Disclaimer: I own nothing. I don't own Neon Genesis Evangelion or Ranma ½ and all the rights are still in the hands of the appropriate copyright holders. Any original characters, however, are all mine.

Evangelical History

Rewrite 3 (or is it 4?)

By Suekeiichi Kaiton


Author's Note:

Hello everyone and thank you for taking the time to slog through this rewrite. I acknowledge that many readers enjoyed the first draft and were confused and angered by my meandering story that truly went nowhere. There were a lot of things I wanted to accomplish with the original and the two rewrites thereafter, but I never really got to the juicy bits I wanted. A lot of the material ended up in 'One-Winged Angel or ½ the Heavens' and yes, I realize that I very seldom finish anything I start. Mainly this was due to the lack of preparation – I've never really planned how things would transpire in a literal sense, I usually just wrote what I wanted in order to piece together scenes I wanted to write. Know that this rewrite, however, has been planned several chapters ahead so all I really have to do is follow the schedule and write the material. I can't promise that I will finish but I do give anyone free reign to continue or branch off from this work. Just please let me know before you write anything.

This version of 'Evangelical History' will have little to do with the original idea aside from some stolen characters and situations. This is really just what I want to write at the moment. I hope someone here enjoys this and I thank you.

---Chapter One---

Gendo Ikari watched his wife's mentor through the Geofront's security cameras as the old man walked leisurely down to the secure holding area of Terminal Dogma. The secure area housed many weapons and technology that were by-products of the Evangelion generation process, the lab where Rei was born for example, as well as GEHIRN's entire hard file dump. From his lair at the apex of the pyramid in the centre of the Geofront's flat forested area the elder Ikari wove his webs of deceit and murder, looking down on the many employees of NERV and SEELE alike. Most were inconsequential to his ultimate goal save Rei, Shinji, Ritsuko Akagi, and, of course, Fuyutsuki.

This was what made his professor's weekly trips down to secure holding all the more worrying…

SEELE knew that there were secrets in the bowels of NERV to which they were not privy and frankly speaking they didn't care about the side projects of Evangelion generation – they only cared about threats to their timetable and goals. The collection of relics and unfinished project dead-ends in secure holding didn't so much as raise an eyebrow on the Committee. They believed that there was nothing down there that could possibly jeopardize their rule. Gendo knew simply because of that decision that they were all fools, even Kihl.

For there was something else safely hidden in secure holding under quadruple lock-and-key; something that perhaps SEELE didn't even realize they had missed in the shift from GEHIRN to NERV. That something, or more accurately, someone, was locked in a pressurized cell two floors up from Heaven's Gate. The individual was shackled with metal and technology to the cramped cell and had not seen true sunlight for nearly a decade. She was one of the dirtiest secrets Gendo kept from SEELE, and a finely honed instrument he had not needed to wield since Yui was…killed.

Fuyutsuki made the trip down every week on Saturday, his only day off each week, and stayed for several hours simply talking with the prisoner. She was allowed all the books and papers and instruments she requested but everything was confiscated after Fuyutsuki's weekly visit so she didn't get any ideas of rebellion or escape. A nerve gas was used to drive her to unconsciousness so that the guard could clear her room and replace everything fresh. Even a tool with no purpose could still be useful. The woman's writings had provided several innovations to Evangelion repair that Akagi believed dated back to GEHIRN. Still, SEELE's spies in the base would inevitably discover the prisoner and report back to their masters. That would be a problem.

When Fuyutsuki passed through the guardroom and entered the cell Gendo cut the feed. The old man would report anything important to him after his meeting. Ikari turned back to the reports on his desk and summoned Ritsuko to report on the repairs to Tokyo-3 after the Fifth Angel's destruction.

Kozou Fuyutsuki opened the door and sat down in his usual chair, a high-back leather affair the color of port wine. His drab maroon uniform blended almost perfectly with the leather grain. Crossing his legs he looked at the mountain of papers and dog-eared books strewn across the bare metal floor. If anything, she was certainly working hard on the problem…

"You're early today, professor. Not that I mind. I have some new calculations to run past you." The auburn-haired woman in a grey jumpsuit handed a stack of papers to him with the subtle clatter of her wrist shackles. "I've been looking over Dr. Akagi's notes on the cellular degeneration. Unstoppable necrosis is the end result."

Fuyutsuki glanced through the pencil scribbles and frowned. He'd come to the same conclusion. "Well I don't think Ikari will be particularly pleased with two pilots and two units rotting alive."

"Heh, unlike me, right? He seems perfectly happy to let me rot down here." The woman tossed her pencil across the desk and stood up, taking a moment to stretch and crack her spine back into alignment. "Still, I'm alive, aren't I?"

"There is that…but your notes here don't end with death."

"Hmm? Oh yes, I think he'll be very happy with this next bit. Turn the page."

"You can't be serious! You know he'll never agree to this!"

"I don't see that he has a choice. It's either this or Shinji and Rei both die. I know he doesn't care about Rei but losing Shinji would be very bad. Asuka still isn't scheduled for transfer for another few weeks, right?"


The woman cut him off with a glare and pointed to her desk. "I've gone through every single scenario – without the MAGI's help mind you – and this is the only possibility that ends with both Evas and pilots surviving."

"But he will never allow it! You know that. He'd rather torture you than agree to this." He felt for the woman's plight, really he did, as heartless as he tried to act seeing one of his favorite students locked up for ten years tugged at his conscience every single day. That was the reason for his weekly visits and talks about everything happening aboveground.

"You can tell him he can try but I'd rather die than give him the answer. He knows that. It stays with me – unless he can find a replacement." She narrowed her eyes dangerously. "And we both know there's no one who can do this but me."

"But, Aya, you can't really think he'll just let you out!"

"Fine, professor, you go and run your tests with Ritsuko – hell, run my notes through the MAGI and I guarantee you won't find another alternative. It's my way or the highway. And I bet you Rokubungi's getting so nervous he'll leap at the chance to save his precious scenario."

Fuyutsuki sighed and folded the booklet of notes. This really wasn't what he'd wanted to do today; he'd had plans to run a few new hypotheses by her but this mess assured him not only a short visit but a long day discussing the proposal with Ikari. Pity really, he didn't have anyone else to talk shop with since…well, since before GEHIRN became NERV.

"I suppose that's it for our meeting this week, then?"

"Don't worry, Kozou, I'm sure we'll be able to talk again when he lets me out of here."

Fuyutsuki stood up and rapped on the metal door. The guard opened it within three seconds. "You seem very sure about this? How?"

Aya Ayanami smirked at her former teacher and buffed her nails against the thin fabric of her shirt.

"I've got him by the balls, professor. Show him the calculations and he'll know I do. He don't got no choice."

Wrinkling his nose with distaste at the common-sounding turn of phrase Fuyutsuki left the cell and began the laborious trek back up to Gendo's lair.

Looking through the notes again on his way up the main escalator through the public entry area he had to admit there didn't seem to be any other way to save the pilots or Evangelions. He knew that Gendo valued the Evas more than their pilots but as a former teacher and Yui's friend he couldn't turn a blind eye to the suffering of Shinji and Rei. The burns from the Fifth's particle beam were steadily getting worse – the result of high synch ratios and Angelic contamination during Operation Yashima. What began as tender burns quickly became oozing sores on both humans and Evangelions that necessitated the hospitalization of the pilots. With the Second Child still in Germany and the Fourth an unknown the city was defenseless if the next Angel attacked. There didn't seem to be any choice.

He stopped by Dr. Akagi's office on his way back to run the numbers before presenting the plan but found the room empty. A message from the Commander still hung atop the desk's holographic display. Probably another meeting about the problem. That seemed to be all they were doing – chasing their tails trying to solve an impossible problem when the answer was calmly sitting with that self-satisfied smirk down in the depths. Well, he reasoned, there wasn't any way to stall the inevitable now – he'd just have to bite the bullet and present the calculations to Ikari and Akagi at the same time. Maybe with Ritsuko's help he could convince the commander to free his prized prisoner.

He appeared via the personal lift from his own office in the dark expansive room at the top of Central Dogma while Dr. Akagi was reviewing the situation for the thousandth time that week. Just as he thought there hadn't been an epiphany yet, no hope, no cure, no plan yet. Perhaps Ayanami was right, perhaps Gendo would let her free in order to save his precious scenario…

"Ah, Fuyutsuki, we were just discussing The Problem. Your thoughts?" And by that he really meant Ayanami's take on the situation.

"I do have some new thoughts on the matter, Ikari, but it would require some equipment from secure holding." Kozou handed the notes to Gendo who flipped slowly through the thin pages. A slight tightening around the eyes was the only visible sign of his anger and fear but his mentor caught it all the same, inwardly chuckling that Ayanami was still able to rankle the man despite being imprisoned.

"Dr. Akagi, will this work?" Gendo slid the papers across the front of his desk and the blonde picked them up gingerly, as if afraid of what was written. She could feel the tension in the air.

Ritsuko Akagi was not a woman easily impressed or surprised. She lived her life with complacent foreknowledge of basic events: wake up, work, eat, drink, deal with Angel attacks, maintain the MAGI, have a tryst with Gendo, and finally go to sleep. She didn't deal with impossible situations very well which made her irritated with the current crisis. All her knowledge of Project E and the Evangelion's unique biological states gave her not one single clue to reverse the damage slowly eating away at the biomechanical weapons or pilots.

What she saw on the paper was impossible. Yet the calculations were sound.

"This would work if we could make it happen but it would take months-years to program something with this kind of biological sophistication. The pilots don't have that long."

Gendo leaned back in his chair. "But it would work."

"Yes. I won't make any guarantees until I run the numbers through the MAGI but it could work." She looked at the sub-commander with new respect. "Did you come up with this on your own? This is brilliant!"

"I wish I could take all the credit, Dr. Akagi, but no. I didn't come up with the plan or write those calculations. An old student of mine came up with that. I've been discussing the problem with her for the past weeks and she tried to do what she could."

"Well, your student should come work with us. This is…breathtaking! I wouldn't have even thought to solve the problem with biometrics and invasive ego manipulation." She decided not to address the problem of discussing NERV business with civilians since this was the sub-commander they were talking about. That and Gendo didn't seem too worried about an outsider helping them – probably knew the woman as well.

"Fuyutsuki-sensei, have this student come here to assist us. I want her here today. Spare no expense." Gendo glared at his mentor and flicked his freezing gaze on Ritsuko. "Dr. Akagi, you will assist this woman with anything she may require. Unit-01 and Rei are your top priorities."

Fuyutsuki sighed. Yes, Gendo was becoming more and more heartless the further his plans reached. Yui simply won't forgive him when the time comes, and he won't have anyone to blame but himself. Perhaps he himself should take more of an interest in Yui's son…

"I'll call her right now…she can probably get here in a few hours."

"Good. See to it. Dr. Akagi prepare the pilots and Evas for the procedure."

Ritsuko knew there was something going on behind the scenes but didn't feel brave enough to inquire about just what it was, so she saluted and walked briskly out of the office.

"Are you sure about this? You locked her up because you couldn't trust her."

"I know that. But desperate times make for strange bedfellows, professor; you should know that better than most." Gendo stood up and turned to the wide bank of windows behind his desk. "She is a dangerous element, Fuyutsuki, but I believe I have the leverage to keep her in line for the time being. Free her and brief her. No one is to know she's been kept here. She is simply an old colleague that left GEHIRN before its dissolution."

"What if she tries to tell? What if she attacks you? You know what a loose cannon she can be!"

"I will handle those problems if they occur, professor, for now I hold enough cards to see her hand."

Aya Ayanami listened to her teacher's words and understood exactly what Gendo was thinking. What really got her panties in a bunch was the fact he was right: he did have the right leverage to ensure her cooperation. But we'd just see how long he could control her once the ball began rolling. She accepted the new clothing and ID card along with her old pair of fake glasses and file of notes Gendo had been systematically stealing from her cell for the past decade. Well, time to see if she still had it or if the years of seclusion had dulled her abilities to nothingness.

"How do I look, sensei?" She twirled around and smoothed out her brown skirt. "Is it me?"

"Well, it's certainly a refreshing change from the grey. Are you sure about this? You realize if he even thinks you're plotting against him he'll have you killed."

"Feh, he wouldn't be the first to try and he probably won't be the last. Better men than him have tried, though, and I'm still here." She patted the older man on the shoulder and walked out of the cell for the first time in nearly five years. "Don't worry your pretty little head, sensei; I'll be good for now."

"What about Rei? How are you going to explain yourself?" The guard saluted the pair as they walked through secure holding back to the elevator.

"She knows what she is, right? I'll probably just tell her the truth."


"It depends on whether I save them both anyway, right? We can sweat the details afterward."

Fuyutsuki's face went white. "What do you mean if you save them? You don't know if you can?"

"Don't worry; if I fail he'll just kill me, right? Better than staying a caged rat for the rest of my life."

The rest of the trip up through the main shaft to Central Dogma passed in silence. Aya thinking about the wonderful foods she would eat once she got topside, Fuyutsuki imagining all the horrible ways Gendo was going to have her killed. Most NERV personnel were in the city overseeing the repairs to the fortress or trying to figure out how to clear away the Fifth Angel's remains. As such they encountered only two other technicians on their way to Dr. Akagi's office.

"Did you ever meet Ritsuko, Aya? She worked for GEHIRN around the time Rei was born." It surprised him that he'd ever asked her that question before but it was probably because the idea that Aya would ever escape her cell and actually meet the younger Dr. Akagi was more than a little preposterous. Now however…

"Naoko spoke of her often enough but no, I never met her before." Aya eyed the corridors and promenades with unabashed curiosity, the base had certainly changed since GEHIRN. "So I used to work for GEHIRN but left for Germany before it became NERV, right? Does that mean I can't talk about my old work?"

"I would think it'd be safe but don't talk too much about Yui or Naoko, you don't want to run around giving Ikari a reason."

"As if he would dare."

As the unlikely pair approached the closed steel security door to Dr. Ritsuko Akagi's office, inside the good doctor eyed her fidgeting college friend impatiently waiting on the couch. Misato Katsuragi had an impatient streak a mile wide that made her career decision to tactical operations all the more mystifying since strategy was itself a game of patience and time. The purple-haired woman bit her thumbnail for the twelfth time and stood up, pacing back and forth twice before sitting back down.

"Would you please just stop that," Ritsuko finally snapped, "I understand your impatience but if you can't keep it under control take it somewhere else."

"So what do we know about this person?" Misato wasn't going to allow some random stranger to fiddling around with her young charge just for the hell of it…even if it was one of the vice-commander's associates. "Name? Age? Do we know anything about her?"

"Nothing yet. We'll just have to find out when they arrive." Ritsuko finished the MAGI's subroutine and closed her terminal. Despite the commander's decision and Fuyutsuki's usually impeccable record with students (Gendo didn't count because the elder man had never actually taught him) she still smelled something fishy about the situation. Maybe it was the rapid response from Ikari, maybe it was the calculations accurate to the 100th decimal point that seemingly appeared from thin air, but something was wrong with the quick arrival of their 'guest.' Even if the person lived in Tokyo-3 it took up to two days for security clearance from Section Two and Internal Security. "What does your finely-honed sense of smell detect about all this?"

"It stinks. This person just happens to have the answers to all our problems, problems, mind you, that even you couldn't solve, and she's living here in our backyard? It's a little too convenient." Misato bit her thumbnail again. "There's something going on here."

"I've thought the same thing. Wanna put our heads together on this one?"

"Maybe after Shinji-kun's better."

The door chime put an abrupt halt to their conversation.

"Come in."

The door slide open to reveal the vice-commander and an attractive woman in her late twenties-early thirties with auburn hair and a very…generous bust barely constrained by a white button-up blouse. Ritsuko had to hand it to Fuyutsuki; he certainly picked the beautiful students. Except for Gendo of course.

"Dr. Akagi, Captain Katsuragi, I'd like you to meet Aya Ayanami – formally of GEHIRN." Kozou held back a grin at the wide eyes and dropped jaws. This was certainly going to rankle Ikari. "Aya, this is the director of tactical operations," he gestured to Misato, "and the head of development."

"It's a pleasure to meet you both." Aya bowed low and looked at the younger Akagi. Yes, there was a definite resemblance once she saw through the dyed blonde hair and bright red lipstick. She briefly remembered seeing a photograph of Ritsuko and Naoko, with the former in her natural red hair color. "I understand that time is of the essence, where are the pilots?"

"Uh…" Misato always was the more eloquent of the two and she demonstrated it by staring blankly at the woman then turning to the blonde. "Ritsu! Are you gonna ask or should I?"

"Um," the scientist cleared her throat, "are you any relation to Rei Ayanami, the First Child?"

Aya smirked and turned to Fuyutsuki with a look that virtually asked 'you didn't tell them?' before pole-axing the pair with a determined stare. "Yes, Dr. Akagi, I am Rei's mother. Now where is she? If the cellular degeneration has reached the third stage of ego contamination we don't have a moment to waste."

"Of-of course, I'm sorry, follow me."

The walk from her office to the medical ward First Cranial Nerve felt like it took an eternity with the scientist feeling like a toy soldier walking awkwardly in the aftermath of a revelation that tore her carefully constructed worldview to shreds. Misato looked equally unnerved, casting suspicious looks at the strange red-head and Fuyutsuki's back as the pair walked ahead.

There was no possible way that this new woman, this Aya, could be Rei's mother. Rei was an artificially created humanoid clone taken from samples of Lilith and Yui Ikari, she wasn't conceived, she didn't gestate, and she certainly wasn't born in the traditional sense. She was grown in the birthing tubes one floor up from Heaven's Gate in the Chamber of Grahf there just wasn't any way this new woman could be the mother. Was she delusional? Did she suffer a similar breakdown to Kyoko Sohryu and saw the blue-haired pilot as her 'daughter'? If the vice-commander knew the answers he gave no outward sign of sharing them, nor did he seem especially guarded around her – in fact, he seemed more at ease.

"Ritsu, whaddya think about this?" Misato leaned over and whispered through her hair. "Maybe she's the reason Rei has no records? A top scientist leaving GEHIRN would be a bad image so they erased all documents?" The theory didn't really make any sense considering the fact that everyone who worked for GEHIRN went right over to NERV when the MAGI went online except the people who died. One lone scientist, apparently an expert in her field, and the mother of one of the Children leaving the organization to live in Germany? None of it made any sense. She'd do some digging through outside channels and contact the German branch just in case anyone there knew about Aya Ayanami.

"No, I'm sure she was with GEHIRN, not with me but maybe during the development of the MAGI. I remember…something about her, the commander said something…I can't quite remember what it was." Ritsuko frowned. It wasn't like her to forget crucial information. She'd been with her mother, then, and-and Rei! It was when they were first introduced to Rei. "The commander said he was taking care of a child of a colleague."

"Humph…he would say something like that." Aya stopped in front of the pilot's room. "I'll go in alone for now. If I need you, I'll call."

"Now wait just a minute! We can't just-"

"Captain Katsuragi," Fuyutsuki interrupted, "Dr. Ayanami is perfectly capable of examining the pilots alone. She can't possibly make things any worse than they already are." The purple-haired woman shut her mouth with a muted click. Ritsuko simply nodded dumbly. They would certainly be observing through the observation window if the stranger did anything untoward.

As the three NERV officers shuffled into the viewing room on the other side of the wall, Aya took a deep breath and opened the door.

Processed air, redolent with the sour-sweet stink of decay splashed across her face and she barely held back a violent spasm of vomit. The room glowed white with sterility and the rays of artificial sunlight seeping through the tinted glass window behind the two pilots' beds. Shinji lay in the left and Rei on the right, both hooked up to breathing apparatus and life monitors. Neither showed real signs of breathing, only the barest inflation before a soft wheeze. Two morphine drips trickled steadily beside both beds which accounted for the children's comfort and lack of agonizing screams as they rotted alive. A lone nurse adjusting the IVs looked up at her entrance.

"Get out." The girl started to open her mouth in protest before Aya crossed the distance between them in an instant, pushing herself into the girl's face. "Get out now."

The nurse wisely decided to leave.

"Good afternoon, Shinji Ikari, Rei, I know you can't hear me at the moment but I'm here to help you." She switched off the monitors and IVs but left the respirators running. They weren't capable of breathing on their own…yet.

Next she pulled the sheets off both pilots and let them fall to the floor. Because of the complex cleaning needed every hour the children were naked with thick gauze pads wrapped tightly against the crawling blackness spreading across their bodies. Both had thin tubes running from catheters to collection bags hooked to the sideboards of each bed. Aya idly observed that there was blood in their urine. That wasn't good under the best of circumstances but now that meant their bodies were feeding on themselves – recognizing healthy tissue along with decaying.

"Now, Fuyutsuki-sensei, Dr. Akagi, Captain Katsuragi are you ready for a magic show?" She turned to the mirrored wall and cocked her head to the side. "Can you hear me in there?"

"Yes we can hear you fine! Just get on with it!" Misato snapped and threw the microphone to the floor. "What the hell does this broad think she's doing?"

"One thing you'll have to get used to is Dr. Ayanami's odd sense of humor." Fuyutsuki sat back in his plastic folding chair and crossed his arms with a smile. His two subordinates were in for a show.

"Nothing up my sleeves, ladies, and nothing hidden down my blouse." Aya wiggled her fingers. "Ready…set…go!"

At first Ritsuko thought it was some elaborate joke as the woman placed a hand on Rei's stomach below the navel. Nothing was happening. Then Aya placed her other hand on Shinji's stomach in the same place and closed her eyes.

"There's nasty ego contamination from the Angel…it's coursing through the pilots' veins and corrupting their nerve linkages, much like it is in the Evas. The contamination is spreading from Rei's chest and Shinji's hands; does that match the pattern of necrosis on Units One and Zero?"

"Yes," Ritsuko replied, "but we already know all that. What do you need to cure them? We don't have enough time to work out an ego restoration system, they could die from this in the next few days and a complex system like that could take months to build!"

"Didn't I tell you there was a magic show?" Aya grinned as soft blue light erupted from her hands and enveloped the children. "Who needs machines, Dr. Akagi, when you've got me?"

Two out of the three on the other side of the mirrored window slammed their hands down on the plywood table between them as the same blue covered the elder Ayanami as she moved her fingers across the necrotic tissue with the dexterity and casual purpose of a concert pianist. Trails of blue light diffused into skin, spreading under the blackened skin like a tidal wave until the gangrenous flesh regained normal pallor. Aya held her smile as she went about her work, changing and repairing the basic flows of life energy in Shinji and Rei back to their normal states – in much the same way that farmers divert larger rivers for irrigation.

Fuyutsuki shook his head, knowing that the beast was free again to play havoc with the best laid plans of mice and men. SEELE never really understood Aya Ayanami, nor did they place enough importance on her – which was their own fault when it came right down to it – so what was coming would be an enormous surprise for Chairman Kihl and the Committee. Deep in some bitter alcove of his mind came the thought that perhaps Ikari had be right in imprisoning her all those years ago, that she presented a distinct liability to the scenario, but he quickly squashed the idea. It was preposterous. Aya Ayanami had always played fair and tried to help…whether the people she was helping saw it that way or not.

He hoped Gendo knew the Pandora's Box he'd decided to open. Knowing his former student like he did there was a mess of revenge waiting to fall upon the elder Ikari's head.

"What the hell is going on?" Misato was torn between pulling her sidearm and shooting the Angel invader or rushing in to check on her charge. "How the fuck is she doing that?!"

Ritsuko ran her fingers through the dry roots of her blonde hair. "This shouldn't even be possible! No one can manipulate ego borders like this! Vice-commander! I demand an explanation!"

"Dr. Ayanami was one of my finest students although not as versed in mathematics or theories, she was a storehouse of esoteric knowledge pertaining to the human body – all learned first hand from years of training in the martial arts. When I joined GEHIRN I asked her to come because we needed help constructing the egos for the Evangelions as well as the destrudo protocols. Since the Evas are similar in many ways to humans her knowledge proved invaluable." Fuyutsuki stood up once it appeared Ayanami was finished and opened the door. "She also helped your mother create the greyware systems."

"But no one should be able to manipulate another person's ego; it goes against all our findings on AT Fields and pattern recognition!"

"However, you have just witnessed that it is possible. Your task now is to discover how it is possible and try to replicate it so this kind of life-and-death situation doesn't repeat itself, do I make myself clear?" He slipped effortlessly into 'command' mode to forestall more conversations about Ayanami. The less Akagi and Katsuragi knew about the new doctor the better off they'd be…although the same could be said of Gendo as well. "I think you should check on the pilots, Dr. Akagi."

Back in the room, Aya reigned in her energies and fell to the floor in a swoon once pink returned to the children's skin. That'd been a lot more work than she'd thought although a lot of that probably had to do with her lack of practice in the last ten years. It felt good to release her ki again after those nasty shackles and dampeners in her cell. Glancing quickly around she willed a transparent crescent blade into existence bare millimeters from her fingertips and sent it through the catheter tube on Rei's bed, cutting not only the rubbery plastic but also the metal frame and three inches of mattress. There were some things you never forgot.

"When will the repairs be complete?" Gendo steepled his fingers and glared balefully across his desk at the three women. Fuyutsuki vainly attempted to hold back his chuckling from the chair beside the desk.

"Once the tissue has finished regenerating we can repair the armor plating. The MAGI predict that in-"

"Give them three more hours to heal and you'll have your precious toys back, Gendo."

Maya brought her clipboard up to cover her incredulous expression as the newcomer interrupted her sempai and had the audacity to speak to Commander Ikari in such familiar forms. "Uh, Dr. Ayanami's data correlates with the MAGI's predictions. Three more hours of growth will ensure a safety layer of material for the armor to 'root' on; the actual process itself will take another two hours."

"Thank you Dr. Akagi, Lt. Ibuki, you may go now." Ritsuko gingerly stepped back and turned to the door before realizing Maya was still standing frozen beside Aya, staring at the older woman with equal parts fear and admiration. A sharp pinch to her arm popped the young tech's bubble and she blushed before quickly scampering out of the office. Ritsuko eyed her new colleague for a moment longer before she too left the room.

"So Rokubungi, let's talk shop now, shall we?" It would be easy enough to use a vacuum blade and cut him down where he sat like the insufferable boil he was but after a decade in cold storage she wanted to live a little longer. "What in the name of God have you been doing to my little girl?!"

"Rei was chosen to be a pilot and I personally oversaw her training." Gendo leaned back and folded his hands on his lap. "I don't see any need to justify my actions to you."

"That's my daughter you're talking about," Aya growled, "and I don't think that indoctrinating her into a self-sacrificing lifestyle to suit you twisted scenario constitutes good parental care!"

"I am not concerned with being a parent, Dr. Ayanami; I'm concerned with defeating the Angels. Rei fulfills her purposes without question; that is enough."

Aya frowned. Gendo clearly thought he had the upper hand and to a certain extent he did, but he was overlooking a lot of other problems right under his nose. Take away his pawns and his game would crumble. Rei was clearly his king-side bishop with Ritsuko as his knight. Well, she would play by his rules for a little while – long enough to even the playing field.

"If I'm going to stick around and help your sorry ass, Gendo, I want the same salary I was making at GEHIRN; ten years back pay, an apartment aboveground, and custody of Rei."

Fuyutsuki leapt out of his chair. "Now wait just a moment-"

"No. Your salary will be of a lieutenant technician such as Ms. Ibuki, you will receive no back pay, you will be furnished with lodgings in the same unit as Captain Katsuragi, and guardianship of Rei remains with me."

"What makes you think I'll agree to that?"

"You will agree. The 'object' is still in my keeping." His redundant tinted lenses flashed briefly with reflected light.

That hit her like a berserker Evangelion. He had it! He still had it! She'd given up hope the last ten years and even made peace with it but then to have it dangling before her like the proverbial carrot…damn. Rokubungi didn't have all the cards but he had the one that mattered.

"…very well…" With that, Aya walked out.

Kozou stood up and turned to the window after the echo of her footfalls faded into the rumbling dull white noise emanating from the Systema Sephirothicum etched into the floor. "I can't say I understand this game you're playing, Ikari, but it seems like you're taking too many risks."

"The risks are necessary, professor, as is Dr. Ayanami's presence on the staff now that the Angels have begun contamination tactics."

"So you really didn't have a choice."

"The loss of the Third was not acceptable. We have no backup and the loss of two Evangelions would demand the Committee's personal attentions. We can't afford that level of scrutiny this early."

Still, there were things moving beyond his control and Ayanami was a wild-card in the whole mix. If she posed a threat he would have to eliminate her. But for the moment she still had her uses…that was enough.

---To be continued---