Self Help Ch. 7 – Eat Your Heart Out
AN: This next scene directly follows the end of ch. 6. The one after does not.
Lilith floated in the sea of Dirac, looking at Rei curiously.
"You know, he probably thought you wanted to make love to him."
"Why would he think that?"
"Part of the reason you brought him to a private dimension is because you have my memories of having sex with him."
Makoto glared moodily at the wine bottles in the middle of the table.
"They're just far enough away that we'd look ridiculous stretching to reach them."
"And I could use a drink to get through this too. All this Jet Alone hype is all the more irritating, knowing how badly they fail."
Meanwhile, the chairman's speech had drawn to a close.
"-will be observing the official demonstration from the control room. Are there any questions?"
Maya sighed once again and stood.
"Ah, but where is the famous Dr. Akagi Ritsuko? We had hoped to see her here."
"The work of NERV is more important that witnessing folly. My question is this: Can Jet Alone defeat an angel as is?"
"Are you referring to the AT field? That is only a matter of time, but in all other ways, yes! Jet Alone is fully capable, as you will see in the demonstration."
"But time is exactly what we don't have. The second angel attacked less than a month after the first. Moreover, if it has weaponry superior to NERV's, then why are you gambling that that level of firepower won't be necessary against the next angel?"
"We cannot afford to put such dangerous weaponry in the hands of children!"
"Better children who have fought successfully and have been trained specifically to fight than scientists who leap before they look!"
"Enough! You will see the results of human hard work and dedication! Then you may judge for yourselves whether we have shown initiative of haste!"
Shigeru gazed moodily out the helicopter window. He wished he was still in Tokyo-3, even if he had to do the work of three people. Unfortunately, having come from the "future", the bridge bunnies are the best field agents for certain dangerous missions, like the Jet Alone "malfunction" or Gaghiel's attack. It was somewhat amusing that the two missions would happen on the same day, as if even the angels are saying the EVA are the better robot.
Lilith leaned against him and whispered,
"Hey aren't we going to meet the new pilot girl? What's she like?"
"Louise the Zero, only with less -dere."
Lilith looked at him skeptically.
"Is that even possible?"
"Real tsunderes aren't like fictional tsunderes."
"Reality is crappy."
Maya lounged outside the ruined ballroom with Makoto.
"I'd make fun of them more if we didn't have similar teething problems."
"They ventured into shonen territory. They should have expected some uncontrollability in their giant robot."
Maya rolled her eyes.
"This is not a shonen manga. Their giant robot was sabotaged and there aren't any distinctive rival characters in their group.
"But they thought of themselves as the main characters. From that perspective, we are the rival characters. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty distinct."
Maya looked him over, then herself.
"You really should get more sleep. It's starting to affect your judgement."
"I am getting more sleep!"
They stood in silence for a few moments. Maya checked her watch.
"Jet Alone has probably stopped by now."
They approached the devastated chairman. Maya cleared her throat.
"It seems your robot became uncontrollable."
"Like a hysterical woman." Makoto added, feeling clever. Maya shot him a quick glare, which he ignored. Maya continued.
"I'll get right to the point. NERV is prepared to buy the prototype."
The chairman focused on her, suddenly suspicious.
"You knew this would happen. This wasn't an accident!"
"Who can say? Even if that were the case, who would want to trust a weapon system so easily corrupted? Take this check and save what you can of your company."
She handed him the check. When he read the amount, he grew angrier.
"This is piracy!"
Maya raised an eyebrow.
"It's more than you would get for it otherwise."
"Drink up me hearties yo ho!"
Maya looked at Makoto. He was grinning unashamedly. She turned back to the chairman.
"Do we have an accord?"
He sighed in disgust.
"The prototype is yours."
The bridge bunnies left.
Maya punched Makoto.
"This is the Third Child? How disappointing."
Lilith nodded in agreement.
"He is kind of a boring main character, even for a harem manga."
Asuka lifted her chin imperiously.
"Excuse me? He is not the main character. I have a tragic past, haunting good looks, and an unrequited love interest. Clearly, my story is the more interesting one."
Shinji wore an increasingly worried expression.
"Um, this is real life. Aren't we all main chracters?"
Asuka patted his shoulder condescendingly.
"Keep telling yourself that. Maybe there will be an episode devoted to exploring your character."
Meanwhile, Lilith moved over and latched onto Shigeru's arm.
"So who is your love intere-"
Asuka's head whipped towards an opening door. The emerging crewman was unnerved by her piercing stare.
"Darn. That should have been his cue. Anyways, his name is Kaji, he is a dreamboat and he is mine, so don't even think about it."
Shigeru cleared his throat.
"I've paperwork for the Admiral, so why don't you guys get acquainted with the canteen and each other?"
"Yo- oh. Nice to meet you, I'm Ryoji Kaji."
The bridge bunny shook his hand.
"Aoba Shigeru. Shall we join the kids in the canteen?"
They boarded the elevator. Kaji coughed.
"I thought they'd send Captain Katsuragi, all things considered."
"Office politics. I annoy someone, they send me out into the middle of nowhere to watch over a girl and her giant cyborg."
The elevator doors opened. Asuka and Lilith were waiting with determined expressions. Shinji shrugged helplessly. Lilith lifted Shigeru's shirt up.
Asuka lifted Kaji's shirt, ignoring his mild protests.
Lilith licked Aoba's stomach. She grinned at Asuka. The redhead looked hopefully up at Kaji, who said, "No."
Asuka crossed her arms in frustration.
"Okay, your guy might be better than Kaji. Maybe."
Kaji looked at Shigeru questioningly. Shigeru waved his hands vaguely, trying to communicate a cosmic truth with limited articulation.
From then on, Kaji kept a suspicious eye on the man.
Asuka pressed the wrist button, tightening her plugsuit. It was time for her to calm the sleeping giant. Part of her (i.e. most of her) still felt a swell of pride every time she laid eyes on the EVA. Even as it is, face down in a barge full of water, it was an awesome sight. Over the course of the voyage, Asuka had grown adept at running along its twitching limbs, and scaling her way up to the entry plug. She slipped into the seat, already reaching out for-
-that special connection that let her know this is her robot. Technically, she only had to spend ten minutes in the plug, but Asuka always felt the most relaxed, most safe there.
Except- gravity was shifting? At first she thought it was the sync going bad, but then she heard metal shrieking. By the time Unit 02 hit the ocean, Asuka was seeing through of its eyes. The decks of most of the fleet protruded below the waves. In the distance, there was a large, pale mass. Asuka grinned.
Shigeru frowned as he stood on what was the ceiling of his quarters.
"Lilith, the bridge please."
The admiral had taken off his sunglasses. He turned when Shigeru warped in.
"How did you-"
"No time. This is an angel attack. Everybody hold on to something!"
The ship turned once more, back to it's original orientation. Shigeru seized the microphone.
"Asuka, you ready?"
The speaker crackled.
"Is Kaji smooth? Drop the umbilical cord and let's get this show on the road."
Asuka exulted in the power she wielded, powering through the water, progressive fins leaving a trail of split molecules manifesting as bubbles. The sixth angel was an ungainly mix of octopus and jellyfish. Its rate of decent was all the more impressive for the amount of drag it must experience. As the distance closed, Asuka noticed she was drifting to the side. It was then that she noticed the immense whirlpool forming over the descending angel. She grinned as an idea came to her. A dangerous idea.
Shinji had been talking with Rei in Lilith's quarters when the wave hit. He had only a handful of seconds to orient himself before Lilith rolled the ship back upright. Thus he found himself laying face down on the floor, a heavy weight on his back.
"Ayanami, are you alright?"
The weight on his back shifted slightly.
"I am quite comfortable. You make a suitable sitting pillow."
Shinji closed his eyes, noticing for the first time how warm and soft the weight was.
"Good to know. If it's not too much trouble could you get off of me?"
Asuka hadn't planned on the dizziness as she swirled down the whirlpool. Nevertheless, her idea worked: She carved her way down into the center of the angel's broad top. Unit 02 scooped out chunks of rubbery angel flesh with its fins. Then her comlink opened.
"Asuka, that is seriously stupid."
"Hardly! I'm one EVA length deep into the enemy, and digging deeper by the second."
"What about your umbilical cord?"
"It's fi-" One of Gaghiel's tentacles ripped the cord apart. More seized the end still connected to the red giant.
Asuka activated the release just in time, the cord whipping out of the hole she dug. The battery began it's crimson countdown. Asuka dug furiously, fear creeping in around the edges of her bravado. She felt something give under her sharp fins: She was through. The core glittered balefully at the end of a long stalk, guarded by hundreds of flailing limbs that hung from the mass she had just dug through. She checked the countdown: 38 seconds. Just enough timeto be clever.
"The funny thing about castrating an angel-"
She slashed through the stalk. Almost immediately, the wound sent stringy tendrils towards the paralyzed tentacle hub.
"-is that it's life really is in its balls."
Unit 02 shot down to the core, gripping the rope-like tissue surrounding the spherical crystal. Asuka hacked at the core, again and again and – the tentacles shuddered back to life – and again – 15 seconds – and again – those things sure are getting close – and agai- the crystal went dark.
Asuka laughed in relief and triumph.
"Angels, meet your new destroyer: Asuka Langely Soryu!"
AN: Bluh, angel fights are hard. Sorry about the wait, but I had hit a block about how to start the fight, and then I got deeeeeeeeep into homestuck. That stuff's addictive. So yeah, the next chapter should come out a little quicker.