Past, as it will be Tomorrow
Things, gradually, settled down at the labs in Tokyo-3. Development continued on the Evangelion as Yui, Kyoko and Naoko worked together, both there and in Berlin. Yui and Kyoko, through their contacts at SEELE got more access to the Dead Sea Scrolls, and finally determined the exact date the Angels would come.
With a firm deadline Yui and the others forged a plan, even as the younger generation made their own decisions.
Despite her issues with her mother, Ritsuko Akagi decided to go into the sciences, rather than being a pilot. With her innate intelligence she soared through classes in high school then university. Unlike her mother she pursued pure computer sciences, not wanting to linger in her mother's shadow. One year after completing her second Masters degree she designed the Magi 2.0, which soon replaced NERV's computer systems, while she joined the staff as head of computer operations.
Misato Katsuragi took a different path, which sprung from her own analysis of the situation. While she willingly acknowledged the importance of science in their struggle, she also saw there would be a combat component. Obviously the Evangelion would have to be piloted to fight, after all. Joining the ROTC program she completed a PHD in history, focusing her thesis on military strategy in the post impact wars, then enlisted formally in the military.
Maya Ibuki had more time in high school to finish than her comrades, but as soon as she graduated she got busy. Instead of focusing on a single discipline she digested what she learned of the primary jobs in NERV, and attempted to give herself a basic knowledge in all of them. The ultimate generalist she was determined to be able to assist in any function at NERV.
Meanwhile Yui transitioned the research group into a semi-military organization called NERV. She, Naoko and Kyoko in Berlin developed the Unit-02 and Unit-03, designating the first Evangelion both Unit-01 and their test type. In addition to the basic armor and technology the three brainstormed on other advances for the Evangelions, even as their lives continued on.
Kyoko Zeppelin Soryu chose to have her daughter, whom she had conceived several years ago via artificial insemination, sent to NERV to keep Rei Ikari and Shinji Ikari company, while she worked on developing an advanced Unit-03. Young Asuka was not there when the contact experiment damaged Kyoko's mind, and after her mother's suicide the child was adopted by Yui Ikari.
Naoko Akagi was shaken by her friend's death (they had become close, oddly enough) almost as much by the near destruction of her relationship with her daughter. While remaining head of Project E she spent more effort on building the relationship with her daughter than on work. While Yui missed the obsessively dedicated Naoko she was glad for her and Ritsuko, and helped carry the load along with her duties as commander.
When Misato returned as a Lieutenant in the JSSDF in 2014 she was quickly appointed as liaison to NERV by 'Supreme Commander Yui Ikari' a title which she found something of a riot. Almost as soon as she arrived she realized that the Evangelion would need pilots, and that Shinji, Asuka and Rei would be the right ages when the Angels attacked in 2016.
THAT lead to the first real fight between Yui and Misato.
No one, including Misato, wanted to see children piloting Evangelion, but there was literally no choice. An adult brain could not safely take the stresses of connecting to the Evangelion, suffering physical damage as a result. Every attempt to pilot with an adult led to death and failure, and the Evangelion were literally the only thing standing between humanity and destruction.
Yui wanted no part in having 'her kids' pilot Evangelion, but she also knew if it wasn't her children, it would be someone else's. So when she finally agreed, with great reluctance, she insisted on Misato devising and overseeing a training program for the three kids. If she was going to send these kids out to fight, she wanted them as prepared as humanly possible.
Misato, of course, agreed with that completely.
Shinji, Rei and Asuka ceased splitting time between Tokyo-3 and Yui's cousin's country home, moving to the city full time. All were entered into the local high school for socialization, then in the evenings and weekends were put into a training program designed by 'Aunt Misato.' Within a week they hated Misato's guts, and after the physical conditioning they wanted to die. But all three rallied, supporting each other as Misato planned, and she felt a deep sense of satisfaction as they muttered nasty things about her under her breath.
Part of Misato's serenity came from her own living situation, of course. It's very hard to worry about teenagers being annoyed with you when you were living with two other loving women. Yui as 'team mom' had seen the growing depth of Maya, Ritsuko and Misato's feelings and had given them her blessing, while suggesting they be discrete. In the aftermath of Second Impact family units had changed a great deal, but there were people who might disapprove.
Surprisingly, Naoko Akagi wasn't one of them. As she strove to bridge the distance between her and her daughter Ritsuko, she inevitably grew to know Misato and Maya too. Whatever else you could say about the two women she realized that they loved Ritsuko deeply and unconditionally. More she discovered she liked both women, and the first time one of them called her 'mom' she had been filled with happiness.
But as the staff of NERV seized what joy they could, they were all aware of the days counting down. And eventually, the countdown would reach zero and it would be time to see if what they built would indeed do the job.
May 16, 2016
"I am ORDERING you to pull your forces back," Yui said flatly as the commander of NERV faced the generals down, "now. Or I swear I will leak the footage of you allowing troops to be slaughtered by the Angel to parliament and watch your careers go down in flames."
The highest ranking JSSDF general paled as he met Yui's eyes. "You wouldn't dare," he choked out softly.
On the screen behind them the Angel lumbered across the hills leading towards Tokyo-3. Humanoid it had thin arms and legs along with a bulky middle, and a strange almost bird-like face. The strange mechanism in it's arm activated and it blasted down a JSSDF copter with all hands.
"Try me," Yui answered him calmly.
He met her eyes, then looked away. Quickly conferring with the other officers at the section of deck that had been lowered for them in NERV's command center, a decision was soon reached. Squaring his cap he said, "We are surrendering command to NERV." Then he bitterly snarled, "This isn't over, Ikari."
"It had better be over," the voice purred as Misato Katsuragi, Captain in the JSSDF, gave him a very dangerous smile, her hand on the pistol holstered on her side.
The general gave her a deeply frightened look then him, his comrades and staffs raced out of the command center. In the silence there were a chorus of relieved sighs from the staff, and even a few satisfied grins. The officers had NOT gone out of their way to be liked, after all.
"She could have been a bit more subtle," Naoko noted, standing beside her boss on the raised platform above the consoles.
"Misato and subtle don't really mix," Yui noted with some amusement. She sighed, pushing up the glasses she now needed for declining vision, "We'd better win, or they'll be all over us."
"We'll win," Naoko said confidently.
Down below Misato was taking command, shrugging off a army coat and slugging her comfortable red jacket on. "All right, Makoto, Aoba, Maya, bring up the automated defenses. No more casualties, hammer at it with robots!"
"Yes ma'am," Maya nodded, the senior of the three 'bridge bunnies.' Working with the coordination of long practice they brought up the missile installations, remote controlled tanks and battle robots, each one operating a section.
The lumbering robots were the product of a project called Jet Alone, which NERV had quite cheerfully absorbed about a year ago. Their inability to produce a AT Field meant they couldn't really stop or hurt a angel, but the humanoid robots could slow one down. Especially since they were computer controlled and totally unmanned.
"Ritsuko," Misato called down to the lower level were the Magi were based. The three machines hummed away while the still blond scientist studied the data flow and relayed information to the bridge bunnies.
Ritsuko smiled as she pushed her hair back, a gold ring glinting, "Yes Misato?"
Her own gold ring shining as she thumped a console Misato said, "Get Athena, Apollo and Artemis on projecting the Angel's route. I want best insertion points for the Evangelions."
"Got it," Ritsuko agreed.
Maya made a Jet Alone ram the Angel, her matching ring glinting as she detonated the N2 reactor, staggering even the Angel. "It'll reach city limits in ten minutes," she reported.
"Put me through to the launch cages," Yui ordered quietly as Misato managed the ongoing battle to lead the Angel where she wanted it to go.
Three faces appeared on the screen in front of Yui, one her son, the others two young women she had come to love as daughters. Shinji Ikari looked young and serious, his brown hair floating around his face. Asuka Soryu looked confident, her orange hair tied back in a ponytail. And finally Rei Ikari was monitoring the two Evangelion outside, her light blue hair hiding her eyes as she intently worked.
"It's nearly time," Yui said to all three of them, "are you sure you're ready? Ritsuko thinks a N2 mine might do enough damage to slow the Angel..."
"Mom!" Shinji protested, the young man actually rolling his eyes. Patiently he said, "We're ready, mom. Really. We're more than ready."
"Misato's plan isn't fool proof," Asuka jumped in, "no plan is. But I'm confident we can win, even if the plan fails."
"They're right, Mother," Rei said in her formal way, "and if Unit 01 and 02 fail, I'll be ready to deploy in Unit 03. We will win."
Yui sighed, looking at her smiling children. Their innocent confidence and sureness that adults knew best scared her at times, but she couldn't let them know that. So instead she mustered a smile and said, "Then give him hell."
"Will do," Shinji said wolfishly while Asuka smiled.
"Angel approaching city limits," Maya calmly reported as the automated weapons did their work, "Tokyo-3 in full battle mode. Residents are reporting in from shelters, combat buildings are all in position. We're good to go."
"Angel in position?" Misato asked, even though she was fairly certain it was.
"On projected course, one minute to go position," Ritsuko called.
"Readying evangelions for launch," Makoto said as they watched the Angel move forward just as they had hoped.
"Launch!" Yui ordered, and they watched as the twin war machines raced to the surface on electromagnetic rails, emerging to bracket the Angel.
The Angel's beak like head tilted to the side quizzically, almost as if it expected something else, not twin evangelions. It was even more startled as Asuka extended her red evangelion's AT Field and grappled with with the Angel's, neutralizing it. The final surprise came when Shinji brought up his blue evangelion's scaled up rifle and opened fire, tearing through it and piercing the core.
As the angel exploded in a burst of fire and glory Misato grinned, wishing she had a cigar handy. "I love it when a plan comes together," she said.
"Shinji, Asuka, good work," Yui told her kids with a smile, "prepare for retrieval." Sitting back with a relieved sigh she cut the connection then had to ask, "Damage to the city?"
Naoko was checking the exterior views from a terminal by Yui's. "Really very minimal," she said with some satisfaction, "drag away the remains and clear some wrecked armor, and we can raise the city again."
Yui stood up, addressing the whole command center as she said, "Good work, everyone. We've saved the world, at least for today."
"Beers are on me!" Misato called, everyone laughing even as Maya and Ritsuko scolded her.
Even as a impromptu victory celebration Yui sat back, suddenly exhausted. This was just the first attack, she knew, and the Angels would get stronger as time went on. She was surprised by a gentle hand squeezing her shoulder, and looked up at Naoko.
"Worry about tomorrow's fights tomorrow," Naoko told her quietly as she added, "today, we have a victory to celebrate."
Yui smiled back, "Yeah, I guess you're right." She got up as replacement staff were coming on to replace the command crew, "You're pretty smart, for a old lady."
Naoko snorted, remembering how Rei had called her that years ago and it nearly became her nickname at NERV. "Don't you start," she growled, the two old friends walking off together.
Notes: Since I started with Naoko and Yui I wanted to end with a scene featuring them too. Not that I'm not tempted to continue exploring this divergence, but I'm worried I'd end up copying Greg Landsmann's Nobody Dies.
Why a threesome? I'd established earlier that Maya was developing feelings for Ritsuko, and that Ritsuko and Misato were interested in each other. After Second Impact I'm willing to bet marriage customs changed if only to make up for the loss of life, so why not?
Why Asuka Soryu rather than Asuka Ikari? Asuka loved her mother, despite Kyoko being a bit of a ass, and Yui had no intention to try to replace her for Asuka. Yui gave her a loving home and only legally adopted her to keep SEELE from butting in.
Why name the Magi 2.0 after gods? It could be Ritsuko chose the names to symbolize how much more powerful they are compared to the first Magi, or it could be she's just a fan of classical mythology.