They couldn't just believe what Commander Ikari was able to do to them, and how did he know what they were up to?

This was what Kozo Fuyutsuki had in mind as his eyes gazed at the others, jailed just like him, and they were all upset: Hamamoto was seething with anger, his hands gripping the edge of the cot as if he was about to tear it off; Ritsuko had a similar expression on her face, while consoling Maya, shedding tears as the junior officer had her head on the older woman's lap; even Shigeru Aoba had his arms crossed, while sitting on the floor, breathing heavily while trying not to blow up his top.

Hamamoto groaned and muttered, "This bastard is damn amazing, and this confirms that he's near a mind reader. Surely a sign he's so fucking paranoid because he knows that his pet project would be completed soon and he doesn't want anyone to ruin his party, and sir, has he ever got an extra course in Machiavelli 101 for this?"

It was utterly humiliating for the now-deposed head of Section Two to lose his office more than thirty minutes after he issued an order to search for any form of possible sabotage in the entire base. As he was directing the other agents to check vital facilities, he hadn't expected Morrissey to show up with Ikari's personal retinue of guards, and with indifference shove the arrest warrant right in his face. Next thing he witnessed was having a pair of handcuffs coming down on his own wrists.

He'd been betrayed by his own second-in-command, and he hated the smug look on Morrissey's face as the turncoats dragged him off to the Stockade; he suspected the limey for months, especially his unsavory character, but in the end Morrissey was really an opportunist, waiting for him to fall.

Once more he sighed, and said, "I couldn't believe it…"

"I should've… No, I mean, we should've known this was coming," Fuyutsuki added. "But I never thought it would be this soon."

Nobody else said a word, each to their own sordid thoughts, but feared that with Ikari now seemingly unstoppable, soon the worst may yet to come with all of them having a front row seat of the apocalypse.

Helplessly they all wondered, What are we going to do now?

"Wait," Ritsuko spoke, finally breaking the silence. "We may have only one chance."

"What?" Hamamoto questioned. "You have an idea?"

"They have yet to catch Misato and Makoto," Ritsuko said, "and they're probably out there somewhere."

Fuyutsuki blinked. "Really?" he asked as the rest focused their attention at the dye-blond woman.

Ritsuko nodded. "I'm sure her instincts are at work once again," she said. "If she knows that we're all here, then I'm also sure that she'll get us out, come hell or high water."

The idea of Misato Katsuragi breaking them out of jail suddenly brightened their moods and heightened their hopes, and this led to Hamamoto wondering if he had an army of loyalists within his department willing to do the same thing for them, hoping that not all of them were happy with Morrissey in charge.

And among a few good men whom Hamamoto trusted completely, one of them was Tsutomo Kanzaki, who at the moment was sleeping with Natsumi Odani in her home.

An alternate path fanfiction by soulassassin547
Written on 7/19/2011 9:31 a7/p7 / 7/19/2011 9:31 a7/p7

In her drugged sleep, Rei was dreaming once more.

Wearing a blue silk kimono patterned with blossoms and clouds, she found herself in a huge, exquisitely-decorated imperial palace, fit for an emperor with its many rooms and hallways, lacquered wooden floors polished to a near-mirror finish, tapestries on the walls, and tatami mats laid out to carpet every floor space.

Outside this palace, situated on a hill, was a lush stone garden, shaded by gingko, cherry and pine trees, and birds chirping while perched on its branches. Beyond and below that, over a low stone wall, was a river, whose waters glistened in the sun, and an arched bridge spanned across its grassy banks, painted in red and embellished with decorative motifs, and out there was a seemingly endless expanse of rice fields and pastures.

But right before her and occupying much of the room was a large weaving machine, its frame and mechanism shining and overlaid with gold leaf, and Rei was producing yard after yard of finished silk from delicate threads as she pedaled the machine, rich with color as the dye magically infusing itself into the fabric as it came out of the machine, and in seemingly endless combinations of beautiful patterns.

For whom this silk was made for? she wondered while carrying out her imaginary labors before she heard animal noises in the distance, buoyed by the breeze coming into the chamber though the open doors.

The noise was the sound of brown-furred cows braying and mooing, the bells tied to their necks and clanking as they hunkered down the banks on the other side of the river to drink and bathe after half a day's worth of grass. Without letting go of the machine Rei watched this simple spectacle, before she noticed the cow-herder as he tipped his straw hat, revealing his face.

It was Kaworu in a peasant's dark blue yukata, the water up to his knees while holding a staff in his right hand. With his other hand he waved to greet her like a simple commoner, rather than to bow deeply in homage as though Rei was a child of a living god.

What are you doing there? he asked Rei as if through telepathy.

I am weaving, Rei answered.

For whom and why?

Rei blinked twice, and deciding she had no answer, the girl let go of the weaving machine, causing the contraption to stop moving, before she stood up and rushed out of the mansion, her feet suddenly shod in slippers. She ran across the garden, broke through the wooden gate, surprising the guards, and came down the stone stairway until she reached the bottom, where a road laid in sandstone led all the way to the bridge, and once more she sprinted, hoping she could reach Kaworu.

But just as she was close to setting foot on the arched bridge, without warning the middle span was blown apart and outwards into splinters and dust, creating a huge cloud of debris over the river. The explosion's shockwave slammed Rei back onto the road, causing her to be dazed for a few moments until she struggled to get up onto her feet.

Now the imperial bridge was cut in half, which meant that she was forever to be isolated from Kaworu, and as she turned around she saw Commander Ikari, dressed in a shogun's traditional heavy set of full battle armor and a pair of swords hanging from his left side. He walked towards her, grabbed the girl's right wrist, and with a fierce scowl close to her face, he said in an icy voice:

Rei, you have a purpose. You are the vessel in which you must deliver Yui to me; bring her back into my arms at the cost of your life.

That is your duty, and that is what you are made for.

And tears broke out of her eyes.

The First Children woke up with a start, the first sight of her tear-filled eyes, as she blinked, revealed her surroundings, and it dawned upon her that she was now a prisoner, caged in a Plexiglas cube suspended from the ceiling by a thick column of steel, surrounded by a circle of rotating black columns, in a huge spherical room completely walled in and laid up with tiles of foam cones, save for a single camera aimed at her.

Strapped to a seat bolted to the floor, Rei tugged at the belts restraining her wrists and ankles, and knew instantly that there was no way she would be able to escape; the rotating columns were powerful inhibitors called Angel-Sealing Hex Pillars, designed to neutralize and contain Angelic energies and thwart any attempt at generating an AT-Field.

Breathing in shallow gasps, Rei couldn't believe that she was here, and judging by the ruthless amount of security imposed upon her, it was clear that Commander Ikari was steely determined to keep her in place.

She also knew what this chamber was made for, and the Commander once told her that its original purpose was to keep and isolate captured Angel embryo for further study, but the only attempt at obtaining one of those Angels at such a stage ended in futility when the target creature broke out of its shell deep in a volcano, forcing Asuka and Unit-02 to kill it.

Dejected and defeated, Rei hung her head downward, her hopes extinguished as she was sure that Kaworu was imprisoned in another of these chambers like this one.

"Good morning," Gendo greeted her through a loudspeaker installed somewhere in this chamber, causing Rei's eyes to fly open.

"What wrong I have done?" Rei questioned in a calm voice, trying not to show weakness or any attempt at struggling from the straps bounding her down.

"This is for your own good," Gendo answered. "I want to protect you from yourself, just as I have to protect Nagisa from himself, but both of you still have a purpose."

Rei swallowed hard, but she felt a sharp pain. Seeking for its source by craning her neck to the left, she saw that there was an IV needle stuck to her left arm, its slim tube leading upwards, feeding her drips of dextrose through the bloodstream.

"I know my purpose, but that is not yours to alter," Rei said.

"It stands as it is," Gendo replied, with a confident tone in his voice. "Soon, once Instrumentality happens, you'll have to take me to Yui's side. That's your final duty."

Rei closed her eyes hard as if to think for a moment, and opened them again, her cerise eyes flashing with defiance as if her will would burn through the steel-lined, concrete shell.

"I am not your doll," she declared. "I am not you."

For a moment afterwards she heard nothing from Gendo, and her mind began to count the seconds, then minutes, until he broke the silence once more.

"Nobody will try to save you or Nagisa, nor will somebody try to stop me from doing what I planned to do for a long time," Gendo spoke back. "The people whom I entrusted once have attempted to usurp my authority and to seize NERV from me by force. They have taken advantage of the discord that the Committee has generated through terrorism to question my leadership and to undermine the stability I have established to keep this organization in order."

Gendo paused for a second and then added, "Fuyutsuki, Akagi, Hamamoto and some other conspirators close to them have been captured and jailed for their abortive attempt. Likewise I have enacted a manhunt to seek and arrest Colonel Katsuragi and her aide Lieutenant Hyuga, and later on I shall issue further arrest orders and name names to bring down others involved in this conspiracy. As for the Committee's spies, they will likewise be dealt with extreme prejudice."

Rei said nothing, as Gendo sighed in pleasure.

"As soon as the Third Children wakes up later," he said. "He'll do as I say as soon as he discovers the true purpose of his friend Nagisa, and I'm sure you know him on an intimate level. Of course that Angel will die as predicted in the Scrolls, thereby leaving us the final phase in implementing Instrumentality."

"My brother and Asuka might as well stop this insanity of yours, and that of the Committee, with their own terms," Rei said in defiance.

"Well," Gendo said. "I'm surprised at your language, and how fast you were able to speak in such a refreshing way. Where did you learn it from whom? And you call the Third Children your brother?"

"Yes, Shinji is my brother," the First Children said, this time using Shinji's given name rather than the usual surname.

"How did you know?"

"We are both related by blood and DNA, and you were supposed to be our father," Rei replied. "But you betrayed him, you crushed his hopes for you as a father, and you made me a tool for your exploitation, to be disposed of afterwards, just like the other copies of me that Akagi destroyed out of her hatred for you."

By the sheer force of Rei's searing retort, and the way she spoke, completely out of line for her normally docile and obedient character, Gendo realized that he was arguing with the outraged reincarnation of his late wife.

It made him blink for the first time.

"I have finally understood Mother, her purpose of using Eva for good, and that she brought meaning to your life," Rei said. "Mother was everything to you, and she gave you everything that you could not have. But once she left this world and suddenly you felt empty, what did you gave to Shinji?"

This time it was Gendo's turn to be silenced.

"You left him alone," Rei continued. "You gave him despair; you made him suffer and forced him to question his own purpose in this world. He longed for a father like you to love him, yet you did nothing but kept him away while you were obsessed with the idea of bringing Mother back into this world."

Now she could hear Gendo breathing heavily, as though in rage, his confidence shattered with the revelations thrown back into his face.

"You are not Yui… Impostor, that is enough!" he thundered, voice cackling with controlled fury, and at the same time Rei unexpectedly felt her head spinning once again and her sight fading out as sedatives through the IV line hit the bloodstream and thence to her brain, causing the girl to black out in her seat.

In his silent rage, face contorted in anger, struggling to breathe as if after being strangled, Gendo made a fist and slammed it on the console. The action startled the three technicians who were monitoring everything in the control room, covered with control panels and monitors, half of them displaying Rei in her seat, as she slumped towards unconsciousness.

He then turned to one of the technicians, who looked nervous, and said, "Keep an eye on her, and whatever you've seen or heard here should never leave this place. Understand?"

"Yes, sir," the technicians replied, nodding in obedience, trying not to be cowed by the man's intense gaze and stony face.

Gendo now focused his attention at the other half of monitors devoted to Kaworu Nagisa, still in controlled coma, strapped in his seat, unaware that he was about to be made as a sacrifice in the coming hours. He then picked up one of the phones and dialed Morrissey's number. The man on the other end answered.

"Orders, sir?" Morrissey asked.

"By oh-five-hundred hours, prepare the Seventeenth Angel to be moved to Terminal Dogma and position him there," he ordered, before he put down the phone and stormed out of the control room, heading back to his living quarters to take a nap; once he wakes up again later, he'll be at the command center just in time to witness the final moments of Kaworu Nagisa's brief existence.

"Children," he muttered in disgust while walking, passing through the door, and over it was a sign that said: ANGEL CONTAINMENT FACILITY – RESTRICTED AREA.

From an entrance, bored into the mountain and located three kilometers away from the center of what was once Tokyo-3, Misato and Makoto were now in one of the emergency access tunnels leading down to the Geofront, after leaving the Alpine hidden behind thick bushes. She knew because the Children once told her about this passageway when one of the Angels attacked the city by completely disabling electrical flow in a wide radius, including power for the elevators and the doors. They used this tunnel to gain access to reach their Evas in time, but not without encountering a series of obstacles along the way, which included wrong turns, and then an elevator going more than a kilometer down to the complex.

They were halfway through when they encountered a high wall about seven feet tall, and the door that was once there was sealed off with concrete and mortar blocks. Makoto had no choice but to let Misato stand on his shoulders, and at the same time keep her laptop secured in its bag, still dangling to his left shoulder.

"Okay, a few more," she said as Makoto strained against her weight, struggling to keep himself upright before his feet and legs exerted more strength to carry her up. Meanwhile she was able to acquire a hold onto the top of the wall, and pulled herself upwards.

Panting and perched on top, Misato reached downward with an open hand. "Now, get my hand!" she ordered and Makoto clasped to her hand and gripping it, and then with available strength she pulled him up.

"C'mon, one more!" she barked.

"Okay!" Makoto answered, his feet clawing against the wall, trying not to make one slip or they could fall down altogether, until he finally made it.

With one hand trying to keep the laptop against his body and from falling, Makoto steadied himself carefully to leap off to the other side, and let go. He landed on the floor, before Misato followed suit.

Now they dusted themselves off, and as they did Misato said, consulting her watch, "Six past three. We still have enough time."

"Yeah," Makoto said between breaths. "Good thing there weren't any surveillance cameras in here."

Their eyes adjusted to the near-darkness, the chamber being lit by a red light bulb, until they could make out the breadth and width; there were boxes lined up along the wall, and as they walked through this corridor they could smell the dust, accumulated through the years this place was left untouched.

But as they passed by one of the huge ventilators, its fan whirling loudly, Misato saw that its access door was blocked with yellow plastic strips, and upon closer look on one of the strips it read, in Helvetica block letters:


Misato and Makoto looked at each other, before glancing at the room just beyond the off-limits tape. The woman sighed.

"Isn't the last time Kaji was here, right?" Makoto asked.

"Yeah," Misato said, tinge of sorrow in her voice, before she cautiously went under the tape.

"What are you doing?" Makoto pleaded. "We don't have much—"

Misato signaled him with an upraised hand. "Wait," she responded as she knelt down right before the chalk-marked outline where Kaji fell. "I need to reflect first," she added. "Give me a minute."

"Okay," Makoto said.

The woman then stared at the dried pool of blood, now weeks old, and closed her eyes. In her mind's sight and thoughts flipping through her photo album of memories, Misato willed herself to remember the good times she had with Kaji: happy moments, tense moments, funny and the awkward, and the only time she was able to confess about her feelings.

She could only imagine him being here, watching at this very moment, the only sound she could also here was the whirling of the ventilator's fan blades.

"Kaji, give me strength," Misato whispered. "We'll be facing the toughest time of our lives, and you may not be here, but... I still don't forget you, and I thank you for entrusting me the secrets of this place, which I hope may help us decide the fate of this world."

Making one last sigh, Misato then stood up and added, "Someday, I'll be seeing you again." She turned around and walked back to Makoto, who looked solemn.

"Well?" he asked as they stepped out of the crime scene.

"There are things and people we should be thankful for, even for the smallest chances," she said as they trudged onwards. "Okay, first thing we have to do, if some of them are locked out, is to contact Tomo."

Makoto chuckled. "Yeah, I'm sure he's with Natsumi."

"Given that they're almost loaded by the time they left early," she said, "I suppose he slept with her. After all, it's no secret to me that he wanted to have a date, and he got his wish."

The bespectacled officer nodded. "Ah… What about Chacon and Nguyen? They're really on the outside, but we could also trust them."

"Great idea," Misato answered in approval. "You got their numbers?"

Makoto shook his head. "No, but I'll check the directory as soon as we can get within wireless net range."

"Good. We'll need their help, and then we also have to get to Shinji and Asuka, too," she said. "Same thing with Kaworu and Rei, but I guess they're in much deeper."

Makoto blinked. "Wait… apart from the guards, who's going to deal with the surveillance systems? Only a few have access to the cameras, doors and sensors, you know, and with all that, with us already marked, there's no way we could make it to the Stockade."

But Misato grinned. "That's where Natsumi comes in," she said, "because I believe she still has authorization to use the MAGI, thereby giving her full access to the entire system."

This time Makoto laughed. "You're a genius, and I'm not kidding."

"Thanks," she replied.

By the time they made it to the threshold of the installation, cautiously tiptoeing and dodging surveillance cameras visibly placed every 100 meters, and hiding into rooms whenever they thought they saw people coming their way, the duo peered up at the sign above their heads:


Beyond that sign was an airlock just ahead of them; and to the left of the airlock door was a side-room indicating where hazmat suits were kept.

"Let's get there," Misato said, before darting across and reached the door, and then she opened it. There they went in and quickly wore the suits hanging from racks, and then put on wrap-around masks and rebreathers, thus completing their disguises. To complete their spacemen-like masquerade, Makoto took hold of a large cart and a pack of plastic bags with the word BIOHAZARD printed on, before placing the laptop inside and off they went to a bank of waiting elevators.

Now once inside in one of the elevators, Misato punched the button for the hangar bay where the aviation squadron kept its aircraft and housed the pilots who flew them. As the elevator surged downward, taking off their masks for a moment, Makoto used the laptop to access the network and taking hold of the online directory.

"There," Makoto said, pointing at the line within the list, denoting Trudy and Paul's phone numbers. "That's their numbers."

"Good," Misato replied before dialing Paul's phone.

In their quarters, adjacent to the hangar where NERV's helicopter and VTOL aircraft were stored and maintained, and while sleeping on the couch, Paul was unexpectedly awakened by the vibration coming from his mobile phone. He slowly picked it up from his side and answered. "Hello?" he asked in a sleepy voice. "Isn't it too early for this?"

"It's me, Paul," Misato said.

Paul managed a yawn, recognizing her voice. "What's up, Colonel?"

"We need your help."

The pilot blinked, his eyes trying to adjust to the darkness. "Why, ma'am, what's wrong?"

"The Sub-Commander and the others have been arrested."

This time Paul was shocked, causing him to sit upright. "What?"

"I'll explain later, and get yourselves ready, but do you still have your weapon?"

"Yeah," Paul answered. "I have a Colt Government, with two more spare mags to go."

"Just great," Misato approved. "Now wake up Trudy because you two have to help me get everyone out of the Stockade. Meet us at the elevators, and fast!"

"Roger that," Paul said before Misato closed the line. He then put down his phone on the dresser and walked the expanse of the room, to knock on Trudy's door to her bedroom. He could hear her snoring, followed by the crunching of the bed springs as she got up to her feet.

"Damn it," Trudy answered, her voice muffled by the door. "What the hell do you want?"

"Get dressed," Paul ordered as he put on his pants. "Colonel Katsuragi needs us for some action… I mean, help her do a jailbreak."


By the time they arrived at the elevator hall, Paul whispered, "Where are they?"

Poking from the door of the janitor's closet was a hand waving at them. It was Misato, all right, as they scurried towards the door, got in and slammed the door.

"What's going on?" Trudy asked, taking note of the pile of suits and masks on the floor, which the fugitives had taken off.

Misato and Makoto explained to them the events and circumstances which led to the wholesale arrests, and she even told about Kaworu and Rei, both of them taken away and caged somewhere in the base; in one fell swoop Commander Ikari decided to remove those he deemed as traitors.

"So that leaves us unscathed this far," Paul said. "By the way, we're packing heat." He and Trudy then showed them their sidearms: Paul's Model 1911 gleamed in the dim light, in contrast to Trudy's black polymer Glock 17.

"What about Tsutomo?" Trudy asked as she holstered the Glock back.

"He's with Natsumi," Misato said.

Trudy chuckled. "Talk about hot coffee."

Makoto and Misato blinked. "Hot coffee?"

"Um… Yeah," Trudy said. "Remember about that game with the 'hot coffee' part?"

"Dunno," Makoto said, shrugging his shoulders. "Haven't played something like that."

Trudy shook her head and grinned. "I'll spare you the guessing; It means they really hooked up. In bed. The game that I'm talking about is GTA: San Andreas."

"Ah," Misato said, and then they all burst into laughter.

"You Americans," Makoto said in jest. "Anyway, we need to get to Natsumi's quarters."

"Where?' Paul asked.

"It's right up the hillside," Misato said, "We must reach those guys because Tomo has a few friends in Section Two he can trust, and Natsumi knows how to play the MAGI like a harp."

A few minutes later, Paul and Trudy, both wearing flight suits, were pushing the cart along the hallway when they were spotted by a quartet of roving security troopers in full battle gear. They looked dead-serious.

"Sir, have you seen Colonel Katsuragi and Lieutenant Hyuga?" one of the troopers asked Paul, taking note of his collar officer rank.

Paul and Trudy shook their heads. "N… No," he said. "We're just getting our laundry washed."

The trooper peered into the cart, which was indeed full of dirty clothes and linen, before he said, "All right, sir, you may go, but tell us if you spot them."

"Why?" Trudy asked.

"We have a warrant for their arrest," the trooper answered. "On Commander Ikari's orders."

"Damn," Paul said. "What for?"

The trooper cleared his throat. "Treason."

"Okay, Sarge, we'll tell you if they show up," Paul said. "Carry on."

"Yes, sir," the trooper said as they saluted each other, before they walked away.

Once the troopers were out of sight, Paul blew a sigh of relief as Trudy whispered, "That was a close call."

"Just stay frosty, guys," Misato said beneath the pile, before they pushed the cart into the elevator, and Paul pressed a button to get them to the motor pool.

As the elevator lurched upward, Misato and Makoto climbed out of the cart, tossing away the laundry that was heaped on them.

"That was brilliant," Trudy said. "Good thing they didn't bother to dig in."

"It's also a good thing that they didn't have any dogs to sniff us out," Misato added before the elevator doors opened.

The motor pool was silent by the time they came out of the elevator, and quickly the three of them hopped into an empty Humvee, as Paul went into the maintenance officer's office, took the keys from the rack on the wall near the desk.

He then rushed out of the office, got into the driver's seat and gunned the engine.

"Which way?" Paul asked.

"Route 6, to the left," Misato said, poking her head from behind his seat.

"Roger that," the Cheyenne jock said before he pressed on the gas, rolling out of the garage and onto asphalt. Turning left, he saw the road ahead and it went through the forest, before climbing up the hillside.

They passed the minutes talking, mostly about last night's drinking spree, and meanwhile Fuyutsuki checked his watch: 3:35 in the morning, and he wondered what Gendo was scheming next before he remembered the Fifth Children.

"I have a bad feeling about what's going to happen to that young man," Fuyutsuki said, causing the others to take notice.

"Who?" Ritsuko asked, this time Maya sleeping on her lap.

"I'm sure Ikari has Nagisa by the neck, and without us to stop him, he's free to do whatever he wants… Good grief, it means he's determined to go further than the Committee."

"Haste makes waste, I suppose," the woman remarked. "But not him; he'll try to micromanage everything."

"Like Hitler," Hamamoto chimed in as he flexed his toes. "He'll overrule his generals, even if they offered him good advice and prudence. Thus in his madness, along with the failure of Operation Valkyrie, which was an assassination attempt supposed to take him down, he drove Germany into hell till he blew off his own head. Sounds familiar?"

Sanderson wasn't aware that his explosive handiwork was in the process of being dismantled, as teams of bomb experts defused his detonators one by one after they found them with their bomb-sniffing dogs. Instead he was assigned in another team, as they went hunting down Misato and Makoto, but were having a hard time finding those two. Like the others, this team was fully armed with submachine guns and wore vests and fatigues.

"Level 9 clear," the team leader spoke into his handheld radio. There was no sign of Katsuragi within this level in the Geofront, and besides, where they should be going?

Now Sanderson had an idea.

"Say," he said. "Why don't we check out the emergency routes at Level 6?"

"Sure," the other agent agreed. "We haven't covered that yet."

As they hopped into the elevator, another younger agent said in an accent coming from upstate New York, "I don't understand why she would be involved in this conspiracy. All I know is that she's the best Eva operations chief there is; I personally met her, and she didn't do anything wrong."

"Shut your trap, Kiley," the team leader chided sharply, his near-perfect English colored by his past in Osaka. "We're just following orders, fanboy. Otherwise your mouth might get your ass in trouble."

The mole shook his head. You guys don't quite know what you're really looking for.

Both Natsumi and Tsutomo were sleeping on the bed, naked beneath the sheets, their clothes scattered around the floor when he heard a loud knocking on the door. Blinking his eyes, he slowly parted the sheets, picked up his pants and pulled them up to the waist, before he instinctively sought for his service pistol in his jacket, which was also on the floor.

Ah, shit, I forgot, he cursed himself to find his jacket empty, as the knocking progressively became louder. I've left it in my crib.

Instead, needing for a ready weapon, Tsutomo went to the kitchen and found a saucepan, hefted it in his hand and then walked over to the door, anticipating anything hostile, before he peered into the peephole.

"Who is it?" he questioned.

"It's us, Tomo," Misato replied. "It's an emergency!"

Tsutomo let out a sigh of relief, and then he opened the door, letting the quartet in.

"Thank goodness… What brings you guys here in this ungodly hour?" he questioned as they sat down on the sofa and the easy chairs in the living room, before he turned on the lights.

"Fuyutsuki and the others are in trouble," Misato said. "They're jailed in the Stockade."

"What?" Tsutomo blurted in shock. "How the hell that happened?"

"That's not all," Makoto added. "Ayanami and Nagisa were taken away on Ikari's orders. He did all of that simply to get anyone who opposed him out of the way, and at the same time keep those two Children under his thumb."

Tsutomo hissed through his teeth. "Shit, that's unbelievable," he cursed. "Talk about an preemptive strike... So what about you guys?"

"We're marked, I'm afraid," Misato said. "We managed to sneak in, though. We came here so that we could break them out of jail, and if possible, pull the tables on Ikari and avert a possible disaster."

Tsutomo blinked. "Do you have a plan?"

"Yeah," Misato answered. "Call up anyone you trust, and then…" Now she saw Natsumi come out of the bedroom, dressed in a tank-top and a pair of denim shorts. She looked worried.

"What's going on?" Natsumi asked as she sat down on the ottoman. "I mean, Fuyutsuki's been arrested?"

Misato told her the whole story.

"Good Christ," Natsumi exclaimed afterwards. "So, now that you're crazy to pull off a jailbreak, where do we figure in your gameplan?"

"Okay," Misato said. "Tomo's gonna have to bring enough trusted guys with muscle to help us out, to disarm or fool any opposition we encounter, while you… Do you still have authorization to use the MAGI under administrator mode?"

"Yeah," Natsumi answered. "Well, the sysadmins forgot to change my user permissions after Akagi was reinstated, which is a very good thing. So what do you want me to do?"

"Simple: play merry havoc with the surveillance systems in that level where it contains the Stockade. Make it look like there's a glitch in the system, to buy us some time, to distract them, and to cover our tracks."

Natsumi and Tsutomo nodded in unison. "Sounds like a great plan," Tsutomo agreed. "What else?"

"After that," Misato said, "we have to break into the Angel Containment Facility, and I think they're holding Kaworu and Rei in there. I need Kaworu because of his scheme he came up with."

"How?" Natsumi asked, before Misato told them all what Kaworu wanted her to do, a plan that was worthy of Ocean's Eleven.

"So again, Natsumi," Misato said afterwards, the whole scheme leaving them in awe. "I'm sure you also have the necessary clearances."

"Damn, I forgot," Natsumi replied. "You're right. No changes in that, either. All access in all areas, and no restrictions."

Misato chuckled and spoke, "I think we do have Lady Luck on our side, right?"

"Sure is," Tsutomo said. "By the way, before we get ready to go… do you guys need some iced coffee… Or Morning Rescue?" he suggested, speaking of the famed orange-like drink that was said to bring overnight drunks back to functionality by dawn.

The mere mention of Morning Rescue caused them to burst into laughter, generally because of its wacky TV ads.

Five minutes later they were heading back to HQ on the Humvee, with Paul behind the wheel, and with both Natsumi and Tsutomo fully-dressed. But halfway there they saw a dozen men waiting by the roadside curb with their own Humvee parked and idling, prompting Paul to step on the brakes.

"That you guys?" Tsutomo called out from the passenger-side window of the vehicle. He squinted and recognized Shinichi Morisato, who walked close with a bundle in his right hand. They were wearing regulation BDUs and bulletproof vests, and this was Tsutomo's SRT unit, as he was their team leader.

"Yeah," Shinichi said. "Thanks for the call, now we got a clear picture of what's going on. Speaking of Morrissey, we don't like that fucking opportunistic bastard."

Before they left, Tsutomo made a call to Shinichi and told him the story, and in return the younger agent spoke as to how and why Fuyutsuki was arrested, before Tsutomo told him the hard facts.

"I see," Tsutomo approved. "I thought you'll just follow along."

"I believe in the Sub-Commander," Shinichi added. "He's still a good guy in my book, and so is our Chief. Personally, I suspected the Commander being nuts for some time, but now… thanks to you I was right."

"You got anything?"

Shinichi said, "Yeah, we have the works, and we even have some stunners, flash-bangs, smoke and teargas, and since you asked me for it, I have this spare gun." He promptly handed over an H&K USP 45 pistol to Tsutomo, along with its body harness and three additional magazines.

Tsutomo grinned back as he wore the harness. "Thanks, and okay, let's roll and move out," he ordered.

Kaworu slowly blinked, completely dazed and wondering where he now wounded up in. The last thing he remembered was a soldier firing a dart, hitting him squarely in the chest, and they simply watched him fall down.


Where am I?

Once more Kaworu blinked again, his eyes adjusting to the harsh new light, until he realized he was now in a prison.

He shook his head, and then his eyes took in the surroundings: a spherical prison, eight rotating columns, a Plexiglas cube, straps holding him to the chair, an IV drip stuck to his vein, and to add insult to injury, he was suddenly overwhelmed by an excruciating headache.

The pain caused Kaworu to grit his teeth, and his tortured mind tried to figure out the source of the searing pain while trying not to scream.

It wasn't whatever chemicals was being fed into his bloodstream, or the aftereffects of the tranquilizer, but it became clear to him that those columns were radiating a form of energy that seemed to be eating into his ability to generate an AT-Field.

But the pain only magnified his fury and the desire to squelch the pain altogether, thus Kaworu defied the pain by using his training to "divert" it to another faculty of his brain, and then he built up his willpower to escape by driving up the strength of his AT-Field to overwhelm the destructive effect of the columns.

And the clear plastic cube began to shake.

The guys running the Stockade were surprised when they saw Tsutomo – now fully dressed in combat gear – and his team coming right at them, with Misato and Makoto in handcuffs, as they entered the reception room. Promptly the Stockade supervisor saluted him.

"We caught them as they were trying to sneak their way back here," Tsutomo reported, with Shinichi nodding.

"I see," the staff sergeant in charge of the Stockade said, as he pulled out a clipboard for the agent to sign, hoping he would make a more detailed report later on, but without warning Tsutomo and his men drew out their guns and pointed them at the surprised guards, who immediately held their hands up.

"Don't try to call, don't press the panic button," Tsutomo warned them calmly, his pistol a few centimeters away from the head jailor's forehead. "Drop your weapons and we'll be fine, okay?"

The guards could only blink as they nodded in obedience, dropping and kicking away their pistols on the floor towards the team, who then removed the magazines and gathered them all into a duffel bag.

"Now open them up," Tsutomo ordered, watching another disarmed guard scurry to the cells along with three of Tsutomo's men, before he radioed Natsumi, who was in a lounge about a hundred meters away from them, sitting before a bank of vending machines.

"How's it going?" he asked through his throat mike.

"The surveillance cameras are now locked to loop," she said, meaning to say Natsumi, using Misato's laptop, accessed the MAGI and tapped into the surveillance camera system, cut out a portion of video and then played it back to the recording subsystem and the camera feeds; anyone watching the footage in real time or in recording will get a seemingly peaceful scene from the cameras.

"Very good," Tsutomo said, as he watched Fuyutsuki and the rest walk out of the cells, glad to be finally free, and the sight alone allowed him to sigh in relief and salute the old man. "Good morning, sir."

"Thank you, Captain," Fuyutsuki said, saluting back.

"Well, done, son," Hamamoto congratulated. "After all this time, I knew I could trust you."

Tsutomo nodded. "It's my pleasure, sir."

"We don't have much time," Misato said as Shinichi took away the handcuffs from her wrist, before doing the same to Makoto. The other team members tied up the hapless guards with duct tape, binding their legs and wrists.

"Now what we're going to do next?" the old man asked with concern. "I'm sure Ikari will later have Nagisa killed to fulfill the prophecy."

"Me, Natsumi, Trudy, Paul and the rest of my team will have to get Nagisa and Ayanami free," Tsutomo said. "Shin, Makoto and Misato will have to find you and everyone else a place to hide in until the heat is off."

"Okay," Fuyutsuki agreed. "What about the other two Children?" he asked, referring to Asuka and Shinji.

"We'll get them, but once we're safe… I'll have to tell them the truth," Misato said. "But as for Commander Ikari…"

"Today will be his undoing," Fuyutsuki said. "As much as I was his friend and confidant for a very long time, all of you will have to stop him, for he has crossed the line and gone too far."

Misato and Tsutomo blinked, as it was clear that Fuyutsuki has finally decided Ikari's fate.

Fuyutsuki added, "We cannot afford to let the world and of humanity slip into total destruction."

By then, Kaworu's cubic prison was vibrating heavily, as though a heavy metal band was blasting away with nuclear amplifiers and speakers at full power. His hands formed tightly into fists, his whole body straining against the straps that held him down.

His face, normally serene and radiated confidence, was now distorted into burning wrath as he concentrated more of his will, and whatever calories he had were burned quickly to fuel his AT-Field.

Defying matter completely, Kaworu broke through the restraints and rose from his seat, before he unleashed his AT-Field with a high-pressure shockwave, as though a high-explosive bomb, shattering the cube, bent the columns hard and away from him like plastic straws, and blew out the meter-thick steel door into the hallway.

"What the hell's going on? What's that explosion? CALL FOR HELP!" the lead technician roared while another picked up the phone but found it disconnected. They were surprised out of their wits when Kaworu "dropped" the psychic "bomb", and now their ears were overwhelmed by the klaxons and the control room was bathed in red light.

"Phone's out! I can't even get the alarm button working!" the second technician yelled, banging the receiver on the console.

"WHAT?" he shouted back while frantically typing commands on the keyboard.

"Hey, look at that!" the third technician chimed, pointing at one of the monitors.

They couldn't see anything on that screen, which showed the hallway engulfed in choking thick dust, before they saw a silhouette walking through it until the figure emerged from the cloud.

For a moment Kaworu, now exuding a glowing aura, stared at the camera attached above the control room door. He was breathing heavily, his cerise eyes boring into the camera, declaring his liberation. He then simply balled his hand into a fist, and the camera was instantly crumpled into bits. The monitors now showed them static.

Now terrified by Kaworu's newly-revealed power, as well as completely blinded, the technicians couldn't leave the safety of the control room.

As the PA system called out a general alert, Kaworu stood before the chamber door, thick and heavy, and once more his mind felt out for the pins, screws, gears and pistons that held the door in place, He walked closer to touch the door with the palm of his hand, and then he could hear the lock mechanism click in place as it opened the door.

The Fifth Children stepped away to stand clear for the huge door as it swung out on its hinges, before he entered the chamber.

He found Rei unconscious and strapped to the chair, but the hex columns were dead, the electricity supplying them was cut off. With great care Kaworu pulled out the catheter, took off the straps that held Rei down, and with sufficient strength left he carried the girl onto his arms.

Walking out of the ACF, and with klaxons blaring all around him, Kaworu was deep in his thoughts as he glanced at Rei's face, oblivious to the unfolding chaos.

Your father and my creator has left me no choice except to set my plan in motion, he reflected. Forgive me for doing this, my brother, for every beginning… there must also be an end.

Kaworu sighed with regret.

And now, as with me, the rest of you will have roles to act on. After all, the world's a stage and we're all players.

The tremor caught everyone off-guard in the Stockade, just as they were ready to leave, before the alarms exploded noisily and the PA system announced a general emergency.

"Natsumi, what's going on out there?" Tsutomo asked, using the two-way radio again.

"Something blew up at the ACF," Natsumi replied. "The video feed's dead, so no visual, but the operable sensors have detected his AT-Field right now!"

Tsutomo, Misato and everyone else were surprised. "What 'him'? You mean Kaworu?" he questioned.

"Yeah, I think they finally broke out, so I'm sure those guys at the ACF must be scared shitless by now."

They had little to say for the moment, as it was clear that the two Children were getting away, but to where?

"You better come here, while we have to track them down," Tsutomo said.

"Roger that!" Natsumi answered, before letting go of the "send" button on her radio.

Tsutomo then turned his attention to Misato and Fuyutsuki, and said, "Sir, I think you have the option to decide that boy's fate."

"I'm not a god, Captain," Fuyutsuki objected. "I find it distasteful to hold the power of life and death."

"But we're not sure if he's still on our side," Tsutomo pleaded. "It brings us no other choice than to kill him. I'm sorry, sir, but it must be done because, who knows, it turns out he's about to do what his masters asked him to do."

For a few seconds Fuyutsuki grimly mulled over that option, before he said, "The decision falls on Shinji to kill him."

Tsutomo blinked. "That's it, sir?"

Fuyutsuki nodded before he turned his attention to Misato. "You'll have to get them ready, Colonel."

At first, misato shook her head, but then saluted. "Yes, sir," she said, sadness tinged in her voice, before running off with Makoto, on their way to the BOQ.

At the same time, Shinji and Asuka were both awakened by the cacophony, prompting them to get out of bed and take a peek outside, wondering what was going on.

"An Angel attack?" Asuka questioned, blinking.

Shinji turned to her and stared with unsure eyes, for he realized what he could be up against in the coming minutes, and he also had an icy feeling in his veins. This worried Asuka, fearing that Shinji could be relapsing once again.

"What's wrong? Why are you afraid?" Asuka demanded, shaking his shoulders.

"No… It can't be," the young man whispered. "It can't be now."

The shock of the explosion also roused Gendo Ikari from his nap. He then got up from his bed, put on shoes and wore his glasses, before carefully stepping over books and other objects fallen from the shelves to fetch a can of coffee in the kitchenette. Half a minute later, the sirens wailed across the complex, and surely in no time they'll be summoning him to the command bridge, to witness the end of Kaworu Nagisa.

It's happening now, he thought, clearly pleased as he opened the can, before the telephone rang. Just as planned.

Author's Notes: Sorry if I've been distracted as usual, but once again I delivered. Now for a few things:

(1) Rei's dream was inspired by the Tanabata story (you can look it up on Wikipedia). (2) the design of the Angel Containment Facility was based on a scene in Rebuild 2.22, except for a few alterations of my own; (3) Kaworu's escape, as well as the Stockade jailbreak, were also inspired by scenes from the movies The Hulk (the Ang Lee version) and, of course, Avatar.

In the next chapter, and with three remaining before the end of this season, Shinji will soon be confronting Kaworu, as their actions will make the difference between salvation and annihilation.

As usual, I'm welcome for any comments or criticisms. Thank you and good morning.