Lux Æterna/Wish you were here [26]

 

[Intro track — The Hammer : Motörhead]

[Incidental music — Tundra, then Cerulean : John Adams; then Heliopolis : Banco de Gaia]

We look up to the sky, full of smoke and the roiling clouds born of the firestorm, while Misaki/Yui looks to the Earth below.

Something is coming.

Something big.

As above, so below.

On the scarred plain of battle, where only the carrion birds remain to show that there is other life still surviving, the two Evangelions are all that we have left to contest the endgame. All merely human agency — and much that was beyond human — is spent. There is some radio chatter from the JSSDF remnants, and no doubt in their bunkers, politicians are wondering what else to unleash. But if the other NERV branches who supplied the new, fallen, Evangelions had the ear of those with fingers on the nuclear button, I think we would have seen the evidence by now.

There is a rippling of the cloud layer, as something descends from the Lunar Realm, something cast aside, to return, transmuted. We can feel it, the Light of which our enemies' devices were mere reflections. A thrusting spear no longer.

A chalice, brimming with, overflowing with, fire and with water.

Its very presence banishes the false images made in its absence.

The Grail descends to Earth, and is caught by a white figure that rises from under our feet. Lilith/Rei.

I see now why she was manufactured — one free of certain human taints, halfway to the Angels already, destined to to play the part of its keeper. And I think that I too was part of such a grander construction, chosen — even conceived — to be the Knight.

But I think that things have taken a course not foreseen.

It is not that there will be no final struggle, or alchymic marriage, but I have a gut feeling that the Commander's plans, NERV's plans — which I am certain were very different from each other, have been derailed. There are three here, not two.

The decision is ours. We may duel for the Bride, or…

I hold out my hands, one to each of the others. Let the conflict be over. It has gone on for long enough, and I am tired to my heart of it.

Rei, the first and last of the Angels, alpha and omega, smiles shyly. Misaki's armoured visage is inscrutable, but she too extends her arms. We are clasped in a ring around the Grail.

And we dance, like the three Graces.

As we circle, I can feel the change begin. The old world is over. It time for the players to remove their masks.

I step forth from my carapace, and I am clad all in red, for I am Woman active, unfettered, her own Mistress throughout. On my right hand, a dancer in blue, Woman nurturing and supportive. And on my left, veiled in white, Woman who carries Wisdom. Vulgarly, Maid, Mother and Crone.

There is no distinction now between that which was Asuka and that which was Kyoko, any more than there was between Asuka the student engaged in her studies, and Asuka the player of games. We are just aspects of a larger self.

And the larger self grows.

No matter where you go, everyone's connected.

Each is an aspect of the whole, and yet I can see each from the outside. I see Misaki, her will like a pillar of flame, that gives us all strength. And Shinji, quietened in sleep. Misato, fallen from her motorbike, her blood staining the ground she lies on. I kneel down beside her and place a hand upon her brow. She shudders, but her face becomes peaceful, and her breathing eases. There is Maya, cowering under her desk, but bravely trying to hold things together. She asks “Did… Did we do the right thing?”, and though I cannot give any definite answer, I give her comfort with my presence. Down, far below, there is Gendo Ikari, waiting for death, hoping for oblivion, who regards me with disinterest, for I am not whom he had anticipated. There are the SEELE cabal, each cowering in their own fastness, and I fill them with dread by my very presence, for they are still alive.

In every home, in every street, every village, every city, in the heights, the wilds, the air, upon the deeps, we are all I.

The world dissolves, the dance is all.


[Suddenly, silence, apart from ragged breathing.]

And in the centre, in the still point, am i.

Just the little self.

Pilot Asuka Langley Soryu, sitting in a tube full of LCL, awaiting the end of the world that she managed to stave off for a little while, a last respite before the world dissolves into ambiguity, with a last final sigh, all meaning lost.

And i realise that this is the Gate of which Kaoru spoke.

The choice is mine.

The weight of the world is upon me. And who am i to choose — this girl with a childhood that never let her be a child, that she would rather erase completely from recollection? In this moment of clarity, i can see my faults and list them dispassionately — hard, unforgiving, unsympathetic, driven to shoring up this ramshackle façade of self.

The office is simply a happenstance, an accident — i am simply the one in the right place at the right time, the one who drew the short straw.

A voice speaks quietly in my ear.

“This is not the end. Everything that wills, may return to life.

“All the futures are there before us, all the pasts redeemed in the Omega Point.”

Then i hear Ayanami speaking : “What do you wish for?”, she asks.

And in the moment, i am free of desire. Yet there should be something more than just mere existence, better than the well-meaning hapless folk — but i am, whatever my inheritance, still only human, and too limited to conceive a paradise in its entirety.

In my hands, i have the Cure for the World's Pain — and i lack the art to make use of it.

Who can i turn to?

They appear to me, each in their turn.

Shinji — “Scarlet woman — you just delighted in prick-teasing, flaunting yourself at me, but withholding yourself. I'm glad you went away. Don't bother me now.”

It wasn't like that. I said we shouldn't share such close accommodation at our age. I can't help your hormones.

Misato — “A proper little madam. That's what you were. High time you acted your age, you spoilt little brat.”

What age was I supposed to be? Four going on twenty-four was a good average.

Misaki — “You were damaged. I showed you the way to heal. But you have to do the hard parts by yourself.”

For that I am grateful, but I am still a fragile vessel. Now I have need of strength, it has deserted me.

Keele — “Dark Angel of our desires, with indiscriminate death and prayers, return us to our original state.”

I am no Ayanami. I am not your doll, even if I am your creation, however indirectly. Though yours is the easiest choice to make, I will not. Destruction renders everything I have done meaningless, the effort wasted, and I will not have that.

Gendo — “I had been waiting for this moment for so long… To finally be with Yui again. And only you remain to unite us.”

Indeed, I am not her. There is that of her in Unit 01. But can I selflessly grant an essentially selfish wish?

Maya — “Asuka…”

Yes, there is a reason for carrying on, however trite, however banal, or sentimental it might seem. Another person who cares for me despite my all too human failings. One who would — by definition — not be there if I succumbed to the lure of Solipsist Nation, the empty Nirvana of the oceans of LCL, where all are one, and thereby none, just a circular gaze at one collective navel.

There must be a better paradise than that; but to achieve it I must cast aside that option, for all that it is now at hand. It is not that a paradise needs to be hard won to be worthwhile — has this not been a hard enough road? — but that the tools and goals need to be comprehensible. We need to become finer beings first. Being all that we can be will be a good first step.

I pass through this crux.

The future belongs to me.

I awaken to light.

[Fade to white.]

[Fade to white.]


[Scene: The whiteness becomes a blank sheet of paper — what is beyond is neutrally coloured, unfocussed. A hand begins writing with a simple looking pen. The words are set down in German, but after a few seconds, the ink writhes on the page and forms Kanji instead, translating the original text. The handwriting is clearly the same person's.

Asuka's voice narrates the letter as she writes, with the sound of surf and sea birds in the background. Every so often, she uses the pen to delete or pick up and move some of the words.]

15th December '28. Dearest Misato

Early greetings of the season from us here at the sunny Bay of Islands, where we've been swimming with dolphins, half a world away from the cold and dark of a European winter!

[She draws a rectangle on the page, and writes in it "postcard view". It fills in with a scene of dolphins leaping near a rocky point that ends with a natural arch.]

After all these years, I'm finally getting to do the round the world tour that I had to lie about during the old days at NERV — and it's being wonderful! Even if it has involved spending far too long in the insalubrious climate of central Asia — it helped that we were there as honoured guests of the Khalifa — you know that she was Maya's lover, back in their student days, don't you? — but that didn't make it any more pleasant outside.

[Flashback — the photo in Maya's apartment.]

But there's another, more serious reason to write — to congratulate you on your election victory. Who would have thought that you'd end up as Prime Minister at your age? I would never have thought it would happen this side of the binary millennium, reputation or not, and even if the job is more simply ceremonial than it used to be. And how long will you manage to stay that respectable?

[News footage of inauguration — There is a streak of grey in Misato's hair.]

This year, I shall be there for the reunion. A chance to see everyone in the flesh again, rather than just in virtuals; the comforting ritual of sharing of food — and I'll hold you to that no expense spared dinner you promised us, at long last. What is surprising, is that after all this time, my quirky little family is the nearest we all of us have to anything traditional — me, the only one who explicitly swore off child-rearing! — though I did see the pictures Hikari passed on of Kensuke and his little — not so little now, since she's starting school soon, I guess — girl Misato.

[Collage of images, the survivors, older now — Smiling Misaki and bewildered Shinji; Toji with arm around Hikari; Kensuke, wife and daughter.]

I think it's a better world now than the one I was born to, this Awakened world, after the Harrowing, the Anti-Rapture, where those who could not face the task ahead were granted Nirvana. If only poor Mihara-san had survived, to see that he had given us the key, in the form of the loving slaves and guardians that he called persocoms, to fashion a society that might in time become better yet.

[Collage of images, the dead and the lost — Ichiro Mihara, Rei Ayanami, Kaji Ryoji, Ritsuko Akagi, Gendo Ikari, Kouzou Fuyutsuki, Yui Ikari.]

And for us who were there, blessed anonymity, for those who chose it. I managed to surprise myself earlier in the year when I saw the new children's craze, the little fighting dolls they call angels, that I could just smile, and contemplate the irony, with no-one else around any the wiser.

At times, I wonder at what really became of the world, wonder was it all too easy? Is this all just a dream, or a simulation? And could I ever tell if it were? Some nights I still awaken with stench of LCL in my nostrils, haunted by the visions of all the various dead and blasted earths I saw, all the futile seas of orgasmine locked in that endless moment, and know that it was not easy in the slightest. Yet all the same, I wonder, one day, will I wake up in the entry plug once more, and have to make the same — or a subtly different — choice all over again?

[Collage of images — a barren earth under a red bridge of souls; a figure stirring on a darkened shore; Ayanami in lotus floating in a sea of LCL; an endless field of Evangelions, all impaled on Lances.]

That has haunted me ever since the four of us woke on the lake shore, under the benign gazes of the Dancers, to the sound of approaching helicopters, and through all the uncertain days that followed.

[Image — the three giant dancers, in red and white and blue, their faces are all Ayanami's and all are ecstatic. They appear almost transparent, slowly circling around a similarly insubstantial Grail, over the Tokyo-3 lake. Asuka, Misaki, Freya, and Shinji lie cast up upon the beach. The sound of whirling rotor blades can be heard.]

The one thing that does give me hope is in a little project of mine that I've only recently found the time and resources to complete — rendering what remains of Gendo Ikari's notes from the original Enochian. What he — and the Committee — were wont to refer to as “Human Instrumentality”, later commentators have often rendered as “Human Complement” or “Human Complementation”.

And there I think they missed the major clue. Everything else — NERV, SEELE, Gehirn, Eva — is in German; so why choose a Romance root?

The secret, revealed at last, is that it is not completion — the most idiomatic translation of Gendo Ikari's Great Work would be “The Human Fulfillment Program”. And I think it is still continuing all about us, even as I write.

And on lighter matters — no, before you ask, I've not bothered to get that eye done, though it would be simple enough now, and even though it still surprises me when I really look in a mirror. When I need to, I just wear shades, so that no-one will tell that this crazy girl has one eye red, and the other blue.

More when we see you, next week.

Ever yours,  Asuka Soryu-Ibuki.


Finale — Pale Blue Dot

[Outro track plays over this — Forever Autumn — Jeff Wayne]

The viewpoint draws back. We see Asuka, head and shoulders, rear three-quarter view. Her hair is long again, and bunched in a pony-tail. She gives the letter a final scan, then taps it with the pen, twice. The writing fades.

“Well, that's business seen to,” she says.

She is wearing a pale grey top and white slacks. As the camera continues to pull back, we see Maya sitting next to her, in a long, pale blue, summer dress, and kneeling, on the other side, where she had clearly been reading the letter as it was being written, Freya, the persocom, unchanged with the passage of time.

They are sitting on a beach, facing across a bay where small sailing boats are moored, and on the far side, a small town, half lost amongst trees.

The camera tracks around, and we see the three of them, smiling. Behind is a promenade, where people — and persocoms — walk, skate or cycle by, beyond that, a scattering of shops and houses.

The camera continues to pull back, to show the town to be a sprinkling of habitation amongst virgin bush, then it becomes lost in the scope of the bay. The sky above darkens, and the curve of the Earth is visible. New Zealand, then all Australasia, is in view. There is the usual patterning of cloud over the dark blue of the waters, Pacific, Indian, and an Antarctic Ocean that now extends all the way to the pole, the scars of Second Impact now healed, as lit in the late morning where Asuka sits.

Further out, the whole disk of the Earth now visible, and soon the moon too.

And distance reduces the disk to just a point, lost amongst the stars.


Respectfully dedicated to Hideki Anno, for The End of Evangelion — a film that struck so deeply that it has taken me all spring (and many hours in front of a phosphor screen where I could have been reading in my garden while twilight lingered until well after 9pm) to begin to express the impact that it made on me.


© Steve Gilham 2004
© Mr. Tines 2004

#include <std::copyright> — most of the characters and situations in the fic belong to GAINAX/Project Eva, and almost all the rest to the ladies of Clamp. It's just this form of words that is mine.


[25] The Day of Wrath/All Strings Awry

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