AN: Long chapter is long... Lots of ground laying work in this one and quite a bit of foreshadowing. Hope you enjoy!

As always: Suggestions, critique and reviews are appreciated!

Preliminary Planetary Survey Report
Identifier: Gliese 581 g
Type: Planet, Super-Earth
Informal Identifier: 'Gee', 'Zarmina's World'
Orbital period: 36.6 earth-days
Rotational period. 35.2 earth-days
Mass: 3.5 (+/- 0.2) earth masses
Radius: 1.6 (+/- 0.1) earth radii
Gravity: 1.4 (+/- 0.1) g (Standard earth gravity)
Atmosphere: 30% Oxygen, 20% Carbon-dioxide, 50% Nitrogen; Trace amounts of Carbon-monoxide, Sulphuric compounds; large amounts of sub-centimetre particles

Gliese 581 g, or 'Gee', hosts many active volcanoes, with at least three of them meriting the classification of super-volcano. Due to the volcanic activity the atmosphere is slightly toxic to human physiology, but exposure shorter than a earth-month should not result in any permanent damage. The high concentration of ash and greenhouse gases alleviates the temperature discrepancy between the night- and day-side of the almost tidally locked planet but does not cancel it out completely. Severe storms mark the Terminator area, which separates night and day-side, because of the thermal disequilibrium born from the slow rotation.

There are several indicators, like the high Oxygen percentage, that point towards life. Data suggests that at least 60% of the planet's surface are covered with water, which gives maritime lifeforms ample space. Optical verification is not possible at this point in time, as the large ash and dust clouds are obstructing the surface almost constantly...

Misato was reading Emi's report for the third time. Some details still escaped her but she got the gist of it. The planet was not fun but just might hold important resources the Humans desperately needed. Like water.
What irked her most was that planning was slow. Apparently without Gendo the heads of department where anything else than unified.
The one time the bastard is needed he isn't here. Figures.

A soft rap on the door disrupted her reading. She was surprised to see the Deputy Director standing there, the same serene smile he wore since that first meeting a week past still plastered in his face.

"I hope I don't disturb anything important? May I have a couple minutes of your time, Mayor Katsuragi?"

"Of course, Director Fuyutsuki! Please have a seat."

A small silence spread between them. Kozo still held his smile firm in place. Misato felt slightly awkward.
What is it now? I hope he isn't planning a new meeting!

"So, what can I do for you, Sir?"

The old man let out a heavy sigh and with it the smile vanished from his face. Only his eyes held something from the curious expression from a moment before. In an instant he seemed to age ten years. He was not brought low by worry, there still remained a spark in him, but the transformation was startling.

"Mayor, as you know, things are not going well. The heads of department are bickering like schoolchildren who can't decide on a destination for their year's excursion. And I simply haven't got the pull nor the vision to forge a path. I am a gifted teacher, a skilled researcher and a capable administrator but no leader. Never was. And right now we need one, more then ever. I know we did not always see eye to eye, courtesy to Gendo's ambitions, but I respect your leadership capabilities. Ever since you single-handedly requisitioned that prototype particle gun I knew you could get things done. So please, consider my offer."

Misato was speechless. Not only did Fuyutuski's little speech mirror her thoughts to the core, the old man expected her to solve his problem. No. Their problem. Like it or not, they where all in this together.

"What? How?" stammered Misato after half a minute. She took a deep breath and exhaled the air slowly, accompanied by a soft chuckle by Kozo. Then she stared again. "Ok. What exactly are you offering? You sure as hell can't resign and expect the others to just accept me as their new chief. So what do you propose?"

"You are right of course that wouldn't work. I'm not a military man, but I had my share of encounters with them after Second Impact. I would like to make you my executing officer. You are the only sensible choice since you are currently in charge of the tactical deployment of the Evangelions. Well we wont be fighting any Angles any time soon - and lets hope we never have to either - so right now you don't have any official business to attend to, unlike the rest of the section heads. Your new task will be coordinating the various departments, carrying my will to them so to speak.
Only that it will not be exclusively my will but yours as well. I need your intuition, your out-of-the-box thinking. We wont have any more long winded meetings, everyone has had his or her opportunity to bring their ideas up for discussion. They were useful in the beginning but right now we need an homogeneous plan, not some compromise patchwork. The details will be decided by small teams - you, me and whoever is directly involved. Do you think that's reasonable?"

"I suppose... But why me? Why not Ritsuko? And why do we have to pick up leadership anyway? Japan is a democracy, shouldn't we, like, elect a government?"

"Right now Democracy is a luxury we can't afford. It might be the fairest form of government but only when there are enough resources for everyone to live comfortably and the society can afford to give its people some liberties. Right now we don't have the first and can't give the second. We might not starve for another year but we got no infrastructure. We need to build a lot of things in a very short time so there is no choice but to press people who would rather do other things into work.
Thankfully most people in Tokyo 3 are hardened else we would have a mutiny in our hands. As for Dr. Akagi - she is a very competent scientist but like me she is no leader. By all means get her opinion, in fact I very much recommend it, but she will have her hands full. If we are going to survive we will need a lot of innovation. And the young Doctor Akagi is the most brilliant scientist I met since Yui Ikari."

Great. He is in full professor mode. Ugn, I hope this turns out right!
Misato had put on her grim deep-thought face. She did not like what Fuyutsuki had told her but that did not make it any less true. The Mayor was very intelligent in her own way. She was no scientific genius like her friend but that was more because she lacked interest - and the capability to sit down for a couple of days to seriously study material. The Deputy Director was right. Democracy was of no use to them right now and that left only NERV to get things done. It was not that much of a difference to how things were done in Tokyo 3 before Third Impact after all.

"Guess there is no way around it. I accept! So lets get this started already, we have wasted enough time!"

"Excellent! I will expect a draft of your plans tomorrow afternoon."

With that he left Misato to her duties, who had just grown yet again.
Wait, does that mean more paperwork? This is gonna suck!
Her forehead struck the table with a loud tuck and a low moan escaped her throat.

Shinji felt quite comfortable.

A week after the initial excitement things had slowed down a lot. At least for him.
Mostly the grown-ups left Shinji alone. Misato was there for him, but most of the time she had better things to do then constantly look after him. Still she checked in with him at least twice a day. Other than that he had no obligations and spent his days in solitude.

They had arrived and settled orbit around Gliese only days after he first woke. On the surface the red dwarf was plainly visible, its orange with a hint of red light gave the impression of an eternal sunset. He thought the scenery was quite beautiful and spend many hours 'topside', as Misato kept calling the surface.

He was mostly alone up there. Not many had the stomach to visit the haunted place without necessity. Most people only came up to gather some personal belongings and various goods like sleeping bags and tents. Tokyo 3 was in the process of being looted, but its looters where exceedingly gentle.

It had been quickly decided that they would wake all the sleepers and set them to work. Tokyo 3 was in a bad shape after the last fight and getting resources to repair the damage would be scarce. Already the first work crews had begun to clear the debris in and around the pyramid that formed Nerv HQ while others set up shelters for the roughly 50.000 people awake, less than ten percent of the entire population. Ten Percent of the entire human race. A daunting thought.

Misato was worried about him. He could tell. From her questions and remarks, he gathered that she was afraid he would lapse back into his old solitary seeking self.
And she was right.
After the initial surge of hope, his first stab at true happiness, fate yet again decided to squarely hit him in the balls. Here he was, his friends still in hibernation, his mother still inside that thing while none - from Ritsuko to Emi and their access to all the data in the world - seemed to know how to get her out of it, Rei was nowhere to be found and Asuka was still trapped inside her Unit Two, providing gravity to the Black Moon.
The last was somehow the worst of all. Shinji was not entirely sure why.

For the first time in many years he actually felt painfully lonely. After his father abandoned him he had felt like this and it took him more than a year to get over it in a fashion. Because he was ignored by most people be used his solitary as a kind of armour. Being lonely became both the source and the coping mechanism for his misery.
Until he was called to Tokyo 3.
Now he had friends, people who cared about him, had drawn him out. And while he was certain that he wanted them back he had once again embraced his solitude.

For now, he waited. There was nothing to be done.

The small, but growing tent city outside headquarters had the feel of a refugee camp. Not surprisingly, in a certain sense it was precisely that.

However unlike most other such camps this one was bustling with energy and purpose, the refugees determined and eager to get some sort of normality back. Tokyo 3 had attracted a very peculiar kind of citizens. All over the age of 25 were survivors of second impact and the bad times that followed after. Human society had not crashed, but it was a near thing. There was plenty of misery even in a stable and developed country as Japan. And it required a certain mixture of bravery, stubbornness and grim determination to hold out in a city which basic function was to be a punching bag for the Angels.
Its inhabitants were used to rebuilding.

Almost all current inhabitants where part of Tokyo 3's work force - builders, mechanics, engineers. And just after they had made the camp almost habitable, not the crowded mess it was a week ago, the order came to relocate.
They were not pleased.
At least the steady flux of newly decanned sleepwalkers meant that the process would be quicker. Only a small part of the current campers - as they called themselves in contrast to the NERV staff that mostly slept in the pyramid - had been awake for more than three days. Yet true to their Human nature they already classified people based on when they were woken. People still in hibernation were 'canned', freshly 'decanned' were called 'sleepwalkers' because of their addled or vacant expressions and those that had over that phase were the 'woken'.
The NERV staff was not included in this. They were simply 'that bunch in the pyramid' or - only muttered when none of the Section 2 agents that policed the camp were near - less pretty names.

While the camp was moved further from the pyramid, the engineers were called to a meeting almost to a man. Only the most junior ones were left to oversee the move.

The meeting was held in a medium sized auditorium inside the pyramid, that was remarkably intact. After everyone was set they all regarded the two women in front with wariness - both of them were in uniform.

"Good morning everyone. My name is Mayor Misato Katsuragi, this is Lieutenant Maya Ibuki. I've been tasked to oversee the necessary changes that will keep us alive in the years to come. As you have doubtless heard after you were woken, Earth is gone. We can't go back there and even this star system is nothing but a short respite. Going back to the pods in hope to wake up in paradise might be an option, but we want to keep that as a last resort.

"Our situation is not so bad for the moment, but will take a downward turn if we don't act now. Luckily we have a plan. You are here to forge this plan into reality. We need three things: food, energy and a place to live. For the later, the city above itself is not an option. We are in space and that means we could loose our atmosphere at a moments notice. Not to mention we are exposed to anything that comes flying our way. The old buildings are not airtight, but the geofront nearly is. We want to seal the inside but that's not enough. We want you to plan a single, giant housing complex, an Arkology, completely airtight and modular in concept so that we can add new space if needed. This will be the centre of human society! People should be able to live their lives completely inside the structure. Hopefully we wont need it for too long, but chances are we will be stuck here for a while. Questions?"

There were a lot of them. From professional questions about construction material - a problem but they would first cannibalize the broken buildings and raid Gee at some point - they spiralled down to more accusatory questions like who put NERV in charge. Misato had expected the last question and came prepared.

"This is not why we here. But very well, I can see we wont get anywhere if I don't answer. Look around. We are standing amidst the ruins of our civilization! Earth is gone! And you know why? Because some old farts wanted to play gods! NERV was the only organization that stood up for humanity. We wanted to build a future after Second Impact. Sadly that would never have happened. We had lost to the Angels the moment those idiots had triggered Second Impact. That's right: Second Impact was planned. Shocking I know. Still we fought but in case things did not go well our founding mothers had an escape plan. You are seeing it now. This is it. And look how far they have brought us! We are in a foreign star system, twenty light years from Earth!

"But they could not do everything for us, so we now have to pick up the pieces and start over. We have an opportunity and I for one intent to seize it. But be honest. Democracy is a wonderful thing, but imagine how long it would take to actually get things done! It will take the better part of two months to actually wake up all those who still sleep! By then we could have already started building. By then we need to start building because in a year we will run out of food!

"NERV is the best and sadly only choice we all have. But you know we get things done. You were there when the Angels attacked Tokyo 3. Surely you can remember that we always give our best. And we wont make the choices all by ourselves. I ask you to plan the Arkology. Other than that you are free to make suggestions and work out the details. I have faith in you. You can do it! Have faith in us that we only have your best interests in mind. Does that answer you questions?"

Apparently Misatos small speech calmed the worst of the storm and the engineers turned back to the professional aspects of their task. The two NERV officers stepped back while the engineers battled over big and small things.

After two hours a consensus was formed over the basic shape and size of project. The Arkology would take the shape of a pyramid, to more evenly distribute the weight. It would be massive, the base lines at least four kilometres in length, the whole structure at least a kilometre in height. After a while Misato decided it was time to drop the next bomb.

"Thank you all for your contribution to this project. But for now we must put the Arkology aside. I am sure there will be plenty of time in future meetings to address every aspect of the undertaking.

"Housing is not our only concern. In fact it is one of the least. The biggest issues are food and water. We currently have some fifty square kilometres surface area but most of it is not suitable to farming. We might be able to cultivate some food down here but I would rather leave that as a backup plan. We might need the space later on. I think our best course of action is to use the skyscrapers and convert them into algae plantations. Maya show them the slides.

"As you can see this is a concept from before Second Impact. They never went through with it though, as there was no need. The idea is to strip the buildings down to their bones and outfit them with several glass compartments filled with water and algae. Thoughts?"

Again the assembly spiralled down into technobabble. Questions about feasibility where asked but most agreed that it was doable. They even put forth an idea of their own: retractable panels like satellites use for electricity, only for food could fan out around the Black Moon. They argued that if they moved away from stars most of the time, that design would provide the plants with light even when moving.
Maya quickly shot that idea down, as the Black Moon would not stay long in range of any star. It boggled the mind of most but at at steady acceleration of one g they could cross star systems in days instead of years.

It put things in perspective. The voyage from Earth had taken them over forty years at a top speed just short of half the speed of light. And Gliese was on of the nearest stars, just twenty light years from Earth. Between the stars was where the vastness of space truly began.

In the end they decided to split into four task groups. The two largest would focus on the Arkology and the 'green towers'. The two smaller groups would be in charge of infrastructure and material procurement. Misato was relieved that the engineers where so focused. She had expected a lot more argument but she guessed they were like scientists. Give them a complicated problem to mull over and all other worries were at least temporarily forgotten.

Soon after that fateful meeting something returned to Tokyo 3. No one saw the capsule land behind a mountain and Emi's sensors were curiously oblivious to the intrusion. A single man exited the small compartment that held a tank of red liquid, a few rations and a lot of monitoring equipment.

He put away his trademark glasses and together with his first genuine smile in what seemed many years he appeared to be a completely different man. Briskly he set to hide his arrival. Through hidden passages he moved down into the geofront and disappeared into the crowd.

The show belonged to others. For now.

"Doctor Akagi, may I have a moment of your time?"

Ritsuko looked up to the small holographic projector that currently displayed Emi's blue representation. She had installed that device after she realized just how disconcerting talking to a disembodied voice was. It made her feel like she should see a shrink.

"Yes, what is it Emi," asked the scientist. She was deeply enveloped in her work. Misato's plan required her to develop highly efficient crops and algae. It came as a small surprise that Director Fuyutsuki had a vast knowledge in this field, as he had worked on a similar project in his post-doc years. She had been tempted to decline, but Emi never interrupted her if it wasn't important.

"I wanted to inform you that a probe I have sent out during our flight has returned. It has touched down outside Tokyo 3," the AI informed her.

"And what was the purpose of this probe?"

"Doctor, as you know it took us forty 40.467 years to reach Gliese 581. Doctor Soryu felt it necessary to limit our speed to half the speed of light, although we could have attained higher speeds. However at that time, it was not known how high relativistic speeds would influence human physiology and if the AT-field that protects the Black Moon can shield it from the high energy impacts. Travelling at half the speed of light was a compromise and a gamble. Forty years is a long time for machinery without maintenance. Another ten years and the first hibernation pods would have failed. Another twenty and only the Evangelions and their pilots would have been left."

Ritsuko knew that to be true. Most of her staff was currently focused on repairing systems that might become critical in the near future. The computer system was barely functional, only one in about ten machines was still working. Only redundant planing that would have been over the top in any other situation allowed Emi to still function. Spare parts had been found in some hidden storage rooms that could be used to restore the system, but the data was another problem. Backups had been made, but it was tedious work to restore everything from magnetic tape.

The MAGI were slightly better off and yet the worst. The damage degradation over the years had done was repairable but it would take time and effort. Unlike in a classic computer, the important parts in a biological one could not simply be exchanged for new ones. For now they were working, but barely.

"The probe was sent out to explore the effects of high speed flights," Emi continued. "It is equipped with a range of sensors and a custom made hibernation pot to hold a test animal. Most of the data has to be retrieved by hand, but the signals I receive indicate a successful mission."

"Hrm. I can't go right now," Ritsuko replied after half a minute of consideration. "I'm in the middle of something and would rather not interrupt it. Could you please pass on a message to Lieutenant Hyuga that he is in charge of the retrieval? Make sure he takes a veterinarian with him to check on the animal and that I get a preliminary report as soon as they bring the probe in. They can deposit it in Bay 5 for the moment. Is that all for now?"

"Yes, Doctor Akagi. Logging you out."

Two months had passed since they had established orbit. Most people had been woken by now. Work crews still scourged the surface but most debris had been cleaned and put to use somewhere else. There was the occasional argument and not everyone was happy with how things were handled, but for the most part the people seemed content to focus on their work. They had a lot to forget.

The area around Nerv headquarters was bustling with activity. It was decided that the Arkology should surround the smaller pyramid, making the later the heart of the new city. Already the foundations had been laid and the crews in the workshops topside were working furiously to supply the necessary materials. At the current rate, the project would be completed in another three months. The green towers were already standing for the most part, the old skyscrapers picked clean of anything valuable and fitted with watertight glass chambers. Already every suitable space had been converted into farm land and the nearby lake now hosts a fish farm. The first harvests were due in a month. However, raw materials were running low. Soon they would need to land on Gee in order to restock. Most importantly they would need fresh water for the green towers.

Shinji was frustrated. In search for something to do, he had taken to cultivating watermelons like Kaji had done. Misato had indulged and helped him by securing a small field for his sole use. The reason for his frustration were several withered plants. Around his small garden, rice and wheat thrived, yet his melons would not grow. He had taken great care to educate himself on the needs of the plant and had been diligent in following every instruction but to no avail.
And I was looking forward to present Misato some watermelons. Why are those stupid plants not growing!

He took his farming tools back to the small shack he had build with Toji's help. His friend was his old, solid self, not the crippled, miserable figure he had been after his own brush with Angels and Evangelions. Most of the time he was working on the construction sites. With school on hold for the time being, Shinji did not see his friends often but occasionally they would spend some time together. It was not exactly like old times, but for the moment it was enough that they were here.

Shinji made his way home. Unlike most people, he and Misato lived inside Nerv HQ. There were some rooms that had mostly been used by scientist that needed to stay near their experiments but still needed to bunk down somewhere. They were nice enough but they shared the kitchen and a small common room with almost ten other people. Shinji felt crowded but Misato did not seem to mind, although she wore slightly less revealing casual clothes. Emphasis on slightly - Makoto was still prone to getting a nosebleed when they met in the common room or the kitchen, something that amused Misato to no end.

Since it was still early in what passed for a day, the space was almost deserted. Only on other living being was sitting in the common room, nursing a drink.

"Whark! Whark!"

"Hello Pen-Pen. I'll get you some food in a minute. Just let me shower first."

They had found the penguin in the pod that gave of anomalous readings. Misato still laughed her ass off, every time she recalled Ritsukos dumbfolded expression, as the animal nonchalantly strut out of the tube. Only giving a indigent Wark towards Misato. Emi was the first to recover, commenting how unexpected it was and continued to theorize that the penguin must have some sense of self to land up in one of the hibernation pods.
Some sense of self indeed.

After his shower Shinji made to prepare food for the people that would show up soon. It had become a ritual of sorts and made him feel needed, cooking for others, and he made a point in taking great care in it. He once got complemented that despite the awful ingredients he was able to create something tasty every time. He had flushed with embarrassment but it had felt nice.

Today Ritsuko arrived first, as she had pulled an all nighter and was intent to correct her routine by going to bed early.
Maybe I should just ask her?

Undecided Shinji observed the scientist as she poured herself a glass of water.

"Something on your mind, Shinji?"

"No. I mean yes. Ah. could I ask you something Ritsuko-sensei? See, I have been trying to raise watermelons. I have followed every instruction but they wont grow right," stammered the boy.

"Hmm. I don't know. Plants aren't my speciality, I'm struggling with them as it is, and sadly I haven't got the time to research your particular problem. I am sorry. But you know what? Director Fuyutsuki knows a lot about this stuff. Maybe you should ask him."

"I. I. I don't think Director Fuyutsuki will want to help me. It's just a silly thing anyway. It's no bother really."

The idea of speaking to Gendo's right hand man filled Shinji with dread. Not because of the man himself, but because of his connection to his father.
Guess I have to give up on the watermelons.

"Nonsense Shinji. In fact, I'm sure the Professor will be delighted to help you out. Did you know your mother was his favourite student? Promise me, you will ask him. The worst thing that could happen is for him to say no, right?"

Director Fuyutsuki knew my mother? Why hasn't anyone told me?
"I guess you are right, Ritsuko-sensei. I will talk to him tomorrow."

"Of course I'm right! Now, what's for dinner?" the blonde scientist peered expectantly into the pot. The content was barely more then slush but it actually smelled quite nice.

Kozo was indeed happy to listen to Shinjis little problem.

He endured the stammering boy with a kind expression on his face, something Shinji had not expected and actually made his stammering worse. After the youth had explained his problem, the old man sighed and started an impromptu lecture about the deeper mysteries of biology. Shinji listened attentively.

"... So you see, the redder light of Gliese is the cause that your watermelons are not growing properly. The wheat and rice we use are a special kind that was cultured specifically for high latitudes, but your watermelons are not. Sadly, breeding a more adapted variety is not possible and might be useless in the next system. You could try genetic engineering but that's even more complicated. The benefit would be, that you could crate any variation you could possibly need with not much extra effort. However, you would need to study a lot before you can even get started with the actual work. "

But if you are seriously interested I could tutor you in the basics. Not right now of course, the next couple of months will be quite intense. I can give you some reading material for now, but any serious studies will have to wait. That reminds me, I have to talk with Mayor Katsuragi about education. Never mind. You don't have to make up your mind any time soon, but you might want to give those books I mentioned a look. What do you say?"

Shinji, who had until now kept his eyes on the old man was averting them once more. Hearing and seeing the professor talk about his subject had been fascinating. The usually stoic man came alive with enthusiasm when talking about biology. The spell was now over but some of it still lingered and gave Shinji a little bit more confidence he would normally have.

"I... I think I would like to read more about the subject. Do you really think this genetic engineering could make the watermelons grow?"

"I am certain. Doctor Akagi could solve the problem in a month, maybe two. But right now she has other things to do," with that Kozo stood from his desk and walked to a bookcase in the back of his office. For a moment he seemed to ponder which books to take but then continued to speak.

"You know, your mother would be quite proud of your interest in biology. Ever since you were little she knew you would become something special."

"R.. Really? Did you knew her?" stammered Shinji while Fuyutuski piled some books on the table.

"Yes, I knew her. I was her mentor in her early years at the university. We remained good friends after she married your father. And of course she would be proud. You saved the world a dozen times over! And now you are showing an interest in her field."

"Mother..." muttered Shinji with a far away look on his face, to quite for the other man to hear.

"Here you go," Kozo put down the last of the books with a loud thud, startling the boy. They formed quite a pile. "Now, I don't expect you to understand everything right away. Start with this book and then that one. They should be easy enough to comprehend for someone at your level. The other ones are more detailed. Read the first couple of chapters and write down any questions you have. Don't bother about the details, those will make sense in time. When you are finished or when you run into problems come back and we will discuss your questions. Now off you go."

"Hai! Thank you, Fuyutsuki-sensei!" Shinji scooped up his reading material and left the room, trying to maintain the precarious balance of the book pile.

After he was gone, Kozo stood and closed the door behind the boy, softly chuckling to himself.

Misato and Kozo stood together in one of the hibernation rooms. This was one of several which still held sleeping bodies in it. There had been a long debate whether to wake them or not but they were running out of time. Today they would decide.

"I still don't like it," Misato was the first to speak, breaking the silence. "They attacked us. I can't just forget about that. They tried to kill Shinji!"

"I don't like it either, but we need them. Besides they just followed orders. Orders, no doubt given by Seele. They were the true enemy. These soldiers were just pawns," answered her superior with a dismissive flick of his hand. "But I agree, we should be careful. Has Doctor Akagi been able to override the door mechanism?"

"Yes. Emi will open the door only to us. She wont be compelled by any commands given by them. We will start with the officers but keep them inside the glass tube for the interrogation. If we don't like what we hear, we can always put them back to sleep."

The pair lapsed back into silence once more.

"Very well. I think it is time. Emi, please wake up General Saito," the final decision was Kozo Fuyutsuki's. Had Misato argued more vehemently he might have listened to her, but at it was they both knew, sooner or later they would need the two thousand soldiers. They could not count on the galaxy being friendly. Waking them sooner might be perceived as a peace offering, waking them later would bring the advantage of dropping them into an established society, making it more difficult for them to create a stir.

The two masters of Nerv watched as the tube was drained of LCL.

"You know, we should consider renaming the organization. Nerv has done its job and we have to look towards the future. At some time we might want to open up, let people join if they want to," mused Misato.

"You are probably right, Mayor. We will discuss it as soon as your Arkology is finished."

The man inside the tube was on his knees, vomiting up the red fluid. Misato observed him closely. He seemed to be vulnerable, but the soldier in her was not fooled. The General took the opportunity to appraise his surroundings.
Smart move. But it wont do you any good. You are captured in a glass cell and you are naked. But we will wait.

Finally the retching stopped. Apparently finished with his covert scrutiny the leader of the JSSDF strike force stood at attention, displaying no shame at his state of undress.

"Welcome General Saito. Let me introduce us. I'm the Director of Nerv, Kozo Fuyutsuki and this is my second in command, Mayor Misato Katsuragi. But I expect you know us, or of us." Kozo tried the jovial approach. Misato did not think it would work and was unsurprised at the reaction.

"My name is Motomu Saito, General in the JSSDF, service number 56378. I will not answer your questions." Misato let out an exasperated sigh.
Great. The General thinks he is a prisoner of war. This is going to be fun. Not. Guess there is only one way out of this.

"Director, may I? I don't think this is going to work just with words. Let's show him."

Kozo considered the suggestion carefully. After two minutes the Director seemed to had made his decision.

"Emi, please inform Mister Hatsumoto that we require a security detail to escort General Saito to the surface. Unlock the door as soon as they have arrived. Mayor, would you find some clothes for the General and open the tube. Thank you."

While Misato went in search for some clothes the two old men enjoyed a good old staring match. Kozo had a soft smirk on his face, while his opponent's face was carefully devoid of any emotion. That was about to change.

Misato was sitting in front of Kozo's desk. Dealing with the JSSDF had been surprisingly simple as soon as their officers had grasped the new situation. Over the next week the soldiers would be woken and distributed across the work force. The intent was for them to be partially assimilated. They would need them as soldiers soon enough, but they had to become a part of the whole effort first.

"That went rather well. Better than I expected in fact." This time it was Kozo that broke the silence first. "You think there will be trouble?"

"Oh, there will be trouble, but nothing that we can't handle. Some arguments here, a brawl there, but I don't expect a coup any time soon. We made it pretty clear that without the Evangelions we are stuck here. General Saito doesn't appear to be a fool and from what I remember he has his troops firmly under control. We might want to include him into some decisions as soon as possible, but for now we are good. Still, we will watch the soldiers closely. Emi will be a great help there.

"I'm more worried about our landing on Gee. We still don't know much about the surface. Emi was able to send a few drones but there seems to be a lot of interference. We were lucky enough to get some data from the probes, but only a few short scraps of video. There are plants of some sort and we think we have seen something that could have been an animal but the static was bad. The surface seems nice enough but I don't like going in blind. And the storms make me nervous. We will need at least a month to gather all the things we will need. That means we will either need to leave the planet to avoid the storm or just weather it."

"Speaking of that. Have you talked to Shinji? We will need him in the Evangelion to make it through the atmosphere. Make sure he is ready for it."

"I'm not concerned about Shinji. He will do it, he actually looks forward to it. Believe it or not. I have a feeling he actually misses it. Not the fighting of course but the Evangelion itself. Strange, don't you think? Anyway waking Asuka might become problematic. She wont like to have been woken last. But I'll handle her. It's just teenage melodrama, she will come round."

Kozo did not respond immediately. He was a thinker and spoke rarely without knowing what to say unlike a certain Mayor. Before that woman could start to fidget as she usually did when the silence stretched to long he addressed her again.

"I see you have everything under control. One last thing. When the Arkology is finished I will retire as Director of Nerv. You will be in charge after me, while I will organize the education in our brave new world. Dismissed"

The mother was young for one of her kind. Young and inexperienced and not well thought of. That was why they had sent her to this boring planet without much potential. To add insult to injury the stupid rock was near an active war zone. Sooner or later one of the more potent combatants would come and either assimilate or destroy her.

Still she knew her place and did what her nature demanded of her. The planet had been home to a strange people, barely out of their Iron Age. They had been ridiculously easy to subjugate and now their twisted descendants, no more then mindless drones that did her bidding, were hers to use as she saw fit. Now she was experimenting, for she was expecting her sisters or cousins to visit soon. She really had no chance but she would try her best to withstand them. If only they would leave her alone for another millennium or two, then she might be ready. But she had heard the song of her loathed family. Soon they would clash and then whoever was left would come for her.

What was this? One of her drones had witnessed something unusual. Something had fallen out of the sky. Was it one of her cousin's heralds? Had he decided to divert his route and come for her first? She strained to hear the tell tale whisperings would announce one as him, but there were none. But there - unexpected and faint but undeniable was a different song.

Faintly, she heard the song of one of her sisters near her rock. But how could that be? If one of her sisters was anywhere in this system she would have heard her! A lesser part might escape her notice, but unlike her cousins, she and her sisters could never part with even the least of their drones. Yet here was a lesser part, singing the tune of the mothers, far away from its own mother. Curious the mother decided to watch.

For now.