Toji stood in front of Hikari, stunned by what he had just heard. “You did what?”
“I signed up to pilot,” she told him again as they stood alone in the boys’ suite. She faced away from him, knowing what his reaction would be.
“No, no, no,” he told her, shaking his head. “Don’t do this!”
“I have to,” she said softly. Because of Hikari’s earlier reaction to what Misato had told her about the Evangelions and their true nature Toji had assumed that she would be unwilling to become a pilot. To find out that she had now actually volunteered was a complete shock to him.
“No,” Toji said more forcefully, “you don’t have to! Not you.”
She looked up at him, sheepishly. “I knew you wouldn’t like it, but I have to do this.”
Toji moved closer to her, trying and failing to control his temper. “Is this what you really want?” Hikari looked away again. “No,” she told him softly.
“Then why the hell did you sign up?!” he shouted. Hikari turned around and faced him, her eyes watery. “I have to do this!”
“Not you,” he said, now with his hands on her slender arms. “Let someone else pilot.”
Hikari narrowed her glance at Toji at that. “And just who else should it be?”
Momentary fluxed by the question, the boy gave it just a little thought. “I don’t know! Hell, let Nakamura-kun try it. He’s violent.”
“Nakamura’s a bully,” Hikari replied. “Would you trust him with an Evangelion?”
“Then how about Tanaka-kun,” Toji suggested. “He could handle it.”
“Tanaka-kun’s father is old and he has three sisters,” Hikari countered. “I couldn’t do that to them!”
“It doesn’t matter,” Toji told her. “I don’t want you in there!”
“But that’s just it!” she protested. “If not me then they’ll pick someone else. I kept thinking who they would pick instead of me. Maybe they’ll get Nakamura-chan, she’ll do anything to get attention. Or maybe it’s Keiko-chan, she’s so docile and polite she won’t refuse it. But if something happened to any one of them I couldn’t take it!”
“Hikari-chan, if something happens to you, I couldn’t take it! What about your family, your dad and your sisters?” he asked. “Have you thought about them?”
“I talked it over with Ane-san,” she said. “She said go ahead, she’ll take care of the family.”
“Kodama’s going to take care of everyone? Are you crazy?”
“Toji,” Hikari told him with tears running down her cheeks. “I’m the class representative. They chose me to take care of the class. I have to do this.”
“Hikari, when Ayanami blew up that Angel the school was wrecked. There isn’t a class 2-A anymore.”
The girl lost her temper, clenching her fists in anger. “Don’t say that! Don’t ever say that! We’re still a class! We’re still together and...and...” She pounded on Toji’s chest with her small fists but found she couldn’t continue after a few times and instead buried her head in his chest as she continued crying. Suzahara comforted her as she leaned into him, gently stroking her black hair with his hand. He waited a moment until she found a way to regain some composure, as Hikari took a few deep breaths and then finally started speaking again.
“Toji,” she said to him, her voice still choked up. “You have me forever, you know that. But please…” Hikari looked up at him as she wrapped her arms around him, “please help me do this!”
Suzahara softened his glace at her. “You’re scared, aren’t you?” he asked in a low voice as he continued to stroke her hair. Hikari nodded, her face pleading with him. It was clear to him that she was conflicted between her own strong sense of duty and the very reasonable fear of being an EVA pilot, and Toji had to admit she had showed more guts than he ever expected from her in volunteering despite all that she she had been told about the reality of the Evangelions.
“It’s okay,” he told her, smiling and trying to be reassuring. “I’ve got your back.” Hikari nodded in thanks and then squeezed him as tightly as she could, closing her eyes and letting him hold her and just hoping that the moment could last forever.
After a few hours in the air Patrick’s Unit 04 was ejected out of its carrier aircraft over Southeast Asia. As it pushed out of the C-5M transport at 10,000 feet parachutes were immediately pulled and EVA-04 drifted over a mountain pass and into a plateau that has hastily lit up as a landing zone. On the way down he could see that Mari’s green-painted EVA-05 was already waiting for him on the ground. After he had landed Patrick partially ejected the plug and then climbed down the rope ladder from the entry plug door to the landing zone. Wearing her new pink plugsuit Mari was standing nearby and waived at him to join him in a green tent a few hundred meters away.
Inside the camouflaged tent was Misato , wearing combat battle dress. She quickly waived to both of the children, motioning to a water cooler at the other end of the tent while she spoke on a telephone with someone else. The pilots had just a brief moment to drink water and catch up on the flight until Kaji entered the tent. He was also wearing combat battle dress, and with him was a Chinese military officer. Once Kaji and the man arrived Misato finished her call and then gathered the two pilots.
“We’re all here,” she said. “Any sign of them?”
“Not yet,” Kaji told her. “if the intelligence is correct we should expect them to be here within the next two hours.”
“What’s the op?” Patrick asked the two NERV officers.
“Ambush,” Misato replied. “We’ve got intel that two Harpies are on their way to Yunnan. Your job is to nail these guys once they hit the ground.”
“Sounds like fun,” Mari told her, her mouth brimming wide in a smile.
“How the hell do they know that?” Patrick asked Misato.
“Something the Alliance is running,” Kaji answered for her, “and even we don’t know the actual source.” Misato nodded. “We’re sort of winging it at this point, but if this Intel source they have is good it gives us a big one-up on the bad guys.”
The Chinese general who came in with Kaji was staring at the two EVA pilots. “They’re children!” he said in astonishment. “So the rumors about the Evangelions were true then?” he asked Kaji.
“Yes, General Lin,” Kaji answered. “Now if you don’t mind keeping that quiet for the time being.”
“Of course, but, are they capable of doing this type of mission?”
Misato turned to the general and folded her arms. “Our pilots are very experienced in fighting SEELE’s own EVAs,” she said firmly, a confident smile on her face. “Both of these pilots are well trained and will not let us down. Right, guys?”
“Of course,” Mari told her, “we’ll be sure not to embarrass the Japanese team with our own prowess.” Patrick just nodded and gave the Chinese general a toothy grin.
“Anyway,” Misato said to Lin a little nervously, “they’ll do just fine.” Kaji saved her by changing the subject, as Misato shot a dirty look at the still smirking Mari.
“General Lin,” Kaji started, “to set this up with the best chance of success, we need to create an attractive target for the opposing force. Can you move your armored division into LangWha?”
“LangWha’s an abandoned industrial city not far from my army’s current location,” said Lin. “We can deploy there within the hour. Do you intend to fight them in the city?”
“Yes, but not with your division. Once moved into the city center, we’d like you to evacuate your men outside the city itself. The division’s heavy weapons and equipment will be used to create an enticing target for SEELE.”
Lin was skeptical at what was shaping up to be a high-risk plan. “And then what happens after you disarm my troops?”
“Two Mass-Production EVA units will undoubtedly attack what will appear to be the strongest concentration of enemy forces on the ground, much as they did in Georgia recently. Once on the ground our EVAs will launch a surprise attack using low-yield N2 warheads.”
“N2s!” the renegade Chinese general exclaimed. “You’ll destroy the city and my best armor units doing that!”
“The enemy units are believed to possibly be running without S2 engines, which limits their time on the ground.” Kaji explained further. “We need to make quick work of them before they can fly off and evade us.”
The general was still unconvinced. “That’s a high price to pay to kill two enemy units. What happens if you fail?”
Kaji moved over to a map that was posted inside of the tent. “If we fail you’ll have more to worry about than a lost division. On the other hand, when we succeed and after the Harpies are destroyed the Alliance will immediately offer both EVA units in support of your own forces against the pro-SEELE Chinese forces in the region. I think that would supplant the loss of a few hundred tanks and artillery, would it not?”
Considering the situation carefully, Lin rubbed his chin as Kaji and Misato waited on his answer. “High risk means high gains,” Lin finally told them. “When I take over the rest of China I suppose the Alliance will want recognition, as well as monetary support?”
“We’re not unreasonable, I’m sure we can work out something equitable,” Kaji concluded diplomatically.
“Very well,” the general said. He then pulled out a satellite phone and started a rapid conversation in Cantonese to begin maneuvering his units into position.
After the final mission briefing, both Patrick and Mari took their EVAs and moved under cover of darkness several kilometers to the edge of a mountain valley. Within sight of their destination was LangWha, which from a distance looked like any other industrial city but yet eerily quiet and dark. In the time remaining to them, Patrick commanded Unit 04 to dig into the side of the mountain itself, draping a large camouflage tarp over the EVA when a hole large enough to fit the Evangelion was carved in. Mari in Unit 05 did the same on the other side of the valley. Folding himself into his hiding place Patrick could see trucks full of soldiers, probably men belonging to the renegade Chinese general they were they to support. They were fleeing the city after moving dozens of tanks and cannon into the city grounds.
Patrick settled into the entry plug throne and tried to keep himself awake and focused, concentrating on the city in front of him. As part of the action plan Misato had given him the N2 cannon, loaded with live nuclear-armed rockets. In the ambush once the Harpies flew into the trap Patrick would hit them with the N2s and after the enemy was stunned Mari would then rush them in EVA-05 while he provided cover from his own firing position. As Forrestal sat in the entry plug he could see the dark sky of the early morning, the stars silently twinkling above what was about to be a battlefield.
On the entry plug video screen, Mari’s face popped up in a private window. “So, all set?” she asked him cheerfully.
“I’m ready,” he said calmly. “Are they going to show up soon?”
“The colonel says it should be any second now.”
To get himself to relax, Patrick switched the subject to something completely unrelated. “So…have you talked to Puppy-kun yet?”
“Not yet,” she said, “I’m waiting for the right moment.”
“You got your work cut out for you there, you know.”
“Don’t worry, mate. I’ve got all sort of feminine wiles at my disposal. Besides, I found out something else about our Shinji.”
Patrick’s interest was piqued. “Oh really?”
“Asuka’s not his first love,” she told him. Before being able to explain further Misato’s image came on the video. “We’ve got visual on two aircraft coming straight here. Get ready!”
“Roger,” both pilots said in unison.
“Remember,” Misato went over with them again. “Wait until they hit the ground and then Unit 04 hits them with the N2s. It won’t destroy them, but it will damage both units enough to keep them stalled regenerating while Unit 05 rushes in. Once 05 is engaged, “ Misato spoke to Patrick directly, “then 04 closes in and finishes them off. Be patient!” she chided, “timing is everything on this.”
Patrick took it seriously, nodding in the affirmative. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Good, kids. Now wait for my signal.” Misato’s video then snapped off. “See you on the other side, Pats!” Mari winked at him, and she closed her video screen as well.
For the next very long minute Patrick kept his eyes peeled to the night sky above. The sun was just starting to creep up from the eastern edge. Patrick knew from his training and from being in enough military operations that attackers often favored the dawn, as the sunlight would get in the enemy's eyes at the lowest angle while the opposing force pressed their advantage.
He squinted at something coming out of the horizon as his visual sensors filtered out the sunlight. Within the next second, the targeting computer identified two fast-moving targets gliding downward towards the city. Patrick saw their broad wings and the spears they carried and knew they were Harpies. “Got 'em on visual,” he said softly. “Second that,” Mari said a half-second later.
“Ready on my mark,” came back Misato's reply.
The Harpies landed down in the city center, moving around the tall buildings and industrial equipment that was there. They looked around and searched for activity, anything that was moving that they could kill. As they began prowling on the ground their wings folded into their backs, morphing into black and white carapaces on their outer skin. Patrick focused on the monitor and saw the target rectal for the N2 cannon appear in between the two white enemy EVAs. The rectal's circular gunsight changed color from red to green, indicating an optimum shot.
If nothing else I'll go down as the youngest kid to ever fire a nuke, Patrick thought to himself.
“Unit 04, now!” Misato shouted over the audio. Patrick quickly pulled on the throne's hand actuators and could feel the recoil of the rocket leaving the launcher.
Fired from three thousand meters away, the N2 rocket only took a few seconds to reach its target. Both Harpies turned their heads, alerted by the flash of the rocket motor starting once it had escaped the launch tube. Swiveling towards the oncoming rocket, they spread their wings out and then both of the EVAs projected AT fields directly in front of them.
For conventional weapons the Evangelions' AT fields would have been sufficient to knock the rocket out once it struck the field. Being originally conceived to use on Angels, the rocket that EVA-04 had fired was designed by NERV to account for this and the moment it made contact it initially detonated one N2 warhead carried in its nose. The AT fields absorbed the energy in the explosion but in doing so the fields themselves were folded back towards the EVA. In the ensuing impact a second warhead, placed at the middle of the rocket, then exploded. Specially designed to function like a “shaped charge” it blasted its explosive energy in a narrow cone right towards the Harpies. Because their AT Field had already been reduced from the prior blast the energy from the second, larger N2 warhead was able to punch right through the AT field for the extremely brief moment that it was curved in response to the first explosion.
As the cone of intense fire struck the two Harpies they screamed in agony as the city they were standing in the middle of was blasted away by the explosion. Dark clouds of fire, mass, and smoke covered the horizon as the reaction of N2s with the EVA's AT fields absorbed nearly everything in Patrick's vision. The air itself seemed to rumble loudly with the blast as Patrick squinted from the brightness of the explosions. After the last explosion dissipated he opened up his eyes more and tried to make something out from inside the clouds of smoke and debris. Patrick had hoped that a blast as violent as that could kill both of the Harpies, but he knew better.
“Waiting on visual for targets,” Misato's voice came out on the speaker. A few very long seconds went by as the black cloud engulfing the city started to thin out. Through the shadows inside Patrick could make out just a couple of silhouettes of something still standing up in the middle of the now devastated city.
“Visual on targets,” he called out loudly. “Still standing!”
“Unit 05, go!” ordered Misato.
To EVA-04's right on the opposite side of the mountain valley Unit 05 came bursting out of her camouflage net. Running at top speed with progressive knives in both hands, EVA-05 quickly rushed into the city ruins and straight towards the two silhouettes.
“Patrick, cover her!” the colonel ordered, and Patrick dropped the N2 cannon and unslung the Pallet Gun mounted on his EVA's back. As Mari rushed Unit 05 straight towards the two Harpies, Patrick quickly fired bursts from his pulse rifle towards the enemy EVAs.
Racing to face both of the enemy units Mari leapt Unit 05 over several ruined buildings and then dove right into the two Harpies that were standing in front of her. Their skin was black but beginning to turn back to white as they slowly recovered the blast damage. Landing in between both EVAs, she slashed hard with the progressive knife in her right hand at one Harpy's neck, bringing off its head as LCL splattered all over. Moving swiftly to her left she took her other progressive knife and stabbed it in the heart of the second Harpy. It fell over backwards as LCL sprayed out of its' back.
Not wasting any time Mari took a lance that was mounted on Unit 05’s back and pulled it out of its holder. As the Harpy to her right was wriggling on the ground and trying to grow back its head she plunged the lance straight through the chest and all the way to the entry plug in the rear. More LCL came splashing out like a geyser as she stabbed at it several times to ensure it was dead.
Behind Unit 05 came walking Unit 04, Pallet Gun in hand as Patrick piloted the EVA to where the downed Harpies lay in the middle of the devastated city center. As Patrick reached where Mari was standing he could see that the Harpy on the ground to the left of her was squirming, its body trying to recover the damage inflicted by EVA-05’s strike.
“Pats,” Mari cheerfully called out to Patrick while she continued stabbing at the Harpy she was on top of, “Be a dear and put that bugger down, would you?”
“My pleasure, Lusty!” Patrick replied with a grin. He aimed Unit 04’s Pallet Gun straight at the head of the Harpy on the ground while it struggled and put three rounds point-blank into its head. The eyeless skull exploded as LCL gurgled out of its oversized mouth. Patrick winced a little at the sickening aftermath of tissue, organs, and fluid that oozed on the ground.
After Mari finished with the first kill she moved over to the second, now headless Harpy and again stabbed it with the Lance, striking several times until she was sure the entry plug was cut in pieces. The white beast writhed for a few last seconds then went limp. EVA-05 kicked it hard another time just to check for any life left in the giant. Satisfied that there was none, Mari leaned back in her throne and let out a big sigh of relief.
Patrick did the same, greatly relieved that this most recent battle had ended so favorably. “Finally, an easy one,” he told Mari as he opened up a video channel to her.
“Easy for you to say,” she quipped, “you’re the one with the big gun.”
“I thought you totally smashed those guys,” he complimented the other pilot. “I’m just glad we can walk away from this without…” As Patrick spoke something in his mind suddenly flashed and he squinted in pain.
“Pats, what is it?” Mari said in concern.
“I…it’s…” he struggled to capture the images running in his brain. The boy concentrated hard, trying to sift through the cascade of light and motion that ran through his mind’s eye until he thought he could actually see something in front of him.
“EVA-04,” Misato’s voice now came on through a second video link, “what’s wrong?”
Patrick opened his eyes and saw what looked like the inside of a dark fortress. There was little light as he saw his body walk down a narrow corridor, with concrete walls and a steel railing on the side. He could make out the images of others who were walking around him, some looked like soldiers with rifles and helmets while others were technicians or perhaps officers. He could hear different languages around him which seemed like German or Russian or something that sounded vaguely European. Other voices nearby sounded like Chinese or even Japanese. As he moved down the hall he tried to make out the writing on the walls but couldn’t. Knowing what it was that he was probably seeing, he concentrated as hard as he possibly could, with only one word on his mind. Erin…
Following the image he could hear voices next to him, this time speaking English. Patrick tried as hard as he could to listen in to some man’s voice speaking to his twin but heard only a muffled sound, followed by first screaming and by something suddenly shaking him violently inside the entry plug.
“PATS!” Mari screamed again. “LOOK OUT!!!”
Patrick found himself thrown off the throne and thumped against the entry plug wall as the EVA was thrown against the ground by something that he couldn’t see. He struggled to get back onto the throne but again there was a rapid thrust and he was tossed against the entry plug wall a second time.
Mari rushed her own EVA to confront Unit 04’s attacker. Standing in front of her was another Evangelion unit, this one painted dark blue with yellow stripes. Wings were mounted on its helmet and there was an overall angular appearance to it.
Out of the Blue EVA’s rear came a tail that glowed in luminescent blue. The tail had wrapped itself around EVA-04’s left leg and was smashing the unit against the wreckage of buildings in the ruined city. All around them Mari noticed that the air itself seemed blurry.
“Unit 05,” Misato called out. “What’s happening?”
Mari pointed her lance in front of her and struggled to get closer to the Blue EVA, something she was finding difficult to do. “I think this might be Colonel Kaji’s missing EVA,” she answered back.
“We don’t have anything confirmed on visual but there’s a large energy field where you both are.”
“It’s some sort of reinforced AT field,” Mari grunted as she tried to push EVA-05’s way through, struggling to push forward through what felt like an invisible wall.
Misato tried to communicate with Patrick. “EVA-04! Unit 04! What’s going on? Please answer!”
Forrestal struggled to get back on the control thrown as his EVA was again tossed against the ground. “Something’s got a hold of us!” he shouted back. As he climbed back into the throne he could see the glowing tentacle-like tail on the visual monitors. “This guy’s grabbed onto me!”
“Use your prog knife to free yourself,” Misato ordered. “Mari, can you get through to him?”
Illustrious pushed Unit 05 with all of her will but still found it slow progress against the enemy EVA’s mysterious AT field. “It’s slow as a moving through a bog!” she called back to Misato.
Standing in the control tent and monitoring the battle from there, Misato studied the situation and tried to work up a tactical solution. This was the first time encountering SEELE’s mysterious new EVA and with nothing known about she racked her mind to work out what to do. “Mari,” she ordered, “go back and get the N2 cannon! Hurry!”
“Acknowledged,” Mari answered and she pulled away from the AT field, racing her EVA to reach Unit 04’s original firing position.
Inside of Unit 04’s plug Patrick commanded his EVA to deploy its Progressive Knife. Grabbing it from its shoulder mount, he repeatedly stabbed the glowing blue tentacle until it cut loose. He shook his head to clear out his mind as his EVA was thrown back, and as he looked at the monitors he saw the giant blue EVA right in front of him. The glowing tail had pulled behind it and the end was now morphing into something jagged and sharp, and it was being pointed straight at him.
“Got the cannon!” Mari said over the audio. Misato immediately replied “Fire at the enemy unit, point-blank! EVA-04! AT Field at full!”
“Roger,” Patrick shouted as he crossed EVA-04’s arms in front of him in a defensive stance, pushing her to project the AT field full strength in front of him. He could see the tip of the blue EVA’s glowing tail completely form into a needle-like dagger. A second later, the needle shot straight at him. Patrick closed his eyes anticipating the strike, but kept his ground nonetheless.
“Rocket off!” Mari shouted as Unit 04 fired the N2 cannon from a kneeling position. The rocket took a second to reach the enemy AT field. It blasted violently on contact, with a fireball that enveloped everything within sight of her. Mari watched carefully as the black smoke dissipated from the force of the explosion contacting with both of the EVA’s AT Fields.
“Unit 05, do you still have visual contact?”
Mari waited another second to report as she tried to peer through the smoke. “I can’t see yet,” she said. “Come on, Pats! Where are you!” she whispered under her breath.
Silhouettes could be seen as the effects from the newer explosion receded. EVA-04 was face down on the ground, the enemy EVA standing a hundred meters away from it. She saw the EVA turn its head towards her and then something came over the plug audio, something that sounded like laugher.
“Playtime’s over for now,” a boy’s voice said. Mari watched as the enemy EVA suddenly rose into the air, hovering over the ground. A moment later it bounded up into the atmosphere and disappeared into the grey clouds above.
Not waiting to see where the blue Evangelion went, Mari rushed Unit 05 to where Unit 04 was keeled over, surrounded by the wreckage of burnt steel and concrete of the remnants of the city. “Pats! Pats!” she cried out. “Are you okay?” There was silence for a second until she could see the silver-white Unit 04 start to push itself off the ground.
“Lusty,” Patrick said to her on audio, “next time I’ll roll over so you can roast me evenly.” Mari breathed a deep sigh of relief, a smile coming to her face. “I guess you’re all right then!”
“I guess so,” he said as he still caught his breath. Misato opened up a channel to Unit 04. “EVA-04, report!”
“Yes, Colonel,” Patrick reported. “I’m fine, I think anyway.” He could see Misato’s face on the video screen she had opened up. She was not happy.
“Come back to the command post and report to me immediately,” Misato said in a serious tone. She then closed the channel before Patrick should respond. He thought to try to open it up again and argue with her but knew the reason why she was angry. Time to face the music on this, he thought to himself as he looked up at where the blue EVA had escaped into the clouds.
Thirty minutes later both Patrick and Mari stood in the command tent as Misato vented her anger at the boy while Kaji looked on. “What the hell were you doing?” she shouted at Patrick. “You let the enemy get right behind you!”
“I’m sorry, I…” Patrick started to reply but Mari interrupted him. “It’s not entirely his fault,” she defended. “The enemy EVA didn’t show up on any sensors including visual until he was right behind him. To be fair I didn’t see him show up until a moment before.”
Misato beat the reply back. “That’s no excuse,” she said, “you can’t just expect any enemy to make themselves known to you.” She pointed a finger at Patrick. “You were distracted by something just before he hit. What was it?”
“I had an image of Erin,” he blurted out.
“You were daydreaming,” Misato accused.
“What, no!” Patrick argued back. “It was the EVA! She’s got us linked together! At that moment I could see what she was seeing.”
The colonel shook her head. “Wait. What?”
“Let me explain. I get these things as dreams, it’s almost always at night but somehow there are times that I can see what she sees. This particular time it was really strong, and not while I was sleeping. That’s never happened before!”
Misato was still skeptical. “And it came right after killing those two Harpies.”
“Yes! Right afterwards there was this really strong vibe and the EVA was channeling the image to me.”
“Are you so sure it was the EVA doing this?” Kaji interjected.
“It’s has to be,” Patrick declared. “I’ve had these type of visions for months, even before I was a pilot but always when I was asleep. That is, until now. According to Vance, Erin would get the same visions with me so the EVA has to be the link somehow!”
Faced with what Patrick was describing to him Misato took a step back and thought about what he was saying. While no other pilot had ever encountered similar phenomena as the American boy had just described to her she couldn’t put it past EVA to do this sort of thing despite how impossible it sounded. She looked up at Kaji who gave her a concerned glance and then moved closer to Patrick. “How detailed are these visions that you get?” he asked the boy.
Patrick thought for a moment. “Usually not very. It’s like looking through fog a lot of the time, you can hear voices but not clear enough to make out what’s being said. A couple of times it’s been really clear, though.”
Kaji rubbed his chin as he questioned him further. “Do you see your sister in these images?”
“That’s just it,” said Patrick as he tried to describe what he saw. “It’s like I’m actually her! For that moment I can see through her eyes.”
“If I pounded your skull would she feel it as well? Like Corsican Twins?” Mari playfully hit Patrick on the head to his annoyance. He scowled back at her “be serious, would you?”
“I was.” Mari replied.
Patrick continued to answer their question. “I don’t think so, mostly it’s like a playback when I get the nightmares at night. This was the first time it felt live. The other thing is that this time I could really feel what she was feeling.”
“Which was?” the agent asked him.
“Fear,” Patrick said softly, “and anger.”
Kaji turned to Misato, “this is all very intriguing. Patrick? Have you ever mentioned this to anyone before?”
“I’ve brought it up earlier with Rei and Shinji,” he said, “and also General Sheffield. I thought maybe there would be something in the dreams that could help him find my sister.” The expression in the boy’s eyes began to look more desperate. “Is he any closer to finding her?”
“Unfortunately not,” Kaji told him, “at least nothing I’m aware of. Katsuragi, I’d like to discuss this more with Mr. Forrestal a bit later. I’m very interested in what he might have to say.” Misato nodded at him. “No problem,” she told him. Patrick felt a bit relieved but then Misato gave him another stern look, “I understand what might be going on with you and the EVA,” she warned Patrick, “but this is combat and I can’t have my pilots not focused on their jobs. You need to find a way to deal with this.”
“Understood,” Patrick said, “but Colonel?” he said, trying to muscle up some more courage. “Anyway after we get back to NERV I could maybe get some leave?”
“For how long?”
“I don’t know,” he replied, “but…I gotta find Erin.”
Misato softened her expression. “Patrick, what you do with EVA is important. We can’t spare you for something like that.”
“But she’s in danger!” Forrestal protested. “I can’t let her be like that when I’m out here…”
Misato walked over and put her hand on Patrick’s shoulder. “I can understand it,” she said to him. “So let us help.”
“If you can provide me with as much detail as possible,” Kaji told him, “you have my word that I will find your sister and bring her back to safety.”
The boy was encouraged by the support. “Okay, then,” he told them. Misato’s mood changed and she warmed up to them. “You kids go to the mess and get something to eat,” she told him, “and then get some rest. We’re not completely done here yet so be ready to go out again when we tell you.”
“Yes, ma’am,” both Mari and Patrick said and then they hurried out of the tent. Kaji watched them leave and then waited until they and everyone else around them was out of range. “Very interesting,” he told Misato.
“Do you believe him?” she asked Kaji.
“I wouldn’t underestimate anything EVA does,” he replied, “and he certainly seems convinced of what he sees and experiences. If Sheffield’s already gotten his story I’m more concerned about why the Alliance has chosen to not reveal this to us directly.” Kaji put his hand on Misato’s shoulder and she relaxed, leaning into him as he caressed her hair. “If the girl was abducted by our opponents and the boy has a direct link to her, it could give us clues to where they’re hiding.”
Go on to Chapter Twenty-One