A NEON GENESIS EVANGELION fanfic. Rights belonging to GAINAX and AD Vision. Used without permission. HERZ by E.L.Toh Part III: The Games We Play Standing before the glass panel, Misato looked down at the massive white form in the holding bay of the experimental station. The Eva had the markings "Unit 05-E" on its right shoulder and the emblem of the United Nations on the other. On the right side of its chest was HERZ's symbol. 'What was nearly the instrument of our destruction, we now turn to in hope of salvation. A different game this time but nonetheless we are still a pawn...' Misato sighed and called up a communication screen. "Asuka, are you ready?" "Hai, hai.." was the unenthusiastic reply. Misato folded her arms in front of her chest. "Begin activation." "S2 engine is to be kept offline. Connect the main power supply to all other circuits," ordered Maya. Lieutenants Aida Kensuke and Mochida Kaori, as the principal operators, reported on each stage of the Eva activation and Asuka's synchronization. All went smoothly. "Unit 05-Echo has activated," reported Kensuke, the light of the displays reflecting off his spectacles. "Synchronization stablizing at 72%." "Commencing interlock test," came Asuka's voice. "I'll leave the rest in your hands, Ibuki-hakase." "Hai, shirei." With Misato's departure, the tests, simulated maneuvres and training exercises rumbled on. Besides involving extensive, highly technical and time-consuming work, part of the job also involved placating the pilot. "Aren't we done yet!?" whined Asuka. "Just another hour," replied Maya. "Another hour!? Why do *I* have to go through? This is dumb, especially considering I don't get to pilot one of these things in actual combat!" Maya smiled a patient and unflappable smile as she absently stroked the ponytail slung over her right shoulder. "Asuka, we need to keep your data up to date. Just in case you ever do need to pilot an Eva. And the exercises keep you familiar with Eva's operating parameters which is a good reminder for your own ops planning." "You all don't really need me to do this. After all, we have the mighty Shinji in the invincible Unit 01 and the A.I. Dummy Plugs for the Eva 05 series. Oh, we mustn't forget Wonder Girl. She doesn't contribute to anything and has an Eva all to herself so she can take it for walks after dinner! This is such a big fat waste of my time," grumbled Asuka. "Well, we have to prepare for all eventualities. That's our only guarantee of survival." "You sound just like Ritsuko!" moaned Asuka. Maya tilted her head to one side and after a moment's consideration, decided to take it as a compliment. "Oh Asuka, will you just keep it down for a while? We're trying to work here," said Kensuke who opened his own channel to Unit 05-E. "Lt Aida, was that any way to talk to your superior officer!?" demanded Asuka. "Heil Asuka. Or whatever form of address the fuhrer prefers," said Kensuke dismissively. "And besides you should be quite happy for the tests. It gives you a chance to run around in a huge robot and destroy lots of simulated targets. Isn't that your favourite activity after complaining and going totally S&M on Shinji?" Everyone in the control room was smiling and trying not to laugh out loud lest they incur the wrath of Cpt Ikari Asuka Langley. "Kensuke!!! You'll pay for that!!!" "What? You gonna whip me too?" "Alright, that's enough. Let's concentrate on the work at hand..." said Maya who was grinning broadly. "Oh no," said Kensuke, looking really worried. "What's wrong? All the readings are fine," said Kaori. "Look." Kensuke pointed to the videofeed's enlarged view of Asuka's face. Maya and Kaori leaned forward to take a closer look. Asuka's right eye and brow were definitely starting to twitch. "How much longer!? I've got to get out here! That ho is after my husband again!" *** (Underneath the Negev Desert, Israel. Two men in an elevator. The one on the right wore a business suit and dark glasses, he carried a black briefcase. The other is shorter, bespectacled and with a white lab coat over his military uniform. The latter spoke first.) "This is wonderful news! How did you get the data for the S2 engine and A.I. plug settings?" "HERZ security is not as tight as one might believe. It was only a matter of time before this fell into our hands." "Excellent. If this is the real stuff from HERZ itself, our chances of success are that much higher. I trust the United States government will allow us to retain all the data as well as the equipment for the development of our own Evangelions?" "You guys really know how to push it. Considering we provided most of the funding for this facility, we should be entitled to ship some of it back home. Congress wouldn't wear it if they ever got oversight over the black project funds." "Hmph. After that fiasco at Nevada and Guantanamo, your military couldn't risk another big explosion. You have been lucky that the UN and GEHIRN have not been able to uncover the truth so far. Besides you could still avoid Congressional scrutiny with that old trick of having hammers costing $500 a piece and toilet seats for $3,000 each." (They laugh.) "The UN are a bunch of amateurs. And we have been very co- operative with their investigators so far. So cooperative in fact that they'll be drowning in paper work for the next ten years on those two cases alone, much less having to handle the Russian and French incidents. The UN can't even handle a simple thing like this and they have the temerity to demand that we hand over some of our satelites." "I don't mean to be pedantic but the US did agree to that on paper, you know." "Oh, the Administration can always blame it on an obstructionist Congress like they always do." "Ah yes, we use that trick a lot with the Knesset." There was a chime as the lift reached its destination. After tranversing some corridors, they entered a control room much like the experimental station in HERZ. "The data, if you please." The US Intel man opened the briefcase. The scientist leafed through photocopied documents bearing the HERZ letterhead. Many were stamped 'TOP SECRET' and 'FOR YOUR EYES ONLY'. "Excellent... excellent..." breathed the scientist. As the operators checked and entered the data, the American looked into the testing bay. In it was a huge humanoid, very much like that of the Eva-05 series. 'Soon, we will not have to worry about what the UN or even SEELE thinks once we have this ultimate weapon at our command.' "Activate." "Connecting the main power supply and all circuits." "The main power supply connected. Starting the activation system." "Voltage increasing to the critical point: 0.5, 0.2, rising.." "Start the second phase of the activation system." "A.I. Dummy Plug has commenced the joining." "Start System Phase II." "Synapses inserted. Junction started." "Pulses transmitted." "All circuits are operational." "No problems with initial contact." "Power has been transmitted up to the brachial muscle in both arms. There are no problems with the nerve links." "Check. Up to 2550 on the list satisfied." "Prepare for the third stage connection." "Up to 2580 satisfied. Countdown to absolute borderline, 0.9, 0.7, 0.5, 0.4, 0.3, pulses are beginning to flow back!" "Problems encountered on the third stage. Autonomous activity is setting in on the nerve center elements!" "Stop the contacts. Break the circuits through to the 6th." "Negative. The signal is being denied! The A.I. Plug is acting on its own! " "We lost control of the Unit!" "Stop the experiment. Shut off the power supply." "We're getting abnormal readings from the S2 engine!" "Massive energy spike coming from the core!" "Core is collapsing!" "Evacuate at once!" "Too late! Estimate 12 seconds to..." *** "This just isn't as clear as I would like it and we couldn't get continuous survelliance of the event," said Ritsuko as she adjusted her glasses. She replayed the video image which was labelled 'ARIADNE-SPACE SURV 34 - NEGEV, ISRAEL'. A huge mushroom emerged from the dry sands and rock of the desert, oblierating everything in a 50km radius. Displays about the wavelength spectrum and other data on the event also popped up next to it. Tapping her chin, Ritsuko declared,"I'd say this event has more similarities to Unit-00's self-destruction at Tokyo-3 than to the American, Russian and French events. The latter were like the loss of the NERV's First Branch, swallowed up by a Sea of Dirac. The former was almost completely light and heat. Damned. We really do need those American KH-11 survelliance satelites. The European and Japanese space programs are too small even if they've been fairly cooperative with the United Nations." "Well, we have to work with what we have," said Prof Susan Makarov as she shrugged her shoulders. She was a tall, stout woman in her early 50s. Her blond hair was kept in a long braid. Her features were severe and well-defined - a product of her Russian and German heritage. "Well, if I could bring this up with Maya... With MAGI, we'd know for sure. But..." "But you know we can't do that. HERZ and GEHIRN are separated so as to prevent another conspiracy. Third Impact is tied to Eva tech. If HERZ can't control technological development, it's less likely it can be up to funny business. Only reason why Maya is there is because the Evas need to be maintained for active service. At least that's how the UN sees it. You're lucky that they allowed Maya to take care of you, even going so far as for you two to live together." "I think that had more to do with Misato's negotiating skills than luck," remarked Ritsuko dryly. "Maj-Gen Katsuragi always drives a hard bargain when it involves her friends. Anyhows, looks like I'll have to defer to you on this again. You know, Ritsuko, if it weren't for your past association with NERV, you'd be Director of GEHIRN instead of me. You're certainly the better qualified person." "Makarov-hakase, you're much too kind." "You know it's the truth." "Well, politics is also part of the reality we must live with," replied Ritsuko as she wheeled herself away from the wall display screen and back in front of the Director's table. "Honestly though, I think you'd rather leave the heavy burdens of high office to me so that you can get on with your work. The UN really expects us to work miracles with the little resources at our disposal. They've been in a real panic at the attempts by the member-states to build their own Evas without thought of the consequences." "Just like small children," Ritsuko snorted. "They have it, I must have it too. I want. I want... Speaking of resources, what's the story with the MIMIR Institute now?" "Quite simply, they have the money and manpower we need to do our job. The UN has finally agreed to give them access to our research and to allow our joint findings as a basis for patent rights." "Patent rights?" "You'd be surprised at the spin-offs they've been attempting after Ikari sold data and material to some of the mega-corps in NERV's day to fund his own little war chest. Nearly all the Angels present opportunities for advances in materials science. Industrial solvent from the Ninth Angel. Nanotechnology from the Eleventh Angel. Limitless energy from S2 principles. I even hear that they're perfecting a Generation Eight super-computer. You name it, they're trying it." "So that's why 108 corporate entities have pooled together as MIMIR to replace MARDUK and are banging on our doors?" "Specifically for the irreplaceable talent of Eva's Holy Trinity." Ritsuko groaned and covered her face at the mention of the term that referred to the three senior insiders of Project E - herself, Fuyutsuki Kouzo and of course, Ikari Gendou. "Speaking of the three wise sages, Kouzo called and left a message for you. It says 'He'll be coming next week but will be returning to Tokyo-2 before nightfall.' Going to great lengths so you won't bump into him by accident, neh? His once a year excursion to Tokyo-3." "It's his wife's death anniversary, he'll be visiting her grave with the rest of his family. And it's just a day before his grand-daughter's birthday so you'd have be even a bigger bastard than him to refuse him leave for that one day - whatever the security risks." There was a knock on the door. "Perhaps I should leave?" asked Ritsuko. "No, no, I want her to meet you as well. Come in!" The door slid open to reveal a Japanese woman in a white lab coat. She looked in her early thirites and had shoulder- length straight raven-black hair. Her eyes were a curious mix between hazel and green. "This is Dr Kagero Natsumi who's been seconded from the MIMIR Institute to assist us." "Dr Kagero, this is..." "Prof Akagi Ritsuko," Natsumi cut in smoothly. "Formerly Chair-person of Project E and now Senior Researcher at GEHIRN Tokyo-3. I've heard so much about you..." She regarded the platinum haired and wheelchair bound scientist evenly, a crooked smile on her face. *** "Erm. I'd like another two clips, please." "Why, certainly. Anything for you, Ikari-san," giggled the HERZ Sergeant in charge of the Ammo Point. She handed over the two clips to a blushing Ikari Shinji. Her eyes followed his behind as he walked towards the firing point. She sighed inwardly. 'Why of all people did he have to choose such a fierce woman...' He took up his position, lined his sights with the target and emptied the clip. Shinji sighed as the computer displayed the distribution of shots. Three complete misses. Shinji hated guns. They were about killing. He abhorred death and violence. He was glad that HERZ and the UN kept Unit 01 in the Geo-Front to defend HQ against attack by SEELE. He was glad that the remaining Eva-05 units were the ones that were used to 'maintain the peace and security of the world' - which usually meant having to kill people who had different definitions of what a 'just peace' and 'secure order' was. "It's not just about killing, it's about self-defence. There's a difference," said a Misato-like voice in his head. Misato liked the idea of some military training for him. She hoped that it would teach him to skills to enable him to become more independent and thus build up his self-esteem. "What about us, baka-Shinji?" An image of Asuka carrying Akiko floated into his head. Yes, it was different from senseless killing. He had responsibilities, a wife and a child and friends. That meant more to him than the whole world. Shinji desperately wanted to be a good person, especially a good husband and father. Part of his definition of that meant being there for them. And protecting them as best he could. There were people out there who were out of their minds and out for blood. The Army of God. The Genesis Chapter. Cherubim. The Flaming Sword of Jehovah. In the wake of the public revelations about the Human Instrumentality Project after that fateful day in 2015, Christian and Orthodox fundamentalist organizations had sprung up to demand the total eradication of all traces of 'the technology of God', the blasphemy that was Eva. Lacking in the necessary political clout, they favoured terrorist tactics. HERZ and GEHIRN facilities and personnel were targetted with kidnapping, assassination, car bombs, even poison gas. They reserved particular hatred for the pilots of the Evangelions whom they called 'the spawn of the devil'. Things only stabilised after the UN granted Misato an A-15 which, in effect, made her military governor of the entire Kanagawa region. As hard as Hyuuga tried, HERZ Security couldn't protect Shinji's family all the time. There was also the issue of privacy. In fairness, he had to do his part. Shinji sighed again as he loaded his second clip. As he began to take aim, he felt someone press against his back. Someone with breasts. She traced her hands over his arms, finally resting her fingertips just after his elbows. Kurumi was clearly enjoying the feel of his back and arms. Self-esteem wasn't the only thing that Shinji's training had built up. She let her breath tickle his ear as she whispered,"Now there, Shinji-kun. You won't be able to hit the target if you're all tensed up like that. Try to relax." "But I'm trying, Kurumi. Ummm... could you please... uurmmm... not stand so close...please?" It seemed that backbone in Shinji's line had to be constantly replenished by contributions from the maternal gene pool. Kurumi laughed heartily as she disengaged herself from Shinji. "Seriously, you shouldn't hold your breath for so long. It causes you to tremble and affects your aim. Try letting out half a breath." Shinji did as she suggested and emptied the second clip. He heard that she had a stint with an elite unit in the UNIPF before being transferred to the Inspectorate and was a professional with respect to these matters. "Very good, Shinji-kun. All hits. There's even a vital hit! Let me give you a big hug!" Shinji was promptly glomped. It didn't help that her UN uniform showed off her figure. Nowhere as well endowed as a certain Katsuragi or Sohryu but still a very good figure in this case. "Kurumi... I've still got this gun... please..." pleaded Shinji, arms and weapon raised above his head. "It's not loaded, Shinji-kun...Or should I be worrying about your other weapon? You haven't started misfiring with that, do you?" "Kurumi!" "Oh, what gives? Don't you like women hurling themselves at you?" Kurumi purred, batting her eyelids for added effect. "Urmm..." Shinji was under a lot of stress. Asuka chose that moment to make her appearance. Toting a sub-machine gun, she ignored the two as she strode to the firing point and selected a target at 100m. She proceeded to blow off its crotch and head with deadly accuracy. After returning the weapon to the armskote, Asuka grabbed Shinji by his ear and completely ignored Kurumi as she led him away. "Itetetetetete..." yelped Shinji as he dutifully followed his wife. "Urusai, baka-Shinji." "Yes, dear." *** (A darkened room. The video image of the Negev explosion plays via holographic projection. The twelve monoliths of SEELE appear.) SEELE 04: This was not in our plan. SEELE 03: The fools went ahead on their own. Now they pay the price. SEELE 07: This sets back the schedule. SEELE 01: Alternatives will be found. The schedule can be adjusted. *** The eerie red glow of the Tree of Life diagram reflected off Maj-Gen Katsuragi Misato's reading glasses. Her hands were folded in front of her face forming a bridge just under her nose. Lt Col Hyuuga and Maj Aoba stood before her. The latter made his report. "Except for the actual size of the blast radius, every- thing else went according to plan. This should buy us a little time." "Good work." *** "Hey, who's that under the tree?" "That's Ikari Shinji. He's an Eva pilot." "What's he like?" "Loner. Ever since high school started, he's hardly spoken to anyone except Aida, Suzuhara and a bit to Horaki." "Girlfriend?" "I heard that he has a thing for Sohryu - you know, auburn hair, eye patch, arm harness. She used to live with him and his guardian but she doesn't talk to him now. She's a strange one as well." A shadow fell over his book. As he shifted it, the shadow followed. Shinji sighed and looked up. It was a girl with short black hair. Her eyes were a type of brownish-green. She was very very tanned. Her lips curled into a crooked smile and she leaned forward slightly. "Hi, I'm Kurumi. Pleased to meet you." She saw him shrink from her ever so slightly. He swallowed. "I'm Shinji. Ikari Shinji." "Shinji.." she said, getting the feel of his name. "You ever tried surfing?" Kurumi sighed. "I never had a chance, did I?" she said to herself softly as she looked back at the computer screen. It displayed HERZ pay details. Normally confidential, this information was subject to the scurtiny of the UN Inspectorate. Maj-Gen Katsuragi had given Shinji a very large Eva pilot allowance. He received the equivalent of the top grade in the Captain rank. It was justified by his "unique ability to pilot Unit 01." Asuka's allowance was much smaller since she was not an active pilot and also drew her rank, vocation and qualifications pay. The Ikaris also had a marriage and child allowance. Nothing unusual. What caught her attention was another fairly large pilot allowance for the benefit of an Ayanami Rei. She was the only other person on the active pilots list but there were no HERZ records of her participation in any tests, training exercises or field missions In fact, there was nothing on her. Not even a date of birth. Her address was classified. There was, however, a 12 year old file photo. This girl was as pale as Kurumi was tanned. Light indigo hair. Blood red eyes. What disturbed her most was that she knew this person. It was a long time ago but she recognized her. Oh, how could she forget? "Ayanami Rei. Just who are you?" Kurumi tapped her finger on the desk as she pondered about the First Child. END OF PART III "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce." Karl Marx, the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte Ver 1.0 - 31 Jan 99 Ver 1.3 - 02 Feb 99 Ver 2.1 - 21 Feb 99 Ver 2.2 - 25 Apr 99 Ver 2.4 - 24 Oct 99 contact: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org archive: http://www.teloong.mcmail.com/HERZ.htm HTML version is available for Part 3.