-(flashback)- Lyn: Look, can you call me?
(The sixth child waits at the main gate of the school. With his bag over his shoulder, he steps out of the way of the students who are arriving as he watches for the arrival of one certain student.)
-(flashback)- Lyn: Please call me.
Lyn: (thinking) She didn't call.
Lyn: (thinking) Maybe she didn't hear my message..?
(It isn't the first time this possibility has occurred to him. With nothing to do but wait, many possible - and sometimes horrible - thoughts have passed by.)
Lyn: (thinking) What if she did?
Lyn: (thinking) What if she didn't want to call back?
(The boy is silent as he thinks, almost absently stepping aside for arriving students, his face creased in thought..
So deep in his thoughts is he that his eyes do not pick her out of the crowd when she appears.)
Lyn: (noticing) ..
(All of his thoughts, all of the doubts that Lyn has felt over the past few days, every way to apologise or condemn that he has imagined; they all scatter - Aoi presence flattens them, and Lyn is left without words.)
(The girl moves forward, silencing Lyn with a single step.)
Aoi: I got your message.
Lyn: Are you-
(The school bell rings with alarming suddenness, causing both of them to jump. But a scant moment later, neither child has moved towards the school.
After a long moment, a smile breaks out on Aoi's face.)
Aoi: Come on, Six, we'll be late for class.
(He sees the smile on her lips, and hears the humor in her voice - Lyn almost laughs in relief, falling into step with Aoi as she follows the stream of students. Anouilh tries hard to hide the smile on his face - and then decides not to hide it.
Aoi looks over, seeing his expression.)
Aoi: So.. you're not mad anymore?
(Lyn hesitates at the tone in her voice - despite her initial smile, despite the brave face, she is still cautious, and, it seems, still vulnerable.)
Lyn: No.. not mad.
Lyn: Just tired. Of missing you.
(They reach the building; among them, teenagers shuffle indoors, out of the light and into their education. Aoi looks about, then turns to Lyn.)
Aoi: Wait, there's .. something I've got to do.
Lyn: (surprised) .. um.. what?
Aoi: (serious) Wait for me. I'll just be a moment.
(Aoi silences his objections with a gentle hand on his shoulder. Taking in her expression, the boy nods, trusting - and obediently waits by the entrance as Aoi hurries off. The Sixth Child relaxes slightly as the Seventh departs - a feeling of tension released as the girl disappears around a corner.
While they have yet to speak of what had come between them both, they are - at least - together again. For now, for Lyn, it is enough.
Hikari Horaki waits around the corner, just out of sight and bubbling with enthusiasm as Aoi comes into view. Having stationed herself to watch the unfolding of a 'trap' planned together on the way to school, Hikari has seen everything. Aoi - with Lyn unavailable - had, at the last minute, turned to the only other person she had spoken to recently.. and confided in Hikari Horaki.)
Hikari: You were great!
Aoi: (grinning) He missed me.
Hikari: Well, that's some of your problems out of the way - how does it feel?
Aoi: Great! (seriously) Thanks for covering for me.. and helping me out..
Hikari: There's no problem..
Aoi: Yeah, but .. I should have been at school at least.
Hikari: (blushing slightly) Really.. don't worry about it, I understand what it's like.. does this mean you've worked it out?
Aoi: Worked what out?
Hikari: The problem you two were having.. what did start it, anyway?
Aoi: Well.. I really can't tell you.
Aoi: It's NERV stuff.
(Hikari instantly nods - as the responsible class representative, she often finds herself with the task - sometimes difficult - of setting a good example. The other students in class have always been a pressure on the pilots about their lives at NERV, but Hikari Horaki always abstains from even mentioning the subject when around the children in question.
Even in her friendship with Asuka, she had never tried to wheedle information out of the Second Child. Hikari's nod is not so much a conscious choice as it is a self-trained reaction.)
Hikari: Then it's not a problem any more?
(Aoi Tamashii bites her lower lip, looking to one side.)
Aoi: Not exactly.. I suppose it's still a problem, if Lyn asks about it..
Aoi: But it'll be okay.
Hikari: (frowning) Are you sure?
(Aoi looks at the girl questioningly, tilting her head slightly.)
Hikari: Something must have been pretty bad, Aoi. I know it's better now - I saw Lyn's face.. (smiling) And I saw yours, too.
Hikari: (smile fades) But it's not as if you two had just a little argument - something was really wrong.
Hikari: If you two don't talk about it, then-
Aoi: (interrupts) You don't have to tell me about it.
Hikari: I'm just saying that you should forgive and for-
Aoi: (coldly) I know.
(Hikari looks at the girl sharply - Aoi's eyes are hard and angry. Tamashii almost glares at the class representative - then drops her gaze.)
Aoi: (apologetic) I'm sorry.
Hikari: (startled) ..
Aoi: I didn't mean to be.. rude.
Hikari: (hesitating) It's okay..
Aoi: It's just he and I just.. we're just now able to talk again. I don't want to think about what might go wrong, okay?
Hikari: I know..
(Aoi sighs and leans back against the wall of the building, hugging her bag to her stomach.)
Aoi: I just don't want to go back just yet.
Hikari: (eyes lowered) I know.. I understand.. but.. if you don't fix it soon, it will just make it worse..
Aoi: (desperately) Can't I just be happy that he's back? Why does it have to be forgive and forget - why can't we just forget for a little while?
(The Class Representative bites her lip, duplicating Aoi's expression of a few moments ago. Her thoughts are, at that moment, not of Aoi - but instead, Hikari Horaki remembers another friend, one currently absent from school.. a girl who, like many, tried simply to 'forget' for a while.)
Hikari: (sighing) It doesn't work..
(The display in the corner of the laptop screen reads 11:58 am.
Thursday night - four days, since Shinji and Asuka were taken from her; Misato continues her search.
The decryption chip - a tiny device of metal and silicon, given to her by a friend long dead - is now buried in the workings of this same laptop - Misato's personal computer. Katsuragi knows the power of the chip, of its capacity to break even the Magi's encryption, and has spent time preparing for a task of this nature.
NERV would not look kindly on Misato's possession of the chip - a potential key to back door of their powerful computer mainframe. NERV would not look kindly on what Misato is planning on doing.. using that key.
It had taken patience for her to find the files - the Magi systems are vast, and she only has Hyuga's notes to guide her. It proves more difficult to simlutaneously follow the console operator's scribble and cover her tracks from the system watchdogs.)
(Focused on the task at hand, she scans quickly over the directories, uncertain of how long she will have alone in the second analysis room. Although the dark chamber is not used nearly as often as the primary control room of Central Dogma, or the cage or synch test laboratories, it is not strange for the technical staff to use the second analysis room to revise data. In fact, that is exactly what the chamber is used for.
Which was why it has an access port into the Magi mainframe - to access the information. And the access port is exactly what Misato needs.)
(What she wants is files - a series of entries, under the heading 0057732-882-85362-9 TTEVA-07.
EVA-07. Unit 07. The Evangelion that, according to Maya, had failed in its birth.)
Misato: (reading) ..
Report number 56 Division Leader: Maya Ibuki
The development of the Test-Type's nervous system is proceeding four percent ahead of schedule. This ongoing trend of accelerated growth appears to be the result of the continued AT field experiments; this assumption is based on the fact that the growth 'spurts' occur immediately after the updated RAM samples of the second and third children were loaded into the test plugs.
As the recorded data is downloaded, the neural structure follows the pathways set out in the RAM samples of the pilots. Although this does not differ from the standard development of the Eva Units -
(Misato skips onwards, trying to find something she can work with. She quickly runs through the report. Then the next. And the next.)
Although a RAM sample can allow for specified parameters, such as a pilot's mental state, it is still relatively fixed, unchanging; locked to the parameters of its cycle. Subsequently, when the fixed samples from both pilots were introduced to the Test-Type simultaneously, there was no major disturbances in the pattern - RAM, after all, will not respond to another RAM sample.
Active pilots, on the other hand, respond to external stimuli. A pilot, unlike a RAM sample, will experience extreme changes in emotional and mental states, resulting in a dynamic and ever-changing pattern. Thus, when the signals of two pilots are combined, their inherit instability and sensitivity to each other would result in an exponentially increased disturbance, leading to rejection from the Test Type.
Contrary to theoretical expectations, this was not the case - the second and third child were capable of simultaneously interacting with the Eva. Although at time of this writing, the interaction is not yet a simultaneous physical interface, this simple fact does not allow for many possible explanations.
The waveform of each pilot's AT field is unique - and yet these two candidates have only the barest margin dividing them. My first suggestion is to immediately remove the pilots from the combat roster and begin treatment, in case this condition results in any sort of injury. The anomaly itself may be an injury.
Most likely -
(And yet further on in the text..)
Could this be used to create a duel AT field? Until the advent of the Angel designated ROZGIEL, this was thought to be impossible - more than one identity would, by definition, defy synchronization. Perhaps this is the answer to the recent difficulties? The duality exhibited by the Israfel genome, the source of EVA-07, has already shown promise for future research in this area.
It had long been believed that the abilities utilized by the Angels were beyond the capacities of Eva and her pilots - controlled regeneration and flight as examples. Beyond the unstable behavior of Unit 01 and what limited results that have been achieved through the use of the Ev.N. complement, Angelic capacities were thought to be the sole province of the Angels and the more recent arrivals.
These are not activities that the human brain is trained to handle - this is evidenced by the difficulty experienced by pilots in performing even the most basic 'control' of their AT fields. Utmost caution must be insured if any advances are to be made in this area.
(More reports follow. Misato reads on, noting the 'feel' of the reports, the language used.. it is certainly Maya's work, touched slightly with her love of science, and equally touched with technical jargon.
As she reads, Misato comes to realize something - Maya is not the villain.
Her words are honest, but not uncaring; many of her reports end in requests that the children be removed from the experiments.
In a slow, scientific method, she draws lines between facts and comes to tentative conclusions; but she does not know why she is being asked to supervise these experiments - only that she must.)
Misato: They planned this without her..
Misato: She's just picking up pieces of the puzzle.
(The Director's suspicions are confirmed as she stumbles across a report by the Vice-Commander of NERV..)
Report Number 17 Vice-Commander Kouzou Fuyutsuki
In accordance with the orders of Commander Ikari the latest set of catalyst experiments have been performed under the direction of Project-E Chairperson Maya Ibuki. Results were as expected; weaknesses showing up in both the Second and Third Child's AT Field projections. Full report at 0057732-421-92832-6 TTEVA-07.
(And then, in smaller case at the bottom:)
Both Ibuki and Katsuragi have reported anomalies in the experiments, which have been passed on to Commander Ikari and are now being held 'under consideration'. The EV.N. Complement had been intended to be used as a buffer to the process; but this deviation, the exclusion of the Complement, causes me some doubts as to the safety of the children. I hold some fears for their wellbeing.
The Project-E Chairperson and the Director of Operations are both, as yet, unaware of the true purpose of the experiments. As soon as possible I shall enlist the aid of the Chairperson, at least - for if things go as badly as I suspect, the preparations we have made in Room 714 will not be sufficient.
(There is nothing else - only this one, tantalizing hint to the greater scheme that Misato is now sure was present all along.
Yet her search is over. Relieved, Katsuragi leans back in her chair, disconnecting her laptop and switching off the terminal. The woman has finally found what she was looking for - something solid, a place, a room, somewhere she can find. Something she can finally work towards.
Room 714. Where her children have been hidden.)
Kensuke: Anyway.. I was thinking about how they haven't turned up for the past few days, and..
Touji: (interrupting) Hey.. look over there..
(As they walk across the schoolyard, Kensuke looks in the direction that Touji is pointing; there, sitting in shade from the noon sun, Lyn Anouilh and Aoi Tamashii sharing lunch - something that they had not done for the majority of the week.)
Kensuke: Anouilh looks relieved - I wonder what happened to him?
Touji: Huh? Oh. Hikari told me something about it earlier.
Kensuke: Whatever it was, it sure doesn't seem to be bothering either of them now.
(As they watch, the boys can see that the couple are talking; their gestures and expressions are calm, their smiles light-hearted. Lyn laughs at some comment of Aoi's, the sound muted by distance.
Kensuke: (thinking) Another lost soul..
(The two boys continue in their way, Touji leading his companion around the corner of one of the smaller building. Suddenly, it is revealed just where Touji has been heading - a small bench on the leeward side where Hikari Horaki sits, her lunch - and Touji's - in hand. She smiles as he approaches, but looks questioningly at Kensuke.)
Hikari: Hello, Mister Aida - Touji?
Touji: (gestures helplessly) Shinji hasn't turned up for the last few days, and Kensuke's got some wild theory about it.
(His expression darkens, indicating something else entirely: that because of Kensuke's wild theory, the smaller boy has followed Touji across the schoolyard.)
Kensuke: (intently) I was wondering if you had heard anything from Sohryu about it.
Hikari: No, Asuka's been away too.
Touji: They might be 'in on it' together.
Kensuke: You see? Asuka's been gone too. So that got me thinking a little.
Hikari: And what do you mean exactly, Touji?
Kensuke: What if it's some special NERV business? Training or something?
Touji: I didn't mean anything, really.
(The taller boy grins slightly, pointing with a thumb back over his shoulder as he remarks to Hikari.)
Touji: You know, Aoi and Lyn are around there again - you had something to do with it, didn't you?
(Kensuke, however, chatters on, enthralled in his theory. Hikari, the patient Class Representative, manages with some deftness to pay attention to both at the same time.)
Kensuke: Like that other time when they were doing that synchro-training? You remember that, Hikari?
Hikari: (smiling at Touji) Not much - Aoi and I did have a little talk, though. (to Kensuke) I remember, Kensuke.
Touji: One of those girl-to-girl things, huh?
Kensuke: (catching up) Hmm? So what was the problem with those two, anyway?
Touji: (frowning).. you know..
(The boy makes an obscure gesture with one hand, his brow furrowed. Kensuke looks on blankly for a moment, the sun glinting off his glasses, until finally something in him clicks.)
Kensuke: (startled) Oh, one of those things!
Hikari: (quietly) They had a problem over the weekend - I guess they weren't really sure about each other for a while.
Touji: But they're sure now?
Kensuke: They sure looked sure.
Touji: (grinning) As sure as people look anyway.
Kensuke: (sighing to himself) ..
(Maya Ibuki sits alone in one of the reserve control rooms in Central Dogma, staring at her terminal screen as if a persistent gaze would somehow yield answers.
At her sides sits a cup of coffee - the companion to all who spend late nights in the compound. The woman has been lost in her studies for several hours, working hard at the problem at hand.. trying one solution, and then discarding it in favour of another. She pauses as she takes a sip from the mug - a grimace briefly flaws her features. The coffee has cooled to lukewarm at best.
Putting the cup aside, she returns to her screen, her fingers at work on the keyboard as a third chance of a solution presents itself. Tapping a steady rhythm on the keys, the former Lieutenant watches as a simulated protein unravels on the screen and an experimental molecule - one of her own design - attempts to attach itself. The background blinks red and a small buzz sounds, indicating simulated rejection. Maya sighs, her head hanging forward as exhaustion begins to take its toll.
The sheets land squarely on the terminal, blocking the blinking red of the screen. A familiar, demanding voice breaks the silence of the empty room, hitting her like a cup of freezing water to the face.)
Misato: (coldly) What's the access number for Room 714?
(Maya's eyes widen, but she refuses to look up - instead, she takes careful note of the number running in bold across the top of the papers.
At the bottom of the page is a paragraph, circled in red marker - it is Fuyutsuki's report.)
Maya: (thinking) Then she knows..
Maya: (aloud) Where did you get this?
(The question seems to set off Misato - she almost shouts her response as her hand jabs at the report on the terminal.)
Misato: For God's sake, Maya, I thought you were better than this! What are they doing?
(For a moment, Maya is thankful that no one else is present in the Central Dogma control room to hear the Major's angered voice. The Chairperson's response is quiet, however.)
Maya: I can't tell you.
Misato: You can't tell me? You accept me to believe that?
Maya: Please, Major, don't put me in this position.
Misato: (fuming) ..
Maya: (honestly) We're doing everything we can, Miss Katsuragi. I can't help - I really can't. It's not up to me.
(Ibuki's words - her simple statement - seems to calm the Major slightly. Misato takes a step back, no longer intruding on the younger woman, and speaks again. This time, her voice is at a more normal volume.)
Misato: Just tell me the access number. I found out the room number, but I can't get through the passcode on the door. Tell me what it is.
Misato: Please, you've got to tell me.
Misato: (shouting) Damn it, you've got to know it!
Fuyutsuki: (calling out) Major?
(Both women turn - Fuyutsuki stands in the doorway, shoulder leaning on the same entryway Misato had used; perhaps he had followed her. Or perhaps it is simply coincidence.)
Fuyutsuki: Chairperson, could you come with us?
Misato: (confused) Commander?
Fuyutsuki: (seriously) Aren't you going to demand to access code, Major?
Fuyutsuki: I'm not going to ask how you were able to find out so much you have, but you've come this far.
(Maya stands up from her terminal, suddenly realizing.)
Maya: Sir? Are you sure?
Fuyutsuki: There's no real point in hiding it from her.. it would make things worse.
(And with that, it seems, it is decided. Misato follows Fuyutsuki and Ibuki as they exit main control, heading for an elevator.)
Misato: So.. Sir? Am I going to be told what's going on?
(Maya hits the button to call the elevator as Fuyutsuki answers the Major's question.)
Fuyutsuki: In a way.
(The elevator had already been on the floor - the bell chimes and the doors open almost immediately. The three step inside.)
Fuyutsuki: I had hoped.. that we would not have to show you this. At least, not until we had made some progress.
(Misato does not answer. Hard-eyed and tight-lipped, she watches the level numbers tick down.
The elevator stops only once during their descent - when the security system activates as they reach the 'sensitive' level of NERV central. Fuyutsuki's identity card confirms the order, and the elevator continues to sink deeper into the Geo-Front..
Another lurch - the lift has reached its destination.)
Maya: Major.. when you see them, please try to stay calm. We're doing everything that we can to help.
Fuyutsuki: (quietly) Their condition has worsened over the last few days.
(And the doors open.)
(Misato keeps an eye on Fuyutsuki as he punches in the code combination for the door - 211 382. Misato quickly memorizes the number in case she has to use it.)
Fuyutsuki: (grimly) Here we are.
(The door opens - the room beyond is dark, but even as Misato looks in, lights slowly begin to warm up, filling the room with a soft yellow glow.)
Fuyutsuki: We found that they were unusually.. sensitive to normal light. We've had to take steps.
Misato: (confused) Where are they?
(Misato's question is answered, but not by either of the scientists who accompany her. The light grows, slowly illuminating the three objects that dominate the room.
The first appears to be a modified console - equipment for monitoring and controlling whatever it is they do here in Room 714.
The other two objects.. blocky shapes, at least ten feet high and across..
..through the plexiglass, Misato can see that the fluid within is a dark, almost sick yellow - LCL? Perhaps. But drifting in the fluid, suspended by slender cables and harnesses, are the children.
Shinji's features are thin, exhausted, his eyes closed. The shirt he had been wearing in the hospital is still wrapped around him, the waistline rising in the LCL. Below, Misato can count out every rib of the third child's emaciated frame. Below his ribs..
A short length of vertebrae, with flesh still clinging precariously onto bone. But otherwise, nothing.
In the other tank is Asuka - the second child fares similarly - though nowhere near as badly. Parts of her head have shed her long red hair, and in some places, even scalp, revealing white bone beneath, yellow in the light.
The children drift in the LCL, dissolving into the fluid - looking for all the world like two aspirins in separate glasses of water.
Misato can merely stare - gaze locked on the tanks, her disbelieving eyes fixed on the pitiful remains of the two children that she had come to think of as family. This is what Misato had violated the security of the Magi for. This was the secret being hidden.
A part of her cringes away from the truth - a wave of sickness rushes up as the contents of her stomach writhe, the blood flooding away from her face, her cheeks turning pale. Stepping back, covering her mouth with one hand, Misato finds herself back in the doorway.
The corridor beckons - as an escape from the room, escape from the children, from the final, horrible truth.
Misato manages to stay in the doorway for a full second - before fleeing from the room, battling to hold control of her stomach. With her horrified, staggering footsteps fading down the corridor, Maya turns her head - her face equally pale - and moves after the Major, briefly speaking to Fuyutsuki as she leaves.)
Maya: (shortly) I'll help her.
(Fuyutsuki, however, remains in the blue light of the room, his eyes remaining on the broken figures of the children - of the agonizing means to an end that he can no longer justify to himself - the horror that he had helped come to pass.)
TO BE CONTINUED...