The Ninth Angel is spider-walking its way through Tokyo-3. It goes unopposed for several shots. Tokyo-3's alarms are blaring in the background. The Angel stops, and is about to let loose its acidic vitreous humour when the scene switches to Misato in NERV control.
Unit 02 comes out of a hiding spot and leaps towards the Angel. It's carrying a new weapon, the Progressive Katana. Unit 02 cuts through a leg as it sails through the air and comes to land, skidding to a halt on one knee. The Angel buckles as it loses some of its support, just as Unit 01 comes out the opposite direction and takes out the opposing leg with a similar blade. Losing half of its legs, the Angel unexpectedly collapses where it stands. Unit 00 then leaps off a nearby building, delivering the killing blow as it lands upon it. Unit 00's Progressive Katana spears the Angel straight through the center.
All is silent.
Back at NERV control, Misato turns to Kaji, Juri, and Ritsuko.
Juri to Ritsuko: Progressive Katana. Very nice.
Misato to Ritsuko: I'd say that's a successful field test.
Ritsuko: That remains to be seen. I had to push very hard to get the budget approved to make them, and a blade that size is likely to prove unwieldy against something that gives them any more opposition than this Angel did.
Kaji: The pilots will probably be more effective with them than the Prog' Knives though, considering their training.
Ritsuko: There's also the problem of portability. The Progressive Knives can be housed in the Evangelions' shoulder harness, but the Katana, if not carried directly into battle, must be delivered through the launch tracks like the rifle.
Juri to Ritsuko: Don't underestimate what having a weapon closer to what they are familiar with may mean to them, Akagi-san. Being more comfortable with their tools might mean a higher-synch rate in combat.
Switch to Asuka, Utena, and Shinji are walking down a street in Tokyo-3. Asuka is walking ahead of the other two, carrying her book bag behind her shoulder with one arm.
Utena (quietly) to Shinji: It's been two weeks since she fought the Angel alone and she's still keeping to herself.
Shinji (quietly) to Utena: At least she's been showing up to all our tests and training. Wakaba said she's been missing class lately.
Asuka: You don't have to talk about me behind my back, you know.
Utena to Asuka: We're just worried about you.
Asuka to Utena: I don't need you to worry about me. I'm fine.
Switch scenes: Asuka is now walking into her dorm room. She sits on her bed, wrapping her arms around her knees and resting her chin atop them. She is still holding her book bag; it rests on her legs.
Brief flash: Asuka seeing Kaji and Misato together.
Asuka's fingers clench tightly.
Flashback: Inside the Entry Plug as Unit 02 is swallowed by the Eighth Angel. Asuka screams in terror and she begins yanking on the controls.
Asuka (thought): I don't want to die, I don't want to die!
The Angel detonates as Unit 02's AT-Field expands from within.
In the present, Asuka closes her eyes and buries her face against her knees.
Flashback: Asuka is watching Unit 02 being carried back to the cage. Juri walks up behind her.
Juri to Asuka: Are you alright?
Asuka to Juri: Did Ritsuko or Misato send you to talk to me?
Juri to Asuka: No, I just wanted-
Asuka to Juri: Just doing your job, Juri-san? Coming to console me so that you don't lose another pilot like you lost Miki?
Juri to Asuka: No, that's not it, I-
Asuka to Juri: Don't worry about me. I don't need your sympathy.
Asuka walks off, leaving Juri there alone.
In the present, Asuka is shaking now.
Flashback: All three pilots are in their plug suits, being addressed by Ritsuko and Misato before getting into the Entry Plugs.
Ritsuko: We're going to allow you to field-test the new Progressive Katana against this Angel.
Misato: Remember the plan. Asuka-san, you take out the left balance. Shinji-kun, you take the right. Utena-san, you're to position yourself above the Angel for the killing blow.
Asuka: Why does she get to do that?
Misato: Currently, because her synch-ratio has been the highest, and since we're using an experimental weapon, we're going with the greatest possibility of success.
Utena (just a scene earlier): We're worried about you.
Back in the present, Asuka throws her book bag across the room. It smacks into something we don't see, but we hear glass shattering.
Asuka: Pathetic...everyone's so concerned...so worried...treating me like some fragile child...Kaji...am I nothing special here...already defeated?
She looks over at where the book bag landed. It shattered one of her mirrors. Still stuck into the corner of the mirror frame is a letter that looks identical to the one Rei received last episode. She looks up at it questioningly.
Juri (off): Next!
We hear the clashing of epees as the scene switches, then applause. We are now in the Ohtori Fencing Gym.
Juri (off): Next!
Another clashing of metal as we scan the awed faces of the fencing team. When the clashing is over, some of them clap.
Juri (off): Next!
Clashing of metal again.
Male fencer: How many is that now?
Female fencer: Fifteen.
Male fencer: Fifteen?
Female fencer: Mmm-hmm. Without a break.
Clashing ends. They applaud.
Male fencer: She quits the team, is rarely seen around school, and suddenly she just pops back in and defeats the entire squad without breaking a sweat.
Juri takes off her mask, looking at everyone.
No one steps forward. Everyone just looks at Juri likes she's some kind of juggernaut that ran over them.
2nd Male Fencer: You've beaten us all, Arisugawa...sama.
The team chuckles as someone actually refers to Juri with that honorific. Despite herself, Juri can't help chuckling once herself, but her amusement doesn't last long.
Juri: Sorry, I...
Juri looks down briefly, then straightens, collects her gear, and walks out.
Female fencer: Arisugawa-sempai at a loss for words? What do you think is wrong with her?
In the locker room, Juri changes clothes and begins walking home.
Utena (off): Ayanami?
Switch scenes: Utena is at Rei's apartment. She is wandering through; it is still and devoid of noise.
Utena is now at the Rose Garden. Rei is not there, either.
Utena: Not here. Not at home. Has missed some school. I wonder where she has been.
She sighs and walks out. As she is walking home, she runs into Juri. The two of them walk together.
Juri and Utena simultaneously: You look like-
They stop. Utena chuckles.
Utena to Juri: You first.
Juri to Utena: You look concerned, Utena-sama.
The use of -sama humors Utena. She chuckles and nods.
Utena to Juri: Maybe I am, Juri-sama.
Juri smirks and nods.
Juri to Utena: It appears that my friendship with you has given me royal station.
Utena to Juri: Yes. We are the Two Princes, as it seems.
Juri to Utena: How did that get started, anyway? I thought it was merely some term of affection that Shinohara-san used with you.
Utena looks down, uncertain how to begin. Despite her pride in her uniform, nobility, etc, it's obvious Utena is a little embarrassed talking about it with Juri.
Utena to Juri: You see...I don't know how to say this...I've had this (holds up the hand with the Rose Signet) since before I became a pilot.
Juri to Utena: What?
Utena to Juri: I didn't even know anyone had one until I saw Ikari's. That's why it was a surprise for me when he said all the pilots have them.
Juri to Utena: But only the pilots have them. They were created specifically for Project E, a key to activate Eva.
Utena to Juri: But I was given mine as a very young girl, by a Prince.
Juri to Utena: A Prince?
Utena to Juri: When he gave it to me, he told me never to lose my nobility. And that one day, this ring would lead me to him. I guess some part of me wanted, and still wants, to be like that Prince. I told that story to Wakaba...I guess it got started from there.
Juri to Utena: That's why you wear a boy's uniform? Why you pilot Eva? Because you want to be a Prince?
Utena to Juri: I know it sounds strange. And here I am now, at this school, piloting Eva with others who wear the ring also, but were given theirs when they became pilots. I don't understand it all. Something's missing.
Utena looks at Juri after a slight pause.
Utena to Juri: Why do you still wear yours?
Juri to Utena: Mmm?
Utena to Juri: You have a ring too, but you're not one of the pilots.
Juri's expression darkens.
Juri to Utena: You know about me, then.
Juri to Utena: Asuka told you?
Utena to Juri: No, Misato.
Juri looks away from Utena.
Juri to Utena: I suppose I feel closer to what we're doing if I keep it on. To the pilots, and why I got involved with NERV in the first place.
Utena to Juri: Why did you want to pilot Eva?
Juri is unable to look at Utena.
Brief flashback, Juri is speaking with Shinji in the infirmary.
Juri to Shinji: You've never given any thought to exactly what it means to pilot Eva, and you don't care about the people that will get hurt if you do not pilot it.
Utena to Juri: We aren't that different, are we?
Juri doesn't respond immediately. As we watch them walking off, she eventually replies.
Juri to Utena: I suppose not.
Juri (coy): Utena-sama.
Juri to Utena: What were you going to ask me about?
Utena to Juri: ...I forgot.
Switch to SEELE conference. Present are Gendo, Keel, Akio, and four unnamed others. Mikage is visible in the background.
Unnamed One: You're wasting our funding on the Evangelion project, Ikari-kun.
Unnamed Two: The weapons development budget had already been allocated before your Dr. Akagi proposed this new item.
Unnamed Three: Already with the production of Units 03 and 04 in the United States, there is little room left for pet projects like that one.
Gendo: The new weapon will help prevent further withdraws on the repair and maintenance budget. In the use against the Ninth Angel, the pilots were able to defeat the target in less than 40 seconds without sustaining any damage themselves.
Akio: Which is why I agreed to fund the development. Please be careful not to make me regret it.
Keel: I feel you are neglecting your true duty, Ikari-kun. We will not sanction any delay of the Human Revolutionary Project that is a result from the return of the Angels.
Misato's apartment. Kaji and Misato are having dinner. Misato places two instant meals on the table. Kaji looks down and chuckles.
Kaji to Misato: Still haven't learn to cook properly, have you?
Misato eyes Kaji warily.
Misato to Kaji: It's generally not considered polite of the guest to criticize the food before tasting it.
Kaji to Misato: Rit-chan already warned me against eating here on nights when Shinji wasn't cooking.
Misato to Kaji: Ha-ha. She speaks too much on such things.
Kaji tastes the food, and looks shocked by how it tastes.
Kaji (quietly): Maybe not.
Misato to Kaji: What did you just say?
Kaji to Misato: Nothing, nothing! It's fine.
Misato sits. The two of them eat in silence.
Misato (quietly): We can't keep doing this.
Kaji to Misato: I half-expected you to say that. Is that why you invited me over?
Kaji to Misato: You didn't seem too quick to send me away yesterday.
Just then we hear the outside door opening. Misato and Kaji look in that direction.
Shinji (off): I'm home, Misato-san!
Shinji walks into the kitchen, sees Kaji and Misato together, and pauses.
Shinji: Oh, I'm sorry. Forgive me.
Kaji to Shinji: You should have brought Shinohara-san with you, Shinji.
Shinji grins sheepishly and blushes.
Kaji to Shinji: We could have had a double date.
Misato fumes a little.
Misato: This is not a date.
She then looks inquisitive.
Misato to Shinji: Is Wakaba-san your girlfriend, Shinji-kun?
Shinji blushes again.
Shinji to Misato: Misato! I...well...that is...
Misato's eyes narrow playfully.
Misato to Shinji: You know it's love when you can't speak straight.
Shinji grins sheepishly again and walks out.
Misato to Kaji: This is still not a date.
Kaji to Misato: Whatever you say.
Shinji walks into his room and lies on his bed. He looks up at the ceiling, arms folded under his head.
Shinji (thought): It's hard to believe how much has changed since I've come here. I thought I would be scared. I thought it would be just like before. I have friends.
Images quickly of Toji, Juri, Kensuke, Kozue and Utena.
Shinji (thought): People who care about me.
Images quickly of Miki and Misato.
Shinji (thought): And...
Image of Wakaba.
Shinji (thought): I'm not alone. I belong here. I'm...happy. I am happy.
Misato (off): That's not fair! Don't say things like...oh...
Shinji chuckles, turning his head towards the noise. As he does, he sees fastened to the inside of his door a letter like Asuka just received.
Switch scenes. Dark room, we hear the tapping of a keyboard. Pan across until we see Saionji before a computer terminal, the room otherwise is dark. It looks like a library of some kind. Watching him scroll down the screen, it becomes obvious that he is reading archived newsprint. Eventually he comes to a headline that says, "Freak Fire Claims 100 Lives at Private School." The photo of the school in the article appears to be the Ohtori Academy, though it's obviously not located in Tokyo-3. Saionji leans back in his chair.
Saionji: Before the Second Impact...
Switch scenes. Utena and Juri are now at Juri's apartment. Each of them go to their separate bedrooms. We don't see either of them after they go into their bedrooms.
Utena (off): Whose turn is it to prepare tea?
Juri (off): Yours.
Utena (off): Okay, just give me a minute.
Inside Utena's room. She sets down her book bag, stretches (as an athlete might stretch, not just casually). As she rises to leave, she sees a letter (again, similar to Asuka's) on her desk. She tilts her head, walking over to it. She picks it up, breaking the wax seal and begins reading it. We can't see the words (we see the back of the letter), but Utena's eyes get very big as she reads it. Reading the letter as she walks, she moves out of her bedroom.
Juri (off): ...what?
Juri enters the room as she speaks her next line simultaneously as Utena says hers. We don't see all of Juri yet.
Utena and Juri: Did you...
They both stop. Utena looks slowly up at Juri from her letter. Juri is holding one exactly like it, opened and read, looking at Utena with eyes about as surprised as Utena's are.
Akio (off): Did it work, I wonder?
Switch scenes: Akio is standing atop the tower of the Ohtori Academy, as we saw him in episode V. He holds a rose in his hand as he looks out across the schoolyard.
Akio: Certainly, the Second Impact changed everything. So little time remaining.
Image of Shinji reading his letter now.
Akio (off): Had she not ended her life, perhaps I would not have had to take such a risk.
Image of Asuka reading her letter now.
Akio (off): Time would have been on my side, instead of working against me.
Back to Akio in the tower.
Akio: Not my first choices, obviously. One often must force the clay to conform to one's desires. Perhaps there is a yet a star amongst them, waiting to shine.
We see a stained glass window, tinted a light blue, with the word Secours at the top.
Akio (off): I did not, for example, expect the youngest to fall so quickly.
Flashback: We see clips of Unit 00, with Miki piloting, getting hammered by the Third Angel. We then see clips of Unit 01, with Shinji piloting, save the day and defeat the Angel. Then back to the Secours window.
Akio (off): But a surprise is a surprise, nonetheless.
The window retains its color, but the word is now Fraternité.
Akio: Who'd have thought, though, that that one would have continued to shine?
Flashback: We see clips of Unit 01, with Shinji piloting, defeat the Fourth Angel as Shinji thinks about Miki.
Back to Akio.
Akio: But the next time, it would not be his turn.
The window is now pinkish, with the word Devoir at the top.
Flashback: We see clips of Unit 00 in front of Unit 01 as they fight the Fifth Angel, Utena piloting. The AT-Field of Unit 00 expands and deflects the particle beam.
Back to the window.
Akio (off): Was that the power of Dios, one must wonder? Is it possible when the true game has yet to begin?
The window changes to a reddish-orange, with the word Reconnaissance.
Akio (off): Neither of them would be involved in the one that followed.
Flashback: We see clips of Asuka defeating the Sixth Angel, complete with Asuka-in-training flashback that occurred just before she struck.
Back to Akio.
Akio: Precision. Competence. Clarity. A natural duelist.
The window is again reddish-orange, now it reads: Coopération.
Akio (off): Or so it might have appeared.
Flashback: We see clips of the horribly awkward battle against the Seventh Angel, particularly those with Asuka running off alone, and then Utena telling Shinji to help Asuka and Asuka refusing to be helped at Utena's request.
Back to the window.
Akio (off): Perhaps she redeemed herself when opportunity was next presented.
The window retains its color, the text changing to Survivance.
Flashback: Asuka fights the Eight Angel alone, Unit 02 gets swallowed whole, and lives as the AT-Field expands to blow up the Angel from inside.
Back to the window.
Akio (off): But is she strong enough to see it to the end?
The window changes back to pinkish, the text now Potentialité.
Akio (off): The field belonged to the other the last time.
Very brief flashback: The three Evas/pilots defeat the Ninth Angel, but it is Unit 00/Utena that gets the kill strike.
We see the windows lined up, then pan across them as Akio speaks: Secours, Fraternité, Devoir, Reconnaissance, Coopération, Survivance, Potentialité.
Akio (off): Aid, Brotherhood, Duty, Recognition, Cooperation, Survival, Potential. It might be said that each of them hold two victories, if they understood where this path might lead them.
Back to Akio.
Akio: And if those duels weren't anything more than shortcut. A convenience, you might call them.
Brief flash then, of Utena gripping Unit 00's controls, the Rose Signet visible against the sensor (ep 4). Then the Rose Signet on Miki's hand as he is pulled from the Entry Plug (ep 1). Then Shinji's as he holds it up to Utena (ep 7). Asuka's as she holds the railing of the carrier (ep 8).
Akio (during Signet montage): A way of killing the proverbial two birds with a single stone.
He looks down, seeing Juri and Utena walking across the courtyard. Focus on Juri for a moment.
Akio (off): Still, there are others yet untested who might best them all-
Back to Akio. It is obvious now, if it hasn't already been, that he is not talkiing to himself. We cannot see whom he is speaking to.
Akio: -now that the warm-up is over, and the true game may begin.
Akio turns his back to the window of the tower, now looking inside.
Akio: Perhaps it might even be you. Which will walk the path to the Duel Named Revolution...
Switch scenes: we now see Utena and Juri as they are walking towards the forest where Rei went last episode.
Juri: The letter said the forest behind the Academy.
Utena: But nobody is allowed in there.
Juri: Apparently we are.
As they reach the stairway leading up to the gates to the forest, they are met there by Shinji, and then by Asuka.
Utena: Soryu-san? Shinji-kun?
Shinji: Arisugawa-sempai? Did you also-
Before Shinji can finish, all four of them produce their letters. They allow no one else to read them, but each can see that they are similar.
Asuka: I see. All of us, then.
Asuka turns to Juri.
Asuka to Juri: I can understand why Tenjou and Ikari are here, but why'd you get a letter?
Juri glares at Asuka. Shinji is the first to realize that everyone there, including Juri, is wearing a Rose Signet and holding a letter with a rose wax seal. Soon after, everyone sees it too.
Shinji: I wonder if Miki got a letter?
Utena: Or Ayanami?
Juri and Asuka both look at Utena, but Utena doesn't elaborate.
The four of them turn to the gate. Just as Rei found, there is no ready door there. Just the handle.
Switch scenes for a moment: We see Saionji in the library. He looks up from the computer, and sees out the window in the distance the four duelists at the gate to the forest. This intrigues him; he gets up and walks to the window for a better look.
Back to the gate. The four of them look at the handle.
Juri: Who wants to do it?
Shinji: I will...
Shinji walks up, places his hand on the handle. Just like Rei, the water drip from the sensor hits the Rose Signet on Shinji's hand. Gears grind, wheels spin, water flows, and the gate opens.
Flash to Saionji, who gasps as the gate opens and he sees it happening. More precisely, he sees the waterfall from the gate opening begin and conceal the duelists.
Back to the gate.
Asuka: Let's go.
The four of them enter the forest.
Flash to Saionji, who watches the gate close behind the duelists. More precisely, he sees the waterfall shut off and the duelists are gone.
Saionji: What the hell?
Inside the forest, the four duelists approach the great spiral staircase.
Shinji: How can it go so high? The forest isn't even that tall.
Nobody answers him. Nobody has an answer.
The four climb the long staircase. Near the top, all four of them are seeing something that's making their eyes widen in wonder. We don't see it just yet. Not until they clear the gate at the top of the stairs and enter the Arena. All four of them are looking up at a magnificent, brilliantly lit castle floating above them upside down several meters into the sky.
Shinji: It's not possible.
Asuka: But there it is.
Juri: Just like the letters said it would be.
Utena: How can a castle float upside down?
Shinji, again, is the first to notice something. Something catches his eye, and he looks out across the Arena.
The other duelists now look in the direction Shinji is looking. At the center of the Arena stands Rei. She is wearing a flowing red dress, the same red dress we saw briefly last episode on the girl in Rei's flashback. The sight of Rei dressed like that causes everyone to pause.
Utena: Ayanami? Rei-san?
When Rei speaks, she does so blankly, emotionlessly, as always.
Rei: Welcome, duelists. I am the Rose Bride. Which ever of you is engaged to me shall have the power to bring to the world revolution.
Juri to Utena: That something missing you mentioned earlier...I think it found us.