Claymore Fan Fiction / Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ Neon Genesis Claymore ❯ The Project Revealed ( Chapter 3 )
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-------------------- Neon Genesis Claymore: Chapter 3: The Project Revealed
Early one morning, Hikari came over the top of a hill and smiled as she saw her destination finally come into sight in the far distance. Her expression quickly changed, however, when she remembered whom she was coming to Lagash to meet.
She closed her eyes and extended her ‘sixth’ sense.
‘There are three yoki… One is weak and blurred. She must be a ‘failed creation’… The second is extremely weak. A trainee?’
Hikari recognized the aura of the third yoki from the one time she had seen warrior Number One in action. ‘This would appear to be Rei’s yoki, but it’s also somewhat weak.’
Then she remembered that Rei hardly ever had to release her yoki energy when she fought. ‘Seems Rei uses it so little that the aura has started to fade!’
"No, that can’t be right," Hikari said to herself with a shake of her head. ‘As a single digit, Rei fights Awakened Beings on a regular basis. There’s no way she can do that without releasing her yoki. No one is that strong. This yoki must belong to someone else.’
In an effort to resolve the seeming contradiction Hikari concentrated, trying to dig a little deeper into the mysterious aura. Suddenly her eyes shot open, as the blood drained from her face. ‘M-My God!’
In Lagash, Rei was walking through the town with Gendo, when she stopped and looked towards the western hills.
"What is it?" he asked.
"I am being probed."
"An Awakened Being?"
Rei shook her head. "No. At this distance I can only just sense her, but it is another warrior. A powerful warrior. If she is able to look into me like this from so far away, she must be Number Four, the Eye."
"Her abilities are indeed impressive," Gendo said with a small smile. "This is good news. She’s arriving several days early. When can we expect her to get here?"
"I would estimate that this town is still over a good day’s walk from those hills."
"Excellent. That means her arrival will not interfere with our plans for today."
A short while later Shinji heard a knock at the door. He hurried from the kitchen to answer it, but, once again, found that his father had already come inside on his own.
"What do you want?" Shinji spat.
"No knives today?" Gendo replied snidely.
"No, not until we’re alone," Shinji shot back. "A lot of people must be after you if you need such a good bodyguard," he added, noting Rei standing behind their father.
Gendo chuckled. "Fortunately, I won’t have to suffer any more of your juvenile prattle today, as I’m leaving."
"Then why did you come here at all?"
"I’m leaving. Rei is staying."
"Ritsuko suggested to me that you two should spend more time together before the Project gets underway."
Gendo turned his attention to Rei. "Return to your quarters tonight. Until then, you are to stay with him."
"Understood," Rei answered quietly.
"Would you like something to eat or drink?" Shinji asked Rei as soon as his father had left.
"Will you be having anything?"
"Um… No, Misato and I finished breakfast a while ago. I was just cleaning up when you got here."
"Then I will wait until you next eat."
Shinji was at a loss as to what to say after that. He had never been a good conversationalist and Rei was the very personification of reticence.
"This is the first time I’ve seen you without your armor or sword," Shinji finally managed, breaking what for him had been a very uncomfortable silence.
"I have no need of them here in town. This uniform is what we always wear: our shirt, pants and collar."
"What about… Rei! You’re barefoot!"
"Is that a problem?"
"N-No… but isn’t it uncomfortable walking around town like that?"
"No. It is what I am used to. As a trainee I spent most of my time like this."
"Well, why don’t you have a seat at least?"
Rei sat down awkwardly on the chair Shinji had indicated and then shifted herself around in it several times before she pulled her legs up and settled in.
"It’s not uncomfortable, is it?" Shinji asked.
"No. It is just… strange. I am used to sitting on the ground."
Once more the conversation trailed off into a long silence.
"Um… Is there anything you’d like to do today?" Shinji eventually asked.
"I am to stay with you."
"Yes, I know, but is there anything you’d like us to do?"
Rei thought for a moment. "I cannot think of anything."
"Hmmm… I’ve got it!" Shinji said. "Why don’t I take you around and show you the town?"
"Wherever you lead, I will follow," Rei answered indifferently.
"I would like to go in here," Rei announced as they walked by a weaponsmith’s workshop.
"Um… Okay," Shinji replied in surprise, since Rei had shown almost no interest in anything up to that point in his tour.
All talking and work ceased as Rei came through the shop’s door. She walked up to a wall displaying some of the smith’s finished products and began investigating the swords closely.
"This is a human claymore," she said as she took it down from the wall and inspected the blade. "The steel appears to be of good quality," she remarked and then smoothly swung it slowly back and forth with both hands. She finished her evaluation by twirling the sword around on one hand. "The balance is very good… Overall this is an excellent piece."
She then casually tossed it towards Shinji. "Let me see you wield it."
Shinji barely managed to catch the sword and then swung it around just as he had just seen Rei do.
"Your movements are quite clumsy," she concluded. "Have you never had any instruction on using a sword?"
"Well, no," Shinji admitted. "Living in town here there’s not much reason for it."
"That is unfortunate," Rei said as she took the sword back. "Warriors begin learning swordsmanship at the age of eight."
She put the sword back on the wall and walked out without another word.
A short while later they were passing a delectable-smelling shop when Shinji’s stomach growled.
"Are you hungry?" Rei asked.
"Um… Yeah," he answered shyly. "This is one of my favorite places to get lunch."
"If you are hungry I suggest you eat."
"Would you like something?"
"Not right now."
They entered the shop, where everyone behind the counter stood stiffly as Shinji ordered.
His purchase complete, they went back outside and found a bench to sit on.
"Would you like to try some?" Shinji asked, offering a piece of his pasty to Rei.
To his surprise Rei actually made a face. "It has meat in it," she said with distaste.
"You don’t like meat?"
"But the warrior I met a while ago ate meat."
"It is a personal choice, not a part of being a warrior," Rei said. "I find eating anything from animals… unpleasant."
"So what do you usually eat?"
"When I am traveling I eat fruits and nuts that I find as I go. Sometimes, when I am in a town such as this, I will purchase bread or some vegetables."
The conversation flagged again until Shinji shyly asked, "Rei, do you remember anything about our mom?"
"I take it that was not the answer you were hoping for?"
Shinji shook his head. "No, it wasn't."
"I am sorry, but I have no memories of her. Do you?"
"Just a few and they're not too clear. All I can really say is that her name was Yui and she had dark hair." 'And that, unlike my father, she loved me.'
At that moment, far to the south, Asuka was sitting making some adjustments to her shoulder armor as she waited for her handler.
"You’re late," she said curtly as Rubel entered the small clearing.
"I didn’t know we were suddenly working to a schedule."
She shot a disgusted look at him. "I’m too valuable to the Organization to be kept waiting around for the likes of you."
"Yes, well, it took me a little longer than I anticipated to get everything you’ll need for your next assignment together."
"I don’t need anything. Just tell me where I’m going."
"If you go as you are now, you wouldn’t like the reception you’d get."
"What do you mean? Where am I going?"
Asuka frowned in recognition. "A holy city."
"That’s right. Somewhere a half-blood like you isn’t usually allowed."
Asuka scoffed. "If they don’t want any warriors sullying their precious town, then let them deal with the youma themselves."
Rubel chuckled. "I sympathize with your opinion. Unfortunately, the Organization does not. A request is a request." He tossed a sizeable bundle at Asuka’s feet. "That should have everything you need – clothes, something to disguise your sword and whatnot."
"And the pills?"
"Naturally. There would be no point in sending you on an undercover mission if your eyes gave you away."
Asuka scowled. "I hate those things," she said as she thought about the yoki suppression tablets.
"But they make your eyes turn back to that lovely blue," Rubel replied sarcastically.
"That’s the one good thing that can be said for them," Asuka agreed. "I detest what else they do to me," she added as a hand went unconsciously to her lower abdomen.
"I’ve provided for the possibility of that happening for you."
"Thanks," Asuka said with unusual modesty.
The next day, Hikari was surprised to see two Claymores waiting for her as she approached the main gate of Lagash.
‘The one on the left with the brown hair is the failed creation I sensed yesterday. The other is the very weak warrior… Hmmm, that’s odd. Why doesn’t she have a symbol on her collar? She looks too old to still be a trainee.’
"We’ve been waiting for you," Ritsuko said slightly peevishly. "Come this way."
Hikari stopped. No mere trainee was going to speak to her that way. "Who are you to address me in that manner?" she asked pointedly. "I am warrior Number Four, Hikari the Eye. Give me your name and number – now."
‘Oh, just great, this one likes to pull rank,’ Ritsuko thought darkly, but said humbly, "I am Ritsuko and this is my assistant, Maya. We're from the Seventy-fourth Generation, and though we are your elders, neither of us has a number."
"So you’re both failed warriors?" Hikari asked with more than a hint of derision.
Ritsuko nodded. "That is why we have been given the supervision of this project by the Organization. It is our minds, not our bodies, that are strong."
Hikari’s eyes narrowed at the thinly veiled insult. "Fine. Whatever. Take me to Rei and her handler."
"Those are not our orders."
"But they are mine. You will do as I say."
"Not when our orders come from your new handler himself. We are taking you to meet someone else first."
"Oh, very well," Hikari answered with an annoyed huff.
Hikari followed as they led her through Lagash to a somewhat rundown-looking block of row houses.
"The boy you are to meet lives here," Ritsuko announced as she knocked on a door.
The door opened, revealing a very surprised Shinji. "Hikari?" he asked.
She looked at him for a moment before recognition dawned. "You’re Shinji, right?"
"You two know each other?" Ritsuko asked in disbelief.
"Well, um," Shinji answered, scratching the back of his head shyly. "I ran into her in the woods outside of town with some friends not too long ago."
Ritsuko turned her attention to Hikari, who shrugged. "This is my district," she said. "I come this way all the time. They just happened upon my campsite one day."
Ritsuko smiled. "This is actually good news, for a change. Your already knowing each other should make things a little easier."
"Easier?" Hikari asked.
"Yes. You see, he’s half of the reason you’re here."
"Half? I thought I was here to see Number One!"
"She’s the other half."
"I don’t understand."
"You’ll have it all explained to you later. But for now, please tell me if you sense anything from him."
Hikari’s expression betrayed her confusion as she turned to Shinji. "But he’s just a human."
"Indulge me," Ritsuko said with a knowing smirk.
Hikari closed her eyes and tried to feel something from the now frightened boy.
"I just sense the usual very faint human aura," Hikari announced a few seconds later.
Hikari shook her head. "No, of course not. If I’d sensed anything from him I’d have killed him the first time we met."
"Interesting," Ritsuko said with a nod.
"What’s all this about?" Hikari asked.
"You’ll find out more tonight. We’re all going to meet here at six o’clock. You have until then to find yourself somewhere to stay for a while."
"I’m sure Shinji can help you," Ritsuko added as she began to walk away, with Maya right behind her.
Turning back to him, Hikari didn’t like the way Shinji was now looking at her.
"I’m sorry about saying that I would’ve killed you," she said. "But I was just putting some emphasis on the fact that I sense nothing from you."
"It’s okay," Shinji replied. "I understand. It’s just that this whole thing has me feeling… I don’t know… upended."
Hikari nodded. "I don’t blame you. I have no idea why they’d involve a normal human in anything the Organization is up to. We’re from different worlds, really."
"Well, not so different," Shinji said sheepishly. "It turns out that Rei’s my sister."
"N-Number One is y-your sister?"
"Yeah. And her handler is our father."
"He’s what?" Hikari asked incredulously. "That’s not… not right… We’re all supposed to be orphans."
Shinji could only shrug. "Do you want me to take you over to Touji’s dad’s inn?"
Hearing Touji’s name brought Hikari’s mystified thoughts back to the task at hand. "T-That would be really nice of you."
As she followed Shinji through Lagash, Hikari finally noticed the apparent indifference that the populace regarded her with. "You guys were right," she concluded. "People out here in the streets don’t seem frightened of us." She smiled. "I never thought I’d be happy to just be ignored."
"It must be horrible having everyone be afraid of you all the time."
"Well, we’re supposed to minimize our contact with normal humans, and that helps make it a little easier to deal with."
"But you didn’t act that way with the three of us. You seemed to want to spend some time with us."
"And I did," Hikari said with a renewed smile. "It made for a nice change of pace, just like walking through this town is now. I enjoyed being able to spend some time with you like a normal person."
Soon they found themselves standing in front of ‘The Red Lion Inn’.
"This is it," Shinji announced.
"You should probably go in first," Hikari suggested.
"Welc…" a voice called out as Shinji came through the door, only to trail off when Hikari entered behind him.
"Hello, Touji," she said with sly grin. "I’m here to take you up on your offer."
"H-Hi… Hi-Hikari," Touji stammered. "W-What sort of room would you like?"
"I can make do with your plainest and simplest," she answered, doing her best to hide her bemusement.
"H-How long will you be staying here?"
"I really don’t know. I guess a few days at least… I should have a better idea by tonight."
That evening, as six o’clock approached, Hikari found herself once again at Shinji’s door. She knocked and was surprised when a purple haired woman answered.
"Hi! You must be Hikari!" she said.
"Um… Yes, ma’am."
"I’m Misato, Shinji’s guardian. Come on in!"
As she entered, Hikari felt a strange sensation. "Are you also a failed creation?" she asked.
"A what?" Misato asked, momentarily confused. "Oh, no. No, I’m not."
Hikari grabbed the hilt of her sword but did not draw it. "But you have a bit of an aura," she said darkly. "Care to explain why?"
Misato looked behind her to make sure Shinji was not within earshot. "I was attacked by a youma when I was fourteen," she admitted. "I… I was contaminated."
"Then how are you still alive?"
"I grew up in a village not too far from here, so when I was hurt my mother was able to get me to the Organization just in the nick of time. They saved my life."
"I didn’t know that was possible!"
"Don't believe me? Want to see the scar? It’s just a little above where yours is."
"Oh, no, that’s alright," Hikari answered with some embarrassment as she thought of where the scar must be. "Of course I believe you. I’m sorry I pried."
Misato smiled. "It’s okay. I was sort of expecting you to notice. It is your job after all, and it’s not like I can hide it from someone like you." She looked over her shoulder again before continuing. "You've met Ritsuko, right?"
"She and I grew up together. She was helping my mom, dad and I out in our fields at harvest time when we were attacked by the youma."
Realization dawned for Hikari. "I take it she was contaminated as well."
Misato nodded. "Only they had to perform the full 'process' on her to save her life."
"I see... That would explain why her yoki was too weak for her to earn a number. She started off far too old."
"Did both of your parents manage to escape too?"
"My mother did.... But... But my father died giving us the chance to get away. The youma ate him."
"Oh. I'm sorry."
"Thanks," Misato answered and then leaned over to Hikari’s ear. "Just don’t tell Shinji any of this," she whispered conspiratorially. "He doesn’t know and I want to keep it that way."
"I won’t tell a soul," Hikari promised equally quietly. "You have my word as a warrior."
Misato smiled again. "I think I like you… Now, can I get you anything while we wait?"
"No, thank you, ma’am."
"Call me Misato."
"Okay… Misato… Besides, we won’t have to wait long."
"Of course. You can tell, can’t you?"
Hikari nodded. "They’re almost here."
"You look a bit nervous all of a sudden."
"Yes, ma… Misato. I guess I am a little."
"Because of Rei?"
"Um-hmm. This is my first time actually meeting her."
"She even frightens someone like you?"
Hikari could only nod as a shiver ran through her.
"I would've thought a warrior as strong as you wouldn't feel that way about Rei."
"She's... There's just something about her... She hides it well, but her yoki is very, very deep." 'and dark.'
"I feel it a little too."
Misato nodded. "Being near her doesn't feel like being around you or Ritsuko does."
Hearing a knock at the door, Hikari clenched her fists in an effort to control her trembling. Moments later the door opened to reveal her new handler.
"Number Four, I take it," said Gendo.
"It's good that you've arrived sooner than expected," he said as she strode by her followed by Ritsuko and Maya.
Hikari fought the urge to grab her sword as the last member of their party came through the door.
"My name is Hikari."
Hikari frowned as Rei proceeded to walk past her as if she was no longer there.
A short while later Hikari found herself sitting at Misato’s dining table with everyone else, including a dejected looking Shinji.
"Tonight is basically an information session," Ritsuko began. "Shinji, the first thing I’d like to find out is how much you know about warriors."
"Well… Um," Shinji responded. "My friend Kensuke is very interested in you and tells me a lot."
"I can attest to that," Hikari interjected jokingly and then instantly regretted doing so, as Gendo glared at her.
"I know that you start out as human girls and that somehow youma flesh and blood are put into your bodies. That’s how you can be so strong and fast."
"And do you know why all warriors are female?"
"Men were tried at first, but for some reason they didn’t work out."
Ritsuko nodded. "Good. So you know some of the basics. Of course, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. For example… what do you think happens to warriors as they get older, Shinji?"
He shrugged. "I have no idea."
Ritsuko looked over at Hikari, who clearly had become uncomfortable about the new subject matter. "Why don’t you tell him, Number Four?"
"O-Our half-youma bodies are constantly fighting for control against our human minds," she began hesitantly. "The more we use our yoki energy the stronger the youma part of us becomes… Eventually, our minds can no longer hold it in check."
"What happens then?" Shinji asked, his eyes wide.
"If we are not killed… then we become full youmas."
"We have a system," Ritsuko interjected. "Every warrior carries a Black Card with her personal symbol on it inside the hilt of her sword. When a warrior feels that her mind’s control is waning, and she wants to die as a human being, she sends this card to the warrior she wants to be executed by."
Shinji looked back and forth between Rei and Hikari. "Either the two of you will have to be killed or you’ll turn into youmas one day?"
Hikari nodded sadly.
"But there’s more to it than that," Gendo said. "Tell me, Shinji, has your friend ever told you about Voracious Eaters?"
"Yeah. They’re older youma. They’re bigger, hungrier and craftier than other youmas."
"That is what the Organization wants people to think… Tell him the truth, Hikari."
She closed her eyes with a sigh. "The term ‘Voracious Eater’ is a ruse. Within the Organization we actually call them ‘Awakened Beings’. They’re what warriors become if they choose not to use their Black Cards… They are far, far larger, stronger, faster and smarter than other youma. It usually takes a squad of four or five experienced warriors to kill one of them."
Shinji had by now turned quite pale. "A-And what does all this have to do with me?"
"We’re getting to that," Gendo said with his customary smirk. "But first, we’re going to tell you some things that even most warriors in the Organization don’t know."
"Well, for example, the real reason that we don’t use male warriors is because they awaken almost as soon as they are sent out to kill youma. You see, the first generation of Claymores was comprised of men. They all awakened… Since then we have used nothing but female warriors. Only they seem to have the necessary self control."
Gendo again turned his attention to Hikari. "You knew that, didn’t you?"
"Yes, sir. It's part of the special knowledge given to each generation’s Eye."
Gendo nodded. "Of course. With your abilities you’d need to know things like that… That’s also why the Eye is the only warrior who is specifically told about the Abyssal Ones isn't it?"
"The Abyssal Ones?" Shinji asked.
"Tell him, Hikari."
Again she nodded in resigned compliance. "In the history of the organization there have been two cases where the warrior ranked number one has awakened – in the generation of male warriors and in the first female generation. The male is called Isley the Silver King and he lives in the North, while the female is known as Riful of the West. They are far more powerful than even the other Awakened Beings… Fortunately, they each returned to the region they were born in and have, for the most part, lived quietly there ever since. It’s as if they’ve hidden themselves away in deep caves, so that's why they have come to be called the 'Creatures of the Abyss'."
"And why are you alone entrusted with this knowledge?" Gendo asked.
"Since my ability to detect yoki is by far the strongest in the Organization, I have the ability to sense them. I was told that if I ever felt their yokis I was to avoid engaging them at all cost."
"And have you ever sensed them?"
"Once, when I was on a special mission in the West, I felt something that could only have been Riful. Even at the great distance between us I could feel just how ominous and deep her yoki is… I never want to feel it again." ‘Just like I want to get far away from Rei right now!’
"And were you told about the Angels as well?" Ritsuko asked.
"What are they?" Shinji asked.
"They were… prototypes… for lack of a better term," Ritsuko answered. "You could say they were Claymore generation zero."
"Generation zero?" asked a confused Hikari.
"A great deal of experimentation occurred before the first generation of male warriors was created," Maya said shyly. "Most of the men and boys who were the test subjects died, but some…"
"Became a sort of failed creation," Gendo finished when Maya hesitated. "They are neither human, nor youma, nor warrior, nor Awakened Beings. They are somewhere in between all four."
"And the purpose of this ‘project’ is to hunt these ‘Angels’ down?" Hikari asked.
"Yes," Gendo answered. "And if we are successful then the Abyssal Ones will be next… We already have our eyes on candidates in the upcoming generation who will be added to the project for that purpose."
"I take it, therefore, that the Organization considers our usual hunting teams to be inadequate for killing these ‘Angels’."
"That is correct. When roused, their powers are only surpassed by Isley and Riful."
"Then how are we going to kill them?"
"Rei will dispatch them one by one."
"By herself?" Hikari asked in disbelief. "Is she that powerful?"
"If everything goes according to plan, she will be."
"I don’t understand."
"That is where you, and more particularly, Shinji come into the picture," said Ritsuko.
"I can see where I might be of some help, but Shinji? He’s not a warrior."
Gendo nodded. "The key to all of this is that they’re twins."
"What difference will that make?"
"You’ve been told about soul links, haven’t you?"
Hikari’s eyes went wide. "A soul link is a terrible thing to risk!"
"But what is a soul link?" Shinji suddenly interrupted.
Gendo chuckled. "It’s something that exists only in theory, right Hikari?"
"That’s right," she agreed and the turned to Shinji. "I was warned about it when I was a trainee. Since I can manipulate my opponent's yoki during combat I was told about it since I am deemed at risk to it."
"So, what is it?" Misato asked.
"A soul link is something the Organization thinks can happen if a warrior like me releases her yoki while it is attuned to a youma’s. The concern is that after a certain point the warrior will be unable to pull herself back, leading to a loss of control and, then, awakening. To prevent that from happening I was instructed to only release my yoki to thirty percent if I was also tuning it to my opponent’s."
"But that still doesn’t tell me what I’ve got to do with all this!" Shinji said with growing exasperation.
"Simply stated," said Gendo. "The goal of the Project is to turn the soul link into a viable fighting technique. We think that if a warrior is linked in this way to someone other than a youma then she can return to normal even from her body being in a fully awakened state."
"Return from awakening?" Hikari gasped. "Is it really possible?"
"That is what we are going to find out… If everything goes according to plan, Rei will be able to awaken to fight the Angels and then return to normal via a soul link with her brother. In such a state she should have power on a level similar to the Abyssal Ones... As the Eye, your part in this is to monitor and reinforce their link."
Hikari nodded. "I can understand why a link to a twin sibling would be stronger," said Hikari. "But Shinji has no yoki for Rei to attune her own to. He’s just a human."
"That’s where you’re mistaken," Gendo said with a grin.
"What do you mean?" Shinji asked as he slammed his fists on the table. "I am human!"
"It all has to do with your mother."
"Yes. You see, Yui was a Claymore."
Shinji paled. "T-Then that means…"
"It means that you, Shinji, are one quarter youma."
Sorry about the update of the draft taking so long. Lots going on in the real world, etc, etc. I'll be starting Chapter 4 after I have gotten some of the Rei-Bane finale written.
I've changed the story timeline in this chapter. The girls are no longer of the 70th generation. I've moved the timeline up and now have them in the 75th generation. The only thing this will affect is the story's ending, which will now have a new twist. I've also gone back and edited the first chapter to bring it in line with this change. Chapter 2 required no revisions.
Several comments I’ve gotten on this story so far indicate that some folks are wondering if this will turn into a Shinji/Rei romance fic. The answer is: NO!! They’re true siblings in this story, and so I plan to keep their relationship on a strictly platonic brother/sister level. If you want a Shinji/Rei romance story from me go read Rei-Bane.
This does not mean that the story will definitely not have some sort of romantic overtones to it. I just haven’t decided whom yet.
Unlike the actual NGE storyline, here Ritsuko gets a taste of Hikari the Class Rep. and vice versa. They're both headstrong and bossy, so of course they don't get along.
The people of Lagash are indifferent to seeing Claymores on the streets. Having one of them come into your business is another matter, apparently.
Now we see how Misato is able to sense Claymores at close range and why Ritsuko couldn't become a true warrior. Besides, what would Misato be without her scar and all the emotional baggage that goes with it?
Yui was a Claymore who could reproduce?!?!? She also had dark hair?!?!?! Shinji is 1/4 youma?!?!?! How can he not have an aura, etc, etc, etc?!?!?!
Answers to these questions and more in our next installment! Same Bat Time! Same Bat Channel!