Boyfriend of Steel

A Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction site

Chapter Four

 

WEDNESDAY

 

 In Central Dogma, the spacious NERV EVA operations control center, Major Katsuragi spoke in front of a series of giant video screens, each featuring the image of one of the five Evangelion pilots present.  All of them were wearing their plug suits.

 

“Okay, everyone!” Her tone was much more serious than yesterday. “This is a simulated training exercise.  We will pair into teams of two: Shinji and Asuka on defense, Vance and Patrick on offense.  Rei, you are on standby in EVA-00, and we'll give you special instructions.”

 

“Roger!” they all replied, in whatever language they were comfortable with.

 

 

Misato addressed the two Americans. “Yankees, your objective is to penetrate to Central Dogma from the Tokyo-3 fortress city.  EVA-01 and 02 will try to stop you.  After the first round we will switch, and EVA-03 and 04 will be on defense.  Hopefully you can learn something from the experience.”

 

The two American pilots nodded as she finished.  Misato turned around and faced the other controllers on the command platform. In addition to the controller staff, Dr. Akagi was also present.  The Commander and Vice Commander were observing from Commander Ikari's own platform above them.

 

“Everyone begins on my mark,” Misato called out. “3...2...1...Go!”

 

“Okay dude, rock and roll!” called out Vance.

“Right,” replied Patrick.  “Ready to kick some rice-eating ass!”

“I heard that!” said Asuka.  All of their audio was on an open channel, so every pilot could hear each other.

“Don't think we're pushovers!” said Shinji.

 

The first round of training consisted of a combat exercise that took place in a simulated environment. Each Evangelion pilot was present in his or her entry plug, but the actual battle was waged in a virtual world created and managed by NERV's artificial intelligence, the MAGI trinity of super computers.  NERV controllers and staff were monitoring the exercise from Central Dogma, where all of the simulated action was portrayed on very life-like computer-generated images on giant viewing screens.

 

 “Okay, Forrestal, just like we went over it,” said Vance.

“Got it, Double-V!” Patrick replied.

 

At that, both the simulated Units 03 and 04 ran full speed in unison towards the simulated EVA Units 01 and 02.

 

Asuka tried to read the situation. “Shinji!  They're trying to do a double-press!”

“Ready for them!” he called back.

As the two visiting EVAs got within twenty meters of Units 01 and 02, Vance ordered “Break!” EVA-03 jumped high above the pair of Japanese EVAs while Patrick's Unit 04 went low and slid into Unit 01, like a baseball player stealing a base.

 

“I got you!” Asuka's Unit 02 jumped up to meet EVA-03 on the way down and both EVAs tumbled into the ground, rolling around and struggling in the simulated Tokyo-3 environment.

 

Shinji was less successful at evading the trap. “What? Oh, No!”  Unit 04 had slid right into both of Unit 01's legs and flipped it over. He called for help.

“Asuka!” Shinji cried.

“Shinji, you dumb-ass!  He tricked you!  Unnghh!” EVA-03 decked EVA-02 hard with its fists and threw Unit 02 down into the city streets, wrecking about half the street in the process.

 

Misato was observing all of this, arms folded. “Wow, impressive!  Finally someone who can teach Asuka a lesson.”

 

Asuka wasn't so sure. “No one puts me flat on my back!”  she yelled, as she withdrew her Progressive Knife from its sheath and charged at the black Evangelion.  Unit 03 drew its own knife and met her attack straight on. “I see she gives as good as she gets!” Vance quipped.

 

Elsewhere in the simulated Tokyo-3, Shinji worked at getting loose from Unit 04's wrestler's grip. “Roll over, roll over, roll over, there, got loose!”  Unit 01 jumped out and started to run for cover.

“No you don't!” said Patrick as he pursued closely.

 

Unit 01 turned around a corner and then quickly withdrew its own Prog Knife.  Just as Unit 04 passed the corner, the purple EVA came at him directly. “Here, take that”!  Both of them got into a melee and started bouncing each other into nearby buildings.

 

 Units 02 and 03 had everyone's attention in the control room

“Hey, you're really aggressive!” said Vance, as Unit 03 parried another Prog Knife thrust by the Red Unit 02.

“Get back here, you asshole!” Asuka cursed.

“Oh, testy, aren't we?” Vance playfully replied.

“No one beats Asuka!” she shot back. Unit 02 lunged but Vance's EVA caught the thrust and then swung EVA-02 straight into a building.  Even thought this was a simulated exercise, the biofeedback from the neural interface was still feeding back the pain the Evangelion unit faced from the outside trauma.  “Ow!”

 

“Ouch, that had to hurt!” observed Lt Hyuga, one of the bridge controllers.

“Unit 03 seems to have the upper hand,” said Dr. Akagi.

 

Shinji saw that Unit 02 was in trouble. “Asuka, I'm coming to help!”

“Stay the hell away! I can handle this!”

Vance overheard the two. “Just as I thought” he said. “Let's see you handle this!”  As Asuka charged again, EVA-03 quickly grabbed EVA-02's ankle and in one motion flipped it 270 degrees in the air and into a water tower.

 

Asuka was seeing her battle plan turn into a complete disaster. “THAT'S IT NOW I'M REALLY PISSED OFF!!!”

Shinji tried to move his Unit 01 over to Asuka's side of the battlespace, but Patrick had again put EVA-01 into a wrestler's grip. “Asuka!” Shinji continued to cry out.  EVA-01 struggled and finally grabbed hold of a large truck in the street and threw it at EVA-04's face.  Patrick was shocked by the blow, enough to let go and EVA-01 broke free.

“What?” Patrick said.  “How'd he do that?”

“Good move, Shinji!” complimented Misato.

“Dang, he's better than he looks!” said Patrick

 

Asuka continued to make blind charges at the black Unit 03, as Vance continued to taunt her. “Uh, oh, she's a violent type!  Here, here!” She, on the other hand, hadn't been so pissed off since the Seventh Angel. “DON'T MOCK ME! YOU'RE GOING TO GET THRASHED!!!” But Asuka’s aggressiveness played right into Vance's hands. ”Just like I expected. Come to papa!”

 

At this point, Misato decided the Americans were perhaps having a bit too much fun, and threw in another card into the mix. “Rei, Now!” she ordered, and now the blue EVA-00 moved in from the outside border of the environment and moved to join Unit 01 and -02.

 

“Hey, no fair! It's 3 on 2 now!” Patrick protested.

“Life's not fair, Patrick. Learn to deal with it,” said the Major.

 

Patrick took a good look at the new opponent, and saw the sniper rifle Unit 00 carried. “Double V, look out!  She's got long range weaponry.”

“Point taken!”  Vance replied, as Unit 03 violently threw Unit 02 into another wall.

 

Asuka was shaken and all the more furious at the beating she was getting. “THAT'S IT YOU BASTARD THAT'S THE LAST TIME YOU TOUCH ME!”

“Asuka, calm down!” Misato warned.  “If you lose your temper, you're going to get defeated”

“THAT'S SO NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!” Asuka was shouting but her confidence had quietly fallen.  She maneuvered EVA-02 into another charge on Unit 03.

“A little closer.” whispered Vance as he watched her EVA move towards his own.

“Asuka!” Shinji started to move his unit to her side of the battlefield.

“SHUT UP SHINJI LET ME PUT THIS GUY DOWN!”  She marshaled all her remaining emotional energy and with knife in hand, charged again at Unit 03.  The moment Vance had prepared for had come. Vance quietly counted the seconds as Unit 02 approached him. “Now!” he said. 

 

As EVA-02 thrust its knife at EVA-03, Vance quickly moved his Evangelion to the side, took his own Prog Knife and quickly stabbed it right into the upper chest of Unit 02. Simulated LCL came crashing out of the wound.   The biofeedback from the simulated attack was intense - Asuka screamed in absolute pain.

 

Shinji called out “Asuka!  Asuka!”  Distracted by Asuka's fall, EVA-04 elbowed his EVA in the face, and pushed Unit 01 into the street.

“Take that!” said Patrick, who got his own Prog Knife into a killing position. “First down, now out.”  Then something distracted him. “Wait a minute!”

 

“Ayanami!” exclaimed Shinji as EVA-00 moved in front of him as a shield to allow his own EVA unit to back away from Patrick.   As they did this, Patrick just stood there looking at Unit 00.

 

Misato called out to Patrick. “EVA-04, what are you doing?  Pursue the target!”

“Rei? What, oh, yeah.” Patrick stammered.

Too late. “Gotcha!” EVA-01 took aim with a newly-acquired Pallet Gun and hit EVA-04 squarely in the chest.  Unit 04 immediately went down, and Patrick could feel the burning pain in his chest.

 

Vance in EVA-03 was nearly done with his opponent, who was backed against a building, bleeding LCL. “Time for the kill...uh, oh.” Suddenly Vance started to feel faint, dizzy as he felt the sensation of the EVA plug swimming around him. Oh, no, not now!

 

Maya, one of the controllers, noticed it first. “EVA-04 pilot is suffering loss of consciousness. Vital signs declining 34%!”

Dr. Akagi looked at the pilot monitors. “What is going on?” she whispered to herself.

 

Asuka saw the opportunity and took it. “GOT YOU!”  EVA-02 thrust a Progressive Knife right across EVA-03’s neck, slicing its throat in half.  EVA-03 immediately went down in a thrashing orange pool of LCL.

 

 Misato knew that even in the simulation there was a risk from the suddenness of Asuka’s attack. “Quickly, cut the feedback signal to the pilot”

“EVA-03 and 04 are both down!” pronounced Lt Hyuga.

“Stop the simulation!  Recover all pilots!” she ordered.

 

 

Ten minutes later in the pilot ready room, Misato confronted her charges.  She looked directly at Shinji and Asuka. “What the hell was that?”

“What are you yelling at us for?” defended Asuka.

“That has got to be the sloppiest fighting I’ve seen since I’ve been here!” Misato shouted.  “You guys let yourselves get caught off guard by rookies!  You defeated all these angels and you nearly get nailed by a couple of cowboys!”

Asuka was nonchalant about it. “Hey, we won. What’s the big deal?”

“You won because Vinson hesitated!” said Misato, still angry.  “You were damn lucky.”

“I wouldn’t call it luck,” Asuka countered.

“Then I’d call it mercy,” Misato replied.  “If this was real we’d all be dead by now.”

“Give them credit, Major,” chimed in Vance. “They did get the advantage of us!”

Misato turned to the Americans. “That’s right, both of you just froze when you need to push in the kill.  Forrestal?”

“Yes?”

She looked directly at him. “Why didn’t you hit EVA-00 when you had the chance?”

“Well,” Patrick looked at Rei and then back at Misato. “I wasn’t sure if she posed an immediate threat.”

“What do you mean posed an immediate threat?” Misato yelled at him.  “It doesn’t matter! This is a kill or be killed situation, no mercy on your opponent.  At least the others understand that part of the deal!”

 

 

In Commander Ikari’s office at Central Dogma, both the commander and vice commander reviewed the day’s simulation. “What’s your evaluation?” Gendo Ikari asked Dr. Futsuyuki.

“Vinson fights very well,” he surmised.  “He’s clearly been trained to a high degree. His skills are at least the equal of Miss Soryu.”

“And the other one?”

“Not as much skill but he is very comfortable in the EVA, much like Ikari-kun.  With a high synch rate he can compensate for a great many faults.” He stood up from his chair, and looked away from the commander.  “Together they make an excellent team, one that almost won. “

“As far as I’m concerned they won this match,” Gendo said. “It’s only because the Vinson boy hesitated that EVA-02 was able to get the better of them.”  He took off his glasses and placed them on the table, then folded his hands. “The next round is the live round: intensify opposition. Don’t let the Americans have a cake walk over us.”

“Yes, commander,” Futsuyuki nodded.

 

 

In the Male Pilots’ changing room, Patrick approached Vance as they were changing out of their plug suits.  Vance wore a black suit with red stripes, which Patrick thought was a bit ironic as Asuka’s plug suit pattern was the opposite pattern.

 

“Dude, are you OK?” Patrick asked.

Vance looked tired but still alert. “Yeah, I’m fine.  Just got the wind kicked out of me!”

“Damn! You almost had her!” Patrick said.

“No kidding! Just a couple of seconds faster and this would have been our match,” Vance replied.  “Ikari’s better than he looks, though.”

Patrick had to agree. “His technique’s not perfect, but he fights with heart, not the head. “

“Sometimes that’s more dangerous,” Vance commented.  “Don’t forget he’s had more angel kills than the others.  And also…”

“Yeah?” Patrick asked.

“I know you like the weird girl,” Vance chided. “But don’t let affect your fighting!”

Patrick had to admit it was obvious. “Sorry, couldn’t help it!”

Vance was more serious. “Better get it under control next time.”

 

 

After changing back into his school clothes, Patrick managed to find his way out of the maze that was the GeoFront and get back to the front gate.  As he approached the exit gates, he saw Rei just as she was exiting.  She was dressed in her school uniform.  Patrick called to her.  “Rei?  Rei!  Wait up!”

 

 Rei looked at Patrick at first, who was waving at her, but just kept walking out of the facility.

 

“Wait up!  Here!” Patrick ran to catch up with the blue-haired girl.  Once he reached her, he caught his breath, but Rei just stood there and stared at him.

 

“Um, uh, I’ve been meaning to talk to you since school.”

“Why?” she asked.

“Why?” Patrick gave a nervous laugh.  “Well, I don’t know, it’s really that as we’re now all training together, I’d just like to get to you know you better, you know.”

“It is not really necessary,” she said plainly.

“But it still might be nice!”

“I must go now.”  She turned and headed out of the entrance.

“No, wait!” Patrick called.  “Please hang on a second!”  He almost thought to grab her, but then held back his hand.

“Please allow me to go.” Rei looked sternly at Patrick.

 

Oops, pushed it too far, he thought. “Oh, okay. I’m sorry if I was rude.”

 

Rei said nothing but just turned around and headed towards the train station. As she walked away, Patrick called after her. “Look, let’s go out sometime...!” She ignored the invitation and just kept walking away.

 

 Well, that didn’t go well, Patrick thought to himself.  I guess there’s always school.  But maybe Asuka’s right; it’s not worth the trouble.   Still, I can’t help but be charmed by her.  Maybe

 

He watched Rei walk to the train station entrance, turn a corner and go out of sight. Just after she went around the corner he ran after her.

 

 Patrick ran to the station and looked around. After a few minutes of searching around the outgoing tracks he managed to get a glimpse of her blue hair moving onto a boarding train. He quickly ran for the same train and managed to leap on board another car before the doors closed.

 

The American boy walked through a series of cars on the now moving train, bumping into several passengers on his way.  None of them said anything, though a couple of people gave him rude looks.  After a couple of minutes he reached the front car of the train and spotted her sitting on a bench in the middle of the car.  Careful to not let himself be seen, he grabbed an open seat near the rear entrance.

 

 

Auska and Shinji walked out of the GeoFront a few moments later.  They slowly made their way to the train station, talking along the way.  Auska was still upset over the afternoon's match.

 

“Misato-san is so stupid!  I can't believe that she'd chew us out over a match that we WON.”

“She probably just thinks that we're not taking it seriously enough,” Shinji suggested.

“Oh, right...she's probably just got PMS!” Asuka retorted. 

“Asuka?”

“Hmm?" Asuka purred.  Shinji had noticed that she was suddenly over her bad mood.

“I always thought you were German,” Shinji told her.

“Well...I grew up there, so I really think of myself as German.  It's my first language and all.  But actually, I'm a US Citizen,” she said plainly.

“Have you ever been to America?” Shinji asked her.

“A few times,” she said. “Mostly we went to see relatives or on a vacation.  There's not much to see these days.  The period after Second Impact was pretty bad over there.”

“I see.”

“But I LOVE the food!!!” she said, her eyes wide open.  “Oh, steak, and ribs, and crab cakes, and pizza, and hamburgers. REAL hamburgers, with real cows in them, not the fakes they have here!”

“What about Japanese food?” Shinji asked.

“It sucks over there. A lot of times they just slap sweet soy sauce on something and call it Japanese.” “Ugh!” said Shinji.

“Yep,” Asuka replied.  “But still, I could pretty much eat my way through the whole country, given the chance.”

“Are all the Americans like those two?” Shinji asked.

“Unclean, disorganized, and aggressive,” she said. “Plus they like everything big and showy, no delicacy.  Bad bathroom habits, too.  But those two have one big difference over the others.”

“What's that?” Shinji asked.  They had reached the station entrance.

“They both speak Japanese,” she answered as they both reached for their train passes.  “Nearly everyone there only speaks English.”

“That's quite a coincidence.” Shinji observed.

 

Asuka went through the turnstile first. “Baka Shinji!  They KNEW they were coming here!” Asuka darted out of the other side and Shinji, distracted by her, ran right into the lowering gates.  Alarms buzzed as he tried to extract himself from the metal jaws.

Auska watched the pathetic struggle of the other pilot and slapped her palm to her face.  “What am I going to do with you?”

 

 

In the train car Forrestal spent the next 10 minutes just watching Rei read her book.  He reached into his backpack and grabbed a travel brochure to hide behind in case she looked around the car, but she never looked up from reading.

 

Must be interesting reading, he thought.

 

After several stops most of the train car emptied of the night-time commuters going back home or for entertainment elsewhere.  He had no real idea where he was, but Patrick was just determined that he was going to follow the First Child for as long as he could.

 

Finally at one stop a heavy-set fellow in a suit sat at the bench next to Rei.  She didn’t budge, but continued to read her book without even glancing at the man.  Patrick kept watching and started to notice that the heavy guy was slowly making his way down the bench and in Rei’s direction.

 

The man on the bench looked about fifty, with unkempt hair and a flush red face.  While he wore a dark black suit, in some contrast to the other passengers, he was more slovenly in his appearance.  Just as he reached the area adjacent to Rei, he pulled out what looked like a news magazine out of his jacket pocket and started reading it. And Patrick watched as his hand suddenly landed on Rei’s thigh.

 

On the intrusion, Rei silently jumped up with her book bag and moved across the train car to another bench by the front of the car. To avoid being seen Patrick quickly dodged under his travel guide but she didn’t seem to notice him.  Patrick then saw the old pervert cross the train car and again sit on the same bench as her.

 

He looked around.  The car was sparsely filled with passengers, but they were sleeping, involved in reading something, or, unbelievably, pretending not to notice Rei’s attempt to evade the creep. There were no policemen in the car, and the train driver (if there was one at all) was hidden behind the front door.

 

Clearly the pervert had noticed the lack of attention in the car and he slid closer to Rei on the bench.  She had already moved to the front edge of the bench, still reading her book, but now aware that she was being pursued.  The creep moved closer until he was right next to her.  Magazine still in one hand, he silently slid his other one to touch her.  Suddenly he felt a tap on his shoulder.

 

 “Excuse me, but leave her alone!” Patrick was standing up next to him.

 

The old pervert turned and spouted at him “Screw off, kid! Don’t you know is rude to talk in a train car!”

“I think she doesn’t want you to touch her!” Patrick said loudly.

“I think you’re in my fucking way!” the man cursed.

 

The creep tried to stand up to strike Patrick but Patrick swung his backpack into his face, pushing him off the bench and onto the train floor.  With the man struggling to get up, Patrick quickly grabbed Rei’s wrist and pulled her off the bench and down the train car, backpack in his other hand.  He raced through the back doors into the next car.

 

“Quick, this way!” he told Rei.  As she saw him, her eyes were wide with surprise.

 

Patrick looked behind and saw the image of the creep, face now even brighter red, rushing toward them, through the train door window. “Foreign bastard!” he called out.

 

Moments later the train came to the next stop.  Having no idea where he was, Patrick looked for the next open door. The door chime sounded and other passengers started to get up out of their seats.

 

“Here, out the door!” Patrick pulled Rei through the nearest door and out into the station platform, both of them running as they went outside the car.

 

Patrick didn’t try to look back, he just ran as fast as he could through the station and to the exit, dragging Rei along with him.  Only as they reached the exit turnstiles did they finally stop.  Rei released herself from his grip and reached for her train pass.

 

Patrick turned to her. “Are you okay?” Rei silently nodded.

“You can’t be too careful, I guess,” he said. “I’m sorry, I was rude again.”

“It is okay,” she replied.

No ‘thank you’ huh? “You’re more than welcome.” He fumbled and found his own train pass.  “Let me take you back home.  Are you far from here?”

“Not far,” she said.  “I can walk there in 20 minutes.”

“Good. We don’t need to get on the train again. Besides, I don’t want your family to worry about you here.”

“I am able to walk by myself,” she said.

Patrick shook his head. “Oh, no. There’s no way I can let you walk alone now.”

“It is not necessary,” Rei replied.  “The way is well lit and I will be safe here.”

“So was the train,” Patrick retorted. “At least let me walk with you to your place.”

 

Rei looked at him for a moment and then just walked through the turnstile and out the station.  Patrick fumbled with his own train pass, jogging to keep up with her.

 

“Umm, then this way, huh?” he said, as she just starting walking down the street. She said nothing but didn’t try to move away from him either. 

 

 

 

Misato sat in her office playing over the day’s simulation again, when she heard the door swing open.  How rude not to knock.  Could only be one person…She swung her chair around and faced the door.

 

“Well, how did it go today?” Kaji said to her with a smirk on his face.

Misato thought to chew him out for the interruption, but she had enough trouble today as it was.  Besides, she could use someone to talk to. “Not well.”

“I heard our side won,” said Kaji.
“Just barely.  Their pilots are very well-trained; otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten the jump on us like they did.” Misato took a swig at her coffee.

Kaji leaned on the wall and stuck his hands in his pockets. “Worried that we might not be the only winning team?”
“Actually, I’m more worried abut Asuka,” said Misato. “She’s too overconfident.  It’s not good for her, and it could get her killed in the wrong situation.”

“She’s a smart girl,” Kaji defended.  “And very determined.  No doubt deep inside, she realizes the problem herself.  I’m sure she’ll work out something.”

Misato changed the subject. “You said you met the Vinson boy earlier? What was that like?”

 

Kaji now sat down and reached for his cigarette pack. He knew he wasn’t supposed to smoke, but needed a nic hit to think. Besides, he knew Ritsuko deactivated the smoke detectors in Misato’s office as well as her own. “NERV Intelligence sent me to Admiral Vinson’s home in Maine six months ago.  He was in the process of being appointed security chief of NERV North American operations, for both 1st and 2nd Branch.”

 

Both knew that NERV, the UN agency for fighting the Angels, had several worldwide branches in addition to the main Tokyo-3 location.  1st Branch, or NERV-1, was in Massachusetts, on the site of the old Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  2nd Branch, or NERV-2, was in Groom Lake, Nevada, the location of the much-fabled “Area 51” of UFO lore.  3rd Branch was located in Germany, with facilities in both Berlin and Hamburg, and was where Kaji, along with Asuka, was most recently posted. 

 

Kaji continued. “As part of the vetting process, I met with Vinson and his wife, and I met their 14-year old son. Captain Vinson was a highly decorated special operations officer in the U.S. Navy SEALs, prior to coming to the UN unified military.  Unlike many of the American military, he didn’t seem to have issues with UN control.”

 

“There wasn’t much choice given at the time,” Misato commented.

 

“Since coming to the UN military, he continued his outstanding record, seeing action in several conflicts from the 2nd Impact aftermath.  Then about three years ago he requested re-assignment to NERV.”

 

“He wanted a break?” Misato asked.

 

“Perhaps,” said Kaji.  “In any case, he had many endorsements for the position and no apparent links to any type of nationalistic or anti-UN groups, so it was certain he would get the assignment, and a promotion.” Kaji finished his first cigarette and proceeded to start another one.  “My visit was just to get a feel for the man at home, then report back to my superiors.”

 

Kaji offered Misato a cigarette, which she politely declined. “What was your observation?” she asked.

 

“Both him and his wife were very professional and courteous. But who I found intriguing at the time was the boy.”

“Vance?”

“Yes.  When I first met him, he seemed very much like a regular teenage American boy, strong and friendly, interested in technology and girls.”

“And then?”

“At Captain Vinson's suggestion, we went on a hunting trip in the woods outside their house.  Deer hunting.” Kaji looked at her.

“Deer hunting?  Isn't that illegal?” Misato exclaimed.

“Not over there.  It's practically religion in some parts.  Still, I went along with the two of them.  Within an afternoon he went 5 for 5.” Kaji finished his second cigarette.

“Who did? Vance?”

“Yes.  Five shots, five deer.  All clean hits.”

“Wow.  That sounds difficult.”

“It was.  Deer hunting requires a combination of accuracy, stealth, and strategy.  The boy had them in spades.”

“A combat prodigy,” Misato said.  “Like Asuka.”

“Not like Asuka,” answered the NERV agent.  “Asuka is highly intelligent and the product of a very considerable amount of training, but she still sees the struggles with the Angels as one big video game.  Vance, on the other hand, is a born hunter. There was a sort of ruthless quality about him.  I thought to myself at the time that, if he were Japanese, he'd be the reincarnation of Kintaro.”  Kaji referred to the boy warrior of Japanese lore.

“But ideal for an EVA pilot,” Misato concluded.  Kaji said nothing but nodded.   They both knew the meaning of her comment.  Clearly the Americans had been at their own EVA project with significant effort.

 

“Did you report to NERV on the boy?” Misato asked him.

“No,” Kaji replied.  “The issue at hand was his father, and I saw nothing suspicious about him.  However, now that the boy is here I'd think I'd have to re-evaluate everything I saw.”

Misato crossed her legs and thought a bit. “Did NERV intelligence have any idea that the Americans had a secret pilot program before those two showed up?”   

“Not to this extent,” Kaji said, fingering his cigarette case. He tried not to go for a third.  “They were quite skilled at hiding it.  But there is one other issue regarding their pilots.”

“What's that?”

“Dr. Forrestal was on record as having a 14-year old daughter, not a son.  Supposedly she lived with her father at the NERV-2 facility,” Kaji told her.

“Where is she now?” Misato asked.

“Unknown.” Kaji replied. 

 

 

For the next 20 minutes Rei kept walking down a series of streets as Patrick followed her.  She said not a word, but rather robotically moved into areas that seemed much more run down than the parts of Tokyo-3 that Patrick had seen so far.   Finally they reached a series of old apartment complexes that looked abandoned to Patrick. Rei walked into the stairway of one of the high rises, climbed up three flights of stairs, and then went onto a run-down hallway of an equally run-down building.

 

 “So,” Patrick said nervously “This is your place, huh?”

She nodded, as she opened the door and walked in.  Patrick silently leaned in after her, careful not to go too far inside.

 

“Ni….what the heck?”  He looked around and saw almost nothing.  Rei's apartment was as drab and dull as a warehouse, with only a bed, a small kitchen, and equally small shower.  There was nothing on the walls, no TV, radio, or anything else electronic. 

 

A large amount of unopened mail was strewn all over the floor.  Medication was spilled over one counter, and there were dirty bandages all over. Everything was painted (or was it painted at all?) a dull grey.

 

Rei was totally oblivious to his shock as she went about putting her book bag away.  Patrick took a careful look as he stepped inside.

 

“Rei?”

 

She didn't respond, but just kept unloading her book bag.

 

“Rei?” he asked again as he stepped further inside.  “Do you live alone here?”

“Yes.”  She put her book bag on the small desk.

Patrick just looked at her. “Your parents. You don’t live with your parents?”

 

She said nothing.

 

“Um...you have family close by, right?”

 

She didn't answer for a bit, then without looking at him she said softly “I do not have a family.”

 

Patrick was silent at first as he was still trying to absorb all of this.  Then he said “Oh, you’re an orphan then?  I’m sorry, I’m being rude again.  Shinji had told me that Commander Ikari took care of you.”

 

Still without looking at him she asked “What else did Ikari say?”

“He said that you sort of kept to yourself, but that they still considered you one of them.”

“I am an EVA pilot,” she stated as she walked over to the sink.

“Yeah, and so am I, but there’s more to life than that.”

She started to wash her hands. “It is my purpose.”

“Purpose?” he asked.

“Yes, I was made for EVA.” She turned off the water.

“I’m sure you are,” he said, “But not just EVA all the time right?”

She turned to him and said “EVA is my only reason for being.”

 

 Well, there’s dedication for you, Patrick thought. “Rei?”

 

Rei didn’t respond but she was looking at him now. Without really noticing, Patrick sat down on her bed. There was only one small chair in the place. “Rei, you’ve been a pilot for a while, right?” She nodded silently.

 

Patrick nervously ran his fingers through his hair. “Well, I’ve been meaning to ask this of someone, and I’m not sure the others would understand this. Double-V certainly doesn’t.  Perhaps you do.  Well, here goes.”

 

The boy took a deep breath and then everything he said next came out rapidly. “I’ve been piloting the EVA for the last three months.  And before three months ago, my life was completely normal, I mean, I was just some normal kid living in California having a normal life. It was sort of boring actually, but safe boring. Then I started having these strange nightmares about being inside of some sort of chamber, and having some ghost-thing come after me.  A while after that, this girl knocks on my door in the middle of the night, and then all of a sudden she just starts going crazy in the cabin, like she’s totally freaked out. She starts screaming out loud ‘What’s dead is alive! What’s alive is dead!’ and my uncle has to stun her to get her to calm down. Then all of these special ops-type guys just rush in with helicopters and stuff, and they take her away in a stretcher.  Do you follow me so far?”

 

She just stared at him.  If she was confused by his tale she didn't seem to show it.

 

He continued. “Then I get this phone call from my dad, who I haven’t heard from in, like, a year and he says ‘There’s been an emergency, you need to get to Nevada now!’  And then he just hangs up!  I get flown in the middle of the night to the middle of nowhere and then they tell me I have get into this EVA thing to, like, save the world.”

 

“Anyway,” he went on, “before I left I ask my uncle who that girl was and he says ‘sorry to hide this from you, son, but that’s your twin sister Erin.’  What the hell!? I didn’t know I even had a twin sister!  I mean, my mom died early on, but no one said anything about a sister. Not my dad or anyone else.  It’s like Star Wars, or The Parent Trap, or something, but anyway, she was the pilot of EVA-04 before I did it and she was fine for a while and then suddenly she freaks out, enough that they had her put in some kind of mental hospital. “

 

Patrick was still talking very fast, and was very emotional by this point. “Anyway, what I’m getting at is, well, whenever I’m in the EVA, in the plug, I really get this sort of creepy feeling, like, well, like it’s ALIVE or something, like it's got thoughts of its own.”  He looked up and faced her. “Do you know what I’m talking about?”

 

She just stood there with a blank expression on her face. Patrick was clearly embarrassed by his outburst. “Uh...well…umm…”

 

“You should talk to Ikari-kun,” she said without emotion. “You have a lot in common.”

“Really?  But, do you understand what I mean about with the EVA?” he asked.  “I really don’t want to get freaked out like my sister, but...” Patrick turned away from her as he spoke.

 

“You need to listen before you can hear,” she said to him, almost like a whisper.

“What?”

“The EVA.”  She repeated. “You need to listen to her before you can hear.” She started walking around the apartment. Patrick really didn't quite know how to react to what Rei just said, but just sat there on the bed.

 

“I am going to take a shower.” She sounded a bit puzzled.  “I don’t think I’m supposed to let you look at me while I do this.”

 

Patrick turned around and noticed Rei standing there wearing nothing but just her school blouse and bath slippers. “Whoa!  No, no, no, don’t mind me at all.  I’ll just be going! Sorry to intrude!”  He hastily ran out of Rei’s place and down the stairs. Rei looked after Patrick as he ran down, still only dressed in her shirt.

 

He might know already.

 

Patrick ran out of the apartment building and onto the empty street. Whew! That was a close one! Still, maybe like 30 seconds more and I might have seen the rated R version.  But how can she live like that?  He looked up at Rei's apartment as he could just barely catch a glimpse of her through the veranda window.

 

 

 

    Go To  Chapter 5 

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