Neon Genesis Evangelion: Legacy
Episode VII: Awakenings


Chapter 6 – The Four Horsemen
April 20, 2020 – Comfort 17 Apartments

As soon as Misato found out she had been given complete command of NERV, she was ecstatic, and then concerned. She was now short a very important member of her senior staff, but knew where to go to fill the gap. So, as her first official act as Commander, she took the rest of the day off to go deal with the important matter. As she pulled back into the apartment's parking lot, Misato sighed and took the elevator to the twelfth floor. She knocked on her old apartment door, and Kaji answered the door within moments.

"Kaji, what did you do?" Misato asked.

"Hello to you too." Kaji replied. "How are you, Commander?"

"Well, what did you do?" Misato asked. "I have all the authority I could want and all the funding we'll ever need, and the U.N are backing off."

"It's amazing that when you threaten to release sensitive information what people will agree to." Kaji said. "And then they're gonna clean out the corruption from the U.N. and we don't have to do a damn thing!"

"How in the hell did you manage that?" Misato asked.

"I gave the information to the people that would use it to clean house." Kaji said. "I just heard on the news that hundreds of U.N. employees have given sudden resignations, including 20–odd Ambassadors."

"So, we're safe from the U.N. now?" Misato asked.

"We should be." Kaji said. "Keel's now down his main support system, so he shouldn't be a threat anymore. It's just that weird organization I can't find anything on, and the Angels of course."

"You don't think there are more?" Misato asked.

"Well, there might be another couple." Kaji said. "I have a file about the Angels, buts its still heavily encrypted."

"How encrypted?" Misato asked.

"I can't even see how many lines it is, or how big the file is supposed to be…" Kaji muttered. "There's a slew of files I can't break into, and I've tried every decryption codex I know, and nothing."

"Well, maybe what I'm about to offer you can help." Misato said.

"What are you going to offer me, Misato?" Kaji asked as they sat down in the kitchen.

"I need a new Tactical Division Director, Colonel." Misato said.

"Oh no…no, no, no…" Kaji said. "I don't want to go back there again, Misato."

"Kaji… I need someone I can trust." Misato said. "I need you there. You're a great tactician, not as good as me, but you'll have the kids' best interests at heart. You always encouraged them to think for themselves out there… no one else will do that."

"Misato… I don't know how to respond to that." Kaji said. "Besides, I'm dead, I can't just waltz into work and say, "hey here I am" can I?"

"Actually, you're not dead, Kaji." Misato said. "You were listed as missing, and presumed killed. With everything going on before and after Third Impact, your file was never updated to say you were dead. You've got three years of back pay with hazard bonus waiting for you, so you coming back isn't an issue."

"What, did you research this?" Kaji asked.

"Yes I did." Misato replied. "I just needed to find out for myself."

"Well, I guess my answer is yes." Kaji said. "But why give me the rank of Colonel?"

"Your experience in the field gives you the background to have that rank." Misato said. "And I need someone to act as an authority figure if I'm not around, you'd basically outrank everyone else."

"Well, that's not a bad thing." Kaji said. "But there must be other candidates out there."

"None that I can trust." Misato said.

"That statement confuses me." Kaji said. "I thought you couldn't trust me anymore."

"Look, you were right about the U.N. trying to take NERV over, so you must have had a good reason to stay hidden for three years… even if it was a dick move."

"It was a dick move, Misato." Kaji said. "I wish I could change it, but the past is the past."

"I'm glad you're back though." Misato said. "And I'm really glad you're ok."

"Look… if we really are going to work together again… we need to talk." Kaji said.

"About what?" Misato asked.

"Us." Kaji said as he reached over to the answering machine.

"What are getting that for?" Misato asked nervously.

"To play this." Kaji said as he hit the play button.

BEEP

"Heya, Misato, it's me." Kaji said. "Just calling to say I'm sorry I won't be home tonight. I know I should have told you this before but I don't think I'll be back for a while. Shinji knows what to do… just have him look after things for me, ok? And keep those kids together no matter what. You're a great mother, those kids can't do any better than you… tell Asuka I loved her like a daughter…" Kaji sighed. "I'm getting a bit off point here… I think I'm starting to ramble. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I didn't tell you what was going on because I know you'd want to help, and those kids need you more than I do. I love you, no matter what happens. Goodbye, Misato… until next time…"

"Shit…" Misato muttered.

"What?" Kaji asked.

"I… um…" Misato mumbled.

"Why did you keep this message?" Kaji asked.

"Because I wanted you back." Misato said shyly. "But, when I found out you lied about being dead… I was… I was upset that you didn't trust me enough to tell me you were alive."

"Misato, you now the reasons I kept that from you." Kaji said. "You even admitted that you understood."

"I do now… but can things ever be the same between us?" Misato asked. "I don't know what you've been doing the last three years. For all I know you were with some whore while I was hoping for you to still, somehow, be alive…"

"Misato, it wasn't like that at all." Kaji replied. "I missed you every day."

"So, can you tell me what happened three years ago?" Misato asked.

"Well… I can start with what happened with Yamada and go from there." Kaji said. "That is, if you have the time, Misato."

"Fine… do that." Misato said. "I've got all the time you need, Ryoji."

"I was ordered by SEELE to kidnap Fuyutsuki. Sure, it was a dumb thing to do, but I needed some answers, and he was the only one capable of doing that. Well, I knew that SEELE was going to grill him, but I knew if I didn't take him, someone else would have ended up killing him in the process. So, I decided to set up his escape. I took Shinji on a little field trip to Atsugi to help him clear his head after that Kaworu business… then I shoved the poor kid on a train and went to help the old man. When I busted him out, we were chased down by SEELE's goons, and I killed them all, giving the old man cover to get to the train. A soon as SEELE was down, Yamada popped up. He exchanged some witty banter and drew on each other. I caught him in the leg, and he caught me in the side, just above the kidney." Kaji lifted his shit to show the scar. "I was lucky… but I tried to get away while he started firing indiscriminately."

"Then what happened?" Misato asked.

"Well…" Kaji said.

Flashback

Kaji was slowly walking towards what looked like some sort of industrial building. He was clutching his side, the warm blood from his wound flowing over his hand. As Kaji found a wall to lean on, he heard a train fly by behind him as he saw through the twilight Yamada closing from a distance, limping slightly.

"So, you're still alive." Yamada said breathlessly as he clutched his leg, which was bleeding almost profusely.

"You don't look so good yourself." Kaji said.

"Well, do you want to try this one last time?" Yamada asked.

"Why not?" Kaji said. "You clearly can't hit the broad side of a barn."

"And you were way off the mark yourself." Yamada said.

"I'm allowed one every so often." Kaji replied.

"Don't get too used to breathing." Yamada said.

"I never understood you." Kaji said. "You're so ready to kill, yet you have no feeling."

"Tends to happen when you're a psychopath." Yamada said.

"Then the world would be better off without you." Kaji replied.

The pair leveled their weapons at one another one last time, and a flurry of shots rang out in the twilight, with a murder of crows flying out of the trees in the distance. Kaji watched as the back of Yamada's head blew out, from a clean shot between his eyes. His body dropped like a rag doll, surrounded by an ever growing pool of his own blood. Kaji staggered a bit, now with a second bullet to contend with, and fell against the wall, trying to compose himself.

"Stupid son of a bitch." Kaji said to Yamada's corpse. "At least you were a terrible shot, makes up for you being such an insufferable asshole."

Kaji walked slowly away from the scene, getting to the edge of the nearby woods, thinking of where he should go. He needed medical treatment, but knew that wounds like this would be reported. Before Kaji could make any concrete decisions, he collapsed from a combination of blood loss and exhaustion.

End Flashback

"So you passed out in a field on the edge of the woods." Misato said.

"Basically." Kaji said. "I was out cold for hours. Someone found me, and took pity on me, and nursed me back to health."

"Who found you?" Misato asked.

"A woman… someone wonderful really." Kaji replied.

"Of course it was a woman…" Misato grumbled. "I knew it…"

"It wasn't like that at all." Kaji said defensively. "She nursed me back to health and gave me somewhere safe to stay."

"A likely story." Misato retorted.

"Misato, listen…" Kaji pleaded. "She just wanted to help me, that's it."

"What was her name?" Misato asked.

"Gabrielle." Kaji replied. "A British expat living out in the woods. She helped me through the rough patch, Misato. She kept me from losing it entirely, I owe her my life."

"A bit dramatic wouldn't you say?" Misato asked.

Kaji lifted his shirt off to show off the second wound he received from Yamada. The wound in his chest was dangerously close to the heart. "I may have killed Yamada, but almost killed me." Kaji explained. "The second bullet passed between the ventricle and aorta, and the first shot missed my kidney by half an inch, but I still bled like a stuck pig. If she hadn't of found me, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

"So she saved you, and then what?" Misato asked.

"For three years, I lived in her spare room." Kaji said. "I had a shack in the woods I used as a base of operations, but her house was my home for three years. That's the long and the short of it."

"So from there you killed off SEELE?" Misato asked.

"Yeah, I'd be gone for weeks on end, do a few of them in a row." Kaji said. "I investigated and collected any data I could. It was rough living, but it was for the best. At least I had somewhere safe to go."

"Fine, so she saved you." Misato said. "I wish you didn't have hide for three years though."

"Well, it wasn't a complete waste." Kaji said. "At least some good came of it."

"The disk you mean?" Misato asked.

"Yeah, it's the compellation of everything I've gathered, a lot of it from SEELE's personal files." Kaji said. "A lot of it, like I said, is still encrypted."

"So, when you go back to work, use the MAGI to decrypt all that." Misato said.

"No, not the MAGI." Kaji said. "Maybe one of Akagi's old science projects… if anything is in this data that can infect the network, I'd rather keep it isolated."

"So… Kaji… how did you… how did you kill all those SEELE pricks?" Misato asked.

"Do you really want to know?" Kaji asked. "You may think less of me."

"You killed bad people, Kaji." Misato said. "People behind Second Impact."

"Well, I snuck into their compounds, and executed them and their guards." Kaji said. "I left no survivors, and destroyed everything I could. I didn't want anyone to know that I took them out… I needed the element of surprise."

"And?" Misato asked.

"It worked on all of them, except Keel." Kaji said. "By the time I got to him, he'd gotten wise. He up and left, there wasn't anything at his compound except some garbage and a few dead bodies."

"Shit." Misato said. "Do you know where he went?"

"Not a clue, but we'll find him eventually." Kaji said. "That is if I'm still allowed to look… Commander…"

"Well… Colonel… I don't see why not as long as it doesn't interfere with your regular duties." Misato replied.

"Sure, I think I can work around that." Kaji said. "But, can we work around each other?"

"I… what?" Misato asked.

"Can we work around each other?" Kaji repeated. "I mean, with our history."

"I mean… that probably…" Misato stammered. "Maybe… we just need to…"

"Katsuragi, relax." Kaji said. "What are you trying to say?"

"Ryoji…" Misato said. "If there's going to be… if we're ever going to get back together, you… you need to promise me something."

"Promise what?" Kaji asked.

"Promise me that you're never going to disappear on me again." Misato said. "No more hiding like a jerk in the woods… promise me you'll never leave me again…"

"Misato, I told you before, if I had to do this over again, I wouldn't have gone into hiding for three years." Kaji replied. "I'm not going anywhere… and that's a promise."

"Good." Misato replied. "But, if we're doing this, we're going to do it right… we're going to take it slow."

"How slow?" Kaji asked.

"Like we just started dating for the first time." Misato said. "Like you're taking me out on a date this Saturday."

"A date, huh?" Kaji asked. "That does sound nice… we can celebrate your newest promotion."

"And we can celebrate your return from the grave." Misato said.

"So, when do I start work?" Kaji asked.

"This Sunday." Misato said. "I should be able to arrange everything by then."

"So, does this mean you have to go?" Kaji asked.

"Yeah… I need to get home." Misato said as she got up. "You just have to hide out for a few more days, ok?"

"I did it for three years, a few more days won't kill me." Kaji replied as he followed Misato to the door.

"One more thing before I leave." Misato said nervously. "I want you to know… well, that I… even after you were gone…" Misato leaned in and kissed Kaji gently on the cheek. "I love you." Misato whispered.

"I know." Kaji whispered back. "I never stopped loving you either, Katsuragi…"

–––

Mari had been avoiding Rei for over a week. However, with Rei's apology of sorts in mind, Mari needed to try and set things straight with the girl she loved. So, Mari decided to try and talk to Rei again, this time at school, and preferably without going off the handle. Mari took her chance, and asked Hikari to set it up so that the two f them would clean the classroom together. Hikari agreed, and when the final bell rang, Mari's stomach began fluttering.

Ding dong ding ding… ding dong ding ding

'This was a bad idea…' Mari thought. 'I'm totally going to fuck this up…'

"Rise… Bow… Sit!" Hikari said as the teacher left the room for the day and the class began to leave. Hikari pointed to Mari as Rei walked over to her.

"Ok you two, you're cleaning today." Hikari said. "Sorry Rei, I have to get home early."

"I will be fine." Rei replied. "I could just clean alone."

"Mari can help you." Hikari said. "It's a team effort, and I'm not going to pair you up with Shinji again."

"Very well." Rei said as she left the room. "I shall go collect the bucket and mop."

"Mari, don't mess this up." Hikari said as Rei disappeared from sight. "You can't afford to hide out and miss on even more school." Hikari warned.

"Thanks, mom." Mari said sarcastically. "Don't worry… I know what I did wrong last time…"

"You're still ambushing her, Mari." Hikari said.

"Yeah, but I just need to set things straight." Mari said. "I'm tired of always waiting… she needs to know how I feel… in case anything… happens."

"Fine, just don't be mean." Hikari said as she handed Mari a broom and dustpan. "And you owe me."

"We can settle up later, freckles." Mari replied. "Now get out of here."

"Right, see you later." Hikari said as she left.

As Hikari left, Rei came back with a full bucket of water and the mop. "Why haven't you swept yet?" Rei asked.

"I uh… hold on a sec." Mari said as she slowly started sweeping. 'Shit, shit, shit!' Mari thought frantically. 'Say something Mari! Stop being an idiot!'

"Then I will deal with the chalk board while I wait." Rei said impatiently.

"Sorry…" Mari muttered. 'Who am I, Shinji?' Mari thought.

"Just clean." Rei said. "I would rather this not go on longer than it needs to."

"Rei… I… can I tell you something?" Mari stammered.

Rei sighed deeply. "Go ahead."

"I'm sorry about the other day." Mari said. "I hadn't slept… and I know that's not an excuse… but I should have gone about asking you about us differently…"

"Mari, I've said I don't want to talk about this." Rei said. "And I also overreacted the other day, which I've apologized for."

"Why?" Mari asked. "Because it makes you uncomfortable?"

"I don't know what it makes me feel…" Rei replied. "Even with onii–chan and Asuka's help, I still don't understand a lot of my feelings."

"Rei, a lot of adults go their whole lives without understanding their emotions." Mari said. "That's nothing to be upset about."

"Yes, but I still don't understand what I feel for you." Rei said. "I don't like seeing you cry, but I know you lied to me about loving me… so I just feel so much… it confuses me…"

"Look, Rei, I can't lie and say I never loved Yui." Mari said. "I do love her, but she's gone. When I first saw you, I thought you looked familiar… but after meeting you, you're a lot different than Yui… you might be a clone of her, but all the time we spent together showed me how much of a different person you are from your mother. I fell in love with you because you were being yourself, being blunt about everything, being so sweet, and always asking questions. I fell in love with you, not her. Whenever I was with you, I never thought about Yui. You were the only person I saw, Rei Ayanami Ikari."

'What is this warm feeling I have…?' Rei thought. "I… I don't know what to say…" Rei said. "You never thought about my mother when we were together?"

"No… I was too focused on you." Mari said. "Whenever I was with you, the pain I felt at being lost in time kinda went away…" Mari sniffled. "I guess it was a bit selfish to be with you because you made my pain go away… but I didn't find out about you being Yui's clone until after I fell in love with you… and that didn't change how I felt… even after seeing… all that carnage…" Mari shuttered.

"I do not believe it is selfish to be with someone that makes you feel happy or safe." Rei said. "But what carnage… do you mean my freedom from immortality?" Rei asked. "I'm sorry you had to watch Akagi do that… it must have been… unsettling."

"It was awful!" Mari sobbed. "It was like I was watching you die a hundred times over!"

"But did you view me differently after finding out?" Rei asked.

"No… I understood why you looked so much like Yui, but beyond that… I could care less that you were cloned, it doesn't change the fact that I love you." Mari explained.

"Even after all that…" Rei said. "You still… you still love me."

"Of course." Mari said. "Why would that ever change?"

"Because of how I've treated you the last three years…" Rei said. "I've ignored you and treated your presence with contempt. That was unfair of me… I didn't mean to cause you more pain…"

"Thank you…" Mari mumbled. "But…"

"But what?" Rei asked.

'I can't hold back now…' Mari thought. "What I wanted to ask you was… is there any chance at all of us…" Mari stammered. "Is there any chance at us getting back together?"

'Is there?' Rei thought. 'I haven't thought about it before now… perhaps…' Rei looked at Mari's face. The longer she stayed silent, the more defeated she looked. "I don't know." Rei said. "What you've said today… it does sound like you love me… but I'm not ready to go back to being together… we weren't ever really a couple before Armisael. I'm not the Rei you fell in love with…"

"It doesn't matter which body you're in Rei." Mari said. "I fell in love with your mind and soul, not your body… you are the Rei I knew, you haven't changed."

Rei blushed. "But… we still weren't a couple." Rei rebutted.

"I know, but we were going to be." Mari said. "All I'm asking is if there's a chance… even if it's tiny…"

"There is." Rei replied. "I still don't trust you… and I still need to understand myself before we can be together."

"So does that mean we're friends again?" Mari asked.

"Yes, we are friends again." Rei replied.

"Can I… give you a hug?" Mari asked.

Rei looked at her. "I don't see why not…" Rei said as Mari squeezed her tightly. "Huh…"

"What is it?" Mari asked.

"I feel as though I've missed this." Rei said quietly as she hugged Mari back.

"So have I Rei…" Mari mumbled. "So have I…"

After a minute of embracing each other as friends, Rei remembered what they were supposed to be doing. "Uh, Mari… we still have a room to clean…" Rei said.

"Oh… right…" Mari grumbled. "Uh… I'll finish sweeping."

"And I will finish the chalkboard." Rei replied. "If we focus, we can finish quickly."

"Can we walk home together?" Mari asked.

"I don't see why not." Rei said.

"Yeah, but we can talk about stuff, right?" Mari asked. "Not about us I mean… just… talk."

"Of course." Rei replied. "We're friends again, aren't we?"

"Yeah… yeah we are…" Mari said happily.


April 26, 2020 – NERV HQ

Kaji was sitting quietly in Misato's office. He had gotten a ride into NERV from her, so that her announcement as Commander and his reappearance would be kept as secret as possible.

"So, are you ready for this?" Misato asked.

"Yeah." Kaji replied. "It'll be nice to not be dead again."

"That and you don't have to keep hiding in you apartment."

"And that." Kaji said. "But I'm going to keep staying there if that's ok."

"Why?" Misato asked.

"I thought we were taking things slow." Kaji replied.

"Well yeah, but after our date last night…" Misato said. "I kinda don't want to wait anymore."

"Wow, I was that good, huh?" Kaji asked.

"The date was that good, pal." Misato replied. "But it reminded me about everything we've missed the past three years."

"Well, I won't say I didn't think the same thing." Kaji said. "I just wanted to respect what you said by not… going to fast."

"Well, if you want to move in, you can." Misato said. "It'd be nice…"

"How about one more date before I move back, Misato." Kaji said.

"Wow… restraint…" Misato said.

"I know it's a surprise." Kaji replied.

"A nice surprise." Misato said. "I'm not mad though. Waiting isn't such a bad thing."

"But you're disappointed." Kaji said.

"Well… it would be nice to not sleep alone anymore." Misato replied.

"Hey, you can come down and visit… where the kids won't hear us." Kaji suggested.

"You're a bad influence." Misato joked.

"I'm the bad influence?" Kaji asked. "I've been dead for three years."

Misato shook her head. "Yeah, you're fine…"

"So, who else are giving promotions to?" Kaji asked. "Besides me that is."

"Well, something has to be a surprise for you doesn't it?" Misato asked. "So, are you ready to go downstairs?"

"Yeah, why not." Kaji said. "Let's get this show on the road."

–––

It was still early at NERV. Everyone in the Command Center was going about their usual jobs, looking for any signs of Angelic activity. Sumire was in her usual spot, but because it was still early, Sumire was in charge of the Command Center while everyone else was still off duty. Replacing Aoba at his usual spot was Second Lieutenant Midori Kitakami, and in Hyuga's usual seat was First Lieutenant Hideki Tama.

"Why is this so boring?" Midori asked.

"Because we're at work." Hideki replied. "It's not supposed to be easy, we're looking for Angels trying to kill us."

"Well maybe that last one was it." Midori said hopefully.

"Doubt it." Sumire replied. "They're be more soon enough, it's only a matter of time."

"Why so negative?" Midori asked.

"It's just something you fall into here." Sumire said. "Hope for the best and expect the worst. That should be NERV's new motto."

"Well, it sounds like you had a fun night." Hyuga said as he walked in hand in hand with Aoba. "No activity I hope?"

"None we could find." Sumire said. "So we're good for now."

"Well, Hideki, Midori, you're relieved." Aoba said. "You can home and sleep."

"I however get to finish my double shift." Sumire said angrily.

"Well, if it helps we don't want to be here either." Asuka grumbled as the four kids walked in. "It's too early to be here…"

"I know what you mean, princess…" Mari muttered. "Need to sleep…"

"Why are you here so early?" Hyuga asked. "You're not due here until later."

"Well Colonel pain in the ass told us to be here early." Mari said. "Something about big news or whatever…"

"Perhaps if you went to bed earlier, you'd be awake at this hour." Rei said.

"Rei, I stay up late because I have things to do." Mari said.

"Like what?" Shinji asked.

"Things, puppy." Mari replied.

"Oh…" Shinji replied.

"Gross." Asuka exclaimed.

"Oh, relax princess." Mari said.

"Guys, it's too early to argue." Shinji said.

"Yeah, fine." Asuka said.

"Sure." Mari replied.

"Oh, you're here early." Maya said as she entered.

"We know, we just complained about that." Asuka said.

"Well, Misato said there was some kind of big news." Maya said. "Glad you were able to make it in?"

"Any idea what it's about?" Shinji asked.

"Nope, she just told me to be here." Maya said "I just wish it was on a different day…"

"Maya, it could be worse." Misato said as she entered. "Your work will be there when you return."

"Yes, but…" Maya protested.

"Maya, I'll explain everything in a moment." Misato said. "Just relax."

"Yes, Colonel." Maya said.

"So why did you call us here?" Asuka asked.

"To make several announcements." Misato said. "The first of which was a big surprise to me, but I'm no less thrilled to be given the opportunity."

"Well…?" Hyuga asked.

"The United Nations, after careful thought, and in response to the most recent Angel attack have named be Commander of NERV, with full authority over us without the U.N. being able to butt in all the time."

"Congratulations." Shinji said happily.

"Congratulations." Maya said proudly.

"Congratulations." Rei said.

"Congratulations." Hyuga said exuberantly.

"Congratulations." Aoba said.

"Ok, enough with that word." Misato said. "I feel like it's been overdone."

"Congratulations." Mari said sarcastically.

"Mari!" Misato snapped.

"Totally worth it." Mari replied.

"Moving on… with my promotion, that means I'm no longer running a temporary agency, and I can no longer do all sorts of stuff I'm used to doing. But now, I can actually appoint people properly now." Misato explained. "So we have five vacant Division Director positions to fill."

"Oh, crap…" Asuka muttered.

"First, the obvious choice, for Scientific Division Director, Major Maya Ibuki." Misato said proudly.

"Wait, I'm being promoted too?" Maya asked.

"Yeah, it's within my authority to do so." Misato said. "You deserve it Maya."

"Thank you so much Col… I mean Commander." Maya said.

"Now, the Technical Division Director will be Koji Takao… same promotion to Major as Maya, and we'll tell him when he gets back from the U.S." Misato said.

"Well that sucks." Hideki said. "It's a shame he can't hear it in person."

"I don't think he'll mind so much. He's literally the only candidate wort considering." Misato replied. "As for the Intelligence Division Director, Major Makoto Hyuga will be taking command."

"Me, Commander?" Hyuga asked.

"Yes, it's all yours, Hyuga." Misato said proudly. "You have a knack for finding things out others would rather keep hidden."

"I won't let you down, Commander." Hyuga replied happily.

"And for the Security Division Director, Major Shigeru Aoba will take charge." Misato said.

"Seriously, me?" Aoba asked.

"Yes, you were always a crack shot, and you did a great job coordinating the defense during the attack on the Geofront." Misato said. "You are a damn fine person to have around in a crisis."

"Thank you, Commander!" Aoba replied happily.

"What about the bridge staff, Commander?" Sumire asked.

"Right!" Misato exclaimed. "Sumire, that means you, Midori, and Hideki here are the senior bridge staff. You'll be on call for any Angel attack." Misato explained. "It's a big responsibility, I know, but I think you can handle it. Sumire, you'll be he one in charge of the three of you, understood?"

"Of course, Commander." Sumire said happily.

"Ma'am…" Hideki said glumly.

"Yes, ma'am!" Midori said kindly.

"Wait, isn't there a Tactical Division Director?" Hyuga asked. "Who's that going to be?"

"Oh, well the Tactical Division Director is someone we all know but may not all necessary love…" Misato said cryptically. "Colonel Ryoji Kaji."

"Colonel… who?" Hyuga asked.

"Did she say Kaji?" Aoba asked.

"Isn't he like… dead or something?" Hideki asked.

"Seriously?" Asuka muttered.

"Commander, are you ok?" Sumire asked.

"Oh, I'm fine." Misato said happily. "Kai, where the hell are you?"

"Up here like you told me to be, Commander." Kaji said as he appeared on the Commander's platform high above them. "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

"What the shit…?" Hyuga said.

"Aren't you supposed to be dead?" Aoba asked.

"He is supposed to be dead, right?" Sumire asked.

"He was in hiding on a mission for the past three years, working secretly with the U.N." Misato explained. "Kaji being declared missing and presumed dead was part of his cover."

"Well… shit…" Maya muttered.

"Let me guess, his mission and its details are classified." Hyuga said.

"That's the long and the short of it." Misato replied.

"Wait… isn't that Misato's old job?" Asuka asked.

"Yeah, which makes Kaji our new boss…" Shinji replied.

"Awesome!" Mari said. "He's a lot less strict than she is."

"Don't be so sure." Asuka said.

"So, any other surprises?" Maya asked knowingly.

"Maya, that's a silly thing for you to be asking." Misato said. "You already know that Unit–05 and Unit–07 are here."

"They're what?!" Mari shouted excitedly.

"Yep, your news EVAs are here." Misato said happily. "They arrived yesterday at New Yokosuka, and were delivered early this morning."

"Can we go see them?!" Mari asked excitedly.

"Mari, relax." Shinji said.

"Why, this is awesome, I have an Evangelion again!" Mari said.

"Yeah, just don't carelessly blow it up like the last one four eyes." Asuka said snidely.

"I also blew mine up…" Rei muttered.

"Oh… wundergirl… sorry…" Asuka said.

"It's alright, Asuka." Rei said. "The loss was worth the gain."

"Well, I think that's enough announcements for one day." Misato said. "Maya, bring the pilots down to the Cage, The Colonel and I will meet you there."

"Aye, Commander." Maya said. "Come on kids, looks like there's a bit of a detour before we get to your sync tests."

–––

As the kids entered the Cage with Maya, Mari couldn't contain herself. When they entered all they could see were Unit–01 and Unit–02 in their usual positions, but the new Evangelions weren't being held there.

"What gives?" Mari asked. "Where is my new EVA?"

"It's in one of the isolation Cages." Maya replied. "As is Rei's new EVA."

"Why?" Mari asked.

"They need to be outfitted with Cores, S2 Engines, have diagnostic and activation tests done, let alone be painted…" Maya rattled off.

"Can we choose the color?!" Mari asked more loudly than she meant to.

"I don't see why not…" Maya said. "Pending the Commander's approval of course."

"Damn it…" Mari said defeatedly. "Don't even bother…"

"Don't bother with what?" Misato asked as she and Kaji walked in.

"Mari wanted to customize her EVA's paint job." Maya explained.

"Well, unless she wants a huge penis painted on, I think we can handle that, do you agree Colonel?" Misato said.

"I agree, Commander." Kaji replied. "It's good for morale after all."

"Really?" Mari asked.

"You have my permission, Maya." Misato said.

"So, what color would you two like for your EVAs?" Maya asked.

"Can we see them first before we have them painted?" Rei asked.

"But…" Mari grumbled.

"Sure." Maya replied as she began to walk through the Cage's catwalks. "Follow me."

"It's been a while since we've had some new arrivals." Misato said.

"How well did that go the last time?" Asuka asked. "Didn't the five of us almost die?"

"I didn't say it was a perfect situation." Misato replied. "But we've got five Evangelions again… that's a lot of power in one place."

"Five?" Shinji asked. "You mean four."

"No… Unit–01, Unit–02, Unit–03, Unit–05, and Unit–07." Misato rattled off.

"Oh… you mean four and a half, right?" Mari asked. "Isn't Unit–03 still broken or whatever?"

"It's actually mostly repaired." Maya said. "It's taken a lot of care, but Unit–03 will eventually be able to fight again."

"With who piloting?" Rei asked.

"That's something for me and Kaji to decide." Misato said as Maya stopped.

"Here we are." Maya said, gesturing her left. "Unit–05, and Unit–07."

In front of them stood two brand new Evangelions. Their armor was unpainted, and was a dull silver color. Both Evangelions looked like carbon copies of Unit–02, something that didn't go unnoticed by a certain redhead.

"Hey… they look like my Unit–02…" Asuka said angrily. "What gives?"

"They're using the same genetic sample that grew into Unit–02." Maya explained. "I believe you mother created it, Adam Sample A."

"Adam Sample A?" Asuka asked.

"Well, Adam and Lilith are the genetic baselines for Evangelions." Maya explained. "While Unit–01 is a clone grown from Lilith, Unit–00 was grown from a complete, but corrupted sample of Adam, which had to be fixed before the Evangelions went into full production. The team in Germany led by your mother made Sample A from 95% Adam/5% Lilith DNA mixture. The U.S. team which ended up creating Unit–03 and Unit–04 seven years later used a 95% Adam/5% Human DNA mixture and called it Sample B."

"So those look more human because there's Human DNA?" Mari asked.

"Yeah…" Maya said. "And Unit–XP used a 90% Adam mix with 10% of unknown genetic material. It's amazing how similar our DNA is to them that our genes can be used to modify the genetic code effectively."

"Yeah, I was gonna say that's some fucked up shit." Asuka quipped.

"Well, we were created from Lilith." Kaji said. "And if Adam and Lilith were the same species, we would be very close genetically to the Angels, like cousins, right Maya?"

"Exactly." Maya said.

"Besides, it doesn't really matter now." Misato said. "Seven Evangelions are in existence, we've got five here under our roof, and the other two will be here in the next month or so."

"Why only seven?" Shinji asked.

"No idea." Misato said. "The decision to resume production came from the old U.N. Security Council that replaced those bastards from SEELE. Not a question worth asking about."

"Well, what if it has to do with another Impact?" Shinji asked.

"Even if it does, I think we know how to avoid those by now." Misato said.

"Do we though?" Maya asked. "We're still not sure how the last one started."

"I thought it was a combination of things like Lilith and Unit–01's high sync score." Misato said.

"We're still not even sure if that's the only reason." Maya said. "And we probably never will."

"So Commander, who's assigned to what?" Kaji asked. "That way I know going forward."

"Yeah, we don't even know which ones we're assigned to."

"Well, Mari, seeing as Unit–05 was built in the U.K. at the Fourth Branch in London, I thought it would be appropriate for you to pilot this one."

"Thanks, miso!" Mari said excitedly.

"And Rei, Unit–07's your new EVA." Misato explained. "It was built in Israel at the Sixteenth Branch in Tel Aviv."

"Thank you, Commander." Rei said.

"So what color do you guys want?" Maya asked.

"PINK!" Mari shouted.

"Ok…" Maya said as she rubbed her ear. "What about you Rei?"

"The old color scheme for Unit–00 would be nice to see again." Rei said. "I liked the blue."

"Pink and blue it is then." Maya said. "Once the technical stuff is done, we'll paint them. Should be ready for activations tests within the week, Commander."

"Good." Misato replied. "Now that that's over with…"

"Wait, how did you get them here?" Shinji asked. "You said they came to New Yokosuka."

"I did." Misato replied.

"Why? Isn't that a naval base?" Shinji asked.

"Yeah, didn't you learn boats were a bad thing the first time?" Asuka asked.

"This time we used two Wasp–class amphibious assault ships." Misato said. "Their well decks were just big enough, and the EVAs just fit."

"Well that was dumb." Mari said. "What if an Angel had attacked like last time?"

"The Angle wasn't chasing Unit–02 last time." Kaji said. "Gaghiel was after the Adam embryo I had with me."

"Oh… I assumed…" Asuka began. "Ya know…"

"Still, you two did a wonderful job at stopping Gaghiel." Kaji said.

"Anyway, now that you've seen the new EVAs, it's time for your sync tests." Misato ordered. "The colonel and the Major will supervise. I unfortunately have paperwork to deal with…"

"Heavy is the head that wears the crown, Commander." Kaji joked.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Misato said. "Don't have too much fun without me."

"Oh, we won't." Asuka joked. "Sync tests suck."

April 28, 2020 – Comfort 17 Apartments

Kaji was coming back from a long day at work. With this only being his third day officially back in the real world, he was still uneasy with being so out in the open like he was, travelling during the daytime and interacting with people normally, he'd gotten used to roughing it in the three years he spent in the woods. As he got out of the car he looked around, with his hand undoing the clasp holding his pistol in its holster, but he saw that no one else was around.

"Well, I'll get used to being normal again." Kaji muttered as he re–secured is weapon. "Eventually…"

Kaji walked up the stairs to his apartment rather than taking the elevator, and when he got to the door, he saw a note had been taped there in handwriting he recognized as Shinji's.

"Hi Kaji,

I'm making dinner tonight and was hoping you could join us for the evening. Misato said your shift ends early enough that you should be home before it's ready. I also think Asuka would be happy if you visited. Anyway, hope to see you tonight.

~Shinji"

"Nice of him to offer me dinner." Kaji said. "I'm suspicious, but what's the harm."

Kaji went back to the stairs and walked up to their apartment. It was the first time he'd been up there, as Misato had been visiting him exclusively in the old apartment. When he rang the bel, he was greeted by Asuka, who looked absolutely delighted to see him.

"Hi, Kaji." Asuka said happily. "I'm glad you made it up here."

"Why the big fuss?" Kaji asked. "It's only dinner."

"Well, you haven't come to see us at all since you and Misato started up again." Asuka said scoldingly. "We've missed you too, you know."

"Well, now that I have a job and everything, you'll see more of me." Kaji replied.

"Yeah, but that's no fun." Asuka said as she led Kaji down the hallway. "So, Shinji had the idea to invite you up here."

"For dinner." Kaji said.

"No, for a party dummy." Asuka said as she got Kaji to the kitchen where Shinji, Mari, rei, Misato, Maya, Hyuga, Aoba, Toji, Kensuke, Hikari, Sakura, and Pen–Pen were waiting.

"You've got to be kidding…" Kaji said as he saw a banner hung from the ceiling that read "WELCOME BACK FROM THE DEAD!" in bright red letters. "Guys, you didn't have to go through all this trouble."

"Well it was worth it." Misato said. "Everyone's here to celebrate your safe return."

"Yeah, you were gone on a mission for three whole years!" Aoba said. "It must be nice to be back."

"You guys have no idea…" Kaji said.

"So, did you see everything about Third Impact?" Kensuke asked.

"Well, I was able to see some of it on TV before the feed got cut." Kaji said.

"Who cares about that?" Hyuga said. "What were you doing for those three years?"

"Well, that's classified Major, and well above your paygrade." Kaji said.

"Come on, you can tell us, Mr. Kaji." Sakura said.

"Sorry kid, if I told you, I'd have to kill you." Kaji joked.

"Hey, enough about him." Misato said. "We came here for a party right?" Everyone murmured in agreement. "Well then, let's party!"

–––

Several hours later, the party had dispersed. Hyuga, Aoba, and Maya had al left a little while before, and Misato and Kaji had "retired" to her bedroom. However, with the amount of partying going on, and with Misato having brought out so much liquor, some of it going missing went unnoticed. Mari had snuck a few bottles of sake away before anyone noticed and shared them with Toji, Kensuke, Rei, and Asuka. As Shinji and Hikari were cleaning up thy noticed the empty bottles scattered around their friends.

"Oh boy…" Shinji said.

"Not again…" Hikari said.

Shinji nudged Asuka with his foot, but all she did was grumble incoherently. Hikari poked Toji in the face to try and wake him up to no avail.

"Who grabbed all this?" Hikari asked.

"Probably Mari." Shinji said. "She has a knack for stealing Misato's booze."

"We should have watched them more carefully…" Hikari said.

"We're not their supervisors." Shinji said. "It's all on them when they get hungover."

"Well, poor Rei, one drink and she's down for the night." Hikari said as Sakura walked into the room.

"Hey Toji, it's getting late…" Sakura began before she noticed her passed out brother on the floor. "Holy shit, he's drunk, isn't he?"

"Yeah." Hikari said.

"And Kenny–kun too?" Sakura asked.

"Yep." Shinji replied.

"Dumbass." Sakura muttered as she shook him. "We were supposed to be making out…"

"Well, what are we going to do?" Shinji asked.

"Roll them on their sides and make a lot of noise when they wake up all hung over." Hikari replied. "That'll teach them."


May 4, 2020 – Tokyo–3 Senior High School, Class 3–A

It was Monday once again. After an exciting day of class where someone got violently ill from something they ate at lunch, the rest of the class had been sent to the cafeteria to study quietly while cleaners worked to decontaminate the classroom. Everyone split into small groups, as requested, with Shinji, Kensuke, and Toji sitting together, and Mari, Asuka, Rei and Hikari sitting together. As they sat there, Hikari motioned to Asuka to follow her to the bathroom. As the pair left, Hikari's usually calm face was replaced with worry. When they got to the bathroom, Hikari bent down to see if anyone else was in there with the, and found no one else was in the bathroom.

"Asuka, is what Kensuke was saying earlier true?" Hikari asked. "About there being five Evangelions…"

"Yeah, that's true Hikari." Asuka said. "Two new ones were delivered last week for Mari and Rei." Asuka looked worriedly at her friend. "What's it matter?"

"Well… there's five EVAs now, right?" Hikari asked.

"Yeah, but only four are operational." Asuka replied.

"What about… Unit–03…" Hikari asked nervously.

"It's still getting fixed… oh…" Asuka said, realizing why Ikari was panicking. "You don't mean…"

"Are they going to make Toji pilot again?" Hikari asked.

"No, it'll just be a spare." Asuka said. "There were only ever four of us, we can handle anything that comes our way."

"But, he's the pilot for that thing, right?" Hikari asked. "What if they made him pilot it again?"

"I don't think they will, Hikari." Asuka said. "You're worrying over nothing."

"Have they said that though?" Hikari asked. "Did Misato and Kaji say you're the only pilots?"

'Shit, have they?' Asuka thought. 'Still, if I don't calm her down, she's gonna have a mental breakdown…' Asuka sighed. "Well, they did say they were backup Evangelions, so they shouldn't have permanent pilots assigned to them."

"You're sure?" Hikari asked.

"Absolutely." Asuka said convincingly.

"That's a relief…" Hikari said. "I don't think I could handle him being a pilot again… it was bad enough the first time before we were dating, then to almost… lose him…" Hikari shuttered. "I'm not as strong as you Asuka, I don't ever want to think about losing him again." Hikari chuckled. "You and Shinji both risk your lives, and I'm here complaining about something that happened three years ago…"

"Well, Shinji and I have each other out there to rely on." Asuka explained. "And I'm always concerned he's gonna do something risky like he's always done… but he worries that I'll do the same thing. It's not easy on any of us." Asuka hugged her fired tightly. "And you're not complaining, it's a valid question to be concerned about."

"Well… I honestly don't think Toji could ever get near an Evangelion again." Hikari said. "I mean… if Shinji hadn't gotten control back… Toji… he would've… he'd have…"

"Hikari, stop doing this to yourself." Asuka said. "You're driving yourself crazy over something that never happened. He could have died, but he was lucky not to." Asuka shrugged. "I don't want to be in an Evangelion either, but I'm there, and I did die."

"I know…" Hikari said nervously. "We all… saw…"

"And you know what, baka Shinji saved my ass too." Asuka said. "Kaji says it best… Shinji has one skill the rest of us don't have… luck, and it always seems to be on his side."

"Well, what if it runs out?"

"Then the world would probably, literally, end." Asuka joked. "But if Misato or Kaji wants to make Toji pilot again, I promise you Hikari, I'll tell them both to shove that recommendation so far up their ass, that they'll choke on it."

Hikari chuckled. "Thanks, Asuka." Hikari said.

"So, are you feeling less neurotic now?" Asuka asked.

"Yeah, a bit." Hikari replied. "You know, we should probably get back before someone notices we've been gone this long."

"What are they going to do, ask us why we were in the bathroom?" Asuka asked.

"Maybe." Hikari said.

"Well, if anyone does ask, I'm telling them I had "lady problems" to shut them the hell up." Asuka said. "That always makes people feel awkward."

–––

Things were quiet in the Command Center. Kaji was sitting in a new chair set against the back wall on a slightly raised platform that gave him an unobstructed view of the main display screen in front of him. Kaji had been on the job a week, and while everything had been running smoothly, his instincts kept telling him the other shoe was bound to drop eventually. On the main screen he was staring at, several windows were open, monitoring various satellites, ground cameras, sensor arrays, and radio chatter across the planet. The new bridge bunnies were hard at work trying to keep up with the massive amount of information that was being processed and spit out of the MAGI.

"Everything still clear, Sumire?" Kaji asked.

"From the looks of it Colonel." Sumire replied. "Screens are showing nothing out of the ordinary."

"Well, we can't rest on our laurels." Kaji said. "Have you run a wave form spectrum scan recently?"

"Not in the last few hours." Sumire said.

"Has the new program been set up to do block scanning?" Kaji asked.

"I've been working on it, but it hasn't been tested yet." Hideki reported. "We can test it if you'd like, sir."

"Yeah, let's test it." Kaji said. "How many of the sensor relays can be done at once?" Kaji asked.

"Several hundred." Hideki replied.

"How large of an area is that?" Kaji asked.

"We could scan all of Japan and the surrounding ocean at once and have the live feedback sent to us here." Hideki said.

"Well, let's test it in our neck of the woods first." Kaji said. "Seeing as we're so lucky to have the Angels come and visit us."

"Sir, why don't we let the passive scanning alert like usual, Colonel?" Midori asked.

"Because the passive scanning doesn't always pick things up, and the non–connectivity of our old network leads me to believe that SEELE didn't want us to find the Angels sooner." Kaji said. "And if we find them sooner, maybe we can find out where the Angels are coming from."

"That's going to be difficult, sir." Sumire said. "We've never been able to ascertain their exact origin beyond who create them."

"I know, but maybe if we have more time to track them, we can intercept them further away from the city." Kaji said. "And not always be at risk of getting wiped off the map."

"That does seem like a good plan…" Midori said quietly.

"I know." Kaji replied. "Let's just hope we can actually find them sooner. Hideki, are you ready to initiate the scan?"

"Yes, Colonel." Hideki replied. "Beginning scan."

The scan began, and the main screen displayed the area surrounding Japan. The sensor relays were all actively pinging for the presence of any Angels. As each of the sensors checked its area, Kaji watched nervously, hoping that nothing would show up. A blip showed up on the screen, just off the coast near the ruins of Old Tokyo.

"What's that blip?" Kaji asked.

"Uh… an anomaly, sir." Sumire said. "No pattern has been positively identified."

"An anomaly?" Kaji asked. "It's not returning anything?"

"Not even the default Pattern Orange, sir."

"Confirm, no lock on Pattern Analysis." Hideki

"Well, that's a good sign." Midori said.

"Yeah, not so much." Kaji said. "Sumire, track that anomaly. Hideki, contact the JSSDF, I want a recon plane to go and see what that thing is. Midori, set Level–3 battle stations."

"Yes, Colonel." Midori said worriedly.

"Aye, sir!" Hideki said enthusiastically.

"Colonel, what about the pilots?" Sumire asked.

"Until that becomes a thing, we don't need to call them." Kaji said. "I'm going to go down and talk to Maya though… nothing wrong with being prepared."
–––

School had ended for the day and the kids were walking home. As Toji, Hikari, Kensuke, and Sakura split off to go towards their own apartment block, they waived goodbye to each other and the four pilots continued their long walk home. Asuka, still worried about the conversation she had with Hikari earlier, decided she should bring it up and see if she was overthinking things.

"Uh, guys." Asuka said. "What do think's going to happen with the other Evangelions?"

"Spare parts maybe?" Mari said. "Why?"

"Well, Hikari's worried about Toji having to pilot again." Asuka said. "She was freaking out about it earlier in the bathroom."

"Is that why you disappeared earlier?" Rei asked.

"Yeah, Hikari wanted to talk in private." Asuka said.

"I still don't understand the reason why girls have to have private conversations in the bathroom." Rei said. "It seems… contrary to the point of a private conversation."

"Well, it's somewhere where people can't overhear you." Asuka replied. "Besides it was empty."

"Yes, but anyone could walk in, negating the privacy." Rei said. "There would have been better options, like a shed, or locked room."

"Ok, Rei, I'm asking about the possibility of Toji being a pilot." Asuka said seriously. "We can talk about conversations in bathrooms later."

"Alright." Rei replied. "I was just curious."

"Well, would it be so bad to have more pilots help us?" Shinji asked.

"We don't need more help." Asuka said. "We're fine on our own."

"Princess, more help isn't necessarily a bad thing." Mari said. "But I don't think I'd want anyone we know being the new pilots… it'd be weird."

"I know." Asuka said. "But I feel like I lied to Hikari by saying it wasn't going to happen."

"You didn't lie." Shinji said. "We really don't know what's going to happen."

"Why don't we just ask Misato tonight?" Rei asked. "What's the harm in that?"

"Ignorance is bliss…" Asuka muttered.

"Well, I would rather know if we're to have more pilots assisting us, or if we're just supposed to ignore the fact that three more Evangelions will be sitting pilotless in NERV's basement with no apparent use other than to collect dust."

"Ok we'll ask her." Asuka said. "What's gotten into you, wundergirl, you're being so aggressive today."

"I'm just tired and worried." Rei said.

"Why?" Shinji asked.

"Because there are now seven Evangelions, yet the threat of the Angels is supposed to have long passed." Rei explained. "I feel that the past is going to come back and haunt us with more Angels."

Kaji had just gotten back to the Command Center. He had been down with Maya, asking her to get the Evangelions ready for deployment. As Kaji sat back down, he looked at the main screen and saw the anomaly they were tracking had moved closer to shore near the ruins of Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture.

"Has the JSSDF reported in?" Kaji asked.

"They have three recons planes combing the area, but they haven't spotted anything yet." Hideki reported. "I'm giving them the updated tracking information, but they can't seem to find it. It's almost like it isn't there."

"They are over water, correct?" Kaji asked.

"Yes, sir." Hideki replied.

"Then they need to search under the water, don't they?" Kaji asked.

"But sir…" Hideki began.

"The JSSDF have underwater drones, do they not?" Kaji asked.

"Well, yes sir." Hideki replied.

"Have them deploy a drone or two." Kaji suggested.

"Understood." Hideki replied.

"Midori, have you contacted the Commander?" Kaji asked.

"She said she would be down shortly." Midori replied. "Something about paperwork, or something of the like."

"Alright then." Kaji said. "Sumire, can you give me the status of the city's defenses."

"AIS is offline, but fully operational, with a full load out of ammunition." Sumire said. "Evangelions are being readied for launch, and all tactical VTOL and fighter squadrons are on standby."

"Good." Kaji said. "At least we're prepared if something happens."

"Does that imply you predecessor wasn't prepared?" Misato asked as she entered the Commander's deck and looked down at them.

"No, you always got warning far too late to do any real good." Kaji said. "If whatever this is turns out to be an Angel, I want to keep the civilian population out of harm's way by engaging it outside the city."

"That's a sound plan." Misato said. "But you still haven't identified it as a threat, have you?" Misato asked.

"Not as of yet, no." Kaji replied. "The JSSDF is working on identifying, right Hideki?"

"Yes, sir." Hideki replied. "The JSSDF have dropped several underwater drones, and they are nearly at the site of the anomaly."

"Put their camera feeds on the main screen." Kaji ordered.

"Aye, sir." Hideki replied as the three drone feeds popped up on the screen. Kaji and Misato looked on and saw the outlines of the submerged buildings come out of the murky water's background and come into view, yet they couldn't see anything else.

"That's a lot of sediment getting moved around for relatively calm waters…" Kaji said.

"There's something big moving through there." Misato said.

"Midori set Level–2 battle stations." Kaji ordered.

"Colonel?" Midori asked.

"It's ok, Midori, there's clearly something under there, we just don't know what." Misato said. "Carry out the Colonel's orders."

"So Commander, do you think it's an Angel?" Kaji asked.

"I don't know, but you're right to be worried." Misato said as they noticed a large, round shadow emerging from the murky water as the feed started to get interlaced with static.

"Uh… sir, what is that?" Sumire asked.

"No idea." Kaji said. "Hideki, have the drone run a wave form scan."

"I can't sir, I'm getting some kind of interference." Hideki said.

"What kind of interference?" Misato asked.

"Electromagnetic." Hideki replied. "It seems to be coming from the anomaly."

"Would that interfere with the senor relays?" Kaji asked.

"It's a possibility, Colonel." Sumire replied. "The salt water is a good conductor, so depending on the size of this thing, it could interfere with the sensors ability to scan under the water, and the ability to transmit a clear feed."

"Get the drones out of there." Kaji ordered.

"Sir?" Hideki asked.

"Now, Lieutenant!" Kaji repeated.

"Aye, sir!" Hideki replied.

"Kaji, what's the rush?" Misato asked.

"That thing is getting closer to shore, it's going to come out eventually." Kaji replied. "Current position puts it minutes away from the shore line, and hopefully we'll get a clear scan of it."

"Do you think it's an Angel?" Misato asked.

"I'm hoping it's not." Kaji explained. "But all the past experiences with these things, they have a knack for somehow hiding themselves until it's too late for us to act."

"It's approaching the shallows, Colonel." Sumire said.

"Move the VTOLs father out." Kaji said. "I don't feeling like increasing the death toll the JSSDF has suffered at the hands of the Angels."

"They're moving off." Hideki replied.

"Good." Kaji said.

"Colonel, whatever it is, it's emerging." Hideki said.

They all looked at the main screen. The VTOLs may have retreated to a safer distance, however, they still had a clear view of the thing that slowly came out of the water. It was a huge, transparent sphere. The surface of the sphere seemed very thin, almost like a membrane, and looked like it was filled with Tang. Inside the sphere itself was what looked like some kind of spore. It had a small round center that was partially opaque, with dozens of spokes of different lengths jutting out from the center. Some went barely quarter of the way to the edge of the sphere, while at least ten went all the way to the edge and were just touching the edge of the membrane. Floating around in the fluid inside were what looked like SUV sized human cells. Finally, at the very center of this odd beast, under the partially opaque center, was the blood red Core, hiding in plain sight. Barakijal was floating several dozen meters off the ground, similar to Leliel, but looked far more menacing.

"Do another wave form scan." Kaji said. "With it completely out of the water, we should be able to get a lock."

"I didn't have to do a thing, Colonel." Sumire said. "The passive sensors pinged it as soon as it came out of the water…"

"Shit…" Misato muttered.

"Well, Sumire?" Kaji asked.

"Pattern Blue confirmed." Sumire said. "It's an Angel, sir, the Nineteenth Angel."

"Midori, Level–1 battle stations. Issue an alert requesting people to stay in their homes due to hazardous conditions." Kaji ordered. "Sumire, contact the kids, get them in here ASAP, then get the AIS on stand–by. Hideki, coordinate with the JSSDF, I want this thing tracked and monitored up close until we can get the Evangelions out there to intercept it. They are not to engage, is that understood?"

"Yes, Colonel." Midori replied.

"Understood, sir." Sumire said.

"I will relay that Colonel." Hideki replied.

"No, you tell them the last time they did something stupid, Tokyo–2 was wiped off the map." Kaji said coldly. "The reminder should keep them in line."

"Understood, Colonel." Hideki replied.

"Maya, can you hear me?" Kaji asked.

"Yes, Colonel Kaji?" Maya replied.

"How are the EVAs coming along?" Kaji asked.

"They're all ready for deployment." Maya replied.

"And those new weapons you've been bragging about?" Kaji asked.

"All prepared as requested." Maya replied. "I'm guessing, sir, that shit hit the fan."

"Yep." Kaji replied. "Another confirmed Pattern Blue."

"Well, they're ready as soon as the kids are clear for launch." Maya replied.

"What about the S2 Engines for Unit–05 and Unit–07?" Kaji asked.

"It took them four days to regrow to full size." Maya replied. "I had the activation test set for this weekend, but beyond that, they're both ready for combat."

"You're sure?" Kaji asked.

"They're as safe as any Evangelions can be." Maya replied.

"As long as you're confident, I'm fine with it." Kaji said nervously.

"Maya, can you hear me?" Misato interrupted.

"Yes, Commander?" Maya asked.

"Alright, as soon as everything is ready down there, I need you up here to look at some data." Misato ordered. "And as backup when we brief the pilots."

"Right away, ma'am." Maya replied. "I will be up shortly."

"Sumire?" Kaji asked.

"The kids are on their way." Sumire said.

"Can you have the MAGI crunch the numbers on how long we have before this gets to us?" Kaji asked.

"I'll check, sir." Sumire replied. "MAGI predict that the Angel has a 47.3% probability of heading towards Tokyo–3. The Angel, at its present speed, is four hours away from us, 75km north northeast of here."

"So we have some time." Kaji muttered. "But not a lot."

"What do we do?" Sumire asked.

"We figure out the quickest way to kill this thing before anyone's put in danger." Kaji said. "Then we figure out how these things keep finding us."

"Are we sure it's a treat?" Midori asked. "I mean, it hasn't done anything to us."

"It will." Kaji said. "Sumire, scan that thing."

"On it, Colonel." Sumire said. "I'm detecting a strong electromagnetic field coming from the Angel, and a strong A.T. Field surrounding the inner structure."

"I wonder what the E.M. Field is for?" Misato asked.

"Well, let's just hope that it's not going to cause a big problem." Kaji replied.

–––

The kids had finally arrived, and were ushered to the Command Center. They looked around and saw the Angel being tracked and analyzed on the main screen, while Misato, Kaji, and Maya walked up to them.

"So, another one popped out of the woodwork, eh?" Mari asked.

"Something like that." Kaji said. "Popped out of the water actually."

"It's shocking just how many of these things enjoy being in the water…" Asuka muttered.

"It is interesting." Rei said.

"Is it a giant floating ball?" Shinji asked.

"Well, yes, a bit." Maya said.

"It's not going to… suck anyone in?"

"No, it's not going to do that." Maya said. "It's nothing like Leliel."

"Well, did you know that its been exactly four years since that Angel tried hacking the MAGI, right?" Mari asked. "What Angel attacks on the anniversary of its sibling's death?"

"An angry one." Shinji suggested.

"Oh yeah, it has been four years…" Kaji said. "But this time, you actually have tot fight the Angel, you don't just get to sit around."

"Well, I'm more than ready." Mari said.

"Don't be too overexcited." Misato said.

"Why not?" Mari asked. "There's an Angel to kill."

"That's the right attitude, Mari." Kaji said encouragingly.

"Please, don't encourage her." Shinji said.

"Why not?!" Mari asked. "There is an Angel to kill!"

"Yeah, but you've never offed one, four eyes." Asuka said. "Hell, Rei's killed two."

"I killed one of those white freaks!" Mari said defensively.

"By self–destructing…" Asuka said. "No offence, Rei."

"None taken." Rei said. "It's not the smartest of plans."

"And extremely wasteful!" Misato said. "So no self–destructing, got it?!"

"Yes, Commander." Mari said.

"I don't intend on repeating that feat." Rei replied.

"Good." Kaji said. "So, the Angel is on track to come visit us here in beautiful Tokyo–3, we've got four hours until it's knocking at our door. So, we 've been studying it, and all we know is that it has a strong A.T. Field, and its got a strong electromagnetic field."

"You've been studying it?" Rei asked.

"I believe that was a complaint of the previous administration." Kaji said. "I'm sorry we don't have more, but at least it's something."

"That's a first." Asuka said. "So, uh, who's going out?"

"All four of you." Kaji said.

"What?" Misato asked. "That wasn't the plan. What about the reserve pilots?"

"Commander, all due respect, but holding them in reserve is just begging for trouble." Kaji said. "You all go and intercept the Angel, as safely as possible."

"With what?" Shinji asked.

"The new weapons we've been trying to get ready are finally cleared for use." Maya explained. "First, the EVA's pylons have been updated. They have new retro rockets, or rather, actual thrusters. There's not enough lift for full–fledged flight, but you can hover a bit, and they're powered by your S2 Engine. Then you still the standard Prog Knife in each pylon, and a mini railgun is mounted at the top of each one, rather than those ineffectual spikes. They're loaded with high explosive Anti A.T. Field rounds for increased effect."

"Wow, you guys have really been working, haven't you?" Asuka said.

"So the EVAs have better standard weaponry." Rei said. "What about the armor?"

"The armor is no longer plain titanium." Maya said. "It's tritanium, a new alloy that we cooked up in the last few years. It reduces the weight of the armor by about 10%, but increases the strength and heat resistance by about 25% over plain titanium. All of your EVAs have this new armor. We call this the Type–B/2 armor for the Production Types, or in the case for Unit–01, because it's the Test Type, Type–A/2 armor." Maya took a moment to breathe. "Then we have some other new weapons that we've been working on too."

"Like?" Mari asked.

"A new gun to replace the Pallet Rifle, which wasn't really cutting it, was it." Maya said. "So we've made a you guys an EVA sized railgun, a Buster Rifle, and a beam sabre."

"Wait a second…" Shinji said. "A Buster Rifle? Like the Wing Zero's Buster Rifle?"

"Well, it was actually modeled after Wing Gundam's." Maya admitted. "The beam sabres were modeled after Epyon's, and the thrusters' design was inspired by Tallgeese's Vernier thrusters."

"And the tritanium?" Rei asked.

"Well, after looking over the neo–titanium, we were able to extrapolate how to improve our own armor." Maya explained.

"So you stole it?" Mari said.

"No, we adapted it." Maya replied. "And all the better, because now we have more powerful weapons that can hopefully harm the Angels and better protect you."

"Can't argue with that." Mari replied.

"Yeah, seriously." "Putting our well–being first? I'm actually shocked."

"And touched." Shinji added.

"Just not like, a bad touch." Mari quipped. "A good touch, like on your…"

"Mari!" Shinji shouted. "Not the time!"

"Sorry, puppy…" Mari muttered.

"Anyway… why didn't you tell us this last time?" Asuka asked. "I mean, it would have been nice to know then, or use this fancy stuff then."

"Misato told you about the improved thrusters." Maya said. "But the railguns weren't quite operational yet, so they weren't installed, and he rest of it was still in need of fine tuning. But we didn't tell you because we were under a serious time crunch, and it couldn't have helped you anyway."

"Fine." Asuka said. "So when do we deploy to deal with this thing?"

"As soon as you're ready." Kaji said.

"Then we should go suit up." Mari said.

–––

Mari sat impatiently in her Entry Plug. It was the first time she'd been inside an Evangelion since before Third Impact. Mari wanted to get going, but was being held up by having to activate her Evangelion.

"Evangelion Unit–07 is online." Sumire said. "Now activating Unit–05."

"Mari, are you ready?"

"I've been waiting, of course I'm ready." Mari said. "Let's get this show on the road."

"Alright." Kaji said. "Hit it, Sumire."

"Unit–05's S2 Engine is coming online… S2 Engine is stable… power output is optimal and steady." Sumire reported. "Now establishing secondary connections… electrolyzing LCL now… secondary connections established… A10 nerve connections online and nominal… LCL pressure and charge are within normal operating range." Sumire reported. "Configuring language logic interface for Japanese… all preliminary contacts have now been established… performance is nominal… opening bi–directional circuits."

"Keep it going, Sumire." Kaji said.

"Yeah, keep it going, Sumire." Mari quipped.

"Yes, Colonel." Sumire replied. "Bi–directional circuits are now open and transmitting… transmission strength and modulation is within normal parameters… brain wave pattern and harmonics are normal… Mari's life signs are normal and showing elevated signs of endorphins… synchronization ratio is at 69.5% and steady… establishing nerve connections… nerve connections are established through 1890… 1960… 2340… 2500…2590… clear to 2760… 3110… absolute borderline in 90… 60… 40… 10… absolute borderline passed… nerve connections now connected through 3510 and active… Evangelion Unit–05 is now online."

"Awesome." Kaji said. "How long until the Angel is within range of the city?"

"A little more than three and a half hours." Hideki replied.

"Unless anyone has any objections, begin launch sequence." Kaji said. "Commander?"

"Go for it, Colonel." Misato relied. "Give that Angel hell."

"It's about fucking time." Mari said.

"Launch pads locked in place… disconnecting umbilical cables… S2 Engines now running without external support or control… closest intercept point has been selected… launch path is clear and open… all systems online… verified all systems online… board is green." Sumire reported. "Evangelion Unit–01, Unit–02, Unit–05, and Unit–07 are all cleared for launch at your discretion, Colonel."

The four Evangelions were all lined up next to each other on the launch pads, the first time they'd all be sent into battle together in a long time.

"Ok, time to go kids." Kaji said. "Move to intercept the Angel as quickly as you can. Weapons drop will occur just outside intercept point."

"Copy that." Asuka said.

"Roger." Rei said.

"Got it." Shinji replied.

"Bitchin." Mari said.

"Evangelions… LAUNCH!" Kaji ordered.

As the four Evangelions launched towards the surface, Mari was thrown back in her seat, and was excited by the rush she got from being flung towards the surface.

"I forgot how much fun this is!" Mari shouted. "YEEHAW!"

"Shut it four eyes!" Asuka shouted as the Evangelions emerged on the surface a short distance away from each other.

"Ok, so we need to head this way." Shinji said as Unit–01 pointed in the general direction of the Angel.

"Well, how do you intend to get there quickly, baka?" Asuka asked. "We can't fly."

"We can run guys." Mari said.

"Or we can use the thrusters to move at great distances very quickly." Rei said.

"Would that work?" Shinji asked.

"Can't hurt to try." Mari said as she activated the switch for the thrusters and gave herself a running start, Unit–05 slowly lifted off the ground and continued hovering along. "Well, it works, try it guys!"

"Huh… science is amazing." Rei said as the others followed suit, and flew after Mari and Unit–05 a short distance from the ground. "We appear to be making good time."

"We just have to avoid…" Shinji began as Unit–02's foot ploughed through a parking garage. "Damage anything…"

"Oops…" Asuka muttered. "Oh well… collateral damage is expected."

"No it's not." Shinji said. "Kaji said story not to destroy things!"

"Relax, puppy." Mari said. "Because we're almost there."

"How do you know?" Rei asked.

"The little blip we're flying towards is only a few kilometers away." Mari replied. "We should see the Angel any minute now."

"Wait, how close are we?" Asuka asked.

"We're here." Mari said as Unit–05 shut off its thrusters and landed gracefully, with the other Evangelions following suit. "It's right over there."

"How big is that thing?" Asuka asked as she saw it a few hundred meters away.

"About 120 meters in diameter." Sumire replied.

"Of course, it's bigger than we are." Mari joked.

"They're always bigger than we are." Shinji said. "That's how this works."

"So… it's bigger, and we know it's got an electromagnetic field around it." Asuka said. "I wonder how this is gonna work."

"Well, we shoot it and go home to nap." Mari said. "Nice and easy."
–––

Asuka looked on in shock at the new, freaky looking Angel.

"Wow, and I thought the last one was a bit weird." Asuka muttered. "And you think this is going to be easy?"

"Yeah, another giant floating ball." Mari said. "We'll just pop it like a big squishy balloon. We just need to figure out exactly how we're popping it."

"Well, we need the weapons first." Rei said.

"Yeah, where are those weapons?" Asuka asked.

"Look up." Kaji replied.

Several crates were being dropped with parachutes attached a short distance away from their position. As the crates slowly fell to the Earth, the VTOLs that dropped the weapons stayed within range of them, rather than flying off.

"So, are they our babysitters?" Mari asked.

"No, they're just there to give you support if need be." Kaji replied.

"You mean a distraction and cover fire." Asuka said.

"Only if need be." Kaji said.

"Ok, so what are we doing?" Rei asked as the Evangelions moved to the crates and opened them. "Who gets what weapon?"

There were six crates of weapons. The Positron Rifle, two Buster Rifles, and two pairs of the new railguns with extra clips in the sixth crate.

"Wow, extra weapons are always nice." Mari said.

"Shinji, you should take a Buster Rifle." Asuka said. "You know how to handle it."

"I guess." Shinji replied.

"I'll take the other one." Mari said.

"I will take the Positron Rifle." Rei said. "I am familiar with its use."

"So I get to dual wield these epic things." Asuka said. "But why are there extra magazines? What are they for?"

"You can exchange the clip in the field." Maya said. "A bit more efficient than a weapon drop every time you run out of ammo."

"Huh… what a novel idea." Asuka joked.

"Ok, let's focus." Rei said. "How should we attack?"

"Well, all at once would be a good idea." Mari said. "Otherwise we're just wasting ammo."

"Everything but those railguns are powered by your S2 Engines." Misato said. "Which is why it's so important that we got those new ones sorted out."

"Ok, we get it." Asuka said. "We've moved on from the issue, Misato."

"So, where are positioning ourselves?" Shinji asked.

"I guess all around it." Asuka said.

"And don't forget to raise your A.T. Fields." Kaji said. "We don't need you all being caught off guard cause you're busy trying to just kill it."

"I think we can handle that." Asuka said as Unit–02 shimmered and deployed its A.T. Field, with the others following suit.

"Ok, so I'll go get behind it." Shinji said.

"Yeah, I'll get on its right side." Mari said.

"I'll take it on from the front." Asuka said.

"I guess I'll be on the left." Rei said.

As Unit–02 took the relatively short walk putting it directly in the Barakijal's path, Unit–01 and Unit–05 moved in unison until Mari got into position and kneeled down, bracing the Buster Rifle against Unit–05's chest. Unit–07 got into position, and leveled the Positron Rifle right at Barakijal's Core. As Unit–01 took up position from behind, Asuka raised her own weapons.

"Ok, ready everyone?" Asuka asked.

"Fuck yeah!" Mari said.

"Locked on the Core." Rei said.

"I'm ready, Asuka." Shinji said. "Are you?"

"Of course, baka." Asuka replied.

"Just be careful." Kaji said.

"FIRE!" Asuka shouted as the opened fire with the pair of railguns, sending a stream of Anti A.T. Field coated explosive rounds at Barakijal. The rounds stopped, apparently midair, and then simply dropped to the ground. Rei fired the Positron Rifle, and watched as the beam was split around what was presumably the electromagnetic field Barakijal was putting off. The Buster Rifles were able to breach the electromagnetic field and the cell membrane, but were dispersed inside its liquid interior.

"Scheisse!" Asuka shouted. "Why did they stop?!"

"Probably the electromagnetic field." Maya postulated. "But beyond that, we're not sure why the Buster Rifles got scattered."

As they were chatting, they didn't notice Barakijal charging several attacks, which formed in the electromagnetic field that was sitting around Barakijal and sent four purple/blue lightning bolts straight towards them. The Command Center

"Inbound attack!" Midori shouted.

"Dodge!" Mari shouted as the Evangelions jumped up, but the bolts all followed. As they tried to avoid the bolts again, they followed all four of them and impacted their A.T. Fields, making them slide backwards.

"What the hell was that?!" Asuka shouted as the four Evangelions reconvened off to the left side of Barakijal, reeling from Barakijal's attack.

–––

Rei shook her head as she felt the sting of Barakijal's attack. She rubbed her chest when she felt as though she'd been given one hell of a shock, and could still feel a tingling sensation and some mild heart palpitations.

"I believe the Angel shot back at us." Rei deadpanned.

"Obviously, wundergirl!" Asuka shouted. "What they hell?! We can't shoot it, we can't doge its attacks, which somehow followed us, what the fuck are we supposed to do?! Why can't this stupid shit be easier?!"

"Well… maybe just… I don't know…" Shinji said.

"Very helpful, baka!" Asuka shouted.

"Don't yell at onii–chan." Rei said. "We just have to think logically about this."

"Well, my logic is to stab this motherfucker to death!" Mari shouted as Rei saw Unit–05 deploy both its Prog Knives and charge towards Barakijal.

"Mari, what the hell are you doing!?" Kaji shouted.

"Stabbing this motherfucker in the face!" Mari shouted as Unit–05 ran straight at Barakijal, dodging its attacks, as the bolts hit the ground uselessly around them. Unit–05 made it to the cell membrane and ran right into it, ending up in a contained pool of LCL. This slowed down Unit–05's advance, but that wasn't what caused the issue. The LCL was crackling with electricity, and as Unit–05 moved to make the fatal blow, Mari was electrocuted by Barakijal, causing her and Unit–05 to convulse.

"AAAAHHHHH!" Mari screamed as she tried to stab at Barakijal's Core. "Fuck you!" Mari deployed Unit–05's pylon railguns and fired uselessly at the Core, watching as the rounds slowed down in the LCL and floated uselessly around her, crackling as the electric current in the LCL flowed through them.

"Mari!" Rei cried out as Unit–07 ran towards Barakijal.

"Rei, wait!" Shinji shouted.

"Baka, cover fire." Asuka said, handing him one of the railguns.

"Right!" Shinji replied as Unit–01 took the gun aimed at Barakijal.

Unit–01 and Unit–02 fired at Barakijal while Rei and Unit–07 ran straight at Barakijal, trying to get to Mari. As Unit–07 ran up to Unit–05, Rei reached through the cell membrane, getting electrocuted in the process and pulled Unit–05 free of Barakijal's insides. As they escaped, Barakijal sent a bolt of lightning after them, which hit both the weakened Unit–05 and Unit–07 and sent them flying. As Re recovered from the attack, Unit–07 bent down and lifted Unit–05 off the ground.

"Rei…?" Mari asked as Unit–07 half carried Unit–05 away from Barakijal. "You… you saved me?"

"Yes I did." Rei said. "But that was foolish."

"It was worth a shot…" Mari said.

"It was not worth your life." Rei said scoldingly.

"Ok, so what do we do now?" Shinji asked.

"Not run into the Angel's electrified body seems like a good plan." Asuka said.

"I second that…" Mari muttered.

"Maya, are there any weapons with more power behind them than the ones we have?" Rei asked.

"No, you have the most powerful weapons." Maya said.

"Ok…" Rei said. "I believe we are in trouble."

–––

Back in the Command Center, everyone was in shock, there was LCL inside Barakijal, and it was electrified, making a direct attack on the Core extremely dangerous.

"Hideki, run an analysis on the Angel. We need to understand what that attack was." Kaji ordered. "Midori, damage report on the EVAs, especially Unit–05. Sumire, Maya, we need options, anything, even if it's totally insane and seems impossible."

"Unit–01 and Unit–02 are undamaged." Midori reported. "Unit–07 has minor muscular damage to its arms and upper body, and Unit–07 has moderate to severe damage throughout its body, and Mari is showing signs of increased distress."

"After analyzing the Angel's attack pattern, and analyzing the data we got from inside thanks to Unit–05, it generates the attacks from the current inside the LCL surrounding its body." Hideki said. "And the current inside is too powerful for any weapons to get through, even the Buster Rifles."

"Great, so Mari's injured from her own recklessness, and we can't shoot the Angel." Kaji said. "Maya, Sumire, do you have anything we can possibly do to counter them?"

"Uh… we still have the beam sabre." Sumire said. "It should be able to hit the Core directly, from a further distance away, but… the person would still have to enter the Angel and risk getting, well, electrocuted."

"Did you get that, kids?" Kaji asked. "Someone want to volunteer to go stab this thing?"

"I'll do it…" Mari said weakly.

"Absolutely not, you're injured enough already." Kaji said.

"I agree with him, Mari." Misato added. "There's no need to risk your life further."

"I'll go." Shinji said.

"Baka, what the hell is wrong with you?!" Asuka shouted. "You are not doing this!"
–––

Shinji stared angrily at Asuka on his view screen as she berated him for volunteering to attack Barakijal directly. She had been ranting for a solid two minutes, but Shinji had had enough of her ranting for the moment.

"Why are you always so stupid?! You can't just go and attack something like this, it's too fucking dangerous! We need to attack it together"

"Asuka, stop it!" Shinji said angrily. "I'm volunteering to go so that you and Rei can cover me and keep Mari safe."

"You don't have to go, baka!" Asuka shouted. "Weren't you listening to a word I said?!"

"I did, but you're wrong." Shinji said. "I have the strongest A.T. Field, I have the best chance to survive being injured."

"So what, don't you think maybe I would have wanted to volunteer?!"

"ENOUGH!" Rei shouted. "This is no time for arguing! Asuka, stop being so paranoid! Onii–chan knows what he's doing. Onii–chan, stop standing there, go and kill the Angel!"

"Rei… I…" Asuka stammered.

"No, just get ready to cover him." Rei said. "Onii–chan, please be careful."

"I will Rei." Shinji replied. "So, where's the beam sabre?"

"A VTOL will drop it momentarily." Sumire said. "There's also a backup one in case it's needed."

"Sure." Shinji said.

"So how are we doing this?" Asuka asked.

"You and Rei shoot the Buster Rifles at the Angel while I charge from the side. Hopefully you'll keep it distracted enough to do some damage."

"I'm honestly surprised it's ignoring you." Maya said. "It just keeps heading towards Tokyo–3."

"Well, why don't we show it how bad of an idea it is to ignore us." Asuka said.

"Yeah, let's show them." Mari said.

"Not you, Mari." Misato said. "You're to stay there, and stay out of the way."

"The hell I will…" Mari began as she tried moving, but winced in pain.

"Yeah, good to see you're in a condition to fight." Asuka said sarcastically.

"Guys, focus." Kaji ordered. "Shinji, get ready to attack, we've let this thing linger long enough."

"Got it." Shinji replied as a VTOL flew overhead and dropped a cylinder with a parachute attached down. Unit–01 caught it and activated it with a hiss of its extending beam, which was a deep purple. "Was this the color you chose on purpose?"

"It was the most energy efficient color, and ended up being a better frequency to cut at." Maya explained. "The color is simply a side effect of the wavelength we chose."

"Cool." Shinji said.

"So, baka, are you doing this, or are you chickening out?" Asuka asked.

"I'm doing this." Shinji said. "Just cover me the best you can."

"We know what to do, ya big hero." Asuka quipped.

"Alright… here I go." Shinji said nervously as Unit–01 took off, its purple beam sabre active and clutched tightly in its hand. As Unit–01 got close, Unit–02 and Unit–07 began firing their Buster Rifles at Barakijal, covering Unit–01's approach. Unit–01 leapt into the air and raised the beam sabre over its head, pointing its blade down to bring a powerful, final strike on the Core. However, before Unit–01 was able to complete to the attack, five lightning bolts shot out and struck Unit–01, ripping through its A.T. Field, and passing right through the chest and abdomen, sending Unit–01 into Barakijal's electrified LCL, and the beam sabre spinning towards the ground.

"AAAAHHHHH!" Shinji screamed as he was trapped inside Barakijal.

"SHINJI!" Asuka screamed as Unit–02 took off towards the fallen beam sabre. "I'll fucking show you, you stupid Angel."

As Unit–01 crashed motionless into the ground, Unit–02 got close to the beam sabre, but also suffered the same fate as Unit–01, and was hit several times by lightning bolts, ripping through the A.T. Field. However, Asuka tried to keep going, staggering under the pain she was faced with, but refused to quit as Unit–01 continued to writhe in pain.

"AAAAHHHHH!" Asuka screamed. "You're not stopping me!"

Unit–02 struggled to make it to the beam sabre and was feet away from it when another set of lightning bolts struck it in the chest, Unit–02 succumbed to the stress of being electrocuted repeatedly and fell to its knees, with Asuka passing out.

"No!" Rei cried as she looked at her two fallen friends. "I must do something reckless…"

Unit–07 dropped its Buster Rifle and ran towards the beam sabre lying on the ground some distance away. Unit–07 got about half way when it was assaulted by Barakijal's lightning, taking several hits to the chest and abdomen, Rei screamed in pain as she felt like her flesh was burning.

"I must save onii–chan…" Rei muttered as Unit–07 continued its advance before being hit several more times and finally collapsing from the stress. "Too strong…"
–––

Mari watched in horror as Unit–01 and Unit–02 took direct hits from Barakijal, completely helpless to make a difference. However, when she saw Unit–07 collapse, Mari, even though the pain she was still suffering, unsteadily got up and tried to keep her Evangelion from keeling over.

"REI!" Mari screamed. "You fucking Angel, I'm going to kill you!"

"Mari, don't go for that beam sabre over there." Kaji said. "We're dropping the other one now… everyone else moved too quick before it could be given to you."

"Mari, you also need to hurry, Shinji's still being electrocuted inside that thing." Maya said. "You need to pull him out and then kill the Angel."

"Fine!" Mari shouted as she grabbed the other beam sabre that had just parachuted in. "Hold on Shinji, I'll save you."

Unit–05 staggered forward, not able to run as it had earlier with its previous injuries. However, Mari had dealt with pain before, quite a lot of pain in fact.

"You think this is pain?" Mari muttered. "Lilith toured me for what seemed like forever… this is child's play."

Unit–05 took several lightning bolts to the chest, but did not stop. Mari kept going, even if was slow, it was still progress.

"Is that the best you got?!" Mari shouted tauntingly. "Make it hurt you, stupid fucking Angel! I can handle way more pain than this!"

Barakijal, almost as if it could hear Mari's taunts, fired eve more lightning at Unit–05, which took every shot and finally reached the cell membrane. Unit–05 leapt inside once again, activating the beam sabre as it went in and charged straight at the Core. The beam sabre went right through it, burning a perfect hole in the S2 Engine, and causing the Angel to explode in a massive cross shaped explosion which sent all four Evangelions flying away from the epicenter. Mari, still in a great deal of pain, and feeling like her heart was about to explode, slowly looked up to see nothing left of the Angel.

"Huh… I finally got one all to myself." Mari said proudly. "How is everyone?"

"They're alive, but in a great deal of distress." Sumire said. "Medical teams have been dispatched."

"So they're gonna make it?" Mari asked weakly.

"Yes, as long as they're brought in quickly." Maya said. "And the same goes for you… you need to be brought in quick!"

"I'm fine, really." Mari said. "I can't even feel anything… especially my arm."

"Don't say that Mari." Kaji said. "Just relax and don't move around too much."

"It doesn't matter…" Mari said. "I know when I'm fine, and I'm fine."

"No you're not!" Maya said angrily. "Your EKG is all over the place, and it looks like you're having a heart attack."

"I'm not, I don't smell toast." Mari replied.

"That's a stroke, not a heart attack!" Maya rebutted. "We need to get her now!"

"We're working on it, she'll be the first recovered." Kaji replied.

"Good… cause I need a nap…" Mari said as she passed out from her own injuries.

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.

Sync Score Rankings!
Shinji – 150.0% (No Change)
Asuka – 125.0% (+5.0%)
Mari – 69.5% (+50.2%)
Rei – 66.8% (+44.6%)

Firstly, Rei's name. As mentioned directly in the final chapter of Episode VI, and mentioned in passing at the beginning of Chapter 2, Rei's name has changed since Third Impact. Shinji said she was entitled to use their mother's family name, so she added Ikari to the end of her existing name. I wrote this out for two reasons, Rei considers Shinji a brother, and Rei is essentially Shinji's sister and Yui's daughter, so her having the name Ikari makes sense, especially now that Gendo is gone.

Now onto the Evangelions genetic makeup. For the sake of not having to describe more unique Evangelions, I decided early on that the remaining Evangelions of the Production set (Unit–02 onwards) would have one of two genetic profiles, Adam Type A or Adam Type B. The Evangelions under each genetic profile would look identical to one another, except for their unique paint colors. Adam Type A was created by Kyoko when she modified Unit–02 to have more eyes. So, because additional samples of that material were kept, they were used by the U.K. and Israel to make Unit–05 and Unit–07 respectively. Unit–03 and Unit–04 (and Unit–06) are all Adam Type B, as Unit–03 and Unit–04 were created in the U.S., and we all know what happened to those particular Evangelions. The U.S. gave France a copy of the sample they worked with, which resulted in the creation of Unit–06.

Now, with the flashback depicting Kaji's final confrontation with Yamada, the line "The pair leveled their weapons at one another one last time, and a flurry of shots rang out in the twilight, with a murder of crows flying out of the trees in the distance" marks the end of what was originally published in Episode VI, Chapter 4. Everything after that in the flashback was written back then, but not released to hide Kaji's true fate.

I added the scene with Kaji's party because I couldn't just have everyone assume he'd have been reintroduced, however I wanted it known that the cover story Misato came up with is the "official" reason he was gone. His exploits against SEELE and everything else will stay hidden. This is plausible because he was a spy beforehand, so him being called away on clandestine business isn't beyond the realm of possibility.

So, the new weapons, the Buster Rifle and beam sabre are both modeled after the weapons that were encountered when the Gundams crossed over. However, the railgun, which unlike the Pallet Rifle, fires without using gunpowder, it is a far more versatile weapon. I have, at least personally, modeled it after the Walther G22 bullpup rifle, simply with a longer barrel, and a targeting array hooked into the EVAs targeting system. Also unlike the Pallet Rifle, the new railgun can have its magazine exchanged in the field, which from the show, does not seem to be possible for the Pallet Rifle.

Onto this week's Angel, the nineteenth Angel Barakijal (and no, I don't know how to pronounce that) is another extracanonical Angel from the NERV White Paper RPG. With Barakijal being the Angel of Lightning, I decided that throwing lightning bolts would be the most effective weapon. Also, because the Angel looks like a cell, I thought that there being some kind of liquid inside the membrane made sense. Having that be LCL just happened to work out, because it wouldn't be unnatural for an Angel to have that inside of them. This Angel also only retaliates, but otherwise doesn't engage the EVAs confrontationally.

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