Slow breaths, in and out. Viscous fluid fills her lungs, lips parting with ever rattle down her throat. One by one, the lights come on, banishing darkness. The gray and smooth walls of the cavity come to life, slow rotation of the rings around her. The belts of her harness pull against her shoulders, between her breasts, around her hips.

"We're T-minus two minutes to drop. Starting final activation procedures." The familiar voice in her ear, followed by the screen folding out in her eye. "Time to kick the tires, girlfriend. We've spotted the Twenty Eighth and you've got some ass to kick. Maya?"

The entire plug hums. She can feel the turbines spinning on her giant's shoulders. Tapping the her fingertips against the butterfly controls, buttons depress to reveal the silhouette of the colossus at her command. "Turbines at full power. LCL pressure is stable." The cheerful voice of one of her handlers. "Psychograph of pilot is stable. Psychograph of core is stable. We are go for Third Stage."

"Damn straight we are." She yanks the controls back. Stretching her neck, she rolls her head, looks down, and stamps a red boot on the floor. "Wake up, Mom. We're ready to go."

The headset, built like a pair of cat ears, glows. "A-10 connectors are charged. LCL ionized. Synchronization in three...two...one!"

The walls flash, flushing with light. Drawing back into blue, then red, then gold, it washes away the gray to show a blue sky and the harness of a flying wing. "Metaneural handshake achieved between the Second Child and the Evangelion. Holding strong at 71%." She extends her arms, glancing from side to side. Slowly, carefully, she balls her hands into fists. Suspended in the harness of the wing, two massive red and white hands mirror her actions.

She looks down and sees the desert, stretching for hundreds of miles over what was once the southern wastes of a country that no longer exists. Her view is blocked by the raven haired woman with the cocky smile mirroring her own, and the red beret that symbolizes her command. "Okay. Twenty Eighth Angel has been spotted. You're mission is to kill it."

"Simple. I like it." She cocks her head, red hair flowing back in the amber liquid. "Anything else?"

Which is when the Angel breaks the surface. Massive, ridges of blood red and gold forming into the spine of the immense creature, it drags entire swaths of the wastes behind it. Rising on massive forelimbs, it glides along with golden light- with the same ease another monster, long ago, carried itself along the water.

But she forces down those memories and watches the monster. Watches the wyrm.

"Shai Hulud, motherfucker," she breathes. The harnesses release with muted explosions, and the four eyes of Evangelion Unit-02 glow emerald in time with its descent.


The Long Night of the Harvest


Breaking the surface of the former Nile, the creature rises. Parting the four jawed funnel at the center of its bulbous head, the ring of golden eyes around its neck spot the red giant before it lands on its back. The Angel warbles, shrieks, and immediately dives back into the sands.

Reaching into its shoulder pylons, the Evangelion drives the two knives into the scaled and armored flesh, and flattens against the back of the creature. Sand and debris score the armor of the giant, metal irises shuttering the four eyes. Inside the entry plug, Asuka Langley Sohryu grips the handles and laughs, punctuating her joy with sharp insults and questions of the creature's masculinity.

"Asuka! This thing might be too big for you to handle!" Blue eyes narrow and turn to the screen. "Unit-00 is about to drop."

"Oh for fuck's sake! No kill-stealing!"


...


Explosive bolts release. Clenched gold and white hands open, and the arms and legs spread out into a spread eagle formation. Freed from the flying wing, its red iris focuses, and the cyclopean form of Evangelion Prototype 00 drops to the desert and the sandworm.

The wind screams past it, fifteen thousand tons of armor, flesh, and technology descending to its target. Whether the creature notices- focused on the spec on its back as it is- does not matter. What matters, at least for the pilot, is that it is heading right towards her.

Pale lips quirk, and part with a small smile. Easing back the butterfly control on her right, she narrows red eyes and gives off a soft laugh.

"Seraphic buster, first wing," she says, "Show your little brother some discipline."

Orange light flows, forming out of nothingness- flowing from the core deep within the Evangelion, solidifying into a wall of gold sunlight. Shattering, it resets first into a brace around the arm of the Evangelion, then into a gauntlet easily as big as the rest of the giant.

Which it slams directly into the face of the wyrm.


...


"Really hoping that's an Angel, because if it isn't then we've got bigger problems." Chewing on her lip, rocking side to side on her heels, Misato Katsuragi watches the fight on the floating screen high above Central Dogma. In front of her, the young woman with short black hair calls out numbers, circuits, technical shit.

On the screen, Unit-00 gives the giant thing another right cross. Unit-02 emerges from the sand, running up the plates of the creature's back with both progressive knives brandished.

"Girls, do you need me to send in the third wheel?"

The faces of both her pilots appear. Rei, as always, wears the visage of faintly annoyed serenity. Asuka, as always, looks ready to either rip someone's throat out with her teeth or claim them as her mate.

"Pilot Makinami's expertise is not needed."

"Keep that psychopath out of an Eva!"


...


Plumes of sand rush past the crimson titan. Each step it takes along the back of the wyrm is punctuated by tectonic shocks and wind cutting like blades. Each inch it gains is through effort and blood and sweat.

"Okay, let's fucking do this." She grins, teeth already tinted read. "Okay, Goddess. I need a road block. You see the core yet?"

Rei's face appears in the corner of her vision. She nods, and a diagram appears floating in front of Asuka. Not of the Evas, but of the Angel, and the red sphere embedded into the back of its spherical head.

"Awesome." Asuka stamps her foot to the ground. "C'mon, Mom! Kick it!"

Four eyes flash emerald and the Evangelion charges up the back of the wyrm like a sprinter. Barely big enough to be considered a bug, barely big enough to be considered a threat to the creature, the giant charges in long strides. In front of the monster, Unit-00 lands, spreads out its arms, and pushes against the air.

And the head of the giant monster slams into a wall of gold. Ripples run along the back, throwing up caked earth, sand, and blue blood. None of it hits Unit-02, which flies through the air with a leap and bursts of flame, its right arm pulled back.

Inside the plug, Asuka snarls, swears, and pulls a trigger.

"Elbow Rocket: Initialized."

And two bursts of flame shoot out the back of of the Evangelion's right elbow. It carries the entire giant forward, and fifteen thousand tons of armor and flesh slam into a red crystal sphere at just shy of Mach 5.

The core cracks and shatters, spraying pulverized alien brain over the sands. Then it roars, and erupts into a pillar of gold, throwing both Evangelions off their feet and into the air.

And landing on their backs in a rushing stream of silt-filled crystal water.


...


"Terraforming effect has been reversed," Maya Ibuki calls out, over the cheers of the rest of the bridge staff, "Satellite uplinks confirm the Nile River is back where it's supposed to be!"

She kicks off, spinning her chair around and catching Misato's high five.

"Hells yes," Katsuragi croons, "Good work, girls!"

On the screen, Unit-02 sits up, climbing to its feet and standing in the knee-high river. Asuka's face flashes next to it, lips quirked and arms folded. All the world like the cocky fourteen year old she was when she arrived, not the young woman she is now. "Naturally. So, any other blues on the radar?"

Unit-00 wades through waist high water, towards the sea and the refugee-filled boats already on approach. "Warning satellites are clear of all Pattern Blue Contacts," Rei announces, "Unit-00, off to assist resettlement."

Asuka sighs. "So..."

"Counted a lot more fucks than I had to," Misato says, "I'll send you a list for the swear jar. Now go help the First."

Asuka rolls her eyes, clicking her tongue and signing off. On the screen, Unit-02 turns and begins following Unit-00. Shaking her head, Subcommander Katsuragi walks out of Central Dogma, hands in the pockets of her beige jacket. She walks down the lit, polished hallway, past the transparent windows of the Evangelion cages. Past the four-legged, olive centaur, past the black, pug faced giant.

Past an empty cage, still empty after five years. Quirking her lip, stopping, she glances out at the cage. The impromptu memorial, for the first one they lost. A sigh, and she taps her closed fist against the glass, nodding, and continues on.


...


Glass spires and steel towers tremble. The metropolis of Nal Ullimar has already gone into a full panic, even as the thing was spotted hours before. A white giant, flared and massive, six wings of light flowing from its back like ribbons, it began a slow approach towards the city. Ordinance launched from orbiting platforms did nothing.

Less than nothing, before a single glance of the titan melted them where they lay on the torus ring. The system picket fleet was called in, and entered the atmosphere to bombard it. They lasted five minutes before the White Giant removed them, waving its hand and sending them to the other side of the star system.

It walks on heavy footsteps, the thundercrack of footfalls shaking the steel walkways and stone streets. Even as shuttles rise, even as skycars and frigates carry away those lucky or wealthy enough to ensure their safety, those who remain prepare.

Some hide in bunkers deep beneath the shining city. Some watch, and wait for the end. Or, for hope. On the roof top of an apartment building on the outskirts of the city, a family of blue skinned women watch the approaching White Giant. Arms wrapped around each other, determined to face the end together, they wait for its approach.

Or at least, until the smallest of them points to the sky and shouts.


...


A massive ship, bulky and ugly and blocky, burns through the atmosphere. Wind screams against the hard angles of its surface. Patches of honeycomb blue light bleed off fire and paint in equal measures.

Jets on the underside fire, and the sheer mass of the dreadnought screams in protest. On the underside, a bay that takes up nearly half of its length opens, doors grinding apart with a shower of sparks and a blast of red flame.

"Initiating stage one."

The flame burns in time with the turbine- first red, then blue, then white. As it spins, lights flicker on. First on plates of purple metal which flank the turbine. Then along pylons and a waist of something vaguely humanoid and as tall as the White Giant. Then strips of green flicker and glow steady, running the length of each arm, each leg.

Finally, two eyes, built into the sides of a demonic mask, glow gold. The White Giant witnesses this, and stops its approach to the city. Instead, it turns, and begins a mark towards the approaching dreadnought.


...


"Angel spotted. Looks like a Seed." The accented voice rings in his ears. Deep breaths in the LCL and he nods, tightly gripping the butterfly controls. "We're preparing for drop. Ready, bosh'tet?"

He nods. Blue eyes open behind the grayed out faceplate. He rolls back his shoulders, sitting up in the chair, feet pressed against the foot pedals. "Ready and waiting. System check?"

The blank gray walls of the entry plug hum. He can feel the presence in the back of his head. Even as the technicians fire off checks in clipped, high pitched voices, he feels them- feels the hum of the engine, the grinding of the armor, the weight of fresh ordinance.

So what do you say, the voice in the back of his soul chimes, Ready to get into my head?

"You first, Mom." He smirks. The light on his helmet's mouthpiece glows in time. "Age before beauty."

"Pilot psychograph; stable. Core psychograph; stable." A clipped, high pitched voice, followed by a sudden intake of breath. "Synchronization in 3...2...start!"

And he sees his life play before his eyes- not just his life, but a life like his, criss-crossing with his own. He sees himself through older eyes, and he sees another life- her life- from both her own perspective and his as a child. Beholding her first like a titan, then like a human.

He sees five years. Waking up along and afraid. The first hands given in friendship.

First rejections. Suspicion and fear.

Pain. Anger. Red eyes opening in darkness.

"Give. Her. Back."

There is a lull. A brief emptiness, his mind meeting the other.

Synchronization.

The control system of the Evangelions, developed by Project E.

Two souls merging together through memories and emotions to control the body of a god machine.

The deeper the bond, the better you fight.

The walls turn prismatic and then shatter. The form around him, the frame around him, shudders in time with his rolling shoulders. "Synchronization holding at 73%," another clipped voice announces, "Activating the Evangelion."


...


Massive purple hands clench into fists. Explosive bolts release, and the giant drops out of the bay, burning through the air and towards the surface. The White Giant strides towards it- the dreadnought having escaped into the clouds. The god on the surface extends a hand towards the violet and emerald giant descending from on high, and releases a lance of burning white.

And the blast hits nothing. The Evangelion disappears in a burst of blue flame and white lightning, and a sphere of pure force slams into the Giant and drives both it and the Evangelion into the ground.


...


The screen shimmers in front of them, showing the Eva hopping backwards out of the crater- buoyed by jump jets in its legs and chest and the aura of shimmering blue around it. It weaves around the Giant- the ADAM, as it was explained to them- and flows around it to grab it in a headlock.

Red eyes narrow. Scaled lips pull down in a grimace. Then the Eva pulls a fist back and repeatedly drives its knuckles into the giant's back. Where the kidneys would be on most bipeds.

"There we go," he chortles, lips pulling into a smile, "Kidney punch! Kidney punch! And pause..." Everyone around him groans. He laughs. "Elbow to the skull! Just like I taught you!"

Fists on his hips, the turtle-like alien grins from ear to ear, side-set eyes watching the melee from on high. "Okay!" Urdnot Wrex barks, "If what we know's right, this is like the thing on Klendathu, and I don't want another Klendathu. That means it's control stick's somewhere nearby!"

"Already found it!" Wrex turns to the second image appearing over the holographic map of the planet, and the helmeted girl that has commandeered their attention, "Shinji! Lance incoming!"


...


An arm thrusts out, white fire shaping it into a lance. It drives towards the anathema's heart, but reflects off a wall of ringing gold. Light gathers around the extended finger of the Seed-Core, and blazes out into cleansing fire. To burn soul, flesh, and machine.

Unit-01 simply flashes cerulean and appears next to the ADAM, cracking knuckles before driving her fist into the side of the White Giant's face.

The ADAM stumbles back, white phosphorous prints in the crater outside the city limits. Striding through the smoke, the pulverized rock, the debris- the Evangelion closes the distance with speed belaying its bulk. It swings its left fist into the White Giant's gut and there is the sound of snapping bone, grinding stone.

Grabbing one of the wings and yanking back, the Evangelion brings the Seed's head up just in time for another punch to the face. Bringing its arm back, the Eva's eyes glow blue. Inside the plug, the pilot grinds his teeth.

"Impact Lance!" he yells.

Green lights run the length of the forearm. A blossom of vermillion folds out from the back of the Evangelion's elbow, and erupts into a lance of golden white. Driving her fist into the White Giant's head, the light warps, shudders, and erupts from the Eva's fist.

The skull of the Angel shatters, a lance of violet and emerald blasting it clean off. A frigate flies overhead, and in time with its passing a bone white, double headed spear drives into the ground next to the crater.

The Angel twitches, its head already reforming. Wings of flame extend from the crater, angry red lines spiderwebbing out. Perhaps, the voice says in the back of his soul, You should have gotten the lance before you wounded the Seed enough to initiate an Impact?

"Not helping, Mom!"

Yanking the spear from the ground, the weapon twice the height of the Evangelion, Unit-01 brings its foot down on the White Giant's crotch. Both hands wrapped around the lance, the Eva brings it up. The heads rotate, going from parallel to a noon-and-seven o'clock formation.

Right! Configuration set! Would you kindly save this world?

The lance drives into the Core of the Seed. White fire and red flame erupt from the crater, consuming both physical god and man-made god. It becomes a pillar stabbing into the sky, blasting past the orbiting dreadnought and the returning picket fleet. It becomes eight wings extending to the stars themselves.

And then collapses back into itself, leaving a crater outside an undamaged city, and the Evangelion standing over the inert Seed.

"This is Unit-01." A thundering footstep and it exits the crater. "Angel neutralized."

And the dreadnought, ships, and city erupt into cheers.


...


Accessing: Makinami, M

Password: allthefistings

Access Granted

Accessing: Personal Logs.

Evangelion Unit-02:

Pilot: Sohryu, Asuka Langley

Height: 62 meters, 34 centimeters.

Weight: 15,734 tons.

Clocked Top Running Speed: 922 mph

Special Attack: Elbow Rocket

Katsuragi: Is Mari editing the data files on her MAGI backup to give the Evas special attacks again?

Ibuki: Yep. There's something magical about that mindset. Probably comes from her being recruited after the clusterfuck with the Twelfth Angel.

Katsuragi: I'm starting to suspect the thing in Gogoki's core is her self-restraint.

Ikari: Impossible. If it was, she would have restraint when piloting and wouldn't shout out her attacks at the top of her lungs.

Ibuki: He has a point. Mari's still trying to get rocket boosters attached to Gogoki's drill arm.

/Katsuragi sighs.

Katsuragi: I'm going to find the people who made that anime. I'm going to stick them in an Eva's core. And then I'm going to launch that Eva into the Sun.

Ikari: You have learned well, my student.

Ibuki: Is this like that thing you did, where you kept giving me hints that you were my father? Are you going to start doing that with Katsuragi, now?

/Ikari has left the chat.

Katsuragi: Shifty bastard.


...


The rings of black metal rotate around a sun, three perfectly sculpted circles around a pulsing sphere of white fire. Despite the light, there is no heat. Despite the brightness, it does not breach the red metal surrounding it- a containment system, refined over five years, to hold back the infinite power at its fingertips.

In the Cage, the standard army of technicians perform their maintenance- the spot welds on containment, the dents hammered out by pressure hammers. Circuitry checked by men and women in suspended hazmat suits, joints and frames spot checked, spot welded.

Overseeing it all, she stands on the highest catwalk above the crimson titan's crowned head.

Arms folded under her chest, the beige jacket is tied around her waist like a hipskirt, flanking the black, red piped legs of the plugsuit. The red, solid shoulders and chestpiece still bead with golden red liquid, and the blue indicator between her breasts glows strongly.

Lips pulled back into a smirk, she meets the four green eyes of her Titan with her own crystal blue orbs. Two white protrusions peak atop her mane of strawberry blonde hair, still humming with blue.

"Hey! Asuka!" She breaks her staring contest with Unit-02, and braces a hand on the railing behind her. A single, smooth motion, and the mounts the railing, standing on it with the glow of the S2 engine backlighting her.

Several levels down, waving her beret, Misato taps her foot. "Get down from there and come on! The Commander wants to see us!"

Asuka Langley Sohryu sniffs imperiously. This, naturally, catches all of no one by surprise, even when she dismounts from the catwalk with the practiced grace of an olympic gymnast. Hopping from railing to railing, she descends one level, then another. Each hop punctuated by ringing bells and faint chimes.

Kicking off a final railings, she leaps towards the bridge stretched over the amber coolant river at Misato's feet. But rather than running across the bridge, she stabs her feet into the air and runs across the wall of golden light that appears next to her.

The sunlight wall underneath Asuka's feet disappear, in time with her red boots hitting metal floor. There is the sound of ringing bells, and the chest piece closes over the S2 engine and Unit-02's core.

Misato rolls her eyes. "The Evangelion is not a toy." There is little conviction behind those words. Five years and there is acceptance. "C'mon. Commander's waiting." She hands over a towel and cuffs Asuka on the shoulder. Letting the pilot drape the cloth over her shoulders, Misato pulls her into a one armed hug, and the two women walk out of the Cage with a well-earned laugh.


...


The size of a small moon, it hangs in the void. Ancient, unknowable, indestructible and irreplaceable. Stone a deep, cerulean blue warped into prongs that seem to go on forever. Obsidian rings spin around a blue star, built at the center of an arcane, curved superstructure.

There is a flash of lightning. Time, space becoming mere suggestions, and the void releases a shape. Long and blocky, it is shaped less like a great dagger, more like a bludgeon. Hard edges taper off at the front into two rounded extensions like blunted blades. Wings fold out along its length, eight in all, like a megascale insect.

Dozens of engines flare along its spine, leading to four massive bursts of blue light at its aft. Bathed in the light of the Mass Relay, the dreadnought waits. Dozens of smaller ships- frigates, pickets, shuttles- burst into existence around it, like fledglings following a mother bird.

The dreadnought and its escorts accelerate towards the garden world well out of visual range. As they do, the light catches the side of the massive ship, and illuminates the two dozen monster silhouettes painted on its side.


...


The green circle disappears in time with her hand swiping through it. A burst of stale, cycled air and the door parts- two parts into the floor, one part into the ceiling. Two toed feet, clad in black boots coming up the curve of her knees, clap in time with her swaying walk.

The gray, red trimmed hip skirt slides along her hips, three fingered hands alternating between loose balled fists and fidgeting fingers. Eyes glance beneath the vermillion glass covering her face, eyeing the projectors on the ceiling, the lights on the floor.

Orange screens hover, one against the full wall window, one on the spartan metal desk propped against the wall. One hovering over him, his omnitool still lit and manifest on his left arm. His other hand is sprawled against the white sheets, his mouth open and snoring.

The blue and black plugsuit still beads with LCL- some of which leaked onto the sheets- and his head has managed to stick to a pillow. Black hair slick and sticky, the young man slumbers in both exhaustion and satisfaction. And, she notes with a faint smile, a good amount of hormones, if what she's seeing is right.

"Oh my. Lia, have you come to molest my son when he's sleeping?" Lia squeaks, turns, and steps back when she comes face to face with the blue sphere. "At very least, you could have had the courtesy of telling me first. I could have offered tips."

Lia'Nelzi vas Death Star squeaks, takes a quick step back, and promptly trips on a lazily discarded thermos that she will lecture Shinji about at length. After she falls on him, of course. Shinji Ikari yelps, opens his eyes, and finds the quarian girl sitting on his lap. He looks down, goes completely still.

She looks down, eyes two glowing circles behind the facemask. She wiggles her hips, hands up and arms folded under her chest.

Rolling her shoulders back, she shuffles to the side, ignoring the pained squeaks and grunts from the young man underneath him. "Oh, goooood," the sphere purrs, "Let me call Doctor Solus. He and I have been brainstorming on some possible workarounds for the biochemical barrier."

"Mom," Shinji yelps, "It's not like that."

"It really isn't," Lia adds, and turns to Shinji, "It better not be like that." She turns back to the sphere. "It's not like that! He's just a slob and I tripped. It's not like that!" She cocks her head imperiously, the light at the base of her helmet glowing in time with her tongue click.

The blue sphere produces a red line, crossing its equator. "Yui cares not from whence the grandbabies flow." The line narrows. "Only that there are grandbabies."

The light on the end of Lia's mouthpiece glows with the sound of her sucking teeth. Shinji blanches, reaches over, and places his hands on Lia's waist. He lifts her up, mouthing an apology, and pulls himself out from under her. "Mom, that was creepy. Even for you."

The red line rotates. "And that's adorable that you deny it. Because remember, when you pilot, I get to see in your head." Shinji clenches his eyes shut, holding up a finger. Lia turns to the sphere, two narrow slits where her eyes should be. "Oh, come now, Lia. If I tell you Shinji's fantasies, it won't be a surprise when you do them in real life."

With that, the sphere floats up into the ceiling and disappears. Shinji lets go a long held breath, sitting up. He turns, opens his mouth, and closes it under Lia's glare. "Fantasies," she says. Not a question, not an exclamation, just a statement.

"You caught me," he deadpans, "I can't contain my burning lust to ravish you while my mother brainstorms how to create human alien hybrids."

The mouthpiece glows. It glows steadily, glowing eyes blinking. Then she gently shoves him onto his back, swings her leg over his waist, and straddles him. "Really, now?"

He rolls his eyes. "Weren't you offended by that?" He props himself up on his elbows. "I mean, aren't you supposed to be offended by that?"

A faint giggle and she folds her arms, shifting back and sitting on his knees. "I don't know. Fact that you're a slob offends me more than you looking at my chest like a teenage shut-in."

"In all honesty, I tend to pay more attention to your hips."

A scoff and a cock of her head. "You and every turian I've ever met." She gently presses her hand against his chest and climbs off of him and the bed. Walking to the window, hands folded behind her, she sashays, adding an all-too deliberate sway to her strut. She grins at the stars and knows he's watching her the entire way.

"So where are we going?" He climbs off the cot, the blue lightning permeating the view giving way to unaltered, undistorted space. "Admittedly, I was wiped from Leesia, so I didn't exactly ask." He rubs the back of his head, pulling off the pillow stuck to his hair. Kicking aside the thermos, he pads across the cramped, spartan, and messy room.

His answer comes in the form of a screen opening in front of him, and the face of Urdnot Wrex. "Great, you're still dressed. Doctor, did I interrupt anything?"

Another screen opens. The aged, orange and white skinned Salarian with a single cranial horn shakes his head. Disappointment is...evident...in his voice. "No. Hormonal levels nominal but not denoting arousal levels past standard interaction."

Wrex grunts. "Fine. If we interrupted anything, I'll give you two time for heavy petting. If not, get your asses to the command deck. Time I keyed you both in on where we are and why we're here."

Both screens close. The two youths stare at the screens, where they were. Then Lia shakes her head and silently shuffles out. With Shinji happily following two steps behind.


...


Lights flood the dome at the heart of the dreadnought, a map of the galaxy zooming into a single world. Color floods it the hologram, and it becomes blue, green, and white. From a distance, it looks familiar. Like a home he hasn't seen in five years. A part of Shinji's heart aches, but he pushes it down. This is his home.

It's a better home than he ever had on Earth.

The second floor of the command center has come alive with the sounds of orders, commands, data. All translated through the orange construct on his left arm. He walks alongside Lia, past the banks of computers, past the floating, wall-sized maps. Over to the projector at the center, where Wrex is waiting, alongside Doctor Solus and a blue-skinned woman with swept back tentacles on her head.

"Good, you're here," Wrex rumbles, and turns to the woman, "Tevos?"

Ambassador Tevos nods, tapping the console in front of her with one fluid motion. The black, white lined jumpsuit creaks slightly in that way only a hormonal teenager notices, and Shinji is once more reminded of why the Asari control the galaxy.

"This planet is...contested," she explains, holograms of the planet switching to emblems of other races, other governments, "The Batarian Hegemony has laid claim. The Asari have, as well. There is historical evidence of a Krogan claim, and signs of Migrant Fleet historical activity."

"Considering it's a levo-based world, wasn't smart," Lia observes. She shrugs, arms folded in response to Tevos' glare. Lia cocks her head, and Tevos continues.

"Yes," the ambassador continues, folding her hands behind her and circling the console, "However, an Asari dispatch expedition from Thessia has uncovered a find. A beacon." She taps the console again. The holograms fold into a monolith, smooth and tall, with green lights running along it. "Of Prothean origin."

Lia blinks. Wrex grunts. Mordin cocks a hairless brow. "Protheans," Shinji repeats, "They were the ones who created the Mass Relays, right?"

He shuffles to the side, a pink jellyfish swimming through the air past him. Tevos nods, and turns to the salarian for clarification.

"Theoretically," Mordin states, "Disappeared, fifty thousand years ago. Status on expedition." A swift, sharp intake of breath. "Unknown."

"But last transmission was about something big and ugly heading their way." Wrex grunts. "Shinji, go get in your mother. Lia, you're with me, Mordin, and Reegar. Let's go kill us an Angel."

The quarian girl tilts her head. Shinji rubs the back of his neck. "Get in my mother. That's...ah...that's kind of blatant, Wrex," he observes.

"Even for you," Lia adds.

Wrex shrugs. As if summoned by the understones of incest and maternal issues, the familiar blue sphere appears next to the ancient krogan. "No, no," it says in the dulcet tones of Yui Ikari, "Wrex is just being honest. It's no different than what everyone thought after they found that Unit-01 was piloted by a long phallic tube filled with the menstrual blood of an alien god machine possessed by the soul of Shinji's insane mother."

Mordin coughs, tapping on his omnitool. Shinji buries his face in his hands with a weak sob.

"So, let's stop bickering," she chirps, "And get my son inside me."


...


Atmosphere hits the smooth edges of the dreadnought, red flame reflecting off its kinetic barriers. Banking the hard, bladed nose upwards, the main cargo bay grinds open. Arms held aloft, legs pinned together, the eyes of the Evangelion glow white in time with its activation.

Squat and long, shuttles speed past the dreadnought. Passing by the open cargo bay, past the smooth edges, they become blue dots receding into the distance and towards the Relay. Like expanding debris, the ships escape, one at a time, then two, then three at a time. All sending out messages of panicked distress.

Until a flash of red light, a beam of crimson, blasts a shuttle as it clears the atmosphere.

Inside the entry plug, Shinji stares at the debris cloud, eyes wide. "Wrex?"

"Still not getting a blue pattern, kid. But damned if that doesn't look like an Angel." On the floating screen, Wrex grimaces and turns to something out of Shinji's field of view. "I said hurry up!" Turning back to Shinji, he nods. "We're dropping you at the source of that blast. I'm already in the shuttle, and we'll meet you at the dig site."

And the screen closes. Taking a deep breath, Shinji feels the Evangelion tense beneath him. Reaching out, he taps a floating screen and lets a single line become an arc. The words CiC flash on the screen. "This is Unit-01," he says, "Release for drop."

A flash, followed by slowly expanding rings from the restraints, and the Evangelion drifts from the open cargo bay. Bursts of blue fire along its spine and arms push it towards the unnamed world. It hits the atmosphere with a flash of its barriers, slowly twisting into a head-first nose dive.

Past the escaping shuttles, past the fleeing frigates. Shinji hears something, a voice that grinds into the back of his soul, and reacts by instinct. He throws up his hands. Mirroring his actions, the Eva does the same, and a red blast deflects off the golden wall between the Eva, the shuttles, and the ground below.

Again, he hears the sound. Some pulling, breaking thing that makes him grind his teeth and close his eyes. Turning, spinning through the sky, the Evangelion descends streaking fire and clouds. Twisting, thrusting its feet down, the lines of its armor glow emerald.

And the Evangelion impacts with the sound of thunder and an explosion of loose dirt.

"Unit-01 has landed," Shinji states, "Engaging the..."

He blinks. The Evangelion stands, the air around it flashing violet and blasting away the dust. In the distance, Shinji watches a mountain shift and begin moving towards him.

"...angel?"

Great, three toed feet tear up blasted and burnt soil. Four massive, metal legs carry the oversized, swept-back body along. Dust and flickering rays of sunlight reflect off the shell of black and gunmetal.

Hanging underneath it, tentacles like a squid flicker and twitch. Above them, a set of eight eyes set into a curved line focus on Unit-01. Focus on Shinji.

It is, he figures, at least as big as the Evangelion. It is, according to the voice of his mother, a damn sexy feat of engineering.

The four legged giant cares not for their thoughts. Instead, it marches towards them, crushing low lying hills and charred bodies in its wake. The dust and ash clouds slide across its hull, not sticking. As if they are afraid of it, almost as much as Shinji, who fights down the chill in his gut.

A high pitched whine from the massive, alien thing, and it lets loose a bass roar. It shakes the chair Shinji sits in, makes his teeth ache. "Alright," he whispers, "Command! I am engaging the Angel."

And with a muffled roar of its own, Unit-01 charges at the advancing mountain.


...


There is a shriek. She turns in mid run, jerking forward and almost falling, but stops herself with her hands. Scrambling on all fours, she ducks into the open doors, and curses when they don't close. Of course they don't close, she tells herself, they, it, them cut the power when they attacked.

It started with an unknown contact coming out of the Relay. Then the rain started. Silver rain, high from orbit. Whoever was hit by it...changed. First in behavior. Becoming unresponsive. Becoming cold- to the touch, both physical and mental.

Then they began to change. Metamorphosize. Blue skin became reflective and black. Eyes once vibrant and filled with life became empty and dead. By the time the picket ships found the satellite, half the colony were infected. They began feeding on the other half.

She's been running since. Running through the hard domes of the residences, through the open corridors of the fabrication hall. Hiding, running, praying.

Looking past the counter of the reception desk she's hidden behind, she watches with wide blue eyes the same color as her skin. She watches the lurching figure- the figures, because she's realized that there are three of them- advancing. Towards her.

Glancing side to side, up and down, she looks for an exit from the metal cubicle. Finds none. "Oh goddess," she whispers, "Oh goddess oh goddess oh goddess-"

And then one of the creatures drops with a thunder crack, its head gone. Then another boom that makes her squeak and whimper, then a third. In three seconds, the three creatures have dropped, unmoving and still.

Then the roof panel of the cubicle opens, and her savior drops down. At first glance, the shape of the feet, the curves and lines of its legs and waist make her believe it is a quarian- she heard rumors that the Eva was en route after all.

But when she peaks her head up to thank her savior, she comes face to face with a single eye on the elongated head of the black skinned synthetic standing in front of her. Its eye shifts, and four petals extend from its head.

"Come with me if you want to live."

The asari girl continues staring at the artificial man in front of her, and manages a short, squeaky, "'Kay." And she takes the synthetic man's proffered hand.


...


The red beam cuts through the ground, through low buildings, and reflects off a golden wall that chimes with ringing bells. Hands extended, the strips along its limbs glowing green, Unit-01 takes a step forward and disappears. The blast burns the air, sheering a mountain in the distance. Then goes wild when the Eva appears behind it and drives a fist into its side.

A bass roar and the metal giant shifts. Vents open at its sides and points of light appear on the surface of the Evangelion's armor. Shinji's swear echoes through the speakers built into Unit-01's neck, and the resulting explosions shear armor and shove the Eva back.

Deep within, past the physical, she watches this with half-hearted interest.

Her son will reign victorious. He always does. As much credit is given to her for the rampages and the sheer power she commands, her interventions are few and far between. Sitting within a world of thought suspended in the interlocking complex of her own design, a young woman opens her eyes with a wry smile.

She determined within seconds of encountering this machine that it was just that- a machine, puppeted by something else. To the outside world, it was seconds. To her, much longer. The world around her shifts, interlaced crystal becoming a clear green field.

The tree once more appears behind her, shading her. A shadow that is the professor as she views him stands next to her. Rising, dusting off calf-cut khakis and straightening her labcoat, she walks across the placid lake and towards the light.

While the machine was but a toy, she did want to see what was controlling it. Yui Ikari smiles and reaches out, in hand and thought, without hesitation.

The thought races across space, a network of alien intelligence opening itself up and welcoming her. She smiles. Such naiveté. Such confidence.

"So," she says, "What are you?"

The answer comes first as silence. A darkening of the sky above. Stepping back on the water, ripples radiating from her feet, she looks up.

It speaks in thunder, and with the authority of a god looking down on high.

Through union of He who was I AM and She who was I BECOME were we formed.

Through Cycle and Perfection were we made.

We are the realization of the Engineers.

We are the Children of Leviathan.

We are the Vanguard.

We are the Perfect Sovereign.

We are Nazara.

And for a brief moment, Yui Ikari thinks to herself that she may be too curious for her own good.


...


"We apologize for misstating our intentions. We do not wish violence towards organics, and chose poorly when deciding on introductory dialogue." The asari girl continues screaming, arms locked around its neck, legs wrapped around its waist and carries along its back. A jerk to the side and they dodge a falling bit of roof, a sudden stop and the metal giant's foot comes down in front of them.

A bass roar and the four legged thing advances towards its enemy, towards the purple titan charging at it.

The girl stop screaming, watching with wide eyes. Watching the vermillion giant grapple with the monster, pushing it back, grinding feet against the ground to push it away from the settlement. "It's the Eva!" she shouts, "They sent it!"

The petals extend along the flashlight. They flatten, and the synthetic continues running, underneath the four legged giant and towards prospective safety. "Noting Evangelion combat effectiveness." They run, shifting side to side to avoid falling debris and stepping giants. "Uploading analysis to Consensus. Modifying Angelic Combat Platforms."


...


A grunt. Thought becomes action and the Eva digs its heels, grappling a metal giant twice its size, and all Shinji thinks is this is not the biggest thing I've fought I am not scared I am not running away. For the bravery, for the accomplishments, there is still a kid out of his depth.

But he doesn't hide it. He doesn't hold it back. He lives with it, his fear giving him strength.

Grinding teeth, he feels the heat of the blast from the thing's mouth. But he can't help but feel that despite its size, despite its strength, this isn't an angel.

Green strips glow and fill the air with viridian, forming an orange wall between the Eva and the rampaging beast. "Mom! Sitting duck! Get us behind it!" No response. No responses at all for the past several minutes.

A low sigh and exhaled breath. Abandoned by his mother, left in situations completely beyond his depth, and at the mercy of the universe. Story of his life.

"EDI. Boot up!"

The transparent walls of the entry plug dim red. Lights paint him, screens forming and hovering in a circle around him and closing around his head. The butterfly controls unlock with a faint hiss of steam and come loose, the chair shifting forward to allow him freedom of movement.

"Enhanced Defense Intelligence online, Shinji. Biotics offline." A faint blue light forms into a sphere with a green line running vertically. "Checking databases. This doesn't match any known angelic profiles."

"Nope." Shinji taps the buttons on the inside of the right control. There is a loud click, and he brings up his arm. At his right, the Evangelion's arm comes up, the brace of its expanded right forearm flashing before blasting the four legged egg-thing in the face.

Green lines along the limbs of the Evangelion darken and turn red. Another blast to its face blasts off two of the eyes, and the metal giant stumbles back. Back, past the ruined walls of the encampment, past the ruins of its attack, past the landing shuttles. It blasts the Evangelion's left arm when it comes for another blow, sheering off armor, burning flesh.

Shinji bites his lip works through the pain.

The shoulder pylons of the Eva open up and blast the giant in the eyes with flack, followed by a kick to the face that lifts it off its front two feet.

Which gives the Evangelion just the opening it needs to drive its right fist into the giant's firing chamber.

The red light surrounds it, fusing the armor of the gauntlet, making Shinji feel like he shoved his hand into fire. But the eyes around the weapon dim, and the giant drops back, twitching its legs like an overturned turtle.

"This is Unit-01," Shinji breathes, "What...ever it was, neutralized."


...


She embraces the unity and singularity at the center of the Mind. When one looks into the abyss, does the abyss look into you. She has long since done so; long since stared into the center of the horror and insanity deep within and she has shown it neither fear nor quarter. Even the blood-bleaching of her world, the red light pouring forth, does not deter her.

For she is Yui Ikari. She is the Mother and Testament. Letting her physical imagery fall away, she becomes Thought and Purpose. Riding along the rails of the NazaraMind.

Even still, she is Human. Her mind processes these thoughts that she views in human terms. Human images. She watches the beginning, unfurling from zero point. Of a great light on a nameless world.

Standing amidst billions of entities, billions of being she sees as human-but-knows-are-not, she watches as the light rises into a column. Observes something- like them, but greater, godlike, rise and catch them in rapture.

But she does not pray. She does not embrace the song that washes over the endless race she views the memories of. For she will not listen. For she will sing.

"You're testaments," she says, "But something else. Not sure what."

Tapping her lip, she reaches out- with thought and will, into the hidden blood-colored crevices of this post-being's memory. Confirming theory, confirming thought, she presses her light against its. Watches the the names lining up, and taps a single familiar one.

.SOL START

HYBERNATION END

RELAY ACTIVATE SEQUENCE

"Time to go home," she says with a smile.

And then the blood red light vanishes.

And then the sun rises, bleaching the unity in its light. Yui Ikari once more curses her curiosity and sense of self, for she recognizes that once more, she has stepped in it. Stepped in it deep.

It stands before the god-entity and her like God on High. Around her does the red recede, leaving her naked in front of it. Leaving her alone in front of it. It does not stride, it does not advance, for it is too vast to need to.

"Well," she says, "You're big. Est." That human part of her allow herself to be impressed. "What are you?"


...


The red eyes of the Destroyer flash open, and with speed belaying its size it is upright once more. Crimson lightning playing over its hull, it speaks in clicks and tones, and leaps upon Unit-01 to wrap its legs around the Evangelion's torso.

"This vessel is now mine," a voice booms, bass and resembling nails upon glass, "Retrieve the Evangelion."

Blue lightning flashes over the pair, wrapping them in a cocoon of cerulean, and the metal beast shoots off into the sky, the Evangelion in its death grip.


...


Even through the thick fluid of the entry plug, Shinji finds himself slammed into the acceleration couch. Gel and smart materials cushion his back and head in a manner akin to a soft bed or a friendly hanar. Still, it knocks the wind out of him and makes his vision blur.

"EDI! The hell was that?!"

The blue sphere appears next to him. The transparent walls of the entry plug fill with blue lightning and burning atmosphere. "It appears that the entity is attempting to abduct us. I am still unable to rouse Doctor Ikari. Additionally, atmospheric temperature is rising." The line along the ball's hemisphere turns green, then purple. "Hypothetically, it may be attempting an FTL jump."

Shinji swears, loud and at length. Fingers tap against the controls, feet pressing against petals in the floor of his seat.

Jets fire on the right shoulder of the Evangelion and on its right hips, spinning it in the death grip of the metal invader. The armor of Unit-01 grinds against the alien thing, sending hot red sparks flying off, running angry orange gouges along the chest and face of the Eva.

Until the entry plug fills not with atmosphere, but the maw of the thing, the giant, with eight eyes glowing crimson and staring directly at Shinji.

"We are running low on options, Shinji," EDI states. Ever calmly, ever factual. Shinji, on the other hand, quickly seizes the sole option remaining.

An orange screen lights up, and the side of his fist slams against it. It folds out into a symbol- like a cross, inverted. Or, more particular, like a-

"Sword: Deploying."

Bolts explode along the left arm of the Evangelion. From the loosened armor and exposed skin, metal plates flail out- flowing out one by one, held together by wires almost invisibly small against the limb of the Evangelion.

One by one, dozens in total, they whip out, curring into the restraining leg of the Destroyer, before cutting enough room for the Evangelion to throw out its arm- and the plates snap together into a forearm mounted longsword. Red lights run along the edges of the blade. A faint hum signals the startup of an engine inside them.

"We're getting off here," Shinji breathes.

And the Evangelion swings. The blade drives through metal and circuity, staining itself with yellow and gold ichor that flows from the giant. There is a bass roar, a bass horn that becomes higher and higher pitch with every inch, every yard that the blade cuts in-

Before the scream cuts out completely. Coincidentally, the blade comes out the other end, and part of the giant continues skyward. The other half begins it's slow descent towards the world below, before both are consumed by an angry red flame.

And Unit-01 drops, like a sixty-meter tall stone, towards the world below.


...


The light from the swinging lamp illuminates the table, casting faint prismatic hues from the cups and the strong liquor contained within. The bar is filled with its usual noise- the thrum of music, shouts and calls, occasional drinking contests and muted fights. The three women at the table ignore that, however, bringing up their glasses and clinking them.

"Five years to the day," Misato sighs, "If we got'em back, I was gonna wring that little bastard's neck. What about you?"

"Hug him," Rei says, and turns to the redhead, "You?"

Asuka says nothing, then moves her free hand side to side. Rei stares at her, Misato chokes on her drink. "Blatant," Rei states, "Especially for you."

The redhead shrugs, still sipping her drink. "Yeah, well." She sighs, leaning back, her NERV uniform blazer wrinkled around her. "I was fourteen. I mean, I kissed him, chances are I'd be doing more stuff with him if he made it out of there."

Rei cocks an eyebrow. Misato continues choking. During all this, Asuka Langley Sohryu watches. Her lips quirk and warble, and she looks down on the oversized beer mug and the amber brew within. Folding her arms, leaning back, she muses on it while Rei takes the opportunity to tease Misato, and Misato gives just as hard as she gets. The redhead thinks back to five years ago, that turning point, when the black angel arrived following Ikari's passing and the incident with Unit-03.

"-no, explain to me slowly, Ritz!" Asuka looks up. Phone out, eyes narrowed, Misato attempts to murder the commander of NERV through a cellular signal. "What it is and how it's so awesomely powerful and horrifying that deploying Mari alone is the better option."


...


Light floods the entry plug. A predatory grin crosses the thin features of the young woman in the hot pink bodysuit. Glasses reflect off the illumination of the oversized lamps, pouring through the transparent walls. "Eighth Child is recognized. Metaneural handshake holding at 59%." Her grin only goes wider, wilder.

Sitting up, the twin tails of dark chocolate hair bob and wave in the blood-flavored liquid. Around her, twin pylons of green, gold lined metal hum with built in turbines. The low creak of superscalar muscle and sinew snaps her reality into focus. "Evangelion activated," Mari Illustrious Makinami announces, "Ready, Central Dogma."

A screen folds out to a woman with blonde hair and half-framed glasses. "This is Commander Akagi. An Angel is on approach to Tokyo-3. It has been designated the Twenty Ninth Angel. Your mission is to keep it from reaching the Geofront by any means necessary."

She nods. "Copy."

The secondary engines hum. Rings built around the entry plug turn, grinding against metal and making the LCL churn almost as hard as she is. "Okay, Gogoki," she purrs, "You ready to do this?"

In front of her, the steampunk accented monitor beeps an affirmative. Red hexagons float around the walls, telling her she will be as gods. And across the spinach and gunmetal screen, the thoughts of whatever dwells in Unit-05's core speaks to its pilot as it always does in a slow digital scrawl;

'CAST IN THE NAME OF GOD- YE NOT GUILTY'

"Eva launch!"


...


The walls of the fortress city rise, pillars of steel and concrete that girdle skyscrapers and towers. At first glance, this would be the same city. It would be Tokyo-3, the fortress city of the Evangelions. Stone, both man made and weather gifted, gird it like armor. Towers of glass shimmer like crystal. The horns of alarm rush through it like water bursting a dam.

But this is a city. And like any city, there is a government. There are leaders. Deep within, at the base of the tallest spire, there is the seat of government. But it is not offices, it is not the courts and seats of power of the fortress city.

At the center of this tower, there is the First. The Pale and Silent King. A corpse lord, silent and still and timeless, sitting on a throne of crystal built from the bones of his fellows. Upon his right hand, a golden figure listens to the wisps of red. They speak to him of great discoveries. He stands above them, around them. Occupying all around them despite remaining a single, featureless figure of sunlight.

"She recreates the works of the Celestial Architects." The voice is a booming horn, speaking like thunder on high. Before the silent lord, he raises a hand. The endless, infinite wisps stand at attention, a sea of red light before their elder.

"Awaken the vanguard. Find Ikari."

And aboard a pillar of rock and metal orbiting a dead star, four golden eyes open. The insectoid creature chirps, tilting its flat and elongated head, and speaks first with its own voice and then with the voice of a dreaming god. "And bring Ikari to us."

Startupsequence

JadedGatemakerofAges

FocusedExpedientSeeker

RadiantHunterofGods

Activate

And across dead worlds throughout the galaxy, long dormant eyes open and long dead gods awaken with a roar.


...


Overlooking the cavernous gap of holograms and organic circuitry, the raised platform of Central Dogma fills with lights, shouts, and announcements. Tapping the black shoe on the metal floor, the Commander of NERV unfolds her arms and adjusts the black jacket. The uniform is the same style- not the exact same, thank God, but similar enough. Better tailored, better fitting.

At least she didn't have to grow a beard.

"Silhouette confirmed," the brunette at the right most console announces, "IFF not responding." The screen hovers, zooming in on an approaching shape. Flanked by long, black tendrils. "Registering AT Fields matching to the Fourteenth Angel, Eleventh Angel, and some others we haven't been able to zero in on."

Beneath the pyramid stairway, a pair of doors open. Still in her black dress, bomber jacket hanging off one shoulder, Misato skids to a stop next to the commander of NERV. "Ritz, key me in."

Commander Ritsuko Akagi moves to push her glasses up her nose. Then stops. "It's silhouette matches one of the MP Evangelions, but it's modified with several artificial Angel cores. We're still trying to figure out why it's here." She looks up, as if for benediction or advice. "Ikari?"

Speakers crackle. A familiar, aged voice comes from on high with terrible and passive aggressive news. "It means that certain members of SEELE have noticed liver spots. Most likely, it's here to kill us all and attempt Third Impact with Lilith."


...


The carriage rises, a frame over a hundred meters tall and almost as wide. Braces of steel, carbon and industrial diamond, it flexes under acceleration but holds. Reaching the surface outside the raised walls of the fortress city, restraints release and its sole passenger disembarks.

Four clawed feet dig into the ground, leaving furrows in the grass landscape surrounding the fortress city. Its thin frame straightens up, the cyclopean eye over the golden visor flashing brightly. Clenching one two three fingered hand into a fist, the exiting behemoth brings up its right arm. Grooves built into the lance shimmer in evening condensation, and with the hum of the built in engine, the drill begins to spin.

Speakers built into the chest and shoulder fins of the Evangelion crackle. "This is Pilot Makinami to incoming Angel," she announces, "Prepare your anus!"

The shadow rises. The MP Evangelion, the white giant with black lips, cloaks itself in shadow. Shadow flexes out and becomes ribbons, hanging around it like a cloak, carrying it doll-like across the landscape. Its lips pull back into a smile and it sways, side to side, help aloft on obsidian spider legs before sending two tendrils swinging out.

They carve through hills, parting clouds, earth, and stone. Behind the Unit-05, a section of the wall slides diagonally down. Then the ribbons shatter and the golden wall appears with a sound of a ringing gong, flanking the emerald giant.

"Ha ha! Evangelions can never kill me! I love them too much!"

Jets blast out from the Eva's back and thrust the green behemoth forward, bringing its left arm back. Two pistons extend from the sides of its forearm. Its clawed, gripping hand flexes out fully. With a roar- both of the giant and the pilot, it slams its hand into the side of the MP Eva's head. Then the pistons slam back into place, and Evangelion Gogoki paints the landscape with the white giant's teeth.

The MP eva scowls- bones snap back into place, flesh knits itself. The Evangelion grabs the next swings, the blast wave tearing flesh and muscle- so much so that the hole is still visible a second afterwards, before the hand repairs itself. Black tendrils snap out around and behind the evangelion, wrapping around Gogoki and probing its AT Field for weak points.

Which gives the Evangelion an opening to drive the oscillating drill into the white giant's side.

The creature screams almost as loud as the engine shrieks. Black blood sprays out in a jet from its side, mixing with the ribbons that lash out, surround the green Eva's right arm, and yank it clean off.

"Motherfucker! I just had that arm installed!" Vents open along the shoulder fins. "Bitch don't know about my missile batteries!"

Which is followed by missiles exploding all over the MP Eva's face and driving it back.

Shaking its head, the black tendrils retract. Two feathered white wings burst from its back. The chest folds open, revealing a shining core of red crystal flanked by blue. It glows, flowing red and pin energy over the body of the MP Evangelion, rising into a deafening whine before blasting out into a beam of pure force.

Unit-05 raises its remaining arm. The blast hits a golden wall, washing over it, blackening the fortress wall and burning the soil beneath its feet to glass.

And then the heat is gone, the force is gone, but the beam remains. Inside the entry plug, Mari's eyes go wide when Maya's voice announces why.

"AT Field frequency shift! Angel Carrier is now exhibiting traits of the Fifteenth Angel!"

And Mari sees her life flash before her eyes. Unit-05 experiences its entire existence in the span of seconds, including the horrible, terrible truth of its true name. Both of them scream. Both of them cry out in pain- not the physical, but the soul tearing realization that they both realize.

Until the rocket impacts on the chest of the MP Eva, shattering the core and making the white giant reel back and collapse. Mari blinks, glasses fogged, A-10 connectors blinking on and off. Her world jerks and the LCL drains, leaving her sticky and wet and not in the good way.

The side of the plug opens with a jet of steam and the clunk of a rocket launcher being dropped on armor, and a hand grabs her by the crook of her elbow and yanks her out of her seat.

"C'mon, Distaff. Walk it off."

Mari blinks and looks up at the face of Asuka. The redhead mutters, throwing Mari's arm over her shoulder, and carries her out of the entry plug. LCL drips and stains the blue blouse and black dress, but the pilot of Unit-02 says nothing, helping her compatriot out, sitting her down next to the smoking rocket launcher.

Looking over her shoulder, Mari sees Katsuragi's car parked by Unit-05's foot.

"Thanks for the save," Makinami slurrs.

Asuka sighs. She looks up, shakes her head. "Don't thank me. It probably wasn't my best idea."

Mari shrugs, tilting her head. "Why's that? Whole thing with the unresolved tension? Me being a 'loose cannon' and us being rivals?"

Asuka points. Mari follows the finger, over the hills, over the walls, and towards the MP Evangelion which has gotten up and now stands in front of them. "Oh, right. Cause you didn't kill it."

The MP Eva roars. Bellowing out, it brings back an oversized fist. Ever protective, ever the mother hen of the pilots, Asuka steps in front of her team mate. Not that it will do anything, not that it will actually save them. But as it is, she still sees the flash of fire in the sky. "Now what?" she asks herself.


...


"AT Field detected!" More klaxons blast through Central Dogma. A second blue pattern warning flashes next to the floating big screen, pointing towards the vaguely humanoid shape descending in a fireball towards the city.

"It disengaged from the unknown contact," Maya continues, "Correlating to 10th Angel- negative. Correlating to 15th Angel- negative."

Gloved hands tap on the keyboard. Behind her, Misato lets off a relieved breath when the MP Eva turns from the still Unit-05 to the fireball. Then back to Maya when she announces,

"The Blue Pattern is transmitting an IFF signal!"


...


It slams into the ground far enough from them to not kill them with the shockwave. It sends up dust and dirt, a cloud of pulverized earth masking the arena, flooding the fortress city in an impact fog. Asuka manages to keep her footing, even in her low heels and even with her dress billowing out around her. Through splayed fingers, she sees the shape rising. Vaguely humanoid at first, she gives herself a faint flight of fancy on it being there to somehow help.

Then her breath catches in her throat and her eyes go wide when she sees the silhouette of the horn.

First there is the light from the turbine on its chest. Then the lines along the arms and legs glow, blasting away the cloud to reveal the titanic figure of violet and green. Fists opening, it levels its hands, taking a step forward and bracing itself before turning its lead hand around and gesturing the MP Evangelion forward.


...


Inside the entry plug, he lets off a held breath. He doesn't recognize the other girl on the unfamiliar Evangelion's shoulder, but he definitely recognizes the redhead. But he can think on that later. The white Evangelion begins its charge, either recognizing him as a bigger threat or whatever part Unit-01 was going to be in the old men's plans.

He takes a deep breath. The MP Evangelion charges. Sensors and vitals run over his eyes- the waiting dreadnought in orbit, the panicked yelling from Lia about what they found, even the kid they found on that planet with the beacon. He drowns them all out. He's tried to put it behind him in the five years it's been. Tried to focus not on this place but where he found himself. Telling himself that either they lived or they died.

He hears the familiar voices. He's known Tokyo-3, but a fraction of the time he was with the place he has called his home for half a decade. But he recognizes voices- Misato, Doctor Akagi, even his father. Then he mutes them all and narrows his eyes.

"Okay, get ready," he whispers, "This is for real."


...


Roaring, black tendrils flowing from the feathers of its wings, the MP Evangelion reaches out with extended fingers towards Unit-01's eyes. Then the purple giant flashes blue and disappears, appearing behind the Eva and grabbing its wings. It drives a heel into its back and pulls, painting the landscape with black and gold, yanking off the wings and lunging forward to grab the white giant in a headlock.

On Gogoki's shoulder, Mari pumps her fist. "C'mon Shogoki!" she shouts, "Kick his ass!"

Pulling and tearing off armor from the back of the Evangelion's neck, Unit-01 drives the side of its fist into the first of the artificial cores, shattering it with a plume of red crystal. The MP Evangelion roars. Petals of white lightning explode from its chest. Beady black eyes go wide. It can feel itself lessened. It can feel the power of Arael flowing away from it.

And then the MP Evangelion turns, grabs Unit-01 in a bear hug, and hurls it into Tokyo-3.

End Chapter 1