Neon Genesis Evangelion
EVA-R Prime Extension
Written by Alex Voutsis
Thanks to Raymond Cooper
Credit where credit is due to Gainax, etc etc. Evangelion is someone else's property, etc.
Additional Credits to the creators of EVA-R Illustrated Fan Fiction. Find it at http://www.eva-r.com - it is an absolutely brilliant fan fic and essential reading to understand this story. You should have read EVA-R up to episode 53 PRIME before reading this fan fiction.
Additionally, please read Light of the Soul / Contact and Light of the Heart / At Last, A Reason. This fan-fiction is intended to continue the story begun in the above episodes.
(The Angels had come. The Angels had sought to reclaim that which had once been theirs. In that reclaimation, they would have destroyed humankind.
And so the humans had defended themselves. From Adam they created Eva - the Evangelions. A Geo-Front, a ancient underground cavity, rediscovered from ages past, was armoured and outfitted to serve as a base of operations - the last hope for the human race.
Above the Geo-Front, the humans built a city that would serve both as a home and as a shield. The city is called Tokyo-3.
A living shield of human flesh. In times of great peril, that flesh would be replaced by steel and concrete barriers as the city sank into the earth. Now, however, the shield is more useful as it is; alive, breathing, living..
A shield against the new perils.. the perils born from a betrayal.
The Evangelions, living shields, piloted by mere children. These children might be called innocent - victims in this battle for survival. That innocence is now in question.
Deep in the armoured fortress of NERV central, below the underground haven of the Geo-Front, is a room devoted almost entirely to a certain form of inquisition. The room lies in darkness - except for a solitary pool of light. In the middle of this incandescent circle stands the focus of the interview: Major Misato Katsuragi. She is dressed in her formal uniform and stands stiffly to attention.
It is to be one of many such interviews.)
Fuyutsuki: You were not at your post when the situation required your presence, Major Katsuragi.
Misato: No sir. I had gone up to the city to retrieve the First Child.
(The voices of the Commanders of NERV emmanate from the darkness around the Major.)
Gendo: The repairs on Unit Zero were not completed - the Eva was inoperative. There was no purpose in retrieving it's pilot.
Misato: ..I was informed by the Project-E chairperson, Leiutenant Maya Ibuki, that Ayanami's presence could assist in combating the Angel.
Gendo: How so?
Misato: She has, in the past, achieved a greater level of contact with an Eva through the use of the Ev.N complement. The Leiutenant believed that such a capability could be used to counter the abilities of the Angel.
Fuyutsuki: So you set yourself upon the task of finding Ayanami. Why not delegate it to someone else?
Misato: (thinking) Because she was at Maya's apartment with Tenkei.. but I can't tell you that..
Fuyutsuki: Answer the question, Major.
Misato: (thinking) She trusted me..
Misato: I did not believe that such delegation was necessary. I thought that I could retrieve the pilot and make it back to Central Dogma before the situation became a tactical one.
(There is a pause as the two Commanders of NERV absorb this statement.)
Gendo: You were incorrect, Major.
(Asuka Langley Soryu stands casually in the beam of light, elbows resting on the back of a small wooden chair - which she refuses to sit upon. She frowns as a thought strikes her, glaring into the darkness around as if trying to see her questioners..)
Asuka: Where's Misato? I thought this was going to be a debriefing.
Gendo: Why did you lose contact with Unit One?
Asuka: I didn't lose contact with him, he did with me.
Fuyutsuki: Just answer the question, pilot Sohryu.
(The girl frowns as she stands in the light. Although the situation is unusual, she doesn't allow it to shake her, and faces up to the question after barely a moment's pause.)
Asuka: I lost contact with Unit One when Shinji.. when he entered the fog. He just rushed in, the jerk.
Fuyutsuki: The Eva's data recorders indicate that you hesitated in performing your duties.
Fuyutsuki: You chose to remain outside the combat zone.
(The girl lapses into silence; her hands clench into fists on the back of the chair as she remembers a moment of cowardice..)
Fuyutsuki: Pilot Sohryu?
Asuka: (angry) Well if you saw the recorders, then you don't need me to answer any questions, do you!?
Fuyutsuki: The data recordings are woefully incomplete; you already know this.
Gendo: After Unit One broke away and entered the fog, when and how did you regain contact with it?
(Shinji Ikari frowns at the question, his head tilted back slightly as he struggles to remember.. sitting motionless on the rickety chair in the exact centre of the pool of light.)
Shinji: I'm not sure.
Fuyutsuki: Pilot Ikari, when did you regain contact with Unit Two?
Shinji: I told you, I don't know.
(Shinji remains silent; not renown for a strong will, he often backs away from conflicts with apology. But in the face of the unrelenting questions he sits, quiet and unbowed by the attention focused upon him.)
Shinji: ..I don't remember.
Fuyutsuki: Then what do you remember?
Shinji: ..I remember..
Shinji: (pausing, frowning) The next thing I remember ..
(The chair remains empty - Asuka still refuses to take a seat. She reaches up to scratch her hair, turning away from the source of the question..)
Asuka: I woke up in the infirmary.
(A voice speaks from the darkness, admonishing..)
Gendo: Face us.
Fuyutsuki: Do you mean that you have no recollection of the events after the point in which you entered the fog?
Asuka: (turning) Yeah. (quiet) That's what I mean.
Gendo: And so, you have no memory of the combat which Major Katsuragi witnessed between Units One and Two.
Asuka: I don't remember any fight between me and Shinji...
Fuyutsuki: Then you have no idea as to how the armour on Eva Unit Two was damaged.
Asuka: I just don't know.
Fuyutsuki: Leiutenant Ibuki has reported that, after examining the Evas, she discovered concentrations of certain protien strains and tissue development in the areas around the damaged sections.
(Shinji rests his chin on his steepled fingers, gazing thoughtfully at the ground just before his feet. For the briefest moment, he resembles his father, introspective, lost in his his own counsel.. at length, he raises his head, choosing to answer the question as it is repeated.)
Shinji: I don't understand what you're talking about.
Gendo: The Evangelions performed substantial regeneration in the course of the last day; in the course of the encounter with the Angel.
Shinji: I don't remember the Eva healing itself..
Gendo: You have no memory of these events?
Gendo: You cannot explain the AT field manifestation over the city, either.
Gendo: Did you, at any point, physically see the Angel?
Gendo: (accusingly) How can you make such a statement if you would not be able to recall seeing the target?
(The young man is up to the challenge; answering without a pause, gazing steadily at the dim shapes of his questioners.)
Shinji: Exactly. I have no recollection of seeing the target.
Fuyutsuki: Have you anything to tell us?
(Another time; the same place. Misato stands at attention, speaking mechanically, her gaze fixed on nothing at all.)
Misato: ..where I witnessed Eva Units One and Two, for reasons unknown, engaging in combat; each attempting to disable the other. Pallet rifle fire from Unit One had severed Unit Two's power cable. For reasons unknown, the two ceased combat.
Gendo: Why would the pilot of Unit One fire upon Unit Two?
Misato: I can't answer that sir. It could have been friendly fire - a mistake.
Fuyutsuki: The Magi recorded some very - unusual readings. At the same time as the encounter that you describe, a blood-type blue AT field was formed over a large section of the city. Major?
Misato: I have no clear recollection of that event, Sir.
Gendo: Did you witness tissue regeneration in either of the Evangelions?
Mistato: No sir. None that I recall.
Fuyutsuki: Have you experienced any form of memory loss, Major? We have found that the recollections of many of the civillians caught in the fog have.. varied.
Misato: I haven't experienced any memory blackouts since the incident. I merely do not have anything else to report.
Gendo: Do you trust the reports of the pilots of Units One and Two?
Misato: Yes sir. Without a doubt.
Gendo: And yet, neither have provided any information for us to use in this investigation.
(As the interview draws to a close, Shinji leans back in his chair, resting his hands on his thighs, answering the remaining questions with an almost casual air. The chair creaks absently, the backrest being damaged from a previous interview.)
Shinji: I don't know what you want me to say, father.
Gendo: This investigation intends to discover the reasons for the contact achieved between Eva's One and Two.
Fuyutsuki: Needless to say, the capacities displayed by the Eva's in this situation have - surprised us.
Gendo: We do not wished to be surprised again.
(Elsewhere, Asuka brings her fist down hard on the back of the chair, splintering the supports.)
Asuka: Hey, didn't we defeat the Angel? Since we're all alive, I think that's what matters! (angrily) Isn't that enough for you?
Fuyutsuki: You and the pilot of Unit One experienced third level mental contamination. Your health is one of our concerns.
Gendo: I would imagine that after the incident involving your mother, you would be wary of such dangers.
Asuka: (glaring) My mother.. I never recieved a mental contamination warning.
(The amusement becomes a tangible thing in the darkness..)
Asuka: (standing up, furious) And I am NOT my mother!
(The door opens with the shifting of internal mechanisms, revealing the thin frame of Shinji Ikari. The afternoon light warms his face as he steps out of the entrance. Before him, on the bench opposite the doorway, sits Misato and Asuka. In perfect timing, they raise their heads to regard the third and final interviewee.
The door closes with a slight hiss behind the motionless pilot.
Shinji opens his mouth as if to speak, then stops... the muscles of his jawline clenching. Instead of words, the youth rubs his eyes with the palms of his hands, knuckling grit and tiredness away.)
Shinji: .. (yawning)
(Asuka speaks up first, her tone one of vast irritation..)
Asuka: .. boring, huh?
Shinji: .. (nodding)
(Silence falls once more between the trio.. until at last Misato rises from the bench, leaning back to stretch some kinks out of her back and yawning even wider than Shinji.)
Misato: ..Guess we ought to go home.
Voice: You and I both know that the problems of three people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world..
(Lyn Anouilh sits in front of the television set in the apartment shared by him and Seyoko. The Lieutenant is currently absent, and the pair have taken advantage of the privacy to settle in and watch a hired movie.)
Lyn: Shh! This is the good bit!
(The girl sits beside the boy, one arm almost possessively wrapped around the sixth child's shoulders, the other on the boy's plaster-encased arm. Aoi sighs slightly, settling down again, and watches the movie.
The two teenagers watch the rest of Casablanca in silence.)
Voice: You know.. this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship..
(The shift in the music reveals that the movie has finished. Lyn sits up slightly.)
Lyn: Well, that's it..
Lyn: What did you think?
Aoi: It was a little difficult to understand..
Lyn: It loses something in the translation.
Aoi: Yeah.. but the idea is really.. It's so sad! I mean, he loses everything, his home, his business, his love, and has to run..
Lyn: He did, yeah, but he did it for.. (hesitates) you know.
Aoi: For what?
Lyn: For.. you know.. it.
(Aoi smirks, poking Lyn in the ribs, enjoying his squirming.)
Aoi: I'm going to hear you say it, 6.
(Lyn sighs, and finally gives in.)
(Aoi smugly grins and holds onto his arm. Lyn shifts slightly, a uncomfortable smile on his face.)
Aoi: I suppose, if it's for love.. (suddenly suspicious) Hey, are you trying to tell me something?
(The girl stands abruptly, releasing his arm, and turns to face him with a injured expression.)
Aoi: Is this a brush off?
Aoi: Then what is it?
Lyn: I just.. like the movie. I thought you'd enjoy it..
Lyn: You didn't, did you.
Aoi: (sitting back down) I just think he should have gotten something. It just doesn't seem fair.
Lyn: (slowly) Well, I guess life doesn't always seem fair.
Aoi: (pouting) Yeah! You're so unfair to me.. not giving me what I want..
(The girl giggles, and clutches at Lyn, enjoying his discomfort..)
Aoi: Settle down 6! I was only kidding..
Aoi: (grinning) I've got everything I want right here..
(The woman stands before a closed door in her apartment. On the panel is a plaque bearing the words "Shinji's Lovely Suite". It is mid-afternoon.
It was a journey made in almost total silence - the other unusual fact being the slow speed and careful driving employed by Misato in returning the three to their residence. Having lost her car only a few days ago, she seems to be putting extra care into preserving her new purchase.
An hour has passed since their return and the tone in the small apartment remains subdued. Shinji, it seems, headed straight for his bedroom, while Asuka slumped on the living room couch. Misato has been seeking her own remedy - sampling the chilled contents of her refrigerator.
Beverage in hand, she taps gently on the panel with the rim of the Yebisu beer can.)
(She debates with herself silently for a moment, before finally opening the door. The room beyond, lit by the single light in the ceiling, is empty of its usual occupant.)
Misato: Shinji? (calling) Asuka? Where's Shinji?
Asuka: (from another room) I don't know. I'm busy.
Misato: (to herself) Must have gone out..
(Misato turns from the open doorway, taking a long pull of the beer can and wanders absently into the living room, driven by sheer boredom. What she greets, on her arrival, stops her in her tracks.)
Misato: What are you doing, Asuka?
(Asuka is crouched on the sofa in front of the television. In front of her stands Pen Pen. The girls blue eyes are fixed on her unsuspecting "target".)
Asuka: I'm going to win this time..
(To be sure she's seeing things correctly, Misato takes another swig - nope, they're still there. Asuka has not even moved - she doesn't even appear to be breathing, such is the incredible concentration she seems to be expending on the task before her.)
Misato: Uh.. Asuka? That's Pen Pen..
(Suddenly the pilot leaps from the couch towards the penguin, reaching full stretch as she hits the floor. Misato winces, but Asuka sits up, her face alight with triumph.)
Asuka: (brandishing the remote control) Got it!
Pen Pen: Qwaaaaa!
(Asuka begins flipping through channels, much to Pen Pen's discomfort, as Misato smiles and walks to the fridge. The disgruntled Penguin gives the remote, then Misato, a look that is truly pitiful.)
Misato: (aquiring another beer) Can't you just let him have his fun?
Asuka: Come on, Misato. You know as well as I that you have to assert your dominance with males. You can't let them just have what they want. It's like with Shinji.
(Misato tugs at the ring-pull of the beer, the can opening with a loud hiss and a head of foam.)
Misato: Like what with Shinji?
Asuka: Well, he does most of the cooking, and most of the washing, he gives up the remote control nearly all the time.. I'd say we've done a good job with him.
(Misato feels a twinge of guilt as Asuka continues flicking through channels without much interest. To cover, the woman samples her new beer - perhaps for longer than necessary.)
Misato: I wish you wouldn't say things like that Asuka.
Asuka: Why not? It's not as if it isn't true.
(Asuka suddenly smiles and shifts over to sit next to Pen Pen. The squat bird looks up, slightly startled.)
Asuka: Now Misato, observe. This is where you give the male what he wants so desperately. Now that you have the power, you can use it in the way it should be used.
(Asuka lowers to remote control to Pen Pen's height - flippers snap up to grasp it, but it is pulled out of reach. Again, she lowers it, but pulls it away before the penguin's stubby limbs can grab it.
The third time she flaunts the control, Pen Pen does not even attempt to reach it. He merely stands there, his flippers at his sides, his beaked face turned up towards the remote pathetically.
Finally Asuka puts the remote on the floor in front of the penguin. Once he is sure that it is not going to be taken away again, he leaps, producing a soft 'thump' as his plump body lands atop the desired item.)
Asuka: See? He loves me now.
(Pen Pen glares upwards with undisguised hatred.)
Misato: (face in hands) Oh Asuka..
Gendo: The repairs on Unit Zero have been completed. Another series of AT field utilization tests must be scheduled as soon as possible.
(Vice-Commander Fuyutuski sits down opposite Gendo Ikari as the sound of the train's rails builds in tempo. The golden light from the Geo-Front outside the cabin windows floods the train car as Fuyutsuki speaks.)
Fuyutsuki: Are you sure that's wise? Given what occured with Units One and Two, I would hold off until a proper analysis can be performed. The pilots have been.. less than co-operative in reporting what they experienced.
Gendo: All the more reason to complete the tests in a controlled environment. As you said yourself, these experiments should be held in a laboratory, not in the field. We must be better prepared next time.
Fuyutsuki: Next time..
(Fuyutsuki gazes out the window at the surface of the Geo-Front cavern, now far below, as the train rises on it's rail.)
Fuyutsuki: (thinking) SEELE.. when will you send another abomination to destroy us?
Fuyutsuki: Have you read Lieutenant Ibuki's update? Tomorrow, the complement will be introduced into a local primary school, where Ibuki believes he will interact with children of his own.. age.
Fuyutsuki: Proper security measures have been arranged - an agent will sit in on every class, and two more will be posted outside the door. Eight other operatives will be present on the school grounds at all times.
Gendo: A waste.
Fuyutsuki: I assume you are of the opinion that this will have no postive bearing on the complement's capabilities?
Gendo: I can only see it growing more distant from our goals.
Fuyutsuki: And yet you still allowed Ibuki to attempt this.. development?
Gendo: Allowing the Lieutenant to chase her hopes does not interfere with our plans; not if the complement is no longer a part of the overall picture. If she is successful, then it will be fortunate.. not necessary.
Fuyutsuki: Ibuki is, after all, responsible for many other projects..
(The older man is silent for a short time, while he formulates his next statement.)
Fuyutsuki: If I may venture an opinion?
(The NERV Vice commander takes the silence as agreement.)
Fuyutsuki: Hmm, yes. Born with a mind, Tenkei cannot be simply moulded into an image that we approve of. It is the nature of the living to grow - outwards, or if that is prevented, then inwards.
Fuyutsuki: Of course, neither of us have what I'd call a bedside manner when it comes to the mental health of our.. employees..
Fuyutsuki: Perhaps some outward growth would be beneficial with this case.
Gendo: We will see how the complement responds to the.. treatment. (dismissively) Let it go to school, if Ibuki so wishes. If it experiences an improvement, all the better for the goals of the project. If not, it is indeed fortunate that we have aquired backup resources..
Gendo: (frowning) It seems strange..
Gendo: When I was a child, I hated school..
(Fuyutsuki smiles at the joke, rare as it is to hear one from the normally impassive Commander.)
Gendo: .. but then.. I hated many things.
Seyoko: (calling) Lyn! You home?
(Seyoko nudges the door panel keypad with her knee, her arms laden with brown paper bags, packages and who knows what balanced precariously on top. She struggles through the doorway as the metal panel slides aside, revealing Aoi heading her way from the living room. Seyoko, blinded by her groceries, misses the girl's presence. After a moment, she awkwardly peers around her payload.)
Seyoko: (thinking) Where's that visitor he said he'd have over this afternoon? I returned early for a reason, dammit!
Lyn: (entering the living room) I'm in here..!
(Seyoko carries her burden part way into the apartment, using her nose to tumble a large, heavy box from the top of the stack onto the floor in front of Lyn. The sixth child looks down at the box at his feet, his fingers tapping an uncertain rhythm on the plaster cast still on his arm.)
Seyoko: Boots. What do you think? I saw them, and well.. they brought back memories.
Lyn: Brought back.. Oh. (grinning) That was.. come on, you still remember that?
Seyoko: I had to remember everything of mine you destroyed. It was weeks between your dad's home visits, and I usually forgot to bill him.
(Out of the living room, a young girl with an elegant ponytail of light brown hair follows the boy, catching up in time to hear the last sentences..)
Aoi: .. 6? Who are you talking to?
(Lyn jumps, realising Aoi's arrival, then flushes slightly as he realises neither woman has really met the other..)
Aoi: (nudging the necessary party) Go on 6! Introduce us!
Lyn: (embarrased) Ah.. Seyoko.. may I present.. Aoi Tamashii? Aoi..? Um... Seyoko.. she's my..
(At the introduction, Aoi bows formally, speaking words of welcome. Lyn's flush deepens as he realises he hadn't told Seyoko anything about Aoi..)
Seyoko: Hi! I'm Seyoko, Lyn's guardian.. you must be that nice girl he tells me so much about..
(The surprise shows clearly on Aoi's face.. shock enough to cause the girl to stumble over her next few words as she takes in the youthful figure of the new arrival..)
Aoi: Really? His.. guardian?
Seyoko: Yeah.. ever since he was old enough to feed my shoes to a dog I've been looking after him..
(Lyn smiles at the recollection, once an embarrassing mistake, but now merely a childish action, long in the past. Something in him is suprised that he no longer feels pain with the memory, unusual, especially in such company he is normally so sensitive to.)
Lyn: (softly) Maybe I'm growing up..
Seyoko: ..and I needed something to help me forgot the hole my career is in right now - what was that?
Aoi: (smiles) Thinking about the shoes?
Lyn: I was just wondering.. I don't - feel embarrassed about it any more.
Seyoko: Hmm? Well, I guess, once you've had enough, you just can't care any more. After a certain point, you've been through so much pain that all of the petty bullshit you normally are so concerned about becomes about as important as roadkill.
Lyn: (freaked out) Seyoko!
Seyoko: See? I'm not offended; you're not offended by my casual use of the term, are you?
(In the face of the bland statement, Lyn quiets, muttering almost inaudibly..)
Lyn: (eyes darting over to Aoi) Well.. no.. but someone else might be.
(Seyoko looks at Aoi, who gazes back at him, deadpan. Then, as if by magic, she winks. The muscles about Aoi's mouth twitch as she holds in a grin of conspiracy.)
Seyoko: What? I couldn't quite hear that..
Lyn: (gritted teeth) Some other people present might be offended.
Seyoko: Yeah. I bet they'd be offended. They'd certainly be offended to hear all the wonderful details of roadkill.. shall I describe what one looks like?
Lyn: (panicked) Seyoko, for God's sake?!
(Behind him, Aoi is in hysterics at the boy's embarrased reaction - she wraps her arms around one of his and giggles, clutching him tightly as he flushes a deeper shade, looking for all the world like he is about to pass out. Seyoko smiles at the boy's expression, satisfied with her findings, and ruffles his hair.)
Seyoko: (laughing) Good to see I can still gross you out! (gets up and head for the television) Let's watch a movie. Something violent, involving people dying...
(Faking a leer of bloodlust, she ejects the tape already in the machine and looks at it, blinking at the label on the spine of the video.)
Seyoko: Casablanca? Huh.. nice movie. Sad ending.. it just doesn't seem fair.
Lyn: (red faced, smiling at the floor) Yeah.. I guess.
(As the woman begins to search through the room for a tape to watch, Lyn and Aoi tentatively resume their places on the couch, the girl's demeanour immediately warming to the casual attitude of the boy's guardian.)
Seyoko: Well, make yourselves comfortable! Go on! Aoi, you too..
Aoi: (nodding, smiling at Seyoko) .. thanks umm..
Seyoko: Please.. Seyoko.. me and Lynnie like to keep it informal..
Aoi: (bursts out laughing) LYNNIE?!
(Seyoko busies herself searching through the tapes beside the machine as Aoi hugs the embarrased boy even tighter.
The stacks of shopping linger in the hallway, forgotten for a long time.
Seyoko begins to hum a tune to herself absently as she rummages around, discarding one tape after with a hmmph here and a harrumph over that title. As soon as it is clear that Seyoko is too busy to care, Aoi reaches over, grabbing a handful of Lyn's shirt and pulls him far too close for comfort..)
Lyn: ..! Mmmph!
(Aoi covers his mouth with a hand, her expression of hard inquiry..)
Aoi: Just what have you been saying about me, 6?
(The midafternoon sun leaks into the bedroom as the door to Shinji's room slides open...
The day has passed in quiet contemplation - apart from the little Pen Pen incident. Asuka has been wary, but the bird has shown no outward sign of a grudge - beyond a glare - once having possession of the remote control. Since the penguin offers no entertainment, the pilot of Unit 02 has been wandering the small apartment, from living room to bedroom to kitchen - even taking a sip of Misato's beer out of sheer boredom. Having exhausted all other possibilities, she now taps at the doorframe, looking for her fellow pilot, driven by a lack of action..)
(There is no response - the boy is quite obviously not present. The girl hesitates momentarily before stepping over the threshold - unconciously violating his privacy. She turns her head from side to side as if checking the room for the impossible. Shinji is absent - in fact, the room looks well ordered, the bedsheets folded and tucked away. The only incongruity is the boy's walkman, usually taken with him when he leaves the apartment, conspicuously resting on the pillow of the bed.)
(The earplugs lay to one side, the small dark box resting carefully on the smooth pillow cover.)
(The pilot kneels by the futon and reaches out her hand for the walkman. Without quite knowing why, her hand hovers over it for a moment, before slowly descending to depress the play button.)
(Music, sounding small and tinny, is emiitted from the earplugs. Gently, Asuka grasps one in each hand. She slips them into her ears and listens for a moment. Then she settles herself down, sitting with her back to the wall, the walkman in her hands, and lets the tape run.)
(For a while, nothing moves - the young pilot seated on the floor, back to the wall, listening to the music with eyes closed.. looking for all the world like the owner of the walkman. A slight smile crosses her face as she listens to the soothing tune, her thoughts quickly lost in the rhythm of the song..)
Shinji: It helps me.. block out.. the bad memories..
(Asuka jerks her head up, eyes wide, the earplugs falling free of her ears.)
(The room is empty. Nothing has changed, save the angle of the sunlight through the doorway. Suddenly frightened, the girl realises she has no idea how much time has passed.)
Asuka: What the..
(She quickly stands up and staggers to the door, legs aching with a strange lethargy. Grabbing the doorframe for support, Asuka leans around it and peers down the hallway.)
Asuka: (calling) ..Shinji?
Misato: (calling out from another room) He's still not here, Asuka. What have you been doing in there?
Asuka: .. I.. uh.. Nothing..!
(Asuka goes back into the boy's room and leans against the wall. Frowning, she thinks silently for a few minutes.)
Asuka: (thinking) Where is he, that idiot?
(Down on the mattress Shinji's walkman continues playing...)
Asuka: Oh, why the hell should I care?
(She bends down and switches it off. Straightening, she leaves the walkman on the mattress and walks briskly from the room, sliding the panel closed without a backwards glance.)
Worker: (calling) Alright - take 'er away!
(The rhythmic sound of machinery easily reaches the ears of Rei Ayanami as she lays, face down on her rumpled bed. She has long become used to it - her small, shabby apartment rings with the sound from just after dawn clear through until twilight.
Then, abruptly, the sounds come to an end. There is a hiss as mechanical gear disengages, and a few distant shouts and calls as workers finish the final shift of the day and head home, relief and tired humor in their parting calls and gestures.)
(The first child rolls onto her side, half-curled, as she stares across the room with her crimson eyes. The object of her attention is the door, only dimly visible in the evening light. The mass of letters and notices jammed through the letter slot form only a fuzzy white shape in the gathering darkness.
Every few seconds, the gap under the door is lit by the headlights of a passing car.)
(The minutes pass. Rei continues to watch the door, almost.. waiting.)
(Another light fills the gap under the door for a brief second as a car drives past. Then another. Rei watches her, her eyes following the brief flickers of illumination.)
( A light fills the gap - and stays. The sound of the car outside drops and dies as an engine stops. A second later, the light that fills spills into the room from under the door vanishes.
Then Rei hears the sound of a car door slamming shut.)
(The girl sits up suddenly, her hands placing themselves on her knees, as she waits attentively. Her expression remains motionless as another sound reaches her ears - footsteps.
They grow louder, closer, nearer..
.. the corners of her mouth start to curl up in the slightest hint of a smile..
.. until the heavy footsteps pass by without pause, heading for a distant room of the apartment block.)
(The girl sits still for a moment, the smile slowly falling back to the regular impassive expression. She sinks back to the bed, lying on her side once more, resuming her vigil. The slightest whisper escapes her lips as her crimson eyes return to their endless watching, the endless waiting..)
Rei: (quietly) ..Tenkei..
(The word seems to open a floodgate - two fists clench at a sudden uprising of feelings.. the blue haired head bows, the knees coming up to meet the chest, as the girl closes her eyes, the ache in her middle slowly mounting..
.. the muscles of her jaw clench, teeth chattering in the darkness as she struggles to rein in the unfamilar emotions.. mouthing the same word over and over..)
Rei: (whispering) Tenkei.. Tenkei.. Tenkei..
(The first child slowly curls into a foetal position as the ache becomes a sharp stabbing pain, drawing a gasp from her.. then a great sob..
.. and for perhaps the third time in her life, Rei Ayanami cries, shedding tears into the pillow.)
(Misato Katsuragi lies on her bed, the sheets covering the unsightly heap made by her body. Sleep has not yet claimed her - her eyes refuse to close regardless of the beers consumed this night.)
Misato: (thinking) What did they see out there?
Misato: (thinking) Don't they trust me anymore? Have I become like that? Like my father?
(Automatically, the woman's hand drapes off the side of the bed.. reaching into a pile of empty beer cans. By touch, she locates a half-full one and lifts its sloshing contents to her mouth, taking a swig as the uncomfortable thought dawns..)
Misato: (thinking) No, I can't have. I mustn't! Maybe they just don't want to talk to anyone..
Misato: (speaking softly) I hope..
(There is a sound from beyond Misato's door - the mechanical hiss of the main door opening.)
(The sound repeats as the door closes. Soft, uncertain footsteps, amplified by the darkness, make their way through the apartment. A door opens, a gentle sliding sound of the rails against the groove.
Misato's smile goes unseen in the darkened room: Shinji has returned home.
The minutes pass, and Misato finds her eyes finally closing as her body surrenders to the natural urge to sleep.. a stifled yawn passes her lips as she stretches out, the now empty can of Yebisu falling to her fingers to clatter on the carpet and roll away silently. Time stretches interminably.. the woman loses herself to sleep as sprawls on the bed.
The moon has risen high over the city by the time Misato wakes a second time - to the sound of another door opening. Another hiss of a door - but not the main door..
The sound is heard again as the refrigerator shuts, and a quiet, steady slapping noise approaches.
Misato peers blearily in the general direction of the door as it is slowly pushed open...
..and Pen Pen waddles in.)
Misato: (sleepily) mmpfh.. Pnn Peen?
(The penguin moves across the room to Misato's desk. Even in the dark, she can just make out the poster above it and the computer that rests upon the desk; but Pen Pen has another goal. He rummages to the left of the table, finally knocking something over with a loud crack - Misato winces, hand going to her ear as the sound seems to cut into her awareness with painful intensity.)
Misato: (softly) Quiet..! What are you doing?
(The Major watches as Pen Pen rolls out of the room on Misato's old skateboard, long kept next to the woman's desk - she had almost forgotten that it was there.)
Misato: What the..
(The rolling sound stops somewhere down the corridor, and is replaced by the sound of the penguin waddling back to his fridge.)
(At length, sleep claims her once more, the dreamless kind - undisturbed by Pen Pen's unusual behaviour.)
(Shinji blinks awake, woken by the sound of Asuka's voice through the thin wall between their bedrooms.)
Asuka: (loud voice) Alright! Morning! Is that idiot home yet!?
(The door to the girl's room is thrown open and she steps out. Immediately there is a rolling sound, accompanied by the heavy thud of a body hitting the floor.)
Asuka: (in pain) Arrrrrr! That stupid..!
(Shinji sits up in bed, suddenly, shockingly awake - as if someone threw a pail of cold water over him.)
Asuka: (in pain) My.. argh! My fucking leg!
(The boy leaps out of bed and runs towards the sound of Asuka cursing violently in German. Misato is already at the scene, bending over the redheaded girl.)
Misato: Oh my.. How did that skateboard get there?
(Shinji stares as Misato, behind which a smug-looking Pen Pen gazes at Asuka, who is clutching at her foot and swearing at an unoffending-looking skateboard some distance away.)
Shinji: I.. Asuka, are you alright?
Asuka: What do you think, dumbkopf!!
(Asuka's voice breaks off as she continues to clutch at her ankle. Shinji, suddenly torn between being repelled by her anger or sympathetic of her pain, freezes. Asuka's head jerks up; Shinji is shocked to see tears in her eyes.)
Asuka: Damn it Shinji, help me!
(Shinji blinks for a second, then runs over to the girl. Misato also approaches, slowly realizing the seriousness of the second child's injury.)
Misato: (concerned) That doesn't look good..
Shinji: (fumbling) I think it might be broken, Asuka..
Asuka: Don't touch it, idiot!
(Shinji snatches back his helping hand, startled by the vehemence of her tone..)
Shinji: I'm sorry!
Misato: Come on, let's get her up. She needs that looked at.
Asuka: (shout) No I don't! (quieter) No, I don't. I'm okay know, see?
(Asuka puts her good leg underneath her and rises, one hand on Shinji's convenient shoulder.)
Asuka: Get away from..!
(She shoves the boy away and continues to stand on her own. Finally, she is upright.)
Asuka: See? Fine.
(She slowly puts the weight onto her injured ankle.)
(The girl falls onto Shinji, who is still kneeling.)
Asuka: (pained voice) Misato, get a doctor - quickly?!
Asuka: (loud voice) What!?
Misato: The doctors say you shouldn't walk on it; not without a crutch.
(It is mid-morning - the pilots are seated in a small medical office. Asuka has taken the examination bench and sits on it, her ankle bulky and swathed in white gauze. She slams her fists on the padded bench, causing both Misato and Shinji to jump in their seats, and curses roundly in German for the second time that morning.)
Asuka: What..this is ridiculous! This from a skateboard? What the hell was it doing there anyway?
(The Major suddenly turns bright red - thinking back to the previous night of intoxication and the intrusion into her room of a certain bird bent on vengeance..)
Shinji: It'll be alright, Asuka. You shouldn't need to use the crutch for very long..
Asuka: That's not the point! It was a skateboard. What the hell kind of injury do you get from a skateboard? How the hell could I have been beaten by a skateboard!?
Shinji: It's just bad luck, Asuka..
(Misato is meanwhile dialing on her phone.)
Misato: (phone) Hyuga? Can you get me Maya please? Thanks.
Maya: (phone) Yes Major? ..Injured? When?
Maya: (phone) I see. Well, it shouldn't affect her basic synch ratio.. but the effect on her performance..
Maya: (phone) No, it shouldn't be confined. I'll get someone to modify one of Asuka's plug suits. Well, it could be rigged in just a minute if we just cut off the leg.. doing it properly could take a while. Which ankle is it?
Maya: (phone) Right. Well, a proper suit could be outfitted before the tests tomorrow, certainly. Do you think she'll still attend?
Maya: (phone) Oh. Well, I was thinking of having the sixth child attend.. yes. Unit Two. Well, he's piloted it before, he could produce some results.. I'm not sure if Asuka will agree.. yes, thanks.
Maya: (phone) Well, thank you Major. Bye.
(A day has passed since Asuka's injury - school is once again in session, and Rei Ayanami has returned to her habitual silence at her desk.)
(The girl gazes out the window at the schoolyard beyond, supporting her chin with her hand. Every few minutes, she look back into the classroom, her crimson eyes finding the third child, apparently busy in his studies.)
(As she looks at Shinji, she realises that Asuka is watching her in turn. Having spent most of the morning describing the dramatic car accident in which she was injured, she sits with her bandaged foot thrust out under the desk and a crutch leaning against the back of her chair.
The second child catches the eyes of Rei for a moment before looking down at her terminal.
Rei turns away, her gaze moving once more to the courtyard outside.)
Teacher: As you can see from the diagrams, electrons orbiting an atom form in certain orbits. These orbits are equivalent to an energy level.
(The school bell chimes in the distance, and a noticable sigh of relief passes through the class.)
Teacher: These energy levels determine.. Very well, class dismissed for the lunch break.
(Hikari runs the students through the standard dismissal procedure, but Rei has, as always, her mind elsewhere.)
(As the students file out, Rei leaves the classroom alone, as always.)
Hikari: Hey Asuka?
Hikari: Where are you going?
(Asuka stops her limping advance after Rei and looks at the class representative.)
Asuka: I was..
(Asuka cuts herself short, thoughtfully eyeing Rei's disappearing back before turning back to Hikari with a sigh.)
Asuka: Never mind.
Shinji: Huh.. Rei?
(The boy looks up with suprise at the figure of the first child, standing above where he, Kensuke and Touji are spending their lunch time.)
Rei: Can we... talk?
Shinji: Umm.. Sure Rei.
Rei: Come with me, please.
(The request is unusual - in fact, Rei wanting anything at all is unusual. Shinji blinks twice, stupidly, looking up at the girl in total incomprehension.)
Shinji: (finally) Uhh.. I suppose.. if..
(From behind, Kensuke adds his opinion in an overly loud tone of voice.)
Kensuke: Fine with us.
Touji: Just go, Shinji. It's not like we're gonna steal your lunch or something.
(Shinji stands up, shouldering his backpack, and nods once to Rei. The girl has already turned and is walking away at a steady pace - Shinji blinks again, standing stock still for a moment, then follows, lengthening his stride to catch up, then slows to a walk alongside the schoolgirl.)
Shinji: So Rei..
Shinji: .. what's this about?
(Rei remains silent until they reach the perimeter of the school grounds. She stops, facing away from the schoolyard, and reaches slowly forth with her hands, resting them atop the metal linked fence. When she at last speaks her voice is barely audible, drowned in the shouts and cries of the student body at lunch.)
Rei: The child..
Shinji: Wasn't he the one in the entry plug when..?
-(flashback)- Evangelion Unit 01 drags itself up the rough-hewn wall of the pit it had dug shortly before. Over the Eva's shoulder is the battered, blackened form of Unit 00, it's armour fractured, it's flesh charred and shrivelled. Finally the Eva clears the pit..
-(flashback)- ..Unit 00 falls to the ground. Shinji's Eva tears off the plug armour and gently extracts the tube which contains the pilot..
-(flashback)- ..The entry plug is opened; through the hastily-erected radiation seals, Shinji makes out two small figures, pulled from the wreckage. One, easily recognisable by it's pale blue hair and white plug suit is Rei Ayanami. The other, a small child..
Shinji: When we nearly.. when you were going to..
(Rei simply nods, not even turning to face Ikari, whose expression slowly deepens with lines of concern.)
Rei: He is..
Rei: He doesn't want to..
Rei: (abruptly) You have run away.
(The first child regards Shinji with crimson eyes, utterly devoid of any expression or emotion - almost calculating in their regard, analytical as she gauges his response.)
Shinji: Yeah.. I have.. but that was before, Rei. I.. I'm not going to run away again.. never again..
Rei: ..What did it feel like?
Rei: ..When you ran away?
(Shinji regards the girl before him, taking in her expression, the hands that clench almost unnoticed atop the metal link fence.. the white knuckles of tension in her hands at odds with the calm expression and peaceful regard in her eyes... and as the shouts of school children reaches a crescendo behind him, he too leans against the fence and begins to speak..)
Asuka: (muttering) Stupid skateboard..
(The school day has long since concluded - the pilots being called to NERV at the end of class. Asuka Langley Soryu now sits in the locker room, struggling to prepare for another set of activiation tests..)
Asuka: (muttering) What the hell was it doing there in the first place..
(Asuka grumbles to herself as she struggles to pull her plugsuit up over her bandaged ankle. The material of the suit has been cut away from the right ankle, but she still has trouble pulling the rest of the leg segment over her injury.
From her locker, Rei, already dressed in her suit, watches with passive eyes. Asuka continues to battle the material as she sits on the locker room bench. The first child approaches, as if to help.)
Asuka: No! (turns away from Rei)
(Rei steps back, continuing to observe.)
Asuka: What are you looking at?
Asuka: (angrily) I'd rather if I didn't have to do this without you looking at me like I'm some kind of specimen!
Asuka: (red faced) I don't need your help.. get the hell away from me!
(Rei regards the red-haired girl for another moment, before wordlessly turning to the door. With a hiss the door closes, leaving the room silent except for the sounds of Asuka's grunts as she struggles with both plug-suit and leg.)
Yuri: Unit Zero is active.
(In cage control, Maya, Yuri, Hyuga and Misato watch as the Evas activate. Leiutenant Ibuki peers down at her console - now that she is officially the chairperson of Project E, she no longer needs to sit at her former post - but old habits die hard.)
Yuri: One and Two have just passed absolute borderline. No problems detected.
Maya: Synch ratios.. They all seem alright.
Misato: So Asuka's injury hasn't affected her?
Maya: No. More importantly, the last.. event.. didn't affect her or Shinji. They both seem fine.. so far.
Hyuga: Should we ready the sixth?
Maya: Not yet. (into radio) Asuka? How does your ankle feel?
Asuka: (radio) Fine right now.
Misato: Shinji, Rei; any problems?
Shinji: (radio) Everything seems okay.
Rei: (radio) No problems.
Misato: Alright. Move Unit Two to the pad. Send her to the second testing zone. Follow with Unit One. (to radio) Asuka? For now, we just want to check if you can perform today with your injury. That is all. After that, Lyn and Rei will commence the field tests we did the other day.
Asuka: (radio) So.. he'll be using Unit Two.
Misato: Yes. Asuka, these are orders..
Asuka: (radio) ..No.. it's okay.
(Through the viewing screen, they watch as the red Evangelion is launched up into the Geo-Front testing area. After Unit 02 is clear, vast machinery begins to move Unit 01 along the track towards the catapault.)
Maya: Well, Asuka took that pretty well.
Misato: (thougthfully) She did.. I wonder why..
Maya: ..You don't think that it's because of.. what happened, do you?
Yuri: Unit One is in position, Major.
Misato: Launch the Eva.
(Evangelion Unit 01 emerges from the earth nearly a kilometre away from Unit 02, which still held in it's restraints. Between them lies the vast expanse of testing ground, where, only a few days earlier, the same two Evas had begun the nearly diasastrous first experiment. The team watches from the viewscreen in the cage control room.)
Misato: Okay. Asuka, nothing fancy. Docking release.
(The clamps securing Unit 02 slide open, releasing the Eva's massive shoulders. Almost immediately, the red giant shifts it's weight onto it's left foot.)
Misato: Asuka, are you okay?
Asuka: (radio) My foot.. It hurts.
(Abruptly the massive creature takes a step forward onto it's right leg. The ankle joint wobbles under the weight - then slips.)
Asuka: (radio - in pain) Sheiss!
(Eva Unit 02 falls, stopping itself with it's hands, palms slapping hard against the ground. The Eva slowly settles itself on it's side, gently shifting it's unsure leg. There is a moment of painful silence over the radio. Then..)
Asuka: (radio) I.. I can't walk this thing.
Shinji: (radio) Asuka? Are you okay?
Asuka: (radio - grudgingly) Unit Two is.. returning to the launch pad.
(The Evangelion rises slowly, grabbing onto the vertical supports of the gantry, shifting itself back into the restraints.)
Misato: Okay. Bring her back down. Prepare Lyn for insertion into Unit Two. We'll commence the tests.
(An hour has passed, and the pilots have returned to the locker rooms as they prepare to leave. Lyn opens his locker, his eyes clouded with the memory of the test.)
(The pilot of Unit 01 continues rummaging through his locker, showing no sign of attention beyond his single word response.)
Lyn: I don't mean to be rude, but.. is Rei okay?
Shinji: She has been acting a little strange recently..
Lyn: She couldn't.. do.. the exercises. But I know she can - she told me how to use my field, but she's having this trouble.. we couldn't even do the basic stuff..
Lyn: It's like she's really not trying to -
Shinji: (interrupting) It's probably nothing.
Shinji: ..Yeah. You shouldn't worry about it.
(Lyn shows relief at the third child's reassurance, but still harbours doubts.)
Lyn: Right. So.. she'll be okay?
-(flashback)-Rei: What did it feel like when you ran away?
(Another day passes..)
(And in that day, Shinji's concerns only grow. The overcast sky dims the schoolyard, but still Rei spends nearly the entire lesson staring out the window, her eyes distant, her mind elsewhere.)
Teacher: Miss Ayanami?
(Shinji starts suddenly - it is the first occasion he can remember where the teacher actually spoke to Rei directly. The old man has stopped the lesson, peering curiously at the first child.)
Teacher: Do you understand these concepts, Miss Ayanami?
Teacher: Would you care to explain them to the class?
Rei: ..No thank you.
(A sudden, stark silence falls over the class, punctuated only by the loud gulp of someone swallowing nervously.)
Asuka: (quietly) .. First Child?
Hikari: (suddenly standing up) Sir! Miss Ayanami told me that she wasn't feeling well before. Could she and I be excused so I can take her to the school nurse?
Teacher: ..She can report to the sick bay, if she feels ill..
(The class representative leads Rei out the door, firmly holding onto the girl's arm - almost dragging her out. Once they are outside the classroom, Hikari begins to speak.)
Hikari: What the heck are you doing, Ayanami!
Hikari: This isn't you. What's the matter with you these days?
Rei: ..I don't have.. I don't..
Rei: ..I don't want ..
Hikari: If you don't want to tell me, Rei, you don't have to.
Hikari: Maybe you should be excused for the day, Rei.. if it will make it any easier.
Rei: ..I would like that. Very much.
Hikari: (sighing) Okay.. I'll tell the nurse and Sensei.. will you be alright?
Rei: .. I hope so..
(Shinji Ikari watches the door from his desk.)
Teacher: Now you see by equalizing the values you can correctly balance the equation.
(The pilot of Unit 01 glances at the board, then lowers his eyes once more to his terminal. A small 'message' icon is blinking. Shinji selects it.)
>I don't think the 1st child is coming back_
(Shinji looks behind him at the faces of his class mates, but no one is looking at him. He returns to his console and uses the reply option.)
>What do you mean_
>You should know. You've been staring at wondergirl all day!_
(Before Shinji can respond, the door to the classroom opens and Hikari Horaki returns.)
Hikari: Sir? Miss Ayanami isn't feeling well. She's going to the nurse.
Teacher: Oh? ..Oh, alright then. Take your seat please, Miss..
(The streets of Tokyo-3 are overcast as Rei walks away from the school. She raises her head, looking about the nearly empty roads. Uncertain of her way, and yet guided by something deep within herself, she continues.)
(After twenty minutes of walking, the girl has found herself standing before a small local park. Under her feet is a small field of grass, one of the few parks still permitted within the fortress-city's districts.)
Rei: ..He's here.
(Without hesitation, Rei enters the park. Bestowed with swings and slides and other childhood joys, the grounds are empty apart from a solitary figure, silhouetted at the far edge of the grassy square.
It is Tenkei, sitting on the ground, a smile spreading across his young face as he catches sight of Rei.)
Rei: (smiling) ..
(Tenkei clambers to his feet, scampering towards the girl, hands outstretched, his face alight with innocent joy.)
Gendo: (into phone) I'm sorry, could you repeat that, Captain?
Gendo: (into phone) I see. And the man in the class? No. I didn't think so.
Gendo: (into phone) No, I don't expect they saw anything either. No, do not bother. I will handle it.
Gendo: (into phone) Stay at the school and await the complement's return.
Gendo: (into phone) Yes.
(The Commander of NERV hangs up the phone, setting it into his desk drawer and shutting it. He settles his bearded chin onto his gloved hands and frowns behind his tinted glasses.)
Fuyutsuki: Allow me to take an educated guess - the complement evaded the eleven operatives keeping surveillance on him and is now at an unknown location. And at least one Captain in our security forces fears that he will soon become a Lieutenant again.
Gendo: (smiles slightly) Well, at the very least we have a better idea of the complement's capabilities.
Fuyutsuki: You sound almost pleased..
Gendo: Far better that we discover the unpleasant truth in such an innocent manner. Rather we lose track of it now than during another assault.
Fuyutsuki: Hmm. There is that.
Gendo: Finding it could prove difficult, however.
Fuyutsuki: I'll inform Lieutenant Ibuki immediately.
Gendo: Very good. I'm sure that she will have some knowledge of the Unit's whereabouts.. after all, it is her responsibility.
Fuyutsuki: And she has less than a week to display some improvement of the units capacity - to show that the unit is not so useless as we had believed.
Gendo: Indeed. We all have our deadlines, Fuyutsuki..
Fuyutsuki: (thinking) Some far more literal than others..
( A steady metal squeak rings out in the air. Tenkei sits on the swing, his hands clasping the chains that support him, as Rei gently pushes him up into an arc. He swings back, the girl lightly catching his return, and pushing him back up.)
(Rei has no memory of such an activity, but she has seen it performed as she walked home from school.
As she walked home alone.
As she watched the smiles play on their faces.
As she heard the joyous cheer in their voices.)
(The two remain mute; only the steady squeek of the chains against the supports breaks the sea of silence. Rei silently contemplates the thoughts that run through her mind.)
Rei: (thinking) They would smile..
Rei: (thinking) I would walk on..
Rei: (thinking) I never.. considered..
Rei: (thinking) Tenkei?
(The chains squeal in metal friction. The first child realises, with some surprise, that she doesn't know if Tenkei is even enjoying the childish game. For a moment of panic as a rush of alien thoughts pour into her mind.)
Rei: (thinking) Does he hate this game?
Rei: (thinking) Does he wish me to stop?
Rei: (thinking) Does he wish me to leave?
Rei: (thinking) Does he hate me?
Rei: (thinking) Does he merely wish to use me?
Rei: (thinking) Commander Ikari?
(Another thought emerges from the sudden welter of images and voices.)
Rei: (thinking) He understands me.
Rei: (thinking) He understands that I am ..
Rei: (thinking) He knows that I.. care.. about.. him.
Rei: (thinking) Even if he hates this time absolutely..
Rei: (thinking) He knows that I am doing this out of..
Rei: (thinking) Out of..
Rei: (thinking) Out of..
Rei: (thinking) Love?
Rei: (thinking) He knows that I am doing this for him.
(Rei looks up, trying to find a voice to tell Tenkei this revelation, but the sight of NERV security operatives converging on them silently pushes the words back.
They seem to appear all around them. Rei returns her eyes to the boy's back as she continues to push Tenkei on his arc. As she touches him, she can feel the young muscles in his back tense in fear and helpless anger - he has seen them too.
Rei raises her head once more, counting at least six agents. They stop a few steps away, directly before the pair; none bother with words. Silently menacing, they regard the two children as the swing creaks to a stop.
Finally, Maya Ibuki steps forward from behind the bulky, suited figures.)
Maya: I'm sorry Rei..
Maya: You have to go back.
(The scene; a school hallway. The principal has been mollified - his haughty bearing and gruff anger placated by the words of NERV security. The boy has been returned to his class, they say. The incident will not be repeated.)
Maya: Fat chance.
(The Chairman of E-Project stands now at a wooden door in the primary school. On the other side of the door lies a small classroom, populated by children. One of those children, closest to the door, eyes his newfound classmates with golden eyes..)
Maya: What are we doing?
Teacher: Children.. get out your drawing pencils, please..
(The class rustles as the children open their desks, producing a variety of drawing items - pencils, rulers, coloring crayons..)
Maya: Why are we arresting them?
Teacher: Tenkei - you haven't got out your drawing pencils..
(The boy in question looks up suddenly - acutely aware of the attention focussed on his lapse. Slowly he fumbles with his desk, lifting the lid in imitation of his clasmates and withdrawing a small aluminium container - coloring crayons. The container is fresh, unmarked.. unopened.)
Maya: What have they done to deserve this?
Teacher: Good boy!
(The teacher lays an encouraging hand on the child's shoulder, who seems to sink lower into his chair, not looking up as a large rectangle of drawing paper is placed before him, as it is before each child present.)
Maya: Are we so devoted to the cause?
Teacher: And now, children, I want you to draw something for me..
(The child, Tenkei, sits quietly in his seat, head down, totally oblivious to the words of the teacher.. totally cowed.)
Teacher: I want you to draw what or who you want to be with when you grow up..
(Around the class, children squeal with excitement - a brief moment of chatter before they all bury themselves in the task, beginning their struggling attempts at artwork. Evangelions seem popular this year - most children view the evacuations as "excitement" as the giant Evas as "cool toys". Maya sighs as she takes in the classroom; heads down, busily drawing..
.. even the young newcomer, Tenkei.)
Maya: Does the cause deny children their time together?
(Tenkei pushes aside his black crayon, ignoring it as it rolls from his desk to clatter to the floor. The teacher, however, does not, and turns to pay him special attention.)
Teacher: What do we have here, Tenkei..? Is that a person?
(Tenkei does not look up; reaching over to select another crayon, seemingly at random from the aluminimum tray at his side.)
Teacher: Oh, no no, you don't want to use blue there.. thats the color of the sky, Tenkei!
Maya: Is our cause worth this?
(Tenkei discards the blue crayon, and reaches sideways once more..)
Teacher: Who are you drawing, Tenkei?
Maya: Why do we keep on hurting them?
(Maya looks on in abject sympathy as she notes the color of the boy's selection. Red.. deep red..
.. for the eyes.)
(The child lies on the makeshift bed that Maya had prepared for him days earlier. The first week of his stay has passed slowly for Ibuki; the complement's quiet nature has done little to speed the passage of time.)
Maya: You've been here for over a week..
Maya: ..And the time I was given only lasts a few more days..
Maya: After that..
(Maya's voice trails off as she watches the boy from the chair at his bedside.)
Maya: (thinking) How can I tell him?
Maya: Commander Ikari only allowed this because..
Maya: (pausing) Because I convinced him that it might improve your ..results.
Maya: (thinking) How can I tell him that he's just a tool?
Maya: I'm sorry, Tenkei, but unless you do better in the next test..
Maya: They are..
Maya: (thinking) They'll kill you, Tenkei.
Maya: (thinking) They take you away and kill you.
Maya: (thinking) Little comfort to know that the end will be quick..
Maya: (thinking) He can't do this. Not anymore.
Maya: (thinking) But how can I tell him that some of us do care?
Tenkei: (hesitating) ..It's alright..leu..leiut..leiutenant..
Tenkei: ..I know.
Maya: (thinking) He does, too.
Tenkei: It's.. okay.
Maya: (thinking) We are forcing these children to be something that they shouldn't be.
(Pen Pen looks up, helpless, and Hikari holds him up, hands beneath his stomach.)
Pen Pen: Quaaa!
Hikari: Quiet! (to Asuka) I'm worried about Ayanami, Asuka.
(Asuka looks up from the textbook she is taking notes from.)
Asuka: Wondergirl's got problems? Well, that's news.
Hikari: Well, she's acting really unlike her.. and not just today. She's been like this for days.
Asuka: The first child will just have to learn how to deal with her problems, that's all. Just like the rest of us.
(Hikari sets down Pen Pen and turns her head, looking out the balcony door at the afternoon sky, darkened by heavy rain clouds.)
Hikari: But she doesn't have to do it alone.
Hikari: (yelling) Asuka!
Asuka: What? You didn't have to shout!
Hikari: I was saying that she doesn't need to work this out alone. Maybe we should try to talk to her..
Asuka: Talk to wondergirl? Are you for real?
Hikari: Well, we should do something..
Hikari: .. she's human too, isn't she?
(Maya flicks through the novel, unable to focus her mind on the pages. In the background sound from the television floats through the room.)
(The boy looks up from the television.)
Tenkei: Yes L.. Le.. Lieutenant?
Maya: You don't have to call me Lieutenant.
Tenkei: ..But that's what.. Rei calls you.
Maya: Please call me Maya.
Tenkei: ..M.. May.. Maya. Yes?
Maya: What are you watching?
Tenkei: ..no sure.
Tenkei: (pausing) ..A man.. asks questions.. and they (pointing) answer them. And they get.. things.
(Maya smiles, returning to her novel.
Minutes pass. A small burst of applause is heard over the television. Tenkei remains silent, his yellow eyes wide as we watches the program.
Then, very softly, knocking is heard.)
(The woman stands, walking over to the door. Fumbling for her keys, Maya releases the deadbolt and the door slowly swings open.)
(The First Child stands in the doorway, silent, her red eyes almost uncertain. Her mouth opens slightly to speak, but is interrupted by a shout of jubilation from within the room.)
(Rei steps back back involutarily as the child slips past Maya and impacts on Rei, his small arms wrapped around her waist, his cheek against her hip. The slightest turning up at the corners of her mouth can be seen as Rei lowers her arms to the boy's shoulders, clasping him to her gently.)
Maya: I think..
Maya: (smiling) Do you two need a lift to the park?
(Simultaneously, Rei and Tenkei smile back at her, the girl's hands on the boy's shoulders. Maya is reminded of an image.. and image seen once, at a distance, on the monitor of her superior, Ritsuko Akagi..
The aged, stained photograph of Gehirn's founders.
The silence draws out for a while.. until the young Lieutenant realises the hopeful look on the faces of both children before her, and her smile returns once more..)
Maya: .. I guess so. Well, come on then..
Hyuga: The four children are synchronizing.
(It is the end of another long school day, the children having been shuttled directly to NERV at the end of classes.
It is time for more synchronisation tests. With the repairs to Unit 00 nearly completed, the time has come for a full synchronisation and to refresh the RAM samples of all the pilots. This test has special significance; coming near the end of Tenkei's "trial period", it is critical that a good RAM reading be obtained from the EV-N Complement. As such, the synchronisation deviates from the normal plan, with a special plug fitted with a supplimentary casing used in place of Unit 00's regular entry plug.
The unusual sitatuion is lost on the pilots; already well into synchronisation, the second, third and sixth child are being prepared for the next phase of tests. Maya Ibuki, the Project-E chairperson, is nervously blotting her hands on her laboratory coat as she asks her question for the second time in as many minutes.)
Maya: ..Is the complement active yet?
Yuri: Negative. The technicians are still connecting his nerve link band with that of the first child.
(Maya looks up at the images on the screen - the faces of the four children; Rei, Asuka, Shinji and Lyn. Tenkei's face appears in the bottom corner of Rei's portrait - the child is looking around, his eyes sad.)
Maya: (thinking) Let's try it again..
Misato: I heard that the commanders were very interested in this test, Maya.
Misato: I don't suppose you could explain why?
Maya: ..This is probably the last chance that the Ev.N complement has to prove itself.
Misato: The last chance?
Misato: And if it fails?
Maya: I don't know what will happen to it.
Maya: (thinking) And now I'm lying to the people around me.
Yuri: Synch ratios have stabilized.
Misato: How are they?
Hyuga: The first child's ratio is stable.. slightly less than normal, but that's just the cycle. Shinji is within point-seven percent of the last test.. Asuka isn't showing any of the degeneration trend she had before... She might be back up to her peak in a few more sessions.
Yuri: The sixth child is still improving - up a further two points, and stable. (turns to Maya) We might want to use this to get a better RAM reading for Unit Two, while we can.
Maya: Yes. (into radio) Lyn? You can return. We're going to get a RAM sample - report to Unit Two, in the seventh cage. (to Yuri) Yuri? You can take care of the RAM sample.
Yuri: Yes ma'm.
(Yuri gets up and leaves the room. On the screen, Lyn's image is absent, the audio and visual connections having disengaged as soon his plug was de-activated. Maya takes Yuri's seat, her old place at the console, and looks across the readouts.)
Maya: Prepare Magi Caspar to record the following readings from plug zero.
Hyuga: (nodding) Yes ma'm.
Misato: You're going to use the complement?
Maya: We have to get a reading, sooner or later..
Hyuga: Caspar is recieving. All data is moving directly into the Ev.N experimental directory.
Maya: (to radio) Pilot Ayanami? We are about to link the Ev.N into your system.
Rei: (radio) Yes.
Maya: Tenkei? Do you understand?
(Tenkei's voice is soft over the communicator.)
Maya: (to herself) Right. (to Hyuga) Link him in. First stage.
(Hyuga's hands flicker across the controls on his console - readings begin to shift on Rei's graphs.)
Hyuga: First stage achieved. All level one links established.
Maya: I'm initiating the second stage.
(The Lieutenant repeats procedures long since ingrained in her memory.)
Hyuga: Second stage completed. Feedback minimal. No change in synch ratio.
Misato: No improvement..
Maya: But no problems, either. Begin the third stage..
Hyuga: Third stage. Final connections completed.. Activating internal circuit.
Maya: Any feedback?
Hyuga: None. Rei's graph is showing both signals.
Maya: And still.. no improvement.
(The disappointment in her voice is tinged with bitterness - the realization of failure.)
(Rei sits in the test-plug, her eyes closed. The girl's hands rest on the useless controls, more out of habit than choice, as she feels an intrusion.)
(Suddenly, in the depths of her mind, she hears a voice - a cry.)
(The cry becomes a shout of recognition, and sound that grows in power and joy.)
Rei: (over radio) Tenkei!
Hyuga: Rei's signal is changing! The graph is shifting!
Maya: He's right! The two signals are assimilating each other!
Misato: You mean they're syncrhonizing?
Maya: Not exactly-
Hyuga: (interrupting) Plug Zero's ratio has jumped fifteen points!
Maya: Here we go..
Hyuga: Twenty! Twenty five!
Misato: It's working?
Maya: Not if it's like last time..
Hyuga: She's breached one-hundred and twenty percent! One-fifty!
Misato: What's that?
(They listen as a gasp bursts across the radio, followed by a shuddering breath.)
Hyuga: Synch raitio is two hundred and climbing!
(Then the sound becomes a scream.)
Rei: (radio) Tenkei!
(The howl of pain is only broken by pained gasps to fill exhausted lungs as the complement screams. The sound of the boy striking the walls of the plug in agony begins, a thrashing staccato of low thumps.)
Maya: (frantic) Cut the third stage! Get them out of there!
(Instantly Hyuga breaks the circuit that binds the unseen child to the neural interface.)
Hyuga: Third stage is disconnected! Graphs returning to normal!
(The sound of the child's yells drops to moans and the futile banging of his fists against the plug slows..)
Maya: (to radio) Rei, Tenkei - we're getting both of you out of there. (To Hyuga) Stop Caspar's recording. We've got enough.
Maya: (thinking) Please, please, for the love of God, can it buy them just a little more time?
Hyuga: Rescue teams are on their way to Unit 00's plug now.. what do you want recorded in the log headers, ma'am?
Maya: (slowly) Log the experiment..
Maya: Let the logs show the experiment was a success.
Maya: (thinking) Another failure, shrouded in a lie.
Maya: (thinking) Please, just a little more time..
(Rei Ayanami frantically struggles with the seals and handles at the rear of the plug, the sound of Tenkei weakly beating the secondary casing driving her on.
Finally, the safety catches released, Rei wrestles with the last mechanism. With the groan of metal, the casing seal breaks. Rei feels a wash of cooler fluid as the substances in Tenkei's compartment flows into the main plug.)
(A small figure almost falls into Rei's arms. Tenkei's mouth contorts as he cries in remembered agony. Rei clutches at the boy as he buries his face in the material of her plugsuit.)
Tenkei: (crying) Fee alam, fee alam! La taja'lnee arja' hunak!
Rei: (softly) Tenkei..
Tenkei: (crying) Minfazlukee la tukhaleehum yahitooni hunak, Rei!
(Rei slips back down the plug as the child sobs out his pain, his hands almost clawing at the girl's back.)
Tenkei: (crying) La taqudareen an tuyaqifhum, omee..
Rei: (softly) I won't let them..
Tenkei: (barely audible) Hurts, hurts, hurts, hurts..
Rei: I won't let them hurt you..
Tenkei: (shouting) IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS!!!
Rei: They won't hurt you anymore..
(The boy falls silent, his breathing ragged and deep, broken by an occasional sob of pain. The girl continues to croon comforting words, almost rocking the child in her arms. As she holds Tenkei, Rei feels the plug be drawn up from the test chamber. A moment later, the LCL level within the compartment begins to drop as the fluid is replaced with air.)
Rei: They're not going to hurt you..
(The boy raises his read. Any tears he had shed were lost in the LCL, but his expression is tormented.)
Tenkei: They will, they will..
Rei: They won't..
Tenkei: (shouting) YOU CAN'T STOP THEM MAMA!
(Rei is jolted by the boy's scream, and pulls back for a moment, holding Tenkei at arms reach.)
Tenkei: (barely audible) You can't..
(Rei's heart twists with shared pain as she realizes the truth of Tenkei's statement. The LCL level sinks, flowing down past their faces, forcing the two children to eject the yellow fluid from their lungs. Rei doubles over as she heaves out the liquid away from Tenkei, and taking in a rasping breath of air.)
Rei: (thinking) I can't stop him from hurting Tenkei..
Rei: (thinking) He'll keep on hurting him..
Rei: (thinking) I can't stop him!
Rei: (thinking) Unless..
(Rei stares at the boy, locking her crimson eyes onto his gold ones as the LCL drains into the lowest recesses of the plug.)
Rei: No. I will not let him hurt you anymore.
Rei: I promise.
(Tenkei looks up at the girl, his expression of hopelessness slowly replacing itself with something else, something new..
..as he finds his last shred of hope in Rei.)
(Any words he might say are silenced by the sound of the entry plug opening. Blinding light pours into the compartment, glinting off the yellow sheen of LCL still clinging to the interior of the plug. Rei unconsciously shields Tenkei from the light with her body.)
Voice: Pilot Ayanami?
(Rei, her pale blue hair plastered to her fair with LCL, stares up at the source of the sound with eyes the colour of blood.)
Hyuga: Both Rei and the Complement have been retrieved. There appears to be no physical damage.
Maya: Send them straight to the infirmary. I want to be completely sure.
(As Hyuga gives the order over the radio, Misato speaks.)
Misato: How much.. did the other pilots hear?
Maya: Um..(checks the data logs) They were not linked into the Zero's audio circuit.
Misato: Thank God.
Yuri: (over radio) Lieutenant? I'm about to commence recording the RAM update for the sixth child.
Maya: (to radio) Alright.. backup the readings onto Melchior -
Hyuga: (interrupting) Lieutenant?
Maya: (closing eyes) Yeah?
Hyuga: It's Commander Ikari.. he wants a full report..
Maya: This most recent incident has conclusively proven that the Complement is capable of assisting synchronization outside of a combat situation. However, this appears to have a detrimental effect upon the unit.
Maya: I haven't been able to assess the extent of any damage done to the Complement, but simply basing my judgement on the audio pickup -
Gendo: (interrupting) I recieved the preliminary medical report just before you arrived. I have only had a brief chance to peruse it, but.. (opens the folder and looks through) .."No physical damage of any kind resulting from the contact."
Maya: ..No physical damage, no, but of course that is just a preliminary report. With an in-depth analysis more problems could result.. and of course, there are other, less tangible factors to consider -
Gendo: (interrupting) It works. If there is a cost upon the unit for proper use, then we must compensate for this.
Fuyutsuki: Do you have any suggestions as to ease the toll of the Complement's use?
Maya: ..No sir.
Gendo: Then we must accept the cost to the unit, and seek ways to minimise the impact of losing a unit in it's use.
(Maya cannot hide her shock.)
Maya: You mean.. make spares?
Gendo: Do you have an objection?
Maya: ..No sir.. but.. we need the materials! There are only certain genomes that are viable, and there are other factors..
Gendo: Selecting a controller?
Fuyutsuki: We will find a suitable candidate.
Maya: Another candidate.. Yes sir.
Gendo: Use of the pre-embryo division should provide several spares - based on the rate of the present Complement's growth, how long until such a group could be completed?
Maya: Completed? ..Um, I guess we could produce one in perhaps three months.. emotional and intellectual development is more difficult to accelerate, as you know.. But a group? How large a group? Like Rei's?
Gendo: Not so large. Limited for each candidate at a dozen.
Maya: ..The drain on materials would still be significant.. Are you sure, Sir?
(Commander Ikari simply smiles. Maya looks away, her mind turning to the other project she is responsible for..)
Maya: And the.. development of the new unit is to continue?
Fuyutsuki: Based on your last report, we would like to clarify some points..
Maya: That would be..?
Gendo: The genome - is it stable?
Maya: (nodding) Yes sir. Without a doubt - the physical similarities are unmistakable. Even cells along the divisional points exhibit the expected properties, though whether they will work as the original had..
Gendo: (interrupting) Irrelevant. We shall proceed onto the next phase. Replicate a later variant of the genome.