Otaku Reflected
Episode Three, Eva Revolution

Part One,
A Superspy in Eva

by Jared Ornstead
aka Skysaber


Disclaimer: This was just written to screw with the Eva series, nothing more, nothing less.


Jared Saotome waited in the train station, reading a perfectly ordinary paperback this time. No secret clues in this one, which he felt odd, because he was here on an assignment. The Agency had sent him to this train station at this time after a dimension jump to get here.

Oh well, at least it was a good book.

He shut off outside sensation to focus on it., and so it was with some surprise awhile later that he was seized and roughly shaken, then being quickly dragged off to a car.

"I swear! Didn't you hear me calling? You looked like you were in a Zen trance with that novel. This is an emergency!"

"Aaagh! My book!" Jared shook himself free and went and grabbed the fallen novel. When he rounded to go after her he nearly dropped it again.

The dark haired woman grabbed him again. "Jared, get over here! We have to get you to the Geofront. I'm Captain Misato Katsuragi, welcome to Nerv."

But he already knew who she was from looking at her.

Misato threw him in the car and drove off.


When he'd had time to get his mental breath back he tuned in to Misato's one sided conversation. She was telling him all the typical stuff, but she kept referring to him as an Ikari.

"I'm sorry." He interrupted her. "I don't go by that name, and I believe I never will."

Misato directed a startled look at him, then turned her face back to the road. "I'd heard that you and your father didn't get along. I just didn't expect that it would be this bad."

Jared went pale white.

~I'm... Shinji?~

He surreptitiously checked himself over. ~Physically, I'm unchanged, except for age. Which leaves me with the *role* of Shinji. Oh, man.~ He calmed himself with a few deep breaths. ~So begin working on emergency contingency plans. Going along with *this* role means the destruction of all life on Earth - except me and Asuka. But spending the rest of my life with Asuka as the only other living person would drive me nuts and *then* some! Best to change things from the start.~

He glanced aside at Misato.

Misato was frowning. ~Even the *mention* of his father was enough to send him into shock! Well,~ her lips tightened. ~He's just going to have to deal with it. But somehow I get the impression that meeting the commander isn't going to be easy.~

Jared closed his eyes and concentrated. ~Okay, I was at the train station the whole time, which was clearly the meeting point as that's where the Agency sent me. Seeing as how I didn't wander off like Shinji did, and seeing as how there was a distinct lack of huge invaders nearly stepping on me at the pickup, I can assume that Misato was able to find me swifter than in the series, which means we've got a short lead.~

He glanced at the major... err, captain. ~Which means no delays. Except for when she pulls over to observe the invader with those field glasses, and the car gets overturned by the shockwave from the N2 mine.~

He coughed. "Miss Katsuragi?"

She flashed him a brilliant smile intending to charm. "Call me Misato."

"Misato, can we hurry up to wherever it is we're going? I'm kind of anxious to get this over with."

Misato thought about that and abandoned her plans to pull over with the binoculars to check out the opposition. The kid deserved that much. Her foot depressed the pedal even farther. "Sure."

"Thank you. Do you know how long to get there?"

"Maybe a couple of hours, if we're lucky."

That didn't make much sense, that they'd deliver him *that* far away from the base they were taking him to when there were trains close by. But thinking back to the series, the enemy *had* been stepping on or about them when Misato first picked up Shinji, then they later looked back with the field glasses to see it in the far distance across some mountains. Since it was ridiculous to assume the invader had been walking *away* from Nerv when that was its target, some weenie probably decided to deliver him to the far side of Japan for security reasons and they'd been racing the enemy the whole way back.

Good thing Misato drove fast.

~Okay, it's a fair bet at some point I'll have to pilot Evas. Which means I'd better get prepared.~ Surreptitiously checking his watch he found the skill catalog contained three Eva piloting programs: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. A two hour lead... at this program size that gave him time for two of those packages. ~Better get started.~

"Okay. I'd like to rest my eyes a bit if you don't mind. The trip was kinda rough."

Misato glanced aside at the buff youth having emotional problems. ~Poor Kid.~ She flashed him a brilliant smile. "Sure. That's no problem. Say, could ya tell me why you're all dressed up like that?"

Jared glanced down at himself. A silk and cotton fighting outfit ala a kung fu Dread Pirate Roberts, minus mask. Well, he couldn't tell her about the real reasons. But trouble was he didn't have a good lie on hand either. The boy shrugged. "Uh, well... it's a private thing."

"Ah." Misato said seriously, noting a few things of concern. "So why the sword?"

Again the youth drew his attention to the katana he carried. This time he laughed. "This? You know, I've been carrying it so long I honestly didn't notice."

Misato grew worried, then sighed. ~It's probably nothing.~

He nodded. So far so good. He leaned his seat back, slipping out the synoptic teacher in the guise of a simple headband. Putting it on, he queued up the basic program first, then the advanced.

He had a feeling he might need it.

The shockwave from the N2 mine passed by them while they were passing through a tunnel on their way to the Geofront. They made good time.


Jared was more than happy to let Misato wander around inside the Geofront. It let his hindbrain learn a portion of the layout while he considered what to do about Gendo. The starting of everything was before he first got in the Eva. Once he'd done that, he was in the bad guy's power and all potential for arguing was over.

Right now he had to decide what he wanted, and how hard to hold out for the most important bits. Because it was now, before they had the dummy plug, when Rei was too injured, and their only hope lay with him that his only potential for haggling existed.

The view out over the geofront, while fairly impressive, was also so tinged with the ominous that he couldn't appreciate it, especially given his current thoughts.

Jared steered Misato down another corridor they hadn't been down before, learning yet more of the place while his mind churned. He'd actually been kind of surprised to find he'd carried a Nerv ID card. It had the name of Ikari on it, however, which both confirmed his suspicions and spooked him.

~Okay, I'm slightly younger than in the Ranma world, which is exactly in keeping with this place. I can pass for a slightly advanced fourteen this way, which is undoubtedly what my records say.~ He grimaced. ~I am also Gendo Ikari's son, which is a step down even from Genma, by quite a bit in fact. Trade a fat, balding martial artist who is amazingly greedy for a genocidal madman who destroys the human race. No, not a step up.~

He kept her from turning the same way that she'd been before, steering her down a new path so he could learn what was down there. The center of the plot, he decided, was Ayanami. Without Rei there would be no Human Instrumentality Project, thus no genocide.

Misato noted Jared's frown and worried. "Look, I'm sure it's around here somewhere. I just haven't been in this section very often."

He smiled at her. "That's all right. I don't mind. Why don't we try this way?" He waved her toward a door that he was pretty sure did not go in the right direction. As he did so he spoke into his watch softly. "I need a scenario prediction."

When he flipped open his paperback, he was already reading what would happen.


Scenario One, Direct Confrontation:


There came the standard scene of leading them into a darkened chamber, to switch the lights on when he was right before Unit One.

"Oh, a giant robot." Jared noted wryly, unsure of what his reaction was supposed to be. It had been a while since he'd seen the series and wasn't particularly interested in doing a Shinji impersonation in any case.

"Evangelion Unit One." Ritsuko told him proudly, as Misato followed them out on the catwalk. "There are mankind's only hope against the angels."

He sighed. "I know what they are. Do you think I don't remember? My mother made the first progress that let you develop them, or at least started the project before one *ate* her. She went inside and never came out again! It turned her into liquid goo! Her last words were about wanting me to see the achievements of what she'd done, and now she's only a puddle of muck!"

Misato and Ritsuko were shocked, yet got into a side conversation about how Rei was unavailable and Unit Zero in cryostasis, so they were going to activate this one. Then a typical comment which led to the very short revelation about how and why Jared was their pilot.

Jared crossed his arms and stared at the Eva while Misato gaped. "This thing is more my mother's grave than that empty marker in the cemetery. Her soul may still floating around in there. And you want *me* to get in next?"


Two guesses about who that was and the first one didn't count. A man was up in his little alcove near the ceiling. Jared noted the defenses without being obvious about it nor giving the man any of his attention. There was an inch thick layer of armor glass polished so smooth that it was nearly invisible. It was easily bulletproof and would certainly change the arc of a laser. Too risky to kill him now.

Gendo Ikari, as usual.

The man smirked nastily. "It's been a while."

Jared Saotome's face went flat. "Not nearly long enough." and turned his back.

Ikari snorted, smirking.

Jared didn't look at the man he was addressing. "Gendo, I didn't come here to play any of your sick, sadistic games." He produced a scroll out from the Standard Light Urban Survival Pack and held it while he pivoted to face the enemy.

"I came to deliver this."

Gendo was immovable. "And what is that?" He managed to ask it with contempt.

Jared shoved the scroll off on Ritsuko without looking at her. "I give it to your servant within your sight and thus symbolically to you. You are cast out of the clan, denied use of the name Ikari, bearing fully the blame for my mother's death, and also it serves as a post-mortem certificate of annulment, dissolving your marriage with my mother as if it had never happened."

Ritsuko stared at the scroll in her hands with startled amazement.

Gendo gripped the railing with a snarl. "You aren't able to do that. The marriage had issue."

Jared smugly gave his head a single, negatory shake. "No. My mother has already been granted official forgiveness for infidelity, in light of your own; Sleeping with Ritsuko, her mother and others that we're aware of."

"Yui was *not* unfaithful!" Gendo gripped the railing, growing even angrier.

Misato looked at Ritsuko. "Rits?"

Ritsuko frowned and nodded, causing Misato to clutch the railing in a near-faint.

Jared played with his glasses. "So you don't dispute your own? Good, in light of the proof we have. But, no, it has been chosen to interpret your own abandonment of me as sufficient proof of your *not* being my father. After all, what real man would divest himself of his wife's only child the moment she was away if he *was* the father?"

The redhead smugly motioned to the scroll. "That logic held up in court, Gendo. I suggest that you start using another family's name. Ayanami would suit you nice. After all, what better proof of your loyalty than the name of the child you actually *raised?*"

Gendo snarled, then stood up straight and got colder than usual. "That's beside the point. I summoned you here to serve a purpose."

The redhead turned his back and folded his arms conclusively. "The next time you commit murder, Gendo, why don't you be more subtle about it? I'm already resigned that my arrival here put me where you could easily kill me, but..."

Ritsuko grabbed his arms and interrupted. "Jared, he's your father. He's not going to kill you. We need you to pilot..."

He thrust her hands off, hating the act but knowing it was necessary. "He is NOT my father! At best he rises to the level of sperm donor, if that! Being a father involves love and kindness and other things that madman is *incapable* of!"

"Jared Ikari." Gendo's voice sounded loud resonating throughout the chamber. "Get in the Eva and pilot it."

Jared lowered his head and glared sidelong. "I can no longer bear the Ikari name as long as you live to sully it. My adoptive clan is Saotome. Get used to it."

Gendo frowned.

The youth yawned.

"Well?" Misato broke in, after it was clear he wasn't going to break the silence.

"No, thank you." Jared informed her, politely though.

"If you're not going to pilot it, get out." Gendo inserted his remarks from his vantage point. "Piloting an Evangelion is your purpose, it's what we brought you here for. If you're not going to do it, then leave."

The redhead sighed in relief. "Thank you, I shall." and started toward the exit.

The door failed to open when he touched the pad. Jared rolled his eyes. "Oh dear, oh dear." Turning his back to the door he waved theatrically. "So it begins! We tell him he's worthless, that we don't need him. But letting him go? Fat chance. We have another chance to abuse him. Because having told him to leave and making him unable to comply we can state that he's disobeying, which means that brutish thugs in suits can beat him senseless, teaching him that he has to do whatever we say or die."

Jared glared at Gendo. "Mr Ayanami, you are as shallow and thuggish as you've ever been."

There was a long moment of directed wills in contest.

"Get in the Eva, Jared." Gendo finally broke it.

Jared thumbed the direction of the Evangelion. "That thing?" He took a step forward, fueling his lines with a knowledge of the series. "You'd have me crawl in my mother's coffin? I admire your sense of theater, even if I don't care for the macabre. But your sense of humor is as withered as your soul."

Ritsuko wasn't amused. "This was no joke." She folded her arms. "Unless you get in the Eva and pilot it then mankind will die."

Jared ignored her, snapping a sidelong comment at Gendo. "By the way, as the murderer of Yui, there's the traditional reward put out on your head; ten thousand bushels of rice or the weight of your severed head in gold, payable to whoever brings it in."

Misato and Ritsuko were both sweatdropping at the jaw-dropping seriousness of the hostility going on between the father and son.

"You won't be needing them. They'll never collect." Came the voice from the ceiling. Jared directed his attention away.

"Perhaps not, but the thought counts." An eyebrow was raised alongside a smug smile. "Besides, the UN and all its member nations have been made aware of this casting out, as well as the charges. Having a large organization to defend you only works so long as you *have* that organization. If mankind *really* needs this place to save them, then having a murderer at the head is as bad a choice as could be made. Maybe they'll have doubts about leaving you in place here." Jared was confident of all he said, as he knew with his superspy tools he could back it all up.

Gendo was gritting his teeth, not really believing that SEELE would let that happen. How could they have allowed challenge to his position this early?

The building shook. Apparently all of their lead time had been used up. The invader had arrived. Jared hid a sigh. Okay, he was now in a position to utterly refuse all help of any kind, which placed him in a position where he could force a request to be listened to.

Well, one thing remained.

Gendo was staring at the ceiling. "It's close. It must sense us."

Ritsuko glared at the youth. "Jared, get inside."

Jared just stood there. This wasn't over until Gendo played his final card.

Gendo deepened his scowl, then shifted his attention to the monitors, calling for his subordinate what's-his-name, telling him. "Wake up Rei."

The overheard reply. "Can we use her?"

Gendo's heartless rebuke. "She's not dead yet."


"Rei?" Gendo asked the monitor, receiving a weak reply from the girl. "Our spare is unusable. You will do it again." Without even hearing Jared knew the response she gave to that to be 'yes, sir'.

Ritsuko and Misato left him to his devices as the ground crew began to reset the chamber for the clone. He resisted the temptation to drum his fingers against something.

Bored beyond imagining, the redhead pulled out a yo-yo and began to play. There came the standard sequence of Rei in plugsuit and bandages being wheeled in, sitting up with gasps and moans inspired by the pain from the movement.

It touched Jared's heart, as much as he didn't want it to. Wheeling in his yo-yo, he crossed over to the medical gurney and placed a hand on Rei's chest, forcing her down. "No," he shook his head. "You must rest."

Gendo had returned to being smug. "If you aren't willing, then Rei will have to pilot the Evangelion." Then he snapped his fingers and two security guards rushed Jared to wrench him away from the bedside.

The yo-yo zipped out almost too fast to see, tagging one guard in the face and wrapping the string around the legs of the other accompanied by a swift yank. Both rifle-toting armored guards fell in the blood red drink where they promptly began to drown.

The yo-yo snapped back to Jared's hand. He'd not even bothered to remove the other from Rei's chest. He straightened taller, fixing his glasses. "Gendo, whatever guards you use against me *will* die. I just want you to be aware of that. So that you don't waste their lives uselessly, like now."

Gendo just stared at him. Ritsuko and Misato were almost too upset to make their expected protests.

"And when she dies." Jared concluded for him, but got interrupted by the building shaking. Earthquakes he was used to, he was from California, after all and had lived through some of the big ones first hand. He'd rather enjoyed them, actually, truth be told. But Rei's gurney had rolled away before he could snatch her off of it, spilling her badly.

The Nerv staff weren't so fortunate. Many panicked and lost their feet. A few girders fell from the ceiling and Jared looked up just as they were about to be hit. He let out a small sigh of relief when Unit One's interposing hand knocked them away.

~Okay, I *am* Shinji's stand-in. That means I'm flat out invulnerable so long as Unit One has anything to say about it. She won't let anything happen to me.~ He checked just to make sure. Yup, Rei's gurney had rolled away at the start of that. He was alone under the Eva unit's protective hand.

Stage was set.

Jared adjusted his glasses, still unruffled. "Well Gendo, looks like you have another child abuse case on your hands. Either that or negligence, not having planned better than to be caught between an unwilling draftee and an intensive care patient." He looked up, letting the light frost his glasses.

"But I don't hate you *quite* enough to ignore this situation. Tell you what, since your idea of proper behavior includes leaving a poor child you were responsible for abandoned on the street without so much as an allowance, one can only *guess* what your generosity is. Therefore, I'll choose my own wages."

He motioned with his head toward the injured girl in the plugsuit. "I'll take Rei off your hands." ~There. Give the man a choice between the total, imminent loss of everything from the angel, or the loss of a few vital things to me. Things which, in the second case, he might hope to regain via his stock in trade of treachery.~

The commander of Nerv's hands clapped down forcibly on the railing. "That is unacceptable."

"Oh? More of a rescue. But now the price has gone up. I'll take Rei *and* Misato."

The commander of Nerv's face grew more stern. "That leads to totally uncalled for breaches of Nerv's security organization. I will not allow that."

"Rei, *and* Misato, *and* Ritsuko, *and* living arrangements of my choosing." The redhead smirked over crossed arms. "And you had better realize the difference between a broken security arrangement or no organization at all. It sounds like the moment to decide for certain is drawing near. I came here prepared for my own death. How about you?"

The building shook.

Jared's smiling, confident face met the commander's strained one. Gendo had to know that Rei in Eva One was a false hope at best, more a bargaining tool than an actual option, dooming them to mass suicide if he tried it.

From the sweat on his face it looked like he did. His projects weren't that far along.

Jared buffed his nails against his shirt. "And now a salary equal to yours on top of all the rest. But I'll give you a bargain; commit suicide right here, right now, with me to witness, and I'll let all the other conditions slide and do it for free. What do you say?"

The redhead's confident glare met commander Ikari's (he knew the old guy wasn't going to change his name anyway). That was it, the cards were on the table, and Ikari left to choose between aspects he didn't like or ones he hated worse, and *enough* of them that Jared's real purpose was obscured.

Sometimes it really paid to be a superspy.

The building shook again.

Jared shrugged. "Not because I have to, just to be nice, I'll allow them each forty hours a week to continue their existing duties at Nerv. With twenty hours of flex time to be used as needed throughout the month. But really, you stole my family name and destroyed my mother, restitution is the *least* you could offer." He once again directed a look upward. "I'll take that in payment of a new family, or your suicide. Go ahead and choose for yourself."

The evil man was sweating, not liking scenarios where his control faltered and neither his power nor threats could regain it. Especially when *anyone* clashed wills with him! Or even worse when it hurt his plans.

"Get in the Eva." Gendo replied, after a long wait.

"I will hear the orders from your own mouth before I do it." Jared replied.

"You'll have your payment." Gendo half turned away.

Jared started walking toward the exit door.

"What are you DOING!" Ritsuko screamed, drawing Gendo's attention back in the chamber.

Jared stopped, facing the door, speaking to the room in general. "Do you have any *idea* how easy it would be for him to renege on our arrangement if I just went and did what he said? He'd leave me with nothing, without even a second thought on the matter. There's NO WAY I'm going out there without already being paid in full. He has no honor, nor the illusion of any."

There was silence behind him.

He checked, and Jared saw that Gendo had vanished. He shrugged. "Oh well. Time for me to leave, I guess." He began fiddling with the door controls.

Misato charged him, grabbing an arm. "Look, why don't you just swallow your pride and *pilot* it! The whole planet could just..."

She broke off as the opposite door swished open, revealing more guards with lowered rifles. Gendo had reappeared in his alcove above.

"You expect to use force?" Jared hated clashing arrogance with this man, and it was growing old. Especially since *his* arrogance was artificial, summoned for a goal, while his enemy was using the real thing.

Gendo almost laughed. "No, I just wanted to deliver your first month's salary." One of the men below opened a briefcase and revealed cash, which didn't interest Jared any as he didn't even recognize the type of bills.

"That fails to fill the most important component." He informed the older man flatly.

"Misato, Ritsuko, you will follow this man's orders." Gendo ordered. Jared merely stared at the man until he continued. "Rei, you must do as he says."

"Revokable only by my specifically saying so to them in person." The redhead demanded as the additional condition against betrayal.

After a pause Gendo added a slight nod and, "Yes. Though they must not reveal to you any of their duties at Nerv."

Jared smiled. "That won't be a problem." As the building shook once more he went over to Rei's side, kneeling beside her. "Rei, do you accept what's been done?"

She looked to Gendo, and Jared did too, in case the man should shake his head or otherwise send a negation signal to her that it was a false order. Gendo nodded, grudgingly, unwilling to believe he'd been thwarted so far, yet already plotting to sidestep everything done here, killing the boy if necessary. But for now Jared was useful at a critical juncture. It was crucial that he and Nerv survive, his projects weren't far enough along to do without the extra time.

But Jared's life would be short, Gendo promised himself that. His son was turning out to be far more trouble than he was worth.

Jared was touching his lip. "Well, let's see. I've got the cash, I've got one girl." He looked over at Ritsuko and Misato. "Do either of you feel that falling under my power is too high a price to pay for the salvation of Earth?"

"Will you just get in there?" Misato shouted, pointing toward the Eva, unwilling to believe that all this had gone on. This was absurd!

He lowered a firm gaze on her. "Are you willing to accept this arrangement and abide by it? After all, I still have to save everyone and come back alive."

Two nods from that quarter, and a "We accept. Now get in there!"

He checked around. Well, that was the maximum that he could expect. Now up to fulfilling his part of the bargain. He closed his eyes and thought *very* hard. Eva Unit One lifted its hand and he jumped up into its palm.

"Everybody clear the chamber. I'm late for a fight." And with that he leapt into the waiting entry plug. Power was plugged in, and they began the entry process even as the others scrambled from the holding chamber. If he could, he would have rushed the launch procedure with the emergency start routines, rather than wait for the commands to be sent from the HQ, but that material was probably in the Intermediate Eva piloting program that he'd not yet taken.

Soon enough he'd find he was moved to the launching pad.

"How's our lord and master doing?" Misato asked sarcastically, now they were in the command center and things were proceeding normally. She was still offended about that. How *dare* he?

"He's not turned into a puddle of goo if that's what you mean." Ritsuko replied with a grin, amused by her friend's offense. *She* had no intention of living up to the bargain, but it got the pilot into the entry plug. All that remained now was defeating the angel.

She frowned. "That's odd."

"What is it?" Misato worried.

Ritsuko blinked. "He showed no reaction when we filled the tube with LCL, just took a deep breath of the liquid acting as if everything were normal."

"That's strange." Her friend added.

"Connecting main power."

"Secondary nerve connections established."

Ritsuko was studying her controls. "Amazing. There was only a one in one hundred thousand chance the Eva would run at all, but everything appears to be functioning within normal parameters."

Maya, whose shoulder Ritsuko was looking over her controls at, was also studying the viewscreen. "Synchronization rate established at 72%. Harmonics seem to be normal, I see no disturbances."

Ritsuko was shaking her head. "This is well beyond expectations."

"And how's he doing?" Misato asked, now a little concerned as life in the command deck got her back to feeling more normal.

"Splendidly. I say we should do it."

Gendo was smiling. Now the boy was inside Eva, he was within Gendo's power.

"Begin launch sequence!" Misato ordered.

"Spreading AT field." Jared reported, as the angel started trying to hit him with it's long arms and he began dodging, then dropping low and doing a leg sweep, knocking the enemy down, then grappling with it. "Neutralizing enemy AT field."

"Alright buddy!" Misato was shouting into her microphone. "Just where did you learn how to pilot an Eva? You're no rookie at this, *that's* for sure!"

That story ended bloodily a few pages later. Gendo had claimed he was the fourth angel and sent Rei after him in Unit Zero when Jared was far away from his own mecha. As fighting aliens was an existing Nerv duty, she went ahead and did it without complaint. It was followed shortly after by the destruction of mankind as Rei was totally insufficient to stop the next real attacker.


End Scenario One


Scenario Two, Stealth, didn't go much better. Attempting to be sly only got him in bad situations against Nerv's intelligence apparatus and Gendo's plotting. Jared skipped ahead a few pages, glancing up to see Misato going in what was probably the direction of a phone where she would call Ritsuko and get her to lead them to the Eva. Time was short.

He barely skimmed through Scenario Three, which involved him staying close to the plot, only to find himself unable to alter it at critical moments. Scenario Four, Mole was about him staying fairly typically Shinji except for establishing a running data feed to the outside powers, attempting to undercut Gendo and Nerv.

Neither worked.

Glancing up proved Misato was on the phone already. Jared just checked chapter headings and endings of his various options, arrayed in the order he would have normally taken them but NOT in any order of success. Scenario Five found him pushing the wrong person at the wrong time and causing Third Impact. Six left him critically injured from having overextended trying to do critical alterations unsupported, then leading to another repeat of Gendo's disastrous failure with the Human Instrumentality Project...

Man, wasn't there *any* way to pull a happy ending out of this? Unfortunately, too much information was as bad as too little when the time was short. As Ritsuko arrived there were literally minutes left to decide.

Scenario Seven, Just Plain Nuts, had the most positive results that he could tell, but too many variables to decide for sure if that was good or bad. Even Weirder had positive outcomes 75% of the time. Unfortunately, he no longer had time to read the details on either as Misato plucked the book out of his hands, showing him Eva One.

"Here we are." She smiled encouragingly.

Jared swallowed heavily, then brightened. Insanity was something he was good at. It was better add-libbed anyway.

Ritsuko began to open her mouth to say something, but the redhead interrupted her by jumping in to a sentai pose. "I see! You are members of a secret organization! And my being brought here was solely because *I* am the only being on Earth capable of piloting this giant war machine in the fight to save the human race!"

Ritsuko snapped her mouth shut, turning her head away and muttering. "That's not... actually, that's surprisingly accurate."

Suddenly she saw that he'd climbed to the spire of the Eva's mighty head, though where he got the cloak to wear, along with enough of a breeze to billow it, was a mystery that was going to haunt both women.

Jared got in 'Righteous Declaration' pose. "It is the duty of the martial artist to defend the weak. We, the members of the Robot Defense Force, have sworn to defend the Earth against those who would destroy it. No matter the cost, we will triumph over evil and make the world safe for ordinary teenagers!" He spun around and posed again with a V for victory over his eyes. "So in spite of the tragedy of my past, doubtless to be revealed next season, I will fight for Love and Justice, and triumph over evil!"

"Ugh?" Misato sweatdropped.

Jared dropped the stance to a pose where he touched his lip in consternation. "Now all I'll need is a weird pet, preferably one that talks. I mean, I already *got* my huge robot, the loyal support crew, and the secret base... Oh!" He snapped his fingers. "AND we need a villain. Actually, what we *really* need is an obvious, really nasty enemy that we can take tons of fights scenes on. Then we need a *secret* bad guy, maybe even the head of our own organization! Yeah! Someone's who's been working with the other side all along, and performs terrible experiments in the basement labs he keeps from the knowledge of all, so he can unleash his plans to devastate the world for his own personal gain!"

"That's..." the word 'absurd' died on Ritsuko's lips as she realized that might well describe what she was helping Gendo at doing.

Gendo decided *not* to make his dramatic entrance at that time.

Jared jumped down to the deck in a single bound, landing lightly on one foot. "Okay secret warriors! Time to lock and load! We'll prove our mettle on the field of battle! Let's get this war machine launched!"

Some of the maintenance crew than had been lounging around began to snicker.

"Uh... Jared?" Misato asked.

He ignored her, racing up the ramps to the waiting entry plug, which he slammed closed with him inside. Triggering the basic launching sequence was easy, and the Eva's plates began to open to receive the plug. The chamber was emptying as everyone ran about. Then his entry plug made connection with the Eva.

~I think that's my cue.~ Jared thought as the power connection hit. He arced his back and cried. "Evangelion Power! Charging Up!" Followed by the detailed mental image of him floating in space, spinning as bits of Eva armor wrapped him protectively.

A lot of raw talent, fixed in with the synoptic learning courses he'd snuck in on the way in and Jared had a proud state of accomplishment Shinji would never enjoy, as *he'd* had to pick up it all on the job with inadequate training and a misunderstood piece of machinery.

Jared was coming at this with all the knowledge of the series, his own brain courses to feed him data Shinji and Nerv never had, and now enjoyed the status of feeling his Eva like it was an extension of his own skin.

Outside there was a complete lack of a dramatic special effect, but it was the thought that counts anyway. His special superspy tools served him well by disengaging the locks and restraints that held his Evangelion Unit, even while people now began scrambling for cover.

He began gleefully shouting into the entry plugs pickups. "Meet now the true power in the universe, Negatrash! That of an ordinary Earth teenager! Who *also* happens to have a secret identity as a Giant Robot Pilot!"


Misato ran into the control room, panting at all the steps. "What's going on?" She demanded of the three techs who were working the boards.

"Evangelion Unit One has begun launch sequence!" Maya gave her startled reply.

Ritsuko reached the boards and keyed a communications channel. "Jared, be careful. Let us help you. Piloting an Eva is not as simple as it looks. This is not a video game!"

"Ya got *that* right!" He replied, cheery as ever. "In a video game I would have a neater costume, not to mention that a cute chick would be one of the other pilots. At *least* one. But that's all for later in the season! Now is the time for my triumphant battle against the forces of darkness and evil! And where's my romantic interest? How can I get in trouble so you can do a closeup of her worried expression if I don't have a romantic interest? How can I triumph against impossible odds, rising from near certain doom without encouragement from my female lead? Don't you guys read the script?"

"He's insane." Ritsuko said, stunned.

"Is he really? Just look at these synch rates." Misato pointed out on the board.

"72%! How on Earth did he get a synch ratio that high!"

"I don't know, but he seems serious about this. Can we abort the launch sequence?"

"Don't." Came Gendo's firm reply. "Send him to the surface. Let's see how well he does there. Don't let his enthusiasm go to waste."

"Roger." Misato nodded her head. "Launch Eva!"

His Eva was launched to the surface.

"Jared, just try walking for now." Ritsuko asked.

"Walking?" He gloated, really enjoying this. "No way! I've seen enough giant robot shows to know this thing can fly!"

"That's..." Dr. Akagi's protest died on her lips and the Evangelion began to rise up and fly toward the outskirts of the city. She rounded on the commander shouting. "We didn't build that capability *in* there! This is simply impossible!"

Gendo just smiled.

"He's modulating the AT field to counteract gravity." Maya said from where she was still checking the boards.

"Can you do that?" Misato asked.

"Look at him." Maya replied, glancing up to check the screen herself, where the Eva was quite obviously flying without external wings or support. "He appears to be doing it instinctively."

He landed and posed in classic hero style on a mountaintop outside of town.

"Jared, I want you to listen to me." The blonde Dr. Akagi leaned forward. "There's some special things you need to know about your Eva."

"I know, I know." He interrupted. "All super combat devices have a tragic flaw, one that all our science cannot overcome. From the power cord I would estimate that on this one it is a lack of an internal power source, leaving me with barely a few minutes of emergency power with which to defeat my enemy or perform a dramatic escape during moments of crisis! Now *you* guys start working and tell me what our enemy's single, great weak point is as soon as you know, okay?"

"For a twit he certainly is picking this up fast." Ritsuko remarked to herself, then. "We already know that, Jared. The angel will have a red core. Destroy that, and you..."

"Hang on *just* a minute!" His voice snapped back. "Our enemy is angels? No! That can't be! Angels are perfect and loyal and true! And if they wanted to destroy mankind that could only be because we had done something singularly awful and *needed* to be destroyed!"

"That's just a code phrase." The doctor remarked dryly.

"Then think of another!" Came his emphatic words. "How can we expect to do battle with our hearts pure and true if we disturb our symbolism? We'd be messing ourselves up from the start! Filling ourselves up with fear and hate and personal glory! No, we're all supposed to be GOOD guys! The imagery's just gotta be there! I insist that all those code words now get changed. From now on, *I* am the mighty Sky Lord, pilot of the inestimable combat mecha Thunder Knight! Only since its elemental attacks aren't active yet we'll have to go about calling it a simple Muscle Knight as if we didn't know of its fated destiny as an Elemental Knight before its magnificent powers manifest under great emotion in the heat of battle! Our enemy can be a Dark Warrior."

There was a moment of waiting.

"Dark Warrior approaching Thunder Knight's position." Maya remarked dryly.

"Negative." Gendo told them over folded hands. "We're not changing the codes we use to refer to the Evas or the enemy. Jared is the Third Child, he is piloting Evangelion Unit One, and the Angel is approaching."

The Evangelion flopped onto its back and plucked a tree out by the roots, sticking it between its gums for all the world like a farmer chewing on a straw. The Eva stuck its arms behind its head and contemplated the evening sky. "Hope you enjoy fighting this stuff alone, then." Jared's voice came back.

Maya went pale. Misato was yelling over her shoulder. "Listen Jared, you've got to obey orders. You're a boy you know. Gendo says we're keeping the old codes."

"Then get Gendo out here to fight them. You're throwing me into the classic Moral Dilemma *too early!* I *CAN'T* fight anything with angel as its name, that's like labeling me a bad guy from the start, and even successful bad guys lose in the end! Call it a Hellspawn or a Fallen One, or... ANYTHING!"

"They shall remain angels." Gendo said calmly over folded hands.

The Eva rolled onto its side, as Jared's voice continued to come over the speakers. "But whatever an angel does is, by definition, right because angels themselves are perfect and we flawed men can only guess at their reasoning. So if that *is* an angel out there then I'm obligated by what is right and true to help the darn thing and our series is over before it's even begun, don't you see? The very best I can do to help you is stay indecisive because otherwise I'd have to be out there helping it to stomp the city!"

"This boy is insane." Ritsuko said with wide eyes.

"No," The boy's voice snapped. "Just very loyal. I will abide by the side of Right, whatever that side may be, even if it means my own death. I will *not* be an agent of evil! So either get your own problems straightened out and be my fellow good guys, or..." The Eva shrugged. "I guess the best I can do would be to park this thing and wander off into the sunset. If mankind were to die at the hands of angels that's only because we were evil and deserved it. You can find plenty of examples in the scriptures if you want."

In the command center, all eyes turned to Gendo.

"Ikari?" His henchman made the word a question to the Nerv commander.

"They can't *just* be code names if you aren't willing to change them." The boy's voice insisted. "Because code names change all the time, even every week according to the spy novels. So if they *aren't* code names, then they've got real meaning, right?"

Silence from Gendo.

"And if they've got real meaning then you're either bad guys or seriously misguided. Nothing I can do to help you on either count." The Eva pilot waited, yet heard nothing, and so the mighty robot started trudging back to the launching silo it'd come from. "Well, sorry I can't help you guys."

"Sky Lord," Gendo's voice cut through the static without budging from its pose. "You are to keep your Muscle Knight at its present location."

The Eva paused, as if waiting for something.

"The Dark Warrior is still approaching this city." Gendo concluded, sneering.

"Yatta!" The boy leaped and thrust a fist into the air, actually having his Eva do it too. "You see how easy it is to be good guys?" He cheered. The Eva slapped a fist into is palm. "Now let's show this evil spawn what it really means to tangle with virtuous heroes!"

A mass sigh of relief sounded in the command chamber.

Ritsuko leaned over the controls. "Jared, I want you to go to the building on your left. In it you'll find a rifle. I want you to pick that up, and use it against the angel when it comes within range."

"You're slipping." His voice chided, but he went and picked up the gun, having his Eva hold it while he examined it. "Will the *dark warrior* also have guns?"

"It's been using energy beams." Misato informed him.

Eva One dropped the rifle to around waist level, for all the world using mannerisms like he was actually the one holding it. "Well, that's good enough I suppose. But using guns against energy beams is a losing proposition. What other weapons do I have?"

"What do you mean 'good enough'?" Ritsuko questioned.

Misato overrode her. "The Eva, err, excuse me, your Muscle Knight comes with a progressive knife stored over your left shoulder. You will use that to destroy the *dark warrior's* core."

The Eva was shaking its head. "Guns, knives... you guys watch way too much Street Fighter and Urban Gladiator. First off, using guns when the other guy hasn't got any is a bad sign, and using them against energy beams is dumb. Second, a knife is about as lowbrow a weapon as you can get for close fighting."

"Your point being?" Ritsuko snapped.

The pilot sighed. "They're *both* weapons you want to avoid if you've got anything else that's classier. Class is life in these shows. You were really well set up to be bad guys. Though now you're better off that I'm here to show you what being the *good guys* is all about! So for the next fight, come up with a shield I can carry that diverts and breaks up energy beams and something classy for hand to hand. Swords are traditional and nicely effective, but axes, spears or bladed staffs all have their uses and can be really cool if you know how to pose right!"

"We haven't the budget for that." Ritsuko replied in dry tones. "Our Evas are costly."

"You're slipping." He chided again.

The Eva ran back up to the top of its mountain.

"Jared?" Misato asked. "What are you doing? The An... the *dark* angel's within range of your guns."

"Shhh! It hasn't noticed me yet. I'm waiting for a dramatic entrance!"

There came a mass sweatdropping on the command center. Then they were hit by his sharp intake of breath when he said. "Misato, quick!"

"What is it?" She cried. It was hard to admit, but his behavior was getting their blood up. Hearing the urgency in his voice inspired equal urgency in hers.

"I need to know; am I a dashing sort of hero, the embittered loner, or the goofy and uncoordinated rookie?"

Mass facefault of the command center crew.

As she got up, Misato, brushed back her hair, fighting the urge to scream. "How about the professional soldier, hmm?"

"No, are you crazy? I'd have the lifespan of ice cream in an overheated nuclear blast oven! Professional soldiers are the *first* types to get killed. That's why they can't ever be more than the caring mentor who gets killed partway into the first season! Frankly, I'd choose dashing hero in an instant, but there's a shortage of lazy but lovable, donut-snorting couch potatoes with hearts of gold to serve as the necessary comic relief to such a serious character."

Maya sucked in her top lip. "How about the cocky but talented, pursued by a dozen fiancees, young hero with a mysterious past? I think I read that in a book somewhere."

"I could use that..." His voice came back, thoughtfully considering.

"Will you just fight the angel?" Ritsuko snapped.

"What was that? I didn't copy." His voice came mocking back.

"You heard me, you little..." Ritsuko shouted.

"Doctor." Gendo's voice sounded like a cutting knife. "Adjust your terminology. The pilot will not respond effectively to the old 'codes'. Getting his obedience is worth a minor alteration in language. It fails to change anything meaningful."

Moving humbly, she nodded.

Ritsuko was just leaning forward to shout something when the dark warrior reached what Jared considered to be a satisfactory point. His Eva leapt down before it, pointing a finger while he shouted. "Hold it, Negatrash! I am a Muscle Knight, defender of Earth! And we don't welcome slimy freakazoids here to squash our planet!"

Misato's head fell into her hands.

His Eva began to go through various sentai poses. "So why don't you vamoose bug-breath, or I'll be forced to make stir fry out of you!"

"Jared," Ritsuko warned. "Why don't you try attacking it?"

He was shocked. "Before I finish my entry speech? Get real. I'd incur the sort of bad luck you only see in comic relief sidekicks! Though I *may* have to come up with better lines, these don't sound suitably studly enough."

Mass sweatdropping.

The enemy swung at him.

Dodging with a triple back flip, he then ran three steps forward and sprang into a handspring, flipping three times in the air to land a punch to the dark angel, driving it to its knees while he fell to pose behind the bad guy in a martial arts stance.

Eyes went wide in the command center.

"He's... actually *capable*?" Ritsuko whispered in disbelief.

Falling to catch his Eva on one hand and sweep the recovering alien's legs from it, he launched a flurry of spinning overhand blows and rising kicks smacking the enemy about like a cloth practice dummy.

With a pulse of will, he cut off his Evangelion from command control so they couldn't try any funny business. Then with another pulse of thought, activated broadcast capabilities so that every radio and every shelter for miles around ought to hear him while he torqued Gendo's grimy shorts.

Eva One threw another punch at the target and flipped away for some posing room.

"Fighting evil by moonlight
winning love by daylight.
Never running from a real fight
I am the one named Thunder Knight!"

"What is that? Why is he talking so strangely?" Misato yelled.

"Unidentified. It may have something to do with the music." Maya replied.

"Talking to music? He might be talking to music? That's bizarre!" Several voices of personnel on the bridge responded.

The alien punched at him but he leapt, tucked and spun over it, untwisting in midair in order to kick the monster in the chest. Then dropped and dragon tail swept the invader off its feet once again to follow up with a rising uppercut.

"We will never turn our back on a friend.
We are always there to defend
We are the ones on whom you can depend
We are the team of Royal Knights!"

The enemy blasted out with twin energy beams and sliced off Unit One's arms.