confidence, a young girl, bright eyed and looking forward to saving the planet, freedom, bald eagles and all that. Truth be told, I was trying desperately hard not to giggle stupidly. I couldn’t help but be reminded of all those silly rousing movie speeches…especially that Roland Emmerich movie. To be fair to the man, he really did mean it…Americans were the only people in the world who could credibly spout that sort of jingoistic cheese, and while I didn’t generally go in for jingoism and the like, I could at least play along.

Just don’t start bawling laughing.

Try sound imperious and confident.

“The hopes and dreams of humanity,” I started, “Will be my drill to break through our enemies, to pierce the heavens themselves and touch the face of God.”

I didn’t even know if that animé had ever existed anymore. The fact that I was half-quoting Kamina will sitting in an Evangelion just made it funnier. It took all my willpower not to just burst out laughing afterwards.

“Well said,” said the General.

It did make me feel good in a strange way. I nodded firmly at the General, and put him out of my mind, cycling through a few prelaunch checks. The Eva was there, observing. Just observing. Keeping her distance. She didn’t mean to hurt me, I told myself.

“Hi,” I projected at her, feeling a nervous thrill run through my body.

I felt her smile rise through my body, covering me like a warm blanket of happiness. She would keep me safe. She wouldn’t hurt me. She would protect me as she would protect her own daughter.

Do your best, Eva.

She would. It wasn’t her fault we were going to lose anyway. It was a simple spar, best of three rounds. I was almost sure I’d win the first. I was bloody certain I’d be squashed for the next 2. But if I could pull my first move off, it wouldn’t matter what Asuka did afterwards. After all, it was expected for her to win all three, wasn’t it?

“Unit 03 to launch position,”

Ibuki again. The machine slowly began to move backwards towards the launch rails, while I hummed the Thunderbirds theme.

Ibuki; “Unit 03 launch set to manual-soft,”

“Copy,” I answered, changing settings, “Manual-soft set,”

The monster machine locked into the launch rails, clamps and runners highlighting green on my HUD.

Ibuki; “Geofront launch route three. Power Connection Gamma-3 on surface. Field data has been uploaded. Launch at will, Good hunting,”

“Roger that, Launch at will,”

Just push the little red button and go.

3G of acceleration crushed my body down into the seat, drawing a gentle grunt as my insides tried to stay behind on the launch pad. I took it in my stride, taking time to admire the views outside. Compared to a 7G combat launch, this was gentle. LCL and a reclined seating position took a good deal of it, but there was a reason we had to do all our physical training… and it wasn’t because plugsuits wouldn’t look so nice over a beer-gut or bangle-butt.

Not entirely anyway.

All pilots were expected to have health problems in later life, but all that mattered was that we were fit and healthy for the next 12 months or so. Long enough to save humanity. Long enough to turn to orange jelly. Maybe that’s when I got to go home?

Wake up warm in my own bed, trudge to the bathroom.... actually have my rather classy beard back. And probably get halfway through shaving my legs before realising I didn’t have to do that anymore.

What was that line from some Scottish play?

I am too steep’d in panties, that to wade back would be as tedious as to go o’er.

I was paraphrasing… of course…. And probably badly, but it illustrated the point. I was fast reaching the moment where it would be just as hard to get used to being male again, as it had been to get used to seeing Noriko’s chest in the mirror in the morning.

The jolt at the top of the lift jarred my thoughts back. Right then, none of that mattered. I was there to do a job. Check instruments, check gauges, check for nearby power sockets, and step off the carrier.

One small step for an EVA, one giant bootprint in the soil. Wincing momentarily, I realised I’d forgotten to check for ground personnel. A quick, but deliberate, glance down. Nothing by left foot, nothing by right foot. Which according to Murphy, meant whatever had been there was now well and truly underfoot.

There was a reason Asuka called them crunchies. That reason being allied forces inability to understand that the Eva’s had a very large blindspot right underneath them….which only got larger when the pilot was focusing on the thirty story monstrosity in front of her. It was so bad, our battle simulations had been adjusted account for it, and I was the first pilot being trained specifically to be aware of it.

In the battle against the 6th Angel, Asuka outright killed or wounded more people in her 60-second hopscotch game, than the Angel itself had managed in ten minutes. In her simulated performances, she was the only one of us who routinely managed to kill more friendlies than the enemy did.

Which had a seriously detrimental effect on inter-force cooperation and goodwill.

Leaving that thought hanging, I switched power supply to a local one, checked it actually had the ability to supply the power I needed, checked the batteries were properly trickle charging, checked for certain that I hadn’t squashed my support units, and finally made damn sure Unit 03 was equipped with it’s standard weapons loadout, otherwise my plan wouldn’t work and I’d just look like an incompetent idiot.

“Unit 03 On Surface. Power stable. Go for Operations.”

200 yards away, Unit 02 stood at attention, bright red paint glowing in the sun. Behind it, the Pyramid tower of NERV headquarters basked in the light filtering down from the lake-windows a kilometre above. The old destroyer was sleeping peacefully on the lake, sparks of light dancing across the surface.

I wondered how the hell they got that thing in, or what it was over supposed to do beyond being used as an improvised missile against a squadron of tanks.

“Unit 02 On surface. Power Stable. Go for operations,”

I could tell by her tone. Asuka thought this was going to be a curbstomp battle.

Katsuragi; “Good. Now show these Americans that you’re not just children with big toys.”

We intended to.

----->>

The Japan Meteorological Institute was always the first to know when the EVA’s were out playing. Each kiloton footstep shook the ground like a miniature earthquake. Distant seismographs quivered in fear of our power. Geologists were already drafting another letter of complaint to the powers that be, incensed that the noise of our training exercises was drowning out their measurements.

It was absurd but glorious. We had the power to move the Earth itself.

That thrilling feeling of raw physical power, of striding over the land like a Greek Titan, almost made everything worthwhile.

Almost.

The price of going home…of becoming myself again… was never being able to sit in this cockpit again. If I was honest with myself, I wasn’t sure this was something I could willingly give up.

Leaving that thought hanging, I returned my concentration to my piloting, and planning my little surprise for Asuka.

Ibuki; “Unit 03 weapons check”

I glanced at a terminal window to my left, cycling through the information displayed.

“Confirm training weapons only.”

Ibuki; “Battle computer to simulated damage mode,”

I brought up a new screen to my right, changing a few settings with a gentle brush from my fingertips. Pinch to zoom and make sure, then flick it away out of view.

“Damage simulators active. Discriminators locked into safety mode. ”

Ibuki; “Report arrival at Beta startpoint and standby,”

“Copy that,”

Take it slow and easy. No hurry at all. Try not to shake things up too much. We were professionals, not children…or at least we were acting like professional soldiers. Children acting like soldiers. No wonder the UN kept our identities secret, every tin-pot dictator in Africa would call them on it.

Compared to the others, at least I had the benefit of once having been an adult.

Pointless thoughts. We weren’t ‘child soldiers’. We still went to school, we still had friends. Being a pilot was no different than being a member of an after-school sports team. We trained for a few hours a day after school, and every couple of weeks we would get time off class to play against the Angels.

Was that deliberate on NERV’s part…making EVA training seem more like an after-school activity than actual military service?

Well, it sure beat chess club.

Blowing that thought away, letting it bubble up towards the top of the plug, I pushed the EVA around the back of a ruined tower block that had fallen from above and drilled itself into the ground.

“Unit 03 reporting point Beta standby. Awaiting orders,”

Ibuki; “Hold. Waiting for Unit 02,”

The red EVA was near a kilometre away with it’s back towards me, loping forwards. It’s gait was a curious mix of human, and utterly alien. One foot, in front of the other, never fully stretching the leg, never fully locking the knee. Its arms swung lazily by its side, just enough to keep balance, nothing more.

Katsuragi; “This is just a quick demonstration of what we can do you two, so no need to remodel the entire Geofront. You both have your standard armaments, nothing more. There’s a kilometre between you, and the battlefield is marked on your HUD. Rules are simple. Go off the battlefield, you lose. If your battle-computer says your EVA is disabled, you lose. Everything else is fair game.”

Perfect. Standard armaments for Unit 02 were a pair of progressive knives, and a set of carbon darts in each shoulder. Units 00 and 01 had similar, trading the darts for a set of braking thrusters. 03 had the same thrusters, but only one prog-knife. Unlike the others, I could call on a magnum pistol in a tight spot.

A Magnum pistol that fired 3 19-inch shells, weighing over a tonne each, in a third of a second. Then could do the same 3 seconds later, to fire a total of 15 rounds. When empty, there were two more magazines making for a maximum of 45 shots. It was designed to smash an Angel’s core.

Asuka; “I’ll try make this look good,” she teased.

I smiled knowingly at her image. What she didn’t know, was going to hurt her.

Katsuragi; “All Unit’s in position. Wait for my order,”

A few of the Americans burred in the background, questioning some of the techs behind, or commenting on procedures. I double checked to make sure Unit 02’s IFF had been removed from the ‘friendly’ list and then checked again to be sure. Getting that wrong would be embarrassing.

Katsuragi; “3….” Check radar for good lock, “2….” Slave targeting systems to radar lock. “1….” Check range, Check weapon. Pray. “Start,”

All comm-lines were cut.

A little blue dot on a map represented Unit 02, otherwise now hidden from view by the concrete tower I was using to shield myself. That little dot took off like a sprinter, accelerating to triple digit speeds in a heartbeat.

A thrill ran up my spine, terror, excitement and elation racing through my body.

Radar lock, reported the battle-computer.

Max-Range in 3 seconds.
Ideal range 5 seconds.

Close Contact 10 seconds.

And if that happened, Asuka’s victory after 11 seconds, or so I estimated. I couldn’t beat her hand-to-hand… I hadn’t been trained for it. No, I just had my one ace up my sleeve.

Max-range ticked by, counted off by computer.

I still crouched behind the ruin. 2…. 1…..

Don’t fuck up.

One fluid motion pulled Unit 03 around the building, spinning on one heel to face the charging Red Eva, highlighted with a blue box, rapidly growing larger. 4 glass eyes gleamed menacingly in the sun, progressive blade already drawn ready to cut. Asuka wasn’t hanging about. Close the distance as quickly as possible then tear the enemy apart hand to hand. Just as she’d been trained.

She didn’t jink, she didn’t zig-zag… she didn’t know I had anything to call on other than a prog-knife. She was about to find out.

I picked a point on Unit 02’s chest, just below its neck, slaving the targeting systems to it. I was trained to shoot for the weak spot, to shoot for an Angels core. The weakest point on an EVA was right at the top of its spine. It was a cold-blooded thought, but it was the truth.

Indicators flashed green. Simultaneously, I reached up, feeling my machines hand close around the grips of the pistol. I grinned savagely.

Sorhyu was a sitting duck.

Half a kilometre away, running right at me. Easy shot. I squeezed the trigger on the throttle.

Computer control drew the weapon from its holster. Computer control aimed it, pointing the barrel with unerring accuracy at that single point I’d selected. Computer control fired, three shots blasting out, pistol belching flame and smoke.

Blank cartridges, for effect.

A heartbeat. Tense, did I hit. Did I miss? If I missed… a momentary chill ran through my body. I might get another volley off, but Asuka would be expecting it.

The battle computers of both machines busied themselves calculating the effects of the shot. Accuracy, damage, deflections off armour. System failures to be simulated.

Hit, announced the battle-computer after a half-second’s deliberation with its counterpart.
1-shot. Armour: Neck. Armour destroyed.
2-shot. Penetration: Neck. Laceration of supporting musculature. Backup control failure.
3-shot. Penetration: Entry-plug. Pilot deceased.

Unit 02 Lurched to a halt mid stride, its onboard computer acknowledging the death if its pilot and cutting off all of her controls.

Asuka; "Was zur Hölle?" She wore an expression like she’d been struck by lightning. “Program error?”

I keyed open a channel.

“Boom. Headshot,”

That was all that needed to be said. That was all I could say before I burst out into cackling laughter. Laughing at Asuka wasn’t going to do my chances for survival any favours, but I really didn’t give a bollocks. I could endure any torture…. It was worth it to see the look of sheer indignant bewilderment on the Second Child’s face.

Ibuki; “EVA Unit 02 has been defeated by pilot kill. Battle time, 13.24 seconds. “

Asuka; “Pilot kill?” the wheels started turning, Click! Everything locked into place, embarrassed rage building as the realisation coalesced in her mind “SHE CHEATED! It was a standard weapons only battle, no firearms allowed,”

“Asuka,” her father cut in, his voice chilled and deadly, “A pistol is part of Unit 03's standard loadout. You did not lose because Nagato cheated, you lost because of your own failure to know your opponent,”

Oh God, he was going to get me killed.

Langley; “I did not raise a girl who charges blindly forward without stopping to think about her opponent. One the battlefield, the first loser is the first casualty, and you did not spent years in training to throw yourself away to the maggots through stupidity. “

Sorhyu looked like a scolded puppy…

Langley; “I raised my daughter to win, I raised my daughter to learn from her mistakes. If you are my daughter, Asuka Langley, then you will learn from this, and you will win this time. Are you my daughter, Asuka?”

Oh hell…

“Yes,” she said, her voice flat.

Langley; “Are. You. My. Daughter?”

“Yes!” barked the red pilot.

Langley; “And is my daughter a worthless loser?”

“No!”

Langley; “So is my daughter going to lose?”

His voice drove her like a hammer drives a nail. There was hate in that girls eyes. Hate for her father, or hate for me? The image of Ibuki beside me looked away for a minute, shuddering. Kyle Langley was one of those parents… the kind who treat any grade less than an A-plus as a personal insult… the kind for whom the best is never good enough.

I might’ve felt sorry for Asuka, if I hadn’t been too busy being afraid of her.

“No,” snarled the pilot of Unit 02, a savage gleam in her eyes.

“I’m going to die,” I said. I could see it now, Unit 03 being torn to shreds in a bloody orgy of destruction, white entry plug so vulnerable in red fingers and then…crunch!

Ibuki; “Unit 03 auto ejection check,” the ever-cute lieutenant took my mind off it.

“Ejection check green,” I answered back, checking thrusters and plug release circuits.

A few moments thought… then a confidence inspiring realisation. An ejection check… brilliant. Focus, Fourth Child. If I was going to get eaten by the werewolf, at least I could give him indigestion.

Katsuragi; “Return to startpoint, prep for round two. Good work Pilot Nagato,”

Misato’s smile almost made the impending pain worthwhile. Return pistol to its holster, switch to full magazine, crouch back behind cover and wait….wait to die horribly. There were murmurings over the radio, talking about powerflow, targeting deviation and NERV’s training policies.

Alright… think tactics. Asuka’s going to be ready now, she’s going to know to dodge. Fifteen rounds aren’t enough for proper suppression fire to make her stop, and it takes forever to reload the thing. Trying the same thing over was dumb… she’d expect it. Shoot the weak spot, my training demanded. The weakest points on an EVA were the sensors mounted to the head, and the entry plug itself. Both were hard shots to make. Fighting Sorhyu hand to hand would be futile… I had to shoot. Shoot for the head to blind and disable her, then finish with a plugshot.

Plan seemed good.

Better than rolling over and dying.

-->>tbs

.......
Last edited by Dartz on Tue Jun 29, 2010 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Dartz » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:19 am

Anybody actually reading this?

Anyway, a bit of plot information to digest/comment on

The real problem is trying to do enough to keep things different, without completely barelling off the rails... there's a big dull middlepiece I don't know if I'll actually finish this... especially since I've got YT on the boil, and enjoy writing that story, specifically because it's the exact opposite to this, and because it's based on much shorter original material. (Which makes YT being almost twice as long as this at this stage pretty ironic)

Matariel will remain pretty much the same, with Nagisa riding shotgun with Noriko. (or Rei) I might do that after the next chapter.

Then Filler. Maybe a game that begins to nudge Shinji and Asuka together as a pairing. Sahaquiel *won't*.... but I'm not sure how. Maybe bomblets?

11 is Iruel. Rather than the Magi, maybe it can worm its way it to something else.... I don't know what though. Tokyo-3 defence grid?

More Filler. Maybe Shinji is hurt by that date Hikari asks Asuka to go on with Hikari's cousin? Noriko meets relatives and is still loosing herself.

12 is Leliel. Maybe Rei drops in instead of Shinji. What would this do? Maybe the UN has to nuke the black hole to get her out. The City is damaged. Shinji though, is happy with Asuka. Asuka is happy with him, to a point. Rei.... I dunno. Maybe she drops into a depression... or gets outright replaced. Kawaoru notes that things are going better. Maybe they might finally reach and end. The eSoS brigade just don't show up for school anymore.... nobody knows exactly what happened to them, but it should be obvious that they got themselves killed. They serve only to show that the fun part has ended.

13 is fun. Because this is where I can throw things right off the rails. I know what I'm doing here. The Pilot of Eva 05 is Hikari. Bardiel does what he does best. Noriko manages to rally Shinji to *try* and rescue Hikari.

Bardiel beats them both handily... and is ready to Do Bad Things. Then some warning about a core collapse inside the Angel... and it explodes in rather random fashion, right before being able to tear them apart. Hikari is killed.

It doesn't really hit home for Noriko, until she sees Hikari's name released to the world.

14th: Zeruel. Shinji leaves, breaking his relationship with Asuka. Noriko is busy sitting in front of her Eva, contemplating what has just happened. Zeruel attacks, leaving her as the one to take it on solo, alongside the UN... to buy time for the city to be evacuated and for an ambush to be prepared. Cue one long hotblooded crowning moment of awesome in the tradition of Episode Noriko Takaya... pulling the exact same stunt, brutally subverted at the last moment. She wins.... more or less.

Shinji doesn't come back. Asuka is pissed at Noriko, whose out of it for a bit, and will show that she stand on her own without anyones help... and has been deeply hurt by Shinji leaving. Noriko is badly hurt, but recovers

Noriko misses Hikari's funeral... and her own Birthday... after recovering, she requests to be taken to her grave. Misato is busy, so she orders Kaji to do it, despite him also being 'busy' that day. Norio learns that Eva-05 Self Destruct was triggered by the Pilot... Kaji repeats his Rebuild 2.0 speech about the will of the dead...

Rei is just getting worse without Shinji, yet somehow is able to sync with Unit 01 better because of it.

15th Angel. Noriko decides to go for it... after all, she did beat Zeruel. One of her friends is dead, but.... she's still there sanity wise. Besides, Unit 03 is the best at shooting things down... it's only logical to take Asuka's place... especially since Commander Ikari won't let Rei take Unit 01 out. Areal attacks Noriko instead, and reveals the awful truth.(This has already been specifically foreshadowed a few chapters back). Noriko figures out that she's following Asuka's path in the tale... and realises just how dumb she's been. Then passes out.

Shinji is safe at home... nope, they don't need him anymore. Kensuke is offered Unit 03.

16th Angel (Written in Third person). Rei in Unit 00 dies saving Asuka from the Angel. Tokyo 3 dies. Unit 02 is crippled in the process. Leaving Kawaoru and Unit 04 the only active pilot. Shinji's called back, to find an 'unusually distant' Rei, Asuka is out of it in a hospital bed, Misato on the edge of breaking down, Nagisa being a smug git. Noriko's only half there and slowly recovering some semblance of mental balance... enough to tell him what happened anyway.

Shinji finds Rei and asks how she's been doing. She repeats something he said to her earlier in the fic. (Could this be going Shinji/Rei at this late stage?). Maybe says something profound like "I remember you," Something heartwarming at any rate, but it's really more platonic than romantic.

Kawaoru quietly reveals to Shinji that it is his time to die, and that Shinji should kill him. Shinji refuses, despite being handed a gun. Shinji doesn't especially *like* him, but at the end of the day, he's not going to murder him for nothing

Kawaoru gives him a reason. Shinji is notably less bummed about it. Kensuke is finally assigned as Kawaoru's replacement in 04... because of all the training he's done in Unit 03 so far.

Just in time for the JSSDF invasion.

Ending planned.
Kensuke and Noriko are deployed to hold off ground forces. Noriko sends Shinji down to Terminal Dogma to look for Rei.

Kensuke's all giddy and excited about going to war at last and how he's going to fight and be strong and awesome and explodiy... followed by "I'm scared,"

Noriko Reassures him, but they think it's a heroic sacrifice where they're gonna die. They fight the Eva series. Eventually Asuka wakes up in the lake same way as usual. It's an awesome battle... but it's not the big deal. They're gonna win.

Kaji manages to convince the Japanese Government to halt the attack. Rei and Gendou are in front of Lilith, when Shinji is followed by Misato.

Gendous hand is in Rei. Misato shoots him. He's doing the dying thing... but Rei has already combined with Adam.

She gives Shinji the choice.
Inititate Third Impact and live in a world without pain, where everyone dies.
Choose for Rei to die... and for the world to carry on with everyone alive.

What does Shinji chose? Misato tells him to chose for himself.

Not sure, tbh. Chapter title for that part is "The only neat thing to do,"

But it will end... I have the epilogue written :P

-------------------------

It's a load of waffle, but at least it's an idea what I'm looking at... or where this was going to go if I never do get around to finishing it. Grandfather is suffering from similar problems atm, mostly due to my own loss in interest in NGE over time... but I still have a good chunk of it somehwere, and I still like the premise of both fics.

Hell, I like the twist in this quite a bit with Noriko finding out the person she though she was, was just a construct to help her mind assimilate the data, and hide from the past. All the parallels were really just elements of herself bleeding through into the construct.

But anyway... I need something to make this interesting to write. Maybe YT as a break for a while will do that.

I can also just go wildly into the blue yonder.... but... I have no idea where to go with that. Anybody with interesting suggestion though, or comments... should say something.
Last edited by Dartz on Sun Oct 17, 2010 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Elvarein » Mon May 10, 2010 4:14 am

Ah, this particular fic, it hasn't been updated in ages ;p Also you might have better luck in a fanfic forum. *cough*tff*cough*

Aside from personal preference (I am dismayed by how the plot goes but I can see how it can... easily... happen), I find that this is an excellent read. You have an excellent balance and a very interesting insert character (normally I would not touch an insert fic with a 10 foot pole).

In anycase, with regards to your outline, it is workable. However, you have to convince people that the conditions that existed for certain events to occur such as Shinji coming back to save the day no longer exist. This is made more difficult if he has formed a bond with Asuka. Given how much he has been seeking people's approval, it has to be shown why he would break what would be to a teenager something like the ultimate bond. You could possibly show it by letting Asuka refuse to side with Shinji in that instance because she does not want to let go of the Evangelion.

In addition you have to show how the insert who is aware of this would let matters rest so easily. Easily done using assumtions on the insert's part (Ass-u-me ;p).

As for the general direction, I have to say that this will make a good fic, but conceptually it does not break any new ground. That is fine and its quality will largely depend on your writing style which I enjoy in any case.
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Postby Dartz » Tue May 11, 2010 7:19 pm

woops, forgot to delete
Last edited by Dartz on Sun May 16, 2010 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Dartz » Sun May 16, 2010 9:36 am

It ain't dead, just a slow burner.... I've got some stuff planned once the battle is over.

Shinji has a good reason not to come back.... one of his friends has just been killed, in a way that he can't blame his father fori.... and Noriko destroys the 14th Angel before he ever meets Kaji to be motivated to come back.

Noriko lets it rest because she's out cold and can't do anything about it when it happens.... and can't contact Shinji afterwards. Also, I promise to do something WEIRD right here.

Here's hoping I get that far.

Thanks for commenting though, it's nice to know a few are still reading. I think it got recced on TvTropes recently... (Still hasn't got it's own page however, oh well...)

-----------------------------------------

Finishing out that scene. Next scene after this will feature Kawaoru.

Plan seemed good.

Better than rolling over and dying.

Sorhyu; “Unit 02 at starpoint.” Direct and deadly, the Second child stared through the video link, her gaze chilling my bone.

“Unit 03 startpoint,” I reported.

Katsuragi; “Good, wait for my order.”

I took the chance to check my weapons, check a battery circuit that was running a little warm… but not dangerously so. Ready to die Noriko? I asked myself. Not especially, came the answer from within.

Katsuragi; “3….” Check radar for good lock, like last time “2….” Slave targeting systems to radar lock, also like last time. “1….” Check range, Check weapon. Pray. “Start,”

02 Launched like a rocket, again running to close distance. Same opening move, same opening response. I hauled 03 out from behind my cover, readying my pistol. The red EVA had it’s blade drawn…again… charging like a bull.

Aim point… just below the neck. Same as last time. Slave targeting sensors. Same as last time. Solid lock, all indicators green. Same as last time. Count to ideal range…three…two…onw…

I smirked as I squeezed the trigger… Maybe it would be that easy?

Unit 03 reached up, gripping the pistol, drawing it onto target. The gun fired, three shots blasting out. The battle computers calculated, and gave their verdict.

1-shot. Armour: Shoulder 10200-10236. Integrity compromised.
2-shot. Miss.
3-shot. Miss.

My blood ran ice cold. Where Unit 02 had once been looming large on screen in front of me, there was nothing but thin air, and a distant elevator stack.

Sorhyu; “Nice try, Fourth Child!”

When Asuka gets triumphant…it’s time to get scared.

A dark shadow loomed above, Unit 02 vaulting high, cartwheeling over into an Inazuma Kick. Watching that massive boot drop straight towards my face, I think I knew how Wile E Coyote might’ve felt as he watched that boulder drop.

Training told me to stand my ground. Training told me to fire. I mightn’t have had my umbrella, but I did have a Magnum. It wouldn’t stop her from hitting me I knew…. A couple of thousand tonnes of flesh and steel weren’t going to be stopped by three one-tonne shells.

No time to wait for lock-on. Have to snapshot. Fire in manual mode. Target in centre, push the switch. Keep it cool. Deep breath…. And shoot!

Three more shots blasted out, magnum cannon spitting smoke and flames.

1-shot. Armour: Left Foot 224-280. Destroyed.
2-shot. Penetration: Left Foot: Severe damage to ankle joints. Mobility inhibited
3-shot. Armour: Right Thigh 458-520: Integrity compromised.

Landing gracefully would be hard with a smashed foot. Landing gracefully wasn’t Asuka’s intention. Oh shit… Oh shit…

Half panicking, I dropped my pistol using Unit 03’s hands to protect myself, hoping I could try grab her foot. Yeah! That’ll work. Grab her foot, use her own momentum to flick her over my head. The hair on the back of my neck bristled with static, AT field running like an electric current through my body.

The hit was hard, like taking a baseball bat to the arms, even through the blanket of synchronisation. I yelped, screwing my eyes shut as I dropped the Eva to it’s knees. I felt my hands grip around O2’s calf… a little relief… and swung up.

Asuka barked, “What!” as if caught off guard. Tension twisted my gut as her foot came free of my hands. Breathing hard, I pushed forwards, trying to get my EVA to her feet. Go! Go! Go! I willed, hoping to get up standing, get the prog-knife out, and try making a fight of it.

The looming shadow of Unit 02 flashed overhead. I craned my neck around, trying to see where she was landing, but my own shoulder blocked my view.

I felt an impact on my lower back.. just a gentle tap. Ignoring it, I pushed the EVA forward, trying to break into a run before Asuka got her bearings. Recover pistol, reload, get some distance… sounds good.

That thought was killed stone dead by a ringing alarm, indicators flashing up read across the displays. Unit 03 stopped dead.

Prog Knife: Puncture L3-L4. Vertebral column severed. Motor control failure.

Everything below the waist had gone oddly numb.

Sorhyu; “I think that’s a mission kill, nicht,”

Beating Asuka was terrifying. Being beaten by Asuka was depressing. There was no better way to feel worthless than to see that haughty look on her face, like a queen looking down on a peasant. The best way to live with Asuka was never to compete with her… she was all nice and friendly then.

“Nice one,” I offered grudgingly.

Langley; “That’s the daughter I raised,” the man beamed.

I almost felt sorry for her, to have had Kyle Langley for a parent. I was glad I hadn’t had a father like that.

Ibuki; “EVA Unit 03 has been defeated by disablement. Battle time, 22.15 seconds. “

Katsuragi; “Return to startpoint, prep for final round.”

The battle computer unlocked the EVA with a few quick commands. Well, at least I didn’t have far to go. Asuka had another march to the end of the field. I retrieved my pistol, checked it hadn’t been stood on, reloaded, and tried to figure out what I could do next.

How did Asuka jump out of the way of a bullet travelling at near Mach 2?

Because she had at least a second’s warning , while Unit 03 drew it’s pistol. Okay, so I draw the pistol before the round starts. Simple. Less time to react, more time for me to get a decent shot.

Johnston; “Pilot Nagato,” Johnston hailed, “You’re trained to shoot for a killshot, am I right? ”

“Yeah…s Sir.” I slurred slightly, nearly forgetting that I was supposed to be acting all military about this.

Johnston; “That might work for an Angel, but not against a more mobile target. Aim for centre of mass.” He instructed. “In air combat, you can’t afford to be picky about what part of the target you hit, just be glad that you hit it and do some damage.”

He was a pilot?

Johnston; “Aim to damage and weaken your target at range where you’re stronger, so that when she closes, she’ll be weaker and easier to deal with when you’re at your weakest.

I acknowledged with a quick “Understood. Thank You,”

He didn’t understand how an EVA was built… shooting one wasn’t like shooting a person. There was nothing critical behind the chest plate. A lung-shot would drop a person, it might….just might… annoy an EVA.

It’d be rude to ignore advice given in good faith by a guest and since I was going to lose anyway, what did it matter?

“Unit 03 startpoint,” I reported. Let’s get this overwith so Asuka can go on being smug and I can play with the real fun toys.

Sorhyu; “Unit 02 startpoint,”

Hurry up.

Katsuragi; “Last one, make it good. 3….” Check radar for good lock, for the final time, “2….” Slave targeting systems to radar lock. “1….” Check range, draw weapon, make sure it'll fire. “Start,”

Again, Unit 02 took off at full pelt.

Radar lock, reported the battle-computer. My skin began to prickle in anticipation. Max range ticked by. Time this right. Optimal range ticked by. Unit 02 at full speed, maybe 5 more seconds to close me down.

“Go!”

Sticking with what worked... she wouldn't expect someone to do what had failed, would she?.... I pushed Unit 03 around the opposite corner of my cover. Pistol already drawn, I selected the entirety of Unit 02. A nice big juicy target, easy for the computer to track.

It took a single heartbeat for the computer to make the necessary adjustments and corrections. I fired with a smile on my face. Asuka started to jump... the computers started their calculations.

1-shot. Armour: Shoulder 10210-10278. Integrity compromised.
2-shot. Armour: Chest 9573-9945. Armour destroyed.
3-shot. Penetration: Chest. Damage to ribcage. Puncture Right Lung

The red EVA stumbled a little, but was otherwise unbothered. As I’d expected. She launched high, same as last time, I pulled right, trying to put the ruined building between myself and where she was inevitably going to land… a spot just behind where I’d been standing.

That was my next aimpoint. Snapshot, target in centre, pull the switch. The gun spat another burst.

1-shot. Miss.
2-shot. Armour: Chest 9475-9729. Armour destroyed.
3-shot. Penetration: Right Forearm. Mobility compromised.

Fuck yeah!

I pushed Unit 03 into a quick run while Unit 02 reeled, Asuka using her arm to shield herself. Another few hundred yards, time enough for an aimed shot.

My heart raced, excitement simmering in my blood. Holy shit I think I'm going to win this.

Asuka trained for years to perfect her hand to hand technique. I trained for 5 weeks to get good at shooting. What was the American saying? God made man, Colt made men equals.

Pivoting back to face the target, I yelped.

Unit 02 loomed large over me, Prog Knife drawn. A red devil charging forward. Damn she was quick. How did she get herself together so fast?

Because she’s a professional of ten-years training….

I felt fear… true mortal fear. Silver eyes gleamed with murderous rage in the artificial sunlight. Her left arm raised high with unpowered prog-knife in hand. Keep cool…I could push past that. My only hope of winning was to stick to my guns.

Stand and fire.

Need a kill shot. Slave target to entry plug. A few moments to plot. I held my breath, bracing for impact. Indicators flashed green, ready to shoot. I squeezed the trigger. Asuka struck.

“I win!” the pair of us yelled.

I hit her. I’m sure I hit her…. Before she hit me.

The computers gave their verdict.

1-shot. Armour: Neck 116658-119945. Armour destroyed.
2-shot. Penetration: Neck. Laceration of carotid artery. Severe haemorrhage. Stabiliser control fail
3-shot. Armour: Face 123578-123692. Armour destroyed. Primary vision systems impaired.

Shit.

And for Unit 02, a crushing formality.

Prog Knife: Puncture Armour115001. Entry plug puncture .Pilot deceased.

Arse… that was that. Her face appeared on the display beside me. Haughty, smug…

Sorhyu; ”Nice try, but you’re still green Nagato,”

“Nice win,” I transmitted, trying not to sound bitter about it. At least I made her work just that little bit for it…. Just that little bit.

Ibuki; “EVA Unit 03 has been defeated by Pilot kill. Battle time, 37.62 seconds.“ Maya made it final.

Both EVA’s stepped back from each other. Deep breath. Don’t feel so bad, I told myself. I made my point with the first battle. It still didn’t feel like it.

Katsuragi; “Sorhyu win’s two to one,” pronounced Misato, “Nice work Asuka, that’s what we expected. Nice shooting Noriko, our visitors were impressed,”

And praise from our guardian made me feel better all over again. Asuka was expected to win, it was nothing special… but I managed to score an upset just once.

Sorhyu; “Well it wasn’t exactly difficult,” she gloated.

Asuka killed my good feelings.

Langley; “If it wasn’t difficult, why did she beat you that first time?” her father cut her down “You lost once, and came dangerously close to losing a second time. Nagato is a trainee, and she still came close to beating you,”

I wasn’t sure whether to be glad she was getting put in her place, or terrified at what she would do when she got home. The deer-in-headlights look on her face was priceless, however. But what else was she expecting? He was the sort of parent who’d always find a flaw in their diamond child.
Soryhu; “But she didn’t win,” she argued, “It doesn’t matter how close she was, the gulf between first and second place is vast and infinite, like life and death. Remember you told me that?”

Yep, that’s exactly where she got it from.

Langley; “Not when you’re relying on an accident of position to win… Nagato’s last shot was three meters away from disabling your EVA. She should never have even gotten the chance to fire,”

Katsuragi’s voice rose over him “This isn’t the time, Don’t you have a test schedule to run, doctor?”

Sorhyu was seething, humiliated.

Johnston; “Yes, yes,” concurred the General, “An interesting display from both Lieutenants. However, we are here on business.”

It took a few minutes to recover Unit 02, Kyle being kept away from radio channels the entire time. The Americans were discussing things in their own distinctive drawl, while I was guided through preparations by the bridge bunnies.

Asuka got to go for her shower, I had another half-day's testing ahead of me. That’d put me getting home to near midnight… and I still had a days training tomorrow. The glamourous life of a teenage mecha pilot…

Sorhyu; ”Better you then me Noriko.” She offered as Unit 02 dropped below the surface, “Good shooting,”

I really couldn’t tell if she was teasing her not, her accent threw me off.

I…I


This is radio nowhere, is there any reader alive out there?
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Postby The Bastard King » Sun May 16, 2010 10:52 am

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss updates!
16:26 <BastardKing> KICK REASON TO THE CURB
16:26 <Fuyutsuki> BastardKing fires the kick cannon and it EXPLODES IN HIS FACE

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Postby Dartz » Thu May 27, 2010 8:00 pm

Well it aiten't dead, just burning slowly. I dunno who's reading it anymore, but it's still going... Dipping toes in the water to see who or what is still reading. Noty many since it's been nearly a year since update... but anyway.


New snippet:

Kawaoru does shit. American airforce guy tries to be nice.

I…I

Six hours in, and I got a break to get something to eat. EVA pilots do not live on LCL alone. I think I only got the break because Unit 03 had to be returned to the cage to fit supporting framework for the railgun.

It gave me about a half hour to get a reheated meal from the canteen…. Complete with desiccated rice, and gelatinised curry that’d been left sitting under a heater lamp for far too long. Food was food, and it was break from the raw-steak left in sun all day taste of drying LCL. The smell turned the stomachs of everyone in the canteen.

The glamourous life of the teenaged mecha pilot.

Otherwise, I was in good humour. Blowing things up had that effect, even if half were just simulations. I could tell myself I’d done well against Asuka…even if I hadn’t won. I’d impressed the visitors. Kawaoru still lingered in the back of my mind, but I could sit on him. I was in the girls locker room, proof from males.

For the first time, I might’ve been thankful of my body.

Second time, I corrected, catching my reflection in a mirror. The plugsuit was the first… and not for the fanservice… it was strictly a comfort thing.

Mostly a comfort thing.

The door buzzed open behind me, but I heard no-one enter. Must be Rei… Should that be wreith? It buzzed shut again.

“Nagato-san, we have matters to discuss,”

I nearly screamed. I nearly turned to face the owner of that voice, and I nearly thumped him one in the face.

“What do you want?” I snapped, clenching my hands into fists. Fingernails bit sharply into palms.

“To talk, as I said,”

“About how you’re going to send me home?”

Can I go home?

“I don’t know why you’re being so hostile, it was you who wished for this, was it not?”

What? I spun around to face him, to face those awful red eyes. Fear warred with fury. Fury at been taken from my life, being turned into this… and fear because he had the power to do this.

“I didn’t wish for these!” I pointed to my chest.

“You wished to live,” he said. A pause… “Ah, I see you do not remember. Such is the human mind sometimes,”

Uneasily, I stepped back. A creeping fear crawled over my body, feeling about ready to throw up. Why didn’t I remember that? Was it something that happened to Noriko, instead of me?

“You remember, one object in motion will remain in motion unless an outside force acts upon it. You are the outside force, Noriko. You are the new element in this cycle,”

“Cycle?”

“Yes. Everything is a cycle, one of death and rebirth. It ends with the third and always starts with the two. Humanity and the Angels are locked together, doomed to repeat the same events, over and over, never moving forward. You are our attempt to break it, Nagato-san,”

Swallowing my fears, I steadied myself. “You want me to stop Third Impact?”

Obviously, that’s what all self-inserts do.

“Yes,” he nodded,

“But you’re an Angel,”

“Yes,” he nodded once again, “However, a long time ago, Shinji Ikari showed me that humanity does not deserve to be destroyed. Since then, I work towards his happiness. I have been his friend and enemy. Her lover and his companion. Every iteration I have been with the Third in some way. Every iteration has ended with his will, and the next begun by his will.”

Shinji wished for the world to end. The End of Evangelion. Everybody can just die. I should just die to. As long as people are alive, they have the chance to be happy. I am myself… One for final (I need you). It ends with the Third, it ends with Shinji. Two on the beach, it starts again

“I see you do understand. I could not break the cycle on my own, however, you have the knowledge of past iterations to help you know how to effect this one.”

“How?”

“If what you call Third Impact is prevented, the cycle will break. If Third Impact occurs, the next cycle will continue. If an Angel triggers Third Impact, the cycle will break. But the lilin will be destroyed. Shinji will be destroyed.”

Ever feel like you’ve just been shot? Taking a deep breath, I ran a gloved hand through my gummy hair. Alright… my job is to prevent Third Impact anyway, isn’t it?

“Then do I go home?”

My voice was almost meek. Nagisa just looked at me, with murderous curiosity, as if he didn’t inderstand.

“Hmm, the human mind is strange, sometimes,” he mused aloud.

“What the hell sort of answer is that?” I yelled, “I mean, you bring me here, do this to me, “ I pointed to my chest.. again, building momentum. “You tell me that I’m supposed to save the world and save Shinji and stop Third Impact and break some fucking metafuckedup cycle, then don’t even tell me if I get to go home afterwards…. Who the hell do you think you are?”

I felt the sting in my palm before I heard the glove-against-skin crack. My own hand dropped slowly to my side, a red palmprint rising on Nagisas cheek. He stood there silent, considering… unconcerned.

“Just get the hell out!” I blasted, pointing to the door.

“I see,” he said, unbothered, “Good luck, Nagato-san,” He turned his back to me, strolling out the door. I heard him start to hum, before it buzzed shut behind him, leaving me alone. I stood there, shivering with anger.

God damn that fucking angel.

God damn him for doing this to me.

Resting my head against the cool steel locker door, I closed my eyes, felling a few hot tears trickle down my checks. Why did he dodge the question? Why did he look so puzzled? Unless he never expected me to want go home…

I might have to spend the rest of my life as Noriko.

What did he do to me?

What the hell did he do?

Why can’t I remember it?

Deep breath. Just hold on. Hold it together. Feeling the sting in my palm, another thought rose in my mind.

I slapped Kawaoru. I slapped him like a girl would.

Screw it. I don’t need this right now… I still have work to do today. Then there’s that bloody box, my own self identity, Ritsuko thinking I’m nuts and the rest of the bloody Angels to boot. We could still lose and die anyway.

I think that was everything.

“Pilot of Unit 03 to Cage 05,”Announced the tannoy, “Pilot of Unit 03 to Cage 05,”

Duty called.

I left the locker room, half expecting to be ambushed by Nagisa. Relief. I might have to spend the rest of my life as Noriko... Can't think about that now.

I might have to be the Fourth Child for the rest of my life.

I will never...

“Lieutenant Nagato,” General Johnston was waiting by the cage door. “I've been wanting to talk with you,”

“Uh... General.” Am I supposed to salute him? I did anyway, just in case... a little awkwardly. He did the same, properly. “What is it?”

“I just want you to let you know how impressed we were with your performance today, along with your comrade. I can see our future's in good hands,”

I wasn't in the mood for compliments. “Thanks,”

“Based on what I've seen here, I see no reason not to recommend to congress that Unit 04 be released to NERV. Though, I wasn't likely to refuse anyway, Project-E means a hell of a lot more to the United States than many of our politicians would like to admit.”

Please, no lectures... I'm in a hurry.

“Building these two machines has almost single-handedly resurrected American heavy industry. It has given a lot of people hope for the future for the first time in over a decade. Money from his Angel-War is driving the recovery back home. NERV and UN contracts have already rebuilt Detroit and Pittsburgh…. They’re putting food in a lot of peoples mouths. People are buying cars again, homes, TV’s, people are saving for a future they're starting to believe is possible. These contracts are dragging our country up by it’s bootstraps, rebuilding the economy into something that can sustain itself for the first time since Y-two-k.”

“Congress may not like the idea of our country's safety being dependant on foreigners, maybe even on a people we once beat down. They’re thinking in old fashioned terms, reminiscing on a world that passed into history on September 13th. If the Second Impact taught us one thing, it is this… we all depend on each other for our survival. Humanity is at stake, not just Life, Liberty, the United States and a one-dollar gallon of gas, we can't afford to shirk our responsibilities. As Franklin said, we all hang together on this, or we will surely hang separately.”

He smiled at me...

“And you pilot, we have given you all the support we can give. A hundred million people back home are relying on the people here to do their jobs. They're relying on you to give them the future they've started to believe in once more. We've done our best for you, please do your best for us,”

A heavy hand fell on my shoulder... damn he made me feel small. And didn't he say something similar earlier?

“I will,” I said, weakly.

“Feeling tired?”

“Yeah,”

“Well, keep your head up. And Good luck,”

“Thanks,” I said again.

He left for the command centre, to oversee the rest of the testing. That was something I could've done without. I could get back to the apartment and curl up in bed with my own warm blankets.

Unit 03 was waiting for me... still with tufts of Geofront embedded in the gaps between armour plates and a few new paint scrapes thanks to Asuka. She'd lost one shoulder pylon, and replaced it with a steel scaffold. Blankets will have to wait, and LCL-filled entry plug beckoned.

It would have to do.

I might not be able to go home, but at least I have EVA.

6 hours to go

---->>
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Postby Dartz » Sun Jun 13, 2010 3:30 pm

Because I can't delete the last post, and cut and re-post.

Updated
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Postby Sun Stealer » Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:11 pm

Oh sweet Emprah, yes! I thought this was a dead fic.

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Postby Dartz » Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:12 am

Glad your pleased...

Unfortunately, it seems quite a few people may have forgotten about it.
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Postby The Bastard King » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:16 pm

I'm sure they'll be sinking back in. The original was one of the better self-inserts on the site, so no reason for this to be any different.
16:26 <BastardKing> KICK REASON TO THE CURB
16:26 <Fuyutsuki> BastardKing fires the kick cannon and it EXPLODES IN HIS FACE

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Postby Dartz » Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:42 pm

View Original PostThe Bastard King wrote:better self-inserts


Problem is, people see two of those words and just fuck off because 'olololol I pilot EVA ant fuck Asuka lol' kiddeez.... which was the reason I started this thing in the first place to show that these people were just idiots and it could be done and could make for an interesting story in it's own right.

It's there to subvert every single one of those.
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New Perspective Evangelion Part 11.... gathering momentum.

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Postby Dartz » Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:41 pm

A bit Noriko centric at the start, to show bits about the life of a pilot.. Scene after this will feature Asuka and her father.

Thinking I could draw parrallels between her and Shinji, by showing how much she resents her father, while she's also still trying to impress him.

Maybe a sleepover scene.... a duck and cover parody, and a nightmare Noriko has when she recalls a fanfic about things 'that don't work' and a robot Asuka.

Then Angel ass-kicking time. Which might feature Noriko singing the 365 day march...

Tuesday.

I’d managed to avoid Nagisa all Monday, but The good feelings couldn’t last. Firstly, I’d had firearms training on Monday after school, and had managed to annoy the instructor by clearing my weapon the wrong way. Which was fine until the bang. Pull the slide after ejecting the Magazine, not before.

Guess what I spent Tuesday morning doing?

Bloody hardass.

I didn’t see Motoko. I didn’t see Nagisa. Shinji, Asuka… they were all at school. I spent the morning running through weapons drills, so I wouldn’t accidentally shoot myself or someone else. I didn’t see what the fuss was about… the round went into the sand bucket… which was what it was for, wasn’t it?

My anxiety was coming back… slowly. But it was there. The creeping worry that if I ever just let Noriko’s own memories overwrite my own, either I’d drown in the surge or just go batty. I could accept that I was a girl. I could accept that I would still remain in a way, when all was said and done.

It still scared me.

But I seemed to have found a good place for the time being

There was still the small matter of my sexuality. Whatever my body wanted, I would never go with a boy, for as long as I lived. I drilled three rounds through the target to prove it.

The idea of sex, still turned my stomach. To have something inside me....

“Your aim is drifting!” the instructor bellowed. “Three shots within five inches. Again!”

Three more shots, muffled by my headgear. A stray…something…pinged against my glasses, distracting me for a moment.

“Good! Three more. Aim for the head.”

The targets were vaguely anthropomorphic, with higher scores given for the more lethal shots. God damn this was hard. Not just lining up iron sights, but keeping my hands steady, keeping my breathing controlled. Right stance. Not to tense, not so The smallest deflection made a big difference. There was a hard kick of recoil, there was the gunsmoke which made my eyes water.

It was so much harder than in an Evangelion.

If only Kawaoru was here. I'd already had one accidental discharge, would another be too hard to believe? It was an evil thought, but it brought a smile to my face.

“You're pulling left again. Remember, not too tense. Last three. For the chest again,”

Misato said I should explore my sexuality... what did she mean? Should I date boys, or what? The idea of dating... it made me naseous. Should I at least be aware of my feelings then... and what they meant. How the hell did I do that?.... Without going crazy?

She didn’t mean masturbation… I did that anyway. While thinking about guys, instead of girls?

That just made me…. Uncomfortable.

“Clear the weapon,”

Alright. Safe and decock the weapon. Magazine out. Tilt weapon down, pull slide back and catch any dropped round. Nothing came out. Inspect the chamber. Empty. Place on table, barrel pointing downrange.

“Done,”

“Good. Reload and start from the top.”

Magazine in. Slide forward. Round is chambered. Safety off.

“Ready! Two in the chest, one in the head.”

Finger off the trigger until I want to shoot. Take aim. Grip right. Don’t tense up. Finger on the trigger and Squeeze. The pistol kicked in my hands. My hits were marked on the holographic target… a barely humanoid figure.

“Good accuracy. But do it faster. This person is trying to kill you, remember?”

If it wasn’t for the pain in my wrists, it might almost be a videogame, everything beyond the muzzle was a computer graphic. I sucked at First-Person shooters, but left clicking a mouse was a hell of a lot easier than this… even if it was the same finger.

Or was I approaching this the wrong way. If the idea of sex made me uncomfortable, start somewhere else. Real women don’t exactly jump straight into bed, do they?

What was it Misato pulled on me Sunday?

The pistol roared. B-KAMM B-KAMM, B-KAMM.

“Better! Again.”

With Shinji. His warm arms around my waist, his firm body pressed against mine. His warmth… his smell.

Was making my mouth water. I swallowed quickly, a little unnerved.

“You missed the last shot! Do it again.”

Maybe thinking about this at a firing range was a bad thing? Focus, three more shots.

B-KAM B-KAM… nothing. The trigger was stuck.

Huh?

“Malfunction?”

“What kind?” the instructor demanded.

Raise the pistol… one round in the chamber. Slide jammed back, another round caught between the chambered round and the slide. What was this?... in the manual…

“Double feed,” I blurted, a little unsure.

“Nasty,” he commented. “Alright. Remove the magazine. Don’t drop it, you’ll drop the unspent round aswell. Catch that and dispose of it.”

Push the button, pull it out. The round fell into the palm of my hand. This isn’t going to go off while I’m holding it, is it? I dropped it in the metal box beside me.

“Rack the slide three times.”

One…two…three. Second round in my hand. Chamber empty. It joined it’s friend with a clatter.

“Now reload with a fresh magazine and keep going,”

Slide it home, rack the slide to chamber a round, and done. In an Evangelion, if we had a malfunction, we dropped the weapon and got a new one rather than bother going through the fuss of dealing with it.

“Done,” I reported.

Well, that was a little exciting. Shooting had been fun the first time, but it quickly grew old as the pains in my arms and hands started to grow. Especially my fingers. The trigger was so stiff it was making my finger ache.

“Good work. Three more shots. Aim for the chest only.”

Closed in in a wooden stall at the end of a long hall. It was just myself and the instructor behind me. The muscles in my arms where throbbing….even a Walther P22 started to weigh a ton after an hour. My eyes were aching.

B-KAM B-KAM B-KAM.

“Again. Three shot bursts until the Magazine is empty. Pick your own target.”

Learn through pain. And some people thought this was fun? Maybe without a former Bundeswehr instructor barking orders in your ear it might be, but definitely not with.

Aim for the chest. Easiest shot to make.

What about kissing Shinji? His moist lips against mine. That still felt weird… It hit me somewhere behind the chest. A strange tension that seemed to build and spread up the back of my throat. A tightness I could feel as I breathed.

Like fear…

It was different, for a girl… but I couldn’t quite put my finger on how. Because I was more aware of the feelings, rather than the meaning, I figured. My old self, had the benefit of a few years of puberty to understand what those feelings meant, rather than the content of what was happening. Like Misato said… I’d been dumped right into the middle of puberty

For all I knew, these feelings where just the normal ‘Oh hey, there’s a member of the opposite sex’ response. How could I be sure of that? Or maybe it might be something deeper. I certainly don’t get the same response from the instructor… he just makes me plain uncomfortable. What was funny was, he was a man I thought women would find attractive. Fit, tightly built and clean shaven.. a soft face and a gentle smile.

Which were blown away with military efficiency the moment he opened his mouth.

I tried the same Shinji trick… Picturing a hug, a kiss. His strong arms around my body. All I managed to do was turn my stomach.

And empty the Magazine.

This was going to be complicated. How did original-body girls do it?

“Reload the weapon,”

“Last Magazine,” I said, hoping for relief, sliding it home with a satisfying click. There was something pleasingly mechanical about the pistol, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. A solid lump of metal, plastic and oil. Everything was smooth and positive, nothing sticking or binding. The slide-stop disengaged with a satisfyingly direct ‘click’, allowing the slide to spring forward with a metallic ‘clack’. Nice gun or not, it was a wonderful, well made machine and the engineer within me could appreciate that. It was a machine that did what it was supposed to do, only did what it was supposed to do…and did it very well.

I didn’t enjoy shooting… but I couldn’t blame the gun. It was doing its best. If you were going to go to prison, it was nice to have a comfortable cell. I’d never want to read Gunsmith Cats again when this was done…

“Ready! Two in the chest, one in the head.”

I did it. Three more shots.

“Good. Now clear the weapon and hand it to me safely,”

Remember, magazine out first. Pull the slide open, catch the bullet that falls out. Inspect; yeah, it’s empty. Slide locked open, chamber empty.

“It’s clear,” I reported, offering the pistol to him, grip first.

He took it from me and inspected it, checking the chamber before letting the slide come forward.

“Good work.” He nodded, curtly. “Clear up the spent casings on the floor then take a fifteen minute break. When you get back, we’re going to try something called Mozambique Drill,”

I groaned.

“Haven’t I suffered enough?”

Without missing a beat.

“How much do you think I’d suffer if one of you were to die of a gunshot wound under my supervision. You’ll stay here until I’m satisfied there won’t be a repeat of yesterday’s incident.”

I’d rather be in school.

Somewhere deep in the darkest bowels of hell, some demons were dropping dead of hypothermia.

I…I

After about three more hours of putting holes in holograms at his command, the instructor let me go. Another two hours of being laser-measured for something called a hard-suit followed. Beyond the Bubblegum Crisis reference, I had no idea what that actually was… it didn’t appear in our training manuals and nobody would tell me anything beyond ‘It’s a prototype. All the pilot’s have one.’

A plugsuit mixed with some form of body armour was my guess.

One of life’s little mysteries, to be filled alongside the Gremlin in Unit 03’s emergency ejection system, Rei’s mysterious tests, and the tendency for Asuka’s bras to disappear from her locker, even while she was still in the room.

It wasn’t me… I only took clean ones from home.

Still with time before my daily sync training, I lay down on the bench in the room, letting my arms dropped to my side, dangling on the floor. If I never saw a firing range again, it’d be too soon. I’d been pencilled to do my final qualifications in two weeks time.

I had three hours to spend with my… Noriko’s mother. She still managed to scare me, little worries dancing through the back of my mind asking if today was the day she’d try grab her daughter back. She still welcomed me as her own child. Maybe because she knew that one day I would become her child.

My mother was in the EVA. One last test she said before she died. I could see her face when I closed my eyes, smiling warmly at me.

An empty chill ran through my body.

Noriko’s mother, not mine, I corrected myself.

Could this be my strength? That I know my mother is the Evangelion. If I’d just been vanilla flavoured Noriko, I might never have caught it….not until I was staring at an MP EVA’s hungry grin, screaming in terror. Like Asuka… my mother would protect me.

Noriko’s mother, not mine, I corrected myself again.

Not that it made any difference, but something insisted I do it. It was a token resistance.

If I could contact her somehow… could I do what Asuka did in that final battle? Could I do that every battle? Super-Pilot Noriko brought a smile to my face. Could I help the others realise the truth about their Evangelion?

And I knew there’d be an Angel this week. The parent teacher meeting gave it away. Shinji calls his father about it, right before the power goes down. Next one is Misato’s promotion to major. The one after, some naked test. Next one, Shinji beating Asuka in Sync scores. Unit 03…which wasn’t possible anymore. After that, Zeruel… but with Bardiel not possible, that one was up in the air.

I didn’t have to worry about that for a while.

This was boring. Just waiting around. I’d already eaten something earlier in the day.. and eating less than an hour before breathing LCL was a bad idea, unless you liked the feeling of stomach acid burning your throat and lungs.

Shinji had the day off… Asuka had a medical exam. Nagisa might’ve been training… I didn’t know what the hell that Angel did with himself. Probably took care of the stray cat population in town. I blew the thought away with an angry huff, fighting back another wave of fury.

I settled on a quick shower to wash any thoughts of him away. And the stink of gunsmoke. I didn’t want to smell like a blood and guns reject from Roanapur. Hot water on naked skin was always nice, and when I was done, I could just slip into my plugsuit. I still had twenty minutes or more to wait while I fought with the plastic shrinkwrap around the suit.

Each plugsuit could only be worn once for a maximum of about 18 hours, then it was junked. Each one cost about a million yen to make, give or take.

Getting into the suit was second nature, I barely even had to think about it. It snapped tight to my body, hugging my figure closer than a second skin. Deep breathing allowed it to contract a little more around my stomach, tightening a little across my chest and backside. A quick stretch was met with creaking plastic pulled taught around my shoulders. The better the fit, the better the signal to the EVA.

Close my eyes, one long deep breath… a switch was thrown deep in my mind. The Pilot of Unit 03 opened her eyes, and smiled at herself in the mirror. I started to churn through system settings, induction modes, test procedures and technical configurations in my mind, confirming that I knew what I was doing.

I knew how to pilot. I didn’t just mean how to push the throttles and walk forward. That was easy. Moving the EVA was easy enough. If you could see yourself doing it, if you could picture in your mind how you would have to move your body to do what you needed to do, you could do it. Everything from sprinting to Bruce Lee martial arts. In an open green field with nothing else to squash, and nothing shooting at you, this was easy enough…relatively. The hard part was doing this, while balancing the load across the batteries manually thanks to a blown regulator, tracking friendlies on the ground so I don’t step on them, watching where my rifle is pointing so I don’t accidentally blow something expensive up if I miss the target, keeping a mental note of the nearest supply buildings and figuring out just what the hell the enemy might be doing when I’m paying attention to all of that.

All that was hard. I could do this. So could Shinji. So could Asuka. So could Rei.

Forgive me if I allowed a little pride to fill my chest.

And as soon as I’d gotten my plugsuit on and comfortable., I needed to use the bathroom. It could wait until I was in the entry plug.

And there I was, alone again except for the rattle in the plumbing. Now what?

A girl in a plugsuit stood in the mirror. The suit made the hips look broader, the breasts look bigger and the waist look narrower. They weren’t designed to enhance the figure, they just did so as a consequence of their actual function.

They did the same to Shinji.

Shinji in his plugsuit. His body stouter, his physique trimmed taught, his chest broadened by pair of vents. My thoughts turned back to Sunday’s little talk…again and then on to a mental image of his backside and that…bulge between the legs. Padded, but still distinct…

Stop!

That feeling came back, rising in my chest, running up the back of my throat. Followed by a nervous tension that seemed to be trying to twist my body, coming up from my gut as I realised just where my thoughts were going.

I could’ve done without knowing I had these feelings.

I could do with knowing what exactly they were. Was I… did I want Shinji, or was this just the standard ‘cute boy’ response. Did I want to hold Shinji? Kiss Shinji? Go to bed with him? I could feel my body, inside the plugsuit, my nipples tingling as I breathed. They were rubbing against the inside of the plugsuit… just enough. My breath was short, my heart fluttering.

A panic was rising within me, electric and powerful, matching this feeling growing in my body

I have to stop this… I have to stop. Just cool down. Damn you Misato for making me notice this… it was like a bad hum or a distant car alarm when you’re in bed trying to sleep, once you realised you could hear it, you realised you couldn’t stop hearing it anymore.

Before, I could’ve dismissed it as apprehension…. The kind that always came before stepping aboard an Evangelion, or going out in public… or doing anything really where people might stare at you. Could it just be an apprehension now… a fear that I’m feeling something rather than a real feeling?

Maybe.

I didn’t just suddenly start finding males attractive as soon as Misato mentioned it. I didn’t stop liking other girls either… it just sort of stopped bothering me one day.

How can I be sure if I was Just afraid, or if I was really feeling something?

It’s not exactly something I could test scientifically, is it? Especially since I was pretty bloody certain I was afraid of feeling something for him anyway. I can’t exactly ask another girl, or woman, can I? Not only was it a weird question that’d get me weird looks, but…well…if you ask someone what hunger feels like, the answer you get is ‘hunger’. The word describes the feeling absolutely, the same as ‘attraction’.

Or do I lack the intellectual subtleties to see it as anything else?

Hunger and thirst, joy and sadness, anger and love… everyone knows the feelings, but how often does anyone think about the physical symptoms beyond the expression on their face?

Feelings are defined by their context…right? A certain sensation that goes away when you eat is ‘hunger’. A pattern of sensation when you see a beautiful woman walk past becomes associated with ‘attraction’ in the mind. A girl with a different body, would have a very different sensation, but assign it the same name.

As a theory, it worked. How did I know I was attracted to Misato, or Asuka when I first arrived? The answer was simple… the mind was driving the body to fulfil its expectation. Now, the body was driving the mind?

It meant asking someone what it felt like would be pointless… I wouldn’t get an answer beyond ‘uh…you do, idiot.’, or one from Misato something containing the words ‘your’, ‘his’, thing’ and ‘in’. The only person who could possibly answer the question the way I needed, was someone else who had no context.

But who was that?

The door opened. I looked up at Rei walking in, who looked down at me lying on my back on the bench, before stepping over towards her locker and starting to undress.

That was it! Rei was the answer! Rei Ayanami, a girl artificially grown, isolated from others her entire life. The girl the fandom was sure had feelings for Shinji, but lacked the ability to understand them…. having never had a chance to mentally grow.

If anybody would know the physical feeling behind attraction, it would be her, Miss ‘What is this warm feeling I have around Ikari-kun, is this love?’

The only question now was whether Rei would answer or not… or give an answer I could understand.

“Rei,” I ventured, watching for a response.

The girl did nothing but finish unbuttoning her blouse, before shuffling out of it, letting it drop to the floor at her feet.

Okay… well, it’s not like I expected her to turn towards me and ask what I wanted.

“Can I question you?”

She unhooked her cotton bra, sliding both straps off her pale shoulders. It hugged her chest for a moment, before falling to the floor, joining the rest of her clothes.

She didn’t exactly say no. Just spit it out!

“What… uh… what do you feel around Shinji?”

She took her panties off, sliding them down to her knees before stepping out… one silky leg, then the other. Gathering her clothes, she began to fold them in a distinct, deliberate fashion over the clothes hangers provided.

Still no answer. Disappointed, I figured she’d probably ignored me and finally.

I stood up, stretching a little. I had a sync test to get to…

“Protective,” Rei answered. “I feel protective,” Just like that, in that quietly controlled voice of hers, words carefully and precisely chosen. “And you. How do you feel about Ikari?”

Red eyes turned to face me, inspecting and analysing.

“Um…”

A little stunned, I stepped back. Rei asking me a question? She’d barely said two words to me outside of a battle simulation.

“I…” I started, not wanting to leave her hanging like she did me. Only then I realised the sense of what she’d done.. she’d taken time to properly consider, analyse and distill an answer she knew was right before speaking, while I was shooting from the hip, “…don’t….” think! “…really um know.”

“I see,”

Impassive… curious. Unnerving. Did she know something about me that I didn’t? I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d just confirmed some private hypothesis of hers. She turned her back to me once more, pulling the wrappings off another of her plugsuits.

Why did she ask me what I felt for Shinji? That question followed me all the way to cage 05. Unit 03 was waiting, as she always did.

Mother. Her mother.

The thought made me smile, even as the familiar apprehension that her mother might drag her daughter back by force started to build. I accepted that would happen, that didn’t mean I wanted it to happen.

“Pilot!” my crew chief called me over. “Snag sheet. I need you to sign it.”

The snag sheet was a list of problems with Unit 03 I’d reported, and comments from the tech’s who’d fixed.

“Thanks,” I said, taking the sheet.

Problem: Ejection rails sticking again.
Comment: Ejection rails greased again.

Problem: Program error on switch to internal power causing overload warning.
Comment: Software patch requires operational testing.

Problem: IFF non-operational.
Comment: IFF normally non-operational in OFF mode.

That must’ve been Saturday. I’d been half asleep, writing those up, along with a much longer description of the problems. With a Kanji dictionary.

“Good, thanks.” I smiled up at him, signing my name at the bottom of the sheet. The sticking ejection rails were still been broken in, the tolerances were a bit too tight. The overload was a glitch while testing the railgun that nearly caused the batteries to explode, and the last one was due to me being present in the entry plug in body only and forgetting I’d turned it off to shoot at Unit 02.

The entry plug was ready… I was still testing in the EVA, the simulator plug hadn’t been built yet, thanks to errors in the test data sent from Massachusetts. I had to cross the armour to get to the entry plug, because 03 had been built in Imperial, while NERV used metric. The plug didn’t match the cradles on the cranes…it was three inches too wide, thanks to some extra reinforcement struts.

Replacement cradles would come with Unit 04.

The world could agree that the world needed to be saved, but they couldn’t agree on the units to do it in. some things never changed. NERV was a worldwide organisation, cross cultural communications could be fun… like Asuka ordering three bottles of water, and getting two because she held up two fingers and a thumb to count it out, rather than three fingers. It was surprising how well things worked, considering.

The entry plug beckoned. Another rumble of fear passed through my body, but I forced it out of my mind. Slide into the saddle, plugs moulded into the suit back and waist finding their proper sockets. As usual, there was the moment of panic as absolute borderline passed, followed by the rush of growing thirty stories in three seconds.

Mother was there, still watching me. Noriko's mother... not mine.

I scanned the onboard readouts looking, checking that nothing was obviously wrong. Just when did being mind-linked with a hundred-meter tall biomech become this routine?

“Control, Unit 03. Online and stable,” I radioed

Control; “Acknowledged. Good afternoon Noriko,”

Akagi's voice.

“Good Afternoon,” I answered… being polite.

Control; “Noriko, We’re going to run for an extra two hours today to test a reprogrammed powerflow controller,”

Crap.

“Cancel Good afternoon,” I transmitted, humourlessly.

Control; “Noriko,” she clambered up onto her high horse, “That power glitch on Saturday, if it had happened with Unit 04, would've caused a massive overload of its internal power source. Unit 04 would've exploded, taking Nevada base with it. We have to fix this problem before Unit 04 can be safely activated.”

“I understand,”

The work has to be done... I know that. I'm just tired is all. Having a German sergeant yell at you all morning will do that. Standing naked and as still as possible in a laser scanner while it mapped out the most intimate parts of your body for two hours will do that. A woman in the control room who went out of her way to treat me like a child, didn't help.

I just got on with the business of synchronising. Feeling myself flow through the vast body of the Evangelion was a lot more satisfying than listening to an acerbic and sleep deprived doctor.

Being an Pilot was hard work... but was worth it.

I...I
-------m(^0^)m------ Wot, no sig?

Dartz
Eva Technician
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Postby Dartz » Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:09 pm

Asuka + father == fireworks


Getting to the top of the stairs, I checked my stopwatch. Damn... a little slow. It took a few moments for me to catch my breath. My heart was racing, my muscles starting to burn. I felt like I could get up another ten flights, and still have energy to spare.

Noriko had been something of an athlete, and I’d inherited that from her for sure. Before becoming Noriko, my idea of a strenuous run had been to chase after a bus…

I was trim and toned, fit and fast… and I loved the feeling.

I’d also taken a shine to the sportswear. A sports-bra put the brakes on the Gainax effect, while a figure hugging tank-top and shorts kept me cool enough as I ran.

I didn’t just meet the NERV fitness requirements, I was starting to get beyond them. Like everything, it took time and effort… and dietwise it must’ve been two weeks since I last had a Dorito.

Blame Shinji’s healthy Japanese cooking and my general lack of free time to munch on junkfood for that.

A few kids downstairs were playing.

“I’m playing the red one, you always play the red one Shotaro”

“But the red one’s cooler, it’s go four eyes!”

“Well if you don’t like that, you could play the Angels,” the first countered.

“The Angels suck,” the second pouted, “They always lose,”

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I listened for a few moments… but there was no mention of a black one. For one thing, the black one had much better armour… a better fire control system and an onboard computer that could discriminate between information important to the pilot, and what wasn’t, filter it and report what the pilot most needed to know in a way that was easy to read at a glance. She helped me pilot her.

Asuka didn’t have that in Unit 02. She made up for the lack of technical aids with raw skill, training and talent. Coupled with her EVA’s relative light weight, much better manoeuvrability and better technical reliability

Unit 03 was very American… big, brash, a bit overcomplex and loaded with stuff to make life easier. She had a tendency to break down from time to time, but was generally pretty solid. Unit 02 was the epitome of Germaness… efficient, functional and reliable to a tee with nothing there that didn’t need to be. Not necessarily the easiest thing to use, however.

Why was I measuring myself against Asuka?

I pushed the apartment door open, kicking off my trainers against the step inside.

“I’m home,” I announced.

“Welcome back,” Shinji responded. “Misato’s on late shift, she’s still sleeping.”

Asuka poked her head up from behind the couch, “Hey, Fourth… Hikari loaned me her Saturn after her dad banned her sisters from it. Want to lose at StarBlazer?”

I didn’t want to lose…

“Shower first. You not appreciate sweaty smell beside, will you?”

“Well, hurry up, the AI on this game can’t keep up,”

StarBlazer wasn’t an easy game. The AI was quick and malicious, punishing the most minute of mistakes. The controls were complex and combo based and the action so fast and thick, you couldn’t turn away from the screen. It was the perfect game to test an EVA pilot’s skills.

I fetched some clothes… just some cycling shorts and a t-shirt, before steaming myself for a bit under the shower. That made four for the day… I think I might have a problem. Clean and dressed, I sat down cross-legged beside Asuka on the couch, cushion on my lap to support my chest, controller in my hands.

She gave me an odd look for a moment… I sat like that because it was comfortable, if a little on the girly side. It didn’t matter, it felt good.

“Ready?” demanded the console.

Playing games with Asuka was a great way to learn to swear in German, that’s for sure, especially when she kept dying to that one evil boss. The skills we’d learned as EVA Children translated well to computer games.

A nice moment. Shinji cooking and listening to the radio, Pen-Pen curled up under Asuka’s legs while the pair of us shot seven shades of simulated snot out of each other. We were just three teenagers at home alone, kicking around killing time.

A few moments of peace and comfort at the end of a long day. No psychosexual anxieties getting in the way of things. No holding back against Noriko’s memories… I was just… it wasn’t something I could put my finger on, but I’d been feeling better and more comfortable in myself ever since Misato’s talk on Sunday.

The doorbell chimed.

“I’ll kill you! I kill you!” Asuka yelled, stabbing at the B button.

Wearing a hungry grin, “Lance Attack time!”

Cue the German swearing. I appreciated the irony of tearing Asuka’s Cosmo fighter apart pixel by pixel with lance attacks.

The doorbell chimed a second time.

A few moments.

Asuka and I were busy playing Top-Gun in space. Our guardian was sleeping before a night of paperwork and multinational videoconferences. Pen-Pen had no thumbs. That left only one…

“Fine, I’ll get it” sighed the boy, leaving his kitchenette.

Evangelion pilots were capable of playing video games at a level beyond mere mortals… training designed to help us deal with all the information on our HUD’s was just as helpful when dealing with the Grand Space army of Gamilas, as it was dealing with an Angel in a crowded city.

Shinji’s voice first.

Followed by a man’s.

I didn’t recognise it at first, but Asuka froze. So naturally I took the opportunity to kick the tar out of her fighter while she wasn’t looking. The lack of annoyed protest finally clued me in to the fact that something was wrong. Pausing the game, I turned around.

“Good Evening, Asuka.” Doctor Langley, smiling like a US TV newscaster, wrapped in a cheap polyester suit. “My flight back to the States leaves in a few hours, I thought I’d drop by before I left and see how you were doing,”

“I’m doing fine,” she stated, clearly hoping that that would be it.

“It’s your father, Asuka,” Shinji beamed, clearly thinking she’d enjoy it as much as he would if his father came through the door and asked how he was.

“I know that, idiot,” she snapped, with far more venom than usual.

“Asuka!” her father bit back, “Mama asked me to check up on you. She’s very concerned about you, you know. She wants to know if you’re keeping up with your schoolwork, and how well your guardian is treating you.”

Maybe sitting within punching distance of Asuka was a bad idea.

“I don’t need to be checked up on, I alright without you,” she stated haughtily, hands firmly on hips, legs braced apart on the floor. She was not moving.

“You’re not alright, Asuka. You’re sitting here playing videogames when you should be studying to apply for a masters, or training for war. Without me, your self discipline is going to hell… no wonder you nearly lost on Saturday.”

Oh Crap… not again.

“You’re my daughter. Who you are reflects on me as your father. If you fail, then I look bad… and I won’t have you making me look bad,”

Asuka looked like she’d been shot… again. Anger was warring with fear was warring with the obvious desire to do her damnedest to get praised by her father. She was shaking… badly. Her hands clenched into fists. Asuka was about to burst…

“You do that yourself!” she screeched… like a bomb going off. “How many women did you get through before you got my stepmother knocked up and she forced you to marry… how many? How many did you get through while Mama was in hospital? You don’t even want me as your daughter, all you want is some vicarious glory… to leech off my achievements,”

“Not this again,” he rolled his eyes. Shinji shrank back to his cooker .“That’s not true and you know it,” he stated, his voice gruff and direct. “You are my daughter, and you wouldn’t have any of those achievements if I hadn’t pushed you forward,”

“You treated me like a child,”

“You are a child,”

“No I am not!” Asuka screamed.

“You’re sure as hell acting like one,” the man tried to stare her down.

“Oh like you ever acted like an adult,”

Where those tears? Just sit down, shut up and wait for it to blow over….

“That was a long time ago, and I’ve moved on. I love my wife, I love your stepbrother and I still love you,”

“You don’t love me, you love how I reflect on you,” she glared at him. “I heard you talking about me in Germany, at the State dinner before I shipped out… all you talked about was how ‘I taught her everything’, ‘I helped her grow’, ‘I pushed her to fulfil her potential’… it was all about you and not about me,”

A breath, while she composed herself.

Asuka’s voice cracked. “If you really loved me, then you would never have let her die,”

It was obvious to me who she was talking about…

“I didn’t let her die, she did it to herself and you know it.”

“As if standing around outside smooching her psychiatrist while her mind started to rot away had nothing to do with it,” Asuka stepped forward, standing over me, “You pushed her over the edge and you were glad when she was gone,”

“Damn you,” he snarled at her, “I loved your mother very much…. I just couldn’t face…” he paused. His tone softened, “I just couldn’t face what happened to her at the time,”

“Coward.” Asuka spat. “Liar. I hate you.”

Brutal, cold and flat.

“If you hate me, then why do you seem to be going out of your way to impress me. You hate me, but you still want to be my daughter,”

“I want you to be my father!”

“Hey, hey, what’s all the noise?,” Misato interrupted, groggily scratching herself as she opened her bathroom door, “I’m on night’s tonight y’know…” She blinked, then recognised Kyle Langley.

“I’m just here to check up on my daughter, ma’am,” he said, his smile returning like it was on a lightswitch. Flick and Bing!, bright white teeth.

Misato looked up at him, a full head taller than her, then at Asuka… shivering with a mixture of rage, fear and God-knows-what. She looked like she was about to cry, she looked like she was about to rip her father’s head off with her bare hands.

“I think you should leave, Mister Langley,” Misato said… polite, but firm.

“Now excuse me,” his breast inflated, “But I think as a parent, I have a right to check up on my daughter,”

Without missing a beat, her expression turned to steel.

“As NERV Operations director, I have the right to restrict access to the pilots from anyone I feel may be a danger to their safety, or their ability to Pilot effectively. If they try to break that restriction, I can have them arrested and detained without charge, for the safety of the pilot,”

The threat was obvious.

“Well,” Langley harrumphed, fixing his suit, trying to hide how much he was deflating. “If that’s it then, I guess I’ll be seeing you around Asuka. Good luck. Mama will call you soon,”

Asuka just stared.

Shinji watched as Langley left, probably glad he wasn’t the only one who had father problems. I was almost glad I didn’t have a father to have problems with. A pang of pain deep inside accompanied that thought…

Asuka was breathing hard, daring her father to burst through the door again. Shinji’s pots started to bubble, while Misato watched the door in her nightshirt.

“Thanks Misato,” the Second Child said, in a small voice…. Almost ashamed.

“It’s my job, Asuka.” Misato responded, “I’d do the same for the others,”

Some more silence. Pen-Pen warked. I hid down in the couch knowing better than to speak. Shinji had a bright idea…

“I don’t get on well with my father, either,” he said, offering a comforting smile.

“Oh shuttup you idiot!” Asuka yelled at him, “If I’m getting sympathy from a boy, maybe it’s the end for me. Of course you have to get on well with your father, how else would someone like you become a pilot?”

Shinji just grimaced… like he’d expected it get burned, but stuck his hand in the fire anyway.

“Asuka,” Misato put the brakes on her with a stern look.

Wide-eyes, she glanced between the three of us, while Shinji wondered just where he’d gone wrong… again.

“Dammit,”

She slammed the door on our shared bedroom so hard, it bounced back on it’s railings before she slammed it a second time.

“Noriko,” Misato’s attention turned to me.

“What?”

Something bad was about to happen.

“You’re supposed to be her friend, you should talk to her.”

And die? I’d rather go to bed with Shinji…

“But if I say wrong thing,”

“Just ask her to talk to you,” she advised, “Then let her speak,”

I threw her a look like she was ordering me to clear a minefield barefoot. She could order me to fight an Angel by myself, and I’d trust her… I’d trust my own ability to Pilot. But talking to Asuka about father issues was a whole different ball game. It was so easy to say the wrong thing… and so common for me to do it that I’d just stopped saying things full stop in situations like this.

“Alright,”

Reluctantly, I stood up. I wasn’t to enthusiastic about being shouted at… I had no real background experience to talk with her either, from what I gathered, Noriko had gotten on well with her father… she even looked up to him, he’d been so strong after mother died, I wished I could be just like him.

Wait… crap I don’t need that right now.

I shook my head to clear the memory, feeling an uncomfortable knot start to turn deep within. Right, here goes.

I slid open the door, to see Asuka lying face down on her bed. What am I supposed to say? Something as simple as ’Do you want to talk about it?’

“I heard Misato. I don’t want to talk,” said Asuka, her voice quiet but still with an unnerving hardness, “Not to her or you. I don’t need your help. Just leave me alone,”

Oh thank God. I stepped back and threw a lock to Misato that said ‘I told you so’ even though I hadn’t actually told her anything. She frowned at me, trying to guilt me into it, but it really wasn’t an issue I wanted to force.

If the girl says no, she means no.

“Noriko…” Misato pressed.

The first pangs of guilt started to make themselves known. But really, I didn’t know how to handle situations like this… If you don’t know how to do a job, then don’t try, you’ll only make things worse if you do. In that case, find someone who does…

Who would Asuka talk to?

Who else but her best friend?

I’ll call Hikari… that’s what I’ll do. And…what do girls do together? What excuse to bring her here?... A sleepover!

“I have… plan,” I stated, feeling proud of myself for it.

I could suffer through a girl’s night in for Asuka’s sake.

“What is it?” Misato questioned, suddenly looking very concerned.

“I call Asuka friend Hikari. Asuka always talk with Hikari,”

“Hikari…” Misato thought, finger on her lips. “Oh her, she’s sweet. Just be sure to tell security she’s coming,”

“Thanks,”

Now just to ring her up. Just because I was a girl now, didn’t mean I didn’t feel slightly nervous before ringing her up. Her number was listed in the phonebook. The phone rang once, twice, three times… just long enough for me to remember all the times I’d been told ‘no’ over the phone.

“Moshi Moshi,” a man answered.

Her father, probably.

“Hello. Is Hikari home?”

“Who is this?”

“Noriko, Noriko from school,”

“I’ll get her. Hang on,”

Right, her goes. A few moments wait..

“Hello, Noriko?” Hikari’s voice appeared through the earpiece.

“Uh…hi..” I gulped a little. I’m asking a girl over. “I…um… can you come over? Asuka feeling down, I think sleepover with friend will help,”

“What happened?” Concern, I heard.

“Her father,” I explained, “They not… not get on well,”

“Oh… she told me he was in town, What did he do?”

“There was nasty argument,”

“Hmmm…” I could hear her thinking. “I do have a lot of chores to do. “..damn…”I’ll be over in about 2 hours, alright,”

“Yes!”… If you could send hugs through telephone cables, I’dve been hugging Hikari tight. A girl said yes to me!.

Oh right… I’m a girl too. And we’re friends… so she’s got no reason whatsoever to say no.

“See you then Noriko… Bye!”

“Bye,”

We both hung up. And still, there was something exciting about that.

“Sleepover?” Misato quirked an eyebrow. “Fine, just remember you and Asuka are still on call in case an Angel attacks… and I don’t want to hear reports from Section 2 about you girls being loud,”

‘Oh great,’ said Shinji’s expression. Another night alone in his bedroom.

I was about to leave the phone, and run down to the nearest shop to pick up some snacks, when I remembered one other phone number I knew well.

I keyed Motoko’s number into the phone.
-------m(^0^)m------ Wot, no sig?

Dartz
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Postby Dartz » Thu Jul 01, 2010 8:02 pm

Because it's go over the character limit... or close to it. Doublepostan

More Asuka stuffs.

It was still unsettling, to think just how fast Asuka went off on her father… no slow buildup of frustration… just bang and gone. I got the feeling that it was a pretty common argument between the two, whenever they met.

From what I remembered… Asuka didn’t even live with her family… she lived with Misato, and then Kaji. What she thought of her father was never really shown. Her stepmother was ‘routine communication’. A stepbrother…. That was new.

Her father knew my mother, he said so. My mother, cheated on my father. Noriko’s mother and father… I could remember my father shouting at her…. Was I even his, or ‘that American fuckers?’ There was only one ‘American Fucker’ I could think of…

Was there a chance I was Asuka’s illegitimate half-sister?

We did share our sizes close enough to comfortably share underwear and clothes. It was an awful possibility… a screwy one, an unlikely one… but a disturbingly possible one.

Our father’s where the difference between us. I think Noriko got on well with my father, after my mother died. He cared for her, and Noriko looked up to him. Asuka on the other hand, pretty much hated her father. But on Saturday, she’d shrunk back like a scolded puppy from him and then kicked my arse hard because of him. Today, she’d gone off on a hair-trigger.

I don’t get it…

He yells at her asking ‘are you my daughter’, she answers yes, then lays the smackdown with a prog-knife. And the argument. You hate me, but you want to be my daughter. I want, says Asuka before Misato interrupts.

What did she want?

Damn… this was so much easier when watching it in animation… for one thing, anime characters didn’t yell at you, or get insulted when you got things wrong. A few nerds in an IRC channel might, but I didn’t have to live with them.

Asuka was a real human being, with motivations and hopes and dreams beyond what some scriptwriter in Japan decided. She wasn’t the character I saw on screen a lifetime ago… she was like that paint and cel girl… but she wasn’t her. For one thing, animé Asuka didn’t have a stash of ‘private’ magazines under the bed.

Not that I read them…

Stormclouds hung over Asuka while we ate, her cold mood sucked the warmth out of the air. It was quiet…uncomfortably quiet. Needing to something to think about other than my building apprehension at having two girls over, I decided to finally get an answer to a question that had been bugging me for a while. With some beef between my chopsticks, I asked,

“Where you learn cook so Good, Shinji?”

The boy blushed slightly, a little surprised.

“My uncle,” he answered quickly, “He said a man should be able to fix a roof, stop a leaking tap, drive a car, service a car, re-tile the bathroom, cook a good meal, hold down a job, keep his wife happy and keep his kids even happier. He taught me to cook… and I kind of like it.”

The boy seemed almost ashamed of it. Something about that made me smile warmly…

“Can you do the other things?” questioned Misato playfully, “The water heater’s been a bit unreliable lately…”

Shinji’s expression darkened.,.

“Well I’m impressed, Third Child,” Sorhyu slammed hard into the conversation, “Cookery is a skill that takes time and effort and dedication to master. My opinion of you has just risen a little,”

She just had to get in there before I spoke again, didn’t she?

“Only because you don’t like Misato’s instant stuff,” he muttered. After all, why would Asuka ever want to compliment him, she didn’t even like him…

“Oh it’s not that bad,” Misato batted it off with her hand, “Noriko eats it, don’t you?”

“Better than NERV canteen,” I shrugged.

Truth. Industrial grade food mixing with a stomach full of LCL was never a pleasant experience.

Asuka greened. “Ugghh… the last time I ate there I spent the next day throwing up.” She was back in a good mood… or what passed for a good Asuka mood. A shell?

According to the chore-chart, I was the one doing the washing up. Bloody housework. It had to be done. We lived in that apartment; we didn’t just pop in and out of existence for the duration of an episode… We had a lot of time, and a lot of work, in between battles.

Misato left for a night of paperwork, job scheduling and intercontinental conference calls with Germany and the States.

Better her than me.

Shinji and Asuka had monopolised the Xbox. I hated the smell of washing detergent. I hated the smell of the chimey mix of uneaten foods sloshing around the bottom of the sink. God knows I don’t want to be a housewife, if I have to grow up to be a woman. So, what sort of woman did I want to be then? Noriko the Yamato Nadeshiko housewife just didn’t feel right, but then it wasn’t too long ago that wearing a skirt to school just didn’t feel right either… among other things.

Growing up to be like Misato didn't seem too bad.... I could almost picture that in my mind. Noriko Katsuragi... We did have a lot in common, almost too much to be a coincidence.

I had things in common with Misato... orphaned survivor of a disaster and all that. The things I had in common with Asuka, were the same things that made me her opposite. Our mother's were both thirty stories tall. Her father is a muppet, while Noriko looked up to mine. Hers was alive, mine was dead.

I wonder what he'd think of his only daughter being a Pilot.

That was a kick in the gut… an emptiness that opened wide inside me. Behind, Shinji was kicking Asuka’s arse at Forza Motorsport on the Xbox… much to her chagrin.

He wasn’t my father. Somehow, that rang hollow this time. Whether he was my father or not, he was still a good man, he still cared for me… her… whatever. I could feel his arms holding me as the plane went down.

I could close my eyes, take one long deep breath and just sit on it.

“Shinji, stop hitting my ass!”

“Well stop going so slow then!”

At least I wasn’t alone here. I had Misato. I had friends coming over.

“I’m not going slow, you’re going too fast into the corners. Using the leader as a brake is cheating you know,”

“Because you go so slow and get in my way,”

They really did have a thing for each other, didn’t they? I watched Shinji argue, wondering just what my feelings were. I felt…something. I felt it again watching him….watching him smile, watching him bark back at Asuka. Just a biological thing nothing more, I told myself firmly.

All I had to do was remind myself of the many hundreds of Shinji/Asuka lemons out there that made The Aristocrats seem tame to kill it with a wave of nausea. Damn you Misato for pointing this out to me.

And what if I did start building real feelings for Shinji, and not just some biological echoes? What do I do when my mind decides to go along with it? The same unnerving tension came back, my body tightening into itself. I certainly got a stronger reaction from him, than other males.

Great, my life is starting to turn into a bad Ranma fanfic.

I finished washing up, and stashed the dishes in their proper place, cleared up the mess, and generally started trying to figure out what the hell girls did on these sleepover things. Deciding it was futile to figure out… and that I’d find out soon enough anyway… I did the English language draft of that conspiracy thing Kyon had asked me to do. It’d have to be translated with a dictionary, but I was pleased with the result. A mashup of a hundred half-remembered fanfics, some of my favourite animé and enough keywords to attract the right kind of attention…. It felt good to write something again.

It was the truth about NERV. More or less. With just enough changes and flavouring to make it seem like a random coincidence. Nothing I could think of was more screwed up than the truth.

The final few moments before arrival time were spent shuffling around the internet. Despite how different the post Second Impact world was, it surprised me how much was the same…. Exactly the same in some cases. A few eva fansites I knew even existed… dedicated to the real thing now. The whole WWW seemed to have just been time shifted by about seven or eight years. The web of 2015 wasn’t that different to the web I remembered at all. Even some of the same websites were still up.

An example of parallel evolution?

I thought about trying my old login on some pop culture wiki site… but the thought was interrupted by the door chime. Feeling the lightning bolt of excitement that always followed the arrival of female company, I closed the lid. The excitement died when I remembered they weren’t here as my girlfriends, but as my friends because I’m a girl.

“Shinji, you have to go to your room now, this is a girls-only thing…”

Girls only. My God, what have I done to myself?

The boy gave a sour look, but complied. I stopped at the door, not sure what was going to happen when I opened it. What did girls actually do on these things? For that matter, what did anyone? I never had friends over before….

There were the traditional male assumptions…. Though those were more wishful fantasy, than grounded in reality. Watch a few films, play a few games… the first morsel of junk food I’ve had in about three weeks, then sleep.

No mystery.

I opened the door.

“Noriko!” Hikari greeted, with a cheerfullness that contrasted with her usual class representative persona, “What’s this thing with Asuka,”

“Nothing,” came the flat-tone answer from the couch, “The Fourth Child just overreacted when Misato prodded her to do something,”

Hikari frowned, looking at me, then at Asuka.

“Well, we’re here now,” she smiled.

“Motoko?”

“Downstairs with the security guards,” Hikari answered,

“What?...” that shouldn’t happen. “I told them she was coming, and who she was,”

“They said she was on their watch list,” Hikari explained, “Probably because she was the one who originally outed Shinji as the Pilot of Unit 01,” she said, sourly. “They might think she’s a security risk,”

How stupid of Section 2. Then again, I’ve heard of worse excuses being used by airports. I left her to her fate, turning my back on a closing door. She’d be up in her…

“He~eey!”

Motoko’s voice nearly made me jump out of my skin. How did she do that? Did she teleport up ten flights of stairs or what?

“Oh Hey,” I recovered quickly

“Those damn guards of yours made me take all my stuff out of my backpack and scanned it,” she complained. “At least the lift worked, I don’t know why Hikari took the stairs,”

“Never work before,” I said, “That first time,” Really… first time since I moved in that that lift had worked. “It normal stick on third,”

Motoko glanced nervously back at the still open doors.

“I could’ve been…”

“I bought Pizza and snacks,” I smiled, trying to pull back her attention.

Her expression dropped, “My mom put me on a diet,” she said meekly.

“I diet by NERV.” I stated, “But break nice,” She gave me a puzzled look, not quite comprehending what I was trying to say. Damn it. “Mom not here!”

That, she understood. She found them in the fridge a few moments later.

“So, what films are we watching?” Hikari enquired.

“We have Moonlight: Riding Darkness,” said Asuka, “I rented it yesterday,”

“Ew…” I cringed.

Three girls turned to face me, shocked like I was some sort of heretic for saying. Motoko interrupted her browsing…

“What?” I blinked uncomprehendingly. That was the film I thought it was, right? “Jedward Langdon sneak into Jemma bedroom at night. He stand over sleeping body. Imagine he stand over you while sleep. He can do anything to you. Masturbate, rape…. But he just watch and leave. You see him next day, what do you say??”

Asuka greened. “Kimochi Warui,”

And sometimes, with the right direction, Asuka was exactly like her fictional counterpart.

“It’s still very romantic,” the class rep defended herself.

I knew I’d won. But I’d also missed the point, in a way. The point was that we were there, together, in our pyjamas with each other. The film was crap, but it wasn’t the film that mattered, it was the act of watching the film with friends while gorged on junk food.

I think.

I learned never to watch Knowing again, or rather one particular scene of it. I learned that a hug from a friend is so much nicer without a few million years of biology wondering if that hug might be going any further. It was just nice to be held by Motoko, without anything getting in the way. I learned that while playing some version of Truth or Dare the correct answer to ‘Have you lost your virginity yet?’ is not an honest ‘I don’t know’, but just a flat out ‘No’…

“I am fourteen,” I glared at Hikari,

“Shiori’s thirteen, and she’s pregnant,” she declared, calmly.

Wait, what? Three girls just stared at her.

“Uh-huh,” she nodded sagely, “She got stuck with her boyfriend in a room together during the last attack… and ….they did the deed,” Her distaste was obvious. “She found out last week, and her parents are going mad over it,”

“Poor thing,” said Asuka.

“They’re too young to marry,” Horaki said, softly, “Though I think he said he’d stay with her.”

Motoko giggled, “Jeez you’re old fashioned,”

The class-rep glared, “My father raised me right,”

Asuka winced, “He’ll dump her at the first convenient opportunity. He’s probably only going along with it because he’s being pushed,” she declared.

“Her Father?” I misinterpreted.

“Are you stupid? Her boyfriend of course,” corrected Sorhyu, sharply.

“Kazu never seemed that sort, actually,” Hikari corrected her, before taking a few moments to ponder on it. I was stuck playing catchup, translating Asuka’s last comment.

“They’re all like that,”

Given who her father was, I suppose I could understand why she would think that. Then why the hell did she cling to Kaji like a limpet?

“Can we get back to the game?” Motoko chopped the topic off, “It’s Asukas turn, Truth or dare?”

“Truth,” the Second Child answered with a flourish. Nobody wanted to be dared to eat Pen-Pen’s fish. The bird will kill to protect it.

Hikari, Motoko and I drew into a huddle to consider are options. There was no option, with a whisper loaded with a commanders authority, Hikari spoke, “Let me try something,” It wasn’t a request, and I wasn’t in the mood for an argument. Motoko just look glad she’d been kicked out of 2-A.

Steeling herself, with an expression behind her glasses like a miniature teacher in training, she spoke.

“Tell me the truth about your father,” she said. Asuka was appalled at the betrayal. “Unless you want to lose the game,”

And that right there explained just how Hikari and Asuka had somehow managed to become friends. Hikari could be sharp enough to cut straight through Asuka’s bluster.

“He’s an asshole,” Sorhyu said, obviously hoping to leave it at that.

“That’s not enough,” Horaki needled like a good psychiatrist.

My own friend leaned forward, hoping to see the greatest secrets of the mysterious foreign red-head laid bare. I’d already seen them onscreen…. For the most part…. Still it was fascinating to watch.

“Alright,” she held her hands up, before fixing the pair of us with a deadly gaze. “If any of this leaves this building, I will kill you,” It was a promise she’d keep, I sensed. She sat silent for a second, digging through the darker parts of her mind. She squirmed and shuddered as she dug things out, filtered them down to the bare minimum she could get away with telling. Deep breath to centre herself.

“So, my father’s an asshole, right? Well…. He’s a total Jim Kirk. He cheated on my mom before I was born. He cheated on her while he worked late projects. He cheated on her while she was dying in hospital.” A pause. Pen-pen was watching. Shinji was probably asleep… it was near 3am. “He treats women like things to be conquered… and his children as nothing more than inconveniences, or another means of vicarious gratification,”

She gave me a moment to catch up. Horaki already regretted asking. Motoko was enraptured. Asuka was starting to look almost ashamed.

“I hate him,” she stated with a coolness that made it all the more believable than some spur of the moment scream, “He got my stepmother pregnant. I don’t hate her. She was trapped by him, and she had the guts to force him to marry her and actually take responsibility for my stepbrother. I…respect her,” and that word was carefully chosen, “And she at least tried to be my mama. Kara does care about me, even though I’m not her daughter. She’s a good person and we maintain routine communications.”

A momentary break to let the information digest.

“But if I never saw that shit-eating sack of meat I have the misfortune of sharing a chromosome with, it’d be too soon. The only time he ever treats me like his daughter is when I do something that he can take credit for.”

There was real steel hate behind her voice. Another beat.

“Now is that enough truth?”

If she hates men like her father, then why does she glomp Kaji the instant he enters the same room as her? She hated her father… understandably, the man was a bollocks… but she still wanted his approval, how did that work? Wasn’t there some Jung thing where a girl whose father ignores her looks for her father in other men… or was that Misato? For an EVA-fan, I never knew much about psychology, preferring oedipal jokes about how Shinji was more inside Yui than his father ever was, than serious thinking.

Hikari nodded, closing the matter.

“Jeez,” snorted Sorhyu, “You should be a psychiatrist. Anyway, my turn,” that savage gleam returned to her eyes as all those dark thoughts were crushed away with practiced efficiency. She didn't even give us the chance to say anything, she launched right back into the game. “Motoko, truth or dare?”

“Dare,” was the too-cocky answer.

Looks like my best friend gets to eat penguin food. Better her than me.

I closed the night living every fanboys dream. I slept in the same bed as Asuka Langley Sorhyu. The pair of us where sandwiched between a silent penguin-scratched Motoko, and a snoring Horaki. I felt….nothing. I could smell Asuka’s perfume… her face was inches from mine, her breath softly tickling my face.

I was hurtling towards the female event horizon…dropping faster and faster since Sunday. I wanted so badly to feel something… a tingle, a tickle, anything at all. There was no desire… none whatsoever.

I wasn’t sure what was better…. Being able to sleep in a bed with three other girls and not being a nervous ball of sweating shame, flinching and thrilling everytime Asuka’s arm brushed against my nipple, or still having that piece of myself that would stare at Misato’s ‘scar’.

Just another piece of me dissolved away. Another brown leaf of personality blown of the autumn tree that was myself. New leaves would grow in spring and then…. I found I hated that metaphor.

The good thing was I wasn’t being kept awake with unrequited desires.

The bad thing was, I was being kept awake by my own identity worries.

If it wasn’t one thing, it was the other.

I…I

Wednesday was a day of waiting.

Long, hot and sweaty… half asleep in class while the teacher spent a half hour trying to figure out how to make an old DvD player work with a pre-Impact TV, to play some public information film the government had decided to inflict on all schools in the Kanto region. The screen finally flickered to life when he found the right AV channel

Protect and Survive under Angel Attack.

It hadn’t anything to do with me….When the sirens started to wail, I had other things to worry about… so I just busied myself translating my Haruhi project. The film started with an image of a pristine Tokyo-3, glittering in the sun.

The narrator spoke like an adult talking to children half our age.

“We all know the Angels are very dangerous, and we must get ready for them, just as we a ready for many other dangers that are around us. First, you have to know what happens when an Angel attacks… you will know when one comes, we hope one won’t, but we must get ready. We must be ready every day, all the time to do the right thing, should an Angel attack.”

Pictures of people living in the city. On trains, in cars. Kids outside the school.

“There will be two kinds of attack; with warning, and without any warning. We think that most of the time we will have warning before the Angel arrives. You may be in your schoolyard playing when the signal comes. That signal means to stop what you are doing and get to the nearest shelter fast. Know where you are to go, or ask an adult to help you. You know the places marked with this Kanji? They’re safe places to go when you hear the signal.”

The school shelter was built inside the mountain behind it… and was probably the safest one in the city. The narrator’s tone darkened.

“Sometimes… and this is very, very important… sometimes an attack can begin without any warning, or Non-nuclear weapons may be used. Then, the first thing you will know about it may be the flash of an explosion. That means get down and shield yourself fast, there is no time to look around and wait. A non-nuclear initiation looks something like this.”

Stock footage of Old Tokyo being nuked 15 years ago. It looked like CGI, but was the real thing.

“There is a bright flash, brighter than a thousand suns, brighter than anything you’ve ever seen. You know how bad sunburn can feel, well the flash from an N-two explosion can burn you worse than a terrible sunburn. It’s such a big explosion it can smash in buildings and knock signboards over, and smash windows all over the city. It could knock you down hard, or throw you against a tree or a wall.”

The damage to the old city… the parts that hadn’t been flooded.

“This is what to do if you should be in a corridor… get down and shield yourself. Try to fall away from glass or windows. Then, if the glass breaks and flies through the air, it can’t fly through you.”

Adult ‘children’ throwing themselves against a cardboard ‘wall’, burying their face under their hands.

“If you are in class when the attack comes. Duck down and take cover under the table. Then if the attack makes anything in the room fall down, it won’t fall on you.”

Just like the Earthquake drills, which the Pilots also did. I

“If an Angel attacks, the Evangelion may be used against it. The Evangelion is a powerful weapon, but can be as dangerous as an angel to you. It is thousands of times your size, and may not always be able to see you on the ground. Try to stay out of it’s way. If you cannot flee to a shelter, then duck and cover yourself. Try to get close to a solid building which may protect you from rocks and broken glass kicked up by the Evangelion.”

Computer generated Evangelion, fighting computer generated Angel.

“Yes, we must all get ready know, so we know how to save ourselves when the next attack comes. Remember what to do friends, now tell me right out loud, what are you supposed to do when an attack begins?”

“Protect and Survive”, answered the movie artificial class.

What myself and the pilots were supposed to do when the call came, was to run to a convoy of HUMVEE’s waiting in the school carpark, and be driven straight to Headquarters at full pelt through the city to try and get there and get the EVA’s launched before the Angel arrived.

The rest of the day was as long as it was hot. Just waiting for the Angel to appear, ticking the time over in my mind. It was supposed to be after school, on the way home from school. Shinji called his father… the phone went dead halfway through the call, then the pilots had fun crawling through random ducts and crawl-ways for a few hours before plinking the Angel.

I was a lot more confident, than I had been going to the last Angel.

Nagisa had his own fanclub among the girls… but it didn’t seem to faze him. He just went through the motions of being a student. If someone talked to him, he’d talk back and be so obtuse and confusing, they’d just give up. I think that’s what some of the girls liked about him. Tellingly his fanclub mostly consisted of the school’s Moonlight fangirls… he had the (mis)fortune of being a dead ringer for Jedward Langdon.

They even sounded alike. They spoke alike…using the same obtuse half-truths that could entice the unwary and allow them to draw their own conclusions. Naturally, some of the boys hated him already…. Only the fact that he was a Pilot was saving his ass from a good kicking. Schoolkids were still schoolkids….

I hoped someone would give him a good intro to the darker side of humanity.

I didn’t know if he’d met Shinji yet….Shinji himself hadn’t said anything about him. I hoped Shinji hated him. I hoped I could poison Shinji against him. This made me smile.

The walk to the Geofront for an evening’s testing was the longest in my life… just waiting until Shinji peeled off to make a phonecall, or for the lights to fall silent. I wanted to fight, I wanted to show off my new training. I wanted to get an Angel kill, and this was one of the easiest Angels to beat, after all.

All it did was stand there, drop some orange acid and get shot dead.

Unless there was another crane moment. But what could go wrong? Everything, now that I’d cursed the mission with that careless thought. We could get lost on the way down to headquarters, for a start.

The longest day finished with no sign of the incoming Angel…except for rain. Barring any weirdness, tomorrow was going to be a fun day.

I…I

I jumped awake and screamed.

“My ears! My fucking ears!”

Panting.. panicking in the darkness, I was afraid to terrified of touching them, incase what I thought had been a nightmare… had been anything but. Hesitantly, I brought one hand up, brushing through a few stray strands of hair, before gently probing with a finger to check what was there.

Fearing plastic, I blew a sigh of relief as I felt only all natural flesh.

The rest of my body started to wake up, checking in with the brain to make sure everything was alright. I pulled up my nighshirt and checked my stomach… no polished black armour.. just that same nasty-looking scar. My chest… soft, perky and tingly. My legs, long and smooth… my arms. All normal, Mark-1 human.

I was…myself.

Thank God.

Raindrops pecked at the window, Asuka stirring in her bed beside me.

The night before Mattariel…I guessed… and I’d just been reminded of one of the last Evangelion fanfics I’d had a chance to read. Of Asuka, burned down to a screaming back of meat by the Angel’s acid, then rebuilt into some creepy Evangelion/human hybrid. It was the fanart that stuck most on my mind…

I dropped lay back down on my back, feeling my chest bounce a little. I’d just barely gotten used to being Noriko… I didn’t want to be…sangokiko.

It sounds stupid… but it kept me from sleeping for quite a while.

I…I


Yeah. I found places for both of them. Trying not to bog down with needless stuff... though the Asuka bits may seem a bit rushed, and made up. Do they work?
-------m(^0^)m------ Wot, no sig?

Dartz
Eva Technician
Eva Technician
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Postby Dartz » Mon Jul 05, 2010 4:24 pm

More:

I…I

“What’s got you’re goat today, Noriko?” Motoko asked over lunch. We’d found our usual spot, sitting on a low concrete wall by some shrubs at the edge of the yard, near the older school buildings.

I was buzzing, waiting for the Angel… just counting the hours until school ended. I’d even checked up on open routes down to the Geofront… anything to keep the thoughts of a yellow armoured Noriko-bot out of my mind. Even if there was just the little bit of me that liked cyberpunk stuffs and thought it’d be… interesting, the whole melting alive in acid beforehand just didn’t appeal

“A feeling,” I answered her.

“About what?”

“An Angel today,” I said with a knowing smile.

She glanced nervously around at the schoolyard, “Really? They tell you about them beforehand?”

“No. Just feeling in bones,”

She gave me a dubious look, “Did you predict the last one?”

I gave her a cat-like smirk. “Yup.”

“….really?”

A nod. “I have high midichlorian count,”

True…Someone working for Marduk loved Star Wars references. Supposedly, a midichlorian was a genetic marker that showed up after Second Impact… the higher the count, the greater fraction of cells with the marker, the better chance a Pilot could synchronise. It was of course, a total arsepull….For one thing, I was conceived with my genetics set in stone about seven months before the Impact.

“The Force is with you then,” she joked, catching a reference I doubt many in the post-Impact generation would’ve.

I shrugged “I prefer Star Trek,”

“I don’t care. I prefer Harrison Ford,” she giggled.

I used to like Carrie Fischer… not anymore. Sitting on a hot school playground wearing a blouse and skirt, I felt that loss keenly.

“Mark Hamill,” I said…. Reluctantly going along with what I guessed was expected.

“Too goodey-goodey… Han Solo is rough and tough,”

I shrugged it off. I may have lost my ability to feel an interest in women, but I’ll be damned if I’ll be drawn into boy-talk. Which I could file right alongside my statements of willing damnation upon feeling comfortable wearing skirt, masturbating and generally doing anything remotely girly up to that point that had now become a comfortable routine. What next? I may be talking about boys, but I’ll be damned if I kiss Shinji? I may have kissed Shinji, but I’ll be damned if I sleep with him. Okay, I may have slept with Shinji, but I’ll be damned if I marry him. I may be marrying him, but I’ll be damned if it’s a Japanese style wedding.

Misato’d already pushed me down the slippery slope… and I was starting to fall so bloody fast. I don’t want my life to be a stupid high-school romance. I don’t want any do-I-or-don’t-I feelings for Shinji or fucking anyone else for that matter. I don’t want to be a normal girl…

But that’s what I was becoming.

“Is something wrong, Noriko?” Motoko asked me, her face concerned. She placed a comforting hand lightly on my shoulder. Dammit… I was almost starting to cry again. Can’t I do anything else these days?

“Just memories,” I lied… and felt awful for doing it. “I think I hear plane, remember the crash,”

Which after what happened watching that film Tuesday night, made perfect sense. Motoko just looked uncomfortable, looking at her feet for a few heartbeats as she tried to figure out just what she could say.

“I really don’t know” she said quietly, “Nothing like that’s ever happened to me, so…. I can’t say I know how you feel. I’m sorry I can’t sympathise.”…a pause…”I saw it on the news, and I remember hearing about a girl survivor…. It feels kinda weird to meet someone from something I saw on TV. I know it sounds funny,” she laughed nervously, grabbing the back of her head, “..but stuff like that never seemed real until I met someone,”

It was a feeling I knew well….

I smiled warmly at her, “I understand. Hard to know what to say, or how to talk about. Afraid to say bad thing, offend me…or if you might hurt. ”

Always wondering what are you supposed to say and do….how to act when you’ve got no experience yourself, and you’re thankful for not having had anything like that happen to you? You’re afraid to ask what it was like, but still morbidly curious to know

A black JSSDF chopper thumped its way across the city sky, doors open so you could see right through it. I watched it arc over the city for a half-second, cameraman hanging out the door like a Vietnam gunner, shooting the city beneath.

“Yeah…that’s it. It makes it hard to talk to adults, too. My parents never talk about it… they just dodged the question when I asked about Second Impact.”

Anyone over the age of about eighteen would be old enough to remember Second Impact, to remember being panicked, half-drowned, lose everything they own to the ocean, then get nuked, irradiated, crammed into a hellish refugee camp riddled with disease, then starved for a few months while watching family members die or be killed by a government using deadly force to maintain some semblance of order.

“I was born in Usui camp,” I said.

“Wow… with real running water,” she cooed mockingly. “Someone was born with a silver spoon,”

The JSSDF chopper banked overhead, taking pictures of the school. Kensuke Aida returned the favour from the roof of the gym. It circled the yard once or twice, Rei sitting in her own private space watched it, before returning to her book. A Hotaru VTOL from NERV chased it away with a jet scream that sent chills down my spine.

Shinji was talking with Kawaoru.

“Son of a bitch,” I snarled, shocking Motoko,

“I was kidding,” she shrunk back.

“… Not you,”

“What then?” she queried.

“New Pilot. I not like him.”

“He seems fine to me,” she said. “A bit weird, but all you EVA kids are,”

I glared. “ You not work with him. Real creepy, real dangerous. Not even human!”

Again… just like with Shinji the other day.

“Jeez… “ she held her hands up, “Alright, I believe you,”

“Sorry,” I relaxed. I had to stop going off like a bomb each time someone talked about him…it was just going to alienate everyone and make me look like a total bitch.

“What did he do to you?” she asked me, tentatively.

Stole my life. Stole my gender. Stole my identity.

“Call it…female intuition,” I said, trying not to snap her head off

“That’s a bad reason,” she stated, sourly.

“He still…. Weird to talk to.”

“He’s still handsome,” she nudged me in the shoulder. “All the fanboys have the mysterious Rei to admire, it’s nice to have a mysterious boy to think about at night. He’s cool, he’s bishounen, he’s mysterious. He’s just like Jedward Langdon,” she cooed.

“He sink teeth into neck when you turn back,”

She sat there pensively for a moment, probably understanding that whatever had suddenly turned me into a bitch, was a hell of a lot deeper than I was letting on. I watched the two Pilots talk, Shinji questioning Nagisa, his expression puzzled.

He was answered with a quick word.

Shinji started, confused for a moment. What did Nagisa just say to him? Fighting the urge to charge across the yard and but in between the pair, I sat rigid on the concrete… staring…glaring. I wasn’t going to let him hurt Shinji. I wasn’t going to let him be kind to Shinji,

Another question from the Third Child.

Kawaoru’s answer made him cringe down into his trousers, the pilot of Unit 01 blushing across the cheeks… ashamed.

What the hell?

He said…something…quickly, blurting it out before hurrying away, thoroughly and obviously weirded out. It brought a sinister smile to my face to see the boy-Angel saunter off alone.

“Oh I see,” Motoko’s voice intruded, “Someone is jealous. Afraid the newcomer my steal your crush away?” she teased, grinning at me.

Uh… my mind deadlocked. I wanted to scream ‘No’ in her face, but it just wouldn’t come out my mouth. Instead, there was just this horrible feeling inside me that at some level, she might’ve been right.

“I don’t know,” was all I managed, my voice lost in the bustle of the yard.

“Oh wow,” she laughed, covering her hand, “That’s it!” Like she’d uncovered the final secret of Fatima…

“Stop,” I pleaded. “I don’t know I….” I was blushing.. “I not know feeling,” I was quivering like my insides had just turned to jelly. “I….I….This is all fucked up,” I crashed back into my native language.

Motoko watched, puzzled. “….It’s nothing to be ashamed of, especially since you live with him and all” she said, her tone conciliatory… but tentative like she was afraid I’d snap off n her face. “I mean, you’re fourteen, not twelve,”

Which reminded me of what Misato had told me.

“The plane crash before I…”… what word did Misato use again… “before I grew.” I pointed at my chest. “I puberty in sleep… and when I wake up.”, I cupped my boobs and squeezed lightly.

“Oh…” understanding dawned. “That’s… that’s kinda fucked up,” She was lost for words for just one moment. “Jeez,” she rolled her eyes scornfully high “,I wish I could go to sleep one night and wake up with boobs like those. How fast did they grow?”

Catching the joke, I appreciated the attempt.

“Female mech pilot,” I said with a joking smile, “Do you watch animé? All mech pilots required to be a bit…big.”

Asuka, Rei and myself were noticeably ‘more developed’ than the other girls in the school, something they liked to snark on behind our backs.

“I wonder if the boys are bigger too?” she mused aloud.

“Don’t know,” I shrugged, dismissively. And didn’t want to know… regardless of how the hormones surging through my body felt about it, I can still control myself.

Now can I get back to worrying about being dissolved down into a screaming human potatoe, or all the other myriad ways I could screw up today’s Angel battle? That I could deal with easily enough…. I knew more or less what to expect from the Angel, and I’d done weeks of pretty serious training to be able to handle it. I’d been on an active mission and not screwed up…even if something a bit odd had happened.

The school’s electronic bell called an end to lunchbreak, chiming like the destroyed Big-Ben.

“Noriko,” Motoko said as we both stood up, “If there is an Angel today, Good Luck,”

That just made me feel warm all over.

“Thank you very much,” I bowed down… surprising her. Did I get that wrong? Bowing was supposed to be a sign of respect and I was genuinely grateful for her just being there and talking with me.

“It’s the least we can do,” she said, a little embarrassed, “You pilots all risk your lives to protect everyone. We just sit in a shelter and listen to the rumblings of war overhead, hoping you win, while wondering if we’d live long enough to feel the ceiling collapse in on top of us if you don’t. Noriko,” she gripped my hands between hers firmly, warmly, “The only thing I can do to help is to be your friend. I can’t get into the cockpit with you, but I can still be here for you to help you deal with it,”

“Thank You,” I repeated, sincerely, feeling a little awkward.

Shinji had the other stooges, Asuka had Hikari, I had Motoko. Rei had… herself. So long as we had them, we could deal with anything. It made sense…. In the original series, Asuka turned to Hikari after Arael. When Hikari was evacuated, what happened to Asuka?

“I think… back to class,” I suggested. The yard had almost emptied.

I felt good again. Was that the value of a friend in a world like this. I attended class in body only, my spirit was busy winging through the school’s chatrooms… I thought about trolling the Nagisa fan-club…. But… I was being too much of a bloody bitch. I hate him… it didn’t do me any good to take it out on everyone else. I’d just end up isolating myself, and driving everyone into his waiting arms. I’m not stupid, I wasn’t going to make him into a martyr…. I wasn’t going to make him the victim. I’d bet that was his plan all along. Motoko’s reaction showed me that much.

And whatever Nagisa’d said to Shinji had really bothered him.

Looking to force my mind away from the Angel, I finished translating my little Haruhi piece, and emailed it on to Kyonichi. I kept turning Motoko’s words over and over in my mind…. They made me feel a little better each time I replayed that moment. I’d swallowed my daily dose of angst and whining with a spoonful of Motoko Hino supplied sugar to help it go down.

I’d see her again tomorrow.

Class dragged on. I sat there like an excited child asked to sleep on Christmas Eve. The drone at the front kept nattering on about socio-political changes and how everyone single one of us was supposed to be grateful for all our parents suffering through the hells of Second Impact so that we could be born and live a life of luxury and comfort on the backs of their struggle.

Why didn’t I just head straight down to headquarters then, instead of staying and listening to one long old-aged guilt trip? Because I couldn’t explain why I’d skipped school and gone down there on the very day an Angel just happened to attack.

I just had to sit and wait.

And wait.

And sweat.

The school’s bell chimed ending the day… I was gone like a bullet before it stopped. I could be early for my training… I might even make it down before the power died. If I can catch the electric train down, I might just be able to make it in time to have the Angel all to myself.

All It could do was drip acid on the ground, it’d be an easy shoot.

Which was a wonderful time to be reminded of last night’s nightmare. That was just a fanfic! I snapped at myself. And so was the story about the adult male waking up in a teenage girl’s body, and becoming a character in his favourite animé…. That seemed like a great laugh until I went to bed one night in Dublin, and woke up in a Tokyo hospital.

This wasn’t the world I saw on TV. It was like it… but it was already different because of me.

“Hey, Noriko… wait for us!” Asuka called out across the yard, waving at me, “We’re doing our harmonics today, remember?”

Shinji was with her, with Rei bringing up the rear. No Kawaoru.

That put an end to any thoughts of a solo mission. Well, it wasn’t like they’d send me out alone, I was still the newest active pilot and they didn’t know this was one of the weakest Angels while I couldn’t tell them it was.

“Alright. I just get out of sun,“ I lied. Looks like we were going together… I’d probably screw up by myself anyway.

I…I

Also being posted on spacebattles now, for those who care.
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Dartz
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Postby Dartz » Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:14 pm

More.

I think this was originally a Shinjiko... but change the eye colour a bit and it makes quite a nice Noriko: http://image.bayimg.com/manhpaacj.jpg

I don't know what the original is from... please don't ask... the file was a couple of years old.


The walk through the city was awful. I couldn’t stop listening for any distant signs of the Angel. A crash, an explosion, a siren. My whole body stretched taught, ready to start running at an instants notice.

It was the hardest thing not to just rush the others ahead with me.

Kawaoru was nowhere to be seen… either he took a different way down or didn’t have any tests today since he didn’t have an EVA to test in… I was determined not to worry about it.

“I was talking with the Fifth child at lunch,” Shinji picked a wonderful time to bring it up. I winced, closing my eyes and biting back before I could say something I’d regret.

“Oh him, he’s weird,” Asuka announced.

Shinji frowned. “He is… a little.” The boy seemed almost ashamed of himself for saying it.

I wanted to kiss him. Figuratively.

“He’s like the First child.” Sorhyu explained, “He was probably brought up alone, with only scientists for company. He never met a child his own age and…”

“I am not like him,” a soft voice from behind interrupted her like a hard slap. Rei had decided to remind everyone she was following.

Asuka glowered at her, standing right in front of her. “Yes you are! You both have the same eyes, the same skin… if I didn’t know better, I’d swear you were brother and sister. He’s just a little better at faking emotions.”

‘Why the fuck am I standing here listening to this?’ Rei’s expression asked. It was so hard not to laugh, it was the funniest thing to see. Either her body didn’t quite know how to display just how annoyed she was,

“I am not like him,” Rei repeated. “We share a genetic disorder, that is all,” Her voice had hardened, ever so slightly. She looked at me, then Shinji.

“Oh come on,” Asuka took that as a direct challenge. “You’re just a doll faking emotions. You’re not even good at faking anger,” she stabbed, hoping to a get reaction.

“Uh…” Shinji interrupted…tentatively, “Ayanami’s not faking,”

He took the words right out of my mouth.

Asuka held her nose in the air, “Nobody could stay this calm, she has to be faking it.”

One of Rei’s arms twitched. It’d be funny if she actually did slap Asuka. Instead, she wore a bitter expression, like she’d been sucking on a lemon.

“Can we continue,” she said, pushing past the Pilot of Unit 02. It wasn’t a request.

“Damn you!” Sorhyu sneered at her back. “Damn you Shinji for taking her side!”

The green-eyed monster reared its head. He looked like he’d expected that, resigned to his fate. Asuka took off after Rei, chasing her while. Shinji just took a breath, concluded it was worth it, then walked beside me.

“She really does have it for him bad,” I commented to myself

Shinji thought.

“¬¬Have what?”

What? Right, he takes English classes at school, all Japanese schoolkids do. I didn’t, because I was taking extra Japanese. He probably wasn’t anywhere near conversational… school language classes tended to edge towards getting the student passed the exam, rather than getting the student to say anything useful.

Still. It gave me a choice. I could tell him exactly how Asuka felt about him… he did ask what she had for him, didn’t he. I could tell him how Asuka secretly had a crush on him, that the only reason she acted like she hated him was because she hated him being so meek, when she knew how courageous he could be. I could tell him how she wanted him to be strong and courageous, like when I dived into the volcano to pull her out without so much as a moment’s thought.

I didn’t.

As much as it seemed like an exciting thing to do…. I just couldn’t bring myself to betray Asuka like that. She didn’t even know her own feelings… I wasn’t going to out them to Shinji. Well...not di-rectly...

“Jealousy,” I said

“Why would she be jealous,” Shinji questioned me.

“Because, you defend Rei,” I answered.

He looked pensive for a moment, “But, Asuka was wrong. I've seen Rei smile,”... he smiled to thing about it. “It just didn't feel right to let her say otherwise,”... another rush of shame.

And Rei told me she felt protective of him.

“Like she need..uh... you protect?”

“Unh,” he nodded.

He’s really sweet, I thought.... before realising it. That 'tightness' started to spread through my body... a butterfly's flutter in my heart. Stop it!

“You talk with Nagisa,” I jumped off that train of thought, “What he say?

“He's weird,” Shinji said... again, looking pensive. “He told me that it was good to see me again. I don't think I've ever met him. And...well...” he just looked uncomfortable... “he said he loved me..” Which was pretty much the most disturbing thing to say to a fourteen year old boy... “Boys shouldn't say that to other boys,”

“He not know meaning of love,” I stated, trying hard not to laugh.

“Maybe. Asuka was right about one thing. I don't think he's ever been around other people.”

It was more than that. That was Rei. She had her feelings, she just didn't know how to express them. Kawaoru had none. Nothing but an imitation. Hate smouldered inside me.

Shinji was edging nervously away.

“Why would Asuka be jealous anyway?” he laughed.

He'd have to answer that one on his own. We passed a public phone, before turning right onto 23d streeth, while I glanced up at the evacuation tower my training told me was supposed to be there.

“Hey Shinji,” Asuka's green eyed monster called back, “Weren't you going to call your father today about the parent-teacher meetings?”

“I'll do it after the test,” he answered.

“You can't keep putting these things on the long finger. Do it now or you never will,”

Obviously... she was just trying to stop me talking to him. Not wanting to be at the hypocentre of a red-haired A-bomb going off, I kept that opinion to myself.

“Alright,” he relented… looking forward to it like a cow looking forward to the slaughter.

“There’s a payphone right here,” Asuka pointed at the wall beside her, “You can use this,”

Rei stopped to watch, while Shinji held the phone to his ear. He frowned. “There’s no dial tone,”

“Try my cell then,” she practically forced the phone into his hand.

He took one look at the screen. “No signal,” he said, dourly.

“Scheisse,” Asuka swore in her own language, frustration starting to boil, “You’re doing it wrong, idiot. Give it back.”

She ripped it out of his hands, stabbing at the keypad.

“What did you do to it to break it?”

Being in on the joke, it was hard not to laugh.

“Mine is not working either,” said Rei, holding up her phone.

Asuka looked like she wanted to bite her head off for a moment, before her common sense caught up and clamped down on her tongue. She looked around, watching a few birds fly overhead, before turning to her attention to a set of traffic lights.

They were dark.

“Power’s out,” Shinji stole the words from her mouth.

“Why payphone not work?” I wondered aloud. As far as I knew, landline phones took their power directly from the phone line itself, which was separate from the city’s power grid.

“Down’s down,” Asuka killed the question. “The important thing is, what do we do now?”

Rei already had her emergency manual to hand. She cracked open the security seal. Shinji fumbled for his, while I remembered I’d left mine in my locker at school to make space for ‘Nihongo Now’ textbooks.

“Pilots are to proceed to headquarters on foot using road access routes. Pilots are to be ready and available for a manual launch.” Rei read.

“And we need a leader,” the Second Child added on. “Naturally, it should be me since I have seniority,”

Naturally…

“Sure,” I shrugged. What the hell, it wasn’t worth fighting over, was it? Between herself and Rei, I didn’t have to share a bedroom with Rei. Shinji looked dubious, but nodded. Rei gave her a glare behind her back that could strip paint.

“We’ll go to the main gate,” ordered Sorhyu, “There’s bound to be someone down there who can open the gates for us,”

“Without power the gates will be closed,” Ayanami countered, “The manual requires us to take road routes only. “

“Subordinates shouldn’t question their leader,” Sorhyu shot her down, hard.

“A good leader listens to her subordinates.“ Rei seemed as calm as a winter millpond.

They’re not going to start a fight in the street, are they?

“I think Asuka’s right,” Shinji tried to be diplomatic, “The main gate is closer, and there’s bound to be a way to manually open them,”

Not up for crawling through dusty ducts, I decided on the middle ground.

“Should we split? Me Rei down road run. Uh… Asuka, Shinji main gate. Two groups, double chances,”

And if we got there first, which we probably would since I could run like hell and so could Rei, I could be first in line to get my face melted off. To my surprise, she actually thought about it.

“No, we stick together. We won’t get lost that way,”

And we wouldn’t make her look the fool by arriving before her. Fine, whatever…. The longer we argued over it, the less time we had to deal with the Angel. Let’s just get moving so we can kick its arse.

My confidence was starting to melt, replaced by a bristling fear that maybe… just maybe something I did or was about to do would screw this up.
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Postby Dartz » Fri Jul 16, 2010 7:22 pm

[QUOTE=notBald]Rei showing emotion was funny. The "I'm not like him," flub. There was hardly too much with Rei, the girl does have some deeply burried pride down there too after all.

Oh, and Noriko is cute.[/QUOTE]

It's not Rei's emotions...those are always fun...I'm more worried about it coming across as "I hate Kawaoru", with the entire cast agreeing with Noriko's character bashing, like so many other Mary-Sues.

Noriko hates him for good reason. Everyone else just thinks he's a bit weird... but nobody actively dislikes him.



Not sure who here is reading, but another bit. It also really needs a beta reader... so it's still a bit rough, and my wordprocessor is doing weird things with word wrap.


Rei didn’t say “I told you so” when we found that the gates wouldn’t open. She didn’t have to. Her expression said enough when Asuka ran her card through the reader and was answered with a stubborn silence.

“The emergency gate is down that corridor,” the security guard directed us. “It’s hand-cranked. The other boy is waiting for you,”

Crap.

Shaking lightly, I swallowed a building fear, forcing it down to the pit of my stomach… as usual. Not only could I get hurt, I could get hurt with Kawaoru watching. He might even be my replacement if the worst happens.

He was standing by the door, nonchalantly leaning with his back against the wall, humming that stupid European anthem. Dim emergency lights illuminated the corridor, silhouetting the Fifth Child menacingly.

“I’ve been waiting for you. The guard gave me directions down,”

“Well, I’m in charge,” Asuka stamped her authority on him. “So do what I say Fifth and we’ll get along just fine,”

“Of course, Miss Sorhyu,” he bowed slightly, a malign glint in his eyes. “Lead on, Macduff,” he mis-quoted a Scottish Play. Unless he meant to stab her in the back…

“We have to open the door first,” she said, ignoring it. “Shinji, Nagisa… this is a job for men,”

“You only ever need me when there’s effort involved,” the Third Child grumbled, sourly.

The two boys cranked the door open, while the three girls watched on. Oil-starved hinges stiffened and squeaked. Gear trains that probably hadn’t been moved since they were installed ground around. Better them than me.

I watched Shinji cranking hard, his breathing heavy and stressed….almost passionate as he cranked with Kawaoru. I watched his muscles work, his arms bulging with the strain as they contracted pull-ing the handle in towards him, before pushing forward and out. In… out…. In… Out.

I felt…. ….myself blush hot. Riding a teenage rush, my body tensed. Feeling a flash of panic rising inside me, I spun around. Just because my body has a thing for Shinji, doesn’t mean I do. Just be-cause my body has a thing for Shinji, doesn’t mean I do. The mantra for manly sanity. The guard at the gate was watching on, chuckling behind his hand.

Glad to see he was enjoying my shame…the git.

“Door’s open Fourth child, let’s go,” Asuka tugged on my uniform.

“R…right,” I stammered to the floor, still fizzing inside with a hormonal buzz. No wonder she asked the two boys to do it, she wanted to ogle them! What…of course she did… she’s a teenage girl, he’s a teenage boy….. and I’m a teenage girl.

How disgusting!

Sick to my stomach at the idea of being someone’s...girlfriend...I trailed behind on purpose, wallowing in my own shame. My body was going all Quisling on me and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Since when was it 'my body'... and not Noriko's?

Gah!.. this isn't the time for this shite.

Trying to put it behind me I caught up... psychosexual screwups were not best dealt with in a dimly lit corridor. A decade old layer of concrete dust sucked the moisture out of the air and made it tick-lish to breath and itched at the eyes.

“Everybody stay close.” ordered Asuka, he voice calm and commanding, “If you get separated you'll get hopelessly lost down here,”

“Should've taken the road,” I muttered to myself. Nice, wide... no way of getting lost. Straight run to the parking garages. Straight run from there to the locker rooms.

Instead, we met a door held shut by a thin layer of spilled concrete.

“We should turn back,” suggested Shinji.

“The ventilation duct will take us around,” Rei pointed to an open vent on the ground, beside an upturned cardboard box that seemed strangely clean when compared to the tools beside it.

That explained the power failure….

“Pickaxe,” I pointed behind the box.

“It will take too long,”

“Then we'll take the vent,” Asuka was almost disgusted with herself for agreeing with Rei.

“We should turn back,” Shinji repeated, firmly. The duct was dark, layered with dust, nobody with any common sense would willingly climb in there...

“I'm going first,” Asuka killed his suggestion.

I sure as hell didn't want to go in there.

“We go around. Road route near!”

“It's just a little further,” Asuka's voice answered back, chased by a hacking cough and a puffball of grey dust.

Oh, it's just not worth it.

Shinji chased Asuka in... reluctantly. Rei followed him, and no way in hell would I turn my back on Kawaoru, so that meant I went last. I got to breath in all the dust that had been stirred up by every-one ahead.

It was getting in my hair, scratching at my scalp, mingling with my sweat and slowly turning to con-crete.

“This sucks,” I spat a gobbet of concrete spit on the steel floor.

With the five of us crawling forward on elbows, it sounded like we were crawling through a badly tuned steel drum concert being held inside an oven. It was hot, cramped, sweaty and pitch bloody black. The only sense that Kawaoru had stopped ahead of me was when I crawled into his backside.

“Move it!”

“Sorhyu has stopped,”

My ears were still ringing. I could hear her drumming hard on something uphead, followed by Shinji's soft admonishment, then a string of frustrated Germanic swearing.

We crawled on, passing a distinctly dented grille.

Another stop... some more metal bashing. Some more swearing. Another dented grille that wouldn't bloody open. We couldn't even turn around and crawl backwards,

“Nice plan, First,” Sorhyu shot back.

It's not Rei's fault... it's our intrepid leader's. A leader is responsible for the conduct of troops under her command, for their successes and their smegups, regardless of whose idea it had been in the first place.

At least Rei had proved herself to be human and fallible.

Third time lucky?

Nope

We kept crawling. We kept coughing and sneezing. Asukas scream when she put her hand down on what seemed to be long-dead rat was deafening. In the gloom, I couldn’t see much more than its teeth highlighted by a small streamer of light.

Fourth grille.

No joy. We remained trapped in darkness. Oppressive, closing darkness. Pure black, penetrated only by a few brief glimmers of dim light filtering through a dented grate.

How the hell did Solid Snake see where he was going in these, I can’t even seen the white tennis shoes of the person in front?

Not until one kicks me in the face.

Unseen chips of stone, concrete and rodent bones bit at my arms. Long socks saved my kneecaps for a while, but I longed for a good pair of trousers. I was sure my elbows were bleeding raw. I was sure I’d have to endure a sickening course of harsh antibiotics when this was done…. Can’t have the special Children getting sick. Worst of all, I was sure I’d just ruined my favourite socks.

Which actually belonged to Asuka… but there weren’t very many of them and long socks were a hell of a lot better than the alternative.

Fifth Grille.

Nothing.

Asuka hacked and banged at it for five minutes, crashing and punching furiously until…. It buckled a little.

Were we ever going to get out? In time for the Angel? I felt the first wiry tendrils of panic wring through my body. Trapped… in this tiny, dark shaft. A black hole crushing in on my shoulders, pressing down on my back. The draft in the duct deepened to the deafening roar of a turbine engine, mingling with Sorhyu’s hammering into an oppressive cacophony banging on the inside of my skull.

Get me out of here…

My body bristled… sweating…. Panting… half on the verge of panicking. I had to get out of here.. I hate to get out.. Someone for the love of got get me the fuck out of here I tried to stand up stupidly, smacking my head off the steel roof with a clatter, before dropping face first into the dust.

“Jeez, calm down back there, “ Asuka called back to me.

“Hurry the fuck up!” I screamed back to her.

Before I go completely batshit.

“I’m trying. But it wasn’t my idea to come in here,”

“It was you’re idea to go this way in the bloody first place,” I shot back. And what a brilliant idea it was too. If we’d taken the road route we’d be there by now. Nice way to fuck up Asuka. Thank you very fucking much for bringing me down here… Thank you so much. Seriously…

“You were the one who followed my orders. A soldier should never blindly follow orders,” she lec-tured, “Some of the greatest tragedies in history have been explained away with ‘I was only following orders’”

Oh…that was low.

“Can we stop this?” interrupted Shinji… gently, “It’s getting us nowhere,”

“Have you tried pulling instead of pushing?” suggested Rei.

“What? Of course I have, I’m not stu…” the unmistakeable tin rattle sound of sheet metal coming loose. “…pid,”… she finished solely for the sake of completeness.

We scrambled out into fresh air. I pushed Nagisa out, bowling him over in the desperate rush to just get the hell out of there.

Fresh Air!... relatively. Stagnant, hot and arid-dry, but still better than chasing an Angel’s arse through a ventilation shaft.

“This normally doesn’t take this long,” Shinji said, dusting himself off. His elbows were raw and bloody, like mine. Anyone who thinks climbing through an air-vent is an easy thing to do is a moron.

“Shut up!” Asuka snapped him down.

She knew she was wrong.

We walked on down corridors I couldn’t recognise. It was funny to watch us walk. Asuka let Rei lead, because that allowed her to get between Rei and Shinji. He was in the middle ahead of me, with Nagisa not quite behind me… somewhere I could keep an eye on him. It became a sort of strange ballet, all of us orbiting slowly around Shinji.

Asuka was muttering about the Commander’s favourite First in Shinji’s ear. Rei was trying her best to ignore her. I was keeping between Nagisa and Shinji and not really paying attention to it.

We waltzed along the darkened corridors, lit only by a few battery powered emergency lights, some of which were already starting to flicker.

The Angel above was on its way. Closer and closer… It might be the easiest Angel, but it can still really fuck me up if I give it a chance. All I could think about was that bloody fanfic… It was stupid and it was silly, but for the life of me I just couldn’t get over it. It lingered there as an example of what might just be possible if it all went sour… a little petrol on the bonfire of my nightmares.

What did Nagisa say about the world cycling around? Wasn’t that one of the fan theories about Rebuild…. That it took place after the ending of the original series? Might this be Rebuild, with me as the brand new character promised?

I lingered on that thought for a while for the sole sake of keeping my thoughts going anywhere else.

Each fanfic a cycle? One where Shinji overcame his anxieties and recognised his true love for Rei. One where Shinji overcame his anxieties and recognised his true love for Asuka. One where Rei Ikari was born instead of Shinji. One where a man from our universe woke up in the Rei tank and… was that ever finished?

I’d never know how it ended now.

I really must be clutching at straws if I’m recalling fanfics I’ve read to prove my identity. But what better proof? Along with the series itself, they were one of the few things I could guarantee hadn’t come from this world. How could I have read a story about a past that was different…but the same… or a future that hadn’t happened yet?

A possible future.

One that was changing already because I was here.

After another few minutes, we came to a fork in the path. Asuka halted us with a raised hand

“We go left,” Rei carried on.

“Hey wait!” Sorhyu yelled after her. The blue-haired girl stopped, “I’m the leader here and I say we go right,”

“I believe the guard said to turn left,” Kawaoru chipped in his own two cents. “And the passage continues to descend. The right passage heads up to the surface,”

“I don’t know,” Shinji was as indecisive as usual. Side with Asuka, or side with Rei? Which wouldn’t take it as a personal insult to disagree with her?

“Left,” I said… not having any great desire to meet Matariel face to face.

Asuka looked to us, weighing up her options. Three against One. She stopped and composed herself perfectly.

“Well, a good leader listens to the concerns her subordinates.” She said, absolutely straight faced. “We will go left,”

To bad she didn’t listen earlier when it would’ve made a difference…. and saved us from a long and dirty crawl. I might still have had skin on my elbows, and I wouldn’t be subjected to a long an ardu-ous course of antibiotics and antivirals on the off chance I might just’ve caught something down in there.

We kept going, plunging down into the dusky gloom. That weird little dance around Shinji continued. I might’ve been the only person aware of what was actually going on, and how silly it looked, but I wasn’t going to stop and let Nagisa get close to Shinji.

This really is stupid…

So why did I still keep it up?

After another ten minutes or so… we came to a door, illuminated by an orange low-light.

Asuka stopped in front of it, turning to face us. “Here we are!” she announced as if it was all a result of her glorious efforts. She brought her foot over in one giant arc, and kicked it hard open.

A loudspeaker-amplified voice blasted through the open door carried by a cold rush of air, pushing her back almost to the point of her falling over.

…”ANGEL. AN ANGEL IS ATTACKING!” I heard, followed by a bright flash of headlights, the roar of a diesel engine being strangled to within an inch of it’s life. A white painted blur crashed through the open door, drawing a yelp of terror from Asuka who landed hard on her butt. A squeal of tyres being torn against tarmac echoed off the concrete walls while Asuka sat… stunned.

“My foot,” she whispered.

“What happened?” Shinji was by her side in seconds.

“It… touched… my foot,”

The black sheen of her shoe was marred by a streak of white paint, running along the toe. Outside, there was a shout of voices, and the clunk of a car’s doors.

Rei stepped outside, while Nagisa watched.

“Need a hand?” I crouched down, offering an arm to Asuka.

“No,” she pushed me off, pushing herself shakily to her feet. Her skin had blanched the same pale shade as Rei’s..

“There is a van out here,” Rei stated, “Damaged. Lieutenant Hyuga is aboard,”

I put all the pieces together. Another few inches, and she’dve lost her leg to that van. “… Holy shit that was fucking close,”

We save the world. We pilot giant robots against extraterrestrial monsters. We’re the 5 most important children in the world and Asuka nearly got killed by a speeding van... Funny when you think about it. We were just as vulnerable to cruel chance as anyone else, despite us being well… important.

“Well!” Asuka composed herself as best she could… despite being obviously shaken by the near miss, “Now that we know that an Angel is attacking, we have to hurry and launch our Evangelions. Since there is a van outside, I think we should take it.”

A satisfying cold breeze rumbled through the road tunnel… fresh, cooling air mingled with the smell of exhaust, spilled diesel oil and burning rubber. At the end of two black skid marks on the tarmac was a white Toyota van, with a buckled door smashed through its bonnet, steam rising and boiling around it.

Its starter motor chattered, the engine coughed, sputtered then died for the last time.

“Hey!” Hyuga waved to us, the dark haired technician still in his shorts and t-shirt. “There’s an Angel coming, it’s in the city already. I have visual confirmation. Get to the command centre. Warn them it’s coming,”

He was already out of breath

“Noriko, you’re the best runner, you go ahead,” ordered Asuka, “First, go with her. We’ll be behind you.”

“Right,” I nodded. That made sense.

And I liked running. My muscles pumping with my heart. The breeze tugging at my body, running its fingers through my hair. I’dve preferred a pair of shorts to a skirt, but it was still fun. I was such a good runner even Asuka admitted I was the best at this. Or she just didn’t like getting all sweaty….

Praise from Asuka was high praise, I figured… and something I was compelled to justify. Asuka was never wrong, was she? Was it me, or was each Pilot gifted somehow?

Running was my gift.

A voice from behind. “I cannot keep up,”

Rei was flushed red and panting, while I still felt reasonably fresh. I had to check myself a little to let her keep up.

It took us five minutes hard running to get to the Command Centre, and me another few moments to get over the sheer size of it. It was big enough inside to safely hold pay-per view Evangelion wrestling matches. The main viewscreen… darkened but still glowing a dim green due to some residual effect, was over 5 stories high on its own, with secondary screens running along each wall, each taller than a double-decker bus, and longer than an average commuter train.

The main tower itself was one solid lump of concrete rising like a battleships conning tower ten sto-ries up from the pit containing now powerless holographic projectors for the main screen. Myself and Rei were on the lowest deck of the tower, surrounded by technicians working furiously at dimmed consoles to try keep the MAGI system above cool.

Above us, I could hear Akagi barking out orders, demanding checks on the coolant pumps and main breaker CT’s. Above each station was a single flickering candle, giving the whole place an air of some strange Lovecraftian ritual.

Rei looked dead on her feet after the run. While I was breathing hard, I still had a little in reserve, but was too busy marvelling at the Command centre to actually say anything. Rei still spoke first.

“An Angel has been spotted near the city,” she said between deep, gasping breaths, “Lieutenant Hyuga has confirmed it.”

“Is this true?” a voice rang out from above as sombre and cold as a tomb. The Commander… out of sight… had spoken.

“Yes,” I confirmed, finally waking up to the fact that I wasn’t there to admire the scenery. “Others behind. We ran ahead to warn,”

“Good work, Rei,” he responded… ignoring me. Hey!

Rei…smiled, propping herself up against the concrete wall. It felt like an exclusive privilege to see her subtle smile… just the slightest upturn of her lips, no more than needed. Nobody else seemed to notice, but it gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside for a few moments before she turned it off.

“Prepare the Evangelion for immediate launch.” Ordered the commander, his voice still the same flat, sepulchral tone.

“Can we launch like this?” another hidden voice questioned… warmer.

“Of course professor,” I heard, “We have the emergency diesels.”

I watched a figure start to clamber down a ladder several stories above me…. High enough to make him seem a lot smaller than he actually was. It was the closest I’d come to the Commander since joining NERV. The figure disappeared behind a parapet, and I didn’t see him again.

I sat and watched the crew work while a young brunette I might’ve found cute a few weeks ago fetched some water for the pair of us. It was hot, noisy, and the air was beginning to stagnate and grow heavy. Sweat clung to our bodies, soaking our clothes.

Everyone was shouting at everyone else, the little headset radios had failed when the power had, leaving everyone with only their own voices to carry across several stories, and everyone else trying to do the same thing.

I only started shaking when someone passed on the order to us to actually get ready to go. This was… it. Not training or a simulation, but the real deal. I beat the simulations… but the amount of time I’d also lost in them. My mouth was bone dry, and my insides were fighting each other to get out…

Was I scared?… Too fucking right I was. But I couldn’t exactly turn around and say to everyone that while all the training had been fun, I really didn’t want to actually put myself in harms way thank you very much. If I wanted to Pilot EVA, I had to fight Angels.

And…cheesy as it might be… there were literally thousands of millions of people behind me. The entire world dies if I screw it up. The entire world was hoping I won. They’d all done their little bits, from building the EVA itself, to the rifles we used, right down to the little plastic neural clips we had to wear. The food we ate, all the military experts they called in to do our training…. All those people who built our stuff and shipped it and got the four of us to the point where we could even contemplate taking on the Angel face to face.

Motoko wished me luck.

They’d done the best they could for me. What else could I do but my best for them?

Dear God… I just paraphrased that American General from last week. That was the most insidious thing about rousing speeches… sometimes they worked.

And left me feeling a little dirty inside as I scrambled into my plugsuit.

The emergency lights in the locker room had failed, but a high-powered torch pointed at the ceiling did a decent enough job. Stark shadows made Rei in her white plugsuit look positively demonic, her hair bleached almost white by the light, her eyes glinting red.

Asuka grunted as she pulled the normally powered door open on it’s runners, stepping through before kicking it shut again.

“Stupid power won’t come back. How do they expect us to save the world if they can’t even keep the lights on. They can’t even launch us to the surface, we’ll have to use our auxilliary battery packs and climb there,”

One side of her face was lit by the torch, the other seemed to be in pitch darkness. The Red Devil indeed. I didn’t dare ask what had taken her so long to get here.

“It be easy mission,” I said… focusing on the TV showing version to reassure myself.

“Of course. This Angel doesn’t even have a ranged attack… or it would’ve used it by now to blast into the Geofront,”

So… just neutralise the AT-Field, fill it full of lead and go home. Asuka was already naked, fumbling a little with her plugsuit in the darkness.

“Lucky us,”

Luck would’ve been to have it wait until we got the power back… but that would’ve been too easy.

“Y’know what that idiot asked me on the way here?”… no, but I was going to find out anyway, “He asked me why we had to fight the Angels. “ she huffed, “They’re attacking us,”

How did that conversation go again on TV?

“I think… he mean, why are Angels attacking?”

“What does that matter?” she shrugged, “What matters is that they are, and we have to stop them. It’s only natural for us to clear sparks from our hair.”

Actually… why are they still attacking? The easiest way to break the cycle would be to just not attack humanity and not set the whole ball rolling.

“This one will be an easy Angel,” I repeated to myself, trying to build my own confidence.

“Someone’s feeling confident,” teased Asuka.

No… I wasn’t. Rei stood behind me, her usual calm self, no different from any of the other times . Asuka was stoking herself up, wearing a grin like she wanted to tear the Angel apart with her bear hands. How did she do that?

She’s not afraid, because she doesn’t think about how she can die. That’s what she told me after the last Angel.

Again, how did she do that when all I could focus on where the myriad ways EVA fans had come up with for this battle to go wrong?

Asuka and Rei had courage. Shinji too... little mister meek could jump into a volcano without a sec-ond thought. What did I have but an overactive imagination to show me every which way we could come to a gruesome end?

“It’s an easy Angel,” I repeated for the third time.

There was a knock on the door.

“The EVA’s are ready. Report to the cages,” a mans voice entered the room.

I looked up at Asuka. Her gaze was cold and firm, her features set hard and fast. She closed her eyes, took one long breath in through her nose and held it for a few moments, before slowly releasing it through her lips.

“Let’s go… Asuka,” she whispered to herself.

Rei was already pulling the door open… the door didn’t seem to be liking it very much, grinding and squealing on its runners.

I wanted to be able to say something hot-blooded and courageous-sounding… if only to look as strong and confident as the other two… but realised that I’d never be able to pull it off right and the end result would probably backfire in my face and make it plainly obvious to the world how scared I was.

“Good luck,” I said.

Asuka gave me a thumbs-up.

Deep breaths. Time to go.




Also, the last entry in Noriko's diary:

Dear Diary. It’s my last entry from this country. Next time, I’ll be in Japan, hopefully in about 4 days time. Packed and ready, the diary is the last thing to go. Most of my things were picked up by DHL earlier today, the last of the rest was sold off. The apartment is so empty now… Now that I’m faced with actually leaving, I’m really going to miss this place. I may be Japanese, but this place has become my home. At least I have all my friends on StarFace, and the pictures from the ‘wake’. It’s a local tradition to have a funeral wake when someone’s leaving for parts foreign…

The Flight leaves in about 6 hours… I’m fucking scared. Don’t worry, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than to die in a plane crash, I’m told.… but people are still struck by lightning every year. I know it’s an irrational fear, but something about being stuck in a thin tube of metal on top of thousands of gallons of jet fuel, screaming through thin air at 800kph scares me. Watching The Siege last night didn’t help. Seriously, who thought a pre-Impact movie about planes being hijacked and flown into the old World Trade Centre would make me feel better?

Well, I guess that’s that. Farewell Ireland. Farewell friends. Catch you on the internet. Next entry, Hello Japan and Tokyo-3.

-Noriko


Yes... that reference to the WTC attacks *is* plot relevant.
-------m(^0^)m------ Wot, no sig?

Dartz
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Postby Dartz » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:08 pm

Is there anybody alive out there?

Still having hyphen problems thanks to a gammy word processor.


I will not stare at Shinji in his plugsuit. I will not stare at Shinji in his plugsuit. I will not stare at Shinji in his plugsuit. I will not stare at his firm backside and broadening shoulders. And I must certainly will not steal glances at his…

Oh for God’s sake.

I used to have one of my own once, it’s not that special….just a little bulge between the legs.

Ans I am not staring at Shinji, he just happens to be in my line of sight. I’m not attracted to him in any way… I’m just nervous about actually fighting in an Evangelion.  I’m not about to cry because I can feel my manhood slipping away with each lustful breath… it’s just the dust from the ductwork in my eyes…

At least I wasn’t the only one. I caught Asuka watching his butt.

Christ, I'm being stupid again.

Shinji peeled off first, through a door jammed open with a mop. Unit 01's paint fluoresced in the dark, highlighting it's menacing shadow. Asuka next, 02's four eyes glinting with reflected torchlight.

Then, my turn.

The black-armoured EVA 03 was a hulking shadow in the darkness. The entry plug was waiting, open and standing proud of the neck. I could hear my crew chief barking orders above the roar of a diesel generator. The engine coughed, lights flickering momentarily.

Kawaoru appeared beside me like a spectre in the dark his deep purple and black plugsuit highlighting just how thin and wiry he was. The Angel-boys grey hair seemed almost glowing as he smiled.

“I've been ordered to accompany you,” he said, “It should be...interesting,”

“Why? Why the fuck would anybody do that?”

I tried to hide my anger, but my voice rang out through the cage. Him.... inside the entry plug with me... alone.

“I have no EVA of my own. As Unit 04 will be similar to 03, Akagi felt it would be a valuable experi-ence for me to accompany you,”

I couldn't help but scowl bitterly, even though I tried my damnedest to be polite.

“Thought noise. Two minds, different languages. EVA Shutdown,”

“My A-10 clips have been retuned to prevent interference,” he reassured me, his voice as smooth and slick as an oiled pane of glass.

Is this being done on purpose to annoy me or something? There's no logical reason for him to be coming along, is there? It's got to be Akagi....she's trying to screw me up somehow.

And I'm getting paranoid. Like everything, it was no use fighting.

“Alright. Do not get in way,”

“I will stay behind you then,”

Was that an attempt at a joke?  His expression gave nothing away.

I clambered across the shoulder…as I usually did, hoping the Angel behind me would slip and fall. Thirty stories worth of gravity would do a nice number on him.  I stepped over some dragging ca-bles, roughly spliced into the insertion motors for the entry plug. Taut chains held the hatch open. The Pilot’s seat  beckoned.

I climbed aboard, nestling myself into place as usual. Nagisa climbed in behind me, standing on one of the runners that supported the actual cockpit itself, within the plug. On it was stencilled ‘No Step’.

I signallled to the crew chief on the gantry that we were both aboard and ready. He answered with a thumbs up, and gave the signal to drop the hatch. It slammed shut, ringing the metal walls, closing us in darkness.

“Have the interior lights failed?” Questioned Kawaoru.

I switched them on,

“No. Just manual,”

A bit like having the courtesy light in your car only came one when you push a button under the dashboard. Manual startup too. I was trained to do it.

Another question from Kawaoru “Who is Kilroy?”

“Huh?”

“Someone named Kilroy drew a caricature of himself on the disk drive, along with graffiti saying he was here.”

It was hard to be angry at such obvious innocence… it made me chuckle. He may have known the truth of life the universe and everything… he still didn’t know the basics of human culture.

I switched power to the plugs own batteries, and decided not to warn the passenger before inser-tion. I heard him behind me pawing at the smooth metals walls, scrambling to brace himself as the plug rotated and locked forward.  He fell under the cockpit with a clatter.

He was climbing back up when I opened the LCL valves. Circulation pumps spun up, whining as I set them to full power… to handle two people in the plug instead of one. Check LCL Ph…in case there had been some caustic left in the feed lines when they were last cleaned. Hand on the LCL-dump handle just incase…. Inhaling super-strength Drano would not be a nice way to die. Ph neutral, all clear. Deep breath, feel the warm fluid fill my lungs…  Kawaoru didn’t start coughing and wretching.

“First time in EVA?”

“Yes,” he answered me.

“I am familiar with breathing LCL,”

“Right…” I switched back to my own language, remembering my own question. “So tell me then, if you want to break the cycle, why are the Angels still attacking?”

“I am not the others,” he answered, without skipping a beat, “But we must fight humanity, it is not our choice….and some of them have come to hate you. A hatred that some of you deserve,”

Was that an attack on me? Damn him!

“I hate you for a reason,” I grunted,

“Why?” A simple question, in a very simple tone of voice.  “What did I do to deserve your hatred?”

I nearly thumped him one in the face. How the hell could he not understand? I gritted my teeth and bit back… starting a full blown fist fight in an entry plug would be bad, no matter how much I wanted to throttle him… no matter how many tears I could feel trickling down my cheek.

I am not going to cry over this. I am not going to scream, no matter how much I want to. I am going to calmly and rationally tell him.

“Nagisa...” I started, hearing the shaking in my voice. I tried to fix him with a Sohryu-style glare, but those awful red eyes of his still chilled, even as he was still fucking smiling at me.  “I want you to understand what you did to me.”

A pause… just enough for me to take a hold of myself.

“You took me from my life.” I said, coolly. “You destroyed everything I had. You didn't just rape my mind, you violated my very self. You destroyed my identity. You destroyed everything that made me who I am... or who I was.”

And it was so hard not to cry.

Grimly, I locked eyes with him. “I will never forgive you for that.”

A few moments while he thought about it.

“The dead have nothing. The living can have everything. ”

“I was not going to fucking die!” I screamed at him, my voice ringing off the metal walls.

Just for one satisfying instant, he seemed startled by that.

“You die in the accident,” he said, solemly, “You always die. This time I kept you alive,”

“What acc…” I stopped dead. He wasn’t talking about me me…. He was talking about Noriko. He was talking to me as if he saw me as Noriko, as if I had only ever been Noriko. He didn’t even care what he’d done to me… 

That son of a bitch!

A rush of hate an anger rushed out and punched the plug wall, cracking my knuckles and sending a nice shock of pain rippling up my right arm. 

“Fuck,”

I glanced back at him… still watching impassively… serenely…still not getting that what he did to me was wrong. Sure he gave Noriko life, but he took mine away to do it.

“Hey Fourth Child, are you having a problem in there?” Asuka’s voice rang over the speakers. “Why haven’t you started up yet?”

A nice reminder that the time for moping and screaming for my lost identity was after we killed the Angel.

“Program error,” I transmitted back, lying.

“Well hurry up!”

Right… focus on the job. I can wangst pointlessly over this later. I switched to voice control, the hardest part of which was knocking back my natural accent to something an American programmer would expect.

“Entry plug LCL full,”

A little red light on the consol in front of me told me so told me so. I flicked two switches.

“Begin activation sequence,”… the computer indicated it understood with a green light. “Confirm,”

“Open primary nerve connection,”… I could feel the familiar tingle inside my brain, the sensation of something other than my own body,.. “Confirm.”

“Starting data recorders,”… two more switches, two more green lights, “Confirmed,”

“Starting biomonitor,”… on more switch. An orange light, it wasn’t able to connect to the external computer. No problem. “Confirmed.”

One last check. Nothing seemed out of order.

“Synchronisation sequence start…” a dramatic pause while the main displays booted up. “Now!”

The thirty story void within the Evangelion swallowed me whole. I checked myself first… no head-aches, no pressures, no funny noises or itches… just the ghost sensations coming back to me through the nerve-links. I closed my eyes for a moment, getting a few flashes of light and shape from the EVA’s own eyes projected across my own eyelids.

Next… check my instruments.

Auxialliary battery’s at 95. Hydraulic locks released. Power consumption set to ‘Conserve’ mode. Guidance to internal. Navigation internal. Data-links disabled. The LCL pumps seemed to be drawing a few more amps than it should’ve been… but it was still tolerable… they just had to work a little harder to handle two people in the plug.

Another flash of anger, matched by a sympathetic shudder in the machinery beneath me.

Focus on the job… not on the bastard behind me. Oxygen usage was also nearly doubled by him being there. I had enough for about nine hours now, rather than over sixteen without him.

Finally to the world outside.

My crew chief was standing on the umbilical bridge in front of me, holding to red flags  down by his side. He raised them up high, held for a moment, then lowered them again. I nodded the EVA’s head gently, showing that I’d gotten the signal. He dropped both red flags, and raised a single green one, calling something out over his walkie-talkie.

“Unit 03 active,” I radioed Asuka,

The face of an angry redhead appeared beside me.

Sohryu; “About time,”

A few bellowed ordered from the Chief, and moments later I felt the lock bolts on my shoulders come loose, followed by the primary restraints. Moments later, the chief raised two green flags, motioning with them for me to start pushing on the restraints.

Moving a couple of thousand tonnes of steel and concrete was easy, moving it without bending it was tricky. Moving it without knocking the Chief off the catwalk was delicate in the extreme.

He had the sense to sit down before I started pushing.

The hardest was overcoming the static frictions in the system. One jolt would do it. Too much of a jolt, and the Chief went for a tumble. Gripping the throttles, I nudged them ever….so…slightly. The steel structure shuddered, lurching forward about a foot…

Catching himself, he started to guide me forward, beckoning me gently on.

Ikari; “Unit 01 Free,”

Shinji was followed by the Pilot of Unit 00.

Ayanami; “Unit 00 Free.”

Sohryu; “Unit 02 Free.”

Looks like I’m last. The chief raised both red flags, a signal to stop. The gantry stopped, he didn’t… Again, he had to save himself from a long fall. Why didn’t they install safety railings? Pushing back was easier… just step off the launching platform, and push the locks back.

“Unit 03 free,” I joined the others, gently urging the big machine forward. If anyone got underfoot it was their own fault… I had no hope of seeing them.

Ayanami; “The Angel is on the surface above shaft 221-Kilo. We can take recovery track 180.”

Ikari; “We’ll have to crawl,” he pointed out the flaw.

Sohryu; “It’ll look stupid.”

“It’s still the fastest way,” I said.

Ikari; “I don’t think the Angels care how we look,” the pilot of Unit-01 deadpanned.

Unit 03 was slightly taller than the other EVA’s…. I was reminded of that when I took chunks out of the tunnel roof. Unit 01 in front of me was trailing sparks from its knees... the purples armoured biomech squeezed into an tunnel designed to take one EVA on its back, on a railway carriage.

Unit 00 was behind, the only one of us with a rifle. I checked I still had my pistol. Ahead of Shinji, Unit 02 leading us forward.

Kawaoru moved forward beside me, displacing a wave of LCL.

“He wants to die quickly,” he said, whispering in my ear, “He will not change,”

“Die?”

Wants to die?

“He must die. He must fight. We all must.”

Boo…hoo…hoo.  I’m not going to feel sorry for it. The EVA shuddered, responding to my darkening mood. I focused on her, still watching patiently over me. I could feel Kawaoru through the nerve links…  barely. He disturbed the flow of nerve pulses like a rock in the centre of a stream…. An inert object that did nothing but get in the way.

I sense a disturbance in the force….

I smirked at that thought.

We came to the main shaft, Asuka flipping her Unit 02 out, punching her hands and feet through the concrete to support herself. Shinji followed, kicking up debris, then my turn. I glanced down into the gloom… radar rangefinders telling my it was a fall of nearly a kilometre.

Above, the other 2 EVA’s silhouetted against the sunlight of an open shaft. Behind, Unit 00 patiently waiting.

No sign of the Angel. Good. We might just make it to the surface before it started to drip acid. That’d make things very quick. Grabbing a gantry crane on the tunnels roof for support, I swung my legs forward, putting them through Shinji’s footholds.

I climbed up the shaft using the clip-locks on the EVA’s forearms, rather than gripping concrete. It seemed to give me a better purchase and kept my hands free if I had to carry a pistol. With the benefit of a few moments hindsight, it might’ve been a better idea to draw the pistol before climb-ing out into the shaft.

I started mumbling an old song I remembered while climbing, to help keep a rhythm.

“Shiawase wa, aruite konaii,”
I sang quietly to myself, slamming my left forarm into the wall.
“dakara aruite yuku 'n da ne,”
I pulled the EVA up.
“Ichinichi, ippo. Mikka de sanpo.”
Right forearm  slam!
“ Sanpo susunde, niho sagaru,”
And pull up.
“Jinsei wa, one-two-punch!...”
Left again, hard this time. A slab of concrete the size of a car came off, dropping on Unit 00.

“A good song,” purred the Angel behind me, “About facing adversity. Three steps forward, two steps back…but still moving forward,”

I huffed. A ruined song now. I didn’t even remember where I heard it… just that I knew the words, even though it was in Japanese. Another bit of Noriko bleed-through?....

I crushed the thought. That’s not something to worry about in the middle of a mission.

Something glittered as it fell past me. Probably just come concrete. Focus on the rhythm. Slam and pull. Slam and pull. Check batteries… already below forty percent and still plummeting. Navigation… nearly two thirds up the shaft.

Looks like we’re going to make it too the surface.

I should’ve known better than to tempt Murphy with that thought.

Soryhu; “I see the Angel, it’s right above us!”

Aw shit… Quickly, I glanced around, looking for a way out of the shaft.

“We have to get out,” I broadcast. “Sitting duck,”

Ikari; “There’s a passage a hundred meters above,”

Again, something slashed through the air beside me. More debris?

Sorhyu; “Keep going,” she ordered, “We’re almost there. If we stop we’ll be pinned,”

I tried to glance past the two EVA’s above, but all I could see was Unit 01’s armoured arse. Beyond that, a silhouette of Unit 02, and a splash of sunlight that was overwhelming 03’s lowlight filters.

Ayanami; “Unit 03, watch out.” Warned Rei, as urgently as her voice could manage.

I wondered what she was talking about for a half-second, before warnings started to sound. I felt a flash of panic, expecting some awful burning sensation any moment. Nothing. I scanned my instru-ments, looking for the problem. Another half second or so, and I found it.

The thrusters in the left shoulder pylon had failed. Fuel tank pressure sensor failure. Other sensors began to malfunction in short order, failures spreading like fire through the pylon. A horrible knot in my gut told me this wasn’t an accident.

Obviously.

I glanced at my shoulder, to see concrete where I should’ve seen steel. The top half of the pylon had gone completely, cut off by a bubbling orange liquid that was starting to nibble away at the emergency battery.

Worse… I could see what had once been the barrel of my pistol hanging loose, the rest of it having dissolved away.  The battery fell a few moments later, damaged locks finally giving way. Alarms warned of the drop in power while I tried to steady the EVA, cursing under my breath.

A quick thought inspired me to jettison the remains of the pylon, before the acid started eating away at anything painful. Explosive bolts blasted it free, sending it tumbling into the darkness below, trailing flame. Three seconds or so had passed since Rei’s warning.

I had enough time to think about warning Rei to watch out, before Asuka screamed. I glanced up just in time to see a falling Unit 02 smash into Unit 01… Shinji tried to hold her, with the walls of the tunnel couldn’t take the sudden shock load. The concrete exploded beneath his hands and feet, a combined fifteen thousand tonnes or more of metal and flesh dropping towards me.

Kawaoru grimaced, grabbing on tight.

“Aw crap,”

I grabbed on tight, but it was useless. The hit was hard… harder than I expected. Kawaoru fell, cracking his skull against the cockpit. Something smacked me hard in the face, blurring my vision, and jarring my brain. I reached up to grab…something… desperately trying to keep myself from falling.

I felt sick as I grabbed thin air.

“Stop us you idiot!” Asuka was screaming.

“Too heavy!” the boy grunted through gritted teeth

I crashed back first into Rei.

“Watchout!” I yelped, after the hit.

For a heartstopping few moments, I thought the whole lot of us where doing to drop all the way to the end of the shaft. A kilometre and a half’s fall in an Evangelion wouldn’t be lethal, but it’d cer-tainly wreck us.

And leave us in a wonderful position for the Angel to dribble all over us.

Sparks showered past, something tearing gouges out of the walls. It took a few heartbeats for me to see four distinct furrows being made. Fingers! Rei was trying to hold on. Feeling the gradual deceleration, I reached out to try and help, grasping at the walls.

Rubble spalled off.

With a bone crunching lurch, all 4 EVA’s stopped. The four of us hung on mid air, supported only by Rei.

Ayanami; “I cannot hold for long,” she advised us.

Feeling like I’d just been through a quick boxing match, I struggled to get a grip on the wall. Shinji rolling around on top of me didn’t help… he was busy try to untangle himself from Asuka.

“That was…unpleasant” Nagisa muttured behind me.

Briefly concerned until I remembered who I was concerned about, I turned around to check on him…. His cheek had been split open, bleeding nicely as he pulled himself back up. He pressed two fingers against his bloodied cheek, and seemed almost shocked at the fact that it hurt.

Wide eyed, he stared at the red liquid on his fingers.

“Ouch.” He stated, sounding almost curious.

His first time experiencing this thing called ‘pain’… I hope he enjoyed it.

Sorhyu; “We’ve got to get out of here. There’s a tunnel just above, hurry!"

--tbc



Unfinished. Noriko is mumbling the same song Mari sings at the start of Rebuild 2.0. It doesn't have any significance beyond the fact that it's a Japanese song, and she's getting the words right.

Also, I managed to compress the currently existing 10 parts down into 4 much longer parts. They read better as longer chapters, I think... and it removes a stupid 'cliffhanger'. Should I re-edit what's been posted on FFN to the new format, or just leave it?

Finally... who is Noriko's Seiyuu and Dub VA.... ideas?
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Dartz
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Postby Dartz » Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:44 am

And finishing the Angel off.

Sorhyu; “We’ve got to get out of here, there’s a tunnel just above. Hurry!”

Four giant machines clambered up into the tunnel, each of us dropping our dead batteries. We sat and watched a rain of acid pour down outside, sealing us in. I checked my internal batteries… about 3 minutes left. Set system to idle to save power. Adjust gyro’s to deal with the imbalance of losing a pylon, sit back against the wall and…

Ikari; “Well, now what?” he took the words right out of my mouth.

Sorhyu; "We'll destroy it, of course!" Asuka replied smugly.

Ayanami; “I dropped the rifle,” the girl stated.

“My pistol’s gone too,” I reported. Bugger… that could’ve been handy.

So…. Just wait for Asuka to come up with her idea, and for everything to work out. Matariel seemed happy to stay where he was and keep doing what he’d done on TV.

Sorhyu; “Alright, here’s the plan,” she started. “Offense will take the rifle and shoot the Angel. De-fence will shield offense from the acid, and neutralise the AT-field. Support will be beneath offense to catch offense if they fall. Backup will drop down and retrieve the rifle, pass it to support, who’ll pass it to offense.

Ayanami; “I will take defense,”

Sorhyu; “Not a chance,” the second child snapped her down. “That’s my position,”

Shinji looked worried

Ikari; “But isn’t that dangerous Asuka?”

Sorhyu; ”That’s the point, dummkopf!” she said, “I owe you one for the last battle, so you get the easy job of being support,”

I felt a sudden, nervous thrill. Kawaoru watched on, patiently smiling. He knew the outcome as well as I did.

Sorhyu; “That leaves wondergirl to take backup, and the Fourth to take offense, clear?”

I get to kill it! My heart clenched… what if I screw up?

Ikari; “Got it!” Even though he didn’t look to pleased about it.

“Roger,” I responded.

Rei merely nodded her assent.

Unit 02 was first out into the shaft, vaulting out to face the Angel head on. My turn next. My heart was pounding as I placed Unit 03 into position beneath. Mumbling Shephard’s prayer, I took time to make sure to get a good hooking grip on the walls with my locks.

Rei was next, jumping into the darkness, followed finally by Shinji, he took position beneath me, bracing himself hard.

“Impressive,” said Kawaoru.

I could see the Angel now… barely… a black shadow at the top of the shaft, about five hundred meters above. It vomited orange liquid, which splashed and hissed across Unit 02’s chest.

Hurry up Rei. I glanced at Shinji, who winced as Asuka began to scream. Kawaoru was smiling. Was that bastard enjoying Asuka’s pain? Something spattered on my arm… I had just enough time to wonder what it was, before it started to tingle.

Then chafe.

Then burn like someone was holding a blowtorch to my bicep. I gasped in pain, barely having the presences of mind not to clench my arm back. I could see the acid bubbling and munching its way through plastic and flesh… I could feel in burning.

Clenching my hand into a fist.. I tried to grit my teeth and bare it. Concentrate on the mission, con-centrate on sync… it’s not my arm.

Asuka above must’ve been in a furnance, liquid fire cascading off her armour. A few more spots splashed across me like cigarette burns.

A minute forty-two left in the battery.. . more than enough. Unit 03 seemed to be holding... I could feel her, helping me, taking her fair share of the pain. I could feel…her warmth. She was right there.

Ayanami; “I have the rifle”

She threw it, and Shinji caught it in one hand.

Ikari; “Nagato! Catch,” he called up to me.

I reached down, heart thumping inside my chest. Don’t fuck up… don’t fuck up. He tossed the rifle up. I held my breath, reaching out. I closed my hand and…

For a moment, only air.

No!

I felt my hand close around the pistol grip… tightly. Hanging only from my left cliplock, I hooshed the rifle up into a position to shoot. No time to use the targeters, I had to do it manually.

“Asuka!” I warned.

Unit 02 turned in mid air, pressing itself against the wall to give me a clear shot. For one brief mo-ment, I could see the Angel… it’s bowl shaped carapace, it’s impossibly spindly legs… it’s staring maleveolant saffron-tinted eyes weeping corrosive tears

I stared right into one of them, eye to eye thanks to a miracle of camera technology, and lined the barrel of the rifle up with it. Like shooting the pistol in the range on Monday… line up the front sight with a point on the target.

Finger on the trigger.

A heartbeat.

I squeezed down on the button. The rifle kicked and bucked as it fired in a way it wasn’t designed to. I held the trigger down until the gun emptied itself… two seconds of sustained fire.
The Angel spasmed… rocked on its legs, then collapsed down onto itself. It was dead.

“Farewell, Matariel,” Nagisa whispered beside me.

I whooped like an Indian Chief. Unit 02 finally fell… still holding on one-handed, there was no way I could’ve caught it. The hit was jarring, but I was too giddy to care. The pair of us crashed down into Shinji, who caught us both effortlessly.

“I killed it!” I giggled to myself. “I killed an Angel,”

I really killed an Angel.

Motoko was going to go ape when I told her tomorrow morning.

Everything afterwards, was just cleaning up.

I...I

No electricity mean no water pressure, meant no working showers in the locker rooms. Instead, Misato drove us up to an old viewing spot that had been popular back when Tokyo-3 had been a golf course.

The evening grass was cool… the evening breeze even cooler. Sure we smelled like an old slaughterhouse… but it was a good smell. A victorious smell. A smell that got us free cokes from a nearby shopkeeper, just so it wouldn’t linger in her store.

Who knows what she made of us, and what we were wearing.

Above, the entire milky-way was laid out, a river of stars running across the sky. The moon was full, but low in the sky, casting long shadows. It was a beautiful night.

I took the time to trace through the stars, looking for a familiar constellation. I found The Plough, laying low on the horizon. Remembering an old cub-scout trick, I traced a path along the handle, out to the brightest star just behind.

Polaris. The North Star.

The former North Star. It was noticeably out of position, thanks to Second Impact. A few crickets chirruped, while down in the city I could see the black remains of the Angel, swallowing the moonlight rather than reflecting like the concrete around.

I killed it.

The thought still made me feel giddy, even though it had been nearly six hours.
“The stars are beautiful,” Shinji broke the quiet.” So brightly packed, like a crowd of people all to-gether in the sky with a candle.”

“They seem close,” Kawaoru spoke, “Yet the distance between them is vast and empty. “

“People or stars?” I ruined a really nice metaphor by asking the obvious question.

“They are connected by space.” Rei stated, after a quick moments thought. “Not separated by it”

Wait… I didn’t know she watched Planetes.

Asuka leaned back onto the grass, crossing her legs. “My, it seems like we’ve a pair of philosophers,”

“I wonder if that’s what makes humans special,” said Shinji. “Maybe that’s why the Angels are at-tacking us,”

“Probably,” I shrugged.

“What are you stupid?” Sorhyu snorted, “Who cares what they think?”

“Mind different from human. Alien thought. Alien…motivation,” I found the right word after a mo-ment,

Below us, the lights in the city flickered, before flooding the sky with a yellow haze.

“There, much better,” Asuka said, “Now it feels like people actually live there,” she rolled over to face the boy beside her. “Hey Shinji!”

“Yeah?”

“Did you ever ask your father about that thing…?”

Shinji nodded.

“And,” she pushed for an answer.

“He said he didn’t have enough time, he had so much work,” the boy answered, smiling a little to himself. He might’ve been told ‘No’, but he was still glad he asked. At least he got a reason.

I yawned and lay back in the grass. This was nice. Basking in the warm glow of victory and friendship.

I…I

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