Epilogue

Written by: Advantage

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"Their little universe is very young, and it's god is still a child. But it Is too soon to judge them; when We return in the Last Days, We will l consider what should be saved."

Here, at last.

At age thirty-five and still healthy as a horse, Pioneer-explorer Shinji Ikari sat patiently on the shuttle headed out for Space Station five.

In his briefcase was some of the more important documents, but that could wait. What he really wanted to see was what the latest news had been brought from the moon.

Of course, the information was classified. Naturally- even though the moon was still international territory. Arrogant nations such as China and a handful of others were a little more cautious about what they found- especially after the mysterious landing of a object of unknown origins on South Ataria Island in the south pacific only three years ago.

But this wasn't mostly of Shinji's concern. For the moment, this was a good getaway from some of the more pressing media conditions back home.

Before he had left he had given yet another interview about what happened twenty-one years ago, and the mystery that still lingered on the planet as to how- suddenly- everything became well again. Well- no, better. In fact, the Earth had been completely restored. Radiation leftover from nuclear weapons had been erased, the air was almost completely clear (Save for some 'natural' dust and smoke), And the water was clean and habitable. Species thought extinct had been returned to the planet, and almost immediately the collective nations of the world decided to take better measures to protect their planet.

The secrets of NERV were released to the public, and before long advanced technologies had been uncovered to bring new power systems to light and new technologies to the other cities. The only technologies not exploited by the world were those of a darker, more mysterious nature that humanity had already been warned against.

As he sat in the Zero gravity of the shuttle on it's approach to space station five, he recalled all that had happened since then. He wasn't so much in touch with some of the other extended people of NERV, but every once and a while he would get a call from his mom and receive the usual updates and tabs on everyone. He was still sending the occasional postcard to the Suzuharas- and learned that Hikari had given birth to twins. He wished the best of luck for both of them.

Now they were approaching Space Station five. The massive dual-ringed satellite had been first established in the past three years or so, and already the lower first level was completed. Much of the higher parts were still incomplete scaffolding, but with time Space Station five would prove to be the worthy successor to the still-orbiting international space station- now a monument to human achievement.

Shinji hung on to his restraints as he neared the base, taking a deep breath until they were safely docked aboard.

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Shinji Ikari had a familiar, well-known face among the older generations of the world, and seeing a familiar face made one particular person smile.

Even around age seventy Ritsuko Akagi was in extremely good health- thanks to many of the medical conditions she herself invented from the leftovers of NERV's other projects. She didn't look a day over sixty.

"Shinji," She smiled, "So glad of you to be here."

"Thank you," Replied Shinji and took a seat at one of the small tables and looked up warmly at some of the other company.

Yes, he remembered now, long ago. Even though Ritsuko wasn't in Tanis, the name hanging with him even now. She had been found on a beach some miles away from Tokyo three by- strangely enough- Keito Ryoji on his way to meet his long-lost brother. Strangely, she had lost all her memory regarding NERV and it was up to her mother to emerge from obscurity and identify her. Fortunately she recovered quickly enough and was in action as one of the most brilliant minds on the planet. She had also been doing quite well with Keito Ryoji, and were even thinking about seeing grandchildren.

"So, I take it you're here for what they found on the moon, eh?" Asked one of the assembled people, "I don't suppose you could indulge any information?"

"Sorry," Shinji replied as he shook his head, "What I know stays with me...It's secret for now. I don't think it will be for long..."

"Assuming the UN decides to clear it," Ritsuko replied, "Maybe some secrets are better left hidden."

Shinji made a light laugh to himself, remembering an agency called NERV...

"Well in any case," Said one of the women at the table while she shouldered her bag, "There's some other interesting things going on around Earth, and I'd like to be there to see them. Good day."

"Bye." Shinji replied and saw off the other company while Ritsuko stood up and looked at her watch.

"Well," She said, "If you want to go to the moon, we have about a half hour until the flight leaves."

"Oh," Shinji said, "I...have to make a phone call before we leave."

"Well, okay, but remember it doesn't hold up for anyone- even special envoys."

Shinji smirked at this and then headed for the telephone booth located in a small cubicle.

After closing the door he dialed the region code, then home phone number. He waited thirty seconds for a connection, then the screen materialized with his wife's face.

"Hi hon." He smiled.

"Hey- where are you?" Asked his wife, "You left in such a hurry-"

"I know, I know. There's not really much of an explanation I can give right now...other than I'm headed up for the moon."

"This has something to do with what they found up there isn't it- Oh...God, Yui! Chris...stop that! Ahh..."

"Children a handful?"

"Aren't they always? Well, when you get back I suppose you can do something to keep them busy..."

"Heh, maybe I can tell them one of the old horror stories."

"Yeah, sure, so then you can explain to the principal some of the things they said....Shinji? Something wrong?"

Shinji had paused and then laughed, "It's about the old stories...you remember, twenty years ago, when we were in orbit? I didn't think we'd be on the moon again...at least, in my lifetime...look where we are now..."

His wife didn't have any response over the phone.

But Shinji snapped out of it, "Well anyway, I'm on my way to destiny again. Give my love to the kids, and I'll be back home as soon as I can, okay? Love you."

"Love you, Hun." Signed off his wife.

The screen appeared with the bill and other logistical information. After paying Shinji Ikari left to meet with whatever was left out on the moon that had suddenly become such a big interest to humankind.

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Two hours later Shinji saw more on the surface of the moon than he could have ever seen before back on Earth.

It had been so small when he was in space for the first time, and seeing it up close on some of the first Japan-US-Russia missions to the moon to start building bases was his first encounter with another alien world- and a second trip to null gravity.

During that first time in the Explorer, he mapped out exactly which site he would land on and eventually became the first man to land on the moon in fifty years. He planted all three flags, which still were preserved at the center of Clavius base.

The spherical shuttlecraft touched down without a problem, and before long Shinji Ikari found himself on the moon bus en-route to Tyco crater.

Strange, he thought to himself as he sat in the cabin sipping at some coffee, that he would be once more in this kind of space suit. It was almost identical to the one he had worn long ago when he went into space in Evangelion.

It was also the one-

"Shinji, we're coming up on the landing zone," Said Ritsuko, "You know, Kaji and Misato are waiting."

"They're on the moon?" Asked Shinji, "What about their health? I thought-"

"Relax, they just came back from an Earth tour. They'll only be here for another three weeks or so before the head back to Earth."

Shinji relaxed in his seat. He knew the dangers of bone decalcification just as well as anyone. If they weren't careful one could forever remain trapped in space with bones too fragile enough to walk on Earth again.

Yes, there it was...just outside the window.

Eagerly he placed his helmet on while the bus prepared to land. Now it was time to see....

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Misato was most pleasant when she greeted Shinji, saying, "After all this time we're finally here."

"Heh, I just said that on S5." Replied Shinji.

Misato had taken a moment of pause before remaking, "It's funny...in some ways you look like your dad except- better."

Shinji was serious, then smiles. He didn't like being compared to his father, who's location was still unknown. Shinji lived without him, and that was that.

"Okay," Said Kaji at the doorway of the small base, "Ready?"

Shinji nodded, and he, Misato, Kaji, and Ritsuko stepped out into the earth light and trudged across the lunar surface for the excavation site.

Yes, there...

Shinji's eyes needed to spot it among the shadows, but the thing wasn't showing any. At once when he recognized it, memories returned to his head from long-passed days and the change in fate that saved the earth.

TMA-1 was, in all sense of the phrase, the Monolith returned. Shinji didn't know weather it was placed after Earth's reconstruction or not- as all of humankind was removed from the Earth during it's rebuilding. From what Misato had said, however, this thing was buried under rock as old as humankind.

Perhaps this was one of the few things left during their first visit? And what of David Bowman?

Shinji approached the monolith slowly, reaching out with his fingers just as he had done years ago, during the first encounter in the same skies.

And like then his fingers encountered resistance, the force barrier that prevented his hand from slipping into the infinite surface that shone back at him.

"Well, this is undoubtedly one of the Monoliths we encountered twenty years ago," Misato was saying, "And the same one that hopped around the base."

"Yeah," Kaji replied, "Funny finding one here on the moon. You think it will talk to us?"

"No," Shinji replied and finished brushing his hand on the surface, "Whatever they had to say to us then was the end. This one's different."

Shinji looked up at the monolith once more. And he was just thinking about the moon before his fateful encounter so long ago....

"Hey," Misato said and hefted a lunar camera, "Want a picture?"

"Are you kidding?" Ritsuko asked and smiled, "Well here's one for the scrap books, all ex-Eva officers...hey, how about I do it."

"Okay," Misato replied and handed the camera off to Ritsuko while she took stance beside her husband and the boy who piloted Eva.

"Okay you three, ready?" Said Ritsuko, then, "Well what do you know, the sun's going to get the optimum angle here-"

Shinji smiled as best as he could in the helmet, but the smile turned to a teeth-grinding when a sound shattered through the radio helmets. He looked up to see everyone else's helmets being clasped by their owners as the Radio blared through their helmets.

Shinji whirled and looked at the monolith, and then looked up.

Almost being eclipsed by the earth was the sun overhead. Of course! Optimum sunlight! A trigger....

A trigger...

When the radio died Misato cried, "What the hell was that? Malfunction?"

"You guys heard it too, right?" Kaji asked.

Ritsuko got up from where she staggered, "In my health..."

Shinji was looking back at the monolith and then up at the sky. There was one dot up there that he had memorized from his astronomy classes in collage...

Jupiter.

Shinji's mind continued to drift as he stared up at the faint red dot in the lunar heavens. Someday, sometime, a ship had been sent out there. Should they do it again?

Then again, Discovery would be ready for launch in about four month's time...

But this time, the Monolith wouldn't be a secret. There would be no need to hide this fact from the crew- or Earth, for that matter- since it was already accepted that there was some force operating outside the solar system.

Shinji could hardly wait to meet them.

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"...Yeah, I'm coming straight home after this, I promise." Said Shinji and nodded, "Uh-huh...bye hon."

It was a week later since the Monolith encounter on Clavius, and that time later he had returned to one particular place. Shinji Ikari was the only one who really came back to this particular spot regularly.

He closed the cell phone with one hand and looked out across the landscaped territory that once held the last city of mankind. Now, like so many cities in the past, it had become a memorial. The Geo front, of course, disappeared entirely and left no sign of the base when crews went to look for it- as if it never even existed.

But the buildings and structures were still there, even though the massive Eva hanger was gone and it's doors lead to nowhere. Tokyo-3 was nothing more than a regular, average city with an abnormal, irregular past.

Perhaps, someday, before his death more great things might happen here. But then again, just as so, perhaps it was best for this place to fade into obscurity. At least nothing wrong could happen any longer...

He sighed and turned to the almost obsolete car that Misato had lent him. It seemed when David Bowman and his monoliths went to work, somehow, someway they restored this particular car to it's original stature. Misato had other vehicles- and bigger concerns, and since Shinji was getting out of collage...

Petroleum was too expensive nowadays, so of course he replaced the engine with a fusion system. Other than that most of the gears and such remained the same.

He drove off the same terrace, twenty-one years ago, that he looked over the city of Tokyo-3 for the first time to watch the buildings rise.

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A long drive later he came to a stop in front of his house in the highlands around some of the newly established and rebuilt cities. Coincidentally, this was where most of the former NERV survivors had many houses to live in.

He stopped the car in the driveway, closed the door and ascended the long stone steps to the house's front door, just briefly stopping to admire the garden he had planted when he came out of collage...

He smiled at his work, again being prideful of the end product he had created. Unlike his father, he didn't neglect many of the works he started out to do and usually worked hard to finish them.

Just as he was mindful of his work, he was also ever mindful of his family, and when he got through the doorway the first thing he did was set down his things to hug his children. Then he stood to kiss his wife, and ascended to look at himself in the mirror. All this, and so much more he was grateful to have.

He wondered what his father would think of him now, as a successful young man with an intelligent mind and bright future. Perhaps finally he would have some approval from the man he had called father.

It didn't matter anymore. He still had the rest of his life to live, starting tomorrow and the day afterward.

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Disclaimer: Evangelion is a Gainax production, Written and directed by Hideaki Anno. Some materials adapted from the manga by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

2001, 2010, 2061, and 3001 were written by Arthur C. Clarke. Some materials adapted from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, created by Stanley Kubrik.

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