Source: geocities.com/seele_hq/Archive

               ( geocities.com/seele_hq)    
A NEON GENESIS EVANGELION fanfic.
Rights belonging to GAINAX and AD Vision.
Used without permission.

HERZ
by E.L.Toh

Part IV: Death and Rebirth

   "Katsuragi-shirei," said Hyuuga, raising his voice just
above the hum of the Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing engine.
"I don't like this, I don't like this one bit."

   Misato nodded. 

   "It has been becoming more difficult to resist pressure
from the UN and the member-states. They've poured much 
money and resources into maintaining Eva, it's inevitable
that they would want them to be used in a more 'practical'
manner."

   Hyuuga snorted, eyes still ahead and hands on the
controls of the craft. "Preventing a Third Impact seems
practical enough for me."

   Misato allowed herself a small guffaw. She was glad for
the VTOL craft and the constant shuttling between Tokyo-2
and Tokyo-3. It allowed her and her trusted officers to 
discuss HERZ business in private. 

   Despite of the loss of much of NERV's old autonomy, HERZ
was still greatly feared. Exclusive control of Unit 01 and
the remaining Eva-05 series meant that she could defeat any
conventional armed force on the field. Which was why HERZ 
was tied into the UN military hierarchy, why she and other 
old NERV staff were surrounded by bugs and spies. The 
Commander's Office was secure but Misato didn't want to push
her luck. This craft had been Gendou's personal transport - 
the old NERV Commander had made sure that it would be very 
difficult indeed to eavesdrop on the conversations on board
this VTOL craft. The only weak link would have been the 
pilot.

   Misato didn't have that problem. Also ever since Hyuuga 
had handed over the air transport of Eva to younger officers
like Aida, this was a good way to maintain enough flight 
time to keep his wings and pilot allowance. Still, it took 
some getting used to. The Antonov-242 Eva Heavy Transport 
was a flying fortress and anything else felt somewhat flimsy.

   "Now that the seventeen angels have been destroyed, HERZ
looks like a huge white elephant. Using Eva for peace-
keeping and peace-making operations will both stretch the 
UN's dollar and entrench its power over the member-states," 
Misato reasoned. "Hyuuga, I can't believe I just said that
... I've become a politician!"

   "Katsuragi-shirei, I think that you have needed all your
political skills to keep HERZ and Eva out of the hands of 
other politicians - like those in the member-states. Anyhow
our main responsibility is to prevent a Third Impact. Who's
to say they won't manage to finally throw together another 
Eva-series and storm the Geo Front like the last time?
Dividing our resources would seem to invite an attack. 
Surely the UN doesn't want to see the end of the world as
we know it, ne, Katsuragi-shirei?"

   "That will be my main argument before the Security 
Council. But I doubt that they will be much swayed by it.
Without the Angels, the end of the world seems like such a 
distant possibility. A clear and present danger does wonders
for concentrating the mind. It doesn't help the UN does have
precedence on its side either."

   "You mean our intervention in Krasnoyarsk to help the 
Russians with their rebel nukes? That was to stop a possible
Third World War - probably just lower in the scale of 
magnitude for disasters when compared to the Third Impact."

   "My sources in the UN tell me the Security Council 
wants a show of strength. They want us to use Unit 01 in
the Congo."

   "Hey, I thought I was the one who was in on secrets and 
intelligence gathering? Man, I feel like I've let you down,
Katsuragi-shirei."

   "Don't feel bad, Hyuuga-kun. After all, you don't have 
my womanly looks and charm. These things do wonders for 
intelligence gathering, you know. In any case, I'll put a
stop to this nonsense about an away deployment of Unit 01."

   "How? Not with womanly looks and charm, I hope."

   Misato swatted Hyuuga on the shoulder but nonetheless she
had an evil smile.

   "I have a cunning plan."

   "Speaking of which, with the Negev facility out of the 
way, we've managed to slow SEELE down. But I wonder why 
there have been Sea of Dirac incidents all over the globe 
in the past few years. The only available sources of Eva 
technology are ourselves and SEELE. We're certainly not 
giving anything away and if SEELE wants the nation-states
to build Evas for it, why do they keep blowing up? Having
built the Eva-05 series, doesn't SEELE have the expertise 
to handle S2 engines?"

   "Perhaps they don't have the subsidiary MAGI systems in 
New York, Hong Kong, Berlin, Houston and Moscow to assist 
them anymore. It's a real mystery."

   "I don't like mysteries."

   "So what's your take on the Congo, Hyuuga?"

   HERZ's Intelligence chief and Commander's VTOL-craft 
chauffeur sighed.

   "Firstly, it was foolish to try and intervene in Central
Africa without the support of the Great Powers. UNIPF doesn't
have that kind of force capability yet. It was even worse 
that the local African powers seem to favour some of the 
warring factions. Oil on a fire. Rushing in the Rapid 
Deployment Corps of the UN International Peace-keeping Force
just created more problems."

   It was Misato's turn to sigh. The RDC had indeed rapidly
deployed but the bottom line was that the UNIPF lacked the
necessary resources. It would have helped immensely if the
UN had access to better satelite survelliance so that it 
knew exactly what it was getting into. Its lightly armed 
peacekeepers were now hopelessly pinned down in Kinshasa and
Brazzaville. No one else seemed interested in risking their
own troops to rescue the would-be peacekeepers who had 
arrived to find that there was no peace to keep. 

   The UN Secretariat and Military Staff Committee were 
now looking to HERZ to use Eva to relieve the sieges of 
the embattled RDC. The UN Security Council found it an 
attractive option since even the 'mercenaries' wouldn't go
near the Congo, given the severe difficulty of the 
situation. If the UNSC passed a Resolution to send HERZ
into the thick of things, she would not be able to refuse.       

   The radio began to crackle as UNHQ Air Control began to
issue landing instructions. As the HERZ craft approached 
the air strip, Misato noted the barracks, bunkers, weapons
platforms and other fortifications that surrounded the dome-
like headquarters of the UN. 

   After much wrangling, the Security Council had provided
for part of the UNIPF to be used for guarding major UN 
installations like those in Tokyo-2, Geneva and New York. 
Unlike the Rapid Deployment Corps, these troops were 
generously equipped and supplied. The UN had certainly taken
the lessons from the JSSDF massacre at NERV HQ to heart and
were not going to quibble about their own security. An extra
precaution was that this force was an autonomous body that
answered to the Secretary-General. Unlike HERZ which 
reported to the UN Military Staff Committee and to the 
Security Council.

   At the landing platform, they were met by one of the 
Special Representatives to the Secretary-General as well as
a UNIPF Brigadier who conducted them to the Security 
Council's chamber. 

   The arguments raged all morning. It was just after lunch
when Misato launched her coup de grace. In response to a 
spin doctor's suggestion that the use of Unit 01 would be
very good for the television cameras, HERZ's Commander 
released footage of the occasion when Unit 01 ate the 14th
Angel. Only most of the military personnel and representatives 
from the commercial direct action firms (who disliked being
called mercenaries) were able to keep their lunches down. Of
course, when the resolution was passed later, it was made 
manifestly clear that Unit 01 was to stay where it was.

***

   Asuka's right eye and brow were twitching unbearably. She
decided to take a break from the maps of the Congo. 'Maybe 
what I need is a hot shower.'


   "Good work as usual, Shinji," said Maya as the tests were
completed.

   The pilot of Unit 01 got out of the entry plug and was 
soon on his way to get rid of the LCL in his hair. As he 
entered, Shinji saw the red plug suit lying on the bench in
the men's locker room. He could hear someone showering in 
one of the stalls. A silly grin crept onto his face.

   "It must be Asuka," he thought. "She's been really frisky
lately, well... not that I mind." Shinji pressed the release
button on his own blue and white plug suit and got himself a
towel.  Making his way to the stall where the steam of hot 
water was rising, he could just make out a silhouette through
the shower curtain.

   "Hmm..Asuka?"

   "Hiya Shinji-kun!" Kurumi tore the curtain aside. "You 
like my bikini marks?"

   "WAAAAAAAAAAUGH!!!"

   Kurumi had never seen anyone run so fast before. She 
scowled. "Oh no, you don't. You're not getting away from
Kagero Kurumi again!"

   
   Asuka was coming from the corridor when she saw Shinji 
burst out from the shower room. He was screaming in terror
and only had a towel around his waist. Twitch. He ran down
the corridor, pursued by a towel-clad Kurumi. Twitch. Twitch.
Quickly picking up a baseball bat from the nearby Sports 
Utility Room, she gave chase. 'I'll fix that twitch for good
this time.'


   "So how are things at the group?" asked Col Strasser. 
"It's been a while since you left the Third Branch to work 
directly for them."

   "The Generation Eight system still needs more work. It's
been consuming most of my time. The 2015 intervention was 
much more costly than GEIST had anticipated," replied 
Raymond Aron. The Frenchman was in his sixties and held 
himself proudly. "But access to the MAGI system prototype 
here is very helpful. Your Commander Katsuragi obviously 
understands the value of cooperating with us."

   "I try to steer her towards the appropriate decisions but
I suspect she has her own agenda."

   "Everyone has their own agenda, Strasser."

   Just at that moment, Shinji, Kurumi and Asuka sped past.

   "Good morning, Sir."

   "Good morning, Colonel."

   "Guten morgan, Herr Strasser."

   Shinji continued to run. Kurumi continued her chase. 
Asuka continued to swing her bat and scream death threats
at the two.

   "Young people nowadays," sighed Strasser.

   "Young people are our future yet SEELE tried to buy 
mankind life immortal with the blood of children. I fear 
that we may not be so different. The blood of the young is
still being spilt to carry out the plans of the old." Aron
shook his head sadly. "Strasser, Ptah tells us that a 
preliminary invasion of HERZ is very soon on SEELE's time-
table. But their current objective is not Unit 01. No, Ammon
assures us that it is still too early on their schedule for
that. But this will be an important stepping stone to what
we fear most. What we just barely succeeded in stopping 
those twelve years ago."

   "I understand, Horus."

***
   
   "Mama! Otousan!" called Akiko happily. Her parents had 
come to pick her up from the day care centre. Her father was
meekly following Mama, a reddish handmark on each side of 
his face. 'Otousan must have been baka again.'

   "Aki-chan," said Asuka. "The toy isn't yours. You've got
to put it back."

   "But it *is* mine, Mama," said Akiko, holding the rabbit
doll closer to herself. "Her name is Floppy." 

   "Aki-chan, you shouldn't accept gifts from strangers..."
Asuka was about to launch into her motherly lecture mode.

   "But Mama, Aunt Ayanami isn't a stranger. She said she 
made it for my birthday."

   Asuka's face darkened.

   "Otooousan," Akiko said in her most kawaii voice. Her 
father was much easier to bully. "Can I keep Floppy, 
pleeease..."

   Shinji found himself caught between the two most 
important females in his life. His gaze darted to and 
from his wife and daughter. He settled on playing the 
sad puppy dog to Asuka. Faced with two pleading looks, 
Asuka relented.

   "Could I see her please?" asked Shinji. Akiko held up 
her prize so her father could take a closer look. It was
definitely handmade, some of the stitching was a little
clumsy but great care had been taken at every stage. From
the selection of materials, right down to the finishing
touches. It had a fairly humanoid shape with large floppy
ears. Shinji wondered just how long it had taken Rei to do
it.

   "She's very nice," he said. "Come on, Aki-chan, you 
don't want to be late for the picnic, do you?"  

***

   It was a very pleasant Saturday afternoon. Hikari watched
with no small satisfaction as Asuka wolfed down the bento 
boxes she had prepared for this little picnic at the park. 

   "Oh Hikari, you're such a great cook. Maybe Shinji could
pick up some tips from you," said Asuka between bites.

   "Oh, you're so lucky, Asuka. Shinji cooks, cleans and 
looks after the baby while you bring home the bacon," teased
Hikari. Being used to all the house-husband jokes, Asuka
decided to play along.

   "You know, Hikari, it's not just the cooking, cleaning
and child-minding departments that baka-Shinji can be so... 
satisfying," Asuka said grinning predatorily in Shinji's 
general direction. He was walking with Touji as Akiko ran
in front of them, trying to catch a butterfly.

   Hikari's blush appeared almost immediately and she began
to search for something to say. 'Hah, gotcha.' Asuka decided
to press her advantage.

   "So when can Aki-chan expect a playmate?"

   "Asuka, I'm not married yet!"

   "That hasn't stopped others before. Besides you're 
engaged to that jock already."

   "Asuka!!! I... Oooh, you win."

   Asuka smiled triumphantly. She loved winning. "But 
seriously, have you decided on a date?"

   "Maybe next spring when my teaching award should b
confirmed."

   "So can the wise Dr Horaki Hikari of the Department of
International Relations, University of Tokyo-3 give us an
appraisal of the Congo situation?"

   "Oh Asuka, don't be silly. Since when did academia have
anything to do with the real world? Hey, shouldn't you be
the one with first hand knowledge?"

   "Yeah, yeah. But I can't make any sense out of it. People
like to fight over all kinds of stupid things. And because
of that I've got to spend more time away from Aki-chan and 
Shinji."

   "It looks pretty bad. HERZ will have to get involved. I 
gather you've seen the Security Council resolution?"

   Asuka nodded. "At least baka-Shinji won't have to go that
hellhole. He'd probably step on someone and then moan about
it for a month."

   Hikari nodded as well. "You must be very relieved."

   "Misato simply won't allow this kind of thing to happen
to her darling Shin-chan."

   "Well, it sure helps that Shinji-kun's got a really cute
butt."

   It was Asuka's turn to turn goldfish. Eyes wide open and
mouth gaping open and shut without any sound coming out of 
it. She just managed to recover as Shinji, Touji and Akiko
made their way to her side.

   "Mama, look! Isn't it pretty?" asked Akiko, holding up a
jar with a butterfly in it. "And I caught it myself! Right,
Otousan?"

   Hikari gazed longingly the Ikaris. She also noted that 
both Shinji and Asuka were wearing jackets despite the nice
weather. She idly recalled that both of them carried 9mm 
pistols wherever they went. All those religious zealots 
after their blood. Hyuuga's security men were probably 
lurking behind every tree in this park. Her thoughts 
returned to the present as Akiko announced her intention to
release 'her' butterfly which earned her a big smile from
her doting father. 

   "So how's the equipment, Touji?" asked Asuka.

   "Holding up great. I could break a few heads with this
stuff." Touji took up a he-man pose. His replacement limbs
were lightweight, sturdy and comfortable. "You should try 
it, there's an optical sight being developed now."

   "No thanks, I don't like being someone's guinea pig or 
lab rat..." said Asuka getting a big taste of her foot in 
the process. "Gomen. I didn't mean it to come out like that."

   "Ah, don't worry," said Touji slapping his chest. "I 
must be the most pampered guinea pig in the world. The bio-
mechanical arm and leg prosthetics were free of charge. Tune
ups, new models included in the package as well."

   Hikari bowed her head. "They also paid for my university
education with a full scholarship. They made the offer 
without us asking. That's on top of the supplement to his
teacher's wage at our old school."

   "I don't mind all the tests. Hell, they're less boring
than all those harmonics and synchro stuff, you guys have 
to endure. And since I can't protect world peace, at least
I can help the company to make a better product, that will 
help others like me."

   Shinji nodded in agreement as he tucked into his bento
box.

   "Oh, this is wonderful as always. Hikari, you must come
over with Touji for dinner and we can exchange tips." Hikari
and Asuka both burst out laughing. 

   Shinji and Touji looked at each other. 'Women.'

   Akiko simply continued eating. Adults could be so strange.

***

A few days later.

   The plain obsidian tombstone read:

   IKARI YUI
   1977-2004

   Akiko took a step forward and lay a bunch of pure white
lilies before it. The assembled foursome then bowed their
heads in a solemn minute of silence.

   Akiko did not really understand the full significance of
the observance but followed the lead of her parents and 
grandfather. After a long moment, she felt relieved as her
father took her hand and turned towards his own father.

   "It was good that you were able to come, Father," said
Shinji.

   "The higher-ups in GEHIRN found it in their hearts to let
an old man visit his wife's grave on her death anniverary. 
It is good to see you, Shinji. Asuka. And you too, Aki-chan.
It has been too long," replied Gendou. Three generations of
the Ikari family began their walk to the train station.

   After lunch, as Shinji was washing the dishes, Akiko
clambered onto her grandfather's lap. She looked up at him
and smiled her brightest smile. Gendou returned the smile as
he stroked his grandchild's long chestnut hair. His grand-
child. Shinji's child. Yui would have been so proud. He 
didn't need to look at the picture that was in Shinji's 
bedroom. He could see an image of Yui on his lap. And of Rei.

   Akiko reached out tentatively to touch Gendou's beard.
He nodded and she sated her curiosity. She knew Otousan had 
thought about growing one. She also knew that Mama didn't
like it because it was scratchy. Whatever that meant. Gendou
stuck his tongue out at Akiko. He then twisted his ears
slightly, retracting his tongue at the same time. Akiko 
laughed with delight as her grandfather entertained her a
few more 'tricks'. He was such a funny man. She wished that
he would visit more often. The conversation through the
afternoon was sparse but not awkward. Gendou was quietly
grateful. After all he had done to them, he couldn't expect
his son and his daughter-in-law to ever want to see him,
much less even to spend a whole day with him.

   He had to leave before sunset and return to a virtual
state of house arrest in Tokyo-2. The security men had 
already arrived and were waiting outside the apartment. 
Before parting, there had to be hugs. Birthday wishes. 
And presents.

   "Father! This is so much! You're spoiling her!" said 
Asuka. It had taken her quite a while to get used to 
calling him that.

   "I don't get the chance to see you all. I know I haven't
been much of a father... and besides, maybe I'd spoil Aki-
chan less if I had to divide my attention between more 
grandchildren..." 

   Asuka blushed.

   "Father, before you go.." Shinji took an envelope from
his pocket and handed it to Gendou.

   "Thank you, my son. Take care. Goodbye."

   The birthday party was also this evening. Misato was the
first to arrive as always. Shinji fussed about having his
hair mussed even though he was already a father. Hyuuga made
a lame joke about checking the cake for any security risks. 
Ito and Igarashi were pleading with Aoba to join their band.
Ritsuko kept insisting that Maya stop nannying her, nagging
her to mix around and make new friends especially with
the parents of Akiko's playmates. Hikari had to attend a 
conference in Tokyo-2 and had dragged Touji along. They 
had given their well wishes and present during the picnic. 
Kensuke spent most of his time at the balcony, chatting 
quietly with Kaori. Asuka surprised Strasser with 'proper
German food' and good German beer. Particularly, lots of
the latter. Misato declined to join them. Shinji took up his
wife's dare. By his second beer, he was dead drunk.

***
   
   "Dear Commander Ikari..." The letter was short and taciturn. It
was much like the others she had written but each piece still meant 
much to him. Gendou looked out of the train window, at the rising 
moon, the letter held tightly in his grasp. "...Love, Rei."
   
***

   The grill made a tremendous clanging sound as it crashed
onto the floor. Kurumi, in her UNIPF combat fatigues, 
emerged from the ventilation shaft. "Terminal Dogma is off-
limits, my ass."

   She made her way through the dark corridors. Most of it
seemed deserted. Most of the doors were sealed. She finally
came to a huge armour-plated door. The plaque above the 
security card slot and keypad declared "Artificial Evolution
Laboratories". It barred her way into the depths of Terminal
Dogma, the penultimate door between her and the truth. She
heard the final barrier was called 'Heaven's Door'.

   Kurumi set to work on cracking the electronic lock. After
a few minutes of keying in override codes, she slid a stolen
card into the slot. The device beeped loudly and she was 
suddenly hurled back by an invisible force.

   Her training softened the impact of the landing and she
sprung to her feet like a cat, her pistol drawn in one fluid
motion.

   "What the hell is that?"

   An orangish, translucent field made of concentric octagons
covered the huge door. It coalesced into a downward-pointing
triangle. It was at least five or six stories high, its lines
several metres thick and glowed a light blue. The empty 
corridor was filled with a silent hum, an eerie siren song of
power. It grew more and more intense as three red eye-shapes 
opened. One on each corner of the triangle.

   Kurumi was on her knees. Her weapon on the floor. Her 
hands over her ears. Trying to block out that silent song
that reached deep into her mind. The song knew her heart.
And all her secrets.

   "Who are you?"

   "What do you want?"

   "Why are you here?" A quiet, flat, monotonous voice.

   "Where are you going?" The voice was female.

   Kurumi screamed. And ran. Down empty corridors, dank and
dark. Away from the song. Away from that voice. Away from 
the truth. Away from herself.

END OF PART IV

NOTES

1. The shower scene was inspired by the Ritsuko/Gendou/Maya
scene from Joyce Wakabayashi's Urusai Asuka series, Part 2.
Her archive is at http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Gulf/7463/
and can be contacted at MOBIUSKLEIN@prodigy.net

2. The four questions at the end are asked in Babylon 5's
final episode, 'Sleeping in Light'. Its official website is
http://www.thestation.com/  

   Another recommended site is the Lurker's Guide to Babylon
5 at http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/lurker.html


Ver 2.0 - 03 Feb 1999
Ver 2.3 - 27 Feb 1999
Ver 2.5 - 30 Oct 1999


contact: toheel@singnet.com.sg or teloong@cwcom.net
archive: http://www.teloong.mcmail.com/HERZ.htm