Disclaimer: Neon Genesis Evangelion belongs to the Gainax Company. The Darkness belongs to Top Cow Productions. I do not own either series in any way or form. I am not receiving any money for this project. This is something spawned from my fandom of two incredible series.

Antiheroes of Eva: Deepest Darkness
Chapter I

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. Then The Lord said "Let there be light" and there was light. The omnipotent creator saw that the light was good and in his wisdom proceeded in separating the daylight from the darkness. The world thrived under the warm glow of the sun over those six days and the pattern would to go throughout eternity without even the slightest difference. The darkness resented it. And in that moment of judgment and separation, bitterness and contempt were brought into the universe.

The cruel radiance of the light was allowed to shine down upon all creation, branching out across the cosmos and masking countless worlds in its luminous brilliance. The harsh brightness of the light chased the darkness from the surface of the earth and was utterly dominant for several million years. The darkness seethed in obscurity one age after another, growing more potent without some vessel through which to express its gnawing indignation. It was several eons before the darkness finally came across a suitable vessel which would be perfect to house its boundless hatred and unstoppable power.

It was mankind! The creator's most favored creation!

The vengeful darkness clambered like a scorpion over the rickety framework of human history looking for purchase in the hearts of mankind, and found no shortage of men or women who would have welcomed the sting. The darkness would become seeded into the genes of particularly fertile bloodlines and carefully concrete itself around their hearts, becoming fossilized within their very souls. Almost every new generation was set out onto the earth with mostly limitless power and only one objective, to spill anarchy and chaos over the world of the light.

And the pattern rewound when each bearer of the darkness conceived offspring, the curse bound itself into the newly formed and innocent soul and would leave their former host to their own devices. And each generation would begin with the darkness steering its young warrior toward anarchistic ruin or back into the war against its own enemies. The darkness would become recognized in supernatural circles as something which could be found in the worst of mankind, plunderers with little regard for their own species. However, there have been several occasions when the darkness would become rooted to those who would seem to be the most unexpected vessel for the ancient chaos. Where one generation would breed murderers and war criminals of the worst caliber, the next would come forward as valiant adventurers and proclaimed heroes.

It was not twenty years ago that this ancient power found home in the body and soul of Jackie Estacado, an orphan raised by the pimps and killers of the Franchetti Crime Family. His demonic bloodline served him well as the mafia's premier enforcer and cutthroat assassin, often dealing out death with casual grace and terrorizing power. But as most bearers of the darkness come to discover, conflict and tragedy are woven into the destiny of those who wield such inhuman power. His every effort to fix the problems which came up proved futile and it was just one year before he found himself becoming an enemy of everything and everyone he had ever loved.

He became an enemy of his adoptive family.
He became an enemy of his closest friends.
He became an enemy of his own country.
He became an enemy of the heavens themselves.
And ultimately, he became an enemy of himself.

However, the horrific and tragic existence of Jackie Estacado was cut short while in the midst of the war, his modern legend slipping away into the very shadows which built it up. He became just another victim amongst the billions of people taken by the cataclysm that washed across the planet just six months into the new millennium. Washed away in the destruction wrought by the horrific disaster known as the Second Impact, the darkness was forced back into the world to seek out another bloodline worthy to contain it. The light which once hunted the darkness soon slipped into obscurity, to emerge once more when the ageless entity awakened within its chosen host.

However, that was then and this is now…

Shinji Ikari sucked down another mouthful of the putrid amber liquid as he stood upon the barren mountainside, looking out at the world through the glowing gaze of Evangelion Unit 01. The biomechanical monster stood there with an oversized assault rifle pulled against one shoulder, scanning the horizon with a sharp gaze. Its imposing brethren, Unit 00 and Unit 02, were standing somewhere nearby bearing their own choice weapons, a high-powered sniper rifle and a missile launcher. The three war machines had been dispatched not twenty minutes ago and were now awaiting the arrival of something horrible that would be coming over the mountains. While he should have been focused, the young man's mind was wandering.

NERV's swift briefing was suspiciously void of information in the wake of an explosion which wrecked most of their research and development compound, which was not ten miles away. There was definitely something coming their way from the warzone, but no reports to indicate that it was one of the angelic invaders. Misato Katsuragi was to be present during the newest Evangelion Unit 03's maiden activation and there was no response from her at the moment. The operations director volunteered to be his guardian three months earlier and now, his concern for the vibrant women put a tremendous burden on him. Ritsuko Akagi was joining her to oversee the technical aspects which would require her knowhow, but his concern for the brilliant faux blonde was on a much more professional level. He found it odd that the commander was taking direct command of the operation. Gendo Ikari was not known to take part in the missions and had been away at the time of every prior operation. It was quite abnormal that he was so adamant about taking charge of this one.

"Target Approaching!" Aoba's voice chased away his worrisome musings, his dark cobalt gemstones turning to the foggy mountains in the distance. "Contact in twenty seconds! Prepare for ground battle!"

Shinji took a sharp breath in that moment, looking at the two holographic monitors which displayed where his two companions were waiting just down the mountain range. Sohryu took up the pointman position with heavier weaponry. Ayanami was just down the mountain range to provide backup with an anti-armor sniper rifle. He was in the auxiliary position to protect the men and women of the region who were retreating to the military metropolis of Tokyo-3. He had once been the best choice to meet the opponent, but the horrific encounter with the twelfth angel and its pocket dimension had taken its toll on him. The time in the void was traumatic and his synchronization ratio had dropped over twenty percent in the two weeks since. He could not do much more than provide backup.
The three young pilots were gripped with the tension of the moment, awaiting that imminent instance when eerie silence would explode into bloody violence. However, it became even worse once their opponent came into view.

"What?" Shinji gasped upon sighting his target. "An angel? You're telling me that's an angel?"

"Correct." Gendo Ikair's voice came out over the communications system, a curt tone that was utterly detached from the mounting horror the pilots were faced with. Shinji looked to the right monitor, seeing the exotic gaze of the fiery redhead contort with a mix of denial and disbelief. "That is your target."

"That is our target?" Shinji echoed.

The shadow crossing the mountains came to be even more imposing as it moved with the vibrant sunset at its back. It was a demonic monolith of black and crimson, with a pure white gaze which burnt prominently upon its horrid face. It was carrying a broken tank in one hand and was covered in the soot of a severe shelling. The vague humanoid shape was not new when it came to their cosmic opponent, but the whole picture could not have been overlooked. It was a machine that walked like a man. It was one of them.
"Unit 03…" Ayanami's voice came out in a whisper, an ounce of horror mixing into her apathetic tone.

"Unit 03…?" Shinji's throat went dry and he did not breathe in the moment. The white military print on its left arm confirmed it was true. It was a grim circumstance. "We're going up against an Evangelion?"

"I can't believe it either... Unit 03 was taken over by an angel?" Asuka came back over the radio in a low voice, as though she was worried that she might be heard. Her own concerns were evident despite her exotic foreign accent and some of that typical determination was missing on her western visage. Unit 02 stood at the forefront and it would be mere seconds before the two made contact. Shinji knew the crimson war machine would soon need to draw blood, but saw his roommate grow anxious as she was put on the spot.

"Wait a minute!" Shinji gasped, the grim reality driving into him like an iron spike. "Wouldn't that mean there is someone inside? There is someone in there just like us!"

"Shinji, you don't know? You were supposed to be briefed on it!" the redhead shouted over the monitor, but did not look away from her opponent as it came toward her kill zone. Shinji did not get the chance to demand to know more before the exchange was interrupted. The sporadic glow which danced over her beautiful face and the distant explosion proved that their opponent was now upon her. The streaming video on the monitor rocked violently in the moment and static marred the image of his roommate. The redhead could be heard screaming out before the holographic window closed and the audio connection was broken. Shinji lost contact with Unit 02.

"Asuka! Damn it!" Shinji cursed. "Command, what happened?"

"Unit 02 has been defeated and the entry plug was ejected." Commander Ikari was quick to respond, his tone curt and to the point. "The recovery team will move to pick up the second child. Pilot Ayanami will make an ambush. You will hold your position until further notice."

"The thirteenth angel is moving away from Unit 02." one of the technicians shouted back over the airwaves, one of those numerous workers the young pilot did not know. Shinji saw on the orbital monitor that the crimson behemoth was on the ground and the ejected entry plug was now somewhere in the mountains. Shinji did not want to keep to the auxiliary position while the cerulean prototype waiting in ambush. The thirteenth angel was a vile opponent, a dire wolf which now wore the armor of an ally.

"Rei, can you see it?" Shinji called out over the airwaves, his worried eyes turning to the exotic bluenette who was present on the holographic window to his left. Her crimson eyes were aglow with that same stoic composure and she took to the moment with the same odd detachment she had shown in life. A trace amount of genuine concern crossed her eastern features and that gaze softened as the digital crosshairs passed over the corrupt battlemech. Ayanami did not want to shoot.
"Yes. There is another inside." the blunette murmured, confirming the young man's worst fears had come to pass once more.

The young woman's crimson eyes went wide in the next moment and the sounds of an anti-armor rifle and defiant roaring came right before the monitor went dark. The mountain region shook as the prototype hit the ground and was struck in the face by the demonic production model. The poor girl's bloodcurdling scream soon came over the airwaves with the chaotic static of the technicians raving about angelic corruption. Shinji's blood went cold as one of the orbital monitors showed the black-armored behemoth pinning down the prototype while swinging punch after punch into its ribcage. Ayanami's anguish was made even worse when a sudden explosion sent the war machine's left arm flying. She was given no warning and never saw it coming, but she got every ounce of the pain. He heard the girl's pitiful sobbing right before the audio was disconnected.

"Ayanami!" Shinji shouted, adrenaline pumping into him as he toggled one of the switches before him in the entry plug. A summarized readout of the operation report appeared, advising him that the other units had been brought down and were disabled to prevent contamination. He grew enraged upon seeing that the severing signal came from central command. "What in the hell are you people doing?"

"The thirteenth angel is some kind of parasite, Shinji!" Maya Ibuki was quick to come back over the radio. The young woman's voice was not without some nervousness over the moment, but she worked to hide it. "Unit 00 was being contaminated by the angel and we needed to sever the arm and power it down to prevent it from spreading! You must avoid direct contact!"

"Maya!" Shinji looked down at the titanic assault rifle, remembering how useless the oversized firearms proved to be in recent operations. Shinji saw the enemy coming to meet him. "Be honest with me, is there someone stuck in the entry plug?"

"That is irrelevant, Pilot Ikari." Commander Ikari came back into the conversation. His curt voice put down any intention to answer the young pilot. It was even more callous that he would call out his own son by rank and surname. "You are to avoid melee combat and destroy your target at once. We cannot afford to have our entire regiment contaminated."

Shinji Ikari was awestruck. It was like a knife of cold ice was in his heart and it was being twisted by his parent. His hope was not just blown out, it was drowned. The boy did not doubt that the man's work was more important than most other things, but this moment was just sickening. The commander cared more about the condition of that weapon that the survival of the young operators who were forced into mortal combat. He did not know about the horrific scenario he was made to be part of.

He was just another piece on the board. He was an asset to be used up and thrown away. The scenario relied on him to be rational in that moment and to know what took priority. It was a decision which was made to break him. However, Shinji's concern for the unknown pilot overruled an entire ocean of priorities. His own survival was just one of them.

"There is someone in the entry plug, isn't there." His tone was low and hurt. His gaze looked on with sorrow as the black-armored behemoth moved down the mountain range. The streaming monitor to the upper right zoomed in on the entry plug from orbit. It was wrapped in some manner of organic webbing which prevented the ejection process. The digital sights of the assault rifle were locked on the obsidian breastplate, but the young man did not want to pull the trigger.

The parasitic organism might have controlled Unit 03, but it was not enough to make it much more dangerous. It could not have thrown up an AT Field without the consent of the unknown operator. Shinji knew the anti-armor rounds would have ripped through the standard armor without that protective barrier. Shinji could have put it down with minimal resistance. Shinji did not pull the trigger in spite of the ample opportunity. While there was someone trapped within the entry plug, alone and scared, the prospect of shooting down the corrupt guardian was akin to murder.

"What are you doing? The target is right there!" Makoto Hyuga shouted over the airwaves as the corrupt avatar marched onward. Shinji did hear the man shouting at him, but did not snap out of it. He was not ignorant to the grim situation, but more concerned with the good of his own soul. He could not hurt or kill an innocent.

Unit 02 had been defeated and dropped on the wooded mountainside. Unit 00 was a broken wreck on the pavement of the nearby highway. The monolith was now walking down the street of the mountain town which was not quite evacuated in the wake of the emergency sirens. The onlookers stood awestruck as the war machines towered over the office buildings, warehouses and power lines that dotted the military town.

Unit 03 soon stopped just a couple hundred meters down the road from Unit 01, aware of the assault weapon pointed right at it. The two colossi leered at one another with dark intensity. Shinji was not able to act in the moment. It was not much longer before Unit 03 became impatient and reverted back to violence.

The black-armored behemoth was rocked with violent seizures before jumping toward the opposing test type, plowing into it with a vicious drop kick. The rifle went up in the moment, but did not survive the hammerblow. Unit 01 was sent back through two warehouses before it caught itself, but the young pilot's opponent was quick to come out with another roaring blitz. An uppercut caught the disoriented machine in the throat, sending it slamming into some of the apartments making up one road of the town. It was either by stubbornness or resilience that the war machine recovered. Unit 03 roared once more as it dropped to the ground, where it shook violently before lashing out one hand. The forearm stretched out over a good block before wrapping around the throat of the test type, and by extension the throat of its young pilot.

"Acck! What?" Shinji gasped as the savage grasp formed around his throat, the amber liquid working to recreate the torturous experience within the cockpit. The rubber arms and titanium talons were not among the upgrades made to the production model and it was just one more time their opponents worked beyond the foresight of the agency. To think that it could mutate one of the units to suit its desires was quite horrifying.

A second hand wrapping around his throat within the next moment and the purple prototype was slammed hard into the granite mountainside. One foot ruined a section of the highway while one flailing hand slapped down on an innocent power station cresting one of the summits. The Third Child was at an impasse, not able to do much more than pull away and swing uneven punches into Unit 03's monstrous visage. The corrupted monolith was not chased away by the furious blows and it devoted even more focus into crushing its opponent's windpipe.

He could hear his own uneven heartbeat and his vision blurred as his breath came up short. It would have been simple to drive a knife into the demonic head or the semi-ejected cockpit, but he was not about to kill someone. Pilot Ikari knew it was not a good situation to be forced into. He knew he would have to wriggle out of the headlock and come up with some cunning tactics. He knew he not last another minute otherwise.

Central Dogma was not ignorant to the situation and it threw the command center into an uproar. The critical readout coming in from the life support systems was quite grim and tore into their hopes for survival. The technicians were working to make quick adjustments to keep the most vital components online. The military officers were quick to radio commands to the nearby battalions, ordering tanks and gunships to swoop in and provide immediate assistance. Kozo Fuyutsuki was touched in the dread of the moment, an aura of grave tension coming out from the deputy commander. The superior commander did not come close to breaking that grim composure and was seated in that same imposing position, leaning over his gloved hands while the glow of the mainframe was mirrored on those orange lenses. The old man sneered from where he stood behind his former student. It was sick how the commander could be so apathetic while the mainframe monitor showed a streaming video of his own son, who was now toiling just to breathe.

"His pulse is dropping! His other vitals are fading fast!" Makoto shouted from the second highest level of the command center. "Unit 01's life support systems aren't going to tolerate much more abuse!"

"Damn it!" Fuyutsuki lurched forward over his own command station, more focused on the warring teenage than the words of his subordinates. "We have no choice! Cut maximum synchronization back to sixty percent!"

"Belay that!" Commander Ikari's counter command was too immediate, overruling the deputy commander's own order without an ounce of hesitation. The conviction coating those two words was uncanny and void of concern for the tragic pilot on the holographic mainframe. There was not one person in the room who did not notice the tension seeping into the moment.

"Ikari… if these conditions persist the pilot could be killed." Kozo was stunned by the announcement, but knew his former student knew of the circumstances. Gendo Ikari did not hear one word of it.
"Shinji," Gendo suddenly called out to his son by name. "Why aren't you fighting?"

"I'm doing the best I can!" Shinji shouted out as another punch smashed into the infected behemoth's jaw, the grasp loosening slightly as an oversized crimson tooth dropped to the ground below. The black-armored war machine was quite woozy when Unit 01 quickly followed up with a double uppercut to the stomach and ribcage. Unit 03 roared before bringing one hand back to punch back, but Unit 01 was quick to snatch the blow and slam its own hand up against the monster's throat. The colossal machines were soon locked together once more on the battlefield, but the corrupted newcomer was the one with the advantage of superior strength and infinite stamina. Shinji got a word in. "There's someone trapped inside! I cannot risk doing anything more until we've secured the entry plug!"

"Out of the question!" Gendo barked, without an ounce of compassion for the unknown pilot.

"It wouldn't be right to just leave them behind!" Shinji was now begging, his young voice rough and haggard from the soreness of his bruised windpipe and the bursting wellspring of emotion. Shinji's cobalt eyes were focused upon the cockpit which lingered just out of reach. "Just give me the chance! I could probably just reach out and lift it outta there!"

"Denied!" The commander's voice was venomous and his rough beard concealed how his jaw grew tighter over his own son trying to negotiate direct orders. "Our scanners indicate that the entry plug is the source of the corruption. You are not going to jeopardize our one remaining defender with such foolish risks."

"We've got to do something!" Shinji fought to maintain Unit 01's grasp on the mighty forearms which were now tossing random hooks and haymakers. It was quite difficult to concentrate on the situation while a potent mixture of so many negative emotions was churning so violently in his heart and soul. The lavender fingertips of the mighty behemoth were trembling around the corrupted opposition's throat as his sudden frustration built into his voice. "Don't you get it? He's going to be killed unless we get him outta there!"

"Your enemy is the angel!" Gendo growled, his fingertips digging into the backs of his gloved hands as the young pilot's defiance put more burden upon his limited patience. "Do you hear me? Destroying your opponent should be your only concern!"

"I'm hearing you, old man!" Shinji snapped directly toward the camera which looked down at him, his social awkwardness and perpetual terror of the commander dropping away under pumping adrenaline. It was another moment before Unit 01 was pressing one mechanical thumb into the corrupted abomination's own windpipe. The opposite hand worked up some momentum before cracking the casing around Unit 03's demonic visage, summoning an ominous scream of agony. "And just what are we supposed to do about the Fourth Child?"

"The Fourth Child's survival is irrelevant!" The commander shouted it without forethought and did not regret it. It was an announcement which summoned up righteous resentment within the hearts and minds of those who were working within the impermeable command center. These vicious words were supposed to provoke a more predictable reaction from the young man, one which would draw him back to being complacent and vulnerable to the commander's manipulations. However, the young pilot's brewing frustration and the pumping adrenaline gave him bravery which the scheming mastermind could not have foreseen.

"You're irrelevant!" Shinji roared out before abruptly lashing the steering handle forward with tremendous aggression which burned to the point most would have considered him blood drunk. The commander's precious colossus, garbed in armor of sable and nightshade, reinforced its grasp upon the other demonic construct before reaching out one hand to wrap around the entry plug. Unit 03 roared before grabbing Unit 01's wrist in the desperate attempt to keep it from stealing away with the entry plug, proving that it must have been necessary to maintain control over the war machine. Shinji could feel the burning in his fingertips as the parasite fought to somehow infect Unit 01, but the organic webbing was beginning to crackle. Shinji was just another moment from victory. "You'd better start looking for another pilot, old man! I'm not gonna be your murderer!"

"Damn it!" The commander snarled before abruptly standing up and slapping both hands down on the table. The sudden display of outrage was an unnerving sight as he addressed the technicians. "Shut down all of Unit 01's synchronization circuits immediately!"

"Huh? What?" Makoto and Aoba gasped.

"Shut them down?" Maya echoed, her voice rippling with shocked.

"Correct!" Gendo's tone reeked of his unwavering authority. "Switch control over to the Dummy Plug System!"

"But sir, the Dummy Plug System isn't fully operational yet!" Maya was quick to rebuke the belligerent commander, knowing what many of the recent simulations suggested about how the artificial intelligence might respond. "There are too many problems with it and Dr. Akagi is nowhere close to approving its use!"

"It's still better than the current pilot!" The commander shouted down at the young technician, every ounce of that professional composure having been crushed under the weight of his rage. "Do it!"

"Yes sir…" the female technician whispered as the turned back to her workstation. Her slender fingers moved across the keyboard and touchpad with practiced grace, locking in several commands before giving confirmation. The signal went out from the underground headquarters without a wasted second and her tearing eyes were turned away from the digital windows. She knew it was treacherous and could not look as the signal reached Unit 01 and the young pilot realized what was going on. "I'm sorry, Shinji."

Back on the mountainside battlefield, it seemed that the entry plug would be coming loose within the next couple seconds and the angelic parasite was panicking. The young pilot shrugged off the punches which rained down upon his machine's horned helm, knowing that another couple of seconds would be all that was needed. Shinji swallowed as the grasp around his throat increased, but the amber fluid coating his lungs ensured that asphyxiation wouldn't happen anytime soon. The white capsule was gripped by mere strands of the organic webbing when the treacherous signal reached the violet war-machine. The victory which seemed to be just one quick pull away vanished when the orders were processed and the young pilot was suddenly locked out of the system.

The strangling pressure around his throat suddenly vanished and the amber lighting of the entry plug switched off before turning a blood crimson. The light humming in the background brought his attention to the computer module mounted on the wall behind the command chair. The ultramodern plug suit suddenly became tighter and the rubber material began moving by its own accord, dragging his body along for the ride. The digital screens revealed that he had been disconnected and that something called the Dummy Plug System had been granted operational control. It wouldn't have been nearly as horrifying if the unknown operator's commands were not being given through the plug suit using him like a puppet.

"What's going on?" Shinji gasped as the gravity of the moment piled upon him. He turned the most vindictive glare to the overhead camera which monitored him. "What the hell are you people doing?"

The was no response coming from the command center as the right hand of the nightshade demon wrapped even tighter around the corrupted machine's throat. The scanners were reading off constant information about their mutual target and the controlling system recognized the exposed cockpit as the primary target. Shinji briefly speculated that this unknown system would also attempt to retrieve it in an effort to liberate both the fourth child and Unit 03. These hopes were dashed when the young pilot noticed Unit 01's fingertips pinching around the entry plug, several dents and cracks appearing in the exterior framework. Unit 01 was going to crush it.

"No… NO!" Shinji screamed as his hands twisted around the steering handles and sharply drew them back. The young pilot could feel the plug suit attempting to manipulate him around the controls like a puppeteer. The dummy plug system was without mercy. Shinji was adamant in his refusal to surrender and struck out in defiance. He slammed himself back against the chair, keeping the butterfly handles pulled back along with him. His hands and fingers spread out, not wanting them to be forced into pulling triggers or pressing buttons without his approval. He brought his feet away from the four pedals that decorated the flooring of the crimson capsule. He recognized the growing warmth of the neural hairclips pushing more power into the commands and put every breath and thought into rescuing the entry plug. The disagreement with his surviving parent's vicious tactics had turned into an epic battle of wills between the young man and the computer trying to dominate Unit 01. "We are not doing it this way!"

The young pilot's announcement went out more to his assigned war machine, having almost forgotten about the treacherous command center which had ruined everything. The dozen satellites which had been monitoring the battle began zooming in and displaying Unit 01's sudden hesitation on the main screen. Despite being disconnected without warning, the determined youth was somehow keeping the flawed simulation's commands from being carried out. The opposing operators were breaking even in their battle over control of Unit 01. Gendo Ikari became even more furious over these shocking developments.

"Lieutenant Ibuki! What have you done?" Gendo demanded.

"I warned you that there were still problems!" Maya shouted back from her workstation, defiance evident in her chocolate eyes as she went over the output from the war machine. "The Dummy Plug System requires that some synchronization circuits connect the entry plug to the dummy plug! The Third Child is maintaining control of those circuits and is refusing to surrender them to the dummy plug!"

"Stupid brat!" Gendo shouted before turning back to the comm.-link. "Third Child, your attempts to override the system are utterly meaningless. You will be facing prosecution unless you cease this foolishness immediately!"

"Fuck you, old man!" Shinji roared. "I'm not going to be your murderer!"

"Don't you understand anything?" The commander roared back, his eerie transition lenses slipping down his nose as he slapped both hands down against his own workstation. "You're both going to be killed!"

"Shut up!" Shinji roared and moved one arm away from the butterfly controls to punch out the digital camera, leaving the command center without an image. With the young pilot and the flawed computer grappling for control within the mighty monolith, the angelic parasite was given the perfect opening. Unit 03 suddenly released the forearm that was between crushing and retrieving the entry plug and locked both hands around Unit 01's throat. The corrupted war machine roared before slamming the opposing berserker into the mountainside, a couple more blows like that would pulverize Unit 01's spinal column. The armored behemoth then snapped down into one of Unit 01's flailing arms, spreading those infection spores into the berserker's artificial bloodstream. Shinji screamed out in horrible anguish as the pain washed over his right arm and gave a sensation akin to his bone and sinew being shredded beneath the skin. He did not give up and worked to compose himself, much more focused on dueling with the dummy plug system.

The artificial intelligence that was now running the biomechanical behemoth was ignorant to the horrible anguish ripping into the young pilot. The wretched computer was even more oblivious to the mercy or sympathy that anyone would have wanted to give the trapped pilot. The command center couldn't do anything without the commander's approval and his bastard father would never go against his own precious arrogance. There was no denying the grim circumstances.

Shinji Ikari could have either allowed the secondary program to take complete control and sacrifice the unknown pilot or he could have kept fighting, which would allow the angelic corruption to spread and eventually reach him. Shinji did not put his own life in the equation, but knew in that moment that his determination to protect one could kill thousands, if not the entire human race. He could almost read the violent intent of the invader and did not want to consider the sheer devastation which would occur in the wake of his defeat. There was no other choice in the matter and it made him want to die. "I'm sorry."
Shinji readied himself for the burden that would come down upon his soul. It was in the moment that he was about to submit to the puppeteer and surrender the butterfly controls which were poised to crush the other cockpit. The entire world stopped turning.

The Third Child couldn't have known or understood in that moment, but there was now something stirring within the darkest frontier of his tragic spirit. It was awoken by the most potent combination of passion and outrage, and the pure anguish which would have broken most mortals in that moment. The corruption of the thirteenth angel worked to stir the sudden awakening of an ominous power which was meant to hibernate for the next seven years. The scorn and rage conjured up by the commander's ardent belligerence was the final factor in the dark awakening. The insipid commander's ways provoked the ancient and chaotic entity in a way not seen in over twenty years. Shinji was not alone in his want to take the man's life.

The horrific anguish of the corruption went away along with the pressure of the plug suit which worked to move him like a puppet. The streaming video on the main screen stopped, the outside world pausing in the moment where Unit 03 munched down on Unit 01's forearm. The distant storm clouds were not moving and the helicopters buzzing overhead were frozen in time, their whirling blades stuck in mid-rotation. The encoded information on the other monitors stopped streaming and the crimson interior lights were not buzzing anymore. An ominous silence dominated the world around him and the command center did not come back with their typical analysis of what was going on. Shinji was becoming nervous around the time another voice suddenly spoke out from the shadows.


"Huh?" Shinji bolted upright as the haunting silence was suddenly broken by a throaty voice whispering out from the deepest recesses of his young mind. Shinji was suddenly stricken with the terror that the angelic parasite might have somehow contaminated his mind without even touching the cranium of the towering guardian. "What was that...? Who are you?"

"Your time Shinji…" the abnormal voice whispered as the young man reached down into a hidden compartment of the cockpit. It was a countermeasure in the event one of the extremist groups moved to capture an ejected entry plug. The agency put great emphasis on protecting the next generation technology by any means necessary, but never once had anyone wondered when the survival of the pilot took priority. The young man came away with the combat knife. The pistol would have never worked submerged in the LCL. He must have looked pretty foolish looking around for something to stick with the short blade. The demonic voice echoed with a haunting chuckle of amusement. "I'm not an angel Shinji. The knife will do you no good Shinji. Not against an angel and not against this."

"What are you talking about? What the hell are you?" Shinji screamed out into the crimson glow of the cockpit. The outrage of the moment combined with the threat to his own mortality gave him tremendous bravery. He was prepared to become a killer in order to survive and it was enough to chase away the social awkwardness which would have crippled him. "Answer me!"

"Your time has come around Shinji." The young pilot fought to keep that united front against the terror which came from hearing the words of the mysterious voice. There was a sudden woeful sensation which could not have been explained in a million words. It was uniquely independent from any pleasure or pain the young mortal had ever known. Shinji could feel it stirring in the center of his pounding heart before moving out across his entire body, from his vital organs to his narrow fingertips. It was as though something was being released which had been imprisoned, its excitement howling out into his mind upon sudden liberation. The crimson glow of the entry plug fought to maintain before slipping into the shadows, it was another moment before the numerous viewing monitors began shutting down one by one. In the sudden pitch darkness, the demonic voice whispered to him and one could have heard it smirking ever so wickedly. "Dark Time."

Shinji screamed in sudden anguish, his hands dropping the combat knife to come down against his forehead. His back and shoulders were slammed back against the chair as an otherworldly pain ripped through every fiber of his being. He swore his bone and sinew were being torn apart and put back together under his skin. He could almost feel something stirring within the deepest recesses of his mortal soul, moving out from his heart like some demonic specter. It was as though something which had been imprisoned within him was being released and he could almost sense the swirling emotions of liberation. It was drawn out, it was terrible and it was horrifying. It was beyond what could have been survived by the minds of ordinary mortals. But Shinji Ikari was anything but ordinary and it was not some random circumstance which made him superior to the planet's four billion commoners.

"No fighting this Shinji." the voice whispered as the young man slammed one fist into the armoured paneling of the entry plug, screaming out into the murky amber liquid until his throat was raw.

"Shouldn't wanna fight this Shinji." the voice murmured as the screaming young man vomited blood into the entry plug, putrid obsidian liquid mixing into the golden substance. The young pilot barely managed to keep those cobalt eyes open long enough to witness the darkness spreading out across the entry plug. It was soon plunged into absolute blackness. The liquid shadow smothered the digital screens and crimson lighting within seconds, ensuring that not even the faintest glimmer of light would shine down upon him.

"This is all yours Shinji." The ominous enigma echoed as the horrified student resorted to slamming his head back against the command chair, the ebony liquid leaking out from his eyes and nose. The view screens slowly reappeared through the pitch darkness bearing a bizarre crimson glow which was eerily appropriate among the shadows.

"Just let it happen, Shinji." The demonic voice gave council as the agony stopped and so did the screaming. Shinji doubled over and the sound of his laboured breathing echoed within the narrow cockpit. The young man's cerulean pupils were hidden in the moment and he refused to show them in the wake of the horrific anguish. It left him oblivious to the world around him.

"You should want this..." the voice shouted as something grabbed him by the shoulders, ten thousand tiny talons reaching out from the spreading darkness to tug at the plug suit. A thousand glowing yellow eyes looked out from the darkness and down upon the troubled young man who fought to recover and recompose himself. Shinji gasped as two powerful talons were suddenly drawing his own trembling hands back to the butterfly controls to wrap around them on instinct. Shinji looked up to discover the demonic speaker was standing next to him, an eerie smirk unveiling a thousand uneven fangs and a maw which spouted fire and brimstone. The shadow monster's body was composed of the very darkness which surrounded it, the silhouette swirling in the renewed crimson lighting as though it did not truly exist. The young pilot looked around to spot the glowing eyes looking down upon him and he was not frightened, but comforted by the demonic denizens crowding around him. The gleaming gaze of the demonic speaker looked down upon him in the next moment and allowed his haunting message to echo around the entry plug. "You should want your birthright!"

Shinji Ikari roared out in the final moments of the agonizing awakening and in the wake, he found the demonic avatar and the thousands of his kin were suddenly gone and the crimson lighting and holographic windows were returning to normal. The ominous shadows were succumbing to the illumination, but Shinji could have sworn for a moment that his cobalt eyes gazed perfectly within the pitch blackness. However, he was given no opportunity to consider the phenomenon before the universal passage of time came rushing to meet him in a manner akin to a linebacker. The crushing pressure around his throat and the sizzling infection in his forearm returned as the corrupted Unit 03 was bearing down upon him, metallic fingertip digging into his spinal column. The horrific burning sensation of the infection was spreading up his neck brought him to the realization that he was being corrupted through the synchronization circuits. The determined young man would never surrender to the computer which would turn him into a bloody murderer, but he would never have chosen to perish going against a machine.

"Your opponent is not worthy of your demise." the demonic voice whispered, the darkness of the cockpit coming to embrace the young man as some confident mentor might comfort a dedicated student. The holographic windows fluctuated once more to show the faces of the three war machines and gave him hope that his decision would allow them to stand together. The angelic corruption burnt worse as it spread up his neck, his every nerve ending and blood vessel becoming a conduit of anguish over the strain of the parasitic invader. His gleaming cobalt eyes focused on the three imposing machines while his thoughts feverishly considered the poor people within them. The flawed computer just behind the command chair would seize operational control in an instant and he could not do anything more than keep it from carrying out its own commands.

"You can save yourself. You can save your friends." the demonic emissary announced from within the spreading shadows and the ominous presence was growing stronger with every passing moment. The compact supercomputer was suddenly buzzing and clicking violently, struggling against the liquid blackness which shrouded the isolated cockpit. "In the coming months, you will come to possess tremendous power to be used to realize your own benevolent or terrible desires and even now your true potential is beyond measure. You are more than ready to realize your birthright, you just need to take a moment and let it out."

"Let what out?" Shinji screamed out, frustrated and frightened. "Just tell me what am I meant to do?"

"Anything... You will soon have the power to do anything you want, Shinji." the demonic emissary murmured knowingly, the burning crimson gaze appearing within the spreading blackness alongside a thousand more burning embers. "However, in order to achieve your wondrous potential, you must drop the horrible burden you have been gathering over an entire decade of your miserable existence."

The message of the demonic emissary brought a moment of clarity to the young man.

Shinji Ikari did not need another to examine his own life with such an objective focus. He was made aware of the emotional burden quite often and it was one which anchored him and prevented him from pursuing his own happiness. He carried a tremendous amount of depression over his poor mother's sudden death and it had grown worse in the wake of his abandonment. He was antisocial and withdrawn to the point that he was afraid that anyone who came close enough would someday turn away from him. He carried a murderous malice which was festered under the weight of his tyrannical father's cruelty. He was cowardly and without confidence, but would not back down from pursuing the approval of the callous commander. He carried more and more frustration over how he fought and suffered to protect the world and somehow went without an ounce of gratitude from those around him. The ultimate component in the moment was how he was discouraged from allowing the outside world to know about his own constant discontent. He had been tricked into being under the impression that he was a cowardly young man who was irredeemably pathetic and unworthy of his own happiness. Shinji Ikari stood there in the darkness, in shock over just how absurd and without substance so much of his own burden was in that moment. It made him want to hurt someone.

"You are an angry young man, Shinji Ikari, and you must understand how meaningless it is to go through life protecting the world from your own discontent. Instead, let it surge out from you and cut down those who would use and abuse your kindness!" the demonic voice preached as the young man focused on the myriad of painful memories and horrible experiences which would have demanded sympathy. Shinji Ikari did not turn away from dragging out an entire universe of negative emotions which had been withdrawn and suppressed since that one horrible evening. An ominous energy flowed out when the young man looked up and angrily commanded to parasite's corruption to recede from him. "Look upon your enemies with your righteous contempt and show them your awesome power, when you chose to let the darkness out!"

In the precise moment that the vicious parasite reached out to invade the young pilot's mind, there was a dark guardian waiting there to confront the cowardly monster. The corruption of the mind stopped quite suddenly and the angelic parasite gave a shrill roar as it was ejected from the young warrior's consciousness. The spores working to corrupt the purple guardian were burned away in the next moment and operational control was returned to the entry plug. Unit 01 was quick to recover from the harrowing incident, but Unit 03 was much worse off.

The black-armored monolith staggered away from the mountainside, its every movement accented by clumsy footsteps and anguished roaring. Unit 03 did not get the chance to recover before Unit 01 lunged forward with a roaring haymaker and an uppercut that sent the war machine back into three office buildings. Unit 03 slammed one fist into the pavement and roared out in a rage, but it almost looked confused when Unit 01 came back with its own roar of violence and bloodshed.

The command center was in an uproar over the miraculous recovery of their violet vindicator, the workers who were assured of their own extinction just moments before jumping back to their workstations. The streaming video on the monitors were joined once more by the miasma of tech and stat chatter. It was like the next round of a prize fight and Unit 01 was quick take a dominant offense.

Unit 01 moved away from the ruined mountainside as Unit 03 came in a roaring blitz which turned into a soaring drop kick. Unit 01 was quick to move to the side and throw an elbow down into the corrupt machine's spine, slamming it into the pavement of the highway. Unit 01 did not let up and threw down two or three angry punch which cracked hard against the roaring visage and broke open the demonic helmet. Unit 03 got up on its hands and knees, but the violet vindicator did not give it a chance to recover. The hovering helicopters made it a point to get away as the corrupt machine was picked up and thrown into one of the warehouse districts used by the JSSDF. Unit 01 made it a point to throw its opponent into one armored warehouse, which went up in a mighty explosion of wood and metal which would send debris out for miles around. The young pilot smirked in the shadows, the digital output had warnned him that the warehouse was overstocked with high-powered demolition explosives. The buzzing choppers moved away as an enormous pillar of smoke and flame went up into the sky. Unit 01 did not wait for the smoke to clear before walking into the blaze to stomp one foot down into Unit 03's chest cavity, a true warrior's insult to be sure. Unit 01 was quick to turn away and run down the mountain range, baiting the burnt monolith to give chase into the wooded mountains.

"Okay… What in the crap just happened?" Aoba shouted over the command center, the lower technicians frantically scanning over Unit 01's extensive command systems. "Someone give me an answer! Where is the Dummy Plug System?"

"The Dummy Plug System has been completely overpowered!" Hyuga responded from over the platform, looking down at his monitor in utter disbelief, the numerous blinking red lights making the situation obvious. "It just shorted out and powered down!"

"That doesn't make any sense!" Aoba shouted back, before turning toward their female counterpart responsible for activating it under Commander Ikari's orders. "Maya, what are the current readings?"

"This cannot be right!" Maya shouted as she scanned her monitor, watching as the variable added up into something which shouldn't have been possible. "Pilot Ikari's synch ratio is holding at 236.5!"

"You three might want to check out his vitals!" one of the lesser technicians shouted to those one the highest level of the command center. The white and red cross on his uniform identified him as one of those responsible for monitoring the life support systems. "These statistics cannot be good!"

"The pilot's heart rate is hammering out at 200 BPM!" Maya shouted up to the commanders. "We need to cut back on the synchronization immediately! It's amazing that the pilot hasn't gone into cardiac arrest!"

"I'm cutting it back to 150!" Hyuga whirled back around to his monitor, typing in the necessary commands before punching down on the enter key. The screen came back with an enormous crimson banner which he didn't even need to read. "Unit 01 is refusing to accept exterior commands! We do not have authority over it!"

"Was such violence foreseen in your scenario, Ikari?" Kozo was quick to taunt the commander, knowing how his former student could puppet events both minute and monumental to favor his own dark scenario. The commander did not bother to answer, but it was given away by his shifting posture. His gloved hands were not in their normal position. Instead, his right hand was now squeezed into a solid fist and pressed into his opposite palm. The deputy commander did not overlook that the man was taunt and came with the subtle sound of grinding teeth with grew worse by the minute. Commander Ikari was now confronted with the unknown and it made him furious.

The command center couldn't do much more than monitor the streaming video from the orbiting satellites as the battle moved back into the bamboo thickets of the mountain range. Unit 01 roared as it charged over the mountains and jumped toward the purple test type like a wild cat, those rubber forearms working to merge the gap. However, it was becoming apparent that the higher synchronization ratio made the pilot much more aware of his present surroundings. Unit 01 twisted around in mid-stride to snatch one of the snapping forearms by the wrist, a prog knife coming up in the opposite hand to cut down the other rubber arm. A pair of giant fingers dropped to the grassy plain under the two warring behemoths. Unit 03 did not have a chance to recover before it was suddenly swung into the bedrock of another mountain by its own arm. Unit 01 moved away once more and the malice of the invader was quite audible as its armored victim gave chase without forethought.

Unit 03 crossed over one more mountain to spot its senior cousin coming upon the dormant crimson behemoth, one powerful hand reaching down the collect the rocket launcher which had been dropped nearby. The corrupt colossus roared as it jumped around the mountainside, reaching on in another gamble to get its claws around the nightshade terror's narrow throat. The impatient opponent was caught in mid-air by the rocket launcher, knocked down to the ground with the barrel shoved down onto the boot mark on its chest.

A fiery explosion ripped into the mountain region in the next moment, the incendiary powder moving in a wave over the woods while the corrupted colossus was burnt in the inferno. The woods were now ablaze and the smoke rose into the clouds, in the middle of the inferno were the two armored behemoths locked in the last moments of mortal combat. Unit 03 was not too worn by the explosion, but the creature was roaring out in agony over the crackle of the towering embers. Unit 01 kicked over Unit 03 to see the organic parasite was horribly mutilated in the wake of the explosion and was almost burnt to a crisp by the inferno.

"Kill it with fire, eh?" Shinji murmured in the cockpit, his gaze moving to the burnt cockpit sticking out of the organic webbing. Unit 01 knelt down and wrapped one hand around the exposed entry plug with the intent to draw it out. The strands of burnt webbing broke as the cockpit was removed and it was almost out when the parasite panicked. A dozen tendrils shot out from the nest and seeped into the wounded forearm of Unit 01. It was one more futile attempt to corrupt the determined guardian.
Unit 01 did not succumb, punching the corrupt machine in the cranium before shoving its wounded arm down into the burning bamboo thickets. The spores were too weak to make much progress and were burnt away almost immediately. Unit 03 turned over the get its claws around the other machine's throat, but it was much too late. The rocket launcher was shoved down into Unit 03, Unit 01 looking down at its black-armored cousin before hammering the weapon with an angry punch. The rocket launcher went up in a violent shower of burning napalm as the nine incendiary rockets within were triggered in the same moment. The rogue machine was covered in the burning oil and the worm cried out in the most exquisite kind of anguish. The inferno went to work, seeping into every crevice of the armored construct and burnt wherever the parasite had become rooted.

The wretched parasite came to realize the futility of the situation and took its own survival into account. The organic blob around the cockpit detached in the midst of the inferno, dropping to the ground and slipping into the woodlands under cover of the billowing smoke. Bardiel knew it was weak and could not risk another corruption. It sought sanctuary in the caves that honeycombed the wooded mountains. It would bide its time and recover from its horrendous defeat before resorting to revenge. It touched the mind of the young pilot and would know how to go about tracking him down...

"Burn away… You're not wanted here." Shinji's voice emerged solemn and haunting, breaking the nervous silence between the command center and the lone guardian. Unit 01 spend a good minute standing over the burning behemoth with its progressive knife at the ready, poised for one more counterattack. The inferno burned itself out with two or three minutes and the black-armored construct was an immobile heap on the ground with smoke rising up from the charred remains of the parasite. The battle was won.

"Target Eliminated." The brazen young man announced. "Ibuki, give me a sit rep."

"I don't believe it." Maya whispered more to herself than anyone else, but regained her composure before speaking out loud enough for the command center to hear her report. "According to onboard scanning, Unit 03 has suffered only minor damage and has been utterly cleansed of all foreign contamination. We are gonna need to spend some time repainting it, but it would appear we managed to save it."

"I don't give a damn about your stupid machine!" Shinji Ikari scowled within the blackness of the entry plug, knowing that nobody within the command center was getting output from the broken camera. "I want to know about the pilot! Tell me about the goddamn pilot!"

"Of course!" Maya chirped, feeling somewhat ashamed as she brought up another window which was collecting output from the plug suit worn by the Fourth Child. "The Fourth Child is alive. He is in great condition and in no immediate danger. He might have some bumps and bruises from being tossed around the entry plug, at worse a broken bone or two, but there shouldn't be any major problem."

"Good." Shinji breathed. "Are the salvage crews on the way?"

"The recovery personnel are currently tending to the other pilots and it will probably take them some time to get down into the woodlands." the young technician explained, remaining professional while everyone else was trying to figure out what manner of miracle occurred toward the middle of the battle. There were numerous technicians who were just now coming to notice the amount of burning disdain coming from their supreme commander. "You should probably remove and open the entry plug now. You're running down to about three minutes of auxiliary power and it would be better than someone having to chainsaw it outta Unit 03."

"10-4." Shinji responded before manipulating the butterfly controls, one enormous hand carefully removing the large white capsule and placing it down on the scorched ground. Unit 03 went dormant, just down the mountainside from where Unit 02 was being recovered by a quartet of the transport choppers. Unit 01 occupied itself by removing the broken dummy plug from its own spinal column, the crimson framework cracked and burning from the inside out. The young pilot glanced toward the thousands of glowing embers which surrounded him, confident that the denizens of the darkness must have torn into the flawed computer. The bio-mechanical monster looked down at the dummy plug another moment before discarding it with the same nonchalance as a chain smoker might flick a cigarette. It was an improvised blow to the treacherous commander's credibility. It was another twenty seconds before the signal came out from central command and the locking mechanisms of the dormant cockpit were released, allowing the unknown pilot to open it from the interior. With around two minutes of auxiliary power remaining, the power cable broken somewhere between the warehouses and the mountains, the young pilot carefully brought the nightshade test type down into crouching position.

"You must pay attention, Shinji." The mysterious voice suddenly whispered from the perpetual darkness which was flooding the claustrophobic chamber of the mobile cockpit. The demonic emissary who came out of nowhere to rescue him was hovering next to him once more, those burning crimson embers motioning toward one of the monitors. The holographic screens focused on the entry plug as the LCL drained from it, the thick amber liquid creating a disgusting puddle upon the smoldering ground. There was sudden movement as someone wearing a prototype plug suit of black and blue stumbled away from the command chair, moving through the open hatchway before losing consciousness and dropping down into the puddle with a shallow splash. Shinji Ikari was not expecting much more than another young person whose entire existence was probably wrought with distress and misfortune. He would have never suspected that the Fourth Child would be someone that he knew, certainly not someone he would have counted among his best friends.

"Touji…?" the young pilot was totally stunned, barely capable of whispering his classmate's name during that horrifying moment of revelation. It had been no more than a couple minutes ago that he was prepared to sacrifice the life of an innocent person to prolong his own miserable existence. The sudden knowledge that the fourth candidate was one of the few precious people who gave him hope and inspired him to keep going was nothing short of horrifying. It was a brief moment before the young man recovered from the shock and allowed that venomous discontent to come flowing out of him. Shinji screamed out as one fist struck the interior of the dark cockpit. "You wanted me to kill Touji? Are you really that fucking depraved? Answer me, old man!"

"Shinji, please listen to me." Maya Ibuki fought to reason with him. "You've got to calm down!"

"Calm down…?" Shinji echoed with deadly venom. "That is my best friend down there and none of you bastards thought to let me know! Give me one goddamn reason why I should calm down!"

"You…" Maya was quite scared in that moment. "You would not have thought objectively!"

"I wouldn't be so pissed off had you morons just let me do my job!" Shinji roared across the airwaves, ignorant that the exterior speakers were on and everyone from the command center to the recovery personnel on the ground were now on the receiving end of his furious outburst. "I was within two seconds of pulling out the entry plug when you activated that fucked up computer system! That goddamn abomination could have removed the entry plug and done away with the angel, but instead it was trying to pulverize it!"

"You don't know that for sure." Aoba countered.

"I don't know?" Shinji shouted and Aoba shrunk into his chair. "I felt my fucking hand tightening around it! Whatever you've got crammed up in here completely disregarded the pilot! Hell, I think it might have been programmed to exterminate much more than the angel! Am I getting warm, old man?"

"Shinji…" Maya couldn't say anything more. She knew the entire situation was compromised.

"I'm supposed to be protecting humanity, right?" Shinji snapped, his bloodthirsty frustration fed into the darkness and the denizens crowded around him. "I went over and signed a good number of documents, but must have missed some of the fine print. Tell me, where in the job description does it mention being puppeteered into committing cold-blooded murder? Where does it mention allowing some homicidal computer to kill using my hands? Damn it! Answer me, you bastard!"

"You're risking much more than your job by making such accusations!" Gendo suddenly barked, breaking that infamous composure and coming forward with his own obvious discontent. "You are to stand down immediately! You're already facing criminal charges of insubordination and dangerous misconduct! You will face additional charges and severe consequences if you do not comply!"

"Give me one good reason why I should give a damn!" Shinji shouted before slamming one fist into the interior paneling of the narrow chamber, the flooding darkness reverberating around him. The impish shadow creatures who now stood on the ruined computer were cackling wickedly at the furious rage of their young sovereign. "Hell, give me one good reason why I shouldn't come stomping back to headquarters and put Unit 01's size four hundred foot down your throat?"

"You're not going to get anywhere with just two minutes of power!" Hyuga was quick to shout back, knowing just how much damage the young man could do to the numerous military compounds in and around the mountains. "Stand down! You're just gonna make our situation even worse!"

Shinji ignored the poor technician. "I'm quite curious, old man. Are you aware of how much people hate you? Have you ever once considered that you might be the reason my mother is dead?" a vile smirk came to the boy. "Of course, I maintain that she committed suicide in order to get away from you."

"Lieutenant!" Gendo suddenly barked, the three ranking technicians turning around to meet a furious gaze which were directed toward Lt. Makoto Hyuga. "Increase the entry plug's LCL pressure to its maximum setting. We don't have time to waste dealing with such an insolent child."

"Are you out of your mind?" Fuyutsuki snapped. "The boy was just pushed beyond his breaking point and his vitals were just on the brink of cardiac arrest, after going through so much that amount of pressure could kill him!"

"Please. It is not likely to do much more than knock him unconscious." Gendo countered without even looking back over his shoulder. "I won't have an angry teen tearing across the countryside. Do it."

"Misato is going to kill me for this…" Hyuga grumbled before manipulating the proper controls.

"I still have direct control and your dummy plug system is not…" Shinji grunted as the water pressure within the entry plug suddenly increased dramatically, the sudden density threatening to pulverize him from every angle. The young pilot fought for breath but found it to be impossible under the circumstances, the weight causing his strained brain to shut down. The ominous shadows seemed to respond to the hostile conditions, bleeding away from the amber liquid and returning the narrow cockpit to its original form. Shinji growled as he wrapped one hand around the combat knife and sharply stabbed it into one side of the entry plug, but it would not penetrate deeply enough to spare him the growing pressure. Shinji seethed with burning frustration as his consciousness began slipping away, the lingering shadows trembling under the pressure of such blistering indignation.

"Listen to me, you treacherous coward!" Shinji's voice snarled like an animal. Had the onboard camera been functioning, those in the command center would have found those cobalt eyes shining with a glow akin to the full moon. The tragic youth remained defiant and fought to maintain consciousness even as the intense pressure closed down around him. It was as though someone had spirited away the mild-mannered student and replaced him with someone much more weathered who was done protecting the world from his discontent. Shinji forced himself upright to make one final statement, a declaration of his own dark intent. His harsh voice could be heard burning with the purest malice. "I swear with every breath in my lungs and every drop of blood running through my veins… that someday… someway… I will watch you die!"

Shinji fought for one more breath before falling forward and losing consciousness. The dark presence washed over him and in the next moment he found himself alone once more, but in the same moment, he found that he would never be alone again. The chaotic presence wrapped around and embraced him with adoration, finding nourishment in the malice and contempt that was carried by the tragic young man. It was an ominous birthright which would have once brought the most exquisite terror to so many ancient civilizations that once worshiped the light and feared the darkness. However, Shinji Ikari had never been more comfortable. He did not shun the mysterious birthright or the tremendous power or the wondrous legacy it carried with it.

He embraced it. He welcomed it. He bonded with it.
He became one with the Darkness.

Author's Commentary: Yes, children, I am re-revising the opening chapters of the story because I cannot do away with the original opening and the remade version did not work out. I was too determined to give some answers to the sudden personality change to remember the original spirit of the crossovers, which was to get into the action as soon as possible. I forgot how the thirteenth angel was appropriate of the treachery of the dummy plug system and the revelation that he was almost made to murder his best friend. I have found a way to justify the real personality without spending too much time with the nonsense that the readers would not care about. Shinji's more weathered persona could be justified by the very next episode, where his guardian has some philosophy on who he really is and how the cowardly and awkward versions are just to protect himself. Shinji is an angry young man who is not going to stop protecting the world from his constant disgust, discontent, disappointment and one or two more emotions beginning with "dis".

I have been reading and reviewing the crossovers with comic books for some time and it inspired me to create one of my own centering around Shinji Ikari, mostly because the male characters are ignored. However, it was quite difficult coming up with a premise which would inspire me to continue writing it when I was given the spare time to write. There were weak projects dealing with Spider-Man and Batman that were dropped due to how neither meshed with the character and the origin stories would be ripped off. It became apparent that Shinji Ikari would make a much better anti-hero. My original thought involved having an Evangelion/Spawn crossover, but something about that seemed uninteresting to me when I remembered I really don't know much about the universe. One of my roommates suggested an Evangelion/Darkness crossover and it led me to digging out several of my older comics and finding downloads. Obviously, the concept has worked out.

The Darkness is one of those lesser known comics out there, but has seen considerable success through gritty storylines, awesome crossovers and an exceptional video game adaptation. The Darkness is essentially an ancient entity that passes from one generation to another, gifting the current wielder with the powers of creation and destruction. There haven't been many throughout its dark legacy who have used their inheritance for anything decent or selfless, but there have been the occasional few that have. As one might expect, the Darkness is in constant conflict with several opponents, from human groups to other supernatural creatures. It's most common opponents are the Angelus and the Witchblade, representing order and balance respectively in opposition to the Darkness's chaotic nature.

While the official comics have the Darkness always awakening on the wielder's 21st birthday, I wanted to have it forcefully awakened by one of Shinji's traumatic experiences. My original idea was to have The Darkness awaken during the battle with the twelfth angel while Shinji was floating around in the perpetual darkness of the Dirac Sea. To those who were forced to read the uninteresting revision where I went back to that idea, I apologize profusely. However, it seemed more appropriate to have the Darkness awakened by the sheer malice that would come out during one of the highest points in the series. It is during battle with the thirteenth angel that everyone realized that Gendo Ikari was an immoral and ruthless bastard that needed to be assassinated. It was the anguish of being contaminated and the raw hatred toward the wielder's own father that woke The Darkness several years ahead of schedule.

The next chapter is going to be setting up several elements which will be important throughout the rest of the story, mostly putting the Third Child in the position to better refine his chaotic powers. The Angelus and Witchblade can be expected to make appearance sometime after Shinji gains some grasp of his newfound powers, not to mention several other supernatural threats. I'm not sure who would come to possess either of these two entities, I might just have further connections to the actual comics than just Jackie Estacado being dead and passing on the Darkness.

Attention Fandom: I have an extensive understanding of the comics, please do not submit reviews telling me how some of the continuity might have been broken. There are going to be several changes made to make it fit better within the anime universe and breaking some of the rules doesn't mean anything to me. I am open to suggestions and recommendations. Just don't attack me with vicious criticism that doesn't have any constructive point.

Your reviews are necessary to inspire me further.
Please do not hesitate to leave your impressions, suggestions and criticism.