Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fiction ❯ Evangelion: Inochi no Ki ❯ The Angels ( Chapter 4 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Chapter Four: The Angels

Rei took a few steps backwards, away from the strange man, but she soon found her back against the wall. The man wasn’t moving yet, just smiling strangely, looking at her. She looked around desperately, but she knew that there wasn’t anywhere to run. Her assailant ran so much faster than she did.

“So…” he whispered. “That boy… a Guardian?”

Rei didn’t quite understand what he meant, so she said nothing. Instead she glared back at him defiantly, hoping she looked at least somewhat formidable.

“Oh,” the attacker whispered. “You don’t know, do you? I wonder… did they keep you out of the loop to try to protect you, or because they didn’t think you were worth informing.”

“I…” I what? She wanted to say something, anything, but… Whatever was going on, she knew nothing of it. She felt in over her head. Then again, she reminded herself, you’re about to be killed… Or worse.

The man shrugged his shoulders coldly. “Well, if you don’t know, and they don’t want to tell you… I guess it’s not my business either.” He began his approach, each step slow and deliberate. And each one felt so loud in the silence.

Rei shut her eyes; she didn’t want to see this. She stood there, trembling a few moments, wondering what would happen next. And then she heard a very loud noise, and she opened her eyes again in shock.

Someone else had arrived, wielding Shinji’s gun and firing. His mother. Rei shook her head in confusion.

“What is going on?” she whispered uncertainly. “I don’t…”

Shinji’s mother held up the gun and pressed down on the trigger. It didn’t fire, but this didn’t seem to deter her. She kept her finger on the trigger, holding it down. Neither Rei nor the man knew why, in fact, the man stared in uncertain disbelief.

This worked in her favor. She let loose of the trigger, and an energy beam fired out of the gun. The man fell backwards, slowly, like he wasn’t even real, and when he finally did hit the ground, Rei wasn’t sure if he’d stopped at it or sunk slightly inwards. She didn’t pay much attention to that detail, however, as her eyes soon found themselves transfixed on what remained of his face.

It had… melted away? Rei shook her head, that didn’t make sense. Laser beams didn’t remove all trace of a mouth, leaving only bare skin in its place. She flinched away.

When she mustered up the courage to look again, the body had disappeared.

“Did… did he…?” she began.

“His body disappeared,” Shinji’s mother said calmly. “It’s a consequence of its nature,” she added after a moment of Rei staring at her blankly. “He… he wasn’t human…” Shinji’s mother looked her over a moment and then asked, “Which Ayanami are you?”

“Ayanami Rei,” she answered. “Why?”

Shinji’s mother said nothing in response. “I suppose you’ll want to accompany me?” she asked. “You must have questions.”

Rei thought for a moment. Everything felt overwhelming, almost stressful. She hadn’t ever felt this way in her life before, even when Kei had been frantic because of schoolwork. Rei had simply done it all, everything expected and required of her, nothing more.

Now she didn’t know what was expected.

So she said, “Yes.”

Shinji’s mother nodded, and turned away a few moments to call someone. “A friend who can give us a ride,” she explained when she returned her attention to Rei. “It would look suspicious if we carried Shinji all the way to the office.”

Rei nodded and the two women stood in silence until the car arrived. Rei thought for a moment that the driver, a woman with short brown hair and pink lipstick looked familiar, but cast that thought out of her mind. The woman also seemed quite friendly, offering Rei something to drink before zooming off down the strangely empty city streets.

“Is there a reason no one is in this part of town?” Rei asked quietly.

Yui turned from the front seat and smiled. “Some parts of Tokyo-3 never really filled in. The neighborhood next to ours happens to be one of them.” Rei wondered why that was for a moment, but abandoned that train of thought because of its futility and resigned herself to staring out the car window until the car stopped.

“This is the parking garage,” the woman explained. “We’ve got a whole building to ourselves, so we decided to make some room for cars on the ground floor.”

“We.” Rei realized for the first time that she didn’t really know who that was. The parents of the class of 2-A all did something for a living, she knew that, but… What exactly did they do? What was the company name? These things never got said. Or if they were, no one had said them around her.

But she didn’t ask any questions while they carted Shinji up to a hospital room, instead waiting until she and Shinji’s mother retired to a small office. Shinji’s mother poured some tea, and then adjusted herself in her seat until she was comfortable.

“So, Rei,” she said, “I guess you want your questions answered now. Let’s hear them.”

“What was that man?” she asked. She felt quite confident that this one question would lead to many answers.

Shinji’s mother sighed. “Something called an Angel,” she explained. “It’s complicated to explain, I guess… I guess the best way to describe it is that they’re beings from another dimension. There were twenty-five of them total, but now there’s only fifteen… No, fourteen now, with that latest death.”

“But why did he attack us?”

“They want humanity dead… They want to destroy everything. They once guarded the world tree, but they abandoned it out of nihilism nearly fifteen years ago. We had a task force to fight them then, but… things went wrong. We couldn’t kill them all. And, unfortunately, there’s a time limit.”

Rei didn’t ask a question, hoping that Shinji’s mother would just elaborate. She seemed uncertain about continuing, but finally bowed her head, sighing, and continued.

“This spring, March 20th, is the Spring Equinox, fifteen and a half years since the day the Angels rebelled. On that day, the world tree won’t be able to hold itself up any longer, and will collapse. The Angels, once the beings that held the world together, will become the force that destroys it.”

“Wouldn’t we need replacement Angels to protect the tree?” Rei asked suddenly.

Shinji’s mother choked on her tea. “No,” she said calmly. “No, we won’t.”

Rei wasn’t entirely sure how those facts were supposed to add up, but supposed that Shinji’s mother was the expert. She had just one other question.

“Should I help?”

The answer surprised her.

The next day, Rei and Shinji arrived in school at the same time, much to the amused comments of Toji and Kensuke.

“Didja already get married?” Toji quipped. Shinji blushed fiercely, Rei didn’t see why. She went to her desk, thinking hard about the last night. She wasn’t surprised in the least when Kei was called out of class by the school nurse, Dr. Akagi.

She was surprised however, to realize where she knew the other woman’s face from. She looked like Dr. Akagi, but older. Her mother, perhaps? Rei began to wonder just how many adults in this school had something to do with the efforts to kill the Angels.

Kei, of course, was quite surprised that she was called to the nurse’s office. “I had my school-required shots,” she said nervously.

Dr. Akagi waved that issue aside without much fanfare. “That’s not why I’ve called you here,” she said. “I’m here to offer you a job.”

Kei frowned. “I don’t really know…”

“It’s not even really a job,” she noted. “More like beta testing a game.”

“Oh!” Kei loved games. “That’s different!”

Ritsuko smiled. This recruit would be easy.