"Why the hell do these things have such complicated names?" Tate Gunner asked, dropping the packet and glaring at his guest. The guest said nothing, inscrutable as always. Tate had just finished reading the account of the Pacific Fleet's encounter with Gaghiel, and the performance of the Second and Third Children in subduing the creature. "Gaghiel? Gag...I don't understand this. Explain the convention here, Kafkutz."
Mitchell Kafkutz shrugged. "They did pretty well for themselves, considering they were out in the middle of the ocean." He didn't address Tate's comments or question, and Tate suspected the man thought it beneath him. "In fact, we should count our lucky stars. It was advantageous the attack happened," he continued, which in itself was true. Tate leaned back, and closed his eyes in thought. It had opened a valuable opportunity for them to get a leg up on things in the world, especially in regards to Seele and Nerv. Despite being the National Security Adviser, Tate should not have known anything about Seele at all, much less its intentions or plans. They had kept their presence a secret, and done so with enviable talent. And yet, Tate did know. He knew a great deal of things he was not supposed to, now. A lot of people high up the federal government knew, and they were working hard to play catch-up.
It had been a busy month.
"So, Mitch…you've heard."
"The Prime Minister of Japan made a request for Grendel, and its Pilot, in light of the increased Angel attention to Tokyo-3," Mitchell Kafkutz said in a matter of fact tone. The Adviser knew better than to try and hide things from him; he was, in fact, the source of a great deal of the knowledge that Tate possessed.
"Which allows us to finally insert our own asset into Nerv-1," Tate said. "Is the boy up to it?"
"The boy has been trained for something like this," Kafkutz replied. "He was part of the old Deveraux Initiative after the Second Impact." Tate grimaced, standing to pace. He was suddenly uncomfortable.
"Child soldiers. I don't know why we started that." Tate was a former Naval officer, and he had very specific ideas about how things were supposed to be. It was said that to have morals was a hindrance to a proper Security Adviser these days, but Tate had ignored that bit of advice.
"He's well trained, and intelligent. He's the proper age as the others, but he has shown a greater…maturity in making necessary decisions. We can trust him," Kafkutz insisted.
"Tell me about him."
"Samson Creed. That's the name we gave him, his birth name is irrelevant. He was raised at Fort Carson, top of Initiative in all marks. Hand to hand, tactical decision making, language retention skills. He will be a good asset."
"Unquestioned. He's been conditioned, tested, proved. Samson will do what is required of him."
Tate grimaced. "I hate to ask, but does he have a military rank?"
"NATO O-3 equivalency. We say he's in the Army, but that's just for simplicity's sake. I would advise keeping up that cover story, especially in regards to the Second Child."
Tate looked at him quizzically, and Kafkutz continued, "The Second Child is competitive. Self-esteem issues, superiority complex. She ranks her importance based upon her position to others. We have two options: craft an identity for the boy that makes him nonthreatening, or make one that puts him out of her league. If we go the first route, he might not have the influence we desire. It's better to take a risk with the second option.
"Then we have the Third Child, who is about as assertive as a rodent, and just as eager to prove himself, and the First Child, who is…difficult to read. No personality whatsoever. Bland and blank, there. By introducing a Pilot who is important and assertive…that will egg on all of those flaws. That could be advantageous to us."
"Why is that?" Tate asked, wanting to see the thread of Kafkutz's thinking.
"He'll introduce and aggravate neuroses in these children that will erode and hinder their abilities, thus their use to NERV. In turn, his importance will increase."
"Which means he will have more responsibility, more trust, and thus a better position to provide us with intelligence," Tate said, seeing the strategy and not liking it. He hated using children as tools. "That will be very obvious."
"Not as much as you think. Ideally, once they see the ploy, it'll be too late to act on it. He'll be positioned well enough that it would be more damaging to remove him than to leave him in place. And he will have help, remember that: because of the Vatican Treaty, Japan can only have three EVA units. Grendel will therefore be a completely American mission, allowing not only a loophole in the treaty, but giving us a good support network to watch the boy."
Tate rocked in his chair for a moment. "Japan...is still an ally..." he murmured.
"We don't want to spy on Japan. We want to spy on Nerv," Kafkutz pointed out. That was slicing things a bit fine, and it was a doubtful the Japanese would see it quite like that, but...still...
It was a risk…but a worthwhile one. The appearance of Angels did not end the Great Game, and now that Japan and Germany were the new power plays on the block, the United States had to act appropriately. Especially because that power was based on something so...unfathomable. Tate considered that, in light of the new balance of power.
To say the United States had suffered from the Second Impact wouldn't have been entirely inaccurate, but to say that it hadn't benefited wouldn't be true, either. It had already been an astronomically powerful country…annexing the whole of Canada had doubled the size of the republic, as well as returned it to a status of hyperpower that it had maintained prior to the Event. It had given them remarkable leeway when dealing with the more assertive UN, as well as the other Nerv Pact countries. It enjoyed a level of prominence matched only by Germany and Japan combined, and that was due to Seele, no doubt about it. They were a national threat, as well as…
Something in the way they operated made Tate uneasy. It was the kind of nervousness that encouraged him to make leeway where his scruples were concerned.
"All right," he sighed, "It'll be worth it to see if we can deduce the intentions of Seele and…if they should be counteracted upon. I'll advise the President to go ahead with it."
"Thank you, Tate."
Dr. Julian Sefka received the news from Kafkutz with the outward appearance of calm. Truly, though, it awoke a wave of unease in him. It shouldn't matter, because he would do as the Group required of him. But, still…
He was always afraid to see the boy. He walked down the hallways of the dormitory, pushing that fear into a box. He would see the boy, share the news, and leave. Leave and let others handle it. Others with less insight into the child, and less reason to fear him. He came upon the dormitory room, leading into the only occupied apartment on this entire floor. Aside from rooms at either end filled with guards and listening devices, no one was on this floor…no one but the boy. Sefka made a fist with a convulsive hand, then opened the door.
"Samson?" he asked, entering the room. The boy was not there, but the bathroom door was open, and the light was on. Sefka stepped into the bathroom. The boy lay in the tub, along with as many bags of ice he could cram in with him. "Hello, Samson," Sefka said quietly, "Are you too warm?" Samson gave him an unreadable look, and said nothing. His hair was black and cut in a military style. His eyes were gray, and seemed devoid of anything one could call human. Despite that, they seemed…curious. Inquisitive. It was the only flicker of emotion on the still face.
"The President has agreed to send Grendel to the Japanese," Sefka continued, still standing in the doorway. "That means you will go as well."
"To be expected," the boy replied. It was a young voice lacking inflection, but something beneath it made Sefka feel an undeniable fear. Whether it was a fear of the boy, or something deeper, an awe…he couldn't say. As far as he knew, he was the only one who felt it. Of course, he also knew more about Samson than most would. "When do I leave?"
"Two weeks," Sefka said. He stepped into the bathroom and sat on the toilet seat. "Samson," he added, in a casual tone, "Do you remember…our little talk?"
"About the Group," the boy said, sitting up in the tub. He was fourteen, but he was not built like a fourteen year old should be. He had muscle mass that was well defined, well cut…and greatly more substantial than a boy his age should have. On anyone else, it might appear attractive, but for Samson, it seemed…unsettling. Out of place. Threatening, even.
"Yes," Sefka said, feeling a bead of sweat on his forehead. "Yes, Samson, the Group. Do you remember what the Group wanted?"
Samson seemed to look through the doctor, going to someplace only he could perceive. "Adam?" he asked, his voice suddenly childlike.
"Yes, yes, Samson. Good boy, bright boy. You need to find Adam."
"That wasn't all," Samson added. His expression and tone never changed, but there was an ugly note under it. No…a sardonic one. A sadistic note, even. "There was…other concerns."
Sefka swallowed, and continued. "There are three children at Nerv-1, Samson. A boy and two girls. They are also Pilots. Samson…" Sefka slid off of the toilet, to the floor and on his knees. His hands trembled as he placed them on the edge of the tub, and a hint of pleading lay under his voice. "Samson…the boy must survive. Do you understand? No harm can come to the boy."
"Samson, focus now. The boy…must…survive."
Samson seemed to come back to himself. "The boy must survive." Sefka nodded vigorously. "And of the two girls? What is their importance?" The questions were casual.
"There is one with blue hair. She also must survive. Do you understand?"
"The boy and the blue haired girl…they must survive. And the third one?"
Sefka gritted his teeth, and said, hesitantly, "Just ensure…the boy and the blue haired girl…survive." Samson smiled slightly, and Sefka had to ball his hands into fists to keep them from shaking harder.
"Ah…in the two weeks…before you go…" he whispered, "We will…be educating you. Do you understand? There are…elements of your…personality. They need…minor adjustment. To avoid them from…asking questions."
"I understand, Dr. Sefka," Samson replied, his smile melting away, but somehow still there.
"I knew you would. You're a good boy, Samson. I'm very proud of you." He stood on shaky legs, if only to allow himself to leave with more dignity than crawling would allow. "If you are too warm, please tell me. We can arrange to cool you down."
"Thank you, Dr. Sefka. You are very kind to me," Samson said, sinking back into the tub among the ice bags. Sefka nodded, backing out of the bathroom. He closed the door, and fled the room, relieved beyond words.