Disclaimer- I don't own Evangelion, property of Studio Gainax, Anno-san, plus a bunch of other people and associations.

Chapter 1 Prodigal

The Eva Series, unholy ivory beasts, circle the sky, above the defeated carcass of Unit 02. He barely realizes that he's screaming as he charges the white monsters...

An unholy shattering noise as the Lance of Longinus tears thru air, and descends into his Eva's waiting hand...

A feral, deadly smile, full of hatred and bloodlust...

The merciless red haze of battle... blood sloshing against his armor and against the earth, the effortless motion as the Lance cleaves metal and flesh... the satisfaction as his enemies fall before him like wheat to a scythe...

Blood, tides of crimson that sweep away everything... screams of dying men as he slaughters them...

Standing in the middle of a field of bodies, mangled corpses scattered everywhere...

The young man jerked upwards, panting, cold sweat drenching his body. "That nightmare again..." he groaned. In the aftermath of that fateful day, he had many different recurring nightmares about it. But this one... this was one he hadn't had in a while. Reliving the actual battle... and its aftermath.

That was something he had tried to erase from memory forever, and almost succeeded.

Trying to clear the memories from his mind's eye, he turned towards the window, taking in the city he swore he'd never return to.

"What the Hell am I doing?"

Of course, he knew what he was doing... just didn't know why. Was he that masochistic, that he would purposefully dig up the past he tried for seven years to leave dead and buried?

The young man clenched the armrest, drinking in the view of Tokyo-3 after five years absence. It had changed... the fortress of Man had become a living, breathing city. Though NERV was the heart of the community, there were businesses, theaters, malls, in short, life within the former city of the damned.

And there was the lake... man made... or Eva made, to be technical. The sight made his heart clench with grief and that distinct, bitter feeling of wanting to get as far away from that lake as possible.

But man had persevered, as always. Now it was the center of a bustling metropolis.

And to run away now was futile. He could not run... not from this.

Not from Eva.

The monotone voice of the pilot announced, with artificial cheer, that they would land in Tokyo-3 within minutes, blah, blah, blah and he tuned out.

He wished he still had his SDAT player... but that, like everything else, had been left behind.

Names, names he had tried so hard to forget, to bury along with his past, surfaced.

Touji... Kensuke... Misato... Ayanami... Father...


Briefly, he had the burning desire to ask the waitress for another drink. Not really an alcoholic like Misato, but he had, on occasion, drank away his sorrows. Within that wonderful liquid, he could find a temporary solace.

But no, he could not afford to be a roaring drunk. Not now. Not here.

Not when there were things to do. Not when-

A low, deep thump coursed through the airplane.

The plane had landed, he realized, and he had barely noticed.

With a deep sigh, the prodigal Shinji Ikari was finally home.

Captain Asuka Langely Sohryu, Operations Director, growled impatiently, glaring at the various members of the bridge crew, the core of NERV. "Where's the Commander?"

"Behind you, Captain." Supreme Commander Fuyutsuki said calmly, stepping forth from the lift.

The irate young woman spun around, a furious glare in her eyes. They were different colors now, something that chipped into her surprisingly fragile ego deeply. One was the same beautiful sky blue it had always been, but the other had become a pale blue-white. The glare didn't even faze the Commander.

"Calm down Asuka." Sub Commander Misato Katsuragi soothed, as she wheeled herself over to the redhead, dressed now in the brown uniform of her position.

The bridge crew all winced slightly, despite being numbed, mostly, to the image. Misato had been near death, almost dying in the aftermath of the JSSDF attack... even now, she still needed a wheelchair to get herself around. Still, she was as tough as ever, and her liver was still indestructible.

"Calm down? How can I be calm when out of nowhere, I get orders to unfreeze the Evas!" Asuka snapped. "For God's sake Misato, they haven't been in use for seven fucking years! And now, out of nowhere, you expect me to just think that this is all for testing! I'm not a God damn idiot!"

Fuyutsuki sighed, raising his hand. "Fair enough Captain. You've made your argument."

The redhead noted that he explained nothing, but bit her tongue. Yelling at the commanders would do nothing except frustrate her further. "Would you at least try to keep me informed?" she said, exasperated.

Misato briefly considered telling at least part of the truth to Asuka, but realized that it would be difficult... and she was too afraid to tell the redhead herself. Anyway, the girl was smart enough to figure it out. Trying to move away from the subject, she turned towards the head of Project E. "Dr. Ibuki, how is the unfreezing going along?"

Doctor Maya Ibuki sighed, glancing at her clipboard. "Well, we still have all the data, so we should be finished within twenty four hours."

"Excellent." Commander Fuyutsuki murmured, closing his eyes. Good... all the dragons are almost ready.

Your move, Keel.

Asuka looked hesitant for a moment. "Will we be running synchronization tests?" she asked quietly.

Swallowing down the urge to leap out of her chair and comfort the young woman, Misato replied in a soft voice, "Yes Asuka." Her eyes sparkled with a little of that old life. "And that means you need to slim down to fit into that plug suit... you look like you've ballooned." She teased in a most unprofessional way.

Just as a flicker of that spark that once resided in Misato came to life, an ember of that inferno within Asuka blazed in her anger. "If anyone's ballooned, its you! You still guzzle down that beer like you're twenty-nine." She shot back, but a smile was on her face.

And with that, the Operations Director and the Sub Commander became lost in their own argument, to the amusement of the bridge crew.

Shinji Ikari shuffled through the streets of Tokyo-3, head down and hands in his pocket. He was trying his best to be unnoticed, and just make his way to NERV headquarters...

Where he'd face everyone he'd left behind on that terrible day.

You can never escape, a cynical voice breathed. Why did you try?

"Damn it..." he whispered softly, closing his eyes.

Which was why he accidentally bumped into someone, sending both stumbling backwards. Shinji's eyes snapped open, and he stammered out a quick apology.

"Ikari? Is that you?" the young woman asked incredulously.

Blinking, the former pilot searched his memory frantically. Dark hair, dark eyes, moderately pretty, full of dignified authority... "Class Rep?"

Hikari Horaki giggled slightly, smiling. "I haven't been Class Representative in a long time, Ikari."

"Oh." Shinji managed, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. "Sorry..."

"Its okay." She smiled warmly at him, studying him carefully, but not scrutinizing. "What are you doing back here?" though she phrased it quietly and carefully, it was a question Shinji had been dreading.

"... NERV business." He finally replied, a forced, tight smile on his face. "How have you been Cla-Miss Horaki?"

"Call me Hikari." She continued to smile, and study him intently. "I've been good." After a brief silence, Hikari finally broke it. "You haven't told anyone you're coming?" what she really meant to say was, 'You haven't told her you're coming, have you?'

"Well... I called Misato... but... no, I haven't told anyone else. I don't know how I could even talk to them." Shinji felt himself on the verge of rambling and stammering. Seven years and he still had old habits.

"I know Touji and Kensuke will be happy to see you." Hikari commented airily, but glanced at Shinji to gauge his reactions.

The ex-Third Child paused and flinched. Would they, he wanted to ask? He had left without a word, as if their friendship had meant nothing. As if he had never even been here. "I- I've got to head down to headquarters." He stuttered, and managed a quiet goodbye before he left, hurrying down the street.



That was all that existed in this tiny bubble of a world.

A single form, a young, slender woman existed, encased within this world.

And there was another... a shape, a whisper...

The call... the call of the Other... of Lillith, Mother of All.

A call she had rejected once before... but the sound, that aching sirens song...

"Rei? We need you up on the bridge." Misato's voice whispered softly, filtered through the sound system installed in the tube.

Nodding, Rei Ayanami pulled herself free from the LCL, the liquid falling down in a heavy rain from her nude body. As she toweled herself off, she felt... a connection.

He was finally back.

"Ikari..." she breathed softly, and a slight smile crossed her face.

Deep within the darkness, the Throne of Souls convened, manifest in twelve obsidian obelisks.

"Ikari's son has returned to NERV." Seele 03 announced. "Fuyutsuki is marshaling his strength for another stand."

"Unit 01 and the Ikari family have proven to be a constant thorn in our sides." Seele 10 remarked with a tone of annoyance, despite the filtered voice. "We should never have brought either into being."

"Too true... Ikari's son may prove to be more of a problem than his father." Seele 02 spat hatefully.

There was a murmur of agreement among Seele.

"Irrelevant." Seele 01 cut in, asserting his authority. "We have our trump card. The Eva Series may have failed us, but this time, ascension will be ours. Ikari's tip of the hand will prove to be the realization of our dream."

"The Eva will be ready within the week." Seele 04 reported.

"Excellent. At last, the path is clear." Seele 01's smile was audible through the filter.

And with that, the Throne of Souls were dismissed.

NERV Headquarters... it hadn't changed a bit.

"They even got the blood out." Shinji muttered darkly, gazing at the NERV symbol and motto.

God's in His Heaven, all's right with the world.

Odd, for an organization who kills the Messengers of God.

He raised his newly issued security pass, pausing to glance at the identification.

Shinji Ikari. Third Child.

"Third Child..." Shinji whispered, rolling the unused term in his tongue. Yet another part of his past that he buried... but was forced to dig up. And it brought back the memories of the day he was handed the pass and his past.

The darkened apartment was cluttered and dirty, the owner clearly not caring about his own existence. Stepping lightly, a figure entered the room, cloaked in light.

"Mr. Ikari?"

A young man turned, unshaven and unkempt. He looked a bit too much like the spy Ryouji Kaji, the intruder noted. "Yes? Can I-" Shinji sucked in a breath, and stared at the man a little closer. Though not really familiar, one must always know their commanding officers. "Commander Fuyutsuki?"

The gray haired man smiled, tilting his head slightly. "You remember me."

"How'd you find me?" the former pilot questioned warily.

"The world isn't nearly large enough for Shinji Ikari, pilot of Unit 01 to disappear forever." Fuyutsuki said, almost smugly.

Shinji's eyes narrowed, and he growled. "I won't return..."

The Commander of NERV sighed. "I thought you might say that. But before you decide to throw me out, let me explain..."

With a blink, Shinji realized he had been standing at the entrance for over a minute, completely still and silent. Shaking his head, he swiped the card through the slot with unconscious ease.

It beeped, confirming that it was indeed him, and briefly flashing his clearance level... which was unusually high, especially since he hadn't been a part of the organization for seven years.

An odd smile quirked its way across his face. The clearance level was so high because there was nothing about NERV's bloody, dark past that he didn't know anyway.

As Shinji entered Headquarters for the first time in years, he came face to face with one of the many people he never wanted to see again.

"Hello Shinji. It's been a while."

Author's Remarks

Yes, the whole 'Shinji leaves and comes back' scenario has been done to death. So why give this one a shot? I don't know... why are you? This will be different... I hope. There are no more Angels and no more Eva series, I promise.

Explanations on why and how Third Impact failed and what happened will be told later.

This is my first chaptered foray into the Evangelion world, and it's a different than any work I've previously done. Thanks for checking this done to death scenario out. I hope it won't disappoint.

And finally, this story is not pre-read.