Neon Genesis Evangelion
EVA-R Prime Extension
(c) Alex Voutsis
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
Stand By Me
Thanks for Caring
House of Cards
In the Shadows
This fan-fiction is intended to continue the story begun in the above episodes.
A Wish for Dreamless Sleep
The events in this story follow on directly from Episode 08, In the Shadows.
(Maya Ibuki sighs and leans her shoulder against the corridor wall.
Across the passageway, a small steel panel is emblazoned with a single word: Washroom. On the lower levels of the NERV facility, there is little need, or perhaps funding, to provide separate bathrooms for male and female staff. It is of little importance; rarely is anyone on these levels long enough for it to matter.
The washroom is now in use, and perhaps the most intense use of its existence in NERV. From behind the panel, deep retching sounds can be heard as someone - Misato Katsuragi - throws up. Maya sighs, settling in for a fair wait. Given what they have both just seen, it would take the Director of Operations some time to finish what she is doing.
The only reason Ibuki is not keeping her company in sickness was that the young Chairperson had been shown the same sight some days beforehand. It was easier for her control her disgust when the process occurred slowly - but seeing the advanced stages of the illness suddenly, more than half-way through its work, was horrifying - sickening.)
-(flashback)- The light growing, bringing into illumination two cylinders.. cylinders filled with a strange fluid in which floated..
-(flashback)- No.. no, unthinkable.. NO!
(Maya swallowed loudly, trying to concentrate on the changing noises that emerged from behind the washroom door. Running water, the sound of a dryer and finally: paper towels. The young woman sighs again - she doubts the Major is quite ready to emerge - for if one thing remained true, it is that the after-taste simply doesn't go away.
But emerge is just what Katsuragi does. There is a final scrape from inside, then some mutterings, and the door finally swings open on loud hinges. Maya turns to take in the Major's condition..
And is rudely shoved to one side by a raging woman.
'Raging' does not completely describe her. Disheveled, hair damp, the Major's face is dominated by one feature: bloodshot eyes. Clearly the woman has been crying, but tears are - at present - nowhere to be seen on her uncompromising expression.)
(Misato barrels past, pigheadedly ignoring the woman's call.)
Maya: (calling after) Major!
(It is then that Maya notices the crucial detail: that Katsuragi, in her right hand, is clutching her officer-issue automatic pistol, her knuckles white on the grip.)
Maya: (urgently) Major!!
(Ibuki begins to run after even as Misato's implacable stride picks up into full sprint. Katsuragi is faster, anger pushing her muscles to greater speed as she rounds the corner.
By the time Maya has caught up, Kouzou Fuyutsuki is at gunpoint. The Vice-Commander is backed up against the wall of the corridor, his eyes locked on the barrel of Misato's pistol, leveled at his face.)
Maya: Major, don't!
(Misato's face is twisted into a crazed snarl, her eyes utterly blank as her grip on the trigger tightens. Ibuki watches helplessly as the Major shakes with fury, the barrel of the gun wavering slightly as the trigger is pulled, quickly approaching the point of firing..
.. and Fuyutsuki speaks.)
Fuyutsuki: (strained) Major..
Misato: (furious) ..
Fuyutsuki: (strained) Please, think.. why did I show this to you?
(And finally, some semblance of sanity returns to Misato's expression. After a long moment, her thumb comes forward and deliberately releases the cocked hammer of the weapon, slowly easing it back into "safe" mode. She does not, however, lower the weapon - instead keeping the barrel of the gun tucked neatly beneath the old man's chin.)
Misato: (coldly) You tell me.
Fuyutsuki: Not here.
Misato: (quiet anger) Why the hell not?
Fuyutsuki: (grimacing) You think we can just come down here any time we feel like it? I had to provide you with the access - not something you should have, I might add..
(Misato waves her gun in the direction of Room 714, the fateful room where the two pilots Shinji and Asuka are being 'treated'.. although 'contained' would probably be a more accurate description.)
Misato: (angrily) I'd say your reasons are pretty clear why I don't!
Fuyutsuki: .. and if we stay here, the man who denied you access in the first place will send men down to ensure that you stay out.
(Unable to act, Maya watches as Misato's eyes close - the woman letting out a deep shuddering breath as she lowers her weapon.)
Fuyutsuki: (seriously) Thank you.
Maya: I.. uh..
(Both Fuyutsuki and Misato turn to stare at the youngest participant in their 'conversation'.)
Maya: I know a nice place..
(There is dead silence in the corridor for Misato's response - at last Katsuragi nods her assent.
Eventually, Fuyutsuki leads the way - with Maya and finally Misato following him down the corridor; quietly moving past the door to the room where two children are held, stricken by an illness with an as-yet unrevealed cause. Each seems wrapped in their own thoughts, their own personal introspection in regard to the secret contained within the chamber designated Room 714.
Maya sighs, fingering her clipboard, wondering if she has the knowledge - and the inspiration, perhaps - to cure this ailment before two pilots become lose themselves completely in the fluid, losing themselves forever.
Misato simply stares at the cold black lettering on the door, her teeth gritted, the standard issue pistol dangling thoughtlessly in her hand. A strange thought comes to her mind in this moment: they have placed her 'children' in a sterile, numbered room. Her eyes bore into the name on the door and the woman wishes - however irrationally - for a pen, a paintbrush, something to somehow give the place a name more fitting for the new pain, the loss she discovered within.)
Misato: (quietly) It shouldn't be just "714"..
(Fuyutsuki, however, makes the most unusual gesture of all - quietly nodding to the almost invisible security camera placed where wall meets ceiling beside the door. Surveillance cameras were placed in many areas of the NERV complex - it is only in the deeper sections that these cameras are cleverly masked - hidden to find those in breach of security. The Vice-Commander realises that - as he suspected all along - the Commander is already one step ahead.)
Maya: (startled) Vice-Commander.. I.. didn't know you drank..
(Kouzou Fuyutsuki's aged, leathery face shifts into a slight smile as he regards the octagonal glass in his hand. Contained within is a light brown liquid which flows and plays among three ice-cubes in the bottom of the glass; it seems the three NERV personnel have made their way to a bar.
It is closer to a restaurant than a bar - certainly it is more of the high class "joint". Maya had suggested it - as it so happens, it is a place that Misato is also familiar, with the view overlooking the inverted city beneath Tokyo-3. The Major tries to relax in her chair, a mug of steaming coffee set on the table before her, one hand absently turning the cup on its saucer.
Yes, this bar is familiar - overlooking the Geo-Front, it is one that she, Ritsuko, and on occasion, Kaji, had spent time together to share a drink and a chat, sometimes about work, sometimes about the past.
Misato suddenly catches herself listening to the soft piano music in the background.
Now was not the time for reminiscing, the woman thinks angrily to herself. The familiar surroundings serve to lull, and drain the earlier fury that had filled her. She is still angry, to be sure - but no longer bent on instant revenge. Instead, the more familiar instincts take over: find answers and then worry about revenge.
Misato looks up from her steaming cup. At first glance, her two companions are lost in the same mood as she; listening to the ambient music. The woman casts her gaze over the Chairperson on her left, who is nursing a cup of tea, and finally eyes to the Vice-Commander, who her prolonged experience in liquor recognizes as having a shot of.. whiskey? Katsuragi blinks, startled, and raises her gaze to discover Kouzou regarding her in turn.)
Fuyutsuki: (humorously) I didn't know the Major didn't..
(Misato scowls back down at the coffee, almost as if it were the cup's fault. Fuyutsuki is a study in ignorance, calmly sipping his liquor and grimacing slightly - obviously not a man who drinks often. There is nothing about him to suggest at the horrible things that he works with.
Maya glances from one person to the other, trying to decide whether to speak up, what to say, or whether to simply swallow her tea. Taking a tentative sip, Ibuki winces and puts the too-hot cup to one side.)
Misato: People change.
(The old man simply continues to smile, taking another sip of his beverage before setting the glass down on the table with a soft clunk.)
Fuyutsuki: (quietly) Change. The reason why we're here.
Misato: (equally quiet) I'm interested in what.. changed.. them. I saw it happening, Commander - it was..
(At this point, the woman pauses, fumbling for words..)
Misato: It was like..
(The dark haired Major turns to Maya, her eyes still showing signs of her old anger. Maya takes a swallow from her tea to cover the discomfort of being under that gaze. As the temperature of the tea hits her Ibuki winces, forcing herself to gulp the hot liquid rather than spit it out in a most unladylike manner. The Vice-Commander takes the opportunity to speak, covering Maya's embarrassing moment.)
Fuyutsuki: It's strange how much people resist change.
(Before anyone at the table can comment, the Vice-Commander raises his glass in silent salute and knocks back the remaining contents. Before the astonished eyes of both Maya and Misato - for drinking was not a past time the man was famous for - he returns the cup gently to the table, turning it over at the last moment to trap two ice cubes beneath the cup. The third escapes, skittering across the table top to fall to the carpeted floor below.)
Fuyutsuki: Let us take these ice cubes as an example, Major..
Fuyutsuki: Beneath this cup, the cubes are safe - relatively. Although they will change - in this case, melt - they will be protected by the glass - (pausing) The water will be confined.. unable to escape.
Fuyutsuki: People work in a similar way. All living things have a need - even a desire - to change, but there are barriers that control this change, limit it, confine it.
Misato: (looking confused) I don't see..
(At this point, the Project-E Chairperson recovers her voice and adds to the explanation of her superior.)
Maya: As long as the cup is there, it will prevent the melting ice from spreading as water - but will also protect the water from outside forces, from contamination. This protection - the force that keeps things from contamination, from mixing and merging, is present - to some degree - in all things. We call it an AT-Field.
Misato: An AT-Field..! But that's what the Evas..
(Under the glass, the two ice cubes glisten wetly, slowly melting. Moisture pools on the tabletop, confined by the rim of the glass.)
Fuyutsuki: (somber) AT-Fields are present in all living creatures. It is what protects us from destroying ourselves - what prevents uncontrolled change, controls how we interact with 'outside elements'.. or other people. Purity of spirit - the 'light of the soul', if you prefer.
Maya: The AT-Field of Eva is simply a powerful form of it - an extension of the pilot's mind, or soul, if you will - their desire to remain "unchanged", uncontaminated, undisturbed.
(To illustrate the point, the old man casually picks the glass up off the table; the moisture that had gathered underneath quickly makes its escape.
Misato stares, utterly transfixed, at the spreading pool of water. The ice cubes continue to liquefy in the natural way, but to Katsuragi it seems most.. unnatural.
A droplet falls from where it clung to the underside of Fuyutsuki's raised glass - it spatters on the table, quickly swallowed up by the growing puddle. Fuyutsuki rights the cup and sets it down nearby.)
Maya: Our best guess as to what happened to the Second and Third Children is that their AT Fields - the latent forms present in every human being - was suppressed, then lost. Without protection, their bodies have been and are continuing to undergo degeneration - uncontrolled change.
(Katsuragi looks faintly sick as the imagery begins to assault her mind once more..)
-(flashback)- The other two objects.. blocky shapes, at least ten feet high and across..
-(flashback)- ..through the plexiglass, Misato can see that the fluid within is a dark, almost sick yellow - LCL? Perhaps. But drifting in the fluid, suspended by slender cables and harnesses, are the children.
-(flashback)- Shinji's features are thin, exhausted, his eyes closed. The shirt he had been wearing in the hospital is still wrapped around him, the waistline rising in the LCL. Below, Misato can count out every rib of the third child's emaciated frame. Below his ribs..
(Misato's fist comes down on the table, hard, making the china - and the Chairperson in the seat to her left - jump.)
Misato: No.. how can this be possible..? Why?
Maya: (recovering) The AT-Field experiments.
(After a nervous swallow, Ibuki continues in a more serious tone.)
Maya: And the Test-Type. I was told it was to be a weapon - an Evangelion with unique power, piloted by two children. Shinji and Asuka were the only ones to pilot it together and we discovered not long after that they were linked to it - and it to them.
Misato: The.. catalyst.. mentioned in the report?
Fuyutsuki: (nodding grimly) ..
Maya: (subdued) It never even saw salvage, let alone the active duty I had been originally told to expect.
Misato: This.. illness - provoked.. by who?
Fuyutsuki: (coldly) The orders of Commander Ikari.
(Without thought, Major Katsuragi finds the heavy standard-issue pistol in her hand once more. The weapon makes a soft clunk on the table as Misato pushes down with her hands, thumbing the safety off the sidearm as she prepares to stand - but Fuyutsuki speaks again, quickly.)
Fuyutsuki: Before you do that, think for a moment, Major.
(Misato pauses, caught inelegantly on the edge of her seat, trapped in the moment of rising as Fuyutsuki continues.)
Fuyutsuki: He knows, Major. He already knows you've seen them.
Fuyutsuki: Look at the door.
(Misato shifts around, turning her head, her eyes seeking the shining exit sign above the entryway. Filling the door frame is a bulky man dressed in standard issue black - a security agent. No one could tell for sure through the agent's dark glasses, but Katsuragi suspects that he has been watching her since their arrival - if not earlier.)
Fuyutsuki: He'll have a hundred of those men between you and him. They will stop you, and if you persist, they will be 'forced' to kill you.
Fuyutsuki: You certainly won't get close enough to him to use your gun.
(Misato slowly resumes her seat and, after a brief pause, slides her pistol back into the holster beneath her jacket. With the final click of the weapon sliding home, all the rage and grief she had shown before, the madness of the moment as she had held Fuyutsuki at gunpoint, melts away - much like the two ice cubes, now a neat puddle before the NERV Vice-Commander.
Something in Misato Katsuragi feels.. dead. No, not quite dead; tired, perhaps. Exhausted. Drained - yes, that is it.
Drained. That feeling.. when you stare at the corpses of loved ones and know there is absolutely nothing you can do - when you've lost the energy to feel anything more.
The feeling when injustice struts before you - a crime laughing in your face, screaming out for punishment, for revenge!! For justice.. justice that you would do anything to dispense, anything to deal out the appropriate agony so deserved by the perpetrator. Even if you die in the attempt.
But death would serve no purpose - not if she didn't take him with her, at least. Even that is denied.)
Misato: (weary) Now what?
(The old man plucks several serviettes from the dispenser on the bar and begins wiping up the pooling water.)
Fuyutsuki: You, Major, will do your job, and prepare for the scheduled activation of Unit One.
Misato: (frowning) ..
Fuyutsuki: Since the Commander knows you have seen them, he cannot deny their condition much longer. A recovery operation will be authorized and the Chairperson (nodding to Maya) will do her best to see to its success.
Maya: (nodding solemnly) ..
Fuyutsuki: (pausing) And I must go and speak with Commander Ikari. I have to convince him that you won't do anything.. foolish.
Misato: (slowly) You mean I should do nothing?
Fuyutsuki: (sighing) I'm... sorry, Major. It's for the best.
(At this, the aged man slowly rises from his chair, gently compressing the wet serviettes into a soft mushy ball in one hand.)
Fuyutsuki: I know this seems.. cruel, Major Katsuragi.. for me to tell you this much and then ask you to wait. I cannot myself condone what has happened any longer.
Fuyutsuki: I can only say.. the wait is nearly over.
Maya: (looking confused) ..
Fuyutsuki: (thinking) For all of us.
(The Vice-Commander of NERV nods once to his companions before turning and leaving the restaurant, absently dropping the squishy ball of tissue at the foot of the bulky Security Agent manning the door.
The soldier takes several careful minutes deciding that the aforementioned mushy ball is of no tactical relevance to his surveillance.)
Recording: (phone) Yeah, Miss Okazaki? It's the front desk here. We've received mail for you - a parcel. There's no record of the sender, but it's got a return address of.. Tokyo-2 University. Well, could you come down to the desk to pick it up? We'll keep hold of it until you do.
(The recorded voice is the only sound disturbing the peace of the living room setting. Secure in its cradle, the tape in the machine slowly unwinds, parroting its pre-recorded messages into the silence. Beside the device, a large thick high-school textbook lies open; along the inside of one cover it bears the name tag of Lyn Anouilh, the Sixth Child. From its ragged appearance, the book has seen some use; it presently rests beside the answering machine as its owner quickly performs an errand.
The apartment is empty; the tape machine, left unattended, continues its playback.
With a hiss, the door to the apartment opens and the Sixth Child returns, the target of his errand carried casually in the crook of one arm. As the door closes behind him, a small smile is visible on his face. His smile is not one of satisfaction - the parcel is hardly important to him, and he gives it little thought - instead, this smile is one that has touched his expressions ever since he had spoken to her.
The very thought of her makes the grin return in full force.
Absently he tosses the package onto the tabletop beside the phone, and, without slowing down in the slightest, snatches his textbook from where he left it and heads for his room. Even when faced with incoming homework he remains in high spirits.)
Lyn: (leaving) ..
(The boy's footsteps can be heard down the hallway, accompanied by a whistled tune which is cut off, finally, by the sound of a sliding door. Behind him, the parcel lies where he left it, beside the telephone.
It is a cardboard box, perhaps half the size of a shoebox, sealed with masking tape. The address - this very apartment - is visible in small, printed letters on the upright face, framed by too many stamps, customs signatures and air-mail stickers. Set on its way over a month ago, well before a certain woman began her search into Marduke, the parcel has finally reached the former UNSYNAPS Lieutenant - and spy - known as Seyoko Okazaki.
Seyoko would be very interested to hear who had sent the package - actually, "interested" may not be the best word.
Perhaps "dumbfounded", or "stupefied".
Certainly "afraid" for its contents.
Then again, how could she know? For several days past, the Lieutenant has been engaged in a fruitless search involving both surveillance and breaking and entering of the Seventh Child's apartment. It seemed, sometimes, like paranoia - that she was taking it too far. But never in all the hours of her surveillance, all the time spent in a fruitless search for anything to back up what seemed just the fears of her imagination, did the most wildly paranoid possibility occur to her; that her answer had already been sent to her.
It was, after all, not a part of their schedule.)
(Vice-Commander Fuyutsuki takes a careful breath and steps into the office of the Commander of NERV, Gendo Ikari.
Everything about the office had been designed to be troubling to the potential visitor; One could talk forever about the ploys that are used to give that "special feel" to this special room - but then, nearly all of NERV knows about the office of the Commander.. by reputation at the very least.
And then there is the man at the desk, seated characteristically with his hands together below his chin, staring at what appears to be an opened report. Only those who know him would guess otherwise. Commander Gendo Ikari - a man who's control of the people under his reaches out farther and deeper than his rank would suggest. This is what always strikes those summoned to this room - this is Ikari's office, where you have no rights, no say unless he says so.
A need to categorize, to control, to plan and to set in schedule. His office was an excellent example of this: If the man calls on you to enter, you stepped into his world - where everything seemed to work in his favour.
Nothing makes this more clear to Fuyutsuki then the two ice cubes that glisten wetly on Ikari's desk. Beside them rests a small octagonal glass.
Kouzou Fuyutsuki begins to speak without any need for questioning.)
Fuyutsuki: It was necessary.
Fuyutsuki: There was no point in concealing it from her.
Gendo: (quietly) And what did you tell her?
Fuyutsuki: The truth.
Gendo: (flatly) The truth.
Fuyutsuki: Enough of it.
(The younger of the pair remains silent, perhaps pondering this statement, perhaps turning over Fuyutsuki's actions in his mind. The Vice-Commander is again struck by the measure of control Ikari has asserted over the situation and, in a sudden insight, realises the true import of his actions: it was not something Gendo had authorized, and hence, is not something that he is comfortable with.
Behind those tinted glasses, Fuyutsuki suspected, is - for once - a worried man.)
Fuyutsuki: (steadily) Further.. measures will not be necessary. I took care of it.
(After a lengthy silence, the Commander appears to accept Fuyutsuki's words, perhaps trusting in the old man's judgement - with a slight gesture, a hand raised absently, he dismisses the problem..)
Gendo: As long as Major Katsuragi does not interfere, it will have no effect. Presumably she believes that we are doing everything possible?
(.. by judging the issue and neatly categorizing it.)
Fuyutsuki: (coldly) Aren't we?
Gendo: The doorway is open. Closing it now would be premature.
(It is Fuyutsuki's turn to fall silent, his face expressionless as he absorbs the callous disregard of his superior. "Doorway" indeed - a means to an end, nothing more. Unnoticing, Ikari continues..)
Gendo: The activation will also serve to occupy the Major.. she has her responsibilities, of course. It is time she should return to attending to them, rather than skulking about Terminal Dogma, peering into places where she should not.
Fuyutsuki: I was careful to stress that point.
(At this statement, Gendo relaxes slightly in his chair, letting his head dip, his interlaced fingers now serving to shadow his mouth.)
Gendo: (smirking) Well done..
(The car moves slowly; a gap opens up before it and the vehicle rolls forward only a few feet.
A long line of traffic crawls sluggishly along the road as emergency workers direct the flow of cars around a blockage on the street. A vehicle lies on it's side, bonnet crushed, windows shattered, cutting off the lane and forcing traffic to pass around.
Seyoko Okazaki slouches behind the wheel, a bored expression on her face as she waits for her next chance to advance. A glance in the rear view mirror - her third in as many minutes -reminds her that reversing out of the mess is impossible; there are too many cars, with too many impatient drivers.
Up ahead on the road, an emergency worker holds up a sign, waving vehicles carefully through what once was a two lane street. Now the vehicles on either side are forced to share a single lane with a worker periodically ordering first one direction, then the other, around the obstruction. Too many drivers stop to eye the mangled wreckage blocking the other lane.)
Seyoko: (exasperated) Awww, geeez...
(Unfortunately, the woman does not have much choice in where she is headed this day. She had been told to take this road by an anonymous caller; the "I-Know-Who-You-Are" sort of anonymous. Fortunately, Seyoko spies what she had expected long before he reaches the car - a figure walking quickly along the sidewalk, head down, hands muffled in a bulky jacket. Seyoko leans over to unlock the passenger side door, keeping an eye on the approaching man who weaves between vehicles and ducks under the safety barrier to trot alongside the cars that move at a snail's pace.
The door opens, then shuts after the agent settles himself into his seat.)
Agent: (taking in the interior) Nice car.. is it yours, rental or NERV-issue?
Seyoko: Mine. (grimacing) After I stopped being an inspector for the UN, they decided I didn't deserve a company car... or a decent salary.
(The man grins wryly, smoothing out the lapels of his jacket. The appearance of normality; too many times in this business is each man - or woman - out for themselves. A joke, however weak or strained, is sometimes a sign of an agent tired of the constant tension - or one using a ploy to deceive the enemy.
Skipping any more small talk, the man speaks briskly.)
Agent: I couldn't find the branch that selected Tamashii.
(Seyoko nods - she had expected as much. As early as their first meeting, at the train station where she had hoped to find
Agent: But I did find some agencies that had contact with the girl earlier - a few things that had been missed when they were cleaning house.
Seyoko: Some of her records weren't erased?
(The man reaches into his jacket, pulling out a folded paper - actually several papers, but still very few. Seyoko, although realizing that the chances of finding anything were slim, had still hoped for something more.. substantial, something more solid to work with.)
Agent: Nothing big - no birth certificates or records of residence - but a few things. (pointing out a specific piece of paper) From a school she used to go to - seems like she broke an arm and the school sick bay made a note of it.
Seyoko: (reading) ..this is nowhere near complete.
Agent: The school didn't treat her, they just sent her to a hospital and gave her a few days off. (shrugs) None of the teachers remember her specifically, but a few said the name was familiar - of course, there were no records of her enrollment.
Seyoko: Just this old note about a girl breaking her arm, hidden at the bottom of some filing cabinet.. how did you find it?
Agent: We had a few leads as to where she might have lived before moving to Tokyo-3. We don't have any proof, beyond that.
Seyoko: .. She's normal.
Seyoko: Just a normal kid, chosen by accident.
Agent: (cautiously) It seems that way.. you know something you're not telling me?
(Another car manages to slip past the wreckage, and another car is waved along the line. Seyoko inches the vehicle carefully into the new space, then pulls up once more. Placing her head in her hands she rubs her face with her palms, as if she could somehow absorb a missing fact through her skin.)
Seyoko: (through hands) I don't know. I just keep expecting to find something, something that'll mean that I was right.
Agent: Right about what?
Seyoko: (laughing tiredly) I don't know. If I knew, I wouldn't have a problem.
Agent: You might be looking too hard.
Seyoko: (tired) Maybe..
Agent: She's normal kid - just like you or me before we signed on for this. Normal kids break their arms and go to a hospital. Normal kids attend school.
(Another few feet open up before them as another driver pulls past the wreck. Seyoko lets the car slip forwards into the new gap - again.)
Seyoko: Was that your idea? (nods head at wreck) A little excessive.
Agent: Huh? (shaking head) No, just a "happy" coincidence. I was going to catch you at the red lights up I'd rigged up ahead.
Seyoko: (smiling absently) I'm sure it's a nice piece of work... shame we won't have to admire it.
Agent: I'm flattered.
(After that brief exchange, the two wait in silence for the next car to edge past.)
Agent: (eventually) Kimio?
Seyoko: Nothing. It's like he upped and disappeared.
Agent: (sighing) Perhaps he has.
Seyoko: I've been looking - that train ticket you bought was the best lead I had on him. He's either backed out of or cancelled every engagement for the next year. Irritated quite a few theological schools in
Agent: (sarcastically) I'm sure they'll understand - religion isn't exactly big with the Angels around. Sounds like a legitimate - and wise - move.
Seyoko: (continuing) For all I know, he could be dead.. I've been pulling strings and favors, in case the police force finds his body somewhere.. but I doubt it. If they find him they'll contact his next of kin; keep an eye on them.
Agent: Already taken care of.
Seyoko: ..this is a total waste of time.
(And that's what it has felt like - wasting time. Chiba Kimio, the last director of the Marduke Institute that Seyoko could contact: missing. Gone. As if he had fallen off the face of the earth.
And yet, there had been no disturbance, no ripples in the pond. Everyone who Seyoko had been in contact with - colleagues of Kimio at the Tokyo-2 University, in the majority - had not been worried or even concerned. His cancellations were, as the Agent suspected, viewed as a legitimate move in the wake of recent Angel re-emergence.
The only people who had been in contact with the man in the last ten years seemed sure that he was just "On a trip".
A waste of time.)
Agent: Looks like it.
(At last, it is Seyoko's turn. The emergency worker waves his sign, signaling
Seyoko: What about Aoi's family? The name?
Agent: Tamashii? Not much. There are families around, but none of them have a daughter named Aoi, aged fifteen..
Seyoko: (darkly) Even if they did, they wouldn't talk about her - NERV would have made sure of that.
(For the sake of safety, NERV would have done so. To prevent a pilot's integrity from being compromised, to stop Eva from being controlled through blackmail, the pilots would be disconnected from their families - as it seems Aoi was. The family would be "In on it" as well, and no answers would come from them.
A traffic light ahead flashed red - Seyoko slows the car on the line.)
Agent: Why don't you ask her?
Seyoko: Ask her?
Agent: About her parents. About her family.
Seyoko: (doubtfully) I don't know..
Agent: Weren't you ever a kid? Adults always ask stupid questions.
(Seyoko's answer is interrupted by the abrupt ringing of her cellular phone. Flipping it out, she flashes a wry look at the agent.)
Seyoko: Hang on.. .(to phone) Hello?
Caller: (phone) Lieutenant, you answered your mobile - I'm so happy. Dare I assume that you still work for NERV?
(The aforementioned Lieutenant gapes, face-faulting at the wheel of her car as she recognizes the voice on other other end.)
Seyoko: Uh - Major Katsuragi?
(Beside her, the Agent grimaces in false sympathy.. and begins feeling for the handle of his door.)
Misato: (phone) That's right, Lieutenant. I'm surprised you recognized me, given how many sick days you've taken recently.
(Seyoko winces at the comment - it seems that finally her absence from work, taken to keep surveillance on Aoi earlier, has come back to haunt her. And worse, it has taken the form of Katsuragi..
In retrospect, it occurs to the woman just how ill-timed her last blow-up with the Major seemed to be. At the worst possible time for
Misato: (phone) I'm calling to inform you that Lyn Anouilh will be required as pilot for the activation of Evangelion Unit 01.
Seyoko: (disbelief) Unit One?!
Misato: (phone) More details will be given to you in writing concerning time, date and the Evangelion cage to be used.
Seyoko: Major, I..
Misato: (phone, coldly) It will be your responsibility to contact the necessary divisions for any operation-specific precautions you may wish to take. (pausing) Do you want to take any special precautions?
(Seyoko takes a breath and begins to respond, exasperated at Katsuragi's arrogant dismissal of her concern for Lyn. Before she can begin speaking, however, she is interrupted by a loud slam on her right - as the unnamed Agent exits quickly and efficiently. This distraction only serves to make her response to her superior officer that much less certain..)
Seyoko: I.. I think I'll need to.
Misato: Then you'll have to prepare a written request.
Seyoko: Who do I have to file the request with?
Misato: (hanging up) ...
Seyoko: Wait... why Lyn and Unit One?
(But the line is already dead - the other end has been hung up.
Seyoko looks down at the phone in her hand. Several biting comments pass through her mind; Not the least of which is her frustration that the Agent chose to depart, leaving her an almost useless scrap of paper by way of "help".
The sound of car horns interrupts the cursing of the Lieutenant behind the wheel; it seems during her rant the traffic lights have shifted, but her car had not. The drivers lined up behind her blast their horns, impatient to move on. Irate at both the Agent's uselessness and Katsuragi's mood, Seyoko raises a hand to 'salute' the impatient motorists, tossing her cellular phone onto the passenger seat as she stomps down on the accelerator pedal, darting ahead at breakneck speed.)
Maya: You really shouldn't take it out on her.
(Her companion lets her cellular phone fall from her fingers to clunk onto the tabletop, and, without deigning to reply, stares out through the window at the inverted cityscape known as the Geo-Front.
Minutes pass and still Misato has said nothing. Her hands remained curled around the rapidly cooling cup, and yet, she has not even sampled the coffee - lost as she is in some unknown contemplation.
Eventually the woman absently replies to Maya's statement, her tone casual and vague.)
Misato: I might apologise later - if I feel like it.
(Katsuragi returns to her gloomy contemplation of the Geo-Front, slouching forwards over her still-full mug. In the tinted glass, her reflection gazes dully back at her, the dark shadows beneath her eyes blending with the lighting in the bar, making Katsuragi look different.. older, more lined.. her shoulders showing a slight sag, the inevitable signs of too much burden - too much weight, too many pressures, too high expectations - and maybe, feelings that ran too deep. In the reflection of herself, backed by the Geo-Front, Misato sees a different person.
Maya takes a sip of her tea, watching the Major from over the rim of her cup.)
Maya: (eventually) We're doing everything that we can.
(Maya places her teacup in its saucer, her tone turning professional for a moment.)
Maya: (seriously) I've dug up some of the children's old RAM samples - from before the contact.
Maya: There are also some of the protein chains that Doctor Akagi had constructed for the first recovery operation..
Maya: We've done a lot of work since then.
(Misato finally takes her eyes off the tinted glass, but still does not meet Ibuki's concerned expression. Instead, the older woman seeks refuge in the depths of her untouched coffee mug, staring down at the lukewarm contents, looking grim.)
Misato: (quietly) I appreciate what you're trying to do, but you don't have to lie to me.
Maya: (earnestly) It's not a lie.
Misato: Then tell me - honestly - what are their chances?
Maya: (shaking her head) Bad.
(Misato Katsuragi finally lifts the cup to her lips, taking a long draught as she waits for Maya to continue.)
Maya: There isn't much more to say, really. This isn't something we have a lot of experience with.
Misato: What about Shinji's recovery - from Unit One?
(Maya sighs and shakes her head a second time, her tone turning negative.)
Maya: We still don't know if anything that we did actually helped. It may have been just a coincidence that he returned on the same day as our operation. The most important factor seemed to be the pilot's desire to return.
Maya: We just don't have the experience required to say anything with certainty.
Maya: About all I can say is that we are in a better position that we have ever been.
Misato: (glum) Which, for all we know, might as well be nowhere.
(The younger woman does not respond to this grim fact - indeed, she has nothing more to say. Misato is hardly a scientist; her knowledge of strategy and tactics give her no grounding in the sciences that Maya works with. The few cross-curriculum courses she did in University cannot even compare; so, as may be expected, her next question separates itself from the technical details.)
Misato: The children.. do they.. are they..
Maya: (tiredly) Do they know what is happening to them? Probably not.
Maya: As best we can tell, they are unconscious - in fact, if I didn't know better, I'd say they were in deep sleep. Sleep: that's what our instruments say.
Misato: So they aren't... feeling anything?
Maya: (shaking her head) ...
Misato: (softly) What if they don't want to come back? What if they like where they are?
Misato: (softer) Where ever there is..?
(This quiet question signals the end of the spoken conversation between the two women. Privately, however, another conversation continues - within the confines of Major Katsuragi's thoughts. It is a conversation laced with speculation, inspired by feeling.. and tainted by guilt..)
Misato: (thinking) What if they like where they are?
Misato: (thinking) What if they hate it?
Misato: (thinking) I could have helped them..
(The Director of Operations' gaze falls once more to the coffee cup, staring into the muddy depths of the now-cold liquid. At some point during Misato's brooding Maya leaves; her excuse, getting back to work, is heard only at the edges of Misato's awareness - she answers out of reflex.
It is not until her eyelids droop and her head nods over her cup of coffee that Misato finally decides to depart.)
(Hanging in the air before the Geo-Front Pyramid, an observer might, if they knew exactly where to look, spot the despondent Major as she slowly rises and leaves her cold coffee behind.
Build for prime location, the restaurant is located in one of the higher stories of the complex - Misato's only observer remains the twinkling lights of the buildings stationed inside the Geo-Front dome. Despite it being "night" under the giant dark shell of Earth, it is only early afternoon "topside".
The lighting of the Geo-Front has not so much as flickered by the time the land above has darkened into night. Many personnel have left their posts, replaced by a new shift preparing for a long - and hopefully boring - evening, but the lights remain constant, unblinking.
Misato has gone home. There seemed little else she could do. The Geo-Front seems a sterile, stagnant place for her - her apartment complex only slightly less so when she arrived. Pen Pen, fast asleep in the refrigerator when she arrived, was "cold comfort"; excusing the pun. Having resolved previously to remove beer from her diet, the Major chose to take on-board several cups of coffee in the hope of staving off the necessary desire for rest..
.. but eventually her body's need takes over, and the Major makes her way sluggishly towards the bedroom, earnestly hoping to spend the night locked in dreamless sleep.)
(Across town, another member of NERV spends an uneasy night. Seyoko Okazaki is faced with the uneasy task of informing the Sixth Child of his impending task - an extremely risky activation in Unit 01. By the time the boy returns home from school, Seyoko has made the necessary phonecalls to clear up any confusion - yes, an activation is scheduled - and is in the middle of an official paper, a request for additional precautionary measures. Her ward, Lyn Anouilh, barely notices as he heads straight for his room.
A few moments later, the Lieutenant moves to follow, to tell Lyn of what is to come, when she hears a curious sound from the other side of the Sixth Child's closed bedroom door..
A muffled laugh, then a sigh - and a few softly spoken words..)
Lyn: (muffled) No.. I guess she won't mind..
(Is someone in there? No.. its.. a conversation? Over the phone?)
Lyn: (muffled) I just don't know anymore, Aoi..
(Seyoko frowns and backs away, deciding the time to be inappropriate - and troubled more than a little by the phone call itself. Moving back to her desk, she resumes work on the official forms, adding something else to the list - a request for the Seventh Child to be present at the activation of the Eva. Although the request could well be denied, Seyoko suddenly feels the renewed need to know more about the newest Eva pilot - and, remembering the one fragment of information the contact was able to obtain, realises that this activation may be a way to obtain some more answers.
Telling Lyn the bad news will have to wait.)
(A plastic container filled with steaming noodles slides smoothly across the desktop to thump lightly against a monitor.)
Maya: (smiling) Breakfast.
(Her companion in 'breakfast' - if it can be called that at 3am - is the Vice-Commander of NERV, Kouzou Fuyutsuki.
Maya has just returned from a trip to the cafeteria, her own boxed breakfast still under her arm. Fortunately, a large organisation such as NERV is careful to keep conveniences such as cafeterias stocked all night long for hungry graveyard technicians; a swipe from the woman's card bought her the noodles. The bill will no-doubt arrive later, or perhaps be docked from one of her anonymous paychecks.
Fuyutsuki barely looks up from the terminal at which he labours. Behind him, stenciled on the wall, is the familiar figures of "714" - that fateful room number. The exact contents of the room which, fortunately, are now shrouded in the darkness of the low chamber lighting, need not be repeated.
The lights of his terminal reflect off the irises of his eyes as the Vice-Commander speaks.)
Fuyutsuki: Thanks, but..
Maya: You've eaten?
(In demonstration, the older man calmly raises the coffee cup that was, until now, hidden on the far side of his keyboard. Tipping it in salute, he drains the dregs.)
Fuyutsuki: (setting cup down) Hardly. You didn't bring enough chopsticks.
(Maya Ibuki looks down at the plastic container in her hand, staring at the napkin wrapped chopsticks that rest beneath her thumb. Blinking once, she looks up and notices for the first time that the second container - the one she just passed to her superior officer - lacks any form of eating implement.
Fuyutsuki eyes her carefully, a tolerant smile on his face as Maya struggles with the issue. The woman wrestles with the problem; caught between thoughts of staying to work, and returning to the cafeteria to collect a new set. Eventually, she strikes the solution - smoothly snapping one of her chopsticks in half and proudly presenting the new, short version to her Vice-Commander.)
Fuyutsuki: (absently) A bit short.. but it will do..
Maya: (snapping the other chopstick set) ...
Fuyutsuki: If only all our problems were so easily solved.
(Maya says nothing, assuming the seat at the console opposite. For a few minutes, both are nearly silent, alternating between hasty eating and furious work at their individual stations. Protein strains, DNA molecules and complex chemical reactions stream past in an endless symphony of simulation; both the Project-E Chairperson and the Vice-Commander of NERV work diligently, committed to the reversal of the horror that has befallen the Second and Third Children.
An interminable time passes as both become engrossed in work and meal; eventually Fuyutsuki speaks again.)
Fuyutsuki: (working) How was the Major after I left?
Maya: She was taking it pretty hard..
(The man nods, scratching around his nearly empty container with the shortened eating implements.)
Fuyutsuki: I hope she feels better soon..
Maya: (looking up) Then again, these are her children here. (firmly) She's entitled to her anger, in my opinion. Only a heartless.. monster.. could allow this to happen under his command!
Maya: ... sorry, Sir.
Fuyutsuki: (shaking his head) Quite alright..
(Both know who she was referring to. And Fuyutsuki was no longer sure he could disagree.
Hurriedly, Maya tries to cover the awkward moment by continuing.)
Maya: Speaking of anger.. the Major made quite a rude call to the Lieutenant Okazaki - she called me earlier tonight in response. She wanted to clarify our reasons for activating Unit 01 with the Sixth Child..
(Fuyutsuki barely looks up from his work, tapping at his keyboard as he replies.)
Fuyutsuki: What did you say?
Maya: (sighing) I told her the regular pilot was in hospital, recovering from a stress-related illness - a side-effect of work.
Maya: Is that even believable?
Fuyutsuki: I suppose it will do.
(Glancing sideways, the nervous Chairperson balks at her superior's lack of reaction.)
Maya: I'm sorry, Sir.. I just don't have the knack for this.. like Ritsuko - Doctor Akagi had.
(There is a snort beside her and Ibuki turns fully in her chair, staring at her companion. Fuyutsuki has broken away from his work and is now chuckling quietly, looking in her direction. Too surprised at his reaction to blush, Ibuki waits quietly for the man to explain his humor.)
Fuyutsuki: You were promoted because you were the best of the technical staff, for a technical position. We have a public relations staff for handling public relations..
Fuyutsuki: You did your best; the Lieutenant is the least of our worries at the moment, although I'd hate for her former employers to find out.
(Maya nods solemnly, knowing exactly what the Vice-Commander is referring to. Since the attack of the last Angel and the discovery of a former Evangelion pilot in the fog-covered streets of Tokyo-3, the Project-E Chairperson has been privy to some of the most closely guarded secrets - and heresies - of NERV and their former associates, SEELE.
She knows of the Angels..
She knows of those things which followed Tabris, the Angel of Choice..
And she knows the threat posed by UNSYNAPS, Lieutenant Okazaki's former employer.)
(Jean-Phillipe Anouilh looks nothing like his son.
If the two would stand in the same room, they would appear strangers - not just from the physical differences, which are many, or from the distance that the father and son keep between each other, but from the man's bearing. The father carries about him an air that the son does not have - yet. Whether Lyn will gain such a demeanor has yet to be seen.
There is a set to his father's gaze that speaks of confidence, echoed in his purposeful walk and straight back. He appears to those who meet him as a man who is sure of himself, and this is no deception. Jean-Phillipe Anouilh is certain of what he does; this certainty reflects in his bearing.
Not entirely hidden by the neckline of his starched shirt is a beaded cord, that hangs something about his neck. Whatever it is, however, is hidden beneath his collar. His clothes are expensive, carefully tailored; they could hide a pouch of a stomach, or lend false weight to a scrawny frame. He is of average height, but that cannot be seen now, seated as he is behind his desk.
The office of Jean-Phillipe Anouilh is vastly different to that of his counterpart in NERV. While Gendo Ikari labours in a vast, alien landscape, dark and intimidating, Anouilh works in a small, well-lit office. Normal objects can be seen about the room - the desk here, a filing cabinet there, an air conditioning unit in the wall, and, the piece of furniture that would be the most out of place in the cavernous office of Gendo Ikari; a small cushioned sofa.
On the sofa sits a man in military uniform. He appears as many uniformed men do - nondescript, unremarkable. People often see the uniform first, and the face later.)
(Anouilh looks up, angered disappointment briefly visible on his face before being hidden under his usual calm demeanor. Major Arnold Hayridge often speaks plainly; he has always done so. Not because of his military training, though it would be easy to say so, but because he believed that honest men did honest deeds - and did not have to hide by speaking "clever words".
The Major's lip twists slightly as he ponders the "they" in the train of his thoughts. Hiding behind words is something that "they" are very good at.)
Anouilh: Yes, they refused.
(This is a point that Hayridge brings up all too often. He does not have to wait long for Jean-Phillipe's predictable answer.)
Anouilh: They don't trust those under us. If installations were carried out, and news of it were to filter to Ikari and NERV...
(The director of UNSynaps directs an irritated glance at the Major. Not entirely tactless,
Anouilh: I don't have to teach you tactics, Arnold. Better to disarm an opponent before he becomes a threat.
Anouilh: Why else was he chosen to pilot?
(The two companions have had many discrete conferences like this one, quietly discussing possibilities - yet, the possibility just spoken by the father has never previously been voiced. Of course, both had suspected such a motive; when considered, the reasoning is clear.
Hayridge, at least, had the tact to keep the fact from Anouilh that his son was nothing more than a hostage. Exactly as the father had now stated - better to disarm an opponent before he becomes a threat.
Given such a bare-faced acceptance of the truth,
To save them both from another round of frustration, Hayridge chooses to take the easy way out - change the subject. In this case, the new topic is simply another child.. the Seventh.)
Anouilh: She protected him. From the last one sent.
(At this Anouilh turns sharply, the question on his lips silence as the Major continues.)
Anouilh: This is a time of strife for her. Given her.. origin, given the face that they present, the face that makes you trust them so little - I can understand her outburst.
(The UNSynaps director remains silent, quietly considering. Major Hayridge continues after a pause, his gaze looking to one side, towards the door of the office.)
Anouilh: (distantly) One is what she is. The other is what she must become.
(The Major releases a deep breath, sinking back into his chair as the he considers the path upon which Anouilh had committed the UNSynaps organisation, so long ago. Once nothing more than a privately sponsored laboratory, the group formerly known for its skilled technical capacities had catapulted itself into a position of critical power.
And yet the Major's mind is not filled with tactics, nor is it filled with the contemplation of what can be done with such power - with the Mass Production Evangelions commissioned to them by their superiors. Arnold is rare for a military man; too many years of service, too many hardships and the time he spent with the boy allow him to do nothing more than feel regret - regret for those that must, for the greater good, be trapped in the middle of an impending explosion..)
Anouilh: (sharply) It is not my choice what is forced upon him.
Anouilh: We need her. We all need her. Without her..
(The Major's words hide his doubt. Anouilh might draw strength from the promises given, from his eyewitness accounts, but the Major - having never beheld the "glory" with his own eyes - was more skeptical of anything SEELE offered.)
Anouilh: We are protected - we have the Eva Series. SEELE will not allow us to come to harm - If need be, we may use them to defend ourselves.
(Another angered glance, another rebuke at the man's doubts.)
Anouilh: Think of what they've given us, friend. Think of what we've become. Would they back out now, after everything we have discovered ?
(Anouilh nods, apparently satisfied; but his agreement may have come too soon as the Major qualifies his statement..)
(His superior sighs heavily into a hand raised to his forehead. The conversation has returned to it's beginning - the status of the Eva series, and SEELE's refusal. This time it is Jean-Phillipe's turn to change the course of the discussion.)
Anouilh: And NERV? How does our opposition fare?
Anouilh: If we hear anything.
(A few short months before, they could have expected much insight into NERV's operation. Though they did not possess informants in the higher levels of Ikari's followers, they did have one source of information - but with the same stroke that ended Kimio, she had ended her own credibility. Even Anouilh was unsure of SEELE's claims to her double-agent status.
But she could no longer be trusted. Anouilh had sent the other away, a question in his mind to her loyalty. Much to his surprise, the second -
And thus, hearing from their operatives in
On that note..)
(The morning finds Anouilh's son in the city of
It seems the inhabitants of Tokyo-3 face another sweltering day - the sun quickly warming the concrete, promising to be scorching the asphalt by noon. The heat has not yet burned away the cool of the night, but it is making good, steady progress.
In the apartment of the Sixth Child, Seyoko Okazaki and Lyn Anouilh are presently taking advantage of the morning air. Their apartment door is wide open, letting in a cool breeze and with it the distant sounds of traffic from the street below. The two people in question are seated at the small kitchen table, directly in from the open door, and are presently engaged a discussion over breakfast.
The time that Seyoko had quietly dreaded - the one she had procrastinated the previous night because of a phone call - had come.)
Lyn: (slowly) What?
Seyoko: You heard me - Unit One.
(The Sixth Child stares hard at his guardian, seated opposite, almost as if he might see through to the punchline of a tasteless joke. Okazaki does not crack; her expression remains deadpan, her demeanor serious as she returns his gaze levelly.)
Lyn: Unit One.
Seyoko: (nodding) ..
Lyn: So run this by me again... I'll be piloting Unit One.. Shinji can't and this makes me the backup because..?
Seyoko: (looking tired) Because you're the only active pilot without an operating Eva - Shinji and Asuka are undergoing treatment in the Geo-Front, and Unit Two is off limits until-
Lyn: (interrupting, worriedly) They're sick?
Seyoko: Something to do with a piloting related illness - that's all they told me.
(As Lyn opens his mouth to voice another question, Seyoko interrupts, her voice harsh.)
Seyoko: (firmly) I don't have the authority to know anything more - and neither do you.
(Lyn stops at this, and grimaces.)
Lyn: (making a face) I knew something was wrong.. Shinji and Asuka were acting so.. weirdly.. these last few days. And they haven't been at school recently.
Lyn: Was it their Eva's? You said 'a pilot related illness' - did this happen to them because they've been piloting for a long time? Could it happen to me? Or Aoi?
Seyoko: (looking away) .. er.. I don't think so..
(The English boy chooses a succinct response, direct from his homeland.)
(Silence reigns for a brief moment before the Lieutenant gives into her frustration, unable to provide the real answers to the child's simple questions - angry at herself, also, for not pressing for the same details from Chairperson Ibuki on the phone the night past. It occurs to Seyoko that she has been so caught up of late, so focussed on investigating Aoi that she has inevitably neglected important details; the true reason for these orders being one of those things - the other neglected item the angry Sixth Child sitting opposite.)
Seyoko: (exasperated) I don't know, okay? All I know is what your orders are and I'm telling them to you now.
Lyn: (accusingly) You don't care though, do you?
Seyoko: Of course I care - its my job to make sure that you're as safe as possible for the activ-
Lyn: (interrupting) Yeah, keep the guinea pig safe when the Eva loses. I'm impressed.
(The boy looks away, his eyes smoldering as he lets his spoon thunk to the table. After a moment of deliberate pause, which Seyoko does not attempt to break, Lyn stands, pushing his chair away from the table, and stalks out of the kitchen without even offering parting words. Moments later there is a loud crash as his bedroom door slams shut.
Lyn has made his anger clear - that much is certain. If one were to look deeper they may see a different sort of sentiment hiding beneath.. fear. Lyn had been around too long and had seen too much of the Evangelions - particularly the madness of his own traitorous Eva - to delude himself about EVA-01. Only an idiot would fail to piece together the puzzle that lay before them.. the side-effects of Rei's piloting experience.. Asuka's theft of Unit 01 previously.. and now, the strange sickness that had befallen his compatriots.
Anger? Certainly - it was helpless, terrified anger. The thrashing of the prey as it is pushed into a cage, knowing all the while that a predator waited within to devour him.
Even the rumors spoke clearly: it was a demon. Evangelion Unit 01.)
(Seyoko sits motionless, shocked into immobility at the sudden turn in the conversation and the young man's abrupt departure. Across from her, the Sixth Child's unfinished meal - cereal - grows soggy in its bowl of milk. An insect, native to the warm post-Impact climate of Tokyo-3, flies in through the still-open door and begins to partake of the unattended feast.
Eventually the Lieutenant lets her head droop, thumping her forehead gently against the tabletop, and in a muted tone grumbles about this latest development..)
Seyoko: (bitterly) Damn it.. why am I suddenly the bad guy?
(The sun rises fully into the sky as we step away from the Anouilh apartment, moving slowly through the city of
The middle of the day does not find the Chairperson ready to meet her visitor; in fact, it is a small white-haired boy with golden eyes who answers the door and promptly greets the teenage girl in his usual enthusiastic manner. Tenkei is, as always, happy to see his mother - something that Rei had become, at least in the eyes of her "son".
Ibuki is a different matter; after returning home from a late night - or perhaps that should be early morning's work deep in the Geo-Front, the former Lieutenant has attempted to snatch a few hours rest at home. Arriving while the Sixth Child argued with his guardian, Maya had barely made it to her couch before succumbing to sleep, let alone the soft bed in her room.
Maya tosses and turns on the couch, her mouth slack, releasing a deep breath as she shifts again in her uncomfortable position. It seems the woman is troubled by some dream - perhaps memories of the room she had been working in, perhaps some nightmare of her own invention. Whatever the case may be, it is a sight that causes both children to stop before the occupied couch.
Rei looks down at the thin figure of the sleeping Project-E Chairperson. Her red eyes give no sign as to her thoughts; however, the boy at her side seems ready, as always, to answer her unspoken question.)
Tenkei: She doesn't snore.
(Rei manages, against all expectations, to look slightly embarrassed.)
(Tenkei, however, is not a mischievous child; leaving his mother's side he steps up to the couch and gently shakes Ibuki's shoulder, causing her to rouse. Maya opens her eyes, sluggishly propping herself up on one elbow.)
Maya: (sleepily) ..Tenkei?
(The boy nods.)
Tenkei: Rei is here.
(Maya sits up on the couch; she is still wearing her NERV uniform, having stopped only long enough to drop her keys and kick off her shoes before falling asleep - passing out, actually - on the welcoming chair.
Looking down, Ibuki checks her watch - one accessory she had neglected to cast aside before falling asleep. The digital display reads 10:14 AM.)
(Rei Ayanami stands somewhat behind the white-haired Ev.N. Complement - almost on the other side of the room. She holds in both hands a round-brimmed hat, one that she had apparently brought with her this morning. Maya looks up from her watch, suddenly noticing the First Child's presence.)
Maya: Oh! Hi, Rei - did Tenkei let you in?
Rei: (nodding) ..
Tenkei: We would like to go for a walk - Rei said we should tell you before we leave.
Maya: That's good - (yawning) - as long as you stay in sight of the security teams, it'll be alright.
(Tenkei nods and returns to Rei's side, happy at being allowed out of the apartment. Rei bends forward slightly, settling the hat in her hands atop the boy's head, patting it over his pale hair.)
Rei: (looking over) The sun burns him easily.
(The hat is far too big for the boy - yet obstinately, locks of his white hair poke out from underneath. It is hardly a fashion statement. The boy could almost pass for someone plucked straight from the American
Maya smiles, belatedly realising just what it is she is seeing - Rei, displaying some parental awareness. She had come prepared, hat for the child, aware of the dangers of the sun. Somewhere in the madness of the past two or three months, since the two had bonded, Rei had slowly developed, quietly growing - not without the expected "growth spurts", of course - and now, before her, was a young woman struggling with responsibility for a child: at times failing, but certainly trying.)
Maya: (smiling) Hope you have a nice time.
(The two children, Rei and Tenkei, head for the door. Maya sinks back into the couch, a smile still on her face as she lets her eyes close. Stretching out, she listens carefully for the familiar sound of the door sliding open, then hissing shut. As the pair leave in a rush of warm air from the outside, Maya hears the sound of distant traffic as the two begin their journey.
The children have spent frequent time together, though most often this time is spent in the park, or Rei's apartment. The security teams have had to adapt to many changed plans - more often than not, the First Child and her companion have had unaccountably large numbers of security agents on their trail..
For Maya, sleep continues to beckon, like a weight on her shoulders. The woman has had little these past few days, spending many nights like the one past running scenarios through the Magi computer systems - possible recovery operations for the lost children.
Sleep will not come easily - nor will it be particularly enjoyable.
Even as she rests, Maya's work stays with her. Possible new methods, chemicals that might help protect the fragile cells during reconstruction, other ways to study the degeneration on a finer scale.. her mind continues turning the possibilities, plagued as she is by responsibilities - tasks she may not be succeeding at - but, like Rei, she was certainly trying.
Maya forces herself upright, her brief pleasure vanishing as she gropes about for her discarded keys and shoes.
Sleep may beckon, but the work must continue.)
Maya: (muttering) I'll just grab a coffee on the way..
(Still later in the city of Tokyo-3, the onset of night finds a very special apartment still empty. The solitary sound of Pen Pen's webbed feet slapping down the corridor only serves to contrast the lack of sound - the lack of life - in Misato's Katsuragi's home.
The woman herself is seated on the couch in the living room, a report folder held loosely in one hand. The woman is doing her best to concentrate on the matter at hand, as impossible as it seems.)
Misato: (reading) ..
Evangelion Unit 00 - on standby by 1:30 PM, pilot Rei Ayanami, First Child.
(One of many "precautions" being taken for the coming activation. As she reads, the Major sees many things that she would have ordered herself. Seyoko's requests, filed to her superior as commanded, are very thorough.
Given Unit 01's spotty record - the unofficial one, that is - Misato is certain that all of the Lieutenant's requests will be followed as orders.)
Misato: (reading) ..
It is my recommendation that the contingency system be disengaged for this activation, as any instability can be attributed to the Eva as opposed to a battle-tested pilot.
(The contingency system - something that Misato had been uncomfortable telling any of pilots about. Even if it was a practical and necessary precaution, it felt, to Misato, like a judgement upon themselves.
High explosive charges set in the entry plug, allowing a remote detonation - allowing the death of the pilot, if they prove 'unstable'..
..if, like the Fifth Child, they are revealed as an Angel. The proverbial Sword of Damocles - the string of which could cut at any time on command.)
Misato: (reading) ..
(Misato knows that Seyoko's fears are no longer justified; in the past, Ritsuko Akagi had, against everything Misato thought she had known about her, ordered the use of the contingency. But her successor, Maya Ibuki.. Misato privately held doubts that the former technician would even consider installing it for the activation. This request should pass easily enough.
Then, Misato had thought she had known Ritsuko well enough.)
Misato: (reading) ..
(Tiring finally of the tedious paperwork, Misato rises, letting the folder fall to the coffee table beside the couch.
In more normal times, Misato would at this point have made a beeline for the refrigerator - a beer would be drunk out of habit rather than out of any real need. This time is not normal, and as the woman's hand automatically reaches for the 'fridge door she pauses.
Alcohol isn't what she needs right now - not until things get back to the way they were. Maybe, the woman decides, not even then.)
(.. if things get back the way they were .. the thought reverberates through Katsuragi's mind..)
-(flashback)- The sound of padding feet.. Shinji and Asuka enter the kitchen simultaneously. The third child scratches his head slightly; both he and the girl look tired, touched with sleep not fully shaken off, but not unhappy. Not discontent.
-(flashback)- Instead, a strange feeling is about the two children; a lack of bickering, a lack of casual chatter.. a lack of anything. Just silence, that never needed to be broken.
(The signs had been there for so long; Misato closes her eyes as she wonders how she had ever managed to miss them.)
-(flashback)- Wordlessly Asuka turns, heading for the bathroom while Shinji prepares breakfast - for two. Not a romantic breakfast, not a habit, but something she had simply asked him to do; asked of Shinji in a way that Misato could never have heard.
-(flashback)- Now with a crutch under one leg, Asuka looks away, her eyes lowered as she begins to limp out of the Central Dogma control room. Misato remains, observing the operation for now while Lyn Anouilh pilots EVA-02; "her" Unit 02.
-(flashback)-Asuka: What does it matter? You'd do it whether I agreed or not.
-(flashback)-Misato: (thinking) She sounds like Shinji..
-(flashback)- Shinji, standing by the fridge, looking at Misato with a strange expression - teasing as he pokes fun at his roommate, something he didn't normally do; didn't ever do. It was something more like Misato - or like Asuka.
-(flashback)-Shinji: A boyfriend coming over?
-(flashback)- The two children, studying at night - one turns a page for the other, and again, no words are spoken.
(There had been so much, but she had noticed it far too late.
Misato rubs her face with her hands, trying to push some of the tiredness away as she heads for her room - and meets the ever-present warm water penguin in the corridor.
In the past week, the bird had been acting.. strangely. Not able to fully understand the implications of the children's absence, the small creature has been aware of how the apartment is suddenly more roomy - and much, much more quiet.
Misato's only remaining roommate now looks up at the woman questioningly.)
Pen Pen: (curiously) Quaaaa?
(On impulse, Misato kneels down and gathers the penguin up in her arms, hugging him tightly. Pen Pen manages to croak out a fitful sound before he is caught up in a hug that he has no control over.)
Pen Pen: (hoarse) Qu...
(The creature kicks its stubby feet and flaps its wings helplessly, struggling for a while before surrendering to the warm embrace of Misato's jacket. Resigned, ironically enough, to being treated like a pet, the penguin falls silent until, after a lengthy cuddle, Misato places the final remaining member of her 'family' back on the floor.
Granted freedom, the stubby bird scuttles away on his webbed feet. The momentary contact was comforting, if only serving to remind her of the absence in the apartment.
Misato Katsuragi shakes her head, standing from where she had knelt, and turns to her bedroom, which also doubles as her office-at-home. There is much work to be done in preparation, and the "newcomer"
The Major returns to her work, as much to bury herself away from her thoughts as to fulfill her duties. Forcing herself to concentrate, Misato begins to pick through Seyoko's report anew.)