And The Writing Be Of Words Slow And Quick Sharp To Strike Q

[19:17] <@Minerva‘Linden> [Minerva Linden’s Boston apartment- under heavy guard, of course- was quiet.-
[19:18] <@Minerva‘Linden> It was quiet at the best of times, but now, the only source of noise the apartment really had- Minerva herself- was asleep on the couch, an e-reader lying on her stomach.
[19:25] <W> There was a series of noises, in quick succession. First, a knock from further away, followed by the sound of the door being opened. Rhythmic clicks approached her for a few brief moments, before ending abruptly in something heavy being set down.
[19:29] <@Minerva`Linden> "Mmmm…" One hand clutching the e-reader, the other rubbing her eyes, Minerva awoke, clearly reluctantly. She peered at W. "Who’re you?" She mumbled.
[19:40] * W was sitting comfortably behind a table, with a suitcase resting on it. The headphones didn't seem to hinder his ability to process the half-asleep mumbling. "You have strange ideas of prisoners' rights. They call me W. That's all you'll get for free." He opened the suitcase -it was locked by simple clasps- and lifted the contents out. He laid the chess board down on the table and
[19:40] * W began to set up the pieces.
[19:42] <@Minerva‘Linden> "M’not prisoner."
[19:43] <W> "And why is that?" The boy didn't lift his eyes from the board.
[19:44] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Dip’matic immunity." She mumbled, sitting up. "S'a diplomatic… *yawn* envoy t'the UN…"
[19:53] <W> "Focus. That position, and everything that led to it, relies on others. Why are you allowed to be here and call yourself that?"
[19:57] <@Minerva‘Linden> "T’strike a deal." She stood up, setting the e-reader aside. "I'm going to get some tea." Without any further ado she began to shuffle towards the kitchen.
[20:04] <W> "A deal you were told to make by whom?"
[20:06] <@Minerva‘Linden> W would have to wait a few minutes for his answer. There was the sound of boiling water, cupboards and shelves opening… Then Minerva returned with a mug of hot tea, which she sipped.-
[20:06] <@Minerva`Linden> "Um, no one."
[20:12] * W made a pained groan. "Of course they did. Do we have to go over everything from the beginning? You’ve let yourself be thrown around like a dog for treats - a comfortable life, 'family', opportunities to prove yourself. I was expecting more of you after taking down Wellesley."
[20:13] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Alright, let’s go over everything from the beginning."-
[20:13] <@Minerva‘Linden> She sipped her tea.
[20:14] <W> "Do you at least understand chess?"
[20:14] <@Minerva`Linden> "A little." She gazed at the board.
[20:19] * W made his opening move, one leading to a traditional opening strategy taught in many introductory chess lessons. "Where and how were you trained?"
[20:27] * @Minerva`Linden stared at the board for a while before she slowly pushed a pawn out one square. "Uh… Let’s see…" She thought. "I was trained in the United States, and I was trained with instruction, books, studying… Advanced officer courses? And basic army training."
[20:32] <W> "Inefficient on average, but viable with their resources." W began moving the other pieces into the middle of the board. The moves lacked what little emotion he otherwise displayed. It was like he was still just setting up the board. "Your family life before and during all that?"
[20:33] <@Minerva‘Linden> "I lived with my dad, and when he vanished I was put into the program."
[20:38] <W> "And then?" Both sides’ pieces were starting to form what would be the battlefield for the main part of the game, both fronts having their strong and weak points, some more easily identified than others.
[20:39] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Well then I was trained."
[20:39] <W> "After that."
[20:42] <@Minerva`Linden> "Well, I was assigned to a UN naval battlegroup, shot down in Africa, and found by the LN." She moved a piece on the board.
[20:47] <W> "And that seems like a coincidence to you?" W took the first piece of Minerva’s front, setting down the piece he'd moved meaningfully. The move was illegal.
[20:48] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Sure." She moves his piece back where it was, and replaces the piece he took.
[20:54] <W> "Are you certain? If you figure out the rules I use, you’ll find your position to be a lot stronger than it is now."
[20:57] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Pretty certain. No offense, but I’m not sure I care about your rules…"
[21:06] <W> "I see." The match progressed normally again. "And what did the LN do with you? How did they treat you?"
[21:08] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Pretty well." Said Minerva cheerfully. "I saw my dad again, and that made me really happy. They gave me an offer: work for them, or be returned to the UN. I decided to join them."
[21:09] <W> "What was your father’s position in their ranks before you joined them?"
[21:10] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Group Captain."
[21:12] <W> "I see. Did either of you ever meet Caine?"
[21:12] <@Minerva`Linden> "Erm… Yes? To both."
[21:13] <W> "The older one, of course?"
[21:13] <@Minerva`Linden> "Yes. Both of them." Said Minerva slowly.
[21:16] <W> "And how were they?"
[21:18] <@Minerva`Linden> "They’re good."
[21:20] <W> "'Good'?"
[21:21] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Healthy, you know. Good."
[21:26] <W> "And as leaders, as human beings?"
[21:26] <@Minerva`Linden> "In what way?"
[21:30] <W> "Psychologically. How they talk, what they say or don’t say."
[21:31] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Um… Is that a viable question? They kind of said a lot."
[21:40] <W> "It would be if you’d been trained properly. What did they talk about? Was there anything about their lives or problems you noticed you remembered, or thought you could help with?"
[21:41] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Hmmm…"-
[21:42] <@Minerva`Linden> "The war, of course." Minerva giggled. "They talked a lot about the war, and that was a problem I could help with!"
[21:43] <W> "Why did they want to win the war? Why was it important enough to drag you in?"
[21:44] <@Minerva`Linden> "Well, because the UN were bad people, and they needed all the help they could get…"
[21:46] <W> "Was that actually what they said?"
[21:47] <@Minerva`Linden> "I’m paraphrasing. But that was the gist."
[21:52] <W> "I see." The bulk of the piece exchanges had been done by now, and the match was moving into endgame. Neither side had a clear upper hand, but W's retaliation to Minerva taking the offensive always came unexpectedly, with lulls of repositioning in between the attacks.
[21:56] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Would you like some tea?"
[22:01] * W stared at her for a few moments, brow arched, some insult ready on his tongue. "Sure," he said finally.
[22:03] <@Minerva`Linden> "Earl Grey, Chai, Neo-darjeeling, or chamomile?"
[22:04] <W> "Yes, please."
[22:05] * @Minerva`Linden smiled, and stepped away. A few minutes later, she returned with a cup of tea.
[22:09] * W accepted the cup, blew on it, and took a few long sips before setting it back down. "Why tea?"
[22:12] <@Minerva`Linden> [Except he didn’t get as far as that. After the first sip a taste of such gruelling disgustingness rolled around in his mouth that, try as he might, all he managed to do was… Throw it up a little.]
[22:17] * W did, however, manage to spit it back into the cup in a manner only slightly more dignified than his struggle with the liquid itself. "This… isn't tea," he managed to sputter. "Do you mind if I look at your kitchen to see what could possibly create something like this?" W asked the question on his way to the kitchen to see what could possibly create something like this, teacup in
[22:18] * W hand.
[22:18] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Feel free."
[22:23] <W> Contaminated water? Spoiled leaves? The former would be investigated in any case, as he attempted to wash out the aftertaste of the brew.
[22:23] <@Minerva`Linden> [Nothing quite so insidious… or was it?-
[22:24] <@Minerva`Linden> [On the bench sat four boxes of tea bags. One an Earl Grey, one Chai, one Neo-darjeeling, and the last, chamomile. All opened.]
[22:26] * W inspected the boxes and, carefully, smelled each of them.
[22:32] <@Minerva`Linden> [They didn’t smell… Evil. Neo-Darjeeling was a -strange- tea, markedly different from the others…-
[22:32] <@Minerva‘Linden> [Each box was missing one teabag, except for the earl grey, which lacked two.]
[22:35] <W> "Fond memories of tea, or is it just a habit?" He asked idly while continuing to stare at the bags.
[22:38] <@Minerva`Linden> "I just like tea."
[22:42] <W> "Mmhm." The specific mixture, then..? W took out a few more cups and let a few different combinations of the bags steep.
[22:43] <@Minerva`Linden> [Ultimately, the combination that matched the brew he’d tasted was…-
[22:43] <@Minerva‘Linden> [Earl Grey, Chai, Neo-darjeeling and chamomile.]
[22:48] <W> "I see," he muttered to himself, pouring away his creations. None of his experiments had ever produced such a dramatic result. Such an improbable event, yet… NERV was involved. It was possible they had known. He would have to investigate this further, later. He returned to the chess board with a less offensive cup.
[22:50] * @Minerva`Linden continued to sip her tea, watching W return. "Why do you use black and white pieces?"
[22:52] <W> "You think they might not be simple colours for me?"
[22:56] <@Minerva`Linden> "Are they?"
[23:00] <W> "Of course not."
[23:01] * @Minerva`Linden nodded slowly, and returned to her tea.
[23:03] <W> "They are interchangeable, simply put. They are different, but if you turn them around long enough, you can’t be sure what they were when you began. A trick of the light, if you will."
[23:06] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Hm… Sounds like you have a pretty bad memory."
[23:07] <W> "Sure. Was that not the answer you were looking for?"
[23:08] <@Minerva`Linden> "I wasn’t looking for an answer."
[23:08] <W> "Were you ever?"
[23:10] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Not really."
[23:11] <W> "I see. That’s a shame. You'll be an excellent president, Linden."
[23:12] * @Minerva‘Linden smiled, and drained the rest of her tea.
[23:18] * W continued the chess match silently and indifferently, pressuring Minerva’s king.
[17:00] * @Minerva‘Linden pushed the king to safety by moving pieces in from the offense. "So what do you want, then?"
[17:08] * W repositioned his frontlines, settling forces into the vacuum left by Minerva’s collapsed spearhead. "The world. To know everything. Call it a high score in life."
[17:09] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Why?"
[17:09] <W> "I want to see what happens."
[17:14] <@Minerva`Linden> "And what do you think will happen?"
[17:19] <W> "I might get bored and die."
[17:20] <@Minerva`Linden> "I agree."
[17:22] <W> "Or I might not. There could be enough new things."
[17:23] <@Minerva`Linden> "Or you could learn to value the old."
[17:24] <W> "What does that mean?"
[17:26] <@Minerva`Linden> "It means that if you get bored and die, it won’t be because you run out of new things." She moved a piece on the board. "It'll be because you don't have the ability to see the new things and, convinced that you have seen everything, you will die with a wealth of the unknown lying right under your nose."
[17:32] <W> "Makes sense. I will have to keep that in mind." W moved a piece. "Check."
[17:39] * @Minerva‘Linden took the offending piece with a knight. "Why did you come to visit me today?"
[17:40] <W> "You could have been a worthy foe."
[17:41] <@Minerva`Linden> "I thought so." She chuckled.
[17:42] <W> "But seriously, though, I have no contacts with the LN. I could use some."
[17:43] <@Minerva`Linden> She paused.-
[17:45] <@Minerva`Linden> He had to know this apartment was being watched. So he wouldn’t ask unless he was certain he could fabricate a good explanation beforehand. "Alright, I think I can give you that."
[17:50] <W> "I'm not looking to waste my time with some low-tier clowns, of course. They should know what I'm after."
[17:53] <@Minerva‘Linden> "I understand. They would be people outside of my own Regiment, so I doubt they would be ’low-tier' at all."
[17:58] <W> "That'll be fine." The siege continued, moving into the knight's vacuum.
[17:59] <@Minerva‘Linden> She moved a piece, although she seemed indecisive about it. She placed it on three different squares before deciding it wasn’t right- she then slowly placed it down on a last square.
[18:06] * W tapped on the side of the table idly as he kept his pieces advancing, never stopping to think about his moves for more than a second. It was almost like he knew how the game was going to go and was just playing it out of memory.
[18:08] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Are you a fan of cards?"
[18:09] <W> "Cards?"
[18:11] <@Minerva`Linden> "Playing cards."
[18:13] <W> "I like the concept."
[18:14] <@Minerva`Linden> "Why don’t I tell you a story about them?"
[18:15] <W> "I'll stop you if I've heard it."
[18:22] <@Minerva‘Linden> "You wouldn’t have heard it." She chuckled. "I was little at the time, still in training, and playing a game with one of the fellow Companions, Macquarie. It wasn't a normal game. It was one of our own devising. We each had one suit- I had Diamonds, he had Hearts."
[18:26] <W> "I see. Go on." W continued the game as conservatively as before.
[18:31] <@Minerva‘Linden> "Simply put, you had three rounds. Each round, you had to play five cards, then discard them. Of course, that meant that the last round meant that you had to play whatever cards you had remaining. Essentially? The player who played the highest total -that is, adding up all of their card values together, would win that round."
[18:33] <W> "Ah. Equilibrium laws at their simplest."
[18:34] <@Minerva`Linden> She chuckled. "That’s right. On my first round, I played five cards- a 5, 6, 7, 8, and finally the King of Diamonds, which ties it all together and forms the key to my plan."
[18:39] <W> "And did they see through it?"
[18:40] <@Minerva‘Linden> "He didn’t."
[18:40] <W> "Would've been too much to hope, of course."
[18:41] * @Minerva‘Linden chuckled. "What can I say? He failed to value the old. And 5-6-7-8-King is very old indeed."
[18:55] <W> "You don’t need to tell me that. Well, if you've got nothing more than old stories left…" W moved a piece in. "Check. Checkmate in four." He got up.
[18:57] * @Minerva`Linden chuckled. "Good game."
[19:03] * W nodded. "Frumkin might agree, if he was alive. 1987." He quickly packed up the board and pieces.
[19:03] <@Minerva`Linden> "Have a good day, Mr. W."
[19:05] <W> "You too, President Linden."

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