By Zed Tea

"Angel, visually confirmed."

Commander Ikari walked into the command center and sat in his usual spot, in his usual posture. Major Katsuragi was, um... currently unavailable, so Gendo had to be directly in charge of the operation this time.

"Here is the highest magnification."

"It isn't budging from its satellite orbit."

"It is maintaining a set distance from our location."

To Gendo, the bridge technicians, and Nerv employees in general, were all the same. He simply couldn't tell them apart, and he had never bothered to learn their names.

"This doesn't look good," the blonde scientist said. Gendo believed her name was Ritsuko or something, but he really didn't care. "The Evas are not capable to attack something from such a long distance."

"This Angel couldn't possibly have arrived at a worse time," Fuyutsuki commented.

"Launch Unit 02," Gendo ordered, "prepare for long range extreme firing."

"Um... We can't, sir."

"Didn't you hear?" Fuyutsuki asked. "The Second Child is not in Unit 02."

"This is unacceptable! Where is she?"

Fuyutsuki sighed before starting his explanation "Well, it seems there was a leak of information." Ritsuko shifted uncomfortably upon hearing this, but nobody seemed to notice. "The Second Child apparently discovered where and how we make the dummy plug system. Right now, she is cackling madly in her way to destroy the dummy plug, um... factory. We have sent a team to retrieve her, but it is going to take a while to bring her back, probably long enough for the angel to do its job and destroy all humanity."

"Damn it," Gendo muttered under his breath. "What is the status of the Third Child?"

"We still have not been able to recover him," Ritsuko reported. "After the operation to take him out of his Eva failed, the Third Child still managed to come out of its core. However, Unit 01 activated immediately afterwards and ate both him and Major Katsuragi, who was nearby. We still have not determined if he is dead or alive, whether he came into contact with the S2 engine Unit 01 also ate, or... well, we really don't know anything at all."

"Damn it!" Gendo said out loud this time. "Fine. Where is Rei, then?"

"We are unable to locate her," One of the bridge techs said. "We just found a note in her apartment, saying that she 'had had enough of this crap' and that she was going to leave the city to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a pop star. Intelligence Division Two has found evidence that she is on her way to Hollywood, though they have not been able to pin down her exact location. If you ask me, sir, I think she has a good shot; she does have a lovely voice after all..."

"That's enough." Gendo stood up, his face a strange mixture of frustration and determination. "Without someone to pilot an Eva, it seems that we have lost our chance to get ourselves rid of the Lance."

"It may be for the best," Fuyutsuki said. "The Lance of Longuinus is such a cool weapon, you know? I don't think I am ready to part with it yet."

Gendo gave his increasingly senile Vice Commander a bemused look before deciding to ignore what the old professor had said. "Anyway, we may not be able to take care of that problem, but if this is indeed the 15th Angel, and it behaves exactly in the same way as the Dead Sea Scrolls described it, then we still have the means to defeat it. Professor, please make sure my transport vehicle is ready in 10 minutes."

Nervousness became evident in Fuyutsuki's voice. "Are you sure about this? I mean, we are only supposed to destroy the Angels! Isn't this a bit too much?"

Gendo started to leave. "You didn't seem to have any problem with what happened to the 13th Angel."

Fuyutsuki was now desperate. "But that was an accident! It was the work of the experimental dummy plug! There is no need to be cruel!"

"We don't have a choice. We currently don't have any other way to dispose of the Angel. We have to do what has to be done."

Before the old professor could say anything else, Gendo walked out of the command center.

It was raining outside. Gendo was calmly walking up a hill at the outskirts of Neo Tokyo-3. He was smoking a cigarette, humming his favorite part of Handel's "Messiah."

Everyone in the command center was feeling very confused. They were watching the main screen, which was displaying their Commander slowing down as he reached the top of the hill.

"What is he doing?" Maya asked. "Why is he going out for a walk at a time like this?"

Makoto looked at Ritsuko. "He isn't planning on taking on the Angel himself, is he?"

"I... I don't know..." Ritsuko glanced up at the spot where Fuyutsuki had been moments earlier. The Sub-commander had excused himself, saying something about not being able to hold down his lunch if he stayed to watch. "There's... something very strange about all this..."

Gendo turned his gaze up to the bright spot that the Angel was illuminating in the sky. After a few moments, he looked down to one of his pockets. He shrugged and drew out gun with his free hand, pointing it at the Angel's general direction.

"What? Is he going to try to shoot it down?" Shigeru said incredulously. "OK, now he has definitely lost it!"

Ritsuko herself wasn't too certain about the sanity of the person she was having an affair with, but then said person was bathed in an intense ray of light. "Wha... what is that? Are you getting any energy readings?"

"Sort of," Makoto said, reluctantly pulling his eyes away from the main screen, "It is visible light, but it seems to be also some sort of AT-field. Magi cannot arrive to a conclusion..."

Up on the hill, Gendo didn't seem to mind too much the blinding light that was surrounding him. He simply put down his weapon and continued to hum, bringing the cigarette to his mouth. 'Look as much as you want,' he thought, a smirk appearing on his face as he inhaled deeply.

"The Commander's brain waves are a little erratic," Maya said quietly. "It is as if mental contamination is taking place, but the Commander seems to be fine..."

"Oh... no..." Ritsuko gasped as it finally dawned on her what was going on. "The Angel... it is looking into the Commander's mind!"

Similar gasps were heard throughout the command center.

The Angel's beam of light started to tremble, and it turned black. The beam then lost its straightness and started to zigzag a little, until it started to fade.

"The... the light is vanishing..." Makoto said, obviously shocked.

"No, it's... it's withering..." Ritsuko was starting to panic. "We... we have to do something... We have to warn the Angel! Can't we find some way to communicate with it? Maybe with smoke signals of something?"

"I don't know!" Shigeru said, desperate. "You are the scientist, you tell us-"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!" A terrifying shriek filled the command center as the image of the 15th Angel appeared the main screen: a bird-like figure that seemed to be writhing in agony. "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Shigeru continued. "Uh... The Angel apparently learned our language from... the Commander's mind..." He tried not to think about what the Angel may be seeing, but he wasn't very successful. "Ugh... Maybe we can-"

"OH GOD NO!" The 15th was now convulsing, its body gradually losing its glow. "THAT WAS HORRIBLE! I CAN'T KEEP GOING! I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE-"

There was a white flash, and moments later, there was nothing. "Th-the Angel has committed suicide..." Makoto said with some difficulty. "I-I mean, it has self-destructed..."

Everyone went silent as the main screen once again showed Gendo Ikari. He dropped what was left of his cigarette and pressed it with his foot. He then started to walk down the hill, still humming as if nothing had happened.

When he walked into the command center several minutes later, he noticed that his employees had fled, except for a very much shaken Ritsuko.

"I... I think we should start seeing other people..." she finally found the courage to say.

Gendo gave her a dismissive wave of his hand, making it clear that he couldn't care less about whatever it was she was saying, and then proceeded to his office.

"Ikari, that was completely unnecessary!"

To Gendo, his superiors were just like his employees. With the exception of the infamous Kiel, he wouldn't be able to tell them apart if it weren't for the numbers stamped at the top of their monoliths.

"Why did you do that?"

"I made destroying the Angel my first priority," Gendo replied evenly, "it was an unavoidable situation."

"Don't lie to us, Ikari."

"You should make your excuses more convincing than that."

"Your recent actions have become intolerable."

"Even though we are at war, we have some sense of decency."

"Even we know that there are certain things that shouldn't be done!"

"Your job is only to kill the Angels. There is no need to send them to hell first."

"I could not use any of the Evas," Gendo countered. "There were no other options. Results are all that matter; anything beyond that is insignificant."

"That may be true, but still, you showed the Angel what was in your... your..."

Although Gendo could not see it, he could tell that the members of Seele had just shivered.

A phone rang from his desk's drawer. The Commander opened it and answered. "We are in the middle of deliberations here." Silence. "All right." He hung up. "The Grammy Awards Ceremony is drawing near. I have to oversee the operation to retrieve the First Child. Perhaps we'll get lucky and finally catch her there. Let us continue this at another time."

"If your seat is waiting for you, that is."

"And please, stay as far away from the 16th angel as you can, OK?"

Gendo grunted his understanding before his hologram disappeared.

"Perhaps we shouldn't tell Kaworu where Adam actually is..."

"Maybe it would be best if we didn't even send him to Nerv!"

"Yes, no need for another suicidal Angel."

"Indeed. Our journey has been long, and the sacrifices have been great."

"Yes, poor Arael didn't have go like that."

"But the promised day is near."

"Still, we now have a very serious problem in or hands."

"Which is?"

"When the promised time comes, all souls will become one... including Ikari's."

The members of Seele shivered again.