Part 3: The more things change…

"This sucks." Whined Ritsuko. She was currently in a very empty cell, stark naked and cuffed hand and foot to the back wall. Maybe I shouldn't have opened fire on that thing; whatever the hell it was. Reflected the currently incarcerated teen. Of course, they might have done this any way, in which case, her empting a magazine of armor-piercing slugs at the giant was just a freebie. She sighed, still smelling the acrid scent of spent powder on her skin and hair. It smelled like heaven to her. How was I to know that Airi was going to let us be taken in? And besides, that…thing looked like it wanted a tasty young snack. Having rationalized her trigger-happy outburst, she put the incident behind her. "At least this time, it's not a kangaroo court of vengeful elves. How bad can humans be?" Her attempt at optimism was not particularly effective. Silence reigned for another ten minutes, then: "This sucks."

Just tell yourself that this is just a love scene from one of your movies where the director is a little off. Airi told herself again and again as she stared straight at the camera in the corner of the cell. Like Ritsuko, she too was bare assed naked and cuffed and chained to the back of a cell that was so completely empty that it could barely be called a cell. Airi didn't have a particular problem with nudity or self-confidence, a major asset for an Oscar-winning actress. What she did have a problem with was not getting the fame and attention she deserved for her skills and beauty. Still, she had spent a year in an alien land stripping elven women and could appreciate ironic twists such as this. That thought led to another. I don't get the feeling that this is a land that I would choose to stay in for the remainder of my life. I need to find out what is going on and how to get back to my, no, OUR Japan. To that ends, she remained silent and her mind continued to draw up plans and contingency options. A thought crossed her mind, bringing a small, wry smile to her lips. Who would have thought that life in Hollywood could be such a useful learning tool?

"Don't you assholes know who I am?!?" screamed an extremely irate blonde elf. "I am the high priestess of all common elves, Celsia Marie Claire! When I get out of here, I'll kick your ass for this injustice! Do you hear me!? Get me out of here!" She too was naked, chained and in a bare cell. Unlike Ritsuko and Airi, she was energetically fighting to get free and had tried a few spells, only to find that they failed to work or worked improperly. She decided that she would need more powerful artifacts and her spell book to effectively work magic in this place. And that was a thought that bothered her. If my magic is so erratic here, then how did we end up here? The spell of Returning has to have a stable target or it won't work, which means that magic must be valid in this place, but all my spells are acting strange. What kind of place is this? And who do these humans think they are, locking ME up like some common criminal!! Celsia was trying very hard not to remember her "trial" shortly before they found the last spell fragment. It almost ended with the human's deaths and her lifetime imprisonment; no small matter with a life span as long as hers. She renewed her struggles. "Let me out, you sick human fucks!!"

Junpei, master of multiple martial arts, unmatched in unarmed combat, terror of elven women everywhere (and probably human women everywhere as well), rested quietly, awaiting his chance to make a break for freedom. His condition was the same as his companions, save for his conservation of energy. Indeed, he miserly conserved every erg of energy, focused; waiting for the one opportunity he knew would come. Yes, the single moment when he could break free with his mighty skill and great strength, smashing these foolish dick weeds beneath his heel and saving Miss Airi, his very own damsel in distress, sweeping her off her feet and to safety. Yes, it would doubtlessly crack the shell around her heart and give her the courage to finally admit to him her undying love of him. Heh. He might even be so generous as to save Rit-chan and possibly even that nut Celsia. As the conquering lord of destruction, he would have the ultimate prize: Airi's love and the adoration of women everywhere. But he knew he must be patient and wait for that one, that only chance. So, he rested silently in his prison, waiting for the moment to come. Or for consciousness to return, which ever came first.

"Report." Came the singular command from on high. Misato turned to look up at Gendo's high perch. Like a buzzard waiting for something to die, come the thought from that same small portion of her mind. The rest of her mind was busy organizing her information into a logical report.

"Yes, sir." She began, glancing at her clipboard and then to the screen beside Maya's chair, where the rest of the information was scrolling past. "We have successfully recovered all Eva and their pilots with no real damage to any of them. The Evas are back in their cages, and the retrieval team has reported that the pilots are in medical even now, being checked out for any signs of mental or physical damage from the fight with the 7th angel. Doctor Akagi sees no signs of anything wrong, and I have ordered the Children to stand by incase of trouble with the unknown persons. Rei reported that her Eva took no damage in the retrieval of the tank and the tank is currently in Cage 5, under guard. The techs that examined it said it is a standard Type 74 battle tank, with no signs of anything unusual about it." Misato paused, then flipped a page on her clipboard and continued.

"The four persons taken into custody by Section 2 have been searched and secured in holding cells in the brig pending Doctor Akagi's examination. Section 2 reports that two of their men will need to be placed on medical leave and three others will be on sick leave for a few days from injuries suffered when searching the persons. They are reviewing the personal effects of each of them and have some mixed results. The girl was a walking arsenal. They found she had a fully loaded H&K USP with four magazines, a sheath knife, a couple of grenades, two M1 detonators, a chunk of C4 and three pencil detonators, a pair of compact binoculars and a combat radio in addition to the G36 and three thirty round magazines she used on Unit 0.

"The sword that the second woman had was in fact a real sword, but other than that, she just had a small, but well-rounded makeup kit with her. The man just had a wallet with him, but seems to be a very talented unarmed combatant."

"Is he the one who maimed those agents?" interrupted Gendo, his bearing never changing.

"No, that was the teenager and the third woman during the strip search. The male apparently was knocked unconscious for something he said to the third woman." Replied Misato after a moment of looking over her sheets.

"What was it he said?" queried Gendo.

"It was hard to make out over the gunfire from the girl, but it sounded like something about a killer dog." Was the reply from his Operations Director. Silence. Then, a nod.

"Proceed."

"Yes sir." Was Misato's reply. "The third woman is…well, I'll wait for Akagi to decide what she is."

"What is that supposed to mean, Captain?" came the level command.

"See for yourself." Misato deferred, a sweat drop forming on the back of her head. She waved to Hyuga, who activated the feed from the security camera in Celsia's cell. The blonde woman was still fighting her chains and seemed to be swearing profusely, but the language wasn't familiar to anyone there. "Hyuga, freeze frame." Ordered Misato. He did so and she froze, her pointed ears and cat-slit eyes glaringly obvious. "About all we do know is that she is prone to violence both toward us and the man she was with, she doesn't appear to be human and her waveform pattern is…" Misato trailed off, looking to Maya, who seemed to be fully engrossed in her keyboard.

"What is her pattern, Captain?" demanded Gendo.

"Plaid, sir." Came the reluctant reply.

"I assure you, the MAGI are in perfect working order, Sempai." Maya whispered into her station's small radio mike. "I ran the diagnostic routine four times and it came up clean."

"That is impossible. The MAGI can not expect me to believe that there is even such a thing as a plaid waveform pattern." Snarled a very irate Ritsuko Akagi. "That's not even a real color." She muttered to herself. Her thoughts were interrupted by the PA system, ordering her to the bridge. She took a last gulp of cold coffee and headed for the lift. Halfway up, she muttered one word: "Plaid."

Ritsuko Akagi, head of Project E and possibly the most intelligent person on the planet, didn't even get a chance to get off the lift before her some-times lover began to grill her.

"What do you know about these persons, Doctor?" he commanded. Ritsuko maintained her even gaze as she answered.

"We know that their possessions identify three of them, and that one of them seems to be far different from the rest. The three we have identity for are the young woman, the dark haired one and the man. They are identified as Ritsuko Inoue, age 16, high school student, Airi Komiyama, age 26, actress, and Junpei Ryuzoj, age 21, laborer. The fourth is unknown and none of her things are identifiable. She appears to be an elf."

The bridge crew face faulted. "Did you say `elf', doctor?" asked Gendo, his stance and facial expression unchanged.

"Yes. Elf."

"Elves are mythological creatures, doctor." Stated Gendo.

"Can you prove that mathematically, Sir?" asked Ritsuko. Gendo was silent. "I plan to run a full body of tests on her as well as the others to determine just what she is exactly, but until then, I will have to go with the visual evidence and will refer to her as an elf."

"I see." Mused the commander. "How were the ID's on the others made?"

"They carried normal documents with their names and information on them. In Inoue's case, it was her student ID, credit cards, and diary. In Komiyama's case, it was her driver's license, credit cards and a newspaper clipping of her accepting an Oscar for some movie. Ryuzoj had a company ID on him, apparently his father's company as well as his membership cards for various dojos and gyms. He also had a condom in his wallet with the words `for use with Airi only' written on it." Ritsuko heard a quiet snicker from Misato at that tidbit of info. "Also, the tank was loaded with well-used camping gear, food stuffs and ammo. A lot of ammo, I might add. The crews who checked the tank report that about a half dozen rounds for the main cannon have been used and they even had a couple of tactical nuke rounds in the magazine. All things considered, it's a good thing that we got the tank first."

"Very well. Run the tests. Let me know when you have the results." Ordered Gendo, then rose and departed with Fuyutsuki at his heels.

"Yes sir." Answered Ritsuko. She glanced at her watch. "I can get the basics out of the way today. Misato, you may as well take Shinji and Asuka home; Rei will stand by in case we need the Eva again, and tomorrow is a school day."

"Sure. I'm expecting a lot of flack from Asuka as it is. Do me a favor and keep in touch on this, will you?" asked Misato of her old friend as the two left the bridge and headed for their respective destinations.