Chapter Fourteen

“Armageddon It”

 

            Asuka narrowed her eyes as she stared across the ruined landscape toward her opponent.  She dropped herself into a neutral stance with one hand forward and the other back toward her face for defense.  Her opponent matched her with a cocky smirk on his face.  “I’ll get you this time.”  She thought as her brows furrowed.

 

            A gust of wind blew across the battlefield causing a bit of debris to fall over.  With the sound of the crash, the two combatants launched themselves at one another. 

 

            The second child found herself on the defensive as her opponent opened with a rabid succession of one-two punches.  She cut back and forth at forty-five degree angles from the punches.  A leg swung out to knock her forward leg out from under her.  She lifted her leg to let the sweep go through with no effect and answered the attack with a kick to her opponent’s stomach with the tips of her toes.

 

            With his grunt she pressed her advantage.  She let loose with a barrage of punches and kicks.  Her opponent nimbly evaded them all taking much the same evasion tactic that she had used before.  When she thought she had him off balance, she swung out with a high kick at his head.  He dropped below the kick by rolling backwards.  Mid-roll, he put his hands to the ground and pushed upward with all his might.  He propelled himself straight up.  With a shift of his hips and turn of his legs, he landed upright atop what used to be a storage shed.

 

            Asuka snorted in derision as she leapt up to join him.  He jumped upwards and avoided her completely.  From then on, the battle took mostly to the air.  The two of them danced in an aerial ballet of skill, grace, and danger.  One would have the advantage at one moment, but, in the blink of an eye, the tables would be turned.

 

            From the sidelines Rei watched with what looked like nominal interest.  She followed their movements precisely, but no emotion played across her face.  She sat cross-legged on the ground wearing a white gi with a blue t-shirt underneath passively taking in the match.

 

            Meanwhile, Asuka was on the defensive again.  Punches and kicks were starting to come hard and fast.  She crossed her arms in front of herself to protect her face and upper body.  She dropped low to hook one of her opponents feet when he went for another kick.  He leapt up into the air to evade the counterattack.  She looked up to follow his movements.  To her shock and dismay, he had managed to jump right into the setting sun.  Before she totally lost vision, she saw her opponent’s silhouette against the sun, a poised figure with arms raised out like a crane and his feet tucked under his body with the forward knee pointed toward her and the other pointed to the side.  Two thoughts crossed her mind right then.  One was that he looked very powerful, graceful, and striking, all at that still moment.  The other thought was, “This is going to hurt.”

 

            He plunged down on his blinded opponent and planted his knee firmly between her breasts, driving her into the ground.  His arms shot down and trapped her arms as her breath rushed out of her.  He regarded her with his roguish, cocky grin.  “Give up?”

 

            “Not in your dreams, Shinji!”  Asuka took a deep breath and brought her legs up to grip his body from behind.  She hooked her feet together and tried to squeeze him with the leg lock as he held her upper body pinned.  A smile crossed her face as a grunt escaped his mouth.  “Break that!”

 

            Shinji smirked and dropped down to where his weight was placed on his left forearm, bearing across her shoulders above her chest.  With his right hand he reached behind and goosed her on the rump.

 

            A startled, “EEP!”  escaped Asuka’s lips and she lost her hold on him.  He calmly sat down on her stomach and wrapped up her arms around his right, and leaned down toward her.

 

            “Now do you give up?”  He smiled his self-satisfied grin again.

 

            “That’s no fair!”  She complained as she tried to twist her shoulders to get loose.

 

            “Hey, anything goes.”  He calmly smiled and held her prisoner.

 

            She snarled at that, but then an evil smirk crossed her face.  “Well, if THAT’S the way you want to play it…”  She hauled back on her arms with all of her might, pulling her upper body up toward him.  Their faces impacted together at the lips.

 

            Shinji expected something like this, but he didn’t expect the impromptu game of tonsil hockey.  You could imagine his disappointment when one minute his mouth was full of Asuka’s tongue, and the next it was full of dirt.  This wasn’t so bad, but Asuka sitting astride his back with one of his arms pulled up behind his back in a painful lock was.

 

            “Anything Goes Final Attack!  The Kiss of Defeat!”  Asuka gloated with a smug smile on her face.  “Or maybe I should call it, ‘Kiss Your Ass Goodbye’?  What do you think Shinji?”

 

 

            Shinji tried to pull his arm free, but only got pain for his efforts.  “Okay!  You win!”

 

            Asuka continued to smile as let go of his arm.  She gracefully rolled back into a relaxed stand.  “Told you I would beat you eventually.”  She smiled confidently.

 

            Shinji arched his back up, pulling himself into a ball, and rolled forward until he planted his feet and came up to a standing position that reflected Asuka’s.  “It only took a dirty trick and six months after Ranma left.”

 

            She stuck her tongue out at him.  “Anything Goes, buster!”

 

            He shook his head a little bit and then looked around.  “Where’s Toji?  He’s supposed to be out here with us practicing.”

 

            Asuka gave a non-committal shrug.  “Last I saw him he was still on the phone with Hikari.”

 

            “He’s supposed to be out here sparring with Rei!”  Shinji threw his hands up and walked over and sat down against a ruined wall of what used to be a house.  “Why is he always on the phone with her?”

 

            Asuka went over to their cooler and pulled out a drink for him and her.  She tossed one at his chest, and went and sat down beside him.  “Duh!  He misses her, you insensitive jerk!”  She opened her drink and took a large swig.  “You’d call me if I had left wouldn’t you?”

 

            Shinji opened his and took a drink.  “Why would I do that?”

 

            “Jerk!”  Asuka elbowed him in the side.

 

            He smiled as he coughed a little bit.  He took his eyes away from Asuka long enough to look at Rei.  “Rei, since Toji’s not here, why don’t you just practice some katas?  Asuka and I will tell you what you need to work on.”  The pale, blue haired girl nodded, stood up, and started going through the basic katas.

 

            Shinji thought as Rei began her katas.  They’d had to start practically from scratch with her since the detonation of Unit 00.  The last time that her memories had been backed up was back when he had visited his mother’s gravesite.  She didn’t remember anything of what had happened since, and her feelings for him were somewhat dimmed.  He felt sorry for her, but it was better this way.  He and Asuka could be together and Rei wouldn’t be hurt.

 

            He and Asuka both started telling Rei where she still needed to work, move a foot here, square a shoulder there, but as they talked Shinji’s mind still wondered.  A lot had happened quickly after Unit 00 had blown up.  Many homes were destroyed and most of the citizens of Tokyo-3 had left rather than rebuild.  Tokyo-3 seemed like a lifeless shell of its former glory with the non-retractable buildings laying about in ruins and most of its citizens gone.  Because of the last battle, Hikari had left with her family for Tokyo-1.  Misato asked them to take care of Pen-pen until she could come back for him.

 

            Misato.  She would be due any time now with her first child.  She kept on calling it her ‘first child’ because she fully intended on having as many as possible with Ranma, whenever he returned.  They hadn’t heard anything from Ranma since he left after the battle.  He hadn’t had the time to say goodbye to them, but they had all found personal farewell and I’ll be back messages under their pillows. 

 

Things had been pretty slow since Ranma had left.  Everyone had been chomping at the bit waiting for the final angel to arrive, but so far nothing had happened.  There had been several reports of Marduk Foundation organizations being shut down and executives arrested for crimes against humanity, but nothing had happened to their main organization in Tokyo-3, NERV.  There had even been rumors that Seele had stopped contacting NERV headquarters.  Everyone in the upper command echelons took that as a sign of a coming invasion, but Shinji, Asuka, and Misato all knew that it had to have been Ranma’s doing.

 

Asuka looked at Shinji as he got lost in his thoughts.  She knew that he had been greatly wounded emotionally by the last angel he had faced.  She also knew that he had suffered it all for her.  She had watched him spring back well from his time in a coma, but she still thought that maybe those doubts and insecurities about being able to protect them all were still there.  She reached out and took his hand.  Shinji turned his head toward her and gave her a reassuring grin.  He squeezed her hand in affection as he turned back to give Rei some more help with her martial arts.

 

In between making comments to Rei, Asuka spoke to Shinji.  “Are you okay?”

 

He turned briefly to her.  “What do you mean?”

 

“I mean,”  She thought briefly about how to word her concerns.  “I mean, do you think you’ll be ready to take on the last angel?”

 

His features hardened a bit.  “It’s not a matter of being ready.  I HAVE to do it.  Otherwise everyone will be killed.” Asuka fake-coughed into her free hand.  Shinji’s expression faltered a bit, and then went back to stoic.  “Okay, WE’VE got to do it.”

 

“That’s better.”  Asuka had a self-satisfied look on her face as she went back to watching Rei.

 

“Do you mind if I practice with you?”

 

Everyone turned to look at the new arrival.  He was a boy around their age with red eyes and a mop of gray hair.  He was wearing a gray gi with matching pants standing in a relaxed position.

 

Asuka stood up and turned to him, assuming a relaxed stance herself.  She was startled that she hadn’t felt him approach.  “Who are you supposed to be?”

 

He gave her a friendly smile and announced, “I’m Nagisa Kaworu.  I’m the new pilot, the fifth child.”

 

            Sensing Asuka’s apprehension, Shinji stood up beside her.  “Why do we need another pilot?  We’ve already got four pilots for barely four EVA.”

 

            He shrugged in a non-committed fashion.  “I don’t know.  Supposedly, one of the pilots was out of action, so another pilot was sent.”

 

            Shinji’s eyes narrowed in suspicion.  “Were you sent here to replace me?”

 

            The other boy looked at him like he had grown another head.  “No.  There was supposed to be another, but that’s all irrelevant at this moment.  I would still enjoy having a sparring match.”

 

            Shinji started to step forward, but Asuka held him back.  “Go ahead and spar with Rei.  If you’re not too tired after that, then one of us will spar with you.”  She turned and smirked to Shinji as she spoke aside to him.  “Don’t worry; I won’t use my secret techniques on him.  Those are only for you.”

 

            The third child blushed slightly at the husky tone she had just whispered to him in.  “Go ahead and take on Rei.  I’m next though.”  He ignored the miffed look that Asuka shot him.

 

            Kaworu walked out into the open space where Asuka and Shinji had been sparring before and where Rei had just been practicing.  He stood in a relaxed stance with his hands to his side as Rei dropped into a guarded stance with her hands up to guard her body.  They stood there for about thirty seconds without moving.  Rei, deciding that he wasn’t going to make the first move, launched an attack with a high faint with her hands and a low kick.  Kaworu jumped slightly to avoid the kick.  It looked like all he did was raise his legs off the ground as Rei’s foot passed underneath without moving the position of his torso.  Rei followed up with a stomp kick to his chest followed by a right-cross.  His body just seemed to flow around her blows and he finished face to face with her, well within her comfort zone.  His red eyes met hers as he spoke softly.  “We are the same, you and I.”

 

            She leapt back from him with her eyes wide.  “How are we the same?”  She thought.  She shook it off and went in for another combination attack.  Again, Kaworu lithely dodged all of the blows.  Finally, in the middle of one of Rei’s kicks, Kaworu stepped aside and hooked his foot around her grounded foot and pulled away from her body, dropping her to the ground.  He finished by trapping the leg between his, twisting, and sitting down, pinning her leg painfully underneath him.

 

            Kaworu smiled as Rei tried to struggle free.  “Do you yield?”

 

            Shinji and Asuka glared at him as he continued to apply pressure to her leg.  At last Rei tapped out and he released her.  He stood up and faced the onlookers.  “Are you ready, Ikari Shinji?”

 

            The third child’s jaw almost dropped.  “How do you know my name?”

 

            Kaworu smiled at the boy.  “Everyone knows about you, the great Ikari Shinji, the third child.”

 

            “Where have I heard that before?”  Shinji thought absently.

 

            Asuka stomped her foot down.  “Well, does everyone know about the great Soryu Asuka Langley?”

 

            Kaworu looked over at her with a confused face.  “Never heard of her.”

 

            She crossed her arms and glared at the new boy.  “She just happens to be the best evangelion pilot in the world!  So what do you say about that!”

 

            He smiled at her with a smug grin.  “I would say that she has an over inflated ego and is prone to delusions of grandeur.”

 

            You could almost see the steam coming out of her ears as her face started turning red in anger.  “All right, buddy!  You, me, right now!”  She clenched her fists and strode out toward him.

 

            Kaworu smirked as she stepped forward.  “Ah, but Shinji has already challenged me.  I am obligated to spar with him first.” 

 

Shinji stepped forward and held Asuka back with one arm.  “You want me.  You got me.”  He walked over to where he and Rei were previously sparring and then dropped into a ready stance.  Kaworu strode confidently over to face him and dropped into a similar stance.

 

The gray-haired boy smiled a warm grin.  “Winner takes all, Shinji.”

 

The third child had a confused look on his face.  “Hey, this is just sparring.  Who said anything about something up for grabs?”

 

“Even sparring matches have a way of meaning something.”  Kaworu started to pace around Shinji.  The third child turned to match his every step.  “Now, let’s see how strong you are.”

 

Kaworu led off with a high punch that Shinji ducked under and jabbed at the other boy’s open ribs.  Shinji then bought his foot up for a stomp kick, but the bottom of the fifth child’s foot met his shin half way.  He tried a quick jab-cross combo, but Kaworu easily evaded all the blows, answering with sharp jabs into each of Shinji’s wrists.  The third child’s hands recoiled in pain.  Kaworu saw the opening and went in for a quick three-punch combination of his own.  Shinji, seeing the oncoming onslaught of fists, leapt up and over his opponent and kicked him in the back upon landing, sending the fifth child flying forward.  The boy turned his forward momentum into a roll and came back up facing Shinji in a guarded stance.

 

Kaworu bent his spine back and forth to work out some of the kinks caused by Shinji’s blow.  “Indeed you have grown strong.  I would not have thought that one among the lillum would be able to offer me a challenge.  You are indeed special Ikari Shinji.”

 

Shinji clenched his fists, causing his wrists to pop back into place.  “You’re not too bad, Kaworu.  What’s say we take it up a notch?”

 

“Let’s.”  The fifth child agreed.

 

At that the pair leapt at one another.  In mid-air, they met and traded several punches and kicks, seeming to hang suspended in mid-air.  They landed to each other’s back and turned to face one another again.  With the next leap, Shinji went more up than out, bringing him to a higher altitude than the other boy.  He lead with his leg outstretched, expecting to pin Kaworu to the ground.  The gray-haired boy managed to grab his foot, spin in mid-air, and reverse the move that Shinji was trying.  His foot came down hard on Shinji’s chest, causing him to loose his breath.  The third child kicked his leg up in a desperation move and caught Kaworu in the small of the back with the point of his toes, sending the other boy tumbling forward.  Shinji quickly leapt to his feet, and jumped away from the other combatant.

 

Shinji pointed his forward hand at his opponent’s eyes, closing his openings, as he tried to catch his breath.  “What’s going on?  How could he do that?  He shouldn’t have had any type of leverage to do that!”  His thoughts all ran along these lines as he prepared for another bout.

 

From the sidelines, Asuka could only look on in awe at the two fighters.  She knew that Shinji had pulled out a few stops, but this new kid managed to meet him, blow for blow, and he did it all with impressive speed.  She started to believe that it was better that Shinji challenged him first.  She knew that Shinji always held back with her since they had brought their feelings for each other out into the open, that’s how she could beat him with a little help from her personal stash of forbidden techniques.  As she watched them start to fight again, she knew that Shinji would have to go all out if he wanted to win this match.

 

The two combatants mesmerized Rei as they began their deadly dance once more.  She watched them start to move faster than she had seen Shinji go before.  Yet, he was still keeping up with the gray-haired enigma.  “How are we the same?”  She thought once again.

 

Shinji found himself at a loss.  He stepped up his speed and power, and Kaworu met him pound for pound.  The third child was starting to push his non-chi enhanced strength, and the other boy wasn’t even breaking a sweat.  It was like he was able to match his power exactly.  He shook off these thoughts as another hail of fists and feet rained on him.  He kept his hands close to his face as he juked and dodged out of the way.  He launched a counter-attack striking the outstretched limbs of his opponent.

 

Once more the pair sprang away from each other to catch their breaths.  At least Shinji need to get his wind back.  Kaworu still looked like he did when he started.  The third child narrowed his eyes and decided it was time to go to the next level.  He began to concentrate and bring his aura to bear.  The luminescent blue barrier surrounded him as he felt his chi empowering his muscles.  For once, Kaworu didn’t match him. 

 

The gray-haired boy looked back at him and smiled a knowing grin.  “It’s so much more refreshing settling this without the use of the crude machines life forms.  It’s a testament to the lillum culture that we can face each other as equals now.”

 

Shinji narrowed his eyes at the second reference to ‘lillum’.  He didn’t know what it meant, but he was sure that something wasn’t quite right with his opponent.  “Enough talk!”  Aura blazing, he bounced back into action.

 

The martial game of tag seemed to take a more serious turn with this exchange of blows.  Shinji’s face was frozen in a stern look of concentration as he used his chi make him move faster.  Kaworu still managed to match his speed, but still had that knowing smirk on his face. 

 

The third child threw a left and a right, the fifth dodged right and left.  He swept low with a kick and then came back with a high.  Kaworu’s feet left the ground but his body didn’t move.  He managed to easily duck the high kick and begin a rush of his own.  He repeated Shinji’s attack, but at greater speed.  He managed to dodge most of the blows but the last kick caught him in the jaw, sending him flying back.

 

“SHINJI!”  Asuka yelled. She started to get up, but Rei’s arm restrained her.

 

“Don’t go.  He’s more than what he seems.”  The blue haired girl continued to watch the fight with an emotionless mask.

 

“What’s going on?”  Asuka sat back down with a scowl on her face.

 

Rei shook her head.  “I don’t know, but something is not right with that boy.”

 

Shinji stood back up and rubbed his jaw.  “That hurt!”  was the only thing going through his mind.  “This is getting serious.”  He dropped back into his stance and renewed his assault.

 

With the same ease and grace he had displayed for most of the fight, Kaworu once again easily evaded the attacks.  He seemed to weave seamlessly and smoothly through all of the strikes that Shinji brought against him.  Shinji remembered Kaworu’s earlier battle with Rei and realized that he was being toyed with.

 

After another heated exchange, Shinji had decided to pull out all the stops.  He leapt backwards and landed atop a ruined wall of a department store.  He cupped his hands out in front of himself and called upon all of his confidence.  “Moko Takabisha!”

 

Kaworu stood still and smiled as the chi blast propelled itself toward him. 

 

Shinji’s eyes widened.  “Get out of the way!”

 

The gray-haired boy just smiled as the blast exploded in front of him, revealing an invisible barrier of rough concentric circles.

 

“He has an AT Field!”  Asuka shouted.

 

“He’s an angel!”  Shinji shouted back.

 

 

Inside of NERV headquarters, a door was opening for the first time this week, permitting the first bit of light to shine into the dark interior.  The fluorescent light from the hallway illuminated the maple leaf NERV symbol that decorated the wall.  Below the insignia was a blonde woman sitting on the lone bench in the room.  The only features in the room were the bench that doubled as a bed and a toilet with no enclosure to hide anyone using it.  The blonde sat with her eyes to the floor wearing a dirty white lab coat that had seen better days.  Her head turned slightly, enough to see the feet of the person who had walked through the door.  The feminine slippers tipped her off to the obvious conclusion.  “Hello, Misato.”

 

            Casting a long shadow into the room, Misato stood with one hand on the doorjamb supporting her weight and the other around her swollen stomach.  She was wearing a red sundress that was tailored for a woman in her condition.  “How are you holding up, Ritsuko?”

 

            The doctor looked up at her with a wan smile on her lips.  “Still alive…for the moment.  How’s the pregnancy?”

 

            Misato smiled as she caressed her unborn child.  “Definitely Ranma’s child with the way they’ve been kicking.”

 

            “They?”  Ritsuko raised an eyebrow.  “Are you going to have twins now?”

 

            “No!  No! No!”  The major waved her hands in warding gestures.  “I just didn’t want to call it a boy if it’s a girl and vise versa.”

 

            The blonde chuckled lightly.  “I know.  I’m just giving you a hard time.  I still don’t understand why you don’t want to know what it is.  They do have sonograms for that you know.”

 

            “I just don’t want to know without Ranma, that’s all.  I want us both to find out at the same time.  Do you mind if I share your bench?”  The major motioned toward the seat.

 

            “Be my guest.”  Ritsuko moved over and extended a hand toward the empty space.  “You know you’ll probably find out before him anyway.  We haven’t heard anything from him in the past six months.  When are you due anyway?”

 

            Misato heaved a long sigh as she sat down.  “Any day now.”

 

            “And you’re bound and determined to have it naturally.”  Ritsuko shook her head.  “I don’t know why anyone would do that willingly when there is such a thing as a cesarean -section.”

 

            “Just the joys of parenthood.”  The major gave the doctor a lopsided grin, which she rolled her eyes at.  Misato’s expression turned serious.  “So have you heard any of the new information?”

 

            Ritsuko gave her a sardonic stare.  “I live in a ten by ten cell with no lights with the only thing keeping me alive is Gendou’s thinking that he may need me again in the future.  Do you THINK I would hear anything?  I usually don’t hear anything except my toilet flush when I use it!”

 

            Misato her palms up to the other woman in a placating gesture.  “Sorry!  I just didn’t want to tell you something you already knew!”  She went back to serious again.  “Anyway, everyone is worried about the lag between the last angel and this one.  According the Marduk reports on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the last one should have arrived by now.”

 

            The blonde stood up and started to pace the floor.  “Something must have delayed the beast.”

 

            “Or someone.”  Misato added with a smirk.

 

Ritsuko raised an eyebrow at the comment.  “You don’t really think that Ranma could stop an angel?”

 

“Well, try this on for size.”  Misato sat straight up on the end of the bench.  “What if Seele were the ones sending the angels the whole time?  You already told us the EVA were created by man, what if the angels were as well?  What if they are just agents of the committee?”

 

Risuko stroked her chin as she contemplated what Misato was saying.  “That would make a bit of sense.”

 

“Just look at the facts.”  Misato began to tick off points on her fingers.  “First, Evangelions are the only things that can stop them.  It’s a pretty convenient way to get funding if you think about it.  Make an unstoppable enemy, and supply the only means of their destruction.  Two, they sabotage the competition.  You helped them out on Jet Alone, so I don’t think I need to elaborate on that.  Three, we get our power shutoff as another angel attacks.  Then later we download an angel, and then they send us an angel inside of an EVA unit!”

 

            Ritsuko thought for a moment.  “You could have a point there.  But why go to all the trouble of having these huge charades and costly battles?  Why not just strike consecutively and created third impact?”

 

            “I don’t know.”  Misato leaned back against the wall.  “Maybe they’re trying to fulfill the prophecy of the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

 

            “But how could they know that we would succeed?”  Ritsuko asked.  “I don’t buy it, something else is going on.”

 

            The major sighed.  “At least we’ll be ready this time.  Toji and Rei have been playing catch up to Asuka and Shinji, whom have been hard training themselves as well.  Units 01 through 04 have all been repaired.  Unit 00 has been rebuilt out of all the spare parts from the other Evangelions and the new parts that were sent to us after the destruction of Unit 05 and the NERV second branch.  It looks like a walking Frankenstien’s monster, but it activated.”

 

            “What did they use for a core?”  Ritsuko asked with a confused look on her face.

 

            “They used the dummy plug from Unit 01.  It would never activate anyway, so the commander decided to put it to good use.”  Misato explained.

 

            “His use you mean.”  Ritsuko began to pace again.  “Sometimes I just think the angels are the trials of humanity.  Seele may be aiding them, but I don’t think they are behind them.”

 

            “Maybe Chairman Keel is an angel.”  Misato shook her head.  “Anyway, that leads me to the next bit of news.  The Marduk foundation is being slowly dismantled.  Each one of the committee members have been placed under arrest except for Keel.  Word is he went underground with Seele’s remaining resources.”

 

            “Time is growing short.”  Ritsuko murmured as she sat back down beside her friend.

 

            “One more bit of news.  We’re supposed to receive the fifth child today.”  Misato added as an afterthought.

 

            Ritsuko’s eyes went wide.  “You IDIOT!  That’s the seventeenth angel!”

 

            Misato’s eyes went wide a moment before she bolted out the door.  Ritsuko rubbed her temples as the darkness surrounded her again.  “First they send us an EVA with an angel inside, and now they’re sending a pilot.”

 

 

 

            Back at the battlefield, things were not going well for humanity.  Asuka and Shinji were both bent over with their hands on their knees trying to recover their breaths.  Rei stood aside watching the whole match, waiting for a chance for her to strike with her lesser hand-to-hand skills.

 

            Kaworu stood a few feet away looking as fresh as he started.  “It has been fun playing with lower forms of life like you, but I really must be going.  Adam awaits me inside of terminal dogma.”  He held up his hands and a large ball of energy formed.  “This is an interesting way of using your life energy, very similar to the way my brothers and sisters have used theirs.  I must thank you for showing it to me.”  The ball grew bigger as he powered up his own Moko Takabisha.

 

            With a flick of his hand, the ball of chi began its flight toward its breathless victims.  Asuka and Shinji could only stare as the ball came closer.  At the last instant, Rei leapt in front of them.  The blast exploded several feet in front of its intended targets, revealing another AT Field.

 

            Kaworu smirked as Asuka and Shinji gaped at Rei.  “I told you we were alike.  Both crossbred with angels to produce a powerful, but controllable doll.”

 

            “I am more than a doll.”  She swore in a low voice.

 

            “As you say.”  He held up his hand and prepared another blast.  “But I regret that this one will go through your AT Field.  Goodbye Evangelion pilots.  I’m sure in another life we could have been great friends.”

 

            “SPANG!”

 

            The energy dispersed as the angel’s eyes rolled up into his head.  He fell forward to reveal Toji hefting an enormous spatula.  “Hey, did I miss anything?”

 

            Asuka’s eyebrow went up in disbelief.  “We were saved by Toji?  Now I know the world is coming to an end.”  This earned her a baleful look from the fourth child.

 

            “Where’d that huge spatula come from?”  Shinji asked in curiosity.

 

            Toji absently twirled it around in his hand.  “Mom left it to me before she and dad left town with everyone else.  She said it was a part of her family’s martial arts.”

 

            “What kind of art uses a giant spatula?”  Asuka asked in a sarcastic tone.

 

            The boy shrugged.  “Don’t know.  She just told me to carry this around and hit people with it and call them a jackass.”  He turned his head toward the fallen angel.  “Jackass.”

 

             Shinji went over and pat his friend on the back.  “Well, I guess it’s a good thing you showed up.”

 

            Toji looked down at the fallen angel.  “So do we have to kill him or something?”

 

            “I don’t know.”  Shinji gave the angel a second glance.  “It seems kind of cold blooded when he looks just like us, like we’re killing a real person.”

 

            “Uh, guys?”  Asuka threw out her hands in an exasperated gesture.  “This is still an angel!  We have to kill it, or it will trigger third impact.  Everything may not be peachy in this life, but I still don’t want it to end!  If we don’t kill him now he could kill us.”

 

            “Quite right.”

 

            All the pilot’s eyes widened as they turned to the origin of the voice.  The instant their eyes fell on Kaworu, his aura exploded outward sending them all flying.  They all managed to roll over to their back, but they were all in one place, in front of the angel with the now blazing aura/AT Field.

 

            The angel slowly paced forward as lifted his arm for another blast.  The children looked over and saw Rei had been knocked out from his awakening.  They knew that no one would be there to save them this time.

 

            “You could have just stepped aside, and I wouldn’t have been forced to kill you, but you’ve left me with no choice.  I would have loved to have gotten better acquainted with you all and learn more about the lillum culture, but, alas, it was not to be.”  He lifted his had with the burning sphere of chi energy.  “Now you shall taste of the life force, your AT Field.”

 

            The ball leapt from his hand and traveled the distance between him and the pilots.  Just when it looked like it was going to be the End of Evangelion (A.N.: sorry, had to make that joke), a peal of thunder was heard and the energy sucked into itself.

 

            “How about that?  A just my size angel.”

 

            Everyone turned to see a sight that filled their hearts with hope.  Atop one of the ruined buildings, wearing a black and red NERV uniform was none other than Saotome Ranma.  His hair had grown longer and he had it pulled back in a short ponytail held back with a small rubber band.

 

            Ranma smiled one of his annoyingly cocky grins at the abomination.  “How about you and I talk?”  He cracked his knuckles for emphasis.

 

            “The chaos bringer!”  Kaworu shouted.  “You are the one who keeps disturbing the natural order!”

 

            “Come again?”  The martial artist asked with cocked eyebrow.

 

            The angel’s features settled into a pool of rage.  “You are the one who killed Saffron!  You destroyed one of our harbingers!  He was to lead the way and protect Adam until he was full grown.  We had to trick the lillum into believing they had created him!  Now you’ve destroyed our plans that were laid out so long ago in the Dead Sea scrolls!  There was only supposed to be one pilot here!  You have brought forth this chaos.  You are the cause to our suffering!”

 

            Ranma gave the angel a level glance.  “If you say, ‘Saotome Ranma, prepare to die’, I’ll scream.”

 

            “I’d think your death was a forgone conclusion, don’t you?”  Kaworu quickly fired another chi blast at the older martial artist, which he easily avoided with a high leap into the air.

 

            As he flew through the air, he shouted at the kids, “Get out of here.  I’ll deal with this one!”  The kids quickly nodded their heads and turned to leave the area, Shinji stopping to scoop up the unconscious Rei.

 

            Ranma continued to dodge the angel’s attacks until he was sure that the pilots were safe.  Finally, he landed in an offensive stance.  “It’s time to end this, angel!”

 

            Kaworu rolled his eyes as he matched the martial artist’s stance.  “If you must address me, you can call me by my given name, Tabris.”

 

            “Just as long as you don’t call yourself Blue Thunder, we can still be friends.”  Ranma again had that annoying smirk on his face.

 

            With a loud shout, Tabris sprang forward.  Ranma dodged to the side and planted a knee into the angel’s chest.  He came back around to follow with his elbow, but the monster jumped away. 

 

            Tabris slowly rubbed the area where Ranma had struck.  “I actually felt that.”

 

            “Good.”  Ranma continued to smile as he crouched back down into an offensive stance.  “You’re going to feel the next one as well.”

 

            Once again, the angel matched his stance.  “And what one would that be?”

 

            “Oh nothing really, just a secret technique that left the last emperor of the Tso dynasty quaking in his booties.”  Ranma leapt into the air and descended on the angel.  “Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken!”

 

            At the last instant before impact, Tabris’ AT Field came to life.  Undaunted, Ranma continued to rain down chi-enhanced punches until his hands started to turn red with seeping energy.

 

            The angel began to smirk in triumph.  Well, he did until his AT Field started to dent inward with each punch.  Suddenly, one of the punches came through and struck him!  What followed shortly thereafter was a cascade of high speed strikes that pummeled him into the ground.

 

            “GET BACK!!!”  Tabris shouted as his aura blazed outward, sending the martial artist flying.

 

            Ranma easily turned over in the air and planted his feet on the side of a building.  On impact, his legs compressed and sprang outward, shooting him back into the fray even faster than he had left.  Unfortunately, Tabris had had enough time to reconstruct his AT Field, so the martial artist’s extended leg met with the barrier.  Flipping backward, he landed back on his feet.

 

            “You are indeed powerful.”  The angel looked over the man with an appraising eye.  “And you defeated Saffron when you were much younger, powerful indeed.  But you still have to deal with my life force.”

 

            “Saw this one the first time I met one of your kind.”  Ranma strode up to the barrier, put his hands together, and shoved them through the field, forcing his aura into the hole he had made.  Tabris could only stare in shock as the martial artist ripped his field apart like a cloth curtain.  After walking through, Ranma raised his hand up in the air with his fingers pointed toward the angel.  “Now for the finish.”

 

            With a final kiai, his hand shot forward and embedded into the angel’s chest.  Ranma slowly drew his hand back with a wet slosh.  His hand was dripping with blood as he watched the angel stagger backwards.  His eyes softened as he watched the life blood drain from the human-like angel.  “I’m sorry.  I had no choice.”

 

            Tabris gave him one last look and choked out, “You are correct.  <cough>  But I believe the lillum will make it through their trials if there is someone here <cough> as strong as you.”  With that, he wheezed and fell over dead.

 

            Ranma looked down at his bloody hand with a regretful look.  “Will we have what it takes to survive?”  He thought to himself.  “YES!”  He said aloud as he clenched his fist and started walking toward NERV headquarters.

 

 

 

            At that moment, just as the kids were coming into headquarters, they ran into a frantic pregnant woman on her way out.  Luckily it was only figuratively.  “Where’s Ranma?”  Misato demanded.

 

            Shinji poked a thumb over his shoulder.  “He’s back there fighting an angel.  We have to get to our EVAs to help him.”

 

            She smiled down at him.  “That won’t be necessary.”

 

            The children gaped at her.  “Why not?”  Toji asked.

 

            The Major had a proud look on her face.  “Because Ranma has already destroyed it.  I was on my way out to go see him when I ran into you guys.”  She looked around the area.  “Now where’s that good for nothin’…”

 

            “You might check over your right shoulder.”  A voice came from behind her.

 

            Her eyes lit up and her expression brightened to the point where it almost matched the sun.  She spun around and threw her arms around him.  She had to lean into him to hug him around her stomach.  She pulled him in for a passionate kiss.

 

            After a few hours (well it seemed like that to the kids), the two adults separated.  Ranma smiled at his wife.  “You’ve gained weight.”

 

            She would have slapped him if he weren’t holding her wrists.  “It’s all your fault y’know.  You did this to me!  I think you’ve gotten older!”

 

            He chuckled a bit.  “Having such a high strung wife did it to me.”

 

            “Baka.”  She hugged him close and nuzzled her nose into his neck.

 

            Asuka smiled as extended her hand toward Shinji, hoping that he would hold his hand like a good romantic.  Unfortunately Shinji didn’t take the bait so she had to wrench his hand away from his side.  She smiled sweetly at his startled glance.

 

            The (somewhat) romantic moment was broken by the sound of several rounds being chambered in automatic rifles.  The group turned to see Gendou standing among several NERV security forces.  He had a satisfied look on his face.  “I knew that you would return Saotome.  I knew that if I was patient I would see you behind bars.”

 

            “No!”  Misato shouted as she tried to place herself between Ranma and the other men.  Ranma pushed her back with his hand and flashed her his cocky grin.

 

            “Trust me.”  He said to her aside.  Then, to the Gendou, he gave them the same smile with a malicious twist.  “You wouldn’t want to do that Gendou.  It would only add to your sentence.”  He turned to consider the guards, all of which he had trained.  “And do you guys want to lose your career as well as your dignity by challenging me?”

 

            Everyone gave him a blank stare.  Gendou finally stepped forward.  “You’ll have to forgive me my ignorance, but what the hell are you talking about?  You’re the one about to be arrested for endangering the further existence of human life.”

 

            Ranma reached to the small of his back under his uniform and produced a black package.  He held it up to where everyone could see the United Nations insignia on the front in white.  “Most of the other Seele or Marduk operations and members have already been put under arrest.  There’s also speculation that the whole angel crises was a fabrication by the organization.”

 

            “That’s a lie!”  The commander shouted.  “We did what we had to!  The world would have been destroyed if we hadn’t formed NERV!”

 

            The martial artist stepped forward, undaunted.  “But you still planned on destroying the world.  You just wanted to make it in your own image.  The UN knows that the NERV first branch is the only thing that can stop the angels, so that’s why I’m here.”

 

            Gendou eyed him speculatively.  “Why did they send you here?”

 

            “Oh, only to take command of the NERV first branch and ensure the elimination of the angels and the dismantling of all other operations, including the EVA series.”  Ranma commented nonchalantly.  “I’m taking over by order of the United Nations, duly approved agency of authority by the Japanese government.”

 

            “I won’t let you kill her!”  Gendou shouted.

 

            “Subdue him.”  Ranma ordered.

 

            The guard standing behind Gendou hit him in the back of the head with the butt of his rifle, knocking the former commander unconscious.  The guard looked up and saluted the martial artist.  “Welcome back, sir.”

 

            Ranma nodded and smiled at Misato.  “It pays to get to know your students.”

 

            “It also pays to beat the living snot out of them too.”  She commented back.

 

            “That too.”  His smile broadened.

 

            Asuka stepped forward.  “So does that mean it’s over?  Everything?  That was the last angel, right?  And the bad guy’s behind bars, so it’s happy ending we all go home?”

 

            Ranma gave her a despairing look.  “I’m afraid not.”

 

            “But you said everybody was already taken care of!”  The second child was tensing up.

 

            “I said, ‘most’.”  Ranma had a regretful look.  “We still have one more battle to face.”

 

            “Who?”  Shinji asked tentatively.

 

            “Seele.”  Ranma let the word hang in the air for a little while before explaining.  “Lorenz got away.  He has nine completed Evangelions powered by the dummy plugs we shipped him along with an army of JSSDF troops.  From the preparations I’ve seen, he’ll be here in three days.  We’ve got to stop him before he triggers third impact.”

 

            Misato gave him an exasperated glare.  “You said you were backed by the UN!  Why does he have JSSDF troops?”

 

            Ranma chuckled nervously.  “He was faster than I was.  He got to the Japanese government before I did with my UN sanction.  He took the troops and sequestered them elsewhere before I came through.  The government couldn’t get a hold of their troops so they sent me on to come here.  I searched for a while and I found them…yesterday.  We’ve got to get the remaining non-combatants out of the city before they strike and we better get ready for one hell of a war.”

 

            “War?”  Toji asked nervously.

 

            “Yes, war.”  Ranma slowly turned to him and the other kids.  “We just finished the war with the angels, and now we have to start the war with Seele.  This one should be decidedly shorter, but it will still be a war.”  He looked them over one-by-one.  “If any of you want to leave you can, but remember that you’ll be leaving the others to fights alone.”

 

            “No guilt trip there.”  Misato commented aside.

 

            Ranma gave her a quick glare before coming back to the children.  “It’s your decision.  I’m going to ask each of you.  Rei?”  She nodded her head in the affirmative.  “Toji?”

 

            The boy shifted on his feet.  “Third impact will finish off humanity, won’t it?”

 

            “Yes.”  Came the martial artist’s simple reply.

 

            “Then I’m in.”  Toji firmed his standing.  “No one is going to hurt my family again.”

 

            Ranma nodded and went on to the next one.  “Asuka?”

 

            “Do you have to ask?”  She put her hands on her hips with her chest sticking out proudly.  “Of course I’m in.”

 

            “Shinji.”

 

            The third child, the boy who had fought the angels from the third stood up, but not quite as proudly as Asuka.  “I don’t like it, I thought you said we should never kill another human being?”

 

            “I don’t care if you don’t like it.”  Ranma growled.  “In fact I want you to hate it.  I want you to hate it more than anything else you have ever hated in your life.  War shows us what animals we humans really are, no matter how civilized we think we are, we are still animals, territorial animals.  We are also very protective animals.  We guard our young as well as our homes. 

 

“I know I’ve told you it’s wrong to kill another human, but sometimes you just don’t have the option.  In a duel, or match, you have the option to leave your opponent alive.  One opponent can be watched, taught, or, if all else fails, jailed.  When you are fighting many opponents after your own life, you don’t have the option.  It’s kill or be killed because while you’re working on subduing the final ones, the first ones are waking up and rejoining the fight.  They will last, you won’t.

 

“It may seem like it goes against everything I’ve taught you, but it doesn’t.  You are still going on the basic principal, to defend yourself and others that can’t defend themselves.  Killing was never part of the code.  That was added on by personal preference.  When in war, you kill them or they kill you and everything you care about.”

 

Ranma looked once more at Shinji as he gathered his breath once more.  “War is terrible because it shows the true nature of humanity no matter how much we don’t want to believe it’s there.  I’m going to ask you one more time: will you fight?  You’re not going to enjoy it, and you are certainly not going to be the same person you went into it, but it’s necessary because the other side will not permit us to ‘talk this out’.”

 

Shinji looked at the burning eyes of his teacher, and somewhat father.  “I understand.  I’ll do it.”

 

“Good.”  He put a hand on the boy’s shoulder.  “If it makes you feel any better, I’m going to be right there with you.  There’s going to be ground forces coming into the headquarters looking for you pilots.  More than likely I’m going to get involved and I’m going to have to kill just like you will, and it will tear me up inside, but I know that I have to do it.  I have all of you, Misato, and my unborn child to protect.  I’m not going to let anyone harm any of you.”

 

Shinji nodded, feeling a little bit better.  “So what are we going to do?”

 

Ranma stood up and looked at Misato.  “First thing we’re going to do is get rid of any innocents.  We evacuate all the noncombatants.”

 

The major smirked.  “Well, COMMANDER, you’re in luck.  Most of the civilians left after the destruction of Unit 00 destroyed their homes, and the non-essential personnel have been sent abroad, unnecessary budget hang-ups.”  Her smile grew more evil.  “We still have the lawyers.  Want me to move their offices toward the entrances?”

 

“No.”  Ranma matched her grin.  “But keep that thought.”  His face went sober once more.  “And get Ritsuko out of her cell, we’re going to need her.  The last thing is to bring all the civil defenses online and get ready for their assault.”  He looked around at all the people around him.  “This will be the final battle.  Let’s make them wish they had never set their sights on NERV!”

 

The troops cheered at the shout, but the kids and Misato looked wary.  They also knew that these three days could be the last of their lives.

 

 

 

Two days passed and the preparations for the assault were completed.  The city weapons were all reloaded and ready for attack, the staff was drilled on their battle stations, and the pilots were trained hard for the upcoming battle.  Dusk fell and everyone went out to make the best of it.  Many of the staff raided the remaining alcohol stores that were left behind by the former bar owners, while many others took time to call their loved ones.  Ranma, Misato, and the pilots all went back to the rooms that were prepared for them inside of NERV headquarters for a (relatively) peaceful night’s rest.  They all retired early so that they would be ready for early morning they would all be faced with.

 

Ranma and Misato were lying in bed holding one another.  They couldn’t be together like they wanted to because of obvious impediments, but they were content to be in one another’s arms once more.  Misato ran her hands through his hair while he caressed her belly.

 

“So what should we name it?”  Misato asked with a small smile.

 

“It?  You mean you don’t know what sex our child is going to be?”  He raised an eyebrow.  “I thought chicks went nuts over that stuff.”

 

She blushed slightly.  “Well, I didn’t want to do it without you, and we’ve been too busy with preparations these past two days to take care of something like that.”

 

Ranma thought for a second.  “How about Nodoka if it’s a girl and Genma if it’s a boy.”

 

“You want to name our children after your parents?”  She gave him a bemused look.

 

He shrugged.  “It seems only right.  I think it’s the only way I could be at peace with them.  Despite everything they did to me, I still loved them.  It’s hard having despicable parents and still loving them.”

 

“I guess you know how Shinji feels.”  Misato sighed.  “Have you told Toji the truth yet?”

 

He shook his head.  “No, I haven’t had the heart to tell him.  It would be so awkward tell him that the first time he met his real father the man made him piss his pants.”

 

“You didn’t!”  She giggled.

 

“He was picking on Shinji for hurting his sister.”  Ranma smiled.  “I decided to turn up the intimidation because I hate bullies.  I didn’t find out until much later he was my own son.  I think he’ll be better off not knowing.  The last thing we need to do is shock a kid’s brain before he goes to battle.”

 

“True.”  Misato let out another sigh.  “We’ll let him run up the phone bill talking to Hikari, and send him off to battle.  The whole thing seems kind of unfair.  We should both be out there with the kids.”

 

“I know.”  Ranma took a deep breath.  “It is unfair to ask anyone that age to kill, but we have no choice.  War forces us to do a lot of things we would not do otherwise.  I’m going to do all I can from ops, and, if the ground troops penetrate further than the fourteenth level, then I’m going out to deal with them.  I’d let you come with me, but, while you may be a soldier, he…”  He rubbed Misato’s stomach.  “…is not.  If you would have let me get away with it, I would have sent you away.”

 

“But what would you have done for a tactical officer?”  She smirked.  “And I’m not separating from you again, so get rid of all those thoughts right now.”

 

“They’re gone.”  He put his arms around her and pulled her close.  “I’m sorry I left you.”

 

“You can think me after I have our first child.”  She winked at him.

 

“First child?”  Ranma raised an eyebrow.

 

“Well, the world does have a population depletion problem after second impact.  We have to do all we can.”  She leaned over and pecked him on the lips.  “You’re going to be a heavy contributor if I have anything to say about it.”

 

He rolled his eyes.  “So should we name the first child Rei?”

 

“Nah.”  She laughed lightly.  “I don’t want to name our fifth child after an angel.”  Her smile turned lecherous.  “And I want more than five.”

 

Ranma’s eyes went wide.  “Don’t I get a say in this?”

 

“No.”  She stated simply.

 

He sighed.  “Well, just as long as that’s clear.”

 

At that moment there was a quiet click sound that seemed to echo through the halls.  “What was that?” Misato asked.  “Everyone is supposed to be bedded down for the night.”

 

“That was just Asuka sneaking into Shinji’s room.”  Ranma stated matter-of-factly.

 

“WHAT!!!”  Misato sat bolt upright in the bed.  “They’re too young for that!  We’ve got to stop them!” 

 

She went to throw the bed sheet aside, but Ranma grabbed her hand.  “Don’t Misato.  This could be the last night of their lives.”

 

“But what if it’s not?!”  She demanded.

 

“Misato.”  Ranma gave her a serious expression and level tone.  “We’ve decided that they’re old enough to die in battle.  I think we should let them be old enough to have sex.”

 

            She crossed her arms and pouted.  “I don’t see why you’re not going nuts about this.”

 

            He shrugged.  “You do things in war that you normally wouldn’t do.”

 

 

 

Inside of Shinji’s room, he was startled awake by another body landing in the bed beside him.  By the smell of her, he could tell who it was.  “Asuka?  What are you doing here?”

 

She wriggled around in the bed a little bit and then threw her clothes onto the floor.  “What does it look like I’m doing?”

 

“It looks like you’re trying to seduce me.”  He commented.

 

He could almost see her smile in the dark.  “Got it in one.”

 

“But don’t you think we’re a little young.  I mean, what if you got pregnant?”  He tried to pull himself back from her fingers that were removing his bedclothes.

 

She kissed him and then turned on the bedside lamp.  “Give me a little bit of credit.  I have something with me that Ranma and Misato never thought about.”

 

“What’s that?”  He asked with his curiosity aroused.

 

She held up a foil wrapped package.  “Condoms.  Never go to bed without them.”

 

He looked up into her eyes.  “Are you sure you want to do this?”

 

“Do you love me?”  She asked simply.

 

“Yes.”  He answered.

 

“Then I’m sure.  Now get out of those clothes!”  She abandoned any form of convention for removing clothes as she just started tearing them off of his body.

 

 

 

A second later, as Toji was talking on the phone with Hikari were talking on the phone, a scream was heard.  “What was that?”  The girl on the other side of the line asked.  “It sounded like a girl screaming.”

 

Toji looked around for a second.  “No, I think that was Shinji.”

 

“Okay…”  She trailed of as she realized the conversation just took an odd turn.  “So how are the two lovebirds getting along?”

 

“Sounds like better by the minute.”  He started to put on his clothes.  “I’m going to have to call you back on the cell phone.  Otherwise we won’t be able to hear each other.  They should have really thought about sound insulation when they built these rooms.”

 

 

 

Before dawn the next morning, the final preparations were in place.  The above ground weapon systems were armed and ready, everyone was at their battle stations, the passageways were already flooded with LCL, and the Evangelions were ready on the catapults for launch.  Fuyutsuki and Gendou were in holding cells under guard.  They couldn’t be allowed to move about freely or they might try to enact the plan they had prepared years before.  Ritsuko was down with the magi.  The access ports were already in place and she was ready to combat any hackers into the system.  She had had enough preparation time that she could run the cables outside the cavernous computers out to a comfortable desk outside them and had several layers of expert firewalls in place with nasty backlash programs.  Maya was to be her backup above.  Aoba was watching the ground for movement while Hyuga watched the air.

 

Behind the three ops workers, Ranma stood at Misato’s side as she sat in a chair that had been placed in the place she usually stood.  The martial artist’s hand was on her shoulder, and her hand had his firmly grasped.  The air was thick with tension.

 

            Shinji sat in Unit 01 trying to collect his thoughts.  Asuka’s picture came up beside his head.  “What’s wrong, Shinji?  You look like you’re about to jump out of your skin.”

 

            He smiled nervously.  “It’s kinda hard to sit in Unit 01 after last night.”

 

            “Why’s that?”  She asked with an inquisitive tone.

 

            He shrugged.  “I dunno.  Maybe it’s the fact that I’m sitting in a machine with the soul of my mother and I’m linked to it.  I’m pretty sure she knows what we did, and I just hope I don’t hear about it.  I feel like she’s scolding me right now.”

 

            “Well, deal with it.  I’m not ashamed of what we did.”  She gave him a confident smile.

 

            “That’s because you can’t shame the shameless.”  He deadpanned.

 

            She shrugged and smiled.  “At least Misato didn’t give us any crap about it.  Even when she woke us up this morning.”

 

            “I will give you two a lot worse than crap if you two keeping talking about it on the tactical net!”  Misato’s voice echoed through their cockpits.  “I was trying to ignore what you two were doing, but you make it hard by ADVERTISING IT!!!”

 

            Shinji chuckled nervously.  “You didn’t hit the direct line Asuka.”

 

            “I knew I forgot something.”  She shrugged her shoulders.  “Oh well.”

 

            “So when’s the wedding Shinji?”  Toji’s lighthearted voice came over the speaker.

 

            Shinji groaned.  “So much for keeping it to ourselves.”

 

            “Don’t worry.”  The other boy replied.  “I’ll only tell Hikari…Kensuke…and everyone else in our class.”

 

            “I’m going to die.”  Shinji moaned in remorse.  He suddenly wished that the EVA could absorb him again, but he couldn’t do that because then his mom would tear him a new one.

 

            “We’ve got movement on the ground.  The first ground troops are coming into the area.  We’ve got a battleship in the harbor and tanks on the satellite views.”  Ranma’s voice alerted them.  “Prepare for launch.”

 

           

 

            Back in the control room, Misato stood up from her seat.  “Wait until they’re well within range and then turn the machine guns on the ground troops.  Immediately after, launch missiles at the roads the tanks are taking into the city.  As soon as the guns go off their going to know that they were expected.  That will be the first blow to their moral.  The second will be four active EVA’s appearing around them.  Asuka will come out of the bay and take care of the battleship.  Shinji and Toji will come out of the mountains behind them, and Rei will come out of the city.”  She tensed slightly as she grabbed onto the back of the chair in front of her.  “Remember, they have an N2 mine.  If they drop that I want Shinji and Asuka back in the city to bolster Rei’s AT field to protect us from the blast similar to what we did with the tenth angel.”  A hand went to her stomach.  “EVA LAUNCH!  AHHHH!”  She fell to her knees.

 

            Any exclamations from the pilots were lost as they were shot out through the boom tubes toward their designated positions.  Ranma ran to her side and helped lay her on the floor.  “What’s wrong?  And what’s all this water doing here!  You didn’t…”

 

            “MY WATER BROKE YOU IDIOT!!!  I’M GOING INTO LABOR!!!”  Misato shouted at him.

 

            “Oh shit.”  No truer words have ever left Ranma’s mouth before in his life.  He shot up and ran to the rail overlooking the magi.  “Ritsuko!  We need your help!”

 

            She looked up at him.  “What for?”

 

            “Misato’s about to have the kid!”  He was becoming hysterical

 

            “Now?”  The doctor gave him an unbelieving look.

 

            “Yes!”  He features had taken on a crazed look.

 

            “Oh shit!”

 

            “That’s what I said!”

 

            “Couldn’t she have waited until after the big battle?”  Ritsuko asked rhetorically.

 

            “Unless you know of a way to stop it.”  His voice was sarcastic now.

 

            “We could give her some alcohol to relax the contractions.”  Ritsuko suggested.

 

            “Wouldn’t work.   We don’t have enough alcohol up here to get her drunk!”

 

            “HEY!!!”  Misato shouted.  “TELL HER TO JUST GET HER ASS UP HERE!”

 

            “Send Maya down here, and I’ll be right up.”  Ritsuko set a couple final barriers in place.  “Send the guards for linens, some hot water, and a sedative.”

 

            “You going to knock her out?”  Ranma asked frantically.

 

            “No, the sedative is for you.” She commented as she stepped onto the operations deck.  “You’re about to go to pieces.  I thought you were some tough martial artist, not afraid of anything.”

 

            “It’s a father’s prerogative to go nuts when his child is being born.”  He stated matter-of-factly.  He turned to Aoba and Hyuga.  “How are the kids doing?”

 

 

 

            Asuka emerged from the undersea opening and stood straight up, picking up the battleship on her way.  She came up right in the middle of the tank lines on either side of the bay.  They opened fire on her, but her AT Field shrugged off the rounds.

 

            Her thoughts were elsewhere as she mechanically threw the ship at one of the tank lines.  “Who’s in my EVA?”  She thought.  “Shinji’s mom is in Unit 01.  Toji’s sister is in 03.  One of the Reis is in Unit 00, but who is in Unit 02?”  She thought more as swatted away assault helicopter like flies.  “Who?”  Unbidden an image of her mother hanging from the ceiling of her room came to mind.  Someone who had been very close to the construction of Unit 02 and was close enough to be a compatible soul.  “Mother?”  She said aloud. 

 

All of the sudden she felt her synch ratio rising.  She could feel the EVA responding faster, and the AT Field growing stronger.  “Mother!”  She shouted excitedly.  She charged forward and punched out a section of bridge on the opposite shore where she had thrown the ship.  “You didn’t leave me!  You were here all the time!”  She was ecstatic at the revelation.  All the doubts that she had before the battle were gone.  She knew that she could do whatever it took as long as her mother was with her.

 

“Shinji!”  She exclaimed happily into the tac net.  “I found out who’s in my EVA!  It’s my mother!”

 

“That’s great.”  He deadpanned back.  “She can rip you a new one for what we did last night.  Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got a few tanks to take care of.”

 

“What?”  She asked.

 

“Tanks.”

 

“Your welcome.”

 

Shinji groaned into his communicator.  “I’m going to get you for that.”  He opened a line to Toji.  “Ready to move in Toji?”

 

“Let’s do it.”  The other boy responded.

 

The two EVA’s emerged from their hiding places behind Seele’s troop lines.  They cupped their hands, shoved them into the road, and started running forward with their legs, pulling up the roadway with them.  The ground started to roll in their hands.  Tanks, APCs, and other mobile armor were crushed in the roll.  Shinji pushed until he hit the battleship that Asuka had thrown into the mountain, and Toji stopped when he dropped his roll through the hole that she had made in the bridge.  The remaining tanks and missile carriers opened fire on the EVAs.  The scene was reminiscent of the attack of the third angel.  Armed forces throwing all that they had at the monster, but with no results.  All was the same except for…

 

“N2 mine.”  Rei’s calm voice came over the com.

 

Shinji jumped over the ship and charged into Tokyo-3 as Asuka used her AT Field to push the bay’s water back far enough so that she could jump easily jump to shore.  The two raced into town as Rei brought the hands of her EVA up and spread the AT Field.  The mine seemed to hover in midair above her.  Asuka and Shinji made it there just in time before the mine went off.

 

The three pilots strained to keep the AT Field at one level from all the force that was pushing down on them.  Toji was just doing his best to stay in one place and not get carried off by the blast.  The ground shook with the force of the blow.

 

 

 

In operations the room shook like an earthquake hit.  “Damage?”  Ranma shouted.

 

“Minimal.”  Hyuga responded.  “The EVAs have deflected the blast.”

 

“Maya!”  Ritsuko shouted.  “How are you handling?”

 

“They can’t get through your first barriers.”  The young tech responded.  “You still have five layers they haven’t seen yet.”

 

Ritsuko smirked.  “It’s amazing what I can do when I’ve got time to prepare.  Of course hacking their system and putting up barriers within their own systems helped too.”

 

“Hey!”  Ranma shouted.  “Aren’t you going to do something?”

 

Ritsuko looked up at him as she squatted between Misato’s legs.  “I am doing something.”

 

“What are you doing?”  He asked.  “All I see is you sitting there doing a good impression of Johnny Bench.”

 

“It’s what they taught us in medical school.  They woman pushes, we catch.  It’s that simple.”  She answered snidely.

 

Ranma shook his head and looked down at Misato as her upper body rested in his lap.  “How you doing, Misato?”

 

“How about I shove a watermelon up your ass and then you ask me again!”  She shouted.  “This is all your fault!  You’ve been nothing but trouble since first time I saw you!  You…”

 

            He quickly clapped his hand over her mouth before she could go much further.  “So does this mean that this will be an only child?”  She glared at him.

 

            “We’ve got troops entering the base.  They’re in the first pool of LCL fluid.”  Aoba reported.

 

            Ranma nodded.  “Open up the intercom it’s time to let them know who they’re dealing with.”  He reached over and grabbed the cushion from the seat that Misato was sitting on and put it under her head.  He kissed her on the forehead as she glared at him.  “Be strong, dear.  I’ll be right back.”  Her expression calmed somewhat when he said dear without the slightest bit of hesitation.

 

            The martial artist strode up and took the mic from Aoba.  “This is Saotome Ranma, appointed commander of this branch of NERV by the United Nations and JSSDF.  You are hereby ordered to cease and desist all activities at once.”  He moved his finger across his neck in the cut-off signal and Aoba turned of the intercom.  “Can we hope against hope that some of them listened?”

 

            Hyuga looked at his displays.  “Half of the troops have left the LCL fluid leaving behind contamination.”

 

            “What is it?”  Ranma asked anxiously.  “Some sort of toxin?”

 

            Hyuga shook his head and smiled.  “Fecal matter.”

 

            The ad hoc commander chuckled.  “I guess those were some of my old students.  Tell the security forces to wipe out the rest of them, but keep their heads low and do not pursue anyone retreating.”

 

            “You got it.”  Aoba sent the orders.  “Begging, your pardon, sir, but why didn’t we broadcast that to all the troops out there?  Wouldn’t we be able to end this quicker?”

 

            Ranma shook his head.  “We couldn’t do it now or before, thanks to their radio silence.  Keel made sure that they couldn’t hear any news of the world, or of our change in command.  He’s been blinded by his ambition to trigger third impact.”

 

            “RANMA GET YOUR ASS BACK HERE!!!”  Misato shouted between groans of pain.

 

            “You guys hold down the fort.”  He patted the two techs on the shoulders.  “I’m going to take some more abuse from my wife.”

 

            “Oh the joys of fatherhood.”  The two techs silently swore never to have children.

 

 

 

            Outside, Toji had finished up the armored vehicles while the others were recovering from the N2 blast.  Shinji looked out over the carnage that had already been wrought.  There were shattered tanks, downed helicopters, the burned out hulk of a battleship, and various other armored vehicles strewn about along with several levels building from the backlash of the N2 blast.  They had managed to contain the brunt, but some of the shock waves had managed to pass through.  Shinji checked with ops, and, when he learned they were fine (if a little stressed from the woman in labor), he communicated it to the others.

 

            “So is that all of them?”  Toji asked as Unit 03 strode up beside the other three EVAs.

 

            Shinji panned Unit 01’s head around the landscape.  “Looks like it.  The rest of the armored divisions are retreating.  There were still several troops that got through into the base.  I asked Ranma if we should help with them, but he said we were supposed to wait for the EVAs.”

 

            “What EVAs?”  The other boy asked.

 

            “The ones with the dummy plugs, dummy.”  Asuka answered snidely.  “They’re the real reason why we’re out here.  Don’t you think the city defenses could have handled a few tanks and choppers?”

 

            “They wouldn’t have been able to stop the N2 mine.”  Toji stated matter-of-factly.  “And probably would have been destroyed fairly quickly with all those tanks coming in.”

 

            “Enough you two.”  Shinji commanded.  “We’ve got to be ready for anything.”

 

            “Who put you in charge?”  Asuka demanded.  “I’m the best pilot out here!”

 

            “Yeah, but I’ve been doing this longer.”  Shinji blew Asuka a raspberry.  The response he got was a satisfying growl from the other end of the line.

 

            “Incoming from the South-Southwest.”  Hyuga’s voice came over the tactical net.  “Nine EVA air carriers.  Everyone make sure you’re plugged in and ready.”

 

            The pilots checked the power lines to make sure there were no problems and then sat themselves in a ready stance to fend off the new threat.  The planes came into view, filling the air with the sound of their engines.  Through the enhanced vision that the EVAs granted them, the pilots say the dummy plugs being inserted into white Evangelions.

 

            “They’re going to be destroyed if they dry a drop from that high.”  Asuka commented. 

 

            Shinji remembered the one carrier drop he had made when he had fought Jet Alone.  “When I made mine, it was at a much lower altitude and it still rattled my teeth.”

 

            The white EVA’s detached from the carriers and fell for several feet before wings sprouted out of their backs.  They had the general body forms of the earlier Evangelion series, but they had a distended head, eagle wings, and no shoulder guards.  They circled around in the sky above the other four robots like vultures over a corpse.

 

            Toji watched them warily.   “After we’re through with this battle, I know what upgrade I’m getting.”

 

            “After we’re through with this battle, I quit.”  Shinji muttered.  “Things are getting too weird.”

 

            Asuka went to one of the arms buildings that was still standing and withdrew her new halberd.  “Come on you guys.  Get ready for action!”

 

            Unit 03 and Unit 00 went to another arms building and pulled out a pair of large machine guns while Unit 01 drew its progressive knife.  As the enemy robots came nearer, the pilots saw that they were carrying long double bladed staffs.

 

            Shinji shrugged and held onto his knife.  “This is going to be interesting.”

 

            The nine white evangelion’s landed softly with both feet on the ground and surrounded the original four.  The human pilots formed a ring with their backs to each other and weapons pointed outward.

 

            “What do we do, Shinji?”  Toji asked as he moved his machine gun between the robots in his sight.

 

            “We do this by the numbers.  Each of us will take two and I’ll take three.  Just think of them as angels.  Neutralize the AT Field and attack.”  He brought his progressive knife up to a ready position.  “Any questions?”

 

            “Yeah!  Why don’t we stop talking and start fighting?!”  Shinji felt a power build up and turned around to where Asuka was.  He was treated to the sight of the red evangelion shooting forward and bringing its halberd down in a overhead cut, cleaving the white EVA in two.  She turned and swept her weapon up at the adjacent EVA.

 

            Shinji missed the rest of her fight when the rest of the angels charged.  Unit 01 leapt into the air and cleared the other EVAs.  He spun around in midair to land facing the back of one of them.  Grabbing the head, he pulled it back to expose its neck.  He quickly ran the progressive knife across its throat, spilling a substance that looked like blood all over the city.

 

            Rei and Toji remained back to back and fired outward at the remaining EVAs.  It seemed to keep the occupied until one of them shot forward.  Thinking quickly, Toji brought the butt of his gun up and caught the beast in the jaw.  He paused momentarily when he saw that the thing actually had teeth.  He quickly turned his gun around and opened fire into its mouth.

 

            Rei continued to plug away at the ones that approached her.  One leapt into the air to try and bring her down.  She jumped aside and rolled into a crouched position and opened fire on the fallen EVA.  When two more approached her, she took cover behind one of the still remaining buildings and fired from behind.

 

            On the other side of the field, Asuka was going staff to staff against the second EVA she chose.  The large cumbersome weapons that the enemy was using were much stronger than she first thought.  Finally, she waited for another swing from the white evangelion, and then she shot into the air, swinging her halberd around and cleanly taking the head off the EVA.

 

            “Ha!”  She proudly shouted.  “Two down already, Shinji!  You’d better hurry up, or I’ll get your third!”

 

            A loud explosion sounded on the field as Unit 02 turned to face Unit 01.  The purple robot stood there with its arm extended with blue residual energy wisps coming off its hand.  In front of Unit 01 were two more white EVAs with gaping holes where their stomachs should have been.  “That’s three for me.  Hurry up slow poke!”

 

            Growling, Asuka searched the field and saw Toji locked up in hand-to-hand with another of the pale robots.  The two were pushing at each other’s hands, trying to force the other one back so they could grab one of the discarded weapons.  She stormed across the field and grabbed Unit 03 by the shoulder and pulled him backward, causing the white Eva to fall forward.  She raised her other hand to catch the head of the beast and concentrated her AT Field.  “Moko Takabisha!”  The blue blast at point blank range vaporized the monster’s head.  Headless, the white robot fell backward.  “There!  We’re even!”

 

            At that moment they turned to the sound of gunfire to see Rei putting the last one down.  They surveyed the field and didn’t see any more standing. 

 

            “Are we done?”  Toji asked hopefully.

 

            Unit 01 scanned around some more.  “I guess.”

 

            “Uh, guys?”  Asuka’s tentative voice came over the line.

 

            “Yeah?”  They both responded.

 

            “I got three, Shinji got three, and Toji and Rei each got one.”  She took a deep breath.  “We’re short one.”

 

            They all started to look around the ruined city to try and find the missing EVA.  They couldn’t find any trace of it.

 

            “It didn’t go inside the Geofront did it?”  Shinji asked hopefully.

 

            “There’d be a hole or something around here if it did.”  Asuka deduced.  “It couldn’t just phase through the concrete and armor.”

 

            Sensing danger, Shinji turned to see one of the battle staffs of the white EVAs flying right toward him.  He quickly threw up his AT Field to block it.  Before his eyes, the staff shape-shifted into a trident with a tine missing. 

 

“The Lance of Longinus.”  Shinji and Asuka exclaimed at once.

 

The weapon made no time in passing through Shinji’s field.  Only Shinji’s quick reflexes saved him from taking the weapon in the chest.  Instead it lodged into his shoulder.  He yelled out in pain.

 

“SHINJI!”  Asuka cried out.  She quickly rushed to his side to pull the lance out.  “That better?”

 

“I’ve got bad news!”  Toji reported.

 

“What could be worse than the last EVA has a Lance of Longinus?!”  Asuka questioned.

 

“The other ones are getting back up!”

 

Asuka turned in horror to see the ones that they had felled stand once more.  The mouths at the end of their distended heads were grinning a malicious grin as they all retrieved their lances.

 

 

 

Back in operations, the two male techs looked on in horror as the beasts came back to life.  Hyuga turned around to where Misato was heavily breathing with her upper body being supported by Ranma and Ritsuko waiting patiently between her legs.  “We’ve got problems!  The Seele Evangelions each have a  Lance of Longinus!”

 

Ritsuko gave him a stern look.  “We’ve got one of our own!  Send one of the kids down to get it!”

 

Hyuga nodded and relayed the message.  Meanwhile Aoba started opening the passageways to terminal dogma.

 

 

 

Shinji was doing his best to fight off the white monsters.  The damned things just wouldn’t stay down!  Finally he got Ritsuko’s message.  “Rei!  You go after the lance!  The rest of us will keep these things back!”

 

“Acknowledge.”  Rei’s flat voice came back.  Unit 00 turned and ran toward the platform that Aoba had opened for her.  The platform began its descent.

 

 

 

Deep inside of NERV headquarters, Ikari Gendou was being held in the same cell that he had Ritsuko into for the passed six months.  He found it ironic that by putting him in this cell they had put him that much closer to Terminal Dogma.  The whole time that he had been there inside the cell, he had sat on the bench/bed with his elbows on his knees and his hands bridged in front of his face.

 

A trace of light seemed to pass over his glasses.  “It’s time.”  His voice was low and unemotional.

 

He stood up and walked toward the door and lifted his hand up toward the door.  Light filled the room as the door was blasted off, the guards outside killed instantly.  He turned toward elevators that would eventually lead him to the core of the Human Instrumentality Project.

 

Fuyutsuki heard the blast from his cell and could only smile slightly.  “Say hello to Yui for me.”  He whispered under his breath.

 

 

 

Up in the operations area, the jailbreak didn’t go unnoticed.  Aoba quickly reported it to the commander, major, and doctor.  Ranma looked up with a grim expression.  “He’s still going to try for it.”  He growled before looking down at his wife.  “I’m going to have to take care of this.  You just be strong for our child.”  He ran a hand across her face.

 

“You can’t do that!”  Ritsuko protested.  “There are still soldiers between here and Terminal Dogma!  You’ll never get through!”

 

Misato took his hand.  “I understand.”  The blonde doctor gave her a shocked look. “Just make sure you come back.”  She managed through the pain.

 

Ranma nodded and replaced his lap with the chair cushion once more.  “I’ll be back, and Saotome Ranma always keeps his word.”

 

“You’d better.”  She managed a painful grin.  Another contraction hit, and her face clouded with pain.  “They’re getting closer now!”

 

“I love you.”  Ranma gave her a quick peck on the lips before rushing out of the door.

 

He made his way outside, down the halls, and to the first elevator he found.  The path to Terminal Dogma wasn’t straight down so he’d have to make several elevator changes.  The first floor he came to was clear, but the next found him facing the guns of several JSSDF officers and the bodies of several dead NERV security officers.  The martial artist’s eyes narrowed at the carnage.

 

The opposing soldiers didn’t even so much as ask him to surrender; they just immediately opened fire.  Ranma faded from sight as the hail of bullets came his way.  Within seconds, the troops all lay at his feet, dead.

 

“No one threatens my family.” He growled before continuing his journey.

 

The story was the same for several of the floors.  He encountered places where his men had the upper hand and the JSSDF were dead, but for several others, the blood of his students stained the walls and floors.  Anger built in him as he approached the floors that had been flooded with LCL.  He seemed to fly past the troops by corkscrewing his body, creating an underwater cyclone that flattened the troops against the wall.  He went through a few more floors until finally he unleashed the deadly Yama-Sen-Ken techniques.  He’d throw several vacuum blades that would suck the troops into themselves, or he’d send a single blade forward and allow himself to be pulled through the liquid to the next elevator.

 

At last he passed into the final elevator that would take him to Terminal Dogma.  The sight that greeted him stopped him in his tracks.  Unit 00 had already made it down this far and was kneeling before Gendou.  The back of the Evangelion opened up and the entry plug twisted out.  Rei climbed down to stand in front the former commander.

 

“Stop right there, Gendou!”  Ranma shouted.

 

The man turned to smile a sardonic grin at Ranma.  He turned his head slightly and spoke to Rei.  “Just a moment and then you will fulfill your destiny.”  He turned back to Ranma.  “You cannot hope to stop me.  I’ve been fused with the angel Adam and you cannot stop me now.”

 

The martial artist growled and charged forward, only to flatten against an AT Field.  He fell back and rolled to a crouch.  When he concentrated, he could see the field that Gendou was emitting.

 

“I thought Adam was nailed to the cross inside the vault.”  Ranma wiped a trickle blood away from his mouth as he spoke.

 

Gendou chuckled.  “That, you fool, is Lillith.  Adam was fused to me while he was still in embryonic form.  That will make me the new god of this planet.  I shall remake it better than it was before.”  His voice dropped.  “And I’ll bring Yui back.”

 

Ranma’s heart seemed to drop, but he shook his head and anger filled his senses.  “You’d destroy the world to bring Yui back?”

 

“I’d do it all and more to have her with me again.”  The former commander said with a voice of confidence.  “I thought you would understand, if you truly loved her.”

 

“But to kill everyone on Earth?”  The current commander stood to his full height.  “That’s genocide.  I may have loved Yui, but the price is too high.”

 

Gendou sniffed in derision.  “That was the part of you that always angered me about you.  You were always perfect.  Yui would go on for hours about how moral and strong you were.  You were the epitome of manhood to her.  Even though she told me I was all she needed, you were still better.  And then when we met in that bar, I was ready to beat up an overly inflated character from her memories.  But, it seems, she was on the money for her descriptions of your martial prowess.  I hated you from that moment on.”

 

Ranma smirked his cocky grin.  “I just hated you because you had Yui and I didn’t.  She drove me mad, literally, but the madness gave me the power to leave my old life behind me.”  His expression hardened.  “But I don’t hate you for that anymore.  I hate you now for what you’ve done to your son and what you would do to the world to achieve your goals.”

 

“Then the battle lines are drawn.”  The thinner man brought his hand forward.  “Goodbye Saotome.  I will enjoy this.”  The martial artist saw the gesture and began to laugh.  “What’s so funny about your death?”

 

“You’re the fool!”  Ranma exclaimed.  “Haven’t you paid the least bit of attention to my life, or to the past three days for that matter?”  He stood up his full height and puffed out his chest.  “I killed a god when I was seventeen.  I just finished killing an angel three days ago.  What make you think that you can defeat me?”  He started walking forward with a dangerous look on his face.

 

Gendou put his hand up and erected another energy barrier.  Ranma reached up with one hand and pulled it apart.  The other man took a few steps back and put up another, which was dealt with similarly. 

 

The scene replayed itself until finally Gendou tried to just blast him with the power.  Ranma easily sidestepped the blast and shot his hand forward, catching the other man by the wrist.  “W-why doesn’t it work?”  The former commander asked as he stared death in the face.

 

“You don’t know the first thing about the power you are using.”  Ranma stated with a scowl on his face.  “The power of chi cannot be forced the way you’re doing it.  All your fields and blasts are too weak because you don’t know how to focus them.  I’d suggest that you learn more about the energy you’re using before you try using it.”  Ranma tightened his grip, causing Gendou to cry out in pain.  “One more thing…”

 

“W-What?”  The former commander managed through the pain that was shooting through his wrist.

 

The hand that was holding Gendou’s wrist began to glow brightly.  “If you try to merge yourself with a more powerful entity, try to have a little bit more commitment than just your hand.”  Ranma loosened his grip and a powerful Moko Takabisha fired from his palm.  Gendou fell to his knees, clutching the cauterized stump of his right arm.

 

While the former commander was crying out in pain, Ranma turned to the blue-haired pilot.  “Rei, you are more than a doll.  You are a real person, and right now I need you to do everything you can to save all the others.”

 

She stood up and looked at him, Gendou’s influence gone with the destruction of Adam.  “What must I do?”

 

“Get back into Unit 00 and I’ll instruct you.”  She did as she was told and brought the organic machine back to life.  “Proceed into where Lillith is and take your progressive knife and destroy her core.”  He yelled loud enough for her external pickups to hear him. 

 

With a smooth motion she drew her knife and plunged it through the head of the crucified angel.  “What do I do now?”  Rei asked over her external speakers.

 

“Take the Lance and finish off the Seele EVAs.”  Ranma smiled as he reached down and hauled Gendou up back the back of his shirt.  “I’m going to take Gendou on a tour of the world he created.”

 

As Unit 00 strode out with the lance in hand, Ranma drug Gendou back to the elevator, intent on showing him all the bloodshed on the way.

 

 

 

The outlook on the battle above was looking grim.  Nothing appeared to stop these inhuman monsters.  The faster that they knocked them down, the faster they came.  Shinji had tried wrestling away one of their lances and using it against them, but it transformed back into its original state when he tried to use it.  In the meantime he had a larger weapon than his progressive knife while Asuka only had the haft of her halberd left.  The blade had be severed minutes before.  Toji wasn’t faring much better.  He couldn’t use the advanced techniques that Asuka and Shinji could so he was forced to use his AT Field as only defense while he dodged lances in hopes of landing a good blow.

 

All the children’s attention turned when the warning sirens went off around one of the EVA deployment hatches.  Unfortunately, this also brought the attention of the white Evangelions.  Four of them immediately converged on the lance-bearing Unit 00.  Rei spun at the first one, delivering a heal kick to its head.  She thrust the lance into the next one, expecting it to fall.  To her surprise, the white EVA grabbed the lance and pulled itself toward her.  At that moment the other two tackled her and brought her to the ground.  They tore at her armor and began to feast on the flesh underneath.

 

“REI!!!!”  Shinji shouted as he charged, double-bladed staff forward, through the two baring his way toward the fallen ally. The blades cleaved the two abominations in half as the purple Unit 01 ran past.

 

As Unit 01 approached the group, Shinji threw the staff at the EVA to the right of Unit 01.  The one that held Unit 00 on the left and the speared one in the center looked up at his approach.  Shinji shoulder rammed the one on the left, sending it flying with the momentum that the purple EVA had built up.  He then grabbed the Lance of Longinus and heaved upwards, cutting the EVA in half.  He looked down at the corpse of the monster with a sense of accomplishment.  They had a lance of their own and they could now give them some payback.

 

Suddenly his expression soon turned to horror as the white EVA began to reform once more.  “No.”  He whispered to himself.  “That’s not possible!  The lance was supposed to kill them!”

 

Asuka and Toji felt their hearts drop when they say the man-made angel regenerating.  They both set their jaws and prepared to fight to the bitter end. 

 

Shinji, lance in hand, jumped back away from Rei, hoping to draw the EVAs away from her.  He succeeded all too well.  All the white EVAs followed him as he retreated from the others.  He turned to run to the countryside for a more open battle.  As he turned, he came face-to-face with another one.  He leapt to clear the beast’s head.  He managed to clear the monster, but it grabbed his power cable, severing it from the force of the jump and the pull.  The third child’s eyes narrowed as his five-minute counter started.  He ran until he was clear of the city and previous war zone.

 

“What am I going to do?”  He thought desperately.  “The Lance of Longinus won’t stop them.  Moko Takabishas won’t stop them.  How do we kill them?”  He thought a moment on everything that had brought him to this moment, all the battles, all the training, all the friends, and all the family.  If he had to do it all over, he wouldn’t change a thing.  He had surrendered to Unit 01 before and it had absorbed him.  He knew that it had more power now after eating the S2 unit from the fourteenth angel.  He felt he would have to give himself fully to the machine again to defeat these enemies.

 

“Don’t give in!  Use the power!”  A disembodied feminine voice seemed to echo through the entry plug.

 

“Mother?”  Shinji looked around his pod but saw nothing.  “Power?  What power?”

 

He racked his brain until he remembered what he had been told about his battle with the angel in orbit, of the power that could shoot an angel down from the heavens.  He looked back at the view screen and saw the others quickly approaching.  He set his jaw and willed the EVA to unleash its full potential for one lethal blast.

 

The back armor of Unit 01 exploded as wings of red chi shot out.  The air shimmered with the heat being generated from the Evangelion as it’s aura flared up.  Gusts of wind seemed to pour off the mighty robot as it waited for the enemy.

 

The white EVAs seemed to smile as they saw what was their signal to begin the operation for third impact.  They blindly charged forward, intent on capturing the power of the living god to bring the culmination of the Human Instrumentality Project.  They joyfully rushed toward the overwhelming source.

 

The eyes of Unit 01 flared as the beasts came ever closer.  The robot crossed its arms in front of itself and waited.  Shinji waited until he could see points on their teeth before flinging his arms outward and unleashing the power he had built up.

 

Dusk had been falling as the battle was wearing on.  The blast lit up the area brighter than the daylight as it radiated outward, first with an enormous shock wave and following up with a deadly sphere of energy.

 

After being lost temporarily during the blast, Shinji’s sight returned moments afterward.  He opened them in time to see his timer go to zero on his EVA.  He reached out with his senses and couldn’t feel the other EVAs any longer.  He could also tell that the energy had been depleted from his.  He had burned out the S2 unit in the final apocalyptic blast.

 

He worked the manual releases and managed to get his entry plug to screw out, allowing him to see the battlefield once again.  What he saw was a level plain with no trees, grass, or anything but raw earth.  He could see Asuka approaching his position and Toji bending over where Shinji thought Rei’s EVA had fallen.  He smiled as he watched the red Unit 02 come toward him.  It was over at last.

 

 

 

Inside the operations area, Ranma had just arrived with Gendou over his shoulder, knocked out cold.  He dropped the former commander and ran to the panting Misato’s side.  Her breath was getting ragged as she tried to force the baby to come into the world.  Hours of exertion had left her hair matted to her head with sweat.  Her eyes were strained and were showing signs of rings.  Ritsuko had been trying to cool her down with wet towels, but nothing was helping.  Ranma lifted his wife’s head off the pillow and set it once more on his lap.  “Hang in there, Misato.  You can do this.”  He looked up at Aoba and Hyuga.  “How are the kids?”

 

Hyuga looked back at him.  “Unit 00 is down, but the pilot is okay.  Unit 03 is recovering her.  Unit 01 has destroyed the other EVAs, but used up his remaining power.  Unit 02 is going out to retrieve Unit 01’s pilot.”

 

Ranma nodded as he turned his attention back to his wife.  “How are you doing, dear?”  She immediately reached up and grabbed his bottom lip.  (A.N.  If you know this joke, then you’re a Cosby fan too.)

 

Alarms began to go off again.  Aoba spun around in his chair to report.  “Another AT Field has emerged!  One of the White Evangelions survived.

 

“That’s the least of your problems.”

 

The NERV personnel turned to see a group of soldiers appear on the dais above.  The apparent commander stepped forward with his gun raised.  “You are all will hereby be executed for crimes against humanity.”  He looked up as another group came up from the magi area with Maya in tow.  They threw her down in from of Ranma and Misato and brought their weapons up as well.  All of them had heavy battle gear with full-face masks, the same as the team above, except for the speaker.  The leader spoke again.  “This is the end of NERV.”

 

 

 

Outside Shinji could only gaze in terror as the final beast rose from the displaced earth.  It’s body was badly mangled, but it was regenerating, albeit slower than before.  The third child watched as Asuka dropped into a stance and prepared to do battle again.

 

Inside her cockpit, Asuka was slowly losing hope.  She had seen what it took to destroy the others and knew she didn’t have that kind of power to throw around unless…

 

She opened up her communications to all channels.  “Goodbye everyone.  I love you all.  And one of you tell Shinji that I loved him most of all.”  After saying that she released her power cable, triggered the timer on her self-destruct sequence, and charged forward at the last enemy EVA.  Unit 02 pulled its fist back while running and threw it forward when it reached striking distance, driving it’s fist through the beast’s barrel.

 

Asuka ran with the impaled monster further away, trying to get a safe distance away from Shinji.  She looked back once more as tears began to pour down her face.  “We will die together mother.  Maybe you’ll get to meet Shinji in the next life.”

 

As the timer approached zero, the four eyes of the red Evangelion lit up and shown like stars in the night.  The back neck plate of Unit 02 went flying backwards.  Asuka gasped as she found herself ejected violently from her robot.  After she reached the top of her arc from the force of ejection, the emergency jets fired, sending her even further away.

 

“MOTHEEEEER!!!!”  She shouted as the two Evangelions went up in a ball of light, both consumed in the conflagration of life energy.

 

Shinji shielded his eyes from the blast and looked up again to see Asuka’s entry plug gently falling to the ground from the three parachutes it deployed.  Taking several leaps, he made his way down his Evangelion and across the field to meet her.

 

 

 

In the operations area, the strike commander was smiling as he watched the people below him stare death in the face.  They were all gathered around the one giving birth.  The great Saotome Ranma was covering her with his body, knowing full well that while he could dodge their bullets, she couldn’t.  The man waited until he found the right moment to kill them.

 

Just then, the tactical net came alive with chatter.  “Goodbye everyone.  I love you all.  And one of you tell Shinji that I loved him most of all.”  Moments afterward a blast was felt and heard.

 

“Asuka!”  Ranma and Misato yelled in despair.

 

“That leaves one more EVA after we finish with you, but since we can cut off its power, it won’t be a problem.”  He raised his hand.  “One the count of three.  One…Two…”

 

The team below brought their guns up and opened fired on the commander and the troops above, killing them all to a man.  Using hand signals, the leader of the group below sent some his troops up to make sure they were finished.

 

The last commander standing approached the group as he lowered his gun.  Ranma looked up at him.  “So who are you?  One of my old students?”

 

The man shook his head.  He then reached up and undid the clasps on his mask and pulled it off to reveal a handsome face with close-cropped black hair.  “Just a man who owes you a debt of honor.  Saotome.”

 

“Mousse?”  Ranma raised an eyebrow.  “What are you doing here?”

 

The man chuckled.  “The second impact left a lot of us in strange places.  I was stranded in Japan and found myself conscripted into the military along with my wife.”

 

Ranma turned to the woman in uniform who came and stood beside Mousse.  She pulled her mask off to reveal an elegant face with long black hair.  Ranma’s jaw dropped.

 

Mousse reached out and gently took her hand.  “I believe you know Kodachi.  Imagine my surprise waking up in a pile of rubble to find Cologne and Shampoo had left for China, banishing me from the tribe.  I was walking toward the dojo when I heard sobbing out of another pile of rubble.  I found her and we’ve been together ever since.”

 

Misato’s cry of pain brought everyone’s attention back to the fact that there was a woman giving birth in the room.  “I see the head!”  Ritsuko exclaimed.

 

“Keep pushing and breathing, dear.”  Ranma encouraged her, intentionally using the affectionate dear she preferred to show his support.

 

The major cried out between pushing and breathing.  The head came out followed by the shoulders, and, after a relatively short battle, the new baby girl came into the world.  Ritsuko cut the umbilical cord, cleared its mouth, washed it, and laid it in the arms of a very exhausted Saotome Misato.  She held the baby carefully and began to cry uncontrollably.  Ranma pulled her close, and, if you looked closely, you could make out a tear on the edge of one of his eyes.

 

After the afterbirth came out, they decided they didn’t want the celebration of new life to be surrounded by death.  They all left the command center to find the other children.  Hyuga and Ranma helping Misato and the baby out.

 

Ritsuko remained behind to shut down the systems.  She looked at Gendou, who was forgotten in the soldier’s attack and subsequent birth.  She walked over and picked up a pistol from one of the fallen soldiers and pointed it at him.

 

Gendou’s mind cleared to find his vision filled with a barrel of a gun.

 

Her face was clouded over with rage.  “You left me in a hole for six months!  When this was all over, were you going to kill me as well?  No.  You were probably going to have Rei kill me, just like my mother.  You screwed and killed her, and you were going to do the same to me.”  She pulled the hammer back on the pistol.  “Ranma may have spared your life, but I won’t.  I won’t ever forgive you.”

 

A lone gunshot filled the empty silence of the all but abandoned command center.  Ritsuko dropped the gun and walked out of the room.  This would be the last time that someone would manipulate her.  She was free now, free to discover the new world for herself.

 

 

 

Out on the barren field left behind from the two climactic explosions, Shinji strained to release Asuka from her entry plug.  He couldn’t help but remember when he pulled Rei out of hers.  It was that moment that had started them on their path of endearment.  This time it would be a new beginning, a beginning without angels, Evangelions, or death.  He looked in and found her curled up into a ball mourning the second loss of her mother.  He climbed into the plug and wrapped his arms around her and gently rocked her as she cried herself out.

 

“I lost her again.”  Asuka sobbed.

 

Shinji hugged her close.  “I saw.  She gave her life for you Asuka.  It was the greatest gift she could give you.”  She looked up at him and finally put her arms around his neck and cried into his shoulder.

 

He put his arms beneath her and carried her out of the plug.  He was greeted by twins beams of light.  Above them towered the form of the last functioning Evangelion, Unit 03.  The robot knelt down and put its hand on the ground in front of the pair palm up.  “Get on.”  Toji’s voice came over his external speaker.  “I’ll give you a ‘hand’ back to headquarters.”

 

Shinji rolled his eyes as he stepped onto the massive hand.  He saw Rei sitting there already, none the worse for wear.  He smiled at the first child, and she slowly returned it.  He looked up into the glowing lights of the EVA.  “Take us home Toji.  It’s been a long day.”

 

“I’m going to take you back to base.  I can’t get any response from them.”  Toji replied as he lifted the rest of the pilots into the air and carried them back toward the base.

 

 

 

Ranma and the others exited the base into the empty streets of Tokyo-3 to be met with the floodlights of the EVA.  The black EVA knelt down once more and lowered its hand to reveal all the other pilots.  They all shared a smile as they all took in the sight of the other survivors and the new life that begun on this tragic day.

 

Unit 03 shut down and the entry plug ejected.  Toji made his way down and joined the party.  Ritsuko also joined the party at that moment.

 

Asuka approached the haggard Misato and looked down at the baby.  “So what’s her name?”

 

Misato looked at Ranma and they shared a gentle look of affection.  “We talked about it on the way out of the base, and decided on…”

 

“Hope.”  Ranma spoke softly as he smiled.  He looked over at Toji.  “Could you see if our condo was still standing when you came back?”  The boy nodded.  “Then let’s all go there and crash.  It’s been a long day and there’s enough room for everyone.”  He looked to the pilots.  “Family…”  He looked over at the techs and Ritsuko.  “…and friends.”

 

 

 

Author’s Notes:

 

Wow, another finished fic.  I’m not saying that an epilogue isn’t forthcoming, but the story is finished, surprisingly with very few deviations from my original brainstorm.  I believe that Waldorf and Statler said it best when they said, “All’s well that ends well.”  “I don’t care, just as long as it ends.”  Anyway, it was a long and tiring road and I’m glad it’s finally done.  I’ll miss my every chapter e-mailers, but I hope that I will continue to hear from you as I work on my other fics.  I end this chapter with a few minor laughs and a Trigun wish for Love and Peace.  As always, send all compliments, comments, and flames to JamesThomas@fubarinc.com, I always love hearing from my readers!

           

 

Omake:

 

Toji looked down at the fallen angel.  “So do we have to kill him or something?”

 

            “I don’t know.”  Shinji gave the angel a second glance.  “Do you think we should stab him?”

 

            Toji looked at him.  “That’s a little cold-blooded, don’t you think?”

 

            Shinji stroked his chin in thought.  “Well, we could shoot him.”

 

            “That’s a little loud, isn’t it?”

 

            “Hey, do you want to kill him or don’t you?”  Shinji threw up his hands in exasperation.  “It’s not like I’m asking you to look inside a dog for a diamond or something like that!”

 

 

 

            “The chaos bringer!”  Kaworu shouted.  “You are the one who keeps disturbing the natural order!”

 

            “In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary, Come again?”  The martial artist asked with cocked eyebrow.

 

 

 

            "Wait…he's really pale, right? With red eyes? Anyone got a stake?"