Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion in any way shape or form.
Chapter 1: The Black Eva
Setting the stage:
"So, the 17th Angel has been destroyed." Gendo Ikari stared blankly into the space of his inner sanctum. "Seele will not take this well," he muttered.
"What do you think their reaction will be?" inquired Fuyutsuki, standing at his side.
"I do not doubt that they will now try to take Unit 01 by force," replied Ikari.
"The question then is when?" muttered Fuyutsuki.
Shinji stood by the bedside of Asuka. Looking at her, he felt a profound sadness and guilt for he was certain that he was more than partially responsible for her current condition. Shinji merely sat by Asuka's bedside, watching her chest rise and fall in her comatose state. The room was completely silent save for the soft beeping of the machinery that monitored Asuka's condition constantly.
Shinji was at a total loss. He wished it would all end, that Asuka would wake up, that the Angels would just disappear, that the Evas would cease to exist. He wished it would all be over and done with. However, Shinji instinctively knew that the fighting was far from over. Before the gore belonging to the 17th Angel had begun to dry on the hand of Unit 01, Shinji knew that it wouldn't be long before the fighting would begin again.
"Asuka," he whispered softly, "I'm sorry." He dropped his face into his hands, sobbing. "This is all my fault."
Asuka remained motionless, unresponsive. She made no sound. She lay facing up, her eyes, open but unseeing, staring upward at the blank ceiling.
"Please," groaned Shinji "Please. Just wake up. I don't want to be alone. Wake up. Please Asuka!" Shinji's voice was beginning to grow more frantic. Finally, he reached out and grabbed Asuka's shoulder. He began to shake her mercilessly. "Wake up! Wake up!" His voice remained soft but its franticness was apparent. Finally, Shinji stopped. He released Asuka's shoulder and dropped his head in his hands.
In the upper atmosphere, completely undetected by the sensors of NERV far below, the plane flew, bearing its deadly cargo to its final destination. When the pilot of the aircraft determined that he had reached the proper coordinates, he hit the button that released his deadly payload. The gargantuan object dropped like a stone towards the sea below.
Ishiro Saegusa stepped off the train that had brought him to Tokyo 3. As he stepped off the platform, he looked around the city, trying to decide which way he should go. He looked down at the letter in his hand, a letter from NERV. It had said that there would be someone waiting to pick him up, but it appeared that both he and the letter were mistaken.
Growling under his breath, the boy shouldered his duffle bag and set off in what he deemed to be the best direction. He would find a way into the NERV headquarters, even if he had to find a shovel and dig his way down to the geofront.
"I can't believe this," growled Misato, "Kaoru was supposed to be the last Angel. If that's the case then why do we need another pilot?"
Her blue car sped down the road, weaving in and out of traffic, its driver oblivious to the horns of the other people with whom she shared the road. "We don't even have another Eva."
Misato had received information mere minutes earlier that the 6th child would be arriving in Tokyo 3 by train. Headquarters had dispatched her, as usual, to pick up the child and deliver him to NERV. "Hasn't anyone ever heard of advanced notice?" Misato moaned.
It hit the water with the force of a meteor. The force of the object's splashdown knocked over a few of the still standing buildings that had been flooded long ago. Slowly, the creature that had been dropped into the water rose up. Sunlight glinted off of its silvery hide. Slowly, relentlessly, it plodded towards shore and the vulnerable city beyond.
The alarms wailed through NERV headquarters. Crew members rushed to their positions, caught of guard by the obviously mistaken belief that the 17th Angel was the final threat to Tokyo 3. In Command center, technicians, including Maya, Makoto and Shigeru were attempting to discern the source of the alarm.
"We have visual contact," said Maya. An image appeared on the gigantic screen floating in the space in front of them.
"Spectrum analysis, blue. It's definitely an Angel," stated Makoto.
"It looks like an Eva," added Shigeru.
The monster did indeed look like an Eva. It was a humanoid creature that stood at least a hundred meters tall. Its color was silver, the pattern of armor plates perfectly mirroring an Eva. It also wore the familiar Evangelion series shoulder braces. The only thing that differed from a true Eva was its face. In place of any kind of face the creature only possessed a dome with a mirror-like finish. The brilliant red core lodged in its abdomen seemed to glow with unearthly light.
"It's a hybrid," muttered Fuyutsuki, "A combination between Angel and Eva."
"Prepare to launch Units 01 and 02 out on sortie," ordered Fuyutsuki.
"Pilot Pilot Soryu is currently in a comatose state and unable to pilot," replied Maya, "We are also unable to locate Pilot Ayanami."
"Then send out Unit 01," said Fuyutsuki.
"Aye Sir," replied Maya.
"Pilot Ikari, please report to Unit 01 holding cage immediately. Pilot Ikari, please report to Unit 01 holding cage immediately." The announcement blared out of the speakers far and wide across the compound.
Shinji paid them no heed. He wanted nothing to do with the Evangelions anymore. He had left Asuka a while ago and now sat huddled under a stairway. He would never get into his Eva again if he had anything to do with it.
"Pilot Ikari, please report to Unit 01 holding cage immediately." The speakers continued to broadcast his summons ceaselessly. Shinji didn't move. He wasn't going anywhere.
"We've located Pilot Ikari!" exclaimed Maya. She brought an image of Shinji up on the screen. He sat, huddled under a stairway.
"Why isn't he responding?" wondered Makoto.
"It doesn't matter," growled Fuyutsuki, "If he won't come then we'll send somebody to drag him over."
"No." Commander Ikari's voice silenced everyone else in Command center. "Classify Pilot Ikari as unable to pilot."
"But sir," protested Fuyutsuki, "If he doesn't pilot Unit 01, who's going to fight the Angel."
"Major Katsuragi is already bringing in the 6th child," replied Gendo calmly, resting his chin on his gloved hands.
"But it will take too long to reconfigure Unit 01 for the 6th child!" protested Fuyutsuki.
"We will not be using Units 01 or 02," said Gendo, "The 6th child shall pilot Unit 14."
"What?" gasped Fuyutsuki.
"But sir, there is no Unit 14," stated Makoto.
"That's what security is for Lieutenant," was all that Commander Ikari said.
Ishiro continued to wander the streets calmly, long after the last person had disappeared and all but the shortest buildings had dropped out of sight. Ishiro was rapidly growing frustrated.
"I had to come right in the middle of an attack," he growled, "It figures."
As he continued to walk, he heard the not so far away sounds of heavy weapons fire. Along with those sounds he heard a consistent series of loud thumps, footsteps of a giant.
The creature appeared on the eastern horizon. Sunlight glinted off its silvery metal. Several military aircraft circled around it, firing away with every weapon they had. Even as Ishiro watched, the monster retaliated. The featureless mirror that made up the creature's face flashed. A brilliant beam of light arched outwards, blasting one of the offending aircraft out of the sky and creating the trademark cross shaped explosion exclusive to the Angels.
Ishiro heard the screech of tires behind him and saw a blue car coming to a sudden stop. The passenger side door swung open. "Get in!" shouted the woman in the driver's seat.
"About time," muttered Ishiro before diving through the door. Misato pulled the door shut behind him and shifted the car into gear, heading to the nearest boarding platform for a car train.
"You people need to work about your punctuality," commented Ishiro as Misato drove.
"Sorry about that," replied Misato, "I was only told about this ten minutes ago."
"Gee," retorted Ishiro sarcastically, "It sure is a good thing that we're not in the middle of a crisis."
"Don't give me any of your crap!" snapped Misato, glaring at the boy. The glare only seemed to amuse Ishiro. He did stop any more complaints he might have had. Misato picked up a cell phone and began to dial.
"This is Major Katsuragi. Yes, I've got the 6th child. Oh don't worry; I'll have him there soon. Can you get an express car train ready? Thank you." She turned off the phone. "Welcome to NERV," she told Ishiro.
Ishiro merely turned his head around to observe the gigantic form of the Angel behind them. "Welcome indeed."
Misato took a moment to get a better look at her passenger. The boy was about Shinji's height. He was muscular, but not overly so. His unruly brown hair gave him a slightly disheveled appearance. His eyes were also a soft brown color. As the boy watched the Angel, his eyes seemed to switch from brown to glowing red and back to brown. Misato suppressed a shudder and drove on.
"Major Katsuragi reports that she has the 6th child and she will be arriving in 15 minutes.
"Excellent," said Gendo, "Kouzou, would you meet them and escort them to the holding cage for Unit 14?"
"Yes sir," replied Fuyutsuki, walking off to fulfill his orders.
"Good," commented Ikari, who headed for a personnel elevator himself.
As the door out of the parking lot slid open, Misato found herself standing face to face with Fuyutsuki. "Oh! H-hello sir," she stammered.
"Come with me," was the only thing Fuyutsuki said. Without waiting for a response, he walked down the hallways of NERV, turning at seemingly random points. Misato, knowing better than to question the vice commander, followed silently. Behind her, Ishiro followed them. Neither Misato nor her superior could see him. Therefore, they could not see the knowing smile on his face.
Finally, Fuyutsuki stood in front of a seemingly blank portion of wall. Without hesitation, he placed his hand on a flat panel. The panel flared white and a smaller panel underneath it flipped open, revealing a keypad. Fuyutsuki keyed in his code swiftly.
Slowly, a seam appeared in the wall, forming the outline of a door. Misato couldn't hold back her curiosity anymore. "Where are you taking us sir?"
"You will soon see," replied Fuyutsuki softly. The door slid upward into the ceiling.
"So," whispered Ishiro, his voice barely audible, "A spare for a spare." He grinned.
Fuyutsuki lead them down the secret hallway. They emerged onto a platform overlooking an ocean of cryo-stasis fluid. On the other side of the pink colored fluid Misato saw what was unmistakably an Evangelion holding cage. A small rubber boat with an outboard motor floated in front of the platform.
They boarded the boat and took it across the sea of fluid. Passing through the door located in the solid wall, they entered an area that was completely black. Ishiro and Misato entered first. When Fuyutsuki shut the door behind them, the darkness became total.
Looking ahead, Misato suddenly saw to glowing red points in the darkness, exactly where Ishiro's eyes probably should have been. The lights came on, and the glowing red points were replaced by Ishiro's gentle brown eyes. Misato suppressed a shudder and looked at the titanic occupant of the holding cage.
Misato couldn't help but gasp when she saw the thing in front of her. It was an Eva alright. This would have been indistinguishable from Unit 01 had it not been for the fact that the Unit was pitch black in color.
"So this is the fourteenth," observed Ishiro.
Both Misato and Fuyutsuki whirled around to look at the boy in stunned shock. How could he have known exactly what the Eva was? Ishiro gazed at the Eva with a look of admiration. He felt something very appealing about it. "I take it that I am to pilot this thing," he observed.
"That is correct," came a voice from the observation chamber located a the top and back of the holding cage. In the chamber stood Commander Ikari, gazing coldly down at the 6th child.
"At last I meet the infamous Commander Ikari," stated Ishiro, a smirk appearing on his face as he met Gendo's gaze without hesitation.
"You will pilot this Eva against the Angels," instructed Gendo.
Ishiro lowered his gaze back down to the Eva, his smirk not disappearing. After a moment, he looked back up at Commander Ikari. "If I am to pilot this thing, what exactly do you intend to give me in exchange for my services?"
"What?" gasped Fuyutsuki, "What do you mean?"
"Funny," observed Ishiro, glancing at the vice commander, "I didn't take you for a simpleton." Ignoring Fuyutsuki's growl, he turned to regard Commander Ikari once again. "As I was saying, you don't expect to send me out there and place my life on the line for a city which I have never set foot in before today, against an enemy who has done nothing against me, and you expect me to do this without making out the terms of my service."
"None of the other children have ever demanded such things," Ikari pointed out.
"Perhaps that is because the children know nothing besides piloting the Evas," retorted Ishiro, "I do however, have other things that I can do with my time."
A tremor ran through the facility, causing the 6th child to look up towards the ceiling. Turning to look back at Gendo, he smirked. "Perhaps this is not the best time to discuss the terms of my employment. I shall pilot this thing and eliminate the current threat. Then we can get down to the matter of my extended tenure here."
"That will do for now," replied Gendo.
"Then let us not waste anymore time," declared Ishiro, smiling widely.
"The holding cage has been drained," announced Maya, "Injecting entry plug."
The plug slid down into the Eva at the base of its spine. The armored plates of the gigantic bio-android slid into place over it. "Filling the entry plug."
"Oops, said Misato slyly, "I guess I forgot to tell him about the LCL." Remembering Shinji's initial reaction to the LCL, she looked forward to Ishiro's reaction, hoping it would humble the boy a bit.
Ishiro didn't seem to be concerned when the entry plug filled with the translucent fluid. "I take it that this stuff will oxygenate my blood directly," he remarked.
"How did you know?" exclaimed Misato.
Ishiro held back his response as the fluid rose above the level of his head. When he was fully immersed, he made his reply. "What other reason would you even think about almost drowning me in this stuff?" He grimaced slightly. "This must be one of those acquired tastes. You wouldn't happen to have this stuff in some other flavor. Blood's really not my favorite."
"Oh stop you're whining," scolded Misato, "You're a boy you know." She had used that very remark in Shinji on that fateful day so long ago.
"And you would know what that's all about," retorted Ishiro, his smirk returning.
"What's that?" growled Misato.
"Is there something you would like to share with the rest of us Major," taunted Ishiro.
Misato's mouth moved but no words came out. Her eyes were wide with surprise and rage. How dare this boy even think about calling her a…she couldn't bring herself to think about it. Looking around, she noticed several of the technicians, including Maya were holding back giggles. Shigeru looked like he was ready to burst at the seams with laughter.
"Opening bi-directional circuits," announced Maya shakily. "Synchronization reading at 150%." Her eyes widened. "How is this possible?" she whispered.
"No one can synchronize that well their first time," agreed Misato.
Ishiro sat rigid in the entry plug. He felt another presence in the Eva, a powerful one, but also a gentle one. As soon as he had entered the Eva he felt like he was being scrutinized, examined like a specimen under a microscope. It was an unsettling feeling. Finally he felt a sense of recognition from the being. Then, its presence unfolded, surrounding him, engulfing him and filling him with strength.
"I am ready," he said.
"Harmonics seem normal," reported Maya, "S2 engine is stable and at full power. All systems go for launch. Beginning final safety check." She waited while the screen relayed the information to her. "All systems green. Launch path has been opened. The path is clear. Evangelion Unit 14 ready for launch." She turned to look at Misato for the final order.
"Eva launch!" yelled Misato. The launch platform shot upward like a rocket. Inside the cockpit, Ishiro felt the momentum pressing him into the seat of the entry plug. He smiled as the Eva made its assent to the surface.
Topside, the hundred meter Angel was slowly making its way towards the heart of the city. In front of the Angel, the final doors of the elevator opened and the Eva arrived seconds later. Its black form stood as tall as the Angel. As the Angel regarded it, its core flared.
"Ishiro?" asked Misato, "Are you ready?"
"Absolutely," said Ishiro in all confidence, "Let me at the bastard."
"Final safety locks…release!" The last two locks that had secured the Eva to its launch pad opened, releasing the Eva's shoulder braces. The Eva seemed to sag forward under the burden of its own weight. "Evangelion Unit 14…move out!"
"I don't know how he's going to pull this off," remarked Maya, "He may be synchronized at 150%, but he's never piloted before. How's he going to know how to make it walk, much less fight?"
"We don't have a choice," replied Misato. To Ishiro she said, "Engage the enemy!"
To her stunned surprise, the Eva strode off the launch pad. Its gait was smooth and controlled. The Eva itself was perfectly balanced. As it walked forward, the Angel/Eva began its attack. It punched forward with its right arm, the arm extending to an impossible length.
"Look out!" shouted Misato. Unit 14 smoothly sidestepped the attack, twisting and reaching out with its left hand to grab the Angel's arm. Continuing its spin, the Eva yanked on the Angel's arm, forcing the Angel to stumble forward slightly. The Eva reversed the direction of its spin so that it was now pulling, but facing the opposite direction. The Angel's arm seemed to flex and bend like a rope. The Angel stumbled into the Eva's reach.
Unit 14 punched with its right fist as it pulled on the Angel's arm with its left, yanking the Angel right into its punch. The blow struck the Angel right in the center of its mirror-like face, sending it reeling back away from the Eva. Unit 14 pulled on the Angel's arm again, forcing the Angel to come back. This time, the Eva lashed out with a kick while releasing the Angel's arm. The Angel was sent flying backwards.
The Angel slowly righted itself. As it did so, its left shoulder brace opened up, revealing the handle of a progressive knife. The Angel pulled the knife from its sheath. Immediately, the knife began to hum with ultrasonic energy.
"Ishiro, engage your progressive knife," instructed Misato.
Ishiro didn't respond. Instead, he faced the Angel head on, the Eva's arms hung motionless at its sides. The Angel charged forward. Ignoring Misato, who was screaming at him to follow orders, Ishiro waited for the Angel to get nearer. The Angel thrust forward with its knife. However, Unit 14 had already left the ground. A flying forward flip sent it soaring over the Angel's head to touchdown lightly behind the monstrosity. The Angel immediately spun around, its knife held for a backhanded slash that would sever the Eva's head at the neck.
Ishiro seemed to already know what the Angel was going to try. The Eva had already ducked down by the time the Angel had entered its spin. The knife slashed harmlessly over Unit 14's head. The Eva then went into a forward roll, right before the Angel reversed both its grip on the knife and the direction of its swing, trying to stab downward. By the time it did so, the Eva was already out of reach.
This game went on for another few minutes. Ishiro seemed to know every move his enemy was going to make before it made it. The Angel couldn't so much as touch Unit 14, which hadn't even deployed its AT field yet.
Misato had forgotten her anger at being disobeyed. The anger was replaced by a profound sense of awe at the boy's natural skill for piloting the Eva. Moreover, unlike Shinji, Ishiro seemed to enjoy every minute of it.
As the Eva dodged away yet another time, Ishiro finally decided that he had enough toying with his prey. "It's time for a counterattack," he announced. However, the Eva did not reach for its progressive knife. Rather, it retreated a short distance and stood with its arms hanging down again.
"I need a more effective weapon than that knife," the boy muttered. The Eva, sensing this, responded appropriately. The metal plates over the Eva's wrists began to bulge as if something was pressing at them from underneath. Inside the cockpit, Ishiro felt the bulges as if they were his own wrists. Slowly, a seam opened in the plates, running down the center of the bulge. At last, the sheets of metal parted. From the opening in each wrist, there emerged a black rod. The rod was about as long as the handle for a progressive knife. The two rods flipped down into the Eva's hands. The Eva's mouth opened and it emitted a low, gurgling bellow.
"This just isn't possible!" Maya nearly shrieked, "The Eva can't modify its body to that degree just to suit the whims of the pilot."
"It just did," observed Gendo from his seat. His face held a look of intense interest.
Ishiro marveled at the mysterious objects for a moment. Even he wasn't sure what they did. However, their purpose became clear when, with a flare of orange light, a shaft of light emerged from the end of each rod, extending down towards the ground. The shafts lengthened and shifted until it had taken form. They were the unmistakable shapes of sword blades.
"What are those?" gasped Misato.
"The sensors show that they're AT fields," announced Makoto.
"The Eva can manipulate the shape of its AT field," gasped Fuyutsuki, "That's impossible."
"So far everything about this fight has been impossible," remarked Ikari, his tone suspicious, "The boy's ability to synchronize at such a high level, his natural control over the Eva, his skill in battle, his ability to manipulate and shape the Eva's very body to his will, even the ability to shape and manipulate an AT field.
The Angel regarded the Eva, its featureless face conveying nothing, but its posture indicating the monster's uncertainty. Unit 14 raised the sword in its right head until it held the blade in front of its face in a salute. It then lowered the sword and awaited the Angel's move.
The Angel finally made up its mind. It charged forward, its knife leading. Unit 14 remained motionless. The Angel came on, its charge seemingly unstoppable. It was now almost on top of Unit 14.
The Eva's movements were almost too fast for the eye to follow. The first slash sheared through the blade of the progressive knife. The second, coming from the other hand, sliced through the Angel's chest. The third strike severed the Angel's leading arm while the fourth strike sliced diagonally through the chest and shoulder.
Several more slashes followed, each faster and more difficult to trace than the last. The Angel seemed to be in the center of a whirlwind of glowing orange lines as the blades struck again and again, their AT fields shearing effortlessly through armor, flesh and bone. A final thrust from the Eva's left sword impaled the Angel's core. The storm of slashes ended abruptly.
For a moment, both the Angel and the Eva seemed frozen, motionless. Finally, the Angel seemed to fall apart. Its body had been sliced into dozens of pieces, all of them tumbling to the streets below. At last, only the core remained, impaled on the Eva's left sword.
Unit 14 held the pose for a moment. Then, with a flick of the wrist, it sent the spherical red core flying up off the end of the sword. The Eva sliced the core with both blades in a crisscross motion that cut the core into neat quarters, which followed the remains of the doomed Angel. The blades disappeared. Unit 14 twisted its grip on the rods until they were held next to its wrists. The rods seemed to melt into the metal skin of the Eva's wrists.
"Mission completed," declared Ishiro.
Silence reigned in the command center. Then, slowly at first, someone began to applaud. The level of applause increased in volume and intensity. It was followed by cheers and shouts of exultation. Soon, the entire command center was in a celebratory uproar.
Only three individuals did not join in the celebration. Ikari watched the Eva with a look of intense interest. Fuyutsuki watched with a look that bordered on disbelief. Misato also watched Unit 14 with a similar look. She cast a worried glance at a monitor that showed Shinji huddled under a random stairway. She would have to talk to the 3rd Child later.
Ishiro stepped out of the entry plug. Smiling, he looked fondly at the Eva he had just emerged from. It had been an experience of a lifetime to pilot Unit 14. Ishiro turned to face the group of people who had come to greet him.
"Good job," said Misato exultantly, placing her hands on the boy's shoulders. Ishiro smiled smugly. Maya, Fuyutsuki and Gendo stood behind Misato.
"You are to be commended," remarked Fuyutsuki, though his face showed that he did not agree with his own statement, "We took only minimal damage thanks to your skill in piloting Unit 14."
"Speaking of Unit 14," said Misato, turning to face the commander and vice commander of NERV, "Why was it such a big secret."
"There is something very different about this one," stated Ishiro from behind her, drawing a confused look from both her and Fuyutsuki, "Something that sets it apart from the other Evas."
"That is correct," came a voice from farther down the passage. A blond haired woman strode up the passageway. She was dressed in a white lab coat and appeared to be about Misato's age.
"Ritsuko," gasped Misato, "But your arrest…?"
"All a ruse," replied Ritsuko, "Gendo needed me to devote my total attention to Unit 14. But I couldn't do it without raising suspicion, so we staged my incarceration in order to give me the chance to work on the unit unnoticed."
"And an excellent job you have done Dr. Akagi," commented Ishiro, not even noticing Ritsuko's surprise, "You have indeed created a work of art." He grinned. "Perhaps you would like to tell us what makes this Eva so different from the rest."
"What makes you think you are entitled to that information?" demanded Ritsuko.
"It is one of the conditions of having me as a pilot," replied Ishiro nonchalantly, "That and the opportunity to become an assistant of sorts to you Doctor so that I might find out all there is to know about this Eva."
"Speaking of your conditions," interjected Ikari, "I think you had better list them now so that we can separate the reasonable from the ludicrous."
"Certainly," said Ishiro, "First, I will be allowed unimpeded access to all data concerning this specific Eva. Second, I shall participate with Dr. Akagi on all experiments and the like conducted on this specific Eva. And third, outside of attacks on the city, I shall arrange my own schedule for all tests synchronization tests and medical exams."
"Hmm." Commander Ikari considered the demands carefully, weighing them, gauging them, trying to see where the boy stood to benefit from them. Finally, he gave his answer. "Very well, I agree to all your conditions."
"Excellent," remarked Ishiro, smiling coldly, "I'm sure that working with you will prove to be an interesting experience Commander."
For the first time in his life, Gendo Ikari found himself suppressing a shudder as he watched the boy. Ikari was used to being the manipulator, using people to suit his own ends. He had never realized that someone could turn the tables on him so easily. Without saying another word, Gendo left, Fuyutsuki following right behind him.
"And now," said Ishiro, turning to Misato, "Let us find the 3rd child."
Shinji had not moved from under the stairs for over an hour now. He remained motionless, hugging his knees to his chest and resting his head against them. He no longer fought back tears because they could no longer come. In the distance, he heard footsteps echoing down the hallways. He was sure that they were coming for him now, probably to drag him and throw him into the cockpit of his Eva so that he could go fight for them.
"Let them try," he muttered weakly. Everything was wrong. Rei was nothing more than a walking dummy plug. He would probably never live to hear Asuka insult him, call him an idiot or hit him again, never live to see hear her laugh again. He would probably die alone in the world.
Even Misato couldn't help things. For a while he had thought that she had actually cared about him, that he mattered to her. He had thought that she could be like his mother. How foolish he had been. He was nothing but a tool to her. She manipulated him, just like his father had.
The steps grew closer. There were two of them. Finally, they emerged from the darkness of the hallway into his view. The first was indeed Misato. The second was a boy about Shinji's age, remaining in the shadows. The boy's eyes were two red pinpoints in the darkness over his face.
"Shinji…" Misato began, about to scold him for running away again, for only caring about himself. But the boy reached out his arm so that it blocked her from moving forward. An excellent sign that he wished her to be silent.
The boy came and crawled under the stairs to sit down next to Shinji. Brown had replaced the red in his eyes. His face was filled with a look of kindness. He sat next to Shinji, looking across at the wall in front of them, saying nothing.
Misato was about to start again, but the boy silenced her with a glare. Misato took the hint and left the way she had come. The boy remained where he was, saying nothing.
For the first time in his life, Shinji found that he could stand the silence no more. He turned and looked at his companion. "Who are you?" he asked quietly.
The boy smiled, returning Shinji's stare. "I am Ishiro Saegusa," he answered. His smile widened. "And you are…?"
"Shinji," replied Shinji, managing a weak smile of his own.
Ishiro turned his head back to look at the wall in front of him, the smile lingering on his face. "Would you like to tell me?" he inquired gently. Shinji started. "I can tell just by watching you that you have been through hardship and trouble. Will you tell me what is happening to the boy whose smile is so much more becoming than a frown?"
Shinji was silent for a moment as he searched for the right words. He realized that he wanted to bear his soul to this boy he had known only for a few short minutes, to spill the story of sorrow, fear and anger that had been welling up inside of him ever since he had first arrived in Tokyo 3. "I don't know where to begin," he said softly.
"Where stories always begin," replied Ishiro, "At the beginning."
The ocean is a vast place. The blast of heat from the second impact that melted the ice over Antarctica served only to make it even vaster. The ocean is the cradle of all life. From its waters crawled the ancestors of all animals, the soft lapping of its waves had worn away countries and continents. Its waves and currents had remade the world a hundred times over.
The ocean is the perfect place for many things. It is the perfect place to hunt, to live, to play, to drift, or to die. Yes, the ocean is the perfect place for many things. It is also the perfect place to hide. The ocean's vastness hides ranges of mountains that dwarf the highest ones ever to grace the land and valleys deep enough that those same mountains could sink into them and never be seen again. In a place so vast and in terrain so varied, even the largest of things could be hidden and never be found.
At the bottom of the ocean known as the pacific, many hundreds of feet down, the ground was littered with bones. Not the bones of animals, but rather the bones of ships long since sunken beneath the sea. The age of these ships ranged across all eras. Some were as old as the mid 1950s, others were more modern, some of them coming from times as recent as 2001. Among the graveyard of hulking ships was the singular reason they were there.
The ocean is the perfect place to hide. Many secrets are locked away in its depths. At the bottom of the pacific, among the wrecks and ghosts of ships long lost, one such secret was about to become a secret no more as something among the wrecks, something enormous, stirred.