To those of you commenting about the tense thing, I know about it and I try and avoid it, but it is endemic to the way I write and it can be impossible at times for me to see the tense shifts, even if they're in the same sentence. Just part of the warped way my brain works at times.

----

The mortification the two of them experienced after Misato gave them 'The Talk' in the morning lasted for days, especially since Misato was so cheerfully nonchalant about the whole thing and seemed completely unashamed about the explicitness of her explanations. They had only been able to stare in mute horror as she showed them where her stash of condoms was located before she proceeded to give a demonstration on how to actually put one on using a banana as reference.

Their protests of "Too much information!" went on deaf ears, and even seemed to egg Misato on. When she started giving tips they had simply run screaming from the apartment, holding their ears.

When they finally stopped running, Shinji could only mutter, "That woman is worse than a Keeper of Secrets I tell you."

"Keeper of Secrets?" Asuka asks while trying to regain her breath next to him.

"Oh, just a mythological creature from my religion, a servant of one of the gods," Shinji explains. "A Keeper of Secrets knows what you want, and can tell you how to get it… for a price."

"That sounds… almost like a demon," Asuka says.

Snickering, "Oh, but the lines betweens daemons and angels are ever so thin. We fight and kill the Angels, so would that not make us the daemons? Besides, things always have a price in life. Every god demands worship, and why should the costs not be explicitly spelled out? There is faith and then there is foolishness."

Asuka shuddered at Shinji's cold, callousness, and she asked, "What did we just pay for back there then?"

"Well, we clearly lost a small portion of our sanity back there. What we gained, I suppose, was a measure of knowledge and safety. Misato… she truly loves and cares for us; she just has a great deal of trouble expressing it appropriately. She is the sort of person that when she sees a challenge she throws herself head-first at it and damn the consequences," Shinji explains.

Sniffing, Asuka says, "I really didn't need to know all that."

Smirking, Shinji points out, "Says the girl who snuck into my room last night to make out. In a way though, I think she is the one being the most mature about this."

Blushing at Shinji's rebuttal, Asuka protests, "I don't think it was appropriate to show us that… banana thing…"

"Oh? And just telling us, 'Don't do anything stupid' would be more appropriate? Sure, she could give us new, separate living quarters, but we still go to school together, still work together. That would simply make the situation worse as we would have to sneak off if we wanted to see each other privately. She wants us to be happy and to be safe, and even if her presentation involved far too much detail, I am glad that she cares enough to actually take responsibility like that. Unlike some people," Shinji says, adding on the last part darkly.

"Yeah, but that whole thing with the t…" Asuka begins before being cut off.

"We will not speak of that," Shinji tells her and she gladly shuts up.

After a few moments of silence, Asuka asks curiously, "So what god would have a… Keeper of Secrets… as a servant?"

"Slaanesh, Prince of Pleasure, although like all the gods in the pantheon, they are many things. A being of intense sensuality, it must be pointed out that there are many forms of pleasure, of sensation. Slaanesh embodies everything from a passionate kiss to the warm feeling of satisfaction an artist gets upon completion of a great work. It is easier for those who do not understand to become lost in the surface aspects of hedonism and dismiss Slaanesh as a corrupt, decadent being. The core of Slaanesh though is to attain perfection. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, these are merely steps on a path," Shinji explains.

Looking at him oddly, Asuka asks, "I thought you said you worshipped something else?"

"I know of Slaanesh, but I do not worship him. I give my faith and prayers to Tzeentch, a god of change and evolution and hope. I move onwards, breaking down boundaries to find the truth of things, to become something more, something greater. On the surface, Tzeentch is the most callous of the gods, as the old is thrown out in favour of the new, but this is merely a surface observation. Tzeentch does not abandon his followers, they abandon him. He is a god of change and motion, and if you do not keep up with him, keep hope alive, then he will outpace you, as is his nature. Only a fool attempts to surf a wave and then curses the wave when he cannot keep up with it. So long as there is hope, you can keep up with him," Shinji explains.

Frowning, Asuka says, "You're right, that does sound callous."

Laughing, Shinji says, "Then perhaps you would like to hear of Tzeentch's rival, Papa Nurgle? Nurgle is a god of decay, despair, and joy. Nurgle is the sort of god that would walk into the paediatric ward of a hospice filled with sick, dying children and read to them instead of healing them, simply because their smiles are more precious to him than their health. He is life without restraint, as cancer is life without restraint, burning away to inevitable oblivion… and enjoying every putrescent moment of it. Rei has recently taken up the path of Nurgle, seeing before her a path to oblivion and deciding to enjoy the journey."

"Ewww…" Asuka says, making a disgusted face.

Shrugging, Shinji says, "She made her choice, who am I to interfere?"

By now though, Asuka was curious, and after a moment of silence, she asks, "I thought there were four gods in your religion? Who's the fourth one?"

Welcome to my parlour said the spider to the fly.

"The War God, the Blood God, Khorne. Khorne is an angry god, but then again, there is so much in life to be angry about. There is a difference between mindless, nihilistic anger and righteous anger. Khorne and his followers rage against the unfairness of life, seek to bring those they perceive as unworthy low. Blood is central to them, but then again, blood is central to many religions. Blood is life; blood is action; blood is sacrifice. Khorne cares not from where the blood flows, whether it comes from a slain enemy or a martyr holding back a dread tide to protect the innocent. The Catholics drink the blood of Jesus to accept his sacrifice, Khorne is similar, only with less drinking and more spilling," Shinji explains.

He watched the thoughts resonate in Asuka's head. They would not take now, but a seed had been planted that over hours and days would grow, and she would yearn to know more.

It was at about that point they realized that they had both forgot their bags back at the apartment and they were already at school.

And there was much raging.

---

Their friends gone to Okinawa, the three pilots had little to do, so today they were swimming laps in the pool, going back and forth, feeling the cool wetness on sliding across their skin and the exertion of their muscles to plough through the water. Eventually it became something of a competition between the three Children, with Asuka quickly pulling ahead before falling behind due to exhaustion.

Between Shinji and Rei, it was a close match. Shinji was stronger than her, but before he had shown her the wonders of Chaos swimming had been her one pleasure in her otherwise dull life, so she had a considerably better technique. Not only that, but she had a boundless endurance.

Ah, going to cheat are you?

It is not cheating; it is merely using an advantage that you do not have.

Good, because I'm going to cheat now.

Instead of swimming like a normal person, Shinji simply used his telekinesis to push himself through the water and push the water out of the way, zipping back and forth between the walls impossibly fast, within a minute gaining such a formidable lead on Rei that she simply stopped mid lap and said, "You win."

Asuka, of course, was gaping open mouthed at Shinji the human supercavitating torpedo. Sliding up next to her, he popped his head out of the water and grinned at her.

"How… what… how did you do that?" Asuka demands urgently.

"Can you keep a secret?" Shinji asks, his grin fading away into a deadly serious tone.

"Uh… yeah…" Asuka replies, noticing the way Rei had slid up quietly behind her.

The grin returning, Shinji says, "Why do you think they need children to pilot the Evas? Specifically, why do they need children born after Second Impact?"

"It is because Second Impact changed humanity," Rei says softly while rising up her palm to show a perfect sphere of water suspended there.

Wide eyed, Asuka did not even get off a proper response before she heard Shinji say in a funny voice, "The Children are indeed special."

Turning to him, she just saw him smiling at her, and then he said, without moving his lips or throat, "What?"

"You… you…" Asuka stutters.

"Shinji is far better at it than I, I can only broadcast to him," Rei tells her.

"Come now Asuka, you've always known you were special, you just didn't know how special until now. After everything you've seen, do you think that the possession of psychic abilities are really that strange?" Shinji asks.

Sliding about in the water around her, he says, "In fact, do you not think it unusual that Toji suffered such an explosive nosebleed right when you were so embarrassed by Rei? That sort of explosive nose bleeding doesn't really happen in real life."

"But… but… what?" Asuka asks, suddenly feeling very small.

"Oh, relax, you did minimal damage in the long run, and you already in fact have a measure of control over your abilities simply because you can pilot an Eva. You simply need to learn more control," Shinji explains. "This is something I can teach you."

"He taught me," Rei says softly.

"Indeed. Tell me, why do you think Rei took up worship of Nurgle?" Shinji asks.

Looking between the two of them, Asuka asks, "Is it because your religion helps with control over your abilities?"

"Bingo. Our abilities are based around control and manipulation of emotion, and the gods are beings that are made of emotion. Their teachings are useful," Shinji says slyly.

"How?" Asuka asks.

"Tzeentch tells us that there are no coincidences. If you agree to keep this secret then I will teach you about this, fair? If you do not agree, I will brute force my way into your mind and surgically remove this conversation from your memories. I do not appreciate being considered a freak, or people trying to use more than they already do now that I'm a pilot. I do believe you can appreciate those sentiments," Shinji explains.

Asuka suddenly had a more pressing concern on her mind.

"Hey! Wait a minute! Were you screwing around with my mind when… you…" Her protest was suddenly shut down as Shinji's eyes glowed with a lambent blue fire and the water of pool precipitously dropped in temperature, even forming little feathers of ice about him.

You would know it if I did anything more powerful than simply read your surface thoughts, even if it was by the sections of memory that were simply gone.

Shinji then let all that power build up slowly bleed back out into the environment, his point quite clearly made. The serious look also bled away, leaving him with a grin. Gently pushing a lock of hair out of Asuka's face, he smiled at her and said, "I hold many secrets, but my affection for you has always been sincere and my words truthful."

"Perhaps your jealousy of me would be lessened once we start sharing Shinji-kun," Rei states.

"Sharing?" Asuka asks in a fit of outrage.

Sighing and shaking his head, Shinji says, "Ever since I converted her to Nurgle, Rei has shown great joy in causing things to break down. Ignore her or she will gain immense satisfaction from your annoyance."

"Ignore me and it will come back to bite you," Rei says with a smile.

"Okay, I'll amend that. Listen to her at your own risk, but ignore her at your risk as well," Shinji replies.

---

"Okay… if I may? If I may, I would just like to point out a few things here," Shinji says at the tactical briefing called upon the discovery of the latest Angel.

"Ahem. A list should suffice. One: we have never found an Angel before it attacked us, much less in an apparently dormant and embryonic state. Two: this Angel is in possibly the most hostile location on the planet, over a thousand feet beneath the surface of an active volcano, surrounded by molten rock where it will be a challenge to know whether the crushing pressure or the intense heat will destroy something first. Three: the Type-L equipment will not work under such conditions, because we would be going into boiling hot magma, a significant point considering that the Type-L was designed to counter the increasing power of the Angels. Four: boiling hot magma is incredibly dense and would thus impede motion massively. Five: the Evas are not physically dense enough to actually sink into boiling hot magma, so to actually get down that deep would require extra dense weights to be added, which would impair movement even more than the sort of heavy armour required to actually survive while surrounded on all sides by boiling hot magma. Six: the last report from the probe said that the Angel was sinking deeper into the boiling hot magma. Seven: boiling hot magma!

"So, to sum up, in the immortal words of Admiral Ackbar, 'It's a trap!' This is such a trap that I reserve the right as a soldier to refuse an obviously suicidal order," Shinji finishes off.

Listening to this, Asuka nods and says, "I too reserve the right to refuse this mission on the grounds of being unnecessarily risky."

"I will go if ordered to," Rei replies.

Shaking her head, Misato says, "Don't worry Rei, Unit 00 is incompatible with the D-Type equipment, and now that Shinji has put it that way, I'm scrapping the mission. I'm actually embarrassed to admit that I was too eager to have actually found an Angel in this state that I didn't actually pause to consider what a blindingly obvious trap this is."

All around the various techs and tacticians were smacking themselves over having not thought of it like that. Everyone had merely considered the risks of volcano diving and considered it acceptable, and yet somehow no one had raised the rather obvious point that perhaps the reason they had found the Angel sleeping was because it wanted to be found.

Gendo hid his frown behind his gloved hands. He had selected his command staff for myopic brilliance. He wanted them capable of acting flawlessly in the moment, not figuring out the bigger picture, and for the most part they had done that, but recently they had been getting smarter in ways Gendo did not approve of. And he felt it had to do with his son.

Unfortunately there was dick all Gendo could do about it now, seeing as he had just seen all of his current political capital go up in a puff of smoke. He had had to talk the members of SEELE into this plan, and now his pilots and senior command staff had just rejected it. If he pushed now there was a severe risk of mutiny, and the only people with the resources to put it down properly would just laugh at him.

His son had just torpedoed months of work, and it would take weeks, if not months to recover enough to move against the little bastard. Mostly because Gendo now wondered if the boy had been compromised by SEELE. This was not a frustration he needed right now.

"We need to turn the trap in on itself," Misato says, musingly. "We need to lure the Angel to the surface where it won't have the home field advantage."

"Personally I'm all for shoving an N2 mine in one of those probes and sending it down as low as it can go. The blast might not do anything to the Angel, but it will sure as hell let it know that we're not falling for its bullshit. Then, when it surfaces to play, we just shoot it from the high ground of the crater," Asuka suggests.

Everyone looks at her funnily before she says, "Alright! I rushed in last time! I learned my lesson, okay?"

Beaming proudly at his student, Shinji says, "Actually, I like her idea. It's simple, elegant, and even if we have to fight the Angel in its mature form, at least we don't have to dive into a hostile environment."

"Simple plans are best," Rei chips in.

"We'll need to figure out the proper yield… detonating a nuclear scale weapon has never been attempted inside an active volcano for obvious reasons, but I think we can come up with something that will work," Ritsuko says, giving the scientific approval.

Sighing quietly at the complete ruination of his reputation, Gendo says, "Then proceed."

---

The detonation of the N2 mine in Mount Asama was to a certain degree anticlimactic considering what was happening, namely a huge bomb was being detonated deep inside a volcano. Immediately after the detonation an enormous plume of lava was thrown high into the air and there was a significant earthquake as the mountain shifted and groaned, new cracks opening up and leaking glowing rock out into the air. All across the area hot springs went into over drive as the earth quaked and rocked, releasing scalding hot boiling water and toxic gases.

But the onsen of the region had already been completely evacuated, and in fact all across the country people had been advised of the detonation and asked to stay clear of any hot springs until further notice. After about five minutes the rumblings of the earth died down, and an hour later except for the new, now mostly dead, lava flows, it would be hard to tell that anything had actually happened.

"Okay, we're on stand-by until further notice. We stay here for at most a week to see if, by some stroke of luck we actually killed the Angel, before returning to Tokyo-3. Any questions?" Misato asks the Pilots.

"No ma'am," they answer as one.

"Good, now unfortunately all the hot springs in the region are closed for the next month as the mountain is monitored for any residual activity, so unfortunately none of us can relax in a nice natural bath," Misato says.

Pouting a bit, Asuka brightens up and says, "Ah well, it's the Angel's fault for wrecking all my vacation plans. I'll just have to make sure it suffers for annoying me."

Her face blank, Rei says, "I had no interest in bathing in any case."

Shrugging, Shinji says, "There's always another day."

Misato just glared at them all before saying, "I wanted to go."

Shaking her head, she says, "Go have fun you three. We've probably got a lot of long, boring waiting around doing nothing ahead of us."

"We will find a way to pass the time," Rei replies.

---

The three Children had found a nice, secluded mountain grove to practice their "extracurricular studies". Shinji had already give Asuka a few private lessons on telepathy and telekinesis, but so far she had proven difficult to get into the proper mindset. She just could not achieve the proper emotional state to unlock her powers.

She held back, she was hesitant when around Shinji. He could piss her off, but he could not push her to the depths of fury she needed, and neither he nor Rei could really help guide her. They could tell her how they focused, but she was ill suited to their cooler mentalities, so she had to find her own path.

So Shinji let Rei spar with Asuka and told her to really annoy her. Rei had begun by kissing Shinji on the cheek and then grabbing his butt. That began a truly volcanic duel between the two of them with their wooden practice weapons. Rei had had a custom wooden sword made for her, an approximation of a weapon that was best described as an oversized butcher's cleaver. If actually made, the weapon would be slow, imprecise, and absurdly brutal.

Rei was actually holding her own against the more experience melee combatant, but that was because she was willing to take hits Asuka wasn't. Already several of her teeth littered the ground, but she was regenerating them at a phenomenal rate, which only served to piss Asuka off even more.

For his part, Shinji was trying to detect the presence of the Angel. As usual the damn things were hard to locate psychically, although this time he wasn't quite sure if that was because it was dead or not. The worst problem was of course that since the thing had been dormant at the time of the detonation he had no real base-line for comparison.

And then there were two simultaneous psychic spikes. The first one was Asuka suddenly lashing out at Rei after being knocked off her feet by an unpleasant blow to the shin. Rei was hurled across the clearing and would probably have broken something if not for Shinji idly catching her with his own telekinesis.

The second psychic spike was accompanied by Mount Asama blowing its top, spewing a huge cone of brilliant orange lava into the air, lighting up the twilight sky more spectacularly than the floodlights of the nearby NERV mobile command centre.

The fact that this explosion was backlighting Asuka's triumphant victory cry was not lost on the two people watching.

"You look insane," Rei commented.

Asuka just glared at her.

"Quiet you two. We have other things to worry about. I'm pretty sure the Eight Angel just woke up and he's pissed we didn't take the bait," Shinji says while beginning the trek back down to the base.

---

The caldera of the mountain was filled with a lake of lava that was steadily rising and explosively boiling, while the Evas were stationed in a line along one edge, loaded out for ranged combat.

Asuka had her bolt pistol holstered and her chain axe slung across her back, just in case the Angel that emerged wanted to go hand to hand immediately, but her primary weapon out at the moment was a bolter with underslung melta, matching the one in Unit 01's hands. Unit 01 had the missile pods strapped onto its shoulders, the incendiaries swapped out for what would best be described of as "cryo-bombs". They contained liquid nitrogen under very high pressure and rigged to be explosively expelled in a manner such that it caused further cooling. The theory was that if the Angel could survive in magma, then it probably would not respond very well to sudden thermal shocks.

Rei, in Unit 00, was armed with the newest model of the positron cannon, although this one was significantly improved. Using the technology appropriated from the JSSDF, the NERV weapons designers had built a potent continuous beam weapon that required a prohibitively large power supply. The engineers from the remains of the Jet Alone project however had used their expertise to build a compact nuclear reactor that could be mounted on an Eva to provide power for the gun.

So the three Evas waited quietly, lava bombs raining down on them only to splatter harmlessly off their AT-fields, and while the ground trembled beneath them with the activity occurring within the volcano, their enormous legs absorbed even the largest swells with no effort. They looked like three bored sailors standing in the rain. Only the rain was glowing orange and cherry red in the night.

And then what appeared to be an eyestalk emerged from the lake of lava and looked at them. Asuka was about ready open fire when Shinji stopped her. At best they would damage the eye, which the Angel could simply regenerate at its leisure by diving back beneath the surface of the lava. They would wait.

What emerged was nothing like what they were expecting. The reason that the lava lake had been rising was because the Angel was pushing up from underneath and was nearly as large as the caldera. Its body was hard to describe, as it was covered in a thick layer of molten rock that clung to it as armour, but the best general description was of a trilobite… the size of a small mountain… and covered in lava and yet unharmed.

It spat a long stream of molten rock up at the Evas, the arc slow and lazy at this range, and they easily stepped aside. Opening fire they sent dozens of bolters rounds down into the creature and a long beam of bright blue-white plasma. The bolts merely blew off chunks of the lava, while the plasma beam boiled off a bit of rock. Despite being on the top, the layer of lava armour quickly reformed, evidently being supplied by the Angel rather than the volcano.

Reaching out a long, spindly, orange appendage, the Angel dug into the solid rock outside the lake and began to pull itself out of the caldera. More limbs began to appear, slowly hauling the beast up the side of the mountain. It was slow, but that was because it was dragging its stomach along the ground. And it was doing that so that it would always have a fresh supply of lava, because everything it touched simply melted.

"Well… shit," Shinji commented.

"Pull back while laying down a hail of defensive fire with your guns. I hate to surrender the high ground, but so long as that thing is in the crater it will have a free supply of lava," Misato orders.

"Affirmative," Shinji states, giving the occasional tap to his trigger to keep the bastard's attention. Its lava armour was simply absorbing the shots, preventing any actual damage to the creature's own armour. They waited calmly until the Angel was in accurate lava spitting range before abandoning the edge of the caldera and withdrawing a good distance down mountain. They had no idea what the Angel would do once it got the high ground.

Cresting the edge of the caldera, the Angel hauled itself up before it came crashing down, to slide on a layer of lava down the slope of the mountain directly towards the Evas. Abandoning their positions with maximum haste, they break for the sides. Unfortunately Shinji, in the central position, is just a touch too slow and his trailing leg gets caught beneath the bulk of the bulk of the creature.

When his tumbling, crashing descent finished all that remained of Unit 01's left leg was a lava encrusted stump above the knee. Unit 02, which was closest to him, snatched the now immobilized Eva away from a descending leg that would have skewered it otherwise.

"Are you okay Shinji?" Asuka asked.

Wincing over the phantom pain in his leg and the real pain from being thrown about his entry plug, Shinji says, "I'll survive."

While the Evas regrouped, the Angel began to dig itself into the ground, not stopping until it had its entire lower half hidden beneath the surface, and then it began to crawl forward, ploughing through the ground towards the distant Tokyo-3.

"Okay, experiment time kids. Shinji, I want you to fire off a quarter of your cryo-missiles followed by a barrage of your hellfire missiles and rounds from your guns. Rei, I want you to hold off with the positron rifle until there is bare flesh exposed, got that?" Misato orders.

"Affirmative," they all chime in.

Detonating over the surface of the lava armour, the cryo-missiles flash froze the lava into hard, brittle rock that burst off into huge slabs the moment the bolter rounds struck it, instead of just blowing off little blobs of lava. This exposed the glowing exoskeletal armour beneath, and while the bolters mostly just bounced off the tough, angled armour, the positron rifle cut deep into the Angel.

Screeching in pain, the Angel dug its rearmost limbs into its lava pillow and hurled up a huge spray of lava, tens of thousands of tons at the very least of liquid hot rock. Throwing up their AT-fields, they formed a wall that caught the tsunami of fire. Shoving it off of them, they moved, Unit 02 supporting Unit 01, to a position away from the rear of the Angel.

As they moved to the side, the legs started throwing up more globs of lava. While they could simply block the attacks with their own AT-fields, they were extremely distracting as they demanded a response, for to be hit by one of those things directly was asking for pain.

"The front maybe? It can't slide down a mountain again like it did before," Asuka suggests.

After it spit at them a wave of lava only slightly smaller than the one thrown up by when they attacked from the rear, the Evas all retreated away to a safe distance to reconsider their options.

"Okay, I've still got plenty of missiles, and we have two melta shots left, what can we do with all that?" Shinji asks.

"We could use a melta blast to strip off the outer layer of lava armour and then pound on the creature with everything we've got, hopefully causing enough damage to force a regeneration cycle. The Angels have unlimited energy supplies but not unlimited power, and generating all that lava has got to eat up a lot of power. With any luck when it settles in to regenerate it will stop producing lava and we can simply pummel it to death like we usually do," Misato suggests.

"Sounds like a plan," Shinji notes. "Beginning priming sequence."

The moment Shinji began to prime his melta for firing, the Angel stopped and abruptly began to burrow into the ground, the lava armour about it clearly swelling up even thicker.

"Son of a bitch! Quick, let's open up a hole in its armour now!" Shinji cries out, firing all of his missiles at once while opening up with his bolter. Joining in, the two other blew off a huge chunk of the armour and tried to cut deep, but the thing just kept burrowing and thickening the lava about itself.

"Fire in the hole!" Shinji cries out as he activates his melta. For a moment night became day as the directed thermonuclear explosion flashed out to consume the Angel, but when the glare died down, it was still there, it's armour only partly stripped away except for about the area where they had already hit it, which was now a heavily wounded scar.

The Angel reared up out of its hole and continued moving. The wound was already being covered over.

"Damn it! This thing just shrugs off whatever we throw at it!" Misato cries out over the radio.

"We need to deliver an overwhelming blow point blank to it," Asuka notes.

"Okay, pull back and we'll rearm you all and try and come up with another plan of attack," Misato orders.

Asuka was pissed that this thing was just shrugging them off like this. There had to be some thing…

She suddenly had a moment of utter clarity, the world slowing down to a stand-still as her brain began to process events at a phenomenally fast rate. She suddenly discovered a new way of looking at things, her rage compressing in on itself from opaque coal into a crystal clear diamond.

The Angel could easily dive beneath the surface of the rock and be completely immune to their attack, but that would take forever to melt through, so it was merely skimming along. But if it hit softer ground, then it could simply dive beneath and move quickly and safely. It would then head for Tokyo-3 and the Geofront and attack… whatever it was there that drew the Angels, and they wouldn't be able to stop it.

They had to finish it now.

The only weapon they had that they could hope to kill this thing was the melta in her Eva's hands. But it would do them little good as they had to first use it to cut through the lava armour. If only they had a breach already…

"Cover me," Asuka says in a flat tone before ejecting her umbilical cable and sprinting out ahead of the others, adroitly dodging the house sized lava bombs being hurled her way. Taking her bolter in a single handed grip and drawing her pistol, Asuka began firing everything she had at the head of the beast.

"Smile, you son of a bitch!" Asuka cries out while rushing the monster, and is rewarded with it opening its mouth to spit a huge wave of lava at her. Angling her AT-field like a cattle catcher on a train and simply ploughed through the attack to leap guns blazing head first into the Angel's mouth, melta already priming.

"Asuka!" Shinji shouted out as he watched her do that.

For several seconds nothing happened, and then the entire rear half of the Angel was blown apart in a shower of lava and gore while the front half was lifted into the air and thrown upside down onto a nearby mountain, its belly glowing white hot. Again for several seconds nothing happened, and then the Angel began to twitch, its limbs flailing about in the air as it attempted to right itself.

Then its entire body went into a spasm, once, twice, three times. From a section on its stomach a whirring chainsaw blade burst out and cut a circle out of the Angel before descending back in. A huge spherical chunk of the Angel was then hurled out of way and the Angel stopped struggling completely. Evidentially that had been its core.

Its armour glowing and half molten, Unit 02 crawled out of the hole and raised its chain axe over its head, bellowing to the night sky that it had won. It then took a few steps before tumbling down the side of the now slowly cooling corpse, sliding on the viscous lava down to the ground where Unit 00 was waiting to catch it, Unit 01 crawling along as quickly as it could with only one leg.

Setting the damaged Eva aside to let it cool, Unit 00 takes the ejected entry plug and sets it safely to the side while Unit 01 ejects its own plug so that Shinji can rush out to see Asuka.

Rather woozy from the adrenaline rush and the heat flush, Asuka totters out of her entry plug only for Shinji to slap her across the face and demand angrily, "What the fuck were you thinking?"

"I… I did what I had to do, just like how you blew yourself up to take out Shamshel," Asuka says in a daze.

"It's called the 'Shinji Suicide Special' for a reason," Shinji points out angrily.

Grinning, Asuka replies, "Well they can call it the 'Soryu Suicide Special' now."

Tears of fear, sadness, and happiness running down his face, Shinji finally just says, "Oh, screw it, just kiss me."

He then embraces Asuka tightly before grabbing her by the butt to lift her off the ground, her legs wrapping about his waist for extra support.

From Unit 00 Rei watches down over the two of them, and smiles. Shinji had told her long ago that he really thought of her in a sisterly sense, evidently his instincts were quite good at locating his own blood, and in truth she felt sisterly towards him too. The passion of romance was not something in her, although she did admit that now that he had awoken in her an emotional aspect she did long for him in ways she never would have thought of before.

It did not matter. Shinji was not replaceable like her, so his happiness took precedence, and he was clearly very happy at the moment. And as much as she had considered letting the berserker boil in her Eva so that she could take her place, Shinji's happiness was tied to Asuka's wellbeing at the moment.

At the moment. Things changed, fell apart, and people died. Rei could endure all those things, and she had the patience to see this through to the end.

She had infinite patience.