Asuka Langley Sohryu emitted a small sigh as she lightly hopped down from the chopper that brought her onto the landing pad from the Tokyo-2 airport.

Tokyo-3. A glorious fortress, the last hope of mankind against the cruel alien invaders known as the Angels. A battlefield, where she, Asuka, was expected to risk her life inside an unfamiliar Evangelion and like it.

The young girl cursed the commander silently once again, bemoaning her luck. Why, oh why couldn't the brass just hurry up and ship her own Unit 02 here, so that she could crush the invaders in a proper production Eva perfectly suited for her? Asuka added another curse towards the dead pilot of Unit 01 and immediately felt shame.

The pilot, Ikari Shinji, was the commander's son and the designated Third Child, apparently unprepared for his responsibility. As far as Asuka heard, they didn't have time to train the child, since Sachiel, the Third Angel showed up so suddenly. The proper pilot stationed in Tokyo-3, Ayaname Rei, had been, and probably still was, injured at the time of the attack and couldn't pilot her own Eva, the Unit 00 prototype, so they just stuffed the Ikari kid into the entry plug of Unit 01 and hoped for the best. Asuka didn't blame them, the situation was quite desperate, from what Kaji had told her, but still, the whole affair reeked of the higher-ups' incompetence.

The teenager shook her head, trying to discard the pictures she had seen from the battle footage, but not quite able to.

'Damage to the right arm! All conections dead!'

The Third Child was able to activate Unit 01, with an impressive 43% synch first time ratio, so they sent him out.

'Shinji! It's not your arm! Let the pain go! It's just the Eva!'

Against a being that took a tactical N2 point bombardment and was slowed down for only half an hour.

'Skull has been penetrated! Synch rate dropping rapidly!'

And he had fought. Or tried to. But he couldn't even walk.

'Pilot's lifesigns destabalising! We're losing him!'


'Initiating heart-massage!'

'Rapid necrosis of the cranial nerve! Permanent damage eminent!'

'Shinji-kun!! Don't die!'

The angel killed the boy. Just like that.

'Synch rate spike! 370% and rising!'

'The bio-neural pulses are flowing backwards!'

But they got lucky, if one could call it that. The Eva went out of control, piloted by an already cooling corpse.



Asuka jerked out of her reverie, still having to suppress a shudder every time she thought of the tape she was shown back in Germany. The Eva ate the angel, massacring it beforehand. It howled, and it trashed, and it consumed… A horrible picture that it was, it still caused her to feel pity towards the now dead Ikari Shinji, a boy she never knew but still had no choice but to respect slightly. First losses in the pilots' rows…

Brushing the strangely sobering thought aside, she lifted her bag and marched towards the parking lot where the slightly beat-up blue Alpine stood. It was time to face the music.

"And this is the Unit 01 you're going to pilot." Dr. Akagi Ritsuko proudly lectured, causing Asuka to perk up and look over the intimidating visage with a demonic horn. She had to admit, the thing looked impressive enough, thought the paintjob was somewhat lacking. Maybe she could convince the Command to paint it red, like her –former- Unit…

Akagi continued, smirking lightly at the girl's grinning face:

"Come along, I'll introduce you to the cage maintenance." She led on, departing from the umbilical bridge and sliding her card through the slot, causing the small elevator to open. Soon, they entered the observation platform, where a few technicians milled about, manning the consoles. A young female lieutenant stood in front of the forward terminal, right in front of the window, throwing glances at the purple Evangelion through the reinforced glass, while keying in some commands. As she saw them, she turned away from the monitor and saluted the doctor in greeting.

"Lieutenant Yuri Tanaka, let me introduce you to the new pilot of Unit 01, Miss Asuka Langley Sohryu." Ritsuko said, stepping aside for Asuka to come forward. Tanaka nodded, extending her hand and smiling.

"A pleasure to meet you, Pilot Sohryu. I hope we'll work well together." Asuka smiled back, shaking the woman's hand and already approving the lack of the usual Japanese custom nonsence.

"Call me Asuka, Lieutenant Tanaka. The pleasure's all mine." She answered, earning her a nod from the woman, who then inquired if Asuka wanted to know a few things about her future steed, to which Asuka readily agreed.

She shouldn't have, she thought, a few seconds later, as she was bombarded with enough technobabble to move a mountain. The fact that she had her degree in physics was the only thing that kept her from being completely lost. Still, she had to admit, the Unit 01's stats were impressive for a test-type.

"It has some quirks, thought," Tanaka continued, smiling a bit sheepishly.

"Quirks? What do you mean?" the younger girl asked, turning her head from Ritsuko to Tanaka and back. Both of them suddenly looked uncomfortable.

"Well, to be honest, it behaves unusually sometimes." Tanaka sighted, motioning them toward the terminal she had used before they entered.

"You see," she continued, "since it was activated the first time, it exhibited signs of… independence."

Asuka just blinked at the lieutenant in disbelief. Independence? From a giant robot? What the hell was the woman on?

Yuri Tanaka shuffled under her gaze, so she redirected her attention to Ritsuko, who, too, looked slightly embarrassed.

"I'll better show you." She sighted after an uncomfortable pause, pushing down a few keys on the console. Immediately, music came pouring out of the speakers inside the cage, a classic melody Asuka recognized as one of Bach's cello suites. She jerked an eyebrow up in bemusement, to which Ritsuko smirked herself and motioned though the window.

Asuka followed her gaze and almost gasped. Inside the cage, the Evangelion, eyes glowing with brilliant white, slowly bobbed it's head up and down and from side to side to the music's rhythm.

"Today's Thursday, so it's Bach time," Tanaka explained, "it gets hard rock on Mondays and some pop during the weekend. The rest of the time, we just turn the radio on and reroute the sound into the cage."

Asuka boggled. What the hell? It was a giant robot, a weapon, a doll! It wasn't supposed to like music! It was a seventy meter tall machine for god's sake!

Apparently, her look said it all, since Akagi tried to elaborate, stuffing her hands into the lab coat's pockets.

"After the…accident with the last pilot, the Unit 01 was slightly… unstable. You see, the synch ratio spike during the battle caused the Eva to come into direct contact with the pilot's mind. There was a reversal on the synchrograph as the synch ratio dropped again after the pilot's demise, so the Eva sucked some information into itself, so to speak. It'll fade in time, but for now… It can move on it's own from time to time and it already poked holes into walls with it's fingers, toyed with the power cable, and played a mean bridge game with the Magi, when we let them run diagnostics on it." She threw a pitying look at the completely befuddled Asuka, and continued.

"Well, we tried to stop it, of course, installed restrains, tried a few rehabilitation programs, but it's all of no use, and it is quite harmless, once we reinforced the arm holds so it didn't damage the walls too much. Besides, the commander prohibited further attempts to immobilize it, for some reason." Now, her face took on an expression Asuka couldn't quite understand. Tanaka took over.

"Rumor has it that the last pilot…"

"Lieutenant!" Akagi suddenly raged, obviously disgusted, but Tanaka stood her ground.

"Well, Doctor, you haven't figured out how it can move with the block plug in place, either" she commented, somewhat gruffily, causing Akagi to glare. Asuka just continued to stare though the window, where the Eva's head bobbed up and down serenely to the music…

"Well, that's your new home, then, I suppose", Misato commented, putting Asuka's bag down onto the floor of a small but quite nice apartment in one of the city's more luxury living blocks.

The flat consisted of a small kitchen, already suited up with a stove, a fridge, a sink and a ray of cupboards which were painted light salad green, contrasting nicely with the beige walls and brown wooden floor.

There also was a living room and a sleeping room, all furnished but undecorated, as well as a bathroom, with blue tiles and a tub. Both rooms were painted a pale yellow, with nice carpeting on the floor and both had an exit to a spacious balcony. Needless to say, Asuka was in love with this place. It had all the nessecery electronics, including a TV, was completely stocked up on food and anything a girl could need, and it was positioned near the mall. Also, if something went wrong, the owner lived only a few floors away, so the young girl was suitably impressed with the respect Nerv paid her pilot status.

"I'll be your legal guardian for the time you stay in Tokyo-3, so if you need anything, anything at all, don't hesitate to call or drop by. You got your cellphone?" Misato suddenly inquired.

"Yup." Asuka grinned, already rooting through the cupboard to take stock of what she had. Misato nodded slightly, studying the girl.

"You know, you can still come live with me. The offer's still open." She commented, pulling out a cigarette pack and lighting one. Asuka grimaced, pulling out a cup and handing it to the captain to use as an ashtray.

"Bah, Misato, you drink, you smoke now, apparently, and your flat is probably a sty." She commented, leaning against a counter.

"I still remember the way our apartment in Leipzig used to look like when you lived there." she smirked, "And when did you start to smoke, anyways?"

Misato grimaced slightly, but answered nonetheless.

"After Ikari-kun was killed." She said, then quickly elaborated, seeing the lack of understanding in her charge's eyes:

"Ikari Shinji. The pilot." She grimaced again, not comfortable with the topic, but Asuka pressed on, now curious.

"You knew him, then?"

"No, not really. I just picked him up when the Third Angel attacked. Cute kid. A little shy, but cute anyways. Had a huge row with his father, the Commander, in the Unit 01's cage. Said he didn't want to pilot." The woman grinned, mirthless.

"Well, so his loving daddy tells his lackeys to roll out the other pilot, Ayaname Rei. On a gunnery, bandaged from head to toe and tells her she has to pilot it instead of Ikari-kun. The bastard." She finished bitterly.

Asuka was silent for a second, absorbing the information. She wondered how the poor guy felt then.

Misato went on, taking a long drag on her cigarette.

"Well, of course the kid agreed then, since Ayaname was in no shape to walk, much less pilot the thing. And, since the Angel was attacking at the time, blasting at the city, I figured, it's our only choice, you know?" the older woman's voice was almost pleading, as if seeking forgiveness. Almost. But most and foremost, it was bitter, as was her small smirk. She looked old, suddenly.

"Well, he got into the plug and off he went, with a synch ratio of 43% on his first try, so I figured, he stood a decent chance there. Well, you already know how this worked out, you've seen the tapes." Misato finished her cigarette and disengaged from the wall she was leaning against.

"The commander just shrugged and said we needed a new pilot. Just like that, please-and-thank-you for taking one for the team. He'll still not enter the cage, if it's not filled with Bakelite, thought. Probably afraid the Eva'll crush him or something. Wouldn't blame the big and purple, thought."

Asuka chewed on all this, a little shocked and suddenly weary.

"Misato?" she asked finally, watching the woman wash the cup out in the sink.


"What do you think of the whole thing? With the sentient Eva, I mean." Misato put the cup down and looked Asuka in the eyes for a second, then turned away.

"No idea. It's sentient, allright. I mean, it turns around for the techs when they're cleaning it, for god's sake. Ritsuko can't explain it either, and she designed the bloody thing. Talks about reverse harmonics and hopes it'll fade in time." She was silent for a second. "But, between you and me, we all have no idea what the Evas ARE. They aren't just robots, that's for sure. Unit 00 also moved on it's own, when Ayaname tried to reactivate, so maybe all Evas can act on their own, I wouldn't know."

Misato picked up her own bag with disguised calmness and Asuka felt a pang of guilt for pulling the woman's wounds open.

"What I do know," the captain continued, readjusting her clothes and turning to face Asuka again, "is that you'll have to stay sharp. We've already sent one kid to his death. I don't want you do be the next one. Ok?"

Asuka could only nod.

After Misato left, she unpacked quickly, bemoaning the fact that the rest of her things would be arriving in a week, then cooked herself a small meal and went to bed afterwards. Yet, sleep didn't come.

"Sent to death by his own father…"

"Ok, Asuka, we're flooding the plug with LCL. Everything ok?" Misato asked over the com, sipping from a cup of coffee and taking a drag of her cancer stick. Asuka nodded, smiling. Finally, the test time has come and she was sure she could synchronize with this unit. After all, she was the great Asuka Langley Sohryu, pilot extraordinaire, and she was trained for ten years! It'd be a piece of cake, she smirked to herself.

"A-10 neural connections engaged, charging LCL. No problems detected." Huyuga Makoto reported, clicking away on his console. Aoba Shigeru jumped right in:

"First phase cleared, all checkpoints green. Pilot's heart rate slightly accelerated, but within the allowed piloting parameters."

Ibuki Maya also added her two cents in.

"The psychographs are in the green. All checklists are satisfied up to 2-5-5-0. We're ready to initiate the secondary connections."

"Start the second phase." Ritsuko nodded sharply, marking something on her clipboard.

"Secondary connections initiated. Aproaching the absolute borderline in 0,6, 0,5, 0,4, 0,3, 0,2, 0,1… Cleared." Ibuki reported, typing calmly. "The connection is established. The bio-neural signals are harmonized. The unit has been activated. No mental contamination detected. Synchronization rate is steady at… 97 percent?!" the last part was exclaimed in disbelief. Akagi's brow furrowed.

"Recalibrate the sensor array and try again. That can't be right."

"Yes, ma'm." the techs acknowledged, getting to work.

"Asuka? You alright there?" Misato inquired, opening the channel again.

"Yup, everything's fine." The girl grinned, relaxing slightly in her chair. The Unit around her felt… nice. Not like her own Unit 02, but nice nonetheless. The chair was soft and comfortable, the LCL around her warm (which was new to her. Her own Unit's entry plug was always rather cool, if not chilly) and the control yokes lay snugly in her hands, as if built for her alone.

"Better then fine!" she cheered, finding out that she could (finally!) stretch her legs properly, since the command chair's leg slots were deeper then in Unit 02.

"I think I'm in love with this baby!" Misato grinned despite herself, hearing this and sipping again at her coffee.

"Sensors recalibrated." Makoto reported followed by Maya:

"Synch ratio holding at 97%, no fluctuations detected. It's the correct number, sempai."

"Well," Ritsuko commented, bending over Maya's monitor to see the impossible number for herself, "training does bear fruit." She addressed Asuka directly now.

"Did you hear, Asuka? Your synch ratio is currently 97 percent and…" she didn't finish, since a happy squeal came over the com from the young pilot.

"97%!! Oh man, I'm so good!" the redhead raged in elation. "I love this Unit! Screw Unit 02, this one's much better!"

"Yes, yes, we get it." Ritsuko said, grinning wryly. A beep on the console drew her attention back, as the monitors flashed red for a second before settling down again.

"Energy spike detected." Makoto commented immediately, apparently unable to believe what he was seeing, "The bio-neural pulses are flowing backwards!"

"Still no danger of mental contamination." Maya elaborated, staring at her monitor in wonder, "the Unit is trying to synch with the pilot!" Akagi blinked at the monitor:

"Synch ratio jumped to 150%..."she whispered.

Inside the entry plug, Asuka suddenly felt even more warm then before, yet still comfortable. The display in front of her solidified slightly, appearing more sharply, as if someone added contrast to a TV. She suddenly felt the umbilical bridge around her, the power cable in her back, the restrains on her arms… The feeling of elation vanished, swept away by the sudden new sensations, but soon returned as Asuka realized that she was the seventy-meter-tall weapon of mass destruction. The purple armor on her body felt heavy, but not overly so, the shoulder where the progressive knife was stored itched slightly, and the control room before her eyes appeared to be filled with very tiny creatures she recognized as her commanding officers. And yet, she could still feel her plug suit hugging her legs, the neural clips pull back her hair, the LCL tickling her chin…

The sensation was indescribable, but Asuka still tried.


Misato cringed at the sudden happy noise.

"Asuka, are you alright? Asuka?!"

"Yeah, I'm ok! What happened? It's like I am the Eva!" the girl's cheer was infectious and Ritsuko grinned herself.

"Your synch ratio jumped to 150% and is holding steady. The Eva must like you." She commented.

"Yes, I like you too, you scary purple ugly… Who's the best Eva? Yes, you are, yes you are!" came Asuka's cooing voice from inside of the entry plug, causing the scientist to shake her head in amusement.

"Well," she commented, "we have ourselves a pilot, people."

Misato nodded, still smiling slightly at the redhead's antics.

"I'll report to the commander."

The large dark room around the Supreme Commander Ikari Gendo echoed with the retracting steps of the purple-maned captain, yet Fuyutsuki waited until the footsteps disappeared before turning towards his one-time student.

"Well, Gendo, it seems your son's sacrifice was not in vain, hmm?" he commented callously, adjusting his tie. The man behind the table rose, taking a few steps towards the darkened window.

"So it would seem." He answered, once again silent afterwards.

"Do you think she is still there?" Kozo asked again, almost sarcastically. The man in the black suit shrugged, a barely perceivable movement of shoulders.

"Irrelevant. It does not influence our scenario in the slightest." He commented, hands steeped behind his back. Fuyutsuki paused, thinking it over, then acknowledged the statement with a slight nod.

"So it would seem. Are you sure, though? It is a deviation from the Scrolls' prescriptions."

This gave Gendo pause.

"No." he finally admitted, slightly gruff. Kozo nodded again, taking place near his vis-à-vis. Both men stared out into the Geofront.

"He likes the girl, doesn't he? A young Casanova…"

"His usefulness has increased in his death. Ironic. The old men still suspect nothing." Gendo answered, cold and unmoving. Still, the tone of his voice betrayed him. Fuyutsuki threw him a pitying glance.

"Venturing into the cage would not be prudent at this time. We have no means of control over the Unit."

A grunt acknowledged the observation.

"Ok, Asuka, we're finished with the pallet rifle, proceed to grid E-5, we'll deploy a particle rifle there."

"Roger." The young girl acknowledged, dropping the pallet rifle onto the ground, where it dissipated into digitalized data, and grinned again, engaging the control yokes. The armored giant moved through the Magi-created landscape, halting in front of the armament building and pulling out the long particle canon. Inserting the cable of the weapon's targeting interface into the Eva's neck, she leaned back and breathed out, preparing for the recoil.

"Ready." She informed the command, gazing intently into the targeting computer of her plug. The purple behemoth obediently turned with her movements, seeking the target.

It was her third training session to familiarize herself with her new Eva, and she was loving every minute of it. Not only was the Unit 01 more comfortable then her own red Eva, but it also anticipated her moves in combat and acted accordingly. For example, she didn't have to open the prog knife hatch any more manually, since the Unit threw it open for her as soon as she approached the target with the intent to skewer it, or disengage the power cable when she was switching to a different power supply building. It was quite nice in fact, since she felt more at ease, knowing that the giant was inclined to help her in a pinch, should she forget something. Not that she needed it, of course, but still it was reassuring.

And the slight nod of the huge purple head every time she climbed into the plug was also very nice. All about Unit 01 was nice. No wonder the Ikari kid was able to synch with it so easily on his first (and only) try, she thought, suddenly receiving a slight cold feeling back from her connection to the machine.

"Your synch ratio just dropped by 3 %, Asuka. Is everything alright?" Misato inquired, suddenly cautious.

"Yes, all's ok." Asuka answered, feeling slightly apologetic. Apparently, the nice purple monster boy didn't like it when she dissed it's former pilot.

"Ok then, I'm sending another target up for you to kill." Misato grinned, motioning for Makoto to proceed.

Another black form of Sachiel appeared, quite far away from the Eva, stomping towards it quickly.

"Distance is 2 point 6 kilometers and closing in. You can take the shot, if you want." Ritsuko commented, marking down the simulation progress. Asuka shrugged and shouldered the rifle, allowing the targeting computer to get a lock, which it did in a few seconds. The Angel, however, decided to fire the first shot, forcing Asuka to duck behind the nearest building to escape the cross-like blast of fire. Leaning to the side, she caught the beast in her reticule again and pressed the trigger, firing two balls of superheated plasma to speed towards the target, but not expecting them to hit, since the targeting processing unit was thrown off lock with her sudden movements. The angel fired again, closing in. Asuka cursed fluently in german, damning the Magi for the increased complexity but relishing the challenge nonetheless. Making her way around the building she dived behind, the redhead peeked out and caught sight of her target, waiting patiently to lock onto it. A quite beep informed her of success and she immediately released two more shots at the ugly thing, deploying her AT field out of habit at the same time. The first energy ball splashed against the hexagonal barrier, but the second one hit true, the Angels own A.T. filed now neutralized, demolishing the angel's head and allowing her to calmly fire a few more shots at the core, neutralizing it effectively. She smirked again, enjoying the thrill of a successful hunt. The display in front of her flickered approvingly, glowing a bit brighter.

"Ok, Asuka, that's it for today. Good job, tomorrow it's close quarter combat." The simulated city around her disappeared as she acknowledged the disengagement order, revealing the Nerv training room and the thick cables running towards her Eva.

The girl put her Eva's empty hands down, stretching her own back at the same time, and marched the huge cyborg towards the transport platform waiting for her. The plug ejected with a hiss, draining the LCL and allowing her to exit.

"Well, big guy, see you tomorrow, I guess." She commented fondly, after spitting out the rest of LCL from her lungs, patting the control yokes lovingly and finding it increasingly easier to talk to the unresponsive giant. What a weird life she led, she thought with a giggle.

Stepping out of the entry plug, she stretched again and turned around to look at the Evangelion's head, which nodded to her customarily, issuing a soft rumbling sound. Shrugging innerly, she bowed back, grinning, and made her way towards the changing rooms. An idea striking her, she made a quick detour to the Unit 01's cage observation room.

"Lieutenant Tanaka?" she called out, drawing the woman's attention.

"Could you put another of the Cello Suites for him today? I know it' not Thursday, but he did a really good job today, so I thought he deserved something nice in return."

"He?" Tanaka grinned, followed by the others from the maintenance crew, causing Asuka to blush and scowl.

"Got yourself a boyfriend of Steel, Asuka-chan?" Tanaka needled, grinning from ear to ear.

"Oh hah, hah." Asuka grumbled, smiling despite herself, "It's just, I think, if he were human, he'd be male. Or something." She shrugged helplessly, unable to explain her certainty. Tanaka continued to smirk, but nodded.

"Sure, no skin off my nose, I guess."

The hospital room was very bland and very white. The only window was shuttered, but not completely, so Asuka was still able to distinguish the only bed's occupant. She shut the door behind her and came closer, trying to see if the blue-haired girl was asleep or not. Apparently, she wasn't, since her only visible eye was open, staring pointlessly at the white ugly ceiling. The eye was red. Shrugging innerly and taking Ayaname for an albino, Asuka approached closer, drawing the injured girl's attention to her.

"Hello!" the redhead greeted cheerily, creeped out by the quiet, but not willing to give up just yet.

The girl on the bed said nothing, just staring her in the eyes.

"I'm Asuka Langley Sohryu, the Second Child. Just thought I'd drop by and see how you were." Asuka drew out a chair and sat on it, putting her bag down. Again, the First Child said nothing, continuing to stare and Asuka thought she was heavily medicated still.

"Well, how are you here?" the redhead inquired finally, as the silence stretched. Her fellow pilot moved slightly, turning her head to study her with her uninjured eye.

"I am well. My recovery proceeds slightly ahead of the schedule and I am expected to be released in 7 days and returning to duty in two weeks." The voice was very quite, bland and monotonous. Asuka shuddered innerly, since the other girl seemed to radiate some sort of frigidness around her without even trying.

"Well, that's good, I guess." The young german commented, only to once more slump into awkward silence. Ayaname's head slowly turned around, again staring at the ceiling. 'Freak' Asuka mentally labeled her, still trying to come up with a way to start a conversation.

"Are they treating you alright here?"

The blue-haired girl acknowledged the question with a small nod.

"The care I receive here is sufficient. I have no complains." She answered.

Asuka swore inside and undertook another try.

"So, aren't you bored here? I mean, you haven't even got a TV here, and I don't see any books, so what do you do here all day?"

Now, finally, an emotion flickered over the pale girl's face. Confusion. As if unsure how to answer that, she once more turned to look at Asuka.

"…bored?" she inquired, staring at the redhead with a strangely intense gaze.

"Well, yeah, bored. When you've got nothing to do. Bored." Asuka elaborated, a little louder then nessecery, to fill the room's silence.

"The emotion is… boredom?" Ayaname asked very quietly, as if talking to herself. Then, obviously having decided something, she nodded to herself and once more looked at Asuka.

"Yes. I am bored here. I was informed that one had to undertake socially acceptable actions for entertainment purposes to combat boredom." She nodded once more, not seeing Asuka's totally weirded-out look, and continued: "Yet, I am unsure what such actions entail. Please inform me, what would be a socially acceptable way to not be bored?"

"You're in luck!" Asuka outwardly cheered, thinking of nothing else then leaving the frigid quiet room and it's strange occupant as soon as possible, lest she caught the weirdness. Quickly pulling her bag into her lap, she pulled out a few mangas, as well as a small book titled "Faust" by Goethe, putting them down onto the bedside table.

"I brought you some things to read, but I didn't know what you preferred, so sorry if you don't like them." She said, inwardly thanking Misato for the idea, then forged on.

"You can give them back to me when you're done." Ayaname nodded slightly once again, following the reading material with her gaze, then returning to Asuks.

"Thank you. I will try to read them before I return to school. Tell me, are there other ways to not be bored?"

Asuka cringed at the unexpected question and thought if she could just blow it off, replying that she didn't know, but the other girl's gaze held such hidden longing, that she couldn't bring herself to leave just yet.

"W-well, you can watch TV, or listen to music, or something." She replied, bewildered by the unexpected turn of conversation and cringing innerly at her own lameness. She sounded like a total loser.

"Or you can go out, like, to an arcade, or go shopping, with friends?" The only visible red eye clouded over in deep thought.

"And if I do not posess 'friends'?" she looked almost sad, when she said that, Asuka observed. Well, she was a fellow pilot and they'll probably have to work together in the future, so might as well make nice with her…

"Well, I'll be your friend, then! You should count yourself lucky, since I'm the Great Asuka Langley Sohryu and I don't offer my friendship to just anyone!" the redhead proclaimed, smiling brightly and cursing her innate niceness innerly.

School, Asuka found, was strangely empty. Oh, there were students miling about, but compared to the college campus, they were terribly sparce and the large school building seemed very underused. Oh well, she shrugged, making her way towards her assigned class, paperwork in hand and the book bag in the other. Quickly nabbing herself some small kid, she got directions and found her way without any trouble, cheerfully congratulating herself for her own smarts.

Sliding the door open blithely and entering, she scanned the class for free seats, and took one at random, sending a glare towards anyone who looked at her strangely. Only one kid ignored her glare (the rest was deemed wimps and not worthy of her attention) and even went as far as to approach her.

"Hi. I'm Hikari Horaki, the class representative. Are you the new student?" the pig-tailed girl inquired, bowing in greeting and studying her intently. Asuka grinned and nodded, standing up and extending her hand, determined to disregard all and any unfamiliar customs. The class rep shook it.

"Yup. I'm Asuka Langley Sohryu, just transferred here from Germany." Asuka informed her, extending the paperwork. The girl took the sheets, studying them cursorily, then smiled back.

"Well, welcome to our class, then. I hope we'll all get along here. Say, do you have your school ID already?" she inquired more somberly, apparently taking her responsibilities quite seriously. Asuka nodded, still smiling, then pulled out her Nerv id, showing it off.

"Right here, it substitutes as a school pass. Say, there aren't many people here. How come?"

Hikari lost a little of her own smile and looked worried.

"Well, since the attack, many people decided to move, so we've lost quite a few students. But it can't be helped, I suppose." She sighted, a little angrily, obviously thinking that it, in fact, could be helped, if she got her hands on the cowardly parents. Asuka grinned a bit wider.

"Hmm, so you work for Nerv? What do you do there? Side jobs have to be registered with the principal." Hikari took a seat in front of Asuka leaning over the redhead's desk a little, so Asuka took her seat as well, smiling proudly.

"I'm an Eva Pilot." She stated simply, smirking as all activity in the classroom cased for a second, then resumed once more as everyone stormed her, crowding her desk and peppering her with questions she readily answered.

The class rep cleared the space quickly with a few barks Asuka had not expected from the seemingly contrite girl, then turned back to Asuka to satisfy her own curiosity, when Ayaname entered, calmly walking over to her own sit, nodding to Asuka in greeting, then pulling out "Faust" and started reading. Only now Asuka noticed that the book was in german and cursed herself for the mistake. She had a Japanese translation, but, apparently, mixed up the books when she brought them to the hospital.

"Ayaname! Hi. I didn't know you knew german." She commented, drawing the attention of everyone in class towards the pale girl. Rei ignored it, answering to Asuka only.

"I did not. I learned the language after you have loaned me the book." She stated in her customary bland voice, causing Asuka to freak.

"Y-you learned german in seven days! To read 'Faust'?!"

"Yes." Was the answer, the girl's attention never wavering from the halfway done book, "It was a very effective exercise to stave off boredom." Asuka freaked even more.

"W-well, that's nice for you. Keep up the good work?"

"Thank you, I shall."

Asuka's head met her desk under the pitying gaze of Hikari, who was already used to Ayaname's brand of unusual, then the class rep exploded in giggles.

The girls chatted for a bit, which allowed Asuka to inform her new friend that she was quarter-japanese, that she lived in Germany most of her life and that she was actually America, that she indeed piloted a giant mecha and that she indeed would be very glad to get to know Hikari more, when a new pair of students entered the classroom. One was dressed in a track suit and looked very glum for some reason. The other one was short, dressed in a scruffy school uniform and had a camera in his hands. All about him almost screamed 'geek', but that didn't seem to bother him overmuch, since he was cheerfully talking to his brooding companion. Following them was the teacher, who's sight caused Hikari to explode in motion towards her own desk, from where she started a military campaign of getting the class in order and was successful.

Halfway into class, Asuka found out that there was such a thing as too much information, since she never had the intention of knowing what it was like to use a toilet in the time directly after the Impact. Still, the teacher continued his sad story of the multiple uses of large tree leaves, so young german forced herself to tune the old guy out and entered the class chatroom in an effort to occupy her mind and be rid of a scary mental image. Inside the chatroom, the main topic was her very own status as the pilot, which pleased her ego immensely, so she contributed to the discussion and raised her popularity, finding school to be far better then she had figured.

Still, the day was not to end peacefully, since as soon as the bell rang the start of the lunch break, the jock she saw earlier stormed over to her desk, put his hands down onto it with a great force and glared at her with baleful eyes.

"Suzuhara!" Hikari cried in indignation, but the guy ignored her, throwing a 'Not now, Class rep!' over his shoulder and continuing to glare at the redhead. Now, all who yet had to exit paused and looked on in morbid curiosity at what was about to happen.

"You" the young man spit out slowly, causing Asuka to raise her eyebrow slowly in sardonic challenge.

"Me." She informed him, smirking dangerously, "What the hell do you want, baka?"

"You parade here like a friggen queen and have the gall to be proud of piloting your piece of junk you call a robot!" the guy all but hissed hatefully, his sence of chivalry and hate for her obviously fighting inside him.

Asuka blinked in surprise, not knowing what to make of the accusation.

"Well, yeah. What's your problem with it, monkey-boy?" She goaded him, smirking again superiorly, as his eyes became slits and he trembled with loathing.

"My sister almost lost her fucking leg because your moronic robot trashed the city!" the guy all but screamed, his fingers digging into the table so hard the knuckles became white.

"They had to operate her for ten hours so that she could keep it, and she might never walk again without a cane, you bitch!" he ranted, spittle flying. The geek with glasses put a hand onto his shoulder in an attempt to stop him, but the jock threw it off quickly, his gaze never straying from Asuka's eyes. The girl raised an eyebrow.

"Look, I'm sorry for your sister and all," she explained, blaze, "but I never fought in the city before. I came here after the attack happened."

The jock didn't seem satisfied with this, his eyes narrowing further.

"Then who. Was. The pilot?!" he bit out, "Was it Ayaname? Huh?!" his eyes darted towards the girl in bandages.

"No." Asuka said, her good mood evaporating quickly.

"Then who was it?! Who is the bastard! Tell me!" Now the jock screamed, his hands shaking the table. Asuka scowled angrily, but before she could answer, Ayaname interrupted.

"He perished in the assault." She quietly informed the silent class, closing her book and standing up. She made her way towards the door, pausing as she came level with the angry boy.

"Do not insult Ikari-san's memory in my presence again. You will regret it." She intoned, calm as ever, then continued on, undeterred, exiting the frozen class and making her way towards the school exit, book in the uninjured hand.

"I'm sorry about Toji." Hikari said quietly, sitting down near Asuka, a bento in her hands. Asuka grunted noncommittally, taking a slurp of the cafeteria juice box. Her good mood all but disappeared, replaced with irrational anger towards the idiot in the track suit and surprise over Ayaname's reaction. While Asuka didn't know the girl for long, she didn't think Rei threatening someone was a usual occurrence. From what Asuka knew, Ayaname had met Ikari only once, when she was paraded in front of him as blackmail material. Was she feeling guilty for his death? Asuka sighted, dismissing the thought. She'd just ask Rei the next time she saw her during synch tests what this all was about, she decided.

"Don't worry. He's a moron and he jumped to conclusions. Not your fault." The redhead sighted, forcing herself to relax slightly. Hikari brightened a little. Before they could continue their conversation, however, the annoyance from before made itself known again.

"Sohryu! Sohryu! Hey." The jock (Toji, Hikari had called him) run up to them, breathing heavily. He must've run all the way here from the school building, Asuka thought.

"What do you want again?!" she snapped, drawing herself up and glaring. Suzuhara fought a scowl from entering his face and tried to look apologetic.

"Look, I'm sorry about earlier, ok?" he forced out, not quite succeeding to convey sincerity, "I-I didn't know, alright."

"Bah." Asuka commented, hands crossed over her chest, "What would you know anyways? Get out of my sight." Suzuhara cringed, but was undeterred.

"Look, what's the big deal, anyways? What did Ayaname mean, he died? I mean, we saw the Eva take the monster apart!" Asuka's scowl deepened, her temper fraying.

"I'm not permitted to talk about it." She informed him shortly, turning away to sit back down, dismissal apparent. Suzuhara snorted.

"Yeah, right. You're probably lying anyways to protect the bastard or something." He commented, turning away as well.

Asuka's temper finally snapped. Here was some punk, accusing her of lying and insulting a dead boy who died screaming in pain and begging for his father to help him, while the man watched coldly and did nothing!

Her foot found his crotch and impacted there with great force, sending Toji crumbling to the ground in pain. Asuka leaned over him, face red with anger.

"Ikari Shinji," she hissed out, staring into the idiot's eyes, "died defending you and your sister and the whole damned city from a giant alien, you prick. He died because his brain gave out from pain, forcing his heart to a standstill, while said monster tore him apart piece by fucking piece, screaming all the way. And you are alive here, insulting him because his last order to the 'piece of junk' was to kill the fucking Angel so you could live and the Eva killed the Enemy with him already gone! I may not have known him, but you have no right to insult him while you strut around here, and he is cremated without so much as proper funeral, since his father, incidentally the man who sent him to his death, doesn't give a damn his only son bit it." She took a deep calming breath. "You will not talk to me or Ayaname. You will not look at us. You won't even so much as breath in our presence or I will destroy you. Do you understand me?"

The boy nodded jerkily, terrified and in pain and Asuka stood up again, marching towards her bench where an equally terrified Hikari sat, guarding their uneaten lunches, but stopped midway. Her telephone rang. The message was clear and simple. 'Code Blue. Melchior.' The city alarms only reinforced it.

The plugsuit on and pressurized, the Second Child raced towards her cage, grinning wickedly. Finally. An Angel had come to Tokyo-3 to challenge her. To test all the years of training she received, all the skill she called her own. Well, she would show him. She fully intended to show that she wasn't the best pilot of an Evangelion for nothing. She would destroy the Enemy, showing the Nerv that their hopes were not misplaced, that she was the best out there. Her grin widened a bit more as she imagined her Enemy lieing in a formless puddle before her as she cheered in victory. Yes, finally the day she was born for had arrived.

Sprinting up to the cage entrance, she spied Misato up in the observation room, winked at her Tactical commander and sprinted on, flying up a flight of stairs and jumping into an already open entry plug. The techs around the room went to work and soon the capsule was lifted and inserted into her purple Eva (Asuka reminded herself once more to do something about the color, even if she had to repaint the Evangelion herself). A quick twisting sensation filled her as the plug screwed itself into the Eva's neck, followed by a hard jerk as the back armor sealed over her. Quickly, LCL began filling the plug, flowing in with a quite hiss.

Ibuki's voice sounded through the capsule:

"Asuka, we're beginning synchronization. Misato-san will brief you once we're done."

"Ok, Ibuki-san!" Asuka responded, a bit anxious. The blackness around her flashed with colours and she concentrated, forcing the behemoth around her to become an extension of her body. Still, something felt off. The LCL was a bit murkier then usual and the screen in front of her wasn't as sharp as she remembered from training yesterday. Ritsuko's voice backed up her suspicions:

"Asuka, your synch ratio dropped to 93%. Is something wrong?" the doctor inquired, tapping on her keyboard.

"Well, I feel strange." Asuka commented, noticing slight quirks in her interface that weren't there before. It was as if…

Asuka cursed herself. The Eva didn't nod to greet her as she climbed into the plug. It was as if the presence she felt since she first synched with the Evangelion wasn't there anymore. Why? The Eva was there for her during training, always ready to help her out. But now, for whatever reason, it wasn't there. She was piloting a dead machine. For some strange reason, she felt disappointment.

"I think the Eva doesn't want to help me today." She finally said to the blonde doctor. Misato in the small com window pulled yet another cigarette and lit it with a curse.

"Well, no time to figure out why, I guess." She shrugged, bringing up a map of Tokyo-3 outskirts on Asuka's side display with a click of a button.

"The plan is as following. The Angel, codename Shamshel, is approaching Tokyo-3 from north-east, at a sedate speed. The stationary defences weren't very effective, so the JSSDF demands that we deploy you, the morons. We would've sent you out in any case." She took another drag.

"Anyways, we'll send you up into grid F-7 and you're going to intercept it as soon as it reaches the city outskirts, and engage it with distance weapons. The armament building is here." She highlighted a marker on Asuka's map. "You've got no backup, so fight smart. Don't rush it if you've got other options. The Magi estimate that the Angel has superb close quarter combat capacity. Any questions?"

Asuka nodded. "Yeah. Can you give me a picture of it?" Misato shook her head.

"Only from the satalite, it destroyed all our survivalence equipment."

"Damn." Asuka cursed, then grinned. "Well, no problem. I'll take it apart quicker then you can say 'origami'."

Misato threw her a hard look, but said nothing.

"Ok then, move the Eva to the 17-th catapult."

The angel was also purple. Asuka suspected that the color was following her around because she somehow pissed off God, or something. At least she managed to keep her red plugsuit.

Still, the angel was purple and looked like a dick with whiskers. Said whiskers glowed a bright magenta and from what she saw, could cut or melt through buildings quite easily.

The girl sprinted through the street, still hidden from the creature's view and pulled out a pallet rifle from the preplanned building. Smirking wickedly, she leaned out from behind the building and hit the Angel's AT-filed with her own, followed by a burst from the rifle. The bullets impacted into the purple skin, leaving small craters, as the huge monstrosity turned around, waving it's appendages threateningly. The pilot cursed, seeing that her shots had almost no effect, and jumped back, as the skyscraper providing her cover fell in three pieces. Sending another volley of shells at her target, she jumped back yet again, as the Angel proved that it's whiskers\arms were not only useful for close quarter combat.

Throwing the useless gun away, she deployed the progressive knife and activated it with a loud burst of sound.

"Asuka, fall back. There's a positron rifle being deployed in grid F-8. Don't engage it in close quarters!" Misato shouted over the com, but Asuka had to ignore her in favor of evading the glowing tentacles. The Angel advanced, floating over the wreckage it had created, and criss-crossed it's arms once more, trying to capture her in between and she jumped back yet again, hating herself for the need to retreat. It couldn't go on like that for long, or she'd be backed into a corner. Reaching the decision, she ducked under another swipe and jumped forward, leaning back at the same time, hoping to roll under the Angel. It was not to be, however, as the abomination withdrew it's arms with lightning speed and plunged them down towards the approaching Eva. Out of reflex, Asuka caught one of them in her off hand, suppressing a scream of pain. The tentacles were melting her hand armor. She pressed her progressive knife against the glowing appendage, still rolling to avoid the second one, and was rewarded with a screech of pain from the creature and a limp piece of flesh in her hand. Her enemy raised it's upper half from earth, waving it's arms around in pain.

Finding her footing, Asuka threw herself forwards once more, aiming at the revealed core, but the Angel quickly realized it's mistake and lashed out. Again, Asuka caught one of it's arms, grinning at the repeat, but this time, the Angel heaved, lifting her off the ground and swinging her in a halfcircle in the air. Still, she didn't let go, clinging on to the burning tentacle and gritting her teeth in pain. The Angel continued the motion, accelerating her flying speed, and aimed with the second hand, intent to disembowel her.

The redhead had no choice but to swing her knife, once more leaving another piece of the enemy's arm in her grasp, but now she was flying through the air, trying to twist around to come down on her feet. She succeeded, but just barely, landing in a crouch and sliding back almost a hundred meters. Luckily, she landed on a small hill outside of Tokyo-3, having thus spared quite a few buildings from eminent destruction. The Angel turned around as well, looking very pissed off, and floated towards her, it's castrated weapons waving wildly.

"Asuka, don't put the foot down! You've got civilians under it!!" Misato cried, her cigarette long forgotten. The redhead jerked her steed's head around, noticing two small figures lying flat on their ass below her lifted left heel. She almost slid over them.

"Scram!" she shouted, engaging her external speakers and noting that she had only 4 and a half minutes of power left. The cable must've gotten cut when she was sent flying. One of the figures jumped up and run towards the other one, trying to pick it up in a fireman's carry, but not being very successful.

"The boy's leg is broken, Asuka! They won't get out of there in time!" Misato's shout came over the com.

Swearing in german, Asuka remained motionless, watching her enemy approach and glad she didn't drop her prog knife at least. The figures underneath still tried to get away, but it became obvious, that one of them was in no shape to do much of anything, wailing in pain as he was.

The Angel was upon her once more, it's arms shooting at her. Asuka cursed once more and caught them in her already mutilated hands, dropping the knife, and howled in pain, as the Angel sent a wave of electricity into the iron body.

"Cut the synch to 40%!" Ritsuko's cry echoed through the still open channel. The pain subsided a little and Asuka once more was able to think clearly. Grasping her prey in her arms firmly, she stretched out her Unit's arms, trying to rip the accursed tentacles out of her enemy. Below her, the uninjured boy finally dragged his friend out of the way and Asuka planted her foot down at once, standing up and heaving once again, swinging the Angel over her head, as if to repay the favor. The beast crushed into the neighbor hill and Asuka picked her knife, then pounced onto the downed enemy.

The impact of many tons of cyborg crushed the Angel, ripping it's back open, but it still didn't give up, trying to turn around and strike at her once more, but Asuka, letting out a string of vulgarities, smashed it's 'head' with her fist, sending it into the hill once more, then plung her knife into it's back, twisting it to widen the wound. The power indicator dropped under two minutes.

Trying to work as quickly as possible with her suddenly clumsy hands, the girl struck the Angel once more, then let go of the knife and took the wound's edges, tearing it open with a loud grunt. There, she finally saw the core, with bone structure protecting it and fixing it in place. The Angel under her trashed feebly, as if stunned by her assault and pain it was doubtlessly experiencing.

Asuka ignored it's attempts to get free, striking again with all her might into the bones covering the creature's core. After the third strike the bone relented revealing the glowing red sphere underneath and Asuka grasped it in her hands, trying to tear it out of the Angel's innards. The timer signaled one minute of power left and the plug around her turned red, but the redhead ignored it, tearing at her prize with a crazed snarl on her face. It relented, but very slowly, and the Angel's trashing became even more pronounced, as if he felt his end approaching. He probably did. The girl strained once more, her fingers digging into the unyielding red crystal and sending shards flying. 30 seconds. She braced her feet, howling in effort, but the core was still held by the flesh and bone around it, the Angel's innards regenerating with astounding speed. 15 seconds. 10. 5.

Letting out a rage-filled howl, Asuka heaved once more, unwilling to even consider defeat, when, suddenly, the Angel twisted impossibly, breaking his own bones in the process, and stuck with it's hands, penetrating her chest. The plug around her went dark, as the power run out.

"No! You can't do this to me! Move, damn you! I was so close! Move!"

Another impact shook the plug, informing the desparate girl that the Angel was intent on paying her back for it's agony, as she jerked the now useless control yokes towards her again and again, shouting at the unresponsive machine she was trapped in. Another impact. And another.

Maybe it was fate of the Unit 01's pilots to die, a hysterical part of Asuka's brain thought.

"Move, you useless piece of junk! Move! I'm not ready to die yet! Not like this! Not in my first fight! MOVE!"

A spark. A blue flower of flame in front of her, in the entry plug's darkness. A heartbeat.

"i was scared." A quite male voice whispered. A flash of light, and Asuka saw a lone figure in a white and blue plugsuit sitting in the darkness, maybe a meter in front of her command chair, his head down, an SDTA player in his hand.

"i didn't want to fight." The boy whispered again, hands hanging uselessly by his sides, "not again."

"sorry. now you're going to die because of me…"

"Shut up!" Asuka screamed, adrenalin still flowing through her. The boy's head jerked up, surprised.

"What are you doing here?!" he exclaimed, surprise evident, "You can't be here or you won't come out of here! Get out!" now his face showed fear, but not for himself. For her.

"I won't die!" Asuka screamed once more, clutching her control yokes and disregarding the absurdity of the situation.

"I will win, and if I have to tear the fucking thing apart with my own teeth, I will!! Do you hear me?!" the boy cringed back, then smiled slightly, suddenly.

"Ok." He offered quietly. "I'll help."

The darkness dissolved, the plug once more illuminated with a steady pale yellow and Asuka spasmed slightly, as the pain from the Eva's wounds came crushing into her. The Angel still lay under her, it's thin arms rearing back for another strike. It didn't succeed.

The purple arms flew forwards, grasping the tentacles and tearing back brutally, coiling the Angel's arms around and with a quick jerk, tearing them out. A twin spray of blood colored the purple Eva red. Only now Asuka noticed that she didn't do anything.

'come on. it's difficult by myself, without power.' A quite voice sounded in her ear, jerking her back into action. With a savage shout, the redhead took control of the Eva's hands, once more tearing into the almost healed wound on the Angel's back. The Core was still there, visible under the mash of the regrowing bones and Asuka grasped it firmly, turning around and lifting her trashing foe. Forcing the Eva to stand up, she threw Shamshel over her shoulder, still clutching his core in her grasp. The heavy mass of the creature swung over her, flying, then impacted into the valley between the two hills. A second passed before Asuka realized that the red orb was still in her hands. The Angel was dead. The light went out and she once more was plunged into darkness.

"I won."

"Ok. I want an explanation. Now." Asuka growled, staring at Misato's face as soon as the door opened, effectively releasing her from the carantine chamber the recovery team dumped her into as soon as she exited the immobile Evangelion. The captain was slightly taken aback from the hostile tone, but recovered her wits beautifully.

"It's me who's wanting for an explanation, young lady. Why did you disobey my orders?" Misato inquired cooly, arching an eyebrow. Asuka glared intensely at her.

"As an unranking member of Nerv organization, not drawn in as a soldier, not directly receiving a contractly fixed salary, and as a minor, I don't even have to take orders from you, Misato. You're, technically, not my commanding officer." She sneered, "Your order went against my better judgment, so as the one who had actually fought a huge alien invader, I think I had a far better grasp of the situation. Feel free to court material me, if you want." She threw her hair over her shoulder mockingly.

"Now, an explanation, if you would." Misato's face was as red as a tomato with anger and the girl feared her guardian might explode from blood pressure. Or get a heady rush, at the very last. Instead, Misato slapped her and got into her face.

"How dare you!" the captain hissed out, "Do you think I wouldn't pilot the thing if I could? Do you think that I want you to obey my orders because I'm your commanding officer?" The woman leaned back, taking a deep, steadying breath. Pulling out another cigarette, she lit it, briefly ignoring the stunned girl who rubbed her reddening cheek.

"You could have died there, Asuka." The older woman finally said, as if trying to make Asuka understand.

"When your power went out, we all thought you were done for. Heck, the commander ordered to drop an N2 on your position. What you pulled was impossible, no-one knows how you did it. Why didn't you retreat, Asuka? You could have gotten the positron rifle and blast the thing from afar. I told you not to fight it hand-to-hand." Asuka, now very insulted, her cheek hurting, narrowed her eyes.

"Yes sir, ma'm Captain." She hissed out, standing at attention and saluting mockingly. She already turned around to storm off when the older woman caught her shoulder. A moment later she found herself enveloped in a warm hug.

"I'm just glad you're alright, Asuka," Misato whispered, releasing her and whipping her eye. Her cigarette lay on the floor, dropped and forgotten.

Asuka contemplated the possibility of continuing her prissy match, but disregarded it.

"Well, it's me, the Great Asuka Langley Sohryu. What did you expect?" she smirked arrogantly instead.

"And you still owe me an explanation. Why the heck did the Eva move on it's own?" Misato shrugged, now noting her lack of a nicotin stick, and lit another one.

"Well, you'd better ask Ritsuko, really. But, considering which Eva you're piloting, I wouldn't be surprised. It went berserker before."

"You know, what I mean, Misato." The redhead scowled, the heat on her cheek already fading, "I was in complete control. The only thing the Eva did on it's own was rip out the tentacles. And the thing I saw when the power went out. What the hell was that?" Misato's brow furrowed slightly.

"Things? What things? Were you hallucinating?" she inquired, concerned. Asuka shrugged in return.

"Maybe. What colors was Ikari's plugsuit?" Misato blinked at the question, then grew even more concerned.

"White and blue, with 01 on the chest." She answered, "Why?"

Asuka swallowed.

"Then I don't think I was hallucinating."

"Well, from what I can tell, everything is alright with you." Ritsuko commented, putting down her handheld scanner and marking off something on her ever present clipboard.

"No mental contamination, no residue signals in neural pathways and, apart from a highened endorphine and noradrenalin levels, everything checks out ok. I have no idea why you'd hallucinate something like that."

"I was not hallucinating!" the young girl exclaimed, irritated, "I've never seen Ikari in a plugsuit, and I didn't know it's color before. I already guessed his right high, his estimate weight, his eye color, his complexion and his hair color. Now, I know it can't all be coincidence, so stop bullshitting me, Dr. Akagi." Misato, who was leaning onto a nearby terminal and smoking, scowled as well.

"Yeah, Rits. Out with it. No-one's buying."

The scientist sighted, shaking her head, and stood, stuffing her hands into the lab coat's pockets.

"Well, ok, but it's just a theory, so bear with me. Personally, I think it's rubbish, but it's the only explanation I've been able to come up with and the Commander doesn't like if I talk about it, so keep it to yourself." She answered, tiredly.

"When Shinji died, his brain cells deteriorated at an astounding rate, which shouldn't be possible, by the way. His brain died completely 2 seconds after his heart stopped, that's why we couldn't revive him. But, at the same time, the sensors showed his synch ratio spike to 370%. The theory is that the Eva somehow downloaded the contents of Shinji's brain into itself when this happened, creating a copy of his persona…"

"Try another one." Asuka interrupted firmly, "It it was just a copy, you'd have already flashed the Eva's organic brain, which you probably did. It didn't help, so it's gotta be something else."


"Reset. Don't change the topic."

Ritsuko looked slightly uncomfortable, apparently at odds with her inability to bullshit a 14-year old.

"Well, it wasn't just a copy. You see, when you break 350% synch ratio, you're exposed to a danger of your Ego borderline collapsing. You can't distinguish between yourself and the Eva any longer, so your body can dissolve in LCL into it's basic components, creating a sort of primordial soup, while your conciseness, your soul, if you will, would exist in the Eva's neural pathways. The body remained intact, so we all thought it was something else. But when the Eva started to move on it's own in it's cage, we developed a hypothesis that Shinji's soul became trapped in the Eva. It's completely ridiculous, of course, but we can't find a better explanation."

Misato shook her head, disgusted:

"Why haven't you tried to retrieve him, then? I mean, he's still in there."

"How would you have me do something like that, Misato?" Ritsuko arched an eyebrow, "his body is dead. He doesn't have anywhere else to go. I didn't even imagine he would be capable to realize himself, reduced to basic inborn reactions. We can't retrieve him. It's impossible."

"My word," Fuyutuki commented, studying the Section 2 report in his hands, "the second Child is rather protective of Shinji." Gendo steeped his fingers in front of him calmly, not bothering to answer such an inane statement, so the Vice-Commander continued.

"What will she do, I wonder, now that she found out what exactly she is piloting?"

"I have Dr. Akagi working on the possible retrival of the Third Child." Gendo finally deigned to speak, "Should she succeed, we will reveal a part of truth to the Second Child. The possible increase of her emotional stability will only aid us."

"Oh?" Kozo raised an eyebrow, "And, of course, it couldn't be that you just care for your son, could it?" Again, Gendo remained silent.

"She exhibits signs of disloyality towards you." The vice-commander finally intoned, studying the file once more. Unseen, the commander smirked behind his hands.

"She will remain loyal to the project E. She has nothing else." Fuyutsuki raised an eyebrow once more, but remained silent."