Aline 3

[16:06] <Minaplo> [NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. Aline 3. Date: 11th of March, 2029.-
[16:08] <Minaplo> [Aline was strapped to the table, unable to move, a drug making her numb, unable to move. It was dark all around, the metal beneath her was cold on her bare skin.-
[16:09] <Minaplo> [The whirr of machines. Surov, staring down at her now, three surgical mechadendrites hovering over his shoulders. "Who needs arms? Or legs? Or organs?"-
[16:09] <Minaplo> [He grinned coldly. "Once I cut you open and make you better, you'll thank me…"]
[16:15] <Aline> Still, she could speak, she could stare. "Surov… this has no scientific point, you're not furthering relevant research…! Isn't your body enough? This… isn't what I want, either. This… …" She didn't know what else could even be said. All this time working with him made her aware of just how fucked he was, how little he cared about petty human matters. It was far worse than the
[16:15] <Aline> superiority complexes of the two scientist Caines, which even now she was reminded of.
[16:18] <Minaplo> ["I don't care about that." He began to laugh. A mechadendrite arm lowered, its buzzsaw whirring. "I just want- I need- my iron bride! FOREVER!"-
[16:18] <Minaplo> [The blade lowered into Aline's stomach, cutting…-!]
[16:24] * Aline suddenly closed her eyes hard. the terror obvious in how she clenched her lips. She couldn't struggle, couldn't even put up a meaningful resistance. And 'iron bride'?! To make her into some kind of mechanical… object for him, when she still loved her poor, poor Shinji was just disturbing. But soon the blade actually made contact. Words didn't come, only a piercing cry, the kind
[16:24] * Aline she had not released since the last time she felt her limbs coming off via 00's synchronization. The years had made her resistance to pain - not that she had much to begin with - fade.
[16:25] <Minaplo> [Beep. Beep. Beep.-
[16:26] <Minaplo> [… Her alarm clock. Sweaty sheets, all in a tangle. The bare glimpse of sunlight through the curtains…]
[16:30] <Aline> Another one. It was really starting to get bad! The scream, nonetheless, reached out into the waking world, as she popped up in bed breathing hard. "Oh… god…" Aline rubbed her head hard and pulled the sheets closer to herself.
[16:35] <Minaplo> [It was awkward. To prevent too much damage to the world around her, her arms- for now everything from the middle bicep down was diamond- had been wrapped in a sort of foam padding. Still, she'd learned to adapt…-
[16:36] <Minaplo> [The day when she got her proper arms back couldn't come fast enough, of course. She was scheduled to go in for a 'field test' today…]
[16:42] <Aline> Being unable to manipulate the world around her was a drag, but at least Aline still had some help here and there. Her computers at home and at work had long ago been converted for voice commands, and Shinji often - when he could - helped cook food and feed her. She often called on a nurse when he couldn't, though… At least it was progressing slowly, if nothing else. Still, propping
[16:42] <Aline> herself up on a padded diamond stump (that's what it was, functionally), she called out. Whether he was awake or not was not much of a question, she still felt a need to… "S-sorry about the scream."
[16:45] <Minaplo> [He wasn't in bed…]
[16:48] <Aline> After a bit of poking around and standing up, Aline wandered out in her nightgown to go see where he was. For now, she remained quiet, not wanting to further disturb him… at least until she saw him. For all that they said /he/ had problems now, this constant physical helplessness made /her/ feel pretty meek and depressive too.
[16:53] <Minaplo> [He was sitting in front of the computer, out in the living room. The monitor was the only real source of light apart from the dim beam of sunlight.]
[16:58] * Aline wandered out, and moved to his side - not quite staring at whatever he was doing, but more having the side of the monitor straight-on with her. She knew about computer privacy because she tended to get upset about it herself. "H… Hi."
[16:58] <Minaplo> ["Oh, hey. You ok?"]
[17:01] * Aline flailed her arms a bit weakly - fortunately diamond was still just carbon so it wasn't achingly dense - and sighed. "Had another one of those stupid bad dreams. At least they kill my appetite, so you still have some time to do your stuff." She was, obviously, referring to how he was needed to cook for her.
[17:06] <Minaplo> ["Y'know, maybe you should find a different job."]
[17:08] * Aline nodded. "I've been thinking of it for a few years now. I still remember thinking it on the day this all happened. But, ah…" She sighed again. "I'm staying on long enough to get this fixed, at least. I figure it's easier that way."
[17:12] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." He nodded. "You still do tests with 00, right?"]
[17:13] <Aline> "From time to time." She wandered a bit further behind the screen, because she was starting to get urges to check…
[17:17] <Minaplo> ["It's gonna be pretty weird to think of you without the Eva."]
[17:22] * Aline still had, at times, the reflex to tap on something - in this case, she drummed her whole arm against her side, making little thumps with its padding. "I know. I'm the last one left, I think, to still use it. Even the other high-ratio kids from the first generation have since backed off to do other stuff. I guess it's… 'me'. But then again, hopefully I'll be able to make better
[17:22] * Aline use of my degrees elsewhere, and make /that/ me, too."
[17:31] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, maybe." Click click.-
[17:31] <Minaplo> ["What are you thinking? Teaching or something?"]
[17:33] <Aline> "You know, I was going to actually look at what I had, but after all this hard research, I think I could do with the university environment, actually. Might still be a research professor, but it'd be less dangerous." Drum, drum. Without any feeling in it, it didn't matter how much she hit herself with the damnable stump of an arm. The padding would absorb the impact as long as it was light.
[17:38] <Minaplo> ["What'd you research?"]
[17:41] * Aline sighed /yet again/, but this time it was wistful. "Spacetime-related stuff. Ever since before all this Evangelion crap, I've been fascinated by space and gravity and such. At NERV it's been more AT-related, but that's okay because it's a cutting-edge thing. Working with Padma to find a cure has, naturally, been a focus as of late. If it wasn't important to my life, I'd be sick of
[17:41] * Aline it, honestly…"
[17:45] <Minaplo> ["Mm."-
[17:46] <Minaplo> ["Sorry, I just…" He sighed, rubbing his face. "I dunno. It doesn't seem like much anymore."]
[17:48] * Aline quirked a brow, and then tilted her head a bit. "…Oh?" She knew he didn't quite 'feel it' lately, but she still didn't quite know what he meant.
[17:49] <Minaplo> ["Once upon a time you were pushing the edges of science and understanding, right? Now…"]
[17:57] * Aline leaned a bit forwards, but then stopped before she got too far, instead returning to her normal posture. "…Now I get trumped and can't figure out what's next. Maybe if I moved on to the math and theory, it'd be better, but…" She frowned visibly. "Conventional science is constantly pushed aside by the EVAs. But it was my dream, all so long ago."
[17:59] <Minaplo> ["And now someone else is living it." He sighed, his head in his hands.]
[18:03] * Aline was thinking something else now, wondering whether it was the lot of the first generation of pilots to live such pathetic lives after their time of service had ended. There were tears in her eyes now, but she craned forward to rest her head against Shinji's. It was far more comforting than patting him with a giant stone log.
[18:27] <Minaplo> [He sighed, and reached up to pat her hair gently.-
[18:27] <Minaplo> ["You need help showering?"]
[18:28] * Aline blushed a bit, and wrung her arms together. "Yeah… Thanks, as always."
[18:36] <Minaplo> [The rest of the morning passed quickly enough- he helped her shower, cooked her breakfast and then at some point crashed on the couch. Eventually, a car came for Aline and took her on the path to the Geofront.-
[18:36] <Minaplo> [She had no sooner entered the first elevator when her phone rang. Only rang for a second. The ringtone may as well have been one of Surov going "My office. Now."]
[18:38] * Aline knew what that meant, even though she couldn't pick up. Just a call with ringtones - picked via computer, thank god for that - was all people could do for her… and she went posthaste, still often quite embarrassed by now to be around. Being crippled in such an unnatural way, especially when it was her mistake, had lastingly made Aline self-conscious.
[18:46] <Minaplo> [And there Surov was, in the lab as per usual. The mechadendrites had long since multiplied; these days he sported about four at once, with modular heads for all situations. He wasn't even looking at her this time.-
[18:46] <Minaplo> ["Padma's made a breakthrough."]
[18:47] * Aline shuddered slightly at the mechadendrites, if only because of her nightmare from earlier, but she brought up enough courage to ask. "…Oh? What is it?"
[19:07] <Minaplo> ["She said her error was that she was trying to 'unmake' the diamond, instead of creating something else. Last night she created a living creature out of nothing."]
[19:08] * Aline let a little brightness seep into her features. "That's… promising."
[19:09] <Minaplo> ["Yes. It's right here, in fact. Perfectly healthy."]
[19:10] * Aline leaned forward and looked around a bit, letting out a smooth "Ahh…"
[19:12] <Minaplo> [Well, it was perfectly healthy except for the fact that it had been sliced open by Surov and had its organs removed.-
[19:12] <Minaplo> [It looked like a crow of some sort.-
[19:13] <Minaplo> ["Pyrrhocorax graculus. According to my sources they're an endangered species, but Padma seems to have recalled it from her childhood. In any case, I've requisitioned EVA-00 to begin the operation within an hour."]
[19:15] * Aline paused, and then… looked at him a little. "I assume we're going to just have to trust Padma to not have a Guillory Incident happen again?" Another thing that was her fault. She hadn't seen much of Raphael in years, she hoped he was doing okay…
[19:27] <Minaplo> ["Will you care so long as you have hands?"]
[19:28] <Aline> "…You're right, I suppose I won't."
[19:29] <Minaplo> ["Padma's success rate is trustworthy. Rest assured, however, that if something does go poorly, I'll ensure that science benefits from what ever is left. Now go get ready."]
[19:31] * Aline almost had an instinctive need to reach up and scratch the back of her head nervously, but it was only an 'almost' - years without functioning hands, and about a year or so without functioning arms, sort of made it easier to let those urges pass. "At least that much will happen."
[20:18] <Minaplo> [There was the whirr of a small buzzsaw.-
[20:18] <Minaplo> [Surov had gone back to his studies.]
[20:19] * Aline perhaps wisely decided to leave him to it, and decided to wander off on her own to get ready. Part of which was tracking down someone helpful enough to help her into her plugsuit - working it around the frozen limbs was frustrating at best.
[20:22] <Minaplo> [She managed to find help in this department from a pale, redhaired girl- Eevi Riel, James Riel's adopted daughter- a rebodied NeoSpartan, and a cyborg-Angel hybrid to boot. These days she was more of a computer specialist than anything.-
[20:22] <Minaplo> ["It's pretty bizarre, this diamond thing, huh?" Asked Eevi. "Like, what does it feel like when it grows?"]
[20:23] * Aline sighed pretty loudly, but was willing to talk about it. "It doesn't really feel like anything at all, I just know I'm losing more sensation, I can be glad it's just painless. But still…" Of course, she was helping out by extending her arms and such when needed.
[20:24] <Minaplo> ["Hey, I know this freaks you out, but the idea is pretty cool, right?"]
[20:27] <Aline> "Mm, I…" Step, when needed. "I know it's a wonder, but it's not /my/ wonder anymore. Padma would know a lot more about it, if she wasn't relatively lax about all of her specialities. But I know I was hoping for something amazing when I tried to learn how myself." A pause. "I guess I just can't create anything."
[20:34] <Minaplo> ["… Hey, listen." Said Eevi quietly. Almost a whisper. "It's better off that you not know how."]
[20:35] * Aline wasn't /quite/ as shocked as she might've been, but was still curious… and lowered her voice to match. "…Eh?"
[20:36] <Minaplo> ["You're not supposed to know, nor am I, but… I hear some creepy stuff's been going down with Padma. She's been… Hearing voices. Getting visitors from high up."]
[20:38] <Aline> And /now/ Aline was shocked. But she took a deep breath to prevent any sudden outbursts, before she spoke. "That's… not good. But I understand, then. I guess it's something beyond me in more ways than one, then."
[20:41] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. It's something to keep an eye on, at least…"]
[20:44] * Aline nodded firmly, probably close to being finished dressing by now. "Yeah…" There was a touch of fatigue in her voice. Despite not even being in her 30s, Aline had this certain emotion of being 'too old for this shit' in her tone.
[20:53] <Minaplo> ["Alright, all done." Eevi pressed the wrist-button on Aline's plugsuit, which quickly conformed to Aline's body shape. "Good luck."]
[20:55] * Aline nodded with a gentle, if somewhat hesitant, smile. "Thanks." And she began to walk out towards where they were setting up the new test…
[21:00] <Minaplo> [Padma was already waiting, standing by the leg of her Eva. She smirked a little as Aline came out.]
[21:03] * Aline sorta looked sidelong at Padma, sort of wondering about the meaning of that. A smirk was definitely… Different of a gesture than a smile. "Ah, hi." She finally said, after the usual twitch of not-waving passed.
[21:06] <Minaplo> ["Hi." She climbed up into EVA-23, and waited for Aline to hop into 00.]
[21:12] * Aline did so, with a bit of help and hammering at control surfaces, but she managed it!
[21:13] <Minaplo> ["Hey, Aline." It was Padma, over the comms.]
[21:13] * Aline called back. "…Yeah?"
[21:14] <Minaplo> ["What would you do if you were a god?"]
[21:23] * Aline stared for a moment, wide-eyed. That question… She once thought she might have actually gained such power, back in the day. Not that she'd ever /say/ that to anyone but the other two pilots. Aline searched deep into herself, into her past to try to answer. "I… I would want to make a world where people could move forward to pursue their own fates. And I'd want to give a world
[21:23] * Aline like that to /everyone/. Healing the worst ills as I go, but never using healing as an excuse to steal from someone's freedom." She still, after all this time, remembered her old dream of the Angels living in as much harmony as humanity did - and the wages of war were one such 'worst ill'.
[21:32] <Minaplo> ["But isn't that contradictory? How do you stop people from hurting each other, when those can be the worst ills?"]
[21:33] * Aline frowned. "…It's hard. I don't even know where to begin… I'm sorry, I guess I'm just foolish like that."
[21:33] <Minaplo> [Padma laughed, shrilly. "Yeah, no kidding."-
[21:34] <Minaplo> ["What you need to do is make the people not mind such suffering."]
[21:36] * Aline slowly stirred, feeling worse, yet… "Or to at least seek more reason to be a little bit together. Conflict isn't all bad, though. It's when wants are so dire that people put them above peace and kindness… Normally we'd just be content with letting the people we don't care for go by. But it still needs to be in moderation, lest nobody want anything and all becomes stagnant."
[21:41] <Minaplo> [Padma chuckled, rather patronisingly.-
[21:42] <Minaplo> ["We are ready to proceed." Said Surov, in command.]
[21:43] * Aline sighed deeply. "Then… let's." She held back a brewing outburst of anger - it wouldn't help anything.
[21:52] <Minaplo> ["Raising AT Field." The air around Padma's Evangelion stiffened, and started to expand, enveloping EVA-00.-
[21:53] <Minaplo> ["I'm going to destroy then recreate your limbs. It might be painful, so grit your teeth."]
[21:54] <Aline> What fun. But then again, Guillory braved this much and more, so… she had to try, even if he was made of stronger stuff than she was. "Okay." Part of her was now wondering if part of the pain was going to be out of spite.
[21:55] <Minaplo> [There was a clicking behind her. Click click. Click.]
[21:57] * Aline at least at first, just stayed still. Best to not move too much. Her eyes did flit about looking for reflections in her glasses, though.
[22:05] <Minaplo> [The glass reflected…]
[22:06] * Aline could actually /feel/ her eyes dilating. "Uh… th-that… is that normal…? The… th-thing?" She slowly leaned forwards.
[22:07] <Minaplo> ["What thing?" Asked Padma sweetly.]
[22:08] * Aline decided to finally move, batting backwards with an arm, wielding it like the club it was. Fear was in her eyes, but… so was fire. "You know /damn/ well what."
[22:16] <Minaplo> ["It's nothing you can't take care of, right~?"-
[22:16] <Minaplo> ["Wh-what the hell?" Frederic stared in horror. "Padma, this isn't funny!"-
[22:19] <Minaplo> [The … Thing scuttered out of the way, two massive legs leaping forward and jabbing into her stomach- they were surprisingly hard.-
[22:19] <Minaplo> ["I hope it isn't poisonous. Stuck in there with a frantic monster- who knows what it could do? Maybe it would make you hallucinate your own death, or put you into an eternal coma…"]
[22:22] * Aline turned around to start trying harder to bash the damnable thing, flailing… possibly uselessly. She was poor enough without an Evangelion, but hefting these useless stumps around was even worse. "What the /fuck/ did I do to you to make you want to effectively kill me?!"
[22:23] <Minaplo> [Propelled by the inertia, her left arm hit the side of the plug- hard.-
[22:23] <Minaplo> [… And it hurt.-
[22:24] <Minaplo> [A second later, Padma's pet monstrosity was… Gone. Leaving Aline alone, with her refreshingly fleshy hands.-
[22:24] <Minaplo> [Padma's comm line was full of laughter…]
[22:26] * Aline breathed heavily. "You… Why did you do that?!"
[22:27] <Minaplo> ["To see if I could, of course. Do you know how hard it was to create that, keep it under control, whilst destroying and recreating your arms, whilst they were moving, without you even noticing?"-
[22:27] <Minaplo> ["… Not -that- hard, of course~"-
[22:27] <Minaplo> ["Sir, this is ridiculous. She could've killed Blanc." Said Frederic sternly, looking at Surov.-
[22:27] <Minaplo> ["Nothing wrong with experimentation."]
[22:29] * Aline simmered quite a bit in anger, before… folding her arms, now that she was capable. "Predictable." She had something else to say, but hell if she was going to say it in front of Padma. The girl would eat it up.
[22:30] <Minaplo> ["Speaking of predictable. You quitting yet, auntie?"]
[22:32] * Aline facepalmed. "I should've guessed. Fine. You win. Yes. Now enough, is enough."
[22:34] <Minaplo> ["Wow." Muttered Frederic.-
[22:35] <Minaplo> ["Disengage the Evas and remove the plugs. I'm done here- I have work to do." Said Surov, turning and leaving.]
[22:41] * Aline definitely did so, and pointedly avoided Surov and Padma - except, maybe, for necessary paperwork with the former. Not that he /ever/ cared about the necessary paperwork that much. It was not with longing, but relief, that Aline finally removed her plugsuit. Free from this insufferable job. Free to actually use her hands again. Free to… succumb to small-d destiny and live in the
[22:41] * Aline likely obscurity her life elsewhere as a professor would grant her. So it was again with a long, probably depressed sigh that she finally hung up plugsuit-00 for good.

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