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She had flipped through the book because it was something to do.

That’s why we do anything, really.

And God created humankind in his image…

“No, that’s wrong,” says Gendo Ikari. “It’s the other way around. Humans created God in their image.”

Rei doesn’t know quite what to think of that.

Perhaps it’s just a matter of opinion.

---

“You look just like her…”

“I could have sworn…!”

“…the splitting image of Yui Ikari…”

As does the next Rei, and the next one, and the next.

Who’s to say that Yui doesn’t look like her?

Rei’s the one who’s living.

If you could call it that.

---

The clones look just like her.

It’s a stupid thing to think.

They are clones, after all.

Three-dimensional images, made from her DNA.

Her genetic material.

Hers.

Her.

But are they Rei?

---

When Rei stares at them for too long, she gets confused.

They were made in your image.

You were made in her image.

Or were you made in their image?

Maybe Rei is the one who looks like the clones.

Somehow, it’s a disturbing thought.

---

As she contemplates this, Rei’s face does not move.

Rei’s face is as still as the faces of the dummy plug suits.

Rei’s face is as still as the face of Yui Ikari, floating but stagnant in LCL.

---

This is what Rei looks like:

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00 00 00 00 00
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It’s not really fair, she thinks, being made in someone else’s image.

You don’t get a choice.

What if you don’t like them?

What if you don’t want to be made in their image?

---

Rei is like a Russian doll.

Her face is made of wood.

There are many Reis stacked inside of Rei.

They nestle within her, so quiet they’re almost dead.

---

Ikari Yui was full of life.

That’s why it doesn’t make sense to compare her and Rei.

It doesn’t make much sense to compare anybody, really.

---

As it turns out, any amount of time spent thinking about the clones is too long.

When Rei starts thinking about them, she can’t stop.

She doesn’t display her emotions.

No one knows what she’s thinking about.

No one could possibly know.

No one could possibly guess.

She likes that.

It gives her an edge.

---

Rei pictures herself shedding her skin.

It would be far less elegant than the ritual of a moth or a snake or even a cicada.

It would peel off excruciatingly slowly, ripping off in patches and falling to the ground.

Her blood would keep pouring out, long after her skin had fallen into the pool of blood at her feet and dissolved.

The floor would look like lava.

Rei Ayanami, robot girl.

Rei Ayanami, bloody doll.

Rei Ayanami, girl volcano.

No one could bear to watch.

(Perhaps Gendo, but even he would turn away, sick in his mouth, before she was through.)

After the first layer of skin had finally slipped to the floor, she would stand there, nakeder than anyone with skin could ever be, still dripping, blood red as the sun rising over Japan.

And then out of this Rei, the next Rei—she who was so patient, so dormant for so many years—the next Rei would emerge.

---

Am I a girl?

What is a girl?

How does a person know if they are a girl?

---

This is what Rei’s clones look like:

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00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

(a few of them, anyway.)

---

Yesterday Commander Ikari’s son arrived at NERV.

His name is Shinji Ikari.

He is the son of Yui Ikari.

---

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Shinji is quiet but perpetually flustered.

Shinji acts like a broken clock.

He doesn’t understand anything that’s going on, but he’s too scared to say so.

He keeps trying to talk to Rei.

She does not want to talk to him, but still, he keeps trying.

Shinji is the most awkward person Rei has ever met.

Rei doesn’t like him.

But he does save her, she has to give him credit for that.

---

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Without Shinji, who would Rei be?

Just another clone.

Just another dummy plug suit.

That, or Yui Ikari.

---

Finally, Rei understands her role.

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Ikari Gendo has created something from nothing:

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10 00 00 00 01 01 01 01 01
00 00 00 01 01 01 01 01 01
00 00 01 01 01 01 01 01 01

---

Ikari Gendo has created nothing from something.

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00 00 10 10 10 10 10 00 00
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00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

---

In the end, Rei looks like this:

Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø
Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø
Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø
Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø
Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø

---

And Yui created Rei in Yui’s image…

How could she? Yui Ikari was dead.

---

And Rei created Rei in Rei’s image…

“That doesn’t make any sense,” says Gendo Ikari. “You can’t create yourself.”

---

And Gendo created Yui in Rei’s image…

“No,” says Gendo Ikari. “That’s impossible.”

---

And Gendo created Rei in Yui’s image…

“No, that’s wrong,” says Gendo Ikari. “I’d never lie about something like that.”

Rei doesn’t know quite what to think of that.

Perhaps it’s just a matter of time.