-1-I bet many of you thought this fic was dead right? Well, to be honest, can't say it was very alive for the past 3 years.
-Well, whatever. Anyways, yup. It's been a long time since the last update. And sadly, I can't claim it will get any better. Reason I'll state later.
-No beta. But really, I haven't updated this story in three years. Do I seriously think anyone would stick with me for that long? Not that I don't need one or wouldn't appreciate one but… 3 years is a LONG time to be gone.
-And yes, I know about the FFN beta system. But for the foreseeable future, I'll remain solo for now.
-And this is part of the reason for the lack of updates. Rereading what I have, while I still like where the story was going in a general sense, I felt like I was 'forcing' an update before with scenes that could have been written better. I know I was 'rewriting' the story before I suddenly 'stopped', but given the lack of movement on this story, right now I'm focusing on simply going forward.
- I'm also not going to expect many reviews because, and entirely my fault, I've been gone (from this story) for three years now. I mean the last time this story was updated, the FMA manga was still going and Evangelion 1.11 didn't even exist.
-Anyways, sorry for the fans that have been waiting for this day to happen. Hopefully I can make it up to you with this, hopefully long chapter.
-And now on with the chapter.
Roy and Riza's Apartment
"What do you mean we're adopting a pilot?" Riza stared down at Roy. One of her hands gripped a frying pan. Her free hand was tapping the bottom of said pan. "And why was I not consulted about this decision?"
Roy gulped as a trickle of sweat dripped down his face. "I… I tried but I couldn't contact you… And it was a spur of the moment and…"
Riza glared dangerously at him.
"If you were there, you might have done the same thing," Roy weakly defended. "Besides, I'm the Cap…"
Riza bonked a frying pan on his head. "Rank doesn't matter in this world remember?"
Roy rubbed the temple of his head where a fresh new bump appeared. "Look, the place that Commander Ikari was keeping her in was not suitable for anyone to be living in. And given her psychological mentality…"
"So you're a shrink now Mustang," Riza said with venom in her voice.
Roy was tempted to say something snarky about how else he could attract so many women in his days if he did not understand them. But he held back given that that was no way to convince anyone to his side. "It's… if you met her, you'd understand. They were grooming her for this position. And you know what Shinji Ikari has to do out there."
Riza glared silently at Roy before letting out a sigh. "It isn't that I would have said no. I just…" Riza stopped as she felt the presence of another person in the apartment. She turned her head towards the doorway.
Rei stood silently at the doorway wearing her school uniform and holding a single bag.
After a few moments of watching the new resident, Riza approached the girl and leaned down to her eye level. "Hello. Rei Ayanami right?"
Rei stared blankly at Riza. "Yes."
Riza was momentary at a loss for words by Rei's monotone response. "Since you'll be living here, the spare room we have is free. Lucky for us it was empty since we couldn't figure out what to do with it." She eyed Roy who rubbed the back of his head. "Even if it was, I would have asked Mister Mustang to clean it out for you anyways."
Rei continued to stare back at Riza without any indication of moving from her position.
"Um, you could put your stuff in there now. There is a spare cot and blanket there. We'd probably have to buy a drawer for you clothes though," Riza said as she tried to keep the conversation going with the quiet girl. "Has the rest of your stuff arrived?"
"This is all my belongings," Rei said in her monotone voice.
Riza blinked dumbfounded. She knew Rei was not the materialistic girl from what little she heard of her. But she was still surprised to find out, that besides the school uniform she wore, and the little bag she held in front of her was all that she owed. Even then, Riza also realized something about the way Rei spoke. "Well, you go ahead and unpack in your new room. I'll cook dinner. Do you have any request? I'm making a roast for tonight."
"I do not eat meat," Rei said.
"Ah. A vegetarian. Don't worry. I also have some veggies," Riza said as she mentally noted that she had to rework some of her dinner plans. Mainly, making more vegetable dishes than she had originally planned. "It should be done in an hour so make yourself at home in the meantime!"
Rei calmly walked to her room without a word.
As Riza saw her off, she turned her attention back to Roy. "I'm honestly surprised you even thought about taking her in. You don't exactly seem like the family type." She said in a near whisper tone in the hopes that Rei would not hear their conversation.
"Guess I'm still full of surprises." Roy smirked. "Besides, why bring this up now?"
Riza closed her eyes and huffed. "You mean like the fact you pretty much forced me into this? I thought you were joking until you handed me the papers. It was a little sudden after all." She took a deep breath. "But after seeing her, I'm starting to see why you did it. Not that I'll ever fully understand you."
Roy smirk widened. "Nothing wrong with being a little unpredictable now is there?" After fending off a glare from Riza, Roy's smirk dissipated. "So what do you think?"
Riza turned her attention back to the hallway that led to Rei's room. "She seems… apathetic." A dark thought intruded on her mind. "Don't tell me this is Nerv's way of creating the perfect pilot is it?"
"Honestly, I don't know," Roy replied. "That's what I thought at first too. Especially what she did to Shinji when he brought up his father, Commander Ikari."
"Why? What did she do," Riza asked as she raised an eyebrow at this new revelation.
"Slapped Shinji when he insulted his father, or should I say the Commander," Roy replied as he eyed the doorway.
Riza narrowed her eyes as this caused a slight readjustment to her initial assessment of Rei. "I guess she isn't a clean slate emotionally after all." She frowned as she thought of the reason for the outburst. "Though awfully convenient that she seems so loyal to the Commander isn't it?"
"Yes, convenient," Roy crossed his arms. "Though there are few things I don't understand. He readily abandon his own kid for someone more, malleable. But then he makes her live in a dump in an abandoned area of the city? Even with his own covert forces keeping an eye on her…" Roy eyed a nearby window. "Or the rest of us for that matter, you'd think he'd be more considerate in where she lives."
"Well wouldn't isolating her be part of her… training?" Riza nearly bit her tongue on the last word since, the idea of this being 'training', even to pilot a machine that was meant to save the world, appeared to be unnecessary and cruel. At the very least, inhumane.
"But then, why not just make her live at Nerv instead with 24/7 security? And if the goal is isolation from everyone else, why allow her to go to school if he just wanted her as a pilot free from contamination from other people," Roy questioned.
"And why would he even allowed some upstart alchemist who has no real authority in this world to take care of her," Riza added.
Roy smirked at Riza's assessment of him before nodding. "Yes. There is more to this than simply molding the perfect pilot. I just can't put my foot on it."
Riza sighed. "Well, we can't dwell on what we don't know," Riza said as she started to head towards the kitchen. "I'll make sure to give her the loving home she desperately deserves."
"Don't you mean we," Roy smirked.
Riza eyed Roy questioningly. "I'll do my part. You just make sure you don't screw it up."
Roy grinned before his thoughts returned to Rei. "What is it you're planning Commander Ikari?"
Misato and Shinji's Apartment
"Good morning Ikari," Kensuke, Touji, and Ed said in a semi-cheery unison when the sliding door opened to reveal Shinji. Ed made a wave as the two classmates in front of him when Touji and Kensuke peaked into Shinji's apartment.
"We're taking off now, Miss Misato," Kensuke and Touji cheerily said in unison.
"See you," Misato replied. A hand waved at them through one of the doorways.
Kensuke and Touji's eyes filled with tears as Shinji glared at them. Edward himself simply face palmed.
"Let's get going," Shinji said annoyed.
Street in Front of Misato's and Shinji's Apartment
"You two realize she's like, thirty right," Edward said. He looked at a nearby tree instead of looking at Kensuke and Touji in front of him.
"A hot and seeeeeeeeeexy thirty year old," Touji grinned.
Kensuke sighed as he looked up into the sky. "Age has nothing to do with true beauty. And I'm sure she'll remain gorgeous for years to come!"
"Yeah whatever, enjoy lusting over some hag," Edward rolled his eyes.
Touji eyed Edward with suspicion, "Why, what's wrong with you? Any warm blooded male would agree she is smoking hot. I mean, she's just perfect! Her face, tits, her ass…"
"And I bet she's wild in bed too…" Kensuke said with a little drool hanging out of his mouth.
"I, I just think there are other things to focus on! That's all," Ed frowned as a slight blush appeared on his face. Even he could not deny that Misato's look was above average. Though he tried to his hardest not to think beyond her looks. "I mean we are in the middle of war here are we not?"
"And so we should spend all our waking hours reminding ourselves of that," Kensuke questioned. "It's not like we're on the front lines or anything…" He then realized who he was talking to. "Oh, um… barring Shinji of course."
"And even Shinji needs some R and R right? Gotta relieve some stress some way," Touji grinned as he lightly elbowed Shinji. "Right Shinji?"
"Oh, I… well, I agree…" Shinji tentative answered.
"I… I just don't see the big deal with it," Ed frowned.
Kensuke rubbed his chin. "Hmm. You don't suppose our one armed friend is infatuated with someone else instead?"
"Oooooh," Touji put an arm around Edward's neck. "So who are you looking at? Fuko in the next class over? What about Seto in class 2A? Or maybe you like the quiet ones like Ayanami?"
"Hmm. Maybe Ed is eying our class rep," Kensuke nudged Edward.
Touji frowned, "Uh… she is kind of plain looking." Touji quickly smiled. "Now don't hold back foreigner! You can tell us who you're looking at!"
"It's… it's not like that," Edward said defensively. "I'm not… looking at anyone!"
"Hmm. Maybe we're thinking the wrong locale. Maybe our European buddy left someone back at home," Kensuke grinned.
"Oooooooh. I see. I see. They have a lot of hot babes there too. I've seen plenty of pictures! Blond hair, big boobs…" Touji added.
"It's not that either!" Edward quickly panicked waving his hands in front of him. "Can, can we move on to another topic please?"
"Hmm. To be fair, he isn't the only one not to see Misato's charm," Kensuke gestured towards Shinji behind him.
"That's… that's because neither of you live with her," Shinji said. "Neither of you know what she's really like at home."
"Hmm. Yeah it could be that," Touji said nonchalantly. "Or maybe they're just both gay."
Kensuke nodded. "Yeah. That could be…"
"It's not that," Shinji and Edward exclaimed.
Nerv Headquarters - Ritsuko's Office
"So there is nothing else you can tell me about the application of alchemy," Ritsuko said to the muscled man in front of him.
"I… honestly didn't think about it before," Armstrong said as streams of tears coming down his face. "Even with all my years of training in my family's style, I never once considered where the energy to produce an alchemic reaction came from!"
"You really never thought about it?" Ritsuko raised an eyebrow at the statement. "Given that alchemy is treated as a science where you came from, I thought you would be curious on the mechanics on how it actually worked. I told you before how to us, this alchemy could be readily confused as 'magic.'"
"Hmm. Well there was this one time when I was just a little tyke where my childish curiosity did ask where it all came from. Where the rule of equal exchange and the energy needed to produce this unwavering law of science came from."
"And what answer did they come up with?"
"Only god knows that answer," Armstrong raised his hands in defeat.
Ritsuko nearly slapped her forehead. Instead settling for a simple face palm. "So that's it? You people stop researching on that matter?"
Armstrong shook his head. "I didn't say that. I'm sure there are a few scientist in our world asking and researching that very question. It's just, not something the vast majority of Amestrians think about on a daily basis."
Ritsuko sighed. "I really shouldn't be surprised. With the absence of any concrete evidence, even people in this world do the same. What came before the Big Bang? Only God knows. I was just hoping someone deep in alchemy would have a bit more evidence to how that works than our still very limited understanding of the universe before the Big Bang. After all, how can you train in something you don't know anything about?"
"What do you mean we know nothing about it," Armstrong retorted. "I know plenty about my arts! The limits, what I can and cannot create or destroy, and the consequences in our actions. And while I can't say for certain where that energy came from, or how it's applied when we do alchemy, but we do have two theories about it."
"Yeah. I know both of them," Ritsuko nodded. "So your scientist came up with both. And are they sure it's either of these two?"
"Well I can't say our proud Amestrian scientist came up with both actually," Armstrong said scratching the back of his head. "The one about how the energy came from the movement of the earth and that we're simply tapping into that one? That actually came from the nation to Amestrice's far east, Xing."
"Xing?" Ritsuko raised an eyebrow.
"Hmm. Not sure how to explain it since they're not 'like us'," Armstrong said as he rubbed his chin. Suddenly, something clicked in his head. "Actually no. While I haven't exactly encountered a lot of their writings, the few times I have seen it, the more complicated symbols look like some of the ones on the signs here."
"Hmm," Ritsuko contemplated this revelation. "You mean the Kanji on our signs? Sounds like Xing is your version of our China here…" Ritsuko said to herself before speaking her next question. "Well go on, what else can you tell me about that nation?"
Armstrong shook his head. "Not much I'm afraid, there are rumors that the alchemy they use is much different than our own. But there is no way to verify it since all contact with Xing was severed after the Ishbal War."
"How unfortunate." Ritsuko slumped down in her chair as another potential door to her research is closed on her. "Guess there is no way to confirm or deny either theory." However, a nagging question began to surface for Ritsuko. "I always wondered, why do you even need to make transmutation circles to begin with. I know it's supposed to act as a kind of guide in your mind, but if you know what you want to deconstruct an item and then reconstruct an item into, than why would you even need a circle? It does not look like you even need to be constantly looking at them."
Armstrong thought about the question, "I guess it's due the fact that the transmutation circle acts as a kind of gateway to what an alchemist wants to accomplish. Like these!" Armstrong did a punching pose with his hand guards that showed off the alchemic transmutation circles on them. "These, combined with the Armstrong strength, could turn an ordinary chunk of rock into a dangerous bullet!" Armstrong would be sparkling if he had bothered to take off his jacket and exposed his manly chest. Though one thing Ritsuko had taught him during his stay, was restraint against doing just that.
"A gateway?" Ritsuko's head was raised. "I know Mustang's gloves have their alchemic symbols on his glove. But Edward Elric… he doesn't even need to make a circle right?"
"That is correct," Armstrong nodded affirmatively. "It's due to the forbidden arts that they practiced."
"Yes. The big no no in alchemy, Human Transmutation. But, by doing so, he somehow saw the truth correct?"
Armstrong nodded. "It's been said that people who have done the forbidden alchemy get to see the truth. However the price of seeing the truth is significant as you probably have seen with what those two boys had to suffer through. If you want to know more, you can always ask Second Lieutenant Mustang about it." Armstrong looked left and right and realized he was not there. "By the way, where is Mustang anyways? I haven't seen him all day."
"Gave him and Edward a few days off since we've been reassessing what we're going to do with the alchemist," Ritsuko stated.
Armstrong blinked confused since this was the first time he heard about it, "But not me?"
"I need at least one alchemist here to help me here," Ritsuko smirked. "Edward is still a kid even if he likes to pretend otherwise. I'm sure that extra time off will help him finish his schoolwork. As for Mustang, the extra time off gave him time to get Rei settled into his residence. Though I don't know think it would take long given how Rei isn't that 'high maintenance.'" Ritsuko raised from her chair. "Anyways Warrant Officer Armstrong, I think I took enough of your time today. You're dismissed."
"Yes ma'am," Armstrong saluted before tentatively lowering his arm. "Um, if I say, I'm sorry I haven't been more helpful in the endeavor to protecting this world."
"Oh, actually I think you've been very helpful." Ritsuko said as she turned her back against him. "Now if you excuse me, I have other business I need to attend."
"Yes ma'am." Armstrong saluted again before walking out.
After Armstrong left the office, Ritsuko walked to her office window and looked down at Nerv's staffs that were bustling about. "A gateway..."
District 13 Tokyo 3 Junior High School Class 2-A
"They're such dorks," Hikari said as she glared at the boys all staring out of the window.
A screeching car was heard outside. This, along with Touji's outburst sent all the boys in the school rushing to the window. From the wolf whistles and the adulation that came from there, it was clear that some 'hot chick' must be walking towards their school. And from the chatter, that someone appeared to be the guardian of a certain student.
Though one boy was absent from that list. "Typical." Edward sat back in his chair and rolled his eyes. His attention instead, focused on the other pilot in the classroom. He looked at Rei who, appeared to have no interest in the actions of the majority of the boys in the room. While this could have been passed as simply normal female reaction to the simple minded fools on this day, for Rei, this disinterest ran much deeper than that.
Ed waved at Rei hoping to catch her attention. Seeing that Rei did not move from her gaze away from the boys, Ed decided to change tactics. "Eh hem. Um, Miss… Ayanami?"
This finally got Rei's attention. "Yes Mister Elric?"
"Umm… so, what do you think about living at Mustang and Hawkeye's place," Ed cheerily said to Rei. "Not… bad right? I know Mustang can be an ass sometimes but… um, I doubt he is to you right? Hehe…heh."
"Their accommodations are adequate," Rei replied.
"Adequate?" Edward blinked at her response. "Well they are better than your last place right?"
"It does not matter where I call my residence," Rei said. "But Second Lieutenant Mustang's residence is adequate."
"I guess," Edward said unsure what to say to that. It was clear Roy and Riza have their work cut out for them.
Edward heard a slap at the window. He saw Shinji leaning down into the window sill looking like he was the victim of the previously heard slap. With Touji and Kensuke standing next to him all proud looking.
Ed narrowed their eyes towards the two of them. However, from the looks of it, it appeared 'playful' so Ed held back.
Kensuke shot his head out the window as he saw a couple coming towards the school. "Huh? Those two look like foreigners."
"Two?" Edward peaked his interest after hearing that. "Oh yeah…"
Touji peered out of the window to look at the female one. "Hmm. Blond, nice sized chest… not bad. Doesn't hold a candle to Misato in the babe department but not bad."
Kensuke peered back at Edward. "Say, you don't think she's the one that Ed's been thinking about?"
Edward narrowed his eyes. "No it's not!"
"I'm just kidding shor… one arm," Kensuke waved at him. "So, are they here for your parent-teacher conference?"
"Um… actually, they're for Miss Ayanami's," Shinji replied behind them.
"Huh?" Touji and Kensuke looked out the window, and back to Rei. "How did that happen?" They said in unison.
"It's… a long story," Edward said.
"Oh yeah." Hikari said as realization struck her. "Does this mean your guardian coming Edward?"
"Gah!" Edward involuntary shivered. "N..n… nope! Armstrong… my guardian, had something to do at Nerv. So he can't make it."
"Hmm. That's too bad," Hikari said.
"Yeah… Really disappointed he couldn't make it." Edward sarcastically said. Images of Armstrong flexing his muscles and saying something like 'Tell me what my proud son has been doing in school' flashed in Edward's mind.
Parking Lot District 13 Tokyo 3 Junior High School
"Isn't it a little soon to be having a parent-teacher conference for us," Riza questioned. "We just got her what, yesterday?"
"Apparently Nerv pulled some strings after they approved my request," Roy said as he straightened up his tie. He could feel Riza's glare behind him. "Hey, it wasn't like I thought it was a good idea to attend. This was Misato's idea remember? Besides we agreed that we'll try and jump into this with both feet on the ground? I'm actually wondering where you got these clothes."
Riza was dressed in a dark suit. Complete with a grey button up shirt, a black suit jacket, and a matching black skirt that reached to the upper part of her knees. "I was out shopping last weekend. There was a sale going on and decided to use our wardrobe funds for good use." Riza looked up and down Roy's outfit. "The sizes here are a little different than I'm used to back in Amestrice. So I wasn't sure if I got the right size for you."
"It's a little small," Roy said as he put a finger under his dark blue collar shirt in a futile attempt to give a little more wiggle room. "But I'll live."
"…guess I should have gotten a size smaller," Riza said under her breath.
"Oh hey!" A woman ahead of them waved at the two. "Nice to see that you two could make it!"
Roy waved back at her. "Oh hey Misato!" He said in a cheery voice. "Nice to…"
Riza whacked him in the head.
"Hey!" Roy felt the new bump on his head. "What was that for?"
"Just… keep moving," Riza growled.
Roy's and Riza's Apartment
Still wearing their formal wear, Roy and Riza sat at the dining table eating a meal of steaks with mash potatoes, mix veggies, and an vegetable casserole. The latter she made specifically for Rei who sat quietly at the table. Rei stared at her new guardians, and one guest. That one guest being a certain loud mouthed neighbor that likes showing off his child's picture.
"So what did the school say about your lovely newly adopted daughter here," Hughes said grinning.
Roy eyed Riza wearily.
"Oh just the usual," Riza responded. "She gets good grades. Though they are concerned she doesn't socialize much with the other students."
"Hmm. That's it," Hughes asked sounding surprised. "Nothing about the class being disruptive by constant inquires about her activities at Nerv? Nothing?"
"From the looks of it, that's more of a concern with Shinji than Rei," Roy said. "It, looks like Shinji is the more approachable type."
"Not that the teacher would have noticed to be honest," Riza said. "He didn't seem to be that engaged. I'm surprised the school continues to allow him to teach."
Hughes looked at Rei who, having noticed that she was being watched, made eye contact back. "Um… well, I guess this is something a nice happy family should move forward and discuss together!"
Roy sighed. "Hughes…"
"Can I go to my room now," Rei quietly asked. Though it was loud enough to stop Roy in mid-thought.
"Uh… sure," Roy said slightly taken aback by her sudden response.
Rei pushed back, got out of her chair, and headed to her room.
"Um, Rei," Riza spoke up.
Rei stopped her advancement and looked back at Riza. "Yes Miss Hawkeye?"
"Um, can we talk… later?" Riza tentatively said.
"If that is what you wish," Rei replied.
"Good, so, before you go to bed. I'll be in your room. Is that okay?"
"If that is what you wish." Rei continued on her walk towards her room.
After she was gone, Hughes spoke up. "That was, interesting."
"Second night here and, I still don't know much about her," Riza said as she glanced at her plate in front of her picking at her food. "I was hoping that I could take her shopping this weekend. At least give her more clothes than just here school uniform."
"Except she usually has training on the weekend," Roy frowned. "And the number of times she has to go to Nerv for additional training right after school as well."
Riza slammed her fist onto the table, causing all the dishes on it to rattle. "Why even allow us to have her if they're just going to mock us with these 'training'?"
"I'm sure Nerv will allow her some free time. After all, they allow her to go to school right? Can't all be work and no play," Hughes gave a reassuring smile before it faded. "As bad as Shinji has had it with his father and all, I'm not sure Rei had it any better. I'm afraid what the 'other' pilot had to go through in all this." Hughes eyes lit up. "Oh that reminds me, heard a rumor that pilot from Germany is going to be coming over here in the next week or so."
"Are you sure you should be telling us this," Roy grinned.
"Since you might adopt her as well," Riza snidely remarked.
Roy frowned. "That's not what I…"
"Hey, it's just something I heard," Hughes interrupted seeing as the 'couple' was about to quarrel again. "Besides, shouldn't all the pilots be here? After all, it appears those 'Angels' only seem to be attacking this nation after all."
"I always wondered about that," Roy said as he sat back having finished his meal. "Why are they only attacking this nation?"
"Cuze it's the headquarters of Nerv," Hughes tentatively answered. Though Hughes's answer was more of a question than a statement. "But I see your point. It's like they're searching for something and only this city has it."
"Well, whatever the reason, I hope Nerv will get around to telling us." Roy crossed his arms. "I'm already weary of what they still consider to be 'classified' even for someone that supposedly works there like me."
"Oh, that brings me to my second bit of news," Hughes delightedly said as he raised a single finger into the air as if he was about to give a lecture. "And this one I can assure you is no rumor. And this time, not talking about Nerv. Apparently this nation wants to keep secret to the general public!"
"Every nation wants to keep a lot of things secret to the general public," Roy stated flatly. "It's the way governments are. What makes this any different?"
"You mean like how all the government and military personnel in this nation were invited to attend this event happening in what they call Old Tokyo," Hughes smirked. "If my sources are correct, Japan Heavy Chemical Industries will be testing a new type of Evangelion. Actually, I guess it's technically not an Evangelion. Just a really big machine. I think they called it Jet Alone. JA for short."
This peaked Roy's interest. "Event? Jet Alone? What are you talking about?"
"All the details are hush hush. At least that was their intent before the big coming out party tomorrow," Hughes grinned. "According to my sources, this Jet Alone machine is supposed to be a better alternative at protecting the world than allowing some kid to pilot those skyscraper tall machines. Don't know anything about the power source, but whatever it is, it's supposed to last a lot longer than the five minute limit for the Eva units we're used to."
"Hmm," A slight smile appeared on Riza's face. "And I assume that also means Shinji and Rei don't have to pilot anymore?"
"Yup. Apparently this new machine is totally automated." Hughes gave a big smile. He turned to Roy. "I'm surprised you haven't heard about the event till now. I thought at the very least it would have been discussed around Nerv headquarters since it appears Nerv has competition."
"I've… actually haven't been to Nerv headquarters for a few days," Roy stated. "Besides giving me time to help Rei adjust to her new living arrangements, Nerv has been reassessing our role after the last Angel attack. A pity since according to Armstrong, Commander Ikari is away again. Would have enjoyed that peace and quiet."
"Hmm. About that," Hughes's smile faded. "You would think that with the development of a machine that could aid in their fight against the Angels he would be there attending himself. Instead, he's meeting some important world leaders instead. After all, Nerv does have a massive budget that would make a small nation jealous."
"I'm wondering where you find these sources since all you're supposed to be is a mouthpiece for Nerv propaganda. Still…" Roy frowned. A part of him was hoping the development of this Jet Alone was a way out for Shinji and Rei from their role as pilots. However… "You don't suppose Commander Ikari is trying to stop development on this new machine?"
"Now why would you say that," Hughes said. "Sure if Japan Heavy Chemical Industries succeeds Nerv might be shut down. But I'm sure he's just away on unrelated business matters. I mean, JA's development has been funded with private money. They won't get public money unless it's shown to succeed. Nerv's business has nothing to do with the JA at all."
"Yeah. I'm sure that is," Roy frowned as he had a bad premonition about tomorrow.
-The Next Day…
Old Tokyo - Japan Heavy Chemical Industries (JHCI) Command Center
The ballroom was full of dignitaries listening to the JHCI director talk about the specifications of the JA. In the center of the room was a table reserved for Nerv. Unlike the other tables that were full of bottles and food, the Nerv table was sparsely populated in comparison. This was probably due to the fact that Nerv only sent two delegates to the event, Ritsuko and Misato. After the director talked about the specs, he asked the audience if they had any questions. Ritsuko raised her hand and barraged the director with questions.
"You're not saying that science and the human heart will tame the best," The director snidely remarked. "Are you serious?"
"Yes, of course I'm serious," Ritsuko, wearing a blue business suit, said using a microphone.
"Because Nerv depends on something as unreliable as the human heart, you're allowed a loss of control such as we just saw," The director continued. "That's why the UN had to approve that colossal supplementary budget. As a result, over 20,000 people in several countries are starving. On top of which, regardless of it having been such a critical incident, the causes are still unknown? I wish you would at least fulfill that much of your responsibilities! I envy you, Nerv is protected by a super-legal act that allows you to avoid responsibility."
"It doesn't matter what you say. The fact is that only Nerv's weapons have the ability to defeat the enemy," Ritsuko said.
"You mean the AT field," The director retorted. "That's just a matter of time as well. Nerv's day in the sun will not last forever."
Ritsuko twitched at the director's comment.
"Oh… and one more thing. Don't tell me you'll also have to rely on magic as well," the director said.
"Huh," Misato, wearing a black dress uniform, was chewing on a piece of straw. But what the director just said, Misato perked up. She opened her mouth allowing the straw to fall out.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Ritsuko said.
"Oh, don't play dumb with me," The director grinned. "Alchemy? The ability to deconstruct and reconstruct objects using, what was it called, a transmutation circle? Yes, I heard all about. Strange that supposedly developed in Germany and yet they know nothing about it. Then again, maybe they're just better at keeping a tight lip about it."
Ritsuko gritted her teeth.
"Oh, nothing to say? Well don't worry. I'm a man of science," the director snidely remarked. "I'm not stupid. Whatever that Evangelion did, I'm sure even we'll find out its secret. And given what happened the last time it was 'used,'" an image of the last Eva battle was shown on screen. "We can obviously do better."
JHCI Room 206
"But how did he even know about the AT field? No, not just that, how did he know about alchemy," Misato growled at the last question.
Ritsuko burned a packet containing the top secret material about the JA. "It's obvious there's been a huge leak of classified material."
Misato rolled her eyes in disgust. "Is intelligence that incompetent? A leak about the AT field is one thing. But alchemy? I thought Nerv could have at least kept that a secret! I mean how many of us even know about alchemy?"
"You mean like most of Nerv," Ritsuko smirked. Which only caused Misato to be even more incensed. "Oh I agree that Nerv needs to keep a better lid on information. But it isn't like it's not common knowledge within Nerv. Besides, at least they don't know where they really came from right?"
"Mmph," Misato looked away from Ritsuko to hide her annoyance. "Still, it's not going to be good for us if our doors are wide open."
"True," Ritsuko conceded. "There should be a serious shakeup in intelligence." Ritsuko sat back as she looked at herself in the mirror in front of her. "But if they think they can emulate an AT field and alchemy, they will fail. After all, if I'm correct, neither can be achieved without a living pilot."
"That's going to be their problem in the future," Misato crossed her arms. "But if they can impress a few people with their toy, they could become a huge distraction for Nerv."
"Oh, I don't think we'll have to worry about that," Ritsuko looked to the side.
Tokyo 3 Street
"So you already knew about the true story about Second Impact," Shinji said amazed at Edward's statement.
"Yeah…" Edward said. "I thought you would be the first one to know?" Edward crossed his arms annoyed. "How does Nerv expect you to save the world if they continue to lie to you?" Edward formed a fist with his artificial arm as if ready to strike down anyone around him.
"Um… well…" Shinji shuffled his feet.
"Um, brother, I know Nerv isn't all good and all but…" Al said as he waved his arms in front of him. "I don't think they were purposely trying to deceive Shinji."
"I… I just never asked about it before," Shinji stated nervously. "And when I asked Ritsuko, she didn't hesitate in telling me everything."
Edward grumbled as he left his bias against Nerv subside. "Still…"
"Edward, Alphonse," A burly voice boomed behind them.
Edward shivered as he tentatively looked back. "Um, hi Armstrong." Edward tentatively waved.
Armstrong grabbed Edward and Al's neck with his two arms. "How many times have I told you…" Sparkles appeared around Armstrong. "To call me poppy?"
"I am never going to call you that," Edward screamed back.
"I'll just… keep calling you Armstrong… heheh…. If you don't mind me." Al said.
"I also have to apologize in advance for not attending the parent-teacher conference," Armstrong said as a single tear weld up. "If I didn't have to come into Nerv that day, I would have felt like I failed in my duty as your guardian! Maybe I should call your school and try to schedule a make up…"
"That's okay! You don't have to do that! Besides, I can guarantee you I'm doing well," Edward frantically said as he waved Armstrong away hoping to dissuade him from that line of thought. "I'll even get the teacher to write you a letter!"
"Well as long as you do well in school, I'm proud of you… son!" Armstrong flex his muscles as more tears weld up in his eyes.
"Please don't call me son," Edward weakly replied.
"Oh and Mister Shinji Ikari…" Armstrong said as he turned to Shinji. "I heard Misato is away on business today. If you want, you can come over to our residence tonight for dinner. I'm making my famous Armstrong stew! Passed down from generations!"
"Um, that's okay Mister Armstrong." Shinji smiled. "But I'm fine ordering delivery. Besides, I have to feed PenPen too."
"Huh? Misato is away today," Edward asked.
"Yeah. You didn't know," Shinji questioned. "Apparently Ritsuko is also away."
"She is," Edward was surprised by the second statement. "Then why is Rei still doing training?"
Now it was Shinji's turn to be surprised. "There was training today? I got a day off because both Misato and Ritsuko are away."
Edward crossed his arms as his bias against Nerv was reignited. "Why am I not surprised that Rei is the only on that needed to check in?"
Alphonse rubbed the back of his head. "Maybe she just needed some extra training? She was injured before right?"
Edward gave a weary eye to Alphonse. "You really believe that Al?"
Al hung his head. "Not really no."
Armstrong straightened up. "I share your skepticism Edward Elric but… I still remain hopeful that Nerv still has her best intentions at heart." He turned to Shinji. "Right Shinji?"
"Well, I, really don't know what to think actually," Shinji said. "But I… I guess you could say I've been seeing more of her. And not just at Nerv. So… maybe that's telling something?"
Edward sighed. "Yeah. She still goes to school and she still lives with Mustang and Hawkeye. Besides, if something really bad happens, I'm sure Mustang will raise a big stink about it."
"That's the spirit," Armstrong slapped Edward's back. "Let's look on the bright side for now. I'm sure Second Lieutenant Mustang and Hawkeye will raise her properly to be a beautiful happy teenager!"
"Uh… yeah," Edward said, snickering as he thought about what Hawkeye's reaction to it all. His thoughts then drifted to another matter. "By the way, you don't happen to know where Miss Katsuagi and Doctor Akagi went do you?"
"Hughes mentioned there was supposed to be an unveiling of a new weapon against the Angels. A potential 'Eva replacement' as he put it. Though I question where he got he information from," Armstrong responded.
Edward eyes widened. "You're kidding right? An Eva replacement?"
Shinji blinked. "What does that mean?"
"So, does that mean Shinji doesn't have to pilot," Alphonse said in a hopeful tone.
"I do not know," Armstrong said. "From what I gather from Hughes, it's only a demonstration. Even if it was successful, it might still be a while for it to ever be utilized."
"Yeah," Edward crossed his arms. "And even if…"
The sound of screeching tires reached their ears.
Edward turned his head at the black sedan that was now parked behind him. Shinji, Alphonse, and Armstrong followed suit and stared at the vehicle. Two men dressed in full business suits wearing dark sunglasses exited.
"Shinji Ikari. You need to come with us. It's an emergency," One of the suited man said.
"What? Is this an Angel attack," Edward said shocked.
The suited man shook his head. "No. But Shinji needs to be at Nerv right away by order of Captain Misato Kusanagi."
"Misato? Isn't she at that event? What happened," Edward questioned.
"That is up to your superior, Doctor Akagi, to divulge, Mister Elric," The suited man said. "Now Shinji Ikari, time is short."
"I'm going too," Edward yelled before he felt a strong hand on his shoulder holding him back.
"Edward," Armstrong sternly said. "And what will you do? This is Shinji's mission. Not yours. Doctor Akagi gave you the day off. Enjoy it with your other friends."
"Don't worry brother," Alphonse said. "I think Shinji will be fine. Right Shinji?"
Shinji nodded as he entered the car. "I'll be fine." Once he was seated he waved back at the group with a smile.
One of the suited men shut the backseat door where Shinji was. He turned to the group and nodded before he entering the vehicle.
Edward's shocked face turned into a smile as he watched the car speed away. He turned to Armstrong and Alphonse. "He really has changed hasn't he?"
Armstrong nodded. "He is definitely more open. I hope we can say the same for Rei soon."
"I'm still concerned what that was all about," Alphonse said changing the subject. "Did something happen at that event?"
"I don't know. I just hope Shinji will be fine," Edward said as he looked up into the sky.
In the Skies Over Old Tokyo
"JA is the target," Misato said. She, alone with Shinji were sitting across each other in the Eva carrier plane. "There's a danger of meltdown within five minutes. Therefore we cannot allow it to get any closer to a populated area."
Shinji gave a slight smile.
Misato cocked her head. "Something amusing Shinji?"
"Huh? AH…" Shinji frantically shook his head. "I didn't… I just… All I have to do is prevent it from moving forward right? Should I use alchemy to stop it?"
Misato smiled as she noted the change in Shinji from just a few weeks ago. She shook her head before responding. "Even if it wasn't currently forbidden for you to use until Ritsuko comes up with a solution, you know what happens when alchemy is used right? No. You need those full five minutes to restrain JA from entering a populated area. Got it?"
Shinji nodded. "Got it."
Misato continued. "But before you restrain JA, there is something I need you to do before that. Run alongside the target, and place me on its back. Then you need to restrain the target as best as you can. Got it?"
Shinji's eyes widened. "You're going inside?"
Misato smiled. "That's right."
"That's crazy!" Shinji was taken aback. "I mean, can't I just alchemize it away instead?"
Misato shook her head again. "Shinji, again, you're forbidden to use alchemy. And you don't even know how to do that with your skills. Besides, while this is crazy, I believe it will also work. Worse case scenario, Eva Unit 01's armor will survive both the explosion and the radiation."
"But what about you," Shinji said. "I… I'm ready for the danger. But…"
Misato smiled. "I'll just have to do my best. My conscious won't allow me otherwise." Misato sat back. "Don't look at me like that. If all goes as planned as it should, I'll be just fine. Throw a big party once this is over."
Shinji's mouth was still open in shock by what Misato was willing to do. He closed it as his resolved return and prepared for the mission. "Got it."
Misato smiled. She turned to the pilot. "Hyuga?"
Ground in front of Jet Alone Unit
"Misato," Shinji ran down the deactivated Unit 01. Nerv personnel surrounded the area. "I'm so glad you're safe!"
Misato exited the flying unit that brought her from the top of the JA unit to the ground. "See? I told you I'm just fine! Though I need a nice cool bath now."
Shinji ran up to her and hugged her. "I'm so glad you're safe! For a while there, I thought it was almost over! It's a miracle what happened!"
"Hey! You don't have to go that far," Misato said as she blushed a little from Shinji's hug. "Besides, everything went the way I expected. Though maybe just a little bit too close…"
However, Misato's smile was fading. Not only did things not go as she expected, but she made a disturbing discovery. The program was changed. This was all a setup. Misato thought darkly. And I don't like where this is going.
Shinji stopped hugging Misato. "Oh yeah! So about that party…"
"Oh," Misato said snapping out of her thoughts. She sighed. "Yeah about that Shinji, um… how about after I get my next paycheck?"
Roy and Riza's Apartment
Roy sat back in his chair as he scowled.
Riza kept looking at her watch as she walked back and forth in front of the door.
"She's not going to come any sooner by standing in front of the door you know," Roy said.
Riza frowned. "You could have gone to Nerv Headquarters to check up on her."
Roy eyed Riza. "I would, except I don't have clearance. Doctor Akagi promised me I'll get that clearance once she figures something out about using our alchemy."
Riza growled. She leaned back on the wall next to the entrance. "And when will that be?"
"Who knows," Roy said as he twiddled his thumbs. "Maybe when Nerv is back to full business given what happened today."
"Hmph," Riza lowered her head and closed her eyes. "I take it didn't go well today at that event?"
"According to Hughes, technical problems that can't easily be overcome. Too much of a danger to be used against the general public it seems," Roy stated. "So once again, Nerv is humanity's best hope in this world."
"And you believe that is what actually happened?"
"What do you think," Roy narrowed his eyes. "But what do I know? We don't even belong in this world anyways," Roy said cynically.
The sound of fumbling keys, and then a key being inserted into the door lock can be heard.
Riza stood straight up and moved in front of the door.
The door swung open and revealed Rei, standing in her schoolgirl uniform and holding her school bag.
Riza smiled. "Welcome home Rei!"
Rei Ayanami stood there for a moment staring at the smiling Riza.
After what seemed like an eternity to Riza, Rei began to move towards her bedroom.
Rei Ayanami stopped, and looked back at Riza. "Yes Miss Hawkeye?"
"Um… how was your day," Riza tentatively said in as much of a cheery voice as she could muster.
"My day? I do not understand," Rei Ayanami questioned.
"Um, I mean, how did your day go? Did good things happened? Bad things happened? Did you go anywhere? Anything?"
"I went to school. I went to Nerv for training. And now I'm here at your residence."
"Uh… I mean, how do you feel about your day?"
"My feelings have been neutral."
Riza's smile became more contorted. "I… I see. Ummm…"
"Miss Hawkeye, if you are done, I'll be in my room."
"Umm… wait, I…" Riza reached out to Rei. "Um, I'd like to go shopping with you?"
"Uh, to help spruce up your wardrobe," Riza said. "I… I know you probably think having only a school uniform and underwear is enough but, I believe you should have more variety."
"If that is what you want," Rei responded in her monotone voice.
"It's not about what I want, it's… I, I just believe it would be nice for you to have plenty of things to wear. That's all."
Rei Ayanami stared at Riza.
Riza still felt uneasy looking into Rei's eyes. She knew that it would be difficult assessing Rei's feelings, but she still wanted to try. "I was wondering if we could go shopping together tomorrow."
"After school, I have training tomorrow. That last till ten," Rei answered. "I believe the stores close before that."
"…yes, they do," Riza said. "The next day?"
"I have training all week," Rei said.
"I see," Riza said dejected. "I guess I shouldn't take anymore of your time…"
"The next time I'm free is Sunday," Rei said. "Stores are open on Sunday are they not?"
Riza's eyes brightened. "Uh, yeah!" Riza gave a reluctant smile. "Be sure to wake up bright and early Sunday. We're going to be very busy!"
Roy gave a faint smile as he leaned back in chair.
Hughes's Boss's Office
"So, the incident in Old Tokyo was just a military training accident," the portly man said as he flipped through a copy of Hughes's article that was planned to be run the next day. "Nothing more?"
"That's the story," Hughes said. "Training accident that left the Japan Heavy Chemical Industries facility on site with minor damages. Luckily for the people attending, only minor injuries were reported."
The portly man grinned. "Sounds about right. I'll make sure all the major newspapers receive a copy."
"Yeah," Hughes said with a bit too much uncertainty.
"Hmm? What is it Mister Hughes," Hughes's boss looked up at him.
"Oh nothing, I just felt it's a bit coincidental that Nerv's budget happened to have gotten a nice increase on the same day this 'accident' happened," Hughes said offhandedly.
"Eh hem. We're a serious new agency here," Hughes's boss said. "If you want, I can have you write an editorial article. Or set up a blog for you to come up with your conspiracy theories."
"Oh no no no! I'm a serious journalist! Not here to give my opinion on anything," Hughes replied. "It's just the crazy musings of a journalist that's all!"
"Eh hem. Right. And don't you forget it," The portly man said. "I have enough fools wasting their times blogging about one thing or another. I'm still trying to figure out why we keep them on board."
"Yup," Hughes smiled. "Oh yeah. Have I showed you my…"
Hughes's boss interrupted. "I already approved your article. If you have nothing else to add, get out!"
"She's cute. Now get out!" Hughes's boss glared at him.
Outside Hughes's Boss's Office
Hughes stretched as his work day finally came to an end. He walked out towards the elevator when a beeping sound came from his cellphone. He reached into his pocket and looked at the display screen. A new message appeared. "Hmph. And to think I thought Commander Ikari simply wanted to de-fund the competition." He placed the cellphone back into his pocket and pressed the elevator's down button. "What other cookie jars do you have your hands in, Commander Ikari."
Inside Hughes's Boss's Office
The portly man picked up the desk phone receiver and dialed a number. After a few second, he spoke. "Yes, he just left." Pause. "Nope. I don't think he really knows anything." Pause. "I don't think even his source knows anything. Only scratching the surface." Pause. "Nope. No idea who his source could be. Hell, I'm still wondering how he could have acquired one in such a short amount of time." Pause. "Whoever it is, he's definitely someone on the inside." Pause. "Yes. If he becomes a problem, I'll be sure to inform you." Hughes's boss hung up the phone.
Commander Ikari's Office
Ritsuko, along side a glasses wearing man in a business suit, stood in front of Gendo's desk.
"Recovering of Unit 01 is complete. No danger of radioactive contamination. Except for Captain Katsuagi's actions, everything went according to plan," Ritsuko said.
"Good work," Gendo said. "And the other matter?"
"Thanks to Warrant Officer Armstrong, I believe I have a better understanding of the mechanics of alchemy," Ritsuko said. "However, I won't know for certain until full scale tasting occurs. And given the arrival of the second child, such testing won't occur till after her arrival."
"Yes. And once the second child arrives?"
"We'll immediately begin testing to see if she has an affinity to alchemy. If she show signs that she can use it, I'll get Armstrong to immediately train her."
"For her sake, she better."
-End of Chapter 13
As you can see, I decided to skip most of the 'action' in that episode since, the way I planned it out, it'll be exactly the same as the series.
Now since I'm relatively following the original anime, that means a new pilot will be coming next chapter! I just… expected to have done that two-three years ago! But well, all I can say is things happen that I already mentioned.
One fic that is currently on indefinite hold at the moment is "The Unfortunate Life of Shinji Ikari". Thinking about it, I do find it hilarious in its own right, but I still can't believe that I made the 'tactical' decision of making very little changes in the early chapters. I know why I did it (I can point to, the original FMA anime as an example of small changes early, big changes later). But as a fanfic, it's really really bad choice. If I was going to do that, at least 'summarize' the events that haven't changed. Not only would that cut down on the story's length, since the first few chapters are basically a poor novelized version of the canon, but that would have at least made the story flow much better.
Another is "Hearts of the Valkyrie". But only because I had help with a much better writer on it. And… well, trying to mesh his style with mine? Not going so well. Sure it makes me want to get better to hopefully 'match' his style. But even great writers, there is a reason why you could tell a writer by its style. Trying to do that with this fic isn't going quite mesh.
For those that given up hope for Fallen Blade update, the 'good' news is that I did write some of it. The bad news? Not much. Still, at least I have a base to jump off from if I ever get that update going. Though I do have a fic that hasn't been updated even longer than this fic I hope to get around to.
Anyways, next chapter, Asuka arrived! How does she take to the alchemist? Until then, later!