|Eva: Light and Water
Author: soul.assassin.547 PM
SEELE sent Kaworu Nagisa to Tokyo-3 as its envoy for NERV, but as soon as he arrives he becomes involved, facing the challenge of trying to change the people around him, especially the Children. Above all, sometimes prophecies aren't carved in stone.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Suspense - Kaworu N. & Rei A. - Chapters: 47 - Words: 349,972 - Reviews: 107 - Favs: 66 - Follows: 44 - Updated: 09-26-12 - Published: 01-10-04 - id: 1681787
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
And she was really beat-up this time, dust clouds kicked up around and over her head, as Misato Katsuragi, then a second lieutenant, coughed and wheezed while lying on her back, having been slammed down to the German ground, as trainees in BDUs, ringing around the combatants as spectators, cheered and hollered loudly at her to get up again and try to take a shot again at the opponent.
Momentarily Misato had a glimpse of blue sky right above her, before snapping her head down for eyes to lock on her opponent, who still stood with his feet almost apart, fists clenched, chest heaving, sweat dripping in rivulets and completely soaking his olive-drab tank-top, his face dirtied, crew-cut hair glistening in the light, and lips forming an arrogant smirk.
Colonel Miles Quaritch.
True to his word, the old-man sonofabitch was totally unbeatable, despite that Misato held a brown-belt in aikido, a martial art she first learned at Todai (Tokyo-2 University) and then later at the Defense Academy on Miura Island (which broke off the mainland, the rift first splitting through Kamakura and ending at what was left of Yokohama, the island effectively a byproduct of the Second Impact).
Momentarily with a probing tongue assessing for battle damage, Misato tasted something coppery in her mouth. Oh, a cut lip or a loose tooth, and she hoped it was the former or she may have to visit the training camp's infirmary the next morning and have the dentist fix it.
But for now she pushed herself upward, to a sitting position, and spat on the dirt, a crimson-tinted saliva stain the size of a coin, before using her left arm to wipe the blood off across the lips.
Her conscience was in a dilemma, deciding whether she could keep on going or throw the towel right here and now; if she could finish this impromptu smoker match, Misato could be the first woman trainee in this camp to win the prize money, about several thousand Euros chipped in, no strings attached, and what she could do with this hunk of cash?
More genuine German beer at the roadhouse bierstube outside the Global Protection Enterprises training base, of course, and sloshing in real frosted-cold mugs, and make herself and the rest of her class intoxicated than all of Fort Lauderdale's college population during Spring Break, or given her nationality, more than the number of drunken-old-businessmen-with-tie-around-their-heads oyaji in what used to be Roppongi during midnight.
"Still feeling soft, Lieutenant?" Quaritch chided, hard and disapproving eyes staring back at Misato as he smacked his lips. "I could taste that beer, lady."
Misato then heard catcalls and laughter from the watching trainees, as Quaritch flexed and cracked his knuckles.
"Kuso," she spat out, the native, all-purpose cuss word being the closest thing to fuck you, sonofabitch.
In wordless, mocking response and in imitation of the late Bruce Lee by twitching the fingers inwardly on his right hand, Quaritch gestured to Misato to get up on her feet, which she did, dusting herself and flexing the neck sideways, giving out an impression she could go for another round.
As cheers and hoots erupted around Misato, trainees' boots stomping on the ground, the old warrior nodded in approval.
"Bring it on, Katsuragi," Quaritch dared with a mocking tone in his voice. "You're no more special except to fold some paper and arrange flowers."
"Just like I said before when I came here, I don't need special treatment, sir," Misato retorted.
Quaritch suddenly grinned. "Well, I wonder if the only time you scream and cry is when you're in bed. Is that true?"
Momentarily Misato's face turned beet-red, as if somehow this man found out her personal life, and now told the world around her she was just as good for sex. This she took as an insult, and without thinking Misato suddenly charged forward at Quaritch, who was ready to give the young woman a fine thrashing.
Quaritch opened his eyes, staring back at himself in the mirror, catching his breath as waterdrops slid down on his face, then depositing themselves onto the bottom of the sink. His nose, however, was overwhelmed by the sharp odor of his vomit.
He blinked, and then took a deep breath to recover himself before reaching out to a filled syringe containing the antidote needed to combat the growing pangs of a type 2 cancerous infestation threatening to cut down his system completely.
The otherwise healthy and impregnable military man then brought out a thick rubber cord, which he then used to tie his left arm to limit blood circulation, before picking up the syringe, pushing the plunger a little to remove any air bubbles.
Again with a deep breath, Quaritch eyed the invisible target on his left bicep, where the needle should be penetrating the correct blood vessel, then quickly stabbed the syringe in, driving the plunger until it was empty.
Pulling out the needle, and then covering the injection point with an alcohol-soaked pad using his right hand, Quaritch stood still, letting the antidote course its way through his system, until he could feel the nausea go away. Only then he can breathe easy, taking in more fresh air into his lungs.
Now he sorted out the thoughts he had in the few minutes prior to being assaulted by the early symptoms of the fatal disease gnawing into his body, and then the moment he puked into the basin, furious and ashamed of this small moment of weakness, cursing himself for not being able to catch this bug in time.
And then he wondered… No, he remembered fighting Misato Katsuragi in hand-to-hand combat under the withering German sun, with the dust, salty sweat, the iron odor of blood; the coppery taste of adrenaline and fury, if not fear.
"We'll be seeing each other soon enough," Quaritch told himself.
END OF EVANGELION: BLOOD AND WATER
THE FINAL SEASON
CHAPTER 44: CONSENSUS
An alternate path fanfiction by soulassassin547
Written on 5/6/2012 3:10 a5/p5
Summoned immediately after Fuyutsuki's speech, the division chiefs were walking briskly to the conference room designated for the emergency meeting. Some of them were very skeptical of Misato's findings, but they also wanted more evidence of SEELE's complicity.
Once they entered the room, Misato was waiting for them, holding Kaji's steel box in hand, and she was staring right into their eyes. Standing to her right was Shinji and Asuka; to her left was Fuyutsuki, Akagi, and Hamamoto, and to the right were Tsutomo and Natsumi.
Even Paul and Trudy were also present, along with their commanding officer of the air wing, Lieutenant Colonel Sherman Billings.
A tall African-American hailing from Mobile, Alabama, Billings was once a member of the elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). As a helicopter pilot of that regiment, Billings flew MH-60 Blackhawks and V-22 Ospreys during the Second Korean War, ferrying SEALs and Delta Force operators deep into enemy territory, and sometimes also participated in close-in air support using the Cheyenne gunship. After nearly twenty years of service, the Pentagon recommended him and his expertise to NERV in order to train and take command of that organization's small air wing.
But what surprised them was Kaworu Nagisa's presence, standing along with Rei, their hands clasped together.
"What the hell that kid's doing here?" one of the division chiefs loudly demanded, as his fellows stood in hesitation. "He's an Angel, right?"
Misato calmly nodded. "Yes," she said.
"But…?" the skeptical division chief stammered.
"Is it a problem?" Hamamoto asked as he pulled out a piece of paper and, fully unfurled, flashed it right into the chief's face. "All charges have been dropped, and therefore he's no longer a threat to this organization."
"He's really one of us now," Misato clarified. "Don't worry, he has already said sorry to me, and if you need any more convincing, well..."
And then without batting an eye, Misato upturned the box, pouring its contents over the table, dozens upon dozens of sheets and folders and photos fluttering down, stunning her audience.
The wide-eyed division chiefs stared at the pile on the table, and back to Misato, who then said, "Let's get started and sort all of this, shall we?"
They looked at each other in the eye, and after a moment faced Misato again and every one of them nodded.
She was right this time, and in overall command.
Thirty minutes later, the senior division chiefs were flipping through pages, staring at photographs, and whispering quietly about the explosive revelations that the late spy had accumulated throughout his entire career as a triple agent. Their minds were now building up a sufficient picture of SEELE's capacity, clout and its global reach.
Although the table had cigarette ashtrays placed for convenience, for out of respect for the minors present, the habitual smokers reluctantly refrained from pulling out their packs to light up, so they had to weather the pangs of nicotine deprivation for as long as possible and make do with cans of coffee and boxes of nicotine patches.
As she watched them examine the files, Misato said, "All of it might not stop SEELE from carrying out their plans, but if we expose them with their pants down, this could give us the advantage we need the most."
Several of the chiefs nodded in agreement.
"So, what does this leaves us to do?" Hamamoto asked. "Of course, we'll be facing two possible opponents, unless we hope the Jietai do an about-face, which is more of a snowball's chance in hell to me."
"All right… Before we begin refining our defense strategy, let's take a look at our assets," Misato said, nodding to Makoto to bring up the following data on the screen:
DISPOSITION OF FORCES
NERV Ground Units:
Raytheon Patriot SAM/ABM PAC-3 Missile Launchers x 20
Cadillac Gage Stryker APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) x 10 (opt: SAM, arty, anti-tank, ELINT, commo, command)
Humvee Patrol Vehicle (with crew-served support gun) x 10
Komatsu LAV (with crew-served support gun) x 20
Humvee SAM (Surface-to-Air-Missile - Sparrow/AMRAAM) Defense Vehicles x 10
Regular Patrol Vehicle x 20
NERV Second Section Security Force x 1 battalion
NERV Fifth Section Defense Line Force x 2 battalions
NERV Air Units:
AV-24C Lockheed-Martin Cheyenne II Heavy Attack Gunship x 10
CH-53R Sikorsky Heavy Helicopter Transport x 10
MV-22D Agusta-Bell Pave Osprey Transport x 5
UH-60F Sikorsky Blackhawk Medium Helicopter Transport x 15
Predator Drone UAV x 10
"Right now," Misato said, pointing at the list, "This is what all we have, only a mere fraction compared to the guys at our doorstep, and with such a limited size, it's necessary that we have to improvise with whatever we have, creating force multipliers that would give us more time to survive."
Hamamoto, who was sitting rather in a relaxed manner, said, "History has taught us that being ill-prepared for the unexpected, along with lax security, has resulted in grave loss of lives and equipment. As we're the fine line between SEELE's plan for rearranging life as we know it, and salvation of the human race, they'll stop at nothing, unless we give them a bloody nose, which is why I, after this meeting, shall begin a training program to get as many volunteers to beef up our defense."
"Thank you, Director," Misato said.
Hamamoto nodded. "No problem, Colonel. It's my business that we should not leave ourselves to chance."
Misato's gaze wandered around the table. "Okay, what else do we have?"
Colonel Billings raised a hand.
Billings cleared his throat. "If you're wondering what's up with my division, except for the one Cheyenne we lost days ago to ground fire, the entire gunship fleet is otherwise in pretty good shape, at 90% availability. Our transports also have the same nice figures, thanks to our mechanics, spending enough time to maintain them almost like new." He then proudly produced a grin.
"Great, but what about the munitions?" Misato asked.
"Very ample," Billings said. "We still have 368 pieces of Hellfires, 52 sets of Hydras, and some twelve thousand 20mm rounds for the guns. All that is still enough to give enemy armor some thought, unless they start firing portable SAMs at us."
"You have countermeasures?"
"We've covered that already two days ago, retrofitting the gunships with emission control packages and more flare and chaff projectors."
Misato smiled. "Very impressive. Anything else, ladies and gentlemen?"
"I've made up a task list for the medical division," Natsumi said, rising from her seat. "My people will begin setting up field triage facilities for convenience and immediate access, but we'll also try our best to stockpile the medicines, equipment and supplies needed to meet casualty projections."
"Has the MAGI computed that figure?" Fuyutsuki asked.
"Yes, and done that, sir, while everyone else were checking out those papers here," Natsumi said. "Given the odds, I'd say the figures could approach 70 percent, maybe even more."
Almost everyone in the room groaned.
"But we can try to bring that figure down further, as I'm assigning some of my people with military experience to work as medics in the field. They'll have to work alongside with the perimeter troops, and of course, should be able to shoot."
"I see," Fuyutsuki nodded. "It is very understandable that your division will be important should the balloon goes up."
"Thank you, sir." Natsumi then sat down.
A division chief on the left side of the table raised his hand, having put down his phone first. Misato read off his nameplate: Hanamura; this man was responsible for his division, which operated and maintained the perimeter defense batteries emplaced throughout the Hakone area of operations.
"Yes, Mister Hanamura?"
"I have personally instructed my men to get some of our best weapons off the defense lines, as many as they can bring in," Hanamura said. "That includes several heavy-caliber autocannons and missile launchers. Sure, they'll just bounce off an Angel like peas, but still more than enough to eat through tank armor, as the rounds are tipped with depleted uranium or tungsten."
"They're doing it right now?"
Hanamura nodded. "Yes, at this moment, Colonel, but do you have anything more on the opposition? I'd like to know what they could dish out on us."
Obliging Hanamura, Misato then nodded to Makoto, who then brought up the JSDF and the GPE/SEELE order of battle on the projection screen, before they began discussing about their potential adversaries.
The Strategic Self-Defense Force, but still referred to as Jietai, was borne out of the decision to amend Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, an American-drafted document which once put the military on a pacifist leash since World War Two, and in the wake of the destruction wrought by the Second Korean War.
Therefore, the Jietai was no longer a heavily-armed "national police force" but a true standing army in the essence of the word, with personnel numbering more than half a million strong, some of them active duty, some others serving as reservists.
Since then, the Jietai, by leaps and bounds developed its own domestic arsenal, which in the beginning consisted mostly of license-produced copies of foreign weapon platforms, until it had one of the most powerful militaries in East Asia, second only to China yet comparable to Israel's highly-trained Defense Forces.
With Article 9 now revised without the pacifist provision in the 2004 Constitution, the Jietai was authorized, by parliamentary approval, to be deployed overseas in support of the United Nations, and if necessary provide active combat support to its allies. Despite some handful of lives lost in combat (and outrage from left-leaning and pacifist groups), the Jietai acquired credible military experience not seen since World War Two, and this experience was then applied to their training regimen, especially on live-fire exercises at the barren land north of what was once Tokyo.
Their navy now possessed guided missile cruisers with firepower greater than the ill-fated imperial battleships Yamato and Musashi; the army was equipped with heavy main battle tanks and attack helicopters; and the air force was sending aloft home-built stealth fighters on par with the F-22 Raptor, armed with long-range missiles.
But the Jietai, of course, had a dozen Non-Nuclear (N2) modular tactical weapons with a yield of up to three kilotons each, and they have used one before on the very first Angel assault (which didn't work but nonetheless the first detonation of a weapon of mass destruction on Japanese soil since Nagasaki).
The GPE, according to Jane's All the World's Private Military Companies, held the largest privately-held military force outside of any government. Founded in 1995, it has around 5,000 personnel, with more than half of them former servicemen of elite military forces, all under the current command of Colonel Miles Quaritch, once an officer in the elite Delta Force (US Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta).
Thanks to its connections to defense corporations, seeking interested parties to test their equipment, this company also had its own small navy (including missile boats armed with guided anti-ship Exocets), a small air force (consisting of MIG-29s, Sukhoi Su-27 Flankers, Israeli Kfirs, helicopter transports and attack gunships, notably the C-21 Dragon heavy gunship), and an armored battalion, with battle tanks, APCs and Amplified Mobility Platforms (called AMP suits, enabling a trooper to carry very powerful weaponry and other huge loads in a combat environment under all conditions).
Publicly, the GPE is noted in providing security for large multinational businesses and diplomatic posts operating in dangerous countries, as well as training the militaries of smaller nations. But for an extra cost, the GPE also covertly employs its forces in offensive operations at the request of their wealthy customers, including industrial espionage, assassination, kidnapping, smuggling, and sabotage.
Nevertheless, with Kaji's dossiers revealing its connections, GPE's main loyalty lay with SEELE, and therefore will be more than capable of carrying out Lorenz's mandate by brimstone and fire.
After the review, Hanamura shook his head in disbelief, and said, "Seems that the world is against us, eh?"
"Not necessarily," Misato replied, setting aside the folder that she was reading.
"How so?" Hananura doubted.
Fuyutsuki stood up and answered, "We have to send everything we know to the rest of the world, tell them what's really going on here, so excuse me, Mister Hyuga."
Makoto looked up, his eyes taken away from Misato's laptop, which he was using to monitor the newsfeeds around the globe.
"Yes, sir?" he asked.
"What's the current situation going on around us?" Fuyutsuki asked.
The junior officer used his finger to scroll down to read off items of interest.
"I've just found out that the Pacific fleet of the Russian navy had set sail for their annual winter exercises, supposedly a hundred or so kilometers away from Vladivostok," he said. "Or so their PR claims, but that can be of grave concern for us."
In reaction Fuyutsuki's forehead furrowed. "Go on," he said.
"Coincidentally," Makoto continued, "The Russian air force is also conducting extensive joint exercises with the Chinese, in Manchuria. They're running the usual lessons: close-in air support, bomber interception, air-to-air combat, and suppression of air defenses… and oh, another thing about the Committee members, sir."
Makoto cleared his throat. "We have at least one very high-profile report about this Evgenyi Starayakov, who happens to be the head of the Russian petroleum consortium. His PR rep said he's taking a leave of absence due to medical reasons. He's not the only one getting off the grid, as several more of these fogeys are making excuses."
"Not good," Fuyutsuki remarked. "What about elsewhere? How the Americans, the Chinese and the Europeans are reacting to this?"
"Good thing you asked about it, sir," Makoto replied. "In the last three hours, our reconsats have picked up very high levels of communication traffic between their defense satellites, with some possibly making orbital adjustments to make passes right over us. There's some voice traffic too, with their ships at sea and at diplomatic outposts. But we haven't mentioned about our branches."
"Oh, I forgot them," Fuyutsuki said. "What are they doing right now?"
Makoto shook his head. "I'm sorry sir, we've repeatedly tried to contact them, but still no responses. Nothing from Cambridge, Frankfurt, or even Matsushiro, as if… they don't exist at all."
The chiefs grumbled in disappointment and anger.
Fuyutsuki sighed. "With their complicity in the development of the S2 Engine and the Dummy Plug," he said, "both finished without our knowledge, I'm not surprised, as they've even turned our branches against us."
"That's right, sir," Misato grimly agreed. "We're on our own now."
The old man took a moment to gaze his eyes on the chiefs and subordinates, and then spoke.
"Does anyone wishes us first to negotiate with the Prime Minister?" he asked, implying that he wanted an informal vote on the matter. Fuyutsuki turned to Misato, and added, "We have good reason why we should."
Misato nodded, then took out the SD card from her pocket and eyed it for a moment.
"He's right, we have to scare the hell out of the Prime Minister," she said. "Now, anyone who knows this guy, he's a lame duck in most cases, he's still taking heat from all sides since the last election, faltering on his promises, and worse, especially that little affair he had with some AV star."
Almost everyone in the room gave out chuckles, breaking the tense mood that permeated the air since the start of the meeting. The whole country knew of the Prime Minister's public gaffe, which nearly forced him to resign.
"The Chairman may boast that he has everything in his pockets," Misato said. "But in reality not all will agree to his wishes, for men have their own minds and can decide on the basis of their strengths and weaknesses. Some, like the Prime Minister, are sitting on the fence, seeing who would have the upper hand, and naturally they will go to the winning side with the most advantages.
"Now, I'm not saying that we can win easily, but our fates – and ultimately, of humanity – depends on who would join or fight us, and the leaders of the world have their reputations on the line, dependent on the people they serve.
"As our forces are limited in experience, size and firepower, and even with the Evas as our trump cards, if we do not succeed in winning the hearts and minds of those politicians, it will be the end of everything we fight for, and the victory we want will be snatched completely in the Chairman's favor.
"However, try as he might to proclaim he is the most powerful man on Earth, and hence confident in the power of his Evas, munitions and minions, Chairman Lorenz still has his own doubts eating at his will, impatient and hungry, blinded by his own power and avarice, and I'm pretty sure he's looking at us, thinking, scheming, trying to come up ways to destroy us several times over, and he fears losing the opportunity to remake the world as he sees fit. Furthermore, there will be many factors that are beyond his control, just like Kaworu right here."
Kaworu nodded in acknowledgement.
"But if we could have the rest of the world on our side, and with a little luck if we play our cards right," Misato continued, "and win and survive this altogether, I'm really sure a new age will dawn upon mankind."
"And soon you'll become a schoolteacher, neh?" Tsutomo quipped, recalling their earlier conversation that was interrupted by the roadside ambush.
Misato grinned as others laughed lightly. "Make no mistake, Tomo, I'll be there," she said before nodding at Fuyutsuki, who then cleared his throat.
"Those who agree, you may raise your hands," Fuyutsuki finally said. "If we have to survive longer, let's put a lot of pressure on the world's governments, especially the Prime Minister and many others like him."
Without hesitation, everyone, including the chiefs, showed their hands up, and Misato counted them, before she faced Fuyutsuki and nodded.
There was now an unanimous agreement: everyone said "yes".
Misato then turned to Makoto, who was still perusing her laptop, connected to the Internet, to monitor the news feeds and the current status of the entire base.
"Let's upload all of this to Wikipee," she said, "email it all to every news agency on the planet, fax it out to anywhere from the Kremlin to the White House. Spam the globe with it, no questions asked, no holds barred."
Makoto nodded. "Sure, the lines are still open," he said. "Except for the MAGI-specific network protocols, which have been locked down for the duration."
She then gave the SD card to him, placing it squarely into his open palm.
"I want you to set the world on fire," Misato said, not knowing that they were almost the same words that St. Ignatius of Loyola once proclaimed hundreds of years ago.
With a mere nod Makoto slipped the memory card into the reader slot, and began to work.
For its data and voice communication needs on a daily basis, NERV Main Headquarters Japan was exclusively serviced with six dedicated 38-gigabit OC-768 SONET fiber-optic lines provided jointly by NTT and KDDI, enabling the organization to send and receive massive amounts of data in terabytes, mostly between the MAGI supercomputers installed in every major NERV base, using the proprietary and heavily-encrypted MAGI-TCP/IP protocol, personally developed and deployed by the late Doctor Naoko Akagi.
A portion of this monster bandwidth, a 1-Gbit block, was devoted for standard TCP/IP networking, which was just as heavily secured by a triple firewall, a proxy, a DMZ, and a black-hole filter, all of it also created by Akagi to meet and exceed existing security standards, allowing smaller computers and associated networks to access the Internet safely at very high speeds.
To augment the existing fiber-optic connections, especially during emergencies should the hardened mainlines are rendered inoperable or destroyed, NERV had its own satellite communications network, called NERVSTAR, with four satellites covering every quarter of the planet in geosynchronous orbit (at 35,786 km above the surface of the Earth). To use this other network, an aboveground satellite dish farm was installed on top of one of the Hakone peaks, linked to HQ via fiber-optic link.
With Maya and Shigeru assisting him, in a few minutes Makoto had organized and compressed all of Kaji's files into a single ZIP 4 gigabytes in size, roughly the same size of a DVD, then opened up an email program that he would then compose a message and attach the ZIP file.
Using a bot program which collected all the email addresses of every major government and agency in the world, as well as several more belonging to many news agencies and known whistleblowers, and compiled them into a list, Makoto pasted the list into the "To" field, and typed the following message:
My name is Lieutenant Makoto Hyuga, a staff officer belonging to the Special Agency NERV, General Headquarters Japan, and on behalf of Commander Kozo Fuyutsuki, who has authorized this course of action, I have sent this message to you with the utmost urgency.
To anyone who receives this message, what you will have is a file containing all information concerning the Second Impact and the organization responsible for its occurrence. Although the original source and compiler of this information is now dead, murdered in cold blood, the contents of this file can still be confirmed for authenticity against existing documentation, including those in the public domain, or considered incriminating and therefore highly classified and kept secret from the public.
Anyone who possesses this information must disseminate it as quickly as possible, for the world to know that the secret organization known as SEELE, through its armed forces by proxy, would soon assault this base and possibly kill all of its personnel and take possession of the Evangelions for their illicit use, to initiate a Third Impact that could possibly spell the end of mankind as we know it, with more destruction than Second Impact.
To those in higher office, may we hope that with this information you could act decisively to help us stop SEELE from trying to seize control of this base, for in your hands is the fate of humanity.
Only the truth can save us now.
Makoto turned to Fuyutsuki and Misato, who were watching him compose the message for the last few minutes, and for approval he asked, "What do you think?"
"Very good," Fuyutsuki said after scanning the finished message. "That will give them a very rude awakening, so send it."
"Yes sir," Makoto answered, and with his hand guiding the mouse, he clicked on the SEND button.
The message, with its voluminous attachment, left the room at near the speed of light, to the main datacenter, where, with its email server, quickly replicated the message into several copies, before the gigabit router shook hands with the SONET router and fired away thousands of data packets into the dedicated trunk line leading out into the world, connected to a NTT exchange building located in Odawara City.
From there the email spread out to other outlying networks across Japan, and to undersea fiber-optic cables connecting Odawara to neighboring stations in San Francisco, Melbourne, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Singapore, the signal boosted and carried over by cable repeaters separated for more than 100 kilometers between each other.
In less than 45 seconds, the email reached the other side of the world, copies dropped into every inbox, awaiting the recipient to open and read it, not expecting its contents to be shockingly capable of changing the course of history.
The email program installed in Misato's laptop now told Makoto that the transmission was complete. He then read off the time on his watch, implying to his superiors that a little patience will be needed.
"In a few minutes, we'll get our answer," he said.
From that point nobody inside the conference room spoke a word, anxiously awaiting for the inevitable reply, some of them silently envisioning how the Prime Minister would react, such as spitting out his coffee upon opening and reading the attachment.
After several minutes, Makoto said as he peered at the screen, "We have an incoming transmission. It's him, all right."
"Bring it up on the main display," Fuyutsuki ordered.
The Prime Minister appeared onscreen, as he chose to speak via videoconferencing, introducing himself to those present, and nodded.
"Sub-Commander Fuyutsuki," the PM said. "We have received your email, and by now you should have read our preconditions, hoping that your organization should have complied promptly… Yet what is this attachment that you have thrown in? This is too large!"
"Your Excellency," Fuyutsuki coolly replied. "I insist that you must see it for yourselves, for it would be most unwise to ignore the severity of the situation we are facing."
"Very well, then," the PM said. "Now where is Commander Ikari?"
"He was arrested earlier for treason and other charges, and is currently under our watch, and I am presently in charge of this facility."
The PM looked surprised. "Why have you not brought him to us now?"
"I'm afraid that since he is completely incapacitated, we cannot meet your demands until Ikari is fully awake."
The PM frowned. "Why?"
"Again, you must first review the files, and then we shall consider your demands, as well as you looking into ours."
"And what are they?"
"One, we need more help to defend this base from SEELE forces," Misato said. "Two, we want guarantees that noncombatants here are given safe passage, and three, only after we successfully stop SEELE from taking control do we will comply to deactivate the Eva program thoroughly and hand Ikari over to you."
Misato and Fuyutsuki nodded in unison.
"What if you're wrong?" the PM questioned. "Why we should trust you? You people have the capacity to destroy the world several times over, and we will not allow that to happen! Right now the Jietai are waiting outside."
Fuyutsuki cleared his throat. "As surrender is no longer an option, we would rather prepare ourselves to fight it out, to make sure the Evas and everything else does not fall into the wrong hands, even if we may have to pay it out with our own lives on the line. And if you don't believe us, would you like to be the last Prime Minister of Japan to preside over the end of mankind, with blood on your hands?"
This time the question hit the PM squarely that he was completely speechless for a minute until he said, "Let me consult my people on this matter."
Misato nodded, and then said, "Take your time, Your Excellency."
There was a minute or two of silence as the conference room settled down to contemplate and wonder what would happen next.
"Ritsuko," Misato said, breaking the impasse permeating the atmosphere.
The scientist looked at her. "Yeah?"
"Forgot to ask… How's the Evas are doing?"
"Oh, just wait a second," Ritsuko said as she signaled to Maya to hand over her iPad, and began playing her fingers around the touchscreen until she got the information she wanted.
"Well?" Misato asked.
"As of this minute," Ritsuko answered. "Both Evas are currently under regeneration, at around 90% of completion. Not too serious enough to force us to do a manual bonding and suture."
Misato nodded. "I see. Have you got any tricks for them?"
"I think we'll have to get started on the firmware and optimize it completely."
"We need to add a little more punch to their reflexes by halving the source code for the synapse circuitry, and then adjust the electrolyte mixture to increase the neuroelectric response speeds. Not only that, I've got to tweak the onboard computers and the fire control systems, and set them up for full-on combat."
Asuka held up a hand. "'Scuse me, but what about the weapons?" she asked excitedly as if expecting presents on Christmas Day.
In reaction, Ritsuko turned to her and smiled. "Hmmm… I can't tell you much about them, but they'll be quite a surprise."
The redhead frowned. "Aw, come on, why the mystery? Tell me!"
"I don't like spoiling the fun, you see," Ritsuko said before chuckling. "But anyway… I'll show them to you later, okay?"
Asuka nodded, although she was fuming a bit. "All right," she agreed grudgingly.
For almost an hour the Security Council debated heatedly over the authenticity of the documents, with questions as to who leaked what, who was responsible for the lapse in security, how big the extent and influence of SEELE, and so on.
But they were left stunned and speechless, just after watching the no-longer-top-secret Antarctica footage which shown the genesis of the Second Impact.
There was nothing else, but the video clearly delivered the message – more than volumes of Kaji's dossiers could ever try to convey – to them that if they fail to prevent Third Impact, as they saw in the clip, there would be no escape this time.
The GSDF general asked, breaking the silence. "Pardon me, Your Excellency?"
"Yes?" the Prime Minister said, who swung his seat to face him. He looked grim-faced, he was sweating despite the air-conditioning, rivulets of sweat slipping down the sides of his face.
The general thought he could even hear the faint hammering of the old man's heart. "Have you made up your mind? The troops are ready at your word."
"And what do you think, General?"
It seemed that the general consensus of the room was that the men gathered around this conference table were now of one mind.
Just as they were discussing about the exact details of the defenses to be erected to protect Headquarters, the video comlink window appeared on the projector screen.
The Prime Minister appeared, but looked worried this time, a stark contrast from his earlier firm and aggressive facial expression.
"We have reached a consensus, Commander," the old man said.
Fuyutsuki blinked at first, but then quickly composed himself. "Pardon me?"
The Prime Minister took a breath, and then said, "Starting after this, we are ready to send troops to help with the defense of your base. We should not let the enemy to destroy human existence, and should we win the day, it will be appropriate that the Eva program be shut down, and Ikari and Lorenz be brought to justice."
"And what about us?"
"There will be an amnesty for all NERV personnel, and we guarantee that no harm will be caused against you or any of your men, and you are free to reorganize or dissolve NERV as you wish. It means that we have nullified Order A801."
There was a momentary amount of deafening silence; they could not believe it, the Prime Minister somehow cracked under pressure, and now this fateful decision.
"Thank you, Your Excellency," Fuyutsuki said. "We're prepared to receive your forces as soon as possible."
The Prime Minister now looked relieved as his NERV counterpart. "My pleasure, Commander," he said. "We will contact you later, but should you need anything else, don't hesitate to call on us again."
Fuyutsuki made a wry smile. "Again, thank you."
Only once the comlink window closed did a huge whoop of cheering erupted within the conference room, this time with no need for protocol or restraint, with everyone shaking their hands with others in congratulations, hugging, high-fives, and in the case of the Children, they group-hugged with Misato, while Maya and Ritsuko hugged tightly, both women almost in tears.
As for Tsutomo and Natsumi, well, he simply yanked the woman off her chair and kissed real tight.
Hamamoto gave out a loud burst of laughter, and from his seat he stood up and clapped Fuyutsuki on the back, who looked as if he didn't mind.
"Damn, it worked! Katsuragi, you're a genius!" the old director exclaimed. "Commander, it's a miracle! The gods must be smiling at us!"
Disengaging herself from her wards, Misato can only manage a grin and said, "This wouldn't be possible without Kaji."
"You bet, I should raise a toast to him," Hamamoto said, before turning his attention to Fuyutsuki and smiled. "You know, sir…"
The new Commander stood up and straightened out. "Yes?"
"I know General Yamamoto personally," the old director said. "An old classmate."
"And surely he's your drinking buddy, right?"
"No kidding, I'm the godfather of his two sons. We both know that he'd been here before, but he lost his troops back when that first Angel went on attack. I bet he's sweating bullets right now, so by the time he comes down here later, he'll make you his best friend."
Hamamoto then smiled wistfully as he watched the two couples - Shinji and Asuka, Rei and Kaworu - kiss a little bit and whispered a few things amidst the cacophony of joy and laughter, despite the coming of the inevitable storm, and they have yet to see real combat.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Finally, after a very long spell and procrastination caused by severe breaks of concentration and distraction, and real life eating up so much time that should've devoted to this fic, I've finished writing this chapter.
Sure I had the images in my mind, but between the release of the last chapter and now, I could barely write a few more paragraphs, as it was maddening that I be disrupted badly, and before I could return to this chapter I feel tired.
But, anyway, I'm relieved that finally I have the time to work on this again (and other fics still waiting to be worked on). I hope that after this I'll have enough motivation and energy to finish this and more… and as always, C&C is welcome.