Neon Genesis Evangelion
EVA-R Prime Extension
Additional Scenes By Michael Turek
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
This fan-fiction is intended to continue the story begun in the above episodes.
House of Cards
The events in this story follow on directly from Episode 06, Thanks For Caring.
(The sound of footsteps ghosts down the corridor, the faintest of the echos lost in the ever-present hum of fluorescent lighting. The sound of sole against floor is a scraping sound, a faint scuff of cheap sneakers every few uncertain steps.
Tenkei glances up at the surveilance camera that scans the room, hanging from a mount in the corner of the ceiling. Yellow eyes narrow slightly, then relax - whether the lens of the camera sees him or not is unimportant. The boy is not here, in the depths of the Geo-Front, to hide.)
(He continues, walking unerringly forward beneath the humming light fittings that illuminate the length of the corridor. Eventually he reaches the end - the passagway finishing with a solid-looking door of steel. With no hinges and no handle, there appears no way to open it. The only hint to the secrets within is the plastic keypad, set next to a card slot just to one side of the door - the security hinting at the importance of whatever lies beyond the door.
Tenkei stops, staring at the soft glow as if transfixed. The security system is a far greater obsticle than he had expected at this early stage.)
(He steps up to the card slot, gently resting his head against the cold metal surface. Closing his eyes, he begins to concentrate.)
Seyoko: (calling out) Sir!
Seyoko: (calling out) Commander Fuyutsuki!
(The aged man turns, looking back up the escalator. At the top is Lieutenant Seyoko Okazaki, who, once certain she has the Vice-Commander's attention, makes her way hurriedly down the moving stairway, a bulging folder tucked carefully under one arm. She has been lucky enough to catch Fuyutsuki just as he arrived at NERV for the day - in fact, on the escalator that begins the long descent into the Geo-Front. Around them the 'room' - such as it were - is vast, dropping away into the depths, the structures below made hazy and indistinct by the great distance.
Fuyutsuki has plenty of time to wait - the woman at the top of the escalator is nearly thirty metres behind him. By the time she catches up, the Vice-Commander is well on his way to a morning's work and his response comes slowly. His tone is one of a man with many things already on his mind.)
Fuyutsuki: (absently) Leiutenant?
Seyoko: Good morning Sir. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions of mine.
Fuyutsuki: (noncommital) Mmm hmm?
Seyoko: It's about the seventh child.
Fuyutsuki: Aoi Tamashii?
Seyoko: Yes Sir. Actually, it's about all of them (taps her folder) and about Marduke.
(Fuyutsuki pauses, inwardly suspicious. The nature of the woman's query focuses directly on an region of NERV's official capacity that Fuyutsuki himself would rather ignore. The escalator descends a few more metres before he cautiously proceeds.)
Fuyutsuki: What is there to tell? Marduke was established to assist selection of Eva pilots. Quite heavy reading for a Sunday, Lieutenant.
Seyoko: You are the organization's President, aren't you Sir?
Fuyutsuki: Yes, I am.
Seyoko: Well, (hesitates) Tamashii's selection as a pilot has raised a few - questions that I'd like to get answers for. The criteria for pilots, for example? Just what is involved?
Fuytusuki: (smiles to himself) Selection criteria?
(The man shakes his head. By now, Fuyutsuki and Okazaki have reached the bottom of the escalator; the next phase of the descent, a high-speed lift, opens before them. As they step inside, the Vice-Commander continues.)
Fuyutsuki: Pilot data isn't my department. The candidate lists come through the sub-organizations, and selection and elimination of individual cases are dealt with by the regional branches.
(The doors of the lift close, and with a slight shift under them, the elevator begins to sink into the complex.)
Seyoko: So these branches deal with actual cases. But didn't you personally recommend -
Fuyutsuki: (interrupting) You should really contact the Japanese branch of the Institute. They'll be able to give you all the answers you need - it's been some time since the board drew up the process, you realise.
(His firm tone, coupled with the slight smile on his face, speaks louder than words: You are wasting your time here - go and bug somebody else.)
Seyoko: (catching on) You're probably right Sir. Thank you.
(The conversation exhausted, the two passengers remain silent for the rest of the descent - only the clicking of the depth marker interrupts the hum of the elevator's machinery.
Then, the descent completed, the doors open, allowing Fuyutsuki and Seyoko to enter the Geo-Front complex - NERV central.
As Seyoko strides purposefully down the corridor that leads towards Central Dogma, Fuyutsuki turns away into another passageway, walking calmly until the sound of the Lieutenant's footfalls have faded into echoes.
Without expression, he reaches into a vest pocket, producing his cellular phone.)
Fuyutsuki: (dialing) ..
Fuyutsuki: (to phone) Marduke, Japanese branch.
(The operator takes a moment to transfer the call. When he is linked, an automatic messaging system engages. After listening to the recording for a moment, Fuyutsuki hangs up, closing his cellular and slipping it back into his pocket.
He allows himself a small smile, again certain that the Marduke institute is working exactly as it should be - and resigns to the fact that he will be 'unavailable' for the next few days.)
(The electronic lock contains a maze. A maze of eletrical signals, a web of fibres and silicon pathways behind the steel and plastic of the door. Tenkei's mind, as extraodrinary as it is, cannot yet understand the depths of the computer system that the lock is connected to.
But he finds a way to bypass it. The lock, although mechanical, has a simple purpose - once operated, it cuts the electromagnetic seals that hold the barrier in place, and operates the motor that opens the door. No matter how complicated the lock, the simple system that physically holds the door closed is operated on only a few electrical currents.
This, instead, presents a relatively simple puzzle - one that Tenkei has no difficulty with.)
Tenkei: (small smile) ..
(A haze forms in the air around the child as his AT field unfolds, reaching through the wall and gently touching the power systems. It is not the nearly-impenetrable barrier that the Evangelions produces, but instead the gentle touch of Tenkei's mind - the light of his soul, a manifestation of willpower, the power his mind commands.
Where in the giant Evangelions, the AT field is little more than a protective field, Tenkei has learned - and demonstrated - abilities that the Eva pilots themselves are just beginning to touch upon; using his AT field to bring about his will. In this case, his will is resolute: magnetic seals shut down and with a hiss of freed air, the door begins to slide open. The faint whirring of an electric motor is heard as the foot-thick barrier swings wide before the child.
The effort shows on the boy's face - Tenkei sighs, stepping back from the doorway, pressing the palm of one hand to the wall to steady himself.
But this is what he has been looking for.
Its presence has floated on the edge of his awareness for days. It is almost impossible to describe the sensations he has felt - the normal human senses do not encompass AT fields. But Tenkei has felt it.
A normal person might hear a strange noise, perhaps a sound that was out of place. A normal person might detect an unusual scent, like a gas leak, and move to investigate if the strange odor persisted.
Tenkei, as any curious human being would do if they could 'smell' what he has for the past few days, is investigating.)
(A new presence, a new AT field has touched on his mind; and upon Rei's. His surrogate mother is only slightly less sensitive to such things - but unfortunately is far less skilled at misleading security officers. It has been the boy's task to investigate the fledgeling awareness, to answer the quiet call that has been beckoning - no, begging him to come to this place. It is a new creature, a foreign mind..
.. yet at the same time, a set of thoughts familiar to him.. and far more familiar to his mother.)
(Stepping through the door, he finds himself in the observation room of the Adytum chamber. Before him are the main control consoles, unmanned at this early hour, set-up before a thick, plexiglass veiwscreen. A vacuum-sealed blast door is the only way from the observation room into the chamber beyond.
And in that chamber is the object of his search.)
(It hangs, seemingly limp in it's restraints, a huge and awkward figure. Although most of it's massive form is hidden in shadow, Tenkei can easily tell that the creature is not the shape of an Evangelion, but instead is taller, bulkier, heavier in its design.)
(A look of regret crosses his face; he is almost too late. The new 'Test-Type' is unresponsive. The faint brush he has felt from its AT field is weak, almost inperceptible. Had he known it was fading this fast he would have come sooner..
The boy lays a gentle hand on the plexiglass divider, eyes fixed on the giant form on the other side. Although deactivated, its presence can still be felt, and although it is a very new awareness, a new creation, Tenkei senses that it is nearing the end of its short life. As if reflecting the two that have been impressioned upon it - or imprisoned within it - the Test-Type is inexorably suffering, steadily weakening, and has now begun the final descent to oblivion.
Wordlessly, the Ev.N complement bows his head, signalling his sorrow before turning and walking slowly from the laboratory.
Nothing more can be done.)
Voice: (speakers) Evangelion Units Zero, One and Two will be activated at ten hundred hours. All relevant personal are to report in. The interior testing zone must be cleared by zero nine thirty.
(The message repeats over the loudspeakers of Central Dogma as we see the command crew already assembled for the upcoming activation. Hyuga and Shigeru man the consoles as Maya Ibuki looks on. Misato, ready to perform her duties as the head of operations, also waits for the Evangelions to be readied.
Also, standing beside Maya Ibuki's old console, is Tenkei. The complement's presence causes some discomfort to the rest of the crew, but they persist in their work. It was on Maya's insistence that he be present, and her word as Chairperson of E-project is enough.
Meanwhile, in the Eva storage cage, two of the pilots step out onto the loading gantry. The first of the two wears a familiar red plugsuit, and the second an equally familiar blue and white version.)
Asuka: (hands on hips) Well Shinji, here we are. And what's great is that there's no Touji.
Shinji: (exhausted) Asuka, please stop talking about Touji..
(The voice of the third child is heavy and tired - it is obvious that Asuka has been very busy commenting on the events of the previous day; events which Asuka has already labelled "The Touji Incident".
Asuka's persistence in reminding Shinji of the flaws of Touji Suzahara - on the way home, during dinner, through Shinji's bedroom door, and on the way to NERV central this morning - has done nothing but expand the headache that Shinji now feels thudding within his skull. The pressure is insistant; not enough for actual pain, but signifigant enough to not be ignored. Shinji presses his fingers to his temple, enduring both his headache and Asuka's company in silence. Asuka, of course, continues ranting.
High above them, a huge, rail-mounted mechanical arm carries a control seat to a waiting entry plug. From their vantage point, Shinji and Asuka can make out the blue hair and white plugsuit of the occupant. Rei is carried across the ceiling of the vast chamber to the entry plug of Unit 00. The girl's seat disappears into the long white cylinder and the hatch closes behind her.)
Shinji: (wearily) You've been going on about it since last night - can you give a rest?
Asuka: Geez! Alright! If you were so annoyed by it, why didn't you just tell me?!
Shinji: Well I thought I did..
Shigeru: (loudspeaker) Units One and Two are ready for the next stage.
Hyuga: The fourth and seventh cages are cleared of coolant - the sixth is thirty percent from completion.
(The armoured head of Unit 01 leans forwards as its heavy back plates slide apart, revealing the opening of the entry canal. In the 'cage' beside the purple giant, the level of coolant fluids that bathe the dormant form of Unit 02 sinks. The Evas are only moments away from activation.
As the process is being overseen, Misato, who waits in the cage control room, turns to Maya Ibuki, posing a question that has been bothering her for a few days.)
Misato: Lieutenant Ibuki?
Maya: (looking at readouts) Yes Ma'm?
Misato: What is the status of the new Unit, Lieutenant?
(The younger woman pauses - Misato's use of Maya's rank and bluntness of her question speaks louder than the words themselves - the Major wants answers.)
Misato: Am I to believe that it will be designated Unit Seven?
Maya: No Ma'm. Complications have.. arisen in the Test-Type's operation.
Misato: What about the tests a few days ago - I thought that they showed positive results.
Maya: They did, but from everything I can tell.. the ultimate fate of the Unit had been decided before those tests took place.
Misato: Then it won't see active service?
Maya: (quietly) It probably won't see the light of day. We might be able to salvage it for spare parts, but otherwise..
(Misato nods, turning to the screen, giving Maya the time to prepare her team as Katsuragi returns to studying the alternating images of the internal test chambers.)
Misato: (to herself) So it was just a flash in the pan..
Shigeru: (from console) The entry plugs are being inserted.
(At the sound of the operator's voice, Maya seems to rouse, stirring from the strange feeling of regret that had crept into her as she had spoken about the Test-Type. Misato frowns, noticing the slight change, almost as if the Project-E chairperson was pondering something, in some way uncomfortable with her situation and the now-revealed fate of the 'new' Evangelion.)
Maya: (firmly) Let's get started.
Hyuga: Coolant has been drained. Inserting plugs, zero through two.
(In the cage, where the Eva Units wait in their restraints, gears stir. The entry plugs smoothly screw into their canals and a hum is heard from the power systems as the voltage slowly rises.
As the control room staff watch the monitors carefully, Misato finds herself watching something else with a hawk-like interest; the still-silent Maya, whose expression remains bland, focused on her work. Eventually the Major decides to simply speak her mind, starting with a seemingly innocuous question.)
Misato: Will they be doing anything new today?
Maya: No, just some of the exercises that we were trying with the sixth child - see if they can recognise each other's fields at a distance. That should be it.
(Misato pauses, taking a deep breath, then continues her line of thought.)
Misato: (pausing) Maya?
Misato: I'm worried about the children - Shinji and Asuka.
(Ibuki looks up sharply at the Major's words, but is unable to tell anything from the woman's expression - Misato merely stares out at the main viewscreen blandly.)
Maya: What do you mean?
(The senior officer continues staring at the viewscreen, her face blank but her voice low to avoid attracting the attention of the other crewmembers in the control room.)
Misato: They haven't been acting like themselves recently.
(Maya frowns slightly and does her best to cover a response by shuffling the papers on her clipboard. She passes the board from one hand to the other, moving slightly closer to Misato in the process, leaning in to respond in kind.)
Maya: (checking folder) And you think..?
Misato: I think it had something to do with the.. contact, I think it's been called.
Misato: But it's more than that - it's gotten worse recently. Shinji had a headache this morning..
Maya: (thoughtfully) And?
Misato: There have been other things..
Maya: (interrupting gently) Major.
Maya: They're a boy and girl.. around the same age..
Misato: (shaking head) Maya..
Maya: (continuing) ..they've got things in common.. and they're living under the same roof..
(Misato turns from her vigil abruptly, casting a serious gaze at her younger colleague. Maya realises that the Major has been pondering these events for some while - that this is not just a woman speaking of the actions of a previous night.
And what is more, Katsuragi is watching Maya closely, judging her cautiously, trying to gauge which side of the 'fence' Maya is on.)
Misato: I know what you're thinking, but I don't think that's it. They've gotten closer, but not in that way.
Maya: So in what way have they gotten closer?
Misato: It's as if..
Misato: They don't speak - not about.. normal things, everyday actions. It's as if they don't need to - as if..
Misato: I've seen them do things together - without discussing it.. every morning it's like..
(Katsuragi breaks off, abruptly nervous, unsure how to put into words the strange feeling that has pervaded her apartment for the past few days. Things have not seemed right, and lately no quantity of beer has quite been able to dispel the early morning silence that has settled around the house. It is not a sombre silence, in fact, the pilots in her care have appeared to be, if anything, more cheerful than usual. It is this cheerfulness, the strange familiarity and acceptance between the two children that has unsettled Misato.
It has worried her to the point where she now tries to speak her fears to the chairperson, dispite not having any tangible evidence.)
Maya: How can I help..?
Misato: If it has anything to do with the contact, then I would like you to look into it.
Misato: Other times when.. incidents have occured.. it hasn't been easy on the children.
(Maya sighs, looking away as if unwilling to voice agreement with Misato's concerns. Nothing could be further from the truth - having been witness to the painful contact between Rei and Tenkei, she knows what it is like to see those under your care feeling the pain of their 'duties'.
But there is some things Misato does not know - some things that the Project E chairperson cannot tell her... yet. Like her predecessor Ritsuko Akagi, Maya is under the control of another. While the control may not be as heart rending as it was with Akagi, Maya knows she is under his orders as surely as Akagi had followed hers.. right until the point Ritsuko became no longer useful.
The young, yet somehow shadowed woman casts her eyes around the control room grimly, making sure that everyone is paying diligent attention to their tasks. Almost automatically, she checks each of them in turn - Shigeru and Hyuga, the two console operators. Yuri, the young playful technician - almost a replacement for her, as she was once young and cheerful while Misato discussed serious matters with Doctor Akagi in this same situation.
At last, her eyes fall onto those ot Tenkei, who startlingly enough appears to stare straight back at her. He doesn't blink - his golden irises seem to bore into her conciousness, hacking at her reserves of strength and pushing brutally past her indicision and fear. In those eyes, she sees what drove her to turn a blind eye to Rei and Tenkei's escape - what drove her to risk her job by allowing them to flee. In those eyes she resolves to help Misato, to help Shinji and Asuka if she possibly can..
.. regardless of the orders of Commander Ikari.)
Maya: (quietly) I'll do my best..
Shigeru: (from console) All Units have activated.
Hyuga: (adding) There have been no problems detected in synchronizations. The Second and Third Children are both ready.
(With the Evangelions again active, the conversation ends as attention returns to the matter at hand.)
Maya: Move Unit One to the launchpad - send it to the testing zone.
(Evangelion Unit 01 is shunted up to the testing area - a clearing in the Geo-Front, a safe distance from the buildings that break the floor of the underground cavity. As the Eva pulls away from the shoulder restraints, Shinji, inside the plug, waits attentively for orders.)
Misato: (radio) Shinji.. how's the headache now?
(In the pilot's seat, young Ikari jumps slightly at the unexpected question. After a brief pause he answers, somewhat hesitantly..)
Shinji: Um.. better, thanks.. what do you want me to do?
Maya: (radio) Shinji, move out on the headings showing on your combat display. Get about two kilometres distance from your starting location.
(At the boy's command, Unit 01 strides away from the gantry, quickly covering the distance. Shinji is not surprised that controlling the Eva is as effortless as before.. almost as if he expected the strange headache to vanish as he synchronized with Unit 01.)
Shinji: Misato? What's this for?
Maya: (radio) We'll be continuing the AT field tests today. The other pilots are being directed to different locations in the Geo-Front.
Maya: (radio) We'll be testing your ability to detect Units Zero and Two, and to identify their AT field signitures.
Shinji: Uh.. okay. I'll try.
Maya: (radio) Shinji, I want you to do a forward sensory sweep.
(The third child remembers the early exercises - extensions of the first experiment performed less than a month before, the experiment that had nearly been disasterous. Shinji, however, pushes the memory away and focuses on the task. He closes his eyes and concentrates.
The air around the Eva twists and shimmers as the AT field unfolds. The distortion swells as the field expands, gathering strength for the feat ahead.)
Shinji: (opening eyes) Here goes..
(The sphere of force around Unit 01 slowly pushes forwads, stretching, as if a giant finger were slowly pushing out of the front of the field. Very gently Shinji exerts his will, spreading the barrier outwards - then suddenly a tunnel of distortion forth from the sphere, opening up in front of the Evangelion and rippling out into the landscape.
The manifestation of the field is almost invisible - a slight shimmer where the 'tunnel' forms, but Shinji is aware of its presence as surely as if it were a part of his body..
.. which, in a way, it is. The force, however, feels shaky this time - by the time the AT field is fully extended, he can feel the faint dampness of sweat forming along his brow and has to conciously unclench his jaw.)
Maya: (radio) Good work Shinji. Your field seems a little weaker since the last time, but it looks good enough.
Misato: (radio) Now, direct your field towards.. seventy-six degrees from zero. You will find one of the other Evas at that vector. Let us know which one you think it is, okay?
(Slowly, Shinji turns the Eva's massive body - the 'tunnel' shifts with him, sweeping across the surface of the Geo-Front. After a long, cautious turn, the AT field extension is left pointing roughly in the direction ordered, but drifting unsteadily from side to side, like a huge, shimmering snake, the heat-like shimmer in the air waving back and forth.)
Maya: (radio) Shinji, stabilize your field before it collapses.
(The boy frowns, his hands twitching on the butterfly controls as he forces his will upon the sensory tunnel. It shudders, then straightens, ceasing to drift as Shinji tightens his mental control over it, again having to clench his jaw in concentration.)
Misato: (radio) Now push the field forward until you touch another field.
(Again, Shinji begins to carefully push his field forwards..
..then a feeling, slipping, drifting, falling - a sharp stabbing pain in his mind..
..for a split second, the field becomes opaque, a jet-black tunnel floating in mid-air for all to see..
..and then shatters, the phase-space disintergrating into nothingness as the focus is lost.)
Shinji: (frustrated) Damn!
Misato: Don't worry, Shinji, just try it again.
(Again, Shinji unfolds his field, and again he pushes it forwards. This time the field remains intact, and he reaches out, searcing for a contact.
And he finds it, forcing out the words through a sore jaw, perspiration gleaming on his forehead from effort.)
Shinji: (tightly) I've found something..
Misato: Can you identify it?
(He closes his eyes, focusing all his attention on the distant contact. In his mind the shape of the foreign AT field slowly forms as he seeks anything that might identify it.
And then something touches the edge of his awareness - a smell. A familiar smell..)
Shinji: Rei.. it's Unit Zero, isn't it?
Misato: (radio) Good work Shinji. You can relax your field now - but keep it spread. The others will be repeating your exercise.
(Rei Ayanami rests in the entry plug of Unit 00, only barely aware of the dull hum of the Evangelion's instruments around her. The first child's eyes are closed, lids concealing the deep red irises as she concentrates on her unfolded AT field.
The reason for such concentration is not, at first, obvious. She has been simply told to come to this location and wait for orders; although she knows radio commands are being issued to another pilot, she does not know who or why - such is the nature of the exercise.
Her concentration is due to the faint awareness that has brushed against her - or more accurately, against her unfolded AT field. It feels like a faint pressure, similar to the way people unconciously rub shoulders in a tight corridor. Rei is not often found in tight corridors - being a solitary person by her very nature, the majority of her personal contact has been with the other Evangelion pilots. As such, she has gotten to know their 'shoulders' very well as they rubbed together time and time again in testing and combat.
This time, the 'shoulder' is familiar - she recognises it almost immediately as Ikari - the familiar feeling, the shape of his field, is unmistakable. At the same time she feels the trembling weakness of the touch, a strange lacking at the heart of the field, a weakness she tries to aid by unfolding her field further, adding her strength to his as subtly as she can. In response, the touch of the Third Child withdraws; Rei realises that he must have identified her - his part in the operation is at an end.
A minute passes in worried silence for the first child.)
Maya: (radio) Rei? Are you ready?
(The first child readies herself; like the others, she is already familiar with the exercise.)
Misato: (radio) Do it now.
(Rei obeys, spreading her field outwards, mimicking Shinji's actions. Her field expands, almost invisible but for a slight shimmering, then pushes forwads, reaching outward for a familiar contact. Unlike the pilot just moments ago, she no longer has any trouble controlling her projection - her AT field is, if anything, stronger than the previous exercises.)
Rei: I have located the Unit.
Misato: (radio) Who is it?
(Rei closes her eyes, her awareness flowing over the presence she has located. The shaky weakness is almost unmistakable; having felt it such a short time ago, Rei is certain.)
Rei: It is Ikari.
(There is a pause from Central Dogma.)
Maya: (radio) Um.. Rei - are you sure?
(Although she feels little need, Rei mentally reaches forth a second time, touching the distant Eva. Ghostly fingers work at the edges of the far-off presence; There is a flicker of thought, a brief memory. She is certain.)
Rei: Yes. It is Ikari.
(Another silence from Central Dogma as Misato and Maya discuss the results.)
Misato: Okay.. that's Right. We'd like you to concentrate your AT field between one hundred and sixty and two hundred degrees. Evangelion Unit 02 is between those two ranges - we'd like to see if you can find it.
(Rei shifts Unit 00's bulk about to face the new direction. Again, she raises her field, this time sweeping slowly back and forth, questing silently. It does not take her very long to brush against yet another familiar 'shoulder' - the presence of a pilot.)
Rei: I've located Unit Two..
(Although there can be little doubt, Rei performs her part faithfully, extending her senses to examine the foreign presence, trying to identify it. The first child frowns in her pilot's seat - an expression which makes Maya and Misato turn to stare at eachother in confusion, far away in the NERV control centre. The Evangelion's head dips forward, almost imitating its pilot's posture as Rei's brow furrows, the girl concentrating harder, confused by what her senses tell her.
This field - the presence - feels identical to the one she just touched. The same, shaky weakness is there - the same impressions, the same feeling of familiarity. It is impossible - but to Rei Ayanami, the two different Evangelions appear identical in their AT fields - as if the light of their souls had somehow become shared - a shared strength..
..or a shared weakness..)
Rei: (slowly) It - feels the same.
Maya: (radio - astonished) ... what?
(Back in the NERV Central Control Room, where over the radio the two officers question the first child, whose impassive face, visible on the screen before them, gives no answers.
Rei is not talking.
Fuyutsuki sinks slowly into his chair, watching as Maya and Misato ask Rei question after question; phrasing it this way, phrasing it that - but the First Child is certain in her analysis. They feel the same.. and she will not say otherwise.
The experiment is a failure. AT fields cannot be used as it was proposed once, long ago, by Doctor Ritsuko Akagi.
Or can they? Fuyutsuki frowns as he casts his gaze around the chamber, now dismissing the Major and Project E chairperson who discuss the unusual results of the latest test. All eyes turn as the Second Child, Asuka Langely Sohryu, steps foward in her crimson Evangelion - and her 'sensory sweep' goes off without a hitch.)
Misato: (relieved) There.
(Maya's face screws into a uncharacteristic scowl as she ponders the unusual results. Once the comm-link to the pilots is severed, the young scientist conferrs some more with the Major, and eventually moves towards Fuyutsuki, a question the man had anticipated already on her lips.)
Maya: Sub-Commander Fuyutsuki..
Fuyutsuki: (dryly) Yes, Chairperson?
(Maya almost flinches at the use of her official title. Despite being named the Project-E Chairperson some time ago, it is a title that Ibuki has not yet become fully comfortable with - she finds herself answering questions meant for other "Lieutenants" all too often. For a distracted moment she loses the thread of conversation, but sees Fuyutuski give a warm, slightly humored gaze.)
Fuyutsuki: What is it.. Lieutenant.
Maya: Sir, I'd like to ask pilot Ikari to remain at NERV after the Evangelions are returned... along with Rei Ayanami.
Fuyutsuki: For what reason?
Maya: I am.. concerned about their performance on the tests, Sir.
(Fuyutsuki lets out an almost imperceptible sigh. The Commander - Gendo Ikari - would not be pleased to hear that a pilot has been performing below the expected minimum. Glancing down, the man automatically notes the sensory readouts scrolling past on the console screen - and the tiny red square in the bottom right corner that indicates that these tests, like every other, is being faithfully recorded in the MAGI databanks for later review.
Fuyutsuki also knows something the others do not: that the Commander was at this moment viewing the same results, listening to the same conversation in his office with the aid of the recording devices in the Control Center. There would be nothing to discuss with him on this decision - if there had been, the phone in the top shelf would have already rung.
But Kozou Fuyutsuki had a responsiblity as the second in-command. That responsibility was, at present, to appear as though he was considering the Commander's reaction to such a request. He sighs again, emphasising it for the sake of appearance, and clears his throat.)
Fuyutsuki: Very well - but have the analysis of your findings on my desk as soon as possible.
Maya: Yes Sir.
(The young officer retreats, returning to the consoles where Misato speaks through the radio, directing the pilots to return their Evangelions to the cages - the day is over for the giant guardians of Tokyo-3.
Fuyutsuki pushes his chair back from the console, rising smoothly, brushing down his wrinkled slacks as he steps away from the displays which still glitter, full of complicated figures and analysis. Casting his gaze around, he ensures that everything is running smoothly, gaugeing the appropriate time at which he can leave to make his own report to the NERV Commander.
The day's results are of great interest indeed - for while Gendo Ikari would no doubt be disappointed in Rei's performance, the implication of the results would most likely please him greatly. For the first time, Kozou Fuyutsuki takes in the Control Room - a room of scientists and tactical staff devoted to the protection of Tokyo-3.. and wonders if he too is still one of them.
Tenkei is staring at him.
Fuyutuski starts; the Ev.N Complement stands expressionlessly beside Maya, his back turned, the two women seemingly ignorant of the child's fixed gaze. The Sub-Commander turns his head slightly - left, right - everyone in the Control Room is busy with their tasks; none notice the Sub-Commander as he makes ready to depart, and none notice the odd behaviour of the young boy that is present at Ibuki's consent.
Tenkei is staring at him.
The golden eyes seem fixed on him - boring into his mind, the total lack of any sort of expression on the boy's face haunting. At the same time, the lack of expression also brings a strange reassurance - for while the child is not outwardly pleased, nor does he appear especially angry.. it is as if he can see through the aged skin of the Sub-Commander - and somehow accepts what lies within; the darkness that haunts the man who has lived through Second Impact and the horror of the truth behind it.
A suddenly tired Fuyutsuki finds himself very grateful when the elevator doors slide shut, whisking him away from the NERV Control Center.)
Seyoko Okazaki has spent her time trying to follow Fuyutuski's advice - contacting Marduke. After her discovery that the primary branch of the institute has been disbanded, the only course of action available to her was to contact the secondary branch - in Germany.
After spending - wasting would be closer to the truth - a good hour waiting to speak to someone who understood Japanese, Seyoko was less than impressed to recieve the full treatment of what is called, in less than professional terms, the run around.)
Seyoko: (thinking) And they're not very good at it, either - or they're not trying..
Seyoko: (thinking) They've got to be hiding something.
(Opening the report that Misato had given her, she examines the leading documents carefully. On the page before her is a list of the Board of Directors - the voices that carry the weighty words of the organization. Or at least weighty enough to gain UN sponsorship. Seyoko begins to run through the names, starting with the most familiar ones - Kouzou Fuytsuki and Gendo Ikari.
Seyoko: (thinking) I can''t see Commanders Ikari or Fuyutsuki giving me a straight answer.
Seyoko: (thinking) Perhaps one of the other names.
(Her computer is still active from the previous night's work, the current page the same as the one at which she slept. It, too, is a list of the Board of Directors of the Marduke Institute.
Five names are on the screen before her; Gendo Ikari, Kouzou Fuyutsuki, Keel Lorenz, Takahashi Shouichi, and Chiba Kimio.)
Seyoko: (under her breath) The directors of an organization that is nothing but a bunch of answering machines..
(Yet these five names, the head people of the Marduke Institute, are the only people who can possibly have the answers to her questions.
Her eyes drop to the printout beside the keyboard, nothing more than a scrap of paper - a report discovered just the night before. It is all she has to show for a night's work, and yet, it is strangely valuable. The printout consists of nothing more than an address, a few significant dates - old references, nearly useless for all the high levels of security the woman had to breach in obtaining them - yet she is sure that contained within the references is some clue, some cryptic key for which she can unlock the puzzle that selected Aoi Tamashii as a pilot - and also for an answer for herself, for the sake of a boy she finds herself caring deeply for.)
GENDO IKARI - NERV
KOUZOU FUYUTSUKI - NERV (PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION)
(The two commanders of the organization that Seyoko now finds herself assigned to.)
Seyoko: (muttering) Not going to get anything from them..
KEEL LORENZ - HEAD OF INSTRUMENTALITY COMMITTEE
TAKAHASHI SHOUICHI - NERV BRANCH 01, GERMANY
CHIBA KIMIO - TOKYO-2 UNIVERSITY
Seyoko: One of these names, then..
Seyoko: (typing) Let's see.. most recent residences..
Seyoko: Shouichi is in Germany.. so is Lorenz..
Seyoko: That's a little out of my jurisdiction.. but Kimio lives in Tokyo-2.. lives close to his work.. I'll try him..
(She digs deeper, looking into the man's life. His address, phone number, birth certificate, residential history.. all a matter of public record, fortunately.. Seyoko grins ruefully, realising just how many old favours she used up in the previous night's investigative endeavour..)
Seyoko: (typing) Where is he now? What's he up to?
(Her efforts are rewarded by a discovery: a recent purchase, paid directly from Kimio's bank account - barely hours beforehand.)
Seyoko: (typing) He bought a train ticket? On his credit card?
(A finger comes down on the enter key with a stabbing motion - as the machine fetches the details of the public transport ticket, Seyoko quietly ponders her chance of catching up with someone who might be able to give her the information she desires..)
Seyoko: Where's he heading ?
The elevator's floor indicator clicked over with a remorsless and dull noise.. again.
New arrivals found the indicator unnerving - one or two particularly high strung techs had reported that the ticker had 'freaked them out'.. in fact, some of those employed at NERV have preffered to stick to the monorails that glide into the Geo-Front on cables that do not click.
But to anyone who was familiar with the Geo-Front, and in particular, these elevators, the sound was nothing more than background noise - on par with the dull hum of the flurescent light fittings, the distant sound of the elevator machinery and the need for keycard access as one penetrates deeper into the labyrinth of NERV Central.
For Evangelion pilots, the elevator served a special purpose - it was reassuring in its monotony. For this was the elevator taken by pilots as they left the Geo-Front; and such pilots were usually relieved that their duties were over as they rode this elevator, rising in near silence - save, of course, for the clicking - until the lift reached the surface.
Today, the lift holds two occupants: Rei Ayanami and Shinji Ikari. Having been held back by the Project-E Chairperson, Maya Ibuki, the two have been forced to sit through an extended synchronisation test and a series of examinations and readings both baffling and extremely embarrasing. Their reward was little more than a worried glance from the one-time technical assistant - in time, they were permitted to leave and now, by chance, ride the same elevator to the surface and their eventual return home.)
(Such deep and meaningful conversations are common on long elevator rides such as this one.)
(But the silence is even more common.)
(Rei Ayanami's crimson eyes are set upon the figure of Shinji Ikari, who is presently preocupied with an in-depth study of the inside of the elevator doors. Normally, the third child would have noticed and been intimidated by such attention some time ago - but this time it is the pilot of Unit 00 that is at a loss for words.
Rei is not known for her speaking ability - in fact, it would be easy for a stranger to assume that she is next to mute. But that would be incorrect - she merely does not feel the need to speak; rarely does she feel any urge to express her thoughts and feelings.
But it is those thoughts and feelings - the dreadful knowledge that lurks in her mind, the inescapable truth of the events that have made Shinji and Asuka's lives so bizarre of late - that are demanding to be voiced. The secret fears and worries, all clamouring for attention, well up inside of Rei, and she finds herself within metres of the target of communication, Shinji Ikari: the worries, the fears inside her clamoring to escape.
But at this critical hour, words fail..)
(The boy's head rises, but he doesn't turn. Instead, he waits for the girl to continue, eyes still fixed on the featureless inner panels of the elevator doors.)
Rei: .. Shinji.
(His name. His own name. As Rei utters the word, the boy turns - as if the simple mention of his name released something within, allowing him to a freedom, an acknowledgement..)
Shinji: (eyes wide) ..
(Using the same skill that has become second nature between him and Asuka, Shinji's mind instinctively reaches out, ghosting at the edges of Rei's awareness, touching the barriers that are set around the first child's mind - a mind that is closed to him.)
Rei: (stepping back) ..
(For an instant, the surface of Rei's mind, awash with the fearful concerns that have driven her to this meeting, is visible to Shinji.
And then the contact is gone.)
(Something tentatively brushes at the edges of his thoughts, a familiar presence.. not the same as before, this comes questioning, quietly..)
Shinji: (thinking) Not now!
(The Third Child pushes aside the intrusion, instead concentrating on Rei's face, as if the pressure of his gaze could somehow break the wall that she has placed about her mind.
At length, Rei speaks, and her words shake the boy out of his fixation..)
Rei: These things were not meant to be shared. Not this way.
Rei: If you continue with this..
Rei: ..it will kill you.
Shinji: Rei -
Rei: (seriously) It will destroy you - everything that is you.
(Shinji's expression becomes one of astonishment at the dark revelation. For a brief moment he looks shocked, then searches Rei's face for a moment, as if hoping against all hope that Rei is - for the first time in her life - playing some sort of absurd, humourless joke.
But Rei Ayanami has never been more serious..)
Rei: You, and the second child.
Rei: I heard you. Now.
Shinji: (shocked) ..!
Rei: It grows faster within you than her.
Shinji: (shocked) H..How do you know?
Rei: It was meant to be him. You and him. Or myself.
Shinji: What do you mean?
(The expression on Rei's face reveals nothing of her thoughts; only an expression of concern that is barely visible through Rei's normal impassive mask.)
Rei: (firmly) Ikari - stop this before it destroys you.
Shinji: Wait Rei, what did you mean, me and Tenkei?
Rei: This. what is happening to you.
Shinji: Then.. tell me..
Shinji: What is happening to us?
(The first child tilts her head slightly, the faintest of frowns briefly dancing over her forehead - an expression that a stranger would have missed.)
Shinji: (desperately) What is happening to us?
Rei: Then.. you don't know.
Shinji: (frustrated) No, I don't!
(The girl seems to consider this, then steps further away, as if separating herself from the child, as if realising that the boy does not even understand his condition when it is presented to him plainly.)
Rei: Then.. I can't help you..
Rei: You have to go home now, Pilot Ikari.
Rei: It will start to hurt again if you are not near her.
(With that, the elevator door opens - and Ayanami brushes past him, taking slow, calm steps as she steps from the lift into the NERV entry complex - one of many access points between the Geo-Front and the surface. Behind her, a very bewildered Shinji steps out from the elevator, but does not move to follow, his eyes fixed on the First Child's departing figure until she heads out into the street and turns. She vanishes from view, and her shadow, following her along the footpath, vanishes after.
A thousand thoughts race through the young pilot's mind. Things that Rei said - seeming so important, dispite the words being nearly nonsensical, their aspect as stray and disorganised as his whirling senses at the moment..
Then it hits him, like a blow, that Rei was communicating with him - though on a much more subtle level. She had been evaluating him - judging his strength, while at the same time trying to drive home a point.
Drive home a point..
Home a point..
(The boy steps - almost staggering - from the lift and and begins the brief walk to the train station. The conversation quickly fades in his memory - almost as if it was never meant to remain. Instead, the Third Child finds himself driven by a new urge - an urge that comes across him in a flash, the flash of a memory, a memory that had been touched upon by Rei in some strange way during their 'conversation' in the lift just moments before. Shinji frowns, picking up his pace has he recalls the events that Rei's words have somehow stirred into his mind.. a few words shared after the AT field tests..)
-(flashback)- Shinji: (softly) Asuka, the Lieutenant asked me to stay back for some more tests..
-(flashback)- Asuka: ..
-(flashback)- Shinji: ..
-(flashback)- Asuka: (softly) Get home soon, Shinji..
(Shinji remembers, clearly now, the strange look on her face as the Second Child turned and left - this time looking deeper, past the obvious implication of "I miss you" - and beyond to the deeper, physical pain which he now realises as familiar - separation anxiety, felt as recently as the headache this morning. The boy's gaze drops to his feet, unsure exactly how to quantify the feeling these words had raised - and unwilling to face their implication. With a slight shock, he finds himself staring, his shoes stilled on the pavement, and abruptly realises that quite some time has passed in contemplation.
The streets feel darker somehow, more oppressive.. perhaps it is a trick of the afternoon light, or perhaps not, but it is a worried Shinji Ikari that hurries the remaining distance to the train station only to discover that he has missed his ride.
It is a fifteen minute wait for the next train - but in his current state it is far too long for the boy. He paces; walking from one side of the platform to the other, he anxiously eyes the train signals, occasionally stepping over the safety line to peer down the track just in case the train is approaching without the notification of the announcement speakers.
Every minute he waits, the lighting of the station seems less and less sufficient.
Every moment the train is delayed, the shadows grow longer, seeming to rise from the floor, standing on thin, insect legs.. the low moan of wind through the deserted station giving them all the life Shinji's imagination could dream them to have. At the edge of the light, the darkness of the looming night slowly begins to crawl forwards.
The shadows seem to flow between the concrete pillars, avoiding the luminescence of the overhead lights, gathering in the dark corners, almost with an intelligence.)
Shinji: (looking around cautiously) ..
(The lights are no longer as bright as they used to be - not bright enough to push the darkness back.
The air slowly grows colder - or perhaps it is just the prickle of fear running up the boy's back that makes him shiver. The seconds slowly tick by, each passing moment dragging out in the cold, dark, loneliness of the platform.
He doesn't even hear the train pull in. Instead, it is the interior lights of the cabins that alerts Shinji to the arrival of his ride home. The doors opens swiftly, almost silently, beckoning the boy into the warm, well-lit interiors, safe from the darkness.
Walking quickly, his head down, Shinji takes five quick steps that carry him off the platform and on to the train. Without looking back at the darkness left behind, the third child heads to the back of the cabin, cautious to not make eye contact with the faceless men and women already sitting.
He finds a seat near the back and scrunches into it as a soft chime sounds. With a faint lurching sensation, the cabin shifts forwads. The train picks up speed, pulling away from the station as quickly as it arrived.
Although there are quite a few people in this train car, Shinji Ikari feels no more comfortable than he did on the platform. By the time the arrival at his stop is called, the frightened youth is very grateful to be off the train; at some point in the journey it had become a moving box of shadows, filled with dim figures and eerie voices that now seem strange and inhuman..
He steps out the door, brushing against another passenger that is stepping onto the train. Shinji keeps his head down, not hearing the brief mutter of apology from the man.)
-(flashback)- Rei: It will start to hurt again if you are not near her.
-(flashback)- Asuka: (softly) Hurry home, Shinji..
(But Shinji now knows that the pain is only a small part of it.
He turns and begins to run. As he sprints, his mind is empty - barren of the usual mundane thoughts, bare of the contemplations of school and NERV. His feet move of their own accord - not following the all too familiar route home, but instead guiding themsevles, carrying his body as if drawn by a beacon - by the distant presence that he now knows as the only person to stave off the fear and pain..
As he flees down the street, the shadows - nothing more than symptoms of his own illness - emerge from the darkness between buildings to mock his fate..
As the pain builds in his chest, the sudden intense, hacking cough cutting his run down to a walk, then walk to a stagger - and stagger finally to a halting collapse to his knees on the pavement.. the dim shapes gather around, laughing and pointing, watching as the Third Child surrenders, struggling, to the darkness..)
Shinji: (gasping) Asuka.. help..
(The pavement rushes up to meet him..)
(At the Control Centre that Shinji and Rei so recently left behind, Maya Ibuki's worried frown has developed into something much more troubled.
The Adytum - named after the traditional 'temple of the initiates' - is presently occupied a clutter of tense technicians and scrambling staff. Ibuki herself has shed any thought of slow, relaxed movement some time ago - and is currently engaged in a headlong sprint down the corridor entering the chamber, shouting the moment she enters the room.)
Maya: (shouting) Is the third child's new RAM sample transmitting?
Technician: Yes Ma'm!
(The Project-E Chairperson hurries over to a set of consoles, scanning the readouts with her weary but alert eyes. Dispite having kept Ikari back for a second RAM sample, it appears to be contributing little - if anything - to the resolution of the problem before her. The crew is on the verge of panic, faced as they are with this new dilemma - the technicians struggle to man the stations around the room, hastening their relay of precious data back to the console operators as Ibuki struggles with the treatment of the Test-Type Eva, half hidden in shadow in it's restraints on the far wall.
It is a losing battle - and everyone knows it.)
Maya: Cease transmitting! Split the signal from Second Child's RAM and send it through both entry plugs! (to herself) Maybe that'll help..
(Truth be told, the battle was a lost one several days ago - the outcome was simply less clear at the time. Ibuki, like many other staff, had originally thought that the Evangelion would remain salvageable for as long as necessary, frozen in a state of failed activation - but now any hope of salvage appears long gone.
Maya looks up at the Test-Type. The creature itself, in the throes of decay, looms above the room, a dark shape punctured with supporting cables and life-sustaning tubing. Freed of the obstructing primary restraints to allow treatment to the excessive sores and wounds which seem to form just beneath its skin, the twisted shape is still not so far gone as for its original genome to be recognised.
The new Test-Type, Evangelion Unit 07, the first - and presumably only - experiment in a dual entry plug system - is now clearly revealed; its heritage - it's 'parent' - easily recognisable as that of the Seventh Angel, Israfel.)
Technician: (calling from terminal) Ma'm! The stress on the right arm is increasing! Factor of three point five!
Maya: (to herself) Damn it.. (shouting) Is Asuka's RAM transmitting yet?
Technician: (desperately) We've just initiated the signal! No effect!
(Behind the frantically struggling workers, a new presence makes itself known, leaning forward over an observation table, dismissing the staff below and casting a critical eye up at the Evangelion.
As the figure leans foward into a patch of light, his features become clear: it is Kouzou Fuyutsuki, a subdued expression fixed on his angular features. The man has been watching the technicians struggle with their burden for the past hour - since making his brief personal report to the Commander, to be exact. Fuyutsuki is already certain that as soon as the crews here completed the eventually fatal waltz with the Test-Type, he would be heading to the office to deliver yet another extremely interesting report.
All was proceeding according to the schedule: Commander Ikari's schedule.
Ikari had known that this act was to take place; like puppets on a stage, each actor followed his part according to the script ordained by the Commander, and then was neatly escorted off stage left. The scenes pre-written, the cast already chosen - and the necessary props created, then discarded. The Test-Type was beyond help. Nothing more than a means to an end, it had served its purpose, spoken its lines as it were - and was now being escorted from the stage - in its own, very personalised manner.)
(Then comes a huge wrenching sound; a wet tearing noise of muscle finally ripped free by its own weight - and with a great snap of tendons and muscle, the Test-Type's arm simply tears free at the shoulder. Technicians scramble madly out of the way, many screaming in terror as the thick cabling that supports the arm stretches and snaps, whipping downwards. The arm comes crashing to the floor of the chamber in a shower of diseased flesh, gore and LCL.)
Maya: (horrified) My god.. (shouting) is everyone alright?
(There is a brief delay as all staff in the chamber - except one - collectively catches his or her breath, startled by the incredible rate of deterioration..)
Technician: (from below, shouting) Everyone seems OK, Ma'am..!
(Fuyutsuki sighs, clasping his hands behind his back, and tries to look interested in the pointless efforts of the crews below.)
(Asuka has just arrived home from the synch tests - courtesy of a lift from her guardian, Misato Katsuragi. Although not at all in the mood to hang around, the girl had experienced a strange.. lethargy when the time came to leave NERV - almost as if the act of leaving itself felt bad. After a few short words with Shinji, who had told her he was asked to stay behind, she had accepted Misato's lift and made her way home in relative peace, staring out at the steadily deepening twilight though the passenger window.
The problem with the lift from Misato is that it had involved a side-track - a trip to the local convenience store to stock up on the essentials. For the elder woman, this largely involved beer and instant noodles; yet the purchases moved past Asuka's slightly glazed eyes, her attentions clearly elsewhere. Minutes slowly stretched into hours; hours seemingly expanding to days and weeks as item after item is selected from the endless racks of available food, a strange pain seems to grow in Asuka stomach as the 'expedition' in shopping takes longer and longer to complete.
By the end of the exercise, Asuka is nearly frantic, hand clutching her stomach as a strange gnawing urgency threatens to overwhelm her. Barely able to help in carrying the shopping into the car, when Misato finally takes the child back to the apartment.
Rei had been asked to stay back along with Shinji. Although in the normal course of events, being 'kept behind together' at NERV would bring a teasing remark, perhaps a rumor started in good fun around the school classrooms, this time the German girl can feel naught but a sullen ache, physically feeling the distance that the wheels of Misato's car are putting between her and NERV - her and Shinji.
It is.. disturbing.
Upon arriving at the appartment, Asuka leaps from the vehicle as soon as it is parked and scurries towards the elevator with unseemly haste - leaving her guardian to carry the groceries. Misato, awkwardly struggling with her load, frowns in annoyance at the apparent desertion of the only other pair of hands and works her way upstairs to her home.
Within moments Misato catching up and entering the apartment, two things occur: Asuka slips into Shinji's room, and Misato makes another proud contribution to the leaning tower of tipsy that now reaches five cans high from the sink.)
(It is at the sound of the loud burp echoing from the kitchen which brings Asuka to her senses. She blinks once, twice, and looks around - realising whose room she has stepped into without a second thought, his unmade bed the one she was about to slump down onto.
Looking frightened, the Second Child slowly backs out of the room - shaking her head, trying to throw off the controlling urge that seems to be driving her beyond her control. It is not an urge to be with the boy - no, it feels more like a binding.. almost as if something is missing.. something that should be here, but quite clearly is not.
Her hand spasms slightly as it clutches her stomach, a deep gnawing pain within.
Asuka controls herself with an effort; she makes her way unsteadily out into the lounge, falling gracelessly onto the couch. In moments, she has made herself comfortable and grips the remote control, flicking through the channels for something to watch, anything which might distract her from the feeling inside and the odd tickle that is now building in response in her throat.)
Voice: (from TV) - and refused to make any comment. A spokesperson for the Investigative Commitee made a statement earlier today that it will release it's findings later in the week, once an eval -
(Frowning, Asuka quickly thumbs to a new channel.)
Voice: (from TV) That's correct, Hida! What does that win her -
(And then to another channel - equally boring as the last.)
Voice: (from TV) So that's how you spell 'Bear'! Well done everyone at home!
(And then, clearing her throat loudly, to another channel.)
Asuka: (muttering) Where's Pen Pen when you need him, huh?
(As if telepathic, a stray comment from the resident 'adult' drifts into the room from the kitchen..)
Misato: (absently) He's probably sleeping off the midday meal..
(There is utter silence as Asuka quietly contemplates the fact - the midday meal no doubt consisting of some leftovers, a can of beer and.. grimacing, the girl pokes the remote, bringing yet another channel up.)
Voice: (from TV) .. for all your daily needs. Just remember, if pain persists, see your doctor..
Asuka: (sighing) Yeah..
(Asuka's finger comes down on the OFF switch just a moment before she tosses the remote at the television, slumping forwards in the couch, with her head in her hands. Reddish hair hangs down through her fingers to splay over her knees, seeming like a curtain of darkness between herself and the outside world.
Nothing seems to be working today - not that the quality of entertainment is any better in the normal case - but today it seems worse than most, utterly boring and most important of all: totally useless at what it normally excels at: numbing the mind. The young woman makes a decidedly unladylike sound, a mix between a german curse and a grunt, and rolls over, staring at the ceiling for a moment before coughing and rolling again - this time on to her side to gaze at the dark square of the TV screen.
Slowly - ever so slowly - as she stares at the square, it seems to grow.. blurring, spilling out from the television, a slow creeping greyness which casts strange shadows around the normally brightly lit lounge room. Asuka gazes at it with something akin to mild curiosity for a moment - before her hand closes around the remote once more.
The TV springs back to life, dispelling the dark illusion.)
Misato: I hope you'll be ready for tomorrow's test.
Asuka: (tiredly) Yeah, whatever.
(There is a pause before Misato calls out her next question.)
Misato: (distantly) Have you and Shinji decided which of you two will stand guard for Aoi's activation?
Asuka: Huh? I thought you were going to choose.
(The woman says nothing. An inch-wide gap forms between sliding panel and bedroom door frame and is immediately filled with a sliver of Misato's face, including - but not limited to - one eye and a great flowing sweep of her dark hair. She watches as the Second Child ponders the question, turning it over in her mind with her head cocked to one side - a curious gesture. Asuka's lips move silently for a moment, as if mumbling to herself, and then she simply shrugs, responding in her usual tone as she gazes, unseeing, at a particularly tasteless advertisment for instant curry.)
Asuka: Shinji and I... we'll talk about it later.. he can't right now.
(The Major's eye remains fixed in the inch or so of open doorway - the eyebrow lifting as Misato picks up on the completely out-of-place remark. Taking the silence as acceptance, Asuka reluctantly decides to give the TV a few more chances - say, a dozen - and begins to flick through the network once more, unaware that the final peice of the puzzle has, unconciously, fallen into place in Katusragi's thoughts.
But before the Major can voice her conclusion, the pain begins..)
Asuka: (gasping) ..
(An involuntary spasm forces Asuka to take in a lungful of air - but the sound her lungs make is wet and sickly. She coughs, heaving her shoulders and doubling over as her body spasms, the remote dropping from fumbling fingers to thump onto the plush living room carpet.)
Asuka: (coughing) ..
(A deep, tearing breath and she coughs again, almost retching as she pushes herself back into the cusions of the couch. The rough, hacking sound, deep in the girl's chest, continues to rattle away until Asuka's vision begins to grey from lack of air, tears springing beneath her tightly squeezed eyelids as she rolls into a foetal ball on the couch..)
Asuka: (coughing) ..
(And then, just as suddenly, the awful, shuddering pain departs, leaving little more than a memory - a dim shadow of remembered pain.)
Asuka: (gasping) ..
(It is only now that she realises the hand that is on her shoulder, shaking her roughly as a voice pleads with her for answers..)
Misato: (worried) Asuka!!
Asuka: (struggling for breath) ...!
Misato: What happened? Are you alright??
(The girl's breath comes in a struggling wheeze, her eyes wide as the girl presses one hand to her sternum, slowly pushing her knees down from her chest, tentatively testing the air. After a few hurried breaths, her fears begin to subside - her breathing becoming normal, soft, well paced, the Second Child regaining control of her senses in a rush.)
Misato: (panicked) Asuka, what's going on?
(Asuka, now that the attack is over, has her gaze locked on nothing - seemingly staring through the Major's looming figure. In a language that Misato cannot percieve, she can hear something - a message, an urgent plea.. a cry for..)
Shinji: Asuka.. Help..
Asuka: (shouting) Shinji!
(She darts off the couch, slipping under Misato's restraining arm and taking off at full speed for the door. Before the door is fully opened, the redhaired girl has slipped through the widening gap, Misato grunting in embarrasment as she is forced to wait fractionally for the door to open further to follow. By the time she too is out in the corridor, Asuka has stretched into a full sprint and is little more than a distant blur, tearing down the corridor towards the apartment block's elevator..)
(By the time Yuri has joined the Project-E chairperson in the great Adyturm chamber, the figure of the Test-Type above has slumped in it's restaints, it's body hanging, twisting..
..and now, having sunk low enough to catch more of the light from below, is no longer hidden by shadow. Instead, the twisted mottling of its form can be easily seen as the last stages of the decay set in.
Only a few systems are needed for the last stage of the study of the Test-Type - the study of its death. The other computer terminals, now worthless to the final goal, are being gradually removed from the room with millitary efficiency by some of the faceless NERV workers.
Maya does not bother turning as the footsteps of her colleague approach from behind.)
Maya: Did the Magi return anything from the sample yet?
(Yuri frowns, addressing her superior as she gazes up at the creation as it hangs in its restraints; any indication of life had long since passed from the giant form, and yet, the shape still insipires fear in the young technician - fear stemming from the unique heritage harnassed in an attempt to create a superior Evangelion..
.. a creation that is now a failure..)
Yuri: (sighing) I'm afraid not - Microbology confirms it. There's just no reason for the cellular breakdown.
Maya: Something must have happened to cause this..
(From the far side of the chamber one of the few remaining technicians makes his way over, stepping between workers who rapidly dismantle the nearby consoles and unused monitoring stations.)
(Maya nearly rolls her eyes, a gesture caught just in time - but not quick enough to evade the attention of Yuri, who struggles to stifle a chuckle even in the tension of the moment.)
Maya: (resignedly) What is it?
Technician: You had better take a look at this, Ma'am..
(The technical staff gradually draws Ibuki and Yuri Furikawa over to his console - one of the few that remain operating at this late stage in the Test-Type's death. The sensory readouts scroll by on the left of the screen, little more than a blur, but it is the readouts and heat spectrum on the right that grabs at all three present.
Both Maya and Yuri lean in for a closer look..)
Yuri: (incredulously) It's... hot?
Technician: Yes Ma'am. What you see here is the remaining sensors in the Eva's body - those that are still operating. There's an overwhelming registration of heat from within the Test Type..
Maya: (quietly) .. its running a fever..
(In response, the technician simply points out through the plexiglass, indicating the remaining arm of the Eva, hanging limp in its restraints. A thick, viscous fluid drips clearly from the great fingertips, running from the shoulders, down the single arm and the chest of the Evangelion in pale yellow streams.. almost like the giant form is.. sweating..)
Yuri: (slightly sick) ..
Maya: Have you had that.. fluid.. analysed?
Technician: (nodding) It's LCL.
Maya: (to Yuri) Did the Magi have anything to say about symptoms such as this in the report?
(Shakily, the young woman thumbs through the printout attached to the small clipboard in hand, greatful for a reason to look away from the somewhat revolting sight of the degenerating Test-Type.)
Yuri: ... no Ma'am.
Maya: (exasperated) Well, what about the AT field analysis of the sample - were there any inconsistancies detected in that?
(The sudden silence at her question causes the Project-E chairperson to look up..)
Maya: Well, were there?
Yuri: ... what AT field analysis?
(Impatiently the woman holds her hand out, and presently recieves the clipboard.)
Maya: (patiently) Yuri, you should know this - all Eva's have a low level latent AT Field - thats why we have to put them in AT Field neutralization chambers for repair..
(But quickly, the reason for Yuri's confusion becomes abundantly clear..
.. as the Project-E chairperson flips to the appropriate report page..
.. which is blank, save for some neatly typed print in the exact centre..
.. spelling out the Magi's results in incontrivertible terms.)
Test Type Evangelion 07T
[07 Israfel Genome Based]
AT Field Analysis
AT Field Not Detected
Not Angelic Material
External Influence On Sample
Maya: (thinking) External influence..!
(Far away from the startled Chairperson, one of two external influences shouts as she sprints to the aid of the other..)
Asuka: (shouting) Shinji!
(Once again, before the elevator doors have fully opened, Asuka has already ducked through and is running for the fallen pilot. Shinji Ikari lies on one side, curled into a foetal ball in the gutter a short distance before the apartment block entrance. Somewhere in the midst of his pain, he had managed to wrap both arms around himself and now is huddled down on the ground, fingers clutching at the fabric of his shirt as he tries to catch his breath, semi-concious from a fit of extreme coughing.
Asuka kneels before the fallen figure, using a handful of shirt to haul the boy slowly to his feet - but after a bare second of contact she pulls back, hissing of pain as she cradles one hand - the hand that touched him. Gritting her teeth she reaches down again, taking two handfuls of his shirt and hauling as Misato finally catches up. Dispite both having run nearly the length of the building, the girl seems easily strong enough to lift the Third Child. Automatically, Katsuragi reaches down to lend a hand just as Asuka turns around, speaking sharply to her guardian.)
Asuka: (commanding) No! I've got him.
(Even as Misato opens her mouth to answer this almost ridiculous statement, the prone Shinji's grip shifts slightly, his hands shaking, reaching up, trying to haul himself out of the dust. Ignoring Asuka's previous command, Misato joins the second child beside Shinji, sliding an arm beneath his struggling shoulders and helping him rise..)
Misato: (concerned) Shinji, can you hear me?
(Shinji's face is buried in Asuka's shoulder - he doesn't appear to even hear Misato's voice as he struggles to regain his breath, still wheezing in hoarse, thick gusts.)
Misato: (concerned, more urgent) Shinji!
(Asuka lifts as she too tries to stand, struggling under the heavier child's weight. The girl looks up desperately at the older woman, her emotions oh-so-obviously detailed on her face. To Misato, she appears strangely protective of the boy - protective to the point of gentle cradling as he wobbles upright on shaky feet; yet it is undoubted that she is also in need of assistance. After the most minimal of delays, Asuka makes her decision, pleading for help as she begins to lift her burden towards the elevator.
Misato joins her on the other side of the boy, slipping one arm under her shoulder as, with her free hand, she pulls her cellular phone from the pocket of her bomber jacket and stabs a speed-dial number..)
(Not long after..)
Misato: (flatly) What do you mean?
Doctor Uguai: I mean I can't tell you. I just don't know what's wrong.
(The Major sits opposite a middle-aged man - a doctor by the name of Uguai, the specialist that had been called in to treat Shinji less than an hour before.
It had taken a mad minute for Misato to convince Asuka to keep Shinji on the ground floor - it would make it easier for the ambulance team to get to him. The girl had been ready to carry the Third Child up five floors to the apartment - elevator or not - and had to be restrained with firm words and a strong grip before finally following common sense.
By the time the ambulance had arrived, the brief show of conciousness on Shinji's part was gone - the boy lapsing into something which could only be called sleep. Throughout the ambulance ride - in between Misato's strident abuse of the driver for his 'slow speed' - the boy had not stirred, even with Asuka by his side quietly mouthing words that the Major could not hear over the wail of the the siren.
When the vehicle had at last reached the NERV hospital, Shinji had been attended to by the very best - and at the head of the medical team was doctor Uguai. He seemed honestly baffled by the boy's condition and without a solid diagnosis, could do little more but place the Third Child in a ward. He, nor could any nurse, make Asuka leave the bedside, however; this left Misato to deal with the bad news.
And of course, the news was bad.)
Uguai: (continuing) He's been totally unresponsive to all stimuli. His bloodtest registered normal, and his brainwaves show him to be in a state of deep sleep.
Misato: (incredulous) But people don't just fall asleep and not wake up. There must be something wrong with him!
Uguai: I can't give you any kind of solid diagnosis, but..
Misato: But what?
Uguai: It could be psychosomatic - stress related. I'm not privy to the kind of information you are, Major, but I believe that piloting the Evas has had it's side effects on the children before.
Misato: (slowly) ..yes.. yes it has.
(The doctor nods understandingly, then straightens slightly in his seat.)
Uguai: It could be a mental defence mechanism. The best guess I can make in this case, therefore, is that he simply needs time to 'sleep it off', as it were. We'll keep him here in the NERV ward for now - if there is any change we'll call you, of course.
Uguai: (pausing) Is that acceptable, Major Katsuragi?
Misato: Probably not for .. my roommate.
Uguai: (nodding) I understand. But it would be wise to get her home as well. She's very important to NERV, and the last thing she needs is to be constantly reminded of the boy's condition.
Misato: I know - you don't have to explain.
Misato: (thinking) What makes you think I can get her to leave when you can't?
Uguai: (continuing) It would be best for her to have familiar things around her now - take her home.. we'll look after the boy.
(The middle-aged Doctor tries to offer a hopeful smile, but it falls flat when Misato meets his gaze - her expression totally deadpan, squashing his weak attempt at cheer.)
Misato: (flatly) I hope you do.
(It is a hospital room, much like any of the rooms in which the children have, at one time or another, been treated: white walls, smooth, unmarked floors. A faint smell of antiseptic, and the chilled, sterile breeze of the air-conditioning system does wonders for upping the morale of those in the hospital - the outpatients, that is. For those residents who are slated to stay for some time, the sharp hospital smels become all too familiar all too quickly.
Although much of the Geo-Front is ventilated through air-conditioning, it somehow manages to feel more harsh, more fake, more.. dead in the hospital ward. High above, sheltered by the domed ceiling of the Geo-Front sphere, the air is fresh and natural - it smells of the trees and loam that huddles peacefully in the subterrainean fortress. But here, in the hospital wing, that freshness cannot reach.
Misato watches the scene from the doorway - as she begins to make the step over the threshold she feels - intrusive. As if to step into that room would betray something important, something she had been entrusted with.
Shinji looks, for all intents and purposes, to be peacefully asleep. No bandages circle his body, no respirator forces his lungs to breathe, and no machines are necessary for monitoring his condition. He merely lies in the bed, eyes closed, his chest rising and falling steadily, peacefully..
.. and utterly, completely automatically.
The Second Child, Asuka Langley Sohryu, has taken up position in one of two sofa chairs set to one side of the bed. Her head is lowered, knees drawn up to her face, keeping it conveniently hidden from Misato's view. Her arms hug her knees tightly as she scrunches into a tight ball on the seat.
Misato cannot tell if the girl had been crying; Asuka's eyes are hidden with the rest of her face. Instead, she appears to be listening - on the edge of her seat, listening - seeminly ignoring the rest of the world as her red hair spills over her knees, obscuring her features.)
(After a long moment the girl becomes aware of the new presence in the room - and the red mass of hair lifts slightly, Asuka shifting slightly to speak in a very quiet voice.)
Asuka: (frightened) ..Misato?
Misato: (steadily) I'm here, Asuka..
Misato: The doctors will be looking after him tonight. We should go home.
Misato: You need to sleep, Asuka. Let's go home.
Asuka: .. I can't.
(Misato struggles to hold back a trembling sigh - she knows exactly how the young girl feels. Having no family of her own - not counting PenPen - Shinji has lived in her apartment and has become a good friend, no, family, since he first arrived at Tokyo-3.
The Major bears the title of Operations Manager at NERV, and also bears the responsibility of the pilots well-being; frequently seeing the first hand results of bad decisions. Misato has watched the children as they endured their worst times, their hardest struggles, on many occasions watching as the children battled insane odds, with little or no hope that they might survive.
Such things take a toll on the hardiest person; Misato has long since given up denying feelings for her two roommates - they have been through too much together for her to fool herself. Her common sense may tell her that Asuka needs her sleep, that she should allow Shinji to rest by himself..)
Misato: There's nothing more we can do here.
Asuka: I can't leave.. Misato, please.. don't make me..
(.. but Misato's feelings echo Asuka's own.
But not with the strength that has locked Asuka down beside Shinji's bedside.
Slowly, so not to frighten the girl, Misato sinks into the sofa chair next to her..)
Asuka: I can't leave until he answers me..
(The second child seems to shrink in her seat, clutching herself tightly in a display of emotion that a very short while ago would have seemed totally out of place.
She appears to forget Misato's presence after a few short moments - and even as Katsuragi watches, Asuka returns to what she had been doing just before the older woman entered the room.. a whispering.. softly mouthed words in the direction of the 'sleeping' boy..)
Asuka: (whispering) Answer..
Asuka: (whispering) Answer..
Asuka: (whispering) Answer..
Asuka: (whispering) Answer..
(Misato cannot remain still any longer. Asuka's voice, the tones in her words, gradually become more worried.. then distraught.. then almost terrified.. her whispered words blending together into an insane litany, without real meaning, just a string of sounds as Sohryu begins rocking back and forth in her chair.)
Asuka: (whispering) Shinji.. Answer.. Answer.. Answeransweransweransweransweranswerans-
(The gentle touch of another - Misato's hand on her shoulder - breaks the spell. The words stop, Asuka' s breath catching in her throat, almost in embarrassment.
Although Misato and Asuka may both feel Shinji's loss, the depth of loss and loneliness that the second child feels is so much more vast, so much a heavier burden than Misato's that the Major cannot help but feel the distance that has grown between them - that she is watching the end of something that she was never really a part of.
Maybe it is an injustice; maybe Misato doesn't deserve to feel this way. But she does; she feels like an outsider, as if she were offering false condolences at a funeral. Which it may be.
As she sits beside Asuka, the german girl curled up on herself, Misato feels that nothing she says could possibly help. That nothing she could tell Asuka could ease the grief, could tell her she is not alone in her feelings.
She may feel an outsider in this moment, but she is not.
Misato Katsuragi moves closer, gently wrapping her arms around the girl. Asuka seems not to notice, but, after a few short seconds of silence, her own arms reach up to hug at her friend, pressing her face into the shoulder of Misato's red jacket.
Misato knows better than to try and stop what comes next - something which is a virtual nonevent for Asuka anyway, the woman does her best to handle the silent crying calmly; she discards any rational thought and lets the girl continue, unmindful as the shoulder fabric of her jacket begins to soak through with the tears.
In time, Asuka's crying subsides into little more than a sobbing - then a snuffle - and she looks sheepishly up at her guardian and begins to feel around for a spare handkerchief.
As if by magic, Misato produces one - hardened into a stiffened clump of fabric, since she left it in the jacket pocket the last time it was taken to the dry cleaners. Katsuragi offers it to the Second Child who accepts gratefully, dabbing at her eyes, taking deep breaths to try and clear the rasping from her voice. As Asuka finishes her quick makeover and hands back the handkerchief, Misato finally approaches the issue with a question, phrasing it carefully, hoping not to send the girl off into another gale of tears..)
Misato: (gently) He's not.. there anymore.. is he?
Asuka: (sniffing) ..
(And finally, all her suspicions confirmed, Misato can know only ask for answers - no matter how late they might be.)
Misato: (gently) When did it start?
Asuka: (quietly) Oh.. I don't know.. about a week or so after.. after the contact..
Asuka: It was little things.. like, a feeling.. a thought.. I.. oh..
Asuka: This is stupid, isn't it..
Misato: Why didn't you tell me?
(It is not an accusation, but a painful question. A tone in Misato's voice, a faint feeling carried by the sound, a feeling of regret and loss and .. disappointment.)
Misato: Couldn't.. couldn't you trust me? Not after everything?
Misato: (quietly) We could have helped. Maya, and the others..
Asuka: (defensively) We didn't know Misato..
Asuka: No one told us it was going to be like this. But .. one day .. I woke up and.. he was there.
(Misato can only look on, having no real words with which to respond, she sits quietly, watching as Asuka attempts to express a concept almost beyond her understanding..)
Asuka: He was there. Just there, on the edge of.. what I see. On the edge of what I feel. I knew he was there.
Asuka: It was like.. as if I wasn't alone. Not anymore.
Asuka: I didn't have to be alone. And neither did he.
Asuka: Misato, do you know what its like when you can feel them with you at every moment?
(This statement makes Misato blink, slightly astonished - for it is a feeling she knows very well.. a feeling she had shared for a time with Kaji.. a feeling every person shares at some point in their lives..
But the feeling usually comes to us naturally - over time, over discussions, as one person gets to know another, as two humans slowly lower the walls that enclose their minds, that enclose their hearts: the light of the soul, light of the heart..
Never is it ripped asunder.. never is it forced..)
Asuka: At first.. I guess I was angry at it - angry at him. But it didn't last. I couldn't really hate him.. not once.. once we saw..
Asuka: I didn't understand at first.. I don't understand it now. But it grew. At first.. it was little things.
(Asuka falls silent, biting her bottom lip, striking a dead end in her attempt to explain the nearly inexplicable feelings, the connection that has arisen between her and the Third Child, the result of the merging of AT fields in the fog so long ago..
Misato chips in a few words, trying to prompt Asuka to the end, to fully unburden herself..)
Misato: (prompting) But later..
Asuka: ..we could understand each other. It was just so easy. So comforting.
Asuka: (trembling) So nice.
(The girl begins to shiver in her seat, tears beginning to spill from her eyes once more.. she clenches her hands into fists on the upholstered seat - and yet her voice continues, shaken, but bravely continuing onwards..)
Asuka: (brokenly) I didn't .. have to be .. alone anymore, Misato. And neither did he..
Asuka: I don't want to blame Shinji..
Asuka: (crying openly) But it was his choice too.
Asuka: (crying) .. and.. and now he's gone! I'm alone again!
(And this time, as the tears begin to flow once more, Misato reaches out to hold the girl again. The Major's own eyes, red but free of tears, lock onto the still figure of Shinji Ikari, as if the force of her gaze and the strength of her will could wake him up again, and stop the grief and loneliness.)
Fuyutsuki: (to phone) Yes?
Fuyutsuki: (to phone) I see. And you told the Major what?
(The words of the Vice-Commander of NERV echo through the dark office of Gendo Ikari. He stands at the edge of the pool of light which surrounds Ikari's desk, and holds his cellular to his ear as he speaks with some unknown caller.)
Fuyutsuki: (to phone) Good. Insure that the blood analysis and all other records are destroyed; and Doctor - be thorough.
Fuyutsuki: (to phone) No, Lieutenant Ibuki can be trusted - but destroy all other copies.
(The old man switches off his mobile, slipping it into his pocket before turning to speak to the other man present.)
Fuyutsuki: Major Katsuragi has been diverted - for now.
(At first, the dark-haired man sitting at the desk does not respond. In his silence, it appears as if he is thinking, pondering..
..weighing up Misato Katsuragi's usefulness against her difficulties.
But he does not voice his thoughts on that issue - at least, not now.)
Gendo: At least it lends a.. new viewpoint to human evolution.. and what SEELE is trying to accomplish.
Fuyutsuki: (quietly) I wonder how long it will be before they learn of it.
Gendo: (smirking) Perhaps it will shake the old men up.
(Fuyutsuki turns his eyes up to the ceiling of the office, looking over the familiar symbols of the Sephirothic Tree.)
Fuyutsuki: The Test-Type.. lost. If this fails, Ikari, we may not have the resources to create another catalyst for the process.
Gendo: It is out of our hands now. Should that event come to pass we will fall back on the previous plan involving the Ev.N complement..
Gendo: Its attachment to Rei will be put aside for the sake of a guaranteed success.
Fuyutsuki: (thinking) And yet its relation to Rei has protected it from this up to now, Ikari. You chose your own son instead of breaking that bond.
Gendo: (continuing) In the current scenario, we are forced to rely upon the momentum of our previous actions.
(Fuyutsuki's expression remains flat, giving no hint of the condemning thoughs that run through his mind. In time, he voices a question - trying to probe further, to see just how far Gendo will push the matter before capitalizing on the success.. or declaring the scheme a failure and accepting the 'necessary loss'.)
Fuyutsuki: (eventually) What do we do about the recovery operation? One will be requested as soon as Ibuki - or possibly Major Katsuragi - learns of the pilots impending.. condition.
(Ikari shifts his bearded jaw slightly, unpeturbed.)
Gendo: We must delay its implementation, until we can test the validity of the original theorum.
Fuyutsuki: That the substitution was successful?
Gendo: The complement may have lost it's viability when it became linked with Rei, but even so, it has capacities that should not be ignored. We must ascertain that the Second Child has subsituted its presence completely.
Fuyutsuki: (sourly) As for its 'capacities', it is clear from the medical reports that the substitution has not protected the Third Child from the side-effects in the same way we expected the complement to function..
Fuyutsuki: So the substitution is now a means to an end - being 'safe' or not is simply incidental.
(Fuyutsuki gazes down at the scattered reports on Commander Ikari's desk. Details of the AT field experiments, schematics of the Test-Type, Maya Ibuki's own report and analysis of the situation..
..and the real medical report from Doctor Uguai - the details of Shinji's condition, hidden from Misato at the Commander's order.)
Fuyutsuki: (coldly) This isn't how you expected Instrumentality, is it?
(Gendo Ikari barely glances at the report before him.)
Gendo: So romantic ideals of what the ultimate state would encompass were incorrect. It hardly changes the scenario itself.
(In response, Fuyutsuki waves a hand broadly at the papers strewn around the desk, gesturing in his anger at the current situation. For while Gendo appears content with the end result - Fuyutsuki finds himself counting the cost.)
Fuyutsuki: (angrily) This entire design is based on those "Romantic Ideals"!
Fuyutsuki: Without it, it's nothing but a mad scheme, driving us towards an end that we cannot understand - only guess at.
Fuyutsuki: We have no certainty about what we will find beyond that doorway - of what you will find.
Gendo: I hope that this does not mean you are having doubts, old friend.
(Fuyutsuki's voice is filled with a strange pain - and a strange helplessness of his own.
Unlike Misato and Maya, who, while privy to some details, do not understand the final goals..
Fuyutsuki understands too well - if only to watch in helpless terror as events unfold according to the 'scenario'.
He deliberately delays his answer, instead reaching for the report that lies on Ikari's desk. Opening the folder, Fuyutsuki reads aloud.)
Fuyutsuki: ".. although the original hypothesis was true, to an extent, the possibilities of mental contamination from the contact were greatly underestimated. The factor ultimatly to blame for this is most likely the inherit differences between the operational systems of Eva and of the new Test Type .."
Fuyutsuki: (turns a page and continues) "Dispite the functioning of Eva being on the same principles of the Test-Type, the duel nature of the Seventh Angel presented more difficulties than anticipated; in retrospect, the use of the recovered specimen to create a new genome was a miscalculation .."
Fuyutsuki: (lowering report) What Lieutenant Ibuki fails to mention is the toll it is having upon the pilots - of course, that isn't the official reason for his collapse..
Fuyutsuki: Of course, how was she to know the unit was never intended to enter active service?
(Silence reigns supreme in the large office - both men lost in their thoughts until at last Fuyutsuki replies to his superior's question.)
Fuyutsuki: (subdued) .. Of course I have doubts, Ikari.
Fuyutsuki: I would have to be a fool to blindly follow this.
Fuyutsuki: But I'll still follow, Ikari. Foolishly, perhaps, but I'll follow.
(The Supreme Commander of NERV says nothing - accepting the old man's statement quietly as the conversation comes to an end.)
(It is the same hospital room, the white of the walls emanating a starkness that seems to bear down on the room's occupants, of which there are now only two. One seems peaceful, to the casual observer he might appear fast asleep. But to the figure slumped deep in a chair beside the bed, the truth is painfully clear.)
(Asuka's eyes are downcast, staring mindlessly at the patterns on the floor. Every few minutes she glances back up at the motionless form of Shinji on the bed, as if hoping for a sign of life other than the steady rise and fall of his chest, but knowing deep down that such wishes are futile.
Her fist clenches slightly for a moment, betraying the inner turmoil that consumes her mind. For as much as she prides herself on relying only on herself, the loss of mind-contact with Shinji was as if something had been taken from her. After all this time of being able to sense him, feel his presence in her mind, the lack of it is now close to unbearable.
It seems loneliness is the demon at work here.
Misato had let her stay - in fact, there was little way she could refuse, given the conversation that had occured but a few hours before. Misato herself had remained until visiting hours were over - 9:00pm - and then had driven home, albeit reluctantly. Clearly she had not wished to leave the side of the boy, but eventually Doctors and Nurses had pulled their special rank on the Major and she had been forced to leave.
But neither Doctor nor Nurse could make a dent in the Second Child's will to stay. Quote all the rules and regulations you might; Asuka had a simple expedient for ensuring she stayed in the room - she threatened to kill anyone who would remove her. One look into her angry blue eyes was enough to convince most to stay far away.
Eventually, the staff had simply decided it was more convenient to let the child stay near her boyfriend - a stray remark that nearly drew a deadly response - rather than try to eject her from the room. A brave intern had provided a blanket and pillow, and Asuka now used these to keep warm as she made vigil on the couch by the bedside - though more often than not the items became key actors in frustrated flight..)
Asuka: (sighing) ..
(Almost unconsciously, Asuka reaches out with her mind, much as Shinji had done with Rei. But instead of being pushed away, she encounters...
It is as if Shinij is not there at all.
Exactly as he had not been there for the past hours. His soul seemingly.. absent, the contact gone.)
(Asuka groans, tossing off her blanket. Over the course of the last hour, the room has steadily become more stifling.. slowly heating up, causing the girl to toss and turn and finally sweat. She brushes back stringy hair from a damp forehead and tries not to give in to the despair that has plagued her since Misato's departure earlier that evening.
She sniffs, taking in the air, noting the odd smell which seemed to permeate the room. It was like sweat, yet not - and worst of all her clothing was becoming thoroughly soaked as a result of the suddenly oppressive heat. In a flash of impotent fury the girl resolves to track down the air conditioning maintenance staff of the building as soon as possible.
Her train of vengeful thought is cut off abruptly by rough scraping noise from the hallway outside.
Through the doorway, Asuka can see nothing but darkness - from all apperances, the night nurse had been down the hall to switch off the lights some time ago. The curtains are drawn, adding to the gloom as the girl's slight interest changes to confusion as a second light scuffling noise rings out in the silence of the graveyard hours.
Footsteps can be heard in the corridor. The young Eva pilot rises from the couch, her movements sluggish as a result of her haggard state. Groping in near darkness, she finds a weapon - the discarded pillow - just as a voice speaks softly from what must be the other side of the door.)
Voice: (whispering) In here.
(Less than a second later, the door bursts inwards and several figures - little more than black on black shadows - rush into the room. Asuka leaps from the couch, a crazed yell bursting from her throat as she jumps on her attackers, a sweat-streaked figure in rumpled cloathing. She swings with the pillow, and connects - a slight grunt of confusion is her reward.)
Voice: (cursing) ..!
(The black figures turn on her - in seconds the pillow is torn from her grasp and contemputously thrown to one side. Leather-gloved hands shackle her wrists, pulling her away from the surprised NERV security agent that even in the dim light she can recognise as her target. Asuka blinks in confusion - security agents? - just as one of the men tightens his grip, his hand slipping on the slick sweat coating her forearm.)
Voice: (quietly) Uurgh, what's this gunk!?
Asuka: (struggling) ..!
Different Voice: (quietly) We've got to take her, too. Commander's orders.
Asuka: (struggling) What the hell are you.. !
Voice: (quietly) .. and shut her up.
(Asuka shifts into panic mode as the same hand that just slipped on her arm abruptly comes up to cover her mouth. Outnumbered five to one and already overpowered, the Second Child can barely twist in the grip of her captors, regardless of how she struggles - her captors are as professional as they come. The girl manages to turn just enough to see several more black figures lift the semicomatose form of Shinji Ikari from the sweat-soaked hospital bedsheets..)
Asuka: (struggling) ..!
(The hand tightens over her mouth painfully, forcing the girl to breathe through her nose. A sharp scent fills her nostrils, almost causing her to gag. For a moment Asuka's panicked mind imagines a wad of chloroform or some other drug to silence her.. until she realises that the smell is something else - her sweat.
A faint coppery scent..
..or the smell of LCL.
The girl screams helplessly into the muffling gauntlet, kicking wildly at her captors, her cries silenced completely and effectively as the NERV agents remove both her and the Third Child. Displaying all the efficiently of handpicked agents they are gone in moments - even being so careful as to straighten the furniture knocked over in the struggle before they depart.)
To Be Continued...