Cherry Blossom Procession 4 1 35

[14:35] <Minaplo> ["So I've been doing some internet research recently." Said San.]
[14:47] <Raphael> "… Have you." Nobody would've mistaken it for a question. It was, at best, concerned acceptance.-
[14:47] <Raphael> A few days had passed since their return from Japan, and Raphael's workload had been quite forcefully "encouraged" to take the time as a break. This had only led to Raphael doing the same amount of work as he normally would in slightly less formal attire - he had even dressed all the way down to business casual for today's appointment, and his hands were jammed into the pockets of his plain black slacks.
[14:51] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. You know, looking up spy stuff." Said San, who in comparison was wearing a light green tank top with a white knee-length skirt. "Who they are, what they do, how they look, where they work…"]
[14:51] <Raphael> "If you can find that out they're probably not very good spies."
[14:54] <Minaplo> ["I thought about that, but then I thought about it some more, and do you know what I think?"]
[14:54] <Raphael> "What's that?"
[15:00] <Minaplo> ["I think that some of the bad spies are actually really good spies, but just pretending to be bad. Like a cover? The last person you'd expect to be a good spy is someone you know is a bad spy. It's very Sun Tzu and stuff."]
[15:12] <Raphael> "You think they're using the Scarlet Pimpernel ploy."
[15:13] <Minaplo> ["The Scarlet Pimplenail?" She said in horror, glancing down at her own fingers.]
[15:19] <Raphael> "Mhmm," he nodded seriously. "Terrible disorder that only affects spies. If you get it you have to quit - people can spot you in the field, you see."
[15:20] <Minaplo> ["I-is it contagious?!"]
[15:26] * Raphael leaned to one side, giving her a gentle nudge with his own shoulder without breaking stride. "I'm just kidding, San," he said gently. "There's no such thing."-
[15:26] <Raphael> "Scarlet Pimpernel is… essentially Batman, but blindingly French. He's the main character of some older adventure novels about the Revolution."
[15:29] <Minaplo> ["Oh."-
[15:29] <Minaplo> [San shot him a narrow look. "You're mean!"]
[15:32] <Raphael> "It was a little mean," he admitted. "I'm sorry."
[15:34] <Minaplo> ["Hmph." She gave him a shove of her own.-
[15:35] <Minaplo> [Before long, however, they'd find themselves reaching the front desk of the ISF section of the ship. The desk was notable today primarily because Bruce Savage had fallen asleep in his chair and was now snoozing gently atop it.]
[15:37] <Raphael> "… do you think we should wake him?" Raphael asked, paused a few paces away from the desk.
[15:38] <Minaplo> ["Maybe he's mastering his Scarlet Pimpernel act." Said San in a whisper. "Let's do it anyway."]
[15:47] <Raphael> "Mmm," he smirked, already advancing towards the sleeping Brother.-
[15:47] <Raphael> "Mr. Savage?"
[15:48] <Minaplo> ["Zzzzzz," said Bruce.]
[15:50] <Raphael> He rapped his knuckles against the desk in quick succession. "Mr. Savage."
[15:56] <Minaplo> ["Huh!?"-
[15:57] <Minaplo> [He sprang awake, raising his hands up to shield his face. "M'awake!"]
[16:01] <Raphael> "Congratulations. We're here to see Director Simon?"
[16:01] <Minaplo> ["Lucky you."]
[16:01] * Raphael raised an eyebrow with excrutiating slowness. He did not blink.
[16:02] <Minaplo> ["She's that way." Said Bruce, waving somewhere to the right.]
[16:09] * Raphael kept staring a few moments longer, then simply shook his head. He returned to San and lead the way towards Simon's office. "He's in a fine mood."
[16:13] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, he is." Said San with a frown. "Rude!"-
[16:13] <Minaplo> [Before long they'd come to Simon's office; the door was closed.]
[16:16] * Raphael thumbed the buzzer and waited.
[16:18] <Minaplo> [A moment later the door opened. Jeanne Simon was sitting behind her desk, a collection of files in front of her. She did not look up. "Enter."]
[16:36] * Raphael followed the order without comment, standing just behind one of the guest chairs and waiting.
[16:38] <Minaplo> [Eventually Simon looked up. "What is it?"]
[16:47] <Raphael> "I was hoping to ask about the situation in Japan, but I get the sense this might be a bad time?"
[16:50] <Minaplo> ["Not at all, take a seat, ask away."]
[17:00] * Raphael took one of the seats for himself and gestured behind him. "Is it alright if San sits in on this?"
[17:17] <Minaplo> ["Sure."]
[17:44] * Raphael nodded. "Can I start by asking how things have evolved since the operation itself? I've been paying attention to the news, but that's a partial picture at best."
[17:46] <Minaplo> [Jeanne picked up a pen from a cup on her desk. She tapped it a few times against the knuckles of her left hand.-
[17:47] <Minaplo> ["Let's start with the important things. Looks like Japan's ditched Typhoid Eva."]
[17:47] <Raphael> "Ditched it literally or figuratively?"
[17:49] <Minaplo> ["They didn't literally put it into a ditch, no. They…" She glanced down at one of her files. "…Cut it up into a dozen pieces and dumped them into an industrial-sized fusion burner."-
[17:50] <Minaplo> ["We can, eh, bet they're working on the… You know, the other one. The Superheavy merging one."]
[17:52] <Raphael> "One less existential threat, if it's true. The Superheavy can be dealt with."
[17:53] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. We can deal with it." Said San, putting on a pair of mirrored shades.-
[17:53] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[17:53] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[17:53] <Minaplo> [San blushed and quickly whipped them away.-
[17:54] <Minaplo> [Jeanne stared at them both impassively before looking back down at her files. "It looks like they caused a delay in their Brother augmentation programme. Also, a bunch of the scientists went and took all the fall for it to deflect blame from Sakurako."]
[18:04] <Raphael> "Unfortunate, but not unexpected. Causing damage to the Emperor isn't really in our best interests, unless I'm mistaken?" Raphael asked. He'd managed to keep his eyes forward and stifle a cringe.
[18:08] <Minaplo> ["Doesn't seem to be." Said Jeanne. "Damage has been caused, though. Japan's Diet has had to make some pat statements that, y'know… Question her involvement without making it seem like they're actually questioning her involvement. You know. Japanspeak."]
[18:13] * Raphael nodded. "But nothing is likely to come of it?"
[18:15] <Minaplo> ["She might have to work a little harder. There might be some chopping and changing… Having an elite metaphysical guard under the command of Sakurako personally raises questions, legal questions. But it won't do much but slow her down for a while."]
[18:21] <Raphael> "And they aren't looking to pin it on us?"
[18:23] <Minaplo> ["They sure as hell are looking to pin it on someone." Said Jeanne. "But if we're on their shitlist they don't have anything to prosecute, so to speak. They aren't even indulging in the grand diplomatic unfriending that is recalling ambassadors."-
[18:23] <Minaplo> ["They are sending a new ambassador though."]
[18:49] <Raphael> "Oh?"
[18:50] <Minaplo> ["Mmm. A Brother named Liberté Égalité Fraternité."]
[18:56] <Raphael> Raphael looked as though he'd bitten into something sour. "Name aside… that could be difficult from an opsec perspective."
[18:59] <Minaplo> ["Agreed, but the Japanese are pretty insistent on it being him specifically." She held Liberté's dossier out toward them.]
[19:00] * Raphael took it, flipping it open at such an angle that San could see it as well if she wanted to.
[19:01] <Minaplo> [San leaned over. "Oh, the Brothers sure are beautiful, aren't they?"-
[19:03] <Minaplo> ["We'll be keeping an eye on him as best we can." Said Simon. "I've had Bruce working over time, y'know, 'experimenting' with the ship to make sure there aren't any nasty Brother-centric surprises left for us."]
[19:04] <Raphael> "That'd explain it," Raphael murmured, still skimming the dossier.
[19:13] <Minaplo> ["Explain what?"]
[19:15] <Raphael> "He seemed a little out of sorts when we came in."
[19:16] <Minaplo> ["Haha. Good."-
[19:17] <Minaplo> ["Regarding our new friend, though, it looks like your revealing that little surprise in the PSB's triggered some paranoia in Japan. They're going through and doing checks on all government bodies."]
[19:22] * Raphael flipped the folder shut and looked up. "Hopefully it'll encourage other nations to do the same. If Japan was that heavily infiltrated I have to believe similar ploys are being used elsewhere."
[19:25] <Minaplo> ["Japan must be pretty mad at the UN right now, huh?" Said San.-
[19:27] <Minaplo> ["Fairly, yes." Said Simon. "That's part of why the Federal government has such high hopes for the new Japanese ambassador… Who knows, get us a few wins in the Pacific and we might a new member."]
[15:57] <Raphael> "Which might in turn make progress with Brazil easier. That would be nice…"
[15:59] <Minaplo> ["How the dominoes fall, right? That's geopolitics." She said as an aside to San.-
[15:59] <Minaplo> ["Is that a thing spies need to know?"-
[15:59] <Minaplo> ["Sure is."-
[15:59] <Minaplo> [San whipped out a little digipad and began to tap that in.]
[16:02] * Raphael chuckled, puffing out a little breath. "So we didn't completely ruin your month, Director?"
[16:04] <Minaplo> ["No, although you're fucking lucky." Said Jeanne. "You realise how bad it would've been if all your shit went south, right?"]
[16:07] * Raphael offered a thin smile. "I realise. In my defense, it wasn't exactly the mission I was briefed on. We made the best of what we had."
[16:15] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, well…"-
[16:16] <Minaplo> [She shook her head ruefully. Jeanne leaned back in her chair and brought her booted feet up to rest on the desktop. "Looks like there'll be another mission soon, featuring far less of that collateral damage in neutral territory dealio."]
[16:24] * Raphael frowned, folding his his hands in his lap. "What kind of mission, ma'am?" he asked.
[16:25] <Minaplo> ["You a big fiction-"-
[16:25] <Minaplo> [Jeanne broke off to glance at San, who had just put her legs up on the desk as well.-
[16:25] <Minaplo> ["… A big fiction reader, Guillory?"]
[16:28] <Raphael> "San," he murmured, making a repeated downwards gesture with one hand below Jeanne's line of sight.-
[16:28] <Raphael> "Not for a long time, ma'am," he added to Jeanne.
[16:29] <Minaplo> [San frowned toward the ground suspiciously.-
[16:29] <Minaplo> ["Uh-huh. You ever hear of a book called The Maidens of Monsieur Madeleine then?"]
[16:32] * Raphael abandoned the hand actions, apparently recognizing his folly. "It doesn't ring a bell."
[16:34] <Minaplo> ["It's about this guy who lives in a world where the use of genetically engineered slaves are widespread. He saves 'em, smuggles 'em to safety."]
[16:40] <Raphael> Raphael's eyebrow inched up. "I'm assuming the connection here will be fairly on-the-nose."
[16:42] <Minaplo> ["That's right. We've gotten a message from someone calling themselves that, says they're in the Synfront and have limited access to special telepathic passcodes that, when beamed into a Phantom's head, knocks 'em out better than a mama's lullaby."]
[16:50] <Raphael> "… Hm."
[16:50] <Raphael> That was all he said for a few seconds, his expression guarded as he thought that through. "How seriously are we treating it? Caine's never made a mistake like that before."
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["There are a few caveats… The codes aren't universal, each 'pod' of Phantoms has their own, so it's no universal killswitch."-
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["Sleepswitch." Said San.-
[16:56] <Minaplo> ["… Sure. Furthermore, I'm not convinced it is legit, but the plan laid out is pretty sequential- involves making contacts across multiple cities- so we can investigate some and bug out if things get too hot."]
[17:00] <Raphael> "The endpoint being to receive the codes?"
[17:27] <Minaplo> ["Yes- for a specific Pod harassing some Brothers, apparently…"]
[17:36] <Raphael> "Well, collecting a drop is certainly a simpler proposition than Tokyo."
[17:39] <Minaplo> ["We'd want you to test it in the field of course. And then bring them in."]
[17:40] <Raphael> "…" Raphael's expression turned stony in an instant.
[17:41] <Minaplo> ["Also you might need to go into the Congo to do it."]
[17:43] <Raphael> "You're aware I started as a VTOL pilot, right Director? I know my career has… meandered, but I still wouldn't class 'spy' among my skillset."
[17:44] <Minaplo> ["Good news! You'll probably need a VTOL, because the first point is Alexandria, and the last point is in Mogadishu, and then you have to go to the Congo…"]
[17:45] * Raphael scowled. "Surely you're better off sending Mr. Munir?"
[17:49] <Minaplo> ["Look, you'd require a team anyway." Said Jeanne. "You'd need someone to telepathically beam the codes into Phantoms, for example. And you need someone with some tech ability to set up the listening posts with each contact. Plus you probably need at least two people with experience at anti-Phantom operations… And you're nothing if not that. How hard could it possibly be to take them in
[17:49] <Minaplo> alive? It's not like you're new to that, you know. At least this time you'll- hopefully- have sleepswitches."]
[17:58] * Raphael sighed, leaning back in his chair. "… I'm not saying I refuse, just voicing my concerns. As you say, a misstep on this scale because of my clumsiness would be regrettable."-
[17:58] <Raphael> "I'd ask that you loan me someone with enough experience to manage the field work. I'll keep things on track and coordinate the capture… I suppose that worked well enough in Tokyo."
[18:02] <Minaplo> ["What were you looking for skill-wise from us?"]
[18:18] <Raphael> "Hard to say without knowing the full parameters. Better skills with social information gathering for a start."
[18:25] <Minaplo> ["So you want some social skills. And would the ability to pull out some combat ability in a pinch hurt?"]
[18:27] <Raphael> "Of course not. The combination probably means the Ayanamis, Sergeant Kirishima and - shockingly - Blue to me, but you know our resources there better."
[18:29] <Minaplo> ["Blue's a good pick. I might give you a curveball, though… Take Shire."
[18:29] <Minaplo> ]
[18:33] <Raphael> "Hm," he murmured. "May I ask the rationale?"
[18:38] <Minaplo> ["He has experience with Phantoms." Said Jeanne. "He's also an AC Suit pilot, which you might find useful. He was also a leader back in the Synfront, he has plenty of all them social skills… Also, he speaks Arabic, and is from Somalia, so he has some local handy-dandiness in Mogadishu."]
[18:41] <Raphael> "That is useful. I'll keep him in mind, Director, thank you."
[18:45] <Minaplo> ["Thought so. Want another curveball?"]
[18:45] <Raphael> "Sure."
[18:48] <Minaplo> ["Consider taking Awala. He's an experienced tracker and wilderness expert. Also, he'll probably keep you from being fucked up by Ferals, and he's good at technology and he's a doctor. You should totally date him, San."-
[18:48] <Minaplo> ["… Wait, what?"-
[18:48] <Minaplo> [Jeanne shot her a deadpan wink.]
[18:57] * Raphael tried to stifle a smirk. "Another good suggestion, ma'am. What's the upper limit for the group in terms of numbers?"
[18:59] <Minaplo> ["SOP says six for this, any more and you can't fit 'em all in a car in an emergency, which is bad."]
[19:02] <Raphael> "Fair. Are we intended to set up the listening posts sequentially, or do I need to have someone trained with the technology for multiple simultaneous meets?"
[19:03] <Minaplo> ["Sequential."]
[19:06] <Raphael> "Ah, that helps. If you could forward the information on to me we can discuss the restt later?"
[19:10] <Minaplo> ["Sounds good." She said, picking up one of her pads. "I'll send it along to your military account."]
[19:16] <Raphael> "Thank you, ma'am."-
[19:20] <Raphael> "That's about all I needed to ask personally, but I believe San was hoping to raise a matter before we let you get back to work…?" He said, glancing to his right to where San was sitting and giving her a quick, encouraging look.
[19:25] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." San pulled her legs down (finally) and sat up straight. "So I was on the Tokyo mission."-
[19:25] <Minaplo> ["You sure were." Said Jeanne.-
[19:26] <Minaplo> ["Right. Um, during the mission, I realised… I was good at it." Said San. "And even better, I felt- useful, I felt… Really good! Like I'd finally found the thing I wanna do!"-
[19:26] <Minaplo> ["Okay." Said Jeanne.-
[19:27] <Minaplo> ["So uh, what I want… Is to work as an agent!" Said San.-
[19:27] <Minaplo> ["An agent."-
[19:27] <Minaplo> ["Yeah! I wanna… Spy! And counter-spy! A-And all that." Said San fervently, bundling her fists against her chin.-
[19:28] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[19:29] <Minaplo> ["Okay." Jeanne leant forwards, pulling her own legs down. "Look, it sounds like you did good in Tokyo, you Ayanamis generally are pretty good at field work, but you're a pilot, and if you want to make this formal you need to speak to the Adeptus Marshal about it." Said Jeanne. "But we also have to make sure you have the right mindset. To that end-"-
[19:29] <Minaplo> [Jeanne picked up her pad and hit a few buttons. "I've sent something to your account."-
[19:30] <Minaplo> ["Hm?" San looked down at her own pad- then frowned. "Files? Wait… Forms?"-
[19:30] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[19:30] <Minaplo> ["There's so many! What-"-
[19:32] <Minaplo> ["A lot of the time, being an agent isn't about taking down the bad guys or doing cool things in exotic places." Said Jeanne. "A lot of the time it's paperwork- filling in debriefing reports, incident reports, legal reports, equipment reports, so on and so forth- doing research… And sifting through a lot of information. A lot. If you can get through all of that I sent you, then I
[19:32] <Minaplo> might consider what you're asking, if the Adeptus Marshal says it's alright."-
[19:32] <Minaplo> [San gawked at her pad.]
[19:33] * Raphael gave Jeanne a tiny nod while San was still overwhelmed.
[19:40] <Minaplo> ["… I-I see." Said San, lifting her head. "Alright. I'll do my best."-
[19:40] <Minaplo> ["Good." Said Jeanne.]
[19:43] <Raphael> "Thank you, Director. Anything else you need to ask, San?"
[19:44] <Minaplo> ["No, I'm okay for now. Thanks, Ms. Director."]
[19:46] <Raphael> "Excellent," he said as he pushed back his chair. "Thank you for your time, ma'am. I'll speak with you on that mission sometime in the next few days."
[19:49] <Minaplo> ["Got it."-
[19:50] <Minaplo> [San stood up as well and bowed.]
[19:50] * Raphael settled for another nod and a smile, then led the way out the door.

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