Acknowledgements:
Well, first there is the Literal Translation Project, without whom this fic would be quite different, and take a lot longer to write.
Next we have the FFML, who provide a much needed outlet for this, so that I can know that other people have at least read whatever it is before I send it to RAAC.
Next, we have ADV, who pressed my Eva DVD box set.
Next, we have Mangle, who pressed the Eva movies.
Next, we have my fans (all four of you) who occasionally asked if I'd ever finish this . . . Thanks.

And, last, but definately not least, we have Gainax, and Anno-san, without whom I'd've never started this mess.

'Nuff of that.

Genom Research
Presents

A
St. Suika Fenderson Roberts
FanFic

Shin Seiki Evangelion
Chouchuanshan

Episode one.

I look up from the rack of tapes as the room suddenly shakes, then shakes again. "What's going on?" The man behind the counter shrugs disinterestedly, so I guess it isn't another Angel. I go back to perusing the tapes again, wonder about the people who would make DAT copies off of twelfth-gen analog audio copies of old vinyl disks. For some things I could see it, I doubt there is an intact copy of Cheap Thrills on anything better, and the original wasn't too high fidelity to begin with; but I don't see the point to Bach's third performed on March second 1982 by the New Mexico Symphony. Where the heck is New Mexico anyway? 'Kinda think it was absorbed into New New South Wales when the British bought a new homeland in the Americas.

I pull a copy of Extra Terrestrial Live off the shelf and approach the cashier just as another shock hits. The bottles jump; one of them bounces off the edge of the counter, shattering, showering me with broken glass and its contents. The old guy looks up at me, blinks, and speaks for the second time since I'd entered the music shop.

"Sorry 'bout that. That all you wanted?" he nods at the tape in my hand.

"I was also looking for anything by Big Brother and the Holding Company."

"A child with taste. Such a rare thing nowadays. I've got a copy of Big Brother and the Holding Company, you have it?" I shake my head, rather impressed, for the news on usenet is that all the copies on Earth had been lost. "And I've got reprints of those two posters." I hadn't thought he'd seen me gawking, since I've worked really hard on learning how to hide such things.

"Wow." I can't say any more for a moment, "How much?"

"I shoulda made sure those bottles were stored a little more stably, so you can have 'em, if you want." A copy of Big Brother and the Holding Company? And one each of those posters? He pulls out two long rolls and a DAT tape, and hands them over. I sputter inarticulately for a moment. "Don't mention it. Sorry about that bottle." I walk out with a skip to my step, spin just outside the door to attempt to say thanks again.

The store is just _gone_. In the spot where it was is this tattoo parlor, of all things, and I suddenly notice something in the window. If my retinal patterns have changed Akagi-hakase is going to be quite upset with me. Nothing to be done about it. I spin in place and start for home. Three paces later I realize what had been poking at my conciousness since I got splashed, the lack of feedback from something that normally moved when I walked. I stuff the tapes into my pants pocket, checking un-obtrusively, then brush my free hand across my shirt. Akagi-hakase is going to have coniptions, and if my retinal patterns have changed I can only hope that my fingerprints haven't.

I manage to beat the rain home, and slip into my room to contemplate the best arrangement of my new posters. Come to think of it, these are the first posters I've ever owned. Too bad Misato doesn't have a DAT deck. . . No, she needs her sleep, so I couldn't play it at the volume it deserves anyway.

I pop the tape I've had in my player for the last several weeks; it's very calming, but I don't think that is helping any. I pause for a moment, contemplate the two tapes in my pocket, grabbing first ETL then BBHC, then finally settle on ETL, for I don't want to risk being disappointed right now. I put the earphones on, hit play, then adjust the volume up to the edge of too loud while I continue to look at my walls, wondering how I should place my new treasures. I at last decide and exit my room to look for the sticky-tape.

I pause to splash hot water on my face, but don't change. With a little shrug, I continue looking for the tape. I find it the same moment I hear the doorbell ring.

I open the door on two familiar faces. "Hello, what're you up to?" I ask, shutting off the tape and stuffing the earphones in my pocket with the player.

"Hoping for shelter from the rain." Kensuke.

"Come in." I wave them in, the roll of tape in my hand. They enter and I shut the door behind them.

"Thank you for letting us take shelter from the rain here, Shinji." Touji this time.

"Misato-san wa?" Kensuke again.

"'Probably still sleeping, she had to work late last night."

"Yeah, her job is hard." gurmble gurmble, I want to hang up my posters. Ah well, the chores of a social life.

"Keep quiet, don't wanna wake her." Kensuke.

"Hey, you lot. What are you doing here?" Asuka's home.

"Hiding from the rain." State the obvious, in case it isn't.

"I'm sure. I'm changing, so if you peep I'll kill you." Asuka can be _so_ charming.

Touji says something to the unkind side of `who'd wanna look at you'; Kensuke mutters about her being too self-consious; then both of them notice that Misato is awake. She greets us, reminds me that there is a harmonics test this evening, then reminds Asuka. I suddenly remember what happened earlier, grab her by the hand.

"Misato-san, I need to talk to you, in private." I drag her off to her room; she follows willingly enough. I wedge the door to her room closed, then drag her to the closet at the far end of the mess, up against the outside wall.

"I went shopping today, in a shop that wasn't there, and something rather weird happened." I take a deep breath, continue, "I got splashed with a liquid, and this happened." I press her hand against my left breast, and her eyes get really big.

"How?"

"No idea. It's even better, though," I pull her hand downward; she fights me a little bit until she realizes that she isn't going to feel what she thought she would, "see what I mean?

"I'd like you to help me check a couple things." She looks at me quizzically, so I explain. "I want to make sure that my retinal patterns and fingerprints are the same. It's going to be hard enough getting people to believe I'm me if they match; I don't want to think about trying if they don't."She nods emphaticly.

"Let's get that dealt with now, if you don't mind." I shake my head,

"Fine with me." She waves me towards the door, which I un-wedge and open. The three people falling in were un-expected, for I thought I'd made enough noise to warn them back. I run to my room, grab my jacket and hurry to catch up with Misato. I needn't have, for Kensuke is stalling, congratulating her on her promotion. I check and realize that he's right, and wonder when it occured.

"Ja, ittekimasu!" Misato calls for both of us.

Riding in Misato's car isn't that bad. Riding in Misato's car with Misato driving, on the other hand, can be really scary, because she really doesn't seem like she should have the skill to get away with the stupid things she does.

The gate takes my ID and lets us in, and Misato drags me down to Akagi-hakase's lair.

"Ritsuko, Shinji-kun is wondering if his fingerprints or retinal pattern have been changed by piloting EVA." Decent excuse to check. I'd even occasionally contemplated what being an EVA pilot was doing to me. Ritsuko clucks at me, says that there is no reason to think that it would, but she'll check to reasure me. Fourty seconds and several flashes of bright light later I have my answer. Retinal patterns and fingerprints unchanged. _That_ makes me breathe a little easier.

"Akagi-hakase, that wasn't why I wanted to check, actually. Here." I grab her hand and press it against my breast. Her eyebrows rise and she slides one knee up my thigh, presses slowly but firmly.

"When did this happen? It didn't show up in your last post-flight physical."

"This afternoon." She turns away and fusses about in the pile of medical paraphenalia next to the retinal scanner, pulling out an all too familiar syringe. She tears it open, slots a fresh vial into it, holds out her hand. I oblige her quietly, placing my forearm into her hand. She slips the needle into my arm, pressing the vial down onto it in the same smooth motion, stands still as my blood flows, filling the sample container.

"Well, I'll be able to tell you if your DNA has changed by tonight, and the extent of the changes by the end of the week." She looks happier than I have seen her in, blessed, since I've known her. "Try not to let this spread too far." She must have seen the face I made at that, for she elaborates, "Knowledge of what happened."

"OK. Thank you for your help, doctor." She smiles at me, and I have another question pop up, "What am I going to do about PE? I'm not as well endowed as you are, but it'll be rather obvious anyway."

"As long as you're dressed I don't think it will be much of a problem."

"The showers at school are manditory and communal." She has the grace to color at that.

"I'll write you a note excusing you from PE for a NERV related reason. I'll send it to the school by morning, OK?"

"Totally." The urge sweeps through me before I can fight it, and I bounce up onto my toes and kiss her on the cheek. My face warms as I whirl and run from the room.

No homework today. I change into my plug suit; the air conditioning in NERV headquarters, like almost everywhere else, is set too cold for my taste. I lean against the back wall of the controll room, playing "Godzilla" over and over again. I know it's bad for the tape, but with the embargos, and RIAA, one can't get an optical digital audio system anymore, let alone a nanocore based one. Hmm, come to think of it, as a NERV employ. . . asset, I may be able to finagle possession of one somehow. I'll have to look into that. I let the tape play through to the end, then rewind it and run it again. Misato is talking to me, can't hear what she's saying. I turn the tape off, pull the plugs.

"What were you just saying? I got a new tape today so I had the volume up as loud as I dare."

"Asuka and Rei are here, the test begins in fifteen minutes."

"OK." I leave the control room, wondering again what the plug suits are made of, for mine is skin tight and still fairly comfortable, but looks almost the same in the mirror.

The test, as always, is totally strange. This time something is hovering just outside of me, trying to gather the courage to talk to me. I try thinking louder. `Hey! Whoever you are! If you want to talk to me, TALK ALREADY!' The presence backs off, but that is the only responce. A few moments later I feel the familiar separation as the test ends, and Misato's voice flows through the LCL.

"Shinji-kun, you did well."

"What do you mean?"

"Your sync was 9 points higher today."

"But still 50 points lower than me." Asuka grumbles.

"Impressive, a nine point gain in ten days." Ritsuko rubs it in.

"Nothing great!" Asuka's getting obviously angry. Doesn't she realize that anger lowers one's sync ratio?

Once we are out she corners me. "How glad you are to be praised."

"Asuka, being angry lowers one's sync ratio. Don't be so upset."

"I'm going home, baaaka." That could have gone better. Oh well, maybe it will sink in.

"Bai bai!" I call after her retreating form. Maybe I'm just acting like I think a girl should act. That is probably it, and I think I like this 'me' better. Hun.

I pull my clothing on over my plug suit, wait for Misato by her car.

"Congratulations on your promotion."

"Thank you," She says, continuing, "but I'm really not that happy with it."

"I can understand, I think. Today while I was being praised, it just made me sad, for it was really upsetting Asuka."

"Do you mind that?"

"Yes."

"It's because you are always looking for approval." That would fit. I can't ignore others, but I don't always need them to tell me how to feel. I can't let others tell me how to feel, even if it is so easy, recently.

-8-

Why did I let them rook me into coming along to this? Oh, yeah, Misato-san asked me. Ore no baka. Did I just refer to myself with `ore?' I do believe I did. The doorbell interupts my musings, and I look up to see Kaji-kun and Akagi-hakase at the door. Misato and Asuka chorus something about suspicion, and my feelings of ambivalence towards Kaji crystalize into antipathy. I ponder that for a moment, thinking about why I should dislike him, nailing down a few little clues, but nothing to explain the big picture. I start paying attention to the conversation just in time to hear Akagi-hakase say that both the commander and subcommander are out of the contry.

"The commander?"

"Ikari-shirei is in antarctica." I suddenly realize that I had referred to him as Ikari-shirei as well.

-8-

I stay out of sight at the back of the command center, listening to them discuss the new enemy. It's dropping either pieces of itself or an AT field, I'm not quite sure which, from orbit. This, of course, leaves great big holes in the ground at the impact point.

Misato orders the evacuation of Toukyou-3, because the risk to civilians is too high, even I can see that.

Now Ritsuko is arguing about the probability of our success. One in ten thousand, she says. That is sure to raise our spirits. Hopefully not from the dead. I have to speak up.

"How well will we fight without Headquarters? Magi may be backed up, but without the hardware she won't run nearly as effectively. All of the spare parts and extra EVA armor is stored here. Misato's plan is the only one." I say, glad I hadn't taken off my plug suit. I start toward the stairs to the EVA cage. I turn at the top of them. "We're gonna win, or die trying, right?"

Maya-san giggles. "Hai!" her voice is a lot lighter than it had been.

We listen to Misato's briefing, and Asuka brings up a couple of the points Ritsuko did. I keep quiet, for my input can't help things. Misato says we can back out.

"No need. Either we win, or it makes no differnce. The Angel gets here in about two and a half hours, right?" Misato doesn't reply, there is no need.

"I'm not going to die." Asuka, worried.

"Nor me." Rei, calm.

"When this is over, I'll invite you out for steak." Misato, almost certainly promising more than she can deliver.

"Rei doesn't eat meat." I feel the need to point that out. Things are a lot better now than they were in the 1970s, but people still starve, and eating meat still contributes. I've always backed down at the thought of all the confrontations vegitarianism would require in modern Japan. Peoples' lives. Like the reason you pilot EVA, Shinji-kun. Decision.

"The Angel's ECM is keeping us from getting a fix." Maya-san's voice, worried.

"Magi can't give us an exact point, so this is the predicted range." The huge blotch appears on the screen in front of me.

"That big?" Asuka's voice, very worried.

"With the target's AT field it can annihilate Headquarters entirely." Ritsuko's voice.

"'Cause of that, the EVA are to be placed at these points." They appear on screen, and I start towards my designated spot.

"What are these points based on?" Rei, curious.

"Intuition. Mine." Misato, trying to sound sure of herself.

"Ano," I pop a frame up on Asuka's screen.

"What?" She replies, staring at me with mild annoyance.

"Asuka, why do you pilot EVA?"

"To show my talent to the world, of course." Her reply seems so terribly sad.

"To show your existance?" I ask, trying to paraphrase.

"That may do." I'd known Asuka was hiding some problems, but this one is too much. How can they make someone who values herself so little pilot one of these? Maybe there is such a dearth of pilots that they have no choice, but the dearth of EVA is at least as bad.

"Why don't you ask that girl?" She asks me, breaking me from my thoughts.

"I already did."

"You two are such close friends," she sounds sad about that.

"Perhaps. If you didn't pick on her I think she would be your friend."

"Who would want to be friends with that . . . person?"

"You would." Maybe I'm pressing too hard.

"Why do you pilot EVA, Shinji-kun?"

"I only just decided, so I may be wrong, but I think it is to protect everyone. A friend protected me from the time my mother disappeared, and Ayanami protected me during the attack on Ramiel. I may not be able to do much, but I can pilot EVA."

"You are a fool." Her calm words bite, make me reply before I think.

"And what does that make you, who pilots EVA for the fame of it? You could easily die in any of these attacks, you know that? Do you want to die? There are easier ways than waiting for an Angel to kill you in your EVA." What am I saying. All communication between the EVAs is monitored. If she goes off the deep end someone is going to kill me, I'm sure. No, they won't kill me, 'cause they'll only have two pilots, they'll just make me wish I was dead. They probably wouldn't have to do anything at all, actually.

"I'm . . . " Asuka cuts me off before I can even finish the first word.

"You're right. Since getting killed inside an EVA is so difficult, maybe I want to live. Protect me too, if you want," she sounds so fragile. She cuts the connection, and I settle into the waiting.

"Shinji-kun, You asked me yesterday why I joined NERV. My father thought only of his research, nothing else. I hated him for it." He sounds so like my father. I nod and say `un' to show I heard, and she continues, "He didn't watch out for me, for our family, but people say he was sensitive. Yet, he was so weak that he was always trying to escape reality, us, just like a kid. I agreed with mother when she divorced him, 'cause he had always made her cry. Father seemed so shocked that I had to smile. In the end he saved me, at the cost of his own life, from the Second Impact. I couldn't tell if I loved him or hated him, only that I had to defeat the Angels that killed him, either to avenge him or be free from his spell. I joined NERV for that."

Nigechau dame da. "Misato-san. Thank you," I look down for a moment, contemplating my plug suit over my navel.

-8-

"Ibuki-san?"

"You can call me Maya, Shinji-kun." She replies.

"Can you put my sync rate up where I could see it? Someplace kinda out of the way like where the battery counter pops up?"

"Un, doushitte?" She sounds puzzled, but I can hear the clatter of keys and the display pops up, just above where the battery counter does when the umbilical is cut.

"Autofeedback."

"Oh." Her voice shows that she isn't just saying that to be nice, but actually caught what I meant. I can hear Misato asking for her to elaborate while I watch the numbers, 56.75, 56.76, 56.89, 58.5, 63.60, 64.55, 65.50, 66.45, 67.40, 68.35, 69.30. The normal stretched feeling of piloting EVA changes, loses its strangness. At the same time my range of vision has broadened, from barely 180 to almost 270 degrees, but is still binocular, or perhaps simply multi-ocular. How does Rei cope with having an eye on the top of her head? I check the sync ratio again, not bothering to look, just knowing that it is up to 74.67, 74.69, 74.68, fluxing randomly between the three numbers. I shift position, cocking my hips so I can rest my left leg, all of my weight supported on my right while I fold my arms behind my back under the umbilical. I let my perceptions drift a bit more, past familiar people, at least one of whom waves at me and yells `hi!'; past all the people left in Japan; up to where the familiar feeling, for it feels like myself, presence of the Angel in orbit. It starts to fall, and I start running, watching where it will hit, while Misato starts to give orders.

"All EVA Units to start position!" She calls out quickly, continues after a few moments, "The target's trajectory is based only on the optical observations, so Magi will direct you until the Angel is within a thousand of impact. After that it's up to you." She pauses again, and I reach where the target will hit, unless it changes course, "Operation start!"

The other two arrive quickly, and I brace for the impact, shaping my AT field to concetrate the impact on a single point, syncing it to the target's so that the impact will rip a nice round hole in the target's field, and, were the target flesh, give it a really nasty bruise.

"Asuka, Rei, when it hits my AT field, take it out quickly."

"Why, can't you hold it?" Asuka, snide.

"Rei will stop it, like the bar on a boar-spear. I'm just going to rip it's AT field open right there," I point at the spot, "and it's core will be right above that spot." Nigouki nods, and draws its prog knife. Rei, I'm happy to notice, is already in position, preparing to stop its fall.

Thirteen seconds later by the internal clock it is all over, sync rate at 79.82.

Ten minutes later I'm shocked at the way I feel as the sync shuts down, totally bare, weak, powerless. I stay in my plug suit, LCL dripping from my hair as I walk up to the command center.

"Radio contact re-established. Connection from Ikari-shirei in Antartica."

"Put it through."

"Good job, Katsuragi-sansai." Father's voice.

"Thank you, sir."

"Is Shogouki's pilot there?" That is one of the things that I hate about him.

"Yes."

"I've heard the story, You did a good job, Shinji."

"Eh? Yes." That was a surprising thing to hear.

"Ja, Katsuragi-sansai, I leave the rest to you."

-8-

"You must keep your promise." Trust Asuka to think that Misato would forget. She might pretend to do so, if we didn't remind her, I admit.

"Alright. I've drawn big bills from the bank, so I can pay for a full-course dinner, even if it is just before payday."

"I know how much you have, so take it easy. Rei said that she'd eat ramen with us," Asuka soothes Misato, something I hadn't expected her.

Rei orders, "Garlic noodle without pork for me."

"A large shark fin with baked pork for me," Asuka orders.

"Shark fin with baked pork," The shopkeep hands her her order.

"Kitsune udon." The shopkeep hands my order over with remarkable speed, while Misato continues to peruse the menu.

"Oh, Misato."

"What?" she asks.

"I've decided not to eat meat anymore."

"Why?"

"For most of my life I haven't, and Rei's courage made me realize that I needed to stick up for myself a little more." She smiles at me.

---
log:
1998 -- written
2000 December 25: editted (again)
2003 April 17: editted, again, because it needed it.
2003 October 3: Title block and acknowledgement.
2009 July 5: mauled for posting to ff.n