“What the hell is that?” Hyuga said as he looked at the main holographic display. In position a thousand feet above the GeoFront was a blurry object that had just appeared from nowhere in the skies above thirty seconds before. The warning for RED ALERT was flashing on all of the other monitors as NERV crew and technicians hurried to their stations.
All three controllers checked their sensors, with none of them able to come up with anything. “Phased-array shows it’s about fifty meters in length,” Ooi reported.
“It’s exhibiting an energy field of wide proportions all over the space above Tokyo-3,” shouted Aoi. “It’s blocking all communications in and out of NERV!”
Hyuga moved over to Agano’s station. “Can you get any kind of reading on the unit itself? Is it an EVA or something else?” The center controller furiously keyed into her display and frowned. “Sorry, sir. There’s no positive reading on any scanner.”
The captain turned to Ooi. “Call the commander, ask him to come to the bridge.” Before Ooi could respond Admiral Vinson’s voice came from the top level of the command platform. “I’m here,” he said. “What’s happening?”
Captain Huyga turned around to face the admiral. “About a minute ago a large object appeared out of…nowhere 300 meters over the top opening of the GeoFront. So far no sensors have been able to positively identify what it is.” On the holographic display was shown simply a large blue and black blur hovering above Tokyo-3.
“Has it tried to do anything?” asked Vinson.
“No, sir,” said Huyga. “It hasn’t attacked nor has it tried to make any contact.”
Vinson thought for a moment. If the unit was a SEELE EVA it would have already tried to attack, he thought. It could also be some sort of distraction for them as well. Can’t take any chances. ”Captain, what’s on standby alert?”
“Unit 01 is on standby alert, Unit 08 can be rolled out within five minutes.”
The commander didn’t hesitate. “Get them both out there, and call up 04 and 05. If this thing tries anything I want to be ready.”
“Yes, sir,” replied Hyuga and he then turned to Agano. “Get the pilot in EVA-01 and launch it topside. Call the other pilots to the cages.” The operator responded in the affirmative.
Dressed in his blue and white plugsuit, Shinji sat against the railing on the gantry above his EVA’s cage. He listened to his S-DAT as his eyes stared lazily ahead of him. He probably should have gotten up and walked around a bit just to keep warm, Shinji thought, but he didn’t really feel like moving.
So stupid I am, he thought to himself. He didn’t want to talk to anyone, not that there was anyone to talk to anyway. Rei and Misato were both gone on deployment. Asuka was also gone, but even if she was here she wasn’t going to speak to him. Even the other children were busy with training or other things and Shinji really didn’t want to bother them. Mari had come to him earlier in the cage but Shinji just climbed to the top level of the gantry and sat against the rail where he was now, ignoring her. He didn’t mean to hurt her further but there was nothing he could think to say to her regardless and he had enough pain for his current life to try. Sighing deeply he felt like his heart was diving down deep underwater, deeper than even Terminal Dogma, and he didn’t know how to pull it back up.
I’m probably better off alone, he thought. I just mess up other people anyway. Too bad that Kaworu’s not here anymore. That’s another thing I screwed up…Before he could finish the thought the RED ALERT signal flashed all around him in the EVA Cage as sirens wailed. Oh, great. An attack. They might as well come now. Without much urgency Shinji picked himself off of the steel railing and walked over to the open hatch of his entry plug.
“Target is moving, now descending,” Ooi reported as the image on the central hologram started to slowly descend into the top opening of the GeoFront.
Agano was also monitoring the anomaly from her center station. “It’s headed directly towards Central Dogma!” On another large screen a new video cut in that showed a large, dark object blurred out by a force field that surrounded it.
“Is Unit 01 ready?” asked Hyuga.
Lietuenant Agano checked her display. “EVA-01 reports activated and ready. Entry plug is loaded and pilot is in sync.”
“Divert ’01 to the GeoFront interior, direct him to go right in front of Central Dogma,” Hyuga ordered. “How about the other units?”
Aoi now reported. “The pilots for EVAs-05 and 08 haven’t arrived yet, but EVA-04 has its entry plug loaded in.”
“Good,” Vinson commented. “At least someone else is prepared. Move Unit 04 to go out and support Unit 01 and then get the others out there as soon as the pilots are ready.”
Dressed in a camouflage combat uniform, Kensuke Aida ran at full speed from the underground training area where just a few minutes ago he was shooting actual bullets from actual submachine guns into simulated targets on the tactical training course. When the alert came at first he was disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to finish, then realized that this might actually be his first combat sortie and then ran as fast as he could towards the elevators.
As Kensuke entered the elevator he pounded his fist with enthusiasm. Yes! Today’s the Day! I’m finally going to be part of the action and not just watching it! While one of his two man security detail keyed the elevator for priority the other dropped his plug suit bag on the floor of the elevator. “It’ll take two minutes to reach the cages,” the man told him. “You might want to put that on now while we’re on the way.”
Kensuke reached into the vinyl duffel bag and pulled out his olive-colored suit, shaking it out to fully unfurl it from the bag. It was at that moment he realized he’d have to completely strip naked in order to don the suit, and he wasn’t alone.
“Um, excuse me?” he sheepishly said to the two men. “Do you guys…mind not looking?” The two security agents glanced at each other and then back at the boy. “Son,” the other man said, “I think we all know what kind of package you’ve got underneath there.”
Kensuke peered from behind the plugsuit, his face blushing red. “I know, but…if you don’t mind?”
Both of the agents sighed and then turned around to face away from the boy. As Kensuke started to strip off his uniform one of the agents whispered to the other. “They don’t make boys like they used to,” while the other nodded in agreement.
“Target is continuing to descend,” reported Agano. Commander Vinson contemplated the next move they needed to make. “Any response from our communications attempts?” he asked the others.
“Negative, sir,” replied Ooi. “There’s been nothing.”
Hyuga looked up at the commander. “Sir, we can’t just let them walk in here.”
“Fire a warning shot,” Vinson ordered. “Hopefully that will get through to them.”
“Yes, sir!” Hyuga leaned over Agano’s chair. “Forward interior cannon batteries, place the shots one hundred meters below it - set for airburst.” Agano nodded and shifted her console to fire control. As she worked on setting up the fire solution Aoi called out loud next to them. “Captain, the engineering team is still in the GeoFront interior!”
Hyuga had nearly forgotten that Dr. Viraat and his technicians were repairing the weapons conveyor system that morning. “Get me Captain Aoba!” A second later Shigeru Aoba’s face came on one of the video screens on Agano’s control console. “Aoba! Did you see that thing above you? Get them out of there!”
On the screen, Aoba turned around and shouted to others behind him. “Pack it up, now! Hurry!” He then turned to face Hyuga. “Sorry, the good doctor Viraat is taking his time with the repairs.”
“Drag him out of there if you have to,” replied Vinson. “You’re in our line of fire!”
Aoba turned from the vehicle-mounted display he was speaking through and looked at the other members of the repair team. Most of the technicians had already packed up their equipment and were boarding their vehicles but a white-coated Dr. Viraat was still inside one of the concrete weapons pits, fiddling with a control. Aoba quickly ran over and grabbed him by the arm.
“Just a moment, Captain. We’re almost done here,” said Viraat.
“We’ve got to go!” Aoba shouted, pointing upwards. Viraat turned and saw the gigantic blurry object less than five hundred meters on top of them.
On seeing the gargantuan object Viraat bit his lip. “Oh, blimey me!” he said. With a final turn of the screw he finished and slammed down the metal case from the control box. “It will have to do. Let’s go, then.” Pulled along by Aoba by the arm Viraat walked as quickly as his rotund body could towards their waiting Land Cruiser.
“Are they clear yet?” Vinson asked impatiently.
“Still in the impact range,” Ooi answered back, “but they’re moving out.”
“Damn it. Tell them to hall ass! Where’s EVA-01?”
“Unit 01 just entered the interior,” Aoi reported. On the tactical display a purple icon showed up, slowly moving into position opposite that of the descending target.
“Good. Where’s ’04?”
Aoi reported again. “Still in the EVA cage, sir. It’s…” she paused as she studied the data display in front of her in consternation. “Sir,” she turned to Hyuga , who now slid over to her console. “I don’t know what this is!” The young lieutenant pointed at her display. Hyuga studied it but he too was puzzled by what he saw.
“What the hell is it?” demanded Vinson.
Hyuga shook his head in confusion. “Something I’ve never seen before. It’s like the Alpha receptors are following two different patterns. I’ve never seen an EVA do this before.”
“Do we not have an activation?”
“Not yet, it’s at Step 2064 and having trouble getting over threshold.” Hyuga quickly grabbed his mobile phone. “Maya-san? It’s Hyuga. Can you get over here? I’ve got something strange going on with EVA-04. Thanks.”
Just as he put the phone down Aoi called out “It’s past threshold! I’ve got activation!” She turned to Hyuga again. “Sync rate is substantially low, just 12%”
“Patch me through to the pilot,” he asked her and Aoi opened up a video call to inside of the plug of EVA-04. Seated on the control throne was the pilot, dressed in an orange plug suit and wearing a black baseball cap and sunglasses.
“Forrestal! Are you feeling okay?”
The pilot replied in a raspy voice. “EVA-04 ready to launch!”
The officer looked over to Aoi. “Anything unusual in his physiological or psychological status?” The controller shook her head in frustration as she showed him the pilot’s display. “Sir, this is really strange. It’s not like I saw in training at all,” she explained. “It’s like the EVA’s having trouble interfacing with the pilot.”
As Hyuga studied the data Kensuke’s voice came over the loudspeaker as his face appeared on another video screen. “Pilot Kensuke Aida reporting! EVA-08 activated and ready!” On the main holographic display he could see the target, still blurred out, gently lowering to just nearly 300 meters from the surface of the GeoFront interior. On the same display he saw Aoba’s and Dr. Viraat’s convoy slowly move away from the center and towards the walls of the interior. The officer tried to think about what to do next as so many things seemed to be hitting all at once. He tried to concentrate on why EVA-04 was having problems and something started to occur to him.
“Captain Hyuga!” shouted the commander. “Get the other boys out there, now!”
“Sir,” Hyuga responded. “There’s a situation with Unit 04, I want to hold it back.”
Vinson slammed it down. “No time, Captain. If it can sync we can use it right now. Launch it!”
“Yes, sir,” he replied and motioned for Agano to launch both EVA-04 and -08 into the GeoFront interior.
Behind them a door slid open and Maya came running in. She rushed to Lieutenant Aoi’s controller station and as the junior officer started to explain what she saw on EVA-04’s display Maya followed along, using the terminal to call up further data and try to determine what was going on with the unit. On the main holographic projector the blurry image that was descending into the GeoFront had now reached just one hundred meters off the ground and stopped in mid-air, positioned only a few hundred meters from the pyramid of Central Dogma. Nearly everyone else in the command center kept their eyes on the monitors as the object began to change.
“The energy field surrounding the object is starting to dissipate,” Ooi reported.
“Increase visual magnification,” ordered the commander. The main viewer showed the object as the blurriness began to bleed away and the blue-colored humanoid shape of an EVA began to appear in it’s place. The head and chest of the EVA could be seen outside of the blurriness but the limbs were still hard to make out visually, obscured by the force field.
“IFF signals received from the unit,” Aoi again reported. “It’s Unit 06!” Gasps were heard from several of the NERV staff around them.
“Yes, but friend or foe?” Hyuga wondered aloud.
“Lietuenant,” said Vinson, “any response from our communications attempts?”
“Still nothing, sir,” she said.
“Boys team, move into position surrounding the unit and close to five hundred meters,” commanded the admiral. “Hold your fire until we get a firm idea on what’s going on here.”
“Yes, sir!” came back the reply from both Shinji and Kensuke. There was no such reply from EVA-04.
As Shinji walked Unit 01 towards the wayward EVA he carefully aimed his rotary cannon at the intruder, keeping the target reticle on his tactical display in the dead center of the target. Kensuke moved Unit 08 just a few hundred meters and to the left of Unit 01 with a pallet gun pointed forward at a ready position.
When he saw that EVA-04 was still stationary on the tactical display, Vinson asked the operators below “Why isn’t Unit 04 moving?” Maya had the answer and looked up to reply, “there may be difficulty with the pilots,” she said. “The EVA’s sync with the pilot is weak because it’s confused to who the actual pilot is.” Maya glanced over at Hyuga. “Both Forrestals are currently in the entry plug!”
“What?!” responded Hyuga in surprise. “She’s not cleared to be in there!” Before they could say anything further the staff was interrupted by Agano at the center console. “Incoming visual signal from Unit 06!”
“Put it on screen,” said Vinson. A second later the main display at Central Dogma showed the image of a teenaged boy with silver hair, pale skin, and red eyes. He was wearing a blue and black plug suit, and looked at the camera with an easy smile. “Greetings to NERV and the Alliance,” the boy said.
Vinson saw the image of the pilot along with the others. The command center was hushed as everyone in the room was now focused on the main displays above them. “Who the hell are you?” the commander demanded.
“This is Evangelion Unit 06,” the boy said, “which I am now surrendering to you.”
This is fucking unbelievable, thought Vinson as he traded looks with both Hyuga and Maya. He saw the image of the pilot and knew from his prior study of NERV’s operations just who he might be. Hyuga and Maya knew the face immediately and Hyuga rushed over to Ooi’s console. “Run the Angel Detection System on the target,” he whispered.
“Sir, I did already,” said Ooi, “it came back ‘insufficient data.’”
“Are you sure it’s working?” Hyuga asked. The controller nodded in confirmation. He then gave a worried look to Maya and then to the commander, who saw his increasing concern.
“That’s very appreciated,” said Vinson to the pilot as he tried to sound more diplomatic, “but I’d like to know whom I’m speaking to.”
“All will be revealed to you very soon,” the white-haired boy said, “but I will only surrender this EVA to the boy named Shinji Ikari.”
“Let’s just be clear,” the Admiral responded. “We don’t mind you surrendering but let’s do this the right way. Put down your EVA and disarm your energy field first.” The EVA’s pilot ignored Vinson and opened a communications link to Unit 01.
When EVA-06’s pilot first spoke with the commander Shinji had heard his voice on the speakers inside of the entry plug. The boy’s soft voice rang through Shinji’s ears and his eyes immediately went wide. No way, it’s not possible! It can’t be! he thought to himself. A moment later a video screen appeared in the entry plug display and Shinji’s heart skipped several beats when he saw who it was who now spoke to him.
“Shinji,” the silver-haired boy spoke to him, “it’s me, Kaworu.”
Shinji gripped the actuators tightly as his heart and his mind both raced. “K-K-Kaworu!” he cried out to the other boy, “You’re alive?!”
“Kaworu!” he cried out. Shinji was so happy to see him again that he forgot everything else that was going on around him.
Overhearing Shinji crying out for the other pilot, Hyuga spoke to Shinji through the audio link with Central Dogma: “Shinji, watch out! We don’t know who that is in the other unit!”
“But it’s Kaworu!” he objected as his voice strained with emotion, “who else would it be?”
Vinson heard the exchange and gave Hyuga a stern look. “What the hell, captain?”
“Hard to explain, sir,” he replied and immediately got on the audio to all of the pilots. “Ikari, Forrestal, Aida: keep away from the target unit until we get a full scan reading from it. We don’t know what that really is.”
“Captain,” Vinson interjected, “if you don’t get a positive scan in 60 seconds treat that unit as hostile. Where’s Unit 05?” Aoi answered the question for Hyuga. “Unit 05 is syncing up now, commander!”
“Send it out as soon as she’s up and running.”
“Shinji,” said the boy on his video display, “Come to me. Come to me now and you will know everything!” On the main image in the entry plug Shinji could see Unit 06 offering an outstretched hand towards his own unit.
“Kaworu!” Shinji again cried out. I’ve had enough of all of this, he thought to himself. If Kaworu’s back, if he came back it means everything will be all right, it will be like it was before, the way it should have been! At that moment Shinji made a decision, one that would have momentous consequences. EVA-01 dropped the giant rotary cannon it was carrying, and started to move towards Unit 06.
“Unit 01 has… dropped its weapon and is moving towards the target!” Agano called out, her voice also stressed with emotion as the situation now became more complicated.
“Unit 01!” shouted Vinson, “Back off, now! That’s an order!”
Hyuga also tried to warn him. “Ikari-kun! Keep back, he could be dangerous!” Maya looked up from the station she stood over and shouted into the audio, “Shinji-kun! That may not the Fifth Child!”
“You’re wrong!” Shinji replied back, “it is him, I know it!” and he put Unit 01 into a full run towards the hovering unit in front of him.
Biting his lip in anger and frustration the commander turned again to Hyuga, “Captain, I don’t like this. Forrestal!” Vinson shouted into the audio, “Get your goddamn act together and grab Unit 01 before he does something stupid, now!” There was still no reply from EVA-04 however. “Forrestal? Forrestal!”
Shinji put EVA-01 into a full run and quickly closed the distance between him and the dark blue EVA. At this close range he could see the EVA itself through the haze of the force field around it. “Kaworu!” he said as he approached him.
The old man was right, the pilot mused as he saw the purple-colored EVA that was his target run right towards him. Humans are so weak where it counts. “Shinji!” he called to him, “come right here next to me!” Despite all of the warnings being shouted by the commander, the controllers and others Shinji ran to the EVA with his own EVA’s arms wide open.
Controller Ooi and Maya both saw something new come up on Ooi’s display. “The unit’s force field is changing!” she reported. Maya looked at the new report carefully and what she saw alarmed her. “What is this?” she asked herself, “this looks like an AT-Field but something peculiar about it.” She looked at Hyuga, “we need to pull EVA-01 away right now.”
“Damn the pilot,” said Vinson. “Remote eject of the entry plug, now!” Hyuga motioned to Controller Aoi, repeating the order. The young woman hurriedly gave the signal twice, then turned back, “Entry plug not responding,” she reported. Maya and Hyuga both bounded to Aoi’s station and read the display as Unit 01 got to within twenty meters of the target. “The unit’s blocking the signal,” Hyuga called out, “she won’t let us interfere!”
The commander pounded on the railing, “Increase the LCL pressure and knock the pilot out!”
Maya pushed Aoi aside and keyed the signal herself, with no response. “It won’t go, either!”
Fuck it. “Unit 06!” Vinson shouted at the audio, knowing the pilot could hear him. “Withdraw or shut down immediately or we will engage you as a hostile target!”
“As you wish,” the voice replied on audio. A second later the force field around it spread out and all over the inside of the GeoFront’s interior. The blurriness around the blue EVA cleared up and the Evangelion itself could now be seen. Its right hand was outstretched towards Unit 01 but its left hand held something, and began to pull it back over its shoulder.
Seeing the energy field spread itself out, the controller staff quickly tried to analyze what was happening with the target until until Maya saw what was in the EVA’s left hand and screamed loudly in horrible recognition. “It’s the Lance of Longinus!” she shouted. “Shinji-kun! Don’t go near him!”
“It’s a trap!” said Hyuga.
Shinji, his heart pounding, got within just arms reach of the blue EVA that was floating about the floor of the interior of the GeoFront and then suddenly saw the lance in its hand. Something in the back of his mind clicked in that moment and forced him to stop as feelings of danger finally found their way to his brain. The Lance, Shinji thought, “Kaworu, w-what are you doing?!”
“All too easy,” said the other pilot as he launched the lance right at EVA-01. At such a close range Shinji was unable to avoid the attack and charged with energy the Lance of Longinus plunged right through EVA-01’s left side. As the spear struck waves of pain and anguish transmitted from the EVA into its pilot as Shinji screamed in agony.
Continue to Chapter Thirty-Six