Misato quickly bounded up the gantry to the G6 and then dropped into one of two plush leather seats in the passenger cabin. She pulled on her seatbelts and then pulled out her mobile phone one last time before the plane departed.
“Hyuga, I’ll be gone for about 12 to 14 hours. Keep me posted for anything that pops up, will you?”
“Will do, Katsuragi-san.”
“Anything from Maya?”
“She’s been going at it pretty hard in the MAGI’s control cell, but so far nothing’s been successful.”
“Tell her to keep trying, if we have no choice we’ll consider a hard reset. We may have to evacuate the GeoFront if we do that.”
“Geez,” Hyuga exclaimed. “We’re a mess already!”
“I know it but there’s no tomorrow on this. Contact me if she gets anything.”
“We will. Good luck yourself!”
“Thanks,” said Misato and she then hung up the phone. As she closed the phone’s case Misato turned around and suddenly noticed that Rei was now seated opposite to her inside of the G6’s cabin. Like Misato Rei wore the new NERV service uniform.
“Rei! What are you doing here?”
“You are going to see the Commander,” she asked in an emotionless, monotone voice.
Word gets around fast. “Yes. Now we have no choice I’m afraid.”
Rei’s face was stern. “He will not respond to you,” she told Misato, “or he will be deceptive.”
Misato could see where Rei was leading by her presence in the jet. “And you think that you can actually reach him?”
“No,” Misato told her. “I won’t allow it. He’s too dangerous, especially where you’re concerned.”
Their conversation was interrupted by Wellington, who now bolted into the G6’s interior. “There she is!” she told Misato as she moved towards their seats. “She slipped her escorts and somehow spoofed the tracker.” Wellington moved to remove Rei’s seat restraints. “I’m sorry colonel, I’ll get her back to the GeoFront.”
The older officer took another look at Rei and saw the determination on her face. “We need all the help we can get, I think.” She waved Wellington off from approaching Rei and again picked up her mobile phone and dialed it.
“Asuka? It’s me. I need you to post a double-shift on patrol, I have to borrow Rei for a bit.” From the voice at the other end a stream of obscenities soon followed as Misato tried to calm her down. “I know, I know. She’ll relieve you on post as soon as we’re back but just bear it for a while, okay?” Before Asuka could protest any further she hung up the phone. She then turned back to Rei. “Allright, you’re in. But you’re playing by my rules, understand?”
Rei nodded, her expression still neutral.
“Colonel,” Wellington then said, “if you don’t mind then. I’d like to tag along. For the girl’s safety, I mean.”
Misato motioned to another seat on the G6. “Strap in, we’re going before anyone else shows up.” Wellington promptly found a set in another row and then fastened herself inside while using her mobile phone to check in with others at NERV before she left. Misato again directed her attention to Rei.
“Okay, I’m bringing you because I think you can actually help with him,” she explained to her. “But I also need you to know, this doesn’t come without a price.” Rei said nothing but just continued to silently face Misato.
“I want to know exactly what went on between you and Commander Ikari in Terminal Dogma on the Day of Third Impact.” Rei looked reluctant after hearing what Misato had said, which all the more convinced Misato of the importance of what she was asking. “I want to know what he did to you.”
As the plane started to move towards the main runway, Rei turned away, and looked out the window. Misato and her remained silent for a minute as the aircraft maneuvered and then positioned for takeoff.
“Rei,” Misato told her, now making her voice gentler. “I don’t know what happened between you and him but I know it wasn’t good. Come on,” she encouraged. “It’s time you told someone. Have you told Shinji?”
“No,” she said. “He hates his father. I don’t want Ikari-kun to hate him more.”
“No. He is my escape from all of this.”
“Okay, then. Please,” she said to Rei, almost at a whisper. “Please tell me the story.”
The G6 picked up speed and then ran down the runway, needed less than a minute to pick up enough speed to take off. As it did so Rei continued to look out the window. Misato watched Rei as she did so and noticed that a single tear had fallen down her cheek as she observed the falling world below.
“Rei,” Misato told her. “You don’t need to bear the whole world on your shoulders anymore.”
The girl turned back to her, as tears now fell down both of her cheeks and her face blushed red. “But…but I do!”
Patrick was thrown back into his cell and he promptly collapsed on the bed, sleeping deeply. He awoke several hours later, shaking his head to clear out the grogginess. Looking towards the plexiglass wall he saw no one, just the three remote cameras focused on his cell.
He got up off the couch and stretched out his arm to unkink all of his wound up muscles, then dropped down and did a quick set of twenty pushups. I might be dying but at least I won’t act like I’m dead yet, he thought to himself.
Finished with his warmup Patrick walked over to the transparent cell wall and leaned his head against it. He watched as the three cameras silently moved, panning from one end of his cell to another. He stared at one of the cameras as it recorded him. It did nothing else in particular, except just flash its red operation lite to show it was functioning. Patrick then gave the camera the middle finger and then turned his back on the plexiglass wall.
He looked at the edge of the wall, the corner where the plexiglass met the solid rock wall of his cell and he could. The plexiglass portion covered just a small part of the side wall but through it he could see through to the cell that was next door to his.
Sitting against the wall and crouched down, her head buried in her knees, was Erin. She had been stripped of her warm clothes and now wore the same prisoner uniform that Patrick did. Shivering partly from the cold, she wrapped her arms around her legs in an effort to stay warm.
Patrick moved closer to the corner to get closer, and pressed his ears against the plexiglass part of the side wall. He let all other sounds in his mind blank out and then focused just on what was beside him. The prison cells, like all other places, had their own songs and this one’s felt incredibly sad. Accentuating the gloom was the feint sobbing that was coming from the girl on the distant wall.
What do I say to her? On one hand I feel like she completely deserves this but on the other I can’t help but admit this is what I wanted all along, to be close to her.
Still though, she tricked everyone and stole the EVA and then just stood there while Kensuke and Mari got butchered and Shinji kidnapped. How can I reach out to her now?
“Pathetic, isn’t it” a voice came from behind Patrick. The boy turned around and saw a figure of a teenaged boy behind him. “Vance?”
The figure walked out of the shadows and approached Patrick. Wearing a Tokyo-3 school uniform of white shirt and black pants, Vance Vinson’s tall figure was seen in the dim lighting of the cell. “You two finally get together and it’s like this.”
Patrick faced the ghost of his former friend. “Dude, this wasn’t my idea!”
“It wasn’t? I thought that’s all you wanted? Just to find her again.”
Patrick shook his head in regret. “Turns out she was just as horrible as dad was.”
“That’s not true and you know it.”
“She freaking lies about everything and then just stood there when Mari and Kensuke get chopped to pieces!”
“And she couldn’t bear to do anything but watch. Maybe she knew it was wrong.”
“Fine, she had plenty of opportunities to give it up beforehand. Now we’re toast!”
Vance folded his arms. “Can you see it from her side?” Patrick scratched his head, and sighed deeply, closing his eyes in painful regret.
“Yeah, I mean, yeah. Of course it get that she’s cut off from everything she’s ever known. But that doesn’t mean she can do this?”
“Dude,” Vance told him. “When your dad sent us to Tokyo-3, did you know that he was planning on jacking the S2?”
“I didn’t, but you
“That’s not my point. You were part of something that was deceptive because you believed someone without knowing anything further. Was it your fault that people died when Dad and his men did the raid on Tokyo-3?”
“No…I mean, how could it be? I didn’t freaking know anything!”
“Yet right up until you reactivated Unit 04 you played along, didn’t you?”
“I didn’t play along! I was just…”
“You were in it based on what you were told. I was told different things and I was in it based on what I was told, and my father was told even more different things and he was in it all the way to attacking Tokyo-3 and all. Are you saying then that we’re all equally responsible?”
Vance pointed at the cell next to them. “Then how can you expect her to do anything different?”
“You’re saying she’s not responsible.”
“I’m saying that if someone in authority told you after you just woke up from being in a coma for six months that your father, all of his coworkers and your boyfriend were killed by someone posing as your relative, you’d probably believe them!”
“But she knew better!” Patrick continued to argue.
“Because she knew me! She knew me before!”
“And that’s what’s really eating you,” declared Vance. “You feel betrayed.”
Patrick was about to reply when he held back. “Yeah…that’s what it is.”
Vance came up closer to Patrick. “What did I always tell you? You’re the Fail-Safe. You always seem to be exactly where you’re needed.”
“Some good that does me now!” retorted Forrestal.
“What I’m saying is…” the ghost continued, “is that you needed to be here, now, for some reason.”
“Even if that’s true, what the hell am I supposed to be doing in this pit?”
“The only thing that you can do,” said Vance with a slight smile. “Talk to her.”
The boy walked over and leaned against the side wall, as Vance walked just next to him. “You’re right…as always.”
“I’m not always right,” he replied. “I was wrong once, and once was enough.”
“You should be here,” Patrick told him softly.
“I’m already here,” Vance pointed at Patrick’s chest, “and I’m there too,” he said as he then pointed towards Erin’s cell. “But you’ve gotta put it all together. If you really want to make right whatever your Father did to all of us, this is the way.”
Patrick nodded. “I get it, I guess.” The boy sighed and slid down the cell wall towards the floor. “It seems I might be joining you soon,” he told Vance.
“I wouldn’t worry about that if I were you,” he said, “Just keep focused on the target. If everyone else is doing their jobs everything will work out one way or another.”
“Why not just tell me you were in love with her?” Patrick said.
“Bah! That would have just complicated things,” he replied. “We weren’t together for very long. I’d rather she’d not remember it at all.”
“I guess you made an impact on her.”
Vance winked at him. “That’s just what I do.”
Patrick could see the image of Vance start to fade away into the darkness. “Double-V?”
“Am I going to see you again?”
“No,” he said, “after this we’re all done.”
“Is there anything else I…I need to know.”
“One last thing.”
“If you make it out of this…,” Vance’s ghost said in an almost mournful tone, “be there for my Mom…will you?”
“I will…I swear it.”
“If not,” Vance told him as began to completely disappear, “if you’re really at end of it this time…Rock the house for me at the end, will ya? Don’t hold nuthin’ back!”
“You got it, dude.”
Vance smiled at that. “Thanks! Good bye…and good hunting!” With that, he faded away and Patrick was left sitting on the floor, staring at the stone wall opposite him.
After four hours Misato’s G6 landed at Aries Base in Alaska. Located in the western Alaskan tundra, Aries Base was on a barren wasteland blanketed by recent snows, hundreds of miles away from anywhere. The three of them left the aircraft via gantry, each now wearing a heavy parka to keep warm in the hostile environment.
A single officer in an Alliance polar uniform met Misato on the tarmac, the two of them discussing the purpose of their visit as Rei and Wellington watched. After another two minutes of negotiation, the Alliance offer called over a vehicle and then the group of three from NERV boarded a white-painted 6x6 armored vehicle. Along the way the Alliance and young male American officer discussed the remote post’s only prisoner: Gendo Ikari.
“Does he make any kind of requests?” Misato asked the officer.
“No, in fact he doesn’t interact with the staff at all unless he’s ordered to,” said the officer. “Even then it’s strictly business for him.”
“How good is the isolation? Does he get any news from the outside world?”
The officer motioned outside. “You see this place? We’re not a hotel with delivered newspapers and in-room satellite media. There’s no one here telling the prisoner recent events.”
“So it’s likely he doesn’t know about the recent attack on Tokyo-3.”
“Well, we haven’t told him. Although colonel, you have to admit you being here is sort of a red flag to him.”
“I understand.” Misato reached into her pocket and presented a single piece of paper to the officer. “By the way, can you obtain the necessary materials on this list?”
The young officer looked at the notepaper. “What’s this for?” he said, surprised at the contents. “Did one of you forget your luggage?”
Misato didn’t care to explain why she was asking for the items on the list. “Humor me, lieutenant.”
He winced at the list. “It’s unusual, I’ll grant you that. I’ll ask around with the female staff and see if they can come up with these. “ The transport arrived a single, grey building that was guarded by over a dozen soldiers, also dressed in white polar uniforms and each heavily armed. As it pulled up, two of the soldiers came up to the AFV and carefully investigated the vehicle and passengers and then gave a go-ahead for them to disembark.
Once in the prison, Misato requested a separate room for the three of them to discuss matters confidentiality. The officer led them to an unused office that was in the front of the building before the cell space entry.
“Wellington,” Misato asked. “Go check on our subject. I need to discuss something with Rei.”
Moria’s face went into a determined expression. “Certainly. I just wonder how Mr. Wonderful has been putting up all these weeks.” She then left to go to the prison cells on the other side of the building.
Inside the conference room Misato sat Rei down as she found an instant beverage service on one table. Making a cup of hot tea for Rei and a cup of coffee for herself, Misato then sat down with Rei each drank their own beverage.
“Rei,” she told him. “Thank you. I know that was difficult.”
“Will you allow me to see him?”
“To be completely honest I’m even more reluctant now than before,” Misato said. “I don’t trust him, and having you in the same space with him is likely to bring out the darker sides of his personality. I don’t want you to have to risk yourself further in this way.”
“If you disagree you can send me back to Tokyo-3.”
“Not yet. We can’t afford to fail at this as we have no alternative to getting back up to speed. Despite the risk I’m willing to give this a chance.”
Rei nodded in reply. “When will we contact him?”
“I’ll speak to him first and see what comes up. It’s likely he’ll drive a hard bargain at whatever we offer, although I have permission to grant everything but his full freedom in return. If that fails then we’ll go with your plan.”
Wellington sent word through a sentry to Misato that Gendo was currently awake in his cell, from which Misato determined now was as good of a time to speak to him as any. Leaving Rei in the small office, she went out into the cell access area and after going through several security doors arrived at a single cell at the end of a long hallway. Standing in front was Wellington along with two white-clad sentries.
“How is he?” Misato asked. Moria pointed at the small window on the cell door. “See for yourself.” Misato then went to the door and slid open a small steel latch.
Gendo Ikari was sitting at a small table in his cell, wearing orange prison coveralls, the left sleeve of his uniform dangled from the shoulder as he was missing an arm. Misato took a careful look at him, noticing the changes he had undergone in the last three months of incarceration. His beard had fully grown out now, making itself into a mass of bushy black hair over his mouth and chin. He seemed a little gaunter, although he always seemed to be quite thin to Misato from before. His eyes seemed colder to Misato somehow, black and piercing. She studied him carefully, looking for any sign of weakness or fatigue in his face or body that she could find and possibly exploit. On the small table she saw a notepad provided to Gendo, along with a single pencil for writing. The notepad itself was completely clean, never having been used, and Misato could take from that Gendo was internalizing virtually everything.
He’ll have to be cracked in order to make him able to be negotiated with, but what’s going to crack him? “Open it,” she ordered. One of the sentries opened up the cell door, and Misato walked in.
Gendo didn’t look up at first when Misato entered the cell. She promptly sat down at the table facing him, and it wasn’t until at least a minute after she did so when he finally looked up to see who it was.
“Commander Ikari,” greeted Misato. The decision she made to address him by his old job was a thoughtful one, and something she hoped would make the discussion easier.
“You still seem fit to call me that,” he said.
“I don’t have to like what you did but I can still respect the title. How are you?”
Gendo cut immediately to the chase. “You wouldn’t be here speaking to me now if there wasn’t some difficulty at Tokyo-3, would you?”
Misato tried to not let his direct approach rattle her. “I won’t lie to you. We’re facing a challenge and we could use your help.”
“You should have thought about that when you switched sides.”
“I wasn’t the one who was using NERV as my personal laboratory, keeping us in the dark to your true purposes while double-crossing the UN as well.”
“And it’s a good thing that I did, Major…”
“…otherwise none of us would be here at all.”
She leaned forward in the chair towards him. “I know about Rei, and why she exists,” she told him, “and what is it that you tried to do.”
The former commander appeared indifferent. “And what does that matter?” he asked her. “Again, had the First Child not transformed none of us would be here.”
“And you’d have us to believe that was your plan all along?”
Gendo leaned back in the chair. “You certainly have a funny way of showing gratitude, locking me up like this. Perhaps the Alliance is too afraid of what’s really behind the curtain.”
“You’ll find we’re more willing to take responsibility for our actions, now that we know what we’re fighting for.”
“And just what is that, colonel?”
“To take back the world for the people who want to live their lives in peace,” declared Misato, “and not be destroyed and the hands of people who want to play God.”
“And I suppose after all of this,” Gendo told her, “you just plan on shoving EVA back into Pandora’s box, like nothing had ever happened. Are you truly that naive, Katsuragi-san?”
Misato narrowed her glance further. “I know that if I control all of the pilots there’s nobody that can really stop me from doing anything,” she told him. “And right now I have all the good cards in my hand.”
“Then why are you here? Surely I’m just an appendage that has to be cut off at some point.”
“Wouldn’t you rather be useful than just sitting around here?” she offered. “It must be difficult, having to face so many challenges and now to just sit here rotting away. You must be quite bored.”
“You’ll find that given sufficient isolation that the mind can be a man’s own kingdom,” countered Gendo. “What’s the saying? Better a Prince in Hell than a pauper in Heaven.”
Misato ignored Gendo’s defiance and then made her next move. “If we can come to an agreement,” she offered, “I can get you out of here and working again.”
“And just what do you have to offer me?” he said in a cynical tone. “Will I get my old job back? Will you raise poor Futsuyuki from the dead?”
“The vice commander made his own decision to sacrifice himself in order to save others,” Misato defended, “you can’t blame that on the Alliance. In the meantime, I can at least get you back to Japan in considerably more comfortable surroundings.”
Gendo continued on. “You have nothing that you can possibly offer me, Katsuragi-san. Even offering my freedom would be worthless, considering that SEELE has attempted to kill me at least twice since Third Impact.” He leaned back further in the chair. “Better to stay here and watch you fail,” she said, “then to find myself reliant on your catastrophically disintegrating operation.”
“All right,” she told him. “Have it your way. I will tell you one more thing, however: your son has been taken by SEELE. We could use your help in getting him back.”
Misato was quiet while Gendo contemplated what she had just said, hoping that the mention of having Shinji in danger would be enough to get Gendo to at least crack a little.
“My son made his own choices,” Gendo told her. “To him I owe nothing that I have not already paid back.”
Angered by his indifference Misato stood up and leaned forward in Gendo’s face. “You cold-hearted bastard! That boy spent his whole life looking to get your approval, even piloting EVA, even facing the Angels for months, not knowing if he was going to live or die and then just to find out he was something disposable, to be a means to an end!”
“It wasn’t my decision for him to become a pilot,” Gendo replied calmly. “I’m not the one who demanded that he remain a pilot, he was allowed to run away at any time. You should have let him do so, otherwise he wouldn’t be in the trouble he is now.”
“Don’t you care anything for your son’s life?”
Gendo drummed his fingers on the table. “You shouldn’t be a gambler, Katsuragi-san, as it’s clear that you have a horrible time bluffing,” he told her. “Go back to your new friends. Perhaps they’ll throw you more money like the cheap date that you are in some hopeless gesture to idealistic platitudes.”
Furiously, Misato pounded the table. “And what happens if we fail? Do you think you’re going to get a better deal from the other side?”
“At least they know my true value,” he replied.
“Screw you,” she said under her breath as she got up from the table to go.
After she left Gendo’s cell Misato and Wellington made their way back to the office. Waiting for her was Rei. Next to Rei on one of the small tables in the office was a paper bag, filled with the items that Misato had requested earlier. After they arrived Misato closed the door.
“Remind me not to pick you as a bridge partner,” Moria told Misato.
“To be honest I expected him not to accept anything at first. I at least wanted him not to think we were still in the dark about the EVAs.” She let out a long breath, wishing that she could have a smoke but knowing that she couldn’t. “We can try to crack at him further but we really don’t have time,” she told the others. Seeing the paper bag Misato opened it and started going thought some of the items. “All right, Rei. We’ll try your plan, but I’m warning you: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ikari looking more dangerous than he does now. I’m very concerned for your safety.”
“It can’t be helped,” Rei responded. She picked up one of the items and then toyed with her own hair as she looked at Misato. “Misato-san, can you assist me with what I need?”
“Okay,” she said. “Let’s get started. I saw a bathroom down the hall, we can us that.”
Wellington was intrigued by the contents of the bag and and looked at Rei. “You asked for these?”
“What are you going to do, exactly?”
Rei looked directly at her. “I’m going to give him what he wants.”
Go on to Chapter Forty-Six