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Neon Genesis Evangelion

EVA-R Prime Extension

Version 4.1

Written by Alex Voutsis

Thanks to Raymond Cooper

Writer's Notes:

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

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

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

Light of the Soul / Contact

Light of the Heart / At Last, A Reason

The Runaway

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

Stand By Me

Saturday

Seyoko: (calling out) Lyn!

Lyn: (sleepy) Yeah?

Seyoko: (calling) We have to get to headquarters.

(Lyn sits up in bed, rubbing his face and peering at the clock on the side table.)

Lyn: (complaining) But it's only five o'clock! I thought it was the weekend!

(Seyoko opens the door to the boy's bedroom. She is already in her uniform.)

Seyoko: It is. But I just recieved a phone call from HQ. Priority.

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

(The Second Analysis room in Central Dogma is illuminated by the massive screen built into the floor. The light flowing from the map of Toky0-3 depicted gives the early morning briefing a bizarre air.

Misato and Asuka are present, as are Seyoko and Lyn. The other pilots are absent. Hyuga is the only member of the technical staff at the briefing. Commander Ikari and Fuyutsuki lead the briefing.)

Fuyutsuki: The first child has gone missing, along with the Ev.N complement, designated Tenkei. They have not made contact with NERV HQ in two days; security has lost all track of them.

Fuyutsuki: Yesterday, the third child and a classmate were observed by security forces entering the main shopping district. Somewhere in the crowds, the teams lost them. Since then, they have not been seen by either the automated or manned surveillance systems in the city.

Misato: You believe that these are related.

Fuyutsuki: Yes. The immediate requirement is that neither the Complement, or any of the pilots, should be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.

Seyoko: 'Wrong hands', Sir?

Gendo: There are groups that would see NERV fail in it's function, and would leap upon this opportunity.

Fuyutsuki: Beginning at eight hundred hours, we will place the city on full alert status. The population will be evacuated to the lower shelters; if the children are among them, they will be picked up by the Magi. If not, then that will eliminate the city as one of the locations that they are hiding.

Gendo: Once the city has been covered, Pilot Anouilh will launch in Unit Two.

Seyoko: You're going to launch an Eva? On a recovery mission?

Fuyutuski: The Complement produces certain radiations that an Eva will be able to detect - outside of an Eva, the only systems we have to do such things are installed in the City's defences - their range is limited, and they cannot be moved.

Gendo: Unit Two will act as a mobile spotlight.

(Misato has been watching Asuka carefully, but is surprised to not see a response to once again being designated as a backup pilot. Meanwhile, the Commander has continued the briefing.)

Gendo: Pilot Anouilh, you will expand your AT field following the experiment execises.

Hyuga: If you are in the presence of the Complement, his field may cause distortions in yours that you can detect.

Lyn: (stammering slightly) But, Sir, I wasn't even able to do it like that in the drills! How can I -

Gendo: (interrupting) Your skills will be sufficient. (turning to Misato) Major, Commander Fuyutsuki and I will direct this operation.

(Misato frowns and begins to speak, but her words are cut off.)

Fuyutsuki: This is not a tactical operation, Major.

Misato: Yes Sir.

Misato: (thinking) They badly want to take care of this themselves.

Gendo: You all have your orders. Proceed.

Misato: (thinking) .. what the hell has them so scared?

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

(Unit 02 thunders up a launch chute, the platform locking into place at the top of the catapault. The red Eva is visible on the vast screen in Central Dogma. Fuyutsuki and Ikari command from the highest platform in the control centre; Hyuga and Shigeru man the consoles.

The absence of Maya Ibuki makes Misato curious, but for now she holds back any questions. She is there almost purely as an observer - the real authority rests with the Commanders.)

Asuka: First time I ever watched something like this..

(Misato looks at the girl, standing beside her, leaning on her crutch, and again wonders at the pilot's temperment.)

Misato: Are you sure.. that you're okay with this?

Asuka: What does it matter? You'd do it whether I agreed or not.

Misato: (thinking) She sounds like Shinji..

(On the screen, Lyn strides out in Unit 02, standing the Evangelion over the first sector.)

Lyn: (radio) I'm at the co-ordinates now.

Fuyutsuki: Good. Expand your field, following the guidelines.

Lyn: (radio) Affirmative..

(The Eva bows it's head as a shimmering distortion rides up it's body - its AT field. A red haze solidifies about the giant, slowly taking form..

And then the AT field swells outwards in an expanding sphere, tearing up nearby buildings in a maelstrom of force. In a growing circle around the Eva, buildings crack and shatter under the incredible onslaught - fragments of rubble are torn from the structures and sucked up into the air.)

Fuyutsuki: No! Stop it now!

(The field disappears in a rush of air and sound; fragments of concrete and steel rain down upon the area, suddenly free of the power that suspended them.)

Gendo: Pilot Anouilh, do it again. Slowly.

Lyn: (radio - nervously) Yes Sir..

Asuka: (quietly) Misato..

Misato: Yes?

Asuka: If I can't do anything right now, can I go down to the shelters?

Misato: ..?

Asuka: I'd like to see Hikari.. and if I'm not doing anything, I can only get in the way..

Misato: (slowly) Asuka.. If you feel that way.. then just do what you think is right..

Asuka: Thanks..

(The girl heads for the exit, limping slowly, leaning on her crutch.)

Misato: (to Shigeru) How long until Lyn reaches the next sector?

Shigeru: Another minute.

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

Kensuke: (panting) Shinji.. can't.. we even.. stop.. while we.. eat?

(Shinji finishes swallowing the remains of the sandwich he was chewing.)

Shinji: (panting) Let's just.. go up.. this.. hill. It should.. be all dowhill after.. that.

(Kensuke is too out of breath to respond as the two boys half-walk, half-climb up the forest-choked hill. Their packs weigh heavy on their backs, and the lack of sleep shows in the deep circles under their eyes.

Finally the pair reach the summit of the hill, leading down into a field of wild grass, the long green stalks scattered with flowers and thistles, wet from the light rain.

Shinji presses on, and Kensuke has no choice but to follow. As they half-stagger down the hill, the rain picks up in tempo, until the boys are surrounding by a grey mass of falling water.

They reach the field below and begin the slow trek across. Kensuke's eyes drop to the seemingly endless path his feet follow..)

Kensuke: Shinji?

Shinji: ..Yeah?

Kensuke: Are you sure that Rei came this way?

(Shinji doesn't answer immediately; rather, he seems to consider the question, his eyes also bent towards his endlessly pacing feet.)

Shinji: Yes.

(Kensuke, too, turns his attention to his feet, for even on the downhill slope he must struggle to keep pace with the leading pilot. His gaze locks on first his own shoes, then those of Shinji, as he concentrates on catching his breath despite the brutal pace. Suddenly, he blinks twice, noticing for the first time the way in which Ikari is walking, the strange hobble to his steps evident even in his haste..)

Kensuke: Shinji.. how long have you been limping?

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

(The door opens, releasing a burst of sound from the outside world; the hum of lighting and the sounds of distant footsteps.

The door closes again, and Maya can hear nothing but the sound of her breathing.

That is, until the lights snap on.)

Maya: Misato?

Misato: I'm sorry that you have to be here.

Maya: ..

Misato: I don't think that you should be here.. I don't think you were involved.

Maya: ..

Misato: Maya?

Maya: Our conversation is being recorded; it makes this difficult.

Misato: I know..

Maya: They're not going to find him.

Misato: They've put the city on full alert status - they've gone through the population looking for Rei and the Complement. And they've sent out Unit Two.

Maya: An Eva to find.. Oh. They're using the AT field, aren't they?

(Misato nods, and continues to speak, even as her hands carefully sneak into her jacket, extracting a stub of a pencil and a small pad of paper.)

Misato: Shinji's disappeared also. I think he's trying to find Rei as well.. If there's nothing you can tell me, I can at least ask you how you're being treated.

(As Misato hands the pad and pencil to Maya, the younger woman fumbles with her answer.)

Maya: Um.. Well, I think the food.. is surplus from the war days after the second impact.. (scribbles on the pad) There's not much else I can say. They treat.. criminals fairly well here.

Misato: I wouldn't call you a criminal.

Maya: Doctor Akagi never saw trial.

(Maya returns to paper to Misato - she immediately stuffs it into her jacket.)

Misato: Maybe this will all blow over and you can come back to work.

Maya: There's only one way that it would happen - and that's if they get them back.

(Without comment, Misato turns and walks to the door. A moment later, Maya is alone again in the darkness.)

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

(Asuka steps into the shelter and is momentarily overwhelmed by the mass of people within the confined space. She has arrived at the district shelter for the families that live in Hikari Horaki's district.)

Asuka: ..Hikari?

(The pilot of Eva 02 edges carefully through the groups of people sitting on the hard carpet of the floor. Her passage is made difficult by her crutch, and she jostles many people.)

Asuka: (to various people) ..Coming through.. Hey! Watch it! ..Just look out there.. yeah, thanks..

Hikari: (calling out) Asuka!

Asuka: There you are! (in passing) 'Scuse me.. Hey! Just shift yourself, okay? It can't really be that hard to move a bit!

(Eventually, Asuka gets through the crowd to Hikari, who is sitting against one of the shelter walls, alongside two older girls - both of whom share a striking resemblance to the class representative.)

Hikari: What are you doing here? I was afraid for a second that it was another Angel..

Asuka: Don't worry, it's nothing like that.. I was wondering, Hikari, if you and I could talk for a second?

Hikari: Sure Asuka.. take a seat.

Asuka: In private. (to other girls) Sorry.

Hikari: I'm sure it's okay.. Kadama?

Kadama: If it's serious..

(Asuka leads Hikari away from her sisters to a relatively quiet corner of the shelter.)

Hikari: So Asuka, what's up?

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

Lyn: (radio) I've reached the co-ordinates..

Shigeru: (to Gendo) Sir? Unit Two is beginning the the third sweep of the twenty-seventh district.

Fuyutsuki: Understood.

Yuri: Okay Anouilh, do it again.

Lyn: (radio) ..Right..

(Exhaustion fills the voice of the sixth child as he continues into the tenth hour of the search for the complement. Although his efforts have been titanic, there have been no signs of any progress..

..Until now.)

Lyn: (radio) What the.. I think I've got something!

(Misato looks up from where she was leaning against a wall, a cold cup of coffee forgotten in her hand.)

Misato: What? Where?

Lyn: (radio) I'm not sure.. I've got some sort of interference in my field.. its like..

Fuyutsuki: Unit Two, can you describe it?

Lyn: (radio) It's sort of.. a familiar.. smell.

Gendo: Can you pinpoint it?

Lyn: (radio) ..Um.. I think it's .. right below me.

Fuyutsuki: (to Shigeru) The shelters! Overlay the maps of the city and the civilian bunkers! Find the shelters that correspond with Unit Two's position!

Shigeru: Yes Sir!

(As the crew at the control level wait anxiously for the report, Misato catches a few words spoken between the

commanders.)

Fuyutsuki: This is unusual; I didn't think the complement would stay in the city..

Gendo: No. And this is far from the third child's trail..

Misato: (thinking) His trail? They know where Shinji is going?!

Shigeru: Unit Two is directly over shelters seven, eight and nine.

Misato: (thinking) So they aren't worrying about Shinji.. they're..

Hyuga: I'm contacting the security covering the shelters.

(Misato considers again the message from Maya, now crumpled in her jacket pocket. She closes her eyes, mentally running through all the possibilities of action..

..and the possible consequences..)

Hyuga: Negative.

(In a collective sigh, the strength seems to flow out of the technical team. They listen to Hyuga's report, nonetheless.)

Hyuga: Neither the security forces or the sensor systems have picked up the first child or the complement in the shelters. Should I have them check again?

Fuyutsuki: ..

Hyuga: Sir?

Gendo: No. Recall Unit Two to the cage. Prepare to return to condition green.

Yuri: Yes Sir.

(The platform upon which Ikari and Fuytusuki watch from lowers itself from view as the commanders leave. With their absense, a more relaxed atmosphere returns to the Central Dogma control room.)

Shigeru: Well, I guess that's it.

Yuri: We've done all we can do. The only thing for it is to go home.

Hyuga: For you, maybe. I have to stick around for the late shift.

Shigeru: I'd hate to be in your shoes. (stands) I'll see you in.. twelve hours.

(Yuri and Shigeru leave the control room, leaving Hyuga alone at the console.)

Hyuga: What the hell am I supposed to do now?

(The man leans back in his chair, setting his feet up on the console, taking care not to press anything with his heels.)

Hyuga: Another twelve hours..

Hyuga: I wasn't even meant to be in today..

Misato: Hyuga?

(Hyuga snaps up into a ready position, his voice jumping in shock.)

Hyuga: Major! I didn't realise that you were still here! Um.. why are you still here?

(Katsuragi takes Shigeru's chair, to Hyuga's right.)

Misato: You know what's happened to Maya, right?

Hyuga: (nods) It's really bad news for all of us in the department.

Misato: Yeah?

Hyuga: Yeah. She was like a.. Um.. why are you asking this, Major?

(Misato thinks for a moment before comitting herself to a dangerous course of action. She decides to question Makoto further.)

Misato: Do you think.. that Maya had anything to do with it?

Hyuga: With Rei and the Complement..?

Misato: ..

Hyuga: No.

Misato: Is that the general feeling?

Hyuga: I don't know what the others feel; except for Shigeru. He seems pretty certain that Maya's innocent, but he does what he's told..

Misato: Yeah..

Hyuga: What do you think?

(Misato reaches into her jacket and retrieves the note. Unfolding the crumpled paper carefully, she hands it to the technical officer.)

Misato: Read this.. it's important.

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

(Rain pours onto the streets of Tokyo-3. Misato peers through the rain-swept windshield of her new car as she drives home, half an hour later. Thoughts cloud her mind as she considers the path she has just taken.)

Misato: (thinking) Going maverick.. again.

Misato: (thinking) It's the right thing to do..

Misato: (thinking) I only hope Maya's right.

Misato: (thinking) Still, she knows more about this than anyone, now that Ritsuko's gone.

Misato: (thinking) What have they done with Ritsu?

Misato: (thinking) Will they do the same thing to Maya?

Misato: (thinking) Can I talk her into it?

(She parks outside her apartment complex. After a brief run through the pouring rain she reaches cover under the building. Pausing a moment to check her watch, she heads up to the home she shares with Shinji, Asuka and Pen Pen.)

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

Asuka: Okay.. but don't put so much weight on it! You look like a twit!

(Hikari looks up from where she practices with Asuka's crutch.)

Hikari: This is how you do it. I've got to look like you, remember?

Asuka: There's no way I'd walk like that. Speaking of looking like me, there's one other thing..

(The pilot of Unit 02 stands up from her chair and hops away to the bathroom. Hikari waits. The sound of falling bottles striking the tiled floor is heard, followed by a short curse in german. Finally, Asuka hops out of the bathroom, holding up a small bottle for Hikari to see.)

Asuka: Just this.

(Hikari stares at the bottle in mortal horror.)

Hikari: No. No no no no no! I am not using that!

Asuka: (wearing a pathetic face) Oh Hikari, I thought you were my friend!

Hikari: I am, Asuka, but - but that would takes days to get rid of! Everyone would see me! I.. my life would be over!

Asuka: Now this doesn't sound like the Hikari Horaki, responsible class rep, that I know.

Hikari: Asuka, I am not doing it. That's it.

(The girl leaves the crutch leaning against the table and heads for the door, Asuka in pursuit.)

Asuka: (hopping) Oh - no - you - don't!

(Hikari freezes as she runs into Misato in the doorway.)

Hikari: Oh! Miss Katsurgi!

Misato: ..Hikari?

(Misato looks at the school girl, who is frozen in the act of fleeing the apartment, and then looks at Asuka, who is holding a small bottle of red hair dye in one hand.)

Misato: ..

Asuka: Misato.. this isn't what you think.

Misato: (muffling a chuckle)..

Hikari: ..

Misato: That probably wouldn't fool NERV security, if that's what you're thinking.

Asuka: ..

Misato: Hikari.. maybe you ought to go home.

Hikari: Yes Miss.

(Misato steps out of the way as Hikari leaves the apartment, shooting a brief apologetic look at Asuka.)

Asuka: (turning away) Well.. I guess that's it then.

Misato: Asuka.. what were you going to do?

Asuka: (peeved) Well, it doesn't really matter now, does it?

(Misato goes to the fridge and looks through it for a second. Her hand reaches for a can of Yebusi lager but stops; her fingers touch the cold metal surface for a second before she decides against it. Misato closes the fridge.)

Misato: Asuka..

Asuka: What?

Misato: (taking out note) Read this. It's from Maya Ibuki. She's in charge of -

Asuka: (interrupting) I know, what Doctor Akagi used to do. What's it say?

(Asuka takes the paper and looks at the contents.)

PLEASE DO NOT LET SHINJI FIND REI & TENKEI. HE CAN DO IT, DON'T ASK ME HOW.

PLEASE STOP HIM. THIS MAY BE THEIR ONLY CHANCE.

COM. IKARI IS RIGHT - THE EVA'S CAN FIND TENKEI. I CAN'T EXPLAIN HOW.

I AM AFRAID FOR THE CHILD.

GET ASUKA'S HELP.

UNIT 1 CAN FIND SHINJI.

(Asuka re-reads the paper. Outside, the sound of the rain increases as the heavens wash the land.)

Asuka: ..Misato.. what does it mean?

Misato: Shinji has gone after Rei. Maya says that Shinji can find them - I believe her.

Asuka: But if NERV security lost them, how could he possibly -

Misato: (interrupting) I believe her - I may not understand it.. maybe it's got something to do with being a pilot - or being who he is.

Asuka: ..

Misato: But we have to stop him before he ruins everythng for Rei and Tenkei..

Asuka: But we don't even know where they're going! They might not either!

Misato: But if they stay here..

Asuka: What?

Misato: I don't think Tenkei can take much more of .. what's happened to him.

Asuka: He'll just have to get used to it like the rest of us.

Misato: That's uncalled for, Asuka - and it's below you.

Asuka: ..

Misato: I want you to come with me.

Asuka: What are we going to do?

Misato: We.. you, me, and Hyuga.. are going to find Shinji.. before he can find Rei.

Asuka: ..

Misato: And we'll need Unit One.

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

(Hyuga yawns at the console, covering his mouth with his hand, then returns to his usual state of business-like operation as he manages the cage control room.)

Hyuga: So.. You and Lyn going home then?

Seyoko: It's been a long day. Longer for you, from what I hear.

Hyuga: (smiling, obviously tired) Well, no rest for the wicked..

Seyoko: I suppose I'd better be heading for the car park..

Hyuga: (checking the console) I can't locate the sixth.. but he must be getting down there by now.

(Seyoko heads for the exit, opening the door only to discover Misato on the other side, Asuka leaning on her crutch some distance behind.)

Seyoko: Uh.. Major.

Misato: Lieutenant. If you could excuse the pilot, she's been injured.

Seyoko: Oh, of course..

(Seyoko steps back as Asuka lurches into the room. Misato follows.)

Seyoko: Well.. bye.

Misato: Indeed.

Seyoko: ..

Misato: ..

(Seyoko leaves.)

Hyuga: That was.. pretty cold, Major.

Misato: Don't tell anyone, but I learnt it from Ritsuko. (heads over to the console) How are we doing?

Hyuga: I've de-activated the security protocols on the third recovery shaft - the launchpads had access too high for me to breach. The shaft slopes up at about thirty degrees, and leads to the eigth recovery zone - that's outside the city. I wanted to minimise the danger of civillian casualties, given that we can't put the population on alert status.

Asuka: You mean I have to walk out!? We're miles underground!

Misato: It's the best that could be done, Asuka.

Hyuga: I've downloaded Unit Two's RAM into Unit One - it contains both Asuka's and Shinji's personalized data cores, just in case. You'll be able to alternate the program from inside the plug, if you have to.

Hyuga: (continuing) I wasn't able to breach the security on the girl's locker rooms, but I managed to not complete restoring the protocols on the boy's lockers after Lyn left - you could say I left the security door open. You should be able to grab one of Shinji's plugsuits, or Lyn's - or even one of the old ones meant for the fourth or fifth child.

Asuka: (irate) Shinji's plug suit! Are you kidding?!

Misato: We'll have to cut off the ankle of the suit to allow for Asuka's sprain..

Hyuga: Needless to say, I wasn't able to get anywhere near the weapon protocols - you'll be going unarmed; even the shoulder hardpoints haven't been armed yet.

Asuka: Okay.. just show me where the stupid locker room is..

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

Asuka: (muttering) Stupid Shinji.. ridiculous plug suit.. Hey! What the hell are these slits on the chest for?

Misato: (loudspeaker) HURRY UP ASUKA. WE DON'T HAVE MUCH TIME.

(Asuka painfully crawls onto the control seat of Unit 01's entry plug. The loading claw lifts the seat up, carrying it and the pilot across the cage to the entry plug, suspended behind Evangelion Unit 01.)

Asuka: (quietly) I'm sure this isn't a good idea..

(Locking mechanisms clamp down as the seat is lowered into the plug. The main hatch slides shut, leaving Asuka in the yellow light of the interior.)

Asuka: (to radio) Okay, I'm in. Flood the compartment.

(The yellow fluid fills the plug rapidly, and soon Asuka is taking in lungfuls of LCL.)

Hyuga: (radio) Initiating first level contact. First power levels reached - no problems.

Misato: (radio) Asuka, tell us if anything feels wrong. After what's happened before with Unit One, we have to be careful.

Asuka: Roger:

Hyuga: Second stage contact.

(The LCL seems to vanish from the plug as Asuka's perceptions merge with that of the Eva's.)

Asuka: Hey! This is weird..

Misato: (radio) Hyuga! Halt the procedure. Asuka, what is it?

Asuka: No, keep going.. it's just this two-eye configuration seems really strange..

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

(In the control room, Hyuga looks up at Misato.)

Hyuga: I've eliminated the plug pressure control circuit - if worst comes to worst, at least they wont be able to incapacitate the pilot.

Misato: (thoughtfully) Good idea..

Hyuga: Major.. this is our last chance to pull back.

Misato: I know..

Hyuga: (grimly) Unit One is bound to have dozens of remote trackers and indicators implanted in it's armour.. they'll know what's going on as soon as we reach the third stage.

Misato: I understand, Makoto. Let's just get on with it.

Hyuga: (facing the console again) Yes Ma'm..

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

Asuka: (mumbling) What the hell are they waiting for?

Hyuga: (radio) Third stage reached. Running diagnostic..

Misato: (radio) Asuka; how is it?

Asuka: This is.. I don't know, it's.. my foot feels.. okay. I think I can walk..

Hyuga: (radio) This isn't good.. Okay Asuka, listen up. The S2 engine has not activated.

Asuka: (alarmed) What!?

Misato: (radio) It must have something to do with your synch ratio..

Hyuga: (radio) Your synch is just breaching forty percent, so you might find it -

Asuka: (shouting) What?!

Misato: (radio) You heard, Asuka.

Asuka: Stupid Eva, never had anyone with a brain in it.. why can't we just use my Unit Two?

Hyuga: (radio) Unit One still contains Shinji's personal imprint. It's more likely to be able to locate him than Unit Two is. Shinji isn't out there in an EVA, he's out there on his own..

Misato: (radio - interrupting) Besides, we don't have the time to start again.

Misato: (radio) There's something else you need to know, Asuka.. After Unit One gained an S2 engine, it didn't require an internal battery, as you know.. the battery itself has been regarded as useless..

Asuka: (irritated) Get to the point..

Hyuga: There is still an internal battery in the Eva, but it's emergency backup - you can only expect about twenty seconds of power at maximum activity, and only two minutes at minimal gainload.

Asuka: You have GOT to be kidding me!

Misato: (radio) That's what we have to deal with, Asuka.

(The radio transmission is interrupted by the heavy thud of metal and the hiss of hydraulic release. The plug tilts forward slightly as the EVA slumps in its cage.)

Hyuga: (radio) I've released the final hydralic clamps.. you're free to go. Hurry up - there are probably alarms going off already.

Misato: (radio) Okay. Asuka, move out!

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

(The roar of the transport's engines is muted within the VTOL craft's interior. Gendo Ikari sits in the passenger compartment behind the pilots - both sides of the cabin are lined with windows. Ikari's eyes scan the dark ground below, even though logic would state that he could not possibly make out Rei's form on the surface.)

Gendo: (thinking) Again..

Gendo: (thinking) And this time, Rei..

(The Commander's phone rings softly - Gendo retrieves it.)

Gendo: (phone) Yes?

Gendo: (phone) I see. And Mount Fuji has confirmed the sighting?

Gendo: (phone) Then you may expect a full complement of eight craft.

Gendo: (phone) Yes. Launch an anti-air intercept...

Gendo: (phone) No. Do not transmit the warning.

Gendo: (phone) They forfeited their right to such a luxury when they invaded our airspace. Classify the threat as an 'unknown target'..

Gendo: (phone) You worry too much, Fuyutsuki. We may make our apologies later... if asked.

Gendo: (phone) But I doubt the old men will.

(Gendo Ikari hangs up the phone.)

Gendo: (thinking) SEELE ..

Gendo: (thinking) Do they want the complement? Perhaps..

Gendo: (thinking) Far more importantly, they still have informants within NERV..

Gendo: (thinking) And they have willingly sacrificed many to alert us to that fact..

Gendo: (thinking) In this latest manuver do the old men seek to make us overly confident?

Gendo: (thinking) Then what form will their vengeance take next?

(Ikari turns his attention back to the dark ground below.

At length, his phone rings once more.)

Gendo: (phone) Yes?

Gendo: Unit One? I see.

Gendo: Yes. Remember to take the appropriate personel. The second child must not interfere with the recovery of the complement and the first.

(Gendo reaches under his left shoulder, shifting the holstered pistol there to a more comfortable position as he returns the phone to its handset, staring out at the dark earth far below.)

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

Hyuga: Unit One is two minutes from the third recovery zone.

Misato: (to radio) Asuka, you're running out of cable. At the entrance you'll find another power node.

Asuka: (radio) Roger.

Hyuga: (Quietly) Of course, we don't even know if she can find the third child..

Misato: I guess we'll see. It's hardly up to us, anyway.

(Suddenly, the intercom by the door crackles, breaking in with sound.)

Fuyutsuki: (intercom) Major Katsuragi?

Hyuga: It's the Vice-Commander..

Misato: Shut off the intercom.

Fuyutsuki: (intercom) This action will only -

(Fuyutsuki's voice is cut off as the intercom is deactivated.)

Misato: You killed the power to the doors, right?

Hyuga: (nodding grimly) Just after we launched Unit One. The doors will hold; at least until they bring in any heavy equipment.

Misato: We have to buy Asuka as much time as possible.

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

(Darkness..

The sensation of cold..

.. a wetness on the hands.. the face..

.. a bright flash of light.. a crackle.. thunder..

.. hours pass in a haze of water, cold, rain, thunder.. cold..

.. cold..

.. cold..

.. numb feet stumble, a figure collapses to its knees.. rises once more.. staggers.. pain in its haunted eyes as it continues onwards, shambling in the torrential rain, blinded by the lightning.. or perhaps her tears.)

Rei: ..

(It is clear she has been walking - or is it staggering? - throughout the day, dispite the weather. Over her shoulders, the small figure of Tenkei clings, pale and shivering from the forced carriage through the cold day. And now it is evening - water from the recent rain still sparkles in the branches and on leaves of the trees, faceless obstacles that Rei Ayanami now bashes through in an insane trek.. her red eyes fixed on something only she can see.

A shape..

A blur of motion..

.. someone coming towards her..

.. catching up to her..

.. NO!!... must.. continue..

.. rough hands grab her shoulders..

.. someone calling her name..

.. Ikari?)

Voice: Ayanami!

Rei: ..

Shinji: REI!

(It is Shinji, with Kensuke in tow - after a heroic struggle the pair have managed to outpace the exhausted girl and have caught up with her. It is Shinji that is grabbing at her shoulders, trying to stop her in her mindless march as she shakes her head, eyes glazed, and tries to walk through him.. Kensuke adds his strength to Shinji, trying to bring the shivering figure to a stop..)

Kensuke: (cursing) ..! she's soaked through!

(The boys apply their strength, bringing Rei to a halt in the middle of a loamy forest clearing. As soon as her forward motion is stopped, Rei seems to fold, her legs giving way as she collapses in a sopping heap in Shinji's arms.. the limp figure of Tenkei sliding off her back to flop into Kensuke's startled grasp..)

Kensuke: Shinji.. I..

Shinji: (quietly) Kensuke..

Kensuke: Damn Shinji they're freezing! .. they're nearly DEAD! (urgently) We gotta take 'em back!

Shinji: Make a fire..

(Kensuke looks at the trees all around - gauging the possibilty of finding any sort of dry fire material in the damp wilderness..)

Kensuke: A fire.. here? Now?

Shinji: (shouting, furious) DO IT!

(Kensuke jumps backwards, shock written plainly all over his face. Shinji is too busy to notice - frantically he rubs Rei's shoulders and upper arms in an attempt to warm her up, his gaze never leaving her shivering face, frightening in its intensity as he regards her bluish lips and chattering teeth..)

Shinji: (desperately) .. please..

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

(With a groan of fractured steel, the door gives; NERV security pour into the control room, pistols at the ready. Misato and Hyuga, however, offer no resistance. They stand and raise their hands as the men in dark suits take control of the room.

Fuyutsuki enters, his face impassive with restrained anger.)

Fuyutsuki: (quiet) What did you think you were doing, Major?

(Misato doesn't answer as the replacement technical crew enters. Shigeru is among them - he gives Hyuga and Misasto a startled glance, but doesn't speak. Instead, he sits at the console, resigned to his duty.)

Fuyutsuki: (to Shigeru) Where is Unit One now?

Shigeru: The Eva has just reached the third recovery zone. The pilot in engaging the power node at that location.

Fuyutsuki: (surprise) What? Unit One has no need for external power.

Shigeru: It would appear that the S2 engine isn't functioning.

Fuyutsuki: That will make this easier. Cut all power to the external grid. Shut down the Eva nodes in all locations.

Shigeru: ..Yes sir.

(As Shigeru begins processing the protocols for such an action, Fuyutsuki heads for the phone. He dials.)

Fuyutsuki: (to phone) Ikari? We're in.

Gendo: (phone) Good. Where is Evangelion Unit One?

Fuyutsuki: (to phone) It's beyond the city, just past the third recovery zone. It's S2 engine isn't functioning..

Gendo: (phone) That is.. fortunate. Have you disengaged the external power to the Eva?

Fuyutsuki: (to phone) The crews are working on it now. (sighs in relief) We made it.

Gendo: (phone) It would have been of no consequence either way - It is almost over.

Fuyutsuki: (to phone) You've found them?

Gendo: (phone) They will be returned shortly.

Fuyutsuki: (phone) Good. Let's keep this as neat as we can. I'll head out to your location with the containment crews.

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

(An alarm tone goes off inside the entry plug.)

- EXTERNAL POWER - LOST -

- RE ENGAGING . . .

FAILED

- POWER CABLE INPUT: 0.01 % OPTIMIMUM -

Asuka: (alarmed) What the hell?

- TIME REMAINING AT PRESENT GAINLOAD -

01:43:82

Asuka: Under two minutes! (to radio) Misato.. what's happening?

Shigeru: (radio) Unit One, your external power has been cut. Remain in your present location and await shutdown. Recovery teams will be-

(Asuka shuts off the radio and hunches forward, her face grim. The white gauze wrapping her ankle slips and falls away in the dampness of the LCL; she ignores it.)

Asuka: Damn it, Shinji..

(Evangelion Unit 01 bounds forwards, it's purple form eating up kilometres at an incredible pace. It's arms pump by it's sides as the pilot desparately tries to cover the distance before the litle power that remains vanishes.

But after a scarce minute of sprinting, the power fails.)

Asuka: (desparate) No, not now!

(The Eva's automatic mechanical locks pull it's torso back, balancing the massive creature as the final reserves of power fade. Unit 01 bows its head - rain patters down on it's armoured form.

The third stage connection is lost - Asuka is left sitting in the blank-walled plug, blind to the outside.)

Asuka: (anger) Damn it! Why did they have to stop me?!

Asuka: (anger) Why couldn't this stupid thing work!

Asuka: (anger) Why did that jerk have to run off after.. after her!

Asuka: (voice fading) After that.. doll..

(The plug is lit only by the bland yellow light. Asuka grips the handle controls tightly, her hands shaking with rage and frustration..

..and the bitter feeling of failure.)

Asuka: (shouting) Damn it, no! Not again!

Asuka: (losing strength) Not now..

(The girl falls silent, letting her head drop down as she still clings to the controls. Around her, the Eva is as quiet as the grave.)

Asuka: (softly) They're coming for me right now..

Asuka: (thinking) They're going to pull me out like a criminal..

Asuka: (thinking) I'm not going to be able to pilot again..

Asuka: (softly) Shinji..

(Auska stiffens and gives voice to a shocked scream of pain as something reaches out and grabs her mind.)

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

(Fingers that can only be seen in the mind's eye reach into the recesses of the new creature's brain. Images, voices, feelings and pains float upwards.)

Shinji?

No. Another. I would have known, if it were Shinji...

Then..

..who are you?

(The presence touches the alien mind again, feeling around it's contours as the tiny presence cringes back.)

I have felt this presence..

Another.. not Shinji..

What is this mind?

What is this presence?

Why are you doing this?

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

(Evangelion.

Born from Adam - made in man's own image, from the memory of a lost god.

Science - the fruit of the tree of knowledge - was used to the utmost to give birth to the Evas. The power of science was bent to the labourious task of the resurrection of Adam.

But science failed. Humankind aquired a being that was like a god, but only copied that God's body. His body was not the source of his power.

The power that emanated from his soul, the power of a complete being.

The Evangelion series are without dominant souls - substitutes for such things must be found.

And so, pilots are chosen. Without the pilots, and without the massive power-cables that enable control of the beasts, the Evas are helpless - giant empty husks of flesh, encased in armour. Caged beasts, with only the most basic sentience.

But not Unit 01.

Because it has taken a soul into itself.)

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

Voice: Why are you doing this?

Asuka: (defiant) I have to find Shinji!

Voice: Why are you doing this?

Asuka: (angry) I have to! I have to get to Shinji before they do!

Voice: Why are you doing this?

Asuka: (shouting) They asked me to! Misato, and Hyuga!

Voice: Why are you doing this?

Asuka: (shouting) I need to show them that I'm better than what they think!

Voice: Why are you doing this?

Asuka: (shouting) I'm not useless! I'm not a failure!

Voice: Why are you doing this?

Asuka: (shouting) I can do anything the Shinji can!

Voice: Does he succeed where you fail? Did you do this to show that you can tame Eva One?

Asuka: (quieter) It.. it could be true.. but that's not all of it..

Voice: What else?

Asuka: ..It's Shinji.. he's going to hurt himself again.

Voice: Is he?

Asuka: Yes! He's going to lead his father right to Rei! He doesn't want to, but he's setting himself up for it! Like he always does!

Voice: Why does he do this?

Asuka: (angry) The jerk is a compulsive failure! He'll sabotage himself at every chance he gets! He fights when he can't possibly win!

Voice: No, he doesn't.

Asuka: Yeah he does! He's sick! He hurts himself on purpose! He thinks he's happy being like he is, but it's just because he's too scared to try to change it!

Voice: That may be Shinji. But it is certainly you.

Asuka: (angered) What did you say?

Voice: You think you are happy. You hurt yourself. You fight to lose.

Asuka: (shouting) Shut up!

Voice: You are afraid.

Asuka: (shouting) Shut up!

Voice: That is what you do. You battle all things in your path - even those who would only seek to help you.

Asuka: (shouting) Shut up! He's going to be his father's pawn again.. and he's going to hate himself for it! He's going to carry this around for the rest of his life!

Voice: Why do you care?

Asuka: I.. I have to live with the jerk! I don't want to have to put up with his self-pity!

Voice: You don't have to live with him. You can leave at any time you wish it.

Asuka: (hesitates) ..That's not the point!

Voice: You don't want to see him like that?

Asuka: No! I'm not a sadist! I don't enjoy him being in pain!

Voice: And yet, you force yourself to pain.

Asuka: No, I don't!

Voice: You chose to pilot Unit One, even though you knew it would ultimately reject you.

Asuka: No, I didn't!

Voice: You wanted yourself to fail. Why is that?

Asuka: (shouting) SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!!

Voice: Have you come to expect such from yourself? Have you convinced yourself of this?

Asuka: (screaming) WHY CAN'T YOU SHUT UP!?

Voice: Will you continue to berate yourself until others are also convinced?

Asuka: (screaming) JUST GO AWAY!!

Voice: You have failed again. Did you fail so you could say "I tried.. and failed.. all because of you"?

Asuka: (screaming) I DON'T WANT TO FAIL AGAIN!!

Voice: Is this what you wish to be?

Asuka: (screaming) I WANT TO FIND SHINJI! WHY CAN'T YOU HELP ME FIND SHINJI!?

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

(The eyes of the giant snap open, burning with the fire within.

Power returns to Unit 01 in a sudden surge as the S2 engine flares into life. Asuka gasps, throwing herself back in the plug seat as all of the Eva's systems return to optimal status.)

Asuka: (slowly) Oh.. mein Gott..

(A dull thudding slowly reaches her ears.. making ripples in the LCL as the plug shakes from the impacts..

.. thud thud..

.. thud thud..

.. thud thud..

It is the beat of a gigantic heart.)

- S2 ENGINE ACTIVE -

- POWER STATUS - 90 % MAXIMUM RECORDED OUTPUT -

- INTERNAL BATTERIES RESTORED -

- ALL SYSTEMS OPERATION -

- TIME REMAINING -

88:88:88

(Asuka only sits in the seat for a second as she feels the blood rushing back into the Eva's limbs - the sensation fed back into the pilot's nerves as the tingling sensation of pins and needles. Strength returns to Unit 01's starved muscles; in a few seconds, the creature restores itself, rising up to its full height.)

Asuka: ..Okay.. lets see what this thing can do..

(Remembering the excercies she and Shinji had gone through a few days before, Asuka bends her head forward.)

-(flashback)- A feeling, a sensation, a smell..

-(flashback)- The field generating by Shinjij expands, touching that of Unit 02. The fields begin to merge, their phase spaces overlapping..

-(flashback)-Asuka: (shouting) It smells like Shinji!

Asuka: Come on, Asuka..

(As Asuka strains with her mind to work the ability, the Eva's AT field expands, flattening the wet soils beneath it and pushing back the rain above. Asuka's face contorts with concentration.)

Asuka: You can do it Asuka.. even Lyn did this..

(After what seems an eternity of concentrating, the field shimmers - and expands.)

Asuka: (triumphant) Done it!

(The field shifts it's very substance as it flows and rolls out over the terrain. Asuka frowns again, directing the field out in front of her, then slowly sweeping it across her field of vision..

..a feeling, like one's hands have somehow bent around the Earth's girth, reaching..

..hundreds of 'smells' reach Asuka's mind, but she ignores all but a few that seem familiar..

..an image - a flame - a fire. Crackling about thin sticks of wood, leaping and dancing..

..a face - framed with pale hair, with eyes glowing golden in the firelight..

..a smell..)

Asuka: ..Shinji?

(Fear..

.. pain..

.. worry..

.. horror..

.. cold..

.. so cold..)

Asuka: Shinji, NO!

(Evangelion Unit 01 leaps forward again at a sprint, great clods of grass torn from the ground as the Unit surges ahead, the giant form lost quickly in the rain-soaked twilight.)

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

Kensuke: I could take the first watch, y'know.

(A small campsite slowly takes shape as the night takes hold. The ground is still wet from the recent rains, and four figures huddle around a small campfire, trying to keep warm.)

Shinji: No.. its alright. I'll take care of.. things.

(Kensuke stares at his friend for a long moment before finally surrendering with poor grace, turning stiffly towards the newly erected tent..)

Kensuke: .. Okay.. but wake me in a few hours for the second watch.

Kensuke: (thinking) I hope you're in a better mood by then..

(With no more to say, the boy turns and enters the tent, shaking his head, muttering under his breath. Shinji barely spares him a glance - his full attention on the pair sitting on the log next to him.

Rei and Tenkei are bundled up beneath a picnic blanket - their dripping clothes hanging from nearby tree limbs. Tenkei sits on Rei's lap, cuddled beneath the warm fabric, both still shivering slightly at the cold. The blanket offers more than modest cover - its mass hanging in thick, warm folds over the pair that try desperately to purge the chill from their bones. For all that Shinji cares, they could be sitting there naked - his gaze is fixed only on the face of Rei, who seems to be staring thoughtfully into the fire, the warm red glow reflected not unexpectedly in the color of her eyes.

The darkness covers the site like a great cloak, the small fire the only source of light and warmth for miles around. Tokyo-3 itself has been left far behind, the artificial illumination long since vanished behind rolling hills.

Rei blinks, once, breaking Shinji from the trance. Shaking his head slightly, the pilot of EVA-01 reaches over to the fireplace, pouring a steaming mix from a billy into a ceramic cup. Gravely, Shinji offers the cup to the pair, and Rei accepts.. with a suprisingly gentle smile.)

Rei: .. thank you.

Shinji: (softly) It's alright.. be careful though.. its hot.. and it's the only cup Kensuke brought.

Rei: ..

Shinji: .. we left in a hurry.

Rei: .. so.. did we.

(Rei shifts slightly, cradling the mug in bot hands. Sitting in her lap, the child Tenkei is holding his hands out to the fire, trying to warm himself up as the cup is lowered before him.)

Tenkei: .. Rei?

(The boy speaks slowly, fumbling once more for words, his shyness around strangers clearly showing.)

Rei: Drink..

(The child eyes the proffered liquid for a time before leaning forward, taking a tentative sip from the small mug.. his yellow eyes become round and he smiles up at the elder boy.)

Tenkei: ladheedh.. it.. is good.

Shinji: (embarrased) umm.. thank you.

(A silence falls over the group, punctuated only by the sharp crackle of drying twigs. The fire, formed of haste from damp materials, is beginning to catch and grow, drying the pile of fuel. Shinji stares into the fire, as if trying to fathom its depths, unconciously imitating the fixated gaze of Rei but moments before. This time, it is Rei who breaks the silence..)

Rei: You came.. after us.

Shinji: ..

Rei: .. why?

Shinji: ..

Rei: Do you think it is wrong for us to run away?

Shinji: (pause) No.. its okay.. if you were running away.

(The pilot continues to gaze into the crackling flames - his only movement a wave of the hand at the damp surroundings, indicating the forest still cold from the afternoon storm.)

Shinji: This is more like suicide.

(There is a long pause as Rei slowly ponders the statement, weighing her response.)

Rei: I'm not.. afraid any more.

Shinji: So why did you want to do this?

(Rei falls silent as she regards the crackling fire. The quiet drags on.. Shinji waiting nervously for an answer. He draws a deep breath and is about to expand on his question when Rei finally answers..)

Rei: I'm not..

Shinji: ..

Rei: I'm not his doll.. I want..

Shinji: ..

Rei: (struggling) I want.. to be.. with..

Shinji: .. (holding his breath)

Rei: .. with my son.

(Her hands tighten around Tenkei as she clings to his small form. On the log next to her, Shinji's mouth sags open in utter astonishment - of all the answers he expected, this was obviously the last thing he was waiting, or prepared, to hear.. He closes his eyes briefly, fighting the urge to blink back sudden tears, fighting not to give in to a sudden, unexpected anger.. after a long, introspective moment he turns at last from the fire to face her..)

Shinji: You mean he's your..

(The pause drags out as Rei looks down, considering her answer in silence..)

Rei: No.. but it is how we feel about eachother.

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

(The night passes slowly, the moon rising from behind the hills to hang like a pale ghost over a black sea. In this dark sea, the single glimmer of a fire burns for a long time, illuminating three figures who talk long into the night.

At length, the glimmer fades, and the figures stand, a pair taking to the small tent as another emerges, yawning, to greet the lone figure which still sits before the few, flickering embers. The two talk for a while, huddling around what little warmth remains..

.. totally oblivious of the figures, little more than shadows among shadows, that watch their every move.)

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

(Asuka continues running, Unit 01 leaving a path of pulvurized ground from the impacts of it's tremendous weight. The soft ground hampers the journey as giant feet sink several metres into the ground, only to be torn up into the next step, ripping giant clods of soil and foliage out of the earth.

The concentration required to pilot the Unit, combined with a lack of sleep, is taking its toll - the second child has begun commenting at nothing in particular, absently noting stray facts and thinking out loud..)

Asuka: Okay Asuka! Now.. where is he?

(The Eva plows to stop, and once again bows its head. This time, the exercise is easier - the field flows outwards almost of it's own will, and the scents and sensations roll back into Asuka's consciousness.)

Asuka: Where are you, Shinji..

(She pushes the field out, far ahead, searching for the familiar touch.. no, smell.. of the third child.)

Asuka: What are you feeling..

(Sweeping across the country side, the AT field gently samples each mind it touches... of which there are rather few..

a mind here, a brave camper in the wilderness..

there, a large, dark suited figure with a flashlight..

hang on?..

no..

wait..

there!..

A campfire! Its him.. its them!)

Asuka: That.. that.. Dummkopf! He's caught up with her.. he's doing their work for them..

(Campfire.. warmth.. safety..)

Asuka: (to herself) What were you thinking.. idiot..

(Caring.

Trust.

Warmth.

Quiet.

Understanding.

Love.

Rei.

Rei.

Rei.)

Asuka: ..

(The field shatters as Asuka's concentration is flooded by sudden, certain knowledge. Every hint, every clue, every action or word that Shinji has ever said is instantly understood in horrible entirety.)

-(flashback)- Asuka: Why don't you ask Wondergirl?

-(flashback)- Shinji: (embarrassed) Rei and I have already talked about it.

-(flashback)- Rei: (shouting) I want to see my son!

-(flashback)- Shinji looking over the pool in NERV central at Rei as the girl dries herself.

-(flashback)- Shinji cradling Rei in the car as she bleeds.

-(flashback)- Shinji heading up to fight the 16th Angel - to save Rei.

-(flashback)- Unit 01 in cryo-stasis as Asuka is trapped in the light of the 15th Angel.

-(flashback)- Asuka: Am I so worthless you couldn't do this for me?

-(flashback)- Misato Katsuragi's apartment. Rei and Shinji perfectly execute the synchronization exercise that she could not.

-(flashback)- Rei: (concerned) But Unit One and Shinji are still in there!

-(flashback)- Shinji watching Rei in class.

(The flood of memories pouring out of the recesses of Asuka's mind join with the feelings flowing out of the darkness. A dreadful symphony reaches the girl's ears, deafening her with a percieved truth. At the last, a memory flows forth, a memory that cannot possibly be hers..)

-(flashback)- The sensation of falling.. a tumble forwards, undergarments flung in a high arc from a dressing drawer. A sudden landing on something soft.. and rather warm..

-(flashback)- Rei: Will you get off?

Suddenly, Asuka is absolutely convinced..

..and there can only be one response.)

Asuka: (shouting) SHINJI! I AM GOING TO KILL YOU!!!

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

Kensuke: So.. this is all about the kid?

Shinji: (wearily) Yeah.. dammit.. can't you let me sleep?

(The weariness in Shinji's tone makes it pretty clear this is about the fourth time he's answered the question. Kensuke, his companion on their hurried 'camping trip', is seated on the same log that Rei and Tenkei shared a few hours ago. He gazes into the dying embers of the fire, absently poking it with a stick as if disbelieving what lies before his very eyes.)

Kensuke: .. that kid is an Eva pilot?

Shinji: .. yeah.

Kensuke: Oh man, why don't they ever pick me? Even some little kid!

Shinji: ..

Kensuke: .. I'd rather have stayed home and let Sohryu beat me up..

(Shinji rolls over to face the fire, deliberately turning his back on his friend, hunkering down in an attempt to sleep.)

Kensuke: At least we got here in time.. a few more hours and they'd be goners.. right Shinji?

Shinji: ..

Kensuke: .. Shinji?

(The boy leans over, poking his friend with the stick experimentally..)

Shinji: mmphh.. wha..?

Kensuke: I said its lucky we got here in time..

(Shinji slowly rolls back to face his friend, resigned now to a sleepless night..)

Shinji: I guess.. thanks for.. coming in such a hurry..

Kensuke: Hey, it's no problem. Sohryu'll be waiting for me when I get back..

Shinji: Yeah.. she won't settle for one beating, neither..

(Kensuke slowly pales as the truth of his own statement sinks in. Nervously he pokes at the embers of the fire, causing a little flare up which reflects in his circular rimmed glasses. Pushing the glasses up his nose with a finger, he changes the subject with the same deftness..)

Kensuke: So.. why were you in such a rush to get out here? You were moping about for days at school..

Shinji: ..

Kensuke: Anyone would think you had a thing for Rei.. no wonder Sohryu's so pissed..

Shinji: ..! No.. its not..

Kensuke: .. she probably fell out of a tree and sprained her ankle spying on you two..

Shinji: Kensuke! It's not like that!

(The younger, spectacled boy leans in close at the strength of Shinji's reaction. Smiling slightly, as if gaining a small victory, he prods the Eva pilot with the stick again, trying to nudge words out of him..)

Kensuke: Then what is it like, Shinji? Come on.. you can trust Corporal Aida.. my lips are sealed..

(Shinji looks sourly at his friend, then feels the prodding of the stick a third time, realising that he won't be allowed any peace without offering some sort of an explanation.)

Shinji: .. I don't know.. its like..

Kensuke: ..

Shinji: .. the last couple of days I've felt bad.. like she was in trouble.. I dunno.. I guess she's like a..

(Shinji abruptly stops, realising what his next word was going to be. He coughs, gulps, and hastily finishes with a slightly different word than what had almost escaped..)

Shinji: .. she's a really close friend, Kensuke.. I know when something's wrong..

Kensuke: Oh..

Shinji: .. yeah.

Kensuke: I thought for a moment you were going to say 'Mother'.. or 'Sister'..

Shinji: ..

(Kensuke is blithely ignorant of Shinji's growing embarrasment about the subject.. instead, he continues prattling on as if nothing untoward has been said..)

Kensuke: .. but being a mother.. (slight laugh) now that's Hikari's job..!

Shinji: .. and right now she'd be telling you to let me sleep.

(Abruptly, the younger boy realises his mistake and blushes, hurriedly rising to his feet, brushing with feigned care at the leaves and grass that stain his trousers.)

Kensuke: Oh.. yeah I guess you're right.. maybe I should stand guard.. In case NERV has been following us..

Shinji: (dryly) Good idea..

(Kensuke heads over to his pack and slowly rummages around inside it, at length withdrawing a large, boxy item which shines in the dimness...

The sight of the item makes Shinji sit up, all trace of sleep forgotten as he eyes it.

It is a 9mm pistol.)

Shinji: Kensuke.. what the hell is that?

Kensuke: This? (waving the pistol - Shinji ducks on cue) Its a fake.

Shinji: .. fake?

Kensuke: Yeah!

(As if to emphasise his point, he aims the weapon, sharpshooter style with both hands, and pulls the trigger. A plastic click and a faint, electronic "bang!" noise comes from the "gun". A broad smile manifests itself beneath Kensuke's glasses.)

Kensuke: Guess I'll go on duty now.

(Kensuke salutes holding his arm ramrod stiff for a while before turning smartly on his heel, striding off into the darkness - the "perimeter" - leaving the young pilot behind with his thoughts for company.)

Shinji: ..

(In the distance, Kensuke can be heard.. muttering something.. but the third child's thoughts are obviously elsewhere. In a short while, he has completely forgotten about the "soldier" wandering the perimiter of the makeshift camp, lost in a revelation of his own..)

Shinji: A sister..

(Shinji pauses briefly after the statement, a soft smile slowly spreading across his face. He lays back on his bedroll and looks up at the sky, still smiling, his eyelids slowly closing as sleep begins to take hold once more...)

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


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