A/N: Okay! So I'm back and I've come with an Evangelion fic this time. My very first one in fact! Oh god, my LH are probably going to lynch me fore doing an EVA fic and not continuing the ones they wanted but I've been wanting to do one for a while and I finally managed to scrounge up motivation to do so! Now, hopefully the normal EVA readers won't flame me too badly. Which is kind of ironic considering the name of this fic. No, that was not a poorly addressed pun; I'm seriously worried I'll get flamed. Anyway, this fanfic is actually based off an original I'm making with the same plotline minus the EVA's (you'll get the idea s you read.) Anyway, hope you enjoy the first chapter and see you at the end!

Disclaimer: I do not Evangelion or any of its components, characters, or technologies. 'Cause if I did, I'd use EVA 01 to take over the world! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!! (deep breath) Er…disregard that last part.

Inferno
By Yamiga'sLight
Chapter 1: Spark

The wind howled ferociously, hunting down whatever creatures it could find to batter at them mercilessly with its horrible grasp. It tore up ice and snow from the frozen wasteland that spread out for eternity, whipping the iced particles back and forth, bashing anything that might have survived the sub-zero temperatures. The sky was dark and foreboding, as if it a dome had covered the surroundings, letting nothing in and nothing out but air and the chill it carried.

The research facility had the same atmosphere as that of a ghost town. The zephyr blasted past the metal walls, banging and clanging like some mechanical specter. However, there were no responses to the clatter. It seemed as though nary a soul was alive within the entire establishment. The only signs of life were a few lights that shone in the windows and one small area which contrasted the rest of the tundra environment.

The one area that was not touched by the harsh frost that encompassed everywhere else was located against one of the larger buildings at the edge of the facility. A small circle a couple meters in diameter had no snow, no ice, nothing that could associate with the rest of the plain. The second the freezing wind approached the space, it melted away and disappeared as though it was never there to begin with. The ground was wet, dirt sliding back and forth with ease thanks to the moisture. It was completely detached from the rest of the world, including the two small figures that inhabited it.

Two men stood inside the circle, clothed in heavy, dense apparel. Both had their hoods back, revealing their faces. One was a man of Japanese descent, his narrow face, black hair, and brown eyes grimaced in pain. The reason for this was due to the fact that the other man, his blue eyes and blonde hair attesting to his English heritage, was holding the Japanese man up in the air by his throat, pinning him against the wall of the building and grinning madly as the other struggled to keep conscious, his feet swinging wildly to try and touch the ground. His smaller stature did not allow him the strength to break free, and all he could was try to loosen the English man's grasp on him. Both were sweating lightly, perspiration sliding down their faces.

The Japanese man opened his mouth, attempting to speak, his hands straining to pry the other's hands off. However, he was not able to and could only gasp as the hold tightened. The English man chuckled, his lips curled in a sadistic smile.

"What's wrong, Prometheus? I thought you would have been used to pain by now…"

"Epimetheus…" Prometheus's voice cracked. "Why…?"

The man's lips curled up further, his smile becoming more psychotic than sadistic. "The wheels on the bus go round and round Round and round Round and round The wheels on the bus go round and round All Through The Town" With every word he accentuated, his fingers dug more and more into Prometheus's throat. The man's eyes narrowed both from pleasure and the deep-seated spite that was always with him. "You like it?" he crooned. "It's a little song I learned from where I was born this time. It's just like our lives, isn't it, Prometheus? The wheels go round and round and round and round and round, just like this silly little game that we play. Tell me, Prometheus. For how long will we play this game? A century? A millennium? How about for all of eternity?"

"You…you know…" Prometheus coughed and rasped for breath. "You know that we must go through this. It is our curse for breaking the law of reality." He grunted when Epimetheus slammed him against the wall, his mouth gaping and a bit of blood spurting out from the rough handling of his throat.

"No, Prometheus…No." Epimetheus spat out. "This is not our curse, this is your curse. You brought the wrath of the gods upon us. You are the one who has dragged us through this torturous, living nightmare. It was all you, Prometheus…

"All You!" He flung the other man down upon the ground, planting a foot on his face and grinding him into the mud. "But now…now…" He burst out into sudden laughter. It was a twisted kind of mirth, one that bent the mind and pierced the ears of whoever could hear it. "But now I'll end all of it! This time, I'll be the one who gives the chaos to humanity. I'll be the one who'll bring death and misfortune to the inhabitants of this planet! I'll be the one who'll revel in the tormented cries of those who survive! And maybe…just maybe…" He bent over and whispered in Prometheus's ear. "Maybe this game will come to an end, and we will never have to play again…ever."

As Epimetheus spoke, Prometheus became more and more concerned over what he was planning to do. With each word spoken, he felt like something was gripping his heart tighter and tighter, a sense of foreboding like no other blanketing him in its ghastly veil. But when he mentioned that the game would be terminated, it was then that he fully realized just what would happen if Epimetheus's plans came to fruition.

"Epimetheus! No! You can't do that! There are too many innocent people! You ca-" He demands were interrupted when Epimetheus kicked his face, causing him to roll down the snow-covered plain, the frozen particles melting as rapidly as he approached. He coughed, splatters of blood erupting from his mouth, staining the ground an even darker color than it was before.

"I don't need your permission to do what I want. Besides…" His smile grew, the corners of his mouth reaching closer and closer to his ears, making him resemble a dahlia. "Whoever said that I directly would be causing it?"

"What are you…"

"You know what's happening over in the main research facility…That giant of light? They're supposed to be performing experiments on it right now, trying to explore it with that large weapon it appeared with. Now, I wonder…" He tapped his chin in pensive manner, the impression utterly obliterated by the frenzied look that still possessed his face. He did nothing for a few moments, trying to draw out the uncomfortable silence for as long as it was worth. The look of despair that was increasing in Prometheus's eyes upheld his hope. "Now what…Now what would happen if a tiny disturbance just happened to make them foul up their experimentation? I wonder what the result would be. Bad, do you think? What if the disturbance was…bigger?"

Prometheus's eyes widened in shock and terror. However, it was not for the fate that would collect him, his body, and his immortal soul. No, it was for the fate of those that were going to pay for his mistakes. They were going to pay the ultimate price. The outcome of his death would cause a horrible catastrophe all on its own. But to add in the unknown factor of that giant …Was Epimetheus really that determined to stop his fate, even at the expense of so many innocent bystanders? But how could he? How could he sacrifice people who had nothing to do with them, nothing to do with the conflict that existed between them and only them? It was unfair! It was cruel and it was unfair and it was…it was…

"It's not human!"

Epimetheus paused. His smile quivered before sinking into an expression of abject fury. His eyes widened, a fire burning in them, threatening to consume all that he was and all that who opposed him. His eyebrows arched, his lips curled downward, and his jaw set into a chagrined snarl. He kicked Prometheus again, careening him into the wall of the building on the opposite side of them. His body made a small dent in it, couple with a muffled thump.

"Well there's no worry then, is there! I don't have to worry about being human, do I, Prometheus? Do I!" he punted the grounded man again, not caring that the dent was now three times as big and caving inward. "Thanks to you, I never have to worry about trivial shit like that again!"

"P-please, Epimetheus…" Prometheus mumbled, his lips too swollen and his jaw too sore for him to speak properly. "D-don't…do it…Please…"

"Shush now…" The sickly sweet smile had found its way back on Epimetheus's face. And yet it still did not fit his face. His eyes. His eyes were still smoldering, still threatening to extinguish any that stood in its way. That fire burned, leaving nothing but madness and ashes in its destructive wake. "Just be content with the fact that it will all be over soon." He gently traced the side of his face as if he were a pet, his fingertips gliding yet never truly touching. Epimetheus's eyes suddenly opened as he remembered. "Oh! Silly me!" he laughed. "I almost forgot to tell you…That giant of light. Did you feel anything…familiar about it?"

"Familiar? What…"

"Oh, come now, come now!" He smacked Prometheus lightly on the head. "Surely you felt as if you had known it, maybe from some time long ago?" When he did not answer, Epimetheus simply sighed. "Ah well, if you don't really remember then it's truly a pity. I was hoping you'd realize you had met an old friend before you had to leave. Ah, it's really too bad…" He removed the glove from his hand, and placed his digits straight onto Prometheus's face. "Well then…shall we begin?"

All the while, Prometheus's mind was in a state of turmoil. Both the physical injuries that had accumulated and the seemingly senseless questions that Epimetheus was throwing into his face were making his thought processes erratic and disjointed. What was going to happen to him? More importantly, what was going to happen to everyone else at the facility? Was Epimetheus going to just toss their lives to the wayside? Could he really be that heartless? How could it have come to this point?

He thought back to when it all started, to when the riddle in the middle of the mystery wrapped up in the enigma was finally uncovered…and the world was plunged into the darkness of the abyss because of it. And it was all because of him, all because of him and his innate curiosity. Prometheus never imagines that his tinkering would bring about such an apocalyptic conclusion. He had simply wanted to know more about the world and all that it consisted of. And now…now look what he had reduced it to – just something that was on the wrong list created by selfish reasons.

His mind skipped, relating back to what Epimetheus had just told him. Someone that he knew? Someone he had been with a long time ago? He tried to recall his feelings from when he first laid eyes on the being. What was it that he experienced? A sense of nostalgia, of sweet, bitter melancholy, of warmth, of closeness, of laughter…and of horrible, terrible betrayal. What was it that invokes such emotions? Who could have possibly made him feel so strongly connected of anyone he had ever met before?

And then it hit him. One of the people who had been alongside him since the origin of the nightmare, since the start of the insanity. One of the individuals, who he had placed a horrible blight upon…

But then…the change came.

He could feel his insides growing warmer. He could feel his skin begin to peel. He could feel the life-giving fluid begin to boil and rupture the pathways in his body. At that point he knew it was the end of all. At that moment, he knew that he was about to release a new pestilence upon the world. And yet, all he could do was speak the half-made name that hovered on his lips and had caught itself on the tip of his tongue.

"Ad-"

A bright light and a great source of heat engulfed the two men. It streaked in all directions, crushing the ground and swallowing all of the air into its gaping maws. It scorched its way along the buildings' walls, melting and destroying the atomic structure of all that came in contact with it. It zoomed in on the research facility, crashing through the windows and consuming the scientists who were occupying it. They didn't even have the chance to scream their death cry before the fire stole their breath and reduced their bodies to cinders. It twisted, spun, and leapt as it focused in on its target.

The flame touched the light, and their warmth mingled and merged until the two were one and there was no separate being and no individuality. All was nothing, nothing was everything, and everything burned to oblivion. There was a flash, a shockwave, a ball of fire, a feeling of fulfillment and sorrow and deep, deep hatred, and all sank into the void.

The impact devoured the world.

IIIII

The air was humid and thick. It crowded around the skin, making one feel like some unknown entity was crushing itself against them. The sky was open and clear, not a cloud marring the perfect blue scene that stretched as far as the eye could see. The moon could visibly be seen from the ground, caught in its waxing phase, the imperfect shape infinitely close to its symmetrical beauty. The city was quiet and calm, tranquility abound. But still, it was like the calm before the storm, only lulling the victims into a false state of security before ultimately lashing them down and thrashing them with reckless abandonment. The only notion of a disturbance was a muted warning, ordering inhabitants of various prefectures to evacuate to their respective shelters. Even though the volume of the noise was large itself, it seemed to be reduced to nothing due to the gravity of the feelings circulating throughout the abandoned city.

The wind blew carelessly, languidly. It picked up random bits of trash and rubbish, and twirled them along the ground. They skipped about the empty streets, finding no obstacle in their path and nothing to stop their carefree travel through the city. Eventually, one small scrap of paper trapped itself on the pant legs of a young boy. The youth waggled his leg accordingly, his attention focused on the machine before him.

Shinji absently listened to the disconnected signal played by the phone. Its incessant and numbing tone bore into his brain. Finally it picked up. His eyes widened in anticipation as he waited for the woman's voice to respond. It did, but it was no the one he was expecting.

"We're sorry. Due to special circumstances, all lines are currently unavailable."

The message played a few more times. He sighed before hanging up. This was certainly a problem. How was he supposed to contact the person picking him up if the phone lines weren't even up and running? He checked his watched for the umpteenth time in the past hour. Once again, the hands of the analog clock confirmed that his escort was late. By this point, the teenager was beginning to become miffed. Shinji fished around his pocket before pulling out a photograph, a light blush involuntarily filling his face as he looked.

A quite beautiful, young lady with purple hair and dressed in light, skimpy summer clothing was bending over in the photo, giving an unblocked and rather provocative view of her assets. Scribbled in sloppy handwriting, an arrow pointed to the valley created by the freedom from her lack of a bra with the words, "look at this!" Shinji grumbled softly, annoyed that his blush still hadn't receded but also from the sheer audacity the woman showed.

She really has changed these past fourteen years, hasn't she? Who would believe that the little girl who was always so quiet and taciturn would turn into such, well, for lack of a better term, a flirt? And to act such around a boy his age, was she really the same girl that he once knew? He still remembered the first they met, how she had shyly hid behind her father, a not afraid but somewhat uneasy expression occupying her features. This itself was odd considering her relationship to the estranged family member but he supposed she still preferred someone known than someone not. Shinji fiddled with the photo, dexterously turning it over and over again between his fingers before returning it to his pocket. Then again, anyone would be different after the incident, great a tragedy as it was. He had certainly changed. Though that much was a given considering his unique circumstances.

He was always changing…

How many times had he gone through these motions? How many more times would he have to play this part? Till the end of time? Or maybe the cycle would be broken long before that…He could only hope. This never-ending circle brought nothing but misery and misfortune to those that associated with him. And he was always at the center of it, always the nexus of calamity that came with the point of him being who he was. Was he the pitiful Morningstar, fallen from heaven's grace to rain despair on the land? Or was he Hercules, bound in this mortal shell to bring justice to those that wronged others?

No, he was something far more sinister and haunting, the very epitome of chaos and madness. He was a being who brought death onto the world but also the dream that it might become a utopia like the Garden of Eden, overflowing with nectar and ambrosia.

He was vexing, hopeful, distressed, enraged, grave, joyful. He was all these conflicting emotions and more. And all he had to believe, all he had to thank for this paradox of sentiments was himself and his stupid ideals.

His thoughts circling the past, Shinji came to dwell on the reason for why he was in the city of Tokyo-3 in the first place. Why had his father called and arranged for him to arrive so suddenly? He had been living with his teacher up to this point with not even a mote of recognition of existence from Gendo. So what could possible explain the sudden interest in him? His father had thrown him away like he was nothing and now expected him to return without any kind of reconciliation. Or maybe that was the point of the visit.

Shinji shook his head. He doubted it. From what he could remember of his father from his childhood, Gendo was not the type of person to act sentimental or care for familial values. That was his mother's field…

His mother…Yui Ikari was-

He blinked. Shinji turned around, having the sudden feeling that someone was watching him. As he finished revolving, his eyes came upon one of the oddest scenes. Across the street from him was a young girl around his age. Her school uniform's skirt blew in the breeze, rising dangerously high but just missing. This enticing motion was not what caught Shinji's eyes though. The girl's hair and eye color was simply unimaginable and impossible from a genetic standpoint.

The red pigment enveloping her irises reminded Shinji of the deep, dark crimson associated with blood. It contrasted the snow-blue color of her hair, which seemed to both repel and blend in with her surroundings. Her face was soft and without edge, a sense of maturity imbued in her without treading too far into adulthood to distort her features. Her pale skin reflected the sunlight, causing an aura to surround her. The girl was too ephemeral, too perfect. She was a being that was caught between the world of tangibility and intangibility. One of her feet was lodged in the physical realm allowing the unworthy mortals to gaze upon her, but her simple beauty made it all too clear that she was not of this material space. Shinji rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn't hallucinating. When he opened them again, the girl had disappeared.

He sighed again. Then he really was just imagining things. He suspected as much. No human could have the stature that the girl had owned. Only a being from a higher plane could attest to such, only an angel…It was still odd though. The girl had been staring straight at him, as though her ruby-tainted eyes were trying to pierce right into his soul. Shinji could feel her gaze stripping away the walls around his heart, searching for something alien, so harsh and cruel. Those eyes seemed so very familiar to him. Perhaps it was the descendant from one of his…

His thoughts were cut short when a large explosion tore through the initially silent sky. Shinji clapped his hands over his ears, trying to block out the resounding noise. He stumbled when the ground shook, threatening to tumble him over like a cheap bowling pin. Regaining his balance, he glanced over at the origin of the sound. It was one of the most shocking sights of his life.

Several military-issue VTOLs flew into view after passing by the hillside. They flew with a definite purpose, but it appeared that they were fleeing from that purpose rather than heading towards it. Shinji's guess was confirmed a few seconds later. Appearing as if out of nowhere, a large, bulky giant lumbered by the hillside as well. It was humanoid in form, its head displaced in its chest, with a mask-like face that reminded Shinji of an insect. Was this the Angel the earlier warnings had been calling about? And why did he feel like he had seen something like it before?

The creature paused in its ambling, ignoring the military machines and turning in Shinji's general direction. Its face turned to the side like a wheel, its eyes blinking slowly, lethargically. Shinji suddenly started to hear something. It was like the chattering of a thousand cicadas. But it was not coming from without since the disappearance of Japan's cicadas due to Second Impact that still hadn't been resolved attested to that. It came directly from inside his mind. He pushed his fingers into his ears, trying to negate the ceaseless cacophony. It felt like something was eating away at his brain, like some parasite was slowly crawling through his psyche. And then, he heard it.

..ro…us…ro…us…

The chattering had started to become clear, something tangible. Shinji felt his stomach drop. He didn't know why, but understanding the foreign voice was something that was quickly becoming unsettling for him. He wanted to stop. He didn't want to hear what was to be said!

His wish was granted when a volley of missiles and gunfire rammed their way into the creature. The explosions were grand and numerous. It was all but certain that the entity had been immobilized. But when the smoke cleared and visual recognition was confirmed, the creature was still standing there without a scratch on it. Its organic composition held no indication that it had been harmed in any way. It turned, its thought processes wondering why such inferior beings were trying to stop it from achieving its goal.

It raised its hand slowly, pointing it at one of the VTOLs. A thin beam of light burst from its wrist, lancing the flying vehicle straight through and making it careen to the ground. The explosion caused a shockwave, a blast of hot air expanding like ripples in a pond. Shinji didn't even notice when it whipped around him; his attention was too utterly focused on the creature. How did it produce such an attack? The only beings capable of emitting such raw power were…

Deciding to finish the mundane act, the creature propelled itself off the ground and landed on the VTOL, unleashing whatever combustible fuel that remained inside of it. The fire licked its way towards Shinji, intent on consuming its source of life. Shinji just stood there, waiting for what was inevitable. He knew what would happen, and there was no point in denying it.

He…

IIIII

The Renault Alpine A310 accelerated through the city, taking the corners at speeds far higher than intended for street usage. This was emphasized by the several dents in the grill caused by crashing through various road signs. However, the driver of the car had no time to worry about a little collateral damage. She had much more important things to worry about.

Like finding the young boy who could very well be the savior of the human race…

Misato bore her teeth as she blasted through another red light. Why the hell did this city have to be so complicated! She could have sworn that she passed the same parking lot three times already! Even the navigational system she had installed into her car was barely any help at all. She knew the designs of the city were supposed to be more convenient for NERV's requirements than for Tokyo-3's civilians but that didn't exactly help her current task at the moment!

Her brown eyes narrowed in aggravation. "Damn it, where's that blasted street…Ah! There!" She spun the steering wheel harshly, almost causing the car to tip over from the steep angle. It fell back into place, jostling her from her seat and riding her short, black dress up uncomfortably.

As she gripped the wheel tighter and slipped back into place, her mind wandered away from her driving skills to the file of the Third Child. The only facts released about him that hadn't either been censored or put under a higher clearance level was his name, that he was the son of the leader of NERV, that he had been previously lodging with one of his teachers, and some other trivial things. That and he seemed to be quite cute for his age if the picture attached to his file was anything to base off of.

She pinched the bridge of her nose to try and relive some the pressure building in her sinuses. Her head ached from both the lack of sleep and the large amount of alcohol she had imbibed the night before, the former likely being the result of the latter. This was not turning out to be a good day for her. Because she didn't get to sleep until about three that same morning, the gremlins were playing bongos with her skull. Even though she did wake up in time, Misato wasn't in any kind of shape to try and drive. She did wait a little while before attempting to go but it was obviously clear that she was nowhere near sober and/or conscious enough to operate the vehicle.

A sign signaling for her to yield to oncoming traffic bounced across her windshield. That was, what, the sixth one? Misato chose to ignore the escalating scale of property damage. If what she thought was going to happen was going to happen, then she wouldn't have to worry about a few missing signs. No, there'd be a lot more things to worry about – say the size of a building.

Just like the Angel that was about to step on the Third Child…

"Wait! What!" Misato slammed the gas pedal to the ground, accelerating the car even faster than it had been already. She watched as the VTOL exploded, the fire ready to engulf the young boy. Steeling herself, she spun the steering wheel wildly, causing the car to spin in circles before landing right between the flames and the boy, the steel frame preventing them from approaching any further. She opened the passenger door and glanced at the Third Child, lowering her sunglasses to get a better look. He just stared back with an emotionless expression, one that held neither fear nor surprise that would have been expected from one who had just gone through such a situation. "I'm sorry. Were you waiting long?" she asked cheekily, hoping to alleviate the tense atmosphere.

Shinji just blinked before shaking his head. He climbed into the car, giving a neutral look as he glanced the woman over. Yes, she had definitely changed a great deal.

Misato surprised him by suddenly shifting gears right as he closed the door. The car jerked backwards, and Shinji could hear a new salvo of missiles striking the humongous creature. Assuming the woman was trying to avoid falling debris, he instinctively clutched his fist tighter. The air grew hotter and heavier. The wheels of the car pealed on the ground before catching stable friction and rushed away, narrowly escaping the chasing foot of the Angel. It wasn't followed as another barrage of ammunition distracted the Angel's attention.

Misato managed to put a fair amount of distance between them and the battle before hitting the brakes and climbing over to the passenger's side. Shinji said nothing as she crawled over him, too focused on the possible connections between him and that monster to notice something of particular interest to someone his age and gender. Misato pulled out a pair of binoculars and zoomed in on the Angel and VTOLs, which were half hidden by the hillside. Suddenly, the machines scattered like cockroaches to light. Bewildered by what could cause such an order, her eyes widened in terror at the possibility.

"Hey, wait a second. They're going to use an N2 mine!"

She pushed herself back into the car, throwing herself on Shinji and covering him with her own body. "Get down!" He listened obediently, closing his eyes when the embarrassment of their positions hit him. However, this was no time to feel embarrassed. He gritted his teeth in exertion. Misato yelped quietly when she brushed her hand against what she thought was the cigarette lighter, burning a small portion of her index finger. She thought she had it plugged in…

Her thoughts were shattered when the N2 mine was released, the force of the explosion throwing dirt and rocks into the wind. But it hardly seemed to affect her car as the vehicle simply rocked to one side, the wheels lifting a bit off the ground. The heat was unbearable, though, as it felt like she had suddenly trapped herself in a sauna. The heat gradually dissipated, and Misato poked her head up to look out the window.

The entire plain had been smoothed over. No rocks were visible, but a strange patter was located between the Renault and where the N2 mine had been dropped. A fan of sand weaved itself around the car, and a thin line that outlined it seemed much smoother and shinier in proportion to the rest of the surroundings. Misato stared at the pattern, wondering what could have created it. The N2 mine wasn't capable of such precise shapes so what…? She sunk back into her thoughts.

Shinji sat in his seat, a frown adorning his face. Something had begun. He didn't know what and he didn't know what would come of it, but he realized that something was definitely changing. And there was one other thing that he knew from it all.

Whatever it was, he was going to be at the center of it very soon…just like he always was.

IIIII

"The target is still operational. It is still headed for Tokyo-3."

"The Air Defense Force doesn't have the firepower to stop it!"

Deep within the ground of Tokyo-3, people's voices announced the status of the situation. They echoed in the metallic control center of NERV, which was currently occupied by various employees ranging from high to low ranking. However, they were not in control of the situation. That honor was granted to the three generals that sat at the long desk in the center of the room, being given a clear view at the monitor. However, the view was something they were not enjoying, as it showed nothing but the systematic destruction of their troops at the hand of what looked like an overgrown bargain-bin doll. That did not deter them from barking out orders, but it did help to sow the fear of death into their hearts a little bit at a time.

"Hit it with everything we've got! Mobilize all the units from Atsugi and scramble the squadrons from Iruma!"

"Forget about the budget! Destroy that thing at all costs!"

Their bodies tensed with anger and frustration. The general on the left end of the table grasped his hand so tight, the pencil he was attempting to take notes with snapped clean in half, clattering onto the table and off of it to the ground. It laid there, its graphite shattered and spilt into a multitude of pieces, much like the military force that was trying to take down a creature that simply did not want to go down or even take any damage.

A man looked at them from behind, sitting at a desk that was raised slightly above the generals, giving him better clearance of sight on the rest of the room. A smile threatened to escape from the corner of his mouth as he witnessed them doing their best to delay the inevitable. The fools had no chance of defeating a creature that was invulnerable to most human means. Still, it was enjoyable to see their egos take a sound beating. His thoughts were confirmed even further by the image being shown on the main screen from the live feed.

One of the VTOLs had just released a large-scale missile on the Angel, one that could destroy a battalion of tanks easily, which ironically had happened just a few minutes ago. However, the angel simply raised its arm at the weapon as though it was just catching a ball lobbed at it. The missile crashed into its open palm, splitting down the middle to the engine like it had been cut and peeled. The missile exploded, knocking the Angel's head back. When the feed managed to catch it again, it did nothing but stare back, not a smudge on it.

"Why? That was a direct hit!" The general yelled in annoyance. He slammed his fist on the table, dislodging a few cigarette butts from the tray.

"The tank battalion has been annihilated." His associate leaned back in his seat, a look of encroaching defeat appearing on his face. "Guided missiles and artillery have no effect on it either."

"Damn it! We gave it everything we've got, and we're not even touching it!"

It seemed as though nothing would stop the horrible monster approaching them…

"Is it protected by an AT Field?"

Gendo Ikari, commander of NERV, said and did nothing for a moment. He murmured a response back to his second-in-command, who had been standing silently behind and to the side of him since the generals had taken over.

"Yes. Conventional weapons have no effect on the Angels." His attention was caught by an electronic ringing. Glancing downward, he saw one of the military men swipe a card through the slot of the red phone that connected directly to the higher-ups of Japan. The man picked the phone up and nodded once, his face tightening up.

"Yes sir, I understand. We'll execute the plan at once."

Fuyutsuki shivered as he watched his commanding officer break a small, sadistic smile. Sometimes he wondered just what was going through that man's mind. He shivered again. Never mind, he never wanted to find that out. His thoughts were broken when the Angel suddenly erupted into a sea of explosions. The N2 mind had hit its mark.

The generals broke out into cheers, now completely certain that the Angel had been obliterated. After all, not many creatures could survive a nuclear blast; why should this one be exempt from the laws of physics. One absently mocked Gendo and Fuyutsuki like he was talking to a child that would not get his chance to whack the piñata since its glorious candy insides had already tumbled out. Gendo did nothing, and Fuyutsuki merely shifted his position, his posture becoming more lax. They would get their turn. Fate and irony had a unique way of biting a person in the ass when they least wanted or expected it.

"Shockwave approaching."

The EMP from the bomb finally swept itself to the sensors, knocking the feed out. The screen dissolved into electronic snow. However, right before this happened, a small blip appeared on the screen. It was small, only the power and size of a C4 explosion. No one took notice of it. It disappeared along with the rest of the feed, and no one was the wiser. They should have been. It would have saved them a great deal of time and trouble in the upcoming trials.

The control remained quiet, tension still thick in the air. It never hurt to be cautious about such matters, as people who charged recklessly ahead usually never got very far before having their brains blown out, metaphorically speaking. Finally, one of the generals broke the overbearing silence.

"What is the target's status?"

"We're unable to confirm due to all the EMP interference."

"It must have been finished. You saw the size of the explosion."

"Sensors restored."

The screen popped up, a crude rendition of the area appearing. Lines veered back and forth to the give the illusion of the landscape, which was currently sporting a lake-sized crater in the middle of it. Nothing else seemed to be there, no other signs of life existed.

At least for three seconds after it came up.

"We've got an energy reading at the explosion's epicenter!"

A spike suddenly appeared in the middle of the crater. It jutted upward, an ugly anomaly in the otherwise simple and clean screen. Of course, this ugly anomaly was only a small aspect of the even greater monstrosity that had given birth to it. It shot farther up, mocking the beings that had assumed they could be rid of it so easily. Such foolish animals…

"It can't be!" The general's outraged cry rang throughout the room. His plea went unanswered, unfulfilled, and utterly mocked.

"Visual display restored."

The video feed came back on, revealing the abomination that was supposed to have been destroyed standing proudly. The rest of the area was bathed in flames, giving the effect that creature had tamed the very power of fire itself. However, it did not seem that the Angel had gone without some kind of effect. Its shoulders had opened, exposing gills that were similar to those of a fish. They flapped up and down, forcing whatever it was that the creature needed in and whatever it didn't out. In its chest, its insect mask had been joined by another, the second oozing its chest like a cicada from its waxy prison.

"That was our last resort."

"No effect at all."

"It's a God damned demon!"

Fuyutsuki took no heed in the generals' lamenting. Instead, he focused his attention solely on the enemy that stared back at them with cruel indifference. Its skin could clearly be seen flowing over itself, rushing to the parts that were more damaged than others, fixing itself in a never-ending cycle of harm and recovery. He set his jaw grimly. "As we predicted, it is regenerating itself."

Gendo lifted his mouth from his clasped hands. His glasses were just at the right angle for the light to shield his eyes from view, not allowing anyone to tell what he was thinking. "If it couldn't, it wouldn't be a practical autonomous invasion weapon."

The Angel craned its head up, staring straight into the video feed that was occupying one of the VTOLs. Its eyes flashed, and the feed died, confirming the fact that it had just been shot down and destroyed. The rest of the room gasped in surprise. Fuyutsuski and Gendo held no surprise or shock in their thoughts.

Amusement slipping into his tone, Fuyutsuki glanced over at Gendo. His lips were beginning to curl up. "Impressive, it appears it can even update its own operational functions,"

"And it's also getting smarter. It will renew its assault any moment now." His glasses reflected the feed recovering itself from the ground. The angel towered above it, enhancing the effect of its doom-bringing size.

By now, even the generals had realized that what they were doing was having little more effect than agitating the creatures. Bullets didn't work, missiles didn't work, even a Class S Weapon Strike had no damage on the damnable thing. As much at it hurt their pride to admit to it, they had to stop their assault and leave the fighting to someone that was better equipped and knowledgeable for this situation. After confirming with the higher-ups of what was going to pass, they called the NERV executives up in front of them. Gendo had an absolutely sickening smirk on his face, making the decision they were about to make even more humiliating. The general sighed quietly before replacing the phone back on its base and staring at the man that was going to be leading the crusade for humanity. God help them all…

"From this point forward, command of this operation will be entrusted to you. Show us that you are capable."

"Yes, sir."

He grimaced, steeling himself for the dishonor that he was about to plague upon himself and his country's military. "Mr. Ikari, we must admit that our weapons have no effect on the target." His eyes grew colder, sharper. He was not about to let this man take control if he did not have absolute certainty that it was a winning battle. "But, are you certain you can beat these things?"

Gendo pushed his glasses up. His smile grew larger behind his gloved hand. "It's what NERV was created for." His voice had gained a condescending tone.

The general's face sunk into a small snarl. How dare this man toy with them like this? No matter though; if he made one mistake, they would be back on him in an instant. This had turned into one giant waiting game. And he was sure they could be more patient. "We're all praying that you're correct."

The desk at which they sat began to sink into the ground. Their last vision before the floor closed over them was that of Gendo staring back, his smile never faltering. That smile would be burned upon their retinas, reminding them every time they closed their eyes of that madman that now held a great deal of power in the world. How…infuriating.

"The target is still stationary." Gendo heard one of the main bridge staff, Maya, report to him.

"Our current ability to intercept is only seven-point-five percent." She was soon followed by one of her co-workers, Makoto.

Fuytsuki turned to Gendo, his face reverted to one of seriousness. "Even the UN forces are exhausted, Ikari. What are you going to do?"

He did not even bother to turn around to answer. "I intend to activate Unit 01."

Fuyutsuki's eyebrow raised in surprise. "Unit 01?" His pitched had become higher, questioning his superior's plans. "But we have no pilot."

Gendo smiled. "That's not a problem." He chuckled softly to himself. "Another spare will be delivered soon."

IIIII

"You're Misato, right? Ah! I mean…" Shinji looked down and frowned, realizing he was being far too familiar with someone he had supposedly never met. It was rude in this culture to be on such a friendly basis with a stranger and some much older than him at that. "Miss Katsuragi."

Misato smiled. "You were right the first time. Just call me Misato." She took off her sunglasses and diverted her view from the road a bit to glance at him. "It's nice to finally meet you, Shinji Ikari."

"Ah…Yes, nice to meet you too." He looked away, his frown deepening.

I mean, nice too see you again.

Misato grew worried about the expression on his face. "Are you alright, Shinji?" She assumed that he was just beginning to realize the gravity of what had just happened. Between being almost crushed by a ten meter foot and blown up by a N2 mine, anyone would be frazzled and reflecting upon their own mortality, even someone at the tender age that Shinji was. However, it wasn't taken into account that Shinji had gone through these kinds of happenings a dozen times over. After all, who would?

Broken from his thoughts, Shinji jumped, something that Misato found adorable by the way his eyes suddenly widened and the seatbelt restrained him from falling out of his seat. He looked at her. Suddenly he found himself staring at a much younger version of the woman. Her large eyes reflected nothing, a dull shine gazing vacantly back at him. Her hair was stringy and brittle. Her skin was sallow. His brain twitched, and he managed to resist the impulse of grabbing his temple. The image melted away to be replaced by a Misato who was looking at him in both anxiety and concern. He smiled hesitantly. "It's nothing, just thinking." He didn't give her a chance to respond before turning back around and staring out the window.

What he had given as an explanation was necessarily a lie. He had been thinking, just not exactly what Misato had assumed he was. As he caught a glimpse of the Angel that was still being accosted by the leftover military forces, his mind began to reel in the possibilities of what was going to happen.

This…Angel, or what he assumed they called it, had just unexpectedly appeared out of nowhere and begun to attack the city. The country's defense had no effect on it, and it was clear that nothing was going to stop it until it reached its goal. That much the young boy was able to clearly ascertain. However, there were a few unknown factors. One was the Angel's goal itself. Why would it attack Tokyo-3? What purpose could it have to just lumber into a city, mindlessly bringing destruction along with it? And why did the city seemed so prepared? Had it been expecting the creature in advance? If so, how much did they know about it? The other was Shinji's connection to the monster. Ever since he first laid eyes on it, he had the niggling feeling that he met it somewhere before. Something that had brought misery to others…And there was also the voice he heard in his head. It was familiar, haunting…What was…

His eyes opened. No, it couldn't be. He couldn't believe that creature was connected to…

While Shinji was trapped in his thoughts, Misato took the chance to call up NERV and confirm the collection of the Third Child. After ordering that one of the car trains be prepared for their arrival, she hung the phone back up. She rubbed her eyes tiredly. It was one thing after another today. She could only hope that all the trouble everyone was going through would accumulate into something helpful. She took another glance at Shinji. He was still staring out the window, chewing on his bottom lip with a grim look on his face. As she watched, his lips split from the abuse and began to bleed. He didn't even notice. She did however.

"Shinji! Your lip!"

"Wah?" He looked at her. She motioned towards her mouth. He placed the back of his hand against his then took it away, a small dribble left on it. He stared at it blankly, without care or worry. Misato became uncomfortable with his expression. It was like he had no emotions over the sight of blood. His face broke and he hurriedly wiped the rest of the blood off. He smiled hopelessly and shrugged. "Sorry."

She shook her head. "It's okay."

The two remained silent the rest of the trip. Shinji sunk back into the world of his thoughts as the sky was blocked when the car entered the tunnel. Misato spared only one more glance at him before giving her full attention to driving. When they came upon the gate to the entrance of NERV, she flashed her card for the reader to see. The gate smoothly opened, and she drove the vehicle into its open maw. A red light flashed on as a pre-recorded voice ordered the visitors to be careful when entering. Misato released her grasp on the wheel and turned to face Shinji. "Welcome to NERV, Shinji – a secret organization under the control of the UN."

"And this is where my father works, right?" He still hadn't moved from his position, staring at the blank, metallic wall that shined with a red hue. A sense of déjà vu washed over him.

"Yes," she replied. Trying to get more out of her current ward, she prodded him with a question. "Do you know what he does?"

"Playing with things not meant for human use? Or trying to find a way to become a god?"

Misato blinked. This was not the type of answer she was expecting. His tone was bitter, spiteful. But it did not seem he was directing that anger at his father. Rather, his voice was low, alluding to the idea that the person he was attacking was someone far more personal. "Shinji?"

"It's a sad fact of humanity, Misato. We often tinker with things that shouldn't be touched in the first place. And all too often the result is something far worse than what we assume it to be." He looked up at her, his eyes closed, a rueful smile adorning his features. "But maybe I'm just being pessimistic. I'm sure he's doing something that will help all of us." His smile grew strained. "Right?"

"R-right." She stuttered, not used to such a heavy atmosphere with such a young child. Shinji was exuding an aura of a terribly anxious individual, and even she could feel the sadness that seemed to come from him. What had happened to this boy that would make him so… wretchedly wise? His words held wisdom, but they appeared to come at some great price. Once again silence took back its iron grasp on them, and the nothing could be heard except the muted clanging of the car train making its way further down into the ground.

After a while, the shadows fled when a light flooded the surroundings with bright abandonment. Shinji's eyes widened with delight as he pressed his hands against the window, taking in the scene that stretched out before him. A large caved-out area laid as far as he could see, a pyramid-like building located in the center of it all. "Amazing," he whispered in reverie. "An actual geofront…"

At least something right is going on…

Misato smiled.

IIIII

Misato was not smiling.

Just like before when she was trying to find Shinji, she now found herself utterly lost within the confines of NERV headquarters. Scrutinizing the map in her hands, she came to the conclusion that it was the primary purpose of the building to get her confused and bewildered as much as possible. The door in front of them opened, a rush of breeze flapping her skirt and forcing her to push it back down. And embarrassed. She couldn't forget that emotion. She took a break from trying to stare the map into submission to check on how Shinji was doing. He currently had his nose buried in a NERV manual she had given to him earlier. She scratched her head in embarrassment. "Sorry, I'm not quite used to this place yet."

He didn't release the book from his gaze as he spoke. "I think we passed this way already. The breeze feels familiar."

Blushing for entirely different reasons, Misato unconsciously patted her skirt. "Don't worry about it," she laughed. "I'm sure we'll find our way to the elevator sooner or later. And besides, these systems were meant to be used." She didn't dare mention that they were currently walking in an area strictly meant for descent into the deeper parts of NERV. She was sure they didn't need to get in even more trouble than they already were. Not to say that were into trouble, that is. They were just a little late; really. "Where is Ritsuko when you need her?" She blinked when she realized that Shinji was suddenly not in her sight anymore. "Shinji?" Her voice began to rise in alarm.

"Over here, Misato!"

She turned a corner and found him standing like he had done nothing. "Why did you go off like that? I'm trying to find…the…elevators…" Her sentence trailed off when she saw what she had been searching for staring her right in the face. Her face formed into a pout, and she poked Shinji in the shoulder. "But still, you shouldn't have wandered off like that. I could've gotten into a lot of trouble.

He mumbled a reply in the affirmative and stepped into the elevator that had just opened. He still hadn't dug his nose out of the book. Misato's pout deepened, and she followed him into it as well. She couldn't help but feel a little infuriated at the nonchalant attitude he was giving her. He seemed to jump from one emotion to another without any warning. How was she supposed to deal with that? Still, he was rather polite and quiet, so she supposed she could forgive him for his faults. However, someone wasn't so forgiving when it came to hers.

The door chimed and opened, and Misato's pout changed into a nervous smile at the person that had appeared behind the doors. A young woman with dyed-blonde hair in a swimsuit and lab coat stepped into the elevator, forcing her to back up and allow her room. "Um, hiya, Ritsuko," she said in a childish tone to try and placate her associate.

However, the kind doctor had no time for such antics. Her face was stern, and when she talked, it came with a verbal whip. "What are you wasting my time, Captain Katsuragi? Aren't you aware that we're short on both time and manpower?"

Misato bowed, held a hand out, and closed one eye in an immature fashion. "Sorry!"

Ritsuko sighed. She really did not have the time for this…Turning her head away from the captain with the uncertain mental age, she looked at Shinji. "Is this the boy?"

"Yes. According to the Marduk Report, this is the Third Child."

Ritsuko smiled at him, attempting to make a good first impression. After all, if what he came for was successful, they would be working together for a rather long time. "It's nice to meet you."

By now, Shinji had finished the book and was paying attention to the women's conversation. When he realized that it had shifted to him, he replied in turn. "It's nice to meet you, too." He tried for a smile as well, but it ended up as a rueful grimace. It wasn't exactly easy for him to act so friendly when he had been thinking about such things.

The conversation between them dispersed when the elevator jerked, signaling their arrival at the designated floor. Shinji wasted no time in leaving, wary of having to talk any further. He did not want to become too easily acquainted with these people. It would only lead to suffering for all of them. Misato and Ritsuko followed, deciding to ignore his strange behavior to continue talking with each other about what was about to come. Shinj tuned both of them out, intent on finding out the threads of fate that connected all of them together.

This Angel was just like back then, which meant that it was just like him. He was just like the Angel that was threatening the ultimate pestilence. And he was the one that was the key to the calamity that occurred. But if that was the case, where was the person that was chasing after him. Was he the catalyst that had brought this monstrosity upon them. Was he searching for him, was that why the voice in his head knew him? If so, then that meant that everything was about to come tumbling down even more harshly than it had done before. And all that was needed to complete this transaction was him, the person that he had betrayed before…

His vision went dark. Shinji blinked when he realized that he had been escorted to a platform over something that he thought to be a liquid of some kid. But what was he supposed to be doing th- The lights came back on, and he found himself staring into the giant, purple, metallic face. His eyes shot wide open, and his lips began to tremble at the sight.

Ritsuko looked at him, her eyes glittering with amusement at his shell-shocked features. "Surprised? You won't find this in the manual." She motioned at the giant robot. "This is mankind's ultimate humanoid robot, the first battle unit named…"

The name tumbled from his lips. "Adam…"

Ritsuko jumped at his conclusion. "What…!" Her eyes widened, even more than Shinji's had. "How…how do you know that name? How!" She took a step towards him.

Misato grew worried at her friend's reaction. "Ritsuko, what's wrong? What are you talking about? Who's Adam?"

"No, not Adam…You're…" He grunted. Shinji's eyes snapped shut and he clutched his temples. The rest of the world was dissolving around him. Ritsuko's questions didn't reach him. Misato's concerns did not touch him. All that mattered was him and this giant was digging up memories that he thought he had buried. But then, he could never forget such memories. He would never be allowed to. The world grew black and silent, and a sea of images and senses pounded into him like the tide on the beach.

The smell of human blood and machine oil. His face pressed against the smooth, cool glass of the window. His mother's smile as she climbed into the cockpit. His father's grim expression as he watched her. The anticipation, the excitement, the intrigue. The blazing of the klaxon shrieking in his ears. The icy cold grasp of fear curling around his heart. The sound of his father's yelling. The hot tears that slid down his cheeks. The jolting of someone tearing him from the window's view. And his mother…mother…She was gone…gone…gone…She was gone and would never return. His cries had no effect. She was gone forever…

Shinji ground his teeth together as this wave of emotions brutally slammed its way into him. The voices of the women near him had become insect in nature – annoying, whiny, and so, so aggravating.

"Shut up…"

They did not heed his call and intensified. Shinji thought his ears would begin to bleed from their screechings.

"Shut up…"

They wouldn't stop. They couldn't stop. They won't stop until they received what they searching for and only then would they halt the torturous cacophony that pierced his eardrums.

"I said…SHUT UP!"

A blast of hot air erupted from the boy, swirling its way around the others and stopping them in their interrogation. He stood there, his chest heaving, his eyes bright and terrifying, his fists clenched and white at the knuckle. The air around him seemed to crackle with energy, and temperature in the room had jumped a few degrees. Both of the ladies looked at him, fear and shock growing in their souls.

"What…" Ritsuko swallowed, trying to rid the lump in her throat. "What are you?"

"He's the pilot for Evangelion Unit 01."

They all turned to find Gendo standing above them, behind a reinforced glass wall and gazing at them with a despicable smirk on his face. However, the smirk seemed fake, like he had plastered it on. Even he was shaken after observing what had just happened. His offspring had just displayed abnormal abilities. Surely this was a sign that nothing good was going to happen. Still, he had no choice. After bringing the boy all the way here, Shinji had to fulfill his duty and follow his father's orders. Those were the rules established for this game.

Unfortunately for Gendo, Shinji was forbidden to play by these rules.

Misato was the first to recover. "What do you mean?" she cried. "You can't be serious, commander! He has no training! It took Rei herself months before she could even move it. There's no chance he can pilot it!"

"This does not concern you, Captain Katsuragi," Gendo replied coldly. He pushed his glasses up, covering his eyes with his fingers. "Or do you wish to be escorted out of the room and into prison."

"But…!" She tried once again to find a way to rebuff his request. How could he send his own son to battle like this, to certain death? Did he have no paternal instincts? Did he think of Shinji as nothing more than a tool? "But, sir..!"

"Misato!" She stopped talking when Ritsuko reprimanded her. Holding her arm, she looked away and bit her lip. Ritsuko looked at Gendo. "Sir, he has knowledge of Adam. I don't think…"

"I am aware of this, Doctor Akagi," Gendo interrupted. "Unfortunately we do not have the time to worry about such matters. Interrogate him later if you wish but right now he must get into the EVA and fight."

"I refuse."

"What was that, Third Child?"

"You want me to pilot that thing and fight that creature, right?" Shinji looked at Gendo, his eyes shining fiercely. "I refuse. I do not want anymore people to die."

"If you do not pilot the EVA, many people will die."

"But if I pilot it, I might die!"

"That is of no consequence to me. Either you obey me and pilot the EVA, or you will be escorted out of NERV and we will have someone else pilot it."

"Shinji, we don't have anymore time," Ritsuko said.

Misato took a hold of his shoulders. "Shinji, you must get inside." As much as she hated this, she had to agree with Gendo and Ritsuko that they had no time left to dawdle about. Someone had to get in the EVA and fight the Angel, else there would be no hope left for humanity.

"No! This wasn't supposed to happen…this wasn't." Shinji shook in her grasp, his eyes burning and his hands gripping themselves even more tightly. His face was flushed and he was hot to touch. "Why did this have to happen now! It shouldn't be time yet…There should be more time!"

"Shinji!" Misato shook him roughly. "We can't wait any longer. You can't run away from this. You have to face this head on!"

"Why!" His voice shocked her. "Why do I have to face this head on! I've always been running away, as long as I remember. It doesn't matter for how long or for how far, I've always been running. And it always finds me. This terror always finds me. Why? Why! I won't do this anymore! I won't!"

The complex suddenly shook. It seemed as though the Angel had finally discovered its destination and was now rapt in getting to it. Time had run out.

Gendo frowned at his behavior. "Fuyutsuki." His subordinate appeared on one of the multiple screens to the right of him. "Wake up Rei."

"Can we still use her?"

"She isn't dead."

He said nothing for a moment then slowly nodded his head. "Understood."

The screen switched from visual to "Sound Only." Gendo waited to make sure he would be heard before saying anything. "Rei?"

A small, soft voice responded to his. "Yes?"

"Our spare is unusable. You will do it again."

"Yes."

Meanwhile, Ritsuko only took one last glance at Shinji before sneering. She had neither time nor the patience for someone that sniveled and whimpered. "Reconfigure Unit 01's system to Rei, then re-activate!" The crew responded that they would.

Shinji bowed his head. He knew what he was doing was cruel. Someone else was going to take his place. Someone else was going to risk their life so that others may live. But he couldn't be that self-sacrificing. He couldn't risk his life in such a reckless manner. As arrogant as it sounded, he was worth much more to the world alive than dead. If he died, so many people would fall into misery because of it. He just had to seal off his heart and allow the time to pass along, just like it always had.

His soul hated him for this.

The sound of hydraulic doors caught his attention. He veered his eyes to an oncoming gurney, several medical employees surrounding the lone body lying on it. As it passed him, his heart froze.

"You…"

Blue hair wrapped in bandages, one of her red eyes covered by a patch, her body littered with injuries and bindings, all stuffed into a skin-tight white suit. Shinji watched as the girl he had seen just a few hours before resembling a mummy. The gurney stopped, and she lifted herself from it. She paused every few inches, her body wracked with pain at the simplest and smallest of movements. Shinji felt sick to his stomach as he watched her try to move. Her movements were broken, erratic. There was no doubt in his mind that she was horrifically injured.

Was this the original pilot? Was this…Rei? How could Gendo be so cruel as to use someone in this condition? This cruelty reminded him of only one person, the only man brutal enough to sacrifice people for his own selfish means. His father so resembled…

The room shook again, much worse before. It appeared that the Angel was going to arrive much sooner that earlier expected. It sent with its greeting metallic death as the large lights that illuminated the complex lost their holding on the roof and came falling down. Shinji had little time to react, only one thought was on his mind.

"Look out!"

He shoved Misato to the side, bracing himself for the lights to hit. They never did. He looked up to see what had happened, only to have a large hand block the view above him. The EVA had ripped its arm from its restraints to protect the young boy from being crushed. However, Shinji didn't have the chance to relax. The lights that had been reflected by the hand had gone flying off in different directions. One smashed into the window looked through by Gendo, breaking into dozens of pieces. Most of the others either harmlessly fell into the bakelite surrounding the EVA or into the catwalks that were not occupied by the maintenance crew. But one other had found its way into a trajectory that would land directly on the blue-haired girl.

Time slowed down as Shinji watched it fall. It would kill that girl. He was going to see another person killed before his eyes. It was going to happen again, just like it always did. And there was nothing he could do about. All he could do was worry about himself and hope no other people would be hurt.

Not again…Not again…People hurt because of me again. People dying because of me again. It's my fault, it's my fault, it's all my fault! She's going to die, going to die, and it's all my fault…Not again…not again…not again…I don't care anymore, I just don't want it to happen again. I don't want to hurt, I don't want to kill…Not again…Not again…Not again…

NEVER AGAIN!

The air grew heavy with heat. Shinji's knuckles spilt with the tension in them. Blood flowed from them before immediately caking and hardening. He gritted his teeth, his clothes hovering in the air. His face was laced with fury, his eyes glowing red and golden. He shot up his hand, and opened up his fist into a palm. The temperature shot up into infinity.

A large ball of fire exploded above the gurney. The light fell into it, becoming incinerated within a matter of a second. The rest of the people in the room shielded their eyes from the sudden flare of light, and Shinji grasped the chance to sprint to where Rei lay on the floor, twitching sporadically as the pain consumed her. He picked her up, resting her head against his upraised knee. He held her, her quivering calming down as he did. She looked at him, her crimson eyes puzzled and confused. He looked back…

…and decided.

"Tell me how to pilot it."

IIIII

Water.

Shinji hated water, loathed it, feared it.

So when the entry plug of EVA began to fill with what he thought was water, he immediately panicked. The temperature rose and he nearly exploded the entry plug from the inside out if it weren't for Ritsuko ordering him to calm down and breathe normally. It had taken a few minutes for him to run out of stored air, but when he did he found that the doctor was right and that he could breathe as easily in this LCL stuff as he could if he were outside. He still hated it though. It made him feel weak, vulnerable. This was definitely not something he felt like feeling moments before going into battle. It was even worse that half of the NERV staff were fearful for their life because of him. It was as though a miniature version of the Angel attacking them had infiltrated their base – a spy. It had taken Gendo threatening to execute them for insubordination if they did not follow orders like usual.

Shinji shook his head. As much as he disliked certain things about his father, at least the man could prove he was in charge. He ignored the launching procedure that was being called out step-by-step and instead focused on the controls in front of him. He had no idea how to pilot this thing. When he said he would, they just shoved him inside after fastening something akin to a hairband to the top of his head. He fingered it. Ritsuko had explained that it was meant to monitor his brainwave activity and vital signs as well as "connect him to the Evangelion," whatever that meant.

His seat jerked, and a screen appeared in front of him. Misato spoke to him, her voice reassuring. "You ready, Shinji?"

He smiled weakly. "As much as I'll ever be."

"Right." She cut the transmission and glanced at the rest of the crew. They looked back, awaiting her orders. She set her jaw, planted her hands on the console, and took a deep breath. She opened her eyes. "Launch, EVA!"

The launcher shot upwards, carrying the organic giant through the series of tunnels that eventually led to city's streets. It jolted upon reaching the end, its head snapping up to face the Angel that walked its way to the end of the street facing it. Shinji finally saw an equal view of the Angel and not from that of an ant's perspective. The fear had come back a hundred-fold, but it was accompanied by a bittersweet taste of nostalgia. Shinji felt like he could cry.

"Remove the final safety lock! Evangelion Unit One, lift off!"

The harness that kept the EVA upright was unlocked. Unit 01 slumped slightly forward, like a puppet that had had some of his strings cut.

"Shinji, just concentrate on walking now."

He nodded slowly. "Walk…

The EVA's leg lifted, moved forward, and fell back down, the impact causing a small crater in the road and several fragile objects to shatter. The bridge burst into hushed gasps. Ritsuko looked at the synchronization rate they had obtained: 41.3. Maybe they did have a chance after all…

"Walk…"

The other leg moved and settled down before the first leg followed suit. However, it accidentally banged into the other leg, tangling the two together and causing the EVA to pitch forward. Its face bashed into the concrete, and Shinji grasp his face as the feedback registered itself. So this is what they meant by connecting to the EVA. He only hoped nothing else that involved pain would happen. His prays went about unanswered as Misato shouted for him to get up. He looked through the entry plug's screen, finding the angel had made its way to him. It stood there, a monument to his upcoming destruction.

One hand reached down and took a hold of the Evangelion's face, lifting it into the air. Shinji did nothing but stare, realizing that he was still too green to pilot the robot. And now the consequence would come.

The cicadas began to sound again, and Shinji covered his ears to block the noise. But it didn't work, the voice was coming; the voice with the message for him was arriving and there was nothing he could do to halt its arrival.

"Pro…

"Pro-me-the-us…

"Prometheus…die…"

Shinji's eyes burst open.

A lanky man walked in, his limbs too long for his body, his stature reminding them all of a scarecrow. He laughed congenially, a bright smile lighting up the room. He moved over to the table, donning his lab coat, his wild hair bouncing up and down. A hand on his shoulder, he looked behind him and, his grin growing wider, grabbed the offender and put him into a headlock, receiving the laughter of those that watched. Eventually he let go, the both of them breathing heavily from the battle between. He sniffed, rubbing his nose. Playfulness, capricious, kind, a goofball. He was eternal.

"Sachiel…"

"Perish for eternity, Prometheus."

The Angel's arms doubled in bulk, signaling a sudden increase in power. It grabbed the arm of Unit 01 and began to wrench and twist it from its socket, attempting to separate the two. Shinji grasped his arm, silent gasps escaping from his lips as the feedback screamed throughout his nerve endings. The bridge staff watched in futility as their only hope had his limbs yanked off one by one.

"Shinji! Don't worry! That's not your real arm! Concentrate!" Misato yelled, attempting to avert his attention away from the pain. It wasn't long before he had something take his mind away. Though to the rest of the crew, it was an exchange that none of them wished on him. Even if there was the possibility that he would possibly turn on them and slaughter them all. They still felt wary to just what Shinji was. After the incident in the hanger, everyone was on tiptoes. It was only enhanced by the fact that the Third Child was now calling the Angel by name.

A sickening crack echoed in the control center.

"Left arm damaged! The circuits have been severed!"

Shinji muffled a cry. He disregarded the pain and looked at the Angel, no…man, in front of him. "Sachiel…why are you doing this?"

He lifted the EVA off the ground. "Punishment."

"Punishment? But, Sachiel, I…" He was cut short as the elongated bone shard located in Sachiel's arm notched back, gained a purple glow, and jutted forward into the Evangelion's eye sensor. Shinji grasped at where the pain pulsed with each puncture, feeling like his corneas was bending inward and his retinas were burning. But this pain…this pain was nothing compared to before. This pain…was barely an itch to what his Awakening had been like. This pain…was merely a lovetap. But it was still pain, and pain still hurt.

Maya's fingers flew across the keyboard, taking in all of the data that rushed across the screen. "There's a crack on the front of the brain case!"

Ritsuko trembled at the sight before her. "The armor won't last much longer!"

The onslaught continued. With each hit, the cracks grew longer and larger. Shinji pleaded. "Sachiel, please! Don't do this! Don't become what they think of you, a monster!"

"Too…late…"

"Sachiel!"

The bone pierced through Unit 01's head, throwing the robot and slamming it into the building behind. The bone retreated, and the EVA's head tilted downward before a geyser of mechanical blood and lubricants burst from the dual openings. EVA 01 went silent.

A rush of damage report streamed through the bridge.

"The head has been damaged! Extent unknown!"

"The control nerves are breaking off!"

"We're not getting any readings on the pilot!"

Misato pounded on the communications switch. Even if he was a possible threat, he was still a child! He was still in danger! She had to do something! "Shinji!"

The inside of the plug was silent and dark. Whatever had been powering it had been cut off. Shinji could feel the warmth slip away and the chill move in. He kept one hand over his eye, the pain now dull but still noticeable. His mind was a series of snaps, twitches, and explosions.

What was he supposed to do? He couldn't move the EVA, he couldn't fight the Angel, he couldn't do anything, he couldn't protect anyone! He was going to die! He was going to die and bring the apocalypse along with him! He didn't want that! He didn't want that all at all! He had gotten into this abomination so that he could protect people, so that he could protect the ones that needed protection. Misato, Ritsuko, Rei, even his father; he needed to protect them all! So how could he, he couldn't, he needed…

"Someone help me…" he shivered. "Someone help me, please! I don't care who you are or how you do it but help me…I don't want to die, I don't want to bring harm to anymore people, so please…help me!"

A flash of light.

Shinji grasped his head, a sound like the cicadas but not like them growing in his mind. He was in an endless void, floating in a sea of nothingness that enveloped all and left nothing outside its grasp. He looked up, and noticed a lone figure off in the distance. It was faceless, and featureless, and little by little it made its way to him. He didn't know why but he felt at ease with this unknown entity. It grew closer and carefully raised its hands to Shinji, like it wanted to cradle him. He mimicked it and raised his as well.

Abruptly, a wall of flames sprung up between the two. Shinji flinched and backed away but the entity continued to trudge towards him. It passed through the flames, its structure crumbling apart as the flames licked at it.

"What are you doing!" he cried. How could it stand the pain and heat? These flames had formed a wall around his heart, burning him whenever he tried to get closer to another, reminding of the cross he bore and what it resulted in someone else's future. He couldn't stand these flames. They scalded and scorched and blackened him, and he was resistant to them. How could someone else even think to try and pass such a barrier? Who would put themselves through such anguish just for him? "Stop! You're hurting yourself! Stop it!"

What seemed like a gentle smile appeared on the figure's face. It took one last step forward and gathered Shinji into an embrace. Its charred body made him cry, but its soothing grip made him peaceful. Its warmth was something completely different from the fire that inhabited his body, and he wanted nothing more than sink into its grasp and stay there forever. But he couldn't, and he knew it.

"Yes…I understand. I finally understand all of it…mother."

The Angel loomed over EVA 01, reaching a hand out to finish what it had started. Sachiel would finally find the peace that he had forever been deprived of. However, before he even touched it, it happened.

Evangelion Unit 01, the final hope for the continued existence of human kind and the last defense against the terrible force known only as the Angels, burst into flames.

A/N: Well, that's the first chapter to my first EVA fanfic, Inferno. Hopefully you enjoyed, and hopefully I didn't spoil too much of the plot in this one chapter. I was wondering how and when I would first show Shinji's "powers" on purpose, but decided it would be too difficult to try and hide it for a later chapter. Expect much more fire and much more mysteries between Shinji and the Angels as time goes on. I can only hope you like what comes next as much as I like writing it. In any case, please review and remember, no flames!

Next Chapter: Kindling