Table of Contents
Shinji was getting annoyed. He was a being of change, of control, and right now he had neither. It was long past time to correct that situation.
The Eva sized rifle in Unit 01’s hands suddenly switched from targeting the Angel in the distance to a significantly closer skyscraper, hosing them down with 105mm penetrator rounds. The damage would have been mostly superficial had Shinji not pulled up his advanced targeting displays and used them to target the internal struts and shred them instead of sending most of his rounds straight through the structure.
Shinji watched impassively as the building toppled into one of its neighbours, setting up a domino effect that soon reached one of the weapon stores and set off a chain reaction that blew up a good chunk of the Tokyo-3 downtown along with Unit 01. This forced a system reset, ending the current incarnation of the simulation.
“Shinji, what do you think you’re doing?
” Misato screamed over the radio.
“Voicing my displeasuring in the only way I could considering no one was listening to me. Misato-san, these simulations are too easy,” Shinji said with a hint of fake childish petulance mixed in with real boredom.
“Shinji-kun, you need to learn the basics first. And this simulation is based off the data from your fight with the Third Angel,” Misato replies, still angry with him but most of the outrage fading from her voice.
“No, it’s not. All the briefings you gave me said that the Angels are supposed to learn and adapt. The data you’re using is clearly based off the Third Angel before it was hit by the N2 mine. Chimps can be trained to point and shoot at something that stupid. This isn’t combat training; it’s a multi-billion dollar first person shooter,” Shinji replied coldly.
At her station, Ritsuko shivered. Sometimes she would forget that the boy piloting the Eva was Gendo’s son, but every once in a while he showed his inner bastard. The boy could be far too clever by half sometimes.
Frowning, Misato says, “Fine. If you’re going to be that stubborn, what is your proposal?”
“Allow the simulated Angel to learn between simulations, allow the program to make adjustments to its strength, speed, and durability based on my previous actions. Add a mutation factor so that there will be growth in unexpected directions as well,” Shinji details out.
Frowning, Ritsuko says, “Increasing the strength, speed, and durability are fairly easy, but actual learning and the mutation factor would take quite a bit of time to program. Not only that, but if we increase the durability too much then the Angel could become immune to conventional weapons even if you neutralize its AT-field first.”
“And that would be unrealistic how Dr. Akagi?” Is Shinji’s response.
A hush descends over the control room as everyone considers the validity of that statement. They knew next to nothing about the Angels, that one of these creatures might be immune to the weapons they were giving Shinji was not impossible. In fact, there was a chance that it was likely
Nodding, Misato turns to Ritsuko and says, “Begin modifying the simulation. Shinji’s right. If we train him to fight the last battle we’ll lose the next one. He’d already figured out fire control, as demonstrated by his little stunt, he needs to learn actual combat now, against a challenging
Nodding, Ritsuko and the other MAGI technicians begin updating the parameters for the next simulation while also working out how to get the supercomputers to do this automatically while not overwhelming Shinji, and to add the mutation factor he asked for. Within a few minutes they had the next simulation prepared so that they could have Shinji continue his training.
Several hours later Shinji was hauled out of his entry plug, physically and mentally exhausted by the training. He hadn’t even realized how hard he was pushing himself he was so exhilarated by exposure to the Evangelion, but when he fainted in the last encounter even he had to admit that it was time to call it quits for the day.
He also knew that the weapons designers were going to have to go into overdrive. A mere 50% increase in the toughness of the Angel’s body and core had made it nearly completely immune to the weapons he had been using, as at that point even without an AT field the Angel could shrug off enough damage to quickly regenerate. They needed a weapon that caused tremendous damage to hard and soft tissue, where “soft” for an Angel meant “tougher than structural steel and thicker than battleship armour”.
Shinji had already made a few queries about how the AT field was projected that would hopefully let him have a force weapon by the end of the year, perhaps even sooner with the speeds at which people worked around here. Maybe with something like that he could start “experimenting” with his AT field. The thought of being able to throw lightning from an Eva filled him with a glee that would terrify most people.
The past week had been filled with long, boring lectures and discussions on the piloting of Unit 01 and discussions of what was known of the Angels, with frequent synchronization tests and the occasional combat simulation. Only today had they finally decided to give him some full training with the weapons. That unfortunately rapidly degenerated into endless repetitions of “Centre on the target and then pull the trigger.”
Now though, he definitely had the respect of a lot of people down here, and better yet, he was learning how not
to get himself killed in this thing. The berserker daemon inside the Eva could be rather difficult to handle, and in fact Shinji suspected that he wasn’t supposed to be dominating it, but rather syncing with the other spirit in there so that his commands could be passed on. It seemed like a rather backwards way to do things really, but he made sure to keep a link to the other soul so that he wasn’t moving Unit 01 around with a 12% sync ratio. He had settled in at around a 55% ratio, as that let his commands be almost doubled in strength without distracting him too much from controlling the daemon and
being capable of paying attention and reacting to his situation.
Once safely on his feet, his eyes drooping from the strain, he smiled and thanked the ground crew around him, basking in the pride and respect they were beaming at him. He was their pilot, and they were his
ground crew. They were useful pawns, but for now Shinji was content for them to simply worship him, such as it was.
People were such simple animals to control. Just show them a sliver of respect when you had power over you, and they would grovel at your feet like dogs demanding more scraps. A kind word here, a smile there, and they were putty in your hands. A little anger now and then when you were clearly and unequivocally in the right, and they would bow down to you as a king. So wise, so noble, so kind they would say.
And then you could tell them to march off a cliff and they would call you glorious.
Already, Shinji had ideas to further cement their loyalty to him. Perhaps he should ask for a rallying banner; a flag around which his pawns could flock. Humans did so love symbols, and if he could somehow get the eight-pointed Star of Chaos emblazoned on his Eva, so much the better. He would have to see if the seeds he had planted would start sprouting soon.
Who thought that painting a giant monster smashing mecha purple was a good idea? Seriously, who? Ah well, he had already heard a few of the techs commenting on how dark blue with gold would look better. There was also talk of how as humanity’s hope for the future, there should be more hopeful imagery on it. Maybe something featuring rebirth or renewal?
Scarabs perhaps? To the Japanese they would seem exotic, and the use of an ancient civilization would give the Eva a timeless, eternal feel. This was the greatest work of man, and it would stand for eternity in opposition to the Angels!
Ah, nothing like word here, an idle conversation there to get people thinking that your ideas were theirs. Another month and Shinji would have the ground crew demanding to redo Unit 01’s armour into something suitably Egyptian during the next refit cycle. And none would ever know where
this idea had come from; just that it seemed to have spontaneously arose from the ranks.
Once Shinji had managed to wash the remaining LCL out of his hair and changed out of his plug suit, he went to find Misato. He was particularly glad that he now publicly had enough money to invest in some of the finer things in life, and in what little spare time he had he bought a whole new wardrobe. Gone were the monochromatic white shirts and black pants, replaced by tastefully cut outfits made from the finest materials available, most often Egyptian linens or cottons, dyed a wide spectrum of colours and finely trimmed and embroidered where appropriate.
Updating his wardrobe, and to a degree Misato’s, had actually caused him to dip into his other reserves, but Misato had been so excited by the fact that Shinji wanted to actually go clothes shopping with her that she had not paid any attention to how much was actually being spent. Soon he would begin making discrete investments, none truly realizing how much money he was actually moving about, distracted by his seemingly flippant and childish spending sprees.
Plus the clothes made him look good
Finding Misato waiting for him outside the locker rooms, Shinji waves and says with a yawn, “Hello Misato-san. Thanks for the advice in that last simulation.”
Grinning, Misato puts her arm over Shinji in a motherly fashion and says, “Hey, you were the one who wanted to electrocute the Angel, I just figured out how to best do it.”
“I never would have done it without you,” Shinji says, leaning happily into her. In the past week he had come to cherish Misato’s life more. She was nuts
, but she was the kind of nuts that Shinji liked. He hadn’t realized how much he missed his mother until this… neither substitute or replacement was the right word. Misato was an alternative mother.
“Yes, well, you never should have done that last simulation at all. Look at you! You’re exhausted and it’s your first day of school tomorrow,” Misato says both sternly and teasingly.
A sudden irrational jolt of pain shot through Shinji’s heart. His rapidly growing feelings for Misato were suddenly juxtaposed with a decade’s worth of pain and loneliness. Oh, how he had longed to hear his own mother say those words!
Shinji was drained mentally and physically and his normally perfect mask crumbled under the internal emotional storm. Before he could help it, his lower lip was trembling and tears were welling up in his eyes, and the harder he fought against the rising tide of suppressed pain, the worse it got.
Misato paused and looked at him, asking worriedly, “Shinji, what’s wrong?”
His nose flooding with moisture diverted from his eyes, Shinji says, “I… I… you have no idea how long I’ve waited to hear someone say that.”
“What?” Misato asks, clearly confused about what statement he was crying about.
“‘It’s your first day of school tomorrow’,” Shinji replies before burying his face in her shoulder to hide his tears.
A look comes over Misato’s face, one part embarrassment, one part concern, and one part just plain confusion. Before she can chide him for being a boy and crying he responds with a muffled voice, “I saved humanity from a forty metre tall monster, so I think I deserve to be allowed to cry every now and then.”
The rebuke dying on her lips, Misato can only strengthen her hug about him and guide him away, saying, “It’s alright Shinji-kun, it’s alright.”
Shinji spent the rest of the trip home brooding, looking pensively out the window, annoyed with his lack of control. He was also brooded over the fact that he was brooding. He hated brooding, it was so unproductive.Damn it! Damn it! How did I let such a simple, stupid thing get to me? I’m better than this! Damn it! How did I… damn it! I’m going in circles! How could I let myself go in…? DAMN IT!
Flopping down on his bed, Shinji found that his exhaustion had been replaced by angry, restless energy. He had to work out the emotions in his system before he could fall asleep. After trying to meditate for a time, he gave up in frustration. Meditation would not purge him of these feelings.
So he pulled out his cello. He had taken up the cello originally to blend in, but the capacity to make music gave him a valve to vent all the emotions and frustrations that would have been impossible to allow form in any more easily translated medium. Rage, loss, and the desire to commit atrocities against others were much harder to pin down when you expressed them across the strings of a cello.
Shinji had a taste towards the stranger uses of the cello, especially the way it had been developing into popular Western music in the years before Second Impact caused global culture to come grinding to a halt in the name of survival. Frenetic, angry notes flew in ordered discord from Shinji’s bow as he poured all his hate into his instrument.
Eventually he was finally as emotionally drained as he was physically and mentally, the works of vanished Finns having sated his desire for destruction: destruction of others, destruction of the self. He had no idea where he would be without his sensei, but he doubted it would be a good place. Self-loathing was such an easy trap to fall into, especially once one began to hate that aspect of the self. Disgust and abhorrence would breed and in-breed, becoming a mass of pathetic tumours about the heart and mind.
Shinji fell asleep happy that he was still in control.
Waking bright and early in the morning, Shinji went about making breakfast for all three members of the household. He tended towards being quick and with little ambition when making breakfast, saving the experimenting for dinner when he couldn’t accidentally ruin his day by doing something wrong. Or screw up so badly that Misato decided to take over the cooking.
By the time Shinji had eaten, cleaned up, and had everything ready for school, Misato was just rising and opening her first can of beer of the day. Shaking his head, he says, “Are you sure I have to go to school? Isn’t learning how to save the world somewhat more pressing?”
Waving her hand dismissively, Misato says, “We have no idea when the next Angel will show up. It could be tomorrow or another fifteen years from now. And this is Japan; you don’t get to miss school just because you pilot an Eva. Besides, you already have the basics and it’s going to take a while before we figure out a good training regimen for you.”
Shaking his head again, Shinji just says, “Fine.”
Waggling a finger teasingly, Misato says, “Don’t give me guff like that Shin-chan. You’re going to go out there, have fun, make friends, and meet a bunch of cute girls. Got that mister?”
Rolling his eyes, Shinji says jokingly, “Yes mother
,” before even thinking about the consequences of that. Realizing his mistake at the last instant, he bolts out the door before additional commentary could be made.Damn it! Damn it! DAMN IT! You’ve got to get your cool back dumb-ass! You’re forming an emotional connection with her! Stop it, now!
But he knew that it was too late. A bond had formed, one he had not been expecting, one he would not have invited. Sensei had cared for him, but had always been distant, physically and emotionally. Misato was so accessible and they were together so often at home and at work that the bond had snuck up on him. He would have to tread more carefully from now on, lest he grow more attached to her or others.
Attachments made it hard to sell people out, something Shinji was still quite willing to do.
Annoyed that he was starting to fall into more brooding, Shinji cheered himself up by plotting out impractical plans to off his father. By the time he got to his new school, he was grinning from ear to ear at how he had managed to perfect the plan involving a car battery, a geisha, a metric tonne of boiling ramen, and a rubber chicken. A true classic he had been working on for years.But where would I get
that much tapioca?
Shinji’s pace slowed as he entered the building and he began to feel an itching, scrabbling sensation from all around him. Cocking his head to the side, he tried to discerning the source, until eventually he arrived at his assigned classroom, a confused look on his face. What was going on?
And then he opened the door and he realized what was happening.
He was surrounded by psykers! They were all weaker than he had been when his sensei had found him, and just as suppressed, but they were all about him, the whole school filled with dozens of untrained psykers, their surface thoughts broadcast strongly enough that Shinji could pick up on them. He had to retract his senses to avoid going insane from the random, inane chatter, but without his warp senses active it was like intentionally blinding or deafening himself.
As he was standing there shutting out the background thoughts of so many twittering idiots somehow given powers they did not know of or even understand, a serious looking girl with pig tails came up to him and said in a business-like tone, “You’re the new transfer student, right?”
“Ah, yes. My name is Ikari Shinji, I presume you are the class representative if you were expecting me,” Shinji says smartly.
“Yes, I am Hikari Horaki. Good to see you here, so many people have been transferring out since that giant monster attacked,” Hikari says with a smile.
Shinji smiled back, having already subtly appraised her. Clever and business-like, this girl would probably be only moderately difficult to manipulate to his will. The trick would be in making her think she was doing the “right” and “proper” thing.
“I had to move here because of my father’s job,” Shinji says in explanation.
“Ah. Well, when sensei arrives he’ll assign you a seat, but for now any of the ones along this row will be empty,” Hikari says, indicating a section of seats.
Bowing respectfully, Shinji takes a seat and looks about the other students. Not many at the moment. He quickly catalogued Aida Kensuke as an overly intelligent idiot who would be so pathetically easy to manipulate it was mildly amusing, especially with his rapidly evident fascination with all things military. He would make a good pawn at some point.
And then Rei showed up, still heavily bandaged but now wearing a school uniform rather than a plug suit or a hospital gown. His eye caught hers for a moment before she turned away, no emotion on her face but a twinge of fear clearly radiating off her. This quickly made the other students rather uncomfortable.Interesting. None of them are even aware of why she scares them. This should prove… amusing.
Shinji enjoyed the first half day at school, in that while he remained a quiet introvert, there was no need to maintain the meek part of his mask as that was really not a face he felt he needed to project anymore. Aside from being a transfer student when everyone else was fleeing, he was a damn fine snappy dresser with an air of confidence. He didn’t speak up much because he didn’t need
And then lunch time came and the first thing Shinji did was approach Rei and say, “If you would care to join me for lunch, I will be on the roof Ayanami-san.”
That surely sent the rumour mills into overdrive, but Shinji cared not for the buzzing of insects. He left with a sly smile on his face.
Rei did not
join him for lunch on the roof that day. Or the next day. Or the day after that. He ate along on the roof, a smug smile on his face, for a full week, before Rei finally approached him.
Setting his bento box aside, Shinji clapped his hands and smiled, saying, “Thank you for joining me Ayanami-san.”
She blinked her unbound eye once at him before saying flatly, “You have asked me to come here every day since your arrival. Why?”
Lounging back, Shinji says, “It was merely a suggestion Ayanami-san. We share the same profession, no? We shall be working together, no? I merely felt that it would be good policy to come to friendly terms with one another.”
“That is unnecessary Ikari-kun. That we do our duty is sufficient,” Rei replies flatly.
His eyes still half-hooded and his mouth still smiling, Shinji says in a direct and serious tone of voice, “Why do I terrify you so Rei?”
The sudden change in tone and manner causes Rei to stiffen up as much as the direct question, but she says, “You do not terrify me Ikari-kun.”
“No? Then let us try some less emphatic adjectives. Scare? Spook? Frighten? Worry? Make to feel anxious? Go ahead, tell me which ones fit, Ayanami-san,” Shinji replies coolly.
They stare at one another for a long time before finally Rei blinks, turns, and walks away.
Still smiling, Shinji picks up his bento again and calls out to her, “I’ll be here tomorrow, ready to answer your questions.”
Rei did not show up the next day, but she did the day after, sitting down next to Shinji. There was silence for a long time before finally Rei says, “Ikari-kun, you are not like other children.”
“No, but I am like the other Children
,” Shinji says, using the English word used by NERV to designate the pilots.
“You…” Rei begins.
Raising a hand for silence, Shinji says, “I merely received training from one who knew how to… better utilize our gifts. It is something you could learn too, although I fear that I am now the only one who could teach you such things. Well… perhaps
you could learn them. You are… incomplete
. Such things are impossible for you right now.”
Rei absorbs this information before saying, “I am… made anxious by you Ikari-kun. You are… different.”
different Ayanami-san. Get used to it. When you are ready, ask me why I think you are incomplete,” Shinji says coolly, detecting that Rei was already reaching her tolerance of his mere presence. The Chaos in his soul was surely disturbing to her obedient, broken spirit. And yet she was still drawn to him.
Ayanami left and did not return to the roof for several days.
Before she returned, some interesting events happened.
The first was the arrival of a face new to Shinji, although not new to the rest of the class. A boy named Toji; he wore a track suit in defiance of the school uniform policies, although they seemed rather lax in enforcement anyway. While clearly aiming for the dumb jock look, Shinji found a perceptive mind hiding behind the muscle. Still relatively stupid, but not as stupid as he looked, which Shinji supposed was fairly easy to do.
“Where’ve you been Toji-kun? You haven’t been to school since the giant robot incident, and when I went to your house it was rubble,” Kensuke asks his friend.Oh ho!
Smacking his fist into his palm angrily, Toji says in a murderous fury, “That stupid robot crushed our home and my little sis got caught in the rubble. She’s been in the hospital since then, and with dad and gramps working overtime for NERV, I was the only one who could be there for her. If I ever find out who the pilot of that thing was, I’ll pound him flat.”Oh, this will be
Once class had started and no one was listening to the teacher drone on and on about Second Impact, Shinji found a message for him on his computer, asking if he was the pilot of the giant robot. The rumour mill had been stewing since his arrival two weeks ago, but with Toji now intent on discovering the identity of the pilot, someone had finally worked up the courage to ask the quiet young man directly.
Shinji replied with a message that read, “What do you think?”
The chat room instantly exploded into activity as everyone in the class interpreted that as either a confirmation or denial and reasoning for why they thought so. Watching the deluge of messages, Shinji finally added in, “That was a rhetorical question. It required no answer.”
“Are you the pilot then?”
The whole room exploded into activity as everyone mobbed about Shinji’s desk, asking questions about the robot that he deflected with quiet remarks of, “That’s classified.” Hikari tried to regain control, to which Shinji could just say to her, “The Chaos has been unleashed, best let it die down on its own.”
Soon after that the bell rang for lunch, at which point Hikari managed to shoo the crowd away from Shinji, who calmly walked out of the room and down to the courtyard, barely even paying attention to the furious boy following behind him or the nerd trailing in his wake.
Once outside, Shinji turned to face Toji, who was cracking his knuckles. “Sorry new kid, but for my sister I’ve got to pound you.”
Shinji caught the fist approaching his face in the palm of his hand, his natural strength enough to halt its momentum and hold it fast. Toji was bigger than him, but he had not trained most his life under the expectation of having to go hand to hand with a superhuman in power armour, and his sport of choice was basketball, not a sport known for practicing punching.
Shinji caught the other fist aimed for his face, and pulled Toji’s arms apart while Kensuke could just stand in the background and stare in mute awe at the display of strength Shinji was displaying. Tears began to form in Toji’s eyes from rage and pain as the bones of his hands creaked from the strain.
Finally, in desperation, he tried to kick Shinji, but just as his leg was leaving the ground Shinji shoved down violently, causing Toji’s other leg to buckle and forcing him to the ground on his knees, his fists still held in Shinji’s iron grip.Yes! Bow before your lord, your superior!
He did not let these feelings escape to his face however, but merely stared impassively down at Toji and asked, “Are you calm, or will you try to hit me if I let go?”
Toji didn’t answer, his head hung in shame.
Shinji released Toji’s arms, livid bruises forming on the backs of Toji’s hands already from where Shinji had placed his fingers. His arms flopped uselessly to his side, and then Shinji squatted down low to be level with Toji’s face.
“I know you must hate me for what happened to your sister, but let me tell you something: that was my first time in that war machine and I didn’t even learn how to make it walk properly until two days later. And it is… shall we say temperamental? I short, the commander of NERV wanted
it to go berserk. He’s
the one you should be mad at, not me. Do you want me to tell you his name?” Shinji whispers slyly and hatefully.
“The director of NERV is Ikari Gendo. Yes, Ikari
. So if you want to pound him, get in line, because the bastard is my own father and I hate him for what he has done to me,” Shinji says before rising.
The phone in his pocket then rang and he pulled it out to discover that he was needed at NERV immediately. The rising of sirens told him all he needed to know about why he was needed.
Shinji left Kensuke to gather up his fallen friend. Toji would soon come to worship Shinji for the same reasons all men worshipped terrible, cruel deities: fear
. Shinji could squash the boy and everything he loved like bugs, but he would not, for was he not a merciful deity? If he crippled his sister, did he not also, in his compassion, spare her life?
Rei was soon at Shinji’s side, their destination the same.
“A new Angel has been spotted,” Rei says flatly.
“Indeed. Time to see if practice will pay off,” Shinji says dryly.
“Hmmm… looks like Shinji was right to be worried, this Angel is nothing at all like the last one,” Ritsuko comments as visual data is fed to them. Long and low like a centipede, it floated above the Earth serenely despite the fact that it was cruising at near the speed of sound. Two stubby arms projected from its side near its spade shaped head, and its red core seemed to serve as a giant, cyclopean eye for the Fifth Angel.
“Looks like it’s a lucky thing we started adding flight capacity to the combat simulations,” Misato notes before asking, “What is Unit 01’s status?”
“Shinji has been loaded into the entry plug and is has stabilized at a sync ratio of 55%, as usual,” Maya reports. “All systems are nominal.”
Nodding, Misato looks up at Vice Commander Fuyutsuki, who merely nods before she says, “Eva launch!”
In the entry plug Shinji was expanding his awareness, pushing his psychic sight into the shifting currents of time, looking for snippets of moments yet to come to give him any advantage he could in the coming battle. Even knowing a second ahead of time what was going to happen could be precious in such a conflict.
Emerging from a hollowed out building, Shinji armed his assault rifle and moved to take a look at the enemy, keeping his AT-field tight against his Eva. A split second precognitive warning was all he had to move his head out of the way as a glowing pink tendril sliced through the building he was using for cover and nearly cut straight through his AT-field, only the angle preventing full penetration.
Rolling out of the way of the follow up strike, Shinji unfolded his field to neutralize the Angel’s, continuously moving to avoid the whip-cracking strikes, although he did take several glancing blows that melted away strips of his armour. Finally, after what felt like eternity but was probably only three seconds, the phase spaces neutralized and Shinji let loose with his weapon right at the bright red core.
The Angel took all of three hits on its core before it dropped its “head”, at which point the 105mm depleted uranium rounds began bouncing harmlessly off the creature’s unnaturally strong flesh. A precision tendril lash neatly dissected the rifle in Shinji’s hands, cutting it along atomic force planes.
“I’m going to need a bigger gun,” Shinji understates in agitation.
“Send him a rocket launcher immediately,” Misato commands the bridge crew, her orders rapidly being relayed. Then to Shinji, “The building marked on your map will have a rocket launcher for you in 30 seconds.”
“Affirmative,” Shinji notes while hopping and rolling about downtown Tokyo-3 in order to avoid being bisected by one of those energy tendrils, the various buildings taking a tremendous beating while Shinji concentrated on staying alive.
A light flashed on Shinji’s pop-up map display to show that the rocket launcher had arrived at the designated building. Getting it under these circumstances would be a bit difficult thought.
And then Shinji had an idea.
Dodging behind a particularly large and dense building, Shinji watched as the Angel sliced off the top ten floors before he built his AT-field into a wall, which he then shoved forward several metres in less than a second.
The Angel tried desperately to counter the attack, but its slicing did nothing to counter the overall momentum of the incoming object, and was subsequently bowled over by tens of thousands of tons of metal, glass, and concrete.
Floating back up off the ground and shaking off the offending debris, the Angel had just enough time to spot Unit 01, rocket launcher in hands, kick off from another building and approach from above, landing feet first on the Angel’s projected AT-field, driving it back into the ground.
Shinji opened up a hole in that field and shoved the entire rocket launcher through it before remotely triggering the launch command. The both missiles were already armed, and thus when the first one rushed down the tube and met Angel flesh, the back blast triggered the remaining missile and set off the hundreds unexploded munitions the Angel was lying in from the destroyed combat buildings.
Both Angel and Eva disappeared in the explosion.
“Unit 01’s cable has been severed,” Maya reported as the five-minute countdown timer kicked in automatically.
“Where is Unit 01?” Misato cried out as the image cleared at a badly mauled Angel could be seen rising from the rubble, its right side melted nearly beyond recognition by the blast and its belly oozing blue-purple blood from numerous wounds.
Only one camera caught what happened next, and it was in the awed hands of one Aida Kensuke.
” He whispered, dredging up the only profanity that seemed appropriate for the occasion.
Shinji had used the AT-field and the explosions to jump
nearly a kilometre into the air and had performed a tuck and roll to gain control over his tumble before drawing his progressive knife. Now falling spread eagle, he was directly above the confused and disoriented Angel and plummeting at a fantastic speed.Only a disciple of Tzeentch would be hopeful enough to think this would work and skilled enough to try it.
Shinji hit the Angel like the hammer of a god, it’s only warning the sudden neutralization of its weakened AT-field before Unit 01 slammed into it like a hunting falcon at the bottom of its stoop. The prog knife slashed straight through its head and slammed into its core, the knife going in to the hilt before momentum ripped it out of Shinji’s hand. His other hand grabbed hold of some of the creature’s flesh, which quickly tore under the uneven transfer of inertia.
Shinji smacked hard into the ground and dug a crater all the way to the first armour plate, but he held onto the Angel enough to bleed some of his energy to it, the off centre impact and its lack of ground contact causing it to be flipped across the city and collide with another munitions building.
Inside his entry plug, Shinji hurt all over, some of his pain from the Eva, some from his own body not appreciating the sudden acceleration. Fortunately the LCL matched human tissue quite well, so Shinji was insulated from shock to a large degree. The bound daemon wailed in fury and pain, but did not go berserk seeing as it was now terrified of Shinji.That… was stupid.
On the command bridge, everyone, including the normally unflappable Vice Commander, was staring at the screen in open mouthed shock and amazement. Finally Misato snapped out of it and demanded, “Status of the pilot?”
After a moment of looking dumbly at their instruments, everyone started scrambling about and reports started flooding back. “Shinji appears mostly fine… Eva has a broken right arm and several ribs have caved in. Armour integrity is at 30%.”
Sighing, Misato fingered her necklace and said, “At least that’s over…”
“Blue pattern still detected!” Someone shouted out.
Shinji heard that in his cockpit and could only groan, “You’ve got
to be shitting me.”
Floating out of the burning wreckage of where it had landed, the Fourth Angel floated lopsidedly over to Unit 01 and used its remaining tendril to grab hold of one of the legs by the ankle and physically pick the war machine up, spinning it a few times before releasing it like an Olympic hammer thrower. Shinji landed several kilometres away in the hills, gouging a deep impact trench in the soft earth before lying still.
Reaching up with a tendril to the inert prog knife, the Angel pulled it out as best it could. The energy whip quickly burned through the handle and thus left a good chunk of the blade still imbedded in its core. It then proceeded to begin regeneration of its battered frame, starting with the burned off arm, such that in a few seconds it had both tendrils active again.
Before it could begin rejoining its “head”, one of the special autocannon cars flew through the air to smash into it in an impressive fireball that sent shrapnel everywhere, gouging new holes in its body.
Now it was the Angel’s turn to go, “You’ve got
to be shitting me.”
Limping down out of the hills like a prize fighter coming back from a corner after the ref had nearly counted to ten, Unit 01 moved to finish the fight. One of its arms hung uselessly at its side, and its armour was cracked and coming off in places to reveal browned flesh that was bleeding, but it was still moving, still pissed.
The Angel started to back off, terrified for the first time in its mostly mindless existence.
Unit 01 bellowed and dropped its head in a charge.
The Angel squealed, making a gurgling, aquatic sound in terror as it retreated, trying to skewer Unit 01 with its tendrils. Unit 01 took the blows to the chest and kept coming despite the energy whips punching straight through its armour and flesh and out the other side. The Eva rammed its head into the centre of the Angel, its horn gouging out the Angel’s guts before snapping off, while the burnt hands tried to dig into the core along the crack created by the prog knife.
The Angel attempted one last trick, setting up an electric current between its tendrils. Unit 01 screamed in agony as tens of thousands of volts and hundreds of amps surged through it, but the circuit only lasted for a moment before the strain overloaded the Angel’s core. Lightning burst from it along the crack before everything went silent, its tendrils losing their glow.
Unit 01’s internal power clock hit 00:00 a second later.
Over the radio, Shinji said, “That… really hurt.”
Shinji came to class the next day with an arm in a splint, ironically because as he was being hauled out of his entry plug he had slipped on a puddle of LCL and sprained his wrist, which aside from some massive bruising was the worst of his injuries. Everyone was silently respectful of him, although none more so than Kensuke and Toji, who had actually seen
At lunch Toji approached and bowed low, saying, “I apologize for my behaviour yesterday, it was unacceptable.”
One of his eyes closed from a swollen bruise about his face, Shinji smiles and says, “You just wanted to defend your family, there is nothing wrong with that. Just make sure you know who the right target is next time.”
“Of course,” Toji says smartly.
After a few moments of silence, Shinji asks, “So did you get any good footage?”
“Wha…?” Toji asks.
“I saw you two in the hills yesterday, which was why I decided to get up and attack before that thing could recover and come to me. I didn’t want to squish either of you,” Shinji explains with a darkly humorous expression, leaving out the part about him being almost out of energy at the time.
“It was awesome!
Especially that jump you did. I mean, how cool was that? You’ve got to let me try that some time,” Kensuke says before both boys go silent at the cold shivers they suddenly felt down their spines.
“Ayanami-san, come to eat with us today?” Shinji asks cheerfully.
“Yes,” she says.
“Uh… we’ll leave you two alone,” Toji says; the two of them still crept out by Rei’s presence.
“Suit yourselves,” Shinji says with a shrug as the two of them leave.
Sitting down next to him, Rei waits for several seconds before saying softly, “I wish to know why you think I am incomplete.”
A smile washes over Shinji’s face as he clears his throat and says, “Let me tell you a story about two gods, one named Tzeentch, and one named Nurgle…”