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Mechanical Refrain

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Ayanami Rei did not dream.

Once more she sat in the entry plug of Evangelion Unit-00. She was a part of it, and she could not exist without it. She had been created for it. What pain it felt she felt.

LCL filled the entry plug, invading her lungs. The smell of blood, the taste of blood - she had been bathed in blood since the moment she had come into being. Her own blood was not her own, and never had been. She lived on the blood of others, and had lost more blood than humanly possible.

But she was not human. Human beings could truly die, after all. If she died, she would be replaced.

She gripped the controls and inhaled a deep breath of LCL. A soul lingered in Unit-00, a fragment of her own artificial soul, or the soul of her first death. She couldn't tell, but it didn't matter. It was full of loneliness and bitterness, emotions she had no need for. She had no need for any human emotions - she only knew pain and a desire for the end.

When Unit-00's arm was torn off, it bled and her own arm hurt as well. When Unit-00's eye was pierced, her own eyes bled as well. When Unit-00 burned, her own body burned as well.

When Unit-00 went berserk, her own mind was separated from herself.

Ayanami Rei did not scream. Her existence was grounded in pain. She would fight until the world came to an end.

When this world ended, there would be no more replacements for her.

However, as long as Unit-00 existed, she was forced to exist as well.

Her hands melded into the controls, and electric wires entangled her wrists. If she could not exist without Unit-00, why were they separate beings?

When she moved, Unit-00 moved with her. But she was not the one in control.

Her blood went cold as wires pierced her flesh. Her feet and legs had already become mechanical, and she could no longer move them. The skin was pulled away from the bone and replaced by solid, rigid mechanical parts. Her lower body was a part of Unit-00 now, and it had no need for borrowed human blood.

There was no pain as her body became cold and mechanical. Her nerves had hardened as their organic material had been overtaken by inorganic mechanical material. If she truly became a part of Unit-00, she would feel no more pain, and if Unit-00 were destroyed by an Angel, her soul would finally cease to be.

It also meant she would never see Ikari Shinji again.

She jerked back, but her hands would not move. The only sounds that filled her ears were her breathing and her heartbeat, but both were stifled by the LCL. She was still alive, if only for a little longer.

The thick wires siphoned her blood and dark, gleaning mechanical parts encroached on her body. They bit into her skin, eating away at muscle and bone. She felt her bones being broken down into miniscue pieces as her muscles and flesh hardened, but she felt no pain. Wires replaced her veins, weaving through her body, and cold electricity replaced her blood. Soon her arms and half her torso were completely mechanical.

She leaned her head back as blood trickled from her mouth, contaminating the LCL. It was darker now, and black specks floated in the liquid. How long had she been in Unit-00 if the LCL had already deteriorated this much?

As her lungs were eaten away by her increasingly mechanical body, she could no longer breathe, and it grew harder to keep her eyes open. Her body was stiff like a corpse, and she was deathly cold. All she could feel now were the last beats of her heart as it was squeezed by mechanical hands. But her heart did not become mechanical - it simply stopped.

Born from forbidden technology, the Evangelions were organic machines, and while one created for an Eva Unit had no need for flesh and blood, her "core" would remain organic, a lasting sign of her artificial humanity. Everything else would be mechanical, and if the pilot couldn't feel pain, then Unit-00 could keep fighting. She was no different than the dummy system.

She closed her eyes for a moment, and when they opened again, everything was tinted red. She heard a faint whirling sound in her head, like the sound of moving machinery. She felt no pain, no warmth or coldness. She did not even feel the LCL that enclosed her.

Until the end of the world, she would exist only as an extension of Unit-00.

Ayanami Rei awoke.

Above her was the dark ceiling of her apartment. She raised her arm, and it was the same as ever, blue veins visible beneath her pale skin.

She laid her other hand over her heart. It still beat. So she was alive, separate from Unit-00. But she was cold, and the feeling of being enclosed in a mechanical form still lingered.

Her eyes grew moist, and she did not know why.