In one of the GeoFront’s maintenance bays two Alliance marines were working as sentries, watching the room’s doors while their fellow marines worked on securing the bay. Both of the sentries saw a tall, muscular older Caucasian man walk in from of one of the large cargo doors. He was wearing an olive flight suit, with a bandage around his head and a pistol in his right hand. The marines pointed their rifles at the man as the leader of the two ordered “Halt!”
The man stopped, still holding the pistol but pointing it at the floor. “I’m ZEUS, son.”
The marines kept their weapons pointed at him. “Challenge word is Marriage!”
“Annulment!” Vinson responded and the marines lowered their weapons. “Sorry about that, sir,” the leader said.
“It’s quite alright. Who’s in charge here?”
“Sergeant Dewey’s our squad leader but there’s a colonel down here too!” the marine motioned to the other to run and get the colonel while Vinson looked around the bay. The room had seen a lot of the battle, with holes blasted in the wall and streaks of black smoke all around. The floor was a mess of toppled storage containers and spent rounds.
Along one side of the room one Marine armed with an assault rifle stood watch over three kneeling figures dressed in the black fatigues of JSSDF Special Forces. Each had their hands bound tightly behind them and their helmets and gear removed. The Japanese soldiers were forced to watch as two other Marines neatly laid the bodies of dead NERV personnel in front of their terrified faces. Vinson noted that nearly all of the bodies were of women in their young twenties, most of them with multiple gunshot wounds.
Vinson heard footsteps and looked up to see Colonel Burke followed by Jeff, his radioman.
“ZEUS! You’re alive! We heard you went down.”
“Damned lucky I was,” Vinson replied. “Unfortunately I can’t say that for the others with me. How do we stand?”
Burke walked the Admiral down a corridor as he reported, while Jeff followed them from a few steps behind. “Right now we own about maybe less than half of this place, but we have the control center, the hospital, the Western gate and the train sub-station. We’re also in the basement levels, including the most critical areas – and” he smiled a little when he said this “we have the NERV commander downstairs as well – alive! We’re still running into pockets of Special Forces as we go but it’s swinging our way.”
”How about the MAGI?”
“Good. Any trouble with NERV personnel?”
As the Admiral spoke they entered a larger room segment and what he saw shocked even him. The floor was laid with dozens of dead bodies, all wearing NERV uniforms. All of them appeared to be non-combat personnel. Both of the officers paused as they saw the bodies and two Alliance soldiers working to clean up.
“God Almighty! What happened here?”
APOLLO had a grave expression on his face. “Intel intercepted orders to JSSDF to eliminate all NERV personnel – no exceptions. We think these people were trying to surrender when this happened.”
Vinson slowly looked over the scene. He knew Burke had brought him here deliberately, to convey the seriousness of what had occurred during the battle.
“This is just a small sample,” Burke continued. “We’re still counting the bodies but I judge the toll is well into the thousands. They had quite a horror show going on until we showed up.” The colonel paused a bit and then said “needless to say, our guys are very motivated at this point.”
The Alliance commander took a look at the walls of the room and saw they were covered in blood and tissue splatter. At the corners of the walls Vinson saw closed-circuit video camera domes, some still having a tiny LED red light on.
“Are those cameras working?” he asked Burke, pointing to one of them.
“Probably. There’s still power to many areas here.”
“Find out where the files are stored and get them to Intel and Civil Affairs ASAP. We’re going to need this to deal with the locals.”
The two officers moved on. “Anything else?” Vinson asked the colonel.
“I have some more good news: we have the enemy Division Commander. He’s waiting in the command room.”
“Then lead the way.”
As they went through more hallways Vinson saw his own men running or patrolling through various areas. In some cases they were guarding enemy soldiers they had found, in other cases going through either dead enemy or dead NERV staff bodies. He saw only one NERV employee still alive, a young Japanese man who looked like a security guard, whose wounds were being attended to by an Alliance medic.
Down one empty hallway Burke asked Vinson quietly, “Sir, what was that thing outside? Was that one of their Angels?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “We’ll get it all sorted out.” He pointed to the armored doorway in front of them, with signs in English and Japanese that read CENTRAL DOGMA. “Is this the command center?” Burke nodded and then they both went in.
The two commanders walked onto the operations deck of Central Dogma and could see the results of the battle for control of the giant room. Of the giant video displays in front only one was still functioning, and then only with visual of the outside of the GeoFront. Other screens were damaged or destroyed and there were blast marks all around. About two squads of Alliance soldiers were spread throughout the lower decks of the room, cataloging dead bodies of three different forces while another squad was on the operations deck and command deck themselves.
Standing on the operations deck were the three NERV controllers. Aoba now had his right arm in a sling while Hyuga had a face bandage from shrapnel wounds he took during the battle. All of them stood with worried expressions on their faces.
On the right side of the deck were two Japanese military officers. One was older with a thin mustache, the other much younger. Their berets had been removed as was their gear and weapons, and they stood with their hands behind their heads. All around the captives were a half-dozen Alliance troops armed with sub-machine guns and rifles. The body of Kozou Futsuyuki still lay on the floor, a blanket covering his face.
Vinson stepped onto the deck and looked at the body on the floor. “Who’s that?”
“The Vice Commander,” Burke replied. “Killed during the battle.”
Without saying anything Vinson carefully walked around the body and studied each of the three controllers, all of whom were very nervous. He then walked over to the JSSDF commander.
“Yamashita,” Vinson said. “I knew I smelled your stench in this.”
“Admiral Vinson,” the Japanese general replied, pulling his hands down as his adjutant did the same. “You’re a surprise!” He tried to smile but Vinson just glared at him.
“What the fuck were you doing here?” Vinson demanded.
“Trying to avert a great tragedy – same as you.”
“With a massacre?”
The general’s voice was quiet and steady, almost nonchalant. “We had received credible reports that NERV was disguising their pilots as base personnel. There was also word that NERV’s commander was about to initiate Third Impact on his own, using one of this own Evangelion units. Because of the consequences to the entire world that would arise out of such an action the decision was made to ensure that NERV would be completely eliminated as a threat. As such, we took regrettable but appropriate action.”
Vinson chuckled a bit to himself. “Regrettable, huh?”
The Admiral stepped into Yamashita inches from his face. His eyes were wide with fury but he spoke in a low, guttural tone. “You’re too cowardly to make this shit your own. Who gave the order for this?”
“The order came directly from the Prime Minister, of course.”
“No. Who really gave the order? Who’s the one that’s on SEELE’s committee?”
Now the general was starting to get nervous. “Admiral Vinson,” he said with a weak smile. “Don’t tell me you’ve bought into that conspiracy theory about…”
Vinson kept his eyes fixed on the general as he brought up his pistol and put it to the forehead of the adjutant standing next to him. The adjutant trembled in fear as Vinson cocked the hammer.
“Who?” he asked the general again.
The general shifted his eyes to the younger officer and then back to Vinson. “I’ve really no idea who you’re talking about!”
Without blinking Vinson pulled the trigger. There was a loud gunshot, and blood and gray matter splattered both of their faces as the adjutant collapsed downward to the floor. Maya screamed and hid her eyes, as Aoba whispered to Hyuga “Out of the frying pan and into the fire!”
Yamashita looked downward at the younger man. “He was my son-in-law.”
Vinson shifted the pistol to the general’s forehead and screamed in Japanese. “WHAT IS HIS NAME?”
The general closed his eyes and resolved himself. Quietly he said, “Deputy Prime Minister Nakamura.” Vinson pulled his pistol away and motion for the soldiers on deck to take the prisoner, telling them “Get this cocksucker out of my sight!”
Two soldiers grabbed the general and rushed him out of the command center. Another two took the body of the now dead adjutant and carried it out as well. Vinson waited until the general was out of the room and then spoke to Burke. “When you got what you need out of him, see to it he’s shot while trying to escape.”
“Yes, sir.” Burke nodded, and then he left the room.
The controllers all shivered in fear as Vinson took a moment to plan out his next move. We need allies. These three all worked here with the commander, they have to know a lot about this place. The Admiral holstered his pistol in his shoulder harness and turned to face the three, softening his expression and speaking in simple but understandable Japanese. “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Admiral Vinson of the Alliance. How would you three like to find out what your bosses were really up to, huh?”
Prior to going down to Terminal Dogma, Vinson communicated with OLYPMUS via the satellite radio that Jeff was carrying.
“ZEUS!” Sheffield exclaimed upon hearing his friend.
“Don't drink that toast to me just yet, Johnnie.”
“You're all right, then?”
“I got hurt in the shoulder and probably a concussion, but I walked away. Unfortunately we lost the other three with the ship.”
“I'm quite sorry. We had feared the worst.”
“Yeah. Does Maria know?”
“No. I wouldn't have spoken to her without confirmation.”
“Good. The less she knows the better. What's our situation right now?”
Within the next few minutes Sheffield updated Vinson on the Alliance's current standing, including news about the status of the EVAs and their pilots. The Alliance had achieved their goal of seizing the GeoFront, but at a horrible cost: nearly fifty percent of their combat air power had been lost in the assault, and nearly as many of the ground troops including most of APOLLO's paratroopers. Most of the JSSDF had either been destroyed on the battlefield or captured after the Giant appeared, with the remainder retreating north towards Nagano. As for SEELE, seven out of nine of the Mass Production EVAs were confirmed destroyed, the other two flying away. GABRIEL (EVA-04) had been redeployed inside of the GeoFront to guard against their return.
There was news on other fronts as well, as Alliance teams had been somewhat successful in either capturing or killing SEELE members in the USA and Europe. Attempts to capture other MAGI systems under SEELE control had failed however, resulting in the destruction of two of the supercomputers. Even so there was much to be glad about: the Alliance had taken its main objectives and had done so with strategic surprise.
The discussion finally turned to the Alliance's highest objective.
“Johnnie did you get a reading on that...thing that appeared?”
“We're calling it an Angel for now, but haven't gotten a full analysis on the data we collected. The initial take from the sensors on our drones was that the giant had a huge electromagnetic signature.”
“What about that energy wave?”
“That's just it. Visual sensors picked it up all over the world but there's no substantial energy reading, as if it was just visible light. Our own physicists are in fits about this as it contradicted just about everything they know about the physical universe.”
“Maybe we need theologians, not physicists,” Vinson mused.
“Well,” Sheffield observed lightly, “if what happened was actually Third Impact it was quite oversold.”
“Is Foch on his way yet?” the admiral asked.
“He should be landing about now.”
“Make sure he gets over here and have him check out the EVAs and the First Child. Maybe he can give us some answers.”
After the call Vinson took the three controllers into the elevator that led to Terminal Dogma. There was one Alliance engineer in the elevator besides them. No one spoke anything on the long trip down.
When the elevator reached Terminal Dogma, the doors opened and everyone exited. Vinson and the three controllers stopped in front and took a look at the dark cavern that surrounded them.
“Have any of you been down here before?” Vinson asked the three.
“No,” Aoba replied. “We weren't permitted access.”
“I was here once,” Maya said softly. “It was scary.”
The four of them walked down the dark hallway, illuminated only by a series of LED lights along the floor and ceiling. Occasionally they passed Alliance soldiers who would stop and salute the Admiral and then run in the opposite direction. After what seemed like quite a long walk the hallway opened up to the giant underground cavern where the Second Angel was once held.
They saw a group of men at the edge of the steel dock, one of which was kneeling on the platform and being guarded by the soldiers. While walking towards the group of soldiers and their prisoner Vinson looked at the enormity of the surrounding walls of rock as well as the giant crucifix at the end of the dock. This was all done truly on biblical proportions, he thought to himself.
As they came closer to the edge a body was also visible at the dock's edge, draped in a camouflaged jacket. Maya took a closer look. “Sempai?” she said softly.
While the jacket was pulled over the head and upper body, the lower body and legs were visible, her long legs dressed in stockings. The body was wearing a white laboratory coat.
“SEMPAI?!” Maya screamed and started to run over to the body. Both Aoba and Hyuga tried to reach for her but she had already escaped their grasp, sprinting over to the edge to see the fallen scientist.
Two soldiers ran to grab Maya before she could reach the body. She struggled mighty against their grip as the other two controllers ran to her.
“SEMPAI!!! SEMPAI!!! NO!!! NO!!!” she screamed.
“Ibuki!” Aoba shouted, “Get control of yourself!”
“NO! SHE CAN'T BE DEAD! IT'S NOT TRUE!!!” Maya continued to struggle with the two soldiers until Hyuga and Aoba could reach her and pull her away by the arms.
Vinson motioned to a medic, whispering “get her out of here.” The soldier pulled out a syringe and stuck it in Maya's arm. Within a few seconds her outbursts finished and she hung her head low as her body went limp, the sedatives quickly taking effect. Both of the other controllers took her by the arms as the medic led them out.
Watching all of this was Commander Ikari. He was kneeling on the steel platform, his left arm tied behind his back. As Hyuga and Aoba carried Maya away they tried to avoid looking at the commander, who gave them an icy stare.
The Admiral asked the sentry behind Ikari to pull him off the floor so he could stand while he spoke with him. Vinson knew his next discussion would be perhaps be his most critical and he didn't want Ikari to feel humiliated, at least not too much. The guard did as he was ordered and then moved well out of earshot of the two men.
Vinson walked in front of Ikari, who just glared at him. He noted that Ikari now only had one arm, which he thought was strange: recent recon video taken by Alpha had shown Ikari with two.
“Do you know who I am?” ZEUS asked him. Ikari said nothing but didn't look away either. Given as Ikari was the supreme head of NERV, Vinson surmised that he would at least be known to Ikari, either as the former head of NERV-2 security, or as the suspected head of the plot to steal the S2 engine.
“I am part of a group that calls itself The Alliance. Some of us are former NERV people. Others are former UN military, or scientists. All of us have been made very aware of the true nature of the Evangelion Project.” Vinson spoke in English slowly and distinctly, to ensure Ikari understood.
“Right now my men are all over this place,” the Admiral said as he slowly paced in front of Gendo. “We have control over both of your EVAs. We have in custody all of your EVA pilots, including your son, and we have the MAGI.” He waited for Gendo to make any kind of reaction but saw none.
“We would like to know what were you doing with the Angels that you had?” he asked Ikari. “Were you trying to start your own Third Impact?” Again, the commander said nothing.
ZEUS looked on the ground at the severed arm of Rei. “What were you doing with the girl?” Vinson asked.
“It's none of your concern,” Gendo finally responded.
“I think that it is. What was it that you were really doing here?”
Gendo paused for a moment. “Where is Dr. Futsuyuki?”
“He's dead,” Vinson told him.
“Then I have nothing further to say,” Gendo said without emotion.
Vinson paced a bit more, trying to think of the right way to approach the NERV commander. He stood right next to Gendo, and whispered in his ear.
“You should know we're not the UN and we're not SEELE. We play by our own rules and they're very simple: we can be your best friend, or we can be your worst enemy. The choice is yours.”
“Now we know,” Vinson continued “that you weren't planning on being a part of what those bastards at SEELE had planned. Otherwise they wouldn't have been in such a hurry to send those flying monkeys of theirs to jump-start everything. We nailed them pretty hard today, but they're still out there. And they will try again, I'm pretty sure.”
“I see this place,” Vinson looked around him, “and I know you built it. You put the EVA program in motion. It was you who fought off the Angels, and it was also you that stopped us the first time we came out here. You have to be pretty damn strong to do all of this, and I can honestly respect that.” The admiral then softened his voice a bit, trying to sound reasonable. “If we're going to be running into SEELE again, if I had my way I'd rather you be on my side.”
“I can speak with the others in my group, make them understand that you would really make a better ally than a captive to haul out there for a public show trial. I can get them to look past whatever it is you were planning to do here, and instead work with you on using our combined assets to wipe out these craven bastards once and for all. That is, if you're willing to make the leap.”
The admiral took a step back and allowed his eyes to meet with Gendo's. They stood there for a few moments as Ikari silently stared back at him with his dark eyes. Finally the Admiral addressed him again. “Well,” he said in a soft tone of voice, “can we make a deal?”
Gendo lowered his head and stared at Ritsuko's dead body for a moment, then met the Admiral's gaze.
“Go to hell.”
Vinson shook his head. “Fine.” He quickly motioned to the guard to come over who did so, along with an officer. “Please take Dr. Ikari to the Liberator,” he told both of them. “Tell them to make sure he's kept nice and isolated. Check him carefully before you bring him topside: make sure he doesn't have any electronic items with him, including anything sub-dermal. I wouldn't want him to spring any surprises on you.”
He looked at Ikari one more time to see his reaction but he was hard-faced and emotionless, staring out into the distance of the cavern as the two men padded him down carefully. The admiral knew that look: he'd seen in before in the faces of enemies that weren't about to give up. He watched as the former commander was pulled away by the two men and marched to the other end of the platform. What worried Vinson wasn't that Ikari was defiant, rather it was what still made him think he could afford to be.
After watching Gendo being taken from the platform Vinson himself made his way out. He walked to the entryway and asked one of APOLLO's soldiers where Musashi was and was directed to a laboratory a few minutes away.
Vinson entered the Dummy Plug Plant and saw the two Japanese men standing by the LCL tank in the background. He walked up to them and upon getting closer to the tank he saw the fragments of the Rei clones floating about. Vinson watched the pieces flow past for a few moments. Standing next to the tank was Musashi and Kikuchi.
“Were they ever alive?” he asked Musashi, who was still wearing his green and blue Alliance camouflage uniform and body armor.
“Empty shells for a common soul,” he replied. “One secret out of many to be revealed.”
Vinson looked at the other Japanese man. He was tall, wearing a dark suit that was soiled with blood and smoke. He wore sunglasses but with a crack in one lens. “Are you Alpha?”
“Yes, sir,” he said in a gruff voice.
“Thank you for helping us out with getting in here. I do have to ask you one question.”
“What happened to the plan? You were supposed to get the pilots out before we showed up.”
“Unfortunately the situation presented precluded me doing that. It was enough trouble to keep infiltrators within Section 2 from terminating the pilots.”
Vinson's eyebrows went high. “I see.”
“Did Commander Ikari take the offer?” Musashi asked the Admiral.
“No. I didn't really expect that he would. We'll put him on ice for a while and see if that changes.”
“His determination is quite considerable,” Musashi said. “It might take quite a bit of time and effort to convince him.”
“At some point it's no longer my problem,” Vinson sighed, looking again at the LCL tank. “Well,” he said to Musashi, “We did our part. Can you work on the locals?”
“I've already put things in motion,” he replied, lighting a cigarette. “Hopefully we can marshal the forces needed to make a change in government.”
“Time is critical for that, so I won't hold you further. We can provide you Intel and electronic support. Do you need any of my troops as well?”
“As I mentioned earlier this sort of thing is best as a local affair, but if we were to need the occasional airstrike...”
“Consider it done. Anything else?”
The agent took a long puff from his cigarette. “One of the wounded, she was found at the elevator shaft on top of the EVA cages. If there's any way that she can be saved...”
“Katsuragi, wasn't it?”
“I'll see to it she's taken care of.” Vinson padded the agent on the shoulder. “Off you go! We'll get it from here.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“No, thank you...Mr. Kaji.”
Dr. Foch marched into the NERV hospital accompanied by Beatrix. Both were wearing blue and green camouflage uniforms and body armor. They had arrived just minutes before at Airfield One. Along with support crews for the EVAs, they had been traveling in an air transport that had left Australia before the attack wave had even arrived at Tokyo-3.
When the doctor walked into the first level of the hospital, he was greeted by the chaos of medical triage. Scores of wounded from three different forces littered the floor as several Alliance medics and nurses attended to who they could. Foch noticed that he could see two of the NERV medical staff working as well. Once he walked inside, he removed his helmet and an Alliance officer came running up to him.
“Dr. Foch?” he asked.
“I’m Captain Hope. Command said I needed to speak to you.”
The captain brought them over to a more quiet hallway in the hospital. On the way there they noticed blast marks and bullet holes all throughout the hospital level: the battle had reached even into this area. Blood smears and some remaining carnage on the floors indicated it had not been pretty.
The officer handed Foch an LED tablet as he explained. “We have the NERV EVA pilots sequestered at the airfield, including the one we’re calling ‘Subject A.’ She’s being prepared to take to the Liberator.”
“Why?” Foch asked. “They won’t have the facilities to properly examine her there.”
“Then do you want to fly her back to Pine Gap?”
“No. Bring her here,” Foch pointed downward, indicating he meant the hospital. “This place has what we need.” The captain acknowledged and then ran back down the hallway.
Alone Foch spoke quietly to his assistant. “I want you to look for a Deep-Resolution Photon Scanner or something like it in this hospital. If she’s what I think she is, we’ll need that to get a full diagnostic on her.”
“What are you looking for, doctor?”
“Phase-shift Matter. Find the scanner, hopefully it’s intact and not shot up. Once they bring her over do a comprehensive workup on her and let me know the result.” Beatrix nodded and then turned to go but Foch stopped her. “Beatrix,” he instructed, “don’t tell anyone what you find until I see it first. If the admiral or anyone else asks just say everything’s inconclusive.”
Beatrix then ran off to start her search while Foch looked for the officer again, finding him talking on a communicator issuing orders. The doctor waited until he was finished.
“Yes, Dr. Foch?”
“It will take some time for my assistant to set things up. Are you in need of a surgeon?” he asked.
“We could use one if we had the setup, but look at this place!” the officer pointed at the battle damage visible in the hallway. “Pretty much we’re sending everyone that serious back to either Liberator or the carrier Avenger.”
Without asking Foch grabbed the officer’s LED tablet. “Let me see your triage list!” After a minute he scanned the list and saw the complete situation.
“25-30 year old Japanese female, NERV. GSW wound to abdomen,” Foch read off the tablet. “Who’s this?”
“She’s priority, sir, per command.”
“And you’re going to send her offshore?”
“We don’t have the facilities here to work on her.”
Foch shook his head. ”Nonsense. This is a hospital, isn’t it? If you send her to Liberator she’ll be dead before they land.”
“Then how do we…”
“Don’t tell me they don’t have operating rooms here!” Foch said impatiently.
The captain paused for a moment in embarrassment. “I was told that there were a couple of rooms up on the seventh floor that weren’t in too bad of shape. But they have to be sanitized first! Plus we don’t know where they keep all of their equipment and utensils!”
“No time,” the doctor said as he grabbed his rucksack and fished out his medical tools. “Get me a nurse that can follow orders and start lining up the most critical patients. I’ll see what I can do.”
For several hours Shinji was examined by a number of Alliance personnel and then left waiting in a temporary room at the airfield hanger wearing nothing but a medical gown. Most of the Alliance people didn't speak much Japanese and he didn't speak nearly any English, so it was hard for him to understand what was going on.
At some point Shinji decided to see if he could leave the tent-walled room and walked outside. There were two armed guards standing next to the walls who looked at him but said nothing. When he took a few steps forward one of the guards motioned to him to stay put, but there was no attempt to push him back into the tent.
While he watched the bustling activity inside the hangar he saw Asuka walk out of an adjacent tent. She was smiling and chatty with a female Alliance solder who Shinji thought might be a nurse. Unlike him, Asuka had managed to acquire a tee-shirt and camouflage pants and walked on slippers. Upon seeing Shinji she said bye to the nurse and hopped over where Shinji was standing, apparently in a good mood.
“Where have you been?” he asked her.
“Trying to find out what the hell's going on,” she whispered back, her expression suddenly serious.
The two of them looked around to see if they were being overheard and saw only the guards next to Shinji's tent. They lowered their voices and caught up with each other.
“Where's Ayanami?” Shinji asked Asuka.
“They took her away in a helicopter about twenty minutes ago. That's what that soldier said. I don't know where she went.”
“What about all these other people?”
“They're mostly ex-UN military, some are from NERV. The woman I got this from,” she motioned to her newly acquired uniform, “is from Denmark but she worked at Third Branch in Germany. She knew who I was from there.”
“What about Patrick?”
“EVA-04's back at the GeoFront. They're worried those things might come back.”
Shinji sighed. “What are they going to do with us?”
Asuka folded her arms. “That I don't know. We're EVA pilots so hopefully we're important enough to take good care of.”
The boy kept looking at all of the different people in the hanger. Most of them were Caucasian by appearance, a few Asians, and some other darker-skinned people. He had never seen so many foreigners all at once. Shinji asked Asuka “Were they trying to stop Third Impact?”
“That was the plan. They were trying to get to the GeoFront before the JSSDF did.” She then spoke in a more serious tone. “There's something else, too.”
“The Japanese government gave orders to all of their army units: kill everyone at NERV, no exceptions!”
She nodded, and then pointed at the far end of the hanger. There was a large stack of black vinyl bags about two meters in length, perhaps a hundred or more. Shinji knew what they were and said nothing. Asuka continued. “She says we were incredibly lucky to get out alive.”
“Maybe it wasn't luck,” Shinji responded, his hands clutching Misato's cross around his neck.
“Anyway,” Asuka said, brushing her hair back with her hands. “I'm starving! Is there anything here to eat?”
“You're hungry at a time like this?!” Shinji exclaimed.
“Hey, I haven't had a real meal in days. I was still in a hospital bed this morning, you know! At least if these people are in charge now I won't have to eat white rice every day!” She started to look around trying to find something that looked like chow, but Shinji was distracted by something he saw by the hanger doorway.
Guarded on all sides by Alliance soldiers, Shinji saw his father standing the doorway. His jacket was removed, as were his glasses. His left arm was bound behind his back, his hand tied to a thick leather belt wrapped around his waist. The right sleeve of his turtleneck shirt dangled.
Feeling the weight of Shinji's stare, Gendo slowly turned his head towards him. The expression on his face was hard, his eyes narrowing at Shinji. The boy's breathing became more shallow and he felt frozen in position as fear gripped him. The commander didn't want to be seen by anyone as broken as he was now, and especially not by his son.
“Father,” Shinji said quietly as Asuka turned back to him. She too saw the commander by the hangar doors.
“What happened to his arm?” she asked him.
“I don't know” he replied, still unmoving.
Four soldiers led Ikari out the hanger doors and to the runway where a large Osprey was waiting, its rotors spinning up. The commander turned his head to face Shinji as the men marched him out. Shinji wanted to say something but he couldn't, and didn't know if he should be sad that his father was a prisoner, or happy that he was finally, hopefully out of his life. Instead he just stood there and watched as the men marched his father up the rear ramp of the tilt-rotor. As the ramp closed Gendo was seated inside and kept his glare on Shinji until the ramp shut tight. Shinji then closed his eyes and sighed in great relief.
Go to Chapter Twenty-Five