Chapter 30:

Round two ( Part 1: A time for the two of them )

The Dusk of Revenge

    The pitch-black sky rumbled with apparent displeasure from time to time while an astounding downpour fell.

The sound of water flowing along gutters into drains was slowly transmitted to my ears. In concert with the pitter patter of raindrops falling on the floor through the leaking ceiling, a symphony was being played.

While listening to these sounds, I was lying down in an old concrete factory in the vacant area in the east of the dome covering the Meguro ward, 3Km away from the location that I got from the code.

The humidity was very high, and the air temperature had risen a bit. To me, this sort of weather was more comfortable than the crazy hot temperature or the icy cold one.

Whenever I turned, the leftover chemical dust under my back would fly into the air, hence I tried to stay still and keep the same posture as much as possible.

Sleeping on the floor of the dark factory where the windows remained tightly shut, I felt like I was almost becoming a corpse.

Lying face up, my hands were clasping on top of my chest, imitating the dead even though I was still alive.

Earlier, I had agreed with Rin already to spend the entire rest of the day recuperating properly for my wound to heal.

Although I wanted to go immediately to the Red Claws hideout and end this thing once and for all, my body's condition couldn’t take the strain regardless of the impulse in my heart.

After refilling my calories, this type of useless thought was impossible to stop. Trying deliberately not to think was really a tough task.

I didn’t have the slightest idea that Rin ignored my orders and followed me immediately after I left.

The moment I reached this factory to wait for the night to arrive, Rin was standing right behind me. She was very lucky since I couldn’t use the car all the way to Meguro. I didn’t know if they had a tracking system on it or not, so I continued walking all the way to that factory.

The silence made me think again that I should’ve really gone alone to face the enemies. My inability to forget about revenge is the direct reason behind the results we got in the last mission. If I didn’t take Karuizawa to interrogate him alone and instead I stuck with the group, we wouldn’t have fallen into the enemy trap in the first place. We were about to get wiped out at that time.

At that point, I noticed that I seemed to be deliberately avoiding thinking about what happened in the hospital. I suddenly felt the corners of my eyes heat up as tears slid across my cheeks. It was a moment of weakness… Remembering what happened in the first day of the terrorist attack six year was really hurtful.

At that exact moment, I heard footsteps from downstairs. I frantically wiped my tears and pretended to sleep. Soon the rusted door's hinges made a grinding sound.

Even without turning my head over, I was able to tell that it was Rin who had entered.

“Shinji, are you awake?”

“Do you want something!” An unhappy tone was easily noticeable when I answered.

Rin couldn’t help but mutter then finally sighed lightly and shook her head.

“I'll help you change your bandages and wipe your body. Take off your clothes.”

Without waiting for an answer, she reached out to my back and removed my uniform and shirt then scrubbed my back.

I was unable to resist at all.

Feeling the cold sensation of a moistened handkerchief moving back and forth on my back, I couldn’t bring myself to say that tomorrow was going to be the final decisive battle.

“You're really covered in scars.”

“I remember this was a wound from the time I was a trainee in the first squad and joined the battle for the first time in my life. Over here was from the Tokyo power jamming incident two years ago when we participated as a supporting team with the civil security department. This one was left behind from the Setagaya retrieval mission."

I pointed them out one by one. None of those battles had been easy. Each time we get a more important mission than its previous, I get more wounds. Some of them were serious…

Suddenly feeling something soft and warm pressing against my back, I could not help but straighten my spine. Only after a while did I realize it was Rin's face.

“Sorry. You had to go through a lot in the last mission because of me!”

Silence descended without warning.

I looked at the ceiling then to the side at Rin's face, making a decision in my heart.

“It’s okay. Let me sleep.”

Without waiting for her answer, I switched off the flashlight and lay down, using my arms as a pillow.

I felt that Rin was hesitating to say something, staring at her own breath. In the end, she lay down with the sound of clothing friction.

I opened my eyes wide in the darkness, staring at the slightly pale ceiling…

Despite resting for two days, my body was utterly tired but even so I couldn’t bring myself to sleep just like that.

By the time my arms were numb from serving as a pillow, I was able to sense Rin sleeping soundly from her breathing. Only then did I seize the opportunity to sit up silently.

I took out a small pen and note paper from the back pocket of my pants. Tearing a piece of paper off, I wrote by touch in the darkness.

Although it was too dark to check the contents, I still placed the note next to Rin and silently stood up. Just as I was tiptoeing, intending to leave the ruins, a flashlight's beam suddenly shone over. I covered my face as the flashlight was aimed at me directly.

“Where are you going?” Rin asked with an extremely cold tone.

I couldn’t find the words to answer, only staring back at her in silence.

Noticing the note near her pillow she picked it up and read it.

“...What, is this?”

Rin's eyes narrowed sharply as the temperature of her voice completely froze. She was definitely angry at that moment.

“Return to the Shinagawa ward!” She read the note loudly then glared at me.

“Stop joking around!”

“I'm not joking.”

“Are you trying to escape from me?”

“Rather, you must escape from me.”

After a moment's pause, I continued.

“Rin you do understand that we’re acting without any permission of the higher ups! If you continue to follow me like that wherever I go you will just lose your position and get fired!”

The cold expression on her face turned slowly into a sad one as she stared at me silently. That made me feel a bit guilty trying to push her back to safety, but it didn’t manage to shatter my resolve.

“The enemy is just stronger this time. I don’t want to put you into meaningless danger! Shall I remind you that we’re heading toward the most dangerous terrorist group hideout tomorrow?”

I deliberately used a harsh tone of voice to scare her. However, Rin's next reaction completely exceeded my expectations.

“So, you were trying to disappear on me just like that?”


Rin's expression was extremely sad. Her eyes, looking upwards, were blurry from tears.

I looked at a window next to me to see that the weather was getting worse by the second. With the thought of postponing my leave for a bit, I walked slowly and sat next to her. I sighed deeply then asked: “You have something you want to say?”

She bowed her head as she sat silently then looked at me. “Just because we had the same name it doesn’t mean that I will make you live through the whole thing again!”

I looked at her with a surprised face: “You knew about Rin?”

She smiled a bitter smile then responded: “So you do not remember after all! And here I thought you remembered what happened 6 years ago! And got a bit excited…”

“I was told that you and I have met before, in the attack, but I didn’t remember when exactly!”

“You saved me back then! I was lost, scared, and my human senses were about to disappear… Do you remember a girl that came to you when you were sitting alone with Rin’s dead body in your hands?”

Our gazes met. After staring for who knew how long, I shut my eyes and slowly exhaled through my nose trying to hide the mixed feeling that I had at that moment.

“You can say then that we saved each other at that time!”

A puzzled expression appeared on her face as I continued talking: “There will be a proper time to go into details and that’s definitely not now.”

Slowly comprehending what my words meant, Rin's face brightened up. She originally opened her mouth, intending to say something but in the end shut her lips and lowered her head, barely managing to squeeze out an "Okay."

“So, you don’t mind being fired?” I asked to change the topic.

“You’re the one who said that you have confidence in my acting skills after all.” A cheerful smile appeared on her face as she continued: “We can start over with something else!”

After a moment's pause, she continued with a different tone: “I informed the other about the plan before entering… Shuna said that they will join us in an hour.”

The rapid development made me speechless. I hastily searched for words to say to finally answer while scratching my head: “So, my plan is really turning out to be the second part of the mission!”

Just at that moment, I suddenly sensed intense killing intent and picked up my coat that contained my guns and quickly held my sword with my right hand.

Rin also realized half a beat later. A serious expression was printed all over her face as she immediately activated her special weapon.

"Shinji, they're coming."

"Yeah. How nice of them not wasting our time!"