Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction / Tenchi Muyo Fan Fiction / Transformers Fan Fiction ❯ Death is Never the End ❯ Chapter 7

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

625 hr. Fear gripped the Transformers' cores as they crept through the earthen tunnels, towards Cybertron's core. "The Black Gate is two kilometers ahead," stated Alpha as he examined an old map. "The plasma energy chamber," which they needed to power the planetary turbines, "lies behind it."

"Yes, Elder!" Slag turned to Slammer, Blitzwing, and Scramjet. "Hurry up!" The triceratops accelerated, hiding his fear.

"Does that antique know what he's doing?" challenged Blitzwing. "What if the plasma energy overloads our circuits? Do we just stand there and die?"

"Don't be scared! Our shields will protect us!" claimed Slammer, formerly known as Sludge.

'Will it?' Although Shockwave's cold and calculating manner made him seem apathetic to the welfare of his subordinates, Scramjet, formerly known as Ramjet, still trusted his judgment the most. Unfortunately, Shockwave was locked in an assembly chamber; a perfectionist, he was the last warrior to be upgraded into a guardian, now that his research was complete and the perfect body was designed. (Alpha refused to be upgraded; he considered the process sacrilegious.)

Finally, they reached the Black Gate. The triceratops, the apatosaurus, the bear, and the crocodile transformed and assumed combat stances. "Here we go!" Slag formed a LH Sword; after he cut away the lock, the others helped him push back the gate. "Argh!"

The giant worm rocketed through the gate, coiling its body around Slag as it tried to consume his life energy. "Howl!" Lightning arced towards the worm as Slag's LH Wing pushed against his enemy. Blitzwing generated a LH Sword; he roared as he slashed at the worm. An earsplitting shriek permeated the tunnel as the worm writhed away from the sword, loosening its coils. Slag quickly freed his arm and decapitated his enemy; he didn't stop slashing until the worm was transformed into a river of blood.

"Are you okay?" asked Slammer.

Light seeped through the cracks in Slag's armor as he repaired himself; the cracks disappeared five seconds later. "I'm fine." He laughed. "The upgrades have made us invincible!" He walked through the gate with genuine confidence.

Scramjet remembered the battle against Units 01A and 02. 'I wish this was true.' He followed the others into the chamber.

"We're in."

Alpha stood in the command console, examining the images that the warriors transmitted to him. "There's the control panel." As he pointed at the monitor, a crosshair appeared in Slag's field of vision, highlighting the panel. "Attach the decoder." A dozen lights flashed as the decoder sought the activation codes. Boom! "Gasp!" The monitors burned as plasma energy filled the chamber, blinding everyone in sight. "Slag, what happened?! Slammer?! Blitzwing?!"

"By the Matrix!" exclaimed Scramjet.

"It's pretty!" added Slammer.

"The plasma energy chamber has been opened," stated Slag. The monitor became clear as the warriors' optics adapted to the light.

"Excellent," stated Shockwave. Alpha shivered as the chilling voice reached through the assembly chamber, towards the console. "At last... we shall have our revenge."

Four upgraded Transformers, who used their S² engines to power the assembly chamber, raised their fists in salute. "For Optimus!" swore Jazz and Elita-1. "For Megatron!" swore Shrapnel and Nightracer.

Fear gripped Alpha's core as the Vehicons, upgraded Autobots and Decepticons, raised their fists and called for revenge. 'Will we bring justice to Unicron, or destruction onto ourselves?'


Kagato sensed a time-space distortion when the plasma energy chamber was opened. 'What was that?!'

"The Cybertronians have opened the chamber of secrets," answered Unicron.

"What secrets does it hold, and what will they do with...? Ahhhh!" he screamed when he felt Unicron's rage, a fiery sword that split his brain and seared his mind.

"That is not your concern," growled Unicron. "Do you remember what is your concern?"

Kagato hid his anger and hatred as he answered, "To destroy your terrestrial enemies..."

"Including the 4th Child."

"I will crush him." After Unicron terminated communications, Kagato expressed the darkness within him. 'Then... I will crush you."


That day, the Lazenby Police Department was ordered to transport a body to Scotland Yard; the order was carried out without protest. As Lt Hamilton watched the coroner moved the mutilated body out of the refrigerated locker and onto a cart, he called James' office. The secretary who recorded Hamilton's message gave it a low priority; MI6's investigators lost interest in the body soon after the autopsy.

When the body mysteriously disappeared from the van that transported it, the police thought the driver had carelessly allowed it to be stolen, possibly for use in a medical school. When Scotland Yard denied giving the order, the police thought a bureaucrat from one office, or one from each office, made a mistake. No one knew of the body's potential use... except the individual who teleported the body to a secret lab.



An Evangelion crossover by Sidewinder (, 2003-2004, last revised 2007. Based on Ian Fleming, Kawamori Shoji, Fujishima Kosuke, AIC, Gainax, Hasbro, Marvel, and Takara's works.


0625 hr, Beijing Time. Nine terrorists, their Afghan features looking out of place in stolen PLA uniforms, aimed their rifles at the H-8 pilot. "Allahu akhbar!" They pulled the triggers; 270 fiery fingers of death reached for the girl with blue hair, red eyes, and two blue daggers tattooed on her left cheek.

Nazhi generated two LH Wings; after the terrorists expended their ammunition, she shattered one wing into nine razor-sharp fragments, flying swords that Nazhi guided towards her enemies. Screams filled the hangar as each sword pierced a terrorist's torso. Nazhi approached the first man, who she identified as the leader. "Your spleen has been penetrated," she stated. "If you don't receive immediate medical aid, you'll bleed to death. Surrender, and I'll..."

Kamran Shah, tribal chief and veteran of a thousand battles against the Soviet and American invaders, spat at the bitch; the spittle froze before it could touch her face, as if a glass plane stood between them. "Potatoes!" he shouted, using the codeword for grenades. The surviving warriors obeyed the order. "Dieeee!" The bitch ignored the grenades as they flew towards her, ricocheted off of the invisible shield, and rolled towards the surviving warriors behind them. Shah screamed, "Ali!" before his comrades died in thunder and lightning.

Nazhi ignored the blood, flesh, and bone fragments that were thrown harmlessly against the wing. "Surrender, and I'll treat your wound," she finished.

Shah led 107 holy warriors to the PLAAF base, determined to destroy the satanic armor. The H-8 pilot killed them all, spending no more effort than a warrior pulling the trigger of his rifle. Shah cried, knowing that he was utterly and undeniably defeated, that he failed Allah, his fellow Muslims, and his men.


"No further information is available," stated Hai Fat, President of Golden Sun Electronics, Limited, and Seele 09.

"When will our informants in the PLA provide this information?" demanded Keel.

"Unfortunately, I'm unable to contact them. We know two of them were arrested and accused of espionage and sedition; we must assume the others are in hiding, or worse, in MSS custody."

"So the Chinese continue to resist us."

"Perhaps we should teach them a lesson," suggested Zorin.

Keel firmly answered, "Not now. They are still useful, if only as cannon fodder." He turned to Fuyutsuki, who was haggard from pain. "Seele 06, please inform Prof Fuyutsuki of the... incident that occurred this morning."

"At 0013 hr, Tokyo Time, Recovery Team Two extracted Unit 00 from the ruins of Central Dogma," NERV HQ. "At 0200, the Eva was loaded onto a flatcar for transport to Matsushiro. At 0400 hr, the train entered the K2 junction, where we lost contact with the security team; at 0410 hr, an explosion destroyed the junction. Recovery Team Two is searching the ruins, but they're unable to find any sign of Unit 00."

"Can we trust the team's reports?" asked Hai.

"Agent Jones is loyal to our cause."

"What do you have to say for yourself?" demanded Keel. The Acting Commander of UN NERV was silent. "Prof Fuyutsuki? Prof Fuyutsuki!"

Fuyutsuki awoke; drowsiness was a side effect of the painkillers. "Ah, what?"

"How do you explain the disappearance of Evangelion Unit 00?!"

"Ah, I blame the Americans." Disorientation was another side effect.

Zorin angrily screamed, "Unit 00 has no OT and no chance against the Valkyries! The Americans have no reason to steal so obsolete an Eva!"

Fuyutsuki yawned. "Then I blame the Chinese."

"The Chinese cannot use Unit 00 if they cannot transport it to China, and they cannot transport it without our knowledge!"

"Maybe they have a secret base..."

"Why should they build a secret base in Japan? Unit 08, which the thieving chinks stole from us, is already equipped with OT armor!" Seele and its proxy, UN NERV, claimed authority over the Evas, even though their construction costs were borne by sovereign nations.

"You mean the earth just opened up and swallowed Evangelion Unit 00?"

"No, I mean someone stole the Eva and hid it somewhere in Japan!"

"That's a job for NERV Intelligence, isn't it?"


"Silence!" ordered Keel. "Prof Fuyutsuki, I am relieving you of your duty."

"You mean I can go back to sleep?" asked the Acting Commander of UN NERV.

Keel sighed. "Yes."

"Okay." Fuyutsuki's hologram disappeared.

Keel turned to the commander of NERV Germany. "Dr Langley, are you willing to serve as Acting Commander of UN NERV?"

Langley suppressed a smile. "Yes."


Day 27, Wed. 0540 hr, Tokyo Time. Ding, dong!

"Argh!" Murderous rage filled Misato's heart as she stared at the alarm clock. "This better be important." She crawled out of bed, opened her bedroom door, and saw Ryoko walk towards Shiro's room. "Who was it?"

"A delivery boy," answered the girl.

Misato didn't notice the manila envelope in Ryoko's hand. "Good. I'm going back to sleep." She closed the door.

Ryoko suppressed a relieved sigh as she entered the room. Before the young man went on his morning jog, he asked Ryoko to accompany him. She refused, claiming that she was waiting for a delivery. 'I hope Shiro's safe.' (They had low confidence in the NERV security agents who served as their bodyguards; they had to jog at a slow pace so the agents could follow them.) The girl opened the envelope to reveal a DVD titled, "Eyes Only"; she recognized James' handwriting. She started her laptop, put on the headphones, and loaded the DVD.

"Good morning, Ryoko," greeted James. "This record is for your eyes only; you must not let anyone else see it, not even Shiro."

Ryoko was surprised; she thought James trusted his grandson the way Shiro trusted his grandfather. 'Why?'

"According to the record you sent me, Shiro is again suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which was caused by the shock of witnessing his parents' assassination." The screen faded to black before a second video began playing.

A four-year-old boy sat in a white room, a terracotta warrior guarding a tomb. Ryoko's eyes widened with recognition.

"Ohayo, Shiro-kun," greeted a disembodied voice.

A cold and mournful voice, like the wind as it scattered ashes over a field of white roses, whispered, "Ohayo, Watsuki-sensei."

"Did you sleep well last night?"

"When can I see Mama and Papa?"

"Sigh. Shiro-kun, your parents are... dead."

"So am I."

"What do you mean?"

The boy removed an armrest from the chair, exposing a nail. His face was a porcelain mask as he pushed down, letting the nail pierce his hand.

"Shiro!" Two elderly men rushed to the boy's side. Ryoko recognized one of them as Tiger Tanaka, even though she'd never seen him before. After the psychiatrist pulled the boy's hand off of the nail, Tiger used a handkerchief to bandage the wound.

"It doesn't hurt when I'm bleeding, like the time I played with Papa's sword and accidentally cut myself." Tears flowed from the eyeholes in the mask. "It just feels... cold..." The psychiatrist's record ended.

James sighed. "Cosmetic surgery removed the physical scar, but not the emotional one. Tiger-- Tanaka knew MI6 and the CIA had techniques to erase people's memories, and asked me to use these techniques to treat Shiro. The treatment was successful; without this traumatic memory, the boy was able to live... a relatively normal life.

"Shiro doesn't know what I've done to him; the technology to alter memories is classified top secret. When the sword spoke to us, I learned that Shiro's memory was no longer sealed. Now that he remembers the Angel of Death's touch, Shiro no longer fears it. I fear for him; the only people who don't fear death are those with nothing to live for.

"Ryoko, I know you love Shiro, but unless he believes he has a future, he won't imagine one with you. You must give him something to live for..."

Knock, knock. "Ryoko, are you awake?" asked Shiro.

"Gasp!" The girl quickly ejected the DVD and hid it in her underwear drawer. "I'm coming!"

"I'll prepare breakfast,"-- Shiro almost fell when Ryoko flew through the door to embrace him-- "after my shower. How'd you like your omelet?"

"With you!" She kissed him. 'I want you to imagine a future where you can feel my love, and I can feel yours... everyday.'

Clothes flew down the hall as Shiro absentmindedly carried the girl into the bathroom; the sounds of their lovemaking quickly permeated the condo.

Misato raised her head from the pillow, and stared at the alarm clock. "Not again!" She buried her head beneath the pillow, trying to shield her ears.


1620 hr. Asuka, Toji, and Shiro accompanied Ryoko as she went shopping for clothes. Although Ryoko felt apprehensive about Asuka's presence, she remembered James' advice to keep Shiro in the company of friends.

'I must rekindle his passion for life!' thought Ryoko, remembering Shiro's behavior before the Sword of Heaven and Earth released the memory. "Hey, Shiro!" She held a monokini, a topless swimsuit based on Rudi Gernreich's 1964 design, before her. "Do I look good in this?"

The young man's eyes widened with surprise. "I, ah, think, ah..."

"Maybe it'll help if I model it?" She dragged him towards the changing room.

Asuka noticed Toji staring at the couple. "What's on your mind?"

"I'm jealous." 'Why does Tanaka get all the hot girls?!'

"I'm hurt!" Asuka playfully punched Toji's shoulder. "I'll look better than her in anything." She took a string bikini off the display rack.

Toji let her lead him towards the changing room. "Why won't you leave NERV?"

Asuka froze, thinking of the violet robot. "There's something I must do first."

"Revenge?" Toji interpreted the girl's silence as an affirmative. "Are you willing to die for it?" He reached for her hand. "Even if it means we...?"

Asuka reacted as if he threw a punch, by grabbing Toji's arm and locking it behind his back. "There are fates worse than death."

"Argh!" Toji rubbed the back of his shoulder after Asuka released him. "But..."

"Excuse me." A tall man with cold blue eyes approached them. "Are you friends of Shiro Bond?"

Asuka frowned with suspicion. 'I've seen him before. Where?' "What do you want with him?"

The man smiled. "My name is Francisco Scaramanga." As the girl's eyes widened with recognition, Scaramanga's left hand shot forward and closed around her throat. "I'm here for my revenge." His right hand seized her P229 and crushed it.

"Let her go!" Toji drew his P229 and aimed it at the assassin's head. "Ahhhh!" He fell unconscious when Scaramanga projected an AT field, throwing him against the ceiling.

"Mr. Bond!"

Scaramanga's mark froze when he recognized the chilling voice. 'Impossible!'

Ryoko sensed the young man's fear. "Shiro? What...?"

"You've cost me a significant amount of money," stated Scaramanga. "If you won't reimburse me, Ms Langley will." The AT field threatened to burn Asuka's skin; she couldn't suppress her pained cry.

Ryoko grabbed Shiro's hand as he tried to crawl beneath the door. "Don't," she whispered.

"I think I'll harvest her heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. She has beautiful eyes; the Arabs will pay handsomely for them." Scaramanga sensed the energy in Ryoko's gems, and pointed his right index finger at her. A golden bullet shot out of the hollow finger, shattered two mannequins, penetrated Ryoko's LH Wing, and narrowly missed her S² organ.

"Howl!" Electricity flowed from the bullet, through Ryoko, stimulating every nerve in her body.

Scaramanga smiled, watching the living weapon bow backwards with pain. "Lord Kagato warned me about you." He raised his head. "Your bodyguards cannot protect you." He already killed the NERV security agents who followed the pilots into the mall. "Face me!"

He barely heard the sound-suppressed MK23 as it fired two saboted light armor penetrators (SLAPs) at him. 'Clever boy.' Scaramanga let the bullets crash harmlessly, uselessly, against his AT field. Bond froze for a split-second, shocked that his weapons were useless; this was all the time Scaramanga needed to aim and shoot.

Shiro watched the dresses on the rack, his concealment, fly apart as the bullet flew towards him at Mach 10 (12,250 km/h). "Ahhhh!" The bullet shattered the pistol's frame, which became a small grenade and blew apart in his right hand.

Scaramanga released Langley; he no longer needed a hostage. He ignored the girl he approached his mark. "Goodbye, Mr. Bond." He aimed...

"Noooo!" Asuka extended her arms and lunged at the assassin's hips, imitating an American football player. Scaramanga instinctively turned rearwards, fired, and sent a golden bullet through her heart. "Shiro..." The girl felt the bullet fragment, tearing apart the organ; she glided onto the floor, a petal falling from a cherry blossom. "I..." Thump.

Shiro was able to feel Asuka's pain after he first synchronized with Unit 02; now he felt her death. "Asuka..."

Scaramanga walked past the living weapon, which pain had forced into the fetal position. "There's no need for tears; you'll be joining her..." He didn't hear the special bullet fall onto the floor after Ryoko cut it out of her body; he didn't see the bloody trail she made as she lunged. Scaramanga only felt surprise as a LH Sword pierced his AT field, armor, and S² engine.

"Give my regards to Kagato." Ryoko spun like a propeller, cutting the assassin into 100 pieces. "Shiro!" She flew to her boyfriend's side. Shiro's face was a death mask; his heart stopped beating. "Please don't..."


1630 hr. The new commander stared at Unit 02 through the broken window, shattered when the Eva self-activated. SPs escorted airmen back into the cage. "It's possibly Unit 02 was activated by remote control. The Americans have signals intelligence systems, which could've intercept the transmissions that caused this. Call them."

Misato stared at the inactive Eva. "Yes, Sir." Di da di! "Excuse me, Sir." She raised her cell phone to her ear. "Katsuragi..."

"Missy!" screamed Ryoko, forcing the woman to hold the phone away from her ear. "Get a SAR Team to the Imperial Mall right now!"

Misato returned the phone to her ear. "Why? What happened?"

"We have a Golden Bullet!"

"What?!" Misato heard Toji's voice in the background; she heard the agony in his screams. "Is Asuka okay?!" She heard him cry. "Ryoko, what happened to Asuka?!"

"I..." Ryoko's voice was weak, a whisper echoing within a tomb. "I wasn't strong enough-- I couldn't save her."

Toji protested, "Noooo!" to a merciless and unsympathetic God. "Don't leave me..."

"Dear God..." The news felt like a sledgehammer blow, nearly breaking Misato's back. "I'll call SAR Team Two."

"What has happened?" demanded Langley.

"A terrorist attack was launched against the pilots. I'm going with SAR Team Two to rescue them."

"No," interrupted Langley. "You will stay here and supervise the repairs; I want the Evas fully operational by 2200 hr."

'Don't you care about the welfare of your own daughter?' Misato could only answer, "Yes, Sir," before ordering Makoto to accompany SAR Team Two.


Osato couldn't hide his sense of surprise. "That filthy half-breed survived?"

Kaji nodded. "Bond suffered severe physical trauma during the attack, and is being treated at the Matsushiro infirmary."

"Finish him," ordered Osato.

"I can't; his room is constantly watched by the Americans." Osato had no allies among them, as he did among the Japanese soldiers providing security for the base.

"Very well." He terminated communications before turning to the woman. "What do you think, Dr Ikari?"

The woman examined the photos provided by Osato's agents. The coroners placed Asuka's remains into a body bag as the police examined the surroundings for clues. "Without their pilots, Evangelion Units 02 and 04 are swords without masters. Therefore, we must master the Evas before they can be turned against us."

"Fortunately, we have one of our own."

"A conventional Eva is ineffective against enemies equipped with Overtechnology armor."

"You mean the Chinese and the Americans?"

"I mean the Valkyries, the aliens that attacked the USAF research facility."

"Then we'll use Unit 00 to capture the Overtechnology-equipped Evangelions."

"A wise decision, Osato-sama."

Osato approached the seated woman and put his hand on her knee. "How's your son?"

"Shinji achieved a 41.3% synch rate with Unit 00."

"Is he loyal to our cause?" The hand slid onto her thigh.

"My late husband spent ten years preparing him for this day. Shinji has been mentally and physically conditioned to be the perfect Eva pilot."

"I heard Ikari performed genetic engineering experiments on the Children. Was your son...?"

"Shinji was injected with stem cells, harvested from the 2nd Angel," Lilith, "to raise his synch rate; the experiment was successful."

"And he bears no ill will towards you for doing this?" The hand reached between her legs.

"He's been conditioned to accept this." The woman stood up. "I must supervise the modifications to Unit 00." She performed a zarei. "May I return to the cage, Osato-sama?"

Osato smiled. "Of course." 'Your mind is mine; your body will soon follow.'

"Thank you, Osato-sama."


1740 hr. "The loss of the 2nd Child was regrettable, Dr Langley," noted Keel.

The man expressed no grief for the death of his daughter. "Are replacements available?"

"Russhon refuses to part with Unit 03 and the 7th Child," reported Zorin. "We cannot relieve him of his command; his allies include key members of the Senate."

"The PLA denies any knowledge of Unit 08 and the Eighth Child," added Hai.

"Then I must retain the 6th Child and recruit another."

Keel smiled. "Your resourcefulness is commendable. Return to your duties." He terminated communications.

Misato approached Langley as he exited his office. "Sir, Commander Fuyutsuki..."

"I am your commander, not Fuyutsuki," he snapped.

"I apologize Sir, but... Mr. Fuyutsuki is missing. We believe he was kidnapped."

"That is a problem for NERV Intelligence Section Two." He walked away from the woman, towards the Eva cages.

"One other thing, Sir." She held a plastic box containing a wallet, a wristwatch, and some jewelry. "Here are Asuka's personal effects."

Langley examined the ring with no more passion than he would a rock on the road. "Dispose of them." He turned away.

Ryoko told Misato what the ring symbolized: Shiro and Toji's love for Asuka, and their promise to care for the girl they both loved. 'Oh, Asuka...' Misato laid against the wall, releasing her tears. 'My sister-in-arms, the only person I could open my heart to. I hoped you'd live the life I couldn't live, to have the children I couldn't have." Misato suffered severe internal injuries during the 2nd Impact; a hysterectomy was one of many operations performed to save her. 'Now I have no hope.'


1000 hr, Berlin Time.

> From:

> To:

> Dear Mother:

> Toji has made a proposal of marriage, which I accepted. Although I'd like you to bless our union, your disapproval will not affect my final decision.

> What I want is your understanding. Although I don't need any friends to stay alive, I don't want to live in isolation. Toji is the first person to entrust his life to me, and to whom I can entrust my life. I...

'Oh, Asuka...' Elise lowered her head, letting her flowing tears obscure the laptop monitor; she wouldn't let envy poison her heart, spoiling the promise of a better life for her stepdaughter. 'Yes, I understand-- I'll bless your union.' Langley didn't inform her of Asuka's fate; Elise didn't know the union was no longer possible in this world.


"Argh!" Fuyutsuki bit his lip, awakened by the pain. "What...?" He was sitting in a chair, his arms secured behind his back. "What's the meaning of this?!"

The doctor returned the syringe to his medicine bag. "The stimulant has countered the effects of the painkillers."

"Thank you, doctor. You're excused."

Fuyutsuki recognized the second person's voice. "Gen Osato." He tugged the handcuffs. "This is a cold welcome."

"Pardon my lack of courtesy. I need to talk to you, and this is the most expedient way," said Osato.

"You never change; you don't take my situation into account."

"Japan faces a crisis; if we don't resolve it, we'll be destroyed. Please understand that."

"What crisis? The Angels? The Valkyries?"

"You fool!" Osato grabbed Fuyutsuki's shirt collar, choking him. "You look to heaven, expecting a dead god to pass judgment upon us, when our deadliest enemy was always from Earth!"

"Gurgle!" Fuyutsuki caught his breath. "The Chinese?"

"They conspire with the Americans to finish what they started in World War Two."

"Do you propose to launch a preemptive strike? Start a nuclear war?"

"The Evangelions will defend us; our enemies' ICBMs will become harmless fireworks to celebrate Japan's victory."

"You stole Unit 00, didn't you?" He interpreted Osato's silence as an affirmative. "You're as foolish as Tojo," the Japanese PM during WWII, who was later executed for war crimes.

"The men who forged the Great Japanese Empire weren't fools; neither are the men who'll reforge her. If you still call yourself Japanese, you'll cooperate, Prof Fuyutsuki."

The prisoner thought of his life before he agreed to help Ikari Gendo create a new era for humanity. "Prof Fuyutsuki..."


Day 28, Thurs. 0600 hr, Tokyo Time. Misato saw Ryoko sitting beside the hospital bed, holding Shiro's left hand as they slept. "Ryoko."

Ryoko opened her eyes; Shiro was still breathing. She could feel a strong and steady pulse. (She threatened to kill the doctors if they amputated Shiro's right hand.)

"Ryoko." The girl turned to the doorway. "We've detected an AT field in sector Bravo Six."

Ryoko nodded. "I'll be back." She kissed Shiro before she exited the room, following Misato.

Five minutes later, they stood in the command center; the tactical monitor showed nothing but static. "The radiation's so bad, we can't even get the satellites to work!" exclaimed Makoto.

"I'll check it out," deadpanned Ryoko. She didn't hear Misato whisper, "Be careful," before teleporting out of the command center.

B6 was an abandoned granite quarry, deep enough to hide a 40-meter-tall monster. 'Where is it?' Ryoko stealthily approached the sector, searching for her enemy. Boom! Sachiel suddenly rocketed out of a pit. Ryoko immediately shot an energy bolt at the Angel of Water. Pop! The inflatable decoy burst. 'A trap!' "Howl!" A positron beam disintegrated her midsection, blasting her in half.


"Ryoko... no..." No one noticed Shiro weakly extend his arm, trying to reach her.


The motorized support arm retracted the positron rifle to its stowed position, behind Unit 00's back, before the Eva climbed out of a pit. "Direct hit, target destroyed," reported Shinji.

"Excellent. Guard the wreckage; a recovery team will arrive in 15 minutes."

"Yes, Sir." As he approached Ryoko, her body seemed to shrink. The Pilot adjusted his optics; the body continued shrinking. He changed his radar frequency. "Target lost. My sensors are inoperable, due to a malfunction or countermeasures."

"Continue searching."


0620 hr. Sea Dragons stealthily approached Security Section 2A. Four aimed their G11 4.7 mm caseless rifles at the peacekeepers guarding 2A, as four threw smoke grenades to blind the peacekeepers and the security camera over the gate. The Sea Dragons used rifle-mounted IR sights to see the peacekeepers reach for their radio headsets; they shot and killed the peacekeepers before a warning could be transmitted.

The Sea Dragons approached the gate. The captain used the access codes, provided by agents in NERV Japan, to open the gate. The lieutenant examined the bodies of the peacekeepers, who were probably of Japanese descent. "I'm sorry," he whispered as his subordinates tossed the bodies into a ditch.

Maj Aida stood in 2A's radio room, staring at a monitor. 'Where there's smoke, there's fire.' He turned towards his XO. "Send the relief force." The XO drew his USP instead. "What...?"

The XO shot and killed Aida, and then changed his radio frequency. "Radio room secure," he reported to the Sea Dragon captain.

The Sea Dragons lead Mana to a second gate, behind the radio room. Something shiny around Aida's neck, which fell out from under his shirt when the man died, attracted the girl's attention. Mana looked through the radio room window and saw a transparent photograph holder attached to a cable, beside Aida's ID tag; the photo showed a UNSF lieutenant with his wife and four-year-old son, an image that spellbound her. 'They look so happy together. Was I ever this happy with my family? I wish I could remember.'

The gate opened. The captain waved a hand, ordering his men to follow him into the base. "Iron Maiden," called the lieutenant, who was serving as rear guard.

Mana sighed and followed the Sea Dragons through the gate.


Misato glanced at her watch, losing her patience. "Have you restored communications with Unit 01A?"

"No, the radiation's still too strong," answered Makoto.

"You've been tricked," interrupted Kaji.

Misato instinctively aimed her USP at her ex-boyfriend. "How the hell did you get in here?"

"That's not important. What's important is who else is coming here." He pushed Makoto's hand off the keyboard.


Kaji ignored Makoto's protest as his fingers tap-danced on the keyboard. The static dissipated, revealing a smiley face, a cracker's signature.

"What the...?"

Misato slammed Kaji against a wall. "What the hell was that?!" Red lights flashed in the command center as an alarm howled.

"Special Order Alpha-801: abolishment of NERV's special legal protection and transfer of all command, including the Evas, to the Japanese government," answered Kaji. The command center shook as Matsushiro's air defenses and JSSDF aircraft exchanged fire. "They intend to execute Pilot Bond and seize Unit 04, a decisive weapon in the coming war with China."

"China?" Makoto remembered the nation had 200 ICBMs, more than enough to bomb the Japanese islands into the sea. "Oh shit!"

Misato tried to remain calm as she asked, "Has the JSSDF seized control of the government?"

"The Self-Defense Forces have controlled the government since 2000, when Osato detonated the N² bomb to justify the invasion of Korea."


"They'll kill Bond if we don't hurry."

Misato turned to Makoto. "We're going to rescue Shiro. Lockdown this place and warn the Americans."

"Yes, Ma'am!" 'God have mercy upon us all,' thought Makoto, watching them exit the command center.


Misato asked, "How do you know all this?" as she ran towards the infirmary.

"I'm an agent of the Ministry of the Interior; I've been working for Osato since 2007," answered Kaji.


"Many children were orphaned when old Tokyo was destroyed, including my brother and I. Our country spent too much money on the war; we became dependent upon American goodwill to rebuild Tokyo. We homeless children banded together for survival, stealing food from the old US military bases. We took too many risks; the base security eventually found our hideaway. My brother and my friends were all killed.

"Like many people, I blamed foreign nations, and the pacifist politicians who made us dependent upon these nations, for what happened. I agreed to help Osato strengthen Japan, to reforge the Great Japanese Empire."

"But Osato..."

"I only learned the truth two hours ago, after I spent all night hacking into Osato's computer."

'No wonder you look so haggard.' Their stopped running when a SP fired a warning shot.

"Freeze, motherfuckers!" "Put your hands over your head!" "Get down on your knees!" SPs surrounded the two, searched them, confiscated their weapons, handcuffed them, and dragged them into Shiro's room. "What the fuck is going on here?!" demanded the SP platoon leader.

"JSSDF Sea Dragons are coming," answered Kaji. "They're going to kill Pilot Bond and anyone who gets in their way."


"We have to get him to the Eva cages; the best place to hide him is inside Unit 04," added Misato. The SPs didn't move. "Well? Are you gonna help us, or are you gonna stay here and get slaughtered?"

"Shit!" The platoon leader pointed at Shiro. "Get him out of here!"

"Yes, Sir!" The SPs used two IV stands and the blanket to make an improvised litter. Two SPs carried Shiro, while two others dragged Misato and Kaji out the door.

"Don't shoot!" called the platoon leader as they entered the cage. Two Asian men, wearing USAF uniforms, greeted the SPs. The platoon leader pointed at Shiro. "Get him..." Bang! "Ahhhh!"

"Surrender or die!" ordered the disguised DIH agent. When the SPs hesitated, he nodded to a Sea Dragon, who dragged Holly towards them. "Surrender, or she dies!" The SPs laid down their weapons. "Kaji Ryoji," greeted the agent. "What are you doing?"

"Trying to prevent a war," answered Kaji.

"By aiding the foreigners?"

"The PM is wrong. Oomph!" The agent kicked Kaji, punishing him for his words. "The Eva cannot save Japan; it'll only tempt us into starting a war we cannot win."

"We have three Evas; the chinks have one," claimed the agent. "We will conquer China in three months." He turned to Mana. "Get in the cockpit."

"Yes, Sir." The girl put on Asuka's neural interface headset and entered the elevator that would carry her to Unit 04's entry plug; she played 'Metal Gear Revolution 2' to prepare for this. (The game programmers originally planned to have the player receive weapons from the cyborg ninja, which could destroy Metal Gear Rex, a "robot tyrannosaur" equipped with an electromagnetic rail gun to launch nuclear warheads. The JSSDF ordered the programmers to have the player pilot Metal Gear Rex 2 in battle against Liquid Snake in Rex 1; the Metal Gears were also redesigned to resemble Evangelion Unit 01.) Mana turned away as the agent prepared to execute the enemy pilot.

"Noooo!" Misato rammed her shoulder into the agent's back, spoiling his aim. He quickly recovered, and jabbed his elbow into her lower back. "Ah!" The agent aimed his pistol below her rib cage, sending the bullet through Misato's liver, diaphragm, and right lung.

"Misatoooo!" cried Kaji.

The agent ignored the blood on his hands. The smell awakened Bond; the boy was whispering something. "Nothing personal, kid." He aimed his pistol at Bond's head. "Ahhhh!" he cried as Jurai energy melted the pistol and seared the flesh from his hand. The people instinctively shut their eyes and knelt down a blinding light permeated the hangar.


0650 hr. Unit 00 stepped over Unit 01A's helmet, the only part of the wreckage remaining where the Eva's upper body fell; the blood was randomly spilled, with no trails or other clues to what happened to the rest. MV-1s hovered over the place where the lower body fell.

"Do you see anything?" asked the recovery team leader.

"Negative," answered Shinji.

"Where the hell did it go?"

A volcano erupted behind Unit 00; Ryoko was tired of hiding underground. As the Eva turned rearwards and extended its rifle, a LH Sword slashed its chest, cutting its rifle in half. Shinji cried, "Mother!" as antimatter flowed from the rifle and reacted with Unit 00's blood, consuming the Eva in an earthshaking explosion.

Panic gripped the recovery team's hearts, like an eagle's talon. "Unit 00 is down!" "Oh my God!" "Get...!" Silence fell after the MV-1s were shot down.

"Shiro..." Ryoko changed out of her demon form before teleporting back to the command center.


The assassin's flaming skeleton fell apart, its bones rolling to join the Sea Dragons' smoking bodies. "Justice. Vengeance." He released the crushed skull, formed two LH Wings, and flew towards the Eva to be reborn.

Kaji, Holly, and the SPs stared at the Angel. "Bond?"

"Gasp!" Misato felt like molten metal was poured down her throat. "What...?" Although her clothes were soaked in blood, she was no longer injured. "How...?" She saw the Angel. "Shiro?"

The name was meaningless to the Angel. He approached the shivering girl beside the elevator.

"Please don't kill me, please don't kill me, please..." Mana couldn't close her eyes, couldn't look away from the blue-gray fires burning into her soul. Fear paralyzed her as the Angel gently took the headset and placed it in the entry plug. She watched the Angel dissolve into LCL, which flowed into Unit 04's socket. Then she fainted.

The Eva roared as it broke free of the cage. It tore off its breastplate, pauldrons, and vambraces, allowing its muscles and sinews to expand to twice their original size. Bony spikes extended from the collarbones and along its back, protecting the Eva's throat and spinal cord; bony plates protected the chest and abdomen. Zeruel, Angel of Might, was free.

"Oh shit!" exclaimed Holly.

Misato put her hands on the engineer's shoulders. "What the hell is happening to Shiro?!"

Holly watched Zeruel, the fusion of Shiro's rage and Unit 04's strength, fly through the ceiling. "I had no idea the Evas were so powerful." She turned to Misato. "When I joined the Evangelion Project, I was told the armor was really restraints to suppress the Evas' intrinsic power, so we could control them. Now... Ah!" she cried when Misato suddenly dropped her onto the floor.

Ryoko lifted Misato into the air. "Missy, where's Shiro?!" The woman could only point at the hole in the ceiling. "Damn! You're coming with me!" She teleported Misato to the only man who could help Shiro.

The survivors stared at the spot where Ryoko and Misato were. "To the command center!" ordered Holly. "We must find out what's going on!"

"Yes, Ma'am!"


Osato watched the monitor, which displayed images taken by a reconnaissance drone. Zeruel rained energy bolts on the JSSDF units that participated in the attack, killing over 1000 soldiers. Fighters and transports fell like burning arrows, while tanks and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) popped like firecrackers. The Angel captured the commander and his XO, bit off their legs, and licked the bloody stumps to make them scream in pain, before devouring them.

"D-doctor Ikari? W-what do you p-propose?"

The woman smiled, savoring the sights and sounds of death and destruction. "I propose nothing; you are no longer of any use to me."

"How dare you...!" He pointed his finger at the woman. "I order you to..." An anti-AT field dissolved his extended arm. "Ahhhh! You monster!" He tried to run, but the anti-AT field dissolved his lower legs.

"That which does not become one with the void, shall be consumed by it," stated the woman. "You were destined to be consumed. Do not run from your destiny." A blinding light enveloped her as she returned to the Astral Plane.



2205 hr, GMT. Ryoko and Misato flew down the corridors of MI6 HQ, ignoring the shocked expressions on the people who saw them. They finally found James in the operations room. "Grandpa!"

James turned away from the monitor, which showed Zeruel attacking Tokyo-2. "Ryoko, Japan's strategic missile forces are at full alert! What the devil has happened over there?!" He noticed the woman in the NERV uniform. "And who is this lovely lady?"

"Grandpa, this is Katsuragi Misato, Captain, UN NERV," answered Ryoko.

Misato stared at the man who gave Shiro his blue-gray eyes. "Where am I?"

"MI6 Headquarters," answered M. "You must be Pilot Ryoko." She shook the girl's hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you."


"Now, can you explain what happened?"

"PM Osato Kenshin ordered the JSSDF to attack Matsushiro and capture Evangelion Unit 04. Shiro-- he..." Misato couldn't find the words to describe what happened.

"He's trapped inside that monster!" exclaimed Ryoko.

"What?! How?!"

"The bastards tried to kill Shiro. He used Jurai energy to defend himself... at the cost of his humanity," answered Misato.

James pointed at Zeruel. "You mean that monster is... my grandson?" He interpreted Ryoko and Misato's silence as an affirmative. "How can we restore his humanity?!"

"We will help you."

The MI6 personnel instinctively aimed their pistols at the women who teleported into the room. James stared at them. "And you are..."

The woman with red hair and green eyes posed, a teacher lecturing a student. "I'm Hakubi Washu, the beautiful Goddess of the Mind and the greatest scientific genius in the entire universe!" She maniacally laughed.

The woman with blue hair and pink eyes bowed. "I am Tsunami, Goddess of the Heart."

Washu turned to her creation. "It's been a long time, Ryoko."

"Do I know you?" asked Ryoko.

"I'm your creator. Actually, I'm more like your mother; you see, I used my own ova to build you." She poked the girl's breasts. "I'm glad you've been working out, but you need to do more upper body exercises to successfully engage in visual-psychological warfare."

"Visual-psychological warfare?"

"Erotic warfare." Washu laughed when Ryoko blushed.

"Madam, the Angel is attacking Missile Base Alpha!" The monitor showed Zeruel lunging at the command center.

"Gasp!" Ryoko tumbled in midair, holding the sides of her head.

"Are you alright?" asked James.

"I can feel Shiro's pain... his anger... his hatred."

"Oh my God!" The technician vomited as Zeruel devoured two men.

"Do you know why Shiro's attacking the missile bases?" asked James.

"The garrison commander... his deputy... they're two of the Nine, the men who killed Shiro's parents."

"Madam, the Japanese PM has issued a firing order! Missile Bases Bravo, Charlie, and Delta are preparing to launch their missiles!"

"Madam, the PLA Second Artillery," China's strategic missile forces, "is on full alert!"

Washu sighed. "What a bother." A hologram of a feral girl appeared beside her. "Ryo-Ohki, I need your help."

"What is it, Mama?" said the girl.

Washu scanned pointed at the monitor. "Here are the locations of three missile bases. Don't let them launch their missiles."

"Okay, Mama!" The hologram disappeared.

Washu turned to James. "You need the Master Key's power to save Shiro."

"It's at Lionheart Castle."

"I can take you there," added Ryoko.

Tsunami put her hand on James' shoulder. "Your grandson has great trust and confidence in you; without you, the Master Key cannot save him."

James turned to his commander. "M, I must go if we hope to end this crisis."

M sighed. "Very well."

Ryoko took Misato's hand. "You too." The five teleported to the castle.


Darkness enveloped Washu. 'What the...? My Psycho Booster No. 3A must have worked perfectly! I must be inside Shiro Bond's mind! Why...?' Red lightning flashed, revealing a ghost of her past.

"Why are you here?" demanded Kagato.

Washu examined her surroundings. "Is this the inside of your mind, Shiro Bond?" She saw no change in the ghost's expression; the name was meaningless to the ghost. "The darkness of fear, illuminated only by flashes of anger and hatred?"

"Why are you here?"

"You use another man's face. Have you forgotten your own? Don't you remember your name, or who you are?"

Kagato seemed to burn as psychic energy surged through his body. (Humans couldn't see psychic energy; Kagato would be invisible to them.) "You don't belong here. Leave, or I will devour your soul."

Washu projected a LH Wing. "Go ahead, make my day."

Kagato arrogantly laughed. "The Angel of Death cannot stop me! Why do you think you can?"

"You know how powerful Ryoko is. As her mother, my powers excel hers."

"You traitor!" Psychic energy crashed against the wing, a spear against a shield. "You abandoned Ryoko, letting her freeze in an earthen prison for 700 years! You don't deserve to be her mother!"

Washu's wing dimmed; she was losing the resolve that allowed her to resist the attack. "I-- I didn't want to leave her. Before Kagato died, he ordered Ryoko to destroy Earth; he wanted revenge against Yosho. I couldn't reprogram Ryoko to cancel the order; I had no choice."

Kagato formed a LH Sword. "She's better off without you, without someone to betray her." He raised the sword...

"Noooo!" The wing focused into a sword, piercing Kagato's heart. The ghost howled as it disappeared. Tears flowed down Washu's cheeks as she swore, "I won't abandon her again. I won't let anyone hurt her, not you, not Kagato, and not myself." The sword cut through the darkness, revealing a white light. Washu wiped away the tears as she flew towards the light, away from her nightmare.


Darkness enveloped Misato. 'Where?' She extended her hands, and felt a curved wall. 'What?' Her hands slid upon the wall, grasped a handle, and pulled. "Gasp!"

Four wings of light pierced the heavens as the 1st Angel awakened, causing the 2nd Impact. She was trapped within this memory, within the escape pod that carried her to safety when Antarctica was destroyed in an instant.


The 14-year-old girl turned rearwards. "Father?" His body was translucent, like a negative; his legs extended into the escape pod's outer wall.

"This place is cursed," said the ghost of the man who sacrificed his life for Misato. "Leave."

"I..." Misato remembered she came for a reason, although she couldn't remember it. "I can't-- I won't, not until I..."

The ghost's facade decayed as he expressed his rage, becoming demonic. "Leave, or I will devour your soul." The specter of death reached for Misato; flesh fell off his hand, revealing a bony claw.


"Wake up, Missy!" Washu put her hand on the girl's shoulder.

The ghost frowned. "This is your final warning. Leave."

"Make me!" Washu's wing shielded Misato from the psychic attack. The escape pod, the ocean, and the 1st Angel faded into darkness. The ghost roared in anger as it slashed at the women. "Missy, do not give in to your fear! Do not let him use it against you!" Misato continued screaming. "Remember who you are! You're a military officer! You must not succumb to fear, but be a bulwark against it, protecting the soldiers under your command!"

Misato stopped screaming. "To protect the soldiers under my command?" A tear flowed down her cheek. "An officer's duty, one I failed to perform. I couldn't protect Asuka... I couldn't protect Shiro... I couldn't protect Toji from the machinations of my own commander! How can I call myself an officer now?!" The tear shined as it fell, a lone star in the night sky.

The ghost stopped attacking as he watched the teardrop fall, becoming a distant light. "I'm sorry." Then he disappeared.

"Are you okay?" asked Washu.

"No," answered Misato.

"Close enough." Only the light remained. Washu carried Misato to it, away from the nightmare.


"Murderer!" "Butcher!" "Monster!" "Beast!" The ghosts of millions of sentient beings, Ryoko's victims, charged.

The girl calmly faced the tidal wave of grief, rage, and hatred. "I'm sorry." Ryoko didn't try to hide, run, or fight; she didn't want to live with her guilt anymore. A hand scratched at her face, drawing blood. 'Soon...'

A LH Wing appeared before the girl, isolating her. "Howl!" "Hiss!" "Noooo!" The ghosts clawed at the wing.

"You're not safe here."

Ryoko recognized the voice. "Kagato!" She formed a sword and spun like a propeller, determined to kill her former master.

Kagato caught the blade with a gloved hand. "Leave, before the darkness here devours you."

Ryoko looked into the ghost's eyes, seeing none of Kagato's arrogant cruelty. "Who are you?"

"You're running out of time."

She dissipated her sword; the ghost wasn't a threat. "I can't; the man I love is trapped here."

"There's no love here, only hatred, rage, and fear." The victims were still screaming, still clawing at the wing.

"I don't believe it-- I don't believe Shiro lost all of his humanity."

"Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody. You've seen the darkness in a human heart; the boy's better off without humanity."

"I've also seen the light in a human heart," countered Ryoko.

Crack! The victims' constant battery was breaking the wing. "You're running out of time; leave, or the darkness will devour you."

Ryoko turned to her victims. "I won't run from my responsibility; let them come."


The girl raised her head. Washu and Misato flew towards her; the ghosts faded away under the light of their souls. "Washu? Missy?"

"Call me Mama," insisted Washu.

Misato took Ryoko's hand. "Let's get out of here."

Ryoko turned rearwards; Kagato had disappeared. "Fine."


James walked along a French beach, beside the only woman he'd ever loved. The setting sun painted the sea blood red. "Why are you here, Tracy?"

La Contesse Teresa "Tracy" di Vicenzo smiled. "Why are you here?" she playfully asked.

"I-- I came..." He tried to remember. "I came to help someone close to me."

She pointed at herself. "Me?"


Tracy laughed. "I'm hurt, James. Who's closer to you than the woman you love?"

"I..." James frowned in frustration. "I can't remember."

She took his hand. "Shall we go now?" She led him away from the beach, towards an Aston Martin DB5 sports car parked by the road. "Why do you love me?"

James thought for a moment. "Because I see myself reflected in your eyes."

"What do you mean?"

"We're more alike than I'd dare admit. We've both made reckless bets with all our money, our reputations, and our lives... escaping the depression that follows a loved one's death, with the thrill of gambling." Tracy became suicidal after the death of her infant daughter, the product of an earlier marriage; James shared such feelings every time he lost someone he loved.

Tracy's gait became mechanical, losing its feminine grace; the revelation disturbed her, and she tried to hide this emotion. "I didn't know you had such feelings."

"I buried them deep within my heart; it was the only way I could survive. When you... left... I lost my most important reason for living. I became a weapon, an instrument of vengeance. After achieving my revenge, after surviving every trial I faced, I felt... lost. I didn't find another reason for living until..." James froze, remembering why he came. "Dear God! Shiro!" He ran away from Tracy, towards the sea.

"No, James! It's too dangerous!" Tracy tried to stop him, but she couldn't take another step forward.

"Spy!" "Assassin!" "Terrorist!" Hundreds of ghosts, the men who died by James' hands, rose from the sea. "Dieeee!"

Fear threatened to paralyze James as he reached for his shoulder holster. Instead of a Walther Polizei Pistole Kriminal (PPK) 7.65 mm, his hand gripped the Sword of Heaven and Earth.


James' fear disappeared as he drew the sword, which enveloped him with blue light. "Get out of my way!" Bang! He turned rearwards, seeing Tracy lying on her back, blood rushing from a hole in her forehead. "Noooo!" As Tracy's body faded away, consumed by the night, James lowered the sword; he had no defense against this memory, no determination to defend himself against the vengeful ghosts who clawed at him...


"James!" Washu embraced the man, carrying him into the sky. "Wake up! Your memories are being used against you! You must resist!"

"Washu?" James smiled. "But I cannot resist your beauty. I surrender to your..."

Washu blushed. "Business first." Ryoko laughed, shaking Misato and forcing the woman to hide her fear.

"Why is he attacking the people he love? Is he still capable of love?" asked Misato.

"Shiro blames himself for his mother's death and, I presume, for Asuka's. His heart is weighted with guilt and grief; we're passengers on a sinking ship, following it into the void," said James.

"You mean we must save him to save ourselves?"

Washu stated, "We still have the option of exiting Shiro Bond's mind and abandoning him..."

Three voices simultaneously declared, "No!" with passion that shook Washu's body.

"I'll be damned if I abandon my grandson."

"I cannot live with myself if I fail another soldier under my command."

"We will save him," swore Ryoko.


The starlight revealed pine trees that pierced the sky like raised swords. "Where are we?" asked Misato.

"The Lion's Teeth," answered James. Terrified screams and anguished cries filled the forest. Misato gasped as streams of blood ran past them; Washu and Ryoko suppressed their fear as they formed LH Swords. "In 1312, during the War of Independence, 300 English warriors attacked Lionheart Hamlet, while three warships surrounded the castle. When Laird Roger II, my ancestor, refused to surrender, the English beheaded every man in the hamlet, catapulted the heads over the castle walls, and set the fields on fire. One night, nine brave men rowed nine fishing boats, filled with tar, towards the warships. They lit the tar before jumping out of the boats, into the sea. As the English ships burned, Laird Roger II led 20 knights and their horses through a secret passageway. They emerged behind the English lines, put on demon masks, and tied oily rags around their swords. They lit the rags before attacking the English, who, terrified by the demons with fiery swords, abandoned their camp. That night, Lionheart and his knights killed 80 English warriors and captured 50 more, while losing none of their own.

"To avenge his people, Laird Roger II staked the captives to the trees. Their screams echoed through the forest for days, warning the English to fear Lionheart's wrath."

Washu was shocked. 'How can a son of Jurai do something like this?! Did the humans teach him to be a monster? Or was he...?' She didn't want to believe the Jurai, her family and friends, could commit such atrocities.

"The castle is this way." James fearlessly walked down a forest path. The women turned to each other, silently asking if they were doing the right thing, before they ran after him.

"Oh my God!" "Gasp!"

"Save me!" begged the man in the JSSDF uniform. Blood flowed from the iron stakes in his wrists and feet, forming a pool of blood at the roots.


James turned to Misato. "You know this man?"

She nodded. "He's the JSSDF liaison to NERV."

"He's one of the Nine," deadpanned Ryoko.

Red light enveloped the Colonel, drawing an anguished howl. "What the hell is Shiro doing to him?!" demanded Misato.

"He's hacking into the man's memories, seeking the identities of his accomplices," answered Washu.

"I can't let him suffer like this." Misato reached for a stake. Jurai energy enveloped the Colonel, burning the woman's hand. "Ow!" She covered her ears when intensity of the man's pain and the sound of his screams were magnified. "Shiro, stop it! You're hurting him!"

"Why? The pain he feels is only a fraction of the pain he inflicted on Shiro," hissed Ryoko.

James turned to the girl. "Humans don't want to believe they're capable of such violence, of behavior they describe as 'inhumane.' Shiro is sacrificing his humanity to do this, sacrificing his ability to express love in order to express his hate."

Ryoko's anger was drowned beneath this fear. "God save him..."


0715 hr, Tokyo Time. Two MC-2s and their escorts, eight F-2s, turned away as the N² warheads detonated, enveloping Zeruel in fire and smoke. "Mission accomplished," said the squadron leader. The planes had only flown 100 meters when energy bolts transformed the MC-2s and seven F-2s into fireballs. The squadron leader didn't have time to gasp when his fighter was sliced in half, triggering an automatic ejection. He screamed when a giant hand caught his ejection seat; he fell silent when Zeruel crushed his rib cage, pushing the broken bones through the man's lungs. The Angel tasted hot tears when it devoured the man.


"Ahhhh!" Four stakes extended from a tree trunk. Blood flowed from the stakes, formed arms and legs, and solidified into flesh and bone. The fighter pilot joined the Nine in hell.

James noticed the man's dramatic arrival. "Who is he?"

Ryoko stared at the pilot. "He dropped the bomb that killed Ojiisama, Aunt Nadeshiko, and Aunt Sakura."

"I thought you were Shiro's grandfather?" asked Misato.

"Shiro's father was adopted by Tiger Tanaka," explained James.

"The 'great patriot' who was assassinated two weeks ago?"

"We were brothers-in-arms."

Four minutes later, a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force general joined the Nine and the pilot. "He's the one who ordered the bombing," added Ryoko.

"We have to stop this!" declared Misato.

"We must first restore Shiro's faith in humanity." James led the women down the forest path, which became Lionheart Hamlet's thoroughfare. "There." The smell of blood and smoke was suffocating; Washu and Misato tried to ignore the mutilated bodies as they walked past the burning buildings. A shadow engulfed them as they approached the castle.

"Who goes there?!" demanded the guards.

"Laird James Bond, Baron of Lionheart!" he declared, using the title for the first time in his life. The guards gasped, and began arguing with each other. James raised the Sword of Heaven and Earth. "I am the master of the castle, and I am going in!" Ryoko sensed that James wouldn't wait for the guards to lower the drawbridge, and carried him over the raging waves. The knights in the courtyard respectfully parted, allowing James and Ryoko to land, followed by Washu and Misato.

"Where do we start?" asked Misato.

James watched Ryoko move stiffly towards her former prison, fighting the paralyzing effects of fear. "The chapel." He put a reassuring hand on the woman's shoulder, before approaching the door. Washu and Misato raced after him as he pulled the handle...

"Mama!" A four-year-old Shiro tackled his mother, knocking her onto the floor as the men in black opened fire. The men in black looked through the window frame, confirmed Tanaka Tetsuji's death, and climbed out of sight.

"Oh my God..." James, Ryoko, Washu, and Misato stood in the doorway.

The woman stirred. "Shi-chan?" She grimaced when she felt something sticky on her leg, and looked downwards. "Shi-chan! Noooo!" A stray bullet had pierced his skull. The woman embraced Shiro's body and rocked back and forth, as if the boy was only sleeping. "Noooo!"

"I should've given my life to save her."

They turned rearwards; two blue-gray fires burned, the only things they could see in the darkness. "Shiro?"

"The tragedy would've traumatized her, but my mother had an iron will; she would've recovered. Ojiisama, Aunt Nadeshiko, and Aunt Sakura would've protected her. My father had friends who'd comfort her. Eventually, she would've remarried; she'd share her love with others." A monster, darker than the darkness, appeared; the fires became its eyes. "Sadly, I couldn't save her. I couldn't save the people I love. All I can do now... is avenge them."

A light appeared behind James, Ryoko, Washu, and Misato. They turned rearwards. "Gasp!" Zeruel had burst through a bomb shelter, Osato's command center. The Japanese PM screamed as the Angel reached for him. "What are you doing, Shiro?!" demanded Misato.

"He ordered the assassination of my parents." Zeruel slowly squeezed Osato; the man would die slowly, painfully.

"Killing him won't bring your parents back!"

"I will not let him murder another child's parents. I will not let another child live with the pain I lived with." Zeruel continued squeezing. Tears flowed down Osato's cheeks; he was too weak to scream.

Rage filled Misato's heart. "Asuka didn't fall in love with a monster!"

"Asuka died because I feared using my powers, because I feared I'd become monster-- one of many fears that ruled my life for ten years, despite my efforts to suppress them." Osato was coughing blood; a broken rib had pierced his lungs. "Now I am free from fear."

Ryoko cried; the man she loved was losing his humanity, his ability to love. "Shiro, please..."

"Don't blame yourself for what happened." Light penetrated the darkness, placing a gentle hand over the monster's terrible claws.

Misato watched a ghost move beside the monster. "Asuka?!"

"Don't hate yourself. I was willing to give my life for you, just as you were willing to give your life for me." Asuka looked into the blue-gray fires. "I loved you because you were loveable. Please love yourself, okay?" She kissed him, becoming a flash of light that burned away the darkness.

Ryoko felt free from fear, anger, and hatred for the first time in her life. She heard Asuka say, "Please take care of him," as the light enveloped her.


0720 hr. "Where am I?" Then Misato recognized her surroundings. She approached the man who, although his chest wounds were healed by Jurai energy, was missing his right arm and both legs. "Osato Kenshin, I hereby arrest you in the name of UN NERV." Osato's bodyguards couldn't stop her; Zeruel had terrified them, paralyzing them.

"What kept you?" asked Washu.

"I'm sorry." Tsunami bowed. "Shiro Bond's heart could only be touched by one like his own. I couldn't help him by myself, so I traveled to Valhalla. Father released the soul of Soryu Asuka Langley to my care; it was she who freed Shiro Bond from the darkness."

"Oh well." Washu embraced her sister. "Thanks, Tsunami."

"Shiro!" Ryoko carried the young man out of the socket for Unit 04's entry plug.

"Where's Grandpa?"

"James Bond is at Lionheart Castle, with the Sword of Heaven and Earth," answered Tsunami. "Here," she handed him a Jurai nobleman's kimono.

Ryoko embraced Shiro from behind, helping him put on the coat. "Let's go home."


Maiko embraced her brother. "There, there. Don't cry." She rocked him back and forth, like a mother, ignoring the blood on his hands and the mutilated bodies on the floor.

Toji's grandfather bandaged his son, who miraculously survived a bullet to the chest. Toji's father stared at the boy; shock, wonder, terror, sympathy, and disgust fought to be expressed on his face. JSSDF soldiers came for Toji, his father tried to stop them, a soldier shot the man, and then... "What happened?" "It must be the alien DNA that goddamned German injected into Toji." "Yes, you're right. Toji couldn't have-- wouldn't have..."

The boy turned away from his sister. "Argh!" He vomited to purge his stomach of the human flesh he ate, trying to cleanse his soul of the monstrous act he'd committed. Maiko patted his back while his grandfather poured a glass of water for him.


Fuyutsuki ignored the pain in his knee, waiting for Osato's return. 'If Yui were alive, what would she...?' The door opened. "It's you."

"Good morning, Subcommander Fuyutsuki." Kaji Ryoji grabbed Fuyutsuki's coat, pulled him out of the chair, and carried him to the door.

'How did he gain such strength? Through genetic engineering?' "This action will result in your death."

Kaji marched past the guards' headless bodies. "I have no reason to fear you."

Fuyutsuki suppressed a gasp. "What do you fear?"

"The Chaos-Bringer." He carried Fuyutsuki into the elevator.

"Look in a mirror."

"Your sarcasm does not amuse me." The elevator carried them to the roof.

"Are you taking me to see Chairman Keel?" He gasped when a flash of light blinded him.


0850 hr. SEALs, US Navy Special Forces operators from the USS George H. W. Bush, escorted Holly down the hall. Navy fighters and helicopters circled above the building, preventing the JSDF from interfering. (Zeruel had decimated the JSSDF.) They arrived at an intersection. "Where?"

Kaji, his hands tied behind his back, looked left. "There." They marched 50 meters down the hall.

"Gasp!" The SEALs automatically formed a circle around Holly and Kaji, aiming their weapons outwards. Holly could still see the headless bodies. "What the hell happened here?!" She turned sideways. "Mr. Kaji?"

Kaji curled into the fetal position. "Sho, sho, sho, sho, ku..."

"What's so cool?"

"Shockwave..." He shivered in fear; the SEALs had to carry him out of the building.


To be concluded...