Disclaimer: Neon Genesis Evangelion is the creation of Anno and Gainax. I don't own it, make no claims to it, and am making no profit from the fan fiction. No infringement of copyright is intended. In other words, please don't sue.

Disclaimer: I do not own DC Comics or anything associated with it, and I am making no profit from this fan fiction. No infringement of copyright is intended. In other words, please don't sue.

Chapter One: Golden Opportunity

"Father! Stop this crazy thing! Stop!" Shinji screamed helplessly as he pulled uselessly on Unit One's control yokes. "I beg of you, stop!"

But the Third Child's pleas fell on deaf ears, or more accurately, a stone heart. Gendo Ikari said nothing as he watched, from the safety of headquarters, as the two Evangelions—one possessed by an Angel, the other by the Dummy System—tore into one another.

Eventually, there was a wet, sickening snap as Unit Three's neck broke, and from that point, there was really no need for the Dummy Plug any longer. Any justification Gendo might have had to keep the untested autopilot system running evaporated, but he refused to give the order to deactivate it.

"Father! No more! Stop it! Please, make it stop!" Shinji cried, his screams starting to sound very much like sobs.

But Gendo did not, and Unit One continued, its eyes blazing with a red, demonic light. It tore Unit Three apart without mercy, spraying the landscape with blood and scattering dismembered body parts everywhere. Until finally, Unit One held Unit Three's plug in its hand.

"No!" Shinji shrieked. "No!"

The entry plug was crushed in Unit One's fist like an empty soda can, sending LCL splashing to the ground.

Suddenly, the world shattered, and the universe was nothing but blackness. Blackness, and a single folding chair, upon which sat a woman with short brown hair.

"Even after the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun have disappeared, Evangelion will remain," Yui Ikari said bitterly, still unable to believe how stupidly idealistic she'd been when she'd first spoken those words.

Have you ever had a particularly bad night? The kind where you spend hours trying to sleep, and eventually end up in a sort of half-awake state? The sort of state where you never quite know if you're dreaming or not, and reality tends to flit maddeningly in and out?

This was the state that Yui Ikari had spent more than a decade in, as she was trapped within Unit One. Her entire universe had become a purgatory where she sometimes remembered who and what she was, and what immortality had cost her, and where she sometimes just floated in the bewildering darkness, unable to recall her own name with certainty.

Until today. Today she had gained a level of clarity, though it was one she did not desire. Today, she had been tricked by her husband and the Dummy System, and she had hurt her son, who had already endured so much because of her foolishness as well as her husband's cruelty and inability to accept the loss he'd suffered.

Today, she had decided two things.

The first was that Evangelion Unit One would never function for Gendo again. She would only ever allow Shinji to pilot the EVA now.

The second was that purgatory was too good for her. So, with her greater clarity and greater control over the world within EVA, she had turned her world into a Hell. The worst kind of Hell she could imagine.

The world abruptly reformed, showing the first three Evangelion Units standing near Mount Nobe. The sun was low and as red as blood in the sky, and the air was charged with the apprehension of upcoming battle.

"An accident in Matsushiro?" She heard her son speak worriedly, even though she stood on the ground, far away from her only child. "Is Misato all right?"

Yui Ikari looked up and waited for the scene to play itself out again, biting her lower lip slightly as she submitted to her self-administered torture.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a man sat within a tower.

Once upon a time, this man had been young and bold, and he had fought evil in many forms, both mundane and supernatural. Once upon a time he'd walked along paths and through realms that most mortal men who go mad upon simply seeing. Once upon a time he'd commanded incredible powers which could change the world, and change the world he did, though always without attracting much attention to himself.

Those days, however, were over. He still had incredible power at his fingertips, but he was tired of using them. In fact, he was very tired in general. He felt that it was time for him to be done fighting the good fight.

The man abruptly reached up and grabbed the helmet that rested upon his head, applying all his strength to the task of pulling it off. However, it held fast; he couldn't so much as budge it.

"Damnation," he hissed.

Once upon a time, a very powerful entity had inhabited his helm. However, one of the many things that Second Impact brought an end to was the Ninth Age of Magic. The entity which possessed the helm had slowly withered and died in the Tenth Age, but a residue of him remained, and that wouldn't let him put down the mantle he'd carried for so long until he found someone else to take it up.

Unfortunately, finding a successor was harder than it might seem, because while power came with his station, so, too, did responsibility. And that responsibility had grown truly cumbersome indeed in this dark age for mankind. Additionally, it took considerable intelligence to do what he did.

In short, most of those who could succeed him wouldn't, because they were too smart. Most of those who would succeed him couldn't, because they weren't smart enough.

"Who would take my place?" he whispered to himself. Then in an angry, despairing roar, "Who would take my place?!"

The words echoed through both his helmet and his tower, and suddenly he felt overwhelming loneliness. His tower had not always been so empty, but the days when he had not been alone in it were also firmly consigned to the land of once upon a time. The man's shoulders slumped.

Suddenly, there was flare of light, and the man turned his head to look at the source of it. In the center of the room where he stood was an orb. It looked like it was made out of glass, but it was much, much more than a simple glass bauble.

"What do you have to show me?" he asked as he peered into the depths of the all seeing orb.

He remained where he was, unmoving, for over an hour, as the orb showed him everything. Finally, the light in it dimmed, and the man pulled away, blinking.

"It's insane," he mused aloud, "but it just might work."

As he said these words, there was another flare of light, but not from the orb. The man stepped into it and vanished from the tower.

Unit One tore Unit Three apart again without mercy, spraying the landscape with blood and scattering dismembered body parts everywhere. Until finally, Unit One held Unit Three's plug in its hand once more.

"No!" Shinji shrieked again. "No!"

The entry plug was crushed in Unit One's fist like an empty soda can, sending LCL splashing to the ground.

As her son's suffering reached a crescendo again, Yui Ikari's self-made perdition once more broke, leaving her in the relatively comforting blackness. She put her face in her hands as she tried to collect herself before she began it all over again.

However, before she could, there was a flare of light before her, bright enough for her to see it through her fingers, and Yui looked up to see that what appeared to be a large ankh made from golden light had formed before her.

"What in the world?" she muttered to herself.

As she watched, a man stepped through the light, and it suddenly vanished behind him.

"Dr. Yui Ikari?" the man asked, tilting his head downwards slightly to look at her. His voice had a powerful, otherworldly sound to it, and it seemed to echo within his helmet.

"You're real, aren't you?" Yui blurted out. "Not in my head, I mean."

It wasn't the most polite thing she could have said perhaps, but Yui hadn't spoken to another person in over ten years, so her lack of social graces was perhaps understandable.

"How do you know?" the man asked, tilting his head slightly to the side, possibly bemused.

"Well," Yui said, "you don't look like a product of my imagination, and I certainly never met you before, so you're not from my memory."

The latter thing was something Yui was absolutely positive about, since she would definitely have remembered someone who went around in a costume like the one this man was wearing. He was clad in blue and gold from head to toe. His pants and shirt were both of a deep blue, but his boots, belt, gloves, and the long flowing cape he wore were all bright yellow. A golden amulet in the shape of a simple circle hung around his neck.

However, the helmet was really the man's biggest fashion statement. It was roughly bullet-shaped, with a short fin on the top. It covered his whole head, except for parts of the side, where notches had been made to accommodate his ears. On the front were slits through which Yui could see faded blue eyes.

"It's true that I am no product of your mind," the man said, "though I suppose it's not strictly correct to say I'm not in your head, since this entire realm falls into that category."

"Okay," Yui said. "Who are you?"

"My name is Kent Nelson," the man replied, "however, most know me as Doctor Fate. I am one of the most powerful sorcerers in the world."

"I see," was all Yui said, sounding more uncertain than awed.

She was a scientist, but one who had, during her study of the Angels and the construction of the Evangelions, come to terms with the fact that there were things in the universe which mankind might never be able to comprehend. All too often during the development of Unit One, they'd proceeded by using trial-and-error methods, discovering what worked without ever being able to so much as guess at why it worked.

However, the idea of a man wielding magical powers still didn't strike her as quite plausible.

"I have been Fate since before you were born, Yui Ikari, and I grow weary of wearing the helmet," Fate said. "It is time I chose someone to take my place, and you are the most likely candidate. Accept, and you will wield incredible powers, though it shall become your burden to protect this world from the demonic and supernatural forces that would invade it and spread chaos. Decline, and I shall leave here and never return."

Yui hesitated for a long, long moment. When she spoke, it was a small voice, one laced with more fear than anything else. "Let's say you're real, and your offer is real," she began.

"That would be most productive, since I am, and it is," Fate replied.

"Why me? What makes me deserving of this?" Yui asked. "I had great power once, great power. I worked with some of the most powerful men on the planet, and I played with God's toys. I made a god, or something so similar to one that the difference was academic. I sought to ensure humanity's immortality. All I managed to do was get myself trapped within here and bring unending pain to my only son. If I had power again…"

She trailed off and shook her head.

Dr. Fate paused for a moment, and when he spoke next, it was in a much gentler tone than he had used thus far. "Tell me your story, Yui Ikari," he said. "I would hear it."

So she told him. She didn't know why she told it to this mystery man she had just met, whose face she hadn't even seen. Maybe it was because she wanted to confess, and there was no one else to confess to. Maybe it was because she wanted him to tell her it was all right. Maybe it was because she wanted him to tell her that she was as undeserving as she thought she was, so she could decline his own and go back to her self-inflicted torment.

Yet whatever the reason, she told him everything. How she'd met a young man named Gendo Rokubungi while they were in college. How the two had, not long after graduation, come into contact with an organization known as SEELE. How they had married and had a son. How they had built GEHRIN, and how Yui had fancied herself as building the future there. How she had known of or at least suspected the more unsavory things SEELE did to advance their plans. How she had decided to become the ghost in the machine.

"I never planned to make my son watch that," Yui said, sitting down on her uncomfortable metal folding chair. "Even at my most foolishly idealistic, my most arrogant, I never thought that would be a good idea. But it happened all the same, and now everything's falling apart because my husband can't accept the loss of me."

The whole time she talked, Fate offered neither comfort nor scorn, just listening silently. She couldn't see his face, so she couldn't even take a guess at how he was reacting to her story.

Finally, when she had finished her tale, he went down on one knee so he was roughly eye level with her, then he gently raised her chin so she was looking into his faded blue eyes.

"You have made many grave mistakes in your time, Yui Ikari," Fate said, and his tone was not unkind. "That I will not dispute. But tell me… tell of me of the things you've done right in your life. Tell me of your son."

Despite herself, despite everything, Yui smiled. "Shinji, well, Shinji's kind, and compassionate, and a gentleman. He's timid most of the time, which isn't exactly a surprise given the upbringing he's had, but he can be so brave when it really matters. He's… he's the only truly good thing I ever created."

"And you have had to watch helplessly for over ten years as your husband treated him as nothing more than a means to end to get you back," Fate said. "And then when the wheels of his terrible machine began to turn, you had to see your son bear the weight of the world upon his shoulders, and suffer horribly, and now, you were fooled into badly harming one of his few friends. Is that correct?"

"Yes," Yui said.

"Then don't you think you've suffered enough?" Fate asked simply.

Yui looked up at him, her watery green eyes filled with the fragile hope that she had already served her penance.

"Don't you think that you must forgive yourself, for your son's sake if not for your own, so that you can accept your one chance to change things?" Fate asked.

Yui wiped at her eyes. "Yes."

"Then my offer is accepted?" Fate asked, standing up again. "You will become my successor?"

"Hold on a moment there, Doctor," Yui said. "There are still a couple of problems. For one thing, I can't come and go like you apparently can. My soul's trapped inside Unit One."

Fate scoffed. "You think that would pose a problem to one such as I?"

"Also, I don't have a body of my own any longer," Yui added. "It was destroyed long ago."

"The body is just crude stuff, just matter," Fate said. "I can easily use my magic to craft you a new one."

"In that case, yes, I will be your successor," Yui said. "You had better not just be some kind of delusion."

"That you need not fear," Fate said, and with a wave of his hand, created another ankh-shaped portal of light. "Ladies first."

Taking a deep breath, Yui quickly stepped through the light. There was no thunder and lightning, no long, psychedelic tunnel through space. Instead, she immediately arrived right at the other side.

"Where are we?" she asked Fate, who had followed her through and then closed the portal.

They were standing by a wooden house, which looked old but well-maintained. All around the house, as far as the idea could see, was empty field, in which shrubbery grew without restraint. The place would have been fairly nondescript if not for the fact that everything had a golden hue to it, including, Yui realized as she looked down at her hands, she herself.

"We're within the Amulet of Anubis," Fate said, indicating the simple circle of gold which hung around his neck. "The real version rests with my physical body."

"A simple piece of gold can act as a repository for souls?" Yui asked, eyes widening.

"Yes," Fate said. "However, it is beyond even my power to craft such an object. This amulet was made by Anubis himself, and given to one of his followers. However, Nabu, one of the Lords of Order, eventually took it from him and later bequeathed it to me."

"Nabu? Lords of Order?" Yui asked.

"Yes, the Lords of Order and the Lords of Chaos were nearly-divine beings who were perpetually struggling against one another," Fate said. "They balanced one another out, after a fashion. Nabu created this helmet I now wear. His essence once resided in it, but now there is only a faint residue of his presence—it is what prevents me from removing the helm before my successor is ready to take it from me."

"I see… I think," Yui said.

Fate waved a hand dismissively. "It is largely a moot topic. The Tenth Age of Magic began not long ago, and it is an age in which the Lords of Order and Chaos do not fit. They are all gone now. I do not know whether that will make your time as Fate easier or more difficult than mine."

Yui nodded, trying to squelch the feeling that she'd gotten in very deep over her head.

Remember, this is for your son, she thought.

"Well, to work," Fate said. "Before I pass the mantle to you, you must learn how to use magic without the helmet's power first. I hope you are ready to learn."

From that moment on, Yui's life became a blur of instruction. She lost track of time as Dr. Fate mercilessly drilled her on the principles of magic and its execution. Magic was strange to her; in some ways it was like science, but in other ways, the two disciplines were completely different. There were rules to magic, just as there were rules to science, but those rules could often be bent, if not broken, as long as one was clever enough.

The first time Yui managed to successfully perform a spell, she was so shocked that she instantly allowed it to fall apart. She soon lost track of how much time she'd spent learning, knowing only that it was more than a day but less than a week.

At last, Fate proclaimed that her training was sufficient and departed, saying he was going to prepare her new body.

Fate returned to his physical body with a jolt, then grimaced beneath his helmet, feeling his joints scream in protest at being forced into motion after such a long period of idleness. After getting up, the first thing he did was perhaps the least mystical thing he could have done: he went to the bathroom.

With his business having been taken care of, Fate returned to his study. Once there, he touched the amulet that rested around his neck with his fingertips. Then his hand began to glow with violet light. He directed the luminous energy to the center of the room, where it formed into the shape of a woman, specifically, Yui Ikari.

The body, which was clad in a simple skirt and blouse combination along with a white lab coat, just stood there, its eyes completely blank. Fate frowned and looked down at his amulet, then he took it off his neck and placed it upon the body's.

Immediately, Yui released a gasp and staggered backwards. She would have fallen, but Fate reached out and steadied her.

"Oh my," Yui said, putting a hand to her temple. "That was… an experience."

Fate grunted in agreement. "I was unable to fully transfer your soul from my amulet to your new body," he informed her, taking the gold circle in his hand. "It would seem that all the abuse your soul has taken, having been transferred from your body to the EVA in so brutal a fashion, has damaged it too much for another full transportation."

"So what does that mean?" Yui asked apprehensively.

"It means that you must never remove this amulet," Fate said. "Also, don't ever barter your soul away. You won't get a good price for it."

"Right," Yui quickly agreed.

Not that I was planning on selling my soul anyway, she added silently as she took in their surroundings.

They were in a stone chamber which was part of a much larger structure. Egyptian artifacts packed the room, and a large, four poster bed sat in one corner. Beyond the large doorway was an absolute maze of tunnels and staircases. It reminded Yui of a painting she'd seen once, 'Relativity'.

"Where are we?" she asked.

"My tower," Fate replied. "Though I suppose it is your tower now. You will be able to navigate it with the aid of the helm's powers. Speaking of which…"

Dr. Fate reached up and grabbed the Helm of Nabu with both hands, then pulled upwards. Yui watched with fascination as the metal seemed to warp and twist before her eyes before suddenly relinquishing its hold upon its wearer and reverting to its original shape.

And with it gone, she finally got to see Kent Nelson.

The man was utterly ancient. His body seemed to consist of nothing more than a skeleton covered in loose, sagging skin, and his face was deeply winkled and dotted with liver spots. He still had a full head of hair, but every strand was as white as snow. The rest of his costume had disappeared with the helmet, as he'd told Yui it would, and he was now clad in a simple pair of black pants and a button up shirt.

All in all, he looked impossibly small and frail compared to Doctor Fate.

"Finally," Kent said with a sigh of profound relief, his voice now sounding very normal and very soft, "finally I can give this away forever."

He handed the helm to Yui, which she quickly accepted, more because she feared his gnarled, shaking hands would soon drop it rather than out of any overwhelming desire to possess it.

Once relieved of the helm, Kent went staggering toward his bed. "Finally, finally I can rest."

"Mr. Nelson?" Yui spoke. "Kent?"

He offered her a weary smile as he got himself onto his bed. "The helm was the only thing forcing me to remain on this mortal coil," Kent said. "Now that it's off, I can lay down all my burdens, not just those of Fate."

Yui couldn't honestly say she was surprised, considering Kent's extreme age. "Then I suppose I can't tap your great reservoirs of wisdom any longer," she commented, feeling that she had to say something to this man whom she'd only know for a week or so, but who had given her the chance to make things right.

Kent laughed dryly. "You'll need to depend upon your own, Yui," he said. "By the way, time passes differently in that amulet than it does out here in the 'real world'. We've only spent about a day in there."

Yui nodded. That was good; the less time she'd spent in preparation, the better. Her husband's plans needed to be stopped as soon as possible.

"Thank you, Kent, for everything," she said.

"You're a good person, Yui," Kent replied, his eyes drifting closed. "You made some mistakes, but you learned from them, and that's all anyone can ask of person, when it comes right down to it. Good luck."

Then a smile spread over his face. "I am coming, Inza."

With that, Kent Nelson, the man who had been Fate, exhaled one final time and peacefully died.

Yui stood over the body for a long time, looking down at the man who had managed to give her life back to her, and to whom she had given his death. Then she sighed and waved a hand.

Immediately, flames rose up, lapping hungrily at Kent's body but not even singeing the bed sheets. Within seconds, his body had been entirely consumed, not even leaving ash in its place.

"Rest easy, Kent," Yui said, then she turned her attention to the helmet she had in her hands.

New apprehension clawed at her, now that she'd seen how the helmet had forced Kent to live what had obviously been beyond the time he'd wanted to. However, she pressed her fears down, thinking of her son, and put the helmet on.

The Geofront was a war zone. While the ceiling had been breached more than once, and the Eleventh Angel had managed to lay siege to the MAGI themselves, no Angel had ever set foot upon the cavern's floor.

That record was about to be broken. The Fourteenth Angel had picked the worst possible time to attack, Misato mused. With Unit Zero still damaged from the battle and everyone still reeling from the Thirteenth Angel, NERV hadn't been this ill-prepared for a confrontation since the Third Angel had forced them to essentially blackmail Shinji into the entry plug.

But Shinji wasn't here any longer. Shinji had resigned from NERV.

"What is the status of Rei and Unit One?" Gendo's voice sounded out, and though it was not particularly loud, it cut through the chaos that was consuming the command center like a knife.

"The First Child can't sync with it, sir!" Maya replied.

"Is it rejecting her?" Gendo asked, not sounding very surprised or even disturbed by this development.

It didn't exactly shock him that Yui was rather displeased by what had happened during the last battle. However, Gendo wasn't truly worried; Unit One would still work for Shinji, and he had faith Shinji would return. Not because he had faith in the boy's courage or any other stupidly romantic ideal; Gendo was simply certain that his careful manipulation of his son had caused the boy to need Unit One. Shinji's sense of self had become too strongly linked to the purple destroyer.

"Negative, it's just not activating," Aoba said. "We're reading no brainwaves from the EVA, or any chemical or electrical reactions within it. It's as though Unit One is dead."

That surprised and disturbed the Commander of NERV; being rejected by Unit One was one thing, but complete unresponsiveness was quite another.

Also, he didn't much care for the lieutenant's choice of words. Gendo directed a steely glare down at the long-haired technician, who almost immediately quailed under the Commander's gaze, regardless of not knowing why was on the receiving end of it.

"Fuyutski," Gendo said, rising abruptly from his chair. "Take the conn."

"Yes, sir," Fuyutski replied.

With a curt nod, Gendo left the command center, heading down toward the EVA cages.

"Let's go, Asuka," the Second Child whispered to herself within the confines of her entry plug.

This was it, this was the moment she'd been waiting for. Now it was just her and the most powerful Angel that NERV had yet to face.

Now it was time to see if ten years of training and a childhood sacrificed to preparing for this war had really paid off, or if she was as useless next to the Third Child as she knew people whispered.

A patch of the ceiling suddenly exploded in a burst of orange flame, and the Angel of Might began to descend into the Geofront. It was very vaguely humanoid, with a bulky black-and-white body, short legs, stumpy little arms, and a skull-like face.

Asuka wasted no time in raising the two pallet rifles she held in Unit Two's hands and depressing the triggers. Shells that were normally reserved for the main guns of heavy tanks burst out, forming a nearly solid stream of metal death.

If the Angel noticed these shells bouncing off its armored hide, it gave no sign of it. Instead, it simply continued to slowly approach as it levitated itself downwards, as inexorable as death.

All too soon, Asuka's rifles clicked empty. "Damn," she cursed. "Next."

A weapons cache had been brought out for her, and she grabbed another pair of rifles and let loose with these as well. However, they had about as much effect as the first ones did.

"Next!" Asuka growled, this time opting for something a little more high-caliber.

Unit Two grabbed a pair of Evangelion-scale rocket launchers and began firing off missiles large enough to single-handedly level an entire small town or village the Angel.

"What's wrong?!" Asuka exclaimed. "I'm neutralizing its AT Field, aren't I? Damn it, I can't lose again!"

The rockets impacted the Angel, erupting into great balls of orange fire, large enough to conceal the Angel's form. Asuka held her breath, and for a short moment, she dared to believe that she might have killed it, or at least hurt it.

Then the explosions dissipated, revealing the unscathed form of the Fourteenth Angel. Asuka felt her heart plummet in her chest.

Then the Angel's tiny arms unfurled, becoming long and thin. The twin bands of white material shot out, and Asuka screamed as she felt pain erupt from her shoulders. Unit Two's arms fell to the ground, and blood spurted out of the wounds in high pressure jets.

The pain ignited Asuka's rage, which she embraced gladly.

"Damn you!" she roared, sending Unit Two into a sprint toward her enemy. "I'll kill you!"

Lost in her pain and anger as she was, Asuka never did notice the flare of light that formed off to the side of the battle.

The new Dr. Fate did not expect to find a battle raging when she arrived within the Geofront, never mind one where an Evangelion was performing a nearly-suicidal charge against an Angel.

However, surprised or not, she immediately swung into action, because she knew there was a child the same age as her son within the red Evangelion. Someone who had suffered like her son had was in there, and the idea of not acting was utterly intolerable.

The sorceress raised her hands, and purple light glowed about them. With a grunt of effort, she sent the bolts of eldritch energy flying through the air. The beams slammed into the Angel's side, knocking it off balance. Its deadly arms just missed the red Evangelion's neck, and the severely damaged war machine crashed into the Angel, sending them both falling to the ground with enough force to make the earth tremble.

The Angel seemed strangely unconcerned with the scarlet EVA that had just tackled it to the ground, and its paper-like arms shot out at the puny human who had dared to strike it.

"Spirit winds of Azagoth," Fate said, "arise!"

The new sorceress's feet left the ground and she shot into the air, the sunlight that was reflected down into the Geofront glinting off her golden helm. The Angel's arms missed their mark entirely.

"Missed me!" Fate shouted, raising her hands. "Now it's my turn again! Silver spikes of Sharudim, fly!"

Over a dozen barbs of shining metal formed in midair above Fate's hand. The sorceress lowered her hands, and the spikes soared, impacting against the Angel's tough hide, where they exploded brilliantly.

The beast roared and threw the red Evangelion off as it righted itself, its vacant eye sockets filling with a malevolent light. Fate's eyes widened behind her helm.

"Jaduan shield!" she bellowed, a protective barrier of yellow light forming around her just as a cross-shaped blast of energy washed over her.

Even the power of Fate was insufficient to entirely block the colossally-powerful blast, and she went flying wildly through the air before she was able to regain her stability.

"Ugh," she groaned, reached up a hand to rub her head and feeling surprised when she found the helmet blocking her.

The sound of screams caused her to turn her head, and she saw that the Angel's attack appeared to have breached one of the shelters. Fortunately, it looked like no one had actually been hurt, but people were pouring out, in search of another sanctuary. Content that they were fine, Fate turned her attention back to the Angel, just missing as a certain teenage boy emerged from the throng of people and happened to encounter a man who was tending to a melon patch.

"Jaduan spears!" she yelled, and several lances of burning magical energy came into existence, "Volley!"

The magical bolts of flame crashed into the Angel and exploded spectacularly, evicting a roar from the Angel. This time Fate was prepared for its retaliation and flew high above the Angel, drawing its attack away from the ground and the civilians on it. It fired its cross blast. Fate managed to dodge, but only barely.

"Die, you monster!" Fate shouted, blasting the Angel with more bolts of magical energy.

Dr. Fate and the Angel dueled for some minutes, the former too quick and too small to be destroyed and the latter simply too heavily armored to be killed. The battle appeared futile on both sides.

This isn't working, Fate thought, her frustration mounting. If only I had some time…

Then Unit Two rejoined the clash. The Second Child had had difficulty getting her war machine back to its feet without the aid of arms, but she'd finally managed to do it. With a roar, Asuka struck the Angel with a savage spinning kick, sending it staggering.

Seeing the opportunity this presented her, Fate raised her arms and channeled as much magical power as she dared. Ankhs made of golden light surrounded her, and Fate gritted her teeth beneath her helmet with the effort of controlling all the power she had called up.

Then, golden light flared around Unit Two. Asuka shouted in surprise, but her cry quickly cut off as the light suddenly coalesced into a new pair of arms for her Evangelion. She opened and closed her EVA's right fist a few times before she decided not to bother questioning what had just happened.

"Take this!" the Second Child roared, sending her EVA's golden fist crashing into the side of the Angel's face.

Hopefully she'll be able to keep the Angel busy long enough for me to pull this off, Fate thought.

Then she concentrated, and the air around her became illuminated by things that looked nothing like ankhs at all as she prepared for a very special spell. It was a spell that the previous Dr. Fate couldn't have performed, because he didn't have the in-depth knowledge of the AT Field and the Angels that she did.

Meanwhile, Shinji Ikari was sprinting into an EVA cage, but not just any EVA cage. It was the place where it had all started; the place where his life had lost any semblance of sanity.

He had to be insane to come back, but Kaji had made him realize that if he didn't do everything he could to stop this Angel, he would regret it forever.

He was already messed up enough without that kind of guilt.

"Why are you here?"

Shinji looked and saw his father standing in the small room above him, which was exactly where he'd been that night.

"Let me pilot!" Shinji gasped out, panting from having run all the way to the cage. "Let me pilot Unit One!"

"Unit One has been completely unresponsive to all our attempts to activate it," Gendo replied. "What makes you think—"

He was cut off as one of the monitors that lined the wall next to him suddenly changed, displaying Fuyutski's image. "Sir," the old man said, "there's something you need to see."

"Not now," Gendo said coldly.

"Sir, you really need to see this," the Vice Commander pressed.

Slowly, reluctantly, Gendo turned his head to regard the image of his second in command. "Whatever it is, it has to wait," he said. "The Angel—"

"Looks like it's being taken care of," Fuyutski interrupted again. "Sir, you need to see this. Now."

"Fine," Gendo said, "I'll be right there."

He walked off then, disappearing from the cage without a word to his son. Baffled, Shinji hesitated for a moment, and then began to head toward the command center.

"Fuyutski," Gendo said as he walked onto the top tier of the command center.

Most people wouldn't have been able to tell, but the Commander of NERV was practically furious at being pulled away at such a critical moment. If Fuyutski didn't have a very good reason for calling him, Gendo would have words with him in the future.

"This… mystery woman has joined the battle," the Vice Commander said. "At first she was fighting the Angel, then she repaired Unit Two. Now…"

Rather than try and explain, Fuyutski pressed a few buttons on the Commander's chair. A two-dimensional holographic image appeared, showing a close-up view of the golden-helmed superwoman and the glowing symbols that by now surrounded her.

"Impossible," Gendo whispered, for once showing shock. "Those are—"

"Parts of the Sephirotic saga," Fuyutski finished for him. "And equations from the theories on AT fields."

I'm winning! Asuka thought, filled with heady excitement as her EVA's fist slammed into the Angel's bony face again, causing it to go reeling. I'm winning! I'm—

All of a sudden, the Angel's thin arms shot out, wrapping themselves around Unit Two's legs. Asuka barely had time to register what was happening before the Angel pulled sharply, sending Unit Two sprawling onto its back.

The Second Child would forever maintain that she had not necessarily been defeated then, and she would forever believe it, too. Certainly, she intended to do everything in her power to regain the upper hand; Asuka Langley Soryu never surrendered.

However, even she had to admit that it was bad spot she'd so abruptly found herself in. Her EVA's legs were still all tangled up, Unit Two was on its back, and the Angel loomed over her, its eye sockets burning with deadly white light.

So it was fortunate that the new Dr. Fate had finally finished preparing for her spell.

"Sacred light of the soul," the sorceress shouted, "be gone!"

Asuka watched as the Angel suddenly paused and staggered backwards away from its intended target. It fired one final cross blast harmlessly in the sky, and then it just exploded.

No, Asuka realized, it hadn't exploded. The entire thing, core and all, had been instantly and completely liquefied, turning into an orange substance that splashed down to the ground, soaking the earth with a great deluge.

"What the hell?" she muttered as she forced Unit Two to sit up.

As she watched, an ankh made from golden light appeared in the air by the woman in the golden helmet, and she stepped into it and disappeared.

Asuka suddenly felt renewed pain explode by her shoulders, and she looked at her EVA to realize that the arms made of golden light were gone, and her Unit Two was once more bleeding freely.

Grimacing, the Second Child pulled a lever that caused her plug to eject halfway out of the cavity in her EVA's body. This had the effect of immediately causing her to de-synch, which brought an end to the sympathetic pain.

Asuka opened her plug hatch and stood up into the open air, expelling the LCL from her lungs. "Most messed up battle ever," she declared.

"What the hell just happened to the Angel?" Misato demanded.

"It looks like that woman somehow managed to neutralize its AT Field somehow," Ritsuko replied, looking shocked.

"Wasn't its AT Field already neutralized because of its contact with Unit Two?" Misato asked.

Ritsuko shook her head. "No," she answered. "Unit Two's AT Field and the Angel's weakened—eroded—one another to the point that they aren't relevant to the battle any longer, but they were still there. There's a big difference between eroding an AT Field and truly neutralizing it."

"Where did that woman go?" Gendo demanded.

"Unknown, sir," Aoba answered him. "We can't pick up any readings on her. It looks like she just disappeared."

"Wait," Makoto said. "I think I—"

Suddenly, golden light flared within the command center, as a large ankh formed by the top tier of the structure. Their mystery woman stepped out of it and it disappeared.

"Gendo," the woman said, her voice echoing from within her helmet and sounding powerful and menacing.

"Who are you?" the Commander demanded, carefully concealing his reaction to this woman.

For reasons he couldn't comprehend, Gendo Ikari, one of the coldest men on the planet, felt a powerful wave of attraction sweep over him now that he stood mere feet away from the woman. The body suit the woman was wearing, which was mostly blue, save for the torso, which was gold, hugged her figure, but he was not a man so easily impressed. He also didn't have a thing for boots, gloves, capes, or helmets, so his reaction mystified him.

"I am Doctor Fate," the woman said, "but you know me by a different name, Ikari."

She reached up with both hands and grabbed her helmet, then began to lift it off her head. The gold seemed to stretch and warp before it finally came off of her, and as it did, the costume of Dr. Fate was transformed into a simple skirt, blouse, and white lab coat.

The normally unflappable Gendo Ikari gasped aloud, his eyes threatening to pop out of his sockets. "Yui-chan…"

"Don't you '-chan' me!"

Yui backhanded him, putting every ounce of strength she possessed behind the blow. Gendo was sent staggering, and when he recovered his balance, he rubbed the place where she'd hit him, a look of dumb shock written all over his face.

"You're a damned monster!" Yui roared. "Torturing our son for your own desires, using people as though they were pieces in a game of chess, planning to destroy the world so you could get what you wanted! I don't know what happened to the man I married, but you're not him!"

"B-But Yui, can't you see that everything I've done, I've done for you?" Gendo pleaded desperately.

"Bullshit!" Yui snarled. "Everything you've done has been for you! You couldn't handle the pain of losing me, so you decided you'd get me back, regardless of what it cost anyone, even Shinji!"

"Yui, please," Gendo moaned.

Her eyes hard and pitiless, Yui placed the helm over her head again, and with a puff of smoke, Dr. Fate came back to the fore. She reached out and grabbed hold of Gendo's shirt, then lifted him off his feet with magically-enhanced strength.

"You thought that you would initiate Third Impact and use the power of it to cheat death?" she asked. "You thought that you would be with me forever in perpetual bliss?"

"Yes," Gendo breathed.

The sorceress shook her head. "That is not your fate, Rokubungi."

It was at this precise moment that one of the doors to the command center opened, and Shinji Ikari stepped out onto the middle tier, having needed significantly longer to arrive there because he'd been exhausted from his earlier sprint and didn't have the shortcuts available to him that his father did.

"Shinji-kun!" Fate exclaimed.

The sorceress carelessly dropped her husband, who collapsed limply to the floor. Then Fate flew down from the top tier to the middle one and, before Shinji even saw her coming, swept him up into a bone-crushing hug.

"Oh, my baby, you don't know how much I've missed you! I'm so sorry I left you! I'll never leave again, I promise! Oh, I'm so sorry about everything you've had to endure because of me and your father! I'm going to make everything right! I promise I will!" Fate gushed, not loosening her hold of the very stunned boy for even a moment.

Shinji looked at the woman who was joyfully squeezing the life out of him, then up at his father, who was laying on the floor of the tier above him and actually appeared to be quietly weeping.

"Uh, can someone tell me what I missed?" he asked.

The assembled bridge crew all traded glances with one another, none of them really knowing quite how to begin answering that.

The debriefing that followed the battle against the Fourteenth Angel was unsurprisingly long. Yui explained everything to the pilots and NERV's senior staff, holding back no details. Those who had been kept in the dark to all the Commander's grisly business were shocked, horrified, and more than a little disbelieving that anything like Gendo's scenario could have been playing out right under their noses.

However, Fuyutski vouched for the veracity of Yui's claims, looking older and more tired than anyone had ever seen him as he did so. Ritsuko also added her testimony, and since Gendo made no effort to defend himself, everyone had little choice but to believe the whole story.

"Wow, this is… a lot to take in," Misato said.

"Believe me, I understand how you feel," Fuyutski said, remembering all too well what he'd experienced the first time he'd been led down into the bowels of what had then been GEHRIN.

"I think everybody's going to need time to digest all this," Misato said, "but I also think that there are two things we can all agree upon right now. First, we have to stop the end of the world from happening. And second, the Commander needs to be relocated to a holding cell."

No one voiced any disagreement.

"We'll need to legally charge him with something soon, but we'll figure that out later," Misato said, rubbing her forehead.

"That's not something that can be left undone for very long," Fuyutski cautioned.

"I know that, and I don't intend to procrastinate for long, but my brain feels like jelly after learning all that," Misato said. "Shigeru, Hyuga, could you escort the Commander down to the cell block?"

The two technicians nodded, soon leaving with the docile and silent Gendo Ikari.

"Preventing the end of the world won't be an easy thing," Fuyutski said. "Even destroying both Adam and Lilith wouldn't make a man-made Third Impact a complete impossibility. And SEELE has tremendous resources at their disposal."

"True," Yui conceded, "but there's one thing that we have on our side that they don't."

"And that is?" Akagi asked.

Yui smiled and touched her helmet, which sat on the conference table before her. "Fate," she said.

The Operations Director nodded. "We've been here for hours now," she said, stifling a yawn. "I think this little meeting was enough trading notes for one day."

Everyone was only too happy to agree to this and began to file out of the room, most of them still looking dazed by what they'd learned.

"Professor, Dr. Akagi, could you stay for a minute?" Yui asked. "I'd like a quick word with you two in private."

Fuyutski and Akagi nodded, the former with a look of weary resignation, and the latter with a grimace.

"You two were basically Gendo's inner circle," Yui said once everyone else was gone. "You knew about his plans and went along with them anyway."

Ritsuko opened her mouth to say something, but Yui calmly held up a hand. "I'm not condemning you," she said. "It's not my place. I just need to know if you're going to be with the rest of us on this."

The Vice Commander and the bottle blonde exchanged a brief glance.

"I'm with you, Yui," Fuyutski said.

"Hell, you probably did me a favor by unseating Gendo," Akagi added, a bitter smile slowly appearing on her face.

Yui nodded, "I'm glad to have you with us," she said. "We're going to need all the help we can get if we're going to stop SEELE."

Hours later, while the members of NERV worked either on the post-battle clean-up or tried to figure out how to thwart SEELE, Gendo Ikari sat silently within his little confinement cell. The room was pitch-dark, meant to make whoever was unfortunate enough to be trapped inside of one to suffer from sensory deprivation. However, it would have made little difference if there was light; Gendo still would have been staring at nothing.

The once-mighty Commander of NERV was a broken man.

Suddenly, some interminable amount of time after he'd been placed into the cell, two points of red light formed to Gendo's right. They weren't bright; if they were more orange, they could have passed for the ends of two lit cigarettes. However, in the otherwise total darkness, they were as obvious as spotlights.

Then there was a fphh! sound like the lighting of a flare, and a ball of tumbling blue flames appeared. Said flames were suspended above the palm of a demonic being with blue skin, long black talons, and glowing red eyes. The demon wore a horned helmet, battle armor, and a long loincloth.

Just about anyone who found themselves confronted with such a sight would have immediately entered into a state of high panic. Gendo barely turned his head to regard the demon.

"Gendo Ikari," the demon said, revealing pointed black fangs as he spoke. "Greetings."

"Who are you?" Gendo asked. "What do you want?"

"I am known as Negal of Charn," the demon introduced himself. "I exist to feed off of human misery."

"Have you come to feed off of me, then?" Gendo asked, not much caring whether the demon had or not.

"No, not at all," Negal replied, his mouth stretching into a profoundly disturbing grin. "In fact, I'm here to help you."

"I am beyond help now," Gendo replied coldly. "My goal in unachievable, and in any case, why would you help me?"

"You could say that I'm a fan of yours. Some of the misery you've caused, especially for your son, well…" Negal trailed off, the faraway look of a wine connoisseur recalling a particularly fine vintage appearing in his eyes. "It's been exquisite."

Gendo grunted. "As I said, though, I am beyond your help. All I ever wanted was Yui, and now she's rejected me."

"Your wife's mind has been clouded by the power of Fate, and her predecessor's influence," Negal said. "With my assistance, you can make her see things clearly again, and be with her in ways that are impossible for normal mortals."

Gendo Ikari was not a stupid man; if he were, he never would have risen to become the master of NERV Central, nor would he have been able to keep SEELE largely ignorant of his own agenda. And Negal's offer would have looked suspicious to men who were far less brilliant than he.

However, Gendo Ikari was a desperate man, desperate for any kind of hope that he could still have what he had labored over a decade for. Such deep desperation, such intense desire, could blunt the intellect of even the most clever and wary of men.

Besides, as it stood, Gendo felt himself a man with nothing left to lose.

"I'm listening," he said.

Author's Notes: Yes, I realize these things are supposed to be one shots, but this was getting pretty long, and this just seemed like too good a place to stop, so I decided to make it a two-parter. Don't worry, I intend for the second half of this story to be the next thing I do.

I was kind of hesitant to portray Yui as being so angsty and as having been more or less in on SEELE and Gendo's plans before she was absorbed. However, I can't see someone in her position as not swimming in guilt (plus, she is related to Shinji), and I never bought the idea that she could be married to Gendo, a top GEHRIN scientist, and the first test pilot for Unit One and still be oblivious to what was going on. It always seemed to me like she was too deeply involved in it all to have been totally innocent.

Anyway, I chose Dr. Fate for Yui for a couple of reasons. I was initially blanking on who she should be, and orionpax09 suggested Captain Marvel, because he gets his powers (mostly) from the Greek gods, and it would kind of fit, since Rei is cloned partly from Yui and Rei's Wonder Girl in SOE2. However, Captain Marvel's mythos doesn't actually gel too well with Wonder Woman's (small surprise, considering that Captain Marvel started off in Fawcett comics and was only later folded into the DC universe), and besides, a lot of Captain Marvel's appeal is, I think, from the wish-fulfillment aspect of having a kid who can transform into an adult superhero.

So Captain Marvel was out, but I did like the idea of making Yui a hero who had a connection to the gods. Fate qualifies, although he's all about the Egyptian pantheon. He was also a founding member of the Justice Society—the older generation of superheroes in the DCU—so it seemed appropriate for one of the mothers. Add in that his amulet can act as a repository for souls, and one other rather unique aspect of Fate I won't mention here, and I was sold.

Anyway, in part two, Gendo makes his last, desperate gambit, and Shinji actually gets to do something.

So, enough of my rambling. Thanks as always to my readers and reviewers, and thanks to my beta reader.


A Lighter Farewell

They were in a stone chamber which was part of a much larger structure. Egyptian artifacts packed the room, and a large, four poster bed sat in one corner. Beyond the large doorway was an absolute maze of tunnels and staircases. It reminded Yui of a painting she'd seen once, 'Relativity'.

"Where are we?" she asked.

"My tower," Fate replied. "Though I suppose it is your tower now. You will be able to navigate it with the aid of the helm's powers. Speaking of which…"

Dr. Fate reached up and grabbed the Helm of Nabu with both hands, then pulled upwards. Yui watched with fascination as the metal seemed to warp and twist before her eyes before suddenly relinquishing its hold upon its wearer and reverting to its original shape.

And with it gone, she finally got to see Kent Nelson.

The man was utterly ancient. However, his age surprised Yui less than his attire. Kent Nelson was wearing khaki shorts, sandals, a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt, and a fishing cap.

"Here, kid," he said, shoving the helmet at her, which Yui took.

Before his successor could even think up a comment, an old woman appeared from another room. She was dressed just as outlandishly in a grass hula skirt and another Hawaiian shirt, which was just as loud as Kent's.

"Are you finally ready, dear?" she asked him.

"You bet I am, Inza!" Kent said enthusiastically. "Finally, glorious retirement!"

"Uh, Kent…" Yui spoke up.

"Hmm? Oh, right," Kent said, turning his attention back to her. "Listen, kid, if you need my help, I'll be in Miami-3. But no showing up between ten and eleven at night. That's happy hour. In fact, do your best not to need my help at all, okay?"

"Uh, okay," Yui agreed.

"Beautiful!" Kent said. "Inza, let's be off!"

He took his wife's hand, and an ankh-shaped portal appeared a moment later.

"Toodles!" Kent said, then walked through the light with Inza. The portal closed immediately afterwards.

Suddenly alone, Yui looked down at the golden helm in her hands and sighed. "I'm not sure whether he's more eccentric with this thing on or off," she grumbled.

Desperate Measures

"Gendo," the woman said, her voice echoing from within her helmet and sounding powerful and menacing.

"Who are you?" the Commander demanded, carefully concealing his reaction to this woman.

"I am Doctor Fate," the woman said, "but you know me by a different name, Ikari."

She reached up with both hands and grabbed her helmet, then attempted to lift it off her head. However, the golden helm refused to budge from its place on her head.

"Argh, damn it, why won't this come off?" Fate grumbled. "Nabu, are you afraid I won't put it back on, because I will, you know!"

Everyone sweat dropped as they watched the mystery woman wrestle unsuccessfully with her helmet.

It was at this precise moment that one of the doors to the command center opened, and Shinji Ikari stepped out onto the middle tier.

"Shinji-kun!" Fate exclaimed.

Fate flew down from the top tier to the middle one and, before Shinji even saw her coming, swept him up into a bone-crushing hug.

"Oh, my baby, you don't know how much I've missed you! I'm so sorry I left you! I'll never leave again, I promise! Oh, I'm so sorry about everything you've had to endure because of me and your father! I'm going to make everything right! I promise I will!" Fate gushed.

"Wh-What's going on?" Shinji stammered. "Who are you?"

"That's an excellent question," Gendo spoke up, "who are you, woman?"

Fate's demeanor instantly chilled as the Commander regained her attention.

"I'm your wife, you monster!" Fate exclaimed.

"My wife is dead," Gendo said coldly.

"Damn it, I'm Yui Ikari, and I can prove it!" Fate shouted.

"I truly doubt that," Gendo replied dryly.

"Yeah, much as I'd like to believe my mother is back, I really don't see how that's possible," Shinji added.

"Oh, yeah!?" Fate retorted. "Gendo, on the night of our honeymoon, you got so anxious about the prospect of disappointing me in bed that you took ten 'performance enhancement' pills, and then spent the whole night worshipping the porcelain god because of your moronic overdose."

Gendo paled. The assembled bridge staff stifled snickers.

"And Shinji, when you were four you had stuffed animal you named Mr. Snugglepus!" Fate added.

"Mr. Snugglepus!" Asuka exclaimed, laughing. "Only you, Third Child!"

"Asuka?!" Shinji shrieked. "Shouldn't you still be outside?! How did you get in here so fast?"

The redhead shrugged. "Plot hole. It's an omake."

"Gendo!" Fate said. "The reason you overdosed on little blue pills was because the week before our wedding, you lasted approximately 2.73 seconds in bed!"

Gendo hung his head. A few of the people present couldn't help but release a few chuckles.

"Shinji! When you were three, we took you boating on a lake and you fell in, and for some reason, you wet the bed every night for a week after that!"

Asuka started laughing so hard that she collapsed and started rolling around on the floor.

"And I know more!" Fate said.

"NO!" Shinji and Gendo shouted in unison. "WE BELIEVE YOU!"

Fate smiled beneath her helmet.