Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion, or anything associated with it. I have written this story solely because I enjoy writing.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything belonging to Marvel Comics or anything associated with it. I have written this story solely because I enjoy writing.

Chapter 1: Uninvited Guests

War was hell. There could be no mistake about that.

As the second World War progressed, spreading its horrors across much of Europe, the tender fields of grass, the peaceful cities had been savaged by death and destruction, rendering them as of ruined wastelands. Wastelands that were patrolled by humans wearing different uniforms, some supporting the cause for which they fought and some who wished they were as far as possible from the field of battle.

At the root of this war was an even deeper madness. The madness of one man who had spread his insanity across his native soil, finding allies amongst its nobles, and even in other countries. And under the flag raised by this tyrant, the diseases of intolerance, oppression, slavery, and murder had thrived like wildfire through dry brush. And in its wake arose an empire of cruelty whose shadow loomed over the whole of the Earth, with the promise to remake everything in its foul image.

Against this empire was created an alliance of other nations, of people determined to thwart the evil ambitions of tyrants, to safeguard their people from this great evil. And so, soldiers representing different armies clashed, sometimes on the battlefield, and sometimes behind the lines. Where the tides of war were changes, not by the roar of bombs and gunfire, but by a slender knife finding its way into the back of key individuals.

But for the soldiers fighting this war on the frontlines, they often didn't care about politics, or even why they fought. Many of them were drafted against their will, used to feed the meat grinder that was the battlefield.

These people were forced to endure the graveyard of the unburied dead. Of corpses exposed to the air over the length of days, if not longer. The knowledge that a moment's carelessness would all that would be needed to leave them amongst the dead as well. And in the endless periods of time in which boredom crept in, memories of better places and times, of loved ones waiting at home took over. Inspiring courage, sadness, and longing.

And there was something else as well. The war had recently taken a turn against the Nazis. And those who fought under their flag fought with fervor previously unseen, though it took different forms. Some fought to escape the ranks of their armies, either feeling that escape from the oppression of their regime was now possible, or simply heeding the instinct of a rat escaping a sinking ship.

Others fought harder to turn the war once again in their favor. And not only did they do so on the field of war. Some fought in the laboratories, generating new engines of destruction to be rolled out into the fields…

"Take cover!" Sergeant Kowalsky cried out, his ears filled with the sound of shells exploding around him. Smoke and dirt finding their way into his nose and mouth as he urged his men back. "Move it! Hurry!"

Though he wasn't sure if they heard him, Kowalsky did see them retreat. Fleeing for the relative safety of the nearby trenches, cutting both cloth and flesh upon the barbed wire that rimmed the filthy sanctuaries.

Gritting his teeth as he cradled his rifle, Kowalsky lost no time in following them. The thumping of his boots in the bloodied earth mixing with the pounding of his heart as he leapt into the trenches. Crashing down upon the men already there, the sergeant scrambled off of the men and readied himself. Aware of the soldiers tensing, lifting themselves up just enough to see, but hopefully not enough to be seen.

Wincing at the cries of the dying, Kowalsky watched as brave men were mowed down by the enemy. People who had been a little too slow to escape were slaughtered by the Nazi defensive line, a line consisting of men, tanks, and other forms of land-based artillery. The enemy forces before them determined to ward off the Allied forces, if only for a short time.

"Sarge!" someone cried out. Kowalsky looked and saw one of the other men scrabbling towards him. A quick check of his uniform and his equipment revealed him to his company's communications specialist, Private Hendricks. A man whose gift for gab had lent him a rather different name.

"What is it, Mouth?!" Kowalsky demanded. A bit tense and hostile, due to the imminent death that lay before him.

"I just got word from Able Company!" Mouth piped up, sweat and dirt staining his face. "They got cut off about fifty miles east of here! There's no way they're gonna be able to pull us out of here!"

"Aw, crap!" Kowalsky swore. He wanted to say more, to turn the air blue with cursing, but he didn't have the breath to spare just then. Shaking his head bitterly, the sergeant peeked up just a fraction. Just enough to stare at the path that led to their goal, and the krauts the stood before them. Kneeling back down, he glared at Mouth. "How long 'til they launch?!"

"At 1700 hours! Which means we've got less than an hour before the fat lady sings for the entire world, man!" Mouth reported, living up to his nickname in that one sentence.

"Dammit!" Kowalsky swore, shaking his head hatefully. Intelligence had recently learned of a Nazi super weapon. A missile more powerful than anything ever launched before, and capable of devastating entire cities, rendering them incapable of supporting life.

If the Nazis were free to launch, then the impact of such a missile would demoralize the Allied forces. Perhaps give the enemy enough leeway to regroup and counterattack. Unless Kowalsky and the rest of Easy Company found way to pull a miracle out of their helmets, then the war –

"Mari?" a heavy voice rang out. "Where are you?"

"Eep!" was the none-too-clever response that Mari emitted. Jumping halfway out of her skin, the magenta-haired girl then fell on her back, groaning at the puff of dust that resulted of her impact.

"Mari?" came the same masculine voice. This time with greater impatience. "Come on down! It's time for dinner!"

Oh, right. Dinner. Forgot about that, Mari thought sheepishly. Blinking away the dust that surrounded her, she looked about the attic of her home, and found the normally familiar surroundings blurred. Sitting back up, she looked blindly about, until she spotted something lying on the floor next to her. Gently reaching for it, she smiled at the feel of her glasses, and quickly put them back on her face.

"Um…I'll be right down, Dad!" Mari called out as she got to her feet and hurriedly dusted herself off.

"Where are you?" her father demanded. A beat passed before he spoke again, this time with considerable displeasure. "Mari Illustrious Makinami, if you've been hiding in the attic again -!"

"No, of course not!" Mari quickly lied, knowing deep trouble when she heard it. Like most twelve-year-olds, she was quite familiar with the name scale for trouble. First name meant trouble, first and last names meant even more trouble. All three names meant you were grounded for life. And maybe even longer.

Picking up the old diary that she had once again lost herself in, Mari hid it within the box that was its normal repose before she made her way to the stairs. Knowing that she had precious little time before her father decided to check on the door to the attic, and she was completely doomed.

Darting down the stairs as quietly and silently as she could manage, Mari emerged in the upstairs hallway, and quickly checked in both directions. No sign of her father, but there was no sense in being careless. Heading towards her bedroom, the bespectacled girl tore off her shirt and dumped it in her hamper before going to the closet in search of a fresh one. Hoping that she had time to doff her shorts as well, Mari hurriedly rummaged about in her closet, knowing from experience that the dust on her clothes would betray her as easily as anything else.

"Mari, where are you?!" her father demanded once more. His voice followed by heavy footsteps coming up the stairs.

"I'm in my room!" Mari replied, deciding to forgo clean shorts as she threw on a fresh shirt. Dusting off her buttocks and hoping that was enough, she jumped on her bed and grabbed the portable video game on her headboard. When her father arrived at her door, she leaned up and gave him an apologetic look.

"Mari, what are you doing?!" her father demanded crossly, placing his hands at his hips as he stared down upon her. "I've been calling you for the past five minutes!"

"I'm sorry, Dad," Mari smiled as sweetly and sincerely as she knew how. Holding up the game, she made a show of turning it off before setting aside. "I…just reached a new level, that's all."

"Uh-huh," her father nodded. His expression that of patent disbelief.

"I mean…you know how I am when I…get into something," Mari continued. Pouring on the sweetness and sincerity like her life depended on it. Which it probably did.

Fortunately, this particular tidbit had a good deal of substance to it. Her father had long since become aware of how Mari got when something caught her interest, and that once she got involved in something, it was virtually impossible to drag her away from it with anything short of a tow truck. As a result, her father finally gave it up as a bad job.

"Come on. While you're playing games, dinner's getting cold," her father grumbled as he turned from her room.

"Which is why the microwave was invented," Mari tossed back helpfully. Her father just grunted his displeasure, giving her solid proof that the crisis had been averted.

Later that evening, after dinner and homework were both done, Mari went to the center of the upstairs hallway, as she always did. It was something that had become a tradition to her in the last few years of her young life. Having already donned her pajamas, Mari gave a sleepy yawn before focusing on one particular photograph. In it was her as a somewhat younger girl, a regular bundle of squiggle as her father would sometimes say. Just behind the younger Mari was an attractive, slender woman, who was hugging the girl with a tender smile. All the while her father was holding the woman, Mari's mother.

It was a good picture, Mari found herself thinking not for the first time. A perfect shot of one of the happier times of her life. But as she stood there, looking at it, she felt her eyes moistening somewhat. Because it was also the last picture to have been taken...while her family was still complete.

"Hey, Mom," Mari spoke quietly as she tried to stop herself from thinking to another point in her life. To the day when this kind, compassionate woman that had helped bring her into the world and given both her and her father so much love had been taken from them. To when her mother had gone out to do some grocery shopping, just to pick up a few things for dinner. She had given both husband and daughter a smile before leaving, promising to be back soon. And there had been no reason that she wouldn't; it was later in the afternoon, but there was still plenty of sunlight. The skies were clear, the roads were free of any natural hazards, and there weren't that many people out.

But one of those people had decided to get drunk fairly early in the day. Had decided to go driving despite being inebriated. And had ultimately...

"I know I...haven't talked to you much," Mari went on, trying to shove the pain that was still with her aside. "Not since I got back from Aunt Sharon's place." Giving a rueful snort, she eyed the picture for a moment before adding, "I'm sorry. You know how much Dad hates it when I start obsessing about the past. Even if that past includes you."

Frowning somewhat as she thought of her father, Mari paused to glance about, making doubly certain that her father wasn't anywhere in sight or in earshot. "Dad…he almost...caught me again. Looking at great-grandpa's journals." Giving a helpless shrug, she focused on the smiling face in the picture, a face from whom she had inherited many characteristics. "He didn't actually see me or anything, but...I think he knows what I've been up to. I...he really doesn't like me looking at that stuff. In fact, if it were for the fact that it was all yours...he'd have probably tried to throw it all out by now." Then she gave a confident smirk and assured the picture, "Not that I'd ever let that happen, Mom. You know what that stuff means to me."

Taking a deep breath, Mari thought back to a different, more pleasant part of her past. To when her mother would at her bedside, reading stories from those journals. Of her great-grandfather James and the battles that had taken place during the second World War. Stories of real people, real heroes, not the fantasies and fairy tales that so many children enjoyed for their bedtime stories. "He never did like it when you read those journals to me," Mari noted, recalling some of the more heated discussions that had resulted of this. Complaints that telling their little girl stories of war, death, and destruction would certainly give her nightmares and so on. "But personally, I…I don't think it's just about the past and all that. I think he just doesn't want to think about them. He misses you so much, and…I dunno. Maybe my looking through your old things...just makes it worse for him."

There was no answer, of course. Mari knew that this was just a picture. It couldn't answer her questions, it couldn't ask her how her day was or if she had made any new friends. It couldn't tuck her in for the night, or tell her all those wonderful stories she had so enjoyed. And yet, as the bespectacled girl looked fondly at the picture, time seemed to roll back. And all the wonderful things she had had in her mother seemed to be almost within reach.

"Still, I can't help it," Mari confessed. "Reading the old journals, looking through all of it…it reminds me of when you here. It…helps me. I mean, I don't know if it makes much sense, but…I need to have those things. I need…" Exhaling deeply, she shook her head before wiping her tearing eyes. "Oh, god. What I really need is you back, but…I know that can't happen. So…"

Forcing back the pain once more, Mari gazed at the picture intently. Wanting nothing more than to once again be the child held within her mother's arms. "I guess…I'm just trying to be brave here, that's all," Mari finally said. "And…knowing that people like me...they fought scary stuff like that, then maybe…I don't know. If they could do it, then...why can't I?"

Finally managing to get back to herself, Mari managed a wide smile once again. "Still, there's one thing I know for sure, Mom," she said to the picture. "I love you. And…good night."

Having said everything she needed to say, Mari gave the picture one last look, and walked to her room. And while sleep didn't come easy to her, it did eventually come.

"Well, the rain keeps on coming down," Mari sang as she made her through the halls of her middle school. Her voice all but drowned out by the sound of her fellow students talking amongst themselves, exchanging idle gossip and letting out sounds of relief that they were free from purgatory for the rest of the day. "It feels like a flood in my head...And that road keeps on calling me...Screaming to everything lying ahead..."

It certainly felt good to be getting out and away from the halls of boredom and drudgery that was considered mandatory and of utmost importance by the government. Felt good to be moving again, rather than listening to yet another lecture and sitting around on her butt for hours on end. Honestly, I learn more about history in great-grandpa's journals than I do here! Mari couldn't help but think as she continued to sing, to a degree shutting out the insistent yammering around here. You'd think that with all the developments that have been made, all the computers and the internet and everything, somebody would come up with something better than school by now!

Shaking her head and thinking that, if it weren't for gym class, she would have utterly nothing to do while at school, Mari was startled from her thoughts and her song by a voice crying out, "Hey, Mari!" As the magenta-haired girl turned towards the source of the voice, someone collided with her from behind, sending her crashing to the ground face-first. "Oops!"

"Owww...!" Mari groaned, slowly picking herself up. Massaging her face as she assessed the damage, she growled, "Dammit...of all the - huh?!" Blinking a few times, she realized that the entire world was blurry around her. "My glasses...where -?!"

"Sorry about that!" came the voice once again as a blurry figure stepped up in front of Mari. The figure knelt down and held out her hand. "Here ya go, Mari!"

Having a good idea as to what was being offered, Mari smiled and reached out. To her considerable relief, her hand met with the familiar shape and texture of her glasses. "Aw, thanks! I - wait! Is that -?!" Cutting herself off before she could even finish her question, the ponytailed girl donned her glasses, and the figure before her came into focus. "Hi, Lizzie."

"Hiya!" Lizzie replied with a playful wave of her hand. "So, how's the 'illustrious' Mari Makinami doing today?"

This question immediately killed the smile Mari had been wearing. "Well, it was decent - for a school day. Until I wound up kissing the floor," the bespectacled girl grumbled as she got to her feet and started brushing herself off. "And would you please give it a rest with the 'illustrious' Mari Makinami? Please?"

"Yeah, Lizzie," muttered another girl from off to the side. "That bit got old a long time ago."

"Aw, c'mon, April!" Lizzie protested, looking over at the other girl as she came up to them. "It's classic!"

"For you, maybe," April countered in an even manner. "But I know if I had to put up with people doing it all the time..."

"Exactly. Besides, I spent about a month getting it from my cousins while I was on vacation, remember?" Mari added, wincing as she thought back to that less than wonderful time. "And that certainly sucked whatever funny that bit had left out of it."

Now Lizzie was the one making a face. "Ooh, right. You told us about that," the blonde muttered sheepishly. "I keep forgetting about those creeps."

"I wish I could say the same," Mari admitted with a rueful smile. "Anyway, let's get going. The less time I have to waste here, the better."

"Here, here!" Lizzie sounded, grinning in agreement. "Hey, let's drop by the mall and raid the food court! I'm starving!"

"Now there's a surprise!" Mari smirked in a knowing manner. Lizzie possessed such an enormous appetite that she ate at virtually every opportunity, as well as a metabolism that insured that she remained supermodel thin. "What about you, April? You in the mood for a little mall-crawling?"

Pressing her lips together, April visibly considered the matter before shrugging. "Why not?" she finally decided with good humor. "Besides, I need to stock up on some stuff from the vitamin shop."

"Let me guess; more diet pills?" Lizzie gathered as the three girls started forward. "I don't know why you bother with all that junk. Trust me, you're not gonna spontaneously blimp out just from eating a few hamburgers!"

"Says the girl who can clean out an all-you-can-eat buffet and not gain a pound," April remarked, giving Lizzie's slender waist an envious look.

Chuckling at this, Mari decided to break in and say, "Okay, so we want to go to the mall, and we're still here at school. What's wrong with this picture?" Noting that her words had had the desired effect of getting her friends, the magenta-haired girl started forward and waved for the others to follow. "C'mon, let's get going already!"

"Here, here!" Lizzie grinned, quickly moving to follow, with April not far behind. Prompting Mari to smile that much more as the three of them set out towards their destination.

It wasn't long before the unlikely trio reached the mall, and while it wasn't the largest such structure Mari had ever been to, it was large enough to have a good selection for when she or her fellow students wanted to get in a bit afterschool shopping, and it was convenient enough to get to by bus, by bike, or even on foot. And it had a good-sized food court, the perfect place for a trio of not-quite teenage girls to kick back, relax, and shoot the breeze while enjoying a snack after a long day of being bored to tears.

"Say, Mari," Lizzie started around a mouthful of cheeseburger. The blonde having lost no time whatsoever in chowing down. "I am sorry about the whole 'Illustrious' bit. You know I was just playing with you, right?"

"I know," Mari replied good-naturedly before taking a bite of a slice of pizza.

"But...you know, there's something I've been wondering," Lizzie went on, pausing just long enough to swallow the mouthful of burger before continuing. "Why the heck would anybody call their kid 'Illustrious'?! I mean seriously! What kind of name is that?!"

"Uh, the kind I was given?" Mari answered helplessly. When the other two girls gave her confused looks, the magenta-haired girl shrugged helplessly. "Actually, I asked my Mom about that once myself. And..."

"And...?" April frowned as Mari trailed off, a frown that deepened that when she failed to continue. "Mari, if it's...personal, or..."

"No, sorry. I didn't...well..." Heaving a sigh, Mari forced a smile back on her face. She really didn't like it when she let herself get down about something. The loss of her mother had hurt her and her father badly, and that pain was still with her. She knew that, and as much as she didn't like it, she had managed to come to terms with it. And she also knew that being sad or crying or let herself dwell on how much she had been hurt would do nothing to make her feel better, or would it make things the way they had once been.

Life's too short to waste it on tears, Mari thought, one of the many thoughts that had been inscribed in the journals. And with this thought, she reinforced the smile she wore. "Anyway, Mom once told me that she had been reading one of her old journals - you know, the old war journals she'd inherited from her parents? I did tell you about those, right?" Both April and Lizzie nodded. "Anyway, she'd been reading about my great-grandma Peggy, how she'd gotten married to my great-grandpa? It turns out that they were hitched on the ship she'd been serving on at the time; an aircraft carrier, the HMS Illustrious."

"Oh!" Lizzie gaped around another mouthful of hamburger. "So that's why...?

Nodding, Mari shrugged and went on to say, "Of course, Dad, he wasn't too thrilled about it, but...well, when Mom wanted something, she usually got it." Then she grinned and added, "Besides, she told me that she wanted to make sure I never forgot that I had an 'illustrious' family history! So…"

"So she lumbered you with it as a middle name?!" Lizzie exclaimed, taking another huge bit from her burger.

Mari couldn't help but smile at her friend. "If you think Illustrious is strange, you should have heard some of the names kids were given way back when!" she informed her friends. "Seriously, people would name them things like Prudence, Perseverance, Faith..."

"Seriously?!" Lizzie wondered in clear disbelief.

"I'm totally serious," Mari assured her friends.

Raising an eyebrow at Mari, April hesitated before saying, "You know...if it weren't for the fact that you know more about history than me and Lizzie put together, I'd be tempted to chalk this up as another of your jokes."

Again, Mari shrugged. "Anyway, it's not like I mind having 'Illustrious' in my name," she admitted with a wry smirk. "It might make me the butt of a few jokes, but it sure gets me attention!"

"No kidding!" Lizzie snickered. "I still remember when we first met, and how the teacher had us each come up to the head of the class and write out names down on the chalkboard. I thought he was gonna have a spiz-fit when he saw yours!"

Chuckling at the memory of this, despite the fact that she had not had the slightest bit of fun trying to convince the irate teacher that, yes indeed, Illustrious was in fact her middle name, Mari was brought back to the present when April cleared her throat. "Well, as much fun as this has all been...can we talk about something else?" the brunette quietly asked. "What about...your vacation? How was that?"

"Aside from the jerks, of course," Lizzie chimed in with a wry look.

"Hmm...pretty much the usual stuff," Mari eventually answered. "I try to ignore the fact that Eddy and Jake exist, I help out with some of the chores on the farm, and Aunt Sharon and Uncle Jonathan spend time with me and Dad, taking us around to the see the sights, and basically spoiling me rotten." The bespectacled girl chuckled before adding, "Always love that part."

"So do we. Especially when we get all the goodies you're always sniffing out during your shopping excursions," Lizzie smirked. "Not to mention all the pictures and videos!"

Smiling somewhat at that, April chimed in, "Sure beats my family vacation; yet another trip to my uncle's cabin."

"Yeah. Just you, your family...and half the mosquitoes on the planet!" Mari remarked with a roll of her eyes. "It's too bad you two can't come with us on our trip. I'd love to be able to show you all the sights."

"And we'd love for you to show us the sights, too!" Lizzie remarked.

Smiling at that notion, April then asked, "What about your cousins? They didn't do anything...too bad, did they?"

"You mean aside from using up perfectly good oxygen?" Mari asked with a wide smile. "Just their usual asshole tricks." Then she rolled her eyes and added, "I'm just glad that Uncle Jonathon finally got rid of that old outdoor stove of his. I was really getting sick of them stuffing me into it and going on about how they were gonna cook me."

While April was groaning sympathetically, Lizzie smirked. "It's about time!" she declared happily. "Why'd he keep that thing around, anyway? I thought you said he didn't use it!"

"He didn't. But the damn thing was huge! Getting rid of the thing would take more than just one person. And needless to say, a certain pair of jerks weren't willing to get rid of their favorite implement of torture," Mari explained. "He finally decided to hire some company to dispose of the thing." Then she ginned a sadistic grin and added, "Of course, that's going to be coming out of Ed and Jake's allowances."

"Ooh, so they got doubly punished!" Lizzie grinned before biting into her burger while April chuckled deep in her throat. "Serves the jerks right!"

Nodding to this, Mari then leaned in and grinned. "Of course, that's not gonna stop me from finding some way of paying those creeps back for all the 'fun' they've had with me."

Practically spitting out her burger in laughter, Lizzie instead managed to swallow it. "Well, not that isn't great, listening to your jokes and all, but I have to get going!" the blonde informed them. "Mr. Bascom has assigned this totally impossible essay for this weekend!"

"Ugh," Mari groaned sympathetically, painfully aware of Bascom's preferred method of teaching. He subscribed to the theory that weekends were exclusively for homework, and unless you were completely miserable, then you really weren't learning anything. "What a creep. Killing off a perfectly good weekend like that."

"You know it!" Lizzie groaned as she got to her feet. "Well, I better get going. I've got to see if there's some way I can disguise a load of bull as an essay that won't rate me an 'F'!"

"Good luck with that," April told their friend as she departed. "Bascom's a jerk, but he sees through bull like you won't believe."

"I know! Believe me, I know!" Lizzie spoke as she headed for the door.

As soon as their friend was gone, the remaining two girls exchanged looks. "Well, I better get going, too," Mari confessed wryly. "If I know Dad, he'll probably have a heart attack if I'm not home soon!"

"Right," April returned sympathetically. "Besides, Lizzie's not the only one who's got homework for the weekend."

"Ditto," Mari agreed as she picked up her backpack.

"Uh, one more thing," April piped up, causing Mari to pause. "Are you gonna be trying out for the baseball team again this year?"

"What, are you kidding me?!" Mari declared, astonished that April would even ask. "You know I am! It's about the only thing that makes school livable!"

"Just checking. I wanted to know if I should show up to root for you, that's all," April explained. "Guess I'll see you on Monday."

Smiling at this, Mari replied, "Catch ya later, April!"

As the two girls separated, Mari paused to stretch her legs a bit before heading towards the door. Fortunately, she lived close enough to the mall that it wouldn't take long for her to get home on foot. Still...I probably should call Dad. Let him know why I'm running late, she thought as she walked through the corridors. Then she made a face and added, Of course, it might have been better if I'd thought about that before we stopped in to eat...

Taking a moment to deliver a swift mental kick to her posterior, Mari sighed and brought forth her cell phone. Quickly hitting the speed dial, she placed the phone to her ear and waited. Several rings were heard, until at last she got the automated message saying that the party she was trying to call wasn't responding, and that she should try again. Huh. That's strange, Mari thought as she folded up her phone. It's not like Dad to not answer...and I know he's home! So...

Pressing her lips together, she eventually shrugged off her confusion. Eh, it's probably no big deal, Mari eventually decided. He's probably just taking a nap or something. And with this thought, she set out for home, slowly breaking into song as she broke into an easy run.

When Mari reached her neighborhood, her singing had faded as she found herself increasingly in need of oxygen to continue her current pace. The sound of her heart beating, the feel of physical exertion and adrenaline, the sweet spring air elevating her spirits as she picked up speed. Taking in the familiar sights of the all-American city that was her home.

And speaking of home...! Mari thought as she found herself less than a block away from her house. I hope Dad really is taking a nap! The last thing I want right now is a lecture, or...huh?

Slowing to a halt, Mari frowned, blinking and adjusting her glasses to make sure that she was seeing what she was seeing. For in the warm, familiar setting of her neighborhood, sitting in her driveway was a long, black car that she did not recognize. I don't know anybody who owns a car like that. It sure isn't one of Dad's friends, she thought with a heavy frown. So...what the...has something...?

Then Mari frowned, pushing her questions to the side. Standing around wondering what was going on and letting her imagination run away, spinning up one worst-case scenario after another wouldn't tell her what that car was doing there, or anything else for that matter. So she broke into a run, making a dash for her home, until she had reached the driveway and was standing next to the unknown car. It was jet black, didn't have so much as a single scratch on the paint, and was of a make she didn't recognize. Then she checked the license plate, and saw that the car was from out of state.

"I've got a bad feeling about this..." Mari murmured to herself, well aware that they hadn't been expecting any company from out of town, and certainly not from the state the car had come from. This was looking less and less innocent by the minute. With the fact that her father didn't answer her phone earlier prompting her to furrow her brows and consider the matter. With her ultimately realizing that, at that point, there was little she could do except to keep moving forward.

Moving with more caution than she liked, Mari scanned her home. As was usual, all the curtains were drawn, a habit her father had maintained so that nobody could just peek inside and see what they were doing. And while this was normal enough, it also limited her options to pretty much going inside and hoping like crazy nothing was wrong. So she took a deep breath and proceeded up the stairs to her front door.

Pausing to check and memorize the license plate, just in case, she then made her way up the steps to the front door. On the alert for anything that might give her a clue as to what was going on, she brought out her keys. Then she frowned, and instead she decided to try the doorknob. To her dismay, the door came open without protest.

Okay, it's official! Something is definitely wrong! Mari knew, frowning intently as she eased the door open. One of her father's big rules was that the doors remained locked at all times. Friends come over, wild party, Third Impact wiping out all life on Earth, it didn't matter. The only time the door was to be unlocked was while it was immediately in use. This, plus a strange black car and her father's failure to answer the phone equaled trouble in Mari's mind.

Tensing for the worst, Mari slowly pushed the door, easing it open and doing her best to do so as silently and unnoticeably as possible, peering through the increasing space between door and doorframe and trying to spot anything or anyone that didn't belong. When she failed to see anything amiss, the magenta-haired girl gingerly proceeded inward, pausing just long enough to close and lock the door behind her before proceeding.

"Dad?" Mari started to call out, but brought her hands to her mouth before so much as a syllable escaped her lips. Like any girl her age, she had seen her share of movies depicting this very scenario, and if there was someone around who ought not be there, then her calling out to her father would only serve to tip off any intruders that they were no longer alone.

If I'm wrong and I wind up scaring Dad, I can always apologize, Mari decided as she crept forward, making her way to the living room. And if I'm right...then I better be ready to call for help, because I - oh, no!

Her eyes going wide with shock, Mari stopped cold at the sight of her father, sprawled out on the couch. His arm and head hanging limply over the side, a pained expression on his face. "Dad!" she cried out in shock, rushing towards him without a second thought.

"Hold it!" came an unfamiliar voice, followed by a blur of motion that Mari saw out of the corner of her eye. Before she could do anything to respond, a pair of powerful arms snaked about her, pinning her arms to her chest and stopping her in place, with a hand firmly placed over her mouth.

"Sorry about that, little girl," came the voice as Mari struggled futilely against her captor, her attempts at profanity muffled as he bent down to look her in the face. "But we really can't have you causing any commotion. We don't want to disturb the neighbors, after all."

"Alan, please. Be a bit more gentle," came another voice. As Mari stood helpless, a bland, boring looking man dressed in typical Man in Black garments stepped into view, a gentle smile on his face as he looked at her. "Ms. Makinami, I presume?" The bespectacled girl growled deeply in her throat and thrashed about in her captor's arms a bit, prompting the intruder to smile sadly. "I wish to apologize for our intrusion."

That's not the only thing you're gonna be apologizing for, shithead! Mari thought vehemently as she darted a glance at her prone father.

Following Mari's gaze, the short-haired man shrugged helplessly. "Don't worry, your father's going to be okay," he assured her. "I'm sorry, but...our orders were to avoid attracting any attention at all costs. When we...invited ourselves in, your father was...extremely difficult. So my...associate deemed it necessary to tranquilize him."

"Yeah, and I've got another dart with your name on it," the man restraining Mari intoned in a cold voice. "So if you keep squirming..."

"Alan, please. We're the intruders here, remember? You can't blame Ms. Makinami for being upset," the bland agent intoned in a disarming voice. Reaching into his jacket, he slowly brought out his wallet and let it flop open before Mari. "I'm Agent Philip Coulson, and my associate is Agent Alan Hager. We're with the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate." Returning his wallet to his jacket, Coulson studied the girl for a time before explain. "And as for why we're here...we have orders to bring you and your father to meet with our CO." Snarling deeply and wishing that it didn't come out so garbled, Mari redoubled her efforts. "I realize you must be very angry about this, but I promise you that, if you can just remain calm, we can handle this smoothly, and without any further incidents."

"And if you insist on being a brat, I'll just tranq you and we'll cart you away, anyway," Hager gruffly declared as Mari continued to squirm. "So either way, you're coming with us. So you might as well - yeargh!"

Hager's grip on Mari's face had slipped. Not much, but just enough to allow her the chance to bite his hand. And so she did, and as hard as she could. So hard that she could taste the blood spilling from Hager's hand. "Why, you little - ow!" the creep cried out as his captive drove her heel down on his toes with as much force as she could. Stricken with pain, Hager's grip loosened just enough for Mari to take full advantage of it by driving her elbow squarely into his family jewels.

"Fuck off, assholes!" Mari snarled, flinging herself away from the collapsed agent, already intent on getting as much distance as she could from these people and calling the police.

But before she could take even a dozen steps, Mari felt two arms snake under her shoulders. "I really am sorry about this, Ms. Makinami," sounded Coulson's voice, still calm as ever as he lifted her up off her feet. Something that truly infuriated the girl. "But I do need you to settle down."

Growling as she was carried back into the living room, dangling helplessly in Coulson's arms, Mari snarled, "I'll settle your ass, you goddamn - ow!"

"Stupid brat!" came Hager's voice even as Mari looked down...and saw a large dart sticking out of her chest. "I told you to keep quiet, but no! You just had to cause us trouble!" Already, the sedative was taking effect, fogging the girl's senses, causing the world to blur around her and her attacker's voice to be distorted as he hissed, "Aw, damn! I'm bleeding all over the place!"

Her mind badly garbled by the tranquilizer, Mari remained conscious just long enough to mutter, "Glad to hear it...shithead..." Then the world tilted at a ninety degree angle, and everything went black.

"Well...that could hardly have gone any worse," Coulson noted ruefully as he carefully lay the girl he held down on the floor.

"I told you I should have just darted that brat as soon as she came in!" Hager growled as he tried to stop the bleeding. "Would've saved us a whole lot of trouble!"

"And I told you that that was a mistake. Just like threatening her was," Coulson reprimanded his fellow agent. "We need this girl's help. Her cooperation. We're not going to get that by pushing her around and threatening her."

"Hey, our job is just to get her to Dugan, remember?" Hager muttered sourly. "As far as I'm concerned, getting her to cooperate is his job, not ours!"

"Maybe, but it's also not our job to make his any harder." Then Coulson sighed, for there was no getting around the fact that the damage had been done. "Alright. Let's get them to the car. I'll call Major Dugan, let him know what happened. Get him to make sure that the local LEOs don't interfere."

"Right, right," Hager grumbled, still focused on his hand.

"And please, try to be a bit more careful about how we get them out of here," Coulson instructed his fellow agent. "There's a lot riding on this girl. If anybody finds out what we've learned about her...we might as well have signed her death warrant."

Author's Notes: After all this time, a new Superwoman of Eva joins the rest of the girls! Please, read and review! And maybe check out my other stories, please?

Now, I know I probably ought to have my head examined for starting up another SOE story with so many other works in progress, especially with the SOE2 series started. And I just know that Mike313 is going to have something to say to me, especially after the concerns I expressed when I learned just how many stories he was going to write on that one, but I've been considering involving Mari ever since I learned of her. And while I suppose I could ask another author to do her, this is something I really want to do myself.

Don't get me wrong, I love what Archdruid-Sephiroth and The Rei-Fan have done with their stories. Not only have they done an admirable job of fleshing out the video game girls, but they also came up with things I doubt I would have come up with myself. But I was recently inspired by an angle taken by Mike313 with "Dark Lady of Tokyo-3". A superwoman who doesn't fight the Angels nearly as much as she hangs around in the background, exploring the depths of Tokyo-3 and NERV. And that's something I want to do myself.

Besides, I recently saw some footage from one of the "Rebuild" movies, in which we see Mari doing battle against the 14th Angel. Now, I'm not going to spoil it for anyone, but she just flat-out kicks so much ass in that battle. And judging from what I've seen and heard about her, not only do I think I like her, but I think she might be the second best girl to wind up with Shinji (The first being Misato, of course).

With this overhaul, I decided to bring in elements from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Watching those movies and some of the other recent Marvel releases has really given me some major inspiration for making my stories even better, and also gave me some ideas for filling some of the plot holes in this story.

Well, now that that's taken care of, it's on to the omakes!

Omake 1

"Mari?" a heavy voice rang out. "Where are you?"

"Eep!" was the none-too-clever response that Mari emitted. Jumping halfway out of her skin, the magenta-haired girl then fell on her back, groaning at the puff of dust that resulted of her impact.

"Mari?" came the same masculine voice. This time with greater impatience. "Come on down! It's time for dinner!"

Oh, right. Dinner. Forgot about that, Mari thought sheepishly. Blinking away the dust that surrounded her, she looked about the attic of her home, and found the normally familiar surroundings blurred. Sitting back up, she looked blindly about, until she spotted something lying on the floor next to her. Gently reaching for it, she smiled at the feel of her glasses, and quickly put them back on her face.

"Um…I'll be right down, Dad!" Mari called out as she got to her feet and hurriedly dusted herself off.

"Where are you?" her father demanded. A beat passed before he spoke again, this time with considerable displeasure. "Mari Illustrious Makinami, if you've been reading those smutty books again -!"

"No, of course not!" Mari quickly lied as she hid away her great-grandmother Peggy's journal away, her cheeks still burning as she thought of some of the scintillating details her ancestor had recorded about her experiences with the various men she had met in her life.

Seriously, though, how can Dad expect me not to read this stuff! It's even hotter than what they've got on HBO! Mari thought, still thinking of the contents of that journal. Besides, I bet it'll come in really handy when it comes time to get me a boyfriend!

Omake 2

Growling as she was carried back into the living room, dangling helplessly in Coulson's arms, Mari snarled, "I'll settle your ass, you goddamn - ow!"

"Stupid brat!" came Hager's voice even as Mari looked down...and saw a large dart sticking out of her chest. "I told you to keep quiet, but no! You just had to cause us trouble!" Already, the sedative was taking effect, fogging the girl's senses, causing the world to blur around her and her attacker's voice to be distorted as he hissed, "Aw, damn! I'm bleeding all over the place!"

Her mind badly garbled by the tranquilizer, Mari felt her head roll to the side. "Oooh..." she groaned, her eyes dancing about in their sockets. "That it! No more...Mr. Nice Guy!"

As Coulson blinked uncertainly, Hager groaned despondently. "Aw, damn...not her, too...!"

"Would you all like to hear a song?" Mari asked, a dopey smile on her face. "Daisy, Daisy...give me your answer do! I'm...half crazy...all for the...love of you!"

"I don't believe this!" Hager muttered, smacking himself in the face. "First a recital of 'Swan Lake' from her old man, and now this?!"

"It could be worse," Coulson remarked as Mari continued to sing. "Remember what happened when we shot up that sniper in Budapest?"

An expression of horrified disgust crossing Hager's face, he moaned and pleaded, "Phil, please! You promised not to talk about that ever again!"

"Help me...Obi-Wan Kenobi!" Mari went on, heedless of the two agents. "That's not a moon...it's a space station!"