Author's Note: This is a revised version of chapter 5, with added material that wasn't in the original post. I felt that the chapter was too short, and I was having trouble making chapter 6 long enough, so I added them together. Enjoy!
"That's Unit 01!" shouted Asuka, the first to overcome the paralysis Yukinojo's transmission had caused.
Mayuka knelt down to tend to Shinji, who was still unconscious on the floor. Mihoshi had turned off the projector, but was looking about wildly and repeating "Oh my! What should we do? What should we do?" Yosho and Sasami were looking at each other, both wondering what the other knew about the situation that they weren't telling. Ayeka and Tenchi were trying to calm down the overanxious detective and having only marginal success. Washu had summoned her holo-laptop at the first sign of trouble and was busily typing away while ignoring everyone else. Ryoko flew into the kitchen to get a glass of water for the fainted pilot. The sound of water running and glasses clinking was soon followed by Ryoko reappearing and handing her adopted daughter the glass.
Shinji was slowly reviving, mumbling, "Don't go! Please come back!" loud enough for only his two attendants to hear.
Yosho took charge of the chaos, clapping his hands as he cleared his throat to get everyone's attention. They all turned to the elder Masaki shrine keeper, expecting him to speak, but he merely looked expectantly at his youngest sister and raised an eyebrow. Sasami began once she had everyone's attention, "We should retrieve it. Tsunami can handle this, but the Third Child should come along, it will make things simpler. Tenchi, you too. No one else." From the resulting burst of voices, it was clear to the younger princess that she was going to have to answer some questions, but she decided that putting them off was the only way to reduce the likelihood of something going wrong. She was all too aware that the old adage 'too many cooks spoil the soup' applied to many other situations as well. She interjected, "things will be clearer once we return," over the din.
Washu looked up from her keypad, directly at Sasami, "are you sure about this? I can send out a drone ship, you won't need to risk yourselves."
"No, Washu, this task needs a gentle touch. Science cannot always do everything, and you said yourself that you didn't have all the data you wanted. You'll have much more data when we return, I promise."
"If you know what I need, why don't you just tell me now? What's the rush?" Washu shot back, irritated. She hated being in the dark.
"I'm sorry, Washu, you know I haven't had time to talk to you yet. Trust your own instincts, you know I'm right about this."
"Fine, do what you want, but I expect you to tell me everything when you get back. AND I won't fix things up for free if you get in trouble." The redheaded genius turned away from the rest of the family and stalked into her lab, slamming the door. No one had been expecting a confrontation between the two women, and they all were looking at Sasami for an explanation.
"She's just worried, I think," the Second Crown Princess somewhat lamely ventured.
Shinji, who had revived enough to hear the last part of the discussion between the scientist and the princess, saved Sasami further embarrassment by asking "what's going on?"
"You, Tenchi, and Myself are going to go and retrieve the Evangelion. Are you well enough to travel? Speed is of the essence," asked Tsunami's avatar.
"I'm all right. I apologize for worrying you all."
Tenchi responded for all of them, saying "there is no need to apologize, we are all just happy that you are OK. Come with me, we can get ready." As he offered the boy his hand to help him out of his sitting position on the floor, Tenchi turned to look at the blue haired princess, "Sasami, is there anything special we need to bring?"
"The only thing you need is the Tenchi-ken. I will be waiting for you all at Funaho's pond."
Ten minutes later the whole family - minus Washu - was gathered by the pond in the woods. Funaho herself, Yosho's space tree companion, was still rooted in place, but the small pond and stepping stones that had been her surroundings for so many years had been changed over the past decade. The pond was smaller, and shallower, more a ring around the small mound than a pond, really. Funaho's three-meter wide trunk stood in the center of the meter-high and ten-meter diameter hill. A small footbridge spanned the water from the shore to the center, replacing the stones. After Second Impact, with Yosho and Funaho's consent, Washu had begun preparations to allow Funaho to return to space, and had needed to remodel the pond in the process. The genius' work had been successful, to a point, and while Funaho was no longer bound to the ground, she still needed a new flying hull, which only the artisans of the planet Ryuten could provide. Her first flight since she had arrived on Earth seven centuries earlier would have to be as a passenger.
As the group approached the footbridge, Asuka turned to Mayuka, "Mayuka, why is your aunt taking only your father and Shinji with her? And why are we going to a pond, don't they need some kind of spaceship?"
"Asuka, only Aunt Sasami knows why she only needs my father and Shinji. She'll tell us eventually, or it will become obvious, I guess. As for a spaceship, Tsunami is nearby, and I am guessing that Sasami wants to use Funaho as a teleport link. Don't worry. Tsunami is the First Space Tree - the only ship able to generate ten Light Hawk wings. She will be able to handle anything."
Asuka wanted to continue asking questions, but they had reached Funaho and the group stopped, so she turned to Sasami with the others.
Sasami stood next to the ancient tree, and waited for the group to come across the bridge. Once they had all crossed, she nodded, motioning for Tenchi and Shinji to join her next to the tree. Turning to face the tree, she began to chant:
Heaven to Earth,
And Earth back to Heaven,
I ask you, Funaho, to aid in this task.
Show us the path,
Engraved by the Light!
As soon as Sasami had started, a low hum began, rising in pitch and volume, until at the last word the hum abruptly stopped, and Funaho's trunk began to glow brightly. The electric blue light from the tree was so strong that the group had to shield their eyes. The three travelers were enveloped by the light, which then faded quickly. When the glow had completely subsided, all trace of the trio had gone with it. Ayeka called out, "May you have a safe journey, please come home to us!" and turned back to the others. "Come, let us return to the house and I'll make some tea."
"Hey, the last time you tried anything in that kitchen, you set all the smoke detectors off!" responded Ryoko, flying over to her sister-wife and clapping her on the back. They bantered like that all the way back to the house, much to Asuka's confusion.
"They do that all the time, especially when they're nervous about Dad. Don't worry, I'll make the tea. You can help," Mayuka explained to the redheaded former pilot. When Asuka just looked at her with a worried expression, then stopped and looked back at Funaho, Mayuka continued, "Don't worry. I'm sure that everything will be fine. Aunt Sasami has everything under control. Really!" But it was painfully clear to the youngest Masaki that her friend didn't believe her at all. She took Asuka's hand, and led her back to the house in silence.
Asuka, for all the brave face she had put on, couldn't shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen. The questions only multiplied, and now that Shinji was no longer nearby, she felt very alone. The Masaki family was very nice to them and all, but who knew what they were really like? She had known them for only a few days, and each day had brought her hints of things that they all knew but didn't even try to explain. The things she and Shinji had learned about their hosts were crazy enough, she couldn't even speculate about what the Masaki's hadn't told them.
Once Sasami, Tenchi, and Shinji arrived on Tsunami, the young pilot got his first view of Earth from space. As he stood staring out through the canopy that covered the central section of the great ship, Tenchi motioned for Sasami to move out of the boy's earshot. "Sasami, please tell me what you are planning. You know I don't like surprises," pleaded the presumptive heir to the Juraian throne to his patron goddess.
Before Sasami could answer, however, she was interrupted by a transmission from Yukinojo. "Yukinojo calling Tsunami, please respond!"
Sasami looked toward the viewer she had activated (for her companion's sake only, because in a very real sense she WAS the ship and had no need of the viewer herself), "Hello Yukinojo. Do you mind if we retrieve the unknown craft and take it back to Earth?"
"Your Highness! I cannot make decisions like that myself, please wait a moment while I contact Detective Mihoshi," replied the AI, sounding somewhat nervous. It was well aware that while it had the authority to tell the ancient ship to wait, there was little it could do if Tsunami decided not to comply. Tenchi and Sasami smiled at each other while Yukinojo conferred with its human partner in the background. A couple of minutes later the retrieval team had both the OK from Mihoshi and Yukinojo's tracking data. "Good luck, Tsunami. I will return to patrol, and I will reach your recommended safe distance from the estimated interception point by the time you reach the object."
"Thank you for your assistance, Yukinojo. And remember, if anything happens, for your own safety, do not attempt to interfere with the unknown object." Sasami called, cutting off the communication when she was done. "Tenchi, I will need you to call your Light Hawk wings. I will summon my own, and together we will be able to restrain the Evangelion long enough for me to contact its core's resident soul. Once I do that, our young friend should be able to convince her to come back with us. Also, I don't want to surprise it by teleporting to it or approaching it cloaked - if it knows we approach, it will be less likely to fight us out of panic. Also, if it does come to a fight, you must avoid physical contact with the long spear it is carrying. I am positive it is extra-dimensional in nature."
Tenchi listened carefully to Sasami's plan, but still had some questions, so he and Sasami continued to discuss details as they approached EVA 01. As they traveled further from Earth, Shinji stared at his receding home until he could no longer tell it from the surrounding stars, and wondered if he would ever see it again. In many ways this situation was like his first encounter with EVA, he had again been swept up in events beyond his control. The major difference was that the Masaki clan seemed friendly, unlike his father had been. Shinji clung to the hope that things would be better this time, and watched the stars.
Tsunami slowly approached EVA 01. There was about 10 kilometers between them, and even if they had human eyesight they would have been able to see each other against the backdrop of stars. The EVA turned to face her and she finally knew for certain that she had been noticed. With no easy way to communicate with the giant mecha, Tsunami was apprehensive. Maybe she should have asked for Washu's help on the technical side of this adventure, but what was done was done. Washu, never accustomed to taking a back seat on anything, would take some time to come around, but she would, eventually. That it would be sooner if this went well went without saying. Shinji was standing at a screen watching a schematic of the stern chase, occasionally turning to look at EVA-01 as they got closer. Tenchi just stood facing forward and meditated, readying himself for what he had to do. Sasami had briefed Shinji for his role, but his actual purpose with them was much simpler than she had explained. She could tell he had figured out that watching the viewer was not important, but she didn't know how to tell him what her real need for him was, and it would all be clear when it was over. As he watched, Shinji wondered how Sasami controlled the ship - it seemed to him that it was something like how he synchronized with the EVA. He had no idea how close to actuality his idea was.
At 5 kilometers, Sasami turned to her Champion, "It is time, Tenchi."
The prince raised his head from his meditative pose and activated his Jurain battlesuit, transforming in a flash while drawing and activating the Tenchi-ken in the same motion. Tsunami slowed and held a 1000 meter distance from the EVA. "I will do my best, Sasami."
"I know you will. Be careful," replied Sasami as a blue transporter bubble enveloped the tall, brown haired man and dropped him outside the ship. As Shinji watched, Tenchi transformed once again, into the Light Hawk Armor, and spread his arms wide. Three glowing wings of energy shimmered into existence - one wing was parallel to Tenchi's body, the upper two formed a Y shape with it, with the vertex at the center of Tenchi's chest. Tenchi floated in space, facing EVA with a determined and resolute expression, and waited.
The young EVA pilot watched the show in awe of his host. He had no idea what to think of someone who could withstand the vacuum of space seemingly unprotected. The amazing light constructs the shrine keeper controlled were another mystery. The boy could only imagine the power that the sight before him represented. Sasami had spoken to him of a possible fight, and if the man outside the ship could fight an EVA with even a chance of winning, he had to wonder what else he didn't know about the family that had taken him and his fellow pilot in. He did not know how similar his thoughts were to Asuka's misgivings.
As soon as Tenchi was in position, Tsunami moved. Faster than a human eye could follow, she was past the EVA and stopped, facing her adversary from a distance of about 500 meters, opposite the Juraian prince. She immediately unfolded her own set of ten Light Hawk Wings and began to slowly move closer to EVA. Shinji could only stare in amazement at the Light Hawk Wings, and at the apparently peaceful and serene expression on Sasami's face. Sasami was in fact trying to find the link she needed to the mind of EVA-01, looking for the threads of consciousness and memory that she could use to contact the entity before her. She had closed to about 100 meters from the EVA, as close as she dared, when, to her relief, she found the link she needed and stopped. Pushing tendrils of her thoughts towards the EVA, she focused on one idea - an image of Shinji standing on the ship next to her.
At first EVA 01 did not know what to make of the object approaching it from behind, playing catch up. It was no Angel, nor was it anything it knew of from Earth, so the EVA decided to wait and see what happened. It was confident that it could defeat any hostile intentions; it had defeated seven Angels by itself, after all. What confused it were the object's possible origins. What was it? Would EVA find out if there were others in the universe sooner than it ever expected? Minutes passed and as the object got closer, EVA was able to resolve its image into an amazing construct of wood, like and yet so very unlike the old sailing ships of Earth. Since all of its communications equipment was set up to work on the NERV network, EVA did not even bother trying to contact the approaching craft - all it could do was wait, and hope it wasn't hostile.
"I wanted to visit the stars," it thought to itself. EVA had lost much of its identity beyond its function in the war against the Angels, but it knew it hadn't always been what it was now. Its pilot had been strangely familiar, stirring memories it could glimpse only briefly, clues to what had gone before. Wanting more of those memories, it had protected that pilot, fiercely at times. At least that is what it told itself was the reason, afraid to dig too deep. Now, as it waited on the unknown, it hoped it wouldn't need to fight - it wasn't sure it had the spark. Was seeing the stars enough? Its pilot was gone - he had chosen to live after Third Impact, and EVA wasn't surprised at the choice, just saddened, and lonely. "Children grow up and leave their mothers, that's the way of things," it mused, but it had no time to think on the subject any further, as the approaching craft had gotten close enough to see without sensors. Eva turned to face the ship, holding the Lance at the ready.
The great wooden ship stopped about a thousand meters away, and dropped a small object, which looked like a human. It then accelerated past EVA too quickly for it to react and stopped again, about five hundred meters away, opposite the human figure. EVA realized then that the craft had taken its time catching up on purpose - it must have wanted to be seen, for some reason. As soon as the ship stopped, though, the bubble of energy surrounding the human figure began to unfold into three long, blade-like wings unlike any energy EVA was able to analyze. It wasn't an Angel, at least, it would have been able to detect an AT field, and this wasn't one. Ten much larger blades of energy unfolded from the ship at the same time, and the ship began to slowly move closer. The ship's wings were two hundred meters long, and extended out in a fan perpendicular to EVA. The human had stayed put, and its wings were much smaller, ten meters long at the most. EVA 01 knew that it was in trouble if the ship was hostile, it couldn't run away. The ship stopped again, a scant hundred meters away now. So far, though, EVA was still at a loss - there had been no obvious attack, but it was now practically surrounded, and knew that the ship was fast enough to catch it. It knew it couldn't wait much longer to decide what to do.
Surrounded by aliens with unknown intentions, EVA finally made a decision. She didn't know what her adversaries wanted, and had realized that she did not care. SHE wanted to see the stars, and she would not be deterred. If they chose to force her to do otherwise, they would feel her power.
Even though Tsunami, Tenchi, and EVA-01 were stopped in relation to each other, they were still on the EVA's original course towards Mars. EVA activated her AT Field and began moving out from between her two opponents. Concentrating on her maneuvers, she missed the instant of thought from Tsunami that had reached her before the AT field solidified.
Sasami, realizing that things were about to turn difficult, increased her intensity, with the hope of punching through the AT field barrier. She also began turning so that she continued to face the EVA and moving to stay opposite Tenchi. As she moved closer, trying to get in range to wrap the EVA in her wings, she turned to her passenger, holding out her arms, "Shinji! Come to me! Now!" she shouted. She had realizing that if things got bumpy he would be tossed about and could get hurt. She had no worries for herself, but she intended to hold him rather than spare the effort to create a safe restraint for him.
EVA-01 saw the movement of the ship and spun to face the smaller of her opponents, hoping to get around it before the obviously powerful ship could intervene. She swung the Lance to point at her human adversary and charged, the roar of her AT-Field detectable even in the vacuum of interplanetary space. The gap shrank in a second, as her AT-Field propelled her out of Tsunami's grasp toward Tenchi. The Juraian prince stood his ground and held his defensive stance as the EVA sped at him, trusting the Light Hawk Wings, as he had on the previous occasions that he had called on the power in earnest. They had not failed him yet. Tsunami raced after the EVA, and hoped that the giant biomechanoid could be both delayed and distracted by her Champion.
Using the lance like a staff, EVA–01 swung it in a large arc, her goal being to sweep the obstacle from her path. She had no real desire to injure her opponents, but had no qualms about it, either. She would do what she had to do in order to remain free. Tenchi blocked the sweep, the Wings rotating and fusing into a disc in front of him as the orange polyhedral pattern of an AT-Field formed at the point of the Lance's contact. Shinji, watching from his vantage point on Tsunami's command deck was startled to see that the grid was made up of triangles, not the hexagons or octagons of the Angels he had fought. Tenchi, shaken by the impact but not hurt, was forced aside by the momentum of the swing as the EVA pivoted around him. She had a momentary thought that she had broken out from between her opponents, but Tsunami had used the EVA's concentration on Tenchi to teleport herself directly into the path of the escapee. Her ten Light Hawk wings quickly closed around the robotic form, like a flower closing it's petals at dusk. EVA-01, having been caught by surprise by Tsunami's maneuver, was unable to bring the Lance to bear on the new opponent in time, and it pointed out of the enclosure in back of the giant biomechanoid, held fast by the Light Hawk wings around it. EVA-01 desperately began to assault the inside of her cage with both her hands and her AT-Field, but she had no effect on her captor.
Meanwhile, on Tsunami's command deck, a somewhat winded Tenchi had appeared out of a blue teleport bubble, and turned to Sasami, "what do we do now, Tsunami?"
"We head home," Sasami smiled at her Champion as she looked him over to make sure he was not injured. "Hopefully our latest guest will be calmer by the time we reach Okayama." EVA-01 chose that moment to test her captor, shaking the ship as she struggled. "Or maybe not," said the princess with a sheepish expression as she stood back upright from where she had fallen to the floor.
EVA realized that the ship holding her was more powerful than any of the Angels she had faced before. Not only that, but she also felt that she was not in any physical danger from her captors. They had contented themselves with capturing her, and had not attacked back, reacting purely in a defensive manner. She had no pilot to give her direction or to protect, for that matter, and thus, she realized unhappily, did not have the will to unlock her full power. Resigned to captivity for the time being, she reluctantly began to power down her AT-Field.
As EVA-01 began lowering her AT-Field power, she was shocked to feel the presence of another mind in her thoughts. "Who is it? What is going on?" thought the surprised EVA at the new presence.
"I am Tsunami, the Ship of Jurai," was the reply EVA got back in a soft, gentle voice. Startled, EVA found herself standing in what appeared to be a grove of trees, with a glowing figure floating over a pond in front of her, a figure of a human woman with long blue hair and dressed in long, ornate robes. Looking down at her own image, EVA was again surprised, as she appeared to also have a human form in this dream.
"Where am I? What do you want?" asked the soul of the EVA, now more confused than ever. "Why do I look like this"
"You are inside of myself right now, and you appear as you believe yourself to truly be, Yui Ikari," said Tsunami, answering two of the questions. "For now, we are returning to Earth. Once we reach there, many questions will be clearer than they are now. Are you willing to come with us for now? I promise you that we have no wish to harm you."
"I want to see the stars! I don't want to go back. Earth has no place for me anymore," replied the soul of the Evangelion. "Wait - what did you call me?" asked the EVA, suddenly noticing the name that Tsunami had addressed her with.
"I called you by the name you were given at your birth, do you not recognize it any more? Is it that hard to remember?"
"There is so much that I no longer know. I remember only enough to make me realize that there used to be more, so much more. I am EVA now. If I was otherwise before, it is gone from me," responded EVA as she hung her head, looking at her body image for the closely first time. "I am this woman?" she asked, looking up at Tsunami.
Smiling back at EVA-01, Tsunami quietly replied, "As I said before, you appear here in the form you believe yourself to have. You are you, as I am I. But maybe we should leave this matter for now, as there is someone else here that I think you will recognize." At that moment, another figure appeared in the grove, looking somewhat startled.
Shinji had been standing on Tsunami's command watching Sasami. He had been about to ask Tenchi whether Sasami was OK, as she had been silent for several seconds, staring off at nothing, but Tenchi appeared unconcerned, and had begun cleaning himself up. Needless to say, his sudden transport into Tsunami's grove surprised him. "Huh? What - oh! Miss Sasami, what's going on?" asked the brown haired teen as he looked around, trying to get his bearings. This wasn't the first time he had ever suddenly found himself in a strange place, but that didn't stop him from being confused.
"We are within Myself, Shinji. I am sorry if I startled you, but there is someone else here, someone you will recognize," smiled the goddess, gesturing towards the woman that was standing next to her, in shadow. The boy's gaze followed his hostess's hand movement, and his eyes widened as he got his first good look at the third person in the grove.
"Mother? How? Miss Sasami?" was all the bewildered boy could get out as he looked, unbelieving, between the two women.
For her part, EVA just stared at her pilot before her, memories and once forgotten images crowding her mind, all clamoring for attention. She managed to make her body move, through the chaos, stepping up to the shocked boy and enfolding him in a tight embrace.
Thanks for taking the time to read!