Patrick walked down the hallway from the boys’ suite to the girls’ suite, carefully carrying a teapot and two cups on a small tray. Since Units 01 and 02 had left a couple of days before, he had been busy piloting Unit 04 and patrolling the GeoFront and surrounding area as the Alliance continued to build up their defenses. As a result of all of the activity he had very little time to see Rei, or anyone else for that matter. After another twelve hour stint his body was tired and wanted to go and have a long sleep, but he forced it to carry on just a little while longer. Seeing Rei would at least brighten up his day for a couple of hours.
He had called her several times since asking her for the date and each time her mobile phone went to voice mail, it was only just before he boarded Unit 04 early in the morning when she did finally pick up. Asking her if he could come over for tea after he was done, she simply said “okay” and then hung up. In the back of his mind something bothered him about Rei’s recent behavior towards him, as she seemed to again be very distant and withdrawn. It was as if she was becoming her old self again, and that worried Patrick.
Arriving in front of the suite door, he rang the doorbell and Rei was standing in front of him. She wore an outfit consisting of a black and white plaid skirt, a white top with a turtleneck, and black tights and loafers. Patrick recognized the clothes, as they were same outfit she last wore in their one and only previous date.
“Hi,” he said energetically, trying to set the tone. Unfortunately Rei was expressionless and it seemed to Patrick maybe even a little dour. “Come with me please,” she said without emotion, and then without anything further she started to walk towards the elevator.
“Uh, what about the tea?” Patrick said.
Rei stopped and spoke without facing him. “We won’t need that where we are going.”
This doesn’t feel right. He quickly stepped inside the girls’ suite and placed the tray on the living room table. There he caught a glimpse of Mari in the kitchen in a lively discussion with her former controller Lieutenant Wellington, who had been staying in the girls’ suite in Misato’s absence. He started to get away until Mari noticed him.
“Hello there, Pats!” she said. “Off on a date are you?”
“I think so. Actually I’m not sure of the plan at all here.” Before Mari could continue the discussion further Patrick excused himself and ran out the door to catch up with Rei.
Rei was already in the elevator when Patrick caught up to her, the doors nearly closing as he reached them. Quickly pushing them back he entered the small elevator as they shut. Once closed, Rei used her key card to activate a special set of buttons on the elevator and it began to plunge downward.
They both just stood by each other, silently watching the door as the elevator moved in the lower reaches of the GeoFront. Patrick looked at Rei’s face but she didn’t meet his gaze and instead just kept looking at the door.
“So,” he said, trying to keep from being nervous, “where are we going?”
“Terminal Dogma,” she replied. “I need to show you something.”
The small elevator continued downwards through a black abyss as Patrick thought of how he could pry a little more out of Rei. He took an indirect approach.
“You wore that outfit again,” he commented. “You look really good in it.” Rei gave him no response of any kind.
She’s withdrawing herself but also wanted me to go down here. Wait a minute, isn’t Terminal Dogma where Rei was…
His thoughts were interrupted by the images outside of the elevator’s glass walls. It had gone from a black abyss to a brightly colored one. The “landscape” outside the windows was bizarre, looking like giant biological organs embedded in an orange sea of LCL. Patrick’s mouth gaped open in astonishment.
“What is this place?”
“This is the Black Moon,” Rei replied. “The seed of humanity.”
The elevator continued downward. Patrick looked at the display on the control panel and saw that after a few minutes they were over 2,000 meters below sea level. They were down so low that his ears popped several times along the journey. Finally the elevator reached the bottom, passed through a few more subterranean levels of solid rock, and then the doors opened up. Without saying a word Rei immediately left the elevator and began to walk rapidly down a dark hallway, with just a little light provided by LED lights on either side of the walkway.
Patrick followed Rei for another few minutes as she briskly led him down several passageways. Along the way he saw no one else, not even any guards or other NERV or Alliance staff. Outside of a dull churning noise coming from the distance there wasn’t any sound in the place, giving it a distinctively eerie feeling.
They came to a closed doorway with a large plaque on it that read in both Japanese and English “DUMMY PLUG PLANT: NO ENTRY.” Rei again slid her security card on a card reader along the wall and the doors immediately slid open. She walked inside and Patrick came in with her.
Inside the “Plant” was a set of computers and displays on one side of the room, and then a large plexiglass tube and a control center on the other. The tube reached up into the ceiling, and connected to a complicated looking set of large ducts that Patrick thought resembled either brain tissue or the small intestine. There were a set of steel doors behind the tube that were closed shut. The cavernous room itself was dark, lit only by LED floodlights on the walls and ceilings.
This must be where she spends her time, Patrick thought. He noticed that the scan tube was narrow, just large enough for a person to be inside. Rei walked alongside of it, grabbing a remote control from the control center and then walking towards the steel doors that were along the wall.
Patrick moved to follow her but she then said “wait here,” and he stood motionless by the control center as she moved to the back wall. He looked around the strange lab, taking it all in. If I were a mad scientist this sort of place is what I’d want for Christmas, he mused.
Once she reached the back wall Rei pushed a button on the remote control and the lights in the room went completely dark. Startled by the sudden darkness, Patrick called out to her. “Rei, what are we doing here?” A moment later the large steel panels on the far wall began to recede, and the room was illuminated by light-filled tanks of LCL that were now visible.
Looking for her, Patrick now saw Rei standing in front of the giant LCL tanks. Glancing at the orange liquid filled tanks themselves, Patrick saw a large number of floating objects bobbing silently inside. He took a closer look and noticed something that looked like an arm, then a leg, and then a head. He saw that there were dozens of these parts inside the tank floating around and then as he continued to observe the tank he suddenly realized just what he was looking at. His body suddenly began to shiver all over, and his stomach knotted up to the point where bile came up his throat, making him wanting to retch. Floating in the LCL were dozens, perhaps hundreds of dismembered body parts, and they were all parts of Rei.
“Oh my God!” Patrick stammered. He looked at Rei but she stood stoically in front of the tank, looking back at him.
“This is me,” she declared. “This is the reality of my existence.”
“What are these?” Patrick asked, pushing back his feelings of horror.
“These are all copies of this body,” Rei replied. “There were 97 inside this tank until they were destroyed by Dr. Akagi, and until one month ago the body I have now was also one of them.”
“Why are you showing me this?”
“I needed to show you this, so that I can make you understand.”
Rei paused for a few seconds, and then said in a straightforward manner. “I am incompatible with you.”
Patrick could feel his heart drop to the floor. “Incompatible?! But…”
“I’m not naïve about your intentions towards me, Forrestal-kun,” she said. “But please don’t also be naïve about the nature of my existence. I am not the same as anyone else. I cannot have relationships the same as anyone else.”
He raced his mind to say something but Rei continued on. “This body will not live without administered medication. I require constant monitoring to ensure my health.”
“That hardly matters at all,” Patrick replied.
“My synthetic nature means I cannot survive outside of NERV. When Evangelion is finished you can leave this place and live your life. I will be unable to do this myself.”
“If you’re here I don’t have plans to leave!”
“But that is not a suitable life for you,” she replied.
“Isn’t that my decision?”
“I understand your feelings towards me,” Rei said to him, softening her tone slightly. “But this body will not allow me to form a physical relationship with another human in any case.”
“What do you mean?”
The look on her face seemed sad now. “I am unable to conceive a child,” she said to him. “This body was never intended to interface with humans in that way. I am made in the image of a human, but I am not the same as you.”
Patrick thought about what she was saying, trying to piece together her words into meaning that he could both understand and then convince her otherwise. The thought that she might not be available for a more, physical relationship tugged at the back of his mind: it wasn’t something he had put much thought into up until now, but clearly she had considered it and now forced him to consider as well.
“Again, what really matters? Doesn’t having a connection matter?” he said, trying to be convincing without arguing. “On the island I felt we had a connection to each other. Didn’t you feel this too?”
“I did,” she said with sadness in her voice. “But the connection cannot be what you want it to be. You would be better off forming a relationship with another. You get along with Illustrious-chan, she would be more compatible with you.”
Patrick began to slowly walk closer to where she was standing in front of the tank. “Rei, I don’t care about anyone else. All I care about is you. All I think about is you.” He stopped half-way to the wall. “I just want you, and I’ve just wanted you ever since I saw you.”
They stared at each other for a minute as Patrick’s heart raced. He had hoped earlier that the last few days and weeks, over tea and books and visits and adventures he had broken through to her, but suddenly she had reversed herself and now was pushing away from him.
“I am sorry. I told you earlier I could not, and it is still true. Please do not pursue a relationship with me any further.”
Patrick’s heart fell on the floor. He forced himself to push back tears that were forming, shaking his head. He swallowed and gave it his last best shot.
“Rei,” he confessed, “I love you. Please don’t push me away.”
The confession got a reaction from her, if only subtly. Her face went from stoic to hard, and she closed her eyes, turning her head away. “Then I must go.”
“We have memories together,” Patrick said. “The train. The date. The time I found you again. The island. You can’t say these don’t mean anything.”
“I have these memories too,” she said softly. “There are not without meaning. I enjoyed the times I spent with you. You felt warm, and with you I didn’t have to perform any function. I could simply be Rei.”
Patrick’s felt hope at her words. “It can be that way every day, you know.”
“One of the other differences between this body and humans is that I am incapable of dreaming. I have never had one. What happened seemed like a dream to me, but I realize it is just a dream. It is time for me to wake up. It is time for you as well.
“Rei! No, I…”
“Forrestal-kun, please listen to me and not just hear. Thank you for the time I spent with you, but do not continue to seek me. Farewell.” As she said farewell, the remaining lights went out in the room.
“Rei? Rei! REI!!!” Patrick called out. He ran to where she stood in front of the LCL tank and instead bumped into the tank walls. “Ouch!” The boy tried to search for her in the darkness.
“Rei! Don’t give up like this!”
Patrick stumbled throughout the laboratory, frantically searching for Rei as best she could without light. He felt his way through every corner inside the spacious lab but there was no sign of her.
“Rei, if you can hear me, please listen.” He stood for a moment and closed his eyes, trying to feel her out in some way. Patrick felt she was close by but he couldn’t quite tell where. “It wasn’t just a dream that I saw with you, it was the reality too. I know it’s not so easy for you, believe me. I’m an EVA pilot too, you know. Please, don’t make yourself so lonely like this. “ His voice went softer as he gently pleated with her in the darkness.
“Rei, please don’t do this. I promise you’ll never be alone again. Please.” Standing there for a long moment Patrick tried to listen to the surroundings and see where she was. All the noise in the room was just some soft mechanical sounds in the distance, there was no sign of her.
Maybe she’s not in the room, he thought. This place is big, she probably just ran away somewhere around here. Still determined, Patrick left the lab and started searching for her along the dark hallways of Terminal Dogma.
Patrick was wrong however, and in fact Rei was close by in the darkness. Adjoining the laboratory was a small room divided with dark curtains, containing a bed and various hospital-type equipment. It was the secret room where she had spent her early life, at least in her first two incarnations.
Against the far edge of the metal hospital bed she sat on the floor. She had removed her loafers so she could walk without being heard, and was now huddled in silence, hugging her legs as she had listened to Patrick’s pleas. She closed her eyes and squeezed her legs harder as she felt a pain inside of her that she had not expected.
A boy’s voice spoke behind her. “You didn’t tell him everything, did you?”
“No,” she replied to the voice in her mind. “I told him what he needed to know.”
“He won’t give up so easily,” the voice of Adam replied.
“It doesn’t matter. There is nothing left to me but to do this.”
She closed her eyes again, bearing the pain she had inflicted upon Patrick and upon herself. With her mind she saw the image of him, the images that she favored. Seeing his smile, and feeling the sense of adventure that he conveyed to her. The way his eyes looked at her with warmth, she had seen that same look before, from someone else who she had also had a connection with.
In the period after Third Impact things would change for her, Rei thought. With new people and new circumstances her life would be different, and she could leave behind the pain and despair that she had felt before. But over the last few days as she drew closer to the others she felt the echoes of the torn edges of her heart. Perhaps it was being in the GeoFront and being surrounded with memories of him, or maybe it was being in the Dummy Plug Plant again, or even just seeing the LCL stabilizer that she needed for her body to keep living. She remembered the first time she was ever given a shot with the stabilizer, and she remembered who it was who had given it to her.
Within the last few days the memories of the former commander of NERV that she had suppressed had all come back. Through them was forced to relive what had happened, and how the man that she had trusted as a child, the one who was her first “other,” had suddenly violated her, body and soul.
Patrick wanted to be closer to her, she knew. A date would turn into several, and then as trust was built and the connection between them became stronger she would loosen up her defenses and begin the process of slowly bonding with him. At least, that was his intentions.
Unfortunately the wound she carried was too deep. She didn’t want to go there again, she didn’t want to trust someone like that, to be touched and then later to fear to be touched. She couldn’t, not as long as every thought and memory she now had turned back to having the embryonic body of Adam thrust inside of her, and how angry she had felt. Somehow she had dug inside of herself, and on that day found the strength to turn things around. The pain had never really gone away however, and it was never going to.
She was incompatible, she had concluded, and that was that. She would just go on with her life as long as she filled a role, and then the boy would move on as well.
Rei tried to find any comfort she could. Memories of being in Shinji’s arms were all she could come up with, and she squeezed her legs a little more.
“You could have him instead, you know,” Adam said to her, reading her thoughts.
She knew it as well, but also knew the reality. Shinji and her were part of each other, Rei realized, but that which brought them close together also pulled them apart. She was the embodiment of Shinji’s mother, and as such there were doors that were closed to the two of them. Also, she knew of the paired hearts that Shinji shared with the Second Child. He’s where he needs to be, with who he needs to be with. Into that situation has stumbled Patrick, providing to her an unexpected alternative to the loneliness she felt. Now fearing the unknown she had abandoned that too.
“I just have my purpose,” Rei finally answered the shadow in her mind. “That’s all that matters. Nothing more.”
Adam looked at her with red eyes. “You’re just running away then,” the voice of Kaworu countered.
“Yes, I am. That is all I know how to do.”
“Then you’re wrong about yourself.”
“What do you mean?”
Adam scoffed at her. “You’re human after all.”
Misato leaned over and adjusted the blanket that was wrapped around Shinji and Asuka just a little bit more. Having a very long and eventful day, both pilots were exhausted and once they were taken back to the Alliance’s temporary island base in the Japan Sea they promptly crashed on a cot inside of a small tent. The older woman gently brushed Shinji’s hair a little as he slept, doting on him as she always did. Asuka, her head resting on Shinji’s shoulder, stirred a little until Misato gently caressed her head and she drifted back to sleep. She tucked them in just a little bit longer, looking at both of their innocent faces, both drifting far away from today’s battlefield.
Kaji opened up the tent slightly, careful not to make noise as Misato rose up to greet him. They both slipped out of the tent and walked outside. Kaji motioned to two of the Alliance marines to stand guard in front of the tent and then took Misato by the hand to another corner of the encampment where they could talk.
Leaning against a small building, Kaji wrapped his arms around Misato as she leaned against him, both of them sighing in relief.
“Think they’re far away from here?” Kaji asked her.
“I hope so. It’s so cute to watch their faces when they sleep. There’s hope for them left, I suppose.”
“They did well today.”
Misato nodded in agreement. “They did, both of them. Getting rid of both of those Harpies gets a huge load off my mind. With them out of the way now all we have to do is find that base of theirs.”
“Easier said than done,” Kaji answered.
“Oh, but I thought you were so good at that sort of thing?”
“SEELE’s playing for keeps. If they lost the rest of their EVAs today, aside from whatever they can do with Unit 06, they will be looking to slash back in any way they can. My best hope is that they can give themselves away more in the process of striking back.”
“And then we can finally end this,” Misato finished for them. Kaji nodded and then they both went back to quietly looking up at the stars above the shoreline.
“What’s going to happen after this is all done?” Misato asked him after a few minutes.
“Are you hoping we can all go back to having a normal life after this?”
“I’m not even sure I know what normal is. I’ve been so wrapped up in this for so long I’m not sure what else I’d even do.”
“If we should be so lucky,” Kaji mused, “I think I should go back and set up that farm.”
“And what?” Misato said in mock surprise. “Grow watermelons?!”
“Yes. And I can use the secrets gathered from NERV’s bioengineering to make gigantic ones that will win every prize for agriculture in the world.”
“And then you can charge admission to see these giant-sized watermelons?”
“Of course,” he said, “I’d probably make more money that way then if I actually tried to sell them to eat.” They both laughed at that and then were quiet again until Misato spoke up.
“I really meant about the kids. Asuka’s got a family in Germany but Shinji doesn’t really have one anymore.”
“Are you thinking of keeping your favorite house pet?” Kaji asked.
“I’m thinking if would they let me adopt him,” Misato answered more seriously. “Him and Rei both.”
“Supposing they did,” he said, “then what would you do?”
“Go somewhere far away from here,” Misato concluded, sighing as she looked up at the stars. “Try to get them back to being just kids. I could do any one thing for them, it would be that.”
Kaji squeezed her a little harder as she snuggled into his arms. “We’ll find a way to make it happen.” She nodded in agreement and then quickly kissed him on the lips. They went back to looking out the late night shoreline. It was peaceful, with waves gently crashing against the beach illuminated against the moonlight. The stars were in the sky were bright and plentiful, but as they looked at the scene Kaji noticed something in the far horizon that didn’t seem right to him. After a few seconds to study he pointed it out to Misato as he grabbed his satellite phone. Her eyes went wide at the smoke trails that she saw far away. Whatever they were, they were large and fast and headed just north of their direction.
“Oh my God,” she exclaimed. All around them alarm klaxons sounded and soldiers, marines and others rushed to man battle stations.
Kaji briefly discussed on the satellite phone what he saw, and after a few words he hung up. They spoke as they rushed back to the EVA pilot’s tent. “Submarine-launched missiles,” he said. “Headed for Japan.”
Go on to Chapter Twelve