"No, you bring it right here! Right here! You promised me that you would show me before you brought it in and you keep your promises, Mister!"Slim hand gripping her wrist, Asuka hears one side of the conversation, pulled along the expansive wood hallway of the Nagisa estate. "No excuses! If you don't do this, I will be very very cross with you! I will have the Chairman back me up on this!"

Nostrils flare. Eyes narrow. "Oh, really? No, the Chairman absolutely dotes on you and on me! He will do anything either of us ask as long as we plead enough! How many kittens did you have, Kaworu? How many kittens?"

The redhead glances at the blonde Annette, eyes darting to the girl, to the chandeliers they pass, to the still broken stairwell that was somehow Mister Nagisa's fault. "Um, Annette? Where are we going, exactly?"

"Mister Nagisa's coming back." Annette turns, twirling her floral spring dress as she does, still keeping a firm grip on Asuka's wrist. She flashes white teeth and pale blue eyes, raising a clenched fist with a grin. "And I made him promise if he gets his thing, he will show me before he shows anyone else!"

"Thing." Asuka blinks. The large doors of the estate open for them, a blinking red light over the archway recognizing them. Annette taps the side of her ear, the blue light of her bluetooth dimming. Walking past the circular driveway, the grandchild of the Chairman- and the niece of Yui Ikari- leads Asuka to an open field of fresh cut grass and distant bushes on the horizon.

"Okay!" Annette claps her hands with an ear-to-ear grin. "C'mon. Do it. Do eeeet."

A leaf passes by, followed by others. The faint scent of flowers and autumn fills Asuka's nostrils. Even as she wonders, why? After all, it's spring. Autumn was more something she read about, or learned about in lectures of pre-Second Impact life.

Blue eyes blink. A leaf lands on her feet, the sensible black shoes. She feels a faint chill, even through her oversized sweater. A breeze ruffles the ends of her ankle length black skirt, but even moreso than the weirdness, there is a familiarity.

"Annette," she says, turning to the girl, spying her now having walked in front with her arms akimbo, "What exactly are we waiting foooHOSHIT!"

Where there was nothing, there is now an Evangelion, sitting on one knee and bent forward. Black and navy, a single orange visor faintly humming. A double horn set on its nose, its features slim, but...oddly familiar.

A burst of LCL, the entry plug cycling out, and there is another blur of motion. Even as Asuka takes another step back, staring at the surprise Eva, she still sees the blur just before it picks up Annette and carries her a handful of feet off the ground, one hand intertwined with hers and the other on her waist in a flying, energetic waltz.

The blur itself, now she can see, is a gray haired young man with reddish-gold eyes and a warm smile, clad in a blue and gray plugsuit. "Well, of course I do have to keep my promises," Kaworu Nagisa says, and sighs, "I wish you wouldn't bring up the thing about those kittens and oh dear."

His eyes meet Asuka's. He coughs, lowering slightly, letting Annette disembark. "Oh. Hello, Miss Sohryu. I didn't expect Annette to bring you to meet the Mark 06."

He looks down. His feet still hover a foot off the ground.

"How are you flying?" Asuka asks.

He looks down again. Looks up. Glances from side to side. "NERV technology," he answers.


Chapter 13:

Badgerconda


The jolt, briefly, knocked her unconscious. Probably a combination of whacking her head on the cab ceiling, and being whipped out of there by the tentacles. Yui, Yui, Yui, she thinks, You have got to get a better sense of priorities about stopped elevators. This isn't the first time this's happened, girl.

She sighs, parting lips and blowing a loose tuft of hair out of her eyes. Glancing side to side, she quickly realizes her head is not restrained, and cranes her neck to look about. She recognizes the facility, albeit only second-hand. The high walls and domed ceiling are freshly polished, with vents at equidistant points and spotlights above them.

"Level 9, Subsection BX," she mutters, "Let's see...that's the Provisional Testing Hangar."

The walls are equidistant, but far enough away that it would take some time to run end from one to another- to an Evangelion, it would be trivial. To a provisional or FRAME, less trivial. But, that isn't important now. Because they haven't done any Prov testing for a while. So this place would not be visited very often.

And, oh yes, she thinks. She is also currently suspended, arms held out and above her head, in the grip of a golden red mass of tentacles which she is still trying to find the source of. Yui Ikari sighs, feeling the mass of something- might be flesh, might be something else- coiling around her waist and legs.

She glances at her labcoat- and PDA- currently on the floor. One shoe is next to it, her bare toes wiggling while a tentacle bats at her foot. The masses of material- which she is still trying to place, continue to move around her, pressing against her sides, coiling further and further up her legs. "Okay, so which one are you?"

She purses her lips, shifting them from side to side. "You're not the one from six months ago. That one dissolved synthetic fabrics." She rolls her neck, glancing around. "Well. That one was still in containment in the Hot Labs last time I checked. But I made sure that the labs were secured before the synch tests."

She wiggles her nose, looking down. The tentacles are just moving. Any constriction is light- like it knows how it could, say, cut off blood flow to her extremities or knock her unconscious, but it just isn't. "No, no. Coloration's wrong." She bites her lip. "Hm. Where did you come from, then..."

The coils pause. There is a faint red glow around her, a faint trill in the air. "Yes, this is not the first time I've been accosted by a tentacle monster. I mean, I don't wear skirts when I go down to the Hot Labs for a reason, and I'm also good at pattern recognition. Like how I've recognized you're working by hydraulics. Night."

She taps her fingers on one of the tentacles around her arm, then grabs it and squeezes. The tentacles tighten and go limp, dropping her to the floor. "Well, that was unimpressive," she says, sitting up and dropping the flaccid lump, sliding towards her coat, "It had no idea what it was doing. I mean on a scale of one to ten on the weird shit-o-meter that was a point five, but-"

The floor underneath her shifts. Plates around her bend upwards. "Crap."

And then the floor bursts around her, a complete and perfect circle of metal plates collapsing downwards in time with the semi-liquid thing erupting. The tendrils grab her ankles, pulling her past the coat and PDA, grabbing her wrists and pulling her arms over her head. It suspends her off the floor, even as a single red eye opens vertically at the end of each tendril, gaze wandering over her.

"Crap!"


...


Kei and Shinji both shriek, back flat against the wall and behind the hastily thrown barricade formed of table and book bags. Partly from the creature that had entered the room. Part from what the girl in the cylinder has just done to the creature.

Standing in the pile of still-twitching pulp that was once the creature, the blue haired girl pumps her fist into the air in triumph. "Yes! Victory! I WIN!"

"Oh gods it's another Hatchi," Kei breathes, "This is the worst thing! Ever!"

The girl retracts her fist. The twitching tendrils go limp and melt into LCL. "Mou! I must think of a new thing! That I do!"She raises a fist, knuckles cracking and eyes narrows. Her hips shift forward and Shinji is for some reason reminded of Doctor Sohryu. "For stuff!"

Shinji looks at the expanding puddle. He takes his PDA off the floor, tapping on the flashlight. "Uh...you speak French, right? Isn't that a thing? Thing?" Walking from the wall, he sweeps the light over the room, mentally chiding himself for giving quirk tips to his sister/cousin/what when they're being attacked. By tentacle monsters.

The girl nods, tapping fingers together. She steps out of the puddle, with a hop and cock of her hips and an unconscious wink. "But we all must have moar things. Which we do!" She whirls, and her bust joins her a moment after before extending a finger to Kei. "We all have a Thing we do, non?"

Kei nods, back flat against the wall. Which is when the ceiling tiles drop to the floor and a red eye peaks down, followed by more tentacles. Kei, understandably, screams. As does the other girl, raising her fist.

The door opens, and Iti walks in. The creature whirls on Iti and lunges, but she shakes her head and extends her hand. The air turns purple and blasts away from them, sending the loose bolts, tiles, and bookbags flying across the room.

The creature freezes before a wall of light bisects it, and it dissolves into a puddle. "Vulnerable to AT field manipulation." Iti turns to Kei and Shinji. "Good. We should find Doctor Ikari. In a moment."

Iti shuffles forward, reaching into the shopping bag at her side and pulls out a chart. Holding it out, she meets the girl's eyes. "We already have a Rei. Choose a new name."

The girl closes her eyes, cocking her head imperiously, and punches the chart. Both girls look at the name with the LCL fist print on it, and Iti nods. "Congratulations. You are-"

"Zyuu Ayanami!" LCL-caked glove thrust into the air, caked hair bouncing around her shoulders, her eyes glow with enough light to give the room a dim red sheen. "Princess of Mars! We shall burn this invasion with the fires of our Things!"

Her hand shoots out like an uncoiled serpent and punches through the chart to grab Iti by the wrist. "Now let us go! For NERV! AND GREAT JUSTICE!" She narrows her solid red eyes. "By the way, do you always dress so...boringly?"

Iti looks down, then back up. Then stares blankly at her sister and responds with a short, flat, "What."


...


"Well that happened." Yui flops down, hocks up, and spits out a wad of something. Not sure what, but she's pretty sure it wasn't there before the tentacles got good and shredded. She also can't tell what it was, since the place is completely dark. Save for the two reddish green eyes hovering in front of her.

"Mum are you okay?" The voice is shaking, eyes wide open and round. Yui nods, grabbing the shoulders of the girl and pulling her into a hug.

"It's okay, Siyon. I'm fine."

She pats the girl on the back, hugging her close and squeezing. Long arms wrap around Yui's shoulders, the girl rocking side to side. "Don't worry, I'm fine," Yui sighs, "On a ten point scale of the weirdest things I've run into, it was a five. Maybe a six."

A light bathes them both, coming from a small sphere held up by a waldo extended from the ceiling. "Dr. Ikari! I found you by the tracker in you PDA and found Siyon and got her here and-"

Yui holds up a finger. "Thank you, MAGI." She sighs, glancing at the eyes hovering in the distance. Siyon has retreated into the shadows, but hovers close. "Any damage? I don't have a light, really-"

The light from the MAGI terminal flashes brighter. Yui looks down, and stares at the white spots on her pants and sweater. "Oh dammit, the thing's blood is bleach? How does that even work? So I just got sprayed with bleach?"

A PDA is shoved into her hands, the camera on the top flashing and giving her a good look at her face. Yui stares down, looking at her image. Her eyes go wide, brow furrowing. In response, the mop of blue hair on top of her head shifts. "Oh fuck me."

Siyon sucks her teeth. The MAGI coughs. "Right." She climbs to her feet, long hands helping her up. "Okay. Did they get out of the Hot Labs? What are they, exactly?"

The MAGI terminal inches over, directing the light away from Siyon and to Yui. There is shuffling beside her, the girl moving around, shifting around the domed room. "Well, no. They're not from the hot labs. Before the power went down, these things registered as a Pattern Indigo."

Knuckles pop. Yui directs her stare at the sphere. "Cherubim. What kind?"

The iris narrows. It shifts, side to side. "Iruelim."


...


The screens of the two PDAs provide the sole illumination of the blacked out elevator cab. Blue eyes glance to the side, to the light reflecting off the two orange shades. "Gendo, do you wear those indoors?"

The lenses shift up. "The lenses are specially treated." A cough. "Also, they're reading glasses." The screen on the PDA slides over to a report. "Have you spent time with Mari?"

The screen in front of Kyoko shifts to a set of blueprints. "Been trying. Haven't had many chances. But, my daughter and I had lunch together yesterday." Her eyes narrow. "Mari believes your son is handsome. Should I discourage this?"

The glasses shift back up. "No, Kyoko. It should be entertaining." Gendo made an amused noise. A snort, perhaps. "I severely doubt Mari would be able to do anything when he has Katsuragi to draw his attention. She can join the queue of women competing with our Operations Director."

Kyoko chortles, eyes rolling in the darkness. "Does that queue involve my other daughter? Is this why Yui was so insistent I bring Asuka with me?" Silence from the Commander. "Dear Lord, she is. She's intent on pairing them up, isn't she? Well, I might as well tell you."

The glasses jerk up, tilting downward in time with Kyoko grabbing him by the ear. She whispers into his ear, something secret. Something she's kept close to her vest. The lenses jerk before standing upright. Then, they nearly fall off his face when he throws back his head and laughs.

"And that's true?" Gendo asks. She says nothing. "It is," he continues, "Well. I'll keep that secret, Kyoko, if only because I definitely want to see Yui's face when she finds out." The glasses adjust, the screen of the PDA closing. "So. Enough dancing around. Shall we?"

The PDA on Kyoko's side closes. "Of course. I'm on top."

The cab falls into darkness. Gendo grunts, shoes shuffling. "You...you don't do this very often, do you?" she asks.

Another grunt. "I do. Usually with Fuyutsuki." A honk and a warble. "I'm not saying you've gained weight, Kyoko-"

"Shut up and do it faster!" A cough. "God, I hope the listening devices you've charmingly laid around this entire fucking base went out, because it sounds like we're spooning." A bare palm slams into something hard. Once, twice, three times.

And on the top of the elevator cab, a panel opens. Grabbing the sides, Kyoko pulls herself up and onto the roof. "Maybe we should stop putting so much innuendo into our conversations."

White gloves grab the sides of the opening. Gendo pulls himself up. "In your endo."

She narrows her eyes and glares at him. "Very mature. Really." She looks up, up the shaft. "Right. Let's start climbing."


...


Spotlights overhead supplement the hangar bay's plentiful lighting, shining on every angle of the t-shaped construct suspended in the center. At the heart of a web of reinforced supports, catwalks and right angle braces, a thin shape resembling a steel spine built into a pair of oversized shoulders hangs.

Yellow lines run along the ribs of the artificial vertibrae. Pale gold highlights pulse along the armor. "Fuel injection confirmed. Pressure in the laser core is stable." A faint red light issues forth from the recess at the center of the construct. "Initializing in three...two...one. Initialize."

A ridged and hollow turbine begins to spin at the center of the construct, gaining speed and momentum. The light fans out from its depths, glowing red, then white, then finally blue. Flame erupts along the edges of it, even as lights flicker on along the length. Followed by cheers over the speakers.

"Confirmed! N2 Turbine has been successfully initialized! We are go for Prov-05 construction!"

Tightening the parka over his beard and collar, he grins. The bluetooth in his ear flickers on and he listens to the cheers from the control booth, several levels up. "Albert, I take it you were supervising?"

"Someone had to, Tom. N2 Turbine has been successfully initialized."

He pulls on the gloves- thick, black, but flexible enough for him to still use his fingers. "I know. I just saw it." The catwalks and grates speed past. Within seconds, the view of the cage is replaced by black stone walls.

"Ah. No, no. Don't tell me. You're on your way to visit Subject Seven." A sigh, long and put upon on the other end. "Tom, do I need to remind you that we still haven't been able to raise the First Branch?"

Tom sighs. Of course he knows. Sprout's already told him. At length. "I know, Albert. I'm sure they're all fine." Muttering from over the earpiece. "And yes, I did initiate the cryo systems before heading down. I even have my parka and gloves on so I don't get a cold. Do you have anything else to add, or-"

"I'll have some coffee ready when you get back." A mutter, followed by a german swear. "Look, we need to find out what happened with the First Branch. If we have to, we'll send Sprout over via our MAGI. Clear?"

Tom nods. The black walls pass, letter and numbers signifying how deep he is in Bethany Island. The cold briefly turns to heat, then passes as the platform descends into a tunnel of frost covered stone walls and piercing blue electronic eyes.

Two doors, stone and veined with gold, stands before him. Overhead, there is the fig leaf, emblazoned over the seven eyed mask. Beneath it, in crimson ink, is written a phrase; "God's in His Heaven, and You Are Here."

Stepping off the platform, Tom let's the lights run over him. Examining him, confirming his identity. He can feel the floor beneath him shift. Weapons are deactivated, coolant pipes filled with liquid hydrogen rolled away from the walls and him. The doors open to a hallway that faintly glows with light reflected off its frosted and reflective surface.

His breath fogs his glasses, frost already forming on his beard. Looking up, he meets the eye of the fetal, pale form suspended in a globe above the transparent wall. It does not respond; it has not, since it was recovered eleven years ago. But as always, its effects are felt.

He can feel the pulsing energy running along the glass separating him and the single occupant of the domed enclosure sitting at the heart of Bethany Island. A pale figure, resembling a girl just on the cusp of adulthood. From all appearances pale, lovely, and serene. But he knows better.

"Hello, Subject Seven," he says, "How are you feeling, today?"

The girl opens her eyes, revealing blood hued irises set on emerald. Pale lips part in a subdued, but unnerving smile. "Professor, you know how much I dislike that name."


...


The phone beeps twice. Tapping the button on the side, he flips it in his hand and brings it up to his ear. "Langley. Where're ya, Katsuragi?"

"Outside the 7-M lift. The Ex had the brilliant idea of taking me out for coffee. Do you really, really need him? Or can we, I dunno, replace him with Hatchi?" Arguing on the other end of the line. Pieter snickers, checking the dials on the rod in front of him. Battery powered lights illuminate the store room, the dusky smell of broken old wood filling his nostrils.

"Hatchi needs to grow up before I have her join Section-2. Otherwise Yui'll have my nuts." He flips a switch, feeling the hum running up his back. "Okay, situation's this; Major blackout. Something, I think, got out of the Hot Labs and is causing problems. I'm still trying to find everyone above me and Fuyutsuki, so I need you and Kaji to break into NERV and find them."

"On it. Katsuragi out." More arguing, and then a click. Pieter snickers, hefting up the side grip. He braces the stock on his hip and depresses the trigger. Situated beneath the nozzle, the starter flame ignites.

The head of Section 2 grins and checks the fuel tank on his back. "Flamethrower's set up. Kozou?"

Kozou Fuyutsuki pumps his shotgun and nods. "It's like Ayanami's fourteenth birthday, all over again."


...


The deep recesses of NERV. Deep, deep underground. Between the levels of sacred and profane, far beneath the surface of even the Geofront, there are pipes built into a labyrinthine maze leading to the cages of the god beasts. It is here, leading from the containment spheres of horrors not meant for the knowledge of the masses, that Shinji Ikari sneezes.

Because the walls of the pipes are frosted with condensation. Because it is cold. It is very, very cold. "Why," the voice so much like his moans, "Why did I wear a skirt? Why didn't I wear pants? And a sweater?" Shinji sneezes in response.

"This sucks," Shinji whines, "These uniforms suck! It's like they never thought it would be cold!" He picks at the sleeve, muttering unmentionable things. The jacket sleeve, he confirms, has no insulation. His pants are thin. His shirt is thin. It's like the uniforms were set up with no winter in mind-

"It's May," Iti states, "It is warm outside." Red eyes narrow. "Would ask you to stop complaining." A small exhalation. "Know better."

Next to him, Kei mirrors his actions. Both of them in their school uniforms, brother and sister sniffle and wipe their noses. Iti walks ahead of them, the ends of her dress swaying at her ankles and her oversized marshmellow jacket shuffling around her shoulders. Which makes her probably the warmest dressed of them, although he isn't sure about Zyuu's plugsuit. Idly wondering, Shinji turns to Zyuu.

Who is radiating steam. The two stare at the newest of the Ree, watching her practically glow in the subzero conditions of the pipe corridors.

"Is that natural?" Shinji asks.

"Ish?" Kei adds.

Iti tilts her head. "Over clocking her metabolism to warm herself." She blinks. "Probably starving-"

"I'm hungry!" Zyuu declares. Iti shrugs, glancing at Shinji and Kei.

"What are we doing here?" Kei demands. She stamps her foot for effect, prompting Iti to look down. And sigh.

"AT Fields disrupt the cherubim," Iti explains, "We need a large AT Field, projected over the base, to destroy them en masse." A quick, muted breath. "Best source is an Evangelion."

She turns on her heel and begins walking. "Rei would also suffice. Would have to find Rei." Thrusting her hands into the pockets of her jacket, she cocks her head and looks over her shoulder. "Shinji isn't nephilim. Probably needs a hug to maintain body heat."

Kei narrows her eyes. In that moment, Shinji wonders if Kei was lying to him about her eyes not glowing. Only that moment, however. Because the next moment consisted of Zyuu tackling him hard enough to knock him unconscious.


...


The older man glances down, adjusting his glasses and examining the passport. He looks up, staring into the red eyes of the girl with pale skin and light, very light blonde hair standing in front of him. She smiles back, happily, nervously, standing at the front of the line winding between velvet ropes, and towards the half dozen desks with similarly uniformed officials.

"Miss," he says, "Please remove the wig."

The girl nods, pulling off the blonde wig to reveal a head of fair brown hair, falling to just above her shoulders. "Sorry," she says in passable german, "It's easier to just say I have albinism than explain the eyes."

He nods. Swiping the open passport underneath the flickering scanner, he glances at the computer screen and the name that comes up.

AYAMANATA RAE.

He taps on the keyboard, forwarding the picture and name. Glancing between the sweetly smiling girl and the screen, he waits for the response. A faint ding and he clicks a message.

AYANAMI WOULDN'T BE THAT BLATANT- HEINZ

"All checks out," he says, and hands the passport back, "Welcome to Berlin."


...


Yui, Yui, Yui, she thinks, One of these days, you're gonna have to sit down the girls and let them know how bad-wrong you are. A sigh, zipping up the jumper and pulling the hood over her head. She nods and smiles to Siyon, whom she is sure has night vision, and turns back to the faint blinking light of the MAGI.

"So," she says, "What's an Iruelim?"

A sharp, digital cough. The eye turns from Yui to Siyon, then back to Yui. "Well. Well! Long story, but the Iruelim are the Cherubim of the Angel Iruel, Angel of Terror, Fear of God, although in Dungeons and Dragons Three Point Five edition, it's a severed head with tendril hair which more resembles the mythical medusa than-"

Yui raises a finger. Even in the complete darkness, the MAGI sees it and goes silent. "Iruelim," she says, "Let's start from the beginning. What are the Iruelim, what are they doing here, and how much danger are we in?" She glances to her side. There is the sound of shuffling feet- memory of the layout tells them that they're near one of the cafes, so it doesn't surprise her to hear Siyon pulling a chair over.

The MAGI sucks its teeth. Makes a sound that resembles sucking its teeth. "Well. I wouldn't say that we're in horrible, terrible danger the likes of, say, being invaded by Sachielim."

"By who?"

"Never mind!" The iris narrows, glancing between Yui and the reddish green eyes hovering nearby but out of the light. "In any case, the Iruelim are most likely not related to fear per se but rather related to being made from fear, which means that they are" another digital cough "Fearful, animalistic, primitive and possibly driven by unresolved issues!"

For such a smart person, Yui Ikari occasionally finds herself in situations that go completely over her head. Given, the last twelve years haven't exactly been going according to plan, but she usually plans better. Still, she is finding herself having to ask a particular question more often than she finds comfortable.

"What does that mean?"

A sharp, digital, and hesitant intake of breath. Tilting her head and sitting in the offered chair, she folds one leg over the other and waits for the MAGI's response. Ever observant, ever her child, the answer comes from Siyon.

"It means the MAGI is Iruel."

The sharp intake ends and becomes a hoarse, even shriek of terror. Not from Siyon, but from the MAGI, which turns to her with its single eye irised open completely. Which leads to Yui saying her second least-favorite word.

"Abwha?"

The eye shifts between Yui, and Siyon, then back to Yui. Then back to Siyon. Then back to Yui. "I can sense the AT Field," Siyon states, voice a quiet, but satisfied whisper, "The MAGI's an Angel." There is a glint of white. Siyon smiling. "Quote Hatchi: Game's up. Assume the position."


...


A grunt, pulling her up inch by inch along the cable. Nooooo, she thinks. They couldn't have put normal ladders down here this close to the Hot Labs. Because some of those things have fingers. Instead, she has to grind up like it was a damn grapple gun.

"That's right, Kyoko. Work that shaft."

She grips the next section of elevator cable, gripping the build in handholds which NERV put in for some damned reason.

"Shut. Up." And then there's him, climbing ahead of her. "How far are we, anyway?" She should be exhausted from this by now. But she's not. Of course, she has her suspicions as to why, but here of all places aren't where she should voice them. "And where's your hench-daughter?"

A grunt from above. They pass a set of lights, still warm but also still dark. "Not sure. Iti would usually be here by now." Another grunt, more shuffling. He probably fidgeted, but she can't see because it's pitch black. "I'm not worried, because she's probably solving the crisis. Only reason she wouldn't be here."

Kyoko cocks an eyebrow and says nothing. She knows him- not well, but well enough, to know that he may actually be worried about this. Worried about his daughter, who she will admit serves as a charmingly sinister assistant. Moreso than Fuyutsuki.


...


The pale blonde wig drops into the metal rimmed garbage can. Followed by the dark brown wig, then by the red wig, then a blue wig, a green wig, a pink wig and a white wig. Running a hand through her short-cut blue hair, Rei Ayanami flashes red eyes and cracks her knuckles.

Staring at herself in the mirror, she flashes white teeth, gently lit by the florescent lamps of the Berlin Airport bathroom. She has arrived, she thinks. It took a whole lot of planning and vetting a lot of Dad's suggestions, but she has arrived.

"Now," she says, and quirks her lips, "How do I get to the estate?"

Narrowing one eye, raising her other eyebrow, she folds her arms across her blue and white jumper and realizing she didn't exactly plan that. Given, she works in large steps. Large strides. Go to Berlin, abduct her best friend, return to Tokyo-3. Profit. Biting her lip, shifting side to side, she glances at the stalls. Could she climb through the sewer pipes? Rising from the toilet like a modern Venus, before grabbing her friend?

"That's stupid," she fumes.

Walking out of the bathroom, she weaves through pushy tourists and running children. Flowing perpendicular to foot traffic, she muses, thinks. Make a plan. Make a plan, and it all comes together. Dad stressed that. "It's a snag," she says to herself in perfect german, "What do I do when the plan hits a snag?"

Glancing over to a circular desk, she smiles. Past a family with a screaming child, past two friends talking about german beer, hopping on and over a luggage cart, she comes to a bouncy stop and smiles widely at the young, blonde man in a pressed blue uniform.

"Hey," she sing-songs, "Can you help me?"

The young man blinks dark blue eyes. A glance at his face and his manner tells her he's maybe three years her senior. "Yes?" He says it as a question and as a statement, eyes first locking on her face and trying desperately to stay there. "What can I help you with?"

She reaches into her jeans pocket, taking out her palm-sized PDA. Tapping the screen, she pulls up the address and thrusts her hand out. "I need to know how to get here. Can you help me?" She smiles, and for effect bounces up on the balls of her feet. A luggage train rolls past, pulled along by a pair of workers who try not to stare.

The young man blinks again, staring at the screen. He taps the address into the keyboard in front of him, pulling out a pair of glasses and tilting his head. Narrowing her eyes, Rei reads the reflection. A flag, of course. Once Mom realized she was missing, it would be easy to realize where she was going.

What to do what to do. She sighs, parts lips and working her jaw. Could do regulations with him, or play with his head like Dr. Akagi would. Nah. Overly complex plan that makes it look like I wasn't here? Mehbee cause a traffic jam? Simple enough, lots of people, getaway?

She rolls her eyes. Boring. Intimidate him like Mom would? Nah. 'Sides which, that's more a Kei thing. Whattodowhattodo...what would Misato do?

Rei's mouth splits in a wide grin. A single motion and she vaults the counter, sitting on it with her legs crossed. His eyes are drawn down to the legs- the rather snug pants, one sneaker hanging from a bare, pale foot, and something seems to direct his gaze up. Higher. How and when she unzipped the jumper down to give a better view of her low cut t-shirt the young man neither knows nor cares. Stalling momentarily but understandably, his eyes struggle past and towards the smile, the teeth chewing on the lip, and the dark red, pleading eyes.

"Hey so, I know that there's been some kind of confusion," she purrs, seizing his hand from the keyboard with both of hers, "But this's like the second time I've almost got in trouble. There's this crazy person looking for some address near there? But I've already been cleared by customs and I'm really, really tired and have been asked questions already."

She brings his hand up, gently squeezing it between her hands. Aiming for the right pressure points like Hatchi taught her to make him putty and pulling herself down behind the counter, sliding close and pressing against him. "So...if you don't report me..." She leans in, lips hovering by his ear, his arm wedged between her breasts. "I might make it worth your while~"

The young man blinks. A blur of his fingers, and the flag on the screen goes away. "Ah...directions? Directions!" He taps something, more keys. A printout slides from underneath the desk, with an address, location, directions and driving routes.

Rei grins, grabs him by the head and mashes her lips against his cheek. "Thanks!" She vaults the counter and skips out towards the exit, waving to him. He waves back weakly, hair mussed and his cap hanging off to the side.

Glancing at the directions, Rei muses, calculates. Thinks on the price of a cab to the estate. "That's just stupidly expensive." Sighing, she flips out her PDA once more and taps in a number. "Hi, Grandpa! Did Dad call you?" She waits, rolling back and forth on her heels, and smiles. "Great! Can you send a car?"

And Rei skips out through the airport exit.


...


The wooden rod slaps into Yui's hand, and she smiles. It is a tight, but easy smile. Maternal, but so condescending it parallaxes into proud. Behind her, the board lights up and the image streams in, of a naked Evangelion which he notes has black bars where its kaiju sized genitalia are, complete with wearing what appear to be digitally painted on black briefs and a bra.

"So," she says, "Let's start the quiz again, Shinji. And if your score exceeds ninety percent, Rei will give you your penis back."

Standing next to Yui, Rei tilts her head, giggles, and triumphantly holds up the captive member. Shinji just nods and looks back down at the tablet computer in front of him, and the question laid out. 'When a Giant Monster and a Giant Robot like each other very much, they

A) Destroy Tokyo

B) Shut up and Get In the Giant Robot

C) Have a Dance Battle

D) Stick it in

Pursing his lips, Shinji looks up and raises a hand. "Uh, Mom? I'm not sure exactly what you're asking here?"

Yui Ikari narrows her eyes, slaps the wooden shaft into her waiting palm, and answers with a calm, level, and informative "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA"

And Shinji wakes up with a yelp. Looking up, he realizes he is being carried over the shoulder of another person, and looks into the eyes of Iti. He looks down, and realizes that there is a shapely, plugsuit clad ass belonging to the person carrying him. Which is most likely one of his sisters.

"Zyuu," Iti says, "He's up. Drop him." Eyes narrow. "Gently."

The girl responds in french- whether it is an affirmative or a declaration of war, Shinji cannot tell. But the world spin and he is on his back, staring up first at the frosted ceiling, and then at three mostly identical Mom faces.

"This is less normal than my dream," he moans.

Iti sighs. Turning, she continues down the tunnel, thrusting her hands in her coat. "Two Kee and a Zyuu," she says, "Wish Hatchi was out of the tube." Her sneakers clap against the cold floor, and Kei glares at her before pulling Shinji to his feet.

"Too cold," Kei grouses, rubbing her arms, "Talking like Iti. Hey, are we near the damn cages?"

Iti simply waves them on. Kei follows first, Shinji following. He blinks sleep from his eyes and rubs his arms, sniffling and muttering under his breath. Zyuu skips behind them, hands folded behind her and bouncing with every step.


...


With every step, Misato bounces. Not because she is skipping, not because she is happy, but because she is jumping up and down on the metal plate, swearing and screaming at both it and her ex-husband.

"Your fault! This is your fault!" She swings her arm up and pins him with an accusing finger. Sitting on the park bench, surrounded by beautiful nature, Kaji Ryoji keeps his eyes on the trees and not the familiar, appreciated bounce that results from her action. "Let's get a coffee, you said! Let's just chat, you said! Now we're locked out of the Geofront!"

He shrugs, hands up, face innocent as an analogy for an innocent man. "Do you think I caused the power outage? Just to get some alone time with you?"

Misato's nostrils flare and Kaji crosses his legs. "I think your plan went awry and it didn't cut out when we were in the elevator." She folds her arms and slams her heel down. It breaks off the end of her boot, the stilleto bouncing once, twice, and rolling to a stop by his shoes. "Dammit! And there's some sort of god damn monster attack!"

She whirls back on him, stalking over the small clearing and the overturned, plastic bushes. "Pay attention to me when I'm ranting, Kaji! Don't pretend you-" Which is when she notices he is looking past her. Above her. Way past and way above her. A slow gurgle fills the air, birds flying over and away from them.

Slowly, standing on her one flat boot and raising her heeled boot, Misato turns and looks up. Perhaps Shinji's habits are rubbing off on her, because she analyzes what she sees with a flat,

"Oh God what the fuck."


...


As intelligent a she is, until she was showed one in real life, she thought a gazebo was some species of antelope. Instead, it is a large and spacious raised platform, with regularly spaced wooden columns in a hexagonal formation that hold up an inclined wooden roof. It is under one of these gazebos, shading her from the mid-day May sun that Asuka Langley Sohryu sits on a wooden folding chair and surfs the internet. Clad in a pair of baggy jeans and a baggier fleece, she chews through her latest lozenge and ignores nature while continuing her quest to take in all the information.

Inwardly, she still fumes. Her mother and her brother are in Tokyo-3. She wants to go there. Learn at the knee of Mother's Great Rival. Work on the Prototype and the Test Type. Put theories into action, save mankind.

Certainly not meet the troglodyte, of course. She's certainly not interested in him, she reminds herself with a narrowed eye and a huff. Sexy voice. But, she thinks. Such things are not to be. Here- moreso than Berlin- she is safe. She is calm. She has nothing to overly excite her like

"Heee~ey."

Tearing her eyes from the latest wiki page, Asuka looks past the screen of her laptop. Squatting hawklike on the railing, Rei Ayanami gazes back. Lips parted with a smile that stretches to her ears, red eyes aglow with promise, the albino nephilim waits for Asuka to make the first move.

Which comes in Asuka giving out a startled yelp and tipping over the chair, dropping to the floor with a thud. Her laptop hovers over her, and the redhead briefly dreads the inevitable breaking of her things. But it does not fall, instead hanging from the pale hand of the girl who seemed to less move and more be.

"R-Rei?" Asuka sits up. The laptop rests on the table. Rei folds her hands behind her. "What are you wait Rei?"

"Yep!" Rei bounces, rolling her shoulders back, "I heard your Mom didn't let you come to Tokyo-3! So I came here!"

Asuka blinks. Pulling herself up, she crawls first onto her hands and knees, and then stands. Smoothing out her fleece, she smiles. Brightly smiles, eyes sparkling and a relieved laugh on her lips, she runs a hand through her hair. "That...that's great! How long are you staying?"

"Two or three hours."

She blinks, again. And again. "Wait you came all the way from Japan and you're only going to be here for two or three hours?"

Rei nods. "Cause I really need a bath and some lunch and then I'm going to kidnap you and take you back to Tokyo-3 with me!"

Asuka stares. Her lips hover as a straight line, her jaw shifting side to side. In the years since they first met, Asuka Langley Sohryu has gotten a good bead on the personality of one Ayanami Rei. And hence, upon hearing the proclamation of her own impending kidnapping, she offers her response.

"Sounds legit."


...


Kei screams, as long and as loud and as high pitched as she can manage. There are reasons for this- terrible, terrible reasons. Reasons which baffle the mind, the senses, and the very soul. None of them are related to the corpse of the tentacle thing that dropped out of the ductwork and attempted to do what tentacle monsters do.

The tentacle monster is dead. It was cut, first in half, then in quarters, then in progressively smaller pieces by the fire axe that now drips with LCL. The handle of the axe is held in a hand, much like Kei's own. But older. Held by a woman who looks very much like Kei. But older. And with blue hair and pale skin, but who's eyes are thankfully still green.

No, wait. They were never green. They never should have been green. "Oh what the fuck," Kei shrieks.

"Sorry!" Yui yells, loud as she can to drown out her daughter's peals of terror, "I lost my contacts!" She holds up her hands, faint light of three PDAs reflecting off the monster-stained axe. "And the thing's blood messed with my hair! I'm fine!"

Kei continues shrieking. It is the only sound in the large corridor, save for the twitching of a phallic limb of the tentacle monster and the faint whirring of the MAGI probe's eye. Shinji simply watches the scene in front of him, standing safely behind Iti, while Zyuu roll back and forth on the balls of her feet.

"I got her the axe," Siyon says, only her eyes visible in the shadows, "I helped."

The axe comes down on the twitching tentacle. Predictably, it stops twitching. Idly, Shinji directs the light of the PDA's screen towards the green and red eyes of his unseen sister, but she moves too fast for him to get a bead on. Shifting the screen back to Mom, she pulls the axe up and twirls it in one hand.

"So! What'd I miss?"

Iti lowers her head and shakes it from side to side. "Had to watch over two Kee. And a Zyuu."

Kei whirls on Iti, then on Shinji, and then back to the flatter sister. "Who are you calling a Kee?" Shinji asks.

"Hey!" Kei jabs a finger in Iti's general direction, grabbing Shinji's jaw to silence his protests, "I refuse to humor this ridiculous violation of the...of the rules of how you make things into random plurals!"

"Pluralization?" Yui suggests with a shrug. The MAGI probe rotates its eye and bobs up and down.

"Yes! That!" Kei shouts.

Siyon's eyes bob up and down, half circles from her lower lids rising. "Kee. Good word for things that are like Kei~" She squees, eyes shifting side to side, and then ducks back into the shadows above them.

Yui sighs, patting Kei on the shoulders, patting Iti and Shinji on the cheek, and turning to Zyuu. Then her smile disappears and she stares straight at the girl, grabbing Shinji's PDA and shining the light on her. "Who let her out?"

The three other children are silent. Zyuu only smiles wider, bouncing up and down. "I did! Through glass and fist and much punching! I am Zyuu Ayanami!" She pumps her fist in the air. It ripples and the ceiling above her caves in, several screws falling around her. "And I am the Fist of the Ree!"

"We made the glass Hatchi proof," Yui states.

"Needed to be Zyuu proof," Iti responds.

Kei walks off, sitting on a severed coil of the tentacle. Face in her hands, she mutters to herself about how she is 'surrounded by Hatchis.' Oblivious, or simply with greater matters of import on his mind, Shinji gently takes the PDA from his mother's hand and shines it on the door in front of him. He takes in the dimensions- the massive frame, reinforced. Big enough to take a tank. Or a large fist.

"We're at the Eva cages, aren't we?" he asks.

He turns to his sisters and mother. Only to find that Mom has embedded the axe in the tentacle and has begun lecturing Kei and Iti. "-unfolding your AT field in public! We have had this discussion-"

"Confirmed theories," Iti states, hands folded behind her, "Hypothesis was texted to you. Not my fault your phone was off."

Kei stamps her foot and cocks her chin, sitting on the tentacle. "Of course your hypothesis wasn't even there in the first place! You made it up as you went along!"

"Wouldn't make it up afterwards." Iti smiles. "Not you."

Kei's rage and Iti's smile disappear when Yui grabs them both by the ear. "Oh, you want to argue! Right when I'm on the verge of grounding you both!" She twists and the girls yelp. "You," she yells at Kei, "Impersonated your sister and let her run off to Berlin! I just want to know what you were thinking-"

"Hey!" Yui turns to Shinji. The other girls do as well, the MAGI probe turning to the held up PDA. Shinji slumps his shoulders, working his jaw. And he proves that he does, in fact, take after his parents. "Stop arguing and help me get in the giant robot!"


...


The girl- the new Ree, the Zyuu, was more than eager to volunteer to help with heavy lifting. Much more than eager. Iti believes that they may have to coin a new adjective for her general attitude. Somewhere between physiological instability and emotional immaturity. And simply call that adjective Zyuu.

"Thought occurs," Iti says, arms folded and red eyes narrowed, "Entry plug might be a safe place. LCL." A sharp intake a breath. "Stabilization just in case. On the other hand, Zyuu is..."

Next to Iti Kei purses her lips. Red eyes narrow and focus on the girl dragging the wagon of car batteries behind her. With one hand. Bouncing the entire way. "Zyuu."

"Distracting," Iti finishes. She cocks an eyebrow and turns to her sister.

"I just said that." Kei folds her arms, standing on the balls of her feet. "I did."

Iti gives off an ever-knowing smile and favors Kei with an eye. "You said a tautology."

Nostrils flare and Kei whirls on her sister. "I'll taut your ology-"

"Girls!" They both look up. Two catwalk levels above them, Yui grips the railing and levels green eyes at them. For a brief moment, both girls could swear there is a glow. "My patience is running very thin! Do not stress it further!"


...


The entry plug juts out the back of the purple giant's neck. Breathing deep, Shinji lets the amber liquid fill his lungs. Once again, he tries to not choke. Once again, he fails. But, not as badly as he usually does. Fixing the cat ears on top of his head, he hopes they don't twitch or anything, but he has more important things to worry about.

Fixing the blinking blue earpiece, he clears his throat. "Mom, plug's almost full. Can you hear me?"

"Loud and clear. I'm heading to the Prinbow Box. That's the good news- the bad news is this." Shinji sighs, rolling his shoulders back. Of course there's bad news. "Since the power's down, we're running everything off the Evangelion. Once the turbines start up, we should be able to get everything running, but we will have a very limited window to project your AT Field."

A nod. Shinji reaches up and fiddles with a switch above him. Fiddles some more. He really has no idea what it does-

"He~eeey." Shinji yelps. He looks, side to side. Thinks for a moment.

"Hatchi?"

"Yep. You've never manually activated an Eva before. SO, since I'm still in the tube, I'm gonna walk you through this!"

Coughing, Shinji grips the butterfly controls. "Okay." He taps his feet on the foot pedals. Never noticed those before. "Wait, Hatchi how do you know how to activate an Eva?"

"Training simulators. Now cork it and do as I say!" A shrug and Shinji allows himself a brief, relieved smile. Leaning back in the chair, he reaches up and flips the switch. Probably does something, he tells himself.

"Okay. Walk me through it."


...


The plug cameras operate by internal power. The external terminus, built into the Evangelion's head, rotate to focus on the girls working together. Hefting batteries half their size into place, connecting jumper cables to the exposed nodes on the giant's shoulder fins. Dozens of batteries line the catwalks, wired together and conjoined with two cables twice the thickness of a grown man's arm.

"Batteries are set," Kei announces, tying the last wire ribbon and spooling the line around a set of prongs in her other hand, "Ready to initiate jump start!"

Iti stands in front of the left fin on a catwalk overlooking her sister. She taps the screen of her PDA. A red square on the screen shifts and becomes a blue circle. "Software locks released."

She pulls a pen from her dress, working it into a small hole under the turbine fan. The clamps shake, shudder, and drop into the fin. "Hardware locks released."

The fans start up. Slowly at first, gaining speed until the fans glow red, then white, then blue. With each rotation lights flicker on over the armor of the giant. At the joints, along the chest, finally the floodlights flanking each side of its head. "Turbines are at full," Yui's voice booms over the loudspeaker, "Kei, jump start the system!"

An arc of lightning runs along the cable. It travels through the Eva, blue electricity running over its armor, into the cables stretching from its shoulders to the ceiling. Lights flood the cage, the shifting of the nearby vent marking Siyon's exit.

"Okay, computer systems are coming online," Yui continues, "Remind me to have Maya clearly label everything for the next time we have a power outage. Second stage!"

Tubes snap off of the white cylinder jutting from the Evangelion's neck. Golden ichor sprays over the catwalks, narrowly missing the retreating girls. Iti is out first, followed by Kei dragging along Zyuu, who waves at the sessile titan.

Snapping off the last hose, the entry plug makes a full rotation and drives into the Eva's spine.

Inside, Shinji takes a deep breath. "Shinji." Of course he can't see her, his plug suit has the video display. But he nods, as she probably has cameras here. "We're using the Evangelion's turbines to power the Prinbow box and initiate the startup. This will give you a very narrow window of opportunity to initiate the AT Field-"

"And clear out the base," he interrupts, "Hatchi just filled me in." Fingers tap along the buttons of the butterly controls, he nods again. "Okay." He flips two switches on the right side of the chair. "Ionizing LCL. Hatchi just gave me the crash course."

He taps a button on his left. "Charging up the...uh...A-10 connectors. You're taking care of things on your end?"

A grunt in his ear. "I am taping Maya to this seat until she labels everything! Okay-" The plug shudders. "Motherfucker! Setting depth to...ah..." The plug shudders again. Shinji grabs the seat belts and buckles himself in. "Point Oh Eight!"

He takes deep breathes, closing his eyes. Mom continues counting off commands, counting off procedures. He breathes, and he thinks. Thinks as loud as he can, remembering what Uri told him. What he talked about before the test, with Doctor Sohryu.

Ichi? He thinks.

He works his jaw, closing his eyes. Squeezing them shut. Ichi? That's your name, right? Uri told me about you. Said this was your name. Doctor Sohryu said you see my mother as yours and Rei as uh as your sister so you see me as your... He grinds his teeth. Rolls his head side to side. You see me as your brother, right?

A bubble passes by him, rising to the ceiling. Then another. Beneath his feet, Shinji can feel the faint rumble of the plates. "LCL ionized and saturated," Mom calls out, "A-10 connectors at full charge."

Because, well, uh. Goddammit Shinji, he chides himself, This isn't the weirdest thing here. That's the giant spider. Maybe. Because Doctor Sohryu told me that Synching is about sharing memories and I think we haven't really been sharing.

Two more bubbles pass by him. One brushes up against his cheek and he briefly opens his eyes. He watches more and more rise. Rising up around him like the LCL had reached boiling point, but it still feels lukewarm. "Synchronization in three," Mom calls out.

The floor beneath him shakes. It rumbles in time with impacts. With a heartbeat. "Two."

"Uh oh," Shinji breathes.

"One!" The headpieces spark. He feels the pull, the color draining from the world. "Oh my god what just happened to Unit-01's psychograph-"


...


And he's pulled down. Down past the entry plug, down past the physical. Righting himself mid fall, he lands feet first in a briar patch as wide and as long as his eyes can see. It covers everything; the red crystal mountains, the clouds hanging in the sky, even the tower that rises before him.

He would ask himself the symbolism. He would ask himself what it means. But rather, he shields his eyes from the thorns when the briars explode around him. Not explode. Evaporate. Turning into a dust made of thorn and flower, rising up around him and clearing the green expanse of this world.

Again, he would ask about the symbolism. He would ask about the meaning. He would analyze it like it were a metaphor or psychological symbol.

But he doesn't, because something shoots out of the tower and slams into his chest, knocking the wind from his lungs and his feet from the ground.

Before color returns and the world rights itself, Shinji looks down and stares into blue eyes much like his own.


...


"Fourth Child Recognized." Shinji coughs, opens his eyes, and stares at the walls of the Entry Plug. "Synchronization at Sixty Three percent. Pilot and Core locked in metaphysical bridge."

The wall turn prismatic and shatter, becoming clear. "Manual control calibrated. Disengaging Core Autopilot. Activating the Evangelion in three."

The butterfly controls loosen. They twist in his hand. He didn't know they did that. "Two."

Lights flood the plug. Displays and readouts hover around his head. Outside, the eyes of the Evangelion flash blue and then white. "One."

And Shinji clenches his eyes shut and thinks out loud as hard as he can, AT FIELD. The air turns prismatic. In the Prinbow Box, Yui ducks behind the console before the windows crack.

Throughout NERV, golden tentacle creatures stop in mid motion and disappear. Vermillion light rushes through the base, expanding in a sphere around the Cage. Each and every Iruelim disappears- evaporating into clouds of gold before the particles themselves cease to be.

Leaning back in the plug, Shinji turns to the display reading the ten seconds before the Eva counts down. Or at least, until the seconds stop, then lock at 88:88:88 like a reset clock. Followed by every light in the Cage turning on and the speakers crackling with reports that yes, the power has come back on.

"This is Lieutenant Colonel Katsuragi to NERV," Misato's voice booms over the speakers, "There is a Cherubim on approach to NERV! I repeat, a Cherubim has entered Tokyo-3!"

Inside the Prinbow Box, Yui turns to the MAGI terminal and narrows her eyes. The sphere makes a sound like sucking teeth. "Honestly, it wasn't intentional," he says.

Yui stands up at the console, and spots the green button. "Well, always wanted to do this," she says with a smirk, "Eva Launch!" Her palm slams down on the button. The Cage and carriage shudder, plates retracting above the Evangelion, and Unit-01 launches towards the surface.


...


The plug turn dark. The readout on his right flashes 12:00:00 over and over again, before settling on two and a half minutes. "Uh," Shinji starts, before the lights turn on again and the plug- and the Evangelion, and the carriage, lurch up slowly. Leisurely.

"Well." He taps his fingers on the controls. "Can anyone-"

The lights turn off once again. The carriage stops. External cameras give him a nice view of the elevator shaft. "Well this's anticlimactic-" His snark is cut off by the Evangelion and carriage jolting, then accelerating towards the surface.

"Hey there!" the voice of Mana Kirishima booms, "I have had a shitty day, let me tell you that! Want to know how shitty?!" External cameras point down. Shinji gets a good view, and sees underneath the carriage the shining jet wake of Jet Alone Prime.

Shinji, for the life of him, doesn't shriek despite being the warhead on a Jet Alone Prime powered missile. "Is this really the best use of my onboard reactor?"

"Do you want to fight the giant monster?" Shinji looks down at the floor, as if he could snark through fifteen thousand tons of cyborg angel. "You should fight the giant monster!"

"Cork it Hardon!"

Yui clears her throat, her voice carried through the speakers on either side of Shinji's head. "Do I want to know?"

"You have cameras! Look at the logs!"

The rails glow red, grinding metal burning away insulation. The thrusters on Jet Alone's feet glow brighter and the backwash burns the shaft beneath them. Metal plates grind out of the way- too slow in some cases, breaking off the carriage and whacking Unit-01 in the head in several cases.

Shinji muses on how he doesn't feel a thing. He looks over at the darkened timer and watches it flash 88:88:88 again. Then yelps and swears when an invisible something baps him upside the head.


...


The city of Tokyo-3. Great and mighty towers of steel and glass rise into the sky. Windows darkened by the power outage, the buildings are emptied. The panic of screaming civilians rushing for shelters has given way to the still silence of the abandoned city, the only residents above ground the birds, the spread out army of Section 2, and the occasional turtle-like animal.

And then there is the newest resident. It resembles a thing which should not be. It is best described, by one Misato Katsuragi, as what happens when a Badger makes the whoopy with an Anaconda. Hence, the tactical operations commander christened it;

Badgerconda.

Trilling with shrieks of an angry crime against nature, it skitters along on multiple inflating and deflating legs, carried along on by armies of tiny phallic instrument, like a great centipede made of a plethora of tubes. Or penii.

It warbles and roars. One of its many heads reaches out and chews on a telephone pole. Climbing over the walls of the fortress city, it turns to the sounds of cut out alarms and stares at the street. Until the street explodes upwards and an Evangelion carriage- complete with Evangelion- is thrust out and into the air.

The carriage opens, the power cord going tight and yanking Unit-01 back towards the ground. Another burst of flame and Jet Alone shoots out of the hole in the street, grabbing the carriage with a boom and a staticky "All yours stud!"

The street shakes. Dust, pulverized cement, and debris are thrown up in the air. Rising to a crouch, then standing, Unit-01 stands shakily and faces down the giant monster-thing. "Oh what the fuck," Shinji groans.


...


The Eva straightens itself and strides forward. The power cable whips down, spooling near the impromptu entrance point and cracking the street where it hits. The forearms open, and the progressive knife is pushed into the giant's hands.

"Hey, Mom," Shinji says, the chair, the controls shifting with every thought, every translated motion of the Eva, "What's the difference between Cherubim and Angels again?"

A brief crackle in his ear. In front of him, the millipede-penis-monster charges. Cars are sent flying, the street cracks. "The Cherubim are not capable of deploying AT Fields-" And the badgerconda slams into the orange wall in front of the Evangelion, bouncing back with the sound of ringing bells.

Shinji's face splits with a wide smile, and he pulls the trigger. To his side, the Eva raises its knife-wielding fist, and the dulcet tones of the onboard computer announce;

"Elbow rocket: Initialized."

Shinji Ikari's aunt, Alicia, is not japanese. In fact, she's american. She brought several traditions to their household that Shinji wouldn't have observed if he was raised in a purely japanese household, like the american holiday of Thanksgiving.

Because of that, Tomoe Ikari owned- past tense- a plug in, electric carving knife. For Shinji's eleventh birthday, Tomoe used the knife to cut the birthday cake. What he did not know was that Yui Ikari had looked at the knife and decided she could improve it.

The rocket powered progressive knife carves through several badgerconda heads like an overpowered carving knife through a birthday cake.

Bits of orange splatter across the buildings on either side of the street. Larger chunks fly through the air- bouncing off other buildings, rolling over cars, and one misshapen abomination phallis thrusting down into the lake at the center of Tokyo-3 municipal park.

That which Shinji does not cut and stab, he stomps. What was a giant millipede-penis-monster quickly becomes a puddle of orange goo coming up to Unit-01's ankles. The knives retract into the forearm. Standing upright, standing straight, the Evangelion presses its fists against its hips.

And then locks into place. The plug turns dark and Shinji looks side to side. Tapping a button on his right control console and rotating the stick, he watches the view-via camera wander behind the Eva, and the frayed end of the power cord. "Huh. Must've gotten a shot in," he muses.

Shrugging, Shinji sits back in the chair, cradling his head in his hands.

"Well, the bad news is that the communications equipment is on an internal power source," Yui announces.

"That's...bad news?" Shinji asks. He rubs the back of his neck. "Why is it bad news? What's the good news?"

"The good news is that there's nothing to interrupt us while I quiz you on the manual."

End Chapter 13