Looking Back
By: Dante Abbey

	An aging blue compact car pulled up to a stop at the curb
in front of the building, coughing a pale smoke from the 
exhaust pipe.  Slowly, it shuddered to a stop, coughing thrice 
more, then sat still, slowly settling on an unreliable suspension.
	"I told you we should have gotten a new car.  I wouldn't be 
surprised if this one died on the way back."  The wife stepped 
out of the passenger seat, standing in the morning sun.  Looking 
up towards the building from behind mirrored sunglasses, she 
could see a perfect blue sky that almost seemed to float above 
the roof.
	The husband extracted his keys from the ignition, and sighed.  
"I'm sorry...  It still works for now.  We'll get a new one next 
month."  On that, he turned towards the mother and child sitting 
in the back seat.  "We ready to go now?"
	The woman nodded, unbuckling her sleeping child and lifting it 
into her arms.  "Yes.  We can go now."
	The wife walked around the car, heading for the plaque mounted 
on the short wall next that surrounded the apartment block.  
"Hmm..," she muttered, reading.  "'Angel War Memorial Museum, Pilot 
Residence, Katsuragi Residence'."  She gasped.  "And that's 
what they're charging for admission?"
	"What do you expect?  They do have to maintain the artifacts, 
right?"  Her husband placed his arms around her waist from behind, 
embracing her.  "At least we're not paying for our children, too."
	There was a short pause, after which the wife frowned, and 
turned to face him.  "You're sure we can trust them with the 
baby sitter?  She looked a little young to me.  I don't like the idea of
 leaving them...alone, for so long."
	He shrugged.  "We had to learn about responsibility at her 
age, too, remember?  Besides, she's done all the courses, and 
she was taking care of the neighbour's kids last week..."
	"Shall we go in?  They are opening now."  Both were distracted 
by their travelling companion.  In her arms, the light-haired 
boy began to stir, yawning.
	The outer door opened, and they went through the lobby to 
the elevators.  The rest of the lobby and the spacious, airy 
atrium in the centre of the building had been sectioned off 
for the privacy of the building's permanent residents.

	During the years following the official end of the Angel War, 
the government had slowly begun purchasing the apartments 
surrounding that of the famed but now-defunct Major Misato 
Katsuragi.  Her command skills and tactical prowess had 
achieved legendary status, and the improvised battle plans she 
had developed from inspiration as far-fetched as rod fishing had 
become a much studied field in military academies around the world.
	Not only that, this building was also home to two of the pilots 
themselves, making it an idea choice for the museum site.
	The other residents had never really protested much, seeing as 
how they were well aware of the importance of these individuals 
for the survival of the human race.  There hadn't been many by 
the end of the War, either.  Most had already moved away.  Now, 
however, the apartments in the block were worth a fortune, and 
there were no vacancies.  Everyone who could afford it could now 
own an apartment in the same building as the one the pilots had 
once inhabited, a residence of heroes.
	Unfortunately, there were no pilots left to give their opinion or 
discuss the merits of the apartment block itself.  After the final 
battle had finally ended, there was nearly no one left.  
There was no surviving footage from that battle, so the exact 
fates of the Second and Third were never determined, nor that of 
the Major.  After the cleanup operations were completed, 
Vice-Commander Fuyutsuki made a press statement saying that 
there was almost nothing left of the two Evas, and, much as the 
First had sacrificed herself, it was almost certain that the two 
remaining pilots had likewise done the same to preserve the rest 
of humanity from the artificial Angels sent by SEELE.
	They were immediately lionized as martyrs, even prompting the 
formation of semi-religious sects and re-enactment buffs 
dedicated to the celebration of their work.  With all the media 
attention, it may well have been a good thing that the dead pilot's 
didn't have to face the public. 
 By the end, they were all so tired of it all that it had been very 
difficult to carry on.  The Second Child had been reported as having 
spent nearly a month in a deep coma, incapable of anything other 
than breathing.

	"I don't think we're parked legally..," muttered the wife as they 
rode the elevator to the penultimate floor.  These elevators only 
had two buttons, again for the privacy of the private residents.  
"You shoud've checked before we stopped."
	He stared at her, unable to articulate for a few long seconds.  
"But...  I...  Why didn't you say so earlier?  I...I could have found 
another parking spot."
	She laughed, poking him in the ribs.  "You're so gullible!  How many 
times have I said that?  I was just kidding, really."
	The other woman didn't say anything, but a slight smile lit up her 
face as she listened to them. 
 Finally, the boy woke up, begging his mother to put him down so 
that he could stand by himself.
  After a minute, she smiled fully, and set him down carefully.
	The doors opened on the other side of the elevator, and they 
found themselves in a darkened room with a holographic multimedia 
display playing an animation of the museum's name superimposed over 
NERV's logo.  After a short message about the educational goals and 
special features of the museum, they were ushered into the next 
room by a series of lights mounted in the floor and ceiling.
	The next room had once been part of another apartment, but the walls 
had all been knocked out to make space for the front desk.  After paying 
admission and receiving a trio of maps, the married couple decided to 
wait for a tour guide to take them through the premises.  The other 
woman was led on by her enthusiastic child into the first room, impatient 
to see first hand the stuff of legends.
	Around them, they could already see many of the artifacts.  Through the 
archway into the next room, there was an Entry Plug that had been cut 
in half along its long axis so that visitors could see where the pilots 
worked, and how they piloted.  There was a large fragment of armour, as 
thick as a man was tall, standing next to the Entry Plug.
	In the other direction, there was a model of Tokyo-3, the Geofront 
and the Command Centre, with glowing lines of lights traced through 
the model to indicate the exit gates and armament buildings.
	Right on schedule, a man appeared, almost out of nowhere, and 
addressed them and the other visitors who had been arriving.  
"Welcome to the Angel War Memorial Museum!  This tour will take us 
through the exhibits and, finally, the apartment of the pilots and the 
Major.  Feel free to ask any questions!"
	After introducing himself, the guide began the tour.  They started in 
the room with the models, where the context of the War was displayed 
in large text on the walls, along with satellite footage of Second Impact 
and the various other preliminary events that had preceded the War.

	Of course, the explanation about the Angels was extremely perfunctory, 
and the authors of the texts had carefully mentioned that most of 
the information contained in that particular exhibit was mostly conjecture 
proposed by some of the world's leading scientists after the War was 
already over.
	In fact, quite a few exhibits were treated in this way, explaining nearly 
nothing, yet seeming to have a lot of actual substance.  NERV and the 
government still kept tight controls over all files and data related to 
the thirteen official incidents involving Angels.
	Others, however, were considerably more complete, especially those 
detailing the technical aspects of the weaponry and interface systems.  
In one room sat the trigger of a Palette Rifle, a giant curved claw of 
metal that had once served in the War.  The walls were covered in diagrams 
and short essays, and some even had accompanying video taken during 
actual Angel conflicts.  These, however, paled in comparison to the much 
larger videos playing on the screen in the next room, where a narrator 
retold some of the more important battles.  Of course, there was a 
warning about disturbing content, and the couple's friend had opted 
against bringing her son into the theatre.
	One of the incidents in the collage of official tapes was that of the 3rd 
	The three dimensional holographic display nearly exaggerated the 
octagonal shape of the Angel to the audience, who gasped in collective 
horror as it opened fire at Unit-01 for the first time. 
 The audio had still included the pilot's scream, unedited.
	With a reassuring voice, the narrator explained Major Katsuragi's risky 
operation Yashima, and they watched a time-compressed clip of the 
Positron Sniper Rifle's assembly in one of NERV's hangars.  The Angel's 
fiery defeat went down particularly well with the museum's visitors.  An old 
man got up on his bench to cheer, drawing hushes from the others.
	The husband smiled at his wife, and the film continued.  It became quickly 
apparent, even through heavy editing, that the battles were becoming 
more and more intense, and that humanity had come extremely close 
to complete and utter destruction many times.
	They both shuddered involuntarily as the narrator suggested the 
psychologically destructive capacities of the last Angel on the clip.  
This time, the pilot's howls of pain and pleas for mercy had been cut out, 
sparing the visitors her heart-rending cries.
	Nevertheless, everyone left the theatre with even greater respect for 
the Children, and not a little gratitude.  While the tour guide was not 
disrespectful, he had seen the clips enough times to have become fairly 
blasˇ about them, and carried on the tour as he had before the group had 
entered the theatre.
	"I really don't like him," whispered the wife.  The husband agreed.
	Finally, they came to the museum's centrepiece.  They exited the theatre 
onto the balcony-like hallway of the apartment complex, and the tour guide 
brought them to a door marked only by the simple inscription 'M. Katsuragi'.  
Cameras were pulled out of their bags, flashes turned off, films loaded.
	"Please keep your hands to yourselves," the guide announced, leading 
them through the door into the first room, the kitchen.  He took up his 
station here, ready to answer the questions he knew would be coming.
	The husband and wife had none, as they stepped deeper into the 
apartment, looking around.

	For tourism purposes, the lights had been changed, replaced by stronger, 
clearer bulbs that illuminated the walls with more clarity than they had 
before.  As with the rest of the museum, security cameras were mounted 
in the ceiling.  Much had changed.
	For example, the guide pointed out to someone, one of the lesser know 
facts about the Major was the fact that she was a severe alcoholic, and 
that the apartment had been found filled with discarded cans of beer and 
bottles of spirits.  After the video, though, the visitors thought they 
could understand why.
	After glancing around the nearly prohibitively small quarters of the Third 
Child, the patriotic old man stood up in the kitchen and delivered an oration 
praising the humbleness of the Children.  He went on to say that they could 
have demanded riches or whatever they chose in exchange for their bodies and 
souls, but chose only the simplest of things.
	Soon, the tour group was roiling with applause for the speech; and the 
husband and wife smiled, glanced at each other, and joined in heartily.
	After the furor died away, they continued their exploration of the 
apartment, looking into each room, even that of the pet penguin that had 
once inhabited the premises.  They looked at the Second Child's wardrobe, 
the Third Child's cello, the Major's car posters.  They went out onto the 
balcony and looked out of the circular lake that had once been Tokyo-3.  
A new city had sprung up around its outskirts, the inhabitants proud just 
to be near the site of so many battles and sacrifices.  It was truly inevitable, 
but strange at the same time.
	Certainly, the old cityscape, the one that the pilots would have seen, was no 
longer there.  The majestic buildings that had formed the core of the city 
no longer moved up and down according to their daily schedule.

	Like everything else from the past, they were only to be seen in 
memories, fading pictures, and monuments like this one.  The same was 
true for those who had once made the very sacrifices for humanity.
	The public's vision was a clouded one, their version of events edited and 
controlled by a government that knew all to well the power of knowledge.  
What was presented to the public was indeed a dirty, savage story, but 
so much was left unsaid, left to rot.  The only ones who would ever know 
the truth, the whole truth, were those who no longer existed.
	Perhaps it really was better that way.

	The couple stood on the balcony a while longer, watching the perfect sky 
over the city, and the lake that was testament to so much pain and suffering, 
wondering how others could see it as a place of glory.

	"Mom, I'm hungry.  Can we go now?"  They turned together as they heard 
the voice of the other woman's son behind them.
	"Yeah," added the wife, casting one last glance back over the city, "I think it 
would be best if we left now."
	Not much later, they rode the elevator back down to the ground floor, walked 
past the security guards and arrived in front of the beat-up blue car.  The 
husband noticed a slip of paper tucked under the windshield wiper.
	"Oh..," he said, taking it out, "looks like we were parked badly after all."
	"Dummkopf," the wife chided, "I told you so.  Let's get out of here, if this 
stupid car will start again."
	As she leaned over to buckle up the child, who was still complaining of hunger, 
Rei quietly asked Shinji if it would be inconvenient to purchase a meal before 
leaving Tokyo-3 again.  Listening to her own stomach's complaints, Asuka 
agreed, then returned to nagging him about getting a new car as it 
sputtered to life again.

Just taking a quick break from writing AotL tonight...  I'll have more completed 
by the end of the March break, hopefully.  This was just a weird idea that popped 
into my head, and wouldn't leave. 
 Had to get it down, otherwise the interference would have severely 
compromised my progress on the other one.  And no, this is not how AotL will end.

You can send me C+C at