Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ Hidden Virtues ❯ Section 3 ( Chapter 3 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
(Section 3)

"Major Belmont, I really hope you're ready to go. These bastards just stomped the cavalry motor pool flat!" Teneyl shouted into the headset. "They wrecked the airfield and the cavalry fort. The only thing left between you and them is the power plant complex."

"Say again? We're in the process of loading our pilot," was the scratchy reply, mangled by static.

"Just make it fast! When I said they were toasting shit, that wasn't figurative. If they attack the lab with even half the power they might have, they're going to turn North Dakota into the world's biggest charcoal broiler. The fact that you're underground is the only reason we're all still alive."

"What'd they do? It caused our lights to flicker here..."

"It was some sort of electromagnetic emission, maybe a Sea of Dirac. If so, then they're charging serious power."

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely, no doubt in my mind," Teneyl growled. "Tell me what I need to say to make you people do whatever it is you're doing faster and I'll say it. When the Angels attack the lab, they're going to exterminate all life in the area. Who knows how far the effect could reach. No matter how cold it is, Bismarck North Dakota will burn. Without the N2s, NERV's toy and that young girl of yours are all we've got that might slow it down."

There was silence amid the static on the other end of the line. "We'll work faster," Belmont promised, her voice strangely empty when she closed the link.

Stomping their way across smoldering scrub, the angels had transformed the cavalry motor pool into a cloud of frosty dust using their feet. After the searing attack against the airfield, there was no more physical activity anywhere along the ground or in the sky that Teneyl could be see. Radio traffic had been abruptly reduced from a calamity of skilled warriors to a few delirious voices. They decimated his force in a single nonchalant stroke. Driving closer to the lab mound, Teneyl looked bitterly out the side window of the C&C, marveling aghast at the demonstration of power used against his men. Elston was glancing over his display, muttering quietly to himself, while the Sgt. Engels sat bolt straight in his seat staring ahead as he drove. All three of them had been affected by the last attack, realizing that victory was beyond the grasp of a military force. Beyond the grasp of any military force.

-All that's left is a child,- Teneyl shivered despite himself, staring at the corpse of a burned F-22 strewn along the side of their path. The plane looked like a crushed bug, tortured to death by some cruel child with a magnifying glass. Squinting his eyes, he could imagine that the gray cinder nestled in the plane's trashed cockpit was the remainder of the human pilot.

"Sir?" Sgt. Engels began, "You suppose any of our guys that retreated out onto the prairie survived the blast?"

"We did," Teneyl told him, "if they had shelter like us, they're still moving out."

"If not?" Engels asked, dodging the Humvee around a large fragment of something that had once been attached to an airplane.

"We gotta hope they were far enough away."

"If all twelve of those... things work together on the lab, no distance will be far enough," Elston tempted softly, his eyes locked in horror on his status board.

"Let's not think about it. Just pray Belmont will come through..."

"Come through with what?"

"The biggest miracle I've ever imagined," Teneyl supplied, swallowing his own opinion of the final ploy.

Moving with a benign malignancy, the haunting procession of Angels arrived at the power plant, which was buried protectively in the ground much like the central lab. Fanning out, the Angels surrounded the mound in a loose envelope. They immediately ripped into the dirt with energy beams and powerful fists, using their spade-like hands to rise a plume of soot into the air above their heads. Teneyl sighed, thinking that the spectacle resembled nothing more than a pack of wild dogs shredding a carcass. In less than three minutes, they easily pulverized the mound, exposing what was at the bottom. Then they earnestly withdrew.

When two Angels remained, Teneyl knew what was next, "Christ, guys, get ready to cover your eyes; they're gonna do it again."

"We're closer now, sir." the Elston observed flatly.

"Damn," Teneyl swore to himself. "Get back here!" he ordered Sgt. Engels. The man hastily scrambled into the bed of the C&C vehicle, which was better protected than the front. "Both of you get down behind these panels. Get ready to shield your faces and eyes against your knees."

Together, the three men crouched as low as they could, trying to protect themselves as well as possible. Elston was shaking his head, "General, we might as well be sitting in an oven; the back of this truck'll hold the heat."

"All we can do is suck it up. Time to find out if we're real men. It won't hurt for too long; you'll be numb after a few minutes."

"Burns don't go numb."

"If you burn enough of yourself, they will." Even as he spoke, the air around them grew deathly cold, as though something had snatched away all atmospheric heat. Feeling like he was going to succumb to hypothermia, Teneyl realized that he had not re-zipped his coat. The time for regrets passed.

A sudden blast of light illuminated every corner of the C&C, hurling Teneyl into a world of pain. Attacking the side of his head, then along his back, the panel he leaned against grew viciously hot. Resting on the floor, his knees took life beyond his will as they also began to burn. As if he was sitting on a sizzling hotcake griddle, his body began to jump and jerk reflexively at the agonizing heat that surged upward from the metal. Every surface he contacted was convulsively electrical. Burning over the entirety of his body, he struggled to get away, trying to grab the pain and throw it from him, as though it were a herd of ants he could brush off.

Breathing became pure misery, every inhalation bringing with it a lung full the consistency of molten lead. Even the radio headset wrapped around his ear suddenly seemed to bite. Knowing nothing but panic in his attempts to shrink away from the pain, he ripped the thing off and tossed it blindly away. He knew not whether the scream that pierced his ears was his own. When the agony finally eased, he lay there shaking, almost sobbing from the torture. As his mind cleared and the pain slowly receded to numbness, the sounds of agony did not. It took him a long while to realize that someone was still screaming.

"Sir!" came a shout above the scream, "help me, sir!"

Teneyl shook himself fully awake. Before him, Elston was brushing and patting madly at Sgt. Engels, whose back was flaming. The poor man shrieked, writhing like a tormented animal, smacking away both the flames and the hands of his would be savior. Scrambling across the still hot flooring, Teneyl added his aid to that of Elston. Swatting at the flames with their own charred hands, they managed to put the fire out together.

Their breathing rapid in shock, quivering from the pain of blackened skin, they each leaned back against the walls, sliding down the heated metal until they were sitting. Resting with his back against a warm panel, Elston held his quivering arms away from his body, his fingers a color somewhere between beet-red and charcoal brown. Feeling a warning tingle throughout his own body, Teneyl glanced down at his hands. To his relief, they were not so badly burned. Quietly nursing their little aches, neither Teneyl nor Elston could think of the slightest thing to say. On the floor at their feet, Engels moaned softly, still clasping at his body as though the offending sensations refused to let him be. Glancing out the front window toward the angels, Teneyl could see that they were once again standing stock still.

Smoke, rising from every corner of the compartment, swirled in minor currents each time one of them exhaled. Teneyl imagined that the air had a foul taste, though he could neither taste nor smell anything after the scalding his oral and nasal cavities had just received. Regaining himself somewhat, Elston coughed weakly, spitting from the corner of his mouth.

"Damn," he commented in a rough voice, stricken tears running down his face and mucous crusted around his nostrils, "that really hurt."

Teneyl chuckled through a crackling throat, stifling a painful cough that threatened, "If we make it out of this, I'm buying you both some of that real expensive Micro-brew from that pub in Bismarck."

"Sounds good," Elston croaked.

Closing his eyes, Teneyl braced himself against the panel and pushed painfully to his feet. His clothing clenched at him several sizes too small, as though the fibers had been melted. Knocking his fists until the burns there were practically screaming, he shifted so that he balanced on his own legs. "Gotta find a radio, let Belmont know that we've run out of time."


A rumbling shock wave passed through the small control center. Inside the cage, pieces of ceiling showered down on the Eva. Lights flickered weakly before power finally normalized.

"Damn," Belmont said, holding onto the door frame, "this is going to be close. Toho, drop the Entry plug into place."

"Yes Sir," Toho responded, relaying the order. On the back of the Eva, the white entry plug tube that contained Jane Wise motored diagonally out of sight. Hatch locks snapped down into place to secure the vessel in its berth. With the plug retracted, Unit-06's armored plates pulled closed, hiding the exposed tip of the plug from view.

"Pilot status?"

"Pilot's in place. Heart beat is normal, Brain waves are normal and breathing is negligible."

"We expected that, didn't we," Belmont said softly, chastising herself once again. "Dr. Valentine, this is your last chance to pull the plug. Is the pilot ready for this?"

"By my best estimation," Valentine responded, anger crossing his thin features, "The pilot is in optimal health for what we should be expecting."

"Then we're go. Begin phase one of activation. Initialize power systems and ready for contact with the core."

Each member of her crew nodded, then went intently to work.

"Is there any response?" Belmont looked at Avery, who was contemplating the synchrograph on the oscilloscope display.

"We've subjected pilot's signal to the matrix, but there is no receptor rhythm. The core doesn't know we're here." The oscilloscope bore only one wave pattern where it needed three.

"Sir," Toho called, "The power system reads normal, but the power level from the diesel generator seems too low. We must have missed leaks in the core... we're going to need more juice for activation than we thought."

Belmont looked at Valentine, who shrugged.

"Sir," Toho continued, "I suggest we switch the S2 to neutral feed mode; like I told you, it's drawing power unnecessarily. If we switch it to neutral feed, we might have enough extra energy to get the Eva to respond to level one contact."

Shaking her head, Belmont said, "Very well. I don't see any other option. Activate the S2's neutral feed mode."

"Switching S2 engine to neutral feed," Toho tensed, her hand poised over the enter key on her keyboard, "here goes nothing."

Everyone in the command booth held their breath, looking on as Toho's finger descended. Valentine became white and clamped hold of the back of Lt. Avery's chair. Belmont tensed, -here's my last second of life.- A moment later, alarms went off on Toho's laptop.

"Christ," Valentine swore.

"What's happening?" Belmont demanded, uncertain whether everything was about to come loose.

Toho typed swiftly at her keyboard, her eyes skimming each piece of data that flicked into view, "S2 is reading deeply unstable. It's fluctuating between positive and neutral feed modes. Power flow is jumping around like crazy. The S2 is not responding to command inputs."

Belmont looked at Valentine, who shrugged, "It hasn't blown up yet. We can always take heart that if it does, the force it generates upon exploding will kill us and the angel both."

"Yeah," Avery snorted to himself, "if the Angel doesn't use the heat to replicate itself again."

Looking back to Toho, Belmont asked, "What is the power transmission status? Is any energy reaching the core?"

"The draw is only fluctuating a little. I can't tell exactly what power is going where, but the total draw on the diesel generators has decreased by half. The S2 is still fluctuating radically, but it doesn't show any sign of spiking."

Glancing at Valentine, Belmont asked, "Could we be looking at a tuning error?"

"It could be; this Eva's incomplete, and the S2 is still experimental. Frankly I'm surprised the system's responding as well as it is. If it was going to blow, it probably would've done so by now."

"If it spikes, we're screwed," Avery commented.

"As long as it isn't interfering with the process of contact, we can't afford to worry about it. I say we go," Valentine said.

Stormcloud blew out her breath audibly, saying something in a native american language. With a shrug, Belmont grimaced to herself, "Not like we have much of a choice, I suppose. Keep an eye on it, Toho, it might go up at any second."

"Sir?" Toho glanced over her shoulder; they both knew that if the S2 spiked, they would be the last people in the world who had time to care.

"Just watch the thing. Avery, harmonics?"

"Changing the power levels helped. We've got a receptivity signal from the matrix now, but we still have to configure the hardware to match Jane's frequency. If I'm as good as I think I am, we should be able to tune without any REM data. If we can just get it to recognize her frequency, we can try to adjust it to fall into phase with her." The oscilloscope now held three sinusoidal waves, none matching any of the others.

"Major, the basic control software we loaded into the matrix seems intact," Valentine announced. "Frequency match should only take a moment."

"Will the Eva respond?"

"Unknown... give us a moment. Something's really odd about these signal patterns..." Avery tapped at the keys. Valentine looked on tensely.

As they worked, two of the Sine waves altered frequency to match the third, which represented Jane. At once, a blip appeared on the upstroke of one wave.

"Transient!" Avery announced, "We've got a transient harmonic!"

"Is it losing cohesion?! It's not... it's not... going to..." Belmont cried, her fingers digging into the door frame.

"Hold your horses!" Valentine shouted, slapping the side of the oscilloscope. The blip immediately disappeared, "Damn pre-Second Impact piece of crap. Just a hardware flaw, keep going!"

"Status?" Belmont demanded, sweat streaming down her fair face.

"Harmonics appear normal. No irregularities."

"Strange thing Major," Valentine looked up from the screen to Belmont, "The Eva's native reception frequency is the same as Jane's output... her thought signature is at the natural frequency of Unit-06."

Valentine exchanged a guarded glance with Belmont.

"Is this part of the buffering effect?" Major Belmont asked tightly.

"Difficult to say. Nobody's put a buffer into an Entry plug since..." he trailed off. "But that data's pretty bad. It could be that the Eva's at Jane's native resonance frequency because..."

"Sir!" Avery interrupted, "She's dropped into phase! She is in phase with Unit-06."

Sure enough, on the synchrograph the three sine waves had fallen into phase, forming a single wave.

"What'd you touch?"

"Nothing!" Avery protested laughing, "It just fell into phase! Am I marvelous or am I marvelous!"


Suspended. Empty. Alone. A tiny golden thread led down from above, connecting each member of the spine like pearls on a string.

"...relax Jane, relax. Your focus is the key..." Fading down a tunnel, noise lengthening, words of meaning only to the speaker, "keep your focus."

You remember focus, child? Of course you do, it is how you stay alive.
-But this is so much like that other place. So much.-
The key to focus is breath. Each breath the extent of awareness, each beat of the heart an extension of each breath. Focus breath. Find breath before life. Find prelife breath.
-But I have none,- she protested helplessly, -The path that was white is now faded.-
Focus breath, what was white is what is made of it. Breath or none, breath is what is there in life.
Deep White, unmarred, permeating all. Encompassing all. Sudden, white. Feel the suddenness, the Deer, the white, the lungs. Breath is always there, whether drawn or held or given.
Did you see that Deer, child? Wonderful white tail. It pranced through the snow over the lip of the hill just as you opened the door. Didn't you feel it?
How could I have? I cannot open doors.
Stop and look. It is there for you to feel. Don't you remember?
I can't tell anymore.
Eyes see yellow, they are open though you do not wish them so. Do you remember Yellow?
Fluid yellow all around me, it is LCL. That is the name they gave it.
Not that yellow, the Yellow. Playful color. Mischievous. Monkey hands dart in, nabbing fruit with deft grip. See how he goes away to eat his prize? The seat of healthy yellow, the spleen, the pancreas. A sense of Laughter as he taunts you over his prize. Feel the charge of strength from there, the cleansing feel? The sense of vitality?
I really don't remember. I have not been well.
But you know who you are.
I know who I was. I am not the same.
But who you were is who you are. Your past forms your present.
I do not remember.
Then remember. Lose memory and defy your promise. defy your gift.
Promise. My promises.

-Christ! A six year old performing what took Baryshnikoff years to learn. But honestly, you should probably try focusing on female ballet technique!-
A child dancing around the house. Constantly, dancing, moving. Every movement part of the same dance, some motions that she learned from watching, some that she created herself. She never knew what they were called, only sometimes what people audibly named them. But she didn't need to know. She needed know only look and feel. She saw the true name of each motion with open eyes.
A child dancing even at school. Even in repose, the kindergarten teacher telling what toys to play with, she constantly danced behind open eyes. Seeing and feeling each movement sitting at the desk, her body never quite still. Other children watching her move, performing for them as surely as for any audience.
It was always such.
-Look at Jane, the girl with her nose in the air. Too good to play with us, too high on her throne of air. Little witch Jane who only dances,- came the hurtful taunts.
-Jane, you will dance in the school play.-
-But teacher, why? They don't like it when I dance.-
-But that is what you do. Who else in the class can do as well?-
Little boys stealing her lunch, little girls pulling her hair and plaguing her with jealous gossip, she went home to cry.
-Daddy, I will never dance again,- she declared in tears, wanting the other kids to like her.
-Oh, geez, Sport! What is this? Your mother would be so sad to hear you say it.-
-But they pick on me.-
-You don't have to believe a word they say, Sport. Do what is in your heart to do.-
-Just don't know.-
-Listen to me, Jane. Promise me that, no matter what you do, you will never forget your ability to move. It is your gift.-
Shocked, she did not answer.
-Promise me!- was the insistence.
-I promise.-
At school again, the play days off, the taunts worsened, -All leggy Jane, ballerina girl! Stupid dumb Jane who won't fight back! Leggy weenie Jane who does a poopy dance!-
A boy stealing school supplies from her. Other children around laughing and jeering. At once, at last, she saw another kind of motion. A motion from a show Daddy watched from time to time. One type of movement that suddenly intrigued her. -Do what is in your heart,- came back to her ears, as clearly as if it had just been spoken.
-All Leggy Jane...- the kid was in the midst of saying, when her foot came away from the ground, hooking into snap that connected with the side of his head. Such a surprised look on his face, a boy falling head over heel, unconscious before he hit the
-Others behind me,- she knew without seeing, feeling a fiery elation that called her on. Inventing the movement in its most logical form, she spun around, leaving the ground altogether. One leg swept out in one direction, the other counter balancing. Both targets went down as quickly as they were hit. Her feet were back beneath her before she fell further, landing her without the slightest effort. Even the principal of the school regarded this first grader with awe.
-Mr. Wise, your daughter was caught fighting today. She inflicted serious injury on three other children. Because of how she did it, we are uncertain what penalties to impose. Nobody ever assumed a child her age could do such things.-
Father was apologetic, despite the glimmer of pride in his eyes on hearing the news, -I'm sorry principal, she's been coming home the past few days with stories of other children harassing her. I'll try to keep her from doing it again. Still, much as I hate to say it, I'm pleased she defended herself.-
-You're her father, of course you are.-
The principal was angry. Father was pleased. A little girl sat alone that day, horrified at what she had done. Nightmares of those shocked faces plagued her for weeks. She said she did not wish to harm anyone again. On the surface she regretted it all, but inside, there was a strange guilty eagerness at a realization she hadn't expected. The experience sang to her a siren song. From that day on, when she danced, another kind of motion played in her soul.
Taking the stage, days later, she was met with cheers of impressed parents and awed schoolmates. A thing she hadn't thought possible. She had never assumed that anyone would be amazed. Yet, as she danced, even on that evening, she yearned for the other sense of movement.
It was when she stepped off the stage that He confronted her.
-Child,- that voice was so mellow and friendly. His face was old but surprisingly spry, as if his aging were superficial only, -My name is Hang Yang Chie, I teach martial arts, and I sense in you a peculiar desire to learn.-
With that, Jane Wise began her affiliation with Grand Master Hang.

I know you must remember it, child, I sense it in your heart.
Even if I try to keep my promises, I am just so different now.
Are you? Are you really? Don't pretend that you've forgotten who you are.
In the emptiness, a little paralyzed girl sitting in a lonely, cylindrical plug ceased to see her reflection in the wall. She ceased to see her world at all.


"Harmonics?" Belmont asked.

"No irregularities that I can tell," declared Avery as he glanced up.

"I concur," Valentine added with a nod.

Belmont bit her lip, "This is going so fast. All right, Toho, have crews release primary safeties. Drop the gantry out of the way. Stormcloud, what is the status on the Motor Nerve safeties?"

"They all read green, ready for release."

Below them, in the cage, the gantry walkways running around the titanic figure popped free of their moorings. Each one swung away from the Eva, slamming loudly into the wall. The only remaining restraints that contained the unpredictable machine were the massive clamps holding it by the shoulders.

"Sir," Toho glanced back at Belmont, "primary safeties are disengaged and the gantry is clear."

"Very good. Stormcloud, status on the nervous interlocks?"

"Nervous interlocks are standing by, all green."

"Secondary safeties, Toho?"

"The interface safeties are stable."

"How about the S2?"

"Still doing the watutsie," Toho shrugged, an unhappy look on her face, "But it hasn't shown a sign of spiking, either. Power draw appears stable."

"Stormcloud, engage the nerve interlocks. Avery, watch the harmonics."

Stormcloud typed a few keys, "Nerves are now interlocked. No irregularities."

"No abnormal harmonics," Avery added, "pilot seems very calm."

Belmont took a deep breath, then spoke into her headset, "Jane, this is Major Belmont, you're doing fine. We are about to make the last set of connections, so, no matter what you feel, keep your focus."

Belmont turned back to her group, "Cross your fingers people, it's time to go to Phase two of Activation. Toho, release secondary restraints. Stormcloud, monitor synchronicity threshold."

"Secondary restraints disengaged."

Immediately, on Stormcloud's screen, nerve interlinks began to go active. Each one lit with red asterisk, running down the columns going from left to right. Each successive interlink went active as the pilot grew more closely connected to the machine.

"Coming up on threshold," Stormcloud announced, "cross your fingers...."

Belmont did just that. This was it: the most unstable time for an Eva. If Jane could interface with 12.8 percent of the interface registers in the matrix, the Eva would become active. If not, it would just stand there like a dumb chunk of industrial waste. Belmont steered her thoughts away from the nastier things known to happen during Phase two of activation. She tried to convince herself that the girl survive the process.

The number of active interlinks increased by column, gradually approaching the red outlined critical number. Interlink upon interlink glowed to life. For an instant, at the very threshold of the critical value, the level stuttered and hovered, as if reaching the limit of Jane's depth. Belmont held her breath.

An instant later, the critical interface lit up, engaged. Further columns followed, each successive link clicking active until the level slowed onto a plateau. Finally the display stabilized.

"She synchronized!" Stormcloud cried, "ratio reads steady at 35 percent."

"Harmonics?" Belmont said, breathing a sigh of relief.

"One moment," Avery looked troubled, Valentine at his shoulder, "there was another transient for a second, perhaps a detector error, but it's gone now. Everything appears normal."

Belmont fixed Dr. Valentine with a serious look, "Can we go on doctor?"

"For the final time," Valentine returned the stare, his lip quirked in a fluster, "I'm as in the dark as everyone else here. By my best judgment, the synchronization looks stable."

"It'll have to do," Belmont replied. -Forgive me, Jane, Astra.-

At that moment, Lt. Wise, still wet from his dip in the entry plug, came running along the catwalk to the foreman's booth, "Major, the Angel is _here_!"

As if in echo of his words, a deep thunder rippled through the base. Most of the lights in the holding cage area went dim. Belmont held tight against the door frame, while Wise was pounded against the guard rail. Everyone seated remained unmoved, but held protectively to their respective pieces of equipment. Valentine stood against the wall, paling.

"Lt. Wise," Belmont said softly, looking for one final excuse, "This is the last chance we may have to pull your daughter."

Wise shook his head, "Like you said before, it... it isn't my choice. Besides, give Jane an Eva's body and not even God would be able to slow her down... let alone a wayward angel. I-" he stammered, "I have faith in my daughter."

With a grimace, Belmont shifted to Toho, "Release safeties on the Motor nerves. Prepare to release final restraining clamps and ready for egress."

"Motor nerve safeties are disengaged..."

"The transient is back!" Avery shouted, "It's formed an unstable resonance!"

"What??" Belmont was dumbfounded with shock.

Her heart was ready to burst.


Rocks crashed down on them, echoing through the walls, denting the panels of the C&C horribly. Fragments of solid debris fell from the sky like oversized hail stones.

"Yes, Goddammit!! They're here at the lab!" Teneyl's hands and arms shook, his burns protesting with such strength that he nearly dropped the hand radio twice.

Teneyl shifted himself painfully to look out the front of the C&C. Between them and the mound marking the Lab, no further than a hundred feet away, was one of the Angels. Its solid leg blocked out everything. Teneyl could see its arms slashing down, rending chunks out of the mountain.

"God help us," he whispered in final shock. What hope was there now of Belmont doing the impossible?

Moving closer to the window, Teneyl could see several more of the gigantic angels, ripping and kicking with an almost clockwork ferocity at the surface of the mountain. Every so often, they would fire bolts of orange energy into the ground, raising columns of dirt into the air that pelted down on the C&C in fist sized chunks. One such fragment crashed through the warped glass of the C&C's ruined windshield, shredding the front seats. Teneyl covered his face against the spray of glass. Other debris impacted against the
roof, leaving heavy indentations that reached downward like fist marks. The former mountain of the lab disappeared rapidly at the hands of the massive attackers.

Completely without explanation, the assault stopped just as quickly as it started. Moving in strides of hundreds of yards, the angels backed off. One massive foot was set down for an instant next to the C&C, then was gone. The vehicle rocked gently under the heavy motions, which decreased with distance.

"We're finished," Elston said softly, ducking down to shelter himself, expectant of the inevitable agony.

"No," Teneyl shook his head, "Something's going on. The Angels have retreated about a thousand yards." Through the windows, Teneyl could see them standing, as though waiting, in a wide circle surrounding the lab.


Follow focus, feel focus, find the center.
It came more easily then, energy, self heat cycling to her core, becoming the concentrated point she always relied on it being. Blazing like a small star seated in the crucible of her hips, she allowed it to flow in a way she distantly remembered. Around her, the shadows of the LCL filled coffin were burned away by the strength of directed cognizance united with the refuge of memory.
Willing it to sink, she felt the passage of the heat downward along the tall axis of her body. Circling around the base of her trunk, the point of awareness paused momentarily at the tip of her tail bone. Wielding the bristling ball, she singed away all doubt of her body's presence. Lingering recollections of the Other Place dwindled as the new revelation began to take hold. Although moving by means of awareness alone, the ironic reality of motion was not lost on her. Her glowing center continued its journey, traveling up her spine along an envisioned thread of silk, strengthening almost in anticipation of the next step in the Small Circle of Heaven.
Stretched out in her mind's eye, forming the instinctive complement of the meditative focus was the freeform mesh of experience. The final weapon of her survival was nothing more or less than who she was, no matter how joyous or painful. Joy and Pain, facets of the same thing along a path toward she knew not what.
Believe in who you are.

A young girl stretched and grew. Each new set of motions presented to her were absorbed as if she already knew them, illuminating a vast array of experience. Strength was immaterial, it came with practice. Application was innate to the motions, each motion part of a tapestry of logic that bore no names, no faces and nothing but sheer interpretation. Movement existed in its purest form, harnessed in any order that seemed sensible.
Not merely her movement, but all movement. She could sense its touch when it was close, feel its breath puff across her face, smell its energy ebbing and flowing around her. It didn't matter whether it was presented by people or things, it was a contiguous entity that held an almost tangible voice to a young girl caught in its web of realization.
-You never cease to amaze me child,- Grand Master Hang was smiling a smile that the child never totally understood.
-Teach me that, teach me this!- she always asked, her eagerness to grow painted continually on her face.
In course he did, presenting something new all the time. The young dancer absorbed each piece as quickly as she lay eyes on it, suffused with the joy of unrestricted access to discovery. Months stretched to years, other more experienced students of the Grand Master grew amazed at how quickly the child developed. Some were frightened by what they saw. Of course, there were others that did not feel amazement or fear, but something else.
Eventually, a day came that the child had not anticipated. She had only been at it for three years.
There she stood at an open door, facing a martial arts master and several of his thirty and forty year students, -Please, step in my child.-
With a bow, she did as she was bade, -I've come as you requested Master Hang.- She addressed him as was formally appropriate, leaving the word 'grand' off the title.
-Dear child, you have learned from me more than enough to make you a master of this art.-
-Master!?- she was very surprised.
One of the senior students stepped forward as well, -Master?? How can you? This Infant is ten years old! She hasn't the experience, no matter how quickly she learns. I can't stand seeing you desecrate the art with an action such as this.-
-That doesn't alter the fact that she is ready. Would you deny her?-
-I would stake all that I've worked for to see that she is not permitted.-
The Grand Master shrugged in that peaceful way of his, -Very well, disciple Wise, for your test to masterhood, you will face disciple Benedict. The one who loses will not receive the 'master' title...-

Was I ready then? Am I ready now?
Despite the questions, her focus remained taut on the intensive point, which had reached the base of her neck on the way to the pillow point of her head. Motion, even in stillness, called her forward. Was it the promise of attaining something she dared not cease wanting, no matter how impossible?

The child stood her ground, seeing visions of young kids falling head over heels upon being struck with her feet. Those were children. Was she right to face the same thing in an adult? She desired even as she detested. Guilty hunger ran through her heart. Though her style of doing things had vastly changed, she still remembered past regrets. She could not know. In a peripheral worry, she was sad her father was not there to witness her hour of either triumph or defeat. In arriving this day, she had not expected to be faced with such a monumental task. This enemy who stood before her was not intent merely on victory, but on inflicting humiliation. Yet, she wanted only motion.
Bowing to the Grand Master the opponents took their stances to begin the match. That they were to be masters, both understood the trial was no holds barred.
The match itself was a blur. For each thing that happened, there was instantly something opposite to take place. Jane hardly remembered exactly how she fought, except that she avoided taking advantage of openings when they presented themselves. Each time holes appeared, appropriately formed for her childish arms, she stayed the attack, wanting not to assault an authority -an adult. Wanting not to feel the guilty satisfaction. I can't do this, she told herself, this man is thirty years better at it than me.
Yet, somehow, despite how unready she was to win, she did not lose either. In some way, almost beyond the realm of grasp, she held her own against someone who was far more experienced. The ease with which it all happened was sublime.
At the side, watching both competitors, the Grand Master stood shaking his head. His voice reverberated for Jane alone to hear, -You never cease to surprise me, child. That you should choose repeatedly not to do what was born into you.-
When she finally sent a blow through against an opponent intent on catching her in a grapple, the match was immediately ended. She did not know exactly what she had done, or where the power came from. An opponent flew away from her, a surprised look in his dazed eyes, not comprehending how her rhythm had suddenly perverted one hundred and eighty degrees out of phase with his own. The child had done nothing but heeded motion's call. A single open palm and a well rooted body denoted the victor. Barely a
Once the match had ended, her humiliated opponent dismissed himself without a sound. No one else questioned her worthiness. Yet, standing before the Grand Master, she questioned it herself.
-I don't have the experience, I can't fill these shoes.-
-Dear little Jane,- he smiled, -the man who just left will never come back here to study again. His heart is wounded by his own vanity. It is not by my word that he leaves, but by his own. To a true master, the title means nothing. One word bestowed by me cannot be the sum of a soul. What matters is the means, not the end. My word that he should never wear a title has no deeper meaning. Mastery is in the heart.-
-But he has thirty years more experience than me.-
Grand Master Hang shook his head with a docile little smile. Crouching down so that they were eye to eye, he told her, -You and he are vastly different creatures. My child, I want you to give me a promise.-
Saying nothing, she nodded.
-I will hear your words. As long as you should live, you will never doubt your ability to move. Promise to me that you will make your gift what it was meant to be.-
Hearing those words repeated, she realized at that moment she had broken the promise to her father without ever realizing it.
She hesitated.
-Your word.-
-...I Promise...-
A little girl promised once again, uncertain what such a promise really meant.

The point of heat, of awareness, reached the crown of her head, filling the Point of a Thousand Revelations to a brimming, bubbling peak. Echoes of that promise reflected through her memory. Intensity of the welling increased, its radiance penetrating her whole
But I can't MOVE!
It should never matter, Child. You know who you are. You know your own words.
Her focus passed downward through her forehead, across the third eye to the point between her tongue and pallet.
You know who you are.
But I can't lift my arms!
You move even in stillness.
The luminous bulb passed downward, through her throat, through the solar plexus. It restored to the reservoir at her Tan Tien, her abdomen, with an intensity far beyond anything in memory. Blast furnace heat burned at that one locale almost beyond her ability to contain it, touching everything with its celestial glow. Spiraling the orb to disburse it to a more tenable level, she felt the excess radiate outward through her being. Like dropping a stone through the placid surface of a pond, the stirring washed out in a wave, leaving a tingling resonance through each part that it passed. Each muscle, long dull from disuse tingled in rivulets of condensed awareness. Nerve endings fluttered in a moiré of somatic illusions. The surge passed her legs to her feet, tickling the bubbling wells that resided there. Along an arm it focused, intensified, reverberated until it coalesced in her fingers as a shudder.
Her hand twitched.
Jane was immediately alert. Had her hand jerked? It had been in almost infinitely long time since she felt a muscle jumped during stationary mediation. Despite the sudden flood of insane hope, she sought the truth of denial during the ascent upward toward wakeful awareness. How could it be? -My hand couldn't have moved,- she thought to herself, daring not believe in the miracle she wanted so desperately every minute of her conscious life. -It can't, can it?-

Not faithful in the impossible, Jane lifted her hand and tentatively opened her eyes to look at it, certain that she would be as immobile as usual the instant her senses were fully normal.

In disbelief, she stared; her hand hovered before her face, big enough to lift a car and armored enough to punch through solid steel walls. Her heart leaped.


"Resonance is amplifying," Avery cried, "Wave pattern is totally unstable! It's becoming chaotic...."

"It can't be," Belmont whispered to herself, glancing toward the Eva. The eyes of Unit-06 glowed to life. "Is it flowing backward?!"

"I can't tell," Avery threw up his arms, "these harmonics are too unpredictable."

"Major," Stormcloud cried, "The nervous interlinks have become unstable!" On her screen the labels were steadily blinking out. "I'm losing the readings!"

"Get them back," beginning to panic, Belmont felt more sweat trickling down her brow. "Is the pilot still there?! The Eva hasn't absorbed her, has it? I will not permit that girl to be destroyed."

Standing beside her, Lt. Wise looked on in shocked silence. Belmont guessed that he was seriously considering throwing up at that moment.

"I can't tell, Sir," Toho said in a small voice, "I'm detecting a massive energy buildup inside Unit-06, obscuring primary telemetry. The external power sources automatically scrammed, but the power readings are continuing to build."

"Is it running off battery power?"

"Can't tell, the telemetry is unclear. S2 engine is still fluttering modes, but the internal interference is tremendous. It appears batteries are still functioning."

Stormcloud shook her head, "By the Maker... Major, this can't be."

"What now?"

"I've restored partial telemetry from the nervous interlinks. I can't tell what's happening, but it's like the Eva's generating new nerve fibers and interlinks."

Belmont felt her heart chill to ice and hackles rise on her neck, "god no. it's the same... it's happening again... it..."

Though no one answered him, Lt. Wise managed to throw out a strangled question, "Is my daughter alive?"

"It IS altering itself!" Stormcloud cried, "The interface matrix is in a state of physical flux. My calibrations show that the nervous system is definitely augmenting itself. Links have increased to a density three times normal, and continue to form!"

"Is Jane still synchronized? god no..." Alexandra Belmont's head was swimming. She could feel the change. A machine with a sister's voice -and now something more.

Stormcloud typed at the keyboard, switching back and forth between displays, "These... these instruments say the pilot is at a synch ratio of 150%! If she exceeds 400%, we'll lose her!"

"There has to be another explanation!" Belmont smacked her hands over her ears, "Toho, please tell me the angel's effecting the Eva."

"No, Sir, the pattern still tests as Orange. It's still an Eva. Internal energy readings have gone off my chart!"

"God damn!" Valentine exclaimed aloud, "Major, she's Hypersynchronizing!"

"Is it like before? Is it...?" Belmont demanded painfully, trying to shut the voices out of her mind. The voice!

"What? Huh?" Others in the booth were looking up and asking.

"I can't tell!" he threw his hands into the air, "Something's different. All I know is that she's losing the division between herself and the Eva," he explained. "Her ego boundary is merging with Unit-06!"

-now I've killed her too,- Alexandra Belmont understood, -it's all the same!-

In the cage below them, the Eva straightened in its moorings, visibly swelling in bulk. Its arms and shoulders bulged, expanding the armor that encased them. Joints that hung loose a moment before strained tight. The armor plates that were attached to the Unit whined and popped loudly with building interior stress. Shapeless musculature in the forearms pulsed suddenly into existence, forming powerful striations beneath the fibrous outer covering. One plate surmounting the chest twisted and developed fatigue lines. Unit-06 looked as if it were about to burst out of its armored hide. The final holding clamps howled like living creatures as they bent under tremendous torque. It could easily have wrenched free of all restraints.

Glancing from the window to the team, Valentine demanded, "Lt. Toho, what's the status of Unit-06's muscular system?!"

Toho typed quickly, shifting screens, "It's increased muscle density by 50%," then she paused, "it's healing itself or something; it'll be reaching standard density specs for a fully complete Evangelion in just a moment! The battery system status is not registering... the internal interference is way too strong. I can't tell where it's drawing power from!"

"Synchronization ratio has exceeded 500%.... It's gone off my chart!" Stormcloud shouted.

"Have we lost her?" Belmont demanded in a near whisper. Of all those involved, only she knew the depth. Only she had ever been there and back.

Lt. Wise looked as though he was going to die of a heart attack right where he stood. Could he know?

In the cage below them, the Eva lifted a massive hand up before its face.

Then Toho startled back with disbelieving gasp, "The Eva has opened a communications link with our computers...."

Before she could say anything else, all the computers in the booth squawked with an elated synthetic voice, "Dad I can Move!"

Lt. Wise's jaw dropped. Valentine went even more pale, "God almighty! She's still there! It happened and she's still there!"

"Jane, is that you?" Belmont asked with a dead tongue. These echoes felt the same and different. Two voices half remembered.

"Yes Major Belmont.... Can you see?! I can Move!" the Eva was waving its arms to and fro, its fingers flexing like mad. The shoulder clamps strained even further at the pure strength of the entity.

"Alexandra!" Dr. Valentine cried, "She's still there, we have a chance! We have to use her against the Angel before it's too late! We can fight the Angel!!"

"I can't..." Belmont began, taking a deep breath.

"There is no time. We have to go now!" someone else cried.


"Now! Do it Now!"

Steeling herself, she bit the inside of her cheek, "Toho, power status?" forgive me...

"I don't know... five minutes... maybe! Interference to the battery readings is unbelievable, I'm only guessing at the charge. Most of the telemetry is garbage."

"It- It'll have to do! Avery," Belmont cried, make a split second decision, "can we open a path to get that Eva out onto the battle field?"

"Yes, sir! You want me to blow something up???"

Belmont held up her hand to pause Avery. "Toho," she ordered, "get ready to open the restraining clamps the instant I say so."

Toho nodded, her expression and body language showing more than a little tension.

"Um... Jane, we're under attack by the Angel even as we speak. Can you fight it off?"

"Can I?" came the reply, oddly flat compared to the emotion from a moment before. "I don't know yet, but... but I can at least try."

Lt. Wise smiled in relief, "It is her!"

"Okay," Belmont answered, still in disbelief, "we're going to let you out. Keep in mind you may not have more than five minutes worth of power before the Eva shuts itself down."

"I can move. Let's do it," the synthetic child's voice seemed eager.

"Toho, open the clamps!"

"You've got it!" with that, the shoulder clamps let the Eva loose. Unit-06 slumped for an instant, getting used to supporting its own weight. When it straightened, it turned its head to look up at the booth.

"Hi, Dad!" its right hand waved in excitement.

"Hi, Sport," Lt. Wise returned the wave. Down his face, glistening in the light, ran tears of joy that only the parent of an invalid would have understood.

"Opening the cage," Lt. Toho reported. The far wall of the dingy metallic container slid slowly open.

"Lt. Avery, get ready to blow out the egress channel."

Jane's quiet artificial voice boomed like a shout, bewilderment rife through each word, "I can move."


"What in the name of God is going on?" Teneyl asked quietly, his throat hoarse.

Elston was at his shoulder, looking out the window in an effort to behold what Teneyl was seeing, "What is it?"

"They backed off," Teneyl replied, coughing blood, "They were tearing the lab up, then they just backed off. Now I think they're just standing."

His hands quivering from the burns that covered them, Teneyl strained at the handle of the door. Despite the pain he managed to work the latch and swing open the stubbornly warped hinges.

"What in the world are you doing??" Elston demanded, mortified at his commander opening the door and exposing them for the next attack.

Legs wobbling, radio held forgotten in his right hand, Teneyl lowered himself gingerly until he stood tottering on the still smoking turf. Puffs of semi-cool air nipped through the holes burned in his clothing, teasing the agonized flesh beneath. Shivering and hot at the same time, Teneyl surveyed an alien wilderness made of a place he once considered home. He tensed his eyes against the dim overcast, but could not make out the slightest movement on the part of the somber aggressors. They stood in a wide ring that completely encircled the mountain of the lab, staring stoically inward. Wind rustled lightly in the emptiness, stirring patchy scrub with eddies of smoke.

"What?" Elston asked, sitting behind Teneyl on the frame of the C&C's little doorway.

The hand held radio came to life, "General Teneyl, we have some help for you. Give us a moment."

"What moment?" Teneyl asked, his mind stirring blankly behind the throbbing pain of his body. Any second now, the Angels would renew their attack, putting a final stop to any further resistance. No further defense lay in store; the humanly resources had been expended. Or had they?

A sporadic gagging of dampened explosions bloomed within the west side of the lab mountain. Dirt erupted into the air in weak gouts that were scattered pell-mell by listless wind. Loosened sections of earth slid down the hillside to settle along the base. Absorbed into an abortive rumble, the silence stretch out again into a depressing denouement.

"We're having difficulty with the egress passage," Major Belmont informed him, "In their attack, the Angels collapsed most of it. We might have to... hold on..." the radio burped a hiss of static, then cut off.

Teneyl's arm lowered to his side. Had Belmont just sounded the knell of their victory or defeat?

Suddenly, the earth gave an impressive heave. Caught by a ground swell that passed almost invisibly beneath them, the C&C sprang several feet into the air then crashed down onto its side. Elston fell backward into the doorway, crying out in surprised fear as he bounced into the vehicle's confines. When he was at last slammed to rest himself, Teneyl could only groan at the pain in his tailbone. He tried to steady himself where he lay as further geological convulsions followed the first.

The lab mountain deformed outward, distending grossly like a bubble of wet clay. Another violent thrust followed closely on the heels of the first, displacing soil and splitting furrows through the ground. Teneyl was airborne an instant more before abusing his backside a second time. Subsurface support structures bent under tremendous pressure, forcing broken beams and girders upward through the surface. Cascades of loose dirt tumbled down the sides of the laboratory mound. With a shuddering convulsion, a nodule bulged from the mound just above the buried cargo egress, gradually forming into a sizable blister. Strained to the limits of expansion, the blister cracked outward with a ghastly racket of groaning steel and rumbling dirt. Dust clouds expelled into the open

A massive hand joined to the length of an equally sizable arm protruded from the rend. Almost ponderously, a second hand joined the first. In unison, the gigantic limbs easily tore away the earthen vesicle, peeling it back as though it were nothing more than the skin of an orange. Head and shoulders came into view at the lead of another landslide. Though Teneyl was certain he could see the whole torso, the form was obscured by the tumbling earth. The figure's head leaned back to issue a resounding preternatural howl that sent a shower of dirt into the air. With one last phenomenal heave, the blister exploded into a cloud of dust, sending the figure hurtling skyward with the humble effort of a powerful booster rocket.

Teneyl sheltered his delicate skull as he rolled across the ground. Debris, both metallic and granite, showered down on him. Pops and clangs echoed as chunks impacted against the overturned Humvee. Elston was either unconscious or dead from falling backward into the C&C.

Hurricane force winds blasted dark ash from the ground with a powerful sneeze. The huge humanoid form punched a hole up through the overcast sky, bringing rays of noonday sun down to the tortured North Dakota plain. The Eva, if it could be considered an Eva, performed a lazy back flip at nearly twenty thousand feet before relenting to gravity's thrall. A bandoleer of battery packs rustling through the air behind it, the giant sized newcomer landed in a lithe crouch. Teneyl was surprised at the lightness of the arrival when its landing wasn't even accompanied by an impact tremor.

"My god," he whispered to himself, trying to come to his knees.

Unit-06 held the crouch for a long time. One hand reached out and stroked ever so gently along the ragged land. It looked from side to side, basking in the golden pool of sun. Slowly, its head darting toward the sky then toward the ground, it stood up to its full height. Taking baby sized steps in a bewildered circle, it tested each limb, moved each joint, flexed every muscle, stretched its back and shoulders.

"General Teneyl, is she out there?!" his radio squawked suddenly.

"Belmont?" he wondered, lifting the radio to his mouth, "Major?"

"Yes, sir. Is she out there, sir?"

Tattooed in elaborate sideshow freak patterns, the orange, yellow and gray Eva unit wore only a fraction of an Eva's armor. So little in fact that it didn't resemble any of its older cousins. It even lacked the signature Eva knee guards and shoulder panels, causing it to appear rather short and squat compared to its counterparts. Unencumbered as it was, it moved far differently from the others as well. Somehow, it moved much more easily.

"Uh, yeah," Teneyl nodded to himself, "she's here."

Cinching up the loose bandoleer of battery packs it... -she- suddenly exploded into a blindingly fast pirouette. Limbs abruptly pulled in, the body spun more quickly than seemed possible. Tornadic wind generated concussively in every direction knocked Teneyl flat on his back so hard that he lost his breath. The blast of air ended a moment later, revealing its creator standing still on one leg with her arms extended high over her head. She could practically touch the clouds stretched like that.

Then she stopped and stood idly, hand on hips with her head cocked to the side.

"Jesus H Christ!" Teneyl squealed into the radio when he managed to get back to his feet, "Is that Unit-06? What the hell is it... she... doing?! Isn't she going to attack the Angels?"

"Hold on general, we might have a bit of a situation here. Let me patch you into a conversation we've got going with the computers."

Then the line lit up with a synthetic choir that sounded like the voice of a young girl, "...But Dad! Do you see? I can touch things! I can touch the ground! Touch the dirt! My body dances when I tell it to! I CAN MOVE!!!"

She spun in another pirouette, this one only fast enough to kick up a minor breeze. With her back arched and her arms twisting an elegant corkscrew around her body, she kicked out her airborne leg to stop the spin. She finished with a quaint little curtsy as though she were on stage expecting applauds. Around her, the Angels began to stir.

"That's really good, Sport, what I'm saying is that right now might not be the best time for a command performance," a man's voice answered. "You've got maybe four minutes of power left if Toho's right. Belmont just told me that General Teneyl is on the line with us."

"Who is this?" Teneyl asked, wary of the twelve deadly opponents steadily preparing to wipe out everyone. They were begin to stretch themselves, like mature insects struggling for the first time out of sloughed exoskeletons.

"Lt. Wise, sir," the man answered, "my daughter is the pilot."

"Uh, excellent," Teneyl responded sarcastically. "Would you mind telling her we've got a bunch of nasty enemies out here that aren't particularly happy to see her."


"Does the Angel have feathers? General," the girl sounded so young. "You're out here too! Where are you?" The Eva dipped her head, looking toward the ground in search of whoever she was talking to. She might have tripped over the C&C Humvee and squished Teneyl had she shuffled just a few paces toward him. "I want to see what the Angel looks like!"

"I'm down here, to your right." Teneyl told her, waving his arms in the direction of the Eva. Unit-06 glanced around until she saw him.

"Oh, there you are! How little! Where is the Angel? I want to see."

"Look over that way," Teneyl said, pointing outward toward the ring of sentinel Angels.

The Eva looked where he was pointing. She was still for a long time, "That's not what I've always heard Angels look like."

"It doesn't matter what they look like!" Teneyl swallowed the curse that almost exploded out of his mouth. "We really need you to take care of them before they kill us all. Now, please do something about Them!"

"Take them out?" was the inane response.


"All of them?"

"If you please."

Copyright 1999 Gregory P. Smith