Part 31: Might and Sacrifice

To say that the next week and a half went poorly would be something of an understatement. Asuka was increasingly hostile to everyone at school and work, Rei was even worse than before in regards to her disinterest in everyone but her tiny group of friends and coworkers. Rit-chan was doing her best to keep the peace, as was Hikari. As each day passed, the tension got worse and worse. Even the elf hunter was beginning to suffer from the absence of the Third Child.

Hikari silently gasped and leaned back against the wall, panting as quietly as possible as she pulled her soaked hand away from her groin. Damn it all! This just isn't doing it! Thought the Inchou irritably. She had been masturbating once a day for the last week, and it still wasn't relaxing her like it used to. The orgasms were nice, but since she had had sex with Shinji, they were pale imitations of that. Feeling only a bit less stressed, the girl pulled her panties back up, checked her dress, and stepped out to wash her hands.

Rei could certainly sympathize with her. Two stalls down, the silent girl was unsatisfied with her own stress relief. She had entered the bathroom after Hikari, and taken a stall a bit closer to the door than the brown-haired girl. Her sharp hearing had picked up on Hikari's activities as she had sought some relief from her enforced Shinji abstinence. The First Child frowned as her own orgasm failed to measure up to those she had had with her lover. This is unacceptable. I must be one with Shinji again soon, or I will be most unhappy. Thought the girl as she settled her clothes and stepped to the sink to wash her hands as Hikari exited the bathroom.

On the roof, Asuka was eating her lunch and trying her dimmest to ignore the warm, tingling sensation that had plagued her groin for the past week and more. To find some relief from her…well, horniness, she admitted, she had taken to relieving her tension daily; sometimes twice daily. Still, it wasn't doing more than delaying her frustration. Sitting beside her, Rit-chan was in similar straits.

Damn it all! She thought irritably. I have never had this much trouble keeping my hormones in line. Shit! Twice today, and I'm still horny! God, what would my crew have to say if they knew that? The thought of her old crew at her real school was a bit calming, and it allowed the elf hunter to complete the day without having to resort to more `relief'.

-

Misato idly scratched her arm as she sat at her desk at NERV HQ. Eleven days had been more than she could take, and today she had simply gone in to NERV. Her desk was covered with paperwork, and there was a million things to do, but her mind kept coming back to one subject: her Shinji, who - according to her faithful Hyuga - was still in lockup. Her Shinji had been in there since he had been talked down by the girls.

I wonder if he regrets exiting the Eva? He had to of known that he would be disciplined for his actions, yet he listened to them. God. Where was I when he needed me the most? I was buried under about fifteen tons of concrete and debris, that's where! Misato rubbed the bridge of her nose, attempting to relieve the headache she felt coming on. Reaching into her desk drawer, she cast about a bit before finding her small tin of various pills. Sifting through them, she found herself some of Ritsu's headache medicine and tossed four of them back. Dropping her tin back into her drawer, she leaned back in her chair. I have to see him.

-

Shinji sat silent and still on the very minimal cot in his high-security cell. He was sitting on his cot, legs tucked under him, eyes closed, leaning against the cold supercrete walls. What was going on in his mind was anyone's guess, and he never showed any reaction to anyone. Not even the Commander when he had visited the cage of his rebellious son five days after his aborted revenge. Now, a guard approached and unlocked the cell, the door sliding open as the man stepped into the cell. Shinji didn't even open his eyes until the guard tossed a pair of heavy handcuffs onto his cot.

"On your feet, Third. You've been ordered to the Commander's office to face court martial for your actions." Barked the guard. The man's hard disposition hid his fear of the boy. His unit was acting so crazy lately that he was sure the purple and green nightmare of the angels would be bursting thought the wall at any second. Shinji opened his eyes and looked at the guard. The man swallowed when he saw the look in Shinji's eyes. Talk about fucking spooky! He's got the same dead stare as that Ayanami bitch! Wordlessly, Shinji stood and slipped on the handcuffs.

-

Misato was in the cafeteria, trying to work up an appetite when Hyuga came running into the room, desperately looking for her. "Major!" called the tech, waving at her. Misato made her way to him, curious about his excitement.

"What is it, Hyuga?" asked Misato expectantly. Hyuga tugged on her jacket sleeve and she followed him into the hall. "Damn it! This better be good." She growled when the two were about halfway down the hall.

"It is, ma'am!" assured Hyuga intensely. Leaning closer to her, he whispered into her ear. "Shinji's been taken to the Commander's office to be court marshaled!"

"What?! Without council or his immediate superior to witness?" demanded the woman, livid at the notion of no one being there to defend her Shinji. Turning on her heel, she stalked to the Commander's office.

"Major! Wait a minute!" begged Hyuga.

"Hyuga! Find Airi and that miserable excuse for a man called Kaji and tell them to get to the Commander's office right goddamn NOW!" she ordered, dismissing him from her mind.

-

"Disobeying direct orders, unlawful use of an Eva for personal use, attempted murder of a superior, gross insubordination…need I go on?" intoned Gendo from behind his massive desk. Perched at his shoulder was the Vice Commander, as always. In front of the massive, intimidating desk stood Shinji, staring strait ahead, hands cuffed in front of him. "Do you have anything to say, Pilot?" No answer was forthcoming from the teen.

"Very well. Pilot Ikari, you will apologize to the bridge crew for…" began Gendo.

"No." said the boy softly, but with a steel tone.

"Do you have something to say now, Pilot?" said Gendo levelly.

"I will not apologize for anything, Commander." Spat the teen.

"You will do as you are ordered, or you will be stripped of your status and sent back to where you came from." Directed Gendo.

"No." came Shinji's answer.

"You are imminently replaceable, Pilot." Noted Gendo. "I can have Rei assigned to pilot Unit 1." Unexpectedly, Shinji smiled at the man. It wasn't a pleasant smile.

"I am Unit 1's pilot. Me, and no one else." Said the boy, his tone oddly certain.

"You do not decide that, Third." Stated Gendo.

"Try me and see." Smiled Shinji. His smile was more of a rictus than a smile.

"Very well." Said Gendo flatly. Touching his terminal, he opened his office door. Instead of the usual Section 2 goons, Misato, Airi and Kaji marched into the room.

"Sir! Shinji should have council…" began Misato.

"The matter is closed, Major." Said Gendo coldly.

"Sir, the UCMJ states…" she tried again.

"That will be enough, Major." Came Gendo's blatant threat. Misato gritted her teeth. "This person is forthwith stripped of all status and his association with NERV is terminated. He is to be escorted from here to the train station, where a ticket is waiting to return this failure to where he came from." Stated Gendo.

Misato's mouth opened to curse him, but before she could, Shinji spoke. "It's ok, Misato." He said softly, turning to look at her. Misato felt tears in her eyes. Damn it all, I won't loose my Shinji! She vowed.

"You have your orders, Major." Said Gendo as two Section 2 goons stepped up and took Shinji's arms.

"No last words for you father, Shinji?" asked Kaji as the boy was pushed past him.

"I have no father." Said Shinji flatly as he was passing through the door to the Commander's office.

"Major, you are to inform Doctor Akagi that Rei is now the designated pilot for Unit 1. Have her load the appropriate data into the unit." Said Gendo. Misato had to bend her entire will to simply saluting and exiting the office. Airi and Kaji had both chosen to flank her to make sure she didn't do something like shoot the fucker. As the three rode down the elevator, Misato's face took on a positively cruel smile.

"Well, I guess he hasn't read the latest report about Unit 1, now has he?" she purred.

-

With two hours to go before the end of school, Rei's phone chirped, signaling a text message. Several people watched the girl remove her phone and check the screen. "No." she said softly, her lips tightening a bit.

"'No', what?" hissed Asuka. Rei ignored her, punching buttons on her phone. Apparently, she didn't get what she wanted. Standing, she grabbed her bag and turned toward the door.

"Rei! What are you doing?" hissed Hikari. Once more, there was no reaction. Asuka jumped to her feet and grabbed the First as she passed her desk.

"Where do you think you're going, Wondergirl?" growled the German.

"Miss Sohryu, Miss Ayanami, if you can't pay attention in class, then…" interrupted the teacher. He really shouldn't have done that.

"SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH, YOU DRIED UP OLD FOSSIL!" roared Asuka so loudly that the teacher jerked in surprise. Shocked silence filled the room. Asuka's furious gaze found Rei's. "What did that message say, Wondergirl?!"

"Shinji has been…" began Rei, only to be interrupted by the Angel alarm sirens. Simultaneously, both cell phones rang.

-

Asuka sat in Unit 2, twin Pallet rifles ready as she watched the roof of the Geofront. "Come to Asuka, sucker." She purred. With Shinji having been expelled from NERV, she was the only real chance they had. Her unit was repaired, while Rei's unit was still short an arm. Besides, she was the best pilot, after all. A massive explosion rocked the Geofront and she got her first glimpse of the new Angel. "Eat this!" she roared, triggering both guns.

-

Gendo gritted his teeth as Unit 1 once more went inert. "Sir, dummy plug is completely refused!" called out Maya. Damn it all! Why isn't she accepting the dummy plug? Seethed Gendo.

"Rei, you will pilot Unit 1." He ordered.

"Hai." Said Rei flatly, jogging to the entry plug. Within moments, she was inserted into Unit 1. As the plug filled with LCL, she tried to calm her chaotic thoughts. The synch caught her off guard, as did the hostile feel of Unit 1's core. She felt herself try to throw up from the sheer pressure on her mind from the Unit. Her plug went blank.

"No good! The Unit's refusing the connection!" cried Akagi in exasperation.

"It's ok. I'll go in Unit 0." Said Rei. She sounded weak and nauseous. "If I die, I can be replaced." She added, triggering the ejection for the plug. She swiftly ran to where her cyclopedic Unit stood silently. Gendo stood and made for the cage where the temperamental unit waited.

-

"Why won't you die?!" screamed Asuka as she tossed the empty rifles away and grabbed a fresh set of rocket launchers. "I'm neutralizing your AT Field, aren't I?!" She opened fire with her new weapons. Serenely, the angel settled to the ground, thin, papery arms dropped down.

-

Shinji sat silent in the shelter. The two goons had gotten him to the station before the Angel alarms had sounded, but they had been forced to take shelter as the Angel attacked. Right now, they were in a recessed shelter, awaiting the all-clear. I hope Asuka and Rei are all right. He thought. His musing was cut short by a massive impact and falling debris. When the dust cleared, he was looking at a sight he would never forget. That's…that's…! Unit 2's severed head stared back at him. Shinji felt nothing but rage.

-

"We got her synch shut down in time, Major!" yelled Maya, slumping a bit. Who knew she'd try to kamikaze that thing with her arms cut off?

"What's her status?" demanded Misato.

"She's alive, but Unit 2 is out of commission." Reported Hyuga.

"Which means we're fucked." She translated. Shinji, we need you!

"Major! Unit 0 is engaging the Angel!" yelled Aoba.

"What?! She's still missing her left arm!" yelled Misato. On the screen, she saw Unit 0 sprinting toward the angel, who turned to face it. Held like a football was an N2 mine.

"Rei! No!" screamed Misato over the comm. line. It was too late; Rei had already engaged her AT Field and was shoving the bomb into the angel's face.

"AT Field maximum strength." Was all the bridge crew heard before the massive bomb blew.

-

Shinji picked himself up and stared at the massive cloud of smoke that had been Unit 0. He had paused to stare in fascination at Unit 2's armless, headless hulk when he saw Rei's Unit rise up, N2 bomb in hand. That sight, and the knowledge that she was going to try to blow up the Angel at any cost broke him free of his trance and sent him sprinting for NERV's Cages.

When he got there, he saw Unit 1, sitting quietly. Waiting for her pilot. In front of the Unit, Gendo was standing in impotent rage. "I am her only pilot, Commander." Snarled Shinji, running past him. "I told you that before." He added, vaulting into the entry plug. Even before the plug was fully seated, Unit 1's eyes lit up and it began to move.

"Why? Why is it that you will do this for him?" asked Gendo. For a moment, the monitors on the Cage's station flashed, and a picture of Shinji danced on them. Unit 1 didn't bother to run toward the lift access.

-

This is how it ends. Thought Misato as the giant form of the Angel smashed through the front wall of the bridge. Sorry, Father. I guess we just couldn't get them after all. She thought, seeing the creature's eyes light up in preparation for a devastatingly powerful energy blast. "Bye, Shinji." She said softly, waiting for the end.

It was an end that never came. A split second before the blast, the wall to the side of the bridge exploded and a purple and green arm drove it's fist into the Angel's face, knocking it back and extinguishing the glowing eyes. "Unit 1? Shinji!!" yelled Misato. Unit 1 grabbed the Angel and shoved it through the wall into the catapult staging area, where it proceeded to throw the Angel and ass-kicking party. Punching, kicking and pulling, Unit 1 was hot to draw blood. In it's zeal to inflict pain on the angel, it allowed the angel to charge up it's eye-blasts again, it's left arm being blown off at the bicep.

That only made the Unit madder. Sinking his fingers into the face of the angel, Shinji tore the Angel up and threw it against the far wall, charging after it to slam it into the wall. "Misato!" screamed Shinji over the comm. unit.

"Fire cat 5! Straight up the line!" ordered Misato. Hyuga hit the commands and the platform shot skyward, Shinji holding the angel's face to the wall as it did so. Without the command to stop, the platform launched right into the air, along with the Eva and the Angel. Twisting in midair, Shinji landed on top of the angel and began to pound it some more.

-

Misato and the bridge crew cleared the entrance to see Shinji pounding on the angel before trying to tear it's face off. Maya had her portable MAGI terminal with her, so she could monitor the Eva and Pilot. "Oh no!" she gasped. "Unit 1 is…"

"Out of power." Finished Akagi, seeing the monster slump forward. The Angel pushed the unit off it and climbed to it's feet, turning to face the motionless monster. Fire flashed from it's eyes and the chest of Unit 1 exploded from a direct hit from the powerful beam cannon. As the smoke cleared, Misato saw a pulsing red core in the center of the Unit's chest. Is that a core?! She wondered.

The Angel began to pound on the core with it's molecular edge arms, trying to break it up. Still there was no reply from Unit 1. Misato found herself trying to will Shinji's unit back to life. Come on, Shinji. You can do this! I know you can!

-

Cracks appeared in his entry plug as Shinji desperately tried to get his unit to activate. "Come on!" he yelled at it. "Come on already! I'm sick of this! They're all going to die if I can't kill this thing!" Desperately, he tried one more time. "Move, you stinking monster!" As it had the time before, his entire world went pitch black except for a pulsing blue flame in front of him. Mother?

-

"Unit 1 activated!" screamed Maya. Misato looked and saw that her Shinji's unit's eyes were lit up. Even as the Angel shoved its hands at the Eva again, Unit 1 just raised it's hand, the fingers cutting through the arm like it was tissue. Grabbing a handful, Unit 1 jerked the angel into itself, panting face to face as it began to growl. A hard kick sent the angel flying backward, it's arm tearing off. Unit 1 stood, holding the tissue to it's severed arm.

"Impossible!" gasped Maya. Turning to Akagi, she yelled "How can Shinji's synch ratio be over 400%?!" Everyone froze at that. Misato just gaped at the Eva as the Angel tissue bubbled, then reformed into a very human looking arm. Unit 1 roared and crouched over, approaching the angel like some sort of animal. A desperate attempt by the angel to use it's AT Field was brushed aside almost contemptuously by Unit 1, who then shocked them all by dismembering the angel and eating part of it. As Maya vomited from the gory spectacle, Unit 1 paused, standing still for a moment. Slowly the Unit straightened, then it roared again, and the armor plates began to pop off of it.

"She's awake now." Gasped Akagi. "She's awake and free of her bonds."

"What do you mean?" demanded Misato.

"Those aren't just plates of armor. They are the means that allow us to control the power of an Eva unit." Muttered Akagi. "And now, she's cut her control strings."