fanfic_mausoleum_n_grill: (NGE)
fanfic_mausoleum_n_grill ([personal profile] fanfic_mausoleum_n_grill) wrote2009-10-04 08:11 pm

Evangelion: Redemption (Ch. 8 of 19) Part 1 of 2

Neon Genesis Evangelion

EVA-R Prime Extension

Version 8.2

Alex Voutsis

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 - 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

Stand By Me

Another's Touch

Thanks for Caring

House of Cards

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

In the Shadows

The events in this story follow on directly from Episode 07, House of Cards.

(The steady fluorescent lights in the cage control room hum softly.

Their sound is quiet but steady; difficult to hear unless one is in complete silence.

Another sound interrupts, a brush of fingers against paper - a page being turned.

Yuri Furikawa licks her thumb to turn the page, continuing her reading of the worn paperback. Found that very evening on the opposite console, Yuri has something to whittle away the remainder of the graveyard shift with. Without the company of another technician to talk to, Yuri sits the console watch alone, and if it wasn't for the book, she is absolutely sure her night would be one of total boredom, probably ending in sleep at her station.

She pauses in her reading long enough to take a sip from her coffee cup - caffeine being the only other way of resisting dereliction of duty. Returning to her novel, she flips to yet another page in the drama, a frown forming as more of the story is revealed. The central character discovers a new plot element, turning villains into victims, heroes into villians and victims into.. leaning into the story, the technician fails to notice the steel wave that soundlessly fills the plexiglass window of the chamber.

The viewing screen of the cage control room is obliterated in an instant. The wall smashes into a million tiny slivers of steel and plexiglass that blast into the room as something - huge and terrifyingly fast - hurtles overhead and slams into the back wall. Yuri screams in panic, dropping from her seat as electrical cables and metal plating is torn from its patterned placement, showering down upon the cowering technician.)

Yuri: (screaming)

(In the space of a breath there comes another sound, the shriek of tearing metal, as something bulky - and undoubtedly deadly - withdraws from the room. The alert systems kick in, with the clamor of sirens joining the sounds of falling debris as another tremendous impact slams through the console a bare metre away. Amid the roaring sound of the destruction , Yuri is thrown from her hiding place, and with a short, graceless flight, hits the far wall, the back of her head making violent contact with the steel surface.

The woman slumps against the wall, dazed, in the shadow of the enormous shape that has punched its way into the control room not once but twice. Her stunned eyes do not see the shattered remains of the control seat, now scattered about the room - the seat that, by chance, she had chosen not to sit in for this shift.

In the space of twenty seconds, the room has been reduced to a chaos of shattered glass, sparking wires, and clouds of powdered concrete. Amid the twisted slivers of steel and debris, still falling as a result of the devastating impacts, Yuri's eyes glaze over. Sliding to the ground, her head turns towards the source of the destruction.

The Eva cage, the room beyond the shattered, gaping opening, where a hellish white glow slowly fades, along with her consciousness...)


(The phone is ringing.

Apart from the strident call of the telephone, blaring out in the 2 am silence, there is little else to hold the attention of the small penguin - except for the empty beer can, that is.

Its normally smooth, curved surface bears a vicious dent. It causes the can to warble as it rolls, awkwardly, it makes its way across the floor of the corridor, rolling and rolling, end over end, slower and slower. This can - and others like it - had once been in the kitchen sink, stacked one atop another into a small tower. A silent monument to Misato Katsuragi's drinking habits, it had been built up when the Major more or less felt like it.

But a quick strike from a fist, a burst of frustration and anger, had knocked the cans down, sending this particular one rolling down the corridor where it encountered Pen Pen.)

Pen Pen: (gazing at can) .. Quaa?

(The phone continues ringing as the dented can rolls to a stop against the penguin's furry belly.

A cup of coffee rests on the kitchen table; due to the penguin's small size, the cup is out of Pen Pen's line-of-sight. As a result, the penguin does not find reason to wonder about Misato's strange choice of drink; Normally, her taste for beer meant that coffee went untouched, and rarely purchased. A tin of coffee lasts a long time in the Katsuragi household.

A cup clinks down into its saucer; Misato leaves the room, grabbing her jacket from the back of her chair as she departs. Pen Pen is left alone with a coffee cup he cannot see, and a telephone he cannot answer.

The phone stops ringing abruptly as the answering machine takes over.)

Misato: (recording) Hi, I'm not in right now, so.. leave your message after the beep, 'kay? Bye!

Shigeru: (phone) Major - sorry to call you at such an early hour. There's been an incident. Commander Fuyutsuki wants you to get here as soon as possible - we'll be sending someone if you don't call us in about 10 minutes...

(The door hisses shut behind Katsuragi as she leaves the apartment, Shigeru's voice still emanating from the speaker of her answering machine.. droning out details to which only the penguin hears.)


(The hiss of a door; the scuff of boots, and finally, the low electrical sound of an elevator motor. Misato Katsuragi steps expressionlessly from the square of light that is the apartment lift into the almost pitch black of the car park.

Frequent returns home late at night has given the woman a sureness of step that a stranger would lack in the absolute darkness. Knowingly, Misato threads her way through a row of trash-laden bins and moves along the side of the apartment block on the way to her car. Fingers numb from the frigid night air, she gropes awkwardly in the right pocket of her bomber jacket, looking for her keys.

A sudden blaze of light causes Katsuragi to freeze in her tracks. There is a deep rumble, followed by a throaty roar - and Misato jumps sideways, flatting herself against the wall, almost stumbling over a pile of trash in her haste. As Misato struggles to save herself from the squishy and altogether unthinkable contents of the plastic refuse bags, there is a roar of an engine and a squeal of tires as the vehicle pulls out of the lot.

A sure hand on the soggy remnants of residential trash rights her as the car moves past in a blur - and for one fleeting second as she rises from the smelly recess, the Major catches sight of the driver..)

Misato: (surprised) ..

(Seyoko Okazaki, however, doesn't seem to even notice the Major as she drives off.)

Misato: (watching the car exit) ..

(Slightly shaken, but refusing to give up on her present course, the Major takes time out from her silent brooding to issue a single comment on the passing in the night..)

Misato: Where the hell is she going?


(Seyoko Okazaki frowns and pushes her automatic pistol into its shoulder holster, reluctantly adding a spare ammunition clip to her duffel bag.)

Seyoko: (sighing) Can't be too careful I guess.

(Since discovering the ticket the previous day, it had been Okazaki's purpose to meet the enigma that had purchased it.

There are five board members of the Marduke Agency. Two are Seyoko's superior officers - no chance of getting any answers there - and two others work out of the country. Her only remaining chance for information rests upon one man, the last remaining name listed on the Marduke's board of directors.

A man named Chiba Kimio.

She had hit a break when she had discovered the entry under his name - Kimio had booked a ticket for a train almost across the island state of Honshu. Finally, a chance to talk to someone who might provide her with some answers.

The ticket is for the first train of the morning, leaving from a station nearly four hours drive away, and destined for Tokyo-2.

To miss the train is to miss the man; the only chance of her finding what she sought, the reasoning behind Evangelion pilot selection criteria, would pass from her reach. Her only hope lay in reaching Kimio; if necessary, she could trump up some charge and detain him.)

Seyoko: (muttering) I can always flash my damned useless NERV ID..

(Her heavily laden duffel bag is dumped unceremoniously in the passenger seat of her car. The bag is hefty, containing a small food supply and a few 'tools of the trade'. As Seyoko had just noticed, one cannot be too careful - especially when walking into an unknown situation.

The woman pauses beside her car long enough to pull from the duffel an extremely heavy-looking all-weather coat. Closer inspection would reveal this coat to contain hidden plates of kevlar sewn within the inner lining; the coat was not just protection from rain and wind, but also from incoming projectiles.

Scrunching her regular jacket into a mindless ball, she crams it in her bag and walks quickly around the car, reaching for her keys.)

Seyoko: ..

(A moment later, the car's engine breaks into a throaty roar. The woman guns the engine, quickly flicking on the lights and pulling out of her parking space. Wholly absorbed in thoughts of the trip before her, she barely notices a shadow falling out of the way of the vehicle..

The highbeamed headlights of her car flash over etchings and various abuse spraypainted on the concrete side of the apartment block as she accelerates and turns out into the street.

The streets are empty at this time of night, but Seyoko is unwilling to risk being pulled over. She stays within the speed limit as she heads for the outskirts of the city and the various expressways to the sister city of Tokyo-2.

She left well in advance for her appointment. If all goes as planned, she should arrive at dawn, and well before the man she wishes to question can make an escape..)

Seyoko: (driving) ..

(The Lieutenant glances down at the clock in the dashboard.

It reads 2:04 am.)


(Deep beneath the surface of the city, in the NERV medical facility..)

Maya: (exaggerating words) Yuri, when did it happen?

(Yuri Furikawa sits on an examination table, a slight squint on her face as she struggles to answer her colleague and friend, Maya Ibuki. Yuri's head has been bound lightly with gauze, which also holds a pair of bandages to her ears. Yuri, apart from the expected share of bruises and a stunning welt on the back of the head, appears otherwise unharmed.)

Yuri: (speaking loudly) After 0130 hours - I think that was when I last checked the clock.

Maya: (loudly) Was there any warning?

(Yuri dumbly shakes her head in the negative, drawing a puzzled look from her superior officer.)

Yuri: (loudly) No.. it just..

(The woman thrusts an arm out, swinging it wildly, almost tipping herself off the patient couch. Maya moves forward, lending a supporting arm. From the doorway, Fuyutsuki is expressionless, engrossed in a clipboard - the results from the doctor's examination. Having served as a doctor - of sorts - immediately following Second Impact, the Vice Commander of NERV reads the medical analysis, his head lowered in study.

He is interrupted by a voice; someone calling out as she approaches.)

Misato: (calling) Sir! Commander?

(Fuyutsuki turns to face the Major as hurries in, pulling up at the doorway.)

Misato: What happened? I was told when I got here that Furikawa had been injured on night duty.. that there had been an incident of some kind.

Fuyutsuki: (glancing down at clipboard) Yes. There appears to be no permanent damage, according to the report.. some hearing loss and bruising, a concussion, but the doctors have told me that it should all be temporary - very fortunate, given the circumstances.

Misato: Circumstances? What happened?

Fuyutsuki: (curiously) Didn't Shigeru get in contact with you?

Misato: (embarrassed) ... I left hurriedly.. a minimum of details.

Fuyutsuki: Then I'll trust the Chairperson to brief you..

(The Vice-Commander turns towards Maya who still supports her dazed friend.)

Fuyutsuki: .. Ms Ibuki?

(Maya Ibuki, Project-E Chairperson and Yuri's workmate, looks up from her loud 'discussion' at the Vice-Commander's request.)

Fuyutsuki: If you could show the Major the control room?

Maya: (nodding) Yes sir.


Misato: What.. the hell?

(Stepping into the cage control room has become like stepping into the Eva 'cage' itself. The viewscreen is gone; so has the entire wall. T is separating the chambers except the temporary yellow guardrails. The destruction is incredible; a vast, shattered hole opens up where steel and concrete once was. Misato approaches slowly, feeling every step over the rubble-strewn floor, eyeing cracks in the walls and ceiling. It feels, almost, as if what is left of the chamber is on the brink of collapsing.

A single control bank still remains, its screen a spiderweb of cracks, its keyboard useless, clotted with debris. The other consoles have been totally destroyed, torn from the wall and crushed like aluminum cans.)

Misato: What happened here? (looking up) Oh.. oh my God.

(Rising up above them, it's giant arm outstretched, is the figure of Evangelion Unit 02. The left hand of the Eva, gray armor dusty from the collapse, had gouged - or to be more accurate, punched - a path through the reinforced wall of the chamber.

Now, it is silent - frozen in its last movement, it seems to be staring into the room with its now-unlit eyes.

It had shattered the barrier between the cage and the control room, withdrawn its fist, and had smashed the entire length of its arm through the room - reaching out further - when whatever spark of life had made it move had faltered..)

Maya: (quietly) As you can see, the damage to the chamber has left it without any functioning capacity. Another room will have to be rigged to serve as cage control until repairs can be made.

Misato: (staring at Unit 02) I .. guessed that.

(Misato carefully steps through debris on the floor, making her way to the sole surviving console - the one that Yuri had huddled under during the ten seconds of chaos. Resting on the console, still proudly displaying it's NERV logo, is Yuri's coffee mug. Tiny shards of steel and slivers of glass mix with the congealed concrete powder and cold coffee in the cup.

Katsuragi contemplates taking a sip - for the briefest possible instant.

The Major raises her gaze once more, this time following the dusty red plates of the Eva. The remains of the restraint system hang in shreds from EVA-02's arms and shoulders, their 'restraint' proven so utterly to be ineffective.)

Misato: How did Unit Two activate?

Maya: (flatly) I don't know. We don't know.

(Misato turns to look at the woman - Maya simply shakes her head at the unspoken question.)

Maya: There was no control interface, no power input whatsoever. The Eva wasn't even on standby.

Misato: Then..

(Maya Ibuki takes a few more steps towards the hole in the wall - she stops at the protective barrier, staring out at the crimson form of Unit 02. Powerless, its steel clad head hangs forward from the shoulders, the faceplates frozen in their 'open' configuration - a sign that the Eva had, at least, opened its eyes as it charged mindlessly forward.)

Maya: Once we can jury-rig a backup system, we can do a remote examination of the Unit - check it's internal power supply, the nerve relays.. maybe find a cause for this.

(Misato joins her colleague at the edge of safety, her hands on the yellow safety rail, her gaze locked on the giant crimson war machine.)

Misato: But you already have a pretty good idea, don't you?

(Ibuki doesn't answer - she turns slightly, back towards the doorway, as Shigeru pokes his head into the room. Having already seen the destruction, it is of little surprise to him now.)

Shigeru: The Commander has ordered that the head of Project-E meet in him and Commander Fuyutsuki in forty minutes. You've been asked to attend as well, Major; Commander Ikari thinks this incident may be a threat to NERV operations.

(In a moment, the console operator has ducked out again. The Project-E Chairperson and the Director of Operations stand silently by the gaping hole, gazing out at the frozen giant, each lost in their own thoughts.

Finally, it is Ibuki - not Misato - who speaks.)

Maya: It's not a threat, Misato..

(The older woman looks over, taking note of the use of her name..)

Maya: .. not the way they think, at least.

Misato: ...


Gendo: Chairperson?

(Misato does her best to push back the urge to sleep and struggles to remains attentive. Maya Ibuki steps forwards; as the new director of Project-E, she will most likely have many questions to answer during this meeting..

Upon the far wall is a projection display - presently blank. Chairs are laid out in the large conference room in a neat arch, with each chair facing the projector screen. The Commanders, the gray-haired Kouzou Fuyutsuki and impassive Gendo Ikari, are both seated, wearing stern expressions; Misato Katsuragi has also found a chair, farthest from the Commander, where she pours over some blueprints, maps dug reluctantly out of the archives by Shigeru at this early hour.

No one looks particularly happy to be present; it seems to early in the morning to be faced with 'security issues'. The only exception is Commander Ikari - Misato frowns, but it is almost as if the man's face is touched with a hint of satisfaction. Most likely, he already knows everything that will be reported here; as he usually seems to. In a free moment between blueprint examinations and keeping up an attentive appearance, the Major wonders if this meeting is really anything more than a formality.

At the front of the room, Ibuki begins her 'report'.)

Maya: At approximately 0150 hours this morning, Evangelion Unit Two spontaneously activated and, in the following ten to twenty seconds of motion, caused severe damage to the Cage control room.

(Maya depresses a button on the control in her hand - the lights in the room instantly fade as the projector flashes an image onto the screen. Dominating the picture is Unit 02, having torn its upper body clear of its restraints and rammed one gray-armored hand into the Cage control room.

The shattered opening which the Eva had torn in the reinforced wall seems incredibly small from Misato's viewpoint. Less than an hour before she had been standing at the same yawning gash; it had looked far more impressive.)

Maya: In this instance, Eva was able to function without a power source and without a pilot interface. The only precedent we have for this kind of activity is the behavior of Evangelion Unit One, on or around the arrival of the Third Child, and during several Angel attacks.

-(flashback)- Misato: Was it willing to protect something.. to protect him?

Maya: In the interests of caution, we must assume a connection; Unit 02 has always been the most dependable - the most stable Evangelion we possess, but in light of this incident, an unpowered activation..

Gendo: (steadily) If Unit Two continues this trend, it will become increasingly hazardous to leave in an operational status - just as Unit 01 was.

Fuyutsuki: Cryostasis?

(Gendo nods once; Fuyutsuki turns to Misato.)

Fuyutsuki: Major? Do you have anything to add or recommend?

(Misato looks up, away from the blueprints of NERV central - more specifically, a cross section of the Cage control room. She pauses long enough to shuffle her notes, dropping the layouts to one side of her chair as she stands to answer.)

Misato: Unit One has been unstable in the past, sir, as we know.

(There are nods around the chamber, indicating agreement.)

Misato: But the incidents were relatively rare, never followed closely. The Unit performed satisfactorily for several months - Shinji was able to safely pilot Unit One in combat on multiple occasions. I believe that we still have at least that time before it becomes too dangerous for Asuka to synchronize with Evangelion Unit Two.

Fuyutsuki: (seriously) You suggest..

Misato: I would suggest an examination of the Unit, Sir.. (raising her voice) but I must strenuously object to cryostasis of the Evangelion! Maintaining an effective Eva combat force has always been a top priority, and with Shinji sick, he won't be fit for combat - that leaves Rei in Unit Zero, Asuka in Unit T-

Gendo: (interrupting) The Second Child will be unable to pilot the Eva due to her present condition.

(Misato pulls herself up in mid-sentence; as she begins her next question, Fuyutsuki adds to Ikari's startling revelation.)

Fuyutsuki: The condition she and the Third Child shared has.. become severe. They have both been hospitalized.

Misato: What..? When?

Fuyutsuki: A short while ago - perhaps an hour. You would have been informed at a more appropriate time, Major - had this not occurred.

(Misato nods in understanding, forcing back a question that sticks out like a sore thumb in the Vice-Commander's statement.)

Misato: (thinking) How did he know they were both sick - that they shared the sickness?

(Fuyutsuki's expression, however, reveals nothing - in fact, the aged man seems to be regarding Misato in turn. Misato glances over to Maya - but the chairperson appears just as surprised by the turn of events as the Major herself.)

Misato: (slowly) In that case, sir.. Two days ago, we could have counted on having three operational Evas - now, we can only be sure of one..

Gendo: The Sixth Child has been able to synchronize satisfactorily with Unit Two.

Fuyutsuki: (startled) But Unit Two..

Maya: (simultaneously objecting) The Eva went berserk, Sir! I agree that Asuka might be able to synchronize with the Unit, but placing Anouilh within an Eva that may see him as incompatible..

Fuyutsuki: (agreeing) Too great a risk.

Maya: Too great a risk for the pilot, the Eva, and this entire facility, sir.

Gendo: (calmly) It is not my intention to place the boy in Unit Two. We have another option - Unit One.

Misato: (taken aback) Put Lyn in Unit One? Sir, that seems an even worse option -

Gendo: (interrupting) The Second Child was able to synchronize with Unit One successfully - you even supported the event, Major.

Misato: (wincing) ..!

Maya: But that was Asuka! A different pilot may be completely incompatible!

Gendo: Maintaining an effective Eva combat force should be our top priority, should it not, Major Katsuragi?

Misato: ..

Gendo: (finality) Schedule an activation with Unit One .. and the Sixth Child.

(With that cold statement, the Commander of NERV stands, signaling louder than words that the meeting was at an end. Maya passes a significant glance at Misato as she steps by, leaving the room.

Even Fuyutsuki looks concerned; in fact, the only straight face as the meeting comes to an end is Gendo Ikari. He calmly collects what little documents he had brought and leaves, seemingly satisfied with the outcome.

And yet, Major Katsuragi lingers. Waiting a moment for everyone to ensure she is alone, she pulls the blueprints out from under her pile of notes, eyeing them carefully. That Commander Ikari seems satisfied with the outcome of the meeting is enough to tell Misato that something suspicious is going on. Instead, she turns her thoughts to the Vice-Commander's remark, and something that Maya touched upon earlier in the rubble of Cage Control.

Laying the map out on a desk, Katsuragi bites her lip as she attempts to fathom the NERV layout from the blueprints. She never really was the kind to grasp maps easily - at least, where the NERV layout was concerned. Getting lost was the easiest thing for her to do..)

-(flashback)- Shinji: We've passed this spot twice already.

(A slight smile plays over the Major's face, fading quickly. The boy that she remembered is now in hospital - and it is the hospital that concerns her. Touching her finger to a point on the map representing Cage Control, she feels in her pocket for a felt pen, thinking about a remark she made on the day of Shinji's arrival - a remark that strikes a chord in her mind.)

-(flashback)- Misato: Was it willing to protect something.. to protect him?

(Pressing pen to paper, she goes to work.. using the edge of a book as a crude ruler, she quickly locates the cage in which Evangelion Unit 02 was stored. Pressing the edge of the book over Cage Control, she begins to trace a line, starting at the Eva Cage, following the direction of the Evangelion's outstretched arm, passing through the control room, proceeding through various parts of NERV..

.. secondary ventilation..

.. technician locker rooms..

Misato unfolds the map, continuing the crude line until it reaches its destination..

.. the NERV Hospital.)

Misato: ..

(Pen and paper flutter to the floor - as the now empty room echoes with the sound of Misato's running footsteps.)


Fuyutsuki: (calling out) Chairperson!

(Maya Ibuki pauses, turning around to face the Vice-Commander as the old man lengthens his stride to catch up.)

Maya: Sir?

Fuyutsuki: (gesturing) If I may have a moment of your time..

(He doesn't wait for an answer - heading resolutely down the corridor with Ibuki in his wake - his destination is a nearby elevator. He presses the call button as the young woman catches up, voicing a question.)

Maya: Sir? What is this about?

Fuyutsuki: I want your opinion, as director of the technical division of Project E - about attempting the activation of Unit One with the sixth child.

(Maya frowns, yet remains respectfully silent as the light blinks on above the elevator - a signal that the carriage has arrived. The doors hiss open and both the Vice-Commander and the Chairperson step into the elevator.)

Maya: (thoughtfully) I'm not sure..

Fuyutsuki: Do you think its wise to activate Unit 01..?

Maya: (seriously) As long as we keep to the proper safety procedures, and are extra-sensitive to the Evangelion's readouts, we should be able to prevent any incident.

(Fuyutsuki falls silent, reaching into his pocket with one hand, pulling out a small keyring on which hangs a single key. Maya blinks at it ignorantly before recognizing it - for she has one of her own.

It is the key to the lower levels of NERV, restricted to all but the highest personnel, where 'sensitive' elements can be found - such as Terminal Dogma. To fill in the silence of Maya's surprise, Fuyutsuki modifies his original question..)

Fuyutsuki: I've no doubt that the safety procedures are adequate.. but do you think it is right to activate Unit 01 with the Sixth Child?

(It is now Maya's turn to offer silence as she ponders the question, weighing the issues in her mind.)

Maya: (slowly) If the decision was up to me..

Fuyutsuki: ..

Maya: .. no. No, I wouldn't activate the Eva. Asuka and Shinji surely will be able to pilot their Eva's soon.. I only learned tonight of Shinji's admittance to hospital, and..

Fuyutsuki: (quietly) It's a little bit more serious than that.

Maya: ..

(The old man postpones his response, slipping the key into the elevator lock and turning. A keypress - Maya doesn't quite see which level - and Fuyutsuki returns the key to his pocket.

After a brief pause, the lift begins to descend, an eerie, gut-lifting feeling as the elevator drops the long distance into the bowels of the NERV complex.)

Fuyutsuki: (quietly) I've been thinking such things for some time now - that if decisions were up to me I would not authorize what is being authorized.

Maya: ..

(The elevator shudders and stops - the screen above the button panel reads the message IDENTITY VERIFICATION. Fuyutsuki pulls out his card, labelled with ALPHA LEVEL CLEARANCE, and slides it into the slot beside the screen.

After a moment, the card is ejected into the Vice-Commander's hand, and the elevator continues in its descent.)

Fuyutsuki: (briskly) But Commander Ikari is in charge, and while so, his orders must be followed.

Maya: ..

Fuyutsuki: However, I've been noticing the work you have been putting into Project-E.. specifically, the AT field experiments that Commander Ikari has ordered over the past weeks. Because of this, I think there's something you deserve to see.

(Maya turns to the man, ready with an answer when the lift suddenly comes to a stop. She speaks as the doors open with a hiss, revealing a familiar corridor.)

Maya: This is the level where Ritsuko.. Dr. Akagi and I created Tenkei..

(The Vice-Commander of NERV steps out of the elevator without a backwards glance, proceeding smoothly down the hall, taking for granted that the Project-E chairperson will follow behind. His tone is light, even humored as he continues what he was saying in the elevator, almost as if Ibuki had not spoken at all.)

Fuyutsuki: (cynical chuckle) Actually, it's more along the lines of 'your help is needed', Chairperson.

Maya: ..

Fuyutsuki: (losing his smile) And I doubt we would have been able to keep this from you for much longer.

Fuyutsuki: As you know I have a background in the sciences; as a professor at University I had done my dabble in chemistry, some more work in genetics.. This, however, is a little beyond what I learned in university..

(Fuyutsuki comes to a stop before a large steel panel in the wall. Its only distinguishing marks are the high security code panel to one side of the door, and the number stenciled above - #714. The man's fingers play a six-digit series across the keypad as he speaks, his voice gone cold, and deadly serious..)

Fuyutsuki: .. and I was hoping you could shed some light on the situation.

(The door slides open with barely a whisper - and what lies beyond in the yellow light of the laboratory leaves Maya totally, absolutely stunned.)

Maya: (whispering) Oh my God..

Fuyutsuki: (grimly) Do you think you can help me?

Maya: (frightened) I .... I don't know...


(The air still has a stale feeling to it. The filtered, air-conditioned atmosphere of the hospital has, as before, a used-up taste. The breeze from the ventilation mixes with the antiseptic to make a familiar smell that is felt only at the edges of Misato's awareness.

The woman rushes down the corridor; her shoes squeak with each impact on the tiles. Moving at a jog past a sleepy night attendant, the Major heads for a familiar location: the ward where she had last seen Asuka, sitting miserably at Shinji's bedside.

Katsuragi thrusts herself through the door, panting for breath and hitting the lightswitch. The overhead fitting flickers as it lights up, revealing the room's contents.

The hospital bed, and the chair beside it, are both empty. The two children that Katsuragi had left there, only a few hours before, are gone.)

Misato: (looking around) ..

(The room seems neat; nothing appears out of place. The crisp whiteness of the bedsheets, freshly tucked and folded, reveal that the covers have been replaced since Misato had last been here - in the time since Shinji lay in that bed.)

Misato: (turning away) ..

(The intern, young man who - in a few years - might become a fully qualified doctor, yelps in fright as the scowling Major looms out of the dimly lit corridor before him. Mercilessly, the dark-haired woman takes the attendant in hand and leads him back to his desk for a few pointed questions.

The answers are not the ones she wants.)

Intern: I'm sorry, there's no record here of the Third Child being brought in for treatment tonight.. or yesterday.

Misato: Are you sure?

Intern: (pointing) The log here has all patients.. I've only been here for the past hour so.. maybe the guy on shift before me forget to record it.. I can check if you want..

(But they are the answers she expected.)

Misato: (walking away) Don't bother.

(For to the woman, the factors all add up to a single, unpleasant answer; they have been taken.

Misato already knows who. More importantly, she knows that she will not get answers by simply asking questions. She has had too much experience in being blocked by the solid wall of silence that NERV erects around its less-than-respectable enterprises.

"Shared." That was what he had said.

A brief comment dropped by Fuyutsuki - which, Misato reflects quietly, may well have been intentional. The calm way with which Commander Ikari received the news. Katsuragi cannot deny the obvious: It was on orders from a higher authority that the children were taken. They had already known about the illness.

It was on orders from this same authority that cleaned the room, replaced the sheets, deleted the records, removed all evidence that anything had happened.

And it would be on the orders of the higher authority that would block Misato's search for the children - if she goes through official channels.

The only thing this higher authority could not prevent - or perhaps predict - was the reaction of Unit 02. Misato is not totally surprised by the EVA-02's sudden movement; on several occasions she had witnessed Unit 01 move to protect its pilot 's life.

With the same power that had faced Angels, the Evangelion had torn itself from the wall, smashing mindlessly through the control room, reaching hopelessly in a brief flicker of life towards its pilot at - Misato suspects - the exact time they had been threatened.

To reach the answers she seeks, Misato realises, she cannot simply ask questions. To find the children - and to understand Commander Ikari's strange satisfaction with the situation - she must, once again, turn to the shadows.)


(The town is gone.

The cataclysm of the second impact had sent floods through the valley, sweeping away the houses of the community that had dwelt there. The survivors fled to one of the many rescue centres that had been hastily formed to deal with the swelling numbers of the suddenly homeless.

The people never returned to rebuild.

Nature quickly reclaimed the land, with grasses claiming ground first, then trees tentatively taking root, exploring the depths of the land that had been for so long under the sway of human technology.

And now, in the gray of the very early morning, there are no people here. No need for light for seeing, no power grid to run the street lamps. The town is slowly being buried by nature - it is also buried in darkness.

An intruder approaches; headlights, streaming out ahead of the vehicle. The car pulls over to the side of the road, stopping in front of a lone reminder that a town had once been here - the remains of "the road into town", which disappears under the dirt and encroaching grass. The headlights switch off, letting the darkness blanket the land once more.

The only building to survive the floods of the second impact had been the train station; its brick and concrete foundations were too solid to be swept away, the railways too deeply imbedded into the soil to give ground to the flooding waters.

Once, the station was a link to the rest of the world; being on the train line meant growth and prosperity. Now, only the train station remains, even if there is no longer any town for a train to stop at.

Slamming her car door shut, Seyoko Okazaki flicks on her torch. With the white circle of torchlight to guide her, she makes her way across the grassy terrain to the unused train station.

The trains still follow this route, and technically, the station still exists. Though unused and largely unmaintained, the trains stop obediently, waiting for passengers, as rare as they are.

Seyoko runs her torch light across the building, taking in details. She can see that when the crews came here, following the old, half-buried train tracks to install the newer lube-line rails, they hadn't even replaced the lights on the station. The building had been deemed useless, out-of-service, without purpose. An appendix, left to waste away, time and nature eating at its edges.

On the horizon, the glow of the morning sun begins to creep into the sky, letting streams of gold and yellow reach up, blocking out the stars as the sky gains colour. The land is still dark, the air still cool, but the sky is slowly warming with the brilliance of sunrise.)

Seyoko: (walking) ..

(Eventually, Seyoko wanders around behind the building, into the deep shadow of the crumbled rear wall. There, she makes a startling discovery - her torch playing over the motionless figure of a man seated calmly on a bench.

The man is not hiding himself - when Seyoko's torchlight shines over him, he neither flinches nor freezes, merely raising a hand to shield his eyes from the halogen glare.)

Seyoko: (stopping) ..

Man: Seyoko Okazaki?

(Seyoko raises the torch, shining the light upon the man's face. He squints in the brightness.)

Man: I understand you are looking for Chiba Kimio.

(Seyoko does not speak yet - instead, she hedges her response, using the delay to get a good look at the man's features. Dark hair - either black or brown, since the night time and bright torchlight conspire together to hide exact colour - and a clear complexion. His eyes, squinted shut under thin eyebrows, half hidden behind an upraised hand, makes it difficult for Seyoko to see their shade.

He wears a heavy coat against the early morning cold - Okazaki remains cautious, for the coat could conceal weapons in its bulkiness, just as hers conceals protection of her own.)

Man: I would appreciate it if you lowered the torch.. Lieutenant?

Seyoko: First, give me a reason to trust you.

Man: .. a reason?

Seyoko: I came here to talk to someone, and instead find out that I've been set up - I'd like some answers.

Man: (holds hand in front of eyes) I know - that's why you're here. You want answers.

Seyoko: ..

Man: And that's why I'm here talking to you, Lieutenant. You were persistent enough to find the clue I left for you.

(Seyoko instantly recognizes the implications of what the man is saying.)

Seyoko: You bought the ticket?

Man: I don't have to be here - please, the light?

(Reluctantly, Seyoko lowers the beam of light, allowing it to spill on the dusty ground between them.)

Seyoko: (questioningly) You know who I am as well - how long have you been watching me?

Man: Not long - it became apparent quickly enough that we share common goals.

Seyoko: How many more of you are there?

Man: What?

Seyoko: (gestures at the darkness angrily) How many more agents?

(A sound is growing - distant, low, rumbling.. the sound of the approaching train. Still hidden by the trees, the train is not yet in sight, but the sound tells the pair that they have only a few moments before it arrives.)

Man: (feigned astonishment) What, out here, in the middle of nowhere?

Seyoko: (coldly) Exactly the kind of place for a person to 'disappear'.. pardon my cynicism.

Man: (pointedly) That jacket you're wearing looks capable of stopping anything short of artillery, but that doesn't count above the collar, not for a good marksman with a rifle. Since you're not dead yet, that must say something about trust..

(The train appears out of the trees, the sound of it's engine lowering pitch as it pulls in. A brief second after halting, the doors of the train open expectantly, waiting for passengers - as unlikely as it may seem.)

Man: (glancing towards the train) If I wanted you dead, you would be by now. If you can't trust that, I'll just step on this train and be on my way.

(The rays of sunrise from the horizon grow as the sun rises reluctantly, slowly casting its warming glow onto the stationary train carriage.

The operator frowns as he sits in the front of the train, still waiting for his mysterious booking, and briefly speaks into the microphone before him. The train operator is understandably reluctant to venture in the ruins for the sake of a likely hoax passenger.

Still concealed behind the bulk of the station, the man before Seyoko gives her a serious glance - his expression warning: this is your last opportunity.)

Man: Do you trust me, Miss Okazaki?

Seyoko: ..

Man: ..

(The two figures eye each other in the steadily growing dawn.. neither moving, their breath making foggy streams of gray as the train voices its impatience. The alertness horn from the train blares out in the darkness, warning passengers to stay clear of the doors - which finally breaks the moment of tension, drawing a reluctant response from the woman with the flashlight.)

Seyoko: (steadily) For now.

(The man nods. Behind them, the train pulls out, it's monorail system swift and smooth - the operator apparently tired of waiting for his ghost fare. Since the ticket was paid for in advance, there is no doubt as to which party is getting the better deal.

With the possible exception of Seyoko Okazaki. Lured out to an abandoned train station at the hope of meeting Chiba Kimio, she finds herself conversing with a different man - one she is forced to trust. The situation leaves the operative distinctly uncomfortable; especially considering the remark about snipers earlier. Concerned but not cowed, Seyoko rejoins with a pointed statement.)

Seyoko: You mentioned the Marduke Institute.

Man: Yes. (stopping) You understand that I do not have to be here; I'd rather not reveal my identity to.. dangerous people.

Seyoko: You mean me?

Man: I mean your superiors. And the other groups involved.

Seyoko: Commander Ikari? And the Institute's board of directors, I suppose.

Man: You should know - you're here looking for one of them. I would not be surprised if they knew you were here as well. If you were to be questioned, the less you know of me the better.

(The light grows stronger by the moment - Seyoko finds that she no longer needs her torch to make out her surroundings. Flicking the power switch, she tosses the torch back into her duffel bag, letting the heavy pack thud onto the wet grass.)

Seyoko: Then why are you here?

Man: I set up the ticket - a friend of mine arranged a purchase in Kimio's name.

Seyoko: (bluntly) Why? Kimio is one of the board of directors of Marduke - one of your 'dangerous people'. Why risk this?

Man: My reasons? My conscience.

(The unknown informant pauses - perhaps for effect - looking out over the ruins of the train station, watching as the dew slowly beads on the grass in the dawn light.)

Man: An operative I knew looked into Marduke. He was good, most certainly not a rookie; he had done his rounds on the same course that you did, Ms Okazaki. Japanese intelligence has produced some excellent agents, and he was one of them.

Seyoko: ..

Man: I was his liaison when he was checking out our mutual interest, the Marduke Agency. He got close.. very close.

Seyoko: (frowning) How close?

Man: Close enough that they saw his face. He's dead, Okazaki. (quietly) Nearly a year ago now.

Seyoko: ..

(The woman's expression does not reveal that she has recognized the reference to the agent in question; too many things tie together here for her not to make the connection between this dead man, this agent for the Japanese government he refers to, and an old friend that she had heard lost around the city of Tokyo-3 nearly a year ago: Ryoji Kaji.

In fact, all things considered, this sounds a little too neat for Seyoko's liking.)

Man: And I would suggest that you back off from this right now, unless you want to suffer the same.

Seyoko: So that's why you're here? (faintly sarcastic) To protect the poor, fragile woman?

Man: Man, woman.. or kevlar jacket.. doesn't stand up to a bullet to the head. (seriously) These people have no qualms about up close and personal violence.

Seyoko: (thinking) A conscience? Yeah, right.

(Remembering that she has no true reason to trust this man, Seyoko chooses her next words with caution. Trained to not accept things at face value, she knows that what he claims is his intent - to soothe his guilty conscience - might just as easily be a ploy to cover his real motives, whatever they may be.

One fact remains certain: this informant has, as if by accident, provided a pivotal piece of information - a link between her investigations, the work of her former comrade, Kaji, and the Marduke institute.

And if one basic concept of her training held true, it was this: "Accidents" are not.

She would have to be very careful - in case he has any real snipers hidden in the trees.)

Seyoko: Then where is the real Kimio? If he's not on this train, where is he?

Man: (sighing) I wish I knew. Do you know much about Chiba Kimio, Lieutenant?

Seyoko: Not much. He's one of three directors of Marduke that makes his residence in Japan - Kimio, Ikari and Fuyutsuki.

Man: But that's not the only reason you were looking for him, was it?

Seyoko: Not the only reason - his profession. It makes him different from the other directors.

Seyoko: Fuyutsuki is a professor in advanced chemistry. Ikari has a background in bio-engineering, Takahashi has submitted papers to Tokyo-2 university on theoretical physics, and Keel has funded each of these men at some point in their careers.

Man: ..

Seyoko: But Kimio is different. He isn't a scientist, he's a historian.

Man: Yes. In 1995 he was awarded for a paper he had written on comparative religions and Gnostic texts; focusing on prophecies of the apocalypse and something termed by pre-impact religious groups as "Judgement Day", or the second coming. You wouldn't have read the paper by any chance ..?

Seyoko: (flatly) I never seem to find the time.

Man: A shame. I had been told it was quite an amusing work.

Seyoko: Was he also funded by Keel?

Man: Not directly, but (tiredly) these things can be difficult to trace.

Seyoko: (suspiciously) So where is Kimio now?

Man: No one in my department knows for sure; but we've been tracking various attempts to find out - yours included. We have the information drift-net out and hope that someone will, by chance, stumble across something we can use if they can't.

Man: On occasion we get in touch with the especially successful agents, such as yourself, Ms Okazaki.

Seyoko: ..

Man: We suspect that Kimio has gone into hiding for some reason; as for why, we only have rumors of threats to his life. Whatever the truth, he has effectively disappeared with all engagements postponed indefinitely.

Man: Yet the Marduke organisation continues to list him as active, continues to list him present in the minutes of their meetings - which, I might add, are most likely falsified as well.

Seyoko: If your.. operative got close enough to know that, why couldn't he simply find the man for you as well?

Man: We work for the same people, Okazaki - or at least we used to. I've filed my reports - go and read those if you want my life story. Unless you are working for some other reason.. ?

(The agent leaves the question open; "Do you still work for us?" Okazaki feigns a grimace.)

Seyoko: My reasons? My conscience. (pointed) I'm sure you understand.

(The man laughs softly to himself, and, with a faint smile on his face, looks Seyoko in the eyes.)

Man: I'm sure we can stop playing these games now. What do you want to know?

Seyoko: Why was Aoi Tamashii selected as an Eva pilot?

Man: (startled) ..She was only recently selected as the Seventh Child.. news of her 'employment' in NERV has only recently reached us in the intelligence business.

Seyoko: But why was she chosen? Your operative investigated Marduke; Pilot selection is Marduke's domain, which is why I'm here, and why I was looking for Kimio - not comparative religions and old stories. What is it about Aoi that led to her selection?

(He shifts his gaze, looking back towards the train station. His eyes slowly run back along the train line, to where it disappears into the trees.)

Man: You're presently employed in NERV. I take it your superiors were less than giving when you asked about the girl?

Seyoko: (savagely) If they had given me a straight answer, I wouldn't be out here talking to you.

Man: ...

Seyoko: Why did they pick Tamashii? If your friend got so close, he must have found out something - pilot criteria, some basis for selection, something. Tamashii even has a recommendation from Fuyutsuki, the president of the Marduke board - why her?

Man: Why any child? Marduke is merely a means to an ends - a way for NERV to acquire tools, in this case pilots. Their selection system might very well be just a list of names - in a large black hat.

Seyoko: I'm not so sure. I was able to pull up some files on previous pilots: one Kaworu Nagisa - and what about the Sixth Child, Lyn Anouilh? The son of the head of UNSynaps? You can't tell me that there weren't some political considerations involved in either of those candidates. According to the official reports, Nagisa eventually turned on NERV and hijacked an Evangelion!

Man: (frowning) I fail to see how this concerns me.. or why it should bring you out here to speak to Kimio.

Seyoko: If Aoi Tamashii was selected for some other reason, I want to find out why - I think something bigger may be involved. The only way to be sure is to find out why she was selected.

Man: I don't see how - the agent I knew - and I suspect you knew, Ms Okazaki, was investigating the Marduke directors, not their policies or the pilots they choose.

Seyoko: (patiently) All I'm asking for is a little help.

Man: (smirking) And you seriously expect me to believe you came all this way to investigate a girl?

Seyoko: ..

Man: ..

Seyoko: (sarcastically) Whatever happened to your trust in me?

(In response, the man throws back his head, laughing loudly in the quiet of the dawn light, causing the birds in the nearby forest to leap from their perches, crying out in startled song.)

Man: Very well. If I find anything about this girl, I'll get in touch with you - if you, in return, contact me if you receive information on Kimio.

Seyoko: (nodding) Agreed.

Man: (delighted) Excellent! I take it our 'meeting' is at an end, Ms Okazaki. If you will excuse me..?

(Without waiting for a response, the figure breaks from his immobility, turning and striding off into the long grass. As the man quickly becomes lost in the nearby trees, all Seyoko can do is shout a final question after the operative as he departs..)

Seyoko: (shouting) How will I contact you if I find something?

Man: (distantly) Don't worry - my friends will be watching.

Seyoko: ..

Man: (disappearing from sight) ..

Seyoko: (quietly - to herself) I bet they will.


(Far away from the grassy ruins of the lost township, the touch of sunlight finally reaches the concrete peaks of Tokyo-3. The immense skyscrapers of the city cast long shadows, black cloaks that streak down into the valley on the western side of town. As the sun rises higher, the city begins to rouse - people resuming their lives. It is, after all, the start of a new day.

In an apartment block on the outskirts of town, a hand lifts the receiver of a silent telephone.)

Lyn: ..

(Lyn Anouilh holds the receiver up to his ear. From the packed school bag at his side, it seems that the absence of his roommate - Seyoko Okazaki - has not changed his regular Monday schedule.

It is something else that makes him uncertain.)

Lyn: Since Friday night..

Lyn: Will she be there?

(His free hand finds the keypad, touching, but not pressing, the buttons - fingers drifting across the keys in a familiar, prescribed sequence.

A time ago - not so long ago by his memory - he had pressed that sequence so he could talk to her. And she would be there, without fail. It had been easy - a simple phone call, a suggestion, a word here or there..)

Lyn: (thinking) When I could get a word in..

(That was how they had planned Seyoko's birthday party - with a simple phone call. Of course, there had been a bit of pleading and bribery involved, but it was the good kind of bribery.)

Lyn: (thinking to himself) Asking wasn't as bad as singing..

(And since Friday night, since he learned of Aoi's selection as the seventh child, he hadn't seen her. He hadn't spoken to her since that fateful evening - the evening of his.. misunderstanding. One thing remained clear: that he, in his anger, had driven her from him.

And now the absence was no longer a relief. Two days ago, it was; he had wanted nothing more than to be alone. He had pushed her away out of anger - out of guilt - for the last thing he wanted, after everything, was to see her hurt.

No matter how he tried, no matter what he thought to justify, what obscene set of circumstances he dreamed up that would qualify her as the best choice for the new Eva pilot, the boy has been unable to shake the feeling that had hung with him like a cloud.. the shame he had seen in her eyes, the look that had told him, louder than words:

"I'm doing this for your sake.")

Lyn: I'm supposed to feel good about that.

Lyn: But somehow, I don't.

(He regards the telephone keypad, his fingers still ready to push the sequence that, previously, would bring Aoi back into his life.)

Lyn: What if she is there?

Lyn: What do I say?

(It had never really been in his hands before - Aoi was always outgoing, always to one to first open her mouth.

And that was how it had been, more or less from the word go. It had been Aoi who had come forward - who had contacted him in class shortly after his arrival in Tokyo-3. She had introduced herself to him not long after, and had been by his side ever since..)

-(flashback)-Aoi: What do I want? What do you think? To be your friend. You did say you wanted friends..

(Aoi had made 'the first move'. She always did. Lyn never had to worry about her being there - never really had to ask himself "Do I want this?")

Lyn: (to himself) Do I?

Lyn: Is that why I can't call her?

(It had always seemed that she was there for him - whether he wanted or not. Perhaps, the Sixth Child thought bitterly, he had gotten used to her presence - or perhaps he had taken her for granted.

The difference: one is the tolerance of an unwanted presence, the other, the unquestioning expectation of it.

One would mean that he tolerated her. The other that he didn't value her.

He never wondered if he wanted her close.)

-(flashback)-Aoi: (grinning) I've got everything I want right here..

(Now, as his fingers press the keys, the English boy is forced - at last - to confront his feelings. The girl that was normally so outgoing, the girl that had sung happy birthday with him but a week ago, was now distant, a faded memory.

As the dialing completes and the line connects, Lyn comes to his resolution; making up his mind as the phone on the other end begins to ring.

One ring.

Two rings.

Then a tone sounds out from the ear piece.)

Aoi: (phone - recording) Hi, you've managed to call me, Aoi Tamashii. I can't get to the phone now, but if you can leave a message or something, I should be able to call you back. And just in case I don't have it, could you leave your number too? Thanks.

(The receiver is set quickly back on the telephone - Lyn shuts his eyes.)

Lyn: (quietly) Of course she's not there - she'll be heading for school.

Lyn: She has to be.

(The Sixth Child shoulders his bag, hurrying down the hallway, noting the time on the clock as he passes the kitchen. Unless he hurries, he might pick up a detention from the sensei - which would crush any hope he might have meeting the girl in question at lunchtime.

Breaking into a trot, he slips through the door, stabbing the auto-seal button as he exits, quickening into a run towards the elevator, street level and eventual school beyond.)

Lyn: (running) ...

(Far behind the child, in a now-empty apartment, no one hears the strident ring of the phone in the Anouilh residence.)


(Lyn arrives on time.

Life goes on for the common citizens of Tokyo-3. Unaware of Lyn's worries, uncaring of Seyoko Okazaki's investigations, they continue their day to day routines.

Classes have not stopped in respect for what has happened to the absent Shinji and Asuka. Kensuke, Touji, Hikari, Goro.. ordinary children, not involved with NERV and its mission, continue their education.

The Second and Third Child have missed classes before, so few, if any, eyebrows are raised. The only class member that truly notices the absence is the blue-haired First Child, sitting as always near the windows. Of course, no one notices her noticing..

Another class member keenly feels the pain of absence; though his reasons are different to those of the First Child. Where Rei is concerned for known reasons, worried for her 'brother' and Asuka - afraid that her suspicions may be justified - Lyn Anouilh can find no reason for his pain.. only a simple fact:

Aoi remains absent from school.

And now, as the sun passes below the horizon and the night begins, the Sixth Child's anguish solidifies and he takes action.)

Lyn: ..

(He makes a sigh - partly from relief and partly from nervous fear - as he places the receiver back in its handset for the second time today.)

Lyn: (thinking) She wasn't there..

Lyn: (thinking) Just an answering machine again..

Lyn: Damn..

(The English boy shuffles nervously from foot to foot, gazing down at the phone, part of him wishing that he might just pick up the phone and somehow draw back the message he had left for her.

At last the child withdraws into his room for the night, tugging the curtain to his bedroom window closed, blocking out the shine from the moon that hangs over the city.

If he had stared down for just a moment - perhaps taking the time to regard the moonlight on the street - then maybe, just maybe, he would have seen the figure that stands in the shadows of the sidewalk.

Aoi Tamashii sighs as she spies the flicker in the high window that signals the shutting of the curtains.. she has arrived too late.)

Aoi: ..

(Above the lonely girl, the moon hangs, three quarters full - strangely symbolic of the new arrival..)

Aoi: (sighing) I should have called and asked.. before coming over..

Aoi: .. before everything..

(The child sighs, barely audible in the night air, and bows her head for a long moment as the true import of the message is felt. At last, she sees what she had done - in her desire to be near him, he had become cramped, caged by her presence.

A caged creature, so the adage goes, has nothing - except its pride. In accepting the position of Seventh Child, Aoi realises finally that she has not injured his heart or his mind, but instead wounded his pride.

Heckled as a coward when he was a child, Lyn is chained by his past, like all the children, even in their new home of Tokyo-3. For the sixth child, his burden follows him: the pilot of a yellow Evangelion, infected with a traitorous seed, and now, the greatest agony: a pilot with no Eva. His Eva had turned upon its own.

By signing up with NERV, Aoi realises she had, for all intents and purposes, sealed his fate as the permanent 'fifth wheel'.)

Aoi: (quietly) Forgive me..

(The girl turns slowly and begins the long trek home.. the streetlights shining clearly through her wraithlike figure as she wanders down the sidewalk in the general direction of her apartment.)


(Unfortunately for either Lyn or Aoi, the moon does not intercede in this matter - staring down on both them and the city of Toyko-3 as it passes overhead.

The night passes, just as it had for many more before, and just as it would for so many into the future.. whether humanity would be present to witness it, is, of course, another matter.

For in the shadows, many players make their moves - and, thankfully, some of them even work for NERV.)


(One such example is Misato Katsuragi; the following day finds her paying for a meal in cash.

A nearby waiter accepts the offered money with a nod and withdraws.)

Waiter: Enjoy your meals, Sir, Ma'am..

(The Major tips the waiter lightly and forgettably, nodding in return - her mind elsewhere. The brief anger, her former tension and frustration, is gone now, spent in a single futile attack on non-offending beer cans. Now, the woman can devote all her energy to her task.

Finding them.

The Katsuragi apartment has become a lonely place. Shinji's room remains as he had left it, the mattress neatly covered with sheets, his school books in a neat pile to one side of his desk. Asuka's room, though not as neat, is similar - untouched, unchanged, empty.

It seems so long ago, when, just before the first assault on Tokyo-3, she had moved in. Her only company in those days was Pen Pen - in other words, she more or less had the entire place to herself. But then, so did the penguin.

That had been a bare week before Shinji Ikari's arrival in Tokyo-3. Apart from that hectic time of settling in and discovering the nearest liquor stores, Misato had always had her roommates.

Except when their 'job' - Eva - took them away from home.

Shinji's depressions, his battered nature - in both body and spirit - the way that he would bend under any pressure. Asuka's bout in hospital, lying lifeless under starched linen, a time which had etched into her features - a few creases around her eyes that had never completely gone away.

These times Misato had dealt with - sometimes badly, not always being there for the children, often making mistakes. But the children had come out of these times, harder from the fire, yet in some ways, more gentle.

These times had passed - and despite something good sometimes coming from them, Misato never wanted to return.

Now they are gone again. Misato Katsuragi does not - can not - know what is happening to them. But she is finished with her worrying, finished with her anxieties. Now she begins her search.)

Hyuga: Here's what I could get, Major. It's not exactly what you asked for, but..

(The NERV Director of Operations takes the offered folder wordlessly, pushing her plate aside slightly to make room for the documents. Hyuga takes a few bites of his meal as his superior begins to flip through the folder.)

Misato: This couldn't have been easy to get.

Hyuga: ..

(Their seats in the restaurant as far away from the windows as Misato could find - ironically, they have chosen a spot deep in the shadows, tucked away in the back, next to the kitchens where the clatter of chefs covers any chance of being overheard. Although there are other people present, enjoying their meals and discussing their lives, their voices are mostly muted, their faces out of sight.

Swallowing a morsel of food, Hyuga pauses. He sees that Misato has not touched her meal; the plate rests before her, thin curls of steam rising from the hot food. The woman's expression is a study of concentration as she stares at the papers - refraining from her meal, focussing on her task.

Hyuga places his chopsticks down and pushes his plate away, determined to follow Misato's example and ignore his complaining stomach, concentrating on the work laid out before them,.

It is not the sort of work NERV is paying either of them for.)

Misato: Hyuga, what are these?

Hyuga: Directory samples. From Balthazar's memory banks.

Misato: (shaking her head) I can't make any sense of this.

Hyuga: Of course - these files are encrypted. I couldn't get the access to decrypt them; actually, I shouldn't have been able to access the directory at all - these files aren't for general viewing.

Misato: ..

Hyuga: But there are ways. I was able to discreetly copy a chunk of data from the front of each file.

Misato: So this is it?

Hyuga: Not everything. (reaches out and begins shuffling through the papers) I knew that Maya must have made the entries - and the operator who recorded the entries leaves their name and rank at the top of the report.

Misato: That's pretty much standard procedure.

Hyuga: Right, so I made a program that assumed that portions of the file were certain keywords in code - "Ibuki", "Maya", "Chairperson".. with that assumption, it then tried to decode the data backwards, and work out the coding method.

Misato: Reverse decryption? What did you come up with?

Hyuga: It didn't work - at least, not well. (speaks faster) These are the Magi's codes, and I had almost nothing to go on - I think that they've somehow integrated each individual character in the report into another character in the document, so the decryption method changes according to whatever character combination exists - instead of dealing with decryption for fifty characters, it has over twenty-five hundred combinations.

Misato: ..

(Hyuga shuts his mouth quickly, as if to stop his rambling before he embarrasses himself any more. Misato, however, watches with a faint twitch of a smile, tolerant of the technical operator's enthusiasm.)

Misato: What did you find?

Hyuga: (hesitating) Um.. I was able to get some things out of it.

Misato: What exactly?

Hyuga: After eight hours, the program managed to work out that (pointing) these documents are consecutive reports filed by Maya. (pointing) These ones aren't - they're Fuyutsuki's.

Misato: So you know who wrote the entries - what about the body of the file?

Hyuga: I can't touch it. The decryption the Magi have is too complex. Whatever the files are actually about, I can't crack it.

Misato: (looking at sheets) I might be able to get my hands on something that might solve that problem..

Hyuga: Really? How?

Misato: (shuffling) I can't say. (looks up) Would it be possible for you to show me how to get back into Balthazar?

Hyuga: Yeah, that's the easy part - but there aren't many user-interfaces for the Magi, even in NERV central. They may be linked into everything, but access has been severely restricted to prevent hacking.

Misato: Where would I have to be?

Hyuga: The control room in Central Dogma.. or the Pribnow box, the test chamber, the second analysis room, and a few other places. They all have user interfaces.

Misato: I need a special access port..

Hyuga: (frowning) That would severely restrict which terminals you could use. Most of the others operate through computer mainframes in other cities through a hard wire link - it's not a good idea to use them, too many inter-system security measures, and none of them have anything beyond a keyboard interface. If I were you, Major, I would try from inside NERV central.

(Misato nods, still looking over the sheets in the folder, her eyes trying to unravel the code that hides the secrets from her. Hyuga clears his throat.)

Hyuga: Major? Are you sure about doing this?

Misato: (reading) ..

Hyuga: I've helped you out before, and it's gotten pretty dangerous - the last time, Commander Ikari would have been easily justified in firing us. We're lucky to still be here.

Misato: (still reading) I know that, Hyuga.

Hyuga: (looks down) It's probably the last thing you want to hear, but the Commander's do have reasons for doing this - maybe this is classified for a reason.

Misato: ..

Hyuga: Maya would have to be in on it too, Major. I just can't see her doing something like that.

(Misato closes the folder - the encrypted entries beyond her understanding, for now. Her eyes remain fixed on the blank face of the folder.)

Misato: Maybe you're right. But this.. this is all that's left of them.

Hyuga: ..

Misato: It's not much. Not much the describe two lives.

Hyuga: The most I could get on the two children was their status: Hospitalized.

Misato: (cynical snort) "Hospitalized" ?

Hyuga: (shrugging) ..

Misato: Maybe it should be changed to "Location classified for security reasons".

Hyuga: ..

Misato: I can't find them. Evan as NERV's head of operations, I can't get the authority to find them.

Hyuga: ..

Misato: Speaking as an officer, Hyuga, does that seem strange to you?

Hyuga: (slowly) ..Yes, it does.

Misato: Strange. As the Director of Operations, I agree with security measures.. our public relations staff was built around the control of information distribution to the public - to prevent panic when the Angel attacks came.

(The Major frowns, finally picking up her chopsticks and beginning her meal - chewing for some time until she continues..)

Misato: But as a person..

Misato: As someone who's lived with them..

Hyuga: (interrupting, concerned) Major, you don't have to go on..

Misato: (steadily) They're hiding something. It's all happened too quickly.

(The dark-haired woman slams her eating instruments down onto the table, causing the china to rattle, drawing the attention of a waiter, which Hyuga is quick to raise a hand in the negative. Misato leans forward over the table, uncaring that the cross strung around her neck almost touches her food. Misato's next words are in a fierce whisper as she confides her suspicions to the distracted console operator..)

Misato: (whispering) Something was happening to them before this - Shinji and Asuka. Something was changing them. (fiercely) I lived with them - I saw it going on.

Hyuga: ..

Misato: I thought that it was nothing at first - like a joke. Later, I put it down to a combat accident - from the contact. But..

Hyuga: You think it wasn't an accident? Someone made it happen?

Misato: They made it happen. The Commanders. I don't know how, but they planned this from the start..

Hyuga: (worried) If that's true, Major, then this is really serious..

(But Misato Katsuragi continues, seeming to be almost deaf to Hyuga's comment.)

Misato: They're almost finished - they don't want to be disturbed, so they've hidden the children.

Hyuga: ..

Misato: I have to find out. I have to get to them, somehow.

Hyuga: ..


(Seyoko Okazaki scoops up the take-away box with one hand and pockets her wallet with her free hand.

To an ordinary observer, she seems calm and relaxed - at a leisurely pace she strolls out of the restaurant, heading down the street under the noon sun.

An observer who knew what to look for might spot a few other important things. The way that the Lieutenant's red hair is combed to one side, for example - concealing her right ear and the ear plug she is constantly listening to.

A wire, also hidden by her hair, runs down into the neck of her shirt; the radio that Okazaki is monitoring is clipped to her belt, hidden by the her jacket. The device is the standard issue of the many NERV security teams that count Tokyo-3 as their battleground. The device is another detail a casual observer would have missed.

There are six teams, all linked together by their radios, and collectively to the Magi systems in NERV Central. The teams are assigned to follow and protect the children - Rei Ayanami, Asuka Langley Sohryu, Shinji Ikari, Lyn Anouilh, Aoi Tamashii and Tenkei, designated Ev.N.

Each receiver/transmitter set is protected by a radio scrambler - another scrambler, set with the same system, is required to 'listen in'.

Seyoko Okazaki is, most certainly, equipped for the job. The radio clipped under her jacket is tuned to the frequency of the team following Aoi Tamashii, the seventh child.)

Control: (over radio) All stations: report in.

Agent #1: (over radio) Position one, no movement.

Agent #2: (over radio) Position two, no movement.

Agent #3: (over radio) Position three.. doesn't this girl ever move?

(With the security teams keeping careful watch over Aoi, Seyoko knows that she has almost no chance of keeping surveillance herself - not without drawing attention.

Attention is something that Seyoko does not want. If one of her superiors were to discover that she was set like a gargoyle in front of Aoi Tamashii's building, on a day when she had called in sick..)

Voice: (over radio) Alright everyone, looks like she's staying put. Stay alert.

Agent #2: (sarcastically) .. How?

(In times past, massive destruction has been rained upon the city by angelic assaults. Often newcomers to the city, as well as those whose homes had been destroyed, have found themselves 'allocated' places to live - to assist in evacuation procedures.

It appears that Aoi Tamashii is one of these people. The place she calls home is on the second floor of an apartment complex, under the watchful eyes of NERV security agents.

Seyoko does not envy the security teams their jobs, but is thankful for their presence. Equipped with her radio, she waits, relatively comfortably, in her car. A city block away from her target, Seyoko waits for her opportunity.

An opportunity that, so far, has refused to present itself. In the two days of Seyoko's stakeout, Aoi Tamashii has not stepped out her apartment door, or even opened a window. She has not shown herself at all.)


(As Seyoko involves herself in both her meal and the bored chatter of NERV security agents, and Misato and Hyuga slip away from the restaurant in carefully timed intervals, we pull away once more from the city of Tokyo-3..


Found at the backs of restaurants, on the dark side of a building, blocks away from a target - places where one may observe another, silently watching, quietly waiting for their opportunity - their time to strike.

But not all these shadows are cast to do harm. Watchers are placed where none are needed, spies follow those need no following. The net is thrown over all, and dragged across to pull up anything that might be interesting.

On occasion, these methods are rewarding - and the one gem found in such 'shadowing' measures become worth all the wasted hours of 'dragging the net'. When that one crucial spy discovers a deep secret - or perhaps locates an incoming threat, the use of these covert measures can be fully appreciated..

And the most common disguise for the men and women who make up the 'net' is plain sight. A camera with a telescopic lens, used in the dark shadows of a window, attract far more damning attention than the tourist with his family snapping a cheap camera at anything interesting.

One such agent has reported in; the information found by his work has been sent to his superiors. This same agent has added to his reports some suspicions; information gained through not-so-obvious contacts.

Yet this agent, if you looked for him, would not be seen - for if you stare into the shadows, what would you see..?)



A faint sound, on the edge of hearing. If one listens closely, the sound grows, taking shape and form until it can be recognized; filling the mind with the low hum of electronic equipment.

A sound, like the rush of air, and cold light projects an image - the hologram appears. An obelisk, black and rectangular, with glowing inscriptions that read SEELE 03 - SOUND ONLY.

Another follows; SEELE 01, as Keel Lorenz, the founder of the group and thus its prime voice, sends his image to this dark place. And another appears, and another, until all twelve members are present.

Once again, SEELE has gathered to discuss the future of the human race.)

SEELE 11: We risk a breach.

SEELE 07: A individual - formerly in the employ of UNSynaps, and presently a NERV officer - has been making specific inquiries about the Seventh Child.

SEELE 11: Worse still, she may have the ear of Jean Phillip Anouilh.

SEELE 02: Is this Ikari's doing?

SEELE 04: Or is she acting upon the orders of her old masters?

SEELE 07: It appears that she is operating independently.

SEELE 01: Then we are fortunate.. she may be the only one.

SEELE 12: This situation must be contained.

SEELE 09: Most certainly - if this agent discovers our work, then it could filter back to Jean-Phillip Anouilh.

SEELE 10: He would not appreciate the efforts we have hidden from him - we would risk losing our control of him.

SEELE 08: We would lose control of the perfected Eva series.

SEELE 01: That must not be allowed to pass.

SEELE 10: Preparations for such a contingency have been made - if the worst scenario comes to pass, our newfound allies will break our fall.

SEELE 11: And the delay in the schedule?

SEELE 01: Acceptable, given the alternatives. But we may not have to take such drastic action.

SEELE 06: One would hope not - what could a single operative have discovered?

SEELE 07: She could discover much..

SEELE 07: (pauses) ..given an informant.

(The voices echoing from monolith to monolith cease for a moment as the words sink in. Although the obelisks have no faces, no expressions to read, all present feel the attention falling upon one image - the one who, thus far, has contributed nothing to this conversation - and never will.)

SEELE 03: ..

SEELE 01: (after a pause) Your warning is.. well taken.

SEELE 01: Is there any way to know what has this operative discovered?

SEELE 07: No - our former colleague may have taken any number of actions.

SEELE 02: What you describe is the worst of all possible scenarios.

SEELE 11: Yet it is one that cannot be ignored.

SEELE 01: Then we must take steps - immediately.


(SEELE's plans do not change the lives of the citizens of Tokyo-3; at least, not today.

The cogs in the plans that SEELE has hatched turn silently, away from the eyes and minds of the people. Unaware of these forces, the continue the business of daily life, even if the intent of SEELE's plans is to change that life forever..

Misato Katsuragi lifts the laptop in both hands, looking over it's gray surfaces with calm eyes. Hyuga had been correct- breaking the Magi's codes is something far beyond the capacity of any simple computer system; Misato has no hope of breaking through the encryption to the precious data within - at least, not without special help.

Misato has exactly that. Something that Hyuga was unaware of; something that Misato should not, in the eyes of her employer, NERV, have in her possession.)

-(flashback)-Kaji: The way to the truth - if you want it - was sent by thirty-six other methods.

(A single chip, made for a single purpose - Kaji's employers, whomever they were, had intended to access the Magi's mainframe. To see what NERV had hidden in its shadow.)

-(flashback)-Kaji: This is all I have. Now it's completely up to you as to how to use it.

(Misato had not left it lying in the open. Heading for her desk, she pulls aside the chair and lies down, giving her a view of the underboard of the table.)

Misato: (grunts) Damn.. where..?

(Careful fingers run across the underside of the desk, feeling for the spot..)

Misato: Here.

(With a gentle push, the board pops free. Dropping it to one side, Misato blinks away the dust that was shaken free and reaches up again.

The masking tape that holds the small plastic container to the wood is peeled away, and the box, small enough to be hidden in the palm of Misato's hand, is gently removed.

After setting it down on the table, she carefully opens the container. With a pair of tweezers, she sorts through the cotton buds she had cushioned the interior with, finally finding the chip.)

-(flashback)-Kaji: The passcode is our first memory.

(Very carefully, she lifts the miniscule chip free of the container.)

Misato: Time to see what this thing can do.


Seyoko: (thinking) I must have walked past every store on this street.

(Again it is morning, and Seyoko continues her vigil. It is the third day of her watch, and the Lieutenant is hoping - aching - for a breakthrough.)

Seyoko: (thinking) Maybe she could go to school this morning..

(It is while she is buying the morning's newspaper - another way to kill time - that she hears the message over the radio.)

Control: (radio) Okay everyone, I've got reports of movement.

(Seyoko forces herself to remain expressionless - to the people on the street, she appears normal in all respects. A normal young woman who walks calmly to her car, opens the door, drops the newspaper in and slams the door shut.)

Seyoko: (thinking) Finally..

(The Lieutenant leans against the boot of her car as she waits for the next transmission.)

Control: (radio) She's getting her stuff - looks like it's school this morning.

Agent: (radio) Thank God.. ETA?

Control: (radio) Maybe five.. get to your positions, people.

(Seyoko discreetly heads northwards, away from the school, taking care so that she is not spotted by any of the agents - or worse, by Aoi. Hopefully, by the time she has moved to the girl's apartment, the seventh child will be far away, her retinue following discretely.)

Seyoko: (quietly) Here goes nothing.


(On the outskirts of the city, in the apartment block that Seyoko herself calls home, there is silence.

Her roommate, Lyn, left for school some fifteen minutes before; and since Seyoko herself is out, no one is present when the silence is broken.

The phone rings; once, twice. The answering machine engages the call, automatically playing its recording.)

Seyoko: (recording) You've reached the home of Seyoko Okazaki and Lyn Anouilh. Since it looks like both of us are out right now, you can leave a message on the machine.. thanks.

(A tone sounds, and the caller begins to record his message.)

Voice: (phone) Yeah, Miss Okazaki? It's the front desk here. We've received mail for you - a parcel. There's no record of the sender, but it's got a return address of.. Tokyo-2 University. Well, could you come down to the desk to pick it up? We'll keep hold of it until you do.

(Barely a moment passes before the shrill ringing of the phone sounds in the apartment once more - but this time the caller is someone quite well known to both residents.)

Seyoko: (recording) You've reached the home of Seyoko Okazaki and Lyn Anouilh. Since it looks like both of us are out right now, you can leave a message on the machine.. thanks.

(Silence falls.

Then, if one listens very closely, you can hear the sound of breathing..

There is click, and a beep sounds from the answering machine - the call is over.)


Aoi: ..

(The young girl stares quietly at the phone in her hand, her school bag packed and resting neatly at her feet. The answering machine, while not solving any problems for her, does reassure in a way - she knows that Lyn has left for school. Without leaving a message she places the receiver back in its handset.)

Aoi: (smiling slightly)..

(After barely a pause, the girl picks up the phone again and dials another number - a different number. A familiar voice answers, and Aoi's smile broadens..)

Aoi: (smiling) Hikari.. its me..

Aoi: (listening) ..

Aoi: Well.. could we talk about it on the way?


(A few, cautious minutes later..)

Seyoko: ..

(Seyoko finally slinks into the small apartment complex - Aoi is gone, as is her shadow - and finally, the way is clear!

Her immediate concern changes; having reached the apartment unnoticed, she must now break in unnoticed.

Aoi's apartment, like many others in Tokyo-3, is secured by an electronic card and keypad system. For Seyoko, however, this doesn't prove to be that much of a problem. With more complex security systems come more complex means of breaking into them, and the Seyoko, trained by the Japanese intelligence service, has a way.)

Seyoko: (frowning) ..I know this type.

(For this task, Seyoko produces from one of her jacket pockets a small, hooked tool. The designers of the apartment installed - as you would find on all new apartments - a physical deadbolt system in three places on the inside of the door. Simply smashing or bypassing the electronic pad does not throw the deadbolts - which is why Seyoko must use the hook.

Wedging the tool into the frame of the door, she slides the wire frame device up and down the framework. The tool catches on something - one of the three locks that hold the door closed. Seyoko carefully unhooks the catch and continues, locating the other two and doing the same.

The door is unlocked. Now, it is just a matter of gripping the bottom edge of the door with the tool and the pulling upwards.)

Seyoko: (glancing around the corridor) ..

(The door shifts upwards in sudden movements, propelled by Seyoko's strength rather than by the electronic motor which would normally perform the task. Once the gap is high enough - only a foot and half or so - Seyoko ducks down and uncomfortably crawls through under. To open the door any further might break the door's security circuit and bring unwanted attention.

On the other side of the door the lock is far simpler - a button to open and close the door. The door slides shut with a keypress and Seyoko is left inside the apartment.)

Seyoko: Okay..

(She had watched the apartment for the last two days. In that time, Aoi Tamashii had apparently remained indoors. Only today, on Wednesday morning, when the girl had finally emerged to go to school, has Seyoko been given her opportunity for a good look around.

The apartment is nicely furnished, as if a family lives there. Couch and television in the living room, well-stocked kitchen, a bathroom supplied with toiletries and detergents.. and only one toothbrush.

One bedroom only. One bed. A wardrobe. When Seyoko opens it, she finds that it is filled with clothes - Aoi's size. Glancing down, she sees at the bottom of the wardrobe, are six pairs of shoes, all the same size, neatly lined up.)

Seyoko: ..

(It is easily clear to Seyoko - only one person lives here.

Okazaki feels a faint surge of nervous guilt as she opens Aoi's purse, left next to her bed. Looking through, she frowns.)

Seyoko: (to herself) Spare student card, gift vouchers, cash, tissues, sunglasses.. (trailing off)

(Closing the purse, the Lieutenant stands up again, looking towards the living room.

The television, a small but sleek-looking device resting in the corner of the room, is attached to a video system. Looking across to the shelves beside the television, Seyoko spies a small collection of tapes.

Most of them look like recordings Aoi made herself - roughly marked with titles. Some are television shows, others are movies..


Seyoko: (picks up tape) ..

(This tape has it's own case - it was bought, not recorded.)

-(flashback)- Aoi Tamashii, stumbling over her words slightly as she first meets the Lieutenant.. a young woman that Lyn hadn't told her about.. despite the fact that Seyoko and Lyn live in the same apartment..

-(flashback)-Aoi: Really? His.. guardian?

-(flashback)- Seyoko searched through the small cluster of tapes she and Lyn had gathered, looking for something to watch.

-(flashback)-Seyoko: Casablanca? Huh.. nice movie. Sad ending..

Seyoko: Did Lyn lend her this?

Seyoko: Or is this her copy?

(Carefully replacing the tape, Seyoko turns to look over the room again.)

Seyoko: What else..

(Resting on the cushions of the lounge, beside where the apartment's telephone sits, is a small notepad and worn-looking pen. Seyoko picks up the pad; it seems that Aoi used it to record phone numbers.

Tearing a page out of the back of the pad, Seyoko takes a moment to copy down all the numbers. Many of them she recognizes - Maya Ibuki's number, Misato Katsuragi's number, and the NERV emergency line.

Also on the page is her own number - more accurately, Lyn's number.

A third, unfamiliar number is at the bottom of the page with a name next to it: Horaki.)

Seyoko: (scribbling) ..

(The lieutenant does not recognise the number - so, being a good detective, copies it down onto her own notebook.)

Seyoko: She's just a kid..

Seyoko: Why her?

Seyoko: (looking around) What made her special?

(The woman glances around, her eyes eventually falling onto the small answering machine by the phone.)

Seyoko: (guilty) I suppose I have to make sure..

(With a hurried keypress, Seyoko orders the answering machine to replay it's recordings before the woman can change her own mind.)

Voice: (machine) You have no messages.

Seyoko: ..

(She looks for another way; quickly finding the 'old message' archive, Seyoko begins to play the recordings that had already been heard, but not yet deleted from the machine's memory bank.

The first is from Hikari Horaki.)

Hikari: (machine) Aoi, it's Hikari. You've quite a few days off school now.. if you can get around to calling me, I can mark you off so that there's no hassles about it later. Well, goodbye.

Seyoko: (thinking) Of course, she's been avoiding school..

Seyoko: (thinking) I think I know why.

(The next message is from what Seyoko knows is the source of the girl's worries.)

Lyn: (machine) Aoi, it's me. Look.. listen, I'm.. I'm just sorry. I know I've been.. I've been avoiding you, and I'm sorry - for everything. Look, can you call me? Please call me.

(The message ends - Seyoko steps away from the phone and closes her eyes, covering her face with a hand.)

Seyoko: Just a kid.

Seyoko: Maybe he was right. Maybe she's nothing at all.

Seyoko: Maybe I'm just being paranoid and wasting my time.

(But a thought rises unbidden from her mind, as if to answer the doubts she is voicing.)

Seyoko: (thinking) Then why are they hiding Marduke? Why are they playing this game?

Seyoko: (thinking) It isn't finished - they still have a card to play.. they're protecting some little secret.

Seyoko: (thinking) Whatever it is..

Seyoko: (thoughtfully) Is it.. Aoi..?

(The woman frowns, turning the conversation with her 'informant' over in her memory - his hesitation around certain topics.. the way he anticipated some questions.. and his incredulity that she was not so interested in the missing Marduke Director as she was in Aoi Tamashii..)

Seyoko: (thoughtfully) Or maybe.. Kimio..