Nuremberg largely had been spared both consequences of the Second Impact, the leviathan ecological changes and the presence of NERV. NERV had focused its activities on Munich and Frankfurt, larger cities with greater historical importance. But after the Instrumentality of Man unwound, it was Nuremberg whose historical importance took hold again. The two dozen members of SEELE, NERV and the UN who had been tied to the Instrumentality project--and lived through its abrupt end--were incarcerated in a prison the locals had taken to calling "Spandau", though its namesake was deep underwater. It looked like a ziggurat or a Mayan temple, cut off above the third story. In its walls were the prisoner's cells; in the middle was an exercise yard. Watch towers and barbed wire fence surrounded the prison, protecting the 50,000 inhabitants of Nuremberg. But it was all for show. The prisoners had nowhere to go to but the gates of Death. So they repaid their debt to humanity. It was to the exercise yard that Shinji was taken. Gunter Lieberman was a tall, imposing man of about 55. He was showing the effects of age: he was paunchy, and the cheap cigarettes he smoked had given him a persistent cough. With a meaty hand he gestured to a rickety chair set up on the concrete. "You can wait here if you like." "No, thank you," said Shinji. "I'd rather stand. He can have it." "Very well. I'll go and bring him out for you." Lieberman walked to the far end of the yard jingling a ring of keys. Shinji wondered at the anachronism--was having technology so primitive another way of punishing the guilty? He glanced around. The doors of the cells seemed to be of metal with tiny peepholes at the top. Were they uninsulated concrete on the inside? What did it feel like to be a prisoner here? Shinji saw his father from afar. Ikari Gendo was dressed in a grey jumpsuit. He wore chains on his ankles, and his right wrist was chained to a belt around his waist. He shuffled as he walked. In the eight years since Shinji had seen him, his hair had started to whiten. His hair and beard were now better groomed than they had been when he was commander of NERV. He looked thin. Lieberman seated the older Ikari in the chair and said flatly to Shinji, "Take all the time you want. We'll collect him when you're done." "I understand." The security man left them. Shinji and Gendo looked at one another, silent for a moment in their world of sterile concrete. "Father," Shinji said, bowing. "Shinji," Gendo said, nodding his head. "It's been a very long time." "Yes, eight years." Glancing to the door he had looked at a moment before, Shinji asked, "How are you being treated? Is your quality of life good?" "All things considered, yes," Gendo replied. "I have three bland meals a day. I have one hour of exercise three times a week, in this yard. Usually I jog. In my own room I practice calisthenics, and I meditate." He cleared his throat. "I've received your New Year's cards, but always late. You're working now, aren't you?" "Yes, in advertising." "I never would have imagined that." Behind the lenses of his father's glasses, Shinji thought he saw a flash of something. Amusement? "How is the advertising business going for you?" "Well. Actually, quite well. Maybe I can send you some of my work." Gendo shook his head. "I don't think you'll be able to. I've reason to think they destroy most of the mail I get." "Oh." Shinji fell silent in defeat, but then ventured, "Maybe I can bring some with me, if I get to visit you again." Gendo made no reply. Undeterred, Shinji went on. "Hokkaido's a really nice place to live, actually. There's a nice park where I live, and there's a local symphony. I met the conductor after one of their concerts, he's a nice sort of fellow. I could try playing with them, it would be nice, if work doesn't take up too much of my time. I don't know what the future will be like..." "It will be nice," muttered Gendo. Shinji went quiet in an instant. Ikari Gendo was staring off at some place far away that Shinji's body just happened to be blocking his view of. Gendo snarled, "Nothing like this was supposed to happen. There was a plan. Yes, there were a few flaws with it, there were difficulties. But each and every one fell, like trees under the ax. Right up until I stepped into Lillith's hangar, I had not come up against one--NOT ONE problem that was unaccounted for, that I couldn't handle. Then I walked into that room..." "Yes." "And do you know what I saw there?" "You saw me, and the EVA." "I saw you and the EVA helping Lillith down from the cross." Gendo gazed at Shinji with a look of fire. "The last thing I remember is two hands reaching out for me. Two hands...my God, they were so large, and so fast." Shinji said quietly, "That's the last thing I remember too, Father. Well, I remember that Lillith grabbed you. But after that, everything's a blank." "A blank, eh?" "Yes." "You don't know how we got out?" "No." "We had been missing for two days. Lieutenant Ibuki struggled out on her own, and those two UN soldiers weren't in the Geofront proper. We made it to the outside world, arm in arm, suffering from dehydration and malnourishment but without a single scrape or scratch on our bodies. Apart from my arm, that is. How did we do it, Shinji?" "I don't know." Gendo grunted. "Let me give you a question that I HOPE you can answer, Shinji. Why did you do it? Why did you let Lillith go free? And I want you to start from the beginning." Shinji was feeling weak. He sat down on the hard concrete and closed his eyes to concentrate. "I was angry. That's where it all started." "Mm-hm." "I was angry at the whole world. Kaworu, the Seventeenth Angel, he was my friend. He felt the pain I was going through. He cared about me unconditionally, he accepted me for who I was. I'd never felt so happy as when I was with him. I was scared by it, but I loved it." "Then you killed him." "Yes, I had to kill him. I deserved to be the dead one. He was so strong and beautiful, and I was...you know what I was like. I was mad at everything and everyone for the state of my life." "So what did you do then?" "I thought...I started thinking that if Kaworu was such a wonderful person, maybe the Angels weren't so bad. Yes, they attacked the city, they killed people, but maybe there was a reason for it all." Gendo nodded. "And when you were down in Lillith's hangar chasing after the Angel, you'd seen her there on the cross." "Yes." "So you thought of asking her about Angels." "Yes." "Why did you take Unit-01?" "Because I was impatient. Because the only way I knew to get down there was through a hole in the floor. Because I wanted to make everyone in the Geofront angry with me." "You didn't know about the UN invasion?" "No, I didn't." Shinji sighed. "I probably would have done everything the same anyway. It didn't matter to me." "So while we were all distracted with the United Nations assault force, you took EVA-01 on a joyride." "Yes." "You made it down safely, I presume. Tell me what happened then." "I remember it vividly, but...it's hard to explain. You could say, I talked to Lillith." "You talked with her?" "Yes, but not in words, or even images. In concepts. I had ideas in her presence like I've never had before. It was an entirely different way of perceiving reality." "That stands to reason," replied Gendo. "What did you 'talk' about, as it were?" "Everything. What the Angels are. Their relationship to humans. Adam. Lillith herself. The experiments that were conducted in the Antarctic...she told me that you knew you were vivisecting a sentient being when you began." "We did know, yes. But we had to know about the Angels." "I'm sure," said Shinji without listening. His eyes were watering with the memory. "So much pain she told me about. Finally, she reached a stopping place, and I said that I wanted no more. I told her that I would let her go if the Angels would leave us be." "That must have been when I came in." "About then, I suppose." "You took Lillith down from the cross." "Yes. She tore off your arm..." "...because that's where I had implanted Adam." "And then she left." "She took the force of God with her as she left." Father and son fell silent for several minutes. Shinji broke the spell when he asked, "What more do you want to talk about?" "What more is there to talk about?" said Gendo. Shinji swallowed hard. "It's funny...I'd wanted to talk to you for so long, but now that we're here together I don't want to actually say anything to you." "That's the way things are, I suppose." A moment later, Shinji stood and bowed to his father. "Thanks for talking to me, Father. We should do this more regularly." "Yes, I agree." Gendo got to his feet before bowing to his son. "Please come and visit me again. And tell Rei, if you see her, to visit also." "Actually, Father," said Shinji, "I don't know where Rei is. I haven't seen her." "No? How sad. She must have died in the Geofront." "Well, goodbye." "Goodbye." Shinji turned around and walked to the door he had come in from, looking for Commander Lieberman.