Tokyo-2, Outer District 6
November 18, 2041
1517 hours

Asuka was, simply put, bored. At this time of the day, she always had to put up with being alone for the simple reason that nobody else was home. Her father at work, that weirdo Nagisa off doing who knows what with his even weirder girlfriend. Well, Asuka did actually have a suspicion what the two could be doing, even though she never actually managed to catch them in the act.

At the same time, Asuka never caught him perving on her either. She knew better than to automatically assume it was because he didn't try, though, so she kept up her guard.

She similarly had no idea what exactly he'd seen in Ikari either. The girl was an attention whore; there was simply no other way to explain the way she dressed and behaved. Or the freaky color she dyed her hair with. She did say it was natural, but there was no way in hell Asuka was actually going to believe that. People simply did not have blue hair. Or gray, for that matter – and considering that Mari claimed Nagisa's hair was already the same color as it currently was when he began attending school, he did not get that habit from Ikari.

Unless he knew her from before. Considering that love at first sight does not exist in the real world, Asuka highly doubted that the two got together in a month. That just cannot happen.

Or maybe they were just that love-starved to latch onto each other like peas in a pod.

While being alone gave her excellent opportunities to perform certain... activities unmolested, that was no way to pass time. Hanging on someone else's neck, be it Mari or Hikari, purely out of boredom was similarly out of the question. Asuka was not quite that shallow or self-important to place herself above someone else's convenience unless it was necessary, as instilled in her by her father. Self-discipline was not something most teenage girls had in ample supply, but Asuka was an exception. After all, if she would whine about every bit of inconvenience and injustice, she wouldn't even make it past boot camp, much less get the military career she aspired for. She still voiced dislike or disagreement, she simply sucked it up and rolled with it like a good soldier. Or at least, she thought that's what a good soldier would do - and whether or not that was true, she'd find it out when she enlists after coming of age.

Right now she was staring at the living room's ceiling trying to think of something while listening to a national TV channel's news broadcast. – "...while it continues to be a certainty that the insurgents are fighting a losing battle against the Confederate military's overwhelmingly vast resources, analysts have once again pointed out that the insurgents continue to maintain home field advantage in the Saudi deserts and that the destruction of this underground command post may drive them to use the local civilian population as human shields. In light of this, the military's leadership once again refused to settle with simple containment measures; no details about their planned actions are currently available."

Asuka merely scoffed in response. Was anyone honestly expecting that any competent armed force would break operations security for propaganda purposes?

Even she knew better and she wasn't even military. Yet.

"In response to growing civil anxiety due to the situation in Tokyo-2, President Keel issued a press release today."

Asuka's head immediately snapped towards the TV.

"He confirmed that the recent events that took place in the past two months were minor engagements between the Confederate Armed Forces and an unidentified hostile force he refused to comment on. He once again asked for cooperation with any and all personnel from the military forces stationed locally since two weeks ago after the nuclear detonation in the countryside near Tokyo-2 caused a mass panic among the populace. He also reassured the public that the situation is under control and that an agency founded in response to last month's attack, provisionally identified by the codename 'Neo-Evolutionary Research and Virology', is actively working to repel these attacks-"

Whatever the newscaster had to say about this was interrupted by the apartment's doorbell.

That was definitely unusual. She had no appointments with anyone, so that left three options. Someone interested in Nagisa (she knew his looks gathered him a few fangirls in school), someone looking for her father, or a door-to-door salesman. She already chased away a few from the last category, mostly with threats of violence. It always worked.

With a grumble of annoyance, Asuka nimbly rolled off the couch onto her feet and, after an unsteady stumble from the sudden change in posture messing with her blood pressure, went to answer the door. Maybe if she chased off whoever was outside quickly enough, she mused, she might catch the tail end of that news article. Worth a try.

Yet when she unsealed the door and opened up, what she saw wasn't what she expected. '...scratch options no. 1 and 3.'

"Asuka Langley Shephard?" – asked the woman in a white labcoat, two men in suits flanking her on either side.

"Uhm... if you're looking for dad, he's still at work. Come back later."

"Your father works for me; I know exactly where he is right now." – the woman replied immediately, in a no-nonsense tone. – "No, I'm looking for you."

"Me...?"

"It is a sensitive matter. We should discuss this inside."

"No way." – Asuka said immediately. – "I don't even know who you are, much less who you claim to be."

"Dr. Yui Ikari, Artificial Evolution Laboratory chairwoman." – the woman replied, expertly flipping a business card out of her pocket. – "If you wish, I can give you time to double-check my identity online."

Asuka looked over the card. Not that she ever saw an authentic one, so she wouldn't be able to tell. "I, uh... don't think that's necessary. What are you looking me for?"

"Like I said, we should discuss this inside. My colleagues will stay outside, as this doesn't concern them."

Asuka weighed her options. That woman was obviously influential if she managed to find one specific person in a city. At least, that's what she thought until her brain clicked. 'Wait, Ikari?' And that's when she noticed the facial resemblance too. 'Oh, fuck.'

"F-fine."

She stepped aside to let Yui in but in the meantime, Asuka's brain was working on overdrive.

'What is she doing here?! Why is she looking for me?! I didn't do anything!'

Aside from her little nighttime expedition in the middle of what the president just confirmed was a warzone, but she doubted Yui would know about that. Her father certainly didn't, which was a miracle. After what she saw, Asuka's brain was so confused and overwhelmed that she didn't pay attention to where her feet were taking her. It was only once she was lying on her bed that she realized she should've gone back to the shelter instead of home but after a momentary confusion, she mentally told the issue to commit an anatomically impossible act and went to sleep. By the time she woke up, the curfew was already over and Nagisa was out like a light in the next room. Luckily, neither he nor her father bothered to look into her room while she wasn't supposed to be there, so Asuka lied that she came back on her own when the curfew ended and no one questioned it.

After a few days, she even stopped fretting of being found out. She didn't get hurt, so what would be the big deal in belated punishment anyway?

In any case, the guards stayed outside like Yui promised. That was a start. Asuka was certain she could take down one untrained adult with the CQC training her father gave her, but three with two possibly trained? She'd rather not take those chances if she could help it, especially with those two blocking the only escape route. But if they tried to have liberties with a soon-to-be-fourteen year old girl, said soon-to-be-fourteen year old would make damn sure they would piss blood for a while afterwards.

But for now, with Yui sitting at the kitchen table opposite of her, nothing of the sort seemed necessary. Not that Asuka wouldn't knee another girl in the crotch; she once applied such a love tap to an older girl who tried to pick on her, with said girl doing a rather convincing impression of a banshee as a result.

"So... are you going to tell me now why you're looking for me?"

"You're not double-checking my identity?" – Yui asked back.

"Your daughter is my classmate. I recognized you from her."

"Good observation and I know the two of you are classmates. So is mister Nagisa."

Yet more surprises. Asuka wondered how much more she'd have before the end of what was, so far, a boring day.

"How do you know him?"

"Just like your father, mister Nagisa works for me."

And yet more surprises. Asuka actually found herself starting to miss the boredom.

"Works for you? What is he, your janitor?"

"No. Something quite more important than that. Which is why I'm here, actually." – Yui opened the folder she was carrying and started to browse the contents. – "Miss Shephard, I understand you're a trained battleframe pilot?"

Asuka instantly went to alert. – "What makes you think that?"

"I have my sources." – Yui remarked with a smirk. – "Multiple champion titles in the junior battleframe league under the alias Red Baron, currently tied for highest number of victories with Musashi Lee Strassberg, alias Nineball."

"The identities of all pilots in the league are classified." – the teen replied, eyes narrowed in suspicion. – "Even I didn't know Nineball's name. How did you get this information?"

"Like I said, I have my sources."

"Did my father tell you?"

"No. He doesn't even know that I know, or that I am here. I sought you out entirely of my own initiative."

"For what?"

Yui shifted in the chair. – "It is exceedingly rare for a civilian with no direct affiliations to the military to have extensive experience in battleframe combat using a Mk-III/B. It is even rarer to have skill comparable to yours. I have seen the publicly available footage of your matches and while I am not an expert, you are an exceptional pilot I believe the military will be quite eager to have. But they do not have you yet, which presents me with a unique opportunity."

Asuka exhaled through the nose. That most definitely didn't sound like the candyman type of flattery, which alleviated her suspicions somewhat. – "Go on."

"Your ability and lack of affiliations makes you a rather valuable individual. I am here because I have a job offer for you."

"What job offer? What is it you people even do?"

"Biotechnology."

"Then I have no idea what you need a battleframe pilot for. Aside from as a trophy, in which case I refuse."

She did have her pride, after all.

And reputation. Secret reputation, but still reputation.

"I am not finished yet." – the adult continued. – "There is an opening I believe you would be ideally suited to. It is not the first time I'm hiring someone specifically for this position, but I have been thinking for a while now to hire someone with experience in a relevant field in order to perform comparative studies." – Yui then took a few documents out of her folder. – "No doubt you are confused what a company like mine could possibly want from you. I can explain more if you are interested, but I need you to sign this non-disclosure agreement first."

"Corporate secrets?" – Asuka guessed.

"National security." – Yui replied, slightly amused at the girl's deer-in-headlights look at that. – "Which is why I could make this offer in the first place. I have President Keel's personal authorization to hire any and all civilian personnel at my own discretion, including underage persons. Though I am aware that you will turn fourteen next month and therefore become legally eligible for employment; this merely expedites the process."

"Oooookay... that sounds reasonable." – Asuka said slowly. 'Presidential authorization?! Small fish, she ain't.' – "And you say my old man works for you?"

"Correct. My company is the one he is observing as per his current orders, as well as an unofficial consultant for matters involving this position. If you accept, he will be your unofficial superior; officially, you work directly under me." – The adult then leaned slightly forward. – "I have to inform you, though, that due to... circumstances, this line of work is not entirely safe. You will receive hazard pay and may resign at any time."

Asuka was deep in thought. Hazard pay meant danger to life and limb, which meant she wasn't being offered a research job. Handling hazardous materials? She was certified for battleframes, not HEV suits. Granted, nobody made HEV suits for children, but still. And even if they needed heavy lifting, any civilian could be trained to use a civilian frame. But from the sound of it, this woman wanted someone with actual combat experience for "comparative studies" of some kind. And "relevant", to boot.

'What kind of laboratory researches stuff that needs a battleframe pilot?'

Then it was as if a switch was flipped in her brain.

Laboratory.

Research.

Artificial Evolution Laboratory.

Neo-Evolutionary Research and Virology.

Military contractor fighting a hostile force.

A huge, humanoid battleframe silhouetted against blinding brightness.

'...oh, you have got to be shitting me.'

She still hazarded the question. – "What is this job, anyway?"

Yui smirked. – "Test pilot."


END OF PART 1


VOICE CAST

Kaworu Nagisa – Akira Ishida
Rei Ikari – Megumi Hayashibara
Asuka Langley Shephard – Yuko Miyamura
Yui Ikari – Atsuko Tanaka
Adrian Shephard – Katsuyuki Konishi
Adam – Tōru Furuya
Lilith – Yumi Tōma
Tōji Suzuhara – Tomokazu Seki
Kensuke Aida – Tetsuya Iwanaga
Hikari Horaki Junko Iwao
Mari Makinami Maaya Sakamoto
Man in a Suit Hideaki Anno
Zeruel – Nobuyuki Hiyama

Sammael – Masaki Maeda

OPENING THEME

SEVEN
by Gackt


Chapter rewrite finished on 16/04/13.

It is worth noting that Yui is not following the traditional Japanese etiquette for presenting a business card. If she would, she would present it with both hands, holding it by the upper corners and the side with her name and rank on it upwards and towards Asuka so that she can read it; also by etiquette, Asuka would be required to accept it with both hands, hold it by the lower corners and read it before verbally acknowledging having received the card and bowing, at no point covering the information with a finger or putting the card in her pocket, such disrespectful behavior being seen as indicative of how she'd treat Yui. However, since Asuka is a gaijin and Yui knows it, Yui can reasonably assume that Asuka is not familiar with meishi etiquette and cannot be expected to know the appropriate response, so Yui cuts her some slack. Against another Japanese, this way of presenting a business card would be quite offensive.

While popular opinion claims that a powerful blow to a man's genitals produces debilitatingly powerful pain to the point of instant, prolonged incapacitation (which I can personally attest to, courtesy of an overenthusiastic three years old nephew's flailing feet when I picked him up, with the pain persisting for upwards of fifteen minutes and radiating out all the way to the kidneys in slight, pulsing waves of agony that reflexively impaired movement – for those who haven't experienced it yet and don't feel the need to), the truth of the matter is that it works on women too. While they have no external bits and thus the target area is smaller, said target area is literally the most sensitive part of a woman's body, with lots of nerve endings. Strike it from the right angle and with enough force, and they will scream bloody murder and collapse in a quivering heap all the same. While I understandably cannot and would not test this, from experiencing the male version I can safely assume that comparing it to unlubricated gangrape is a major understatement. And no, this is no exaggeration – it really does hurt that much.

For those not familiar with Eva's expanded universe, Musashi is a character from Girlfriend of Steel. He's a teenage Trident test pilot in the same JSSDF unit as Shinji's sweetheart Mana Kirishima and deserts at one point out of anger at him and his fellow pilots being constantly bullied by the adult soldiers and their superiors not letting them leave the unit due to knowing too much, stealing his Trident in the process. He ultimately comes out of hiding when Gendo uses Mana as bait to draw him out and engages the Evas to free her; when the JSSDF launches an N2 mine at his Trident to keep it out of NERV's hands, Musashi uses his ejection capsule to launch Mana out of the blast radius. In one of the endings, Shinji asks Mana about Musashi's fate and she confirms that Musashi was killed in the blast which literally melted his Trident down into a puddle of molten metal and totaled both Unit 01 and Unit 02.


For those who are newly getting into the story, it is also available for read on Spacebattles, Sufficient Velocity and Archive Of Our Own. If you have an account on SB or SV, I'm available to answer any questions you have, along with providing supplemental information not present in either in-story exposition or in chapter notes. I will also privately answer any reviews I get here, so ask away.

If the nature of your question requires it, I am also willing and able to spoil about what's ahead. I can't give you a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, but the majority of the plot is already set in stone with details. I can say, however, that I am taking this story in a direction no NGE of HL fanfic ever touched, something that goes beyond the context of either source universe and ends up as more than a sum of its parts. I guarantee that everything will make sense down the line.