Disclaimer: Xenosaga and Neon Genesis Evangelion belong to who they belong. What? You thought this was gonna be longer?
mystlady - thanks to my very first reviewer. I hope I can keep this story going.
And now, on with the story.
The girl's eyes open as the suns rays filter through the curtain, her red pupils staring up at the hospital ceiling. 'An unfamiliar ceiling,' she thinks to herself. As she tries to sit up, she notices her arm in a cast. Raising her left arm to her face, she also discovers that her head is also bandaged. Before her curiosity can get the better of her, the hiss of the room's doors calls her attention. Turning to face her visitor, she sees a woman with blonde hair dressed in a typical doctor's gown, her glasses reflecting the light just right to hide her eyes.
"How do you feel, Rei?" the person asks.
'Ritsuko,' her mind recalls. "I am operating at 67 capacity," she replies, causing the blonde doctor to raise an eyebrow in curiosity. "May I ask how long I was incapacitated?"
"You've been asleep for 3 days," comes the reply. "By my estimates you'll be healed within 20 days. You will resume piloting Unit-00 at that time."
"Affirmative. What are my directives until then?"
'Rei is acting a bit strange,'Ritsuko thinks before putting it off as something Rei would say. "Just do what you normally do," she answers before leaving the pale girl alone in the room.
Said girl simply stares at the door where the doctor left before turning her gaze back to the ceiling. "Accepted," she says before closing her eyes once more.
"Rei, it's time for you to go to school," the doctor says as she gently wakes the sleeping albino.
"Hai," she softly replies. Fighting the pain that shoots up her body as she gets to her feet, she notices a school uniform lying on the chair beside the bed. She takes a look at the clothes then back at the doctor. Staring for a few moments, she looks back at the school uniform as Ritsuko finally gets the idea.
"Oh...I'll let you get dressed, then," she blushes in reply. She then steps out of the room, leaving Rei with the school uniform. 'That was unusual. Rei never showed any signs of modesty before. Perhaps something to do with the accident,' she muses to herself as she walks back to her office.
Rei watches in mild curiosity as she watches the doctor leave the room. Shuffling towards the clothes, she picks up a white pair of panties and stares at it intently before suddenly remembering how to put them on. Careful to avoid injuring her already damaged arm, she finally gets the school uniform on after several failed attempts. Giving herself a once over to make sure everything is in it's proper place, Rei walks out the sterile room and heads off to school.
Shinji shuffles nervously as he enters his new classroom. Many types could be seen in the relatively ordinary setting; the jocks, the nerds, girls, boys, simply a great melting pot of people. 'People who will only hurt me in the end,' he thinks bitterly to himself. Taking a spot in a vacant seat, his eyes roam around the room, finally falling on the first child, Ayanami. Looking over her, he notices all the bandages covering her lithe body, her head and arm the most noticeable of the injuries 'Eh? Did she get those before I chose to pilot?' he wonders. Sighing his typical sad sigh, he prepares for his first day of school when he overhears some students behind him talking.
"Do you think he was injured?" asks a male student, piquing Shinji's interest.
"What? In that robot incident! The television said no one was injured!" a girl replies
Shinji cringes in worry. 'Was someone hurt while I was fighting?'
"No way!" retorts the boy. "Didn't you see the explosion on Mount Takanasou? There were planes and soldiers everywhere. I'll bet ten or twenty people were injured, and I'm pretty sure some were killed as well," he adds.
Unable to take any more, Shinji puts on his SDAT player and drowns out the sounds of reality.
"You don't have to sound so happy about it!" the girl cries. Her reply is cut short as a student enters the classroom, a huge scowl on his face. "Suzuhara," she calls.
"Wow, has the class population dropped or what?" he comments sarcastically.
"They've all either transferred or evacuated, Touji. No one in their right mind would stay in this city after that last attack."
"Oh, does that explain why you're here?" Touji smirks.
"Yup," he cheerfully replies. "Speaking of which, what happened to you? We thought you got drafted or something and got involved."
"My sister did," he answers bitterly. "She got crushed under a pile of debris that robot caused!" Touji angrily recollects. "She's in the hospital now but since both my dad and grand-pa are in the lab, they can't get out to visit her. I'm the only one she has right now." His hands clench tightly at the memory, his knuckles turning white. "If I ever get my hands on that dumb pilot who did this, I'm gonna beat him up! What the hell did he think he was doing! Wrecking our own city!"
The kid in glasses looks up in thought for a moment before turning back to Touji. "Hmm, I dunno what he was thinking. Btw," he begins to whisper. "Have you heard the rumor about the new transfer student?" he asks, pointing to the living catatonic known as Shinji.
As the two begin coming up with theories about the new student, they fail to notice two red eyes watching them intently. The silent observation stops though as the teacher finally makes his presence known.
"Class! Rise!" barks the girl from earlier as she commands the class to welcome the teacher. The students stand up briefly then sit once again, the teacher having taken his spot at the front of the class. With the introductions done, the teacher begins his lecture on history, failing to realize this was a math class.
"...and so the earth was thrown off its axis as the..." drones the teacher.
Rei looks forward intently for once, gaining some stares from her classmates as the pale girl never showed any attention in class. Their curiosity disappears however, as she resumes staring outside the window, disinterested once more with life. In reality however, Rei's mind was far from inactive in those brief moments that she was paying attention to class.
'The lesson that the teacher was explaining...it is wrong,' she thinks to herself. 'Those were not the events that caused Second Impact.' Her musings are interrupted as the class bursts into chaos, all of the students collecting around Shinji with questions flying all around.
"You're a pilot!" "That's so cool! Wanna hang out?" "That guy's the pilot?"
Even with all the noise in the room, the teacher still continues on with his ramblings until the sound of the bell is heard. "Oh? Is it time already? You may go now," he mumbles.
Shinji continues to fumble around answers to the barrage of questions before him, oblivious to the glare a certain student was giving him. As the class begins to disperse, Rei's gaze follows Shinji as he makes his way out of the classroom.
Shinji falls to the dirt as a fist slams into his face, the owner of the fist glaring at him in anger.
"Sorry, newcomer, but I've got to beat you up," he growls. "I've got a lot of anger to work off." Having done his part, Touji turns and walks away, not quite satisfied but feeling somewhat sorry for the wimp before him. 'If he's the kind of people they put in the pilot seat, no wonder my sister got hurt,' he growls silently.
Shinji looks up at his attacker, his anger rising for the first time in ages, before being squashed back by his own cowardice.
"Sorry 'bout this," the boy in glasses responds. "His sister was injured during that fight, or at least that's what he says is his excuse anyway."
"I didn't pilot it by choice," Shinji retorts softly but loud enough for Touji to hear.
'That punk! I let him off with just one punch and he tries to make excuses for hurting my sister!' Turning back to face Shinji, he picks up the small boy by his collar and glares angrily at him, taunting the boy to fight back. His irritation increases as Shinji merely looks indifferent. 'Take me lightly, will ya!' Drawing back his fist for another blow, he lets lose another punch but feels his wrist caught by a vice-like grip.
"You will release pilot Ikari," comes a cool emotionless voice.
Turning to the source of the voice, he sees the pale Ayanami preventing his fist from connecting with the boy before him. "Shut up! You don't know what this guy did!" he yells back as he tries to break free of the hold. His anger partly turns to shock as he finds that he cannot get out of the smaller girl's hand.
"If pilot Ikari had not agreed to pilot Unit-01, there would have been a 98 chance that NERV would lose the battle and a 100 chance your sister would cease to exist," she replies, her eyes never leaving Suzuhara's own.
Touji tries to glare back at the albino but the way she was staring at him simply unnerved the larger teen. "What's it to you!" he yells, trying to regain his courage. "Why are you standing up for this guy!"
"My injuries prevented me from piloting, thus pilot Ikari was required to take the role," she replies emotionlessly. "By your reasoning, it was through my inaction that your sister was injured. Do you wish to confront me as well?" she asks, squeezing the boy's wrist slightly.
Fighting the shaking in his knees, he tries to recover the last of his pride by giving an arrogant sniff. "Che." Touji yanks his hand out of Rei's grip, a light bruise forming where the girl held him. "You're lucky I don't fight girls," he weakly retorts.
Rei looks on impassively at the boy in front of her. "Had you accommodated my request earlier, we would have saved 2 minutes and 37 seconds."
Saving what remained of his pride, Touji walks away from the two teens, muttering obscenities about gorilla tomboy's and weird chicks. His friend, still in shock over Touji's 'loss' against none other than Ayanami (and the fact she was a pilot as well) stares in surprise before recovering his senses and chasing after his friend.
"He…hey! Wait up!" cries the boy with glasses.
Rei watches impassively as the two run off into the distance before turning her gaze to the fallen Shinji. "Are you injured, pilot Ikari?"
Shinji remains in his place, curled up in a fetal position. "Why did you help me?" he whispers, his head buried between his knees.
"You were in need of assistance," comes the short reply. Before Shinji can respond to that statement, a loud siren begins to sound throughout the entire city. Rei looks towards the source of the sound, her eyes narrowing slightly as her training begins to kick in. "I am going ahead to NERV. Please follow as soon as possible," she urges before running off.
Picking himself off the ground, Shinji pats the dust off his clothes as best he can before turning towards the direction Rei ran off to. "Thank you," he whispers, before heading towards NERV as well.
"Man, can you believe it! Ayanami's got one hell of a grip," Touji gripes, rubbing his sore wrist as he and Kensuke wait in the shelter.
"You're surprised? I'M surprised. I can't believe that Ayanami's a pilot. I mean, she's just...Ayanami," Kensuke answers as he tries to get a signal on his mini-TV. "They're still blocking it."
"Blocking what?" Touji asks.
"The battle, of course!" replies Kensuke as if it was the most obvious answer in the world. "Man, I wish I could be out there watching it," he moans.
"Are you stupid? Do you wanna get killed? There's gonna be a battle out there soon."
"So?" retorts the spectacled teen. "It's not like we're that much safer in here. Besides, after beating up that new kid, I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't want to pilot anymore," he comments, causing his friend to flinch in guilt.
"He...hey. He wouldn't do that. We'd all die if he didn't, right?" Touji replies, more for himself than for anything else.
"Who knows? All I know is I want to see that giant robot thing the new kid was talking about before I die. Just once, you know?" Kensuke begins fiddling with his camera for a few moments before nudging Touji. "Hey, join me in the washroom," he whispers.
"Why the heck should I join you!" he whispers back, not quite understanding the reason behind the request. After several pleadings by his friend, Touji finally relents and agrees to head to the washroom. "Hey, class rep! Me and Kensuke are headed to the washroom." 'I feel like a girl,'(1) Touji thinks to himself.
"You were supposed to 'go' before we arrived at the shelter!" snaps someone . "Fine. Just be quick about it!" she sighs, knowing that Touji would pester her till he went (which would probably last till the alert ended).
"Thanks, Hikari. Yer the best!" he replies, giving her a roughish smile before heading out with Kensuke.
"Baka," she whispers, failing to hide the blush that now permeated her cheeks.
"So what did you want to talk about?" Touji asks.
"I'm going out to tape the battle," Kensuke replies.
"Like I said earlier...ARE YOU NUTS? DO YOU WANNA DIE SO BADLY!"
"It's not that. It's just that if the new kid doesn't fight, we're gonna all die anyway and I want to see that giant robot before then." Touji looks like he is about to reply but Kensuke cuts him off with a smirk. "Besides, if he doesn't pilot it'll be your fault. You have an obligation to watch him fight."
Touji sighs in defeat as he throws up his hands in frustration. "ARGH! Once you get an idea in your head, you just can't let it go, can you?"
"Nope. Let's open the gate, then."
Several moments later saw the two teens running up the stairs of a shrine at the top of a mountain, the school gate easily moved by Touji.
"Hey Kensuke! Why the heck do we have to run up here?" Touji pants, surprised at the endurance of the military otaku before him.
"To get a better view of course," he replies as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Kensuke almost forgets about Touji as he sees the Angel flying in the distance. "There it is!" he nearly yells, training his hand held camera on the city.
The Angel had lazily floated into the city, ignoring all attempts by the military to attack it. Landing on the streets of Tokyo-3, the two stubs on its side suddenly sprouted long tentacles of energy, making it look even more squid-like than earlier. Off to the side, one of the tall buildings opened up to reveal Unit-01 poised and ready to strike. If only the same thing could be said about the pilot.
Inside, Shinji kept repeating the instructions Ritsuko said about firing the rifle like a mantra. "Aim the target in the center and switch..."
"-Develop the AT-field. Follow the plan, all right?-" comes Misato's voice over the comm. system.
"Hai," comes the listless reply. Jumping out of the hanger, he twirls the EVA around and empties the rifle's contents at the angel, screaming out of fear and frustration as he does so.
"BAKA! You're giving the enemy a smoke screen!" Misato yells from her post at the command center.
Rei, who was currently beside Commander Ikari was watching the battle with her usual impassiveness. A flicker of emotion can be seen in her eyes as the Angel retaliates from the smoke, cutting the rifle.
"Damn it! Send Shinji a reserve rifle," Misato orders. "Did you hear that Shinji? You should see it to your left!"
Shinji, still shaking with fear over how easy the weapon was destroyed, was in no condition to hear the orders much less fight. Shaking with fear, he barely avoids the Angel's strike as it slashes the area where he stood. The EVA, however, did not escape unscathed as a timer starts to flash on both Shinji's console and in the command center.
"Umbilical cable cut!" Shigeru reports, followed by Maya's frantic cry.
"4 minutes and 53 seconds remaining in internal battery!"
Gendo continued to watch the battle as it unfolded, unaware that Rei was no longer beside him. If he bothered to pay attention, he would have noticed her enter the elevators which headed towards the sealed area of the hanger bay.
Rei enters the sealed hanger, walking around the hardened bakelite towards her objective. Approaching Unit-0, she pauses for a moment, as if deep in thought before placing a hand on the bakelite.
Touji and Kensuke look on in fear and awe as the EVA struggles against the feelers of the Angel. "Why doesn't he fight back!" Touji shouts to Kensuke, the two rooted to the spot as their legs refused to work.
"Is it because...we're here?" Kensuke wonders out loud. "He's trying to protect us!"
Back at the command center, people were getting more and more frantic as the EVA's remaining power continued to dwindle. "3 minutes and 28 seconds remaining!" reports Maya as Misato contemplates what to do with the 2 civilians outside the EVA.
"Shinji! Let them into your cockpit. After you get them, retreat and we'll confront the Angel later!"
Ritsuko, who had been silent for most of the battle, finally speaks up with Misato's order. "We can't allow civilians into the entry plug," she warns.
"I'll allow it for now," Misato counters, her personality now very unlike her off-duty one.
"You're exceeding your authority 'Captain' Katsuragi," Ritsuko adds.
"Maya, open the EVA's external speakers!" Ignoring Ritsuko's warnings, and ordering the two teens into the entry plug. Ritsuko frowns however, as the screen begins to show problems with the EVA.
"Those two are interfering with the nervous system. Noise is getting generated in the nervous pulses."
"Shinji! Retreat now!" Misato commands. Unfortunately, NERV's alarms begin blaring as something else begins to make itself known. "What is it now!" Misato asks.
Maya rushes to check her console and her eyes widen in shock as she reads the data. "I...impossible...it can't be," she stutters.
"Out with it already!" Ritsuko snaps impatiently as she heads over to Maya. Looking at the data, even she pales at what she sees.
"Well? What is it?" Misato asks. Her question is cut short as Rei's voice suddenly comes through the speaker systems.
"-Captain Katsuragi, I require launch bay 12 to activate,-" comes the cool emotionless voice.
"Rei? What the? Why do you need launch bay 12?"
"Because she's in Unit-0," comes Ritsuko's shaky reply.
Even Gendo's normally cool front crumbles as he stands up from his seat in shock. 'Impossible. Unit-0 was frozen in bakelite. It would take days to remove it. And even so, Unit-0 has no power whatsoever. It shouldn't even be moving.' Gendo thinks to himself, too much in shock to even bark out an order. 'What the hell is going on?'
"-Captain Katsuragi. I require launch bay 12 to activate. Pilot Ikari is in danger,-" Rei repeats.
Hearing about Shinji shakes Misato out of her shock as she orders Maya to launch the EVA.
"You only have 48 seconds of power!" Ritsuko warns as she takes a look at the EVA's readings. "It will take you 10 seconds just to reach the surface!"
"-That is more than sufficient,-" comes the cool reply.
"Launching EVA!" Maya calls out as the launch bay activates, propelling the yellow humanoid weapon to the surface.
"C'mon, transfer student! We gotta move!" Touji yells as the Angel's feelers burn against the EVA's hands. The problem was however much Shinji wished to move, the EVA simply couldn't understand his commands with all the interference from the two extra passengers.
'I mustn't run away, I mustn't run away,' Shinji chants to himself as the power meter notes less than a minute of power left. His chanting is broken however as Rei's face suddenly appears on the monitor.
"-Pilot Ikari, activate your progressive knife. I will signal you when to strike,-" orders Rei, her voice cool and controlled.
Hearing her speak without any fear gives Shinji a much needed boost of courage as he nods his head and activates the weapon system.
Rei looks at the timer before her as her EVA continues its trip to the surface. '41 seconds.' As the counter hits 34, the bay hits the surface, catapulting Unit-0 into the sky. Intentionally not attaching the restraining bolts, Rei had planned to use the inertia of the launch to send her at the Angel. Landing right behind her target, she grabs each of the offending tendrils, ignoring the burning sensation in her hands as the pain is transmitted through the EVA. '30 seconds.' "Now!" she calls to Shinji.
Hearing Rei, Shinji jumps into action. Drawing the progressive knife from its bay, he charges at the Angel while letting out a tortured cry. Stabbing the Angel in its core, the knife begins throwing sparks as it begins to tear into the Angel.
"UAAAaaaahhhhh!" Shinji yells as he continues to push the knife in deeper.
Back at the command center, Maya continues to monitor the power status of the two Evangelion units. "Unit one and zero. Active time is 10, 9 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1." Upon reaching '0', both EVAs cease to move, their cells completely drained. In what seemed like an eternity, the entire bridge crew held their breath before Makoto broke the silence with his statement.
"Target is completely silent."
Everyone lets out a sigh of relief as the Angel finally stops moving, its core turning a dull red color. Gendo's thoughts however were in turmoil over two things: Unit-0 getting out and the fact it was Rei who had done it. 'The scrolls did not foresee this,' he worries. Giving Ritsuko a silent signal, the two head out to meet Rei, both determined to find out how it happened.
Unaware of what the two had planned for her, Rei calmly waited in the seat of the entry plug, herself curious as to why she had gone out to rescue Shinji. 'Shinji...Shinji was calling,' she remembers herself thinking.
'It is against protocol to simply take the EVA without authorization,' she thinks before another thought comes to mind. 'But it was the right thing to do.' Several more thoughts would pass through Rei's mind before the entry plug was finally opened. If anyone had been with her during that time, they would have seen Rei's eyes flickering between red and blue.
To be continued.