As they left the nursery, Asuka found herself taken through a series of locations and images, passing from one to the next in a startlingly sudden fashion. In a moment she would the Angel carrying her across the rainy corner of a deserted city street, then a green, lush German cemetery just around the corner, and through the gate of that an empty bullet train at sunset, and after passing into the door at the end, a sterile room with shining glasses resting on a towel to drain.
The effect was extremely disorienting and only served to upset the baby more. At the very least, she no longer had her wrist squeezed into powder by the Angel's grip, but she was still bawling at the sheer fear and helplessness that gripped her.
"Now then, Muffin," the Angel said as she came out of yet another door and entered a white, clean hospital room. From Asuka's position against the creature's chest, she felt its insides turn menacingly. "I think it's time you started loving mommy."
"NOOO!" With the hot and stinging tears still pouring liberally down her face, Asuka shook her head feverishly. She at once placed her hands against the monster's chest, attempting to push away from her feebily, "I-I hate you! You're not my mommy! D-D'ya hear me! I dun need you!"
"Oh? Well in that case, nevermind."
Then, to the little girl's sheer shock, she found herself being placed gently onto the floor of the hospital room. After putting her down, the Angel stood back to its full height and stepped away from the German baby as if not caring.
Had she been her normal self, Asuka would've been suspicious first, wondering if the Angel was playing some trick on her. But given her current situation, she was simply happy to be left alone. As the creature put it's back to her, the tiny German's first concern was getting back to the other pilots. At least they were people she could trust. Gulping, she got on all fours and began to crawl back to the door to the hospital room. Panic flared up, wondering if she could even return to the nursery after all the twists and curves she'd gone through, but the baby pushed it out of her mind determined to just get away from the Angel as soon as possible.
"Oh, you're such a pretty little baby...."
The Angel began cooing over Asuka's shoulder, but the redhead only snorted and continued crawling toward the door. The creature murmured and pined over her in spite of her lack of attention. But just as Asuka began to reach the exit, she realized the monster wasn't speaking about her.
"You're soooo cute...." The infant turned around, plopping her red-diapered-bottom on the floor to stare at the Angel. It had her back to her, voice directed at something she was holding, "I just love you so much, yes, I do!"
When at least, after the infant gazed at the monster's back for a full minute, she turned around, Asuka fought not to scream.
It was a doll. A cloth, hand-stitched, big-headed doll, rocked back and forth gently and lovingly in the creature's feminine arm. The baby was only able to stare in frozen disbelief as the plaything's head lolled back and forth limply. When at last it settled, it was left staring at her, its black plastic eyes staring out from a knot of red yarn that was intended to be its hair.
"Wuh-Wait..." She needed to leave and get back to Shinji and Rei but... Just at the sight of the woman cooing over that item, Asuka had to turn around and crawl back toward her, shouting at the top of her voice, "P-PUT THAT DOWN!"
"Hm?" The sound of the baby's voice only served to make the Angel raise its head briefly and gaze around in mock-confusion before at once returning to lavishing attention on the doll, "Did you hear something, sweetness? Oh, well, whatever it is can't be important as long as mommy's here to love you."
"You don't love her!" Screaming as she crawled as fast as she could to the Angel, Asuka squeaked in her infantile voice, "Yuh-You don't! Put it down! It's not real!"
"You're such a pretty baby," squealed the Angel happily, leaning down to snuggle her face into the doll, "Such a sweet, pretty baby!"
"NO! No, she's not your baby!" Tears began to swell and collect in Asuka's blue eyes, leaking down her cheeks. "I-I-I'm still here! Don't forget about me!"
By this point all thought of returning to Shinji and Rei was vanquished from Asuka's mind. Sitting here upon the floor of the hospital room caused a rush of hurtful sensations to wash over her. The scents and shadows of the beds and windows washed over her in the most extreme and disorienting occurrence of Deja Vu the baby had ever experienced. Somewhere, sounding very distant, she could make out faint whispers in German but failed to articulate what they were saying.
Before the baby's terrified eyes, the Angel moved to the hospital bed just beside the corridor-window. Head bent caring over the doll, she noted in a sincere and gentle voice, "I love you so much, my darling."
"N-N-NO!" Flailing about from her current position, Asuka wailed at the top of her lungs, "DON'T LOVE HER, MOMMY! LOVE ME!"
At these words, the creature rose its head to look at the redheaded baby and its tearstained face. Asuka made an attempt to crawl over toward her, but at last her strength seemed to have failed her. At this place, this painfully familiar hospital room, where even her own mother couldn't love her, all the bravado and pride she'd built up over the years of her life sense crumbled into a forgotten, broken heap.
The baby spent several moments simply curled up on the cold linoleum floor, sobbing and wheezing loudly, barely able to articulate words. After years of kidding herself and forgetting his particular memory, every sensation associated with it rushed back to her, leaving her feeling forgotten and unloved, like a doll whose owner just discovered boys.
While in her current hysterical state, Asuka didn't register the doll being dropped to the ground by the bed, or the Angel crossing the room to stand over her, she yelped and kicked like a wounded animal when touched.
"Oh, it's okay, Muffin..." Gently reassured the Angel, holding a hand out to the infant, "Mommy won't hurt you..."
The puffy-eyed baby gave a great wheezing sob before she could muster up the strength to roll onto her stomach. Shoulders shaking, she rose her head to gaze at the grown-up, asking in a voice halfway between hurt and hope, "Ma... Mommy?"
"That's right, Muffin."
Her weight was lifted off the floor, and Asuka found herself nestled against the Angel's breast, her diapered bottom cradled and the tears on her face being caringly wiped off.
"Mommy's right here. And Mommy loves you very, very much." Moving to cuddle her nose into the baby's hair, the Angel replied, "And she'll never stop seeing you. I'll always know just how special you are, and how talented you are." The baby felt an extra squeeze tighten around her tiny body, "You'll never have to prove yourself to me."
Having grown very quiet, Asuka let out one more sob before she buried her face in the Angel's breasts. In a voice choked with happiness, she announced, "I-I wuff' you, Mommy!"
With her tiny, paled hands, Rei put the last tape on Shinji's diaper into place with a light, "There." Sitting back to survey her handiwork, the First Child informed the Third, "You are currently diapered, Ikari."
Since the Angel had left her alone with the Third Child in a partly-naked state, Rei had decided she should correct that by completing his diaper change herself. This was naturally challenging due to her size, not the least problem her having to climb up the changing table to get to him, but before long she'd managed to clean him off and tape him into a new, blue diaper. The entire affair was helped along by Shinji being still and subdued during the process, keeping his legs still and his thumb in his mouth.
While she was thankful for this helpful behavior at first, Rei became concerned when the boy showed no response or acknowledgement that she'd just finished changing his diaper (odd, given how distressed he seemed when naked). As she observed the infant on his back, thumb in his mouth, she began to wonder if he was in shock.
Not sure how to take this possibility, she leaned forward so she could look into his eyes from above, calmly asking, "Ikari? Can you hear me?"
"Wuh-Wei?" Sniffling, the baby pulled himself into a seated position. As Ayanami glanced him over, she noted he was shaking, "I... whuh..." Sitting up, he asked aloud, "Wuh.. h-happun'd?"
"You were poopy," replied the First Child simply. "I just changed your diaper."
Rei was almost startled by how squeaky Shinji's voice sounded at that moment, with the blood rushing to his face and attempting to skooch away on his recently-cleaned bottom. It had almost reached the tone and level of a cartoon character. Even in her limited knowledge of the word, Rei assumed this was what "Cute" meant.
"You a-actually..." The baby gulped, tugging at his blue diaper shyly, "Y-You jus' w-wen' and..."
Crawling toward the Third Child, the other infant replied, "You were distraught while in a dirty diaper, so I took the initiative and changed you before you could be upset further. There is no reason to be concerned about it."
Shinji's hands came quietly, very gently toward his own bottom, making a crinkle as they pushed against the fluffy plastic, "Y-You jus' saw m-my butt..."
A very conscious effort had to be made to stop herself from simply replying "Yes, and also your genitalia" to this question. Not because such a statement wasn't true, she'd certainly seen quite a bit of Ikari's bare lower half but acknowledging or confirming this might just upset him now. With this in mind, Rei attempted to put all her knowledge about human relationships to figuring exactly how to calm the Third Child down.
Sadly, calming down a baby with the diminished mentality of a teenage boy who's on the verge of tears due to being seen naked was an unprecedented event as far as Rei understood. Coupled with her poor social skills, she wound up offering to Shinji, "You also have seen me naked."
No, he didn't, thought Shinji at once, now only confused. He'd never changed Rei's diaper. And when she took off her dress earlier she kept-
The image of the baby in front of him, now a teenager with a budding, developing pale body flew into the boy's brain like a sharpened arrow. Her body was moist from the shower, a single green towel around her shoulders. While at first the snowy-white torso did not face him, she soon turned and she was able to see-
"NO!" Kicking against the changing table as he rolled over onto his back in a panic, Shinji squeaked in terror, "No, No, NO! Dun wan 'dat! D-Dun wan....."
At first Rei was becoming worried, due to Shinji exhibiting behavior similar to Asuka's before her abduction by the monstrosity that had captured them, but to her relief the boy quieted himself by placing his thumb in his mouth. Self-silenced, the infant rolled onto his side, curling into a ball and lay trembling.
The situation was growing direly worse with each interaction Rei had with the other pilots. With every passing second, it seemed their psyches were growing more fragile and desperate, and if it continued, there was little doubt a breakdown for each was on the horizon. But while Rei had already seen this happen to Soryu, she was not about to let it happen to Ikari.
Placing a hand on the infant's shoulder, the blue-haired baby asked, "Ikari. I need you to focus."
The baby made a type of hurt noise from behind his thumb, facing away from Rei.
"We must continue to keep our eyes on our goal," continued the pale-faced toddler. "There people counting on us that do not want us to fail." A shift in weight at this told Ayanami that the boy was listening, so she tacked on, "I know you can keep going, Ikari."
With a loud sniffle and muffled sob, Shinji shuddered once more before struggling and sitting up in place. Voice trembling but carrying an undercurrent of intimidation, he asked, "Huh... How long to you th-think we've been here?"
"Half a day would be my estimate," replied Rei without missing a beat. "It's possible it was longer, but I believe there would have been action by NERV sooner than now had that been the case."
"Mm..." Placing his thumb into his mouth, Shinji asked, "W-Whudda t'ink Miss Misato's doin' wight now?"
"Examining her options and waiting for us to escape this trap."
The baby with the blue diaper nodded, sucking on his thumb thoughtfully. "Uh-huh... But th' angul won' talk or say wuh' it wants."
"No," replied Rei bluntly. "Have you noticed what it wants from us?" Ikari shook his tiny head, leading for the red-eyed baby to explain, "She is attempting to make us act like babies, in order to trick us into submitting to her."
"Uh-huh..." Shinji nodded, adding, "Sh-She wan's ta be my Mommy..."
"Correct." Fair sum-up, figured the first child. "So perhaps fighting this would be counter-productive. There is nothing we can do to make her see the flaws in the logic or stop he treatment of us. It will be better for us if we do what she asks."
"Y-You mean uh..." Reasoning skills being slowed by his regression, Shinji asked, "Act wike babies fer her?
"By complying to her wishes," explained Rei further, "We may lower her guard and glean some information as to where we are and how she is doing this. It will also keep her from attempting to break us mentally and give us something to control about our condition.
"Mmm..." Looking tempted, the boy plucked his thumb from his mouth, replying, "O-Okay... I c'n twy it... Should be easy ta act wike a baby, wight?"
"Look who's back!"
Both babies jumped in surprise, even the composed Rei, as the Angel returned from wherever it had vanished, Asuka in its arms. But Asuka was not the same.
Before the German baby was angry, frustrated and loud. The current situation was bringing out the worst of her. Being captive and waiting were two things she was not trained to do, and the sensation served to slowly drive her mad, in no small part thanks to the overwhelming feelings of helplessness. Rei and Shinji had never seen her as angry or upset as they did today.
Now she was giggling and smiling, eyes filled with innocence. Alarm and dread flared up in both remaining babies.
While Shinji sat there stunned, trying to comprehend such a major change in the disposition of his friend, Rei nudged his arm.
"Tell the Angel you want to play."
"I have to speak to Asuka alone."
For his part, Shinji wanted absolutely nothing to do with the Angel if at all possible. A creature that could make Asuka behave the way she was now must have more power than anything in the cosmos. But as Rei stared at him intently, he felt a knowing nagging sort of voice in his tummy, and he nodded.
"Uh... Mommy?" The word felt sort of familiar and painfully-nostalgic on his tongue, but using it to refer to this monster made Shinji's heart ache, "C'n we uh... Can we play?"
After once glance at Shinji, the adult behaved as if she were a bad actress told to look shocked, "Oh, my poor Little Man! Mama never changed you, did she?" The poor baby boy soon found himself scooped up and carted off by the Angel toward the changing table, feeling mortified.
Mortified or not, that gave Rei the edge she needed to talk to Asuka, and she wasn't about to waste it. Toddling over the floor to the redhead, the blue-haired girl asked, "Soryu, are you alright?"
"Uh-huh!" The response of a joyous nod and giggle didn't do much to brighten Rei's spirits, especially when the German girl naughtily added, "Shinji's gone poopies!"
"Yes. Yes, he has." Brushing past that at once, the pale-faced infant asked, "What did the Angel do to you? Did she threaten you or attack you in any way?"
"Hm?" Thumb in her mouth now, Asuka blinked at Rei before slurring out, "Wha' Angel?"
She needed simpler. "Mommy. Where did Mommy take you?"
"Uhh..." Asuka's two-year-old attention span needed a moment to recollect that particular memory. Finding her ability to remember much of anything beyond a fuzzy cascade of images and sounds had vanished, she slurred out, "To th' hospeetul? I t'ink? Wassa dowwy 'dere, but I dun' wike dowwies."
It would seem that to the redhead this was a perfectly satisfying answer, and she followed it up by cheerily asking, "Wan'sa pway, Wonduh Girl? I wann' dwaw a pic'shure fer mommy!"
Rei began to debate if she should attempt to glean any further information out of Soryu, but soon concluded it to be hopeless. While Shinji seemed to have been safe enough from the Angel's brain-washing, Asuka had been consumed by infantile behavior. There was no spark of intellect or maturity existing within her that Rei could see- whatever had been done to her, it was quite effective.
With a sigh, Ayanami replied, "Alright."
"Yay!" Getting on her hands and knees, Asuka began to joyously crawl to a tiny table just large enough for the babies to sit at, oblivious to Rei walking alongside her, "I'ma dwaw a pit'shure of a big birdie for my mommy! What're you gonn' dwaw, Wonduh Girl?"
Okay, Rei had to admit one thing- being a baby had made a big improvement on Soryu's personality. "I'm not sure," replied the girl slowly, watching Asuka's bottom stick up in the air while she crawled. "Perhaps a tree...."
The two babies settled at the little plastic table, conveniently finding a pack of crayons and paper laid atop it. Asuka crawled into one chair and began enthusiastically coloring, while Rei paused and stared at her lap before making a decision and beginning to work herself.
But just as Rei borrowed the crayon box from Asuka, she noticed the Angel looming over them like a threatening colossus in an apron. To her relief, Shinji was sat just beside her, pink in the face.
"Alllll clean!" smarmed the Angel as Shinji insistently looked at his lap. "You want to be a good boy and play nice with your sisters, little guy?"
The boy nodded weakly... "Y-Yes, M'am..."
"There's a good boy. What a nice bunch of babies I certainly have!"
The Angel patted Shinji on the head before drifting off to watch the infants color. It took a moment for the boy to participate in that however, as he spent a moment staring intently at his lap and feebly informing Rei, "Y-You'd already ch-changed me... I was all cl-lean... but she did it ah-again anyway...."
"Shinji?" Asuka blinked at the baby from across the table before taking a loud sniff of the air. Finding he smelt strongly like baby powder, the girl giggled before noting, "Dun' feel badja went poopies! You're aww cwean now- wansa color?"
Wow... thought Shinji. When did Asuka get this nice? "Uh... Asuka, aw you feelin' okay?"
"'Course!" Taking her diapered butt out of her seat to reach across the table, Asuka handed Shinji the crayons, "Here, cowor somethin' fer Mommy!"
"Umm..." The boy's response was to blink nervously at the box of crayons before asking, in a worried voice, "Y-You're not gonna thwow da cwayons in my face an' caww me a big woser are, ya?"
"You're siwwy, Shinji!"
That was the only response the bewildered boy got before Asuka dropped the crayons right in front of him. Feeling the need to explain, Rei said in a low voice, "The Angel has effected Asuka mentally. She now appears to have little memory of her life as an EVA pilot."
"Mm... So 'dat makes it so she dun' wansa yell at us?" Shinji turned to the girl, who nodded in response. Putting a thumb in his mouth, the diapered boy noted, "Not sure I wike 'dat."
Rei was never exactly able to see why Ikari enjoyed Soryu's company in spite of the girl doing nothing but treating him like dirt. But perhaps he found the constant slaps and verbal abuse appealing in some way if the lack of it bothered him. All the same, the boy began to select some crayons to use, and the First Child saw this as a perfect attempt to touch base with him.
"I'm not sure what the Angel did to her," remarked Rei quietly, watching Asuka as she happily scribbled away. "But it would appear a mental regression has nicely complimented her physical one."
"Uh-huh..." Nodding as he began to color himself, Shinji cooed out, "Whuh-What're we gonn' do... 'Dat mean Asuka can't help us?"
"It might be unwise to tell her about any plans we have to escape, yes," replied the blue-haired girl, selecting some crayons of her own. "It is likely she will inform the Angel, who will then proceed to perform whatever method of mind-altering she did on Soryu to ourselves."
"I dun' wansa act wike a baby..." replied Shinji with a nod, tongue between his teeth as he scribbled about with the orange.
"Nor do I. Best to continue out plan to ally ourselves with the Angel and gain its trust." Before she set her crayon to the paper to begin coloring, Rei tacked on, "Ikari... I am sorry she changed your diaper without you needing it. I know you do not find the experience pleasant."
"Uh-Uh..." Wiggling his butt and turning pink in the face, Shinji shook his head, "T'anks Wei..."