Gendo glared at the agent reporting to him. He was not a patient man, and failure would have to be punished.
"I did not ask for excuses, and if you expect me to believe that a fox can breath fire, you must think I'm either stupid or gullible. I am neither, Agent. You can either submit to a full medical exam to search for traces of whatever psychotropic drugs are having an effect on you, or you can consider yourself fired." Gendo said, glaring at him over his tented fingers.
The Section 2 Agent gulped and asked for the exam. Up until now, it had been a well paid, but lazy and cushy job. He wasn't about to give it up. He thought it was incredibly unfair, but there was so much money involved…
He'd grit his teeth and suck it up.
Kiyone and Misato shared a glance as Shinji stood in the doorway.
"That's Pen Pen. He's a penguin. He's your other roommate" Misato explained
"What's it doing in the shower?"
"You'd have to ask him."
"Are you going to cover that up?" Misato added.
Shinji looked down confused until he realised his state of undress, and turned bright red. He cupped himself and made for the bathroom as quick as possible.
There was a silent moment as Misato sipped her beer and Kiyone stared at where Shinji had been. Misato noticed after a while that Kiyone's tail was wagging very fast after the show they'd been given and thought it odd, but not worth commenting on. Kiyone's head turned, seemingly sensing she was being watched, slowly rotating until their eyes met. At that, Kiyone screeched and scampered through the house.
"Weird fox." Misato said "Though, I suppose I can't talk. It's not like Pen Pen's a normal penguin either… though, Pen Pen did come from the lab."
Shinji watched as Kiyone rolled around and played with Rei, surprised at her behaviour. He'd never seen Kiyone play with other people like that before. She'd accept pats, but she only ever seemed to want to play with Shinji up until now.
Shinji smiled at Rei as she tried to play along, and though she couldn't always keep up with the energetic vixen, she certainly seemed to be enjoying herself.
"You seem to really like Kiyone… I'm always looking for homes for foxes, would you like one yourself?" Shinji asked, causing Rei to suddenly falter
"I- uh… I-..."
"Hey! Ikari! I need to speak to you" one of Shinji's classmates shouted from across the yard. Toji if he recalled correctly.
"Hold that thought, I'll go see what this is." Shinji said as he left to go see what the fuss was about.
Rei narrowed her eyes as she watched Kiyone track Shinji closely with her eyes, the fox's hackles raising slightly as Shinji happily and obliviously walked towards the clearly enraged teen.
Then Rei gasped as she saw Toji punch Shinji in the jaw, with Kensuke just watching the goings on.
Kiyone was out of Rei's arms before she could blink. Toji never saw the streak of orange fur coming until a 10 kilogram ball of fur slugged him in the fork of the legs like a cannonball. Toji froze, standing still as the pained expression slowly crept onto his face.
The vengeful little fluffball screeched at him angrily, before trotting over to Shinji and licking at the quickly forming bruise.
Shinji stood up shakily as Rei approached, barely able to hide her quickened pace and the glare she aimed at Toji.
To Shinji it was a slight frown, but for anyone who knew the girl for any amount of time, her expression was practically murderous.
"Pilot Ikari, I believe you were offering to provide me with a fox of my own?"
"I- was… what was that for?" Shinji said, turning to address Toji
"You see, his sister got hurt in the big monster fight last night." Kensuke said
"How do I go about getting a fox?" Rei presses ignoring the teen who had hurt Shinji and his annoying friend.
"I'll take you to the sanctuary later, Rei, and we'll see if you can pick one out there." Shinji said, patting Kiyone and getting back up.
Rei twitched with indecision for several seconds before grabbing his hand and dragging him away from the potentially dangerous threat of Toji. "We can go now. Neither of us have anything to learn from this level of schooling."
Kiyone gave a rather un-foxlike chuckle as her subtle mental nudges towards Rei took effect.
"Supposedly Shinji's had it since before Nerv was formed." Ritsuko said before taking a drag from her cigarette
"Surely you know more than that."
"I would, but it seems that someone or something is keeping anything resembling a paper trail or accurate information about either of them out of Nerv's hands. We have some older reports that we can see were doctored to hell and back now." Ritsuko said
"Do we know who?" Misato asked
"No. It seems according to all accounts, everything was handled as it should have been, and then some hoodlum sets the place on fire and everything's lost. Every single time." Ritsuko replied
"And I seriously doubt that Kiyone is a wild fox… yet she shows none of the classical signs of a pre-second impact domesticated fox… the skull's all wrong, the ears are too perky-"
"Don't you start too!" Misato cried out
"I'm sorry." Ritsuko apologised
"I got enough of that from Shinji. Please, no more." Misato bemoaned
"Oh, speaking of, apparently it's Doctor Ikari." Ritsuko said
"Shinji has a Ph.D"
"Oh yes. I read his thesis. There was more there than I really ever wanted to know about foxes, but it was well researched and his discovery was rather enlightening." Ritsuko explained
Misato stared at Ritsuko incredulously. "How does a 15 year old get a Doctorate for researching foxes of all things?"
"Shinji successfully completed the research that started in Russia in 1959, and with help from a close friend of his, successfully made a fully domesticated parrot with the genetics he identified in Silver Foxes. In a way, it was a lot like your own research with Pen Pen, helping animals adapt after Second Impact. Shinji was of the mind that domesticating at-risk species would save them from extinction, if everyone who wanted exotic pets..." Ritsuko summarised
"I see… I guess that explains his obsession with foxes…" Misato said
"No, he credits Kiyone with that." Ritsuko corrected
"Of course he does. Where is he now?" Misato asked
"He should be in class right about now, though apparently Rei dragged him to his Fox Village."
"Japan had a fox sanctuary before the second Impact, and Shinji used it as a resource for his studies in fox behaviour and vocalisations. After, Shinji worked to keep it safe from all the fallout, and he currently more or less owns the place." Ritsuko explained
"Where is it?"
"Well, Shinji had it turned into a National Heritage Site not long after they wanted to build Tokyo-3 over it. Legally Nerv's hands were tied, so they built around it. It's in the outskirts if you want to see."
"I guess." Misato said before her phone rang
"Hello?" Misato asked
"Operations Commander, Pilot Ikari has invited you and Ritsuko to meet him at the Fox Sanctuary on the northern end of town." Rei's monotone voice informed them, before hanging up abruptly.
"...Well, he did invite us." Ritsuko said
"We'll take my car. It's faster, in case anything pops up" Misato said
Several hours later, Ritsuko laughed as Misato was slowly overwhelmed by a small horde of foxes, buried under a horde of squirming orange bodies for the simple crime of being the one who had bought a bag of kibble from the kiosk to feed the foxes with.
"They like you Misato!"
"Screw you Ritsuko! Shinji! Help!"
Shinji just shrugged, a big goofy grin plastered over his face at the sight of his happy foxes. "This is about how feeding time usually goes… the keepers do try and stay on their feet though"
"This isn't funny! Help!"
Shinji just laughed happily, before whistling sharply, the horde of foxes quickly swarming over to him for their pats and cuddles.
Misato sat up, hair disheveled with dirt and grass and small sticks stuck in it, the rest of her not faring much better, and covered in a thin sheen from all the foxes licking her.
"Remind me not to do this again."
Everyone paused as the foxes stopped, their ears peeking up and growling slightly at the distance.
Shinji stood up, before whistling sharply. Every fox in the village immediately ran for a series of burrows in the village. At the questioning glances, Shinji said "They know that signal means danger; hide; and they'll flee to the bunker buried under the village... They're smart like that."
Shinji paused as the warning sirens started going off, in time with everyone's NERV issued phones ringing.
Misato stopped attempting to reorder her appearance and raced to her car.
Rei scooped up a three-month-old male kit she'd chose, but had yet to name, and followed suit. She was closely followed by Shinji, Kiyone and Ritsuko.
There was some snickering after a brief observation was shared amongst the technicians: one of them procured a photo of the new Angel, and was crass enough to note it's 'freudian' design.
Shinji ignored them as he climbed into the Entry Plug and prepared himself for the next fight. Shinji fought to make himself relax as the LCL flooded the plug and ionised around him, turning clear and as viscous as air. The umbilical cord was attached to EVA-01's back and Shinji's evangelion was lifted into position and quickly launched upwards.
Shinji arrived via one of the special buildings that housed 'landing' points for the evangelions and stepped out to see the Angel hovering over the city.
Shinji dashed to get some space between himself and the angel, and to put something between himself and the Angel. Shinji 'buzzed' the Angel with repeated bursts from the not-so-minigun he'd been given.
The Angel responded by lashing out with tentacles, grabbing Shinji by the throat and hurling him as far away as possible. Shinji coughed as his throat was released, rubbing the soreness out in time to feel his back impact the forested mountain, the trees only marginally helping with cushioning the impact before they were reduced to matchsticks.
Shinji took stock of the situation. He didn't need to be a genius to figure out this situation was bad… not to mention, his umbilical was out, and he only had three minutes before EVA-01 would shut down on him. He would need to make this quick, and to do that he'd need to ensure he had an upper hand.
Shinji looked for his potential advantage, and found only Toji and Kensuke mere meters from having been turned into paté. Shinji's priorities shifted to include getting those two to safety as soon as possible, and the safest place anywhere in Tokyo-3 was the inside of an EVA.
Ritsuko seemed to reach the same conclusion, and told Shinji to let them in, so Shinji removed the Entry Plug enough for them to get at the access hatch. Their mad scramble, and their hesitance to dive into the LCL only wasted a minute and a half. Shinji had another minute and a half to finish this. Seeing as the rifle was bad for Angels, Shinji changed tactics… invulnerability didn't save one from entrapment, and Shinji spied a nice high-rise parking garage that would do nicely.
Shinji ignored his orders to retreat, pushed through the mental noise of his classmates and stitched a line of rounds that tore straight through the building's foundations. The Garage toppled over and smashed into the angel, trapping it under hundreds of tons of steel and concrete rubble.
The weight wouldn't hold it for long, and already the glowing tentacles had come up and sliced through once, though that didn't save it from the sheer weight being piled on top of it. Shinji charged down the mountain bellowing a warcry, discarding his rifle (and causing a good chunk of property damage) and drawing the large folding knife in his mech's shoulder.
The tentacles lashed out, and punctured Shinji's shoulders, but Shinji ignored it. This thing needed to die, and he didn't have a choice with his momentum. Shinji plunged the knife into the exposed red core and kept pushing and pushing, trying to break it. The tentacles in his shoulders burned, and Shinji wanted to do nothing more than run away, hide and obey Command's orders, but he wouldn't eject. There was no time. Shinji was close enough, he wouldn't lose to this monster.
Toji and Kensuke watched as Shinji screamed incoherently, seeing the pilot pushing more and more on the blade, even feeling a dull shadow of the pain that Shinji was feeling in the LCL.
Then the knife slipped just a little bit lower, and the red gem shattered like glass. Its influence died and the Angel went limp and still under EVA-01, just as the last of the energy in the EVA was used up, and the machine went cold and dead around them. Toji and Kensuke suddenly had a newfound respect and understanding of their classmate. Piloting one of these things was… horrifying, and they could respect Shinji for choosing to continue to pilot it.
They were stuck there for half an hour whilst the entry plug was manually ejected enough to let the three teens escape, only for and orange streak of fur to slam into Shinji's chest and send him back into the entry plug.
Kiyone attempted to lick Shinji's face raw but instead got a tongue full of LCL and made a face of disgust. Shinji pat her as consolation, and cradled her in his arms before someone threw a towel at him.
Misato looked at the scene and mused "God's in his Heaven, all's right with the world"