[ See, I promised that I would be out with Part 5 really quick. ^-^' You may have found Part 4 really boring and short. While Part 5 is kind of short, it's certainly not boring. If anyone has suggestions, complaints, etc. please write me (ancientrime@AOL.com) ]

The True Path that Leads to Self

by AncientRime

Man has always loathed the darkness, and feared the abyss. For the millennia, we had assumed that the most deep and terrifying darkness lurked in the shadows of the night, and in the voids of space. This was not so, simply because the most frightening darkness had come only from the far reaches of the soul. Yes, indeed, the most equivocal and delicate understanding is not of the world around us, but the world that lurks deep within us.

Alone, the journey is very frightening indeed, and perhaps even impossible. But man is never alone, he never has been alone in the world or in the universe. In much the same way that God manages to touch lives with an invisible hand, Misato had gone behind the scenes and learned of Rei. They were side by side now, neither one as alone as they were before. The deep pitfall that had been rightfully named "Central Dogma" conjured up the anxiety that lurked in the human heart, and this was exactly where Rei and Misato had gone, absolutely not without purpose.

There was other life here, beside that which they claimed themselves. There was a shuffling sound in the background, and a soft murmur. Misato stepped up her pace a little further, only to find Dr. Ritsuko Akagi standing before an air locked door. Misato stood still for a moment, Rei was directly behind her. Misato's voice was clear in the static free environment of Central Dogma. There was no interference in this environment, it was completely clean and only certain NERV personnel were even allowed near it; this did not include the head of operations herself. No, pawns were no more allowed in the castle than humble stable boys.

"For a pawn I made a decent friend... Didn't I, doctor?"

Ritsuko's rueful chuckle could be heard in the background. Misato was not directly behind her, but her eyes seemed to pierce through her skull with resentment, betrayal, and accusations. The foreboding expression, it was almost inhumane in its sincerity. Misato stepped one step closer to Ritsuko before the doctor spoke.

"I knew you were coming Misato. I know just about everything that goes on around here. I didn't willfully hide these things from you, it was an order, a simple order. I can't let you inside."

Rei's head bowed. There was a time when she too was willing to follow every single order of Commander Ikarii, even if it meant the death of her. She wouldn't question it, because the Commander knew best. Because of Rei's recent conquest of her own heart, she had discovered that all human beings are all mutually alike in frailty. She had begun to wonder what placed the Commander higher than man himself. Did those who ran NERV really think themselves gods? She had learned so much, and she would continue the trend in learning just how precarious fate could be. Misato withdrew something from her purse, and pressed it against Ritsuko's head. In the faint light, it was possible to see the outline of a pistol.

"I don't think so, Ritsuko. I came here to see something, and you're going to show it to me or I'll simply kill you and burry you beneath your lies."

The smooth click of the revolving chambers could be heard as the barrel was pressed more firmly against Ritsuko's skull. A short lived smug laugh escaped Ritsuko. She had not dared to turn around, and was still facing the air locked doors. Perhaps it was the complete guilt that kept her from looking Misato in the eye.

"You came here to see it all, hadn't you? All right... but if you're to see it then so is she!"

Ritsuko had pointed at Rei, who was standing quietly in the background. There almost seemed to be a pain in Rei's eyes, as though she too was being brought to her own grave in finding this truth. It felt as though she were holding on to some concept that kept her going higher and higher, until she could no longer see the ground. Misato was silent. Only a moment passed before she looked to Ritsuko, her eyes judgmental and leery. Her voice lacked expression now, and did not have the zeal of its former self.


Ritsuko simply smiled with an enlightened expression on her face that was normally present, but much more defined now. As her hand came down, she spoke, the card swiping through the scanner.

"Oh Misato... there's is so much," at that given point in time the card had gone through and there was the blinking of a light that went from red to green. "That you don't know."

With the conclusion of that statement the air locked door had opened to display Lilith pinned up on a cross, the Lance was the only thing keeping it up. Misato's gasp had not come, but instead was locked deep within her with great fear. It loomed there in the middle of an ocean of life, as though it had been there for millions of years before even man. Indeed, the tale of the Angels began long before man. How fortunate we were as a species. Rei stood there, seemingly unaffected, though she stared at the remains, the SEELE coat of arms imprinted over its face. It seemed almost to give Lilith character, as though they were meant to be the eyes on this hideous creature. Ritsuko let both Rei and Misato inside. Her mordant laugh could be herd but briefly.

"You both seem quite shocked. This is just the beginning you know. Rei, this is the being from which you were created."

Dr. Akagi began her casual pace, as though none of this bothered her at all. However, beneath the facade of blatant honesty rested the anguish that had settled deep within her thoat. It was as though she were saving it, storing it for the last. As she walked, a contingent, flowing wave of her hand expressed her thoughts at random, as though the hand had a life to call its own; she continued.

"Perhaps it was only destiny that you'd end up here... Funny, a scientist speaking of fate."

Ritsuko took them through tunnels that connected like nerve tissue leading to a brain. It seemed as though the labyrinth would never end, until Ritsuko finally stopped. This room was darker than all of the others. It was vast, one could just about hear the echo of their own breath in the endless expanse. Rei stepped back warily. Her head was high as she surveyed the area as best she could in the failing light.

"Death... it smells like death in here..."

She concluded with absolute certainty. A sudden chain of nerves was set on fire inside of Rei's body, she was now very uneasy. Misato turned around to hold her up gently. Her eyes were angry as they met Ritsuko's in the pale light of the area. Ritsuko had turned away, not due to the fact that Misato was so terribly angry with her, but the fact that Rei was already in pain, and they still had not gotten to her absolute truth. It still lay ahead, and they were now extremely close. That pain in Ritsuko's voice was more profound more visible now.

"Yes, death and its very scent, that would pr appropriate for a graveyard, Rei Ayanami."
There was a long drawn out pause, during the duration of which Rei seemed to suffer from ever increasing anxiety. Misato stared coldly at the doctor finally as she would wait no longer for her to continue.

"Finish the thought, Ritsuko... Finish it right now." Misato's hand had uneasily begun to tremble seeing Rei in the pain that she was in, and was reaching towards her gun. She was fully ready to pull it from the confines of her uniform jacket when Ritsuko began to speak again.

The doctor moved to push a switch on the wall, and the room was once again illuminated. From the darkness arose the ghosts, horrifying phantoms of the past that still haunted this room, and would forever. The skeletal structures laid strewn about the floor carelessly. They were similar to that of human beings, but huge in an alien sense.

"This should smell like death, because it is a graveyard, a graveyard for Eva's. Talk about pulling skeletons out of the closet. Hmph... These are all failures that met their doom. That thing you pilot, it is as alive as you and I."

Ritsuko looked Rei in the eyes for the first time. Her nature seemed almost cautious. Rei had collected herself a little bit more from her previous state, and was now only leaning on Misato lightly. She looked down at the girl, her expression all of a sudden stern.

"Don't fail me now, Rei Ayanami. We've one more ghost to visit."

With that, the three pushed onward. They were traveling up a hall now that seemed to be very lengthy. "The seasons perpetually change. Often it's hard to tell where fall ends and winter begins. Man is reaching the biter cold of the winter of his end nowadays. It seems more and more obvious that the human race has become that of the dead leaves of autumn, laying strewn about the earth in so many different colors... Yet, at the core, they are all still alike. Man is no longer his true self. Our version of the 'truth' died in the year 2000AD, the lies began there, and ended up here!"

With those final words, Ritsuko's hand slamed against a pannel on the wall. The lights dimly lit the room, and it was possible to now see that the room was circular, a large server looking machine at the center, and a control board to the north. The walls were glass, and filled with LCL. Floating inside that soup was Rei, hundreds of her, literally hundreds. Misato's eyes opened wide with shock seeing the image that lay ready before her.

"REI! They're all... Rei!! What the hell... is this?!"

Dr. Akagi's voice was beginning to grow weak, and Rei herself was not so much troubled or shocked by what she saw. Certainly, she had always send that she was herself, but there was still more to her. She was finding now that this was, in a literal sense, true.

"This is the core of the Dummy Plug... This is my life, my work... And my nature as a scientist! A creator of dolls!" Ritsuko's voice was cracking as she went on.

"Man has made a long journey from the ancient seas to who he is today... But perhaps the distance wasn't so great to reach what he still is now. I have gone nowhere, science has brought me nowhere. Just as the rest of the human race, I have not progressed from the animal from which I had come. But the rat race will go on forever, my field will never cease."
Misato stood back in complete horror. She pulled back from Ritsuko who sought to cry on her shoulder as the tears would no longer ease themselves. When she fell to her knees, her requiem continued.

"Go on kill me! I'm not even human anymore!! I embrace death."

Misato was about to move, or at least try and speak. Taking quick action now was all too important. She couldn't leave the woman who she had gone to college with, befriended, and trusted for so long, there on the floor in complete agony. She was about to reach for Ritsuko when Rei intervened. She stood at the center of the room, her placid amber eyes all knowing. To those who would stand there and listen, they would come to call the words that would follow the truest insight in to the heart of Rei Ayanami. this marked the day she became truly human.

"You do not deserve to die, because you are here, you exist. My silence has long since been a vessel for my thoughts, as has this body been. Humans, I had long since questioned what they were. We are not creations of God, we are creations of our own thoughts, as you are, and so am I. I don't need to run anymore, I don't need to hide bacuse I know the truth now. Humans would rather run their entire lives from that which they are afraid of... They build their cities that light the night with man-made fire. I will not run. I intend to live. This is me... The truth of self can only be seen when false images and ideas are shed, trappings banished. I chose to live, not for me, not for these false versions of myself, but for the one human being that I have learned to love. I will not deny the one existence that is Asuka Langley Soryu no more than I will deny myself. I will live for her... Now I must kill off these false images to make this possible."

Rei stepped forward with an ever sure gait. Misato had gone to her knees to comfort Ritsuko who was now crying quite heavily. She reached out to Rei who was rapidly approaching the control board. "No! Rei! What are you ... doing?!" Rei didn't hear her, she kept moving forward until she was standing before the panel. The large red button stared her in the eyes. With almost dutiful resolve, her hand pressed gently upon it. The clones, they shriveled to ruins, like a doll being pulled by the seams. Those "false images" fell apart right before her eyes. And oddly enough, Rei could feel herself alive for the first time. Warm tears streaked down her no longer cold cheeks. She turned and faced both Ritsuko and Misato. The tears fell from her eyes and down her cheeks, staining her skirt. There was actual emotion in her voice, even if it was pain.

"This is me. This is the true image of myself. There are no others, for I am I."