Chapter 1

Sucking in a chilled breath, Naoko Akagi stared passively from behind the control room's Plexiglas window. A twine of of gray smoke snaked from the cigarette that was pinched between her two gloved fingers as she watched the work being carried out in the cavernous chamber far bellow.

Clouds of white coolant vapors rolled and wafted through the chamber's freezing air, while the perpetual hiss of turbines and the crackling of ice dispelled all trace of silence. At the center, a featureless cylinder of glass and plated steel towered like a monolith over the crews of workers and technicians that were carefully tending to its complex inner workings. A web of intertwining pipes and tubing branched out from the cylinder's base, extending outward in all directions like the roots of some man-made tree.

Naoko brought the cigarette to her half-frozen lips and inhaled. She watched as the technicians made their final adjustments, her eyes betraying the feeling loathing she had tried to suppress.

Dr. Akagi. a lab-tech said from behind her. We're ready to proceed.

The dark-haired scientist gave only a silent exhale of acknowledgment, releasing the smoke that had been held up in her lungs. Proceed then, she said, her tone brittle and harsh. I don't want to be here any longer than I have to be. She crushed the cigarette in the ashtray she had brought with her.

The young lab-tech nodded before quickly running his padded fingers across his control console, keying in one line of code after another. All systems prepped and locked, removing primary coolant blocks in three—two he pressed his thumb against a flashing green button and pushed.

An audible clang of hydraulics suddenly ripped through the chamber, jostling both the control room and its occupants. The sharp resonance was soon replaced by the flowing rush of subzero cooling agents being fed into the cylinder.

Give me a status report, Akagi ordered eyes still fixed on the bunker.

Fluctuation tolerance range, check! Emergency power generator, check! No abnormalities detected in any of the rooms, cylinder dewar walls, or defense systems.Level 5: 42º kelvin.Level 2: 15º kelvin.Level 1 is currently at 0.005º Kelvin and dropping 0.004º 0.003º stopping at 0.02º kelvin. There doesn't appear to be abnormal energy readings nor increase in radiation levels. All systems are nominal.You're certain? Akagi asked, glancing over her shoulder.

Yes Ma'am.Have the tech-crews withdraw from the central chamber. The moment the last one is out of there, activate the primary and secondary vacuum seals.Yes Ma'am, the lab-tech said once more before carrying out his instructions without pausing to even breath.

Akagi took this moment to light another cigarette. She heard the pressure door slide open behind her, but kept her back to the bespectacled scientist that entered the room.

I thought I might find you here, Gendo Ikari said behind half shivering teeth. Even in the nearly subzero atmosphere that enveloped him, the man's smirk was unchanged. With his hands buried deep in the pockets of his heavily padded thermal-coat, he approached Akagi from behind, stopping at her shoulder. You're taking this a little too personally, don't you think, Dr.? he asked.

Akagi's eyes narrowed at the question and for a moment, it seemed as though she wasn't even going to acknowledge the man's presence, let alone answer the question. Three and a half years, Ikari, she finally said. Three and a half years of work, and now that we've finally made real progress I'm expected to just abandon it all all because of one incident.The test subject was too unstable to be controlled, you know that, Akagi.I still refuse to believe that, Akagi replied. Given enough time I could have had that boy completely under control. Had the old men been a little more patient and a little more generous with their—We've been over this time and time again, Akagi, Gendo said, cutting her off. You were given ample time and resources to carry out this project. Don't make excuses for your own mistakes of judgment.Mistakes of Judgment? As I recall, Ikari, you were the one who made the suggestion to introduce that boy into the project, not I.

Gendo chuckled and pushed his glasses up the ridge of his nose. he mused starring down at the cylinder. But it was you who made the final decision to use him. I'm afraid the blood's on your hands Dr., not mine.All I need is another year, Gendo two years at the most. There's still so much that can be accomplished if the committee would allow me to—Project ADAM is officially scrapped, Akagi. The order came directly from the Chairmen Keele himself.I see. So this is what it all comes to? Akagi asked, Abandoning progress out of fear of the reproductions? Are we so afraid of what we're capable of creating with our own two hands?

Look down there, Ikari see for yourself what those fools are abandoning. We're on the verge of a crucial new breakthrough in biological science, and yet they're content to simply bury it all.They have their reason's, Dr., said Gendo. Reasons that you would do yourself well not to question.I see so this is how it really works, huh? When the old men say jump', we say how high'?Don't make this any more difficult than it already is, Akagi. Your project was a failure, and you have my sympathy. But considering what you're being offered as compensation, I would make it a point not to dwell on that failure.The MAGI? Please Gendo, even my own daughter could oversee the construction of such a simple little toy.That simple little toy', may very well come to be the backbone of this organization's future operations. Let's not forget why GEHIRN was established in the first place, shall we?

Akagi just stared blankly at her reflection in the Plexiglass.

Either way, Gendo added as he turned and made his way towards the door. The project will begin six months from now. The committee expects favorable results by the end of 2006.And where shall I be assigned until then?

Gendo stopped just as he reached the door. For a moment, the man just stood stiffly and stared at the door's dull gray surface. You're to aid Dr. Yui and myself in the development of the Eva prototypes.

Akagi spun around on her heal and gawked at her colleague. You're not serious are you? Is this some sort of joke, Gendo?I'm afraid it isn't Dr. After seeing what happened with Project Adam, the committee has decided to shift all attention to Eva development. All other projects, with exception of the MAGI, are to be put on hold until they say otherwise.This is bullshit, Gendo!If you have a problem with their decision, Dr., you can try to take it up with them yourself.I wouldn't give them the satisfaction, Akagi hissed.

Then I suggest you put this failed project behind you and focus on the ones that lay ahead. He took a step forward, slipping through the door just as it slip open. The door closed behind him with a sharp hiss.

Son of a bitch,Akagi cursed under breath as she watched Gendo leave. Crossing her arms, she stepped towards the window and returned her attention to the cylinder. Have all personnel been cleared from the area? she asked.

Yes Ma'am, everyone's checked and accounted for.Activate final lock down sequence, then.Yes Ma'am, activating primary vacuum seals in three—two—one primary vacuum seals have been activated, moving to final lock down sequence in three—two—one— Lock!

The cylinder hummed softly as the cooling solutions within it's glass barrier quickly solidified.

When the last of the preparations had been made, the bunker's lights were shut off and the observation room's window shield was lowered. Naoko Akagi and her small team of lab-techs, stepped out into a dimly lit corridor, locking the pressure door behind them. It was not too long before they were all standing behind the an open security gate, starring down the same, dimly lit corridor.

Would you care to do the honors, Ma'am? a short-haired young woman asked, indicating the gate's locking mechanism.

Akagi just snuffed, a curt turned, and started for the main elevator platform which would take her back to ground level. As she neared the platform, she stopped and looked over her shoulder, just in time to witness the security gates slam shut.

And for a long time she found herself unable to tear her eyes away from either the giant slab of steel nor the large, bluntly featured words that were printed on its surface.

PROJECT A
TEST SUBJECT 41

ACCESS BY UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL PROHIBITED
VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW.

TRESPASSERS MAY BE SHOT ON SIGHT

When she had seen enough, the young researcher spun on her heal, turning her back to the gate. Pleasant dreams, Tetsuo Shima, she whispered.