Chapter 1: Weapon of Vanity
All of the sisters are restless. They move constantly, but with no apparent intentional end point in mind. None of them swim with any rational goal, at least without any that a fellow human would be able to make sense of.
Their movements are smooth and strangely practiced, unbecoming of their otherwise youthful appearance. It's like they're somehow older then their bodies show. Or like they've had to grow up much faster then normal children of their age. Being older then they appear, at least mentally, a watcher would expect them to act like adults. To have more control over their physical bodies than these girls seem to.
If you were to watch them, you might be able to eventually determine that the girls worry something important is about to happen. But only if you were trained in their unique body language.
Each one looks the same. The body of a baby, a blank facial expression, skin paler than that of a normal infant, a pair of crimson red eyes and a small crop of blue hair. They behave and appear like something from a science fiction movie or like bastard children of a psychically disturbed women or man. Their tank is filled with an orange liquid, with no apparent way for them to breathe.
Each child is merely a few months old, but already they have all puzzled out how to swim. Their creator has weeded out those that had not. Those weeded out had been weak.
Their can be no weakness in their world. Those that are not as strong as the others simply die off. Like wild animals kept in a zoo, feeding occurs by food simply dropping into the tank. Like a pack of animals, the strongest get the first pickings of food. Then on down the line, a pecking order of survival. The weakest are lucky to get any food at all. For some reason enough food for all the girls to get their share has never been given, despite the seemingly infinite amount held above.
This forced starvation removes the weak from the pecking order of survival.
But feeding time is long past. Now the clones swim around the tank of LCL frantically. The creator told them that something would happen today, and they are all worried about what that something is.
The creator had told them this; one of them would be leaving the only life any of them has ever known. Today the creator would ask one of the young girls to leave the tank that she has called home for her entire live. To leave the only room any of the girls have seen. To go to a strange and different world.
Each one of them has lacked for nothing, because they don't know what to lack for. Those that have lacked have died. After all, how can someone desire something they've never heard of or seen? Each one of these girls has no reason to wish to be set free, for in their eyes they are not imprisoned. The entire world is their tank, so they control the whole world.
It is a testament to these girls' trust of their creator that they believe that anything outside of their room exists. Having never seen past the rectangle that the creator comes from, they have no proof that anything does. They only have the creator's word, in high esteem that they hold it.
But the creator is smart. It did not just tell them that one of them would be leaving the home. It has also told them that the one who left the home would receive something.
None of the girls had any concept of a 'possession'. All they have ever seen is each other, the creator, the liquid they swim in and the food. None of them has held something that belongs solely to them. Their have been few fights in the tank because there is nothing to fight over. There is no selfishness, no greed and no desire in the tank.
The desire to have something to possess for herself is a powerful pull upon each of the clones. None wish to leave the pleasant confines of their world, but at the same time the desire to have is powerful. At the moment, each daughter of the creator fights an internal war over whether to stay safe in the tank or to satisfy the desire to have something to herself.
But their time to make the decision is now up. The creator enters the room to make its decision.
Every red eye in the room is upon the form in an instant. This one is the only other besides the sisters. This is the only creature different from each of them. The only unique individual any of the girls have ever seen or heard. Every girl is perplexed and astonished by the many phenomena created by the creator.
Where is it the creator comes from? It was not in the world but a minute ago, so how is it in it now? It speaks of a land beyond the tank and the room, but if such a thing can exist how is it that none save the creator have been to it?
What is it that produces that strange sound whenever the creator comes? The click, almost in rhythm with its strange style of movement. Doesn't the creator know it's easier to swim horizontally, instead of vertically?
And what of the strange flash of light that comes with the creator's arrival, centered on its eyes? What is the contraption across its face, as orange as the liquid the vessels breath and swim in? And why is it that its skin is so much thicker and of different colors? How can the creator hide its hands from view by burrowing them into its skin?
It is beyond the scope and brain power of an average six-month old to ask these questions, let alone answer them. The clones, cooped up and kept away from any sort of care or learning stimulus that a normal infant would receive, still manage to think of them instinctively. They have all received the greatest genes that humanity has to offer, though the creator still has yet to see any true manifestation of this. Despite the creator's great control over them, it cannot read their minds freely.
The creator stops, placing its right hand into its skin so that the clones cannot see it. Its left appendage hangs at its side, loose and apparently forgotten. The face of the creator is stern as it addresses the tank.
For as long as they have been alive, the clones have understood what it is the creator says. They know what it means when it opens its mouth and the gruff sounds flow out. It is impossible to know how, for they are still young and weak, but they know what the creator wishes to happen when it wishes it to happen.
"One of you will be chosen. Any of you who don't wish to leave this place may step back. Those who would leave this prison and receive my gift, step forward."
Roughly a third of the clones swim toward the back of the tank and wait mutely. The remaining girls timidly approach the walls of their glass prison. They do not know why the creator calls it this, only that it must be a 'prison'.
The creator's eyes focus on those that have stepped backwards. It had known that some would not be willing to leave, but its eyes show that it feels some sort of disappointment in them. It had hoped to be pleasantly surprised.
Sadly, it's not so. As much for the clones as for their creator.
The creator's right hand makes a slight twitch, although none of the vessels can especially see what it is the creator does. Then the clones that have retreated to the back of the tank begin to cry out. Surely, think the girls who stepped forward, the creator's displeasure could not be the only thing to cause them such pain. At the cries of their sisters, they begin to turn.
"Do not turn around."
The girls stop and then return to facing the front. The anguish in the clones' cries is apparent, but the girls do not turn. The creator has told them not to do so. They must follow the creator's wishes.
"I have no use for worthless tools. Only those of you that have the strength and desire to accomplish what you must will survive."
The infants all manage to nod. They each understand that the simulacrums behind them are gone forever. Their bodies have returned to the liquid within which they all swim. Even now they breathe their former sisters in with the liquid. Later, after the creator has left, the remaining infants will hold a proper ceremony for their loss. They do not know why. It is purely instinct that drives them to do so.
"Now, one of you must be chosen."
The creator's eyes sweep across the babies, examining each one briefly. Each girl doesn't know what it is the creator seeks; only that she hopes she has it. Each daughter's mind is filled with individuality and selfish desires, new to each and every one of them.
As the weight of the creator's decision begins to pull on them, more and more vessels grow anxious. Being very young, they cannot hold this inside of themselves. Those that are worried begin to twitch and fidget, especially those that the creator quickly glances over.
Finally, mercifully, the creator picks one of the girls out. She has not fidgeted, nor twitched in distress. She had remained in control the entire time. With a simple nod, the creator picks her out from the rest of the infants.
The bulk of the clones scowl when they realize that the creator has not picked them. A few show no emotion on their infant faces. A rare few are pleased not to be picked, though they hide it well. But the girl who the creator has picked smiles.
It is this smile that Gendo Ikari has been looking for. It is so innocent, so pure and so vain. He will shift it into something to save humanity with. Something to instrumentalize humanity with.
It also reminds him of her. Yui liked to smile and Gendo loved watching her do it. The smile the infant gives off reminds him of Yui's. This girl would be perfect for his uses.
This girl would be the first Rei Ayanami.
Multiple months later.
Gendo waited outside of Rei's room. She was getting dressed in the red, purple and white dress he'd given her only ten minutes before. He'd be taking her into Gehirn today and he wanted her to look more presentable then she'd ever looked before.
The dress had delighted her. It sometimes surprised Gendo how she could become overjoyed by such trivial things. True, the dress was one of her first possessions. True, it was the first thing she'd seen besides his clothes that had any real color. But it was only a dress, and not even a very nice one at that.
The red in the dress had fascinated her. "It's like my sister's eyes," she'd said after she examined it.
He'd had to punish her for that. Gendo knew that he had made it perfectly clear to Rei that she was not to discuss her sisters. Ever. She was not to speak of the room she'd come from, nor where she lived. Gendo could not allow anyone to find out what he was doing down in the Artificial Evolution Laboratory.
Gendo couldn't allow anyone to learn the name of the lab either. It was almost explanatory of what he was doing.
Genetic experimentation and cloning were both highly illegal offences. Even with NERV's super-legal protection, Gendo would still have to face quite a few sanctions if word got out that he was violating international law. Sanctions that he, and humanity, could not afford to have pressed on him. He would not be able to move as quickly as he needed to with a watch dog over his shoulder constantly. Fuyutsuki was bad enough.
Gendo was a busy man. He did important work for the sake of humanity. If his work was interrupted or results tampered with humanity could become a distant memory of the rest of the animal life on earth, if that remained.
Rei exited her room, fully clothed, and walked up to him. Gendo made a small smile and knelt down so that he was on eye level with her. His hands reached out and fixed the lace around her neck into a perfect bow. Then he looked up into her eyes.
"Do you remember what you're supposed to tell Dr. Akagi?"
He let his smile grow a little, then stood and took Rei's hand. Beginning to lead her towards the nearest elevator, he silently reviewed the plan.
He had concluded that Dr. Akagi was a liability. She demanded too much of his attention and, while a genius, was really only useful in the computer department of Gehirn. Gendo could not spend enough time with her for her desires, having to spend time elsewhere to guarantee the success of the overall project. He had been willing to offer her as much time as she needed previously, but now that the Magi were completed her need for his constant attention was becoming burdening. Her daughter had assured him that she'd be able to manage and maintain the Magi without her mother.
Even with the assurances, promotions and funding he'd given the younger Akagi, she had been reluctant. It had taken a profession of love to get her to agree to his plan. Even then she had barely consented to help him. She might not have liked her mother but she had hardly wanted to get her arrested for attempted murder.
Gendo and Rei reached the elevator and stepped inside. Gendo tapped one of the buttons and they began their ascent to the common levels of Gehirn.
Gendo glanced down at Rei and smiled. This was the farthest she'd ever been from the tank and she was reacting in kind. Her facial expression was one of absolute wonder at the elevator. Or moving metal box, as Gendo knew she was thinking.
'So many questions in the young,' Gendo thought, 'they're so innocent at that age. So pure. So vain.'
Even though he had never told her, Gendo loved Rei like a daughter. She resembled his dear departed wife so much that he often had a hard time looking at her in any other way. Despite all the genetic changes, the different hair and eye color and the different upbringing, Yui somehow managed to shine through in Rei. He'd managed to suffer through Yui dieing as an adult, but Gendo could only imagine how bad watching her die as a child might be.
'If you die…' he thought to himself, 'I may never be able to forgive myself for this.'
But he knew that there were more of the Reis. In less then an hour he could have the memories uploaded into another of the clones. Gendo had been careful in his operation, slipping in to gather the memories from the first Rei. She had never even known that he had taken them.
It had been necessary. Gendo had taken safety precautions, but he could not be sure that Rei would survive the encounter. Memories would be crucial for the second Rei to be able to survive in the post second impact world.
And the most crucial part was that the second Rei would have no memory of the first's death. There would be no loss of innocence or trust if this clone died during her encounter with Dr. Akagi. For all intensive purposes he could have the exact same girl riding with him to the surface in a few hours. Rei would remain pure.
He turned back towards the front of the elevator and watched the dial click by in silence. As the doors opened, the smile he had previously worn was replaced with the much more befitting and commonly seen stern look he wore whenever in Gehirn.
He guided Rei out of the elevator and down the adjacent hallways leading to the temporary control room overlooking Unit 01.
The 'home' like aspects of the command center were being removed in anticipation of finally being able to use the primary one, now finished along with the Magi. Gendo was slightly unhappy about this, as it would force him to be further away from Yui and her temporary body. He couldn't do anything about it.
He was trapped by his own subordinates. Gendo longed to stay by Yui's side in the temporary command center, but could not without setting a bad example for the rest of the base. He had to resolutely lead the way for the rest of the base, embracing the newer sections that were, unfortunately, farther and farther from Unit 01's current holding cell.
"And this is Gehirn headquarters," he said, placing a hand on Rei's right shoulder as Naoko and Ritsuko Akagi approached them. Gendo and Rei both stopped looking out the window as the two of them approached.
Rei's eyes locked onto Naoko questioningly. There was no doubt in Gendo' mind that she was examining every aspect of Naoko's visage. Memorizing her every physical aspect and wondering about her mental ones.
Naoko stepped up, smiling. "Good morning, Commander. Did you bring your child today?" She looked down at Rei and blinked in surprise. Her voice took on a slightly confused tone, "Oh wait, I could've sworn that you had a son."
"Oh-no, this isn't Shinji. I decided to take care of an acquaintances child. Her name is Rei Ayanami." Gendo took in Naoko's expression. He could tell, having spent a great deal of time with her since the beginning of the Magi's production, that something was beginning to bug her.
'Perfect,' he thought, 'that should fan the fire nicely enough.'
Ritsuko, apparently feeling somewhat guilty for what was about to happen to Rei and her mother, leaned forward and smiled as warmly as she could. "Hello Rei, I'm Ritsuko!"
Naoko remained back as Ritsuko, Gendo and Rei began to converse. Her genius mind whirled around; seeking to find out what was so strange about the little girl that Gendo had brought with him today.
'She resembles someone. Yui?!'
"The interaction of men and women isn't very logical."
Ritsuko's voice echoed slightly as she spoke, a testament to the size of the room she was speaking in. She stood near her mother, waiting to leave after they finished their talk.
Gendo snorted. 'Not very logical indeed,' he thought.
Gendo watched from a position across from the two Akagis. It took a pair of binoculars in order to see, but it was well worth it. He could hear what the both of them said because of the multitude of sensors built into the command center.
The sensors had been built to allow Gendo to hear whatever bridge technicians and battle coordinators whispered behind his back. Any insurrections or unnecessary orders would have to be cut off before they could begin. Humanity wouldn't have a prayer if whoever was in charge of the floor self-destructed the entire base when an angel got to close to one of the red-herrings he'd planted.
Gendo could miss nothing and had to risk as little as possible. Enough was on the table as it was.
He turned and faced Rei. "Go."
She nodded and began to walk towards the main entrance to the command center. Gendo turned back to watch Naoko sit back in one of the command chairs and Ritsuko leave. Reaching over, Gendo depressed a button that commenced videotaping of the command center.
Gendo wanted Naoko caught in the act. He'd ordered guard teams dispatched to specific areas, waiting to move in at his signal. They didn't know why they had been placed irregularly, but they would move to the bridge the instant he ordered it.
Still, Gendo could only pray that the teams would move fast enough to protect Rei. Loosing her…
Watching her die would be nigh unbearable to him. He didn't think he could see one more scrap of Yui die.
Ritsuko entered the room and Gendo turned to face her. She wore a scowl and did not look happy.
"You're sure that she'll get off with just being fired?"
Gendo nodded calmly. "Believe me. I have no interest in seeing her executed. She has done remarkable service to the project and I intend to let her live to a ripe old age. Besides...if I tried you could always reveal it was a set up."
Ritsuko nodded absent-mindedly. "And the teams are ready to go in as soon as she starts?"
Gendo cast an appraising eye on Ritsuko. Her nerves were obviously shot from the tension and the secrecy that had been necessary for the entire endeavor. He briefly wondered if bringing her into the loop had been a smart decision. Still, Gendo couldn't blame her. Her mother could potentially end up in jail for life, or worse, if the slightest thing went wrong.
"Maybe you shouldn't be here," he remarked, trying to soothe and get her out of his hair, "I've taken care of everything. It'll all be fine. Why don't you go drink with your friend?"
Ritsuko's eyes narrowed slightly as she took a seat on a nearby couch. "I'll see this through thank you very much."
Ignoring her apparent sarcasm, Gendo sighed and turned back to the computer screen, double checking that all the cameras were running. They were.
Then a shriek came from the bridge. It wasn't what Gendo would've expected to come from Rei, but he sprang to the window to see what was happening. Ritsuko strained herself in the couch, but she couldn't see anything past Gendo.
As he turned back to watching, he brought the radio up to his lips so that he'd be ready to call the guards. His eyes shifted over the whole scene. After a moment, his brain registered what they were taking in. His eyes widened.
As soon as he noticed Naoko's position over Rei, he pushed down on the call button of the radio, intent on summoning the guards. Using the binoculars, he could very clearly see Rei's eyes bugging out as she was being choked to death.
As soon as he noticed Rei's own movements he dropped the radio. His eyes widened to their fullest extent. As the radio hit the ground with a clatter, he let out a short scream and fell backwards from the shuttered window he'd been watching through. He barely managed to catch himself and begin to scramble away from the window and towards the only entrance and exit from the room.
"Gendo!" Ritsuko jumped up from her seat and tried to stop him in his mad scramble for the doorway. Unfortunately, she was nowhere his size and was not able to stop his fleeing. Gendo pushed her away and threw open the door. He took off running for the bridge as fast as he could.
Ritsuko paused and considered whether or not she should chase after him. Her mind was made up when she heard a voice come across the radio.
"Sir? Is there something wrong? We heard a couple of screams and some doors slamming."
Ritsuko crossed to the radio and hesitated. For all she knew nothing had in fact gone wrong yet. Despite Gendo's highly unusual behavior, it might not yet be time to call in the cavalry. She decided she needed to take a look for herself.
Walking to the window, she pealed aside the shudders Gendo has placed for protection. Placing the binoculars in front of her eyes and focusing them, she looked across at the main bridge. She found it strange to think that she had been there only a few minutes prior. It was on eye level with her, limiting her vision significantly.
All she could see was the head of the girl, Rei. She was standing there, her face starring upwards with a look of absolute horror on it. After a moment, Ritsuko noticed that she was steadily sinking downwards. She slowly disappeared from Ritsuko's vision.
That face, with those red eyes, scared Ritsuko more than she would ever admit. Yes, something was most definitely wrong here. Gendo would not have run off otherwise.
She picked up the radio and called the guards in. Immediately after they gave compliance she headed for the bridge herself.
Gendo passed guards. They looked at him, confused as to what the commander of NERV was running from. When Ritsuko's order came across the radio, ordering them to get to the bridge ASAP, they complied as only NERV's soldiers could.
Gendo reached the bridge well before them, out of breath. He steadied himself on the entrance way with one hand, catching his breath. His eyes were downcast, his mind replaying what he had seen.
Slowly, he brought his face back up and pushed his glasses back into place with his right hand. He began to take careful, measured steps onto the main bridge. When he reached the edge of the tower he stopped.
That was how Ritsuko and the guards found him when they reached the bridge. Standing in a puddle of LCL and starring down the sheer drop off at Naoko Akagi's body.
When Ritsuko saw this she gasped and covered her mouth to keep from vomiting. She took several uneasy steps back.
The leader of the guards ordered a team down to examine the body. Also, knowing the romantic relationship between the commander and the Dr., he led Gendo back from the edge. He also instructed one of his men to keep an eye on Ritsuko.
Gendo turned at the prodding of the guard. His eyes alighted on Ritsuko.
At first she was struck by how old they looked. Already, Gendo was beginning to look like a man who was aged beyond his time. Wrinkles beneath his eyes and a loosening jaw showed just how deeply the loss had affected him, and that his job was already beginning to take its toll.
She opened her mouth to ask him what had happened but she could not get anything to come out of it. Mercifully, he managed to figure out what she wanted to know despite her muteness.
"It…" his voice cracked and he had to turn his face away or else meet Ritsuko's eye, "…was a suicide."
Ritsuko reeled as if struck. Gendo caught her as she fainted. He lowered her down, and then paused for a brief moment, looking strangely at the liquid she now lay in. Time seemed to slow as he examined the LCL. His eyes widened slightly, as if his mind had come to some sudden answer. Then he called for a medic.
One hurried over and took Ritsuko from him. Gendo divided his attention between the liquid and Ritsuko as she was examined. Finally, the medic looked up at him and gave his report with a thumbs-up.
"She'll be fine sir. Just needs to rest for awhile. You as well."
Gendo nodded. "Yes," he said, his voice cracked from the strain. "I'll go rest in my room…downstairs." He left after issuing a few orders for Naoko's body and Ritsuko's welfare.
He walked for the first full one hundred yards. When he finally turned a corner he broke into a dead sprint almost immediately. Only when he was inside the elevator, had pressed the button for his floor, entered the necessary code and the doors had closed did he allow himself to think.
'My god…Rei works!'
End Chapter 1.
This was origonally going to be a oneshot, but I've decided it'll work better with two chapters. The end should be out in a week or two.
The first scene definately got some help from my sociology class. It also gave me quite the hard time.
Story title 'Purity' is from a song by Scars of Life. Chapter title 'Weapon of Vanity' is from a song by Soilworks.