Cherry Blossom Procession 4 1 29

[12:38] * Yanmei sat quietly at the head of a nearly empty conference table, combing absently at her hair with her fingers. It had been a busy day. There had been debriefings, and a short rush to accomodate two new passengers on board the ship, not to mention quite a few security checks. -
[12:40] <Yanmei> Now she was waiting for one of the new guests to appear. She wasn't alone, of course. Raphael Guillory, the leader of the latest secret expedition to Japan, was sitting to her right.
[12:49] <Raphael> Approaching the end of his second day without sleep had visibly begun to wear on Raphael, but he sat straight-backed in his own chair as he scrolled through a news feed on one of the the conference room's tablets. The news out of Japan was chaotic, but more or less in the fashion they had intended. A weight off his mind, certainly…
[12:54] <Minaplo> [Surov sat in a chair opposite Raphael. Surov too bore the marks of fatigue as he hunched over the table.-
[12:55] <Minaplo> [Surov looked up as the doors opened.-
[12:57] <Minaplo> [Dr. Ikari Yutada was a handsome man. He was tall, straight-backed with neat short grey hair and green eyes behind a pair of spectacles. He looked younger than he really was, yet he held himself with an air of dignity. He wore a neat red suit and vest over a white dress shirt with a red tie. His wheelchair propelled itself into the room.-
[12:58] <Minaplo> [Behind him was Dr. Fuyutsuki. Tall, almost loomingly so, a rather gaunt man with a strong chin and an overlong nose, he had grey sideburns, pinched tight eyebrows and hair kept neat. He still wore his green turtleneck and jeans.]
[13:02] <Yanmei> "Gentlemen." Yanmei rose politely and offered them both nods. "Welcome to the United Earth Federation. I'm Zhang Yanmei, Chancellor of the federation."
[13:05] <Raphael> Raphael set the tablet aside and offered the two men a nod by way of greeting.
[13:08] <Minaplo> [Fuyutsuki and Ikari both bowed.-
[13:08] <Minaplo> ["Thank you very much for coming to our assistance, Madame Chancellor." Said Fuyutsuki.-
[13:09] <Minaplo> ["Yes, we were, as they say, in a bit of a pickle." Said Ikari.]
[13:13] <Yanmei> "Think nothing of it? I'm just happy we were about to reach you." She took her seat again and smiled. "This will be a short meeting, as I'm sure everyone is very tired."
[13:13] <Raphael> "It's appreciated, Madame Chancellor."
[13:14] <Minaplo> ["I had an easy run of it, to be honest." Said Ikari. "So please, take as long as you need with me."]
[13:14] <Raphael> "Is Chisato alright, sir?"
[13:19] * Yanmei held back while he answered that, an expression of mild concern coming over her.
[13:20] <Minaplo> ["She's fine, thank you." Said Ikari with a relieved smile. "It could've been much worse, but she's plenty tough."]
[13:22] * Raphael nodded, smiling.
[13:24] <Yanmei> "If there's anything any of you need during your stay, I hope you won't hesitate to ask."
[13:25] <Minaplo> ["Thank you."]
[13:31] <Yanmei> "May I ask how closely you've been following the war up until now? I understand that you've all been quite busy lately, so I would understand if you haven't been watching much."
[13:34] <Minaplo> ["Following as best I can."]
[13:36] <Yanmei> "You are comfortable with working with us against the UN, correct?"
[13:38] <Minaplo> ["The UN wants me dead, which I find removes a lot of one's, ah… Doubts."]
[13:46] <Yanmei> "Of course, of course. It would be wonderful if you could help out in technical now and then? But to be frank, any information that you could provide us about our enemies would be really helpful."
[13:49] <Minaplo> ["Of course."]
[14:01] <Yanmei> "Before that, however, there were some things I became curious about after hearing Guillory's reports. Your relationship with these organized crime bosses in Japan, for one…"
[14:02] <Minaplo> ["What about it?"]
[14:05] <Yanmei> "How did you manage to gain their trust? And, out of curiosity, how far does that trust extend?"
[14:06] <Minaplo> ["It's difficult to say." Said Ikari. "In reality, it is a relationship that has evolved gradually over the years. Sometimes we have had cause to challenge each other, eh… Sometimes our goals align as it were. They are not what I would call good men. But sometimes they are necessary men, and they have their own consistent code of honour that… Quiets my doubt about their reliability."]
[14:10] <Raphael> "What information we could collect from his subordinates suggests he's unlikely to turn on us without provocation," Raphael said. "Still, I think it would be best for Director Simon to try and get some agents in contact with him to grant us some more concrete assurances. He's our only real loose end."
[14:12] <Yanmei> "I'll contact her about that as soon as we're done."
[14:19] <Minaplo> [Ikari waited patiently.]
[14:29] <Yanmei> "I also have so many questions about the Brothers and the 'Eva' you all found out about, but I don't think anyone at this table has the answers for them." She frowned deeply to herself.
[14:30] <Minaplo> ["Ask anyway." Said Surov.]
[14:33] <Yanmei> "I'm wondering how many former Brothers are still working for them now. What could they be doing to keep them in line? Aggressive conditioning? Could there possibly be a way to break that in a single simple blow?"
[14:34] <Raphael> "It's entirely possible they're just well-paid, influential and protected. It's how we keep our more powerful elements on our side."
[14:39] <Yanmei> "I don't suppose you were able to communicate with any of them…?"
[14:41] <Raphael> "Not in any meaningful sense," Raphael said. "Shinji traded a few quips with the Brother team on the docks, but that was the only real interaction we had with them up close. They didn't exactly seem to be lobotomized."
[14:42] <Minaplo> ["Oh yes, Chisato told me about Shinji's 'banter' with the PSB." Said Ikari cheerily.]
[14:43] <Raphael> "He seems to have Vercingetorix's posturing down well."
[14:44] <Yanmei> "It's kind of hard to imagine him trading witty one-liners," Yanmei muttered, raising an eyebrow.
[14:46] <Raphael> "Shinji has a way of surprising you, ma'am."
[14:46] <Minaplo> [Ikari chuckled.]
[14:52] <Raphael> "In all seriousness, the Brothers are a powerful group that've been largely ignored by our sides. It's not surprising that the Unaligned Nations are using them to bridge the power gap, and I really don't know that it'd take much more than a bit of negotiation."-
[14:54] * Raphael leaned back. "The information we found points to the Emperor having about twenty of them, but if I were her I'd be collecting any more that I could. In terms of eliminating them… Right now I think it'd be more trouble than it's worth. They're a wrinkle, but I don't know they're a priority problem for us."
[14:56] <Minaplo> ["Brothers are dangerous, but all told, what is one more wave on a stormy sea?" Said Fuyutsuki thoughtfully.]
[14:56] <Yanmei> "I don't think you're wrong. It's… an uncomfortable situation, but we aren't planning to interfere much with the Emperor unless we have to? We need to keep thinking about bigger fish. Like Caine."
[15:00] <Raphael> "Mmm." There were dark circles under Raphael's eyes, but the stare he fixed on Yutada was a sharp one. "Which brings us back to you, Mr. Ikari. We hoped you might have the expertise we needed to answer some questions regarding Caine's operation. We think you're one of the few living people who can."
[15:01] <Minaplo> ["By all means, if I can help…"]
[15:03] <Raphael> "Mr. Ikari, were you involved with the creation of Caine's Eternity Drive?"
[15:05] <Minaplo> ["In a handful of ways, I was."]
[15:06] <Yanmei> "Could you elaborate? Do you have any information on its location?"
[15:07] <Minaplo> ["I'm afraid I do not."]
[15:08] * Raphael folded his hands and waited, continuing to stare at Yutada with that intense look.
[15:09] <Yanmei> "How did you assist with creating it, then?"
[15:12] <Minaplo> [Ikari's expression remained politely impassive behind those glasses. "My specialisation deals with materials, engineering, manufacture and architecture, so those were the skills that I contributed to that project."-
[15:14] <Minaplo> ["I didn't design the entire Eternity Drive." He said. "In fact, I very much doubt any one individual did. The project was… Compartmentalised. My role was to study the materials available, then devise practical uses for them, then create the plans to use those specific components."]
[15:17] <Raphael> "Could you estimate the scale of the finished product, and the resources it would need for continued operation? External power, maintenance, access to an aquifer…"
[15:19] <Minaplo> ["I could not." Said Ikari. "The components I designed were capable of being entirely self-sufficient. They were constructed of sigilite, the same material used for the Dead Sea Scrolls."]
[15:20] * Raphael directed a quick, irritated glance towards Surov in the hopes of assistance..
[15:22] <Yanmei> "Where - or to whom - did you submit your reports on the project? Surely that information would have gone somewhere…"
[15:23] <Minaplo> ["Sigilite. It's a material found in the Seedships." Said Surov. "It's an AT Field hyperconductor- AT Field energy channelled through it produce amplified outputs. Many of the UN's Evangelions use sigilite weaponry."-
[15:24] <Minaplo> ["Well I submitted them to Mary Caine, Madame Chancellor." Said Ikari.]
[15:26] <Yanmei> "She was personally acting as the head of the project?" Yanmei's eyebrows lifted high.
[15:26] <Minaplo> ["It was her project." Said Ikari. "That's not really a surprise, is it…?"]
[15:27] <Raphael> "Of course she was," Raphael said. "Basic information control, minimize the information any one person has access to and put the pieces together yourself."-
[15:28] <Raphael> "And if she'd had a different foreperson they'd be long dead," he added, apparently to himself.
[15:31] <Yanmei> "All right. Let's try this. Do you know the dates that you were working on the project? And could you identify the bases Gehirn used that were active at that time?"
[15:35] <Minaplo> ["It would've been between 2004 and 2007." Said Ikari. "So all of the Gehirn bases were in operation… Asgard, Eden, Atlantis, Nirvana, Jannah, Flammenschwart…"]
[15:38] <Yanmei> "There has to be a clue in at least one of those bases. It will be time-consuming, but we'll have to try to check as many of them as we can."
[15:39] <Minaplo> ["Weren't we going to do that anyway?" Asked Surov.]
[15:40] <Yanmei> "Yes." Yanmei sighed deeply and regretfully. "But now we at least have a time frame that we can use to narrow down any records we find."
[15:44] <Minaplo> [Ikari cleared his throat. "One of the things about Sigilite is that it's capable of storing a great deal of 'living' information… One could say that sigilite is a material yearning for a soul." He said wryly. "However, I do know that whilst great quantities of raw sigilite were found in the Black Moon, it wasn't used primarily to store souls… It seems as though that's something Lilith could do just fine by herself."-
[15:45] <Minaplo> ["But the Eternity Drive isn't using Lilith." Said Surov.-
[15:47] <Minaplo> ["No, it's not. But it is using Sigilite." Ikari let out a sigh. "Many of the sigilite devices I designed, you could probably describe them as… Mm… An array, designed to passively absorb energy, linked into a system capable of actively distributing that energy."-
[15:48] <Minaplo> ["Energy from where?" Asked Fuyutsuki.-
[15:48] <Minaplo> ["No idea. Not the sun, obviously." Said Ikari.-
[15:48] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[15:49] <Minaplo> ["… But regardless, it was definitely designed to absorb and distribute that energy. Perhaps what I designed was a power core of some kind?"-
[15:50] <Minaplo> ["But why would she need that? It would be more efficient to just create an S2 organ." Said Surov.-
[15:50] <Minaplo> ["Yes, hmm…"]
[15:54] <Yanmei> "Did they have the technology to create a functioning S2 organ then? I was under the impression that that was a recent thing."
[15:55] <Minaplo> ["The point is irrelevant." Said Surov. "Sigilite's designed to absorb AT Field energy. The only thing capable of producing enough energy to make such an array worthwhile is something with an S2 organ."]
[15:57] * Raphael watched the back and forth in silence, looking supremely unimpressed.
[15:59] <Yanmei> "There's a theory floating around about the nature of Mary Caine these days. We believe that the only thing capable of managing an Eternity Drive on the scale of, well, the Eternity Drive, would be an Evangelion or a powerful Angel. In other words, we believe that Mary Caine has been placed inside of an Evangelion."
[16:04] <Raphael> "… how is that possible? We've all seen her elsewhere. That doesn't seem like something you could operate part-time."
[16:07] <Minaplo> ["The theory is that her soul is within the Evangelion, and the Mary Caine we see is an extension of that Evangelion." Said Surov.]
[16:07] <Yanmei> "Like a remote-controlled avatar," Yanmei chimed in.
[16:08] * Raphael stared for a long time, and then just shook his head and sighed.
[16:12] <Minaplo> ["Interesting theory." Said Fuyutsuki. "But there's one problem with that, too."]
[16:12] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
[16:14] <Minaplo> ["S2 Organs." Said Fuyutsuki. "For the Eternity Drive chronology to link up, the only efficient way for it to work would be after we reverse-engineered them, which dates it to the last few years. If Caine were a fully sentient Eva, she would have to be powered by electricity up until then, which would take absurd amounts of energy and leave a signature."-
[16:14] <Minaplo> ["He's correct. Pre-Organ Evas were power-hungry, and not just in the Caine way."-
[16:14] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[16:16] <Minaplo> ["… I designed NERV's bases." He said quickly. "The positron generators they possess aren't enough to power even one Eva whilst keeping the base operational. A major reason why those bases were designed to be placed in cities was because we estimated having to rely on the wider power grids."-
[16:17] <Minaplo> ["True. Evangelions relied on urban power, and when deployed to the field they were hooked up to massive batteries instead of actual generators." Said Surov.-
[16:19] <Minaplo> ["Yes. Where there's fire, there's smoke." Said Fuyutsuki. "In this case, the smoke would be the massive logistics tail needed to maintain all that energy somewhere off the grid."-
[16:20] <Minaplo> ["And all we've found so far suggests that Caine never had such a tail." Said Surov. "Not even she would be able to hide moving heavy-duty positron generators and the technicians needed to staff them. We'd be looking at involvements of tens of thousands of people."-
[16:20] <Minaplo> ["Then the only plausible way for 'Mary Eva' theory to work is if she developed an S2 Organ and didn't tell us." Said Fuyutsuki.]
[16:26] <Yanmei> "That would be insanely risky. Unless she can see the future, she wouldn't have known we'd stumble across that knowledge on our own."
[16:26] <Minaplo> ["The Dead Sea Scrolls predicted our demise in 2018, not 2015." Said Ikari. "So perhaps…?"-
[16:27] <Raphael> "If we really needed it she just 'happens' to produce a breakthrough," Raphael muttered.
[16:27] <Minaplo> ["That's what I thought myself, General." Said Fuyutsuki.]
[16:30] <Raphael> "From what I know, S2 Energy was the domain of Misato's father. However if he'd independently developed the Organ then I don't see a reason for him to make the Antarctica expedition."-
[16:33] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyes glazed over briefly… but she snapped back to reality after just an instant, still apparently calm. "I see. Well, that still doesn't solve the problem we'll have with tracing the Eva to a specific location."
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["No, it doesn't." Said Ikari. "Although I do have an idea…"]
[16:36] <Raphael> "Yes?"
[16:37] * Yanmei waited quietly for him to go on.
[16:39] <Minaplo> ["It's a long shot and I would require a good deal of sigilite, but I might be able to see about creating a scanner that can sense sigilite's 'activation'. If my array really is being used, then it would be giving off something we can detect."]
[16:42] * Raphael frowned, scratching the edge of his nose. "We pulled Sigilite weaponry from the Mass Production Evangelion in Belgium, if I'm remembering rightly. We could repurpose that…"
[16:42] <Minaplo> ["That would make a good start." Said Ikari.-
[16:43] <Minaplo> ["One other thing I think I will do is look over our records regarding S2 Organs." Said Fuyutsuki. "I think a good place to start would be to see what other pre-Angelic entities we found had S2 Organs and see if we did anything with them."]
[16:46] <Yanmei> "Thank you. That would be quite helpful? And in the meantime, I'll start organizing ways to get more sigilite if the weapons are not enough."
[16:48] <Minaplo> ["Thank you."-
[16:48] <Minaplo> ["There is one other thing."]
[16:49] <Yanmei> "Yes?"
[16:51] <Minaplo> ["Whether she's an Eva or not, I may have devised a method to assassinate the Mary Caine we know."]
[16:51] <Raphael> That had Raphael's full attention. "Gendo was adamant that it was impossible."
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["It is if you stick to the old methods of assassination. Her AT Field is extremely powerful, after all." Said Ikari. "But I may have found a weakness."]
[16:53] <Raphael> "How?"
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["At the risk of sounding like a man with a hammer… Sigilite."-
[16:55] <Minaplo> [He reached into his pocket and took out a small stone made of an obsidian-black material.-
[16:56] <Minaplo> ["An AT hyperconductor, as Dr. Surov says." Said Ikari. "The problem is that it doesn't store AT Field energy, it only amplifies it. To assassinate her with this, we'd still need an Evangelion or comparable to get to her, which has its own problems."-
[16:57] <Minaplo> ["But sigilite's properties change depending on its state." He said. "It only seems to output its energy if it's solid state. Make it liquid and it'll hold that energy until it becomes solid, at which point the energy within is released."-
[16:58] <Minaplo> ["What I'm theorising is a sigilite liquid bomb." Said Ikari. "We keep it as liquid, and we pour energy into it over a long period of time. Then, if we can get someone close to Mary Caine, they can harden the bomb, which will produce enough energy to tear through Caine's AT Field, hopefully killing her."]
[17:00] <Yanmei> A slow smile was starting to creep across Yanmei's face. She stopped it, though, as she considered the reality facing them. "Getting it that close will be difficult? But at least there's a window for success with that plan."
[17:02] <Minaplo> ["There's a few other problems with the plan, too." Said Ikari. "Keeping sigilite as liquid can be difficult, not to mention liquefying it in the first place."-
[17:02] <Minaplo> ["All things considered, we'd need an AT Field user to go personally… And they probably won't survive."]
[17:04] <Raphael> "Not ideal…"-
[17:04] * Raphael chewed his bottom lip. "There are other questions as well. If the theory about this… avatar, proves accurate, assassinating it might not slow her down. If she has spares, she could engineer a 'miraculous escape'. If she doesn't, well, it'd likely annoy her, but she's almost entirely hands-off as it is. I'm not seeing a reason she couldn't operate as effectively through a
[17:04] * Raphael proxy."-
[17:05] <Raphael> "It's all well and good to spit in her eye, but given the risk and the potential for blowback we'd need to be sure it would hurt her in a meaningful way."
[17:07] <Yanmei> "That's less of a problem if we go straight to the source and ignore her avatar," Yanmei pointed out, "which is something we should absolutely do? I don't like the idea of a suicide mission, though. We have to find a way to raise the odds in our favor."
[17:09] <Minaplo> ["That's why I've been in communication with certain factions within the UN, trying to find more information about the Mary Caine we know, to see if it really would harm her in any meaningful way."]
[12:12] <Raphael> "Mmm. Fair enough, sir."
[12:14] <Yanmei> "I do feel as though she would conceal that information from even her most loyal associates? But I think it's a hopeful plan nevertheless."
[12:15] <Minaplo> ["Agreed. It's a faint hope, but if anyone can find out, Promised Land will."]
[12:16] * Yanmei looked a little surprised. "Do you have a long history with Promised Land? Or is this a recent partnership?"
[12:17] <Minaplo> ["It's a fairly recent alliance, yes, but we have had some dealings before, when our goals have aligned."-
[12:17] <Minaplo> [But Fuyutsuki frowned.]
[12:20] * Yanmei picked up on that at once. "Were they unreliable during your previous dealings?"
[12:20] <Minaplo> ["No. Why?"-
[12:21] <Minaplo> ["I have some concerns when it comes to Promised Land." Said Fuyutsuki.]
[12:22] * Raphael watched the exchange quietly.
[12:23] <Yanmei> "Why is that?" Yanmei pressed.
[12:27] <Minaplo> ["The medieval Japanese believed that knowing your enemy and what they were going to do was an important element of warfare. To that end, when they fortified castles, they would incorporate into the design deliberate weaknesses and vulnerabilities, knowing that any halfway decent general would see the weaknesses and attack them first. In that case, the defenders knew what the attackers would do and could make preparations to counter it by laying traps and forcing them into bottlenecks."-
[12:28] <Minaplo> ["That is to say, I feel like Promised Land is the UN's deliberate weakness, a magnet for every plot and scheme against them… And Mary Caine knows fully well what's going on."]
[12:29] * Raphael nodded slightly. "I can't say I disagree."
[12:29] * Yanmei nodded as well, troubled.
[12:30] <Minaplo> ["What else can we do?" Said Ikari, shaking his head. "Despite it all, knowing the weak spot is a trap doesn't make the frontal assault any less suicidal."]
[12:31] <Raphael> "Mmm. Something to keep in mind, however."
[12:36] <Yanmei> "We should make this the final thing we rely on them for," said Yanmei. "Surely, there are other weaknesses in the UN that we can find and exploit."
[12:37] <Raphael> "If there is we haven't found it, ma'am. It's what makes me agree with Fuyutsuki."
[12:40] <Yanmei> "I'm just saying that we should either be looking harder or creating our own openings. God knows they have."
[12:42] * Raphael looked like he was going to say more, then settled for a nod. "Yes ma'am."
[13:11] <Minaplo> ["We've been looking for years." Said Surov shortly.]
[13:23] * Yanmei took a pause. "I didn't mean to insensitively imply that you hadn't been? Maybe I'm just a little frustrated."
[13:27] <Minaplo> ["We're all frustrated because we keep looking for weaknesses and finding little in the way of… Anything." Said Surov.]
[13:28] <Raphael> "A large part of this operation was looking for weaknesses," he said mildly, with a glance to Yutada. "No offense intended, sir."
[13:29] <Minaplo> [Ikari gave him a low nod.-
[13:30] <Minaplo> ["At least we've managed to turn the Japanese away from the UN somewhat." Said Fuyutsuki. "I don't like Japan tampering with corrupted Evangelions, but I'd be lying if I didn't find the idea of an AT Field-using Superheavy appealing as an ally."]
[13:34] <Yanmei> "Only as ally though," Yanmei muttered in agreement.
[13:39] <Raphael> "We'll see where things fall in the next few days. That our involvement is heavily obscured and the UN's is not is certainly a strike in our favour," Raphael said. "Will the Unaligned States take action against them over this?"
[13:42] <Minaplo> ["My instinct is they'll protest, there might be some backlash, but nothing major." Said Ikari. "Japan's reaction might be harsher, but the Non-Aligned League isn't entirely close-knit."-
[13:42] <Minaplo> ["What raises questions, however, are those battlesuits." Said Fuyutsuki. "Where were they going?"]
[13:43] <Raphael> "Sharing amongst their allied states, perhaps? If I were them I'd be trading on my ability to narrow the power gap."
[13:45] <Yanmei> "It's possible. Think about how much revenue they could generate by doing that…"
[13:52] <Minaplo> ["Of course, a few battlesuits won't turn the tide of the war." Said Fuyutsuki.-
[13:53] <Minaplo> ["Japan probably has more." Said Surov. "I wish I could've been able to study the suit…"]
[13:54] <Yanmei> "If we coax them into a friendlier relationship with us, you'll probably get your chance to."
[13:55] <Raphael> "They'll be wanting to sell them anyway, I imagine. I can't see a good opportunity for the Yakuza to use them without bringing the PSB down firmly on their head."
[14:06] <Minaplo> ["True." Said Surov. "We should monitor any arms trades in the region."]
[14:09] <Raphael> "Mmm."
[14:13] <Yanmei> "In any case, were there any other things we wanted to discuss today before we all break and get some rest?"
[14:16] <Raphael> "I did have one question," Raphael said carefully. "According to you, Mr. Ikari, your work - which sounds like it would've been crucial to the project - occured after Impact. We know she's stolen access to souls lost in the initial disaster. I don't see how those two facts add up."
[14:31] <Minaplo> ["Yes, that's a good question, isn't it?" Said Ikari. "I'm afraid I don't know. Metaphysics isn't my cup of tea."-
[14:31] <Minaplo> ["Perhaps I can offer some answers." Said Fuyutsuki, who only now decided to actually sit down instead of loom over Ikari's shoulder.]
[14:31] <Raphael> "If you could, sir."
[14:32] * Yanmei just watched him curiously.
[14:38] <Minaplo> ["Where does the human soul go when its body perishes?" Said Fuyutsuki solemnly. "Naturally the soul returns to Lilith. The soul of a Seed is akin to a great ark, in which souls are stored. Like an E-Type soul can contain another soul within it… Yes, fundamentally the soul of a Seed is much the same thing, but on a greater scale."-
[14:40] <Minaplo> ["And the same is true for Angels?" Said Surov.-
[14:40] <Minaplo> ["I imagine so-"-
[14:40] <Minaplo> ["Then your explanation falters before observation." Said Surov sharply. "Angelic souls return to Adam's body. I know; I retrieved them myself."-
[14:40] <Minaplo> [An awkward silence fell on the table.]
[14:45] <Raphael> "…" Raphael's expression suggested he wished he hadn't asked.
[14:51] * Yanmei fixed Surov with a long, disbelieving stare. Eventually her eyes narrowed slightly as she came to one conclusion or another.
[14:52] <Minaplo> ["… Allow me to finish." Said Fuyutsuki, his tone unruffled and unhurried.-
[14:54] <Minaplo> ["It is true that the souls of the Angels were redirected to the Cradle of Adam." He said. "But the evidence for Seeds' souls being arks is overwhelming. What I believed happened in the case of the Angels was a failsafe."-
[14:57] <Minaplo> ["We know Adam's soul was placed within Isaiah Gabriel-Wei's seal." Said Fuyutsuki. "As the seals of an E-Type are designed to reduce or silence the influence of the soul within, it stands to reason that one of the influences being exhibited would be the mechanics that draw souls to them. In this case, the Angels would have been drawn to the body… A backup system."-
[14:59] <Minaplo> ["And we know the bodies of such entities can hold souls. Such has been your observation both with Adam and also with EVA-07 in the Eden incident, I presume?" Said Fuyutsuki calmly. Surov frowned.-
[15:00] <Minaplo> ["Thus what I believe happened is that the human souls within Lilith were simply extracted at some point. Possibly before she was sealed inside Ranvier, or before she was sealed inside Blanc and Akagi."]
[15:04] <Yanmei> "Hold on. That's a massive number of souls? Wouldn't it take forever to extract them?"
[15:13] <Minaplo> ["It would, yes." Said Fuyutsuki with a frown.-
[15:13] <Minaplo> ["… Unless you built an array out of material designed to conduct souls." Said Ikari, suddenly going pale. "Oh God!"]
[15:18] <Yanmei> "So that's what they used the sigilite for…" Yanmeir muttered darkly.
[15:19] <Minaplo> [Ikari covered his face with his hands.-
[15:20] <Minaplo> ["I feel it's naive to assume that's just what it was used for." Said Surov flatly. "If it was used to pull the souls out of Lilith, then chances are it's still being used… Perhaps as part of the system that draws souls to the Drive. It's probably still processing souls now."-
[15:20] <Minaplo> [Ikari's posture crumbled.]
[15:21] * Raphael watched Ikari with his jaw clenched, silent.
[15:23] <Yanmei> "Um. Maybe we should adjourn for the day. Get some rest and think about what we've learned." She too was watching the old man, although she was trying not to make it obvious.
[15:29] <Minaplo> [Fuyutsuki moved to handle Ikari's chair, only for the old man to shove his hand away. "I can look after myself, Fuyutsuki." Said Ikari rawly; there was wetness in his eyes as he moved his hand.-
[15:30] <Minaplo> [With that, Ikari pulled himself away and quite abruptly left.-
[15:30] <Minaplo> [Fuyutsuki sighed. "This will weigh heavily on him, Chancellor, General."]
[15:32] <Raphael> "It should," Raphael said.
[15:33] <Yanmei> "Yeah. We'll give him some time alone."
[15:33] <Minaplo> ["That's an uncalled-for sentiment, General." Said Fuyutsuki.]
[15:41] <Raphael> "On that we disagree," Raphael said. "Do you require anything more, Chancellor?"
[15:44] <Yanmei> "I don't, no." She stood up quickly. "Everyone is dismissed."
[15:47] <Minaplo> [Surov left quickly.-
[15:48] <Minaplo> [Fuyutsuki remained seated, leaning back in his chair and scratching at the whiskers on his jaw thoughtfully.]
[15:51] <Raphael> Raphael gave Yanmei a quick salute and then followed Surov out.
[15:53] <Minaplo> ["A curious man, the General. Don't you agree, Chancellor?" Said Fuyutsuki quietly. For Yanmei's benefit, he slipped into Mandarin Chinese.]
[15:56] <Yanmei> "The General?" Yanmei sounded puzzled. "He's… what passes for normal on this ship. That said, I apologize for his gruffness just now. Surov's too."
[15:58] <Minaplo> ["Chancellor, you don't have to apologise. I played vice-director to Ikari Gendo for years, and was his… Colleague years long before that. I'm used to gruffness."-
[15:59] <Minaplo> ["… But that was a very Gendo-esque sort of gruffness then, wouldn't you think?" Said Fuyutsuki thoughtfully.]
[16:01] * Yanmei gave a half-grin. "Are you suggesting that the late director somehow rubbed off on him during the months they knew each other?"
[16:02] <Minaplo> ["Yes. Or perhaps they were just alike individuals to start with? I couldn't say for sure." Said Fuyutsuki slowly.-
[16:04] <Minaplo> ["What do you think, Chancellor? Do you think Dr. Ikari should feel weighed down heavily by what he has done?"]
[16:11] <Yanmei> "If he was telling the truth - and he was in the dark about Caine's plans with no way to uncover more about them - then I think he should be able to forgive himself with time. There were probably thousands more people working on the Eternity Drive at that time without realizing what it was actually for, and if we judged him we would also have to judge all of them. If he's telling the truth,"
[16:11] <Yanmei> she repeated, just for emphasis.
[16:12] <Minaplo> [Fuyutsuki nodded.-
[16:13] <Minaplo> ["If I may ask, who did you lose during Impact, Chancellor?"]
[16:15] <Yanmei> "Impact happened before I was born? There were some family members I never had the opportunity to meet, though."
[16:17] <Minaplo> ["Mmm. I'm sorry for your loss, regardless."]
[16:22] <Yanmei> "Thank you." She glanced to the door. "Whatever else you can say about Evangelion pilots, some of us are at least lucky enough not to remember those losses. Unlike Guillory and just about every other soldier in the Federation. And probably yourself and Dr Ikari too. I'd like to offer my own condolences, if I may?"
[16:23] <Minaplo> ["Thank you. I appreciate it." Said Fuyutsuki gravely.]
[16:26] <Yanmei> "Do you feel the same way about Dr Ikari's reaction? That he should forgive himself someday?"
[16:29] <Minaplo> ["I think so." Said Fuyutsuki. "Are you familiar with Dr. Ikari's other work?"]
[16:30] * Yanmei hesitated and shook her head.
[16:30] <Minaplo> ["He designed NERV's bases." Said Fuyutsuki. "That standardised design was his work, you can see it in Boston, Tokyo, even the Geofront."-
[16:31] <Minaplo> ["But he also helped design cities. Paris-2 and Tokyo-2 are both his designs."-
[16:34] <Minaplo> ["Cities designed to be quickly repaired and able to protect themselves from attack…" Fuyutsuki shook his head. "Most of Tokyo-2 and Paris-2 are made using identikit module pre-fab buildings. That's not a mistake- he designed those, as well. Now they're used all over the world- cheap and expendable, but durable too. You probably lived in one of his pre-fabs half your life, if you lived in Beijing-2 before coming to France."-
[16:34] <Minaplo> ["He's rather proud of his work." Said Fuyutsuki. "He always is quite cheerful when he sees it in action. I think a part of him loved hiding out in Tokyo-2 just because of the thrill of sheltering in his own creation."-
[16:41] <Minaplo> ["Did we ever think to ask Dr. Ikari what he thought he was making for Caine?" Said Fuyutsuki. "Perhaps he was genuinely proud of what he was doing… Even though Mary Caine tried and almost succeded at killing him for it."-
[16:42] <Minaplo> ["And now he has learned that what he made was a soulcatcher, and that will rest heavily on him. Moreso than others, because now he is responsible for trapping even his own wife and the mother of his child."-
[16:43] <Minaplo> ["I think… He won't forgive himself." Said Fuyutsuki. "But perhaps we should. It's the right thing to do."]
[16:48] <Yanmei> "Hmm." Yanmei folded her arms. "I can decide who I forgive, but I can't say the same for everyone else. Even if I order them to, I can't make them do it."
[16:52] <Minaplo> ["True enough. I suppose like vines, everyone has to take their own twisting path when it comes to growing up."]
[16:59] <Yanmei> "I can't bring myself to equate forgiveness with growing up, but that's still an interesting way to put it?" She gave him another grin. "This entire conversation has been fun, in fact. Do you want to continue it over a snack? My treat."
[17:00] <Minaplo> ["Oh." Fuyutsuki brightened. "That would be wonderful. There's been all kinds of things I've been hoping to talk about… Perhaps I could tell you a few stories from our escapades?"]
[17:01] <Yanmei> "Absolutely?" She gestured toward the door before leading the way. "This way, please."
[17:02] <Minaplo> [Fuyutsuki rose to his feet, falling in slightly to her left.]

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