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Chapter 9: Demonic Past/Remembering is Half the Battle

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The color faded from time, as well as the armor equipped on the Evangelion. With its horn broken, breast plate missing, and left shoulder gone, Unit 01 represented the look of an ancient monster. The berserk humanoid really sold the look with its red teeth bearing, along with its glowing, sinister red eyes.

The beast was all too familiar to Shinji Ikari, who used to pilot the giant. Even the red eyes sparked something in him, as those were the eyes that nearly took his friend away. Now it was here again. But how did it get here, and why? When did the dummy plug take over? These were all questions he didn't have an answer to.

Does my father have something to do with this? He wonders. "No, not now. I need to get out of here!"

The former Eva pilot turns to the door to try his slow ascension once more. But another deep, horrendous howl stops him from moving. The pilot stands there, paralyzed by fear and curiosity. A bead of sweat slides down his jaw line from the heat, work, and anticipation. His head finally turns to face the beast that beckons to him, only to find Unit 01 staring directly into his eyes, ignoring the two ACs before it. It is at this moment that the two tortured souls looked into one another. Nothing was spoken, only felt and empathized with.

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"Jolt! Shoot it! SHOOT IT!" Steg shouts, petrified of the beast that now haunts her.

"I'm trying to lock on to it!" the brother replies, "But there's no FCS on that thing! It must be using some sort of cloaking device—!"

Steg shouts again, startling her brother even more. "I DON'T CARE, JUST SHOOT IT!"

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Through all of the shouting on the communication channel, Asuka was glued to her seat, entranced by the war-torn purple behemoth before her. "Shinji…I remember you now…but why did it take this thing to bring you back?" she asks herself. She notices then that the Eva is staring at something. Before she could figure out what caught its attention, the ancient monster lets out another deafening roar, like a man who was screaming at the top of his lungs with water in his mouth.

The beast turned and retreated into the darkness of the city. Only when the stomping had faded away did Asuka sigh and relax. She pinches her eyes as though to rub out the image. "Why does that devil always make me feel like shit?" the former red-head rants. "That idiot Shinji has scarred me for the last time. When I see him again, I'm going to rip off his arms and shove them up his…"

As she goes on her tirade, she practically ignores Jolt's voice. "Did you hear me, Asuka?" he calls again. "There's a survivor near the emergency exit! He looks to be in critical condition!"

"…And once he's only a torso, I'll put a sheet over him and use him as a pillow!"

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A calm, soothing voice reaches Shinji's ears, like the crash of ocean waves in the distance. "That's good, Shinji." The voice tells him. "You're doing well. I'm proud of you."

"Misato?" Shinji calls out weakly

His vision of darkness develops into a blurry vision of flashing lights, passing by quickly as though he was falling. The flashing slows to a steady pace, and was able to tell he is being escorted down a white hallway. Before he has a chance to examine anything else, he slips into darkness.

"Shinji. You are not done yet. You must fight again." Another voice orders.

"Father." Shinji sputters with distaste.

The darkness he resides in is once again interrupted by an image. The lights are even brighter now, with darkness covering the faces of…doctors? A hand holding a face mask obscures his vision even more. A valve is turned, and the mask begins to spout gas that, pleasantly, puts Shinji once again into his dark womb.

The image of Cassandra forms in his mind. Her eyes are concealed by loose hair hanging at the front of her face. "You better come back, Star Crossed." she says, her voice upbeat and cheerful. "If you die, I'll kill you again!"

Suddenly, her smile fades into a neutral emotion. Her hair fades from brown to blue. And a gun forms in her hand. "Goodbye, pilot Star Crossed." Rei says before lifting the gun and pulling the trigger. Shinji head whips back from the impact, and his head crashes to the ground, his body soon following. The warm blood seeps out from the hole where his eye used to be, staining his clothes. The motionless body was soon surrounded by his own pool of blood. The body begins to sink into the pool. Rei merely smiles with a grin so large, a jackal could not compare.

Ikari is completely enveloped by his blood, and then darkness saved him.

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"Star Crossed? Pilot Star Crossed, are you awake?"

Shinji opens his eyes slowly, adjusting to the white room. He is lying in a hospital bed, with a gown to match. He directs his attention to the woman attending to him. "Welcome back to the living." Ritsuko announced. "How are you feeling?"

No surprise came to the former EVA pilot as he sat up and observed his doctor. "When did…?"

"I just transferred yesterday." She assures him. "But we're not talking about me here, are we? Looks like you had a bad run-in with an AC."

"I…guess… " he replies warily, still trying to collect his thoughts. That's right, I woke up in Berserker, tried to escape, and then…

The image of the ancient EVA creeps into his mind. He remembers how it seemed to stare at him with a glare that him feel like he betrayed it. Shaking the thought away, he brought himself back to life. "How's my AC?"

Ritsuko takes off her glasses and looks at him. "Berserker is a bit torn apart, but still salvageable. According to your insurance policy, you're covered financially because you were piloting in a dangerous area. You'll be back to your regular missions in only a week."

The pilot just leaned back into his bed. "Right." he mumbles.

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"Jeez, this thing is junk!" the chief engineer shouts. "You want us to salvage it!?"

"Just do what you can with it!" Cassandra retaliates. "I don't care if you have to order a new part, I'll pay for it--!"

"Throw it away."

Cassandra looks behind her and sees Shinji limping to her. His head was bandaged, as well as the leg that was injured with the confrontation with Rei. "Sell whatever you can, but throw the rest of it away. I've got a better design in mind."

"Shinji…"

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The announcer's voice shakes the arena, which seems like a prelude to the chaos that would ensue. "The challenged opponent in the red corner, he weighs in at 5589 tons and has an explosive temper! Ladies and gentleman, give it up for TEMPEST!!!"

The tank rolls up, his guns at the ready. Inside, the pilot's finger is already on both triggers, ready to take down the enemy with one shot. "Come on, get it started already!"

"And in the blue corner, weighing in at a mere 2408 tons, but still has enough sparks to make a display! Let's hear it for BERSERKER!!!"

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Hearing his AC's name, Shinji guides his machine onto the stage. He looks over his control panel and weapons to make sure he has everything. Finally satisfied with the setup, Shinji puts his hands on the throttles and prepares for combat.

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The real name of the AC should have been Berserker, Mk. II. The entire robot has had a massive overhaul, no longer handling the middle-weight class. Disposing of the missile launchers, the only two weapons it is wielding is a minor pistol and the MOONLIGHT. With the armor less than average, one look over on this machine and it would not even pass the safety test against a grenade launcher.

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"HA! What is that thing?" the itchy pilot shouts through the radio. "You've got some nerve bringing that twig out to spar with me!"

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The crowd becomes still, anticipating the countdown to the carnage. Suddenly, all the windows around the arena light up with the words "READY". Before the words changed to "GO," the ACs can be heard starting up all around. Once the buzzer went off, a humongous explosion emanates from Tempest, barreling straight for Berserker.

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"Ha! One hit KO, baby!" the man prompts, assured that he has kept his place in the ranking. However, another look at his HUD would prove otherwise.

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Berserker had flown above the explosion, now falling to the ground in front of Tempest. Before the heavy-weight can get another shot off, Berserker whips out the MOONLIGHT and rips through the joint holding the mini grenade launcher, while with the other hand aims its pistol at the head of Tempest and opens three shots into its metal skull.

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"Son of a bitch! I can't see anything!" he shouts. The screen, that was once static, now reads "UNABLE TO CONTINUE COMBAT" in white bold letters in front of a red, blinking screen. "AUGH!!!"

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"And the winner is our underdog of the day, BERSERKER!!!"

As the announcer praises the name, Shinji steps out of the seat and stands up to greet the crowd that is protected by everything-proof glass. His face is not that of joy or rage: it is just as blank as Rei's face all those years before.

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Sorry for the late arrival guys. I've been veeeeeeery busy with other projects and activities. Please forgive me? Anyway, this is a short chapter, but I'll make up for it. Peace.