Hey guys, back again!
This is the last part of Wrath. I'm incredibly excited to post this chapter.
Two chapters in a month? I'm on a roll!
In all seriousness, I hope all of you are being safe during this pandemic.
Here's chapter 48: "Wrath - Part 3"
"It was all wrong. So very wrong.
The wrath was terrible to behold… for all mankind."
- Shinji Ikari
"That request is denied."
The words were like a slap to the face.
Lieutenant Colonel Hashi took a moment to recompose himself. He sat in the JSSDF Mobile Command Center, and he wasn't alone. The command staff for the operation had managed to escape the massacre of the surface forces. It had been a close call, with the new foreign Evangelion Units ignoring any non-combat individuals outside of a predetermined area around Nerv.
What little survivors he had with him were exhausted. Their faces grim and solemn at the bloodbath they had bore witness to.
He could feel the eyes and ears on him as they listened in on his call with the General. He no longer bothered with proper intelligence handling. There was too much at stake.
"Sir. I am requesting N2 weaponry. A thermonuclear strike upon the Geofront. We cannot defeat the Evangelions. Nerv's or this new Third Party. The Director can't be taken alive… not anymore," Hashi said. He kept his voice calm, doing his best not to plead.
"And that request is denied. Gendo Ikari is to be taken alive. We will send a reinforcement group to aid you," the General answered him.
Hashi nearly shouted. "My underground forces are not enough. We cannot defeat the Evangelion Units."
Even if my men eliminate the high priority targets and capture Gendo… they can't bring him back into custody.
The General paused. The room was tense. Hashi kept his composure for his officers if nothing else, inside, he was frantic and solemn. He knew what the answer would be before the reply came over the secured comm line.
"I sympathize with you and your men. But my orders stand. No N2 weaponry. No nuclear strikes. See to your surviving forces, keep up the assault to the best of your ability. We will send reinforcements as soon as possible," the General said firmly.
The line went dead. The conversation was over.
Hashi breathed in hard. His fellow survivors did the same.
Who knew how many had escaped the massacre? How many lay stranded and scattered elsewhere? Who these new Eva Units belonged to, and where they had been built? Who on earth had the resources to make 15 Evangelion Units? Nerv and the UN had managed only 4?
So little answers. Hashi felt the weight of them and the blood on his hands.
It was all wrong.
The battle for Instrumentality.
The war waged on. The fighting encompassed the entire Geofront from top to the very bottom.
Upon the surface, lay a newly created wasteland. Craters and burn marks scattered the grounds. The ruins of the JSSDF forces lay where it had fallen, crumpled bits of machinery and human corpses. Tanks, armored trucks, anti-aircraft guns, rocket artillery, all left as little more than scrap metal. A military overwhelmed by a threat they could not match.
Ghost white corpses, monstrous things, more Angel than machine, lay where they had fallen as well. The MP Evas, SEELE's counter to Nerv.
An MP Eva was struck across the face. Asuka grunted, putting all of Unit 02's weight behind the blow. The creature was sent stumbling back, its feet crushing the grounds underneath it.
Beside Asuka and her Eva, was the Awakened Unit 01. The AT Blade flashed, its light blinding, and the Spear of Longinus followed.
The horde of SEELE's automatons kept up the assault. The whirling tangle of titans clashed upon the surface, standing atop a wasteland, a stampede of violence that mortal men shied away from.
Below, into Nerv itself, the fighting continued as well. The remaining JSSDF pushed forward, moved along by their battalion commander's final orders. The soldiers found themselves desperate, knowing that time was short. That another Impact Event was imminent.
Violence filled the restricted levels of Nerv as the military clashed with security forces. Bullets fired back and forth, explosions rocked the once dark and quiet tunnels. Corpses began to fill the hallways.
And down in the deepest levels of the compound, at the final level, lay a prison. Its existence had been kept hidden from the world. The men and women who had designed and then constructed the prison were curiously missing, their whereabouts unknown, and had been for over a decade.
The lowest level of Nerv.
Entrance to the Prison.
Gendo Ikari found Rei exactly where he had predicted.
He came upon the lowest level of Nerv and found the pale girl standing before the vault doors. The entrance to Lilith's prison was enormous, thick steel walls taller than even an Evangelion Unit. The prison itself had been built around the Second Angel and had housed her there for years.
Rei Ayanami III ran her hand across the doors.
She couldn't open them. She lacked the credentials.
"Rei," Gendo said stepping out and onto the floor.
The girl ignored him.
He drew closer relieved to have been right. He frowned as he glanced at the electronic lock on the doors. The display was flickering as if suffering from electromagnetic interference.
Rei still wouldn't look at him.
He put a hand to her shoulder and called her name out. The girl froze, and her free hand began to shake, bawling into a fist.
Gendo released his grip on her and she calmed.
"Ayanami," Gendo said, using the command word. He smirked as the programming took hold, and the pale girl turned to face him at last.
Rei wore a blank expression. Her eyes staring ahead unblinkingly.
She's still unstable. No matter. She only has one job left.
Gendo took a moment to examine her. He smiled at his greatest creation. The trigger that could wield Human Instrumentality in a vision that he had crafted. The instructions lay programmed into her and had been there since the day of her birth. Her first birth.
"We have all the pieces," he said, pulling back the glove on his hand.
Within the palm of his hand, the implanted Adam Sample stirred. The bundle of foreign cells within his own flesh moved. Alive but weak. Allowed to regrow only with the limits that he had enforced religiously. The First Angel had been left as little more than a puppet for him and his trigger to command.
"Ayanami. Lift your shirt," he commanded.
Again, the programming held, and the pale girl did as he asked.
Gendo brought his hand to the girl's bare chest and pressed the Adam Sample to her heart. The alien collection of DNA left him behind. The bundle of living cells separated itself from his skin and transferred in its entirety to its new host… Rei Ayanami III.
"Agh," he grunted from the sensation. It hurt; the transfer left him with a burning sensation stretching out from the palm of his hand to his entire arm.
That was not expected.
The Director of Nerv flinched back, rubbing his arm and wincing at the black mark in his hand where the implant had been. What skin he'd had before the surgery was blackened and dead, flesh as if from a corpse.
Pain is a small price to pay for my dreams made a reality, he mused.
Rei lowered her shirt blinking rapidly as the Adam Sample took hold within her flesh. She opened her mouth as if wincing, her veins throbbed visibly before steadying themselves. She exhaled, frowning deeply.
"It's done," Gendo muttered.
A madness gleamed in his eye. He had sacrificed so much for this day. Years of planning and groveling, of playing the most powerful men in the world, of dabbling in forces beyond mankind's comprehension. Yet here he was.
The world at his fingertips.
"It's time. The forbidden union of Adam and Lilith. The combined powers of the First and Second Angels. Ayanami, take their powers and mold them to my will. Bind all the souls of mankind. Remake this world, and leave it behind. It can burn. From the ashes, you will craft the world anew in my image," Gendo said.
He felt elevated. Drunk on the gravitas of his life's work.
"Yui… Yui… my love… we will be reunited," Gendo whimpered. What little remained of his heart ached for the first time in almost a decade. Nothing would keep them apart. Not even death.
Rei watched him, silent and solemn.
Gendo raised his Director's ID card with his good hand and unlocked the doors to the prison.
The heavy steel doors of the vault opened with a harsh scream. And the Prisoner of Nerv was revealed at long last.
Lilith the Second Angel lay crucified in her prison, looming over them. Deformed and mutilated, with long scars running across what remained of her torso. Distinctly feminine in her humanoid form, the titan lay watching them with deep red eyes that peered through her faceplate.
"Go. My will be done," Gendo said putting a hand to Rei's back and pressing her forward.
Rei walked forward and then stopped suddenly. The pale girl froze, tilting her head and closing her eyes as she stood before the imprisoned Second Angel.
The Director of Nerv frowned. The pain in his hand was starting to flair. He didn't know how much longer he could take it. It seemed to be growing, nerve endings firing off across his arm beginning to shout in pain.
"Ayanami!" He barked. "My will be done."
Rei ignored him.
Gendo fumed, the pain in his arm was growing worse.
"Do you hear it?" Rei said suddenly. Her voice was dreamlike, detached, and soft.
"The song… it's calling," Rei said softly.
Gendo panted, holding his damaged arm tightly and looking up to the imprisoned God-like being towering over them.
Lilith was watching him. Cold gargantuan red eyes, a glint along the white faceplate framed in the mutilated remains of the Second Angel. Intelligent eyes. She never blinked. The Director of Nerv had the Prisoner's complete undivided attention.
Gendo felt a chill run through him. What was taking so long? This was not according to plan.
"… my will be done. Go on, Rei Ayanami," Gendo commanded.
Rei ignored him again.
Anger flared in him. His remaining good hand reached for the gun he'd taken, but he stopped himself at the last minute. There were no more Rei iterations. This copy was the only one in existence that was viable. And there was no time to make another.
He took a deep breath. Calming himself even as he felt the piercing gaze of the Second Angel on him at all times.
Rei stirred, raising her head to the Second Angel herself.
"I can't… I don't want to. I am sorry," the pale girl said slowly.
Lilith watched silently.
"Who are you talking to-" Gendo began.
"There was a promise. I cannot remember why... I want to know… it's gone… I need to know… it was important," Rei said continuing on without him. She spoke as if every word hurt her. She raised a hand to her head and winced, closing her eyes tight.
She cried. A soft little hiccup.
"... You helped me... but I... I don't want to do it," Rei whimpered, pained and slurred.
"Ayanami," Gendo commanded.
The programming kicked in and Rei resisted it. Gendo scowled as he saw the war raging from within the girl. She almost turned to him and obeyed, but she was fighting it. The pale girl struggled, fidgeting as she stared ahead to the Second Angel.
"Ayanami," Gendo commanded again.
The girl lost all of her strength and her expression went blank. A lone remaining tear trapped within her eye. Lost and forgotten.
Good. I'll have none of that. I made you.
Gendo opened his mouth to give the order when he stopped, hearing the sound of an elevator reaching the floor.
"Fuyutsuki?" Gendo muttered. No. The elevator would only give access to himself or his sub-commander, but he had given orders that he would carry out the ritual himself.
Soft footsteps were approaching in the dark hallway leading up to the doors of the prison.
Gendo raised the gun, his eyes widened behind his tinted glasses as he saw the figure emerge.
He pulled the trigger.
Shinji Ikari stepped off the elevator and was instantly struck by the power within the prison.
His Angel senses went off the moment he arrived. It surged all around him, he felt it in his teeth, in the air, and in his bones. The two most powerful beings in the known universe were together again.
Adam and Lilith were both here.
They shined like newborn stars within the Angel network. A nexus point of threads with a combined weight that overshadowed anything and everything. Together, the First and Second Angels wielded a power that could destroy the world and remake it entirely.
He had never felt it before. Being so close to a recovered Adam and Lilith. This Prison at the very bottom of Nerv had been designed to hide its occupants even from the other Angels. Neither he nor the Broken Man had ever been able to reach out to Lilith.
Now that he was here, he wasn't sure if he could. Lilith's presence alone was overwhelming him, like standing before an imprisoned supernova.
I was too slow. Damn it! They're already here!
Shinji broke into a run. He passed the enormous vault doors to the prison and found the three figures inside. Lilith herself, a wounded and deformed female Titan that towered over them all. And finally, the Director of Nerv and Rei Ayanami.
Gendo raised his handgun and pulled the trigger.
Shinji had expected no less. He raised a hand and brought the AT Field forth without a second thought. The shield of solid light sprang to life.
The bullet collided with his AT Field and stopped in mid-air harmlessly.
Gendo Ikari flinched, shaken by the sight of the 'abomination' before his very eyes. Shinji met the man's fearful gaze. Father and son reunited.
The Director of Nerv hissed and tugged Rei in front of him with his gun still raised.
"Ayanami! I order you to protect me," Gendo commanded.
Shinji glared. The hatred flared within him at the sight of a grown man hiding behind a girl. The same hatred that had filled his soul in the aftermath of the Five Angel Crisis. His father, the selfish madman who had given everything for a dream that was forever lost to him. How many had been hurt in his name? How many lives had been ruined? He was as bad as Keel and SEELE.
Shinji raised his own gun and pulled the trigger.
An AT Field erupted into existence before the bullet left the chamber. The round met the wall of solid light and then fell to the floor with a soft clang.
Shinji blinked. Rei had brought forth her AT Field without using any movement. She had used her thoughts alone.
Gendo smirked, a cold smile in the darkened walls of the prison.
Rei Ayanami herself stared ahead; eyes fixed on the gun in his hand. Her eyes were almost blank, washed over with the barest glint of who she had once been.
The programming… Shinji realized.
He had been wrong. Gendo didn't matter in the end. He hadn't come here for revenge. And for all his growing up these past few months, he had let the passions and vices of the young get to him one last time.
"You survived. I should have expected nothing less from the Abomination that wore her son's face. Kaji betrayed everyone, didn't he? What did you do? Make a deal with that traitor? What in the world could you offer him?" Gendo said, shaking his head in a mad laugh.
Shinji ignored his father.
Gendo scowled, cold gaze fixed on him through Rei's AT Field. The Director of Nerv was not fond of being ignored.
Shinji exhaled slowly. His own AT Field raised as Gendo eyed him. The madman gripped the gun tightly in his hand.
The boy stood across from the pair. The two AT Fields, Shinji's and Rei's, shining in the dark with Lilith watching from above.
"Rei. I made you a promise," he said firmly.
Rei was watching him. Her eyes fixed on his gun but flickering for the briefest of moments. Traveling from the weapon in his hand to his face before returning. Gendo's command ran deep.
Shinji put down the gun. He moved slowly, letting Rei watch as he placed it on the ground. And then he dropped the AT Field. He took a chance, a leap of faith.
Rei blinked in surprise at him. An act that brought the programming unawares.
"Red eyes, just like yours," Shinji said softly.
Rei tilted her head. It was true. He no longer wore the contact lenses that Mari had planted on him, a gift that had been another of SEELE's ploys. Now, his true eyes were open to the world. The eyes that he had returned with after witnessing the memories of the Broken Man.
"Do you hear it? The voices... the song… the song…" Rei said suddenly. Speaking for the first time since he had arrived.
Shinji listened carefully and he heard it. A humming gentle tune. So quiet and low that he was surprised when he tracked its source. Lilith herself. A song from the Second Angel.
"Yes," he answered truthfully.
Rei blinked at him, expression changing. She was slowly coming to life before his eyes.
"Ayanami…" Gendo gasped as the pale girl lowered her AT Field.
She stepped forward and when Gendo reached for her, she shrugged passed his grip.
"I hear them both… they sing to me. They want to help me. But I… I don't want them to… I don't want to do it," Rei said slowly, her voice dreamlike and pained. Her face shifted from confusion to agony.
The pale girl shuddered, breathing harshly.
"I was ordered to control them. To make them submit… Adam and Lilith. I don't think I can. They're so strong. I'm scared. I try to fight it, but it is inside me… it makes me move even when I don't want to," Rei said, tears reforming in her red eyes.
Gendo glared up at the crucified Lilith towering over them. He fumed silently.
"Ayanami!" the Director of Nerv barked, commanding his puppet to obey.
"Rei," Shinji said, calling to his friend.
The pale girl stood between Shinji and Gendo, lost and confused. The fate of all mankind was within her hands. It was a weight no one should bear.
Rei raised a hand to her head as if feeling for a wound. Her fingers ran along the back of her head, feeling for blood that was no longer there.
"It's gone… I can't bring it back… I try and try but there are gaps. Missing pieces of me," Rei breathed, quiet as a whisper.
"Your memories," Shinji said. He felt his own heart ache. He couldn't imagine the agony of losing your own memories and being aware of the fact. Of seeing the outline of missing pieces whilst never able to put them back.
"I knew you. I knew you for a long time. Didn't I… yes, I did," Rei said suddenly, hiccupping softly.
Shinji nodded, on the verge of tears himself.
The pale girl placed a hand to her throat and tears slid down her face. She was crying and he knew that she couldn't figure out why.
"It doesn't have to be this way. You don't have to be what they want. They don't decide. Not the Angels. Not Gendo. Don't let them change you," Shinji said.
"Ayanami! I created you for one reason. To bring her back! You will follow orders! Restore Yui Ikari to me!" Gendo shouted, brandishing the gun.
The man was growing red in the face. A child throwing a tantrum.
Shinji peered up at his father. That's what he's always been. A little man trying to make himself seem big. Selfish.
So close to the end, and Gendo's true colors were revealed. A schemer, a failure of a parent, a manipulator, and at the end of it all a self-indulgent madman.
The boy spoke to his father. "Yui Ikari is dead."
Gendo froze, taken aback for a moment. Gun shaking in his hand.
"You lie!" the Director of Nerv shouted.
Shinji shook his head. "I've seen the core of Eva Unit 01. I spent two months trapped inside. And Yui isn't there. She hasn't been for years."
The bombshell was dropped and Gendo flinched back. The man shook and his face fell nearly breaking into tears.
"Liar… you- you would say anything to deny-" Gendo Ikari stammered.
"Mother is dead. She's gone, and she won't come back," Shinji said. Whatever pain he had once felt at those words was long since passed. For he knew the truth about his mother. He knew the kind of person that she had been. Ironic, he knew Yui Ikari better than Gendo ever had.
"Enough of these tricks! Ayanami… I ordered you to bring her back!" Gendo shouted, his face red. The man slipped into harsh denial, a rebuttal to the truth so strong that it blinded him.
Rei winced, feeling the tug of her programming pull. Yet she remained where she was, resisting even now. She had watched the exchange between father and son, never knowing the whole picture.
"Look at him. He's not some master or a god. He's human. Weak. And he doesn't own you," Shinji said speaking to Rei again.
"… what am I without him? What am I without orders?" she asked.
"You're Rei Ayanami. You get to decide who that is," he answered.
Shinji offered her his hand. He kept an eye on Gendo watching as the older man fumed and then trembled in sheer disbelief at what was happening to his dream.
"I can help you. We can stop it. All of it. Adam, Lilith, and even him," he said looking to his monster of a father.
"… you promised to find me. You wanted to save me. Why?" Rei asked pleadingly. She looked to him for answers for she had so few. Memories danced across her face. Ghosts that haunted her from afar, distant and warm in their own way.
"Because I'm your friend," he answered.
She smiled at him. The muscles moved on instinct and she closed her eyes relishing in the feeling. So much had been taken from her, but not her smile.
"I tried to warn you... before... and you already knew. I remember," Rei said suddenly, her eyes shining in the dark. Memories flickered across her face and he saw the struggle within her as she clutched at what had once been.
Despite the pain, despite the sheer agony, Rei never lost her smile. She remembered him. Maybe not all, but enough. She clung to it, clung to the memories that her creator had tried to wash away.
"You promised that it wouldn't end this day... and then you promised to find me," Rei said.
"I did. I'm sorry I took so long," Shinji said. He wanted to smile, he wanted to cry. He felt so young and so old at that moment.
Rei stepped towards him and Gendo raised a weak hand after her.
"Ayanami… Ayanami, I order you to trigger Instrumentality," Gendo croaked, utterly heartbroken. He issued the command phrase one last time.
Rei twitched, her body being pulled to obey but she fought it and she won. The pale girl left Gendo.
She took Shinji's hand.
Gendo glared up at Lilith and found the Second Angel watching all three of them coolly from her prison above.
"NO!" the Director of Nerv cried.
Gendo glared at his son, gun held tightly in his remaining good hand.
"You will not deny me, boy!" the madman shouted, a dangerous zeal blazing from behind tinted glasses.
Gendo Ikari raised the gun and fired.
Shinji brought the AT Field up with a raise of his other hand. His eyes widened as he realized his mistake. Half a second. A single heartbeat where he was too slow.
The solid wall of light materialized from his palm, spreading out to cover him and his friend. The Shield emerged, covering himself in one heartbeat, and then Rei in the next, all within a single agonized moment.
But Gendo hadn't been aiming for him. That had been Shinji's mistake.
Rei stumbled forward. The pale girl fell on him, clinging to him as blood ran down her white shirt. The shield hadn't covered her fast enough.
Shinji couldn't breathe. He stood there frozen in time for a single second that stretched forever. He thought that he must have been dreaming, that he was still trapped within the Nightmare. That this was a false reality he could fight his way out of.
He was wrong. This was the real world. Inescapable. Unyielding. A cruel fate that cared nothing for his hopes and wants.
Shinji dropped the AT Field as Rei began to slip. He moved to catch her, cradling her in his arms and sinking to his knees.
Gendo tossed the gun aside. The man no longer had any need for it.
Shinji shook. Rei was bleeding into his arms, staining his shirt, staring ahead into his face.
"… I'm cold… I'm so cold," she whispered.
No… no… no. NO! NO! NO!
"Rei!" He cried.
She gasped, losing her breath and growing stiff.
"I've been here before. I've watched the dark come for me. I don't want to go back. Not again… not again," Rei whispered. The blood was sticking to his arms as he sobbed with the dying girl.
I can save her! He thought fiercely.
He reached into the power that had been shared with him. He reached past the fire that was Adam's Might and pressed further. He found the power of the Original Lilith and with it… the healing abilities.
Lilith rumbled above them. Shuddering in pain.
Rei winced in his arms as she bled out.
Shinji stopped. The power was at his fingertips but not yet grasped.
I… I can't… the blowback effect… it'll kill her faster than I could heal her, Shinji thought.
The realization struck him like a blow to the gut. He wanted to scream. He wanted to cry. There was nothing he could do. Why?! Why had Gendo done it?! It made no sense!
Rei put a hand to his face. Her fingers were cold.
"I don't want to go back… it's dark there. Cold. The nothingness. I don't want to go… I don't want to die again…" Rei whispered to him.
He held her close and sobbed openly. She looked at him with soft red eyes. He saw the panic and terror in there, the fear of death, the rekindled embers of who she had been slowly fading yet again.
Gendo roared, shouting at the top of his lungs to the imprisoned Angel looming over them all.
"I know you can understand me! Take her! Take her and craft my dream into reality! Lilith! Remake the world!" the madman cried.
Lilith watched the Director of Nerv with narrowed unblinking eyes.
The network was stirring again. A maelstrom that returned. Shinji felt them, the threads moving in a rapid collision.
He didn't care. It didn't matter. He stood and tried to carry Rei in his arms. He needed to get her to Ritsuko, to someone that could help. He wanted nothing more than to put a bullet between his father's eyes, but Rei was more important. She always had been.
Shinji gasped suddenly. Before he could act, before he could do anything, the girl in his arms moved.
Rei was pulled from his grasp. With surprising force, the pale girl slid from his arms and floated through the air itself. He tried to hold on, to pull her back.
Her body was wrenched away.
At that moment, everything changed. It was like the air was slowly being lit on fire, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up and an icy chill ran down the back of his spine. Fear, pure unadulterated fear wared with his concern for the pale girl.
Frozen in place by conflicting emotions, he felt an unseen force tugging on his body and even his clothes.
Mesmerized, he watched as the blood on his hands fled his body. Red droplets floated through the air trailing after the pale girl, a thin red convoy of blood that followed its source.
Like something out of a dream, the blood that had stained his clothes began to follow, lifting itself from the fabric and trailing after the pale girl hovering in mid-air. Every single drop.
Rei Ayanami's eyes closed and she drifted lifelessly towards the titan imprisoned in the chamber.
Lilith peered down at them, gigantic red eyes that appeared like slits through her faceplate, cold, narrow, dangerous, as the body of the girl was pulled to her.
"No…" Shinji whispered. He reached out like the Broken Man had done countless times, he reached for the Second Angel in her own tongue.
Don't. Please, don't.
Lilith didn't respond.
Rei's body came into contact with the Second Angel's torso. The girl vanished, absorbed into the Angel's flesh.
And with Rei Ayanami followed the Adam Sample. The First and Second Angels had been reunited, the forbidden union of Adam and Lilith. The path to Human Instrumentality had been opened.
Lilith! Hear me! Give her back! This isn't what she wants! Shinji pleaded through the network.
He felt power gathering inside the Second Angel. Adam and Lilith, together they shone like a mirror image of the big bang, cosmic forces that were beyond his frail comprehension.
Gendo raised his arms with the zeal of a religious prophet. The man beamed with a contentment that had been a lifetime in the making.
"My will be done! Yui… Yui… we will be together again," the madman exclaimed.
The shackles that had imprisoned a God-like being shattered in an ear-ringing roar. Lilith's skin grew and expanded. The Second Angel fell from the crucifix that had held her for over a decade.
Legs regenerated in seconds, pale limbs that sprouted from the ends of the cut and burned torso. The rebirthed limbs hit the ground with a harsh thud that shook the entire floor.
"Don't do this! Give her back!" Shinji shouted.
Gendo Ikari smiled as Lilith rose from her former prison, a nigh Immortal Giant towering over the mortals at her feet.
The titan that was the Second Angel loomed over the Ikari family. She was taller than an Evangelion and pale, littered with scars and faded wounds, leftovers from the tissue samples used to create the Evas. She wielded the powers of her brother combined with her own. Human Instrumentality was at her beck and call.
The Glow of Adam's Might shimmered throughout pale and moving skin, and what followed were shadows. A titan amid the dark and the light.
Grim and silent, Lilith raised a single hand, a massive pale contrast of whirling flesh. She brought it down with a hefty thud. She encircled Gendo Ikari within her grasp and pulled him from the ground.
Shinji watched horrified as the smile fell from Gendo's face and Lilith held the man within her grasp pulling him close.
Gendo's face lost all color as the Second Angel brought him inches from her faceplate, red eyes staring deep into his soul, cold dangerous things without pity.
"Yui," the man stammered in disbelief.
Lilith spoke in a voice that was not her own, cruel and unforgiving.
"You are not following orders."
The words came out harsh and guttural. Ancient and raspy, spoken aloud for mortal ears to hear and tremble before. Flesh that had whirled and contorted to form a mouth and vocal cords underneath the faceplate.
Screams filled the chamber as Lilith began to close her fist with Gendo still inside of it.
"One must dirty their hands… to truly get what they want... in this world," Lilith mocked.
The voice that emerged from her freshly formed lips was twisted and distorted by the rasps of one so old that she predated the Earth itself. A harsh mockery of the Director of Nerv's own words.
Bones cracked and the sounds reverberated through the chamber in sickening snaps. Blood emerged from Gendo's mouth as his ribs were crushed.
The mortal opened his mouth and cried out in agony.
On and on, the man screamed as blood and saliva slid down his face. Pain, pure pain beyond belief. Gendo's face turned red, his glasses shattered, and he screamed as his internal organs were crushed. The life squeezed from him slowly.
All the while, Lilith held him inches from her face with cold red eyes never blinking. Eyes filled with hate.
Shadows crawled forth from her skin and enveloped Gendo Ikari. Power flowed, and the sorcery worked its way into the man's body. The former Director of Nerv lay trapped in the thin line between life and death. Held at the edge. The release of death denied to him.
"Look at what you made me do," Lilith mocked one final time, a slow rasp that filled the chambers.
With a final thud, she brought Gendo to the floor and left him there. A gurgling, rasping, wreck of a human being with utterly destroyed ribs, lungs, and bone. Gendo lay with eyes wide and pleading for death as Lilith released him to suffer, to breathe out in agony unable to die in his ruined body.
"Yui… Yui…" the man croaked with blood-stained lips. Rejected.
Shinji watched in disbelief and horror, at the ruins of what had been his father. Hideous and broken, inside and out.
He reached out one last time. "Lilith… please…" Shinji pleaded.
Lilith spared him a single glance, looming over him with cold indifference, before turning away.
Wings sprouted from her back, dark and featherless things.
Lilith rose from the grounds and without warning she flew. The titanic being rose from the chamber and crashed through the ceiling as if it were made of paper, the movement was so fast and powerful to be akin to a sonic boom.
Shinji yelled and was flung back from the takeoff. The air itself slammed into him from her departure.
The ceilings above him broke before Lilith's flight, again and again. The Second Angel was free from her prison at long last, rising from the pit as she tore Nerv itself asunder. Shinji stumbled to his feet in the ruins of the prison and brought an AT Field up. Debris fell from above showering him in dust and shattered concrete.
"We have to go!" Misato shouted.
She pulled her gun free of its holster and planted a firm hand on Ritsuko's shoulder.
Already, the sounds of footsteps and gunfire reverberated throughout the floor. They had to abandon their workstation and run.
Ritsuko's eyes stayed glued to the laptop and the multiple external displays, rapidly analyzing the available data and relaying information to Asuka and her Eva. The scientist was doing the work of an entire team.
"Misato? Are you okay?" Asuka's voice came over their comms. She sounded exhausted, panting heavily, carrying a tone riddled with concern.
"We'll be fine," Ritsuko answered her quickly.
"We have to leave. I'm sorry… do your best. We'll find you when this is over," Misato answered, her lips pursed. Her heart ached at the thought of Asuka all alone with no one but Unit 01 for company. A silent ally of an uncertain nature.
Before she could say anything further, the door behind them sounded off. Someone was trying to get in.
Ritsuko flinched and Misato whirled with her gun raised.
The door was kicked open and a single JSSDF soldier came rushing in.
Misato fired her gun three times.
The bullets slammed into the soldier's vest and he stumbled back with a grunt, trying to raise his rifle.
Misato narrowed her eyes, pulled Ritsuko from her chair, and fired two more shots. The bullets took the man in the throat, he gagged, and the rifle went off in his hands amid his death throes.
FLAK. FLAK. FLAK.
The automatic rifle fired wildly, bullets hit the walls of their makeshift command center and Ritsuko flinched, gasping audibly as her laptop was hit. Sparks flew and the external monitors went dark.
Misato panted. Barely believing what had happened. Kaji had used to take her to a shooting range back in their college days, and then her basic defense training at Nerv had kicked in. Combined, these two experiences had saved their lives.
I just killed someone.
She shook her head. This was war, a war that Gendo Ikari had started, and they had no time for this.
"Misato! Misato!" Asuka was shrieking into the comm.
"We're okay," she said into the comm.
Ritsuko studied the destroyed laptop, running her hands over the electronics. The laptop had been a control system, the actual computing had been done by Nerv's supercomputers. The Magi… if they could find another way to access it safely, without the JSSDF's interference, then they could still help Asuka and Unit 01.
"We have to leave. I'm sorry, just… keep fighting. Stay alive," Misato said in the comm.
She reloaded her gun as Ritsuko unholstered her own. They had to go. It wasn't safe here anymore.
"… you too. Both of you. Stay alive," Asuka breathed into her comm. There was an edge in the teenager's voice. And there was strength there too. The girl bore it well, the insanity that was their current war. A prodigy.
Misato closed their comm channel.
Together, Ritsuko and Misato stepped over the soldier's corpse and once more entered the halls outside. It was like stepping out into another world. The fighting had reached this level, and gunfire rang seemingly all around them.
Lights were beginning to go out. They could hear footsteps in between the flak of automatic bullets firing. They didn't know which force they belonged to. Nerv or the JSSDF?
"We have to go lower. Get me to another computer. Asuka and 01 are still out there," Ritsuko whispered as the two stalked.
Misato nodded, noticing that the gun in her friend's hand shook slightly. Ritsuko wasn't used to it, the violence on a personal level. Misato admitted that she wasn't entirely either, but together they had to make it work.
"How do we stop the fighting?" Misato whispered as they moved carefully and quietly.
"… the plan was to stop Gendo and then wait for-" Ritsuko began to whisper.
The former chief scientist of Nerv never got to finish.
A squad of JSSDF soldiers emerged onto the scene. Four men in military gear, pressing onward slowly. The point man spotted them and turned his rifle on them.
Misato fired first, almost too late. The bullets struck the point man in the chest and he grunted as the rounds failed to penetrate.
Ritsuko turned and ran back the way they had come, Misato following after her. She fired her gun backward as they ran and turned the corner.
A hail of automatic gunfire narrowly missed them. Holes appeared in the wall they had been facing a heartbeat ago.
"High Priority Targets!" a voice cried.
The two women ran as fast as they could. Four soldiers giving chase. They turned and turned in the maze of hallways in the underground levels of Nerv. An open space against automatic rifles was a death sentence.
Misato began reloading her gun, falling behind as Ritsuko sprinted onward her eyes wide and panicked.
Ritsuko slammed into a pair of double doors and Misato followed after. They didn't know where they were going anymore, they just had to put distance between themselves and the soldiers.
Then… everything changed.
There was a rumbling from below. And the world began to shake.
"Ritsuko?!" Misato shouted. She had lost sight of her friend.
The walls shook and then cracked. The damage spread like a living thing, an ever-growing spider web of fissures and tears that ran across the floors, walls, and ceiling. The lights flickered back and forth; gunshots fired forming an ongoing chorus of bangs.
What in the-
The world vanished in a cloud of violent upheaval. She was thrown into the air as the ground itself seemed to shift, rising upward as debris and darkness reigned. It was like a bomb going off somewhere nearby. In the last moment of consciousness, Misato had time to register the shift in gravity before being overwhelmed.
The Second Angel tore through entire floors of Nerv destroying all in her path. Concrete and steel, human corpses, living soldiers, all of them were torn apart in her flight. Dark featherless wings, shining with the light of her brother, propelled her massive figure up.
On and on, Lilith rose. Her skin nigh-invulnerable and healed after decades of decay. She tore the compound asunder from within. Breaking free and into the skies above.
Asuka slashed with her stolen spear, swinging the grey metal back and forth. She put distance between the pack of MP Evas reaching for her. They feared the spear just as much as she did.
Unit 02 stood tall despite its many wounds. Asuka continued the fight, the Awakened Unit 01 by her side, even without Ritsuko and Misato guiding her.
Then the earth started to rumble. It shook the world and brought all of the Evangelions stumbling on unsteady grounds.
The Awakened Unit 01 whirled, its head snapping to the compound of Nerv a split second before everything changed.
Another bomb- Asuka barely had time to think. The earth shook a second time and the air stilled.
The explosion rang long and loud. It brought clouds of dust and debris up and into the sky before falling back down to rain upon the surface.
Asuka winced, wobbling on shaky legs before she saw it.
It stole the presence from the world. Her, the MP Evas, and the Awakened Unit 01, all of them froze at the sight above.
An Angel hovered far into the sky. A lone figure overlooking over the carnage and mayhem that had been the assault on Nerv.
Asuka stared at it in disbelief. At the sheer destruction that she had witnessed. The Angel had risen from inside of Nerv. She could see the compound, a fortress that had withstood the JSSDF and the MP Evas, torn open from within. Nerv lay exposed to the world, with gaping holes that revealed the underground levels, a crumbling ruin of infrastructure.
What in the world is that?!
The Angel itself was tall. Taller and bigger than any she had ever seen. It had pale white skin and a faceplate, with dark featherless wings. Humanoid, with distinctly feminine features, its veins throbbed and shined with a glow. Expanding… the newcomer was growing in size. Becoming large enough to dwarf even an Evangelion.
The Angel basked in the sun. It spread its hands and stretched its long limbs, letting the daylight run across its body. Then it stirred, moving its head to look below directly at all of the Evangelion Units…
An undisclosed location.
The gathered SEELE holograms audibly gasped at the footage.
Keel himself felt his blood grow cold. Dr. Page beside him involuntarily took a step back.
Gendo Ikari… that fool… he released the Second Angel?! And she… Lilith has been merged with her brother. Adam and Lilith have been reunited!
That had been the focal point for both their plans. Keel and Gendo. The same idea twisted for different goals. Bind Lilith, control her and her brother. Make them both submit and then trigger an Instrumentality event to bring forth their dreams and make them into reality.
To see Lilith rise herself, without a trigger, without any control whatsoever… it brought home the depths of Gendo's madness. The Director of Nerv had played with powers that he held no respect for and had never understood.
"Our time has come," Keel said taking command. He brought order to the panic and uncertainty of his fellow SEELE members. The elderly man got over his shock and surprise within a single heartbeat, moving to take control of the situation.
"… yes. The Human Instrumentality Project continues," a voice called from one of the holograms.
It became a chant. SEELE's mantra.
To the MP Evas, Keel spoke.
"Go to her. Bind Lilith. Use the replica Spears of Longinus. Bring forth our Instrumentality."
The Surface of the Geofront.
The Broken Man watched Lilith hovering above. He watched through the living eyes of Unit 01 and felt bitterness and emptiness take hold of him. It was a familiar weight, an old friend that he had become quite accustomed to meeting. Just as he had grown accustomed to facing death.
Standing there, using his body at long last, he felt it. The maelstrom in the Angel network had returned. The threads whirled and wrapped around the two beings above. Primal forces that converged into one point.
Adam and Lilith had merged. Together, they wore Lilith's face and body… but Adam was there too. The Broken Man felt it. He sensed their combined presence.
It was overwhelming. Like bearing witness to the big bang. Cosmic entities that were orders of magnitude more complex, powerful, and mysterious than all of Adam's Children combined.
The MP Evas shrieked. Loud shrill things that escaped their unnatural throats.
Asuka and Unit 02 flinched, spear raised.
The MP Evas ignored her and him. They rose, leaping into the air and taking flight with their artificial wings. SEELE's automatons soared above and came for Lilith, their spears raised.
Boy… what went wrong… it wasn't supposed to be this way.
The Awakened Unit 01 stood solemn and silent. Slouched and head downcast.
Overhead, Lilith screamed. An ear-ringing sound that erupted into existence, it rippled creating a sonic boom on its own and overshadowed the pathetic shrieks of the MP Evas.
Lilith peered down at SEELE's monsters. Cold intelligent piercing eyes that were unmoved by the plans of men.
With a single furious wave of her hand, a flash of the combined might of the First and Second Angels, Lilith brought forth the unseen forces. Gravity itself warped and slammed into the flock of white dragons.
The impact was staggering to behold. Flesh was torn from bones, limbs were bent, muscles were crushed, teeth were ripped out… weaponized gravity. The MP Evas were flung back. They fell from the sky like a meteor shower, a collection of broken toys tossed aside like the little trinkets they were. SEELE had been rejected.
Lilith snarled above, a living God gazing down on the schemes of man with contempt. Gendo or Keel, it made no difference. Both would be denied this day.
With another wave of her hand, Lilith sent the weaponized gravity for Evangelion Units 01 and 02.
The Broken Man numbly brought up an AT Field just as Asuka did the same.
The unseen forces collided with them. Asuka's shield shattered like a wall of glass, the lights utterly obliterated.
Asuka screamed over the comm. Armor plating was ripped from her Eva's flesh, muscles bent and tore, bones cracked along Unit 02, and the red titan was flung back far into the distance.
Eva Unit 02 and its pilot disappeared in a whirl of wind. The Broken Man reached a hand for her, but she was already gone.
The Awakened Unit 01 stood its ground, wobbling from the blow but held his vigil before the might of the newly risen God.
His AT Field shimmered, flickering in and out of existence.
Above, the Second Angel's pale skin expanded further, twisting and stretching, as another form began to emerge. The newcomer protruded from Lilith's own torso, sprouting forth in seconds.
Adam. A Giant of Light.
The First Angel emerged headfirst from the torso of his sister. Then a single fully-grown arm, followed by another.
A hybrid. Lilith and Adam bound together by one torso, two upper bodies protruding from the same waist. Adam had been reborn from the flesh of his sister.
Thunderous laughter boomed out above. It made mortal ears bleed. Lilith seethed, growling in a dangerous primal tone, and Adam laughed deeply. The two voices mixed audibly creating an eerie chorus of dread that filled the world. A mad song played from two mouths bound in one body.
Adam raised his arms. Lilith followed suit. Four hands were outstretched. Together, they drew their strength as one. The sky rippled, changing color as power gathered. Winds blew and the heavens darkened into a deep shade of red. This was no instrumentality, no dream made real for Gendo or Keel… this was death. A recreation of the Second Impact deadlier and more powerful than ever before.
"They hurt her… they hurt me… they hurt us!" Lilith cried, enraged beyond belief.
"THEY TOOK IT AWAY. THEY STOLE IT FROM HER." Adam spoke.
Finally, as one, Adam and Lilith spoke. Voices moving simultaneously.
"THEY WILL SUFFER FOR THEIR SINS. BURN THEM… BURN THEM ALL…"
The Broken Man stood sorrowful and silent at it all. The last man standing in the chaos of the previous battle. Alone. Always so very alone. Damned once again to be the last… the last and the first.
It had all started with him. It would all end with him.
Rei, the Broken Man thought.
Tears fell from his eyes. Unit 01 cried with him. The Evangelion he had taken years ago wept openly.
Rei was gone. She had been taken by Lilith and Adam. Interweaved into the collective being that was Lilith. And now merged again with Adam to create the Hybrid. He knew it before he sensed it. He heard the pain in Lilith's snarls. He heard the mocking acknowledgment in Adam's laughter.
Rei's suffering, her agony of what had been done to her had been taken by the Second Angel. Adam used it as fuel for his hatred. That hatred spread to Lilith, or had it been hers too? He couldn't say. He only knew that in this world… in this timeline… his teacher was dead and gone.
The Woman in the Dark wasn't here. And in her place was a new horror crafted by the suffering of an abused girl.
The Broken Man closed his eyes tight. He remembered the soft hands upon his own, the bed he had shared with the mother of his daughter. The warm pair of eyes he would often wake up to. He remembered a young girl with her mother's eyes and her father's hair.
"I was never going to see them again… never… all I could do was make a world where they could have lived. A dream that I would never take part in," the Broken Man whispered. A lone breath in the Armageddon.
He felt the familiar weight of the world on his shoulders. He had lived through this before, he had seen what 'the end' looked like. In his world, his wife had stopped it. Only it hadn't been enough. His world had been doomed since the day of the Original Third Impact.
The Broken Man knew what he had to do. It was the hardest thing he would ever do. A responsibility that he bore as the creator of this world. A duty that was his and his alone.
A duty to the greater good. A mission to save the world. It tasted empty and hollow. Ashes in his mouth. For he had not braved the rivers of time for it. The lives of all mankind were a poor substitute for a dream where his wife could have lived. What is duty to a woman's love? To a daughter's smile?
The Broken Man opened his eyes. The Spear of Longinus held firmly within his grasp.
He gathered his strength. Wings of Light emerged on Unit 01's back. And dark shadows rippled forth to join the light. The Broken Man reached for both pieces inside of him. The Original Adam and Lilith. He knew it may very well not be enough.
Overhead, the Adam-Lilith Hybrid roared as its skin burned visibly.
The threads among the Angel network flared. Burning bright to those who could see it. The invisible system went haywire. The Blowback effect rained down upon the two images of Adam and Lilith. The Hybrid and the Broken Man.
"ABOMINATION!" The Hybrid shrieked. An inhuman agonized yell. A pain that was so vast it was foreign to a nigh immortal being.
The God of Death above faltered. The gathered power slid from the Hybrid's grasp. The End of Days had been put on hold.
The Broken Man moved faster than the speed of sound. A sonic boom erupted as the aftershock washed over the battered remains of the surface. He flew, soaring above with the Spear of Longinus in hand wielding a speed that surpassed the MP Evas and Adam's Children. Flesh burned and blackened along the Awakened Eva Unit 01… the blowback raging on.
The Broken Man ignored the pain. Another old friend. He reached out and tugged, pulling on an invisible thread, the mark he had placed on Adam so long ago during the Over the Rainbow incident.
Adam cried out. The Giant of Light slumped down, brought low by the surge in blowback that intensified. The Hybrid itself shook nearly falling from the sky, held aloft by Lilith's strength and rage alone.
The Broken Man closed in on them. Drawing closer and closer to the merged First and Second Angels. They were massive, the Awakened Eva Unit 01 small enough to fit in the palm of the new God's hand.
Lilith glared at him. Harsh unforgiving eyes.
I am so sorry. I wanted to save you… I failed again. In every world, every life, it never mattered what I wanted, the Broken Man thought.
Adam roared surging back to life and adding his might to his sister. Together, the Hybrid distorted gravity once again. Spatial distortions shimmered all around them in the sky.
The unseen force slashed out, coming for the Broken Man and visibly warped the space around it.
The Broken Man slowed, brought the Spear of Longinus up, and slashed. The red blade of the spear tip collided with the weaponized gravity and dispelled it. The alien metal had been forged by the First Ancestral Race. The creators of the Angels. The weapon was like no other in the known universe.
Lilith shrieked taking flight once more. The Hybrid rose higher and higher, racing to escape Earth's gravity well and reach for outer space. Lilith's skin burned along with her brother's as the blowback raged.
The Broken Man drew nearer still, giving chase with a speed that rivaled the Hybrid.
Adam reached for their foe with a massive hand, large enough to encompass an Evangelion. Moving to encircle the Awakened Unit 01 within its palm and crush it.
The Broken Man brought forth the Might of Adam calling for strength. He whirled, spinning in mid-air, the Spear of Longinus held high. The red metal cut through the First Angel's flesh and the fist disappeared in a misty cloud of blood, bone, and tissue.
The two figures, the Awakened Unit 01 and the Hybrid reached higher and higher into the atmosphere. They were beginning to escape Earth's gravity well. Space itself was visible, at the edge of their reach.
Lilith cried out in frustration and reached for her brother's power adding it to her own. She unleashed the unseen forces once more, weaponized gravity. Trying to put distance between her and the Abomination from another timeline.
The unseen force rushed out. Spacial distortions rippling in its wake. Reality seemed to twist and turn.
The Broken Man reached within himself and called upon the shadows. He brought forth the power of his teacher, the Woman in the Dark, for her speed.
He swerved with Angelic versatility, maneuvering with a capability that aircraft could not match, and dodged the weaponized gravity.
Adam roared, the eyes of the Giant glowing bright red and energy gathered. The First Angel could use all of the abilities of his children. A beam erupted into existence, a mirror image of Zeruel's blast, and came racing for the Awakened Eva Unit 01.
Once again, the Broken Man swerved in-mid air dodging the attack. The Woman in the Dark's speed allowed him a grace that Adam lacked.
The Broken Man grasped the Spear of Longinus tight. Racing for the enemy of Mankind.
They would come to blows. There was no escape for any of them.
Adam and Lilith braced themselves. The Hybrid, weakened and battered from the blowback effect, missing a hand, and newly born, gathered all its strength. They shined like a star, radiating cosmic energies that dwarfed the weapons of man. A primal force that surpassed the incomplete Abomination racing towards them.
The Broken Man raced to battle the new God. He was the only one who could stand before this foe. The pieces of the First and Second Angels flared up inside him as he used everything that he had. He did not know if he could win. If he would even survive this battle. He doubted it. And he pushed forward anyway.
His dream was dead and gone, this battle was all that he had left.
Goodbye… Rei… Shinji… Akane… the old man thought. He only wished that he had had more time.
They clashed. David and Goliath come again. The powers of the Original Adam and Lilith collided with those of the new timeline. The world and the heavens above shook, reality distorted upon their meeting.
A bright light illuminated the sky. Shockwaves rippled through the upper atmosphere visible from space.
The former Prison of Lilith.
Shinji Ikari grunted from the effort. An AT Field stood between him and the cluster of debris over his head. Chunks of concrete and steel.
He had been trapped for several minutes. Or had it been hours? He couldn't tell time very well in the ruins of Lilith's prison. There was little light, with only the streaks of the sky above bleeding into the former pit. Only the sky above seemed to have gone out. There had been a bright flash... and then... nothing.
The boy knelt in near darkness with several tons of material hovering over his head threatening to crush him.
Need to act fast, he thought.
Shinji raised his free hand and brought up a second AT Field. The shimmering wall of light came to life, and debris was pushed aside clearing a path for him to escape.
The boy wheezed. He slowly edged himself out of the pile of wreckage allowing the debris above him to slide to the floor with heavy harsh thuds. Once he was free, he stood panting with only the light of his two shields to guide him.
Lilith's prison had been destroyed. Torn open from within alongside the rest of Nerv. The enormous chamber was now a landfill of ruined infrastructure. Once big and spacious, the platform was littered with debris that piled on itself creating small mounds of wreckage and an uneven floor.
I need… I need to regroup. Find Ritsuko and Misato. The Old Man… my Other needs help. Rei… oh, Rei… he thought.
He nearly sank to his knees in despair again. No, he wasn't allowed to fall apart. Not anymore.
Shinji looked around wondering what had happened to his father and then shook his head. Gendo Ikari didn't matter anymore.
He closed his eyes and reached out.
Old man. Can you hear me? Lilith is free. Adam and Lilith. And Rei… she was taken. I'm sorry. I… it's all my fault.
He waited, panting.
Silence was his answer.
Shinji called out for his Other again and again. Reaching out for the man who had been a part of his life for nearly as long as he could remember. He was met with no response.
The boy was on his own.
"Need to find a way out," Shinji whispered aloud. Perhaps he could find the elevator again, and then try to make it back to the surface. What about the fighting? Was the JSSDF still trying to take Nerv? Even after all that had happened, what were his chances of sneaking past them a second time?
Too many questions and what-ifs. He needed to move.
Shinji took a deep breath, bracing himself. He let one of his AT Fields drop. He only needed one to light the way for him.
He was about to take off in search of a way out when he heard something. He froze… that had been a footstep.
Shinji was about to drop his remaining AT Field when suddenly a silenced bang rang out and a bullet slammed into his shield. The bullet had come for his head.
The 14-year-old boy flinched and stepped back; shield raised.
Silenced gunfire rattled forth. A hail of impacts splashed across his AT Field. Bullets danced upon his shield unable to pierce it.
Shinji made a risky play. He whirled back and dropped the AT Field, plunging the entire chamber into near darkness once again. He hid behind a mound of clustered debris.
The silence carried and he felt his heart beating faster and faster. He was too afraid to breathe. He gulped worried he was making too much noise. He crouched behind his cover in the dark. Hoping beyond hope that he could sneak away.
He didn't have time for this.
Distant barely audible sounds breezed nearby. So low that he couldn't make it out.
Chatter? They're using a comm system to talk.
Shinji slowly began to move. He needed to sneak away. There had to be something he could do. Where had he dropped his gun? God… he didn't want to use it.
An object landed nearby with a thud.
A hissing sound emerged into the chamber. Cloudy gas began to appear, filling the ruins of Lilith's prison.
Shinji's red eyes widened in the dark. Gas! He was being drugged.
He needed to move.
More objects landed nearby with audible thuds. Gas canisters unloaded their payloads and filled the darkened chamber stealing his breathable air.
Shinji gagged, trying to hold his breath. Where could he go? He could barely see in the dark let alone the gas?!
He tried to call forth the healing powers that had been shared with him. They came slowly and reluctantly. He was weakened… how?
He coughed. He couldn't help it.
Cursing, he tried to move in the dark. He tried to slip away and hide. He knew it was useless.
The boy fell to his knees struggling to move. He couldn't resist, the healing wasn't working properly.
Shinji Ikari gasped, trying to crawl and hide below the wreckage. He pleaded with his body to keep moving. He needed to fix things. He needed to make it right. Rei… Rei!
I have to save her! I have to save everyone!
The drugs were affecting him. Footsteps approached and he looked up to see a lone soldier standing over a mound of debris. The man was clad in black military gear without insignia, the outfit making him blend in seamlessly with the shadows. What gave him away were the gas mask and night vision goggles.
No. Not the JSSDF… SEELE… SEELE! Shinji thought.
He tried to raise the shield one last time. He collapsed fighting every step of the way to hold onto his consciousness until he knew no more. He disappeared into the dark not knowing if he would ever wake up again.
"Target is down," the mercenary said calmly. The man spoke into the comm just as his backup emerged from around the corner of the debris and laid another pair of eyes on the boy.
The so-called 'Black ops'. Classified and with a mission of their own. Or so they had claimed. The cover given to them by the General had allowed the men to be deployed alongside the JSSDF. All under the guise of assisting the assault on Nerv. SEELE's reach extended far indeed.
SEELE's mercenary raised a silenced pistol prepared to put five bullets into the boy's head. The Freak could be 'unpredictable' as their recent briefings had revealed.
"Hold fire," the squad leader said into the comm suddenly.
The soldiers stood over the collapsed figure of Shinji Ikari as the squad leader himself emerged onto the scene. He had a finger pressed to the side of his helmet, listening to his private comm channel.
"There's been a change in plans. Keel wants the boy alive."
The squad leader listened to his comm briefly.
"What of the Director of Nerv?" the man asked his men.
"Over here, sir," one of the mercenaries answered.
The squad turned, lifted their night vision goggles, and shined a light on the figure lying in the dark.
Gendo Ikari lay where he had been left. He was broken in body and mind. Crushed limbs and collapsed lungs, with a shattered rib cage. Untold amounts of internal organ damage. Yet not a single shred of debris had touched the former Director of Nerv. As if the man had been protected, his suffering ensured. Not allowed to die yet.
"What is his status?" Keel asked over the comm.
The squad leader inspected the withered husk of a man on the floor. Gendo's blood-stained eyes shifted, turning ever so slightly to the figure standing over him.
"… kill… me," Gendo tried to wheeze. Little more than a whisper. Unable to move at all. A corpse in the making. The words came out slurred and almost non-existent.
"He's dying. Looks like the Second Angel had her way with him. He's not long for this world," the squad leader reported in.
"Leave him. The mission has changed. We want the boy," Keel said over the comm.
"Sir," the squad leader confirmed.
"We have prepared an extraction for you. Keep the boy sedated. I will tolerate no more surprises," Keel ordered.
The mercenaries did as they were instructed. They gathered the unconscious and drugged-out boy and took him with them. Shinji Ikari was taken captive by SEELE.
Gendo Ikari watched from the dark as the group disappeared and left him in the ruins of the prison. He tried to cry out. To shout and beg for death. No words escaped his lips.
Lilith's sorcery flowed invisibly through his veins. It kept him alive and left him to suffer in the dark. Alone.
Asuka opened her eyes slowly. Her entire body stung, and she realized that she was laying down.
With a groan, she rose to her feet and was surprised when she felt the blood on her face. She would have gasped but lacked the energy. The emergency light of her Entry Plug had been re-activated, and in the dim red light, she could see the wounds on her head in the reflection of her display.
She wobbled and nearly fell again.
Unit 01… Misato… Shinji… Ritsuko… Rei... she thought. What had happened to all of them?
The Angel… where had that Angel come from?
She braced herself on the controls of her Entry Plug. Her display flickered to life at her touch and she saw the power cable had been destroyed.
Shit! Not again! Asuka thought.
Whatever had hit her… some unseen force… it had been one hell of a strike. Her Eva had suffered massive damage, stripped of portions of the plate armor, and left with marred bones and muscle.
Asuka felt the phantom sensations finally hit her and nearly collapsed for a second time.
She steadied herself, hissing from the pain that traveled her body. Her leg was broken… no, not her leg. The Eva's. Unit 02's leg was bent and twisted in an unnatural position.
The helmet and faceplate were cracked. Her Eva was bleeding from the eyes.
She was running on emergency power again.
"Misato…" Asuka said into the comm. She was met with no response. She tried again and again. Silence was her answer.
Grunting, Asuka turned her Eva's head and watched the display.
It looked like the aftermath of a thermonuclear warhead. Clouds of dust and debris. The sky was grey with streaks of faded red. As if the heavens themselves were wounded.
Asuka tried to rise, to get her Eva up and running again.
Something landed beside her and slammed her Eva into the ground. Unit 02 went face-first into the ground and Asuka screamed. The German girl toppled over and fell. She coughed as the blood slid down her face.
Another figure landed nearby and added its weight to her.
Asuka screamed again. Two figures had pinned her. She breathed heavy labored breaths and tried to fight, to get up and reach for a weapon. Unit 02 could barely kneel in its present state, the wounds that littered its frame magnified by the figures standing on top of it.
A third figure landed in front of her. The two that had pinned her, moved to take Unit 02 by the arms.
"Ughhh." Asuka hissed, fighting back tears as she lay powerless to stop them. She was hurt… her head wasn't right. Unit 02 was too wounded to fight back.
A claw-like hand grabbed her Eva by the head and yanked it up, lifting Unit 02 into a sitting position on its broken knees. Asuka blinked back her tears and looked up to her display.
Three MP Evas were standing over her. More of the white titans emerged. They landed nearby and lumbered towards her and her Eva. They looked like undead nightmares. Bone was visible, flesh and muscle had been torn from their bodies, and several were missing teeth.
One MP Eva had lost its entire mouth. Another creature's head was loosely hanging onto its body with the barest thread of flesh.
SEELE's automatons were repairing themselves. Asuka saw the horror before her eyes, the flesh was stitching itself back. Muscle was re-growing into the empty frame of their bodies. Bone was expanding and patching itself back.
The German girl gave them the finger. Her Eva tried to respond in kind, but the monsters on either side of her held the Eva's arms back.
Asuka wheezed. Is this the end?
The thought frightened her. It was strange. Throughout the entire Angel War, she never seriously contemplated death. It had always seemed a fate for other people. She had been a child; she saw that now. She felt the fear creep down her spine and felt shame for it.
Her head was released and the MP Eva in front of her turned. The two on either side of her hauled her Eva up. Unit 02 dangled from their grasp on useless broken legs.
That was the difference between Nerv and SEELE's Evangelion Units. SEELE's abominations, sins against nature itself, healed at rapid rates. Despite their many wounds, they were incredibly difficult to kill. The monsters had already begun to put themselves back together in spite of the new God's wrath.
Asuka trembled as they started to move. The remaining MP Evas lumbered forward as one cohesive unit. Eva Unit 02 lay trapped in their embrace, a prisoner.
The MP Evas spread their wings. Those that still had them took the lead, those too wounded to fly clung to their siblings.
Asuka felt the shift in gravity as the MP Evas rose into the sky. She hiccupped, sniffling, and then refused the tears that threatened her eyes.
The power went out completely and the display died. She was left with nothing but the emergency light once again. Taken prisoner by a faction she knew nothing about.
Asuka Langley Sohryu glared ahead. She stood wounded and weary, lost in the hands of a foreign enemy.
Gendo Ikari was rejected.
Keel Lorenz was rejected.
Rei is gone. A new 'God' was born. A God of Death.
Young Shinji and Asuka have been taken captive by SEELE.
The Broken Man and the Adam-Lilith Hybrid are missing.
One hell of a chapter, eh? We're playing around with so many characters and factions. It was a tough decision, but that's why I had to split Wrath into 3 parts. I needed to give everything the pacing and emotional weight it deserved.
What did you think of Gendo's fate? Lilith has been pissed since chapter 42! You'll notice that she threw Gendo's words back at him? The words he told Rei II.
I know readers may be surprised that this isn't the end of the story. There is more. But I promise there is a reason for it all. This isn't just padding, there are more threads and plot points that need to be handled. We haven't seen Kaji or Mari in a while, have we?
Thanks for Reading and please Review!
Chapter 49: "Aftershocks" coming soon.