Amor Domina Vincit

Last Update: 3/27/2018

VIII: Broken Pieces, Part I

Somewhere in Germany

Keel stood before the culmination of his madness… much like the Rei-quarium in NERV, Keel had his own for another. A loud set of tones from his left told him the process was almost completed. A cylinder of metal lowered before him with tubes and wires connected above, spiraling upward to some unseen machina. The slow motion of the tube rather reminded Keel of a funeral procession. In a way this was close, as the occupant would have already been dead for some time. If the process worked as well as Keel hoped, he'd have the perfect weapon in which to complete the final stage of the plan.

The cylinder opened, and a white-haired boy fell to the floor with a dull thud. Twitching ever so slightly and half curled, the boy slowly started coming alive. Keel kneeled down and inspected the boy for any flaws as he attempted to awaken. Quickly the boy recovered from his rebirth and slowly began to sit up.

"Keel," he said dispassionately as he sat there with an arm draped over one knee, only now opening his eyes. "I see I've been pulled back somehow."

"Indeed, Tabris you have," Keel replied preferring to use his angelic name rather than his given Lilim name. He looked at his PDA which showed the artifact in his office. Tabris's name stayed lit despite his resurrection. "And I see my experiment has proven successful."

"I was dead," Tabris noted. "My part of the seal is broken. But why have you brought me back?"

"Ikari has failed," he replied immediately. "I need you to find and eliminate the fifteenth."

"I see," Tabris replied. "So, my new life is contingent upon my cooperation then."

"You think you are being coerced?"

"Keel," he said with a sad smile. "I can sense the explosive implanted into my body. I know what your plan for me is when I am finished. You still wish to begin the Red Earth Ceremony."

Keel looked at him dispassionately as he spoke.

"My brothers and sisters have failed. The time of the Angels is over… I fear my sister will prolong the inevitable as long as she can so of course… I'll help you. I only wish it could be some other way."

"The events set in motion cannot be stopped by any agency," Keel replied as Tabris finally began to stand. "No matter if it is human or angelic. I will give you time to adjust to being alive once more, then you will concentrate all of your efforts on finding the last of the Angels and destroying her."

To signal the finality of his desire, Keel turned and left without another word.

"So," Tabris whispered softly. "He brought me back… but my soul is already gone…" His face twisted into a wicked smile. "I cannot enact Third Impact any longer, at least not as I am now. Humanity will learn its place… and one way or another I will usher in a new era… only this time, it is I who will hold the reins of power over the world. Oh, Keel Lorenz…. If only you knew how liberating it is to not have a soul…."

The light echoing chuckle behind him seemed to intensify at that notation. Beyond the dark glass were the System Kawrou Dummy Plugs… his soulless clones in the well. As Tabris turned to them they stopped randomly giggling and laughing and simply stared at him as if he disserved their undivided attention.

"Sorry Keel," he whispered. At once, all of his brothers in the well spoke in one voice.

"But you can't control us any longer."

Beyond Reality

It has been five days since Arael's dramatic escape from Terminal Dogma, and she still felt like she never left. Shinji has been a non-stop beacon of light in her life and a support she could never again be without. But even after this time has passed the scars were still fresh. Of course, as an Angel, her physical scars were long gone… but as a Nephilim, the mental and emotional scars are not likely to heal in a hundred lifetimes.

She took in the surreal landscape she floated over. It was as if a huge temple had its walls mostly knocked down and its ceiling removed… then displaced into mid air surrounded by clouds of pure white and suspended in constant dawn. Such was the scenery of the place Arael knew as "The Last Sanctuary".

Below her, she saw Shinji by Misato's bedside. While the floor was stone tile, the beds were what Shinji was used to because Arael summoned them. Misato's missing hair was growing in now and most of her injuries including the missing patches of skin were healing over. She woke up a few times only to moan in pain and weep at her own mental injuries handed to her by her former best friend turned mad scientist.

Arael frowned at the implications of that… Misato was full of life and light. Though her soul held a dark burden, she shouldered it well and nothing it seemed would deter her from doing her job and getting revenge or having a good time. She was the kind of person who pushed the envelope whenever she could, be it in job performance, her own drinking, or just in halving a good time. It was as if she abhorred borders, boundaries and limitations. To see her like this, broken and lost, was truly distressing.

Shinji, of course, was even more affected by it. He was the most used to Misato's apparent lack of inhibitions, and although the teasing was incessant at some points, he loved her like the mother he had lost. It upset him to no end to see her like this, and when he thought about those responsible, his mind was filled with rage.

In the past five days his eyes had been shifting ever so slowly but surely towards crimson. Now they were almost fully crimson. The left-over cobalt in them gave them an almost purplish look. As of late, his hair had also begun to lighten, looking a very dark grey now but soon, he knew it would be white… white like Arael's hair. He had wondered if he would change his mind about not caring if he was transforming further down the road. Now he knew for certain that he didn't care at all. His powers he could feel have been growing more and more. While he may never get to Arael's level of power, he may reach a level close to it. It made him feel stronger and strengthened his resolve.

Come hell or high water, Ikari Gendo must die. He didn't even refer to him as "father" anymore. In his mind, he stopped being his father a very long time ago. Now he was simply another evil man who needed to be removed for the good of the world.

Arael's gaze turned towards the fountain area of the sanctuary. Sitting on the lip of the fountain staring into the pure water was Ayanami Rei. One hand lazily swished through the cool water, and she was quite obviously lost in her thoughts.

Rei had now been without the medicine that was supposed to keep her alive for five days. She now knew with absolute certainty that the reason she was taking the pills was utter bullshit. Ever since she missed a dose, she started to notice things she never did before. Her vision seemed more vibrant, her sense of touch far more sensitive, and her emotions were starting to rise to the surface like oil in water. The feel of the water was even more exquisite then her best days in the NERV swimming pool, and this was just her hand. She determined that she would soon disrobe and wade into the water to feel it over every inch of her body, because to her, it would now feel as if it were the first time.

The drugs had done nothing but stunt her senses, submerge her emotions and rob her of everything that it was to be human. It made her passive, controllable, introverted and most importantly, it made her a living doll. She was the very thing Asuka once accused her of being, and Gendo wanted her that way so she could fulfill her purpose.

Of course, the worst news of it was a secret she would try to keep to herself forever, though the memory of it was forever burned into her heart. As she thought of it, a tear threatened to break from her eye on a mad dash down her cheek, but she fought with every ounce of her being to make sure no one saw it, though she suspected Arael might have already known considering her Psychic nature…

… Gendo did take advantage of the fact that Rei was completely passive on more than one occasion. She remembered it well; he would come in the cover of night. Section-2 Agents would wait outside the door to give them privacy. He would arrive at 11pm and leave by 3am. This went on at least twice a week ever since she turned 13... the new legal age of consent set in place over all the surviving prefectures of Japan after Second Impact.

Rei had no doubt that if Shinji knew about what his so-called father had done to her, it would take more power than she had to stop him from trying to get to Gendo now. Shinji had all but publicly declared that Rei was his sister, and that meant he felt close enough to her that if he knew she was being raped by Gendo twice a week for the past year and a half, his rage would be beyond control… and in his new state of being, that was extremely dangerous.

Arael knew much about what Rei went through but not because she scanned Rei, but because Rei was having a hard time keeping those thoughts to herself and not broadcasting them all over the sanctuary. Without the drugs to keep her emotions in check, it was only a matter of time before she lost complete control and needed a shoulder to cry on. Arael could relate there… her first week of existence on Earth had her falling from the sky, learning emotions the hard way, finding true love, aiding in the murder of one of her siblings and finally nearly being dissected by Ritsuko… not to mention her separation anxiety and multiple personality episode.

All in all, the last two weeks were hell for her… and the good didn't do anything to outweigh the bad… That week consisted of more experiments, killing her dark half, aiding in the murder of the last of her brethren and teleporting the lot of her friends to a place that humanity had not visited in many thousands of years….

The Last Sanctuary….

It is an artificial construct, created by the Angels in a time when they shared the planet with the Lilum. It is a place that was once neutral ground, where Angel and Lilum could converse and learn from each other freely. When humanity and the Angels finally came to blows, they left this place and never came back. Humanity lost the knowledge to it over time, but the Angels knew it still existed. It served as a stop over before reaching Earth during the war, a staging ground. Of course, this went against the spirit of its original purpose. This sanctum was never meant to be a rallying point or a beachhead or have anything to do with an Angel / Lilum war.

Such was the determination of the Angels. Tabris spoke of honor, but how many of the angels truly fought honorably? Arael could probably count them on one hand, and this blatant lack of honor only worsened as the war continued. Bardiel was a prime example of that, forcing a sadistic choice on those chosen to defend Earth.

But did it matter anymore? All of the angels were now dead… all except her and Lilith. She alone was now the key to Third Impact… well maybe not her alone. She suspected that Rei had a part to play in the Red Earth Ceremony but she couldn't guess as to what that entailed. Though she knew a lot about the White Earth Ceremony, knowledge of the other was not with her. She knew the basics, the forced joining of Adam to Lilith though a medium of some form but….

Arael floated down to Shinji at Misato's bedside, refusing to ponder this any further for the time being. Misato had just passed out again allowing Shinji to move away for a time. He took Arael into his arms and kissed her before she realized what he was doing. Arael loved the fact that he felt freer to express his emotions, even if they had yet to become one. Her fluffy white wings closed around them keeping them within a blanket of soothing warmth. They enjoyed each other's touch for a time beneath her feathers before she finally spoke.

"That was nice," she whispered.

"I'm glad you enjoyed that… I love you Arael, and I am so happy we can be together like this at last."

Arael smiled. "I love you too Shinji-kun, and I wish we can stay like this."

"Can't we?" He asked. "Who will find us here?"

Arael's smile faded as she remembered her last dream. In it she saw Tabris's resurrection and Keel's involvement therein. She really didn't want to bring this up to Shinji, but he needed to know.

"Tabris," she replied. "He either has already been, or soon will be, resurrected by Keel." Her wings opened revealing that Rei was now close by. She was still clothed though, and her right arm was completely wet from the fountain.

"How is that possible?" Shinji asked with dismay creeping into his voice. "I crushed him."

"The same way the Commander was able to resurrect me," Rei replied. She opened that part of her mind to Shinji and he saw it… the Rei-quarium. "You didn't think he wouldn't make spares?"

"Ah yes," Shinji replied, recalling his battle with Armisael and Bardiel, "the dummy plug… System Rei I think I remember seeing."

"Each dummy plug is one of my clones. The holding tank I showed you is where he kept the spares." His mind heard the giggling of the clones. "I had died long ago at the hands of Naoko Akagi, Ritsuko's mother. Gendo told me to call her an 'Old Hag'. I did, and she killed me for it, then killed herself. After that, he brought me back and my soul jumped into the clone."

"So basically what you are saying is you are actually Rei 2?" Shinji asked sadly. The fact that his father violated her genes was already established, the fact that he made spares was just horrible, but he couldn't focus on that now… he had to keep a level head.

"That would be a correct assumption," she replied. "My sisters in the well are just soulless shells."

"So if the bastard has that technology at his hands, then SEELE has it too."

"Yes, but there is a slight hitch," Arael replied. "Rei's soul is derived from the angel Lilith who is the mother of all Lilum. Her soul is transient by nature allowing the soul to jump to new body upon death. The Lilum refer to this as reincarnation. Adam and the souls of the angels are not transient at all. When they die, their souls return to the All-Father but only though him can they achieve rebirth. After the so-called contact experiment in Antarctica, Adam lost much of his form and energy and cannot resurrect the angels currently. It'll take him another 985 years at least to regain that power, so all the souls have returned to him and become part of him again, and thusly can't be resurrected."

"Hold on," Shinji cut in. "Wouldn't that trigger the impact though?"

"No," Arael replied. "A dead soul, one that has lived and no longer does, can't do it. The Angel soul must still be in a live body to initiate the reaction needed to instigate impact."

"So that means…" Shinji's eyes widened at the implication of this. "Keel brought or will soon bring Tabris back, without a soul."

"Yes," Arael replied. "And a soulless creature is something truly evil. There is nothing to guide it morally. Thoughts and understanding of right and wrong are useless if the individual has no driving spirit to guide them to do the right thing. An empty shell of an individual is effectively one that never has to look in the mirror and truly see what they have become. There is no telling what he can and likely will do. Worse yet, the power is still within his genes. Despite not having a soul, his genetic power will still allow him to create what you call an AT Field, and his memories would still be intact."

"Meaning he would hate us for killing him," Shinji continued, "and as an Angel, he knows where this place is." Arael looked down in sadness. "I knew it was too good to last," Shinji said darkly. "How much time do we have?"

"Not much," she replied, "if any."


"Which leaves us with a major problem…"

"Misato-san," Shinji replied without missing a beat.

"You, me and Rei are all Nephilim. She is still human and thus vulnerable and a liability."

"Let me talk to her," he replied. "I think she'd want to be brought across."

"It could be dangerous in her state."

"She's dead either way," Shinji said sourly. "At this rate she wouldn't survive the trip without help, not sure how she would take it though. She's always hated the Angels ever since Second Impact. I doubt she'd like the idea of becoming half-angel… but maybe she'll do it, if only to gain the strength to get revenge on that bastard and his bottle-blonde-bitch of a mad scientist concubine."

"Cruel," Rei commented, "but good word use."

"Very well," Arael conceded, "but in the meantime, we need to discuss what we are going to do to stop SEELE and the Commander from fulfilling their desires."

"What can we do?" Shinji replied. "Just as soon as we rear our heads, we're gonna have crosshairs on them. Seems like everyone and their mother-in-law's second cousin twice removed wants us dead."

"There is only one way to end the threat of Third Impact once and for all," Arael replied, "and as much as I hate to say it, I'm willing to go through with it anyway… we must destroy Adam once and for all."

Silence reigned for nearly 15 seconds before Shinji spoke up.

"And just how are we going to do that?" Shinji replied. "They shoved the Lance of Longinus into him and that didn't kill him."

"He seems neigh invincible but right now he's quite vulnerable if we can find him. The tricky part however is that I can't physically touch him at all, otherwise the White Earth Ceremony would begin and there would be nothing to stop it. My will is not stronger than Adam's. As Nephilim you are both safe."

"But aren't you a Nephilim too now? If Nephilim can't enact Third Impact, how are you still a risk?"

"You were human originally, I was originally an Angel that adopted Nephilim form… my essence is still angel and I can still trigger the impact as a result."

"I was designed as a bridge," Rei responded, "but as that bridge I can enact third impact being in essence a clone of Lillith. Despite the fact that I already died once, my transient soul can still trigger the impact."

"The Red Earth Ceremony," Arael replied, "which means, that it is up to you and potentially Misato to destroy Adam."

"So yet again I have to save the world," Shinji replied sourly. "Go figure."

"You should be used to it by now," Arael replied playfully.

Shinji just smiled. "This time at least, I know it will be for the right reasons."

"For now, we need to avoid Tabris. There is no way I'd risk sending you in to destroy Adam without being at your full potential. If Misato decides to become Nephilim I assume you'd want to wait for her as well."

"Yeah, I could use the back up."

"Very well. When Misato wakes up we'll pose the question. If she says yes, I'll implant the seed within her. Doing so will change her faster than the small infusion from me that changed you. With any luck, both you and her will be ready at the same time."

"Sounds like a plan," Shinji replied. "How am I supposed to destroy Adam?"

"He's vulnerable but you'll need to cancel his AT Field as normal. It'll likely take both you and Misato to do it, assuming she agrees. We need to find out where Adam even is first. If he's been subjugated, he must be within Terminal Dogma somewhere."

"He isn't," Rei replied. "After Second Impact, he was reduced to an embryonic form. That embryo has been grafted into the Commander's right hand."

"Oh Gods!" Arael exclaimed. "I was so close to him on so many occasions… I never knew he had Adam on him! Do you realize over the course of the experiments on me how close we were to executing the White Earth Ceremony? No wonder he never came close enough to touch me… he knew what would happen if he did!"

"Bastard," Shinji muttered under his breath as he turned away. The thoughts of what Arael had been though under Ritusko's 'care' continued to upset him.

"Shinji," Arael whispered, forcing him to turn around. She placed her hands on his chest and leaned her head between them. Shinji's eyes closed as he wrapped his arms around her.

"I'll get him back for what he did to you Ara-chan, I swear it."

"I know," she whispered back, holding her tears in check. "But please be careful when the time comes."

Roma, Catacombs of San Callisto

Of all the places one can search for information on Christian Mythologies, a catacomb was the last place Lieutenant Kichi thought they'd look for it. Of course, he was fiercely loyal to Tashima above anyone else, so he tended to block out what even the highest tiers of NERV had to say to him in favor of listening to Noboru-sama… and Noboru-sama was always right.

The darkness of the catacomb was matched only by the dry and musty odor of a long forgotten tomb, and the effect on morale for the squad was as expected….

"This sucks," came the voice of one of the operatives behind him. Unlike their work in Tokyo-3, here in Rome they were all wearing the spec-ops outfits that Tashima was famous for.

"Cut the chatter Tsugai," Tashima scolded in a low voice. "These catacombs may be abandoned, but that doesn't mean they're disserted.

Of course, he was right, but as far as Kichi knew the only people who would hole up down here were vagrants or criminals, both of which preferred to stay out of the limelight. If they saw a spec-ops team in full tac-gear along with automatic weapons, they'd probably make sure to stay out of the way. Certainly, they'd be no threat to them. If Noboru-sama was worried about being seen then by default, there must be something potentially more formidable down here. Again, Kichi wasn't about to question.

They continued to move forward. The goggles each member was equipped with looked like standard safety glasses, but their specialized surface was designed to provide full night vision to every member of the team without restricting their view. In the darkness, Kichi grimly noted the dead bodies lying upon shelves with their hands cross over the chests. This place gave him the willies too, but he had more self-control than that.

"Keep sharp," he whispered over subvocal communications. "I got a bad feeling about this."

"Good instincts Lieutenant," Tashima replied. "We're close. I knew you were right for the job."

A moment later all hell broke loose. From ahead of the group the passage belched forth a wave of merciless lead that chipped the stone around them and even hit a few of the desiccated bodies sending out bursts of corpse dust. The unit immediately fell into whatever cover was available, despite the dreadful proximity to the long dead Christians.

"How many you catch?" Tashima asked his Lieutenant.

"About half a dozen," he began, "they have a Breda M30 on a bipod."

Tashima was impressed that Kichi managed to catch that much when the first wave of fire came out, but little surprises out of his protégé were expected now. He knew the former JSSDF Sergeant was more than the sum of his appearance, and he continued to prove it in every encounter.

Yelling in Italian erupted down the corridor and although Kichi didn't speak Italian, Tashima did. They were warning the group away or they would open fire again, saying something about a place not for blasphemers or some such nonsense.

"Kichi… the M32 please."

Kichi never bother to ask how Noboru-sama managed to get his hands on an American made grenade launcher but was more than happy to hold it for him. He tossed it over and with a smooth motion, Tashima took it up and fired three rounds in response to the ultimatum. After a short burst of Italian curses three explosions ripped down the hallway sending dust, body parts (some previously alive, others long since dead) and material in every direction.

Moments later, more gunfire came down the hallway from the Italian side but the LMG was silenced, meaning they did grievous damage to the unit already. Tashima gave the order to move and the Section-2 team began to deftly shift from cover to cover position trading shots with the Italians. Kichi himself scored several kills in the first few minutes while Tashima took out more. The rest of the team held up their own by foiling an attempted ambush from behind.

After nearly 10 long minutes of fighting and a few dozen dead Italians later, Tashima called it clear.

Kichi came upon one of the bodies of the men he killed. He was dressed in a spec ops uniform of some kind, but he had a rosary around his neck. Using his knife, he cut the rosary and saw it was also used as a dog tag. His neck had a tattoo of an intricate cross on it.

"Vatican Spec-Ops?" Kichi asked.

"Looks that way," Tashima confirmed. "The church has done nothing but get in the way of NERV ever since Second Impact. They claimed it was the beginning of the end times and that we shouldn't interfere with the angels. Stupid bastards. If only they knew half of what we knew about the so-called angels, they'd be at our side, not against us."

"Still seems wrong somehow," Kichi replied sadly looking down at the dead warrior-priest. Tashima put a hand on his colleague's shoulder.

"These guys were from the Order of Light, one of the highest ranking spec-ops groups the Vatican has at their disposal. Trust me, church or no, they would kill us without hesitation. Forget what the church tells you about being all about peace. They know the benefits of superior firepower just as well as we do. Funny to see them using such outdated machine guns though."

Kichi watched as Tashima entered the last chamber which was less of a catacomb and more of a library. The door had been blasted open already and the inside, though now with tracked dust from the catacombs was kept clean and at a cool temperature. Kichi noted the air was very dry as well, probably to inhibit mold growth on the scrolls and books.

"A hidden archive?" Kichi asked, though the question was mostly rhetorical. "I have to admit, this is the last place I would have looked for something like this. How did you even know it was here?"

"Trade secret," Tashima replied. "If you're a good little boy, I'll teach you someday."

Kichi smirked at the remark and looked around. "There must be a thousand books here. How are we going to find what we need?"

"I already know what I'm looking for." Pushing a shelf on tracks aside, he found a locked box covered in angelic symbols and Christian art. Using the butt of his rifle he destroyed the ancient lock and opened it, finding a book far larger than any has a right to be inside.

Kichi couldn't believe it was so big. Measuring nearly 80 centimeters from top to bottom, 46 from side to side and over 15 deep, it was an imposing manual.

"A hand," Tashima said as Kichi approached, and with a bit of effort, both of them managed to move the giant book to one of the larger tables.

"We're taking this with us?" Kichi asked.

"We'll we're certainly not leaving it behind. This is quite a find."

"What is it?"

"A bound manuscript… a collection written works from the apostles themselves. According to myth, it is their very words and accounts during the New Testament. In reality, who can say? This book is ancient, dating back to the First Age, and I can tell you that a lot of the Christian faith is utter bullshit. The words are good lessons and have meaning, but the historical accuracy is less than stellar."

"So, the information you need to find where the angel disappeared to is in this book?"

"Maybe, it's my best bet right now."

Kichi nodded. "Alright then."

Tashima ordered two of the men to move the book and the rest of the team took up protective positions around them. As they made their way out, Kichi had a feeling they weren't out of the woods yet…

… he was right.


The sounds of screaming emanated from the labs in the lowest parts of NERV's hidden facilities. Inside the lab a loud sound could he heard which immediately ended the screaming, a sound like a wet thud. Ritsuko still hiding behind the divide had little trouble keeping her lunch down despite the smell of blood and the sight of all the gore around her. For a moment the sound of dripping could be heard and then the door to the lab opened. She moved from behind the divide trying not to step in anything that would leave a lasting stain knowing who was coming in.

"Report," came Gendo's voice as he entered the room and stopped short of stepping in a puddle of gore with a single eye in the blood staring at him. It was a bit disconcerting but Gendo had a far stronger constitution than most, after all, the madman does have the embryo of an angel grafted to his hand.

"Well, as you can see," Ritsuko began, "my first attempts have been failures. The DNA is acting violently with human hosts. This shouldn't be happening, but it is somehow."

"Even though human and angel DNA are nearly identical in most respects?"

"Despite that Commander, yes… this is the first one that reacted so violently to the alterations."

"What of the others?"

Ritsuko carefully made her way across the bloodstained room to another lab. Inside there were several dead bodies, their faces frozen in a rictus of fury and tinged with a pain unknowable.

"Completely beyond control; they turned into vile raging beasts and had to be put down. There was no way to stabilize them."

Gendo's frown intensified slightly. "Unacceptable. For this plan to succeed, we need them viable and controllable. They have to be able to keep their facilities about them or Arael will take advantage of their nature and easily destroy them."

"I know. I am getting closer. As soon as I can figure out why this one died so violently, I'll be another step closer to creating viable super-soldiers to take her out. It's a pity we can't study her further. I'd like to know how she managed to overpower the control device."

"Irrelevant," Gendo replied quickly. "Once this is all said and done, we're well on our way to becoming gods."

Last Sanctuary

At long last, Misato began to fully wake up. She sat up, pulling the sheet up with her as she realized she was not wearing any clothing.

"Misato-san?" Shinji's voice came as she sat up.

"Shinji-kun," her weak voice replied. "What have you done to yourself?" Her hand gently rose up to his grayed hair, pushing it over his ear.

"I almost died at the hands of the JSSDF, Arael used some of her essence to save my life." At the mention of him almost dying her eyes widen in shock. She held him to her as a mother would her child after seeing him returned from a long parting. Shinji just basked in the motherly affection as Misato began to sob softly.

"I can't believe she turned on me like that…"

Shinji could feel for her, but having a good friend stab her in the back, he'd never experienced anything like that before… unless you consider what his father had done to him, in a way that's worse and at the same time, not the same thing.

"Then the experiments…" she whispered, and instantly Shinji's mind connected with hers, unbidden. Flashes of Ritsuko cutting into her with a knife and the pain felt during the procedure were reminiscent of what he got from Arael when he held her after being rescued. The tubes inserted into her body to draw out fluid for study, the binds, the shocks, it was all too much for him to take.

He held her tighter. "I'll kill her."

"No!" Misato said sharply pulling him from the embrace and holding him by the shoulders instead. "I know you want to for what she did to Arael, but your grudge lies with your father. She was following orders like the good little soldier, but it was my trust she betrayed. She's mine."

The intensity with which the last two words were said sent chills up Shinji's spine. She was right of course, but he really wanted to kill the bottle-blonde himself. He would desist for her sake though, happy with the fact that he gets to kill his father and Adam.

"Misato," he whispered bringing his hands up to hers and causing her face to soften. "I don't know how you will take this but… if you really want to kill her, you have to become like the rest of us."

"Half-angel?" Misato whispered as if the word angel has become a tenfold curse. "I… I don't know if I can do that."

"Well first things first. You should let my shoulders go and replace the sheet; you're a bit indecent at-the-moment."

Misato blinked and her eyes drifted down dumbly before she finally squeaked and let Shinji go, grabbing for the sheet and pulling it up. Her face turned slightly red and she giggled sheepishly.

"Did you at least enjoy the show?" She teased.

To her surprise he blushed slightly but replied back, "Oh yes, but I like my girlfriend's better. More than a mouthful is… a bit of a waste in my opinion."

Arael blushed and hid behind her wings, Misato gasped at what she just heard her ward say, and Rei smiled slightly understanding the humor behind his words. A moment later Misato started laughing uncontrollably.

"I can't believe you just said that!" she got out between laughs. "Oh goodness Shinji-kun, you've grown up at last."

"Yeah," he said sheepishly, "I guess I have."

"So," she said as she calmed down. "I guess this is the moment of truth."

Shinji nodded.

"Tough decision," she mused. "Lose my humanity and become half angel… or keep it and be unable to help save the world."

"I'll be honest Misato-san," Shinji began. "I don't think I can do it without you."

Misato sighed and started to become nervous. She noted Arael was no longer hiding behind her wings and started approaching.

"I have no real choice then," she mused sadly. "I have to give up my humanity and become part angel."

"If it makes you feel any better," Arael began, "I too am sorry it has to be this way. You're going to be more than human, far stronger, faster, smarter. While Shinji is becoming more like me, I'm unsure how the seed will affect you. Theoretically, you'll be the same as us, but…."

"You can't predict the final outcome. Shinji may still be different in the end."

Arael nodded to her.

Misato thought back to the beginning… standing in the life pod watching Adam's wrath from afar and knowing her father was dead… her silence for so long… finding Ritsuko again… Kaji… becoming a soldier against the creatures that killed her father… Shinji… Rei… Asuka… Arael….

She closed her eyes as these thoughts flooded her mind. A tear slipped from her eye as she knew that she had no options now. She had to sacrifice her humanity so that humanity can survive.

"Do it," she whispered. "Do it before I change my mind."

Arael held her right hand out, in the palm a seed of energy began to form.

"Shinji, please look away." Reluctantly, he complied.

Misato let the sheet drop from her chest again as Arael's left hand took a hold of her right shoulder.

"Fair warning, this is going to feel… strange."

Misato mused how this very scene taken out of context might be interpreted as something rather naughty. Such a thought lowered her defenses long enough for Arael to begin.

She gasped as Arael's right hand pushed past her AT Field and phased into her flesh. Her left hand came up to grasp Arael by the hip as her head fell forward and her breathing became erratic. Arael's hand came into contact with Misato's heart and the seed was implanted. The sudden rush of energy draining from Arael, caused her to gasp as if in ecstasy. It was like giving birth though a joining of souls. It was the closest Misato felt to another person before and she felt a bit guilty at the same time because it was her ward's girlfriend she was feeling this with.

A moment later Arael retracted her hand as Misato fell back into the bed. A glow covered her as Arael replaced the sheet.

Shinji turned back now that the process was over. "How soon?"

"She'll be fully transformed when she awakens," Arael said as the heat in her face began to dissipate. A moment later, she fell back into Shinji's arms.

"You need to rest," Shinji said as Arael's wings disappeared in a burst of light and a few scattered feathers.

"No arguments here," she said in a low voice as Shinji took her up in his arms and took her to their shared bed.

Rei watched impassively, wondering if someday, someone will love her the same way that they loved each other. Her hand moved up to her heart, feeling it beating harder and she watched the two settle into the bed together.

"Will anyone ever love me?" she whispered to herself.

This is the end…

Hold your breath and count to ten…

Feel the earth move and then…

Feel my heart burst again

For this is the end,

I've drowned and dreamt this moment

So overdue I owe them,

Swept away I'm stolen