Part 13: Skirmishes and schemes

Daylight found the three teens up and preparing for school again, Shinji fixing breakfast and the girls dressing and preparing themselves as he made the food and their lunches. Ritsuko was glad to have her own clothes, and selected a somewhat conservative bra and panty set for under her new school uniform. Asuka had chosen a somewhat-more-than-normally sexy pair of panties and a barely-there bra, which made Rit-chan a little curious as to what she had planned, but the older redhead just shrugged it off, figuring that she would find out soon enough. She considered her holstered USP and it's twin magazine carrier, considering her uniform. Try as she might, she couldn't think of a way to wear it without it being seen or without dressing oddly. If it had been a normal fall or winter, she could easily have concealed the gun and magazines under a jacket, sweater, blazer or coat, but not with the temperature in the high 90's. Hell, the shirt and jumper top was too hot as it was, so there was no way she was going to wear anything to conceal the holster and magazine carrier. And I somehow doubt that the school would appreciate my packing a pistol on my hip, even with the current level of danger. She thought.

With a sigh, she picked up the holstered pistol and the twin fifteen-round magazines in their leather carrier and carefully tucked them into her brand-new school bag. She had bought the correct uniform parts and the school bag the other day with this problem in mind, and her school bag was a little different from the Pilot's bags, as she had chosen one with the correct number of pockets of the correct size to store some of her more important school supplies. After all, a girl never knows when she might need her trusty USP; or sheath knife; or C4 with pencil detonators; or M1 firing devices; or…hell, a girl just needs to be ready, doesn't she? Ritsuko smiled as she clipped the NERV-issued cell phone carrier to the heavy-duty ring at the corner of her bag where the shoulder straps met with the reinforcement from the handle. Her own cell phone was sitting on Asuka's dresser, powered down as it had been for the last year as the elf world had no cell phones or phones of any kind. Maybe if we had stayed longer, then the merger of our worlds would have given the elves cell phones. Thought the teenager. Or blown the two worlds up; but I like to think that I have an optimistic outlook. The thought of Celsia with a cell phone sent a chill down her spine. The blonde ditz would probably be worse than any schoolgirl when it came to talking on a cell phone, and with her penchant for running her mouth, it could get ugly; real ugly, real fast.

Asuka was tucking her homework into her bag, and Ritsuko noticed that it was only half done. "Didn't get time to do any homework?" she asked the younger redheaded girl.

"Hmm? Oh, it's nothing. I just don't see why I should waste time with homework in this school when I already have a college degree. I mean, really, it's not like I'm going to need their stupid grades to get a degree or anything since I already have one. So I simply don't care to put any effort into the homework." She answered easily. "Besides, my real job is piloting Eva, and that is not dependant on anything these idiots can teach me in school."

"I see." Said Ritsuko, leaving that discussion for another time. "Is the homework difficult here or what?"

"About normal, I'd say. The classes are like the ones I had in grade school in Germany. Of course, I was in an advanced class for exceptional students, naturally." Answered Asuka.

"What math are you all doing?" asked Ritsuko, feeling her new bag's weight and testing its balance.

"Well, the class had just started a physics rotation, so we'll be on that for a while. Kid's stuff really, with the basics sets of laws and equations. Why? Are you weak in math or something?" asked Asuka.

"No, my math's strong, and I always did excellent in history and literature. My language skills are pretty good as are my writing skills. My weak areas are home ec, music and manners."

"How are you at science?" asked Asuka.

"Solid on chemistry and biology, a little weak on earth sciences, but above average on anatomy and physiology. And you?"

"Yeah, I'm pretty strong in all the subjects, but my worst ones are organic chemistry and those damned genetic theory/human genome sections of biology."

"If you want, I'll help you out if we cover those areas. I got an A average in my biology class curriculum."

"Oh? Where did you attend school?" asked Asuka, as the two walked toward the kitchen to have breakfast.

"I attended a private school; one of the most prestigious in Tokyo. I got a scholastic and sports scholarship, so my ride was paid for, which meant that my parents could increase my allowance. How about you? Did your parents pick up your college tab?" asked Ritsuko as they sat down. Asuka froze for a second.

"Um. No. They didn't. Was your school a girl's school or a co-ed?" asked Asuka, not wanting to discuss the family situation any longer.

"It was a co-ed, but the girls outnumbered the guys 5 to 1, and that naturally tended to break down the class alignments. Were your parents able to help you out at all with school?" she asked Asuka as Shinji put plates in front of both girls and began to serve them French toast and sweet-marinated fruit tarts. Ritsuko gave him a smile and a brief nod to thank him. Asuka ignored him, her face turning cool, as she seemed to withdraw into herself.

"No, they weren't. Let's drop this now, ok, Rit-chan?" Asuka dug into her food with excessive concentration. Ritsuko looked over to Shinji, who gave her a brief headshake. She dropped it, concentrating on her food. From the bedroom of Misato came a faint groan and the sound of vague movement. "You gonna get that, Shinji, or should I?" asked Asuka, looking up at the boy, her eyes innocent.

"Um, I'll get it." He answered, retrieving a can of beer and heading for their guardian's door. I wonder why she was being so nice? Usually she just yells at me to do it, but now she offered to do it? This can't be anything good. Sliding the door open a bit, he prepared to roll the beer grenade into the room. Instead of that however, he saw a pair of feet standing at the door and his eyes traveled up some very nice legs, which melted into a very nice set of hips, which gave way to a shapely waist and belly, which in turn transformed into a sexy chest that led to Airi's beautiful face. "Ah, good morning, Airi." Shinji managed, adverting his eyes from her tee shirt clad form. Airi hid a yawn behind her upraised hand.

"Good morning, Shinji. Off to school?" asked the actress, stepping around him as he leaned out of her way. Shinji nodded.

"Morning, Airi!" called Ritsuko cheerfully.

"Morning, Rit-chan." Replied the dark haired elf hunter to her companion. She paused at the door to the bathroom. "Rit-chan, you said you needed to talk to me, right?" Ritsuko nodded, her strawberry blonde ponytail dancing in a shiny cascade. "Well, if you're not too busy after school today, I'll be here at the apartment about the time that Misato says you get out of school. Would that be good, or are you going to instruct Shinji and Hikari some more this afternoon?"

"Yeah, we're gonna head to the range after school, but I'll stop by here first to change clothes. After all, once I make sure that Shinji and Hikari have retained what I taught them yesterday, I'm going to have to start them on rife and move into basic fire-and-maneuver drills. Oh, and Airi?" she paused to make sure that Airi was listening to her before she continued. Airi gave her her full attention. "If something comes up, don't worry about it, ok? I can hold off for a few days if necessary, and as long as I can get with you before this weekend, it'll work. Ok?"

"Sure. But likewise, if you need to talk to me, then don't hesitate. Well, I'll see you when you get back from school, guys." The bathroom door shut behind her. Shinji glanced into Misato's room and saw Misato haphazardly sprawled across her futon, her hand slowly groping around near her bed for her customary can of beer. Shaking his head, Shinji stepped into her room, gently took her hand and placed the can of beer in it.

"Thanks, Shin-chan." Came her muffled voice from under her covers as her very experienced hand easily rotated the beer can to the proper drinking alignment, popped the top and brought it to her mouth without assistance from it's opposite partner.

"You really should stop doing this, you know." Muttered Shinji as Misato gave her customary morning beer call, the empty can sailing toward the wastebasket. With a sigh, Shinji retrieved the can from where it had missed the can and deposited it inside the wastebasket on his way out. He met Asuka inbound with the second morning grenade.

"Get your stuff, baka. I'll toss in the next round." She said, her voice calm, almost friendly. Shinji could only nod and step past her to collect his book bag and head for the kitchen to clear the plates from breakfast. In the kitchen, he found Ritsuko drying the last plate with the dishtowel and placing it in the dish rack.

"You didn't have to do the dishes, Rit-chan. I normally do them." He noted.

"Well, I did them this time, so don't dwell on it. Besides, it's not like there was a pile of them or anything." Responded Ritsuko, replacing the dishtowel after she had dried her hands on it. "And Asuka helped, so it wasn't even three minutes worth of work."

"Well, thanks anyway, Rit-chan." Replied Shinji.

"Let's get going, guys. We're falling behind schedule." Noted the older teen. Asuka reappeared, taking her book bag and slipping into her shoes. The three teens departed for yet another exciting day of school. In the bathroom, Airi was finishing up, mentally organizing her day. Today would be a study day, as she had a stack of papers to read, some files Misato had retrieved and some computer based information that had been arranged for her by the nice young Lieutenant Ibuki. Misato had told her as they were coming home the night before that she would be sleeping in late before going to NERV for a meeting with some of the big brass about some different matters. Airi suspected from the look on the Captain's face that she was not looking forward to that meeting. Oh well, it was her responsibility, so she would just have to deal with it.

The more I know about how this place works and who is who, the better off we'll be. I get the impression that if we take too long to get out of here, we'll die. As an actress in Hollywood, she had learned to trust her instincts when it came to knowing when it was time to go. She also knew how to spot trouble and everything she saw at NERV and the people who worked there screamed that a horrible end was not too far off. Hopefully, I can figure out some way to help Misato and the pilots. If not, I suspect that their ends will be fairly horrific, and very messy. But first things first. I need to know more, and I need to know it now.

Deep within the bowels of NERV, in a room not far from Ikari's lair, Gendo Ikari was in a meeting. Before him were the holographic monoliths that represented Seele. And Seele was not very happy just then. Not that they were ever happy when anything not set fourth in the Scrolls came around. And when Seele was unhappy, they had a nasty tendency to jerk Ikari's chain. Over the years, he had become very, very used to having his chain jerked by this group of faceless idiots. "What is it you want, Kiel?" asked Gendo, opening the conference with an offensive attack. "I am a very busy man."

"Remember, Ikari, your time is our time." Said Seele 7.

"Then why waste it? The Instrumentality project requires my constant attention, as does Project E and it's associated issues. Why do you waste my time here?" came Gendo's reply.

"You had best remember your place, Ikari. You can be replaced easily enough." Threatened Seele 3.

"Enough." Came the voice of Seele 1, Lorenz Kiel. "You are here because you have failed to inform us of your visitors, and we will have the answers to our questions, Ikari."

"Visitors?" asked Gendo, his pose unchanged. "Whom are you asking about?"

"You try our patience, Gendo Ikari." Warned Seele 10. Gendo ignored the smaller members, his attention on Seele 1, Seele 3, Seele 6 and 7, as they were the most dangerous of the group. Those four members controlled the rest, and they were the ones behind the curtain of the shadow group known as Seele. Shadows of shadows of shadows, you might say. Gendo pressed on.

"I have many visitors, Kiel. Which ones are you interested in?" asked the Commander of NERV.

"The four from another world, Ikari. Our information tells us one of them is…" Seele 1 trailed off, obviously not quite knowing how to say what he wanted to say without sounding like a loon.

"Is what?" pressed Ikari, mentally grinning sadistically at forcing the great Seele 1 to say the word.

"An elf." Spat Kiel. Several of the members of Seele seemed to freeze. Inwardly, Ikari smirked at the situation. As much as he hated to call the creature that, he loved to make those who considered themselves his betters call her that. "Well?" demanded Kiel after several seconds of silence had passed and Gendo remained silent. "Is this creature an…elf?" The distaste in his voice was music to Gendo's ears.

"Current analysis of her is underway, and when the last of the tests have been completed, I will have a better answer for you. Until then, any reply of mine would be a mere guess." Was Ikari's reply.

"You dodge the question, Ikari." Accused Seele 5.

"Hardly. I cannot give an answer when I am not in possession of the facts of the matter. That is all." Was the calm reply.

"And the other three?" asked Kiel.

"All test conclusively show them to be humans. They pose no immediate threat to either of the primary projects, and may be of use to us in the Instrumentality scenario." Gendo was sure they had already seen the test results, and his answer would fit nicely with the information.

"Why have you placed them with key personnel, Ikari? They are not part of the scenario, and may disrupt the events foretold in the scrolls." Stated Seele 3.

"The scrolls do not tell every minor detail of the events to come, and this is no threat to the plan. Indeed, they have already shown me a way to utilize them in the hastening of the scenario." Offered Gendo, his hook hidden in his bait.

"It is not for you to hasten nor slow the timetable, Ikari." Admonished Seele 1 sternly.

"As you wish. It is necessary for me to return to work now if the schedule is to be maintained, gentlemen. Good day." Replied Gendo, closing the connection. The icons faded into nothing, and Fuyutsuki stepped to Gendo's side.

"You are playing it dangerously, Ikari. They will not sit there and do nothing forever, you know." Noted the old teacher.

"All are but calculated moves, old friend. And I do not need them to stay put forever. Just until Unit 1 awakens; then they may do as they like, for I will be unstoppable." Gendo departed for his office, leaving Fuyutsuki at the door to the hall to his own office. No, Gendo Ikari, even then there will be one who can still stop your plans. If the son of Yui Ikari learns the truth of Project E, he can and will destroy your plans forever. If you are not careful in your handling of him, he will become your doom. Thought the older man as he entered his office.

Sitting at his desk, he began to compose responses to the various requests, demands and threats that had been thrown at NERV in the last little bit. As he forwarded a threat from some religious terrorists to the head of Section 2, another thought occurred to him. I wonder if the madman realizes that until the Unit awakens, the pilot of the Unit must not be allowed to come to permanent harm, or the Unit will never awaken. But after the Unit awakens, the pilot is the only one who can control the Unit, and will be the Unit's sacrifice when the time comes. So, either way, the pilots cannot be harmed. Considering what Rei is, Unit 0 is not a candidate for Awakening. Which leaves Units 1 and 2. Shinji and Asuka. You plan for Unit 1 to be your tool for regaining Yui, Gendo, but you must realize that he is the one most likely to destroy your plan forever. And I can not help but wonder what Yui will have to say when Unit 1 Awakens, and she sees what you have done to her Shinji. Fuyutsuki shook himself mentally and went back to work on the pile of problems on his desk and computer.

"So, who is mad at NERV today, eh?" he said aloud to his empty office. "You look like a winner. What's your name, you handsome devils?" he said, reading what was billed as a `declaration of the Righteous against the godless minions of Satan', but was - in simple terms - a death threat from yet another group of religious nuts calling themselves the Order of the Holy Cross of God. "'Insomuch as NERV is the tool of the devil on God's holy earth, we of the Order, gird in the holiness of God and blessed with His strength, which overwhelms all evil in its path that we might do his bidding even unto the very end of this world shall smite His evil enemies which do wickedly kill His holy emissaries in the course of their Holy Mission, daring to challenge the God of Gods, the Holy of Holies…' Damn, these guys know how to preach." He muttered, scanning several lines ahead and noting that they were still on their first sentence. "I guess classic literature is good for something. Hardly anyone today can even make a sentence with more than ten words in it without using a period or shifting topics. I'll give these guys an A- for their work." He decided, writing an `A-` on the top right hand corner of the sheet of paper. His bit of fun done, he scanned the entirety of the threat for any particular targets, and saw that the primary targets were the Pilots. "Clever monkeys." Murmured the old teacher. "Easiest to hit, most critical, and least likely to see it coming. Clever." He reached over to the phone at his elbow and punched in a number. When the other end of the line picked up, Fuyutsuki began to order some changes in procedure.

As Asuka, Rit-chan and Shinji walked toward school, they met up with Hikari and Rei, who were waiting at a corner about half way to the school ground. Hikari greeted them cheerfully, and Rei gave the three a quiet `good morning', followed by a swift, but detailed, visual examination of Shinji, followed by her quiet quierery of his rest the night before.

"Baka slept good, Wondergirl." Interjected Asuka, her tone tightly controlled to be friendly. Rei regarded the German girl for a moment.

"Did he sleep with you, Pilot Sohryu?" she asked, her eyes looking into Asuka's.

"Wha…? Of course not!" she sputtered.

"Then how did you reach the conclusion that he slept well?" pressed Rei.

"Because I ch…I just know, all right?!" returned Asuka, her control slipping. Rei's eyes never left hers.

"I see." Said Rei simply. "We should go now, or we will be late." She added. Hikari glanced at her watch.

"You're right, Rei. Let's get moving." Seconded the class rep.

"Hey guys," Rit-chan spoke up as they walked toward school. "Let's not mention that we're prepping for the challenge, ok? If they think that we're not doing anything to prepare, it might lull them into not preparing themselves, giving us the advantage."

"Good idea." Approved Asuka, nodding her head. "And hey, we can use your little enterprise to throw them off balance. If you have it all worked out, that is." She proposed.

"Set and ready. Shinji, when lunch comes around, I need you to make sure that your two buddies agree to eat with us, then I need you to be absent for a bit. Please?" asked Rit-chan.

"Why do you want to be alone with Touji and Kensuke so badly?" asked Shinji, confused by the sudden change in Asuka's tolerance level for his two friends. "I thought you hated them, Asuka?"

"I promise you it's not what you're thinking, Shinji." Promised Rit-chan. "And I can pretty much promise that they won't be hurt, ok?" soothed Rit-chan, her smile warm and sweet, her whole body language one of innocent loveliness. Shinji had not lived with both Misato and Asuka for months without learning to be suspicious of sudden bouts of cuteness or innocent body language. He also had not lived with them for that long and not learned never to call their bluff if he valued his quality of life. And lately, life had been damned good.

"If you want, I'll do it, Rit-chan." He capitulated. "Not that they'd want to pass up a chance to eat with you girls." He muttered softly.

"Hmm?" questioned Hikari non-verbally. Shinji waved the question away.

"I will accompany Shinji when he departs so you can…speak with Suzahara and Aida. We will make sure that you are not…disturbed." Announced Rei.

"You don't have to go with me, Rei." Said Shinji.

"Do you not wish me to accompany you, Shinji?" she asked.

"It's not that I don't want you to or anything, it's just I thought you wanted to talk to them as well, seeing as Asuka and Hikari are so gung-ho to see them." Explained Shinji.

"The activities planned for them do not matter to me. I will accompany you instead, Shinji." Insisted Rei.

"Ok, Rei-chan." Surrendered Shinji. He was a little relived that she didn't want to stay to do whatever Rit-chan and Asuka had planned for his two friends. In view of what he and the blue haired pilot had been doing lately, he kept getting this paranoid thought that Rit-chan, Asuka and Hikari were going to have some kind of orgy with his two pals. But as annoying as that paranoid little thought was, a more horrifying realization hit the boy: the thought of his two friends having even the most novice of sexual activities with the three girls made him angry. Why would I be angry at that thought? He wondered, repulsed by the discovery of his darker side. It's not like I have any hold over them, and they aren't my girlfriends or anything, so it shouldn't bother me if they want to do…that with Touji and Kensuke. Hell, Hikari has a thing for Touji anyway, so it wouldn't be a surprise if she let him feel her up or even gave him a… his thoughts erupted in flames of rage as his mind's eye pictured Touji and Kensuke touching the girls breasts and groins. Forcing himself to be calmer, he considered why he was so angered by the thought. Touji and Kensuke were his friends, after all, and it wasn't like they would be angry about his having sex with Rei. Or would they? He mentally frowned. He concentrated on the infuriating mental picture of Touji pulling Asuka's shirt off so he could fondle her breasts as Kensuke buried his face in Hikari's pussy. All the time while they were watching that nudie flick, they were talking about what they wanted to do when they were with a girl. They even said they wanted to make Asuka swallow when we were showing after… In that instant, it all became clear to Shinji. It's because they can't see them as people; all they see are their tits and asses. It's sad, I suppose, that they only see the act of sex, and not the reason behind that act. Shinji was not aware that he had began to glare at the sidewalk and his lips were slowly pulling back in to a snarl as his mental epiphany unfolded. If all they see the girls as are sex toys, they are unworthy to touch them like that! How dare they treat them so casually?!

"Shinji!" called Asuka, her voice tone and volume piercing his roiling thoughts. His dark mood shattered, his head snapped up and he looked around, to see the girls were standing by the gate to the school, watching him.

"What is it, Asuka?" he asked, his tone clearly telling his teammate that we was totally lost.

"Baka! You're walking past the gate! Come on, class is about to start!" called the red headed pilot, her tone angry.

"Sorry." He replied instinctively, rejoining the tail of the group as they entered the school, Rei falling back to his side.

"What made you so angry, Shinji?" she asked so softly that he swore she had spoken to him telepathically.

"It's nothing, Rei-chan. Just a thought." He dodged verbally, hoping she wouldn't pursue. Rei's eyes told him that she didn't believe him, but that she would let it go for now. With their shoes changed to the indoor ones, the group swiftly headed for the classroom, beating the teacher by several seconds.

When the five of them entered the room, it went totally, completely, deathly silent and every student's eyes went to them. Rit-chan ignored it, as did Rei, who couldn't care less if the students were there or not. Hikari and Asuka scanned the room, noting the various looks on the faces of the other students. Shinji just nodded to Touji and Kensuke on his way to his desk, where he promptly sat and closed his eyes, shutting the students not in his group out. Hikari and Asuka walked to their desks in silence as Ritsuko situated her new bag comfortably against her leg, her hand happening to rest easily on the cover flap, and her trusty USP just below it. Hikari's eyes met Asuka's as they slid into their seats. She saw that Asuka had the same thought as her about the sudden silence at their entry. This does not bode well. Something is amiss.

The bell rang and Shinji's head came up from his contemplation of his desk top, his mind beginning to function again. Remembering what Rit-chan had asked him to do, he turned to look for his two friends, only to find them headed for the group, smiling like a pair of cats in a cream factory. Shinji's eyebrows wrinkled in thought. It's not like them to seek out Asuka or Rei, and they are definitely headed for us. Thought the boy, seeing Rit-chan stand up from her desk and step back one so she was beside his desk, Rei appearing beside the older teen as Hikari and Asuka crossed the row to stand by the other side of his desk. This is…nice, he thought to himself as he saw the four girls standing at his desk, I could really get used to this. But who am I kidding; they don't see you as anything but the pilot of Unit 1 or as a co-worker. And why would they? I'm not a jock like Touji, or a creative person like Kensuke. His trip down depression way was interrupted by the arrival of his two friends.

"Well, well. Look what the garbage man missed." Sniped Asuka. She stood closest to them, as they were just behind Shinji, who was still seated at his desk. Rei was on his other side closest to them, but her attention was on Shinji. "What brings you two amoeba here?"

"Oh, we thought we'd give you the chance to forfeit the game this weekend and save yourself the humiliation of losing. But only because you dragged Shinji into this thing." Said Touji, a confident tone in his voice. He dropped a hand onto Shinji's shoulder in a comradely way. Shinji closed his eyes, exhaling in a tired tone. But, before he could say anything, another acted on his behalf.

Touji winced as Rei's hand closed on the wrist of the hand that he had placed on Shinji and squeezed. For such a delicate looking girl, she's strong! Thought the athlete as he felt his bones grind together as she pulled his hand from Shinji's shoulder. Once she had removed the offending appendage from his shoulder, she dropped it as disdainfully as one would drop a used Kleenex. What's with the bodyguard routine?! Wondered the dark haired boy as he rubbed his wrist, which was turning a darker shade of red. Rei didn't even bother to look at him.

"And why would we forfeit the game when we know we're going to win, brain donor?" replied Asuka.

"Well, we scoped out the place yesterday and it's in a pretty rough part of town. Sure would be a shame if someone hurt you girls." Interjected Kensuke. His eyes flickered back and fourth over the girls looking for any sign of a reaction to his news. There were only faint smiles on Ritsuko and Asuka's faces.

"Is it not the intent of the males in this class to harm us should we lose the challenge?" asked Rei. She regarded the two boys with her cold, red eyes.

"Uh…well…" they began, unable to find anything to say to that remark. Rei went on, interrupting their attempt at words.

"Why would you care if others hurt us as well?" She paused, her eyes on the two behind Shinji. One of her hands came to rest gently on Shinji's shoulder as he started to move. "Or is it perhaps that you want to have sexual intercourse with us, but can not bear the thought of some stranger doing so before you could?"

"Rei." Said Rit-chan softly. The blue haired goddess of ice looked away from the two frozen teens, her eyes touching the eyes of her friend. "Let's not be so casual about secrets, Rei-chan." Said the older teen in a very soft voice. Rei gave her a small head nod. Asuka went on the offensive.

"So I take it you two had some problems when you went there? Pity. Maybe you two are too afraid to go back, and are just hoping that we'll forfeit. Well, forget it! We're winning this thing and you can't stop us, Stooges!"

"Oh yeah, Devil Girl?! We'll see who wins this! Come on Shinji, let's eat." Bellowed Touji, reaching for Shinji, who had started to stand, his stack of bentos in hand, his having removed them from his bag while the others talked. Touji's hand froze as he felt the freezing touch of Rei's eyes on him.

"Shinji is eating with us." Stated Hikari. "If you want to eat with him, you will have to eat with us."

The two boys exchanged looks, very nervous about eating with the two female pilots and the Class Rep, who's reputation for punishing people for annoying her was almost as bad as Asuka's (well founded) reputation for violence. "We're eating on the roof, if you decide to join us." Added Hikari as the group departed, Rei escorting Shinji closely. The two boys stared at each other.

"This has got to be a trap." Stated Kensuke.

"True. But we can't get anything out of Shinji with the Ice Goddess or Fire Demoness near him, so what choice do we have?" countered his friend. Silence lasted for several seconds, then Touji spoke again. "We shouldn't go; they'll just do something bad."

"Yeah, we can get Shinji at gym class. We'll wait until then to pressure him about details of the girl's plans." Agreed Kensuke, adjusting his glasses. Outside the window, the leaves of the trees danced in the breeze. The two boys watched the twisting green dancers for a moment.

"Grab the lunches." Ordered Touji. "We gotta get to the roof."

Shinji and Rei stepped in to the stairwell and closed the door behind them, leaving Touji and Kensuke facing a very unfriendly trio of girls on the deserted roof. In silence the two descended one flight of stairs, then stopped at the landing leading to the door that connected the roof to the halls of the school. Rei reached into her waistband and withdrew a key from her uniform skirt. With the key, she locked the access door to the school.

"Where did you get that from?" asked Shinji as Rei silently tucked the key back into her waistband.

"It is a copy of the janitorial key. It opens all the locks except for the ones on the principal's files." Stated Rei.

"I mean, how did you get it?" wondered Shinji. Rei gave him a very faint smile.

"Does it matter, Shinji?" she asked, stepping into him, her arms going around his neck and her lips pressing to his. Shinji decided that, no, it didn't really matter how she got it. The kiss was still clumsy, but they were getting better all the time, and Rit-chan had said she might help him learn to do better. That thought brought Shinji up short. Gently breaking the kiss, he looked into Rei's questioning eyes.

"Rei, I have to tell you something." He started hesitantly.

"Yes?" prompted Rei.

"It's about last night." He said, beginning to blush.

"If you desire relief, I will provide it now." Said Rei, her hand snaking down to his groin and caressing his rapidly hardening member. As Rei's hand sought his zipper, Shinji forced himself to speak.

"It's not…about that, Rei-chan. It's just…well, I kind of kissed Rit-chan." He managed. And now, here comes her anger. He braced himself for her explosion. Instead of getting angry, she acted as if he was telling her that the weather was nice, her hand finding his zipper and pulling it down carefully. "Did you hear me, Rei?" asked a confused Shinji. She should be mad; at least, that's what the guys always say.

"Yes. I heard you. You and Rit-chan kissed. Do you desire manual relief, oral relief or sexual intercourse, Shinji?" asked Rei, her hand closing around his member, which was nearly fully erect. With a soft twist of her wrist, she freed his member from his pants and she slid her other hand down to join her first in caressing his rod. "Shinji?" she prompted, looking up into his eyes. Shinji was slightly taller than Rei, but not by much. "You need to choose soon, Shinji, as we do not have much time." She said, freeing one hand long enough to guide one of his to her breasts.

"It doesn't bother you that I kissed her?" asked Shinji, beginning to pant a little.

"No." replied Rei, leaning into him and pressing herself against him.

"Why doesn't it?" wondered Shinji. Rei regarded him for a moment, but her hands never stopped. Neither did his as they caressed her breasts.

"Because you love her, and that is something that you should do with those you love." Replied Rei in her most reasonable tone. "Have you kissed Pilot Sohryu yet? Or perhaps Captain Katsuragi?" Shinji shook his head. Rei felt him quiver in her hands, and she felt herself growing hot and wet between her legs. "We can discuss this later, Shinji, but I wish to relieve you immediately. Will you have intercourse with me now?" she said, her breath coming quick.

"Here?! Now?!" managed a strangled-sounding Shinji.

"Yes. Here. Now." Panted Rei, stepping back a little, her hands still on his now fully erect penis. "Unless you wish for manual or oral relief instead?" her face was flushed and her nipples were as hard as rocks, easily seen under her shirt and bra.

"If you're sure…" began Shinji, but was interrupted by Rei releasing his member long enough to unbuckle his belt, unfasten his pants and slide them down to his knees along with his underwear, leaving his member sticking out like a sword. With a swift movement, Rei pulled her skirt up, slipping her fingers into the waistband of her panties and sliding them off, dropping them carelessly to the floor at her feet, before she gently pushed Shinji back against the wall, straddling his legs as he leaned back. She tugged her skirt up with one hand as she resumed her hold on his member with her other hand. With her skirt out of the way, her free hand slipped down to carefully spread herself as she positioned herself above his hard dick. Shinji slid his hands around her hips to steady her as she slowly but steadily pushed herself down on him, his dick sinking into her bit by bit. As he entered her, he felt her wetness covering his member, making it easier and easier to penetrate her tight sheath. Rei gave off small, soft gasps as she worked her way onto his erection. She is as tight as Asuka. Thought a small part of Shinji's brain before it too shut down. When she had managed to fully impale herself on him, the red-eyed girl paused for a moment before she began to slowly move up and down on him, her juices swiftly covering his hardness, which made it feel better for them both. Soon, she was humping his dick at a very fast pace, moving so swiftly that she was nearly a blur.

The girls were correct when they said that it felt better and better each time. Mused the pilot of Unit 0 to herself. It was uncomfortable at first, but no longer hurt. Now, with sufficient lubrication, it feels…indescribable. I wish for more of this activity with Shinji. Rei felt an electric sensation build up in her groin, spreading to her spine and then through her body. Abruptly, she felt a warm, thick squirting sensation and heard Shinji moan out her name. So, he has released his semen in me. That thought sent Rei over the edge herself, her vision turning to kaleidoscope colors and her whole body trembling. When she was able to think again, she found herself pressing against Shinji's chest, her arms around his neck, and her lips pressed to his. Carefully breaking the kiss, she felt him smiling at her weakly.

"Um, did you…enjoy it too, Rei-chan?" he asked, his tone a little stunned.

"Yes. I greatly enjoy this activity with you, Shinji." Answered Rei as she felt his erection soften in her, and the sensation of his sperm coating her inner walls. "But we are nearly out of time. The bell will sound soon, and the others will be coming down before long." She announced, carefully slipping off him. She noticed the slick mess covering his semi-erect pole, and knelt down, engulfing his member with her mouth. Shinji gasped as he felt her tongue licking him and her mouth sucking his dick. Rei licked all the mixed juice off and made sure he was clean before she released him and retrieved her panties. "You need to get dressed again, Shinji." She said quietly as she stepped into her panties and pulled them up, unconcerned about him seeing her soaked groin or the thin trail of semen leading to her lower lips. Shinji watched, mesmerized, as the pale girl adjusted her underwear, the thin cotton material rapidly getting soaked at her dripping wet lower lips and becoming nearly transparent.

"Isn't that…uncomfortable? Being…wet down there?" asked Shinji.

"Not at the moment, but I will tend to it soon." Replied Rei, settling her skirt back into place as the two heard a click and the sound of the fire door opening above them. Rei slipped her key out and unlocked the lower door as Asuka, Rit-chan and Hikari came down the steps, smiling and counting money.

"That went pretty smooth, Rit-chan. I'm impressed." Complimented Hikari.

"I had expected them to put up more resistance than that." Asuka mentioned, folding the bills and tucking them into her shirt pocket. Ritsuko separated some of the money in her hand and handed it to Rei.

"This is your cut, Rei-chan. You can expect about the same each day." Hikari tucked her money into her shirt pocket as well, hiding it very well as the shirt pockets were under the jumper tops of the uniforms. Rei took the money after a moment of hesitation, then placed it in her pocket wordlessly. "And thank you for helping us out, Shinji." Added the older girl.

"You didn't do anything too drastic to them, did you?" asked Shinji of the three, but his eyes were on Asuka's smiling face.

"Worried about your fellow stooges, Baka? Well, don't be; they'll be fine. I think. But if you ask me, it'd be no loss if they weren't." replied the hot-tempered girl.

"They're still my friends, Asuka." Pointed out Shinji. Asuka `humped' disdainfully.

"Then we have to get you some better ones." She said, reaching for the handle to the door to the classroom hallway. Just as she opened the latch, the bell sounded. "Perfect timing, as usual." She congratulated herself. The others said nothing as they followed her back to class. Only Shinji saw Rei slip into the girl's bathroom. Touji and Kensuke didn't come back that afternoon.

"Man, these suits do nothing for a girl's figure, you know?" observed Asuka as she and the rest of the girls stood poolside and waited for their turn to swim their laps. They were dressed in the school-mandated one-piece, low-hipped and high-topped swimsuits, all dark blue, of course. Rit-chan and Asuka were standing side by side, and Hikari was next to Rei just behind them. The four had instinctively formed into a group as the undertone from the other girls went from curious to envious to mad to scornful. The four ignored them by and large.

"I know what you mean, Asuka. But consider this: it could be worse." Replied Rit-chan.

"Oh? How?" asked Asuka, not immediately seeing the other girl's point.

"We could be in itty-bitty bikinis." Replied Rit-chan, smiling back at her.

"How is that `worse'?" wondered the younger redhead.

"She refers to the continuous attention of the males on the field below." Interjected Rei quietly. Asuka turned to see that all the boys not actively running laps were watching the girls from the edge of the track below the pool. Asuka's brow twitched dangerously.

"Hentai losers." She growled. "They should put up a fence or something." Having said her piece, she turned back to Rit-chan. Hikari was busy watching the other girls with some concern.

"Hey, Rei?" she asked the girl beside her. Receiving no answer, she looked to Rei and saw that the ice-cold pilot was watching the boys intently. Or rather, she was watching one boy intently. Shinji, of course. Thought Hikari. She watched him as well for a moment, seeing him finish a lap and step to the side of the field, panting in the heat. Once he was seated, he glanced up at the pool and smiled at Hikari and Rei. The class rep stole a glance at Rei and nearly fell over in shock as she saw a faint smile on the normally blank visage of the Pilot of Unit 0. After mentally shaking herself to clear her mental jam, she turned back and waved at the boy, who gave her a small wave in return. For some odd reason, she felt a small shiver run down her back when he did that.

"Was there something you wanted to ask, Hikari?" came Rei's soft voice from beside her. Hikari blinked, trying to figure out what she was going to say before she was sidetracked. A moment later, she remembered.

"Do you think that the girls will act this way for long?" she asked the pilot.

"You refer to the fact that they are all keeping their distance from you and Sohryu, do you not? I would not worry. Once we win the challenge, it will all be forgotten." Stated Rei, her confidence in their victory seeming to make it a fact.

"She's right, you know. As a class rep, you should know by now how things work in classes and between girls." Interjected Rit-chan calmly. "Once we win, they are all going to be our best and most loyal friends again, except for a few with personal axes to grind."

"And if we lose, we'll be the school sluts, the butt of every vile rumor and get shunned by them as a whole." Rejoined Hikari morosely.

"If we lose to those morons, we deserve it." Stated Asuka firmly. "Besides, we are not going to lose. On that you have the word of Asuka Langley Sohryu."

"Next pairs!" called the teacher, motioning the line forward as six girls climbed out of the water. Asuka and Rit-chan stepped onto the first set of blocks, Rei and Hikari took the next lane's starting blocks as the third set of girls headed to the third lane's blocks. Rei looked over to check on Shinji again, Asuka stretched her back a little, Rit-chan was breathing in slow, deep breaths and Hikari glanced to her side to see who was behind them. It was Tomoko and one of her cronies. Figures it'd be one of our fans. Thought the class rep sourly. But the two girls seemed to have some objection to swimming next to Rei and Hikari.

"Teacher, I don't want to swim next to these two sluts." Called Tomoko spitefully. "It's bad enough that I have to share a pool with them, but if I have to swim beside them, I might get one of their nasty sexual diseases." The pool area went silent at her words, and the girls at large all turned to look at the four girls on the blocks. Asuka and Ritsuko paid her no attention, and to say that Rei was aloof was an understatement of the same caliber as to say that the Titanic took on a little water. Hikari's cheeks went pale, then climbed toward red.

"What was that, Yaguni?" she gritted out.

"You heard me, Horaki. You've got VD." Said the other girl, her tone cocky. Hikari started to turn toward the offensive bitch, but just then, a girl a few pairs back called out.

"If you're too scared to swim, I'll run the lap next to them, Tomoko. By the way, didn't I see you at that drug store down by the train station yesterday?" Every eye went to the speaker, who stood head and shoulders over the other girls. Aki! Thought Hikari. "I was meaning to ask you what you were buying there. Doesn't your dad run one of those chain drug stores? Why not just buy whatever it was from your old man's store instead of one across town?" Aki started past the other girls, who watched silently as the tall girl moved past them on her way to the blocks in the third lane. "I mean, wouldn't it be easier to buy condoms at your family's store?" At that little tidbit of info, a buzz ran through the girls. The instructor watched to see how this would play out. Ever since she had started to teach here two years ago, the message had been loud and clear: the pilots were off limits to disciplinary measures, and the girls were to be kept from coming to harm. So, while she was ready to step in, she still wanted to see how this played out. Tomoko was on the defensive now, and she knew she had to regain the offense if she hoped to be able to come out of this one on top.

"They are for when Sohryu, Ayanami, Horaki and Inoue lose the bet." She fired back. "After all, I don't want their diseases to spread around the school."

"How thoughtful." Smiled Aki, stopping directly in front of the other girl, who had to lean her head back to look at Aki's face. "It's nice to see you spending your own hard-earned money on such a noble project. So was the tube of KY jelly and the pregnancy test for them as well? Going all out for school health, aren't you. And what was that prescription for? Some sort of anti-bacterial cream, was it?" Aki's eyes narrowed dangerously. Tomoko stepped back.

"Since you don't care if you get their VD, you can swim in this lane." Tomoko stated, turning away. "Better safe than sorry, I always say."

"Yeah, so I hear." Was Aki's parting shot. "If the itching doesn't stop in a few days, you might want to see a doctor about that." She tossed in as an afterthought. Tomoko was silent, but the other girls were buzzing with conversation. Aki stepped to the block and rolled her shoulders to loosen them up. She gave the four girls a friendly wink and a smile.

"You are cruel, Aki." Stated Asuka. "I love that about you."

"Her attitude pisses me off. Acting like everyone doesn't know about Shodoki making her jump through hoops and all, just for the `prestige' of having an upperclassman as a boy toy; I mean boyfriend." She glanced back at the pack of girls who were still busy speculating on this latest turn of events. "Hey! Who's on my right, guys?" she called, motioning to the empty lane beside her.

The final bell sounded and the students all rapidly began to depart, except for Yaguni and Kunuoki, who suddenly found them selves on clean up detail. And bulletin detail. And trash detail. And planning assistance detail; it was obvious that Hikari was not above using her status for revenge. She called her older sister to get her to take care of her younger sister, and then headed to NERV with the other four members of her new clique. It was odd, but she found herself looking forward to shooting again. Ritsuko's enthusiasm for guns was contagious, and her ability to make other's see them as she saw them made for a very attractive package. Kodama had just wished her well and reminded her to be home before midnight this time, as her and Asuka's little talk had awoken her the other night. Hikari had blushed as her oldest sister had laughed and promised to give her `the talk' when she saw her next time. Whatever discomfort Hikari felt at the prospect of her sister's version of `the talk' was quickly forgotten as she became engrossed in talking shop with Rit-chan and the others, who mentioned that they had to stop off at the apartment before going on to NERV. Hikari seemed a little disappointed that she hadn't brought a change of clothes, but Asuka had assured her that she had the `perfect' outfit for her friend. When Hikari questioned her friend's definition of `perfect', the conversation swung to clothes and makeup and related topics, so Shinji went silent, shifting back in the pack to walk beside Rei. As the conversation got more and more heated, Rei's hand closed on Shinji's, her fingers interlacing with his.

At the apartment, Shinji tossed his school bag into his room and stepped to the kitchen to get some drinks for the girls, as he knew that they would be here for at least a half hour before Asuka would deem herself ready to be seen at NERV. Rit-chan, Asuka and Hikari had retired to her room to change clothes, and for some odd reason, Asuka hadn't included her normal death threat about peeking. Not that Shinji ever did, but it was customary for her to threaten his manhood. While he was getting some glasses from the cupboards, he heard the bathroom door close and concluded that Rei had stepped in to take care of necessities. That thought reminded him about her earlier pit stop and he made a mental note to ask her if she been able to take care of the problem satisfactorily. Unbidden, the image of her soaked lower lips and the small trail of semen coming from her lips sprang into his mind, making his dick stir a little. She looks so sexy like that, with my cum seeping out of her pussy. Wait. Semen IN her pussy? SHIT!!!! Thought Shinji, dropping the glass he had been holding. Fortunately, it was plastic, so it only bounced on the floor. The boy woodenly picked up the glass, his body acting on its own, as his brain was busy elsewhere. How could I have been that stupid?!? I didn't even have a condom, let alone wear one either time we had sex!! What if she's…pregnant? Oh fuck! Asuka's right; I am a baka! His thoughts were interrupted by someone touching his arm. He jerked in surprise and turned to see Airi looking at him.

The actress was dressed casually in a long gray tee shirt that bore the acronym `I.A.C.' across the chest, coupled with a pair of loose fitting blue cotton shorts that came to just above her knees. "Hello, Shinji. How was school today?" asked the older woman calmly, her tone friendly.

"Oh, hi, Airi. It was…educational." He managed, wondering if he was blushing as badly as he thought he was.

"Well, that is usually the purpose of a school, is it not? Is my Rit-chan causing any trouble?"

"Oh, no! Not at all. Asuka's got us covered on the trouble causing front." He said before he could think it through some more.

"Ah, the infamous challenge. I heard that some of the boys have…interesting plans for the girls if they win. But I haven't heard what they will have you do yet. Any ideas?" asked the actress casually.

"No. But they won't win." Stated Shinji, feeling his temper rise as the very thought of the boys doing any of the things they had talked about doing the afternoon of the challenge. "I will kill them first." He murmured to himself.

So, the file Mi-chan gave me is right on the money; he's a victim when it's only him on the line, but when it is a loved one, he's unstoppable. Hmm. Maybe Mi-chan has a point about him getting involved with one or both of his fellow pilots. "You feel that strongly, do you?" she asked, artfully making it sound vaguely teasing, but still challenging.

"Of course I do, Airi. They're my lo…friends. And I can't let anything happen to them while I can do something about it." He said, barely stumbling in his recovery.

"So, they're your friends, are they? Pity. They seem like they'd be more than that." Proposed Airi.

"Wha…what do you mean?" asked Shinji. Airi snagged a chair with her foot and sat down with graceful economy, putting her arms on the table and one of her hands on her cheek. Shinji leaned against the counter across from her.

"They're both beautiful, intelligent and skillful; at least from what I've seen. At least in my experience, that kind of girl usually makes an excellent girlfriend. So? Are you going to look into the possibility of dating them?"

"No, I…can't. Those same traits that make them perfect girlfriend material also mean that they have better suitors than me to choose from, and really, without piloting Unit 1, there is no value in dating me for either of them. I mean, Rei is so steady and calculated and calm, while I tend to panic in combat and usually freeze up at the worst time possible. She's had a lot more training than I have, and her concentration is better than mine will ever be. I'm just not in her league." Explained Shinji. Not to mention, father seems to have a soft spot for her, while he views me as some sort of failure from his past.

"And what about Asuka?" asked Airi, watching Shinji closely. He definitely loves Rei, and I think I saw some indication that she has proven that she loves him, but I want to be sure before I make my move.

"Asuka? She'd never be caught dead with me! She hates me, Airi. Really, truly, deeply hates me. Ever since she laid eyes on me, all she's ever done is insult me, belittle me and hit me. I do my best not to anger her, but she blows up anyway. Still…"

"Still what?" pressed Airi.

"Still, she's beautiful. And she's amazing with her Eva, the way she moves and her ability to come up with tactics on the fly. She's the best pilot, that's for sure. Rei-chan and I aren't in her league, me more than Rei. And her Unit 2 is more advanced than my or Rei's unit. She's been training to fight angels since she was 6, and it shows. I wish I had her confidence, but like she says, I just got lucky with Unit 1."

"Maybe she could teach you some of her skills?" suggested Airi.

"It'd just be a waste of her time; I'm not talented like she is, and besides, she'd only do that for Kaji." Sighed the boy, defeat in his tone.

"Isn't that Kaji guy supposed to be Mi-chan's boyfriend?" asked Airi, knowing full well that he was.

Shinji rewarded her attempt at levity with a soft chuckle. "Well, if he is, he forgot to tell anyone else; especially Misato." Shinji gave her a shy smile. "You should see the way he carries on at NERV. If there's a girl anywhere near, he's hitting on her. Misato says that he was always that way, even when they were dating in college."

"Sounds like a confident man, doesn't he?" demurred Airi. "Do you wish you were like him?"

"Well, sometimes, but I don't think that he should treat other people's feelings that casually."

"How so?" asked Airi, intrigued by his odd thought process.

"Well, he flirts for the sake of flirting, and I just don't think that that is right. You should protect the ones you love instead of trying to act like you love everyone." Replied Shinji.

"So you don't want to be a mega-playboy, stringing along dozens of women?" challenged Airi.

"No. I just want to love my loved ones and be loved by them." He paused, his cheeks flushing. "I'm sorry, Airi. I'm being stupid again. I'll just shut up now."

"No, you're not being stupid, Shinji. But we can leave this for later. I do want to ask you one more question, though."

"Um, sure."

"Do you know who it is you love, and do they know that you love them?" asked Airi, standing and heading for Misato's room. "And now, I have some more reading to do. I'll see you later, Shinji. Oh, and tell Rit-chan if she wants to talk to me, I'll be in Mi-chan's room, will you?" And Airi was gone, leaving a thoughtful Shinji in her wake.

"Shinji?" came a soft voice from beside him. He flinched and turned to see Rei standing calmly beside him. "Are you ok?"

"Uh, yeah, Rei. But I need to talk to you."

"I am listening, Shinji." Replied the girl, stepping closer to him, her hand closing on his.

"Rei, when we…did it, I didn't wear a condom." He said very softly, making sure that he could still hear the girls in their room, their voices faint, but audible.

"This concerns you? Why?" asked Rei, her head touching his shoulder.

"Rei!" he gasped, keeping his tone low. "I came inside you! Twice! You might be…pregnant."

"I am not." She stated.

"How do you know that? It's too early to tell, isn't it?" he asked.

"Not with me. I am not capable of creating life in my womb." She said, as calmly as if she were mentioning the time. "So, do not worry about such matters again. Also, from what I hear, wearing a condom is not as enjoyable for either the male or the female. I would suggest you not wear one when you are with Sohryu, Horaki or Katsuragi." She offered, her other arm drawing him to her in a close hug. Shinji's mouth hung open.

"Wha…Wha…What are you saying, Rei? Do you want me to…sleep with them?" he asked her, stunned.

"No." replied Rei, her tone calm. Before Shinji could relax, she went on. "I wish to share with them your love. I find that I enjoy closeness and intercourse with you, and I know that you love them as well, so I wish for them to feel what I feel with you."

"You aren't jealous?" asked a dazed Shinji.

"No. I am not. I love you, and you love me, as much as you love others and they love you. If I truly love you, I will not seek to lock you away from those you love, for that is not love, but mere greed. And it is that need to utterly possess that which you love, to be the only one that has access to that which is loved, that has destroyed Commander Ikari's happiness."

With nothing to say to that remark, Shinji shied away from the topic of his father. "Rei, you said I shouldn't wear a condom if I…sleep with Asuka, Hikari or Misato. But won't they get…pregnant if I don't wear one?" Rei raised her head from his shoulder to look him in the eye.

"Not `if', Shinji, but rather `when' you engage in intercourse with them. And they will not become pregnant. Captain Katsuragi is on birth control, Asuka is a pilot, and so are you." She said.

"Pilot? What does that have to do with them not getting pregnant?" Shinji was confused.

"Repeated, prolonged exposure to LCL changes the blood chemistry, which has a side effect of rendering the subject temporarily sterile. I thought you knew this." Shinji shook his head. "Therefore, you and Asuka are both temporarily the same as I am, in that she can not conceive and you can not impregnate a woman. In Katsuragi's case, she is on birth control, which protects her from conceiving. There is no point to wearing a condom when there is no need to do so. I wish them to enjoy intimacy with you as much as I do." Rei raised herself to press her lips to his. After several seconds, she broke the kiss.

"Speaking of that, did you get cleaned up after lunch?" asked Shinji, his feelings mixed as to the news Rei had given him.

"Yes. I cleaned myself, but my panties were ruined." Reported the girl with blue hair.

"Oh. Then did you…"

"I discarded the panties and have gone without them for the rest of the day." She clarified. "See for yourself, Shinji." She offered, stepping back slightly and raising her skirt in the front, giving Shinji a clear view of her bare sex and the fine blue hair above it. Shinji saw that her lips were still moist. Rei considered his expression as he looked at her naked groin. "Do you find my current state of dress to your liking, Shinji?" she asked, her expression somewhat curious. Shinji nodded, his dick stirring a little. Rei noticed the twitch in his pants. "I see. I will be back in a moment." She said, letting her skirt slip back down and heading for the bathroom. Shinji heard the door close, and exhaled lustily.

"Boy, she wasn't kidding about doing whatever she deemed necessary." He mused to himself quietly. Returning to his previous task of getting drinks for the group, he was surprised to hear the bathroom door open a few moments after it had closed. He turned to see Rei entering the kitchen, retying the thin bow on her uniform. "What were you doing in there, Rei?" he asked.

"I was adjusting my state of dress to please you. I wish to know if you are happy with my adjustments." Answered Rei. She stood just in front of him, her right arm behind her back, her right hand gently holding her left elbow and her right leg cocked slightly forward. Shinji studied her for a moment, then noticed that her nipples were visible and her breasts seemed to be a little softer. "Do you approve of the way I look?" she repeated.

"What exactly did you do, Rei? It looks like…"

"I removed my bra. Without it, my breasts appear more natural. Do you…like me like this?" she asked, her cheeks showing a faint bit of color. Shinji nodded, his attention on her stiff nipples. Rei gave him a small smile at his nod and stepped into him, her arms closing around his chest as she pressed herself into him for a hug. Shinji returned the hug, holding Rei to him gently, and feeling her free breasts pressed into his chest. He couldn't help running a hand down to her rear end and caressing her firm rump. In response, Rei's breathing got a little faster. Shinji heard the level of noise from Asuka's room start in increase and knew the other girls would be coming out in a few moments, so he reluctantly pulled back from Rei and kissed her briefly. Understanding that the other girls were going to be arriving soon, she reluctantly stepped away from him and waited as the door to Asuka's domain opened and the three girls came over to the kitchen.

The two NERV technicians running maintenance on Eva Unit 2 were on a coffee break. Or at least, that is what their supervisor thought. In fact, the two technicians - one male and one female - were not drinking coffee, but another hot fluid was involved. Eva 2 was in Cage 3, it's normal cage assignment. Unit 1 was assigned to Cage 2 and Unit 0 had cage 1 in most cases. Even though there was just three Evas currently at NERV HQ, the place had been built to house a squadron of Evas, which meant that there were 12 cages, two banks of six cages each, facing away from a central structural spine. Numbered in sequence from the cage closest to the entry hall, it allowed the Evas to be lined up close together when necessary, but also allowed for isolation and major repair when the Evas were serious damaged, as Unit 0 was after the attack of the Fifth Angel. It had taken until just a week ago to finish those repairs and upgrades, and while the unit was undergoing repair, it had rested in the sixth cage.

Due to the size of the Eva series, the cages were very large, and if someone were to desire privacy, it could be had fairly easily by simply going to an unoccupied cage and descending to the floor area. Which is where the two missing techs were. Having skipped Cage 4, they were currently making the beast with two backs on the floor of Cage 5. With only fifteen minutes to get the job done, they were understandably too busy to notice fine details. The Type 74 Main Battle Tank sitting silently in the corner being a good example of a detail they failed to notice. But just because they had not noticed the tank did not mean that the tank did not notice them.

For Mike, being locked in Cage 5 was sort of like a person being locked in a blimp hanger. Early on, he had explored the cage and, failing to find anything interesting, had decided to nap while he waited for his friends to come back. Being a cat - or the ghost of a cat - allowed Mike the advantage of being able to sleep nearly 24 hours a day. He had been sleeping a lot lately. But now, there were two humans in his cage and he was bored, so he began to play with them. Once more, his cat origins were obvious as he began to stalk the couple, no particular reason necessary. The only thing Mike overlooked was that his current body was not the body his instincts had developed in. And a 56-ton tank was a lot harder to sneak in than a small, light, balanced, lean feline body weighing only a few pounds and equipped with several purpose-built capabilities for stealth and camouflage.

Still, the human desire for sex was not to be underestimated. And the closer that a couple gets to climax, the deafer, dumber, blinder and stupider they get. Right then, the two NERV techs couldn't have seen or heard anything less than a lightening strike; and it could be debated if even that would have been noticed, given their current…status. So it was that Mike got within ten yards of them before they finished and began to regain some measure of mental capacity. As the two rearranged their uniforms, the woman noticed the tank. "Hey, why's there a tank in here?"

"What? A tank?" asked the man, understandably confused as he had not heard any mention of a tank in Cage 5. But, when he looked where his lover pointed, there was in fact a tank there. "Beats me." He shrugged, still in the post-sex bliss mode.

"Was it always there?" she asked, frowning. "I don't recall seeing it there earlier."

"We were busy earlier." He grinned, trying for charming, but coming up short at merely cocky.

"Even so, I think I'd have noticed a tank, don't you?" she persisted. He rolled his eyes, wondering why women were such flakes.

"Hey, babe, it's just a tank. Who cares if you noticed it or not? We've got three minutes to get back to Cage 3 and it's an eight-minute walk. Let's hustle." He retorted, stepping onto the service lift. The woman gave the tank a suspicious look before boarding the lift and starting for the top of the cage, several hundred feet up. Over the sound of the electric winder motors, she thought she heard a `meow?', and cast a furtive glance at the tank below them. It sat there, motionless and silent. I must be hearing things. She thought, turning her attention back to her current squeeze, who was squeezing her tits like they were plush toys. Had she watched a moment more, she would have seen the tank turn and disappear into the darker recesses of the hanger, it's lights flashing briefly.

Once back in his favorite spot, Mike settled himself and returned to his favorite pastime: sleeping.

Celsia would welcome some sleep right now, but wasn't given the option, as she was currently wired up like a Christmas tree and being forced to run on a treadmill. She had stopped yelling curses and threats at everyone nearly a full day ago, saving her energy for when she saw her blonde tormentor. Ritsuko Akagi's appearance always occasioned an eruption in violence and language from the elf, and her vocabulary was gaining by the hour. It was easy for her to pick up new invectives when she was constantly being yelled at by the guards to shut the hell up. It just took too much energy for her to be her normal frenetic self all the time, and they were limiting her food and water supply. She also had yet to receive any clothing more substantial than a paper gown. The guards took advantage of that fact to steal feels and grope her several times during their shifts. Now I know what a melon at the market feels like. She snarled to herself as she panted with the exertion necessary to keep up the pace the machine was forcing on her. Gods, I'm tired enough now that if the guards wanted to rape me, I wouldn't care as long as I could sleep while they did it! Ugh! That's a new low for me. A year ago, I was worried about some sniveling upstart sorceress, and my worst day was when I had to do two services a day. Now, I'd even have sex with a human just to get some sleep! Why does this always happen to me?! About then, she stumbled and was tossed off the belt by the electrically driven machine, pulling many of the leads and test pads off her as she fell. In the monitoring room, Akagi looked up as several machines whined their protest at loosing the feeds from the elf. She had been studying a model of the elf's DNA that the Magi had been assembling with the input from all the doctor's tests. Seeing the gasping elf on the floor, she decided that she would call it a day and spend some time processing the results from the last round of tests.

Pressing a mic stud on her console, she instructed the guards to take the woman to her cell, and to make sure she was securely chained. Celsia didn't even bother to protest at two of the six guards assigned to her picked her up, deliberately grabbing her privates as they did so, and carried her to her cell, which was still the same as it had been when she was first put there except for the cot and the three lengths of super alloy chain that the guards fastened to her neck, right wrist and right ankle. They were long enough for her to move around in the room, but ran out of slack when she was within three feet of the door. Once the guards were sure her restraints were securely locked down, they left; after a final pat to her ass, a squeeze to her tits and a promise to see her again soon, of course. Celsia gave them a half-hearted finger and fell onto the cot, which lacked a mattress or sheets, and was asleep in seconds.

"Yo! Kaji my man, what's the news?" asked Junpei of his forced roommate. "Did you find out where they are?" The agent closed the door to his apartment behind him and tossed his jacket to the back of his ratty old couch. Taking a slice of day-old pizza from the box on the top of his kitchen table, he snagged a can of beer and fell into the equally ratty recliner in his living room.

"Well, Misato is at NERV, and Airi has not left the apartment today. The pilots, your friend Inoue and one of their buddies stopped by for a bit, then went to NERV. My sources tell me that they are at the shooting range right now."

"Yeah, that's Rit-chan alright; she's a gun nut. But at least she's a cute gun nut. But not as cute as miss Airi. Are you sure she's in Katsuragi's crib?" asked Junpei, his spoon poised just above a mammoth bowl of rice curry.

"Yes, she's there, but she won't come to the door, and my card didn't open the lock, so Misa must have changed the access number again. Don't worry, though; I'll get the new code tomorrow." Assured the unshaven spy. He took another bite of the cold pizza and chased it with a big swallow of beer. "Why so curious, Junpei? Worried about her?"

"No, of course not! Miss Airi is capable of taking care of herself. But, you did say that that Ikari guy was staying there with her, right?" Kaji nodded. "Well, he better not try anything with her." Muttered Junpei. Kaji laughed.

"You obviously don't know Shinji. He's the last person on earth who would try anything with her." Chortled Kaji.

"Ah. I thought he sounded like a gay bastard. What kind of candy-ass name is Shinji anyway? He probably wears that Katsuragi chick's clothes, too. Fucking fairy." Said the jock. Kaji stopped chuckling and stared at the new comer.

"Junpei, I like you. And because I like you, I'm going to do you a favor for free. The favor is in this advice, so listen up and listen well. Do not pick on or insult Shinji Ikari anywhere within fifty yards of Misato, or the bridge crew, or his fellow pilots or you will regret it for the rest of your very short life. Also, do not make the mistake of threatening or harming his loved ones, or you'll find yourself tangling with Unit 1. Not even the angels have been able to defeat Unit 1 with Shinji in the entry plug. Do you understand what I'm telling you, Junpei?" said the spy, serious as a heart attack.

"Yeah, I think so. But aren't you worried about your girlfriend being so attached to this pilot? She might dump you for him or something, you know?" Kaji laughed at Junpei's naivety.

"I told you, Shinji is no threat to me or you in regards to our love lives. Can you honestly see Misato or Airi falling for a fourteen-year-old boy over us? Get real! He's so shy he'd faint if either of them so much as kissed his cheek."

"What?! He's only a kid? Hell, I was worried about nothing, then!" laughed Junpei, assured that there was no threat offered by the pilot. After all, no puny kid could compete with his manly charms, anyway.

"Hey, Junpei!" yelled Kaji, checking his watch. "You know what time it is?" he asked, grabbing the remote for his TV, and clicking it on.

"Already? Dude, this is gonna be great!" yelled the white-leather-clad fighter, tossing his bowl of curry down in two bites and snatching a beer from the cold six pack on the floor next to the couch. Kaji snapped his fingers, signaling for a beer and catching the cold, wet can Junpei tossed him as he punched in the channel he wanted and sat back, watching the heaving breasts of the lead actress as she ran down a beach in a bright red swimsuit. "I'm telling you, I love classic shows."

"Yeah, the story lines are so nice and deep." Responded Kaji, his eyes following the bouncing breasts on his screen. "So, what's the game tonight? Each time the girls bend over?"

"Nah, we got shit-faced before the show was over last night. Let's go for every time any of the girls touch each other." Responded Junpei. Kaji considered it, then nodded.

"Sure. Let's do this thing, Junpei." The two drained their cans as one woman touched her fellow lifeguard's arm as she left the station. Both men reached for another can.

Misato watched the information scroll over her screen. "So, you think that the Angels have a papillae stage, is that what all this means?" she asked her friend, Ritsuko Akagi.

"Well, it's a theory that I have been working on for the last couple of weeks. Do you remember when the third angel was hit with the N2 bomb?"

"Yeah." Said Misato succinctly, remembering when her car had been blown over by the shockwave and she and Shinji had had to push it back right side up. The bill for the repairs was still not completely paid. Of course, holding onto Shinji as we rolled was kind of fun. And when we landed, his face was buried in my chest and his hips were pressed to mine. I can think of worse things than having some Shinji time. Thought the Captain, smiling a little to herself.

"Well, you noted that as the angel regenerated itself, another head was seen behind the one we damaged when we hit it with the mine. Well, when I was reviewing the footage, I noticed that there was a smaller mass attached to that new face, and the fourth Angel had a strange chrysalis-like object behind it's core mass and so did the Fifth. There was a mass suggestive of the same in the data gathered from the Sixth. The Seventh was able to transform into two twin masses because of this extra mass, which my theory suggests it instantly grew when it's core split. So, maybe we can capture an angel if we can find it in this immature stage."

"Ok, Ritsu. I got you." Answered Misato, waiting for Akagi to say something more on the subject. But the doctor was just staring at her expectantly. "What?" asked Misato.

"Well?" asked the blonde doctor, her tone petulant and yet strangely disappointed.

"Well, what?" asked Misato warily. Ritsu sighed and handed Misato her clipboard.

"Just sign off on this proposal, Misato." The doctor said, her tone one of long-suffered exasperation. Misato scanned the document for any mention of Shinji, Asuka or Eva units, and, not seeing any, signed off on whatever it was Ritsuko was working on. "Thank you, Misato." Said Ritsuko, tucking the clipboard under her arm and heading for the door to the bridge. "By the way, did I see the kids and one of their friends head down to the armory earlier?" asked the bleach blonde doctor.

"Maybe." Shrugged Misato in a non-committal way. She knew damned well that her charges and their two new buddies were down on the secluded range with pistols, tactical rifles, shotguns and as much ammo as they could hump down there. Rit-chan is probably putting them through a workout that would make most boot camp instructors blush. Thought the dark purple haired Captain. That girl has got some major talent for this. I better stop by and check up on them, though. Shin-chan is not really cut out for her kind of entertainment. Thought and action were one with Misato, since there were no indications of angels and she was bored. Exiting the bridge after telling Hyuga to watch things for her, she headed for the out-of-the-way range and her pilots and their friends.

"Not bad, guys, but you're leaving your flanks open. In the close set houses we're dealing with, you have got to keep watch in all directions and stay where we can support your movements with sniper fire. And that, Asuka, means no Rambo-ing when you're clearing a house. If there are more than thirty opponents this weekend, we're going to run the risk of them using a hard, frontal rush and rolling right over us. The urban environment is too much for us to cover all by ourselves if they get the chance to dig in." said Rit-chan, having just finished running the three pilots through a live-fire tactical retreat and regroup exercise. The girls were dressed in blue jeans and tee shirts, and Rei had been encouraged to change into a pair of sweatpants before they left for NERV, as Rit-chan told her they would be doing this kind of exercise. This was the fifth time the pilots had run this drill and Ritsuko was truly impressed with their teamwork and coordination. It was almost like watching a single organism with three bodies, if it weren't for Asuka's tendency to play commando and Rei's reluctance to leave Shinji's side. Still, the three would mow down many opponents before getting eliminated. And when she considered that there would be sniper support as well, it might just be enough to win.

"Well, excuse me for wanting to win, Rit-chan." Observed Asuka drolly as she reloaded the six 30-round magazines she had expended in the exercise. Rei and Shinji were crouched next to her on the grass, also reloading magazines. Hikari was waiting for her next exercise assignment, a tactical rifle and eight magazines strapped to her in standard military webbing, along with a fully adjusted holster and magazine carrier for her USP and its six back up magazines. It had taken a half hour to get Shinji and Hikari shooting good enough for her purposes with the tactical rifles, and another half hour of instruction and practice to get them used to the correct use of the full-auto mode of fire. Even so, she had been ever vigilant about any of them `sweeping' any of their team mates with their muzzles, and had made them do the first half dozen runs with their guns empty as she watched them move and constantly made them correct their field of fire and coverage so that they were all coving the right areas and none of the barrels ever crossed the body of their team mates. It was a pet peeve of hers when anyone pointed even an unloaded gun at her, and she knew full well what could happen if someone got sloppy with live fire. Fortunately, none of the shooters were trigger-happy half-wits, and the two beginners were extra cautious about the rules for movement and fire.

"Ok. I want to try something new this time. Hikari and I will run the drill with Shinji and Asuka, Rei will be tagged for sniper support and covering fire." She began, seeing Hikari swing her rifle forward and step to the group from where she had stood watching. As she stopped beside Asuka, she selected one of her magazines and slapped it home in the magazine well, but left the chamber empty as she waited for Rit-chan to continue. "Now, when Rei fires the first round, we're going to wheel left and cross to the storefront on our flank, set up a suppressive field of fire and engage any targets in our respective fields. When all targets are down, we will withdraw to starting positions under coving fire from Rei. Understood?" she asked the group. They all nodded. Earlier, Rit-chan had taken a couple of cans of spray paint and painted in a `street' on the grass of the range and marked off buildings and alleys and so fourth. They had been drilling on maneuvering and approaches and patrolling ever since she had pronounced Shinji and Hikari to be sound on Tactical Rifle 101. After some debate, she had chosen not to instruct them in Combat Shotgun 101 at this time, as the challenge had no shotgun weapons available. Hikari had seemed disappointed until Rit-chan had promised to teach her whatever she wanted to know after the challenge. Right now, it was time to work on the movement section of the problem. Ritsuko selected one of the three shotguns and a bandoleer of shells, checking them over to make sure that they were properly seated in their elastic loops and neatly organized. She had taken several boxes of ammo for the combat shotguns, and a few of special purpose ammo, and had spent several minutes setting up the fifty round bandoleers to her liking.

The shotguns were of the type adopted by the militaries of several of the most advanced countries just before the turn of the century. Designated the M1014, manufactured by Benneli for the US armed forces, it was the latest - some claim final - evolution of the combat shotgun. Semi-auto, gas operated, eight shot capacity, fully adjustable stock and nearly impervious to fouling, it was a gun Ritsuko had always wanted to play with. And now she had her chance. It had taken her a lot of practice to learn how to keep a pump-action shotgun eternally loaded, a technique she had read about in books about the operation of Naval Special Forces in Vietnam in the `60s. It involved keeping three shells in-between the fingers of her support hand, the gun on her shoulder at all times, and shoving in shells every time there was a lull in the firing. With an eight round tube, she figured the 1014 would be able to maintain a rate of fire healthy enough to daunt any mass of would-be attackers. Since she was wanting to try this with combat loads, her first bandoleer was loaded with forty rounds of 2