25.a--Armies of Darkness and Light
Since she made her surprise announcement, Shinji had remained twisted around staring at Rei. All that the watchers in NERV could see was the back of his head. He reached back toward Rei; she took his hand in hers.
"Magi. Genetic analysis of inhabitants of entry plug."
In less time than it would have taken for Ritsuko to key in the command, Rei's voice called up three genomes--cellular genetic maps of the occupants of the plug.
"Highlight gender of the zygote."
One of the genomes promptly blew up to almost fill the screen, while a small segment of the genetic chain was suddenly highlighted in orange. The analysis: XX chromasomes. She would give birth to a girl.
All that the people in the control room could see of Shinji was the back of his head, but from the way his shoulders started shaking they could tell: he was laughing. His grip tightened on Rei's hand.
For her part, Rei's face had softened from its grim determination. It was now a face at peace, a face in love. She was smiling. "Magi. Cross-reference genetic analysis, including search for genetic material from--" Rei's voice caught momentarily. "--from the being called Adam."
The genome turned into a rainbow of cross-references, about a third of which pointed to Shinji. Another third were from Rei herself. The remaining third were mostly flagged "DONOR UNKNOWN". It took several more seconds for the findings to come up: "GENETIC MATERIAL FROM ADAM: NONE"
Rei leaned forward in her seat, hugging Shinji as best she could. "Arigatai," she whispered. "Thank God."
For Gendou this was a nightmare getting worse by the minute. "Damn it, Shinji! Say something!!"
Shinji slowly turned back to face the camera. Maybe it was the events of the last few minutes, but it seemed to Misato that Shinji's face had never looked so mature. "Father, all my life I've had one reaction to threats, to bad news, to anything that made me uncomfortable. I tried to run away. But I heard Rei just now, and running away is the farthest thing from my mind. I want to stay to see our daughter, to watch her grow up, to help her--" Now it was Shinji's voice that caught; when he found it again, he could not keep out a touch of bitterness: "I want to be the father to her that you never were to me. Don't you understand? THIS is the miracle. THIS is the great achievement; not some made-up monsters from a laboratory. You must remember how you felt when I was born; you must understand how I feel now. Father, I beg you; give up the project. Give our child one grandparent."
Gendou looked like he was using every ounce of self-control to keep from exploding. "Decades of work, all over the world, manpower, money, research--and I'm supposed to just walk away from it all and bow down to a couple of horny children?! Get out of that Eva NOW!"
Shinji bowed his head for a moment, then straightened up. "We'll wait for you on the surface," he said simply, and reached for a switch.
The video monitor went dead.
At once emergency lights and signals began activating all over the geo-front. They didn't need to be told why. Eva 01 had torn itself free of all the restraints NERV had put upon it and was lumbering toward the launch pad.
"Katsuragi! Cut all power to the launch pads!"
Misato didn't move. Gendou turned, and could see that she had been crying. "Katsuragi!"
Misato looked up at him. "Do it yourself," she said quietly; "I resign my commission."
Cursing under his breath, Gendou cut the power. The Eva had expected this; it jumped vertically up the shaft, grabbed hold of the running-track at the top of its jump, and began climbing hand over hand.
"Akagi! Are the hatches closed?"
She glanced at the screen, just as a wrenching crunching sound of metal on metal echoed down the shaft. "Well, they were."
"How much time left in their storage battery?"
"We don't know. We never calculated the addition of the S-2 engine, and they've cut our monitors to the entry plug."
"Two can play that game. Prepare unit 02."
As soon as they got to the surface Eva 01 jacked into a power umbilical. This automatically recharged the internal batteries to 5 minutes of power, but limited the Eva's range.
"I couldn't do it. I couldn't hate him, even after everything he's done. I still don't believe I gave him one more chance."
"Shinji, when I set off the mine, the last thing I remembered was your father. I think it was because it was also the first thing I ever knew. My first memory after being born was seeing him. He was smiling. I didn't want to think about that, but I couldn't help it. Maybe everybody's like that."
"Rei, are you worried? I mean, if you die this time, my father won't want to bring you back."
"I'm worried about our child. I want her to be born, to live in a world different from this one. If that doesn't happen, it's alright. Because once, I gave my life for yours. You're the most special person I've ever known."
"I--I don't think--"
"Yes, you are, Shinji. You're kind and thoughtful and brave. And you're the best lover I've ever known."
"But--I thought I was the only--"
"You are." Rei thought for a second. "I just made a joke, didn't I?"
Before Shinji could answer, Eva 02 burst out of the ground 200 yards away and immediately ran straight toward them.
As much as Rei already knew, there were things the Magi never saw, such as Gendou Ikari's police record, when he lived under the name he was born with: Gendou Rokubungi. That record would have shown Rei that Gendou was a streetfighter. And the streetfighter was in charge of Eva 02 now.
When they were only a city block apart, Eva 02 stopped its charge, quickly sidestepped, putting a large office building between it and Eva 01. Then, breaking the building away from its foundations, it sandwiched 01 between it and another office building. 02 then landed a series of jabs and kicks in the area of 01's entry plug before 01 was able to break away.
Rei tried to access the Magi, but Ritsuko had instituted a safety measure. She was running a scrambler program, which didn't disturb the files within Magi, but which destroyed and reconfigured, destroyed and reconfigured the Magi's directory trees a dozen different ways per second. Nothing stood still long enough for Rei to find it.
Confident that the Magi had been secured, Gendou ordered the next precaution.
01 had just jumped out of 02's reach when there was a sharp jolt. The lights in the plug changed; the batteries kicked in. Five minutes of power remaining.
NERV had cut the power to their umbilical.
"Now," Gendou muttered, "starve, damn you."
01 looked for another umbilical; 02 stood between it and the nearest one. Shinji ran straight toward 02, the Eva's arms outstratched as if it meant to choke the 02. At the last second the 01 feinted left, running for a different umbilical. He plugged in, but there was no power.
"Don't even try the others," Rei said. "They want the power to run out."
01 couldn't have gone for another umbilical anyway; 02 was pressing its attack. It feinted, came up behind 01 and swept the legs out from under it. More buildings were levelled as 01 hit the ground, then scrambled back onto its feet.
As it rose, 02 took one of the lengths of dead umbilical and flicked it as if it were a whip. The end lashed around one of 01's legs; 02 again pulled it off balance. Again, it had to scramble to a standing position.
02 tried another running charge, down the middle of an expressway. 01 gauged the approach, then threw a large mass of concrete from a skyscraper onto the expressway, creating a sinkhole a fraction of a second before 02 was to put its foot into it.
This time it was 02 who lost its balance. However, just as 01 was closing in, 02 grabbed 01's head, slammed it into the highway, then started rapidly and repeatedly punching it.
01 braced itself and broke free from 02 with a two-legged kick that sent the 01 almost into Tokyo Bay. Time was short. 01 ran straight at 02.
But the 02 generated an AT field; 01 hit it at a full run, and bounced several blocks away.
Ninety seconds. No weapons, low power, an adversary as invincible as the 01.
"Are you in the Magi?"
"They're still blocking me."
"You keep trying that, and I'll keep trying this."
01 roared and again charged 02. This time he was determined to tear off one of 02's legs, if he had to. There didn't seem to be any other way to slow the 02 down.
01 charged high, then at the last second aimed low. Unfortunately, also at the last second, 02 jumped straight up and out of 01's reach. Instead it tried to come down on 01's legs. 01 kicked away just in time.
"Stop this!" Misato burst out, unable to hold her tongue. "That's your son!"
"I can't think about that now."
To be continued...