Author's notes: Before we begin, I would like to humbly apologize for taking so damn long to finish this chapter and also for having so little to show for all that time I spent. It wasn't that I suffered from writers block. To the contrary, I think I suffered a lack of motivation from the fact that I had this story planned out pretty much all the way to the end. In any case, I know you've all been waiting so patiently for this chapter. I'm afraid that this one will be rather anticlimactic. Bear with me and I promise that the action will start up again with the next installment (which, in all honesty, might take even more time to complete). However, don't lose heart my devoted readers. The story must and will go on. I swear it.
Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion, Godzilla or any affiliated entities. On with the show!
Chapter 15: The Second Armageddon
The Captain had throttled the boat up to as high a speed as he dared. He had promised a reduction of time of at least five hours, meaning that they could get to Tokyo 3 that much faster. Misato had already contacted the airfield to have their flight ready when they arrived. She had been about to call the Commander, but Ishiro intervened.
"We shouldn't use phones to relay this kind of information," said Ishiro, staying Misato's hand from dialing that all-important number.
"This is an emergency of the most urgent kind," protested Misato, "We need to have everything ready when you arrive or else it could be too late."
"From what I gathered from my probes, we have at least a week's time before we SEELE commences its attack," replied Ishiro, "But phones are unreliable and easily tapped. If SEELE learns that we are aware of its plans, they will advance their timetable and attack before we can arrive."
"Or worse," added Asuka, joining them, "They might decide it would be a good idea to kill us while we're separated from the Evas and NERV support."
"A week still leaves us with practically no time after we get back," said Misato, "If Commander Fuyutsuki isn't notified in advance, we won't be ready by the time the attack commences."
"I'll take care of that," announced Ishiro. He tapped his head, smiling slyly, "I'm willing to bet that SEELE doesn't have something to track this."
"What about that thing that cut you off from probing their minds and eavesdropping on them?" Asuka asked.
"Whatever it was," replied Ishiro, "My instincts told me that it was something separate, different. Whatever reasons it had for blocking my psychic probes were its own and not necessarily in accord with SEELE."
"Well," said Misato after a moment, "Do what you think is best."
Ishiro nodded. Whatever that thing was that cut me off, I hope that it isn't in league with SEELE or we'll be in real trouble.
In the darkness of Asuka's unused cabin, the two Cosmos conversed in quiet tones. "Should we tell them?" asked Mona rhetorically.
"It would be for the best," replied Lora, "If what Ishiro said is true, then they will need to know about it."
"However, considering what the truth is, knowledge of it might only breed mistrust with us," countered Mona.
"But if they are allowed to find this information out on their own the mistrust it breeds will be even worse," retorted Lora.
"We will leave the tale untold for the time being," said Mona.
"We will tell them eventually," pressed Lora.
"Yes," agreed Mona, "Eventually."
Ishiro calmly looked out over the bow. After his psychic conference with a rather surprised Fuyutsuki, he was feeling a little drained, but not from any overextension of his powers. As he leaned against the railing, his thoughts turned to their recent experiences on Infant Island. The particular image that captured his mind was the image of Orochi and Susanoo. There was something about that image that teased his mind; something…familiar.
Asuka joined him. "Penny for your thoughts 6th Child," she inquired.
Ishiro sighed. "I was thinking about that painting in the cave."
"You mean that one of the dragon and the storm god whatshisname?"
"It's Susanoo," growled Ishiro under his breath. He turned to look at Asuka. "I don't suppose it reminds you of anything. Does it?"
Asuka shook her head. "Considering I didn't even know about Shinto before that, I don't think it should jar any memories. Why didn't I ever learn about Shinto anyway? I do go to school in Japan after all. You'd think I'd learn something about all these old religions."
Ishiro shook his head sadly. "Nobody thinks that information is pertinent anymore. Since Second Impact, many religions have gone out of style. Not just Shinto, but Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Native American and African spirituality, and even Islam have just faded off the map. I guess people simply became too concerned with survival to worry about the hidden meaning behind things anymore. Of all the religions in the world, it seems that Christianity is the only one that actually remains active and well known. It probably has something to do with the Angels."
"You know," said Asuka, "I just had an idea. Why don't you ask the Cosmos about that painting? That kind of thing would be right up their alley, being from their island and all."
"That's true," agreed Ishiro. He smiled slyly at Asuka. "Maybe I should probe your mind and figure out what it is that makes you so darn smart."
He was instantly rewarded with a crushing blow to the noggin. "YOU DO AND I'LL MAKE SURE YOU CAN'T HAVE ANY CHILDREN! Keep your brain to yourself you pervert." She spun away and snorted disdainfully.
Ishiro sighed. "I think I liked her better when she didn't know I was reading her mind," he muttered quietly.
"What was that?" growled Asuka menacingly.
"Nothing," Ishiro squeaked meekly.
It woke up in phases, quite surprised actually that it was even alive. Gradually, King Ghidorah became aware of its surroundings. The first thing it noticed was them. The humans, the pathetic insects it had come to exterminate, they were everywhere. They surrounded King Ghidorah, inhabited the very building it occupied and even dared to trespass on its own body.
As if that insult wasn't grievous enough, King Ghidorah became aware of the fact that many parts of its body felt replaced. It realized that the humans had even gone so far to modify its own body instead of allowing King Ghidorah to heal on its own. Now it might never be whole again. King Ghidorah quickly became aware of one of the few emotions that it could feel, rage.
It had to lash out. It had to smite these worthless parasites that thought they could control it and disfigure the great King Ghidorah so. The humans had to pay in blood for the evils they had done to it.
Curb your anger. The voice seemed to come out of nowhere, echoing in the corridors of King Ghidorah's mind. King Ghidorah considered the voice curiously, as well as the mind that conveyed it. This wasn't the voice of that impudent human that had tried to probe Ghidorah's mind while it was still coming to Earth. This voice was different. Its mind belonged to someone powerful, superior, and worthy the mighty dragon's consideration.
Allow the humans to use you for now, continued the voice, Let them believe that they control you and act as they direct. Do so and I will not only restore you but will aid you in accomplishing that which you came here to do in the first place.
Had Ghidorah eyebrows, it would have raised them in surprise. This strange being seemed to know the reason it had come to Earth. It was even willing to aid the hydra in this task. Ghidorah consented to the thing's request.
You are wise. Soon, the world will tremble at the truth of your awesome power.
The voice, and the mind it belonged to, departed abruptly. Ghidorah calmed its mind and settled back down to rest some more. The humans had not yet realized that it was awake. That might yet be their undoing.
"The painting?" murmured Mona.
"We know little of that battle," said Lora to Ishiro, "That conflict occurred even before our time."
"But then how did it come to rest on the wall in Mothra's cave?" asked Ishiro, "Someone had to have painted it there."
Mona turned to regard Lora, "Maybe it was the previous Cosmos," she suggested.
"Previous Cosmos," Ishiro raised an eyebrow as he leaned back in his chair. He had just broached the subject of the painting he had found back on Infant Island.
"Yes, we Cosmos generally live for a long time," said Mona.
"But we are hardly immortal," finished Lora.
God, I hate it when they talk in turns, thought Ishiro, It's so annoying. Despite his agitation, he kept his face neutral as he continued. "So then this story may actually have been passed down through your people."
"It also seems to have passed down through your people," countered Mona.
"The story my people tell about Susanoo and Orochi is nothing like the painting," replied Ishiro, "In the Shinto legend, Susanoo literally wined and dined each of the eight heads into a stupor before cutting them off; hardly the awesome conflict dictated in your wonderful painting."
Lora nodded. "That is most certainly not how our legends tell it."
Ishiro leaned forward. "Could you please tell me then how your legends do tell it?"
Mona nodded to Lora, who began the story.
"This story was passed down through the eons by the Elias, our people, about the great one who fought the mighty eight-headed dragon that you know as Orochi. The great one is, of course the one you know as Susanoo.
According to our legend, the world was born of strife and all life was chaos. Every being, sentient or otherwise, struggled to stay alive during this trying time. They were all at odds with one another. But then the gods came. Nobody really knows where they came from or how they got there, but they were there nonetheless. The gods brought peace and tranquility to the world.
"But the chaos that had been caused in the days before the coming of the gods had already spiraled beyond the product of mortal actions and had taken on a semblance of its own. It became a malevolent entity that fed off the continued chaos until the gods put an end to it. In retribution, the entity took the form of a mighty eight-headed dragon and came to Earth, seeking to destroy that which had created it. The dragon wanted to return the world to chaos. But first it had to destroy the gods and the order they had created.
"The monster attacked and wreaked havoc across the world. However, one of the gods stood against it. The great god whom we know as the radiant one stood in the path of the mighty dragon and sought to fight it with all the power he could muster. In a fierce battle, the radiant one finally succeeded in defeating the dragon. He extracted the monster's spine and divided the body in two. One half he cast into the heavens to drift in the endless void. The other half he buried here on Earth, where he could guard it from anybody who tried to harness the dragon's terrible power. From the spine he had extracted, the radiant one forged a mighty spear, which he carried with him to his resting place at the bottom of the world."
Lora stood silent after finishing her story. Ishiro was also silent, digesting the information she had given him.
It bothered him. The more information that he gathered on this topic, the more familiar the entire situation seemed. It was coming to him in bits and pieces. This being was a god. He was referred to as the radiant one. He had forged a spear from Orochi's body. He rested at the bottom of the world.
Radiant one, thought Ishiro, Like a being of light. Then it struck him and his mind began to put two and two together. A god, the god that humanity found. He forged a spear. But a spear can also be called a lance. He rested at the bottom of the world, where Antarctica was. Could it be…?
"I don't believe it," he said at last.
"What is it?" asked Mona.
"I think I understand now," said Ishiro, "Your radiant one, our Susanoo, they both have an identity in common." He looked at the shocked twins, "He no longer rests at the bottom of the world but in the hand of Gendo Ikari. Susanoo, the radiant one, they are none other than the 1st Angel, Adam."
Both Mona and Lora stared at him in shock. "Then this SEELE you speak of…Could they be after the dragon's power."
Ishiro shook his head. "No. They don't want to destroy the world. They want to reshape it. Adam is the only thing they want. He is the only thing they need as far as they are concerned."
He got up and left the cabin, leaving the Cosmos alone with their own thoughts.
"It appears that we may not need to mention anything to him yet," said Lora.
Mona nodded. "But just because we can't see the strings doesn't mean that the puppet master isn't still using them. We should be cautious."
Lora nodded back.
"Uh sir," asked Maya, "Do we know who is going to launch an attack on NERV."
"I'm afraid we don't," replied Fuyutsuki.
"I'm still not used to this idea," muttered Makoto, "Our commander gets a psychic premonition from a guy halfway around the world that we're about to be attacked and we just follow his orders like it's any other day."
"You'll just have to get used to it," scolded Fuyutsuki, "I trust Ishiro's judgment and we know full well the extent of his powers."
"I thought he lost them after the King Ghidorah incident," remarked Shigeru.
"He appears to have regained them," replied Ritsuko, "I certainly am not harboring the thought that our Commander is having a delusion."
"I thank you for the vote of confidence," replied Fuyutsuki sarcastically.
"Any idea of what form the assault will take?" asked Maya.
"Not much of one," replied Fuyutsuki, "Apparently the ones responsible for the attack have their own psionic defenses. He did say that we have to prepare for a full scenario."
"A full scenario!" exclaimed Shigeru, "Your suggesting that this is a combination outside and ground assault."
"That is correct," replied Fuyutsuki, "Thus, the only way we can hold off any further attack is to maximize our defensive capabilities."
"When will the second and sixth children be arriving back at Tokyo 3?" asked Ritsuko.
"Their estimated ETA is twelve hours," said Fuyutsuki, "What is the status of the Evangelions and the remaining children?"
"Unit's 00 through 02 are still undergoing repairs. However we do expect them to be ready in the minimum time frame."
"And the pilots?"
"The 1st Child is ready on all levels for possible combat. The 3rd Child is still suffering from trauma resulting from the last battle…"
"What trauma?" demanded Fuyutsuki, cutting her off.
"You didn't know sir?" Ritsuko raised an eyebrow. "The 3rd Child suffered the loss of a close friend. His emotional state was considered fragile to begin with. Fortunately, he is making a recovery."
"Will he be ready?"
"People aren't like Evas. We can't just lay out a repair schedule for a person's emotions. There's no way of really knowing how well he'll be able to cope with combat conditions in consideration to the current time frame…"
"Your best guess Dr."
"…But I believe that with continued rehabilitation, he will be ready in time."
"For all our sakes," said Fuyutsuki, "I hope you are right."
"So do I sir."
The door to Shinji's bedroom slid open. Rei quietly entered, bearing a tray of food. Shinji looked up, slightly surprised at the intrusion. Rei silently set the food down on the bed next to him.
"You need to eat," she said simply.
"I'm not hungry," said Shinji.
Rei suppressed a sigh. For a while, Shinji had been making progress. But when Asuka left in the company of Ishiro and Misato, leaving him in Rei's care, Shinji had entered an emotional slump. She could only hope that Ishiro and the others returned with sufficient time to help Shinji recover.
"Shinji," she said quietly, "Please eat."
"I said I'm not hungry!" Shinji snapped.
Rei took an involuntary step backward from Shinji's very palpable anger. Seeing the surprise and apprehension on her face, Shinji's expression softened. "I'm sorry, Rei," he said softly, "I just feel lonely."
Rei looked down at him. "I feel lonely as well. Without Ishiro here, there is nobody who seems to truly understand me."
She turned to go, but left the tray. Rei heard Shinji moving about behind her and thought that he was maybe deciding to eat. But then, his arms unexpectedly encircled her from behind. Shinji leaned his head against Rei's back and sighed softly. "I'm sorry," he whispered, "Asuka was right, I'm being selfish again. I got so wrapped up in my own pain that I forgot that other people around me might be suffering too."
"Do not be concerned," replied Rei, "I am glad that you are getting better."
Shinji smiled. "Thanks Rei." He let her go. As she left, Rei turned around to give Shinji a last look. "Eat," she said, indicating the food she had set out. Shinji nodded. Rei left, closing the door behind her.
Asuka smiled and stretched gladly as she exited the plane. Ishiro yawned as he came out behind her. Misato looked like she had been run over by a small tank. Shinji, Rei and Ritsuko were there to greet them. Shinji looked much better than he had when they had left, making Asuka smile. As she came up, Asuka threw her arms around Shinji and hugged him tightly. Shinji, startled by the unexpectedly blatant show of public affection, turned a brilliant shade of red. After a moment's hesitation, he reciprocated, returning Asuka's embrace.
Ishiro and stood at a slight distance from one another. As he looked into her crimson eyes, Ishiro smiled. "It's good to see you," he said.
"I am glad that you are well," answered Rei. She returned his smile. They both then turned to look at Misato and Ritsuko.
Ritsuko looked at the disheveled major rather dubiously. "Withdrawal," she asked, trading a look with Ishiro.
"She went through the boat's entire supply of liquor before we were even halfway back," he answered. Ritsuko shook her head sadly. "Shameful," she muttered.
"I'm back," groaned Misato, "Now where's the booze?"
Despite the environmental trauma of Second Impact, the forests of Hokkaido seemed relatively untouched. The sudden change in the Earth's temperature had initially devastated the ecosystem of the forest, which had been suited for a much more temperate climate. However, thanks to the fact that all attempts at human development in the area had been completely halted by the devastation all those years ago, the forest was rebounding.
In the deepest portion of the forest, something awoke. It had slumbered beneath the forest for countless millennia. In the past weeks it had only just begun to awaken. Newly aware, it thrust itself against the bindings that held it in place. It strained the barrier to its limit, but the bonds held. There was no way it could escape its imprisonment. However, if it was awake, then that could only mean that its other had returned. Newly invigorated by this realization, it once again began to test its prison.
Both Mona and Lora trembled in fear. "I cannot imagine how it was awakened again," said Lora.
"It must have felt its other," said Mona.
"But the other has been destroyed," protested Lora, "There is no longer any other for it to call out to."
"Perhaps," said Mona thoughtfully, "Perhaps She is behind this."
"She could preserve its life," agreed Lora, "But it would need to be whole for the two of them to merge again."
"You are right," said Mona, "And the only thing that could restore it is the very thing that holds its other captive. And if She acquires it, then all we have done will be undone."
"We can only trust in those children," said Lora, "And in Mothra's chosen. They are the last obstacle in Her plan."
"Dinner's ready," said Shinji from the kitchen.
Asuka got up from her couch, bones groaning in protest. "Coming," she shouted as she stretched her slightly stiffened limbs.
A low moan sounded from Misato's room. "Let me sleep," she said, her voice barely audible through the sliding door.
"There's beer," Shinji prompted.
There was a slight pause, followed by an even louder groan from Misato's room. A few seconds later, the door slid open and the dreary looking woman trudged out and down the hall to the kitchen.
"Honestly," complained Asuka, "I shudder to think what would happen if there was a beer shortage. Can we trust command of our operations to a person who's on the verge of unconsciousness whenever she happens to be sober?"
"There's only one thing you can do," mumbled Misato as she sat down at the table and slumped across it, "Make sure you keep me good 'n drunk."
Asuka sighed and shrugged. Shinji actually chuckled as he brought the last of the food. Asuka noticed something unusual. "Hey, is it just me, or did you make a heck of a lot of food here?"
"I've got to make sure you stay fed," said Shinji, smiling broadly as he brought yet another dish to the table.
"Oh really," said Asuka, smiling slyly, "I noticed that you have the table set for seven."
As if on cue, the doorbell rang. Shinji's smile widened as he went to answer the door. It slid open to reveal Ishiro and Rei. "Are we late?" asked Ishiro. Rei said nothing but gave Shinji a small smile.
"You're right on time," replied Shinji. He ushered them in. As they entered, Shinji discreetly noticed that Rei and Ishiro were holding hands.
No sooner had Shinji slid the door behind him than the doorbell rang again. He opened the door again. "Hello Ms. Horaki," he said cordially.
"I'm glad to see that you're feeling better, Shinji," said Hikari as she came in.
"Is that you Hikari?" Asuka shouted from the kitchen.
Hikari went into the kitchen and soon the two close friends were talking up a storm.
Misato, in the meantime, had finally gotten her energy back after gulping down a couple of cans of beer. "I think I can guess who our last mystery guest is," she said with a grin.
A few minutes later, the doorbell rang one last time. Shinji once again got the door, letting in Touji. Neither of them said a word. Suddenly, Touji threw his arms around Shinji and held his best friend close.
"You know Kensuke wouldn't want us moping don't you," he said into Shinji's ear.
Shinji nodded and hugged Touji back. Together, the two of them made their way into the kitchen. As they ate, Misato carefully observed how happy everyone appeared to be. Ishiro was laughing at a joke Touji told him. Watching them, Hikari whispered something discreetly into Rei's ear. To Misato's surprised, Rei actually giggled. Asuka and Shinji were softly talking among themselves. Both of them were smiling. It seemed that even Shinji had finally managed to get over Kensuke's loss.
Misato grinned and suddenly broke into the conversation. "You guys all look like one big family," she said, grinning.
Shinji nodded. "We all figured it would be a good idea. Since there hasn't been school in a long time, we haven't all managed to get together for a while."
Dinner was the best thing they had all had since Kensuke's death. Misato could tell that everyone's spirits had been lifted by the event. After dinner, everyone stayed and they all pursued various games and activities. Shinji, Touji, Ishiro, and Pen Pen all played cards (on Ishiro's promise that he wouldn't use his powers to spy on anybody else's hand. Though Misato suspected he took the occasional psychic peek from time to time.) Asuka and Hikari were teaching Rei how to play a video game Hikari had brought with her. However, Rei proved to be a quick learner and soon turned the tables on the other two girls and was soon showing them some new tricks. Misato chose to sit back and observe the goings on. She sipped from a can of beer as she did so. For the first time in a long while, Misato felt as if a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
As they played, the boys conversed. Pen Pen held his tongue, choosing to squawk from time to time when he felt the game was lagging.
"So," said Ishiro, looking pointedly at Touji, "Now that it appears that my experiment has proven to be successful, are you interested in using the regenerator serum to replace your limbs?"
Touji's eyes widened at the unexpected question. "Are you absolutely sure that it's safe?" He asked. Touji was worried because, whatever the outcome, his sister was likely to be the next subject for the regenerator.
"Don't forget that Ms. Horaki wouldn't be with us tonight if it hadn't been for the regenerator serum that Rei had administered to her," replied Ishiro, "Not to mention the fact that it saved hundreds of other lives as well. Many of the victims the serum was used upon had injuries similar to those that were received by your younger sister."
Touji nodded. "What do you think?" he asked Shinji.
Shinji looked slightly baffled. "I'm not sure," he said hesitantly, "But I think that it would b a good thing for you to get your arm and leg back."
Touji nodded. Ishiro interjected. "In any case, your sister is already slated for an injection of the regenerator and a dose has already been reserved for that purpose. All we need is your word and we can administer the serum."
"What!?" yelped Touji, "I told you I wouldn't let you use it on her until I was sure that it was safe."
"And you may still hold me to that," replied Ishiro, "I was merely saying that we are ready to proceed when you wish."
"But why me?" asked Touji, "Mom, dad? Shouldn't they have a say in this?"
"You have been the one primarily responsible for the care of your younger sister," replied Ishiro, "It was your decision that in return for your services as a pilot, she would be moved to NERV's better funded and better equipped medical facilities. Since you took the initiative regarding her health, you are essentially the one responsible for the treatment she receives."
Misato had been eavesdropping on the conversation. It also means that Ishiro has made sure that Touji is the only thing standing between his sister and her recovery, she thought, That puts extra pressure on him to give the all clear for the treatment. I didn't think Ishiro would try something like that.
Touji fidgeted for a few moments, until a loud and insistent squawk from Pen Pen reminded him of the card game in progress. Touji played his hand then resumed his nervous fidgeting. He, of course, had no idea of the fact that Ishiro had put the pressure deliberately on his shoulders.
After a moment, he made his decision. "Fine," he said, "I'll get my limbs treated and let my sister get the injection."
"A wise decision," said Ishiro, as he laid his hand on the table for all the other players to see. It beat all of their hands easily. As always, I have all the cards, thought Ishiro smugly.
Having had sufficient amusement for the evening, the visitors to the Katsuragi/Ikari/Sorhyu residence bid their farewells and went their separate ways. Touji and Hikari went back to their respective homes, temporary ones that had been assigned after the destruction of Tokyo 3. Ishiro and Rei went down into headquarters. They each had their own rooms in the facility.
That night, Ishiro lay on the futon he had rolled out on the floor. He hadn't even bothered to pull a blanket over him as the night wore on. Of course, the temperature in headquarters was kept at a constant comfortable level to ensure optimal working conditions. Thus, a blanket or covering of any kind was unnecessary.
Once again, Ishiro reached out with his thoughts to try and learn what it was that SEELE was actually planning. Once again, he encountered the veil, a black wall between him and his objective. Damn, he thought, This is definitely the work of another psychic. But who?
He was so distracted that he didn't notice anyone approaching until the person knocked timidly on the door. Ishiro immediately shifted his focus to the visitor. After a brief mental scan, he realized that it was Rei. But she seemed abnormally apprehensive about something.
He slid the door open and looked at the girl outside. To his surprise, Rei was holding a futon. Ishiro had only sought to identify her when she knocked and thus had conducted a mere cursory scan of her thoughts. It had left him with her identity and a vague idea of her present emotional state. He hadn't bothered to determine Rei's actual intent.
"What is it?" he asked gently, sensing without the help of his powers that she was not at ease.
"I was nervous," replied Rei, "And I wanted to know if I could spend the night in here?" She hefted the futon draped over her arms to punctuate her statement.
"I see," replied Ishiro. He nodded. "Alright then," he said, "Come on in."
Rei stepped inside and laid out her futon next to his. Ishiro settled down on his mattress and looked over at the blue-haired girl.
"Is something the matter?" he asked.
"I am not sure, but I feel uneasy with this attack that is about to occur." She shrugged.
"So do I," replied Ishiro. Rei looked at him oddly. "There's something wrong going on here. Every time I try to use my powers to find out exactly what the attack is going to be, I can't actually penetrate the minds of SEELE. Someone has managed to block my powers."
"That is odd," commented Rei, "Do you know of anyone else who has psychic abilities."
"Not anyone that's alive today. The only other people that I've met who currently have any power are the Cosmos…" That brought Ishiro to a halt. "…No, it couldn't be them."
"If not them," said Rei, "Then who?"
"Who indeed?" wondered Ishiro. A yawn escaped his mouth. "I didn't realize how tired I was. Why don't we go to bed and figure out what to do in the morning."
Rei nodded. She laid out her futon next to Ishiro's. They quickly got into their respective beds. Feeling that Rei wasn't yet relaxed, Ishiro reached out and took her hand in his.
"We'll be okay," he said softly. He thought for a moment and added, "I think."
"You are not certain," observed Rei, "And yet you are not distressed."
Ishiro chuckled. "The funny thing about losing my powers for a while was that I got kind of used to not knowing everything. It doesn't feel so bad anymore."
"Perhaps you are simply becoming complacent," suggested Rei. Her tone was serious, but the smile on her face suggested otherwise.
Ishiro laughed. "Was that a joke Ayanami?" Rei only smiled in response. Ishiro tightened his grip on her hand. Without another word, the two of them began to drift off to sleep.
The entity once again thrust its power against the bonds that restrained it. It met with failure once again. However, it continued to do so, seeking to push the walls of its prison to their limit. However, it was cut off from its sustenance. Hunger undermined its strength. Pushing to the extreme limits of its awareness, it could feel the massive source of nourishment just above it. Only that cursed barrier stood between it and its return to full strength. Still, it had not choice but to wait. Perhaps its other would soon come and free it.
The sun had not yet risen when Ishiro awoke. As quietly as he could, he got up and went into the bathroom to change. He decided to forgo a shower, seeing as it might wake Rei. He probably didn't have to worry, Rei was a heavy sleeper. And besides, if she did begin to wake up, it wouldn't have been too difficult for Ishiro to gently nudge her mind back into slumber. However, that didn't feel right anymore.
After meeting with Mothra, Ishiro had come to realize the extent to which he had been abusing his power. He had gone through life wantonly probing the minds of anyone he encountered, without a thought to their privacy and their feelings had they known that he had read their minds. His respect for Mothra, after meeting her in moth (as opposed to in person) made him feel that using the power she had restored to him in such a way would sully her gift. And besides, Ishiro simply felt like he couldn't treat Rei in such a disrespectful manner.
Before he left, Ishiro was surprised to notice that Rei had done some tossing and turning during the night. Her motions had dislodged the thin blanket. The room wasn't ice cold. But it wasn't exactly warm either. For the sake of Rei's comfort, Ishiro knelt down and carefully pulled the blanket up so that it full covered her body once again.
As he looked her over one last time, Ishiro's eyes came to rest on Rei's face. He couldn't stop a smile from playing across his lips. She looks just like a sleeping angel, He thought, and not the world threatening kind either.
Ishiro hesitated for a moment. Then he leaned down and kissed Rei's cheek, softly brushing his lips against her smooth skin. Then standing up, Ishiro took his leave of the room, failing to notice that behind him, Rei was smiling.
"You've finally come back to work I see," commented Ritsuko without looking up.
"I couldn't stay away forever," replied Ishiro amusedly, "I've been spoiling you guys and you can't get anything done without me now."
Ritsuko snorted. "I doubt that very much young man. You may be a genius, but I still have a leg up on you in terms of experience."
Ishiro smirked evilly, "I could change that. One little mental probe and all of your 'experience' can be downloaded directly into my brain from yours."
Ritsuko finally did look up at him, her eyes narrowing dangerously, "Do that and you'll be one dead psychic."
Ishiro grinned, "Are there certain aspects of your 'experience' that you don't want me to know about?"
"That's none of your business," growled Ritsuko.
"In any case, we have much to do Dr. Akagi," replied Ishiro, "How do the defenses look?"
"Other than the Evas, we've got practically nothing," answered Ritsuko.
"I see," commented Ishiro, "What about our home defense."
"Your plan to protect against intrusion into headquarters," replied Ritsuko, "That is on schedule."
"Very good," intoned Ishiro, "Who knew that accident would contribute something so useful to us?
"Indeed," agreed Ritsuko.
"What about the Evas?" asked Ishiro.
"Unit 14 was virtually undamaged in King Ghidorah's attack and is fully operational," replied Ritsuko, "Unit 00 took the most damage. We are still replacing the artificial diamond armor that was lost in the attack. Units 01 and 02 both sustained heavy damage in the attack but have been fully repaired."
"Will Unit 00 be ready in time for the upcoming attack?" Ishiro wanted to know.
"I can't say for sure," replied Ritsuko, "But I think that it will be ready."
"Good." Ishiro was looking through some of the files concerning the G-cell regeneration project.
"What are you planning?" asked Ritsuko.
"Touji has given the go ahead to start the treatment for his sister," replied Ishiro, "I want to administer the regenerator serum today so that she'll be safe to move before the attack comes."
"How did you get Suzuhara to agree to this?" Ritsuko wanted to know.
"It was a simple matter of making him feel guilty for withholding effective treatment from his beloved sister when the methods being used have already been proven safe," replied Ishiro.
"Is that really an honest way to go about it," asked Ritsuko.
"No, but it is for the greater good," answered Ishiro.
You can be so damn condescending sometimes, thought Ritsuko.
"Hey, I heard that." Ritsuko winced reflexively.
Time passed and preparations for the assault continued. Meanwhile, SEELE had finally finished preparations for their attack.
Keel went down the final checklist as the twelve men set their plan into motion.
"Are Units 05-13 ready for deployment?"
"Is the dummy plug system ready?"
"Are the troops ready to move out?"
"They are awaiting your orders."
"Is IT ready?"
"Then without further delay, let us commence."
Finally, it has begun. All those fools dance like puppets on my strings. Even the two who know what I have in store don't really have any idea about what I plan to do. Everything is going as I planned. Those foolish men are not bringing about man's instrumentality, but humanity's extinction.
Author's notes: And that's it for now. It will probably take even longer to get this next chapter out as I plan on putting this story on hold while I do some serious catching up with my Rurouni Kenshin fic.
On a lighter note, I do get to say that I have finally achieved my goal of creating a plot twist that even my most perceptive readers have yet to figure out. At the end of the previous chapters, I got plenty of suggestions on what happens after SEELE's attack. So far, I can still say that nobody has guessed what I have planned. I'll probably have to bite my tongue soon though as I doubt that you readers won't be able to figure my plans out eventually.
I'll give you all one hint. This fic was originally intended to be solely an Evangelion/Godzilla crossover. However, the scope has broadened significantly to include a number of other works from Toho, including but not limited to the Mothra series.
I will update eventually and hope that you all have the patience to wait for me again.
Until next time...