Boyfriend of Steel

A Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction site

Chapter Thirty-Six: A Pale Rider

 

 Warning klaxons were heard all around as crucial warning and message signals were displayed on monitors large and small in Central Dogma. “Critical hit on Unit 01!” shouted Ooi.

“Ikari, get the hell out of there!” ordered Vinson but there was no response from the Shinji other than screaming. The commander leaned over the railing and called down to Hyuga. “Engage the target with all interior batteries!” he bellowed. “Where’s Unit 05?”

“’05 is on the way to the interior!”  Hyuga called back as he hurried towards Agano’s station. “Fire all inside gun and missile batteries at the enemy now!”

“But sir,” Agano argued, “Unit 01 is in the line of fire!”

“Doesn’t matter, it won’t kill either of them but we’ve got to distract it until we can maneuver our other units into a counterattack.” The controller then rapidly keyed in the fire solution and a moment later dozens of cannons and rocket launchers mounted all over the GeoFront’s spacious interior fired towards Unit 06. The massive wall of flame shot towards the two EVAs in the center of the GeoFront grounds and got within only a few meters when the hexagonal pattern of an AT Field appeared in the air around the units and stopped all of the shots cold, their explosions rippling all around. A second later a large stream of energy colored neon blue shot out from the enemy EVA, circling itself into a giant oval and then rapidly expanding in all directions. 

“Aida-kun!” Maya shouted, “Your AT Field!”

Inside of his own entry plug in Unit 08, Kensuke had sat in frozen silence as the shock of Shinji’s capture by the enemy EVA came completely by surprise. Unsure of what to do he had kept his unit stationary, and only as he heard Maya’s voice did he react. “Uh, got it! AT Field!” He closed his eyes tight and felt the buffeting of the energy wave that hit his EVA.

The energy wave from the enemy continued in all directions until it started striking all of the defensive emplacements that had attacked the unit. One by one, the gun and missile batteries blew up in fiery explosions as the blue energy field touched each mount.

“The defensive weapons network inside the GeoFront is completely destroyed!” shouted Agano, her voice wavering further now. 

“What about the EVAs?” asked Hyuga.

“EVA-04 and 08 activated their AT Fields, no damage!” Aoi called out, her own voice also becoming more nervous in the stress of the combat they were now it.

Vinson saw the tactical map and tried to conjure up a way to save the situation from getting worse. “Have Unit 08 back off and form up with ’05 when she entered the interior,” he ordered. “Unit 04, don’t just sit there, get your goddamn ass in gear or at least stand down.” There was still no reply from EVA-04. Vinson was about to open a direct video channel to Forrestal’s EVA when he saw on the tactical display that EVA-08 was moving forward and not backward.

After the energy wave from the enemy EVA had passed over him Kensuke shook his head and saw Unit 01 in front of him, a giant spear plunged into her abdomen as her captor had continued to stream energy all around the GeoFront, destroying any remaining structures and weapons it could find.  He heard Shinji’s screaming in the audio of the entry plug and despite his own very great fears decided that he couldn’t just stand there, he had to do something to help him in whatever way he could. Grabbing the actuators, Kensuke pushed his EVA to move forward towards the enemy unit and Unit 01.

“Unit 08 is closing with the target,” reported Agano.
“Tell him not to get any closer until we can form up with multiple units against it,” Vinson replied. On the audio in Central Dogma, Kensuke’s voice could now be heard. “Shinji!” he called out, “I’ll save you!”

“No!” shouted Huyga, “Aida-kun, back away from it! It’s too dangerous!”

Monitoring the battled as her EVA was being prepared, Mari was inside of her entry plug when she heard Kensuke’s voice. The EVA launcher system was speeding her sideways towards the Geofront interior from where her cage was when she realized that Kensuke was going to try and attack the enemy unit on his own. “Kensuke! Don’t do it! That’s an Angel, not a Harpy!”

“I can’t just leave him there to die!” came the reply. Unit 08 ran over to where Shinji had dropped his weapon and began to pick up the rotary cannon. Kensuke quickly plugged in the cannon interface, looking for the target reticle on his plug video display.

“Kensuke, you don’t have to do this to impress me!” she shouted. “Pats, get him out of there!” There was no reply from either of the two other units, and Mari could see on her own tactical display that EVA-04 was just standing there at the edge of the GeoFront’s interior dome. Pats, what the hell are you doing?

“Shinji!” Kensuke shouted, “Hold on, I’m coming!” He aimed the rotary cannon right at Unit 06. Vinson’s voice came on the plug’s audio, “Aida, pull back and form up with Unit 05 when she enters the interior, That’s an order, damnit!”  Kensuke was so pumped on adrenaline however that his mind tuned everything else around him out. Placing the aim point right at the center of the enemy unit, Kensuke called out a battle cry as he pulled the trigger and started to fire the rotary cannon.

Unit 06’s head turned towards the new attack and immediately a new hexagonal pattern came out of the air, deflecting all of the bullets coming from EVA-08’s rotary cannon valley.  Despite this Kensuke kept firing the cannon and for the next few seconds giant tongues of flame spat towards the blue EVA, while bullets that deflected off the AT field ricocheted everywhere else in the Geofront.

A few second later the cannon stopped firing. Kensuke kept pulling the triggers on his hand actuators but nothing happened, Looking up at the plug video display, he saw the text AMMO OUT. “Wow, that was fast!” he said to himself.

Behind him the green-colored EVA-05 finally slid into the GeoFront interior. “Kensuke, drop the gun and get out of there!” Mari shouted to him. Seeing that the cannon was now useless, Kensuke had Unit 08 release the gun and it dropped on the ground. He was about to start moving when he looked at the display and saw that EVA-06 was looking right at him. The blue stream of energy again came out from the Evangelion and darted directly at Kensuke and his unit.

“The enemy unit is attacking EVA-08,” Ooi called out.

“What is that?” Hyuga asked Maya. She used Aoi’s terminal to try and get a reading on the blue tentacle-like energy that was coming out of EVA-06. “It’s some sort of AT-Field that’s being manipulated by Unit 06,” she quickly replied.

Kensuke tried to get out of the way but the blue tentacle of light struck his EVA, causing sparks to fly as it did so. He tried to move and found that his EVA was unresponsive to his commands.  On the plug audio, both Hyuga and Maya shouted, trying to coach him for what he needed to do at that moment. “Kensuke! AT Field! AT Field!”

“Right!” Kensuke realized and then concentrated again, as his own field came up and the tentacle was thrown back.

Mari rushed EVA-05 from the GeoFront edge towards the center, She looked for a weapon that was still available and saw a gun storage bunker on the ground. Using her EVA’s feet she stamped on the bunker and a Pallet Gun plunged out, which she quickly grabbed and kept moving forward towards the battle in front of her.

Kenskue kept concentrating on the AT Field to stand it up against the tentacle’s attacks. The blue energy wave now changed shape again, however, and spread itself wider to cover the whole size of Unit 08, changing colors as it did so. 

Maya was studying the scan reading on the enemy’s AT Field when she noticed several changes in the readings. She gasped in horror and called out to everyone, “The enemy’s AT Field…it’s converting to an Anti-AT Field!”

“What?!” said Hyuga. “That’s impossible!”

“Kensuke, get away now!” screamed Maya, “you can’t hold it back!”

Seeing the expanded energy field Kensuke kept trying to concentrate on his AT field, feeling its way to maximum power. He could feel the wave buffeting the EVA and felt the vibrations but he just kept trying to keep it strong in his mind, grabbing onto the actuators as tightly as he could. Just got to hold on, just a little bit more…

Unit 05 moved at a full run trying to reach the other units in time. It was then when she saw the enemy EVA’s energy wave sprout a new tentacle, this one with a pointed tip at the end of it.  “Kensuke! Forget the field, just get going now! Run away, damn it! KENSUKE!!!”

Immediately Unit 06’s second energy stream aimed and shot straight at EVA-08. Throwing waves of energy as it passed through EVA-08’s AT field, the energy stream plunged into the EVA’s abdomen and then came out the other side. Watching the attack in front of her Mari screamed “NOOO!” A moment later the olive-colored EVA exploded in a massive flash that shook the entire GeoFront.

 

In Central Dogma the crew threw up their arms to block the bright light of the flash. Being only a few hundred meters from the explosion the force waves hit the control center, knocking down screens and equipment and shaking the entire building violently. Hyuga jumped to push Maya and himself away from an oncoming piece of debris falling from the roof.

The explosion lasted for several seconds until it faded away. As everyone else recovered themselves the alert klaxons could still be heard on the control center speakers, while the lighting inside turned to the red emergency lights.  Several of the smaller monitors had crashed down from their mounts on the roof but the larger holographic display was still functioning, and what it showed was a gigantic cross of energy where EVA-08 had once stood.  The blue-colored EVA-06 was still standing as well as the center of the interior of the GeoFront, as the disabled EVA-01 was crumpled next to it. All around them flames and smoke were visible everywhere as the explosion had destroyed most of the remaining landscape inside the interior dome.

“Status on EVAs!” Commander Vinson called out from the command platform.

Controller Agano tried to read her console and answer the question, her voice struggling to keep steady. “Unit 01 unresponsive, 04 and 05 are damaged but active, 08 is…” she paused as she saw what the console was reporting to her.

“Is what?” asked Hyuga.

Agano didn’t need to report it to the others, as the main display gave the message:

EVANGELION UNIT 08 DESTROYED

PILOT K. AIDA TERMINATED

The bridge crew was stunned as the message was read on the display by all of them.  Agano put her hands to her face and screamed.

Shaking with rage Vinson called out to Mari. “Illustrious! Take this fucker’s head off!”

“With pleasure, sir!” came back the reply.

Concentrating her focus as she maneuvered her EVA, Mari pushed back all of her grief and fear. She was two hundred and fifty meters from Unit 08 when it was struck and her EVA felt the full force of the resulting shockwave of the Evangelion’s demise, with only her unit’s AT Field to provide protection.  Hoping against hope that somehow Kensuke had survived, seeing the exploding cross burning in front of her had dashed it all and then she let the animal inside of her come out.

Pats, why aren’t you doing anything? What’s wrong? She thought to herself but she put that aside for the moment as well, knowing that she was now on her own. The enemy was still in front of her, and her dear, sweet Shinji was still his captive.  She had already lost one friend today but Mari was not going to let the devil in their midst have Shinji also if she had any say in it.

“Prog Knife!” she shouted as the shoulder-mounted blade came out of its mount. In front of her the enemy had seen her presence and now turned his attention to her.  “Too bad about your friend,” came his voice on the audio, “it’s so interesting to see what happens to humans when one of their own dies.”

“Just wait until it’s your turn,” Mari growled and then she launched her EVA straight at Unit 06.

With prog knife in one hand and pallet gun in the other Mari thrust attacks towards the blue EVA. The enemy countered by expanding his AT Field which seemed stronger to her than with any other EVA she had encountered. The AT Field changed color as she strived to break the field with all of her mental energy.

“Enemy AT Field is able to operate at multiple polarities!” Maya shouted as she continued to monitor the battle. “She’s unable to penetrate if he keeps doing that!”

“Can you find a weakness in it?” Hyuga suggested. Maya shook her head “I’ve been looking for one but this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

Vinson called to the both of them “If Unit 04 is not moving get it pulled back inside: at least we don’t’ lose it also.”

“Roger,” said Hyuga and he then gently eased Agano out of her seat so he could sit at the center console himself. The young controller slid down to the operations deck floor, still sobbing to herself as the stress of the situation overwhelmed her. As the sounds of battle came from the speakers in the control room that still worked, Hyuga started to activate the conveyor track for the opening behind Unit 04. “Forrestal,” he ordered, angry at Patrick’s seemingly unresponsiveness, “Get on the track and get back to the cages!”  Unit 04 still didn’t comply with any order and just remained stationary.

For several seconds more Mari continued to try and push through the enemy’s AT field, at one point getting nearly close enough to touch Unit 01. “Shinji! Shinji! I’m trying to come through! Can you reach out to me?” she shouted. There was also no reply from him and just as she seemed about to reach him Unit 06’s AT Field changed to a reddish color and immediately pushed her back, throwing her EVA several hundred yards backwards as it was flung through the air.

EVA-05 landed on her feet and then spun around to face the enemy again, only this time the tentacle of blue light was again active and moved against her. Mari jumped the EVA out of the way but the energy wave cut apart her pallet gun, slicing it into three pieces out of her EVA’s hand. “You keep trying to avoid me,” the boy mocked, “but you should save yourself the trouble, it’s all the same in the end.”

“I’m not going down without a real fight you bastard!” she shouted back.  In response the tentacle again struck towards her and Mari had to roll her unit in reverse to avoid being struck.

I can’t do this alone, she realized, it’s better if we can at least team up on him.  While quickly maneuvering to dodge the incoming attacks Mari then opened up a video channel to EVA-04, which didn’t respond at first but then came on as she was still trying to avoid being hit by the enemy unit. “Patrick!” she said with an angry tone, ”What the hell’s wrong with you! Why are you just standing around?” The pilot on the video screen didn’t reply and as Mari glanced back she saw the pilot’s image again. The familiar plug suit and blonde hair of Patrick Forrestal was there, but the sunglasses and hat hid something, and she only now realized what was being hidden and why. “Oh, no!” she gasped. The pilot of the EVA then looked silently towards her and then turned off the video connection.

“Control!” Mari shouted, “EVA-04 is…” before Mari could say anything further the enemy’s light wave found her.  The blue glowing tentacle struck her legs and chopped one off below the knee, causing Mari to scream as the feedback from the injury hit her own senses. 

Faced with her own probable demise if she failed, Mari’s mind shifted to the only thing left she could think of to allow her to counter the enemy’s attacks. “Unit 05, shift to Beast Mode!” she shouted.

“Beast Mode?” Hyuga asked aloud as he heard that. “What the hell’s that?”

“How does she know about that?” asked Maya as she stood over Aoi’s console. On the giant holographic screen, EVA-05 could be seen transforming: large cylinders popped out of EVA-05, and the body of the Evangelion started to violently contort from a humanoid to an animal-like shape.  The green Evangelion roared with rage as it changed in shape, its eyes flaring and its mouth elongating.

The green EVA propped itself up on its one good leg and then launched itself violently at the enemy unit.  Running on both hands and its one remaining leg it galloped like a wolf towards Unit 06, saliva building at the mouth as it roared and Mari roared along with it.

“Fool,” the boy said calmly. “Going back to your primal self won’t save you.”  As Unit 05 closed the distance the enemy EVA spread its energy wave out again and formed a shield with it, protecting both himself and the captured Unit 01. The beastly EVA-05 pressed against the field, growling as it felt the raw energy while it pushed forward.  As the two opposing Evangelions struggled out of the rear of Unit 06 grew another glowing tentacle of light that started to change colors as it expanded.

“Lusty-chan!” Maya shouted into the audio, “It’s attacking again with the Anti-AT field! You’ve got to avoid it!”

The commander called down to Hyuga. “Captain, anything else we can do to help her?” Hyuga gulped as he gave the answer. “Call down an N2 strike on top of us,” he said, “we might not make it but the EVAs will still have a chance.”

Admiral Vinson didn’t hesitate. “Do it!” he ordered.

Hyuga didn’t get the chance. On the main holographic screen the crew watched as the Beast Mode Unit 05 tried to push its way through the enemy units AT Field, getting to within a hundred meters of both units. In a split-second the field then lifted and as EVA-05 roared towards the blue EVA its tentacle struck it like a blade of light, neatly slicing the unit in half.

“EVA-05 has catastrophic damage!” shouted Ooi.

“Mari! Mari!” Hyuga screamed. There was no reply on the audio. “Eject the entry plug!” he shouted and Maya quickly hit the button on Aoi’s control panel. Out the back they could see the cylinder-shaped entry plug push out of the EVA’s back as Unit 06’s glowing tentacles came back for another swing. There was a giant explosion, the brightness of which filled the holographic screen with light as Central Dogma again shook violently. The holographic display faded out and the entire control room plunged into darkness.

For a moment inside the darkened control center there was an eerie silence. The giant structure was pitch black inside except for emergency LED lighting on the floors, railings, and consoles. Metallic creaking was heard all around them as portions of the steel frame were bent or broken in places. There were groans heard throughout as the staff picked themselves off of the floor or wherever else they were thrown when the explosive blast of Unit 05’s demise hit Central Dogma.  Hyuga pulled himself off of the deck and felt his head. There was a pulsating stickiness just above his right ear, and he could touch blood coming out of his hair. Ignoring his wound for the moment he looked around and saw the other four officers on the bridge picking themselves up. Maya was at one corner and moved slowly as she pulled herself off of the floor. Moving towards her and helping her up by the arm, Hyuga asked “are you all right?”

“I…I think so,” she replied. Maya then looked around and found a remote terminal next to the control console and flipped it open. The screen lit up as she started the terminal and tried to get the tactical display to come up.

“Captain!” Hyuga turned his eyes up to see Admiral Vinson leaning down from the railing of the command deck. “Are your people all right?” He looked around and saw the three younger women all now standing up on the deck, with Aoi helping Agano as she shook nervously. “Yes, sir,” he reported.

“What’s our status?” demanded the Admiral. Maya called back with the answer. “Eva…Evangelion Unit 05 has been completely destroyed,” she reported quickly, trying to keep her voice steady.

“And the pilot?” the Admiral demanded.

“No word on the pilot status,” said Maya. “The eject signal was given but telemetry from the unit stopped when the EVA was struck the second time.”

“Is Unit 06 still there?”

“Yes, commander, and Unit 01 is still with it. Unit 01 remains totally unresponsive, it’s as if she’s completely shut down.”

“What else?”

“Unit 04 is still standing by the causeway. Status is still Active.”

“Do we still have any communications with them?”

Hyuga looked at Maya’s terminal and then replied back. “We can still do audio,” he said.

“Captain,” the commander said, “Get in touch with Alliance secondary command and prepare an N2 strike, if that’s the only other alternative we have left.” The commander then cleared his voice and spoke to Unit 04. “Forrestal, I don’t know what the hell your problem is, but you just saw two of your fellow pilots get blown to bits by that enemy in front us. Right now you’re pilot Ikari’s only hope. Get over whatever your problem is and go after him. That’s a direct order!” Again there was silence from Unit 04.

“Forrestal, do it now or you’re through!” Vinson said sternly.

Inside the entry plug of Unit 04, the pilot listened to Vinson as he railed on the audio. After Vinson spoke there was another voice that came afterward. “Time to go,” the boy said.

“Anything from Unit 04?” Hyuga asked.

“No,” said Maya. “It’s possible that with both of them on board they may not be able to do anything, despite having a sync with the unit,” she said, trying to be hopeful.

“That doesn’t leave us much choice then.” Hyuga then took a secure communication phone from the terminal and dialed a number. “LOOKING GLASS? This is NERV. We’re done for here, fix attack with special weapons to the following coordinates.” As Hyuga started to give the map location for the N2 strike Maya called out. “Unit 04 is on the move!”

“What’s he doing?”

“EVA-04 is closing with the enemy now,” said Maya.  Hyuga watched the screen of her portable terminal as the orange-colored image of EVA-04 began to run towards the enemy at the center of the GeoFront interior.

Seconds went by as Unit 04 ran towards Unit 06 and the captured Unit 01. Unlike the previous times, Unit 06 did nothing but just stood at the center, something which caught the attention of the controllers right away.

“It’s not doing anything!” exclaimed Hyuga. They both watched as the icon for EVA-04 closed to just within a few meters of the enemy unit. Maya then saw a new reading on the display and shouted “Unit 06 is exhibiting an energy field! It’s encompassing the area for a hundred meters around it.”

“Forrestal! Look out!”

On the display the energy field from the enemy EVA encircled both EVA-04 and the collapsed EVA-01. A second later the three units were held together inside of what appeared to be a glowing pearl-colored orb that slowly rose upwards and out of the GeoFront. The controllers didn’t know what to make of what was happening but simply watched the sphere rise upwards out of the opening of the GeoFront and into the air above for a hundred meters and then suddenly disappear.

It was several seconds after the sphere of energy disappeared when Hyuga’s communicator buzzed. He picked it up and then told the Alliance officer on the other end to call off the N2 attack, as it was no longer needed.  After he hung up Hyuga stood on the operations deck as white lights were slowly restored in a few areas. Looking around he could see the damage caused by the explosions outside, with monitors, control panels and terminals strewn throughout the pyramid and the giant holographic screen inoperable. Next to him Maya continued to use the remote terminal to scan the outside while the other controllers either staggered around or sat down dazed at their stations.

“Anything?” he asked Maya. She checked her terminal one more time and replied softly, “No, they’re gone.”  Hyuga closed his eyes and grimaced: in his one time taking over for Misato as head of Evangelion tactical operations it had been the worst possible disaster short of Third Impact.  He reluctantly glanced up to see Admiral Vinson, who was leaning on the railing of the command deck and starring daggers at the now non-functional giant display. “Captain!” Vinson said to him.

“Yes, sir?”

“What’s left?”

Hyuga didn’t immediately reply but paused and then swallowed his fear. “Unit 09, sir, but she’s incomplete! She’s still unable to sync with the pilot!”

“Get it out there anyway!” he ordered, his gaze still on the display. “I don’t want the other side to think we got nothing left. What’s the rest of our situation?”

Maya replied to the admiral, reporting from her terminal. “Interior GeoFront has been damaged 86%, the internal defense network is completely destroyed,” she said. “Casualities are difficult to determine as the hospital was one of the areas most severely damaged, sir. Search and Rescue teams have already been dispatched.”

“Reroute all casualties to the Medical station on A Deck, and have Liberator take whatever’s in overflow, “ replied Vinson. “Then get a hold of Viraat and have him work on how we can get put back together.”

“Yes, sir,” Maya acknowledged and she began to work on her terminal. As he surveyed the damage to Central Dogma, Hyuga’s mind started to play back what had just happened before Unit 06 had escaped with two of their Evangelions. Something about the incident just didn’t add up but only now could it come to him. “Admiral?”

“Yes, son?” Vinson was strangely aloof.
“Sir, when Unit 04 approached Unit 06 it didn’t try to fight back. All of the EVAs that came to it were attacked but not Unit 04.”

The commander nodded knowingly. “Yes, captain, and what does that mean?”

The younger officer thought for a moment, putting the entire combat action together in his head. The conclusion hit him like a wall of bricks falling over on top of him. “Oh, God!” he said in late realization. “There were two pilots in ’04. The other one was in control, wasn’t she?”

“Yes, captain,” sighed Vinson, “and we fucking blew it.” 

Hyuga felt his heart drop: they had been betrayed from within. “I’m sure it wasn’t Patrick who…”

“It doesn’t matter,” said the admiral, cutting him off. “We don’t yet know who did what, but we have to consider ’04 hostile to us from now on.”

“Yes, sir,” Hyuga replied mournfully.

“Get on the repairs,” the admiral said, his voice dropping now. “And then get on the line to the deployment team and tell them to get back here now. We’ll work on what when wrong a bit later.” The captain nodded and then asked Maya “Did you reach Viraat?”

“I can’t reach him,” she said, trying the communications link several times. “The locator can’t find him within the GeoFront.”

“Aoba was with him, let me call and find out where he is.” Hyuga picked up his own personal phone and tried to call Aoba. Even though the mobile phone was now working again after three attempts he was unable to make contact.

“I can’t get him on the line, can you locate him?” he asked Maya. She used the terminal to search for Aoba. “I can’t find him either,” she said, her voice starting to waver. Maya tried again and then suddenly stopped, realizing why she was unable to find him. Her face, already drained from the trauma of the attack, now went pale white and her breathing became heavy. Makoto Hyuga took one look at her face and knew the awful truth. “Shigeru?” he asked softly, hoping in some way he was wrong.

Tears rolled down Maya’s face as she trembled. She shook her head and then started to break down and sob. Makoto caught her before she collapsed, holding her tightly as he too began to cry.

 

Tibet

 Asuka and Rei walked on the mountain peak, carefully avoiding pockets of ice as they went the short distance from their parked EVAs to where Misato’s Thunderbold VSTOL had landed. Both still wore their plug suits but also wore heavy parkas over them to protect against the bitter cold and wind of the higher altitude.

“Ahhh, that felt good!” Asuka exclaimed, stretching out her arms as she slowly climbed the around the rocks. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say we’re scraping the bottom of SEELE’s talent pool.” Rei didn’t say anything in reply but just silently walked alongside.   She took a good look around her, seeing majestic snow-capped mountain peaks in all directions. “It’s kinda nice out here!” said Asuka. “Great place to get away from it all.”

The two of them continued on, Asuka chatting happily as they made their away around another bend of rocks. “Can’t tell you how much I wanted to get out of Tokyo-3.  At least this way we get sunshine and fresh air…and far away from boys!” Rei nodded with her assessment.

Thoughts of Shinji entered Asuka’s mind again and she sighed and rolled her eyes. “I mean, they’re just stupid. Stupid and rude, lying, dirty, selfish bastards!  AAGGH!” she spat out, but then thought better of it and let herself relax more.  “Oh, well, at least I’m far away for the moment.” She turned to Rei. “You can’t tell me that yours doesn’t have his bad points?”

“He’s stubborn,” Rei said, “and loses his concentration easily.”

“Yeah, well he’s American and he’s male,” Asuka commented. “He’s probably smelly too.” The remark caught Rei a bit by surprise. “It’s true,” she admitted.

“At least you don’t have him hanging around you for the moment. He thinks it’s such a big deal that he’s in love with you, Bah! So what? It’s just feelings in the end.” Rei didn’t answer but continued to listen as Asuka went on. “Trust me, girl. One day he’ll just screw you over behind your back and then you’ll be left hanging over there. And then he’ll be like ‘Oh God! I’m so sorry! I’ll never do it again’ and shit like that. Boys!” she snorted. “Right now I can really do without them!” 

Arriving at the tent that was set up next to the VSTOL, the both slipped through the opening. Inside was Misato, wearing a flight suit and a parka and listening with deep concentration on the satellite receiver.

“Hello, Misato!” Asuka cheerfully greeted her. The good mood suddenly stopped when she saw the expression on Misato’s face as she listened to Captain Hyuga on the other end.  Both Asuka and Rei stood for another minute as Hyuga’s frantic voice was heard. Misato listened silently, her manner was eerily quiet and stern. As the two girls stood by, watched and listened, they both knew that something very, very bad had happened in Tokyo-3.

After Hyuga finished Misato spoke into the receiver in a sullen, very serious tone. “Hold things together until I come back with Units 02 and 07. We’ll figure out what to do once we get back.” Hyuga acknowledged and then cut off the line.  Misato just stood there silently for a while, her gaze on the wall of the tent in front of her. Asuka saw the expression on her face: it was one of sullen fear. It was something that she had never seen from Misato before, not even when they had thought Kaji had died.

“Misato?” Asuka finally asked. “What happened?”

The older girl turned to both of them, and then in a low voice said “Shinji Ikari has been taken…by SEELE.”  Both Asuka and Rei gasped.  As Misato began to explain what she had just been told, the hearts and hopes of both of the pilots sank like a stone into the deepest ocean.

 

Go on to Chapter 37

 

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