Author's Note: After many, many days of arguing with myself, I still cannot decide which one of two or three endings I actually want to write, so I decided to go with an ambiguous ending which leaves a lot to the imagination and allows me to come back and make a sequel later on when I have finished being at war with myself. I've been thinking about just completing it, one way or another, but I decided to just end it like this, so that I can take however long I need to before writing a sequel. Before you start gunning for me, remember how ambiguous the ending of the series was (still haven't watched End of Evangelion).
At World's End
Browne burst into Valaskas' office. "Bastard! You tried to kill me!"
"No, I didn't." Valaskas said.
"We both know you're lying!" Browne said.
Valaskas shrugged. "Alright. I tried to kill you. Sorry. The opportunity presented itself, and it was too sweet to resist. But hey, you got out alive, SEELE's dead, and we won."
"Give me one good reason I shouldn't kill you right now," Browne said.
"I could have a dozen guards up here within a minute," Valaskas said.
Browne laughed. "Please tell me you did not just try to bluff me! There's a reason that never lose at poker, remember?"
"You're right. I've got nothing," Valaskas said calmly. "I assume you have a way to kill me right here, and a coroner you can bribe to say my death was a heart attack, or something. What is it, I wonder? What is your weapon of choice? Poison, I bet. Something quick and painless, knowing you, and something very, very potent. You like your poisons potent."
"You're about to find out unless you manage to talk your way out of it," Browne "subconsciously" twitched towards his left pocket with his hand of the same side. Valaskas should have known better, as this sort of thing was child's play for Browne, but he fell for it. Valaskas was now convinced that whatever weapon Browne had was in that pocket.
"Alright, then: you need me. I am the one with the strategies, with the contacts, who can stand to be in the spotlight. Yes, I tried to kill you, and it was wrong of me. The opportunity presented itself, and I could not resist. I wanted to be the only one at the top of this pyramid. The opportunity will not likely avail itself again, and I know that you'd smell it a mile away if I actually planned to kill you, so there is relatively little risk in letting me live. You want to be a sociopath, man. This is what sociopaths do."
"Yes. It is." Browne held out his hand to shake. Right hand. The last knuckle of the middle finger had been replaced with a plastic container, which had a millimeters-long needle that could be extended from the flesh to inject a target. The poison? DX. The chemical that was DX was a weapon of mass destruction—a single droplet of it could kill ten people. Browne had a few milliliters of the stuff, enough to last him a lifetime's worth of assassinations.
Author's Commentary (As If You Care):
IT!!! IS!!! OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sorry for the ambiguous ending (please don't kill me). (Two ambiguous endings, actually—we don't know if Shinji and company is going to fight back against Browne and Valaskas or not, and neither do we know if Browne killed Valaskas or not.) Originally, I had a definite ending planned (in which the bad guys won, BTW), but towards the end of this story, I began thinking, No, wait, Shinji and company should fight back against Browne and Valaskas. I couldn't decide if I wanted the happy ending or the not-so-happy ending, so I decided to go with an ambiguous ending. This way, whatever I decide, I can do it in the sequel. Or, if I remain really on the fence about it, I could write two sequels one in which the bad guys win and one in which they lose. Hey, infinite multiverse, remember? Or I could just leave it like this. Actually, I've been kicking around an idea for a sequel, a prequel (explaining the breaking point between the world of At World's End and the world of Evangelion and how it lead to this), and something else besides, and the more I kick, the more likely one of these is to actually become reality. It's not much, yet, though.
But then, this story didn't start out as much. Would you believe that this story, far and away the largest fanfic I have ever written (almost twice as long as the nearest competitor (Ties That Bind from the InuYasha fandom) and more than three times as long as the next nearest (Atomsk's Heir from the FLCL fandom)), was originally intended to be a one-shot? It's true: When I originally started writing this, I wasn't writing At World's End; I was writing a one-shot entitled Contemplation. The theme of that story? Misato sleeps with Shinji, and then starts wondering why the hell she did it. Contemplation was to be pure Misato and Shinji. You weren't to be able to tell when, in the series of events, it happened, and other characters weren't to make cameos. They were to be, for all intents and purposes, alone in the universe, symbolizing that their universes center on one another. Romantic and symbolic, no?
Basically, if you take chapter one of this story and edit out all of the parts about Gendo being dead, visiting Asuka in the hospital, Kowaru and his warning, and that guy trying to knife Shinji, you would get something akin to what Contemplation would have been. Also, it was to start with Misato lying in bed with a sleeping Shinji, all things that happened before that occurring in flashbacks. In other words, materially speaking, it was…deficient. Lovely, yes, but I didn't have enough filler.
I needed more substance. So, I hybridized it with another idea I had, about a tale of espionage, political intrigue, and other stuff. I called it At World's End, because it was supposed to have something of an apocalyptic feel to it, at least in places. But where did that idea come from?
I wanted to write myself into a story (when I realized that, when Evangelion takes place, I'll be 30). It was as simple as that. It was better to be a villain, I thought, because they are almost totally immune to Mary Sue Disease. Villains can be powerful without overshadowing heroes, because that power builds up the heroes that take them down. When villains are emo, it's called being complex. Besides, villains tend to be the exact opposite of what Mary Sues and Gary Stues are created be. Writers of Gary Stues want people to think their characters are awesome (which they aren't). Writers of villains want their characters to be hated. Besides, being a villain is cool. You get to be morally dubious (offering Shinji and Asuka alcohol, anyone?) and try to take over the world, or at least control your corner of it with iron-fisted ironfistiness. Oh, yeah, it's fun to be evil. You know you wanna try it.
So, if I were to be a villain, what kind of villain should I be? How did I become a villain? In real life, I'm actually a pretty nice guy. Well, lets just chock it up to post-impact weirdness (I did end up elaborating on it later on, with the Chirac back-story). Also, in real life, there are times when I think I am too nice for my own good. If evil me takes that to the extreme, it could be an endorsement of sociopathy. His special ability is also taken to an extreme. I figured, I always had an interest in what makes people tick, so, taken to an extreme, once again, evil me has a pretty valuable asset, which will make him difficult for the good guys to deal with. And of course, I'd somehow have to make it so that my chronic shyness doesn't get in the way. Self-hypnotism took care of that, and made evil me just that much better at what he did, as well, giving him the ability to subconsciously influence others in small ways by controlling his own would-be subconscious reactions.
And now for my second OC: Señior Jose Valaskas. Valaskas is loosely—very loosly—based on a friend of mine. "Jose Valaskas" is not even his real name, just an alias he said one time that he would use if he ever needed one. I'm not even sure if "Valaskas" is a real name, or if I'm spelling it right if it is (my Microsoft word spellchecker says that it's not a word, but then, according to it, neither is Kaji). Ironically, though in the story Browne can speak Japanese and Valaskas can't, in reality, I can't speak Japanese—but Adam (Jose) can! Valaskas and Browne are to this story what SEELE and Gendo are to the series. Valaskas is shadowy, in the background, and nominally in control, but he doesn't really control what Browne does, and they are actually friends, or at least as close to friends as Browne has.
Don James, however, is completely fictional (as are all of the OCs from "Many Truths Revealed", but none of them are worth mentioning—no, not even Jessica…oops). Him saying that Browne is "like a father to him" is actually something of a hidden pun, for I am his creator, and thus, in a sense, his father. I believe that after Don James dies, Browne said something like "I feel like this is my fault; if it wasn't for me, he never would have been here. I made him what he was" (I'm not sure of that quote, though; I could as easily have forgotten to write that line). Well, if it wasn't for me, he never would have existed, for I did make him…what he was. (Another inside joke between me and me (and now you) is when alternate-Browne drunkenly proclaims to be the villain of his own story.)
Don James' personality was largely shot from the hip. In chapter eight, I knew right from the beginning that he was going to die at the end of the chapter, which could explain why I decided to make him so Gary-Stuish. Then, in chapter nine, I had a scene in which a spy was talking to his masters in SEELE, and I thought, hey, wouldn't it be unexpected if that traitor was Don James? I offered no explanation as to what made Don James a traitor then, and I had none…but I soon thought of one. That's where the whole alternate-universe-viewing-through-the-Ark thing really came from. Originally, Shinji was supposed to have a sudden realization, remember things that had happened over the course of the story which hinted at what HALO was really doing, but I ended up letting the cat out of the bag to my readers at the end of chapter six (what can I say? It just felt right).
Besides, there were so many, many things that I wanted to explore but couldn't without the pretext of alternates. That's why "Many Truths Revealed" ended up being three chapters instead of one.
Anyway, back to Don James for just one second. Sorry, there's one more thing I want to talk about, namely, his conversion to Satanism. That wasn't even planned. I just happened to read something about Satanism one day, and I thought, "Hey—this is Don James!" I have no idea what the specific tenants of Satanism are, but I figured that whatever they are, he'd decide that he was doing what he was doing for the wrong reasons, because…well, most of humanity would agree that his reasons are pretty fucking stupid. Maybe finding a religion that works for him would fill that hole in his heart he is trying to fill with deceit and treachery. And yes, his sync ratio of -300 is meant to mirror Shinji's ratio of 400 (300 percentage points above what is possible on a percentage scale). Don James was not pilot material, but he was unwilling to accept defeat, even against nature, and so he died. Again. A bit competitive, I guess I am trying to say.
Like I said, earlier, the more I think about it, the more likely an actual sequel would actually be. I even have a title I've been kicking around: At World's End: Brinkmanship. And the prequel will be At World's End: Genesis, or maybe At World's End: the Beginning, something like that. Understand, this is hardly a promise of new stories to come. I don't like to make promises unless I am absolutely 100 sure of something, for fear of invoking Murphy's Law. I actually shy away from chapter works for this very reason. My last chapter work (Ties That Bind, again) was on hiatus for several months, and another chapter work of note (Distant Shores, DBZ fandom) is still incomplete (although, as each "part" has its own independent plot as well as contributing to the story arch, you could argue that it is actually two stories in a series submitted as one)! Still, you might have these things and more to look forward to in the universe of At World's End.
I suppose you're all wondering about Kaji. Why he was working for HALO, that is. Well, he was working for everyone else, wasn't he? SEELE, NERV, the Japanese government. Besides, he seemed like the kind of guy Browne and Valaskas would associate with: one with dubious loyalties and who operates in the grey areas.
I have another Evangelion story, Requiem. It's about my second favorite pairing next to Misato/Shinji: Shinji/Kowaru. Gotta warn you, though, it takes on an entirely different theory about the Eva universe as does this one. Still, I recommend you read it if you liked this story (and if you didn't like it, WTF are you doing still reading??? This story is fifteen fucking chapters long, plus epilog!). I called it Requiem because it is beautiful and poetic, but sad as fuck. I forgot to mention that in its own Author's Commentary (three wimpy paragraphs long!).
Thank you for reading. I hoped you liked it. Please R&R. Be sure to read the sequel.