fanfic_mausoleum_n_grill: (NGE)
fanfic_mausoleum_n_grill ([personal profile] fanfic_mausoleum_n_grill) wrote2009-10-04 08:18 pm

Evangelion: Redemption (5 of 19) Part 2 of 2


(The door slides open, revealing an unusual figure. She wears a baggy orange-and-black plugsuit and a dark expression.

Aoi Tamashii is not impressed.)

Maya: Ready?

(The seventh child steps out of the locker room and into the corridor, her movements made awkward by the unsealed plug suit.)

Aoi: Do I really have to wear this?

Maya: It's standard. All the children do.

Aoi: Can't I.. can I get this fitted? To fit me? It's about five sizes too big!

Maya: Just press the button on your left wrist.

(The girl awkwardly raises her left had to her face. Gripping the thick wrist band she finds the button and depresses it. The vacuum seal contracts the black-and-orange suit around her body's contours - she straightens with a slightly alarmed expression.)

Aoi: Well that was surprising..

Maya: But better?

Aoi: (takes an experimental step) Definitely.

Aoi: (looks down herself) But not very flattering..

(Maya leads the seventh child to the test chamber, where four entry plugs rest, side by side, and angled slightly. The lower end of each plug is half-inserted into a canal in the wall. Two more canals are visible, but no plugs fill them.)

Aoi: What's this?

Maya: This is where you'll be doing your synchronization tests. Usually the pilots come here at least once a week.

Aoi: Synchronization? That means..

Maya: It's a ratio of how much you and an Eva can operate together.

Aoi: ..

(The girl approaches one of the empty canals. Since no plug blocks the view, the girl can peer down the tunnel into the next chamber, where a sea of purple fluid is visible.)

Aoi: What's down there?

Maya: You're looking at the test fluid. It's an LCL derivative.

Aoi: LCL? That.. breathing stuff.. you talked about?

Maya: Yes. We haven't installed your test plug here yet, so you'll have to use one of the other children's plugs today.


(Asuka carefully pulls her red hair free of the neck of her plugsuit and presses the seal tab. As her suit tightens around her frame, her thoughts turn to something that has hung on the edge of her mind since she arrived at NERV this morning.)

Asuka: (thinking) Why isn't Wondergirl here?

(The second child closes her locker and looks about the otherwise empty locker room.)

Asuka: (thinking) I didn't see Lyn, either..

Asuka: (thinking) What are we going to do today?

(She frowns and balls her fists, trying to work the stiffness out of the tight-fitting gloves. The lack of other pilot presence only briefly troubles her.)

Asuka: (thinking) Shinji and I have the highest synch ratios..

Asuka: (thinking) Maybe that's it..

(But something else is wrong.)

Asuka: ..?

(Something much nearer - something more immediate. Asuka looks around, her eyes running over the surfaces of the locker room, until she finally sees the stencilled plate on her locker.)


(Frowning slightly, she turns from her locker and looks around. The others in the room are unstencilled, belonging to no one - except for Rei's.)


(And, she suddenly realises, one more!)


(Asuka stares at the additional locker..)

Asuka: (disbelief) What?


Hyuga: The second and third children are entering the decontamination rooms - they'll be ready for the tests in a few minutes.

(Misato Katsuragi doesn't look away from the display screen, on which a single entry plug can be seen suspended on the slope above the test fluid. The readout comes from the synchronization test chamber, even as, far away in the Pribnow box, the simulation bodies are being prepared for the second and third children.

The door hisses open and Maya enters. The Lieutenant's brown eyes immediately fix on the lone plug on the viewscreen - the plug that contains the latest pilot.)

Misato: She's ready.

Hyuga: And the simulatory test is still a few minutes from beginning.

Maya: Then we might as well start Aoi's test, while we have the time. (to intercom) Yuri? Patch us into the fourth plug's communication circuit.


Misato: (from radio) Okay Aoi, are you ready?

(The girl's hands clasp and unclasp the control handles nervously. She knows the butterfly handles are useless, a reassurance as it were - but her hands still tighten on the grips as she struggles to blot nervous perspiration.)

Aoi: Just let out all my air and take in a deep breath?

Maya: (radio) That's right. We're flooding the entry plug now..

(The seventh child looks nervously at the sluices of the entry plug - LCL has begun to flow in, pooling in the bottom recesses of the large cylinder. With uncomfortable speed, the level of the yellow fluid rises up towards the pilot.)

Misato: (radio) Don't worry, Aoi, it becomes natural in just a few seconds. You won't even notice it after the first few breaths.

Aoi: (sarcastic, slightly frantic) That's very comforting, I'll remember that when -

(Her sentence is rendered down to an unitelligable garble of bubbles as the LCL level passes over her head. Blinking uncomfortably, the girl concentrates on remaining calm and trying to peer through the yellow sludge. Her tutor's voices ring eerily clearly through the murky yellow dimness..)

Misato: (radio) Just let it all out.

Aoi: (thinking) Easy for you to say.. has Misato even tried this?

(Steeling herself, she lets the air flow out of her lungs - a string of yellow bubbles bursts upwards, 'pooling' at the uppermost point of the back of the plug, where they are drawn out of the compartment by the final vent system.

With a convulsive movement, she sucks in a lungful of LCL, the liquid causing an uncomfortable tightness in her chest. Her body instinctively tries to gag on the fluid, but she forces herself to hold the mixture in. Another breath, and the tension in her lungs eases.

A few seconds later, the girl is breathing normally.)

Aoi: ..

Misato: (radio) You alright, Aoi?

Aoi: (frowning) ..gublb.. I'm okay.. this stuff tastes funny..


Misato: How is she?

Maya: Synch is very low with the simulation program; only fifteen percent. But given that she hasn't had any training, that's acceptable. It'll be quite a while before I'd want to put her in a combat situation..

Misato: (grimly) Tell me about it.. what's the plug depth?

Maya: One point five. Hardly deep enough for a reading. Her harmonics aren't good enough yet to hope for anything more.

(The test proceeds in silence until Hyuga reports the progress.)

Hyuga: Caspar has recorded the seventh child's RAM.

Maya: She's shown point zero three percent improvement since the start of the test.. she might stabilize an entire point zero five percent above her initial reading.

Misato: (slightly sarcastic) Great.

Maya: ..

Misato: (pausing) Sorry, it just doesn't seem that.. great..

Maya: Well.. she's new. Rei took seven months - if you measure in comparison to Rei's initial scores, she's a prodigy. We'll work with it. (to communicator) Yuri? Keep taking readings - the Major and I are heading over to the Pribnow box to handle the simulation bodies.

Yuri: (from communicator) Yes Ma'm.


(Only two simulation bodies are present in the pribnow box; the other test bodies have been lost to deterioration. The massive shapes are much like Evas, elongated human limbs strapped to the wall of the chamber.

These Evas are incomplete - the growth of the creature's heads and legs have been prevented through chemical treatment and cybernetic implantation. Instead, masses of cables and tubes project upwards from the necks and shoulders of the bodies. Bastardized Evangelions, built purely to test the raw data that pours from the entry plug - from the throne of the soul.)

Misato: Sir? Why are we only testing these two pilots?

(The Major's question is directed towards the presence of NERV's second-highest authority - Commander Fuyutsuki. The grey-haired old man sit seated at one of the rear-most consoles were he oversees the data from the experiment.

Still a scientist at heart, Fuyutsuki takes a moment to raise his eyes from the readout.)

Fuyutsuki: Commander Ikari's orders. I would assume it relates to the Contact.

(Misato nods, understanding what the Commander refers to. The 'Contact', an incident in a recent battle, when Units 01 and 02 breifly combined their AT fields. For a terrifying moment the pilots were subjected to third-stage mental contamination, where the basic building blocks of the psyche form what is called the human mind.

Niether pilot has revealed exactly what they experienced in that moment - if they even remember. Misato, however, does. She was, after all, at ground zero.)

-(flashback)- The AT field swells, the white light pouring from it's radiance growing even more brilliant, then bursts forward, a giant wall of incandesance that washes outwards from the two Evangelions in the core of the blast. But it is not a blast - the wave of light disturbs not one stone or leaf; rather, all it touches is imbued with it's white fire, glowing briefly as if touched by the hand of God.

Maya: Unlike the Evas, the test bodies have no personal imprints. They haven't been active long enough to develop them from pilot linkage.

Fuyutsuki: And so, through using the simulation bodies instead of the Evas, we may be able to aquire a more 'pure' recording of the pilots' readings - to see if everything is where it should be.

Misato: ..

Misato: (thinking) You still want to know what they saw, don't you?

Misato: (thinking) They can pretend that this is some kind of check-up, but ..

Maya: Inserting the entry plugs.

(Misato nods, pulling away from her thoughts of suspicion as she glances out the metre-thick plexiglass that separates the chamber from the Pribnow box. The entry plugs slide into the simulation bodies and the procedure begins.)

Maya: Flood the plugs.

Hyuga: Plugs are flooded. Begining activation, power levels at forty percent.

Maya: (to Fuyutsuki) Commander? Is the data coming through?

Fuyutsuki: So far.

Hyuga: All connections in place, no abnormalities detected.

Maya: (to Misato) The simulation bodies are activated.

Fuyutsuki: Run the data through Balthazar - archive the information.

Hyuga: We've reached optimal data input - we can begin the transfer to to the test type.

Fuyutsuki: Begin with the standard transfer; send the pilot's signals to their designated Evas. If there are no problems, we'll commence transfer of data to the test type in the Adytum.

Maya: Yes sir.

Misato: (to Fuyutsuki) Sir? The test type?

Fuyutsuki: Another pet project of Commander Ikari's. We'll need it to complete the readings.

Hyuga: (from console) Transfering signal to Unit One.

Maya: Transmit Unit Two's signal.

Hyuga: Transferring signal to Unit Two. Opening circuits.

Misato: (to Fuyutsuki) A pet project, Sir? Could you clarify just what that means?

Fuyutsuki: Another Eva.

Misato: (surprised) Another Eva? Another? Sir, why wasn't I informed?

Fuyutsuki: (small smile) I can only apologise that we don't send out staff newsletters displaying Eva construction time tables..

Misato: ..

Fuyutsuki: You didn't really need to know, Major. After all, it was a miracle that Unit 6 was successfuly activated; why inform personel about what may be merely a 'flash in the pan'?

Misato: I see.

Fuyutsuki: The outcome of these tests will most probably decide the Unit's fate.

Hyuga: (from console) Sir? The circuits are open.

Misato: (into radio) Shinji? We're about to patch your signal into Unit One.

(As she speaks, a countdown appears on the screen - the reading is 20 seconds.)

Misato: When the counter reaches zero, unfold your AT field.

Shinji: (radio) Right.

Maya: Patch his signal through.

Hyuga: Affirmative.

(As the flow of data from Shinji's test plug is diverted through the simulation body and channelled into Unit 01, half a mile away in the storage cage, the countdown begins.)

Hyuga: AT field will generate in fifteen seconds.

Maya: Unit One is recieving data flow. All nerve connections normal.

Hyuga: Field will generate in nine.


(Unit 01's eyes flares up slightly as power and data flow into it. As the distant pilot bends his will, the Evangelion's AT field slowly appears - a shimmering wall that flickers up the giant's body like a heat wave.)

Technician: AT field generated. AT field is stable.


Maya: Confirmed. Open Unit Two's circuit and transfer the data from Asuka.

Misato: (into radio) You can stop now, Shinji.

Shinji: (radio) Okay.

Maya: (into radio) Asuka, you know the operation. When the counter hits zero, generate your AT field.


(A few minutes later, Fuyutsuki judges the standard procedures have been followed.)

Fuyutsuki: Lieutenant? Inform the Adytum crew that the Test-Type is to be prepared.

Maya: Yes sir.

(Misato steps closer to the thick plexiglass screen that separates the control room from the fluid filled chamber were the simulation bodies are suspended.)

Misato: An activation by remote contol.. It sure beats having a pilot sitting inside of what might turn out to be an enemy.

Maya: It's still not a true activation - it's impossible to obtain a synch ratio higher than ten percent without a pilot in the entry plug. And the pilots are releasing a tremendous amount of information through the plug interfaces.. it puts an enormous strain on the uplinks..

Misato: Well, as long as it's safe, it's good enough for the first time.

Hyuga: The Adytum reports that the circuits are open.

Maya: (to radio) Shinji, we're about to send your signal into.. another Eva. Tell us if anything goes wrong.

Shinji: (radio) Right.

Maya: (to Hyuga) Do it.

Hyuga: Cutting signals to Unit One.. preparing Balthazar to record all entries..

Fuyutsuki: Let's see what this thing can do..

Hyuga: Transfering Shinji's signal into the Test Type.. now!


(Far away, secured to the wall in a chamber not unlike the Evangelion cages, something stirs. A pair of eyes begin to glow fiercly as they are used for the first time by a new inhabiting awareness - the mind of Shinji Ikari.)


Hyuga: Contact has been made.

Maya: No problems.. yet. Recording Shinji's signal through the Test-Type.

Misato: (to radio) Everything alright, Shinji?

Shinji: (radio) It's okay. It feels.. different from Unit One.. but I guess that's normal.

Maya: Anything specific..?

(There is a long moment of 'dead air' as Shinji seems to ponder the question. Eventually, his answer rings out through the control room, tinged with uncertainty and a slight curious, questioning tone..)

Shinji: (radio) I feel.. like I'm tilting.. like this is leaning to one side.. or somehow.. not balanced correctly..

Misato: (reassuringly) Shinji.. what you feel is a new Eva - a test type. The interface probably needs a few tweaks.. don't worry about it, okay?

Shinji: (unsure) Uh.. if you say so, Misato.

(At this moment, Fuyutsuki looks up from the terminal he sits at - the readouts illuminate his lined face in a way that makes him appear old - far older than the note of command in his voice as he speaks.)

Fuyutsuki: Inform the pilot that he is to generate an AT Field, as according to the standard procedures.

Maya: (alarmed) Sir? I wasn't informed that -

Fuyutsuki: (interrupting) There is no danger. But without the interference of Unit One, with an Eva untarnished by use, we can take a pure reading of the pilot's AT field. Do it.

Maya: Yes sir. (into radio) Okay Shinji, when the counter reaches zero, activate your AT field.

Shinji: (radio) Okay. Fifteen seconds to AT field activation.

Misato: (thinking) I hope you know what you're doing, Commander..

(They all watch the counter tick down.)

Misato: Five seconds.

Misato: Four.


(The sensory systems in the Adytum begin taking their readings, to the satisfaction of a lone figure who stands at a viewing port high above the test type. He looks down at the giant figure, noting the thick cabling that enters the Eva under its left shoulder blade - where one of two entry plugs resides.

The twin plug slot, under the right shoulder blade, has an identical bundle of thick cabling leading into the mass of computer terminals, but the plug is inactive, with no data feeding into it.

The giant form seems to shudder as the world warps around it - within the phase space of the creatures AT field, the very laws of physics suddenly bend to the will of the distant pilot. The barrier rises in a blur, then fades to a slight haze that barely distorts the features of the Test Type.)

Gendo: Excellent.


Hyuga: AT field is active. No problems detected..

Fuyutsuki: The Adytum's readings?

Maya: Confirmed, the readings are being documented in Balthazar. (looks at Fuyutsuki) Commander, you might want to look at this..

(The aged man looks over Ibuki's shoulder for a moment.)

Fuyutsuki: Feed the data into the master terminal. (straightening) Repeat the procedure with the second child.


(Asuka settles herself back in the plug seat, gripping the control handles lightly.)

Maya: (radio) Her signal is being accepted.

Misato: (radio) Asuka - is everything okay?

Asuka: (thinking) This is weird.. It doesn't feel anything like my Unit Two..

Asuka: (thinking) This place smells..

Asuka: (thinking) Shinji.. I can smell him - almost like he's in here, with me.. no.. close by.. on.. my right?

(The pilot casts a curious glance to her right, at the featureless wall of the entry plug. One of her hands slips from the controls, almost lifting to reach for the wall, when a voice from the Pribnow box interrupts..)

Misato: (radio) Asuka?

(Asuka frowns, and simply returns her hands to the controls, where they belong.)

Asuka: Everything's ready, Misato. What do you want?

Misato: (radio) Generate an AT field when the counter runs out.

Asuka: Roger.


(Misato Katsuragi stands silently in the control room, looking out at the simulation bodies, where the two children that have become her family are tested.)

Hyuga: Asuka's AT field has been recorded through the Adytum systems, Sir. Is that it?

Fuyutsuki: Not yet.

Fuyutsuki: (thinking) The moment of truth..

Fuyutsuki: Transmit Ikari's signal into the test type again.

Hyuga: Yes sir. Cutting connections to the second child -

Fuyutsuki: (interrupting) No! Leave them engaged.

Hyuga: Sir?

Misato: But two direct signals can't be interpretted through a single Eva! Even with an indirect signal, you still recieve thought noise -

Fuyutsuki: (interrupting) I understand how the interface operates, Major. Patch in the signal from the third child and order him to unfold his AT field.

(As Misato struggles to puzzle out the Commander's intent, Fuyutsuki turns to Ibuki.)

Fuyutsuki: Lieutenant? What will happen?

Maya: If we have both signals running? Both fields? Well, they'll show up as incompatible - the system will run an automatic shutdown of all power to the Eva and will cut the circuits to the pilots.

Fuyutsuki: Then there is no danger to the children.

Maya: No Sir, there shouldn't be.

Misato: (thinking) She's acting too calm about this..

Misato: (thinking) Does Maya knows something?

Misato: (thinking) What is this new Eva?

Fuyutsuki: (to Hyuga) Then send his signal.

Hyuga: (turning to console) Yes Sir..

Misato: (thinking) He's not trying to recombine their signals, is he?

Misato: (thinking) Are they trying to repeat the contact?

Hyuga: Signal transmitting - the Adytum is recieving.

(They wait for a moment. Then Hyuga speaks again, shocked as he looks down at the console.)

Hyuga: They're.. the signals aren't rejecting each other!

Misato: What?

Hyuga: It's working - Shinji and Asuka are both synchronizing!

Maya: Are you sure that both signals are being recieved?

Hyuga: Double checking.. confirmed! Balthazar is recording..

Misato: (thinking) They planned this.. with Shinji and Asuka?

Misato: (thinking) Maya, tell me what this is..

(But even as Misato puzzles over the test, Fuyutsuki seems pleased with the results.)

Fuyutsuki: Cease the experiment - the children are finished.

Maya: Then it's time we checked on Tamashii.


(Aoi's face on the screen frowns.)

Aoi: (radio) Are you finished yet?

Yuri: Just try to concentrate.

Aoi: (radio) On what?

Yuri: (frowns) ..I'm not sure. Maybe you should ask one of the other pilots.

(Yuri finds herself as uncomfortable around the new pilot as her superior, Maya Ibuki. The phone beside the technician rings and she gladly picks it up, almost grateful for the interruption.)

Yuri: Yes?

Maya: (phone) We're done here. How is the seventh child's harmonics readings?

Yuri: Improving. We were able to squeeze another point eight out of the plug depth. I also compared her readings with the personal RAMs of the other pilots.

Maya: (phone) Have you come up with anything yet?

Yuri: Not yet. She doesn't seem to have any obvious incompatability with any of the Evas, though. It might be worth looking into.


Gendo: Hmm.

Fuyutsuki: You see it?

Gendo: This is - disturbing.

(Gendo looks down at the printout Fuyutsuki places on the Commander's desk. The focused light in the office lands upon the figures of Gendo Ikari and Vice-Commander Fuyutuski as they discuss the results of the test. Maya Ibuki stands off to one side.

The syncrhonisation tests have been completed long since; the pilots dismissed and departed for their various homes. Now all that remains is the collating of information, and, it seems, a proper understanding of the message contained within..)

Gendo: (to Maya) Lieutenant Ibuki? Your opinion?

Maya: (straightening) It appears, Sir, that once we eliminated the interference from the Evas, the AT fields of the second and third child have barely a one point two percent difference in phase and frequency.

Fuyutsuki: In effect, their personal fields are almost identical.

Maya: One point two percent is almost negligible.

Gendo: (looking at the report) Neither of the other pilots share any of the similarities exhibited by the third and second children.

Maya: No Sir. Their waveforms are completely different. (pauses) It really isn't possible.

Gendo: Do have have a theory to explain this.. kinship?

Maya: I compared the results from this test with the ones from the prior tests involving the simulation bodies. (hands over a sheet) The differences are, as you can see..

Gendo: (looking at sheet) Hmm.

Maya: Their fields have changed since the last test.

Fuyutsuki: (bluntly) Why?

Maya: (thinks for a moment) It could be merely a side effect from living together for a long period of time.. but that wouldn't explain this sudden shift. Possibly the effect may have originated from when Asuka piloted Unit One.. or it may be a result of the contact.

Gendo: Look into it. Lieutenant, you are dismissed.

(The two men wait until Maya has left the dim, expansive office before they voice their own opinions. Ibuki, if she was able to hear them, would most likely be shocked.)

Gendo: (satisfied) We were correct.

Fuyutsuki: This pushes it forwards, you realise - of course, you don't need me to tell you this.

Gendo: Then the complementation may be accomplished in a much simpler manner than we had anticipated.

Fuyutsuki: (narrowing eyes) Substitution.. even if such a thing could be acheived. I didn't actually believe you go through with it. We had always intended to use the complement.

Gendo: The results of these experiments confirm that it is possible - even preferable. (closes folder) The complement has failed us in this instance - perhaps our answer did not need to be birthed through science.

Fuyutsuki: Then the solution is almost too simple. Of course.. how could this be called simple.

Gendo: This also confirms that the test type's presence may facilitate the complementation. That, at least, follows the orignal hypothesis.

Fuyutsuki: But we musn't contaminate the Unit by use - it must remain on neutral ground.

Gendo: Yes. So another way must be found to accelerate the development.

Fuyutsuki: Another series of tests?

Gendo: It seems the limit of what we can utilize.

(Silence falls over the pair as Fuyutsuki pauses to consider the path that Ikari has embarked upon. And in that path, what step they must next take.)

Fuyutsuki: Ikari? If the Test-Type is successful, then what genome will we proceed to develop?

Gendo: If the Test-Type is successful, we will not need to proceed.

Fuyutsuki: (pausing) Allow me to rephrase myself - if the Test-Type fails to accomplish our goals, what will we do?

(Gendo appears to think.)

Gendo: If it fails.. then why continue?


(Misato Katsuragi picks at her food absently, slightly worried by the silence that hangs over the dinner table. Although both Shinji and Asuka are present, no words have been spoken.)

Misato: ..

(But unlike other times, neither child seems upset or angry - instead, both seem calm and neutral.)

Shinji: (passing pepper to Asuka) ..

Misato: ..

(And silent.. unusually silent. No amount of alcohol seems to shake the sense of unease for Misato - the two pilots before her are eerie in their movements - almost anticipating one another. The lack of conversational banter, or for that matter, outright abuse, is more than a little disturbing.)

Asuka: (sprinkling pepper onto her meal) ..

Misato: ..

(Asuka looks up suddenly from her peppering.)

Asuka: So Misato.. who's the seventh child?

Misato: (alarmed) What?

Shinji: (to Asuka) The seventh? What do you me-

Asuka: (offhandedly) Oh, just before the test today I noticed that one of the lockers had a new number on it. Seven. (to Misato) That is what we're up to, right?

Misato: Why do you have to be so pointed about it?

Asuka: (flatly) Because you haven't told us.

Shinji: This pilot.. if the locker was in the girl's locker room, that must mean she's a girl, right Misato?

Misato: (dread) Yes..

Asuka: But Misato, why do we need another pilot? We've got me for Unit Two, Shinji for Unit One, Lyn for -

Misato: You know why, Asuka. We need backups in case one of you is injured.

Shinji: Who's the seventh child? Is it for this.. test type.. you had us synchronise with today?

Misato: I'm not sure, Shinji. The pilot..

(Misato Katsuragi takes a breath, forcing the name to leap out of her mouth, as if speed might help.)

Misato: It's Aoi Tamashii.

(The two children absorb this name.)

Shinji: (shocked) Lyn..

Asuka: (outraged) Her?!

Misato: It wasn't my choice.

Asuka: ..

Shinji: Whose choice was it then?


Lyn: (disbelief) Oh no.. no way.. no no no damn way!

(His guardian, Seyoko, flinches at the harsh tone, looking down at her meal, as other shop patrons turn curiously towards the source of the sudden outburst.

It is dusk, and the pair are seated in a small resturaunt overlooking the geofront, picked for its beautiful views and apparently peaceful dining. Clearly, the financier of the outing - Seyoko herself - had made an attempt to bring her ward to a quiet spot and break the news to him over an evening meal.

From the expression on her face, the woman is no more happy about the chain of events that have led her here than the boy seated opposite.)

Seyoko: (somewhat quieter) I have no say in how they pick their personnel.

Lyn: Can't you do anything about it?

Seyoko: It wasn't my decision, Lyn.. I'm sorry..

Lyn: Major Katsuragi, then.. I'll talk to her.. (angrily) I'll sort this out..

(Seyoko's expression softens further as she tries to concentrate on the plate in front of her.)

Seyoko: I don't think they'll listen.

(The sixth child fumes, slamming two fists on the tabletop. His face is dark with rage, his expression one of contempt for the cruel irony that, of all possible people..

.. the next Evangelion pilot would be her.)

Lyn: .. this is insane. You do know there's a chance I'll be picked to ride shotgun with... with the new pilot. When she.. when.. when they put her through activation..

Seyoko: (patiently) That's why I'm telling you now. I didn't want to go through this when you're in a 50 metre tall Eva with a rifle in your hands.. perhaps with the task of guarding her on your shoulders.. or going into combat the first time..

Lyn: (muttering) Damn it.. if I was I'd wipe out this stupid town in a second.. (louder) Damn NERV.. where do they come up with this crap?

Seyoko: (thinking) I want the answer to that one myself..

(A few of the nearer patrons rise, making their way to distant seats, one departing with a frown on his face from the language in use by the young Evangelion pilot.)

Patron: (in passing) Rude boy.

Lyn: (scowling) ...!

(The boy hunches forward, placing his elbows on the table, his face in his hands, totally ignoring his half eaten meal as it slowly grows cold in its elegant plate arrangement. The tablecloth bunches up under his forearms as he slumps forward, fingers digging into his own forehead as he makes a noise of pure frustration.)

Lyn: .. and how did they ever get her to agree to this, anyway?

(Seyoko pointedly picks up her discarded knife and fork, deftly slicing another portion and chewing before she draws breath to answer.)

Seyoko: I think I'd better let her tell you that herself.

(A hand gently touches the sixth child's shoulder. The boy freezes, eyes peeking out between his fingers, as he slowly realises who has approached from behind, listening to the entire conversation. The breath freezes in his lungs, a band of cold pressure tightening across his chest as he turns in his seat, slowly, inevitably coming to face the watcher who regards him with blue eyes that shine in the soft resturaunt light with unshed tears..)

Aoi: ..

(A tear spills down her cheek as she stands, trembling slightly, before the enraged pilot. Astonished at her presence, outraged at the news he has just been delivered, at the sacrifice that now stands before him, Lyn stares up at Aoi in disbelief. Her expression of tearful vulnerability smashes into him, her stance of dejected humiliation tearing a hole in his heart, pushing down his desperate hope for a solution, rending any chance he may have had in deluding himself that this was all, somehow, a horrible nightmare. His voice comes in a harsh whisper, cutting off the girl as she begins to speak..)

Aoi: Six.. I..

Lyn: (whispering) How could they?

Aoi: Six..

Lyn: (rising from his seat) How could they?

Aoi: Lyn.. I..

Lyn: (shouting) Those sodding bastards!

(Lyn lashes out with a foot, smashing his own seat, sending the chair in pieces across the resturaunt floor. A growl rising in his throat, the boy next grabs hold of the table, overturning it in his rage and bringing the silverware and china crashing down. The plates smash on the hard floor, attracting the attention of several waiters and the manager of the establishment as Seyoko scrambles backwards, tripping over her own chair and falling hard onto her rear.)

Aoi: (reaching) Lyn, please understand..

(The sixth child is beyond hearing. Aoi's hand finds his shoulder, but he shakes it off in pure rage, pushing past her as he storms out of the store, shoving past another patron, his hands almost tearing at the door as he rushes out. Seyoko merely looks after the departed boy for a long moment, her steady gaze taking in the trail of destruction in his wake before her eyes travel to the shivering figure standing beside the overturned table.

Aoi Tamashii has not moved. She remains, motionless, silently shaking, one hand stretched out in the direction of the departing child. Tears stream down her cheeks from the rejection, the unexpected outburst, and most of all -

.. the guilt stemming from Lyn's misunderstanding.)

Aoi: (whispering) I... I volunteered.


(Later that night, long after the sixth child's outburst, Shinji morosely stamps down the main corridor of the Katsuragi apartment, passing Misato's door on the way.)

Misato: (from inside) Shinji?

Shinji: I'll be in bed in a second, Misato..

(The boy enters the kitchen, pausing momentarily when he sees the two stacked beer cans, but remembers Misato's words and doesn't disturb it.

His interest is elsewhere. Shinji reaches up the refrigerator, feeling across the top surface with one hand, searching. From the frown on his face, he has not found what he seeks and heads out into the living room.)

Shinji: (to himself) Where is it?

(He checks the floor with a quick glance. His gaze passes over the television. He reaches down between the sofa cusions, where his questing fingers locate a pencil and a crusted hankerchief that most likely has been a resident of the sofa for longer than Shinji has been a resident of Tokyo-3 - but neither is quite what he searches for.)

Shinji: (to himself) It's got to be here..

(The boy gives up his search in the living room and heads down the corridor.)

Misato: (sleepy) Shinji? What is it?

(Misato blinks at the light as she looks up at Shinji standing in the doorway.)

Shinji: Um.. Misato?

Misato: (rubbing eyes) Mmm hmm?

Shinji: Have you seen my Walkman?

Misato: (thinks) No, not recently.

Shinji: (stepping in) Well, could I just..

Misato: (sleepily) I don't think it's in here.. can't you sleep without it?

(The boy nods, briefly regretting the notion that his Walkman might have somehow hidden itself in Misato's room.)

Shinji: (leaving) Sorry..

(Shinji Ikari heads down to the next door - his own room. After a brief search - a repeat of his previous efforts - he again concludes that his Walkman is not in his own room.)

Shinji: (to himself) Where is it..

(There is only one option left: Asuka's room. Strangely, the prospect does not fill the Third Child with trepidation - if anything, as he approaches the door he begins to feel more assured, almost certain that the object of his quest lies within. Carefully he slides the panel door open, allowing some light to spill into the room.)

Shinji: ..

(Asuka is asleep on her bed, Shinji's headphones over her ears.)

Shinji: ..

(Slipping into the room silently, he slowly slides the panel closed after him. With careful steps he approaches Asuka's bedside and kneels down.)

Shinji: ..

Asuka: (sound of breathing) ..

(Shinji looks at the sleeping second child silently for a moment, just able to hear the faint sounds of the music coming from the headphones.)

Asuka: (sound of breathing) ..

Shinji: ..

Asuka: (sound of breathing) ..

Shinji: ..

Asuka: (sound of breathing) ..

(The boy reaches out, one hand reaching towards the sleeping girl's head. His fingers drift closer to the headphones.. and then he stops.)

Asuka: (sound of breathing) ..

(His hand casts a shadow over Asuka's face, a sharp contrast of the darkness against the light from the hall. Lowering his hand over her features, the line of darkness slides down, fleetingly masking the girl. Shinji raises his hand again, watching the play of shadow and light across Asuka's face.

After a moment his palm comes to rest on Asuka's own hands, curled around the walkman clutched to her chest. The girl's fingers are cool to Shinji's touch.)

Asuka: (sound of breathing) ..

(The boy lets his hand rest there for a moment, simply touching her.. almost as if he was holding her hand. Briefly he considers trying to draw the Walkman from her grasp.. and then - decides against it. Smiling slightly, he regards the sleeping pilot as words rise unbidden, almost like a memory..)

Shinji: (softly) Who else knew you were so peaceful when you sleep..

(A slight feeling - a tingling, a shiver of warmth, spreads across the hand that cover's the girl's. The sensation is fleeting - then becomes a breif stinging pain.)

Shinji: (pulling hand away) ..!

(He stares at his hand, which still tingles faintly. Remaining silent, the boy rubs his fingertips together lightly, frowning.)

Asuka: ..

(Shinji slowly reaches out again, gently resting the same hand on Asuka's. This time, there is nothing but simple, shared warmth.)

Shinji: (softly) It's alright.. you can keep it..

Asuka: ..

(The room is bathed in silence. Shinji remains there for a long moment, his fingertips tenatively running over Asuka's hands.)

Asuka: ..

(In the cool, silent darkness, the gentle contact continues..

Then Shinji is standing, and, very quietly, leaving.)

Shinji: (softly) Guten Nacht, Asuka.

Asuka: ..

(And then, the Second Child is alone in her room, the headphones still in her possession.)

Asuka: ..

(Two eyes open slowly, directing a blue gaze towards the now closed door.)

Asuka: ..

(Then they shut again.)

To Be Continued...

[Chapter 6]