He who mocks the infant's faith
Shall be mock'd in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the infant's faith
Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.
- William Blake, Auguries of Innocence
The holographic communications room was completely dark, save for a couple of dim lights, and only Shinji was alone with a couple of folding chairs and a table in the middle, waiting for a man he never met before, but shrouded in tales of mystery and conspiracy.
Perhaps this Chairman Lorenz, as Shinji contemplated, a man unimaginably ruthless, a villain in the truest sense of the word, like a caricature of spy movies in which such a villain, dapper in a three-piece suit and standing tall, had unimaginable amount of resources and capable of mobilizing an army of minions.
Or does he resemble the usual evil demented genius, dressed in a lab coat, cackling in laughter, with madness in his eyes?
He wasn't sure, but he hoped neither of those stereotypes, and all he understood about this man, whom he had never met in his entire life, was his frightening capacity to influence world decisions and alter the fate of nations.
Or judging from what Kaji divulged earlier in his post-mortem video.
Instead, he remembered the last few words of instruction from Commander Fuyutsuki, that he should keep calm, stand firm, watch his tongue and every move he made, for all eyes would be upon him in a few seconds.
And indeed they appeared right before him, smooth and shiny black monoliths, with blazing red digits for eyes, all labeled with the same name: SEELE, encircling him like huge slabs of Stonehenge; their sudden arrival startled the young man.
There was a moment of silence, as they seem to size him up with invisible eyes, gazing him from head to toe, before a deep voice rang out from the monolith marked as SEELE 01.
"It is my pleasure to see you," SEELE 01 said. "I presume that you are Shinji Ikari, the Third Children and the pilot of Unit One?"
"Yes, sir," Shinji answered.
SEELE 01 cleared his throat. "And where is your father, Commander Gendo Ikari? We insist that he should be here as well."
"I'm sorry," the young man said, shaking his head. "He can't come."
"What do you mean?" SEELE 01 questioned.
"I'm the one to be present here instead, and was told beforehand that you wanted to talk to me."
"That is correct. We repeatedly requested for a direct audience with you, rather than your father as a representative… But, again, where is he?"
"He's under arrest," Shinji said flatly.
Silence draped the room, as though the monoliths quickly engaged in muted conversation behind the scenes, before SEELE 01 grumbled again to disrupt.
"For what treason he had committed? That is good news, young man," the ancient voice said.
"Good news? He needs to be protected from himself," Shinji replied.
"Then who is in charge this time? Fuyutsuki?"
SEELE 01 cleared his throat again, and sighed.
"Very well, then," he said. "Rather than we demand that this Judas Iscariot, your stubborn and traitorous father, that is, be present, and as we are more than glad to see you in person instead, may I indulge you to reveal myself for our benefit?"
SEELE 01 faded out into the digital darkness, before an apparition of a robed figure, somewhat squat in stature, came to appear in place of the monolith. He indeed looked more of an ancient wraith, a face wrinkled with age and white hair, and a crooked nose that jutted out, holding up on its bridge what seemed to be a huge electronic visor, making him a geriatric Cyclops, a thin electronic slit in place for a couple of eyes.
This time Shinji was visibly surprised.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"It is both a blessing and a pity that we should meet for the first time and possibly also the last, young man," the elderly digital apparition said flatly, walking towards him.
Shinji said nothing, as the old man stopped short of a couple of feet away, and stared down into his eyes.
"I am Keel Lorenz, Grand Master of SEELE."
END OF EVANGELION: BLOOD AND WATER
THE FINAL SEASON
CHAPTER 46: BLOODLINES
An alternate path fanfiction by soulassassin547
Written on 6/19/2012 0:50 a6/p6
It took a moment for Shinji to register the name of this old man, who was waiting for him to speak. But Keel seemed to read his mind, and said, "Relax, and it is all right that you should take a seat."
Shinji complied by pulling one of the chairs towards him and sat down.
This satisfied Keel. "Good," he said. "Now… where do we should start? Oh, yes, apart from the usual formal reports we receive from the field, we also have heard many wonderful stories from your father about your role as the Third Children."
Shinji merely nodded, nary a word.
"Of all Children, you have accomplished much in a very short time, despite that you had a rough start in the very beginning; you killed more Angels than two of your… Should I dare to say, your playmates?"
The young man said nothing, which Keel took as a 'yes'.
"In any case, Shinji Ikari," Keel continued, "by your diligence, as well as by accident, you slowly unlocked the full potential of the Test Type, discovering her strengths and weaknesses, and whenever she is driven hard to a certain point, her ferocity is unleashed and nothing could withstand such raw, brutal power."
From out of nowhere, Keel produced a cup full of tea, and he took the time to mix it with a spoon, tapping it to the side of the cup and laid it down onto the table. With Shinji watching him, the old man then took a sip for a moment.
"For someone who is seemingly weak-willed, over time you have impressed us greatly with such personal progress," Keel praised. "We know this because we have eyes who have watched every move you made, observed your behavior on a daily basis, along with your eating patterns, the use of the toilet, and even how you socialize with youngsters of your age. Well, speaking of your friends, I gather that the Fourth Children punched you in the jaw?"
That really surprised Shinji, but the fact also made him shiver within. "How do you know that much?"
Keel shook his head as he put down the digitized cup on the table.
"I told you we have eyes everywhere," he reminded. "Too bad, that friend of yours possessed great potential, but your father thought otherwise as he had you turn Unit Three into a slab of meat."
"I didn't kill him!" Shinji objected, almost jumping out of his seat as if he was accused of murder in a trial. "That was the Dummy Plug!"
"We know that already," Keel said nonchalantly, personally amused that he finally got Shinji off his rocker. "Be happy that Mister Suzuhara had the great fortune to survive such excruciating brutality. Now let me get to the point."
Shinji was fuming as he sat down again, but begrudgingly he nodded.
"You are a very important young man, more than anybody on this fragile planet," Keel said. "You are not aware of it before, only that today we shall disclose to you a great secret."
The young man blinked repeatedly. "A secret?"
"Your mother, Yui Ikari Saint-Clair, is no ordinary woman."
"Why? Yes, Mother seemed to be so important to you people," Shinji answered.
"Precisely," Keel said as several pictures of Yui Ikari appeared from thin air, flanking around his head like leaves. "She helped us in the early days, but your mother was such a fierce character that her brilliant yet rebellious attitude could be our undoing, and hence we planned to have her assassinated. Yet it seems that she was one step ahead of us, and in doing so she assimilated herself into Unit One… What a smart woman you have for a mother."
"And what do you know of her?"
"Are you familiar with the Bible?"
Shinji shook his head. "No."
"What about the history of France?"
"I have no idea," the young man said.
"Your ignorance is forgivable," Keel said while circling the young man. "Only a small percentage of your countrymen are practicing Christians, and that your junior high school curriculum doesn't touch much on world history, but to begin with, your mother is of mixed parentage, a Japanese mother—"
"And a French father," Shinji added. "Kaji said so."
Keel blinked behind his visors. "Are you sure? I didn't know that he survived to tell."
"He's dead, no thanks to you," Shinji said flatly. "But he left us a video, among many things, and there he spilled the beans, even many things I don't know about my parents. Until that time, I didn't even know that I had a French grandfather."
The old man chuckled in reaction to the boy's surprisingly stubborn character, the first time while being here.
"The Saint-Clairs are a very old French family," Keel said. "They produced some of the most illustrious men and even women in history, and if we go further down the family tree, their importance becomes very obvious, for they came from the royal house called the Merovingian."
Shinji looked surprised. "What?"
"They were the first royal family of France," Keel said. "Before a traitor among their ranks brought them down and usurped their power. Still, what was far more important about this dynasty is the woman who first brought the bloodline into that country."
"And who's she? What's the connection between me and her?"
Keel smiled lightly. "Mary Magdalene," he said. "Do you want me to explain more about your heritage?"
It was widely accepted by most people that Mary Magdalene was a common prostitute, prior to her first encounter with Jesus Christ, in which she provided him the service of anointing His feet with the ointment of spikenard, before using her hair to wipe His soles. Afterwards she became one of Jesus' first female disciples.
However, further investigation by contemporary historians and scholars, after much study of the times as well as reading carefully the passages of the Bible in which Magdalene was mentioned in brought out a completely different light: instead of being an impoverished prostitute, as the early Church fathers ever since the Council of Nicaea had decided on in rewriting her role in Jesus' life by defaming the woman, Magdalene was really a member of a very powerful tribe called the Tribe of Benjamin, which had royal pedigree, and as such the woman had considerable influence, quite unusual in her day when men predominated society.
More amazingly, it seems that she was destined to cross paths with Jesus, whose lineage could be traced back to the House of David (of which King Solomon was David's successor but the last).
Already as Jesus was acquiring popularity with the masses while preaching, it became clear that He could pave the way of reclaiming Israel from the occupying Romans, and establishing a new kingdom, and for such a revival, why can't a King have a Queen?
Conventional dogma (with history rewritten by the early Church fathers) viewed Jesus as a celibate, but in reality, it was considered a grave sin (by Jewish standards) in His time to stay single, and hence it was the duty of a father to obtain an appropriate wife for his son. In this case, Magdalene of the Tribe of Benjamin was a very smart choice, unifying both royal lineages in marriage that could possibly bring about the liberation of Israel.
But it wasn't meant to be, for the corrupt Roman regime under the reign of Pontius Pilate saw Jesus' rise to fame as a threat, and in trying to take down the coming revolution, it took a bribe to turn a disciple to betray Him. Furthermore, not all the disciples were happy with Magdalene joining their ranks, as in the case of Peter, who hoped he could carry on Jesus' mission to evangelize the world and spread His word, but instead Jesus entrusted Magdalene to continue His ministry even after death, conferring upon her an enormous amount of authority more than Peter.
Whereas in most histories Magdalene disappeared, for a few it was assumed that for safety reasons she embarked on a journey to what would later become southern France, eventually settling in a Jewish community with her newborn, now named Sarah, which allowed her to begin with a fresh new start by preaching the Word.
From Magdalene and Sarah, it took decades of near-obscurity for the fledgling bloodline to wait, until by the fifth century one of its members intermarried with early French royalty, creating the Merovingian dynasty. From this new lineage, they founded Paris, and held sway over most of the country until King Dagobert was taken down by the Vatican by colluding with Pepin d'Heristal.
The death of Dagobert nearly drove the bloodline extinct, except for a single heir, Sigisbert, who escaped unscathed; the young man survived long enough to continue the lineage, which produced noblemen, saints, warriors, and kings, all bearing either the surnames of Saint-Clair (or Sinclair, later to become nobles of Scotland) and Plantard, even as France went through tumultuous changes, including the Revolution that completely wiped out the Bourbon monarchy, including both world wars, until one member of the clan married a Japanese woman.
And springing from that union was Yui Ikari Saint-Clair.
"Now," Keel said. "Do you understand how important you are? Do you believe in the truth we have imparted to you?"
Both of them were now surrounded by a holographic wall consisting of images, scanned pages of ancient texts, diagrams, and other arcane and esoteric documentation needed to enlighten the young man.
"I… I can't say," Shinji said in his disbelief.
Keel looked around, as if asking for approval from the other monoliths, and with the movements of his gnarly arms he drew open what looked to be a complex diagram from out of thin air, stretching a digitized square into shape as though unrolling a scroll.
"You see," Keel began, pivoting to face Shinji. "You are the latest in a very long lineage that began centuries ago, in a dusty country colonized by the Romans. A young man, supposedly a son of a carpenter and a common housewife, was in reality born into a very good noble family whose bloodline itself came from a royal house that was long subdued by other empires before the arrival of the Romans, and forced to live as commoners. Since then the weight of centuries have obscured their true secrets, layer upon layer of fantastic myth and legend as this young man's teachings became a great influence and legacy unprecedented in mankind."
Shinji stared at the diagram, which was spangled with lines and boxes forming into a large tree, starting from the bottom, then expanding further in the middle, until reaching the very top.
With his name on it in Latin letters, and connected by a line was his mother's, enclosed in a box.
He then let his eye trace downwards, reading off obscure names, mostly written in a language he didn't know of, and suddenly he wished Asuka was here to help him decipher them, as he thought she knew different languages other than German or English, until he found the names at the very bottom of the tree:
Mary Magdalene + Jesus Christ
"You are definitely of the royal blood," Keel said, letting the electronic scroll float slowly into the air. "Sang Real, if we want it to be formal, or if you like, the Holy Grail."
"You, Shinji Ikari," Keel went on, "the second coming that the Secret Dead Sea Scrolls have prophesized, a direct descendant from the house of David, who in turn came from Moses, Noah… and ultimately the original Adam. You are one of a few sacred components needed to complete our holy dream. You should feel honored for such immense importance, for being connected directly with the First Father."
Shinji merely blinked.
"Why can't you?" Keel questioned, finding no relief in Shinji's face.
"I don't feel honored…. More like you and your crazy people want to destroy the world," Shinji countered.
"I stand corrected, young man," Keel said, unperturbed by the 'crazy' label. "We want mankind to be raised to the ultimate meeting with God in death, and to make our long-standing hopes a reality, we want your help by taking part in this momentous event, something that your mother, I'm sorry to say, disapproved of and much to our displeasure."
"And what good I could get from what you're talking about?"
Keel nodded. "Good question," he said. "Do you desire to meet your mother again? Or to be able to converse with long-gone relatives that you were not able to see or even talk to? Or, if you want, to be able to talk to anyone as if every human is a kin to you?"
"But…" Shinji trailed off.
"As if that is not enough, would you like to live in a world where pain or sadness or hate does not exist? Where you will have all the peace you want? And above all, do you wish to live forever, without knowing injury, sickness or death?"
Now Shinji said nothing again.
"We offer you a choice, a choice that no one else can make true more than you," the old man went on. "You have the power, you can harness it, and you can turn our dreams into reality."
"You must be talking about Unit One, right?" Shinji asked. "She's the 'power' you're going after."
"That is right," Keel answered. "Would you like to do the things that you, in your mortal and powerless shell, could not do?"
Slowly, Shinji held up both his hands, palms facing Keel, as if asking him to give a pause to ponder about the old man's words, letting all of them sink in.
Try as he could but given his limited knowledge, Shinji could not imagine how he, just an ordinary boy within yearning for a normal life, be linked indelibly with royal blood and even considered a direct descendant of one of the most famous and inspirational men in human history.
Furthermore, Keel seemed to be enticing him about the rewards of Instrumentality; if he did what they wanted, they promised that he could see his mother again.
It was overwhelming, really, the kind of preposterousness that his friends would either say "Impossible!" or "You got to be kidding me."
But if Lorenz was telling him the truth, and considering much influence he wielded, judging from his way of talking (and that the old man was capable of conversing fluently in Japanese, a good thing because Shinji could still barely understand English or Asuka's German) he wasn't making all that up like a piece of fiction.
Or maybe not, a massive fabrication designed to scare his wits or make him out as a fool.
Or he was being coerced to do something wrong, like destroying the world as he feared.
Now he was confused.
Yet a memory bubbled up into his mind, and he recalled watching a movie (he forgot its title, as it was a foreign war movie) in which one of the main characters, a general, talked about history:
Only the victor can rewrite history, either with a sword, a gun or a pen, and the vanquished foe be erased from time and existence.
But, no, he will not let this man have his way, even if he promised that he could be godlike.
"Do you have more for us to say?" Keel asked after a minute, as though badgering him to speak. This brought out Shinji from his reverie.
"I now have a lot of good reasons to respect Mom," Shinji spoke. "She joined your ranks so that she could try to stop you and your scheme, and if she failed there, I guess it's up to me to do whatever business she left off."
"You may dare, but listen," Keel said. "The promised time has come for us to fulfill that dream. We have lost the Spear of Longinus, which makes it impossible to use Lilith for Instrumentality, and that means you and Unit One, will be our deliverance to save mankind from his own pain, sins and imperfections. Through the saving grace of Instrumentality, there will be an infinite Paradise, and within this new Paradise all can be united again in true happiness."
Keel looked up to the monoliths, as if asking that they should concur with him, and they spoke in booming deep voices:
"We have no intention of giving up our human forms simply to enter the Ark called Eva," SEELE 09 said.
"It is merely a rite of passage... To bring about the rebirth in those who are imprisoned," SEELE 04 added.
"The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth," SEELE 10 interjected.
Satisfied with their replies, Keel said, "Try as you might to resist, child, but whatever your companions or supporters do will be futile resistance at best. Through our immeasurable power, there is nothing you can do except to comply with our wishes: surrender your arms and embrace Instrumentality."
"This time, I'm not a fool anymore," Shinji said.
Keel looked visibly surprised. "What?"
"Then perhaps you try telling that to us," a familiar yet defiant voice rang out of nowhere, until Kozo Fuyutsuki appeared from the shadows, walking into the light.
"So, it is you, Commander Fuyutsuki," Keel said, now looking crossed. "Herr Professor."
"Yes," Fuyutsuki answered flatly as he stood together with Shinji. "I am in command now, Chairman Lorenz, and this is of great concern for me as this is very important for Shinji, for him to know what sort of sham you're up to."
"You heard everything?"
"I'm not the only one," he said, as others came walking in from the shadows, each sporting a determined expression on their faces: Asuka, Rei, Misato, Ritsuko, Maya, Director Hamamoto, General Yamamoto…
…and Kaworu Nagisa, whose unexpected coming took Keel by complete surprise for a second, shattering his composure.
"You are supposed to be dead, Tabris!" Keel exclaimed in outrage, his accusing finger shaking at the young Angel. "That is not what we wanted!"
Kaworu shook his head. "Symbolically I died for it, but I have survived for a very good reason," he said.
The Fifth Children then raised his hand, index finger extended, to digitally write a phrase in the space in front of him. They watched him write, using seemingly alien letters in an incomprehensible tongue unknown to the modern world, until it dawned upon Fuyutsuki, automatically translating it from Aramaic to Japanese, that it was a phrase made famous in the Bible, the one that finally told King Nebuchadnezzar that his number was up:
MENE MENE TEKEL U-PHARSIN.
"I suppose you understand what that means, Chairman," Kaworu said in a calm voice. "Just I have finally understood my true purpose in this world."
"And what made you think about that?" Keel demanded, but inwardly took the warning, translating them to as: you have been measured, weighed and found wanting.
Without a word, Rei walked towards Kaworu and gently took his hand.
"You're a very powerful man," Kaworu began. "But you're empty, and nobody's going to die for you and for your false hopes. As for Ikari, he thinks that this young woman is a tool, only an experiment to be used and disposed of afterwards, but no, she's not what you or Ikari think of."
"What nonsense are you talking about?"
But Kaworu went on, paraphrasing a passage from The Little Prince, another one of his favorite books. "She's more important than any of your machinations or acts of deviousness and venality, that for the first time I discovered the best parts of her and that of mine, that I opened her heart, listened to anything she truly wanted to say, tried my best to protect and take care of her… because she's my rose."
"Again, you're such a romantic fool," Keel ridiculed.
"You may call us names," Rei said, breaking her silence for the first time. "You may threaten us, or ask that we should plea on our knees… But from what I have heard everything from you, Herr Lorenz, I say that death gives birth to nothing."
At that very same moment, Keel was astonished by the firm yet familiar tone of the First Children's voice. Sure, it was his first time to see her in person, for she was Gendo's supposed pawn; a manufactured child created from the DNA of Yui Ikari, but never thought he lived to this day to hear this young woman talk as if Yui Ikari herself had finally returned in person, reincarnated in the body of this pale teenager.
The Chairman of the Human Instrumentality Project took a deep breath and recomposed himself, preparing to speak for the last time, but in an outraged tone.
"Very well, then," Keel said to Rei, his face now in a stony expression. "If that is what you talk back to us, and assuming that you are Yui Saint-Clair in that mortal shell of yours… then prepare, you accursed heretics, to die tomorrow, that at the break of dawn, from land, sea and air you will be utterly annihilated by our arms until all of what is left of this place is a howling wilderness… all the while we achieve total Instrumentality!"
With that final word echoing, Keel and the monoliths vanished into the darkness, and then a few seconds later the lights came on.
Still standing in the middle of the communications room and even with the rest of the council watching him, Keel tried to calm himself down by breathing in deeply, knowing that even the slightest hint of extreme emotion could trigger a problem within his system.
Helpfully an acolyte in robes came to him with a glass of water and a bottle of pills on a tray, as though he could be suffering from hypertension, but without warning the old man slapped away the tray, its contents smashing onto the floor.
"But, Master…" the shaken acolyte said nervously as he picked up the debris.
Keel glared at the acolyte, with his teeth clenched. "Scheisse! I don't need it!" he hissed.
As if to calm him down, Evgenyi walked up to his friend and placed a hand on Keel's shoulder.
"My friend," Evgenyi said. "Take it easy."
"I'm trying… Damn that Nagisa. Damn them all…" Keel cursed between breaths.
Evgenyi nodded. "I know, but please give yourself a breather," he said before turning to the rest of the council. "I insist that we should be left alone."
Understanding this, everyone else went out of the room until there was only Keel and Evgenyi, and it took some minutes before the German was able to regain his composure.
"Why do you need to be angry when we still have the advantage?" Evgenyi asked.
Keel shook his head, face partially covered by a palm. "I'm sorry, my friend," he whispered. "I've slipped this time… I should've held myself instead of doing such an outburst."
"That is all right. We sometimes commit mistakes beyond our control."
"Yet with this case, we shouldn't err as humans," Keel said. "But you're right; I forgot that we are one step further than they do."
"Do you have a decision this time?"
Keel turned to face Evgenyi.
"Yes," the old man said. "As scheduled, we shall bring down the hammer: smite them all on the anvil."
Back in Japan, everyone in the room felt uneasy, with the complete lack of elation and relief, and grimly knowing that the die has been finally cast, that SEELE will be coming tomorrow with Armageddon onto their doorstep.
"So he has confirmed what he thought is your divine lineage," Fuyutsuki said to Shinji, who was standing besides him.
The young man nodded. "Do you think they're all true? Is he telling the truth?"
Fuyutsuki sighed. "Along with the facts he presented to us, Lorenz has given the other piece of the puzzle," he said. "Whatever he said answered my lingering suspicions about your mother for years, as to why she is held in very high regard."
"Just like Mary Magdalene," Shinji said. "I didn't know she was that important."
"Yes," Fuyutsuki answered. "As much as the truth has dispelled our long-standing misconceptions shaped by time, myth and history, what we have to be concerned the most now is how far we could hold them back before they could take control of Unit One."
On one hand, Shinji thought, Unit-01 was powerful than any of her sisters within the NERV inventory, thanks largely to the ingested S2 Engine, and could hold onto her own in combat.
But at the same time her very immense power source makes Unit-01 a very attractive target that SEELE will want to capture at all costs, which meant there had to be a way to slow down the Mass-Production Evas, if not stop them, without having to depend too much on both Evas alone.
"Sir… what are we going to do next?" Shinji finally asked.
"Prepare, plan and practice, and then tomorrow we'll have to take the whole brunt of their war machine as they come," Fuyutsuki replied. "For them, I fear that there will be no prisoners this time."
Author's Notes: This chapter completes the nebulous mysteries surrounding Yui Ikari Saint-Clair, answering the questions about her unique and powerful standing within the LW alternate universe (and hence departing from established Eva canon, which, despite depicting Yui as a very important woman, never gave an explanation about her little-known origins).
While doing my research for this fic, I stumbled upon the intriguing idea of indelibly linking Yui with Mary Magdalene by purported divine lineage and importance, having been inspired by my readings of thought-provoking books such as Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Templar Revelation (both of which became the basis for the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code - but no offense, Digital Fortress, however erroneous it may be, is my only dog-eared favorite among Brown's works).
I tried my best to summarize the Herculean amount of information provided by those books into a few paragraphs, but I hope they suffice, yet should this chapter leaves you doubting with more questions or you feel I err in some parts (writing a fic invites a few author-inspired liberties to make a few plot twists), I suggest that HBHG and Revelation be read for further clarification, for the Da Vinci Code can be erroneous at times.
Going back to the story at hand (and this being an extension of the final meeting between SEELE and Gendo), and as I have envisioned, this is the first time Keel and Shinji confront each other (almost) in person, and that the former tries to tempt the young man to give up resistance and embrace the purported rewards of Instrumentality, which Shinji then refuses because of the terrifying apocalyptic possibilities it could bring upon the world's inhabitants.
Until next time. J'ai ose.