Neon Genesis Evangelion: Legacy
Episode IV: The Last Hope


Chapter 11 – Darkness Descends; Matarael Dissolves
December 4, 2015 – Comfort 17 Apartments

Asuka awoke on that Friday like it was any other day. Even if it was her birthday, she didn't want to make a big deal out of it. The last few times she's celebrated her birthday it was with either Kaji or Misato, and it had been a quiet affair. She had never had any friends to celebrate it with, so she just decided to avoid any problems and not say anything at all.

Asuka showered and got ready quietly and saw Shinji in the kitchen cooking lots German sausage and bacon.

"Morning Asuka." Shinji said happily. "How are you today?"

"Fine I guess." Asuka said. 'I wonder why he's cooking that… he must know about today, or he's just being nice… I doubt Misato remembers, the way she's been lately, I'm surprised she's capable of going to work at all.' Asuka thought.

"Well, maybe this will cheer you up, Asuka." Shinji said. "I finally got the order in I placed a few weeks ago, so we can have a bunch of your favorite food for breakfast." Shinji smiled. "I hope that's alright."

"It's great, thanks Shinji." Asuka said. 'I guess today won't be so bad after all.'

Shinji smiled as he served Asuka her plate and made one for himself and left two empty plates for Mari and Misato.

"I'm surprised you're up so early though." Shinji said. "Something on your mind?"

"Not really, just couldn't sleep anymore." Asuka said. "I figured I should just get ready for school instead of waiting for Mari to get out of the shower."

"Asuka, I'm curious, are you still mad at sharing your room?" Shinji asked.

"Not really, I just wish she had asked us both first, like I should have asked you before asking Misato if I could move in." Asuka replied. "I can understand why you were so angry when I took your room… and I'm sorry."

"You don't have to apologize Asuka." Shinji said. "I don't mind my smaller room… it's not like I have a lot of stuff." Shinji said.

"Still…" Asuka said.

"Don't worry about it." Shinji smiled. "I'm over it, Asuka."

"Good." Asuka said. "So, do you have any surprises planned for dinner?"

"No, probably just going to be something simple." Shinji said. "We have clean up duty today, remember? Hikari assigned it to us last week."

"Crap, I forgot." Asuka said. "Oh well, I know you'll do most of the cleaning like you do here."

"Well, I just clean faster than you Asuka, and if it gets us home quicker, so be it." Shinji said. "Besides, you and Mari help me sometimes. Especially with the dishes, which is nice, not having to cook and clean."

"Well, we can't just sit and mooch for no reason." Asuka said. "That's just plain rude!"

"Tell that to Misato…" Shinji said.

"Yeah, well, she drinks and works, so it doesn't leave a lot of time for anything else, does it?" Asuka said. "Plus, I bet she'll give you some line about a roof over our heads, so there really isn't a point in calling her out is there?"

"No, plus all the hell Mari puts her through, I guess it's fair enough." Shinji said.

"Yeah, Mari can be so harsh with her, like she acts older and more mature than Misato sometimes." Asuka said.

"Well, dumping out all her beer and sake wasn't mean, it was actually funny." Shinji said. "The part that was great is when she told her that she had no idea where it had all gone to."

"Well, it was more Misato's face that did it for me, really." Mari said. "Morning all, food smells great!"

"Yeah, well, it should, Shinji cooked." Asuka said.

"I'm not that great, Asuka." Shinji replied.

"No, puppy, you are, stop being so damn modest." Mari said. "Plus, you save us from Misato's poor excuse for cooking."

Mari piled food on her plate and sat down on Shinji's other side and dug in.

"See, me and Mari agree on something, you're a great cook." Asuka said.

"Well if you can both agree on something, than I guess it's true…" Shinji said.

"You bet your ass it's true." Mari said. "Don't sell yourself short all the time."

"Fine… if you'll both stop bugging me about it." Shinji said.

"Oh, agreeing to shut us up, eh?" Mari teased. "You're learning, puppy."

"Yeah, and maybe I can teach you two how to do laundry…" Shinji joked.

"Not likely, baka." Asuka said. "I don't get all the symbols on the tags, so I'll just leave that complex shit to you."

"You're so generous, Asuka." Shinji said.

"Oh, good breakfast!" Misato said stumbling out of her room.

"Shit, if she's awake…" Asuka said loudly.

"We're gonna be late!" Mari said louder.

The three of them shot up and grabbed their bags and ran to the door.

"Bye, Misato!" Shinji called as they ran out the door.

–––

Rei was floating silently inside a tank of LCL in a darkened room. She was naked and trying to rest her eyes after having been in the tube for over 10 hours. Rei opened her eyes to see Gendo and Ritsuko looking at her.

"Rei are you alright in there?" Gendo asked.

"Yes, Commander." Rei replied. "I am quite fine in here."

"No discomfort from the extended time in the LCL?" Ritsuko asked.

"No, Dr. Akagi, I am fine." Rei replied. "Although, I did have plans for later today, if that is alright."

"Well, the test is almost done, and school will be over." Ritsuko said. "You'll be free in about an hour, is that alright?"

"More than acceptable, Dr. Akagi." Rei replied.

"Rei, what plans do you have?" Gendo asked.

"I have been invited to a party by Shinji." Rei said. "I thought it may be… enjoyable."

"What sort of party, Rei?" Ritsuko asked.

"Well, all Shinji told me was that it was a surprise." Rei said.

"Well, that sounds fun, Rei, I hope you enjoy yourself."

"Yes… I do hope you have fun, Rei." Gendo said. "Although if you ever feel uncomfortable you can always leave."

"I have never felt uncomfortable around Shinji, Commander." Rei replied. "I doubt I could feel discomfort anywhere within his vicinity."

"Why do you say that, Rei?" Gendo asked.

"Since he saved my life, I have felt… safe… around him." Rei said.

"Intriguing…" Gendo said. "I'm glad you've made friends with Shinji, Rei."

"As am I, Commander." Rei replied. "I am… fortunate… to have befriended him."

–––

Shinji and Asuka were walking home from school. They were a bit behind as Asuka had knocked over the mop bucket by mistake, making a large mess they both cleaned up. Thankfully Shinji was able to pick up the mess relatively quickly, and Asuka helped, and apologized to Shinji profusely, and also blamed the bucket for being stupid and tippable.

"Stupid fucking bucket, who has a bucket that can tip that easily?!" Asuka said angrily.

"No, idea, Asuka…" Shinji said.

"A moron, that's who designs a bucket that way!" Asuka said. "I'm gonna tell Hikari to get us a different bucket so that doesn't happen again!"

"Well, just tell her in the morning." Shinji said. "Don't bug her while she's home about that, it can wait till then."

"Yeah, yeah." Asuka said. "Sorry for complaining so much, Shinji. I know I can be tiring."

"It's ok, Asuka." Shinji said. "You're not tiring, it's ok to complain about stuff."

"Thanks, Shinji." Asuka said. "So, what's for dinner?" Asuka asked as they approached the apartment.

"No idea…" Shinji said. "Have anything in mind?"

"Maybe some more of that food from this morning?" Asuka asked.

"Yeah, sure…" Shinji said. "I think I can handle that."

"Good, baka." Asuka joked. "You treat me so well."

"I try." Shinji said. "Oh, shit… I forgot my key, Asuka. Can you open the door?"

Asuka rolled her eyes. "Jeez, Shinji, how do you forget something like that?"

"Well, we were in a rush this morning, Asuka." Shinji said.

"Yeah… that's true." Asuka as she opened the door. "Why the fuck is it so dark in here? Is four eyes playing with herself with mood lighting or something?"

"SURPRISE!" The lights turned on and everyone inside the hallway shouted. "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ASUKA!"

"Wha…" Asuka said.

Hikari, Toji, Kensuke, Mari, Rei, Misato, and Kaji were standing in the hallway smiling widely, wearing party hats.

"It's a surprise party, Asuka." Shinji said. "I set it up."

"How did you know…" Asuka muttered.

"Well…" Shinji said. "I saw it in your file when Misato was going over stuff on her computer a few weeks ago. So, because it was coming up, I thought it would be nice if we celebrated it."

"So, you set this all up?" Asuka asked again.

"Of course he did, Asuka." Hikari said. "He told us all about it a week ago so we would be free. He also asked me set it up for you two to have cleaning duty so we could get here and hide for when you got home."

"Yeah, the puppy just told me to not say anything either, so that I wouldn't ruin the surprise. For some reason he didn't trust me…" Mari said.

"Yeah, he told me the other day." Misato said. "I didn't tell them about your birthday cause I thought you didn't like people to know."

"Yeah… I didn't… but I didn't have friends before now…" Asuka muttered. "So it seemed kinda… dumb to celebrate it."

"Nah…" Toji said. "You should always celebrate it, that way you can get tons a presents!"

"Or you know, just cash…" Kensuke said.

"Well… that could be nice." Asuka said.

"And I believe Shinji also baked you a cake." Rei said. "It looked quite delicious."

"Really?" Asuka said. "You went through all this effort?"

"Yeah, I did, it wasn't that hard." Shinji said. "I figured a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting would go over well."

"Wait, chocolate with chocolate?" Asuka asked.

Shinji blushed. "Yeah…"

"That sounds delicious…" Asuka said. "What else are we having?"

"Well, I ordered a bunch of German food to have it shipped in." Shinji said. "I thought that would be a nice surprise."

"It is." Asuka said.

"Hey, Asuka, perhaps you should say something to Shinji for setting this all up." Kaji said.

"Yeah, Shinji…" Asuka said, blushing slightly. "Thank you so much."

"You're welcome, Asuka." Shinji said.

"Now, let's eat!" Misato said.

After serving up a bunch of food and eating to their heart's content, with Rei avoiding the meat dishes in favor of the few vegetarian dishes, everyone cleared out much of the food Shinji had ordered, and leaving everyone near comatose, Shinji brought out the cake and lit the 15 candles.

"Ok, Asuka…" Shinji said happily. "Make a wish."

Asuka blew out the candles and thought about her wish. 'I have the same wish I always do… to find the friend I lost so long ago… '

After some cake, which Asuka and everyone else loved to death, including Shinji's homemade frosting, it was time for the gifts.

"Oooh, me first, me first!" Mari said handing Asuka a gift.

"Sure, four eyes, go ahead." Asuka said taking the gift and opening it. "Oh… this is nice." Asuka held up a video game cartridge, namely Street Fighter II.

"I saw your Game Boy in your room, and figured you might like to play a new game." Mari said. "I looked at your collection, and didn't see it, but I thought you might like it."

"Thanks, Mari." Asuka said. "Just stop going through my stuff…"

"No problem, princess." Mari said happily.

"This is for you, Asuka." Toji said. "Couldn't think of much, but thought you might like these."

Asuka opened the gift to reveal the four volumes of the Medabots manga. "Wow, these look interesting…" Asuka said.

"Well, I thought you might not like, ya know, typical chick manga, so I thought these would be pretty cool." Toji said. "Hope you like them!"

"Thanks, Toji." Asuka said.

"Here, Asuka." Kensuke said nervously.

Asuka opened it to reveal some cash. "Thanks, Kensuke." Asuka said.

"I know it's not as thoughtful, but I thought you could buy something you wanted without limiting what you could buy with like a gift card." Kensuke said sheepishly.

"Its fine… cash is great." Asuka said.

"Here's mine, Asuka." Hikari said. "I know you'll like it."

Asuka opened it to reveal a friendship pendant. "Hikari, is this the one we saw at the store?"

"Yep, you said it looked cool, so I got it for us." Hikari said revealing the matching pendant. "For my best friend!"

"Thanks, Hikari." Asuka said as she put it on.

Rei stepped forward. "I do not have a physical present for you."

"Oh, so, what is it?" Asuka asked.

"My friendship… Asuka." Rei said.

"Thanks, wundergirl, that's a nice gift." Asuka said kindly. "Oh should I call you Rei?"

"Your nickname for me, while it was insulting, did not sound so insulting when you said it, so it is more than acceptable to call me that, or by my given name." Rei explained.

"Well, either way, I'm glad we're friends." Asuka said.

"As am I… Asuka." Rei replied.

"This is from me, Asuka." Misato said. "I hope you like it."

Asuka opened it and saw a large chocolate bar. "Thanks, Misato."

"No problem, Asuka." Misato said.

"And last but not least, this is from me, Asuka." Kaji said happily.

Asuka took Kaji's gift and opened it, revealing a digital watch. "Thanks, Kaji!"

"You're quite welcome, Asuka." Kaji said.

"Well, that's all the presents." Misato said happily. "More cake!"

After eating what remained of the cake, the party began to die down. People slowly started to leave, with Toji and Kensuke leaving first, followed by Rei and Hikari. Hikari did not want to walk home alone, so Kaji offered her a ride, ad Misato offered Rei one, as it was late, which Rei accepted. This left Mari, Shinji, and Asuka alone in the apartment, with Mari and Shinji beginning the cleanup. After cleaning up most of food scraps and washing the dishes, Mari went off to bed, yawning loudly.

"Night all." Mari said. "See you guys in the morning."

Shinji smiled. "Goodnight, Mari."

"Night, Mari." Asuka said.

Asuka looked at Shinji. "Shinji, thank you for the party, it was very fun."

Shinji smiled. "You're welcome, Asuka. I was glad to do it." Shinji frowned a bit. "Sorry I didn't get you anything though…"

"Shinji, the party was enough of a gift." Asuka said. "I don't remember the last time I had so much fun."

Asuka got off the couch and hugged Shinji. "This was the best birthday I've had in a while."

"You're welcome, Asuka." Shinji said.

"Hey, when's your birthday?" Asuka asked.

"June 6th, why?" Shinji asked.

"Just so I can remember to get you something." Asuka said. "It's only fair seeing as you did all this…"

"Thanks, Asuka…" Shinji said.

"Still, Shinji, you gave me the greatest gift of all…" Asuka said.

"What's that?" Shinji asked.

"Your kindness." Asuka said.

Shinji blushed. "Happy birthday, Asuka."


December 6, 2015 – NERV HQ

Ritsuko was in the Evangelion Cage. She was overlooking the final outfitting of Unit–00, and stationed next to it in custom restraints, was a completed Unit–XP. Maya and Misato were standing next to her, looking at the Evangelion.

"So, that's Unit–XP…" Misato muttered.

"Yes, I remember seeing the plans for this when I was at the 4th Branch." Ritsuko said. "It was an impressive sight, that spear, and the clawed hand. The legs were the shock, the fact it can roll like a tank, or waddle, it was… impressive, and its massive gun… everything."

"So I'm guessing it doesn't have a Progressive Knife." Maya said.

"No, its pylons have close in weapons systems." Ritsuko said. "It can launch 20 spikes from each, right into an Angel's face."

"So, can you deploy it?" Misato asked. "And Unit–00?"

"Unit–00 is combat ready, and with the activation test scheduled for today for Unit–XP, we can clear it for combat by this evening."

"So, the kids are coming for activations tests then?" Misato asked.

"Don't you remember?" Ritsuko asked.

"Yes, but I'll make sure to go up and greet them." Misato said. "We'll need a proper deployment plan for all these Evangelions, won't we?"

"Well, four Evangelions…" Maya said. "Someone could take over the world with that much raw power."

"Well, with great power, comes great responsibility." Misato said. "I don't really care about anything like that, too much responsibility to rule the world, Maya. I'll just stick to defending it."

"Well said, Major." Maya said.

"Well, I'm off to meet the kids, I'm sure Rei will be pleased her EVA is in working order again." Misato said. "I like the new paint job so much more too…"

"Yes, the blue does look far more impressive than the original color scheme." Ritsuko said. "But, it is fully combat ready, plated in the production armor, you know, Type–B Equipment, and it wasn't our fault it was delayed, Shinji and Asuka have been making lots of repair work for us, pushing it off. The sixth Angel, the Seventh Angel… hell the eight Angel we had to regrow a leg for Unit–02!" Ritsuko exclaimed. "It was a rush job to have it on standby, but now that it's properly finished, I'm glad it's done."

"I know, Ritsuko, I was there." Misato said. "Anyway, see you later."

–––

Misato got to the elevator, and as it opened who should she see but Kaji inside.

"Ah, Katsuragi!" Kaji said happily. "How are you?"

"Well, I was having a good day." Misato said.

"Such unkind words from such a kind woman." Kaji said.

"Oh, be quiet you…" Misato said angrily.

"Why on Earth would I…" Kaji started, when all of a sudden the elevator shook and stopped and then went dark, and then the emergency lights switched on and bathed them in a reddish glow.

"It's been more than 20 seconds…" Misato muttered. "Why isn't the backup power online?"

"No idea." Kaji said. "This is worry some though…" Kaji said. "There are like three or four redundant systems, right?"

"Yeah, something like that." Misato said. "This can't be good… we're under some sort of attack I bet."

"Yeah…" Kaji said. "But why cut the power?"

"No idea…" Misato said. "But I should try and call Central Dogma." Misato said picking up the emergency phone, but there was no signal. "Right… electric phones, no power, no talking… damn it all to hell!"

"Misato, relax." Kaji said. "We can't do anything, so maybe we should just… relax."

"Get that thought out of your head right now you old pervert." Misato said angrily.

"I meant only sitting down." Kaji said. "Standing forever won't solve anything."

Misato grumbled. "It's going to be along power outage isn't it?"

"I hope not." Kaji said. "As this does seem like an ideal time for an Angel attack. With our plants literally down around our ankles."

"Yeah… an attack…" Misato said. "That would make it a perfect fucking day…"

–––

"Ma'am, why isn't the backup power coming on?" Maya asked. "Did we do that with spooling the power for the EVAs?"

"Doubtful, these circuits are isolated and insulated from overloads, we couldn't have done anything…" Ritsuko said. "And the backups being offline means this isn't an accident… its intentional."

"Sabotage?" Maya asked.

"Yes, sabotage." Ritsuko said. "We should get to Central Dogma. Bates?"

"Yes, ma'am?" Bates asked.

"Get all the EVA ready for emergency sortie." Ritsuko ordered. "I know it's a little ridiculous, but get the ball rolling, I have a feeling an Angel will be coming along…"

"Right away, ma'am." Bates replied.

–––

Central Dogma was in a tizzy. Fuyutsuki was the only one hand from the command staff for the crisis, as Gendo was now in his office, several levels away. Fuyutsuki was staring out at the blank screen in front of him, instead of the usual holographic display that accompanied it.

"Lieutenant Aoba, where is the backup power?!" Fuyutsuki shouted.

"No idea, Sub–Commander…" Aoba reported. "It appears they've been disabled…"

"How is that even possible, there are redundancies!" Fuyutsuki said angrily. He called down to one of the lower levels of Central Dogma. "How many circuits are still active?!"

"Only 1.2% of them, sir!" The technician called back.

"Damn it all to hell…" Fuyutsuki said. "Aoba, have all the remaining power shunted to the MAGI and Central Dogma."

"Sir, won't that interfere with our life support systems?" Aoba asked.

"That doesn't matter, the MAGI cannot shut down." Fuyutsuki said. "They aren't a simple computer, they require a process to shut down properly."

"Right away, sir." Aoba said, getting to work.

–––

The four pilots were walking towards NERV HQ, unaware the power was offline in the city. They were discussing the newest developments at HQ, namely, Mari's Unit–XP.

"So, you're finally going to be allowed to touch an EVA, eh, four eyes?" Asuka said.

"Well, they let you pilot one, so it's only fair if they let me." Mari retorted.

"Oh, will you two stop." Shinji said. "Asuka, you had to have known this day was coming."

"Of course I did, baka!" Asuka said. "Still, I'm surprised they're going to let the crazy one here take an EVA for a spin."

"I do not see the relevance of Mari's mental state, Asuka." Rei said. "She does not fit any definition from the DSM–5, so I do not know why you are categorizing her as crazy."

"It's a turn of phrase, blueberry." Mari replied. "She's only making a joke."

"Oh, I see…" Rei said. "So it is similar to you calling me a fruit."

"Not quite…" Mari said.

"So if I were to call you a retard, would that also be a joke, as you do not fit the definition of someone with lower than average intelligence?" Rei asked.

Shinji and Asuka laughed, and Mari smirked.

"Yes, blueberry, that's exactly right." Mari said.

As they approached the above ground entrance to NERV HQ, the still didn't notice the power outage. They each pulled out their I.D. cards, and swiped them at the entry points, to no effect.

"What the hell?" Asuka exclaimed. "It's not working!"

"Did you swipe it the wrong way?" Mari joked.

"Of course not, you moron!" Asuka exclaimed.

"Well, mine's not working either…" Mari said. "I wonder what's up."

"Neither is mine…" Rei said.

"Yeah, it like the power's out…" Shinji said.

"That is highly improbable." Rei explained. "Tokyo–3 has several redundant power backup to allow for an uninterrupted supply of power. I the backups are offline, it means sabotage is the inevitable conclusion."

"Well, that's some shit." Mari said. "So what do we do now?"

"We open our emergency contingency packets, we should all have them." Rei said, pulling hers out of her bag. Shinji, Mari and Asuka rummaged for theirs and they all read the plan.

"So, we all report tot Central Dogma for further instructions." Shinji said. "We'll probably just have to sit in the Entry Plug and wait for an attack."

"That sounds likely." Asuka said. "So, seeing as I'm the best pilot…"

"Debatable." Mari muttered.

"I'll take charge here and lead us to the command center!" Asuka said proudly.

"If we let her fuck up, then we can just take the power away from her." Mari whispered to Shinji.

"Just be nice about it, Mari." Shinji said quietly.

"Understood." Rei said.

So without protest, Asuka led them to manual access door.

"Ok, Shinji, get to work." Asuka said. "And help him out Mari, you're pretty strong too."

"Whatever…" Mari said.

"Alright." Shinji said.

With a little effort, the manual lever was turned enough to open the hydraulic door.

"There, all set." Shinji said.

"Alright, onwards to our goal!" Asuka said.

–––

Makoto Hyuga was walking to his apartment from the store. He was looking around at the traffic lights.

"Wonder why it seems they're out…" Hyuga said. "They shouldn't be out… even with a temporary blackout, it would have been announced."

Hyuga looked into the distance to see something approaching. "What the hell is that?" All Hyuga could see was what looked like four legs moving slowly towards the city. "Son of a bitch, it's an Angel! I have to alert HQ!"

–––

"Sirs!" The Lieutenant said. "We have an unidentified object on radar, heading directly to Tokyo–3!"

"Have you been able to get ahold of NERV?" The naval admiral sitting on the right side said.

"No sirs!" The Lieutenant replied. "They seem to have a communications blackout."

"Try them again!" The army general sitting on the left side said. "And deploy our forces to track the target in real time."

"Launch our VTOL squadrons to follow them." The air force general seated in the middle said. "And put Archangel Squadron on standby."

"Aye, sirs!" The Lieutenant replied.

–––

Ritsuko and Maya clambered into Central Dogma at the same time Gendo did. With the power down, it made their journey somewhat difficult.

"Commander, Dr. Akagi." Fuyutsuki said. "Glad you could make it."

"It was only slightly difficult." Gendo said.

"The trip from the Cage wasn't too bad. If we have to go back, we can, the doors are all open." Ritsuko said.

"Fuyutsuki, any idea why the power is out?" Gendo asked.

"No idea, Commander, sabotage is the only likely cause, but other than that, we have no idea." Fuyutsuki replied.

"Well, if whoever did this were to see how we restored the power, they would have an idea about the layout of the base from our procedures of reactivation." Maya said.

"Well put, Lieutenant Ibuki." Gendo said.

"Thank you sir." Maya said.

"Dr. Akagi, can you set up a program to deal with a false reactivation grid?" Gendo asked.

"Yes, sir, that is doable." Ritsuko said. "I'll get to work on it."

"I'll head down to the Cage, the EVAs will need to be ready for emergency sortie." Gendo said. "We'll have to move the Entry Plugs manually, and the batteries should have some diesel generators for the task of charging."

"I've ordered the EVAs be readied, sir." Ritsuko said. "I also had a feeling this would be the opportune time for an Angel to attack?"

"It is, which is why all four must be ready to go."

"I just hope the pilots get here soon." Ritsuko said.

"The children are smart, and will be running into the same issues the rest of us have." Gendo said. "They're more than capable of getting down here, it's only a matter of time."

"That very nice of you sir." Maya said.

"Lieutenant Ibuki, please come with me to the Cage, I need someone else in authority to assist me."

"Yes, sir." Maya said sheepishly. "Right away."

"We'll send up their plugsuits so they can change when they arrive." Gendo said as he and Maya left Central Dogma.

–––

"Asuka, we keep walking up?" Shinji said. "Shouldn't we be going, I don't know… down? Because Central Dogma is underground, right?"

"Oh, be quiet Shinji." Asuka said. "Sometimes to go down one must go up."

"See, that sound philosophical, but it's not…" Mari said.

"Quiet, look, see?" Asuka said pointing ahead. "It's a door."

"Well open up imperious leader." Mari said. "Don't let us stop you."

Asuka opened the door to see sunlight.

"Nice job, princess." Mari said. "You led us above ground, exactly the opposite way, so will you cede your command to someone else?"

"Yeah, I don't see why not…" Asuka said, staring out the door as something passed it. Something black with an eye set inside a red triangle.

"AHHHHH!" The four of them screamed as the eye blinked at them. Asuka grabbed the hatch and slammed it, leaning against it after relocking the door.

"The fuck was that!" Shinji shouted. "It can't be another Angel!"

"Well, it looked creepy enough, so it probably is a fucking Angel." Asuka breathed heavily. "We definitely need to get down there now, if the power is out, they won't know about it, will they?"

"Logical assumption." Rei said. "If go back to the last junction, we can use the air ducts to get down to Central Dogma."

"Alright, Rei, lead the way." Mari said. "That is if Asuka is ok with that."

"Yeah, sure…" Asuka mumbled. "Let's just get away from here…"

–––

The four pilots were in a ventilation duct, crawling slowly on their hands and knees to their destination of Central Dogma. It was slow going as Rei was remembering the layouts from memory, but she was on the right track.

"We should be there soon." Rei said.

"Jesus, could you crawl slower, wundergirl?" Asuka said.

"Oh, quiet down, Asuka." Mari said. "This sucks for all of us."

"Yeah, well you better not be looking up my skirt!" Asuka said angrily.

"Why would I?" Mari said. "I already know what color panties you're wearing, the pink ones, am I right?"

"Oh, shut up!" Asuka said.

"Hey, puppy, do you like my panties?" Mari said. "If I'd known you be behind me, I'd have worn sexier ones for you."

"I'm not looking, Mari." Shinji said.

"Well, they're white, so get a good look if you do." Mari purred as she stopped and lifted up her skirt, causing Shinji to run into her ass. "I don't mind."

"Sure you don't, you pervert." Asuka said. "Why did you stop?"

"To give Shinji a proper look of course." Mari said. "Like what you see, puppy?"

"Mari, why did you do that?" Shinji said, rubbing his nose from where it had impacted Mari's bum.

"I said you should look, I just helped you out a bit." Mari said.

"Fucking pervert!" Asuka said.

"She is not perverted, Asuka." Rei said. "She simply seems to like him a lot." Rei smirked. "I believe they call it flirting, correct, Mari?"

"Yes, blueberry, it I called flirting." Mari said.

"Surrounded by idiots…" Asuka said. "Come on let's keep… oh shit!" Asuka exclaimed as the grate below her started to give way as Mari and Shinji pushed forward. The grate then gave way.

"AHHHHH!" Asuka screamed.

"WAAAAA!" Shinji cried.

"WHEEEE!" Mari shouted.

The three of them landed squarely in front of Ritsuko. Shinji landed awkward with his face in Asuka's crotch, and his crotch on Mari's face.

"Oh… well…" Ritsuko said. "We were just looking for you."

Rei came gracefully out of the grate ad landed gingerly on her fee and looked at the three on the ground and she smiled.

"That somehow seems less than appropriate." Rei said. "Yet somehow it is also extremely… comical."

"You have no idea." Mari said. "Such reactions from such a quiet boy." Mari said. "Who knew you had so much to offer."

Shinji blushed. "Mari!"

"Pervert!" Asuka shouted.

"Oh, so the princess want to sample the puppy's wares…" Mari purred.

"Enough you three!" Fuyutsuki said. "You need to suit up immediately. We need to have you ready to deploy."

"Well, about that…" Asuka said as Shinji helped her up.

A voice could be heard shouting loudly. "It's an Angel, an Angel is in Tokyo–3!"

"That sounds like Hyuga…" Aoba said.

"Yeah, well, we uh… saw it." Shinji said. "We took a long turn and found a surface hatch, and it was walking by…"

"Yeah, we got here as fast as we could." Mari said. "So, where are our plugsuits."

"Though here." Fuyutsuki said. "Just get changed in there. We set up a few sheets to for your privacy."

"Thank you, Sub–Commander." Rei said as the four of them traipsed off to get changed.

"Sir, the comm is back up, we have confirmation, the Ninth Angel is moving towards an Evangelion deployment point and holding position."

"Right, get changed and head directly to the Cage." Fuyutsuki ordered. "The Commander should have everything prepped for you."

"My… father?" Shinji asked.

"Yes, the Commander is helping prep the Entry Pugs manually." Fuyutsuki replied. "He reported that Unit–01, and Unit–02 have been prepped, and given a few more minutes, Unit–00 and Unit–XP will be ready."

–––

A black, four legged creature was moving towards an empty place in the road. Its legs were long like a spider's, going sharply into the air and coming back down at a sharp angle. The dorsal surface was olive green and held the connections for the legs. He had eight eyes set along the sides of the oblong main body. The eyes were set into red triangles, and a main eye was on the ventral surface of the main body, and was a larger than the other eyes, and lacked the red triangle.

As he stood over his target, an orange ooze came out of its main eyes, burning a hole in the ground, causing steam to rise from the breach on the armor, and revealing an Evangelion deployment point.

Matarael was on target and boring down to NERV HQ.

–––

Misato and Kaji were still in the elevator. Misato had stripped off her jacket and was fanning herself while Kaji sat there staring at her.

"You know doing that makes it hotter." Kaji said.

"I didn't ask you." Misato said. "Why is it so hot in here?"

"Oh, they'll have transferred power from the life support to the MAGI, so the air conditioning and air circulation are probably off." Kaji said.

"Fucking wonderful…" Misato said.

"You still look great you know." Kaji said.

Misato looked down and saw herself somewhat exposed without her jacket and put it back on. "Pervert… stop looking."

"Sorry, it's hard to look away from you." Kaji said. "As beautiful as you are."

"You lost your privilege to do that the day you walked out on me."

Kaji looked at her. "Do you remember that night?" Kaji asked. "I do, and I left because I was mad at you… but I've forgiven you… and I understand why you're mad at me… I remember what I didn't say, and I still regret it."

"You forgive me?" Misato asked.

"Yes, for that ridiculous lie you told to make me jealous." Kaji said. "I knew you were lying, you're not the person who cheats…"

"Yeah, well… whatever…" Misato said. "It doesn't matter anymore."

"Doesn't it?" Kaji asked. "The kids are worried about you, you know. The drinking and forgetfulness. It worries me."

"All these Angels… they bring back the memories from Second Impact… the nightmares only go away when I drink…" Misato said. "That way I can sleep peacefully…"

"Misato, you should talk to someone…" Kaji said. "You need to… I'm here for you even if you don't want me to be…"

"Really?" Misato asked.

"Of course." Kaji said. "I remember what you told me about Second Impact. You shouldn't be alone with that…"

"Thanks, Kaji…" Misato said. "For being a good friend…"

–––

Shinji was in his Entry Plug, as were the rest of the pilots. He was looking at the internal display showing "INTERNAL POWER SELECTED" and the familiar timer counting down from "45:00:00" far longer than usual.

"Why so much power, Dr. Akagi?" Shinji asked.

"Well, with the reserve batteries on your pylons and in your power socket, you have an additional 40 minutes of power." Ritsuko explained.

"Why can't we use these more often?" Asuka asked.

"They are only for emergencies like this." Ritsuko said. "Otherwise it power sockets only."

"Lame…" Mari said.

"Lame or not, you know the plan." Ritsuko said. "You crawl up the shaft and intercept the Angel. You have a Pallet Rifle a piece, and Mari has her spikes in the pylons."

"Wonderful!" Mari said.

"Good enough." Asuka said.

"Roger." Shinji replied.

"Then Evangelions… commence launch!" Ritsuko ordered.

The EVAs crawled through the ducts, or In Unit–XP's case, rolling in a similar position that Matarael was.

"No wonder the batteries last so long, we've elapsed 10 minutes already!" Asuka said angrily.

"It could be worse Asuka." Shinji said. "You can't say I'm looking up anyone's skirt now, can you?"

"I suppose not." Asuka said.

Mari was getting board, so she did what she always does, sing…

Happiness doesn't walk to me, because I'm walking to it
One day, one step. Three steps in three days
Three steps forward, two steps back
Life's a one–two punch…

"Shut it, four eyes!" Asuka said. "Try focusing on the task and less on the singing!"

"Fine…" Mari muttered. "Loser…"

"Mari, you have a wonderful voice." Rei said.

"Thanks blueberry." Mari said. "That's sweet of you to say."

"Yeah what song was that?" Shinji asked.

"Can we focus?!" Asuka shouted. "Kill! Angel! Very straight forward!"

"Yeah, yeah… we know…" Mari said.

"Hey, less fighting guys." Shinji said. "We do need to focus."

"Whatever…" Asuka muttered.

After another few minutes, they found what they were looking for.

"Oh, look, the hatch to where we need to go." Asuka said happily.

"Yeah, it is." Mari said. "Kick it out princess."

Unit–02 kicked the hatch out and started up the shaft towards the Angel, behind her Unit–00 and Unit–XP followed, with Unit–01 bringing up the rear.

Unit–02 looked up to see the Angel's eye above them.

"What an ugly thing you are." Asuka said.

"None of the Angels have been what you could characterize as cute, Asuka." Rei said.

"Good point, Rei." Asuka said. "What is it doing… AHHHH! It burns!"

Matarael began dripping acid from its eye, and it burned the side walls of the shaft, causing Unit–02 to lose its grip and fall down, slamming into Unit–XP and Unit–00 and sending them down. Unit–01 braced itself and caught the three EVAs and slid down several meters, as the three Pallet Rifles fell down to the bottom of the shaft.

"Shit!" Shinji shouted. "You guys are heavy!"

"Get in the duct!" Asuka shouted as more acid came at them.

The Evangelions clambered into the side duct as more acid dropped past them.

"Jesus, how do we counter that shit?" Mari asked.

"I lost my rifle…" Rei said.

"I dropped mine too." Asuka said.

"I had to, otherwise we would've all fallen down there." Shinji said.

"It's fine…" Asuka said. "I have a plan."

"Oh, taking the lead again, princess?" Mari asked.

"You bet your ass!" Asuka said. "So, we have four EVAs and four positions. We have 15 minutes of power left, so we'll kill this bastard and get out of here. So, there will be four positions. Defense, attack, backup, and reserve. The reserve will be Rei, you'll go and retrieve the rifle, Mari, you'll be the backup Shinji, and if he misses, you'll take that spear of yours and stab the thing in the eye. Shinji, you'll be on offence, Rei will pass the rifle to Mari, and she'll toss it to you."

"Asuka, that leaves you on defense." Shinji said. "That means the acid…"

"I can take it, Shinji, don't worry." Asuka said. "Least I can do for your antics last month."

"But…" Shinji said.

"So, is everyone agreed?" Asuka asked.

"Yep, nice plan princess…" Mari said happily.

"Understood." Rei said calmly.

"Alright… let's go." Shinji said.

The EVAs moved into the shaft carefully. Unit–00 dropped down to the bottom, activating its pylon's retro rockets to land safely. Unit–00 picked up one of the Pallet Rifles and tossed it up to an awaiting Unit–XP. Unit–XP tossed the rifle to Unit–01 while Unit–02 got into position to stave off the acid.

"Now, Shinji!" Asuka called out.

"Kill the fucker!" Mari shouted.

"Hold on, I just need a clear shot at the eye!" Shinji said.

Matarael poured more acid down the shaft, and it hit Unit–02's back, and caused Asuka to cry out in pain.

"AHHHHHHH!" Asuka screamed. "IT BURNS! SHINJI, PLEASE, HURRY!"

"Hold on, Asuka… I have the shot!" Shinji shouted. "Eat lead motherfucker!"

"That's right, puppy!" Mari shouted. "Tell that fucker to die hard!"

Unit–01 fired a stream of bullets right into the center of Matarael's eye. The bullets pierced its eye, and blew out his dorsal side, shattering the Core and sending the fragments flying into the air. Matarael dissolve into a pool of blood, flooding the shaft with the blood.

"Asuka!" Shinji said as Unit–01 caught Unit–02. "Mari, talked her and roll up the shaft! We'll get her out of the EVA when we're on the surface!"

"Right, puppy!" Mari replied.

Unit–01 handed down Unit–02, and Unit–XP shot up the shaft on its wheels.

"Rei, get up here before you power runs out." Shinji said.

"I am on my way, Shinji." Rei replied.

"Dr. Akagi, the Angel has been killed." Shinji reported.

"Good job, Shinji." Ritsuko said. "Good job to you all."

"Thank you, Dr. Akagi." Shinji said.

–––

On the surface, Shinji got out of his Entry Plug and ran over to the back of the deformed Unit–02. Mari was struggling with the outer release, and Shinji helped her with the handle. It took them some effort, but they were able to get the Entry Plug to eject itself and drain the LCL. The main hatch opened and Shinji clambered inside. He saw Asuka laying there, semi–conscious.

"Asuka!" Shinji said. "Asuka, are you ok?!"

Asuka stirred slightly, and opened her eyes. "Not really… now I know why you were out cold for three days…" Asuka murmured.

"Does it hurt?" Shinji asked.

"A lot, yeah…" Asuka said. "Do you mind helping me up?"

"Not at all." Shinji wrapped his arm around Asuka and helped her up to the hatch where Mari helped pull Asuka out of the Entry Plug.

Shinji and Mari helped Asuka down from Unit–02 as Unit–00 crawled out of the shaft and kneeled down as it powered down.

Shinji and Mari set Asuka down gently and Shinji sat own next to her and just held her.

"Asuka, thanks for doing that." Shinji said.

"Well, I know you and wundergirl can sympathize with the pain." Asuka muttered. "Not so much four eyes though."

"Well, she will in time." Shinji said.

"Hey, do you know of anywhere we can look at the city?" Asuka asked.

Shinji looked around and recognized the area. The hillside was where Misato showed him the buildings coming out of the ground.

"Yeah, there's a place." Shinji said. "But it's a bit of a walk, as long as you don't mind."

"I can manage." Asuka replied. "Just help me walk. Just don't touch me anywhere inappropriate."

"So, would the waist be a bad place?" Shinji joked.

"That's fine, just no wandering hands." Asuka said.

"I respect women too much to do that, Asuka." Shinji said. "And I wouldn't do that to you, you'd literally kill me."

"Well, without permission, of course I'd kill you." Asuka said.

"Permission?" Shinji asked.

"Huh?" Asuka replied.

"Oh, nothing…" Shinji said. 'I just want to tell her, but I can't… I guess as long as I can be close to her, its ok…' Shinji thought.

Mari and Rei walked over. "Hey, you two ready to go?" Mari asked.

"Yeah, we're going up there." Shinji said, pointing to the hillside.

"Sounds fun." Mari said. "Let's go!"


December 7, 2015 – NERV HQ

Central Dogma was slowly resorted to a powered state, and Ritsuko looked over at Gendo and Fuyutsuki.

"Sir, we've got power back online to the base, or at least most of it." Ritsuko said. "We're working on restoring the power to the city now."

"Excellent." Gendo said. "And the repairs?"

"The damage to the EVAs is unknown, but they have been secured." Ritsuko reported. "The damage to the shaft and the Cage will require several days to repair. The program on our power up sequence has sent out the false signals, so it should cover us from whoever was prying into us."

"Good." Gendo said. "Get us back in working order, and find Major Katsuragi. I suspect she was trapped in an elevator or somewhere else inaccessible, she would never miss a chance to kill an Angel."

"It's not in her nature." Fuyutsuki said.

"Right away, Commander." Ritsuko replied.

"How is it possible… the first havoc wreaked upon our headquarters wasn't caused by an Angel, but by another member of our species. Just goes to show you preconceived notions can be shot to hell."

"It is ironic, Fuyutsuki." Gendo replied. "That ultimately, the enemy of mankind is mankind itself. It's almost Shakespearean…"

–––

Kaji and Misato had fallen asleep in the elevator, holding hands. Misato want drunk, and she wasn't having any nightmares either. The elevator door opened, and Maya looked inside.

"Aww, how cute." Maya said. "Major? Are you ok?"

Misato stirred and realized what she was doing. "Yeah… I'm fine." Misato said. "Kaji, wake up!"

"Oh… yeah." Kaji mumbled. "Power's on again, eh?"

"Yes, sir." Maya said.

"Good, so we should report why we weren't present during the crisis." Kaji said.

"Did we miss anything, Maya?" Misato asked.

"Not really, just the power and another Angel." Maya said. "The four EVAs were deployed and killed it on battery power. They did wonderfully, Mari included."

"Excellent news!" Kaji said.

"Yeah…" Misato said. "Odd that an Angel would attack when the power was down…"

"It is, Katsuragi." Kaji said. "Or it's just a very odd coincidence."

"I don't believe in coincidences…" Misato grumbled.

"I agree with the Major." Maya said. "It is highly convenient."

'Well, Misato, I agree with you too…' Kaji thought. 'It mean SEELE is trying something… something dangerous…'

–––

The four pilots were lying on the hillside, looking up at the stars and the sliver of the moon that was visible. It was well past midnight, and still quite dark, as the city's power still had yet to be restored.

Off in the distance, Section 2 agents were watching over the pilots, but leaving them alone, as they had had a tough day.

Shinji and Asuka were laying close to each other, with Asuka resting quietly with Shinji holding her hand. Her back still hurt, but she was ignoring it, as she felt fine with Shinji's warm touch. ''Shinji, your hand is so warm… and you were so concerned about me today…' Asuka thought. 'You really are a good friend… or maybe even something more… Do I want you to be something more is the question I need to answer. My mind keeps saying I'm fine being alone, but my heart is screaming to be near you… what should I do?'

Shinji had a slight smile on his face, as he felt Asuka's hand in his. 'I'm too afraid to tell her how I feel…' Shinji thought. 'How do you tell a girl you love her? How do you pour your heart out to someone who may not even like you that way… I don't think I could handle her saying no… she's like the girl in my dreams… a little more crass, but the feeling I have when I'm around her is the feeling I have after dreaming about that girl… I know Asuka is literally the girl of my dreams… but I'm afraid that if I tell her how I feel, I won't be able to be near her anymore, so for right now, I'll keep things the way they are, as it's nice like this. It's not what I want, but I don't want to lose what little I have…'

Mari was on Shinji's other side and glanced over at the pair. 'Awww, it looks like they're becoming closer…' Mari thought. 'Well, Shinji and I are that way, so I'm not sure if he loves her or not… he might, but I'm not sure. The way he acted today certainly points to it, but other than that, he's the same old Shinji.'

Rei was sitting up next to Asuka, looking out over the dark city instead of up at the stars. She was in a semi–fetal position, and was quieter than usual. 'Why must it be so dark?' Rei thought. 'The lights make the city seem so much safer, and yet there is beauty in the darkness. It feels so mysterious, and even though I am near my friends, I feel uneasy… like I'm looking onto the abyss I once knew, that day the first me died, I saw the darkness and came back to the light… I wish for the lights to return again so I may once again come back into the light…'

"You know, it's ironic." Shinji said. "Without the lights and everything in the city, the sky can look so beautiful. I mean, all those stars flickering in the sky, I've never seen so many before in my life."

"It's called light pollution, puppy." Mari replied. "When the city lights are on, the glow masks the fainter stars in the sky. Unless the power is out, or you're far away for a major city, all the stars are hard to see. But you're right, they are beautiful."

"Yeah, but without the lights, it seems so lonely here." Asuka said. "Like everyone disappeared when the power went out. The darkness can be so lonely."

"So what about power." Mari said. "Look up at everything above us, there's plenty of stuff to keep us company."

"Man fears the darkness, and so he scrapes away at the edges of it with fire." Rei said. "We fear the unknown, and the darkness masks everything from us, it is lonely because we cannot see."

As Rei spoke, several sections of the city began to light up randomly until the city was glowing once again.

"There, I feel a lot better now that the lights are coming back on." Asuka said. "So, Rei, you read a lot of philosophy in those books you like so much?"

"Yes, there are many things to be learned from books." Rei said. "One just has to reach out and take the knowledge they seek."

"Well said, blueberry." Mari said.

"So is knowledge what makes humans a special species?" Shinji said. "The ability to write down and collect our knowledge in order to pass it down to those that come after us?"

"Well, puppy, look at you being all deep." Mari said.

"Yeah, with Rei, it's not surprising, but you…" Asuka said. "It's a little shocking, I won't lie about that."

"Well, knowledge does make us unique." Mari said. "But will all the stars out there, we aren't the only intelligent once in the entire universe."

"Do the Angels attack us because we're special… or different even?"

"What are you, stupid or something?" Asuka said. "Weird creatures attack us, and you want to know why?"

"Well, yeah." Shinji said. "What if they want to be friends or something?"

"Puppy, if they wanted to be friends, they wouldn't try to kill us all, and Second Impact probably wouldn't have happened."

"I guess…" Shinji said.

"Shinji, have you pondered this question often?" Rei asked.

"Yeah, I know he have to fight them, but I just wish I knew why they attacked us." Shinji explained. "I just want to know why they want to kill us so badly."

"Well, I'm sure they have their reasons." Mari said.

"Besides, it's not like we can read their minds, so who the hell know what they're thinking." Asuka said.

"Maybe they just want to know what we're thinking." Shinji said. "Maybe all the Angels want is to understand… us."

To Be Continued


A/N: I do not own Evangelion or any of the characters, GAINAX and the other distributors of NGE related material do. I am simply using them as a backdrop for my fanfic.

As for the songs used in this chapter, I don't own them either, and they're listed below in order of appearance:
Kiyoko Suizenji – The 356–Step March (1968)

Sync Score Rankings!
Shinji – 62.6% (+0.1%)
Asuka – 58.7% (+7.9%)
Mari – 58.6% (+8.2%)
Rei – 52.3% (+3.8%)

Wow, look at that, a short chapter… sure it's still about 9,000 words, long, but compared to the last like six or seven this is short. Wasn't as much stuff to add in here as there was before. Mostly followed the episode for the second and third parts, with the different opening in commemoration of Asuka's birthday. Next chapter is Angel free, and deals with a few things to effectively close out Episode IV and set up the opening for Episode V.

Finally, the first deployment of Unit–XP, and the redeployment of Unit–00. I know it took forever, but I didn't need to have four Evangelion deploying for every battle, did I? So, Mari deploys for the first time, and will be singing her songs every time her Evangelion rolls into battle.

Well, opening on Asuka's birthday didn't seem like such a bad idea, everyone deserves a party. And seeing as Shinji finally admitted he loved Asuka to himself in the last chapter, this party was a way for him to show it.

As for the Angel, it takes up the rest of the chapter. Asuka repays Shinji for what he did at the volcano by taking the acid burns to her back, and Shinji sits next to her like she did for him, you know, because they're good friends now.

As I said before, and will always say at the end of chapter, please leave comments, as I would like to try to improve the story going forward any way I can. And, hell, constructive criticism is a good thing.


つづく