"I'm sorry, Ikari Shinji. I am going to kill you."
A normal emotion to feel hearing those words would normally be fear. Unfortunately, when a naked woman, who was walking towards him, unflinching, unperturbed - seductive, even, said them, it just confused Shinji. He just stayed there, staring as she moved towards him, taking details of her body as his brain seemed to lurch to a full stop, and the only thing left was the strong beating of his heart.
He tried to look away, but the way she moved was entrancing. His eyes couldn't move away, and he could feel his breathing grow heavier by the second. The room vanished, leaving her and him alone in a monochrome world, with only her strewn in full color, her red eyes almost glowing at him.
She moved, like a snake, quick and assured of her strike. She immediately grabbed his free hand, and with a quick motion, handcuffed him to the bedpost, opposite of his other entrapped limb, leaving him crucified on the soft mattress.
Shinji could only shout a futile protest. "Let me go!"
"Hush," she replied, and moved to the left, towards a table near the bed. She opened the drawer, and he could see her draw out a gun.
Now he felt afraid. "I'll scream!"
"If you want," she said, screwing a black cylinder at the nozzle of her gun, and inserted a magazine. "It's useless, Ikari. You and I both know this building is completely empty, otherwise, you would have shouted for help already."
Shinji actually did. Many times, when she was gone, and he had almost made himself hoarse. Even so, shouting out for help right now seemed better than just going quietly.
She placed the gun down at the table, and he briefly breathed easier again, until she drew a knife from the drawer as well. This one, she didn't put down. Instead, she approached him, her eyes locking once more to his as he felt his breathing quicken, and his panic rising again. Before he could say anything, she straddled on top of him, and placed the tip of the blade on his waist.
Oh God, he thought as he felt the cold steel on his flesh. He sucked his breathe in, knowing how useless the motion was, closing his eyes, silently praying.
Her movement was swift and gentle. She flicked the blade upwards, ripping the cloth of his shirt; torturously slow as Shinji felt the cold move up towards his neck, his heart beating faster and faster. Then, as quick was it started, the blade moved away from his skin, and she exposed his chest to the room air.
He dared open his eyes. He could only see her naked form on top of him; her eyes now had that hunger behind them. Her body slithered, glistening with sweat. He shifted as he could, to try to escape. He couldn't. He was pinned on the bed, her body on top of his, his hands chained to the two bedposts over his head, the cold steel sending shivers.
Her hand then moved over his upper torso, like a wave of water of hot water, moving and groping in rhythm. She lowered her head, her silver hair caressing his skin as she laid her lips, wet by her tongue, on his flesh.
Shinji felt like melting. Her nails swam along his side, scratching his flesh slowly and sensually. Her naked legs felt great, even through the fabric of his pants. She meticulously moved upwards, her hair tickling his nose when she kissed him on the lips.
She made a point to watch him. He could feel her eyes on him in every second. He only looked back, begging for a reprieve. She granted him that. Sliding slowly towards his hips, her tender fingers began to feel the button of his pants, undoing it. She then slowly lowered the zipper, its sound mixing almost evenly with his heavy breathes. He could feel his pants slowly lowering to his knees, and her fingers suddenly moving up towards his thighs, higher and higher. He didn't even know how fast his breathing had become.
Maria watched his motions, hungry and aroused at the same time. She played with him a bit more, enjoying his groans. This was quite an enjoyable experience. She had never been overly intimate with any of her previous lovers. She was more in a hurry for her own satisfaction, knowing that they were about to die from the wounds she had given them. It was either a shot on one of their lungs, or a nick at their artery. She would make love on the pool of blood, watching the life fade from their eyes.
Now it was different. She felt… almost giddy. Ikari was alive, healthy, and responsive. Domina had once said most of her joy is watching her targets squirm. The Lover was finally understood.
Her hips grinded his, her movements turned from teasing to aggressive. She had been waiting for this for far too long, and she began hungrily kissing him. She moved with him, swaying without hurry, yet with hunger. She arched her back, groaning as she felt the minutes tick by, slowly changing her pace, making the whole thing last. Shinji just groaned against her movements, sometimes murmuring a word or two.
Finally, she moved faster, and she ignored Shinji's reaction to her movements. She could feel him intimately, far more than the others. She knew how close he was. She began to kiss his neck, slowly, and began to bite on the soft parts of his skin, all the way to his earlobe. There, she bit harder.
He gasped, and groaned, maybe even shouted softly as he too arched his back, then slumped down, writhing slightly against his bonds, his breathing now shallow. Maria then relaxed on top of him too, making sure she wouldn't crush his small frame with her body. She spotted her gun where she'd left it, and suddenly seemed silly to think of suffocating him considering what she was about to do.
She looked back at him as his body began to relax, his eyes half-open. She watched him, for a moment and placed her hand going over Shinji's face. "Hush," she stated softly.
He relaxed more under her touch, and slowly, he began to nap shallowly. Then, it deepened. After a second, she forced herself to her knees, allowing the young teen more breathing space, and in total silence, got off him.
For a moment, she watched him slumber, watch his chest rhythmically rise and fall with every passing second. She didn't know how long she stayed with him, but the longer she did, the more she realized what she had to do.
Her gun was pointing accusingly at her, armed, silenced and ready for use. She shivered. She approached it, and held it on her hands, the cold metal feeling comfortable on her skin. She walked to the sleeping teen, and placed the muzzle to his chest, just above his heart.
This was it. All it needed was one squeeze. It would all be over.
She repeated that thought over her head. But as she did her hands began shaking. She let it for a few seconds, before she used her free hand to steady the weapon. Another second passed, and she raised her weapon, pointing well away from him. She grabbed a bathrobe was hanging at the hook behind the door and exited the room.
Maria stepped on the carpeted floor of the living room and closed the door behind her. She walked towards her desk and sat on the comfortable chair, her left leg over her chest, while her free hand crossed it. She placed her gun beside the computer screen, which was still on and displaying Shinji's file.
Oh God, she thought. I can't do it.
Shinji slowly drifted around a dark nebulous cloud, whispers around him. He could recognize a few of them. Over time, he realized the words were from the many past conversations he had with everyone in his life.
One particular conversation seemed sharper and more audible than the others.
"Papa! Don't leave me!"
Shinji spotted a younger version of himself crying, looking at the back of his younger-looking father. The surrounding clouds slowly formed to a semi-solid background, forming shapes until he recognized the train station. This was where his father had left him all those years ago.
He watched himself cry, surprised. The memory his abandonment was clear, as painful as it was. The experience had left nothing but scars in his heart, but even then, the details of that day, if he tried to recall them, were sketchy at best. He didn't even remember calling his father in such familiar words. Papa. Now that he realized it, he always called him father, or more recently, sir.
The young Ikari Gendou turned, and declared in a monotone voice, "You are useless to me. I'll call on you when I have a need for you."
He didn't call me when he needed me, Shinji thought blankly. He wrote it.
Then, for some reason, he found himself smiling at that factoid. Maybe it was hindsight, but the whole thing suddenly seemed very silly.
The fog around began to clear, and Shinji watched more and more memories. Most of them were from the time he had arrived at Tokyo-3. Like the beautiful Misato downing cans of beer at their apartment; Asuka and her fiery attitude as she demanded that he accompany her to the EVA Unit-02 while they were on a warship; and finally, Ayanami as she smiled inside Unit-00's Entry Plug after he had shot down the Fifth Angel.
There were memories of others as well. Kensuke and his uniform, toy gun and well made tent in the middle of a high grassy field when he brought Shinji in when he had run away. Then there was Toji punching him hard the first time they met at school.
Shinji smiled. He forgot how hard Toji had hit him there. Did he really jump back that much? he asked himself. Slowly, the smile turned to frown as he began to remember his friend's fate, and before he could even think of anything else, the image then began to shift. This time, the image of EVA Unit-01 crush the Entry Plug of EVA Unit-03 resonated powerfully around him.
The sudden shift to that horrible scene was too much for him. He took his eyes of it, and began hearing a shrill scream in the air. He covered his ears, realizing at the same time the one who was screaming was Toji. Then it got worse when he realized that in the background, he could hear his own voice as well.
"STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! FATHER!"
He opened his eyes and found himself in a dim and unfamiliar room.
"Nightmares?" asked a voice from his side.
Shinji turned, and spotted a beautiful silver-haired woman, her face illuminated harshly by the lamp on top of the desk at her right. She was sitting down in a small comfortable couch, but she was anything but. She sat there, rigid, her red eyes staring at him and her body covered by only a loosely tied bathrobe.
For a moment, he didn't recognize her, and then everything fell into place. She kidnapped him and more than once placed him at gunpoint, and then slowly, the memories of his experience began to move forward like his dream. He remembered her putting him down the floor with relative ease when he tried to escape; he remembered her insistence of being relatively close to him as they ate ramen in that shop and it all ended with her eyes staring at him as she slithered to his body in the sweet and sultry copulation that had left breathless.
He blushed horribly, the memory now becoming clearer by the second. All that was dashed when he heard a gun cock. The sound of cold clicking steel was something he had been familiar with since NERV gave him basic weapon training before he began combat training with Unit-01. Not that it was much of use against the Fourth Angel.
Today though, it was a harsh reminder of his plight
"Did you have a nightmare?" she asked again.
"Yes," he replied, after a moment.
She frowned. "I'd have hoped that I would have given a better dream before it all ended for you."
"You're really going to kill me," he said, his voice a whisper.
"Yes," she said.
He shivered. "I… I wish you did it when I was sleeping."
"Sorry, Shinji," she smiled sadly. "I wanted you to at least know that this wasn't in any way your fault." She paused. "It was your father's."
He fought to keep his surprise, but he didn't. Maria shook her head, stood up, and walked slowly towards him, this time it was no seductive walk or anything fancy. It was just a neutral march with no wasted motions. She stood there, looking down at him, her expression never changing
"I read your file. I read everything about you," she continued. "Your father doesn't love you."
Denial boiled forth, almost expressing itself audibly, until she laid a gentle hand on his face. For some inexplicable reason, he suddenly found himself relaxing at her touch.
"And you will deny it, because you either love him, or because he is your blood and family," she continued. "I understand. I too was like you. I too loved my father," she scoffed, "until I stabbed him, at least."
She raised her hand, and sat down beside the bound Shinji, her eyes still looking at his.
"It is sad that your life was influenced by your father up until the end," she said, and then raised her gun and pointed it at his heart. "Even now, he won't even put an effort to search for you. Odd."
He shivered and whimpered at the same time, his body jolting as the cold steel touched his flesh.
"Hush," she whispered, her free hand going once more towards his face, this time covering his eyes.
He was stilled, but even her touch wasn't calming enough to make him stop begging. Shinji could only hear his own breathing, could only feel her warm touch and the biting cold sharp metal on his shivering chest.
He was helpless, bound at her mercy.
It felt like months, until she spoke again.
"Shinji… what if I told you I'd spare your life?" she asked.
"Your father is the one who did this to you. If you wanted to, I can help you. I will bring you to him, and I will subdue him. All you have to do is kill him, and I will let you go. How about it?"
Shinji's mind, for some reason, heard and understood her words clearly. Then he began to think about it. Was she telling him the truth, or was she just confusing him? The latter he could understand, as she was very good at it. Even her touch had a calming effect, considering he was about to be shot and killed. He faced death multiple times, and never had he been exactly at peace, so what was different her?
She was inviting him to kill his own father. Could he even do it? Part of him felt justified in doing so. He remembered everything from the letter, ordering him to go to Tokyo-3 when he was expecting something more. And when he came, he had known nothing but pain and misery, piloting a robot that did nothing but inflict trauma to him. The final straw would have been Toji, his Entry Plug crushed by his EVA's hands.
And he believed her… she might in fact get to him. It could be his ticket out. He could prolong his life… all he had to do was to kill his father.
He felt his tears come out, and realized the simple matter of truth.
"I can't…" he finally said.
"You can't?" she replied, her voice deceptively calm.
"Yes… I can't."
"Because… I just can't."
Her voice softened. "Even if it's your life at stake?"
"Even then…" he said with the most conviction he could send through his panicked and wavering voice. "But…"
"I don't want to die."
Her hand lifted from his eyes, and she cupped his chin up, making him look at her. She nodded, solemnly.
"No one does, Shinji."
There was sharp pain, and then… darkness.
Misato sighed as she stared at her desk. There was nothing there except a small pile of files, each with reports of the investigation, having assigned Hyuuga to do most of the mundane paperwork that concerned NERV workings.
There was a time when Misato would have loved having minimal amount of papers to work with. Now, though, it was the painful reminder that she was nowhere near getting Shinji back, and what Ritsuko had said was getting to her.
She rubbed her fingers through her face, feeling her purple hair flowing through the space between. She sighed.
Her computer at the left side of her desk rang with a slight Ping! sound. Ritsuko left her a message. She opened it, and read it. It was short, clear, and to the point. Moreover, it was in bold.
Go home already, Misato.
She snorted, and closed the message. You'd think Ritsuko was hiding something in here, telling her to go home already. Misato wanted to… she really wanted to. But every time she thought of leaving to her apartment, she would be hit with an empty feeling in her stomach.
Her office felt more comforting than her apartment did. And she knew why. There was a time when she couldn't wait to leave to the apartment, go home and eat one of Shinji's meals, listen to Asuka bicker about school, about the 'Three Stooges'. Now, it was devoid of anything. Asuka was at psychiatric watch, while Shinji himself…
Shinji. She felt fire coursing through her body. Anger. She was angry with the one who dared kidnap him. She was angry with the Supreme Commander for his callous, uncaring reaction to the disappearance of his only son. Most of all, she was angry with herself for not protecting him - angry that she felt, ultimately, useless.
Her phone rang. She glanced at it, and took a deep breathe. No matter how she felt, she was still a Major, a soldier. A professional. She couldn't just explode on everyone else… well, maybe except Ritsuko. Or, her heart panged even more, Kaji.
"Hello?" she answered.
Misato blinked. Female, and she couldn't seem to place the voice from anywhere, yet… it was familiar.
"Yes?" she replied, warily.
"Ikari Shinji says his farewells."
Dark emotion filled her being, like venomous blood flowing through her veins. She gripped her phone hard enough to strain her hand and the plastic. She finally placed the voice; it was the voice she heard in her apartment, the voice of whose face hidden beneath a ski mask.
"You!" she growled.
"I also want to apologize for hurting you. In more ways than one."
"Shut up. Where is he?" Misato demanded. "Where's my Shinji!?"
There was a pause. Then, a reply. "As I have said… I apologize."
"Listen to me you bitch," she replied with spite, "you hurt him, and I swear, I will come for you. With everything I got, I will kill you! Where. Is. He!?"
Another pause, even longer than the first. For a moment, Misato thought the kidnapper had hung up.
"I'm sorry. It's too late," and with a click, the phone went dead.
Anger left her system, leaving only a cold dread creeping up the base of her spine, like water freezing upwards. Fear came along with the dread, spinning her stomach with to a nauseating motion. She held the phone, her eyes wide and her face drained, slackened with heavy emotion.
Then, fire raged, replacing the fear and uncertainty with drive – a drive for vengeance. She placed the phone back to its cradle and then lifted it again, pressing a button on the dial that linked her to a communication security department.
"Major Katsuragi," she announced when the other line connected. "I just received a call. I need a trace."
After a few moments, Section-8 found little details of her call, most importantly the phone number of her caller. Then, they began the trace.
Satisfied, she hung up, stood up, and grabbed the jacket that rested at the backside of her chair, and wore it without wasted motion. She exited her office to a long well lit corridor, and strode with a purpose towards its length. Staff and guards on their shift staggered to the side as she walked to them, not wanting to be on her way. She almost even bumped on poor Hyuuga, leaving him a bit confused.
She finally reached the elevator, and called it down. Seconds, the metal doors opened, and she rode it up to the office of the Supreme Commander of NERV. Striding through the sliding doors, she ignored the secretary who asked her what her purpose of visit was, and fearlessly strolled into the office.
Inside, her entrance surprised Ritsuko, Gendou, and Fuyutsuki, who all seemed to be discussing something. Misato strode in and placed herself in front of Gendou, pushing her faux-blonde friend slightly at the side and saluted.
"Major Katsuragi," Gendou said calmly. "Yes?"
"Sir, permission to take a unit of Section-2 personnel," Misato stated neutrally.
Fuyutsuki raised an eyebrow. "For what purpose, Major?"
"A rescue mission, sir," she replied.
"You have found the Third Child?" the Supreme Commander asked.
"I have reasons to believe I found a lead to him."
Then Misato explained the phone call she had just received. She explained how she had Section-8 do a trace.
Gendou grunted. "Your lead is very shaky, Major. For all you know, she used a pay phone to call you."
"Section-8 was able to discern the source number," she replied, a little put-off. "It is a landline number. They are obtaining the address as we speak."
"It seems a bit optimistic that a professional who has taken the Third Child under your custody would make a basic mistake in this stage."
"It is our only lead so far," Misato almost growled. "Sir."
Fuyutsuki looked at Gendou, who seemed still. He enclosed his gloved fingers together, hid his nose between the arches of his two arms, and then, nodded.
"Very well. Take Section-2 and rescue the Third Child."
"Thank you sir," Misato saluted, turned and left the office, her dark eyes blazing.
She didn't tell them about the woman's insinuation. She felt if she had, she was sure the Supreme Commander would have been less cooperative. As incompetent as she felt about Section-2's security detail, they were still experienced soldiers and had training. She'd rather have a whole unit when facing this woman. That way, there would be a higher chance in ensuring Shinji's survival, or if she was truthful of her implications, then she'd have utmost difficulty in escaping Misato's wrathful promise.
Maria slid into the driver side of her car, and closed the door. She took a deep breath, and started the engine, taking one last look at the apartment building that served as her home base during her whole operation. She put the car in gear and drove away.
By the time she came to the empty highway going towards city limits, she took out her cell phone and dialed 'two'. The phone then connected to a secure line that bounced off multiple times to make it virtually untraceable. She knew because of the low ringing sound that permeated in the background as an automated voice asked her to hold the line.
Finally, it connected.
"It's done," Maria replied coolly.
"Oh…" there was a pause. "I... I thought you wouldn't go through with it."
"I had no choice. They told me they would have sent the Doctor."
Maria could feel the shiver from her side as the Oracle replied, "Maybe… maybe you did the right thing."
"He was an innocent," the Lover whispered. "What I did… was wrong."
There was another pause, this time, more uncomfortable than the last. Maria kept the line connected as she drove through the tarmac, going faster now.
"Maria… for what its worth-"
"Don't apologize," she said. "You don't have anything to apologize for. But, as you guessed, I am a bit… angry."
"Understandable. Have you told your handler about your success in the job?"
"Wha... shouldn't you call him first before calling me about your mission status?"
"I called you because you can arrange something," Maria muttered.
"What is it?"
"Tell my handler that if I ever see him again, I will shoot his kneecaps, and slit his throat. You tell him if he has problems with that, I will sick the Doctor on him. Or maybe Firefly. Whoever will dish more damage."
"He can reassign himself to someone else. Right now. Make it clear to him this is the best thing he can do."
The Lover took a deep breath and breathed out. She made a left as she finally reached the city limits, and guided her car, exiting Tokyo-3 Proper. For a moment, no one said anything, and she wondered if she had shocked the Oracle. It was an accurate assessment, considering how the Oracle fumbled out her next words.
"Um… so should I call the Cleaner?"
"No need," Maria said. "I already took care of it."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
It was just a few moments later that an explosion rocked the city.
Misato was inside an armored van, along with Section-2 detail around her, each checking their side arms at their holsters, and rechecking the magazine of their assault weapons. She, herself, was tapping the butt of her weapon impatiently. The vehicle moved in steady movement, silent, only lit with a red bulb to mask their presence. A few times, they began to jostle around, making them sway along with the motions.
They all wore relatively the same uniform. Mostly dark clothes for camouflage, they all wore vests, helmets, and night vision goggles raised, the lens pointing upwards. Misato only wore dark pants and a vest over her work shirt, and her own goggles strapped down her neck.
The air smelled heavily of gunpowder, oil and metal. Misato could feel apprehension for some of them as well. Considering she had threatened them to suspension without pay and demotion if they made any mistake, they should be nervous.
They were on the way to the apartment Section-8 had identified where the call came from. She had insisted on going as well, much to the protests of Ritsuko, which was beginning to annoy Misato, almost blowing her off. Her friend never seemed to care much about Shinji, something she wasn't exactly obtuse about. How could that she understand what Misato was feeling when she was so detached to almost anyone but her work?
No one of Section-2 spoke. In a minute time, they would be deployed to rescue the Third Child, and considering how it was partly their fault that he had been taken, they were about to bring down the thunder on whoever made fools of them and get back on the good graces of their employer.
"One minute," the driver called.
Misato just nodded, taking a deep breath. This is it.
The truck stopped exactly a minute later, and the driver gave them a nod. The rear door of the van opened, and Section-2 began to pour out steadily, quietly. They were currently just outside the wall fencing of the moderately large parking area at the base of the apartment building.
Misato took the lead, signaling Section-2 behind her with hand movements. They were to be quiet as possible as not to alert the kidnapper of their presence, and entered, hugging the concrete wall as they moved in the shadows near the entrance.
The building was moderately tall, and beautiful. Unlike other high-rise buildings, which were blocky because it was easier for them to be brought down in case of an Angel attack, this building curved slightly to one side, forming half a bow with its structure. Instead of just metal box, it was concrete and wood with one side made of glass, and considering the elevation of the location, surrounded by trees, it would have given the city a breathtaking view.
Or it would have been. Now, it was in a state of disrepair. The Angel attacks have finally made the land succumb, tearing out trees in chunks. The building was swerving to one side, leaning, affected by the last Angel attack. It reminisced of a tower in old Pisa Italy.
"Alright," Misato muttered, settling in on her routine. She may not have been a field soldier, but tactics and commands were her forte. "You know all your jobs. We have snipers on different buildings, but they are only there if she exposes herself. I want a quick entry. I want to take her in by surprise, and I want it fast. You three on the rooftops, rappel down behind the apartment. You six on the flanks - punch a hole through the sidewalls, and deploy flashbangs. And we three on the front. Once those grenades go off, we all go in together, and box her in. Don't give her a chance to escape, you hear me?"
"Yes ma'am," they all said collectively.
"Good. Then let's-"
She never finished. Suddenly, somewhere in the building, a whole floor exploded outwards in a sea of flames. Misato immediately covered herself with her arm as glass rained, sparkling with the fire as it came down on the ground. Black smoke flew outwards, and she choked at the smell of burnt rubber, wood, and gas, which permeated at the same time, giving a nauseous odor.
When she could finally look up, the cold dread feeling returned. She stumbled towards her radio on her hip, and opened the line towards one of the snipers in the surrounding buildings.
"This is Major Katsuragi," she stated. "What the hell just happened?"
"This is Eagle Eye Delta… floor twelve exploded."
"This is Eagle Eye Alpha. Confirmed. It's the twelve floor. My God… the whole thing's a mess."
Twelfth floor. Misato's grip on her radio was so hard that just a little more, she would have injured herself. Section-8 had specifically locked the trace to this apartment at room 1243, at the twelfth floor.
"Shinji…" she whispered, her face pale. She took a slow step, then a faster one, then a faster one. By her fourth step, she was almost at a full run and would have run through the entrance if the Section-2 personnel hadn't caught up with her.
"Major!" the one who grabbed her called.
"Let me go!" she screamed, her eyes tearing up as she struggled against him. Overpowering him to the ground, she was about to dash once more but more of Section-2 stopped her dead, dragging her back away from the burning building.
"Let me go! Shinji! SHINJI!"
The cackle of fire raging, spreading towards the cool night sky, was the only reply to her anguished cries.
Many miles away, on another city, another safe house, a bell rang as the elevator hit the basement floor. It opened, revealing Maria, carrying a rather large bundle at her arms. She walked briskly, apparently unaffected by the weight of her load, with incandescent lights flickering to life one by one, revealing a rather bland studio-sized room.
It was a minimalist quarters, lacking the regular luxuries in life, replaced instead by several weapons ranging from handguns to armor-piercing sniper rifles that were prominently displayed inside glass case shelves that littered around the room. Where there were no shelves, there were small desks, which either held bullets of different ballistics, small stacks of money of different currencies, or documentations including passports and other IDs.
There was a computer in the farthest corner of the room, a small fridge beside it. And on the opposite horizontal corner laid a rather odd device. It was a pod, large enough to fit a person of average height supported by a thick metallic stand with multiple large tanks filled with an orange substance. The mesh of wires around the pod connected all the way to a terminal located in its left.
She approached the pod, and laid down her bundle in front of it. She removed the blanket she used to cover the pod revealing an unconscious Shinji, who shivered now, his naked body washed with crimson blood. At his wrists tied rubber tourniquets, and both of his hands had missing fingers, leaving only dried blood stumps in their place.
Maria stood up and opened the glass door of the pod with haste. It seems the anesthesia was now losing its effect, and he was beginning to waken to shock and pain. She lifted him up gingerly, and placed him carefully in the pod, binding his arms, legs, neck and head to the device. She removed the tourniquets before closing the pod with a slight click, moved towards the terminal and pressed a button.
The machine hummed to life, and the pod began to fill with orange liquid from its tanks to the brim, fully submerging the boy. A few bubbles escaped his nose before he suddenly struggled on his bonds. His eyes blearily opened, then widened in shock.
Maria stood in front of him, her beautiful face neutral. Her red eyes shook slightly as she watched him struggle, and then she knocked on the glass pod.
Shinji relaxed. The orange liquid felt, even smelled, familiar.
"Can you hear me?" she asked. "Nod if you can."
"You are on a healing tank," she replied professionally. "Its job is to heal wounds, regenerate limbs if you give it a few weeks. If you notice, some of your fingers are missing."
Shinji opened his mouth with surprise, and tried to look down only to find out that he was bound.
"Those will take a week to grow. I'm betting you are also feeling a bit dizzy, and that's because you lost a lot of blood. The machine will regulate everything for you and most of the time; you will be sleeping until you are healed, wherein the machine will release you." She paused, letting her words roll on him. "I will be back before that, though, so do not entertain any thoughts of escaping."
Shinji's face twisted akin to surprise and confusion. Maria smiled a bit at that, and quickly hid it as she spoke again.
"Are you wondering why you are alive? I spared you, Shinji. For now, it's sufficed to say that your life is now mine." Then, her expression softened. Her hand touched the pod, over his cheek. "I'll explain everything when I come back, Shinji. Then… then maybe you can decide whether it was better off killing you."
Maria walked towards the terminal, and pressed a button. The pod whirred, and she stood there for a moment, her eyes glazed a bit. She then walked back towards the pod, and found Shinji once more succumbing to unconsciousness. This time though, he looked peaceful, sleeping almost.
She was just asking for trouble. Not only had she condemned Shinji to a life of peril, hunted down by the others who would no doubt end his life as easily as they could blink, but also forfeiting her life if they found out. She touched the pod again, this time over his face and sighed, her eyes closed.
She could give him mercy. She got what she wanted from him. She got a night of passion and love. It should only be natural for her to end his life. She had done so before.
But she couldn't. Not with him.
She shivered. Was she doing the right thing? For her? For him?
Maybe tomorrow will tell… but considering how fate was with her, she knew it would all somehow end badly.
It has been two weeks of investigation. Section-7 has determined the explosive devices used were homemade. They were used with conjunction with leaking gas main of the whole floor for explosive effect. The biggest and most concentrated explosion was centered around Apartment Room 1243, where it left the room at a mangled mess, destroying almost anything on site. Any useful clues or evidence was compromised by the fire.
The status of the Third Child has been shifted from Missing to Killed. While the body of the Third Child was not found in room 1243 when the room had blown up, there is evidence to point out justification. In the bathroom, we have found, on the tub, two fingers: index and ring. Fingerprints match the third Child. The drain and the tub itself were filled with blood, matching the Third Child as well. We have also found other sets of fingers about three miles from the primary scene, scattered, which also matched the Third Child's.
We are assuming that whoever took the Third Child had cut him to pieces and in panic, left two fingers on the tub by mistake. Whoever this kidnapper was must have realized his or her mistake when calling Major Katsuragi, and left in a hurry, and scattered the remains of the body.
We are still trying to recover other parts of the Third Child, though it is conclusive. Attached are all evidence notes and photos gathered.