Any Man S Death Diminishes Me Because I Am Involved In Manki

[13:43] <Isidor> [The prisoner was being kept in one of the Geofront cells. Sheer concrete walls, with a sealed blast door and only limited light. Dark, a little cramped…]
[14:02] <Raphael> … and doubtless it was a rather quiet confinement, which would no doubt make a metal shriek of the blast door rolling open twice as shocking. The little sliver of the outside world widened slowly, first revealing the uniformed guard who had busied himself with the door and then, a moment after, the tall figure of Raphael Guillory. The Group Captain stepped through the door and nodded to
[14:02] <Raphael> the guard, who quickly set about resealing the passage behind him.-
[14:03] <Raphael> It was only when they were alone that Raphael's attention fell upon the prisoner on the other side of the cramped cell. "Lieutenant. I trust they haven't been treating you too poorly."
[14:11] * Isidor is lying on his bed, staring up at the roof, legs crossed together. He's been stripped of his uniform, instead given a white jumpsuit. He's tall, rather pale, with black hair. "Oh, I daresay they've treated me well enough."
[14:17] * Raphael nods, taking a seat on the room's sole chair and discovering rather quickly that it's been rather firmly fixed into the concrete floor. "I hear you've been less than forthcoming in your earlier interviews, Lieutenant."
[14:22] <Isidor> "This isn't the first time I've been held prisoner. By now I feel like I deserve the right to tell whomever I want, not because some agent on a power trip deems himself to hold that sort of sway over me."
[14:28] <Raphael> "Mmm." Raphael murmurs, watching the Lieutenant with interest. "And I suppose that, when it comes to who you -would- tell, you already have someone in mind?"
[14:29] <Isidor> "Oh, yes. You defeated me, I surrendered to you. Congratulations, you win."
[14:30] <Raphael> "Is that really all it takes?"
[14:33] <Isidor> "Were you expecting some kind of quest?"
[14:37] * Raphael 's lip twitches briefly. "Perhaps not. I suppose when it comes to selection methods yours is as good as any." He says, adjusting his weight on the seat. "How are your wounds healing?"
[14:39] * Isidor lifts his right hand, which is heavily bandaged. It twitches a little. "Slowly."
[14:40] <Raphael> "You'll forgive me if I don't apologize, I hope."
[14:42] <Isidor> "Naturally. I could forgive you for injuring an enemy, but could I forgive you for abandoning an ally? Probably not."
[14:47] <Raphael> "Quite." Raphael nods, reaching one hand into the breast pocket of his jacket to retrieve a small notepad and a pen. "So… If I were to ask you some questions it wouldn't be a waste of my time?"
[14:49] <Isidor> "Ask whatever you like. I'll answer if I can."
[14:53] <Raphael> "Well, perhaps we ought to start with the basics. What's your name, Lieutenant?"
[14:54] <Isidor> "Isidor Rurikovich."
[15:03] <Raphael> "Lieutenant Rurikovich." Raphael says thoughtfully, testing the sound. He makes no move to note it down, though, simply leaving the pen hovering over blank paper. "Well, I'm Group Captain Guillory. I'm not going to ask you for a great deal, Lieutenant, but I'm interested in learning enough to keep my soldiers alive next time we meet LN forces. And that means discussing your mechanical
[15:03] <Raphael> soldiers for a start."
[15:08] <Isidor> "Do go on."
[15:15] <Raphael> "Our technical crew has been quite busy with the remains we brought home, but there are still some questions left unanswered. A good deal of them are tactical." He says, the nub of the pen tapping against paper. "The way they were deployed in Valletta - those shells - … is that standard procedure?"
[15:20] <Isidor> "When they need to be deployed fast- in an emergency situation, say, when a band of plucky, well-equipped enemy soldiers are pushing back the front line, for example- they'll use those shells."
[15:23] <Raphael> "How long does it take to ready one when the order comes down?"
[15:25] <Isidor> "A team will typically be ready to deploy within two to five minutes of receiving the order."
[15:31] <Raphael> "Mmm. Considering what else has been done to them, I'm somewhat surprised that your command doesn't simply keep a team loaded and ready at all times."
[15:34] <Isidor> "Even abominably cyborg giants need a bit of R&R. If I remember correctly, they're kept in a sort of stasis until it's time to deploy."
[15:38] * Raphael 's fingers tighten around the pen for a moment, and there's a hint of a frown around his brow, but his voice is as level as ever. "… Technical was unable to give any real answer about whether those things were cloned, nor what conditioning was being used with them, if any. Are you able to help?"
[15:40] <Isidor> "I can't say if they're cloned. They're certainly conditioned, though. I've spoken to one of them outside of combat. You can tell by the eyes- when you're around a lot of conditioned people, you learn the little signals. There's this brief moment when they're considering what to say- you can see their thoughts head in one direction, then the conditioning kicks in and whatever path that thought was on is erased."
[15:43] <Raphael> "…" Raphael glances down for a few moments, making a show of noting this down on his pad. "… is it the same with your foot soldiers, Lieutenant?"
[15:45] <Isidor> "Yes. And many of the officers as well." Isidor smiles coldly. "I was lucky and avoided that fate."
[15:45] <Raphael> "How?"
[15:48] <Isidor> "How did I avoid conditioning?"
[15:48] <Raphael> "Mmm."
[15:53] <Isidor> "Luck, knowing what to say and how to say it. Knowing the right people helps- as does the fact that I've served with the LN essentially before it was the LN."
[15:56] * Raphael nods slowly. "So how are they performing conditioning on such a grand scale, Lieutenant? If I'm to believe what you're saying, they're putting thousands of soldiers through this procedure."
[16:00] <Isidor> "The conditioning isn't as intrusive as you might expect. The Iron Guard- those cyborgs- are almost certainly neurologically altered. The foot soldiers get a cocktail of subliminal conditioning, hypnotic osmosis, regimented sleeping patterns, and are fed the doctrine until there's almost nothing else."
[16:01] <Raphael> "… That sounds rather intrusive to me, Lieutenant Rurikovich." Raphael says coldly.
[16:04] <Isidor> "Consider- as I said- that the Iron Guard are conditioned literally by doctors performing complex surgery on their brains." Isidor looked over at him. "One of them is neurosurgery, the other is psychology." He looked back up at the roof. "Ultimately, the soldiers' conditioning isn't anything new."
[16:13] <Raphael> "That doesn't seem to have changed your wish to avoid it."
[16:15] <Isidor> "Indeed." Isidor looks over at Raphael. "I -also- try to avoid things like bullets, or fire, which are both very old…"
[16:18] * Raphael gives him a long look, that pen still tapping gently on the pad. Eventually he just shakes his head. "What does the conditioning achieve? Unit cohesiveness and obedience, I expect, but some of the behaviour at Valletta suggested that there was more to it…"
[16:24] <Isidor> "Fanaticism is the key trait. The ability to attack without concern for your own well-being, to utterly believe in the validity of your actions and that the cause is greater than you. In some twisted way, it gives every soldier the feeling that what they do is critically important."#
[16:36] <Raphael> "… And knowing all this, you still willingly served the LN?"
[16:42] * Isidor let out a short, sharp bark of a laugh. "Of course not. It disgusted me."
[17:15] * Raphael pauses. "… So they forced you to remain in their service?"
[17:23] <Isidor> "Well, it wasn't so much a case of being -directly- forced as it was not exactly having anywhere to go. Most of my friends were in the military. They're dead." He looked over at Raphael. "So where could I go? Desert? Possible, but in an army of fanatics, deserters are rare. I didn't know many people either." He smirked. "And I don't speak many African languages, either. I speak English, I speak Russian. That's it. I can say a word of Arabic- 'salaam'- but that's where my experience with the Prophet's Tongue ends. I could, of course, defect. But how? It would require being in a situation where I am surrounded by enemies and my men are in a clearly tactically inferior position."
[17:29] * Raphael keeps a silent, impassive expression at that, his eyes locked on Isidor's… but after a few long moments it breaks enough to show a faint smile. "Ah. And now we get to the point."
[17:30] <Isidor> "Indeed."
[17:31] <Raphael> "So what are you looking for, Lieutenant?"
[17:36] <Isidor> "Something that doesn't exist, I believe, but I keep looking because I have no other choice except to look. I imagine, in my mind's eye, a world where being a soldier does not make a man feel like the facilitator of wrongdoing."
[17:41] <Raphael> "With due respect, sir, I'm not certain our side of the war can offer any more help in that regard." Raphael says.
[17:43] <Isidor> "Yes. That is a fact of which I am -well- aware. I was once a soldier of the UN. And before that, I marched with the New Red Army as a stoic soldier of the 4th Army Group, even as its wayward sons butchered children and raped women through Kiev and Bucharest. I was court martialed for dobbing in a superior officer in Kiev." A dark smile. "Yet honestly, I cannot shake the instinct that your side is somewhat more salvageable…"
[17:49] <Raphael> "Mmm…" Raphael falls silent, willing himself not to glance towards the high corners of the room and the cameras they concealed. There's no mistaking the risk of having such a plain conversation under this sort of observation. "I take it that you're looking for asylum?"
[17:58] <Isidor> "Yes. Perhaps more." He chuckled cynically. "I joined the LN because I was hoping it would be my ideal world. I was wrong. And now I feel that there is some unseen, but omnipresent taint in the bloodstream of the LN. Perhaps it is universal. Humans are flawed." He smiled, looking over at Raphael. "Is the UN much better? It is one thing to say that the UN fight to keep the Evangelions going. It is another thing to see people starving in the streets of Lagos because money that could be send to help them is being funnelled into those war machines. One of the central tenets of the LN army is that we can defeat the Angels in open combat. But I saw something in Valletta that makes me doubt we can defeat them, and I saw something some time ago that makes me wonder whether defeating the Angels is the LN's goal at all."
[18:02] <Raphael> "Would you care to explain?"
[18:23] <Isidor> "Angels are the enemies of mankind." Said Isidor. "You see, I was not always a Lieutenant, dear sir. I used to be a Major in the 2nd Superheavy Regiment under Colonel Linden." Isidor sighed, looking back up at the roof. "Part of her command team, in fact. I accompanied her to a… Meeting, with the other Superheavy leaders. You see, we'd detected an Angel in orbit- ah, the one that destroyed Beijing? We had, in fact, detected it some hours before it hit Beijing, because it first materialised- briefly- over Kenya. I… Broke with protocol, and spoke without being asked, arguing that we should warn Beijing first. Linden agreed, gentle soul she is, but those other two pissants- van de Laar, and Medina Rubio- may the camels urinate on his grave forevermore- shouted me down. Silas Caine went so far as to suggest we attack Paris-2 after the battle, and I may have said something rather offensive regarding his parentage." Isidor coughed. "Long story short, I was demoted and attached to the 92nd Infantry Regiment, much to my dismay. But." He shook his head. "An Angel in orbit- it's not like we were defenseless. We had weapons that could've hit it. And never, not once, as it killed millions in China and threatened to destroy the UN's entire Evangelion stock, and thus almost certainly doom mankind, did we offer to assist. That smacks of insanity."
[18:41] <Raphael> "Quite." Raphael says quietly, a little bit of anger creeping in. He'd read the reports on the damage done to China, and all the fallout that it had caused. "… Petty squabbles like ours don't mean a great deal if the world is lost in the process."
[18:43] <Isidor> "Indeed." Isidor turned his gaze back to the roof. "In Valletta, I saw that… What do you call her? The girl with the blue hair and the AT Field."#
[18:50] <Raphael> "One of the Ayanami sisters." He says, feeling a moment of hesitation at bringing them into this. "Pilot Shi."
[18:55] <Isidor> "I saw what she did." Said Isidor. "Shot that Iron Guard in the head, ripped another in half with her AT Field. When the best of the LN seem to have trouble against an injured, sick, woozy girl who collapsed soon after…" He shrugged.
[19:00] * Raphael nods. "They are certainly not girls to be taken lightly. I'm honestly a little surprised that you forces captured her in the first place."
[19:03] <Isidor> "Well, after we shot her plane down, it seemed she was rather knocked senseless by it…"
[19:05] <Raphael> "Mmm."-
[19:09] * Raphael leans back in his chair, and the notepad and pen - still mostly unused - disappear back into his jacket. "So, Lieutenant… As I seem to be your chosen go-between, I think I need to know exactly what you want here - Asylum seems to be a given. And I also need to know what you have to offer in exchange."
[19:10] <Isidor> "Tactical information, insight here and there…" Says Isidor. "After all, I've been an LN officer for a very long time." He looks over at Raphael. "I have other skills available, if need be. I can teach your friend with the fuzzy lip how to wield a sword properly, for example."
[19:12] * Raphael smirks. "The Chief Sergeant is still a little bitter about losing to you, I must say."
[19:17] <Isidor> "Good. It means he wants to improve. Tell him if he wishes to improve, then he should grow used to that sensation. I am rather skilled with the sword."
[19:27] <Raphael> "Noted." Raphael replies as he gets to his feet. "I’ll take your request to my CO and we will see how things go from there. Does that sound fair, Lieutenant?"
[19:51] <Isidor> "Sounds good." Isidor folds his hands behind his head, crosses one leg over the other. "Say, how's that medic of yours going? Out of curiosity."
[19:58] * Raphael stops halfway to the door, looking back with an eyebrow raised. "She's quite fine, Lieutenant. Make sure that curiosity doesn't get the better of you, mmm?"
[20:03] <Isidor> "Mm." Isidor glanced over at Raphael, clearly amused. "I suppose I'll have to ask your permission if I want to take her to prom?" He asks sarcastically.
[20:05] <Raphael> "Her son's a harsher judge than I am."
[20:08] * Isidor laughed.-
[20:08] <Isidor> "Say, I do have a favour to ask."
[20:08] <Raphael> "Mmm?"
[20:14] <Isidor> "I would like something to read. Not that there's much light, but I don't suppose an e-reader would be too much to ask?"
[20:23] <Raphael> "I'll see what I can do."
[20:25] <Isidor> "Thank you. Oh. I don't suppose you could see to it that my hat is returned? I am rather attached to it, all told."
[20:26] <Raphael> "… That might be a little trickier, Lieutenant." Raphael says with a small smile. "I don't think they'd be fond of you wearing it. Still, I'll ask."
[20:27] <Raphael> "In any case, you have a nice day, sir." Raphael says, giving one last nod before departing through the door.
[20:29] <Isidor> "Good day."-
[20:30] <Isidor> Isidor starts to whistle, but the sound of it is quickly cut off by the door's closing.

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