Chapter 5: As if Unto a Dream, Falling into a Nightmare
Disclamer: part 1
Asuka had heard something fall in Shinji's room. She had wanted to let him rest some after the unexpectedly hectic lunch. Something in her however screamed out that there was a problem. When Shinji didn't respond to her knocking on the door she opened it and looked inside. What she saw filled her with dread. Shinji was curled up on his bed, cold sweat covering his whole body. Asuka raced to the bed and put her hand to his head.
His entire body seemed as if it were on fire. Asuka tried to get him to relax enough for her to pick him up and carry him out but he wouldn't. Asuka tried to wake him but nothing happened as her heart filled with terror. She screamed, "HIKARI!"
Hikari ran into the room, gasping at the scene. Asuka looked up at her and yelled, "Call Rei and get her over her now!"
Hikari nodded and ran off, leaving Asuka to continue her efforts.
Shinji's mind was assaulted by images no human could bare. The site of his friends bodies torn to shreds, blood and bone covering a dark battlefield. He faced another boy, almost exactly like him save for the malicious grin and the soulless eyes. The boy's eyes were red, like Rei's. The hand however were covered in blood, and Shinji felt him self become sick as he watched this nightmarish figure lick it from it's hands. Shinji looked around quickly, looking for an escape. But all around him were bodies, or parts of bodies. The creature in human form giggled as Shinji spun back facing him. His eyes widened as the thing had Asuka in its grip, the hands clawing at her neck.
"You escaped my brother, but none of you will survive for much longer. I will enjoy violating this one before your eyes as I rip her apart," the abomination said, just as it ripped Asuka's throat out.
Shinji could do nothing but scream.
Shinji shot up in bed, he didn't know where he was or what was happening around him. He didn't care. He had to be sure, had to see. When the arms wrapped around him and pulled him close he could hear a heart beat, and the strand of red hair in his vision did more then enough to calm him. She was safe, alive, and holding him as tight as she could. He didn't care that she would scream at him if he even touched her. All he could do was wrap his arms around her waist and hold on as tight as he could.
Rei had been looking him over, checking his vital signs for any indication of what happened. Hikari was standing just behind the other two. Rei gently placed her hands on his shoulders and slowly got him to lay back down. She started looking him over, taking his pulse and checking to see if his pupils responded like they should. She asked, "What do you remember?"
"I just turned on my SDAT and some kind of noise was on the tape. Then it was like the world fell out from under me. I just saw bodies all around, torn up bodies all over," Shinji answered, his voice wavering. Asuka had her hand on his and squeezed it.
"There was a shadow of some kind, it had red eyes and was holding Asuka by the neck. It killed her," he couldn't repeat what the shadow had said.
Rei nodded, and smiled lightly at him, "Rest now, we'll talk about it more later."
Shinji nodded and tried to lay back. Rei stood up and looked at the discarded player on the floor. She picked it up and asked Asuka to step outside with her. Hikari stayed in the room and sat down next to the boy to watch over him. The other two women walked into the common area far enough away from the others to not be heard. Rei put one of the ear buds in her ears and listened to the tape. If she was pale before she looked like a corpse now. The sounds on the tape spoke to a part of her she always tried to keep in check. It also confirmed her worst fears.
"It's some imprint from an Angel. I was so hoping he was wrong and this was just some odd phenomenon we had never encountered before," Rei said.
"Hoped who was wrong?" Asuka asked, knowing she wouldn't like the answer.
"Gendo Ikari. When I informed him of the situation he was convinced it had to do with the Twelfth Angel. I didn't want to believe it, we've had such a good run," Rei said. She gathered up her things quickly and made for the door.
"I'm stepping up training and sync tests for all pilots starting now. Shinji will remain on the roster as a back up just in case. It's up to the rest of us to make sure it never comes to that," Rei said, the urgency apparent in her voice.
Asuka nodded, "If this experiment I'll be overseeing in Matushiro does what we hope it will do then we might not need to worry."
Rei shook her head, "We can't count on any of our experiments working out as we hope and expect to survive now. Our time of preparation is at an end. I've improved the neural transfer process beyond even Akagi's wildest dreams but it still might not be enough. I..." Rei couldn't finish that sentence.
"What is it?" Asuka asked.
Rei closed her eyes, "I'm going to ask Commander Katsuragi to authorize transfer of Gendo Ikari to Nerv under my direct authority. He's the only one who has any idea what the remnants of SEELE might plan when the Angel's return."
Asuka frowned, "Do you honestly think you can trust him?"
Rei walked out of the apartment, her answer quiet and almost lost, "No, but we don't have a choice."
Shinji lay there trying to keep himself calm. Hikari was running her fingers through his hair trying to help the young boy relax. Shinji smiled as Hikari told him about her and Touji's coming wedding. He was happy they had found some happiness together. However it made a part of him feel sad, the uncertainty of his life coming back for a moment.
"So when is the wedding?" Shinji asked.
Hikari blushed, "We're still trying to decide that."
"Why don't you tell him if you're wearing white or not?" a voice came from the doorway. Asuka stood there smirking as Hikari squirmed uncomfortably. The brunette quickly excused herself as Asuka chuckled. "The way she is with that old Stooge you'd think she would be less embarrassed by the implication."
Asuka sat down on the side of the bed and placed her hand on Shinji's cheek, "How are you holding up so far?"
Shinji sighed, "Everything is so different, everyones changed."
Asuka smiled lightly, "Time does that to people and places."
"I just... I don't... " Shinji stuttered. He just couldn't get his feelings in order. The more people he saw the more distraught his mind became.
"I don't expect you to be able to put this all together at once. It's too much for anyone to handle, especially if it's happening to you," Asuka said.
Shinji sighed as Asuka ran her fingers through his hair. The simple touch seemed to make him feel better as he relaxed into the bed. Asuka bent down and kissed his forehead, causing the boy to blush a bit as he slowly feel into a peaceful slumber. Asuka sat there for a moment longer, just watching him rest.
Misato sat behind her desk just glaring at the man in front of her. It had been a meeting she had been in once before though the roles had been reversed. Now she sat behind the desk, her chin resting in her clasped hands as Gendo Ikari stood before her in shackles. She loathed the man with every fiber of her being. Her two best friends were dead because of him. Her children suffered for his crazed desires. If it were possible she would have put a bullet in his head right then and there. Rei however had the good sense to have hidden her side arm before the meeting.
The silence stretched for what seemed like forever before Misato said, "You will be under constant guard. You will not be allowed anywhere near the Evangelion cages, Central Dogma, or Terminal Dogma. When you are not working with Doctor Ayanami you will be confined to the quarters assigned to you. Any attempt to escape, or to interfere with any of our operations will be met with lethal force. Do you understand?"
"Of course," was his only response.
Misato sneered and spoke to the guards, "Take him to Dr. Ayanami's office. She will join you shortly."
As soon as the guards had taken Ikari from the room Misato turned on Rei, "I don't like this."
"I am less then pleased with the situation myself Commander, however if I am right we will need his knowledge in order to avert what is coming," Rei said.
"He was going to do the same thing SEELE was using you. If he had pulled it off I wouldn't be sitting here looking at the woman you've grown into. I don't even like the thought of him even being in the Geo-Front, anywhere he might..." Misato's voice drifted off slightly.
"Where he might run into Shinji." Rei said, finishing the thought for her. Neither spoke for a while as they looked at each other.
"Make sure he can't get anywhere near Shinji, above everything else Rei."
"Of course, it's our job to protect him after all," Rei said with a slight smile.
It was different then before. No pushing for better scores on sync tests, no sudden calls in the night. It was simply a normal life for the last two weeks. He kept with his routine, getting up early and preparing breakfast for him and the other residents of the apartment. He didn't have to feed Pen-Pen though, the penguin had moved with his owner. Hikari helped around the apartment, this being her home now as well.
Hikari was a bit shocked that the apartment's cleanliness had risen even more then her normal cleaning usually provided. Shinji's almost obsessive compulsive cleaning worried Hikari. Asuka however wasn't worried at all. She would have been even more worried then her friend if he didn't go to the extremes he was to keep things clean. To keep them eating properly. He was using work as a place to hide from the reality he had been thrown into.
Asuka figured it be best to let him hold on to those routines she had mocked long ago. If anything it kept him busy, though Asuka watched him closely. She knew he was on the edge on good days before, she didn't know what state he might be in now. Ironically, she had now taken up Misato's old role of guardian for the boy. With one difference.
She would ensure he never got inside the entry plug of an Eva again as long as she could. Hell, she might even help him get a date or something of that nature. She wouldn't mind acting the role of big sister to him, it felt right in a way. Though she still needed to talk with him if only to lift a burden from her own soul. If she could bring herself to let go of him that was. Asuka shook her head, trying to clear those thoughts from her mind. Now wasn't the time, if there ever would be a time for them.
Shinji finished his cleaning and put everything back. Asuka smiled as she pulled a can of juice out of the fridge and handed him one. Shinji sipped his drink softly as she sat at the table. They hadn't had that many conversations about everything that had occurred. It had been easier to try to just be, and yet the hardest thing in the world.
Asuka broke the silence, "So what do you think you'll do with all the free time you'll have?"
Shinji just shrugged, "I don't really know. I still have to go to school right?"
Asuka nodded, "But you won't have to do as many things related to NERV. You are backup but only in a worst case scenario. As such you don't have to do as many tests as the rest of us, just enough so we know you'll be ready in a pinch. So you are going to have a lot of time to do whatever you want."
Shinji just shook his head, "It's hard to accept a change like this so quickly."
"I know, but you'll make it through. The best way to handle the unusual is to adapt and move forward," Asuka said with a smile on her face.
Shinji let out a chuckle at that, "You almost sound like Misato."
Asuka grinned, "Who do you think told me that?"
"As long as I'm not dragging you to bed tonight like I had to do with her," Shinji simply said.
Shinji flinched for a second as he realized what he had just said. Asuka was going to freak out and smack him for that. And now she had a good te years on him and it was really going to hurt. He looked up blushing but noticed something else that made him just as nervous. Asuka was smirking at him like Misato used to before she teased him.
"Would you rather I was dragging you to my bed?"
Shinji just stuttered for a second, his face taking on a deeper shade of red. Asuka decided to have mercy on him, "Don't worry, unlike Misato I never did get a taste of alcohol like that. I drink but I won't go that far."
Asuka stood up and walked behind Shinji. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly, "Oh Shinji, things are going to be so much better I promise. Hell, when me and Rei get back from Matushiro none of us may have to ride an Eva to finish this war."
Shinji tensed for a moment at the contact, but slowly relaxed into her embrace, "It's just... a blink of an eye and everything changes."
"I know that feeling all too well."
Gendo Ikari was many things, but chief among them was a man obsessed with details. Even the slightest variance of one variable in an equation could throw everything off. He'd spent the last several hours going over the scrolls predictions of the Twelfth Angel. Every single word he retranslated and reinterpreted until he was satisfied he had every line as accurate as he could get it. The door behind him opened but he barely acknowledged it. He did note that two people had entered in behind him. One person was seemingly assisted with a cane.
"So they pulled you in on this as well, Professor."
"And here I was enjoying my retirement on a nice piece of land near a lake. Had a shrine near the top of a hill I was thinking of having restored too.," Kozo Fuyutsuki said.
"If I ever have time outside a top secret holding facility I may offer my assistance," Gendo said.
Kozo just threw him a look, "Can you ever use a hammer?"
Gendo smirked, "Of course, I had to pay my way through college somehow."
Gendo finally turned to face the pair, "Rei, read this segment of the scrolls and tell me what it says."
Rei bent down and said, "And so shall come to pass, the Third Child shall fall into the abyss of the Angel Lieliel. He shall be made to face the darkness in his soul alone, without aide from his companions. To escape he must defeat not the enemy without, but within."
"I remember our first interpretation of that involved Unit-01 being cut off from NERV in some way," Fuyutsuki said.
"We missed something though in the translation. In every other prophecy from the scrolls each child is referenced as well as each Evangelion. The Eva's are referred to as Fallen Angel's siding with man. In this prophecy, I can find no reference at all to an Eva," Gendo said.
"So your interpretation was inaccurate?" Rei asked.
Gendo shook his head, "No, not inaccurate, incomplete. SEELE and myself completely ignored the missing reference to the Fallen Angels. We thought it didn't matter, that it was simply going to mean Unit-01 was incapacitated. However, recent events seem to have proven us wrong."
Fuyutsuki nodded in understanding, "So where does that leave all our other interpretations?"
Gendo shook his head, "I haven't retranslated them yet. However, I think it's safe to say that we will want to reevaluate each one with this new information."
Rei nodded, "Then we should begin quickly. I must go to Matushiro soon for the Dummy Plug test with Unit-05 in three days."
Gendo and Fuyutsuki shared a look, "You may want to postpone that, or do the activation and testing remotely."
"No, Soryu and I must be on site to evaluate. Continue your work, I have to consult the MAGI on the sensor log data," Rei said.
As Rei left Kozo turned to his former student, "So they pulled us both out of retirement to stare at ancient texts and just tell them what we think they mean now as opposed to when we were in charge?"
"Seem that way, Professor."
Kozo was silent for a moment, "Have you seen him yet?"
"No, and I doubt I will be allowed to even get within ten meters of him."
"Still, they could have gotten two other old men for this work," Fuyutsuki said as he eased himself into a chair.
"Perhaps, but we are the only two Old Men they can shoot without feeling any remorse," Gendo said, his voice devoid of any humor.
"Thanks, I really needed to be reminded of that," Fuyutsuki said. He leaned back in his chair and rubbed his eyes. "I'm getting too old for this shit."
It was the first day back at school for Shinji. As a favor, Nozomi and Mari showed up to walk with him to the school. Hikari was already on her way to classes at the College, while Touji hitched a ride in to NERV with Asuka. Rei had planned a full day of tests for all primary pilots, which included him. He was sipping coffee when he said, "So how do you think Shinji's going to hold up at school?"
"I figure he'll be alright. No one will be bothering him for details from NERV. Hell, as far as the kids in his class will know he's just another transfer. Not like last time," Asuka said.
Touji couldn't help but chuckle, "No, I suppose there won't be a gaggle of girls wanting to know if he's the new pilot."
Asuka smirked, "Or any big Neanderthals punching him in the face when it was his first time ever behind the wheel."
"Good point, Red."
Asuka couldn't help but chuckle, "How long do you think before Nozomi's trying to snare him as her boyfriend?"
Touji threw her a smirk back, "Five hundred yen says she started the moment they hit the elevator."
"Maybe I should tell Hikari or your low opinion of her younger sisters morals," Asuka said, feigning offense.
Touji just threw back, "If Hikari was here she'd probably put even money on her dragging him into a broom closet first chance she got."
Asuka chuckled as she turned into the car train. The long trip to the base of the Geo-Front was as dull as usual. Asuka didn't like the silence during the trip down, "How's Mari?"
Touji sighed, "She's alright."
"I saw how she was looking at Shinji," Asuka said.
"She's still got some issues."
Asuka nodded, "Don't we all. Some of us have had years to deal with them."
"Doesn't mean they're all gone," Touji interjected.
"No, doesn't mean it at all. But we can try to put them behind us."
Touji decided to change the subject, things were getting a bit heavy for him, "So you and Rei are heading to Matushiro today?"
"Yea, here's hoping that Dummy system of hers works out like we hope," Asuka said.
Touji shook his head, "Not sure I'd trust a computer to be able to fight something as unpredictable as the Angels."
Asuka smirked, "Maybe, but at the very least if something happens to one of us and we need to get back quick..."
"Then we've got a built in designated driver," Touji conceded.
Once the car was parked they separated, Touji to head in for a training sim in Unit-03 and Asuka to join Rei and Misato. After a brief update and a cup of coffee with the pair, Rei and Asuka left on their way to Matushiro testing center. Fortunately they avoided any unwanted attention from all quarters. Misato went down to the secured area the former commanders were sequestered.
"You two have anything for me today?" Misato asked, her voice cold.
Kozo raised an eyebrow slightly while Gendo answered, "You may wish to keep Unit's 02 and 03 on standby during the test today."
Misato glared at him, "You think we'll have problems?"
Gendo simply looked up, his expression blank as he said, "As much faith as I have in Rei's abilities, the prophecies we based many thing upon always indicated that an Evangelion may be invade by one of the Angel's. The Dummy Plug test would be the perfect opportunity."
She accepted the logic, "Alright, just in case we'll remain at level 2 alert. I don't want to cause a panic until we have to."
She left them after that, not allowing either man a chance to argue with her. Kozo stood and leaned on his cane, "You didn't tell her the whole story behind the prophecy of the Thirteenth."
Gendo turned and looked at him, "She wouldn't listen to anything I had to say on the subject, we both know that."
Kozo nodded, "At least I can enjoy some tea while we wait."
Asuka and Rei stood on the control area at the Matushiro testing facility, Unit-05's bone white armor glaring on them. Asuka grimaced and said, "Can't we at least repaint these things?"
Rei said, "I would work on it if I didn't have other priorities that took precedence."
"Still, damn things give me the creeps," Asuka grumbled.
"I will put it on my too do list."
Asuka stood in the back of the control room while Rei took charge of the experiment. Everything seemed to be going well as they brought the Evangelion on-line. Rei was about to start the testing of the Dummy Plugs automatic commands when alarms went off all over the base. Unit-05 broke free of it's restraints and started tearing through the facility. She was about to order it all shut down when the system reported something she hadn't seen in ten years.
The last thing she saw before the control center fell down around her ears was the system warning of a detected Blue pattern.
To Be Continued...
Authors Notes: New Chapter, HORRAY! I ask you all to enjoy it, pump up my ego, maybe if you've never read any of my other fics please read and review them as well. You can get an idea of how things have changed over the years. Also take the time to check out the polls for "Insubordination" on my profile.
Thanks to ZeroBD and Ryan