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Sariel: for the love of a lady

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 · 18 Apr 2024
Sariel: for the love of a lady
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Sariel (1/7)

SPOILER WARNING: This fan fiction spoils incidents up through episode 23.

Adapted from the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime and manga by GAINAX.

"But, for the love of a lady...come on, Jonny! What are we waiting for?"

--_Walt Disney's Robin Hood_

Somewhere in Tokyo-3, in the early hours of the morning, a light came on in the toilet stall. There was a pause, then came the muffled sounds of crying.


Horaki Hikari took a bus to school that morning. She told her mother that she was tired and that she hadn't slept well. It was the truth. Her mother had asked her why, and if she was feeling well. Hikari replied, "Stress. That's all." That was the truth in part.

She rode on the bus, a quarter of the way back on the left hand side. She sat in the window seat, resting her shoulder and her head against the glass pane. Tokyo-3 passed by, blurred colors in the wintertime darkness. It was early still. Many streetlights were on. Hikari's eyes were drawn to the brightness against the dark. She looked for light.

She arrived at school well before classes began, even before any of her clique appeared. She walked through vacant halls, listening as her footfalls reverberated against the floor, and the sound bounced across lockers, walls and ceilings. Posters and flyers hung by their tape, waiting to be read. Hikari found herself in their homeroom; so she put her bookbag down and busied herself. She looked at the potted plants at the windows, seeing that their soil was moist. She ran a finger across desktops and the chalkboard. She paced the rows of desks, wishing that she could fill some with her peers and friends.

They came, in time. First was Ayanami Rei, who came early or never came at all. Then Aida Kensuke. Then more of the class that she represented. She greeted them all. Suzuhara Touji came. He was her boyfriend. She kept him at a distance that morning. He thought that she was being coy, and she let him think so.

Minutes before classes were to begin, her friend Sohryu Asuka Langly arrived, with her roommate Ikari Shinji in tow. Hikari smiled, thinking about what the morning's conflict would be over. A late rise to the waking world, perhaps? Burned toast? An improperly cared-for penguin?

"You IDIOT!" shouted Asuka. "I cannot believe you. You have no pride in your work WHATSOEVER. You're an embarrassment to all of NERV and the entire United Nations."

"But--but--it looked so tasteless..."

"Quiet. It's done with, thanks to you and your cowardice. Good morning, Hikari-chan. Shinji's being stupid."

"I guessed so," said Hikari. She beckoned to Asuka to follow her out into the hallway. "What's all this NERV business?"

"Hmph. I thought it would be inspiring if we painted kill marks on our Evas, so I stenciled some haloes with Xs through them on the purple one he has. And then he had them painted over! Without telling me!"

Hikari lifted her nose. "I think that's quite a nice idea."

"Isn't it though? Hey, so what's up?"

Hikari sighed and said, "Will Katsuragi-san be at your apartment today?"

"Misato? Sure. What do you want with her?"

She bowed her head and whispered, "I'd rather not say, right now. When does she get home?"

Asuka scratched her head. "Um, she usually comes--wait! That's right! She's taking today off because she's been putting in overtime for the past two weeks. Why don't you come home with me right after school? We can work on our report for history class together."

"That's a good idea," said Hikari. "Let's meet after last period, then." The two girls went inside the classroom as the bell chimed.


Major Katsuragi Misato, highest-ranking woman within the United Nations Forces and NERV, responsible for the defense of humanity against the threat of the Angels, scratched herself. She itched. She was dressed in a thin white t-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts. Her attention was occupied by the pile of mail in her arms that she had only begun to leaf through; then the sound of a key came from the front door and three young adults poured inside.

"Misato?" said Asuka. "I brought Hikari-chan home today. We're going to be working on our project for History class together. We're putting our stuff in the living room."

"Go on in. I'm sick to death of watching TV. Hi, Hikari-chan." Misato nodded absently at Hikari's greeting and set the mail on the kitchen table. Pen-Pen joined her picking through the pile. "'Aria Club Selection-of-the-Month', that's for Shinji...'Verofften Institut Meeresforschen Bremerhaven Sonderbund' and 'Ko-Gyaru', those are for Asuka...'June', this is for ME... 'Fish Monthly', 'Fish Quarterly', 'Fish Semiannually', and 'Icelandic Trawler', those are for you...and give me that catalogue back, Shin-kun." Shinji wiped his nose off on a paper napkin.

Into the kitchen came Asuka, with Hikari following her quietly. Asuka wore a bright smile on her face. "Shinji, I've got an idea!"

"What is it?"

"Hikari and I want to talk with Misato, so why don't you go off to your room and snivel for a while?"

Misato couldn't help herself. She threw back her head and laughed at Shinji's expression of dismay and impotence. "Shinji, don't take it so bad. You've got your new album to listen to. Go on, then. I'll call to you when we're done." Shinji slumped his shoulders and padded off to his room, with Pen- Pen accompanying him for camaraderie.

Misato watched them until she heard Shinji's door close, then she sat across from Asuka at the kitchen table. She popped open a fresh can of sake, downed a quarter of it, then said breezily, "Now then, Hikari-chan, what's up?"

"I'm pregnant."


Then, again, "I'm pregnant."

Her hands were folded in her lap. Her shoulders were tilted just away from the straight back of the chair. Her head had been tilted down, and she raised it as she said, "Misato-san, I just don't know what to do."

Asuka remained where she was, her eyes feeling tender. Misato silently moved around the table to Hikari's right side. Hikari half turned to her. "I've been so scared, so afraid of doing anything. I haven't even told my parents yet."

"Hikari-chan." Misato put a hand on Hikari's shoulder and another on the clasped pair in her lap. Hikari reached out to Misato's hands and squeezed them as Asuka drew her own chair closer to Hikari's. "Hikari-chan, I'm so glad you're telling me. I'll help you however I can."

"Thank you." She bowed at the shoulders and wiped a tear from the corner of her eye.

"Now, the first thing I want you to tell me," said Misato, "is how far along you are." She had risen, and she walked across the kitchen to the telephone. There was a note pad and a pen lying by the phone.

"It'll be five weeks ago on Friday."

"Uh-huh." Misato made a note of it. Instead of moving on, she saw that Hikari wasn't done and fell silent. _I don't need to know this,_ she thought, _but Hikari needs to tell us._

"There was a party that night. One of the high-school girls had invited me because I'm the class president. I took Touji with me. We got there, and we had fun, but then some guys crashed the party with some booze. Well, one wasn't going to kill us, so he and I each had some to drink.

"It didn't seem like we drank that much, but...neither of us was thinking straight. He tried to walk me home, but we ended up going to his house. His father wasn't home, and his sister is still in the hospital. We kissed for a while, and then...I guess things got out of hand. He used one of his father's condoms, but it broke.

"The next morning, we were both feeling terrible, so we decided to forget that it had happened. He took me home, and I snuck in without my parents noticing. I couldn't lie to them about drinking, but I didn't tell them that I'd been with Touji that night.

"I couldn't stop worrying. I snuck a pregnancy test kit home with me last night, and this morning I tested positive. And I just don't know what to do. And Misato-san, you..."

"I'm a slut."

Hikari and Asuka both giggled nervously. "Yes. You're quite promiscuous."

Misato finally returned to her seat. "Well, I may get around, but that means I won't keep it to myself. One thing I want to make clear to you, though, Hikari--even though I'm willing to help you come to a decision, in the end, you're the one who makes it. I can't do that for you. Do you understand that?"


"As long as that's clear." Misato jotted down some notes on the pad. "Hikari, there are really just two options that you have now--you can either keep the baby, or you can abort it. Everything else is a variation on the two. If you want to keep the baby, you can raise it yourself, or you can put it up for adoption. If you want an abortion, there's a couple of different ways that you can go about it."

Hikari let out a small gasp. "But--don't abortions for young girls require parental consent?"

"We'll worry about that later, Hikari-chan. So, abortions. It's still early enough in the pregnancy, you may be able to take a drug such as RU-486. If you do, then you won't even have to go to a clinic, the fetus will be sloughed off of your body in your period."

Hikari's eyes widened, and she paled. Asuka gaped at Misato. "In your period? That's awful! I can't imagine anything worse than passing a fetus!"

_The kids today never cease to surprise me,_ thought Misato. "Well, there are other ways. I think five weeks is soon enough to have a regular clinical abortion. That might be more expensive, and you'd have to see one of their doctors, but I'd loan you some money if you need it."

"What about my parents? What about Touji?"

Misato winked. "I know a couple of places that might 'misplace' the paperwork, Hikari. You wouldn't have to tell anyone if you didn't want to."

Hikari hung her head again. "I couldn't ever tell Touji about this. He's sensitive enough around his sister, I can't think of how he'd act if he knew that he got me pregnant." Beside her, Asuka didn't agree, but she didn't object. "And my only other choice have the baby?"

"Yes, that's right," said Misato. "Your parents would have to be informed, and you'd have to see an obstetrician, and you'd have to change your lifestyle to accommodate the baby. On the other hand, a lot of my friends are happy mothers. I'm sure you could make a good mother if you tried it."

Hikari was silent, thinking very hard. Asuka leaned to her and said, "Hikari...I don't care what you do. I'm your best friend, and I'll be with you no matter what, at the clinic or the delivery room. I promise."

"Me too," said Misato.

Hikari was silent, still thinking. Then she became quieter than silent.

Daniel Snyder
Please direct all mail to
If I wasn't such a strange person, this would all seem so confusing.

Sariel (2/7)

"Where are you off to at this hour, Hikari-chan?"

Hikari turned quickly at the door. "Oh! Did I wake you, kaasan?"

"No, dear, I was already up." Mrs. Horaki was dressed in a robe with flowers printed on it, deep purple on violet. She was clutching at the folds as she walked to the door.

Hikari turned to face her full with one hand on the door. "It's Asuka-chan, kaasan. We'll be out for a few hours this morning."

"Oh, I thought she wasn't coming until later...and who's that with the automobile?"

Hikari had been expecting the questions. She smiled and said, "That's Asuka's guardian, Katsuragi-san. We thought that since she lived through the Second Impact, she'd be as good a resource as any...and since we're talking about the _environmental_ aftermath, she could give us a lift to the Botanical Garden. We'll talk with some of the gardeners there, they'll know a lot. We need to get started now, so not many people will be at the garden."

"Not many are going to be at the garden anyway," said Mrs. Horaki. Hikari followed her gaze into the sky. White, grey and black fought for control in the earliest morning light. Banks of clouds wrestled with each other. The sun was hidden. "Hikari- chan, I want you to be home before dinner. They're talking about storms over the next few days, and I...I'm just worried about my little girl, that's all."


Mother and daughter pulled close together, and Hikari whispered through clenched teeth, "There's something I need to talk to you about this afternoon, but I've got to go now, I can't keep waiting." Then she pulled her satchel to her back and ran out the door, leaving it as wide open as her mother's eyes and the sky over her head.


"Life sucks."


"Put your balls into it, Ikari." Suzuhara Touji snorted. "The Second Impact could be going off right in front of you, and you wouldn't say anything more than 'Ah, so', right? I hate homework. I hate these stupid Second Impact projects. You got anything to eat?"

"Uh, frozen food. Come inside, make yourself at home."

"Thanks." The two boys changed into slippers in the entry way, then walked to the living room and threw their bookbags onto the floor. "How did you get rid of Asuka?"

"Misato said she was going to help Asuka and Hikari-chan with their project." Shinji spoke in a raised voice from the kitchen. He was making tea. "Hikari was over here yesterday for a planning session. I didn't talk with her. How's she doing?"

"OK, I guess. Actually, last couple of days, she's been kind of distant. She's been nice, but kind of keeping me away. I think she's having her period." The boy fell silent for a moment.

Touji was aware of his cybernetics whenever he was around Shinji. The hand that had struck out in anger was now gone. In its place was a pale tan replica, lacking fingernails and hairs; another had replaced his leg. Their mass was about that of human limbs, and they responded to him exactly like the ones he had been born with. They were a product of Evangelion technology, marks of the beast that had almost cost him his life.

He had transcended guilt through his pain and sacrifice. He wore his cybernetics like badges, like ceremonial robes.

"Hey, where's your toilet?"

"Um..." Shinji walked to the edge of the kitchen and pointed. "Go down the hall, it's by Misato's room. Oh, and when you do, take a peek at what's on her desk."

Two minutes later, Shinji smiled at the sound of a loud whoop coming from Misato's bedroom. "Hey! Shinji! When did this show up?"

"Just the other day. Come out here when you're done, the tea's ready." Shinji poured from the kettle into two cups. "But look at page 32 first."

"Page...30...32--! Wow! And she circled it with a pen! What color do you think she'll get?"


"I'm guessing moss green. Tell me when it comes, all right? They always send brown paper..."

Touji's voice trailed off. Shinji placed the cups on a tray and carried it at chest level to the front of the apartment. "Touji? Touji?"

"What's all this?"

"What's what?" Shinji walked in to Misato's room, fearless in her absence. Touji had the catalogue in one hand. In his other he had a tablet of note paper. "Oh, that's the paper we use to take down phone messages. Misato must have borrowed it."

"I didn't know she was pregnant."

"WHAT?" he shouted, spilling the tea tray onto the floor. Mindful of the mess, Shinji stepped well away from the wet carpet to stand by Touji's side. Touji was looking at the top sheet of the note pad.

" consultation reputable didn't pick up on hints... "...refuse to perform only drugs... "...JI from dorm receptionist's sister BANZAI appointment for..."

Shinji shook his head. "No, she uses birth control pills. And anyway, Misato wouldn't call around. She'd just pick someone and go with it...maybe she's getting names for someone?"

"Who? Asuka? No, Kaji's not in jail." Touji snickered.

Shinji sighed. "Well, who else could it be?...oh."

Touji felt himself becoming very heavy, and the world spun around him. He collapsed onto the floor, landing squarely on his rear end in the middle of the tea stain. His eyes closed, and a solemn expression slid into his face. He closed and unclosed his right fist.


"It's OK, Shinji. I feel so stupid.

"It was over a month ago now. Hikari got invited to a party, and she invited me to come along. That was just fine, we were having a good time. Then some guys showed up with some beer. I wanted to try one. That gave Hikari an idea, so she had one. One was all it took, I was smashed.

"Even though I was drunk, I offered to walk her home after the party, and she said that was fine. Then I screwed it up, I took her to my home. _My_ home. I wasn't thinking straight. I thought it was kind of funny, actually. I invited her inside, because we had been on a long walk, and she's fun to be with.

"We went inside. Nobody was home. My dad was off fucking his secretary, and my sister's still in the hospital. I was alone, late at night, with the greatest girl in the world. And I screwed up again. I made a pass at her. As soon as it was out of my mouth, I knew I'd done the wrong thing. I'm 15, I'm not supposed to be having that kind of relationship with a girl.

"Then she said yes. I didn't have any idea what to do then. And I told myself, well, I can't let her down now. Besides, it'll be fun. So I got one of my dad's condoms out of the medicine cabinet and I had sex with her in my bed.

"The next morning I woke up crying. I was furious with myself, for getting drunk, for what I'd done to Hikari, for letting the condom break, for...I think for everything I'd done. I promised her I'd never put a finger on her again until we were both 18, and I didn't promise her that because she asked me to, either. I got her home safe and sound, and we both tried to forget about it.

"And now this...oh, my god, now this..."

Suzuhara Touji was crying. Ikari Shinji said, "Touji...I just don't know what to say. That's awful."

"It--it just doesn't make sense, why wouldn't she tell me?"

"Maybe she didn't want you thinking about it. It's her decision, you know."

"But doesn't she trust me?"

"What if--"

Touji looked through tear-stained eyes at Shinji; Shinji swallowed and glanced away. His thoughts were painted on his face, the emotional algebra of unknowns, factors and probabilities. Touji saw the meaning there, and in his eyes it burned red.

"No...god, no..."

"Touji, now, maybe she, Touji..."


His right hand seized hold of one of the tea cups on the floor; and before Shinji could stop him, Touji lifted it up in front of his face and squeezed it in his fist. It shattered inwards. Even as he realized the wrongness of what he was doing, he ground his fingers against his palm and watch the ceramic dust sprinkle to a brown pile between his legs on the wet carpet.

Nobody moved or spoke for a few moments. Then Touji said under his breath, "Please tell Misato-san I'm sorry about the cup, and about the tea stain on the carpet."

"Oh, don't worry about the carpet. The tea was my fault."

Touji snorted. "You'd better explain what it is to Misato when she gets home, or she'll wonder what we've been doing in here." Shinji chuckled in spite of himself. He felt like an idiot for doing so. The boys sat still for a while longer, then glanced around for where their bookbags were.


Hikari stared into the depths of her salad. The association-- taking food into her body, and getting sensual pleasure from it-- was overwhelming her rational mind.

Across from her, Misato swallowed a mouthful and leaned forward earnestly to speak to her. "Hey, _need_ to eat your greens. The doctor said that anemia's going to be a risk for you in the next couple of days, and there's plenty of iron in there. Eat up, eat up."

Hikari acquiesced. Fumbling with the plastic fork, she speared a few leaves of lettuce and a crouton and lifted them into her mouth. She set about mechanically chewing up and swallowing the food.

Asuka spoke. "Back home in Germany, you could get beer at McDonald's. I think that they should sell box sake here. You'd buy that, wouldn't you, Misato?"

"Oh, yes, definitely. But you'd be too young to enjoy it, Asuka."

Her mouth was full of hamburger, so Asuka didn't reply with anything more than a shrug. Conversation waned again.

"The doctor stuck a scraper up inside me," said Hikari. She spoke earnestly and emotionally, but she was very, very quiet in her speech. "She scraped around and around, and then she used some kind of vacuum on me, and I could feel something down around here being sucked out of me, from here down, it was all flushed right out of me, and then she cleaned me up and I was done. It doesn't seem real. I can't believe that there was a decision now, it's like I was following fate, and I...I just...

"Take me home. Now. Please." She stood up and threw on her coat. Without another word, Misato and Asuka collected their trays and dumped them into the trash bins. They followed Hikari out into the parking lot. She cried only a little as they drove her home through the tempestuous afternoon. -- Shinji was sitting at his desk, trying to parse _The Tale of Genji_, when his cellular phone rang. He felt relieved as he put the book down, because he had been bored beyond the point of inattention by his reading assignment. He flipped open the mouthpiece and said, "Hello."

"Hello, Shinji?"

"Oh, hi, Touji. What are you calling about?"

"Well...I've been thinking all this afternoon. Hey, did Asuka and Misato-san come home?"

"Uh-huh. They got home about an hour after you left."


"Um, I asked where they had been, and I tried to make it sound casual, like you said to." Shinji leaned back in his chair. It was becoming the longest conversation he had had on his private phone line. "Asuka told me to mind my own business, and Misato told me to listen to Asuka."


"I told them about the tea, and Misato just laughed." Shinji gulped. "So what are you calling about?"

The reply didn't come immediately. Shinji glanced out the window of his room. With night had come even darker clouds, and he could see dust and garbage blowing by his window. A storm was coming, if not already upon them.

Touji mumbled, "I want to talk to your dad."

"Huh?" Shinji whipped around back into his chair. "What do you want to talk to him about?"

"I...I want to talk with him...about NERV. I've been thinking about coming back to NERV."

"Touji, are you serious?"

"Yes, well...I don't know. I want to talk to him about it. Could you call him and ask him to meet with me? With us?"

Shinji turned on his chair again and looked at the numbers on his clock. 7:42. It was still early in the evening. He said to Touji, "Yeah, I guess I could call him, but--but--what am I going to tell him?"

"Tell him...OK, tell him this..."

Daniel Snyder
Please direct all mail to
If I wasn't such a strange person, this would all seem so confusing.

Sariel (3/7)

Off the eastern coast of Japan lay a shallow shelf, covered in the sediment of the land: sand, silt and mud. Only a few hundred meters from shore, the sea bottom was lifeless; oxygen, sulfates, and even most organic carbon had been used by organisms at the base of the food chain to make a way of life. All that was left was anoxic mud and the castings of the sea creatures.

At the boundary between the water and the sediment, something began to move. Not grandly at first; it was more as if a series of harmonic waves had been superimposed on the plane. Its movements built until a form of motion, a dance step, began. The thing's rippling moved from a single pulse in the center to the very outer lip, and as it rippled it rotated about its center. The detritus around it was kicked up into the water column, higher and higher, forming a dense cloud at the sea bottom.

Its preparations were beginning. It needed time and energy, both of which it had at its disposal. It rode upon the circumstances. Soon, it would rise on its own. -- Touji and Shinji sat side by side at a table in a coffee shop. Each of them had an untouched cup of coffee and a full glass of water, ice cubes glinting in the interior light. They sat tense, frustrated by their inabilities to resolve the anticipation and dread they felt within their hearts.

Outside, it had been raining all of the morning. The rain itself was by no means strong, but it was blown by an incredible wind. The boys watched umbrellas turn themselves inside out and people struggle to see their way down the street.



Aware of its awkwardness, Shinji withheld the question until it burst out of him, "What was it like?"

"You mean...with Hikari?"

"Yeah. I...I've been wanting to know for a while now, but I know."

Touji eased into a more relaxed position and thought about it. Shinji felt his confidence buoyed: Touji was taking his question seriously. After a half minute's consideration, Touji said, "It was...strange."

"Strange? What do you mean, strange?"

"It was confusing. It was like...I couldn't believe, right up until the moment I stuck it in that it was going to happen, and then we were doing it, and it felt really good, don't misunderstand me, but there was so much going on..."

"It felt good?" Shinji caught himself sounding incredulous.

"Yeah, scratching an itch is good, y'know, but it's like you didn't even realize you itch. But I was so blown away, I wanted to watch Hikari, but at the same time I wanted to keep my eyes closed to concentrate...and I wanted to come right away, but I also wanted to enjoy didn't matter, we were done in like five minutes."

"That long?"

"S'matter?" Touji gave Shinji a light shove. "How long does it take you to come when you're wanking?" Shinji turned a bright shade of red. Touji pressed him. "Come on, your turn. How long? How long?"

"Am I interrupting something?" said Subcommander Fuyutsuki Kozou. Both boys whirled around and bowed deeply, offering apologies, but Fuyutsuki waved them aside. "Please don't be like that, gentlemen. I'm the one who should be apologizing. Your father, Shinji, wasn't able to come in person."

Fuyutsuki bowed formally to Touji. "You must be Suzuhara. I'm Subcommander Fuyutsuki, Commander Ikari's second-in-command. I've been sent over here to speak with you. I understand you're interested in joining NERV again?"

"Yes, er..." Touji leaned forward, fidgeting. "I've been thinking that, what with all the risks Shinji's been going through as a pilot, it isn't right for me to just sit around on my a--sit around all day. So I thought that, since NERV had wanted me as a pilot before, I could come back.

"I don't even know if I'd pilot on a permanent basis or anything, maybe I'd be kind of a backup, or a sidekick. I don't know if you repaired the EVA or not. But I'd like to do what's right for humankind, y'see. I think it's important."

Fuyutsuki nodded, but his face stayed blank. Touji said hesitatingly, "Is there something wrong?"

"Oh, no, nothing's wrong, Suzuhara," said he replied. "I'm just thinking that it's a pity I wasn't able to speak with the Commander for very long before I came here. You see, NERV doesn't have a policy about pilots being re-recruited. Commander Ikari might be in a position to give you a definite answer, but I'm afraid to tell you that I can't, right now."

"Oh. I see."

"I will tell you...what I'll do. Here." Fuyutsuki took out a cellular phone and pressed it into Touji's hand. "This is my cellular phone. As soon as I know, Ikari or myself will call you. If we can offer you a position, we'll need to know your answer immediately, at any time of day, under any circumstances. NERV hesitates for nothing. Do you understand, Suzuhara?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well. Now," he said as he stood, "Ikari and I have some business to discuss in private. Will you excuse us for a moment?"

"Sure. Nice to meet you, Fuyutsuki-sama."

Fuyutsuki and Shinji both bowed, then walked quickly into the men's lavatory. They were alone. Fuyutsuki said quietly and severely, "Shinji, we need you to be ready at a moment's notice for the next 72 hours."

"What? Is it an Angel?"

"I hope not," he replied, "but something isn't right. There's this storm that's making its way straight for Tokyo-3, and there's reports of water spouts up and down the coastline, and there's been a burst of strange readings from just off the coast. We'll let you know as soon as anything strange happens."

"Is that why my father wasn't able to come?" Shinji's question was so laden with disappointment it was almost a statement.

Fuyutsuki gave a curt nod. "If there's one thing your father believes in, Shinji, that thing isn't 'coincidence'. He believes that something bad is going to happen, and it's his job now to find out.

"I'd best be going. Tell Langley when you see her, if you would."

"Yes sir." -- Shinji woke up before his alarm that next morning. He woke up to the sound of crying. He lifted his head off the pillow, the remnants of his dreams sticking in his mind, and glanced about him. His room, dark before the morning light, seemed to be in order. Then the sound came again, the long low wail of a spirit. He grabbed hold of his blanket and pulled it up to his chin as he looked across the room to the white window, where a third time a groaning and a rushing came from.

There was no monster there. It was only the wind and the rain.

Shinji had no more than a spit second of relief before light coursed like a tsunami into his room, around through every corner, blasting whitewashed images and ebony shadows against the walls. It roared the boy's name as it came, came to snatch him up out of his bed and tear him out of his home. He was violated. There was no solace.

As his scream died on his lips, the last scraps of his dream fell away. It was only thunder and lightning. The storm had come in the night, in all its force and might.

Asuka, dressed in a bathrobe, burst in through the door to his room. "Mein Gott! Shinji! Are you all right?"


"Are you sure? What's come over you, you're as pale as a ghost." She walked across Shinji's room and sat beside him on the bed. She walked without looking; the boy's room was immaculately clean and sparsely filled. In her left hand she held a piece of writing paper. Her right rested on his shoulder. "You're shaking like a leaf, too. Did you have a nightmare or something?"

"It was just the storm, Asuka," Shinji said. "I guess my imagination ran away with me."

"Hmph! Well, I need your help, now that you're up. Misato left us this note this morning, and I can't decipher the kanji. Her handwriting's smudged."

"Uh...all right." Shinji slipped into his own bathrobe, then they walked to his desk. Shinji turned on the reading light and set to work piecing some meaning out of the blurred characters. "'Dearest Roommates of Mine...I've got bad news and good news. The bad news is that you won' seeing my cute face this morning, because I've been called to NERV. The good news is that we're emergency status.' What's 'blue' status?"

"Not as bad as yellow, I guess. Go on."

"OK. 'You two are to stay at home today and wait by the phone in case we need to find you--' No, wait, '_contact_ you. Have a nice time, and don't bother Pen-Pen when he's napping. Smoochies, Misato.'"

He put down the piece of paper and leaned back in his chair. "Huh. No school for us today."

"Well, great!" said Asuka. "What are we doing up at this hour? I'm going back to--/"

At that instant, Shinji's alarm clock went off. Shinji's nerves, while slightly more relaxed than they had been, were not prepared for the shock of a loud buzzing alarm, even from across the room. In his surprise and terror, he clutched at the nearest object that might provide him some security, which was Asuka. Now, not only was Asuka unprepared for Shinji's seizing hold of her and screaming bloody murder, but she was off-balance herself in the midst of departure. The sudden appearance of Shinji's full mass against her right side, combined with his arm's appearance around her waist and his hand against her left hip, caused her to tilt away from her vertical axis; and, in brief, they fell.

Their journey downwards was occasioned by much noise on all parties involved, culminating with the impact of Asuka's backside against Shinji's floor, rug and lower left arm. The rebound and follow-through was painful, humiliating, and startling. The scene ended as Asuka, endeavoring to make eye contact with Shinji, followed his gaze downward to observe firsthand the consequences of urinary pressure upon the prostate gland in the male.

Abstaining from her usual taunts and vehemence, Asuka simply offered a homegrown and timeless remedy for morning wood--she kneed him in the groin. Its effect proved ideal. Shinji rolled off of her, incapacitated. Asuka got up off the carpeting, straightened her disheveled nightwear, and left the room, leaving Shinji to recuperate and turn off the culpable alarm clock. -- Touji brooded and ate his lunch in a foul mood. He stared hard out of the window. The storm matched his inner feelings. Fear and anger warred in his heart. He had had misgivings about returning to NERV even when he had first suggested it to Shinji, and time had eaten away at his courage. He might not be a good pilot. He could die. His sister...he might lose his sister's love over some choice, some new obligation or responsibility.

Or, his anger replied, he might win it anew for his courage. And he would seem more of a man in Hikari's eyes. Hikari...her former ambivalence to him, the ambivalence that the preceding week had marked her, was gone. Touji's anger captured every movement she made, and they were all those of a perfectly sweet and innocent 15-year-old girl.

Her feigned innocence emasculated him. Her blithely carrying on, in the face of the abortion of a child he had never known, that he _knew_ he had not fathered, infuriated him. And he let it fester, because there was no one he could confide in. Kensuke and Shinji were not present, nor was half the class. Many parents were afraid to let their children away from them in the weather.

Touji watched a fully grown man struggle to stay upright in the wind. _Hell,_ he thought, _I'd almost rather be outside than be stuck having to speak with..._

"Hi there!"

Touji rolled his eyes as Hikari dropped into the seat one row in front of him. She pulled out a bento box for herself, and another one for him. "How was your weekend, Touji?"

"Swell." She held out his lunch to him; he glared at her across the top. "How's your boyfriend?"

Hikari remained perfectly still, with a look of mixed surprise and confusion frozen on her face, for five seconds before she said, "Eh?"

"I said, how's your boyfriend?"

She finally lowered the box lunch. "Touji, I have no idea what you're talking about. What do you mean?"

"I found out what you did on Saturday..."

The words cut through Hikari's soul like knives. Her arms fell to her sides; the bento landed on the floor, spilling rice and vegetables. A cluster of girls sitting nearby stopped talking to stare.

"...and since you didn't even bother to tell me, I'm wondering who your boyfriend is."

Hikari rose from her chair, trembling. Black emotions of sorrow and fury ran through her veins. She gasped, " did you..."

"What, do you think I'm stupid or something?" Touji stood up and moved into her space, not breaking eye contact with her. "I can figure things out for myself, thank you very much. Now, what I want to know is, who was the guy?"

"Touji, stop it." Every eye in the classroom was fixed on the pair, moving in concert along the row of desks towards the head of the class. "You're scaring me, Touji. There wasn't anyone else, now stop saying such things..."

"They're true, aren't they, _senpai_?" With that, he seized her by the shoulders and shook her. She wailed. "SAY IT! SAY I'M RIGHT! SAY IT!"


Hikari tore free from him and ran out into the hallway, slamming the door behind her. Behind her, Suzuhara Touji remained frozen exactly where he had been. He caught himself feeling nothing other than relief that his emotions were out of his heart. One of the girls in the class followed Hikari's footsteps into the hall, while everyone else stared in open disbelief at him. Touji paid them no mind.

His cellular phone rang once. He flipped it open and pressed the 'talk' button. "Mosh' mosh'."


The voice sounded much like Shinji's, but deeper and grave. Touji guessed who it was, but thought it impolite to announce it to the world; instead, he said, "Yeah."

"If you are interested in rejoining NERV, there is a car waiting for you outside of your school. You may proceed there and get inside. You will be debriefed when you arrive at NERV HQ."

There was a pause, then Touji grunted in the affirmative. "Tell 'em I'm on my way." He hung up, flipped the mouthpiece up, and slipped it into his jacket. Then he slipped on his bookbag and left the room without a word.

Daniel Snyder
Please direct all mail to
If I wasn't such a strange person, this would all seem so confusing.

Sariel (4/7)

The journey through the NERV complexes, both the subterranean and the Geofront, were blurs to Suzuhara Touji. Of course, there were the urgency of the situation and his newness to the institution preying on his mind; but more than that was the _scope_. Nothing in NERV seemed to be on the scale of anything he had ever known and associated with humanity. The hallways he traversed seemed at once confining and Cyclopean: there was too much of too little. NERV looked to be an institution so unflawed that it was aseptic, and yet its scale seemed to be one that would inspire neglect in some areas and humanizing overuse in others. NERV was a place where no fingerprints were left.

His chaperone was leading him to a place, that much he knew. But it was a place without any frame of reference, without landmarks. He could, and did, measure time. Almost exactly 23 minutes after he had left the school grounds, a door was opened for him into a crowded conference room.

"Thank you," said Commander Ikari's voice, and the door was closed. Touji stood alone before a crowd.

Three people his own age were staring at him. Ikari was dressed in a suit of blue, black and white, with white clips in his hair. His initial surprise had been quickly replaced by joy, and a smile was swelling across his face. He had half-risen from his chair, blocking Langley's view. She was in a bright red suit, and had red clips in her hair. She was confused by his appearance in the room, perhaps hoping he would turn out to be someone else. Between Touji and Ikari was Ayanami. She was dressed in a white suit--_Just as white as she is,_ he thought--and had white clips in her blue hair. She looked over Touji only to perceive his identity, the same way she looked at everyone.

At the front of the room, Commander Ikari cleared his throat. In response, all the seated pilots jerked around in their chairs to give him their attention. The Commander was dressed in a dark navy blue uniform with a red sweater; there was some kind of green clasp at the jacket collar. His manner was as stern as a rock in the face of a windstorm. To his right was Subcommander Fuyutsuki. His dress was identical to his superior's, except that his uniform was brown, and the triangular clasp was blue.

On the Commander's other side were two women. One Touji immediately recognized as Shinji's roommate, Katsuragi Misato; but she appeared differently from how Touji had seen her in the past. It wasn't only that she had a red beret on her head, complementing her red jacket and dark chestnut dress. Touji realized in a fraction of a second that it was in her manner. Gone was the beer-swilling, t-shirt wearing party animal that he knew: it had been replaced by a woman whose job was to bring order to chaos as quickly and efficiently as possible. He was taken aback.

The woman next to her was a blonde woman about Misato's height. Her dress was eccentric. She wore a white lab coat over what looked like the top half of a wetsuit, a black skirt and tights. Her face was well made up, and she had pink earrings in her ears. Touji half-remembered her...Doctor Somebody...

There were others in the room, but Touji found he had no time to look at them. The other three children were seated, and the four adults at the front of the room were staring at him. His original problem had come back: he was the outsider. He only knew so much of what was going on, and whispers in his psyche told him that it would probably not be enough. A second passed, and he was still frozen.

Somewhere within himself, Suzuhara Touji found the strength to break out of his shell. He bowed to Commander Ikari. "Reporting for duty, sir."

"Please be seated, Suzuhara-san." Ikari pointed to the seat adjacent to Rei. Touji walked quickly to the chair, seated himself and slid his bookbag under the chair. As he straightened, someone caught his eye. Shinji was smiling and looking at him excitedly. Touji forced a smile onto his face. From the front of the room the Commander spoke again. "Now that we are all present, we may begin the debriefing. Doctor Akagi, if you would like to speak first?"

"Yes, sir." The blonde woman was left with Misato as the other two took their seats. From a manila folder Akagi took out a sheet of notes and glanced at it. "Over the past 48 hours--could I have the first slide, please? Thank you. Over the past 48 hours a tropical storm has come in from the Pacific. Only the fact that it is so early in the year has kept us from calling it a 'typhoon', but we'll call it that. This typhoon presents a danger to the structures here in Tokyo-3, civilian as well as NERV's own buildings, due to the high winds and lightning, as well as the secondary dangers rain can pose. And now, there's another problem. Next slide, please.

"Since about noon yesterday there have been multiple water spouts and tornadoes up and down the coastline. We thought this very unusual, so NERV sent a team of investigators to look at one in particular. What they slide...was that the tornado had a Sea of Dirac in its eye. For the benefit of Suzuhara- kun, I won't go into detail of how we discovered this. All that you need to know is that these tornadoes, if not all this abnormal weather, is the work of an Angel. That's where we stood last night when we issued the blue alert.

"Next slide. Early this morning one of the two NERV vessels in Tokyo Bay obtained a blue pattern from off the coast of the city, under approximately 100 meters of water. Sonar readings were of no use, leading us to believe that the Angel itself is very flat, able to rest on the sediment itself without disturbing it. Rather than use depth charges, the vessel returned to port, and monitoring began.

"Two hours ago, its strategy became apparent. The rain falling over Tokyo-3 now contains measurable, if not yet visible, silt particles. At the same time, the Angel rose off the seabed and is currently south-southeast of the city, if it has not already come ashore. By attacking from the south, it's going to be difficult to see over the forests and between the hills, and by putting sediment in the rain, it has reduced our monitoring efforts to visual only."

>From the back of the room came a voice, "What happened to our radar?"

"The silt in the rain acts like a smokescreen," Akagi replied. "The radio waves are scattered and absorbed by the silt particles. It's a very shrewd thing for the Angel to be doing, really.

"Now, I'm going to turn this over to Major Katsuragi, who will detail the operation itself. Major?"

"Thank you," said Misato as Akagi took her seat. "Doctor Akagi has explained the why..."

She broke off as a muffled ringing came from under Asuka's seat. Asuka sheepishly pulled out her purse and extracted her cellular phone. She gave a curt "Call back in ten minutes" into the receiver, then hung up and replaced her handbag.

Misato recovered her composure and continued. "The responsibility on the four of you will be higher than it has been in any mission before now, because we won't be able to give you much support and advice out there. In addition, Suzuhara's inexperience will have to be overcome, and quickly. We're counting on you, Touji."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Your objective is to locate and destroy the Angel. Our last data put it as being circular, approximately 25 meters in diameter, and black in color. It can't be very thick, as Ritsuko explained, but it is three-dimensional. We will sortie you, then issue you weapons. Shinji and Asuka will act as vanguard and try to intercept the Angel along its last known vector. Rei and Touji will act as rear guard and defend the city as best they can. Is that clear?"

It was.

Misato paused and took on a serious tone. "Because of the bad weather and the possibility that something could go wrong, you'll each have one of these in the cockpit with you." From her feet she lifted a plastic box the size and shape of a personal cooler. "This is an emergency survival kit. Do not, repeat, do not hesitate to use it. It contains a flashlight, a first aid kit, matches, a space blanket, rations for two days, drinking water and a variety of other things. It even glows in the dark, so if the power in the EVA goes out it'll be easy to find. That's all I have to say. Commander?"

>From the back of the room Commander Ikari announced, "You have a quarter of an hour before you sortie. Shinji, please show Suzuhara-san to the changing room. All other pilots are dismissed." -- The four filed out of the room, leaving the other attendees to receive their orders. Shinji slipped up beside Touji. "Touji, I can't--I can't really believe you're doing this."

"I'm kind of amazed myself, to tell you the truth," he replied. "But, here I am. So where are we going?"

"Down here." Shinji led the way down one of the corridors and pushed open an unmarked door. Inside there were two rows of lockers, separated by a screen. "We're on this side. Normally, the girls are here. Hey, that must be your plug suit, Touji."

"I guess so." It was the same blue suit he had been dressed in on his first fateful mission as a pilot, lying neatly folded on the bench. In addition, there were two black things lying beside it. One was in the shape of an arm, one was in the shape of a leg. "Turn around while I change, would you."

"Uh, sure...I can go, you know..."

"Nah, I want to ask you some stuff." The glove fit perfectly onto his cybernetics. Touji pushed a button on the wrist, and the upper end clamped onto the interface between his shoulder and his arm. He turned his attention to the legging. "Got any advice?"

"What do you mean?"

"About being a pilot. Like, I remember when the yellow stuff started pouring in, I panicked. How can you breathe it day after day?"

"Well, for starters I don't look into it." Shinji fidgeted. He didn't feel comfortable giving advice like this to anyone. Or any advice. "I tilt my head back and, when it's up around the edges of my mouth, I try to suck it in."

"Did, uh, the doctor lady, did she ever tell you why it's so cold?"

"Yes. It's so that there's as much oxygen in it as possible. But they figure that it's a waste of energy to keep it cold, so after it's been poured in they don't make it any warmer or cooler."

"OK, whatever. Oh, another thing I was wondering, how come they don't have to pump your lungs?"

"Because LCL has a low evaporation temperature. It's warm enough in your lungs..."


Shinji saw the red blur, but Touji was unprepared. Asuka's punch sent him sprawling across the floor. He tried to get up. Asuka kicked him in the flank. When she threw another kick at him he grabbed her ankle with his cybernetic hand. She lost her balance and landed on the floor.


"Stay out of this, Shinji," she said, watching her opponent as she and Touji rose. "This is between him and me and Hikari."


"What do you mean 'huh', you big dumb idiot?" Asuka snarled. "You just broke her heart in front of all her classmates, WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO THAT FOR?"

"'Cause she was sleeping around behind my back, that's why," he retorted. "I found out that she had an abortion over the weekend, and didn't think to tell me."

"Yeah. Well, it's her choice, isn't it? If she doesn't want to tell the father, that's the way it's going to be."

Shinji, not sure of what to do, glanced at the clock on the wall. "Uh..."

"I'm not the father, or she would have told me."

"WHAT? How the hell did you get that idea into your little pinhead? Of course you're the father, she said so."

"Probably to protect the guy."

"Don't be stupid."


"Why," Asuka went on, "should she have to tell you at all?"

"I'll tell you why." Touji moved up right into Asuka's face. "Because, if she cares about me enough to share her body with me, and only me, she should care enough to tell me that I've got her pregnant, and to let me know what her decision about the pregnancy is, and if it's going to involve me. Now--I think Shinji's trying to tell us that we've got an Angel to fight. You're welcome to get pissed at me when we return to the base, but you'd damn well better work with me when we're out there, 'cause we DIE if we don't work together. C'mon, Shinji. You too, Asuka."

With that, Touji ran out, and Shinji followed in his slipstream. Asuka was allowed the luxury of feeling her wrath in silence and solitude.

Daniel Snyder
Please direct all mail to
If I wasn't such a strange person, this would all seem so confusing.

Sariel (5/7)

Touji rolled back his head and closed his eyes. The LCL was rising. He tried to clear his mind. He failed.


"We've gone from the Pathetic Duo to the Three Stooges!"


"I could make you a lunch."


"You've been asleep for three days."

Suzuhara Touji's mind, left alone to rule his body, had seized upon Horaki Hikari and refused to let her go. The LCL was halfway up his calves. Touji nodded to himself. There was no denying, he was fighting to win her back, to prove himself to her and her alone.


Missing for a month.


Raped in the cockpit.


She walked into the classroom one day, just before classes began. She had approached Kensuke and done nothing more than look straight into his face and say his name, carefully; then she had repeated the exercise with each member of the class. He had taken a seat far from the door, so she reached him last. He had been staring at her in disbelief; when she was finally up close to him, he saw that she had looked different from the day before. Her skin was immaculate, almost shining, and every hair of her eyebrows was in place.

Something was wrong with Rei, he decided. During lunch, he repaid a favor he owed Rei. He found her on the roof of the building. She was staring at her hands, touching each finger to each and every other one.

"Uh, Rei?" he said, uncertain of how to begin.

She stopped. "Yes. You are Suzuhara Touji. I remember you."

"Um, good. Look, Rei, I don't know how to say this, but is something wrong?"

"No." She turned and faced him. She was obviously confused. "My body is functioning perfectly."

It hadn't been the reply Touji had hoped for, not quite. "Oh, that's good...look, Rei, you've been acting kind of weird today, and since you..."


"Yeah." She took a step towards him and he said, "You've seemed kind of lost, that's all."

"How do I act...not weird?"

Touji felt a headache. "Like usual. Like you usually do."


For the first time since they had met, Touji thought Rei was pleading with him. He laughed nervously. The conversation was going nowhere. Then he remembered why he had started it in the first place, and he decided to resolve their talk.

"You're usually quiet. You don't let anything get to you. You're stoic. And today you've seemed like you were confused about something. I just wanted to make sure that everything was all right."

"I see." Rei nodded slowly. "So I will be stoic now."

She turned her back on him. Touji stammered something, but gave up. She was done talking to him.

"See you later, Rei." She neither said nor did anything in response.

The LCL passed his collarbone. Touji felt fear nipping at him; and then fear was followed by depression, for he wondered what his next time in the hospital would be like.

_Now that I've gone and lost Hikari...I guess nobody's going to come and visit me in the hospital. I could live, and I could die, but if I'm wounded, my God, I'd need her so badly..._

He groaned, and the LCL slipped into his body. -- Shinji opened a communication channel between his EVA and Touji's. Touji was looking placid, if somewhat bored, on the screen. Shinji was surprised, he had expected his friend to be more dazed than he seemed. "How did it go for you?"

Touji shrugged. "Once you've swallowed mouthwash, I guess nothing's too bad."

Shinji laughed. Beside the first screen, Asuka's face appeared. "Are you idiots ready to go or not?"

"Take it easy, Asuka," said Touji. "S'matter? That time of the month for you?"

Asuka's face grew much bigger and redder as she lunged in her own EVA. "Watch your mouth, you philandering son of a--"

Misato's face appeared. "We're ready to sortie. Touji, no more menstruation jokes, please."


"I'm going to kick your..."

Shinji leaned back in his seat and laughed. He found the antics of the people around him incredibly funny; and for some reason, Touji's making fun of Asuka gave him a thimbleful of dreams. _He got her good...I wonder what she would have done if I'd said that..._

He closed his eyes and opened them twice; then he looked up above his head. He tensed as he felt the safety locks on the EVA release. From outside he heard the gouts of electricity crackling as the launch mechanisms charged; and then he was flying up the launch path, through the elevator door and into Tokyo-3.

The sight that greeted Ikari Shinji was bleak. The sky, even though it was midday, was pitch black. The storm clouds hung low over the city, and he could see them tumbling over each other and rushing about at the mercy of the wind. Lightning bolts flashed around them. What had been rain splattering against the screen before him was now mud; even the buildings of the city looked off color.

Shinji looked around. To his right one block was Asuka, and behind and to her right was Rei. To his left and behind him was Touji, though Shinji had to strain to make him out; the color of his Evangelion was hard to see in the darkness. The four mecha were arrayed in the shape of a trapezoid. They held their formation as they sprinted to the south end of the city.

In position on the very outskirts they each switched to new cables and took their weapons from separate NERV buildings. Shinji switched on his Heads-Up Display. "Asuka and I will start moving south now. Touji, Rei, you guys follow us to the second ridge and then hold there. Touji, I guess you'll want the time to practice with your EVA."


"HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!" Asuka shouted. "Who the hell appointed you generallisimo, Shinji? Why are you giving orders now?"

"Uh, I'm just echoing what Misato told us to do," he said.

Before Asuka could come up with a response, Touji said, "Shinji, you guys better take off. We'll wait here." His display disappeared.

Shinji nodded. "Let's go," he said, and started marching at a brisk pace to the south. Asuka trailed behind him. "Scheisskopf."

Their path took them alongside a series of powerlines, across rice fields and along hillsides. When they were four kilometers south-southwest of the city, Shinji and Asuka changed course. They moved up the side of a hill to a point a quarter from the top, and spread out fifteen meters apart from each other. Their vantage point was just below the cloud layer. Before them was a large expanse of forest, clinging to the sides of mountains and sprouting up from the foothills. In the darkness and the mud- rain, it looked ominous.

Asuka spoke. "Geofront, can you hear us?"

"Just fine," said Misato. "Are you in position?"

"Affirmative...but I don't see anything." Asuka squinted and looked from horizon to horizon. "Nope, nothing. How are we supposed to see a big, black circle in this weather, anyway?"

"We can't do much for you," Misato replied. "Our long-range surveillance systems are useless right now, and it's too dangerous to send out UN forces with searchlights...Asuka, are you listening to me?"

"I was just noticing," said Asuka, "that there's a lot more lightning since we got into position. Are the EVAs acting like lightning rods?"

Ritsuko replaced Misato at the HUD. "Yes. You're out in the open, it's only natural. Fortunately, the EVAs should be able to handle the power surge from a direct lightning hit.

"I have an idea. Use the lightning to your advantage. During the split second of illumination you have, look around you and try to spot the Angel."

"Yes, ma'am," Asuka said. She was armed with a missile gun; and over the next minute she practiced aiming it as soon as she saw the flash of light. Shinji could do nothing similar. He had been issued an axe rather than a projectile weapon.



"Just checking."

"Oh. Why? Getting a little scared over there?"

"No, it's just I lost sight of you a moment ago."

"What? What do you mean?"

"Well, you were there, and then I couldn't see you or anything, and then..."

Asuka's EVA shoved Shinji's out of her way as she raced over the mountain. At the mountain's summit there was nothing but clouds, but she fired two shots blindly, ignoring the protests that came over her speakers. She smiled in grim satisfaction as an orange pulse shot from the cloud. She switched to her HUD.

"Hey! You guys in Tokyo! Pay attention! IT'S COMING STRAIGHT FOR YOU!" -- "Roger," said Touji. _God, it's actually happening..._ He had been allowed twenty minutes during the first phase of the foray, and it was enough to give him some familiarity with and security about his controls; but combat was a different matter entirely. He spoke to Rei. "What do we do?"

Rei's unemotional manner calmed rather than irritated him. "I will take point, since I have more experience. Move away from me and be on your guard. Have your weapon ready, and know where your Progressive Knife is."

"Sure thing, Rei."

Rei took two steps downslope in her EVA and trained her pistol towards the horizon. She saw nothing. She knew the direction that her comrades were in, relative to her position; so she concentrated on looking for an anomaly, a black shape moving on a black background. With an unconscious shudder, she saw it a few seconds after she had begun.

"Suzuhara. Geofront. Our target is about one kilometer distant. I'm sending visual data to you now."

She focused a camera on the shape. The Angel was coming in at an angle, parallel to the way the rain was falling. It hovered a few meters above the treetops. There was no sign of activity from it, other than its approach.

"Should I fire?"

"When ready, Rei."

"Roger. Suzuhara, move forward and away from me, and then draw out your Progressive Knife."

"OK." Touji walked away, shifted his gun to his left hand, and took his knife out with his left. Rei watched with satisfaction as the Angel altered its course. Then she fired twice at its proximal side.

Both shots rebounded off the creature's AT Field. In response, however, the Angel slowed and tilted so that it was parallel to the ground. Rei said, "It's trying to lure us away from the city. I'll go. Suzuhara, stay here. If it attacks me before I hit the AT Field, fire on it. Ikari, Langley, what are you doing?"

Shinji's HUD appeared. "We still have power, so we're trying to get back and help you. But it's starting to get muddy."

Asuka added, "We'll have to get out of this valley before we see the Angel. Wonder Girl can keep it busy until I get a good shot."


The distance between EVA-00 and the Angel was less than 200 meters over flat terrain. Rei dropped her pistol in mid-step and readied her knife. At 100 meters the Angel stopped moving and deployed its AT Field. Without hesitating Rei slashed at it, then changed her grip to stab. It was to no avail; the field held.

Then the field dissipated. Rei's EVA, off-balance, slipped down and fell into the mud at the Angel's feet. She planted her hands and tried to push up, but the soil below them gave way and she landed on her face. For an instant she was powerless, and in that instant the Angel acted. It warped into a teardrop shape, and its apex formed a pseudopod that bent perpendicular to the ground. The pseudopod pressed against her neck and held her helpless. Rei let out a cross between a gasp and a grunt, smarting from the pain and the foolishness of the act.

"Dammit!" Touji fired his gun, one-handed, towards the Angel. It missed by such a margin that the Angel didn't react. Touji cursed again. "Shinji! Asuka! Where are you guys?"

Asuka's HUD showed her sweat visible within the LCL. "I just got up the mountain. We're at least a kilometer away. I see the target. I'm firing--now!"

Touji watched the projectile flash through the air and smack against the AT Field. Its force was significant, and the field shuddered. The Angel withdrew its pseudopod and began floating silently away from the flatland and the city it bordered. Touji, mindful of the wet ground, started to jog over to Rei. "Rei, are you OK?"

"Yes. The Unit is functioning perfectly." She struggled up from the mud. "Langley, you may fire when ready."

Asuka hadn't waited for directions. She fired off a three round burst and watched the impact of the missiles; the Angel held its course and did not threaten Rei. Asuka walked her EVA along the ridge, careful in the mud to keep her weapon aimed. "Shinji," she said, "get in closer to the Angel. I'll--SCHEISSE!!!"

She stumbled, and the EVA sprawled prone, its gun falling and tumbling down the mountainside. Shinji watched in horror as her fall was cut short with a jerk on her power cord. He looked to see the Angel, once again teardrop-shaped, with its apex wrapped around one end of the cord. _The Angel's pulling her right toward it!_ he thought.


Shinji jumped up into the air, letting his own safety escape his mind. His Evangelion landed with its belly on Asuka's back. He clamped one hand around Asuka's power cord, and swung his axe with the other. Asuka was free. A moment later, he had jerked his own power cable out. Free from assault, they skidded in a muddy mess to the foot of the hill.

Rei had redrawn her progressive knife and charged at the Angel again. The Angel immediately raised its AT Field; but it was weaker, and Rei's knife began to cleave it. She groaned with the effort. Battle tired her. She succeeded in cutting into the AT Field, but her efforts were in vain: her opponent replaced it with yet another field, so weak as to be nothing more than a haze.

Rei stepped back, still on her guard. "Suzuhara," she said, "fire."

Touji was a moment in responding. He clasped the pistol in both hands, took careful aim, and fired. The bullet did not seem to affect the AT Field, nor did the second or third shots. Touji threw down the pistol. "Gimme a bigger gun!"

Misato spoke. "Touji, there's a projectile cannon behind you. You'll have to go back to the city to pick it up. Rei, engage the Angel. It can't attack you with its AT Field in place. And Shinji, Asuka, HURRY UP! You have less than three minutes left!"

"Yeah, I KNOW!"

Rei stepped up to the Angel. She thought that it was rotating at a constant velocity, greater than her own, but it was hard to see. A third time, she attacked with her Progressive Knife, but she didn't catch the AT Field. She slashed through space. The Angel had dodged her attack by warping itself. Its pseudopod now reached out and grabbed her left arm, wrapping around and around her wrist. Rei shrieked and hacked at the pseudopod. To her surprise, she cut through it with ease. The Angel reacted to the attack and drew back into itself, reforming the circle; the material on Rei's arm melted and started dripping off.

Bolstered by her success, Rei lunged at it. She missed. Her knife arm shot into the air well above the Angel. Quicker than the eye could follow another pseudopod was against, around, pulling Rei's right arm. It whipped her halfway around the circle in an eighth of a second and then threw her against the side of the mountain.

The feedback from the Evangelion was concentrated on her neck, the location of the impact; and Ayanami Rei, unable to assimilate the force of the impact, was thrown into shock an instant before her body could realize the pain.

Asuka and Shinji were powerless to intervene, but eager to avenge.

With an awkward battle yell, Shinji leaped down at the Angel, swinging his axe. It caught against the AT Field; weak though the resistance was, the axe was kept from its target, and Shinji slipped and sprawled along the muddy slope. Asuka took more care, stalking down to meet the Angel midway up the slope. A pseudopod reached out towards her, but Asuka stepped aside, contenting herself with a surgical slice at her opponent. To her satisfaction, few blobs of Angel flesh were cut off. The Angel changed its tactics. It reared up, serpentine, and struck out towards her. Asuka ducked, almost kneeling. The Angel rose again, only to have a piece of its middle blown out.


"Touji? Was that you?"

"Yeah! LOOK OUT!"

Without hesitation, Asuka swung her knife up above her head. Her aim was true but her strength was lacking, and the tip of the knife was cleaved off. A moment later the Angel's pseudopod caught her on her shoulder, sprawling her against the ground.

>From 20 meters away, Touji blew the pseudopod off of the Angel. He could see that it had shrunk in diameter, and he chuckled, finding a bit of confidence in his heart. He dropped to one knee. The Angel was above and a few meters in front of him. He fired, tearing a new hole through the middle of the Angel.

But the Angel fell onto him, wrapping the EVA up tightly...

"What the...???" -- The three control room operators turned dumbly to Katsuragi Misato, who looked in turn to Commander Ikari. Speaking from beneath his fingertips, he said simply, "Well?"

Ibuki Maya glanced at her monitors. "Uh...we've lost all communication with the EVAs. All power supplies have been cut. Our sensors aren't indicating a blue pattern, and...hey, here's something...the seismic sensors recorded a tremor a few moments ago. That's all the information I have, sir."

Major Katsuragi's gaze returned to her commanding officers. "What should we do? We can't contact the EVAs, and we can't recover them in this weather."

"The thing to do is obvious, Major." Ikari adjusted his glasses and stood. "If the blue pattern is gone, then the Angel isn't a threat anymore. If the Angel is not a threat anymore, then the EVAs have done their duty. If they have done their duty, and if there is no way to recover them, then we can afford to leave them there until the weather has improved.

"Please alert the civil defense to keep all civilians in the shelters overnight--I don't think that that will cause a problem. Issue rations. Provide medical attention. As for the Geofront, all personnel are to switch to blue alert until such time as we can recover the EVAs. The pilots are expendable, but we should save them if they're still alive, or recover their remains if they're not."

He turned to his second and lowered his voice. "Fuyutsuki, order the backups to monitor in the control room for four hours. Let's give these people some rest, we've had a long day."

"Yes, sir."

Daniel Snyder
Please direct all mail to
If I wasn't such a strange person, this would all seem so confusing.

Sariel (6/7)

For a moment, Touji couldn't remember if he had been asleep or not; and as he struggled to remember, he jarred himself fully awake, answering the question.

He remembered his name and address. He deduced that he was in the entry plug of his EVA, and he remembered why. He looked around him. He could see nothing. The only light in the cockpit came from the emergency survival kit that was secured at his feet.

Touji fumbled with the controls but got no response from them. _I must've lost power somehow,_ he thought. How? His last memories were from fighting the black circle Angel. There was no shred of memory after that.

_The Angel...where is it?_

He didn't recall hearing sounds of battle from the outside. Touji made an extra effort to listen. The world around him was almost silent. From somewhere--above him?--was a thud-thud-thud that Touji guessed to be the muddy rain.

_Well, I'm not doing any good sitting in here...I should try and get out._

He pawed about in the darkness until his left hand fell on the manual eject mechanism. He couldn't remember if it would work without power, but he decided that it didn't really matter. Touji lifted the protective plate, reached his arm inside, and jerked.

The force of the ejection threw him, and only the mass of the LCL kept his arm from being broken as it collided with the edge of the mechanism's container. Smarting, Touji did nothing more than shake out his arm as the LCL drained away. He felt the fluid remaining in his lungs as he spat and gagged as much as he was able--but as Shinji told him it would, he could feel it evaporating away. Less than a quarter minute after he had ejected the plug, Suzuhara Touji felt back to normal.

He was done. His first real battle was over. -- The door to the plug swung open, and Touji, carrying the emergency container, came out to look at the world around him.

The sky was still very dark. Touji couldn't guess what time it was, somewhere between afternoon and evening, and it was darker than even a storm should have made the sky; but he thought that it was lighter than it had been when he left the school, a good sign. The wind had died away, and the mud rain had less force and less sediment in it.

It was difficult to see with the darkness and the weather, but he guessed that his EVA was halfway down the side of the hill, prone, face downhill. At the foot of the hill, all in a jumble, were his comrades'. The purple one lay in a fetal curl on top of the red one's legs; the red one, in turn, was splayed out on top of the blue one. None was moving, nor could he make out any signs of life.

All the EVAs, the hillside, and the plain around them were bathed in mud and debris. _I didn't think we kicked up THAT much,_ thought Touji. He spent a moment thinking how best to get down to Shinji's EVA before he remembered the Angel. There was no sign of it. The only sign it had ever been there was a trace of ozone in the air, smelling foul and electric.

Clutching the emergency kit under his right arm, Touji scrambled down the muddy, slippery hillside. With his attention focused on his path, he was almost to the EVA cluster before he saw Asuka sitting on her EVA's head.

"Asuka!" he shouted.

She turned away from the point off in space she had been looking at and gazed down at him. "Oh, it's you," she said. "Glad to see you're alive and all that."

"What're you doing up there?"

"Collecting my thoughts." She shivered.

"Put on your poncho if you're cold and wet. Where's Shinji?"

"Poncho? What poncho?"

"It's right on the top of your emergency kit. Here, take mine." He was talking up to her from the ground beside the waist of her EVA. He set his kit on the ground, extracted a sealed bag from inside, then replaced it. Awkwardly, he climbed up onto the EVA and walked over to where Asuka sat.

"Here," he said.

Asuka's face was expressionless, her hair was disheveled, and she moved less than seemed necessary. Slowly and carefully, she took the bag from him, and unwrapped the grey-green poncho. She stared at it for a moment before she tried to put it on.

Everything Asuka did and did not do sent pangs of concern through Suzuhara Touji. At the same time, there were other things on his mind. "Uh, where's Shinji?"

"Dunno." Asuka was straightening up the poncho. "I think he went off to look for the First Children.

"Hey, where's the rescue team?"

"Don't know. Shinji! SHINJI!"

He raised his voice up as high as he could and got a response shout. "That's him! Come on, Asuka!" Touji dragged Asuka to her feet and led her to the head end of the red EVA. From there they could see the blue EVA. Shinji was in the mud at the base of the neck. He was toying with something near where the entry plug was inserted.


Shinji looked up sheepishly from what he was working on, and stood to speak. "I'M TRYING TO EJECT REI'S ENTRY PLUG, BUT I CAN'T REMEMBER HOW TO DO IT!"



Touji turned to Asuka. "Do you know how to get the plug out of there?"

"Uh...yeah, it's easy. You have to..."

"Hey, Shinji! ASUKA SAYS SHE KNOWS! C'mon, let's get down there." Once again Touji led the way, slipping down the side of the EVA. Asuka staggered behind him, with the edges of the poncho flapping and fluttering in the lift from her descent.

Like Asuka, Shinji was shivering and soaking in the rain. "I tried knocking on the entry plug, and she didn't respond. I don't know what's happened to her."

Touji nodded. "Shinji, I want you to run back to your EVA and get your emergency supply kit. Asuka--hey, Asuka, pay attention!"

"I am paying attention," she snarled.

"Well, look at me, for cryin' out loud! Asuka, open up the entry plug, then you and I are going to get Rei out of there. Have you had first aid training?"


"I guess I should take her head, anyway. Now, get the entry plug out of there."

Sullenly, Asuka pushed open a hatch that had been covered with mud. She pulled at a lever inside of it, then stepped back. The plug shot out of the EVA and purged its LCL, splattering Asuka and Touji with the cool yellow fluid as Shinji returned to the group. He immediately started for the plug, but Touji held him back.

"Shinji, Asuka hasn't had first aid training. How about you?"

"Uh, no."

"I'll go in first. Meantime, you get your--"

"Hey, wait a minute!" Asuka said. "Who made you the boss around here?"

She hadn't anticipated Touji's reaction: he sighed and smiled. "I was worried that you were becoming hypothermic, Asuka, but it's good to see you've got your temper back."


"Now, let's you and me go get Rei. Shinji, get your poncho on, then come join us."

Asuka was sucked up into the field of Touji's energy. She hurried behind him to where Rei's entry plug lay against the ground. Touji opened the door and the two Children crowded inside. Rei was still lying on her back with her head rolled against her right shoulder. Touji felt inside the kit for a moment or two, concentrating on his sense of touch, before he extracted a tiny flashlight. He switched it on, throwing a circle of milky light into the interior. Asuka stood behind him, next to Rei's feet, growing from uncomfortable and irate to bored.

Shinji joined them. "I'm back. What's going on?"

"One second." Touji pulled back Rei's eyelids and shined the light into each eye, resting the back of her head against his right arm. Then he carefully listened to her breathing and for her pulse at the base of her neck. He turned to the other two pilots. "She's unconscious, but I don't think she's got any brain damage. We need to move her out of here in case something happens to her. Asuka, are you still gonna help me move her?"

"Yeah. I said I was, didn't I?"

"Fine. Shinji, while we do that, get up and look for some cover where we can wait until the storm's passed." The boy disappeared from the entry way, and Touji gave Asuka his full attention. "We gotta move her, but we can't let her backbone or neck move in case she got herself injured in the fight."

Asuka snorted. "I get it. She's unconscious, so she can't tell us if she's hurt or not...and we don't want to exacerbate any injuries she has."

"What's 'exacerbate' mean?"

"'Fuck up', to you."

"Uh huh. Now why don't you get ahold of her ankles and swing them up and out of those stirrup thingies...that's good. Now, move up towards me and get ahold of her waist. Slide her towards me..."

"Have you got her head?"

"Yeah, and her that far enough for you?"

"I think so. What do you want me to do now?"

Touji's right arm was reached all the way across Rei's front; her head was supported by his right "bicep" and "shoulder". His left arm was stuck out for balance. "Now...I want you lift Rei's hips straight up, and remember, you have to keep her backbone straight..."

"I know already! I know!"

"...and I'll lift her head along with you. Then I'll move over to the side and you'll turn her hips, and we'll aim for the door. Got it?"

"Yeah. Let's do this."



Asuka's arms were encircled around Rei's pelvis; the First Children's legs had been swung up and out of harm's way, but as Asuka lifted they became dead weight on the pelvis. "Shit! She weighs a ton!"

"Shinji's gonna help us as soon's we get outside. Start backing up."

"Shut up. How much further?"

"You're almost there."

"How much FURTHER, goddammit?"

"Half a meter. I'm stepping over Rei's seat now...OK, stop right there. You're at the door."

"Well, don't keep me waiting here!"

"All right, I'm moved now. Back out slowly." -- Depression and a selfish desire for slumber battled in Katsuragi Misato's mind. Halfway through her second glass of whiskey she was on the verge of making up her mind, but lingered in the waking world. Strands of her purple hair stuck between the fingers of her right hand as it propped her head up, her elbow at rest on the back of the neighboring chair. Her left hand held the tumbler of nepenthe. Akagi Ritsuko was with her in the debriefing room of the Geofront; it was her bottle that they were sharing. Ritsuko held the bottle in both hands, resting its base against her knees. She joined in the delirium, interrupted periodically by unprovoked thoughts of fetal alcohol syndrome.

Hyuuga Makoto wandered into the room with a sofa cushion under one arm. He froze in the doorway at the sight of two other people, two women, two superior officers. "Uh, I wasn't I interrupting something?"


"No, come in, Makoto," said Ritsuko. She waved him to the row of chairs in front of her. "We're just sitting..."

Makoto walked into the room without turning on the lights and seated himself facing the two women. "Uh, can I?" he said, pointing to the bottle.

"Sure." Ritsuko handed him the bottle, and Misato followed with the glass. "I drank out of here, and Misato drank out of here. Drink out of here."

"OK," said Makoto without a trace of ruefulness in his voice. He drank what remained in the glass' depths in one swallow. He winced at the burn in his mouth, throat and belly, then returned the glass and bottle. "Boy, that was strong. Thank you."

"You're welcome."

There was a quarter-minute's silence, then Makoto asked Misato, "How do you feel? Anxious?"

She stared blankly for a little while, dead to the world, then roused herself enough to slowly provide the answer. "Anxious...scared...but, I guess it doesn't feel so know that I can't really do anything..."

"That's a very strange thing to say, Major."

She nodded, and the matter fell to rest. Makoto tried again with Ritsuko. "What's on your mind, Akagi-sensei?"

Her answer was equally lethargic. "Well, there's nothing we can do, is there. The road's swimming in mud where it hasn't been destroyed. That leaves only aerial rescue, and they won't be able to fly until daybreak tomorrow. That's assuming, of course, that the mudstorm lets up." She got around to making eye contact with him. "Which it will, eventually. So we're just relying on their survival skills."

"Oh," said Makoto, "what part of their training is this?"

Nobody said anything. Makoto felt himself growing very hot, even as the temperature of the room slipped away degree by degree. The spell was broken with the sound of shattering glass. Katsuragi Misato had slumped forward and was crying hysterically. "I _meant_ to do it! I meant to do it all along, so that they wouldn't be in trouble, so that they wouldn't be abandoned if they got stranded away from us, and now it's too fucking late! I could've done it! Asuka's so smart, she's a genius, she would have learned those survival skills faster than anything, and Shinji's so sweet, he would've gone along with it, he would've even taught Rei and Touji, and it was all in my tactical detail, oh my god..."

Ritsuko and Makoto forced Misato to take a drink of the whiskey, and then another; and by that drink, she had regained control of herself. They laid her out on the floor of the debriefing room with her coat as a blanket and Makoto's pillow to rest her head on, and they took turns watching over her and taking short naps of their own, so afraid of losing one of their own before their very eyes, and of a rupture within their group, their tiny subset of NERV. -- "Disobedient--no, traitorous. Wasteful."

"Stupid. Ikari, what prompted you to recover Unit-03 AND allow the Fourth Children to pilot it?"

Ikari Gendou spoke tiredly. "It is within the parameters of the Dead Sea Scrolls to allow this to happen."

"Hell." One of the faceless voices broke in before Ikari had finished letting out his breath. "It is within YOUR INTERPRETATION, Ikari, never you forget that. You were only to use the Fourth Children in conjunction with the Angel of Hail, and as a means of advancing the Instrumentality Project...which, once again, you acted on your own initiative in regards to. You let him live."

"The pilot of Unit-01 let him live. I admit that I performed some damage control, but it was of no consequence. I allowed him his second combat foray as a means of making some further progress on his original time line.

"At this moment, he is isolated from the rest of civilization, exposed to the elements under conditions of a tropical storm. Death through exposure, or possibly hypothermia, will occur at a 75% chance. I have every faith that his original time line will run its course."

There was a tense pause. The first voice spoke again: "Ikari, there will be no need for you contact us again before you have a cadaver." Then, like coffins being taken to the netherworld, the figures around the conference table faded and disappeared.

Fuyutsuki and Ikari removed their VR goggles in unison; Fuyutsuki watched as Ikari massaged his face where they had rested. "Sir, are you tired?"

Ikari exposed his weakness a moment as he said, "Yes. I am very tired." He rose from his seat and addressed his second. "How much time is left before the main staff returns to duty?"

"29 minutes, sir."

"Very well. Let's return to the control room." -- Ayanami Rei rested serene on a space blanket, her head supported by a pile of damp twigs and leaves. A poncho lay over her body to keep it warm. Up over her head, another space blanket was supported by two large tree branches driven into the ground. In front of the ersatz tent Ikari Shinji and Sohryu Asuka Langley held another poncho by their fingertips as high above the ground as they could reach. Underneath it, Suzuhara Touji had assembled a small pile of dry twigs and branches. In his hands he held a flare.

"Don't look directly into it."

He practiced swinging it twice; then he closed his eyes and set it off, following through into the center of the tinder. A moment later he tossed it blindly away from him and looked at the twigs. They had caught fire.

He added larger twigs, then the smaller branches. The fire grew. Light and shadows appeared where only moments before there had been the dimming twilight and the overcast grey of the rainstorm. For the first time in an hour, the Children began to feel warm again.

"All right, you guys," said Touji, "you can put the poncho down." Shinji and Asuka folded the poncho and followed Touji into the tent. They sat down huddled in a group next to Rei. Touji spoke quietly. "My guess is that the space blankets will reflect enough heat that we should be fine in here. The fire's strong enough for now, but somebody'll have to go out and get wood later. First thing, though..."

"What?" said Shinji.

Touji rooted through the emergency kit and brought out three nutrition bars. "'s dinner time!" He happily unwrapped his and took a chomp out of one corner. Shinji followed suit.

"Hey, Touji?"

"Yef, Afka?"

"Where did you learn all this stuff?" She swept her arm around her, as if to gesture to everything that he had done before as well as everything around them. "We didn't have any kind of training like this in NERV. Where did you get it?"

Touji swallowed his bite before he said, "Kensuke-kun."

"WHAT?" shouted Asuka. Rei snorted, then drifted back asleep. "What on Earth does that idiot have to do with anything?"

"Well, he's the outdoors type, likes to camp," said Touji modestly. "But he likes to camp by himself, or with his friends. No adults. So he's taught himself how to handle any emergency; he even told me he could survive two straight days with just a knife and a compass. After he told me that, of course I wanted to go with him. He said sure, but I had to take a first aid course so that I wouldn't panic and do something stupid if I got into trouble.

"And now...I just saved your girly ass."

Shinji froze. Asuka stopped her chewing. Then she looked long and hard at the nutrition bar she was eating. She swallowed and said, "Yeah. You did."

Touji smirked.

Asuka's eyes were dewy. "Touji-kun, I don't understand. How can you be so smart, and learn all these things, and be friends with Shinji, and still be the same person who humilitated Hikari-chan in front of our entire class?"

The smirk fled far away. Asuka went on. "She was so scared for what you would say. She wanted to protect you and keep you away from it all. She didn't want to let you know that you were going to be the father."


"That's right, Touji-kun. You were the father. You were her one and only. But she didn't want you to think that you had been irresponsible."

Touji's gaze fell down to his right arm, the cybernetic arm. He opened and closed his fist again and again. Asuka crawled past the exceedingly-uneasy Shinji and took hold of the arm. "Listen, Touji. You've done a good turn for me, now I can do a good turn for you. I can talk to Hikari, she'll listen to me. Give me a message for her, and I'll deliver it. I promise."

Finally, Touji managed to raise his head. He looked Asuka in the eyes for a moment, and then he broke away to bow deeply. "Asuka-chan, I thank you very humbly. You're too kind. I don't deserve your offer. I...I shouldn't have told her that I felt attracted to her in that way, and then I thought that the condom was fine..."

"Spermicide? Reservoir-tipped?"

"Yuh-yuh-yuh-yeah. Exactly. Even lubricated."

"Oh, there's your problem. Most commercial condoms don't have enough lubricant on them. You should add a few drops more to allow smooth motion."


"Yeah. Sometime Misato should give you the Cucumber Talk. She's given it to me three times since I moved in."

"The wha-wha-wha???"

"The Cucumber Talk. That's where you take a cucumber and you put a--hey! I'm talking to you! Get back here! You'll get wet out there!" Asuka watched as Touji disappeared off into the trees, running as fast as he could. "What a weird guy. He and Hikari will never last. Shinji, go get him. Shinji! Snap out of it!"

She waved a hand in front of his face, plugged his nose, and poked him in the belly; but he was still petrified. He looked like a man watching a bikini girl jump out of a cake at a funeral. Asuka sighed and slumped down beside Rei. _What a sad state of affairs...when the only person I can relate to is Wonder Girl. Well, goodnight, world._

Daniel Snyder
Please direct all mail to
If I wasn't such a strange person, this would all seem so confusing.

Sariel (7/7)

Horaki Hikari measured the tintinnabulation of the seconds as they passed in the emergency shelter. Time moved slower than her heart. From the darkness around her came the deep breathing and snoring of the Tokyo-jin. They were at peace, she felt their ease in the rhythms of their slumber. Days had passed since she last felt peace. She wanted it. She wanted the security and stability she had once known. It meant so much to her. More than money, more than power...

...more than honor?

Her conscience had long stopped to prick her. Her tormentor was her anxiety. There was a great unknown in her life, like an ice- cold dagger through her heart. It was 02:39, a time when by all rights she should be able to choose slumber over pain. She could not.

_What does Touji know? What does Touji think of me now? Where did he go? To NERV? Is that why a car came to pick him up? Why did he go back to NERV? For me? To fight me?_

She couldn't remember if her eyes were closed or open as tears rolled down her face and onto the tatami mat. -- By 6 AM the rain was truly rain, and it no longer fell with any force through the sky; the wind that had blown it was no longer gusting. Four NERV gunships rose up in formation from the hills around Tokyo-3. They held in the air for a moment, like birds of prey waiting to strike; then they dipped their noses towards the ground and sallied forth, passing over the city and then swooping down to the south.

Outside the city limits they turned on their spotlights and began probing the ground, sweeping their lamps around and about across the hillside. They paid special attention to the four Evangelion units, half-hidden in the mud and debris. The point helicopter slank down from the sky and hovered just above the red EVA-02 unit. Figures shimmied down on ropes to scout about the wreck; but they found nothing there.

At once, one helicopter peeled off from the group and dove downhill to a cluster of trees, a small outgrowth of the forest, towards the foot of the hill. Excitedly, two of its companion helicopters followed it, while the third hurried to reel in its former occupants.

There was a mound of earth that had slumped down from the hill during the combat; a distance from it there was a tiny pinprick of bright white magnesium light, standing out against the blackness before the dawn. A moment later the light disappeared as it was enveloped in the full force of the searchlight. At the front was a young man in a blue suit, proudly bearing the flare. Next to him was a young woman in a red suit, excitedly jumping up and down and waving. Behind them were a young man in a poncho standing next to a young woman with a space blanket wrapped across her shoulders. They were all smiling; for theirs was the joy of the saved. -- He rang the bell and then stepped back away from the door, suddenly nervous. He pressed his hand to the side of his head and tapped his foot absently for a few moments. He quickly stopped both mannerisms as she opened the door.

Suzuhara Touji was dressed in a new uniform. It was a mousy brown in color. The trousers were full-length, the jacket clasped with a white triangle at the neck. On the jacket's left breast was the NERV logo in red. Pilot's epaulets were on the shoulders. He smelled of clean skin and shaving cream.

Horaki Hikari had put on a royal blue blouse and a white skirt. She wore earrings in her ears, red hearts circled by gold. Her front was in a shadow from the bright lights of the house; sounds of conversation and a stereo came from within.

"Huh...hi," said Touji.

"Hello," replied Hikari.

They had both spoken quietly. There was a pause, and then Touji spoke again. "I...uh...I wanted to talk with you. Can I come in?"

Hikari had her answer prepared. "It's noisy inside, my whole family's at home this evening. Why don't we go out back and talk?"

"Uh...sure, fine," Touji stammered.

In the back was a small garden. There was a willow tree next to the stream and pond, and a cherry tree on the opposite side. Hikari and Touji walked down a gravel pathway to a bench beside the stream. The moonlight poured over them from the sky above. They sat side by side and looked at the garden.

Touji spoke first. "I'm sorry, Hikari. I never should've opened my mouth and said such awful things about you."

A moment passed, and then she said, "Well, I didn't hear you use the words 'abortion', or 'pregnancy'...and all my friends got the wrong idea about what happened. They all think I went out behind your back."

"No, I didn't want to use those words," Touji said. He had turned his hips around and was looking at her imploringly. "Hikari, understand me...I had to practice to say what I said. And even then, I just couldn't bring myself to say 'abortion'. Or anything."

"It doesn't matter, does it?" A tear on Hikari's cheek caught the moonlight. "I had the abortion, and I didn't tell you anything. And now, you've gone and joined NERV again. Touji, I don't want you endangering yourself like this. You could die. And it's all because of me. I'm sorry."

"Hey, Hikari-chan." He pulled her around; they were finally facing each other, his hand on her shoulder, her arms clasped to her chest. "Maybe it's wrong for me to NOT fight if they want me. Me and Shinji and Asuka and Rei, we have to work together. 'Cause if we don't, I don't know what'll happen, the world will end.

"And you're too important for me to lose, Hikari. That's the truth. I want to stay a pilot. For your sake."

She said very quietly, "What a very sweet thing to say, Touji- kun."

"Oh. Really?"

Hikari smiled, and her tears stopped running. She pulled away from him and wiped off her face. "It's all done, Touji. We've each made our decisions, and they were bad, and now we need to start again. Will you still be my boyfriend, Touji?"

"Will you let me?"

"Of course."

"OK, then."

She stood up and brushed herself off, and he followed suit. "Now kiss me goodnight, Touji; and tomorrow, as soon as we see each other, I want you to offer to take me out to a movie on Saturday."

"I think I can do that."

He slipped an arm around her waist and another across her back; he pulled her tightly to him; then he kissed her, and felt the sweet taste of her lips against his own.


The angel of the title, according to Gustav Davidson's _Dictionary of Angels_, is of the Seraph order and is identified as both a fallen and a holy angel. Because of this, and because SARIEL is an anagram of ISRAEL, the author identifies him with the Angel of Redemption.


Copyright 1999 Daniel Snyder. Permission granted to duplicate in any digital, binary, or e-mail format; however, any physical printout is strictly prohibited. Based on characters created by GAINAX. Shin Seiki Evangelion/Neon Genesis Evangelion is the intellectual property of and copyrighted by GAINAX, adapted by AD Vision and Viz Comics for North America. Any resemblance to persons living or deceased is purely coincidental.

Special thanks to Gavin Drake, Mark Engels, Addison Godel, Andrew Hwang, Scott Sandwick, Zhou Tai An and Greg Smith for their editorial advice and support. Thanks also to Lycia, whose album "Cold" provided background music during the writing of most of this story.

Daniel Snyder

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If I wasn't such a strange person, this would all seem so confusing.

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