Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ Evangelion: Third Genesis ❯ Chapter 32

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

Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Thirty-one
The command center was busy as Maya Ibuki stood behind the central control panel, her eyes intent. "Are you ready, Asuka?" she asked crisply, her short brown hair falling gently around her almost boyish face.
"Ready," Asuka Soryu Langley said from the pilot's seat, her orange hair clipped back, the skin tight plugsuit clinging to every curve of her body. Her black eyepatch over the left eye was a dark spot in the liquid filled chamber, the LCL surrounding and shielding her.
"Then let's do this," Misato Katsuragi said from where she sat up in the command chair, "and test activate Archangel Unit Alpha."
"Bringing on tertiary connections now," Yui Ikari said from within the body of her son Shinji, fingers flying across the controls. After a moment she said, "Tertiary connection green."
"Asuka?" Ritsuko Akagi asked calmly, the blonde haired scientist looking up at the image of the pilot before them.
Asuka sat in the control seat, one modeled after the one in Evangelion. "A slight headache," she admitted, "but other than that I'm fine." She frowned, "But I don't seem to be getting any feedback from the Archangel."
"Don't worry," Ritsuko reassured her, "you wouldn't at this point."
"Then let's move on," Asuka shrugged, hands squeezing each control grip.
"Asuka..." Rei Ayanami murmured, the dark blue haired younger woman standing over to the side, watching with concern.
"Secondary connections on-line," Yui announced after a nod from Maya, watching the display on her board. "Some feedback wobble appearing in the synronization wave-form, but well within acceptable tolerances."
Maya moved fast, leaning over her shoulder to check the reading. "Two point five percent," she murmured then up to Asuka. "How does it feel?" she asked.
Asuka had her head tilted to the side, a odd expression on her face. "It feels nice," she admitted, "I can sense the Archangel now, though the sensation is almost like there's a thick layer of glass between me and it."
"That's the protective buffer we created," Ritsuko said, "it should prevent sensory overload from the Unit to your nervous system."
"But you can sense the Archangel?" Misato asked intently.
"Yes," Asuka nodded then frowned, "but I can't move..."
Ritsuko looked up at Misato, "Do we go on?"
Silently Misato tried to get a sense for Asuka's readiness and got only confidence from the young pilot. "All right, bring first stage connection on."
"First stage, go," Yui agreed, she and Maya nearly sitting at the console together as they watched the readings like a hawk. "Feedback wobble up to three percent," Yui added.
"Still have the headache?" Misato asked Asuka quietly.
"It's a bit worse," Asuka admitted with a frown, "but still tolerable. The Archangel feels ready, can I move to out of the cage?"
"Go ahead," Maya said, keeping a half eye on the readings, "but take it slow."
Outside in the massive chamber the massive locks released and the Archangel moved forward, the humanoid fighting machine oddly graceful. Smoothly it brought a hand up, turning it this way and that, then looked around the chamber with it's oddly human looking face.
"What's moving it like?" Yui asked curiously.
"Harder than an Evangelion," Asuka confessed, "I have to concentrate harder and visualize what I'm doing." Without her awareness a bit of blood began to flow from her nose, gradually spreading out into the LCL.
"Asuka, you're bleeding," Rei blurted.
"Abort test," Misato barked, "Asuka, get Unit Alpha back in place, we're ejecting the plug as soon as you've parked it."
"Right," Asuka nodded quickly, guiding the Unit Alpha back into place, then the screen going dark as she ejected from the Archangel.
"Maya, Ritsuko, go over the test data," Misato said as she and Rei bolted from the command center, racing out into the holding pen they were using for the Archangel.
The metal walkway rang under their steps as they hurried forward, a medical team already swarming around Asuka as she got out of the entry plug. "You should lay down," one tech said as another held a cloth to her bloody nose.
"It's just a nosebleed," Asuka tried to wave them off.
"We don't know what it was," Misato corrected her firmly.
"Asuka," Rei took her hand, looking up into her eye gently as she plead, "please let them examine you..."
Asuka hesitated under Rei's warm gaze, then finally nodded reluctantly. "All right," she finally agreed, "but make it fast."
It took nearly a day to find out what happened, a short time in scientific matters but a long one for the people involved. Ritsuko, Maya and Yui pulled an all nighter going over both the test data and the medical report on Asuka, eventually coming up with a working theory.
Misato sat behind the desk of her office, the rest of them scattered around the room. "It was the Archangel's sensory data?" Misato repeated questioningly.
"Yes," Ritsuko nodded, "it overloaded Asuka's system without her knowing it, triggering the headache first, then the nosebleed."
"But that's never happened before," Asuka blinked, sitting on the couch with Rei holding on protectively to her hand.
"Because of how the Evangelions were designed they had multiple layers of defense between the pilot and the core systems," Maya explained, "in addition to the technology designed to restrain the Evangelions from acting on their own."
"Those layers also bled out a great deal of sensory imput from the Eva to the pilot," Ritsuko sighed, "much more than we really understood."
"We're going to have to rework the protective sensory barrier while keeping this event in mind," Yui finished grimly, "or possibly consider medicating the LCL with some kind of drug to try and ease the effect."
"No drugs," Asuka spoke up firmly her eye flashing angrily, "I had enough of those last time I was in the hospital."
"I hate to ask," Misato gave a apologetic look to Asuka, "but is this unique to her, or will all pilots be affected?"
"Any pilot who goes in there will suffer the same result," Ritsuko said flatly.
"Understood," Misato said mildly, "I had to know." She looked at Maya, Ritsuko and Yui, "Do we have a idea how long it'll take to fix this?"
"No idea," Maya said promptly, "it's a whole new problem."
"On the bright side," Yui added, "it gives us more time to study the transfer effect and what happened when my son vanished. Even if we use Archangel to get back Unit-01, we have no idea how to get Shinji out of there."
"I'm confident you'll work out something," Misato said, then dismissed the scientists. Walking to Rei and Asuka she asked softly, "Are you all right?"
Asuka pierced her with a intense look. "If it really was just me having the problem with Unit Alpha, would you replace me?" she demanded.
"Asuka..." Rei looked startled, looking at her with concern.
"Yes," Misato answered promptly, "to protect you from being hurt again."
Asuka hesitated then nodded slightly, "All right."
To be continued....