Story: NGE: Third Genesis (all chapters)

Authors: Shanejayell

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Chapter 1

Evangelion Third Genesis: Part One

Ritsuko looked straight ahead, trying not to look up at those who were going to be passing judgment on her for her actions. The head of the tribunal cleared his throat, "Ritsuko Akagi, you have chosen to plead guilty for the attempted murder of Gendo Ikari."

There was a meaningful pause, and Ritsuko realized that they expected her to say something. "Yes, sir," the blonde haired woman answered him simply. She really didn't think there was much else left for her to say.

Several men and women on the five person board clearly expected her to say more, however. They looked down at her with expressions ranging from a bit of awe at her guts to complete and utter disbelief. The head of the tribunal pushed his glasses up on his face uncomfortably before bending to carefully review his notes.

"Normally," the older man said reluctantly, "you would expect to face a punishment of life imprisonment for this charge, and in a way you will."

Ritsuko looked a bit more attentive upon hearing that, sensing that something unexpected might just be in the offing. 'Maybe there's some new, creative execution they want to test on me?' she thought to herself whimsically.

He took his glasses off, and it was obvious he didn't much like what he was going to have to say, "Ritsuko Akagi, you are remanded to the custody of the new commander of Nerv, to be held there under that individual's supervision as an intellectual asset."

'What the.." Ritsuko thought as she was quickly hustled out of the court room. Not long after she found herself waiting out by the front of the building with an military police officer, her hands cuffed behind her back.

The jeep barreled around the corner, nearly clipping the terrified officer and skided to a stop. Misato Kisaragi waved cheerfully, "Sorry to keep you waiting."

"Misato," Ritsuko blinked.

"Hey," the dark haired woman looked at the officer over her sunglasses, "what's she doing in cuffs? Get them off her."

"Yes, ma'am," the officer saluted before quickly uncuffing Ritsuko.

"I'll take it from here," Misato gave the man an airy wave. She looked over at Ritsuko and simply said, "Get in."

A few minutes later the battered jeep was burning rubber across the blacktop, exactly where Ritsuko didn't know. She looked over at Misato and asked tentatively, "Are you taking me to see the new commander of Nerv?"

"You're looking at her," Misato grinned.

"What?" Ritsuko blurted out in surprise.

"I didn't want the job," Misato smiled at her wryly, "but the United Nations wanted to clear out everyone who was even remotely involved with Gendo's dirty dealings."

"Which doesn't leave much of the higher ups," Ritsuko admitted. She looked over at Misato's collar, "You're still a major?"

"For now," Misato shrugged. Metalic towers soon rose in the distance, battle scarred but still mostly intact. "Welcome to Tokyo-3, the temporary headquarters for Nerv," she shrugged.

Misato got out first, wincing slightly as she moved a bit too quickly. 'She was shot, too,' Ritsuko remembered. "You all right?" she asked.

"I'll live," Misato shrugged, leading her into one of the buildings. They entered an elevator, rose up a few levels, then walked down a hallway until they reached an unmarked office. "My humble abode," Misato shrugged as she waved Ritsuko in ahead of her.

Suprisingly, along with the typical big desk and a few uncomfortable chairs, Ritsuko saw that there was a couch along one wall. Misato on one end of the couch and Ritsuko sat on the other, sighing in relief as she finally relaxed a bit.

"What's been going on?" Ritsuko asked. "I've heard the most outlandish things, even being in the hospital and stockade," she added.

"I'm still figuring things out myself," Misato sighed. "Do you remember the Sailor Senshi?" she asked her.

Ritsuko blinked, then her eyes widened. "Yes," she murmured softly.

"But not until I mentioned them, right?" Misato smiled wryly.

Ritsuko nodded, her eyes wide. Her eyes narrowed slightly, and it was clear that she was remembering other things, as well. "How is this possible?" she murmured.

"Adam," Misato said, refering to the alien being that had been Gendo Ikari's captive, "at least, that's the best guess anyone has."

Ritsuko sat up to look at Misato to see if she was joking. She wasn't. "But why would he?" she started to say.

"The First Impact, the rising seas, the destruction of Tokyo," Misato said, "all illusions or misdirections by Adam. Or his taking credit for a natural event, like the seas rising due to global warming. All starting, roughly, after Gendo and his boys captured him."

Ritsuko nodded thoughtfully, "Adam wanted to convince Gendo that holding him was a bad idea, so the disasters."

"But Gendo didn't buy it," Misato sighed, "or he just didn't care. So Adam called his... sons? Brothers? Family, anyway, to try to bust him out."

"And it selectively messed with our memories so that we wouldn't go looking for the Senshi," Ritsuko muttered, "and maybe stumble onto the fact that Tokyo wasn't destroyed." She frowned, "But why didn't anyone in Tokyo try to help?"

"More illusion," Misato answered, "to them, life was continuing on normally. They never knew anything was going on."

Ritsuko nodded, laying back and closing her eyes. "I'm going to need some time," she admitted quietly, "to take this all in."

Misato surprised her by saying, "Good," and then she smiled slightly, "because we have a few other problems to deal with, too."

Ritsuko opened one eye to look at Misato, "What problems?"

"Well, for one thing NERV, which is basically the two of us, a few other officers plus what's left of the old support teams, has been asked to prepare plans to protect the Earth in case of another alien attach," Misato said softly, dryly adding that, "They've just assumed that we will be making up the first line of defense."

"And the other thing?" Ritsuko asked faintly.

"Do you remember how Gendo rammed through the resolution founding NERV in the United Nations?" Misato asked her. Ritsuko nodded, so Misato continued, "It seems that he provided the basic tech for creating EVAs in exchange for the votes he needed. So now we have several unauthorized EVAs running around."

Ritsuko swore softly.

"My thoughts exactly," Misato nodded.

Ritsuko sat forward, reaching up and rubbing at her eyes tiredly. "So what assets do we have to work with?" she asked.

"EVA 01 is still missing in action and EVA 00 and 02 are under repair right now, though you're help on that would be greatly appreciated," Misato smiled wryly.

"I take it things are a bit disorganized?" Ritsuko asked.

"Oh, yeah," Misato nodded. "Asuka is recovering in hospital, though it's starting to look like she may loose the function in her one eye."

"I thought it was healing nicely?" Ritsuko frowned.

"It should have," Misato sighed before adding, "The doctors think it's in part due to the feedback from her EVA being dismembered."

Ritsuko winced. "What about Shinji?" she asked.

"He's in a coma," Misato said softly, her eyes flickering with a bit of guilt, "Whatever he experienced in the end was too much for him to handle, at least that's what the psychiatrists seem to think. There's nothing physically wrong with him, he just won't wake up."

"So we're down to one pilot," Ritsuko frowned.

"Not exactly," Misato said. Ritsuko looked up at her curiously and she said, "We were searching a series of unused storage rooms and found a Rei Ayanami."

To Be Continued...

Chapter 2

Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Two

The phone rang shrilly once, then rang again. A hand came out from under the covers and reached out blindly. A emply glass fell to the floor, a book soon joined it but finally, the receiver was grabbed and pulled sluggishly under the covers.

"Yes?" the sleepy voice asked. There was a moment's pause, then "Yes, this is Maya Ibiki. Yes, this is she."

There was a extended period of silence, and a sleepy mind slowly began to work. Suddenly Maya sat right up in her bed, her brown eyes wide and her short black hair sticking up wildly as the sheets puddled around her waist.

"Misato?" Maya blurted out.

Misato's clearly amused voice came through loud and clear, "I'm glad to hear that you're awake at last."

"How can I help you?" Maya squeaked nervously.

Misato quietly said, "I hope you'll come back to work. NERV has been reactivated, and we could use your help."

"I resigned," Maya reminded her, "after everything that happened with sempai." She thought of Ritsuko and felt a burst of pain that she quickly tried to bury.

"I know," Misato admitted. She paused for a few seconds, and Maya wondered what was happening on the other end of the line. "I was just thinking that Ritsuko could really use your help," Misato said casually.

"She's there?" Maya gasped softly.

"I couldn't get the charges against her dismissed," and Misato sounded quite amused as she said, "but for her punishment I was able to get her assigned as a scientific resource here at NERV." There was a beat of silence, "Things are pretty disorganized here right now. So, would you be interested in rejoining NERV?"

Maya didn't even have to think about it, "I'll be there. When do you need me?"

"As soon as possible," a relieved Misato answered. "Ritsuko will be getting here at Tokyo-3 tomorrow, can you make it here by then?" she asked.

"I'll be there," Maya answered her firmly. She found out which building to go to and was offered an apartment in the city before she gently lay the phone back in to its cradle.

Maya looked around her Tokyo apartment, already thinking of the details she needed to attend to. First, she called her landlord, explaining that she had to move out immediately. Then, packing her clothes.

Most of her items she just bundled up as small as she could and packed into the cases, then she reached the bottom drawer of her dresser. She pulled it open and almost reverently pulled out the plastic wrapped bundle that lay there.

It unfolded easily, her NERV uniform. Maya hadn't been sure why she had saved it so carefully when she had resigned, but now she knew. She let herself think the thoughts that she had been fighting back since Misato called, 'I get to see Ritsuko again!'

Early the next morning, and Maya was ready to go. She called up a few friends she had made in Tokyo, put the items she couldn't pack up into storage, and prepared to leave. She had come to Tokyo because she wanted to get away from Tokyo-2 and it's sister city Tokyo-3, and everything that they represented to her. She wanted a normal life, or as normal as she could get.

The train was easy to catch, the first taking her from Tokyo to Tokyo- 2. It was a popular trip, people from the city wanting to see the 'city of the future' that was so nearby. Maya looked out at the buildings running by, and let herself think.

Maya remembered some of what happened in the end, at least she thought she did. The army had invaded NERV, and she had crouched down behind a control panel, waiting for rescue. Or if she was honest with herself, waiting to die. Then... it happened.

The gunfire, the weapons discharges, they all slowed, then finally stopped. She flowed through the ceiling at her, smiling warmly. Ritsuko's ghost.

'But she's alive, isn't she?' a frowning Maya thought to herself. 'So what was it that I saw?' she wondered. The memories got awfully blurry after that, and she eventually found herself back where she started from, crouched down in the NERV control center as someone announced over the communication system that the fighting was all over.

The next few days were pure chaos. Misato in the hospital, near death. Ritsuko being held in a military infirmary, pending her trial for the attempted murder of Gendo Ikari. Rei gone, Shinji in a coma, all the EVA's in ruins or missing.

Maya had hit her limit, and tendered her resignation to her immediate superior. She left NERV, intending never to return.

'So much for that idea,' Maya thought to herself wryly.

Arriving at Tokyo-2, Maya made a little detour before boarding her next train. She changed in the ladies bathroom, pulling on that familiar, comfortable uniform once again. She felt curious glances as she went to the military train, curiosity and a bit of respect. When she showed her NERV pass to the officer at the train, he threw her a instant salute.

'What on Earth is going on?' Maya wondered.

She settled into a seat beside another young woman, a dark haired woman who looked at her wide eyed. "Are you really a NERV officer?" she gushed.

Maya blinked in surprise, "Well, yes..."

The woman actually squealed with happiness. "Where you there for the battle for NERV headquarters?" she asked eagerly.

"Yes," Maya answered her cautiously.

"What was it like?" the girl looked at her breathlessly.

"Chaotic," Maya blinked. "Who are you?" she asked quietly.

"Oh," the girl blushed, "my name is Nako." Maya looked at the girl push her large, round glasses up higher on her nose and dearly hoped that this trip was going to be much faster than she thought it usually was.

Maya left the train, feeling a bit guilty that her new friend had to continue onward. She looked around to get her bearings, and then made her way through the high tech city.

"Fifth floor," Maya murmured, checking her hastily scribbled directions as she exited the elevator on the correct level, "office 5-C." She went a short way down the hall, finding a unmarked office door. The one on the left said, '5-B', the one on the right said, '5-D.'

'This must be the place,' Maya thought, putting her hand on the door. It opened up under her touch, and she heard a familiar voice.

"... found a Rei Ayanami," Misato finished.

There was a short pause, and Maya heard Ritsuko say, "A Rei Ayanami? You mean another clone?"

Maya drew her hand back, knocking loudly on the doorway.

"Come in," Misato called out.

Maya pushed the door open and moved to stand in front of Misato, "Maya Ibiki, reporting for duty, sir." She paused, "Or ma'am, whichever you'd prefer." Ritsuko sat up almost as soon as she saw her, and Maya had to fight a smile.

"Just Misato," the dark haired woman smiled wryly, "I'm not too into the military style."

"Maya," and Ritsuko smiled, "it's good to see you." The blonde pushed her hair back nervously, revealing how pale she was.

'I forgot, it hasn't been that long since she got out of the hospital,' Maya thought. Before she could stop herself she asked, "Have you been getting enough rest, sempai?"

Ritsuko blushed, looking down as she muttered, "Don't start mother henning me, now."

Misato shifted on the couch, wincing a bit as she grabbed her ribs. "I bet we could both use some of that, actually," she admitted.

Maya smiled at Misato, silently mouthing 'Thank you.'

Misato smiled back, "Why don't the two of you take the rest of the day off, get settled in?"

"But..." Ritsuko started.

Misato smiled impishly before adding, "It'll give the two of you a chance to catch up with each other, too."

To Be Continued...

Chapter 3

Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Three

A visibly tired Misato Kisaragi used her keycard to open up the door to her new apartment, and had to bend over quickly to stop the penguin from escaping down the hallway. "Hey, Pen-pen, I'm home," she murmured.

Misato looked around her, shaking her head as she thought about how pristine the place had been when she first moved in a week ago. Now boxes were scattered about, take-out containers littered every available surface, and beer cans were scattered around artistically.

"Well, at least the place finally looks like home," she laughed to Pen-pen, who was looking up at her expectantly. She opened up a food pack for him first, then she started to decide on what she'd have for dinner herself. Deciding take-out was too much trouble, she got a frozen dinner out and put it in the microwave.

Sitting down and waiting for the microwave to perform it's magic, Misato let herself begin to process everything that had happened that day. Ritsuko's return had been a godsend to her, actually. Having the clearly competent blonde haired scientist back to handle the technical end of things would take a incredible load off her own shoulders. Leaving Misato with just the military and politicians to deal with, something she was pretty good at.

'Not to mention Ritsuko doesn't take any garbage from me,' Misato thought. She grinned impishly, 'And what's Ritsuko without her side-kick, Maya?"

Having Maya Ibiki around was almost as much of a relief to Misato as Ritsuko. The young lady had been in the control room throughout the entire Angels crisis, and had seen a lot of stuff go down. She had developed into a quite capable young woman, and once Misato got that promotion for her rammed through she'd be an even greater help.

Misato got up to collect her tray of food, taking a short detour by the fridge to collect a can of her favorite beer. "Ah, the drink of the gods," she sighed to herself happily, taking a long drink. She then dug into her meal vigorously, alternating mouthfuls of food with slurps of her beer. Finishing, she pushed the tray away with a soft sigh.

'They're so cute together, too,' Misato thought, remembering how Maya had gently helped Ritsuko out of Misato's office earlier that day. 'Maya's got such a crush on Ritsuko, but she doesn't notice,' Misato thought, 'or she doesn't choose to notice.'

But thinking of Maya brought to mind another dark haired figure, one she wasn't sure she wanted to think about. Misato closed her eyes, knowing that the pain she felt had nothing to do with her wounds. 'Shinji,' she thought bleakly.

The boy had been a total wreck, when the army launched it's surprise attack on NERV. Shinji had just been forced to kill a friend, compelled by an override of his EVA that had left him trapped in the very machine that was doing the killing. Misato had dragged him to his EVA, and in a move that was still giving her cold sweats of guilt when she thought about it, all but bribed him with her body to get him in to the EVA.

'I thought I was helping save his life,' Misato thought, remembering the serious gunshot wounds she had received in the battle, 'thought that I was protecting him.' It was only later on that she found out that things had gone totally bad and crazy outside, and that poor Shinji had been caught up right in the middle of it.

No one knew quite what happened out there to Shinji, honestly. Any satellite photos that were recovered of the events were confusing, to say the least. All that was really known was that he and Asuka had been found together unconscious, Rei Ayanami and the EVA 01 were both gone, and that Shinji wouldn't wake up.

When Shinji slept the first few days away, it was just assumed that exhaustion had taken it's toll, but once Asuka awoke up and he didn't, they began to worry. Physically, the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with him, and the psychologists could only guess that the built up stress had been too much for the boy.

'And then there's Asuka,' Misato thought to herself grimly. The mass production EVAs had destroyed the EVA 02, nearly totally dismembering it, leaving the girl badly traumatized. 'And we get to go see her tomorrow, and try to talk her into climbing into an EVA once again,' she sighed.

"I wonder if I could just stay in bed all day tomorrow?" she asked Pen-pen, who decided to just ignore her.

Misato looked over at the fridge, strongly considering pulling out a few cans of beer, enough to dull the pain of her body. 'And maybe my conscience?' she thought. With a shake of her head she bypassed the beer, heading for her bedroom and settled down for a fitful night's sleep.

The next morning Misato met Ritsuko and Maya outside of the building housing her office and just had to sigh. 'They're showing the same body language from yesterday,' she thought irritably, 'I gave them a half day alone together, and nothing happened? Give me a break.'

"Is something wrong?" Ritsuko asked curiously.

"Never mind," Misato sighed, leading them over to the waiting jeep. "Maya, you get to drive," she ordered.

"Sure," Maya smiled, climbing into the driver's seat. Before anyone else could take their seats she said, "Sempai, would you like to ride up front?"

'Way to go, Maya,' Misato had to smile as she climbed into the back seat, taking the decision out of Ritsuko's hands.

"Right," Ritsuko blinked, a bit of a flush to her cheeks. She looked back at Misato, "So where are we headed?"

"The city hospital," Misato sighs softly. She looked at Maya, "You know where it is?"

Instead of answering her question directly, Maya started up the jeep. Taking the shortest, most efficient route through the streets of Tokyo-3 she had them there in only a few minutes. "You had to ask?" Maya smiled. As they were getting out she quietly added, "I memorized the city map earlier, just in case."

They showed their ID at the front desk, though it was interesting to note they were all recognized instantly. 'The last defenders of NERV,' Misato had heard someone talk about them and that last stand, and had nearly hit him. It hadn't been heroic, it was mad, chaotic and bloody, people who should have been on the same side trying to kill each other. But everyone who had been there had acquired a certain legend around them, and Misato wasn't above using it if needed.

"Asuka's upstairs," Misato said, leading them over to the elevators.

They walked in together, and Misato pressed the key for the top floor. Not having heard Misato's speech earlier Maya asked, "How is she?"

"Physically, she's recovering," Misato answered Maya quietly, deciding not to mention Asuka's mental condition. They reached their floor, striding down a long hallway to a hospital door, which Misato knocked on firmly.

"Go away," A familiar voice cried out in reply.

"It's Misato," she called back in return.

A moment's silence, then Asuka said, "Come in."

It was an odd moment, looking at the bandaged woman standing by the window. White cloth wrapped her arms, running across her head, she looked almost eerily like Rei Ayanami had. But then she turned, her red hair becoming more visible, and the illusion was shattered.

"Good morning," Ritsuko put her hands in her lab coat pockets nervously. Maya hesitated behind her, not quite sure what to say.

Misato made sure to keep a bit of distance as she said, "Are you going to take another shot at me?" She reached up to her cheek, and a nearly faded bruise that was there.

"Not this morning," Asuka smiled faintly, looking out at them through her right eye. The left was covered up by a simple bandage, concealing the sightless eye beneath it.

Misato met her gaze steadily, looking into her eye to try to read what she was feeling. Not an easy task, considering Asuka's anger and intensity. "Try not to pound on any of the doctors," she murmured, "they're just doing their jobs."

"If they try to tie me down to a bed again," and Asuka caressed her bandaged arms, "they'll just get what they deserve."

Misato, Ritsuko and Maya stood there awkwardly. Misato wanted to say something, to try to get started on what they had to do, but she couldn't seem to manage it. All she could do was think, 'Do I really want to put her through this again?'

"I'll pilot the EVA for you," Asuka said as she turned back towards the window.

There was an extended moment of dead silence. Misato finally managed, "What?"

There was an impish little smile on her face as Asuka looked back at the three of them, "I said, I'll pilot the EVA for you."

"Are you sure?" Ritsuko asked her quietly.

"It's what I do," Asuka murmured, "what I'm good at. I've heard about Shinji, so it's not like we have a lot of options, either."

"We can find another pilot if we have to," Misato offered quietly as she walked to Asuka's side, "I'm not going to let anyone force you into the pilot's seat."

Asuka looked up at her gratefully as Misato put her hand on the red head's shoulder. "It's not that I'm not scared," Asuka murmured, "but I'm sure that I can do this."

Misato nodded slightly, "All right." With a slight smile, "It's good to have our ace pilot back with us again."

Asuka looked around the sterile hospital room in clear distaste, "Now could I please get out of here?"

Ritsuko picked up Asuka's chart, "You're just under observation. I think we can get you out of here without too much trouble."

"I'll go get you some clothes," Maya offered.

"See if you can get me an eyepatch, too," Asuka called out after her. She turned back to Misato, already looking more self confident, "Where to next?"

Misato tried not to grin, "We're going to go see Rei Ayanami next."

There was a moment of dead silence, as Asuka looked at her in surprise. "What?" she finally managed to get out.

Chapter 4

Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Four

        'It's strange, how peaceful it looks,' the red haired woman thought to herself dreamily. Her lips twisted in a bitter little smile, 'Almost like it hadn't happened at all.' Asuka heard the firm knock on the hospital door, disturbing her thoughts as she was looked out at Tokyo-3.

        Irritated Asuka called back at whoever it was, "Go away!"

        "It's Misato," she heard her answer.

        Asuka blew out a breath, then quietly said, "Come in."

        They came in the room together, Misato, Ritsuko and Maya, and Asuka was reminded of other times she had seen the three of them together like this. But it was different now, her arms wrapped in bandages as she looked out at them through only her right eye.

        "Good morning," Ritsuko said as she put her hands in her lab coat's pockets nervously, and Asuka had to fight back a smile. Standing behind her Maya hesitated, not quite sure what to say.

        'They do look good together,' Asuka noted a bit sadly as she looked over at the blonde and dark haired officers.

        Asuka noticed that Misato made sure to keep a bit of distance between the two of them as she asked, "Are you going to take another shot at me?" Misato reached up to her cheek, and touched a nearly faded bruise that was there.

        "Not this morning," Asuka smiled back at her.

        A little smile in return. "Try not to pound on any of the doctors," Misato murmured, "they're just doing their jobs."

        Asuka bared her white teeth, fighting back a sudden surge of anger at that comment. "If they try to tie me down to a bed again," she said dangerously, unconsciously rubbing at her bandaged arms, "they'll just get what they deserve."

        Asuka watched Misato, Ritsuko and Maya standing there awkwardly. They looked at each other, and for a moment she almost wanted to laugh. It was so obvious what the wanted to do, why they were here. Why not get on with it?

        "I'll pilot the EVA for you," Asuka finally decided to answer the unspoken question as she turned back towards the window and the view of the city.

        Asuka heard an extended moment of dead silence right behind her. After a few seconds Misato finally managed, "What?"

        Asuka actually could feel herself smiling again as she looked back at the three of them, "I said, I'll pilot the EVA for you."

        "Are you sure?" Ritsuko asked her quietly.

        Asuka smiled at the blonde scientist. "It's what I do," she murmured, "what I'm good at. I've heard about Shinji, so it's not like we have a lot of options, either."

        "We can find another pilot if we have to," Asuka was almost surprised to hear Misato quietly offer as she walked to her side. Her voice was almost caring as she continued, "I'm not going to let anyone force you into the pilot's seat."

        Asuka looked up at her gratefully as she felt Misato put her hand her shoulder, squeezing gently. "It's not that I'm not scared," she murmured to Misato, feeling that knot of fear in her gut, "but I'm sure that I can do this."

        Asuka closed her eyes and seemed to feel Misato nod as she said, "All right." A little pause, "It's good to have our ace pilot back with us again."

        Asuka looked around the sterile hospital room and couldn't hide her distaste, "Now could I please get out of here?"

        Ritsuko picked up Asuka's chart and studied it before saying, "You're just being kept under observation. I think we can get you out of here without too much trouble."

        "I'll go get you some clothes," Maya quickly offered.

        Asuka called out after her, "See if you can get me an eye-patch, too." She turned back to Misato and already felt a bit more self confident as she asked, "Where to next?"

        Misato seemed to be trying not to grin as she answered seriously, "Well, we're going to go see Rei Ayanami."

        Asuka looked at her in surprise for a moment while she tried to take that in. "What?" she finally managed to ask.

        Ritsuko gave Misato a scolding glance, "Would you please stop teasing us with her? You've been doing it for days."

        "Sorry," but Misato didn't look very repentant. She pushed her hand through her dark hair, "It's easier to show you than try to explain."

        Maya, a mistress of good timing, came in just then carrying a folded uniform shirt and pants, the black eye-patch laying on top. "I hope these are the right size," she smiled tentatively at Asuka.

        "Thanks," Asuka smiled back at her as she took the pile of clothes. The other women stood around for a moment, and Asuka gave them a pointed look.

        "Oh, right," Ritsuko blinked, and herded the other two out of the room to give Asuka some privacy to change.

        Asuka smiled slightly, striping off the skimpy hospital gown first. The bandages she quickly unraveled into a messy pile at her feet, and she paused to trace those thin pale red lines left by the surgery with her fingers. She smiled slightly as she pulled the standard NERV uniform on, feeluing a bit of relief that it wasn't a plug suit. She wasn't quite up to wearing one of those just yet. The eyepatch was a bit akward as she tried to get it settled over her left eye, but she managed. Socks and shoes on, and she was ready to go.

        "Much better," Asuka looked at her reflection in the mirror with satisfaction, tugging the bottom on the shirt to make sure it was straight. She strode out into the hallway, "Let's go."

        Misato gestured to Asuka to walk beside her as they strode down the hallway, Ritsuko and Maya following behind them. Misato gave her a tentative glance as they filed into the elevator, "Would you like your old room back?"

        "What do you mean?" Asuka answered her quietly.

        "I've got an empty room in my new place," Misato said quietly as she pressed a floor number, "if you want to take it."

        "Yeah, I'd like that," Asuka smiled back. She paused to ask teasingly, "Are you as much of a slob as you used to be?"

        "Pretty much," Misato answered as the elevator stopped, the doors sliding open.

        "I was hoping being promoted would change that," Asuka noted, "guess not."

        Ritsuko snicked softly from behind them, and Misato shot her a glare. The floor was obviously devoted more to medical science, the walls unpainted. There were sounds ahead of them, growing louder as they walked on.

        "So the Rei we're going to see is another clone?" Maya asked tentatively.

        "To be honest, we're not sure," Misato admitted. She looked at Ritsuko, "That's one reason I wanted you back here, to examine her." They reached a set of large double doors, and she pushed one open before nodding to the others, "Go on in."

        A group of scientists were clustered around a large metal tube, and once Misato cleared her throat loudly they shifted aside so that they could see what floated within. Asuka had been expecting to see the Rei Ayanami she had known, but the woman who floated there wasn't quite the same.

        Some of the differences were quite obvious, the others more subtle. The hair was a much darker shade of blue, looking a bit more normal. Asuka blushed faintly, noticing the better developed body. Tearing herself away from that detail she saw the vibrant skin tone, the pink to her cheeks. Overall she looked healthy, a word Asuka wouldn't have ever used to describe the old Rei.

        Pacing around the collumn was a man who looked like the living stereotype of the typical mad scientist. His black hair stood on end, the white lab coat had a few coffee stains, his eyes were blood shot and his face was haggard.

        Misato frowned at him worriedly, "Dr. Stingray, how long have you been here?"

        Dr. Stingray shrugged, "I don't know. What time is it?" Misato told him, and his eyebrow went up, "Remarkable. All right, what day is it?"

        "Go home, get some rest," Misato pushed him bodily towards the doors. He tried to protest and she added, "I'll make it an order if I have to."

        "Yes, ma'am," Dr, Stingray shuffled off with a sigh.

        "Is that his real name?" Maya asked Ritsuko softly.

        "Yes, poor guy," Ritsuko answered absent mindedly, her gaze focused on Rei. Quietly she asked Misato, "You said that she was found in a storage chamber. Are there any records of when she was placed there?"

        "The room was sealed, apparently shortly after Tokyo-3 was constructed," Misato answered her quietly. "Other than that," she shrugged.

        "What does the scan data say?" Ritsuko asked, fully in her scientist mode.

        "It's fully shielded," another scientist volunteered softly, "the scans couldn't get through."

        "So the only way we may be able to find out anything about her," Asuka said softly as she looked at the floating girl, "is to open it up?"

        "Looks like it," Misato agreed softly.

To be continued...

Chapter 5

Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Five

        She didn't know exactly what it was, that woke her up from her deep sleep. Something had disturbed her, some unidentified sound, or maybe a familiar presence. Her eyes gradually opened up, first observing her surroundings, the tank full of liquid that she floated in, then looking outward to those who were gathered outside.

        A tall, blonde haired woman in a lab coat stood beside a shorter, boyish looking dark haired girl in gray military garb. Not too far away from them, a dark haired woman in a bright red jacket stood alone watching other two. Finally, a much younger woman looked over at the tank itself, standing out with her shocking mane of bright red hair. Her two eyes met the girl's one, and she saw the redhead's eye widen in surprise.

        "She's awake," the redhead blurted out.

        The blonde turned, looking first at the redhead then her before trailing of in surprise, "Asuka, she can't be..."

        'Asuka,' she thought, feeling some deep satisfaction rising within her, at being able to name the oddly familiar red haired girl at last.

        The dark haired older woman grabbed the blonde's arm and asked, "Ritsuko, will she be all right in there?"

        "She should be, Misato," Ritsuko looked at Rei thoughtfully, "it's the same LCL fluid we used in the entry plugs to protect the pilots."

        It was strange, hearing those three names spoken aloud. She recognized them all, somehow, even though she knew that she had never seen them before today. She looked over at the smaller girl, trying to place her as well. There was a name on the tip of her tongue, but it slipped out of her mental grasp like water.

        "Maya," Ritsuko turned to the shorter girl, "Go grab a uniform in her size."

        "Right, Sempai," and Maya bolted.

        "You aren't seriously considering letting her out of there," a frowning Misato said, sounding quite irritable.

        The girl in the tube was a little surprised to hear Asuka speak up for her angrily, "Well, we can't just leave her in there."

        "She's right," Ritsuko said, sounding quite gentle.

        She saw Misato looking at her, and she met the dark haired woman's gaze calmly. Misato was the first one to turn away, sighing, "I guess you're right."

        "Start pumping the fluid out," Ritsuko ordered the other scientists, "and then replace it with a standard oxygen blend."

        She felt a moment of panic, as her environment around her began to change, but she quelled it forcefully. She tasted the air, smelling the tang of medicine and ozone in it, the scent of a science lab at work. She breathed deep, and it strangely felt like home.

        In only a few moments she stood dry in the middle of the sealed tank. Ritsuko herself then stepped forward, grasping the catches set on the side of the tank. "Opening," she unsnapped them loudly one at a time, "now."

        The blue haired girl stepped carefully out of the tank into the outside world, taking a breath of the air out there. She took another step but stumbled, suddenly falling, when strong arms grasped her, preventing any injury.

        'Asuka,' she thought dazedly, looking up into the eye not covered by the black eye-patch.

        "Who are you?" Asuka asked her softly.

        She paused, and the name came to her much easier than any of the other ones had. "Rei," she murmured softly, "Rei Ayanami."

        Maya arrived a few moments later, carrying another NERV uniform. "Here you go," she handed the pile of clothes to her.

        "Thank you," Rei found herself saying softly before she began to pull the uniform on over her naked body. It felt a little strange, she noticed, because she was expecting it to be more skin-tight. 'Plug suit' she thought, unsure of what that name referred to.

        "Rei," Misato asked her quietly, "what do you remember?"

        Sitting on a bench Rei looked up to meet her dark eyes, knowing that the question was very important to the woman. "Nothing," she said softly. At Misato's confused look Rei quietly explained, "I know who you and the others are, I know that I'm in Tokyo-3, but I don't know how or why I know that. The knowledge is just... there."

        Misato nodded thoughtfully, "Thank you."

        "You're welcome," Rei responded to her automatically.

        Rei looked around, noticing that Ritsuko was leaning over a console, one that looked like it was tied into the medical monitoring devices. She and several other scientists were talking together quite excitably, but Rei could only hear fragments of their conversation: "the bio-scans read human norms..." "if she has any of ADAM's DNA, it's recessive.." "far less anemic than was previously recorded..." "certainly looks much more healthy.."

        A figure settled down beside her, and Rei turned to look at Asuka. The redhead looked at her thoughtfully, "You really don't remember anything?"

        Rei shook her head, "No."

        "Maybe that's a good thing," Asuka said to her softly, "I know that there are some things that I'd love to forget." She puffed out a sigh, "This time, maybe we can be friends."

        'This time?' Rei thought curiously.

        In an oddly old-fashioned looking gesture Asuka offered her hand to be shaken as she said, "My name is Asuka Langley."

        Rei shook it gently, "I know." A smile, "My name is Rei Ayanami."

        "I know," Asuka smiled slightly, a bit of humor in her eyes.

        A brown haired scientist bustled over to them, roughly grabbing at Rei's arm and saying, "We need to get a blood sample."

        Rei didn't even see Asuka move, she was up out of her seat that fast. She grabbed his wrist and squeezed it hard, making him release Rei's arm with a gasp of pain. Angrily she growled at him, "You could at least ask her politely."

        Rei put her hand gently on Asuka's, "It's all right, he's just doing his job." With obvious reluctance, Asuka let him go.

        "If so, he's doing it badly," Asuka glared.

        The man rubbed his sore wrist, keeping an careful eye on Asuka even as he asked Rei, "Could I please get a blood sample?" Rei simply pushed up her shirt sleeve, revealing the bare arm underneath. He got his sample, then all but fled.

        Rei wasn't quite sure what to say as she looked over at Asuka, so she smiled at her and simply said, "Thank you very much."

        Asuka's cheeks went a bit red, "You're welcome."

        Only a few moments later Asuka was called away, and Rei watched her go with a curious expression on her face. Asuka, Misato, and Ritsuko were talking over to the side, keeping their voices down so that they couldn't be overheard.

        Finally Misato separated from the others, walking over to Rei silently. "We were just talking about you," she smiled, "when I realized we should probably ask you, first."

        "Ask me about what?" Rei asked Misato quietly. She wasn't used to being asked things, given options for her to choose from.

        "I was wondering if you would like to stay in my apartment, along with me and Asuka?" Misato asked her simply.

        Rei hesitated, looking over to gaze at Asuka. The redhead smiled just slightly, and Rei looked back at Misato to say, "Yes, I'd like to."

To be continued...

Chapter 6

Evangelion Third Genesis: Interlude (Part 5.5)

        Asuka Langley strode down the hallway, ignoring the turmoil going on not far behind her. A muffled voice was bleating something about a lawsuit, and reassuring words were being spoken. Then there was the sound of heels on the polished floor.

        "Asuka," Ritsuko cried out, running to catch up with her, "what happened?"

        "I punched that stupid psychiatrist in the face, is what happened," Asuka growled out. The young woman's single eye glittered with rage as she continued, "I was in there to talk about what happened at the end, not to discuss my mother!"

        Ritsuko winced. "Obviously he took a look at your personnel file," she sighed. She ran a hand through her blonde hair, "I'll tell him to stick to the job, next time."

        "There won't be a next time," Asuka said simply, her red hair flowing around her shoulders.

        Ritsuko made a face as she reached out to Asuka, "You don't have to deal with everything alone, you know."

        "It works for me," Asuka answered calmly, She started off down the hallway, "I'm going to go check on Rei, if you don't mind."

        "All right," Ritsuko said softly, her expression sad.

        Asuka walked through the facility, her thoughts in turmoil. 'Why the hell did he have to bring that up?' she thought. 'Of course I know my mother's suicide effected me,' she strode through a door, 'what sort of fool does he take me for?'

        The medical wing had that odd scent of disinfectant and a hint of blood in the air, and she frowned at the memory. Asuka slowed down a bit, pausing to look into a room where Rei sat on a table, her expression only mildly curious. Beside her a woman with darker blue hair asked her questions, her expression gentle.

        Rei looked up, seeing Asuka standing there at the medical laboratory door, and she gave her a little smile and wave.

        Asuka nodded back, forcing a fleeting smile before she headed off down the hallway. There were chairs, one would assume for family or friends to wait, and she flopped down with a sigh. To say she was confused about Rei would be an understatement.

        Asuka hadn't really liked the original Rei very much. 'Scratch that,' Asuka could admit it to herself, even if she didn't tell anyone else, 'I hated her.' Rei had been the perfect doll, the hope of NERV and the focus of it's hopes and dreams. Looking out at the world through those emotionless eyes, she instantly rubbed Asuka wrong.

        'And then there's my mother,' Asuka thought, feeling that familiar surge of anger. Madness and suicide were her inheritances from her biological mother, while neglect and indifference were her gifts from her step-mother. 'Dolls,' she closed her eyes thinking of her mother, of her fascination with those emotionless things, 'always the dolls.'

        The first Rei Ayanami.. she had been far too much like those dolls for Asuka's comfort. So she poked and prodded at her, trying to spur any emotional reaction, even as she felt her contempt for the girl rising. 'Yeah, in the end,' Asuka thought, 'I hated her.'

        Asuka rubbed at her eyes, feeling a rush of weariness. 'But is this Rei the same?' she wondered. Clearly the body was different. A faint blush marked Asuka's cheeks, she had gotten a good look at that healthy form when they released her from the capsule. Darker hair, healthy, even the proportions were subtlety different.

        But it was the red eyes that really did it. They were so clearly alive as Rei looked all around her eagerly, soaking up the world surrounding her. Emotions flashed in them, happiness, sorrow, pain, grief, they seemed to shine out. Rei wasn't an empty, emotionless doll, the world touched her even as she touched it back.

        "So what do I do about it?" Asuka muttered to herself softly.

        "Do about what?" the unfamiliar woman's voice asked.

        Asuka's eyes shot open in startled surprise. Rei stood there, the lady doctor beside her, both looking down at her curiously. "Sorry," Asuka bounced to her feet, "I was just thinking aloud."

        "Dark thoughts, it seems," the dark blue haired woman noted. She extended her hand, "My name is Ami Mizuno."

        "Asuka Langley," she introduced herself, looking down at the shorter woman warily through her right eye.

        Ami looked at her thoughtfully a moment, then turned to Rei and asked, "Could I talk to Asuka alone for a moment?"

        "Of course," Rei agreed, and with a happy smile she walked over to gaze out a window at the city all around them.

        "What ..." Asuka started.

        "I've seen your personnel file, of course," Ami said conversationally, "it was part of my briefing before I came in here."

        Asuka blinked in surprise. Having it stated so bluntly made it difficult to get angry about the woman looking into her life that way. "And?" she asked her, knowing this was leading somewhere.

        "Just this," Ami fixed her with a gaze that was both compassionate and oddly stern as she said, "I spent years trying to be my mother, and even more trying to rebel against her. I wasted a lot of time doing it, time I could have spent doing other things."

        "I'm not my mothers," Asuka bit out, "my one mom committed suicide, the other one didn't give a damn about me."

        "So you've committed emotional suicide," Ami countered, "and don't care about anyone." The scientist paused, "Or that's what you'd like people to think."

        Asuka opened up her mouth, trying to make something, anything come out, but she couldn't quite manage it. She almost felt like she had been punched right in the gut, it was so startling.

        "I've got to bring this report to Commander Misato," Ami Mizuno held up a file of papers as she added, "think about it, please. Good luck." With that the woman dressed in the labcoat strode away, that aura of calm still around her.

        "Are you all right?' Rei asked softly, returning to stand at Asuka's side. Asuka turned to meet those eyes, seeing gentle concern in them.

        'She doesn't even know me yet,' Asuka thought wonderingly, 'and she still worries about me.' She cleared her throat nervously, "It's all right, she just startled me."

        Rei looked up at her, and it seemed that she wasn't convinced by that reassurance. "If you say so," she finally said tentatively.

        Asuka looked away, feeling uncomfortable. "You asked about the EVAs earlier. We have simulators here," she said quietly, "would you like to try them?"

        "Yes, please," Rei smiled, her eyes lighting up. Together they walked towards the elevators, then rose it down to the lover levels of NERV. The simulator was eerily familiar to them both, but Rei seemed comfortable donning the plugsuit and climbing inside.

        Asuka almost cringed, watching her. The memory of the mass production EVAs descending on her, her screams as her EVA Unit-02 was dismembered with her inside... Asuka shuddered, turning away from the view of Rei. Instead, her mind was turning to what Ami had said.

        'How much of what I did was defined by them?' Asuka wondered. How much of her fury had been fed by their shadow over her life. She looked back at Rei, the newly born young woman. 'Reborn,' she thought, 'free of the weight of the past. Can I do that?'

        Asuka reached out to lay a hand on the wall, letting her weight rest there. "I am not my mothers," she said to herself softly, "I don't have to be my mothers' daughter any more." Was it going to be that simple? Probably not.

        Looking back she saw Rei fighting on eagerly in the simulator, her eyes lit up with eagerness. Asuka felt herself smiling slightly. It wasn't going to be easy, letting go of the habit of hatred, letting go the rage that had driven her for so long. But she thought it might be worth it, as Rei looked up at her and smiled.

        Asuka activated the communication system and said, "I'm going up to see Misato, but I'll be back to get you later."

        Rei smiled as she simply said, "I'll be waiting."

        Asuka smiled back, feeling a tightness in her chest easing, an oddly comfortable feeling. "See you later," she said.

To be continued...

Chapter 7

Evangelion Third Genesis: Part Six

        Taking a good look all around Ritsuko pushed her blonde hair out of her face and said with a dramatic sigh, "Things really are a mess down here."

        "Yes, Sempai," Maya quietly agreed with her, the shorter brown haired woman having been following behind Ritsuko most of the day to take notes of their little tour of the engineering wing of the city of Tokyo-3.

        The two surviving EVAs were almost useless, putting it simply. The EVA-02 was still mostly just a pile of mis-matched wreckage, only partially reassembled from it's near dismembering by the mass production EVAs. EVA-00 was in better shape, but with the pilot's condition so... nebulous, it didn't really matter very much.

        Ritsuko shook her head irritably, "I just wish we had more members of the original repair teams available. Right now, we're having to train the new guys almost as much as they're doing the actual repair work."

        "Do you want me to get on the phone," Maya offered quietly, "see if I can talk more of the NERV techs into coming back to work?"

        "Do you think you can?" Ritsuko asked her gently.

        Maya thought about how bad and crazy things had gotten during the battle of NERV, and sighed softly. "Probably not," she admitted.

        Ritsuko put her hand firmly on Maya's shoulder as she said, "We'll just have to manage with what we've got available, then."

        Maya blushed brightly even as she squeaked out, "Yes, Sempai!"

        Ritsuko flipped her call open and dialed, "Misato? We'll have a full report for you by the end of the day, but It's a mess down here."

        In another part of the massive complex, Misato closed her phone with a weary sigh. Sitting at her desk she went back to reading a series of reports, developing an odd expression on her face. The black haired woman held up the sheets of paper, "You're telling me that Rei Ayanami tests out as being entirely human?"

        The civilian expert that NERV had called in for a second opinion nodded her head firmly, her own blue hair falling into her eyes, "That's exactly what I'm saying."

        "And the blue hair?" Misato asked wryly.

        The woman shrugged at her, "Personally, I was born with it too. If it helps any, that and a few other odd hair colors are prevalent only in Japan, though we're still trying to find out why that genetic variation exists here."

        "Because of Adam, maybe?" Misato asked.

        "I wouldn't want to speculate before we've acquired all the facts," she said to Misato just a little bit reproachfully.

        Misato dropped the reports down on the table before she stood up and shook the doctor's hand. "Well, thank you very much for your help, Professor Mizuno," she said with a smile. It wasn't the doctor's fault that she had stuck them with another problem..

        Ami Mizuno shook it firmly as she smiled back at the commander of NERV, "I hope I'll be able to continue to help you. I made sure to leave my office number with your staff, so please call me if anything else interesting comes up." With that, the woman in the expensive suit turned and walked away with a smooth stride.

        "Now what do I do," Misato sat back with a sigh. A few moments later there was a knock on the door and she called out, "Yes?"

        "It's me," Asuka said as she stepped inside, closing the door behind her. The redhead looked good in her NERV uniform, almost like a real military officer. "So what did Prof. Mizuno say?" she asked Misato curiously. She flopped down onto one of the long couches of the office, for a moment looking like a teenager again.

        The gaze from Asuka's right eye could be quite piercing, Misato found herself noting. Speaking aloud she said to the girl, "The results were about what we were expecting. It appears that this Rei is fully human."

        Asuka leaned toward Misato with a frown, "But why would Gendo create a human version of Rei? Didn't he need the alien part of Rei to try and control Adam?"

        "I wish I knew," Misato sighed. She smiled at Asuka grimly, "I've been working through Gendo's personal files to try to find out, but many of them are double or even triple encrypted. If Ritsuko wasn't so busy with the EVAs, I'd ask her to help me out."

        "So what do we do now?" Asuka asked curiously.

        "For now, we carry on as planned," Misato shrugged. "How ready are you to move back in with me?" she asked Asuka.

        "I'm all packed and ready to go," Asuka looked honestly relieved. She hesitated slightly before asking, "And Rei's stuff?"

        "The previous Rei didn't have much stuff," Misato said quietly, "and to be honest I'm not to sure if we should pass them on to our Rei." Asuka raised an eyebrow and she explained, "So far, she seems to be a mostly blank slate. This is a second chance for her, and I don't know if giving her things from the last Rei will help any."

        "What about clothes?" Asuka asked her, "I mean, all she's got to wear right now is that NERV uniform she was given yesterday."

        Misato looked over at Asuka thoughtfully to judge her size of clothing, "I guess your stuff wouldn't fit her too well."

        "Oh, no," Asuka quickly protested, "I am NOT sharing my clothes with her!"

        "The I guess we'll have to take her out and go shopping for clothes," Misato sighed softly. Under her breath she muttered, "I hate shopping."

        Asuka smirked, "At least it isn't going to be your money we'll be spending. We can charge everything for Rei to NERV."

        "Heh, that's true," Misato chuckled softly. She got up from behind her desk, making sure not to bump her stitches even as Asuka bounced to her feet. "So where is Rei, anyway?" Misato asked her as they left the office and strode down the hallway.

        "She wanted to try out the EVA simulator so I left her down there," Asuka said with a smile as they took the elevator downstairs.

        After a short walk down another hallway Misato opened up the door and blinked in surprise at the young woman looking wide-eyed at the readouts on the control panels in front of her. She was sort of cute with her long black hair, but the most distinctive feature that she had were the massive round glasses that she wore.

        "Ma'am!" Nako popped to her feet and saluted.

        "Hi, Nako," Asuka said with a casual wave as she walked over to look in at Rei sitting in the simulator cockpit.

        Rei's dark blue hair fell into her red eyes, which were visibly narrowed in concentration. A bit of red colored her cheeks, and she actually looked kind of... excited. Asuka wasn't too sure, but it actually looked like Rei was enjoying herself!

        Misato was watching Rei intently, her expression nearly unreadable. "How's she doing?" she asked Nako curiously.

        "Great!" Nako beamed, "She's actually matching some of Miss Asuka's best scores!"

        "Not bad," Asuka murmured with a smile.

        "Simulators are one thing," Misato mused, "actual combat is a very different story. What will happen when we put her in an actual EVA?"

        "We'll find out when it happens," Asuka said firmly. She gave Misato a look, "We're not going to put her in Unit-00 until she's ready, right?"

        Misato felt a bit of surprise at Asuka's concern for Rei, but she masked it well. "I won't put her in an EVA until I'm confident she can handle it," Misato agreed. She bent forward to say into the microphone, "Rei, we're ending the simulation in a moment."

        "Hai," Rei answered, executing a roll to blast the final simulated opponent.

        It took only a few moments to shut the simulator down and for Rei to exit the chamber. She looked pretty good in the plug-suit, the skin tight garb clinging to each and every curve. Asuka blushed faintly, looking down to avoid Rei's gaze.

        Misato smiled at Rei cheerfully, "How'd you like to go shopping?"

        "Shopping?" Rei blinked, looking at her quizzically.

To be continued...

Author's Note: Yes, that's Ami Mizuno of Sailor Moon fame. By 2017 or so, I figure that she'd be a professor and have a string of degrees, so why not... And Nako of Steel Angel Kurumi 2 is back from her appearance in episode two.

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