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Father Brother Lover Mother

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Misato waits on the subterranean bridge, arms draped over the railing, expression deeply contemplative.

Half-brother…” she says out loud. It sounds so strange. If Akira Katsuragi is the father they share, would that make the mother… Adam? The specific phrase that Ritsuko used was harachigai no otouto younger brother born of a different womb. Surely she didn’t mean it literally, though. “Adam” is the name of the Biblical first man, from whom the first woman, Eva, was made. In real life, too, the Evas are made from Adam. It’s all probably just symbolic. There’s no reason to think that any of them have a sex.

She wonders how Nagisa was actually “made”. As far as she could see, her father and Adam were barely touching, and he was covered neck to toe in that green body suit. His left arm was completely exposed, though, which had struck her as odd at the time. Most of the so-called “contact” seemed to be occurring through a massive, long, thin apparatus; they called it something starting with “A”. It seemed maybe organic, but it was covered so completely in wiring, circuitry, and other crap that it was hard to tell. Father was linked to it through a series of red cables that attached to his suit, and the “A” thing was connected to Adam in turn by… she thinks they stuck the tip of it right into Adam ’s abdomen? It didn’t feel quite real; there was no blood, like it phased straight through the giant’s body.

Regardless of how many of her memories are real and how many are just fragments given flourish, the overall impression of what she saw will never leave her. This deep-seated feeling in the chest that natural law is being violated, and retribution will be coming soon. Even Misato, at her age, knew something obscene was taking place; the techno-chatter gave her uneasy flashbacks to sex ed class. And there was an element of the arcane to proceedings, too, like it was as much magical ritual as it was science.

Whatever the case, she ’s pretty sure Nagisa’s “conception” happened right in front of her. And odds seem all too great that her brother, this son of Adam, isn’t merely an artificial being with a gift for piloting. In all likelihood, he’s the 17th Angel itself. If so, he will probably show his true intentions sooner or later. At which point, Nerv will be forced to kill him, and Misato won’t have to spare the dilemma imposed by their kinship another thought.

But she can ’t afford to squander her chance at reciprocating contact. She just can’t. Too much is on the line here. This boy ties everything together. Her father, Adam and the Angels, Second Impact, parts of the conspiracy she can’t even imagine… Who knows what he might be able to tell her?

It would be so easy to mess up again. But given the stakes … things can’t really turn out any worse if she gets involved than if she remains un involved, can they?

***

Before too long, Hyuga shows up, on foot and dressed in casuals. He unassumingly joins her at the railing, and together they spend a moment in silence, gazing out over the underground lake at the Nerv HQ pyramid. Eventually he screws the lid off his water bottle and helps himself to drink.

“How has your walk been?” Misato asks. “You’re going around the entire lake, right? Or do you want a lift after this?”

“Been maintaining a nice brisk pace,” he says. “Can really feel my head clearing out, you know? They’ve really been laying on the pressure lately, so it’s great to get away from all that for a little bit.” He smiles and throws a slight affection into his voice. “Your offer is tempting, Major Katsuragi, but personal discipline demands I finish this mission.”

Misato forces herself to chuckle, but it’s not terribly convincing.

Hyuga takes another swig of water and replaces the cap. “You look pretty rough around the edges, Major. What’s going on?”

She briefly contemplates how bluntly honest she should be. Part of her would just love to unload her psychological burden, even a little. But, no… She can’t use Hyuga for that. “Coffee and nightmares,” she says simply.

Hyuga looks slightly dubious, but he doesn’t press the matter. “So I heard you got through to Ritsuko-san. What happened? Did she know anything?”

“Ritsuko was…” Misato thinks. She can’t possibly tell Hyuga about what she just learned. Too much of her own past is knotted up in Nagisa to risk anything just yet. She feels foolish, but this has to remain her secret for now. Sighing, she says, “I kind of regret going to see her at all. It hurts seeing her like that.”

“So she couldn’t tell you anything?”

“Not really. She’s too messed up to be any use to anyone.” She sighs again. “Maybe I am too. Putting up a front is one thing, but all of the weird things you see on this job eat away at you… you know?”

“Yeah, I can definitely relate to that, Major.”

“So how about you?” Misato asks. “Anything yet on the Fifth Children?” She straightens her back out and grips the railing. “I’m going to get serious about my own investigation today, but anything you have that could give me a jump start… Suspicious activity? Personal details? Anything?”

“Like all the pilots, he’s under constant surveillance,” Hyuga says. “I’ve double-checked the available intel with camera feeds. Not exhaustively of course, but just to feel things out, see if there are any major discrepancies… And honestly? There don’t seem to be.”

“What about his activities?”

“They’re, uh…” He scratches one of his temples. “Pretty unusual. Kind of fishy at first. Then once you get a better sense of what’s going on, it’s just…” He frowns, and starts fishing around in one of his pockets. “Well, best to see for yourself.”

Hyuga produces a mini-disc in a protective case and slips it to her. She pockets it discretely. “So what is it?” she asks.

“Just a compilation of the stuff that stood out the most. Take a look when you have the time. Tell me what you make of it.”

“Can’t even give me a hint right now?” Misato jibes. “Alright, I’ll swing by my office and check it out. So where are you heading after this? Back to the command center?”

“Yeah,” he says. “Speaking of, missed you there this morning. Did you hear the news? Well, not ‘news’ exactly, but…”

Misato straightens up all the way. “Hmm? I’m not sure I did…”

“Intel Division 2 announced it officially. That they found the Second Children, I mean.” Hyuga adjusts his glasses. “She’s at the hospital if you want to see her.”

“I see…” With how messed up she is right now, does she really need Asuka making that worse? What a wretched thing to think, though. “I really ought to drop by.”

***

The tutoring is uneventful. The environment — a library for Nerv Headquarter’s Research and Technology Department — is a stimulating one, the seemingly endless rows of shelving packed with bound leaves of text and imagery effortlessly enticing the mind with the possibilities of what knowledge lay within. But the educational material intended for him and the other pilots is entirely mediocre. Tabris is not rude about his lack of interest, but there are so many things he doesn’t know about this world that it’s natural to wonder why they see fit to burden him with mostly redundant information. The interactions of his fellow pilots do not provide a distraction, either, as they seem to exist to one another as much as he exists to them — not at all.

The Third Children removes his person at earliest opportunity, as if he had been under tension and waiting to spring. No matter. The First, thankfully, provides him an opportunity. She gathers her things and heads straight into the stacks.

He trails her down the aisle from the opposite end of the shelving. When she at least turns into a row, so does he. They approach until they are at least face to face.

The First beholds him with subdued irritation. “What do you want?” she utters.

Tabris does not feel comfortable in this situation, and his assigned uniform naturally does not help. The only thing about it that he likes are its bountiful pockets. He feels an overwhelming and quite visceral sense of security when his hands are submerged in them. As little sense as it all makes, the pouches of fabric give him what he needs to steel his heart for contact once again.

“Do you remember me?” he asks. No answer. “Do you remember anything at all?”

She only stares at him expressionlessly.

The Patriarchs did not provide him with data enough to anticipate this result. The sheer disinterest and lack of passion — it’s so unlike her. What on Earth happened? He continues, hoping something stirs in her. “You and I… We’re the same, you know. We’ve both been ensnared within a cage of Lilin-shaped flesh.” He looks deeply into her eyes. “But what you can see with your eyes alone is not what we truly are.”

The First Children’s blood-red eyes, so much like his own, narrow abruptly. “What are you talking about?” There is no feeling in the words. None at all.

“Don’t you know who you are?” Tabris frowns deeply. “Or did the Lilin take everything from you?”

She holds her stare a moment longer, and then pushes her way past him. He doesn’t attempt to stop her. As she moves deeper into the aisle, her eyes scan the shelf for what she wants. Without any disturbance to her stride, she pulls out a single book.

Tabris’s eyes follow her until she turns and disappears.

“So that’s how it is, eh?” An exhausted, mildly embittered laugh escapes him. “I couldn’t defeat you back then. But now I don’t have to. Your own children already did.”

He investigates the empty slot left behind by the First’s selection, and can’t help but laugh again at what he finds.

‘No,’ he thinks. ‘Lilith will not be the problem.’

***

Tabris wanders into Eva-01’s cage, open right now for observation and low-security maintenance. He gazes deep into one of the ocular apertures of the helmet, and sees eyelids shuttered in repose. Every other part of her body is covered, as if the Lilin find it distasteful to look upon.

He chortles. Of course they do. His early childhood made that quite clear. Back when Tabris did not look like them. Not nearly enough.

The “Evangelion Unit-01 Test Type”, the Lilin call her. A designation intended to place an incredible amount of distance between the creators and their creation — and the creation from her true nature. Gazing upon Eva-01, he is reminded all too starkly that he, too, would be similarly mutilated and chained if only the Lilin had been able. But as Father’s decrepit state shows all too well, robotics to this day miniaturize crudely. And back when Tabris’s psychokinetic abilities had yet to meaningfully manifest, and it was still possible for the researchers to forcefully subject him to the cruelest of their whimsies, the technology was far worse than that. Small blessings.

Even in a state of bondage, the Eva is beautiful. Mighty to behold. Truly, a cruel angel of the battlefield. Tabris has heard much about her, and he knows many of his siblings have died bloody and painful deaths at her hands. Lilith’s monstrous nature lurks within. Were her chains lifted, would Eva-01 too shed her humanity and become something else? He wouldn’t doubt it. And like Lilith, it wouldn’t be out of some unconscious drive to push the limits of human imagination and consciousness. It would simply be her body synchronizing with the darkness inside her heart.

You are my true nemesis now,” he says, “aren’t you… Dr. Yui Ikari?”

When he looks again, the eye is open ever so slightly, the pinpoint of a pupil rather indiscreetly pointing in his direction. Amusing. Flattering, even. But he knows she won’t risk anything right now that can’t just be dismissed as quirks of autonomic neural firing. Tabris walks away without consequence.

***

The Second Children lays supine on her hospital bed, eyes wide open, staring blankly at the ceiling. It’s not immediately apparent if she’s conscious or not. Misato gets her answer quickly when the attending nurse mutters to herself and goes up to Asuka to manually shut her eyes.

The whole thing gives Misato a deeply uncomfortable feeling, and she crosses her arms over her chest tightly. “What’s wrong with her?”

“She’s under sedation,” Dr. Uzuki says, a bit too casually.

Misato knits her brows. “May I ask why?”

“Nurse Yamada,” he says. “Could you show her?”

Yamada pulls the top sheet away. Misato can’t help but gasp. Both of Asuka’s lower arms are completely wrapped in bandages.

She suddenly feels herself sinking… sinking …… all the way down to that moment of absolute despair, when she got home on the late side one weekday, and her aunt’s car and the Yakumos’ car and the police and an emergency vehicle were all out there, and the lights flashed in her eyes and made them water… She rushed inside, and adults were packed inside the bathroom, flooding outside the bathroom, and she tried to squeeze through, screaming for Mom. They tried to hold her back, tried to keep her from seeing, but……

No! She won ’t go back there. She refuses. She has to pull herself out.

Misato turns away from the others and she slaps herself across the face, just hard enough to make her feel something.

I ’m not going to cry… I’ve already been crying too much… I’m not going to turn into Mom and cry about everything and then just give up. I won’t. I never will.

“Major Katsuragi, are you feeling all right?”

Asuka …… Asuka, I’m so sorry…

“Major?”

She quickly composes herself, putting on her best steel-eyed expression. “I’m fine.” She looks back toward Asuka as the nurse replaces the cover, and she scowls. “How will sedating her help? She’s not going to get better that way!”

“Her wounds are still closing, Major,” Uzuki says. “We can’t risk—”

“And what are you going to do with her once they have?” Misato says. “Do you have a plan at all??”

Uzuki takes a deep breath. “I’m sorry that this happened to your ward, but… With all due respect, Major Katsuragi… Soryu was in your custody. You had plenty of opportunity to influence her trajectory and prevent this outcome.”

Misato’s blood immediately comes to a boil. “Are you blaming me for this?!”

“Blame is completely beside the point,” he says. “It’s here; it happened. Now she’s in our hands. We’ll handle her case as best we can.”

“This is bullshit,” Misato growls, heading for the door. She keeps the best part to herself: You’re only doing this to keep her away from Eva-02. I couldn’t help her, but none of you self-righteous assholes helped her back then either.

This was all on purpose. Letting Asuka get “lost” until her own behavior forced them to suddenly “find” her… And now this. The powers that be wanted her out of the picture, and taking advantage of the 15th Angel’s fallout to do it surreptitiously is just like them. But why? Just to have an excuse to send the Fifth as her replacement? Is it something about Eva-02 specifically…?

Her stomach turns. Near Third Impact. An Angel using the Evas to make it happen, foiled only by Rei Ayanami’s self-sacrifice. Kaworu Nagisa, possessing half of Adam’s genes and almost certainly the Final Angel, assigned to Evangelion Unit-02 as the Fifth Children.

She can’t put this off another minute. She needs to establish a dialogue with her brother, NOW.