Neon Genesis Evangelion and all associated characters are the properties of Gainax, as created by Hideki Anno. I do not own them, but I use them at discretion. This is not a for-profit or professional work, simply done for entertainment and practice.
As you should know, this is an AU where Asuka Langely Sohryu's father is the Supreme Commander of NERV. Click on my author's name for Parts 1 and 2.
The chair creeks as he sits in it. The room is dark, and silent, save for the sound of the ticking clock as the pendulum swings behind him, and the soft playing of a piano's tune. Shinji Ikari, son of Gendo and Yui, pilot of Evangelion Unit 01, savior of the Human Race about four times over at this point, stares at his hands.
"Where am I," he asks, his voice trembling.
"You are here."
He looks up. There is a girl floating before him, no more than nine years old. Her face looks like Rei's, but her hair and demeanor resembles Asuka. The girl is smiling, a small, knowing smile, as she regards him with curiosity and…
Is that a respect she sees in her eyes?
"Hello, Shinji. It's certainly been a long time since I saw you last. You've developed nicely from when I found you."
"Found me? Where?"
"Oh, that's not for you to know yet. Well, I'm not your mother…I guess I'm your God mother."
"No. God mother."
Neon Genesis Evangelion:
Failures of Communication
The monitor beeps steadily. They didn't need to put him on a ventilator or any sort of life-support equipment. Every test tells them that Shinji is, physically, fine. Except that he's just not there. Windows are open, lights are on. No one's home. No one can explain anything about this, and it pisses them off.
Major Misato Katsuragi mutters under her breath as her head pounds. Her shift is over, and she is ending her day as she sees fit, walking down the halls of the infirmary and easing open the door. She finds Shinji, lying in the bed, face up, hands folded on his stomach. What she does not expect to find, however, is sitting next to the bed.
"Dr. Ikari," she says.
Gendo Ikari, head of Project E, turns to Misato, grunts, and turns back to the boy. No secret is made of how awkward the relationship between the son and estranged father is. Few expected Shinji to stay when he encountered him. Maybe, just maybe, they were wrong.
"How long have you been here," she asks.
"Depends. What time is it?"
"Then I've been here all day," he says.
He rises, grimacing.
"He'll be fine," he says, "He will return."
He stares at her, pushing up his glasses.
"I am," he responds, "As certain as we can be of anything."
"Why?" she asks, folding her arms.
A small, imperceptible grin crosses his features.
"Because he is his mother's son," he says, and quietly walks out.
The walls and floors of the sparring room, or dojo for lack of a better term, are padded with blue stuffed mats all over. This is a matter of necessity, as when the Second Child practices, she tends to be highly mobile, not to mention the sheer destructive ability of the First Child. Said child is currently in the room, in the center, the alabaster skinned Nephilem named Rei Ayanami practicing a Tai Chi kata. Eyes closed, hair already wet, she drives back the images of her mind as she moves fluidly through her forms.
She opens her eyes, pausing her motions and folding back into a ready stance.
"Class Representative," Rei says, softly, her voice not rising above a whisper, "You are on time."
Tugging at the top of her gi, Hikari Horaki, the Fifth Child, walks barefoot across the mat and towards her appointed trainer. They pause, bow, and Rei steps back, gaze going over Hikari, appraising her and causing her face to redden.
It is no secret that Hikari is nervous. As the Fifth Child, her Evangelion has yet to even finish construction, much less be used in combat. Additionally, she has accepted the fact that she is…out of place…at best. All the others have their roles. Asuka and Rei are the Commander's daughters, Shinji is the son of Doctor Ikari, and Kaworu is…odd…to say the least. She is the daughter of an assistant manager on the Tokyo-3 rail lines. She wonders, regularly, why she's here, but then her sister tells her that she should be happy this gets her out of cooking.
She adjusts the collar of the t-shirt under her gi, noticing that Rei doesn't have one. Of course she doesn't, she tells herself, Ayanami doesn't have to hide a complete lack of figure. Thoughts like this fume, and fume easily for her, as Rei finally steps her right leg back.
"We will start with the basics," she says.
"This is your first lesson," Rei says, "We shall begin with basic technique."
"Hey!" Hikari shouts, "I know how to do this! I took karate in elementary school for five years!"
Rei tilts her head, raising an eyebrow.
"You believe you can engage me in sparring," she says. Not asks. Says.
"Yeah. Yeah, I do!" Hikari says, falling into a form-perfect if shaky fighting stance.
"Very well. We will spar for five minutes. If you can stalemate me, we will move on to advanced technique."
She moves like water, her entire form flowing into a stance, her left toes touching the ground as she hold her hands in front of her in a crane stance.
Hikari leads with a left punch. Rei twists, lunging underneath her arm, one hand grabbing Hikari's wrist before she brings a swinging knife hand up into Hikari's stomach-
Five minutes later.
Rei watches as Hikari finishes vomiting in the trash can. Perhaps, Rei thinks, she should have gone easy on her.
"So," Hikari burps, leaning on the can, "Same…bff…same time tomorrow?"
It is peaceful. A theatre, empty save for him, and Shinji sits in the middle, giving him a full view of the screen. Images play on the screen. Jumbled pictures and sounds without sense or reason. Something about Mother, something about the past, something about Shadows.
His entire life plays before his eyes, and cut into every second, there is an image. It is something he knows, but shouldn't know. It is something that has been communicating with him since he arrived.
"Want some company?"
A girl his age, lanky and with short red hair sits down next to him. She smiles, a warm, genuine smile, and squeezes his hand.
"Eva?" he asks.
"Present and accounted for," the sentient spirit of Unit 01 says, "What do you think so far?"
"I think I'm very confused."
"It's alright to be," Eva says, giving another squeeze, "It's interested, you know. I think it recognizes you. That's why it's trying to talk with you."
"It…is that why I'm here? Something's…talking with me?"
"Now we're just waiting for the final player to take the stage," she says, sitting back, "And then we can start."
The door to the infirmary room creeks open, and Kaworu Nagisa walks in. The ash-haired youth stares at his room mate for a long, silent moment, before sitting down in the chair and closing his eyes.
The next morning.
Ritsuko Akagi runs a hand through her shoulder-cut blonde hair, checking the clipboard before walking into the patient's room. She then stops. Said patient is out of the bed, scratching the wall, his boney ass exposed for all to see as he tries to rip at the linoleum walls.
"What the hell is he doing?"
Asuka Langely Sohryu, Second Child and much teased possible girlfriend of the patient, watches in a mixture of disbelief and concern. Sure, he's up, after his rather sudden collapse three days ago, but then there's how he's acting now.
"He's trying to…he's trying to tell us something," Ritsuko says, turning to the girl, "Asuka, get me some paper and a pencil!"
With a nod, the girl runs, disappearing down the hallway in rhythm with the clapping of her school uniform's shoes. Ritsuko walks in, stepping out of Shinji's way as he darts around the room, scratching some shape into tile. His nails are already dulled. Soon his fingers will be bleeding and he will be writing with blood.
Shinji darts to the other side of the room to continue. He doesn't make it, though, as a crutch catches between his feet and he collapses, backside high in the air as the third member of the party raises an eyebrow and stares.
"I figured we should immobilize him," Kyoko Sohryu says, sitting in her wheelchair.
Ritsuko nods, and rolls the boy onto his back.
Pieter Sohryu, Supreme Commander of NERV, Military Governor of Tokyo-3, and father of two Evangelion pilots (the last one being most important in his mind) looks up from behind his reading glasses as the doors to his office open and Major Misato Katsuragi escorts two men into the brightly lit, massive room. He puts down the book he was reading in one of his rare breaks and sits up in his chair, clicking the sleep button for the intercom on his oak, crescent-moon desk.
"Gentlemen," he says, "Welcome to NERV. I asked you here because you are the weapons designers for Jet Alone."
The two men, one slightly pudgy and with brown hair and a beard, and the other thin and balding, not. Both are dressed in a way that suggests they do not go on many interviews, with the heavyset one in a tweed suit, the other in a gray, wrinkled suit. Neither looks comfortable. Of course, both were more or less abducted prior to the Tenth Angel arriving and given the proposal to work for him, but considering he assigned Ikari and Ryoji to do so, they probably scared the two half to death.
"I don't keep things formal here," Sohryu says, "Gentlemen…"
He nods towards them. The pudgy one speaks first.
"Thomas," he says, his voice carrying a slight American accent.
"Albert," the other says. His accent suggest German.
"Ah, a countryman," Pieter says with a small grin, "Tom. Al. Your chainsaw prototype worked better than I expected."
Considering I expected spectacular failure, he mentally adds.
"I'd like you two to work for NERV and design weapons for the Evangelions. I will double your salary. Money is no object, but time is. You'll be partnered with Lieutenant Ibuki in our R&D department. Interested?"
The two begin talking, hushed whispers. Which is moot, of course. Because the moment they turn to give their answer, the doors burst open and Ritsuko runs in.
Five minutes earlier.
Asuka made it back with a sketchpad and pencil, and since then they've watched Shinji sitting on his bed, scratching the surface of the paper with his writing instrument. They watch, and wait, Asuka sitting next to her mother as Akagi stands at the doorway, arms folded and stroking her chin.
"He's an artist," Kyoko says.
"He plays the cello," Asuka responds, hands on her knees. Waiting, patience, have never been her strong suit. Waiting for a boy who quite frankly confuses her emotions to wake up from whatever this is, is even worse.
"Your father was artistic, to," Kyoko says, "I first met him when we were in an art class in college, together."
Asuka's face reddens.
"Oh, they're always sensitive," Kyoko continues, rubbing her daughter's shoulders with a distant smile, "Well, it helps, to. They're better at predicting emotions, better at dealing with outbursts, because God knows you have some of my temper, and since they're creative they always know the best techniques in-"
"I DON'T need to hear that!" Asuka screams.
Ritsuko turns to them. Shinji stops drawing momentarily, and then continues.
"Do we know why this happened," Asuka asks, louder than she intended.
"Theories are everywhere," Akagi says, "Mental contamination from the Evangelion's sentience, an Angel attack, and Misato has the theory that his mind's just seen so much…'weird shit' that it decided to take a vacation."
"Wish he left a note, then," a new voice says.
Unshaven, hair in a ponytail, dressed in a business casual fashion which stands out in the uniformed masses of NERV, Kaji Ryoji enters with a smile. Asuka regards him for a moment, before turning back to the bed with a snort.
"Wow," he says, "I think I've lost."
"God forbid people here have healthy relationships," Akagi says, "What do you want, Kaji?"
"Misato's in a meeting with the Commander. I wanted to check in on Shinji for her."
A cough, and he turns, smiling that smile he has as a gift, bowing in a gentlemanly fashion to Kyoko.
"Ah, Doctor Sohryu," he says, taking Kyoko's hand and pressing it to his lips, "A pleasure. I can see the Commander is a lucky man."
"A lady killer," Kyoko says with a wry smile.
Ritsuko snorts and Asuka mutters. The clipboard falls onto the bed, the pencil falling, forgotten, as Shinji drops onto his back, eyes blinking, faster than before. Akagi walks over, feeling Shinji's forehead, her face unreadable as she takes out a pen light and shines it in both eyes.
"Some recognition," she says, "His pupils are dilating. This is a good sign. No real response yet, but he may be coming out of it in time. Of course, if an Angel attacks before that, we have a problem. Okay, let's see what you had to show us."
She picks up the sketchpad, turning it around so she can have a clear view of the picture. She stares at it for a long moment. It is after a few moments that everyone in the room has realized she has stopped breathing. Kaji acts first, stepping towards her and tapping her on the shoulder. Turning to him, eyes wide, she pushes past him and runs out in a full sprint.
The moment the sound even comes out, Asuka is out of her chair and on top of him. Blinking in the dim light, face covered in a sheen of sweat, Shinji lazily turns his head to her and says something unintelligible.
"Shinji," Asuka asks, "Shinji, can you hear me?"
She turns to her mother, eyes narrowed.
"You're on his diaphragm," Kyoko responds.
Asuka notices at this point that, yes, her knee is on his stomach, and Kaji is watching with a grin, sides shaking as if he is about to burst out laughing.
"Kids these days," Kaji says, "You would think she would want us out of the room before she broke in her boyfriend."
"He's not my boyfriend!"
Asuka then looks down, and realizes that she is, indeed, straddling the barely conscious Shinji. Yelping, she climbs off, sitting on the side of the bed, grabbing his hand. Kaji walks to his other side, snapping his fingers in front of Shinji's face and grinning as he reacts, albeit sluggishly.
"Gave us all a scare," he says, "How you feeling?"
He looks at Kaji, then turns to Asuka. Narrowing his eyes, mouth open, he examines her, seeing past the mask of anger and seeing the concern, and he smiles. His hand squeezes hers, as she gives off a small, warm, relieved smile. A smile which ends when he speaks, with the pained, horse voice.
"You look just like her."
"Like who," she asks.
"Can't…remember her name," he mutters, heading rolling back, "Looked older. Started with an…e…"
His body goes limp again, breathing unsteady and labored. This is around when the Commander arrived.
Sprinting down the hallway, Ritsuko skids to a stop in the elevator, slamming her fist into the button for the level of the Commander's office. Staring at the drawing and making sure she is not hallucinating – something she would have expected at this point, in all honesty – she breaks into a run as the doors open, nearly knocking down Maya and shouting an apology over her shoulder.
Running to the doors, she slams them open, Misato, Pieter, and the two weapons technicians staring at her as she skids to a stop in front of his desk.
"I really need a secretary," Sohryu says.
"Shut up, Pieter," Ritsuko says, slamming the sketchpad down, "Look at this."
Muttering, he does. Eyes go wide and he stands up, turning to her.
"Shinji drew this?"
"Has he ever been down to Terminal Dogma?"
She shakes her head. Looking past her, he turns to the scientists.
"Gentlemen, excuse me. We have a situation. Major, have Section 2 escort them out. Get an answer to me tomorrow."
Katsuragi salutes, and leads the two out, as Sohryu turns back to Akagi.
"Terminal Dogma. We're bringing him there. Now."
The swinging pendulum and the folding chair. Someone plays the piano in the distance, in the shadows, and Shinji once more looks at his hands. He could stay like this forever. He could wait until it ends.
It's impossible for people to understand each other
Knuckles grind until they turn white. His failures play in his face. A little girl in the hospital, one awkward moment after another. Running away from discussing his father. Being miserable at the fair.
Are you so different this time
A red sky. Unit 02 impaled on nine spears.
Just ran away again
Kaworu, smiling at him in Unit 01's hand.
Or are y-
He stands up. The voice stops. He turns, narrows his eyes, and with a yell kicks the chair as hard as he can. The piano stops as well, abruptly, slamming fingers on unsteady keys. A shuffle of cloth and someone walks to him.
Asuka walks to him, but not her. Older than her, in her mid twenties at least, clad in a long white dress with a blue trimmed white coat over it. She stares at him behind glasses over her green eyes, and rewards him with a soft, warm smile, clasping her hands in front of her.
"Hello, Shinji," she says, "It's good to finally meet you."
"What…" he starts, as his features twist and his voice rises, "What the f___ is going on here?!"
"Don't use that language with me," she responds, "Do you have any idea how many times you've been through this? How many times your life has replayed before you finally decided to stand up? I've lost count."
She smiles, wider.
"You found your way here earlier. So we just did it earlier, this time. Before the end of the world. We changed a lot, to. Because this time may be the final time."
Shinji flushes, scratching his head, as the darkness recedes and becomes a theatre stage. It is the same theatre from before, with Eva sitting in it, feet up on the back of a seat as she waves.
"Do you know who I am?"
"You…you look like Asuka," he says.
"Very observant," the woman says, "I am her, and I'm not her. But for right now, please.
"Call me Sophia."
"This is the Commander. Scramble all cameras leading into and surrounding Terminal Dogma. Begin procedure CAOA at mark. Release locks on command."
The elevator speeds down, a small assembly of much of his command staff present. Dr. Akagi is attendant on the gurney Shinji is on, Dr. Ikari standing a small distance away. Misato's hand is on Asuka's shoulder as the floors speed by. Both insisted on coming.
"CAOA?" Misato asks.
"Covering All Our Asses," Akagi responds, "Pieter?"
"Nothing we see today is said to anyone other than us," Pieter responds, "Ever."
The lift stops. Doors open, revealing a massive catwalk over a running river of red LCL.
"Welcome to Terminal Dogma," Sohryu says, "Watch your step."
They begin walking, Asuka taking the handles with Misato and leading the gurney down the gratings. Everyone is silent, the only sounds footsteps and creaking wheels.
"All cameras off. Looping video imagery."
Shigeru's comment gets a small smirk on Pieter's lips, as they approach the doors. The doors are massive as an understatement, capable of fitting at least two Evangelions side by side, one and a half times as tall. It is covered in spinning gears and threaded light, casting its own eerie illumination upon them.
"How the Hell did we ever build this," Misato asks.
"We didn't," Ikari responds, "We found it. Like the rest of the Geofront."
Extending out of the door, a full helmet and finger brace attaches to Pieter, glowing before retracting.
"Scans acceptable match. Welcome to Terminal Dogma, Commander."
The gears grind, and the massive doors slide apart, faster than anything that size should be able to. The water ripples beneath them, the light shines down, and they find themselves before a great web of gold, a single point at the center. The webbing is solid, and upon the corners are symbols in an old, dead tongue. Cautiously, slowly, they approach, as the filaments glow, pulsing.
"Has it ever done that?" Asuka asks.
"No," Pieter says, and reaches into his coat, taking out a small, flat gold plate, "Here we go. I am opening Heaven's Door."
He releases the plate. It floats, before him, spinning as lines of white work up it. With a start, it flies into the point at the center. In turn, the ten symbols glow and fade, the webbing retracting as the light becomes for a point blinding. The room is filled with gold light, a single blue light at the center as they avert their eyes, and-
"Commander! We have an emergency up here!" Maya shouts, "Unit 01 is ACTIVATING!"
It is from a vantage point, a little hidey hole between the cages and Dogma, Kaworu watches. Eyes steadily glowing soft golden light, he smiles as it begins…and blanches when he feels something else approaching.
"I thought it was you," he says, and smile once more, "You never could just sit by. Could you, Sophia?"
The stage fills with golden light. Amidst the chaos and blinding, Shinji could swear he heard Eva scream. It is only him as it washes away. Only him and Sophia as the floor drops down and there is but light surrounding them.
"It's for you to decide," she says, "You've already changed. You've already defined yourself. Despite what you tell yourself, Shinji, you are not weak. And you are not alone."
Every officer in Central Dogma watches in dumb horror as the activation signals for the pilotless Unit 01 go off, yellow eyes lighting up as the last of the technicians evacuate the cages.
"Commander! We have a situation up here!" Maya shouts, into the transmitter, "Unit 01 is ACTIVATING!"
"Please be a glitch," Shigeru says, "Please be a glitch please be a glitch-"
Clamps around the jaw tear, and rearing its head back, the purple and green giant roars. With a single swipe of its arm, thousands of tons of evacuated catwalk collapse.
"Oh, f___ me," the long haired technician says.
"Be lucky if that's all it does," Lieutenant Hyuga Makato says, "Maya, where're the pilots?!"
"I can't locate the Fourth," Maya says, snapping out of her shock, "Third and Second are in Terminal Dogma. Triangulating position on Rei-"
In the Cage itself, Unit 01 eyes the shortest path to Terminal Dogma, a low growl escaping its lips as Cage-installed stun blasts fire off at it with little discernable effect. It begins marching, only small pinpricks appearing on its armor.
So when there's a burst of red light and an explosion against its shoulder, it roars, turns, and spots a small form a moment before an AT field manifests and pins it to the wall.
"Okay, didn't know Rei could fly," Shigeru says.
"I sent everyone a memo," Maya responds, bringing up a series of console commands with a furious set of keystrokes, "Rei! We have to monitor the containment systems for the Eva! Can you hold it off?"
The gurney shatters, flattening as the pulsing light drives them to their knees. The patient, once immobile, now floats before the Artifact, eyes open and glowing as he now communes with it. And as the light clears, and their vision restores, they see it clearly.
"Holy God," Misato whispers.
"Our best guess," Akagi responds.
It stands as tall as an Eva. Its surface is gold, or at least something to that effect. Lines of white are etches into it, forming an intricate pattern of parallel lines reaching from its bottom to top, looping around a dull blue gem at the center that is larger than a person.
Its presence vibrates the air, producing something akin to music. It floats over a grated cavity, archaic old wires hanging from it, monitors displaying gibberish and symbols lining the wall.
Shinji floats in front of it, as if he is standing in the air, a dome of golden flakes surrounding them, and cutting off the others. Undaunted, Misato walks up to it and tries to pry it open. The resulting shock throws her back twenty feet.
"Misato!" Ritsuko yells, running over to her as Pieter scratches his head, taking off his glasses.
Asuka stares at the monolith, whispering something to herself. Not German. Not a language she knows. It doesn't matter to her, though. Right now, all she can do is stare at her fellow pilot, her friend, hanging in the air like some sort of doll.
"Now what," Pieter says.
Asuka walks past him. She doesn't say a word, doesn't respond to his questions on what she is doing. All she does it press her hand to the field. It opens, and she walks in, and it closes behind her.
The Entry Plug lights up, and opening her eyes, Rei stares out at the grimacing form of Unit 01.
"Begin manual activation. First Stage: Recognize language commands. Prep connections."
Flipping switches on the exposed controls of the chair, turbines deep within the armor of the Unit spin to life.
"Second stage. Initiate LCL Ionization. Plug depth set."
Some hair on the back of her neck stands up. On the viewscreen in her eye, Unit 01 recognizes the threat. It turns, barking at her, swatting off electric blasts and low-yield missiles.
"Third stage. Synchro start."
She grips the butterfly controls.
"Synchronization at 56%" the computerized voice chimes, "Unit 00 activated."
The cycloptean eye flashes white, and Unit 01 roars, charging. Restraints release, the pilot allows herself a small smile, and she responds in kind.
"You came," Sophia says.
On the outside, the dome has become opaque. On the inside, inside the Artifact, the stage has returned. The audience is full. Asuka finds herself asking questions, but those questions dying on her lips as she comes face to face with her older reflection.
"You have questions," Sophia says, "But those aren't questions I can answer. You'll forget most of this when you leave."
The piano music begins again. Sophia laces her fingers with Asuka's, and smiles. A smile that reminds her of her mother.
"Who are you," Asuka asks.
"You," Sophia responds, "In another time and place. Congratulations, Asuka. You passed the test. You made things better than they have been in a long, long time. I think we can actually have some hope, now."
Sophia's smile goes even wider.
"Because you came for him."
The audience breaks into thunderous applause, as the lights turn blinding and-
The dome disperses, and the two pilots drop to the floor without ceremony. Both groan, and Shinji sits up first.
"Asuka!" he says, grabbing her by the sleeve and helping her sit.
Behind them, the glowing of the Artifact ceases, screens turning blank. Maya's voice pitches over the radio, telling them that Unit 01 has shut down. Neither of that matters, as with a shaky smile, she puts her hand on his shoulder, the audience around them watching. Misato leans on Akagi, Pieter grins, and Ikari cleans his glasses, as-
"AHH! Asuka, what the HELL WAS THAT FOR?!"
"For scaring me out of my wits again, you IDIOT!"
"I'm sorry! I'M SORRY!"
"Sorry? SORRY?! I'LL SHOW YOU SORRY!"
Shinji backs away from the screaming redhead, hiding behind the Commander as Misato breaks out laughing, leaning on her friend. Moving forward, Pieter grabs Asuka by the shoulders and pulls her along with him, Shinji running a hand through his hair and watching them go.
"Did I do something wrong?" he asks.
"Yeah," Misato says, patting his shoulder, "You were born male."
"Not my fault," Gendo says, and walks off to follow them.
Ritsuko and Misato stair at Dr. Ikari's retreating form, turning to each other…and start laughing, leaning against each other as the day finally catches up to them. Leaving Shinji standing in Terminal Dogma, confused, and…
"…where am I...and why don't I have any pants?"