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The Freedom That Comes From Being Chained
  
  
Produced by: Horde O' Hentai Productions: Literature
Division
     Darren Demaine (Chairman of the Horde)
     Lee (Guy We Rub For Luck)
     Rob (Breath Weapon Specialist)
     Craig (Our Man in Japan)
Written by: Darren Demaine
All rights for Evangelion owned by: Studio Gainax,
Director Anno, Viz, AD Vision
  
Warning: Spoilers for up to episode 22.  
-----------------
  
     Misato frowned up at the Angel on the screen before
her.  This particular invader was a sphere of sharp
edges; a ball of iron spikes and blue steel thorns around
the unblinking red eye of an S2 organ.  Taller than an
Eva, the beast used the jointed thorns that pointed
downwards as legs to pierce the earth and ponderously
drag itself forward.
 
     "Defensive status?"
 
     "Unit Zero in position to intercept," Hyuga replied. 
"Unit-02 in launch shaft ready to sortie as backup.  All
armament buildings are at first stage alert.  Non-combat
personnel have been relocated to shelters."
     
     Misato turned her head to glance at the upraised
command section behind her.  "Request permission to
deploy Unit-01."
 
     "Denied.  Freeze on Unit-01 still in effect."
 
      Misato sourly noted to herself. 
Turning back to the screen, she tensely watched the
newest Angel drag itself onto the concrete and steel
roads of Tokyo-3.  The bayonets that made up its limbs
drove jagged holes in the streets as it struggled
forwards.  Behind it was left scenery perforated and torn
by its passage.
 
     "At least we'll never lose the ability to track it,"
Misato muttered.  "Rei," she continued in a louder voice. 
"Prepare to intercept."
 
     "Understood."
 
     Crouching behind a building Unit 00 raised its
pallet gun and waited.  Inside the entry plug, the only
sign of emotion from the young pilot was a slight
tightness around her eyes.  There was a whoosh picked up
from the machine's external mikes as armament buildings
cut loose with emplaced weapons.  A deafening roar
followed as the projectiles impacted on the metallic body
of the invader.  Explosions blossomed as bright flowers
against the cold blue monster and some of the nearby
buildings.  
 
     Patient, Rei waited until the smoke from the
explosions had totally concealed the Angel.  Then she
shoved her controls forward, finger already tightening on
the trigger.  Unit-00 rolled out from behind its cover
and slammed to a halt down on one knee, pallet gun
already up and firing before the mecha had finished the
roll.  Bright yellow streams of tracer fire flowed from
the barrel and disappeared into the obstructing grey
cloud around the Angel.  Sounds of armour piercing
explosive warheads impacting upon something could be
heard.
 
     "Unit-00 confirmed contact!"  Makoto said.  "Damage
to the Angel, unknown!"
 
     "Pattern blue detected!"  Maya shouted.  "Angel is
deploying its AT field!"
 
     "Alright.  Rei, hold position until we get some more
information," Misato commanded.  "Develop your field and
prepare for-"
 
     There was a blur on the command screen as a large
shape hurtled itself out of the concealing smoke cloud. 
Displaying a frightening quickness not seen earlier, the
Angel's forest of sharp legs seemed to teleport it over
to Unit-00's position in a single heart-stopping charge.
 
     "Rei!" Misato shouted as more of the Angel's iron
thorns drove down toward the blue machine.  Uncoiling
from its crouch, Unit-00 sprang backwards as the ground
it had just vacated broke apart under a hailstorm of
metal spears.  Landing heavily, Rei jumped backwards
again, this time bringing her rifle up and firing a burst
as the mecha flew back.  
 
     Fire blossoming across its face apparently did not
hinder the Angel as it once again rapidly closed on Unit-
00, throwing out a series of steel-tipped arms.  Unit 00
twisted around in mid-air, losing its gun as a spear
ripped through the rifle.
 
     "Deploy Unit-02," came the quiet command from
Commander Ikari.
 
     "Is that wise, commander?" Ritsuko asked.  "We
haven't had time to exactly figure out how the last Angel
affected Asuka."
 
     The commander's expression didn't change.  "If
nothing more, Unit-02 will act as a fine decoy."
  
     Unsteadily, Rei landed her big machine.  Turning,
she hurried back along the path of her mecha's power
cable, trying to get some distance.  There was another
blur and she threw herself behind a building as the
creature appeared right there and filled the air she'd
just been in with metal limbs.  Down the road from the
conflict, there was a crash as something heavy slammed up
into a building.  With the blearing of warning sirens,
the front of the building opened up to reveal the red
giant of Evangelion Unit-02.
 
     "Asuka," Misato ordered.  "Deploy your AT field and
go to storage building 17.  Get the position rifle and
snipe at that Angel from long range.  Try and get its
attention.  Rei, pull back.  That thing has too many
blades for you to try and use your prog knife."  Misato's
pretty face darkened into a frown as she watched the
scene unfolding before her.  Close combat was the most
effective method shown to defeat Angels, yet this one
seemed to be nothing but a vast array of knives, blades,
and other sharp instruments.  In this case close range
fighting would seem be asking for defeat, but there has
to be something that could deal with this invader.
 
     Her eyes flowing over the command screen again,
Misato's frown deepened.  "Asuka, didn't you hear me?"  
 
     Above, on the streets of Tokyo-3, the colossal shape
of Unit-02 stood there, silent and unmoving.  There was a
still moment as the Angel seemed to stare at the newcomer
at the other end of the causeway.  Its crimson eye facing
the red statue, the Angel pulled free what limbs had
pierced the building Rei had dove behind sending a shower
of concrete and steel to the street below.  Not as quick
as before but with purpose of mind, the creature closed
on Unit-02's location.
 
     "Asuka!  Wake up!"  Anxiously Misato turned to the
command staff.  "Status of Unit-02!?"
 
     Eyes focused, Dr. Akagi was trying to do three
things at once; replying to Misato added number four to
the list.  "Unit-02's synchro rate is 0.3%!"
 
     "What?!  Asuka!  Can you hear me!?  Answer me!"  A
small window opened up on the command screen, and a
picture of the young German redhead appeared.  Hands
gripped the controls tightly but her head was bowed and
she seemed to be trembling.  A soft mummer rose from her
body as she sat there, unmoving and unaware.
 
     "Asuka!  Asuka!  Raise the gain on the microphone,"
Misato directed that last comment to the command staff.
 
     "Hai!" Maya replied, typing away.
 
     There was a squeal of feedback for a moment, then a
soft mantra repeated itself over the com-net.  "It won't
move, It won't move, It won't move-"
 
     "Asuka!" Misato shouted.  "If you don't move you are
going to die!"  Cursing, she turned to Makoto.  "Recover
Unit-02 immediately!"
 
     "Acknowledged!"  With a frantic tapping of keys, the
front facade of the building slammed shut over the
immobile giant.
 
     As that happened, the Angel suddenly displayed its
blazing speed again.  Faster than anyone expected the
creature shot down the street, leaving perforated
environment in its wake.  With a loud crash the Angel
slammed into the building and rammed it off its base,
shattering the structure and throwing the red machine
inside down to the street.
 
     "I don't want to die, I don't want to die, I don't
want to die-"
 
     An iron spike drove through Unit-02's shoulder and
pinned it to the street beneath.  With a loud groan, the
Angel pulled its arm forward and up, dragging the red
colossus up and leaving it dangling from the arm like a
broken puppet.  With great deliberation, a whole forest
of bayonets pointed themselves towards the trapped giant.
     
     "Eject the entry plug NOW!" Misato screamed.
 
     The back of Unit-02's neck blasted off and a white
cylinder rode a column of flame out of the machine. 
Unit-02 jerked spasmatically as every limb and the torso
was perforated by dozens of stilettoes.  The glaring red
S2 organ of the Angel seemed to swivel slightly, almost
as if tracking the flight of the white capsule.  With a
sudden blur, the steel thorns were withdrawn from the red
carcass, which fell heavily to the ground in a tangled
heap of limbs.  Contemptuous of the discarded remains at
its feet, the steel beast twisted its body around and
started to move off in a new direction.
 
     Maya looked down at her screen, watching
alphanumerics as they scrolled before her eyes. 
Suddenly, all the blood left her face.  "...oh my
god......The Angel has changed course towards Unit-02's
entry plug!"
 
     "What!?"  Misato's eyes widened as she gaped at the
screen.  Course projections and evaluations superimposed
themselves over the map.  Clearly the Angel had diverted
from its original path towards the centre of the city,
and was indeed headed for the estimated landing point for
Asuka's entry plug.
 
     "Let me go out there!" Misato's head snapped around
at the voice.  She stared into Shinji's eyes as he looked
out from the communications window labelled EVA-01.  He
didn't see her, his gaze locked at his father
impassionedly, hands clenched into fists over locked out
controls.  "Let me do something!"
 
     "Maintain freeze," came an emotionless voice. 
Misato almost choked on her own rage.  The Angels had
been showing more unusual behaviour these last few times,
and here the Commander was treating a pilot...treating
Asuka...as expendable.
 
     "Father!" Shinji screamed, looking as if he'd try
and tear his way to the ground above by himself. 
Considering he was in Unit-01 at the moment, Misato was
almost ready to give him even odds on that possibility. 
She had other things to do at this moment however. 
 
     "All armament buildings, keep firing!  Try and
distract that Angel!  Rescue and recovery teams have top
priority!"
 
     High above, Unit-00 jumped up from the street and
came down heavily on top of a building.  Shifting the
positron rifle she had acquired into firing position, Rei
sighted into the back of the Angel and bared her teeth
slightly as she squeezed the trigger.  A blinding blue
flash highlighted the sky as the bolt flew across the
cityscape and slammed into rear of the Angel.  Shrugging
off the blow like a gentle wind, the creature of sharp
angles relentlessly continued towards the small white
cylinder, now in a parachute controlled fall.
 
     Rei fired twice more, the beams carving ionized
streaks through the afternoon sky and leaving the sour
tang of ozone in the air.  When those also did nothing to
divert the Angel's movement, Rei shoved the targeting
sight up and behind her head.  Without even a moment's
pause, she ejected the rifle from its mountings and
opened the shoulder weapons pack.  Grasping the prog
knife in her mecha's hand, she leapt from her vantage
point to another building, smashing the roof in.  Three
more jumps had her just behind the attacker.  Crouching
low, she sprang from the remains of the missile tower and
soared above the Angel.  Gravity eventually took hold and
Unit-00 fell from the sky as an avenging angel, prog
knife held like a blazing sword.
 
     From the back of the invader, a series of iron
spike-tipped limbs shot out towards her descending
machine.  Aimed at where Unit-00 had been mere moments
pervious, Rei sailed through the assault and drove her
knife down.  Used to seeing the Angel use its appendages
as piercing weapons, she was caught unaware as one limb
instead swung around and bludgeoned her machine in the
side just before she could strike.  The force threw her
away and into a nearby building which collapsed under the
impact of the blue giant.  It was only then that the
Angel paused in its advance on the entry plug.
 
     Turning, it brought the unblinking eye of its S2
organ around to face Rei as she pulled herself free from
the rubble.  Darting forward, she drove her knife in
towards the red orb.  A spear shot out from the mass that
surrounded her target and clipped the edge of her knife
as she ducked.  The blade of the prog knife shattered in
her fist as she stumbled back into another building. 
Shaking her head, she tried to dodge to the right.  
     
     A steel thorn shot forward and pierced her left
palm, cutting through armour, flesh, and the metal of the
building behind her.  Rei screamed as the sensation
flared searing pain throughout her arm.  
 
     "The freeze on Unit-01 is now lifted," Gendo said in
a stiff voice.  "Sortie immediately.  Rescue the pilots
and destroy the Angel."  Beside him, Fuyutsuki merely
raised an eyebrow.
 
     On the streets of Tokyo-3, Rei tugged ineffectively
at her trapped arm, whimpering as pain burned through
control.  With shuddering fingers, she tapped a control. 
Unit-00's left shoulder weapons pack opened up and the
spare prog knife extended into position.  
 
     There was a blur from the Angel, and another iron
bayonet flashed out.  An incoherent scream was torn from
the young girl's throat as her mecha's right palm was
also pinned to the building behind her.  Hunched over the
controls, Rei could only whimper as her hands
involuntarily clenched themselves into claws.  With the
protesting shriek of metal being torn asunder the Angel
slowly turned away, the limbs used to pin the humanoid
machine jaggedly breaking off.  Resuming its slow,
ponderous pace, the Angel continued on towards the
discarded entry plug.  Behind it, the blue form of Unit-
00 lay crucified to the building.
 
     "How's Rei?" Misato asked impatiently, watching the
Angel disappear under a fresh barrage of rockets from
NERV VTOLs.
 
     "We're cutting power to Unit-00's systems," Ritsuko
said, hitting a few keys.  "There's massive damage to
both arms and the machine can no longer be considered
combat effective."  The major was just turning her way
with a scowl as Ritsuko added, "Rei is fine.  All life
signs returned to normal when the harmonics systems were
disconnected."
 
     "Well...whatever you do, don't eject the plug." 
Misato grimly noted as the Angel emerged from the dust of
the explosions, none the worse for wear.  A quick thrust
of an armful of spikes ripped holes in an artillery
station, causing the building to fall in on itself and
explode.  "We don't know what this Angel wants with Unit-
02's entry plug, but the fact that it's ignoring Unit-00
now probably makes that the safest place for Rei." 
Several streets away from the jointed horror, S2-equipped
Evangelion Unit-01 broke free from its moorings and took
a step forward.  Moving quickly, the purple machine
grabbed a bazooka from a storage building and darted
after the fallen cylinder.
 
     Armoured legs pounding the pavement, Shinji drove
his machine forward on a parallel course to the Angel. 
"Asuka!" he shouted over the radio.  "Asuka!  Can you
hear me?!  Asuka!"  Through breaks in the buildings, he
caught glimpses of the ball of spikes as it moved.  Every
time he had a clear shot he fired off an explosive
rocket, the warheads detonating harmlessly against the
grey steel of the creature, not slowing it in the
slightest.
     
     Maya looked up from her screen, her face pinched and
white.  "The Angel's going to get to the plug before
Shinji can!"
     
     "Asuka!" Misato cried.
 
     "Damn it!" Shinji shouted.  Tossing the empty
bazooka away, he slid to a stop in front of a missile
tower.  "Misato!  Arm all missiles in tower H thirty-
seven!"
 
     "All warheads armed and ready!" Shigeru yelled,
hitting a key.  The wall board lit up with the words:
'TOWER H-37: WEAPONS HOT'.  
 
     Unit-01's left hand shot down and speared into the
building near the ground floor, the spread fingers
punching through the armoured shell.  Its right hand
crashed through the outer wall as high up as the Eva
could reach.  "Now release the moorings!" Shinji shouted.
 
     With a concussive blast,  the base of the tower blew
out as its connection to the ground was violently
asundered.  Groaning, Unit-01 lifted the building, half
again as tall as it was, over its head.  Below, armoured
shutters closed over the spot left vacant by the removal
of the structure.  
     
     Yelling, Shinji took a staggering step towards the
Angel and used all the power his Eva possessed to hurtle
the building into the air.  The weapons structure sailed
ungracefully over the streets, starting to get a slow
tumble as it reached its target.  Ploughing into the
Angel, there was a terrible crash as the full weight of
the structure rocked the invader, followed an agonizingly
long second later by a horrible white light as all the
warheads stored in the building exploded in a single
instant.
 
     The Angel and all nearby buildings vanished into
this conflagration as Unit-01 raced towards it.  Leaping
high, Shinji sailed by the firepit measured in city-
blocks, and crashed down ahead of his opponent.  Without
pause, he was up and running again towards the now landed
entry plug.  
 
     Although it came as no surprise, most of the command
room staff still twitched slightly as the Angel appeared
from the pit of hellfire, seemingly dazed but in no way
injured.  Ahead of it, Shinji looked behind his seat to
see the mass of iron thorns continuing on towards the
prize.  "Not now," he muttered.  "Not ever."
  
     Unit-01 reached the discarded entry plug at a full
run.  Without stopping, Shinji reached down and scooped
up Asuka's capsule in his hand and kept moving.  Not
pausing, Unit-01 ran out of the city and into the
surrounding hills, the Angel still following.
 
     "Where's the nearest entry corridor where we can
recover Unit-01 and the entry plug?" Misato asked.  The
screen before them flashed to show a god's-eye-view of
the local terrain, all NERV equipment sites and tunnels
highlighted.
 
     "Angel is between Eva and all possible escape
lines!"   A whole bunch of red X's appeared over the map.
 
     "Damn!  Shinji can't fight effectively with Asuka in
hand like this."  Misato paced for a few steps, then
hurried back to the main group.  "Prepare to blow
subsurface corridors K-3 through N-21.  Shinji!  We're
going to buy you a few seconds of time.  When I give the
word, get Asuka out of her entry plug and into yours."
 
     "Understood."
 
     "Is that really a good idea, major?" Ritsuko asked
as Maya and the others processed the order.  "Synchro
contamination could interfere with Shinji's harmonics
rate."
 
     "What was the last synchro score we got just before
Unit-02 went off line?"
 
     "0.3%."  
 
     Misato looked grim.  "I don't think there'll be
enough interference to worry about.  Okay, Shinji...NOW!"
 
     With a muted roar, the countryside around Tokyo-3
shivered for a second.  Then the roar grew louder and the
ground underneath the Angel's carpet of spikes rose up
for a second before collapsing in on itself, taking the
Angel and tonnes of dirt into a new pit.
 
     Dropping behind a hill, Unit-01 crashed down on one
knee and raised its fist with the entry plug up to its
neck.  With a whine of machinery, Shinji's own entry plug
popped free of its prison and into the daylight.  The top
hatch opened, and the boy pulled himself up over the
edge.  He spent a few precious moments vomiting up LCL
from his lungs, watching as similar liquid was being
forcefully ejected from Asuka's plug.  Shivering from the
exertion, he hurried over to the other plug and
frantically pulled on the door release.  
 
     "Asuka!  Asuka!  Damn it, answer me!"  Teeth
clenched, Shinji threw his whole weight against the
stubborn lever.  Through the ringing in his ears, he
could hear sounds of immense amounts of earth being
shoved aside as something fought angrily for its freedom. 
"Damn it!" he snarled as he strained aginst the latch. 
"Why are these things always so hard to get open?!"  The
reluctant hatch suddenly gave up its defiance and popped
open, nearly causing Shinji to slip off Unit-01's
shoulder as he staggered.  Getting his feet back under
him, he ducked into the plug.  "Asuka!"
 
     She was sitting there, hands still clenched to her
controls, head bowed.  "Asuka!  Come on, we've got to
go!"  He put his hand on her shoulder and realized she
was trembling.  That brought him up short for a second,
until he heard the sound of something huge break free
beyond the hill.    
 
     Gritting his teeth, he grabbed her and roughly
pulled her from the capsule.  She was a dead weight
against his body as he struggled to get back to his
machine.  Half dragging, half carrying, he lugged her to
the open hatch and tried to shove her in.  Getting her
body over the lip of the opening was proving to be
arduous as she sagged limply against him.  Grunting, he
shoved once more, then slipped on an armour plate and
unceremoniously tumbled them both into the waiting
machine.  They disappeared into the LCL with a splash and
a second later the plug cycled back into Eva-01, the
armour closing behind it.
 
     Unit-01's eyes powered up and the machine rose to
its feet as Shinji tried to figure out where to place
Asuka.  He wasn't prepared to let her fall to the bottom
of the plug, but she wasn't in any condition to hold onto
the seat herself.  And holding her in his arms was out of
the question since he needed both hands to pilot. 
Suddenly out of patience he grabbed her shoulders and
shook her violently.  "Asuka!  Look at me!  Damn it, look
at me!"  He kept shaking Asuka till her head rolled back,
eyes emerging from behind red bangs.  Blue orbs, clear as
a cloudless sky, and just as empty, stared back at him.
 
     "I don't want to die," she whispered brokenly.  "I
don't want to die, I don't want to die-"
 
     Shinji shivered uncontrollably.  Seeing the normally
arrogant and self-assured girl like this it... hurt.  An
explosion outside reminded him of the precariousness of
their situation, however.  Taking a shuddering breath, he
draped her face down over his lap and grasped the
controls, pulling Unit-01 into a battle stance.  On the
screen in front, he watched the sharp ball crest the
ridge.
 
     "Shinji," Misato called over the com-net.  "Try and
keep moving.  Ritsuko's working on some ideas, but we
need more time.  Don't close, keep as much cover between
you and-"
  
     Without warning, the Angel leapt from the ridge and
hurtled through the air towards Unit-01.  Steel lances
shot out at them as Shinji threw his machine into a
frantic dodge.  The spikes ripped into the earth around
Unit-01's feet, and a second later the bulk of the Angel
crashed down as well.  The purple Evangelion barely
rolled out from under the killing forest of blades.  He
whirled to his feet and caught one sharp appendage in his
hands as it tried to ram through his machine's ribs.
 
     The other limb caught him unaware.  A solid slug was
delivered to Unit-01's side and smashed the machine into
the air.  The long, ungraceful flight ended with the
purple machine smashing into a hillside.  Shinji's chest
screamed in agony as he struggled to keep a hold of Asuka
and prevent her from slamming into the plug's walls.  A
voice rang through his ears and it took him a second to
work through the cotton in his head to realize it was
Misato screaming at him.  Groggily he looked up to see
the Angel suddenly appear over his position.  He'd just
recovered his feet as the invader batted his Eva aside
with contemptuous ease once more. 
 
     Unit-01 slammed into an outcropping, the force of
the blow throwing Shinji's head back against his seat. 
He heard a cracking noise as his head hit, immediately
followed by a white hot poker of pain flaring behind his
eyes.  Someone might have been screaming at him, but all
he could focus on was the pain.  Then another blow caused
a great swirling black void to rise up and blessedly
relive him from the pain behind his eyes.
  
     *         *         *
  
     "Shinji!!  Shinji!!  Oh my God!  Shinji!  Can you
hear me?!  Shinji...answer...me...."
 
     The voice was known.  She knew who was talking, but
didn't place name or face to the sound.  Familiar and
warm, the voice promised.....something.....something she
couldn't remember, something that tugged at her mind. 
But it whatever it was, it wasn't enough, it wasn't what
she needed.  It could never be enough.  No one could ever
offer what she needed.  No one would ever offer it to
her.  Slowly, the intrusive voice faded from her
consciousness, becoming just another thing that tried to
intrude on her private hell.
 
     "I don't want to die...I don't want to die...I don't
want to die..."
 
     She wasn't any good anymore.  She wasn't capable of
anything.  Her world had collapsed.  Everything she'd
told herself had been a lie, and now she was forced to
face reality.  The truth that she'd keep away for so long
had returned and you couldn't fight truth.
 
     "I don't want to die...I don't want to die...I don't
want to die..."
 
     The truth had torn her apart, ripping her open and
let other see what she really was.  A failure.  It was
suppose to set you free, the truth was.  But in her case,
lies were all she had to present to the world.   Lies
were her armour against other people.
  
     "I don't want to die...I don't want to die...I don't
want to die..."
 
     No, lies weren't her armour against other people,
they were the bridge she'd used to reach out to them. 
They had given people reason to approach someone like
her.  People had liked those lies she'd presented, those
deceptions she'd hid behind.  If they'd known the truth,
they'd have turned away in loathing.  And it had
happened; now that she could no longer hide behind those
lies, everything that had made her worthwhile had been
violently ripped away. 
 
     "I don't want to die...I don't want to die...I don't
want to die..."     
 
     She was useless, broken, a burden to those around
her.  She couldn't do anything anymore.  She'd hidden
that fact, before, under a web of lies and deceptions. 
Everything she'd done had been a mockery of deceit to
make others accept her.  And now she could no longer rely
on that.
 
     "I don't want to die...I don't want to die...I don't
want to die..."
 
     She was worthless.  She was better off dead.
 
     "I don't want to die...I don't want to die...I don't
want to die..."
 
     *.....why?....*
 
     "I don't want to die...I don't want to die...I don't
want to die..."
 
     No one would miss her.  No one cared about her.  She
should just surrender and let the darkness hide her dirty
soul.  It would be better for everyone.
 
     But she didn't want to die.
 
     *.....why?....*
 
     Oh god...she didn't want to die.
 
     *.....why?....*
 
     She didn't want to fade away.  She didn't want to disappear.
 
     *.....why?....*
 
     She knew she was worthless, knew she was
insignificant.  It was selfish of her to want anything
from others, but she couldn't help it.
 
     *.....no one is worthless....*
 
     But she was worthless, she was!  Soiled.  Tainted. 
Even her own mother had turned away from her.
 
     *.....mother?....*
 
     She was bad.  Her soul was a dark thing; polluted
with her thoughts and actions.  She wasn't worthy of
anyone.
 
     *.....everyone is worthy....*
 
     Not her.  No one loved her.  She couldn't rely on
others, only herself.  She had to be the best, there was
no other way.
 
     *.....everyone is worthy....*
 
     If she couldn't be the best, no one would put up
with her.  There was no other reason to have her around. 
No one could care for her...she didn't even care for
herself.
 
     *.....someone does.....*
 
     Misato had just wanted a pilot.  Someone who could
fight the war she was waging.  Misato had been kind to
her while she'd been able to help, but it was just a
front.  Now that she was useless, she would be sent away,
much like her own father had already done with her.
 
     *.....she does care.....*
 
     She had known what was coming.  Knew that she'd be
sent away when the others found out she was worthless. 
Well...it didn't matter to her.  She didn't care about
Major Katsuragi either.
 
     *.....but you do.....*
 
     Oh god...more lies.  Did they never end?  Was her
whole being nothing but lies?  She really wanted Misato
to care about her.  She needed someone to care.  She'd
tried so hard.  But there was no way Misato really cared. 
There was no way.  How could anyone care for her?
 
     *.....but she does.....*
  
     And then there was the Third Child.
  
     *.....Shinji?......*
 
     Now that he was unbeatable, there was no place for
her.
 
     *......what about Shinji?....*
 
     She hadn't really cared about him.  He was....just a
diversion.  A joke to amuse her, a way to waste time.
 
     *.....are you being honest to yourself?....*
 
     Oh god...lies, lies, lies.... Hurting him had been
wrong.  It was just so much easier to hurt him than think
for a moment that someone might be different.  Easier
than deluding herself into thinking someone could care. 
It just showed that she couldn't deal with people.  More
proof that she was horrible, unworthy of anyone.
 
     *.....you're not horrible......*
  
     He didn't like her.  He couldn't.  No one could.  He
was just humouring her, playing with the poor, wicked
Second Child.  When he said that he'd tried to kiss her,
he must have secretly been laughing at her.  And she
deserved it.
 
     *.......he....tried to kiss you?.....*
 
     She'd kissed him....her first kiss...but it hadn't
really meant anything.
     
     *....you...kissed him?....*
 
     It couldn't.  After all, that one moment had to be
placed against the number of times they hadn't gotten
along.  She'd mocked him.  Hit him.  Belittled him. 
Called him stupid and accused him of being a pervert. 
More attempts to drive him away.  More proof that he
couldn't be concerned for her.  
 
     *.......................*
 
     There was no reason for him to care about her.  He
hated her.  She knew he did.  He'd left her behind in the
synchro-tests; blown past the mark she'd set.  The one
thing that had made her worthwhile, given people a reason
to like her, and he'd taken that from her.  
 
     *.....you have much more to offer.....*
 
     What did he care if she'd been a little worried when
he'd been swallowed by the Sea of Dirac.  What she'd felt
when upon seeing him for the first time after the
Fourteenth Angel didn't mean anything.  It wasn't as if
he could ever feel anything for her.  Her tutoring of him
in physics, his help with her Japanese kanji didn't
matter.  It couldn't.
 
     *.....couldn't it?.....*
    
     What right did she have to...to worry about someone
who wouldn't return the feeling.  Couldn't possibly feel
for someone as polluted as she was.  
 
     *....is that what you truly feel?....*
 
     He was better off with her out of his life.  They
all were.
 
     *.....is that what is truly in your heart?....*
 
     She...she...she was useless; no use to anyone.  She
was better off dead.  But she couldn't make that final,
selfless gesture that might have given purpose to her
existence.  She was too scared.  Scared of the
loneliness, scared of being empty forever and ever.  No
one to comfort, no one to take care of her.  No one to
care...for her...no one...to...care...about...  
 
     *.....perhaps...perhaps.....*
 
     It was selfish of her to wish for anything.  What
right did someone like her have to ask for anything.
 
     *..................*
 
     But she just wanted...just wanted...just wanted to
say...to say...
 
     *...............*
 
     The voice...the voice, it was leaving.  She could
feel it fleeing from her.  It had been listening and
learned how dirty and soiled she was.  It was turning its
back on her just like the others, just like what she
deserved.  Please...please don't leave me...please...
 
     *...............*
 
     Oh god....she knew it...the presence.... It was
gone.  It had left, just like the others.  Oh god...it
had seen how foul and unclean she was and it had left her
all alone and she was alone....alone forever and ever,
just herself and no one else...just her and her failures
and all that she'd never done properly and her rotten
soul and the memories of all the people she'd hurt 
andallthemistakesandohgodohgodmammamammahelpmemamma-
 
     A sudden blast of soft warmth and pure white light
engulfed her, drowning out her cries as the feeling of
presence returned.  Along with it came a simple statement
of something she'd never thought she could ever hold
again...
   
     *.....I approve......*
 
     *         *         *
     
     "Shinji!  Asuka!" Misato screamed hysterically as
the Angel raised spiked limbs, then drove a dozen
stilettoes at the machine.  There were so many and they
were so close that there was no way Unit-01 could ever
dodge them.
   
     So it didn't.
 
     One green arm swept up, bent at the elbow.  The
forearm caught the bottom-most of the incoming spikes and
drove them upwards into their companions, steel grating
loudly against iron.  Still sweeping up the arm diverted
the blades to just over Unit-01's head where they sheared
off the top of the hill Eva was resting against. 
Twisting to its feet the purple Evangelion danced out
from in front of the Angel.
 
     Misato leaned heavily on a console as her knees
threatened to give away.  That had been just a little too
close for her.  "Those damn kids'll give me grey hair
yet," she breathed.
 
     "What was that major?"
 
     "Nothing lieutenant.  Eva status?"
 
     Maya looked down at her board.  "Unit structural
integrity stable.  All systems still on line, core
temperature holding.  S2 organ within what we guess are
its theoretical limits.  Harmonics rate stable at..." her
voice trailed off. 
 
     "Synchronization at ninety-three percent!"
 
     "What?!" Dr. Akagi's eyes bugged out as she checked
her own readings.  "My God..."  Quickly she turned to her
protegee and shouted, "Initiate ego-border stabilization
sub-routines, cap the A-10 wave crests, and watch for
pulse feedback!"
 
     "Is he going up to 400% synchronization again?" A
terrified Misato asked.   On the screen, Unit-01 dodged
another wave of incoming spikes.
 
     "I don't think so," Ritsuko replied, typing away
frantically.  "Harmonics are stable, and there's no sign
of-"
 
     Maya's eyes suddenly went wide and she turned to
face her superiors.  "The harmonic pattern isn't
Shinji's!"
 
     "What?!"
 
     "Confirmed!" Makoto yelled.  "Pattern configuration
is consistent for Asuka!"
 
     "Well of course," came a voice over the
communications net.  A small window opened up on the
large screen to show a pair of blazing blue eyes glaring
out from under auburn bangs.  "Who else do you think
could pilot this well?"
 
     "Asuka!" Misato yelled happily.  Beside her, Ritsuko
stared down at the data before her in disbelief.
 
     "Impossible!  Her wave pattern was never up-loaded
into Unit-01!  Hell, she never even did a test in it! 
There's no way she could be piloting it!"
 
     "Data shows that error-correction is being made
beyond Unit-01's piloting interface nodes!" Shigeru said,
highlighting the information before him.  "Unit-01 is
making the necessary corrections to the piloting program
itself!"
 
     "She always did like to take in strays," Fuyutsuki
noted quietly.  The man seated beside him made a
noncommittal grunting noise.
 
     "Can you all be a little more quiet," Asuka gripped
from inside the plug.  "It's hard enough piloting like
this without listening to all you busy-bodies."  She cut
the connection just as Misato was about to say something. 
Snarling, she tried to pull herself up higher in the
seat.  She wasn't exactly sitting in the seat, more like
draped across the comatose Shinji's lap, trying to pilot
while slouched sideways over his body and the controls. 
Damn uncomfortable.
 
     With a sudden blur, the Angel made one of its heart-
stopping charges and appeared right in front of her.  An
armful of steel thorns shot out towards her but she
ducked and dodged them all, coming up with progressive
knife in hand.  She shoved the controls forward and Unit-
01 leapt ahead, blade flashing.
 
     An iron limb intercepted the knife's path, the
vibrating blade piercing the arm but getting caught in
the process.  A twist of the limb pulled the knife out of
Unit-01's fingers as another appendage came around to
swat the mecha.  Turning into the strike Asuka caught the
metal weapon in her hands, the force of the impact
causing Unit-01's feet to dig up divots in the soft
earth.  
 
     Keeping hold of the metal limb Unit-01 then turned
away from the creature, stepping into the grasped limb as
it did so.  There was a horrible scream of metal being
torn asunder, then the spike-tipped limb broke off in a
jagged shower of shrapnel.
 
     A forest of bayonets flashed out towards where Unit-
01 would be if it stayed still or tried to dodge. 
Screaming defiance, Asuka held the broken limb like a
lance and moved into the one place the blades weren't
present.  With all the strength Unit-01 possessed, she
jumped forward and rammed the spiked tip of the Angel's
severed limb dead into the crimson eye of its S2 organ.
  
     There was an explosion of sparks as the weapon bit
into the angry red orb.  Thousands of sharp limbs flailed
wildly as the Angel reached madly for something to tear
apart.  Feet digging up clumps of earth, Asuka leaned
into the strike, putting Unit-01's whole weight behind
the thrust.  There was a sudden and audible crack as a
large fracture shattered through the red sphere.  With a
groan, the metal limbs of the creature jerked once more
before falling lifelessly to the ground and the main bulk
of the Angel collapsed hard.
 
     Asuka let out a sharp breath.  Looking behind her,
she checked Shinji and was relieved to see that although
unconscious, he was still breathing.  Flicking a switch,
she responded to the frantic demand from her
communications system.  "So," she asked the command
staff, a smirk on her face.  "Anything interesting happen
while I was out?"
 
     *         *         *
  
     "Ninety-three percent.  Nine-ty-three!  Aren't you
just sssooooo jealous?"
  
     Shinji groaned.  His bandaged head hurt and the
taunting he was having to deal with wasn't helping.  All
throughout dinner Asuka had made it a point of pride to
torture him.  While he was glad she was back to normal,
in future he'd be a little more careful about what he
wished for.
 
     "Well, I got to four hundred once," he whined.
 
     "Yeah, but the way I hear it they had to suck you
out of your entry plug with a straw.  I got ninety-three
in your Eva.  Ninety-three in yours.  Just imagine what I
can do in mine when they fix it."
 
     Shinji got up from the table.  "I'm going to bed,"
he informed the two women.  He would have fled earlier
but someone, loud and red-headed he suspected, had stolen
the batteries from his SDAT.  
 
     His shameful retreat from the battlefield brought no
solace as Asuka followed him to his room, happily
nattering at his back.  Reaching his door he turned to
face her, his throbbing head making him snappish.  "Are
you finished?  Or were you planning to follow me into my
room?"
 
     "In your dreams," she told him.  "My room's across
from your's, remember?"  She turned away from him and he
sighed in relief.  Maybe now he could get some peace and
quiet.
 
     Suddenly she spun back to face him.  Hands held
coyly behind her back, she lunged forward.  Caught by
surprise he jerked back, cracking his head painfully
against the sliding door.  Shoving her face in his, she
not quite, but almost touched him as her nose traced just
beside his cheek.  "Still," she breathed into his ear. 
"If you're good I might sing you a lullaby to those
dreams some time."
 
     Eyes wide, Shinji gaped stupidly as Asuka skipped
away, grinning.  She spun around on her toes and
disappeared into her room to leave him there in the hall,
stunned.  The pounding of his head was forgotten as the
smell of her hair and shampoo tickled in his nostrils.
 
     A long moment later he finally swallowed against a
very dry throat.  "Oh man...I really must have hit my
head too hard."
     
     *         *         *
  
     Once in her room, Asuka's chipper attitude fell from
her like a cloak.  A truly soul-weary exhaustion set in
as she staggered towards the bed.  Reaching it, she
flopped unceremoniously onto the covers.  For a moment
she fought with her clothes, then decided it wasn't worth
the effort to take them off.  Worming her way under the
sheets took up most of her remaining energy.  She sighed
as the warmth settled upon her, comforting and tranquil. 
This feeling brought forth a stray memory from her time
in Unit-01, the last few moments when she'd felt so
accepted and appreciated.   The thought worked its way up
to her conscious mind, then she tumbled over the edge
into sleep.
 
     *.....take good care of him for me.....*
  
-end-
 
 
--------------------
Author's Notes:
 
     This whole fic came about from wondering what
Shinji's mom would think about his choice of girlfriends. 
I think she'd approve.
  
     And as some feel the need to ask authors as to which
girl, Rei or Asuka, they like better, I find solace in a
Kuno-ism:
  
     "I would have you both!"   ^_^
 
     
 Mail:
     ddemaine@ualberta.ca
archive:
     www.worldgate.com/~greywolf
 
Darren Demaine
Chairman of the Horde
Horde O' Hentai Productions^Z
Greywolf@worldgate.ca
http://www.worldgate.ca/~greywolf