Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion, or anything associated with it. I have written this story solely because I enjoy writing.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything belonging to Marvel Comics or anything associated with it. I have written this story solely because I enjoy writing.
As Kyoko Zeppelin-Sohryu examined the instruments of her laboratory, she felt no satisfaction over what she was doing. As scientist working on Project: E, she was frequently busy, which kept her away from her home and her daughter, Asuka. Also, there was the very nature of the biomechanical monsters they were creating; potentially unstable clones of the Angels, the most dangerous creatures the world had ever seen. The Evas themselves were forty meters tall, possessed phenomenal destructive power…and demanded a heavy price to create, let alone animate.
It was these very problems with the Evas that had led her to this project that she had helped develop in her small private lab, which was now her last chance to help her daughter, along with the rest of the world. On the computer screen before her was displayed another clone of an Angel. It was biomechanical like the Evas, but unlike them, not only was it perfectly stable, but human-sized. As powerful as an Angel or an Eva, the cybernetic entity would be capable of functioning independently for long periods of time, and wouldn't require someone to give up his or her soul for it to live.
Sighing sadly, Kyoko recalled the day that she and a group of scientists she had been working with presented this project to the Instrumentality Committee, pointing out all the positives of the project, as well as what few flaws there were, flaws they had been confident could be worked out soon enough. All in all, the cyborg they had created could prove superior to the Evas, and without placing a human pilot at risk. She also recalled how the Committee had quickly shot down their project, deigning it completely unworkable for reasons they wouldn't go into. They had ordered the five prototype cyborg frames presented to them to be destroyed, and the equipment and resources used to make them to be all diverted to the further development of the Evangelions.
Why can't you understand?! The Evas are so dangerous, not just to us, but to the pilots! Kyoko had thought at the time, furious at the blasé judgment. Furious…and grateful that she and the other scientists had decided not to tell the Committee of the sixth cyborg.
Running several checks on its internal systems, Kyoko looked at the ebon creature represented on the screen, hidden safely away, far from her lab, and recalled the pride she had first felt when it had started to take form. How she and a few close friends had carefully, surreptitiously constructed it, giving it armor, weapons, the capacity for flight. It even had an S2 Engine, guaranteeing virtually limitless power.
With each addition to its arsenal, with each modification and improvement to the cyborg, the pride the scientists felt in it grew. They could practically feel the vindication they would enjoy when it was finally completed. Even if the Instrumentality Committee still refused its worth, they were sure that their work would find recognition elsewhere. For in every sense of the word, this cyborg was virtually perfect for defeating the Angels. All that had remained was the means to animate it, to give it life.
That task had fallen to Kyoko. Over the course of several months, she had labored diligently to create a transference device that would allow a person's mind and soul to be sent from their own body into the cybernetic creature, insuring that the operator's own form was safe and sound when the consciousness returned from battle. In conjunction with one of her colleagues, Dr. Yui Ikari, she had even created a means to exchange the bodies. That way, the cyborgs could be held in a storage facility miles away from the operator, where the biomechanical entities could be maintained and repaired. Then, using the transference amulet Kyoko had engineered, they could switch bodies with it, their own flesh-and-blood being exchanged for the cyborg, allowing the wielders to go into battle quickly, without any need to go to some hidden base. They would only need a moment for the exchange, and the wielders would able to fight, to defend the Earth.
Everything had seemed so perfect. So ideal. There were even security protocols that could be implanted into the transfer amulet that would prevent the abuse of the cyborgs and their power. It should have been perfect.
But something had happened. Something had gone wrong. And Kyoko's friends and fellow scientists started dying.
It had started with one dying in a lab accident. When Kyoko had heard about it, she had been heartbroken, of course, but she moved on fairly easily. After all, the work they did was sometimes dangerous, and accidents happened.
But not so many accidents that, within two months time, all but two of the people she had worked with on the cyborgs were dead. Accidents that were too easily dismissed by those in power as just accidents. And soon, the only ones from the project who had survived were Yui Ikari, who was stationed in Japan, Franz Lieberman, who had actually been the one to develop the cyborgs to begin with…and Kyoko herself.
Franz…I'm so sorry… Kyoko thought as she examined one other readout, recalling the dear friend she had made and worked with. A handsome blonde man who knew exactly how to make her laugh, knew just the right things to say to her when she was crying. He could make her little Wondergirl giggle madly with impossible ease. His favorite hobby was doll making, and he had even made a dolly version of Asuka for Kyoko, to keep her company when she working alone. Given her divorced state, Kyoko had been seriously considering asking Franz out on a date sometime.
Then, just over a week ago, Kyoko had found her dear friend in his laboratory, dead from an apparent accident. And just like the others, there was only a minimal investigation before it the matter was shelved, just as Franz's remains had been.
Asuka had been devastated, but Kyoko had been infuriated, as well as a little scared. She was the only one left. The only survivor of Project: D. And it didn't take a scientist to realize that, sooner or later, she would be next.
Kyoko had been investigating things on her own, but that investigation was taken to new heights as she desperately ran up every flag she could, consulted everyone she could find, but to no avail. It had only been after the funeral, when she had gone back to work on the transference device she had been crafting, that she found one final legacy Franz had left her, in the form of a Trojan horse program he had lodged into its circuits. A Trojan horse carrying a message.
"Hello, Kyoko," Franz's face had spoken, his image appearing on the computer screen while she had been running a routine diagnostic on the transfer device. Kyoko had looked in the eyes of her friend, someone she had actually found herself falling in love with, and had practically fainted from shock.
"By the time you hear this, I'll be dead. I'm sorry that I didn't have chance to warn you before, but as you know, I've been doing some digging on my own, trying to find out what happened to our friends. And…I've found some things. Things that I almost wish I hadn't. But the gist of it is; I now know why the Committee cancelled Project: D, in favor of the Evangelions." Kyoko had narrowed her eyes in disbelief, unsure as to why that would be relevant. That was when Franz had explained that Evas had been created with a specific purpose in mind. One that had nothing to do with protecting the world.
For the better part of an hour, Kyoko had listened to Franz's voice, accompanied by all the data he had been able to send her. Watched and listened in horror as he described how he had happened on a simulation of how Eva Unit 01, which was based in Japan, was going to be used in combination with Lilith and other Evangelions to initiate a controlled Third Impact. Kyoko had shuddered at this, memories of the Second Impact flooding her mind as her friend continued to speak. She had lived through and seen the effects of the Hell that had been unleashed when the scientific team headed by Dr. Katsuragi had tampered with the 1st Angel. She had seen the ravaged figure of his daughter, the only survivor. The idea that it had been deliberate, that the Committee actually intended for it to happen again…
"Now, I don't know why the Committee is doing this, but I do know this. They've already decided on the pilot for one of the Evas. It's going to be Asuka." When Kyoko opened her mouth in horror, a question already on her lips, Franz smiled and nodded. "Yes, I know, why would they already be planning having our little Wondergirl pilot an Eva?" Staring at the screen in disbelief, Kyoko had then found herself chuckling in disbelief, even as fresh tears fell from her eyes.
Even now, you know exactly what I'm thinking, don't you? Kyoko had thought sadly, wanting nothing more than to reach out to the screen, touch Franz's image.
"Well, that's probably what's really horrible about all this. You see, in order for this to happen, the Committee needs pilots specifically raised for certain roles in this Hell. For example, in order for their plan to work, they need a pilot in Unit 01 who has no regard for his own life, to feel that there's no joy in life; only pain. Someone who would be willing to die, and take the rest of the world with him. But they also need another kind of pilot, someone who is nothing but a pilot. For whom killing is not only her way of life, it's the only life she knows. And…" As Franz paused, sighing mournfully as he looked away, Kyoko felt like her heart was slowly shattering. It felt like an eternity had passed before he continued. "And they've already planned to cut a deal with your ex-husband. The instant he gets custody of Asuka, they will approach him and arrange for Asuka to begin training as a pilot."
"Custody of Asuka?! But that's impossible!" Kyoko had protested. Then, her scientist's mind began working, processing everything Franz had told her, everything she knew about the monstrous Evangelions…and her heart fell cold. "Unless…"
"That's right," Franz spoke, nodding as he once again anticipated Kyoko's words from beyond the grave. "The only way that will happen is if you're dead or somehow incapable of taking care of Asuka. And…I'm sorry, Kyoko. They've already got a plan in the works for you."
Her mind numbed with horror, Kyoko had simply watched Franz shake his head shamefully. "You know, I'm supposed to be so smart. I helped create the cyborgs; you'd think I'd be able to cook up some plan, some…way for you and Asuka to get away, find someplace out in the boonies where you two can live happily ever after." Taking a moment to snort self-depreciatingly, Franz eyes then narrowed in shame. "But there's no time left. They know I have this information, and it won't be long before I'm dead as well." Kyoko had watched as Franz shook his head helplessly. "As for you…as you know, the Evas need human souls in order to function. Even part of soul would do the job. And they want to use a part of your soul for Asuka's Eva."
"What?!" Kyoko had gasped out, her mind reeling from this fresh horror.
"It seems that…the closer the person is to the soul that's inside the Eva, the better they'll be able to synch with it, to pilot it," Franz had explained. "You have to hand it to them; those half-dead bastards are nothing if not efficient. Not only do they get rid of a problem, but they also get a soul for an Eva and pilot who cares about nothing but killing in the process."
"My…little Wondergirl…" Kyoko had moaned, thinking of the happy little redhead she had left at home just that. She thought of her being shaped by those monsters, of being slowly transformed into a ruthless killer…
"I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Kyoko. The fact is, I'm kinda glad I'll be dead before you hear this. I don't think I'd be able to say all of this to your face, knowing what it meant for the both of you," Franz had confessed mournfully. Then, his eyes narrowed as he leaned closer. "There is one last chance for you, and for Asuka. The transfer amulet for Project: D. The cyborg is 97% complete, and the onboard nanomachines should be good enough to complete the rest. But I can't use it myself. Not without the amulet. That…that means it's all up to you, Kyoko. You have to complete the amulet…and fight them."
By the time Franz had finished explaining everything he had learned about the scenario intended for Kyoko, she had been ready to seek out the Committee and kill every member, even without the power of the cyborg. To think that I've…been helping them create such a nightmare! Kyoko had grimaced, clutching the amulet with such strength that it seemed impossible that it could withstand her grip.
"Kyoko, please, I know this is hard. And if there were any way for me to spare you and Asuka this, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But…there's nothing I can do. I don't have much time, and you're the only one who has direct access to the transfer amulet," Franz explained. "I wish I could do something more. I wish I could fight them…but I can't. It's up to you now. You'll have to fight them. Not only for Asuka and yourself, but for the entire world. We…you can't let them do this. You can't let the Committee destroy the world, for whatever insane reasons they have."
Kyoko just looked hard at the image of her dear friend, tears running down her face as he concluded. "I'm sorry I couldn't do more for you, Kyoko. I'm sorry that…I can't see you again. Hear you laugh, hold your hand. There were…so many things that I wanted to say, to do. But… please, remember that…that I love you and Asuka. Please, do whatever you can to keep the amulet safe, until it's ready" Franz paused at this, looking downward, as if collecting his thoughts. "Again, I'm sorry I couldn't do more for either of you, Kyoko. Please…don't forget me…for I will never forget about you."
As the screen went dark, Kyoko sank down to the ground, numb with horror at everything she had just heard. Everything she had been afraid of had just been confirmed, and so much more. So much worse than she could ever have imagined. The possibility that Franz had been lying or exaggerating never even crossed her mind; he had been too true a friend to lie about something like this, and far too meticulous to take such steps if he weren't sure about his facts.
Then…I will soon be dead…or worse… Kyoko realized, the horror of it all hitting her hard, causing her to curl into a ball, and start crying. Unless I can finish the amulet in time…and keep anybody from discovering it before then!
A few days later, Kyoko was working at a frenzied pace, desperate to make the final key adjustments to the amulet, all the while keeping her fears and misery at bay. During this time, she had also examined her situation, trying to find some way to escape with her life and daughter…but to no avail. Security around the base had been tightened, the people in charge sighting the recent deaths of her colleagues as in excuse to lock down the base.
"It's for your own safety," Kyoko had been told. She now knew otherwise. She had become a prisoner on the base. A prisoner forced to wait until her death. Who knew the horror that would unfold after her body was gone. Thus, Kyoko was left with only one recourse; the cyborg.
It was taking all of her strength to not collapse, to keep working in the face of the inevitable. I have to keep going! If Franz was right…then Asuka will die when the Committee initiates Third Impact! Everything will die!
It was a monstrous endeavor, requiring all of Kyoko's concentration, but finally, everything was in place. The untested amulet was completed, and all the programming required was being processed within its circuits. Let's see…it should take about a day for all the files to finish booting up and for the final safety checks to be completed. I just have to hope that I have enough time.
"Dr. Sohryu," came a voice over the intercom, causing Kyoko to jump halfway out of her skin. "Your presence is required in Lab 47."
Looking about as her heartbeat returned to normal, Kyoko finally let out a deep sigh as she placed her hand over her pounding chest. Just a call. Normal business, remember? she thought to herself, recalling her schedule for the day. It's not like it's the first time you've gotten so lost in your work that they've had to page you!
Taking one final breath, Kyoko took the amulet and placed it beneath her shirt, smiling at the object as she did. It looked so ordinary; shaped like the diamond from a playing card, and colored a dark blue with a triangular purple stripe that went from one side to the other. She had begun wearing it sometime ago, simply because it looked so ordinary. So well insulated that it foiled any attempt to prove that it was something other than just a mundane object. And so perfectly innocent that it was above suspicion. Something that was helped by the fact the amulet had not been in the original blueprints for the cyborgs.
Franz, please keep watch over me, and our little Wondergirl, Kyoko thought as she patted the amulet that now hung beneath her shirt. When the scientist finally left the lab, the amulet continued to process the data and programming that had been placed inside of it, and would continue to do so for the next twenty-four hours.
Twenty-four hours that Kyoko did not have…
Asuka Langley-Sohryu hated visiting her mother.
The four-year-old girl knew that her mother had once been a brilliant scientist, one that spent very little time at home, simply because of the demands of her duties. And Asuka knew those duties were important, having actually been inside of the GEHIRN facility where she worked on one or two occasions. But she had always had the comfort of knowing her mother had loved her.
Asuka knew that Kyoko was no longer the brilliant scientist she once was, and she no longer felt that the woman loved her, either. Some time ago, she had been injured in an accident while at work. When Asuka had heard this, she had feared her mother was dead, just like Uncle Franz had died.
Now she actually found herself wishing that her mother had died. It would have been preferable to what she had to endure now.
Having to visit a broken women who spent her days playing with a doll that Uncle Franz had given her, insisting on calling it Asuka. Even when her own flesh-and-blood daughter stood just a few feet from her. A daughter that the woman just ignored, saying things like, 'How's my little Wondergirl?', and 'Don't pay any attention to that other girl', all the while the real Asuka stood there, pleading for her mother to look at her.
And yet, Asuka was hopeful of something better today. Because of what had happened on her last visit.
Just before her previous visit, Asuka had found the amulet that her mother had been wearing when she had been injured. For a time, the little girl had considered the pretty object, which she had seen her mother wearing almost all the time, and thought of something. That maybe, if her mother saw something Asuka wearing something like this, she would stop paying attention to that cursed doll…and maybe pay attention to her.
But what happened was something Asuka could never have expected. When she had entered Kyoko's room, her mother had been lying in bed, playing with the damned doll, as usual. Cooing to it and lavishing upon it attention she had never shown Asuka herself.
"Mama!!" Asuka had cried out, at the ends of her limits by now with that hateful thing. As was usual, Kyoko had turned to consider Asuka, and for a moment, the little redhead was certain that she would soon look away, go back to playing with the doll. But that was not the case.
Kyoko's eyes had gone wide at the sight of the amulet, and with an inhuman shriek, she had leapt from her bed, throwing the doll away in her eagerness. Throwing it away, even as she scrambled towards Asuka. The redhead shrank back with fear, while Kyoko grabbed hold of the amulet.
At first, it looked like she would try and tear it free from Asuka's neck. Instead, Kyoko had knelt before Asuka for almost a minute, looking at the amulet, running her hands across its surface, considering the dark-blue artifact. Then, before Asuka knew what was happening, Kyoko, her mother, her crazed, broken mother, had wrapped her arms about her, almost crushing her as she pressed her face to her daughter's.
"Keep it safe, Asuka," she got out, never once letting go of Asuka or the amulet. "You must keep it safe. You must keep you safe."
Kyoko continued to ramble on incoherently, but for Asuka, it was like a miracle. Her mother knew who she was. She knew that she was Asuka, not the doll.
The visit afterwards had been short, the doctors being concerned over the sudden change in Kyoko's behavior, but Asuka was thrilled with this discovery. That the amulet had made Mama remember, even for a little while. And if it could happen once…why not again?
It was this reason that led Asuka to wearing the amulet again that day. Led her to hoping that, even as she entered Kyoko's room, the amulet would cause her to spring to life once again, to be her mama again.
A hope that was forever shattered when the little girl entered the room…and saw her mother dangling from the rope wrapped about her neck. The doll that she had once doted upon torn asunder.
As Asuka looked on, drilling this horrid image into her mind for the rest of her life, the amulet that hung about her neck was performing its duty. Acting a on a contingency set in place by Kyoko before her, in case she was killed before she had time to act, it set about gathering up the soul of Kyoko Zeppelin-Sohryu, and storing it within. Waiting for an order that this one half of Kyoko was simply incapable of giving. And it would keep waiting, with one half of Kyoko's soul trapped inside the amulet, while the other would be placed within Eva unit 02. Torn between wanting her daughter to join her in death…and wanting her to live…
Ten years passed since that day, ten years in which Asuka did everything she could to kill the child within, to become an adult, to become self-sufficient. Everything she did, she did with the intention of becoming stronger, better. To be the best Eva Pilot. To be the best at everything. And by the time she was fourteen, she had already graduated from college, and had already been chosen to be the pilot of Evangelion Unit 02.
Asuka had been thrilled by this revelation, knowing that soon, she would have the opportunity to prove her superiority to the world. To bask in the praise and the glory of battle. To show them that the Great Asuka Langley-Sohryu was a force to be reckoned with.
That was her dream, her fantasy. However, reality was another matter altogether.
Instead of instant, easy victories, Asuka suffered setback after setback, defeat after defeat. Instead of the recognition and praise she craved, she had been forced to watch while Shinji, quite possibly the most pathetic person she had ever met, who didn't have even the fraction of the skill she possessed, consistently defeated the Angels that thwarted her, and was thus given the respect that she deserved, that she had earned. Kaji, the one person she felt she could talk to, could relate to, had disappeared. Her ability to pilot Unit 02 was degrading as her synch ratio deteriorated. And now, as if to add insult to injury, PMS had come calling.
"It's not fair!!" she got dressed, getting ready to go to NERV for another harmonics test. Another chance to find out how far the mighty had fallen. "I've given everything I had to Eva! Everything!!"
Growling as the memory of her ultimate failure returned, at how her prized Unit 02 had been effortlessly shattered by the 14th Angel, only to be single-handedly annihilated by the Invincible baka Shinji and his inferior, uncontrollable prototype monster, Asuka tossed about several of her belongings as she ranted and raged in her room. She threw things, threw tantrums, and vented her rage upon boxes of her clothes and various belongings.
As she threw one of the boxes, Asuka watched as it exploded all over the place, sending clothes and various objects all over her room. As the various garments from her native Germany, rained down to the floor, she heard something hard clatter to the floor. Frowning at the sound, Asuka looked about…only to have her eyes widen in surprise.
The amulet, she thought as she looked at the dark bauble that had once belonged to her mother. Moving over to diamond-shaped ornament, Asuka slowly picked it up and held it in her hands.
Asuka had not worn the amulet since that fateful day her mother had hung herself. Since she had torn apart the doll she thought was Asuka. Killed her own 'daughter'. The memories attached to the object were just too heavy to be born under.
"Damn you," she hissed out, her features twisting with rage as she considered the object. "You were supposed to bring her back!!" With that, Asuka turned towards the window, and reared back, taking careful aim
However, just as she was getting ready to rid herself of the object, the voice of Kyoko whispered in her mind. Keep it safe, Asuka, the voice said, Kyoko's words coming in the voice she had used back when she was still her, when she was still Asuka's mama. You must keep it safe. You must keep you safe.
As these words flashed within Asuka's mind, her mother's last moment of sparkling sanity, her anger quickly cooled. And for a time, she stood there, considering the amulet. Then, with a frown, she took the object, and hung about her own neck.
The impossible happened once before because of this thing, Asuka thought, just before she readied to go to NERV. Maybe it still has one more miracle in it.
Little did she know how much she would need that miracle…
There were times when Misato Katsuragi honestly hated her life. This was a feeling that had been growing by leaps and bounds lately. The war with the Angels had been getting nastier with each passing engagement. Toji Suzuhara, the former 4th Child, had been crippled when his Unit 03 had been possessed by the 13th Angel, forcing NERV to destroy it. Both Units 00 and 02 had suffered horrific amounts of damage in battle against the 14th Angel, and Shinji had later been absorbed by Unit 01 after narrowly defeating that monster. And not so long ago, Misato had learned that her former lover, Ryoji Kaji, was now dead, leaving her to finish the job he had started; discovering the truth about NERV.
And of course, just when Misato had thought things couldn't get any worse, Murphy's Law kicked in and another Angel appeared to ruin her day.
"We have a visual of the target," Lieutenant Shigeru Aoba announced, even as his fingers rained down upon his controls, calling up an image of the latest threat to humanity. Before Misato's eyes came the image of a creature that almost looked like the wings of another kind of Angel, the kind that were written about in religious texts. Except that they were pink, and almost looked like they were on fire amongst the darkness of space. "We're at maximum magnification."
"It's in orbit, just outside our defense envelope," Lieutenant Makoto Hyuga informed everyone.
"Yeah, and it's maintaining a constant distance from us," Shigeru added.
"So, is looking for a cozy landing spot, or is planning on wiping us out from way up there?" Misato wondered in an almost tired manner.
"We can't attack it! Not at this range!" Makoto stated unhappily.
"Agreed. Unless it comes within our range, there's not a lot we can do in way of offense." Misato gritted, not liking this. Making matters worse was the fact that she could think of just one way of maybe luring the thing closer; dangling an Eva in front of it like bait.
Misato hated such tactics almost as much as she hated 'maybes'.
"How's Rei and Unit 00?" Misato asked the techs.
"Rei and Unit 00 are good to go," Lieutenant Maya Ibuki replied.
Looking at the monitor grimly, Misato began giving orders. "All right. Prepare to mobilize Unit 00. Rei, prepare for long distance combat. Asuka, standby and be ready to back her up in Unit 02."
"What?!" Asuka got out, unable to believe what she was hearing. "You want me to backup Unit 00?!"
"That's right!" Misato answered coolly. "Take the rear position and cover her back!"
At these words, all reason flew from Asuka's mind. All she could think of how, earlier that day, she had been riding the elevator with Rei, who had had the gall to tell Asuka that everything wrong with her piloting ability was all the German's fault. And now Misato wants to place me second to that…that Gott-damned doll?!!
"No way!! You can't be serious!!" Asuka howled at this final affront to her pride. "Forget that!! EVA Unit 02, launch!!"
"Asuka!!" Dr. Ritsuko Akagi screeched as the electromagnetic catapult carried Unit 02 up towards the surface.
"No, it's okay. Just let her take the point," Misato spoke, as if tired of debating such matters. Because she was. She had tried talking to Asuka, done everything she could think of for her and the other children, and none of it seemed to have mattered. Because no matter the situation, for Asuka, nothing was as important as her pride.
Not even her own life.
"Are you sure about that, Major?!" Makoto asked incredulously.
"If Asuka screws up again, she won't be allowed to pilot anymore," Ritsuko said in a manner that showed she wasn't asking a question.
Misato didn't answer. All she could do was listen to Ritsuko and Maya whisper about the potential for Asuka's replacement, and wish she could employ Shinji and Unit 01. If only Commander Ikari hadn't ordered it to be locked in cryo-stasis, she thought unhappily, feeling the cold gaze of her Commander looming down upon her from above.
It was raining. Rain was coming down so heavily upon Tokyo-3, anyone who was outside at the time would be instantly soaked to the skin. A setting that suited Asuka's mood perfectly.
As Unit 02 stepped somewhat clumsily onto the streets, Asuka looked up at the sky, as if trying to see the Angel with her naked eyes. She listened for the alarms that signaled the arrival of her weapon; a Type-20 positron rifle. She watched as one of the many access hatches opened up, and through which came the massive weapon.
"I have to do this," the German growled, even as she moved Unit 02 to lift up the rifle, activated her targeting visor as she did. "You have to do this, Asuka. Do it…or you'll never be allowed to pilot again." With these words, she looked down at the amulet that now hung about her neck, and growled. "And you better not hold me back, or I really will throw you out this time!"
For a time, the redhead could do nothing but wait as the targeting indicators fluttered about before her, wait for them to align for a perfect shot. "The target is remaining in relative position to us," came Makoto's voice.
"Dammit it to hell! What's taking you so long?!" Asuka asked her enemy above. "Just come down so I can kill you already!!"
Then, just as the two indicators started moving towards each other, and Asuka allowed herself a moment to think that she might have an easy kill this time, she gasped. A light filled her field of vision…and sent her mind reeling.
Wincing as alarms sounded within NERV, Misato gritted as she tried to understand what she was seeing. "The Angel has a particle beam weapon?!" she asked.
"Negative! No thermal emissions detected!" Shigeru reported.
"The psychograph is going crazy!" Maya cried out. "Mental contamination is immenent!"
"It's attacking across the ego borderline?!" Ritsuko marveled in horror. "The Angels understand us that well?!"
Meanwhile, Asuka screamed in agony, her Eva spasming uncontrollably as she struggled with the enemy within her. Caught between desperation and madness, she fired off round after round from her positron rifle. Some of which were launched into the depths of space, missing completely, while others rained down upon Tokyo-3 itself, sending massive plumes of fire and destruction into the air. Sphere after deadly sphere spat from the barrel of her weapon…until Unit 02 pulled the trigger, only to result in nothing.
"No! The rifle is out of ammo!" Shigeru announced needlessly.
"What's the beam's composition?!" Misato demanded.
"It's some kind of energy oscillation! It's similar to an AT-Field!" Makoto reported.
"What's Asuka's status?" Ritsuko asked worriedly.
"Mental contamination has crossed the borderline!" Maya cried out. "We're losing her!"
"No! Stay out of my mind!!" Asuka cried out, even as she felt the Angel burning through to her mind. Boring its way through the many barriers she had set up within herself. Every wall that she had slowly put up between herself and everything that was painful in her life began to crumble, even as she and Unit 02 convulsed madly.
Strangled. Hatred. Shame. Double suicide. Invader. These words and torrent of horrible images flooded Asuka's consciousness, and more. So much more, overloading her mind. She could no longer fight mentally, let alone physically.
"Get out of my mind!!" Asuka howled, even as Misato and the others were helpless to do anything but listen to her torment. "Please! It's raping my mind!!"
"Asuka!!!!" Misato cried, unable to believe this was happening.
"Psychograph is at critical!" Maya reported.
"We have to get her out of there!" Ritsuko stated. "Her mind's on the verge of collapse!"
"Get out of there, Asuka! Pull back now!!" Misato ordered, despite feeling that her pleas were useless.
"Nooo!!" Asuka howled.
"That was an order!!" Misato shrieked. "I'm ordering you to retreat!!"
"Never!!" Asuka got out. "I'd rather die than be defeated!!"
No! came another voice in her mind, one that stunned Asuka. Stunned her by causing the power of the Angel to fade away, by putting up another wall between her and the light that threatened to consume her. No! You must live!!
"What the…?!" Asuka wondered as she looked about, only to stare in awe at the amulet about her neck. It was glowing with a light of its own, floating away from her. Before her astonished eyes, Asuka saw the amulet glowing ever more brightly, even as it and the Eva reacted to the invasive power of the Angel.
As both halves of Kyoko's soul were stirred to life, the part of her that had been trapped within the Eva sensed the presence of her other half, of the amulet, and remembered. Knew what she had to do to save herself, and protect Asuka. And thus it used the power shining down from the Angel to escape the Eva, and join with the half of her inside of amulet, and gave it the order it had been waiting to receive for the past ten years. With a final blast of light, the amulet summoned the cyborg body that had lay hidden to that place, and fused with it. Instilling it with the compete mind and soul of Kyoko Zeppelin-Sohryu, and allowing her to be reborn as the last creation of Project: D.
"What the hell is going on out there?!" Misato demanded, trying to make sense of a chaotic puzzle of information. Before her eyes, Asuka's psychograph returned to normal, for which she was relieved. But the rest…
"Unit 02 is going offline! All systems are failing!!" Shigeru announced, even as the crimson titan slumped over backwards, letting the positron rifle fall to the ground.
"What's happening?!" Ritsuko wondered, her eyes wide. "There's been no damage, but -!"
Then, before everybody's eyes, the armored surface of Unit 02 began to bulge. Bubbles began forming in the area surrounding the Entry Plug, only to rupture as streams of dark energy came pouring out. Then, before their horrified eyes, the Eva convulsed one last time…just before the top of it exploded. Everything from the waist up was blown apart, revealing two figures, hovering in the air. One appeared to be Asuka, and the other…
"Oh, my God…" Misato got out slowly, staring in awe at the ebon being that had just destroyed Unit 02. It was clearly humanoid, apparently female, and appeared to be wearing dark blue armor with silver trim and shoulder pads and gauntlets. The gauntlets appeared to be fitted with three claws each, and what looked like some kind of semi-circular wings spread out from the sides of its body to its arms. There was a diamond-shaped object set in the armored figure's chest, and the helmet it wore gave it an almost avian appearance.
After several seconds of scrutinizing the creature's appearance, Misato asked, "What the hell is that?!"
"I…I don't know, sir!" Makoto reported, his eyes wide as he looked at the information coming up before him. "I'm detecting an AT-Field coming from it, as well as several energy fields in effect, but…!"
"It can't be…" came Gendo's voice, causing Misato to look up and above at her Commander. The Major's eyes widened, then narrowed as she watched Gendo's features be washed over with shock. "A Darkhawk? Here?!"
"Ikari…" Fuyutsuki frowned, the old professor looking from the screen to his student and back.
"A Darkhawk?!" Misato repeated, her attention divided between Gendo and the situation unfolding outside. "Sir…you know what that thing is?!"
"Major! That thing is on the move!" Makoto reported, causing Misato to focus on the screen. She saw that he was indeed correct. The armored figure was quickly flying away from the beam, the redhead still in its arms.
"What about Asuka?! What's her status?!" Misato demanded, searching the screen.
"We're still getting telemetry from her Plug Suit," Maya announced. "She's appears to be alright."
This did nothing to soothe Misato's fears. The fact remained that Unit 02 had been destroyed, and one of the children was in the arms of an entity unknown to her...
"W-what the…?!" Asuka got out, even as her mind slowly recovered from the assault it had been subjected to. "What's…going on…?"
"You must live…" came a voice Asuka didn't recognize. A voice that was distorted. Artificial.
"Huh?" Asuka gaped, shaking her head in an effort to clear it. As she became more aware, she realized that she was no longer inside of Unit 02. Instead, she was being carried in the arms of…something.
"You must live," the strange creature said again, even as it landed upon the top of a building, and slowly set her down. Then the creature hugged her fiercely, with such strength that Asuka thought she would suffocate from it. "You must live. You must."
"W-what?!" Asuka floundered, squirming about in the creature's grasp even as she tried to get a better look at it. It was apparently human in shape, female, and wearing some kind of armor. But what truly riveted her attention was that the amulet, her mother's amulet, was now imbedded in its chest. "What the Hell are you?!"
At these words, the armored woman seemed stricken. "What…?" she started, pulling back to stare at Asuka. "You…don't know me…?"
"How in Gott's name should I know what you are?!" Asuka demanded incredulously. "Where did you come from?! And how'd you get…"
Just as the redhead was getting truly worked up, Asuka's eyes went wide as she trailed off. The armored woman cocked her head at her, then turned to look in the direction Asuka was, and gasped as she saw the beam of the 15th Angel's power still coming down to the Earth, and it was coming closer.
"No…" the armored woman hissed, her artificial voice almost frightening as she looked up at the sky. "No. You won't hurt her again. You won't hurt her again!!"
"What?!" Asuka gasped even as the armored figure shot up into the air, howling her rage as she flew up higher and higher. Before the German had the chance to even think, the dark woman had broken through the clouds, and disappeared from sight.
"Wha…what's going on…?" Asuka wondered, shaking her head in disbelief. Frowning in thought, Asuka continued to look about…only to gasp in horror at what she saw. "My Eva!!" Asuka howled, her face a picture of anguish as she looked at the broken form of Unit 02, which had been reduced to a pair of legs standing in the middle of the streets.
Numbed by what she saw, Asuka could do nothing but fall to her knees, tears of hopelessness falling from her face. "That's it," she got out, feeling nothing but utter futility. "My life's over. I have…nothing. I'm…worthless now…"
"You won't hurt my daughter again," Kyoko muttered, over and over again, even as she rose up higher into the sky, her Darkhawk body unfazed by the growing cold and fading levels of oxygen. She and her fellow scientists had created it too perfectly; despite being untested in the field, it functioned flawlessly now.
There were many differences between her current form and her original flesh and blood, but Kyoko didn't care. Her mind was presently skipping about in an aberrant fashion, the two portions of her soul having been separated for so long, but Kyoko didn't care. All she cared about, all she could really focus on, was the fact that this Angel had hurt her daughter. That Asuka, her little Wondergirl, had had her mind violated by the heartless abomination that was hovering above her. And she would not let that happen again.
Time and again, the Angel tried to strike her down with its mental powers, but the Darkhawk body was simply too small and agile to be hit easily. Every time the beam came close, Kyoko effortlessly spiraled out of its way, and continued her assent. Continued into the very vacuum of space, leaving the clouds far beneath her. Continued until she could see the vile monstrosity that had raped her precious little girl's very soul.
"Die!" Kyoko hissed out, even as she unleashed the full power of her cybernetic body. Ebon light began pouring out from the amulet and wrapping itself around her body, surrounding her in an ebon fog that continued to grow. The shapeless mass of power slowly took form. From the sphere of dark energy emerged a claw, then a wing. These things and more continued to take greater form and definition, until a monstrous, shadowy bird appeared before the Angel.
Even as Kyoko charged, the Angel once again lanced out with its psychic beam, intent on ripping her mind apart. It made Kyoko relive every terror it could rip from her mind.
It gave her visions of her fears when she learned that she may soon die…but she had already faced death. It had given her visions of her Asuka's slow transformation into a killing machine…but the part of Kyoko that had been trapped within the Eva was already aware of her daughter's pain, and was furious about it.
The Angel made her go through the horrors Kyoko had felt with the death of every friend and colleague of hers from Project: D, but she had already relived them. Every moment she had labored to prepare the amulet, she had seen their dead faces. And she was long past horror at such thoughts. The loss of her friends and loved ones only served to spur her on to greater heights of rage. And as the monstrous hawk-form she now wore descended upon the Angel, its beam cut out. For just before the devastating predator began ripping it apart with its beak and claws, subjecting it to all the rage she had felt over the years, the Angel realized that its terrors meant nothing to a woman who had already faced death, had already lived her worst nightmares, and had returned from it.
"Omigod…" Misato gasped as she watched a hawk that seemed to be made of nothing but darkness rip into the Angel with such absolute savagery that even she was taken aback. "We couldn't even get near it, and…and that thing…"
"Yeah…" Makoto muttered, his jaw hanging down to floor as he stared in awe at shattered Angel. The fragments of its brilliant wings were already disintegrating into nothingness as they fell into Earth's atmosphere, igniting brilliantly before burning away.
Gendo was not impressed. If anything, he was even more infuriated.
For over a decade, he had been planning for every element of his scenario, every element that would be reunited with the Earth being cleansed of sin, of his being reunited with his beloved Yui for all eternity. And one of the most crucial elements of his scenario…was the disposal of the Lance of Longinus.
This Angel was to be his avenue for that action. An avenue that had been closed to him, thanks to this creature.
How can a Darkhawk be here?! Gendo thought as he stared at the screen, watching the creature that had so effortlessly foiled him begin its return to Earth. They were supposed to have been destroyed ten years ago! How could one have survived, and come to be here, just now?!
"Major, that thing is approaching Tokyo-3," Shigeru reported, watching the screen before him intently.
"Alright, but let's be careful," Misato mused, folding her arms across her chest. "It may have destroyed an Angel, but…"
"Never mind that, Major Katsuragi," came Gendo's voice, a voice that was filled with barely constrained fury. As all eyes once again settled upon him, the Commander stood and looked at the main screen with eyes of stone. "Effective immediately, I'm taking personal command of this operation. Rei?"
"Yes, Commander?" came the subdued voice of the 1st Child.
"Prepare to mobilize Unit 00," Gendo ordered. "Your orders are to destroy this interloper by any means necessary."
"What?" Misato returned, once again looking at her Commander in confusion. "But, sir, we still have no idea as to this creature's capabilities, and…!"
"Launch Unit 00!!" Gendo roared, unable to believe just how readily he had been thwarted. "Rei! Your orders are to destroy the intruder! At any cost!!"
"Yes, sir," Rei responded easily.
"Sir, I must protest this action," Misato continued, looking unflinchingly at her Commander. "Asuka is still out there, and completely exposed. A battle now will put her at undue risk."
"That's right!" Shinji added from where he sat in Unit 01. "Besides, that thing…it destroyed the Angel, so maybe…?"
"Enough. The destruction of the intruder must be our priority, Major Katsuragi. And with the loss of Evangelion Unit 02, the 2nd Child is no longer of any use to us," Gendo stated flatly. Completely oblivious to the looks given to him by the people there, the Commander looks straight at the screen. "You have your orders, Rei."
For the longest time Asuka knelt on the roof, staring at the shattered Eva that had once been hers. She thought of every that had happened since she had first laid eyes on the machine that had brought her so much pride, that had signified that she truly was superior to the majority of the drudges on the planet. She thought of the numerous defeats and humiliations she had suffered while piloting, things she had been quick to blame on the Eva itself.
And now it's gone…everything's gone… Asuka whined inwardly, shaking her head in despair as she found her gaze lowering. She would never be able to pilot an Eva again.
Lost in thought, Asuka fought back further tears, even as she heard a strange sound, that as of something rushing through the wind. Looking up, the German's face twisted into an expression of rage and hatred as she watched the creature that had stolen everything from her descending.
"You…" Asuka hissed as the thing landed a few feet away from her. "Gott damn you!!"
"What…?" the creature flinched, stopping in mid-stride.
"Look at what you did! My Eva is gone, all because of you!!" Asuka snarled as she got to her feet, pointing at the shattered remnants of her crimson titan. Her hand quavered with the sheer force of emotion coursing through her entire body.
The strange woman paused momentarily, only to raise her hands out towards Asuka. "But…I just…you…I was just trying to…"
"To what? Help me?!" Asuka screeched incredulously as she backed away, tears free-flowing down her face. "I didn't want your help, I didn't need your help! I'd rather be dead right now!!"
"No!" the armored figure cried out, as if someone had just driven a dagger into her heart. She continued to move towards Asuka, though her gait was badly shaken. "Please…don't…I…"
"Get away from me!!" Asuka shrilled, turning to run. However, as her face turned from despair to horror, she realized that she had nowhere to run but open space. As she looked at the many stories of empty space before her, her sudden momentum continued to work against her as one of her feet caught upon the edge of the roof, and was sent tumbling through the air!
Stricken with terror as she watched her daughter fell, her limbs flailing helpless in the air. Without a thought, Kyoko leapt after her, her cybernetic body's flight system enabling her to catch up with the fearful redhead with little effort. Wrapping her arms about the girl with utmost tenderness, the cybernetic woman began her ascent, carrying Asuka in the bridal position as she continued to soar through Tokyo-3.
Out of breath and stunned by the shock of her brush with death and all the adrenaline flooding her system, Asuka simply looked at being that had destroyed her life, and felt all of the hatred and frustration she had felt over the course of her life surge up through her throat. "Damn you! Just let me die!!"
"No. No, you must live!" the armored woman cried out. "You must keep safe, Asuka. You must keep you safe. You must live…my little Wondergirl."
Asuka was ready to roar, to verbally tear into the being holding her. However, just before she could say a word, something about the woman's words struck home. The tone was different, but the words, the inflection, everything about them reached deep within her. To a time, ten years ago, when she was confronted with a broken woman, exerting the last shreds of sanity she possessed. Then she looked at the amulet imbedded in the armored figure's chest, and only one word could reach the redhead's lips.
"Mama…?" Asuka gasped…only to cry out at the sound of gunfire.
Looking about, Kyoko found the source of the sudden attack. The blue Cyclops known as Unit 00 had emerged to battle, brandishing an immense pallet rifle. Before either of the Germans could react in any way, Rei took aim once again, and sent another hailstorm of bullets flying towards them.
"No! Stay away from her!!" Kyoko screeched, rolling out of the line of fire.
"Mama? Mama!" Asuka cried out, wrapping her arms about Kyoko in confusion, desperately clinging to her even as Rei pressed her attack, charging at the two of them as she continued to fire. Leaping over a series of buildings, Unit 00 sent another burst of fire and metal flying at them.
Looking this way and that, Kyoko desperately searched for an avenue of escape. As distorted as her thinking was, she still knew that she couldn't simply hide Asuka on a roof or in one of the buildings. If a battle ensued between herself and Unit 00, then half the city could be destroyed before she could do anything about it. Asuka could be trampled underfoot by the synthetic giant, or crushed by a collapsing building.
Where can we go?! Where can I hide her?! Kyoko wondered desperately, even as Unit 00 continued to bear down upon them, winding its way past the various buildings as she flew chaotic circles around the Eva's various attacks. At one point, however, the Eva was held up, stalled when its umbilical caught upon one of the buildings.
Wait! The umbilical!! Kyoko thought feverishly. Without any further thought, she pushed her Darkhawk body for all the speed it was capable of, dropping down lower to the streets. As the rain continued to pour down upon her, she wove about the many buildings, do everything she could to avoid detection by the massive predator stalking them, until she found what she was looking for. Unit 00's umbilical, and the trail it marked into the depths of the geofront, and NERV Headquarters.
Immediately, Kyoko began to follow the winding trail laid out by the massive power cable, keeping aware of Unit 00's position as she flew onward. Have to keep going…have to keep Asuka safe…must get her to safety… These were the only thoughts Kyoko had as she surged towards the waiting egress from which Unit 00 had emerged. Thoughts that were interrupted by another burst of gunfire!
Looking over her mother's shoulder, Asuka blanched at the sight of Unit 00 towering over the many buildings, once again firing relentlessly at them "Dammit, 1st Child!! Stop firing, already! It's me!!!" Asuka shrieked at the terrifying figure chasing them down. If Rei heard Asuka's words, she showed no sign of it. She just continued to chase them, trying to anticipate Kyoko's erratic maneuvering so that she could land a direct shot.
Guess Wondergirl really would do anything Commander Ikari says! Asuka thought ruefully, remembering her earlier conversation with the albino. Including killing me!
While Asuka screamed, Kyoko's frantically did everything within her power to avoid being stricken. She zigged and zagged about the streets, even as Rei's misses sent plumes of metal and concrete flyihng into the air, covering her and Asuka with grit and grime. The redhead winced in fear, clinging even more tightly to her mother's armored form.
As for Kyoko, even as she flew, she did everything she could to keep as much of her own form between Unit 00 and Asuka. She knew that Rei had expanded the Eva's AT-Field; the Darkhawk body's own protective barrier was now effectively useless. And although Kyoko's relative small size, speed, and agility had succeeded in keeping them more-or-less safe, she knew her luck couldn't last forever. Something that Rei's next shot drove home.
"Arghh!!" Kyoko cried out, agony ripping its way through her mind as she very nearly fell to the streets. Rei's latest barrage had succeeded in brushing against her, but with her AT-Field neutralized, this shot was enough.
"Mama!!" Asuka screamed, horrified as she saw where Rei's shots had stricken her. Saw chunks blasted out of the ebon being's back, saw how severely her armor had been cracked. Heard her mother groaning in pain.
Kyoko didn't care. She had been pain before. She had her arms ripped away and her head torn off as the soul of Unit 02 when the Eva had last gone into battle. She watched everything she had cared for in life be taken away from her. The damage she had suffered this day was nothing compared to that. All she cared about was protecting all that was left to her. Her beloved daughter. And every thought she had was on getting to the waiting access shaft, even as Unit 00 bore down upon them, firing constantly.
Just before she reached the relative safety of the shaft, Kyoko's luck once again faltered. Another one of Rei's shots connected, cracking open Kyoko's right leg. As sparks flew and smoke billowed from the injury, even more of her body mass were sent flying away to the sound of Asuka screaming. The broken limb dragged on the street for a moment before another near miss sent the two of them into a tumble. Cartwheeling into the shaft, the two of them flew uncontrollably towards the far wall.
Quickly adjusting their angle, Kyoko made sure that her Darkhawk body took the brunt of the crash when she impacted upon the far wall. With a sharp bounce, the two of them were then sent to a fall of what looked like several miles.
"Mama! Mama!!" Asuka cried out fearfully, even as Kyoko groaned with the strain. Between Rei's lucky shots and the harsh crash she had just endured, her Darkhawk body had already taken substantial internal damage.
Gliders at 57% and falling, S2 Engine failing, neural network overloaded… Kyoko thought as her HUD revealed the severity of the damage she had taken.
"Full power to gliders! Maximum lift!" Kyoko cried out even as she mentally redirected the flow of power to where it was needed the most. Ignoring the tormented groan the gliders let out as they were pushed to their limits, ignoring the various system malfunctions and abnormalities, Kyoko look down towards the bottom of the shaft. And realized that they weren't slowing down fast enough.
As Asuka whimpered in fear, her eyes screwed shut, Kyoko held her even tighter with her right arm before aiming her left down below. With a sharp hiss, she launched her claw-like grappler at one of the walls. The claws dug into the metal, the line quickly growing taut as Kyoko used the claw-cable to shape her fall, using her momentum to swing upwards.
When the claw finally tore free of its purchase, the two of them were sent flying upwards, allowing Kyoko the time she needed to regain control. Once again, Kyoko began to fall, but much more slowly. Allowing her the time she needed to find a maintenance hatch, and hover before it. Digging her free hand into the metal, Kyoko let out a slight grunt as she pealed it open. Dragging herself and Asuka into the shaft.
Grunting with the effort, Kyoko finally collapsed with Asuka on top of her, her Darkhawk body protesting over every slight movement. For a time, the two of them simply lay there, looking into the darkness.
Asuka simply couldn't believe what was going on. So much had happened, so quickly, that she was still staggered by it. Her Eva's destruction, the Angel being killed, the emergence of this woman from the amulet…
"Mama?" Asuka gasped out as her heartbeat slowly returned to normal. Shifting about in the maintenance shaft, Asuka turned to look at the faceplate of the woman. "Is that…can it…are you…?"
Wincing in pain, Kyoko nodded. "Yes…"
Frowning, Asuka then scrutinized the creature before her. "But…how? I…?"
Managing a slight laugh as a bit of the Asuka she had once known came to the surface, Kyoko managed to sit up slightly. "That's…a long story," she smiled.
Snorting somewhat, Asuka looked about at their surroundings. "Well, it's not like we're going anywhere really soon."
"That's true," Kyoko admitted with a forced laugh. "Then…I might as well tell you." And for a long time, Kyoko did that. She recounted everything that had happened as result of Project: D. She told Asuka of Franz's discoveries, and how she had been planning to use the last Darkhawk to fight when half of her soul had been taken by Unit 02.
"Then…that's why they wanted me as a pilot?" Asuka let out, almost shattered by the many revelations. "Because…part of you was in the Eva?"
"Yes," Kyoko responded, drawing her daughter into a deep hug.
"And…this is what you were making?" Asuka marveled examining the battle-torn cyborg body she now wore. "That's why you couldn't come home? And why…Uncle Franz…?"
Nodding, Kyoko just kept clutching her beloved daughter. "Asuka, I'm so sorry. I…" she got out, shaking her head miserably. "I wanted so much to tell you, to be with you, but…"
"I…its okay…Mama…" Asuka got out, managing a slight smile as she ran her hand across the surface of the amulet, the haven for her mother's soul.
I guess…you brought Mama back after all, the redhead thought, unable to believe how close she had come to throwing the amulet away. It's a bit late, but…I guess I'll forgive you.
Looking at her daughter, Kyoko ran her hands across Asuka's cheek, and was grateful for the care and attention given to the creation of the Darkhawk cyborgs. Grateful for the tactile sensors that allowed her to feel her daughter's cheek, the olfactory receivers that enabled her to smell her hair. For every system that enabled her to be a mother again for her.
Even if it was only to be for a short time.
"Asuka, please, listen to me," Kyoko spoke, drawing her daughter's gaze. "We don't have much time. I'm sure NERV has people looking for us, and…this body is badly damaged."
"What?" Asuka returned, her eyes wide as she looked at her mother's helmeted visage. Then, with a quivering frown, she scrutinized the crackling circuits and sundered organics that lay exposed by the shattered armor.
"But…wait, Mama! I'm sure it can all be fixed!" Asuka answered in a desperate voice. "I mean…the Evas get torn up all the time, and…"
"Asuka, you know as well as I do that NERV wouldn't allow that," Kyoko returned, her hand on her daughter's cheek. "If they find us, they'll do everything they can to destroy me. They already tried it once, remember?"
"But…" Asuka protested.
"This…isn't even my real body, Asuka," Kyoko explained, gesturing at the current vessel of her soul. "This Darkhawk body is made of machines and tissue cloned from the Angels. It's…just like the Evas."
Another prison for Mama's soul… Asuka thought bitterly, her eyes beginning to tear up. She remembered seeing the true face of Unit 01, when the horned destroyer had torn off much of its own armor after assimilating the S2 organ of the 14th Angel. She imagined such a face beneath Kyoko's helmet, as belonging to her mother.
Asuka almost collapsed into tears at the very image.
"Besides, there's something I still have to do," Kyoko explained, taking Asuka's head in both hands angling it so that the two of them were looking into each other's eyes. "Franz programmed this body for one specific purpose; to find Adam and destroy it. Forever."
Asuka frowned unhappily at this. "But…but, Mama! You don't have to do that!"
"Yes, I do," Kyoko countered gently. "You see, as long as Adam exists, the Committee will be able to carry out their plans for 3rd Impact. To destroy the world and everything living in it. And…I can't let that happen, Asuka. I want you to live. To have a world you can be happy in."
"No," Asuka protested, shaking her head desperately. "You…you've already been through too much, and…I just got you back, and…besides, if we tell everyone…"
"No, Asuka. There's no time left. I have to move quickly. At the very least, I can draw attention away from you. Keep you safe." That said, Kyoko gave a mental command to the body she now wore. With that thought, the gauntlet of her right arm opened up, revealing a network of complex circuitry. From it she removed a small memory unit. "This jump drive holds everything Franz was able to find out about the Committee's plans. He told me about it in his message, and if something goes wrong…"
"Mama, please…" Asuka pleaded, misery writing itself across her features.
"If something goes wrong, I need you to give this someone you can trust. Someone who will help you get this information out," Kyoko explained, placing the drive in Asuka's hand. She then took her daughter in a deep embrace. "Keep it safe, Asuka. You must keep it safe. You must keep you safe."
In that moment, ten years rolled away, and Asuka was a tiny girl again. Wrapped in the arms of a shattered woman, even as the final blow was levied against the walls surrounding her heart. And tears exploded from her eyes. Neither of them knew how long they stayed that way.
But Kyoko knew it wasn't long enough. It could never have been long enough.
Finally pulling away, Kyoko looked at Asuka for one last time. "Please, take care of yourself, my little Wondergirl. And never forget, never doubt that…I love you."
With these words, Kyoko stood with difficulty. Her right leg crackled with the damage done to it, its internal support structure already buckling, causing her to limp badly as she moved away as she moved towards the maintenance hatch. Looking at her daughter, Kyoko embraced her destiny, and allowed gravity to embrace her. Falling backwards away from the hatch, she once again activated her gliders, and followed the trail her sensors painted for her. Following the genetic trail of Adam, even as Asuka scrabbled to the entrance to the hatch, watching in awe as her mother took flight.
"Where is that thing?" Gendo inquired, looking at his bridge staff like they were completely incompetent. Which he was beginning to think they were.
"I don't know, sir," Makoto responded. "There's been no sign of this…Darkhawk on any of the monitors."
"Negative here, sir," Maya chimed in.
"Yeah, there's no sign of that thing anywhere," Shigeru added.
As Gendo's eyes narrowed in supreme disgust, Misato eyed him questioningly. "Sir, you never did explain what's going on here," she demanded, folding her arms across her chest. "What the Hell is a Darkhawk?! And how do you know so much about it?! Why -?!"
Misato was never able to finish her sentence, for at that moment, one of the walls of the bridge exploded in a bath of dark light. As chunks of metal and circuitry were sprayed every which way, the various personnel shielded their eyes from the resulting dust and debris. When the sudden storm cleared, they turned and saw the shattered form of Darkhawk standing there, brandishing her deadly claws at Gendo.
"I…am Darkhawk," Kyoko grated, scanning the bridge, and immediately recognizing most of the people there. The half of her that had been inside of Unit 02 had seen many of them, had seen them in Asuka's mind when her daughter had synched with the Eva.
The face that drew the entirety of her focus, however, was that of Gendo Ikari.
Kyoko gritted inwardly. She remembered all the times this man had come to the Eva cages to boast to Yui, the soul of Unit 01, of all his plans for the world. How they would be together again in a world that held no one but themselves. That they would be alone with each other for all eternity.
You decided that you alone had the right to be happy, that no one mattered but you, Kyoko growled in her own mind, even as her sensors pinned the exact location of Adam. Her eyes narrowed as a quick double-check of her sensors confirmed the data: Adam had been grafted to Gendo's right hand. Your ass is mine, you bastard!
"Stop right there!" Misato ordered, drawing out her gun and pointing it at the intruder. Kyoko didn't even listen, didn't turn to look.
Before Gendo had the chance to draw his gun, Kyoko launched herself at Gendo. Wrapping her arms about his body, she crashed through another wall. "Let's take this somewhere else!" she growled, even as Gendo spat out an agonized cry at the sudden rough treatment.
Kyoko rammed through wall after wall, catapulting the two of them through the base until she found a space completely devoid of human activity. The shaft that led to Terminal Dogma. A space in which her gliders finally sputtered, and died.
This is it! I have to do it now! Kyoko thought frantically as she felt the lurching of her insides that signified freefall. Computer! Load program, 'The Apple'!
With that thought, even as the two of them grappled in mid-air, Kyoko ripped off the glove obscuring Gendo's right hand. Looking at the horrendous creature Gendo had made a part of his own body, Kyoko felt her biomechanical organs shifting in revulsion. "Run program!" she cried out as she placed her hand upon Adam's flesh. With those words, the power of her S2 Engine was channeled into Adam…and initiated Third Impact.
The power Darkhawk unleashed, however, was not the Third Impact SEELE had envisioned. Nor was it that hoped for by Gendo, or even the Angels. Instead, this was a closed Impact, extremely focused, localized…and incredibly intense. A vortex of orange fire erupted from Adam, just barely contained within Darkhawk's own AT-Field.
As Gendo screamed in agony, four wings of orange light appeared around them, only to collapse about both their bodies. Flesh and blood was torn away from his body, only to be reduced to LCL even as they continued to fall. Adam itself was seared by the force of its own power, burning away completely, even as Kyoko suffered as well.
I do not accept this, the woman long dead cried out in her mind. I choose to live. I choose to remain an individual being. I choose to remain Kyoko Zeppelin-Sohryu. Even as these thoughts ran their course, her systems were slowly overwhelmed by the power of Adam, and the strain of keeping it contained. One by one, her circuits overloaded, her organic tissues burned, her mind flooded with images beyond her ability to understand. Her internal nano-defenses struggled to keep her body from being corrupted by Adam even as it slowly self-destructed.
The strain was beyond anything Kyoko could have ever imagined, and yet she endured. She endured because she chose to do so. Because to surrender…would be to fail everything she held dear. Her Franz, her Asuka…her everything.
Then, just as suddenly as the storm of destruction had blazed to life, it ended, leaving Kyoko to fall with a splash into the lake of LCL that gradually flowed from Lilith's body. She didn't even notice. Every system in her body had been overloaded, including her optical sensors. She could barely see anything of her surroundings.
All she could really see as she sank beneath the foul-smelling fluid…was Gendo's glasses. They had been completed shattered, and now fell beneath the surface. Alongside Kyoko herself.
"Asuka…" she barely managed to get out as she finally hit the bottom, as her view became garbled with static. It was the last thing she saw as the last of her systems slowly deactivated. "My…little…Wondergirl…"
As the Darkhawk body completely shut down, the masked form of Lilith shifted. For the first time in untold centuries, the 2nd Angel moved its masked head slightly…and looked at the spot where Kyoko had fallen.
Two years passed since that day. Two years in which a great deal happened, and many evil secrets were slowly disclosed to the public.
Those thoughts were close to the group of people moving through the graveyard that day. Many of them were friends, who had come to Germany simply to watch, but for two of them, they had come to say things that had been waiting to be said for well over a decade.
"Hello, Franz," Kyoko started, looking at the gravestone that bore his name. Smiling sadly, she pictured the dear friend that had sacrificed so much for all of them. "I know it's been awhile, and…well, you know where I've been for most of the past several years. And, as for recently…well, I've been pretty busy. I've had a lot of things that I needed to get done."
This was a gross understatement. After the destruction of Adam, Kyoko had awoken three days later, to find Asuka clinging to her joyously. Laughing brightly as she cried, holding her mother's hand. Her mother's true hand.
No one knew how or why it happened, but Kyoko had somehow been reborn. When Misato had sent a team to retrieve the Darkhawk body out of the LCL lake, they had found something else as well. Kyoko Zeppelin-Sohryu, in a perfect recreation of her own body. Not a day older than she had been when she had 'died'. And reunited with her daughter at last.
The destruction of Adam soon became only the first in a long line of steps to stopping the madness. With Gendo's death, Misato had been able to work with the broken Ritsuko Akagi, and the two of them were able to release all the information they had about SEELE to the UN, along with the information in the drive Kyoko had given Asuka. When that happened, NERV was soon turned inside out by the JSSDF, as well as various other organizations, determined to get to the bottom of this mess. All of them, Misato and the bridge crew, as well as the pilots and everyone else in the upper echelon of NERV was under constant observation, and subjected to numerous interrogations.
Ritsuko had been slowly destroying herself as the weight of her own sins slowly became unbearable, and had eventually had a nervous breakdown as a result. As for Rei, she was given a great deal of difficulty when it was revealed that she was half-Angel. Shinji, Misato, and Maya Ibuki had worked hard to help the both of them recover and return to their lives.
Kyoko had been glad to see that they had been able to help these victims of Gendo's manipulations, and had been sorry that she had been unable to help herself. But she had another matter to deal with. As soon as she was able to get all the legalities of her reincarnation taken care, explaining how her soul had been preserved within the Darkhawk amulet, she took Asuka back to Germany, and got her away from her ex-husband.
While Kyoko rebuilt her relationship with her daughter, she got her out of her former husband's custody, and subjected him to a massive lawsuit pertaining to his role in Asuka's conditioning. Given the negative publicity showered upon everyone related to the attempt to cause Third Impact, he had decided to settle, giving Kyoko a handsome amount of money, more than enough to begin her life again.
So now, with everything settled in Germany, the two of them had decided to return to Japan, to where they had friends. But not before saying one last goodbye to Franz, a goodbye they had an audience for. Shinji, Misato, Rei, even Ritsuko had all come to escort them back, and join them in honoring the creator of Darkhawk.
Looking over her shoulder at their audience, Kyoko smiled before returning her attention to her dear friend. "I'd tell you all about it, but, given your tendency to snoop around, you probably already have a pretty good idea as to what I've been up to. Besides, I asked you to watch over us, didn't I? And…you've always kept your promises to us, even when I never made you promise."
Smiling at the silence in which she could almost hear Franz's voice, Kyoko began again. "By the way, the UN has decided to begin manufacturing Darkhawk cyborgs as a new form of peacekeepers, to replace the standard military. They decided that it would be a lot more practical, and a lot more cost-effective than something like an Evangelion. In fact…we have four Darkhawks with us right now."
"Five," Asuka chimed in, waving as she smiled.
Kyoko couldn't help but smile in return. Asuka's recovery had been long and difficult, and she often seemed lost, trying to reclaim that which she had lost by skipping her own childhood. Though she was still impatient, and sometimes flaunted herself, it was more for show than anything else. While she would never again be the little girl Kyoko had lost, she was a lot closer to it, and moving on with her life. There were a great many things she was unhappy about in regards to herself, but none more than the fact that she had been fighting the Angels for the wrong reasons.
It had been a difficult thing for Asuka to deal with, learning of the sacrifices made by Kyoko and Franz, of everything they had suffered. She also was ashamed of herself, of how she had fought to prove that she was better than others, rather than out of concern for people's lives. As such, she had recently decided to enlist in the new Darkhawk program, to fight for the right reasons. Kyoko had been unhappy about this, but she understood what Asuka was going through, and she was determined to support her all the way.
"Five," Kyoko agreed, looking back and seeing the amulets born by the others. All of them with many demons to deal with, Ritsuko especially. She had decided that she would make amends for her own sins, no matter how long it took. "Anyway, all the Evangelions have been destroyed, except for Unit 01. It turns out that Shinji's mother is still inside of it, and there might be a chance to retrieve her. I'm going to be working with Ritsuko on that one. It'll be good to see Yui again, don't you think?"
Sighing, Kyoko shook her head. "You must be proud, wherever you are. Your creations are going to be protecting this world for generations to come. You, and everybody else…you will all be remembered as long as a single Darkhawk exists," she stated, imagining the proud look on Franz's face. "You know, after I woke up…they all called me a hero. Me, I don't see it, though Asuka keeps telling me it's true."
"That's because you are, Mama!" Asuka grinned, wrapping her arm about Kyoko's waist. "And don't ever tell yourself anything different!"
"Okay, okay!" Kyoko protested, waving her arms in surrender. "Anyway, maybe I can't really see it…because you're the real hero, Franz. You gave up everything to protect us. And I'll never forget that." Kneeling down before the grave, Kyoko kissed the palm of her hand and placed it upon the tombstone. "We're going to be going back to Japan now. There's still a lot of work to be done; the new Darkhawk base in Japan is almost fully operational, and we'll be training potential candidates soon. By the way, the sixth prototype has been fully restored and upgraded, though…I'm not sure I'll be using it again. After over ten years trapped in two machines, I'm not too eager to go back to that."
"Then why don't you explain why you never take off your amulet, Mama?" Asuka asked with an impish smile.
Looking at Asuka in surprise, Kyoko let go of an embarrassed laugh. She then cradled her own amulet, the one that had been extracted from her own Darkhawk body shortly after she had destroyed Adam. "Well, Asuka's got me there," she admitted, noting the gentle laughs of her friends. "I guess…well, it is special to me. Your last gift to us, Franz. But…I have to admit that I feel better knowing that I can protect those I love. That Darkhawk will always be ready to keep them safe."
Releasing the amulet, Kyoko gave one last smile. "Well, that's about it for now. I'll always keep your amulet close to me, Franz, and I'll never forget you." Running her hand over the gravestone, Kyoko felt a tear running down her face. "I love you, Franz, so please, never forget us, and keep watching over us."
Moving aside, Kyoko allowed Asuka to take her place before the gravestone. "Hello, Uncle Franz," she started somewhat shyly. "I…well, there's been a lot going on for me, too."
After a moment of silence, Asuka smiled, and looked down to the ground. "Mama…she's already told you about most of what's been going on, but…well, you see…I recently met this guy," she admitted, shifting about on her feet. "It was only a few weeks ago, but…I think he might be the one. He's been really quiet and understanding. I mean, putting up with me when start mouthing off…he even told me that he thinks the reason he was born…was so that he could meet me. Seriously, how corny is that?" Asuka then smiled, shifting about with a smile. "Corny…but kind of cute."
"His name is Kaworu…"
Author's Notes: Whew! Finally done! This story just didn't want to be finished! Still, I hope you'll read and review! And maybe check out my other stories as well.
Now, I know a bunch of you are probably raising eyebrows at my choice of Darkhawk for Kyoko, and wouldn't be surprised if a lot of you had never even heard of Darkhawk. And I'll be the first to admit that he's pretty blamed obscure.
Seriously, though, choosing a hero for Kyoko was pretty tough, and Darkhawk wasn't my first choice. At one point, I considered Morbius or Dr. Strange for Kyoko, keeping in theme with the mystical element of Asuka's SOE character. But neither of them really fit in well with the Eva-verse. I also considered Vision, and having Kyoko's mental patterns copied onto and android body. But I couldn't see Asuka accepting a copy of her mother, and Vision doesn't have a lot of firepower, anyway.
Through it all, I kept coming back to Darkhawk, and for several reasons. One is that I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the more 'normal' Marvel heroes. The everyday people from everyday walks of life who never set out to be a hero. It just landed in their laps, and they tend to handle the hero bit in everyday fashions. Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Darkhawk, and Nova are all characters I like. (Well, I can't stand the Human Torch, but you get my meaning). Plus, I liked the idea of using less mainstream heroes for the mothers, and Darkhawk is about as out of the mainstream as you can get.
Also, of all the Marvel heroes out there, Darkhawk seems like the best fit for Evangelion. For those of you who don't know, in the comic books, a teenage boy becomes Darkhawk when he finds an amulet that allows him to transfer his consciousness into the Darkhawk body. The Darkhawk itself is a synthetic life form that is activated when someone's a consciousness (or a portion of it) is placed into it via the amulet embedded in its chest. The Darkhawk body is also capable of projecting power energy fields, both to attack and defend, and the hideous true nature of its face of its body is concealed by the armor it wears. Now, am I the only one who thinks that sounds familiar?
Besides (and are you ready for this?) there was even a point in the comic books when Darkhawk's consciousness is divided between his human and cybernetic bodies, with both of them becoming increasingly unstable over the passage of time! Freaky, huh?
There is one other reason, a reason that can be summed up in this omake…
"This is bad!" Dagger cried out.
"Oh, shut up, you whiny bitch!" Venom hissed, leaping out of the way as one of the MP Evas approached, almost stepping on her in the process.
"But she's right! We're completely outnumbered here!" Darkhawk cried out, burst of dark energy leaping from her chest as she flew about. Barely keeping one step ahead of another MP and its massive Lance of Longinus.
"Agreed. We are in a very bad position," Cloak noted, levitating away from a third MP. The ebon shroud that surrounded her slowly snaked out, and wrapped about the white Eva's ankles, sending their horrible enemy to fall on its face.
"Good work, Cloak, but I think it's time we got serious," Phoenix announced, her face hard as she looked at her fellow Superwomen.
"You mean…?" Darkhawk asked hesitantly.
Phoenix responded with a quick nod. "Right! Everyone, unite!!"
"Oh, I hate this part…" Venom grumbled nastily as she leapt closer. "Getting all touchy-feely with that stupid whore!"
"It's not like I enjoy being part of you, either!" Dagger shot back, to which Venom stuck out her tongue at her.
"We don't have any time to argue!" Phoenix protested as she flew into the air, lifting the others alongside her. Phoenix and Darkhawk went back to back, with Cloak, Dagger, and Venom circling the two of them. "Let's do it! Hero Fusion Mode!"
"Right!" Darkhawk responded, even as her body broke apart into several pieces.
"Damn! And now I get to be all over Yui!" Venom hissed her body began wrapping about Phoenix, form a dark sheath about her former rival. "I am so not into this!"
"Be quiet for once, Venom!" Dagger countered, even she allowed herself to be absorbed into Cloak. The dark specter of a woman then wrapped herself about Phoenix, even as Darkhawk's body segments began locking in place.
Soon, Phoenix gave a deadly grin as her fire ignited, completing her transformation. Huge, armored segments covered her, and her hands were now sheathed in deadly metal claws. A samurai-style helmet sat upon her head, and a cloak like a huge set of wings fluttered from her back. Then, the armored pieces turned a deep red, and the cloak and dazzling gold.
"Behold! Chaotic Warrior! Dark Phoenix!!" Yui cried out, as their full power ignited, sending the many MP Evas staggering. "And now…you all die!!"
"Ugh!" Asuka cried out, even as she snapped awake. Slowly sitting up in her bed, the German slowly shook the sleep from her head, even as her stomach gurgled unhappily.
"Okay, that does it!" Asuka grumbled, bursts of gas escaping her various orifices. "I am never eating Misato's curry again! Not ever!"