Disclaimer: It would appear that people would find my death to be "awesome". To anyone who wants me dead, come and get me!

ARSENAL
Free Agency

Whether it's finding a good job or saving the world: It's not what you know but who you know.

[3.]

Here they were again.

Instrumentality had come and gone. The world was lifeless and still, the whole of humanity lay in its grand final form–a primordial soup locked in the never ending bliss of unexistence. Not a single living soul remained, except for Shinji Ikari–whose hands were clenched tightly around Asuka Langley Soryu's throat.

It was happening again. Just like last time, and the time before, and the time before, and the time before. No matter what he did or tried, it just kept happening. The fear, the hatred, the loneliness never stopped. Here he was again, on the precipice of the climax. He had to stop it, the one thing he could stop. He didn't want to hear it again.

She reached up and caressed his face, and his grip went slack. Resignation washed over Shinji, as he let go of her neck, and let his face drop down to rest against her chest. His eyes clenched shut, he began to sob weakly, as Asuka rested the hand of her maimed, bandaged arm atop his head.

He couldn't change anything. The outcome was always the same. Staring up at the sky Asuka uttered the words he dreaded, but had come to accept as an inescapable truth.

"How disgusting."

Shinji Ikari, six years old, opened his eyes and stared up at the familiar ceiling of his guardian's home, as he had come to do hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of times by now. Sitting up, the child picked up a journal resting on the nightstand next to his bed in his dull, sparse bedroom, and opened it. Written all over the pages were lines and lines of pure madness. Verbatim recordings of his dreams, written over and over at the frequency they repeated. He was on the last page.

"I can't do this anymore," he said of the journal, the latest of dozens he'd filled.

It had been almost three years, since just after his mother's death, that he'd been having the dream almost every time he slept. It was the same dream, a long, unending stream of consciousness from the moment he first arrived at that place, Tokyo-3, to the inevitable conclusion on the beach at the end of the world.

For most of the dreams, it was through his own eyes, but sometimes he could see it through others–people that knew the Shinji in his dreams, and sometimes people that he'd never seen at all. It was to the point that he knew each and every character by heart, as if they were him. No matter what he saw or how he dreamed it, however, the events were always the same. While at first the dream confused and terrified him, after three years of unceasingly dreaming the end of the world, Shinji understood its meaning exactly. Today, he was not going to start another journal. Today, he was going to act.

Getting out of bed, Shinji cleaned up and dressed for school, before he left with a polite farewell to his guardian. The relationship between Shinji and the teacher who Gendo abandoned him with was impersonal from day one, and only more distant as Shinji began to dream and understand it. Naturally, he didn't tell his guardian of his dreams–his next guardian, however, would get a full disclosure.

As with most days since his abandonment, Shinji left his home and began walking down the street towards his school. He distanced himself from the other children, as usual, focusing entirely on the path in front of him and the music streaming through the earbuds of his SDAT Player. However, as he reached the front gate of his school, he walked right past it and kept walking. He didn't really need school anyway, everything he knew was more than enough.

From the time SDAT's tracks went from the first to the twenty-sixth, he was outside the small town he didn't even care to remember the name of, walking alongside an almost empty road. Almost, for a black sedan that had come around the bend ahead slowed down as it approached him. Glancing back, he watched the car pull over to the shoulder and come to a stop behind him.

Shinji turned to face the car as the doors opened, and a pair of men in black suits with black ties and black sunglasses emerged from the car. The man from the driver's side closed the door, and walked over to him. "Shinji Ikari, we're here to take you back home."

Shinji nodded. "You are Gehirn Department of Security Intelligence, yes?"

The two agents abruptly gave pause, taken by surprise. Shinji nodded again. "Didn't expect me to know, did you?"

This kid was creepy, Agents Andrei Rohmer and Pavel Korolev immediately thought. They had no idea what they were about to find themselves in.


In the present, Shinji sat back in his new chair in his new office, staring up at the complex diagram etched into the ceiling. Part of him still could not believe it was actually happening; he had the Eva, he had removed Gendo, his takeover of Nerv was almost complete. So far, so good. Not good enough, though. Time to get back to work.

"Hey, where do you keep Rei?" He asked Dr. Akagi as he tapped his pistol against the top of Dr. Akagi's head.

The doctor looked up from her oral presentation. "In an emergency sick bay near the Eva cages, we were keeping her there-"

"In case I didn't want to pilot. The Commander wanted wheel her out and let my empathy force my hand," Shinji said as he prodded her cheek with the barrel of the pistol.

Dr. Akagi nodded. "You've read your father's book."

"I've read all the books," Shinji replied. "I want to go see her."

Dr. Akagi nodded. "As you wish, Com-mph…"

Shinji had forced her head back down with his free hand. "After you're done, Doctor."

Not long after, Ayanami Rei emerged from a drug-induced stupor and stared at a familiar ceiling. Something was wrong, and while she could not understand it all for her lack of infinite wisdom and all-knowing, she felt a nagging intuition that it was something serious. On the other hand, she felt… good. Yes, good was a perfectly fine way of describing how she felt, she was not a girl with storied volumes of synonyms. Had Rei been a girl of more liberal conventions, she could describe it as "Fan-fucking-tastic".

A painful jab in her arm alerted her. Scanning the room with her unbandaged eye, Rei's gaze came to rest on Shinji and Dr. Akagi, the former fondly smiling upon her. "Hello, Ayanami."

Rei stared at him long enough to blink (wink?) twice. "Third Child."

She wondered what the Third was doing in her hospital room. Did he pilot the Evangelion as the scenario demanded? Well, they weren't all dead, so it had to be the case, any hard scrutiny was honestly lost in the painkillers that allowed her such comfort.

Shinji was completely mesmerized. Even wrapped in bandages, actually seeing Rei in person was as amazing as it was chilling. He, the trigger-man on the gun pointed at the human race, was staring directly at the trigger… and she was beautiful.

Okay, that may have been his heretofore unnoticed fetish for bandaged girls flaring to life, but he did appreciate the artistry that went into making her. "I'm glad that you're doing well, Rei."

Rei stared at him, not feeling particularly compelled to thank him for his concern. Her drugged-up brain was still trying to turn over why he was here specifically. She turned her gaze to Dr. Akagi, hoping for some kind of explanation, but only got a look of mild contempt hidden behind a veneer of faux-professionalism.

She didn't need to look to the Doctor for answers for long, because Shinji was more forthcoming. "I wanted to tell you, that I've taken control of Nerv away from my father."

Gears worked, as she tiredly processed the information that Shinji had given her, this was not in the scenario. She looked down at herself, at her hands, and stared at them. When she moved her good hand, her good eye widened and followed it, what a bizarre effect yet at the same time engrossing.

Noticing this, Shinji tried not to bury his face in his palm. Ritsuko must've given her an extra dose of painkillers, wonderful. He had to admit, she was very cute looking so lost.

She finally spoke, her tone a little slurred but still the same, quiet girl from his dreams. "What has become of the Commander Ikari?"

"He's being put in the deepest hole I can find, for what he wanted to do to the world. I don't want Instrumentality to happen."

Rei fidgeted, and wondered where that dragon came from. "You have no faith in your Father's work?"

"I do, but up to a point."

She ignored the dragon, and the arrival of Freddie Mercury to do battle with it using the power of rock. "What point?"

"I was with him up to the point where he wanted to kill every single person on the planet, so he can be back with my mother."

Rei nodded. "Then… what is my purpose?"

He reached forward, and rested his hand on her face, and she froze, struck by the clarity of his eyes as he saw back into her with the same unintentional intensity she regarded for others. She uttered a soft sound, part mewl, part whimper as he leaned closer to her. There was a tightening in her chest, new and utterly frightening to her, as he caressed her cheek, and brought his free hand to the other side of her face, touching and appraising her like she was fine china.

"Your purpose now is to save mankind now from the Angels and from anyone who desires Instrumentality, Rei Ayanami," he said.

Rei stared at him, and she grew anxious despite the narcotics in her system. Shinji could see the conflict waging behind her red eyes, and rested his forehead against hers as he stroked the top of her head. He took care to avoid her bandages, as he luxuriated in the feel of her strange-colored hair.

Rei mewled again, and closed her eyes. Her heart was racing now from the soothing touch. "Ikari…"

"I'm your Commander, now," he whispered back.

Taking several deep breaths, Rei struggled against the alien feelings he had suddenly triggered. Not only in his words, but in the way he touched her with such intimate familiarity. However, the warmth and haze won out, and Rei relaxed against him.

"I will serve you, Commander. What are your orders?" She spoke, a tone quiet even for her.

Shinji's lips curled into an anticipating smile. "Smile for me, Rei."

What a strange request, but she honored it nevertheless, the corners of her lip pulling upward just so slightly into a small, unexpectedly inviting smile.

To her surprise, Shinji closed the distance between the two of them to kiss her deeply. She froze immediately, eye wide, but protested not at the alien sensation of his mouth over hers, or his tongue exploring its recesses for only the briefest moments before he pulled away.

He had always wanted to do that. As Rei stared back at him, devoid of even the beginnings of a response, he ruffled up her messy hair and stood up. "Well, you focus on getting better, okay? I'll see you later."

For lack of a better reaction, the wide-eyed, brightly blushing girl just nodded. "Understood, Commander."

Shinji smiled, and all but floated out of the room, his footsteps were so light. He stopped floating when he found Misato waiting with her arms folded.

"And what was Rei's original intended purpose in the Instrumentality Project?" She asked as Dr. Akagi joined them.

Shinji seemed almost nonchalant. "She's the trigger."

Misato recoiled. "W-what?!"

"Yes, we even made clones of her in case something happened to her," Dr. Akagi revealed nonchalantly. "This Rei is technically the second."

"What happened to the first?" Misato looked a bit ill.

"My mother killed her, before she killed herself." Ritsuko's nonchalance was beginning to seriously get to Misato. Before she could say something, Shinji grabbed the raven-haired woman's arm.

"Rei was just as much a means to an end as everyone else here. Well, I would say that she has it even worse–seeing how thanks to the clones she can be killed and killed again, and all it would take is popping another out to replace her." Shinji shook his head. "It's just one more thing to hate the bastard for, and I encourage you to do it as much as you desire."

Misato still gave Ritsuko a look and got a shrug in return, before she nodded. "What next then, Commander?"

Shinji smiled some. "Well, we tell our staff what's going on."


The ride back towards Shinji's school was quiet. Neither Andrei nor Pavel had nothing to say to the boy and even if they did, they couldn't. The Commander's orders regarding the Third Child, as he was designated, were to simply watch over him and ensure his safety with as little interaction as possible. Both men of course wondered about the importance of the kid, aside from him being the Commander's son, and why he was given such a codename–but both were paid enough to justify not outright questioning it.

"So it's still called Gehirn, right?" Shinji asked.

Pavel looked back at Shinji, and then back at the road as Andrei drove.

"It's going to be reorganized into Nerv soon, the day after she dies."

Pavel looked back again at Shinji. "What?"

"Korolev." Andrei's tone implied a warning.

Pavel dismissed it. "What do you mean, 'after she dies'?"

"She will die. The day after tomorrow in fact. Massive head and spinal trauma, twenty-two percent of brain matter found outside of the braincase, scratches on the forearms… but no previous evidence of suicidal thoughts or tendencies," Shinji droned, as if reading from an autopsy report.

The car pulled to the side of the road, and this time Andrei looked back with Pavel. Shinji smiled, he had their attention, now.

"Someone will die," Andrei reiterated. "You're talking like you can see the future."

"I can, that's my special power," Shinji revealed. "But no one knows about it except for you two."

Both men turned their attention forward again, dismissing his so-called "Special Power" outright. This kid, they decided, was just demented.

Shinji sat back in his seat and toyed with his SDAT player. "This person will die the day after tomorrow. Gehirn will become Nerv, and my Father will start working towards killing us all."

Both men appeared to pay him no mind, but Shinji was undaunted. "If this doesn't happen, go about your lives, but if it does, please come back to me and I'll tell you more about the future. Your very lives will depend on it."

Neither man reacted, and Shinji was dropped off at home without a word. Both men resolved to never speak of the incident, and wrote off the Commander's son as seriously disturbed thanks to having a bastard like Gendo Ikari for a father.

Three days later, as Shinji was walking to school yet again, the black sedan from Gehirn, now Nerv, hopped up onto the curb in front of him. A visibly shaken Andrei Rohmer and Pavel Korolev stepped out of the car, and stood before him.

"Naoko Akagi," Andrei said, "Killed herself by jumping from a railing in the Central Dogma."

"And you're now Nerv Department of Security Intelligence, yes?" Shinji asked.

Andrei and Pavel both nodded.

Shinji nodded slowly to the two men. "The end of the world is coming, gentlemen."


In the Central Dogma, Fuyutsuki lowered his head as he felt the disbelieving stares of Nerv's staff on him. At his side, Dr. Akagi looked down from the platform once occupied by the Professor and the Ex-Commander at Shinji, who stood with Misato amongst the betrayed staff trying to cope with what they had been brought aboard for.

"Seriously, this was all a lie?" Aoba asked. "You expected us to play along until you killed us all, old man?!"

"Not really much you could expect to do about it when it all came to a head, you know?" Shinji noted.

"In light of the recent change in command," Fuyutsuki responded to the growing clamor below, "The scenario that Gendo Ikari had initiated will be abandoned. As per Commander Shinji Ikari's wishes, the only role Nerv will play is the destruction of the Angels as per the original scenario outlined by the Human Instrumentality Project Committee. Gendo Ikari's ambitions will not be pursued."

Shinji nodded, while resisting the urge to smirk. "That's right," he said, "I came here to fight the Angels and preserve humanity, and that's what Nerv will do, no matter who or what will get in our way."

"Yes, but do we really need him in charge? He was in on it with Gendo," Hyuga pointed out.

"Fuyutsuki-sensei can be trusted, don't worry," Shinji reassured. "And if he can't we'll just kill him!"

"Dibs!" Aoba shouted before directing a dark look towards Fuyutsuki.

Shinji looked to Misato. "I like him; he and I are going to hang out."

"They're not a bad bunch at all, most of them at least…" Misato replied quietly. "Hyuga seems to want to get in my skirt."

"He'd probably look good in it, tell him where you shop."

This was going easier than Shinji thought, and he liked that. He'd expected a full-on walkout as a result of the coup and the revelations, but it looked like everyone was onboard with the new direction Nerv was going in. Some, like the cute blonde bridge bunny blowing him a kiss and holding up a card with her phone extension written down, seemed enthusiastic about it.

"Ooi, could you not?" Misato snapped at the woman.

"Ah, sorry ma'am!" the blonde quickly apologized, before mouthing "call me" to Shinji when Misato looked away.

A dark-haired, glasses wearing woman sitting next to the blonde smacked her upside her head, and smiled an apology to Shinji. Nodding back, he took a step back, and addressed the Bridge as a whole. "I'm glad that all of you are serious about the job you took here. That said, the next Angel will be here in exactly twelve days, I want NERV to be ready to receive our guest this time around."

"Yes sir, Commander Ikari!" Aoba declared.

"For God's sake… don't start fanboying over him like Maya does Dr. Akagi," Hyuga muttered.

"I do not fanboy over sempai!" Maya snapped.

"Yeah you do," both Hyuga and Aoba replied as Shinji turned and made for the exit. "Sub-Commander Fuyutsuki, I leave the bridge to you."

"Understood, Commander," Fuyutsuki replied.

Following Shinji out of the Central Dogma, Misato folded her arms as she weighed in on everything she learned in the past few hours. Gendo Ikari wanted to destroy the human race, The Committee wanted to destroy the human race, Shinji is ready to start a world war or three to save the human race, and now she and everyone else were onboard whether they wanted to be or not. Really, the idea of getting so fucking smashed that she wouldn't be able to remember the last thirty years of her life was suddenly an appealing one.

"Huh, I just realized I haven't made living arrangements, yet." Shinji's realization jogged her from her desire for alcohol poisoning.

Misato sighed. "Well, you're definitely not safe outside of Nerv."

"Of course I am! No one would be dumb enough to attempt anything." He wanted to believe so very badly.

"That's ridiculous. A man as smart as Gendo wouldn't just let his son walk in and take over. There could be people waiting to ambush you right now. They don't have to kill you to remove you."

"I can kill a man with a paperclip and a wet napkin, I'm not afraid of anything Father could throw at me." Shinji smiled. "Besides, I have the perfect insurance policy."

Misato frowned. "You wouldn't blow those nukes."

"I don't have to." As they walked down an otherwise empty and doorless corridor towards the escalators, Shinji asked, "Would it be okay if I lived with you, Misato?"

"What, with me? I barely have enough room for myself and a penguin." And her horrific alcoholism.

"You could live with me."

Misato was glad for once that she was tired as she was when Ritsuko came forward, literally out of nowhere, with her proposal, as she would've shot the woman had her reaction time been a half-second sharper. Whirling around and staring past her associate, the raven-haired Christmas Cake scoured the long, empty, sterile corridor for any door or passageway she could've come out of. Impossibly, she found none.

"You're going to tell me about those secret passages, Doctor," Shinji said lightly to her.

Misato relaxed and glowered directly at Ritsuko. "Me too, and no Shinji is not going to live with you."

"Why not, want him for yourself?" Ritsuko pouted at Misato, who flustered.

"Not in the slightest!" Misato roared. She wanted to go home, and get so drunk Pen-Pen would have a shot at her.

Shinji looked positively dejected. "Really?"

Misato stared at him. Shinji held his hands up and took a step back fearfully. Finding him subdued, she sighed. "I need a drink."

As the other woman fingered her temples, Ritsuko lightly made her way over to Shinji's side and hugged his arm. "Well, if you're going to go home and get smashed, I'll just take care of the Commander, deal?"

Misato's stare froze Ritsuko where she stood, and Shinji slowly scooted away from the doctor. "As much as I like Dr. Akagi's offer, I'd rather stay with you, Misato. I know well enough about how you live, and I'd be willing to clean up your apartment."

"Why with me?" Misato asked.

"The same reason I trusted to tell you everything," he replied.

Whatever future he saw must've painted her in a really strong light to him. It didn't make it any less creepy, though. "If you're willing to clean up after me, I hope you know what you're getting yourself into."

"I certainly do," Shinji said happily.

"I'll come with you then, you're both probably starving and Shinji doesn't need to be exposed to your cooking on his first night," Dr. Akagi said as she walked past them. "Your car's in the G Lot, right?"

Misato nodded and began to follow, Shinji in step with her. As she looked to him, she found that his expression was back to the calm that had first put her off about him, but it was much more refreshing to see, after seeing the wild emotional pitching he underwent. It didn't take nearly as long as it did for them to reach the parking lot as it did when Misato and Shinji first arrived. This was fine by Shinji, because after today, he was starving.

"So, what are we going to have for dinner?" He asked Dr. Akagi.

"Anything is better than Misato's cooking. I was thinking fried rice," Dr. Akagi replied.

"That's all you can make, anyway," Misato snapped.

"Which is one more thing than you can put together." Dr. Akagi met Misato's glare with a smile, which faded when she turned and looked ahead. Shinji and Misato stopped as well, when they found a half dozen Section 2 agents waiting between them and the latter's car.

Misato immediately didn't like this. "Section 2's finally moving?"

"Huh, they look new," Shinji quietly remarked.

"Third Child," one of the agents said as he stepped forward. "This is the end of the line-"

"Excuse me, are you new?" Shinji interrupted.

The agent paused.

"Because you look like you didn't get the memo," Shinji said. "I'm in charge."

"We only answer directly to The Commander," the agent replied.

Shinji nodded slowly. "Ah, then you are new."

Out of the shadows of the darkened the parking lot, more black suited, black sunglasses-wearing Section 2 agents emerged, surrounding the six agents, Shinji, Misato, and Dr. Akagi. Misato looked around at the other agents, tense. She didn't have enough bullets for all of them.

Dr. Akagi sighed. "Gendo is probably watching right now."

"Good," Shinji quipped.

"Come quietly, Third Child, and we will not harm you," the agent before them warned. "We will use any force necessary to subdue you if you resist, however."

Shinji raised a finger. "I have a counter offer." He put the finger to his head. "Put your weapons to your heads and kill yourselves, because you're surrounded."

The agents surrounding them drew their side arms, and pointed them at the six agents that confronted Shinji, numerous red dots from the lasers of their pistols dancing on their bodies.

Misato looked at the Section 2 agents that had materialized seemingly to come to Shinji's aid. "What's going on?"

"Remember when I said that a Section 2 agent supplied me my nuke?" Shinji asked. "Turns out, that there are a lot of people inside that particular organization who aren't too keen about being complicit in the end of the world."

Misato stared at Shinji with wide eyes, as the cavalry moved in to disarm the six agents and bring them to their knees with their hands behind their heads. "How long have they been in on this?"

Shinji bit his lower lip and hummed. "Since I was six?"

"How?" Misato asked.

"There are just some things I shouldn't know, Misato," Shinji said as one of the helpful Section 2 agents, an older foreigner, approached Shinji and handed him his sidearm. "Thank you, Korolev-san."

The older agent nodded curtly to his Commander. Walking over to the subdued agents, Shinji looked down at their leader. "You must be pretty well paid to be willing to do this kind of thing."

The defeated agent looked up at the older man. "Korolev, you bastard. How long have you been with him-?!"

Shinji smacked him across the face with his pistol. "You're on the wrong side, working for Father. But I'm a forgiving person, so you have two choices: Join me or I hurt you."

"We swore to protect Nerv and Proje-mph." Shinji had stuck the barrel of the pistol in the man's mouth.

"No rhetoric. Nod if you're with me, shake your head if you're against me," Shinji said, moving his head to emphasize.

Defiant, the agent shook his head.

Shinji smiled back, and turned the pistol so that the muzzle was pointed at his lower right jaw. A messy pop sounded, as he squeezed the trigger and blew out part of the man's mouth.

"Jesus Christ," Misato gasped, as the agent fell over, letting out a gurgling scream of pain. Dr. Akagi just watched, silent.

Wiping off the barrel of the gun with his shirt, Shinji flipped it over and handed it back grip-first to Pavel. "Again, thank you Korolev-san."

The Russian nodded and took the gun. "What shall we do with them?"

"Whatever you like, I'm done for the night." Shinji looked to Misato and Dr. Akagi. "Sorry about that."

Misato looked at the screaming man, and then back to Shinji. "It's okay, they're our enemy."

Shinji refrained from smiling for once, though he really wanted to.

Dr. Akagi was in awe. "The nuke was never what got you in, it was just to take over without an actual fight. You've had Nerv in your hands all this time."

Shinji looked over to her. "You're right, I did. Feel free to worship the ground I walk on, Ritsuko Akagi."

Honestly, she wanted to worship him right here and now in front of all of Section 2. But that would've been awkward.


Sitting on the hood of Andrei and Pavel's car, Shinji ate a popsicle as he watched the sun set. In front of him, Andrei and Pavel weighed heavily on what they had learned about the future. Looking up from his feet, Andrei turned and looked at the boy.

"This is what will happen, regardless of any outcome."

"If I don't act, yes, this is what will happen," the child replied.

Andrei looked down again, and after a long silence, asked. "How do we stop it?"

Shinji bit off the end of the popsicle, and swallowed it down. "It will have to be more than just us. We will need many people, to take over Nerv."

Pavel hummed. "Then, you will need Section 2."

Shinji's brows rose. "Eh?"

Pavel looked from his feet, and directly at Shinji. "We're well connected inside the Agency. Give us time, and it will be yours."

Shinji nodded. "Okay, Korolev-san, Rohmer-san. I leave that to you."

"You will need more than just Section 2, if you want to fight The Committee, though," Rohmer pointed out.

Shinji nodded again. "I'd need a lot more people, a whole world of people. Can you help me with that, Rohmer-san?"

At that, Andrei stared off into the distance, before he replied…

"I know some people, yes."

A wide, frightening smile spread across Shinji's lips.


A/N: Shinji Ikari controls the horizontal, controls the vertical.