The Manga Chronicles - Chapter 6 - BG_Character_592 (2024)

Chapter Text

1. [Lovesick]

The lunch rush had come and gone at this point, leaving Kaworu and Mari sitting alone in the bathroom.

Mari seemed to have calmed down enough at this point… "You two were close, then?"

'Heh… yeah.'

Her form stepped out from Kaworu, leaning on the door of the cubical to look him in the face. "I… I've t-thought about it, Ash. We- heh… we were close. No d-denying that."

"Seems her feelings were more, though."

"Mhm…" She'd sigh. "She's stubborn. She probably didn't w-wanna admit she was gay or something."

"Did she have opinions about that?"

"I mean some folks d-do struggle with realizing that, especially if your f-folks are a bit on the stricter side."

"Were hers?"

"I mean… yeah kinda." She'd grumble. "She'd always fight against them t-though… or at least she would. No idea if she would n-nowadays…"

A pause, before Mari leaned her head on the bathroom partition. "S-Still… I… I never knew she felt that way for me, Ash. That… f*ck… that's something to grapple."

"…Did you have feelings for her?"

"I mean of course I did!" Remarking with enthusiasm. "I loved her! But I thought she was straight as a board!"

"You still love her."

"Ah-" That got caught in her throat. "…Okay. I do. And… I wouldn't be lying if I said I wished it could be something more, back then. But again, I didn't know she felt t-that way, so I didn't pursue it."

"Do you want to pursue it?"

Turning to him. "Ash. I don't want to return. It… it'll be t-too painful for them."

"They miss you, Mari."

"I know!" She'd shout out.

To Kaworu's quiet.

"I… I know…" Head in her hands, her astral form visibly wavering in her emotional stress. "I… just…"

Slowly walking to Kaworu, and letting her form merge back. '…I need a moment, Ash.'

Another small quiet. "I understand."

He'd make his leave from the bathroom stall.

Derek's phone would go off, while he was in his study period. "Ooh look at mister popular Eva pilot!"

"You wouldn't think that with how Yomiko treats me, Marcy." In an eye roll, checking his texts.

And his mood visibly shifting negative. "Oof, is that from the top?"

"Even worse it's Trixie." As he read through the text. "Oi loser, Kaworu is trawling through the school for some sort of disturbance in case he decides to barge in on you-"

Immediately flipping his phone down on the screen. "You don't need to know the next bit Marcy!"

Much to her giggling. "She joking about your partner or something?"

"One, we are not in a relationship, and two, she was referring to you."

"Well, I am flattered but you are not my type honestly." In her typical brutal bluntness.

"Aww what for?"

"Me being lesbian probably doesn't help your case buddy."

"Y'know what that's fair." Glancing back to his work for a brief moment. "I thought you were demi?"

"Oh in effect it's lesbianism, let's be honest." Shrugging it off. "Simpler to explain than demisexual, even if that's closer to how I feel. To be honest I never even thought I could feel that way for anyone." She'd give a dreamy sigh. "But gosh just something about those two…"

"Geez and I thought Trixie could get sappy about her partner…"

"Oh c'mon Derek, surely you've had someone you fawned over!"

"Not really y'know, it just never really interested me." Idly conversing. "Like, I'm a boy so I've obviously seen p*rn and all that, but it never did anything for me."

"Yeah that's fair, what about things like dating or even just seeing someone cute on the street?"

"Not really that either, honestly."

Marcy blinked. "You sure you're not ace?"

A blink and a furrowing of the brow. "Ace?"

"Ooh okay okay, let me teach you something today young Derek!" She seemed rather giddy at being able to show him the way. "Okay so within the whole LGBTQ so on umbrella, there exist categories that define people that don't feel anything towards that sorta thing. You have aromantics, meaning they don't feel romantic feelings towards anyone, and then you have asexuals, who don't feel sexual desire or feeling for anyone."

She'd pull off one of the velcro patches on her school bag. "That's the ace flag. I thought I was a combination of the two for the longest time; never really felt that attraction for anything, and yeah the idea of sex never really appealed to me."

"Surely you've… uhh… what's the euphemism for women?"

"Oh flick the bean?"

That got him confused even more.

"Do I need to teach you an anatomy lesson too?" She'd snicker. "I don't think Yomiko would appreciate that too much! Or my girls for that matter… but yeah of course I tried it! Same as any boy would try jerking it! But nah, never really did anything for me. I dunno maybe I wasn't doing it right or something, because boy when I realized I felt something for my girls…" That got her giggling, playing with her hair.

"Is everyone here just open about that sorta thing?"

"Yeah that's something you're gonna learn quickly Derek!" With a playful nudge. "We're all pretty open about it. But yeah, if you are ace you're probably gonna struggle with understanding that sorta culture."

"I mean don't get me wrong it makes me curious, but more from an analytical point of view instead of trying to get my wick wet or anything."

Much to her snicker. "And I appreciate that! Because yeah, I am well and truly taken at this point."

"Overbooked more like."

"Ah we make it work." In another snicker.

Luckily they were able to curtail the discussion when a certain Nephilim walked in. "I heard you were roaming around."

"When there's potential threats to your safety."

"I think I can protect myself, thank you very much."

"Oh you're the superman dude Gus mentioned!" Marcy cheered. "Are you sure you could protect yourself if that's who they're sending?"

Kaworu blinked. "I've had worse nicknames. Everything seems in order at the very least, apologies for the disturbance." He would bow out, closing the door behind him.

"I like him."

"He's weird."

"Everyone here is weird Derek it's Canterlot!"

Kaworu would soon report to Mabel. "I heard you were busy today!" She cheered, before frowning. "Nicole isn't happy about that crater you left in her front yard."

"I offer her my sincere apologies." He'd bow. "I had felt a metaphysical presence at the school. I wanted to ensure there was nothing that could hurt the pilots."

Now that explanation took her aback. "Crud… well, we know we have the Incubators to deal with now. Wouldn't surprise me if there were more out there…"

"It's possible that they know of the pilots." He'd remark. "We are not exactly subtle with the Evangelion, and they are enigmatic enough to gather information from anywhere they can."

"No, no, you have a point there Kaworu…" Her fingers would rap on the table in thought. "Think we might be able to have you shadow them while they're at school? We'll just enrol you as a student on their same days they go so you have a presence in case things hit the fan."

"That is a good idea Commander." He'd agree. "I am sure Mari would appreciate being able to return as well."

Her figure appeared and pouted at him. "You set it up…"

"You do not have to make your presence known if you do not feel like it, Mari."

"Oooh… he's playing to your pride now Marzipan!"

"I know Chief and I don't like it…" She'd grumble. "But yeah, h-he has a point. Not a good idea leaving the p-pilot candidates without someone like Ash supervising him."

"Alrighty then, I'll give Nicky a ring then." Mabel thought. "I'd say you should be good to start on the Thursday they're back."

"I look forward to it, Commander." Bowing, and making his leave.

"What about you, Mari? What do you feel about all that?" In pensive thought. "I know the school was really shaken up about what happened."

"Mhm, I know that… but I think-"

Her apparition would unceremoniously cut off as the door closed.

Mabel blinked. "Oh it's a physical link to him. I was wondering how that worked…"

Mari meanwhile was now staring into the door. "Okay, that's kinda annoying…" Before returning to Kaworu. 'Well… looks l-like I'm going back whether I want to or not…'

"As I said, Mari… you do not have to be actively present if you feel you are not ready for it."

She'd pause for a moment. 'I… I will have to think a-about that, Ash.'

A fifteen thousand dollar excavator was never going to be the best in terms of quality, but they were getting the job done! "Field Commander ma'am!" One of her staff would salute.

"At ease." Wendy would dismiss. "How goes the excavation?"

"We've made good progress today, currently fifty percent of the estimated way down. Barring any more mechanical failure we should have the ramp down done by tomorrow evening."

"Well now we're gonna get more mechanical failure, ain't we Thunderlane?"

He only had a nervous look to say for that. "Any issue from the wildlife today?" Wendy continued.

"No ma'am, they seem to be staying away from us for the time being."

"One less thing to worry about…" In a grumble. "Good thing too, I really don't wanna start shooting them… anyway, I'll let you get back to it Thunderlane."

"Ma'am yes ma'am!" Saluting, before returning to the excavator.

It took a very long time to start up, him giving her a very nervous look.

"If that thing breaks down it's coming out of your paycheck!" Turning around, and retiring to the communications tent. "Oy… freakin hate this place."

Back on the satellite phone. "Hey tiger!"

"Where'd that nickname come from?" Dipper would drolly remark over the line.

"Eh, thought it'd fit, might have to workshop it a bit more…" In a snicker. "Things are actually going okay here, if you wanted an update."

"Those excavators holding up?"

"We've already had a hydraulic leak on one of them but we patched it up."

"With what?"

"Bubble gum and a zip tie."

"Right." He didn't sound too keen on that fix.

"Hey… are the pilots back in yet?"

There was a brief pause, presumedly he was checking. "Yeah the Magi checked them in at home half an hour ago."

"Good, good, hey could you do me a favor and redirect this line to them? I… well-"

"You're being a good mom and checking in on your kids."

"Yeah! Wait-"

That got her blushing something fierce. "Oh for God's sake Dip…"

"Hey, I like that in my women! Not dissing it or anything!"

That thought just got her blushing more. "Yeah yeah just redirect me before I die of embarrassment Dip!"

"Alright alright… but we pay a lot for satellite cell y'know. Iridium are changing us fifty bucks a minute!"

"I'll buy dinner for us when I get back!"

"Well why didn't you say so, I'll get you redirected now!"

"Yeah yeah, pleasure doing business with you and all that…"

All she heard was a raspberry over the phone, before the line redirected to another dial tone.

"Feh, you're just as bad as Mabel when you wanna be… oh hi Trixie!" As she picked up. "Can you chuck it on speaker? I wanna speak with all of you!"

A lone owl sat on a tree branch close to the communications tent.

It would hear everything being said. "Hmpf, still indoctrinating kids into your cult… can't help but feel sorry for them."

She knew abstractly they would have had to get new pilots for that sortie (not that it was difficult to see for her; America may have had their TV stations blacked out during the whole thing, but Canada weren't obliged to!). Even that… whatever they were, flying around.

That had concerned her. "The files did say they were exploring this… enhancement on humanity."

Nephilim, the files had called them. Whether that became their official name or not, she was still unsure about. Either way, it was a mixture of progenitor and human DNA, most likely Adam's, stashed away in the Geofront.

"Concerning they have made such advancements on the concept…"

At the time of her… well, incident, Nephilim were really nothing more than a concept. There were to be some tests performed by the Tokyo branches later that year, according to what she could gather, and of course what Seele did is a whole separate story in of itself. Obviously, those tests had generated results.

"Wonder if that's why they wanted us to test on Abigail… to see how artificial enhancement would go."

The photos on the television were spotty… But she already knew just who he was. Rostered pilot Kaworu Nagisa. She didn't know much about him; joined up as pilot in 2015, and before that is anyone's guess. But really, with how intertwined they were, it was most likely Seele's…

"To be just a boy and to become this… supersolder. Bound to their whims. I pity him."

Back to the conversation at hand, however… "I can only hope you do not befall that same fate, young pilots."

She was just about to leave; her energy reserves were starting to run low.

At least until she heard a name. "…Wait."

Flying closer to the tent, landing on top of the awning…

"How are we feeling after all that, Trix?"

There was a sigh over the line. "I… I appreciate you telling me about Chryssi. I needed that… Did you find anything else out about her? Or… or mom?"

"Nothing related to those two unfortunately… and our next lead got blown up by something." In a mutter. "But I'll let you know if we find anything okay?"

There were around three people in her life that called her that. Two of them shared a name, and one of those two died alongside her. This left really only one option in her mind.

"Trixie's a pilot."

Her mind would freeze like an old computer. Her… well, she damn well treated her like her own daughter. A pilot.

Subject to them.


From Quebec to Alberta would have been a bit over two thousand miles, as the owl flies. She needed to check for herself. Trixie… no, she couldn't be a pilot. She couldn't believe it, she refused to believe it.

The whole reason they moved over there was to get her as far and away from this as they could!

But first… she had to sort out her energy. Gather some for her ability, and release some of the nervous energy she had thrust into her.

Flying into the woods, and blinking into her wolf counterpart, she would gather her pack.

She needed to eat.

Wendy would shudder as she heard the cries of the wolf pack in the distance. "God I hate the animals here…"

She would shoulder her rifle, as did those around her. "Remember, gentlemen. Animals are shoot on sight."

"Ma'am yes ma'am!"

Wendy would look to the woods in apprehension. "God knows what's out there, but whatever it is… I don't think they're too happy at us."

The snow would begin fall in the ancient city of [Abram], the long night starting to settle in. "I… think I know her."

"Indeed you do." But Lilith's expression was one of melancholy. "If you were hoping [Esther]'s story was akin to [Jebediah]'s…"

"It's getting really late so I better use the stairs…" [Esther] would mutter to herself. "C… can't go another night without it."

"…Without a lover?"

"Indeed. We could go a time without having someone to share ourselves with, but… eventually you get to a point where you need to. But you need to be aware of it."

"And if you aren't?"

Another pensive look. "You will find out."

[Esther] meanwhile would breathe a sigh of relief, having found a room that was still open for someone to spend a night with. "Okay… I hope they're good to me. The last few…" Eyes closed as she thought. "Stay hopeful, [Esther]… your [Parents] would have wanted it…"

The door opened. "…Hi. I'm [Esther]." Her nerves were apparent. "I would like to spend the night with you."

The man at the door didn't have anything to say, merely leading her in.

Lilith would not follow. "How… did this go?"


It would cut to her in her own apartment again, the next night. She sat on her bed, staring at the wall. "I… I can't do that again…"

Rei would look over her… and notice bruising on her neck. "Oh… f*ck."

"We… had our issues too. Generally, this is a mutually beneficial transaction. But… of course, the bad apples exist. And we were the most vulnerable to it." Referring to herself not as Lilith but as a woman. "Even in this relatively modern time, and even more so in prior times, there would be little recourse for a woman if something… terrible were to happen."

Her hands were still trembling at the experience, whatever it was it was harrowing to her. "…I can't do this anymore. Wh… why do we need others anyway? I've gone several nights without that… I should be fine to just… go without. Right?"

Lilith would wander beside [Esther]… sitting beside her, and running a comforting hand over her head… of course, [Esther] wouldn't have felt that, this had long since happened. But still…

"The poor girl had been through a tough life. She would be equivalent to a teenager in your years, perhaps having only just crossed the threshold into adulthood. The line was always fuzzy for us. Even if you were to start pursuing this sort of thing earlier, you were generally considered the equivalent of an adolescent for the first thirty thousand years, if we are to use your time."

"How old was she?"

"Twenty five thousand, more or less."

Lilith looked to her, [Esther] struggling to keep her emotions under wraps. "Within her 2000s she had both of her parents [Fade]. This… left her in a difficult situation." Lilith too struggled to keep her emotion in check. "Thrown between foster parents, she never got the learning she needed to properly socialise in a FAR context."

"It does seem like something that is more learned than what comes naturally."

"We need to be social beings to survive, [Daugther]. Part of raising your child is to teach them how to find others to call their own. It's important."

"[E]… [E…ster] was failed then."

"We were not perfect. No society is. And I will readily admit that, no matter how I may frown upon how human society has ended up."

"So… what happened to [E…ster] then?"

It would cut to a week or so later.

[Esther] was sat in a corner, her knees to her chest.

Her expression blank and her breathing rapid.

"When… we don't receive enough [Warmth], and we can't regain the energy we need to survive… we enter a state that we call [Lovesickness]."

Rei would watch on [Esther] in grave concern. "She's… not moving?"

"It is a near catatonic state. Your body is so deprived of energy that it enters an emergency shutdown of sorts. The issue with that is that it tends to become terminal at that stage; you are unable to resolve it yourself when you get to this stage. And… before too long, without anyone to intervene, you [Fade]."

Turning to [Esther] briefly… even Lilith couldn't bear to look at her for long in this state. "She isn't unique in this regard, unfortunately. A lot of us ended up [Fading] because they lost interest in pursuing [Warmth]. It's a slow and lonely demise, one of the most depressing ways one of us could [Fade]…"

"I… presume she didn't, though?"

There were some desperate bangs on her door. "[Esther]! Can you hear me?!"

She wouldn't even flinch.

"Eventually, she would be, yeah…" Another glance to the catatonic girl. "Lucky for her, she had some neighbours who were concerned for her welfare..."

The door would be broken down, and what appeared to be paramedics would rush in. "Oh [Guardian] she might be [Terminal]…

One of the paramedics would immediately grapple [Esther] pulling her into a tight hug, to no reaction on her part. "Hey… I'm here. Don't… don't [Fade] on me okay?" They would whisper into her ear. "You don't have to end your [Chain] like this. Please…"

It would be several quiet moments as this paramedic kept [Esther] in his arms, nuzzling into her… giving her as much [Warmth] as he could muster, while their offsider would triage and offer medical support to the withered girl, monitoring her heart rate and breathing. "No injuries, though she has been sat here for a while…"

The girl blinked, slowly… awareness would return, ever so slowly. "…W… where am… where…"

"Shh…" The paramedic would quell, running a hand through her hair. "I'm… I'm glad you're here, [Esther]."

"W… where…"

"Can you come with us please?"

"O… okay…" Was all she could mutter, still almost unfeeling and unconscious.

On what amounted to a stretcher, the paramedic would pull the girl onto his chest, holding her close and running a hand down her body. "…You're gonna be okay, [Esther]. I promise you."

"I… okay…"

[Esther] still appeared expressionless as the paramedic offered their [Warmth], gently kissing the top of her head. "Oh thank you [Guardian]…" They'd softly praise. "I'm here, okay? You're gonna be okay…"

"Wh… what's… your name?"

"My name is [Michael]. I will keep you safe, okay?"

"T… thank you… mmgh…" Grimacing in pain. "i-it hurts…"

"Shh…" Another quelling, hand through her hair. "Rest, okay? Rest as long as you need."

The other paramedic would orbit around her, inserting what amounted to an IV in her arm, drip feeding some sort of solution, as they wheeled her out.

Lilith could only sigh at the display. "What you just saw was… uhh, [Lovesickness Brigade]. Closest analogy I have for you is a paramedic, but that was also a line of work for more medical emergencies."

"So… this was more bespoke for [L…]-" Clearing her throat. "[Lovesic-]- [Lovesickness]."


"…And it is this dire for your kind?"

"Indeed." Lilith would follow behind the paramedics, willing Rei beside her. "In most of our time, it was the leading cause of premature death. I… can't really overstate how important being with others was to us. It was fundamental. [Lovesickness] is in essence our [Spirit] fading."

A look to Rei. "One… of the few advantages the soul has is that it essentially acts as a vessel for your spirit. It cannot fade away, but the disadvantage of that is it's more difficult to open up."

"We manage."

Lilith would smirk at that bravado. "Indeed you have." Before an eye roll. "And humanity does not need more ways they can die, to be frank."

"We are not that death obsessed."

"More humans have died in ten thousand years than the total population of FAR, living or dead."

"When you put it that way, it is rather damning."

From the apartment they would step through a doorway into another room. "With [Lovesickness], it tends to take several of our years to fully recover from it. Perhaps one or two of your years. Not much in comparison, but it requires signifiant input and rehabilitation."

The room they were in was padded, walls and floor. There was a window with a thick roller shutter, and a fireplace behind a fence that was filling the room with warmth. In the middle of the room was a large and plush looking bed.

[Esther] would be rolled in, [Michael] still holding her. "…Okay, [Esther]?"

She'd glance up to him.

"We're gonna move you to the bed, okay?"


Sneaking out from under her, he would lift her off the stretcher and onto the bed. "Okay… there you go." Letting her rest her back on his chest.

"How…" Closing her eyes and quietly sighing… she was still quite visibly quivering at this point. "How… long will I be here?"

"You're in a pretty bad state, [Esther]. We're gonna keep you here for around [Twenty] [Years], anything after that will be based on how you go."

She didn't have much reaction to that. "O… okay…"

Rei would whisper to Lilith. "She's essentially been institutionalised, hasn't she?"

"It is akin to that, yes." In a solemn nod. "Though in this state, you cannot really say someone has their faculties present. Right now, I'd say she's still in an emergency state, barely aware of her surroundings. It'd surprise me if she consciously remembered this."

[Michael] would rest his head on her shoulder. "May… I lighten your load?"

"Mmgh… please…" Her head would nudge his. "I… [Warmth]… please…"

Slowly, carefully, [Michael] would remove her clothing. "We'll get those cleaned up, don't worry…"

There was a slight nervous sound from the girl. "Is this too much?"

"N-no… I… need…"

"Shh… I'll keep going then."

Lilith would lean down to Rei. "I hope this isn't disturbing to see for you… I know this may seem like taking advantage of someone… but it's the best way to help them recover from such state."

"I… I understand."

Some assistants would file in, one collecting her clothing, and the other bringing in a portable bath of sorts, the water visibly steaming. "Let's get you cleaned up okay?"

"O… okay…"

He would carry her, bridal style, and gently lower her into the bath. "M… mmgh…" She'd sigh, relaxing. "[G…] [Guardian…]"

"Is this okay?"

A slight nod, her eyes closing. "T… thank you…"

"There's something rather…" Rei would try to find the words. "Loving about this. I'm assuming [Michael] is a volunteer?"

"A paid volunteer, yes. And it does take a certain character to do this line of work… to take the time to rebuilding someone from that dire a state."

[Michael] was currently sponging her down, working the grime out of [Esther]. "You can tell this is what he loves, though. This is what he wants to do in his life… there's something rather noble about that."

Meanwhile [Esther] was very much relaxed. "I'm… I'm sorry…"

"Whatever for?"

"It's… I'm asking a lot of you… You have to tend to me for that long… I don't deserve it…"

"Everyone is deserving of love, [Esther]. You are too."

"I… I guess…"

"Part of the rehabilitation is also figuring out why they would get [Lovesick], and then giving them the education and training to prevent it from happening again. In time they will rehabilitate her… but for now…"

"C… can you join me, [Michael]?" Glancing up to him, with a tired look. "I… need you… please."

"Of course, [Esther]."

He'd too strip down, sliding into the bathtub behind her… holding her close to his chest. "Mmgh… thank you…"

"Whatever you need while you're here, [Esther]… I will give to you. Okay?"

"Ahh… okay…"

Her eyes closed again, and she relaxed into him… "…May… you give me your [Warmth] after this?"

"I can, yes."

"T… thank you… I… I need you… [Michael]…"

A hand rested on Rei's shoulder. "We should leave them here."

"…Yes." Rei appeared melancholic. "We should."

The scene faded from view, as they returned to the astral. "Will… will we eventually require the same?"

"Eventually." Lilith thought. "If humanity are to eventually becoming akin to the FAR… that would also mean your spirits migrate to such system. With all the advantages and disadvantages that it will bring."

"Do you think we will be ready for such thing?"

"In humanity's current state? No. But that far in the future? Perhaps." With a slight smile. "I am confident that my children will reach that point."

Lilith rested a hand on Rei's shoulder. "I will see you tomorrow night, [Daughter]."

And with that, Rei was back in the real world.

Back in her bed.

It felt so empty at this point. "I… I think I'll be needing warmth soon enough too…"

Once more their alarm would buzz out. "Gah I f*cking-"

The alarm clock was suddenly an ex-alarm clock, Asuka throwing it against the wall in reply to its shrill tone.

Shinji would barely even budge in reply. "Mmgh… how does that look to you?'

"Like daggers in my brain."

"Not great then?"

"Would you like it if I shoved a dagger in your brain?"

"I mean it doesn't sound pleasant but I doubt I'd have too much of an opinion on that after the fact."

A beat. "You know, that's understandable."

Unfortunately it was another regular day, and that meant school. "So I suppose that concludes it then." Rei would remark, joining Shinji and Asuka on the walk over.

"Mhm, looks like we're swapping!" Asuka cheered. "Don't worry, Kaworu will treat you well Shin-chan!"

"Why does everyone assume I'm going to be the bottom?"

"I mean you would struggle to top him anyway."

"What do you mean by that?"

Rei whispered into Shinji's ears.

"Oh." He blinked. "How does that even work?"

"The solenoid disposes of all the wastes."

"Is that the same with you too?"

To that Rei would give him an unamused stare.

"Right, dumb question…"

"Hey guys!"

The three of them turned to see Hikari, with Toji well and firmly in tow, one of her arms wrapped around his. "Thank you for the advice last night Rei, I think I needed it!"

"It was my pleasure." A nod and a smile.

"Oh it was you that spoke with her, why am I not surprised." Muttered Toji.

"Why are you complaining?"

"Hikari? I have a question for you."

"Mhm?" Turning to Asuka.

"If I were to say we were swapping partners, so I'm going with Rei and Shinji's going with Kaworu, how would you react?"

"I'd ask if you were trying to get a rise out of me."

A beat.

"Wait you're actually doing that?"

Asuka would nod.

"Hmpf, I will not grace you with a remark then." Turning her head away in a pout.

"Aww c'mon Hikari!" Prodded Asuka. "I'm sure you of all people would have words to say about us swapping lovers!"

"I will not! I refuse to indulge!"

Toji gave Shinji a flat look. "Lemme guess where you sit in the bedroom, Shin-man."

"Why does everyone assume that!?"

"Hey you're the bottom in our relationship!" Asuka cheered, before turning in the direction of Hikari. "Maybe I should try pegging you to prepare you, Shin-chan!"

"I'm not indulging in your collective degeneracy, Asuka!"

Asuka and Hikari would keep going back and forth, even as Shinji flushed in sheer embarrassment.

"Oh lighten up Shin-man it's not that bad." Toji would eye-roll.

It took Shinji perhaps like ten seconds to pick up on the implication. "Eh? You and-"

To which Toji promptly slapped a hand over his mouth. "If Hikari finds out I told you she's gonna tear my head off, but… yeah." With a sidewards glance. "Wanted to show me how it's like for a girl and I didn't wanna look like a pansy in front of her."

Shinji promptly shoved his hand off his mouth. "So what, you took it up there to prove you weren't a pansy?"

"The things you do for the women in your life eh…" He'd grimly snicker. "I'm sure you'd know how that's like."

He was still very embarrassed at the subject matter. "What's… the best way to handle it?"

"Only real advice I have is to relax."

"I'll…" He gulped. "I'll keep that in mind."

The doors to the makeshift reading room would open. "Alright, who's excited to see how poorly things go today?"

"Now that's the spirit we want Hikari!" Misato cheered. "What changed?"

"A few words from Rei."

"She encouraged you to lay with Toji didn't she?"

While Hikari had no comment, Rei would eagerly nod.

"God damn it we're trying to get you guys therapy! You don't need to substitute sex with it!"

"How is that going by the way?"

"Our candidate accepted our offer!" Misato would cheer. "She'll make a start with us around June!"

"Oh thank God I think I need therapy…" Mused Asuka, taking her seat. "Well? Tell us about her!"

"Okay so her name is Sasha, she's gotten pretty good grades at her school, and-"

"Wait, she's a student?"

"Yeah, she's in second year of high school. We're getting her into her training early so she'll be going straight into her tertiary studies!"

Asuka didn't seem that enthusiastic about the prospect. "See when I imagine a shrink I imagine someone with like years of life experience and an actual qualification."

"Look I said we needed to find someone we could essentially induct into NERV, this way we can essentially mould her into who you need without you guys having to worry about whether you're allowed to spill the beans or not. Best way of doing that is to find someone fresh, and Sasha fits that mould."

"What about the life experience aspect?"

"Believe me, Rei." Mari would remark. "She d-definitely has that."

"Do you know her?"

There wasn't a reply to that. "It's complicated." Was all Kaworu remarked.

"And that's why we need a therapist." Was all Eliza commented. "I think we all need it."

"At least you're barely a few months old, Eliza."

"I can be young and still require therapy, Zero Two."

"Jeez not already eh?" Concerned Maya.

"After this I think we'll all be needing therapy." Hikari dully remarked. "Should we make a start?"

"Sounds like you just wanna get it over and done with."

"I mean the quicker we do get through it…"

Character Key:
Shinji (S) Asuka (A)
Rei (R) Kaworu (K) Mari (Mar) Hikari (Hik)
Misato (Mi) Maya (May) Eliza (E)
Hiro (Hir) Zero Two (Z)

Note: This uses the Viz Comics English adaptation of the manga.
Double spread pages are indicated with dashes: '4-5'.
If multiple pages are referenced in a block, it will be indicated with commas: '6, 7, 8'

2.27: The Party

107 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
Mi: "Dangerous game you're playing there, Kaji…"
May: "He loves it doesn't he… Do we even know what he's doing over there right now?"
Mi: "Whatever it is…" Glaring to the pilots. "He's got a few big days ahead."
Asuka would roll her eyes. "So much for telling us everything."
Mi: "What Kaji is doing isn't even on our books Asuka, it's beyond NERV at that point."
Hik: "Well at least we look cute on the cover, Asuka!" She cheered, before her expression immediately flattened. "Why am I in focus? What's gonna happen to me?"
S: "Ah, you're learning."
E: "Maybe it's a birthday party of some sort!"
Hik: "My birthday's in February."
Mar: "Well maybe we're just celebrating b-being alive!"
Z: "It does seem to be a thing we do, huh…"
R: "When there are so many things that could kill you, we ought to celebrate it every day."
Hik: "Maybe I should start doing that…"
K: "And so should Kaji at this point."
Hik: "Wait so the Marduk Institute is fake?"
Misato would give a long sigh. "Yeah that wasn't really a secret to the pilots."
Hik: "So… when they picked me, that was more you guys picking me?"
Mi: "More or less."
Hik: "Okay…" Side-eyeing the commander. "So… you guys just had my mom bottled up ready to go then?"
The silence that followed was deafening. "Oy… yeah, we did. And the other students too… everyone in your class was a potential pilot candidate."
Hik: "What happened to the rest of them?"
Misato looked sullen. "Rei… would know."
R: "Destroyed. By the previous administration."
Mi: "Didn't even know about that myself honestly…" Like an old shame to her. "But… you know exactly who you can blame for that."
Pointing to the man in question, as the manga depicted him.
Hikari would stare at him. "What horrors has he done?"
Mi: "You do not want to know the full extent, Hikari… but I get the impression this will show you whether you want to or not."
Hikari was quiet for a few moments. "I… I think I need to know regardless, Commander."
Misato gave her an apologetic look. "A noble thought. I'm… sorry you have to be put through this, Hikari."
Hik: "I'm in good company, at the very least." In a slight but wry smile.
… (9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
A: "Eheh, and you sure have been an excellent stress reliever, Shinji!"
Hikari furrowed her brow at her. "And what is that supposed to mean, Asuka?"
A: "I think you know quite well what I mean!" With such an innocent smile. "And damn i'm looking fine today! I wanna get a shirt like that Shinji!"
S: "Maybe Rei can get it for you."
R: "Maybe I can." In a slight smirk.
Hik: "Oh Gods what are you lot up to now…"
A: "And what's that meant to imply?!"
Mi: "Well, Shinji and all that have decided to try a bit of swinging!"
Hik: "You WHAT?!"
R: "Misato is embellishing." Flatly clarified Rei. "To provide redundancy in the pilot corps, we have decided to exchange partners and to train up in alternative pairings. This will ensure we are able to pilot NACSS equiped Evangelion with an alternative pairing should our usual pairing be untenable."
Hik: "Yeah and don't you have to be like really close with someone in order to properly pilot using NACSS? Like, lovers or partners close?"
Rei would blink.
E: "I wouldn't call Rei my lover." In a cringe.
Hik: "Okay so maybe it won't be like swinging then, that's good…"
Mi: "They explicitly said-"
Z: "Boy you really brought a lot of things along with you Asuka!"
A: "Honestly I still haven't unpacked everything; I thought we would be in a much larger place!"
May: "Surely you knew you were going to Japan, right?"
A: "And the room in my previous place was larger than the whole apartment, I was expecting something like that!"
Mi: "Don't try to-"
S: "Oh and we have our exams coming up soon as well! Do you think Toji has the same sentiment, Hikari?"
Hik: "When it comes to his English studies yeah he does."
Mar: "Again you guys speak E-English a helluva lot better than some Americans do!"
Mi: "I know what you're trying to-"
Hir: "What even is an exam?"
E: "You never had tests you needed to do in your own world?"
Hir: "I mean yeah, but they weren't called exams. And if you failed them they'd kill you."
Hik: "Yeah that tracks from what I know of your world."
Z: "Is it really that bad?"
Mi: "Let me freakin' speak about-"
K: "Zero Two name another squad that you know of that met a terrible fate."
Z: "Squad 27 got macerated by a… Gods how do I describe it, imagine a steamroller but instead of a roller it had two giant crushers at the front of it like it were a shredder."
May: "I don't think they're gonna let you say anything about them swinging, Misato."
Mi: "Mmgh I know…" A pout and her arms crossed.

It's Party Time! (14, 15, 16, 17, 18)
A: "Ooh look at you Hikari! So cute!"
Hik: "Oh I know right? It's exactly what I'd wear!"
Z: "Pen-Pen seems pretty attached to you, Asuka."
A: "Maybe we had history together." In a snort. "He came from a test tube and I came from a test tube!"
Hir: "I like how those two focus on both you and the Commander, Asuka."
A: "Well Hikari knows her lummox well by now to know that his motivation lies in what's on the chest and between the legs."
Hik: "I mean not entirely…"
A: "And living with Misato isn't all that's cracked up to be!"
Mi: "Hey by that point, Shinji had cleaned up my act a fair bit!"
R: "Figures it is Kensuke to notice you were promoted."
E: "It's fitting, really."
Mi: "I'm surprised Kensuke went to all that effort. Wish some of you would." She'd smirk at Shinji and Asuka.
S: "Aren't we taking you out to dinner on Friday?"
A: "Yeah we try to do things with you but you're too damn busy all the time! Like c'mon how busy could being Commander be?!"
Mi: "Well right now I'm trying to get all the forms filled out for Ritsuko before she can even get on a jumpjet back to Japan because shipping alien carcasses is something that local customs don't really appreciate if you just show up with them unnoticed."
May: "I was wondering why she was taking her time, I thought she was meant to be back a few days ago!"
K: "Another thing we can blame the Incubators for…"
Hik: "I still need to find out about them too."
K: "You do not want to know."
Hik: "Yeah but I'll probably find out anyway…"
… (19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26)
Mar: "Jeez you d-didn't have much hope, Shinji."
S: "I mean…" As Shinji gestured at everything.
R: "Especially back then."
A: "…Oh crap we didn't invite you, Rei!"
R: "That is okay, I would have been used to it at this point."
Hik: "Do you reckon Kaji-san is… doing what you describe, Commander?"
Mi: "If he does i'm cutting his balls off."
Hik: "A simple 'I hope not' would have sufficed…"
Mar: "Wait is that h-horsemeat I see?"
Z: "Ooh a delicacy! Loved my horse!"
Hir: "I thought all we had was replica horse meat?"
Zero Two shrugged. "Eh it still tasted nice."
E: "How many of your squadrons died to maintain your ability to eat horse?"
Z: "You don't wanna know."
Mar: "Wait you g-guys eat horse?"
Looks from all around the group. "I mean I don't prefer it." Hikari shrugged. "But sometimes you don't have as much Yen as you want and you need to feed a large family."
May: "It's putting the horse to good use after its working life at least, I'm glad my money goes to the farmers that sell them."
S: "It goes well in curry, especially if you slow cook it. Not that Asuka would know."
A: "Oh excuse me for not wanting to eat horse, Shinji!"
Mar: "Someone reasonable! Thank y-you God!"
Mi: "What's wrong with eating horse?"
Mari and Asuka would chime in unison: "It's a horse!"
E: "I don't even know what a horse is to be honest."
R: "They are an elegant but fragile and stupid creature."
Mar: "Y'know that's a good d-description of them, but you still don't eat them!"
R: "They are a prey animal at the end of the day, like rabbit or cattle or goat. Would you eat any of them, Mari?"
Mar: "Not a rabbit!"
S: "Rabbit's too lean anyway, you don't get enough nutrition from it and there's barely any meat on them to make it go far."
Mar: "Do you j-just eat any animal in Japan or something?"
Mi: "Mari you know how poorly Second Impact went for us, right? We eat any decent meat we can get our hands on; we don't have the American luxury of being 70% pasture even after Second Impact messed with the climate!"
A: "Tokyo-3 is actually a bit of an upper class city in that regard; I only really see horse and rabbit meat in hawker markets. Though there is that local butcher that stocks horse as well."
S: "I wouldn't trust meat from a hawker anyway." Shinji would shrug. "Not like that's your preference anyway Asuka."
A: "You just gotta trick me into trying it and if I think it tastes good then I might have it again!"
S: "Or you'll throw me over the balcony for making you eat horsemeat."
A: "Or that, it's a coin toss honestly."
S: "So you would understand if I am not a gambling man then."
Hik: "I like how we just ended up talking about horsemeat while Toji's getting his butt beaten over here."
E: "He deserves it."
Hik: "Oh yeah I'm not angry at Asuka or anything."
A: "He's not even wrong, let's be honest."
Hik: "You gotta maintain your respect though!"
A: "I mean it's harder for her because I'm trying to keep up that appearance of being a good girl to them too. I know it's not really something I maintain in front of you, but knowing how my pride can be like, I probably feel pretty sh*tty about letting that mask slip."
S: "Well you don't seem to mind letting that mask slip."
A: "Shinji I'm literally throttling you."
S: "Call it premature revenge for all the things I did to you."
A: "That's in another reality anyway! That might not happen here?"
S: "You think?"
Asuka wasn't quite sure about that. "Well… I hope it doesn't!"

"Y'know, I find Shinji's words at the end concerning." Pondered Hikari.

"I wonder if I'm speaking in a past tense of some sort. Almost seems like it."

"Perhaps you are looking back at your life at this point."

"And how it all went to pot?"

"Knowing our world, most likely."

"Well can't wait to see when it shifts…" Drolled Shinji.

2.28: Follow Back Along Your Scar

The Visitor (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
R: "All thoughts I still have today."
Hik: "Did they have to show you naked though?"
Mar: "Eh it's barbie doll anatomy a-anyway!"
A: "And yeah, everything with Evangelion will show us naked anyway Hikari, so get used to that!"
S: "Do you think they will show that sync test we had before Ireul?"
A: "Oh yeah that was pretty sh*tty, I still don't know why we had to do that!"
Mi: "We needed to get a good baseline so we had to get rid of every single source of contamination that could exist; that's why we ran you through all that decontamination!"
May: "And why we didn't do it again afterwards was because for one, the facility was destroyed during Ireul, and two we were able to develop a better way of getting a baseline by just using more computing power to cut through the noise."
A: "And I thank you every day for that because I did not wanna get naked for a sortie again."
R: "Aww what do you mean?"
Hik: "Rei!"
A: "While I would not mind getting naked in front of certain people nowadays, I still hold concerns about the brass seeing my body!"
Mi: "Which is fair enough, and that's also a reason why we didn't pursue the original solution we had."
E: "I mean I don't see the concern."
R: "Some people sexualise the naked body."
A: "Nooooo really Rei?!"
E: "I don't really see it as a sexual object. It's just a person isn't it?"
Z: "Do you see sexual objects at all, Eliza?"
E: "I'm a computer so no, not really." In a flat look. "No one's fawning over a laptop."
Mar: "I dunno, you'd b-be surprised."
E: "I'd be disappointed."
Hir: "Is this how synchronising is like for you?"
R: "They took some artistic license in depicting the synchronisation process. It is not as dramatic."
A: "I mean it can still be dramatic, Rei. Like, calling out to your partner, drifting ever closer to them until your souls combine in a whirlwind of emotion! Straight out of a movie!"
R: "It is an amazing process either way." She'd slightly smirk.
… (8, 9, 10)
Maya could only sigh. "I never thought the dummy system was a good idea honestly. It was hastily planned from the start and all the simulations I had run on it indicated it'd only be 10% effective if actually sortied."
Mi: "But I understand where they're coming from when they say to do it. It's another option to have in our back pocket."
Much to Maya's flat look. "…Even if it wasn't that effective."
She still have the same look. "Okay they weren't effective at all…"
Maya would nod her approval. "And I will always say they were a mistake."
E: "I don't have any dummy plug codebase, do I?"
May: "The dummy plug system was shelved after the failure during Zeruel and was completely scrapped after the change in administration. You are a unique system built from the ground up, Eliza."
R: "Hence your actual efficacy in battle."
That got her slightly blushing. "I try…"
Hik: "So I didn't really hear much about it at the time, but from what I understand the dummy plug system was an autopilot of some sort?"
Mi: "In effect it was a lower level artificial intelligence based on the brain scans of Rei. That's why they're testing her here. But because it takes a while to grow the typical wetware that the Magi and ELIZA systems use, and we were pressed for time, we used lower tier wetware that we could grow within a few days."
May: "Ratware, if I remember correctly."
E: "Ah so you lost a lot of resolution trying to cram a human brain scan into a rat."
Mi: "We only needed enough to force a basic sync and then we could use a remote relay to do the rest… of course as you can see, this resulted in an abysmal display."
K: "Even in the Laserdiscs, the dummy plug system seemed more instinctual than actual control."
S: "It felt closer to a berserk state honestly."
Hik: "I never really got into wetware computing, but are there multiple 'animal' tiers it could be?"
A: "So human is your highest tier, but it's also the most expensive and takes the longest to build to maturity, and you also have all the pesky human rights that folks complain about as well, so that's generally reserved for the more rich and morally bankrupt organisations in the world. Like us!"
Mi: "We're not entirely morally bankrupt… the ends justify the means okay!"
May: "We're actually one of the only places in the world that can build human wetware. The Magi were the first computer system in the world to use human wetware, but honestly it's just an extension of our Nephilim capability at this point." She'd shrug.
Mi: "And we definitely keep tabs on the other places that are trying to build that capability as well. Because that's only a few steps away from Nephilim, and we'd rather not have that fall into wrong hands."
A: "Are you allowed to say where else builds human wetware?"
Mi: "Oh the US government started throwing billions of dollars into developing it as soon as the Magi's existence was revealled. Northrop Grumman in collaboration with AstraZeneca have been trying to develop it, but unfortunately they've been having persistent and consistent cyberattacks that keep deleting their research and destroying their machines."
A: "Funny that." She'd mutter through gritted teeth.
Mar: "Does having the Magi in Boston affect a-any of that?"
Mi: "They're tamperproof, if unauthorised access is attempted, there's enough thermite in those brains to turn them into soap."
May: "Honestly that's the same here. If you pull them out as a whole unit, the brain gets destroyed. When we had to manually interface with the Magi during Ireul, Sempai had to get a small angle grinder and actually cut a hole into the brain storage unit itself."
Mi: "And good luck trying to reverse engineer that without the mind itself realising and self destructing."
A: "I did hear they were trying to develop it… uhh, I know there's a few companies in Silicon Valley that do rodentware, Argo have a 3-Year system based on a rat and Tascent have an 8-Year system based off a rabbit."
Hik: "Wetware has a shelf life?"
A: "Oh yeah, it's just a brain y'know, so it's still subject to things like aging. Though usually that's how long they warrant it for; it could still be perfectly fine after that long, but you're on your own if it starts having demented function."
May: "Magi tier wetware are a 70-Year system." She would add on. "For some comparison."
Hik: "So a lot more advanced than anyone has really?"
May: "Oh by a long shot!"
A: "Yeah those ones I mentioned are about as advanced as the civilian and corporate market has access to. Might be some experimental ones out there but none that I know of personally." In a shrug.
Mi: "Oh believe me, we know of those developments."
Hik: "And let me guess you keep them in control."
Mi: "Of course we do! It's a matter of world security Hikari!"
Hik: "Yeah forgive me if I think that sounds very conspiratorial of you."
A: "It's NERV, Hikari, it's all conspiracy!"

Second Coming (11, 12, 13, 14)
Misato looked uneasy. "We're getting to this already… this came along a lot later in our world."
May: "I'm surprised you remembered it."
Mi: "You tend to sober up pretty quickly when you're telling a story like this."
Hikari would look to the manga with concern painted all over her. "You… were there?"
To Misato's slight nod. "Right in the thick of it, yeah. You'll… see more of it when we flick through."
A sidewards glance. "Though… I find it interesting what we're talking about. It looks like Kaji was the one at fault… or maybe that's just me."
R: "You did say he slept around."
Mi: "Only after I dumped him. I know Rits tried him out for a week but they broke it off, wouldn't surprise me if he slept around after that too. I… I wonder if he sees our relationship as more a guardianship."
Even with the minimal context, Hikari could see it clear as day. "Did you see your relationship as that?"
A moment of thought. "…Yeah. That was why I broke it off with him the first time. I… I was afraid of getting attached to someone like… well, dad. Kaji was like that, in my eyes. The real caring guardian type… hell, you saw him hold me up while I chucked up in the sink. Though… here, it seems to be the other way around."
K: "So you think he saw you as a daughter of some sort?"
Mi: "Maybe… honestly with how I was like, it'd make sense. Seems like I always need someone to take care of me." She'd slightly sneer. "You could even call Shinji that, in a way, the way you cooked and cleaned for me."
E: "Nothing wrong with that, I think. Some people work better when they have someone else there."
A: "Heh, yeah, smooth out the mutual weaknesses and make it a better whole." With a soft smile, looking at a certain Shinji. "Also, I find it kinda funny that we're all as out of it even though we probably didn't drink."
Hik: "I'm surprised I'm that far out of it honestly… you didn't feed us booze did you?!"
Mi: "No! I only feed them booze if they want it!"
Hik: "Misato!"
A: "Hikari we're allowed to drink beer when we're 12 where I'm from, I am not waiting until I am twenty before I can start drinking here!"
Mar: "Oh miss la-de-dah with her y-young drinking age, it's 21 over here! We c-can go to war before we're allowed to drink!"
May: "Well that's just cruel at that point."
… (15, 16-17, 18, 19)
E: "Real classy, compare him to your father and he immediately goes for a kiss."
Mi: "Yeah that chain of events could have been phrased a little better… but there you go, Hikari. Second Impact."
She would quietly stare at the double spread depiction of Adam's wings emerging from the Antarctic ground zero. "…Gods."
Mi: "My father… well, I couldn't say it better myself. He was distant for most all of my life… and then he dies for me."
Maya would rest a hand on Misato's, offering a slight comfort to her. "I… it really rattled me. I was mute for… God, maybe four years afterwards? I just… couldn't process what I had just seen. Really… how can you process seeing that?"
K: "You were perhaps the only living witness of Second Impact, that close to ground zero."
Mi: "Sometimes I wish I hadn't… Like… I don't like thinking about it. It's… well, barely comprehensible what it is anyway. What you see here is pretty much God himself coming to enact his judgement. It's… not really something we were meant to understand, or could understand."
R: "There is also the significance of this event, being the start of everything."
Mi: "That too… like, most of what I was thinking about in that time was just… 'I just witnessed the end of the world as we knew it'. I… know it's difficult for you guys to imagine how the world was before Second Impact, but… having all that just shattered in front of you. There's something damaging about that."
Hand to her chest. "And… of course…"
Lifting her shirt, showing Hikari the scar. "When you have a physical reminder as well… that just makes it all the more potent, y'know?"
Hikari seemed… very quiet. "I… never knew it was like that for you, Commander. I…" Struggling for words. "…Don't know what to say."
Mi: "Few people do. I… well, I'm the only person living that witnessed it. As far as I know, at least."
Hik: "I can't even call that an exaggeration at this point… no wonder your feelings for Kaji are complicated."
That got a snicker out of Misato. "Yeah, bit of a trauma dump on his part, huh?"
A: "Hey, we love trauma dumping, you're in good company Misato!"

Interrupt (20, 21, 22)
Asuka would cop a very unamused look from Misato. "Freakin' teenagers…"
A: "Hey, Shinji hasn't taught me how great it is to love someone yet!"
Hik: "Glad I got that hit on Toji after that night…"
K: "At least that means your relationship may be a bit more positive for the future."
Mar: "Yeah, rekindling that o-old flame!"
Mi: "Knowing my luck this is probably one of the realities he gets shot in."
Hikari blinked. "There's multiple where that happens?"
R: "Seemingly the more official looking works tend to kill off Kaji."
Mi: "Yeah I have a seriously low standard when it comes to these works, cause in both the Laserdiscs and the Theatricals, Kaji ends up dead!"
E: "Do you think he'll end up that way here?"
Mi: "I'm thinking that yeah."
Hik: "Got that to look forward to then…"
S: "There are a lot of things to look forward to in this one, least of which being how we all suffer."
Mar: "I dunno I'm doing j-just fine here! I'm not in it!"
Z: "Same here girl!"
A: "Lucky bastards, some of us aren't as lucky to be a tertiary character!"
May: "Where do you think Rei is in all this?"
R: "Far and away from the canon events that will inevitably come for me."
Mar: "Oh right y-you have your own death to look forward to, wonderful."
R: "So do you."
Mar: "Hurray." She said in the least enthusiastic way she could.
… (23, 24, 25, 26)
A: "Ooh la la, Shin-chan! Wondergirl here inviting you into her home!"
S: "I don't even know how I ended up doing that."
R: "I would not complain." In a slight smirk. "And look, I'm even in my nightwear waiting for you."
Hik: "Rei!"
R: "He had already seen me naked at this point, we may as well finish the job."
Mi: "You gals really like goading Hikari that way don't you?"
A: "Oh but it's so much fun Misato! Look at her!"
Hikari was bristling and appearing like a tomato.
May: "I don't remember seeing that in the Laserdiscs, or hearing about it happen here around that time."
R: "I had not invited Shinji into my home, unfortunate that sounds. Perhaps he and I are closer in this than on first glance."
A: "I mean I'm a lot more of a bitch to Shinji this time around, so if you go running to Rei in this one that's just desserts for me."
Mar: "Mah, you give up t-too easily! Work for him!"
A: "Says the gal who won Shinji last time."
Z: "I like how you've just made it a contest." In a snicker. "Ain't no one else winning my darling here!"
E: "Didn't Ichigo try going for him too?"
Z: "I can easily make it look like an accident, Eliza."
E: "Fine, fine, duly noted…" Rolling her eyes. "I know you're not even lying about that."

"Well, that went okay as well!" Asuka cheered. "Other than the whole… y'know…" Pointing to Misato.

"Yeah yeah, don't have to mention it again…" Hand to her chest, running a thumb over her scar. "Hopefully won't have to be reminded of it again until we get the next work."

"You don't have very high hopes." Mused Hikari.

"I never do with these works, and you'll learn to feel the same way Hikari!"

To which she grumbled something fierce. "I don't wanna…"

2.29: Cenotaph

Burn For You (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Shinji was the one grumbling something fierce now, seeing Gendo on the front cover. "Hate him…"
Hik: "There's a lot of baggage I don't know about."
R: "You will find out." In flat reaction. "And look at you Shinji, being my knight in shining armour."
That got a blush out of him. "I… don't think we had anything like that in our world."
R: "Indeed, I was far too stalwart and you and Asuka were making hay."
A: "I was definitely trying to get him in the hay, yeah!"
S: "Not well."
A: "Well yeah but I'm a damaged young girl, of course I was gonna mess it up!"
E: "I'm sure Rei appreciated the care, at the very least."
R: "I would." With a slight smile. "And is that not how much tea you put in?"
S: "You're only meant to put a slight amount in, maybe a teaspoon's worth?"
R: "Kaworu didn't seem to mind the amount I use." She blinked. "Maybe that makes sense."
K: "I quite liked the earthy flavour it had."
Z: "Earthy as in dirt?"
R: "With the amount I used, probably." Furrowing her brow in thought. "I will be sure to remember that."
Mar: "Who the heck m-makes your tea then?"
R: "Shinji."
May: "Or the teabags they have here."
Mi: "Or the pot tea they have in the cafeteria."
K: "I think I can gauge where in the stations of canon this story is taking place by the title."
Z: "I was gonna ask what a centrelink is."
K: "A cenotaph is essentially an empty tomb, used to mourn the loss of someone without having their body physically buried there. Often used in a wartime context."
S: "Ah… so that means I'm gonna be speaking with Gendo then." In yet more grumbling. I never like being reminded of that…"
A: "I don't think you've even been there recently, have you?"
S: "I mean it's like your mom's gravestone now, it's a bit redundant when they're alive now huh?"
A: "Pfft, I guess. Though now I'm wondering if she's seen it."
Mar: "Is she gonna brag that s-she's still standing or something?"
E: "At this point she's well deserving to brag about it."
Hik: "Can't wait for my mom to be around to brag about it…"
Mi: "We're working on it!"
… (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
R: "Perhaps I did not realise the depth of your dislike of Gendo."
S: "I mean I desperately wanted to make amends with him and have him just treat me like a son. Obviously that never happened; can't say I didn't try."
A: "But there comes a point where you really need to just cut your losses and call it. I did that early with my old man!"
E: "And how did that work out for you?"
That corked Asuka. "Not well…"
S: "It's something we both related to at least."
A: "Hmpf, got that right…" Scanning the crowd. "I think most of us here have daddy issues actually, if we even had one. Maybe like two people here had a decent father, from what I could gauge?"
Hik: "He's definitely not perfect but he does his best." She sighed. "Wish he was in our life more; I asked him if he wanted to retire early but he didn't wanna be a bum on my dime."
K: "Maybe if you word it as spending more time with his family."
Hik: "I ought to, maybe I will when he's next off work. Though half of his concern was that he'd have nothing to do."
R: "What hobbies does he have?"
Hik: "Well I'm not sure if you could tell, but mom and him were really big into trains."
May: "All of you were named after Shinkansen lines weren't you?"
To her nod and a small smirk. "I think it's cute! I was thinking of doing the same when I eventually get married and have kids with Toji."
A: "Does he know you have his life planned out already?"
Hik: "Oh he knows, don't worry about that." With such an innocent smile. "And yeah, Rei does have a point with what she says. If you're just gonna wallow in your pity, nothing will change. You can at least try to enact a change… even if it might be like running into a brick wall."
S: "Believe me it very much was like that."
Mi: "I'm still surprised how much that party went off, it's almost like I fed you all alcohol."
Hikari glared at the commander.
Mi: "It never claimed I did or not! Sweet, sweet 'neither confirm or deny', I love it!"

Empty Tomb (13, 14, 15, 16)
Mar: "…Well, at least y-you tried!"
E: "You gotta work on your confidence, Shinji."
S: "Yeah I know, I'd get way too intimidated by him. But you understand why I would!"
K: "When someone is as much a stone wall as he is, it makes it difficult to interact with them. Even my limited correspondence with him felt more like a dance between the two of us, as we both tried to play off each other."
R: "No wonder he hated you."
K: "Me being an Angel wouldn't help. I was directly in the way of his ultimate goal."
Hik: "What was his goal anyway? Cause I knew he had some sorta plan that might not have gone well for us."
Mi: "Everything he did was to get his wife out of Unit-01."
Hikari blinked. "…You're serious?"
To her nod. "His plan was to use Rei and Lilith to start Instrumentality, for the sole purpose of releasing his wife out of Unit-01."
Hik: "And… the billions of dead that would result from it?"
R: "Collateral."
Hikari… well, she didn't really know what to think of it. But one thing was clear, she was absolutely fuming. "I… I don't understand how someone could be so self-centred to think that's a good way of going about it. Like… at least Seele, sure they were Gods awful and it still would've killed everyone, but at least they were going for something a bit more higher in scope."
K: "In certain aspects he really was worse than Seele, they definitely had similar thinking when it came to having matters in their control. And if they weren't… well, they'd get dispatched."
Hik: "I'm starting to understand why you didn't want to get me involved in all that…"
A: "Hikari, the least you had to do with Commander Asshole the better for you and your family and friends. You know when Bardiel came along he wanted us to kill you?"
Hikari froze. "He what?"
Mi: "Yeah he wanted the Evangelion completely destroyed, core and all. This… yeah, would have resulted in your death."
S: "And then he fired us for saving you. So… yeah. He did not think of anyone as anything more than something to use."
A: "Heck, I imagine he saw you as nothing more than collateral at that point. All he really needed for his plan was Unit-01 and Rei, anything else was just something he could use and dispose of when he needed-"
Hikari's hands gripped on the table. "I… understand why you hate him. I think I do too!"
A: "Thatta girl!" In a cheer, patting the fuming Hikari on her back. "See? You're learning to be just like us! We all hate Gendo Ikari here!"
Hir: "I mean I have no strong opinions about him personally."
Z: "We're from another universe darling."
… (17, 18, 19, 20, 21)
Shinji's expression was one of annoyance at his attitude. "…But that's something he let slip there."
K: "Indeed… for now. A rare slip of his mask, and I think he realised it."
Mar: "So I know anime and m-manga tend to do that whole 'obscuring eyeglasses' t-thing to indicate how someone is hiding their true self, was that the case for r-real life as well?"
Mi: "Oh his glasses were near opaque, you'd never tell where he was looking at."
May: "It was pretty freaky actually."
Hik: "Why would he throw all her pictures away? Did he not want anything to remember her by?"
R: "Our consensus is that it was too difficult for him to see. And that was also the consensus as to why he sent Shinji away; he reminded him too much of Yui, whether with how he acted or how he looked, or even the fact of him being her son."
S: "And that's what scared me about finding out why he did that, because I could easily see myself being like that if things went differently."
A: "So if we didn't get together to actually start fixing you a bit."
S: "Mhm pretty much… hell, I'm still a bit like that. He couldn't stand to see me, well I can't stand to see him. The less I see of him the better."
E: "An advantage of him being dead at this point."
K: "Even if it did mean you wouldn't be able to square away any of your issues with him."
Shinji glanced away. "At this point I'm sure he would've been exactly the same with me if I tried to square away my issues with him."
Mar: "You still have them u-unresolved though. Don't you?"
Another quiet thought from Shinji. "When are we getting that therapist again, Misato?"
Mi: "Not soon enough, honestly…"
A: "At the very least… we don't have our memories of our mama's to solely go off now, at least."
S: "I still need to get some more photos with her. Don't wanna lose her again without having that at the very least."
… (22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28)
Hik: "Wh- what a cruel and callous attitude!" She'd shout. "Are you- how absolutely damaged of a life do you have to live in order to even think like that?!"
S: "Yeah, that's Gendo alright…"
A: "That tracks."
R: "This is the same person who abandoned Shinji at 4 years old. I am sure if he was left to his own devices at that age, he would have perished."
Mar: "God he's w-worse than Breen, at least Breen was merely incompetent."
May: "Were people still complaining about him during your time?"
Mar: "Commander Pines couldn't go more than a single day without complaining about him."
E: "With how Breen is like that's completely fair."
Hik: "I'm gonna be complaining about Gendo every single day!"
K: "Join the club."
S: "…Though I do think Gendo has a point here. I was naive to think I could understand him. With how damaged he is… I don't think anyone but him would be able to understand his thoughts."
R: "A shame it had come to that point… and I think I am starting to realise I am the same."
Mi: "It's worse for you, Rei. He's pretty much manipulating you to do as he needs."
R: "I did not understand that back then… but I do now. And in retrospect, I think that behaviour is disgusting."
A: "The key thing is that you understand it now. And yeah, he's dead! He can't hurt any of us anymore, except with the sheer emotional trauma he caused us that we all need help with!"
Mi: "We're getting close to it! Only a few more months and we can get her started!"
Z: "Heh, you got a light at the end of the tunnel now!" She'd cheer. "Cause I think we'd need some as well."
Hir: "I still wake up screaming sometimes."
A: "Eh that's normal."
Hik: "At this point I completely understand why you'd be like that…"

"Well… I think we all made our opinions on him known." Misato would start.

"I don't think there's anyone here who doesn't hate him."

"What of you, Eliza?"

"Knowing how much he hurt you makes me hate him, Rei."

"That's fair."

"I mean if he did get what he wanted, we wouldn't have ended up here so I don't really think highly of him." Zero Two shrugged. "But believe me I've dealt with worse people."

"That's mainly from the world we're from though."

"Oh yeah darling, our world was completely messed up! Frankly only having a few people be complete assholes is better than a whole nation of them."

"Your perspective is r-refreshing." Snarked Mari. "See I'm feeling like the o-odd one out here, cause yeah Stanley was a bit of an asshole sometimes, but I just p-put that down to him being old! Like, when he cared, he cared y'know?"

"I would have asked if I could swap with you, Mari…"

"But yeah you r-remembered I got killed in the Dirac huh."


Mari shrugged. "Eh, at least I didn't have to d-deal with any assholes there. It was only after I d-died I had to start dealing with them!"

"I-Is there a story behind that too?"

"We'll get there when we get there Hikari!"

2.30: Catch The G-Shock!

1, 2, Skip A Few… (1, 2-3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
Misato would count on her hands. "Hang on a minute! Where's Sandalphon and Matarael?!"
K: "Perhaps they don't exist in this continuity. Similar to the Theatricals."
E: "I thought they would've been able to fit a lot more content in a literary format."
R: "Perhaps that scene with Shinji and I took up too much time."
A: "Honestly I was thinking they might start messing with the Angels when they showed me taking Gaghiel solo. Maybe the dude who wrote this wants to focus on the human drama instead!"
S: "I mean he can feel free, the Angels were the cause of most of our trauma anyway!"
Z: "I thought those two weren't that bad, all things considered."
A: "I almost died Zero Two."
Z: "Honestly you seemed more embarrassed about having to wear that pressure suit than the thought of dying in a volcano."
Asuka paused to think back. "Huh, y'know what, I was. Well that just shows you how much I've grown then!"
S: "That means you never got to teach me about thermal expansion."
A: "Bah, you're getting close with Rei in this one, she can teach you that."
Rei bounced her chest up and down like Asuka had done way back when. "I should be able to."
Hik: "Rei!"
A: "Hey, it taught Shinji about it! Maybe if you did that with your lummox it'll teach him too!"
Hik: "He's actually decent with the sciences y'know. And I didn't even have to use my body to teach him about it!"
K: "I doubt he would complain."
Hik: "Mari?"
Mari would take possession of Kaworu's body and throw it hard into a wall. "Ow."
Hik: "Thank you. But yes, you would be surprised, he is actually a very intelligent person! I think his issue lies with he doesn't really like school and how they teach. That's why he was going for that mechanics apprenticeship."
Mi: "How's that been going for him?"
Hik: "Well since we started doing those pilot tests he's assuming he's pretty much gonna be part of NERV so he's stopped pursuing it. Oh yeah he wanted me to ask you, what sort of mechanical apprenticeship can you offer that he could do on the side?"
Mi: "I mean we have plenty of mechanics already, maybe electromechanical? We always need more people to help with the Magi and our computer systems?"
Hik: "Maybe, though he wasn't really interested in computers, or at least the programming side of it."
May: "Oh so his style of learning is more hands on then?"
Hik: "He needs to do it himself and see the end result of it working, yeah. Abstract thought isn't really his forte, and that does affect his grades."
R: "But there was a reason he was one of the key pilot candidates when we were recruiting."
K: "And why he was picked as pilot in some universes."
Mi: "I'll give it a think, would be good for him to pursue that sort of thing… Though back to the manga, even the sortie against Sahaquiel seems expedited compared to our world. We figured out their game pretty quickly I think."
S: "Looks like we're all ready at this point! Yeah I remember it taking a while to organise, unless they just skipped that for brevity."
E: "Seems like they've skipped a lot of things for brevity's sake so far…"
… (9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
Shinji would grumble. "Of course that affected me…"
Mi: "Can't even blame you at that point Shinji… I'd say you could tell me but I know how it's like, especially back around this time."
S: "Nah, I do need to talk about it more with someone… maybe that's something I need to start a conversation?"
Hik: "I hope to everything you didn't have to put up with that as a kid, Shinji…"
S: "I mean, I definitely had people talk behind my back and all that… I don't really remember too much of that honestly."
E: "Do you recall much of that time?"
S: "Honestly? I've blocked out a lot of the time between when Gendo abandoned me and when I went to Tokyo-3. Not much happened during that time anyway, I just sorta went with anything that happened."
Hik: "…Not really a great way of living y'know."
S: "I only found that out once I got here, funnily enough. But… yeah, you can see how all our issues can affect our ability, eh?"
Hik: "I mean I knew that even before you started telling me about all this."
Z: "Thing is if that failed you could easily blame Gendo for that."
Hir: "Zero Two I think you can blame him for a lot of things wrong in this world."
E: "Seems like you could split it 50/50 between him and Seele."
A: "Though now you mention it, to hopefully distract Shinji from his issues, any updates on the whole Seele situation anyway, Misato?"
Mi: "Well that's half the reason Kaji is in America; in Japan and Europe they're pretty much dead in the water, but we still have some holdouts over there that we need to nip in the bud before they become issues."
K: "Are we sure Kaji is the best person to send out, knowing his reputation in these works?"
Mi: "Well he hasn't died yet." She'd shrug. "And I told him if he does die I'm gonna kill him!"
R: "How would you manage that?"
Mi: "Grab his soul, chuck it in a Nephilim body, and then kill him myself."
R: "I suppose we can do that…"
Hik: "So what is a Nephilim anyway? Abstractly I know that's what Rei and Kaworu are classified as."
Mi: "And Eliza, but she's a bit of a special case. So a Nephilim more a class of person, they have progenitor DNA spliced within them."
K: "In my case, it is my progenitor Adam. Rei's is Lilith, and so is Eliza's."
E: "Generally the Nephilim is grown in a lab environment, an egg is combined with the DNA of the progenitor and is then fertilised. This results in a being with traits that the FAR had expressed back when they were around."
R: "Some of these traits are obvious, but others are more hidden, like our additional metaphysical ability."
Hik: "Okay… what's a FAR then?"
Everyone would blink. "I think we're just finding that out ourselves."
R: "I am learning it from Lilith. I will be able to pass on the teaching when I can."
Hikari would think for a few moments. "Is it possible to become one?"
Misato glanced to the crowd. "I mean… I suppose you could, theoretically. We made Eliza a custom Nephilim body to keep her going after she lost hers. But we probably wouldn't do it just on a whim you realise, it'll have to be something dire to cause it."
Hikari was still thinking.
Mi: "No you should not throw yourself from a bridge just so you can become a Nephilim!"
Hik: "I-I wasn't going to do that Commander!" In immediate defence. "I mean looking at what they can do it'd be cool, but it's not something I'd kill myself over!"
R: "Having died a couple times it's really not that bad."
Hik: "I'd rather not die if I could help it Rei!"
Mar: "Hah! Good luck with t-that!"

Skyfall (16-17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28)
Mi: "Jeez you still did pretty good Shinji!"
S: "Well I wasn't gonna let it destroy everything!"
A: "Showing us up right there!" As she flicked his ear.
R: "I wonder if we were doing this on the promise of reward."
K: "Did you ever get that steak dinner Misato promised you?"
A: "I think we all agreed to just get ramen instead."
Mi: "Yah steak is expensive…"
Mar: "Is this actual beef steak? Or is it h-horse steak?"
Z: "Hey don't diss horse steak!"
Mi: "Oh I wouldn't even be complaining about the price if it was horse! No I was gonna get the good stuff for them!"
A: "And we deserved the good stuff after that sortie!"
Hik: "You got there in the end! I didn't realise how similar catching Sahaquiel was to me catching that nuke…"
R: "You can understand how the adrenaline rush feels, then."
Hik: "Ooooh yeah." She felt giddy just thinking about it. "Like… rushing to it, leaping up to intercept it with my AT-Field at full strength… I was expecting it to kill me honestly, but when I was at the epicentre and all it felt like was a warm summers day, I knew that I did my job."
A: "Hikari I will always say you are amazing for doing that, you single handedly saved the city with that!"
Hik: "That's what I had running through my mind. I had to protect my family. And hey, stopping a nuke with my bare hands isn't that hard an ask."
K: "It also shows you the absolute power that an Evangelion with a solenoid possesses. When even one of the strongest weapons humanity has doesn't so much as put a dent in it."
E: "From what I heard it actually helped you guys out, didn't it?"
A: "Hikari's AT-Field actually reflected the nuclear blast up and out, so it absolutely vaporised anything in airspace for quite a distance!"
Mi: "The fallout from that bomb also sprayed out around the city and landed on their positions, so they had to fallback regardless. Honestly it went rather well all things considered!"
… (29, 30, 31, 32)
Hik: "Wait so they knew how many more there were?"
R: "They knew a lot of things."
K: "The number of Angels that were to come were outlayed in the dead sea scrolls… although I find it intriguing they only mention five to come."
Misato once again counted. "There's supposed to be seven after this one! And that's after they ditched Sandalphon and Matarael!"
Hir: "Who else do you think they'll ditch?"
A: "Honestly there's not many they could drop without it seriously affecting our development. So… Armisael, Arael, Zeruel-"
Mar: "Tabris."
A: "sh*t I forgot you were an Angel Kaworu, that leaves us with even less options then!" She'd exclaim. "Like… if they were to choose out of Iruel, Leliel, and Bardiel in terms of significance to us, I'd say Leliel?"
S: "But this is in the context of something Laserdisc adjacent, isn't it?"
A: "Oh yeah and you're the main character of that." Rolling her eyes. "But Leliel was still significant!"
S: "Not as significant as me being forced to beat Toji to a pulp."
A: "God I keep forgetting Anno did that to you, okay fine it might be Bardiel if Sadamoto is as cruel to you as Anno is."
Hik: "I hope it's not Bardiel or else I'm going to have words with Sadamoto!"
May: "It must've been pretty significant for you, huh Hikari?"
Hik: "Oh I was only trapped in the Evangelion for a month." With pursed lips. "…Though at least I was with my mother. Honestly with how it sounds like compared to Toji, I got a better deal out of it."
E: "And if this manga has Bardiel in it, and it's anything like the Laserdisc counterpart, you'll be finding that out."
Hikari would give a loud gulp. "I don't know if I want to find out… Thought speaking of, what are they carrying back from Antarctica? To need an entire aircraft carrier to hold it?"
K: "That, my dear, is most likely the Lance of Longinus."
Hikari would nod. "What's that?"
K: "So when a progenitor comes to a planet to seed it, they carry with them a special weapon that disables them in case they encounter another progenitor, this is because having two progenitors on one planet is generally a bad thing."
A: "Case in point with the Angels."
K: "What they're doing here is recovering the original lance used to disable Adam."
Hik: "Ohh okay!"
Mi: "You didn't understand that did you?"
Hik: "Not really, no."
That got a snicker out of Misato. "You'll learn!"

"Well, now we know they're gonna skip a few of them…" Maya would muse. "I'm not sure what to think about that."

"It may mean we get to the… problematic parts quicker."

"That is absolutely not a good thing Kaworu!" Asuka decried. "Like all that section they're skipping out on, that was when we were having some real decent times!"

"Can't have that in this world obviously."

"Is Shinji and I spending that time together really worth skipping out on so much?"

"I'd think it was worth it!" Asuka cheered. "Maybe you won't mess it up like I have several times already!"

"Do you think this'll be another one you'll end up with Shinji?"

"Depends on how he reacts to… later events." Skirting around it for Hikari. "And how cruel Sadamoto wants to be."

"It's not happening girl."

"You are most likely correct, Zero Two." Rei would sigh. "Only one way we can find out."

2.31: NERV Blackout

Where's Matarael When You Need Them (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
Shinji breathed a sigh of relief. "Saved by the power out."
Mi: "Don't think you're getting out of it that easily young man!" In a playful chide. "Wait a minute, why are we having this event now?"
A: "I thought the power out was caused by Matarael!"
Mi: "No, it was sabotage. Matarael just so happened to coincide with it."
Hir: "Did Kaji have anything to do with it."
Mi: "Most likely, though I don't think he expected to be trapped with me." Furrowing her brow. "Sorry it's just weirding me out how these events have been shuffled around."
E: "There's five Angels left, is one of them really going to be Matarael?"
K: "Maybe they forgot I exist?"
Mar: "You aren't getting out of y-your canon event that easily mister!"
K: "I got out of it here."
R: "You struggled with it though."
Hik: "Is that related to Kaworu being an Angel?"
K: "Usually in these works I end up dying."
Hik: "Well that's not good…"
K: "And in most of the realities I remember actually. One of the worst ones I recall is when Shinji boiled my fat alive with some sort of lightning power like he was Emperor Sidious from Star Wa-"
Hikari promptly fainted with that description. "Pfft, lightweight." Asuka would snark, before helping her back into her chair and giving her a glass of water. "You all good?"
Hik: "I am going to forget you ever said that Kaworu, at least I am going to try to…"
Z: "Eh, it's not the worst I've heard of."
Mi: "You don't need to start describing another squad that had a horrible fate Zero Two."
Z: "What if I wanted to?"
Mi: "I wouldn't prefer that either to be honest…" Before a slight cringe. "Also God damn I must've been on my time of the month I was really hounding you out Shinji, sorry about that…"
Shinji shrugged. "I'm used to it."
That didn't help Misato's guilty look.
… (9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)
S: "Well that was quick."
R: "I never doubted me."
A: "Yeah yeah way to rub it in…"
Zero Two snickered. "The look on your face when Rei started speaking though!"
A: "Oh I didn't expect it at all!" She'd snicker. "Still, what did cause this power out? Did we ever figure it out?"
May: "All signs point to Kaji…"
Mi: "Yeah we just assume it was him, you gotta remember he was a quadruple agent at this point."
Hik: "I thought men couldn't multitask…"
Mi: "He's good at pretending." She'd snark.
A: "I mean they can be good at multitasking!" In a snicker. "Why, Shinji here can touch me in both my-"
Hikari promptly slammed her hand over her mouth. "I know what you're gonna say and I'm not gonna give you the satis- oh EW ASUKA!"
She blew her a raspberry, as Hikari wiped Asuka's slobber off her hand. "Shinji knows that doesn't work! You're gonna learn that too!"
Her frown turned to a slight smirk. "Heh, I know what to do with Toji now at least."
E: "I doubt that would help your self esteem though, Asuka."
A: "Oh no not in the slightest!"
Mi: "Sounds like you are reading a bit too much into it, Asuka."
A: "I knew you two were starting to get back closer together! Maybe I'm still jealous i'm not with Kaji."
S: "Well obviously."
A: "Okay obviously I'm going to seek them out so I can prevent them two from getting together."
Hir: "Y'know it ain't gonna work."
A: "I know that, but she probably doesn't. Poor kid… wonder how you feel about me constantly going for Kaji at that time, Shinji?"
S: "I thought it was immature honestly." He'd flatly state. "Didn't know if you were ever serious about anything with me or if it was just teenage teasing."
R: "Until she just outright kissed you."
S: "Even during that I wasn't quite sure until she really got into it."
A: "And I only really got into it when you started holding me!"
Hik: "Were we really that close to having the world end…"
A: "Oh it's not that bad!"
K: "It really is that bad."
R: "We do not exaggerate when we say the fate of the world was reliant on those two getting together."
Hikari would look at Shinji and Asuka with a furrowed brow. "I should've had my will and testament ready then."
Asuka blew her another raspberry.

Sweat (15, 16, 17, 18, 19)
Misato rolled her eyes. "Yes Kaji did try to flirt in that elevator."
K: "The real purpose of him sabotaging the power was to get with you, Misato."
Mi: "Wouldn't even surprise me at this point… but hey, it worked at chipping away at me."
R: "Although the real breakthrough moment in our world was that night out you had."
A: "That coincided with Shinji and I having our big kiss, didn't it? I remember you two had gone out to a party of some sort?"
Mi: "Yeah that's how it went… I honestly barely remember that night; like I do remember confessing to Kaji but everything after that is just a blur. Probably why I couldn't pick up on your breakthrough as well."
E: "Maybe that's flipped around in this world too. They have their big kiss now that they're all alone and away from Rei."
R: "Of course…"
A: "You know my MO by now Wondergirl!" Before a guilty sidewards glance. "It was exactly the same here too, at least until I realised a few things about you…"
R: "I think we both had to realise those things about each other." Rei would give her a friendly nudge.
A: "Eheh, yeah…" Asuka couldn't help the blush.
Hikari rolled her eyes. "I'm still a bit weirded out by girls flirting with other girls…"
A: "Oh what's so bad about it? You and your beautiful eyes there!"
Hikari was the one blushing now. "A-Asuka!?"
Mi: "Why did they have to show us in bed…" In a grumble.
May: "Could be worse, I'm still embarrassed for you from that scene in the Laserdiscs."
Misato would cringe as she recalled. "Yeah and why did it have to go for so long!"
R: "Anno just wanted to capture in real time the love you two felt. I think it a rather romantic way of filling in the time."
A: "I mean out of all the ways to fill in the time, it was definitely one of the most amusing."
Mi: "But I didn't want that in there!"
S: "We all have things we didn't want to see in the Laserdiscs…"
A: "Ooh yeah that was a lot more worse than seeing you two get it on."
Hik: "I'm not sure what's the worst thing about that…"
A: "Oh my God you do not wanna know what Shinji did."
S: "It disturbed all of us and I hope to everything it isn't in here too…"
Hik: "Duly noted, I think that's one thing I will not ask about…"
A: "Believe me girl, you'll know it when you see it."
Z: "Does Kaji have that attitude here too?"
Mi: "Oh he has it." She'd grumble. "He doesn't care if he dies. I care though! I freakin' hate how he dies in most of these works and it makes me fear it's gonna happen here to!"
K: "You best hope whoever is captaining our fates cares as much for him as he does for the rest of us."
Mi: "I mean he's survived this long so far…"
Hik: "So… you guys believe this is all just a work too?"
R: "Even logically speaking, every one of these works had an author, it figures if our reality has someone tending to it somewhere."
Hik: "I… I think I need some ibuprofen…"
… (20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26)
A: "God damn it Misato interrupting our big moment!"
Mi: "Oh we're interrupting your moment?!"
Hir: "Yeah I think it's mutual at that point."
R: "Though I am flattered that I am already considered that to you at that point."
S: "I mean… you are, aren't you?"
R: "More or less cut from the same cloth, yes." Giving him a slight smile. "Also, rather telling of your feelings of him, Asuka."
A: "Oy… it's the Israfel Special all over again!"
Maya thought about it for a second. "Oh is that what you call your dynamic?!"
R: "It is a rather fitting name, though we had to adjust it to incorporate Kaworu into the dynamic."
Hik: "Gah how do you guys just constantly flirt with each other?!"
K: "Years of trauma with only having these few people who can even hope to understand it."
A: "Yeah it's mainly the whole they don't understand sorta thing. Like, every boy other than Shinji I tried dating just saw me as nothing more than a trophy wife, not that I'd ever be allowed to tell them about anything going on in my mind or at work anyway."
S: "Honestly it was expected it'd work out like that."
Hik: "I ended up with Toji alright…"
Mi: "You were a bit of a late inductee anyway, and we made an effort to keep you as normal as possible, so to speak."
E: "So much for that, huh?"
Hik: "I mean… I do appreciate the sentiment. But I want to know. Even if it's like pulling me out of the Matrix a bit."
R: "Would you prefer going back to a life before Evangelion? Before all of this?"
Hik: "No." With nary a thought. "I joined up because I wanted to help you, my family, and the ones I love. I knew from all the sorties you've had before what I'd be getting into, and I expected it to be a lot worse than what was depicted. Because yeah, it's war. War messes you up. I knew that much and I still went for it. And honestly, seeing all this and finding out more about it all has vindicated that decision for me. We… well, we do this so no one else has to go through it."
Z: "You would have made a great soldier, Hikari."
Hik: "Eheh, I'll take that as a compliment."

"So… I know it's us and everything, but really what was the point of having that happen if it's not alongside an Angel attacking?"

"I struggle to see the reasons too." Rei would think. "But then again, does life have any reason to it?"

"Maybe not, but from a literary standpoint it doesn't make much sense."

"A lot of our lives don't make sense from that standpoint, but here we are regardless." Kaworu would say.

"Maybe they j-just really wanted to embarrass you all."

"Well they did a good job at that!" Bristled Misato. "And it really isn't what it looks like."

"Oh we know that much at least, maybe we can mutually agree to let bygones be bygones and not tell anyone about our mutual vulnerability there."

"We'll agree to that, let's see if they do!"

2.32: The Abyss Of Truth

COINTELPRO (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Maya could only sigh. "I hate seeing Sempai stressed out like that…"
E: "Happens all too often, doesn't it? Though I suppose it figures for someone of her standing…"
Mi: "Yeah, not like it's avoidable. Hell, poor girl's probably pulling her hair out about this whole flight delay."
K: "It's not everyday you have to carry an alien corpse through international customs."
Hik: "Again that sounds like something I don't wanna know about!"
Mi: "Oh we can definitely show you the alien corpse once it gets here."
A: "Ooh can I see?!"
Hik: "You sound way too excited at that prospect."
R: "I would also be interested in seeing it, if just to spit in its face." Rei would quietly boil. "Also, I may require it to show Lilith, she has a vested interest in keeping the Incubators under control."
S: "I think we need to know that story."
R: "It's a very long story but the summary is the Incubators and the FAR were in war, the FAR decisively defeated them and did a mass genocide on them, and the Incubators want revenge."
The crowd was silent. "I mean from my perspective it sounds like the FAR were in the wrong!"
R: "The Incubators started the war by killing millions of FAR and consuming their souls, it was a war of attrition for hundreds of millions of years with millions on both sides perishing, and the Incubators saw the FAR as nothing but cattle and wanted them all wiped out."
Z: "Ah so it's just desserts at that point! Yeah f*ck those guys!"
Mar: "War really is hell i-isn't it… no matter who or where it happens."
Mi: "We may have to make a slideshow on it just so you know how to identify it and how to counteract it."
Hir: "Sounds like we just need to kill it."
Mi: "Yeah it's mostly that, but you'd probably want a Nephilim to do it."
Z: "We can't just shoot them?"
Mar: "I mean you might be able to if you w-were quick enough, or had some sorta time magic."
R: "Unfortunately we are not Homura Akemi."
A: "You can move pretty fast though!"
K: "So can they."
Z: "Maybe you guys just need to become Nephilim to sort them out!"
Mi: "Oy, I do not wanna deal with the United Nations if we go for that…"
May: "Yeah they're gonna start asking questions if we start doing Nephilim en-masse."
Mi: "They're already asking questions about our use of Nephilim, it wouldn't surprise me if they already had a soft restriction against us making more Nephilim, or at least limiting it per base like what they do with the Vatican Protocol."
R: "Should we tell them that Lilith intends on us to become Nephilim one way or another?"
Misato blinked. "Well if she wants to stir the pot like that, she can tell them herself."
R: "I'll make a note of that."
… (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
Asuka cringed immensely at that letter. "I'm such a f*cking child oh my God…"
Misato meanwhile was giggling like a schoolgirl. "God you have such a crush on him!"
E: "And dragging Shinji's good name through the mud at that!"
A: "Cut me some slack I'm on my period!"
Hik: "I'm surprised this mentioned that."
Mi: "Eh it's a natural thing, nothing wrong with it."
A: "It f*cking sucks though, one of the best things about those contraceptives you gave us is it really reduces how that's like."
Hik: "…Oh really?"
A: "Oh yeah, it's a NERV home-brand implant thingy, don't know what's in it or if it's gonna have any weird side effects, but Ritsuko's confident enough to use it herself so I'll call that a vote of confidence."
Z: "I thought she lays with a girl?"
Maya blushed and bristled. "Y-You can still opt to take it if it means not getting it really bad when that time comes! I… do that too, admittedly."
Hik: "I, uhh, might have to get a prescription for that Commander…" She'd quietly squeak out. "I… get it real bad."
Mi: "Obviously not for any other reason, eh?"
Hikari's luminescence would outshine the lights in the room. "N-No ma'am…"
Mi: "Ah I'm only teasing you, Maya should be able to get you some afterwards."
A: "You're telling me you've gone all these years with that lummox of yours and you still use a condom?!"
Hikari would glance away in a whimper, still all too embarrassed to even say anything.
R: "Now now, don't shame her for doing it her way. Even if it's a far less enjoyable way of doing it."
A: "So you're telling me you've never given him the satisfaction of-"
Such conversation would continue, Hikari far too embarrassed to say anything about it.
E: "Oh it's alright." Eliza would pat her on the back. "I find it weird too."
Hik: "At least that makes two of us."
Mi: "Alright alright less talk about sex and more talk about the trauma we're about to experience… because if this is the scene I'm thinking it'll be, boy does Shinji have something coming for him."
S: "Having been down to Terminal Dogma… yeah, I'm in for a shock."
R: "Even in your visit in the Laserdiscs… it was not to your preference."
A: "Now that is an understatement."

The Face Of God (13, 14, 15, 16, 17)
Mi: "God… I remember seeing her for the first time."
R: "Harrowing?"
Mi: "I mean… it's only God. More or less."
R: "She doesn't prefer that description, but yes, in a way."
Hik: "I can see why you call him a quintuple agent, Misato…"
Mi: "He works for anything and anyone, the snake."
E: "Doesn't he just work for us now?"
Mi: "You trust his word?"
May: "I'd have hoped you could trust his word!"
Mi: "And I do! Because I promised him that I would kill him myself if he was moonlighting like that again."
Z: "Well that just means he might be more subtle about it."
K: "Or, he appreciates the love that he has for Misato and wouldn't do anything to betray it."
Mi: "That's what I'm hoping for…" She'd sigh. "But you can see how he's like. Like yeah, he's a good partner to me. But he's got a history. And who knows if any of that will catch up to him…"
Mar: "Must be hard to l-love him."
Mi: "That's the thing… it isn't. For me at least. I'm still head over heels for him and part of me hates it because I know I might be setting myself up for failure and pain… but I've tried to distance myself from him before and I couldn't." She'd snicker. "I'm freakin' helpless ain't I?"
Hir: "We can't help the people we love. Eh, Zero Two?"
Z: "You got that right darling!" She'd cheer.
Mi: "And… yeah. Were it not for Kaji, I wouldn't know half the things I know. And begrudging I may be to admit it, he did help us when it came to getting rid of the old administration and Seele."
May: "Including showing you the truth."
Mi: "Mhm… whether I wanted to see it or not."
… (18-19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24)
Hikari was wide-eyed. "O… oh Gods…"
R: "Not the best she looked, admittedly."
K: "What you see there is Lilith, Hikari. At least her corporeal form. She's much more elegant in her metaphysical form."
R: "I'm gonna tell her you said that."
K: "I'd rather not have her tear my soul asunder."
Hik: "S… so… this is Lilith. Our-" She'd gulp. "Our god?"
E: "More a misnomer, as Rei suggested… but she is our progenitor. Just about every single cell on Earth can claim heritage from her."
Z: "You'd pretty much have to be from another reality to not claim that. Darling and I both can claim that, as can Kaworu."
K: "My progenitor is Adam, indeed. The Incubators could claim the same, cut from an altogether different cloth than any of us."
Mi: "It's from Lilith our relation to the FAR come from. Hence the name we gave them: First Ancestral Race. They are the ultimate root of all life, at least on this Earth."
May: "And why we share a connection with Adam based life too, despite how completely different we appear."
S: "There was that sortie where you had to put the Lance of Longinus away, and your view was all pixellated. This is where the Lance went."
Mar: "Not many people know of Lilith. This is our b-big secret, pretty much. Because… yeah, telling people we have God in our basem*nt is a bit of a harrowing truth to tell them."
A: "You're only disproving their whole religion and everything with that, a lot of people would be pretty angry at that."
Mar: "Kaji actually g-got it wrong here."
K: "Indeed, Adam is long gone at this point. Only one progenitor should occupy a system; that is the natural order the FAR prescribed."
A: "Did we ever get an explanation as to her mask?"
R: "I suspect it is a part of her being a progenitor, it's true meaning I have yet to learn. I suspect I have a lot more I need to learn before I will be told its meaning."
K: "But it was such powerful symbology that Seele adopted it for their own use."
Mar: "Oh so the seven eyes is F-FAR symbology then?"
K: "As far as we can-"
Hikari would faint again.
Hir: "Think that was too much for her to find out?"
E: "Most likely." Eliza would be the one to nurse her back into her seat, giving her a glass of water. "Are you okay?"
Hik: "I just found out God exists and they reside in our basem*nt no I'm not okay!" Near hysteric as she sunk the water. "Whew… okay, hold up, so… Lilith. She's… our progenitor. So we all come from her, one way or another?"
R: "Indeed."
Hik: "Mmm, okay… g-geez… no wonder you seemed so taken aback at that, Shinji."
He'd shrug. "You get used to the thought."
Mar: "I actually think it's q-quite comforting knowing there's some sorta thingo watching over us. Dunno if she's actually that o-omnipresent or anything, but it's a nice thought."
Mi: "Not like you have to ditch your religion either. Hmpf, not that I quite believed in God anyway…" Playing with the cross she wore. "Not after what happened."

"I want to see her." Hikari would affirm. "I need to see her with my own eyes now."

Rei looked to the manga. "There is one more issue, and then I will show you to Terminal Dogma."

"But just know there's no going back once you are shown what lies in Terminal Dogma." Misato would warn. "What's down there is so secretive that we would insist you stay with NERV. We cannot risk it."

"I understand. I want to see her."

A moment of quiet, as they glanced between each other.

"You're braver than most people in the face of God." Snickered Asuka. "Well, best not keep her waiting! Let's get this next one done!"

2.33: Aquarium

Heavy Rain (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
Mi: "You look very cute there Shin-chan!"
S: "T-Thanks…" He'd blush.
A: "I think I'd like to keep that!" Asuka cheered. "Hell, I'm sure your mama would love it, Shinji!"
S: "She would…" Before a sigh. "Bet you're feeling a little similar there, Hikari."
Hik: "I gotta be honest I'm still trying to process what I've seen so don't mind if I'm a bit quiet okay?"
May: "That's understandable honestly."
Z: "You've seen Lilith too, Maya?"
May: "Mhm, though I honestly didn't get much time to think about it." In a slight snicker. "Sempai stashed me down there for my safety when the Incursion happened; I only realised just what I saw after the fact."
E: "At least that would've given you some time to process it."
May: "I didn't even think it was that strange, honestly. After everything I've seen in this job."
K: "It still wasn't exactly shrugging it off though."
May: "Oh absolutely not, I still had a few nights afterwards just laying awake in bed thinking about it!"
R: "Really no wonder your sync rate is down, Shinji."
S: "Well I just have the hatred of my father and the fact God exists in the basem*nt sitting in my mind."
Mi: "That would negatively affect syncs wouldn't it…"
Z: "How do you think your sync will look, Hikari?"
Hik: "Probably single digits."
A: "Oh c'mon girl it wouldn't be that bad!" Giving her a playful nudge. "You're strong, you'll get through it!"
Hik: "Maybe eventually…"
… (9, 10, 11, 12)
R: "That was rather rude of you, Asuka."
A: "Wouldn't be the first time and won't be the last! Unfortunately…"
S: "At least we tried to speak."
Mar: "Heh, someone's j-jealous."
A: "Ooh yah, I think she's scared Shinji's doing better in that department than she is with Kaji."
E: "How key to your mental health is Kaji?"
A: "I think it was one of the reasons I had my big breakdown in the Laserdiscs. That, Arael, and not being able to sync with Unit-02 anymore made me feel completely useless and my mind just kinda collapsed."
Hik: "…You faced Arael in the Laserdiscs?"
A: "Mhm… of course, just watching myself go through that doesn't hold a candle to what Rei and Kaworu went through."
Rei had a sad look. "It still affects me sometimes. Not as much as it used to, with time and with others to help heal me."
K: "It still gets you though. Sometimes when you least expect it."
R: "We… have a few things like that, don't we?"
A: "Something you'll find with us, Hikari… we all pretty much fell for each other because of this shared trauma. We're one of the few people in the world to truly know how it feels like."
Hik: "…I'm not gonna have to expose Toji to all this, will I?"
Mi: "It's… almost inevitable as pilot he gets exposed to this."
A: "Your duty would be to protect him from the brunt of it. You'll most likely be in the core position of a NACSS system, right?"
Hikari would give her a nod.
A: "What… I'm learning, and what the pilots over in Boston will be learning, the core position is as important as the pilot, if for different reasons. Your job is to protect your pilot. You're the bridge between them and the Evangelion, and if you're not speaking together perfectly, well, you're not in for a good time."
S: "And our mothers would know this too… if the pilot is in danger… sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands."
Z: "Ooh I know that one too! Sometimes you just need to do it yourself, whether due to pilot incompetence or just protecting them."
A: "To be fair it's only usually incompetence in your case."
Z: "Girl have you seen most of the boys they paired me with? They honestly deserved it."
A: "Either way… you'll be protecting Toji. Like your mother has protected you. That… that also means bearing the brunt of the pain. It's… honestly exhausting. Eight hours of a sortie and I'm spent, and that's just for training. I haven't done a full sortie yet on the NACSS; Boston have that up on us."
R: "I would be interested to speak with the Boston pilots and see how they were feeling after their sortie."
K: "Yomiko is the core aspect of her pairing, she seemed okay afterwards but I suspect it was mainly adrenaline."
A: "You tend to be okay after like an hour or so to just completely veg out, I find. But yeah, in that hour I am completely useless to the world, I swear! And I really prefer just being able to cuddle up with someone afterwards y'know?"
Mi: "We usually do the debrief after you've had time to rest, I think we need to remind Boston of that."
K: "I will be sure to let Mabel and company know."

Revelations (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18)
May: "Are we gonna have to tell Hikari about that too?"
Hik: "Oh I already knew of Seele."
Mi: "Kinda had to know about them by the time of the Incursion huh…"
Z: "I find it interesting the scrolls had the entire outline of human history there, like it doesn't really make much sense to me."
K: "It is more a misnomer, at least to what Kaji suggests. Obviously the scrolls were not fate, as we are still standing here."
A: "There is no fate but what we make ourselves, as the wise Sarah Connor once said!"
E: "I am not watching the Terminator series."
A: "Oh it's not just killer robots Eliza!"
Mi: "Even so, it wouldn't surprise me if Seele, with all their power, aimed to make the world follow the scrolls."
K: "Indeed, they were more guidelines in order to enact an Instrumentality. It was up to them to make the world ready for it. I'm surprised Kaji is being so careless with mentioning their name however."
Mi: "Figures he's suicidal like that…" She'd grumble. "Man has a death wish."
Hik: "So what are the dead sea scrolls anyway? I don't think I really got much more info other than it's what Seele used…"
R: "They are an instruction for how to evolve humanity into something akin to the FAR."
K: "Seele had misinterpreted the original instruction, and their actions would have triggered an 'emergency stop', for lack of a better turn of phrase."
R: "Difficult to say if it was even a misinterpretation. They were trying to interpret the written language of the FAR without any Rosetta Stone to aide in translation."
Mar: "Hey you're l-learning off Lilith, maybe you could interpret those scrolls!"
R: "I will need to learn more about the language of my ancestors before I can feel confident in interpreting it. Do we even know where the dead sea scrolls are, Misato?"
She shook her head. "Either destroyed or they have not been found yet."
R: "A shame. I am sure Lilith has copies of the text."
Hik: "I think I understand, from what it sounds like it was something that Lilith left somewhere?"
K: "Perhaps as a way to guide whoever evolves intelligence to her. Of course, in our case, it resulted in a rather dire situation."
May: "Bit of an understatement right there…"
Mi: "Although… getting a look at the front page might allow us to better track it." As she inspected its depiction. "We already had the Magi try to understand the excerpts we obtained from the fourth Theatrical."
Z: "How'd that go for you, considering what you said about their language earlier?"
Mi: "Yeah it's been stuck at 0.00% since it started…"
Z: "Go figure."
… (19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26)
Shinji's look was one of restlessness as he sighed. "I… still don't understand why mom wanted me there. If her intention was to show me the brightness of humanity's future, why did she have to do it like that?!"
A slam on the table rattled everyone's attention. "All it did was cast me into darkness! I can barely even blame my father for what he did, he was just as traumatised as I was and I don't think he was told what she would do either!"
Hik: "You make it sound like it was a deliberate decision on her part."
S: "It was!" He'd cry out. "She… she told me she wanted to become a part of the Evangelion. That was her way of being able to protect me from what Seele were going to do, but…"
His fists clenched… he hated being reminded of that, even if his mom was back. "I think I still have bad blood over that. Maybe that's why I haven't been to see her too much. I… you don't really get over that too easily."
E: "At least your mother is around to make amends with. You cannot do that with your father."
S: "Mhm… I'll need to do that sometime. When I'm ready."
Hik: "So… what is the purpose of spearing Lilith with the Lance?"
R: "I was not told of its mechanism, but it has the effect of nullifying her metaphysical ability. The thought was that this would aide us in throwing the Angels off the scent."
K: "Not that it worked."
R: "You were still able to find her in the end, so no it didn't."
Mi: "And actually we don't want to nullify her ability at all nowadays, do we?"
R: "It is not ideal when she can act as an early warning beacon for any dangers that may come our way."
May: "Where do we keep the Lance then?"
Mi: "It's in Terminal Dogma, I think we just embedded it in the ground somewhere. We just put it back down there actually."
Hik: "Mhm, I knew we used it in Southern Cross…" Furrowing her brow. "So does that make the Lance only effective against FAR adjacent beings?"
Mi: "I mean, it's a giant indestructible lance, so even if it didn't have that metaphysical capability, it ought to be a pretty good offensive weapon regardless."
May: "Pretty sure the Kurdaitcha aren't 'Angels' per se, their DNA is closer to Hiro and Zero Two's if anything."
Both of them would turn in abject shock. "…Really?"
May: "Uhh… was I not meant to say anything about that?"
Mi: "Not in front of them, no." In flat remark. "I mean it's an open secret that who we're dealing with is VIRM."
Z: "Not to us it wasn't!"
Misato blink. "Did no one tell them about them?"
A: "I mean they spend most of their time messing around with each other so not like we've even had the time to."
Hik: "Coming from you."
A: "Hey I know when to put down the bottle!"
Hik: "Do you now!?"

Zero Two would abruptly stand up, Hiro in tow. "I… need to talk over a few things with my darling."

They'd leave.

"Well that's just fine and dandy." Misato would mutter. "As if we didn't have enough problems to deal with…"

"I think this is a good time to show Hikari Lilith." As she grabbed a hold of her arm. "Please do not resist."

"W-Why did you phrase it like that?!" Rei would cart her out of the room.

"What about you two, how are you-"

Kaworu and Mari's phone line had already disconnected at this point.

"Mmgh, you two?"

Shinji was essentially non-verbal at this point. "I think I need to give Shinji some of our patented therapy." Giving Misato a side glance, before escorting Shinji away.

"Great, everyone's struggling and-"

Maya's phone would ping. "Oh! Sempai's plane has left! I gotta go pick her up!"

She'd rush out of the lab.

Leaving Misato to sigh, loudly and dramatically. And Eliza of all people to comfort her, patting her on the back. "You look like you need a drink."

"Mmgh I think I do…" Slowly walking away with her. "You drink?"


"Damn, they have not been a good influence on you."

"Coming from notorious drunkard Misato Katsuragi."

"Pfft, yeah fair enough…"

3. Introductions

Zero Two eventually shoved Hiro into a bathroom stall. "Okay… quick meeting." Grabbing a seat on him. "So… VIRM."

"They're here."

"Yeah." In pensive tone. "And… they're sending monsters?"

"I…" Hiro glanced away. "Saw the video of that first one. It had… purple veins on it."

A thought. "Hmpf, that is their favourite colour, isn't it darling…"

She would nuzzle into him… enjoying his warmth. "…they followed us here. Didn't they?"

"I would assume so, yeah."

Another quiet thought. "So… darling… how are we going to deal with them?"

"I mean, last time we dealt with them, we… well, ended up here."

Grabbing a hold of his face and looking straight at him. "They followed us here. We need to deal with them, whether we want to or not. It's… well, our responsibility. Isn't it?"

Hiro would give a nod in confirmation. "But we can't do it alone. We… we know what happened the last time we tried dealing with them."

That got Zero Two to shift her vision away from Hiro. "Do you think we'll die if we face them again?"

"I- well…" As Hiro thought. "I can't say. Maybe if we-"

"Hmpf, didn't know darling was afraid of death." She'd snicker. "We ended up here. Maybe we'll just end up somewhere else."

"Do you think we'll end up home, Zero Two?"

She'd think for a moment.

And wrap him up in her arms. "I… don't think home is an option for us, Hiro. Not as we know it, at least… you remember the end of our anime. We may get back there eventually… but not as we were."

"…I really miss them, y'know."

"I know, darling." He would return the favour, holding her close to him. "I know… on the bright side, they don't have to deal with them. They're free to live how they want to. All… all we can really do is keep their memory going with us."

She'd smirk. "And kill those bastards that followed us! It'd be the least we could do for them darling!"

Another beat, before he ended up smiling. "I love you Zero Two."

"I know." And giving him a kiss. "And I love you too darling! Now, that we're all cheered up and all-"

They'd soon realise they were still in a bathroom stall.

"Ahh… heh, maybe somewhere a little better." She'd snicker.

A two mile long elevator ride followed by a mile long walk down the corridor to Final Heaven. "Hikari. Once I open this door there is no going back. Are you ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be…" Nervously glancing to the door. "Is… it not a swipe card?"

"We changed it when Kaji so helpfully revealed how easy it would be to swipe a card from someone."

Instead the door had a built in microphone. "Rei Ayanami."

Almost immediately a turret would emerge from the ceiling and track on Hikari. "Woa- HEY!"

"-and guest."

The turret disengaged. "Sorry to give you a scare, Hikari."

Hikari was hyperventilating. "T-That's okay! I'm fine!"

The movement of the door made her jump again, as they opened the way to Terminal Dogma.

"O-Oh my…" Hikari's expression quite visibly turned to one of shock.

"Hikari, it is a pleasure to introduce you to my mother. Lilith."

Her form was slightly different to that depiction in the manga. Instead of the mass of body parts she had grown out of a stump torso, she had proper legs.

She was still crucified, however. LCL flowing down the crucifix from her stigmata and keeping the lake filled.

"Technically this is called the LCL Production Plant in official documentation. If… you ever wanted to know where it came from, here you do."

"So… LCL is her blood?"

"Technically she does not possess blood. LCL is closer to… hmm, do you know of the life studies we did last year? How one of the theories of how life came to be is of a primordial soup?"

Cupping her hands and taking some from the lake. "This is the primordial soup. When the progenitor settles on a planet, it naturally generates LCL in order to kickstart life."


"E-gha!" The voice knocked Hikari off her feet. "I-It talks?!"

"She, thank you very much."


"She's a lot more elegant in the metaphysical."

"S-s-s-so it's not just the voice of God all the time?! A-And how do you know my name?"

Rei gave her a flat stare, and Lilith gave off an energy that could be interpreted as a flat stare.

"R-right, sorry…"

"IT MAY BE BEST IF I COULD MEET HER IN PERSON-" Whatever words followed sounded like static to Hikari.


Rei would grab hold of Hikari's hand. "Come with me and do not let go."

"What do you-"

The world rushed past Hikari in blinding light, before settling in on… well, she couldn't even begin to think about describing it, honestly. "W… what happens if I let go of you?"

"You will immediately be ejected from this place and will most likely be unconscious for a week as you regain your energy."

"O-Okay…" As she held onto Rei tighter. "W… where are we anyway?"

"It is generally termed the astral." Rei would walk her down the endless length. "It is the space between the metaphysical and physical realms, where the two meet and interact."

Hikari wasn't quite sure what she was seeing in the distance… across the endless rivers of time. "There's others?"

"Different worlds, yes. This one…"

They seemed to be scientists in Hazardous Environment suits… Rei could even make out the Lambda on the front of some of them.

"…Let's just say they're in for some unforeseen consequences and leave it at that."

Turning them both around to see the other side of the shore…

What appeared to be an Incubator. Staring at them. "Why… why is it doing that?"

"I wouldn't worry about that one… we have our own to deal with, after all."


Either way, the Incubator would skittle away.

"I wouldn't worry yourself over it." A voice from the back called.

Rei and Hikari would turn to greet her. "W… woah…"

"It is good to see you again, [Mother]."

"I feel exactly the same, [Rei]." Giving her a hug, at least as much as she could with Hikari holding on. "And young Hikari, I am glad your family is doing well, despite the challenges you face."

"Y-Yes Ma'am!" Almost standing to attention. "D… do I want to ask how you know?"

"Every soul I have ever borne, I have an intrinsic link to." She's slightly smirk. "I suppose you could call this omnipresence if you want, at least within the context of Earthly life."

Hikari couldn't resist the temptation to challenge her. "N-"

"Nozomi is in an after school study session, she is currently learning advanced Japanese geography, and Kodama is… well, I know your sensitivities towards that subject so I will not go into detail."

That got her blushing at the thought. "Why did you think you could challenge her?" Rei would gently chide.

"I don't know! I'm… I'm just really taken aback at the thought that…"

Looking to Lilith, up at the… well, mother would be a good descriptor for her. She just seemed so… welcoming to Hikari.

Slowly, and bringing Rei along with her, she'd trudge up to Lilith… resting her head on her. "…Can you tell me about mom? It's… it's been a while since I've last been with her. I wanna know how she's going."

Her expression softened… running a hand over Hikari's head. "You may be disappointed with my answer. I cannot reach souls encapsulated in a core, as your mother is."

Hikari was quiet for a moment… a few tears coming from her. "Shh… I understand. You still have the ability to-"

"It's not the same!" She'd cry out. "I… I know she's by my side and all that but I wanna hug her. I wanna hear her laugh and I wanna see her with my family again… I…"

Lilith drew her closer, offering the girl her comfort. "You will have that in time, Hikari. There are so many things going on with NERV at the moment that it may be a while yet before you see her face again. But it will come."

"Y…" A sniffle. "You sound just like her to me, you know."

"I know." Still comforting her. "How long have you been holding onto your tensions, young one?"

"I… I need to."

"Do you?" She would ask again.

"I…" She'd grumble. "…I'm looking after my family. I can't be weak."

"No one person can be a foundation, you realise. It is too much to ask."

"But… but…"

"Your father. He's worked his whole life, and has done shift work since your mother passed into the Evangelion. But you are earning over eight times his wage now. Kodama has moved out of home and is making a living, even if you have your personal objections to how that has come about. Nozomi is the only one who needs support, and she is but a child."

Looking to her. "What do you want out of life, Hikari?"

"I… uhh…"

The thoughts would come to her. "I… I'm not really that complex. I just want my family to be happy, and… I eventually want a family of my own too."


Leaning in to whisper. "How many?"


"C'mon, you can tell me!" With a cheeky grin.

"A…" Glancing away with a slight blush. "I… didn't really have a firm ceiling in mind. I'd like three, same as my mama did. But it really depends."

"Well, you probably know what I'd say."

"Is that why Rei is a bit of a…" Glancing to her. "What's the word for it?"

"Babies." She'd grin.

"Yeah, that?"

"I'm only the mother of humanity, Hikari." In a snicker. "Is it really that surprising?"

"N-No… not really."

All she could do was sigh at this point. "So… you're essentially God then."

"More or less. Rei has already said the term is a little inaccurate, but it is close enough."

"Okay… okay…"

Hikari felt her warmth… it was like her own mother.

"There's something comforting about that."

"Know that I'm watching over you, okay? Do me proud."

"I- ahh… I'll try…"

With but a nod to Rei, they would be removed from the Astral, returning to Terminal Dogma. "W… woah…" Losing her balance briefly and relying on Rei's support.

"Left you with a bit to think about?"

"M-More than a bit, yeah… whoo boy…"

Gathering her bearing and looking around Terminal Dogma… Lilith was still there, now silent. But she could still feel a presence watching her.

"Do… Do I dare ask what else is down here?"

"One mind bending thing at a time, Hikari." Rei would start to help her out. "How do you feel?"

"T… Tired. I…"

Resting on Rei's shoulder. "I think I need to speak with Toji about a few things…"

"I am sure everyone at NERV would prefer you do not start your family just yet."

"Not like that!" She'd bristle. "But… I didn't lie to her."

"You are incapable of lying to her."

"Yeah yeah…" Slowly making their way to the elevator. "Just… just let me think about things for a few minutes… okay?"

A murdered out and armoured new model Chevrolet Suburban would pull up out the front of FCI Ray Brook. "They didn't have any prison closer to Massachusetts?"

"Unfortunately not, Ryoji." Grunted Spencer Makinami, as he got out of the car. "Not any that we had influence in, at the very least."

Kaji hopped out alongside him, grabbing an M4 rifle from the back of the SUV and hoisting it over his back. "You got the scanner?"

Spencer would shove it into his chest. "Make sure none of the surrounds are bugged bombed or otherwise. The feds know we're here, they won't annoy us."

A rather important prisoner was being released today. Important to them at least.

The welcoming party was a part of his plea bargain, after all. Two years in a federal clink, followed by mandatory 'community service'. Of course, where this community service was spent wasn't otherwise specified.

"We're clear." Kaji confirmed. "How much longer mate?"

"Fifteen minutes."

Several federal officers would file out through the doors, forming a guard that would eventually encircle them and the Suburban. "He doesn't warrant this much protection, right?"

"You know what they say about a woman scorned, especially if that woman's one like Odalia."

Soon through the doors, carrying a single suitcase of his belongings, and in a well kept suit, was one Alador Blight. Former head of science and technology at Blight Industries, and one of the key figures in Seele, if only thanks to his wife.

Still, a valuable addition to Ryoji and Spencer's, ahem, line of work. "I never expected to have quite the welcoming party." He'd idly comment to the men, offering his hand to shake. "I presume you know my name, may I ask yours?"

"Ryoji Kaji." He'd shake.

"Spencer Makinami."

There was a twinge of sympathy from the father within Alador, upon hearing that last name. "My apologies, Spencer. Her passing affected young Amity quite profoundly."

"Mhm…" In an aside glance. "She is why I'm in this line of work, Alador. I do not want anyone else going through what she did."

"A noble goal." He'd agree. "I did what I did for my family too… couldn't have Odalia do what she was doing."

"So I saw." Makinami would snicker, leading him into the Suburban. "I still don't believe the UN didn't believe you when you literally burst through the doors to out yourself."

"I should've known there'd be a line." He'd roll his eyes. "So… what will this job entail?"

Kaji had just entered the Suburban when a car bomb went off in the parking lot. "FLOOR IT MAKINAMI!"

Pedal to the metal and away they went, the federal agents opening fire on who Alador could only assume was a sleeper cell. "You didn't tell me you brought friends with you!"

"You're a popular man, mister Blight!" As Kaji jumped into the trunk space, pulling off his rifle and preparing it for combat. "Who did you piss off to deserve this treatment?!"

"My wife."

"Oof, I know how it's like dealing with a girl with a fire in her heart!" Glancing through the bulletproof glass. "We have two bogeys on our tail Makinami!"

"Well f*cking sort them out then!" All the while Spencer continued to drive away at who knows however many miles an hour, he didn't bother to look. "Get your hearing protection!"

"Oh alright dad!" Kaji would detest, as Spencer put his own, passing a set to Alador. "Do you know sign language?"


"Good, I don't either, put these on I'm gonna start blasting."

Alador promptly obliged. "WEAPONS HOT! KEEP YOUR HEADS DOWN!"

The rear window of the Suburban would wind down, Kaji ducking behind the partition and opening fire on the SUVs trailing him. "DON'T LET THEM BOX US!"

Spencer kept the gas down, driving in the middle of the road, swerving to avoid a direct line from the enemy vehicles. "DRIVER DOWN!"

The deceased driver of one of the vehicles was pushed out of the vehicle by the passenger, bouncing down the road where it hit the enemy SUV behind them.

"Sheesh, glad I left that job…"




He would pull out an under seat tray, packed to the brim with full magazines. "YOU WERE READY FOR THEM?!"

"NO sh*t WE WERE MATE!" Opening fire again, peppering the SUV with high capacity rounds.

Meanwhile Spencer would shout into a car phone. "YOU f*ckING MORONS!" Obviously there was some issue that let them slip through… "I'M GONNA FIND THE PERSON WHO LET THEM THROUGH AND SHOOT THEM MYSELF!"

"God damn is this really what I've gotten myself into…" Alador would quietly mutter to himself, with all the bullet fire and shouting going on otherwise it may as well have been internal monologue. "Should've just taken the extra time in prison…"

Eventually they were able to disable the first SUV, taking out its steering with it subsequently plowing straight into a tree, catching alight on impact. "WOOOOO!" Kaji would call out.

"DON'T GET EXCITED JUST YET!" Glancing into his rear view mirror (at least until it was shot apart by the other SUV). "THEY ARE STILL ON US!"

Kaji would pull Alador into the trunk space and hand him a Beretta from a corner storage pocket. "ALRIGHT MATE, YOUR FIRST ASSIGNMENT: KILL THOSE f*ckERS!"



Whether it was adrenaline or anything else, Alador would oblige, unloading a clip into the SUV.

Kaji would recoil back. "AGHH… f*ck!"

"YOU GOT SHOT? YOU f*ckING IDIOT!" Makinami decried from the front.

Alador would immediately duck to his aide. "THEY GOT YOUR SHOULDER!" Tearing off his shirt and tying it into a makeshift tourniquet. He would prop a spent magazine under the shot shoulder and pull Kaji's hand up to it. "KEEP PRESSURE ON IT!"


That left them without a gunner though… "I'm really doing this huh…"

Picking up the M4, Alador would quickly return to the back of the Suburban, and begin opening fire on the last attacking SUV. Well, he tried, immediately getting sent to the ground by the gun itself. "HOW THE f*ck DO YOU DEAL WITH THE RECOIL?!"

"WATCH YOUR STANCE!" Kaji shouted, before cringing in pain. "Mmgh I don't miss getting shot that's for sure…"

He had to duck from some oncoming fire, but a break in the shots as they presumedly reloaded was enough for him to reset his stance and lay some bullets into them.

Alador still couldn't help the cringe as he saw a spurt of blood paint the inside of the other SUV. "Ugh… DRIVER DOWN."

The vehicle would slow down enough as they shuffled about to have it PIT by a police vehicle. A few more police vehicles would speed past, forming a protective convoy alongside the shot up Suburban.

Spencer pulled his hearing protection off. "Whoowee! God it's been so long since I've been in that!"

"Yeah you might miss it!" Kaji would grimace out. "Gods I'm getting too old for this sh*t…"

"It's just a bullet wound, you'll be fine!"

He probably would be, it was just through the shoulder so nothing too vital… of course, the pain was still there.

Alador would drag him back onto the relative comfort of the back seat, keeping pressure on his wounds. "Nngh… thanks mate."

"You have anything to help his pain Spencer?"

"Uhh…" Rummaging through the glovebox. "Here!"

It was a flask, and judging by the smell, it was full to the brim of Kentucky bourbon. "Should I ask why this is in a car?!"

"Less talking and more drugging him up until we can get him to an infirmary!"

"Oh for God's sake…" Propping Kaji's head up. "Bottoms up!"

He'd splutter at the taste but he'd still drink it. "Gah that's almost as bad as the pain…"

"Hey, you're gonna be fine alright?" Propping his head up onto his leg and keeping pressure on the shoulder. "You're lucky it wasn't in the chest. A few inches to the left and that would've been it."

"Mmgh…" The alcohol couldn't hit soon enough. "f*ck Misato's gonna be angry at me…"

"That your partner?"

"Mm, yeah… technically fiancee, though I don't have any clue when we'd get the time to marry, honestly…"

A few memories of better times with Odalia would flash through. "Heh, hopefully she's better than my wife."

"Heh, I like to think so mate." Another sigh of pain, pulling Alador's hand towards him so as to add more pressure to the wound. "But she's the type that hates the line of work I do… for good reason, to be fair."

"I gotta say, I think any partner worth their salt would hate if their significant other was in this line of work."

That got a laugh out of Kaji. "It's not usually this exciting, trust me… agh-" He'd take a sharp breath in. "But yeah… I'm gonna get such a bollocking when I get back home. Well deserved, honestly…"

"Where's home for you, if you don't mind me asking?"

"Ahh… Japan. Tokyo-3."

A blink. "Honestly I was thinking you were Aussie with how you speak."

That got a laugh out of him. "I spent a few months over in Bendigo, call it reparations to the UN for all the double… triple… quadruple crossing I did."

"Well you wouldn't have been the only one sent to Australia for wrongdoing."

Another laugh from the injured Kaji. "You're funny. I think I'm gonna like you, Alador."

"I like to think I've made a good introduction." In a slight smile. "You wanna tell me more about Misato? I wouldn't mind hearing about someone more decent than who I got stuck with…"

"With a welcoming party like that? No…" Another snicker, and a sharp breath in. "Misato… where do I even start with her…"

The manager of the local IGA of Sept-Iles would wine up the roller shutters at the start of the day…

Only to find the store completely trashed. All of the shelves were knocked down, and half of the food consumed.

"…Non, pas aujourd'hui."
("No, not today…")

The manager instead rolled down the shutters and went back home, possibly to grab a stiff drink before the inevitable call with the insurance company.

In the meantime, an owl would fly from the roof, eventually finding a perch on a freight ship, travelling upstream of the St. Lawrence.

Slowly but surely she will get to her destination…

The Manga Chronicles - Chapter 6 - BG_Character_592 (2024)


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