Chapter One ' How it began '

Chairman Keel sat listening to Vivaldi, and checking the time on a fifty year old Rolex watch.

' At long last, the final round begins Ikari. Yet one more time we will play the game out, and I've opened Pandora's box itself to ensure the correct outcome.'

The clock stuck twelve, and his face took on a rare smile.

' The fate of destruction is the joy of rebirth. Welcome home my dear, and good bye my Judas. '

In a NERV deep freeze, an unearthly sound echoed through the air. All around the towering red form of Evangelion Unit Two, technicians began to panic, as it pulled at its restraints. Inside the entry plug the pilot's EEG went flat after 23 seconds of feedback her plug suit failed to filter out.

' This shouldn't be HAPPENING! '

' Doctor, we need options, and a living pilot! Snap out of it! '

Misato tried to bring her old friend back to reality, as failsafe after failsafe, stopped functioning.

' This isn't possible! We cut the power, and battery ran down two minutes ago! The A-10 nerve is transmitting in reverse! The EVA is in control, and there's not a damn thing we can do! '

Misato took a deep breath, and spoke calmly.

' Ritsuko, listen to me. You need to stop that thing. If you don't, I'll have to order it to the launch pad, and send out Shinji, and Rei to stop it. '

The Doctor's ice cold resolve continued to break down, as Commander Ikari entered the room.

' Status report, Doctor. '

Misato spoke up.

' We need to get the pilot out, while there is still no AT field. Let me sent in Unit One with a prog-knife, and . . '

Gendo broke in coldly.

' Doctor, what is your report! '

' Nothings working. . . '

' Prepare Unit One to terminate the problem.'

Thirty seconds later, the EVA went silent.

Light came first, then a long forgotten feeling, of warmth. Opening her eyes, she saw a standard Gehirn hospital room. The layout so familiar, she could remember designing it over cold coffee some ungodly hour of the night.

Putting her feet on the cold ground, she could feel the weakness in her legs as she stood. Her eyes fixed on the bathroom door, to her estimation twenty two steps away. Putting one foot in front of the other, she began her journey. She lasted five steps, before the floor reached up and dragged her down, hard.

Damn it!

She felt a warm arm reach around her and lift her up.

Take you god damn hands off me, you bastard! Don't you know, who the hell I am!

' Asuka, I'm trying to help. '

What the hell are you talking about Ikari? Did you forget I loath your ass?

Sitting her back onto the bed, she could see his face clearly. He looked skinnier, and his glasses were absent.

' You're talking in German Asuka, I don't understand. I'm going to get the nurse OK? '

Asuka, I remember that name. . .

Her mind drifted back in time to another of these rooms, and an other feeling of near total exhaustion.

She could picture it perfectly in her mind, holding her new born baby in her arms.

Asuka. . .

' Well son, at least she remembers her own name. '

' I think, she was saying she wanted to go to the bathroom. '

Internal cybernetics protested, as Chairman Keel removed his visor, without using the normal shutdown procedure. Right away his splitting headache began to fadeas a voice called out in the dark.

' Sir, it's time the official report has just come in. '

' Right on time. Summon Ikari to the chamber.'

' Should I get your wheel chair?'

' I'll meet them on my feet, or not at all. '

' Yes, Sir. '

He replaced the visor, and began his long walk to the small room that would connect him via hologram to Gendo Ikari.

' Promises to keep, and mile's to go, before I sleep. '

As he walked, his blood pressure went up by half a point as he realized every step was uniform in length, and took the same amount of time.

This is unfitting for a man in my station. Damn engineers never understand, except her. She understood greatness, and its cost. Even the first time I met her.

Many years ago, outside a seedy New Jersey strip club, half past two o'clock in the morning. A red haired woman, not yet twenty makes her way to a bus stop four blocks away. Reaching it, an elderly man sat on the bench, in an expensive business suit. Parked ten feet from a black BMW, that cost more then the bus that was to stop their shortly.

' You don't take a hint do you? '

' I try to, but only if I'm sure me message is received. '

' Most people would think; trying to pass a stripper a thousand dollar bill, is an indecent proposal. '

He smiled, as he spoke.

' Anyone that would think that, would be fool enough to think a young women, walking alone at night would be unprotected. '

' If you are that brat's father, you did a poor job teaching him manners! I'm pressing charges. '

' No, I'm afraid I've never found the time for a family. My name is Keel Lorenz, and I'm interested in your academic career. Your professors at Princeton speak well of your work, if not your way of speaking to them.'

Turning her head only enough to see his out of the corner of her eye, she responded.

' Keel Lorenz, is a billionaire that gives enough money to Princeton to have the Dean forward my class schedule. '

' Yes, but I wanted to see you for myself. I wondered if an orphan from Tokyo could actually hold two jobs, and afford a Princeton education. You must want to better your station in life, quite a lot. '

' One would think, a man smart enough to learn my life story, would be smart enough to not bring it up in a place like this. Some one that would think that, might end up like a certain rich boy with wondering hands.'

' If, my dear, you would open your mail, you'd realize I've invited you to my office before. Did you think it was one of the loan companies wanting a late payment?'

She stood and turned to him.

' I'm tired, and my ride is here. If you are Keel Lorenz, I'll meet you at your branch office in New York, the day after tomorrow. If not, I see you again and you'll regret it. '

She boarded the bus, and the old man smiled.

' Bloody wonderfull. '

Entering the hologram chamber Keel broke his train of thought.

Ikari's mind knows only obsession! He understands nothing of holding yourself to a higher standard, and his son is proof enough of that.

' Tell me Ikari, what is this I hear of trouble with Unit Two? '

Awaking again, the first thing she felt was the soft comfort that you just couldn't get on a hospital mattress. The blanket was too soft, and the futons elevation too low. Sitting up, Kyoko looked around the room.

Decent sized, a bit messy, and a faint hint of cooking food in the air. The confusion in her mind was forgotten, as she literally could not remember the last time she ate.

Standing, she became aware of another odd feeling, soft cotton on her skin.

It shouldn't feel alien, should it?

Walking to the door, she froze at the sight of a mirror. Something was wrong, her waist was too thin, her breasts too small, and her hair hadn't been THAT long in years.

What the hell?

The knock at the door made her mind go blank. As it slide open she laid eyes on a tall violet haired women, dresseds like trampy college girl.

' Oh you're up! Good! Shinji made a late breakfast for us, if you're feeling up to it. '

She turned and walked away.

Was that a Japanese prostitute?

Realizing that she was wearing a lose fitting T shirt two sizes to large and ratty shorts, she decided not to complain.

Walking to what seemed to be the kitchen, it still felt like walking in a dream. Nothing seemed ' real ', as she sat and began eating with out a word.

' So, how are you feeling? '

Looking up at the woman again, she struggled to understand her words.

Asuka, are you OK?

Hearing the familiar sound of German, she tried to remember Japanese.

' Your accent; sucks. '

' I see you're feeling better. '

Returning to her food, she didn't notice Shinji joining them.

Finishing her plate, she turned to look at him with a bit of rice stuck to her face.

' Ikari? '

' I know, when the EVA went crazy on me, I wasn't right for a few days. I'm glad your doing OK. '

She stood without a word, and walked back into her room. Shinji turned to Misato, looking a bit more uneasy then normal.

' Was I like that, when it happed to me? '

' The first day, yea, but I didn't know you too well, back then. Is there anything you didn't mention?'

' I didn't remember anything . . then that first night it all came rushing back. '

' I'll sleep out here tonight, Shinji. So I can peek in on her and keep an eye on her. '

Shinji smiled just a bit.

' That's nice of you. '

Misato walked to the kitchen to get another beer, stopping for a second as she passed Shinji.

' You've got school, you should get some sleep. I know your worried, don't be. Asuka's tough she'll get through this just fine. '

She lay on the bed, staring at herself in the mirror.

' Not right, just not right. . . '

Images of a toddler filed her half awake mind.

' Asuka, is that you, baby? '

The girl in the mirror refused to answer, as sleep crept over her only half-aware mind.

Kyoko exited the elevator and walked into an office about the same size as the lobby she entered it from. Two men dressed in black flanked the exit, but made no move to stop her.

' Gentlemen. '

Moving to the center of the office, she met the old man from the bus stop, sitting at simple desk with a smile on his face.

' Greeting my dear. '

' Mister Keel, I presume. '

She took a seat as he continued to speak.

' My dear if I may ask. Why are you working so hard to go to a school that cost so much? You turned down scholarships to lesser institutions. '

' Princeton is the only university in America that teaches Meta-physical biology. I wanted to learn, so I did what I needed to do. '

' I see, and why not go in Japan? '

' There, I am a half breed, here I'm an exotic red haired Asian girl. Certain doors open when people think of you one way, and certain doors close when they think another. '

' I see. Now why pin your hopes on a new science with an uncertain future? '

' Their is nothing uncertain about Meta-biology. It means biological machines the likes of which were impossible before. Government's will want that technology, and they will need people to create it. Think of it like getting into physics in 1941. '

' Do you want to be Oppenheimer? '

' In a matter of speaking. I want a place in history, like Einstein. '

' You know Oppenheimer was removed from his post after the bomb was built? He was a communist in his younger years, and even thought he'd long changed his views the American government removed him once he was no longer needed. '

' I'm aware of the story, Sir. '

' Then why not put your talents to work else ware? '

' Because I'm damn good that Meta-Biology, Sir. Also it is the most difficult subject I've found, and I can do it well. I'd like to make my mark there.'

' Have something to prove? '

' No, I want greatness. To be a respected figure, in a cutting edge field. That would mean something. '

' To your parents? '

' No, to an ugly orphan gaijin no one cared about. '

' You don't need anyone's approval but your own, I like that. I also like that you feel the need to push yourself. I have one more question for you . . . '

She cut in.

' If you ask me for a hummer, I'll break your jaw before your goons get over here. '

The old man broke out in a rare moment of laughter.

' My dear, I was referring to circle's you'll need to walk in to reach your goal. Are you willing to walk with serpents, knowing full well what that entails?'

' I'm willing to do anything to get what I want Sir, but I do have my limits. I'll be damned if I sell my soul for a damn thing. No one could afford it. '

' My dear, I like your character, as well. Their are few people left in the world willing to take the long hard path to greatness. Some times one must deal with the Devil, but few have the will to do so on their own terms knowing full well they will be burned.

' Do you have you an offer to make Sir? '

' That I do. I'll see to your debts, and give you thirty thousand for future costs. In exchange to you work for me for five years, and consider a government appointment arranged by me at the end. '

' You want a mole, or an agent in a government lab don't you? Some one to ensure your company is ready to supply what ever they need, and rake in billions in contracts.'

' The Military-Industrial Complex, makes the world go round, my dear. '

' I'm in. '

Next: Ice Cold Words