Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion or Noir

The Black Hands of NERV

By Bissek

Final Chapter

Welcome Home

The soldiers from the United Nations Combined Military Forces were worried. The three-way warfare in the winding corridors of Central Dogma was bad enough. In addition to that, there was something prowling the hallways. Entire squads had been dropping off the communications network, many of them without being able to report anything other than screams of terror and/or pain. Other squads had reported sighting the Fourth Child and that they were moving to eliminate her as per their orders to terminate the pilots. Said squads were never heard from again. One lieutenant found a map of the compound and traced a path between the general locations of the disappearances. The obvious conclusion was that the only difference between the groups that vanished without reporting who they were fighting and the ones who spotted the Fourth Child before dying was that they managed to spot the bait this hunter unit was using before getting wiped out. The alternative, that every single one of those people had been killed by a fourteen year old girl, was one the troops refused to accept.

The lieutenant had ordered all of his squads to form up in one of the conference rooms. It might be possible for this hunter unit to take out squads fast enough to not have any real intelligence as to what was happening get out, but it would be a lot harder to do that to an entire platoon. The last of the squads had arrived, and the lieutenant was briefing the men as to his conclusions. He knew that he was near the last location the hunter unit had taken out a squad. That meant he had a good chance of intercepting it.

His briefing was interrupted by a length of piping flying through the air and striking him in the back. As he fell forward, his men noticed that a grenade had been securely tied to the back end of the pipe with wire. A grenade with the pin removed. The men who had surrounded their fallen officer were scythed down by flying shrapnel as the grenade went off at waist height. As men who were outside the blast radius ran for the open door, a second grenade was tossed in.

The survivors of the second explosion left the conference room more cautiously, and found no sign of the location of the attacker, only an open supply closet door and a discarded arrangement of pipes in the shape of a crude spear thrower to explain how the lieutenant had been killed.

A scream came from the rear of the formation. The soldiers spun to see the man acting as tail guard with a sword driven completely through him. A hail of bullets came from the direction of the mortally wounded soldier as his killer used him as a meat shield to stop any return fire. As the last man fell, he understood what had happened: The attacker had had been braced against the walls directly above the doorway, safely out of sight until the moment to drop down and strike came.

Kirika pulled the katana out of the man she had used as a shield and entered the conference room to finish off the men who had been wounded but not killed by the grenades. Their last sight would be of a girl in a black bodysuit splattered with the red of other people's blood walking towards them with a sword in her right hand and a machine gun in her left, a totally emotionless expression on her face.

Asuka impaled the seventh MP Eva on her lance and tossed it aside. The regenerative powers of her opponents might have healed the Evangelions proper, but it did not repair damage to their armor. That flaw made it easier for Asuka to take them down a second time now that she no longer in immediate danger of running out of power. The fact that the first Evangelion that Shinji had shot revealed something that resembled an Angel's core was also a big help. A quick test soon revealed that an MP Eva that took a serious hit there stayed down.

Now the battle had been reduced from nine on one to two on two. An uninformed observer would have considered this a fair fight. An informed observer would note that since one side had taken 78% casualties and the other had taken 0% casualties, the fight had never been fair, as the side that had started outnumbering the other was hopelessly outclassed.

Another shot from Shinji blasted off the armor of an eighth Evangelion. Asuka turned to finish off that target. As she did, the final MP Eva made a dash for EVA-01, trying to take out Asuka's fire support before she could focus her attention on her last opponent. Shinji's final shot took the enemy in the head. While that was a wound the S2 equipped Evangelion could recover from, it was serious enough that it was effectively immobilized until it could regenerate the damage. It was now in a desperate race between its ability to heal and Shinji's ability to pry off armor plates with his progressive knife and destroy its core.

Shinji won.

Chloe knew that she would only have one chance to inflict a serious injury on Rei. From her current position, she wasn't really in a position to strike most places that would result in a quick death on the other Nephilim, especially given the low penetrative ability of the fork she was using. But she had read the reports of Rei's post 13th Angel surgery and knew the location of a certain spherical tumor. A tumor that was also found in an examination later performed on her, and explained to be an S2 organ, the source of an Angel's power. She knew exactly where to strike.

The fork hit Rei's AT Field. Rei was able to slow the attack but not stop it, and the small utensil punched through the barrier and pierced Rei's AT Field. As Chloe drove the fork deeper, she felt the sensation caused by Rei's AT Field fade. Without the full function of her extra organ, Rei could no longer call upon the power that allowed her to challenge Chloe. As Chloe released the fork and reached for the dropped sword, she looked into the eyes of the girl who was known for having virtually no emotions and saw fear.

The wakizashi, its blade brought to supernatural sharpness by Chloe's instinctive AT Field usage, swung through the air. The impossibly sharp weapon cut into Rei's throat, cleanly severing her head and sending it flying. As the Nephilim's body fell backwards, her damaged S2 organ started glowing brightly enough to be seen through her skin. Chloe focused her own AT Field as best as she could as Rei's decapitated body exploded in a burst of light.

When Chloe's vision returned, the metal flooring in front of her looked like it had melted. Two tunnels had been gouged in the walls to either side of her. The cross holding the crucified Angel had been cut down and had fallen into the lake of LCL, which had been set on fire. Everything behind the line that had apparently been defined by her AT Field was intact. It was a good thing this had happened down in Terminal Dogma – had that explosion taken place up in Central Dogma, it probably would have caused a major structural failure.

Chloe looked down at herself. Her tunic was ripped down to her navel and the exposed skin was liberally splattered with the blood that had sprayed from Rei's neck – decapitations were even messier than she thought they would be. She supposed that it was a good thing that none of her classmates could see her as she was. She could already picture the conclusion that they would make: Rei had tried to rape her, and she had protected her virtue by whacking the girl's head off, and then blew her up for good measure. If a rumor like that got out, the odds that the average guy at school would be willing to date her under any circumstances would drop to zero. Not that she had the slightest interest in any of the average guys.

Chloe crawled towards her discarded weapons, unable to stand because of her injuries. With her broken wrist and broken ankle on opposite sides of her body, she couldn't even hope to prop herself up against a makeshift crutch. After cleaning her blades and sheathing them, she laid back. Her part in the battle was over. There was no way she could fight any more in her current condition.

Mireille walked up to Chloe and pulled her upright. Leaning against the older woman, the two hobbled out of Terminal Dogma. As they passed Rei's severed head, which had miraculously landed at a point clear of the blast made by the rest of her body detonating, Chloe was reminded of an idle thought she had had shortly after the first time she had killed the girl. A thought on the lines of wondering if cutting Ayanami's head off would be the only way to ensure that the girl stayed dead. Chloe looked down into the counterfeit Noir's lifeless eyes and made a single comment.

"There can be only one."

Major Julio Sanchez watched as the two NERV Evangelions finished off the last of the Mass Produced Evangelions that had been provided to them. Their loss turned an already bad situation even worse.

Julio was technically fourth in the chain of command of the battalion sent to seize control of NERV HQ. But his commander had been shot, the second in command had been literally caught underfoot during the Evangelion battle, and the third in command had fallen victim to whatever was picking off squads one at a time within Central Dogma. That left Julio in command.

The tactical situation looked hopeless. All of their anti-Evangelion firepower was gone. Most of their other vehicles had been destroyed during the Evangelion battle by parties who barely even noticed they were there, and what was left would soon follow if they tried to do anything. The casualties of the infantry inside the main building were atrocious and still rising. And there was also the question brought up by that mystery transmission as to whether or not the orders to attack this base were legal in the first place. Julio was certain that several of the details of those orders were direct violations of the Articles of War, and had gone on record as saying so.

There was no way Julio could hope to rally the battalion to victory. But if he hurried, he might be able to salvage something before the unit was technically reduced to the size of a company. He waved over his communications officer and ordered a full retreat.

The tension on the bridge caused by the numerous conflicts eased as the AT Field reading indicating the presence of the Second Angel winked out. It faded considerably when the last of the MP Evas went down. When the UNCMF started to flee, they were openly cheering. Ten minutes after that, a transmission came in over the radio from the JSSDF Chief of Staff ordering the survivors of the remaining army to stand down. The Battle of Tokyo-3 was over. NERV had won.

With the shooting finally over, the staff of NERV began the arduous process of clearing away the dead and patching up the wounded. Wreckage had to be cleared away. Statements had to be made to politicians demanding answers to questions that they should have asked before the shooting ever started. Numerous NERV employees started trying to contact their families in the city to let them know that they had survived. The battle might have been over, but the aftermath would take days or weeks to resolve.

Agents of Interpol arrived during the cleanup, hoping to find a solid clue as to the identity of Noir and possible even apprehend her. Given that Chloe was exhausted, in a wheelchair, and with one arm in a sling, they actually might have been able to arrest her without taking too many casualties. They were rather upset when Kaji arrived and informed them that the UN had already promised Chloe immunity for her crimes in exchange for her assistance in dealing with Les Soldats.

The other two members of Noir technically didn't have that protection. They knew that they weren't officially associated with Noir as of yet, but with Chloe identified, it was only a matter of time. They quietly slipped away from the facility after Kirika's bullet wound was stitched up.

As they were leaving, they ran into Kaji. The JDA agent proposed a simple deal for them. In exchange for one final mission from Noir, the Japanese government would sponsor a resolution in the UN to grant them immunity as thanks for their efforts in helping to stop the Angel menace. Given the identity of the proposed targets and the fact that they would be well positioned to vanish after the job ended even if the resolution fell through, they agreed.

The whole story was never released to the public. That is not to say that no explanation of the events that ultimately culminated in the Battle of Tokyo-3 was ever produced. A reporter managed to piece together a story based on sparse facts, rumors, and highly erroneous assumptions to create an explanation that made sense to the world, which went something like this:

Gendo Ikari was a Soldat acting as a double agent within SEELE. SEELE had initiated Second Impact and created the Evangelions to fend off the Angels until they were ready to start a Third Impact. In a totally unrelated plan, Les Soldats commandeered the daughter of Gendo Ikari and the niece of Evangelion developer Kyoko Soryu to be used in their enforcer training program. Gendo, realizing that he would need his daughter to pilot an Evangelion later on, created the half-Angel Rei Ayanami as a substitute.

Years later, Les Soldats learned that their two top enforcer candidates (codenamed Noir) were related to two (actually three) of the initially selected pilots. They started planning to see if they could arrange for their enforcers to become pilots so that they could control the Evangelions and use them to seize overt control over the world.

Their plans were disrupted by the actions of a young DGSE agent named Mireille Bouquet, whose parents had been murdered by a Soldat agent for refusing to turn their daughter over to become an enforcer. Mireille had somehow managed to track down one of the other candidates and somehow managed to convince her to defect. Efforts to convince the other candidate to defect fell through, and resulted in the death of Chloe Langley at the hands of Kirika Yumura, nee Ikari.

It was at this point that Kirika was found and recruited by NERV, not as a Soldat mole as was originally intended, but as a quasi-DGSE agent, who insisted on taking her control officer with her. Unfortunately for Kirika's brother, years of Soldat efforts to reshape her mind into something more suitable for their purposes had scrambled her memories, rendering her unable to remember her family.

Around this time, Les Soldats discovered the true origins of Rei Ayanami and realized that if they could duplicate this, they could not only control the Evangelions, but also produce an infinite supply of elite foot soldiers as well. Because of this, they created the second Chloe and sent her to Tokyo-3 with the intent of eliminating the pilots. Their plans were thwarted again by Mireille Bouquet, who, aided by Agent Ryoji Kaji of the JDA, managed to convince the second Chloe to defect. The Soldat attack on Tokyo-3 was a last ditch effort to seize the Evangelions and eliminate the existing pilots and/or defectors.

NERV knew the explanation was at least partially wrong. But since they didn't really know the whole truth, either, they kept quiet. The pilots and Chloe knew a sizable portion of the story was absolute nonsense, but since explaining the truth would involve indicting themselves or people close to them in capital crimes, they also kept quiet. The DGSE knew that Mireille Bouquet was not one of their officers, nor did they have any anti-Soldat operations going until the entire world knew of the organization's existence. They also knew that even if she was, people with her skills would not be typical of their field agents any more than the skills demonstrated by the movie character John Rambo were typical of the US Army Green Berets. But since the official story made them look good, they declined to comment in a manner that made everyone assume that the story was true, but that they could not confirm it for security reasons. The JDA stated that since the case they were working against Les Soldats was still active, they could not discuss the details for security reasons. Everyone took that for additional confirmation.

The militaries of the world looked at the story and heaved a sigh of relief that the Soldat plan had failed. In the battle of Tokyo-3, 2,143 soldiers had invaded the GeoFront. The invading armies suffered 734 dead and 519 wounded. Of those, 467 of the dead and none of the wounded were caused by three people – the Saplings. Only two people had faced Noir in the battle and lived: Communications Specialist Yosho Ishimura, who Chloe had knocked unconscious after borrowing his radio, and Lt Heinz Schultz, who Chloe deliberately spared when she decided to honor a promise made by her previous self to spare his life.

Taking the fact that three Noir had destroyed two companies – one squad at a time – and were working on a third when their enemies ran away, analysts extrapolated what would have happened had Les Soldats succeeded in mass producing them and came to the conclusion that a full company of Noir could destroy any pure infantry force in the world.

The rivalry between the French and the Germans did carry over into the records of the Angel War. Both looked at the records of the pilots and claimed victory for different reasons.

1. Asuka Langley Soryu: 10.83 (6th, 7th – shared, 8th, 10th, 15th, 16th – shared, 6 MP Evas)

2. Shinji Ikari: 9.83 (3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th – shared, 12th, 14th, 16th – shared, EVA-00, 3 MP Evas)

3. Kirika Yumura: 3.33 (9th, 13th, 16th – shared, 17th)

4. Ritsuko Akagi: 1 (11th)

4. Rei Ayanami: 1 (Jet Alone)

4. Chloe Langley: 1 (Rei Ayanami – Though there was some debate as to whether or not this kill should be counted twice, as she killed her on two separate occasions)

Since the German pilot had achieved more kills than any other pilot, the Germans considered themselves the winner (Asuka took considerable pleasure in the fact that she had come out of the rankings as the official #1 pilot). The French countered with the fact that their pilot was the one who had given the other pilots advanced combat training, was so naturally talented a fighter that making her pilot actually handicapped her, and was the only pilot to ever take out an Angel without needing an Evangelion (Kensuke sold his recording of Kirika's battle with Kaworu for a small fortune, along with the recording of the Gym Kendo Match. Section 2 didn't like it, but were forced to admit that there was nothing remotely classified in either recording). Both sides continued sniping at each other without ever really resolving anything.

The historical archives of Les Soldats were uncovered at the Manor. The historians who examined them choked on the revelations uncovered with them. The French did notice the parallels between Kirika and the deceased Noir Jeanne D'Arc, much as she had feared they would. Had she not vanished during the battle, Shinji was certain that Kirika would have been appalled by the reaction of the French. He knew that his sister did not particularly enjoy the spotlight, and would not have enjoyed being hailed as the spiritual successor of France's greatest martyr, who had taken up her predecessor's cause and completed her mission (Especially since Jeanne's martyrdom had accomplished precisely nothing in regards to Les Soldats). They went so far as to treat Kirika's landscapes as historical masterpieces simply because she had painted them, despite the fact that Kirika was not and was not likely to be more than a competent amateur. Shinji had had to contact Section 2 to make certain that his sister's admirers didn't walk off with the paintings or any of her other belongings.

The French were so caught up in praising their self-styled hero that they ended up co-sponsoring the resolution to offer her and Mireille immunity for any crimes they might have committed, which passed readily.

Many people wondered where Kirika and Mireille had vanished to. While Shinji was one of them, he wasn't worried. He knew that his sister would come back home.

After several weeks of repair to the building and the surrounding streets, school had finally reopened. The class that the pilots in was easy to determine from an outside perspective. It was the one with roughly half the class in wheelchairs, crutches, or large amounts of bandages. Thanks to the attack of the 17th Angel, they looked like the casualty ward of a military hospital after a battle. Which was fairly accurate, as things went.

The two pilots and one Nephilim still in school were among the battered. Shinji's injuries were all fairly minor. Asuka's were mostly minor, but synchronization feedback from the lance that Shinji had deflected had gouged a deep cut in one cheek that would leave a highly visible scar. It could have been worse – had the lance not been deflected she probably would have lost an eye. And Chloe was still confined to a wheelchair until either her ankle healed enough to support her weight or her wrist healed enough to allow her to handle a crutch.

Rather than recriminations for what Nagisa had been able to do because they hadn't been able to stop him sooner, which the pilots had feared, the choice topic of conversation was the battle that had been fought in the GeoFront. Everyone in the class wanted to talk about the battle, the limited footage of the fighting that NERV had seen fit to release to the public, and the patched together explanation of the background of the battle.

One comment made about the footage stuck in Chloe's head: a student describing one of the scenes with Kirika (Which, taken collectively, killed all hope Kirika had of not scaring away any potential boyfriends had she been interested in getting one) in it mentioned that she seemed like she was a totally different person than the girl they knew in class. Chloe considered that statement over lunch (After having to pull a knife on Kensuke to get him to leave her alone).

The Kirika shown in the footage was the girl that Chloe had admired and longed for her entire life, the perfect killer who had been the ultimate example of what it meant to be Noir. But that Kirika had almost nothing in common with the Kirika that everyone in Tokyo-3 who knew her dealt with on a day to day basis. For all intents and purposes the two Kirikas were as close to being different people as they possibly could be without the body containing them being considered schizophrenic.

Chloe had been in love with Kirika the True Noir, not Kirika Yumura. The ultimate reason that Chloe had botched her courtship of Kirika in her previous life was that she had failed to understand that they weren't really the same person – and that Kirika Yumura didn't even like her True Noir persona, she just used it when she had to and kept it locked away the rest of the time. And even if Chloe had noticed the difference, it wouldn't have mattered. Kirika the True Noir would never have returned Chloe's love. Kirika had openly admitted that her True Noir persona was incapable of understanding the concept, let alone expressing it.

Chloe realized that she had spent ten years of her life (or lives) chasing an impossible dream. But unlike when she had thought that Kirika had hated her, the discovery didn't hurt this time. Perhaps that was a sign that she had managed to move on from the obsession that had literally destroyed her life once and would have done so a second time if her cousin hadn't intervened.

Well, there were three billion people in the world who were not Kirika. Many of them had reached a point where they were willing to consider romantic attachments, something that, with retrospect, Chloe had been forced to conclude that Kirika wasn't. There was one other in particular that seemed interesting to her, and who seemed to be trying to subtly broadcast to her that he might be interested in her in a manner that would not be noticed by the rest of the class. She'd have to talk to him when school got out.

Classes were over for the day. The students packed their bags and prepared to wheel or limp their way back home. Chloe caught Shinji's arm as he walked past.

"You can take the fork out of your shirt now, Shinji." She said simply.

The class turned to watch as Shinji sheepishly removed the utensil from under his shirt. They had all heard the story of Kirika's fork. Was Shinji trying to make a pass at the girl who was seeking to court his sister? They held their breath as they now knew that Chloe was a (theoretically retired) professional killer, who was more than capable of making her disapproval of any unwanted advances rather painfully clear. The fact that Chloe only had the use of one arm and one leg at the moment would only slow her down, not stop her.

Chloe took the fork from his hand and pulled him down so that he was leaning with in reach. She carefully tucked the fork into his pocket.

"If you wanted to ask me out, you could have done so in a normal fashion. But I appreciate the thought." She said. Then she kissed him.

Lorenz Keel was a hunted man, and he knew it. To the best of his knowledge, he was the only member of the Human Instrumentality Committee still alive. All of the others had been killed by parties unknown, one by one. It didn't take that much effort to figure out that he would be next.

He had been so close to starting Instrumentality! If the Third Child had died as he'd supposed to, or even been delayed another minute at most, the MP Evas could have destroyed EVA-02. With that Unit down, they could have easily overwhelmed Unit 01 and initiated Third Impact as he had planned. All of his plans ruined because one little girl had refused to let his men kill her brother.

"Who do these Noir people think they are?" He cursed rhetorically.

"Noir… It is the name of an ancient fate… Two maidens that govern death… The peace of the newly-born, their black hands protect." A voice said.

Keel looked up to see the face of Kirika Yumura. Knowing the reason she was there without needing to ask, he rose to his feet and charged her, hoping that he could knock her down and flee before she could fire.

He wasn't nearly fast enough.

Doctor Louis Descroix walked through his laboratory. Some members of the Soldat leadership had tried to blame him for the fact that the clone he had created had gone rogue and killed one of their own. It wasn't his fault that they couldn't remember that the single greatest problem with weapons that can think for themselves was that they had an unfortunate tendency to think for themselves.

The leadership hadn't been in touch with him lately. He supposed it might have something to do with his perceived disgrace, but the contacts had shut off far more abruptly than he had expected. Oh, well, that just meant he had more time to perform his own research instead of other peoples.

The door opened, and a figure walked in. Descroix looked at the woman angrily. What in the world did she think she was doing walking in here dressed like that? This was supposed to be a clean room! He didn't exactly have Angel specimens to spare, and here this interloper was contaminating the lab by walking around in unsterilized street clothes.

Mireille interrupted his thoughts with a bullet to the head before ransacking the lab for the container holding the original sample of Adam and destroying the remaining clones of Chloe.

Henri Chaban was a florist who had lived in Corsica his entire life. He had lived a quiet life, and knew just about everyone in his neighborhood. As such, it was an unusual event for a stranger to walk into his shop.

The customer wore a long black jacket, with a hood that obscured the face. Henri didn't know why she was trying to conceal herself. There normally wasn't anything remotely secretive about buying flowers.

"Are you new to the area?" He asked, trying to make small talk as he cut a bouquet of a dozen lilies.

"Just visiting. I'm here to pay my respects to someone." The girl replied.

"And who would that be?"

"The single bravest person I've ever met."

As the girl paid for the flowers, Henri caught a glimpse of the face under the hood. He recognized the face immediately. The face of France's greatest living hero, who was the ward of the daughter of what had once been a very highly regarded family of Corsica. Who on the island had managed to earn such an accolade from a girl who once attacked an Angel with nothing but a pair of broken spectacles and won?

Yves Robillard was a graveyard caretaker. He lived a quiet life tending the graves, often going days or weeks without seeing anyone else during his working hours. Unless there was a funeral scheduled, the only visitors to come by were the occasional mourners. He certainly wasn't expecting to see a celebrity walk into his graveyard. He watched as the girl the media had called Jeanne D'Arc's spiritual successor wandered through the graves, apparently searching for one grave in particular. She stopped at a double headstone, leaving the bouquet of lilies she carried on one side of it.

"It's funny, isn't it," Kirika said to the grave. "I never agreed to honor your last request, but in the end I ended up doing so anyway.

"I don't know what possessed you to entrust your daughter's safety to me after what I did, but because you had the courage to defy Altena, you may have saved the world. If you had given in to Altena's demands, I would never have been able to break free of Les Soldats. The odds that I would still be alive would only be two in three. I might never have gone to Tokyo-3, never become a pilot, and never realized that I still had a family that cared for me. I can't even begin to imagine how differently the last battle would have turned out if it wasn't for things that happened because Noir was there.

"Over the years, I've lost track of how many people I've killed. I can't even recall how many hundreds of people I've killed. But one thing was different about you. Most of the people I've killed show fear, anger, or surprise when death came for them. A few of them were resigned. But you were the only one who looked her death in the eye with a smile, knowing exactly why you were going to die, and accepting that fate with no regrets. I can only hope that I can look back on my life with the same confidence when my end comes."

Kirika turned and headed out of the graveyard. As she passed through the gates, she unzipped her jacket and tossed it into the air, where it was caught by the wind and blown into a tree. Yves grumbled about that. Just because she was a heroine didn't mean that she could litter. But before he retrieved the ladder to deal with the jacket, he looked at the grave the girl had visited. Who was the person who had had such an impact on the life of her own murderess, so as to change her into a hero? He gasped when he recognized the name of a woman who had been very well known before her death ten years before.

Odette Feyder Bouquet


Kirika made her way back to the boat where Mireille was waiting, taking care to avoid other people whenever possible. She doubted that the French would ever realize that their efforts to place her on a pedestal was the reason she was planning to never return to their country again once this job was over if she could help it. Fame was something she had been conditioned to avoid for most of her life, and she found hero worshipping to be embarrassing.

But despite that, the original plan she had had when she became a pilot, of getting her face altered surgically and returning to her old profession under a new name, didn't appeal to her anymore. While the absolute anonymity of her former career would get her away from unwanted admirers, it would also return her to the absolute loneliness she dreaded above all else.

She didn't want to return to a life where she didn't dare make a friend for fear that they would be killed by her enemies. She didn't want to return to a life where she could walk through a crowd and still be totally alone. She wanted a life where she had a home, not just a place where she slept. She wanted a life where she could enjoy herself without worrying about potential ambushes around every corner.

It was time for Noir to fade back into the shadows. Kirika wanted to live her own life for a change.

Kaede Shimizu had been living under an assumed identity for months. She had effectively been placed in a witness protection program even though she didn't have the slightest idea what she had witnessed. Had her life not been in danger, it might have been funny.

It wasn't until after the Battle of Tokyo-3 that anyone had gotten around to explaining to her what the death of her colleagues and the attempt on her own life were really about. She still had trouble believing that she had been sentenced for death because she had inadvertently and unknowingly seen a doomsday weapon during the course of an emergency surgical procedure.

But her long months of hiding were finally over. She had just been informed that the various conspiracies that had tried to kill her were no longer in a position to threaten her. She could return to her old name and her old life. There was only one loose end to tie up: Since she was the only surgeon to have ever removed an S2 organ, the JDA had called on her to perform the procedure a second time.

Kaede wasn't someone who watched the news regularly. So as she scrubbed for surgery, she wondered who she was supposed to be operating on. As a result of this, she was rather surprised when she recognized the girl wheeled into the surgical theater.

"Nice to see you again, Doctor." Chloe said, just before being placed under anesthesia.

Time passed. The government investigation of the attack on Tokyo-3 concluded. Most of the soldiers were considered too junior to be in a position to question the dubious legality of the orders to attack in the first place. Virtually all of the officers high enough in rank to be in a position to question those orders were dead, making any possible court-martials a moot point. Major Sanchez was not charged with anything as he had gone on record as questioning many of the details of his orders.

But even though none of the surviving soldiers were charged with anything for attacking Tokyo-3 in the first place, that did not get them off the hook for any acts of criminal misconduct committed during the attack. Numerous war crimes, mainly of murdering civilians and/or combatants trying to surrender, had been reported, and verified by NERV's security footage. While a significant number of the perpetrators were later killed in the fighting, over a hundred of the survivors found themselves facing a firing squad.

After much debate, it was decided that Kozo Fuyutsuki would be confirmed as the new Commander of NERV. Not that this promotion meant anything. By the time that the debate ended, SEELE's records had been tracked down, revealing that all of the Angels had been killed. Upon formally assuming command, Fuyutsuki was ordered to decommission the Evangelions and destroy all of the remaining Angel tissue samples, so that they could never be used as weapons of war again. And so, two months after the Battle of Tokyo-3, Chloe, the pilots, and variety of officials from NERV and the international community gathered on the Over the Rainbow to watch the destruction of the remains of the Angels, and with it the official end of the Angel War.

They turned to watch as a series of planes flew over the small island where the unarmored Evangelions and Angelic remnants were laid out. One by one, the planes dropped N2 mines on the island. An hour after the bombardment started, there were no remaining traces of the Angels on the now mostly submerged island. The war was over.

"It's finally over." Shinji said.

Asuka nodded. "Funny, but I just realized. I've spent my entire life fighting this war or training for it. Now that it's over, what do I do with the rest of my life?"

"I suppose I could go back to my old job, but since it's illegal, and everyone knows what I look like, that could be difficult." Chloe added in.

"You have more options than that cousin. Some movie producers have decided that you and the Fourth have set a new standard in action films between the battle footage and what Kensuke recorded at school. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't try to hire you two. Well, if they knew where Kirika was, anyway."

"I'll have to keep that in mind." Kirika said as she walked up behind them.

Shinji spun around. "Imouto!"

"Where have you been, Fourth Child?" Asuka asked.

"Just tying up a few loose ends."

After the destruction of the remains of the Angels, the crowds gathered below decks so that the dignitaries could make speeches. Kirika slipped away into a side room during the third speech. Chloe and the pilots followed. There they found Kaji and Mireille moving some crates.

"Why exactly did you want the teams examining the Soldat Manor to send us these crates?" Kaji asked.

"These crates hold the results of the only skill that Chloe and I learned from Altena that had nothing to do with assassination. It seemed appropriate that we use them when the speeches finally end." Kirika answered.

Mireille pried open one of the crates and removed a wine bottle. "This is…" She began.

"Chateau de Soldats Pinot Noir 2013," Chloe answered as she saw the label. "The last vintage Kirika and I helped make before the Trials began."

"Come on, we'll have to hurry to get these all out in time for the toast." Kirika said.

While some of the dignitaries were surprised by the fact that the victory toast was made with wine instead of champagne, nobody had any complaints about the quality of the beverage. Chloe commented that if all their other career options fell through, they might be able to start up a winery in the GeoFront. With NERV being shut down, there was plenty of room down there, and concept of a totally climate controlled vineyard would make raising the notoriously difficult to cultivate pinot noir grapes a lot easier – as would being able to use labor-saving machinery instead of doing everything by hand.

That evening, as the carrier slowly steamed to a point where all the VIPs could fly back to the mainland and start heading home, Kirika and Shinji stood on the deck, watching the stars.

"Things sure have changed a lot for us, haven't they, imouto?" Shinji asked.

Kirika nodded. "This time last year, you spent most of your time hoping you could go someplace I wasn't in the belief that you could see me, while I was fighting for my life for reasons I didn't understand, with only a gun, a watch, and a fake ID as clues to who I even was. I certainly didn't expect my life to turn out the way it did."

Kirika held her watch in her black gloved hand. Then she pulled out an old student ID and forcibly wedged it inside the watch. She threw the watch into the air and drew her Beretta, shooting at the watch. The bullets struck the watch, causing it to break apart as it fell into the water. As sailors on the deck turned to see why a gun had been fired, Kirika held up her pistol and threw it overboard. Then she stripped off her gloves and did the same with them. Shinji noticed that his sister no longer had black hands and realized exactly what she had just given up for him.

For the first time in over a decade, Kirika Ikari looked at her brother. "I'm home, aniki."

Shinji took his sister in his arms. "Welcome home, imouto."

What would happen next and where they would go from here were questions that they would need to face, but at the moment, Shinji didn't care. His sister was home, and all was right with the world.

A/N: It's been two and a half years since I started this, but it's finally complete. Personally, I think it came out rather well.

I know a lot of people didn't care for how Rei turned out. I still believe that if Shinji had not decided to involve himself in Rei's life, she would have remained Gendo's loyal servant to the end simply because it would never have occurred to her to be anything else. And when I decided to resurrect and redeem Chloe (Who really got the short end of the stick in canon. She was a very interesting character up until the moment she went insane), I knew I had to have Rei as a villain to face her in a duel of Nephilim. If I ever write another Eva fic (Which I'm not planning to do at present), I'll try to be nicer to Rei in that one.

I originally planned for the story to end Chloe/Kirika, but I decided against it for the reasons mentioned in the chapter. The main differences in that ending would be that Chloe fails to stab Rei, and is forced to defeat her by using the fork on her own S2 organ, causing her to explode, taking Rei with her. At the end of the story, Chloe III wakes up in a hospital to be greeted by her cousin. After Asuka leaves, Chloe receives a bouquet of Alpine Roses (her favorite flower), accompanied with a fork, indicating that Kirika is willing to give the latest Chloe a chance.

From here I will be returning to work on my other multi-chapter fic, Child of Hope, which I haven't updated in nearly two years while I was working on this. I don't expect to be starting any more stories until I've made some progress on that one.

My thanks to Black Ace 0, CJNyfalt (review #200!), SulliMike23, Barricade, Kiros Razer and James Axelrad for the reviews, and very special thanks to Hideaki Anno and Koichi Mashimo for creating the series which this story is based off of.