-*- "Shinji..." He blinked, then looked around. Absolute black filled his vision, obsidian night all around him. "Shinji..." Again, the voice, whispering his name ever so lightly. "H-hello?" he called out. "Shinji..." Slowly, he felt the air around him shift. No, that wasn't right... it wasn't air... It was LCL. Shocked and surprised, he opened his mouth to scream, only to be choked by an onslaught of warm, rancid LCL pouring mercilessly into his throat. "Shinji," the voice whispered again. Within the darkness and warmth of the LCL, something cold encircled his body. Something unearthly, with inhuman limbs and spastic quivering. As the thing's embrace tightened around Shinji, he screamed one more time, and a burst of bubbles erupted from his mouth and silently floated through the void. And cold, soft lips pressed gently on his forehead. -*- "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!" He bolted upright, covered in sweat, breathing deeply and rapidly. His hands, trembling, quickly checked over his face, searching for traces of LCL. Outside, he could hear Misato and Asuka emerging from their rooms. Misato knocked gently, while Asuka was letting a chain of angry German words flow from her mouth. "Shinji, you okay?" asked Misato, peeking inside. Shinji nodded weakly. "Just... just a bad dream," he said. "Sorry." "Y'wanna talk about it?" asked Misato. "No, that's okay. I'll get over it." "If you say so." He waited till he heard their doors close, then stood up and opened his window. A gentle, chilling breeze caressed his face, and a single strand of spider web drifted by. "What the..." And far away, in the shadows of the night, a pair of red eyes looked up with a sense of longing and desire, then disappeared into the darkness.
-*- John Biles & Rod M. Present A Neon Genesis Evangelion Elseworlds Children of an Elder God Part 7 Briefe aus Tokyo-3 "Letters from Tokyo-3" -*- Motomu Kamiya was about to have the worst month of his life. Motomu was not a bad man. He was a generally average person. Co-workers would say, if asked, that he was a fairly pleasant person, very friendly, and helpfull as well. He was just a clerk, but a NERV clerk, so the pay was somewhat decent. Unfortunately, he had a small itch that none of his co-workers knew about. He liked to gamble. And as luck did with many a gambler, it abandoned him at the entirely wrong moment. Facing a large debt from very insistent people, he became desperate for cash. Fortunately, or so he thought, someone had come forward to him, on that same day, making an offer he literaly could not afford to pass up. They had offered him a dazzling amount of money to do certain things for them. It was mostly taking pictures, copying files, that sort of thing. He got caught. Unfortunately, Motomu forgot the fines and penalties for crossing NERV in such a manner. Being fired was the tip of the iceberg. He was also fined a monetary amount large enough to boot him out of the green, far beyond the black, and fumbling down in the red. And then there was the jailtime. Being the man that he was, Motomu ran for it. Homeless, broke, and on the run, it was the start of a bad month. -*- May 19, 2015 Dear Doktor Himmelfarb, Guten Morgen! My new life in Tokyo-3 is going well, although it's all very strange to me, compared to NERV-Germany. You would not BELIEVE the price of meat! I'm starting to think there must only be twelve cows in this country, and they only butcher one a month to sell or something. Not enough fruit, either, although there are lots of good vegetables, and I can get all the stuff I need to make decent food, which is crucial since Fraulein Katsuragi doesn't believe in cooking, and Shinji has no money to buy anything worth eating. We do, at least, have plenty of beer, but unfortunately, it's all crap. Pardon my language, but I wouldn't make a dog drink the stuff Fraulein Katsuragi buys. I think today, I'll throw it all out and buy some decent beer...if I can find any. Everyone with any money drinks sake, but I've already had enough rice to last me until I get too old to chew. So, basically, I've had to add 'Staff Nutritionist' and 'Head Cook' to my duties, along with piloting EVA and going to school. Speaking of piloting EVA, we kicked Salgiel's ass up in Canada, but it was one hell of a fight. I broke my...I mean, my EVA's leg got broken, but at least I didn't get an N2 mine stuck in my chest like Shinji did. You'd think he was the kind of guy who would shit in his pants when something like that happened, but he held together long enough for me to save his ass. Then he had to return the favor later when we had to run, and I couldn't keep up because my leg was broken. I can say I've seen more N2 bombs go off than I EVER want to see again. Salgiel was throwing them around like they were going out of style, not that they did much. We finally caught him and... It's hard to talk about. No one ever told me an EVA could go berserk, although from the way Fraulein Katsuragi was carrying on, I don't think they knew, either. I...My EVA drank Salgiel's blood, and then ate his legs, and the LCL started boiling and I panicked and started shouting in German and my EVA didn't listen and...hmm, maybe that was the problem. I had the interface set to Japanese. I hope that was it. I can't figure out why my EVA would EAT the Angel, anyway. If they needed food, they would have starved to death by now...and how could they run off of batteries if they need to eat? Anyway, I'm gonna be pissed if this happens again; at least that bastard Commander Ikari didn't blame me for it this time, but I think he's looking for an excuse. Maybe he hates Germans or something. He certainly doesn't treat Rei or Shinji like he treats me. He acts like they're his...okay, Shinji IS his son. Still, it pisses me off! Verdammnt Scheisskopf! I'm sorry...I just...The man makes me want to smash something every time I deal with him. I had to put half my stuff in a storage facility; everyone in Japan seems to like living in closet-sized apartments. I did get my own room, at least, although I can't lock it. Not that there's any danger of Shinji trying to break in. But the paper thin walls don't do much good when Shinji has a nightmare and wakes up screaming as if an Angel had snuck into his bedroom. This makes twice now. If he does that again, I'll kill him. I guess I sound pretty whiny today. I just needed to get all this off my chest. It's not all bad. Fraulein Katsuragi is a pretty nice person, although she acts like some kind of drunken college student most of the time, and I get to see Kaji all the time! They're calling me for some tests, so I'll just say goodbye and continue this tomorrow. We have to figure out why our EVAs freaked out. Sincerely, Asuka Langely -*- The Turing Test had failed, but Gendo had expected that. He wasn't worried about the EVAs starting to talk. The real question was whether they would act under their own initiative again. There was no good way to be sure, unless they could be provoked into acting. The way in which they had been made had always raised the possibility of them achieving sentience. However, the precautions they had taken with them should prevent that. It was possible the feeding frenzy had simply been a reflex action, but that was bad enough...there was no way to be sure what strange reflexes the things might possess. He and Ritsuko stood in the observation bridge, staring at the large chamber in which the three EVAs sat. "There has to be some way to test it," he said. "Perhaps we could have one of the pilots fake an attack with their EVA on one that lacks a pilot and see if it defends itself," she suggested. "If it has developed a will of its own, it should do something." "We might lose it...I want to find a way that won't risk damaging them too much." "I don't know another way to MAKE them take action. And we don't have any Angels handy to let them eat." "Check on whether or not the pilots have changed their tastes in food." Ritsuko frowned at him. "You think..." "Sychronization is dangerous. That's why we've lost so many pilots. You have to become one with EVA, but that's not safe, as we both know. We need the EVAs to adapt, not the pilots. Not like that." "I'll run some more tests on them and ask about their diet, then," she said. "Rei's been showing some irregularities, although it is probably puberty, as Maya thinks." "What kind?" "I'll get the charts and show them to you." She departed, leaving him to stare at the three EVAs. If something went wrong with Rei before DAGON was complete...it would be a disaster. The most recent DAGON tests had been fairly successful, but so had several of the past ones, and they had ended either in disaster or a useless side alley. The Day of Return was coming. He could feel time slipping away, could feel the end approaching. With every day, there was less margin for error, less room for mistakes. Less room for any deviation. His pager went off. His superiors were calling him. Another random element he feared might bring all to ruin in the end, but an element he could not simply eliminate. Too many things in his life were becoming like that. -*- May 20, 2015 Dear Doktor Himmelfarb, Shinji had another nightmare. So did I, but unlike him, I didn't wake up screaming so that NO ONE would get a good night's sleep. I think I'm going to have to try and teach him how to control his dreams like you taught me, even though I don't have a feedback machine or anything. Otherwise, I may never sleep again. Although, really, I'm not tired. I just can't believe that the pilot of Unit01 is REALLY such a pansy. He whines, he screams in the middle of the night, he lets people push him around, but then when he's in his EVA, he suddenly comes to life and acts more like a normal human. He's got two friends. One of them is kinda geeky, named Kensuke, while the other is a complete monkey named Touji who thinks he's God's gift to women or something. When he's not busy making stupid jokes about us. I keep hoping an Angel will wander by and squash him. No one will give a straight answer on why I'm having to go to school when I have a university degree! It's so utterly boring, except for Phys. Ed. It is kinda nice to be around kids who can keep up with me, but the teachers are boring and the only stuff I don't already know is Japanese Literature, but that's taught by a complete moron. I've also decided the Tale of Genji is the most boring book in the entire universe. But he loves it. Still, I find stuff to keep me busy. -*- "Hey, look who's back!" yelled Touji. Shinji entered the room sheepishly, smiling and scratching his head. "H-hey." Kensuke's eyes welled up into tears, and he clenched a fist as he stared up into the ceiling. "Dammit, I envy you, Ikari!" "Huh?" "You get top military clearance! You get to live with two hot chicks! YOU'VE GOT IT ALL!!! I FEEL SO ENVIOUS!!!" Shinji cringed, Touji sighed, and Kensuke shook his fist and wept in envy. The rest of the class took stock of the situation and discussed it amongst themselves, much to Shinji's embarrassment. "Hey, c'mon, it's not a big deal!" said Shinji quickly, trying to calm his friend down. "Yeah, living with a babe like Misato, must be a reeeeal pain," said Touji. "Though that Asuka... I dunno, there's something about her that I don't like." As if right on cue... "GUTEN MORGEN!" boomed Asuka, striding proudly into the doorway. Her grin was sharp and full of confidence, and every move she made expressed a certain arrogance that only Asuka could pull off. "The world saviour is in the room. You may give thanks at your conviencence." As Asuka strode to her chair, the classroom cheered her on. A line of girls gave high-fives as she walked by, ending with an exhuberant high-five/low-five with Hikari that was topped off with a hip-bump. "Aaaagh," groaned Shinji. "Third Child! Howyadoin?" hailed Asuka loudly. "Did we or did we not kick ass out there?" "Do you have to be so loud?" whimpered Shinji. "Loud? Me? OF COURSE! I'M THE GREATEST!" boomed Asuka. "And you oughta be loud too, third child! You're one of the few, the proud, the Evangelion pilots!" Asuka turned to the class and yelled, "am I right or am I right?!" The class gave a loud cheer, and Shinji's embarrassment deepened even further. And then the First Child walked into the room and it became unexplainably quiet. Asuka tried to keep her upbeat mood up, facing Rei and smiling. "Heya, Ayanami!" She stared at Asuka for a moment, blinked, then went to her seat. Asuka felt remarkably stupid. The rest of the class period was spent in silence. -*- You asked me about the First Child in the letter you sent me, which I got this morning. Thanks for writing me! Anyway, she's...She's the weirdest person in the entire universe. You remember that kid...Otto von Kleinbeck? The one who sealed his nostrils shut trying to sniff glue? And kept trying to wear underwear as a hat? She makes him look normal. Okay, I'm exaggerating. She's just so passive it's creepy. But I'm going to try to make friends with her anyway; we need to work as a team, and if I wait for Shinji or Rei to take the initiative, I'll be married with children by the time it happens. -*- Asuka gazed across the school grounds, to where Rei Ayanami sat. She was under a tree, all alone, and looking as emotionless as ever. When Asuka found out she was to be working with other pilots, she figured they'd have to work as a team to be successful. This also meant, in her view, the pilots all getting along well together. A sense of camraderie was something vital to the success of the pilots. So far, it wasn't quite going as well as she'd hoped. Shinji was spineless, remarkably spineless. She believed that he'd probably jump at his own shadows. His introverted nature wasn't good either. However, he did have a chivalrous streak to him, and on occasion he would open up and let people know what was in his heart. Rei, on the other hand, was the very definition of an ice maiden. She did her duty, and did it well, but seemed to treat socializing as if it were an option, and one that she wasn't planning to exercise. Asuka admitted to herself that she hadn't exactly tried to get Rei to talk yet. That was something she was about to change. "Ayanami! Hi!" she said, walking up to the albino girl. Rei looked up. For a moment, a brief flicker of a frown appeared on her face. Then she looked down at her food again and resumed eating. Not a good start, thought Asuka. "So, er, mind if I join you for lunch today?" asked Asuka, trying not to sound unnerved. Rei silently nodded. Asuka, for a moment, was at a loss as to what that meant. Was that a 'yes you can join me' or a 'yes I mind, go away'? After a moment's deliberation, she decided to think positive and take it as a 'yes you can join me'. She would never know if she was correct. Asuka ate her sandwich slowly, then looked at Rei. The albino girl was slowly picking her way through a cup of ramen. Though she really wanted to break the silence, Asuka found herself at a loss for words. This was unusual, especially for her. Rei finally noticed her stare, then looked right into her eyes. Asuka trembled for a moment, struck with several feelings at once: vertigo, claustraphobia, the chills, dizziness, a feeling that something was just _wrong_ in the universe. She shook it off quickly. Asuka was that kind of girl. "What?" asked Rei. If there was any malice in her voice, Asuka missed it. "Look, I'll be blunt," said Asuka. "We're Eva pilots, a team. We're gonna be out there fighting things that could destroy the world. If we're gonna survive, I think we're gonna need a sense of teamwork, camraderie, that sort of thing." Asuka paused to see if Rei was following this. She didn't seem to not be paying attention, though the constant emotionless stare was getting a bit unnerving. "Anyway," continued Asuka. "I just wanted to break the ice and get to be friends, okay?" "Friends?" asked Rei. "Yeah, friends, y'know?" Rei blinked. "I see." And with that said, Rei went back to eating her ramen. Asuka blinked once, twice, then sighed in defeat. Saying any more words, she knew, would just make her feel more stupid. -*- I've already made friends with Hikari, the class president. She's just the kind of person I like. We can hang out and talk and play video games and she just understands me. I think she and Anna would like each other. How is Anna doing? Did you give her my address? Anyway, Hikari's father works for NERV doing some kind of lab work so secret he can't even tell her what it is. But since he's a geneticist, I assume he's probably studying those samples from that stupid koosh-ball I killed. They've got all the pieces down in some lab. And there's a few samples from Salgiel, although our EVAs...ate most of him. I'm gonna see if she can come over and help me figure out how to arrange all the stuff Misato let me keep. I'm afraid I may have put the picture of Mom and Dad in one of the boxes I sent to the storage place. -*- Hikari worked on her ice cream cone as she sat near Asuka, who was busily sorting through her boxes of stuff. They were listening to one of Asuka's CDs of Zwei Herzen, a German pop band. While Hikari couldn't understand the lyrics, she liked the breezy tunes. Asuka pulled out a t-shirt with a picture of a Valkyrie on it. "This is from when I went to the Wagner Festival in Munich. I couldn't believe how long the Nibelunglied was. And everyone died." She shook her head, and tossed it over to Hikari, who took a quick look at it and tossed it on the bed. "So you're a big opera fan?" "Yeah. I like classical music," Asuka said. "I've got my tickets from a performance of Marriage of Figaro that I went to with Doktor Himmelfarb and Pieter for my thirteenth birthday." "Was Pieter your boyfriend?" Asuka blushed. "He was three times my age! He was my combat instructor and a really great guy." Hikari smiled faintly. "So you just thought about him but didn't do anything." "I DID NOT HAVE A CRUSH ON PIETER!!!!" Asuka shouted. "Uh huh. You don't have a crush on Kaji either." "It's not a CRUSH! I really love him!" "Uh huh." Hikari smiled faintly, remembering how she had gone through something like that with the gym teacher a few months earlier. It had taken seeing the gym teacher with her literature teacher to get her over that. "What makes you so sure of that?" "I've had crushes, and they never lasted this long." She'd been in love with Kaji for a good three months now. "Not like when I had a crush on Franz, just because he had a nice body, and he caught me when I fell off the roof...anyway. Kaji is handsome and a nice guy and charming and likes to do fun stuff with me." Hikari was not too impressed. "He's twice your age, though." "Age means nothing to true love! Every time I think about him, my heart beats faster, and it's hard to breathe and I feel all...wonderful. Just like in all the books. It has to be true love." Hikari couldn't argue with that...directly. "But how do you have any idea how he feels?" "He wouldn't spend so much time with me if he didn't like me. He's a busy man," Asuka said. "And I'm as well educated as him, as smart as him, and as good looking, so..." "And your head is as big as his too," Hikari said, laughing. "You'll never die of humility, Asuka." Asuka snorted and went back to the box, then pulled out a carefully folded black satin outfit and laughed. "What did I bring THIS for? Doesn't even fit." "What is it?" "I was Batgirl for Halloween when I was eight..." She unfolded the costume, which was now clearly too small for her. "Doktor Himmelfarb and Gertrude made it for me." "Gertrude?" "One of Doktor Himmelfarb's assistants; she was a geneticist. Her daughter Anna went to school with me; she was my closest friend in Germany. She has a brother named Oscar, he's a loser, but he had the most MASSIVE crush on me." She put the costume next to the box and kept digging, pulling out three novels and a history textbook. "This must have been one of the boxes I just starting throwing junk in." "So what did you do about it?" "What...Oscar?" "Yeah." "Ignored him and his annoying cat. Stupid thing always clawed up all my stuff, but he took the cat everywhere except school. He was just whacko. Really smart, though, but no common sense at all. Nothing like his mom or his sister. Doktor Himmelfarb always thought it was because his father died when he was little, but that never made any sense to me." Asuka pulled out a photo album. "Ahah! Here it is!" She paged through the photo album, and found a picture of herself, Doktor Himmelfarb, Pieter, Gertrude, Anna, and Oscar. Pieter was tall and muscular, dressed in fatigues. He had brown hair in a crew cut and deep green eyes. Gertrude was tall and thin with short blonde hair, dressed in a nice blue blouse and a knee-length light blue skirt. Anna looked much like her mother, except for having long blonde hair in the same style as Asuka's, soft grey eyes hidden behind glasses, and like Asuka in the picture, she was wearing a black shirt that said 'NERV SCIENCE AUXILLARIES', complete with the NERV logo in red, and blue shorts. Oscar was rather cute (for a thirteen year old), had short ash-blonde hair, a similar t-shirt to the girls and jeans, and had a black cat tucked under one arm. They were standing in front of a museum, but their bodies concealed the sign, other than the word 'Berlin'. "Here we are," Asuka said. "He took his cat to the museum?" "He tried," Asuka said, shaking her head. "Pieter ended up having to stay outside with him while the rest of us went in." "Do you miss your friends?" Hikari asked. "I know I would." "Yeah," Asuka said quietly. "Anna and I pretty much grew up together, and I miss Gertrude and Doktor Himmelfarb and Pieter too. I don't miss Oscar, though." Hikari laughed. "Show me some more pictures." This went on for quite some time. -*- Shinji was in the living room practicing his cello as Asuka and Hikari came out of Asuka's room. "Tell Katsuragi-san I'm eating dinner over at Hikari's tonight." "Have you done your chores yet?" "It's your turn." "It is NOT!" He pointed at the calendar, then realized Misato had been tampering with chore assignments again, and it had become an illegible mess. "Ummm..." Asuka grinned. "I'll armwrestle you for it." Shinji began to sweat. -*- My love life is NOT working out like it's supposed to. Fraulein Katsugari is after MY Kaji. Oh, she denies it, and acts like she hates him, but I'm not blind. I can tell. She ought to make up her mind! She dumped him back in college, so he's fair game now! Not that he helps by flirting with her. I'm starting to realize he flirts with just about everyone, though. Even Ice Queen Akagi. That's not fair. Doktor Akagi is very nice, she's just...I think she scares most men off by being so regal and smart. I just can't figure out how to get Kaji to pay more attention to me. He seems distracted, like he's thinking about something. And it's not Katsugari. I hope it isn't. I can't see what he would see in her...I'm far more mature than she is. Surely, he doesn't WANT someone who acts like that. -*- The command center was unusually quiet, with the exception of two figures sittin at its center. One of them was looking through paperwork, a horrendous backlog of it. The other was doing the age old tradition of trying to score. "How'bout a backrub?" asked Kaji smoothly. "How about I kick your ass?" said Misato sweetly. "Aw, Misato-chan, c'mon, don't be so mean. Just one drink, for old times sakes..." "Don't you have a job to do?" growled Misato. "Why yes, I'm on a special assignment," said Kaji seriously. "A very important job." "And they put YOU on it?" asked Misato. "Mm-mm," nodded Kaji. "My mission: to rescue a NERV commander from datelessness, as soon as possible, by any means neccessary." He smoothly went by her side as he talked, then put an arm around her. "Whadaya say? Let's break a few headboards." ****SLAP**** Misato stalked off, fists trembling in fury. Rubbing his freshly slapped face, Kaji sighed. "My, she's lost her sense of humor. She always used to laugh at that line in college." Unseen by Kaji or Misato, Makoto slipped away into the hallways, looking a bit ill, worried, and very much jealous. -*- Shinji chewed on the end of his pencil, trying to figure out what exactly the literature teacher expected him to do with the poem they had been given in class. What did he mean by 'analyze' the poem? Analyze what? Shinji stared at the twelve lines. It was a quatrain about flowers. That was about all he really had to say about it...which wouldn't stretch to a full page, very well. Violin music began to drift through the room, catching his attention. Asuka had gotten her violin out and was playing instead of doing homework. He listened to the tune, trying to figure out what it was, but couldn't quite place the style. "What is that?" "A polka," she said, laughing, then switched to some more sedate music. "Not the sort of thing I was supposed to be learning, but...C'mon and play something with me." "You already did your literature homework?" "I compared it to some work by Goethe that was much better." She paused, then grinned impishly. "Actually, I dragged out an old paper about the Goethe poem and added one paragraph of comparison." "A poem about Goths?" She shook her head. "Goethe. The author." "That doesn't sound like a Japanese name." She frowned slightly. "It isn't. He's a famous German author." "You had a paper in Japanese about a German author?" "No, I translated it as well." Shinji boggled lightly. "Whoa." Asuka shrugged. "So I'm all done." "You did the astronomy homework?" She blinked. "The what?" "You did go and get the assignments from when we were gone, right?" A single sweatdrop ran down Asuka's forehead. "They assigned us homework when we were gone?" He shook his head. "School does go on without us, you know." "Ummm...can I see this list?" He handed her three handwritten pages. "I put it all together so I wouldn't lose any of it." She got up and took it. If Asuka had been the fainting type, she would have passed out. As it was, she simply sat down hard. "I can't do all this in..." She looked again. "Whew. Only the Astronomy and the...oh great, more literature homework. Bleah." "You don't like literature?" "Not the kind of stuff you study in school. If they'd let me write about something decent, I'd like it. I did Math and Physics as my majors in college," she said, talking as she ran off to get her books and paper. "Well, I'm used to tight deadlines from that." She turned in the literature book and stared at the first assignment page as if it was an evil demon. "Urgle. Stupid poetry. Analyzing poetry is like dissecting butterflies." Shinji blinked. "True, but I don't think Mr. Ichiyama will accept that as an answer." "What are we supposed to do with these damn things, anyway?" "Beats me. Make paper airplanes, maybe." They stared at each, and Asuka laughed. "Have you done them yet?" "Soon as I finish the assignment he gave out today." "Right. Together, we will OVERCOME!" -*- After two hours, Misato still hadn't come home, and the poetry had defeated them. They were both standing by the window watching the lights of the city at night, instead, taking a break from reading about 'glistening dew' and 'the chirping cicadias'. "I think I'll write a haiku about a car wreck," Asuka said. "One more nature poem, and I'll..." "They're all like that," Shinji said, faintly irritated. "We don't write poems about mangled metal here." "Has your father always been such a pushy bastard?" Asuka asked idly. Shinji blinked; he couldn't see the connection. "Huh?" "The man just...he grinds my gears." "I don't know. I haven't really seen him since I was five or maybe six. After Mother died, he sent me away." Asuka stared at him. "He did WHAT?" "He sent me off to a foster home, which I guess must have been tricky since he wasn't actually dead. The Shimodas weren't bad people, but they didn't really care about me either. I was just sort of in the way, most of the time. But they liked my music; it was the only thing where they ever gave me any encouragement. And they had lots of pets, which was kinda nice. I like animals." He smiled a little. "They had eight cats, and half the nights, they'd get into some kind of brawl with half the other pets in the neighborhood. Shiro was my favorite; he was so smart, I almost thought he could talk, sometimes." She glanced over at Pen-pen, who was watching a gameshow on TV. "He may have been smart enough to really understand you. I mean...Pen-pen watches TV and can beat Misato at chess." They both laughed. "So what are your parents like?" Shinji asked. "Dead." Her voice was a little sharp. Shinji looked away. "I'm sorry." "Don't be such a wimp, Shinji. It's not your fault they died. They died here, in Tokyo-3, back when it was still under construction and NERV was just starting to operate out of here. Dad was an aeronautics engineer; they were hoping to build flying EVAs as well as ground ones. I don't think they anticipated Rei's EVA's little trick." She shook her head. "And mom was a geneticist working for NERV's research wing. They both were based in NERV-Germany, but Mom was called in to oversee a special experiment, and Dad came with her since he had some vacation time and she was six months pregnant with a boy." "You have a brother?" "No." She made a tiny choking noise. "While they were gone, they tested everyone at the base, and discovered I had the potential to pilot an EVA. I was so excited that I ran around the base, telling everyone." Her voice was very soft now. "The experiment went horribly wrong." She gripped the windowsill. "Are you familiar with how you can grow some kinds of tissues in a petri dish?" "Err, sort of." "They were trying to grow more Angel tissue for tests from the remains of the one that sunk Antarctica." Shinji's eyes widened. "They WHAT?" "Something went wrong...it released fumes which conducted electricity well. The whole lab went up in flames when a spark got to the wrong place, then ignited various chemicals. Poisonous fumes went everywhere. Dr. Akagi's mom died almost immediately, and almost everyone else passed out and would have died, but Mom and Dad had more resistance and weren't as close when the really bad fumes went off. So they were able to get most of the people out of the lab. But they breathed in so much of the poison that they couldn't be saved. Mom died within an hour. Dad lived long enough for them to fly me in to say goodbye to him." She was shaking faintly now. "At least you got to say goodbye," Shinji said faintly. He hadn't gotten to say goodbye to his mother. "He told me to be brave, that he was proud I would be an EVA pilot, and he wanted me to do my best to save humanity." Her fingertips pressed into the wooden windowsill, and her she stood tensely. "And then he died. He looked awful; his skin had turned a kind of blackish-green in some spots and his eyelids were puffy and..." She let out a deep breath. "But he wasn't afraid at all. So I promised him that I would do my best. I was sent back to Germany, and Dr. Himmelfarb, my mom's boss, took me in. She's the head of research for NERV-Germany, now. I got combat training from Lt. Pieter Haarbeck, and they gave me the best education they could. I got my diploma a week before they summoned me here. Pretty much, I've lived with Dr. Himmelfarb most of my life. She's been really good to me." "I don't even know how my mother died; it was some sort of accident here. It might have even been the same one where you parents died; I don't know. I can't remember anything before I was sent away by Father, except for a few brief snatches of my mother's face, and running through snow, and a book. It was bound in a sort of red scaley hide, and it had weird letters on the cover. I tried to look at the pictures, but I couldn't find any, and then Father found me and spanked me. It's the only time he ever spanked me, I think. But he looked sort of..." He strained to catch the memory. "Sort of like he was proud and mad at the same time."
"I can't believe he just sent you away for ten years! That's just..." Asuka fumed. "Does he hate you for some reason?" "I think he just didn't have any time for me," Shinji said quietly. "It would be easier if he actually hated me; I could hate him back, but..." "Maybe the next Angel will eat him," Asuka said. "I don't want him to die," Shinji said, drumming his fingers on the sill. "Hey, look, it's Misato." She peered. "How can you tell?" "I can hear people honking at her." -*- May 25, 2015 Dear Doktor Himmelfarb, I'm starting to think NERV is run by complete idiots. We ought to be training instead of going to this stupid junior high. We have hardly any time to practice fighting together, and Shinji DESPERATELY needs training. He tries hard when he's piloting, and he's got a lot of talent, but he doesn't know anything about fighting. I should be fair. Rei and I have been training since we were about six years old, while Shinji just started, but still...they've only found THREE pilots in eight years? This doesn't bode well. I guess the mutation that lets us pilot EVA is REALLY rare. It doesn't help that Shinji has no drive. I think sometimes that he would just sit down and never move if he didn't get hungry, sometimes. He's nothing like his father. Which is a good thing in some ways. He's friendly and easy to deal with, and he does do his chores on time, unlike Oscar. And he plays music; he's pretty good, in fact. I'm trying to find some music we could play together. My effort to befriend Rei didn't go very well, although it didn't go BADLY, either. It just...really, it just didn't go. It was like...I could probably chew her out and she wouldn't react. But I'm going to keep trying. The three of us have to work together. The fight with Salgiel proved that. When we cooperate, we can't lose. At least, I hope we can't. That might have just been a fluke. We beat Salgiel because he made some mistakes, and our EVAs suddenly pulled out a lot of tricks he couldn't anticipate, like Rei suddenly sprouting wings. We have to win...we have to! Or humanity will be destroyed. But if our opponents ever have the sense to team up...I don't know what will happen. Assuming they can. Maybe the aliens didn't program them very well. -*- "C'mon, slowpoke! Let's go!" said Asuka.
Her victim for the current and forseeable future, Shinji Ikari, hurriedly packed his bag, then followed Asuka out the door. "Why are you in such a hurry?" he asked her. "No particular reason," said Asuka. "I just hate being slow." "That's it?" "Yep." Shinji rolled his eyes, then slowed down. "And I thought it was something important," he grumbled. "Hey, what's with you?" asked Asuka. "P.E. class," said Shinji. "What? We just ran a few miles," said Asuka casually. "Yeah, a few miles," muttered Shinji. Why he took up Asuka's challange, he'd never know. He also vowed to never do so again. "I wasn't trained since birth to be a pilot," he whined. "Give me a break, okay?" Asuka merely rolled her eyes, slowing down and matching Shinji's pace. "Ah, well, I guess I'll have to keep on working on you then." "W-what?" "You're an Eva pilot! The best of the best... or in theory anyway. You can't afford to be in such sad shape. We're saving the world!" "Um... yeah. Just don't say weird things like that." "Like what?" "Never mind." The two of them plodded through the school's empty halls, their footsteps echoing all around. After a while, Shinji did all the plodding, while Asuka alternated from fast walking to a standstill in an attempt to keep the walk interesting. As the two passed an open room, the sound of a single violin drifting in the air, a mournful melody strong enough to bring Asuka to a stop. Next to her, the auditorium doors hung open, leading into darkness. As Shinji plodded by, she reached out and grabbed him, bringing Shinji to a halt as well. "I wonder who's playing?" she whispered. "Hm?" "Sounds like 'Death and the Maiden'," muttered Asuka. "Wha?" "C'mon, let's go see," said Asuka. "What? Why?" "Why? Because whoever's playing can play good. And I'm curious." The two fumbled clumsily in the dark, Asuka leading Shinji by the arm. She wondered just where the hell the light switch was. The dim aisle lights were enough for them to know where to walk, but not much else. On stage, a silhouetted figure continued playing the violin, passion and sadness exprssed with every note. Shinji had to admit, it was very good. "Um, hello?" said Asuka. The music abruptly died. A pair of red eyes flared brilliantly in the dark, staring down at them. Asuka froze in place, old memories filling her mind, childhood nightmares of a shape with red eyes, an ever changing beast that stalked her dreams until she learned to drive it away. Or perhaps it had merely grown bored and now had returned, somehow made real. Shinji bumped into her from behind, knocking her out of her trance. "Asuka?" Instinct took over; best to take no chances. "Shinji, get out of here. It's..." She dropped into a combat stance, then sensing he hadn't left, she said, "Get moving!" "Umm...it's just Rei," he said. "Hi, Rei." He waved.
She stood and stepped forward, out of the shadows and into the light, looking straight at Shinji. "Hello." Asuka blushed faintly, embarrassed. "Oh. Of course. I just..." "What, you thought she was an Angel or something?" "Nothing." She sighed. "You're pretty good, Rei," said Shinji. "Thank you," Rei said, sitting back down. Asuka started towards the stage. "Want to try a String Trio with me and Shinji some time?" Rei stared at them for a moment, then said, "When?" Asuka glanced back at Shinji, who now came forward. "Umm...tomorrow night?" "Sounds good to me," Asuka said, clambering up onto the stage with a nimble leap. "When tomorrow?" "Uh...seven?" Shinji said, going around to the side access. Rei nodded, then turned back to her music and beginning to play. "Got any pieces you'd like us to try?" Asuka asked, coming over by Rei. "I think I have some stuff we could do," Shinji said, walking across the stage. "Movement of the Stars, by Erich Zann," suggested Rei quietly. "Who?" Shinji asked. "I've never heard of him, but sure," Asuka said, smiling a little. "Bring that." Rei continued to play, and for a while, they simply listened. Her mastery of the music was flawless, and Asuka felt a little envious, while Shinji was simply awed. While Rei's expressions and movements were efficient, minimal, and seemingly emotionless, the music seemed entirely the opposite. The piece had far more emotion to it than either of them had ever heard her express, and neither was sure if it was simply the piece or if she was letting something show that was normally locked away. Or perhaps somewhere inbetween. She finished the piece, stood, gathered her music, nodded briefly to each of them, then quietly walked away. Asuka and Shinji stood and watched her go. Asuka finally said, "I just don't get her." She glanced over at Shinji. "Despite what the papers may think, I don't get her either." "Despite what the papers may think?" Now Asuka was curious. "She... uh... This paper thought we were dating and..." Asuka's lips quirked in a smile. "Ahh." "It's not like that!" "Uh huh." Asuka jumped off the stage. "C'mon. We need to get going. "It's not!" Shinji followed her. "Slow down, will ya?" "Nope." -*-
Playing music together isn't the same as combat piloting, but it does take teamwork. And they're both pretty good. Rei plays the same instrument I do, and Shinji plays the cello, so all we need is a viola player. Unfortunately, Hikari plays the flute. I don't suppose you know any pieces for flute, cello, and two violins? I got a letter from Anna! Is she really going to be tested to be a pilot? That would be really great if she got to come live with us. Well, live here in Tokyo-3. Fraulein Katsuragi's apartment is pretty much full. And it may get more that way soon. Our whole gang is going to the mall in a couple of days. You'd think a hand-designed city could come up with a cooler name that 'Tokyo-3 Shopping Center', but I guess they had other priorities. Misato told me it has a really great selection of stuff. Then she warned me not to get a whole new set of junk since they can barely fit all my old junk. It is NOT junk! -*- It was supposed to be a day of bonding, when Shinji, Asuka, Rei, and friends gathered together for a day of relaxation. For one day, they'd be like ordinary children. Instead, this would be the day that firmly established Touji and Asuka as mortal enemies. "Springtime Cherry Blossoms?!?!" yelled Touji. "I ain't watching no movie called Springtime Cherry Blossoms!!!" "And what's wrong with Springtime Cherry Blossoms?!" boomed Asuka. "It... it's so GIRLY!" argued Touji. "And besides, the new Tiger Wang movie is out! How can you not like a Tiger Wang movie?" "Yeah!" said Kensuke. "It's the premire of Tiger Fist and Snake Bite! We can't miss that! Right, Shinji?" "Um... well..." "Well Hikari and I have been waiting to see Springtime Cherry Blossoms all week, we've been planning to see Springtime Cherry Blossoms, and we're gonna SEE SPRINGTIME CHERRY BLOSSOMS, DAMMIT!" "LIKE HELL WE WILL, YOU SAUERKRAUT-EATING BITCH!" ***POW*** -*- "See? It was a good movie," said Asuka. "Right, Hikari?" She sat back on the park bench, in the afterglow of the nice, romantic movie. "Er, yeah," said Hikari, splitting her attention between listening to Asuka and applying ice to Touji's jaw. "Hold still, Touji." "I'r git yuu fr iss," mumbled Touji. "Hey, at least you were unconscious for the whole film," said Kensuke. "Shinji'n me had to actually watch it. Horrible stuff, right Shinji?" "Well, kinda..." "It was not!" protested Asuka. "It was deep, meaningful, romantic, and moving. Isn't that so, Shinji?" "Er, well, I guess..." "Shiji wnnt kno rmntic ffit bit'm nna ass," said Touji though the icebag. "I guess I wouldn't," mumbled Shinji. "Hey!" yelled Asuka. "Did you enjoy it or not! Stop flip-flopping!" "Er... um..." Shinji sweated nervously as both sides of the war of the sexes stared at him. "Um... how'd you like it, Rei?" Rei looked at Shinji curiously. "Like?" she asked. -*- Still nursing a sore jaw, Touji sat with the other two boys, impatiently tapping his foot. They were in a place of many conflicting desires: outside the women's dressing room of a clothing store. On one hand, the idea that the women within were stripping down to their bare essentials got them fired up. On the other hand, they had to sit there and wait until the women were done changing. They had to wait in THE WOMEN'S SECTION of the store, something that no man ever felt too comfortable lingering in for too long. Touji held his fist up and yelled in agony. "Aaagh! How long does it take'em to try on a buncha freakin' dresses?!" "Shattup, arschloch!" yelled Asuka from the dressing rooms. "What?! What'd she call me?!" "Touji," said Kensuke, "you two were just born to hate each other, y'know that?" "Don't you start," snarled Touji. Just when Touji's patience was about to snap again, the three girls stepped out in their selected clothes. "Ta-daah!" said Asuka, stepping out first. She twirled about in her pink sundress, then strutted proudly before the boys. "Looks good, hm?" Touji glared at her once, grumbled, then folded his arms and looked away. Kensuke nodded approvingly. "Not bad," he muttered. Shinji seemed entranced for a moment, looking at Asuka with stunned eyes. She really was beautiful, he thought to himself, when she wasn't terrorizing him. Asuka stared down at him with an amused grin. "Hey, get that lecherous look off of your face." Flustered, Shinj stammered denial quickly. "H-hey! I-I was not!" "Whateeeever," said Asuka. "Hey Hikari, come on out!" Hikari stepped out next, meekly, looking very sheepish in a strapless light brown dress. This time Touji was the one staring. Kensuke elbowed Shinji and leaned towardshim. "Ya know," he said to Shinji in a mock-whisper, "he's got this thing for the class prez." Hikari blushed deeply, turning away to hide the silly grin creeping on her face, while Touji suddenly put Kensuke in a vicious headlock. "Shaddup!" "Ow! Okay, okay!" "Rei, come on out!" called Asuka. Emerging from the curtains of the dressing rooms, Rei emerged reluctantly, looking far more unsure of herself than Hikari. That, by itself, was something nobody had ever seen before on Rei's face. The second unique thing about this situation was that the usual slight edge of uneasiness that was felt around Rei was far less than usual. It wasn't entirely gone, but it was barely felt at all. And the final first was done by Shinji, as he stared in admiration at her, dressed in a pale blue, full-length skirt and silky blouse. "You're beautiful," he told her. "I.... am?" asked Rei. Shinji nodded. Rei blushed. The whole scenerio thus far was much more than Touji or Kensuke was expecting. Rei, not creepy? Rei, actually, sorta, cute? And blushing? It was far more pleasant than the usual way they felt around the girl, but they both would agree later that it still felt wrong. It was as if some constant in the universe had been violated. And then she smiled. It was a small smile. A very small one. But it was a memorable one. -*- The next stop in their day was something heavily demanded by Touji. It was, as he put it, a matter of balance. The girls got to do girly things, now it was time for the boys to do manly things. So they hit the arcade. Touji, in particular, was looking forward to this, as the arcade was where he felt he could unwind, do what _he_ enjoyed, and wouldn't have to take any more crap from Asuka. He was dead wrong. -*- "WAHAHAHA! Wanna try again?" asked Asuka arrogantly. She stood next to Touji, both of them at the controls of the new hot fighting game World Warriors. This, thought Touji, was a chance to not only finally do something he'd enjoy, but he'd also get a chance to humiliate Asuka. Or so he thought. After all, girls don't play fighting games, right? "Touji, she just beat you with the weakest character in the game," said Kensuke. "Shaddup." "And she used only one move, repeatedly," added Kensuke. "I know. Shaddup." Asuka laughed haughtily. "Oh-hohoho! Don't feel bad! It's only natural that I excel in a fighting game. After all, I AM an Eva pilot." "Shaddup, shaddup, shaddup," grumbled Touji. "I'm goin' to get a drink." "Aww, too much for ya?" taunted Asuka. "Anybody else wanna take me on? Eh?" Kensuke stood up, his fist clenched. "I, Kensuke Aida will avenge my friend!" he declared. "Bring it on, geek!" Kensuke confidently put on the VR helm and slid his hands in the gauntlets. A minute later, he nearly threw the helm off as Asuka killed him with a backhanded slap. "Nnnnnext!" yelled Asuka. "Hey, Shinji! Get up here!" "M-me?" "Yeah, you! You're an Eva pilot, so _surely_ you'll put up a decent fight. C'mon! I'll even pay for you." Thirty seconds later... "You've got to be kidding me," mumbled Asuka. Shinji took off the VR helm sheepishly. "I never was good at these games." "I mean, c'mon," said Asuka. "You're an Eva pilot. You do this for a living. I just can't believe it." "Well-" "Let's go again," said Asuka. "C'mon. No way can you suck that bad." "But-" Ten seconds later. "Aaagh! You really do suck!" yelled Asuka. "I told you!" whined Shinji. "We're back," said Kensuke as he and Touji returned. "Miss anything?" "Asuka beat Shinji," said Hikari. The boys sighed. "You're a pilot, ain'cha?!" asked Touji. "Look, I said I never was good at these games!" cried Shinji. "This is indeed a dark day for man," said Kensuke. "Hey, Rei, give it a try?" asked Asuka. "You certainly can't be as pathetic as Shinji, anyway." The albino girl blinked. Ten seconds later... "No way..." Asuka muttered. Behind them, Touji and Kensuke danced merrily, while Hikari and Shinji looked on in surprise. Rei took off her helmet and gave Shinji a puzzled look. "HA!" yelled Touji, pointing at Asuka. "HA! HA!" "Oh, shut up!" snarled Asuka. "HA!" The red-head slammed the VR helm on agrily. "Okay, ONE more time, Rei!" Ten seconds later... "HA!" "SHUT UP!" -*- And with both Touji and Asuka feeling equally humiliated, they soon left the arcade and roamed the streets of MegaTokyo-3. "So what's next?" asked Hikari. "How about ice skating?" suggested Asuka. "Sounds good!" agreed Hikari. "Right, Touji?" He was about to protest, when Hikari sidled up to him and took his arm in hers. Of course his willpower died. "Ice skating! Haha! Yes! Sounds good!" Kensuke shrugged. "Oh well, why not? You ever skated before, Shinji?" "Not really, no," mumbled Shinji. "I'll probably be bad at it, anyway. Do you know how to skate, Ayanami?" Rei blinked. "Skate?" "It's real easy, Shinji," said Asuka. "I'll show... show..." Her face froze suddenly, locked in disbelief and dismay, as she stared at something behind Shinji. "Kaji?" "Kaji?" Shinji turned around with everyone else, then saw what Asuka was staring at. Across the street, kissing Misato passionately, was Kaji. And in that instant, if they listened closely enough, they could hear Asuka's heart breaking. Hikari quickly turned to Asuka, but she had already run away. "Oh Asuka," she sighed. "Guys, we've gotta find her." "What? Us?" asked Touji. *WHAP* "Hey!" -*- As fate would have it, Shinji was the one that found Asuka at last, sitting by a downtown water fountain and staring blankly into its depths. "Um, Asuka?" She ignored him, tossing a one yen coin into the water. "Um, everyone's worried about you, Asuka," said Shinji. "Are... are you okay?" Toss... *splash*. "I, uh, well, er..." Needless to say, Shinji was a total stranger to the use of comforting words. At best, he was on the revieving end of them, but never had to use them himself. Asuka turned to him, her face pale and blank. Her eyes weren't red, as he was expecting them to be, but they were on the verge of tears. "You know," she said, "I never really seriously thought he could love somebody else until now." "Well... um..." Shinji scratched the back of his head. She smiled weakly, then turned away. "Don't feel bad about it, I wouldn't expect you to understand anyway." He sat down next to her, cautiously putting a hand on her shoulder. "You'll... you'll find someone else." And with those well-chosen words, Asuka finally snapped, tears flowing from her eyes. "I don't WANT anyone else! I want KAJI!" "I... I'm sorry." He gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. What happened next took him entirely by surprise. She suddenly turned around and cried on his shoulder, holding him tight as she sobbed. He didn't know how long she cried on his shoulder, and it didn't seem to matter. She was someone in need, and all he could do was be there for her. From the darkness of a nearby ally, a pair of red eyes glared at them, burning with fury. Nearby birds took to flight and all other small creatures quickly ran away as a small but intense wave of fear washed over the area. A moment later, the red eyes stalked away into the shadows. -*- It was the end of a bad month for Motomu Kamiya. He was still a fugitive, homeless, and broke, but he had a chance at salvation. Those unnamed people that had offered him money in the first place had given him one last chance. Free passage out of Tokyo, half a million in American, and a new identity. All he needed to do was obtain samples of blood, hair, and urine from all of the pilots, and copy whatever files he could get from the central computers. Of course he was suspicious. Why him? However, the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. He didn't know who they were, had no ties to them, and was familiar with NERV operations. The central computer would be a tough one, but he still had his old clearance cards, and knew a few maintenance tunnels where he could cut into the lines with a laptop. Risky, but doable. As for the hair, urine, and blood samples... He wasn't sure. Pose as a plumber or something? After thinking it over, hitting Ayanami's apartment for the samples first seemed to be easiest. She lived alone, and her apartment wasn't exactly high security. He'd never met the girl personally, but from what he heard, she wouldn't be much trouble. Just a quiet, creepy little girl that often got injured piloting the Unit00 early in the program. So that is how it was that Motomu Kamiya found himself in Rei Ayanami's bathroom at sunset. What he was going to do there, he admitted he wasn't sure. Perhaps she forgot to flush? He turned on the lights. No such luck. "Damn." Well, at least there was hair in the sink. He closed the lid and sat on the toilet, a perfect imitation of Rodan's sculpture, "The Thinker". He was a clerk, not a waste disposal specialist. And then the feeling hit him. It began as a tingle at the back of his neck, and slowly boiled over into a shivering fear. Something was _wrong_. He tried to move, but he couldn't, paralyzed by an overwhelming wave of fear. The lights flickered, then died. He caught a whimper in his throat and his trembling grew to epileptic proportions. In the darkness, he herd the bathroom door swing open. A pair of red eyes shone like blazing red stars, glaring down at him. At this point, he made a terrible mistake. He reached for his gun. Before he could even touch it, his hand was torn off. And that was only the beginning. -*- The 4th district of MegaTokyo-3 was a place of heavy construction. If one were to take a walk down her streets, the sounds of jackhammers and other heavy equipment would be deafening, and nearly overwhelming. On this day, if one listened very carefully, in the rare breaks of silence between the nearly endless hammering and pounding of construction, one could hear the tortured, dying screams of Motomu Kamiya. -*- I guess I really am settling in now, and starting to like it here. Some of it, anyway. I don't think I'll ever like that slimeball Gendo. I refuse to use his last name here, in our private conversation. It's not like he'll ever see this. The man is simply a slimeball, and he doesn't deserve any respect. The way he's treated Shinji...no wonder Shinji's like that. I always wished I hadn't lost my parents, but now I'm not so sure I missed out. I'm sure father wasn't like Gendo, but...well, my father was a hero, and his father was a rat bastard. It's a pity he didn't die instead of Father and Mother back in 2007. He probably sat and watched them die. I'd have a brother if they hadn't died...well, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. I have to put up with him, whether I like it or not. I'll be polite, I'll take my orders, but I hope an Angel eats him. Why's he in charge anyway? All he ever does is look ominous and chew people out. And push his glasses up his nose. I've half a mind to ducttape them to his eyebrows. Anyway, I'm having fun, at least sometimes, and I'm glad to be here. Say hello to everyone, and tell Franz he was right about Japanese beer. I never should have doubted him. Sincerely, Asuka Langely -*- Gendo put the letter down and frowned. "What do you think, Fuyuutsuki?" They were in his office with the door closed. Fuyuutsuki laughed. "I think you DO need to do something about your glasses." Gendo stopped his hand, which was halfway to his nose, putting it down on the desk in what he hoped would be a casual manner. "Normally, I would not care if a fourteen year old wanted me dead, but since she has an EVA at her command, it's another story." "She won't do anything. It's just a way of letting off stress. She threatened to kill Shinji if he kept waking her up in the earlier letter, but do you really think she would kill him?" Fuyuutuski found the whole thing faintly amusing. Gendo would be having the censors forward people's love letters to him next, at this rate. "She's clearly adopted Himmelfarb as a surrogate mother, which is exactly what you wanted when you arranged for her to become Asuka's foster mother after her parents died." "They would still be alive if I had my way," he said, frowning. "If we had discovered Asuka's aptitude a few months earlier...we need our pilots as sane as possible so they don't break before we finish." "And Himmelfarb has given her that sanity. She's a fourteen year old child. What do you expect?" Gendo's hand twitched. He kept it down. He would NOT push his glasses up if it killed him. Milimeter by milimeter, they slid further down. "She has none of Himmelfarb's discipline. She's rude, disrespectful, violent, and..." "If she had no discipline, would she have a college diploma? Would she still be alive? Could you have piloted an EVA in a fight to the death at age fourteen?" Fuyuutsuki leaned forward. "She is still a child, with all the strengths and flaws of youth. She is still young enough to change, to be forged into the weapon we need. At least with her, we won't have to do as much work as we will with Shinji. You could not have picked a worse way to raise him in order to be an EVA pilot." Gendo frowned. "I did not have time for a child, and you know that." "Nor did I, but there were still better ways. You might as well have thrown him on a rubbish heap. And imagine how useful he would be to us if you HAD raised him." Silence. "It's never too late to start." Silence. "Or are you more afraid of your own son than you are of the powers of the universe?" There was an uncharacteristic edge to Fuyuutsuki's voice. "The true master can only master the outside world after he masters himself." "I am not afraid." "Liar." They stared at each other in silence, gazes locked. Gendo looked away, staring down at the letters. "Should we let Asuka teach him about the Dreamlands?" "Now who's running away?" Fuyuutsuki said sharply, settling back into his chair. "But I say yes. Otherwise, he will likely break before the crisis comes. If the account was accurate, the last time, the nightmares started months in advance. We already know he's having nightmares. Now, getting back to what I was saying before, you need to build a bond between you and Shinji. Unless you want him to be more loyal to Misato and the other pilots than you." Fuyuutsuki frowned slightly at having to put it that way, but sometimes you caught more flies with honey than vinegar. Gendo's eyes flared slightly. "The woman is..." "Have you ever actually looked at them?" Gendo blinked. "What?" "I'd think they were brother and sister if I didn't know better. If Shinji had to choose, he would choose her over you every time. Now, given you're her boss, that's not a problem, but if she ever revolts..." "I can manage her." "If she learns the truth? Or even some of it? If it comes down to a conflict between you and her, which side do you think Shinji will take?" "I think he would simply waffle, unable to act." Fuyuutsuki frowned. "Do you want him to waffle when it comes down to the final act? When we reach the point where our plans come to fruition? Him doing nothing could destroy us as surely as him acting wrongly." "I do not have time to play the doting father. I barely have time to do my duties, let alone...take him to play baseball or something." "Whatever. I will plan my funeral now, then." Gendo narrowed his eyes, then nearly lost his glasses entirely, finally giving in and pushing them up. "You really think this is that important?" "The pilots must not just do what they are told, they must trust us, at least a little, or our plan cannot possibly succeed. Unless you plan to try hopping into an EVA on the Day of Return?" "They could not handle the truth! I can see it eating away at Dr. Akagi as it did at her mother. I can see..." "I did not say to tell them everything. But if they distrust and hate us, if they grow suspicious...imagine what could happen if Katsuragi got ahold of the Prophecy?" "There are no copies in Japanese. And she couldn't read it in another language. That's one reason we chose her." Fuyuutsuki was beginning to wonder if someone had stolen part of Gendo's brain today. "Her father had one." "That's one reason he's dead." "There are hundreds of people who could potentially translate it into Japanese. But there are copies in GERMAN. And Asuka is fluent enough to translate it." "They would never..." Gendo shook his head. "If they learn the truth, they will become useless to us. Even Rei can't be allowed to know at more than the instinctive level." He paused and sighed. "You're right. The boy needs better training, and he needs...to trust us. Asuka is likely a lost cause in that regard, but if Rei and Shinji go along, she will." Fuyuutsuki rose. "And now I must 'go along'. Time for the finance committee meeting. Hmmm....whatever happened to Yui's cello?" "I donated it to an orchestra. A good idea, however. I do still have a lot of her sheet music, boxed up...somewhere." He began thinking. "I shall have to look for it." "Good bye," Fuyuutsuki said, leaving Gendo in his thoughts. -*- - end part 7 - -*- editor's note: thanks to Tae Jensen (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the images of Rei with violin and Gendo in red.