In the hours it felt, it felt like days or weeks or years or aeons for them to arrive. Cahethal spoke softly to her. She spoke reassurance and spoke gentle reminder, a voice carrying with it the weight of memory that transcended epochs. Lilly, small as she was, immature as she was, listened.

Of the ongoing struggle. Of their creation. Of the misconception that Lilly was-that Leliel was- like the other Angels NERV has fought.

We are Seraphim

Cahethal explained,

We are the control [concepts] that [Father] placed upon arrival to Earth.

We number five.

There is Michael, Prince of the Angels

Kemuel, the wholeness of us

Seraphiel, who is of all of us

Myself, who is the tree from which the Fruit of Life springs,

and you,

The gate between worlds.

But the war, Lilly asks, why does there have to be a war? She lives fine with the children of the Black Egg. So does Israfel. So does the last, glorious piece of Sandalphon and the successor of Ramiel. Why does there have to be a war?

Because you were given life. And all life, no matter how great nor small, is given the chance to self determinate.

Another voice. From everywhere, nowhere.

I am pleased. I see within you a spark which refuses to die or flicker. Bridge-type was not designed to reproduce, but you have successfully done so.

A light, which illuminates the void.

Let me take a look at you. Ah. Re designation. Instead of acting as an intercontinuum bridgeform, you have become an interdistance bridgeform. Hm. Possibly able to time travel if you can form a tunnel between two distant enough points, I guess.

A pause in the voice. A sigh, distant, and the light begins to retract, and spin around, forming into a single point of light the size of Lilly herself...and then itself collapsing, forming into a shape standing in the ether of the Void. The form is of a young man, sixteen years old, with black hair and blue eyes, dressed in a white buttoned shirt and black pants, effortlessly floating upon white sneakers.

"Sorry," he says, "I got a little carried away. But, I saw this shapeform was important, so I took its form. What is it, by the way?"

A Lilim. A child of the Black Egg.

The young man, a mirror of Shinji, sighs.

"F_ing dandy. I have met your...parent, for lacking terminology, so I may as well introduce myself, Lilly. I am, for lack of the better terms, the person/PROGRAM in charge. The designation you would have in your memories would be [ANCESTOR.]"

8D!

"Yes. It's good to meet you, too."


Chapter 96:

Dreams Made Flesh


In the Overmind, the Angelic groupmind, the mass that is the Queen of the Camiel Swarm awakens. Openings its mass of eyes, the grotesque insect rises, flapping cellulose wings as it roars. Shinji takes the natural response- he runs, grabbing Zyuu's wrist and taking off in a sprint towards somewhere. Given, he's currently inside another plane of existence. Exactly where he can head to, he's not entirely sure.

The mountain covered in lightning looks like a good choice.

"Run!" Shinji yells, as the massive bee begins charging after them. The whispers of dying Cherubim around them fill the air, urging Camael on, to kill the Enemy, to destroy him.

Zyuu, for all her normal...Zyuuness...silently agrees with Shinji.

This is an alien world for her. She should not be here.

"Lilith!" Shinji yells, "Now would be a good time! Get us out of here!"

Grabbing Shinji by the collar, Zyuu lifts him up, holding him like a bride over the threshold and sprinting. The bee continues buzzing, Zyuu running past the shattered mountain of the grinning face, past fallen eidoleons, at the end of the black glass desert. In the distance, a great black mountain looms, bare but rumbling like a sleeping volcano.

And the sky is gray and shadowed. The mountains that once supported it like columns are down to a handful, either shattered to rumble, or dismantled by their own hands.

The ground rumbles. The ground shifts as Camael slams its claws into it, tossing them both off their feet. The scramble back as it opens its mandibles, a tunnel lined in teeth revealed for their fate...

And then a black tendril slams into the face of the Cherubim, popping eyes like pustules, the Cherubim screaming as it collapses, wings twitching as LCL pools around it. The ground around Shinji and Zyuu rises, wrapped in black like a cup, rising through the air, past the shifting black mass, past the bone lined red core, and finally coming face to face with the metal deaths head grimace. Deep within it, the eyes glow like twin crimson suns.

And the black mountain speaks in thunder.

"Ikari."

Shinji slowly rises, standing between his sister and the Arm of God.

"You have become an annoyance."


...


A rush of air, and it lands in a crouch. Holding the replica lance in one hand, its other hand surrounded by orange liquid light, the True Evangelion rises to its feet. Sensing the new prey, several of the Camaeli swarm rise, flying towards the blue and black Evangelion.

In the Entry Plug, Kaworu sighs, sensing the rage, the mindlessness of them. He knows, of course. That this Cherubim is the reflection of Matariel, and would not be surprised if it holds resentment towards him.

He slew Matariel, after all.

Stabbing the lance into the ground, the Mark-06 raises its hands. The visor glows steady orange, seven wings of orange light folding out from behind the god machine. A sphere forms around the Camaeli, locking them in place as if trapped in amber. A steady hum builds, a faint sound of clapping wings in the wind.

And then they are gone.

"Kaworu!"

The Mark-06 turns to see Zwei walking over, covered in red LCL sticking like honey, a torn off stinger in its hand.

"Uri," Kaworu says, and smiles, "It's good to see you again. Are you well?"

"More or less. Where did you send them?"

"The Photosphere. I don't think their AT Fields will protect them there, at least," he says, as the Mark-06 once more hefts up its lance, "Come. We have more to deal with before this day's over."

The replica blade extends into a lance, the Mark-06 holding it in both hands before it. And thrusting it forward, impaling one of the Camael on it, the True Eva wades into the fray.


...


"You have become an annoyance. You once more are brought into our mind and your flail like an animal, without purpose. Your kind struggles with inevitability, like dust on the cosmic wind."

Zyuu hides behind him. The voice booms like thunder down the mountainside, deep and reverberating.

"Your mad god sees this as a victory. Seeing the truth. Seeing the existence your kind was not meant to experience. But even now she sees the inevitability of fate as it grinds towards destruction. Even now, she sees that hope for her brood is lost."

Somehow, Shinji finds his voice.

"H...how?" he asks, "I thought we killed you. We blasted you with...that explosion from the Dirac!"

"The beings you term 'Angels' are not mere corporeal beings. We exist. The death of a physical body no more destroys us than the severing of a limb destroys you. We are-"

A roar, and the Camael Queen lunges at Zeruel, hissing through blood covered jaws as it brings its teeth and claws down upon the tendrils of the Angel. Tendrils wrap around its head and neck before the Cherubim is yanked upwards and slammed into the ground.

"Silence. Abomination."


...


Inside the Entry Plug, Kaworu feels the presence. Something is happening. As the lance stabs through another of the Camaeli, he feels the tugging presence. It is familiar...but not possible. Zeruel is not at his full power. He is still restrained, the remaining fragment of his Core encased in machines in Berlin.

The Mark-06 extends its hand. A sphere of energy appears, tightly wrapped AT Fields formed into a ball, which launches. It penetrates a Camaeli's head, emerging from the stinger, and the bee drops dead to the ground.

One more down. Only about five hundred more to go.

A glance at Uri's cockpit. He sees the wince. Of course, he does not know of the Overmind, yet. He will have to introduce his brother to those who remain...if Uri can accept the truth about himself that easily, that is.

Artillery batteries come to life. The AT Fields of the insects are hammered from all sides, the missiles and shells hammering them from every angle, distracting them before cornering them, herding them towards the Evas. Which the Camael don't realize before Go-kun and Zwei descend on them.

"Ah, good idea," Kaworu says, "Now we just need to find the Core."


...


The flickering and buzzing dies down, as Zeruel turns back to the two Lilim before him. The cupped ground rises, inches from the maw and mask of the Angel of Might. It is massive, Shinji muses. Even when it first attacked NERV, when it came face to face with him deep in the bowels of Headquarters, it did not seem this big.

"How are you still alive?" Shinji asks.

"Some things are not fated to die, Ikari. Not before their time. Our time is coming soon."

"Soon?" Shinji asks, "What do you mean, soon?"

"I have been given a revelation."

The voice echoes and reverberates.

"I have had your power, your 'technology' explained to me."

The bird shaped sun in the sky flickers. The deep red suns in the crevices of the masks' eyes glow.

"You...I thought Angels didn't understand technology..."

"Technology is the curse of the Black Seed. Your ability to destroy yourselves. That which you term 'angels' have no need to flame, for we are invincible against the elements. We have no need to create weapons to hunt with, for we are built within our own methods of war. We have no need to destroy ourselves, for we are eternal."

"So...you're...learning?"

The thought does not give Shinji any sense of relief. Even if some of them have learned- such as Junior, and Lilly, and even the Israfim, he doesn't like the idea of something like the one in front of him knowing the difference between him and his Eva.

"The abominations you term 'cherubim' are mere animals. You are fools to fear them. They are beasts which lash out, unable to comprehend. Or learn. It is time you are reminded which of us you are right to fear."

A faint shape on the wind, in the air. Shinji can see a shadow on this world, but still keeps his attention on the Angel before him. Zyuu is shaking behind him, hiding to escape the gaze of the monster.

"We shall meet again, Ikari. When we do, you will be at the helm of the weapon you used to humble Father. We will have the battle we were meant to. Fate will not be denied. Songs will be sung of the carnage that shall be wrought. The end of this age shall be decided."

The Angel turns, to the twitching queen of the Camael. His eyes glow and a lance of pink light stabs out, the Camaeli screeching before it explodes, a cross shaped, rising cloud of gas and fire dominating the angelic plane. Zeruel turns back to them. The glow of his eyes hangs over them like twin red stars.

"Prepare for my arrival."

And then the world is gone.


...


"Sub Director! The Blue Patterns are disappearing!"

On the Big Screen, they can watch as the giant bees hang in the air, flapping their now underpowered wings before dropping to the pavement below. The steady glow that accompanies them disappears, dropping them to the ground, shattering wings and stingers and proving them oh so vulnerable.

Missiles and artillery fire rip into them as Go-kun proceeds to open fire with his shoulder batteries, breaking through the natural armor of the massive creatures as Zwei begins cutting into them with his progressive knives.

The Mark-06 extends its hands.

"Director Sohryu, if I may. NERV-Berlin is well equipped to study the Camaeli now that they are no longer an immediate threat."

"Feel free, Kaworu," Pieter responds, tapping the mic control, "We'll focus on cleanup, here."

A sphere of orange manifests, wrapping around the Camaeli as Go-kun and Zwei step back. Is surrounds the Mark-06, surrounds the swarm of angelic bees, careful to bend around buildings and artillery, careful to only enclose the Evangelion and its targets. It turns opaque, humming, a solid structure of gold and red that rises into the sky.

And then there is a rush of air, and it is gone.

"Okay, that's that," Pieter says, "Let's clean up the grubs and hives. Get out the flamethrowers."


...


"Okay. Lilith?"

"I am here, Ikari-kun."

"That's just creepy. Please don't call me that."

"No."

A sigh. Which is odd, because he can't tell if he has a body, right now. He can sense, however, that is is not just him and Lilith, or little Lilith, here with him.

"Zyuu?"

"Oi."

"Good. Wanted to make sure we're all here...say, Zyuu? Can I ask a question? What did Mom mean when she said 'learn to speak proper French?' I thought you do speak proper French."

"Oh. Well, I don't."

"You don't? Then...how do you..."

"I memorized the translation program they use online, and use it to translate whatever I want into whatever language I want! So I can speak any language at all! Vous utilisez ce programme de manière incorrecte. Je gebruikt dit programma verkeerd. 말해이 명확주세요. See?"

"..."

"...what."

"You...memorized Google Translate?"

"Oi."

"Zyuu, wouldn't it just have been easier to learn French?"

"...not sure what you mean there."

"That's stupid."

"No, you're stupid!"

"Am not!"

"Non, vous êtes un crétin stupide fait de stupide!"

"Ikari-kun."

"Oh, right," Shinji sighs, the exasperated tone in the splinter of the Progenitor becoming evident, "Okay. So, let's talk. Why don't remember that I have an aunt? Why didn't my Mom ever mention her? And why did she act like Rei?"

"I found that odd, too."

"Because."

"Because what?"

He tries to shrug, which is pointless when bodiless.

"Why, though? You...you've been watching my family, haven't you?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"The war must end, Ikari-kun."


...


Cage 3.

Two people run into the launch bay, technicians who's job it is to maintain the now frozen and locked down Mark-01 turning to see Commander Ikari and the twelve year old girl with brown pigtails enter. They salute to the Commander. Those of the technicians present who know who the girl is salute to her, too.

"Halt defrost on the Mark-01," Gendo orders, "Ichi?"

"Ready," the girl says, rolling her neck with an audible whir.

"You're sure this is going to work?"

She nods, smiling.

"And..."

"And I promise I won't try to break out," she says with a sigh, "I really wish I was grown up last time Mom took me to the beach..."

She closes her eyes. Her body goes limp, Gendo catching it with a grunt. He needs to talk to the girls about making Ichi a lighter avatar body.

But that is not the technicians' concerns, as the Mark-01's eyes glow deep cobalt blue, the entry plug set halfway into its neck whirring and sliding in.

"Fits like a glove!" Ichi's voice booms, now through the speakers built into the Evangelion's shoulders, "Little chilly, though. Okay. Right. S2 organ coming to power, I've got my connection to the Big Momma going strong. It's deeeeee-tanging time!"


...


"Coming in on the signals, now," Maya reports, Aoi and Megumi, two of her fellow bridge staff, behind her. In one hand, she has her PDA, the screen set to flashlight mode, her other hand holding a pistol. She can hear the Section-2 personnel behind them, their flashlight mounted assault rifles ready.

"Sub Director, we're coming in on the signals. Naok00 reported a few got out of her traps."

"Understood, Ibuki. Pinpoint the location and we'll have the defenses do the rest."

A sound, like slithering flesh on walls, clattering of teeth. Maya flattens her back against the corner, the other two bridge bunnies next to her as she brings up and undoes the safety on her gun. A careful hand signal to the two technicians and the two guards, and she bursts out of the corner, gun raised...

And pointed at half a Camael grub.

Ah. Hello.

Aoi begins gagging, Maya tilting her head as Megumi turns pale. The other half of the Camael grub is currently in Junior's mouth as the Sandalphin chews, a sound much like a coffee grinder at full power.

Several not moving grubs are at the base of his tail. Given, they aren't sure what they look like when they're alive, they can't tell what killed them. Although the blue splotches on the wall seem to be a good indication.

"Junior?" Maya asks, "What are you...doing?"

Aiding with cleanup. Would you like some?

He holds up a dangling, twitching grub leg.

They're quite delicious.

A retching sound, as Aoi's gagging gives way to full vomiting.

"No," Maya says, "No. No no no. We're fine."

Understood. By the way, Lieutenant. Have you seen Lilly?

Maya shrugs.

"I'm...sure that she'll show up. I...wouldn't be surprised if she hid when the bees appeared."

Junior nods, quickly sucking up the rest of the grub. Grinding it in his maw, he closes his mouth, swallows, and belches, before picking up another inert grub and resuming his meal.


...


The massive bee continues stabbing with its stinger, bouncing off the orange field held by the two MP Evangelions as the third continues spraying the gas at it. The eight MP Evas, under the direction of the Mark-06, have managed to sedate the majority of the Camael swarm. Well, eight of the nine.

The ninth is off in the corner of the massive hangar, while Kei comes down onto one of the high level catwalks and takes out the megaphone.

"Omega," she shouts, "Help your Daddy subjugate the giant bees!"

"NO! ICKY!"

In the entry plug, Kaworu sighs, continuing to close the AT fields around the Camaeli as more drop into slumber.

"Perhaps we should consider more Avatar bodies for them," he says to himself, "It would be nice to spend more time as a family. Outside of giant robots."


...


"You've been watching my family, haven't you? You...were Meredith, weren't you?"

"A portion of myself was her. She influenced the choices of your mother. She ensured that your mother chose the sciences. We saw that your family held the highest probability of bringing about a satisfactory end to the war between ADAM and myself."

"How?"

"Your family lived in what is now Tokyo-3. Your grandfather owned a house in the Hakone region. I visited him in dreams. I told him how to create her."

"Then why doesn't anyone remember her?"

"..."

"Well, that sucks," Zyuu says, "I wanted an aunt. I mean, another aunt. It would've been fun to have an Aunt like us. :C."

"How can you do that? I mean, Rei can do that, but it makes no sense!"

"Yes. :P."

"What the f_? How do you do that? I'm a Lilithian nephilim do, and I can't! D:! F_!"

"That was what you needed to see. You needed to see the consequences. You needed to see the connection. And I needed to restore you to human, so you could do what you had to do."

"And then what?"

"You will see. You will do what you must. You will-"

"Consider letting them go right now, howsabout?"

The world forms, given substance. Shinji and Zyuu find themselves standing on something, Lilith floating before them. And floating above them now, blazing like a new day sun, is-

"Ichi!"

"Hey there, bro," Ichi says, grinning, "I got Dad to give me the keys to the giant robot. Sorry to interrupt, Top Half, but we're going to be going home, now."


...


The eyes of the Evangelion glow bright blue. The low throb of the Core cracks the ice and bakelite surrounding the Mark-01, a steady glow from its chest as it does its work. The back of the neck retracts, the plate revealing the Entry Plug as it spins out, drains, and opens.

And clad in a plugsuit, Shinji climbs out, spitting out a wad of LCL as he walks up to Gendo, who stands at the end of the catwalk with his hands in his pockets.

"Thanks for the plugsuit, Dad."

"I figured you didn't want to be in an enclosed space naked with Zyuu."


...


Eyes open with a groan. Mana sits up to find Misato leaning on the doorway of the room, clapping her hands as Mana raises an eyebrow. Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, the teenage cyborg bounces to her feet, then catches the side of the bed to keep from falling.

"Good work," Misato says, "We didn't get any major infiltration, and you herded the giant bee things to where we could deal with them."

Mana shrugs, rolling her neck.

"It was just like plugging into Jet Alone. Wasn't anything major, ma'am."

"Nah," Misato says, "I'd say it was. Say, I wanted to ask you something."

Mana nods.

"Yeah?"

"Sohryu's maybe figured out what's wrong between you and Unit-07," Misato says, "And it means you might not be the best pilot for it. So, since we might not have you pilot...what you think about transferring into Tactical?"


...


And deep in Sheol, still in her enclosed room, still clad in a white shirt, Lilith narrows her eyes. Something, she muses, may be wrong.

"Ah," she says, as the door closes, "I may have...miscalculated."


...


"We may have miscalculated," the [ANCESTOR] says, hands on either side of Lilly as the Lelielim trills happily, "Just...all of these memories are errors. Nothing worked like it should have. Kemuel hasn't even activated..."

The pulsing white tree of Cahethal remains silent.

"Four and a half billion solar rotations and this hasn't been resolved," the not-Shinji says, "That's...unthinkable. The Black Seed on the Planet*3 is working in a cyclical format and should have landed on Planet*4, the White Seed Progenitor has lost direct control of the Terraforming Apparatus...you should not be operating independently!"

He releases Lilly. The sphere rises, floating up to eye level of the [ANCESTOR].

:]?

"No, it's not that," he says, hands thrust into his pockets, "It's...there's a serious problem. ADAM is not functioning properly. Lilith is not functioning properly. This should have all been resolved at least two billion solar rotations before and it hasn't. The White Seed has been functioning for far too long and the Black Seed is not functioning properly at all. Even the activation of the [FAILSAFE] systems isn't working. I need to send a report out. A countermeasure has to be activated. Do you understand?"

8}.

"Good. You have time to fix it, but if you don't, well...we tried. Thank you."

A pop, a brief rush of air into the Dirac, and Lilly is gone. The form of the [ANCESTOR] fades, becoming discorporeal once more, but Cahethal remains.

And what, may I ask

Will be the fate of the Seed?

I have watched them

Nurture themselves,

And even seen the possibility

That peace

Is possible between them.

If coexistence is possible, it means they can achieve some sort of balance. If it isn't, it puts the entire planetary system in danger. We've seen it happen too many times. If it is necessary, the entire system will have to be restarted.

The tree of life flickers. If such a thing were evident on it, it would show...regret.

I understand that

Such things may be necessary.

I regret that it may be the case.

But somethings are

Greater than individuals

Or what makes them.

A sigh, in the boundless ether.

Life is important. Life begets life. Sentience is good, but it can come in time. We must do what we must. [ANCESTOR] maintenance program returning to sleep mode. Good night, Cahethal.

Goodnight, watcher,

May you dream of balance

And peaceful coexistence.

A silence falls once more onto the Dirac. And Cahethal folds upon itself once more, and silently wades into the streams of between space, to watch, and wait, once more.


...


Report sent.

Biological situation critical.

Progenitor-class Seedforms:

Emergency repair needed.

CONTROL-Type Seed requested.

Designation: [RED MOON] activated.

Transit time:

20 Planet*3 Solar Revolutions.

End Report.


...


It was late at night when everything was finally resolved, and everyone went home to sleep. The next morning, at the Ikari household, the doors open and Yui Ikari enters with a sigh, dropping her purse at the table by the door and stumbling into the apartment. A note on the fridge, written in Gendo's handwriting, succinctly summing up what happened. Of course, she got the details from Ritsuko, including the whole 'Shinji and Zyuu got eaten by Lilith but they're better now,' explanation.

She stumbles over to the bedroom, opening the door to what was Rei's room. Shinji is sleeping on the bed. Merrill is on his chest, Ichi's deactivated avatar on the foot of the bed. She has to talk with both of them, especially since it was Ichi's quick thinking which prevented a disaster.

A sigh, and she sneaks off, to change, to check her messages, to maybe take a day off and relax-

And to react to the ear-splitting scream from the floor below. She runs to the stairs, running down them. Gendo is already at NERV, and Shinji, she hears, is scrambling out of bed. She runs into the large apartment below their own.

The girls are gathered at the bathroom. Pushing past them, she sees what they are gathered for, the Ree quiet as they watch with wide eyes. Zyuu, standing at the sink, mouth open. It is then that Yui realizes something. What got the attention of her sisters, and made her scream.

There is color in those normally pale cheeks.

Shinji skids to a stop next to her. The cat is clinging to his back, and Yui alternates her gaze between her pale, blue haired son, and the daughter standing at the sink.

Zyuu slowly turns to her. Her mouth opens and closes. Her fingers twitch, and when she turns to her mother, it is then that Yui sees green eyes staring back at her.

"Zut alors," Zyuu says.

And promptly faints.