Disclaimer: Neon Genesis Evangelion is the creation of Anno and Gainax. I don't own it, make no claims to it, and am making no profit from this fan fiction. No infringement of copyright is intended. In other words, please don't sue.
Disclaimer: I do not own DC comics or anything associated with it and am making no profit off this fan fiction. No infringement of copyright is intended. In other words, please don't sue.
Chapter Sixteen: The Ability to Overcome Great Fear
Even with an intense battle still raging far above, Terminal Dogma was quiet, for the moment. Indeed, a sort of stunned, horrified silence hung in the underground level's musty air.
Mostly because she had gone down into Terminal Dogma to confront the Commander and had discovered him trying to figure out how to kill Wonder Girl, who turned out to be Rei Ayanami. And when she had ordered him to give himself up, he had revealed that he possessed a power ring very much like hers, except that it utilized yellow light instead of green.
The stunned, tense moment finally came to an abrupt end as the Commander made his first move. His ring belched forth a gush of light, which quickly took the form of dozens of knives suspended in the air, all pointed directly at Green Lantern.
"Your ring is ineffective against mine. Does that make you afraid?" he whispered.
"Not even close," Green Lantern snapped.
The knives streaked toward Green Lantern, who knew that any construct she created to block them wouldn't even slow the projectiles down.
Instead, a large emerald hand burst forth from her ring, grabbing hold of one of the tables in the lab and pulling it toward her, causing the test tubes and beakers that had been neatly organized upon it to fall to the floor and shatter into hundreds of pieces. Green Lantern managed to maneuver the table so it was between her and the flurry of golden daggers just in time to use it as shield to intercept them.
She swallowed when she saw just how deeply the knives managed to penetrate the metal of the table.
"Creative," Gendo remarked, "but you're only delaying the inevitable."
He formed a new construct, that of a huge, skeletal hand, which immediately started to push the table forward. If allowed to continue, the still present knife constructs would get to stab Green Lantern after all.
"How about no?" the emerald superwoman snarled, as a huge green buzz saw of light formed before her, spinning so rapidly that it was little more than a jade blur.
She might not have been able to touch Gendo's yellow constructs, but the wooden table was fair game. It was cut into two pieces the moment it made contact with her construct, both of them going wide and missing her completely.
Green Lantern still had to throw herself to the ground to avoid the glowing skeletal hand that had been pushing the table toward her, though.
God, it's a good thing that I have the body of a woman much younger than I am, or else that would hurt like hell tomorrow, she thought, deciding that it was time for her to take the offensive.
Numerous tendrils of emerald light burst forth from her ring, each of them grabbing hold of an object in the lab and then sending them hurtling in Gendo Ikari's direction.
"Pitiful," the Commander said, as a bubble of yellow light sprang into being around him, blocking the barrage of lab equipment.
"I saved the best for last," Green Lantern replied, pointing to something behind him.
A small refrigerator used to store samples suddenly collided with Gendo's shield, striking the barrier of golden light with enough force to shatter it. The Commander let out a cry of pain and surprise as he was hit by the large projectile, falling to the floor. Unfortunately, it was obvious that he was still entirely conscious. His shield must have taken the brunt of the blow.
Springing to her feet, Misato loosened a beam of green light from her ring, the end of which quickly transformed itself into a long knife that quickly cut the leather restraints holding Rei to the exam table. Once those were out of the way, the knife disappeared, forming a force bubble around the blue-haired superwoman.
"Come on, Rei! Let's get out of here!" Green Lantern said as she flew through the door, carrying the bound Amazon with her.
"Come back here!" Gendo barked at them.
Of course, Green Lantern ignored him. Zipping through the bewildering halls of Terminal Dogma, the luminous superwoman picked a room at random and ducked inside, setting Rei down on the floor. Getting down on one knee, Green Lantern started to work at the rope holding her. Unfortunately, the knots weren't going to make freeing the other superwoman easily.
The damn rope would have to be yellow, she thought with disgust.
"You are quite adept at combating him, given your disadvantage," Rei remarked.
Green Lantern chuckled softly. "You can thank Legion for that," she said, recalling the crazed yellow robot that had decided to murder the EVA pilots, starting with Shinji. "I wouldn't say no to some help from Wonder Girl, though."
"Free me and you will have it," Rei vowed.
Green Lantern nodded. She thought that the knots were starting to come loose, but it might've just been wishful thinking. "By the way, how the hell did you keep your identity a secret without a mask?"
"…okay, sure. Why not?" Green Lantern said.
For several seconds, she continued to work fruitlessly at the knots, all too aware of how little time she had. Gendo was no doubt searching frantically for them, and once he found them, then she was in trouble. No matter how cleverly she fought, there was no getting around the fact that the Commander had a weapon that seemed to be tailor made to get the better of her own.
She really needed Wonder Girl's help here.
Oh, screw it, she finally decided, resorting to the common desperation tactic for dealing with this kind of problem.
She used her teeth, clamping them down on part of the rope, and started to pull. The knot finally began coming loose.
A skeletal hand made of golden light grabbed hold of her, pulling her off the floor and then sending her flying across the room. Green Lantern could do nothing more than grimace as she crashed into and then through the far wall, her protective aura keeping her from breaking bones as she went.
Okay, that's going to hurt tomorrow, body of a strapping nineteen-year-old or not, a strangely detached part of her mind decided as she went through three more walls.
Finally, the golden hand dropped her, and Green Lantern crumpled to the floor, finding herself in a room full of filing cabinets. Apparently some of NERV's secrets were so secret that they needed to be absolutely hack proof.
Not that that was important at the moment.
"I won't tolerate anyone trying to interfere with my Scenario," Gendo said. From Green Lantern's perspective, he seemed to just appear next to her. "Not even a superwoman."
"Too bad," Green Lantern replied, blasting the floor by his boots.
Gendo released a cry of surprise as he was thrown from his feet, and Green Lantern took the opportunity to bolt, flying through the air. Fortunately, the line of destruction she'd left had created a bit of room for her.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn't long before bolts of yellow light started shooting at her from behind, but Green Lantern dodged them easily, despite the still confined space she was stuck in.
I'm a lot better at this than he is, she realized. Gendo had so far shown little creativity in his attacks, relying on his inherent advantage over her to bring him victory. Her reaction time was better than his; she could shape the energies she commanded faster than he could.
If she could just get to an open enough space to fight him, she might be able to pull off a victory, yellow weakness or not. The only problem was finding that underground, she decided, taking a sharp turn at an intersection in the hallways.
She soon came upon a massive, armored door. The words "Dummy Plug Production Plant" were painted above it in bright red.
"That looks like it leads to a big room," she decided.
Abandoning subtly, Green Lantern fired a burst of emerald energy straight at the heavy steel, instantly melting a wide hole in it and then flying through it, discovering that a large chamber did indeed ay behind it.
What the hell is this place? She wondered, looking around.
A massive collection of pipes and wiring hung from the ceiling, leading down to a large, fluid-filled tube in the center of the room. It looked disturbingly like a metallic brain and spinal cord. At the far end of the chamber was a massive tank. It was too dark for Green Lantern to see it properly, but she could make out large, dark shapes floating within it. Something told her that this wasn't where the Commander kept his pet koi fish.
"You are not allowed to be in this place," Gendo said, entering the room himself.
She noted that he was making a point of floating above the ground and suppressed a grimace. He might be relatively unskilled at using a power ring, but he was far from an idiot. She doubted that any of her tricks would work against him twice.
"If you damage the equipment in here…" he continued menacingly.
Green Lantern refused to be intimidated. "Equipment? You mean like this thing?"
She surrounded the huge brain thing with emerald energy and pulled it. The sound of metal groaning and pipes snapping filled the chamber as she brought it down and hurled it at the Commander.
"No!" Gendo barked, holding out his fist as his ring lit up.
Whatever the thing was, it must've been important to him; rather than simply blowing it to pieces, he actually tried to use his ring to catch it, obviously hoping to set it down gently and prevent further damage to the bizarre piece of equipment.
Green Lantern decided that if he was so intent on keeping it intact, then she wanted it destroyed. With a grunt, she fired a blast of jade energy right at the center of object.
The mass of piping practically exploded from the force of the attack, pieces of tubes and metal flying in every direction.
"Damn you!" Gendo snarled, and she could clearly see his eyes blazing like glowing embers, even behind his glasses.
Bolts of golden energy filled the room, but Green Lantern had even less difficulty dodging his attacks than ever as she flew around the large room. His focus was shot to hell.
Now to see if I can make him really lose it…
Getting out of the way of another lethal burst of golden light, Green Lantern maneuvered until she was in the center of the room, less than two feet off the floor. Gendo lashed out at her again.
And she quickly pulled up, avoiding the attack once more. The stray blast slammed right into the tank on the far side of the room, blowing a huge hole into the glass. LCL gushed out, along with…
"What the hell?!" the luminous superwoman exclaimed as well over a dozen naked duplicates of Rei Ayanami flopped out onto the floor, giggling emptily. None of them attempted to get up, nor did they seem to notice or care when shards of broken glass on the floor cut into their pale skin, drawing blood.
The open air didn't quite seem to agree with them, however. In mere seconds, their giggles dissolved into coughs. One by one, they started to go quiet and still.
Something yellow crashed into Green Lantern, then, and the next thing she knew, she was sprawled out on the ground. Again. Looking up, she saw Gendo hovering in the air nearby, looming over her.
She had never seen him so furious, she realized.
"God damn you," he hissed. "Do you have any idea how much time you just cost me?"
"No," Green Lantern answered quite honestly.
Impossibly, the Commander's scowl deepened. A pair of golden fists, each bigger than Green Lantern was, formed in the air above her.
The fists came down, slamming the luminous superwoman straight through the thick floor despite her attempt to dodge. She was too dazed and in too much pain to do anything but cry out as she fell for what seemed like an eternity.
Finally, she came to a landing, but something was strange, she realized at once. The ground beneath her seemed to be moving, and she was…fairly sure that it wasn't just because she was seriously punch drunk by this point.
Somehow staggering to her feet, Green Lantern looked around and blinked. The massive form of a creature that could only be the Commander's pet Angel was crucified on a huge red cross nearby. The luminous superwoman herself was standing on the deck of a small ship that was bobbing gently in an entire lake of LCL.
After all the other strangeness she'd seen down in Terminal Dogma, she didn't even bother to wonder how Ikari and Fuyutsuki could've gotten a freaking ship down here.
"I'm done dealing with you, Green Lantern."
Looking up, the emerald superwoman saw Gendo Ikari descending through the hole in the ceiling toward her. Green Lantern balled her hands into fists and tried not to show him how woozy she was.
Pointing his ring at her, he hissed, "What do you fear?"
There was a brief flash of yellow brilliance that left Green Lantern blinking away spots. She felt strange all of a sudden, her thoughts muffled and unclear. Reality seemed to blur at the edges.
A ribbon of golden light emerged from Gendo's ring, quickly expanding to enormous size and changing shape.
"Oh no…" Green Lantern breathed, an icy hand clamping down on her heart as its form solidified.
It was a golden giant that absolutely towered over her. It was a being straight out the part of her past that she tried to forget. It was the entity that had haunted her nightmares for over a decade. Just the sight of it caused her blood to run cold.
It was Adam.
"No, no!" she moaned, retreating several steps backwards, as though that would help.
Past and present seemed to swirl together, until Green Lantern felt like she was both an adult superwoman and a frightened thirteen-year-old girl at once. The boat upon which she stood started to meld with the one she had and her father had used to travel down to the bottom of the world. Lilith's chamber started to melt away, the polar icecap rising up to replace it.
Clinging desperately to the here and now, Green Lantern raised a shaking hand, curling her fingers into a loose fist as she pointed her ring up at Adam. With a desperate effort, she funneled what willpower she could muster into the power ring.
Only to shoot nothing but a few green sparks. Her terror was so great that she couldn't focus enough to actually do anything.
Even if she could use her ring, it wouldn't help anything, she realized. Adam was yellow, after all. She was completely powerless against it.
The beast threw its head back and roared then, loudly enough to shake the complex. Green Lantern released a yelp of fright and jumped backwards, tripping and falling to the ground.
Her faltering grip on the present weakened further as she collided with the deck; Green Lantern blinked, and when she opened her eyes again, all she saw was swirling snow, the menacing titan nearby, and the blood that stained the icy ground.
With a strangled scream, she curled up into a fetal position to wait for the end.
"Come on, come on," Shinji grumbled, still clutching the box that contained the jade lantern to his chest.
He had never liked the elevators in NERV headquarters much—they were too slow, and they lacked even the worst Muzak, ensuring that oppressive silence came with most rides—but he had never before hated them like he did now.
Getting to the only elevator in NERV headquarters that led down to the secret sub-basement of the base hadn't been easy, and if everything wasn't in a state of near chaos thanks to the JSSDF attack, Shinji was sure he wouldn't have managed to pull it off. Not when Section Two was trying to find him so they could drag him to the EVA cages and stuff him into Unit One's plug.
His stomach had plunged into his shoes when he'd finally reached it. The door had been forced open, revealing the shaft and the thick metal cables inside. He had thought that surely the elevator had to be broken beyond use when he'd seen that, but the car had come when he'd pushed the button.
Now he was riding down to Terminal Dogma, and the wait was interminable.
He knew that it was probably in his head, but he still would've been willing to swear that this elevator moved more slowly than all the others in NERV headquarters.
Calm down, he commanded himself, allowing his eyes to slide shut for a moment as he tried to collect himself. There's nothing you can do to make this thing go faster, so there's no point in freaking out about it.
With a long breath, he opened his eyes. It was true. There was nothing he could to speed up his journey to Terminal Dogma at this point. All he could do right now was wait and hope.
Hope that Misato was still alive by the time he got the lantern to her.
Misato knew that she was going to die.
She had lived for over sixteen years after Second Impact, existing on borrowed time, but she could cheat the Grim Reaper no more. Adam had emerged from her nightmares to claim the life that had escaped from him that horrible day, and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop him.
Maybe it's better if I die this time, Misato thought, instinctively trying to curl herself into a smaller and smaller ball on the deck of the ship, as though that would protect her. That way I won't have to mourn everyone else that Adam kills.
Tears sprang to her eyes as she thought that. Adam had slain everyone she cared about last time he had appeared, and she had no doubt that he would do so again. Ritsuko would die. Kaji would die. Rei would die. Asuka would die. Shinji would…
Deep in her very soul, Misato balked at the idea of Shinji—her Shinji—dying at the hands of the monster who had taken her parents and devastated the Earth.
"Not while I have anything to say about it," she whispered, and her tightly shut eyes popped open.
Misato had no way of seeing it, but in that moment a wave of emerald washed over her irises, restoring the vivid green that had been briefly replaced by her usual warm brown.
Fighting against terror so intense that it threatened to tear her mind in half, Green Lantern got to her feet and threw her fist into the air.
"Die, you monster!" she screamed, as a torrent of blindingly bright green radiance erupted forth from her ring.
The attack slammed directly into Adam's chest, and the First Angel exploded, releasing one final roar of fury as it sputtered out of existence.
Then it was gone.
"Oh my God," Green Lantern gasped, staggering back a step as she put a hand to the side of her head. Her heart was racing so quickly that she feared it was about to burst.
It probably would have burst, or done something nearly as bad, if she'd allowed herself to become any more terrified than she already had been.
"It was fake," she said to herself. "Of course it was fake."
Now that she had beaten Ikari's cute little trick, she could barely believe that she'd been so completely taken in by it. Of course, her mind was much clearer than it had been a moment ago.
Still, even though it had been an illusion, that didn't explain how she'd managed to destroy it. That thing might not have been Adam, but it was still a yellow construct, and her ring was supposedly impotent against anything yellow, so how had she done it?
I'm actually surprised I was able to even attack at all, considering how afraid I was, she thought.
Then, just like that, it all clicked together in her mind. Gendo's talk about "the golden light of fear", what her own power ring had said to her when she'd first put it on, the difference between a moment ago and every other time she'd tried to use her powers on something yellow.
She understood how to beat the yellow weakness.
She also understood that she needed to find Gendo Ikari and stop him from doing whatever it was he planned to do. Green Lantern flew into the air, soaring through the hole she'd made in the ceiling and back to the floor above Lilith's chamber.
Gendo was still in the ruined room that had housed the metal brain thing and the tank full of creepy clones of Rei. The Commander was working at a computer in the corner of the room, frantically typing away.
"If I can save the data, I can rebuild elsewhere," he was muttering to himself. "I can take everything I need with me."
A green Heckler & Koch appeared in each of Green Lantern's hands, and she let loose with both pistols at once, quickly punching several holes into the computer that Gendo was working on.
The Commander managed to hide his shocked expression almost immediately, but it was still absolutely priceless, for the brief instant that it lasted.
"You're not rebuilding anything," Green Lantern said.
"You should've had a heart attack by now," he stated.
"Guess I'm just too tough for your little light show to scare me to death," Green Lantern quipped.
"No matter," Gendo said.
He unleashed a blast of golden light from his ring straight at her, but this time Green Lantern didn't need to dodge. With a thought, a large round shield formed before her, stopping the attack cold.
Green Lantern didn't give him a chance to finish asking the obvious question. Instead, she again fired her construct pistols. Gendo didn't bother to dodge, believing that the jade bullets couldn't hurt him.
"Argh!" he cried out in surprise and pain. The protective aura around him saved the Commander from any serious wound, but the impact from the emerald bullets still hurt like hell and sent him staggering backwards.
Green Lantern's pistols melted away and were quickly replaced by a machine gun. Taking aim, the luminous superwoman depressed the trigger, sending an almost solid stream of glowing shells in Gendo's direction.
The Commander just barely got out of the way of the barrage by flying into the air. Light flared from his ring, and a construct of the Lance of Longinus, longer than he was tall but still much smaller than the real thing, formed above his head and went plunging down toward Green Lantern.
The superwoman reacted as quick as a thought, and a replica of Unit One's progressive knife shimmering into being. The blade of the weapon sailed right between the prongs of the Lance, striking it where it forked out from the main shaft and completely bisected the weapon, which quickly faded away to nothing once it was destroyed.
Not giving Gendo a moment to rally, Green Lantern sent the green prog knife flying though the air, smacking the Commander hard with the flat of the blade. The bearded man was sent catapulting into the far wall, and from there, he crumpled to the floor, groaning softly.
"Okay, Ikari, take off that ring you're wearing and surrender. Then this can stop," Green Lantern said, keeping her own ring trained on him.
"Never," he growled, a pistol appearing in his hand.
He squeezed off a shot, but Green Lantern reacted before he even finished pulling the trigger. Lime colored body armor materialized on her, easily stopping the golden round.
"I was sort of hoping you'd say that," Green Lantern confessed.
Four beams of light shot forth from her ring, taking on the shape of long chains, which swiftly wrapped themselves around his wrists and ankles.
"No," Gendo hissed, his voice barely above a whisper as he struggled. "It won't end like this. Not after so long. You will know fear!"
He gave one particularly fierce pull…and his limbs slipped free of Green Lantern's spectral restraints, which then immediately flickered out of existence.
For a very brief moment, the Commander and Green Lantern traded a look, both surprised by what had happened.
Then Green Lantern raised her fist, unleashing another construct, only to have it fizzle out before it was even fully formed. Before either combatant could react to that, the aura of light surrounding the emerald superwoman abruptly went out.
A second later, her green and black uniform seemed to burst into a brief puff of jade flame that quickly dissipated, leaving Misato Katsuragi in her "loafing around the apartment" clothes.
Her ring had run out of power.
"Who else wants some?!" Asuka snarled, as Unit Two used its progressive claws to completely decapitate one of the white Evangelions she was facing.
Another of the Mass Produced EVAs quickly answered her challenge, coming up behind her with its massive melee weapon raised high above its head. Unit Two deftly avoided the strike, sweeping its leg out and sending the other EVA tumbling to the ground.
Picking it up with both hands, Unit Two flung it into yet another of the MP EVAs that was charging, and the two white giants went tumbling into a heap together. Picking up the blade that one of them had dropped, the emerald colossus impaled one and then the second of the two enemy titans, literally pining them to the ground.
It wouldn't matter. They would be back up eventually, as would the one that whose head she had completely severed. She didn't know how, but the units of the EVA Series were proving themselves capable of shrugging off incredible amount of damage. They all should've been piles of junk by this point and yet they just kept fighting.
It was really starting to get her frustrated, to put it mildly.
Another pair of the white Evangelions approached her, and Asuka immediately responded. Unit Two quickly moved, getting into a fighting stance.
Only to lurch sickeningly around her, coming to an abrupt halt.
"What the hell?!" she exclaimed.
Then the green coating over her EVA vanished, leaving it bright red once more. The nifty upgrades that Green Lantern had bestowed upon her Unit Two disappeared as well.
Most importantly, the countdown timer was suddenly flashing zero, even though Asuka had been certain that she had at least a few minutes more.
The EVA Series regarded Unit Two's sudden stillness warily; after having been literally torn apart by the other Evangelion, they were all inclined to be cautious. However, when it remained as motionless as a statue for several long seconds, their foul mouths widened into grotesque grins.
Picking up the huge bladed weapons they'd brought with them, the MP Evangelions hurled them all at the now defenseless Unit Two. Asuka watched with wide eyes as the metal of the things warped and shifted in mid-flight, changing them into near perfect duplicates of the Lance of Longinus.
Cursing in German, the Second Child grabbed hold of a large lever next to her seat and pulled. Her entry plug was sent rocketing out of the back of the red giant a moment before Unit Two was impaled by an entire volley of deadly spears.
"Gott damned bastards," Asuka growled furiously, kicking open her entry plug's hatch while it was still in flight.
The Second Child leaped out, even though she was still several hundred meters above the ground, expelling the LCL from her lungs with practiced ease as the amber liquid streamed off her plugsuit and from her long hair.
Then she hovered in mid-air, as though gravity didn't apply to her.
Scowling darkly at the EVA Series, Asuka cracked her knuckles. "I was really hoping I could win with my Unit Two," she said. "But you bastards just had to cheat. Fine, we'll do it this way."
The Second Child surged forward, becoming a scarlet blur, until her fist slammed into the chest of the nearest MP EVA. A sound like thunder cracked through the ravaged Geofront, and the white Evangelion went staggering.
"I don't care what you can do!" Asuka roared at the EVA Series as twin beams of intense heat erupted forth from her eyes. "I'm going to kill you all!"
"Katsuragi," Gendo said, and though he wasn't doing anything as obvious as smirking, he still seemed understandably smug. "I suspected that you were the Green Lantern, but I was never quite sure until now."
"I used to suspect that you were a bastard," Misato replied, "but I became sure of that a long time ago."
"You hide your fear well," Gendo said. "But that's irrelevant now."
A huge, golden hand grabbed the former Ops Director and picked her up, then flung her down to the floor like a rag doll. Misato cried out in pain; she was pretty sure she'd felt something break there, though she wasn't quite sure what.
"I'm not afraid of you," she spat.
Gendo shook his head. "Even if you're not lying, it makes no difference," he said. "Your ring is empty. Mine is not."
Golden light ensnared Misato's ankle, then whipped her into the wall with enough force to dent it. Gendo couldn't help but smile a little at the sound caused by the impact.
He supposed that he should just end her and be done with it, but after everything she had done—how she had delayed the time he would be reunited with Yui by months, if not years—he wanted to make her suffer first. He wanted her to give into fear before she died.
Dimly, Gendo wondered if he was allowing the ring to influence him too much, but he quickly cast the thought aside. If not for his power ring, the current situation would've been far beyond salvageable, after all. With it, he could take everything essential to his Scenario, even Lilith and Unit One, elsewhere to rebuild the now destroyed or corrupted components he needed. If it was affecting him somehow, it was more than a fair trade.
Anything was more than a fair trade, if it allowed for his reunion with Yui.
"Show me the terror in your eyes," he said softly, as he sent her catapulting across the room again, "and I will end your pain."
"How about no?" Misato sneered.
A golden hand reached for her again, but this time she managed to evade his construct's grasp, scrambling to her feet and rushing out the door, clutching her side as she went. Gendo sighed tiredly. Difficult to the end.
He flew out into the hall after her, only to find that she had disappeared from sight, having apparently vanished around a corner. He really would have to find the architect who had designed this place and have him shot one day, Gendo mused as he went looking for her. He was hardly alarmed, though; with a dead ring, there was no way she could hope to threaten him.
Making his way into the destroyed lab where he'd been trying to figure out how best to kill the traitorous First Child until Green Lantern had appeared, Gendo stopped short, finding the absolute last thing he had been expecting.
"Hello, Father," Shinji said softly.
Gendo brushed past him. The boy, and how he'd managed to get to Terminal Dogma, were irrelevant.
"What? Are you just going to ignore me again?" the Third Child demanded, stalking off after his father as Gendo continued his search for Katsuragi. "The decade you abandoned me for wasn't enough?"
"Go away," the Commander said coldly.
"No, not this time," Shinji growled, continuing to follow him. "I want answers! Why the hell are you down here while NERV is under attack like this? And why do you look like a yellow version of Green Lantern? What…what have I been fighting for all this time? Tell me, Father!"
"I don't have to tell you anything."
"…how the hell did Mother ever put up with you?" Shinji asked, clearly exasperated.
"What?" Gendo hissed, finally turning his full attention to his son.
If he hadn't been so surprised and angry, he might've noticed how the Third Child's eyes briefly lit up before Shinji managed to school his expression.
"You heard me," Shinji said softly. "I don't understand how Mother could ever have cared about someone like you."
Light burst forth from Gendo's power ring, taking on the form of a huge hand that shoved Shinji across the room, pining him against the wall. The Third Child let out a grunt as he impacted the concrete.
"Don't talk anymore," the Commander whispered.
"You don't want to hear it because you're afraid it's true," Shinji managed to get out. "Maybe you even know it's true. Mother never loved you. I'll bet she was using you for something."
"I said be quiet!" Gendo roared.
The hand that had been pinning Shinji to the wall now flung him across the room. The Third Child slammed face first into the same refrigerator Green Lantern had thrown at Gendo himself. There was a meaty crack, and Shinji let out a cry as blood gushed from his nose.
Yet somehow, Shinji managed to raise himself off the battered fridge and stagger to his feet. He coughed, spitting a wad of blood and saliva onto the floor. "Mother's 'accident' was probably a suicide," he said. "She must've just wanted to get away from you that badly."
Golden shackles formed on Shinji's wrists and ankles, raising him up off the floor and forcing him into a spread eagle position. A second later, a yellow scalpel came into being, the blade mere centimeters away from his throat.
"Keep talking," Gendo dared him in a deathly soft voice. "Unless you're afraid of what I'll do if you don't stop."
Before Shinji could decide whether to test his luck or hold his peace, another voice could be distantly heard in the room, the words echoing softly through the corridors of Terminal Dogma.
"In brightest day…"
Gendo turned a shocked look at his son. Shinji's nose was still bleeding profusely, and one of his eyes was blackened and already swelling shut. Nevertheless, the Third Child managed a smile.
"In blackest night…"
"You," Gendo growled.
"Did you think I came down here just to get beaten up, Father?" Shinji replied.
Katsuragi had somehow gotten a hold of her power battery, and the Third Child had been buying her time in which to use it.
"No evil shall escape my sight…"
The bonds holding Shinji aloft winked out of existence, sending the Third Child crumpling to the floor. Gendo ignored him and went flying off in the direction of Katsuragi's voice. He didn't bother with doors, simply smashing holes into the walls that dared to get in his way.
"Let those who worship evil's might, beware my power…"
"No!" Gendo shouted as he burst though the last wall separating him from his target, finding Katsuragi standing in the middle of a small room, her power battery in hand.
He was a half second too late.
"Green Lantern's light!"
Emerald radiance flared from the jade battery, and when it had dimmed, Misato Katsuragi had once more been replaced by Green Lantern.
"Power levels 100 percent." Her ring reported.
The luminous superwoman grinned, pointing her ring at him. "So, what do you say we try this again, Ikari?" she asked.
"I'd rather not," he replied.
A beam of yellow shot out of his ring, and Green Lantern immediately created a shield construct to protect herself. The only problem was that the Commander's attack never got near her; instead, the light snaked out, flying off into the distance behind him.
Then there was a strangled, surprised cry from a ways off.
A moment later, the light dragged a battered, struggling Shinji Ikari out from the destroyed lab over to his father, who quickly brought his son in front of him and pressed his power ring to the side of the Third Child's head like it was a gun.
"Remove your power ring and give it to me," Gendo ordered, "or I will kill him."
For a long moment, Green Lantern could only gape at the bearded man, shock and horror clearly written across her features, despite the mask she wore to conceal her identity.
"Ikari, you wouldn't," she breathed, finally finding her voice. "Even you wouldn't. My God, that's your son."
"I decided a long time ago that I was willing to sacrifice him in order to get what I want," Gendo replied evenly. "I didn't plan to do it in such a…dramatic fashion, but in the end, the difference is unimportant. This is your last warning. Remove your ring, or he dies."
"Misato, don't do it!" Shinji pleaded. "He'll kill you if you do!"
Then his father dug his golden power ring deeper into the side of the Third Child's head, and Shinji fell silent with a wince.
Green Lantern smiled sadly at him. "I'm sorry, Shinji…but I have to do it. I can't let you die."
She looked silently down at her power ring for a second, then pulled it off her finger. Immediately, her green and black outfit vanished once more.
"Good," Gendo said. "Now slide it across the floor to me."
Misato did as he asked, and Gendo used his own ring to pick hers up, placing it on the middle finger of his left hand. Emerald light shone forth from it.
"Now that I have two rings, no one will be able to stop me from completing my Scenario," Gendo said softly, speaking more to himself than either Shinji or Misato. "Not the old men, not the UN. If anyone tries to stop me, they will know fe—"
A emerald green boxing glove abruptly burst forth from the green ring on Gendo's finger, striking him right in the face and sending him staggering backwards, crying out in pain and surprise.
Two things happened at once. The first was that Shinji seized the opportunity to get away from his father, scrambling behind Misato. The second was that the purple haired woman held out her hand and called to her ring with her mind. It flew off of Gendo's finger and returned to hers. With a brief pulse of light, she was Green Lantern once more.
"Timed commands, Ikari!" she shouted. "Didn't know the rings could do that, did you?"
He actually did remember his ring mentioning them once, which somehow made what had just happened so much worse.
"Katsuragi!" he roared, unleashing the most powerful blast of golden light that he could channel through his ring, hoping to capture her by surprise.
Green Lantern was too fast for him; emerald light erupted forth from her own ring, and the two blasts met in the center of the room, slamming into each other and struggling for dominance as nearly blinding radiance filled the chamber.
There was no subtly here, no creative constructs or clever tactics. It was just a brute force battle pitting his ability to instill fear against her ability to overcome it. It was the only chance he had against the tactician now.
"Argh!" Gendo cried out in pain as the wave of emerald light overpowered him, sending him flying into the wall, where he slumped down into a sitting position.
Green Lantern started to advance toward him. Reacting more on reflex than conscious thought, he raised his fist and attempted to attack her once more.
This time, only yellow sparks emerged from his ring. Gendo lowered his hand and looked down at it, seeing that his power ring was badly cracked on the top.
A jade hand suddenly forced him to his feet, and then Green Lantern was right in front of him, placing her fist behind his chin so that her ring dug into the soft flesh behind his jawbone.
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you right now," she demanded, her vivid green eyes boring into him.
"You can't," Gendo replied. "I know your ring is incapable of killing."
She sneered at him. "Ring?"
"The Book of Oa has been rewritten. Lethal force has been enabled." It announced.
"Looks like you were working off outdated intel. It's been that way for a while now," Green Lantern said. "So, again, give me one reason why I shouldn't kill you right now?"
Gendo was silent.
"I didn't think so," she said, and Gendo could feel her ring heating up.
"Wait!" Shinji shouted. "Misato, please don't do it!"
Both the Commander and Green Lantern turned to regard the Third Child with surprise.
"He threatened to kill you, Shinji," the emerald superwoman said. "He was willing to do it. In cold blood. I saw it in his eyes. After that, and everything else he's put you through, not to mention all the other things he's done…"
"I know," Shinji said quietly. "But he's beaten. He can't hurt anybody anymore. There's been enough killing today." He added.
Green Lantern turned back to Gendo Ikari, giving him a disgusted look. "You're very lucky that your son's a better man than you are," she said, taking a step back from him.
Gendo released a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.
Then Green Lantern fired a blast of light at him, striking his right hand. An AT field briefly came into being around it, but it was small and weak, the product of a god reduced to a tiny and pitiful state. The orange barrier quickly collapsed, and the Commander's hand was reduced to ashes.
"Ahhh!" Gendo screamed in pain, clutching the charred stump as his Sinestro Corps uniform vanished from his body, leaving him in his regular NERV uniform instead.
"Quit whining," Green Lantern growled at him, scooping up his damaged power ring from the small pile of ashes.
Gendo kept screaming, so the luminous superwoman used her ring to create a gag for him, along with ropes to bind him.
"Wow," Shinji spoke into the quiet that followed.
"Yeah," Green Lantern agreed, turning to him. She winced at the sight of his battered face. "He really did a number on you. Let me see if I can patch you up a little."
Green light washed over Shinji's form, making his nose stop bleeding. His black eye grew a bit less puffy as well, but that was about all she could do for him. The ring's healing powers were limited by her knowledge of medicine, and Misato didn't know much beyond battlefield first aid.
"Better?" she asked.
"A little," Shinji nodded. "Thanks."
"Welcome. Now, come on," Green Lantern said, taking off at a jog down the hall. "We need to get Rei and then head topside. There's still a huge battle happening up there."
"Right," he agreed, falling in step behind her. "But what about him?" he hooked a thumb toward the Commander.
"He's not going anywhere," she assured him. "Leaving him down here for now is probably the safest thing."
"If you say so."
Together they made their way to the room where Green Lantern had last left Rei, and Shinji's eyes widened when he saw what she was wearing.
"Ayanami?! You're Wonder Girl?!" he squawked.
"Yes," she replied as Green Lantern untied her. It was easy now that she could use her ring on that damned rope.
"It is a long story," she said.
"And believe me, I'd love to hear it," Green Lantern said, "but right now we have to worry about the JSSDF and the EVA Series."
"Understood," Rei said, getting up. "Lead the way."
The trio made their way to the elevator that connected Terminal Dogma to Central Dogma, and from there they rushed to the EVA cage where Unit One was currently berthed.
"What about you two?" Shinji asked.
"We can ride up into the Geofront with you," Green Lantern replied.
"There does not seem to be combat occurring near here," Rei noted. "I do not hear gunfire."
"That's a good thing," Green Lantern responded as they burst into the cage.
The crew was absent from the enormous chamber, but all the equipment looked perfectly intact.
"Come on," Green Lantern said, rushing toward a small control room and gesturing for the pair of EVA pilots to follow her. "If whoever's commanding the assault has half a brain, you can bet communications between the cages and the command center were cut as soon as possible. We'll have to do everything from here. Rei, you see what's happening topside and find out where we're needed most, then find an unobstructed shaft near there. Shinji, set the catapult for delayed launch. I'm gonna start Unit One's pre-activation process."
"Roger," Rei said.
"Uh, right," Shinji said, obviously much less certain of his ability to work all the equipment.
Each of them went to a terminal and got to work, and for a moment the only sound in the cage was the "click-click-click" of people typing at keyboards.
"Lantern," Rei spoke up.
The emerald superwoman was too focused on her task to hear her. "Damn it," she muttered to herself. "Of course you need all kinds of passwords to begin the start up sequence from here…"
"Lantern," Rei said, a little more loudly.
"Maybe I can use my ring to hack it?" Green Lantern wondered around.
"Except I don't know how to do that. Oh! I bet if I create a construct of that chip—"
The luminous superwoman finally looked up from what she was doing. "Yes, Rei?" she asked.
"I do not believe that our assistance is necessary in fending off the JSSDF," Rei said. "Look." She added, pointing to her screen.
She and Shinji came over, and their eyes widened at what they saw.
All but one of the EVA Series had been reduced to twisted, unmoving wrecks, and as they watched, something red and very fast slammed into and then straight through the last Evangelion standing. It emerged out of the white EVA's back with a spray of blood, along with the huge crimson orb that was its core. The last EVA wavered on its feet and then slammed to the ground.
"Rei, zoom in on that…whatever it is," Green Lantern said, her eyes narrowing.
She really hoped that whatever had destroyed all those Evangelions was friendly. She'd had more than enough unpleasant surprises to last her for the rest of the year.
The blue-haired girl nodded and typed in a command. The imagine on the monitor closed in.
"What the hell?!" Green Lantern exclaimed. "Is that Asuka?!"
The redhead, still clad in her scarlet plugsuit, was holding the last MP EVA's core high above her head, even though it was several times her size and probably a few hundred times her weight. As the stunned trio in the EVA cage watched, she turned her gaze upwards, and two beams of fiery orange light shot out from her eyes. The incredibly tough material of the core rapidly began to melt. Of course, its molten remains cascaded down upon the EVA pilot, but she didn't seem to mind at all. If anything, it actually looked like she was enjoying her superheated shower. Even her plugsuit remained unscathed.
"It appears that the JSSDF went into full retreat once it became obvious that their Evangelions would be defeated," Rei spoke into the dumbstruck silence.
Shinji let out a weak laugh. "Oh my God. Asuka's Supergirl," he said. "I was surrounded by superwomen, and I only ever found out about one! I only ever suspected one!"
He broke out into a fit of slightly crazed sounding giggles, but given the madness and chaos of the day, Green Lantern considered that to be taking it all extremely well. As for herself, she just went back to her chair and allowed herself to collapse into it. They would no doubt be dealing with the repercussions of this day for months, if not years into the future, but for the moment the nightmare was over, and the people she cared about had survived.
"There's one thing I still don't get," Asuka said.
Misato arched an eyebrow. "Oh, and what's that, Asuka?"
"You said that your ring doesn't work on the color yellow, right? Then how were you suddenly able to kick the Commander's ass if his ring was all about the color yellow?" Asuka asked.
"Oh, that," Misato said. "Well, the whole 'yellow weakness' thing isn't as absolute as I was led to believe. My ring can work on yellow, but only if I'm, well, doing it right. Yellow is the color of fear, which the Commander was kind enough to tell me, so in order for my ring to work on it, I have to feel fear but overcome it."
"But weren't you specifically chosen for your ability to overcome fear?" Asuka asked. "Why did it take you so long to figure out how to make your ring work on yellow?"
"Because, most of times I was out as Green Lantern before, I wasn't actually afraid of the things I was facing, so I didn't have to overcome my fears," Misato explained with a small smile. "But when the Commander made me think Adam had come to finish me off, that changed."
"It all just sort of clicked into place after that," Misato continued. "And I haven't had trouble with the color yellow since." She paused. "Well, except when I ran out of power in Terminal Dogma, of course." She added.
"Oh, here we go again," Asuka groaned.
Two weeks after what was being called the Final Battle of Tokyo-3, the fallout was still coming down.
The old men of the SEELE council had wagered everything on their precious plan for Instrumentality, fully expecting a Third Impact to bring an explosive end to the current world order. They had obviously lacked contingency plans to deal with the aftermath if that didn't happen, and so the multiple houses of cards that the various members had built in their efforts to drive their Scenario forward were rapidly starting to collapse. The truth was coming out, or at least bits of it were, and it was quickly turning into a scandal of unprecedented scope. Already, several important members of the Japanese government had stepped down in disgrace, and it didn't appear as though the heads would stop rolling any time in the near future.
Gendo Ikari had been arrested, along with Fuyutsuki, and both of them had been sent to the Hague, to be tried for crimes against humanity, along with several members of SEELE. Keel and a few of his colleagues were still at large, but being persona non grata virtually everywhere in the world, it seemed unlikely that they would ever pose a threat again.
NERV's status as a legitimate agency of the UN and Japan had been restored, though in the absence of Angel attacks, the organization would be doing little besides guarding Lilith. A chagrined Kaji had been made the Commander of NERV's new do-little incarnation, much to Misato's amusement.
The true identities of Green Lantern, Supergirl, and Wonder Girl had become something of an open secret around the base, although so far that knowledge had yet to spread to the public. Given how good NERV was at keeping secrets, Misato believed that their identities were safe for the foreseeable future.
"Look, all I'm saying is that I almost got into serious trouble because you just had to try to stop the EVA Series with Unit Two," Misato said.
"Would you quit going on about that?!" Asuka barked in annoyance.
Yet for all the changes that had happened, some things remained remarkably similar to before.
Quietly sipping a cup of tea in their new kitchen, Shinji silently turned to watch as his two apartment mates bickered.
The three of them had temporarily relocated to Tokyo-2, since the N2 mine that the JSSDF had dropped on Tokyo-3 had utterly destroyed their old apartment building, and most of the city's housing, for that matter.
Amazingly, Pen-Pen's fridge had actually protected him from the blast, and Asuka had managed to find him and pull him from the rubble. The water fowl had seemed dazed for a few days, but overall, he appeared to be fine.
"It's just something that deserves to be noted," Misato said. "Don't you think it was a little selfish of you to let me recharge Unit Two when you didn't need it?"
"I didn't know your damn ring could run out of juice!" Asuka protested.
"It seems like you could have assumed…"
The redhead made a disgusted sound. "I'm going out on a patrol," she announced. "Don't wait up for me."
With that, she stormed off to her room, slamming the door behind her.
Shinji still hadn't quite gotten over the fact that he was sharing an apartment with both Supergirl and Green Lantern, but he didn't let the weirdness of it slow him down. Quickly, he put his now empty mug in the sink and started to head for his own room.
"Hold it right there, Shinji," Misato said in a sing-song voice.
It was then that he knew his guardian had very deliberately pestered Asuka in vacating the apartment for a little while. He was trapped.
"Yes?" he asked, turning to face her.
"You've been avoiding being alone with me lately, Shinji, and I want to know why," Misato said.
"Don't be silly, Misato," he said. "I haven't been—"
"Shinji," she cut him off.
He instantly fell silent.
"It's because of what happened down in Terminal Dogma, isn't it?" she asked softly.
Shinji swallowed, thinking back to that moment.
"Misato!" Shinji exclaimed as he entered the room where she'd decided to hide from Gendo, the hat box still in his hands.
The former Ops Director had clearly seen better days. She was sitting on the floor, her back against the wall and a pained expression on her face, along with a sheen of sweat. She was clutching her side in obvious agony.
"Shinji?" she gasped out. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to help you," he said, kneeling down next to her so they were eye-to-eye. "What happened? Who did this to you?"
She shook her head. "That's really sweet of you, but you should get back to Central Dogma and get to Unit One. You can't help with this. Your father…it's like he's gone crazy," she tried to explain in a great rush. "He has a ring like Green Lantern's."
"Like yours, you mean," Shinji said. "Misato, I know. And I brought you this."
He opened the hat box, revealing her power battery.
"You would've found it if not for me," he continued hurriedly. "I found it and then hid it again. I'm sorry about snoop—"
The Third Child didn't get any further before Misato grabbed him and pulled him forward, pressing her lips to his for several long seconds.
"That was an adult kiss," she told him as they parted. "In a few years, we can do all the rest."
"R-Right," Shinji said, clearly too dazed to do anything but agree. "Um, I'm gonna go time you some buy, uh, buy you some time. To get yourself together."
"It just feels a little awkward now," he confessed, returning to the present.
"'Awkward'?" Misato arched an eyebrow. "Is that how you'd describe that, Shinji?"
"You know what I mean, Misato," he said, looking exasperated. "Look, you clearly want to set the record straight, so let's just do that and get it over with. I understand that it was just a heat of the moment thing. I don't expect anything, so it's really okay."
She smiled at him. "You're too quick to assume things, Shinji."
He blinked. "What? You're serious?"
"Yeah, I am," Misato said. "You know, back in Terminal Dogma, when your father used his ring to make my worst fears come to life, the only thing that made it possible for me to pull myself together enough to strike back was the thought of what would happen to you if I let myself just curl up and die there."
She nodded. "You mean that much to me. Don't ever believe otherwise. You've become a big part of my life, Shinji, and I definitely want you with me in some way. You're too young for me right now, but in the future…" she smiled. "Let's just say I'm not ruling the possibility out."
"Wow," he said, amazed.
She smiled. "Of course, I could understand if you didn't want to wait just so you can be with an old woman like me."
"Old woman? You said you used the ring to make yourself nineteen again," he pointed out.
"True," she smirked. "I'm just saying, if there's another girl you want to be with, I'd get it. I would never force you to wait for me."
"No, I…of course I'd want to be with you!" Shinji finally managed to spit it out, smiling as he placed a hand on hers.
Misato grinned back at him, amazed at how relieved and happy those simple words made her feel.
She knew that Shinji was young, and that the amount of time they would have to wait would seem very long to him. It was far from impossible that someone else would catch his eye in that time, and, quite without meaning to, he would end up giving his heart to someone else. And even though it would hurt her, she would let him go, because she wanted him to be happy.
However, she knew that worrying about what might be was about as productive as obsessing over things that had happened in the past that she couldn't change. She refused to fear the future, and instead decided to embrace the happiness she was feeling in the here and now.
"Stick with me, Shinji, and we can do more than an adult, just like I promised," she grinned. "And believe me, I can make that very good."
Shinji blushed ferociously. There was no doubt as to what she meant by that.
"Some things are never gonna change, are they?" he wondered aloud.
"Maybe, maybe not," Misato chuckled.
"Still…things won't ever be quite the same, either." he remarked. "I mean, they're going to have to rebuild Tokyo-3 practically from scratch, and NERV's never going to be exactly what it was. And you and Asuka and Rei are superwomen, and now I know you're superwomen. It's all going to be different."
"Yeah, it will," Misato agreed, "but I'm here to help you deal with it all. I know I can find the courage to overcome any changes so long as I have you with me."
Author's Notes: And here it is at last, the conclusion to the first SOE2 story. I can barely believe that I began this thing way back in 2009. I hope all of you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it.
As always, thanks to my readers and my reviewers, and thanks to my beta reader as well.
It was a quiet night in what remained of Tokyo-3, a battered fortress city that had only just started to rebuild itself in earnest. There were no great storms on the horizon, no worries about annihilation hanging over the denizens of the city, as there had been in the past. With the Angels gone, the people who lived there, as well as the rest of the world, were hoping to settle into a long period of peace and renewal.
In the bedroom of a newly built apartment, Misato Katsuragi was sleeping soundly. Even though it had only been a few weeks since she had moved back to Tokyo-3 with her two charges and pet waterfowl, the young woman had already managed to make a mess of her bedroom. Junk was scattered all around her futon, and her blankets were a tangled mess. The empty beer cans which had one been littered her floor were no long in evidence, however.
With no apocalyptic calamities to worry about, the woman who was secretly Green Lantern had been enjoying some of the most restful sleep she'd gotten in years, and that evening was no exception.
Unfortunately, that was about to change.
With no warning, emerald light started to stream through the crack beneath her closet door, hitting Misato in the face. The still sleeping woman grimaced and turned over, but it did her little good. The light rapidly grew brighter, and her room began to get less and less dim.
Then the noise started. The sounds of muffled voices started to emanate from her closet along with the jade glow.
Eventually, it became too much for Misato to sleep through. Her eyes opened, and she sat up, yawning.
"Oh, that's not normal," she murmured, squinting against the green luminosity coming from the place where she kept most of her clothes.
Untangling the blankets wrapped around her, the purple-haired woman staggered toward the closet, finding that one of her feet was asleep. Grumbling to herself, she opened the closet door and went searching through the messy pile of clothing on the floor within. It only took her a moment to find her lantern battery and pull it out.
She could make out the words coming from the battery as soon as they were no longer muffled by her dirty laundry.
"Abin? Abin Sur?" a soft voice spoke. "Abin? Are you there?"
Misato swallowed. "Abin Sur is dead," she answered. "I'm his replacement."
The voice coming from the battery grew noticeably colder. "Lantern 2814, why haven't you reported to Oa yet?"
Misato frowned. "There were things here that I had to deal with first," she answered, not liking the mystery voice's tone. "Who are you, anyway?" she demanded.
"I am a Guardian of the Universe."
"Oh," Misato replied, blinking.
She remembered the ring telling her about the Guardians, the mysterious group of elder beings who had established the Green Lantern Corps and ran the organization to this day. The superiors she hadn't heard from until this moment.
She suddenly found herself really hoping that the Guardian couldn't see her. It would be a fine thing to first greet one of the beings that commanded the Corps while dressed in nothing more than a thin tank top and a pair of panties.
"Lantern 2814, you are hereby ordered to report to Oa as soon as possible," the Guardian said sternly. "Failure to comply will result in the confiscation of your power ring and battery."
"Whoa, wait a second," she protested. "I can't just take off at the drop of hat. I have responsibilities here that I—"
Her power battery went dim and silent before she could finish. The Guardian clearly wasn't interested in hearing her out.
"Well," she muttered to herself, staring at it. "I guess things aren't going to get as boring as I thought they were…"
Coming soon in…
Superwomen of Eva 2: The Sinestro Corps War