A/N: I don't really know what to say. I'm relatively new to the NGE fandom. Seriously, my first exposure to it was when a friend made me watch both of the Rebuild of Evangelion movies a couple weeks ago. I was intrigued, so I went and hunted down the episodes and EoE. I finished all that about a week ago.

This…came to me a few days after I finished. I was listening to some music, and found a number of scenes formulating in my head. I've never written a fanfic before, but the plot bunnies wouldn't go away, so I got to work. I hope you enjoy it. After the opening scene, things start as a straight retelling of Episode 8, but go off the established rails pretty quickly.

Disclaimer: I do not own Neon Genesis Evangelion. As if that comes as a surprise to anyone here.


"Shit."

The curse cut through the air almost as effectively as the alarm that had prompted it. The chamber was empty, save for the one person strapped to a complex piece of machinery in the middle. She hadn't been the one to swear though.

Her eyes drifted upward, toward the safety glass that separated the test chamber from the control room. She could barely make out a solitary figure darting between several computers, trying to figure out the cause of the alarm. "What's wrong?" Her voice wavered, ever so slightly.

It took a second for the answer to come. "It says there's a resonance cascade originating in node seven."

The woman sighed. Less than helpful. "And what the hell does that mean?"

"How the hell should I know? They didn't exactly leave a user manual up here."

"Well hurry up. I'd rather not have this thing blow up on me halfway through." A few seconds later, the alarms fell silent. "Did you get it?"

He hesitated for a second before answering. "Yeah. You're good."

She breathed a sigh of relief as the machine's ever present hum rose in pitch. A few lights turned green and the rotating apparatus around her head sped up. "Thank god."

"Screen says it's entering the final phase. It's locked in now." She saw his silhouette type something into one of the computers. "As long as that thing stays in one piece, it's going to finish."

She felt tears build up in the corners of her eyes as a cautious smile lifted the corners of her mouth. This was really working. Maybe everything really would be okay. "Then you're going to start it up again and come down here yourself, right?"

No response.

She looked up to the control room again, smile falling. "Right?"

"Not exactly."

She tried to sit up from the reclining position the machine left her in, but the restraints made it impossible. "What do you mean, 'not exactly?'"

"I couldn't stop the resonance cascade. I just managed to reroute the power flow so that the failure would happen somewhere else."

"You mean…" her voice cracked and she trailed off.

He walked up to the glass to look down at her. "We're only getting one use out of this thing."

The tears, no longer of relief, spilled from her eyes and ran down her cheeks. "But we're supposed to do this together. We have to do this together."

He made a noise like he was choking back a sob. "I know. I'm sorry. I wish I'd been able to do something else."

Something occurred to her. "Wh-where did you reroute the power?"

"I was hoping you wouldn't think of that."

Eyes wide, she repeated the question, "Where did you reroute the power?"

He put a hand against the glass, "The only place it would let me. Up here. It should protect you from the blast enough."

Her voice started to rise, "What the hell are you doing? Get out of there?"

"The doors sealed when I started the machine." His silhouette turned to look at something. "It'll be done in thirty seconds."

The woman in the seat sobbed openly now. "You bastard. You can't do this to me."

He was sobbing too now. "I'm sorry. But at least you'll get to live on."

The machine's noise pitched higher again as more lights blazed green. The thing spinning above her head was a blur now. "I don't want to if you're not with me."

"I will be, in a way. I'll always be with you." He looked back again. "Two seconds. Listen, never forget that I love…" He was cut off as a massive explosion ripped through the control room. The force threw his body against the glass, which held for a fraction of a second before exploding into the test chamber.

She watched in horror as the fire rushed toward her, engulfing his corpse. She would be with him soon enough now. In her state, she didn't notice the machine abruptly stop spinning as the last light changed to green. She closed her eyes tightly and waited for the end.


Neon Genesis Evangelion: Mitigation

By FourthImpact


Shinji Ikari winced at the throbbing pain in his cheek; still not entirely sure about what had just happened to warrant getting slapped. Misato had just introduced the Second Child when a gust of wind blew across the deck of the Over the Rainbow and pushed up the girl's sundress. Sure, he could see why she'd be embarrassed, even upset. But how did that translate into a slappable offense?

He glanced at his two friends. Kensuke seemed miserable. He hadn't been slapped, per se, but Asuka did smack his video camera back into his face. That would probably leave a nasty bruise.

Toji simply looked pissed. An angry handprint adorned his cheek; similar to the one Shinji was sure he was now sporting. "What did you do that for?" Yep. Toji was pissed.

Asuka seemed more or less unfazed, "That's the viewing fee. Quite the bargain, no?"

Toji scowled. "A little overpriced, but that's okay. Here's your change." Shinji realized what was happening an instant before it actually happened. Toji grabbed his pants and shoved them down, underwear and all.

Asuka's face went from horror to rage in under half a second. She started shouting in German while she hit the jock again. She stepped past Toji, who now sported a second handprint on his face. "So, which one of you is the famous third child?" She frowned as she looked at Toji out of the corner of her eye, "Ach, nein."

Misato chuckled, "Don't worry, Asuka. It's him." She tilted her head toward Shinji.

The redhead leaned toward the nervous Third Child, studying him curiously. "Hm," she finally said. "Not much to look at." She brushed past him without another word.

Can't say the same for her, thought Shinji, watching her walk away. She's gorgeous. It's just a shame that she's so…mean.

A tense visit to the bridge and a cramped elevator ride later, Shinji found himself seated in the ship's mess hall. Things were less than comfortable. He glanced around the table. Asuka was next to him, with Ryoji Kaji, her guardian, on her other side. On the opposite side of the table were Kensuke, who had finally stopped moving and put his camera down for a minute, Toji, and Misato.

He watched Kaji curiously. Shinji had taken an immediate liking to the man. He seemed very amiable. Hell, even Asuka acted kind around him. Misato, on the other hand, looked like she couldn't decide on how to react to the scruffy looking man's presence. She seemed to be switching between wanting to kill Kaji and wanting to curl up and die. At the moment she looked closer to killing him.

For his part, Kaji was playfully prodding Misato's foot with his own. "So, do you have a boyfriend right now?" Shinji was suddenly convinced that Kaji had a death wish. He knew that look on Misato's face – she was not in a mood to be messed with.

"I don't think that's any of your business, is it?" Misato, Shinji noted, was purposefully not looking at Kaji.

Kaji just smirked as he leaned back in his seat and sipped his coffee. "I'm hurt." The smirk turned into a grin as he leaned forward and looked at Shinji. "So, I understand that you're living with Katsuragi."

The Third Child was a little surprised at being addressed so suddenly, but managed not to show it. "Uh…yeah."

The grin was joined by a manic gleam in his eye. "Tell me something. Is she still so…wild in bed?"

That certainly livened things up. Everyone shouted in shock and froze. Misato flushed a truly impressive shade of red. Kaji just watched the aftermath of his question, that same peaceful grin still on his face. Misato leaned toward him, anger written in all of her features, "Just what are you implying by that?"

Kaji looked back at Shinji, who by now had recovered from the shock of the question and was only mildly embarrassed by the implication. "No, she hasn't changed at all, has she, Shinji?

The boy cocked his head, "Um, I guess. But how did you know what my name was?"

"Well, I ought to know you. You're pretty famous in the defense business you know. The famous Third Child who piloted an Eva in his first battle with no training."

"Oh, that. I was just lucky." Shinji felt his face heat up at the praise. It wasn't helped by the death glare Asuka was shooting him.

#


#

What am I doing here? Shinji thought as he watched Asuka move to lift the edge an enormous tarpaulin. The redhead had simply shown up and dragged him off without any kind of explanation. All of his questions had been answered only with annoyed grunts from the girl.

He was about to try asking again, but the question became moot when he saw what was under the tarp. "That's really an interesting color. I didn't know it was red." Not exactly mind blowing conversation, but it was the first thing that had come to his mind.

Asuka responded without even taking her eyes off of the Evangelion. "That's not all that's different about Unit-02." There was a distinct note of pride in the girl's voice

That note of pride became a full-blown symphony as she led him below deck for a closer look at the mecha. Shinji only half-listened as she explained all the ways in which Unit-02 was superior to Units 00 and 01.

By the time they were actually in the Eva's holding bay, he was pretty much in full autopilot mode, also known as the "uh-huh" setting.

Finally, her speech seemed to be coming to a crescendo. "My Unit-02 is the world's first true Evangelion. Created for actual combat conditions, it's the final production model." The ending was lessened somewhat by the waver in her voice as she struggled to keep her balance from atop the robot's head. Something had shaken the entire ship.

Shinji looked around in a panic. "What was that?"

"Undersea shockwave. And it sounded close." She jumped down and led him above deck to see what was going on.

When they were in open air again, Asuka ran ahead to the railing, Shinji only a second behind her. They got there just in time to see…something hit one of the fleet's battleships and head toward another.

Shinji felt a ball of dread settle somewhere in his stomach. "It can't be. Angels."

Asuka sounded torn between nervousness and excitement. "An angel? You mean a real one?"

Another ship was hit and started sinking. Shinji stared at the destruction in horror. "This is really bad. We've got to go back and find Misato."

Asuka giggled as an evil smirk spread across her face. "Wunderbar," she muttered.

As klaxons started blaring across the entire fleet, she grabbed Shinji's wrist and led him back into the ship's interior. In spite of the panic and confusion racing through his mind, he still managed to notice that Asuka's hand was incredibly soft.

She was yelling at him in German when they passed a stairwell. She stopped and whirled around on Shinji, her long red hair fanning out. "Wait here a second."

Shinji rolled his eyes as Asuka ran down the stairs and out of his sightline. "I don't believe this."

He waited for a minute, hearing only the occasional hurried sound from the other pilot. His curiosity getting the better of him, Shinji leaned over the railing to see what was going on. He was treated to quite the eyeful. Her hair cascaded over her bare shoulders as she struggled into a red plugsuit. He caught a glimpse of the side of her breast as she moved an arm. Shinji's cheeks flushed.

Then Asuka noticed him looking. "Don't peep, you idiot."

Shinji yelped and quickly withdrew his head, apologizing profusely. Asuka kept yelling about how perverted he was, and indeed, the perversion of boys in general, for the entire rest of the time that she was dressing.

They ran to Unit-02's holding tank as the sounds of artillery fire echoed through the ship. When they finally reached the Eva, Asuka threw a spare plugsuit at him. Shinji stared blankly at it. She groaned in frustration, "Well, put it on. Don't just stand there."

Shinji eyed the red bundle in his arms uncertainly. He ultimately decided that it was better to just do as the short-tempered girl said than to risk her wrath. He retreated around a corner and hastily donned the plugsuit.

When he went back, Asuka was climbing the Eva and working to bring out the entry plug. Shinji felt extremely uncomfortable in the plugsuit. It was obviously designed for a girl. It left too much room up top and not enough down below. Not to mention he just looked plain ridiculous. "Okay, but what do we need these plugsuits for, Asuka."

She growled in frustration, "Baka. We're going to defeat that angel with my Unit-02." As is to accentuate her point, the entry plug popped out of the Eva's back, ready to accept a pilot. Or pilots as the case may be.

"No way. Does Misato know about this?"

The German girl stared down imperiously, hands on her hips, "I'll get her permission after the fact."

Inside the Eva's cockpit, Shinji felt the familiar, almost drowning sensation that always came with LCL immersion. This quickly passed, leaving him only slightly more uncomfortable than he usually was in an Evangelion cockpit. Usually, he was at least in a marginally comfortable chair. Asuka had taken the seat though, as she started running through the machine's startup routine. The German was unfamiliar to him, but he had started an Eva enough times to recognize what she was doing.

He just crouched behind the chair and tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. That proved fruitless as warning lights started flashing all around the cockpit. "It's a program error," he said lamely.

Asuka looked annoyed, not that was something particularly new, "It's thought noise. I told you not to disturb me."

Shinji felt a little offense. He hadn't done anything. "What do you mean?"

"You're thinking in Japanese, aren't you? If you must think, do it in German."

That ticked the boy off a little for some reason. He decided to be a little bit of a dick in response. He put on the most innocent voice he could manage, "Well, I'll try. Strudel. Bratwurst."

Asuka barely bit back a frustrated yell. "Dummkopf. We'll start over again. Switch language to Japanese."

She ran through the startup sequence again, this time in Japanese, and started to stand up the Eva. While Misato and the Admiral on the Over the Rainbow argued about jurisdiction over the radio, something occurred to Shinji. Unit-02 was equipped with B-type equipment at the moment. B-type equipment was not made for aquatic combat. He pointed this out to Asuka. "If we fall into the ocean, we're done for."

Her voice revealed nothing but determination, "Then we won't do that."

"Shinji, are you in there too?" Misato had apparently heard him over the radio.

"Yes, ma'am. Hi."

"This is our chance," Misato whispered. "Asuka, take off," she shouted.

Unit-02 launched out of its holding tank and landed on another battleship, crushing some of the ship's structure. The tarp that had previously covered the Eva was draped around it like a cloak.

Shinji pointed out that, since the mecha was running on backup power, they only had less than a minute before it shut down. Asuka radioed for Misato to prepare the external power cable. All that was left was to somehow get to the power cable, plug in, and kill the angel, all without falling into the ocean. Piece of cake, thought Shinji, the words dripping with sarcasm even in his own mind.

After a nerve-wracking game of hopscotch, a phrase which Shinji would have probably laughed at had the circumstances been less frightening, Unit-02 landed on the Over the Rainbow's flight deck and plugged in. Shinji idly wondered how much money it would cost to repair the damage they had just done to the UN's Pacific fleet by jumping on so many ships.

Shinji spotted the angel approaching and pointed it out to Asuka. He thought of another problem to add to their list. "We don't have any guns."

Again, Asuka showed no concern, "The progressive knife oughta do it." The Eva drew the blade from its storage place in the left shoulder fin.

As the angel breached the ocean's surface, Shinji stared in wonder. "It's gigantic."

Asuka smirked, "The bigger they are…"

As Unit-02 braced for the angel's attack, the massive, fish-like monster leapt up and landed on the supercarrier's flight deck. For one brief, glorious second, it seemed like they were holding their own against the beast. Then the robot lost its footing and went tumbling into the ocean, followed closely by the angel.

Misato's voice came over the radio again. "Asuka, it's impossible to fight underwater using the B-type equipment."

"Well, you know what they say. You never…never know until…" she trailed off in midsentence. Shinji looked over in concern. "Until you…" The girl's entire body convulsed, as though she were having a seizure, then went limp.

Shinji was by her side in an instant. "Asuka. Are you okay?" He placed a hand on her shoulder and started to shake her. "Asuka?"

"Guys, what's going on in there?"

"I don't know. Asuka just had a seizure or something and passed out." Shinji bit his lip nervously. He pressed two fingers against her neck. "Her pulse is still okay, so she's alive still."

Misato let out a sigh. "Damn it. Okay, Shinji, you're going to have to do this on your own. We'll figure something out."

The boy nodded, "Right." He very carefully picked Asuka up out of the chair and gently laid her down in the spot he had previously been crouched in. Lowering himself into the seat, he took the controls and frowned. It felt…different from when he piloted Unit-01. It was strange. "There's no way Asuka's going to be happy about this," he muttered as he tested the controls. "Misato. A lot of the systems are barely responding."

"It's the B-type equipment. It's not designed for underwater operations."

"Yeah," he whispered. "This is going to be fun."

"Shinji, brace yourself. The angel's coming back around."

Sure enough, the massive demon fish was coming straight for him. When it was a few hundred yards away, it opened its mouth. Shinji caught the briefest glimpse of the core before it was on him. The Eva shook as the angel snared it in its teeth. Shinji grunted in pain as he felt its jaw tighten around the machine. It was far from the worst pain he had experienced while piloting, but that didn't make it pleasant. Asuka's unconscious form bounced a little with the impact.

Outside the cockpit, Shinji watched the undersea landscape whip by as the angel pulled him away from the fleet. He tried to fight against the massive jaw of the beast, but couldn't get any leverage. The teeth remained firmly pressed against Unit-02's midsection. "Misato, it's got me. I can't get loose."

He could hear Misato shout something. "Listen, there's just over a thousand meters of cable left up here. When it runs out it should give the angel a little pullback. If we're lucky that will be enough for you to get free."

"And if that doesn't work?"

"It has to work." The woman's voice was tight his stress and worry. "Tell us the instant you're free and we'll start pulling you back." He heard some noise over the radio that he couldn't make out. "Kaji," Misato exclaimed. Some more conversation that Shinji couldn't make out. "Bastard," she shouted. She took a deep breath, and in a much calmer voice spoke to Shinji again. "One hundred and fifty meters. Get ready."

Shinji's grip tightened on the controls as he readied himself. "Right." Asuka still didn't make a sound.

When the cable snapped taut, there was a wild instant where Shinji thought that he might fly out of the seat and hit the end of the entry plug. Instead, he felt the painful pressure of the angel's bite loosen and slide down until it was focused on his lower left calf. He was mostly free. He brought up the Eva's free leg and slammed the foot against the jaw. At the same time, he pulled the still trapped leg toward him with all of his might. "Please, god, let this work," he whispered.

It was enough, though just barely. Unit-02's foot scraped free of the angel's mouth and began sinking. "Misato, now!" Immediately, he felt the Eva being pulled backwards, toward the fleet. Shinji's eyes widened as the angel turned around and started chasing him. "Uh, Mi-Misato. It's gaining on me."

"I know, Shinji. It's going to catch you. But we have a plan. When it gets you, try to be in a position where you can get its mouth open."

"What? What's your plan?" Outside the cockpit, the angel was taking up an increasingly uncomfortable percentage of Shinji's view.

He could practically hear Misato's smirk. "We're going to ram a couple battleships down its throat."

Shinji had absolutely no response to that. Not that he had time to give one, since the angel chose that moment to catch him again. He was fortunate in that he was in a much better position this time. The way the angel had him made it much easier to find purchase and leverage against its powerful jaw. He strained, pushing with his arms and legs. The mouth didn't budge. He pushed harder. I'm going to give myself a hernia or something, some asshole corner of his mind thought sardonically.

"Shinji, the battleships are on their way to you. You have to get that mouth open."

He screamed with exertion, "I'm trying." It was useless. He wasn't strong enough to force the angel's mouth open.

"Three seconds to impact. Come on, I know you can do it, Shinji."

The sounds coming from Shinji were pure, animalistic ferocity. Every fiber of his being was devoted to prying the monster's mouth open. It was futile. He felt, rather than saw or heard, the battleships slam into the angel's bared teeth on either side of him. They opened fire with their forward cannons and self destructed.

Over the explosive din of the battleships' death throes, he vaguely heard Misato shout something, but he couldn't make it out. His mind suddenly became occupied with other things soon after. Something, probably the sudden fierceness of the attack had caused the angel's to open, ever so slightly. When the ships self destructed, it became enough, however, that the Eva was thrown into its mouth.

Shinji groaned as he tried to get his bearings. A red light came on and a countdown window appeared. The cable had been severed. "Shit," he said to nobody in particular. "Misato, I've lost my cable." When the woman didn't answer, he glanced at the display that showed the radio's status. No signal. Great. "Guess I'm on my own." A quick glance at the still unconscious Asuka confirmed this.

The Eva was on its stomach, so Shinji forced it to roll over. The angel's tongue was squishy and unpleasant. He tried to see if there was any conceivable way out of this predicament. It was dark, the only illumination being Unit-02's running lights. Nothing jumped out at him as a solution.

Desperation growing, he managed to turn the Eva to look toward the angel's back end. Nothing. Wait. At the back of its throat, where a person's uvula would be. A red orb. He could see the angel's core. Shinji took a deep breath and started dragging himself toward the core. When he was within arms' reach, he grabbed the orb with both hands and started squeezing. The angel jerked, surprised at the sudden attack from within.

Shinji put all of his strength into crushing the orb, and slowly, cracks began to appear. The angel's movements were growing increasingly erratic. He spared a glance at the timer to his left. Ninety seconds until the Eva shut down. The cracks deepened and the core collapsed in on itself.

For one horrifying second, nothing happened. Then it seemed like everything happened at once. The angel exploded, propelling Unit-02 upward. It broke the surface, narrowly missing the hull of the Over the Rainbow. It flew upward several stories before it started coming back down. He didn't land on the supercarrier's flight deck, but did manage to grab the edge. The ship listed dangerously, but managed to stay afloat.

Unit-02 clambered aboard the massive ship and knelt down. Shinji entered the command for the entry plug to withdraw. He felt the plug pop halfway out of the Eva's back as the LCL began to drain. He knew the outside of an entry plug would be unbearably hot right now, but the LCL served as an excellent insulator for the inside. Forcing the door open, he picked up Asuka and slowly made his way down Unit-02's back.

As soon as he set foot on the flight deck, he was swarmed. Medics took Asuka away on a stretcher. Shinji found himself pulled into a tight hug from Misato while Toji and Kensuke cheered a few feet away. He had done it. He'd beaten the angel. Shinji suddenly very much wanted to lie down.

#


#

In the deepest bowels of NERV headquarters in Tokyo-3, there was an office. An absurdly spacious office that held only one desk and the chair that the owner of the office sat upon. The floor and ceiling were decorated with an elaborate etching of a tree, but other than that, the room was completely unadorned.

Gendo Ikari sat at his desk, hands clasped in front of his face in what he knew some of the more flippant NERV employees called the "Gendo Pose." He sat patiently, waiting for Ryoji Kaji to arrive in his office. The report he had just received would normally have been cause for a rare smile from the enigmatic commander of NERV. The sixth angel was dead and Kaji was minutes away with a vital part of his plans.

Something had distracted the man from his silent gloating, however. It wasn't the fact that the Second Child was unconscious in the hospital for no discernible reason, though that was troubling. No, it was a light. A small red LED that sat flush with the surface of his desk. He had had it installed over a year earlier, but never imagined that he would actually see it glowing. "Fuyutsuki."

"Yes, Commander?" Kozo Fuyutsuki stepped out of the shadows behind the commander. The Vice Commander of NERV looked at his superior expectantly.

"The light is on."

Fuyutsuki's brow furrowed, "The…" He trailed off for a moment, gaze drifting over the commander's desk. His eyes widened in recognition. "I see. Someone has used the machine."

Ikari nodded. "Correct."

"What would you like me to do?" Fuyutsuki's back straightened as he tensed.

Ikari's voice was cold as he replied, "Follow the scenario. We have prepared for this. Find out who used it. When we have identified the suspect, we will take the appropriate action."

"Yes, sir. With your permission, Commander, I'll get the investigation started."

"Do it quietly, Fuyutsuki. We don't want to scare him off."

"Of course, sir." The Vice Commander walked across the office and left Ikari to his thoughts.

"Fascinating," he muttered as he turned his attention back to the imminent meeting with Kaji.


A/N: WA-BAM! Chapter one down. I'm fairly happy with how this turned out. Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave a comment and let me know. What did you guys think? Do you want more? I'm not sure when exactly I'll get the next chapter done, because I'm getting busy with going back to school, but it shouldn't be more than a week or two if I had to guess.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of NGE: Mitigation. I know I enjoyed writing it. Until next time, I love you all.