Cherry Blossom Procession 4 1 17

(20:47) * Yanmei was trying very hard not to fidget, but as the minutes ticked by she could feel the annoyance in the room start to build. -
(20:52) <Yanmei> The conference room was full today, containing all of the UEF's ODs, her advisors, and several people who did not strictly fall into either of those catagories. She sat at the head of the table, and had at first passed the time making small talk with Vice Chancellor Fontaine, who sat immediately on her right. The chair to her left was empty, and eventually she trailed off, flicking irritated
(20:52) <Yanmei> glances between it and the door. The guest of honor was very late.
(20:57) <Raphael> A table like this was made to maximize visibility for all involved, but Raphael seemed to have put considerable effort into positioning himself and a Misato in the Guest of Honour's blind spot. He was in full uniform - essentially a given for meetings like this - and was leaning close to the Admiral, the two of them talking rapidly to one another.
(20:59) <AdEvaGM> [Misato looked calm, even cheery, to those who didn't know her, but the constant nervous rattling of her leg, the tapping of nails on the desktop, or the way she frenetically moved the grip of her right hand across her own neck- as though projecting a throttly fate onto another- were dead giveaways for the Misato-attuned.]
(20:59) * Sept sat pretty deep in his chair, close to giving the impression of sliding down onto the floor at any moment. With his hands locked over the front of his uniform jacket, he stared across the room at the point where wall turned into ceiling.
(21:02) <AdEvaGM> [Minutes ticked past.-
(21:05) <AdEvaGM> [Fontaine, tall, cold Fontaine, leaned down to whisper something to Yanmei when the door suddenly opened.-
(21:07) <AdEvaGM> [Kourosh Rustami stood in the doorway. Short, barely past five foot, thin and scrawny with scraggly tangled hair, a pathetic goatee and moustache and a seemingly random combination of robes, shawls and necklaces, he looked utterly ramshackle and deeply unimpressive.-
(21:07) <AdEvaGM> [At least he'd been keeping (with force) to his wash schedule. In fact, parts of him- including his face and hands- looked oddly as though he'd just washed them not a few minutes ago.-
(21:07) <AdEvaGM> ["…"-
(21:08) <AdEvaGM> ["… Are you lost, boy?" Asked Harken gruffly.-
(21:08) <AdEvaGM> ["No? No. I am not. Hi." Said Kourosh quickly; he shuffled across the room and took his seat next to Yanmei.-
(21:08) <AdEvaGM> [It began to sink in.-
(21:08) <AdEvaGM> [Eyes turned toward Yanmei, most of them doubtful, some of them accusatory.]
(21:10) <Raphael> Raphael actually seemed to be focused on the table, barring repeated, darting glances towards Misato. He'd reached out one hand to let it settle on her forearm.
(21:11) * Yanmei took it all in good stride, of course, rising to her feet. "Right, then. Now we can get started?" Whatever she'd been feeling had been swept abruptly under the rug. She wasn't about to chastize him publicly at his first meeting. It would only call his presence into further question. -
(21:19) <Yanmei> "We're here today because I wanted to introduce you to a new military strategist. This is Kourosh Rustami, post-impact veteran and, more recently, a community leader to a small Chinese village whose location must remain undisclosed for now. The late Colonial Dorian Lachapelle thought extremely highly of him, so let's all give him a warm welcome, shall we?"
(21:19) <AdEvaGM> [Kourosh gave everyone a wave that was not returned.]
(21:22) * Sept raised his hand halfway by way of a response, with an idle, if amused, smile.
(21:28) * Yanmei very nearly scowled at them all. "We're giving him an opportunity to display his skills during an upcoming Evangelion operation. In addition to this, I very strongly believe that he'll be an asset in helping to manage the UEF's internal operations."
(21:28) <AdEvaGM> ["Yeah. I'm gonna be your Prime Minister." Said Kourosh.-
(21:29) <AdEvaGM> ["What?!" Snapped Misato, nearly jerking to her feet, Raphael's hand knocked roughly aside.]
(21:30) <Sept> "Why's that?" Sera said after glancing at Misato, as if interpreting for the newcomer.
(21:33) * Raphael half-stood, a hand going to Misato's shoulder. "Misato, just wait-" he murmured.
(21:39) <AdEvaGM> ["Lady Zhang was really impressed with me and trusted me to handle it. The Prime Minister thing. It was really just a matter of asking. I trust the Lady, you all should too… No problem? Right?"-
(21:40) <AdEvaGM> ["No problem." Said Misato lowly. "We don't even have a Prime Minister title!"-
(21:42) <AdEvaGM> ["Yeah, the guy at the bar said the same thing. Something about my account not being 'real' and that's why I had to spend 20 minutes scrubbing dishes. Sorry, Lady Zhang." Said Kourosh as an aside. "But it's being made for me so I can carry out my duties, namely helping Lady Zhang win the war."-
(21:42) <AdEvaGM> [Marianne slowly sunk her face into her hands.-
(21:43) <AdEvaGM> [Misato stared at Kourosh for a few long seconds before turning her popping eyes toward Yanmei. "What the hell is wrong with you?!"]
(21:46) <Yanmei> "Excuse me?!" she snapped. "Since when has bringing in new talent to assist us been a problem?"
(21:46) * Raphael winced, still trying to grip her shoulder. He leaned in close and muttered something in her ear.
(21:49) * Sept had sat up straight in his chair and focused his attention on Misato. After a few moments, though, he returned his attention to the wall behind her.
(21:52) <AdEvaGM> [Misato moved to snap a response, but she paused, listening to Raphael silently. Although her scowl didn't vanish, it did soften lightly and a controlled tone returned to her voice.-
(21:53) <AdEvaGM> ["Madame Chancellor," Said Misato in an even, rigid tone. "We do not know this person. We do not know what he is capable of or what his intentions are. I believe it would have been wise to consult us before giving this person an important position like Prime Minister."]
(21:55) <Raphael> Raphael seemed to consider this and deem it good enough. He settled back into his chair but kept one of his hands resting on hers.
(22:00) * Sept held his tongue still, tapping silently on his hand.
(22:02) <Yanmei> "I understand your concerns, but I had to make an immediate call on the incentives needed to pull him into our forces? Because the Prime Minister position doesn't technically exist yet, we can define it so that it complements his talents and suits the needs of the organization. Plus we don't have to worry about displacing any higher-ranking officials from their own positions."
(22:04) <Sept> "If you elaborate on your actual concerns, we can look at them more closely."
(22:06) <AdEvaGM> [Misato began to grip Raphael's hand tightly; well-manicured red nails dug slightly into his flesh. "He is untried and untested; we shouldn't be giving him so much authority just as an incentive to gain talent we don't even know exist."-
(22:07) <AdEvaGM> [Judging by some the looks around the table- particularly from Leon Thomas, Harken and Mazarin- Misato wasn't alone in that.-
(22:08) <AdEvaGM> [Although both Alphonse (holoprojected in from Britain) and Minerva seemed receptive, and the man who was probably John Brown was openly smirking.]
(22:08) * Sept glanced around the table, incredulously.-
(22:08) <Sept> "Do all of you suspect Dorian's playing an elaborate prank on us?"
(22:11) <AdEvaGM> ["Dorian wasn't infallible." Growled Harken. "And he wouldn't want us to just blindly accept something. He'd expect us to look into it on our own damn terms."]
(22:14) * Sept raised his gloved hands slightly by way of a mock surrender and fell quiet again.
(22:17) <Raphael> "And I'm not clear on what Colonel Lachapelle has to do with this, aside from allegedly thinking well of our new friend," Raphael said mildly.
(22:21) * Yanmei had looked slightly startled by Sera's input, but she quickly regained her footing. "Because Lachapelle recommended him. And by calling that recommendation into question, you're indirectly calling his judgement into question. If you're worried about his capabilities, you'll get your opportunity to see him in action very soon. Then you can judge for yourselves?" -
(22:24) <Yanmei> "As for blind acceptance… we've already accepted many people into our ranks without testing them. Some of them even used to be opponents. I'm surprised that that seems to sit better with all of you than pulling in a neutral person like this."
(22:28) <Raphael> "I've not yet formed an opinion of the man, or the decision to bring him in," Raphael said, squeezing Misato's hand tighter despite the sting of the nails. "Where I will agree with the others is that this revelation could have been handled better. I suspect the Colonel did not suggest that."
(22:29) <AdEvaGM> [Kourosh rose to his feet, grasped Yanmei's wrist lightly, and murmured something into her ear… Having to step on tip toes to do it.]
(22:30) * Yanmei paused and then nodded her head once or twice.
(22:34) <AdEvaGM> [Kourosh turned his attentions toward the table. He cleared his throat and addressed them with his hands clasped in front of his chest.-
(22:36) <AdEvaGM> ["You're right." Said Kourosh. "All of you are quite right. Lady Zhang feels justified because she's seen what I can do, but she had her doubts. I asked her to trust me, and bless her soul that she did so despite my shabby appearance."-
(22:37) <AdEvaGM> ["But I cannot rightly ask the same of you all. So for now, let's forget this talk of Prime Minister. I won't accept such a position until I can convince you all that I can live up to your expectations."-
(22:37) <AdEvaGM> ["And how do you intend to do that?" Asked Harken.-
(22:38) <AdEvaGM> ["You all need proof." Said Kourosh. "So I'll bring it to you. Paris is in danger from invasion; give me charge of the armies and I'll show you that I'm worth it."-
(22:38) <AdEvaGM> ["You're going to hold off Winter-Lorenz?" Asked Misato skeptically.-
(22:38) <AdEvaGM> ["No." Said Kourosh calmly. "I'm going to present her to Lady Zhang as a prisoner in the middle of Brussels itself."-
(22:39) <AdEvaGM> [A dubious silence greeted this response.]
(22:39) <Raphael> Even Raphael raised an eyebrow.
(22:42) * Yanmei chuckled. "Interesting. If he does this, would you all acknowledge his capabilities and his new position?"
(22:45) * Raphael looked hesitant. "… Most likely. I do think that's an incredibly risky operation to use as an unknown's test of skill, Madame Chancellor."
(22:47) <Sept> "Practical question. If we're investing in France and aiming for Winter's capture, what sorts of sacrifices are we making on other fronts?"
(22:48) <AdEvaGM> ["None!" Said Kourosh. "All I need for this is four Superheavy customs and three Evas, plus some Dreadnoughts."-
(22:48) <AdEvaGM> ["But we can take five-" Began Misato.-
(22:48) <AdEvaGM> ["Three will do. The other fronts can have the starships; no need for those."]
(22:49) <Raphael> "Lacking starships did us no favours last time."
(22:49) <AdEvaGM> ["Paris will do fine."]
(22:50) <Sept> "Good, good." Sera sank back in his chair again.
(22:51) * Raphael squinted at Marianne across the table.
(22:53) <Yanmei> "He's working on a Grand Plan, I see," Yanmei grinned. "I'm confident that we'll push them back. And the more resources we have to spread around, the better, agreed?"
(22:54) <AdEvaGM> ["That's right." Said Kourosh.-
(22:54) <AdEvaGM> [Marianne gave Raphael a deeply dubious look.-
(22:54) <AdEvaGM> ["So what is this plan, then?" Said Misato.-
(22:55) <AdEvaGM> ["It's simple. We split into two groups. Group Summer and Group Milano. Group Summer consists of Keita, Pham and…" He sucked on his tongue for a moment. "Henri, along with Go and William. Or is it Michael now? Doesn't matter."-
(22:56) <AdEvaGM> ["Group Milano is Lady Zhang and Edgar." He rubbed his goatee. "Group Milano will intercept the enemy Evangelions; Lady Zhang is a high target, so they'll be sure to go after her. She'll draw them away."-
(22:56) <AdEvaGM> ["Who supports her?" Asked Marianne.-
(22:56) <AdEvaGM> ["Edgar, obviously." Said Kourosh.-
(22:56) <AdEvaGM> ["Who else?"-
(22:56) <AdEvaGM> ["Some Dreadnoughts, maybe." Said Kourosh with a shrug. "I think Lady Zhang's all we really need though."]
(22:57) <Yanmei> "Naturally~" Yanmei folded her arms confidently.
(22:57) <Raphael> Raphael seemed to have clarified his position on their hypothetical Prime Minister - he was staring at him with the utmost suspicion.
(23:04) <AdEvaGM> ["That's bullshit." Said Misato flatly. "The Deva-"-
(23:04) <AdEvaGM> ["Deva's dangerous, but so is Lady Zhang. This isn't meant to be a permanent thing; I just need her to buy time." Said Kourosh.-
(23:04) <AdEvaGM> ["How would you stop Winter and her Supers from pursuing anyway?" Asked Misato.-
(23:05) <AdEvaGM> ["Oh, that's easy. See, they're going to be cutting through the forests to try to avoid the conventional forces fighting on the open border." Said Kourosh. "So once their Evas have peeled off, before they can course correct, we drop Go into their midst and she drops them into the forest."-
(23:05) <AdEvaGM> ["Then once they're in…"-
(23:05) <AdEvaGM> [He tossed something across the table.-
(23:06) <AdEvaGM> [It was a matchbox.-
(23:06) <AdEvaGM> [Liu Lin suddenly started to laugh.]
(23:11) * Yanmei didn't go that far, but she was still grinning herself.
(23:11) <Sept> The specifics of it weren't Sera's domain to comment on. He just kept up his amused smile, looking at Lin for the moment.
(23:12) * Raphael showed no amusement as his attention moved from face to face around the table, taking the measure of the room.
(23:16) <AdEvaGM> [Alphonse and Minerva looked on with intrigued, open faces; Lin was laughing, and John Brown remained smirking. Leon Thomas was frowning thoughtfully at Kourosh. Harken looked unconvinced, whilst Marianne was staring at Yanmei worriedly. Mazarin had been impassive until the idea of burning had been broached, and now he was scowling at the matchbox with his hawkish eyes.-
(23:18) <AdEvaGM> [Fontaine's expression was steely and firm. Anyone looking at her would have the impression of someone who sincerely believed in what was being sold to them.
(23:18) <AdEvaGM> -
(23:19) <AdEvaGM> [Which left Misato…-
(23:19) <AdEvaGM> ["But that won't be enough. If you can even position the traps properly…"-
(23:19) <AdEvaGM> ["There's no knockout punch." She said eventually.-
(23:22) <AdEvaGM> ["The traps won't be enough by themselves, but it'll disorient them and throw them into confusion. Michael, Keita and Pham hit them hard in the middle. Meanwhile, Yanmei lures the Evas south, towards Mezieres. Once there, we find a way to shove them into the Meuse River…"-
(23:22) <AdEvaGM> [He tossed an ice cube onto the table.-
(23:23) <AdEvaGM> ["We blow cryo traps and freeze the river solid, trapping them harder than any bakelite could. Once they're trapped, Michael charges up a Positron Great Cannon and takes the Deva's head off. After that it's pursue and run down. Nothing to it."]
(23:29) <Sept> "Sounds like there's a lot to it. Good luck with it."
(23:29) <Raphael> Apparently on a whim, Raphael slid the ice cube towards him from the centre of the table. He shook his head, wiping now wet fingers on his jacket.
(23:29) <AdEvaGM> ["Thanks. You're an okay guy, Sera."]
(23:30) <Sept> "Mhm."
(23:31) <Raphael> "…" Shocking this did not seem to endear Kourosh to Raphael.
(23:31) <AdEvaGM> ["Your donor was scum, though. But you're okay."]
(23:33) <Yanmei> "It's a pretty solid plan, isn't it?" said Yammei loudly and quickly, peering at Misato and the other ODs.
(23:33) <AdEvaGM> ["It sounds risky as hell." Muttered Misato. "Like, if it works, it would pay off hugely, but the risks…?!"-
(23:34) <Sept> "!" Sera fixed a significantly more alert gaze at Kourosh and Yanmei for a moment.
(23:34) <AdEvaGM> ["I would not dream of taking up this position without taking as much inspiration from the masters before me, including yourself." Said Kourosh gently, bowing to Misato.-
(23:35) <AdEvaGM> ["…" Misato seemed almost shocked, and even slightly mollified; Raphael's hand was given a little reprieve.]
(23:38) <Raphael> Raphael flexed it gently, welcoming the return of some blood to his fingertips. He didn't seem to be watching Kourosh with any less suspicion, though.-
(23:39) <Raphael> "Have I missed any other plans in the works that we should measure this against?" He asked the room.
(23:42) <Yanmei> "There are none that have been brought to my attention, no."
(23:50) <AdEvaGM> ["Great." Said Kourosh. "Let's talk about China's imminent downfall."]
(23:50) <Raphael> "… Your plan for the traps and the Deva seem sound," he began, "But while I appreciate and understand your faith in the Chancellor, that Evangelion squadron dealt with her effectively enough in Belgium, and that was with a good deal more suppor- what"
(23:51) <AdEvaGM> ["China's fucked. Haven't you heard? They're about to starve and according to Prefect Han, the government's rotten."-
(23:52) <AdEvaGM> ["… Also, you're not wrong regarding the battle in Belgium." Said Kourosh, as though he hadn't said something outrageous. "I'm going to monitor Lady Zhang as closely as possible and hope a suit of F-Type armour and trees can make the difference. I've spoken to Michael about some of Kuti's limitations, and I think it can work so long as Lady Zhang makes absolutely no mistakes. Which she won't."]
(00:00) <Yanmei> "Of course I won't," said Yanmei calmly. "But yes. They're predicting a terrible famine in China, and if we don't stop it we might end up with a horribly weakened ally."
(00:02) <Raphael> "We're paying mind to Prefect Han?"
(00:03) <AdEvaGM> ["Would it really surprise you that the type of government that sees him get office is the sort that's rotten?"]
(00:03) * Raphael tilted his head. "
(00:03) <Raphael> "… fair point."
(00:05) <AdEvaGM> ["So Han's offering us evidence in exchange for a light sentence." Said Kourosh. "Now I have a plan to save China, but it involves conquering Panama, sucking up to Canada, and exposing the crimes of the current government in as public a light as possible."-
(00:05) <AdEvaGM> ["…" Marianne scowled.]
(00:10) <Raphael> "You've been briefed on quite a lot for someone who's only just now being brought to our attention, sir," Raphael said mildly. "Internal information, pilot names…"
(00:13) <AdEvaGM> ["I have sources?"]
(00:13) <Raphael> "Mmm."
(00:17) * Yanmei was simply listening. Her eyes went a little wide at the mention of sources, but she held her toungue. "Can you explain the plan in more detail?"
(00:18) <AdEvaGM> ["So first of all… the food problem." Said Kourosh. "There's only one place to find enough food for all the Chinese, and, heh, funny you should mention all that, Raphael- that place is Canada. Specifically, Canada's strategic reserve- they've been stockpiling food for years."]
(00:22) * Raphael had little to add here, but he was clearly still listening.
(00:25) <AdEvaGM> ["So we get the food from Canada. Either they give it to us out of kindness, or we buy it. Either way, we then take Panama Canal, which lets us contest the Pacific. Once Admiral Katsuragi secures it, we can begin delivering food to the Chinese."-
(00:27) <AdEvaGM> ["We then tell the Chinese that we'll foot the bill for distribution to the population." Said Kourosh. "Which is only fair as we can't trust the corrupt bastards anyway. But see, a system like that is likely to have prioritised ties and privilege over skill. That means the country's full of talented, young, upright civil servants and public reps who've been overlooked or maligned by the system. We use our authority to pull them to us, have them distribute the food- which gives them fame and love from the population, which makes them grateful to us."-
(00:28) <AdEvaGM> ["Then at the right moment, we reveal the evidence, arrest the government, and install all of those bright young things in their place. They withdraw Chinese forces from the occupied territories and stall any invasions."]
(00:29) <Sept> "Sounds like the old guard could hit a doomsday switch once they learn about this."
(00:32) <Yanmei> "I hope you don't mean that literally. But yeah, they'll have nothing to be happy about."
(00:33) <Raphael> "Potentially," he agreed. "We could have preparations in place, but… from my perspective it seems that a regime that's largely holding its grip through inertia and might is likely to react poorly to us fostering a faction with popular appeal and natural talent. That's the story of plenty of coups, and they'll know it."
(00:34) <AdEvaGM> ["Entirely true." Said Kourosh. "But we do have a few things on our side."]
(00:35) * Raphael nodded for him to continue.
(00:36) <AdEvaGM> ["One of those things is Ezra Caine." Said Kourosh. "Raphael! You know how that man operates. Here's an enemy led by an ineffectual, unpopular government full of corruption… Ezra Caine's gonna spin his invasion of China to make it sound like a liberation."-
(00:37) <AdEvaGM> ["… And he sent Wu Yuanzhang to Brazil, too!" Said John Brown, sitting up. "He's a big deal over there, eh?"-
(00:39) <AdEvaGM> ["… So Caine marches in with Wu Yuanzhang at the front of his army." Said Liu Lin. "And the old guard panic, because they know Wu will not only replace them, but probably execute half of them too."-
(00:39) <AdEvaGM> ["Which makes them pliable." Said Kourosh. "They make a noise, then we shrug and threaten to withdraw our troops. They'll wet 'emselves with blood."]
(00:41) <AdEvaGM> [Kourosh then pulled out what looked like a cold sausage from a fold of his robes; he began to gnaw at it.]
(00:42) <Raphael> … Raphael's incredulous look interrupted what seemed like a gesture of agreement.
(00:42) * Sept , too, nodded noncommittally at the idea.
(00:45) * Yanmei was thinking quietly to herself. She pretended hard not to notice the sausage. "So, then. Are there any objections to the plan? We have some time to think it over. General Liu Lin, do you have any thoughts on it?"
(00:47) <AdEvaGM> ["Pulling the troops out of the occupied regions is interesting." Said Liu Lin.-
(00:47) <AdEvaGM> ["You object?" Said Kourosh, his mouth full of sausage.-
(00:48) <AdEvaGM> ["Not at all." Said Liu Lin. "But those regions will be left defenseless, and will be quickly taken over by the UN- assuming they don't instantly rally to the UN regardless."-
(00:50) <AdEvaGM> ["Entirely possible, Lin." Said Kourosh. "But we can't spare forces to garrison those areas during a major invasion of China. Those places will fall anyway, so we might as well look benevolent over it. It means we can return there later on diplomatically with some kudos on our side."-
(00:50) <AdEvaGM> ["Mmm. In that case, I request that I be the one to organise the withdrawal." Said Lin; her face was clouded, her eyes downcast.-
(00:50) <AdEvaGM> ["…" Kourosh bowed. "Of course."]
(00:55) <Yanmei> "Hmm." Yanmei didn't say anything to that, although she did peer worriedly at Lin for a moment. "Well. That should be just about everything on the table. If no one has any additional plans to bring up, let's adjourn the meeting here."
(00:57) * Raphael was quiet, but he shot a careful look towards Misato.
(00:57) <AdEvaGM> [Misato was leaning back in her chair, her arms tightly folded, her expression hawkish.-
(00:57) <AdEvaGM> ["Sounds good. If you'll all excuse me, I need to have a long talk with a very old friend. C'mon, Leon."-
(00:57) <AdEvaGM> [Leon Thomas stood, letting out a rough chuckle. "Yeah, alright."-
(00:58) <AdEvaGM> [Kourosh turned towards Raphael and mouthed 'a source' before he and Leon both promptly left.]
(01:00) * Raphael stayed right where he was, watching Kourosh leave with a deep frown.
(01:03) * Sept stood up, meanwhile. "Can I have a moment in private when you have time, Chancellor?"
(01:04) <Yanmei> "Absolutely? I'll come find you later."

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