The Blue Rose

Chapter 3: Arabesque

That evening on the GeoFront's operations level Evangelion Units 03 and 04 were each carefully moved by NERV's technicians into holding areas known as cages. Once placed inside, large gantries fell into position in order to hold each unit in place. After they were secured inside the cage the bottom portion was then flooded with LCL, the "medium" liquid that was used in so many of the EVA's important operations, while large umbilical cables were attached to the rear of the humanoid units.

The umbilical cables were the main source of power for the EVAs. They were also the physical data interface between the Evangelion units and the computers at NERV, most particularly the MAGI trinity of supercomputers that were at the center of NERV's operation. Once connected the two EVAs and the MAGI immediately began a furious exchange of information that measured in the hundreds of terabytes per second.

Each EVA unit sent data regarding its operational status and condition to the MAGI for analysis and calibration with the combat operations system of the GeoFront. The incoming data was then sifted several different ways to eliminate any viral or other threats and then combined together and analyzed by the MAGI as a committee. Afterwards the processed data was either scrubbed from the system or archived for future reference. The MAGI ran everything at NERV, from the major combat, research, and life support systems, to even the bathroom lights, and vending machines.

However, unknown to the MAGI's creators a small script was placed on one of the archive drives during the time of their construction several years before. That script had a simple instruction – search for a particular set of data, a data set that it had not come across in the five years since the MAGI were activated. But once the initial set of status reports from the two American-made units were archived in the MAGI's memory, the embedded script had finally found what it was looking for.

The initial process took place in less than a millisecond. The resident script executed an embedded cryptography program against the newly stored data and revealed a secret instruction, an instruction to find a very specific set of information deep within NERV. Once this information was obtained, a small portion would be copied, re-encrypted, wait for a specified "trigger" event and then transmitted out the same way the original instruction came. Then the original script would erase itself.

To avoid detection the "scout" program would divide itself and the data it obtained into millions of pieces and spread all throughout the MAGIs databanks, disguised as transient data. Each piece would move about the vast databanks of the MAGI, within the continual flow of information between the MAGI at Tokyo-3, the five Evangelions that they were currently connected to, and the other five MAGI "clones" operated by the NERV organization worldwide. Because it could take advantage of the massive flow of routine, mostly predictable data in the MAGI's code streams, it wouldn't have seemed unusual to the system for the relatively short amount of time it existed.

The scout program was also constructed to incorporate redundancy so that if any bits of data were erased, there were at least two identical bits somewhere in the dataflow. If the program could not find the required information at all within five days it would erase itself and the original script would remain, searching for a new incoming data stream to re-activate it.

Brilliantly conceived and elegantly deceptive, the scout program began its work.

The dream Patrick had that night was the same one he had been having on most nights for the last few months. In the dream he felt himself sitting in the entry plug of the EVA. Around him he could see the multicolor lighting of monitors and hear indistinct voices from inside the plug. As he rested in the throne, the control seat for the EVA's pilot, he looked down to the far end of the plug and saw a strange, white cloud forming. As he tried to get a better look at it, the cloud started to move closer to him. Voices called out to him as the cloud approached him and he watched as the cloud transformed into the figure of a woman. He looked at the ghostly figure and thought he could make out the image of the face. The apparition came right next to him and suddenly, he felt as cold as ice. The female shape took hold of his head with both hands and as he looked into its face, the image of the ghost's head turned into that of a skull.

He felt himself trying to break free but he could not. The skeleton leaned forward and then wailed loudly with a chilling wind coming from its mouth. He heard the voice of a young girl screaming, and then he heard his own.

Patrick sat up out of bed, panting heavily after waking up. Vance walked into the room. "Dude, are you alright?" he asked.

"I'm fine..." Patrick said faintly, as he rubbed his head.

"Another nightmare I see," said Vance. "They're getting more frequent now..."

"It's the same one, over and over again," said Patrick, now sitting on the bed with his feet on the floor.

Vance handed him a bottle of water. "Is this the one where she's in the entry plug?"


"Don't let it get to you," Vance said. "I'm sure you're just anxious about the training match."

Patrick took a good swig of water and wiped off his forehead of sweat. "I wish that were true..."


In their second day of school, the two Americans joined their fellow pilots in all of their regular classes. Some of the other students were curious about the two boys and asked them questions about life in America and why they were here. Once they mentioned they were EVA pilots, however, most of the other students suddenly went quiet, and then kept a respectful distance between themselves and the visitors.

On this particular day, Class 2-A had its once-a-week Home Economics class, which mostly worked out to be a cooking class for middle school students. The forty students of the class filed into a specially-prepared kitchen classroom and formed pairs as they gathered over miniature stoves set on counters and tables. Each station had materials already laid out by the preceding class, including half a dozen eggs, onions, soy sauce, ham bits, salt, sugar, doma (a soup base), and chili peppers. The teacher, a middle-aged woman who looked more bored than the students, told the class that today's lesson was to make omelets.

Hikari walked down the rows of cooking stations and handed out the recipe to each pair of students. Shinji and Asuka formed one pair, while Toji and Kensuke were another. Both of the Americans were then paired with the very busy Hikari, who was supervising the class while also cooking her own set.

"Wow, you're amazing!" Vance said as they both watched her rapidly pour ingredients and flip her omelet with grace and skill.

"Well, not really," she said as she blushed. "This is my fourth one today."

"Really? You do the cooking for your family?" Patrick asked her.

"Yep. Every day."

"What about your mom?" Patrick asked.

Her determined attitude suddenly changed. "Um...well, she's not there anymore."

Meaning she's dead, probably. Just like Shinji's. "Oh, I'm sorry!" said Patrick.

"It's okay. It was a long time ago. We've gotten used to it." No one said anything for a while, as Hikari finished a perfect omelet by delicately pouring on ketchup in a flower patter, and placing some garnish on the side.

As Hikari started to work on a second omelet, Patrick noticed that Rei was not paired up with anyone, but was instead sitting by herself in the corner on the floor, again reading a book. No one else in the room said anything to her. Patrick pointed to her and asked Hikari "How come she isn't doing anything?"

"Oh, Ayanami-chan? She just doesn't like participating. Too much trouble anyway."

"Too much trouble?"

Hikari quickly glanced at Rei while moving back to her stove. "She misses a lot of school because of what they do over there, I guess." She meant NERV, of course.

"She's busy?" Patrick asked.

"That, and she was hurt really badly a couple of months ago." Hikari finished her second omelet, and then all three of them turned their attention to a commotion at the center of the room.

"You idiot! You don't know what you're doing!" Asuka yelled at Shinji, as he tried to cook their assignment.

"Yes, I do!" he retorted. "I'm the one who cooks your breakfast every day!"

"Oh, that's why it sucks! Don't you know anything? There's not enough oil in that pan. Here..." Asuka grabbed the cooking oil and violently squirted it onto the skillet. Much of the oil missed the pan and promptly hit the flames on the range, causing the flames to suddenly roar out of control.

Shinji screamed as the flames reached over his head. Sensing what might happen, Hikari had already grabbed the fire extinguisher and now sprayed it over the stove. Rei looked upwards from her book at the commotion but still remained seated.

"Are you okay?" Hikari asked Shinji.

Shinji's face was black with smoke. "I'm fine, no thanks to her!" she said, pointing at Asuka.

"It's your own fault!" Asuka replied angrily with her hands at her hips. "You shouldn't have been so close!"

The teacher quickly moved from behind the desk and still with magazine in hand ran over to the scene of the fire, attempting to take charge. "Horaki-chan, please take Ikari-kun to the infirmary.""I can go myself!" Shinji scowled."No." the teacher told him, somewhat nervously. "It's school policy. You have to be escorted."

"Come on, let's go," Hikari told Shinji as they both left the room. Everyone including the Americans and the still-seated Rei silently watched them go out the doorway. Asuka just folded her arms and blew her hair upwards in exasperation. What an idiot!

The HomeEc teacher quickly directed Asuka to another table with another tabletop stove unit, and in her poor English asked Vance to join her while she quickly got cooking ingredients out of the refrigerator. She then addressed the still sitting Rei. "Ayanami-chan, please assist the other American." Rei, with a slight scowl on her face, put her book down and got up and walked to the table where Patrick was standing.

"Hi!" Patrick said cheerfully. Rei said nothing and just ignored him.

"So, what do we do now?" Vance asked Asuka. "How the hell would I know?" she replied.

"I thought you were the cooking expert?""Me? No, not my style. Here, do this!" Asuka forcefully handed over the instructions for the lesson. The one page sheet was entirely in Japanese.

"I can't even read this! Here!" Vance handed it back to Asuka. She took one look at the sheet and then quickly crumpled up the paper and threw it in the wastebasket. "We don't need this." She tossed over to Vance two eggs which he just barely caught. "Here, just beat these things and I'll do the rest!"

At his own station Patrick tried to read the instruction sheet they were given but could only make out some of the characters. Rei just stood there scanning the ingredients. "So anyway, do you know what we're doing?"

Rei didn't reply but took one of the eggs and carefully examined it. She then picked up the cutting knife and was about to attempt to cut open the egg with the knife when Patrick stopped her.

"Yikes! Here, let me get this." He quickly grabbed the egg out of her hand before she could cut it, then cracked it and then another one into a bowl and started scrambling. Once mixed together, he poured part of the eggs onto the pan as Rei silently watched the process.

"Um, have you ever cooked before?" Patrick asked her. She silently shook her head.

"Oh, well, I'll just do it then." Maybe that's what Hikari meant by 'too much trouble.'

"You're burning it," Vance said to Asuka, as she worked with the skillet."Shut up. I know what I'm doing!""No, right there, look at the edges. You have to flip it over."

She lied. "It's all right; I do this all the time!"

Vance saw through her and gave her a flashy salute. "Sure, your highness!""Don't give me that attitude," she answered sharply. "I'll whip your ass tomorrow!"

"Oh, really?" Vance teased.

Having enough of his antics, Asuka gave him a raspberry while at the same time pulling down her right eyelid with her finger. "I don't want to see your eyeball!" Vance griped. Patrick noticed what was happening from his station and quickly walked over to Vance and whispered in his ear. "Dude," he explained to him, "she just flipped you off!"

"What?"Patrick smirked. "That's how they do it here."

"Fine then! I can do that in German, too!" Vance quickly gave her a "European-style" bird, by holding his left hand against the pit of his right elbow and then pumping up with his right arm. Asuka promptly responded by flipping the half-cooked omelet straight from the pan onto his face.

"You bitch!" Vance said as he pulled the eggs off his face. Asuka just laughed as nearly the whole class was now watching them. He pointed his finger at her. "You're dead meat tomorrow!" but she just grinned widely and batted her eyelashes at him.

Patrick turned back to his own station after the latest disruption and found that Rei had now finished with the omelet. It didn't look burned on the surface but something seemed odd to him about it: It looked much lumpier than it should have been. "Oh, you're done?" He asked Rei and she nodded silently.

"Well, let's try it." Patrick picked up a fork and tried a bite. What he tasted next could only be described as beyond horror.

Trying very hard to be polite, with a smile he quickly gulped the monstrosity down as Rei curiously watched him. He then chased it down with several glasses of water.

"Um, what did you place inside?" he asked her in a sheepish voice.

"I used the provided ingredients."

He looked at the station and saw nothing left of the toppings. "They're gone!""Yes, I used all of them," she flatly replied."All of them? At once?"

"I did not use the pork."

"Where's that then?""Trash."

"What?! Why did you do that?!"Rei looked away from him. "I don't eat meat."

Dr. Ritsuko Akagi was in her lab office at NERV when Vice Commander Futsuyuki entered. Visibly distressed, he walked up to her desk.

"Dr. Akagi, if someone was not actually a pilot candidate how could they become capable of piloting an EVA?"

"By pilot candidate, you mean in the way that we've defined pilot candidates so far?" She looked directly at him as she spoke and he silently nodded, meaning that he knew the real, unspoken meaning of her question.

"In that case," she said, "you'd have to have some way to spoof the EVA."

"How could you do that?" Futsuyuki asked.

"Unknown," the scientist replied. "At least, other than the dummy plug we're working on. You can make adjustments to the EVA but on a scale that I'm unfamiliar with. Perhaps the pilot can be given certain therapies but I'm not sure what those would be."

"Can you look into this?" he asked her.

Ritsuko fumbled with her cigarette case. "I'll pose the question to the MAGI and see what they determine."

"Do it please, doctor." The Vice commander then left the room.

Ritsuko found her lighter and lighted up one cigarette. It was normally against NERV policy not to smoke anywhere in the GeoFront facility, but she had deactivated the smoke detectors in her lab for quite some time. Besides, smoking cleared her mind, and she needed a clear mind for this problem.

That afternoon, all of the male students in class 2-A stumbled out to the school's athletic field. All of them dressed out for P.E. in white t-shirts and shorts, with the exception of Toji, who never seemed to take off his track suit. Patrick and Vance joined them, also wearing the school's athletic wear. Outside that afternoon it was particularly hot and humid.

The P.E. instructor blew his whistle and all of the boys then formed not particularly neat rows. "All right, everyone!" the middle-aged man shouted. "Get down and give me twenty pushups!" The group of students all went prone and started on pushups, many of them doing so with some groaning. All of the boys start to count out the pushups as they did them slowly. "1...2...3..."

As they watched the local boys Patrick and Vance just smiled at each other and had the same thought. Time to show them up a bit. They both immediately hit the ground and started quickly pumping out pushups at their much faster pace. "1,2,3,4,5,6..."



The two boys aggressively pounded out pushups as the rest of the class struggled just to perform the instructed twenty sets. Suzahara took a glance at the two Americans and started rapidly doing pushups to try and catch up to the two Americans. After a couple of minutes, however, even the athletic Toji couldn't keep up with them. Meanwhile Vance and Patrick just kept pumping them out. "55...56...57...58..."

Some of the Japanese boys finished their set of twenty and some were still working on it, including Shinji, but at this point most of them just stopped and stared at the two Americans as they continued their demonstration. "...83...84...85...86..."

By the time they were finished, all of the Japanese boys were standing up and staring at the two machines on the ground. '97...98...99...100!" Once done, Vance and Patrick got up, cleaned off their hands, and give each other a complex series of high-fives.

"Ah! There's nothing like a refreshing set of pushups!" Vance exclaimed."True that!" seconded Patrick.

After seeing the display of American athletic prowess, the PE instructor just stood there in shock along with his students. He then decided that he couldn't let this go by so easily. "All right, you pussies!" he shouted in a tougher voice to his own students. "Show the flag here! I want another 80 out of everyone, now!"

Many of the students were bellyaching, Toji especially so as he did more than 50 pushups to try to keep up with the two Americans. Now he would have to do more than anyone else. "Oh, jeez, this totally sucks!" he said. He turned to Shinji. "Hey, where's Aida?"

"He took off again," Shinji told him while panting for breath.

"He's probably at his hiding spot. Bastard! At least suffer with the rest of us!" Toji and Shinji got started on their set of 80. It was going to be a long afternoon.

While the rest of the class did their punishment Vance decided to run around the track, just for fun, while Patrick wondered around and then spied Kensuke Aida hiding behind a bush. He quietly walked over to where he was hiding.

"Hey, Aida-kun, what are you up to?"

"Ssshhh! Not so loud!" He was highly focused on his video camera's view piece while at the same time preparing his still camera.

"By the way, where are all the girls?" asked Patrick. "You don't take PE together?"

"Look through here." He handed Patrick a handheld scope. Patrick looked through the lens and spied the girls of Class 2-A inside the gymnasium across from them. All of the girls were lined up against the wall as each one in turn performed gymnastics routines on a balance beam. All of the girls were dressed in long sleeved, magnetic blue, and very snugly fitting leotards. Patrick took a deep breath. "Oh, wow."

"I know," Kensuke responded. "This video is going to make me a fortune!"

They both watched as several girls took their turns on the beam. Patrick noticed that Kensuke got very interested when it was Asuka's turn. "Oh, Soryu-chan!" he said, as his still camera was now also turned to the open window.

Through the lens Patrick could see Asuka jumping up on the balance beam. At first she kidded around with the girls standing against the wall. Then the look on her face became much more serious as she walked down the beam and performed a series of skills with her hands. Finally she swung around on the balls of her feet, did a spectacular double-back somersault and flipped off the beam, landing neatly on the floor mat below. Most of the girls watching her clapped excitedly after her dismount.

"She's pretty good!" observed Patrick.

"Yeah, she's great! If I ever need anything from Ikari-kun I know just how to get it!"

"Where's Rei?""Ayanami-chan? She's sitting there against the wall," Kensuke pointed out. "She usually doesn't participate much. Too bad, really."

Patrick trained the scope on Rei and watched her sitting silently against the wall. As with her classmates she was dressed in the same magnetic blue leotard, but she wasn't speaking to anyone, nor looking at anything in particular. Then apparently from having her name called she got up off the floor, rubbed chalk on the bottoms of her feet from a nearby bowl, and walked to the beam.

Patrick nudged Kensuke. "She's getting up!"

"It's my lucky day!" he said in reply as he readied his equipment. "Ikari's going to pay big for this!"

Rei quietly mounted the beam and very gently walked towards the middle with her arms down at her sides. As he watched, Patrick noticed that most of the girls just ignored her, but Asuka stood there on the sidelines with arms folded, glaring at her.

She concentrated a bit and carefully leaned forward, bringing her arms in front of her. Then Rei gracefully raised her left leg behind her while balancing on her right, until the left leg was at 180 degrees: a perfect arabesque. Patrick found himself completely mesmerized by her.

Oh my God, she's beautiful.

"Hey, what's up?" Patrick was startled as he felt a heavy hand on his shoulder. Another hand fell on Kensuke's shoulder, as he then promptly panicked and dropped his video camera. "Shit!" yelled Kensuke as he scrambled for the dropped camera. Patrick turned up to see Vance, clearly pleased at catching his roommate's voyeurism. Loud squeals were heard across the yard as the girls inside the gym suddenly realized that they were being spied on from the outside. Several of the girls ran to get outside of view out of embarrassment as Hikari and Asuka both called out of the open window "Aida! You pervert! You are so dead!" Rei just stood there, still on the balance beam, puzzled at her classmates' sudden reactions.

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