Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction / Tenchi Muyo Fan Fiction / Transformers Fan Fiction ❯ Death is Never the End ❯ Chapter 1

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

1030 hours, Tokyo Time. Ayanami Rei, the First Child, stared at the darkness within the Multipurpose Humanoid Fighting Machine, Evangelion Unit 01. Like a womb, the cockpit protected her by imprisoning her, simultaneously comforting and disturbing. She tried to suppress the conflict between her senses, just as she tried to suppress the conflict between her genes.


The sound of Unit 01's activation was accompanied by a kaleidoscopic light show as the liquid crystal displays (LCDs) that lined the cockpit were turned on. The colors quickly resolved themselves into recognizable forms. Rei saw the control booth for the Eva cage. Ikari Gendo, Commander of the United Nations Nuclear Emergency Response Vector (UN NERV), sat within the booth. He was Rei's god, the one who, through the genetic engineering specialists under his command, gave her life. The one who, through the Evangelion Project, gave her life a purpose. The one who could, through his words, take away her life and its purpose.

"The pilot has commenced the joining," noted 1st Lieutenant Aoba Shigeru.

Rei's face was a porcelain mask, hiding her fear and hatred. She knew the Eva could save this world, or destroy it. 'Am I strong enough to control the Eva? Am I strong enough to save this world? Do I want to control the Eva? Do I want to save this world, which I am a stranger to?' She did not know the answers, and she hated her own ignorance. She tried not to let her emotions interfere with her work, her life's purpose.

"Start system phase two," ordered Doctor Akagi Ritsuko, director of the Evangelion Project.

"Synapses inserted. Junction started."

Rei shivered as she felt, through the Eva's nerves, the cold air from the Eva cage's climate control systems. Her chest felt tight as the Eva's heart and lungs began to beat and breathe.

"Pulses transmitted," noted 1st Lt Ibuki Maya.

"All circuits are operational."

Rei suppressed the urge to vomit. The LCL that filled the cockpit carried the scent of blood to her nose, as well as oxygen to her lungs. It became more difficult to suppress her fear. The valves of the Eva's heart were hungry mouths, tearing apart Rei's self-awareness to feed the Eva.

"The initial contact has no problems."

"Power has been transmitted to the brachial muscle in both arms. There are no problems with the nerve links."

"Check. Up to 2550 on the list are satisfied."

"Arrange for the third connection."

"Up to 2580 are satisfied." Maya counted down to the moment when the absolute borderline was reached, when Rei's control over the Eva, or the Eva's control over her, was strongest.

'Rei...' Alarmed, Rei turned her head rearwards, searching for the speaker. 'Rei...' Rei turned forwards. "Who are you?" she asked. 'Rei...' She saw her reflection on the LCD, calling her name with her own voice. 'I am you...' "What do you want?"

"Rei?" Ikari was alarmed by the confusion in Rei's voice.

Rei's reflection smiled. 'I want what you want. I want completion. I want freedom!'

"Pulses are beginning to flow back!" Maya examined the Eva and Rei's life signs, searching for the problem's cause. Rei's brainwaves became irregular, a sign of mental instability. As the Eva's pulse became stronger, Rei's pulse became weaker.

"Problems encountered at the 3rd stage. Rejection is setting in on the nerve center elements."

"Terminate the contacts," ordered Ritsuko.

"Negative," answered Maya. "The signal's not being received!" Rumble! Maya looked away from the monitors, towards the Eva cage. The 40-meter-tall robot was struggling against the restraints that secured it to the cage wall. Snap! The clamps on its right forearm were shattered. Squeak... Clang! The bolts on its shoulders bent and broke. "Unit 01 is out of control!"

"Terminate the experiment," ordered Ikari. "Shut off the external power."

"Yes, Sir." Ritsuko forced herself to look away from the Eva, towards her computer console. "Impossible... Unit 01's S² engine has been activated!"

"What?!" Ikari looked away from Ritsuko, towards the cage. Unit 01 ran towards the control booth, its right hand closed into a fist, its arm extended. Boom! Clatter! The windows, though made of bulletproof glass, were unable to withstand the blow. Ikari forced himself to stand still, to watch the machine. Rei was a clone of his late wife. He must know what would happen to her; what would happen to him was unimportant.

"It's dangerous! Get back!" Ritsuko turned to Maya, her aide. "Special Bakelite. Hurry!" The resin was sprayed into the cage, covering the Eva and the floor. As it dried and solidified, the Bakelite should restrain the Eva.

Boom! Clatter! The Eva withdrew its fist to launch another attack. Beeeeep! It froze, like a toy robot whose batteries had been removed. "Rei..." Ikari turned to Maya. "Status of the pilot?"

Maya hit a hotkey, ordering her console to display Rei's life signs instead of the Eva's power systems. An alarm had been set off. "Pulse, negative. Breathing, negative. Brainwaves, negative." She covered her mouth, sickened by the news. "She's dead."

"No!" Ikari knelt on the floor, weakened by grief. "No..." Squeak! Ikari looked up. Unit 01 had raised a hand to its helmet. "Rei?"

Unit 01 tore its visor away from its helmet. Strands of sky blue hair, the same shade as Rei's, flowed from the resulting gaps. The face, which was as featureless as a sock puppet's, had shaped itself to resemble Rei's. The people stared in shock at the Eva's transformation.

"I am not your doll," said the Eva. "I... am free!"

The people instinctively shut their eyes and knelt down as a blinding light, a manifestation of the Eva's absolute terror (AT) field, was projected from its chest. The Eva became like the sun, burning away the Bakelite, the Eva cage, and the city of New Tokyo-3.



An Evangelion crossover by Sidewinder (, 2002, last revised 2007. Based on Ian Fleming, Kawamori Shoji, AIC, Gainax, Hasbro, Marvel, and Takara's works.


Oh, my knight in shining armor,

Riding off to fight your crusade.

Being alone, to me, is torture.

I only wish that you were safe.


I remember your touch, soft as a feather,

How I wish we were together.

I remember your kiss, burning like a fire,

How you lift my spirit higher...


You tell me that you do not fear death.

Do you have any feelings left?

You tell me that you'll be a legend.

Is this how our love story ends?


Death is never the end,

You do not have to be alone.

Death is never the end,

I will wait for you to come home.


Remember the time we danced together,

Celebrating our nation's colors?

I heard you whisper, "I love you,"

I whispered to you, "My heart is true."


You say you're fighting for my glory,

Can't you see? I'm full of worry.

I sing to honor your bravery,

Though my tears are overflowing...


Despite the distance that keeps us apart,

You'll always have a place in my heart.

In my dreams, you're still beside me,

In my dreams, I'm never lonely.


Death is never the end,

You do not have to be alone.

Death is never the end,

I will wait for you to come home.


The computer-generated image of Keel Lorenz, Seele 01, took a seat before the CGI table. Using virtual reality (VR) programs and satellite communication, Seele's 14 other members joined him at the table, despite the distance that separated them in this world.

"We have a problem," stated Keel.

Records of the incident at New Tokyo-3, taken by American, Russian, and Chinese spy satellites, appeared on the table. A computer model, based on this information, appeared in the center. The fusion of Unit 01 and its pilot tore through the armor plating that separated NERV Headquarters from New Tokyo-3, its cover. Four translucent wings extended from the Eva's back. The Black Moon, the alien vessel that NERV HQ was built within, rose from the earth that had hidden it for 4,000,000 years.

"What the hell...?" "Madre de Dios..." "Gott in Himmel!" Seele's members controlled political parties and businesses, and directed the governments and economies of 12 nations. Despite their power, they felt impotent as they watched the images.

The Eva's hand touched the Black Moon, whose surface swirled around the fingers like mercury as it fused with the Eva. Suddenly, light shined from where the Eva touched the Black Moon. The records from the spy satellites ended as the satellites were destroyed by the released energy. The models faded away.

After more information was exchanged, Seele 05 asked, "How did Unit 01 activate its S² engine?" a super solenoid engine that could safely contain a thermonuclear reaction, providing as much energy as the sun.

"We had spliced strands of Lilith's DNA into the 1st Child. These genes were inactive, and were to remain inactive until Judgment Day. As Ikari activated the Eva, he apparently activated these genes as well."

"Was this intentional?"

"Unlikely. If Ikari had planned for this to happen, he would certainly have taken measures to insure its success. The fact that a 3rd Impact did not occur is proof that this was an accident."

"How can we prevent this from happening again? If the other Children..."

"The 1st Child alone has the x-factor that, we believe, allows Lilith to generate an anti-AT field."

"Nonetheless, we must find an alternate method to deal with the Angels..."

"There are none. Only another AT Field can neutralize an AT Field without causing excessive collateral damage. We cannot use nuclear weapons, as any weapon that is powerful enough to destroy an Angel, will simultaneously destroy what it was meant to defend."

Resigned sighs were heard. "Now, what can we do to repair the damage?"

"Unit 01 is lost to us. Therefore, we must recover Lilith and the Lance of Longinus."

"We will deploy the remaining Evas to prevent the Angels from interfering."

"Approved," said Keel.


Day One, Friday. 0820 hr, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). "Writing is a constant process of decision making, of selecting, deleting, and rearranging material..." droned the English professor as he read from 'The Holt Handbook'.

Shiro Bond, the Fourth Child, held his notepad at a 60-degree angle as he pretended to write notes. From memory, he drew the USS Harry S. Truman, the 1st stage of 'Metal Gear Revolution 2'. (Sea Dragons, Japanese Strategic Self-Defense Force Special Forces operators, used a variant of the game for training.)

Beep, beep! An incoming message activated the codec, a radio that was implanted behind Shiro's right ear, and which used his spine as its antenna. A video of James Bond, Shiro's grandfather, was projected onto the lower left corner of his eye. James continued to serve MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, as an antiterrorism specialist; the United Kingdom still needed him. "Black Knight," Shiro's codename, "this is Black Bishop, over." Shiro coughed twice to respond. "Black Knight, this is Black Bishop. White Bishop," John Mason, one of the MI6 operatives under James' command, "will tell Prof Dalton that you have a family emergency, and take you to White Rook," the code for MI6 HQ. The lie was necessary, as Shiro's identity as a NERV reserve pilot was a secret. "Black Knight, this is Black Bishop, out."

At 0825 hr, Mason entered in the classroom, and the professor excused Shiro from class. At 0835, security confirmed Shiro's identity, and allowed him to enter M's office. "What's the rush?" asked Shiro.

"At 0135 hr today, New Tokyo-3 was devastated by an explosion, which occurred during Evangelion Unit 01's activation test." James typed a command to the computer, and turned the monitor to Shiro. The monitor showed records of the incident at New Tokyo-3, which NERV had given to MI6. Simultaneously, the hologram projector, built into the desk, showed Unit 01 tear through the armor plating that separated NERV HQ from New Tokyo-3.

Shiro's face was an iron mask, but James could see the fear in his eyes. "How?"

"No one knows how or why. We only know that NERV wants you to pilot Evangelion Unit 04," stated M, Commander of MI6.

"And the dummy plug?" asked Shiro, referring to the computer core that was being developed to control Unit 04.

"Dr Akagi," director of the Dummy Plug Project, "is missing and presumed dead."

Shiro shook his head. "They played with fire, and they were burnt." He knew the Evas were clones of the alien that had caused the Second Impact in 2000, killing over 3,000,000,000 people. "Now they want me to play?"

"We have to fight fire with fire. We have no other options." James sensed Shiro's skepticism. "By the way, have you beaten the game?"

Shiro shook his head. "I have a bug problem."

"Ah, Psycho Mantis. Before you face him, call Campbell, Mei Ling, and Romanenko for help. Deepthroat will contact you, and give you a headset that will guard you against Mantis' telepathy." James must work behind his desk for 14 to 18 hours each day; the 'Metal Gear Revolution' games were the only things that made this tolerable. "I'm sending you to Lionheart," the Bonds' ancestral castle. "You have one week's time to beat the game." He sensed Shiro's surprise. "During this time, I'll prepare some documents which, I hope, will offer you some legal protection."

Shiro nodded. "Thank you, Grandpa."


1640 hr. Lionheart Castle was built upon an island, northwest of Scotland. It was linked to Scotland by a drawbridge on its east side; the bridge was raised at sunset, and lowered at sunrise. The castle was razed in 1647, during the English Civil War; James' grandfather ordered the reconstruction 1945, to remind his descendants to uphold the family honor. James inherited the still incomplete castle in 1963. Construction workers and scaffolding covered the north and east towers, like ants crawling on vines.

Desmond Llewelyn, Lionheart's caretaker, entered the stables. A Bentley Arnage limousine was parked there, a 30-year-old Caucasian male in the driver's seat, a 14-year-old Eurasian male in the passenger's seat. "Welcome home, Master Shiro!" After he shook Shiro's hand warmly, he waved at a servant. "Jack, take Master Shiro's luggage to the guestroom." He turned to Shiro. "What brings you back to Lionheart?"

"Grandpa is sending me abroad. He's given me some time to prepare myself before I leave."

Desmond nodded; he understood. "What would you like for dinner?"

"Beefsteak and lobster. By the way, how's the reconstruction?" asked Shiro.

Desmond shivered, despite the warm weather. "The Demon still screams for blood." According to legend, a demon was defeated by a knight-errant and imprisoned beneath the chapel. After the chapel was razed, her spirit began to haunt the land. "The contractors decided to finish the towers before they break ground for a new chapel. Damned fools don't have their priorities straight."

Shiro laughed. "Stop trying to scare me. I don't believe in demons."

Desmond laughed. "Liar! I remember when you first came here, after..." He paused; it was the wrong time to mention Shiro's parents. "Anyways, you used to take your tea and crumpets to the old chapel. When I asked you what you were doing, you said the ghost must be hungry, and you were trying to help her."

"Did I?" Shiro tried to remember...


Day Four, Monday. 1800 hr. Francisco Scaramanga rose to the water's surface. He saw the island and the castle. He saw the north tower, the tallest of the six towers, where his mark slept. A flashlight beam scanned over the walls. He dived to avoid detection, and swam to the shore. He clung to one of the rocks as he checked his watch. When he reconnoitered the place, disguised as a construction worker, he learned that the guards took predictable paths when they performed their security checks. At this time, they'd be at the west tower, too far away to stop him. He climbed out of the water, took off his scuba gear, and let it sink to the sea bottom. He crept towards the north tower and climbed the scaffolding. When he reached the walkway on top of the wall, he took off his wetsuit, revealing a uniform that was identical to the guards'. He threw the wetsuit away from the wall; it wouldn't be found until after he'd killed his mark and made his escape.

Scaramanga entered the north tower and approached the guestroom. When he reconnoitered the place, he saw a servant bring food to the room; the caretaker and the servants used a mess hall behind the kitchen. He had a flashbang grenade, disguised as a Glock 17 9 millimeter semiautomatic pistol, in a holster; if captured, he planned to use it to create a diversion, allowing him to escape. Now he placed the grenade onto the floor before he knocked the door.

"Bond," called Mason. Shiro paused the game and raised the VR goggles from his eyes. (A diesel generator supplied electricity to the castle.) Mason opened the door, a Walther P990 9 mm semiautomatic pistol in his hand. "Yes?"

"Good evening." Scaramanga raised a pair of sunglasses to his eyes, distracting the bodyguard. Then he kicked the grenade into the room. The bodyguard turned rearward, tracking the grenade. Scaramanga pressed a switch on the glasses, which detonated the grenade.

"Ahhhh!" screamed Mason and Shiro. Scaramanga entered the room, grabbed the bodyguard's head, and broke his neck.

"Mason!" When Shiro reopened his eyes, he saw Mason lying on the floor. He instinctively reached for the P990 in his shoulder holster.

His mark had recovered more quickly than expected. Scaramanga aimed his golden gun, a 4.2 mm single-shot pistol, at Shiro's heart. Bang! "Ahhhh!" The golden bullet penetrated Shiro's right hand and the pistol's handgrip. Shiro dropped the pistol as he was knocked over his chair.

Scaramanga hid his frustration as he approached his mark. This was the first time he had failed to kill his mark with one shot. Fortunately, he had disabled and disarmed his mark. Scaramanga removed a second bullet from his belt buckle to reload his gun. He noticed the VR goggles that rested on Shiro's forehead. "Game over, Mister Bond." He smiled as he squeezed the trigger; then Shiro kicked the chair towards Scaramanga's legs. As Scaramanga fell, Shiro ran through the door. "Damn." Scaramanga checked his watch as he stood up. The guards were still too far away to help his mark. Time was on his side. He ran through the door, following the trail of blood.


Shiro ran down the stairwell, ignoring the pain and the blood that flowed from his hand. 'I must get to safety, I must get to safety...' Clink, clatter! Shiro stopped running, and looked down. A teacup rested beside his foot. He was in the chapel's ruins. 'Stupid, stupid, stupid.' He had given in to his fear, despite his military training. Shiro growled to activate the codec. "Black Bishop, this is Black Knight, over."

A video of M's office, taken by a camera that was implanted in the right corner of James' eye, was projected onto the lower left corner of Shiro's eye; James didn't have time to turn on the web cam on his desk. "Black Knight, this is Black Bishop, over."

"Checkmate, checkmate, checkmate, over."

James gasped when he heard the codeword. "Checkmate received." He called the local police department before he asked his grandson, "Are you injured? Shiro? Shiro?"

Shiro couldn't answer James. A shadow reached for him; the assassin had found him. He touched the ground in search of a weapon, dotting the grass with blood. A dim blue light caught his attention. Shiro saw a sword with three gemstones embedded in its pommel. According to legend, Sir Yosho, the knight who defeated the demon over 700 years ago, had thrust the sword into the altar. Shiro reached for it.


Shiro looked to his right. 'Who...?'

'I am the Sword of Heaven and Earth. I serve Jurai.'

Shiro stared at the sword. 'Are you talking to me?'


Shiro shook his head. 'Blood loss has made me delusional.'

'Master, I will heal...'

"A sword?" Scaramanga approached his mark. "You insult me, Mr. Bond. I am an expert shot, and my bullet will certainly kill you before your blade can scratch me."

Shiro laughed, hiding his fear behind bravado. "Liar. If you were an expert, you'd have used an automatic, and I'd be dead by now."

"You were dead the moment you became my mark. It's time you acknowledged that." Bang!

The sword emitted a bright blue light as it parried the bullet. The light blinded Scaramanga, and he raised his left hand to shield his eyes. Slash! A red line, illuminated by the sword, appeared on Scaramanga's wrist. The line widened until his hand detached itself.

"I apologize, Mr. Bond. I underestimated..." Splash! Scaramanga's body split in half, spilling blood onto Shiro's feet.

"Shiro?" called James.

"The assassin is dead. I'm..." Shiro stared at his right hand. The bullet hole had become a thin cut. "I'm not sure what happened."

"Stay under cover until the police arrive."

"Black Bishop, this is Black Knight. Wilco," will comply, "over."

"Black Knight, this is Black Bishop, out."

Crumble! Shiro turned rearward. A clump of grass rose before it collapsed, revealing a rectangular hole. A demonic figure rose from a stone coffin and limped towards him.

"Halt!" Shiro raised the sword. "Who goes there?"

'She is the Summoner of Spirits,' answered the sword. 'Master, I will kill...' Thud! The figure collapsed onto the ground.

Shiro stepped forward and used his left hand to check for the figure's pulse. The sword illuminated a line that encircled the figure's face. 'A mask.' Shiro put down the sword before he carefully rolled the figure onto its back. The mask shattered when he tried to remove it. 'A girl?' Shiro lowered his ear to the girl's nose, and stared at her chest. Her breath was slow and shallow. 'Hypothermia!' Shiro took off his shirt and used it to cover the girl.

"Master Shiro!" called Desmond. He had found Mason's body, and had followed the trail of blood. "Mother of God!" When Desmond was a soldier, he'd served on peacekeeping missions in the Balkans; he'd seen bloodshed. Scaramanga's body was unlike anything he had ever seen.

"He fell apart," deadpanned Shiro. "Now call an ambulance!"


2000 hr. A Merlin HC3 search and rescue (SAR) helicopter landed before the police station as Apache AH3s, license built versions of the AH-64 Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller (VTDP) attack helicopter, circled overhead. Soldiers rushed out of the Merlin to form a perimeter around the station. Once they secured the perimeter, they contacted their commander, James, who marched into the station.

Shiro shivered as he told a police officer what happened two hours ago. James wasn't ashamed at Shiro's behavior; he himself had done so many years ago.

Shiro sensed someone approach him, and turned rearwards as he stood up. "Grandpa!"

"Shiro, return to the castle." As soldiers escorted Shiro to the Merlin, James studied the nameplate on the officer's desk. "Good evening, Lt Hamilton. I am from the Ministry of Defense." He showed his identity card to Hamilton. "I am taking custody of one Shiro Bond."

"Yes, Sir." Hamilton knew better than to argue with MI6.

"I am also asking you to report any information you have on this incident to MI6." He placed a business card on Hamilton's desk. "Here is a phone number and an email address. Call it, and an agent will contact you within 24 hours."

"Yes, Sir."

In the Merlin, a United States Air Force (USAF) officer handed Shiro a MK23 Mod 1 .45 ACP semiautomatic pistol, two additional magazines, and a holster. At the castle, James told Shiro what he knew. Mason was dead. Scaramanga, "The man with the golden harp," was a Cuban intelligence officer who, after Fidel Castro's death, became a professional killer. Roy Quarrel, the American test pilot, was killed in a terrorist attack six hours ago; James doubted the timing was coincidental. For his own safety, Shiro must leave England as soon as possible.

"And the girl?" asked Shiro.

"She's in stable condition, and has been transferred out of the ICU," intensive care unit. James heard the concern in Shiro's voice. "Do you really think it's safe to visit her? For all we know, she might have been Scaramanga's accomplice."

"My instincts tell me she's not my enemy."

James suppressed his doubt in Shiro's judgment; Shiro couldn't afford to doubt himself. "Very well."


Day Five, Tuesday. 1120 hr. "Roar!" Ryoko jumped upwards, her arm extended, and attacked. Clatter! Her fist shattered the lights, which showered her with glass. 'Where is he?!' She ignored the blood that flowed down her hands as she hovered above the hospital bed, searching for her enemy. Click! The door opened. Ryoko dived...

Shiro laid flat against the door, dodging Ryoko's punch. "Good morning."

Ryoko turned to the young man with Yosho's scent, her enemy's scent. Instead of a weapon, he held a bouquet of flowers in his hand. 'Food!' The fragrance reminded her how hungry she was. She forgot her mission and grabbed the bouquet. Something was in her way. She tore off the oxygen mask before she ate the flowers.

Shiro laughed. "Hungry?" He noticed the blood on Ryoko's right hand. "Nurse!" No one answered his call. Shiro took Ryoko's hand and led her to a storage room. He picked the lock, entered the room, and grabbed a bottle of antiseptic, a bag of cotton balls, a packet of gauze bandages, and a roll of tape. Shiro cleaned the blood off of Ryoko's right hand. The cuts were closing up. He wrapped the bandages around her hand and taped them in place.

Ryoko watched Shiro remove the intravenous needle from her left forearm and place the needle into a sharp box. 'Is he my enemy?' Shiro cleaned the blood off of her arm, placed a cotton ball over the red dot where the needle was, and taped the cotton in place. 'No.'

Shiro handed Ryoko a pair of slippers and set of scrubs. "Put these on."

"Nani?" Ryoko didn't understand English.

Shiro asked, "You speak Japanese?" in the same language.

Ryoko nodded. She didn't know what Japanese was, but it was similar to the Jurai language, which she understood.

"But not English?" Shiro watched Ryoko shake her head. "What are you doing in Scotland? Are you a tourist?" Sometimes, tourists tried to visit Lionheart. Sometimes, Desmond let them.

Ryoko shook her head. She didn't know what a tourist was.

Shiro decided to interrogate Ryoko later. "Put these on." He exited the room as Ryoko took off her hospital gown. A minute later, Ryoko joined him, wearing the scrubs. "Are you still hungry?" Ryoko nodded. "Come with me." He led Ryoko down the stairs, to the cafeteria on the 1st floor.

'Food!' Ryoko jumped towards the counters.

Shiro grabbed her left hand, stopping her. "Wait." He slid his credit card through the automatic register, paid for two meals, and handed Ryoko a tray. "My friend doesn't speak English," he explained to the food servers. "I'll serve as her translator." He turned to Ryoko. "What would you like?"

Ryoko had never smelled such fragrances before. Pepper, salt, and sugar were perfume to her. She pointed at everything.

"Sir, she can only have one meat," said the meat server.

Shiro handed a €20 bill to the server. "This should pay for it." The server took the bill and gave Ryoko beef, chicken, and fish. Shiro gave the same to the dessert server, who gave Ryoko cake, pie, and cookies. Ryoko had finished everything on her plate by the time Shiro sat down. She reached for one of the drumsticks on his plate. Shiro laughed. "Here." He handed her the drumstick.

As Ryoko raised the drumstick to her mouth, she froze. 'I've seen him before. Where...?' Images burst through her memories, as violently as bullets.


Ryoko remembered Kagato, her master. He ordered her to attack Jurai. "Bring me the Master Key." She remembered the blood she spilled and the fires she started.

She fought Yosho for his sword, the Master Key. He thrust it through her heart. Like mercury, the sword's energy flowed through her veins in search of her gems that she drew her power from. She screamed.

She projected her astral body outside of the coffin. The sword used the gems' power, her power, to imprison her. Her astral body was unable to free her physical body. Enraged, she haunted the castle. She saw a four-year-old boy, and howled.

The boy stared at her. "Are you hurt?" His eyes held no fear, only an emotion that Ryoko had never seen before: compassion. He followed her to the coffin, and tried to dig it out; when the servants stopped him, the boy's hands were coated with blood. "I'm sorry."

He placed a cup of brown liquid, and a plate of flat, round objects, before the coffin. "You must be hungry. Here."

A 75-year-old man led the boy away from the castle. "Goodbye." Ryoko cried.



"Thank you!" Ryoko jumped over the table to embrace him, to kiss him. A tubular object pressed against her abdomen. 'He's hard.' She rubbed her thigh against his crotch. 'Two...?' She broke off the kiss to look. Ryoko had never seen a firearm before, but she sensed that the metal object was a weapon, and was shocked that Shiro was willing to use it against her.

"You're welcome." Shiro holstered his MK23.

Ryoko looked into Shiro's eyes. They looked like the barrel of his weapon, cold and hard. "You've become a warrior."

Shiro laughed, treating Ryoko's comment as a joke.


1500 hr. "... take you to the Japanese embassy tomorrow, where you can report the loss of your passport," said Shiro, as he and Ryoko rode back to Lionheart. "You can stay here until you receive your new passport. I'll lend you some money for the plane..."

Ryoko didn't pay attention to Shiro's words. She looked into Shiro's eyes, searching for the compassion that she had seen when Shiro was four. It was visible, now that he no longer felt threatened.

"Master James is here, Master Shiro," said the chauffeur. An 85-year-old man approached the limo.

Shiro didn't wait for the chauffeur to open the door. Ryoko smelled the adrenaline flowing through Shiro's veins, preparing him for battle. "Grandpa!"

"What kept you?" asked James.

"My friend needed some new clothes." Shiro had taken Ryoko shopping, so she wouldn't have to wear the scrubs. "She also needs a translator and a ride to the Japanese embassy."

James' eyes were also cold and hard; Ryoko sensed that was the master who taught Shiro the way of the warrior. "I'll take care of that. Now get your bags." James led Shiro to the north tower.

Ryoko grabbed Shiro's hand. "Don't go!"

Shiro turned to Ryoko. "Miss?"

"I need... something that only you can give."

James thought Ryoko wanted attention and affection, things that women once wanted from him. "I'll give you 30 minutes to say goodbye. Make that an hour." He walked away from Shiro and Ryoko, towards the Merlin in the courtyard.

"I need your balls," said Ryoko.

Shiro laughed. "So soon? I haven't even bought an engagement ring, and you already want a baby?"

Ryoko blushed. "No! I need the gems in the Sword of Heaven and Earth, and only you can give them to me."

"Very well." Shiro led her to Desmond's office. "Good afternoon, Desmond."

"Good afternoon, Master Shiro!" Desmond turned to Ryoko. "Who's your lady friend?"

"This is Ryoko." Shiro noticed the sword, wrapped in cloth and placed on top of the bookshelf. "The police returned the sword?"

"Yes, Master Shiro. Guy-- Lt Hamilton is a childhood friend. He knows that Sir Yosho's sword is the lock that imprisons the Demon."

"May I see it?"

"Certainly!" Desmond stood on his chair to reach the top of the shelf. He watched Shiro unwrapped the sword. "Be careful, Master Shiro. The grip..." He was surprised when Shiro gripped it with no ill effect; Desmond hurt his hand when he gripped the sword, and had wrapped it for safety. "Never mind." He noticed the way that Ryoko looked at Shiro. "I'm going to talk to the contractors about the chapel. Just put the sword back on the shelf when you're done." He smiled as he exited the office.

Shiro stared at the pommel, stained by his blood. "I'll call a jeweler." He reached for a telephone book.

"You don't have to. Just hold the sword,"-- Ryoko put her hand over Shiro's-- "and order it to return the gems."

'Master, how may I serve you?'

'I'm losing my mind,' thought Shiro.

'Master, the Summoner of Spirits draws her power from the gems. If you return them, she will be able to generate Light Hawk Wings.'

'Leave him alone so he can give me my gems!' ordered Ryoko.

Shiro laughed. 'What harm can she do with the gems?' "Ahhhh!" The sword drew images from Ryoko's memories, and forced Shiro to see them.

"No!" Ryoko tried to pull her hand away from the sword. "Ahhhh!" The sword now drew images from Shiro's memories.


Ryoko was in a blue room, which seemed huge to her four-year-old body. 'Home?' The television played a kung fu movie. A heroic swordsman fought the evil woman who killed his brothers. Ryoko cheered, and a 37-year-old man cheered with her. 'Papa?'

A 29-year-old woman entered the room. 'Mama?'

"Dinner's ready!" She ordered Papa to turn off the TV. Ryoko threw a tantrum. Papa laughed and asked Mama to let her finish the movie. Mama put her hands on her hips. "Stop spoiling him!" She pretended to be angry, but Ryoko knew she'd give in.

Shadows reached for her. The windows shattered, scaring Ryoko. Men in black flew into the room. Papa reached under his coat, drew a pistol, and fired it. A man in black fell, dropping his machine gun. Other men in black fired their guns. Blood erupted from Papa's chest, like the fountain in the park.


Mama laid on top of Ryoko's body. Ryoko felt Mama's body shake, saw a red liquid flow from her mouth, and smelled something salty and metallic. She was scared, trapped beneath Mama's corpse, unable to free herself from the death that enveloped her.



"So much pain." Shiro's voice awakened Ryoko from the sword's spell. His eyes held compassion, born of sorrow. "I'll give you the wings, so you can fly."

Ryoko gasped as the power flowed from the sword, into her veins. She saw two of the gems appear on her wrists, like opening eyes. She felt the gem on her throat. "Yes! I'm complete...!" Ryoko stopped smiling. Shiro had turned his back to her as he placed the sword on top of the shelf. "Shiro?" He ignored her as he exited the office.

Ryoko became intangible, and flew through the door without opening it. The soldiers who guarded the Merlin screamed. She ignored them as she approached the north tower, tracking Shiro's scent. Click! Ryoko saw Shiro walk through a door, carrying a suitcase. "Shiro!" She embraced him, kissed him. "Thank you."

"You're welcome." His eyes were cold and hard again, hiding his compassion behind professionalism. He pushed her away and approached the stairwell.

"Wait!" She grabbed his hand. "Let me express my gratitude." Ryoko rubbed her breasts against Shiro's arm.

"I don't have time for this." He pulled his arm away and walked down the stairs.

Ryoko heard someone walk up the stairs. "Leaving already, Master Shiro?" asked Desmond.

"Yes." The sound of Shiro's feet became quiet as he walked away. He seemed to whisper the words, "Take care of Ryoko."

Ryoko hid her sense of surprise. 'I understand them. How...? Shiro's memories.'

Desmond stepped onto the floor. "Ah, Miss Ryoko! What would you like for dinner?"

"Where's he going?"

The sound of the helicopter's rotors permeated the hallway. "He's probably going to Japan..." Desmond gasped as Ryoko became intangible and flew through the wall. "I need some rest."


Day Six, Wednesday. 1100 hr, Pacific Time. "All circuits are operational." "The initial contact has no problems." "Power has been transmitted to the brachial muscle in..."

"Yawn..." Shiro struggled to stay awake. After he left Lionheart, he spent seven restless hours in the copilot seat of a B-3 Stormbringer bomber. When he arrived at NERV USA's 2nd branch at Lee-Figueroa Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada, he spent two hours taking a flight aptitude test; the Americans didn't believe that, in 60 days, Shiro had learned more from a Royal Air Force (RAF) veteran than he could from 52 weeks in flight school. After Shiro passed the test, he spent three hours at the infirmary, receiving a medical examination. Then he spent another hour at the pistol range, qualifying with the MK23. Now he was locked in Unit 04's cockpit, while...


Clang, clang, clang, clang, clang! Sparks flew from Ryoko and Shiro's blades as they locked their swords together, trying to overpower their opponent. Shiro could see his own anger on the mirror surface of Ryoko's demon mask. He could see Ryoko's eyes and mouth through the openings in the mask. They held no emotion, as if Ryoko was a stone statue, without a heart to give rise to emotions.

The pommel of his sword crashed against Shiro's chest as Ryoko overpowered him, pushing him back. Shiro's superior technique couldn't overcome Ryoko's superior strength and speed, it could only shield him as Ryoko slashed wildly. 'An opening!' Shiro dodged Ryoko's next attack and slashed her right arm.

"Howl!" Ryoko's Light Hawk (LH) Sword dissipated as she clutched her bleeding wrist. Shiro raised his sword...

"Argh!" He almost dropped the Sword of Heaven and Earth when the energy bolt struck his back. Ryoko quickly moved behind Shiro, pinned his arms to his sides, and spun 180 degrees. Shiro saw his real enemy's face. "Kagato!"

Kagato smiled. "Goodbye, Yosho." He lunged...


"Wake up!" screamed 2nd Lt Clifton James.

"Ahhhh!" Shiro drew his pistol. The Eva sensed his alarm; rails guided its pistol-- a 280 mm automatic cannon resembling the MK23-- from the weapons bay in its right vambrace, to its hand.

The cannon was aimed at the control booth on the hangar ceiling. Its muzzle was a shark's mouth, and Clifton was its lunch. He raised his arms to surrender. "Okay, okay, you can go back to sleep!"

Dr Holly Goodhead, an engineer from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), frowned at Clifton. "It's not loaded, dumbass." She turned to the monitor. "Everything's,"-- a warning appeared-- "not under control. Pilot Bond, I did not give you permission to start the S² engine."

Shiro hid his sense of surprise; he didn't consciously start the S² engine. "Will you give me permission to shut off the engine?"

Holly sighed. "Never mind. Get ready for takeoff." As Shiro returned the MK23 to the holster at his right thigh, Unit 04 returned its pistol to the weapons bay.

"Release the lock bolts." "1st lock bolt, released." "2nd lock bolt, released." "Remove the 2nd bindings." "Disengage safety locks, numbers one through 15." "S² engine is in the green." "Internal fuel cells are fully charged." "Fuel is at 100%." "Open the hangar doors." "Hangar doors are opening." "Runway is clear."

"Unit 04, you're cleared for takeoff," said Holly.

Shiro was trained to pilot Unit 02, which had two pedals to control the legs, and two sticks at his side to control the arms. Unit 04 had one stick at his right side, one stick in the center, and a throttle at his left side to control its thermonuclear turbines. He pushed the right control stick and stepped on the left pedal, ordering the Eva to swing its right arm forward as it stepped forward with its left foot. Then he pushed the throttle as he stepped on the right pedal. "Ahhhh!" The sudden thrust threw the Eva off balance, disconnecting the umbilical cable that provided electrical power to Unit 04. As it fell, Shiro ordered the Eva to curl into a ball. With surprising agility, the Eva rolled forward three times before it jumped back on its feet.

"Sigh." Holly doubted that Shiro was able to pilot Unit 04; apparently, he didn't know how to control it. "Just think of walking. You can think, can't you?"

"Yes, Madam." Shiro found the stick that controlled the left arm. The Eva began walking, faster and faster.

"Pilot Bond, decelerate," ordered Holly. "You're speed is excessive, and may result in..."

Shiro ignored the orders. His heart beat in sync with the Eva's, faster and faster, stronger and stronger... Unit 04 jumped. Shiro's instincts told him to push the throttle, and to press a switch on the throttle. The Eva transformed: the gorget swung over Unit 04's mask to form a nose cone, wings unfolded from the backplate, and tailplanes unfolded from greaves. The Eva-jet climbed like a rocket.

"Pilot Bond, what the hell are you doing?!" demanded Clifton.

"Performing my duties as a test pilot." Shiro smiled.

"Pilot Bond..."

Lieutenant General Charles Russhon, Junior, commander of the AFB, also known as Area 51, put his hand on Clifton's shoulder. "Let him be," ordered Russhon. "I want to see what the Eva's capable of." He watched the Eva perform loops, rolls, and other aerobatics.


1900 hr, Tokyo Time. Captain Katsuragi Misato emptied the coffee cup with one swig. Although she didn't enjoy eating at Macrossnald's, she didn't have the time to find another restaurant. She'd been working late, skipping meals, and losing sleep since...

'Don't think about it.' She couldn't let her grief distract her. She had work to do... after dinner. She closed her eyes as she raised the cheeseburger to her mouth.

"Ahhhh!" "Ghost!" "Get away from me!" Clatter!

Misato opened her eyes and put down the burger. The cashiers and customers had fled through the doors and windows. The only other person in the restaurant was a girl with blue-green hair and yellow eyes, wearing denim jeans and a leather jacket.

Ryoko approached Misato. "Where's Shiro Bond?"

Misato examined the girl. 'Shiro has a new girlfriend? She looks like What's-Her-Name Kinuko, that rock musician. Shiro likes rock music?' "Bond? He's in America." 'He's too damn secretive.'

"What?! You mean I flew 10,000 kilometers for nothing?!" (Ryoko could only teleport to locations she'd memorized.)

"Calm down! He-- he'll be here in three days."

"Three days?!"

Misato held the carton of French fries before Ryoko. "Are you hungry?" Ryoko grabbed the carton, tilted her head back, and dumped the fries into her mouth. 'My, what sharp teeth you have.' "You're welcome. Now, do you have a place to stay?

"Stay?" Ryoko frowned, thinking. "I can't stay. I want him now."

Misato sensed Ryoko's urgency, but she doubted that Ryoko was authorized to visit Lee-Figueroa AFB. "Then make him want you. Stay, and make him wait to see you. Make him miss you."

Ryoko remembered how coldly Shiro treated her. "Okay." 'I'll make Shiro love me.'

Misato smiled. "Great! I have a spare bedroom at my condo. You can stay there until Shiro arrives."

Ryoko returned the smile. "Thanks."

"By the way, I'm..." Di da di! Misato raised her cellular phone to her ear. "Katsuragi Misato... What?!"

Ryoko looked out the window. Although she didn't hear the warning that Misato received, she sensed something powerful approach the city.

Misato pocketed her phone. "Miss, there's an emergency. I..." She gasped as Ryoko became intangible and flew through the ceiling. "I need a vacation." Misato ran through the door, towards her car.


1210 hr, Pacific Time. Unit 04 dived, pointing a finger at the F-22 Raptor fighter that flew chase. The radar and infrared (IR) sensors were tracking the Raptor; Shiro was confident that he could destroy any enemy interceptors. Unit 04 flipped backwards, moved behind the Raptor, and began chasing its chase plane.

"Pilot Bond," called Russhon. "We've received a priority one message from NERV." A tense moment of silence followed as he glanced at the image from the satellite. Russhon still doubted his own eyes. "An Angel is attacking Tokyo."

Shiro concealed his shock. He thought he had more time to prepare himself before the Angels returned. "In a bit of a rush, aren't they?"

"Return to base," ordered Russhon. "Refuel and rearm."

Unit 04 landed vertically, its legs extended and its turbines blazing. It entered the hangar, where argon was sprayed to cool down its armor. After the inert gas dissipated, airmen attached a grounding cable to the Eva's right heel before they refueled Unit 04.

"Fuel is at 100%."

Four trucks, each carrying two pistol magazines, stopped at the Eva's left side. Shiro grabbed a magazine, examined the shells within it, and inserted it into a pistol's magazine well. He loaded the other pistol and placed the remaining magazines into the six "ammo pouches" on the Eva's breastplate. The trucks drove away, and were immediately replaced by four more trucks, each carrying a four-missile launcher for the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). Although Shiro doubted the missiles would be effective against the Angel, he loaded the launchers into the weapons bays on the collarbones.

"Performing self-test of missile system... System is go."

"Pilot Bond, we are reprogramming the guidance system to take the optimal flight path to New Tokyo-3," noted Holly. "Do not, I say again, do not attempt to fly it by yourself. At Mach five plus, one microscopic mistake on your part will magnify itself to colossal and catastrophic proportions."

Russhon shut off the radio and turned to Holly. "Is the system reliable? Can the Eva fly at hypersonic speed without destroying itself?"

"I don't know, Sir. We used a variation of the X-43's guidance system, but we didn't have time to perform beta testing on the system. As for the Eva's structural integrity... Well..."

"So for all we know, Evangelion Unit 04 is a $100,000,000,000 snowball with Pilot Bond rolled up inside it, and we're about to drop it in hell."

"Yes, Sir."

Russhon sighed. "We have to give it a chance. Is the reprogramming complete?"

Holly glanced at the monitor. "Yes, Sir."

Russhon looked into the hangar. Unit 04 had armed itself, and the trucks had exited the hangar. He turned on the radio. "Unit 04, you're cleared for takeoff."


1920, Tokyo Time. Misato gripped her silver cross, her only weapon against the despair that had invaded her heart, as she stared at the images she received from the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Sachiel, Angel of Water, was approaching the crater that was NERV HQ; it ignored the fighters that strafed and bombed it from the air, and the tanks that shelled it from behind. Colonel What's-His-Name, the Japanese Strategic Self-Defense Force (JSSDF) liaison, was screaming at her. She ignored him, refusing to let him use a N² bomb against the Angel.

Beep, beep! 1st Lt Hyuga Makoto, an intelligence specialist who served under Misato, answered the phone. "Ma'am, it's the Americans! They've scrambled Unit 04...!"

"Which will arrive two hours later," finished Misato. "By then, it will be too late."

"Deploy the N² bomb," a non-nuclear weapon whose power rivaled that of a tactical nuclear weapon, "immediately!" screamed What's-His-Name.

Misato laughed. Despair was victorious. "What's the point? The N² bomb will kill us before it'll kill the Angel."

"But it will kill the Angel." His face became red with anger as Misato continued to laugh. "Stop it, stop it, stop it! I...!"

"Ma'am!" called Makoto. "The Angel has been engaged!"

Misato turned to the monitor. A 40-meter-tall humanoid was shooting energy bolts at the Angel, which staggered under the attack. "Is that Evangelion Unit 04?"

"I don't know, Ma'am. It's not responding to the IFF," identification friend or foe, "interrogator, and I can't contact the pilot, whoever he is."

The humanoid's head looked like a human head. Misato noticed that its mouth was opening and closing, as if it were talking. She opened the command and control (C²) vehicle's door to hear the humanoid's voice.

Ryoko's voice thundered in the C² vehicle. "... city is Shiro's city!" Boom! "It's where he'll fall in love with me!" Boom! "Now get lost!" Boom!

"She even looks like a Knight Saber," deadpanned Misato.

The liaison joined Misato outside the C² vehicle. "What...?"

"A Knight Saber, from that movie with What's-Her-Name Kinuko."

"That thing is Omori Kinuko?!"

"No, she's the new girlfriend." Misato turned to the liaison. "Leave her alone."

The liaison decided to take Misato's advice, and ordered the JSSDF air and ground forces to disengage the Angel.


Bony spines extended from the Angel's wrists and elbows as Ryoko formed a LH Sword in her right hand, transferring energy from defensive systems to the offensive. Crash! The sword locked together with the spines on both of the Angel's wrists. Flash! The Angel shot an energy bolt from its eyes. Ryoko formed a sword in her left hand and used it to parry the bolt. She continued the sword's movement, swinging it at the Angel's side. Sparks flew as the sword cut into the Angel's AT field. The Angel rolled to its left, away from its enemy. It was too late; blood flowed from a deep cut on its right arm. "Game over!" Ryoko charged...

"Howl!" A whip lashed her back, knocking her onto the ground. The whip encircled Ryoko's neck and lifted her into the air. The Angel took advantage of this, and shot a hail of bolts at her. Ryoko desperately parried the bolts with her left hand, as she gripped the whip with her right hand. The pressure against her throat became lighter. Ryoko heard a shriek as she cut the whip in two. As the Angel charged, she launched herself into the air and removed the whip from her neck, preparing herself for another attack. Strangely, Sachiel ignored her; he attacked Shamshel, Angel of the Sun, and the one who whipped her.

"Victory!" Ryoko shot the two Angels. They turned towards her as one, and returned fire. "Shit!" Ryoko somersaulted backwards, dodging the bolts. Shamshel rocketed towards her, followed by Sachiel.


2120 hr. Unit 04's armor glowed fiery red as it dived, a shooting star lighting up the sky. Shiro saw a humanoid, a giant bird, and a giant squid fight each other. Although Ryoko had transformed into a demon, Shiro was still able to identify her. He recovered control from the guidance system, and altered the flight path. Unit 04 dived towards Sachiel, its right hand closed into a fist, its arm extended.

Boom! The kinetic energy of a 216,634 kilogram object traveling at Mach 5.05 (6184.79 km/h at sea level) was 4143.30 gigajoules; Unit 04's AT field generated 4181.72 GJ. The Eva's punch, focusing 1.98973 kilotons of energy like a laser instead of spreading it like a light bulb, penetrated Sachiel's AT field, worn away by its battle with Ryoko and Shamshel. A clattering sound, like shattering glass, was audible when Unit 04 touched the Angel. Sachiel's S² organ exploded, throwing Unit 04 away from the scattered pieces of its body.

"Ahhhh-howl!" Shiro's voice fused with the Eva's as Unit 04 landed on its back.

Ryoko hovered over the Eva, aiming her sword at its throat. It smelled like an Angel, but it looked like the suits of armor that were displayed in Lionheart Castle. 'Where did it come from? Is it my enemy?'

Shiro turned on the loudspeakers. "Hello, Ryoko."

"Shiro!" Ryoko's swords dissipated as she lifted the Eva onto its knees and held its head to her breasts. Screech! "You came for me!" Shiro clenched his teeth as Ryoko's bony armor scratched Unit 04's mask.

"Pilot Bond!" Misato's voice flooded the cockpit. "Stop playing around! The Angel...!"

Shiro sensed the Angel approach him. He pushed Ryoko onto the ground, out of his line of fire.

"Hey...!" Ryoko's eyes followed Unit 04's arm. Shamshel hovered above Sachiel's corpse. Dead tissue flew to Shamshel, and was given new life. AMRAAMs and 280 mm shells detonated harmlessly, uselessly, against the reinforced AT field that the Angel generated during its transformation. Finally, the fusion of the two Angels rocketed towards them.

Unit 04 embraced Ryoko. Together, they rolled out of the Archangel's path. "That was fun," deadpanned Shiro. Unit 04 jumped onto its feet and reloaded its pistol-- the ejected magazine deployed an airbag landing system, preventing damage so it could be reused-- to circle and strafe the Archangel. Flash, flash, flash! Shiro tried to jump over the bolts, but Unit 04's turbines, now pumping from empty fuel tanks, were unable to raise him high enough. Unit 04 tumbled onto the ground, tossed around by the Archangel's barrage. "Howl!"

"Shiro!" Ryoko charged. Flash, flash, flash! She parried the bolts and continued the sword's movement, swinging it at... Whip! A tentacle encircled her neck. 'Help!' The tentacle strangled Ryoko, trapping that word within her mouth. The Archangel raised its lower right arm. A spine extended from the wrist, reaching for her heart...

Unit 04 rammed its shoulder into the Archangel's side. Crash! Ryoko crawled away from the tangled arms, legs, and tentacles. "Cough, cough!" Thud! Ryoko turned rearward. The Archangel had thrown Unit 04 off of its body. "Shiro!" She charged. Boom! "Howl!" She painfully crashed into the Archangel's AT field.

The Archangel ignored Ryoko as its tentacle encircled Unit 04's neck and lifted its doppelganger off of the ground. It was more efficient to kill its enemies one by one. The doppelganger howled as electrical energy flowed from the tentacle. The pain spread from the neck, down the spinal cord, down to every nerve in the doppelganger's body. If the Archangel had lips, they'd have curled into a smile.

"Shiro!" Ryoko's fists struck harmlessly, helplessly, against the AT field. "No!"

Slash! "Shriek!" The Archangel's tentacle became a fountain of blood. Unit 04 had focused its AT field into a sword, the same way Ryoko had focused her LH Wings. The sword circled and silenced the Archangel. Unit 04's feet touched the ground and stepped backwards.

"Shiro?" Ryoko stood beside Unit 04, shielding it with her own LH Wings.

Splash! The Archangel's body split apart, spilling blood onto Ryoko and Unit 04's feet.

"He's a bit on edge," deadpanned Shiro. His chest felt tight; as he put his hands over his chest, he saw a red liquid flow upwards, into his line of sight. 'Am I dying?' The young man wasn't surprised by this possibility, but by the serenity with which he accepted it.

Ryoko saw the Eva kneeled down and put its hands over its chest, as if it was praying. Concerned, she entered Unit 04's cockpit. "Oh my God! Shiro...!"

"I'm fine."

"It smells like blood!"

"It's the LCL. The liquid fills the cockpit and feeds oxygen to my lungs." Shiro's blood had dissolved in the LCL, making the lie credible.

Ryoko smiled. "In that case, let's celebrate!"

"Celebrate what?"

"Your victory!"

Shiro returned the smile. "I can never say, 'No,' to a lady..." He closed his eyes and fell asleep.

"Sigh." Ryoko embraced Shiro. 'Sleep, and sleep peacefully, my dear. I'll protect you.'


To be continued...