"You're a little late, aren't you?"
A shot rang out, clipping Kaji on his left lung, flooding it with blood.
He was going to die, he thought with a slight arrogant smile. He had been wholly prepared for this. Looking in front of him, he spotted the young beautiful assassin sent for him. She couldn't have been older than thirty, maybe even younger. She had long silver grey hair tied to a tight bun, her red eyes looking at him with some sort of lust and emotion, her hand steady aiming the gun at the unarmed man.
She approached him, step-by-step, watching him fall down to a sitting position, his breathing getting shallower and shallower. She looked at him curiously, wondering for a moment why he hadn't come armed. Shaking her head slightly, she took those thoughts out of her head, and she slowly unzipped her front, exposing her naked skin underneath.
This was her MO, her expression of her love… she would give him his last rites.
"No need for that," Kaji coughed, spitting out blood. "Just do what you have to do. Make it quick. It really hurts."
She had to smile at that. Ryouji, even in the end… cool as ice. Her heart pumped hard, warmth of emotion flowing through her. He really was handsome… his smile was devilish…
"What makes you think you can stop me?" the woman asked gently, her hands stopping just before she could expose herself to him. She would certainly be able to coax him on it… and he certainly wouldn't be able to do anything about it.
"If you come near me, I'll damage you… and I'd hate to do that," he replied easily, yet weakly. "So just do us both a favor. Just get on with it."
"Very well…" she stated softly, feeling a pang of longing and anger at his rejection. She aimed her gun for the kill. "Any last words?"
"I said my peace earlier," he smiled. "Finish it."
She just nodded, and squeezed the trigger.
"… and tell Shinji-kun to take care of the melons I've been growing for me, will you? He knows where they are."
The messaged stopped, leaving Misato feeling the cold dread. She knew what that was… Kaji's last message to her. He was a painted man… and he was already probably dead. She did what any woman could.
She cried. She cried so hard that her knees buckled, and fell on the cold lifeless floor.
"Misato-san…?" Shinji approached, looking at his guardian. He felt her sorrow, her pain, but as always, he couldn't act. He didn't know how.
"Shinji…?" the woman looked up, and saw her care watching her cry. She tried to wipe away the tears, believing that her actions were unbecoming. She couldn't. She just cried.
The boy looked at her vulnerability. Her confidence, her drive, everything that he knew about her was gone for an instant. It was like seeing a stranger in his guardian's body.
"Oh god… I'm sorry…" she declared, trying to get back her normal teasing tone she always used around the boy. No avail. She stood up, still crying, cursing silently at her weakness. Shinji just stood there, not knowing what to do.
He was always like that, she thought.
Not anymore thinking, she lunged at him, hugging him tightly against her. She needed someone to comfort her. He was the only one around. She was selfish, she knew… but she was also helpless against it as she just continued to cry on his small chest.
Shinji was now trying to force himself to calm down, trying not to run away. She needed comfort. He would give her that, he decided, patting and gently rubbing her back, letting her cry on him.
"It's done," the assassin declared towards her cell phone as she drove her car away from the kill site.
"I'll send in the Cleaner. Have you extracted anything from him in person, or on his apartment?"
"Nothing of importance," she replied. "What they were looking for wasn't there."
"Maybe he has passed it on to someone…"
"A lover maybe?" the assassin asked.
"Too obvious. Agent Ryouji wouldn't be that transparent. Did he speak anything to you as you gave him his last rites?"
"He rejected me," she replied, sighing with some longing. "I obliged."
"Strange. I would have thought he'd accept you, Maria, the Lover, as his final memory in this world. Too bad. Did he say anything, like last words or the kind?"
"Yes, though he said he had given it earlier," Maria replied neutrally. "Why? Do you want me to continue to investigate?"
"Yes, Maria. Whatever Agent Ryouji had gathered, the information he had could be quite useful. Take your time. Thoroughly check his residence again. You may have missed something."
Maria hung up, throwing her cell phone away. She slowly drove towards Agent Ryouji's apartment complex, knowing it was the first place to start the investigation. As she shifted the gear into the fifth, she sped through the empty roads, her thoughts on Kaji as he lay on the ground, with a rather peaceful expression on his face.
A tear flowed from her right eye. Another man she had loved…
Nothing once more, Maria growled. She had went through every nook and cranny of the place. Before, she had seen some interesting password codes inside the toilet tank, and a few numbers under the couch, but again, searching once more gave nothing of importance. Wherever Agent Ryouji kept his data, he kept it well. He seemed to mock her as well, even after death, leaving his gun, his cell phone, and his wallet behind, free for anyone to see and look through.
It only served to remind her of the man she loved, who rejected her. Damn you, Kaji Ryouji, she thought.
It was useless. She had been thorough the first time. Exiting his apartment, she went back to her car, and sped away back to her own safe house, careful not to rouse any suspicion. Tokyo-3 was almost abandoned after the worsening effects of the Angel Attacks, and with Fuyutsuki's kidnapping just this week NERV had been uptight with their security.
Slamming the door behind her, she quickly unzipped her full body suit. Naked in her dark apartment, Maria went to her console, putting on slim spectacles that reflected the light off her screen and delved into Kaji Ryouji's file… or what seemed to be his file.
It was a rather censored file. The only thing it had was his name. Names of his acquaintances, lovers, friends, or anyone else were blackened out. It was Maria's preference, to just concentrate on the face and name of her targets. That way, she would fall for them easily, and that helped her perform her tasks. It was some sort of single-mindedness that was her greatest strength and her greatest weakness.
She spent her days in her hideaway, hacking through government databases, looking through his phone records. Like a true spy, he left little to no trail behind, each of his numbers coming to a dead end. The only thing she learned was the only two frequent contacts he had were NERV HQ, and a residential number. A little more hacking here and there, she realized it was the number of a certain Misato Katsuragi, the Operations Director of NERV.
Of course, those were months ago. In the past week, he had made no calls in his cell phone, or residential phone as well. In the end, it was a cold trail.
She sighed, and removed her glasses to rest her eyes. Looking at the darkened skies from the window of her apartment, she went out on the veranda, letting the cool night air breeze through her naked body. She didn't feel ashamed. She was the only one there, the whole surrounding area having been deserted.
After watching the stars for a few minutes, she moved back inside, and went to the bathroom. She opened the tap, filling the tub with warm water. It took a few minutes for it to fill, but when it did, she enjoyed the warmth of the water as she dipped in.
What was that saying? Wash your worries away in the bathes, Maria thought with a slight calm smile, and for the first time in days, relaxed fully knowing she was going to work herself to exhaustion later.
It took a few more days, but she finally got another lead. Before Kaji had come to the meeting place, he made one last call… to a payphone.
Smart, Maria thought as she typed in her console. Payphones may have been deceptively hard to trace as multiple of people use them but the city was almost deserted, only a handful of people live here anymore.
Agent Ryouji contacted Misato Katsuragi before his death. Was it just a simple goodbye? The man knew he where he was marching to, judging by his reaction when he saw Maria… or was it really the lead she was looking for?
Knowing her destination, she immediately dressed up in her suit, and exited the apartment, cocking her silenced gun for a good measure. It was time to visit this Katsuragi woman.
By the time she was stalking around the apartment, the sirens, indicating an Angel attack rang. She ignored it. It was more convenient anyway. Maria knew that Misato Katsuragi would be at NERV, handling the extermination of the Angel, so it left her plenty of time to search around her apartment unobstructed.
She didn't want to confront the woman. So far, she was an innocent. The only thing she was guilty of was her apparent relationship with Agent Ryouji.
Picking the lock on her apartment door, she was immediately greeted by the dark foreboding living area. It was clean, but judging by the air around the area, it wasn't exactly happy. First thing she did was go for the phone, and spotted the answering machine. She chuckled slightly, wondering if her search was actually going to be easy as she pressed the button on the machine.
With her luck though, she doubted it.
Most of her messages were from NERV Headquarters, different sections asking for the Katsuragi woman to call back. Going through more messages, she reached towards the end, and was surprised when she heard his voice.
Maybe Fate wanted to ease her burden for a bit, she thought as she listened to Agent Ryouji's message.
"Katsuragi… it's me. I know you're listening to this, so I want to say I'm sorry first for causing you so much trouble. Please tell Rits-chan I'm sorry as well. Its not much of a consolation… but if I do see you again, I'll tell you those words I should have said eight years ago. I hope you don't make the same mistakes I did. Don't hesitate, Katsuragi. Move forward without compromise."
There was a pause.
"Oh, and tell Shinji-kun to take care of the melons I've been growing for me, will you? He knows where they are."
Maria looked thoughtful. Agent Ryouji did say good-bye… but his last words sounded a bit cryptic. Kaji, in her file, wasn't much of a gardener. He was far too busy with his work to keep himself tied down to anything like that. In addition, who was this… 'Shinji-kun'? He apparently knows where Agent Ryouji kept his 'melons'.
This is where trying to censor out her target's personal life becomes a disadvantage. She had no idea who this Shinji was or his connection to Agent Ryouji. Deciding to call it in later, she looked around the apartment for a minute, trying to get a feel for the place.
The Misato woman wasn't living alone, she assumed. She opened the doors of the apartment, seeing the kitchen, the bathroom, two guest rooms that indicated someone had occupied them. She didn't care about those. She wouldn't care unless she had her target. That was how she worked.
Later, she was Misato's bedroom, judging by the vanity mirror. It was also a mess. She opened the window, looked down and up. The room was situated at the back end of the building. When everything was seen and done, Maria exited the apartment, and vanished from sight, as she walked back to her car.
Maria relayed everything to her superiors once the Angel attack had subsided. The signal jamming that had been NERVs Standard Operating Procedure to censor what was going on during an Angel attack was still effective enough to cut her out from her handler and superiors, and it was only until she had arrived back at her apartment she was able to call back.
Relaying everything about Kaji's message, her handler then told her to wait. Her message would be relayed to her superiors, and then they would decide on her next course of action. So… she patiently waited until they would call on her again.
Earlier that day, at NERV HQ…
"Don't…! Don't enter me!" Asuka screamed as she clutched her head. "AGH! Stop! STOP IT! NO! NO! GET! OUT! OF! MY! HEAD!!"
"ASUKA!" Misato panicked, looking towards the technicians.
"Her psychograph is at critical point!" Maya declared, typing fast at her console.
"Her mental circuits are being severely damaged," Ritsuko assessed. "If it goes any further, it'll overload!"
"Damn it…" Misato looked back at the big screen. "Asuka, retreat!"
"NO!" the girl declared.
"That's a direct order, damn it! Retreat!"
"I'd rather die!" Asuka screamed.
It was useless, she wasn't listening, Misato thought. "Damn it… how's the charging of the positron rifle!?"
"It's fully charged!"
"Rei," Misato looked towards another part of the screen, where it displayed the First Child's face. "Fire!"
"Yes ma'am," Rei Ayanami replied calmly, and her EVA squeezed the trigger. The beam of energy shot upwards, towards the Angel, only for it to be stopped by an AT-Field.
"No effect!" Makoto, one of the technicians relayed. "Not enough energy to break through the AT-Field!"
"Let me help her!" Shinji suddenly declared from his position. His EVA was frozen under Commander's Orders.
"Negative, Pilot," Gendo Ikari, the Commander of NERV HQ stated, earning a surprised look from everyone. The man usually kept quiet from his position, and rarely spoke.
"But father… Asuka…!" Shinji protested, but he was ignored.
"Rei," Gendo looked towards the First Child. "Go to Terminal Dogma. Retrieve the Lance."
Fuyutsuki faced the man, his eyes wide and confused. "The Lance of Longinus? Ikari, you can't possibly be thinking…!"
"We have no choice," Gendo declared with a slight smile. "Don't worry about the old men. I'll take care of that."
"If you're sure…"
No one knew at that point, but that stunt had slowly was going to change the lives of a few chosen people forever.
A few days later, in a dark room, multiple of light pillars, each with a number began to speak amongst themselves.
"That damn Ikari! He's up to something."
"Obviously. He didn't even make a proper excuse."
"He is in need of a lesson. Maybe we can send the Doctor on his way…"
"No, she would damage him excessively. Besides… the Lover is still on that city. She would not appreciate it if we let someone, especially the Doctor, in her territory."
The pillar with the number 'One' on it suddenly spoke, making the others go silent.
"We can use the Lover for this. We can use her to send him a message."
"How? Getting rid of Ikari? That would prove useless. We don't have a replacement for him, and we're at a critical stage."
"There is one target she can take care of. One that Ikari might not be willing to lose."
"And who would that be?"
"Let me worry about that."
Later, Maria finally received words from her handler.
"Maria… this is your new assignment. You have a new target. This man, this Shinji that Agent Ryouji had mentioned may have anything information we might be looking for. Extract that information, and then finish him."
She was surprised. She was an assassin, not an interrogator. "That's not exactly my job…" she replied.
"We can always send in the Doctor if you want."
"No. Absolutely not," she replied coldly. She may not enjoy the job, but the Doctor, whom she had grown to detest, did… too much, in fact. The woman's sadism was sickening, as she seemed to derive pleasure from causing pain. She wouldn't wish this poor man of the Doctor's presence.
"Any information about this man, Shinji?" she asked.
"Unfortunately, no. You'll have to find him on your own. Good luck."
The line went dead. She paused, looking at her cell phone, somehow feeling something was wrong. Maybe it was the fact she was given a job she wasn't exactly comfortable with, but now she had nothing to work on. No face to look at. No idea what kind of person she would fall in love with, so she began to wonder a bit whom this man was.
It was improbable that her Superiors didn't have anything to go on. They held the world's secrets, after all. Still. A job is a job. She would just make due in putting his face to her memory and heart when she meet him for the first time.
Dressing up with her usual suit, arming herself with a knife and gun, she added a few lengths of PlastiCuffs, a length of rope with a grappling hook at the end, and kept a ski mask. She had only one lead… the Katsuragi woman. She sighed, wondering if it was fate that she'd have to confront her. As long as her face wasn't seen, she could spare the woman.
All Maria needed was a location. Surely, the Katsuragi woman will oblige… hopefully she'll be very cooperative.
Once more, she got in her car, and revved towards the city, relaxed, trying to plan out how she'd coax the woman into talking. It would be difficult if this man, Shinji, was a close friend of hers. Would mentioning that she was the one that ended Agent Ryouji's life make it easier or harder for her? Maria sighed as she shifted to the fifth gear.
Leaving her car a few blocks away, the night sky cool against her face. Wearing the ski mask, she stalked around the darkening area, alert. After a few moments of slowly walking towards Katsuragi's apartment, she was able to spot a few suited men.
Section-Two, she thought with a slight frown. She had expected them, actually. They were responsible for the safety of most of the personnel of NERV, but the number was somewhat inconsistent of the SOP used in guarding one person.
She was on the move. With one fell swoop, she easily knocked out two suited men near to her location, silently and quickly. She dashed towards the others, and they too fell by her hand. They wouldn't wake up any time soon, but with them knocked out, the others would know something is wrong. They would come.
Seeing the apartment of Katsuragi filled with light, she knew going through the front like earlier wasn't the best option. Having explored the apartment before, she knew her entrance. Running from the stairs, to the roof, she set up a grappling hook on the edge, swinging down on the rear-side of the apartment. Rappelling down, counting the windows, she stopped by the window of Katsuragi's room, and checked it…
It was unlocked. The woman was careless, Maria thought with a shake of her head.
The room was dark, but Maria knew it was also a total mess. Outside the door, she could see the light peeking through the narrow opening of the door, with indiscernible noise from the outside. She slowed her breathe. The woman had a companion. If she thought she was born under a lucky star, she would think that the companion could be the man she was searching for, but she just scoffed that thought out.
She wasn't lucky. She had the worst luck, born under the wrong star. Fate wasn't generous. No… she just knew she had to be quick. When the opportunity came, she would capture the Katsuragi woman, and get information about this man, Shinji. If her companion would interfere, she'd knock him or her out.
In the darkness of the room, Maria, the Lover, awaited for her opportunity.
"Is it alright?" Shinji asked timidly, looking at the distraught Misato.
"She wanted to stay at NERV… nothing we can do to change her mind, Shinji…" the woman sighed as she tried to eat her dinner which Shinji had prepared. She shook her head, and put her spoon down.
"Sorry… is it not to your liking…?" the boy asked at his guardian, frowning a bit.
"It… it smells great, Shinji-kun. Its probably delicious, but… I'm sorry, I'm in no mood to eat."
Shinji just smiled, and replied as he did, always. "I understand."
Misato sighed… her appetite was gone. The war had gone on far too long, and the losses were getting greater and greater. The biggest one was Kaji who had gone missing. She knew the man she loved was dead. To make it worse, he wasn't lost because of the Angels. Someone else had killed him. The world grew weary each time she woke to greet the next day. The only people she had left was Shinji, Makoto, Ritsuko and Asuka… the last having suffered a terrible ordeal that she didn't even want to go home with them anymore, opting to stay at NERV HQ.
"Misato-san… you look tired," Shinji said with a frown, looking at his guardian. "Take a rest. I'll clean-up."
Misato grunted, and just nodded. She felt terrible, and just did what Shinji suggested. Besides, she could use a good rest. Approaching the door towards her room, she opened it, only to feel immense pain as something impacted her face, stunning her. She was then thrown inside, and heard the door close.
She was being attacked, Misato thought immediately, and ignored the pain. She then began to feel intense anger. First, it was directed to Section-Two, those incompetent nincompoops, and the second was towards the attacker who had dared invade her home. Feeling her arm locked at her back, she immediately shoved her other free arm to the attacker, and hit the attacker's upper side. Her arm was released.
Misato was surprised to feel her attacker had breasts. Rolling on the ground, she tried to see who was attacking her. What she got was a woman wearing something completely black, with a holster for a knife and gun obvious in her chest and hips respectively, and a ski mask completely covering her face.
"Who are you!?" Misato demanded.
"Misato Katsuragi?" the figure asked. Not waiting for a response, she stated, "Come with me quietly. Don't make me hurt you."
"Like hell you will," Misato declared, and moved in for the attack.
Whoever her attacker was, she was skilled… more skilled than her, Misato thought regretfully. She had Close Quarters Combat training, but being more of a commander than a field soldier, her skills degraded. Her attacker was too fast, and ultimately too strong. She also knew many CQC moves, and more advanced ones as well. More than once, Misato had hit the ground or the wall. She felt the attacker knew that the fight was unevenly matched.
If she wanted to, she could kill her, the purple-haired woman thought. But she wasn't… she needed Misato alive. What for, she didn't want to find out, and continued to fight on.
Maria grunted as she escaped another clumsy attempt of the woman of grabbing her legs. She just flipped her over, and grabbed her arm, locking it in place. Misato just screamed as Maria exerted some pressure over her shoulder, but with her other hand free, she tried to elbow her once more.
Maria was more prepared this time, blocked Misato's attack, and locked her arm behind her as well.
"Settle down, Katsuragi…" the assassin declared. "I need some information… and the more you cooperate, the less painful it will have to be for both of us."
"What do you want?" Misato asked, her teeth gritting.
"I am looking for a man-" she began, only to be cut short.
"Misato-san… are you okay?" a young voice called from outside the door. "I heard some noise…"
Maria cursed, of all her luck. Unknown to her, her captive had a horrified expression on her face, and began to struggle harder than ever.
"Shinji! Run!" Misato shouted. She would never forgive herself if she got the boy involved in this one.
"Huh? Why? What's wrong?" the voice outside asked, confused.
"Shinji?" Maria blinked. Was Fate really being kind to her? She smiled underneath her mask, and whispered, "So that's where he is."
Misato, due to her close contact with her attacker, heard her whisper and realized who she was looking for. "NO!" she shouted, struggling at her hardest. "You won't…!"
"Sorry…" Maria declared with honest regret, and let go of Misato, only to chop the back of her neck, knocking her unconscious. Letting her slump to the floor, she then removed her mask, and readied her gun.
Outside, Shinji was ready to run. Whatever happened inside the room, it sounded pretty violent. However, before he could even move, the door opened. He thought it was his guardian, only to stare down at a barrel of a gun, the wielder, a beautiful looking young woman, whose silver white hair flowed freely down at her back, her red eyes staring at him, with a hint of sadness.
The second she saw him though, confusion suddenly entered her expression. The gun she had aimed at him went down for a moment, her hesitation apparent, and then aimed it back at Shinji's chest.
"Wha…! Who…!" Shinji backed away a step, he too confused.
"Are you Shinji?" she asked.
The boy nodded. His eyes then spotted Misato inside her room, laying on the floor. He felt uncharacteristically angry, his eyes hardening towards the woman who still trained her weapon at him.
Maria was still in a state of confusion. The man… no, boy, Shinji… he couldn't have been older than fifteen. This was Agent Ryouji's ally? Was he the one that hid the information her superiors needed? What if he was? What if he wasn't? Worst of all he had seen her face… what was she supposed to do now?
"Come here…" she decided to take him away. She would find out later if he was Agent Royuji's ally. She took a step forward.
"D-don't come near me!" Shinji exclaimed loudly, his anger replaced with fear as he scrambled backwards, tripping on his own feet, apparently. He backpedaled away, his intentions obvious to Maria, who immediately caught up with him, knocking him out with one swift stroke.
Cuffing his hands behind his back with her nylon PlastiCuffs, she easily carried the unconscious boy, bridal-style, outside the apartment. She went towards her car, placed him at the passenger side, and drove away. While her eyes were on the road, she couldn't help but steal glances at the unconscious boy, vulnerable beside her. When she arrived at a stretch of a road, placed her hand and felt the features of his face.
The Lover's heart pumped slightly harder but she immediately squashed her emotions. She couldn't fall for the boy yet… not until she was sure she would put a bullet in his heart.
Honestly, don't ask. This idea came out of nowhere. Like Mage Wars, it's an experiment, which I'll update from time to time. Enjoy it people. Later.