Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ Evangelion: Third Genesis ❯ Chapter 31

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

Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Thirty
There was a soft hiss of movement as they descended the elevator moving gently downward into the depths of the NERV facility. Misato, Ritsuko, and Maya stood to one side, talking, even as Asuka, Rei and Yui-shinji stood together nearby.
"I wonder what they're being so mysterious about?" Asuka Soryuu Langley asked irritably, the orange haired young woman dressed in a NERV uniform. Her eye patch seemed to darken her face slightly, combining with her irritation to give her a grim look.
"I'm not sure," Rei Ayanami answered mildly, her dark blue hair falling into her eyes.
"Wonder if we're going all the way down to the Skunk Works?" Yui mused, brown hair just a bit untidy looking. She looked casual in her jump suit, wearing a borrowed lab coat over it and her pockets loaded with notebook, pens and personal computer.
"Skunk Works?" Asuka looked confused.
"It's the nickname the research and development wing has," Maya Ibuki said faintly apologetically, "taken from the R&D wing of Lougheed-Martin aircraft."
"Ah," Rei nodded slightly in understanding.
"Is that where we're going?" Misato Katsuragi asked impatiently, her black hair swept back from her face. Like usual she was out of uniform, wearing a casual dress and her red jacket, her rank insignia pinned on the collar. She was less than pleased with her staff being mysterious, only going along because Ritsuko had urged her to.
"Just be patient a few more moments," Maya smiled, her short brown hair and uniform giving her a decidedly boyish look.
Ritsuko Akagi looked amused as the blonde remarked, "You have to admit that Misato's never been known for her patience."
Misato rolled her eyes, "Gee, thanks."
Yui shook her head at their interactions, smiling wryly. "So how's school been going?" she asked Asuka and Rei curiously.
Asuka made an ugly face at that while Rei just smiled mildly. "It was annoying enough going to school here the first time around," Asuka complained grumpily, "it feels like it's even more of a waste of time, now."
Rei squeezed her hand gently. "I like it," she revealed, "especially spending time with our friends Hikaru, Toji and Aida."
Before anyone could comment on that they came to a stop with a soft thump, the platform resting in a simple cradle. A motorized walkway came online and Maya gestured to it as she said, "It's not far now."
"It had better be," Misato grumped as they all stepped on, "I can't even use my cell phone to check in with the office down here."
"Consider this a break from that," Asuka offered with a slight smile.
It only took them a minute or so to reach the doorway, Maya typing in the access code easily from memory. The heavy door opened up to reveal an observation platform and beyond that... a giant. Partially submerged it looked like an Evangelion at first, but the small details were slightly off. Muscular and well developed it looked healthy, much more human than an Evangelion, an almost human face gazing out from a mask that concealed the lower face.
"I'd like to present Unit-Alpha," Maya said to them with obvious pride in her voice, "the first of the new Archangels."
"I'll be damned," Misato breathed out. She had seen it in various stages of construction, of course, but seeing it fully functional was an entirely different experience.
"It's not entirely ready to go yet," Ritsuko cautioned them all, "but we're nearly there."
Yui seemed to shake herself out of her stunned silence, the boy's body she inhabited looking surprisingly mature. "I suspect it's the programming that's taking the extra time?" she guessed.
"Exactly," Maya nodded seriously, "we had to throw out the coding for the original Evangelions and start from scratch."
"Why?" Asuka asked, unable to tear her eyes away from the red painted Archangel.
"After debugging the code we ultimately found it was incompatible with the Archangel's systems," Ritsuko revealed.
"I'd like to help," Yui murmured.
"We'll be glad to have you," Maya agreed.
Quietly Asuka moved over to Rei's side, where the dark blue haired girl gazed out at the giant figure. "Are you all right?" she asked her.
Rei smiled up at her gratefully and said, "I think so." She looked back out at Unit Alpha, "It's strange, but when I'm around the Evangelions I can feel a presence within them.... but there's nothing from the Archangel."
"Isn't that interesting?" Ritsuko murmured to Misato.
Misato also kept her voice down, "I guess she still has enough of Adam's DNA to maintain that connection. But why doesn't she get anything from the Archangel?"
Ritsuko and Misato made their way to one of the railings, looking out across the pool that the Archangel stood waiting in. "We've known for a while now that the Evangelions have," Ritsuko hesitated, "a consciousness or possibly a soul."
Tactfully Misato didn't mention that one of those souls might be Ritsuko's mother. "Right," she prompted her.
"With the Archangel we think we've managed to avoid that," Ritsuko continued, "but we'll need to run final tests to be sure. It's also why we needed to throw out the Evangelion operating system... it took into account the consciousness of the Unit."
"Makes sense," Misato conceded.
Yui moved over to where Asuka and Rei stood. "I noticed it's been painted in your colors," she said to Asuka, "how do you feel?"
"Excited but nervous," Asuka admitted. She looked at the Archangel, "I mean if all goes according to plan I may be flying that into space after Shinji."
Rei put a hand on her arm and squeezed, "I know you can do it."
"I haven't seen much of you yet," Yui murmured, "but I'm certain you can do it." She looked thoughtful as she gazed off into the distance, "I just wish I knew for sure he wanted to be rescued."
Asuka blinked at her in surprise, "Do you really think he's happier inside the Unit-01?"
Yui puffed out a breath as she admitted, "I don't really know. All I've got is a nagging feeling I can't quite explain."
Maya joined Ritsuko and Misato, smiling in pride as they all observed her teams' work. "I noticed it's been painted for Asuka," Misato noted.
"She is our primary pilot so far," Maya acknowledged. She looked at Misato curiously, "Are we seriously considering other pilot candidates?"
"Not really," Misato conceded, "I suppose I'm just being pessimistic."
Quietly Ritsuko said, "I know that Shinji's friend Aida has wanted to be an Evangelion pilot for awhile, and we could always approach their classmates." She saw the irritated look on Misato's face and sighed, "You originally suggested we look into it."
Maya looked a bit concerned as she saw Misato face actually get grimmer. "It is possible Asuka won't synch with the Unit Alpha," she cautioned her, "we need to be prepared."
"I know," Misato said, "I just keep thinking of what happened to Asuka and Toji. I don't want to see another child hurt that way."
"Neither do I," Ritsuko shrugged, "but our responsibilities may not leave us with any choice."
"Yeah, maybe." Misato shook off her annoyance as she addressed the group, "All right everyone, let's get out of here."
To be continued....