Sir John stood outside of the command building and looked at the sun setting over the red rocks on the outback's horizon. Except for infrequent breaks he had not been outside of the command room for three days. Now with success in hand he could allow himself to rest and reflect.
He grabbed a pipe out of his front shirt pocket, pushed in some tobacco, and then lit it. The general took in a deep draw and let the smoke out slowly. Seventy-two hours ago it had seemed impossible to him he would even have this small luxury but the Alliance had hit its objectives well beyond his own expectations. However Sheffield was not so naive to think that this was at an end, but rather just beginning.
“Do you mind if I smoke here?” a voice behind him asked. Sir John turned around and saw a burly middle-aged man with salt-and-pepper hair and a broad mustache, dressed in khakis. He knew him immediately.
“What are you doing here?”
The man took out his own pipe. “I figured it was time to check in. I can see we're still here: how did it go?”
Sheffield reported as they both smoked and looked at the sunset. “The Alliance now has control over the remnant of Tokyo-3, plus two of the other branches. We've captured the NERV commander and we also have the two NERV EVAs in addition to our own. And,” he said as he reloaded his pipe, “the government in Tokyo-2 is in the process of changing hands. Losses on our part were considerable but not unmanageable.”
“How about the other side?”
“Two of their units got away. We still don't know where their main base is.”
“You realize,” the man said as he puffed his pipe, “they're not going to just give up. They've been at this for a few thousand years. Hell, this isn't even the first attempt!”
“I would anticipate that we may have much more trouble waiting for us. However our position is considerably stronger now than it was before.” Sir John looked at him. “The odds are even now.”
“Possibly,” the man replied, letting out the smoke into a series of rings. “Was the boy useful to you?”
“Quite. He did well on the field despite misgivings, and his rapport with the Japanese pilots made him essential to our victory.”
The man allowed himself a smile. “Good. Did you find his sister?”
“Not yet,” Sheffield replied. “Your brother-in-law was considerably careful in hiding her. I've had people working on it and identified three possible locations, all in the Eastern United States. It's only a matter of time before we have her as well.” The man nodded and continued to puff on his pipe.
After a while the man faced the general. “Do the others know of my existence?”
“No,” Sheffield replied. “Their belief is that the information you provided us on SEELE came from some deep cover British and Israeli intelligence operation, not from a former member.”
“Best to keep it that way,” he said. “They still think I'm dead.”
“As far as everyone else is concerned you're still Victor Rickover and you're still missing.”
“Good enough,” he shrugged. “You should be getting ready.” The man put away his pipe and turned around to walk away.
“What are you going to do?” Sheffield asked him.
“Find a way how to stop them for good,” he said over his shoulder.
Misato was sleeping in her hospital bed when she felt the phone in her lap vibrate. She gently picked it up and saw the text message on the screen, sent by Kaji:
IT’S DONE. BACK HOME SOON.
She allowed herself a sigh of relief. The national government in Tokyo-2 had paid the price for what happened two days before. Hopefully with a change of power things could now start to get better, at least in Japan. She replied back by text.
OK. PLS HURRY WANT U HERE.
Within a moment came Kaji’s own reply.
She closed the phone and leaned back in the bed to rest further. After nearly dying her recovery had gone relatively well, with Alliance doctors telling her she would likely be move out of ICU by tomorrow. Still she was one of the very lucky few left alive, and that came with some great responsibilities to the others at NERV, alive and dead.
“Guten Morgen!” a cheerful voice sounded from the doorway.
Misato turned to the doorway and saw Asuka bounding inside, still wearing a school uniform. She brought in a tray of food for Misato.
“Good morning,” she replied with a broken smile.
“You look better,” Asuka commented, handing Misato the food tray.
“Thanks. What I wouldn’t give for a beer right now!” They both laughed as Asuka plopped down on a nearby chair. Misato took a bite out of the food, which was Japanese food including chicken, miso soup and white rice. “They got the cafeteria working again?”
The girl batted her eyelashes. “Actually I kind of flirted with someone to get that from outside.”
”Asuka,” Misato said with a sly smile. “You didn’t have to!”
The redhead smirked back. “It’s okay. I think you need this. Just don’t let Baka find out how I got it.”
“You’re secret’s safe with me,” Misato said while stuffing her face with rice. “Where is he, anyway?”
Asuka frowned a little. “He went to go get the First’s clothes from the pilot lockers. Anyway I can’t wait to get back to the apartment. I’ve worn the same thing for two days in a row!”
“Hopefully we still have a place left to go to,” Misato commented.
The two chatted for a bit and then there was a knock on the doorway. They looked to see who it was and standing in the doorway was Hikari, holding Pen Pen in her arms. “Hello, everyone!” she said.
“Pen Pen!” Misato exclaimed as the penguin saw her and flapped excitedly. Hikari brought him over and placed him in Misato’s arms as she quickly brought the bird in to a big hug.
“Ohhh, Mommy missed you!” she said, affectionately scratching the top of Pen Pen's head. The bird made a cooing sound, happy to be back in the arms of his surrogate mother.
“I hope that he wasn’t any trouble for you,” Misato said.
”Oh, no, but I had to pry him away from Nozomi to get him here. She’s gotten quite attached to him.”
Misato rubbed Pen Pen's belly as he squawked happily. “Well, she can come see him anytime she wants.”
“Thanks,” Hikari said and turned to Asuka. Her expression went from gladness to worry. “Asuka, are you okay?” Asuka nodded happily as she stood up. “Yup! Couldn’t be better!”
“I’m so glad! I was so worried about you!” Before they could say anything else the two fell into a tight embrace, giggling and crying as they were happy to see each other again.
“Hey, don’t let us interrupt you!” called a voice from the doorway. Standing there on a pair of crutches was Toji, with Kensuke standing next to him.
“Hey, boys! Long time no see!” Misato said.
“Good Morning, Major ma’am!” Toji and Kensuke both called out. “Please excuse us for not bowing!”
“It’s all right,” Misato answered. “Come on in!”
Kensuke went to the hallway and grabbed more chairs for everyone, while Hikari gently eased Toji into a chair as he fussed. She then sat next to him, reaching over and holding his hand. Asuka stood while waiting for a new chair.
“So what brings you guys here?” asked Misato as she fed Pen Pen food from her tray.
Toji and Hikari looked at each other and sighed deeply in relief. “We have had way too much excitement in the last week,” Hikari said.
“Apparently the government didn't get the news that I am no longer an EVA pilot,” Toji said. “They tried to 'off' me in Osaka-2 about three days ago.”
Both Misato and Asuka gasped in shock. “What?!” Misato cried.
“Yeah,” Hikari said, squeezing her boyfriend's hand. “He would have been gone if it hadn't been for that English girl Mary and those people in the Alliance.”
“Do you mean that Mary saved you?” Asuka asked.
“Yeah,” Kensuke replied dreamily as he brought in two more chairs. “She's awesome!”
“Oh, really?” Misato asked coyly. “I think I'd like to meet this girl. Did you three just get here?”
“No, we were in a big aircraft carrier just offshore,” Toji said. “We saw the whole thing!”
Kensuke was still in complete bliss. “World War III and Third Impact, all on the same day! It was cool! Too bad I ran out of memory cards...”
“But, Katsuragi-san,” Hikari asked, “What was that giant that appeared? Was that an Angel?”
“That wasn't an angel!” Kensuke countered. “It looked just like Ayanami-chan!”
“How could it be her?” Toji said. “The thing was huge! Besides, Ayanami didn't have wings...did she?”
Misato listened to the others and glanced at the doorway. What she saw made her smile just a little more.“ You know, Toji, you could just ask her!”
“How can I ask her if she's...” Toji was about to reply when glanced over his shoulder at who Misato was smiling at. Standing in the doorway and wearing her blue and white school uniform was Rei. Shinji was standing next to her, holding her hand.
Hikari's face went pale at the sight of Rei. Kensuke grinned and said quietly “I told you it was her.”
Shinji whispered in Rei's ear “Are you sure you want to do this?” She looked at him and nodded.
“Their scientists finished examining her last night,” Shinji explained to the others, “so I figured everyone would want to see her.”
All of them were silent as Rei gently sat herself down on the empty seat next to Toji. Shinji moved to stand next to her but Asuka grabbed him first, wrapping her arm around his and pulling him away.
Without saying anything Toji took his finger and poked Rei on her side, just to make sure that she was actually there. She looked at him curiously as he did so.
“How are you, Rei?” Misato asked.
“I am well, Major,” she replied in her whisper-like voice.
Goodness, what do you say to her after what happened? “Is everything okay?”
“Yes, I think that it is now.”
“That’s great. We’re all very glad to have you back.”
Kensuke broke the silence of the others. “They said Unit 00 self-destructed! How did you survive that?”
“I am still me but this body is different,” Rei replied matter-of-factly.
“It’s her, all right,” Toji said to Kensuke. “Only Ayanami says weird stuff like that.”
“It’s good to see you again no matter what happened!” Hikari told her, smiling. Rei nodded and gave her a little smile as well, which surprised Hikari.
Toji turned his attention from Rei to Shinji. “Hey, you!” he smiled at him. Shinji then realized that he had not actually seen Toji since the Unit 03 disaster. As elation mixed with guilt, Shinji blushed a little in embarrassment as he stared at Toji’s missing leg.
“We all heard what happened,” Toji told him. “Good job saving the world!”
“I didn’t do anything like that,” Shinji replied. “I just piloted again, that’s all.”
“No need to be modest,” Kensuke said. “It takes a real bad-ass to take on nine of those things!”
“Hey!” Asuka protested. “Don’t forget me! While this guy was crying in the EVA cage I had to fight those things off first!”
“And then when you sat there on your ass with no battery we had to go and bail you out!” Heads turned and they saw two others standing at the doorway.
“Patrick!” Misato exclaimed.
“Whoa! Also back from the dead!” Toji said.
“Sorry I didn’t get her earlier,” the American boy said. “I had to go and get Mary.” Patrick was dressed in a camouflage uniform similar to the Alliance soldiers while Mary wore a blue hospital robe. Her right eye was bandaged, but she still wore her red-framed glasses over her eyes and her right foot was in a cast. “Hello, everyone!” Mary said cheerfully.
“So this is the mysterious English girl,” Misato said.
“Mary Illustrious Makinami. Pleased to meet you, ma’am!”
“Yes, on my mum’s side.”
“Um, could we get her a seat?” Patrick asked and Kensuke quickly offered his own. Both Patrick and Kensuke helped her move over to the seat. As she went across the room Mary hobbled by Shinji. “How are you, puppy-kun?” she asked him with a wide smile.
“I’m fine, I think,” Shinji bashfully responded.
“That’s good.” She cutely patted him on the cheek and moved to the chair that Kensuke offered. Upon seeing the encroachment Asuka said nothing but wrapped her hands much tighter around Shinji arm.
As Mary sat herself down Patrick looked at Rei and waived his hand. “Hi there!”
“Oh, hi,” she replied. Her voice warmed up just a little.
“I didn’t see you come back last night. Where were you?”
“I was still being examined by Dr. Foch,” Rei told him. “He is very curious.”
“I bet he is.”
Mary looked around the room and saw that nearly everyone had their eyes glued to her. “So, What'd I miss?”
“Only about fifteen Angels,” Asuka replied coldly.
“Better late than never, I suppose. I was afraid I'd miss the party entirely!”
Misato leaned back in the bed, picking up Pen Pen and stroking his head again while he softly cooed. “Well, I now have six EVA pilots in one room.”
“Yeah, if you get any more Angels they don’t stand a chance,” said Kensuke.
“There will be no more Angels,” Rei said. “That part is done.”
“But we still may need EVA yet,” Misato finished. “Mankind is turning out to be more dangerous than the Angels are. Much more dangerous.” She looked at Shinji as she spoke and he nodded knowingly.
Toji kept glancing at Rei and then spoke up. “But there’s something about all of this that I don’t get!”
”What’s that, Toji?” the Major asked.
“I mean, if Ayanami could do that…you know, become that big giant thing, why even bother with the EVAs in the first place?”
“What do you mean, you idiot!?” Asuka argued. “You need EVA to fight the Angels!”
“Would you really?” he replied. “Did you see her? She was as big as Mount Fuji! If she could do that why not just send Ayanami to fight the Angels! Then you wouldn’t have to spend all that money and stuff, digging up all of Lake Ashi, having Shinji and Asuka freak out every time some Angel attacks.”
“I didn’t freak out!” Asuka retorted. Shinji rolled his eyes at that.
“Whatever. I mean, look at everything that happened. I lose my leg. My sister nearly gets killed. Lots of people actually did get killed. Other people got sucked into black holes and stuff.” Toji motioned to Rei “Why not just make things easier and have her do it!”
“Toji!” Hikari exclaimed. “She could get hurt doing that!”
“She blew up herself and then there she is sitting right in front of you! Besides, she could probably whack them pretty good, if you know what I mean!”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Hikari told him sternly.
Toji defended himself. “I'm just saying, you know?”
“I wouldn’t mind,” Rei herself said.
“Rei!” Misato exclaimed. “At least stand up for yourself a little bit!”
“How about the next time the Angels come we’ll put you in charge,” Kensuke told Toji.
“Fine,” Toji said and then crossed his arms and gave what he considered a serious, commanding pose. “First thing I do is move the base to Osaka.”
“Osaka!?” said Asuka.
“Yeah. We'll call it Osaka-3. At least that way I don’t have to go so far for decent takoyaki. The stuff they make here never tastes right!”
Misato giggled as did several of the others, probably the first good laugh they had in a long while. “Well, at least you got your priorities straight!”
Later that night Shinji found that he couldn’t sleep and wondered around the hospital. Like all of the children, he was still shadowed by Alliance guards who were careful to keep him in sight but not be in his way. He went down three flights of stairs and returned to Misato’s room. Entering inside he found her awake, and staring at the wall opposite her bed.
“Couldn’t sleep, huh?” she asked. Shinji shook his head.
“Me, too.” She looked at the IV stuck in her left arm. “This thing’s on wheels. I think I might be able to walk around a bit.” She smiled at him. “Care to join me?”
Shinji smiled back. “Sure.”
The two of them walked slowly down the hospital hallway. Misato found that she would walk but it was strained, the pain and stiffness from her injuries were still quite strong. Even so it felt good to her to be moving again. While they walked they looked around and saw that the signs of the battle were still apparent: bullet holes, burn marks, and shattered windows were everywhere, and the small number of medical staff (Alliance and NERV) were busy attending to patients or on other matters. Many of the less seriously wounded had been moved out the day before to ships offshore or to other places in the GeoFront that could accommodate them.
“So,” Misato asked Shinji as they walked, “things really took an interesting turn, didn’t they?”
“Yeah,” Shinji said. “It was like the whole world turned upside down!”
Shinji looked at her. “I’m really happy that Kaji’s back!” Misato nodded. “So am I. Only now I got a find a way to live with that asshole!” They both chuckled and kept walking.
“What will happen now?” Shinji asked her.
“Right now they’re still working out an agreement between the Alliance and the new government in Japan for joint control of NERV and the EVAs. That’s where Kaji is right now, trying to work it out between both parties.”
“Ayanami said there’s no more Angels. If that’s true will they still keep EVA around?”
“SEELE is still out there with their own units and they’re bound to cause trouble, especially after this. Sorry, but I guess you’ll still be piloting.”
“I don’t mind anymore,” Shinji said. “I still don’t really like it, but after having been through everything, how much worse can it get?” They both laughed again, Misato choking a little as she did so.
“Misato, what will happen to my dad?” Shinji asked.
“I don’t know. They’ve made him an offer for cooperation but so far he’s not budged. He may be trying to wait it out and see if we can really run EVA without him. Sooner or later he’ll have to answer for his part in the whole mess, though.” She turned to Shinji. “How do you feel about him being taken?”
“Honestly it’s sort of a relief,” the boy said. “One part of me wanted to see him go and one part didn’t. But I don’t feel like I really need him at this point.” Misato stopped when he heard Shinji say that.
“So I guess you’ve really grown up, then?”
The boy paused a little. “I don’t really think so! I still feel pretty much the same as before.”
“Oh, I can see it,” she smirked. “Certainly Asuka can. She’s been quite attached to you recently.”
“Yeah, well…it is kind of a nice feeling having her there,” Shinji sighed smiling to himself. “I really did miss her a lot!”
“You two will be just fine!”
They walked for a little longer until reaching the end of the hallway. The lights were dimmer on this part, to save energy and make sleep easier to the patients. Misato stopped and turned around to face Shinji. She looked at him with a gentle smile, the kind Shinji knew was the one she often used when she wanted something.
“Well I seem to recall a certain promise I made earlier if we both got out of this,” she said to him. Shinji remembered the promise too, of course, and had tried very hard to avoid bringing it up.
“Um, Misato-san,” he said nervously, “things were pretty bad then. I’m sure you really didn’t mean anything like that!”
“Of course I did!” she said. “Hey, I may not be the purest girl you’ll ever meet, but I always keep my promises!”
“But, what about Kaji-san?”
”This isn’t about Kaji-san, this is about you,” she replied as she playfully poked his chest. “I think for saving the world you deserve a beautiful woman as a reward, and just as soon as I’m out of here you’re welcome to a ‘free shot’ at me!”
He stood there for a while, stunned at the offer. Shinji had to admit to himself that he was very tempted.
“I think everything worked out the way it should have,” he said dryly.
Misato was genuinely disappointed. “Suit yourself!”
Patrick slept quite well that evening, unaware of what was happening to his other self halfway around the world.
Somewhere in the Eastern United States
The girl sat in a hospital bed, dressed in a white nightgown. She had woken up two days before and now found herself in very unfamiliar surroundings. As she had slowly regained consciousness, the blonde girl with emerald eyes referred to by the hospital staff as “sleeping beauty” spoke to the nurses in her room, telling them her name and asking for her father.
When she was first admitted to the secret clinic, the hospital manager was given an email address to use if she ever awoke. He promptly sent a message and received an almost immediate reply, requesting that the girl be isolated until she could be picked up within a couple of days. It was emphatically instructed that she not be allowed to watch any television, listen to radio, or have any other contact with the outside world.
So she was locked in her room and contact with the staff was kept to a minimum. Her questions about where she was and what happened went unanswered, and as she quickly recovered her strength her frustration turned into outright anger.
After two days of isolation she was determined to get an answer to where she was. In the early afternoon she heard noises from the outside hallway and saw through the frosted glass of the hospital room door the silhouettes of others outside.
She jumped down off the bed and ran to the door, pounding on it with her small fists. “Hey! “Let me out of here!” She kept pounding on the door and kept calling out until the door opened up slowly. The teenaged girl stood back to see who was entering.
An old man rolled into the room on a motorized wheelchair. His hair was silver, his eyes were covered by a vision enhancement visor, and he wore a green tunic. The man's wheelchair moved inside as the door was closed behind him by another.
“Who are you?” the girl asked.
“My name is Chairman Keel. I'm an old friend of your father's. You are Erin Forrestal, I presume?”
“Yeah, that's right. Where am I? Where's my father?”
“You are the pilot of Evangelion Unit 04, yes?”
Erin straightened up a bit. “Yes, I am.”
The chairman used a remote control to turn on a television monitor mounted on the wall.
“Six months ago you suffered an accident while inside Unit 04, correct?”
“I think so, I don't remember. All I remember is waking up in this place two days ago.”
“Yes. Well my child, quite a lot has happened. Unfortunately while you were gone there was an act of sabotage at your father's facility. This,” he motioned to the screen, “is what happened two months ago.”
The monitor showed footage of Unit 04's disappearance at Second Branch, as a giant sphere of energy engulfed the Nevada desert base in a matter of seconds. Erin gasped as she saw the crater that was left in the wake of the event. “What...what happened?”
The old man sighed and told her in a sad voice, “I am very afraid my child that I have some bad news...”
Go To Epilogue