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Neon Genesis Evangelion

EVA-R Prime Extension

(c) Alex Voutsis

Writer's Notes:

Credit where credit is due to Gainax, etc etc. Evangelion is someone else's property, etc.

Additional Credits to the creators of EVA-R Illustrated Fan Fiction. Find it at http://www.eva-r.com - it is an absolutely brilliant fan fic and essential reading to understand this story. You should have read EVA-R up to episode 53 PRIME before reading this fan fiction.

The other fan fictions that are a part of this storyline are

Light of the Soul/Contact

Light of the Heart/At Last, a Reason

The Runaway

Stand By Me

Another's Touch

Thanks for Caring

House of Cards

In the Shadows

A Wish for Dreamless Sleep

Pandora's Box

This fan-fiction is intended to continue the story begun in the above episodes.

Progeny

The events in this story follow on directly from Episode 10, Pandora's Box.

This episode runs concurrently with Second Child.

(Ingredients have been laid out on the table. Warmth radiates upwards from the top of a small stove - a heating coil begins to glow.

The First Child looks down at the coils of glowing metal, letting her crimson eyes rest on them for a moment before she covers the glow with a small pot. The temperature is set high; it will not take long for the half-full pot to be brought to the boil.

It is morning in the city of Tokyo-3, and Rei is making breakfast.

In the past few months, her efforts - not just towards breakfast, but towards every aspect of life in her small flat - have increased to the point where her flat is not just a place, but a home. Once these tasks had simply been what had to be done. Now there is more care in what she does, more effort in making this place good for Tenkei. Had Shinji been near, he may have made some comment.. perhaps that she looked "like a mother" as she went through the motions of preparing the meal. Shinji would have liked to say something like that.

Shinji is not here. Vapours rise from the hot water as the First Child focuses on the faint glow escaping from under the metal. The warming light, the feel of the rising mist from the pot on her face, pulls a memory up in her mind. She remembers the feel of the plain blanket draped over them, the sound of the fire as it flickered around the damp wood, and the smell of the soup as it was hastily cooked.

He had come so far - following in her tracks recklessly, to reach her, to save her from herself. She had fled Tokyo-3 for the sake of her son - for the sake of the boy who she had come to call her son. It had been for his sake that she had acted; an instinct of protection, one that she might imagine being displayed by any mother, protective of its child. So much of what she had done was in imitation of what she thought was normal, what she had seen people doing as they went about their lives. But running away with him felt neccessary, the fear felt very real. She couldn't lose Tenkei. When the Third Child had caught up with them, he had seemed to understand.

Sister, he had said. Not for her to hear - but for himself, to settle the idea in his mind. Mother, son, sister, brother. Not real, not anything solid; just words. But they are words that they could depend on, words that were comfortable. Another bond, another way to express a feeling.

Since then she had not seen Shinji - not in the same light. Since then she had been an observer, one who saw, one who understood, and one who could do nothing to prevent the inevitable, crushing loss of the two Evangelion pilots. What Shinji had done - save her from herself - was a favour she could not return to him.)

Rei: ..

(Now Tenkei emerges from the bathroom, his pale hair still damp. He is awake, having spoken to Maya Ibuki earlier in the morning, and appears cheerful - more than that, excited. A happy smile shows clearly on his face, a smile his mother can sense. She does not turn, instead busying herself at the stove.

To Rei, this smile is everything. She knows it is there, even though her back is turned. Once again she is an observer, but this time of her own struggle - a struggle which, like that of the Second and Third Children, may well be futile. There is no Shinji this time, no Third Child to intercede and save her from herself.)

Tenkei: (happily) She is awake..

(From behind, Tenkei cannot see Rei's eyes as they slowly close, her body trembling as his words inadvertantly hit home.)

----------------------------------------------------------

(Fragments of plexiglass have been hurridly swept from the consoles.

A jagged crack runs across the viewscreen, where the metre-thick plexiglass had been struck. The alloy frame of the viewport had buckled inwards, pushing the crack an inch wide, but the window had held - luckily for those who had been behind the screen.

Beyond the viewpoint is what can only be described as devastation. One set of massive restraints, attached to the far wall of the cage, is nothing more than a twisted mass of metal. The opposite arm restraint had been torn free of its transport rail and hurled across the chamber; almost still intact, but equally useless.

The regular staff of this room, sitting or standing at their posts around the chamber, appear calm despite the destruction. They perform their tasks mechanically, following well-trained procedures, functions for which they have been hand-picked to perform. They can ignore the damage in the room - for now - by burying themselves in their work.

The emergency technical crew is nowhere near as comfortable. Their task lies in the chamber beyond, where they are not protected by even the half-broken screen. It is only their training - and the everpresent military police - that prevents an all-out panic.

The reason for their fear is easily understandable - one only has to look for the cause of the devastation beyond. Standing against the far wall, head bowed and eyes dark and inactive, is the reason.

Evangelion Unit 04 - or, as the military peronnel on-base would term it - the first of many Mobile Armored Reconnisance and Infantry units. MARI, for short.

This is the prototype - nothing more than a hack of the original, and displays almost as much "stability". Less than an hour ago it moved - for no understandable reason the Evangelion went berserk, and it was only luck - or perhaps the failure of the faulty control plug - that had shut the armoured giant down before it drove its fist through the viewport into the very chamber the nervous technical staff now stand. The very chamber that the technical staff must now use to perform a very dangerous procedure.

The situation is frighteningly simple: if it moves again, there is absolutely no way it will be stopped.)

Technician: The docking clamp was damaged, Sir, but the crews report that they will be able to operate it manually.

(The man being spoken to acknowledges this report with a nod, straightening his uniform. The action serves as a reminder to himself - his uniform was earned in service, earned through exemplary actions and years of loyalty. It is nothing but a symbol now; the very people who awarded him this uniform, his medals and his rank would deny the existence of this base, of what they have ordered him to do. Like the others, he was chosen for this responsibility.

The Officer shakes his head slightly, resolving not to don the meaningless uniform tomorrow morning. It is the same promise he made to himself yesterday.)

Officer: All right. Extract the plug.

(This is not a simple mechanical proceedure - it might be at the vast NERV facility, but this is quite evidently not the NERV facility.)

Technician: Docking clamp engaging..

(There is a visible tremor through the crew as the clamp grips onto the plug's extraction prongs - from within the control room, they can hear the mechanism - the plexiglass viewscreen, which would normally be almost sound-proof, instead feeds every sound, every echo, every screech of steel on steel into the room.

And if MARI moves, that half-broken viewscreen will give them zero protection. There are no restraints to hold the beast in place - judging how quickly they had been destroyed the last time, it would make no difference if there were.)

Technician: Clamps engaged. Extracting the control mechanism..

(Every sound, every echo - every screech of steel on steel. The damaged systems whine as they slowly withdraw the plug from the Evangelion's body. A sound - something in the mechanism falters - causes the crew to wince visibly.

The last metre of the plug clears the insertion port - the control mechanism hangs free of MARI.)

Technician: Extraction .. complete.

(A sigh is heard through the control room - several people around the chamber visibly sag.)

Technician: Moving the control mechanism to storage.

Officer: It should be safe to move the Unit to the secondary cage - preprae a team to install a termination plug. (to himself) If that will even do anything..

Voice: Belay that order.

(The officer turns towards the new voice.

The man had, until now, stood silently to the rear of the chamber. Dressed in a plain dark suit, he appears to be nothing more than a security guard - given a pair of dark glasses, his flat expression would suit the percieved occupation perfectly.

Of all the room, the Officer is the only one to react, muttering something obscene under his breath. It is men like this one - known universally as The Suits - that are the reason why his uniform is meaningless these days. For all his valour, for all his medals, the Officer has no choice but to listen when the suit speaks.)

Suit: We don't have the time..

(He has to listen - but he does not have to obey, at least, not yet. Instead, the Officer directs a flat stare at the suited fellow as silence falls over the control room.)

Suit: A mobilization has been ordered.

(The Officer's stare changes to a look of disbelief. Mobilization?)

Officer: We can't.

Suit: This isn't a request, General.

(Blinks, stares. Suddenly a voice crackles out of the speakers - the teams by the Evangelion have finished moving the plug to storage. As if a spell had been broken, the room moves, turning abruptly back to their duties, leaving the Officer and the Suit staring at eachother in the midst of activity.

Failing any other recourse, the military man steps away from his post, crossing the room in a few long strides. Lowering his voice, he leans in close, glaring at the Suit as he vehemently continues the argument beneath the hearing level of the nearby technicians.)

Officer: Are you mad? We can't move out with that! It's unstable!

(The Suit, however, meets the angry glare steadily.)

Suit: It is only as unstable as its control interface. That much has been determined.

Officer: (confused) You mean.. the compatability plug? That isn't meant-

Suit: (interrupting) We have no choice! (calmer) If we do this right, we can turn this to our advantage.

(The older Officer nods slowly, waiting for the suit to continue. A man of tactics and armies, the Officer is uncomfortable in the land of shadows and espionage - and knows that whatever plot the Suit wishes to propose, it would be something the man had already thought out in detail.

A hand rests on his shoulder - the Officer has to conciously exert himself not to step back as the suited man leans in conspiratorially.)

Suit: They would do the same.. if they haven't planned to already. (straightening) We'll use their backup.

Officer: ..

Suit: No need to inform them until afterwards, of course.. this is strictly an operational matter, not something to bother SEELE with..

(Eventually the Officer simply nods, surrendering to the machinations of internal politics. Straightening his uniform as he turns he prepares to give the orders that very few in the vicinity of the unstable Evangelion will want to hear...)

----------------------------------------------------------

(Steam rises in whiplike fingers from the soup in its mug.)

Tenkei: She is awake.

(Breakfast may be ready, but that stray fact has no effect; the child doggedly pursues the topic at hand.

Tenkei sits on one end of the bed - Rei on the other. The First Child cups a mug of soup in her hands, her eyes fixed on the liquid as she occasionally blows on the hot vapours that rise from the soup.)

Tenkei: She is you.

(Rei remains motionless as she softly reponds.)

Rei: No. I am me.

Tenkei: She .. is you too.

Rei: (shaking head) I am me. She is..

Tenkei: She knew my face!

(The First Child closes her eyes yet again, as if to somehow deny this truth.)

Rei: I am Rei Ayanami.

Tenkei: ..

Rei: (opening her eyes) ...

Tenkei: You are.. afraid?

Rei: ..

Tenkei: Why?

(Rei continues to avoid responding, choosing to take a tentative sip of her soup - judging it cool enough to for the boy, she offers the mug to Tenkei. He ignores it.)

Tenkei: Why?

Rei: ..

Tenkei: (staring) ..

(She holds out the offered mug - far longer than is necessary.)

Tenkei: Why does she frighten you?

Rei: ..

(She draws the mug back to her, returning her gaze ahead - a calm gaze, a calm visage.)

Rei: I could feel her.. grabbing at me... at you.

Tenkei: ..

Rei: Grabbing.. she was a hungry thing. She needed you.. she wanted to take you away from me.

Tenkei: ..?

Rei: She..

Tenkei: (eyes widen) There are .. others?

Rei: ..

Tenkei: Like.. this, before you!

(Her face shows nothing - no distress, no worry, no fear, absolutely nothing as Tenkei speaks, his golden eyes wide, his expression incredulous as he strugges towards the truth.)

Tenkei: She is to you what you were to them?

Rei: ..

Tenkei: How is she different?

(Rei's silence remains, stubborn.)

Rei: ..

Tenkei: She is a part of you!

Rei: ..

(Suddenly the boy reaches out, touching the pale skin of the First Child's arm. Thoughts and feelings flow across the contact like current through a wire, touching on her as his hand touches her skin. His mind dives across the distance between them and stops; between him and her there is a wall, a wall of differences, memories, experiences that separate the individual from the other. He runs his mind across this wall, searching for-

- it darts between them, a sensation, a flicker -

- fear, horrible fear, threatening the most important part of you -

A scream, an alien sound, jerks Tenkei away from the contact. The mug is thrown away, splashing its contents across the bedclothes and spattering Tenkei with the still-hot soup.

Rei's mouth is still open in her scream, her crimson eyes burning with anger. The hand that threw away the mug is twisted into a white claw, hooked out to one side - Tenkei is caught by the image, remembering back to something he had seen on the television - a cat, caught in the torchlight of a camera crew, hissing up at those who intrude upon it.

The mug hits the floor - there is a sharp sound as a fracture appears across its ceramic face.

Tenkei stares at Rei, his mouth gaping slightly at the power of her anger. The spill is hot; Tenkei's arm quickly flushes red, easily scalded by the liquid. This is the last thing on his mind; Rei's eyes pin him in place.)

Rei: (furious) ..

Tenkei: (cringing) ..

(The moment passes.

Just as suddenly, Rei is calm again. She lowers her hand, looking at the spill across Tenkei's arm and shoulder. She stares woodenly for a moment, her face cold in comparison to the possessed rage of just a second before. Her eyes take in Tenkei's scalded arm.

Rei stands and fetches a wet cloth from the flat's small sink.)

Rei: (kneels) Take it off.

(Tenkei obediently removes his shirt, spattered with the spilled soup. He sits wordlessly as Rei methodically wipes Tenkei with the cloth, removing the last of the liquid.

The First Child finishes the job with a towel, briskly drying the boy.)

Rei: (quietly) Never do that again.

Tenkei: ..

(She drapes the towel around his shoulders.)

Rei: Not unless I ask.

Tenkei: I'm sor-

Rei: (interrupting) Not unless I ask.

(Tenkei nods, his mouth firmly closed. Her silence is worse than anger; some of the fear she felt - that Tenkei sensed through the contact before she so viciously broke it off - has spread to the boy. Something is very wrong.

Rei is terrified of something - terrified beyond reason. And from everything he can see, everything the boy senses and knows, the First Child is doing everything she can to pretend that whatever it is does not exist.)

----------------------------------------------------------

(The pen leaves a small, neat mark on the whiteness of the attendance roster; another student in class on Monday.

Hikari can see, from where she stands beside the door, that most of the class is already in. This includes the teacher; for some reason he arrived early and is presently flipping through pages of a textbook, preparing for the day's classes.

Another student enters, and the class representative runs her eyes down the roster again. The class, which would normally be a buzz of low conversations about the weekend past and the week ahead, is subdued - probably the result of the elderly teacher's too-early arrival.

There may be another reason; the absence of some of the more familiar - or famous - faces from the class..)

Hikari: ..

(Hikari looks across the classroom to where two boys sit - Touji Suzahara and Kensuke Aida. Touji, the taller of the two, shrugs at Hikari's worried expression but appears not unworried himself. He sits ready at his desk, out of his usual slouch. The girl looks down at the list again, waiting.

It is only a minute before class starts that the last student arrives.)

Rei: ..

(She steps through the door and takes in the classroom - and the absent faces - with a long, calm gaze. The First Child then heads over to her desk, apparently blind to the slightly relieved expression on Hikari Horaki's face.

At least one pilot arrived - then at least it doesn't mean an attack.)

Hikari: ..

(When she hands over the roster, she includes a short, handwritten list of the absent students, in alphabetical order.)

Lyn Anouilh

Shinji Ikari

Asuka Langley Sohryu

Aoi Tamashii

(The names include all but one of the designated Evangelion pilots.)

----------------------------------------------------------

Gendo: Sleep well?

(The Commander's dry pronouncement is easily audible to Fuyutsuki - the expanse of Gendo Ikari's office carries sound very well.

There is a deep boom as the door closes behind the Vice Commander. Both men know that Fuyutsuki has not had any sleep this last night - the Commander's remark is nothing but a cynical attempt at humor. Fuyutuski answers in kind, a half smile on his face.)

Fuyutsuki: Indeed.

(Fuyutsuki approaches the seated Commander. The tinted surfaces of his glasses reflect the light from a small computer screen, rising from the middle of his desk. Ikari raises his eyes.)

Gendo: The dossier of Lieutenant Seyoko Okazaki. (dryly) I trust your memory has not failed you.

Fuyutsuki: Of course not. Japanese intelligence posted her within UNSynaps as their agent, to keep an eye on Anouilh. He tried to give his problem to us by transfering her to NERV. The last time we discussed it I believe that our conclusion was that she could be useful if we ever needed to hand the Japanese government a free tip. Why the interest now?

(Gendo's slight smile fades as he gestures towards the screen, unusually forthcoming.)

Gendo: The night has been interesting for our Lieutenant.

(The Vice-Commander takes a moment, walking around the desk to read.)

Fuyutsuki: She was.. shot? Who? Why?

(There is a moment of tolerant silence as Fuyutsuki slowly reads more of the report. Finally the senior of the pair makes an "ahh" noise of understanding, nodding as he fills in the detail himself.)

Fuyutsuki: Chiba Kimio.

Gendo: It seems that one of the old men had a change of heart.

(Neither Ikari or Fuyutsuki had known Kimio well; the only official capacity that they had shared was as directors of the Marduke Institute, the "organization" responsible for the selection of Evangelion pilots.

But Marduke has no real power - not reallly an organization at all, but a front to cover NERV - and behind that, SEELE - and their plans. The directors of Marduke merely perpetuated that lie - they kept up appearances, and used Marduke to fulfil their needs.

Both knew Kimio far better in another capacity - as SEELE 03, the third member of the circle of twelve.

At a keystroke from the Commander's hand, the screen begins to scroll through the information - the contents of the disc that had been found with Seyoko Okazaki, the disc that SEELE 03, Chiba Kimio, had sent her.)

Gendo: He went to some length to insure she recieved this - information regarding their plans.

Fuyutsuki: Fake?

Gendo: Perfectly genuine. It took me a moment to realise what he intended.

(Fuyutsuki's eyes narrow. He has known Gendo Ikari since before the Second Impact, a decade and half ago, and recognizes the grimace of a smile that flickers on the junior man's bearded face.)

Gendo: (qualifying) Okazaki has connections - to Anouilh. Kimio wanted her to tell Anouilh what SEELE really intends.

Fuyutsuki: ..

Gendo: ..

Fuyutsuki: You mean he doesn't know?

Gendo: They award him less trust than they once did us.

Fuyutsuki: (dryly) I find that difficult to imagine.

Gendo: No - sensible. To ensure that he remain co-operative, they fed him a simple lie regarding the ends of their plan.

Fuyutsuki: It would be difficult to convince someone to assist them in this kind of endevour.

Gendo: I imagine you encountered similar difficulties..

(Fuyutsuki pauses, startled at the sudden shift in the conversation. Gendo takes his silence in stride, continuing to speak in a reasonable tone, his hands now folded before his face.)

Gendo: Convincing Ibuki to work with you; to continue working for some.. monster who would let such a thing happen under his command.

Fuyutsuki: ..

(The words hit a chord in the professor's mind - a memory, an angry remark made by Ibuki during the dawn stretch of room 714. An angry remark, a curse at Ikari the monster. A remark carelessly made while under the unwavering electronic eye of a hidden security camera - which had also been equipped with an audio pickup device.)

Fuyutsuki: The Chairperson isn't.. comfortable with her assignment. I discussed bringing on more staff to handle the workload, but she was reluctant to spread .. things .. around.

Gendo: Her work on Unit 02 will keep both her and her conscience very busy. I'm sure that you'll be able to handle everything once this is over.

Fuyutsuki: ..

Gendo: I am willing to permit her efforts provided, as before, that she does not interfere with Unit One.

(Fuyutsuki makes a noncommital noise, shifting back to the situation at hand, waving absently at the digital display.)

Fuyutsuki: And in the meantime, what do you intend to do about this?

Gendo: As always - move with caution.. and show our hand only when it is to our advantage.

(The data on the screen continues its slow scroll, words running down the page - the intentions behind the creation of the Evangelion series down in text. Instrumentality, SEELE's ultimate ending, the fruit of their labours. It is information that the Japanese Intelligence service had tried very hard to uncover.

It is information that Jean-Phillip Anouilh, the director of UNSynaps, is completely unaware of.

Text moves lazily upwards, reams upon reams of incriminating information, data that men had died and killed for. Redundant information for these two men, having been co-conspirators themselves. As the plan unfolds before them Fuyutsuki thinks aloud, musing not on its details but of its implications..)

Fuyutsuki: They need Anouilh - they need UNSynaps. Without him, and without the backing of the UN, they would find it very difficult to finish what they've started. They need backing to finance further Evanglion production, and facilities to produce the mecha.

Gendo: It would be naive to assume that the old men do not have a contingency, something to rely on if this tool fails them.

Fuyutsuki: Another organization? Someone to pick up Anouilh's work from where he left off?

(UNSynaps - presently in control of the creation of the Mass Production Evangelion series. Once it had been the task of NERV to oversee this construction, but by SEELE's will the responsiblity had been given to UNSynaps - to a tool named Jean-Phillip Anouilh they could control far better than they once did Ikari.

Or so they thought.)

Fuyutsuki: It must be a group that we've not heard of.

(There is a moment of silent consideration before the Commander of NERV speaks again, having come to a conclusion in his own mind.)

Gendo: This information is of great value - for its legitimacy rather than its content.

Fuyutsuki: Hmm, yes.. Anouilh is more likely to believe Kimio's words than our own.

Gendo: Yet we must not antagonize the old men - we cannot force them to use their contingency prematurely.

Fuyutsuki: If they have one.

Gendo: I will not risk what may yet be turned to our benefit.

(Before Fuyutsuki can inquire about this thoughtful comment, his superior raises a hand, being drawn by a flashing message on the screen before him. Ikari reaches out, slowly pushing the screen down into its slot in the desk. For now, at least, their conversation will be delayed.)

Gendo: The chairperson is heading up to see us.

Fuyutsuki: (surprised) Now? I was under the impression she had finished her shift a short while ago. She was to go home after the latest simulations..

Gendo: (waving him off) No matter. There is additional information in this document that Kimio had addressed to Lieutenant Okazaki alone - which we can discuss after the Chairperson has departed. I would hardly wish to keep you in the dark regarding the nature of the Seventh Child.

Fuyutsuki: How considerate of you. Then-

(The Professor is cut off as the far door to the chamber slides open, admitting the thin form of Maya Ibuki. The young woman heads quickly for the Commander's desk, a folder under one arm, her eyes meeting Fuyutsuki's as a brief, triumphant smile appears on her face.

She stops before the desk, pulling her folder open and addressing the older man.)

Maya: (excitedly) The last simulations projected results much higher than expected, Sir.

Fuyutsuki: ..?

Maya: It doesn't look as if I'll have to call Yuri down for duty in room 714.

(Gendo looks on impassively, expression hidden by the familiar combination of folded hands and mirror sunglasses.)

----------------------------------------------------------

(Misato Katsuragi thumbs the button and steps away from the machine, watching coffee pour into her cup.

She had recieved the call to lead a security team to Aoi Tamashii's apartment that afternoon. She had been expecting the call for several hours before it came; now, upon returning to the Geo-Front after the useless search, the woman relaxes during a brief coffee break.

Misato is due to make a verbal report to Vice-Commander Fuyutsuki in a short while. The Major isn't entirely sure of the relevance; having read the documentation that Seyoko had left behind, she had known full well what to expect at Tamashii's residence. She also knows that the Commanders - probably both of them - have read the same material.

But her superiors do not know that she has seen the files. To further this little game, she would report to the Vice-Commander, like a good child - complete with feigned ignorance.)

Misato: (thinking) I suppose they had to make an attempt. They couldn't let her keep walking around.. knowing what she is.

(By the time NERV security searched the apartment, Aoi was long gone. Misato had given the appropriate orders - soon every NERV operative in the city as well as every camera or security system linked to the MAGI would be alert for the Evangelion pilot.

A futile, pointless order - nothing more than keeping up appearances.

Someone had to tell Lyn what had happened to Seyoko - that his guardian and roommate had been shot and very nearly killed. The fact that Lyn had been sleeping the night at Aoi's house was known to only three people - Lyn, Seyoko, and Aoi Tamashii. Since none of them were readily available for questioning, afternoon had faded to evening by the time anyone had realized that Lyn was also missing.

The coffee machine clicks off. The liquid in the cup is like the sky outside - a deep murky black.)

Misato: (to nobody in particular) Thanks.

(Pulling the mug out from under the spigot, Misato heads back towards the Central Dogma control room for one last revision of her information before going to see the Commanders.

Seyoko Okazaki lies unconcious in her hospital bed; Misato hadn't spent much time there, since the doctors had told her of the woman's chances. There was some concern from other personnel - this is, to many of them, a comrade, a fellow NERV officer. None know, of course, that Okazaki is more than that. An Intelligence agent, an operative. A spy.)

Misato: (thinking) How else could she have had that chip?

(The chip she found in Seyoko's possession - an incredibly intricate piece of micro-circuitry - was designed to deal with the most sophisticated encryption. A chip designed to break into systems like the MAGI. Had that been her mission? To use that chip to crack into NERV?

Misato had recieved such a device from Kaji - which is how she had been able to recognise its twin.)

Misato: (thinking) I ended up using mine.. eventually. Did she?

(Misato can remember the stress-filled days of Seyoko's assignment; having to tour this girl around, letting her browse through the Geo-Front, check up the computer systems.. but what had she really been looking for? What had she really been looking at?

More importantly - what had she found?)

Misato: (softly) What did you dig up, Seyoko?

(But Seyoko is not answering. And according to the medical staff, she might never answer.

The bullet had not killed her - but the blood loss, coupled with the time it took for her to recieve medical attention, had cost dearly. Possible brain damage, the doctor had mentioned. Nothing that they could see; but if Seyoko had not woken up yet, then it seems unlikely that she would wake up - at all.)

Misato: ..

(A "next of kin" was mentioned in her files - no real relation, simply whoever had signed, who would have the sad duty of acknowledging that Seyoko's condition had fallen below the survival levels outlined in her will.

A burden to be placed - by routine, not desire - upon the young shoulders of Lyn Anouilh. As her closest 'relative' the choice would essentially be his.)

Misato: (thinking) And he's missing too..

Maya: Major?

(Misato looks up, noticing for the first time the Project-E Chairperson's arrival. Ibuki stands at the far door to the control centre, everpresent folder tucked under one arm.)

Maya: (approaching) I've got some good news.

(She takes a seat beside Misato, opening up the folder and picking through the sheets.)

Maya: I've already taken these to the Commanders, and they've approved.

Misato: What are they?

Maya: It's collected data on the simulations we've done for the Second Child, and an outlined procedure for a recovery operation.

Misato: You mean..

(Maya nods, looking up from her papers with a small smile of triumph.)

Maya: I think we can bring Asuka back.

----------------------------------------------------------

(The machinery whirs to a halt.

Fuyutsuki can feel the relief in the air as the mechanism falls silent; a technician to one side of him sighs explosively - the moment over. The work isn't done - not by a long shot - but this part, this painfully delicate and vital part, is done.

Immediately the staff begin finishing their work, removing the slender harnesses and cables that had been used in the transfer. They reach into the entry plug with heavily gloved hands, carefully drawing the cables free and setting them aside. The gloves are not really neccessary, nor is their great care - but to approach this task in any other way is unthinkable.)

Technician: Commander.. the subject is free of the harnesses.

Fuyutsuki: Well done. You're free to go - all of you.

(The assembled men and women waste no time is leaving Room 714. There are no words spoken, just a silent relief that they no longer had to be in that room with the "subject". Kouzou Fuyutsuki is not so lucky; there is more that has to be done.

The entry plug - heavily modified for this operation - hangs suspended from an open port in the ceiling. Above is a cable-and-crane system that will carry the plug and its contents up to the cage, up to Evangelion Unit 02. Stepping over to a console, Fuyutsuki taps in a few commands with a long finger; on cue, the systems begin to drain the fluid from the transparent tank that had previously been occupied by the Second Child. The levels drop as the mix is pumped into the entry plug - slowly, carefully, not much more than a trickle.

Fuyutsuki steps over to the open plug hatch - the primary entrance, where they had lowered her into the plug. In his hands is a small, curved object, touched with red - a synchronization headset, one that would be very familiar to many people.)

Fuyutsuki: ..

(He turns it over in his hands unthinkingly, his aging eyes peering down through the open hatch. The systems continue to pump the LCL, slowly rising up the plug towards the control seat. The soft light of this room only faintly illuminates the interior of the plug - and in the dimness he imagines he can see her.

His eyes lock onto her imagined shape - two red gloved hands resting confidently on control handles. Confidence of an Evangelion pilot - a child trained to fight for a cause, lied to so as to perform a duty - and this had been her thanks, her reward for a life sacrificed, both on the part of the child.. and the mother.

The Vice-Commander looks away.)

Fuyutsuki: I..

(He was never very good with emotional words; apologies, the worst..)

Fuyutsuki: I'm sorry that it came to this.

(.. a doctor of science and reasoning to the core.)

Fuyutsuki: Forgive me.

(Keeping his eyes averted, he lets the neural headband drop from his fingers to fall into the rising LCL mix and steps away. Another quick tap on a console closes the plug hatch, sealing up its contents with the metallic clang of finality. The plug still has to be filled, and after that, sent up to the cage, but Fuyutsuki suddenly finds the room too dark, the air too still to remain for the entire process. With quick steps he leaves Room 714, pulling the door shut behind him.

The room is empty.. the glow of the consoles is all that remains.

The already dim lights of the room remain steady. The machinery continues to pump the precious fluid.

And yet - slowly the light seems to retreat from the corners of the room, the shadows pushing out - no, a shadow, a single mass of black, creeping across the floor. A impossibility, spreading out of the corner of the room like a stain.

The shadow halts, steady, sheer blackness defying the lighting. A corner of the room is now covered in the unnatural darkness.

She steps out, into the light.)

Aoi: ...

(Her gaze flickers to the doorway - Fuyutsuki's steps can be heard, distant; perhaps pacing, perhaps still heading away, perhaps.. coming back.

And then it falls on the tank of clear LCL, where the remains of Shinji Ikari - now completely dissolved in the fluid - are contained.)

Aoi: ...

(Next she turns to face the closed entry plug, sealed by the Vice-Commander barely a minute ago.)

Aoi: ...

(Finally Tamashii tilts her head back, eyes following the mechanical system upwards from the plug..

.. and nods, once, acknowledging the towering beast high above that would soon recieve its progeny.

Slow, silent steps mark the girl's retreat into the shadow, retreat from the 'real' world. In a matter of moments the shadows in the corners have lightened, the darkness vanishing as it quickly as it had come.)

----------------------------------------------------------

(UNSynaps has reached the end of its appointed task.

The scene is a subterranian compound on the other side of the world. The normal bustle of activity that might have been expected in their numerous facilities has, over the past few weeks, died down. The Mass Production Evangelion series have been completed; the construction crews that had worked on them have been rostered elsewhere.

Many of the facilities that had birthed the thirteen Eva units have been essentially shut down - their primary purpose completed, the Evangelions transported to France to await the final installation of the most critical components.

It is here that we find Major Arnold Hayridge, his eyes raised to take in the massive form of Evangelion Unit 06.

Steel and concrete surrounds him - the Evreux facility, first constructed to replace the older airforce base that had been destroyed by the cataclysmic second impact, is the primary UNSynaps base. Only two others have any further need to be staffed - the second branch in Aurillac, and the final facility south of what had once been called Nantes. It is in these three locations that the Mass Production Evangelion series wait.

There are other facilities - formerly controlled by NERV, now by UNSynaps. Now that the necessary Evangelions have been completed, the ones required by SEELE, these other facilities have been shut down.)

Arnold: Paperweights.

(He has told his superior officer. He cannot make things any clearer to Anouilh. Try as he might, Arnold Hayridge simply cannot trust the organisation known as SEELE.)

Arnold: (bitterly) They're keeping us helpless - why can't you see that, Jean?

Anouilh: I don't see helplessness.

(The leader of UNSynaps looks out of place here - unlike the technical staff he does not wear UNSynaps colors, or even a military uniform such as the one Hayridge sports. Instead he is wearing a business suit, complete with a plain tie and white shirt - the jacket appearing to have been laid to rest somewhere else. He might have been working at any company, in any number of professions.)

Anouilh: I see three Evangelions deployed in Japan. I see the United Nations, not ready to follow our lead. I see us given these gifts - in trust, harbored for a time of great need.

Arnold: And what of our needs? Until we recieve the engines we are unable to defend ourselves against the very threat you just described!

Anouilh: Our sources would inform us of Ikari mobilizing long before his Unit One becomes a threat.

(Hayridge shakes his head obstinantly and tries another tack..)

Arnold: Why then? The UN couldn't even suspect how far we have come in so short a time! We would only need crews to transport and install the S2 engines..

Anouilh: We dare not - no matter how hard we might try to keep it secret, there is a chance that Ikari would discover our preparations. The man is a genius, and has similar working for him.

Arnold: Then by the same reasoning how can you argue that he hasn't discovered them already?

Anouilh: ...

Arnold: (persistantly) If he has, then why hasn't he told the UN about how far ahead of schedule we are? Unit Ten isn't due to begin construction for another month and it's been ready, here, for two! I'm sure that Ikari would only benefit from the UN asking us a few embarrassing questions!

Anouilh: ..

Arnold: Such as why we haven't sent any of these units to assist him.

Anouilh: You know that the UN are at as much risk as anyone else from Ikari.

Arnold: (angrily) You're being an idiot.

(Anouilh turns to the Major, very calmly, as Hayridge continues.)

Arnold: You know as well as I that nobody leaves an ally half-equipped unless you plan on-

Anouilh: (interrupting) You have problems with our arrangement with SEELE?

Arnold: ..

Anouilh: ..

(The military man turns and stares straight into the eyes of his superior.)

Arnold: You could put it that way.

Anouilh: (steadily) If you wish, at any time, to leave this project; I can allow it. Should you decide to go back to retirement I certainly would not hold it against you.

Arnold: You're avoiding the issue, Jean-Phillipe.

Anouilh: The issue, Major, is that this has been arranged. Even if I agreed with you - which I do not - what would you have me do? Ask SEELE to reconsider? Say please?

Arnold: ..

Anouilh: There is nothing we can do about this situation.

Arnold: (angrily) Which is exactly why I object!

(Anouilh's jaw clenches briefly as he looks at his uniformed subordinate. Then he seems to relax slightly, tilting his head, almost reconsidering. When he speaks, however, his voice retains the steady cool of before.)

Anouilh: (final) That will be all, Major.

(The head of UNSynaps turns and leaves without waiting for a reply; Arnold Hayridge is left standing on the gantry. He looks up once more at the face of Evangelion Unit 06 and shakes his head - perhaps to stave off his anger, perhaps with regret at how his old friend can be so stubbornly different in his opinion.

Without the S2 units, without dummy plugs, the Evangelions series are worthless, useless, empty husks of flesh. SEELE has not yet provided these neccessary components, and Jean-Phillip Anouilh seems content to believe that they will.

Arnold Hayridge does not - but Anouilh is the director of UNSynaps - he has the authority.

So they must wait.)

----------------------------------------------------------

(While they wait, others move.

Far away from the Geo-Front in Japan, deep in another, albiet smaller, underground facility, minds are being turned against UNSynaps. An operation, in preparation for months now, is finally being put into motion.)

Officer: What's the status of the flight groups?

(A man sitting his post at a console, not unlike the familiar layout of the systems in Central Dogma, switches his attention between his screens, his superiors, and the constant flow of reports coming in through his earpiece. He replies briskly.)

Operator: The first wing will be in position in thirty minutes. The second and third are still on the ground and are ready for the green light.

Officer: And the teams on-site?

(A woman, operating an identical terminal alongside the first, has her reports ready.)

Operator: One and two are ready for the green light; the third reports an ETA of two hours - they'll be in position when MARI is available for the third target.

Officer: What about the Unit?

(The Unit.

The Suit stands to one side of the room, his skills not needed among the millitary precision of the final preparations. From his vantage point, he has a poor view of the screen, but it matters little - like all the console operators present, he had seen MARI many times before, and much closer than this.

It looks somehow.. subdued onscreen. Not the vast, crushing bulk that had nearly destroyed the project, or the complexity of the design they had worked on. The enormous amount of work that had been put into the creature, the effort, the detail, the preparation, does not show itself on that small screen. Nor does the lives of every man and woman lost with the Second Branch on this country's soil. The dull blue-black armour reflects nothing of the human cost of its creation.

The specifications had been rigorous. When they had begun it was an incomplete unit - functional, but nowhere near what the military minds demanded it should be; the S2 engine was a half-installed mess and the plug interface - well, from what they could peice together it had been experimental, an unfinished error-prone nightmare sent over solely for test purposes by one Doctor Akagi in Japan. Comparing that creature with what his superiors had asked for..

It seems long ago. The end result - the first functional model - is now rising from the depths of the facility.)

Technician: Sir?

(This voice comes from another console; one of the development crew, part of the technical staff that had been responsible for the Unit's development - and the preparation of those that will follow.)

Technician: Will the plug interface hold in combat conditions? We had traced the problems that caused its instability, but we can't guarantee that something like that won't happen during operation..

Officer: We've-

Suit: (interrupting) It shouldn't interfere, provided that we stay in the operational parameters and not strain the system's capabilities. (to technician) Don't worry about it.

(The man nods, returning his efforts to his station.)

Operator: The Unit has reached the surface. Beginning connections to the flight system..

(The Officer catches the gaze of the dark suited official standing to one side; he directs a meaningful nod towards the door.

Without a word, the suit turns and heads for the exit; the military man follows a moment later. Once out of earshot of the others, the pair speak.)

Officer: (hushed) It shouldn't interfere? That's our only functional flight unit-

Suit: (hushed) They don't know!

Officer: (pauses) They don't? Who does?

Suit: Only the staff who were in the room - I insured that they wouldn't be on duty today.

Officer: ..

Suit: I'll handle it. Only a few of us know - just make sure that it stays that way.

Officer: And the compatability plug? How are you going to cover that? What will you tell SEELE when they discover we're using their plug before time?

Suit: (patiently) I'll handle it.

Officer: (flatly) You'll handle it.

Suit: Yes. Don't worry about it.

Officer: ..

Suit: Just put on a good face for our people.

(They return to the control room in step; with the Officer's return, the console operators continue to report the progress.)

Operator: Docking is complete, the flight unit is going through the test runs. The reserve power supply is at optimal level.

Technician: If the preliminaries go without hitches, MARI should be in the air in just under fifteen minutes.

----------------------------------------------------------

Maya: This isn't the same situation - not like the last time.

(The entry plug rises, suspended by the mechanical delivery arm. A thick bundle of cables runs into the rear of the plug casing, leading back into a system of wires that splay across one wall of the activation cage.)

Maya: Everything that Shinji was - the sum of his being - had been enveloped by Eva. He and the Eva were truly synchronized - two becoming one.

(Those wires are spread, spider-like, across the crimson armored body of Unit 02. Plates have been removed in sections, allowing the cables access to the Evangelion's tissue beneath. Some are tubes carrying chemicals and nutrients, while others are merely probes, burrowing in the muscles of the Eva, to monitor the process that is soon to commence.)

Maya: To restore him we had to separate that unity - one into two. With the proper stimuli, the situation, the self-image, Unit 01 manifested its AT field and manifested two beings - mother and child, Eva and pilot. Shinji was born, or reborn. Or you could describe it as the one entity experiencing a separation.

Misato: But this time is different?

Maya: Yes - Asuka is not "combined" with Unit Two. She is separate, but her self is not hers. Her self, the identity that forms her, is damaged. Eva is no longer the cause of the problem - this time it is our only possible cure.

(At the other end of the spiderweb of cabling is the system that controls it - the terminals and computers of the cage observation room, or more accurately, the temporary observation room. The original control room is still just a gaping hole in the wall of the chamber; the damage caused by Unit 02's brief, violent movement has not yet been repaired.)

Maya: With an older RAM sample - from before the first of the AT field experiments, before we think the damage was done - we can restore her to her former self - her old identity, one that can sustain itself. But to do that, we must provide her something to base this on that is not her own corrupted one.

Misato: ..

Maya: We have established the fact that pilots identify themselves with their Evangelion. If she can establish an identity of herself in synchronisation with Eva, we should be able to return Asuka to physical form simply by shutting down the Eva once she has fully formed herself in the entry plug.

(Among the systems in the observation chamber are several hardwire links - some leading to the MAGI, lending the power of the supercomputers to the task ahead. Others lead to room 714, directly linked to the remains of the Third Child - in case, against all expectation, the procedure causes unexpected effects..)

Maya: I hope.

(The two stand on the walkway that skirts the walls of the chamber, high above the Evangelion's armored head. From their vantage point they can see the entry plug, containing the precious remains of the Second Child.

The mechanical arm carries the plug across the chamber - despite the heavy cabling that runs from the plug and from Eva herself, the slender cylinder is inserted without a hitch.)

Misato: How long will this take?

Maya: Once we power up Unit Two and synchronise.. it will be a gradual process. If we can induce an AT Field from Unit Two we can accelerate the proscess; it is the greatest manifestation of identity that we know of. We've never done this before - so some of it is guesswork - and it will take some time to prepare the Eva.

(Katsuragi nods, turning to leave.)

Misato: You already know.. that this is entirely in your hands, Maya.

Maya: ..

Maya: Do your best.

(As she leaves the gantry Misato brushes past Fuyutsuki - there is a brief exchange, a nod, a "Sir", but it is absently done. Both have other things on their minds. Katsuragi has the coming process, and hope of Asuka's return. Fuyutsuki, meanwhile, has something important to relay go the E-project Chairperson ..)

Fuyutsuki: The Commander has been listening to our conversations.

(There is a perceptable tension that washes over the young woman - to hide it she continues staring down at the vast red form that is Evangelion Unit 02.)

Maya: Then he knows about.. the information?

Fuyutsuki: No.. fortunately that slipped by.

Maya: Then..?

Fuyutsuki: (shaking head) What you're asking for.. is difficult. I don't have access to anything he keeps in his personal files.

Maya: (slowly) You can't get it, can you.

(Her words seem flat, lifeless.)

Fuyutsuki: I will get it - but not yet. Soon.

Maya: Soon? If you don't have access, then what use -

Fuyutsuki: (interrupting) He'll hand everything over to me. It's been arranged.

(For the first time, the Project-E chairperson turns from the railing, wheeling around to meet the gaze of the Vice-Commander.)

Maya: Hand everything over? How?

Fuyutsuki: (softly) I can't tell you any more.

Maya: That.. is what you were talking about before to Major Katsuragi - that it would be over soon. What do you mean?

Fuyutsuki: ..

Maya: (angrily) What sort of deal have you cut for the sake of my conscience?

Fuyutsuki: (shaking his head) The only deal I cut, Maya, is to let Commander Ikari do what Commander Ikari wants.

(Her name, her first name. Ibuki pauses; the Vice-Commander takes the moment to qualify his statement.)

Fuyutsuki: He would have done it anyway, Lieutenant.

----------------------------------------------------------

[Continue]

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