The next morning...
Standing in the open space of the GeoFront was Dr. Viraat, NERV UK's former scientific director. He was slowly walking astride a mess of green and silver-painted parts that had once belonged to Unit 05. The scientist used a hand-held scanner and searched carefully for something very critical.
“Dr. Viraat!” He turned around and saw one of the ground crew, an older man with a Scottish accent. “Yes?”
“What do you want us to do with the NERV EVAs?”
“Use the field kit and plug it in the red one first. That one doesn't have a S2 engine, it will need more work than the others.”
The technician turned and jogged towards a group of men unloading crates from a helicopter while Dr. Viraat continued his scanning. When he approached another group of wreckage from Unit 05, his hand-held unit suddenly went active.
He walked right next to the wrecked and checked his scanner carefully, wanting not to get his hopes up. After a minute of confirmation he allowed himself a smile, as the scanner's display lit up in a series of green lights.
We still have an active core, the scientist thought to himself. Now how to go about rebuilding her?
Viraat looked around him and saw the bodies of the Mass Production series strewn across yesterday's battlefield, and it didn't take him more than a minute to formulate the plan in his head. He pulled out a radio and spoke into it.
“Wellington, this is Viraat. Does NERV have any refrigeration units?”
A very harried voice replied. “Don't know. It's still a hell of a mess down here.”
“Try to find out, my dear. I'd like to keep the Mass production series on ice if I can. I might need them later.”
That morning Rei Ayanami found herself again inside of a large medical scanning unit elsewhere in the NERV hospital. Wearing just her panties she lay face up on a plastic sliding board with the hulking contraption spinning around her. It was a familiar place for her, having spent many times in the same scanner in the last few months.
Watching her on the other side of the plexiglass sat Dr. Foch, who familiarized himself with the operations of the scanner. Once he was ready he turned on the speaker.
“Bon jour, Mademoiselle,” he said. “I am Doctor Bernard Foch, and I have been waiting my whole life to meet you. Please bear with us for the while, as we'd very much like to know what you're made of.” With that he started the scan sequence and the sliding board moved Rei into position.
The questions are still the same, Rei mused. Just the people asking them are different.
Shinji woke up on the hospital bed alone. Getting out of bed there was no sign of Asuka, so he shuffled to the bathroom and cleaned himself up. After meeting his personal hygiene needs he then walked out of the room and into the hallway, still dressed in oversized medical scrubs given to him the day before.
Walking down the hallway to meet him was Patrick, now dressed in an orange plug suit. Patrick seemed like he was in a hurry.
“Good morning!” Shinji said to him in Japanese.
“Hey, good morning! Sleep well?”
Patrick chuckled a little. “Of course.”
“Did you see where Asuka went?”
“No,” Patrick replied. “They took Rei earlier this morning. More tests, I guess.”
“I see,” Shinji said. “Um, do you know what...what we do now?”
“I don't, not for you anyway. As for me,” he motioned to his plug suit. “I'm back in the unit today, cleaning up the mess we made yesterday.”
“Okay. Good luck, then.”
“Thanks. Hopefully no trouble today. See ya!” and Patrick left towards the elevators. On the way inside the car he bumped into Asuka who was walking out. She gave him an earful but the doors shut before he could reply back.
Asuka shook off the incident and then saw Shinji in the hallway. She walked right to him smiling and carrying a duffel bag over her shoulder while holding two green packages under her arm. She was also now wearing her blue and white school uniform.
“Good morning, Baka Shinji!” she said cheerfully.
“Good morning. How did you get your clothes back?”
“I persuaded the guards to let me go back to the pilot lockers,” she winked. “Here.” Asuka handed Shinji the bag. “I got your stuff, too.”
“How did you open the combination lock?” he asked.
“Baka! I had it months ago.” She turned him around by his shoulders and shoved him back into the room. “Go and get changed.”
Shinji did as he was told and came out five minutes later in his own school uniform. When he came out Asuka handed him a sealed green plastic bag.
“What's this?” he asked.
He looked at the labeling which was in English. “Um, Meal Ready to Eat? What is it?”
“Don't tell me you never had one before?” She ripped open the bag and spilled its contents on a small table in the hallway. Shinji looked at the various sealed containers and tried to look for something familiar.
“There's no rice in here,” he told her.
“Hey, I had to flirt with two guards to get that! At least show some appreciation!”
“What are Swedish Meatballs?”
Asuka lost her patience and quickly ripped open the rest of the contents to show him. If he had any appetite that morning, he had lost it by now.
“You're supposed to eat that?” he said, looking at the prefabricated food.
“Ugh!” she screamed. “You're impossible sometimes!”
Shinji didn't mind the abuse, and gave her a little smile as she went into a tirade. I'm so glad you're back!
The first thing she felt when she woke up was the breathing tube. Reflexively she tried to swallow but there was a dull pain in her throat. Slowly she recovered out of the darkness, closing her eyes but listening to the sounds of the room: beeps from electronic monitors, the respirator's back and forth chug, and the voices and footsteps of people just outside.
She opened her eyes slowly and saw a Caucasian woman with blonde hair tied in a bun, wearing not a NERV uniform but a camouflage one of green and blue. The nurse saw that she was waking up and tried asking her questions. She spoke in English however, and Misato was slow to respond.
The nurse put a writing pad and a pencil by Misato's right hand and she slowly grabbed the pen, writing “where” in Japanese. Grabbing the sheet, the nurse went to the corridor.
“She's waking up. I need someone who can read Japanese,” she requested.
A man's voice was heard. “I think I can do that.”
Misato closed her eyes again and tried to rebuild everything in her mind. It was slow to recall, the last thing she remembered was being in the elevator shaft with Shinji. What had happened? She felt the large wrap of bandages across her waist and then knew. She was shot, and then something else afterward that was very faint.
She tried to take a deep breath and gather strength. Flicking her eyes open, Misato saw the room she was in was at the NERV hospital. Leaning against the railing of her hospital bed was a Japanese man in his late twenties, with a strong jaw and inviting eyes. Eyes that she knew very well. He was smiling at her.
Misato gurgled as she tried to speak but Kaji squeezed her hand, shaking his head and pointing to his own mouth. She nodded, knowing she would be unable to talk. Instead she took the writing pad and started writing.
Kaji picked up the note and felt his head with his left hand. In keeping with the identity of “Musashi” he had cut off his trademark ponytail and kept his hair cut short. “A necessary evil. For a while I wasn't sure who I could trust.”
Misato smiled at him and scribbled again.
Got Your Note.
He saw the note and smiled again. “Yoshi told me you put him to good use.”
Her mind finally started to click into place. She wrote again on the pad.
“Yoshi got me out and introduced me to some of his friends. Friends who weren't took happy about the possibility of Third Impact. Fortunately we were able to interrupt things before they got too out of hand.”
“All safe. All three of them.” Misato closed her eyes and allowed herself a deep sigh of relief.
“Not good. The JSSDF penetrated nearly the whole GeoFront and killed many before being pushed back.”
Misato tried to think of what was the most critical thing to ask, as a million questions now bubbled up in her mind.
Nurse doesn't read Japanese.
“My new friends in the Alliance are largely from America and Europe. Some are former NERV, most are former UN in some way. There's more to tell, but I'll save it for when you're ready.”
Kaji paused at that and just looked at Misato. He didn't have to say anything, she knew it from the look in his eyes. She turned her head away and looked at the bed railing for a while. I'll cry later, she thought to herself.
Kaji allowed himself to smile again. “Still around.” He held up fingers as he spoke. “One, Two and...Four.”
“Correct.” Misato's eyes went wide.
Kaji nodded. Misato started to scribble furiously but Kaji stayed her hand. “They don't know what happened, only that they found them back in Nevada a couple of weeks ago.” He took the pen out of her hand. “Please, just rest. There's a lot more so save your strength.” He then took her hand and squeezed it gently, looking at her. She sighed again and allowed herself to smile.
“I finally got you to shut up,” Kaji told her softly and her smile went wider. He caressed her face and she brought up her other hand to meet his. She picked up the pen again.
So scared lost you
“Me too. Sorry to scare you like that.” The two just sat for a while, happy to be back in each others company. Kaji gulped hard and fought back tears but Misato didn't. He looked away for a moment and then back at her. “I think I made you a promise, didn't I?” She nodded smiling and crying at the same time.
Sure did, asshole!
Kaji was about to lean over to kiss her when they heard voices from the corridor, very familiar ones. Misato's eyes went wide in recognition as Kaji leaned back. “It seems we have company!”
“So when do you think they'll be done with Ayanami?”
“How would I know? She probably loves all the attention. Here's the room. I wonder why that Section Two guy wanted us to go down here, anyway. It's just a...”
Misato and Kaji looked at the doorway and saw the two pilots stop suddenly, holding each other’s hand. Both of them smiled at the children as they came in. It took Shinji and Asuka about twenty seconds to actually do something other than stare in complete shock.
Asuka screamed at the top of her lungs “KAJI!!!” She let go of Shinji's hand and bounded towards Kaji, leaping literally half-way across the room. The redhead flung her arms around him as he caught her in flight.
“I KNEW IT!” she cried happily. “I KNEW YOU WERENT' DEAD!”
“I'm not so easy to get rid of,” Kaji told her as she wrapped her legs around him.
Asuka squeezed him tightly, held his face with both of her small hands and kissed him square on the lips. This brought a surprised reaction from Misato but Kaji just looked at her and shrugged. The girl squeezed him hard again, nearly afraid to let go.
“They said you fought off the Mass Production EVAs all by yourself!” said the agent.
“That's right!” Asuka replied buoyantly. “All nine of them! I was so scared! But I beat them all! Well, almost.”
“That you're here now is good enough.” he said with a big smile.
Shinji watched Asuka's reunion and then looked at Misato in disbelief. He really didn't believe it was her at first, but she tilted her head and smiled at him and then he knew it was okay. Everything was going to be really okay from now on, he felt.
The boy ran up to her on the hospital bed and said simply “Misato-san!” She reached up with her right hand and felt his cheek and he held her hand with his own. Both were crying and smiling at each other and at every one else.
“Oh,” Shinji said, trying to calm himself down a bit. “I guess I should give this back to you.” He reached into collar to pull out the cross necklace that Misato gave him, but she put her hand on his and shook her head. She quickly wrote down on the notepad. You keep it. Don't need it. He read the note and squeezed the cross tightly, nodding at her happily and holding her hand tight with his other hand.
Yesterday was the worst day in Shinji's life. Today was the best one.
After the reunion the four talked with each other for bit and caught up on the others for about twenty minutes, with Shinji and Asuka filling in Misato on what happened with Rei and what they knew about Patrick and the “mysterious” British girl pilot (as Shinji described her). Before too long a nurse came in and whisked away everyone to check on Misato. Kaji also then made his leave, promising to see them as soon as possible.
Still heavily sedated, she slept for a while until a nurse again entered to check on her. A moment later a physician appeared, a short balding European man with a large mustache who spoke to her in French-accented English and after doing a cursory check removed the breathing tube. The removal was painful but Misato was much relieved afterward. A few minutes after the physician left the room she received two more visitors.
“Major!” Hyuga shouted as both he and Aoba ran into the room.
“Hey, guys!” Misato said as she tried to prop herself up out of bed. With less medication the pain was now much more noticeable to her.
Both of the controllers grabbed chairs and sat next to her. “You’re the first people I’m actually able to talk to,” she said as they sat down.
“You don’t know how glad we are to see you!” Hyuga replied, the relief clearly visible in his face.
She straightened herself up as much as she could, trying to at least be a little commanding. “Where do we stand right now?”
“The Alliance has taken over the whole GeoFront. You do know who they are, don’t you?” Aoba asked.
“I got a very short version already, and I’ve seen the Second and Third Children here, so I know some of the story. It seems like the whole world changed while I was away.”
“That wouldn’t be an exaggeration,” Aoba said. “Did they tell you about the Angel anomaly?”
“The pilots gave me their version. They said it was the First Child.”
“They may be correct,” Aoba said. “We scanned it in Central Dogma and the results came back ‘human’, not ‘angel.’ But the Alliance is calling it an Angel at this point.”
“Then let them think that way,” she said. “It’s probably good if they don’t know too much. Who’s in charge?”
The two officers looked at each other. “You, apparently,” Hyuga replied. “Commander Ikari is under arrest and is being held off-shore, and the Vice Commander and Dr. Akagi are…”
”Dead,” Misato finished.
“Correct. There’s no other department heads alive, either. You’re ranking officer for NERV right now.”
“Is there a NERV left?” Misato asked.
“The exterior fortress system is 98% damaged,” Aoba reported. “The GeoFront itself sustained massive damage, including having the top shell penetrated by a JSSDF N2. Lake Ashi then flooded the interior. There’s parts inside that look more like a swamp!”
“How many casualties?”
Both of them paused for a bit. “Nearly seven thousand confirmed dead, perhaps another six hundred remaining wounded or not,” Hyuga said. “Most were killed by JSSDF special forces when they came inside. They were executing everyone.”
All three of them were quiet for a while as the impact of Hyuga’s last statement drove deep. “We gave them orders to surrender,” Misato finally said.
“You can’t blame yourself,” Hyuga said. “This was extreme by any standard!”
“I know, but,” she sighed, “had we known what they were doing earlier many might have stood a better chance.” It was survivor’s guilt, Misato knew, but it was guilt nonetheless. “What about the MAGI?”
“Still operational,” Aoba said, “but no access to the core data. It’s been locked with a 1 megabit encryption key.”
“But the lights are still on,” Misato observed as she pointed to the ceiling. “They could just as easily shut this whole place down, now that it’s been overrun.”
“We don’t know why,” Aoba answered, shaking his head. “We tried to get Maya to access the system but she’s, well, beyond her limit at this point.”
“I suppose so. Where is she now?”
”Somewhere back in the hospital,” Hyuga told Misato. “She was sedated for a while then demanded to go to Dr. Akagi’s office to get something. After that she returned here.”
“Then we can’t count on her,” Misato concluded. “Are you two cooperating with the Alliance?”
Aoba pointed at Hyuga. “It was his idea!” Misato raised her eyebrows and looked at him.
“At least they’re not trying to kill us!” Hyuga said.
“You mean yet,” Aoba commented.
Hyuga himself was defensive. “Look, I don’t think they’re trying to start Third Impact or anything, which is more than I can for the UN or even the commander! Like it or not they saved our asses!”
“And I’m sure there’s going to be a hefty price to pay for that,” Misato said. “Are they at least behaving well?”
“Towards us, yes,” Aoba replied, referring to NERV personnel. “While familiar with EVA operations they’re not at all familiar with the GeoFront and our facilities. They can’t really get anything cleaned up or functioning without our cooperation.”
Misato smiled. “Good. I want both of you to keep cooperating, but keep me informed on everything you see as significant about our new landlords. I’m not about to hand over the keys just yet.”
Dressed in a hospital gown Rei stood by the window of her hospital room with her hand to the glass, watching as the silver EVA-04 picked up the remains of the Mass Production Series and carried them one by one to a location deep inside the GeoFront. She looked out at the mess that was now the interior space. While some of the foliage was still unspoiled, there were large pockets that were devastated by fire or flooding or battle damage. Even after a day smoke could still be seen coming from various parts of the underground sphere. As the sun went down the rays of sunlight reflected over parts of the sphere walls, casting shadows over the inner spaces.
She had spent her whole life here, inside the GeoFront or in the environs of Tokyo-3 on the surface. Now she looked upon the remains of what was left. Nearly all of her familiar surroundings were marred, scared from the battle or destroyed outright. With the Commander now a prisoner and Akagi and Futsuyuki dead she was truly an orphan, alone upon a new world that was on the horizon.
Yet she knew she wasn’t really alone, watching as both Units 01 and 02 began to join Unit 04 in the cleanup. She had made connections in this new world already and found herself with feelings of both fear and anticipation of what was to come. But NERV had been the only home she ever had, and the source of her life in more ways than one. Surviving outside of it would present challenges ahead, and not small ones.
“Ayanami-chan?” The voice came from behind her. Rei turned around and saw Maya standing in her room. Still wearing her NERV uniform, she appeared weary and her head hung low. Rei was motionless as Maya approached her and placed in her hand a small black leather bag that looked like an organizer.
“I know how Sempai was keeping you alive,” Maya said to her softly. “I figured that I better give this to you.” Maya unzipped the organizer Rei was now holding and showed the contents inside. There was a syringe and three vials of orange-colored liquid, along with a series of post-it notes in Dr. Akagi’s handwriting.
The liquid was a LCL stabilizer, necessary to keep Rei's body from being destroyed from within. Her weekly injections had been a necessary part of her existence since ever she was created, another symbol of her synthetic nature.
“There’s more downstairs, in her laboratory” the controller told her. “Enough to last a lifetime.”
The blue-haired girl looked at Maya. Her skin was pale, her eyes were sunken in with dark circles, and her hair was a tussled mess showing none of the neatness she was usually known for. Despite her disheveled appearance Maya still gave Rei a broken smile.
“You're free now,” she said. “Please live a good life, Ayanami-chan.” Maya Ibuki then turned and walked slowly outside, stumbling into the hallway.
Go to Chapter Twenty-Seven