(Meanwhile, twenty kilometres west of where the pre-impact city of Aurillac, France, once stood...
... a car rolls to a halts before a gate. It is the first of a small convoy of vehicles - the following is a canopied millitary issue truck, and the third a compact armoured personel carrier. Their exact color is lost in the early-morning darkness - perhaps black, perhaps grey. The gate, however, is a relatively pale grey in the low light - it is a solid barrier of steel and plastic, waist high and a foot thick, enough to give most vehicles a very hard time in breaking through. If the gate were opened, the barrier would sink into the ground. Presently it is closed, denying the vehicles entry.
The passenger-side door of the car opens and a man emerges, quickly getting out and striding to the watch post. Behind the plexigrass screen, the guard on duty looks up in surprise; it's not often that the early morning shift gets this many visitors.
The figure approaches, a heavy torch in one hand guiding his way in the pre-morning darkness. His thumb absently flicks the torch off as he reaches the guardpost, drawing a badge from a coat pocket and holds it up.)
Man: (in French) UNS inspection taskforce. Open up.
(The guard cranes his neck forward, looking at the badge pressed against the plexi screen. He reluctantly nods. With a shrug, the other man pockets the badge again, stepping back from the guard post.)
Guard: Well, let me just check-
(The plexiglass bulges inwards and shatters. The rifle round mauls through the guard's body and punches out through the back wall.
The corpse rocks back in its chair slightly, arms hanging limply, head rolling back in slack death.
Somewhere behind the small convoy, somewhere in the dark among the greenery, a rifle team had set themselves up nearly an hour before for just that one shot. The man hefts his heavy torch like a club and brushes aside what is left of the guardpost screen. Shards tumble down onto the corpse as it slides out of the chair into a lump on the floor. Reaching through the jagged opening in the plexiglass he presses down on the controls for the gates. With a whir of motors the barrier sinks slowly into the ground, allowing the ground-assault team into the UNSynaps compound.
This place had one been an air field, seeing service in the conflicts following the Second Impact. That had been before NERV, and later UNSynaps, had aquired this facility. A chunk of earth in the centre of the compound had been excavated, and a small, subterranian complex had been constructed in the hollow beneath the tarmac. It hardly compares to the Geo-Front beneath Tokyo-3; this structure had only been intended to store three of the semi-completed Evangelion series - units 10, 11 and 12.
Without a control plug, and without their S2 engines installed, these Evangelions are, in essence, giant statues. Immobile creations, they lack the final piece of the puzzle, the last necessary parts that make a thing more than just an object, but alive.
The vast steel roof of the storage facility dominates the entire compound, even though most of it is underground with only a fraction of the complex breaching the surface. Structures are clustered around it; a barracks, an aircraft hanger, an airstrip, reserve tankers of jet fuel, a smaller hanger for ground vehicles.
The three vehicles move swiftly across the compound; the next phase of the attack begins only a few seconds later.
The primay communications tower is consumed in a rising column of heat and flame. There is no explosion - only the roar as the fires pours up the steel structure, desperately seeking something to burn. The structure warps from the heat, the foundations cracking in the inferno..
And then the explosion lights up the base.
Half-molten chunks of what had used to be the steel-and-concrete foundations rain down over the compound. Only a second later another blast of laser light illuminates the small barracks, instantly consuming it it as flames burst into life around it.
Heat rolls across the compound in waves as more and more shots blaze into the compound. Patches of grass that grow within the facility begin to shrivel and burn.
The small convey roars between the buildings, heading for a target of its own. The vehicles easily outdistance the few people that are running from the outer structures. Some of the running figures are pilots, heading for the hangers to scramble aerial support; some are technical staff, fleeing to the relative safety of the Eva storage structure. A pulse of light touches the earth amid a pack of scrambling personel, turning flesh to charcoal and clothes to flame.
And for now stealth is no longer needed. It advances, the sound of its vast footsteps growing louder, the beating rhythm of its charge growing faster as the thing reaches the compound at a dead run.
MARI hurtles overhead in a flying leap, clearing the fenceline of the compound by hundreds of metres. It hits the concrete airstrip in a crouch, shattering it under its feet. Vast chunks of concrete rise majestically out of the impact, smashing into the ground in clouds of dust and debris.
Still in its panther-like crouch the Evangelion levels its rifle and fires, sending a pulse of light into the hanger. Jet fuel ignites in an explosion that tears the building apart. The blast catches the airstrip's reserve fuel tankers in the blast - a ball of fire thunders into the air, sucking up what little remains of the hanger into the rising hell in the sky.
Unharmed by the flame, MARI stands. Even so close to the core of the explosion its blue-black armour is dull and lifeless, reflecting none of the fury that surrounds it. The Evangelion turns, raising its laser rifle once again. Outline against the blaze, the slender umbillical power cable that connects the weapon to the Unit is visible.
Infra-red laser light, invisible to the human eye, pulses out of the weapon, impaling a fleeing vehicle as it heads for the compound gates.
More shots pulse across the landscape. Their targets are sometimes structures, or sometimes fleeing personel. All vanish in the blaze of a energy.
It might be seen as brutal and unnecessary, but it has a twisted purpose. The tower, and the other communications arrays scattered around the base, had been the first targets. The facility was first cut off from the outside world. The next task is to prevent any aircraft, vehicle or man on foot to carry a warning out of the compound.
But two things seem to have avoided the carnage. One is the is the convoy of vehicles that entered just before the destruction began, and the other is their target; the Evangelion storage facility.)
Captain: (radio) Here we go.
(In the forty seconds since the beginning of the attack the building has only suffered minor hits, devastating the communication lines but leaving the heart of the structure intact. The doors are still manned, the guards shielding their faces from the heat and crouching at the doors. Unknowing, they shout and gesture for the "fleeing personnel" to enter the building as the cars stop and unload their passengers.)
Guard: (shouting) Everybody inside, now!
(With the deadly shape of MARI looming over the base, the guards never question the new figures. Ignorant to whether they are friend or foe, they shout and gesture for the "fleeing personnel" to enter the building - the intruders walk straight past.)
Captain: Seal those doors.
Soldier: Yes sir.
(The UNSynaps troops were not selected for their skills in language. The the French-speaking guards never realize the significance of the few English words spoken by the assault team.
Pistols are drawn and shots fired - it is over in an instant, each guard falling, skulls ruptured by bullets. Each shot is brutally precise.
The corpses are dragged away from the doorway as one of the intrusion team begins working on the entrance controls. Two more soldiers drop heavy packs to the floor.)
Captain: (pointing) You two, cover the door.
(The pair nod as one, taking up positions on either side of the entrance and covering the compound outside with their pistols. Meanwhile, the bags have yeilded equipment- submachineguns, carbines, spare magazines, gas masks - which are quicky passed around the men.)
Captain: (loudly) How's that door coming?
Soldier: (at entrance controls) Nearly there sir..
(Two running men, wearing UNSynaps uniforms, make a last-ditch run for the entrance; not realizing what they are fleeing towards. They make it to within ten metres of the entrance before they are gunned down.
As the second man falls, his uniform spattered with dark red, there is a mechanical sound as the doors begin to close. Only a few seconds later, three inches of hardened alloy seals the Eva storage building from the few fleeing personel that have survived MARI's attack thus far - sealing the twelve man team inside. A pack of wolves sealed in with the sheep, wolves with a very specific purpose.)
Captain: Groups one and two, secure this building and eliminate personnel. Group three will head for the storage cage.
(The wolves begin to hunt.
The Captain of the group, and the three men following him, head unerringly through the corriders, advancing into the facility's sub-levels. An observer might notice that they know exactly where to go, bearing towards their targets at a confident - but cautious - pace.
They spot a man at the end of the corridor - rooted to the spot as he sees the soldiers, his hands clutched around a carry case. The red badge pinned to his breast indicates high-level security access.
One soldier raises his weapon to his shoulder fires - a single, precise shot. The bullet rips into the man's face and the technician falls, dead instantly.)
Captain: (gesturing) Check him.
(A soldier kneels by the corpse, pulling open the carry case. His grimace is hidden by his gas mask.)
Soldier: Circuit boards.
Soldier: (checks) Yes Sir, the destruct boards. They never even installed them.
Captain: Bring them with us.
(This man was not their main target, his death merely benefical. They stalk on through the corridors, nearing their goal - the central storage bay. If this had been NERV, it would have been called "the cages". This is where Units 10, 11 and 12 of the mass-production Evangelion series are stored in cryostasis.
A catwalk runs the length of the room and is shadowed by the cage control room that hangs above, overlooking the chamber. The ceiling is shaped by two sloped bay doors, meeting at the apex, held shut by huge hydralic systems. Below the gantry are the Units; three silent Evangelions, half immersed in coolant. Their white armored masks seem incomplete, only half-fitted to their vast, motionless faces.
One day that coolant would be drained and the incomplete Evangelions completed. Power would surge through nerves and the creatures would awaken at the command of UNSynaps. The ceiling would be drawn open and the Evangelions would arise, to answer the call of their masters.
But that is no longer what is intended to happen.
At the entrance to the room, the soldiers cautiously cover the vast storage bay, weapons ready. One of them sees it - high above, in the window of the control room, there is a flicker of movement.)
Soldier: Twelve o'clock high.
(The Captain nods as they pull back to the safety of the corridor.)
Captain: I want suppressive fire on the control room. (nods to two soldiers) While we cover you, close in and use your tear gas. Go.
They enter with weapons raised and firing, shattering the eight-foot wide glass pane of the control room viewscreen and and peppering the chamber with bullets. The sudden hail of shots raise cries of alarm from within. With trained speed two soldiers run in, keeping low. They prime grenades - these troops are experts, their throws practiced. Two grenades are hurled up to the control room, and two grenades vanish through the broken window.
It only takes a few seconds for the control room to be filled with clouds of tear gas. The thick mist boils out of the broken windows; coughing is heard from inside as the gas begins to sting and burn. Someone inside finds the breath to shout.)
Voice: (from control room, hoarse) We're coming down!
(Four men, still coughing violently, slowly head down the ladder, escaping the choking tear gas. Only one of the men wears a UNSynaps security uniform, while the others wear the overalls of the technical crews.
The soldiers push them into a line, keeping their weapons ready as they search the prisoners.)
Captain: (to soldier) Get a man up there. (to prisoners) Did you leave anyone up there?
UNSynaps technician: No.
(Even so, the captain waits until one of his men heads up the ladder. Protected from the eye-watering mist by his mask, he peers into the now-thin clouds of gas. After a moment's inspection he climbs back down.)
Soldier: Empty, Sir. And it looks like they took to the controls with a fire axe before we got here.
(The captain grunts, and nods to his two other soldiers; their orders are specific.
The four UNSynaps staff are shot down in cold blood even as the officer turns to bark his next orders.)
Captain: Patch into the control system manually!
(Their work is not yet over - but the battle is already won.
UNSynaps has slipped out of SEELE's trust. As they had once replaced NERV, now UNSynaps is replaced. This time they will not be a public face, not one that must bend to the will of the UN or politics - a darker, more covert group. One that can do SEELE's dirty work without fear of losing the UN's approval.
MARI came here with a purpose, and now the goal of UNSynaps belongs to another. The master has not changed, only the voice.)
(The night-light has been left on, washing the bedside table in a pool of soft light.
A glint of metal is visible - Jean-Phillip Anouilh's crucifix, its cord twisted awkwardly over the sleeping man's shoulder. He is still wearing his day clothes - tie undone for the sake of comfort, shoes kicked away - it might be guessed that sleep came unexpectedly.
On the bedside table, under the lamp, rests a cup of now-cold coffee and an open folder; more proof that Anouilh had not laid down to sleep. The folder contains surveillance reports from operatives in Tokyo-3, gleaning what little information they could in a city guarded jealously by NERV forces.
Some of the reports are only vague - strange activity by NERV security, rumours that one of their officers had been involved in a shooting. There seems a possiblity of operatives from another organization working in the city.
Others are far more detailed, being related to something that Anouilh himself has specifically ordered.
If Lyn were to told that his father had ordered surveillance of him, from across the world, he would have been more than a little surprised.
Of course, the presence of NERV security prevents anything close to a continuous watch on the boy, but what little information they could get from his daily passings were enough for the father. An agent having breakfast at an open-air cafe - the same cafe, the same time every morning - would routinely report that Lyn Anouilh passed by on his way to school. Sometimes the Sixth Child would purchase something at the cafe; a rushed morning meant that he had skipped breakfast.
It was only by chance that this agent had been there one weekend lunchtime to see Lyn have lunch there with a girl. This was how Anouilh had discovered Aoi Tamashii's interest in his son - or, something that had been almost amusing to the father, his son's interest in Aoi Tamashii.
The ringing of the phone brings the man awake. He pulls on the twisted cord around his neck, straightening the crucifix, as he reaches out with his free hand.)
Arnold: (phone) You're needed at the base, Sir.
Anouilh: (rubbing his eyes) Hayridge.. What is it?
Arnold: (phone) This isn't a secure line.
(He hangs up - nothing more needs to be said. Jean-Phillip Anouilh stands, setting the phone back down.
It is still early; most people are still asleep, and have hours before they have to leave their homes. It is too early for the sun to even begin to show its face above the horizon.
But over that horizon, invisible to Anouilh, the enemies that he does even suspect exist have already moved.)
(The Aurillac facility burns. What had once been the hanger is now a shallow pool of fuel-fed flame, with scorched islands of wreckage and debris sprawled black and broken among the yellow heat. The blaze turns the grey pre-dawn into a twilight hell. Other than the blazing yellow fires is only the white lights that mark the perimiter of the UNSynaps storage hangar - the only building in the compound still standing after the attack.
Suddenly the smoke is pushed apart, the flames beaten down to the ground by a blast of air from above - a roar descends from the dark sky, sending the fire splaying across the ground and whipping up the charred remains of the scorched grasses.
The drifting clouds are torn apart and a shape descends - a vast, black triangle, the air shimmering in the heat as its VTOL engines slow the massive aircraft's descent. It sinks lower, turning the spearhead of its body, low enough now for some details to be made out. Docking clamps line its undercarriage, clamps built to hold a very heavy payload.
This aircraft could be a twin to the one used to transport Evangelions.
Some things do differ in the design; this craft bears no insignias, no markings of any sort. There are no running lights - only the single directed beam of light that shines down on the Evangelion hanger from on high. The aircraft's shape is more sleek, somehow leaner, designed to present a shallow radar signiture while in full flight - there can be no doubt that this aircraft makes use of significant stealth technology.
The hanger opens; the sound of the systems in operation is lost against the roar of engines. The roof parts, giant steel petals of a squat concrete flower, and out of the depths rises the first of the three Eva units were stored here. Powerful mechanical hoists lift the silent Evangelion clear of the structure, its massive bulk unnaffected by the raging winds that tear around it.
UNSynaps had long been prepared for transportation of this scale; the scenario that SEELE had given them demanded that they be ready to shift the Mass Production Series directly from storage to transport. They had not planned that this same equipment would be used by these invaders.
High above, blacker than the smoke filled sky, more triangles circle. More transport craft. They move in lazy arcs, awaiting their turn to pillage.
The first craft hovers over the open storage hanger, a giant black crow over the torn corpse of its prey. The Evangelion, its white-armored shape motionless, is lifted into its clutches. The docking clamps seal the Eva to the aircraft - a moment later, the hoists bearing the unit from beneath are released. The aircraft dips slightly as it takes on the extra weight, but only for a second. The roar of its engines grows, pitch climbing as the exhaust blast tears at the ground, and finally the transport begins to climb. The stolen Evangelion clears the hanger entrance; already, a second transport is descending to retrieve the next prize.
Standing to one side of this airborne activity is another shape; forty metres of blue-blackness standing against the flames, its rifle raised as it covers the operation. MARI remains alert, scanning the skies for aircraft, watching the compound for any sign of enemy life. Should anything threaten to compromise the mission, MARI is there to answer with terminal force.
The second transport lifts off, and soon after, the third. Heavy with their burdens, the dark jets haul themselves into the sky, heading back into the darkness with the spoils of this brutal victory.
But MARI does not follow. Its task is not yet completed.)
(Arnold Hayridge moves out from under the entryway as the dark sedan pulls up outside. Stepping quickly into the early morning he urgently brings his superior up to date with the situation even as Anouilh gets out of his car.)
Arnold: (softly) One survivor.
(Anouilh stands transfixed with astonishment, one foot still inside the car. One person? Impossible!
But that was all the rescue team had found at the ruins of the Aurillac facility.
The fires had eventually attracted attention - with the communications down, any attempts to contact that base by authorities had been futile. When the teams had arrived to investigate an apparently unattended fire, what they had stumbled into was something of much larger proportions.)
Arnold: Everyone else had been killed - and as best we can determine, the storage facility has been cleaned out. It was the only building even left standing.
Anouilh: The Eva units..
(The director of UNSynaps straightens, resuming his walk towards the facility entrance as he continues to question Hayridge.)
Anouilh: Did he see what took them?
Arnold: He heard aircraft.. but he was too far away to see anything. He had ran when he saw the Evangelion.. that much is clear.
Anouilh: (enraged) Ikari..
(Three dark shapes skim silently through the night. Their VTOL engines have long been shut down - they are unsuited for the stealthy journey ahead. The captured Evanglions have been drawn up into the bodies of the transport crafts, any possible radar signiture cloaked by the crafts' outer shell. Designed specifically for this purpose, the flight group make their ways across the skies, bearing their stolen cargos to their masters. Their heading is westward, over the Atlantic ocean.
Almost a hundred kilometres north, three more aircraft make their way towards their own target - another wing of transports, heading for the UNSynaps facility near Nantes.
This is the second group - now readying to strike at a new facility. Their orders are the same as the first. Give the target no chance, strike fast and get inside the complex. MARI is already in place, as are the ground forces. Or rather, the ground force operation has begun.
The car - the first in a small convoy of vehicles - rolls to a stop. The passenger-side door opens and a man emerges, shutting the car door behind him. A guard, working the morning shift behind the plexiglass screen of the gate security post, looks up. The figure approaches, holding his torch lazily as he walks carefully over the dew laden ground.
Expressionlessly, the newcomer draws a badge from his coat and holds it up for the guard to see.)
Assault Leader: UNS inspection taskforce. Open up.
(As the guard shifts in his seat, the imposter takes a careful step to the side.)
(The obelisk flickers.
Its grey-black shape casts no shadow in the darkness of the projection room. Upon its surface is a simple legend:
Gendo Ikari and Kouzou Fuyutsuki watch it as it flickers again, the holographic projection shifting. With a a faint rushing sound it vanishes, replaced by a very different object. It is a man, dressed in suit and tie, sitting behind a desk with his arms folded. As his new form solidifies he leans forward slightly and begins speaking with an immediate tinge of cynicism to his tone..)
Anouilh: I suppose your little demonstration will insure that the UN knows its place.
Anouilh: Pardon the euphemism. I thought you would prefer demonstration over attack or murder.
(The projection of the man leans forward, his hands on the table before him.)
Anouilh: Nothing you say here - even if the UN could hear us - will make them try to turn against you. Not now, not since you've effectively destroyed the only force that could stop you. I hope you'll pardon me if I just want a few answers to make up in some small way for your total victory.
(Ikari watches from behind the bridge formed by his hands; Fuyutsuki, standing to one side of the Commander, frowns slightly, almost moving to speak.)
Anouilh: How did you get Unit One operational in Europe? How did you manage to slip it under the UN's nose in the first place?
(Gendo's fingers, intertwined before his mouth, tighten slightly - the only indication of his surprise.)
Anouilh: My sources persist in assuring me that the Unit is still in Japan, in storage - but I had also been made aware that a few of your pilots have vanished. I should have been paying more attention. How you can hide the movements of an Evangelion but not your pilots is remarkable.
(Fuyutsuki glances down at his seated collegue, a question in his eyes. Gendo glances at the older man but does not speak, instead letting Anouilh continue filling in the spaces in his incorrect assumption.)
Anouilh: To add to this, my son has 'mysteriously' disappeared. Unfortunately, it happened a too late for me to take any action. (leaning back in his chair) Our intelligence on just what your organization is capable seems so worthless now. We had been certain that your children couldn't be brought to do these.. things. Now I see they're quite proficient at slaughter.
(Commander Ikari looks at his black desk for a moment before returning his gaze to Anouilh. Finally the bearded man pushes away from his desk slightly, voicing his first open question..)
Gendo: You're under attack?
(Anouilh smiles bitterly at the NERV commander's confusion - for a moment.
Then his eyes, flickering from Fuyutsuki to Ikari as he takes in their expressions, become shadowed by a deep frown. His next words are betrayed with the slightest tinge of doubt.)
Anouilh: There's no need for this game playing.. the UN can't possibly attack you, not with the threat of Unit One doing to them what it did to Aurillac and..
Anouilh: Do you even know what I'm talking about?
(Ikari raises a hand to his eyes, straightening his glasses.)
Gendo: My apologies.
Fuyutsuki: You're under attack - from an Evangelion?
(Anouilh stares hard at the two men before answering.)
Anouilh: It would seem so. We were lucky someone survived to reveal that much.
Fuyutsuki: It isn't us.
Anouilh: (angrily) And why am I supposed to believe that?
Fuyutsuki: This is the first we've heard of -
Gendo: (interrupting) Incorrect.
Anouilh: Stop talking in circles, man! One of my facilities and several hundred of my men were killed tonight and you want me to believe that my enemy isn't responsible?
Gendo: (steadily) Your enemy is responsible.
Gendo: That enemy, however, is not us.
(Anouilh sits stupified, allowing the NERV Commander to smoothly take over the conversation.)
Gendo: We were fortunate enough to recieve some important information today. We had been hoping to find a way to send it to you without drawing the attention of the people that you work for.
Anouilh: What would you have to tell me that SEELE wouldn't want me to hear?
Gendo: (turning) Would you excuse us for a moment, Fuyutsuki?
(The Vice-Commander looks over in surprise - but his superior's expression reveals nothing of his motives. It is irrelevant - Fuyutsuki could easily guess what is to be said, word for word. Since SEELE had already made their move, it made little sense to keep the victims in the dark as to their motives.
The aged professor had played his part of ignorant assistant to perfection.. and now the Commander, the magician himself, was to send Fuyutsuki back into the audience and pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. From the very slight smirk behind his hands Fuyutsuki could tell that Ikari somehow expected something other than applause as his reward.
The door to the holographic suite slides silently shut behind the tall Vice-Commander as he leaves.)
Gendo: (continuing) There is another group - as an alternative to your service under SEELE.
Anouilh: You're saying that SEELE has someone else who can produce Evangelions.
Gendo: This "someone else" were the ones who retrieved Unit Four from the missing Second Branch. It would seem that SEELE is using them to complete their plans.
Anouilh: And their plans..?
(Major Arnold Hayridge waits outside the door; Anouilh has been in his office for half an hour.
The early morning skies over the Evreux facility are still dark; as the last hours of the night trickle away the corridors of the base are largely empty - only a few personnel shift in their posts, salvaging what might be called breakfast from the canteen on-site.
No one else is present - barring Arnold Hayridge, waiting for his superior to finish his discussion.. his discussion with Gendo Ikari - with the man they must stop. The enemy. The one who..
The one who had beaten them.)
Arnold: (thinking) We've lost.
(Fight back? Impossible. It was unthinkable - now that Lyn was, from all accounts, 'lost' in Tokyo-3.
This brings up an aspect of Anouilh that Hayridge has never been entirely sure of; Anouilh as a father. He had first thought that it would be forward of him to even think that he, a Major and a military man, could be - or should be - a father figure to Lyn. He did not consider even trying to replace Anouilh in that role - and yet Anouilh's apparent separation from those things where his son was concern seemed to hint clearly at a lack of thought.. a lack of consideration.. a lack of caring.
Too few words have been spoken about the boy; Arnold cannot say if Anouilh cares for his son.
Could it simply be fear? There is a thought that had occured to Hayridge too many times in the last half-hour. UNSynaps rises to replace NERV, and simultaneously the son of the director is assigned to duty under NERV's control. A tradeoff? A coincidence?
Has Ikari finally made his move - proudly flaunting his hostage while he obliterates their facilities? This conclusion - the only possible conclusion for Major Hayridge - repeats itself over and over within his mind as he stares across the room at the closed door.
After a moment of turning over the worst possibilities - as he had for the other twenty nine minutes of this past half-hour - the Major looks away.)
(Hayridge turns back just in time to see him - standing the now-open doorway to his office. Anouilh locks eyes with the officer; a second passes before he steps clear of the threshold allowing the automatic door to hiss shut behind him.)
(Both are quiet for a moment.)
Anouilh: (suddenly) Was there anything else?
Arnold: (flatly) Did he threaten him?
Arnold: Did he -
(The Major's question is cut short by the sudden look of comprehension that appears on the other man's face - and by the short gulping laugh that follows.
A swallowed, humorless laugh.)
Anouilh: No.. he didn't. (shakes his head) It would have made more sense if he had.
(Arnold falls silent at this, pausing before asking anything else. Anouilh's strange answers - his strange mood - demand that he ask, but..
..he feels sure that he will tell what is neccessary, in due time.)
Anouilh: Is there anything else?
Arnold: ..Yes sir.. all attempts to re-establish communication with the Nantes facility have failed. The most likely..
(Anouilh turns slightly, already ignoring the remainder of the sentence. Helplessly Arnold trails off, awaiting the return of his old friend's attention.
Clearly, something quite serious is on his superior's mind.)
Anouilh: It's already been hit.
Arnold: Yes sir.. that would be the most likely explanation.
Anouilh: What's our status?
Arnold: The base is on Yellow Alert, and the UN have been notified. What they're supposed to do, however..
Anouilh: Just get them here.
(Anouilh pauses, waiting.)
Arnold: What did Ikari say?
(That magician certainly knows how to hold his audience.
The Commander enters the room quietly. The crew that is preparing for the recovery operation do not notice his tardiness; their attention is completely held by this tasks, setting up terminals and monitoring the progress of the teams working on Evangelion Unit 02.
Gendo nods briefly to Fuyutsuki - not a gesture of greeting, but a nod for him to follow. The older man stands as the Commander leads the way out of the control cage, past the terminal operators and onto one of the broad gantries overlooking the Evangelions themselves.
The Vice-Commander glances around once - just to make sure there is no-one within earshot - and begins speaking in a low tone.)
Fuyutsuki: When you said we should proceed with caution I didn't expect him to contact us..
Gendo: Of course - he had some interesting news.. especially given what Kimio had left for us to tell him.
(Ikari's expression is grim - Fuyutsuki had been expecting something else, perhaps humor on the man's face at the thought of his former adversary's humiliation.)
Fuyutsuki: What did he say?
(Ikari glances down at the efforts of the crews below as the work on the dormant form of Unit 02.)
Gendo: He has accepted that SEELE has already moved against him.
(His white-gloved hand brushes his bearded chin slightly, and then, unexpectedly..)
Gendo: How long will the Second Child's recovery take?
Fuyutsuki: The Chairperson is uncertain. Hours, possibly days.
(Ikari's expression remains unchanged - but from his sudden stillness and the way the overhead lamps reflect steadily off his motionless glasses Fuyutsuki can tell that his answer is unacceptable. Gendo Ikari is not a man to do or say things without purpose; the professor waits for his companion's next words to divine some clue as to the man's train of thought.)
Gendo: We must improve our defensive capabilities; in all likelyhood whoever SEELE is using as their tool will turn their attentions to us.
(Fuyutsuki takes a step closer to the edge of the gantry, laying his hands on the rail as he speaks.)
Fuyutsuki: You suspect..?
Gendo: I am certain.
Gendo: I made Anouilh an offer he cannot refuse. With him will come his enemies.
Fuyutsuki: You would draw them to us - for what? All we have to call upon for defence is Rei!
(The older man turns slightly, letting his gaze rest on the Commander as he completes the last sentence. Gendo's expression remains unchanged, uncaring of this revelation.)
Fuyutsuki: We could improve our defensive potential - by authorizing Ibuki to commence the process on Unit One. The Third Child has the higher synchronisation ratio of the pair - we could expect his recovery sooner, perhaps even in time to offer some assistance.
Gendo: Why would you even ask?
Fuyutsuki: I want to know how much you will risk for your goals.
(Ikari's tinted glasses shift as he turns away slightly.)
Gendo: I would have imagined that would be very clear by now.
Gendo: Contact the First Child. Have her report to the Geo-Front immediately.
Anouilh: He left it for us - he wanted us to know. But he couldn't just tell us, not with SEELE carefully preparing every scrap of information that they fed us - he had to use Okazaki.. which is why she was revealed to us as a spy, so I could arrange a transfer for her into NERV. It got her in the clear to recieve the information safely..
Arnold: He used her.
Anould: They used all of us - even Ikari.
(For a moment Jean-Phillip Anouilh closes his eyes. His words are low, almost muttered, as he thinks aloud to himself.
Arnold Hayridge, standing just inside the door, lets his gaze drop for a second to the cross-and-cord that rests on the man's desk.)
Anouilh: A trusted messenger.. (looks back) What's the position of the UN forces?
Arnold: There are multiple tank battallions converging on the base - air defence is taking a little longer to scramble. At first they didn't believe what I was asking..
Anouilh: I can imagine.. an Evangelion, here? (softly) We didn't think they'd move this fast.
(Hayridge doesn't add anything - he doesn't really have to. There would be no point to saying "I told you so". But there is something he wants to say - or rather, wants to ask.)
Arnold: Why are they doing this?
Anouilh: Because what we want isn't what they want. They've been blinding us to what they want to do.
Anouilh: We were made to believe that we were working against a threat, against something monstrous; but we were only perpetrating it. SEELE doesn't want to stop Instrumentality. We've been building them the neccessary parts.
Arnold: You mean the Evas..
Anouilh: That's why they're being taken. SEELE has something to replace us, and now it's here to collect what it needs to complete their plan.
Arnold: The Evangelion in the attack? But how did SEELE construct it without us -
Anouilh: (interrupting) They have some other group under their thumb now.
(And the director of UNSynaps - what of it is left now - almost smiles.)
Anouilh: They didn't construct their Eva - it was taken from the returned Second Branch..
(His pacing ceases.)
Anouilh: Call the UN again - they can scramble every piece of millitary hardware in the country and we probably won't be able to stop it. We have to evacuate the Evas before that thing arrives. Ready the Units to be transported, and pull together the vital personnel - we'll need millitary support from the UN to cover the transports on the way out.
Arnold: Where are we taking them?
(Jean-Phillip Anouilh smiles suddenly at the irony of the situation.)
Anouilh: Where else? Japan.
(Before the Second Impact, there had been rivers here - to the south, the Seine, and to the north, the Somme. Now there is water, spreading from what had once been costal Le Havre, over a hundred kilometres to submerged Amiens. The disaster pushed a chunk of the French coastline below sea-level, creating a shallow ocean, ringed by the cliffs that now form the boundary between the mark of the cataclysm and stable land.
Inland from the cliffs is greenery; trees and grassy fields broken only by the few road systems that follow the coastline. Past the greenery, and past the roads, is the coastal fortress of the Evreux Facility, the primary UNSynaps base.
The ground shakes as tank treads grind against the road's surface. A convoy of armored vehicles, ranging from artillery and anti-air batteries to troop carriers and jeeps, forms a machined river that flows pondorously towards the UNSynaps base. Now knowing the threat that is approaching the millitary have been scrambled, sending every war machine available to the rally point.
Tank after tank rolls along the road, dozens in this convoy alone. The rumble of engines and the grind of treads grows; troops, waiting in vehicles for when they will be called out, can only listen to the mechanized sounds around them.
Then there is another sound.
Overhead - thunderously loud, ominously close.
Deafened by their own engines, most of the convoy doesn't notice - the troops do, a few leaning out the back to see the dark shape hurtling overhead..
..a UNSynaps transport.
The first of the refugee craft, fleeing the last UNSynaps facility. The aircraft, winged by a small escort of air-to-air fighters, contiues out to sea, heading north. Not even willing to wait until more had become airborn, UNSynaps has ordered its personnel - and the transports that carry the Evangelion series - to immediately make way for Japan and Tokyo-3, the only place in the world that can protect them from the threat that is about to descend upon them.
The troops who looked up at the sound return to their wait, comforted by the familiar sight of the aircraft. The convoy of artillery and transports continues on its ponderous journey.
It is not just these tanks and trucks that head towards the Evreux facility; it is not just this convoy and a dozen others, all heading for the UNSynaps compound. Land, sea and air forces are all on the move - the base has become a whirlpool at the centre of an enormous military manouver. Artillery moves in steady columns towards the base, while fighter and bomber craft take to the skies. Out to sea, where the waters are deep enough for safe passage, battleships, destoyers, carriers..
Thousands of men and machines, ordered into motion by the UN, ordered for a single purpose.
To slow it down.
High above, where the armored convoy is just dark smear on a spidery length of road, a wing of fighter craft hold formation, following a flight plan of a slow, wide circle around the Evreux facility. There are only six craft in this flight group - short range dogfighters, they are just one group out of dozens that are already in the air.
It is only chance that causes them to be the first to see it.)
Pilot: (radio) Visual contact, unidentified craft, bearing at 40 degrees.
Flight leader: Distance?
Pilot: (radio) No radar confirmation. It's below us - I'm having trouble following it.
Flight leader: I can't see it.. you'll have to lead us to it. Bank left and intercept. All craft follow.
(A single jet drops out of the wing of fighters, taking the lead as the other craft shift formation and follow. Even as the craft drop altitude, the sighting is passed along to the UN command.)
Flight leader: I still can't see it. Wait-
(The leading jet splits apart.
A glow of white-hot metal briefly flares as the laser bisects the plane. There is an instant - an impossibly long instant - where the separated parts continue to fly, slowly drifting apart. Then the remains burst into flame, its fuel erupting from its ruptured tanks.)
Pilot: Taking fire! Evasive action!
(The jets bank and tear out of their paths, diving aside as they rocket past the flaming remains of the shattered plane. A second jet is transformed into a flaming ball as MARI's laser strikes out again.)
Pilot: (shouting) What the hell is this thing?!
(Too busy directing their jets in evasive actions, none of the pilots are able to see the shooter - the MARI prototype, once known as Evangelion Unit Four.
The shadowy Evangelion is in its flight configuration; the steel monster connected by shoulder clamps to a delta wing craft mounted on its back; an enormous winged jetpack. The brother aircraft is unmanned - a drone, both aiding and benefitting the Evangelion to which it is attached, it too is of the same shade of blue-black, built for stealth.
Together, the pair bank slightly, giving MARI a better aspect on its targets. The rifle in the Evangelion's hands spits forth another pulse of light and another plane is impaled.
Suddenly, the Evangelion detaches.)
Pilot: (radio) Radar signiture confirmed! Two thousand feet and falling!
(Almost instantly all the craft in the area lock onto the falling Eva - all instruments drawn to the radar signal it emits in free fall. This signal is deliberate - a ploy to draw attention away from the vulnurable flight unit that quickly gains altitude, escaping attention. The blue-black triangle of the flight drone hides from the eyes of the UN military as they are drawn to the much more dangerous MARI.
Nearly a kilometre from the cliff-ringed coastline, the water explodes into white spray as MARI splashes down.)
UN Command: (radio) Hostile sighted nine hundred metres offshore, due north of primary compound. Armor battalion four, standby to fire..
(The convoy halts abruptly. As one, a mass of tank turrets turn to face out to the sea. Overhead, wings of fighters begin to congregate. Although lacking direct air-to-surface firepower, they are ready to provide assistance if called for.
And as MARI rises head and shoulders out of the water, the order is given.
The air is shattered by the tremendous blast of artillery. Flames burst from barrels along the convoy as the order to fire is given; some launch heavy shells, others the streaking darts of self-propelled mortars, others swarms of rockets, while yet others fire fewer, heavier guided missiles.
Shells smash into the chest of the advancing Eva, exploding in sparks and ricochetting off the unit. Each missile or rocket ends in a flaring explosion, each mortar shattering against the Evangelion's AT field. The sound of the impacts is a constant roar, punctuated with the rip and whistle of more shells as the artillery continues to fire.
MARI vanishes under the shroud of fire and smoke and rebounding sparks - the water around the creature is peppered with impacts as deflected shells, fragments of missiles or simple missed shots splash down in the ocean.
The last to strike are the slowest, heaviest missiles; the same design as those used by the heavier anti-angel defences of Tokyo-3. Scores of them fall upon the target, flames blossoming out for hundreds of metres, missile after missile, turning the smoking, burning mess into a firestorm.
The tanks cease their firing - leaving the sound of their guns echoing between the cliffs.
MARI does not even pause for the smoke to clear. It pushes forward, a wake streaming around its bulk as it continues into shallower waters, step after step.
But the UN forces are not done yet.)
UN Command: (radio) Armor battalion seven, north-northeast to combat zone. Armor battallions ten and five west to combat zone. Bomber flights four through seven make heading nine-three to combat zone..
(The artillery lets loose with another barrage; the heaviest of the missile units have already been depleted, but the other tanks have far more ready to fire. Another swarm of shells, mortars and rockets streak across the space between MARI and the cliffs - only half a kilometer now.
MARI again is buried under the fire and smoke of the impacts, even as more machines are called to the fray.)
(Far away, across the sea from where MARI was "born"..)
Suit: Incredible, isn't it?
Officer: It's performing above and beyond anything we expected. We'll have to call off the ground force. They won't be of any use.
Suit: The lapdogs are already routed..
(They fall silent - like the technical crews around them - returning to the various monitors and readouts.)
Arnold: You should board this one and get out of here.
(The screens before them show visual images of the Evangelion, relaying from position to position as the dark shape draws closer, pushing relentlessly through the water towards the cliffs.)
Arnold: It will be on shore in a few minutes no matter what we do. Take this transport out.
(Anouilh glances out of the control tower at the runway - another transport is being loaded with personnel. UNSynaps support teams, technicians, security.. everyone is being evacuated. Visible past the runway is the open hanger doors of the Evangelion storage silo - empty now. The units in storage there have already been shipped onto VTOL transports and airlifted out; the last one is still visible on the horizon, an indistinct shape in the morning light.)
Arnold: Go out. They'll need leadership.
Anouilh: (quietly) Then you take this one out.
(The head of UNSynaps - what little remains of it - speaks in a low voice, looking at the transport as the personnel almost scramble aboard.)
Anouilh: Look around you Hayridge - this is the result of my leadership. Get going.
Anouilh: There'll be time enough to get several more transports off after this one. I'll be safe.
Arnold: Do you really believe that?
Anouilh: (absently) We have a surprise in store - if nothing else, it might make it tough for that bastard to chase us for a while.
(The Major grunts, turning to one of the consoles and looking at the radar display over the operator's shoulder. The screen shows scores of blips - all UN units. Somewhere in there is a single hostile - one forty metres tall - and the officer knows even if they set every piece of available artillery against it, it still would not be enough.
He looks around - only two others are present beside himself and Jean Phillip; all remaining personnel are either evacuating or have already fled, either aboard aircraft or in convoys away from the beleagured base.)
Anouilh: What's the status of the UN blockade?
Operator: The perimetre forces are ready - armor and artillery are recieving targetting data from northern emplacements Seven and Eight.
(The leader of UNSynaps pulls his attention from command for the most fleeting instant - just long enough to issue a final order to his subordinate.)
Anouilh: Get the hell out of here.
(Major Arnold Hayridge decides to surrender with some semblance of grace. With a salute, the soldier turns and leaves the room - beginning his own flight as the few remaining tatters of UNSynaps prepare for what is, in effect, their last stand.)
UN Command: (radio) Bomber flights eight and nine make heading three-five-eight to primary drop zone. Armor battallion nine, prepare to fall back, give depleted units maximum priority. Heading south-southwest to rendevous with battallion seven.
(They streak through the shallow waters, so close to the surface they leave easily visible wakes. Launched from the UN ships still out to sea, the torpedos race towards their target.
They detonate on MARI's flanks and rear, blasting up through the surface of the water with white foam. The Evangelion ignores the attack, even as more missiles streak down from the convoy on the cliff to detonate on its AT field.
Nearly four hundred metres out to sea now, the dark shape of MARI can be seen raising its rifle. A laser burst pierces the armor of a tank on the cliffside in an explosion that mushrooms up out of the convoy. Another tank is destroyed but a second later, and a third.
Sullen flames and black smoke rises out of the line of artillery as MARI strikes back at its attackers, its laser biting through armor to melt and burn. The tanks grind their treads as they ponderously turn, finally retreating back from the road on the clifftop, cannons roughly bobbing as they move onto rougher terrain. Another blast, another tank destroyed. A personnel carrier vanishes in another pulse of light, the troops inside killed instantly as the air in their lungs turns to flame. Out of position and unable to return fire, the line of artillery quickly becomes a mass of burning, twisted metal.
The roar of engines howls down from the sky - another UNSynaps transport. It banks right violently, trying to swing clear of the fray. MARI's head snaps up, its rifle following a fraction of a second later.
The engines of the transport explode under the sudden strike of light, transforming the craft's awkward turn into a flaming fall from the sky. The fuselage erupts as it clashes with the water, sending up sheets of white that nearly - but not quite - douse its fires. What remains sinks slowly into the foam, a column of black smoke marking its grave.)
UN Command: All UNS transports redirect to secondary flight plan. Repeat, all UNS transports avoid the combat area, hostile is within weapon range!
(MARI is only a hundred metres from the shore.
Missiles streak down out of the sky, landing in a wide criss-cross of explosions around the Eva. It is the fighter craft - their air-to-air missiles fired blindly without the aid of a radar-based lock. Some even manage to strike the half-submerged Evangelion - but like the shells and missiles before them, they have no effect.
As the aircraft pull out of their dives, two are destroyed in crisp detonations as MARI's rifle sends pulses of deadly laser light. A third is clipped, a wing shearing away in half-molten globs. Flaming and spiralling, the fighter smashes against the cliffside. The modified Evangelion does not wait, but charges for the shore, kicking up sprays of water as it leaps. It clears the cliffside and lands on solid ground as distant shapes in the skies above begin to converge - more UN aircraft.
A leap carries MARI over the wreckage of the destroyed convoy. Giant feet slam into the loamy earth as the Evangelion continues its advance towards the final UNSynaps facility. It begins to run, thundering across grasslands and shattering a wide swath through the forest.
The UN aircraft follow, desperate to intercept it. By now heavier craft have answered the call - VTOL craft armed with heavy loads of missiles. Streaking after MARI, they launch volleys of rockets at the Evangelion - a swarm of missiles that turn the air white with their exhaust.
The missiles strike - some on MARI, eclipsing the armored giant with multiple explosions that roll out in waves of heat. Other missiles are knocked aside by the fireballing impact and smash into the countryside, shattering trees and setting the forest aflame. But MARI continues its run, its dark shape looming out of the fireball, still heading on a dead straight path.
The UN craft are by no means finished yet. Another swarm of missiles falls upon MARI, blossoming in hundreds of fireballs that cover the Evangelion's body like fiery blisters. The missiles are fired blindly - the Evangelion gives them no heat or radar signiture to track - and it is only the sheer number of missiles that fill the air that means that the target is struck.
This time the Eva seems to stumble, broken in its stride as even more missiles explode upon impact. Now the creature is halted - the UN aircraft scream past their target, unable to slow in time, and circle around to fire again. More rockets are fired in streams of white exhaust - MARI now stands in a burning forest as missiles impact harmlessly on its AT field.
Its laser rises and fires. One VTOL craft is impaled on the shaft of light and bursts into flame, falling in burning fragments to the forest canopy below. Without pause MARI turns and fires again, and another craft explodes under the glare of laser light.
The craft pull away, still firing their payloads off, but their missiles seem to do little but slow down the Evangelion's deadly counter attack. The moment the flames from the explosions have cleared around its head it aims and fires again. Four more fall, obliterated by its rifle, before the other VTOL craft turn and flee, their missile supplies exhausted. But MARI's laser seeks them out, briefly touching them as they retreat.
Not one of the dozens of intercept craft escape the fight. Each one is destroyed in a burst of light and flame.
The next wave of UN defenders fails before they even fire a shot off - MARI's laser reaches miles into the sky to impale its targets. Dozens more craft fall, unable to approach near enough to even fire blindly. In a few minutes, the sky around MARI is clear of UN craft - only smoke and a few falling pieces of burning debris remain. Any craft venturing within reach of its cannon is destroyed in a single, precise laser shot.
The Evangelion resumes its steady progress towards the Evreux compound.)
Operator: The last transport will finish fueling in two minutes.
Anouilh: (thinking) The last transport.
(He hadn't said anything. But the sole remaining techician - the others having been sent out to evacuate in earlier transports - has made a special emphasis on that word. The last transport. The last one that they will be able to send before MARI reaches them.)
Anouilh: What about the UN forces?
Operator: Aircraft are heading in from the south and east, trying to stay below its radar. They're having a bit of trouble staying low enough to avoid drawing attention. The closest wing has already lost one craft from flying above the-
Anouilh: Call them off.
Operator: Call them off, sir?
Anouilh: And order the blockade to disperse - there's no point in wasting any more lives at this point.
(The operator dives into his last orders, sending urgent messages to the UN forces to fall back. Between orders the young man glances out the window at the aircraft on the field, and back towards Jean-Phillip Anouilh, who is still standing beside him.
Anouilh doesn't leave until the operator himself has finished.)
(It blots out the morning sun as it hurtles over the perimeter of the compound.
The concrete under MARI's feet fractures as the Eva lands in a crouch, its rifle raised and panning across the base, searching for targets. Its sensors - both the flesh and blood as well as the advanced systems - crawl over the length and breadth of the base.
The sun is still low on the horizon; the buildings throw shadows that stretch long and dark. MARI advances, its blue-black armor fading in and out of the steep shadows, its gaze tracking around it as it stalks deeper into the base. The Evangelion's rifle turns with the creature, ready to release a burst of laser light in an instant. Its aim drifts over the runway, between the buildings, over the windows and the guard towers and the fenceline.
But Evreux is empty. There are no personnel, no aircraft, no ground vehicles.. no tanks, no fighters, no bombers, no automated defences. Not a shot is fired at the giant invader - not a single gun turret turns to follow its movement, not a single soldier to fire or flee. The UNSynaps base is silent.
Vast steps carry MARI across the compound to its target - the Eva storage facility. The structure is similar to the ones it had looted in Nantes and Aurillac; mostly underground, only the topmost pinacle emerging from its subterranian nest, with a vast set of hanger doors built into the roof. MARI halts; the hanger doors are open.
It approaches, its rifle poised to fire, but there is nothing to see. The storage silo is empty - the Evangelions are gone. Its goal has escaped.
MARI steps away from the building, turning its head and scanning the horizon, searching the distant skies for vehicles that might have carried -
- the incoming objects are picked up by its sensors. Multiple targets. Small, steep trajectory, high velocity.
These is not attack craft.
These are N2 mines.
The Evangelion raises its rifle skywards and fires. An N2 mine, streaking downwards in a white plume of propellant, is vaporized by the beam.
Another shot - another mine destroyed.
Pulses of laser fire blast up into the sky, destroying the incoming missiles before they can arm themselves. The bombs flare like comets as their armored cases burn white hot. Some are not even N2 mines, but are instead dummy projectiles intended to draw fire away from the real threats.
The base is empty - as a trap - and now the skies are suddenly full of falling death. The UN had certainly not intended to give up with only a whimper.
MARI aquires targets at incredible speed, firing without pause, striving to keep the swarm of mines at a distance. But there are scores of them, all directed with vicious intent at their target. In all, the storm of N2 mines number sixty-three.. everything the UN could get on very short notice.
Out of the sixty-three, MARI's pinpoint accuracy destroys forty-eight of the descending bombs.
What remains is more than enough for some spectacular fireworks.
Shadows are pinned to the ground by the burning light that rains out of the sky. For a brief instant every building, every tree, every fencepole is a stark black shadow against a ground that glows with the fire from above.
The shockwave rips the outer walls from each building, shattering glass, and tearing brick, plaster and steel from their moorings - in many cases melting and fusing them to the ground. Branches are stripped from trees, the trees then splintering to pieces that warp and smoke in the sudden, incredible heat. The radar tower is instantly smashed, the structure stripped of its plating and blasted away leaving only a skeleton of supports and beams. Almost instantly these pylons surrender, melting beneath the hellstorm of N2 detonation.
The sonic boom of the shockwave turns the air white, a giant ripple in the sky that washes outwards. This ripple slowly expands, racing out from ground zero, a white hot coal at the very core of the blast.
It is a burning insanity of light - no, lights, clustered together in a mass of fire in the centre of what had been the Evreux base a fraction of a second eariler. Multiple N2 mine blasts merge into a single mass of energy, rising upwards, swelling into blackening clouds, mushrooming out over the suddenly torn landscape. What little is left of the surface structures is picked up by the raging wind and tossed away on a wave of dust, debris, rock and worse..)
(All is quiet.
Two schoolchildren sit on the grass of the park.
There is a cautious space between the pair; Tenkei looking down at his half-eaten sandwich without appetite while Rei sits crosslegged, her eyes closed. The swings - only a few feet away from them - are motionless, their creaky chains hanging still and silent.
Normally Tenkei would sit on those swings as Rei gently pushed him, sending him up in long arcs. It was a comforting ritual, something they would do to briefly slip into the roles of mother and child. But they do not use the swings today - nor had they used them Monday lunchtime, the last time they met here..
Tenkei has not mentioned Rei's dream since then. He did not have to - he has felt the question in the air, unspoken, but always present. There is a distance between the two, and it is not simply a physical distance as they sit, separated by a small stretch of grass. Now it is a distance that can be felt in their silence.
A new sound intrudes - the regular pattering rhythm of leather on pavement as a man crosses the park during his lunch break. The two children have seen him here before; he has taken this shortcut through the park nearly every day. Like the other, rare people who are familiar enough with this park to have noticed the two schoolchildren's visit, he has grown a little accustomed to meeting Rei and Tenkei around this hour. On most days they could expect a "hello" or "good day" from this courageous stranger.
But today it is as if they are not there - the man passes by without a word, almost like he cannot see them - or they do not wish their privacy to be intruded upon by even a word of greeting.)
(The pale-haired boy looks over at his "mother", then away again. He is almost surprised by a thought - he is, for the first time, looking forward to the end of their lunch break. It is not a revelation the boy finds particularly pleasing.
This time should be a blessing. It should be.. fun? It should be the time he spends with her, not the time when he feels most distant..
The ringing of a mobile phone comes almost as a relief. The sound, emanating from Rei's schoolbag - scarcely three feet away, breaks the silence. The First Child reaches for her bag quickly, the act in itself raising another question in Tenkei's mind - was she, too, looking forward to the end of their time together?
A slender hand retrieves the phone and holds it as it rings. Tenkei, still sitting on the grass, looks up at the First Child as she shoulders her bag. Her crimson eyes flicker from the phone to the boy just once before she walks a short distance away, as if for privacy.
A small gesture that means so much.
He watches her take the call, raising the mobile phone to her ear. Whatever the message is, Tenkei cannot hear it, but a suspicion - or perhaps a hope - occurs to him.)
Tenkei: .. she is coming?
(As Rei takes the call, her voice is expressionless - but as she turns away towards the boy, apparently recieving her orders, he catches a glimpse again - something in her face, perhaps the sudden cast of her gaze - a flicker of emotion is all - and everything fits together. With a slight flinch she thumbs off the mobile and turns towards the boy to speak some words of parting, but the Ev.N complement already knows what is to be said - and now knows what has been in the young girl's thoughts of late..
She is coming.)
TO BE CONTINUED...