Amidst the ongoing emergency, Misato, Tsutomo and the other members of his team calmly stared down at the still-unconscious Sanderson after they dragged him out of the room.

"So, what's gonna be next for us?" Sasaki asked, still holding his submachine gun.

Tsutomo shrugged. "I suppose we should drag this bastard out of here, put him in the slammer and we'll explain everything even if they'll slap us with whatever that's from the rulebooks."

Just then Asuka came down the stairs from the upper walkway, followed by Natsumi and the crew chief. The girl stood before Misato and said, "What's going to happen next?"

Using her foot, Misato prodded Sanderson's unmoving prone form. "We'd better leave and link up with the Sub-Commander," she said. "Shinji can handle himself, I'm sure of it."

Asuka frowned. "And what about—" she said but was cut off when she was surprised by the unexpected appearance of a hundred or so security troopers surrounding them, their weapons aimed at Misato and Tsutomo's rogue SRT team, laser dots dancing upon their chests and foreheads.

Morrissey walked out from one of the double doors, and exclaimed, "Drop your weapons!"

Without saying a word and only a nod, Tsutomo and his team carefully placed their weapons on the walkway and raised their arms, hands behind their heads.

"All right," Tsutomo said. "You win."

"You, of all people, have disappointed me," Morrissey said, his voice rising with his hands clenched into fists. "What all of you did is an act of treason, conspiracy, sedition, armed provocation, abetting and aiding escape of prisoners, and above all, disregarding orders!"

The pretender then walked towards the group, and with his withering stare singled out Misato, Natsumi and Tsutomo.

"You were such daring heroes yesterday, and then now you did the unthinkable," Morrissey lectured. "Now I ask you: where your loyalties lie with? Where and to whom? Certainly today it's not to Fuyutsuki."

Unknown to Morrissey, the soldiers who kept their weapons aimed at the renegades were having second thoughts; they deferred their loyalty to him because they thought he was the legitimate commanding officer of their department, by dint of Commander Ikari's approval.

But secretly they considered Misato and Tsutomo their personal heroes, professional soldiers they wanted to emulate, accomplishing the impossible that left them in admiration, giving their profession a good reason for respect. Therefore, the idea of shooting at a bunch of warriors worth their salt was unthinkable.

"Arrest them!" Morrissey ordered. "Cuff them and say their rights!"

Not one of those commandoes bothered to move, as they slowly lowered their weapons one by one, flipping their weapons back to safety.

"Damn it, what the bloody hell are you men are waiting for?" Morrissey chided, but just as he turned around to yell yet another order, he saw Hamamoto rushing towards him, coming out of the door, with the other half of Tsutomo's squad following.

"What the—" Morrissey yelped, before the Second Section veteran he replaced abruptly early in the day struck him with an straight punch to the face, and the Brit was knocked out cold on the walkway.

Satisfied with the one-punch, Hamamoto was snorting like a bull out of the pen. He then stared down at Morrissey's prone body, spat out and barked, "Fuck you and your orders, pretender! You're out of the game!"

An alternate path fanfiction by soulassassin547
Written on 7/30/2011 / 7/31/2011 4:04 a7/p7

Using his psychokinetic abilities inherent in his nature, Kaworu Nagisa hefted thousands of tons of Eva Unit-02, the monstrously-sized weapon within his control, as he commanded her to stomp down on any obstacles thrown in their way; seemingly impregnable sheets of armor bulkhead plating buckled and gave way beneath her weight, like an anvil dropped through thin paper.

As they descended further into the depths of the earth, Kaworu looked up to see Rei coming for him.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"I must come along with you even to this end," Rei answered.

Kaworu shook his head. "You should've stayed there."

"I cannot," she insisted. "I would rather complement your effort."

"But what about him?" Kaworu questioned as he pointed upward at Shinji and Unit-01, now closing on the trio. "It's supposed to be just between him and me, and this is supposed to be very personal."

"I disagree," Rei objected. "I have my share in this complicity as much as you are, therefore I should be involved because he is my brother."

They then looked downward to see Unit-02 encounter yet another armored bulkhead, a meter thick and forged with aerospace alloys, and proceeded to pound it with her feet, hammering her way down until chunks of it fell off. Only then they were able to go through the hole without a hitch.

"I am sure he is very upset at this," Rei went on. "It would have been better if you told him firsthand of your plans, and what you wanted to happen."

"How he can be made ready for the inevitable," Kaworu countered, "if we couldn't test him and his character? Anytime after this, I'm sure, there will be no peace for NERV, which is why, besides us, Shinji and Asuka stand in the way of their plans… No, I mean, the Committee's plans."

"You two are such an odd couple, isn't it?" Kyoko chimed in, her voice issuing from the core, communicating by means of telepathy.

"I'll take that as a compliment, Doctor," Kaworu answered.

Kyoko sighed. "You put me in this uncomfortable spot of yours," she said, "yet I've finally understood what you mean in terms of necessity regarding with my daughter's boyfriend."

Kaworu nodded. "Go on."

"The first time he came aboard with my daughter," Kyoko spoke, "he was still an untested character, a young man not sure of his place in this world despite this unimaginably huge responsibility placed on his shoulders. In the five minutes they fought that Angel, I quickly got a feel into his psyche, his loves and hates, and everything that consisted of his personality. This kind of affected his ability to become an effective pilot, because he always had this inner pain that's been caused, not surprisingly, by his father, and I also know what kind of man he was."

Both Children blinked. "You know Commander Ikari?" Kaworu asked.

"That's right," Kyoko confirmed, "by way of his wife, who happens to be my best friend ever since she left France, which is why I was involved in this project shortly after Second Impact… and what a character he was... I mean, for the life of me, it struck me as odd that a good girl like her should be involved with that ambitious die Sau… er, bastard."

"Seems that the Commander made enemies almost everywhere," Rei commented as she stared at the center of Unit-02, where the core was implanted. "Yet it is only with Mother that he becomes like putty."

Kyoko laughed at the analogy. "Nice one, young woman," she approved. "He's made of ice, conditioned by his past, but surprisingly he thaws out whenever he sees Yui. Indeed, she was his only weakness, and by the way, Rei, is this your first time hearing from me in this way?"

Rei nodded.

"Good," Kyoko approved, "because it's clear that Kaworu is probably the best teacher you ever have."

"Thank you," Rei said.

The woman in the machine sighed once more. "Talk about star-crossed lovers," she said. "I used to watch that movie, before digging into the actual book itself afterwards, thinking that my ex would like to hear me talking about Shakespeare."

"How did you know I liked that movie?" Kaworu asked.

"Nice coincidence," Kyoko said, before she laughed. "You two are acting out something bigger than any drama, and then Shakespeare saying about the world as a stage rings true. We're all in this stage, each of us are players, while the spotlight's trained on us as we recite our lines."

"You're correct," Kaworu agreed.

"On the other hand, you two are a Tanabata ideal, that is, lovers separated by a distance and fate. It's only now that both of you are together."

"That was what I dreamed of," Rei said. "Ikari blew up the bridge that was to bring us together."

Kyoko shook her head. "He will do anything to bring Yui back, no matter how much the cost, and in the process I have paid my life in participating in his devilish enterprise."

"I have fought with him, and if he does so without changing himself first," Rei replied, "I will fight him again to deny his wish."

Closing in with less than two hundred meters and counting, Shinji had a few thoughts left to spare.

Is this what you wanted to do? What have you done now? Why do you have to do this?

Shinji clenched his teeth, and decided to talk, so his eye trained at an icon to the right of the HUD, selected the command to turn on the external speaker system installed in Unit-01 and yelled, "Why did you lie to me? WHY BETRAY ME?"

The outburst disrupted the trio, and both Children looked up to see Shinji and Unit-01 faced Unit-02.

"I've been waiting for you," Kaworu said, but Rei suddenly looked doubtful.

"For what?" Shinji questioned. "Damn it, you befriended me, I gave you my trust, I thought you much as a brother I should've had, I thought you understood me, and now WHY DOES IT HAVE TO COME TO THIS? WHY?"

Just then, without warning Unit-02 unsheathed and grabbed her Prog Knife, ready to attack.

Shinji then stared at Rei and said, "Ayanami, why are you a part of this?"

"I have a part to play, for I have become involved as much as he is," Rei admitted.

"He's an Angel, for God's sake!" Shinji talked back. "You're supposed to stop him!"

"I cannot," Rei objected. "Because I love him, even if he is an Angel."

Shinji shuddered and then and questioned, "How it can be? Have you planned this with him?"

However, before he could bring about another outburst, Unit-02 swung her knife-armed hand to strike at Unit-01, but the other Eva intercepted and parried the blow, the two blades sparking as they came in contact.

Shinji's teeth gritted, trying to keep the blade away and then he yelled, "I want this to STOP! I don't want this! Kaworu, for God's sake, ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?"

Kaworu shook his head and remarked, "Evae, factae de Adamo, beings detested by humans. Yet I still wonder why do you have to use them for your survival."

"They're supposed to stop the likes of you," Shinji replied as he struggled, "and answer the damned question: WHY DID YOU LIE TO ME?"

"Because I don't want you to hear about my bad side," Kaworu admitted. "I'm made in the same way the Evas are; I'm being natus de Adamo, and had this Eva have no soul, I can unite with her."

As though infused with more power, Unit-02 began to exert extra effort to overwhelm Unit-01, forcing Shinji to lurch forward, pressing his handles to the limit, before Unit-01's blade was forced to the left and struck Kaworu's AT-Field, which produced an hexagonal ripple.

"You have an AT-Field!" Shinji exclaimed.

Kaworu nodded. "That's right," he agreed. "That's what you humans refer to, as this is the holy region that anyone shouldn't touch, and this is the light of the mind. You lilin should be aware of that, and the AT-Field is the wall of the mind that everyone possesses."

Shinji blinked. "What?"

His hesitation, however, brought Unit-02 to stab Unit-01 in the left shoulder, causing the Third Children to howl in pain.

At that point, Rei began to shed tears.

With Morrissey tied up and heaped with Sanderson, and as Hamamoto went about grouping his men together for the next plan, Misato turned to Natsumi and Makoto, who were monitoring events from her laptop.

"Oh, damn," Natsumi muttered. "They cleared several now, and closing to the last level."

"What else we have to do next?" Makoto asked as he looked up and faced Misato.

Misato sighed. "Should we lose contact with Shinji…"

The junior officer ran a hand through his hair. "I understand what you mean," he said in a morose tone. "This place has been rigged to go off just in case shit hits the fan."

"I'm sorry," Misato apologized.

Instead Makoto smiled. "No, never mind… at least we're all in the same boat."

Natsumi nodded, but just as she was about to say another word, Tsutomo ran up to them and asked, "Is it all right if we have to follow them down?"

The others blinked. "What?" Misato questioned.

"We have to go there, and mop up just in case Shinji wins," Tsutomo said, pointing his hand downward.

Misato pondered for a moment, and then answered, "All right, but you guys are ready?"

Tsutomo nodded. "Damned right we are."

"HEY!" Natsumi yelled, interrupting them all. "Look at that!" she exclaimed, pointing at the laptop's screen.

Misato's eyes twitched. "What?"

"One of them produced an off-the-scale AT-Field," Natsumi reported. "I'm sure that's Rei, and there's nothing for us to see anymore: light waves, radio, EM emissions, nada. We're effectively blind for the duration."

"Oh, shit," Misato cursed, and motioned to Tsutomo to get ready to go, before she faced the cluster of soldiers gathered around Hamamoto. "Chief, I suppose that I must borrow your men," she said.

"To go down there?" Hamamoto questioned.

"Yeah!" Misato replied.

"Permission granted, Colonel," the old man agreed. "Take some of them to come with you, instead, as I need the other half to deal with Ikari."

"But what about me?" Asuka chimed in. She was standing around, doing nothing at all. "I'm also involved in this morass, right?"

Misato smiled. "Come on, then," she said, before threw a salute at Hamamoto and said, "Thanks again, sir."

"Go get 'em," Hamamoto muttered as he watched Misato, Asuka, Tsutomo and other troopers rushed back into the corridor, on their way to serve as the cavalry to do the save at the last minute.

With one last stroke and freeing herself of the lanyard that tethered her to the crane, Unit-01 dropped upon Unit-02, smashed through the last bulkhead and then made a huge splash on the lake of LCL that was in the center of Terminal Dogma.

"I don't believe your nerve, young man," Kyoko muttered, as she found herself as an unwanted passenger in Unit-02, the Eva struggling against her officemate. "Where the hell are you two going this time?"

"To there," Kaworu said as he and Rei walked the last few hundred meters to the door leading into the chamber containing Lilith.

"Schiessekopf, you're not kidding, don't you?" Kyoko questioned.

Kaworu nodded. "It's just part of the plan, so hang on right there," he said before turning to Rei, who was walking with him. "It has to be done," he added.

"Is it necessary that my brother be hurt in such a way?" Rei doubted as they mounted the steel stairs leading to the chamber.

"We don't have much of a choice, but it's also another test," Kaworu replied once they confronted the steel door that kept out most intruders but only a select personages; a larger, massive door was besides it, built out of the strongest alloys possible, more than 80 meters tall and six meters thick, enough to fit an Eva to come inside.

Using telekinesis once more, Kaworu jimmied the lock internally, and the door slid open, before they walked into the chamber, to look and see Lilith in her full visage.

A grotesque creature, pale colored, and still dripping with LCL, Lilith was nailed to a primer-painted steel cross that was her prison for years. Her other half now has slowly growing legs extending out of her main body.

Seemingly lifeless, her multi-eyed mask stared down at the Children, as they walked closer and along the pool's edge.

Left behind, Shinji and Unit-01 was still locked in combat, trying to get Unit-02 off from them. "Kaworu!" he gasped, landing more blows at the renegade opponent. "Come back here!"

One hit made Unit-02 to loosen its grip on the Prog Knife's handle, dropping it onto the ground. But that Eva didn't gave up and gathered to jump upon Unit-01 with her remaining emergency energy supplies.

"ARRRGH! That does it!" Shinji yelled before he threw at the red Eva's head the hardest punch he could muster by thought, and the heavy concussion finally shortened the antagonist's battery.

Without missing a beat, Unit-01 kicked away her inert enemy, got up on two feet and went after Kaworu.

With Rei besides him, Kaworu stared up at Lilith and said, "So, this is her, after all."

"Yes," Rei answered.

"She is different," Kaworu remarked. "Adam was our mother being, and those born from Adam will have to return to once more, even at the risk of annihilating all of humanity."

The Fifth Children turned to Rei and added, "I wasn't supposed to do this, I made my promise but I really lied to everyone, even to you."

The girl was shedding tears silently, but Kaworu gently brushed her cheeks with his fingers to wipe them away.

"Don't worry about me, but I have something in mind," he said. "I wanted to do something in such a way that we can all win."

"Are you going to merge with Lilith?" Rei asked.

But without answering Kaworu levitated upward, rising until he was level with Lilith's face, hovering over the immense pool of LCL that she produced constantly.

"You'll wait and see," he finally said, before they turned around to see the massive steel door being cut-welded and then Unit-01 kicked it in and stepped inside, Prog Knife in hand, making huge splashes as she waded into the lake.

"I'm going to stop you myself!" Shinji declared as Kaworu, without making a struggle or evading away, allowed the purple Eva to wrap her hands around him, instantly imprisoning the Angel completely.

"Thank you," Kaworu said, smiling at the otherwise confused Shinji. "I wished you to keep Unit Two, or I would've lived with her."

"I couldn't quite understand you," Shinji replied, feeling anguished. "You did nothing but you gave me this much trouble, and… what do you want?"

Kaworu sighed in resignation, and said, "If I die, only then I can be considered free, and you can have the chance to do more."

"Please," Shinji said. "I gave you everything for you to understand me, and then… Why do you have to risk our friendship to lead me all the way to this end?"

"I'm sorry if I lied to you," Kaworu replied. "I lied because you wouldn't want to hear the truth about me and my nature, my mission and my objective."

Shinji couldn't say another word.

"But that's all changed," Kaworu went on. "The thing is, I want you to understand yourself, and you're supposed to know yourself, your strengths that have to be focused on, while your weaknesses must be dealt with and remedied."

The Fifth Children looked down to see Rei, now on her knees and crying silently.

"You see, you do have potential to save this world we all exist in, whether you like it or not," Kaworu continued. "The problem is that you're too reluctant to face the facts."

"No, I'm ready," Shinji said. "Yet this isn't what I wanted, or I expected."

"Then you were quite mistaken in assuming that Angels are not of this world," Kaworu said, "and thus be destroyed. To assume is a mistake, and to not knowing your enemy without knowing yourself as well could spell the end of everything that you hold dear to."

The Third Children sighed, as he relaxed his grip on Kaworu. "I trusted you," he said, "I learned a few things from you, I understood what it takes to live and fight, yet… In the end you betrayed my trust, and everyone else's."

"But why you're letting me go a bit?" Kaworu asked, noticing that Unit-01 gave less pressure on his body.

"I'm supposed to kill you, but… I feel I just can't do it," Shinji reluctantly said.

"You have only one choice, my brother," Kaworu said, his eyes narrowing. "You'll have to kill me, or risk yourself destroying the human race. The life that escapes being annihilated, and obtains the future should be the one left standing."

Shinji said nothing.

"All of you deserve to exist onward," Kaworu continued. "So, at least I was able to enjoy two rewards in this end."

Shinji peered at Rei below, still waiting for the inevitable, before focusing back at Kaworu. "Her, right?" he asked.

Kaworu sighed. "That's correct," he said. "I loved her for what she is, and filled in the emptiness that's been present in her heart for too long, and then I'm also glad that I was able to meet you."


"Just like you," Kaworu continued, "in the days between the time I came here and now, at first I was indifferent, I knew nothing except for the task that was given, but then I met Rei."

"Go on," Shinji said.

"I've learned much from you and from our friends; I understood what it means to be a human being, what loves and hates that makes one tick from the time of birth, and how humans are formed into what they are, to affect the changes of this world no matter how insignificant some of them are. Above all, it became my task to help you give backbone so that you may have to face the last battle, and then I have to help the rest."

"Like Asuka, Misato…" Shinji trailed away.

"By my touch, I saw the pain in Misato's heart... of loss and repressed grief owing to the death of Ryoji Kaji... Then there was you, feeling sad about what happened to Rei after she slain Brother Armisael in her last sortie."

Shinji blinked. "A... Armisael? You mean that all of you have names?"

"Yes," Kaworu agreed, "That was his name, and so are my other Brethren, including me, and I took the name of Tabris; Armisael's mission was to free Rei's last predecessor from the bondage of your father."

Rei silently nodded in acknowledgement.

"But there was a price to that," Kaworu continued, "which Rei had to pay with her sorrow that up until before I intervened, she had to cope with the pain of not remembering her past. So I made the fateful decision to help you all, to prepare you for the inevitable."

"W... What about Asuka? Misato? And me?" Shinji questioned.

"Without any selfishness," Kaworu answered, "I gave my inner strength to try to help Asuka awaken from her self-destructive misery, and I also helped Misato to see beyond the pain and sorrow of her past, to bring her senses to face the future... But as for you, I wanted to see you overcome the weaknesses that could hinder your final battle."

"But, wait," Shinji asked. "You haven't told me about where you came from… and for whom do you work for?"

Kaworu squinted for a moment and took a breath. "I came here by the orders given to me by the Committee, which your father was supposed to follow. But your father, Commander Ikari, has deviated from the plans of my superiors and, as a penalty for their displeasure towards your father, I was sent here and then foster confusion like a thief in the night."

"Just like what you're doing right now?" Shinji questioned. "Is that what they want, after all the trouble we had to endure, having dodged bullets, saw people die or those trying to kill us?"

"It's not my goal to hurt you, but as much as I don't want this to happen, it must be done," Kaworu answered. "You're the one to effect a change here; you're the one to forge your own destiny, and you have the spotlight now, so if you erase me now, only then you'll be able to confront the danger that's being arrayed against all of you."

Then they heard footfalls coming their way, before security troops began to pour through the door, arrayed themselves in a single file and readied their weapons, aimed squarely at Kaworu. Misato, Asuka and Tsutomo were the last to follow in, before stopping to gaze at Shinji's prisoner.

"Kaworu," Asuka mumbled, before her face transformed into rage. "Damn you, you fucking jackass, you should've told me that you're an Angel, for Chrissakes!" she yelled, her fist clenched upward. "What the hell happened with my Eva? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?"

"I'm sorry," Kaworu sheepishly apologized as Rei walked towards the group and stood besides Misato. "I don't mean to... I just wanted a little spin with her."

The redhead then trained her head to find Lilith in her crucified glory, and this shocked her to near-silence. "What the heck is that thing?"

"Lilith," Misato said dryly. "I'll explain to you later."

Kaworu then returned his attention to Shinji, who was watching all of this. "Well, it seems that I've told you everything you wanted to know. Such a beautiful lie you fell for, and then… Thanks for the memories, my friend."

"And what now?" the Third Children asked.

With nothing to answer, a bright halo of light began to issue forth from Kaworu, filling and overwhelming the chamber, causing everyone to shield with their hands and turn away from the white glare.

"No!" Asuka loudly blurted, barely able to see that only Rei continued to stare at the blinding glow.

"Kaworu..." Shinji whispered and closed his eyes, before he finally tightened his hand around the handle…

And then all of them heard the unearthly, bloody sound of squished flesh, followed by a small splash in the pool of LCL below.

Thousands of meters above and ensconced behind his desk, Gendo Ikari was keeping tabs on ongoing developments when he saw one of the operators stand up and reported, "AT-Field emissions are gone now, sir."

"It means the Seventeenth Angel is now dead," Gendo said as the main display showed position markers where the surviving Eva was located. Deep within him, however, he was satisfied with the desired results of his plan, and thus he felt better and much confident.

"We've now reestablished contact with Unit-01," the operator added. "Should I make radio contact?"

Gendo shook his head. "No, belay that," he commanded. "Instead, I recommend that a cleanup and containment team be deployed immediately."

The operator nodded, before he returned to his console and began to make phone calls, and Gendo returned himself to the usual "thinking" position.

On the other hand, back in Siberia, Keel and the rest of the Committee heard of the news confirming Kaworu's demise, after their satellites no longer detected any AT-Field emissions, followed by succession of radio transmission intercepts.

"The final Angel has accomplished his mission," Evgenyi said. "He did just according to our schedule."

Keel nodded in satisfaction. He then said, "Ikari was such a good friend and brother, sharing the same purpose; our collaborator who understood us. The last task has been accomplished, thanks to his son and Unit One."

The old man then turned to the rest of the council. "Now that the Seventeenth Angel is dead, let us make ourselves ready for our final and greatest work," Keel said. "There will be no ultimatum, no hiding this time; there will be no shelter or escape, for the way is fixed and cannot be changed. No quarter shall be spared, nor time be wasted."

The other members murmured in delight, as though they were awaiting the grand banquet prepared before them, ready to be consumed.

But Keel had other things in mind, so he upraised his hand. "Brethren," he announced. "May I have your attention?"

That shut everyone up, as they readied to listen, thus satisfying Keel's need for an audience.

"I would like to bring you all to see what else we will unleash," the old man said.

"And what are you talking about, Master?" one of them asked, quite unsure as to what other surprises their leader had in mind.

"Come instead," Keel said as he stood up, preparing to walk away. "I have a triumvirate who shall give us our ultimate victory."

When the great flare of light died out, Shinji slowly turned the hand of Unit-01 to face him, and he was greeted by a huge covering of blood painted upon its palm, dripping in rivulets. Disgusted, Shinji then winced from that sight, turning his head away. He collapsed back to the headrest, and tried to think as he recovered himself from the ordeal he'd just endured.

Mother, he thought, blinking. I've just killed my best friend, but I didn't have much of a choice, right?

Author's Notes: This chapter was done in a space of two days, and it's fortunate that I have a single draft for this one, a snippet, really, and let's see… That "idea" file was back in June 16, 2004, and that was a long time ago, when I was starting on this story, back when I had a computer for which to use, and often I would find myself awake all night, brimming with ideas before committing them into pages and pages…

The title was from a 30 Seconds to Mars song, which was appropriate to set the emotional tone of this chapter, and I've come to greatly appreciate their music ever since I brought that album.

Looking forward, there's one last chapter to go to conclude this season, and I think the title "Aftermath" is also appropriate, and afterwards, hell's about to break loose.

Until then, thank you and good evening.

J'ai ose.