Author's Note: My therapist says I need to finish these words in order to move on. There will be a sequel.

A State of Mercy

Chapter 15: Conclusion and Looking Forward

Darkness.

Silence.

And then…

"Emergency power! Now!" Misato shouted.

"Coming!" Hyuga shouted back up to her. In ten seconds, the lights flickered back on and the computer consoles started humming to life again. The main screen blinked thrice and then shimmered on to show Greymarch. The black Wolf was sprawled face down on the burnt ground that used to be Intercept City.

"Where are the other Evas?" Misato asked.

Hyuga punched in some commands and brought up windows showing the other Evas where they'd landed. With the exception of Rei, who'd moved Unit 00 so far out into the surrounding desert that she hadn't been effected by the Anti AT Field. "Send out recovery teams. But keep Greymarch closed up, we can't have the LCL inside that plug spraying out all over the sand," Misato ordered.

Maya didn't look at anyone as she left to prepare her salvage equipment with Yui.

INSIDE GREYMARCH

It was warm, and somewhere far away at the edge of Simon's mind there was a whispering voice. Do you want to go back? it asked.

"What do you mean?" Simon asked it.

Do you want to see them again? it explained. Then, on cue, a series of images snapped in and out of his head. Sean, Asuka, Kensuke, Misato, Rei, Gendo, Shinji, Yui, Hyuga, Aoba, Maya. These images were simply manifestations of his own mind.

"Yes," he said, "Yes I do want to see them again."

Don't make such a rash decision. First, look at all the options.

"What do you mean, options?" Simon asked.

Where else you could return to. Like this.

Suddenly, Simon was standing in a room that felt familiar to him, yet he didn't ever remember being here before. "Where am I?" he asked.

When no response came, Simon walked forward into the next room. A girl who looked damn near just like Rei turned and looked at him. She walked over and hugged him. "You don't have to go anywhere. Stay with me."

Then, the room and girl were sucked away into nothingness and suddenly Simon was standing in a field. He had a SWAT tactical vest on and was covered in black colored blood. This, also, he faintly knew but still didn't know. You could return here, as well. it said.

"What are these places? Are they different planes of existence?"

You could say that.

Then the scene changed again and Simon was standing in front of a chain link fence, a rifle in his hands. On the other side of the fence, walking corpses were moaning and banging on the metal links. Simon snapped his rifle up into place, and fired. Just as the gunshot was echoing away, the scene went with it. You don't like that option?

"No, I don't."

Okay, well how about this?

A jungle appeared around Simon, a familiar girl in front of him. "No. Not at all," Simon barked sternly.

Okay, I'm sorry. The actual memory flashed away and was replaced by the sensation of being held.

"What's this?" Simon asked.

This is what you could have if you simply didn't return at all. it said. Simon liked the sensation.

"Okay, let's try this for a while."

Okay.

HOSPITAL WARD

Sean woke up staring at the ceiling above his hospital bed. "Well, at least I'm not dead," he said and got out of bed. Noting that he was in fact dressed still in his plug suit, he found some hospital clothes and put them on before walking out to find the rest of the surviving pilots in a break room. Rei stood off to the side looking even more gloomy than usual.

Asuka had her head pressed against Shinji's chest, crying. He simply sat there and held her, a thousand-yard stare in his eyes. Hikari and Kensuke were both dead. Sean sighed and sat down in a chair, rubbing the shoulder that was sore from the phantom pain of being sliced nearly in half. Misato entered after about three minutes, her brown jacket slung over one shoulder.

"Where's Simon?" Sean asked her.

Misato sat down, looking like she'd been on her feet all morning. "Maya and Yui are working on how to get him out of the core as we speak. He turned off his sync dampers and destroyed the city with an Anti-AT Field. Thankfully, all the Harvesters are dead now," she explained.

"Of course," Sean snorted. "He has to show off."

Rei suddenly moved over to Sean and backhanded him across the face. "Don't say that," she commanded quietly. Sean was too stunned to do anything about it.

GREYMARCH'S CAGE

Yui ordered a technician to secure the receiver tube to the core better than the current half assed way it was lashed at the moment before turning to Maya. The younger woman looked worried.

"Maya? Are you okay?" Yui asked.

Maya snapped herself out of the trance she was in and looked up at Yui. "Yes, I'm fine," she lied.

"Right, well let's just get this done, alright?" Yui replied, turning back to a bank of instruments.

INSIDE GREYMARCH

Simon felt a tug at the edge of his consciousness. He reflexively recoiled from it in fear of what it might do to him. "What is that?" he asked.

That's the world. it said. Simon thought he heard a bit of anger in the whispering voice.

"What does it want?" he asked.

You. it explained. Simon put two and two together and guessed that it was the salvage operation.

Maya would undoubtedly perform one once they got Greymarch back to the cage. Simon moved toward it. Then a hand grabbed him. No! Don't leave! the former whisper was now a howl of anger and terror.

Then, their thoughts merged, Simon understood. "You're alone in here, and it makes you sad," he reasoned.

No response.

"Don't worry, I'll always be right here," Simon said, and indicated with his mind the entry plug.

It didn't respond at first. Okay. it finally said.

"Okay. I'll see you around," Simon said and moved again toward the tug from outside.

GREYMARCH'S CAGE

Simon flopped out of the core and into the receiver tube. "Clear!" a technician shouted up to Yui, who turned to Maya.

"You here that?" she asked with a smile.

"Yes," Maya smiled even more at the news.

TWO WEEKS LATER, THE TOP OF A REMAINING SKYSCRAPER

Units 00, 01 and Greymarch had been moved into position behind the skyscraper on a hill in a battle-ready pose. Unit 00 was looking off to the left with its sniper rifle; Unit 01 held two Pallet rifles and crouched in front, while Greymarch stood behind them with its wings spread out. On the top of the building, Simon, Asuka, Sean, Shinji, Rei, Maya, Misato, Gendo and Yui had gathered.

Cameraman Joe was setting up a camera to shoot the DVD box art for the complete series of Evas 'R Us. Earlier in the day, they'd all preformed their final interview section of the last episode, and now they were all sorting out how they'd be posed in the picture. Asuka, of course, wanted to be next to Shinji. They'd all agreed that Gendo should stand near the back do to his height and also have Yui by him, naturally.

All the pilots wore their plug suits with an unzipped jacket over the top portion. Simon and Maya stood off to one side, Simon's left arm around her and his other in the pocket of his jacket. Maya and Yui both wore their lab coats, hands in pockets. Sean picked a spot next to Misato for the purpose of his height in the back row. Rei stood next to Simon on the opposite side from Maya.

"Say cheese!" Joe said. Thankfully, everyone managed to recover from the shock of him saying something other than a question quickly enough so as not to ruin the picture.

Afterwards, Sean walked up to Simon. "I got a call yesterday from MIT. They want me to come back and be a professor. I think that I might do it," he said.

"That's fine by me. When are you leaving?" Simon asked.

"Probably next month," Sean said.

"Well, best of luck to you!" Maya said with a smile.

Sean smiled back. "Thanks," he said and walked off.

Simon noticed Shinji and Asuka talking to Gendo and Yui, calmly and without anger. Simon knew exactly what it meant. "Good, very good," he muttered and walked with Maya towards the elevator.