Cherry Blossom Procession 4 1 18

[12:55] <Raphael> Raphael took the long way back to the conference room. He knew what he was expected to do - return, report, perhaps give some advice - but none of that would be possible without some time to arrange his thoughts.-
[12:55] <Raphael> And so he walked, unmindful of the security cameras that tracked his movements and the heightened guard rotations that had followed the new Chiisana's arrival. He didn't even pay attention to the time - after all, the Chancellor herself had said she would be their as long as it took.-
[12:55] <Raphael> And yet his path led him inexorably back to the conference room. He stood a little straighter by that point, and his face was substantially more composed when he reached out to thumb the button that triggered the door.
[12:57] <Yanmei> It was open almost before he pulled his hand away. The conference room… was empty. Save for the Chancellor herself, who was staring moodily at her tablet. "Welcome back?"
[13:01] <Raphael> "Thank you, Madame Chancellor." He cast a quick glance over the otherwise empty room before focusing in on Yanmei as he stepped through the door and found his way to one of the chairs opposite her.
[13:06] <Yanmei> "The others ran off to go look at some machinery or something. Surov was insistent." She spent an extra minute or two peering at the screen before looking up at him and setting it aside. "How do you feel?"
[13:11] * Raphael gave her a thin smile, utterly humourless. "I don't have a good answer for that yet, ma'am."-
[13:11] <Raphael> "Luckily I've got far more to offer as far as answers about the Elder Chiisana go."
[13:14] <Yanmei> "I have to apologize. I didn't expect her to go to the only living area in the base that didn't have cameras. I bet she totally planned that on purpose?" her frown deepened a little, and she shook her head. "Did she give you hell about the tests?"
[13:16] * Raphael shook his head. "Only as a matter of course, I think. I've convinced her they're necessary, though she insisted she be allowed to terminate them at her leisure. It's the best offer we're going to get."
[13:18] <Yanmei> "I was expecting less? We can work with that."
[13:22] <Raphael> "Mmm," he agreed. "There are a few basic things to go over before I get into further detail…"-
[13:22] <Raphael> "As Ezekiel said, she has a permanent link to her Evangelion. As I suspected, that Evangelion's senses render her privy to everything that happens in range. Asgard's security should be considered compromised while it's on-site until there's absolute consensus on how we are dealing with this."-
[13:22] <Raphael> "And obviously that means she will hear everything that's said in this debriefing," he added, nodding to one side as if addressing an invisible spectator.
[13:27] <Yanmei> "I see. Then there are some questions I'll have to ask you later when we're out of range. For now, though… Did she explain what she's been up to since the last time she was with us?"
[13:30] * Raphael nodded. "She gave me her… abridged, account given the timeline, but it explains a good deal."-
[13:33] <Raphael> He didn't rush to explain how, but it was clear he was planning to. When he did speak his words were clipped and careful. "The shortest version is that she spent her stay in this alternate timeline as an absolute ruler. She says she encountered the oppression and injustice of that era and felt obliged to use her power to change it."
[13:36] <Yanmei> Yanmei… just let that sink in, staring blankly at him. Her eyebrows slowly began to rise. "That does explain a lot," she said eventually. "What kind of injustice was this…?"
[13:40] <Raphael> "She wasn't entirely specific, but I she specifically mentioned the injustices against women in that era. I imagine class and racial matters affected her just as badly, but I couldn't say for sure."
[13:42] <Yanmei> "Mmm. How was her rule? Was it, like, a blood-soaked iron fist thing?"
[13:46] <Raphael> "She was vague on that part as well, but other details she shared lead me to believe she was smarter than that. She says she used her Evangelion's powers to put an end to war and started turning the gears of society and science - jump-started by the information she could share from 13's OTIS - to more peaceful ends."-
[13:48] <Raphael> "All very idyllic," he said mildly, "But hopefully she will not mind me pointing out that we can't verify it beyond her account."
[13:56] <Yanmei> "Yeah. We really can't? And if she was using OTIS, I doubt all of her changes were for the better."
[14:01] <Raphael> "I believe that what she's saying is true, at least in the broad strokes," said Raphael looking suddenly tired. "That said, I think it's neccessary for me to point out that my objectivity here isn't assured. I'm doing my best to keep a clear head, but I'd suggest getting extra eyes on the problem."
[14:14] <Yanmei> "Right. I understand? It'll mean getting more people to talk to her, but that was going to be a goal anyway. Um. And speaking of that, is she truly determined to stick with us for a while?"
[14:17] * Raphael sighed. "I don't think you could deter her. She repeatedly referred to being here as 'her duty', and I think that means more than just piloting her Eva."
[14:18] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
[14:19] <Raphael> "She… believes you need a lesson in leadership, Madame Chancellor," Raphael said carefully. "She intends to provide it."
[14:24] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei's eyes darkened and narrowed dangerously. "Excuse me? That's a rather ridiculous assumption for someone to make after only being here for an hour or so."
[14:27] * Raphael raised a hand in attempted placation. "In all fairness to her, ma'am, I feel fairly certain she's been stewing on it for the past 200 years. Bear in mind that she experienced everything younger Chiisana has."
[14:35] <Yanmei> "Then she should know that I already have plenty of guidance and that I and the rest of the UEF will be fine."
[14:43] <Raphael> Raphael's gaze was steady. "… Permission to speak freely, Chancellor?"
[14:44] <Yanmei> "Certainly."
[14:49] <Raphael> "I don't agree with the way the elder Chiisana is handling this - it's a position that seems largely born out of centuries with unchallenged power, and I don't think it will get her what she hopes in a time where she cannot throw her weight around unchecked."-
[14:49] <Raphael> "That said," he continued, "Some of the points she's made so far have merit, and assuming her loyalty is assured I think denying that help because of a slight to your ego speaks of hubris."
[14:59] <Yanmei> "What points?! How is this even hubris? Don't I have a say in who does or doesn't train me?"
[15:10] <Raphael> "Ma'am, we both know you have a say in all of this; I couldn't force you if I wanted to," he said seriously.-
[15:10] <Raphael> "However I don't think working under the illusion that any of us are perfect is useful - on the subject of her points, when she spoke about our half-measures in dealing with her today she was absolutely right. Once she was on the base and sharing a room with us? We were alive at her discretion. That was a misstep."
[15:30] <Yanmei> "Ok. So. Fine. That was a potentially costly mistake, I'll admit that. I shouldn't have overlooked how destructive she was just based on… what? A gut feeling, I guess. That's a security issue, though. I don't see why that necessarily means I need leadership training."
[15:41] <Raphael> "It's a security issue that points to broader problems with protocol, ma'am. The fact of the matter is that our administration has always been somewhat haphazard, and we've been scrambling for footing since Mars. Our core leadership was chosen for a different war entirely, we can't trust half of our allies and our military doctrine is being written as we go," he said. "I don't view it as you needing leadership training so much as I think it might be time for the UEF to analyze the way we're proceeding."
[15:52] <Yanmei> "Tch…" She folded her arms, still sullen. "That's not… that's not wrong," she relented. "Everything's practically been patched together with duct tape and wads of gum."
[15:58] * Raphael nodded vigorously. "And I've been with you the whole way, Chancellor. I understand precisely why. Yet we are working at an enormous scale here, and the cost for mistakes is similarly magnified. If we can avoid more in the future and the most it costs us is admitting we're less than perfect, turning that opportunity down would be hubris."-
[16:00] <Raphael> "It doesn't have to be Chiisana who gives that perspective, but that doesn't mean the direction she's indicating is wrong."
[16:07] <Yanmei> "Uuugh. Fine. I'll at least talk to her about this face to face." She glanced away, still sullen. "We all know what happens when we screw up. So…"
[16:08] * Raphael gave her a little smile. "Thank you, Chancellor."
[12:48] <Yanmei> "Mmph. Did she have any other demands aside from… well. That?"
[12:51] <Raphael> "She wants her Evangelion repaired within a week…" he admitted.
[12:54] <Yanmei> "That… depends on how well the missions we have to take care of this week turn out. I can't make any promises?"
[12:58] <Raphael> "I told her as much. If we wait longer I suspect we'll have problems with her, but I suppose that's a bridge we can cross later," said Raphael. "I did manage to convince her to allow Technical to examine her Eva, so long as any testing can be done within a day. Technical won't be happy, but it was the best I could do."
[13:06] <Yanmei> "A day…" Yanmei frowned a little. "I think that's someone we could do right here if we fly in a bigger team. Technical won't be happy, but they can manage. I'm sure there are at least some scientists who will be pretty curious about this to balance it all out."
[13:10] <Raphael> "Hopefully. None of this is ideal, but as I said earlier I'm fairly sure she's trying to assert herself against our leadership from the outset. The sooner you can come to some sort of balance with her the better, Chancellor."
[13:15] <Yanmei> "Obviously you talked to her more than I have, but she's… pretty much not like our Chiisana at all, is she?"
[13:21] <Raphael> "… No. Not on the surface, at least," he said, glancing away. "Some things are still there, but… it's all buried very deep, I think."-
[13:23] <Raphael> "There'll be problems with her and the younger Chiisana. She's admitted it's likely, and I can guarantee Miss Chiisana will not approve of her older self."
[13:26] <Yanmei> "We'll try to keep them separate until we know they can cope? That's one of the reasons why I'd rather the older Chiisana stay here for now instead of on the Dorian."
[13:28] * Raphael nodded slowly. "I can see the logic in that. I suspect she'll need some convincing, but I'll leave that to you?"
[13:33] <Yanmei> "Naturally?" Yanmei tossed her hair. "If I should somehow fail, things will be… interesting on our ship for a while."
[13:35] <Raphael> "As opposed to the mundanity we're used to," Raphael said seriously.
[13:38] <Yanmei> "Touche," she muttered grudgingly.
[13:40] * Raphael beamed. "Is there anything else I can offer, Chancellor?"
[13:44] <Yanmei> "No, I think that covers everything? Do you want to know where the others are so that you can catch up? I can track their movements, at least." She picked up her tablet again.
[13:46] <Raphael> "Please. I'll pass the permission to begin testing onto Surov and then see if the Marshal needs any help."
[13:53] <Yanmei> "They're three floors down, talking in testing hangar 3-E. There are a few giant weapons supended around…" She squinted at her screen and then shook her head. "I'm sure you can get him to explain what those are."
[13:58] * Raphael raised an eyebrow. "… I'm sure, Chancellor," he said slowly, pushing back his chair. "Not quite the day we expected to be having, is it?"
[13:59] <Yanmei> "None of our Evas have been totalled by UN ambushes or sneaky Angelic Weapons. This is a good day."
[14:03] * Raphael gave her a wry smile as he stood. "I don't know if I agree, ma'am, but I appreciate the positivity."-
[14:03] <Raphael> He snapped off a salute. "In case I don't see you before you visit Chiisana, good luck."
[14:04] <Yanmei> "Thank you." She sighed tiredly. "I'm sure I'll need it."
[14:08] <Raphael> He offered her a sympathetic look as he exited, leaving the Chancellor alone in the conference room agaian.
[14:11] * Yanmei watched him go. When she was alone again, she briefly rubbed her temples and focused on the subdued glow of her tablet again.

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