Fear

Boiling and Churning

Shin Seiki Evangelion was created by Hideki Anno, and is owned by Gainax.

Mythos elements were created by H. P. Lovecraft and owned by Arkham Publishing. Byatis was created by Robert Bloch. Ithaqua and Cthugha created by August Derleth. Summanus, Mnomquah and Cthylla created by Brian Lumley. Ythogtha was created by Lin Carter. Mordiggian created by Clarke Ashton Smith. Cyäegha was created by Eddy C. Burtin.

Use of the characters and situations therein are not intended as any challenge of their copyrights.

Toji stared at the computer screen in disbelief.

"You can see that by the time EVA-01 destroyed her...she wasn't your sister anymore."

He shuddered, and choked down the urge to vomit. "How...how could this happen?"

"The Old One Ythogtha inhabited her body from the Dreamlands. He attempted to use her to destroy Tokyo-3."

Toji clenched his eyes shut. "I can't...I can't watch this anymore."

Fuyutsuki stepped a bit closer to the boy, and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Do you want vengeance?"

"Of course!" He scowled. "That's what I was tryin' ta do when your goons arrested me!"

"I can help you get revenge. Against the Old Ones."

"How?"

Fuyutsuki smiled. "How would you like to become a Pilot?"

Fear

Eleven: Boiling And Churning

"Sync rate is still not optimal, Asuka, but you've come a long way in the last two weeks."

Asuka tapped her wrist control, and her suit deflated. "Shinji has helped me a lot."

"That must have hurt," snickered Ritsuko.

Asuka looked down. "He's...doing all right. He's training me to clear my mind, to not fight Nigoki."

"Good."

"Has there been any word about...Kaji?"

Ritsuko sighed. "I've managed to get some information from the Commander. Technically, I could be shot for telling you this."

"I won't breathe a word to anyone!" Asuka looked up at the synthetic blonde, her eyes pleading. "What do you know?"

"Last week, a NERV facility exploded." Ritsuko looked down. "Unit Three was destroyed, its pilot was killed. Kaji had gone to the base to arrange transportation for Unit Three to this facility."

"No!" Asuka looked horrified. "He can't be dead!"

"His body hasn't been found. For all we know, he survived, and escaped to the desert. But there's been no word from him since the explosion."

"He can survive a desert! Even the American Desert!" Asuka grinned, a bit maniacally. "You'll see! He'll walk out of there like he was just strolling through the garden!"

Ritsuko sighed. "I hope you're right. And not just for your sake."

"What about the pilot and the EVA? Can they replace them?"

"Not easily. We had an EVA almost finished in Japan. We put the rush on it once we found out that EVA Three was destroyed. DAGON has submitted a new Pilot, as well." Ritsuko frowned. "I'm not really thrilled with the idea, and I'm not certain we're right to rush the EVA, but we're to start sync tests three days from now."

"Who's the new Dreamer?"

"A classmate of yours. Suzuhara Toji."

"Toji?" Shinji looked stunned. "Are you sure that that's wise?"

"Why?" Misato shrugged. "DAGON gave us his name."

"Did you forget about him trying to kill me?"

"Can't you forgive and forget?"

Shinji paused. "Yes. I can. Rather easily, actually, since he had what he thought was a very good reason to kill me. But I can't believe that the security guards would agree to this."

"They don't make the decisions."

"Or, for that matter, my father." Shinji scowled. "If Toji snaps and kills me, I won't be able to pilot."

Misato frowned. "You know, your father has been trying his best to bury the hatchet—"

"Only to get better control over me." Shinji glanced over at Rei. "What do you think about this?"

Rei lowered her book, and said, "Suzuhara is not a Dreamer. I do not think he can become one. I believe that he will be a poor pilot."

"Well, Shinji, if Rei thinks he's numb, then he probably is." Misato frowned. "I don't envy you your job."

"...Job?" Shinji raised his hands. "No way. I can't train him."

"But you've done such a great job with Rei and Asuka."

"They don't want to kill me!"

"At least, not today," added Rei.

Shinji rolled his eyes, then continued. "I really think it would be a bad idea for me to train him." He considered, then said, "Rei is our number two pilot; it's not her fault that Zerogoki is our least effective EVA. I think she should train him."

Misato raised her eyebrows, then glanced over at the albino girl. "Well?"

"I believe that training Suzuhara will be wasted effort," said Rei. "But if Shinji asks, I shall train him." She raised her book again.

Toji stared at himself in the mirror.

The plugsuit did not flatter a male form, but that was the least of his worries. He'd seen the sort of nightmares that the EVA fought. Aida had gone completely insane, just like Chouko...the last time he'd seen him, he'd been staring blankly at the ceiling.

He'd seen the sort of nightmares that the EVA were. Under the armour, they were just as horrifying as the monsters they fought.

And now they were going to put one at his command.

Fuyutsuki entered the room, followed by a doctor. "Before the activation, we are going to need to give you some medication. This has to be done at least forty-eight hours before activation. Will you follow us, please?"

Toji nodded, and turned to follow the other two men.

They led him down the corridor, to an elevator. Fuyutsuki pulled a key out of his jacket, and switched on the lowermost bank of buttons. The elevator door closed behind them, and his stomach protested as the cage dropped.

His stomach had been protesting for quite a few days now.

The elevator stopped, and the three walked down another long corridor, to a massive set of doors. Warning labels in six languages advised viewers that entry into this room was punishable by death. Toji glanced up at Fuyutsuki. "Should we really be going in there?"

Fuyutsuki smiled. "Don't worry about it. I'm second in command, and one of only three people authorized to come in here." He swiped his passcard, and the doors slowly opened.

Much of the room was dark, but a single spotlight ringed a hospital bed with light. The doctor indicated the bed. "Climb on."

Toji shrugged, and did so. The doctor began strapping his legs down.

"Whoa." Toji sat up. "What are you—"

"We can't risk dislodging the IVs." The doctor pushed him back down. "Now hold still. The sooner we can get this started, the sooner it will be over."

Toji lay back down, and tried to relax. The doctor finished strapping his legs, then did the same to his arms. A belt ran across his chest, and a smaller one across his forehead.

"Comfortable?"

"Nervous as hell." Toji grinned weakly. The doctor rolled up his sleeve, and rubbed the inside of his arm with an alcohol swab. Next, he ran a rubber tube around his arm, and flicked the skin with a finger. A vein popped up obligingly, and the doctor started an IV. A bag of some liquid—Toji guessed it must be plasma—was attached to the IV, and the doctor moved out of the pool of light.

"So what exactly does this medicine do?"

Fuyutsuki smiled tightly. "A mild alteration to your DNA, to allow you to sync more easily with the EVA."

The doctor returned, pushing a gurney. On the gurney was...Rei. Toji gaped. "I thought she could already pilot?"

"Oh, this is not the Rei that you know." Fuyutsuki shook his head. "This is a mindless clone of the girl."

"So why is she here?"

"Why...she's the medicine."

Toji watched with mounting horror, as the doctor added an IV to the arm of the clone, then ran its line to feed her blood into his own veins.

Shinji knocked on the bathroom door. "Asuka?"

There was no answer. He glanced around, but Misato and Rei had gone out for some reason he hadn't caught. He knocked again.

"Go away."

Asuka's voice sounded weak. He sighed, and said, "Something's bothering you. I want to talk with you about it."

"Go away!" There was more of the usual fire in her voice now. "I don't want to talk to you."

"Why not?"

"Because I promised I wouldn't!" She yelled this, and he flinched at the show of anger.

"Look, Asuka...whatever is wrong, I don't think you should keep it to yourself. Tell someone. If not me, then Misato, or even Rei."

"What makes you think there's anything wrong?"

"Because whenever you're upset about something, you go and hide in the bathroom." He glanced over to the laundry hamper, and added, "You're not in the tub, so you're probably sitting on the stool, rocking back and forth and feeling sorry for yourself."

"Are you taking telepathy lessons from the Droid?"

"I lived with her for months before you moved in." Shinji grinned. "After trying to read her, you're like an open book."

There was movement within, then the door opened, and Asuka glared at him. "So you're laughing at me. Is this supposed to make me feel better?"

"Actually, I'm not laughing at you." He stepped back, and to the side. "Come on. Let's go to the living room. You can grab a beer on the way there."

"I thought I was underage. That's what your fiancee keeps telling me."

"I won't tell Misato, and if she asks, I'll say it was part of your training."

You are so lonely.

Toji shook his head. "Who...?"

Your mother is gone. Your sister is gone. Your father is as good as gone.

"Who are you?"

I am your other half.

"Who-" He gasped. "Are you an Old One?"

I am the other half of what you shall become.

"Are you the EVA?"

Do you accept me?

He awoke, gasping. He was in a hospital bed. Sunlight streamed in the window, and he felt...good. Surprisingly good. He stood up, and stretched.

"Was it a nightmare?" He frowned, and scratched his head. "Did I just dream that they pumped me full of Rei's blood?" He stepped over to the mirror, and recoiled in shock.

His skin was pale, and his hair looked lighter...almost bleached. The most stunning change, though, were his eyes. They had gone red.

Just like hers.

Asuka stared down at her untouched beer. "Kaji was kinda like...like Misato is to you. My guardian. After Mutti died, he took me in. Treated me like his own daughter."

"And he could be dead." Shinji sighed. "I know how you feel. My dad—"

"You don't know!" Asuka scowled at him. "I didn't want him to treat me like his daughter. I wanted to be more!"

Shinji blinked.

"I've always loved him. Even before Mutti died, I loved him." She shook her head. "It's worrying me to death that he's...he might be gone."

"He sounds like a really great guy."

"He is. Handsome, charming, rugged, strong-willed...everything you're not." She looked down at her feet. "Shinji...do you think I'm...attractive?"

"I..." He blushed slightly, and looked away. "I suppose."

"You don't sound very certain."

"Well...I'm engaged to Rei. I don't think I should be looking—"

"I didn't ask you to look," she snapped. "But we both know you're a boy, and therefore a pervert! So you have been looking, whether you admit it or not!"

He flinched, and said, "Yes. You're a very attractive girl."

"God, you even say it the same way he does," she said bitterly. "And he never meant it. He'd always say that I was too young, that he wasn't good enough for me."

"Well, he kind of has a point, right?" Shinji shrugged. "He's the same age as Misato. What would you say if I was chasing Misato?"

"That you like your women top-heavy," smirked Asuka. Then sighed. "If you loved her, the way I love Kaji...I'd probably tease you about it. But I wouldn't mean it." She leaned back in the chair. "But you don't love anyone, do you?"

"I..." He looked down. "I don't know."

"What about the Droid?"

"Rei? I...I really don't know." He sighed. "I feel...like I should love her. I mean, we're engaged, right?"

"Ever talked to her about it?"

"No." He shook his head. "I know she doesn't want to be engaged to me. But..."

"Spineless wimp." She snorted.

Rei was preparing her bed. She wore the shirt, which Shinji had learned had belonged to his father, over her underwear, as she always did to sleep. At least, since she'd moved into his room.

"Why the shirt?"

She looked up, a trace of puzzlement on her face. "This shirt?" She tugged at it.

"Yes." He knelt down opposite her, looking at her across the two futons. "It's one of Father's, I know. But when you first moved to this apartment, you wore a t-shirt to bed instead."

"Would you prefer I wore the t-shirt?"

"I..." He blushed slightly; the t-shirt had done nothing to conceal her form. "I'm just asking...why do you wear that shirt, when you sleep in here?"

"I do not think it wise to discuss it." She looked down.

"All right." He glanced down at the futons. He'd left almost a foot of space between them, when she'd first moved into his room, and now they were close enough to touch along the edges. Any closer, and she might just as well roll hers up and sleep in his, with him. She ended up there often enough, as it was.

"What...what do you think about us being engaged?"

It had taken far more effort to ask than he had expected. She glanced up again, and he was dismayed to see the mask slip in place.

"It is a matter of orders, and I shall obey."

"Rei." He leaned forward. "Forget orders. What do you really think?"

The mask crumbled, and he saw the fear rise up in her eyes.

"Don't be afraid, Rei." He was speaking nearly in a whisper. "No matter what your answer is, I won't be angry."

"I..." She looked down again. "I do not know. I do not object to it, not any more, but..." She shook her head. "I do not know what to feel."

They sat in silence for a moment, then Rei fingered the top button of the shirt.

"Your father raised me." She undid the top button, her fingers shaking. "He taught me that to show emotion is weakness." Her fingers moved down to the next button. "He...reinforced that emotion is weakness." The third button opened next, her hands shaking more. "I wear this shirt to remind myself of that." The fourth button snapped off, her twitching hands unable to unbutton it properly. "I do not want to give him any reason to punish me." She tore the fifth button off, not bothering to even try undoing it, and pulled off the shirt. She wore nothing beneath it, but he could not tear his eyes away from her face. She stood, and pulled t-shirt out of her dresser, and slipped it on. Then turned back to him.

"It is late. Unit Four will be activated tomorrow. We should sleep."

"Release me!"

She grabbed the uniformed man's wrist, and bent it backward until the bone cracked. A second guard tackled her about the waist; she brought her fist down on his head, caving his skull in and dropping him lifeless to the ground. She turned and ran towards the water.

"Mommy!" Shinji twisted in his father's grip, but the man was far too strong for a five-year-old to break free.

"She's not your mother anymore."

But she heard him, and turned to glance at him.

Her face, framed by the pale blue hair, was changed. Her nostrils had grown over with skin, and her crimson eyes were larger. Her mouth opened, he was certain she said his name, but the sight drove the words from his hearing.

Her mouth was filled with needle-like teeth.

"No!"

He sat bolt upright, gasping. He glanced around, uncertainly, and his eyes met Rei's.

Large, luminous eyes, gleaming in the semi-darkness, but not the nightmarish eyes of his dream. Eyes filled with concern, banishing the fear that normally lived there.

"I'm okay...just a nightmare."

"I could see it." The concern remained in her eyes. "You have had the dream before. But it was different this time."

"You..." He was still breathing heavily. "You're not wearing your A20 clip."

Her eyes widened, and flew to her hair. "You are correct. Neither are you."

"But you still saw the dream?"

Now the fear appeared.

"Please forgive me. I did not wish to intrude."

"I forgive you." He spoke hastily, remembering the last time he'd triggered this sort of response. "I'm not going to punish you, or anything."

The fear receded, but did not vanish entirely.

Toji sat in the entry plug, and waited. It was already filled with the Link Connection Liquid, its sharp metallic taste making his stomach roil.

"Activate A20 Nerve Connection."

"Set command interface to Japanese."

The tube flooded with colours.

Toji

He glanced around, but saw nothing. "Someone call me?"

"Negative, Pilot Suzuhara."

"Increase nerve stimulation."

"Approaching the Critical Point."

Toji

"Okay, who's callin' me?"

"It's probably the EVA, reaching out to you."

"Critical Point passed, and sync level rising rapidly."

TOJI

Two gleaming red eyes appeared in the semi-darkness before him.

"Who's there?"

"Toji?" Ritsuko's voice. "Who are you talking to?"

I offer you true vengeance, Toji.

"What d'ya mean?"

"Is your EVA active? Are you in the Dream?"

This is no Dream, Toji. A black form began to appear around the eyes, a gaunt humanoid figure. You come to war on the Dreamlands. I offer you a better path.

"What path?"

I offer you the Dream. Do as I wish, accept me, and we shall destroy the greatest of the Old Ones.

"What are ya talkin' about?"

"I think he's talking to the EVA." Ritsuko's voice was concerned. "I'm not certain that this should be happening so soon. Rei was supposed to be training him."

Rei...her blood flowed through his veins now.

Already, the corrupted one pollutes your system. If you follow these, they will be your undoing. Join me, and come to the Dreamlands.

"You're from the Dreamlands?"

I am. With me, you could be the mightiest EVA pilot in history, do great things for your people. Do you accept me?

Blind rage overcame him. "No!"

So be it. I need only the Child you are contained within.

The black shadow flowed towards him, and he burned. Surrounded in the liquid, he felt the fire over his skin, and burning in his veins. He was being eaten from within, and he screamed in pain.

"EVA-04 is active!" Ritsuko's voice was starting to panic. "Lock it down! Jettison umbilicus!"

"Jettisoned. Unit Four now on batteries, five minutes-" The technician paused. "Oh, shit. Doctor Akagi, the battery level is not falling."

"What?"

"It's not falling!" The technician jabbed a finger down on a button. "Self-test clear. The battery level is not dropping, it's maintaining full charge!"

"No response from the Pilot's remote sensors." Another technician was starting to fray. "I—I think he's gone!"

"Jettison the plug!"

"No response!"

EVA-04 tore itself loose from its bindings. Its fingers traced a sign in mid-air, and an energy blast tore into the wall. The hardened ceramicrete crumbled like styrofoam, and EVA-04 stalked out of the hangar.

"This was not in the fucking book!" Gendo was all but foaming at the mouth.

"They called its author the Mad Monk. There might have been a reason."

"Now is not the time for humour, Fuyutsuki."

"We have been running spectral analysis on the energy trace." The older man turned to the monitor. "It matches the event in Nevada."

"So whatever is controlling Unit Four also likely destroyed Unit Three."

"Precisely. Possibly, Pilot Nagisa destroyed EVA-03 before whatever was trying to control it managed to complete its work."

Gendo considered this, then said, "Re-classify EVA-04 as an Old One. Deploy."

My Brother approaches.

"Asuka, Rei. Shogoki tells me that the approaching target is an EVA!"

Be warned, Dreamer Shinji. Shigoki is dangerously, dangerously insane.

Maya's voice cut through the comm net. "Shinji, we're deploying flechette guns. According to reports, the rogue EVA has lost most of its armour."

"Roger that." He paused. "Where's Misato?"

"She was at the activation. She hasn't reported back in yet."

"Activ—" He gasped. "Toji's in there? I thought it was rogue!"

He has been possessed by an Old One from the Dreamlands.

"It is rogue." Maya's voice was brittle. "We have no bio-data from the Pilot, and we're afraid he's been absorbed by the EVA."

"But you can't know!" His voice was starting to become panicked, and he forced himself to calm down. "Can you view the internals of the plug?"

"No. We've lost all command circuits to EVA-04."

Shogoki. Can you tell if there is a Dreamer with Shigoki?

No. But I can tell you that the Sleeper Toji was no Dreamer. I would be unable to sense him.

"Asuka, Rei. We can't risk killing Toji. We've got to disable it."

"Negative." Gendo's voice came over the comm net. "Destroy the target. All other considerations secondary."

"But—"

"That is a direct order, Pilot Ikari!"

"No! He's my friend." Shinji swallowed. "I have to try to save him."

"Disengage Unit One."

The plug went dark.

"No! Don't do this!"

"Pilot Sohryu. The entity that is controlling Unit Four is the same one that destroyed Unit Three."

There was a sharp silence, then Asuka whimpered.

"It killed Pilot Nagisa. It has certainly killed Pilot Suzuhara." Gendo paused, then added, "And it will certainly try to kill you."

"No..."

"This entity is likely responsible for the death of Ryougi Kaji."

"No!"

"Will you obey the order?"

"Yes!"

"Asuka, no!" Shinji yelled. "You've gotta—"

"Nigoki!"

A terrible roar burst from Nigoki, and it leaped joyfully towards battle. Shinji closed his eyes, but could not drown out the sounds of Shigoki's screams as Asuka and Nigoki ripped him limb from limb.

Silence fell.

Shogoki?

Nothing. He was cut off from her, his entry plug disconnected from her nervous system.

He was alone in the dark, in a tube flooded with liquid.

"No! Get me out of here! Let me out!"

The rage passed quickly, replaced with terror. He huddled into a ball, shaking and screaming, until the darkness took him.

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