Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction / Tenchi Muyo Fan Fiction / Transformers Fan Fiction ❯ Death is Never the End ❯ Chapter 6

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

1120 hr. "Why did you run away?" asked the policeman.

"To stay was suicide," answered Shiro. "The assassins may have another team in place."

The policeman recorded the answer on a notepad. "How did you survive the bombing?" A video of the incident, taken by a security camera, ended when an EMP destroyed the camera.

Shiro shrugged. "The bomb was poorly constructed," he guessed.

Misato hid her fear; AT fields generated EM radiation. 'Only an AT field could suppress the blast. If Ryoko didn't generate that field, who did? Shiro?'

"Is there anything else you would like to tell us, Plt Off Bond?"

"Yes. The fourth assassin said, 'Banzai!' before he detonated the bomb."

The policeman raised an eyebrow. "10,000 years?"

"A kamikaze pilot's last words."

The policeman's expression changed to one of anger. "You must be mistaken. A chink cannot understand the noble sacrifices those brave men made during World War Two."

"A sacrifice made for a tyrant is ignoble," countered Shiro.

The policeman growled as he lunged. "Shiro!" warned Misato. The young man calmly dodged the punch, grabbed the policeman's wrist, and pulled. The policeman howled as his face struck the floor. "What the hell are you doing?!"

Shiro aimed his MK23 at the unconscious policeman. "Defending myself."

"Put down the gun. We're not your enemy."

"Really?" Shiro's voice was mechanical, inhuman.

"Why won't you trust me?" asked Misato. Shiro answered her by exiting the office. "Why?!" she cried, broken by the guilt of a crime she didn't commit. "What secrets have I hidden? What lies have I told? What treason have I committed?" She stared at the ceiling, as if the heaven above would reveal the answer.

Heaven had no answer for her.


"Gott in Himmel!" exclaimed Toji, unknowingly imitating Asuka. "Maiko was in that hospital!" before she was transferred. He scratched his shoulder, uncomfortably reminded of his pistol and what it symbolized.

Asuka gently put her hands on Toji's shoulder. "Calm down..."

"I can't! If the fucking commies can attack Tanaka in the hospital, what's stopping them from attacking us at school?! If they bomb the classroom to get at us, my friends' blood will be on my hands!"

Asuka put her hands on Toji's cheeks, turning his head towards her. "We won't let that happen." She placed his hand on her cheek. "I have faith in you; have faith in yourself."

Knock, knock! "Pilot Suzuhara," called Kensuke.

Toji frowned at the thin man in the blue uniform. "Who the fuck are you?"

Kensuke posed, like a woman before a mirror. "I'm Fg Off Kenneth Jones, of the Royal Air Force. I'd like to speak with you about the security arrangements."

Toji knew Kensuke was disguised as a RAF officer, but this was the first time he'd seen his friend in disguise. He suppressed a gasp as he turned to Asuka. "I'll be back."

"Be careful," warned Asuka. "He's gay."

After Toji exited the room, he asked, "Are you...?"

"I'm not gay," answered Kensuke. "The act is meant to ward off the Americans."

"Does it work?"

"Are the Americans shooting at us?"

"No," answered Toji.

"It works." Kensuke led Toji into the arcade, and slid his credit card across a scanner. After the game began, he said, "There's evidence that the JSDF is behind the assassination attempts." He heard Toji gasp. "I don't know if the JSDF is really trying to kill Bond, or if someone, maybe Bond, had fabricated the evidence in order to discredit the JSDF."

"What kind of evidence is there?" Toji couldn't hide the fear in his voice.

"Radio communications, recorded during the Angel attacks, stating that JSSDF planes had targeted Evangelion Unit 04. MOD documents comparing our current military capabilities with China's, and analyzing the Eva's defensive and offensive value; they end with the statement, 'An Overtechnology-equipped Evangelion is vital to Japanese national security.' DIH reports stating that, if the American pilot dies, NERV will override the Americans' objections and replace him with the next available pilot." Kensuke turned to Toji. "You're the next available pilot." (Kensuke didn't find records of Osato transferring money to Scaramanga, which were deleted.)

"You mean the JSSDF plans to kill Tanaka, replace him with me, and have Unit 04 and I join the JSSDF?"

"Maybe, maybe not."

Toji ignored the "TIME OUT" on the monitor. "You're making me paranoid."



"The plane's sensors detected an AT field at the hospital." reported Holly. (The base sensors were inoperable because of Iruel's attack.) "If Plt Off Bond is able to generate an AT field, we should transfer him to a research facility and..."

"Hell no!" interrupted Russhon. "We cannot afford to lose our best pilot when two alien armies are screaming for our blood!"

"Then I propose the extraction of stem cells from Plt Off Bond. If we inject them into other pilot candidates..."

"Hell no!"

"But the future of our great nation..."

"If we're tempted to use 14-year-old kids as Guinea pigs in a disgusting genetic engineering experiment, then we don't deserve a future!" Russhon expressed his anger like a stealth bomber opening its bomb bay doors.

Holly sighed. "Yes, Sir."

Contrary to Holly and Russhon's views, the transport plane's radio wasn't as secure a communications line. Zorin received a transcript of their dialogue within ten minutes.



An Evangelion crossover by Sidewinder (, 2003, last revised 2007. Based on Ian Fleming, Kawamori Shoji, Fujishima Kosuke, AIC, Gainax, Hasbro, Marvel, and Takara's works.


Day 24, Sun. 1650 hr. Ryoko held Shiro's hand as Dr Karl Mortner took a bone marrow sample from the man she loved. "Does it hurt?" she asked.

"It will not," answered Mortner. "I gave him a mild painkiller."

The Eva pilot sensed Ryoko's suspicion, and saw her angrily glare at Mortner. "I'm fine," Shiro added. He gently squeezed Ryoko's hand, assuring her.

Mortner smiled as a thick red liquid filled the syringe. "Excellent." He removed the needle. Agent Smith, who wore a nurse's uniform, bandaged Shiro's arm. "You are dismissed, Pilot Bond." Shiro put on his shirt and tie before he led Ryoko out of the lab. Mortner emptied the syringe into three test tubes. Smith placed one tube into a refrigerator, and the second tube into a briefcase, which he carried out of the infirmary. Mortner held the third tube in his hand as he picked up his satellite phone.

"Report," demanded Zorin.

"I have extracted 45 milliliters of stem cells from the 4th Child. I am delivering 15 mL of the sample to you, through an armed courier. I will store 15 mL of the sample at the lab here. The remaining 15 mL..." Mortner gasped as the test tube became warm; the stem cells had formed themselves into an embryo.


"The third sample... will be experimented upon," finished Mortner.

"Very well." Zorin hung up his phone.

Mortner smiled as the embryo writhed within the test tube, fighting its confinement.


Day 25, Mon. 0720 hr. Hikari stood by the classroom door, waiting for Toji. 'Where is he?' She was attracted to the athletic boy, although she hid this emotion from her classmates. Her attraction became admiration after the Incident, when she learned that Toji was a caring and understanding young man, with whom she wanted to grow old with. She hid this emotion because she didn't know how to handle it; she planned to express it when she grew older.

Asuka's appearance forced Hikari to change her plans. 'Is he with Asuka?' She envied the German girl, who seemed more mature, and more beautiful. Asuka was intelligent, educated, cultured, and worldly; Hikari felt like an ignorant country hick in comparison. 'Is he...? No! He can't! I won't let him!' Poisonous envy filled her heart.

Hikari suppressed her jealousy, and a relieved sigh, when Toji and Kensuke entered the room; she no longer believe the rumors that the boys were gay lovers. 'I'll make you mine!' She approached Toji. "Suzuhara-kun, I just heard about the terrorist attack at the hospital! Is Maiko okay?"

Toji stared at the class president; this was the first time he'd ever seen her so concerned, so afraid for someone else. "Mai-chan's fine; she was released Friday evening."

"Oh." Hikari smiled. "That's great! I..." She paused. 'Should I tell him? No.' "We must plan a party to welcome her home! I'll invite all of your friends..."

"I don't have enough friends to party with," interrupted Toji. Kensuke turned to his friend, his eyes full of guilt and remorse; Toji was the only one who was willing to befriend him, the filthy half-breed with the American mother, and the boy was ostracized for this.

Hikari's eyes matched Kensuke's when she remembered Toji's social problems. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be." Toji approached his desk.

The girl approached the boy, desperately seeking a way to stay with him. "I..."

"Guten Morgen, Toji," interrupted Asuka. She turned to Hikari. "Guten Morgen, Fräulein Horaki."

"Ohayo, Soryu-kun," greeted Hikari, countering the German girl's foreign influence. She suppressed a frown when she noticed Toji's mood lighten in Asuka's presence.

"Hi, Asuka."

"How's your sister?"

"Mai-chan's fine. She misses you, though; she keeps asking when you'll come over to see her."

'She used to ask that about me,' thought Hikari, feeling betrayed.

"No problem; I'll come by on..." She opened her notebook to check her schedule. "Friday. Maybe we should plan a party?"

"I don't have enough friends to party with."

"We'll get you some friends," insisted Asuka. "I'm sure Shiro can convince 90% of the girls here to come to the party." She smirked. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

Toji answered, "Yes," without hesitation. "I mean, no!" he protested, after his brain recovered control from his penis. "I love you, only you!"

Asuka threw back her head and laughed. "Silly boy!" She put her hand behind Toji's head. "I know you do." She pulled Toji towards her, until their lips met in a passionate kiss.

Jealous rage filled Hikari's heart. 'Why do you love her, Toji? She's a whore! She'll...' Hikari wanted to stop them, but she didn't know how.

The teacher's appearance gave her an answer. Hikari turned to him, embarrassed at her brief dereliction of duty, before shouting, "All rise!" She hid her joy at Asuka and Toji's embarrassment as the two broke off their kiss. "Bow! Take seat!"

As the class president scanned the room for late or absent students, she saw Kensuke hand a DVD to Shiro. 'A video game?' An idea formed in her mind as she watched Shiro slip the DVD into his briefcase.


1200 hr. "All rise! "Bow! Take seat!" Hikari approached Kensuke the moment the teacher left. "Aida-kun," she called as she grabbed his arm. "I'd like to have a word with you."

Mana approached Toji, who was talking to Asuka. "Suzuhara-kun, shouldn't you do something?"

Toji turned to the other girl. "What?"

Mana pointed at Hikari, who was dragging Kensuke out of the room. "She's taking away the man you love! Don't you feel jealous?!"

Toji blushed, amusing Asuka. "I'm not gay!"

Asuka laughed. "Of course you're not." She grabbed Toji's head, turned it towards herself, and kissed him.

'So the Jack of Hearts is in love with the Jack of Clubs,' thought Mana. She turned to Shiro, who was approaching the door. Although Mana couldn't see Shiro's face, she could read his body language; the young man was angry and jealous, although he chose not to express this in front of his ex-girlfriend. 'I wonder if this can be used against the Jack of Spades.' Her interest increased when a cell phone rang. When Mana saw Toji remove the phone from his pocket, she immediately reached for her own phone, which the DIH had modified to intercept microwave transmissions.


"What's going on between Toji and Soryu?" demanded Hikari.

"Toji and Asuka? They're,"-- 'having sex,'-- "in love," answered Kensuke.

"Impossible!" protested the girl. "She's only been here for four days!"

Four days ago, Kensuke would've cowered in the face of Hikari's rage. Now he simply shrugged; he now knew there were more dangerous things than a jealous girl. "I guess four days is enough time to fall in love."

Hikari angrily pushed him against the wall. "No! I don't believe that! I won't! I love Toji! I deserve him, not that foreigner!"

Kensuke shrugged again. "Maybe you should act like a foreigner; that might attract his attention."

Hikari wanted to slap Kensuke for that remark. She drew back her hand to do so...

'Yes... he has hurt you... hurt him... punish him... sacrifice your humanity for the power to punish him...'

Hikari stopped when she saw her reflection in Kensuke's glasses. The face she saw was a grotesque mask, deformed by jealous rage. 'I'm not like that...' She released the boy. 'I'm not a monster.'

Kensuke watched Hikari walk away. "Girls." He shook his head as he approached the classroom.


1220 hr. Hikari waited in the checkout line, holding a sandwich. Although she had prepared lunch for herself, the lunchbox was still in the classroom, and she didn't want to see Toji with another girl.

"Good afternoon, Madam."

Hikari gasped; she didn't hear the boy's footsteps. She turned around. "Good afternoon, Tanaka-kun." 'I almost forgot about my plan!' to make Toji jealous by dating Shiro, which would make the boy break up with Asuka. "How's your grandmother?"

Shiro was surprised by Hikari's concern. 'If Grandma was alive...' "She's fine," he smiled, "as long as she remembers to take her medication." He looked past the girl. "Are you in line?"

Hikari turned to the impatient clerk behind the cash register. "Oh, sorry!" She placed the sandwich on the counter and reached for her wallet. A hand reached from behind her, sliding a credit card across the scanner. Hikari turned to the one who'd paid for her lunch. "Tanaka-kun, you didn't have to..."

Shiro silenced her with a smile. "I must, for I am a gentleman."

Hikari returned the smile. 'Maybe I forget about Toji and date Tanaka-kun. I don't think Dad will mind the fact that he grew up in England; Japanese blood still runs in Tanaka's veins, after all.' She put a hand over her cheek, trying to hide the fact that she was blushing. 'What am I thinking?!'

"Are you all right, Madam?"

"I'm fine!" She followed him out of the student store. "Tanaka-kun, do you have a girlfriend in England?"

"No." Shiro's answer raised Hikari's hopes. "I'm dating a resident of Tokyo."

"Oh." Hikari tried to hide her disappointment. "Is it Asuka?"

Shiro's intense stare frightened the girl. "Whatever gave you that idea?" he asked in the chilling tone military intelligence officers used to interrogate prisoners.

Hikari shuddered as Shiro unknowingly intensified his aura of fear, one of his inherited powers. "Y-you watch Asuka whenever she's not watching, with a wistful look in your eyes... like you want her, but you think she's beyond your reach." Her knees felt weak as Shiro approached her, his face an iron mask.

"Clever girl." He smiled, recovering a human appearance. "The love between us was like a wildflower, beautiful and radiant, but doomed to die. I still care for Asuka, but she's chosen to move on. So must I."

The words haunted Hikari. 'Like a wildflower... doomed to die.'


1620 hr. "But I hardly get to see you anymore!" protested Maiko.

Toji sighed. "I'm sorry, Mai-chan. I promise I'll make up for this one time."

"That's what you said on Saturday and Sunday!"

"I..." A hand grabbed Toji's cell phone. "Hey! Give it back!"

Mortner shut off the phone. "You can talk to your sister later. We have work to do."

Toji grunted in frustration as he sat on the hospital bed and extended his right arm. He stared at Mortner's bald head, acting macho, as the doctor injected something into him.

"Excellent." Mortner put away the syringe. "Put on your uniform and enter Unit 02."

"Yes... Sir." 'Why am I here?' he asked himself as he entered the Eva cage. Toji saw Asuka in the control booth, smiling at his courage. 'Because she's here.' He smiled at the girl as he entered Unit 02's cockpit.

"Activate," ordered Mortner.

The technicians' voices flooded the booth. "Connect the main power supply with all of the circuits." "Main power supply has been connected. Start the activation system." "Voltage increasing to the critical point..." "Pilot has commenced joining." "Start system phase two." "Synapses inserted. Junction started." "Pulses transmitted." "All circuits are operational."

Misato and Asuka watched Toji undergo another synchronization test. "Don't worry," assured Misato, sensing the girl's concern.

Asuka frowned. "Why do you care?" she bitterly countered. "Are you worried that Dr Mortner might play too roughly and break your little toys?"

Misato suppressed the urge to slap the girl; Asuka's anger was understandable, if misplaced. "I don't see you or Toji as toys. I see you as human beings..."

"You don't treat us as human beings," protested Asuka.

Misato sighed. "I'm not like Commander Fuyutsuki..."

"You work for him; you're guilty by association."

Misato threw up her arms in frustration. "Damn it, Asuka! What do you want from me?!"

Toji closed his eyes to calm himself, unaware of the argument between Asuka and Misato. 'Be cool, be cool, be cool...'

'My sweet little A--'

Toji opened his eyes, seeing the darkness within the cockpit. A woman emerged from the darkness. Her hair fell over her face, covering it. "Who...?'

'Come with me,'-- as the woman spread her arms to embrace Toji, her hair parted to reveal four eyes and razor-sharp teeth, the hidden features of Unit 02's face-- 'to heaven!'

The loudspeakers filled the booth with Toji's terror. "Ahhhh!"

"Pulses are beginning to flow back!" "Problems encountered on the 3rd stage. Rejection is setting in on the nerve center elements."

Misato and Asuka turned to the Eva. "Toji-kun!" "Toji!"


Maiko watched Tsukino Usagi transform into a goddess of love and justice, and imitated the cartoon character's pose. "I am Sailor... Ahhhh!" Her skin burned; the pain blinded her to the TV. Maiko knew Toji's heart and lungs were struggling to beat and breath; the Angel of Death had touched her brother. "Bro!"


The technicians panicked; they'd never seen a berserk Eva before. (The technicians who'd previously seen Units 01 and 02 go berserk were sent to mental hospitals, silencing them.) "Unit 02 is out of control!"

"Shut off the external power!" ordered Misato.

"Disregard that order!" countered Mortner. "Continue the experiment!"

Misato and Asuka turned to the doctor. "What experiment?!" they simultaneously asked.

A technician shouted, "The S² engine has been activated!" before Unit 02 broke free of the restraints. The Eva spread its arms as it approached the booth, like a mother coming to embrace her child.

Mortner failed to stop the screaming technicians from fleeing the booth. "How dare you abandon your posts!"

Misato grabbed Asuka's hand. "Come on!" Asuka forcefully freed her hand. "Asuka!"

The girl ignored the woman as she approached the window. She sensed Toji's pain, born of loneliness; a pain she knew all too well. "Toji! Don't give up, I'll save you!" 'Or die trying,' she didn't say, thinking of a way to help the boy.

The Eva gently laid its fingers upon the window, like a mother wiping away her child's tears. Its loudspeakers buzzed. "Asuka..." it called before its S² engine was deactivated.

"Toji!" Asuka grabbed a telephone headset. "Emergency crews to Cage 02, now!" She ran out of the booth, into the cage, to aid the paramedics.

Misato pushed Mortner against a console and aimed her USP at the doctor. "You owe me some answers, Doctor."


1635 hr. Ryoko was at the pistol range, where Shiro was teaching her marksmanship. (Fuyutsuki issued her a USP after she joined NERV.) She didn't think she needed to know how to use a USP, but she agreed to learn the fundamentals; she enjoyed feeling his body heat and hearing his heartbeat as Shiro stood behind her, enveloping her hands with his own.

"Adjust your natural point of aim..." Shiro felt Ryoko's cell phone vibrate. "Someone's calling you."

Ryoko suppressed a growl. "I'll call them back," she lied.

"It might be important," insisted Shiro.

Ryoko sighed as she raised the phone to her ear. "Ryoko."

"Thank God!" exclaimed Asuka. "We need your help; Toji's dying!"


"We're at the hospital! Room 303! Come quickly!" When Asuka saw Ryoko's intangible form emerge from the wall, she embraced the other girl, blocking the SPs' line of fire. "Thank God!" she exclaimed, as if Ryoko was a deity. After the SPs reluctantly lowered their weapons, Asuka pointed at the iron lung they guarded. "You have to help him!"

Ryoko was unable to conceal her shock; the iron lung resembled the coffin that was once her prison. Toji had coughed blood, which covered the observation window; although Ryoko couldn't see Toji's face, she knew it expressed terrible pain, the pain Shiro hid as an Eva's energy bombarded his cardiopulmonary system. "What happened to him?"

"He was undergoing a synch test when the Eva..." Asuka shivered, thinking that what happened to Toji could easily have happened to her.

"Did he get a blood transfusion or an organ transplantation?" continued Ryoko.


"Then why does he bear Shiro's scent?"


The SPs turned to each other. "Suzuhara fucked Bond? I thought he was fucking Langley?" "He's probably trying to hide it." "Maybe he's bisexual." "I thought Bond was hetero." "He's an Englishman; everyone knows that Englishmen are gay."

"Actually, I'm a Scot," corrected Shiro, who'd silently entered the room. He expressed no fear as the SPs instinctively aimed their M8s at him. "You should've kept an eye on the door. If I was an assassin, you'd already be dead." (Shiro, delivered outside the door, was searching for assassins.) He turned to Ryoko. "Why'd you ask about a blood transfusion?"

"Toji has your stem cells," answered Ryoko. "They're breaking down his body, giving themselves room to grow."

"Impossible!" protested Asuka. "Toji's immune system should've eliminated the stem cells before they began reproducing!"

"Shiro has Jurai blood. His cells hold Jurai energy, allowing them to overpower Toji's cells."

"What the hell is a Jurai?!" demanded Asuka.

"A galactic empire and the name of its capital," explained Ryoko. "The Jurai draw Jurai energy from royal trees, which they used to conquer and to rule 55% of the known galaxy."

Asuka was surprised. "I had sex with an alien?"

Shiro hid his sense of surprise; he'd never considered the possibility that he was related to Yosho. "I'm human," he insisted.

Ryoko put a hand on Shiro's shoulder, and felt his tension; the young man felt threatened. "I'm sorry, I..."

Shiro put a comforting hand over Ryoko's. "Don't concern yourself with this." 'The burden is mine to bear.'

Asuka decided not to dwell on Jurai, whatever it was. "How...?" She remembered the doctor who was recently transferred from NERV USA's 1st branch, who examined Toji before the test, and who supervised the test. "Mortner!" She looked into Ryoko's eyes. "Can you save him?"

Ryoko shook her head. "Only the Jurai can control the power in their blood."

Asuka suppressed her rage as she turned to Shiro. "Please..." The girl kneeled in an uncharacteristic gesture of humility. "Please save Toji."

Shiro took a knee and put a hand on Asuka's shoulder. "I will." He hid his pain, born of longing, as Asuka ran out the door.


Misato angrily stared at Mortner, who expressed no remorse over the pain he caused. "Why did you use Suzuhara Toji as a Guinea pig in your sadistic experiment?"

"I did so upon Defense Secretary Zorin's orders." Mortner glanced at the peacekeepers who guarded him, silently ordering the Acting Commander of UN NERV to dismiss them. "I wish to report the results of the experiment the Secretary."

"Very well," said Fuyutsuki.

Misato was shocked. "Sir...!"

Fuyutsuki stood up. "You're dismissed, Capt Katsuragi." He ignored the rage that permeated his office as Misato left. The peacekeepers handed him a pair of keys before they left. Fuyutsuki unlocked Mortner's handcuffs before he led the doctor to the communications room. He was surprised when the holograms of all 15 Seele members appeared in the room.

"Dr Mortner," greeted Keel. "I did not expect you to report so soon."

Mortner nodded in apology. "The first test was a failure. The Sixth Child was unable to incorporate the 4th Child's stem cells, which are now reproducing like cancer cells within his body. Although the 6th Child was able to attain a 99.999998% synchronization rate, he was only able to sustain this rate for 4.6 seconds. I advise more research on the Jurai energy that the 4th Child supposedly draws his power from, before we begin a second test."

"We don't have time for more research," hissed Zorin.

"We may not have enough pilots to expend on another failed test," noted Keel.

"And what of the other 707 candidates?" 707 was the code for the children who, conceived up to nine months before the 2nd Impact, were born with an x-factor allowing them to synchronize with an Eva.

"It is advantageous to have more test subjects," noted Mortner. "I advise using a minimum of ten candidates as the experimental group, and an equal number of candidates as the control group. We can perform the injections under the guise of flu vaccinations."

"That will take time." Keel turned to the other Seele members. "Can we afford such a luxury?"

"We must if we wish to succeed." The other members nodded in agreement.

"Very well." Keel turned to the Acting Commander. "Prof Fuyutsuki, you will assist Dr Mortner in the setup of the experiment."

Fuyutsuki hid his frustration as he answered, "Yes, Sir."

The holograms disappeared. "Excuse me, I have work to do." Mortner exited the room without another word.


Misato's rage permeated the Eva cage as she entered. "Goodhead!"

Holly turned away from the computer, which monitored the progress of Unit 02's repairs. "Yes, Capt Katsuragi?" She suppressed her fear as she looked down the barrel of a USP.

Misato ignored the M8s now aimed at her. "Why the hell did you use Suzuhara Toji for your sadistic experiment?! Answer me!"

Holly was surprised. "What experiment?"

"The one that's killing him!" shouted Asuka as she aimed her P229 at the engineer. "Where's Mortner?!"

Holly pointed her thumb at Misato. "Ask her." 'What happened?' she wondered as Asuka turned to the other woman.

"He's reporting to the US Secretary of Defense," explained Misato.

"I thought he worked for your commander," stated Holly. "Hanscom is under UN control, after all."

"How can I be sure you're not involved?" demanded Asuka.

"Charlie-- Gen Russhon ordered me not to perform genetic engineering experiments," answered Holly. "I disagree with him, but I follow his orders nonetheless."

Misato and Asuka simultaneously hissed, "Do you expect me to believe that?"

"No, but I expect you to believe in DARPA's security. If we planned such an experiment, we wouldn't conduct it in a NERV facility, where commie spies can walk as freely as they do in Tiananmen Square."

Misato was shaken by sadness, not fear of death, as Asuka turned to her; she was losing the girl's trust, and the friendship between them. "Asuka-chan, I'd never do anything to hurt you," she insisted.

"Even if it's for the future of the human race?" Asuka aimed her P229 at Misato. "I know you, Misato. I know you'd sacrifice your life to defeat the Angels, and I'm sure you'd sacrifice Toji, Shiro, and myself. Did you become a monster to defeat those monsters?" she sneered.

"I..." 'I'm willing to sacrifice you to defeat the Angels; I'm a monster.' Misato holstered her weapon. "I'm not your enemy." She waited for Asuka to do the same.

The Americans were silent. Holly was trying to answer the question, 'Have I become a monster?' The SPs aimed their M8s at Misato and Asuka, wondering, 'What the hell is going on here?'

"What the hell...?" Fuyutsuki entered the cage. "Pilot Soryu, what is the meaning of this?!" he demanded as the girl targeted him.

"Did you order Mortner to inject alien stem cells into Toji?" demanded Asuka.

Fuyutsuki was shaken by the girl's intense rage. He took a deep breath, suppressing his fear, before replying, "How dare you... Pilot Soryu, have you forgotten your place?! As a NERV officer, you must..." A .357 SIG bullet penetrated his left knee, knocking him onto the floor. "Ahhhh!" Fuyutsuki stared in shock at his wounded leg.

"I'm a Luftwaffe officer," insisted Asuka. "My place is in Germany, not in UN NERV." She aimed her P229 at the Acting Commander's head. "Now answer my question."

"The answer is above your security clearance," stated Fuyutsuki. He expressed no fear as Asuka squeezed the trigger.

"Noooo!" Misato lunged at the girl, knocking Asuka onto the floor. Sparks shot from the concrete as the bullet ricocheted off the floor, into the ceiling. "Ahhhh!" The girl slammed her left palm against the woman's nose, drawing blood. As Misato recoiled from the blow, Asuka aimed her P229 at the woman's head...

Bang! "Freeze!" ordered Holly, who'd fired her pistol at the ceiling. "Men, escort Oblt Langley out of the hangar."

"Arrest her!" ordered Fuyutsuki. "Soryu Asuka Langley, you are hereby charged with assault...!"

"Disregard that order," countered Holly. "Just keep her out of trouble."

Fuyutsuki's anger was fueled by the woman's disregard for his authority. "Dr Goodhead, according to UN Resolution 203233, the Stockholm Convention, and the Clinton Act," which placed US military personnel under the UN chain of command whenever they served on peacekeeping missions, "you and your men are under my authority. You and your men will obey..."

"Go to hell!" Holly instinctively aimed her pistol at Fuyutsuki. "We don't need your authority." She holstered her pistol.

Asuka glared at the NERV officers as she holstered her P229. "We'll finish this later."

Misato was shaken by Asuka's glare, by the "gun barrel" eyes that Shiro honed. 'Please, God, don't let her...' "Don't do this, Asuka-chan. I've seen too many people devoured by the darkness in their hearts, by their own rage and hatred," 'including myself.' "I don't want to see it devour you."

Asuka's eyes became colder. "I don't need to listen to your lies, Misato."

To the woman, the words were more painful than the broken nose; the loss of faith was more sickening than the taste of her own blood. "I'm not..." Asuka exited the hangar, denying Misato a chance to protest her innocence.

Holly glanced at the wounded man. "Escort Mr. Fuyutsuki to the infirmary," she ordered, refusing to address him by his title.

Misato collapsed onto the floor, crushed by the combined stress of the Angel and Valkyrie attacks, the assassination attempts, and the suspicion that was directed against her. Tears flowed down her cheeks as she mourned her loss.


1655 hr. Asuka waited in the hospital lobby; the SPs denied her entry into the Eva cages. "Our Father which art in heaven..." She prayed for Toji and Shiro's safety; it was the only thing she could do to help them.

"Soryu!" called Hikari as she entered the lobby. "What on Earth has happened to Suzuhara-kun?!" she demanded.

"Asuka-neechan!" called Maiko. "Is Bro okay?!" (She called Hikari immediately after she felt Toji's pain; they rode a taxi to the hospital.)

The questions felt like sledgehammer blows. Asuka tried to maintain a straight face as she said, "Don't worry; our best men are doing their best work to save Toji's life."

Hikari saw the apprehension in Asuka's eyes, and interpreted it as insincerity. "Liar!" She pushed Asuka against a wall, grabbed the coat collar, and pulled the lapels together, choking Asuka. "What have you done to...?" A tubular object pressed against her chest, pushing her away. "Gasp!"

"Believe me, if I knew what they planned to do to him, I would've done everything in my power to stop them." Tears flowed down Asuka's cheeks as she holstered her P229.

Hikari suppressed her anger; she knew Asuka was willing and able to shoot her. "Whom are you talking about?"

"NERV," answered Maiko. "Bro's an Eva pilot."

"Eva-- that robot?" guessed Hikari.

"It's not a robot, it's a monster." Asuka's voice was full of hatred towards NERV, Unit 02, and herself. "And it's eating Toji alive."


Shiro and Ryoko examined the x-ray of Toji's chest. The heart and lungs were Norman beachheads on June 6, 1944; Shiro's stem cells were Allied soldiers, fiercely fighting against Toji's tissues; Jurai energy was artillery, bombarding the organs to support the stem cells. "Damn you."

Ryoko sensed Shiro's distress, and put her hand on his shoulder. "Don't blame yourself; you cannot choose what kind of blood flows through your veins."

"I should've known about the Jurai energy," stated the young man. "Now Suzuhara is paying the price for my ignorance." He turned to Ryoko. "How do I control it?"

"You must control yourself; I detect no royal trees on this planet, so your body must be the energy source."

Shiro shook his head. "This is beyond my comprehension."

"Good," added Holly as she entered the lab. "Your ignorance is proof of your innocence; if you were conspiring with the Jurai, you would've known about your powers, and you wouldn't let Mortner harvest your stem cells and attempt to transfer these powers to someone else." (She hacked into the MAGI to unlock files on the experiment.)

Shiro waved the x-ray in his left hand, drawing attention from his right hand as it reached for his MK23. "What powers do I have? How long have you known of them?" he asked the engineer.

"You have x-factors that allow you to generate an AT field. I only learned of this a week ago, when Oblt Langley mentioned the legend of Lionheart Castle."

Shiro calmly accepted the answers. "Can you save Suzuhara?"

"Maybe. By examining you, I've learned that your cardiopulmonary system is damaged whenever you use your powers. Fortunately, you can regenerate; your heart and lungs heal themselves, developing resistance to the side-effects of these powers." Holly cautiously approached Shiro, as if he was a wild animal. "Every battle makes you stronger. Unfortunately, Pilot Suzuhara cannot regenerate."

"What if his body incorporates the stem cells? Will they heal him?"

Holly skeptically frowned. "How will you make Suzuhara incorporate your stem cells?"

"With the Eva."

"Are you insane?!" Holly pointed at the Eva cage. "That thing's responsible for all this pain and suffering!"

"Pain is the counterpart of pleasure; life is meaningless without these feelings. Now, will you help me?"

Holly sighed. "Let me do some computer analysis."


1730 hr. Ryoko felt her heart break as she watched Shiro put on his plug suit. "You're risking your life to save Toji."

"Yes." Shiro pressed a button on his left wrist to vacuum air out of the suit, which became skintight.

"Why are you willing to sacrifice yourself for Asuka's happiness?" She wasn't able to hide her emotions: jealous rage, her fear for his life, her love for him, and infinite sadness.

"Don't be jealous; I'd do the same for you," he deadpanned.

"But,"-- she reached for him before pressing her chest against his back, like a wave crashing against a cliff-- "if I lose you..." She embraced him, afraid to let go.

"You'll find another." He turned to her. "The light of your soul is too beautiful to deny the world. Don't let it extinguish." He returned the embrace before gently pushing her away; he must save Toji.


Shiro turned rearwards. Ryoko gripped his left wrist. The pilot gasped as power flowed from her hand, into him; he felt the gem in his wrist.

"May it give you the power you need."

Shiro smiled. "Thank you."


'My Darling A--'

Toji rested in the Angel of Death's embrace, waiting for her to kiss him and take his soul.

'Come with me to heaven!'

"Okay, I'll go with you," pleaded Toji, a child who wished to return to the womb. "So... don't leave me alone!" He reached for the Angel of Death; his hands reached through the motherly figure, who was as intangible as smoke. "Please!"

"Suzuhara!" called a masculine voice.

The boy turned rearwards. A bright blue light, the Angel of Might's wings, flew down to save him. "Let me die," he whispered. "I'm beyond salvation."

"No!" The Angel of Might shocked Toji with his determination. "I promised Asuka I'd save you, and I won't betray her trust!"

"Asuka?" The name seemed familiar. Toji tried to remember...

The Angel of Death held Toji by her side, rising to meet the Angel of Might. 'Please... join me!' She reached for the Angel of Might. 'I feel your pain, your loneliness.' The Angel of Might's light was dimmed by this psychological attack. 'You'll find no salvation this world. Join me in death; the dead are never alone.' She touched the Angel of Might. 'Free yourself from the endless pain that defines your life... by ending it!'

"I..." The Angel of Might's light was extinguished when the Angel of Death embraced him. Toji joined him in a state of instrumentality...


"Bond's nerve pulses are irregular," warned a technician. "Psychological contamination taking place."

"Can we isolate Suzuhara's nerve pulses?" asked Holly.

The technician examined the information on the monitors. "Suzuhara's not screwing with Bond's head, the Eva is."

"What?!" Holly pushed the technician away from the monitor. "Its computer is incapable of AI! How can it have a mind of its own?!" "CODE BLUE" appeared on the monitor. "Damn! Cut all circuits, shut off the turbines, and disconnect the fuel cell!"

"The S² engine has been activated!"

"Eject the plug!"

The technician turned to Holly. "Here?! The plug will bounce around like a pinball, killing the pilots!"

"They'll die anyway if we keep them inside that monster!"

"Shit!" The technician turned to the monitor and typed the command. "Shit, shit, shit!" He turned to Holly. "It's not working!"

Ryoko stared at the monster that held the man she loved captive. "Shiro!" She flew out of the control booth, into the cage. "Let him go, you monster!" Silver lines appeared on Unit 02's mask as Ryoko punched it. "Let him go!" The gems on her throat and right wrist burned...



Toji screamed as the Angel of Might's light burned through the Angel of Death's shadow. The boy felt the Angel of Might's emotions: fear, anger, hatred, and love. 'What does he fear? He fears losing the people he now loves. Why is he angry? He lost the people he once loved. Who does he hate? He hates the man who killed the people he loved. Who does he love?' "Asukaaaa!"

The boy awakened. 'Where am I? I'm in Unit 02's cockpit. Who am I? I'm Suzuhara Toji. Who's here with me?' He turned his head. "Tanaka?"

Shiro smiled. "Welcome back, Mr. Suzuhara."


2030 hr. Toji impatiently laid on the exam table. "Are you done? Can I go now?"

Holly examined the x-ray. Toji's heart and lungs each had a 5% increase in volume, and his floating ribs each had a one-centimeter increase in length. A white sphere, the size of a golf ball, appeared in his liver; Holly knew it was a S² organ in the early stage of development. (Shiro's was the size of a softball; his ribcage extended downwards to protect the organ.) "You're apparently in good health." She turned to the boy. "You're dismissed."

Toji put on his jacket. "Finally." He exited the room without another word.

"Toji!" "Suzuhara-kun!" "Bro!" Three girls approached him when he entered the lobby, eager to express their relief. Toji almost collapsed under their combined weight. "Danke Gott, you're okay!" "What did NERV's monsters do to you?!" "I was so worried!" Maiko's tears soaked Toji's shirt as she embraced her brother.

"Be cool, Mai-chan!" He playfully patted the girl's head. "I'm tougher than a Gundam." He turned to Asuka, who'd moved towards Shiro; the sight filled Toji with jealousy.

Asuka bowed to her ex-boyfriend. "Thank you."

Shiro smiled. "You're welcome, Milady. Would you and your friends like to join us for dinner? I know a restaurant that serves an excellent Cantonese cuisine." (He'd returned the gem to Ryoko.)

Asuka returned the smile. "Okay."

The feelings between the two weren't hidden from Ryoko and Toji. 'I thought he loved me!' thought the girl. 'I thought she loved me!' thought the boy. 'Was it an act? Are they still...?' Ryoko and Toji chose not to object to Shiro's proposal, or Asuka's acceptance; they wanted to spy on the two.


2100 hr. "These serial numbers are listed among the weapons that were stolen from a JSDF armory in 2005. My guess is that a Chinese or Korean criminal organization, maybe the Tiger Gang, got their hands on them. The MSS would've used Uzis or other foreign weapons, which are harder to trace," explained Sagara, the informant. (Although the assassins neglected to remove the serial numbers before their attack, all records on their identities were destroyed 15 minutes after the Golden Bullet.)

Shiro expressed his surprise. "When did the JSDF begin using Type 64s?" The sound-suppressed SMG was specially designed for PLA scouts, and exported to many of China's allies.

"The weapons were captured during the One Month War." On September 20, 2000, a N² bomb, a new type of weapon, annihilated Tokyo. Osato, who was the JSDF Joint Staff Council Chairman, accused the Democratic People's Republic of Korea of launching a ballistic missile with a N² warhead. Japan declared war and invaded North Korea. On 27 Sep, Japanese forces occupied Pyongyang; a JGSDF officer used a katana to publicly behead Kim Jong-Il, North Korea's "Dear Leader." On 30 Sep, Chinese forces entered North Korea to defend their traditional ally from this act of "Japanese imperialism." On 16 October, as the world was on the verge of a nuclear war, US Navy warships intercepted the Osumi, a Japanese amphibious assault ship, as it entered North Korean waters; simultaneously, US diplomats negotiated a ceasefire between the Chinese and Japanese governments. Japan was ordered to withdraw her troops, while China was allowed to permanently station troops in North Korea; the situation remained a source of animosity between the two nations.

Shiro frowned. "What if the Type 64s were stolen by a rogue element of the JSDF, which intends to launch a coup?"

Sagara laughed at the idea; he stopped when he saw how serious Shiro was. "You're joking, right?" He couldn't hide his fear. "China has 200 nuclear missiles!

"760, including air and sea-launched cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles," corrected Shiro.

If the military overthrows the civilian government, the fucking commies will..." The informant's knees trembled.

Shiro put his hand on Sagara's shoulder, gently pushing the informant onto a chair. "Calm down, Sagara-san. If we work hard, we can prevent history from repeating itself." 'I won't let Osato destroy the country Papa and Ojiisama had fought for.' "Now excuse me, Milady is waiting." He exited Sagara's soundproofed office.

"Shiro!" called Asuka. "When will the food be ready? I'm starving!"

The young man smiled at the girl's arrogance, proof that she'd recovered from the recent incident. "Soon, Milady."

Toji stood up. "Maybe we ought to talk to the cooks instead." He reached for Shiro's wrist, reconsidered, and simply waved at the young man. "Come on."

Shiro sensed that Toji wanted to speak with him in private. "Very well." He followed the boy to the men's restroom.

Ryoko stood up. "Excuse me, I'm going to the ladies' room." She followed Shiro. 'What does that boy want from Shiro?'

Hikari turned to Asuka. "Soryu..."

"You don't have to be so formal," interrupted the girl. "Just call me Asuka."

Hikari nodded. "Asuka-kun, is Suzuhara-kun..." The girl noticed that Maiko was staring at her, curious. Hikari blushed, leaned towards Asuka, and whispered, "Is he in love with Tanaka-kun?"

Asuka's eyes widened with surprise, before she threw back her head in laughter. "Why would he, when he has me?"

Maiko was confused by Asuka and Hikari's behavior. 'What are they talking about?'

Hikari frowned at the girl's arrogance. "Are you in love with him?"

Maiko stared at Hikari, who acted like the jealous rival in a romance story. 'Wow! They're talking about love! I wanna know more!' The girl turned to Asuka, expecting the pilot to stare dreamily at the ceiling and declare her love for Toji. To Maiko's surprise, Asuka didn't even smile.

The pilot answered, "Yes," in the solemn tone a judge used to deliver a death sentence.

"Why?" Hikari examined Asuka's posture. 'She looks like a samurai who's been ordered to commit seppuku. Is this how she sees love? As a way of death, instead of a way of life?'

"We've placed our full faith on each other's skill as we fought the Angels, depending on each other for survival. As the Angel of Death reached for us, he opened his heart to me, and I to him; such a bond is not easily broken."

"Not even by death?"

"If you're worried that piloting an Eva will result in his death, you can stop now. I'll ask Toji to quit, and I won't let NERV use him again, even if I have to execute the entire UN Security Council."

'She's serious.' "What about Tanaka-kun?" added Hikari.

Asuka sighed. "Shiro's heart is a castle, closed to everyone but his confidants; I'm not one of them. Now the castle is under siege, unable to accept or deliver any trust." She looked into Hikari's eyes. "If you want his love, you must be willing to endure the siege."

Hikari blushed. "I'm n-n-not in l-love with Tanaka-kun!"

"But you're in lust with him." Asuka smiled. "Aren't you?"

Hikari gasped. "H-h-how d-did you know?!"

Asuka playfully tapped the girl's nose. "That." She smiled.


"Do you love Asuka?" demanded Toji.

Shiro was surprised; he expected a question about NERV. He thought for three seconds before answering, "She's chosen to move on; so must I."

"But you haven't, have you?" Toji interpreted Shiro's silence as an affirmative. "Why? What binds you to her?" He shook his fist.

"You know." Shiro's eyes became cold and hard, freezing Toji with fear. "You're bound to the Eva, and through it, to Asuka. You share her memories; you've seen Asuka's mother kill herself and an effigy of her child. You've felt the icy darkness that haunts her, and the burning rage that blinds her." He suddenly smiled, surprising Toji. "Now that we've cleansed the bad blood between us, there's something I must ask of you." He reached into his pocket.

"What?" Toji tried to suppress his shivering. 'Is he gonna kill me?' He fought the urge to run away.

"Take care of Asuka." Shiro opened his hand, revealing a jewelry box. "While you're at it, please give this to her." He opened the box, revealing the ring. "Tell Asuka that it's from you." He grabbed Toji's wrist and place the box in the boy's hand.

Toji stared at golden hummingbirds around the sapphire rose. "This is an engagement ring." He turned to Shiro. "Why are you giving this to me? Why are you letting Asuka go? Even when she hated you the most, she still loved you more than she ever loved me."

Shiro sighed. "Perhaps... but I cannot be a husband to Asuka, or a father to the children she'd have."

"Why not?"

"I won't live to see that day."


Shiro instinctively drew his MK23 and aimed it at a toilet stall. "Show yourself!"

An intangible Ryoko flew through the stall door. Although Shiro had holstered his MK23, Ryoko's face still expressed absolute terror. "Please... don't say something like that!" She kneeled before the man she loved. "You're the one most precious to me! I can't..."

Shiro took a knee. "Ryoko, please be sensible; it's unwise to be emotionally involved with a man who might be dead the next day."


"The Angel of Death came for me ten years ago. That day, my mother sacrificed her life for mine, but... the Angel of Death still stalks me. I've beaten the odds too many times; my luck is running out."

"No!" Ryoko put her hands on Shiro's chest. "Please, don't leave me alone!"

Shiro smiled to reassure Ryoko. "You won't be alone. Grandpa will take care of you. I've already told Steve," his best friend, a boy of Cantonese descent who infected Shiro with an interest in Hong Kong action movies, "about you; he'll never leave a beautiful woman alone." He lifted the girl onto her feet. "Come on, let's return to our table; the food should be ready by now."

"O-okay." Ryoko reached into her pocket and pressed the STOP button for the cell phone's integral audio recorder. 'Grandpa will hear this; he'll know what to do.'


2240 hr. Silence filled Asuka's BMW Z6 convertible as she drove Toji and Maiko to their home. "Wait." The 2nd Child cautiously circled the building, looking for anything suspicious. Toji shared her paranoia; Maiko sensed the older children's concern, and became scared. Finally, the BMW stopped. "It's clear." She kept her hand by her shoulder holster as she escorted Toji and Maiko to their condo.

Toji opened the door for his sister. "Mai-chan, you can go right ahead. I gotta have a word with Asuka-chan."

"Oh, are you going to swear, by the sun and the moon, that your love for her is eternal?" The girl interpreted her brother's blushing as an affirmative. "I'm right!"

"J-just get inside!" Toji turned to Asuka, and tried to ignore Maiko's giggling. "Asuka, I want to say... I want to tell you... I..." He reached into his pocket, took out the jewelry box, and opened it. "I love you, and I... Will you...?" 'Damn it! Of all the things that monster put in my head, why didn't it put in some of Tanaka's poetry?!' He took a knee.

Asuka put her hands over her mouth, silenced by this moment of truth. "W-w-where d-did you find something so beautiful?"

"Tanaka... loaned me some money."

"I..." Asuka embraced her boyfriend. "Yes, I'll marry you."

Maiko had secretly witnessed the proposal; she now abandoned her hiding place to congratulate her brother. "Yay! Bro's getting married!"


Asuka laughed, forgetting her fears for the first time in 18 days.


Day 26, Tue. 1700 hr, Pacific Time. Russhon looked into the girl's blue-gray eyes. 'She looks older than she is.' "Miss Galore?"

The girl seductively smiled. "Call me Titty."

'Hell no!' He turned to the hologram of Unit 03, reminding himself that the girl was a minor. "Titania, will you fight for America?"

"Yes. By the way, I'm a lesbian."

Russhon turned to the girl, surprised. "Titania, if you're unwilling to serve, just say so!"

"I will fight for America, but if I cannot be true to myself, I cannot be true to my country."

"Does your father know?" Russhon was the man's best friend; they'd served together in the USAF.

Titty sighed. "I already told Dad, but he thinks it's just an expression of teen rebellion. In his next speech, he'll probably accuse the Democrats of encouraging homosexuality in America's youth."

"Does your grandmother know?"

"Granny's bisexual; she understands."

Russhon sighed. "I'll write a waver. By the way, do you have any experience with firearms?"

Titty nodded. "Dad taught me how to use his Glock 23."

"How's your marksmanship?"

"I'm as good as he is." The man was an expert shot.

"Good." He unlocked the safe and removed a machine pistol. "This is the Heckler and Koch MP7." He pulled the cocking lever and locked the bolt in the open position, showing her that it was empty. "It has safe, semiautomatic, and fully automatic modes of fire." He handed her the MP7, three 40-round magazines, a box of 4.6 mm ammunition, and a holster. "Keep it on you at all times; you'll never know when a terrorist or assassin has marked you."

Titty examined the weapon. "Can I have two?"

He frowned. "Why do you need two?"

"Lara Croft has two." The girl shrugged. "'Tomb Raiders' is my favorite game."

Russhon sighed again. "I'll talk to the armorer." After the girl left to be fitted for a plug suit, Russhon called Holly. "She'll do it. I hope you're right; otherwise, we'll have innocent blood on our hands."

"We need to compare her DNA to Plt Off Bond test to be certain, but if she is James Bond's granddaughter and Yosho's descendent, she will be able to draw Jurai energy and activate Unit 03's S² engine," claimed the engineer.

"That won't guarantee her survival."

"But it'll significantly improve her chances."

"What about NERV?"

"If your friend can keep up the pressure, we can keep NERV's dirty hands off of Titty and Unit 03."

"We're recruiting his 14-year-old daughter! Do you think he'll help us when he inevitably finds out about this?!"

"How will he find out? Are you going to...?"

Russhon sighed. "Titania will certainly tell her grandmother. I better call Ms Galore; maybe she'll keep Jimmy on our side."


0550 hr, Tokyo Time. The 14-year-old boy stared at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, holding a pill and a glass of water. 'Who?' He put the pill in his mouth, raised the glass to his lips, and swallowed. Then he crushed the glass, cutting his right hand; blood flowed between his fingers. 'Why?' He expressed no pain as he opened his hand, watching the broken glass fall like snowflakes. 'How?'


Ikari Shinji, the late Ikari Gendo's son, turned rearwards. "Mother." He mechanically walked to her, a flesh-and-blood robot.

The woman raised the boy's hand to her lips, licking the blood off his skin. "I have come to you for a purpose." The cuts healed to become white scars. "I whose blood flows in your veins."

"I will obey, Mother."

The woman smiled. "Excellent." She led him into the hallway, where a Sea Dragon medic examined the boy.

"Package secured," reported the medic. Sea Dragons led them towards the stairs.

The boy expressed no grief as he passed the corpses of his "aunts" and "uncles," scientists who studied his development. 'Where?'

'We proceed on our way to oblivion,' answered the smiling woman as the Sea Dragons escorted them up the stairs, out of the research facility.


To be continued...