This is a tale of fiction.

Any similarities to other such tales, or even to reality, are purely coincidental...

All characters and events and themes are doubtlessly unrelated to those that occur in fiction or otherwise...

Only those who agree to this statement are allowed to proceed. Do you understand?

...I see...

This is a world where mankind seeks to dominate others, even though man cannot control himself. It is a world of distortion and tragedy.

There are those who are wish to reform the world, or at the very least, themselves...such are known as 'fools'.

But perhaps it takes a fool to succeed where the wise have failed.

Thou, fool...now it's time for you to step forward, and face the tragedy that is man...

xxxx

/Saturday: June 6, 2015/

On a rail line connecting to Tokyo-3, a boy of fourteen - straddling the threshold of childhood and adulthood - tried to ignore the words passing through the car.

"-another outbreak of Angel Syndrome?"

"Those poor people..."

"-what are the authorities doing? Why aren't-?"

"I heard they're finally going to deploy NERV soon..."

NERV. A word that he was tired of.

Briefly, the young boy looked at his student ID, freshly issued for his transfer to Hakone Academy. A rather unassuming portrait of a brown-haired boy with solemn blue eyes looked back at him.

Name: SHINJI IKARI
Birthday: June 6, 2001
Height: 144 cm (5'1")
Blood Type: A

But, more importantly, there was the letter - redacted from beginning to end - that merely had a single word written over it with a thick black marker.

COME

What a familiar feeling that word evoked. So familiar that it made him want to scream. But that would have been unseemly, to do in public.

And so Shinji Ikari simply waited for the ride to come to an end.

sssh

And end it would.

sssh

Though not in the way he anticipated.

SSSH

It was that sound of static, that finally made him look at the world around him. Expected colors had washed away to a faded gray, the normal sounds of human chatter and railway clatter muted to a whisper. Yet, looking down at his hands, he was the sole exception. What's going on?

SSSH

The static was sharp, and sudden. At the end of the car, stepping out of a void, was something monstrous, inhuman in way that mocked human characteristics: arms that were just a touch too long, shoulders just a touch too wide, vicious claws and uniform skin of dark green; ribs surrounded a heart of bloody crystal, glowing with a devilish aura; yet, most unnerving was that avian mask, with blank and emotionless eyes. What? The monster raised a hand, extending a single finger. What is that thing? The finger brushed against the neck of an older gentleman, who seemed rather unassuming. What's going on?! That gentleman was suddenly consumed with light and shadow, baring a pained grimace. Through the murky soup of whispery gray, he went berserk among the other passengers.

Faded remnants of shock and fear and agony filtered through his ears, yet he couldn't take his eyes off of the monster. What's happening?!

The creature looked towards him...and narrowed its eyes. There was a sense of purpose, of intent, of a willingness to kill. It took a step a forward...

...and Shinji Ikari screamed.

xxxx

Elsewhere, at the same precise instant, in a lab deep underground...a man with a distinctive beard and orange sunglasses frowned. "Hmm." The monitor on his desk was flashing rather familiar words:

PATTERN BLUE DETECTED

However, alongside were other words that were familiar, yet far, far rarer:

EVANGELION ACTIVATION DETECTED

"...well, looks like the Third Child ascended earlier than anticipated." With a frustrated sigh, he picked up his cell phone and dialed a particular number. "Katsuragi, this is Commander Ikari...yes, the MAGI have detected a Pattern Blue and an Evangelion. You might want to get to the station quickly...and I'd advise having medical personnel on standby."

xxxx

Elsewhere, atop a radio tower overlooking Tokyo-3, a blue-haired girl with red eyes stared quietly towards the horizon...towards the rail car, advancing toward the city of Tokyo-3. Even from here, she could see flashes of red beginning to paint the inside of the train's windows, a mere hint of the massacre that was occurring...and one that was all too typical of this particular day and age. But then again, such was the nature of this world, where man was born from blood, and often met his end by blood.

Perhaps...no. She did not dare to hope. Hope had done her little good. "Soon..." she whispered, feeling the quiet weight in the bottom of her soul, and the light haze in the back of her mind. "Soon..."

xxxx

Shinji Ikari was falling...through chains, through blue, accompanied by the soft strings of a piano and the stirrings of a violin...and when he stopped, he found himself sitting on a metal chair in an empty auditorium. No, it wasn't empty; the blue velvet curtains were bringing drawn up, revealing a desk...and a short, bizarre-looking man sitting behind it, gloved hands folded in a fashion that he found strangely vexing. However, his attention was drawn by the bald man's limp white hair, his long and bushy black eyebrows, his huge bloodshot eyes with almost cartoonishly small pupils...and a nose that seemed as long as his arm.

Yet, for some reason, the bizarre-looking man had an intrigued smile on his face. "Ah...it appears an interesting guest has arrived." His voice was cultured, not deep, yet not light either. It evoked a hint of mystery. "My name is Igor. Welcome to the Velvet Room, young fool...we have important matters to discuss, you and I."

xxxx

SHIN PERSONA EVANGELION

xxxx

Shinji blinked, feeling somewhat out of his element. "...where am I?"

"This place exists between dream and reality, mind and matter," explained the man, his nose appearing more as a spear, or perhaps a blade, such was its bizarre length! "It may be difficult for you to understand this, yet you seem strangely well-equipped..."

His thoughts were all caught up in trying to understand what was going on. "...how did I get here?" The last thing he recalled...was...the train...?

"Given that it's your first time in this place, a little confusion is expected. Only those who are bound by a 'contract' may enter the Velvet Room...in the future, you may find yourself bound to such a fate." He chuckled lightly. "Now...why don't you introduce yourself?"

Contract? What contract? Instead of voicing his thoughts, he impulsively satisfied Igor's request. "...Ikari. Shinji Ikari."

"I see..." His smile did not change one iota. "Tell me, Mister Ikari, why did you come to the city called Tokyo-3?"

"...I..." He wasn't sure why. There was something important that he had to do...he honestly believed that. Yet, the mere thought of facing his father again, of crawling back to him after...well, he had dwelled on that heady cocktail of emotion and frustration and agony for years enough as it was. "...I'm...not sure..."

"An honest opinion, it would seem. Such is human life, to go forward not knowing what you want, hmm?" Igor calmly pressed one of his hands down onto the desk, flipping over a deck of cards that Shinji could not see from his seat. "The fortunes of many are bound not just within themselves, but with others; such is the destiny of man, weaving in and around the destinies of others." He flipped over one card, showcasing the simplistic icon of a jester near a cliff, with a dog yipping at his heels. The numeral for 'zero' was displayed quite prominently on the top of the image. "Some could see such chaos and calamity and confusion, and deem it not worth bothering with...such is the reason for the Fool to step forward, not knowing what fate may await him." With a flick of his gloved hand, he tossed the card towards Shinji-

A dainty hand reached in front of him, grabbing the card in midair; so sudden was the movement that he yelped with shock.

"Forgive me, esteemed guest; I have yet to introduce my assistant to you." As Igor spoke, the holder of the card stepped into his field of vision, revealing herself to be a young girl. Bearing silver hair in a messy cut and yellow eyes, her attire was rather slovenly compared to Igor's black suit and white gloves: gray pants with tattered edges, and a blue velvet blouse with large, billowing sleeves. In addition, she was barefoot, stepping silently along the auditorium floor. "This is Sokila; she will accompany you along your journey, wherever it may lead."

The silver-haired girl nervously curtsied, a wide smile on her face. "A pleasure to meet you, Mister Ikari! I hope we can get along."

"...what journey?" He turned away from Sokila, looking nervously at the bizarre old man. "Do you...do you know something?"

Igor's smile gained a hint of mystery, yet his bloodshot eyes lost none of their casual intensity. "This coming year will be a turning point not just for your destiny, but the destinies of many...and if your journey is not seen to its end, your future, your past, your very present...may be lost forever. My duty is to provide assistance, to ensure that does not happen." With a seamless move, he shifted the cards back into a single deck. "In the days to come, you will enter into a contract of some sort, after which, you will return here...at which point, we shall discuss additional details. Until then...farewell."

Sokila reached for his shoulder, just tall enough to face him eye-to-eye while he was sitting in the folding chair. "See you soon!" Without warning, she shoved him backwards, and he was too stunned to scream as he fell, and fell, and fell...

xxxx

The images were stark. Bloody. Filled with terror and rage, as he faced the creature aboard the rail car's shadow.

In the back of his mind, the voice spoke with deathly intent.

"I am-"

xxxx

With a frightened gasp, Shinji Ikari awoke, staring at an unfamiliar ceiling. His vision took in the sight of square tiles, an IV bag in the corner of his periphery, and the sound of monotone beeping...and just like that, knew that he woken up in a hospital. "...wha..." What had happened? What had all of that been? How had he gotten here?

"Boy, that was a pretty dramatic way to wake up. You hangin' in there?"

Shinji slowly turned his head to the right, gazing upon the face of a beautiful woman with long dark hair of a strangely purplish shade. Clad in a red bomber jacket and a slim brown dress that went down to her thighs, every aspect of her seemed to stand out. However, it was her eyes - filled with a strange sort of concern that he couldn't quite pinpoint, masked by playfulness - that prompted him to answer. "Um...yes...uh, who are-?"

"Who am I? Well, my name's Misato Katsuragi! Pleased to meet you, Shinji-kun," she said, seemingly uncaring for the impropriety of addressing a stranger so familiarly. "I was...well, I was meant to be the person to pick you up at the station. Which I kind of did, though not in the way either of us wanted..." She leaned forward, and the playfulness in her expression disappeared. "Do you remember what happened?"

"...um..."

xxxx

"I am-"

xxxx

"...not really. It's kind of a blur," he quietly admitted.

That answer seemed to satisfy Katsuragi. "...well, at least you came out of it alive. It's more than can be said for some of the other passengers. Congratulations on surviving a run-in with a victim of Angel Syndrome."

Angel Syndrome. There was something very familiar about those words, linked together in a way that evoked dread and terror.

(His sensei calmly spoke of standard things to do, if someone ever showed the signs. "Out here in the countryside, chances are low...but all the same, everyone must be prepared, in this day and age.")

(The TV newscast droned on. "-the incident in Tokyo-2 was the fourth such one this year, but casualties were mercifully limited-")

(The TV newscast droned on. "In our top story tonight, a surprise incident of Angel Syndrome struck Paris, today. By the time France's Anti-Terror Task Force could muster a response, over two hundred people had been murdered-")

(The TV newscast droned on. "-according to Chinese government officials, after the most recent incident of Angel Syndrome in Beijing-2, Ghostoccurrences increased by over forty percent-")

(The TV newscast droned on. "-today marks the twelfth year since Second Impact, and the official tally of Angel Syndrome incidents in Japan stands at five hundred and seventy, with the total worldwide tally coming to-")

His memories said plenty.

Misato Katsuragi smirked knowingly, in a way that was both sad and rueful. "...yeah, you know the deal. Nasty business, Angel Syndrome is...no way of predicting when it'll strike, no way knowing who it'll hit...I guess it was just bad luck, that the victim was the rail car's designated Anti-Terror operative...makes you wonder how the Acolyte was ultimately put down." Her gaze turned sharper, full of a certain expectation. "Train pulled up, with a bunch of people dead...but so was the Acolyte." The sharpness increased. "...sure you don't remember?"

"...uh..."

xxxx

Every single cubic inch of his body felt like it was on fire, encompassing the world and nothing and everything.

"I am-"

xxxx

"...no. I'm sorry."

"...eh, I suppose it can't be helped." Katsuragi leaned back in her chair, adopting an easygoing smile. "I guess it could be considered a test run for you, given the reason you were brought to Tokyo-3 to begin with."

"...why was I brought here?" Inhale. Exhale. "The...the letter didn't...it didn't say much." This woman didn't look like she would bite his head off if he were honest. Maybe. He wasn't entirely sure. For some reason, that hesitance was maddening.

"...seriously?" Katsuragi sighed heavily, muttering unpleasant things under her breath. "Operational security can be a pain in the ass..." With a decisive huff, she slapped her hands together, smiling at him. "Okay then! So here's the gameplan: I'm going to get you discharged, then we're going to head for NERV so we can debrief you and get you up to speed. Sound like a plan?" She gave a conspiratorial wink. "If we're quick about it, I'll see about stopping by a ramen shop on the way to get you some decent grub. I mean, you're probably starving."

"I'm-" Shinji's protests were cancelled by a sudden growl from his stomach. He pointedly ignored the embarrassed heat of blood rushing to his face.

"Hah! Called it."

"...thank you, Katsuragi-san."

"Oh come on, that makes me sound like an old fuddy-duddy! I'm way too sexy to be called that by a strapping young lad like yourself." For some reason, it looked like she delighted in embarrassing people. Or maybe it was just him. "You can call me Misato. But I'll accept Misato-chan if you feel like you're up to it~"

Her teasing was odd. Highly inappropriate. It also got under his skin. Yet...there wasn't any malice to it. For some reason, that made it tolerable. "...thank you, Misato."

Her smile was genuine in its warmth. "You're welcome, Shinji-kun."

As she turned away to begin speaking with a nearby orderly, Shinji leaned back in the bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. What have I gotten myself into?

xxxx

And all the while, on a subconscious level, in words he had no way of knowing...a familiar voice spoke, within the depths of his being:

I am thou, thou art I...
Thou hast acquired a new bond.

It shall lead thou to the truth
that
parts the seas of depravity.

Take hold of the Sun Arcana,
and let it
guide you
to a new Promised Land...

xxxx

Shinji Ikari felt just a little bit fuller. A little less empty. He didn't know why, but he did not question it.

xxxx

"Thank you, come again," said the young bespectacled man that had finished serving them ramen. In a flash, he was off serving another customer, his frizzy and unkempt head of short black hair flopping with each step.

"Come on, Shinji-kun, let's be off!"

Shinji jolted, caught in mid-bow to their server. "Er, right..." He completed his bow, and followed the purple-haired woman back outside. Into her blue Alpine Renault they went, and off they were to downtown Tokyo-3. Now that his belly was full of noodles and broth, the sense of anxiety that had hung over him since waking up had subsided. Just a bit. "...thank you for dinner."

"Eh, it's no big deal! That place gives large portions for not a lot of yen. The service ain't bad either, 'specially when they got that part-timer working there!"

"The one who served us?"

"Yeah, a lot of high-school students from Hakone Academy can be seen working part-time around here. Some of them are hit or miss, but that kid definitely goes the extra mile, from my experience!" Katsuragi grinned nervously. "Damned if I can remember his name, though...hehehe..."

The ensuing drive was filled with Katsuragi filling the dead air with small talk, trying to coax him into participating. His attention was mostly focused on the passing lights of the city, a technicolor collage that formed a chaotic yet familiar mishmash. There was something hypnotic about it...

"We're here."

Shinji blinked rapidly, not realizing that they had come to a stop. Shaking the self-induced daze off, he looked up at their destination: a large skyscraper, bearing a prominent red leaf with the English letters 'N E R V' as its logo. "...NERV Headquarters..." It looked taller than he remembered.

"Yep. When's the last time you were here?"

"...I don't know." His memories of Tokyo-3 were vague enough as it was: the memories of a child, faint and fleeting...

"Well, let's get to it, then. Come on." Katsuragi led the way, and he followed dutifully. Through the secure glass doors - three of them - they entered the main lobby, which was rather barren at this time of evening. It all evoked a strange mix of spotless corporate aesthetic and antiseptic medical clinic, marred only by NERV's bloody logo. He calmly waited for Misato to finish signing them in with the receptionist, not really paying attention to their quiet words and professional dialogue. Everything about this place seemed to carry its own will, overpowering everything else around them: an inherent dominance, baked into the very air-

"Okay Shinji-kun, you're signed in!" A blank ID badge with a lanyard was slipped over his head. "We'll get you a permanent badge later. But anyhow, we have important things to take care of, so let's get to it!" Katsuragi all but dragged him over towards the elevators near the back of the lobby, jabbing her finger on the down button, of all things. She must have sensed his confusion, because she said, "lucky you Shinji-kun, you get a guided tour of the important areas. So-"

Ding.

The doors in front of them opened, and Misato's words died in her mouth. "...good evening, sir."

Shinji Ikari blanched, his eyes taking in the stoic form of a man in a blue suit and a red sweater; all tertiary characteristics seemed to fade away from Shinji's cognition, leaving only the face framed by brown facial hair, and orange sunglasses that seemed as though they belonged, if only because they hid the man's eyes from sight. In the back of his mind, that anxiety returned with a vengeance. Though, in the face of his father, could anyone blame him?

Gendo Ikari stared silently for a few moments, before giving an order. "Get in." His feet were apparently rooted to the ground, unwilling to move. Thus, Gendo spoke again. "Now."

With almost reluctant defiance, Shinji crossed the threshold, not looking up at his father. If he could shy away and shrivel into a ball, he would have done so; instead, he settled for standing on the other side of the elevator from where his father stood.

But when Misato made to follow, he spoke again with the clarity of a thunderbolt. "You will take a different elevator, Major Katsuragi."

If the woman wanted to protest, she did a very good job of hiding beneath a veneer of professionalism. "Yes sir." The message was more than clear; his father wanted a private moment with him. Just trying to acknowledge that reality both thrilled and terrified him.

The closing of the elevator doors felt like a death knell, and it was just father and son.

Seconds passed, as the elevator slowly descended deeper into the Earth...then a minute. All in wretched, accursed silence, ruined only by the hum of elevator motors and the silent clickity-clack of floor numbers...which is why he nearly had a heart attack when his father's gloved fingers pressed the 'stop' button, bringing them to a sudden halt between basement levels. Now there was true silence, broken only by the rushing blood in his ears, and the heavy beats of his own heart.

This is what I wanted. This is what I feared. I mustn't run away, why can't I run away, what does he want? Why now of all times, why?! I hate him I loathe him I despise him I love him I pity him I wonder and worry and agonize why isn't he talking WHY ISN'T HE SAYING ANYTHING-

That burning feeling in the depth of his chest...

xxxx

"I am-"

xxxx

...was starting to flicker. It demanded release, lest it erupt-

"There will be few opportunities to talk, in the days to come." Those level words, delivered with that cold tone, were enough of a balm for that fire in his belly. "I have many things to attend to. You were brought here for a particular purpose, and nothing else; don't presume more than is warranted." Gendo kept looking straight ahead as he spoke, not even glancing at Shinji from the corner of his eyes. It was like watching a statue speak. "If there is anything you wish to say, or to get off your chest...then this is your one chance." A beat. Two beats. "Don't waste it."

Shinji stared blankly at the elevator doors ahead of him, half-convinced he had heard something different. What...what? His father had told him to come here. He TOLD me...

"Will you remain silent?"

...hah...I...I see...ha. "...I..."

xxxx

"I am thou-"

xxxx

"...I came here because you wanted me..."

"I believe I already told you: don't presume more than is warranted."

Shinji's right hand began to clench, never quite becoming a fist; a nervous habit, he recalled. He couldn't remember when he had started, but it was a welcome reminder, an old friend. "...I...why now...?"

"Do you remember anything from the train?" A beat. "Do you remember what you saw?"

He didn't want to remember. I want to remember. He was afraid. I mustn't run away! "...why did you call me...?"

"If you cannot recall what happened on the train, then there's no point in telling you."

"...but..."

"You know of NERV's mission, correct?"

Shinji grimaced, bringing a hand up to to his forehead. Why was it getting hotter? "I..."

xxxx

"I am thou. Thou art I-"

xxxx

It was public knowledge, by this point: something to do with coming up with an effective counter to Angel Syndrome, of finding a way to stop it entirely. "...it's..."

"If you know of our mission, then there's no point in me explaining anything further." A beat. "Now...tell me what happened on that train."

The back of Shinji's mind began to hiss.

xxxx

As the berserk man ran wild amidst the rail car's shadow - oh gods, the man was killing the other passengers - the creature began to advance.

He couldn't move. Why couldn't he move?!

Was he going to die? Here?!

He wanted to run...but he couldn't...he couldn't...where could he go...where WOULD he go...?

"Is this it?"

A bestial voice, in the back of his mind.

"Is this all you're going to amount to, after everything?"

It was angry.

"Is this all your determination amounts to?"

Hoarse, full of wrath...sounding both as an otherworldly beast and a monstrous woman.

"You know why you came here...so why are you hesitating?"

At some point, he had started screaming. His entire body felt like it was on fire.

"Tell me, Shinji Ikari: the other you knows the truth of why..."

He barely had the strength to stand. The creature was coming closer.

"...so what shall you do NOW?"

"...I..." The words were familiar. "...mustn't..." Yet they were all he had. "...run..." In the core of his being, that was all he could cling to, in the face of death. "...away...!"

The voice chuckled, almost...amused.

"Very well. Then let us forge a contract."

xxxx

Shinji was on his knees, teeth clenched with agony. He could barely detect that the elevator had begun moving again; his mind was too busy focusing on the spectral flames erupting from his body, blazing a brilliant blue.

"So it appears your ascension wasn't a partial one...yet your control is lacking." His father sounded remarkably calm. In the corner of Shinji's eyes, he could see that the man was finally looking at him; he didn't seem worried, either. "Very lacking."

"...shut...up..." he snarled. He sounded like a beast.

xxxx

The fire was becoming hotter. Shinji had fallen to his knees, writhing an absolute agony. To call it existential wouldn't be an exaggeration.

And all the while, the Beast within his mind, rising from the bottom of his soul, continued to speak.

"I am thou. Thou art I...behold thy rage, that could sunder the world entire. Thou, who have come this far knowing that the truth will bring thee nothing but pain; show the strength of thy will, to keep moving forward, to take thy desires with thine own hands..."

The voice within his head was so loud...he had to let it out...he HAD TO GET IT OUT...!

"...even if thou were lost for all eternity!"

With a throat-rending scream, he plunged a burning hand into his head, impossibly ripping into it...yet the pain of that was nothing compared to the fury of the fire within. With an agonized howl, his fingers gripped something solid...

"Now...CALL MY NAME!"

...and he YANKED, tearing the source of that pyre out. "Come forth...!" His entire body went alight with blue fire, which shattered the gray drudgery of the shadow around him with its brilliance. "...SHOGOKI!"

xxxx

The ghostly fire flickered around Shinji's entire being, slowly peeling off into something solid, something tangible, real. The interior of the elevator was awash in an azure ambience, and a whirlwind of force seemed to manifest with him at is epicenter. Although his father's jacket fluttered wildly from the sudden waves of force, he didn't seem flustered or afraid.

That fact alone seemed to set Shinji off even more. Why wasn't he afraid?! Or...or even confused!? His son was on fire!

A vague part of him noticed his reflection in those orange shades, and saw that his eyes were a fierce, burning yellow...but somehow, that little oddity was unimportant. Compared to tearing into his father, everything seemed unimportant-!

Ding.

The elevator doors suddenly opened, and the flames emanating from Shinji's bodies (bodies, he only had one...right?) were overwhelmed by an even greater power from without.

SMASH!

The boy gagged as he was slammed into the back of the elevator, a fist of what felt like iron driving into his diaphragm. Meanwhile, the humanoid apparition that had been manifesting above him was also pulverized with a single blow from yet another spectral beast, one that was humanoid as well...but more solid, more real, even as its body hummed with that strange blue essence. Clad in brilliant orange armor, the armored humanoid appeared to be a cyclops, for its helmet bore a single optic lens of bloody red. The sheer force of the beast's blow compounded with the pain in his abdomen, as his thoughts seemed to devolve into white noise.

With an agonized gurgle, his eyes looked upon his assailant: it was a blue-haired girl, her eyes gleaming yellow, with blue flames flickering slightly from the white bodysuit she wore. "...you..." What was...?

She removed her fist from his diaphragm, allowing him to collapse to the floor of the elevator. The flames that had begun to spread from within him died out, leaving naught but an empty chill.

"Thank you, Rei," said Gendo Ikari, nonchalant as ever.

"Of course, sir." The flames around the girl also began to fade; as the armored cyclops vanished, her white bodysuit also seemed to evaporate into nothingness, leaving only a rather plain school uniform in its place. The blazing amber glow in her eyes also went dim, leaving her natural eye color: red like rubies, or freshly-spilled blood. Somehow, her normal appearance was...more unnerving. "Will you need any assistance restraining him?"

"No. You're dismissed."

The girl - Rei, apparently...? - bowed, walking away without another word. She passed by a number of people - medics? Technicians? - who quickly rolled over a gurney of sorts. His father passed them by, walking over to where Misato Katsuragi was standing. He at least found some solace in the expression on her face, which was...well, perturbed would be putting it mildly. As the faceless workers (that seemed so rude to say, but he just couldn't muster the energy or concentration to acknowledge them...) began to pick him up, he could barely pick up their conversation.

"Was that really necessary, sir?"

"Yes."

"Intentionally egging on a potential Evangelion user...?"

"Not potential. Actual."

"That makes it even more questionable. Sir."

"His aptitude needed to be evaluated. We have little time for conventional methods."

"...and his 'aptitude'...?"

"His control will need work, before he's deployed. You will focus on his feelings of animosity for me, until he can call upon the Evangelion by instinct alone."

"...that seems dangerous, sir."

Shinji wanted to hear his father express remorse. Or a sense of regret, even if it was only driven by the necessity of command. Something. Instead, his father's answer said plenty. "His temperament is ill-suited for instilling loyalty to NERV, and his psychological profile indicates that the training regime for the First and Second Children would be less than effective. But his hatred for me is predictable. Use it."

"...that's cold." Such was the woman's apparent disgust, that she neglected to say sir, even if her tone didn't change that much.

"Hatred is but a tool like anything else, Major. You know that as well as I do."

A half-delirious chuckle slipped past Shinji's lips, even as he was painstakingly strapped down into the gurney, under so many straps and constraints that he could barely move...which he didn't feel like doing anyway. I don't know why I bothered...you haven't changed...

xxxx

And all the while, on a subconscious level, in words he had no way of knowing...a familiar voice spoke, within the depths of his being:

I am thou, thou art I...
Thou hast acquired a
new bond.

It shall lead thou to the truth
that
parts the seas of depravity.

Take hold of the Devil Arcana,
and let it
guide you
to a new Promised Land...

xxxx

...you haven't changed at all. That disappointment felt oddly comforting, nestling into his gut as embers providing warmth. Then a syringe pierced his arm, injecting an unknown substance, and all went black.

xxxx

END OF 6/6/2015

xxxx

Author's Note: This is all Strypgia's fault. I hear that's what writers of Eva fics say these days, right?

But seriously, you can blame KZxcellent and his Let's Play of Persona 5...which I only got inspired to watch because of Joker's inclusion in Smash Bros Ultimate...and I'm cutting the chain of causality there.

Now, given that that LP was my very first exposure to the Persona series in terms of story and gameplay (I've listened to its excellent soundtracks via Youtube for years since Persona 3)...this is something that's rather experimental. As those with more background in Evangelion and Persona lore may have noticed, some things are a little...different. That's intentional. This is less a crossover, and more of a fusion, of sorts.

I honestly have no idea where this will go (okay, I sort of have an idea), or how long it'll take to get there, given that this will be a distinct second in priority to my other Evangelion fusion (Acts of an Old Exodus, my sequel to my other Destiny/Eva fusion Gospel of a New Genesis)...but hey, treading new waters is always fun, right?

Let us advance.

See you soon, and please review!

/I shouldn't be doing this, I have more important things to do
/why must you betray me, brain?!
/whyyyyyy