Superwomen of Eva: Emerald Fury @orionpax09

Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion or anything associated with it. I have written this story solely because I enjoy writing.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything belonging to Marvel Comics or anything associated with it. I have written this story solely because I enjoy writing.

Superwomen of Eva: Emerald Fury

Chapter 25: Fallout

Relief and guilt. Those were the two emotions that hounded Shinji as he and the others heeded Ritsuko's evacuation order.

On the one hand, Shinji couldn't help but be relieved as She-Hulk struggled and fought her way back to the waking world. Grateful that the emerald beast-woman would not die this day.

But at the same time, he also felt horrible that he was relieved. For it meant that Shinji was inwardly celebrating that Misato would have to remain a prisoner of both NERV and her savage other.

Torn between these diametrically opposed sensations, Shinji could only allow himself to be guided towards the exit. With Kaji grabbing him by the shoulders and pushing him forward while muttering, "C'mon, you two! I don't know what's going on, but I'm betting that the Big Green will be cranky when she wakes up! And we don't want to be anywhere near her when she's cranky!"

"I'm not going to argue with that," Samson stated as they carefully and urgently made their way towards the exit.

"Let's just get out of here, okay?!" Asuka declared as she took the lead. "We have to get out of here before the blast doors are shut!"

Aware of Asuka's concerns but not feeling them himself, Shinji could only continue to watch in horrified fascination and awe as She-Hulk continued to thrash about within the tank. She was growing more and more agitated with each passing second, her expression creased with increasing fury.

And then her eyes flew open. Exploding with emerald light.

Then she roared.

And the entire room seemed to explode around Shinji.

"Gyaaaahh!" Shinji cried out in dismayed fear as the walls of the nutrient bath exploded before She-Hulk's Impact Roar. The gamma-irradiated fluid within sprayed all over the place, though no one was hit. It then spilled into the sluice below as She-Hulk thrashed even more wildly about, fighting to free herself.

"Hurry! We have to get out of here!" Ritsuko cried out as she and the others hurried to the nearest exit. "Once the blast doors are shut, we'll all be trapped in here!"

"That definitely sounds bad for our health," Kaji noted as he urged Shinji to move faster. "Asuka, hurry!"

"I am, I am!" Asuka declared as she rushed towards the nearest exit. As Shinji looked about, he saw many NERV technicians and scientists hurrying through it to relative safety. "What, do I look I'm -?!"

A wrathful roar filled the air, followed immediately by the sound of metal crunching and something splashing. Quickly looking about, Shinji saw She-Hulk standing within the ruins of the nutrient bath, having freed herself from her harness. And was now holding what was left of the lifting arm that had kept her suspended within the tank.

"She-Hulk smash!" the green beast-woman roared furiously as she threw the ruined mechanical arm through the air, resulting in it ripping through one of the catwalks. The sound of metal tearing through metal further encouraging everyone present to hurry towards the nearest exit. Even as the furious emerald Amazon stomped over to a section of the ruined tank and smashed it. Sending shards of plexiglass and metal through the air, causing them to tear through the catwalk.

"Ahhhh!" Shinji heard someone cry out as the catwalk lurched hideously beneath him. He had only a moment to realize that he'd been the one to scream before he was sent tumbling from the ruined catwalk and falling to the ground.

"Gahh!" Shinji cried out in pain, stunned by the impact. All the while he dimly and distantly watched as more people tumbled from the catwalks above…

"Ouch…!" Ritsuko groaned bitterly as she struggled to recover from her fall. Her body was already protesting her continued movement, wanting to prioritize avoiding aggravating the injuries she had just incurred.

But one didn't need to be a scientist to know that this wasn't an option. And Ritsuko didn't need the prompting of the angry gamma-powered behemoth's roars to force herself back up to her feet.

"Sempai!" Maya called out from somewhere nearby. "Are you alright?!"

"Maya…get moving…!" Ritsuko replied as she focused on the nearest exit. "Blast doors…close at any second…!"

"But sempai -!" Maya started to reply. Only to stop when Ritsuko felt an arm slide under her shoulder.

"Then we better get moving!" came a voice that Ritsuko immediately recognized as belonging to Samson even as he helped her back up to her feet. "Because this is not a good place for us to be right now!"

As Ritsuko dazedly looked about, she saw proof of Samson's words. She-Hulk was furiously ripping apart what was left of the bath and all of the machinery around it. And while she was showing no interest in attacking the personnel, she was still sending chunks of metal and more flying in every direction. It's like…she knows that it's a potential threat to her existence. And is making sure that it can't be used again, Ritsuko analyzed. Then she snorted and added, Like that's going to happen with the current budget. Ikari is going to chew my ass off for this one…

Then She-Hulk drove her fist into another of the machines, causing it to explode in a plume of smoke and fire. As the rampaging beast-woman recoiled, shielding her eyes from the sudden increase of light, Ritsuko was forced to add, Assuming we get out of here alive!

"Sempai! How bad is it?!" Maya wondered as she came up alongside Ritsuko and joined Samson in aiding her.

"Nothing broken…but definitely bruised…" Ritsuko replied as she forced herself to keep moving. "Just…keep going! Need to…get clear…!"

"Rrrrraaaarrrrgggghhhhh!" She-Hulk roared furiously, something that was followed by the sound of something large, metal, and doubtlessly expensive being crushed. Followed closely by the repeated noise of huge fists pounding upon metal and concrete.

And then something like glass shattering and liquid spattering. Sending a chill down Ritsuko's spine.

As if confirmation of Ritsuko's thought, Maya cried out, "No! The stored gamma!"

Unable to help herself, Ritsuko turned about and looked behind. Her eyes going wide as several containment vessels were sent flying through the air in pieces. Spewing gamma-irradiated fluid everywhere in sight. "Move it, you two!" Samson cried out as further ruined vessels and more were sent flying. "Move!"

Ritsuko was practically shoved to the floor as Samson pushed her to move even faster. Maya also quickened her pace as the nearest exit loomed large before them.

And the blast doors began to slide shut.

"Move! Move!" Samson urged them, giving them one final push forward as even more splashing and crashing and destruction hounded their heels. And both Maya and Ritsuko were sent tumbling through the doorway. Nervous energy and pure fear continuing to carry them forward. Moving as swiftly as possible as the blast doors ground shut behind them, and continued to do so until they ran into a wall and sagged against it.

"That…that was way too close…!" Maya gasped, heaving in breath after breath as she recovered.

"I know…I can't believe we even made it…" Ritsuko muttered as she attempted to recover and assess the damage done to her body. "Were the blast doors slow? It feels like -?"

"Uh…ladies…?" came Samson's voice. The pain and weakness and gallows humor that laced it immediately getting both their attention. "I don't think…we all made it…"

A light gasp of horror from Maya punctuated Samson's words, prompting Ritsuko to look up. Where she was forced to stifle a cry of horror at the sight of the American down on one knee. Shards of metal and plexiglass sticking out of his back and his entire body soaked in the fluid from the containment vessels.

"Omigosh! Samson!" Maya cried out as she started towards him. Only to be halted when Ritsuko grabbed her by the shoulder. "Wha-?! Sempai?!"

"Don't touch him!" Ritsuko cried out. "The containment fluid is modified LCL! Its gamma might not radiate through the air, but it can be absorbed into the skin through direct contact! We touch him, we'll be irradiated as well!"

"But we have to -!" Maya started to protest.

"Contact the emergency crews and alert them that someone has been directly exposed to gamma radiation!" Ritsuko tersely instructed her. "They'll have already been alerted and be on the way. And they'll be equipped with hazmat gear and medical supplies. They'll be better suited to help Samson than we are."

Maya opened her mouth to protest. But then Samson gave a weak chuckle. "Sure hope…that they get here soon," he muttered weakly as his eyes flickered with emerald light. "'Cause I…I don't feel so good…"

This statement was punctuated by Samson issuing a pained groan. Right before his entire body seemed to throb and pulse beneath his clothes…

"Asuka! Asuka, where are you?!" Kaji cried out as he looked wildly about. Holding on for dear life as the catwalk lurched horribly.

Kaji had only barely been able to hold on when She-Hulk had inadvertently damaged the catwalk he and several others had been on, sending Samson and Shinji flying. The unshaven man had no idea where they had landed, but he was certain that he would accomplish nothing by trying to save them. Rash and reckless acts of heroism wouldn't serve his purposes and he still had a job to do within NERV. He had his own goals he needed to achieve. And allowing himself to be pounded into jelly by a raging She-Hulk wasn't going to help with that.

But that didn't change the fact that Kaji still had some responsibilities. And as long as it was possible, he would help those he could.

"Asuka!" Kaji cried out again.

"Ugh…I'm over here!" Asuka responded. Orienting on her voice, Kaji looked about to see Asuka clinging to another section of the catwalk that was creaking and groaning. "Though I don't know how I wound up like this!"

"Considering that the alternative is to be down there with you-know-who? I wouldn't complain!" Kaji pointed out as he started towards Asuka's position while orienting on the nearest exit that seemed viable and safe. "Look, we need to move! Once those blast doors are shut, we're stuck in here with her! And since we're not the one person she's guaranteed not to hurt -!"

"Who'd want to be him?!" Asuka shot back in a way that didn't quite conceal her fear. "Let's just get out of here already!"

Unable to argue with the latter part of Asuka's words, Kaji started moving towards the exit he had chosen. Taking a path that would bring him close enough to the redhead's position without putting himself in too much danger. "Just be careful! No sudden moves until you're on firmer ground!"

"Like I have a choice?!" Asuka demanded as she took a careful step forward. The catwalk she was on creaked and groaned ominously.

Not liking this in the least, Kaji quickened his pace. All the while keeping a very close on the raging emerald beast below. Who was still completely focused on ripping apart all of the equipment and more.

She doesn't seem to care about anything other than destroying the machines, Kaji noted, wincing as She-Hulk roared furiously. Ripping apart anything that remained near where the bath had once been. Here's hoping that she doesn't run out of machines before she runs out of anger!

Keeping a close eye on the raging emerald Amazon, Kaji continued forward. Staying alert and ready to act if anything else went wrong even as he watched Asuka take one cautious step after another.

Only to freeze in horror when an ominous metallic groan filled the air. Looking wildly about, Kaji first checked to make sure that She-Hulk wasn't attacking anything near their position before checking the catwalk. Once he was reassured that the source wasn't either of these, he looked towards the nearest exit. And felt the blood drain from his face.

"The blast doors! They're closing!" Kaji cried out in dismay. "Asuka, move!"

"I'm moving, I'm moving!" Asuka cried out in fresh alarm, quickening her pace. Something that caused the catwalk to shudder and groan dangerously.

And between this noise and the noise of the blast doors grinding shut…Kaji almost missed the sound of an irate growl rising from below.

His eyes going wide, Kaji looked down. And saw She-Hulk glaring angrily about at all of the metal things that were making a lot of noise. Noise that was doubtlessly making her even madder than she already was.

And as the catwalk groaned dangerously, She-Hulk snarled at the loud noise. And responded by grabbing the offensive structure and yanked on it. Causing it to sheer off of its mountings and sending its lone occupant flailing wildly about as the brutish she-beast pulled harder.

"Aaahhh! Wahh!" Asuka cried out in a clear panic as she clung to the catwalk railing for dear life. Solid steel crumpling like tinfoil in She-Hulk's ham-sized hands as she furiously flung it about, either unaware or uncaring of the German's plight.

Katsuragi, if you're in there, now would be a good time to prove it! Kaji silently pleaded of her. Asuka's losing her -!

"GRRRAAARRRGGHHH!" She-Hulk furiously roared as she ripped the last of the catwalk from its mounts and tossed it aside. Sending Asuka flying from her perch in the process.

The world seemed to grind to a halt, Kaji looking on in horror, as Asuka flailed her arms helplessly in mid-air. The redhead screaming a scream of purest terror as gravity secured its grip upon her. Utterly helpless to do anything but continue to scream as she began her descent.

No one was within range of Asuka, save for the rampaging emerald behemoth. She-Hulk was still either unaware or uncaring as to the German's plight. And the protective grates that had once covered the large sluice that ran the course of the chamber had been either destroyed or knocked away throughout the jade destroyer's rampage. As a result, there was nothing to save Asuka from her fate.

Nothing to prevent her from plunging into the gamma-irradiated soup that awaited her.

Frozen with shock, Kaji just stood there and stared for a moment before his survival instincts kicked in and he started running for the exit.

I'm sorry, Asuka, Kaji thought as he narrowly escaped through the closing blast doors. But there's nothing I can do for you now…

As Ritsuko looked at Samson, she knew she should be calling for medical assistance. Should be running away from him. Should be doing any number of things other than staring at him in frozen horror, doing nothing to help him or herself.

But in the end, Ritsuko was reacting to her fear the same way a deer caught in a set of headlights would react to an oncoming car. And thus all she could do was stand there, acting on the instinct of a prey animal to stay still and avoid the gaze of a predator. All the while Samson heaved and groaned and swelled up beneath his clothes.

"Omigod…" Ritsuko couldn't help but moan as Samson grunted and groaned, clenching his fists as his face twisted in pain as if he was fighting what was happening to him. Then a spasm rocked his frame, causing him to fall forward onto his hands and knees as he cried out in pain. Only to thrust himself back up a bit as his swelling arms forced him into action, splitting his sleeves even as his bulging back muscles caused the numerous tears in his clothes to rapidly expand. And they grey even more so as his arms relaxed then forced him back up again, over and over as his upper body continued to grow more massive.

Sweat running down his skin, Samson's pants were soon soaked as the leather of his shoes creaked and groaned in protest. But despite their struggle, it wasn't long before the footwear slowly began to burst apart as the mutating doctor outgrew them and his pants, which soon split along the seams.

Gulping loudly as the transformation continued, Ritsuko watched as Samson's hair lengthened and darkened, shifting from a rich brown to a rich green tone. His shirt fell apart completely as muscles that would do a bodybuilder proud shredded it. The shrapnel that had been embedded in his body having been forced out by his transformation, all the while his numerous wounds healed on their own.

Then Samson looked up at them, his eyes wide and revealing pupils that glowed green. And Ritsuko gasped in horror as she realized that age-old survival instinct had been her undoing. That she had remained frozen and watched as the doctor had been transforming into a mindless brute much like the one they had been fleeing. And now she fought to make her legs heed the command of her mind instead of an instinctual need to freeze in fear.

Move…dammit, move! Ritsuko ordered her rubbery limbs. Not much time! He'll be completely transformed in seconds, and then -!

"Sempai!" Maya hissed out, very nearly sending Ritsuko jumping out of her skin. "Sempai, look!"

Instinctually shooting Maya a killing glare, Ritsuko then looked at Samson. And immediately froze once more. Only this time, it was out of astonished confusion rather than fear.

Heaving deep, wearied breaths, Samson eyed the two women for a while. His body was no longer shifting and swelling, there were no more sounds of bones crunching or flesh bulging. And while massively muscled, the American wasn't that much larger than before, certainly not as large as She-Hulk was. And even though his hair and eyes were now green, his skin remained normal and untouched by his transformation.

What in the…?! Ritsuko thought, only to cut herself off and give a shake of her head. Then the part of her that was a scientist kicked in and she was once again able to rise above her base instincts and analyze the situation.

"Uh…Dr. Samson? Leonard?" Ritsuko cautiously asked, speaking in a soothing tone of voice. For while he wasn't as transformed physically as Misato, she still had no idea what the state of his mind was. "Are you…still with us?"

"Ugh…well, that was a rough ride…" Samson groaned as he shifted clumsily about on the floor, struggling to regain his feet. "I…what happened – huh?!"

Samson's eyes went wide as he looked down at his hands, only to then focus on the massive arms that they were attached to. "Whoa…" the American breathed as he slowly, carefully clambered back up into a standing position. Then he slowly surveyed his transformed body with clear surprise. "Uh…I'm...oh."

"He…seems like he's…okay," Maya noted with clear surprise. "I mean, he's bigger, sure, but -!"

"But regardless of his current lack of linguistic articulation, his mental faculties seem to be intact," Ritsuko noted, caught between confusion and exhilaration. "Would you agree, Dr. Samson?"

"Uh…" Samson started, giving Ritsuko a look. Then he paused to flex one of his arms and was rewarded with a massive bicep bulging. "Well, I…I still seem to be me. Me in a body that's…well, a lot bigger." Then he frowned and wondered, "But – while I'm certainly not complaining about this…why aren't I a lot greener? Not to mention dumber?"

"And how did this happen in the first place?!" Maya demanded. "I mean – how'd the Major's mutation jump to him?"

"I don't know. And I won't know for sure what's going on until we can get Samson to a lab for a full examination and a comparison with your medical files," Ritsuko intoned, her scientific detachment returning in full. "But – if I had to guess why you're not greener or a mindless brute," she continued, turning her attention to Samson, "I'd say that the most likely explanation would be that you didn't absorb as much gamma as Misato has." Maya opened her mouth to speak again, but the doctor raised her hand in negation. "We can discuss this further later. Right now, we need to get clear of here and get to NERV Medical. Just because Samson's condition is stable for now doesn't mean that it'll remain so."

"A good point. But that's not the only thing we need to worry about," Samson grimly noted. "Think about it. If anybody else got splashed with any of that gamma liquid…well, judging from what it did to me –"

"Right. There's every chance that more people were exposed back there," Ritsuko noted with grave concern. "Which means we might have even more gamma monsters on our hands." Then she furrowed her brows and added, "And we can't assume that they'd be as lucky as you seem to have been, Samson."

Samson responded with a grim look before asking, "In that case…why are we still standing here?"

"Damned good question. So let's stop standing!" Ritsuko replied before her rational mind forced her legs to move once more. "Just be careful not to touch me or Maya or anyone else! We don't want to risk any of that gamma fluid contaminating more people than it already has!"

As Shinji slowly returned to the waking world, his eyes opening only with great reluctance, everything around him was a big blur. Whatever his eyes and ears perceived was distorted and jumbled in his mind, leaving him unable to process anything. And even as he recovered enough to push himself up into a seated position, Shinji was hard-pressed to make sense of the chaos that surrounded him.

Where…where is…everyone…? Shinji wondered dazedly as he groggily scanned his surroundings. Misato…where -?

A powerful, terrible, primal roar echoed through the hallways of NERV, a roar that echoed up from humanity's savage past. A roar that struck a chord in Shinji, forcing him to full awareness as he instinctually began searching for the source. And as he did so, his senses sharpened and he quickly took in the condition of the NERV facility.

The nutrient bath and everything adjacent to it had been completely ripped apart. There was literally nothing left of any of the equipment that resembled anything other than worthless scrap fit only for recycling. The catwalks had been smashed to pieces, other forms of equipment had been destroyed. And as another powerful roar caused the entire complex to shudder, Shinji noticed a massive, gaping hole in one of the walls. A hole more than large enough to allow a certain green Amazon to exit.

"Oh…Misato…" Shinji groaned as he fought to get back to his feet. "I – better find her. Calm her down…before someone gets…huh?"

The feel of something metal brushing up against his arm caused Shinji to pause and look down in surprise. For one of the gamma canisters had rolled over next to him. And a glance revealed that it was far from the only one.

Must've happened…while Misato – She-Hulk – was smashing stuff… Shinji thought warily as he rose to his feet. Better be careful…they're all full of gamma. Who knows…what would happen…if…

As Shinji carefully looked around, he saw the many, many gamma containers. And in their transparent surfaces, he saw his face reflected back at him but distorted. As green as the modified LCL that they contained, with expressions that were twisted with emotion. With…

The world seemed to grind to a halt as Shinji eyed his many, many reflections. And as he did, something in the back of his mind began to whisper in his ear. Mana…maybe she could…analyze this stuff, he numbly thought. Just in case…Akagi-san…isn't telling the truth about…something, and…

His train of thought fading away, Shinji knelt and grabbed the nearest gamma container. It…it'll be okay… Shinji nervously told himself as he slid the vessel into his backpack. If anybody finds out…I'll just tell them that…I was…getting them out of the way. Making sure that…they didn't break, or…or something…

His thoughts again breaking down, Shinji studied the container that now lay in the bottom of his backpack. Studied his reflection, distorted by the glowing green fluid within. Right before he hurriedly snatched up another container and put it inside as well.

His heart beating a mile a minute as he zipped up his backpack, the more rational part of Shinji telling him over and over that he was making a terrible mistake, the 3rd Child nonetheless stood up. Now I – need to find Misato! he decided, gulping loudly as he donned his backpack. Before she – breaks out of the base, or – huh?

A fitful, wet cough caught Shinji's attention, prompting him to look about for the source. And when he did, he forgot about everything else as his eyes went wide with horror.

Coughing raggedly, spewing irradiated liquid every time she opened her mouth, Asuka dragged herself out of the sluice. Sputtering and groaning in pain as she forced herself out of the irradiated LCL.

"I – Asuka?!" Shinji cried out before bolting towards the redhead. Only to grind to a screeching halt a few feet away from her as he watched the gamma-infused LCL still flowing off of her frame. Caught between the urge to help and the wariness he felt at the sight of the liquid radiation that she was soaked in, he had no idea as to what he should do. "I – are you alright?!"

As if only now becoming aware of his presence, Asuka speared Shinji with a hateful look. "Do I look alright to you?! Baka!"

Wincing at Asuka's wrathful words, Shinji shrank back a step. "Listen, I – you're covered in the gamma liquid! I – you stay there! I'll go find Ritsuko, or – or someone else! You need help, and -!"

"I don't need help! I don't need anything other than you out of my face, you worthless piece of schisse!" Asuka roared as she staggered up to her feet. "This is all your fault!"

"Wh-?! How is this my fault?!" Shinji demanded, incredulous at this accusation.

"Because everything wrong with my life is your fault!" Asuka snarled as she clenched her fists and glared with eyes filled with hatred. "Everyone always fawning all over you, making me look bad, turning Hikari and Kaji against me – it's all your…your…ohhh…!"

Asuka groaned in pain, bringing her hands to her temples as she closed her eyes. And suddenly, Shinji had a very bad feeling. "Uh…Asuka…?" he nervously got out even as he took a cautious step back, and then another one. "Asuka? Are – are you -?"

"Shut up! Just shut up!" Asuka snarled as she staggered about. "Can't you tell that I'm hurting here?! My head…my body…aaarrgghh!"

And as that deep, wrathful, agonized roar tore free of Asuka's lips, her eyes flew open. Allowing Shinji to see it when her pupils shifted from blue…to a burning, radiant red.

Shinji's mind was immediately emptied at this, every conscious thought he had replaced by shock, alarm, and confusion. Leaving him unable to do anything other than take a hesitant step back as Asuka slowly fell to her knees, her body throbbing and pulsating beneath her plug suit.

Oh…oh, nooooo…! Shinji moaned despairingly as he slowly, numbly backed away from the transforming redhead. It…can't be…!

But it was. There was no avoiding the truth as Asuka's body continued to pulse and swell up, growing larger and larger with each passing second. As the redhead continued to roar and snarl, her bones crunched and cracked, rapidly rebuilding themselves bigger and stronger. This was quickly followed by her muscles throbbing and growing as well, becoming more pronounced. Her thighs bulged tremendously, followed soon after by her calves, causing multiple small tears to appear in her plug suit.

Asuka's breasts then expanded tremendously, bolstered even more by the expansion of her pectorals. Her abdominals throbbed, becoming a washboard of muscle that forced her to arch her back. Crying out in pain and exhilaration, the mutating German grabbed hold of the front of her increasing taut plug suit. She tugged and pulled at the elastic material even as her shoulders expanded to the size of bowling balls, expanding even more as her traps seemed to push them further apart. This was followed by Asuka's biceps exploding into mountains of muscle, then her forearms rippling and hardening. Her hands grew larger, thicker, and as they tensed, the German gave one final guttural roar before finally ripping apart the front of her plug suit.

The mutating girl's breasts exploded free from the tattered plug suit, seeming to swell even larger in triumph. Then she fell forward, catching herself with both hands as her back rippled and bulged with muscle, swelling up and exploding out of her plug suit. And as more of the mutating German's flesh was revealed, the more her skin shifted, becoming brighter. First, it was tinged with pink, then it turned a shade of crimson, before finally becoming a deep, burning red. All the while her hair lengthened and darkened, turning into a shade of red so dark that it was almost black, save for a few strands of pure red.

As the German's metamorphosis continued, her size and musculature increasing, more and more of her plug suit broke apart and fell to the ground. Before long, the tattered outfit was naught but rags that were stretched out across her massive body, and it was tattered even more when the mutated girl experienced one final surge of growth that sent a wave of heat wafting over Shinji.

For a long time, Shinji stood transfixed, watching in horrified awe as what had once been Asuka heaved in breath after deep breath, her massive Amazonian form rising and falling before him. Until at last, she looked up, and he could see blazing yellow eyes shining out from beneath her shaggy mass of hair. Right before she slowly rose to her feet and towered over him.

And as Shinji looked up into the face of the mutated monstrosity that now stood before him, his brain weakly tried to process what was happening.

His brain dimly noted that a massive, hugely muscled girl, stood right in front of him. A Hulk, like Misato, except a different color.

It also remembered that said Hulk was Asuka.

It noted that Misato's transformation removed much of her human inhibitions and intelligence, resulting in her lashing out savagely at anyone that she was angry with or hated. And thus there was a strong possibility of the same thing happening to Asuka.

Then it remembered that Asuka hated Shinji, even on a good day. Something she had made abundantly clear on many, many occasions.

The fact that this most definitely qualified as being not a good day was also factored into the equation as Shinji's brain finally reached a decision

And that decision was to demand why Shinji wasn't already running as fast as possible before the crimson behemoth reduced him to a bloody smear.

The crimson beast that had once been Asuka took a step forward. She looked at the boy in front of her. And slowly grunted, "Shinji…"

Shinji's legs turned to rubber, his body freezing in an instinctual reaction to being the prey in view of a predator. But even as he struggled against this and fought to move, he spotted something out of the corner of his eye.

Another massive, lumbering form. A huge, green Amazon that was making her way back through one of the openings she had ripped in a wall, hauling around a metal beam that had been badly bent and mangled.

And when Shinji realized who that figure had to be, who he hoped it was, he cried out, "Misato! Help!"

She-Hulk immediately looked Shinji's way, her green irises flaring visibly even at that distance. As for Asuka's Hulk, she looked about in confusion. Then turned towards the green beast and muttered, "Uh…wha -?!"

That was all the red behemoth had had time to do. Because She-Hulk had heard Shinji's cry for help and had thus noticed the crimson Hulk's proximity to her charge. Her simple mind had put two and two together, and she had moved with such speed that the 3rd Child had been unable to track her movement. She just seemed to materialize right in front of the German mutant and smashed her in the stomach with the metal beam. The blow ripped the beam in two and sent the crimson Amazon flying through the nearest wall.

Panting furiously at how close he had come to certain doom, Shinji just stood there, drained of emotion as he struggled to recover. He was dimly aware of She-Hulk dropping the metal beam and then turning to look at him. Although the medical gown she wore had been tattered as a result of both her transformation and subsequent rampage, it still covered much of her form.

But Shinji wasn't focused on She-Hulk's body. The only thing he could focus on was the mutated face of his guardian and commander looking at him as she knelt down to massage his cheek. "Shinji…hurt?"

Seeing the gentle caring and compassion being beamed down upon him, Shinji felt both joy and shame. The monster that cared for him still lived. But he still had no way of knowing if that had come at the cost of the Misato that was his guardian. And at the moment, he was overwhelmed.

Shinji wanted to be comforted. He wanted to be held by the one thing that he knew would never, ever hurt him. That he could trust with his fragile heart, and know it would not be broken.

"I'm…not hurt," Shinji assured She-Hulk, taking hold of her hand even as tears spilled down his cheeks. "I…Misato, I…just…I want to go home. I want…to get away from here. Take me home, please? Take me someplace…where we can be alone together."

The powerful green Amazon nodded before gently scooping the small boy up in her arms. Then she marched out of the chamber, rapidly gaining speed as she made her way through the halls of NERV. Facing no opposition as she carried Shinji up and away from that place.

"Right. Understood," Ritsuko spoke over her phone. "Monitor their movements, but don't go anywhere near them. Just track Misato by her gamma signature and make sure that no one goes near…wherever it is that she and Shinji wind up going to. Just let her calm down and revert. We'll pick them up later. Hopefully, they'll land somewhere far away from anybody that's dumb enough to set Misato off again."

Sighing at this, Ritsuko ended the call and returned her phone to her pocket. "That was Section 2," she announced to Maya and Samson. "According to them, Misato has Shinji with her. It looks like he's managed to calm her down enough to lead up her up and away from NERV. She's taking him up to the city."

"Oh, great," Maya moaned miserably. "I just hope that no one's stupid enough to –"

"Don't say it!" Ritsuko broke in. "We've already had enough go wrong for one lifetime today without tempting fate even more!"

"I'm not sure if I believe in fate. Though I certainly can't disagree that plenty has already gone wrong for one day," Samson noted from his bed. The much more muscular therapist was presently surrounded by multiple NERV doctors and scientists that were taking readings, scanning him with Geiger counters and other such equipment, and doing their all to assess his current condition. "So, what about the others? Was everyone else able to get clear of that lab before it was locked down?"

"Nobody knows. Once She-Hulk started smashing, everyone else was off to the races. And with all the destruction, confusion, and people just trying to get as far from her as possible, we don't have a headcount," Ritsuko wearily muttered. "Hell, the only person we have the location of is Shinji, and that's only because Section 2 spotted him being carried by Misato."

"Which means that we don't know if anybody got stuck in there," Samson grimly noted.

Making a face, Maya chimed in with, "Or if anybody else was exposed. Like Samson was." When Ritsuko nodded in confirmation, the shy brunette asked, "So…what now?"

"Well, according to Section 2, there haven't been any sounds of smashing or more property damage," Ritsuko informed them. "But just because people might not have been mutated doesn't mean there might not be more cases of gamma exposure or worse. Also, we have to begin cleanup measures. There's a lot of gamma-infused LCL there that has to be cleaned up as soon as possible. Decontamination protocols, damage assessment…and then I have to fill out all of the paperwork for this mess…"

As Ritsuko found herself envisioning a monstrous pile of paperwork that dwarfed the one that had appeared on Misato's desk after the disastrous battle with the 7th Angel, she gave a weary sigh. "Anyway, I'm going down to meet with Section 2 and help coordinate a cleanup operation. Assess the situation and perform search-and-rescue."

Nodding to this, Samson then noted, "Sounds like you could use an extra set of hands."

"Huh?" Ritsuko frowned, not quite getting what the therapist meant. It wasn't until she watched him stand up that she got the picture. "Now, wait, Samson!" she declared even as the resident doctors made noises of protest. "I don't think that this is a good idea! We still have to assess your physical condition! I realize that you might feel fine, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any negative side effects to your transformation!"

"I know. But the way I see it, if anybody else has been…well, turned big and green or something else, you're gonna need some extra muscle. Besides, if there is something nasty happening in my cells, it's bound to take time for your people to figure it out." Then Samson made a face and added, "And, no offense, but…your track record for curing this sort of thing? Not good. So I might as well make myself useful elsewhere."

Groaning miserably the American's all-too valid points, Ritsuko rolled her eyes and grumbled, "Alright, fine! But at least stay out of the way until I give the order! I don't know how much stronger you've become, but I'd rather not have to put your new muscle to the test in a situation like this!"

"Heh. Me, neither. Unfortunately, life doesn't always afford us the luxury of picking and choosing when we get to do something," Samson replied. Then he smirked and added, "Besides, what's the point of having gamma-enhanced muscles if you can't use them to come to the rescue of a beautiful woman every now and again?"

Despite everything, Ritsuko found herself chuckling at this. Right before Maya asked, "Can I come, too, sempai? I mean…I'd rather be out there, doing something, than just sitting around here, waiting for…whatever else to go wrong."

Settling down, Ritsuko then sighed and looked at her former understudy. "Hmm. Can't blame you for that," she soon admitted. "Alright. Let's go see just how bad everything really is."

"Dr. Akagi, are you sure about this?" asked one of the nearby medical specialists. "We still have to conduct a full examination of Dr. Samson, and –"

"And if we bump into anything or anyone else down there that's also been mutated, we might need his help to deal with it. Because the last time I checked, Section 2 has an even worse track record dealing with superhumans, mutants, and more than we have," Ritsuko sternly declared. Then she turned towards Samson and added, "Just be sure to keep your distance. Those Geiger counters might think that you're not radiating any gamma, but I'm not in the mood to take any chances."

"Relax. I'm a big believer in following doctor's orders. You know, being a doctor myself who's had to deal with patients that don't listen," Samson smiled easily. "Now let's get moving. And I promise that, once the search and rescue part of this is done, I'll be a good little patient and go back to my room and take my medicine."

"That would be appreciated," Ritsuko admitted as she started forward, with Samson and Maya a short distance behind her.

But as Ritsuko started forward, she couldn't help but ponder this development. Somehow, Samson has retained his own mind and sanity, even after being gamma-mutated, the doctor thought excitedly. I'm not sure if it's because the level of gamma he absorbed was less than what Misato was hit by, or some biological factor or something else. But a thorough study of his mutation could go a long way in making Project: Titania work…

Eager to get Samson under a microscope and learn everything she possibly could about the unique intricacies of his mutation, Ritsuko continued to lead the way back to the chamber where they had failed to end their gamma-problems. Outside one of the doors was a Section 2 team, all of them equipped with hazmat suits and tranquilizer weapons. "Dr. Akagi. We're ready to –" one of the agents started, only for his eyes to round in surprise. "Wait – Samson?! What happened to him?!"

"Long story. But right now, we might need some added muscle with a functional brain in control of it. And Samson meets those criteria," Ritsuko declared, not in the mood for any delays. "Or do you want to run the risk of encountering another creature like She-Hulk without any protection?"

This got their attention. There wasn't a member of Section 2 that didn't recall what happened when they were on the business end of an angry She-Hulk. Just as Ritsuko was certain that there wasn't any among them that was eager for a repeat. "Ugh…understood, Dr. Akagi," the first agent muttered. "Um…listen, we were about to send a drone inside. Scout out the interior before sending anybody in."

"Excellent idea," Ritsuko promptly decided. "Is the drone equipped with a speaker? So we can speak to anyone that might be in there?"

"Affirmative. As well as infrared, sonar, and other sensory equipment," the agent replied even as other Section 2 personnel hefted up the drone. "It's also built to be quiet, so there's a chance of it not being detected before it detects whatever's inside."

"And it might not annoy whatever it finds into smashing it into pieces," Ritsuko noted. "Send it in. I want to see what we're dealing with in there."

Nodding to this, the Section 2 man ordered, "Send in the drone." As the other agents worked to carry out said order, he gestured at a small laptop, where one agent was already stationed. "You'll be able to see everything the drone sees over the monitor."

As Ritsuko nodded, Maya frowned and wondered, "Uh, what about the rest of NERV Central? If anybody else was exposed, couldn't they have already escaped?"

"Possibly, but given that we haven't had any reports of walls being ripped apart, equipment being destroyed, or people being attacked by giant green brutes, we're hoping that isn't the case," the agent admitted. "We have people on patrol, monitoring the situation. And I'm sure if anything happens, all we'll have to do is follow the screams and sounds of mayhem, chaos, and destruction."

"Yeah, that sounds about right," Samson admitted.

"Drone deployed," another Section 2 agent reported.

Ritsuko glanced at the drone that was lifting up and away from its handlers. Going through one of the openings in the lab that had doubtlessly been made by She-Hulk during her rampage. And it wasn't long before she could see the extent of the damage done, as well as the ruined remains of the tank Misato had been dunked in. "Ugh…" the doctor groaned miserably as she took in the colossal mess that She-Hulk had left in her wake. "Ikari is going to chew my ass off for this mess. And the hit our budget just took."

Not even wanting to imagine how they were going to explain this mess to the UN or how they were going to justify yet another increase to NERV's budget, Ritsuko did her best to assess the damage. "Looks like…most of the containers are still intact," Maya pointed out. "That's something, right?"

"Yes, but there's enough loose irradiated LCL in there to fill an Olympic pool with," Ritsuko muttered sourly. "We're going to have to do a complete inventory. I want to be certain that every last container is accounted for, and –"

"Hold up!" broke in the Section 2 agent that was piloting the drone. "I just spotted something moving in there. Something big."

I didn't want to hear that, Ritsuko groaned inwardly. What she actually said was, "Can you get a better look at it? Without bringing the drone in too close?"

The Section 2 agent just nodded and worked the controls. Ritsuko just watched the laptop screen as the drone gained altitude. Soon enough, she saw the figure the pilot had spotted and immediately groaned in her throat. For even though the light levels were low in the chamber, she could still discern the massive female figure that was presently looking at what looked like a shattered piece of glass. A figure with a long, messy mane of hair and huge masses of muscle flexing beneath her skin with every move she made.

"Aw, hell…" Ritsuko groaned in defeat.

"You said it," the lead Section 2 man moaned despondently amidst a chorus of similar noises of dismay. "Just what we needed; another big dumb rage monster."

"I wouldn't hit the panic button just yet," Samson noted. "Whoever it is we're dealing with, she's not rampaging. We might be able to deal with her peacefully."

Giving Samson a hopeful look, Ritsuko asked, "Any ideas?"

"Can you give us a bit more light? So we can try and identify…whoever we're dealing with here?" Samson asked. "Then we'll try talking to her. Assess how much her mind has been affected and see if we can reason with her."

Deciding that this was as good an idea as any, Ritsuko ordered, "Turn on the lights but keep them low-level. We don't want to annoy – whoever's in that Hulk."

"You'll get no arguments on that from me," the pilot muttered warily. Then he switched on the drone's lights, allowing everyone a better look. As well as some surprises.

"What the – she's red?!" Maya gasped in surprise even as the crimson brute slowly reacted to the sudden light.

"Just like Misato was when she was venting gamma," Ritsuko noted even as the massive mutant turned and narrowed her eyes at the drone. "I wonder why…"

"I'm more concerned about what she's wearing. Or…what's left of what she's wearing," Samson grimly muttered.

As soon as this was mentioned, Ritsuko focused on the crimson tatters that defended some measure of the red-skinned Amazon's modesty. And felt her eyes bulge in horror. "Oh, no…Asuka?! Of all the people to get dunked in gamma, it had to be her?!"

"Sempai!" Maya chided the older woman.

"Asuka has a temper even under the best of circumstances! And now she has all of that muscle to act on that temper!" Ritsuko cried out in dismay. "I'm amazed she hasn't razed this place by now!"

"Again, let's not hit the panic button just yet!" Samson broke in before Ritsuko could go into hysterics. "I don't know what's happened to Asuka's mind, but she's obviously not rampaging. She hasn't even attacked the drone, or -"


Ritsuko and the others jumped at these words, spoken by a voice that she didn't immediately recognize. Nor did she recognize it when it spoke again. "Can anybody hear me? Does that thing have a microphone?"

"What the -?!" Maya started.

"That's Asuka! She has control!" Ritsuko gasped in utter astonishment. "Turn on the speakers! Let me -!"

"With all due respect, Dr. Akagi…I think I'm better suited for this," Samson broke in. When Ritsuko gave him a look, she noted the frown on his face. "We can't be sure how Asuka's transformation has affected her mind. And until we have a firmer grasp on her mental state, I think I'm best suited to handle dealing with her in a way that won't set her off."

"Um, hello? Is anybody there?" the thing that had been Asuka demanded in a more demanding tone.

Groaning in her throat, Ritsuko then nodded and ordered, "Alright. Switch on the speakers. But everyone, stay quiet and let Samson handle this! Understood?!"

Everyone else nodded, and the pilot pressed a button and gave Samson a second quick nod. Smiling slightly, the American took a deep breath before speaking. "Hello. This is Dr. Leonard Samson. Can you hear me?"

"Oh, finally!" Asuka replied in a clear tone of relief. "Why didn't you answer right away?"

"My apologies, ma'am. However…I was having a brief discussion with my fellows as to how to best…address you," Samson smoothly explained. "I hope that you…won't take this the wrong way, but…well, given your current physical stature, there were concerns about upsetting you."

"Ohhhh! You thought I was like Misato!" Asuka replied with a nod of comprehension. "Then…yeah. I guess I can't blame…anybody for being…nervous about that."

Ritsuko frowned even more as she gave Samson a look. A look he returned before he asked, "Listen, um…my apologies, but…I feel I have to ask who I'm talking to. We're getting some interference on the camera, and…I can only see your general shape and not much more."

"Who…am I…?" Asuka hesitantly replied. This prompted Ritsuko to suck in a gasp, only for Samson to hold up his hand to her in negation. "I…umm…"

"Is something wrong?" Samson gently inquired. "Do you…not remember your name?"

"No, that's not it!" Asuka quickly replied. "I just…I'm not sure what I…want you to call me."

"What?" Maya wondered in a hushed voice. "What's she -?"

Samson quickly shushed her, holding his finger up to his lips as he did so. Then he cleared his throat and said, "Hmm…I see. Well…I can see you well enough to tell that you have red skin. So how about I just call you 'Red' for now? And maybe later, we can think of a name that you'd like better."

The creature that had once been Asuka seemed to frown in thought before finally shrugging and nodding. "That sounds fair. And…you're right about one thing; I am definitely red!" she admitted, gesturing at herself. "And it's a lot better than being called Asuka!"

Oh, no… Ritsuko groaned inwardly, bringing her hand up to massage her now-throbbing temples. I should've known…!

Managing to keep a smile on his face even as everyone else visibly blanched, Samson replied, "Oh? Then…I take it that you know Asuka?"

"Sure I know her! That damned bitch has ruined my entire life!" Red promptly shot back. "I used to have friends! I could have been happy! But that damned arrogant whore threw away all of that so she could be a pilot! That stupid, selfish, bullying bitch!"

Dammit! Another split-personality case! Asuka's gone, and now we have – whoever or whatever is driving that body right now! Ritsuko fumed irritably. She seems intelligent enough, but Project: Titania won't do me any real good if I can't control my own body! And that's not even getting into how this will affect Asuka's synch ability!

As Ritsuko shook her head and thought about all of the things that this could have disastrous ramifications for, 'Red' continued her tirade. "I mean, you should've seen Shinji when he was here earlier! I'd just come out for the first time in – what, a decade?! And the first thing he does when he sees me? He panics and thinks I'm about to beat him up!" Then the crimson Amazon shook her head and muttered, "Not that I blame him! After all, that's what Asuka would do! And how could he know that I'm not Asuka?!"

"I suppose that's a fair point," Samson admitted in a sympathetic tone of voice. "Listen, uh, Red? Why don't you come on out? Then you and I can discuss this matter further in NERV Medical? That way, the two of us can get to know each other while Dr. Akagi – you remember her, don't you?"

"Sure I do. Nice lady, if a bit cold at times," Red replied easily. "She really should stop smoking, though."

"Yes, it is a bad habit," Samson nodded thoughtfully. "But as I was saying, she has a lot of work that needs to be done. Including cleaning up all of the gamma liquid that's in there with you. So I was thinking that we could have a nice, quiet conversation while she and her people get to work."

"Well…okay. I guess that makes sense, and – wait a second!" Red suddenly gave the drone a fierce glare. "You're not – going to try and make me go away again?! Leave me trapped while Asuka gets my body to herself?!"

Ritsuko cringed at this, but Samson didn't miss a beat. "And how would I do that? Dr. Akagi and the best minds of NERV just tried doing something like that with She-Hulk, and…I think we all know how well that went. And as for Asuka…as I understand it, these metamorphoses are based on physical conditions that I have no control over. So…how am I supposed to make you go away?"

This prompted a thoughtful expression on Red's face as she visibly considered the matter. "Uh…I guess you've got a point there," she finally admitted. "Okay, fine! But – ugh, I hope I'm not stuck going back like with Misato and She-Hulk! There's so much I want to do! Go to school, make some friends, go on dates – all of it!"

"I understand you being impatient. But, uh…one thing at a time," Samson instructed her. "For example, I think you going to school and making friends would go a lot better if you had clothes in your size."

"Oh. Right. Good point," Red muttered. Then she covered herself up somewhat and asked, "Um…"

"Don't worry. I'm sure we can round up something you can wear while on the base," Samson assured her. "And if makes you feel any better…you're not the only one in need of a new wardrobe."

As Samson and Red continued their exchange, Ritsuko groaned sourly. It looks like Samson's got Asuka – Red – whatever under control. At least enough that I can deal with other problems, she grumbled inwardly. Like cleaning up this mess…and making arrangements for when Misato finally cools down and we can bring her and Shinji back down here!

A cool wind rustled through Shinji's hair as She-Hulk leaped through the air, carrying him above the increasingly deserted streets of Tokyo-3. The massively muscled beast-woman gently cradling Shinji as she made her way towards the apartment building that Misato had first brought him to shortly after his first battle.

She's bringing me home. Just like…how she did…that day… Shinji thought wearily as he buried his face in a mighty green shoulder. Then he closed his eyes and tried to relax. Tried to forget everything.

Everything except for the fact that he was being held. Being cared for. Being given the love he had not known for so many years.

"Shinji-kun...we're home," She-Hulk rumbled gently as she made her way up to the parking lot.

"I know," Shinji murmured in response. Content to let himself continue to be held. To forget about everything else, if only for a little while longer.

But then he spotted something out of the corner of his eye. The familiar, battered form of Misato's Renault. And while it didn't mean anything at first, it did prompt Shinji to gasp as he had an idea. "Uh, wait! Hold on a second!" he called out as he looked She-Hulk in the face. "Could you…set me down for a second? There's something I need to do."

Giving Shinji a look, She-Hulk then nodded and carefully set him down. Once his feet were securely on the ground, the 3rd Child doffed his backpack and stuffed it into the Renault, making certain to place it where it would be out of sight of the casual onlooker.

With any luck, no one will notice it. And I'll be able to get that container to Mana, Shinji thought as he gently closed the door. And if anybody notices…I'll…make something up. And…

"Shinji-kun?" She-Hulk rumbled gently. When Shinji turned about, he saw her looking down at him with concern and curiosity. "Why you put bag in car?"

"Uh…I just…wanted it someplace safe. So I can get it back later. That's all," Shinji quickly assured her. "Now…now I don't have to…think about it. And I can just…be with you." With these words, the emotionally worn boy reached out and took She-Hulk's ham-sized hand in both of his own smaller hands. "C'mon. Don't…worry about that. Let's just…be together. Forget about…everything else."

Nodding, She-Hulk smiled and once again scooped Shinji up in her arms. "She-Hulk…like that," she rumbled gingerly. "Want to be with Shinji-kun…"

"And I…want to be with you," Shinji assured her, once again savoring her warmth. A kindly, loving embrace. "So…let's head in back. So…nobody will see us. So we can be…alone."

Making a noise of agreement, She-Hulk carried Shinji to the back of the apartment building. To a more secluded area that would be out of sight of any passerby. And once there, the emerald behemoth slowly sat down, continuing to nuzzle the boy she held.

She had her Shinji. And thus, all was right with her world.

As for Shinji…he wanted it to be okay. He wanted to just forget everything and allow himself to be held.

But the longer he was cradled and loved, the more Shinji was unable to keep from thinking of hidden dreads. Unable to forget why this attempt at curing Misato had been undertaken in the first place.

That the levels of gamma in her system were increasing. And that Ritsuko feared that Misato would become trapped in the form of an emerald beast.


She's…taking a long time…to change back… Shinji eventually, reluctantly found himself thinking. Is…is it possible that…this is it? Could Misato…be stuck like this? Trapped in there…forever…?

No matter how much Shinji wished otherwise, how hard he fought to not do so, he couldn't help but think about that. That the teasing, caring guardian that had taken him into her life was now gone.

And while it was true that Shinji hadn't wanted She-Hulk to go away…that didn't mean that he wanted to sacrifice Misato, either.

The more he thought about this, the more horrible Shinji felt. And it wasn't long before he had to pull away from She-Hulk, something that surprised her. "Shinji-kun?" she rumbled, giving him a concerned look. "What wrong?"

Shinji didn't respond at first. There were just too many feelings churning in his heart, too much guilt and fear and concern for him to express. But at the same time, there was also a great deal that refused to be held back any longer. And as Shinji continued to look into the transmuted face of his guardian, he gulped loudly. And allowed his feelings to pour forth.

"Misato, I…" Shinji began, only to pause as he was forced to swallow a lump of bile. "I…when I first got that…that letter from you, I…I really didn't know what to expect. I…the Commander, he…he'd left me. After my…my mother died and he…destroyed everything he had had that belonged to her, I…I'd been alone. I mean…I had someone to watch over me, but…he didn't care. And…it was always…up to me to…take care of myself. Because…no else cared."

Tilting her head to the side, She-Hulk simply sat there and watched as Shinji continued to bare his heart. "I…when I came here…people cared about me. But…only because I could do what they wanted me to do. Because…I could pilot Unit 01 and…fight Angels. Father – the Commander – he only wanted me here because…he had a use for me. The kids at school…they were interested in me because…I'm an Eva pilot. And…they think that's exciting."

"So…so when you…brought me to your apartment, I…I couldn't figure out why. And…at first, I…I thought it was just that…you wanted someone to clean for you," Shinji hesitantly admitted. "Even…even after the…the Fourth Angel, I…it was hard for me to believe that…you really cared about me. I mean…not just because I could pilot. But because…you actually cared. That you…that taking care of me…wasn't just a job for you."

Shinji then flashed back to the time after the Jet Alone disaster, and how he expressed irritation over Misato being such a slob. With Toji and Kensuke stating that the fact that Misato allowed him to see this side of her when she wouldn't show it to anyone else meant that she viewed him as family. "It…it wasn't until you…first transformed – fought against Section 2 that…I realized that…how much you…wanted to protect me," he admitted, choking up as tears began to spill from his eyes. "That you…really cared about me. And – and…!"

Swallowing another lump in his throat, Shinji's world blurred around him as his eyes filled with more tears. "I – I'm sorry that – that I didn't see it before! That it took – this to make me realize that – I'm not just an Eva pilot to you! That I'm – I -!" He then choked on his own words, too much pain and loneliness tumbling out all at once. "You…you showed me something that – no one's shown me in my entire life! You – made me feel like something…more than just a tool! A weapon! That – you wanted me in your life! Not just as a pilot, but as me!"

Blinded as more tears spilled from his eyes, his entire body shaking like a leaf, Shinji sputtered out, "Misato, I – I don't care if you don't see me as anything but a child! I don't care if – if you don't feel about me that way! What you've given me – is something no one else ever has! And I – I can't lose you! I can't lose – any part of you! Because I – Misato, I…!"

Shinji gulped one final time. On the verge of collapse as he finally said, "Misato, I…I love you! And – I want to be with you! I don't care if you – just see me as a child or something! I -!"


The voice with which his name was spoken froze Shinji in place, as did the tender hand that he felt cupping his cheek. They prompted him to stop crying, to blink away his tears.

And when the last of the blinding tears fled his eyes, it wasn't the green-skinned beast-woman that Shinji saw. But the all-too-human Misato that was staring at him in astonishment.

Shinji sucked in a fearful gasp. He knew that it wasn't a simple beast-woman unconstrained by societal norms and human prejudices that had heard his words. He had just bared his heart to a very human woman that had every reason to reject his feelings. And would be entirely justified for letting him down gently or worse.

Shinji just stood there for the longest time, waiting and wondering and dreading what came next. Looking into Misato's wide, confused eyes as she looked into his. Neither of them saying anything.

Then Misato started to slowly lean in closer to Shinji. Her breathing coming hard and fast as she drew herself closer to him. Until at last, she planted her lips firmly upon his own.

Shinji froze even more firmly in place, unable to even think, let alone move. All he could do was hang there with Misato's hands clasping his head and her lips gently massaging his own. Feeling his body react of its own accord to her ministrations.

When Misato finally pulled, she left Shinji dumbstruck. His mind was so overwhelmed that it took some time for him to recover his wits. And when he did, he saw the purple-haired woman looking anxiously at him.

Looking with what he could only describe as…anticipation.

Shinji's conscious mind was too far gone to think. To make sense of what had happened. But something in the back of his mind, something primitive and forceful, urged him to lean forward. Compelled him even as he hesitated, warring with fear and confusion. For while he and Misato had kissed before, this felt different.

More serious. More intense.

So much so that it was only after a seeming eternity that Shinji managed to conquer his fears…and return Misato's kiss.

The two of them kissed for what felt like a seeming eternity, with Shinji's mind going from confusion to being enshrouded in pleasure. Pleasure that subsided for a time when he hesitantly broke the kiss, leaving him and Misato staring at each other. Pleasure that returned with a sudden shock as Misato drew herself in towards him once more.

The two of them embraced, with Misato clinging to Shinji so tightly that it felt like her nails were being driven into his back. Then she crushed the boy beneath her, continuing to kiss him furiously as she did her all to wrap herself around his body.

As for Shinji, his mind was effectively gone. He wasn't able to think of anything at that moment. Nor did he care to.

He was being shown love by the one being that had proved that he could be loved. Creature, woman, it didn't matter to Shinji what she was. He was being loved. And all was right with his world.

"So the Major's reverted, but…she and Shinji are right next to their apartment?" Maya asked as she followed Ritsuko.

"According to our readings," Ritsuko grumbled sourly. "I've ordered Section 2 to cordon off the area but to stay away from them. Misato's bound to be in a bad place right now, given that our attempt at curing her failed. She's sure to be emotionally volatile, which means that it wouldn't take much to set her off."

"And we don't want her being set off," Maya murmured anxiously. Then she studied the ruined mess that had once been their best chance at curing Misato. "Once today was enough."

"You mean one time too many," Ritsuko groaned with a shake of her head.

Frowning as she considered the matter, Maya then asked, "So…what now? Who's going to retrieve the Major and Shinji?"

"Makoto," Ritsuko flatly declared. "After Section 2, Kaji's the most likely to set Misato off. I need to oversee cleanup here, along with every other ranking science specialist. Samson, he's being examined and needs to keep 'Red' under control. And as for Shigeru, I have no idea where he is. Wouldn't be surprised if he's already found the deepest, darkest hole in this base to hide away in."

Nodding to this, Maya scanned the area. "And what about me, sempai?"

"You?" Ritsuko replied, giving Maya a look and a slight smile. "I just told you that I need every ranking science specialist here to handle the cleanup. That is, if you're willing to help."

Maya's eyes went wide. "What?! Really?!" she demanded. "But – after what's happened -!"

"I'm going to need someone I trust to help clean this mess up. And there's no one I trust more with this kind of thing than you, Maya," Ritsuko assured her with a soft smile. "And while you're technically not on duty…I can use as many hands as I can get with taking inventory of those gamma containers. We have to make sure that every last one of them is accounted for."

"Uh…wait," Maya frowned in confusion. "You don't think…that somebody might have stolen some?"

"No, of course not," Ritsuko quickly explained. "But we've already seen that the irradiated LCL is somehow able to induce a mutation similar to Misato's in other people. And while we've gotten lucky with Samson and 'Red'…I'm in no mood to push my luck. So we need to make sure that every last one of them is accounted for. Because if any of them break and someone else is exposed…"

Maya groaned in her throat at the image this painted. "I see what you mean," she admitted, massaging her arm. "I…I don't want anybody to…wind up like…I did…"

Shuddering at memories from before, at the blood that still stained her hands, Maya was brought back to the moment when she felt a hand upon her shoulder. "I'm sorry, Maya. I didn't mean to bring that up," Ritsuko gently but wearily assured her. "If you…you'd rather just go home, then –"

"No, no! Of course not!" Maya hurriedly protested. Giving a soft shake of her head, the brunette added, "If I went home, then…all I'd be doing is waiting and worrying about it there. At least if I stay here, then…I can find out what's happening faster. And keep busy."

A moment passed before Ritsuko gave a slight nod. "I know how that feels," she admitted. "Alright. But try and take it easy. I'll show you where the storage room is. Once there, all you have to do is take inventory as we clean up the mess that She-Hulk left us with."

Nodding to this, Maya moved to follow the scientist as she made her way through NERV. It wasn't long before the two of them encountered numerous technicians in hazmat suits that were pushing a couple of carts. "Dr. Akagi!" one of them announced, her voice distorted by the suit. "How're things going?"

"Well, we don't have any big Technicolor rage monsters smashing NERV apart, so…that's something," Ritsuko grumbled with a sense of gallows humor. "How're our efforts to keep it that way?"

"Going slowly," the tech complained. "A lot of the containers were shattered, and some of the ones that weren't were cracked. I'm just glad that this stuff doesn't radiate through the air. Otherwise…"

The tech shook her head dismally, to which Ritsuko nodded. "I know. What a mess," she muttered. "Anyway, let's get to work. Hopefully, we can make a dent in this mess before I have to examine Misato. See where we stand with her…condition."

"Hopefully, we at least lowered her gamma levels a bit," the tech suggested. "I mean, with all of the gamma we got out of her…maybe we bought ourselves some breathing room."

"Considering what happened? I'm not holding my breath," Ritsuko sourly replied. "Anyway, let's get to work. Maya?"

"Huh?" Maya started. "I mean…yes, sempai?"

"As soon as we get to the storeroom, I want you to take stock of the intact containment vessels," Ritsuko instructed her. "Don't even think of going anywhere near the broken ones. Even though they're not radiating any gamma, I'm not in the mood to take any more chances."

"Don't worry, sempai! I won't -!" Maya started, only for her eyes to go wide. "Uh…wait a minute. Won't the intact containers also be covered in gamma? Is it really safe for me to…?"

"No. Which is why you're going to put on a hazmat suit before you even get started. As will I," Ritsuko informed her in no uncertain terms. "The intact containers will be washed down for storage. But I still don't want anybody taking any dumb chances. Not after everything that's already gone wrong."

Nodding to this, Maya proceeded to follow her mentor. Not long after, the two of them were garbed in NERV standard hazmat suits, with the brunette being led to the storage room proper. "Okay. Here's everything you need," Ritsuko stated, handing her former understudy a clipboard and pen. "Just count all of the intact vessels and put them in their storage racks. And remember; stay away from any of the damaged ones. We'll deal with those later."

"Right! Of course, sempai!" Maya replied with an eager nod.

"Now I get to oversee the cleanup of all of that spilled gamma LCL so it can be properly stored away," Ritsuko groaned sourly. "I'm not going to be seeing my apartment for at least a few days…"

Chuckling sympathetically, Maya couldn't help but think, I remember that feeling. Feeling almost nostalgic for a time when she didn't even have time enough to do her laundry, the brunette sighed and settled down. And while this isn't the kind of work I'd like to be doing…it's better than sitting around at home, doing nothing…

With this thought in mind, Maya settled down and went to work. Counting the intact vessels as they were slowly brought in and then carefully storing them away. It was an easy, if slightly monotonous job, but it was a taste of her old life. Of the things she had done at NERV before she had been promoted out of it. And after everything she had been through, it was like a small taste of heaven.

Which made it all the more depressing when Maya ran out of intact containers to put away.

As Maya finally sat back and observed all of the carefully processed, accounted, and stored canisters of gamma fluid, she was able at first able to issue a sigh of contentment and pride. But as she continued to sit there, increasingly aware that there was nothing left for her to do, she found her thoughts wandering. Wandering to the various duties that her friends and former workmates were now performing. Things that she knew that most people would find to be dull and tedious, but now meant the world to the brunette.

I wonder what sempai is going to do with all of this gamma fluid? Maya found herself wondering. I know that part of the plan is to use the Major's gamma to supercharge the Evas, but…there's bound to be all kinds of applications to having so much hard radiation stored away in such a – relatively safe way! All kinds of things that we can do with…that kind of…power…that much…power…

Feeling her thoughts drift, Maya frowned in confusion as an odd sensation registered with her. It was like she smelled something, but not quite. It wasn't an aroma, but a different kind of feeling.

And the longer Maya sat there, trying to articulate the sensation, the more she felt her responding to it. The more it made her feel…hungry.

No, not hungry. But…something else…a need of some kind, Maya corrected herself as she rose from her seat. But – what is it? What is this…oh, no…!

With a sense of mounting dread, Maya slowly turned to the far section of the storeroom, where all of the shattered and damaged containers that had been gathered so far were. And with a groan of low horror, she felt her body growl with hunger and need. Like something inside of her was desperately urging her to go towards the ruined vessels.

And I know what that something is! The nanites inside of me! Maya realized, feeling sick to her stomach. They might be stabilized, but – they still want that gamma power! Maybe it's some kind of – instinctual need or something, I don't know! But they want it and they want it badly!

Maya groaned once more because she knew that indulging the Angelic nanites' hunger wasn't an option. All it would take was for someone to come in at the exact wrong time to see the brunette with her bare hands in the gamma-irradiated cookie jar.

But why didn't I feel anything until now?! Maya demanded of the universe even as the nanites within her cried out for food. Are the nanites…running low on energy again? Or is it that I was…just too keyed up and distracted to notice this until now?!

Maya's first instinct was to find some equipment with which to run an analysis on the nanites that flowed through her blood. Find out what they were doing inside of her. But even as she pondered the various NERV labs that held what she needed, a renewed surge of hunger hit her, and she realized that there was no point in it at that moment.

The nanites within her were hungry. And Maya had already seen the consequences of not allowing them to feed.

But – I can't! Not here! Not now! Maya fretted inwardly. I'll be caught for sure! There are cameras everywhere down here! I try and absorb the gamma now, I can say goodbye to my life forever!

This was a rational concern. But the nanites within her were not rational. All they knew, all they were, were raw hunger. They wanted food, food that was in abundance right before Maya. And thus they continued to scream at her for the food that they craved.

What am I going to do?! Maya screamed inwardly.

What am I going to do…? Misato thought miserably as she walked down the halls of NERV, escorted by some technicians. There was no sign of Section 2, no sign of any weapons or anything else that might provoke her.

And even though the tension and fear the NERV staffers felt of her was as plain as day on their faces, Misato barely paid that any mind. She was far too focused on her inner conflicts, her inner demons.

On the fact that a line had been crossed that day. And not only was there no going back, but there was no denying what had been made clear.

Shinji…in love…with me?! Misato cried out once more as she was numbly escorted back down to her gilded cage. He really…feels that way…about me…?

No matter how many times Misato replayed those moments in her mind, she couldn't get over the shock she felt at this revelation. She and Shinji had gotten close, the purple-haired woman was aware of that. And it was true that there had been plenty of indicators that their relationship had grown well past Shinji being her ward and subordinate and Misato his guardian and commanding officer. But the idea that he would feel that way about her, that Shinji could ever love her so unconditionally without a thought of her returning his affections…

And that's the worst part… Misato couldn't help but think as she slightly shook her head. I – because I – I think that…dammit, how long have I been waiting and wanting that?! For someone to genuinely love me?! To say those words right to my face and mean it?! Where it's – not just about sex or wanting a date or – something?! How long have I -?!

Misato's train of thought derailed completely at this point. The thought that anybody could love someone like her? A drunk and a slob? Someone that had soiled herself with Kaji? Someone that used children to feed her sick obsessive need for revenge upon the Angels? And most of all, someone that shared her body with a brutish, mindless monster? That was insane in and of itself.

But the fact that Misato wasn't disgusted by this notion, that she honestly felt a part of herself welcoming it...

That at that moment when she emerged from the form of her bestial other, Shinji's confession fresh in her ears…

That instant when all she could think of was taking the young man that had voiced the very feelings that she had waited so painfully long to hear…

I want to be loved…I want someone to love back… Misato admitted, her heart heavy with guilt. I want it so badly that…I can barely stand it! But – why Shinji?! Why did he – why him?! Why me?! I mean – I can't – he's just – it's wrong, I just can't -!

Again, Misatp's thoughts derailed. One of the things that made this so much harder was the fact that Shinji had quite a few commendable traits that any woman would find attractive. He was brave, even though he didn't feel that way about himself. He was caring, something that he had demonstrated in everything he had done for Misato. In the time since his arrival in Tokyo-3, Shinji had demonstrated an ability to snipe back at his slovenly guardian. And on a purely selfish level, he was certainly attractive for a young man of his age.

Yeah! His age! Which is half of mine! Misato screamed at herself. I – how – how can I – what am I -?!

"Major?" came a voice. "Major Katsuragi?"

Startled by this voice after being so embroiled in her inner conflicts, Misato dumbly looked up to see a worried face looking at her. "Oh…uh, Chihiro…?"

"I just said that…we're here," Chihiro said gently as she gestured ahead. "We're back at…your place."

Still dazed and confused from so abruptly being brought back to reality, Misato looked about. Only to sigh in realization when she saw her enclosure again. "Right. I…thanks. I…"

"Uh, before we take you back in…Dr. Akagi told me to get a couple of blood samples from you," Chihiro stated. "She wanted to evaluate your current gamma levels. And see whatever effects…well, see what else might have changed."

"Oh. Alright," Misato dumbly responded as she let Chihiro and the others go about their work. Barely even feeling it as they took their samples before ushering the purple-haired woman into her gilded cell. Then they quickly made excuses to remove themselves from Misato's presence, making plenty of sympathetic gestures in regards to the failed attempt at curing her and promising to continue their attempts to help her. There were also promises to check in on Shinji and make sure that he was alright before they departed. The enclosure's massive door slowly grinding shut the final sound Misato heard as she sat down on her bed…and surrendered to the maelstrom of emotion swirling in her heart.

"Why…why me…?" Misato asked as she lay back on her bed, her heart beating a mile a minute as she tried to sort everything out. "How could Shinji fall in love with me?!"

Misato then winced, because she already knew the answer. Shinji had explained the reasons behind his feelings even as his raw emotions cascaded from his eyes back in that alley.

But that didn't answer another more important question. Namely, what was Misato going to do about it? About her feelings?

How long have I been waiting…for someone to love me? To say what Shinji said to me? Misato thought, tears of gratitude and guilt welling up in her eyes. How long…Shinji…I…

As Misato wrestled with the reality that her concerns about Shinji's feelings had been confirmed, another stark reality manifested. Namely, her reaction to the 3rd Child's declaration of love. Of the outpouring of raw emotion that his words had triggered. And how she had acted out of sheer need and loneliness.

That moment when someone told Misato the things she had so desperately wanted to hear for so long. All of it coming from a young man that had already come to mean the world to her. The boy she cared for, that she respected and liked. The boy that had done so much for her already.

The boy that Misato…that her bestial other…

"Oh, god…" Misato moaned despairingly. "I think I've fallen in love with a fourteen-year-old boy…"

At this, Misato curled up even more, trying to hide from her own memories. Tried to shunt away the images of her and Shinji kissing and rolling about on the ground. Both of them having surrendered to raw need and physical desires, mindlessly surrendering to natural urges until they became aware of Makoto gently calling out to them. With Misato wondering just how much further they would have gone if they hadn't been interrupted and sanity allowed to reclaim them.

"I…I can't deal with this…" Misato croaked out miserably. The purple-haired woman burying herself beneath the covers and her pillow as much as she could. "I – I have to – can't deal with – I have to…get away…just…want everything to…go away…"

I don't think I've ever wished I could just run away from everything as much as I do now… Ritsuko groaned miserably as she wandered wearily through the halls of NERV. How late is it? Is it night yet? Must be getting close to dinnertime. Ugh…

Groaning at the various physical discomforts and an empty stomach nagged at her, Ritsuko sighed and once again found herself looking forward to shedding such annoyances once Project: Titania was complete. But for now, I have to focus on collecting data for it and…all of my other duties…

Shaking her head, Ritsuko almost jumped out of her skin when a voice from behind called out, "Dr. Akagi!"

"Huh?!" Ritsuko yelped and looked around. Only to settle down when she saw the speaker. "Lt. Mifune? What is it?"

"Just wanted to let you know that Major Katsuragi is back in her enclosure," Chihiro swiftly replied. "We also took the samples you asked for."

"Did you analyze them?" Ritsuko wondered.

"I got the analysis started. It'll be a few hours before we get the full results," Chihiro admitted. "But I can confirm that the Major's gamma levels have gone down quite a bit."

Heaving a deep breath, Ritsuko nodded. "Hopefully, that buys us a little breathing room," she muttered sourly. "And Shinji?"

"Back at his apartment," Chihiro informed the doctor. "Since they were already right next to it, Makoto and the others decided that the best thing to do was just leave him there."

Deciding that this made sense, Ritsuko muttered, "We still have a lot of cleanup to do. And I have to make sure that all of the gamma containers have been accounted for." Then she mentally added, As well as fudge the numbers a bit so I can take some of them to experiment with myself. Knowing that all of that extracted gamma could be a crucial resource for Project: Titania, the faux-blonde doctor then muttered, "And then there's the matter of our new gamma mutant…"

"Think we'll have to build an enclosure for her?" Chihiro wondered. "Or have her move in with the Major?"

"I hope not," Ritsuko groaned. "We don't have the budget for a second enclosure. And Asuka stuck in that enclosure with Misato? They'll be setting off the sleeping gas on a daily basis!"

"And…speaking of which…has Asuka changed back yet?" Chihiro asked. "Any idea why she's red?"

"I have no idea. On either count," Ritsuko confessed. "That's why I'm on my way to NERV Medical; to check on Samson and see what's happening with Asuka. Or Red. Or whoever the hell she is right now. And hope like hell that neither have their conditions have worsened. Or – never mind!"

Wincing at how close she had come to tempting fate on a day when fate had already been working overtime, Ritsuko continued onward. And so it wasn't long before she arrived at NERV Medical…and was confronted with sheer chaos.

"Oh, c'mon!" Red pleaded with the doctors. "I feel fine! And I've got something to wear now, so -!"

"But – we can't let you leave!" grunted one of several doctors that were presently straining every muscle in their bodies.

"But why?!" Red wondered incredulously. The massively muscled German was now wearing a tight-fitting medical gown. And was presently making her way through the facility with several doctors clinging to her and digging in their heels. All in a vain attempt to prevent the crimson behemoth from doing whatever she wanted. "It's not like you can actually run any of your tests, so -!"

"What's going on here?!" Ritsuko demanded, feeling like she was on the verge of collapsing in the face of absolute madness.

As everyone there took notice of Ritsuko's arrival, time seemed to freeze for a brief moment. Right before Red effortlessly shrugged off the many doctors and darted up to the faux-blonde. "Oh, there you are, Dr. Akagi!" the gamma mutant called out excitedly. "Listen, can you tell these people to leave me alone? I'm heading up to the city for something to eat!"

"Wait, what?!" Ritsuko spat out in shock. "You can't do that! We need you down here! We have tests to run!"

"But they've already tried to run their tests! And they can't!" Red decreed, gesturing at the doctors. "Besides, I've got something to wear now, and -!"

"You've got a hospital gown that's barely large enough to fit!" Ritsuko reminded the gamma mutant. "And what do you mean, they can't run any tests?! Why not?!"

"Uh…yeah. That's proven to be a problem." Looking about in surprise, Ritsuko noticed Dr. Samson approaching with a look of chagrin on his face. "You see, the doctors here tried taking blood samples from both of us. But…the needles, they can't punch through our gamma-irradiated skin."

"Exactly! So what's even the point?" Red asked as if this was the most reasonable question in the world. "Besides, it's so cramped down here! I want to go out and up to the city! Have some fun!"

"And panic the entire city while you're at it?!" Ritsuko demanded. "Or have you forgotten about the kind of rampages She-Hulk has gone on in the past?!"

Red blinked a few times at this. "Wait…you're not saying…that they'd think that I'm her?! But I'm red, not green!"

Ritsuko was about to counter this, but then Samson held his finger to his lips in a shushing gesture. "Uh, if I may make a suggestion?" he started, coming up beside Red and placing a hand on her shoulder. "I understand you wanting to get out for a bit. Heck, things are feeling a bit smaller than usual for me as well. And…well, I didn't get as big as you did. But at the same time, I do agree with Dr. Akagi; having you go up and about as you are now could very easily scare a lot of people. Especially since it's going to be dark very soon, making it a lot harder for folks to identify you by color. And I'm sure you don't want to scare people." When Red groaned in dismay, Samson smiled thoughtfully. "So I'll tell you what. I'll arrange to have some pizzas and beverages delivered to us. Then we can head out into the Geofront and just relax for a bit. It'd be like a picnic. And then we can get to work on arranging for you to get an actual wardrobe so you can make a proper debut in Tokyo-3. How does that sound?"

Red frowned slightly, making a thoughtful but impatient noise in her throat. "Ugh…it's not what I'd really like to do…but I guess you do have a point. I don't want to wind up causing a panic," she admitted. "Besides…a pizza or two would be good…just be able to do something as me…"

"Then choose your toppings and I'll go and make the arrangements," Samson told her.

Nodding to this, Red listed the kind of pizzas she would like. Then Samson was able to convince her to relax and wait while he handled the arrangements. And as he made his way to find a phone, stating that his had been ruined by the gamma he'd been doused with, Ritsuko and Chihiro approached Samson. "Nice job defusing that situation," the faux-blonde doctor told him. "But I don't think it's such a good idea for you and…'Red' to go outside of the base."

"With all due respect, Dr. Akagi…how do you plan on stopping her from doing whatever she wants?" Samson wondered with a raised eyebrow. "Besides, we have a much more serious problem here."

"Huh?" Chihiro frowned, clearly confused. "What kind of problem?"

"Didn't you notice Red? How she was acting?" Samson wondered in a deceptively mild tone of voice. "Didn't she seem…pretty calm to you?"

Considering this for a moment, Ritsuko then shrugged. "I guess so. About as calm as she was when we first found her."

"And…you're not concerned by this?" Samson asked, still speaking in that same mild tone. "Not at all?"

"Why would I be?" Ritsuko asked simply. "To be honest, I was scared that she'd lose her temper about something and rip the entire base apart. Why?"

"Because it's pretty obvious that, whatever's happened to her, Asuka's mutation isn't at all like what happened with Major Katsuragi. It doesn't work the same way," Samson noted.

"Well, that much is obvious. This 'Red' persona is much more stable than Misato's She-Hulk self," Ritsuko promptly stated. "And then there's her red skin…I wonder why that is? And if there are any other differences between her mutant physiology and Misato's?"

"And that brings me to the thing we should be concerned about," Samson stated. "Because as you said, Red is calm. Calm as can be. Not the slightest bit angry about anything. Impatient to get out and have fun, sure. But she's not the slightest bit angry."

"Yes, and thank goodness for -!" Ritsuko replied with pure relief. Only for her to cut herself off when the meaning behind Samson's words struck home.

At which point Ritsuko smacked herself in the face and groaned in horror. "Oh, no!"

"Exactly," Samson nodded with a weary frown.

As Ritsuko massaged her throbbing temples, Chihiro was blankly looking back and forth between the two of them. "What?! What is?! What's wrong?!"

"What's wrong is the fact that Asuka hasn't changed back!" Ritsuko cried out in dismay. "When Misato gets mad, she changes into She-Hulk. And when She-Hulk calms down, she changes back into Misato! So if Asuka's transformation worked the same way -!"

"Then she should've reverted by now!" Chihiro concluded, her eyes rounding with horror. "Do you think – this is permanent?!"

"Don't know. But I suggest that you should continue discussing this matter once I've gotten Red away from here," Samson suggested. "We don't want her thinking that we're a threat to her existence."

As Ritsuko was forced to concede Samson's point, her ears pricked at the sounds of loud footsteps. Realizing what this meant, the doctor was able to brace herself just in time for Red to emerge from a nearby door. "Hey, Doc Samson! Are the pizzas on their way here?!"

"On their way, Red," Samson cordially assured her. "But it will take a little while for them to get here. So –"

"Then let's go to the tram station and wait for them to get here!" Red declared with an eager grin even as she hefted Samson up with one arm and slung him over her shoulder. "The sooner I get out of this cramped place, the better! I want to feel the grass beneath my feet! I want to have fun!"

As Red stomped away, Samson looked helplessly at Ritsuko and shrugged. Leaving the faux-blonde to groan and cover her eyes. "I'd beg for this day to not get any worse…but I'm sure all that would do is tempt fate into doing just that…"

"Look at it this way, doctor," Chihiro chimed in. "It should be night soon. Won't be long before today turns into yesterday."

"And do I even want to know what tomorrow is going to be like?" Ritsuko asked, already suspecting that she did not want to know.

As the hours slowly crept by, Misato eventually fell into a deep, discomforted sleep. She was bombarded on all sides by conflicting, chaotic emotions and images that tormented her and drove her deeper into the depths of unconsciousness. Hiding from her feelings. Hiding from the uncomfortable truths so she couldn't have to deal with them.

This went on for hours, with Misato's body tossing and turning relentlessly to the tune of her inner demons fighting and clawing at each other.

Until at last Misato's eyes flung open.

Blinking a few times in confusion, Misato looked about her surroundings, slowly taking them in. Then she sat up, gazing down upon her form. "What…the…?" she got out, still confused. Only for a wicked smile to spread across her face. "Oh, I see…so that's how it is!"

Laughing giddily, the purple-haired woman promptly jumped out of bed and got to her feet. "Looks like that fiasco did a lot more than force little Misato to be a lot more honest with herself!" she declared as she started sauntering through the enclosure. "It also managed to uncork yours truly! And with nobody else to put a damper on it!"

Laughing deviously, she made her way to the bathroom and looked herself in the mirror. "Hmm…looks like all of that exercise she's been doing has been paying off! Shed a lot of the pounds, better muscle tone…and I think the girls have gotten bigger, too!" she declared with a note of satisfaction. "Still…while this body is in better shape…I'm in the market for something…bigger!"

With these words, the woman sucked in a deep breath, puffing out her chest. Then she leaned forward and flexed her arms in front of her chest. As her heart began to pound and her breathing quickened, she grinned and laughed as the power began to flow freely through her cells, rapidly reshaping her body. She laughed triumphantly as her breasts and muscles bulged tremendously, as her bones cracked and reshaped themselves, as her skin darkened and her medical gown was shredded.

"Yeah! Yeah!" she roared in triumph, grabbing hold of her tattered garment and ripping off what remained of it. "What's the point of having a body like this if you can't flaunt it?!"

But even as her transformation was reaching its completion, a noxious hissing sound was heard. Prompting her to look about and see the sleeping gas being pumped into the enclosure. Ha! That might've worked on that lumbering idiot that usually comes out! she thought as he heaved in a deep breath and held it. But unlike her, I'm smart enough to hold my breath!

Grinning at this, she then marched her way over to the enclosure's door. And even as the stench of the sleeping gas tried to fill her nose, she drove her hands into the thick metal…and effortlessly pried the door open.

The instant the alarms started blaring, Ritsuko didn't panic. She didn't look about wildly. She just let her eyes roll up into their sockets, groaned in defeat, right before smacking her head into the nearest wall. "Goddammit, what the hell is it now?!"

Wondering when this god-awful day would ever end, Ritsuko managed to pull herself together enough to bring out her phone. After dialing the number that would connect her to Section 2, she demanded, "This is Dr. Akagi! What the hell is going on?!"

"Dr. Akagi! We have a Code Green!" wailed the Section 2 agent she got. "Major Katsuragi has transformed and has broken out of her enclosure!"

Ritsuko immediately felt the blood drain from her face. "Oh, you've – and Shinji's back at his apartment! And Samson and Asuka – Red – are off having a picnic!" she screamed in consummate disgust. "I – alright! Where is she heading?!"

"She's making her way up to upper levels!" the agent informed her. "Best guess? She's heading for the tram station!"

"Then have a team meet me there! And keep me informed as to her movements!" Ritsuko ordered as she broke into a run. "But whatever happens, nobody gets in her way! And nobody shoots at her!"

"Why would we?! It's not like anything short of a nuke is going to do more than piss her off!" the agent demanded.

Unable to deny that, Ritsuko then ordered, "Coordinate evacuation protocols! Make sure that all NERV personnel are cleared out of anywhere near She-Hulk and her projected path! Who knows what's going through that thick, green skull after everything that's happened?!"

"Understood!" the agent responded. "So what do you plan on doing?!"

Ritsuko frowned and quickly contemplated her options. She considered having someone locate Samson and Red, but then she discarded that notion. Both of them were newly mutated with no way of knowing how strong they were or how stable their conditions were at the moment. And just the thought of having three gamma mutants in a no-holds-barred slugfest inside of the Geofront made her shudder. No doubt about it, that kind of all-out battle was the absolute last thing she wanted or needed. "I'll try and talk her down!" Ritsuko finally declared. "I might not be Shinji, but I should be able to get Misato to cool down enough to revert!"

"I sure hope you're right about that!" the Section 2 agent declared.

So do I! Ritsuko thought in response. Dammit! The list of reasons to make Project: Titania a success just keeps getting longer and longer! I'd feel a lot better if She-Hulk couldn't just obliterate me with a sneeze!

Moving as quickly as she could, Ritsuko eventually arrived at the tram station. As soon as she got there, she eyed the many Section 2 agents that were present. All of them were armed with weapons that would only serve to annoy the green Amazon that was surely on her way.

"What's Misato's position?!" Ritsuko demanded. "Is she still heading this way?!"

"According to monitoring staff," replied a nearby agent. "However, they – they said that she's acting weird. She's not…smashing or attacking anything. She's just…stomping her way through the base."

Ritsuko frowned at this. If Misato had been provoked into transforming by a nightmare, she would have expected She-Hulk to be a lot louder and a lot more destructive. Then again, maybe I shouldn't complain! She then decided. Aloud, she then announced, "Alright! All of you, get out of sight. Stay close but do not show yourselves unless I give the word! If at all possible, I'd like to talk her down peacefully without making her madder!"

"I'm perfectly fine with that!" declared the agent. "I've been on the business end of this big green bitch too many times already!"

With that, every Section 2 agent present scrambled out of sight. Before long, Ritsuko wouldn't have been able to tell that she wasn't alone if she didn't know better. So, now all I have to do is wait for the big green rage monster to show up so I can try and convince her not to reduce me to a bloody pulp…the day I'm able to transform also and not be scared for my life can't come soon enough…!

As Ritsuko shook her head, she became aware of the sound of approaching footsteps. Loud, heavy footsteps that shook the ground. And so, the faux-blonde heaved in a deep breath and resigned herself to her fate. Don't worry, Ritsuko. You've done this before, she reminded herself. She-Hulk's temperamental, but she doesn't attack those she considers friends. So as long as you're on that list, everything should be fine.

Wishing she was as confident in this as she pretended she was and aware that a lot had already gone very wrong, Ritsuko took another deep breath. And was just in time to see a door being wrenched open by a large hand.

A large, grey hand.

Wait a second…grey?! Ritsuko thought in astonished confusion as a massive and nude female entered the tram station. Oh, my…!

Taken aback by She-Hulk's appearance, Ritsuko very nearly fell over as the monstrous woman approached. Sure enough, every last inch of her skin was a dull grey, as dull as concrete. Must be a side effect of her gamma levels being drained, the doctor thought quickly. Hopefully, this means she won't be as strong or as violent. Which would explain the lack of destruction on her part.

Wishing she was back in her lab, running tests on the blood samples from before, Ritsuko cleared her throat. "Uh…Misato? Can you hear me?"

Pausing in mid-step, the grey brute looked Ritsuko's way and smirked. "Yeah, I can hear ya, Ritsy! Nothing wrong with these ears!"

The instant these words were said, Ritsuko felt like her brain had just crashed. "I – what?!"

Author's Notes: Okay. Trying very hard to get myself firing on all cylinders after having had the life sucked out of me by that abysmal mess of a year that is 2020. Got some more chapters in the works and so on. Really working hard while doing my all not to be contaminated by Covid-19 and the mutant strains of the said virus that we've been seeing. Have I mentioned that I really did hate 2020? Ah, well. Hope you enjoy this new chapter and that you read and review. While I get back to work on…everything.

I'm hoping to get really and truly back to work on my writing with more frequent and regular updates. I really hate how the circumstances of my life have so thoroughly knocked the stuffing out of me. I'm sorry for letting everybody down. And I do hope that you enjoy this chapter. Also, I posted a one-shot story based on the original She-Ra Filmation series. It's sort of like an episode of a modernized series if I had full creative control of it. I hope you'll all check it out.

Quathis, indeed. And as seen in this chapter, the attempt at a cure has only taken their gamma problems and made them so much worse.

Traitor of All Traitors, that is my overall plan, yes.

fictionelement777, don't worry. I'm going to be getting into overdrive on my various stories. I've let life beat me over the head long enough.

Belthasar, lots of side effects. Big, buff side effects.

And now…it's omake time!

Omake 1

"Baka!" Asuka screamed as she barged into Orion's office. "That's it! Enough is enough! This is the final, the very, very last straw!"

"And hello to you as well, bitch!" Orion grumbled sourly as he turned towards the volatile redhead. "Care to explain why you're here wasting my time?"

"You should be grateful that I'm not wringing your neck!" Asuka fumed, looking as if she was trying desperately to avoid completely blowing her top. "You just couldn't resist, could you?! Just couldn't resist turning me into a brain-dead brute that shreds her clothes and shakes her goodies around for drooling perverts!"

"Oh, give me a break! I've seen better than yours all over the internet. Both your body and your personality suck," Orion grumbled with a roll of his eyes. "And as far as I'm concerned, Red is an improvement on both."

"Well, that's your worthless opinion!" Asuka decreed. "I'll have you know that I'm the most popular girl in this franchise! What do you say to that?!"

"That there's no accounting for taste?" Orion countered. "Now if you'll excuse me, I was enjoying a nice break watching classic She-Ra cartoons. I've been getting some ideas from them."

"And what possible ideas could you get from some stupid old cartoon?!" Asuka demanded.

"This," Orion smirked even as he pressed a button.

An instant later, a trapdoor beneath Asuka opened up, And just like in a cartoon, the redhead wound up hovering in mid-air for a few seconds before she realized her situation. And it was only then that she fell into the pit below.

As for Orion, he just sat in his chair, leaning in closer with his hand cupped to his ear. And when a massive splash and German cursing reached his ears, he smiled contentedly. "You know, Hordak was right," he declared with immense satisfaction. "That is really funny…!"

Omake 2

Maya groaned once more because she knew that indulging the Angelic nanites' hunger wasn't an option. All it would take was for someone to come in at the exact wrong time to see the brunette with her bare hands in the gamma-irradiated cookie jar.

But why didn't I feel anything until now?! Maya demanded of the universe even as the nanites within her cried out for food. Are the nanites…running low on energy again? Or is it that I was…just too keyed up and distracted to notice this until now?!

Maya's first instinct was to find some equipment with which to run an analysis on the nanites that flowed through her blood. Find out what they were doing inside of her. But even as she pondered the various NERV labs that held what she needed, a renewed surge of hunger hit her, and she realized that there was no point in it at that moment.

The nanites within her were hungry. And Maya had already seen the consequences of not allowing them to feed.

And I don't want to…wind up killing anybody else, so… Maya frowned as she considered the massive pool of gamma liquid. Well…just a little couldn't hurt, right…?

Gulping loudly, Maya approached the container filled with broken gamma vessels. Pausing just long enough to look around and make sure she wouldn't be caught, she removed one of her gloves and gingerly stuck her fingers into the irradiated fluid.

Circuit-like glyphs lit up in response to the nanites suddenly being in the presence of pure food.

And suddenly, Maya was inundated with waves of sheer ecstasy.

"Ooohhhhhhh…!" Maya moaned deliriously as gamma energy flooded her veins. "Oh, yes…YEEESSS…!"

Inundated with pleasure, Maya sagged into the gamma liquid, unable to think of anything else as she absorbed more and more of it. She was completely heedless of the way her skin turned green. Of how her body swelled up beneath her hazmat suit before erupting from it.

Of how she continued to grow afterward. And grow. And grow. And grow…

The instant the alarms started blaring, Ritsuko didn't panic. She didn't look about wildly. She just let her eyes roll up into their sockets, groaned in defeat, right before smacking her head into the nearest wall. "Goddammit, what the hell is it now?!"

Wondering when this god-awful day would ever end, Ritsuko managed to pull herself together enough to bring out her phone. After dialing the number that would connect her to Section 2, she demanded, "This is Dr. Akagi! What the hell is going on?!"

"Dr. Akagi! I…!" started the person on the line. "I…you're not gonna believe this…"

Rolling her eyes, Ritsuko countered, "I work and practically live in a top-secret UN-founded base that houses the most destructive weapons built by humanity, Tokyo-3 is routinely invaded by giant monsters and mutant supervillains, and my best friend transforms into an enormous green rage monster. At this point, there is nothing that I…wouldn't…?"

A loud rumbling began to be felt through the floor and even the very air. A rumbling that quickly increased intensity to the point where Ritsuko was struggling to stay on her feet. "Alright, what the hell went wrong this -?!"

A nearby wall exploded. Revealing a massive green hand that was erupting into the hallway, crushing everything in its path.

Her eyes immediately widening, Ritsuko turned and ran as fast as her legs could carry her. Her ears filled with the sounds of destruction as NERV was being ripped apart from the inside-out.

After a seeming eternity of running until she couldn't take another step, Ritsuko stumbled to a halt a good distance outside of NERV Central. There she found herself by other NERV staffers that had somehow managed to escape whatever cataclysm had struck the secret base. And after several seconds of heaving in one ragged breath after another, berating herself for smoking so much, the faux-blonde woman slowly turned back to see what had happened.

And was barely able to keep from passing out.

The NERV pyramid had been reduced to a pile of rubble and was being further pulverized as everyone looked on. As for the source of the destruction, that rapidly became clear as a tremendously huge, completely naked, and heavily muscled and green-skinned Maya Ibuki rose from the destruction and stretched her arms. "Oh, yeah! I needed that!"

Blinking a few times at this, Ritsuko took in the sight of her former understudy marching out of the ruins of NERV and stomping through the Geofront. Right before she gave a quick shake of her head. "Nope! That's it! I'm done! Finished! Outta here!"

"Uh…Dr. Akagi…?": A NERV staffer asked as she started away.

"Nope! Not sticking around!" Ritsuko declared as she started away. "There is only so much insanity that I can take! And that…!" she decreed, pointing towards the gigantic green woman, "was the absolute last straw!"

"Say…I wonder where sempai is…?" Maya distantly wondered.

Freezing in mid-step as she sensed Maya pausing and looking around, Ritsuko slumped forward and muttered, "I stand corrected…" Wincing as monstrous footsteps started approaching, she smacked herself in the face and added, "I knew I should've gotten out of here a long time ago…"

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