A/N: Okay, since I am back (and hopefully better than ever), let's keep the ball rolling shall we?
A/N: And here I am again. Back from a grueling semester! No I wasn't lost for ideas. I was just made to keep away from the fanfics somewhat and focus on school. And then I hit a block over the Christmas Holidays.
A/N: I hit yet another block. And then my inspiration tanked. But it's back. For now. This chapter is subject to tweaking and adjusting if not well received by myself or others.
"Well Shinji, that was another well done meal, especially since we're using the low grade ingredients," Misato stated patting her full stomach after another hearty dinner that Shinji salvaged from the cheap shopping that Misato had done. It seemed like Shinji could make any meal meant for hobos into a top tier dinner fit for a nobleman.
"Seven out of ten," Asuka sighed looking up at the ceiling. Shinji didn't give any dirty looks or anything of the sort since he knew that garnering a seven out of Asuka was like going up to her and propositioning her without being utterly decimated.
Misato noticed Asuka was wearing another long sleeved shirt. For fucks sake, was she ever going to get over the fact those scars weren't real? Here went another try. "Hey Asuka, what's with the long sleeved shirt? It's not exactly cool in here."
"Well have you thought that maybe I'm a little cold?" Asuka shot back.
"You're gonna sweat like a pig," Misato teased.
"Pigs don't sweat!" Asuka countered. Rei and Shinji knew to back off go about cleaning up and let Misato handle the latest round of verbal jabbing with Asuka. Asuka wouldn't dare raise a fist to Misato. "And even if I do sweat, I wouldn't wear this shirt tomorrow anyways! God, why do you always care about stuff that's not important to you?"
"Because I'm your guardian," Misato replied back. "It's my job and personally acquired responsibility to care whether one of my charges sweats and ends up with a B.O. problem."
"Eww, you're one to talk! You've sweated enough for a farm of pigs each night!" Asuka stormed off into her room making sure to slam the door with enough force to make a point but at the same time keep the door on its hinges, while Misato had herself a laugh. Sure Asuka was somewhat correct, but Misato never let that bother her. Asuka was probably not much different. She grabbed herself a beer out of the fridge, popped it open, took a swig and sighed. That girl probably needed therapy of some kind, or the ultimate reality check, or maybe… just a little bit of love. Unfortunately the nearest suitor to dare coming within five feet of her would probably die if he said the wrong line which was very likely to happen.
Within a few hours, everyone will have gone to bed, and tomorrow's routine would commence. Shinji, Asuka, and Rei would be off to school and Misato would be off to work, passing people's groceries through a till and deal with their idiotic complaints. Apparently a few yen would make you rich in the minds of some morons.
"Alright you two," she began to Shinji and Rei, "I'm going to bed. Don't stay up too late alright? You don't want to piss off Her Majesty now."
"Understood Misato," Rei acknowledged. The look on Shinji's face said that he acknowledged too. Right as Misato opened her door, someone was knocking at their door.
"Shinji, could you be a dear and get that?" Misato asked, leaning on her own door.
"No problem." Shinji strode on over to the door, unlocked both locks and opened the door. On the other side, was a woman wearing a spring jacket who probably about Shinji's height. She appeared to be in her early thirties, had dyed blonde hair, and a notable mole below her left eye. The woman was about the… second easiest to recognize from… where else… NERV Headquarters. "Dr… Akagi?" Shinji was shocked to see his former pediatrician standing outside the door.
"What are you saying Shinji?" Misato came into the sight of the door and saw Dr. Ritsuko Akagi standing outside. "Rits?"
"Hey," Ritsuko said plainly with a weak but growing smile. "Long time no see. Looks like you're all doing…" she never got to finish that statement from Misato's tackle-hug, nearly taking her best friend to the floor.
"Oh my god Ritsuko!" Misato cried out. "You survived… how come you didn't say anything?"
"If you… let go… I'll explain… everything," Ritsuko replied as she felt Misato crush her ribcage.
Once Misato released her former best friend (by circumstance though the opportunity is possible for reconciliation), she invited Ritsuko in for some coffee, made by Shinji of course. Nothing less would be used for a guest, at least regarding who made the coffee.
So Misato asked Ritsuko what had happened during the attack. To Ritsuko, it was all mostly a blur. She left out the part about being shot by Gendo Ikari in Terminal Dogma. After everything went a little awry during the event called 3rd Impact, she felt like she had passed out. When she woke up, she found herself in Central Dogma being looked over by none other than Vice-Commander Fuyutski.
"So you survived and had nothing happen. I got blown up and lived to tell about it," Misato joked. She then saw the look on Shinji's face that had just gone grim from momentarily reliving that memory. "Aww lighten up a little Shinji, you saved my sorry 90 percent 3rd degree burned body and for that I'm eternally grateful. And I am somewhat grateful for the coffee." She passed her mug to him, "Can you get me another one pretty please?"
As Shinji obliged Misato's request, Misato now popped the question to Ritsuko. "I'm sure though that you aren't here to catch up on good old times, why exactly are you here then?"
"Well, you're right on both accounts," Ritsuko admitted. "I do admit that I wanted to know how you guys were doing in person since not much can be garnered from Section 2's distanced view other than well or not well. And, hey I sort of missed you guys and all the adventures we've had. Work at NERV now is somewhat dull and repetitive."
"Obviously," Misato replied while keeping her expression the same. "Now what's the real reason why you're here? The professional version please, minus the BS."
"Okay okay," Ritsuko threw her arms up in defence. "I can't really talk about it here though. Classified information apparently according to the Commander. Otherwise you get the BS version now and I can give you the professional version down at NERV Headquarters."
"Fuck you," Misato growled, knowing she would have to travel all the way down to NERV just to know what the fuck was going on. That would be a complete waste of everyone's time. But nonetheless, if something was up, like perhaps another Impact or anything of the sort, she would want to find some way to defend against it. Her main concern though would be the other three residents. Would they be up for anything of the sort? Let alone would they even want to go back to NERV, where they lived day in and out their worst nightmares?
Ritsuko stood up. "Anyways, I need to get on back. Duty calls." She put her coat back on and proceeded to the door, where Misato followed somewhat distantly behind. Before she stepped out the door, she got in one final word. "Oh and Misato?"
"The commander isn't ordering you four back to NERV, he's more or less extending an invitation to come back. The choice is yours. You may come if you wish, but if you're not interested, he understands and will find others willing to fight for this cause. Just think of the kids and the benefits that will come from service in the long term." And to let that thought linger in the mind of Misato, she stepped back out the door, leaving Misato lingering with that thought.
Misato's Flat (Embrace the flat) – Following Night
Shinji decided to try something a little different tonight for dinner, so he opted for a simple Thai recipe he came across during his spare time at school. When it came to cooking, as long as he had the ingredients anything he came across could basically be turned into a five star meal. Misato seemed to enjoy this one, as did Rei. Asuka on the other hand, didn't bitch about it, and Shinji would take that as her silent approval.
Misato decided to try and make a bit of conversation, "So guys, it's almost the end of school. I think I can save enough money to treat all of us to a classy restaurant by the end of the year. So what do you three have in mind?"
"How about just something simple Misato?" Shinji proposed. "We don't exactly have a lot of money, so maybe just a good time at a ramen tent?"
"Typical," Asuka countered in a flat tone. "You get the chance to go big and you blow it at the ramen tent. Try going up a few stars."
"Asuka!" Misato said in frustration. Damn, no matter what you did, she always had to be the buzz killer. Not this time. "What about you Rei? Anything in particular you'd like to try?"
"I have not thought of anything," Rei replied quietly. "Ikari has a point though about the lack of money, but Sohryu has the idea of being able to enjoy ourselves while we can."
"Right on Wondergirl," Asuka kept using the flat tone. Better than her raising her voice. "In that case, let's find the best restaurant we can." Which would bring the ball back to Shinji's court and potentially an argument would break out.
Misato quickly shot Shinji a look that said 'Unless you want to argue with Asuka, and we all know where that ends up going, just give in and agree.' She then spoke, "Well we can't exactly splurge but yes there is enough money for a decent restaurant and the decent meal to go with it. Don't worry about money Shinji, that's my job okay?"
Shinji knew better. Dinner time was a time where everyone was supposed to be together with some degree of peace and harmony. If Shinji wanted to argue with Asuka which was something best kept to a minimum as currently was, resigned to what Misato and Asuka had in mind. With a sigh, he gave in, "Okay, I guess we can go a high level restaurant then."
"Good, looks like a unanimous vote then with Rei abstaining again," Misato said with a cheer. "Well Asuka, since you want the high level restaurant, I'll let you pick out the one you want." Asuka didn't show acknowledgement, but Misato knew she silently did. "Rei, can you just clean up in here once everyone's done?" She got Rei's acknowledgement. "And Shinji, you can take a breather after dinner."
So while Asuka went back into her room, for who knows what reasons, Rei went to work cleaning up in the kitchen, Misato went back into her room for a beer or two… or three, and Shinji decided to watch some television with Pen-Pen.
But while in that room, Misato weighed in on what happened the night prior with Ritsuko. Why would the commander "ask" them to return to NERV Headquarters? Was there an ulterior motive? Or did he have genuine intentions this time? There could have been some chance that the commander saw the light… or rather just a small speck of light and had a change of heart. The better pay and health coverage along with guaranteed pension after retirement would definitely help since the world was funding NERV. In her mind, going back and at least seeing what they had to offer was better than dealing with idiot customers at a retail store. But her heart was screaming to her to not go back unless she had unanimous and undisputed approval from Shinji, Asuka, and Rei. While her mind and heart bickered more than a liberal and a conservative politician bickering over taxes, both entities agreed that Misato needed another beer.
Coming out of her room, not much had changed since she had waltzed into her room with the initial beer. She decided to open up to Rei first, being the most objective out of the three. "Hey Rei," she began just to get the girl's attention.
"How would you feel about going back to visit NERV Headquarters?" Misato inquired. "Last night I got an invitation from Dr. Akagi to go back sometime." Opening bet.
"Why would we want to go back to a place that caused us severe psychological trauma?" Rei countered Misato. Ouch. Misato was not expecting that one. Rei called the bet.
"Because…" Rei had just countered Misato's opening bet with a call. No sense in beating around the bush. "Well Dr. Akagi told me that Commander Ikari had extended an invite to the four of us, asking us if we would like to go back to NERV." Bet on the flop.
"And why would he do that?" Rei countered again with a call.
Misato had nothing. There was no bullshitting this one. "I don't know actually. Ritsuko wouldn't tell me. She offered me a half-truth version with the promise of getting the full version if we went down there." Bet on the turn.
"I see," Rei replied. "I personally do not have any objections. I sense the financial benefits would be of help, but I have doubt that Ikari or Sohryu would like to return to that place." Ugly re-raise again, forcing Misato to have to convince Shinji and Asuka to go on back to NERV. She was glad this wasn't for money.
"Thanks," Misato said with some sarcasm. So much for getting support from Rei. Well it seemed more like she was indifferent herself to going, but knew that Shinji and Asuka may not share the same "enthusiasm" Rei had just shown. She looked over at Shinji who seemed more concerned with his headset than the conversation in the kitchen. She walked on over and sat down next to him. "Hey Shinji," she began, tapping his shoulder.
That got his attention and he removed his headset. "Yes Misato?" he replied.
"Hey," she went on. "I just wanted to ask you something. When Dr. Akagi came over last night, she extended an invitation from Commander Ik… your father." Seeing Shinji's shock from this revelation, she continued to confirm his silent inquiry. "Yes, he's still alive as well. And I was thinking that if we went back to NERV Headquarters, we could finally move into a better place, have more money and you could be back with all your classmates in Tokyo-3." Right as she sensed some objection lurking around the corner, her empathy took over and she laid it out. "But I would absolutely stick with what we have right now if you, Asuka, or Rei had objected to this. I wanted to get your opinion first, because I don't want to force any of you to go back. We have to stick together as a family, and united we will stand."
Shinji knew that Misato was right, and was grateful that she considered his feelings. At the same time, he knew that Misato had come home numerous times from her retail job either wanting to cry or throw a temper tantrum. But NERV represented a whole lot of things to him and a lot of them particularly negative: EVA, his incredibly distant father whom he hardly knew on a personal level, terrifying and traumatic battles against the Angels, and that chaotic day called 3rd Impact.
"Can we at least have a choice upon going down?" Shinji offered.
"That seems appropriate," Misato answered, pleased with Shinji's answer. "If we go down there and you don't like what you see, then we come right back here." Whew, now that was two down with one to go. "So with both yourself and Rei in compliance, now we just have to convince the most unlikely one to go back to NERV. Is Asuka still in her room?" She saw Shinji nod, and went to go knock on her door. "Asuka, are you awake?"
One destroyed door, three dents in the wall, two broken windows, many broken objects, and one police visit later…
Now that that incident was all good and settled, Misato and the teenagers had come to a consensus that was reached as they cleaned up the mess that was made of the apartment. So they would all go down to NERV within two days to see what was going on down there. And they all knew that it could once again have something to do with the EVAs. But at the first sign that one of them felt uncomfortable (within reason), they would pack up and leave. But they would also have to be in the building for at least 1 hour too before they wanted to pack it up and go back home and never return to NERV again.
That day did come, and the four occupants all packed into Misato's car for the drive to Tokyo-3. After what was a silent journey, they were quite surprised at what they saw coming into the city.
"The hell?" Misato said abruptly as they drove. The city had been practically rebuilt! "How the hell did they build the place back so fast?"
"It says here that contracts were handed out very quickly so as to rebuild the city as soon as possible," Rei responded as she read a pamphlet.
"Handing out contracts like shoveling horseshit out of a barn I see," Asuka rudely chipped in.
"Asuka," Misato said sharply, disapproving of the German girl's choice of words. While the city had been rebuilt for the most part, it was still rather empty. There were people out and about, but the city still felt abandoned. Mind you, this was the site of an N2 mine being dropped. Some would be hesitant to return to such a terrible place. But others would see that there was plenty of potential here. A fortress city, with improved structural design to protect against enemy attacks. It could become a model for basing other cities off of if other countries desired to turn their cities into large fortresses. They had passed by their school again on the way there too. It looked… EXACTLY the same as it was before it was blown up. Right down to the one bent basketball hoop.
But NERV as well looked… the same too. There was absolutely no change at all from a year ago. The four silently got out of the car and walked over to the check-in station. The receptor still accepted Misato's old and expired ID card. If they stayed long enough, she would probably get another card though. And maybe one for the kids if they stayed long enough. After what felt like a long agonizing journey down memory lane and an elevator, they arrived in the heart of the facility.
"Looks like you took up my offer after all," Ritsuko's voice echoed throughout the room. Looking to their right, there she was standing in the shadow before moving into the light. "The commander knew you would come."
"He's… expecting us?" Misato asked curiously.
"Indeed," Ritsuko answered. "Come. Follow me." She led them through a maze of hallways. The facility wasn't empty again as there were staff members and security detail patrolling the hallways. Notably with more body armour and larger guns. That didn't stop the place from looking gloomy.
"I told you they would come," one male voice stated. "Fate beckoned them to return to this place."
"I still think it was a lucky guess Ikari," another voice, notably male as well responded.
The door opened to reveal Dr. Akagi had returned and with Major Katsuragi and her charges all in tow: Rei, the Second Child, and that boy who was presumably his son. "We've been awaiting your arrival," the first male voice stated. "Sit down, we have plenty to discuss."
"Commander Ikari," Misato replied, acknowledging and saluting the first voice, "It is… good to see you alive."
"Likewise." Maybe. Gendo and Fuyutski, would then go into detail. "As you know, 3rd Impact occurred about a year ago," he began to explain. "The entire world was affected by what had happened, especially all of Japan and other surrounding countries. With appeal to the United Nations, and to the appeal of large multi-national corporations, many contracts were handed out like food to the homeless."
"Or like horseshit out of a barn," Asuka mumbled. That got her an elbow to the ribcage from Misato.
Unfazed, Gendo continued. "And as such, the city has been rebuilt very quickly and within a year. Within five years, this city will start profiting again soon, and we can work towards paying down the large debt we owe to the world. Not just for rebuilding the city, but for the damages caused by the Evangelions and the Angels. And 3rd Impact."
"What does that have to do with us?" Misato asked. "Why did you ask us to return?"
"While in the process of rebuilding," Fuyutski chipped in, "we came across more scrolls, similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were written in a dialect different to the original scrolls. Not in any known language."
"I won't go into details," Gendo stated, "as to how we were able translate the scrolls. But we do know this. Whatever it is that still lurks out there, the scrolls presented us with a warning. No, a dire threat."
Shinji and Asuka perked up slightly with raised nerves.
"There were seventeen Angels in total," Gendo went on. "Perhaps much like anything in this universe, there is always one thing to balance another. To have imbalance is to have chaos. If our interpretation is correct, seventeen more Angels are coming."
"What?" Misato shot out, jumping out of her seat. "You can't be serious! We beat all the Angels!"
"Yes we did," Gendo answered her calmly. "But where there's light. There is… darkness."
"We suspect these Angels are of a different entity," Fuyutski figured. "Whereas the Angels of before were doing whatever work God had planned, what could be coming next are of different origins. Perhaps evil origins. And if that is the case, then we must prepare the Evangelions again."
"You can't be serious!" Shinji suddenly replied with his voice raised. "Don't you have any idea what kind of monsters those things are?"
"We do," Gendo calmly answered in contrast to his… the boy's outburst. "Unfortunately they are the best and only weapons we have at our disposal in order to maintain peace and stability. And what we do know, is that if these new Angels arrive, their intentions are to ruin our world. If they have their way, there will be no place left to run. The world populace will be slaughtered mercilessly. Perhaps they have some form of 4th Impact in mind. I do not know. And I do not intend to find out."
Tokyo-2 International Airport
Even in these troubling times, the airport and the people who work there still finds a way to make it busy and productive. People pass through for many means purposes. People come to Japan for the purpose of tourism of all its unique sights and attractions. Others come because they may wish to immigrate to Japan because they wish to fully embrace the culture that has thrived and evolved for thousands of years. Lately, many have been coming in for the sake of the work available in construction and/or for the jobs available for hire. Once seen over a year ago as a land of ruin and death, the potential here has turned Japan into a land of opportunity and growth. As a result, many people from many different countries have come here, seeking possible jobs, a place to call home, or even to see what this mysterious land's history has to tell.
As always, the airport can tell many stories about the people that come in and out. On this day, the airport has two specific stories to be told about. Two stories, that began thousands of miles apart, will collide into one story. One story that will affect the entire foundation of the world.
"Welcome to Japan," the customs guard at the airport said to the person in front of him at Terminal 1.
"Thank you sir," the voice, which of a young female with a soft Russian accent replied. After the woman passed through customs, she opened up a small book that contained some notes. "So, someone here will pick me up and transport me to NERV Headquarters," she said quietly. "I presume they know who I look like." After obtaining her luggage, which consisted of two large suitcases, she paced through the airport. She had actually had a pleasant flight over to Japan. No incidents, no turbulence and excellent customer service. She was even processed smoothly too. And she only had to wait five minutes for her luggage.
The young lady in particular, went by the name of Ivana Natalya Kharlamov. With her long raven black hair (that was tied into a ponytail), her sad blue eyes, and quite muscular build, she could be an imposing sight even at 5'7". She was dressed in a Russian style military coat with beret. She had flown all the way here from Moscow, Russia.
As she continued to walk, her presence standing out from amongst the crowd, Ivana was approached by a large stocky man in a black suit. "Miss Kharlamov," he spoke, addressing her. "We've been waiting for you."
"Are you from NERV Headquarters?" she inquired.
"We've been instructed to transport you to the facility," the agent responded. "More will be explained once the other Child arrives."
"Yes, once my colleague returns with the other Child, we shall go."
"I see," Ivana said quietly. "So I'm not the only one then. Perhaps they are short on pilots."
"Welcome to Japan," the customs guard at the airport said to the person in front of him at Terminal 3.
"Thank you," the young male voice replied, thinly masking his frustration. "Holy moly," he said out loud in English, "And I thought Pearson was bad as is. This place makes it look like a bloody joke. Not to mention the food tasted like three day old leftovers." He looked around the airport. Some guy who hopefully recognized him would be here to get him so they could go to NERV. He waited about ten minutes for his luggage to come through on the conveyor belt only to realize it was the wrong suitcase. "Fuck my life," he mumbled again. Thirty minutes later, it finally did arrive. Just like in the movies. And now to go and find someone he had no clue who they looked like. He needed a coffee. Fast.
Zackary Robert Harper was the name of the flustered teenager. His short brown hair along with his green eyes made for a more friendly sight than most people. At about 6 feet tall, he was already taller than a lot of the men here which made him stand out even more than he preferred. His choice of dress was very informal, with blue jeans, white sneakers and a blue and white sports jacket.
Zackary was then approached by a man in the suit. "I assume you're Zackary Harper," the man spoke to him.
"Zack preferably," Zack replied, trying to be just as imposing, "And no I am not giving out autographs right now, sorry." Imposing, and a smartass all rolled into one.
"I'm with Section 2," the man replied, unmoved by the boy's snide statement. "I'm supposed to escort you and the other arrival to NERV Headquarters."
"Alright, finally getting somewhere," Zack quickly cheered. "Lead the way my good sir." A thought then hit him. "Wait, 'other arrival'?"
"Yes, I am to escort you and the other person that arrived here today for orientation," the agent replied. "That is all I can say for now."
"That's it? Lame," Zack muttered as he followed the agent. "Wait, can we stop and get a coffee?"
A/N: After a long time in retirement, I move into semi-retirement with this chapter being complete. Hopefully my inspiration stays around this time. This was probably sitting on my computer for the best of about a year. And today I finally got around to finishing it. Hope you enjoyed it, and I hope I haven't lost my touch!