A note from the Hime no Argh herself-

This is, er, an odd project. It's pretty much just an experiment of mine to a) refine my dialogue writing skills, and b) see how well I write Eva drama. I'm not really sure where I came up with the idea. In rewatching the series it pretty much just sprang into my head. It takes place directly after what I believe is the eighteenth episode, in which Eva 03 is taken over by an Angel during the start-up test and is ripped to pieces by Unit 01. Everyone remember that episode? Great.

Summary: Shinji's memory is erased and rewritten, resulting in the dramatic change of attitudes and relationships at NERV. Now the people in Shinji's life must deal with his new identity, but how will they respond to a completely different person?

Rating: Rated R for language.

Disclaimer: I don't own Evangelion, it belongs to the brilliant people at Gainax.

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Act I: In the aftermath of change.

"I can't believe that these are the last days. Misato, Ritsuko, my father, even Asuka and Ayanami- they all believe, but somehow, I can't see it as being true. I can't see how this can be our time, how any minute now we're going to be blown off the face of the Earth in Third Impact. If God is truly angry enough with humanity to want to destroy us all, why would he send angels against whom we have a method of defense? Why doesn't he just swoop in and kill us himself?

No, I think that perhaps this is some sort of test, maybe to see if we're worthy of surviving. If that's the truth, then I will say this- I hate God. I hate a God that would make our lives, the pilots and mine, what it is today- an endless parade of angels who come to hurt us and be destroyed. I hate a God that would use us in this sick game. Why us? Why three fourteen-year-old children? What great sin have we committed to warrant this kind of living hell?

I look into the future now, and all I see is a bleak, dark road, leading to nowhere. I see my life going in circles now; a revolution of my world, of all the people who stand ringed about me, looking to the future with determination in their eyes. We will survive, they are saying. No matter how many hardships we face, no matter how much suffering and pain we endure, we will survive, and that is enough.

I see myself, standing alone and detached in the center of my little world. I'm not looking to the future, but rather at myself. Trying to decide who I am. Trying to decide who I shall be.

If God is merciful he will allow the Third Impact, and let one tortured soul sleep."

-Excerpted from an essay written by Ikari Shinji

Code name: Shinji One

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The buzz of the fluorescent light overhead was deafening, compensating for the silence in the dreary hospital waiting room. Misato Katsuragi and Rei Ayanami sat side-by-side in chairs in front of the window, sunlight warming their backs, yet never penetrating the cold inside. Rei was still in her plug suit, looking her usual untouchable self. Misato was bloodied and bruised, sporting bandages everywhere. They both stared ahead and listened to their own thoughts. The PA crackled, and a woman's voice called for a Doctor Ishida. A clock on the wall ticked away the endless minutes.

Finally, Rei spoke. "When will the operation be finished?" she asked in her usual cool, emotionless voice.

"I don't know," Misato replied, her own voice trembling with anxiety. "It shouldn't be-" Her voice caught, and she stopped to clear her throat. "It shouldn't be more than a few minutes longer."

Rei nodded, and they went back to silence. Moments later, the sound of hinges swinging caught their attention; they looked up to see Asuka entering the waiting room. She was wearing a hospital gown, her arm in a sling and a bandage wrapped around her head, stemming the flow of blood from the gash on her forehead. She limped slightly, but was otherwise fine.

"Asuka." Misato stood to help the pilot to a seat. "How're you feeling?"

"Just fine," Asuka muttered, wrenching away from Misato rudely and taking a seat on her own. Misato let it go. They were all feeling the aftereffects of the last battle.

"I see Wonder Girl is fine," Asuka noted with a sneer in Rei's direction. "Why are we waiting here, anyway? When are we going home?"

"We're waiting for Shinji." Misato struggled to keep her voice from shaking too hard. "He's in the Neural Ward."

The blood drained from Asuka's face. "Mien Gott," she whispered. "You don't mean-"

Misato nodded. "I'm afraid so."

"But- but why?"

Misato bit her lip. "Shinji...well...he...he went into a s-sort of catatonia. He couldn't deal with the repercussions of his actions."

"Repercussions?" Asuka echoed. "Then he-" Her eyes widened. "He took down Unit 03? But does he know who the pilot is?"

"He does," Misato confirmed. "He found out after- after it happened. He saw-" Her voice broke and she buried her face in her hands.

"Idiot," Asuka muttered, hands clenched into fists. "And I guess he blames himself for everything. The IDIOT!" Her voice rang in the quiet room. Misato and Rei stared at her.

"He's just an idiot!" Asuka continued, almost sobbing. "Of course he took it down! He had to! We'd have all died if he didn't-"

"Shinji…didn't exactly take it down, Asuka," Misato said hesitantly. "He- well, he refused, and Commander Ikari-"

"What?" Asuka demanded.

"He...he used the dummy system."

A silence fell in the room.

"It was necessary." Rei's quiet voice cut through the trance. "Pilot Ikari refused to destroy the target."

"Commander Ikari activated the dummy system, and it-" Misato swallowed hard, fighting a sudden wave of nausea. "It ripped Eva 03 apart with the pilot still inside."

Asuka stared, speechless.

"Then Suzahara...?" she said at last, timidly.

"No, he's alive. He's in this hospital too. His leg was severed, but he's alive," Misato muttered.

"So what happened to Shinji?" Asuka demanded. "Why'd he go nuts if the pilot's still alive? He didn't do anything! It was the dummy system!"

"I know, but I guess Shinji still blames himself," Misato said sadly. "After it was all over, he refused to leave Unit 01. Maya told me that they had to force-eject the entry plug and drag him out of it. Then they drugged him and brought him here-"

"Where they just decided to go ahead with taking his memory?" Asuka hollered, leaping to her feet. "And you just let them?!"

Misato stared at her. "It wasn't my decision, Asuka!" she said hotly. "Ritsuko and Commander Ikari decided it!"

"Who the hell came up with this plan in the first place?" Asuka demanded, looking close to tears. "Whose brilliant idea was it? Why do they want to take his goddamn memory?!"

"We need pilots!" Misato yelled, jumping to her feet. "Maya told me that when he was in Unit 01 and they were trying to coax him into coming out, he said that he would never pilot Eva again! We just can't have that insubordination; our need for pilots is too great! And didn't you ever think that erasing his memory might be the humane thing to do?!"

"Bull shit!" Asuka yelled. "Bull fucking shit! Did Ritsuko feed you that crap? I know you don't really believe it!"

Misato sighed, defeated. "That's not entirely true, Asuka. When Ritsuko told me about the procedure to erase Shinji's memory, if the need should arise, I thought it sounded absolutely barbaric. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it might be kinder than to let Shinji live with the memories of all he's done."

"How could it possibly be kinder if he still has to pilot Eva?" Asuka demanded.

"At least he won't remember that he almost killed a good friend!" Misato snapped. "Or that he lost his mother to the Eva! He won't have any problems with his father, and maybe he'll even lose that shell of his!"

Asuka clenched her fists. "Then they're not just erasing his memory, are they?" she said tightly. "They're rewriting it."

"Yes, of course they are," Misato replied coldly. "They can't just leave him not knowing who or what he is."

"Then what will his new memory be?" Asuka demanded.

Misato looked away. "It's fairly simple. He will remember living in Tokyo 3 all his life, training with the Eva since age ten, and having no problems in recent encounters with Angels. And I-" She hesitated.

"Major Katsuragi will be his mother," Rei supplied calmly.

"His mother?!" Asuka shrieked.

"He has to have a family!" Misato bristled.

"What about his father?"

"Ritsuko and Commander Ikari decided it would be best this way. He and his father simply can't function together."

Asuka made a derisive noise. "All right, then if you're his mother, what does that make me?"

"Nothing different," Misato said shortly. "You're the pilot of Eva 02, recruited from Germany, rooming with Shinji and I."

"Great," Asuka muttered. "I get to be the odd man out in this screwed-up plan. What about you, Wonder Girl?" She directed her wrath to Rei. "Aren't you even a little upset that your precious Shinji is having his memory erased?"

"It is not my decision," Rei said quietly.

"That's not what I asked you, you bitch!"

"Asuka!" Misato stared at her until Asuka sullenly met her gaze. "I understand that you're upset about this." She drew a long, shaky breath. "I think we all are. However, that's no excuse-"

"Who said I was upset?" Asuka snapped. "I never liked the old Shinji in the first place!" She turned on her heel and marched out of the room, slamming the door shut behind her.

Misato sighed and sank back into her seat. "I guess I could expect as much from Asuka. Well...maybe she'll like the new Shinji better," she said with a shred of hope.

"I don't think so," Rei said.

Misato glanced at her. "Why not?"

"Because Pilot Soryu loved Shinji," was the reply.

"She what?" Misato demanded, incredulous, but then the door swung open again.

"Misato." It was Asuka, standing sullenly in the doorframe with a nurse at her side. "Shinji's awake."

Misato jumped to her feet, wincing as she strained her injuries. "How is he?"

"I haven't seen him yet, how should I know?" Asuka said irritably.

"All right." Misato walked swiftly to the door and out into the hall, followed closely by Rei, then Asuka. "I'll go see him."

"I will accompany you," said Rei.

"Me too," Asuka added.

"No." Misato halted and threw out an arm to stop them both. "No one sees him before I have. It's my job to answer any questions he might have about his new past. If either of you were to forget yourselves and start talking about the past you know, he'll just be confused."

"Understood," Rei said. Misato didn't stick around for Asuka to decide to start arguing, but marched off down the hall toward the Neural Ward.

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To be continued.