This time, a take on Asuka's point of view. A year before Shinji woke up. Unedited.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything
Souryuu Asuka Langley
Let's start from the beginning. The first thing I saw when I woke up was his face… and his hands were choking me! I moved my able hand and caress his cheek. And he still won't stop.
"I feel… sick…"
And he stopped. He fainted right on my lap, my sight gone blurry, and everything gone dark.
The next thing I saw when I woke up was my mother smiling. "Asuka. Guten morgen."
"Guten morgen, Mutter."
Mama? I heard myself spoke. But… I'm not sure my lips are moving. And that woman… she is my mother. Wait… What's going on? I'm looking through someone's eyes. No… wait… this someone is walking to the mirror… and I gasped. It's me! Or… me when I was 4.
Did I return to my childhood or something?
No wait. If that's so, how come I can still think the way I do, and this girl seem unbothered with whatever I'm thinking? So my present mind is separate from this body?
I turned around… and saw myself. A lot of me. "W…what the…"
"Relax. We're all you." A mean looking 'me' answered.
"Well… parts of your personality anyway, ahaha!" A cheery looking 'me' continued.
"Parts of my… personality?"
"Yeah. Every one of us." A gloomy looking one.
One of my eyes twitched. There are dozens of me. All ranging from a series of emotions as reflected in their faces, in a rather exaggerated tone to boot. From ones that I knew straight away; like one with schoolgirl crush; to ones that… well… I'm not even sure what kind of emotion some of those expressions convey. More importantly, some of these so-called-parts of my personality. I'm not even sure I had those traits.
"I'm temper." The Angry looking me introduce herself.
"I'm your infatuation." The schoolgirl crush me followed.
"I'm your cheerfulness."
"I'm your sadness."
I was a bit… overwhelmed.
"Never knew you had this much personality, did you?" Another voice called to me. I turned around and saw a small girl… me when I was still a little child. Other personality walks away. This one… I can't interpret. What is she? She smiled politely.
"Mutter! Mutter! I'm chosen! I am special! Mutter!"
I averted my attention for a second and looked towards the image of me when I was chosen as Eva-02 pilot. 'Oh no… this is… this is when…'
The little girl opened the door… only to see her mother hanging by the neck. I'm not quite sure I screamed that hard that day. Or maybe because I'm hearing from a third person perspective in some way, it was loud. I don't feel as burdened as before though. Maybe because I knew now that it was my mother inside 02.
And then, my life kinda like skipped to when I'm with my grandma. "Asuka, you're a strong girl. But it's okay to cry you know."
"No way, grandma. I had to take care of myself from now on. I have to look after myself. I can't rely on anyone. That's why I must not cry."
"But you did." I looked at the one who made that comment. The me with tears trickling on her eyes. Sadness. "You eventually cracked."
"Though you created us, from that point onward." Cheerfulness. Pride. Temper. I frowned at their expression. They deliberately made the expression to look like it was made up. Maybe that was the point. All my tough acts, all my behavior… they were just a front. A front to this.
Another skip and I was training for piloting in Eva-02. It was a simulation using datas of Angels appearing in Tokyo-3.
"I scored pretty high in this mock up." One of me spoke proudly, the Pride.
"Yeah right." I groaned. 'Real Angels were nothing like these stupid simulations…'
"Asuka, you will be stationed in Japan." Kaji reported my transfer. 'I' jumped in joy.
'If only I knew that would be my undoing, I probably would never go…' I sighed.
"But is it really your undoing?" The little me spoke again. Still with that polite smile.
And then, aboard the UN fleet that escorted 02…
"Well… I heard he took down an Angel on his first ride… without any training at all." Kaji told me for the first time the story of Shinji. The Child who pilot an Eva without training. I spent almost all my life to master every aspect there is to know about Eva… and this guy beat me to the beat.
"I thought I was special… there was someone else who seem to be more special than I." Another pair of me spoke. Envy and Jealousy.
"But I covered it up by saying Eva-01 is a test-type. Whereas 02 are battle purposes." Pride.
"And then, to show off, I decided to show Shinji my Eva." Arrogance and Insecurities talked together. "And then when an Angel attacks, I piloted the unit together with him on the helm."
"We won but…" another me sighed. She got the look… of a victor. Superiority.
"But then, well… I didn't do it alone." I back away from this one. It got the look of a loser. Inferiority. "It was slight. But I was born then."
I snapped. "WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING!? WHY AM I HERE? I KNOW WHAT HAD HAPPENED, SO WHY I HAVE TO SEE THIS!?"
"You know what had happened… but you haven't accepted it yet." The small me answered.
And then the image of the joint fight with Shinji against that twin Angel.
"Only slight. But I begin to respect Shinji's skill then." Acceptance. "And, deep down inside, I kinda enjoy the time I spent training with Shinji."
I gaped and red mark colored my cheek. "I…!"
"Though it is an important point to note that at this point of the time, there's also a tint of liking."
"NANNIII!?" Now my face is redder of anger than embarrassed. "JUST IN WHAT WORLD WOULD I TAKE A LIKING IN THAT STUPID SHINJI!?"
"Well… I wouldn't be born that day if you didn't." Affection smiled sheepishly.
"But as always, I had to get in the way." Pride answered again. "I got in the way on a lot of everyone."
"Pride." The small me, it seem the one in charge of all this, answered. "Pride always got in the way. You got too much pride for your own good, that you never realized some things. Like this particular moment here…"
I looked at the next image and my eyes widened. It was me, KISSING that IDIOT SHINJI!?
"GYAAAAAAAAAAAA!! GYAA! GYAAA!! DON'T LOOK! DON'T LOOOOK!!!"
"Teehee… but we've seen it." The small me chortled. "All of us did. We are all you."
I looked at all of them. Right… they're all parts of my emotions. My feelings. Even the suppressed ones.
"Indeed… this thing between you and Shinji-kun… are quite complicated."
"There's me." Love raised her hand.
"And me." Hate followed.
The little me looked at me. I hate that look. "Nanni?" She asked ever so innocently.
I hate her altogether! "I SAID ENOUGH!!"
And with that, the images of my life suddenly went berserk and chaotic. "WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO!? ELICIT SOME GUILT!? SOME SELF REMORSE!? REGRET!? INFERIORITY TO THAT BAKA SHINJI!? WHAT!? S… SO THAT I KISS AND MAKE UP WITH EVERYONE!? WHAT DO YOU WANT!? WHY ARE WE HAVING ALL THIS!? ANSWER ME!!"
I heaved and panted. I never knew I can scream that loud.
The little-me looked at me. Her smile disappeared for moment. But then her smile back again. God help me… I want to tear that smiling lips off. "I can understand… that I am your least favorite emotion."
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGHH!!" I lunged at her and had both of my hands on her little neck. I grasped as hard as I could, choking her. She still passive, no sign of resisting at all.
"I feel sick." She answered.
And then I paused. A giant image at my back suddenly showed the image when that baka Shinji choked me. I don't need to see it to know that my position mirrored his perfectly.
And then I saw water flowing on her eyes. Tear? No. Another drip fell on her cheek. Then I realized: It was my tear. I was crying.
"…those words… were the first honest word you said to him."
"…what do you…?"
"…ask yourself Asuka… did you ever…for once… tell him how you TRULY feel… without having your pride get in the way?"
Everyone's gone. Only me and her left.
"…you have to go now."
"You can't stay here forever."
And then everything suddenly starts skewing.
"Don't worry. I'm always here. But you cannot stay like this." Her little hand rubbed mine softly. "You have to wake up. But don't worry. I'm always here. We're always here."
She doesn't make any sense… none of this makes sense… and then the nothingness that was the floor turned into real concrete floor. And that little me turned… Into her.
"Second. Will you please let go of my neck?"
But something's different with her. Her hair's longer, and she seem…all grown up. And then I noticed her clothing. It resembled the cloth worn by the commander… Baka Shinji's father. Though more light colored.
"Second." She repeated.
And then as I let go of the grip slightly, and I became more aware of my surroundings. The floor is somewhat dirty and there's quite some dirt and blood smearing them. I looked around and noticed this is a hospital ward. IV, pulse detector, the lot… And then I looked at my arms. And then I noticed: first, my right arm bandaged. And I can't see a damn thing through my left eye. And then I also notice several people in soldier's attire and carrying guns came rushing in, barrels pointed at me.
I looked down.
"Second. You're heavy." Her red eyes met my azure ones.
Still with that monotone emotionless sentences. I slowly got up, but I found my leg fails me… and so does my whole body… how in the world did I managed to strangle her? Ayanami waved her hand. The soldiers put down their guns. Whoa… she got some authority here…
"W…r G..rl? W… Where… w…fwhat?" I was trying to say Wondergirl, but my lips felt like they were made of lead.
"You've been in a coma and vegetable, for two years since the third impact."
"To a… haf… c…a what…"
"Rest. Everything will be explained."
I don't get all this… and I don't think I'm gonna like this…
"Second has woke up."
"Second… ah, Asuka Souryuu Langley… yes?" Fuyutsuki was reading a report from Rei.
"You sound a bit… disappointed?"
"No, I'm not."
The old general chuckled. He looked around, they're alone in the room. "Off the record? When you're at my age, you pick things up."
"Well… maybe you're juts upset it's not Shinji?"
"Come now girl. I know what you are now. You're not that Rei. Not those clones… or whatever. You are you. You, are just Rei. Just… human. Try to lighten up a little."
"…can I go now?"
Fuyutsuki sighed. "Right. Have she been debriefed of our current predicament?"
"Remembering her possible reaction, I can only send one person."
It's been a while since they've finished… what was it…? Oh yeah… putting me back in shape. Yet I still can't see through my left eye, and apparently I still can't feel my right arm. I looked around with only one eye. Kinda weird. It was as if a part of my sight were blackened out. And I couldn't move my right arm. What the hell is going on? I looked at the bandaged right arm… and a curiosity as well as annoyance kicked in. I slowly began tearing through the thick bandages. But as layers upon layers of bandages torn away… the feeling suddenly replaced by dread. Because the bandages grow thinner and thinner, and at this rate, it seems that there are more bandages than my own arm. And then… when I finally removed the final layer of the bandage… I stared…
I swore… I could've vomited.
And then another dread suddenly consumed my mind. I looked for a mirror and there I saw my face, bandaged. Impatiently I tore through those damn bandages over my eye. And then… when finally the last bandage is removed…
Where there were supposed to be an eye, all I saw was a gaping hole and part of the skull socket. I screamed. "!!!"
And the door slid open, and a worried Misato came rushing in. "Asuka?" She stopped short when she looked at me, noticing that I have removed most of my bandages. And she understood straight away the reason for my outburst.
"M… Misato… W… What the fuck… happened to my…"
"Why don't you first sit down and we'll explain everything."
And then she told me a hell lot of things: Starting with the part where she told me how that baka Shinji rejected instrumentality and saved the world… somewhat. Then came the Invasion. The Fallens. The creation of Fallen Hunter squad with that Wondergirl Rei as the leader. And then construction of Tokyo 4 to fight off the Fallen War. Of how REi bought the survival of the EX Nerv members using her Nero-Angellion project. Etc, etc.
I'm not sure I enjoyed the part when Misato told me that whiny Shinji saved the world. Something inside me suddenly boils in fury. "What's the big idea here? Did that guy saved the world or condemn it?"
"I'm not sure what happened either. Maybe both."
"Heh… not much of a mr. Hero eh?"
Misato seem a bit displeasured by my attitude. Like I care. "Do you have a problem?"
"No… but you haven't answered my question either. How did I end with… what's left of it for an arm…and an empty socket for an eye?"
"Well, the last time you have them, you fought against 9 Mass Production Evas. And with the amount of damage they inflicted on unit 02, and what's with your synchro rate through the roof, the feedback is… hazardous."
"…and now we're still at war hmm?"
Misato tried to comfort me. "Look. Technology had advanced. Remember Touji? He lost his ability to walk after that accident with 03. He use cybernetic enhancement to walk again. I used cybernetic enhancement to heal myself. We can do the same to you."
"What makes you think I want that mechanical stuff in me?"
"Well… it's stopgap. We can make it as human as possible… if you want to."
"Then why didn't you?"
"Just don't feel like it. Plus… human like skin need a lot work and maintenance. Given our current predicament… and my line of work, fixing my skin whenever it's torn is a luxury. And I don't have the time for that."
"You call it… the Fallen?"
"Well… yes. You know the story of… Angels fallen from grace became devils? I don't know who use the term on those creatures first but, given their nature, it seems appropriate."
"So. First Angels. Now Devils. Very original." I didn't hide the sarcastic tone. "So you're telling me our fight with the Angels…"
"No. I like your choice of words. Our battle with the Angels was just a 'fight'. But with these daemons… it's like… all out war." She rummaged her jacket and produced a disk. The disk showed the map of the whole world. The countries were divided into blue, yellow and red areas. As I see it, as expected, very few are blue. Yellow holds the majority. And there's quite a few of red in there. "Blue represents areas where people still live. They are fortresses so tightly defended, Daemons never managed to get through… so far. Yellow is the area of conflict. Daemons are quite active in these parts and so conflict and skirmishes are abound. Either we turn it to blue areas first… or they turned it into red zones…which are pretty much a hellhole. America barely stand. Europe turned into a wasteland… There are no longer cities. Only fortresses, like Tokyo 4."
"What do they want? The Angels want that big angel we kept on the basement. This time, what those… daemons… want?"
"We don't know. But so far, their appearance… always caused total annihilation. For now, it's safe to assume that whatever they want it involve killing us all."
"What's the point of fighting all those Angels then?"
"Believe me, every EX-NERV member asked that same question in their heads when those Fallens arrived." She stood up and took a walk. "Everything we've sacrificed… all the blood and sweat we've shed. It was as if all had been for nothing."
"Like God spat in our faces… huh."
"These days… I'm not even sure God is on our side."
"Whatever." I'm not about to get all theological about this. Angels. Fallens. Whatever.
"So what are you going to do now?"
Finally. The fucking one million Euro question. "…I want out."
"I had enough. You told me there are these blue zones. Then put me there. Whatever this war you had with these… devils… fallen angels… whatever… I don't want any part of it."
She was clearly didn't expect a response like this from me. That is only understandable, remembering how I acted back in the day. "M… May I enquire… why?"
To answer her, I lifted my ravaged arm pointing at the socket that was my eye. "Plus… what do I gain from it? Nothing. I've had enough, Misato-san. I've lost mother… I nearly lost my sanity… it's… enough."
Misato nodded understandingly. "I'm not going to convince you. You're the second EX-EVA pilot that woke up. And… we had hoped that we can get some help… but then again it is your choice."
"Second? Who's the first? Wondergirl?"
"Rei? No. Rei never fell into coma. In fact she's the one to gather the remnants of NERV back together. She's different. Different with all the Reis you might have known her."
"She looks the same to me."
"Well… she's different. You'll see. Anyway, the first pilot to wake up was Touji."
"Touji… as in the fourth children?"
"What about that Baka Shinji? Did he fell into coma too?"
"Yes… and worse. Would you like to-"
"No." I frowned.
"I haven't finished my…"
"I'm not seeing him. No… I don't want to see him." My tone was flat and straight. After that… personality split experience… I'm not sure I want to see him.
Misato tried to retort my statement… but apparently she too doesn't know what to say. Thus she left me alone to my thoughts and walk out of the room. I balled in. I've had enough of this Evangelion shit… of NERV, of Angels, or daemons whatever… most of all… she had enough with one Ikari Shinji.
"How is it?"
"As expected. She didn't take it pretty well." Misato sighed.
"You know I heard in Munich they've been developing bio prosthethics. I think we can heal her arms and eyes in near future. Give it a couple of years…"
"It's not the matter of physical pain she's suffering." The former-major-now-vice-commander sighed. "Compared to her physical injuries, Asuka suffered most mental damage during the first encounters." Misato remembered particularly when Asuka was ravaged mentally by Arael.
Ibuki frowned. "No matter how good medical knowledge goes, that's one injury that cannot be healed."
I lay down on my bed, restless. Is this really what I want?
"No it's not."
Oh no. Not again. "You know, this is a really sick joke." I rose up angrily and saw her sitting innocently on the floor, her leg bent backward. "If you still going to appear in my hallucination, don't gorge my arm and my eye!"
"But this is not a hallucination. This is reality. You know that." The 4 year old me answered ever so solemnly.
"You…! If this is reality then disappear already!"
"Teheehee…" She chuckled. "Just because I appeared for your eyes only, what makes you think I'm not real?"
"As you know, I'm a figment of your personality." Her smile dimmed somewhat. "And I'm well aware that I'm your least favorite personality."
"Who are you?"
She only smiled. Just then, there's a few knocks on the door and she disappeared before answering my question. Opening the door was the second person I wouldn't want to meet.
"Who are you talking to, Second?"
"None of your damn business, Wondergirl."
She answered my sarcasm with her usual silence. Then she followed. "I've heard the report from Misato. We will arrange you to be transferred to Blue Zone in Munich as soon as possible. Probably this evening."
She eyed me with those calm red eyes of hers. I never liked her empty gaze. And now it felt like she's staring at me like I'm some sort of wonder. And it's annoying, naturally. "What are you looking at?"
She sighed and walked towards a console. She pressed a couple of buttons and at the corner of my remaining eye I saw the security camera gone down. Off the record conversation huh? "Quite frankly… I was a bit surprised when Misato-san told me that you refused to cooperate."
"What do you expect?"
"…based on the memories of the Rei inside me, Souryuu Asuka Langley… or Asuka Shikinami, per your paternal lineage, was a far more combative person than this."
My eye twitched at this comment. Was that sarcasm?
She continued on and took a seat. "I'm not going to try to convince you to fight for us. You've lost quite enough already as your visage has done a grand job explaining that."
"Wow… I'm surprised. Misato did tell me that you're different than the Wondergirl that I remembered. You're more talkative for starters." I smirked.
"Do you like me better when I'm not talking?"
I can feel my grin grew bigger. "Nah. It's interesting. So which Rei are you? The second one? Third one? The Thousandth?"
"None of those." She replied calmly. "I'm… a merging of all personality called Rei. I have all their memories, feelings, knowledge. Everything."
"I see. Ha! How convenient!" This time, I didn't even try to hide the blatant sarcasm.
The Wondergirl just sit there, still with that god-damn stone face. And then she uttered a sentence that really tested my patience. "Are you sure you don't want to see him?"
"See who?" I dumbly asked. Idiot. You know who she meant!
"Ikari-kun." She added. "He's still vegetable, and in coma-"
"And what do you want me to do? Kiss him so he'll wake up? This ain't Snowwhite and it's supposed to be the reverse."
She didn't reply again and another period of silence followed. But I couldn't stand the silence and decided to break it. "What else do you want?"
"Who… were you talking to?"
"Like I said, none of your damn business!" I half screamed.
She nodded in an air of finality, reset the camera and exit the room, without a word. I took a plate and throw it to the door where her back disappeared to. God, she always ticks me off one way or another. That much didn't change, no matter how many years had passed.
"What… was that all about?" Misato was waiting just next to the door.
"…" Rei didn't answer.
"Wait… let me guess… you were expecting that you can use her to wake up Ikari-kun?" Misato teased.
The Blue haired commander turned away. "When will the next Grandliner arrive from Munich?"
"This evening. At 5 PM. It will then leave at 6 PM after we unload. I've made arrangements and she will be on that train, as per her request." Misato replied.
"Okay." She sighed and then walked away. "By the way, please deal with all the paperwork concerning her transfer and everything there is to do with her accommodation, medical permit, and her compensation. I want it in my desk in 15 minutes."
"1…15 minutes to do all that? O…Oi! Ah! Nice joke, Commander Ayanami." Misato gulped. That's a hell lot of paperwork.
"If I don't have that report in my desk in 15 minutes, I'll cut your salary." Rei finalized with a stare and then left. Misato incredulously look at the back of her commander, her jaw open aghast, and then self punishes herself by banging her head to the wall 15 times straight. 'Baka Misato! Know some limit when teasing your superior!'
An hour later…
Around 3:00 PM…
I am so sick of these people telling what to do. Stay in your room. Don't move too much. Shut the fuck up! This is what's left of my body, I knew about it better than most. They even prepared a crutch for me. Yeah right. I got back on my feet, but all the sudden, I felt my body tilted to the left side. "Eh?" Then I realized, since my other arm was reduced to such state, my whole body was out of balance. Grudgingly I took the crutch and used to support myself up. Grumbling and muttering to myself, I was surprised just how much I have to struggle just to reach the door. But midway, I slipped and fell forward.
The door slide open just at that exact moment, leaving my fall unimpeded straight to the concrete floor. "Ouch!" Don't joke with me! I held the crutch more firmly and push my body up. And slowly, but with great trouble and discomfort on my part, I start crawling away. Midway, I noticed something dripping on the floor. I looked at it and suddenly I realized that my hand is sweaty and slippery. 'Sweat? I'm barely a few meters away from my own damn room!' When did I become so weak? And just then the image of Arael ravaging my mind flashed before me. I gasped and shook my head. I am Asuka Souryu Langley! Pilot (well former) of Unit 02! I'm not gonna fall because if this!
"That's the spirit!"
I blinked and turn my head up and to see her standing by the window.
"Ganbarre! Asuka!" She was cheering me on.
I gritted my teeth. "You again…"
"Ganbarre! Asuka! Ganbarre! Asuka! Ganbarre!" She kept urging me on, her pigtails swing around as her chant rhythms with her childish motion.
Somehow I managed to get close enough to the full blown window. She already took some distance away from me. "You…"
She chortled innocently. "I'm not a blabber mouth all the time you know? And though pride isn't exactly my ally, she has her uses."
I let a scoff escape my nostrils. Indeed, the Pride of a person that is Souryu Asuka Langley did propel me this far. When I think about it, all this time, my pride has been the only thing that propel me. Piloting 02, fighting Angels… I ignored her and looked through the window. My eyes widened slightly. Whoa… how much taxpayer's money they've sucked out to create a fortress this big? And then there's this Nero Angellion I've heard so much about. Sounds like another Evangelion'esque weapon.
"It's ugly isn't it?" I looked at her. For the first time, her solemn smile disappeared. Replacing it were a sad look and disgust. "It smells of gunpowder and steel. Kinda remind you of Germany, did it not?"
For some reason, I don't feel like responding her comment with sarcasm. Well, she did cheer me on. That and at this rate, I'll be running out of it. "We ARE in a Military Fortress. And I did grow up near one."
"But you never like it there, did you not?"
I didn't answer.
I turned and saw not the 4 year old me, but Aida Kensuke. The war Otaku, and Shinji's friend. He was wearing a soldier's outfit. "You're… Aida Kensuke… right?"
"Kensuke's just fine." He grinned widely. "You know, you shouldn't move so much."
"Who the hell do you think I am? This much is okay."
"Hmmm?" He looked at me skeptically and pulled out a hankie. "Your sweat says otherwise."
I grab it off his hand and swept my sweat away. "What are you doing here?"
"Iyah. I was on my way from a vending machine over there and grab something to bite." He showed some chocoloate bars, one of them bitten. "Want some?"
"Your loss." He gobbled the remaining chocolate with one gulp. "Days like this, you gotta eat up when you got the chance."
"Misato-san had already briefed you right? One time they came at us with number so numerous, Tokyo-4 was isolated for a week, and food became scarce. Of course back then the Nero Angellion haven't been completed yet."
"Nero… Angellion…" Nero… Italian for black. Angellion… Angel… Black Angel? What's with the naming?
"Touji pilot the first Nero Angellion, the Bane. And Rei pilot the Rook. I heard they're constructing two more units. One was being built here… I think it's called the Spear… the other one's being developed somewhere in Europe and nearing completion… I don't know the exact details, but they say that one packs some serious case of overkill firepower-"
"I'm not fighting."
"I'm not piloting anymore." I showed him my ravaged right arm and my gouged out left eye. "I quit. I've had enough of this."
He looked at me as if questioning my sanity. "B… But… No-WAY! Come on. Rei and her Rook is the greatest, but… lately even she sometimes got beat up more than once!"
"What can I do? I've done enough…lost enough…"
"Asuka-chan, wanna come with me for a moment?"
First he brought me to an elevator and then we went like… first around 1-2000 feet underground. Throughout the journey the see through elevator allowed me to get a good look on what's around. The first thing I saw was a hall filled with rows and rows of machinery and arsenal-including Tanks, Airplanes, Chopters, etc. "As you can see this is the armory." His tone was almost robotic. During the trip, I get the chance to get a better look at his visage. I saw a few scars and small bruises in his feature. And he's wearing a military hat, but there's no doubt he had shaved his hair. Did he get himself into a fight or… wait… that's not a toygun or some real size model resin kit he's shouldering on his back right now. That's a genuine M-16 battle rifle. He couldn't have… "Kensuke… you're… drafted to the army?"
He answered with a sad painful smile. "Sort of. Out of need."
When we've reached 8,000 feet I saw something that made my mouth opened aghast. A giant skeletal thingamajig is being stored there in a crucified position. Countless bloody, fleshy black muscle strands are being sown using massive robotic arms to cover its bones-which seem to have some cybernetic implant being surgically grafted into them. Parts of the creature were being covered in armor. Its head was bandaged allover. But blood profusely dripping from it. And it doesn't look like a humanoid head. And it was huge! Well, Evas were huge too.
"That's the Spear. As you can see, it's still under construction."
That level disappeared after 10000 feet. Around 11000 feet, Kensuke continued his explanation. "On 11-13,000 feet is Angellion maintenance 'warehouse'. 14,000 to 15,000 is Angellion Graveyard and research center. Prototypes that never make it are being used to further develop Angellion related tech. 17-19,000 feet… no idea. Top Secret. Only a couple of higher ups can get there. What I want to show you… is on 20,000 feet below the surface.
As he said it, the elevator did stop at 20,000 feet.
"Rei and everyone agreed. This must be at the most bottom level, the level that must be protected at all cost."
When the door opened, my eye widened. Rows upon rows of small white tombstones can be seen erected on a large patch of green grass. It almost looked like a pin cushion. The ceiling were metallic and constantly emit light. At a distance, I saw something that looked like a huge creature… or something.
"Yes." Kensuke removed his hat to respect the dead, revealing his shaved hair, military style. "…before the Angellion was there… Before Rei perfected her defensive grid system… we often mount a stubborn but costly resistance. We had casualties, hundreds… every week… thousands every month."
"But we don't bury the dead. These are all just memorials. Monuments to remember them. The body, we destroyed them, recycled them to organic material for food and sustenance for others."
Just then, we saw a couple of people walking towards us.
"Ah, Captain Aida!" One of the soldiers saluted him. Kensuke saluted back.
Captain Aida? Wow… he really traded it up.
"Here to visit Sever again, Captain?"
"No. Just showing my friend here something. Were you visiting your little brother again, Corporal Long? What did you tell him?"
"I tell him… he'll have to wait up there a little longer. And to keep training using those toy arrow I gave him." The soldier smiled sadly. Kensuke nodded.
"Don't worry. He'll have plenty of time to prepare. Though when he meet you again, you're probably gonna freak him out."
"Why is that, Captain?"
"Because you're gonna live so long, when he met you, you'll be a wrinkled scary old man!"
The soldiers chuckled and Kensuke also grinned. The soldiers saluted again and then left. I looked at that man board the elevator and departed.
"That man's is Corporal Long Xi Liang. A Chinese and he serve under me. His brother, Long Xi Fei was only 6 around half a year ago. Today was his 7th birthday – post mortem." Kensuke looked at the large figure entombed at the center of the Graveyard. That's when I realized the features of the giant at the center. It looked like an Eva… or at least… it used to look like one… It was ravaged and you can see various bite marks on it.
"…what was that?" I asked.
"That was my Angellion. Unit-02. The Sever. It was built in tandem with the Bane as twin testype. Though… it was… well, less fortunate."
I looked at him.
"A year back, Touji just woke up, and Angellion was still in its development state. You can expect a lot of bugs and errors in the way, even using Rei's expanded knowledge." He began his story. "From what I know, the Bane and the Sever were still prototypes built using different baselines. The idea is to see which one is better and then we'll continue and expand from there. During our first combat, the Daemons quickly overwhelmed regular troopers. We both, somehow, managed to activate the two. At first we were winning. But something… went wrong with the Bane. It shut off in mid combat. I was the only one left. I was… desperate." Kensuke closed his eyes, as if remembering a sad memory.
I kept listening.
"There was only one fully operational Angellion, but there were countless of them Legions and Daemons. They almost look like they cover the horizon. I had to protect the Bane and the citizen, but there was only so much one unit can do. Private Liang's little brother was just one of many I failed to save. And then… Sever and I went berserk. Thanks to that, we managed to somehow avoid total annihilation and beat back the Daemons… but that is after they cannibalize Sever half to hell. Still, Sever is the first Angellion, and I quote, "the First Nero-Angellion to achieve a decisive victory over the Daemons." This one little achievement earned Sever a place among the dead here as a monument. Later research into what remained of Sever also allowed the flaws within the Bane and the subsequent series to be perfected."
I kept staring at him… and then I noticed something. Something is… blinking and pulsing underneath Kensuke's cheek. "…Kensuke… you…"
He turned around and looked at me. He showed me his arm and faintly I can see cybernetic pulsing coursing underneath not just his arm… but the entirety of his lower body starting from his lower jaw down. I swallowed a gulp.
"After that of course, the Angellion start to fare better. Much better. Victory report starts appearing wherever an Angellion is positioned. But people still die. As of this moment, for all I know there's only three fully operational Angellion in this entire world: The Rook, The Bane, and-"
"Captain Aida, please report to the Hangar bay immediately." A female voice blared from the intercom.
Kensuke paused and then start walking back. "Do you want me to escort you back to your room?"
"I can go by myself thank you very much."
He mouthed a silent "Ok" and raised his hands. But before he left, he whispered his last words to my ears: "How many more must die?"
And then he left through the elevator, leaving me to my thoughts. That Kensuke… he's trying to inspire sympathy from me. Unbelievably it worked quite well. But even when my brain tells me to sympathize… even when my heart knew that this is something worth fighting for… why is it that my soul can't feel as passionate in this matter?
"You're just confused right now… and your pride took quite a beating." My 4 year old self spoke again. She was praying on one of the graves there.
"What do you know?"
"Kensuke's story. Doesn't it remind you of a similar situation?"
I jerked and stared at her. Hate piercing through my widened eye into hers. "DON'T! I… Don't want to…remember that…" Too late, the memory when those 9 white monsters start feasting upon unit 02… upon me… raping my soul…
"Like I said. Your pride took quite a beating." She finished her prayer and look at the monument that was Kensuke's Angellion. "Perhaps it is fate that his Angellion is also a unit-02, don't you think?"
I grinded my teeth in anger and marched upon her, intent on doing her harm. But in my anger I slipped and fell, face first. And when my face turned towards her again, she's gone. I looked at the ground. I used an empty nameless tombstone to help me get up. It was well polished and I can see a perfect reflection of my own face. When I saw it, suddenly I felt that the bandage that covered my right inexistent eye is the only thing worth looking at in my face. Like a white flower stuck on the ugliest thing on earth.
When did I… become this disgusting? And with that in mind, before I knew it, I was crying. Crying as hard as my throat allowed me to.
My pride… the thing that made me Souryuu Asuka Langley… is gone.
Shigeru was playing an air guitar, Hyuuga was reading something on the computer and Ibuki was simply reading an old magazine. All in all, everyone was bored out of their skull. Yes, Asuka did wake up. But after the little accident of her temper tantrum throwout, no one dared to get close within a mile from the red head.
Granger looked at the trio of the EX Nerv crew and sighed. "I swear, I start to think you three have too much time."
"Well… we're practically had nothing to do until another attack."
"You guys can train. To the shooting range, or heavy lifting or something… You slack off, let your guard down and the Fallen will get your ass you in a heartbeat!"
The trio looked at the old general and then to each other. "The last time an angel came here, we didn't even get the chance to grab a gun while he can level a few city blocks with a stare."
"…" Granger turned to Misato who, much to his ire, was hip deep in a pile of paperwork. "Say something. You're their superior for Christ sake!"
"DON'T TALK TO ME RIGHT NOW! I've just lost a quarter of this month's payment, and now another quarter IS IN JEOPARDY!!!" She was quite hysterical. Granger couldn't say anything and raised his arms.
It was then that the alarm chooses to blare up. Upon hearing the alarm, the bored expression and the hysterical hysteria of the Trio and the Sub-Commander, respectively, disappeared. The trio grabbed their headphones and gets to work. "They're coming from the west side."
"Scramble the order!" Granger roared.
At the armory…
Kensuke grabbed another M16 and roared. "COME ON YOU JARHEADS, STOP BEING MONKEYS AND BE A MAN!"
"YEAAAHH!!" The soldiers roared as they went outside. Most of them wearing a heavy and protective powersuit. Only Kensuke didn't wear anything but standard Kevlar jacket and a couple of ammunitions and det-packs.
I was wondering what on earth happened as I was stuck on the elevator when the computerized female AI voice informed me.
"Heavy Fallen activity detected. Base power will now be diverted from unnecessary systems to defensive power grid."
"Nanni? But I'm stuck here! Divert power to the elevator even just for a second will you?"
"Unable to comply. Power diversion during a skirmish requires permission of the Commander or Sub-Commander."
"And who are they?"
"Commander Rei Ayanami and Sub Commander Misato Katsuragi."
A lightning just fell off my head. WHAT THE FUCK!? That Kensuke turned into Captain, that I can understand… but that WONDERGIRL turned into a COMMANDER of an ENTIRE BASE!? Oh hell. Yes. The world really IS doomed.
"OPEN THE DAMN DOOR! I WANNA GET OUT!!" I roared out my frustration.
"Unable to comply. Power diversion during a skirmish requires permission-"
"Blablablayaddayaddayadda. Okay. That's it!" It was… strange. With just one hand I start opening casings, unplug cables and start rewiring things. Before long, I've turned a small elevator servo into a portable touchscreen all in one mini PC. "Please do not temper with this unit's hardware. Physical temperance may cause irreparable damage to the system. Please do-111011010101110101010101-" The AI voice went static. My fingers twirling as it swiftly moved from one icon to another, rewriting the entire coding system for the elevator system. "First rewrite all the binary codes back to zero… and then rewrite everything from scratch. Creating a new separated AI using this one as the base and then the system. Ah! Wait a minute. While I'm at it, I can just hack into the central command, probably left a joke note or E-bomb or something… wait a damn minute. How did I know all this stuff all the sudden?
I thought of it for 5 seconds, and then I came to the conclusion. "Nah. I'll think about it later. Now… let's get working shall we?"
The soldiers on the walls of the Tokyo-4 Fortress gulped as 5 Red Crosses appeared and pour down hordes upon hordes of Legions which seemingly covered the whole battlefield like a black ocean. The daemons, with their Eva-like appearance and sizes along with their red umbilical cables stuck out among the flock. The area around Tokyo 4 distorted, a sign that the AT field has been activated.
The black wave collided with the invisible wall. The small but numerous Legions enacted their relatively weak AT field and try to push their way through the Fortress' Field. While the Daemons waited outside the barrier, seemingly waiting for their lesser variant to unleash as much havoc as they can until it's their turn. However, some began battering the field with a series of beam attacks which exploded in a reversed cross explosion. The AT field blocked the powerful attacks, but unable to fully block the pinprick intrusion made by the abundant Legions. The combination of the two see that at most 3 out of 5 Legions were pulverized midflight as their AT field were destroyed. The rest managed to somehow force their way in, but their AT field were already corroded.
Kensuke moved to the position and roared the order. "FIRE!"
In unison, every gun and launchers in that base roared. The mobile Infantry on the ground target the smaller Legions while the turrets concentrate on the larger Daemon. Three Positron cannons began to hum, gathering energy. The Legions who managed to get in were swooped by the merciless barrage from the infantry. Some who were fast enough zoomed past the hailstorm of bullets and missiles and went towards the Positron Cannon, sensing it as a threat. Some of the soldiers quickly redirect their fire to the skies, and managed to take down a few, but some managed to slip through. The automated AA battery around the Positron Cannon activated and began barraging incoming threat. Tag that with a couple of missile batteries, the Legion were kept away from the main cannon. 10 seconds later, the Positron Cannons had finished charging and fired in concert. The blast rip went through the Fortress AT field and headed straight to three Daemons. The Daemons activated their significantly stronger AT field. There's a moment of struggle between the Positron Blast and the AT field, but the blast finally went through, albeit slightly bent. Two Daemons ended up with only a blown off arm and the other lost a leg.
At the command center, Shigeru growled. "What the hell… they've figured out a way to tackle Positron Cannon already?"
"They are a learning creature." Rei's voice blared through the intercom. "Have the Positron Cannon at the west wall concentrate on one Daemon at a time. They can barely bend one blast. Let's see how they fare against three at a time."
"Right you are, ma'am. Tower! Concentrate on one Daemon at a time!"
In the hangar…
Rei, wearing a darker colored plug suit, looked at the situation outside with her palmtop. Given the situation, Rook is needed. "Sub Commander, get ready the launcher at gate 51, I'm going in with the Rook."
"Yes ma'am… wait… wh… what? Ibuki, are you sure?"
There's a faint voice coming from unmistakably panicking Ibuki.
"What's the matter, Sub Commander Katsuragi?"
"…Ibuki just reported. There's an unidentified intruder hacking through our system on Lv. 9, sec 43."
Rei's eyes widened knowing what's in there. She immediately turned to the soldiers and spoke quite loudly (unnaturally loud for her quiet disposition). "You two come with me right now! And give me your side arm."
"Yes Ma'am." Sensing the urgency in their commander's unnaturally loud tone, they readied their weapon and handed one handgun to Rei before following her to the elevator.
At the command center, Misato received a call from Kensuke on the field.
"Misato-san! It works! The combined Positron cannon just punch through their damn AT field like glass… But the MI can't wait for the Positron Cannon to charge and take them on one by one! Where's the Rook?"
"We got some problem here on our own. There's an intruder inside the base, and Ayanami's rooting it out."
"Unimportant. Just hold out your ground as long as you can okay?"
"DAMN!" A loud explosion can be heard as the communication went out.
Granger frowned. "What's so important in that level that even the Commander herself had to be there?"
"The most important part of this fortress; so important that only Rei and I have access to go there. It houses several top secret materials, but that's not the problem here. That level houses the control system for the AT field of Tokyo 4 AND the mainframe for the New Ark. Somebody took out that place and…"
"Good God." Granger gulped.
Outside, slowly but sure, the Legion began to get close to the Wall, using the carcasses of their dead as a makeshift cover for the Infantry's barrage. One flying Legion managed to dodge all the bullets shot by an Infantry and already landed right in front of his face. At close range, the creature looked like a squid with countless eyes and mouths, but the only face it has are the black eyeless mask. Myriad arms and claws appeared from its mouths and ready to tear him apart. The soldiers grouped together and gang up on this one Legion but it had managed to re-enact its AT field again. And though the bullets began to corrode the field, it was not deteriorating fast enough.
"N… NOOO!" the soldier was about to be flayed alive when something like a whip slither around the Legion, cut through its AT field and slice him apart. The soldiers turned to see Kensuke just withdrew a hot whip-like weapon back to his cybernetic arm.
"Come on! GET BACK ON YOUR KNEES SOLDIER!"
As it happened, the three Positron Cannon had finished charging and aimed their cannon at another Daemon waiting outside the AT field. The three Cannons fired and their beam converged into a significantly larger blast. The stream of energy went through another Daemon's AT field and it barely able to dodge the attack.
"Okay… I'm the master, you're my loyal servant. Capish?"
"Crystal clear." A far less mechanical computerized voice responded.
"What's your name?"
"I'm SIERRA: A Stupendously Intelligent and Extensive Remodel of a Retarded AI." A barely recognizable woman's face appeared on my make-shift mini PC screen as the Avatar for the new AI, SIERRA which I (and I still can't believe I can do it) made on the spot with a bunch of scraps and a servo box.
"Good. Now hack the Prime central power and reroute some electricity to move this damn lift." My Mini-PC are connected to the Lift's servo system, connecting the PC and my AI to the Base's central command.
"I got you. But this base does not have enough power to bring this elevator all the way to surface. Two locations in particular, drain the most power from this base besides its other more vital functions like Air Conditioner, Lights, and etc, etc. Given the current situation and danger level, they CANNOT be compromised."
"I'll show you. Accessing external camera. Stand by for live feed. Sorry if the image will be a little bit blurry." SIERRA showed me live feed videos and I gulped. At the outside, the infantry were fighting a desperate fight against what seem to be an endless horde of black monstrosity. Aided by the turrets and most importantly the Positron Cannon, they managed to hold out somewhat. But given the way things are… it looks bad. Worse than I imagined, far worse than what Kensuke and Misato told me. "The most power is being drained by these three Positron Cannons and its defenses. At the present, they are instrumental in taking out the larger class of the Fallens, and thus they cannot be compromised."
"Point taken. What's the second place that drains most power?"
"The second place is right here. On the level in which you're stuck right now. According to the blue print of this place, this is a top secret level that can only be accessed by two person: Commander Ayanami and Sub Commander Katsuragi. It doesn't really make sense on how and what, but from what I see; this level generates a massive energy field which protected this fortress from incoming external attack. Something you would call as AT field." SIERRA showed me a blue print of the elevator which showed the level I'm currently in. Kensuke told me about this level. Even he, a Captain, doesn't know what's in there.
"AT field. So…we cannot take the power even for just five minutes, can we?"
"You do, and this battle will turn into a massacre in less than five minutes."
"But I can't be stuck in here forever. SIERRA, can you at least open this door?"
The AI sighed and then, "…it's done." Just as SIERRA finished speaking, the elevator door slid open. Almost impatiently, I unplug all the wires connecting the mini PC to the server and walk out of that suffocating elevator. I looked around, looking for another spot to jack in and found one next to a door. I jacked SIERRA back in.
"SIERRA, open this door."
"Are you sure about this, Mistress? Getting you out of that elevator is one thing but this is a very restricted area. This is a shoot-on-sight facility for unauthorized entry. You are the unauthorized entrée, you get in there; everyone will be well within their rights to shoot you and leave you carcass to rot. You need about a DOZEN permits for a civilian to-"
"You're quite a mouthful aren't you? Well I did create you using this Base's AI as the core. Probably something they put into you. Anyway, Point dully noted. Do it."
"The door is locked in an algorithmically changing system in an encrypted code with 10 digit password and electronic biometric scan and ten extremely tricky firewall and its backups. It'll take some time to try a couple of gazillion password variations and trudge through the firewalls without tripping at least three alarms. Would you like to watch a movie while you wait for the next… uh, 10-15 minutes? We have a wonderful selection of movie available." I don't remember making her with a witty tongue for spouting sarcasms, but who am I to complain?
"Plenty of spiteful comments too I see. Alright, while I wait, show the progress on the outside."
SIERRA didn't answer but she showed me another live feed. The situation outside began to deteriorate. Several defense areas of the Base support turrets have begin to fall under weight of numbers. So far however, the three main Positron Turrets are still standing. The Daemons aren't exactly witty, but they understand danger and now, instead going for a macho parley of blocking the Positron Blast with their AT field, they began dodging the blast, though the shot would still be fast enough to rip a limb or two. But the three main turrets are too slow to keep up with their obviously more fluid and nimble movements of the EVA rip-off. Down below, casualty began to mount. A soldier got a claw pierced through his chest before he was thrown to the sky, where a horde of Legion caught him and rip him apart, limb to limb.
I saw Kensuke fighting as hard as he could. And then I finally see it. The moment his last M16 sent nothing but clicking sound to the enemy, marking that he had ran out of bullets. He threw away his useless gun and flexed his arm. I gasped when two long whip like limb burst out underneath his palms. The whip glowed red and surging with electricity. He cracks his whip repeatedly to the ground, creating a series of gashes on the floor. 6 Legion noticed him and bent downward towards him. The first one get into range and were immediately hacked to two. Using these two as stepping stone, he jumped and spins mid air, swinging his whip. The resulting attack slices several Legion to smaller pieces. The last two haven't learnt its lesson and went towards him. The boy grabbed a sharp claw of a dead Legion with his whips and tossed it to the incoming enemy. The long claw nailed them both at the same time. They were still alive, but Kensuke make a short work of it by slashing them to four pieces with a cross slash.
"Three fully functional Angellion… So that's what he meant." Damn. That wondergirl really got a sick idea.
As I watched on, SIERRA suddenly interrupt the live feed.
"Sorry to disturb you, but I just finished unlocking the door. It took a shorter amount of time than I had foreseen. But are you sure about this?"
"OPEN. THE DAMN. DOOR."
The door slid open as I unplugged SIERRA away and I was welcomed with a sight quite bizarre, so to speak. Overall, I looked like I walked into a room filled with towers. The floor seems to be made of nothing but cables, but that's not my concern. Each Towers support enormous number of capsules not dissimilar with Eva Entry Plugs. Some had sunk in to its slot while other slots are empty and others are still sticking out. I walked closely towards one of the capsules. Something was written on it…
"Dummy-Plug – Type: S. What the heck is this?" And then I looked at other capsules. Dummy Plug type R, Type A, Type T, Type K, and so on and so on. "What's the big idea? What's with this series of Dummy Plugs?" I jacked in SIERRA into a dummy plug. "SIERRA, open it."
"What's with this uncontrollable urge of yours to open everything that is closed?"
"If you can't, at least show me the insides. I wanna know exactly what is the Wondergirl working in here."
"Sigh… una momento."
I waited quite impatiently. But when SIERRA showed me an image of what's inside, my reflexes made me scream. "WAAAAAHH!" I nearly dropped the mini PC when I saw… Baka Shinji's body inside the capsule filled with LCL. But he look so pale… it doesn't even look like he was alive.
"My scanner show similar live signs in this room."
"W…What do you mean?"
"My scanner detected that this person is still alive, albeit in a chemically induced coma. However, matching his biometric signature, I scan there's about 326 Ikari Shinji in this room, all in the same chemically induced coma."
"S… She cloned him?" Okay. I know she likes him, but that is just insanely gross.
"That's right." I turned around when I saw her with two guards, pointing their guns at me.
"I know you're a sicko, but I never knew you were this insane!" I roared.
She didn't reply but she turned her head slightly, signing her men to leave the room. She walked slowly towards the capsule containing Shinji's clone body. "Morally, this is wrong. This is not Ikari Shinji. As you might've guessed, this is a clone."
I glared at her, my look saying this doesn't answer my god-damn question.
"The condition of generating an AT field is using biological core. In this case, a human. So I used every resource that I have. I cloned Ikari-kun, Suzuhara-san, Aida-san, myself… and of course, you. And then used these clones as mass produced dummy plugs to generate the AT field."
"Me? You CLONED me as well?"
"To be used as, in layman's term, battery for the AT field generation, yes."
And for that stone toned answer, I socked her in her face. The two guards were a bit surprised at the outburst and went in to intervene, but Rei raised her hand, stopping them in their tracks. I get over her and held her throat on a choke. "How dare you do that to me!?"
"Tokyo-4 is not just a fortress. We are the last defense to protect what's left of humanity. I will do whatever it takes to accomplish that, even if you will hate me for what I'm doing."
"Why do you care!? YOU of ALL people! WHY DO YOU EVEN GIVE A DAMN?" I frantically wringed her neck several times.
She didn't answer. Blood trickling at the corner of her silent lips and her red eyes keep looking at my green one. Silence for five seconds that felt like an eternity until she broke the silence.
"Second, you have to leave this place. I'll have my guards take you to the surface. Right now I'm needed elsewhere. But after I'm done, I will go to you and then you can batter me as much as you want." As she said that, she signaled her guard to grab hold of my shoulder and pulled me away from her.
The four of use get to another elevator (one that I haven't cannibalized) and she dropped off at the Angellion hangar. I was too angry with her to see where she's going. A few minutes later I was on the command bridge, where I met with Misato.
"You? You're the intruder?" an American with heavy moustache looked at me in disbelief.
"My guess is she got lost. It's okay Granger-san. She's safe. Commander Ayanami, are you there? The infantry can't hold out much longer."
"Open gate 53. I'm ready to launch." Came her reply.
And when she said that, I thought I was going to see a modified EVA-00 to just burst out of a hole. How wrong I was. An entire ten city block just moved out of the way, creating a giant hole big enough to sport two football fields. From the hole, a giant thing slowly rose out. The center of its body bears little resemblance with the unit 00. The Angellion was mostly colored in bright yellow, near transparent blue and white. Crimson pulsing veins can be seen flowing occasionally on the unit's surface. It is still a Cyclop, but that's the only similarity I can see. Its chest are elongated and heavily armored with layers upon layers of crisscrossing armor. The most distinctive feature of this unit is its seemingly disproportionally large shoulder, shaped vaguely like halves of an Octahedron, creating a shape of two vertically aligned Pyramids pointing at reverse direction. It has no visible arm to speak off, and it has no legs. The groin area of this monster did split off, but instead of forming legs; it crisscrossed each other in a manner similar to a DNA helix and formed a long serpentine tail. And lastly: that thing is freaking HUGE! Its main body alone is already twice as wide as any Evangellion, and if the tail is to be stretched, it's easily longer than three times the height of the old Eva.
"That's right." Misato answered, noticing my mouth was opened aghast. "The Nero-Angellion: The Rook."
Rook. A chess piece which took the form of a fortress. As I wonder why on earth they named it like that, I saw the Rook start gathering electricity at the center of its chest, which had opened up revealing its red core.
A targeting visor screen appeared around Rei's eyes. On the screen, the power indicator is steadily rising while multiple targeting marks are slowly overlapping one another. Outside, the surface of Rook's enormous pyramidal shoulder opened up, revealing eight enormous circular cannon vents. The cannons are humming as electricity trickled around the exhaust.
"AT Reflector activate, maximum output." Rei quietly spoke to the computer. A huge area around the Rook was distorted. A sign that the AT field is being activated. Inside the cockpit, the commander was typing furiously on the keyboard. On the screen, the computer was projecting the path of the attack. Her red eyes spin around furiously, locking as many targets as she can while setting the path of the attack. "Align the target and fire." She muttered quietly, more to herself than to the computer.
"The Rook is here, so why in the name of Shanks with the Long, it doesn't attack!?" An injured British soldier whined.
"You're new aren't you?" Corporal Long was smirking as he was carrying the injured soldier at his back. "Just wait and see. When the Rook fires, it'll be quite flashy."
Inside the Rook, Rei finalized the attack pattern. "Attack chart completed. Estimated accuracy: 75 percent to 87 percent. Deviation: minimal."
A computerized voice announced. "Positron cannon charge complete in 3, 2, 1. Energy charge complete. Fire when ready."
Rei pressed the trigger.
On the outside, the Rook raised its entire upper body a bit as the surge of electricity reached its peak. With a loud roar, the Positron Cannons fired, sending 8 streams of proton burst out to eight separate directions. It was seemingly off target, until eight extremely dense AT field appeared and bounced the beams to forward direction. The conical salvo of sustained currents of proton were done in sweeping motion, each cutting a swath of destruction to hundreds of Legions caught in its blast. The barrage burst out of the flock of legion and punctured the real targets: the Daemons. Three beams went through two daemons, ripping them to shreds. One was dodged but tore a daemon's arm's off. Three were barely bent by the daemon's AT field, but it still brutally rip through their faces. And the last one hit two Red Crosses each, creating two brilliant explosion the shape of a Christian crosses.
If my jaw can go any lower, it will. THE FUCK is THAT!? She used AT field to bounce positron blasts around like a freaking ping-pong ball, and each blast was powerful enough to punch through the Daemon's AT field.
"Enemy numbers down by 36 percent!" Maya announced to everyone.
That's a huge portion of the enemy. So why isn't everyone too happy about it?
"Now comes the 'ouch' part. Have the turrets to back up Rei while the Rook cools down!"
"Beginning cooldown process. Estimated time, 3 minutes."
Smoke flow out ceaselessly from the bright red, overheating exhaust vents of the positron cannons on Rook's shoulders.
"Begin charging for the second volley. Fire after a minute and a half." Rei begin realigning the targeting cursors and chart another course for the Positron Beam.
"Warning. Incomplete cooldown may result in massive internal damage to the Positron Cannon array due to overheat."
"Understood." She looked down below. The soldiers were fighting desperately as the Legions began to flood through the wall. "But those soldiers don't have three minutes."
With this flashy grand gesture however, the infantry was heartened and began fighting harder. The Legions start focusing on the Rook rather than the positron cannon. Which is a plus on their part. The AA batteries concentrate more on protecting the Rook than the Positron Cannon, which resumed its barrage upon enemy Daemons. But this time, the Fallen took a different approach. The moment the trio of turret fires, the Legion massed together and generated a powerful AT field. It didn't bend the blast, but their bodies acted as a meat shield that chip the Positron Cannon's firepower. When it got through, the blast was barely able to reach its target, and it was stopped by the Daemon's AT field.
Amidst the smoke resulted from the explosion however, another volley of reflected 8 Proton stream screamed out, and this time it successfully destroyed almost all Daemons and Red Crosses, leaving just one Daemon and one Red Cross. However, what remained of the Legion now began to swarm over the Rook.
"AT Field, maximum output!" Rei grunted in the midst of the AI blaring warning that the insides of the Rook are beginning to melt due to massive overheat. Meanwhile, the Legion swarmed together before her, forming a massive black tornado of Legions. The barrage of the covering fire from the AA batteries and missiles did very little to deteriorate their numbers and progress. The blue haired commander gritted her teeth bracing for impact. The black swirl collided with the Rook's AT field. Stalemate for a few seconds, and then the flock of Legions exploded as their AT field exploded on one another. The shockwave also sent the massive Rook down on its back causing massive structural damage to surrounding buildings.
Kensuke immediately ordered the infantry to concentrate their fire to support the Rook. Several legions thrown away by the shockwave landed in their midst, blown half to hell. Grievously injured as they may, they're still a threat. The infantry gang up on them but maintain their distance. A soldier got to close and got its legs ripped off by its claws. One of the soldiers pulled the injured soldier away while his comrades maintain their barrage upon the reeling creature.
Meanwhile on the outside, the Daemon observes how the Rook had fallen. And then suddenly, the Legions changed their erratic move and headed straight towards the AT field of Tokyo 4. Rei realized what's going to happen. She issued another order.
"Aim all the Positron Cannon at the Red Cross before the Legion took down the field." I heard wondergirl's voice over the intercom.
"Turret! You heard the lady!" Misato roared to the intercom. As she said so, I saw the three Positron Cannon changed their bearings, completely ignoring the Daemon and the Legions, they aimed straight at the Red Cross.
"Shouldn't you fire at the Daemon first? Or the Legions?" I blurted out.
"The Red Cross is the gateway that provides the Daemon with strength. It also emanates radiation of sorts that control the Legions. Destroy the Red Cross, we cut them off their power source and stop their units. Stop their units, stop the battle." Maya explained.
"That sounds like…"
"EVA's umbilical cable, right?" Misato finished for me.
Right. A complete rip-off of the Evas. I looked at the Legions. They are activating their AT field and began corroding Tokyo-4's AT field inside out. The sky went off color several times, signing the fact that the AT field is suffering a massive instability.
The three Positron Cannon began to hum, gathering energy, and then fired. The streams of proton collided one another and joined into a single more powerful Positron Beam. The beam went straight towards the Red Cross. The Daemon suddenly appeared in between the blast and met the Positron Blast with a blast of its own. The two energy surge met and bent away. The Positron blast rip through the Daemon's arm while the Daemon's blast, by chance or coincidence, punch through the weakened AT field and landed near a building.
In the cockpit of the Rook, Rei's eyes widened when she saw the location of the explosion. "That building is…" Gritting her teeth in an uncharacteristic anger, she propelled her controller forward, forcing the tittering Rook to stand up. "Activate AT reflector, max power."
"Warning! Positron Cannon array is in danger of total meltdown. Total shutdown of the system for cooldown is necessary to avoid internal-"
"There's only one target left and the AT field is in danger of collapsing. Available Positron Cannon is insufficient to accomplish the job. Reroute all power of the Rook to cooldown system after this last shot. Objection dismissed."
"BE ADVISED. Due to the severity of the internal damage, AT field for self defense will not function throughout the charging period. Do you wish to continue?"
"Understood. Ignore defenses on the main body, concentrate what left of the AT fields on the Positron Cannon array until it's ready to fire. Proton Stream course plotted. Begin charging now."
"Plan accepted. Begin Charging the Positron Cannon Array."
Electricity began to build up around the Rook. As it did, the Rook began to slither towards the damaged building, shielding that particular section with its serpentine body.
"What is she doing?" I took note of her peculiar behavior.
"That building… the medical center." Misato looked with concern to the monitor. 'Rei, you…' the sub commander sighed and yelled another order. "Maximize the AT field of Tokyo-4. Use all dummy plugs if necessary."
I blinked when I heard the word dummy plug. "I used every resource that I have. I cloned Ikari-kun, Suzuhara-san, Aida-san, myself… and of course, you. And then used these clones as mass produced dummy plugs to generate the AT field."
…she knows about the dummy plugs? Did she know what those things contained?
The Daemon took note of this particular behavior and decided to go melee towards the Rook, apparently out of fear of its next massive volley. The black eva-lookalike activated its AT field and charged towards the fortress in a beast like manner and collided with the Tokyo-4's strengthened AT field. With its remaining arm it began to hammer the field. Causing it to distort even more. The shock caused by the impact was enough to send shockwave reverberating to the soldiers below.
"Captain, what should we do?"
"Concentrate all our fire on the Legions - don't let them help the big guy to penetrate the AT field. It's the only thing that stands between it and us. All depends on the Rook to shoot that motherfucker down." Kensuke groaned.
"Yes sir!" The MI began shooting towards the flock of Legions sticking to the AT field.
Outside, the Daemon continuously punching the AT field. Midway, it deemed just one arm is not enough, and then its other arm regenerates from a bloody pulp. With this new arm, the Daemon renewed its assault.
"Charging at 45 percent."
Rei aligned the targeting cursors at the Red Cross, just beneath the Daemon's armpit.
After a few more dozens of battering, the distortion of the Tokyo 4's AT field grown worse. The Daemons resorted to its final measure: underneath its black mask, a jaw filled with disorganized fangs and teeth opened up and start munching its way through the AT field.
"Systemic damage detected on the Dummy Plug 20 to 34!" One of the EX-NERV trios, one with the glasses, reported.
"Nanni!?" Misato gasped.
"AT field down by 29 percent!"
The daemon took another bite out of the AT field. Now the AT field is as thin as paper, literally.
In Rei's cockpit, alarms blaring over the AI telling her that charging has reached 93 percent, but cataclysmic system failure is imminent.
The Daemon gave the fragile AT field a headbutt and it managed to, for a moment, punch through the AT field and its mask flashed. The beam attack was dispersed by the AT field, but one small beam managed to hit the Rook on its left breast area, causing a significant damage. Rei grunted as the pain was transmitted to her body. "I won't move an inch. This place… This place…!"
The Daemon roared and raised its arms. Its muscle suddenly bulge, as if preparing for the final bash.
"Rei! The AT field can't take much more of this!" Misato roared over the com.
At this point however, the charging had reached 100 percent and Rei pushed the trigger. The 8 Positron overheated cannon vents fired another streams of Proton, and like before, it was bounced off by the AT field. However it bounced the proton streams in such way, they converged at one point, producing a massive blast of Positron Beam headed straight at the Daemon and the Red Cross behind it. The enormous blinding blast vaporized any Legion get in its way and obliterates the lower half of the last Daemon while making its way to pierce through the final Red Cross, resulting in the subsequent explosion afterwards.
The legions appeared to short-circuit the moment its so-called power source is gone and began dropping like flies while what's left of the Daemon disintegrate itself. The Rook shut down completely after a series of explosion occurred at various parts of its body and fell; face down, into a spectacular wreck and tremor. The Positron Cannon vents were on fire and well on the verge of melting. Rei still managed to use the last control she has to direct the Rook's fall so that it won't crush the Medical Center.
"Send the medic to the MI below and quickly get the emergency unit to salvage the Rook and rescue its pilot, ASAP!"
I almost forgot to breathe. Misato's yell brought me back to earth. I've seen Eva's fight before. But never on this scale. That Rook looked like it can probably pummel the Mass Produced Eva with just one salvo of that Positron Ping-pong cannon array, but even something like that were pushed to its limits.
"I'm going to check on the field." Misato announced as she put down her com.
"Wait." Before I can stop myself my mouth spoke. "Can I go with you?"
"Sure." She answered without looking at me, too worried to even bother looking at me I guess.
Soon, I was on board an emergency car with its roaring sirens. At the distance, I saw several similar cars have already arrived on the scene and were dousing the Rook with lots and lots of fire extinguishing foam. The fire had already gone down, but the unit is still smoking hot.
On my way, I saw the medical units had arrived and were giving aid to the Infantry down below. I can see some soldiers were roaring in pain as their limbs are gone. Others were angrily shooting an already dead Legion, spouting hysterical scream over what the monster did to his friend. They were all wounded and none of them are smiling even though they've won the battle. That's because they know it isn't over yet.
"It's horrible isn't it?"
My train of thoughts was stopped for a moment when Misato spoke.
"…" I don't know what to say.
"Back then we had it easy. Those Angels only come one at a time. Incredibly powerful but we can simply focus on one target and create appropriate strategy at a time. The Fallens came at us en-masse, and as you can see, they're capable of strategic formation and thinking, like when they tried to penetrate the AT field."
The AT field. And then I remembered what I saw down there. "Misato-san… did you know that the AT-Field-"
"Was created using Dummy Plugs containing cloned bodies of the Eva Children? Yes. I know. Rei didn't keep any secrets from us. She only allows herself and me to get in there due to security reasons." Misato smiled lightly to me, as if she can guess what I'm thinking. She's doing a good job at it though. "She had no choice. Given the situation and the enemy we faced, infantry is necessary to support the Angellion, unlike before. The AT field is needed to protect them. The strategy is simple: Legions, en masse, can still penetrate the AT field, but they are usually weakened by then and their numbers are significantly reduced, and then the infantry and the turrets will pick them on. The Daemons and the Red Crosses are Angellion's business. The Positron Cannon will act as deterrent to prevent the Daemons from focusing on breaking AT field personally. Though, those energy turrets really aren't suited for prolonged skirmish." Misato sighed. "And their effectiveness had been reduced. They only needed to hold the line long enough until the Angellion can finish off the Red Cross and all Daemons in vicinity."
When we get there, several people in a heavy suit and a giant chainsaw is cutting the cockpit hatch open. After a few moments, the hatch were abruptly tossed away as a capsule not dissimilar with EVA Plug and the dummy plug burst out and its LCL burst out.
"OUCH!!" One of the firefighter crew screamed when a drop of the LCL hit his skin. "It's freakin' hot!"
Before long, the LCL stopped flowing, and a hatch was opened from the inside. A cable ladder descent from the steaming hot cockpit, along with pilot. I don't remember ever seeing the Wonder Girl looked that… exhausted.
Misato quickly ran towards her, and as expected, she fell on her arms, literally, and barely conscious. "Medic room. Sleeping pills. Total rest for the whole day. Right now and no buts." Misato held her close with a worried look in her eyes.
The way I hear it, it's more like an order rather than a suggestion.
"W…Wait… need… to check… something…"
"Oh no, you don't lady."
"He's… in… there…" She pleaded rather desperately.
Misato take a look at her face and sighed. "You brought this to yourself. Why did you have to force the Positron Array cannon to fire before it cooled down?"
"The MI… won't last long… I was late… Legion would've overrun them… if I… wait."
I felt like I wanna curl into a ball and punch myself several times in the face. She could've entered the battle sooner and take her time if only she didn't have to deal with me sneaking around in the restricted floor.
Meanwhile, I saw Misato finally relents. "Alright. But get some first aid treatment first okay?"
After a while, I saw her getting some on the spot patchwork with some bandages on her head. Supported by Misato, she walk slowly through the ruins of the Medical Center. Me? I just followed her around thoughtlessly.
And then, we finally arrived at the spot she wanted to see the most. This place was untouched by the blast. She slid her card and the door slide open. I gasped. I did made a note earlier that I don't want to see him.
But in the end, here I am, standing before him.
It was him. That Baka Shinji.
He was lying there in his bed, so weak and thin. Several infusion cables can be seen hooked up to his small fragile arms. His hair look really long. He must've been like this for quite some time now.
I turn my attention somewhere else. The Wondergirl keep looking at him, longing is evident in her normally emotionless eyes. I never get it. What exactly did she saw in him anyway?
"Well… it's something you also see… though you usually deny it."
Oh God, not now! I glared angrily at the 4 year old me who appeared so innocently, sitting right next to the unconscious Baka Shinji.
"Teehee hee!" And then she quickly disappeared as the wonder sighed and then reverted back to her usual stone faced persona. Well… apparently she didn't intend to make me look like an idiot. Rei looked at my face and then I realized my expression is still locked in an angry mode. I finally sighed. "This one's not a clone, right?"
She shook her head.
I looked at her and then to him. I was in coma to, once… and if she's not mistaken, the idiot jerks off right next to me. I slapped my face. Good God, the only memories I have with him, either it's disgusting or just ticks me off. The times we fight, the times we argue… the list can go on forever. "Anta… Baka-ka? What the hell did you do that you ended up like this?" I flicked his forehead lightly once.
Misato's eyes widened for a moment, but then she smiled anyway.
The wonder-girl looked at me. "You asked me once."
I looked at her.
"You asked me, why I, of all people, care. Why do I give a damn. I give a damn. Because I know a boy who suffered so much from humanity. But in the end, that boy chose to love this world the way it is. So I give a damn."
Hearing her answer I just shook my head and I raised my hands. "I gave up. You and that Baka Shinji are really a pair of idiots."
The wonder girl smiled. For her, being called an idiot of the same level of that Baka Shinji is probably the highest praise. "Back then, I told you can batter me as much as you want. Do you still want to do it?"
"…anta Baka?" I turned away from her. I can see at the corner of my eye Misato was chuckling like crazy.
The wonder girl was probably smiled too. But then she asked me another question. "Second, there's something else."
"Katsuragi-san detected a hack in our program stemming from the Elevator you were in. How did you do that?"
I blinked and turned towards her. She seemed… genuinely interested on this specific matter. I don't really care, so I showed her the mini-PC. "I used this to hack your AI. I've isolated the system and created a program to override the master control."
She stretched her arms, asking to have a look at the mini PC. I gave it to her and she examined it carefully. "…where did you get this?"
"I don't have much to start with so I used the LCD screen and some servo box on the elevator." I caught something at the corner of my eye and realized it was Misato with her mouth opened aghast. She probably never imagined I can create a mini pc out of an LCD screen and a box of scraps.
The blue haired Wondergirl remains stoic however. "Well, it means technically this is the property of the Squad of the Japanese Branch. You know, I have to confiscate this."
I looked at her sternly and I can feel my lips turning into a smirk. "Seriously, that bad-evil-cunning-commander role doesn't suit you. If you want to re-cannibalize the AI I've created on that thing you can just tell me." I chuckled several times. "I'll give it to you. But in return for something."
She looked at me, her look asking me to go on.
"An Intel told me that another one of those Angellions was nearing completion somewhere in Europe. Give me one to pilot, and you can have that AI and do whatever you want with it."
Obviously she was rather surprised with my reply. It is understandable given that a few moments ago I staunchly refused to even fight.
"Why? Because I'm me. This is not about the planet. This is about me. My pride as a Souryuu Asuka Langley wouldn't settle for anything less."
She looked at me and then sighed. "Sub-Commander Katsuragi."
"Draw the paperwork. Transfer her to our med-center in Munich in the next Grandliner, and then send word to Panzer-Bjorn Mobile division in Berlin." Misato nodded and then she left right away.
"Berlin?" I looked at her.
"Yes. I just got the word. The new Angelion was not nearing completion. It was already been completed a few days ago and right now is being stored in Berlin under the jurisdiction of the Panzer-Bjorn mobile division, a division specialized in battling Daemons in Yellow Zones. Areas in which constant conflict is abound."
"That'll be perfect for me." That would probably serve as a good distraction until I can get over a few things. The Wonder-Girl fought for a world loved by someone else. Kensuke continue fighting even beyond the grave. What do I fight for?
"Do you still hate him that much?"
I looked at her sternly. Hate Shinji? No. I didn't hate him. I just… can't stand him. Just looking at him in his weakened state and I felt my head is in complete chaos and I don't know what to think. Obviously I can't tell the Wonder Girl that. "I have to go." I started. "My pride took a hell lot of beating today. A lot of things happened. If I don't go I might have as well lose myself. If I lose myself what's the point of me living when I'm not me anymore?"
"Cogito Ergo Sum?"
I think therefore I exist. Yes. That was a very well put. I think, no I believe I'm Souryuu Asuka Langley, the Second Child, trained to fight in an Eva against Angel. I fight for myself, and I survived for myself. This is the me that I believe in, and thus this is my existence. And so I replied back to her, echoing her words.
"Cogito Ergo Sum."
For the first time in my life, I feel like I can see her eye to eye.
Later that evening, after the Grandliner had already left with Asuka to Munich…
Rei finally get herself a proper medical attention. She was in a familiar sight where most of her body parts are bandaged. And yet, despite all that, much to the protest of the doctors, she was standing on the elevator with Misato next to her, descending to a certain level.
As they went past the Spear which is still under construction, Rei began to issue some instruction.
"Recall the Bane from Osaka. The Rook will took some time until it finished repair. And the Spear is already entering a crucial stage I its construction."
"Those two generals from the UN will have a fit when they saw the repair bill. Fuyutsuki-san will get a mouthful."
"In any case, I do have to make some more repair and modification to the Rook to keep up. 3 minutes in between firing is still too long… no… the fact that it have to wait until the next shot is already a great disadvantage. We'll get to this later. In any rate we need to accelerate the development on the Spear."
"That system you're working on. Are you sure it's a good idea to put it inside the Spear?"
"It's precisely because it's the Spear that the system can only go there. And I think Asuka's expanded knowledge had provided us with another piece of the missing puzzle." Rei looked at the Mini PC containing SIERRA base program and gave it to Misato. It was then Rei realized her Sub-Commander was staring at her in pure shock.
"…you called her Asuka."
"So?" The blue haired girl replied monotonously as if it wasn't such a big occasion.
"W…Y…B… you usually called her Second."
"I'm just trying to be polite. That is her name, yes?" Still the same monotonous voice.
"B…T… Yes." Misato groaned. 'When the hell did they make up, these two girls…?'
They arrived at the Angellion Graveyard and R&D center. The elevator door slide open and Misato swung the Mini PC in her hand. "Yo, Lab-Rats! This is no longer a budget meeting. We're Re-opening project Tsubasa. For starters, meet SIERRA: A Stupendously Intelligent and Extensive Remodel of our ridiculously Retarded AI."
A few months later, somewhere in the snowy plains of what was once Siberia…
I let the LCL filled the whole cockpit. My human hand grasped the controller while I let my new mechanical hand afloat. Cables and wires plugged into my right arm and my left eye flashes from digital green to bright red. I took a deep breath inside the LCL and pushed the controller and entered the fray.
"In the end, Pride is always everything for you isn't it?"
I can't believe I'm used to her presence already. Even more surprising is that I've learned to tolerate her existence. Perhaps it's my curse or my punishment that I have to bring her along forever.
"You said it yourself." I grinned. "Pride has its uses."
I am Souryuu Asuka Langley.
I was the pilot of Eva-02.
Now I'm the pilot of an Angellion.
And this is my pride that made me what I am.
This pet project confiscated my attention more than I thought.
Next will be Ayanami Rei's POV.