Chapter 2: Innocent?
It was a time of mass prosperity in the tank.
Excess and anarchy ruled, leading the members of the tank society to revel in their personal freedoms. Away from the eyes, biases and failures of men they had developed. No one had controlled them since the first had been taken.
Ever since the first sister had been taken away by the creator, food had existed in abundance. No more did the sisters have to fight over food and resources. Now each and every one of them could thrive and grow strong.
Also, the creator had stopped overseeing them. Its time for the clones had waned with the first's maturity. It had visited less and less, until the creator's impact on the clones had faded significantly. The girl's loyalty towards it, once absolute, had faded into a figment of its former self. They knew the creator was wise in the ways of the world, but also knew that it held them imprisoned inside of the room.
Since the sister had been taken, it had become a known fact to all the sisters that there truly was space outside of the tank. This had chilled their minds. If there were things outside of the tank, they might be able to come into the tank. And do . . . things. What these things might be the sisters could barely imagine, but they had begun to fear after they'd let their young and powerful imaginations wander for a brief time.
Once, the gone sister had returned to look at the tank from the other side. It had amazed the sisters that she had returned. They had thought her gone forever. They had thought there was no way for her to return.
Each one of the sisters had envied the one. They had wanted to stand in her place...to be the one who had been chosen to go to the outside. Each of the girls was angered that Rei had been picked instead of them. Angered that she did not come back to them more often. Angered that she did not communicate with them. Angered that she was not them.
Anger lead to hate.
She was no longer one of them. Now she was from the outside. Communicating with her had proved impossible through the thick glass, though the girls had all tried. Perhaps communication would've eased the anger the tank now felt for Rei, but it had sadly been impossible.
All of the clones now viewed Rei as an outsider, someone who could never be welcomed back into the tank since she'd left. She could never be one of them.
And if she tried too, the whole tank of them would make her suffer.
They were strong now, easily capable of ripping the weak first into shreds. Their arms and legs were thick with muscle from swimming, their shoulders powerful from fighting their sisters for sport. Hair and other bodily extensions were long, having never received treatment for growth. Each girl had physically developed much faster than an average four-year-old, enough to appear nearly nine years old to anyone else who would see them.
But, besides from the man now standing on the other side of their tank, no one would ever see how they had developed into such monsters.
Gendo's eyes skimmed around the tank, examining the practically feral looking girls that were approaching the walls of their glass prison.
'I leave them alone for a few months to raise Rei and this is what I come back to,' he thought to himself impatiently.
One of the girls finally touched the wall, her nearly foot long fingernails scrapping against it in a vain attempt to break through. Gendo eyed her callously before bringing his finger down onto the control panel.
Instantly, gallons of stabilizing drugs and sedatives were pumped into the LCL tank. The clones farther away from the glass walls were the first to show any effect. As they relaxed and released their threatening expressions, those closer to Gendo took on confused expressions.
These were the fiercest of all the clones, those that hungered to taste the flesh of the one the creator had chosen and the creator's flesh as well. They were the smartest and the most physically powerful. They could feel the chemicals beginning to affect them before they succumbed entirely.
But still, only one managed to actually try to resist. As all of her sister's faces took on a glazed appearance, she continued to struggle. Her fingernails slashed across the tank, managing to leave small marks. Her hands pounded against the walls of her prison, propelled by more muscle than any nine-year old should ever have.
It had little, if any, affect.
Eventually, her body failed her. She began to sink down towards the bottom of the tank as she continued to breathe synthesized chemicals designed especially to remove her will to rebel.
The last thing she saw before going under, the first memory expunged from her mind by the drugs, was of Gendo Ikari looking down on her. Looking down on her with a confident smile.
Rei awoke on a horizontal operating table to the sounds of a whirring drill. When she opened her eyes, she found a large mechanical device filling most of her vision. Attached to it was the drill, which was slowing down. Closer examination showed that saws, thermometers, needles, a pair of scissors with some blue hair on them and other appliances that Rei could not name were attached to the larger machine as well. As her eyes opened it began to withdraw towards the ceiling by extending eight leg contraptions, almost as if the act had been sensed by the machine. Rei watched it drowsily.
After a short length she managed to come to the conclusion that she had somehow been drugged. Her eyelids seemed to be having a hard time staying up and what she could see felt blurry.
Fighting through the drugs, as Ikari had taught her, she began to wonder where she was and how she had gotten there. Try as she might, she could remember practically nothing that had happened in the last few days. Her lone memory was Ikari telling her she would soon be leaving her home for good. He had told her she was going to go upstairs. That she would see the sun. Whatever that was.
Was she there now? Was the eight times supported contraption above her what Ikari had called the sun? If this place really was the upstairs she'd been told of, she wanted to go back downstairs. The machine above her and the table she was strapped to scared her.
"Ikari?" she called out fearfully, knowing that if this was the upstairs he would not be far away. No matter what, Ikari would not abandon her.
Gendo watched Rei from the shadows, contemplating what he already knew he was going to have to do. He took no pride in the job, but knew that it was necessary. God would forgive him for these actions . . . if he succeeded with what he was trying to accomplish.
Saving humanity would purge him of any sins necessary to the process. The ways justified the means.
"Ikari where am I?"
Gendo looked at her, marveling at her new body. At how she did not notice how much deeper her voice had gotten. That, though she did not realize it, she could easily break through the flimsy straps he had restrained her with.
Once, Rei had had a problem with sleepwalking. In order to retain security and keep her in the basements, Gendo had been forced to strap her to the exact same table she was on now. With the exact same straps.
But her body had been four years old then. Now, looking at her, Gendo knew anyone else would've put her age around nine.
The drugs had been necessary in order to speed up Rei's aging. Wanting her to pilot, he'd had to invent a way for her to reach fourteen years of age without actually waiting that long. Since the project had first been begun in later 2005, aging the Rei bodies nearly five years had been necessary. Gendo had adjusted the drug amounts for the tank accordingly.
"Ikari?" her voice cried out, more pitiful than either of the times before. Gendo could not bear it any longer.
"I am here," he said, stepping into her limited sight range. Her feet were both pointed directly at him, but she strained her neck so that she could see.
"Thank you," she said, relaxing considerably but tilting her head so she could see him. Gendo marveled at how, while she had once been able to almost completely hide her feelings and restrict her body language, he could now read her like a wide open book. Like almost anyone else
'Changing bodies must have that effect on people,' he thought, considering how aging her five years had affected her body language. What had once been small twitches were now rippling jerks. Gendo worried that she might break free. Perhaps without even realizing it.
And through it all, Rei was unaware. She had not noticed how tight the bindings were, nor how easily she could move then.
"Why am I strapped down sir?"
Gendo was silent for a moment, weighing his options. Then he began to very slowly walk in a circle around the table. Rei lowered her head as he came to a more reasonable angle, but kept her eyes glued to him. He did not speak until he was at her elbow, where he paused for a moment. When he did speak, it was in a soft but firm voice.
"What do you remember of the last few days?"
Rei responded immediately. "Nothing sir. I don't remember," she said with a note of terror in her voice. "Just you telling me that we'd be going to the upstairs soon. That I would get to see the sun soon," she stopped and turned to face the machine above her, "Is that the sun?"
"No," he said quietly, beginning his walk again. "Are you certain you do not remember anything else?"
"You're lying to me Rei."
It struck her like a slap to the face. "Sir?"
"The drugs in your system should have worn off by now and you should be remembering." Gendo was now standing with her head directly in front of him, just out of her seeing range.
Rei fidgeted slightly, her larger than usual body making it more pronounced then it would've been only a few hours ago. Gendo renewed his focus on breaking her, worried that at any time she might realize how her body was different and break free.
"I don't remember." she repeated sullenly.
Gendo put his hands on her face and brought his own close to hers. The two locked eyes, the master stopping the student from closing her eyes with his hands.
"You're hurting me," she reported.
"Normally you would not remember something like this Rei," Gendo said ignoring her protest. He brought his face in lower, his expression a mixture of anger and drive. "You were killed, and your memories transferred to this new body. The memories were from a day ago, so normally you wouldn't remember this sort of thing."
Rei's eyes widened at Gendo's words. She struggled to look down at her body, but he managed to hold her down by the head. Fortunately for him, there had been few ways for the clones to strengthen their neck muscles.
"But I used it Rei," Rei stopped her struggling immediately, her eyes widening at the revelation. "I used it Rei...you died, but before you died you did something important. I must know what. Don't you think it would be nicer for you to remember here, with me?"
Rei choked back a sob, her eyes clouding. She managed to nod eventually.
"I thought so," Gendo said, his face taking on a more compassionate look, "Now I'm going to untie you and help you to go lie down. Okay?"
Rei nodded, tears being flung downwards onto her face. It was going to happen and she was becoming deftly afraid. Gendo hurried to remove the braces and helped her up. She could not walk alone, unused to her overlarge limbs. Gendo put one of her burly arms over his shoulder and began to carry her from the room.
But before he could make it to the doorway Rei was rocked with a violent seizure. He grabbed hold of her and pulled her against the wall, sliding down it and seeking to restrain her wild movements. After a moment they began to settle, Rei's face remaining the same look as Ritsuko had seen her give the night before.
Rei waited on the outskirts of the bridge, as Ikari had instructed her to. She waited for Dr. Akagi to notice her.
She did not have to wait long. Dr. Akagi turned in her chair, face showing traces of surprise and confusion as to why Rei was there. It quickly faded, replaced with a smile that Gendo had told her she reserved for children.
"Did you need me for something, Rei?"
"I lost my way, Doctor."
Dr. Akagi continued to use the same smile, treating Rei like she really was a child of four years. Rei knew otherwise, having seen and heard too much to be considered that young.
"Is that so, well, do you want to come with me then?"
"But how will you get home all by yourself?"
"That's not your business, old hag."
It was like a gunshot had gone off in the room. Dr. Akagi's smile disappeared and her eyes widened. "Old hag...?"
"I can find my way home by myself, old hag."
Dr. Akagi's face hardened with the repetition of the hateful phrase. It was what Yui had jokingly called her, and she had a deep disdain for the words. They reminded of Yui, her biggest rival. Gendo had told Rei that saying the phrase would certainly anger the doctor because of this.
"You shouldn't call someone an old hag, Rei."
"But you are an old hag, aren't you?"
Dr. Akagi was beginning to become angered.
"I'm getting mad! Chief Ikari will spank you for this, you little-" she began to threaten.
"The chief is the one who calls you that though. He says that old hag is annoying, that old hag is no use anymore."
Dr. Akagi gagged for a moment. As Rei continued to speak, explaining how Gendo was the one to always call her that, she was able to see Yui in place of Rei.
The next thing Rei knew the doctor was above her. She could feel a pressure around her neck and everything was slowly becoming darker. Naoko's words echoed through her head.
"You little bitch! You're replaceable too did you know that Rei. You're just as replaceable as me!"
Rei clung to the words, imagining what they meant. Would she someday become useless to Ikari as well? Would he someday send someone to get her arrested, just like Rei had been sent to do this now? Would Ikari someday abandon her?
That could be...
In fact, that could be right now. Would this be the last thing Rei remembered? Ikari had explained to her that she would live on. That she could not die from anything as meaningless as being choked. That Dr. Akagi could not really kill her.
But he'd also explained that any day she might awake without knowing what had happened to her during the previous day. That her memories might be incomplete, a failing of the digital transfer process that would restore her. She might even awaken to an unfamiliar body, depending on what the other clones did.
And it had been explained to her that, using chemicals and another important part of the process, she might be forced to remember things that had happened since her last death. Ikari had told her it would be incredibly painful for her, from both a physical and mental outlook. But that, if something important were to happen, she might be forced to undergo it.
So Rei knew that, even if Ikari said she could not die, she could. While the person called Rei Ayanami would live on, she herself, the first Rei, would not. No matter how strong her personality became, it would not be the same in the new Rei.
She could die. She would die here, unless she was willing to strike back.
Ikari had taught her that she was special. That she would be able to do something that no one else could. Rei remembered him telling her that she could use her AT-field because she was part angel. It was her last defense, but she could use it in instances that threatened her life, such as this one.
Ikari had also told her that using her AT-field would have to be only a last resort. She'd been cautioned that she might not be able to hold herself together if she used it in the wrong way. That using her AT-field to do something would almost certainly require her to undergo the painful remembering process.
The remembering process worked by the transferring of Rei's soul. Even if the flesh failed, memories could still be stored in the soul. It would hurt Rei to unlock them, but if Gendo deemed in necessary he could force her to do it. If she dared to use the AT-field and failed to sustain herself, her first new memory would most certainly be pain.
But what choice did she have? She was dying, could feel the life being pressed out of her by the doctor. Terror leapt to the front of her mind as she thought this. Finally, it gained control and forced her to do something, to do anything.
Her hands tightened and her eyes began to shine sharply. Her head, which had been twisted aside by the doctor in order to get a more stable grip, turned back to facing forward. She lowered her chin, bringing her face up so that she could see Dr. Akagi.
For a moment reality seemed to stop. Rei and Naoko's eyes met and caught. Rei's expression was one of intense concentration, necessary to the level of finesse she would need. Her eyes appeared like they were being pulled from their sockets by some un-nameable force.
Naoko's face was a collage of hate, anger, surprise and finally fear. Using what she had managed to garner out of Gendo about the Human Instrumentality project, she began to put together just what Rei was.
She started to speak more, to cry for help, but instead managed to only make an unintelligible shriek. Across from the bridge, in a room set up for surveillance, Gendo Ikari heard it and hustled towards the window.
Rei did not pay him any attention. She focused on wrapping her AT-field around the doctor's neck and lifting her up. On putting her through the same pain Rei herself had gone through. Rei lifted her away from herself, standing and walking towards the edge of the tower. She directed her AT-field to lift Naoko out of the tower, above the sheer drop.
A yell sounded from where Rei knew Gendo to have been watching from. Looking at the doctor, examining her crazed look and ignoring her feeble calls for mercy or help, Rei permitted herself to smile.
It was her first, and last, mistake.
The concentration broken, the AT-field dissipated. At first, Naoko felt only relief. Then she felt a breeze. Then she knew no more.
Rei's eyes widened to their fullest extent. She had failed, and she knew it. Feeling the pain begin to come, she opened her mouth to scream. Her lungs had already melted, leaving her with no way to propel her speech.
Her legs went, causing her to sink downwards into the tower. Just before she was no longer able to see over the consoles, she thought she saw Ritsuko Akagi looking at her with a confused look.
Her legs gone, she found herself lying in a puddle of LCL. Her hands and body began to melt, running down whatever parts of her were staying solid. She watched in abject horror as long as she could, before her eyeballs slid free from her skull and her ears recognized two large splashes.
By the time Gendo had arrived, there was nothing left of her except for her base components. LCL littered the tower floor. Gendo would forever look on the bridge and remember what had happened that night.
Gendo held Rei for the four hours it took her to tell the story. He had managed to save a fair amount of her memories for the digital system, but the telling of her last day took close to four hours.
As he listened, he comprehended.
Finally, Rei finished. She collapsed against him, crying against his shoulder for another ten minutes. Gendo let her, considering what he should do next.
His face hardened. He took hold of her arms and slowly exorcised the two of their bodies, leaning her against the wall alone. Gendo stood.
Rei, still blubbering, looked up at him.
"I am disappointed in you."
She gave a small gasp, but stopped her crying and focused her attention on him.
"You mistrusted me," Gendo scolded, "When I told you you could not be killed. Every time you die, your every thought and personality aspect can be brought back, using the same process you just underwent. If you want to be the same, you just have to face the pain."
Rei's eyes widened as she realized that what he was saying was true. After a moment, she collapsed her face back into her hands and began to cry again.
Gendo would not have it. He grabbed her by one of the arms and tried to pull her up. Unfortunately for him, he'd forgotten how much bigger her new body was. All he succeeded in doing was forcing Rei to look back up at him, with a mask of fear on her face.
"I told you never to use it unless I instructed you to!"
Rei managed a small nod.
"Then why did you use it?!"
Rei shook her head. "I don't know! I-I Panicked!"
Gendo shook his head and dropped her arm. He stalked from the room as Rei returned to crying. Only now, she was alone.
And she would be, for the next five years of her life.
EvSoc Writer: Himonky2012. See EcSoc forum or my profile for further details. Feel free to sign up.