Disclaimer: I don't own NGE, nor anything related to it. Nor do I own Iron Maiden, Tristania, or any other bands talked about in this story. They all exist, but I don't own them—just some of their albums. And Pepsi Co. owns Dr. Pepper, not me. Ruby Tuesday's is owned by someone other than myself.

Author's Note: I got this idea while I tried to read the first volume of Neon Genesis: Evangelion—Angelic Days while watching the movie Office Space. This will probably end up being one of those stories I look at in a few months and wonder what the hell I was thinking, but hey… It's lighthearted. And besides, with my 'serious' Eva fic drawing to its cataclysmic conclusion, I need something lighthearted.

And I bear no ill towards anyone who works in an office environment. I bear no prejudices against engineers, marketers, or anyone in any other division. Just to be clear.

Now… Let's pretend that the Evas don't exist. Let's pretend that the 'Children' are in their early to mid twenties, but everyone else's age hasn't changed, respectively. Let's pretend that they all work at a corporate office. And let's pretend that cubicles are a way of life (though for some of us, that isn't pretending…).

And the first scene doesn't take place on Monday. The time is irrelevant for the first scene—it's like an intro.

Now, enjoy…


Chapter 1: Monday
"So yeah… it sucks." Shinji flopped his head back onto the couch, closing his eyes. "I. Hate. My. Job."

The blonde psychiatrist re-crossed her legs. "I can understand why you hate it," she began, her cool voice acting like a summer's breeze blowing across a meadow. If there was anything about her that could get Shinji to relax, it was that wonderful voice of hers. "But I want you to describe your hate." She continued. "I want you to specifically point out what it is that you dislike about your job."

Shinji opened his eyes, meeting the softened grey of the ceiling. "Well," he began, "where should I begin?"

The woman shrugged, and out of the corner of his eye, he spied her eyes drifting across his body. He found it kind of awkward, really. It wasn't the age difference; she was what, thirty three? He was twenty four. It wasn't like she didn't have the right to size him up.

He pulled his head back to look at her, at which point her gaze snapped to his eyes. "Let's see," he began again, "How about the office—cubicle, rather?" He asked himself. "There is no color. There is only the white of the walls in the corridors, and the grey of the walls of the cubicle. Do you know what a cubicle is, doctor?" Her silent gaze only begged him to continue. It was rare he spoke this much during a session. "A cubicle," he stated, "Is a four-walled prison for your mind. It is a cell of anti-creativity. Any individual thoughts and epiphanies are horribly destroyed when inside the grey pain box that is the cubicle."

He paused for a moment, thinking absently. "And the walls are carpeted, just like the floor. It's kind of… freaky."

The doctor had moved her arm so that her elbow was on the armrest, her half-clenched fist resting on her cheek. Her eyes never left his as he outlined the description of his workplace environment.

When he got no response, Shinji continued. "And then there's the brilliant ideas from the big schmoes upstairs. Just the other day, I had finished this report for one of the projects—and guess what happened?" She raised her eyebrows politely. "The upper management decided that the old report forms weren't good enough. So then I got the memo, and had to redo the whole report after I had already sent it out." He sighed as he let his head fall back onto the couch.

She stared at him a moment, observing his actions while taking in his words. "Do you have a girlfriend, Shinji?"

"What?" he pulled his head back. "Oh, yeah. I mean, I dunno. I guess. Sort of."

"What's that mean?" She feigned a confused expression to get a response.

He sighed. "Well, she's abusive, and self-centered—egotistical does nothing to even begin to describe her—and well, I just don't… I dunno… like her, I guess. I mean, she's great an' all, but… You know, don't you?"

She nodded, a light smile tracing her lips. "Of course."

Shinji nodded in silence for awhile, before noticing the clock. He sighed again. "Well… I guess that's the end of our session today." He said.

She peered at the twelve-numbered face on the wall. "Yes, I suppose it is. Same time next week, I'm sure?"

He shrugged half-heartedly as he stood. "I guess."

"So long, Shinji. You're making progress, if it's any consolation."

Shinji nodded. "Thanks, that's good to know. See you later Doctor Akagi."


MONDAY; 8:30 AM

RUSH HOUR

---

Shinji hated rush hour traffic. Part of him beat himself for continuously getting up just in time to make it out the door. That's what any sane person would be doing; beating himself up for arousing from sleep so late.

Part of him didn't care.

The part of him that didn't care was part of the reason he was seeing a psychiatrist. His "girlfriend" said he was depressed, and forced him to see an (albeit attractive) shrink to 'open up to his personal feelings'.

What a load of crap.

---

"Kensuke?"

"Yes Toji?"

"Why do we always carpool? I mean, it's kinda gay."

"I don't have to save you money, you know. With gas prices where they are, I could leave you to suffer through the economic hardships like the rest of us."

"Oh." The passenger thought for a moment, gazing idly out the window. "…Thanks, I guess."

---

"Watch where you're g—oh, you son of a bitch!" Shigeru slammed his palm into the steering wheel as a blue sedan suddenly pulled into the space in front of him. "BASTARD!"

"Dude, calm down man. It isn't that bad." Makoto's whitened knuckles gripped the door handle as Shigeru crept up on the sedan and slammed on his breaks. "Just don't—jezus—don't hit the guy!"

The driver sighed. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Besides, it's probably someone we work with." He said it with a slight smirk.

Makoto finished his colleague's thought. "…Like one of those weirdoes in the engineering department."

They both started laughing.

---

Shinji barely scraped into the spot in front of the red coup, cutting the guy off. In all honesty, he didn't mean to come that close to the guy's fender, but he really didn't have a choice. His lane was ending due to construction, so he needed to go somewhere.

It wasn't his fault the guy wouldn't let him in.

It wasn't his fault the guy was being an ass.

He couldn't say that too loud, though. The driver of the sedan was probably someone he worked with.

"…Like one of those marketing department weirdoes…" he mused to himself, smirking.

---

Maya Ibuki's trip to work was blissful.

But then, everything had been blissful since the doctor ordered her to take one little yellow pill every morning before work.

He had also told her not to drive when she took the pill.

Oh well.


MONDAY; 9:15 AM

THE OFFICE

---

Shinji took a minute to stare at the concrete structure before him. It was depressingly mundane; a cement walkway leading up to glass double doors. It was tall enough to encompass five floors, three stairwells, and one elevator shaft. The front of the building was a grid of concrete, filled in with glass panels that reflected the surrounding office park. The rest of the buildings in the park were exactly the same as the one which he now stood in front of, but they had different logos sprawled on their double doors.

This building's logo happened to be the name of the company written in the Veranda type face.

Nerv Technologies, Inc.

Shinji blinked, before opening the door and starting his official business day.

---

The walk to the cubicle always instilled dread in Shinji Ikari. He never knew why, it was just one of those things that deserved to be dreaded. Maybe he feared getting pulled over and talked to by a supervisor. Maybe he feared finding someone else occupying his cubicle. Maybe he was just liked dreading things.

Maybe that was another reason he was seeing a psychiatrist.

In the swift four minutes it took to get to his mundane hovel among the generic, nothing extraordinary happened. He wasn't pulled aside by a supervisor, and this cubicle was still his own. This time, his fears were unfounded, but there would always be a next time.

Setting his briefcase underneath the desk, Shinji reluctantly pulled several papers out of it, before booting up his computer. He tiredly laid the sheets on his desk, staring at them for several minutes before turning once again to his computer.

ERROR IN BOOT PROCESS. INSERT BOOT DISK AND RESTART.

"What the hell?" Shinji's eyes narrowed. His fingers hit the classic 'control, alt, delete,' keys in an attempt to fix it. He knew it wouldn't, but there was no harm in hoping.

ERROR IN BOOT PROCESS. INSERT BOOT DISK AND RESTART.

The message remained; glaring at him from the other side of the black screen. The computer was laughing at him. Shaking his head, he reached down to hit the power button, before restarting the machine again.

"Piece of—"

ERROR IN BOOT PROCESS. INSERT BOOT DISK AND RESTART.

"—shit."

He took a deep breath, trying to quell the anger that was starting to rise up in his throat. Closing his eyes, he went to the happy place that the beautiful doctor had instructed him to go to when angry. The beautiful doctor would probably kill him if she knew where that place was.

Just as he achieved his goal, a song wafted into his ears from someplace overhead.

"At the gates and the walls of Montségur, blood on the stones of the citadel!"

He did not need Iron Maiden at this hour of the morning.

"Rei," he started to stand, peering over the wall of his cubicle to stare down at an azure-haired young woman. Red eyes flashed up to greet him. "Could you turn down…" Her gaze bored holes through his eyes, it was so intense. "Um…" He trailed off, deciding that it was probably better to let the melodies of eighties metal bands permeate the air than face angering the silent workaholic. He had never seen her angry, but that was probably a good thing.

"Never mind," he said, sitting back down and staring at the cubicle wall for awhile.

---

"Yeah, but it's always the silent ones that snap." Kensuke and Toji were engaged in a conversation when Shinji arrived. Kensuke continued as Shinji poked his head into their shared cubicle. "One day, everything seems fine. The next—" he pulled his hand into the shape of a pistol and aimed for Shinji's head. "—it's bang! bang! bang! and everyone's a goner."

Toji nodded in agreement. "I've still got my money on Shigeru though. You know, da guy over in marketing? He's crazy as hell."

"Crazy's one thing. Crazy can mean a good worker. But they're usually too uptight to actually start sending rounds into anyone." The spectacled cohort responded. "I dunno. I still think that Ayanami is silently planning to overthrow the management. She works hard enough to avoid suspicion, but there's still that dangerous glint in her eyes when you annoy her. I bet she's packin heat even as we speak."

Toji shrugged, looking at Shinji. "Hey, Shin-man. What's goin' on?" He greeted his friend with the nod of his head.

"Yeah, what brings you to our humble programming hospice, man?" Kensuke pushed his glasses back up his nose where they had started to slide.

Shinji frowned. "My computer's acting flaky."

"What's it doing?" The smaller man swung his swivel chair to face him.

"It says I need to insert a boot disk to continue booting." He said. "But I don't have a boot disk."

Kensuke frowned. "Go talk to management." He shrugged. "I hate messing with these machines. They might get you a new box."

Shinji nodded. "Alright."

As he walked off, Toji returned to the conversation with the same gusto. "Ayanami? Well, maybe… I could see her cappin' a few mugs."

---

"Um," Hikari Hiroki, the project manager blinked. "Shinji, that really isn't my department of specialty." She said. "You should probably go to the tech manager for that booting issue."

Shinji sighed as he stepped out of her office.

---

"Ms. Katsuragi?" Shinji tentatively knocked on the door to the Tech Manager's door. He didn't much care for the overly flirtatious older woman. The fact of the matter was that she intimidated him—her close proximity during conversations was one thing, but when she damn near molested him after he had come down to report a bug in the engineering server, Shinji started to want to keep his distance.

The door opened with a grandiose movement worthy of her reputation. "Shinji! How nice of you to drop by!" Shinji's involuntary eye twitch must have gone unnoticed by the woman. "Come in!"

He stepped inside, letting his gaze wander about the room. The walls were the same white as the rest of the building, but they at least had some pictures of landscapes adorning them as to divert attention away from their bleak sense of mundane.

"Have you been seeing that doctor I referred you to?" She asked suddenly, closing the door. "Akagi, the psychiatrist." She motioned for him to sit down.

He nodded, taking the offered seat. "Ms. Kats—"

"And how have those sessions with her been?" She smiled slightly, a mischievous glint in her eye. "I trust you've been having fun with her…"

Shinji feigned a shocked expression. He had expected this, but he still didn't want to hear it. "Ms. Katsuragi!"

"Oh please, Shinji. I told you to call me Misato when we're not at work."

"But we are at work—"

She leaned on the desk, the neck of her shirt falling down to give Shinji a clear view of a substantial amount of cleavage. "We don't have to be," she whispered. "When are you going to leave that girlfriend of yours to sleep with a real woman?"

Shinji pushed his chair away from the desk a few inches. "Misato—Ms. Katsuragi," he said, "I came down here because my computer's not working." Finally, he managed to complete a sentence without getting cut off. "It says there's a boot disk error when I start it up—but I don't know where the boot disks are. I went to Ms. Hiroki, and she said to come to you."

Misato frowned, her business mode kicking into gear. "I'm pretty sure they're all in the big storage compartments near Marketing." She replied, thinking. "You'll probably have to go down there."

Shinji nodded as he stood. "Alright, thank you. That's all I needed."

"Have a good day," Misato winked as he walked out the door.

---

"Hey, aren't you one of the guys from Engineering?" Shigeru happened to spot Shinji as he roamed the Marketing corridors.

"Um," he replied, staring at him for a moment. "Yes."

Shigeru chuckled. "What brings you to Marketing?"

"I've been having problems with my machine, and I was told that the boot disks were with the rest of the spare computer hardware down here, in the storage compartments." He frowned. "But I haven't seen any storage compartments at all."

Shigeru made no attempt to suppress his laugh. "Man, what information are you goin' on? All that computer equipment was thrown out last year, when we had to make room for the new employees."

Shinji frowned deeper. "Oh."

---

"What?" Misato frowned. "Oh, that's right, I remember now." She nodded, returning eye contact to Shinji. "Yes. We had a bunch of promising Marketing recruits, and we didn't have any space. The hardware was old, and we had anticipated replacing our machines anyway, so we just got rid of it all."

"But what about the boot disks?"

Misato shrugged. "Probably ditched along with everything else." She looked around the office, thinking. "Shinji, your machine has probably blown its brains out anyhow—weren't you complaining about a bug a few weeks ago?"

"Yes, but that was on the server. My machine didn't get hit, I didn't think."

"Yeah, but still. You might have gotten hit." She shrugged. "Ahh well, just sit tight while we replace your box."

His eyes widened. "But I have work to do, Ms. Katsuragi!"

Misato frowned. "Reports?"

"Yeah."

"Here." She tossed him a pad of paper and leaned back in her chair. "You have pens, right?"

---

"Hey, Shin-man!" Toji peeked his head around the corner of Shinji's cubicle. "You up for lunch? Me an' Kensuke are gettin' outta 'dis joint for some food."

Shinji shrugged. "Is anyone else coming?"

"Up to you, man."

Shinji stood up and peeked over the top of his cubicle at Rei. Iron Maiden was still pouring out of her speakers. "Hey Rei, you up for lunch?"

She kept her gaze glued to her computer screen as she continued typing. "I brought my own."

Shinji frowned and turned to the other side. "Kaworu, you hungry?"

The grey haired albino looked up at him with his eerie red eyes. "Yes, Shinji. Is it lunchtime already?"

Shinji nodded. "Yeah. Aida, Suzaharra, and I are going out someplace to eat. You want to come?"

Kaworu shrugged. "It works for me."


MONDAY; 12:30 PM

RUBY TEUSDAY'S

---

"So I pretty much wasted the whole morning." Shinji concluded.

Kensuke frowned. "So what are you using for your computer?"

"A yellow pad of paper."

Toji blinked. "Dat sucks." Kaworu sipped his Dr. Pepper, staring at Shinji from over the lip of the glass. "It sounds like you need ta bust some heads, man." Toji continued, "I wouldn't stand for that kinda disrespect."

Shinji frowned. "Yeah, but I dunno guys. I mean, sure it's a pain, and sure I can't get work done, but it's the company's problem—not mine. Right?"

Kensuke shrugged. "Unless management decides to blame you for work neglect."

"Yeah, but management barely looks at us to begin with—just look at how much work we actually do in a day." Shinji rebuked. "We haven't gotten fired yet." He shrugged. "I mean, sure, I actually get some work done, but all the stuff I do is trivial report crap. I'm not really a software guy like you guys. The bullshit they give me is all secretarial work."

Toji's brow furrowed in concentration. "But didn't they give you dat one project a few weeks ago? You know, dat—oh what was it?"

Shinji quirked an eyebrow. "You mean the thing for Global Enterprises?"

"Dat was da client, right?"

Shinji closed his eyes. "Yes, Toji."

"Yeah, dat sounds right." Toji nodded. "You know da one I'm talkin' 'bout."

"Sure, I got that project." Shinji said, "But I didn't do any work on it. Horaki took me off the project the second day and gave me a stack of memos to type up, then said that she needed a bunch of other things filed. By the time I finished all that, the project had been finished and a report needed to be done. Guess who got to write that?" The stares around him verified that they already knew. "Do I look like a freaking secretary?"

Kensuke glanced at Kaworu. "Hey Nagisa, what do you think of all this?"

Kaworu set his glass down and looked at them thoughtfully. "I'd have to say that it's pretty insulting to have an engineer doing a secretary's job." He said. "But I also have to say that it is the company who is suffering the most, not Shinji."

Shinji nodded as his friend spoke. "Yeah, I guess you're right. While they're wasting my skills typing pointless documents that no one reads, they're losing precious man-hours that could be spent on something important."

The others nodded in agreement, and a silence descended as they awaited the bill.

Shinji shook his head and sighed. "Man, I really hate that place. If I had work ethic, I think I'd care about the direction the company was headed—but you know what? I can't bring myself to really feel bad if Nerv Technologies Incorporated went belly-up in the near future."

The others looked at him. "Yeah, I'm not sure if I would care, either. My skills are pretty good, so I doubt I'd have trouble getting another job." Kensuke said, after a moment of thought.

"I wouldn't have any trouble either." Kaworu added.

Toji nodded. "Yeah, neither would I."

"Then why do we stay here?" Shinji asked, his voice rising in volume slightly. "If we could all get different jobs, why do we bother with this worthless company?"

Kaworu smiled knowingly. "Human beings do not particularly enjoy change. Should we all get new jobs, we would all have a different office to get to, different tasks to perform as employees; everything would change for us."

"Are you saying that some part of me enjoys this job?"

Kaworu chuckled. "If some part of you did not enjoy it, you would not come, correct?"

Shinji's eyes lit up in realization. "Yeah… I guess. This place at least pays my decently, so I really can't complain."

"Besides," Kaworu continued, "What makes you think that other offices are any different from our current one?"

Kensuke winced. "Ooh, good point."

---

"This is an injustice." Shigeru stared at the wall his desk faced. "You realize that, right? It's a complete injustice."

Makoto leaned back in his chair, head dangling off the back of the short backrest. "You say that every day, Shig."

"Well maybe I'm not saying it loud enough, since we're all still here."

"Or just not to the right people." Makoto added offhand.

Shigeru shrugged. "Either way, something's way off." He continued, "I mean, look at this. Three people crammed into an office that was built to house one." He crossed his arms and furrowed his brows at the wall. "This isn't even a corner office! If they were going to cram us in here, the least they could do is give us a corner office!"

Makoto suppressed a chuckle. "What difference would that make? You still wouldn't get to see out the window." He said. "Knowing the management around here, they'd force you to have your back to both of the windows."

Shigeru grunted. "Yeah, whatever." He went silent as he laid his hands on the armrests of the swivel chair, staring at his powerless monitor.

Silence reigned supreme for awhile, as Makoto continued his incessant typing. Maya was in the corner silently working on whatever she was working on. Shigeru just sat there staring at the monitor he had turned off before he had gone to lunch.

It still hadn't been turned on.


MONDAY; 2:14 PM

THE OFFICE

---

Soft music continued to float down from the over the wall of Shinji's neighboring cubicle.

"I will hope, my soul will fly, so I will live—Forever! Heart will die, my soul will fly, and I will live—Forever!"

"Rei," Shinji peered over the wall of Rei's cubicle, looking down at her again.

"Yes, Ikari?" She hadn't torn her eyes from her computer screen.

He was about to ask her to turn the music down, but a different thought occurred to him instead. "Is Iron Maiden your favorite band?"

Her typing stopped abruptly, and she shifted her gaze to stare at him. "No." she said. "But they are favorable."

Shinji raised an eyebrow. "Who do you typically listen to the most, then?"

"Are you asking who my favorite musical artist is?"

Shinji nodded. "Yes, I am."

"What business is it of yours?"

He shrugged. "I dunno. I just have an idea, and it would be nice if I had your input."

Her eyes shifted from his, glancing toward the floor and resting on her wastebasket. Shinji knew then that she was thinking something over.

"Tristania," she finally stated, returning her gaze to him. "Is that all?"

Shinji frowned, having never heard of this band before. "Yeah, yeah," he said. "That's all." He sat back down in his swivel chair, staring down at the legal pad in front of him.

Fact: Overhead intercom system is controlled from a general utilities server.

Fact: It can therefore be hacked into and controlled, just like the lights, security system, and other miscellaneous utilities.

Plan: Hack into server, wreak havoc.

Shinji smiled to himself, ever so slightly. If he could get into the server, he could unleash a cacophony of distorted music over the speakers of the workplace, driving everyone crazy. And he could mess with the lights, just to add effect. He could probably do it from a remote, isolated location, and send his signal through one or two different networks just to make it harder to track.

His plan wouldn't cause any damage, it would just be a minor, temporary inconvenience.

---

"Hey Shin-man."

Shinji turned to Toji as he read over his notes. Then he turned back to the water cooler as he finished filling his cup. "Yes?"

"What's a Tristania?" He asked.

"It's a band, I think." Kensuke replied for him.

Shinji looked at him. "You've heard of them?"

Kensuke shrugged. "Heard of them, but I haven't listened to any of their music, really. I think they're a death metal group."

Shinji frowned. "Oh."

Kensuke continued. "You'd have to talk to Makoto over in Marketing if you want to know more about them." He said. "He's a huge metal head. Get him started on music and he'll blow you away with the crazy stuff he knows. Arcturus, Therion, Dimmu Borgir, Opeth… He knows all those hard bands and probably has all their albums. He's even into the stuff from the 1980's, like Grim Reaper and Iron Maiden and Twisted Sister and stuff. And I'm not even mentioning all the bands I had never heard of."

Toji and Shinji stared at him wide-eyed.

Then Toji spoke up. "Looks like dis Makoto guy's got an apprentice."

Kensuke wrinkled his nose. "Nah, if anyone's his apprentice, it would be Ayanami. Have you listened to what she's always got playing? It's some pretty crazy stuff."

Shinji nodded. "Yeah, today it was Iron Maiden. Yesterday it was something I don't think I ever want to hear again."

"Do you know who it was?"

Shinji shrugged. "She said it was… I can't remember. Nighttime Dead? No that wasn't it…"

"Nokturnal Mortum?" Kensuke raised an eyebrow.

He shrugged again. "It sounds right, but I still can't remember. Probably." He said. "All I know is that they were really creepy. It kinda scared me."

Kensuke nodded ambivalently. "Yeah, some of that stuff is pretty harsh. It takes a certain mentality to embrace it fully."

Toji stared at him oddly. "What is it, Zen or somethin'?"

Kensuke shrugged. "No, I'd call it something more like…"

He trailed off as Rei approached the water cooler, attracting the gazes of Toji, Kensuke, and Shinji as she poured herself a cup of the liquid. Pausing a moment to notice that she was the center of attention, she blinked, and returned to her cubicle the way she came.

"…Dementia." He finished, staring after the girl with a blank expression.

---

"C-could you repeat that?" The spectacled Marketer squinted at him, trying to understand the other man.

Shinji repeated his question. "If, hypothetically, you wanted to drive everyone crazy with a particular genre of music, what band do you think would wreak the most chaos?"

Makoto frowned. "Well…" He leaned back in his chair, craning his neck. "I don't know, there are so many possibilities."

Shinji shrugged. "So give me one."

"Hmm… Opeth is pretty heavy, but they might be too melodic for what you're looking for. I'm guessing that you want something really grungy and heavy, right?" Shinji nodded. "Hmm… Well, Nokturnal Mortum might work… They're pretty damn heavy. There's always—" he started to chuckle, "Cannibal Corpse…"

"Why are you laughing?"

"Because they're just hilarious. They're… They don't take themselves seriously, and they know it. The whole band was created for a psychology project when they were in collage or something ridiculous." Makoto replied. "They just kept going because people actually liked the stuff." He calmed himself down. "Um… Dimmu Borgir is pretty damn heavy as well."

"What about Grim Reaper?" Shinji cut in.

Makoto looked at him, shaking his head. "I guess, if that's what you're looking for. They aren't heavy like the others—they're 80's metal, like Twisted Sister and Iron Maiden and… well, early Metallica fits in that genre too." He took a breath. "No, if you want deep, heavy, satanic stuff, your best bet would be something like Nokturnal Mortum or—shit, why didn't I think of this before?—Tsjuder."

Shinji stared at him blankly. "…Tsjuder?"

Makoto shrugged. "Hey, if you want grungy, it doesn't get much grungier than Tsjuder. They're barely a step above noise and hoarse vocals. I get burn you a copy right now, if you want."

A smirk tugged at Shinji's lips. "Yeah… that'd be nice. I'd like a copy, if you could. Thanks."

---

"Didja get it?" Toji peeked his head around the edge of his cubicle to look at Shinji as he approached.

Shinji just held up a CD with fresh handwriting on it. "Tsjuder, Desert Northern Hell. Makoto said it was barely above noise." He smiled. "Now we get to have some fun."

Kensuke grabbed the CD and threw it into his computer. "Now what did you want me to do? Hack into the P.A. system and play some of this stuff?" Shinji nodded and took a stance behind him, one hand on the desk and the other on the back of his friend's chair. Kensuke smiled as he was given the right-of-way. "I'm on it."

Kaworu walked by just as Kensuke broke into the system. Only a few more keystrokes and there'd be indecipherable Norwegian grunge blasting out of the overhead speakers in just about every department in the entire building.

This would be an experience to remember.

Except…

"What are you doing?" Kaworu's calm voice interrupted Kensuke and the others before the final process could be completed.

"What?"

"You've hacked into the utilities server, from what it looks like." Kaworu said. "Why?" He shrugged. In honesty, it made no difference to him, he was just curious.

"Oh," Shinji said, starting to explain. "We're gonna drive every department crazy by blasting Tsjuder over the P.A. system."

Kaworu smiled a melancholy grin. "Shinji, you're doing this out of spite, against the management?"

Shinji thought for a moment, before nodding. "Yeah. I suppose I am."

"Then you're targeting the wrong people." Kaworu said. "Most of the people working here are just like you; they aren't the ones you want to make angry."

Shinji's eyes widened as he said this, his entire thought process screeching to a cataclysmic halt.

Toji was the first to say something. "Y'know, da guy has a point."

Kensuke frowned.

Shinji frowned.

Toji shrugged.

"Save this weapon for a time when it is needed, friend. Then you can have it as a rallying cry for your troops." With that, Kaworu turned and continued on his path.

Kensuke's brow furrowed in confusion. "'Rallying cry for your troops'? What the hell does he mean by that? Is he insinuating an office revolution?"

Shinji shrugged dejectedly. "I dunno. He talks in riddles."

Their conversation was cut short as their manager found them. "Oh good, you're all together already. Here's your new project, guys." Horaki handed each of them a black notebook, almost three inches thick and filled with pages. "Well, it isn't really the project itself—that's going to come up in the conference tomorrow. Ten o'clock sharp; a new client's coming in with a big issue, and these are the preliminary summaries and stuff." She said. "Remember, ten o'clock. Be there! You guys are my best programmers."

With that, she walked away, leaving a rather confused trio behind her.

Shinji read the words off the title page. "'Project E'?"

Toji leafed through it loosely. "What da hell is dis?"

Kensuke threw his binder on the desk. "I dunno. Probably some government thing. We'll find out tomorrow."