Disclaimer: I don't own anything that belongs to GAINAX, Marvel, or Vertigo. Don't sue.

Author's Notes: The first version of this story's introductory chapter was a terrible display of rushed work that I quickly summed up with a most uncreative ending. For wasting the time of readers who read that butchered piece, I apologize, and hope that you will read this version, into which I actually put honest effort and time. In this version I've added the intended prologue, inspired by Marvel's What If… series. The prologue chapter is practically the first part of Chapter One, I simply wanted to have it stand alone. Yes, it's short, so don't consider it a chapter, consider Chapter One a chapter.

Prologue: The Watcher

I am the Watcher. Over the millennia, I've observed, measured and remembered the countless events that have occurred throughout the universe, noting every significant occurrence in it's own right. Therefore, trust in me when I tell you that no planet or star bears quite as much significance as the planet Earth, for here is where a God may be born, where Humanity may perish, where the fate of the universe… and myself… may be decided.

I watched as the year 2015 rolled by, the fate of Mankind hanging in its balance. The mighty Angels, colossal beings of power from a source I cannot yet fully understand, assault the city of Tokyo-3, their dimensions and abilities confounding and countering the normal measures used by the Earth's military powers. Only the Evangelions, equally gargantuan humanoid monster-machines, have held the Angels at bay for this long, each fallen Angel a countdown to the brink of extinction of Mankind. Most significant of the pilots of these machines is Shinji Ikari, a 14-year-old boy who has never known real love, save that of a mother who perished in his youth and a father who ignored him ever since. The first battle between Shinji and an Angel went haywire, but was won nonetheless… the eye of the Evangelion was punctured, shooting through the skull of the Evangelion. Only the lack of synchronization saved the pilot from suffering death from such an assault…

But there are many instances of the universe, dimensions where slight things may be changed; and in one, we explore another possibility. What if Shinji had synchronized enough to suffer the effects of that blow? What if, even for a brief moment, Shinji had died from the trauma? In this dimension, Shinji's nervous system shut down as though dead for a few moments, suffering trauma from the energy beam that shot through the Evangelion's brain.

Somewhere in a room where Death resides…

Shinji opened his eyes for just a moment, and then shut them tight as he saw the vast gray nothingness of where he was. Somehow, he knew he was dead. There was no feeling left in his body, no movement possible, no pulse of life or breath in his body. He opened his eyes again, and looked down at his body to find he was wrong, that he could move. The floor below him was steady, albeit the same solid, gray color of all the space around him. What do I do now…? He briefly wondered.

"Now you come with me," said a cheery voice behind him. He spun around and, for a moment, he was speechless. Amongst the gray, a seemingly black and white image of a woman appeared. Her hair, t-shirt and jeans were all midnight black while her skin was a deathly pale white. A small curled up line sat below her left eye, her dark eye, her endlessly black eyes. She gave a small smile, almost a grin with black lipstick, but all too haunting to be considered human. She looked him up and down for a moment and furrowed her brow, her smile vanishing like mist in the afternoon sun. "You're not… dead. But I can feel permanent death hanging on you… take my hand, and I'll take you where you belong."

Shinji felt his hand move forward. No, I mustn't, she's… she's… His hand touched hers, and everything went to black for a moment. Shinji could feel his body slowly vanishing, his mind's eye opening to see the flames of Hell that would devour his frame… and for just a moment, he screamed. A pulse of light in water, and the flames were gone.

That was then…