Code Evangelion

Stage III: I'll Pilot It

The face was terrifying. Two glowing eyes set over a wicked smile, and a horn topping it all. The purple robot glared at the occupants of what can now be seen as a bridge.

"Is-is this my father's work?"

"Correct," Gendo Ikari's imperious voice stated. Shinji looked up. There was the man, standing behind a thick pane of glass, aloof and inaccessible to Shinji as always.

"So…this is why you…left us?"

He had said he needed to work, to build a weapon…Shinji had assumed that it was going to save Japan…

So this was it; the weapon

A weapon handed straight into the hands of Britannia.

Maybe that was why it looked so furious.

"Why, father…?"

He was looking down, afraid to look up and meet the man's gaze.

"Why did you abandon me? You knew the invasion was going to reach where I was. Why did you leave me then? And why did you call me here now?"

He clenched his fists.

"GIVE ME AN EXPLANATION!" he screamed.

"You were a burden to me then. You are useful now." Gendo said calmly. "It is as simple as it sounds. I have a use for you, so I called you."

Shinji looked back down.

"So, in the end, you just wanted to use me…is that all I am to you, a tool?"

"Is that what you believe yourself to be in my eyes?"

Shinji was silent. Far-away explosions shook the facility.

"It's moving again."

"What?"

"The Angel, the thing that you just saw; it should have recovered from the N2 mine blast," Gendo said. "It wouldn't be long before we are attacked."

Another explosion, this time more distinct, hit the base. The overhead lights trembled.

"And…"

Misato intervened.

"Wait, commander, what are you going to do? Unit 00 is still in cryostasis!"

She gasped in horror.

"You're going to use Unit 01?"

Ritsuko stepped in.

"It's our only option. That Angel must be destroyed."

"But…"Misato struggled with the facts. "Rei can't pilot…Lady Langley is with Princess Euphemia's forces…we have no pilot!"

"We just got one," Ritsuko said coldly. "Shinji, you will pilot it."

He was surprised and scared, despite the fact that he knew, in the pit of his stomach, that something like this will happen, since they showed him this machine.

"You're telling me to take this thing and…and fight that monster?"

"Correct"

He shook with rage.

"Father…how can you do this to me? I thought…I thought that you didn't want me anymore…"

"You are of use to me," he repeated. "Therefore, I have called you."

"But I can't…I just can't! I've never even…seen anything like this before!"

"You will be instructed"

His excuses were flying out the window, along with his nerves.

"I JUST CAN'T!" he screamed.

Misato…she looked so disappointed. Gendo betrayed a hint of a scowl.

"Fuyutsuki," he said. "Wake up Rei."

The image of the elderly man speared on a screen.

"Can we use her?"

"She's not dead…yet."

Shinji watched helplessly as orders were given to reconfigure "Unit 01" for the mysterious Rei.

"I knew it! I'm not needed after all!"

'But it's my own fault that I'm not needed. I could have agreed…'

'No! It's father's fault! It's father's fault!'

'It's your own fault.'

Something clinked gently in the distance. A moment later, the door to the Cage opened, and bed was wheeled in. On it was a slim girl, with bandages covering one eye and wrapping around one arm. She looked too fragile to fight.

The nurse and doctor exited, leaving Rei alone on her gurney. Still gasping in pain, she struggled up.

"What are you still doing here?" Gendo demanded. "You've proven yourself unusable. Get out, now. You will only get in the way."

Overhead, a lightning bolt of cross-shaped energy sank through the dome of the Geo Front. Buildings previously affixed to the dome fell inwards, creating a barrage of shockwaves that threw the occupants of the Cage in all directions and dislodged the already flickering overhead lights.

"Look out!" Misato yelled. It was too late; the heavy lamps crashed down over Shinji's head. A split second later, the liquid immersed hand of Unit 01 splashed over the bridge. A huge hand loomed over Shinji as he cowered on the ground.

"The Eva activated itself!" a technician screamed. "It tore off the arm bindings!"

Ritsuko struggled to sit up from where she'd fallen.

"That's impossible! The Eva moved without any kind of interface?"

Holding on to the rail of the bridge, Misato stared at the spectacle.

"It moved on its own? Was it trying to protect something?"

Her eyes fell upon Shinji.

'It's him! It's got to be him!'

XXXXXXXXXX

He could still feel the pain in his bones from the jarring explosions. They reminded him…of the invasion. Back then, constant explosions had racked his world, too.

The girl called Rei lay limp next to her overturned gurney. Shinji ran to her in fear. It would've been his fault if she got hurt here. With the svelte body in his arms, he could feel the tremble of her muscles. They constantly tightened, released, and twitched as she shuddered in pain. Something hot and wet began to slide into Shinji's palm, and he held it up to see the blood dripping from it.

Her blood, staining his hand

Because he'd run away.

"I…I mustn't run away! I mustn't run away! I mustn't run away!"

If he can save people…then fighting wouldn't be so bad.

"I'll do it!" he yelled. "I'll pilot it!"

XXXXXXXXXX

"Milady-"

"Now's not the time!" Asuka roared. "I want to know why that bastard dropped that bomb while my men were still in the area! What a disgrace! A good dozen of my wounded killed by friendly fire!"

"Milady, please; the order to inform her Highness Princess Euphemia of the N2 Mine was given after the missile had already been launched!" the Nerv officer stammered.

"And who the hell dares to be so foolish? Do they not know whose soldiers are fighting out there?"

"The order…came from Commander Ikari, Milady."

Gendo Ikari

Eleven

Mad scientist

And one of the Emperor's red-hot favorites

"Mein gott…"

The Knight of Two was hardly in a position to complain about it.

She shut off the line and stalked off. Even the best friend of both Euphemia and Cornelia li Britannia was powerless against a man so deep into Charles zi Britannia's favor.

How had that Eleven done it?

She almost immediately chastised herself. It wasn't her noble birth that made her great; in fact, she despised her nobility, the hordes of suitors and playboys that crowed at her feet, and the feeling of having been cheated out of a struggle for her status.

"Get me Earl Asplund; see if his new knightmare is still functional. And get me a Sutherland with a prototype MVS on it."

XXXXXXXXXX

Shinji gagged as a deep, amber liquid sloshed into his lungs. Each breath strained his lungs, and his chest burned with the effort of breathing the dense medium.

"I think I'm going to be sick…" he moaned.

"Quit complaining! You're a man, aren't you?" Misato chided. "Begin the launch sequence!"

In the back, Gendo Ikari watched impassively the launch sequence commencing.

"Are you sure about this, Ikari?" Fuyutsuki asked. "The plan isn't certain that this would work."

"You saw, as well as I, Yui's reaction. There is little doubt that he can do it."

"It all rests on your faith, Ikari…"

"No; faith does nothing. You know this as well as I, Fuyutsuki. The future of man must be free from such uncertainties as faith."

From the front of the command center, Misato turned.

"Sir…"

Gendo nodded. The Captain turned back.

"Evangelion Unit 01, launch!"

The base reverberated with the sound and force of the electromagnetic linear catapult that shot Unit 01 away from Nerv's underground Cage towards the surface. The steel frame of the tunnel rattled as the Eva flew past it in a blur. Aboveground, a steel bulkhead ground open, and the end of two rails spat out, locking into place with a clang. Unit 01 rose out of the earth, following its rails, and stopped abruptly as the rail ran out.

The Angel turned as it walked through the street across from the Eva. As it focused on the machine, the Core at its chest glowed.

Shinji shivered in fear

Misato crossed her fingers

'Shinji…don't die out there!'

XXXXXXXXXX

Lelouch exited the Burai to a desolate sight. There was nothing in front of him; only a giant crater glowing with a sinister, radioactive aura. If the Britannians, or some group affiliated with Britannia, had this, then…then his quest to destroy Britannia is finished…

"Cornelia, you say that this is none of your doing?"

Did he just detect a hint of anger from the Witch of Britannia to the suggestion that someone has suggested that she would throw around a weapon of mass destruction?

"Zero, I was going to ask you the same thing. I wouldn't have been surprised if your organization precipitated such an attack."

Lelouch laughed to himself; this was a good chance to intimidate her a little.

"Why would we waste a weapon like this on an unknown? For all we know, that thing could have been engineered by the Chinese Federation or the European Union against Britannia. Combined with that, a weapon such as has been deployed would likely wipe out any sized force in the way."

Cornelia stiffened at the slight twitch of Zero's head.

'Could the Black Knights have done that? A weapon of that power…could they possibly have one?'

She kept a straight face and nodded lightly.

"Of course not"

XXXXXXXXXX

'Just think of walking…'

This was stupid; how did father expect him to pilot this thing? For heaven's sake, he wasn't exactly Amuro Ray, or whatever that kid's name was, from that Gundam show…

"Walk…" he hissed at the machine. No doubt, the monster, the "Angel," was laughing at him…

Why was he even doing this? He didn't know the Rei girl, yet he had felt the need to protect someone else in need.

The Evangelion's leg wobbled and the entire construct collapsed to the ground. An unearthly bolt of pain shot through Shinji, as if he, and not the robot, had fallen.

"Shinji, get up!" Misato screamed. "Get moving!"

'Get up! Get up!'

The robot wasn't moving.

"Oh, SHIT!"

The Angel lifted Unit 01 by the head effortlessly. Shinji cried out as his neck received the sensation of dangling several dozen stories' worth of Evangelion.

The Angel gripped Unit 01's forearm, and its biceps exploded in size. Shinji screamed with the added pain.

"Where is Unit 01's A.T. Field?" Ritsuko demanded.

"Unable to activate; synchronization rate is falling rapidly!" Lieutenant Maya Ibuki cried.

Unit 01's wrist crunched under the Angel's claw. Shinji's howl pierced the command center with agony. The Angel released Unit 01 and let her dangle for a second, before spearing her in the eye with a strange, beam-like blade. The blade snaked in and out of the back of the thing's arm, smashing into Unit 01's face repeatedly.

"Cranial case cracking, damage to brain—she can't take it anymore!" Lieutenant Makoto Hyuga yelled. "Any more and—"

The spear tore through Unit 01's skull. The machine flew backwards and smacked into a building. The spear retracted, and she crumpled. Twin geysers of blood shot out of both sides of her head.

"Damn it, Shinji!"

Misato whirled to face the technicians.

"What's Unit 01's status?"

"All systems down; no response from the life-support systems. We can't monitor the pilot!"

"Target is advancing!"

Misato felt sweat dripping down her palms. With Unit 01 gone, this would be over in minutes.

The Angel loomed over the inert Evangelion and lifted its arm.

"Eject the pilot!" Misato yelled. "Save something!"

"We CAN'T! It's completely out of control!"

The Angel's arm boiled into a ball of flames.

"That fancy robot not working?" a voice yelled sarcastically. A Sutherland with a bazooka fell out of a carrier, rapidly firing.

"Need a little help?"

Asuka threw away the spent bazooka. The Sutherland was a few dozen meters off the ground when she fired both harkens into a nearby building. The line screeched as the Sutherland's vector snapped by ninety degrees. Its landspinners hit the ground running, and Asuka swiped out the prototype MVS into her hand and jumped. Still pulled by the Harkens, the Sutherland plunged its MVS down the Core of the Angel. A blazing shield of glowing octagons slapped the Sutherland to a halt, but the tip of the sword had gotten through before the shield fully deployed.

"I'm getting tired of this shit!" Asuka roared. The MVS glowed white with the full power that Asuka pumped into it. At the same time the Harkens tore out of its anchorage, the MVS broke and exploded, throwing the Sutherland to the ground.

"The Sutherland is down!" Maya reported. "Target is undamaged!"

Shigeru Aoba suddenly perked up.

"Confirming energy reading from Unit 01; it's reactivating!"

"GOTT—VERDAMNT—"

Something huge leapt over the Sutherland and tackled the Angel. The entire mass of metal and monster slid through the streets, leaving a deep gash through the ground.

Unit 01 reared its head and bellowed to the sickly moon. Sharp fangs protruded out of its jaws, slit-like eyes expanded into glowing orbs, and its good arm brought a resounding smash into the Angel's Core.

"Lady Langley!"

The Lancelot had landed next to the damaged Sutherland.

Unit 01 tore into the Angel insanely. The earth trembled with the force of each blow.

"We're retreating, milady. Please, let's go!"

Asuka smacked Suzaku away.

"I'm not retreating," she snarled.

Unit 01 was thrown into the air by a bright violet beam from the Angel's Core. The edges of the beam vaporized entire blocks into oblivion. The Lancelot snapped out its Blaze Luminous shield and knocked Asuka's Sutherland to the ground. Though they were a good two hundred meters from the Angel, the two Knightmares were lifted into the air by the force of the beam. Lancelot's shield arm broke off as its shield overloaded, and the Sutherland auto-ejected when its legs were melted.

Unit 01's feet dug into the street, and its lower back smashed into the building behind it. She snarled and catapulted back at the Angel. Her left pylon produced an ornate snap-out blade, whose blade lit red, revealing its maser-vibration nature. Approximately three-fourth the length of Unit 01's forearm, it sliced into the Angel's A.T. Field with a burst of sparks.

"Unit 01's A.T. Field is expanding; it's neutralizing the phase-space."

"No!" Ritsuko declared. "It's breaking through it!"

The blade lit orange with Unit 01's Field, and stabbed through the Angel's Field. As it sliced down, it made an unpleasant sound like tearing cloth. Several seconds later, Unit 01 had the Angel by its beaklike face. After grinding it into the ground, Unit 01 heaved it by its bony ribs and ripped a pair out. The bones came loose with a sickening crack, crunch and spray of purple blood. The Eva let them fall limp, held its knife in both hands, and stabbed down. The tip cracked through the outside layer of the Core, and more fluid sprayed out in small, steamy jets when the glowing blade cut into the interior of the orb.

The Angel screeched and, in a last desperate attempt to destroy Unit 01, twisted its limbs around the Eva. Its ruined Core blazed to life.

"It's going to self destruct!" Misato cried in alarm.

End Stage III