The following evening...
Patrick stood outside on the desert floor and watched aircraft buzz overhead in the night. Pine Gap and Alice Springs were now crowded with soldiers, airplanes, and all sorts of war-making equipment. The nearby runways were lined up and down with fighters, bombers and others. He walked over to the giant tarp that was laid out by one of the runways. Patrick passed the armed sentries (who let him through with only a cursory glance), ducked underneath the tarp and saw the silver-white Unit 04, his own EVA, lying face up on the ground.
The boy walked along the length of the EVA, occasionally letting his hand slide across the surface of its legs. As he walked alongside Unit 04 he could feel the warmth of the Evangelion. The EVA hadn't had that sensation before. Up until now the EVA had felt cold, like a statue that came to life for bits at a time. Now with the S2 installed the surface of the EVA was warm and radiating and it felt to Patrick to even be slightly quivering. It was as if now she was truly alive.
I'll still be here for you, she had said to him. As he slowly caressed his comparatively tiny hand in a crevice of the EVA's left hand he wondered if she could feel him there, if she knew his presence. If he were suddenly put in danger, would she react? He squeezed the hand a little and felt, just so subtly, a pulsing where his hand was. Patrick stood there for a moment, thinking she did know. How could she not?
The pilot kept walking and noticed standing outside the tarp was Dr. Foch, dressed as always in his white lab coat. Foch wasn't doing anything but just staring at the nighttime sky. Patrick left the EVA and walked over to join him.
Foch turned his head when he noticed the boy standing next to him. “Oh, you're up and about?”
“Yeah, I wanted to see my EVA.”
“She's all right,” Foch replied. Patrick nodded in agreement and smiled a little to himself. They both went back to watching the skies.
After a few minutes, Patrick said “I don't recognize anything up there.”
“That's because we're in the Southern Hemisphere. The constellations are completely different here. If you see there a bit to the left, low in the sky,” Foch pointed it out. “There is the Southern Cross.”
“Oh. It's not very large...”
“But it's bright. Right above it is Centauri, and you can see Alpha Centauri low and to the left of the constellation.”
“I see it.”
“Yes. That's our closest neighbor, Alpha Centauri is. You wouldn't know it by just looking at it, would you?”
“That's true...” They were both silent again for a few more moments.
Foch took off his glasses and rubbed them. “When I was a young doctor in the French military, I was once stationed in New Caledonia. It was an island just northeast of Australia. It's not there anymore – the ocean swallowed it during Second Impact, but I remember when I was there every night I'd go out of my bungalow and look up at the sky and I'd wonder if they have all of the same problems up there we do down here.” Patrick just looked at the old scientist as he cleaned his glasses and put them back on again. Foch didn't look back at him but continued on.
“I put fifteen years of my life into EVA, trying to claw my way to the top of the ladder of scientific prowess. Eventually I found my way to Second Branch and your father. Let's just say it wasn't a happy relationship.” Patrick laughed a little to himself on hearing that. “But we needed each other if his plan to one-up the Japanese was to succeed. Finally he found himself at the head of Second Branch and having no further use for me I was promptly put on a one-way plane trip to the East Coast.”
Dr Foch folded his hands behind his back as he scanned the skies. “After being so unceremoniously booted out, I thought my entire world had come to an end. All my important efforts on this project and there I was suddenly without work, tossed aside like so much garbage. I felt quite horrible, so horrible that I momentarily considered opening the airplane door and flinging myself outside.” The scientist took a deep breath. “And then when I got out of the plane and saw the television with the reports of the disaster in Nevada, I knew that at that moment I was the luckiest man alive!”
“On that day I suddenly had a new perspective on life, thanks to you I should say,” Foch turned to Patrick and smiled. “If it hadn't been for what you did I wouldn't be part of this, perhaps better endeavor.”
Patrick didn't smile back but looked down on the ground, digging at the dirt with this shoes. “I don't really feel good about what happened.”
“That's to be expected, I'm sure,” Foch told him. “And it is true that it's a tragedy for many, but your father had no business screwing around with something he didn't comprehend. He was a second-rate scientist and a first-rate hacker, I always told him. He of all people should have understood the lengths the EVA would go to defend the pilot inside of her.”
Foch looked back at the stars again. “Not long from now if things don't go right, there may not be anyone left on Earth to appreciate what we're seeing now.” Foch put his hands in his pockets and started to walk back to the EVA. Turning again to Patrick, he said “I could certainly understand that you wouldn't want to be anyone's pawn, but I think now you've got the freedom to choose just what you want to be. That is, if you know what it is that you want.” Foch then continued to walk to the tarp-covered EVA.
Patrick watched Foch walk back and crawl underneath the tarp, and then turned his attention again to the nighttime sky. If you know what it is that you want. Well, Patrick thought, I do know, don't I?
On one level he admitted to himself he was very weary of the burden that EVA had given him. His complete understanding of he was doing, who and what he was struggling for, had been destroyed when his father admitted it was he who had set up Vance and the Alliance for disaster. Patrick had been spared but only to complete his part in concluding his father's gotterdammerung. Finally at that moment Patrick had found his strength and with thoughts of Rei Ayanami in his head he called on the complete power of the EVA. EVA had come through, but at a horrible price.
Unfortunately now Rei was also dead. Somehow he couldn't get his mind wrapped around that, even though he had seen the video of EVA-00 self-destructing. Not her of all people, he had hoped. There was something special about her, something untouchable. Surely this was all some sort of joke and he knew he'd show up at Tokyo-3 and see her sitting in someplace quiet with her nose in a book.
That's not going to happen, he told himself.
She had died protecting Shinji. Rei, who Patrick's father had told him was herself cloned from Shinji's mother, had gave herself up for the other pilot. Patrick thought that Shinji, as soft-spoken and gentle as he was, could not have taken Rei's death well at all Now Shinji was all alone and God knows what was coming next.
Patrick thought about Vance. Double-V, you asshole! Why didn't you freaking tell me what you were up to? He knew the answer to that already: as Vance had told him earlier Patrick's value was that he was the secret pilot, the fail-safe to everything. It was the reason why his mother had placed him with his uncle and they lived so remotely, and why his childhood had been so hard, so that he'd be there when he was really needed. I guess I'm really needed now.
I wished there be a way I could go back in time and stop everything from happening at Tokyo-3, but it's too late for that now.
Vance didn't go to Tokyo-3 to kill Rei. She just followed orders and got in the way. He had really gone to stop Third Impact. And just like Rei, he also sacrificed himself for who he was protecting.
Now Shinji's all by himself. Sheffield said there might be as many as nine other EVAs, all against one. There's no way I can let him face that alone, with or without the Alliance.
Vance died trying to stop Third Impact. Rei died trying to protect Shinji. This time, protecting Shinji and stopping Third Impact are actually the same thing. The pieces are falling into place...
I guess it's my turn now, because somewhere my twin Erin is still out there and I want her to still have the chance to look up at the stars at night.
Mari's mission seemed simple enough. Upon confirming that she indeed did know how to use a parachute (having done it several times before), Musashi provided her with information on the Fourth Child as well as his friends and family. Her mission was to make contact with Toji Suzahara, working through a third party who would be one of his closest friends. Mary was seen as a good candidate for the mission by both Musashi and General Sheffield, as it was thought she would be unknown and unsuspected to any one putting Suzahara or his family under surveillance.
Once she made contact with the boy Mari was to confirm his location and then arrange for a pickup by Alliance special operations units waiting offshore. Hopefully after explaining that his and his family's life were in danger, Suzahara would go willingly.
When Mari asked Musashi why he was so concerned about a former pilot, he replied that SEELE would work to clean up any “loose ends” which meant that it was likely that they would try to kill Suzahara in the same way they had tried to kill her. Toji's case was tragic to be sure, nearly killed as his EVA was “possessed' by the 13th Angel. Musashi had told Mari that if anything else had happened to him as a result of his short but horrible tenure as a pilot, he couldn't forgive himself for allowing it. This deep concern indicated to Mari that Musashi knew the Japanese pilots first-hand, and perhaps quite well. Given that she owed her own life to his timely intervention, Mari agreed to the mission provided she could join the battle in her own EVA once it started. Musashi then told her it was already arranged.
Early that morning while the skies were still dark, Mari Illustrious dove out of a MC-130 transport ten thousand feet above Nagano prefecture in the Japanese Alps. Nagano was now home to Tokyo-2, the rebuilt national capital of Japan itself. She loved the thrill of skydiving, first having done it when she was twelve, and kept her parachute closed nearly all the way to safety altitude. Once she landed in a nearby school athletic field, Mari quickly gathered her black vinyl parachute and jump suit, placed then in another black vinyl bag and then threw them in a garbage can next to the field. She then hurried off the field and into the city itself.
Underneath her jump suit Mari had worn her St. James' school uniform: white collared shirt with tie and school crest, burgundy and black plaid skirt, and black stockings and loafers. Because it was Japan, she had thought the school uniform might actually help her blend in a bit better, enough at a quick glance to pass for a local.
Musashi's information had led Mary to Suzahara-kun's classmate, who was unknowingly tracked through his mobile phone (and how he did that Musashi didn't care to explain to her). Somehow it was known that the friend would be on a train from Tokyo-2 to Osaka-2 that morning. Mari was to find him at the main Tokyo-2 station and make contact with the boy, hopefully being led to Suzahara later that day.
Kensuke Aida stood at the platform waiting for the white shinkansen, or bullet-train, to arrive. He had texted to Toji earlier that week that once settled down more in his new apartment in Tokyo-2, he could come out to see him again in Osaka-2. This time Hikari and her family would also be there, so it would be a reunion of sorts.
Wanting to be in Osaka-2 by late morning Aida had chosen an early train from Tokyo-2. The platform wasn't very crowded, as it was late December and many offices were closed for winter holidays. Kensuke just stood there and waited for the train, using the time to set up his DV camera for what would hopefully be some interesting scenery from the windows.
Aida-kun's father was a senior officer in NERV security and specifically the mobile defense units that used to guard Tokyo-3. Some days earlier he had been suddenly laid off from NERV, along with nearly all of the personnel from his unit. This had prompted the hasty move to Tokyo-2 by the Aidas, made hastier by the destruction of the city center by EVA-00's implosion. Kensuke, who already didn't get along with his father very well, hated the move. If the rumors were true that the JSSDF was actually going to assault NERV in the next few days, Kensuke wanted to be there and see the battle in all of its glory. Unfortunately he had to comply with his father's wishes and had thrown all of this cameras, computers and media into shipping boxes and packed off to Tokyo-2.
Once in the capital his father had gotten a message from an old Japanese SDF comrade and immediately left the new apartment without even unpacking. He gave Kensuke an envelope with a large amount of cash and a note telling him not to “do anything stupid” which the boy interpreted as trying to go back to Tokyo-3 and watch the battle. As he couldn't find transport back to Tokyo-3 anyway, Kensuke had decided to hang out with the recovering Toji.
Kensuke finished preparing his new video card and used the camera to scan around the train platform. He panned around looking for anyone interesting to catch on video and noticed a pretty girl with glasses wearing a school uniform walking down the escalator and looking around for someone. He focused on her a bit, moving the camera upwards on the girl from her shapely long legs to her pretty, pale face with dazzling blue eyes and her brown hair in twin tails.
Wow! She's pretty cute! Nice legs and everything. She's got blue eyes - Is she gaijin?
Kensuke kept the camera on her and noticed that the girl was now looking directly at him. Normally when girls caught him filming they tended to get pretty angry, but this girl just looked at him and smiled.
She's checking me out! Kensuke continued to film her with the camera as she walked towards him and in a few seconds she had in fact moved right up to him, smiling all the way. Once she was standing next him Kensuke pulled the camera down and stared at the tall beauty, desperately trying to think of a pickup line that would actually work.
“Excuse Me?” she asked him in perfect Japanese with a sweet smile. “Is your name Kensuke Aida?”
Kensuke just melted. She even knows my name! “Um...why, yes. Yes it is!”
“Terrific. My name's Mari...Mari Makinami.”
“Mari? Are you a foreigner?”
So much for passing myself as a local, Mari thought. “Quite. I'm part-British. Anyway, I'm trying to do a favor for a mutual friend and I'm looking for someone you might know who lives in Osaka-2. His name is Toji Suzahara. Do you happen to know him?”
Oh, damn. Toji gets all the girls. “Uh...yes. In fact I'm going to see him now. A mutual friend?”
Mari told him the name Musashi gave her to use and Kensuke seemed to know it. “Oh. Come to think of it I haven't seen him around for a while!”
“Yes. In any case he was quite concerned for Suzahara-kun and wanted me to check up on him. Would it be possible if I could meet him?”
“Sure. I'm sure he's always up to meet someone so...charming.” Mari smiled wider at that. “Thanks,” she said. “You don't know how relieved I am to find you!” They both saw the train coming at the platform and as soon as it stopped they walked on board, finding seats in the coach section. Kensuke had a ticket but Mari needed to purchase it from the vending machine inside the train itself. Upon finding seats they continued their conversation.
“How did you find me, anyway?” Kensuke asked her curiously.
“It's sort of a coincidence, really. I knew that your friend now lived in Osaka-2 so I had planned on taking the train there this morning, but I had your name and description so when I saw you on the platform I was quite happy to run into you.” While talking Mari was careful to scrunch up her skirt and cross her long legs, affording the boy sitting next to her a very good view. “I terribly hope you don't mind me troubling you with this?”
Kensuke had to struggle to keep his focus off her legs as she gently ran her hands down to her knees. “Oh, no! Not at all! But how is it that you know...”
Mari looked at him and smirked, whispering “Let's just say I know why they call him the Fourth Child.”
Kensuke took a deep breath as his eyes went wide. She knows about EVA!!!He looked around and tried to see if anyone was listening in on their conversation, but the bullet train interior was mostly empty. They both spoke in hushed tones. “If you know about that then you have to know what happened to Suzahara-kun.”
“Yes, I know it's tragic. I hope that he's recovering well.”
“He gets around now, so I guess he's better. Too bad he never actually got into a real fight.”
The girl calculated that she firmly had Kensuke on the hook, and thought to herself that she rather liked this spy business. “Have you actually seen them, you know, in action?”
Kensuke excitedly looked around again to make sure no one was listening. “Yeah, I...” He thought to start with his first-hand accounts of EVA but something just occurred to him. Why should Toji get all the fun?
“Actually,” Kensuke looked around again and then straightened his eye glasses, giving Mari a very serious look. “I've seen some action myself.”
Mary whispered back to him “Really? Do tell!”
Kensuke cleared his throat and then looked at Mari with absolute sternness. “I've been involved in several Angel battles. It's a deadly business, but we always manage to pull it together.”
“Fascinating! Do you have your own...”
“I do. Originally my unit was the fourth one.”
“Yes, but something happened to it. So I volunteered for a new unit and they gave me the next one, Unit 05.” Upon hearing that Mary had to really work to suppress giggling, but with a wide smile on her face she continued leading him on. “And then...”
On the ride to Osaka-2 Kensuke spent the next two hours spinning to Mari an outrageous tale of how he, along with the other EVA pilots, had heroically defended Earth against the Angels and how he was currently on extended leave as his unit was being repaired from extensive battle damage. Given as he had actually been inside of an EVA plug and had witnessed two battles himself as a spectator, he was able to provide a significant amount of detail enough to where anyone else would have been convinced of his participation. Anyone except an actual EVA pilot, of course.
Go to Chapter Eleven