14 years after Third Impact...
The Dark Side of the Moon
The four spacecraft drifted silently together as they approached the target area. As they were on the opposing side of the moon, the Dark Side, the Earth wasn't visible from the spacecraft's windows and the pilot on the shuttle always found that somewhat unnerving.
He checked the display in front of him and saw a series of graphics that told him they were fast approaching their destination. The shuttle he was in was much smaller in comparison to the three large objects that it was escorting and glancing out the windows to his left he could see the gigantic black cylinder-shaped object that was alongside their own shuttle. Fifty-five meters in length overall, the craft was actually made up of two segments that met in the upper third of the larger cylinder, forming a cross-shape. A giant "02" was painted on the side in white. The astronaut looked then to his right and saw another identical craft, with "04" painted on its side, moving in parallel with the others.
The pilot saw the time to approach on his screen and knew he needed to alert his commander, as they would be coming up on their target and the completion of their mission. His superior would certainly want to know where they were now, he knew, and so he pushed himself off of his seat in the front of the shuttle and then propelled himself back through the shuttlecraft towards the attached compartment behind the shuttle's bridge.
Floating through the craft, he reached the sleeping quarters and stopped himself from gliding by putting his foot to the bulkhead in front of him. The pilot then moved himself forward and towards a small cubicle with a sliding door on the port side of the shuttle. He drew a deep breath, and prepared himself for the likely trauma that would come from the interruption he was about to make. He then gently rapped on the cubicle door. "Colonel?" he said. There wasn't a reply within thirty seconds so he knocked again and made his voice louder.
"Colonel?" he again asked. "Colonel Ikari?" The sliding door suddenly slid open, and a young woman in her late twenties was now visible, wearing the same cobalt blue coverall spacesuit that the other pilot did. Her hair was flaming red, and tied up in a single ponytail behind her. "WHAT?" his superior sneered at him, as her sleep had been interrupted.
"Uh, Ma'am? We're approaching the target zone."
"I know that," she told him, "At least let me get my sleep in before we do this, you idiot!"
"But we're two minutes away at this point," the pilot informed her. Asuka's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Two minutes? Why the hell didn't you wake me earlier!"
"But ma'am, I..."
"Never mind," she told him, still annoyed with her crewman's overly cautious approach. "Well, don't just stand there, Captain, let's get this done." She then used both of her feet to push herself off the bulkhead and went flying in the microgravity straight to the shuttle cockpit. By the time the other pilot had reached the control consoles, Earth Alliance Space Force commander Asuka Ikari was already strapped in and reading the displays at her station.
As the other pilot strapped into the seat, Asuka put on her commo headset and opened up a channel to their controller base, located at a space station tens of thousands of miles away. "KIRIN-1 TO KIRIN BASE," she called out. "KIRIN BASE, Do you copy?"
"Copy, KIRIN-1," the voice of Makoto Huyga came over the line. "Are you at the target site?"
"Affirmative, KIRIN Base. We're maneuvering into position now." Asuka then grabbed both of the handles on her HOTAS controllers and pushed forward gently. In front of the shuttle, rockets fired in front of them that would break the shuttle in it's current velocity and slow it down to be just above the target area below them, a few hundred miles on the moon's surface.
"Hey, Sheppard," Asuka said to her co-pilot. "Are the capsules confirmed linked into the control system."
"Just did it now," the man said to her, "Confirm green status on all three."
"Okay," she responded, "slaving to my control system...now." Asuka waited for a status indicator on her screen to indicate that each of the giant black capsules they were escorting were now tied into her own controllers, to allow her to maneuver them herself. One by on the screen showed the digital links being formed. While she waited, she looked up at her station and saw the photographs that she had taped to the edge of the console. One had the image of a Japanese man about her age, with brown hair tied in a ponytail. He was wearing a black tuxedo with tails and was playing a cello, and Auska thought he still looked quite handsome in the photo. The second photo was of two children, a nine-year old boy with auburn hair and hazy purple eyes dressed in a white shirt and blue pants, together with a six-year old girl with the same flaming red hair as her own and bright blue eyes, who was wearing a red-colored ice skater dress and posting enthusiastically for the photo. She smiled at both of them, knowing she would be able to see them again soon after carrying out the job she was doing now.
All three LINK indications went on her display and were colored green. "Confirm link," she told the home base. "We're ready to go here."
"Good luck," said Hyuga.
Asuka carefully used the HOTAS controllers to maneuver each of the three giant black crosses into a new position, first using small rockets to stop their movement forward, and then using another set of rockets to roll and pitch each one so that their heads faced away from the moon, and the base of the cross faced towards the surface. Part of her wished that she wasn't doing this job from the shuttlecraft she was in, and instead she was inside what was encased in those black crosses. But that time had long passed for her, Asuka knew, and what had helped them in Earth's greatest moment of need now was being preserved for use in the uncertain future.
"Units lined up on track," said the co-pilot, who was observing the tactical display as Asuka remotely moved each cross in alignment with the target that was on the lunar surface. She checked her own displays and just carefully nudged each one of the cylinder in turn until they were exactly where she wanted them. "In position. Sheppard, I'm going to roll us. Hang on."
"Roger," the co-pilot answered and Asuka then switched her controllers to their own shuttle, and then gently used their retro-rockets to roll the shuttle itself one hundred and eighty degrees. Their heads now facing the lunar surface, Asuka now had direct sight of the target area below them. She used her screen's magnification and saw what was below: Three giant gaping holes lined with steel and cement in a remote place on the Moon's dark side, in what would be the new resting place of three Evangelion units that Earth still had left. "Cue up," she said. "We're good go to...Five by Five."
"Track confirmed," came Hyuga's voice on the audio. "Initiate drop."
"Roger." Asuka then switched control again to the three units aside the shuttle and after a final double-check of everything in her mind gently started up the maneuvering rockets for each of the black containers. All three cross-shaped units began to slowly descent to the lunar surface.
Carefully, carefully, she said to herself mentally as each of the giant crosses descended towards their new home. All three of the units continued to approach the lunar surface and Asuka watched their velocity and location on her display, ready to make any further adjustments needed to line them up in the right place. Just to when they were within one thousand feet of their target she activated the first of their braking rockets and each of the giant crosses slowed down just slightly. She continued to watch velocity and position, rapidly calculating in her brain any necessary changes to their approach. All those freaking video games come down to this, she humorously thought to herself. Ironic.
Finally within a hundred feet of each of the giant cavities, Asuka activated a second set of rockets to slow down the cylinders further and allow them to drift into the giant holes in front of them. It was still a dicey affair as the massive cylinders approached the surface and she had to continue to apply thrusters for all three until they were within twenty feet.
Once nearly there at the target, a set of cables shot up automatically from the insides of each of the holes. Working automatically, the cables attached to receptacles on the bottoms of the giant crosses and locked. With one final pull, the cables then drew in each of the cylinders as rockets shot out to break their velocity. Each of three giants each dropped into place, diving below the lid of the openings and then soon out of sight. Asuka watched her display and saw three more indicators, signaling that each of the three giants had successfully been landed inside their vaults.
She looked through the shuttle's window as now giant steel doors began to close over each of the holes in the complex. While it appeared a bit like a grave, Asuka knew that wasn't the right word for it. Just a resting place, she thought to herself. Let you rest until we need you again. Hopefully a long, long time from now.
Asuka took a deep breath as the emotions she had held back the entire time finally came to the fore. She refused to cry but she couldn't speak either, and she watched silently as the giant doors closed completely. Soon a team of lunar engineers would use excavating equipment to cover up the entire site in lunar dust, leaving it unable to be seen to nearly everyone: a secret hiding place for the most powerful beings humanity had ever had a hand in creating.
Good night, Mama. Sweet dreams.
Olympia City, US Pacific Northwest
It was past 9 O'Clock at night as Patrick drove his car along the coastline, glancing over his right shoulder at the moonlight reflecting off of what was called the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the navigation screen of his auto. While he had no idea who Juan was or how he got the narrows named after him, the view at that time of night from the coast was still pretty gorgeous, and he could just barely see the nightlights of the city of Victoria on the other shore.
He turned his attention back to the road ahead of him, passing cars by as he sped home in the evening. Today had been a long and eventful day and he was rather glad to be able to come back. Still some time away from arriving home, Patrick asked the car to search for classical music on the radio and within a second came back an orchestral piece featuring both cello and violin that he was familiar with. Wanting to relax to the music and determining that the road ahead contained few hazards, he put the car on autopilot and then leaned back in his chair to enjoy the music.
The melody of the piece were rich and at times sorrowful, the cello's low sound contrasted with the violin's higher-pitched notes, but then both were matched in a unique unison that finished together. It was a notable piece, and one that he had known well by now. After all, he knew the composer.
"That was Angels of Music Adagio #1," said the radio announcer after the piece ended, "by Shinjiro Kaji, the well-known Japanese cellist and now composer. Mr. Kaji is of course well know through his music, but somewhat reclusive outside of the concert hall. It's know that he's married with two children living in Germany, but for the most part stays out of the public eye. Fortunately for the rest of us he has these gifts of music that we're able to enjoy."
If only they knew who he really was, Patrick thought to himself as he listened to the announcer.
"Later on we'll be playing a piece by Chopin, and then a segment from Holst. Just to let you know, this program is sponsored by SuzaHoraki, makers of advanced high-speed rail and transport systems. We take you to the future...in style!"
The music was interrupted by a phone call, and the words ERIN flashed up on the car's display. The car itself said "Phone call from Erin."
"Take it," Patrick instructed the car. Erin's voice came on the line. "Hey, Bro!"
"Hey, you!" he said back cheerfully. "Where are you off to these days?"
"Believe it or not," she told him, "I'm in New Capetown."
"South Africa?" exclaimed Patrick in surprise. "That far away?"
"Yup, got here yesterday."
"Is there anything still left down there?"
"Actually there's quite a bit of recovery already. They've begun seeding wildlife in the countryside here. I even saw a heard of elephants as my plane was approaching!"
"Wow. How long you down there for?"
"Probably a few weeks. Maya gave me a portable MAGI to install at the resettlement complex. Just need to get that up and running."
"Cool. We'll definitely get in some sightseeing while you're down there. Did you take the family with you?"
Erin's voice picked up a little. "Took Joshua this time. Thought with all of those animals he'd think it was cool. He's been pretty good on the trip so far."
"Well, I'm sure he'll enjoy himself."
"Hey, bro," she said, her voice now becoming more serious. "You know, I got to thinking a little."
"Pretty dangerous, sis..." Patrick joked.
"Seriously, I mean. Do you ever think about Dad sometimes? I mean really?"
Patrick leaned back further in the car seat as the American-made Tesla started to go through a tunnel which would lead him back to the secure community where his home was. The audio feed stuttered just slightly when the car entered then went back to a clear signal. "Yeah, I do actually. I think really I go through that every day at least in some way."
"Do you think they're okay? Wherever they ended up?"
"There's really no way to tell. All I can do to give it some solace is just to say that EVA didn't kill them, she put them somewhere else instead. She could have done that but chose not to. I have to think there was some way that they'd be alright after that, some small mercy. But there's not a day in my life that goes by when I don't think about it, even now. How about you?" he asked her. "I know your perspective is different than mine on this."
Erin let out a breath. "There are days that I just wished I could have just put the pieces together faster," she told him. "But I guess things were still too hidden from me then. It's hard to handle sometimes, even now."
"Then live the best life that you can right now," Patrick told her, "and just hope it all sorts out in the end. We've certainly done our share of things already."
"Thanks," she said. "I'm trying to, I think. Of course, what I do is nowhere nearly as exciting as what you do now."
"I wouldn't really call this exciting. Well, it has its moments, like today." Before Patrick could continue the call alerted him to another phone call. "Oh, Erin. Hey, it's Lusty on the other line."
"It's alright, I'll get back with you later in a couple of days."
"Great, be careful okay? It's a new place but could be dangerous still." He could see Erin's smile in his mind even though she was only on audio with the call. "I don't know, I think I could use a little more adventure every now and then."
"That's the spirit," he complimented. "Anyway, catch you later!"
"Bye!" she called out and then Patrick switched the call. On the car's holographic projected Mari Illustrious's face was shown. In fourteen years since he had first met her she had grown into a lovely woman with flowing long hair, but still retained her red-rimmed glasses framing brilliant blue eyes. "Hello, Partner!" she greeted him. "Relaxing behind the wheel?"
"A well-deserved night drive home," he told him. "What's up?"
"Interrogation had a little chat with that subject your team caught at the border. Care to take a guess?"
Patrick already knew the answer. "Oh, no."
"Lillith Cult. Again."
"Damn," he told her. "They're getting more active."
"Unfortunately so. After some friendly persuasion he revealed the source of his cell in Idaho but Director Kaji's got to thinking there's going to be more of them."
"Why can't these people just leave it alone?" he grumbled. "There's a whole planet that still needs resettling, don't they have something better to do?" He glanced outside the car and saw that he was out of the tunnel, and now driving towards his home in the community ahead.
"I suppose some dreams die hard. Anyway, you know what the director says."
"Yes," he continued for her. "The price of peace is eternal vigilance. And that's our job."
"And you wouldn't like it any other way," she told him, winking and smirking as she did so. " I've got some good news. I'm told as a reward you're off for a few days, and you're ordered to go home and enjoy yourself."
Patrick smiled. "Tell the director that the next time I see him in Okinawa that we'll do a bottle of sake together. His choice."
"That could get rather expensive."
He laughed. "Knowing Kaji it's probably the one you get from 7-11. Certainly that's Misato's choice. Hey, tell him thanks and we'll see all of you soon."
"Terrific. Love to the family."
"And to you. By the way, when are you going to work on that?"
Mari smiled and cocked her head a little. "You know how it is."
"Never too late, you know."
She shrugged her shoulders slightly. "I've got to slow down first, and I think that's not happening for a while yet. We'll see."
"OK, Later, Lusty."
"Ta, ta," she said in a sultry voice and then ended the call.
Patrick's car drove through the community's security checkpoint, an unmanned station that automatically slowed and stopped his own car, and then after a quick scan opened up two layers of security gates, allowing him to pass through. Even now so many years later there's an army of security to contend with, living in the modern equivalent of a castle. I suppose a small price to pay considering everything. He continued to have the car drive on automatic and made sure he had his briefcase with him on the passenger's side while the car maneuvered through the streets of the residential community. After three more minutes the car stopped in front of what looked like a relatively modest two-story house built in a traditional New England style.
He waited as he heard motors outside the car start up and then the car and him were gently let down into the underground parking garage. After another thirty seconds the car was set down in the basement and pulled itself into the garage in front of him, the double doors closing above. The garage lights went on and upon seeing he'd arrived Patrick opened the door and let himself out, grabbing his briefcase as he did so.
Patrick walked from the garage to the stairs and then trundled up to the first floor, taking off his shoes nearly immediately after getting upstairs and replacing them with slippers. There was a mirror just by the stairway and he saw himself in it, wearing a navy business suit with light blue oxford shirt, his green eyes looking back at him. Neckties had gone out of style decades ago but still he wondered if he wouldn't look better with one, in that old-fashioned way. He ran his hands through his short-cut blonde hair and then told himself to stop thinking about the way things were, and concentrate on how things were now and things now were pretty good in perspective.
Walking through a narrow hallway the LED lights above detected his presence and lit themselves on. On the walls were images of family both close and extended, as well as one large landscape photo of Lake Ashi and Mt Fuji taken during springtime. Patrick took a sniff through the air and smelled the sweet and fragrant aroma of miso soup, and smiled. Smells like home.
Upon entering the kitchen he saw her hovering above the stove, carefully examining her latest experiment. Over the years Rei had gone from an elusive and quiet yet beautiful girl to a very beautiful woman, with an elegant and still often mysterious way about her. He paused just briefly to see her in the light, her back turned to him as she monitored her cooking. While it wasn't all that she did with her current life Rei took the housewife role quite seriously and dressed for the part, that night she wore a simple white collared cotton blouse and a knee-length blue-patterned plaid skirt, complimented with ivory hose and house slippers, her front covered with a blue-colored apron. Since getting married she had gone back to short-cut hair and bangs, which Patrick thought just seemed much more suitable for her now. Eyeglasses framed her dazzling red eyes, with a strap connecting both ends and creating a sort of "librarian" style for her. As he looked at her she didn't turn back, but kept her attention on the stove until just before he walked beside her.
"Hi, there," he said softly from about one feet away. Rei wasn't surprised at his presence, and instead leaned on her toes slightly to give a welcoming kiss. "Welcome home," she said. She then took the soup ladle and gave it to Patrick. "Please try," she said.
Patrick gently slurped the soup from the ladle, impressed with the taste. "Pretty good, just a little bit sweeter than last time." He said. "Which version is this?"
"You never stop working on that , do you?"
Rei put the ladle down on a holder and then removed her eyeglasses, letting them hang on her neck from their strap. "I find that appetites change over time. I've come to the conclusion that there will probably never be a final version, so I just try to adapt." She untied her apron, emblazoned with the words "KITCHEN ANGEL" on it, and revealing the small silver cross necklace that she still wore. "You're early. I didn't expect you until later tonight."
"Well, the investigation was a success," Patrick told her, placing his briefcase on the kitchen counter. "We caught the guy and then found out who was behind him."
"Who was it?" Rei asked, placing her own apron on top of his briefcase. Patrick paused for a few seconds. "Lillith Cult." Rei was dismayed. "Troubling."
"They're getting more active."
Her face went to what seemed like an emotionless expression, which Patrick knew by now wasn't really the case with Rei. "I've tried talking to them, to explain what happened during Third Impact," she said. "They don't seem to want to understand."
Patrick was nonchalant about it. "Well, it wouldn't be the first religion that didn't listen to its own messiah." He let out a deep sigh, leaning against the kitchen island. "That was my day. How was yours?"
"I was at the lab this morning, progress is continuing on the genetic reconstitution therapy." Rei took two cups and dispensed hot green tea from a silver nozzle mounted on the kitchen wall into each one as she spoke. She gave one to Patrick and then they both drank together.
"Is NERV still chasing their next Nobel Prize?"
"Maya doesn't care about that. She does say I should put in my own work for it, but I really don't want any distractions."
"Well," Patrick shrugged, as he set down the teacup. "There is the prize money."
"Not interested," she answered simply, placing her own cup on the counter. She walked up next to Patrick, looking carefully at his shirt and seeing very small grease stains on it. Rei then sniffed his collar for a moment, a frown appearing on her face. "What?" Patrick asked her.
"Did you have hamburgers for lunch again today?" Her husband's face blushed red. "Well," he tried to excuse himself, "we were sort of in a rush and...it's a cop's strength, you know!"
Rei looked sternly into his eyes. "How many donuts?"
"Um...just one. Really!"
She gently poked his belly with her index finger. "I'm trying to keep you around as long as possible, but you're not helping!" she admonished. "No red meat for one month," she told him, looking into his eyes. "And no cheating!"
Patrick smiled at her. "Your wish, my dear Angel, is my command." He gently ran his fingers down the side of her arm. "Got a few days off. Do you think you can free yourself from the lab?" he asked, in a softer tone as he looked at her. "I was thinking, we'd go to the cabin and, um...you know, work on that other project of ours." Rei's red eyes brightened up as they met his green ones, their minds having the same shared memory of the pleasurable times they spent together as a married couple. She gave him a slight smile, then lifted up on her toes to kiss him gently on the lips. "I'd like that," she said in her whisper-like voice. Patrick gently ran his finger down the side of her face. "I thought you might," he replied to her, also in a quiet voice.
They both took a breath and then Patrick heard his stomach grumble slightly. "Anyway, that soup smells wonderful and I'm starving." Rei put her hand gently on his chest. "Not just yet," she told him. "She's waiting for you upstairs."
"it's past her bedtime!"
"She received a new book today," explained Rei, "and wanted to have you read it to her." Patrick gave another smile. "Well, let's not disappoint her then."
Patrick trundled up the stairs to the second floor, again passing by more photos and pictures as he did. The LED lights of the stairway lit up as he walked upwards, and the lit the hallway just above. Walking just a few feet further he reached a door from which hung a ceramic hand-painted angel with blue hair and red eyes, and on which was neatly stenciled in blue "MADDIE". He carefully pushed open the door and let himself inside.
The only thing better than having Rei in his life, Patrick had concluded earlier, was having two of her. At the far end of the bedroom and partially hidden underneath the bed sheets was a little girl with blue hair of age nine, sleeping peacefully with a book in her tiny hands. Madeline Madoka Forrestal, known to nearly everyone as Maddie, looked identical to her mother and while she appeared like a miniature Rei, Maddie had a precocious and sweet personality all her own that was happily unencumbered by the dark episodes of both of her parents' childhoods.
Patrick gently tiptoed towards the head of the bed, careful not to wake her too soon. All around the bed stand were lively decorations fitting of a nine-year old girl with images of castles and mythical beings such as unicorns and dragons all throughout. Lying on a small table was a half-sized viola outside of its case and an unfinished jigsaw puzzle next to it. There were several bookshelves filled with books, plus several framed images of Maddie and of other loved ones all around including two prominent photos mounted on the side of one wall: one contained a portrait of all three current members of her immediate family posing in formal wear, her father wearing a black tuxedo and her mother and herself wearing matching blue silk evening gowns. The other portrait was of just Maddie wearing a white leotard, tutu, and ballet slippers, taken during a recent recital of her own. On the blue and white-striped bed spread itself surrounding Maddie were a squad of stuffed animals, teddy bears and others, all standing guard over her while a familiar-looking stuffed penguin was under one of Maddie's arms.
He reached to just next to her head and then gently ran his fingers through her azure blue hair. Maddie's bright red eyes immediately flicked open, her small mouth gaping wide in surprise.
"Daddy!" She quickly let go of the book and penguin, jumped out of the sheets and threw her arms around her father's neck. Patrick held her tightly. "You're up past your bedtime, Princess!"
Maddie kissed her daddy on the cheek and then let go of him and settled back into the sheets. She was wearing a white long-sleeved nightshirt as her sleeping clothes. "I know, but I got this from Auntie Misato today and I wanted you to read it to me!" She handed him the book and Patrick examined it.
"Hmm...PenPen's Adventure," he read from the cover. "A story for children and their parents about the events of Evangelion, by Misato Katsuragi and illustrations by Nozomi Horaki."
"I thought Auntie Misato's last name was Kaji?" Maddie asked.
"She uses her earlier name for her books." Patrick gently flipped through the book, which contained hand-drawn images suitable for a young child's reading, with many illustrations featuring the pilots, EVAs, and the Angels. One page in particular showed a cartoon version of Shinji dressed in his plug suit, sitting in the EVA plug and PenPen sitting along side him. In the scene, Shinji said to himself "I mustn't run away...I mustn't run away..."
Lots and lots of stuff missing from here, of course... "Princess, did you read this already?"
"Um...yup! She also got me this!" she answered, and then picked up the stuffed penguin, a likeness of PenPen from his earlier days complete with backpack and collar. Maddie looked up at her father with a confused expression. "Did PenPen really ride inside the Evangelion with Uncle Shinji?"
Patrick winced a little while coming up with the answer. "Well...not really. I think they just show that so little kids will follow the story."
"What did he do, then?"
"Sit in your Auntie Misato's apartment, drink beer and watch television." Young Maddie was dismayed. "But that's what he does now!"
"He wasn't nearly as fat then as he is now," said Patrick and Maddie giggled in response. "Oh," she said, grabbing the book back again, "here's another picture!" She flipped the pages and showed another image, this one was spread over two pages and showed the Planet Earth as the backdrop, while an elaborate paper doll popped out of the book and spread its wings. The female figure was all white and giant when compared to the earth itself. "That's the Angel of Light," Patrick told her in recognition.
"She looks like Mom," Maddie observed. Patrick then leaned over and put his finger to his lips. "SSSHHH!" he said to Maddie in a half-whisper. "Family secret! Don't tell anyone!" The child nodded enthusiastically.
Patrick scooted closer together with Maddie on the bed so that both of them could share the book as they flipped through it. A moment later the door opened wider and Rei entered to join them on the bed. Daughter welcomed mother with a kiss on the lips as Rei too sat close to Maddie on the bedspread, and she then put her arms around Maddie and held her tight as Patrick held the book.
"Wow, there's some pretty interesting pictures in this book," he said. Patrick showed one spread where a teenaged Shinji and Asuka were practicing a dance routine they needed to defeat one of the Angels. Maddie saw the picture again and laughed out loud. "That's funny! Auntie Asuka is kicking Uncle Shinji in the butt!"
Rei smiled a little also, as the memory of that day came back to her. "I remember when that happened. It took them a while to get their routine correct." Maddie grabbed the book again and flipped to another page. "Mom, here's one of you!" The picture showed a younger Rei in her old Tokyo-3 middle school uniform, standing next to the other pilots as well as a talking PenPen. Rei nodded, impressed with the illustration as it brought back many other memories. "Nozomi-chan's artwork is very good," she remarked.
Maddie looked up at her father. "Daddy?"
"Where are the Evangelions now?" Patrick and Rei shared a silent glance at each other, and then Patrick carefully answered the question. "Well, they're sleeping."
"Sleeping for a long time, in a safe place, until maybe one day the Earth will need them again."
"Do you think that will ever happen again?"
"Well, a lot of bad things happened at that time. Lots of people were hurt, and even killed! So I hope that it will be a really, really long time before we ever need them again."
"Will I ever have to be an Evangelion pilot?" asked Maddie as she squeezed her PenPen.
Patrick and Rei looked at each other again, as Rei held Maddie just a little tighter in her arms. Patrick took his daughter's tiny hand in his and leaned over closer to her to answer the question. "Princess, I won't lie to you. You share a lot of things with your mother and one of those things may be that you also can talk to the EVAs. If we ever did need the EVAs again then yes, it might be your turn." Maddie bit her lip in fear when she heard that.
"But," continued Patrick, "your mother and I work very hard to prepare you, so I case you ever need to do what we did, we'll make sure you'll be ready for it."
"But how?" asked Maddie. "You're not teaching me how to be a pilot, are you?"
"You have lots of lessons, right?" Patrick told her. Maddie thought about it for a moment. "Well...I have music, and dance, and gymnastics, and school and all."
"And we give you puzzles to solve, right?" He motioned over to the jigsaw puzzle on her table. "So!?" Maddie protested. "That's not anything to do with EVA, is it?"
"All those things can help in their own way," said her father. Rei also spoke to her daughter as she looked up at her and listened. "Most importantly, we give you a home and a family," she told her. "We give you love. These things will help you if you ever have to face what we faced."
Maddie was still trying to comprehend everything she was hearing. "But why?"
"The power of the Evangelion is the power of love," Rei told her daughter. "And if you ever have to pilot EVA yourself one day, you'll understand what that means."
"Wow," said Maddie. "It still seems scary."
"We hope and pray that you'll never need to do anything like that, and that you can be as normal as you like," Patrick told her. "But if it ever happens we promise you, you'll never have to face it alone." Maddie shrugged, hoping that she understood even if not right away. "I've got another question!"
"What is it?"
"I read the whole book, but they left out some stuff."
Patrick's eyebrows went up. "Such as?"
"Well, Mom's in the story, and Uncle Shinji and Auntie Asuka too, and even Auntie Misato and PenPen of course. But I looked everywhere and you're not in the story! And neither is Auntie Erin!" Maddie put the book down in exasperation. "How come?"
Patrick took a deep breath and again shared a meaningful glance with Rei, working out how he'd answer his daughter's question. "See, Princess, Evangelion was a really big thing," he told Maddie. "Lots and lots of stuff happened, too much to put into just one book."
"But I wanted to know!"
"Know what, Princess?"
"How did you meet Mom? There's nothing in here at all about that!"
Patrick shrugged playfully. "Maybe Auntie Misato will put that in the next book."
"I don't want to wait for the next book," protested Maddie. "I want to know the story! How did you and mom meet each other!" Patrick saw Rei blushing bright red but also smiling at him. Her eyes met his and he smiled back, both of them having their shared memories from long ago.
"I don't know, Princess," said Patrick with a sly grin as he pretended to play hard to get with his daughter. "It's a really long story, and kind of boring for little kids."
"I don't care!" she said. "And I'm not little! I wanna know!"
"But it's way past your bedtime."
Maddie's brilliant red eyes opened wide as she pleaded with her father. "Please, Daddy! Please!"
Goodness, how could anyone refuse that? "All right, all right," he said, finally giving in. "I'll tell you the story. Are you ready?" Maddie sat up straight in the bed, still leaning against her mother as Rei kept her arms wrapped around her. "Yes!" she reported enthusiastically.
"Then here we go. A long, long time ago...in a galaxy far, far away...there were these twins!"
"Daddy!" Maddie said in frustration. "Not that one! I know that story already!"
"I was just kidding," he chuckled. "Here's the real story. A long, long time ago...when I was just fourteen, I came to Japan for the first time. On my very first day there they sent me to school."
"School already?" asked Maddie. "But you just got there!"
"I know, but there I was. So I'm in this school and I look around and see this little girl sitting in the hallway, reading her book. She had bright blue hair," he said in a dramatic tone, "and these dazzling red eyes, and she looked just like you, except just a little bit bigger."
"Did Mom have boobies then?"
Rei and Patrick both suppressed a giggle at Maddie's innocent directness, and he continued. "Yes, honey, she sort of did. But as I was saying, I saw here there reading and I said to myself, she looks so beautiful... so mysterious...So much that I had to go talk to her..."
As he went on Maddie sat and listened intently on every word while embraced in her mother's arms, Rei herself went traveling back in her own mind about the first day she saw him, and how impossible the world that she now lived in would have seemed to her earlier self so long ago.
Despite her best efforts to stay awake it didn't take long for Maddie to fall asleep during the story, and so her parents gently tucked her in and then let her drift away until morning. They turned out the lights and then shut the door, leaving it open just a crack at their daughter's earlier request as they did every night.
Outside Maddie's door the two of them faced each other in the dim light of the hallway. Rei then silently pressed herself against him, letting out a deep breath as he felt the warmness of his embrace around her.
"Thank you," she said to him softly. Patrick looked at her quizzically. "What for?"
"For having the courage to speak to me on that day," she told him. Patrick tightened his embrace of Rei and smiled. "Once I saw you, how could I not?" he told her. "You're my Blue Rose."