Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ Pain, Rage, and Sorrow ❯ Briefing ( Chapter 2 )

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

Title: Pain, Rage, and Sorrow
Content: Mild Language, Mild Violence, Angst
Disclaimer: I do not own Neon Genesis Evangelion or Gainax. This fiction is a work of my imagination only, and has no official relation to the actual series.
A/N: Well, here you go! The revised and improved version of chapter two. Enjoy. XD
Chapter 2
In a small, freshly paved parking lot located near the outskirts of Tokyo-3, a bright blue sports car belonging to Misato Katsuragi pulled into her clearly-marked parking space, knocking over the small wooden sign displaying her name in the process. The driver-side door opened and the violet-haired Major stepped out into the bright sunlight, looking quite exasperated.
“Damn,” she whispered under her breath, quickly walking around to the front of her vehicle and kneeling down in front of the bumper. Growling softly under her breath, she reached out and touched the microscopic ding that had appeared in the gleaming metal. “And I just had this thing buffed too,” she grumbled as she stood and straightened the sign she had upset. At that moment the passenger door of the car swung open and the redheaded Asuka revealed herself.
“Maybe you should try prying that block of lead you call a foot off the accelerator every now and then,” she muttered as she swung the door shut.
Misato shot her a glare, and responded by saying “Come on, let's get inside or we'll be late and the Commander will have my head on a pike.” She started walking briskly across the parking lot, followed closely by the young redhead. A few moments later, they came to a guard post standing sentinel in front of a towering chain link fence. Misato presented their ID's to the guard, and he saluted smartly as the Major and her charge passed into the compound behind him.
Before the pair stood a grouping of white tent-like domes scattered over an area roughly the size of a football field. Several dozen NERV personnel scurried back and forth between them, performing various errands and generally making the place look like an extremely large anthill that had been kicked over. Emblazoned on the side of each hastily-erected structure was the blood red NERV logo and a two-digit serial number. Even though each tent had no markings other than that, Misato was able to figure out what purpose some of the individual domes served simply by looking. For example, she picked out which one Ritsuko supervised immediately, judging by the river of wires and cords that streamed out of the entrance flap. It was designated as 04. She recognized the executive tent next, labeled 07 (Gendo was far too paranoid to have it marked 01, and the dome sporting that number was actually used for storage), this time identifying it by the pair of armed guards that stood on either side of the flap.
As she glanced around, a half-smile appeared on the older woman's face, and she made a grand and exaggerated gesture as she said to Asuka, “Welcome to the new NERV Headquarters.”
When Zeruel had attacked Tokyo-3, it had managed to penetrate as deep as Central Dogma before being engaged by Unit 01, severely damaging H.Q. in the process. As a result, NERV was forced to create a temporary base of operations in order to continue functioning as the main facility underwent repair and reconstruction.
Fortunately, the Eva hangar had suffered minimal damage, which meant they were able to repair it quickly and were still capable of launching the Evas should the need arise. Misato had explained all this to Asuka on the trip over from the hospital, in response to the German girl's questions of what had happened after the young pilot had passed out. Of course, those were the only things Misato had been able to tell her. The rest was classified information, and the Second Child would have to wait until the briefing for everything to be revealed to her. As such, Asuka was extremely impatient, and only gave the facilities a cursory glance before saying, “Yeah, sure. That's nice. Can we get to the briefing now?”
The Major sighed yet again and muttered something about kids being too hasty before continuing on towards tent 06, a.k.a. `the Conference Room'. They stepped through the entrance, and were greeted by the sight of a long oak table with several chairs set around it. A small projector sat in the center of the table, and a collapsible screen was mounted at the table's head. Immediately, the pair noticed that nine people already occupied the tent. Commander Kouzou Fuyutsuki stood beside the screen, while Commander Gendo Ikari sat in the chair nearest to it, his hands folded together in front of his face. Across from the latter sat a man in a business suit that Asuka didn't recognize, but seemed vaguely familiar to Misato. Also seated at various places around the table were Ritsuko Akagi, and Lieutenants Maya Ibuki, Makoto Hyuga, and Shigeru Aoba. Three chairs to Commander Ikari's left sat Rei Ayanami, her red eyes staring blankly at the opposite wall. The final occupant of the tent stood leaning in the corner, as far away from everyone else as possible, his head bowed and his arms crossed tightly over his chest. It was Shinji.
Asuka's breath caught in her throat as soon as she saw him. It wasn't difficult to deduce that he was intensely depressed. She saw it in his slouched posture, his tense and defensive body language, and the bags that hung beneath his eyes. Shinji wasn't exactly the most happy-go-lucky person on the planet, but it was a bit unnerving to see him so depressed. Still, she refused to show any sympathy. To her, sympathy was weakness. On top of that, she was still a bit pissed that he had managed to save Tokyo-3 yet again, while she ended up getting her ass handed to her. And so, the young teenager put on a stoic expression to mask her conflicting emotions, and took a seat at the foot of the table. Misato did the same. No sooner had the pair seated themselves when Commander Ikari began to speak.
“Good. Everyone is here,” he said, folding his gloved palms on the table in front of him and looking at the people sitting around the table. As soon as his father started speaking, Shinji came away from the wall and took the only unoccupied seat which was, coincidentally, straight across from Asuka. The redhead swallowed nervously and avoided making eye contact with him, afraid that her emotionless mask might crack under his gaze. For reasons she didn't understand, her heart began to beat faster . . . .
Fortunately for her, this was easy to do since he kept his head bowed and didn't look up. The young German turned her head to look at the screen, forcing herself to tear her attention away from the Japanese boy and focus on the subject at hand.
“Let's begin,” said Gendo, and nodded towards Kouzou. The older man picked up a small remote sitting on the table, and pressed a tiny button. The projector hummed to life, and an overhead map view of the Japanese coast appeared.
“At approximately 7:24 AM, the fourteenth Angel, designation Zeruel, was detected by the NERV's orbital satellite array, about 4.2 kilometers outside the city limits of Tokyo-3,” began Fuyutsuki, and pressed the button again. A small area was highlighted on the map, marked `Detection: 0724'. “A UN quick reaction force, made up of a light tank company and an attack helicopter squadron, responded immediately, deploying to intercept the Angel. They engaged Zeruel roughly 20 minutes after it was detected, and radio contact was lost within a minute. Six minutes later, the Angel entered the city limits.”
The projector clicked, and an image of the Angel standing on a mountain ridge above the city appeared. “This picture was pulled from surveillance camera footage, as soon as the Angel entered the city limits.” Again, the image changed, and this time, the Angel's upper half was obscured by a blinding flash of light originating from its head. “Zeruel proceeded to launch a series of high yield energy projectiles at the city center, creating several extremely powerful explosions and causing an estimated $2.3 billion in damage. These projectiles, nearly rivaling the destructive capabilities of an N2 mine, also managed to penetrate 18 layers of the geo front with the first volley.” Asuka, who already knew all of this, cast her eyes upward and made a small rolling motion with her finger.
“Yeah, yeah. Hurry up and get on with it,” she muttered. Fuyutsuki either did not notice her little display, or he was ignoring it, for he continued speaking without missing a beat.
“The Angel continued its attack, and subsequently penetrated the geo front, making its way toward NERV Headquarters. Simultaneously, the Second Child, Asuka Langley Soryu, was deployed in Evangelion Unit 02 to intercept Zeruel.” At the mention of her name, the young German froze, the color draining from her face. There was another `click', and an image of Unit 02 opening up on the Angel with an automatic rifle in each hand appeared. The frozen image also showed the high caliber rounds smashing harmlessly against Zeruel's semi-transparent AT field.
“Using a wide array of weaponry, Unit 02 engaged the Angel. However, because of an exceptionally strong Absolute Terror field projected by Zeruel, this offensive had no effect. Subsequently, it counterattacked.” Click. The picture changed again, and Asuka suddenly felt like vomiting as she saw the razor-like arm of the Angel decapitating her Eva, accompanied by a violent spray of dark blue fluid that erupted from the wound, frozen in time by the photo. She fought down the bile rising in her throat as she re-experienced the vivid memories of intense pain and humiliation.
“Within seconds, the Angel dismembered Unit 02, incapacitating it and the pilot, and it returned to assaulting Headquarters.”
Almost at the same time, everyone in the room except the two commanders looked at her. The redheaded girl, ashamed of herself, felt the heat rising to her face as she locked her eyes on the floor to avoid making any eye contact with anyone. Even Shinji's head raised just slightly, the first movement he had made at all since the briefing had begun. A bit of Asuka that wasn't trying its hardest to focus on the floor noticed this, but she bitterly dismissed it as interest in her humiliation.
She wondered why he even looked at her in the first place- she was a total bitch to him, and she knew it. That thought alone only increased her sense of shame, and she struggled to control her emotions.
Some small part of her, buried deep in her psyche, knew that Shinji didn't deserve the things she said and did to him. And yet, she could not help it. Ever since that fateful day, over a decade ago, when her fragile little world had been shattered after her mother's suicide, Asuka had constructed a fortress of emotional defenses to protect her from being affected like that ever again. Unfortunately, these defenses consisted of lashing out at others before they even had the chance to do the same to her; pointing out the flaws of others to distract herself from her own failings; pretending that she was far superior to everyone else, trying to convince both them and herself that she wasn't really as pitiful as she sometimes felt; refusing to depend on anyone else, because she was afraid of being let down . . . . like her mother had, choosing to love that little doll instead of her daughter, and then taking herself away from Asuka . . .
Shinji often found himself on the receiving end of these so-called defenses, thanks mainly to his passive attitude and his proximity to the auburn-haired young woman. And Asuka could no more stop herself from doing these things to him than she could stop breathing. But Asuka didn't comprehend that she also did these things because, sub-consciously, she knew that he was one of the only people who had the power to hurt her most . . . .
Asuka was still wallowing in self-misery when she realized that Fuyutsuki had continued the briefing. Despite her melancholy mood, she was still intensely curious as to what had happened after she had passed out. And so, she shoved her feelings deep down, locked them up, and started listening once again. Asuka started paying attention in time to hear how Rei had attempted to synchronize with Unit 01 in Shinji's absence, and after failing, had no other choice but to launch in the handicapped Unit 00.
“Unit 00's arm had been detached in a previous battle with the 13th Angel, and had yet to undergo repairs by the time of Zeruel's appearance. With reduced offensive capability, and after seeing the magnitude of destructive power this Angel possessed, extreme measures had to be taken.” Asuka paused, wondering exactly what `extreme measures' implied. She didn't have to wait long for an answer.
“Carrying an N2 non-nuclear mine, the pilot rushed the Angel and, before it had a chance to attack, forced her way through the AT field and detonated the device.” The German teenager's eyes opened wide as she listened to the account of her Japanese counterpart's suicidal tactics, surprised that the blue-haired girl had been able to come up with a strategy that seemed so stupid, and yet so ingenious at the same time. For a moment, she wondered if it had actually been Rei and not Shinji (a detail that Misato had refused to reveal to Asuka during their ride in the car) that had defeated the Angel. Her speculation did not last long, however.
With another press of the button, Commander Fuyutsuki went to the next image, going from an impressive still-frame shot of the massive detonation to one of Zeruel standing unharmed in the center of an enormous crater. Asuka gaped in disbelief.
“The pilot of Unit 00 was momentarily stunned by the blast, and the Angel used this opportunity to disable it as well.” Again, everyone looked at the same person, only this time the subject of their scrutiny was the First Child. Asuka wasn't surprised to see that the blue-haired girl had no reaction to this other than a small frown. “With no obstacles remaining, the Angel continued unheeded towards H.Q. Using its projectile attack, it blew through NERV's final protective layers, and entered the facility.”
As she heard what had happened next, Asuka sat up straighter, interested in hearing how the Angel had been defeated. “At this time Shinji Ikari, the Third Child, returned to NERV headquarters, requesting to resume piloting Unit 01.” Asuka had the distinct impression that Fuyutsuki had just given them an extremely watered-down version of what had really taken place. She doubted Shinji could have `requested' to pilot again without some serious drama between him and his father.
“Cold-hearted bastard,” a voice within her spat automatically at the commanding officer of NERV as she glanced at his emotionless features. “I don't understand why Shinji tries so hard . . . .
Asuka, surprised by this sudden mental outburst, reminded herself that she wasn't supposed to care and silenced the voice.
“Permission was eventually granted, and Zeruel infiltrated the command center moments later. Central Dogma was nearly destroyed, along with a majority of the command staff, but Unit 01 engaged the Angel before it had a chance to attack. It lost its left arm in the process. Despite this, the pilot managed to maneuver the target on to one of the Evangelion launch catapults.”
A wide-eyed Asuka leaned forward, thoroughly intrigued.
“Both the Angel and Eva were launched to the surface, where Unit 01 proceeded to subdue the Angel.” Then, the elder commander started flipping through a series of images on the projector showing the purple Eva fighting with the Angel, smashing its fists against it repeatedly. “Unfortunately, Unit 01 had deployed without an umbilical cable, and before the Angel could be destroyed, the reserve power supply was depleted, forcing Unit-01 to shut down.”
Asuka was literally on the edge of her seat by now, completely caught up in the narrative.
“Zeruel recovered quickly, and launched a counterattack, intent on destroying Unit 01 and the pilot.” The picture changed yet again, and Asuka's body went rigid as she saw the monstrous creature pummeling the limp body of the Evangelion.
“Mein gott . . . .
Asuka could only stare: the picture showed that the Angel had ripped into the Eva's midsection and was attempting to smash into the core of Unit-01, where the pilot was located. Looking closely, she could see hairline cracks forming on the core's surface. At that point, she realized just how close to death Shinji must have come, and she suddenly felt disgusted with herself, ashamed that she had treated the briefing like some sort of Friday night action flick.
Fuyutsuki paused for a few moments to let them all digest everything he'd just said, and then resumed his report. “At this point, something quite . . . . unexpected took place.” Asuka, lost in her thoughts, didn't register his words. What she heard next, though, made her head snap up.
“Despite the fact that zero power remained in the Eva, the Third Child and Unit 01 abruptly achieved a synchronization ratio of 400%. Not only that, but Unit 01 regained mobility, and initiated a brutal offensive against the Angel.” The redhead gaped, still attempting to process what she had just heard. To her knowledge, a synch ratio of one hundred percent was almost unheard of, let alone a ratio beyond that. The development was . . . . well, astounding, to say the least.
Again, the aging commander flipped through a series of images, each one more horrific than the last. The young teenager watched with disbelieving eyes as the berserk Eva ripped off the Angel's arm and used it to replace its own, with which it attacked the creature without a shred of mercy. When Zeruel attempted to fight back, the biomechanical behemoth beat it down without mercy, and started to rip it apart. Then, for the second time that day, Asuka felt the intense desire to empty the contents of her stomach as she studied scenes of Unit 01 actually eating the dying Angel.
Fuyutsuki proceeded to explain that once the Eva had eviscerated the dying being, it absorbed the Angel's potent S2 engine into itself. “Fortunately, NERV personnel were able to subdue the berserking Unit-01 with cryo-projectors, forcing it into stasis.”
More than half the people in the room, the ones who had not been present when this had taken place, did not realize that Fuyutsuki had just neglected to tell them that, after devouring the Angel, Unit-01 had begun to shed the biomechanical restraints that kept the Evangelion in check; he had neglected to tell them that the Evas were actually organic beings with the spirits of human beings contained inside them, and not just a set of giant robots built from scratch; he had neglected to tell them that each and every Evangelion had been cloned from the Angels in order to fight them.
But there was no need for them to know that.
“After being subdued,” Commander Kouzou continued, “Unit 01 was returned to base. However, when NERV technicians attempted to eject the entry plug of the Eva, the command was rejected. After trying to retrieve the Third Child for several minutes, the internal monitors of the plug were activated to check the pilot's status. They found this.” He pressed a button again, and an image of the inside of the entry plug appeared. The pilot's seat was void, and an empty plug suit was floated lazily in the LCL that filled the plug.
Instantly, an electrical shock ran up Asuka's spine. She glanced towards Shinji, and saw him cringing in his seat. She felt her hand twitch, and experienced the sudden urge to reach out and touch him, to try and ease his pains . . . .
Then . . . .
Wait, what the fuck was that? Wh- what am I thinking?! I . . . . I don't wanna go anywhere near him! . . . . I must still be a little out of it . . . . yeah, that's it . . . .”
As she wondered why the Hell she was blushing, Asuka tuned an ear back towards Fuyutsuki. “After analyzing the situation, NERV's head technician, Ritsuko Akagi,” he said, nodding once in the direction of the blonde scientist, “came to the conclusion that when the Third Child had achieved a 400% synchronization ratio, his personal AT field dissolved, and both his body and individual identity were absorbed into the LCL fluid within the entry plug. Once the problem was determined, Miss Akagi formulated a solution involving the use of the MAGI supercomputer system to recompose the pilot's body and soul. Though extremely risky, the plan was initiated. Despite several precautionary measures, it failed, or so it seemed, as the entry plug was ejected and the LCL was drained. However, the pilot was ejected on to the floor moments later, unconscious and restored to his normal state. After a thorough medical examination, our doctors determined him to be in good health, and he has been returned to active duty as an Evangelion pilot.”
Now Asuka understood why Shinji was acting so strangely. Who wouldn't be, after an experience like that?
She was still studying the Japanese boy sitting across from her when Fuyutsuki began to speak yet again, catching her attention. “And so, we come to the reason why this meeting was called in the first place. Obviously, after absorbing an S2 engine, Unit-01 would obviously undergo some . . . . changes. So far, NERV's technicians have found that the Eva now possesses an unlimited power supply, and they estimate that several more developments will present themselves as time goes on, thus increasing Units 01's battle efficiency exponentially. In simpler terms,” he said, pausing momentarily for effect, “Unit 01 has become a battle asset with great potential . . . . perhaps even the capacity to evolve into the ultimate war machine.”
With another click of the remote in the commander's hand, the projector shut off, causing the unsettling image of the empty pilot's seat to disappear from the screen. As soon as he did this, the only person in the meeting that Asuka hadn't recognized stood from his seat near the head of the table, and walked over to stand next to Fuyutsuki.
“Now then, allow me to introduce our guest. This is Kenichi Matsuo, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs.” A tiny gasp of recognition came from Misato as she finally realized who the man was, and why he had seemed familiar. Automatically, she straightened up in her seat. “Minister Matsuo has come to us with some important information, and so I now relinquish the floor to him. Minister?” Fuyutsuki bowed respectfully and gestured to the standing area at the head of the table before seating himself.
The Minister, a heavyset man with salt-and-pepper hair, nodded to Commander Kouzou and stood before his small audience. Asuka noted the grim expression on the aging man's face, and immediately knew that something was seriously wrong. Why else would the Minister of Foreign Affairs feel the need to visit NERV? As he cleared his throat, preparing to speak, she couldn't help but wonder, “What now?
A/N: Again, I must give thanks to Kanto the Slayer for helping me to give this story a much-needed makeover. If anybody deserves your praise, it's him. XD In any case, I would very much appreciate it if you left your opinions in a review. Peace out!