The Inside of Kaji's saferoom within the GeoFront both he and Kikuchi sat on the floor, smoking cigarettes and comparing notes. What Patrick Forrestal had told Kaji of his more recent visions had spurred him to investigate further, and in quietly doing so had come across something that strongly caught his interest, as well as garner suspicions that the Alliance leadership were not divulging all that they knew. Fortunately he knew a source to verify his suspicions, who was now sitting across from him smoking Mild Sevens and sharing a bottle of scotch.
“Does the Alliance know there the SEELE base is?” Kaji asked his friend directly.
Kikuchi downed a glass of scotch and then refilled it. “Not the Alliance per se. They're not that good,” he told Kaji. “It's not that they're not competent, Vinson himself has a pretty vicious reputation within the force even before he was with NERV.”
Kaji tried to get down to the matter. “Who should we really not trust?”
“Sheffield,” said Kikuchi. “He's been in it from the beginning, and he's been the link between who they call Omega and the Alliance from day one.”
“Does Sir John know where the base is?” asked Kaji.
“If he's got a clue it might be because he's been following what the Forrestal boy has been dreaming up.”
“I thought he didn't take the boy's visions seriously?”
The agent puffed on his cigarette, pausing for a moment. “Patrick keeps a notebook of his visions, in surprisingly good detail for a kid. When he sleeps,” he continued, “I take a look at that book and then report to Sir John everything he writes down.”
The senior agent thought about what he heard. “If Sheffield's got a fix on a possible location from the boy's notes then why not tell us? Wouldn't that be necessary to start planning on going there?”
“That's the rub,” explained Kikuchi. “Not only has Forrestal seen where the base might be he's also seen who Omega might be as well. That makes it all problematic.”
Kaji realized the key point. “He's protecting his source.”
“SEELE's pretty fucking paranoid, as you know,” said Kikuchi. “If Patrick were to see who it might have been and that got out somehow, both Omega and Forrestal’s sister would be toast. Therefore officially he's discounted.”
“I understand it then,” Kaji said. “But if the Alliance is holding back on stopping SEELE they might also be too cautious in doing so. It may be time to move the ball forward.”
Kikuchi looked at Kaji with a narrow glance. “Are you planning on going 'treasure hunting' again?”
The other man let out a long breath after smoking. “Sometimes you just have to see for yourself.”
After the secret meeting each of the men went their separate ways, timing their exits so as to not be seen together in that location as while Kaji was officially head of NERV intelligence and security, even he didn't truly trust most of those that worked for his department. He waited twenty minutes after Kikuchi left and then after exiting the cramped storage room he walked the opposite direction, pulling out his mobile phone once he was out of the area.
“I need to see you immediately,” he said to the recipient of his call. The other voice protested and he overrode it. “No, it's critical, especially if you want to end all of this. Meet me at this location...”
Misato drove her blue Renault at a brisk speed up the mountain road as she winded away from Tokyo-3. She wasn't particularly thrilled about being called away at the moment: he had to know she had responsibilities and fiancée or no she couldn't just go on the drop of a hat. I hope that this marriage thing isn't already getting to him she thought as she arrived at the address he gave her, which was located in a very small and rather isolated set of shops off to one side of the highway.
Stopping the Renault in the parking lot, she saw an older, run-down ryokan, or traditional inn, wedged in between some average-looking stores and offices. She smirked a little at the realization that the secret meeting place was a hotel. Well, I can see what's also on his mind. This better be worth the trouble of going out here.
She walked into the tiny lobby, which appeared musty, dimly lit and all too much in need of a maid. An innkeeper dressed in a blue yugata who looked like she was about eighty years of age peeked over the tall counter of the front desk. “Irrashemase,” she greeted Misato. “May I help you?”
“I'm Mrs. Nakasone,” Misato replied, using the name Kaji gave her.
The old clerk slowly stepped down from the front desk and hobbled around the wooden platform, taking a wooden token from a cabinet and then handing it to Misato. “It's down the hallway and at the end,” she told her.
“Thank you,” the officer said politely and then quickly moved down the hall. Looking after her as she moved down the hall the old woman gave a toothy smile and cackled “Enjoy yourself!”
Misato reached the end of the hallway and removed her shoes after climbing up one flight of stairs to the back suites. The rooms at the inn were traditional Japanese style, with bamboo frames and paper-thin walls. She didn't notice anyone one else inside the inn as she walked through it. The token in her hand had a single number on it, “7”. To the side of one door she saw the corresponding number and then knocked on the door. The second after she knocked the door slid open and Kaji was standing in front, wearing nothing but a blue yugata. Upon seeing him, Misato said “I had to interrupt a really important meeting to run out here! This had better be...” Before she could finish the sentence Kaji quickly grabbed her and put his lips against hers, then lifted her up in his arms and carried her into the room as she squealed in surprise. The door was slid closed.
A while later the two of them lie naked inside the futon. Their room in the ryokan was small but cozy, and very private despite the paper-thin walls. She nestled next to his body, letting her arm wrap over his chest.
“This feels weird,” Misato said to Kaji.
“In what way,” he replied with a gentle smile.
“I'm so used to smoking after we do this I don't know what do anymore.”
“You'll have to wait for a while before you can do that again,” Kaji told her, gently stroking her black hair as she laid her head against his shoulder. “You know it's been said this is better when you're pregnant, on account of the extra production of hormones. Did you feel anything different?”
Misato blinked her eyes a few times in realization. “Well,” she said, “kind of. It's just a strange feeling knowing it's inside me, living, growing,...”
“And enjoying himself while his parents do it right in front of him.”
She not so softly hit him on the chest. “Now that's not funny!” Despite that Kaji laughed as Misato smiled back and then nestled closer. “Boy or girl?”
“Boy,” he said. “Has to be.”
“Don't tell me you're going to be one of those traditional fathers who insist that their sons follow in their footsteps?”
“Beats staying at home and learning violin.”
“My dad played violin,” Misato told him. “He was pretty good at it.”
He kissed her on her head and they lay there for a few more moments. After they were nearly asleep, Misato said to him softly. “You have to leave, don't you?”
Kaji nodded, continuing to caress her as they spoke. “I might know where they are, and our Alliance friends are reluctant to tell me what they know.”
“You can't send Kikuchi to do this?”
“He's good at getting into places but doesn't have the first-hand knowledge I do about SEELE. It's better if I go.” Kaji reached for something that was lying on the floor and presented it to Misato. It was a small white envelope. “What's this?” she asked.
“This is the location of SEELE's base,” Kaji told her. Misato was about to open the envelope when he stopped her. “Don't. Not yet.”
He paused for a moment, and then said, “Even at this stage I'm not sure who we can trust. It's better that this knowledge stays hidden until it's needed.”
Misato became much more serious in her tone. “Ryo-chan, if this can end the war...”
“It can, but if we play our hand too soon we'll be more vulnerable than before,” he told her. “At the right time,” Kaji said, matching her tone in seriousness, “you'll know when to open it.”
She looked into his eyes with both longing and dread, thinking to plead with him not to go, not to lower himself into the pit of their nightmares. Another side of her heart told her that would be too selfish, the same side that Misato kept all of her hopes for the children in her care. Kaji was good at what he did, and even she could see the need for him to go out into the field of secrets and shadows once more. Instead of pleading she just held him tighter, his body warm against the cool air of the room. “Ryo-chan,” she said to him softly.
“Please don't let my baby grow up without a father.”
He kissed her again on the head, and held her tight. “I won't.”
Among the perks available to NERV pilots was access to a private swimming pool within the GeoFront. Rei had made good use of the pool since she had first learned to swim, visiting several times a week until the GeoFront battle. Only within the last week was the pool finally repaired enough for use again, and she promptly restarted her near-daily sessions.
Rei typically went to the pool early in the morning not long after she woke up. There she would swim laps and otherwise indulge herself in the warm water, a way for her to exercise and release herself in solitude at the beginning of the day. She enjoyed the pool and swimming in general as to her it felt a bit like flying in how she could freely glide through and underneath the water, and over time with much effort she had become quite good at swimming.
This particular morning as she swam she felt different, and instead of doing laps she spread out her arms and let herself float on the water. Wearing a dark blue school-issued swimsuit, Rei opened her eyes and allowed herself to casually drift, going nowhere in particular. With her alone in the pool room apart from the single bodyguard who stood patiently by the doorway, the place was deathly quiet and there she could be alone with her thoughts.
She thought about her reconciliation with Patrick and what had happened afterward. Rei admitted to herself that she had been scared of arguing with him, and being able to put herself once again in his arms had brought blessed relief to her. What had temporarily pulled them apart seemed so trivial now and if it was from either the pain of the conflict or the warmth of coming back together, their argument and following make-up had the net effect of drawing them even closer together as they both found from the incident that they sorely missed each other's company.
Floating free in the water Rei let her mind drift to the memories of being held tightly in the arms of the boy, as her Forri-kun gently kissed her and touched her. For so much of her life she had never felt the touch of another human, and now to be at the center of such physical affection the effect on her was intoxicating. She had felt more drunk from it then when she had the champagne.
Rei felt someone else in the room and saw Adam walking along the poolside, dressed in a schoolboy's uniform of white shirt and blue pants. She rolled her head over towards him as he slowly walked along side where she floated.
“Are you happy?” the silver-haired boy asked her.
He smirked a little as he watched her float in the water. “Was it what you expected it would be?”
“I had no expectations,” Rei replied to him. “I simply allowed to happen what happened.”
“You don't seem to mind belonging to someone else, then.”
She rolled back into the water and swam to the pool's edge, looking up at where she saw the boy. “I never minded that,” Rei told him. “I wanted to belong. I'm happy to find somewhere that I can.”
Adam sat himself down on a pool chair next to the edge “You've changed, then.”
“Perhaps. I feel like I can be more myself in this way, in my connection with him.”
“It's well to say such things at the beginning, but humans are such trouble overall. Conflicts will arise.”
“Then it's best to expect them.”
“You seem quite confident.”
“I am,” Rei told Adam. “I like the way I feel now. I like him. I'm not afraid to say that I would like more.”
“Even though you're not really compatible with him in the end.”
Rei raised her eyebrows in thought. “That challenge may yet be met,” she said, “with hope and patience.”
The boy sighed. “Even you can be lost at times in your emotions, such as they are. That's actually reassuring you see things like this, if you're goal is to be as human as they. To make the journey to being a full member with the Lillim you will have to expect more than a few bumps in the road.” Rei said nothing in reply but just pulled herself out of the pool, walking to another chair where her towel was.
As Rei dried herself off Adam spoke to her again, with more seriousness. “I feel there's a storm coming.” He frowned as he felt for what his senses were telling him. “There's a fragment of me that those old men have found,” Adam explained to her. “They will try to fulfill their dream again somehow using this.”
“How can they?” Rei asked. “Is that door still open to them?”
The boy smirked at her again. “They're going to be in for a very rude awakening,” he said, “but not before causing a great deal of trouble.” He looked at Rei with more concern. “You best be careful. You're going to be challenged in a way you don't expect.” She nodded in reply, suddenly finding that she had something new to worry about.
The next day Misato allowed both Rei and Patrick leave outside of the GeoFront. This time Rei asked Patrick if she could select the destination, and he was happy to let her choose. Once decided on where they would go, the couple left in the early morning and after a short ride in an Alliance tactical vehicle they arrived at the side of one of the mountains surrounding Lake Ashi.
Their security guards let them out of the vehicle and for the next half an hour they both hiked up the mountainside, carefully shadowed at a distance by their guardians. Both of them dressed for a day out in the wild, Patrick wearing khaki pants, black military boots and an orange t-shirt and Rei wearing white shorts and an orange top, a blue hat, and hiking boots. The boy carried a backpack with water, a camera, their lunch, and anything else he thought they would need for the day’s adventure. The path was steep and punctuated with both rocks and broken-up concrete from an old trail that had been damaged by wars and the environment and now was wasting away further with time.
After climbing they reached the edge of the valley and looked below them. In the far distance they could see Mount Fuji climbing above them. The sky was clear and the view of the mountain they had was stunning. Patrick saw smoke rising from the valley below and looked down and what he saw astonished him, as it seemed that nearly the entire valley was engulfed in white smoke that was silently drifting upwards. Giant rows of something that looked like steps lined the valley walls as he looked all around. His nose twitched with an acrid odor around them and he sniffed the air deeply. It didn’t take him long to determine what the smell was.
“That’s sulfur,” he said to Rei. “What is this place?”
“Owakudanai,” Rei told him. “Boiling Valley.”
Patrick looked at the smoky landscape in the volcanic pit below them, which seemed such great contrast to the blue sky and rising mountains in the distance. “Heaven meets Hell, at least that’s what it looks like,” he remarked. “How did you know about this?”
“Ikari-kun told me about it,” she replied. “He came here once to escape from Tokyo-3.”
The boy continued to scan the scenery as a strong, warm wind gently blew around both of them. “It’s very peaceful up here, I’ll give it that.”
They both stood there hand in hand along the rim of the valley. Patrick closed his eyes and could feel the warm wind gently blowing his hair. There was a quiet, almost ominous feeling about the place, only broken up by a low bubbling sound that came from the deeper valley and the volcanic pits below. Despite that, the valley had its own unique song to be heard and the two of them silently took it all in.
After a while Patrick reached into his backpack and fished for his camera. Once finding it he looked around for a rock to set it on, and turned on a remote control sensor. In his other hand he held a tiny remote which would allow the camera to find them and take pictures with accurate aim. He set the camera down and then joined Rei at the edge of the valley, with Mount Fuji behind them. “Let’s take a picture!” he told her and they both posed for the camera, standing closely together.
Using the remote control he snapped two photos of the two of them standing together as the smoke rose in the background. For the third photo without warning he bent over to quickly kiss her but just as he reached her lips the satellite phone in his pocket buzzed for attention. Patrick groaned with frustration as he dug the phone out of his pocket, while Rei watched with a puzzled expression on her face.
“Forrestal,” he said as he picked up the phone. The voice on the other end was Maya Ibiki’s and what she had to say quickly captured his full attention.
“WHAT?!” she shouted into the phone. “WHERE?!” Maya quickly explained further as Patrick listened, his heart rate suddenly rising with anticipation.
“I see. We’ll be right there! Thanks!” Patrick quickly snapped the phone shut as Rei looked on. “What is it?” she asked him.
He looked at Rei with nervous excitement, his mouth in a smile. “They’ve found Erin!”
Her eyebrows rose with surprise. “Where was she located?”
The boy shoved the camera back into his backpack and started making his way down the mountain as Rei followed closely behind him. “In America. She’s awake and active, according to Ibiki-san.” Patrick rushed down the steep slopes and Rei had some trouble keeping up as he careened down the hill.
Excited with the news it was when he got a hundred meters in front of Rei when Patrick noticed that she was still struggling with getting down the rocky hillside, as climbing was not something she was experienced with. Seeing the frustrated look on her face Patrick quickly doubled back and ran up the hillside, then took Rei’s hand and led her down more carefully as he relayed the rest of what Maya had told him. “They’re bringing her here,” he said to her. “To the GeoFront.”
“When?” Rei asked.
“Any minute now!”
The GeoFront’s structure was designed so that the lower security functions of NERV were located at the top layers, above ground or close to it, while the more secure parts (such as the Evangelions themselves as well as the research and development facilities) were further down. Visitors to NERV were taken to the top layer, known as A Deck and then usually not given permission to travel further down without at first being property vetted by security personnel. Security badges and biometric scanners were assigned on a per-level basis. Within A Deck was also a section that was used as a holding area for visitors or others who are unknown to security and where they were kept until they can be fully investigated.
Misato looked through the glass of the holding room and folded her arms in thought as she watched the new arrival inside. “I don’t like this at all,” she said to Hyuga as he stood next to her. “I’d prefer it if Alliance security wouldn’t just drop her on a plane and send her directly here. At least give us a chance to see if we’re dealing with a threat of some kind.”
Through one-way glass they could see the inside of the all-white room, a single chair sitting in the middle of the room. At the far end a door opened, and a female Alliance soldier led a teenaged girl with blonde hair to the center of the room. The girl initially protested but the solider tried to reassure her, and then exited out the door, leaving the girl alone inside. Dress in blue jeans and a white t-shirt, the teenager looked nervously all around her, clutching her arms as if cold despite the room’s warm temperature.
“She doesn't look like much of a threat,” Hyuga replied. “The poor girl is probably scared out of her mind right now!”
“Perhaps so but the timing and arrangement is suspect. They wait until Kaji goes into the field and then drop her unannounced.” Before they could continue the discussion both Admiral Vinson and General Sheffield entered the hallway and walked towards the observation windows. The two pairs of officers greeted each other and then all four of them focused on the blonde teenaged girl inside the room.
“How did they find her?” Misato asked Sheffield.
“After a considerable bit of canvasing we got a tip from a source in West Virginia, which then led to a small medical clinical in a rural area” said Sir John. “As soon as we verified the story we picked her up immediately and had her sent here.”
“How long was she there for?”
“Apparently since last year,” the general continued. “although she was in a coma-state until two weeks ago. It was when she awoke and identified herself to the staff there that we found her location.”
“She looks in pretty good shape from being in a bed for nine months,” Misato observed, still very skeptical at what she was looking at.
Vinson didn't seem quite as skeptical as Misato was. “Young kids are resilient, Colonel. As the leader of our pilots I'm sure you're aware of that.”
“Admiral, while I'm sure Sir John's investigators did their work I still think we need to check everything out carefully with her before letting her have contact with the other pilots or the rest of our operation.”
“I expect everything will be a shock to her after being out of touch for so long,” said the commander to the others, “so I don’t think this will go smoothly. Colonel Katsuragi, if you want to restrict her movements to A Deck that’s acceptable until we can completely verify her full story, but we shouldn’t give a potential pilot more trauma than she’s already got.”
“I understand she might be useful if we’re able to employ her,” Misato said firmly, “but I’ve got my suspicions nonetheless.”
Vinson shrugged. “Then we’ll keep her on ice until we get our due diligence. It’s not like we don’t have a pilot for Unit 04 anyway.” Vinson and Sheffield then continued down towards the .
At the other end of the hallway the doors flew open and Patrick came running down towards the others, towing Rei by the hand. “Is she here?” Patrick excitedly asked Misato when he spotted her.
“She is,” Misato answered, who then motioned towards the one-way glass window. Patrick released Rei’s hand and then pressed his face and hands to the glass, his eyes wide in excitement as he saw the girl through the window. He studied her face and saw the bright emerald green eyes and the elfin features. Despite how nervous she now looked Patrick recognized her immediately.
“Is that her?” Misato asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “Her hair's cut shorter but it’s her. It’s definitely her!” Patrick turned to Misato. “When can I see her?”
“Not for a while yet,” she explained. “This was all very sudden so Alliance security is going to check her story out carefully before releasing her.”
“Oh come on, Misato!” Patrick protested, but the colonel stayed firm. “Patrick, we don’t know what she does or doesn’t know. If she was asleep for nine months that means everything that’s happened with NERV-2, your father, and the EVAs is unknown to her. It’s going to be difficult for her to adjust. You need to be patient.”
Patrick thought to argue but he knew the truth of it, as even he himself had experienced being isolated inside Unit 04 for three months and knew the shock of having so much of the world change around him in that time. He looked at Rei who was standing next to him and gave a broken smile, and she gently nodded in reassurance. It was an experience that she knew as well, in her own way. Both of them looked through the glass at the young girl who was now seated on the chair and appeared frightened and alone, and Patrick swallowed his running emotions and tried to concentrate his mind on what needed to happen next.
Vinson and Sheffield entered another room that was adjoining the interrogation room, and then sat down at a control booth next to a junior security technician that controlled the larger room’s lighting and environment. In the control room, Sheffield spoke into a microphone as a startled Erin looked up at the ceiling where the speakers were. “Good morning, Miss Forrestal.”
Erin sheepishly responded. “Uh...hi!”
“I know this is all very confusing right now but we need to get some things out of the way first. I hope that you don't mind.”
“Where's my father?” Erin asked instead. As Patrick watched from the side window, his stomach sank with the realization that Erin really might not know what had happened in the months after her incident with Unit 04.
“All in good time,” said Sir John in a reassuring voice. “Right now we need to verify your identity. Can you answer a few questions for us?”
Sheffield began. “Your full name, please?”
“Erin Elizabeth Forrestal.”
“Birthdate and place of birth?”
“September 11, 2001. Las Vegas Nevada.”
“The names of your parents.”
“My father is Doctor Harrison Forrestal. My mother's name was Margaret.”
“Any brothers or sisters?” asked Sheffield. Patrick perked up as he followed the interrogation.
“No,” Erin replied firmly, deflating Patrick's hopes even more in doing so. He looked at Rei with a worried expression. Does she not even remember seeing me?
“Where were you living in June of 2015?”
“I was at the NERV Second Branch in Nevada.”
“And what did you do there?”
“My father was the scientific director.”
“Apart from that, what were your own duties?” Erin seemed reluctant to answer the question at first until Sir John clarified it further. “If you're concerned about what was going on at Second Branch we're quite aware of the operations with the Evangelions your father was keeping secret.”
Erin slowly gave her answer. “Then I was the pilot of Evangelion Unit 04.”
“How long were you a pilot?”
“I think it was for about two months.”
“Then what happened?”
“I don’t know,” Erin said. “The last thing I remember was we were doing a harmonics test with the EVA and then I suddenly blacked out. Then I woke up in that hospital.”
Sheffield pried further. “Do you remember anything about the test?”
Erin thought and then shook her head. “No. It was just normal and then I suddenly blacked out.”
Patrick's jaw nearly dropped when he heard what Erin had just said. “That's not what happened!” he said aloud.
The general continued with the questions. “What did you do when you woke up?”
Erin spoke to the speakers. “I asked to see my dad, but no one there could help me. I was there for about two weeks and they just kept me in my room, and wouldn’t let me use a phone or get to the Internet at all. I was finally able to get to a phone and called my Dad’s number, and then called the Second Branch number but they were all disconnected. That was when that security guy came to get me at the hospital.”
“The investigator from the Alliance.”
“That’s right. He told me the hospital called him and then he came to pick me up. Then he put me on an airplane and here I am.” Erin then stood up from the chair in the middle of the room. “Um, excuse me but can someone please tell me what’s going on,” she said to the one-way window, her voice quivering with emotion. “I mean, did something happen to my dad while I was out? Please just tell me!”
“That's...that's not what I saw,” Patrick said to Misato, his mind becoming confused. “She wasn't in a hospital, she was in some other place!”
“Patrick,” Misato said to him, “We'll find out what really happened.” And I hope to God this teenager wasn't just blowing smoke out of his ass.
Patrick’s heart went out to Erin as she pleaded with her interrogators for more information. “Let me go in there!” he said to Misato.
“No,” she replied. “If she really was out of it for nine months this will all be very difficult for her. Let her adjust to it one step at a time.” Patrick bit his lip in frustration, his eyes glued to the girl in the room on the other side of the glass.
“One further question,” Sheffield asked Erin. “At NERV Second branch there was a vending machine in the pilot's ready room. Can you tell us anything unusual about it?”
“Yes,” Erin said, not sure of why she was being asked the question. “It had graffiti on it. Vance had scribbled DOUBLE-V WUZ HERE in black marker.”
Inside the control room Sir John checked off something on his list and then looked at the admiral. “That's confirmed and it was unique to the pilot's room. Highly unlikely anyone else but your son would have known that as well. If nothing else, she's definitely Erin Forrestal.”
“The story of how she blacked out in the EVA is not consistent what what Patrick had said earlier,” observed Vinson.
“As I mentioned before it's likely that much of what the Forrestal boy thought that he saw was perhaps just the results of a combination of too much anxiety coupled with imagination. I don't envy you with the next step,” Sheffield said to him.
“I don't either,” the commander replied as he stood up from his chair. “Johnny, do your due diligence and make sure her whole story checks out. We'll work on getting her back to speed in the meantime.” Vinson called on the intercom. “Captain Ibiki?”
Maya's voice came on the speaker. “Yes, Admiral?”
“Please join me in the interrogation room. We have a few things we need to discuss with Miss Forrestal.”
Patrick and the others watched as Maya entered the room through one door, and introduced herself to Erin. The girl continued to ask questions about her father's whereabouts when Admiral Vinson entered through another door. Erin swiveled around and then saw the commander in recognition. “Admiral Vinson!” she exclaimed on seeing him. The Admiral softened his usual tough expression towards her.
“Hello, Erin. It's good to see you again!”
She sighed in relief. “You're the first familiar face I've seen,” she said as she left the chair and walked towards him. Vinson gave her a broken smile and then started in on what would be the most difficult part for both Erin and himself. “A lot has happened since you've been out of action, Erin.”
“Um, is my dad here?” Erin asked nervously.
“No. I think you better sit down.”
“Oh, God!” Erin gasped in fear, and made her way back the chair. Vinson signaled to Maya and she started a holographic projection in the room, which began to play a video that showed scenes of NERV-2.
“There's no easy way to say this,” Vinson said to her. “About five months ago Second Branch...disappeared.”
“There was an accident with Unit 04,” he explained slowly, “while installing an S2 engine. Due to unknown causes what's called a 'Sea of Dirac' or a singularity was generated at the base and it enveloped everything from fifty miles away.”
The girl receded further in fear. “Oh, no!”
“Truthfully we don't know what happened, although there's the possibility that they were somehow moved within space and time,” Vinson told her. “Your father was among those at the base when this happened.”
Once she heard what happened Erin started to break down and cry, as Maya came over and comforted her. Vinson continued to speak to her. “There's more to it than that,” he said, “and there's been a lot of change within the Evangelion program itself. All things that you'll get to know in good time.”
Erin tried to control her emotions, saddened at the loss of her father but still seemingly hungry for information. “Was...was Vance there too?” she asked him.
Vinson swallowed hard. “No,” he said, and then before her hopes were raised he told her “Vance is dead.” Erin gasped in shock on hearing that. “What...what happened?”
“There was an incident here at Tokyo-3 with the EVAs just before the accident at NERV-2,” Vinson told her, himself now feeling emotions come up that he normally kept just below the surface. “I...I don't want to explain it further quite yet as we were all misled in many ways.” He thought to continue but seeing Erin as tears streamed down her cheeks he knew the girl had a limit that was not only reached but now well surpassed. “NO!” she cried out. Erin put her face in her hands and sobbed, waling with grief. “I'm sorry,” was all that the Admiral could manage.
Patrick watched all of this as it happened and felt Erin's own sadness encompass his heart as well. He couldn't stand to see her like this, all alone and cut off from her old world, and going through the same shocks he did when he first woke up months later from being encased within Unit 04. Without saying anything, Patrick left the window and darted down the hallway towards the door. “Patrick!” Misato called out to him, “Don't!” The boy ignored her and turned the corner.
Patrick found the side door and quickly opened it, thrusting it aside as he entered the room. Inside he saw Erin seated in the middle, as she leaned on Maya while crying. Vinson stood close to her. “We'll go over the rest a little later,” he said to her softly. As Patrick stepped inside the three of them in the middle quickly turned their heads towards him.
“Erin!” Patrick exclaimed.
Before the other two could say anything Erin reacted in anger at the intruder. “Go away!” she shouted at him. The harsh attack from his own sister stopped Patrick completely in his tracks.
“Patrick!” Vinson scowled at him. “Get back outside! She's not ready yet!”
Watching through the window Rei observed the exchange between the two twins and noticed something that to her didn't feel right at all. Why is she hostile to him? She thought to herself. If it's really her she should know who he is by now.
Patrick was stunned at how Erin had angrily reacted at his presence and was left speechless as he stood across from them in the room. A second later Misato came in and dragged him out of the side door, closing it from behind. She threw him against the wall.
“What the hell was that?” she demanded. “We told you to wait!”
“She's my sister, dammit!” Patrick countered. “You don't think that I'm just going to let her suffer all alone, do you?”
His superior officer hit him along the side of the head. “If you actually cared about her you wouldn't have just barged in like that!” She pointed to the hallway. “Go back to your quarters and stay there until I call for you. That's an order!”
“Yes, Colonel,” Patrick growled as he turned to go. Misato watched him walk fast down the hallway, taking one look behind him to see Rei catch up and then they both left together.
Once in the elevator Patrick leaned against the wall as Rei looked at him. She was silent but knew his heart was broken. As the elevator went sideways and then plunged down to the lower levels of the GeoFront Patrick's composure was lost and he began to shed his own tears. He said nothing, as conflicting emotions all fought in his mind for control. Seeing his distress Rei stepped closer to him and then gently placed her hand on his chest.
“It will be okay,” she said to him softly. Her voice was in monotone but her eyes were reassuring to him. Patrick didn't reply but just nodded as he cried silent tears, and instead wrapped his arms tightly around Rei as they traveled downwards.
Continue to Chapter Thirty-One