Cherry Blossom Procession 4 1 4

[07:43] <Yanmei> After rejoining the coronation reception - and getting quite a few raised eyebrows from Mazarin and Linden alike - Zhang Yanmei settled comfortably back in the swing of things, applauding appropriately at the new Emperor's entrance and milling around in the crowd to take in some conversation afterward. -
[07:46] <Yanmei> She avoided the drinks and the snack table completely, as was sensible, and took a few moments of silence to casually eye a few people at a distance while working out a strategy for continuing her swoop around room.
[07:46] <Yanmei> ^the room
[07:52] <Minaplo> [One of those she glanced at was starting to approach. She was pretty distinctive… Fatima Nejem.]
[07:58] <Yanmei> Yanmei promptly turned away from her. If Sophia had been here, she would have immediately feigned an intense and fascinating conversation that would have discouraged an interruption. Agatha had nabbed her some time ago, however, so Yanmei had to make do with pulling out her phone and pretending to check messages instead.
[08:03] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[08:03] <Minaplo> ["Excuse me, Chancellor?"]
[08:07] <Yanmei> "…" She turned just her head. Her eyes were cold.
[08:11] <Minaplo> [Fatima's gaze was steady and calm. "Good afternoon, Chancellor. I would like a word."]
[08:16] <Yanmei> "Why?" she said flatly.
[08:17] <Minaplo> ["You're angry with me." Said Fatima.]
[08:17] <Yanmei> "Obviously?"
[08:21] <Minaplo> ["Your poise disguises it well."]
[08:26] * Yanmei rolled her eyes. "I don't especially care to disgise it. That said, what could you possibly have to say to me after the last time we met?"
[08:26] <Yanmei> ^diguise
[08:27] <Yanmei> ^disguise >:|
[08:37] <Minaplo> ["I wish it hadn't happened as it did." Said Fatima simply.]
[08:42] <Yanmei> "You and me both? But it did. And there's not anything you can actually do to change what happened after, so…" She shrugged.
[08:45] <Minaplo> ["It wasn't your fault, what happened." Said Fatima quietly.]
[08:50] <Yanmei> "Excuse me? My fault?"
[08:57] <Minaplo> ["I know in the time after the attack, you would've racked your brains, searched every memory, had dreams- or nightmares- about what you could've done to stop it." Said Fatima. "What you could've done instead."-
[08:57] <Minaplo> ["But there was nothing you could've done. In truth, not even I saw it coming…"]
[08:59] * Yanmei said nothing. She just glared at her.
[09:04] <Minaplo> ["I… I know you're not obliged to help me. Or even to speak to me. But you know what it's like. The sensation of it."]
[09:05] <Yanmei> "The sensation of what?"
[09:07] <Minaplo> ["Berserking, of course…?"]
[09:11] <Yanmei> "What are you implying?" Her eyes narrowed. "That it was your Eva who backstabbed us and not you?"
[09:12] <Minaplo> ["…" Fatima's own eyes narrowed.-
[09:13] <Minaplo> ["I… I thought you knew 01 berserked." She said slowly.]
[09:14] * Sept is now known as Syntax
[09:17] <Yanmei> "Oh, it did. During the battle. Afterward, when we were escaping the Singularity Egg, you were speaking and acting like normal. As if you were in control of it again?"
[09:18] <Minaplo> [Fatima paled.]
[09:21] * Yanmei studied her, frowning. "You weren't in control?"
[09:22] <Minaplo> ["N-No, of course not. How many Evangelions go berserk and then just turn control back over after a few minutes?"]
[09:23] <Yanmei> "How many Evangelions can perfectly impersonate their pilots?"
[09:24] <Minaplo> ["A lot more Evangelions have berserked than have tried to impersonate a pilot." Said Fatima.]
[09:40] <Yanmei> "Regular Evas, yeah. But we didn't know anything about your unit and what it was capable of in terms of berserking. The only thing we did know was that would berserk remotely and possibly on command if we tried to examine it, which is in itself unusual. Who knew what else it was capable of?" Yanmei scowled, hands on her hips. "Anyway, escaping the Egg was kind of a top priority? When you… or it started talking, we were just relieved."
[09:44] <Minaplo> ["I don't remember any of it." Said Fatima. "I only remember-"-
[09:44] <Minaplo> [But she suddenly cut off and turned her face away.]
[09:45] <Yanmei> "What?" Yanmei pressed.
[09:48] <Minaplo> ["… Being lost in fog." Said Fatima hollowly. She turned back toward Yanmei.-
[09:48] <Minaplo> ["Metal… Jellyfish, crawling over my body. Digging wires into my skin, snaking into my veins and nerves. Turning me into a puppet."]
[09:53] * Yanmei tilted her head slightly. "That could've been a memory? Or some attempt to communicate with you. Maybe both."
[09:59] <Minaplo> ["It hurt." Muttered Fatima darkly. "It wired my jaw shut."]
[10:03] <Yanmei> "Yeah, well… depending on what your unit's personality is, those kinds of dreams can range from deeply unpleasant to terrifying in every imaginable way. Sometimes it gets better, though."
[10:04] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[10:10] <Yanmei> "It did with 04, anyway. Like, I think sometimes they just need time to get better at conveying what they're trying to convey? It's like they're testing out a new language while being constantly consumed by nevering pain, rage, sadness and insanity."
[10:11] <Yanmei> ^neverending
[10:16] <Minaplo> ["I… I see. I didn't think of that." Said Fatima slowly. "I just thought it was sadistic."]
[10:22] <Yanmei> "Don't count that out entirely. Again, we don't know what its personality is actually like yet? But just consider the alternatives too."
[10:25] <Minaplo> ["Alright. Thank you." She said with a smile.-
[10:25] <Minaplo> ["Is there anything I can do to- help the process along?"]
[10:29] <Yanmei> "The same way you would try to help anyone else you were working with who's in a lot of pain. I'm sure you have more experience with that than I do?"
[10:31] <Minaplo> ["I see… Patience and understanding, then."]
[10:31] * Yanmei nodded. -
[10:32] <Yanmei> "Anyway, best of luck."
[14:55] <Minaplo> ["Yes."-
[15:01] <Minaplo> ["… Have… You seen William around?" She asked slowly.]
[15:02] <Yanmei> "Not since we got here? But there's only so many places for him to run off to." She paused, a little awkwardly. "He's going by 'Michael' nowadays."
[15:03] <Minaplo> ["M-Michael?" her eyes widened slightly.]
[15:04] <Yanmei> "Yeah. Michael Leon." That was an interesting reaction. She watched her curiously.
[15:06] <Minaplo> ["That's… That's his birthname." She said a little breathlessly.]
[15:08] <Yanmei> "He did say a little something about 'William' being made up. Did you know he had a sister?"
[15:13] <Minaplo> ["H-He talked about her sometimes."]
[15:15] <Yanmei> "He never told us anything about her. She was the one who brought it up when she joined us. I believe she's working as a waitress these days."
[15:15] <Minaplo> "A waitress? Where?"]
[15:17] <Yanmei> "On the Dorian. At least for now. Makes it easy to stick close to him, you know?"
[15:18] <Minaplo> ["I see. That makes sense. Is he happy?"]
[15:21] <Yanmei> "I hope so. He does seem calmer than he used to be?"
[15:25] <Minaplo> ["That's good." She said, and she smiled; Yanmei noticed that she had a rather pretty, mature smile. "You and he are friends, yes?"]
[15:27] <Yanmei> "Well, yeah. We used to share an apartment, you know."
[15:28] <Minaplo> ["Of course, yes." Said Fatima with a firm nod.]
[15:29] <Yanmei> "Amatore-DeForest with with us too. And Lizzie Bellamy. He was an amazing babysitter. You should have seen him!"
[15:31] <Minaplo> ["Hahaha. I don't need to. When he used to live with me, he would go visit local schools to help teach."]
[15:34] <Yanmei> "Did he sing to the little kids there when he thought no one else was looking?" Yanmei smirked.
[15:34] <Minaplo> [She laughed. "Yes! Although he used to lead them in songs as well in front of everyone."]
[15:41] <Yanmei> "Oh, he did that at our school sometimes too? But with Lizzie, he would sometimes put on one of those dumb pop idol songs he likes so much, and the two of them would bop around while he sang to it."
[15:42] <Minaplo> ["Oh!" She laughed properly now, loudly and heartily. "Him and his pop songs. That sounds absolutely adorable."]
[15:46] <Yanmei> "I should have taken pictures."
[15:49] <Minaplo> ["Next time…?"]
[15:50] <Yanmei> "Next time," she agreed, smirking.
—-
(14:26) <Yanmei> Fatima eventually went on her way, leaving Yanmei by her lonesome once more. Only, she wasn't really alone. The coronation's afterparty was still going strong, and there were still as many enemies milling around as friendly faces. -
(14:33) <Yanmei> She played the part of the dignified dignitary, of course, slowly winding her way through the neutral part of the room, skirting dangerously close to where the UN members were congregated, carefully watching them for reactions.
(14:40) <Minaplo> [The group nearest, of course, was Ezra and Sarah… Who was still cuddling Mana.-
(14:41) <Minaplo> [Ezra's gaze slowly turned toward Yanmei. His expression brightened. "Ah, Chancellor!"]
(14:46) <Yanmei> "Marshal Caine," she said, perhaps a little stiffly. "It looks like you're enjoying yourself? Hello Madame Holt Caine."
(14:52) <Minaplo> ["Hello, Ms. Zhang. I love your uniform." Said Sarah glowingly. "It's very impressive…"]
(14:54) <Yanmei> "What, this old thing?" She started to give a little twirl, but fortunately, she had the presence of mind to stop herself. "Ahem. I mean, thank you. It's a formal occassion, after all? You two also look nice."
(14:56) <Minaplo> ["Thanks." Said Ezra. "But I dunno, Ms. Zhang. I think you're setting a fashion trend…"]
(15:01) <Yanmei> "What makes you say that?" Yanmei smirked. "There's not exactly a shortage of military men and women here."
(15:07) <Minaplo> ["Oh, I'm just observant." Said Ezra. He glanced away… His gaze, which Yanmei could easily trace, had fallen on Sophia, sitting in the corner. Who was still wearing her silken copy of Yanmei's outfit.]
(15:09) * Yanmei cleared her throat. "I can explain that. She's not a big fan of dresses, you see."
(15:13) <Minaplo> ["The dress she had on was lovely, though." Said Sarah with a sigh. "I can see how it might be a nuisance for someone who likes to… Well. Perch."]
(15:17) <Yanmei> "I've been meaning to talk to you about that. Not the perching so much, but other things going on with her. Er." She regarded Mana a little awkwardly. "Pardon me, by the way."
(15:18) <Minaplo> [Mana blushed. "I-It's okay, Chancellor."]
(15:24) * Yanmei nodded, still a little stiff and awkward, but went on regardless. "She's making friends, right? For the most part?"
(15:25) <Minaplo> ["Yes, although it's a little rough going…" Said Sarah. "She's a little clumsy around others, you know, in that way. She's very ingenuous."]
(15:30) <Yanmei> "Yeah… not that honesty's necessarily a bad thing? Especially in a place where there's not a lot of openness to be found in the first place." She did her best to keep from glancing in Mary Caine's direction.
(15:40) <Minaplo> ["True. But it does mean she ends up taking a lot of her queues from Augustine." Said Sarah.]
(15:42) <Yanmei> "Yeah. Earlier she was just talking about how helpful he is to her."
(15:45) <Minaplo> ["And… It's true." Said Ezra. "Augustine spends a huge deal of his free time with her… But, well. I'm not wholly sure if his intentions are pure."]
(15:49) <Yanmei> "I'm pretty sure she's not going to let him make out and stuff."
(15:53) <Minaplo> ["You think so?"]
(15:55) <Yanmei> "Yeah. For better or worse. She seems to feel really isolated still."
(15:55) <Minaplo> ["That might make her vulnerable." Said Sarah.]
(15:56) <Yanmei> "She hasn't let her guard down so far."
(16:00) <Minaplo> ["True enough. You know her better than we do." Said Ezra. "She was so excited, you know, about the idea of seeing you here…"]
(16:02) <Yanmei> "Yeah. We had a lot to talk about…"
(16:04) <Minaplo> ["How'd it go?"]
(16:06) <Yanmei> "Reasonably well. We reached an understanding… as friends."
(16:08) <Minaplo> ["Ah… I see." Said Ezra; he nodded slowly. "Well, I'm glad."]
(16:14) <Yanmei> "She's in quite a difficult spot with the UN. As I said before, she feels all alone, and her self esteem is just in tatters." Yanmei was rushing through her words now. "If I could fix it all tonight, I would, but I can't. What I can do is make sure that she's going to be okay when she has to go back to your ship."
(16:18) <Minaplo> ["I'll do my best." Said Ezra firmly. "I'll take care of her. Do you have any advice?"]
(16:28) <Yanmei> "Praise her and thank her regularly, especially when she does something good or clever. Have her watch more media to learn social things. TV, movies, books, that sort of thing. She's… very aware of how she doesn't fit in with conventional society, and it makes her feel bad about herself, so anything you can do to make her feel more normal beyond that would be good. Ask her for advice
(16:28) <Yanmei> occassionally to play up the things she does know. And make sure that stupid psycho Joan doesn't mess with her."
(16:30) <Minaplo> ["Hah, understood." Said Ezra.-
(16:30) <Minaplo> ["Maybe we could ask her to move in with us…?" Said Sarah.]
(16:34) <Yanmei> "You could leave the offer on the table. She might refuse and then show up months later after reconsidering. Or she might refuse and stay away, and feel secretly confused or good about it."
(16:37) <Minaplo> ["Aha! Man, it's pretty impressive that you know her so darn well when she's so quiet and shy."]
(16:39) <Yanmei> "Well. There are things that I didn't even know about her until tonight?"
(16:40) <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
(16:41) <Yanmei> "Yes," she said evenly, peering back at them firmly.
(16:45) <Minaplo> ["You gotta wonder what someone like her has seen, though." Said Sarah, taking the hint. "Think of all the days and nights she's spent prowling Paris, watching the city, watching you…"]
(16:47) <Yanmei> "You could always ask her," Yanmei pointed out, and then frowned. -
(16:48) <Yanmei> "That is, ask her stuff about Paris' shady side," she clarified.
(16:51) <Minaplo> [Ezra smirked.-
(16:51) <Minaplo> ["Not even the shady side." Said Sarah. "She must have stories about all kinds of things. Random people in the street… Finding that cat…"]
(16:56) * Yanmei nodded, frowning a little more deeply. Was that where she started to feel alone? "She spent a lot of that time hiding away, just observing. But maybe she saw some good things too? She picked up on what Christmas was, for example."
(17:15) <Minaplo> ["Did she get you a present~?" Asked Sarah with a warm grin.]
(17:18) <Yanmei> "Maybe," she said, eyes narrowing cautiously.
(17:20) <Minaplo> ["Ooh. What was it?~"]
(17:21) <Yanmei> "A very nice flower."
(17:22) <Minaplo> ["… Aww." Said Sarah, her expression softening. "That's lovely. I bet it was your favourite one, too, because she'd paid so much attention~"]
(17:28) <Yanmei> "Mmph. A-anyway, just watch out for her. And for that matter, we should be thinking about what to do about her and her phantoms after the war. And all the other primes too."
(17:30) <Minaplo> ["Agreed." Said Ezra. "Sounds like you've taken the initiative."]
(17:35) <Yanmei> "Country farmhouses. Ranches. Or, like, schools. Theraputic places that Phantom squads can call home while they learn to cope with more peaceful times. It seems pretty important that they not feel as if they're alone?"
(17:38) <Minaplo> ["Yet also giving them their own places with lots of free space, away from crowded cities and curious eyes." Said Ezra.]
(17:42) <Yanmei> "That's right. Now, the issue is paying for these ranches and also figuring out which countries would host them."
(17:42) <Minaplo> ["Hmmm. Wouldn't the victor have enough power over their own states to just force the issue?"]
(17:44) <Yanmei> "Even so, it'd be like pulling teeth. Especially if people are scared of the Phantoms by then."
(17:45) <Minaplo> ["Maybe a very wide country with lots of space, then." Said Sarah.]
(17:47) <Yanmei> "China and Russia both have plenty of space," Yanmei muttered. "The Americas too. And Australia."
(17:47) <Minaplo> ["And Canada." Said Ezra, his gaze past Yanmei's shoulder as the Canadian Prime Minister gamely attempted to strike up a conversation with a baffled, wide-eyed Sophia.]
(17:50) * Yanmei blinked and watched this exchange closely. She'd half-forgotten that he'd even come with them.
(17:51) <Minaplo> ["After all, you're making room for the Iron Guard, right?" Said Sarah.]
(17:53) <Yanmei> "In Canada?" Her brow wrinkled in confusion. "That's not something we've actually settled on yet?"
(17:54) <Minaplo> ["No, but in general…?"]
(17:57) <Yanmei> "Yeah. We're working on that." She folded her arms. "All those guys want to seem to do is fight. They're way more coherent than the Phantoms, but… how do we make them happy? It's really tricky?"
(17:58) <Minaplo> ["You mean, how will you make 'em happy when you run out of targets?" Asked Sarah.]
(17:59) <Yanmei> "Yeah, exactly. You've got a couple of them on your side too, so you should also be thinking about that."
(18:01) <Minaplo> ["I have, yeah." Said Ezra. "So I'm happy to share my insights…"]
(18:02) <Yanmei> "Oh yeah…?"
(18:03) <Minaplo> ["A question. Do you think the Iron Guard crave combat, or challenge?"]
[03:09] <Yanmei> "Probably challenge. But that's the same thing at this point, isn't it?"
(14:03) <Minaplo> ["At this point, maybe. But after the war ends…?"]
(14:07) <Yanmei> "After that, then… yeah. Probably all different types of challenges, depending on personalities. Physical, mental, supernatural…"
(14:10) <Minaplo> ["So how do you go about finding those challenges?"]
(14:13) <Yanmei> "Well, first you have to find a rival. Someone whose reputation precedes them? It probably involves keeping a strong network of business and personal connections."
(14:14) <Minaplo> ["Not quite."]
(14:16) <Yanmei> "If you have a better idea in mind, you could always just tell me?"
(14:18) <Minaplo> ["You're not going to be able to tie every individual Iron Guard to a rival." Said Ezra. "Even if you could, too many of those rivals would just be other Iron Guard or Bioexotics, and that's something you want to avoid."-
(14:21) <Minaplo> ["Here's a good tip for you. The broader you get, the simpler you have to go." Said Ezra. "What's the simplest definition of a challenge?"]
(14:23) <Yanmei> "Something that cannot be punched through with ease, of course. A roadblock requiring effort to overcome."
(14:25) <Minaplo> ["Exactly." Said Ezra. "Roadblocks, obstacles… So you find obstacles for them. Stuff that only they can do, or at least, stuff they can do better than others, but is still hard. Hunting down Impact Feral populations. Rebuilding civilization in remote and wartorn areas. Or, if you were really ambitious… Colonising other worlds."]
(14:28) <Yanmei> "Interesting…"
(14:31) <Minaplo> ["Whoever wins this war is going to end up with a world full of potential." Said Ezra. "You yourself know that: consider how easy it is for an Eva or an AT Starship to travel to Mars. It's not a hard leap to imagine the victor being able to explore the stars…"]
(14:38) <Yanmei> "Well yeah. There could be all sorts of resources out there that we don't know about yet? Maybe even more life within traveling distance." She gave a low, wry chuckle. "If they're anything like the Angels, though, we'd probably better avoid them."
(14:39) <Minaplo> ["There probably will be." Said Ezra lightly. "Maybe not nearby, but out there."]
(14:45) * Yanmei nodded slowly. "Have you ever been up in space yourselves yet?"
(14:48) <Minaplo> ["Not yet, actually." Said Sarah. "It's so unfair! We got the Damocles after it stopped hanging around in Space…"]
(14:53) <Yanmei> "Too bad. It's awfully peaceful up there~" A small smirk. "Who knows? Maybe you could go on your next day off. I bet Agatha or Augustus could work something out for you."
(14:54) <Minaplo> ["Hahaha." Said Ezra. "Maybe…"-
(14:55) <Minaplo> ["Although how could we convince them to leave us by ourselves?" Asked Sarah, glancing at Ezra; the two of them shared a very fond look for a moment.-
(14:55) <Minaplo> [Mana grinned.]
(15:05) <Minaplo> ["The stars would be so romantic." Said Sarah warmly.-
(15:05) <Minaplo> ["I don't need to go to space to see the stars in your eyes." Said Ezra softly.-
(15:05) <Minaplo> [Mana's face began to turn a bright pink.]
(15:07) <Yanmei> "Hey, look over there! Asuka's hitting someone."
(15:08) <Minaplo> [Had Asuka and Alex even returned from their vanishing act yet? Apparently not. Not that Ezra was paying attention.-
(15:11) <Minaplo> ["Asuka hitting someone happens everyday." He said Ezra, leaning toward Sarah. "But you're one in a billion…"-
(15:12) <Minaplo> [Sarah was all too happy to reciprocate, leaning closer (and dragging Mana toward it as well). "Hmm~ Tell me more about my eyes…"]
(15:15) <Yanmei> "Well! I'll leave to two to um… yes," she said, backing away. "Enjoy the rest of the festivities?"
(15:25) <Minaplo> ["Ever since I met you, my love has been nothing but a festival." Purred Ezra…-
(15:25) <Minaplo> […-
(15:25) <Minaplo> [Where to now, Yanmei?]
(15:29) <Yanmei> To the old man Minerva Linden had pointed out to her earlier. Keel Lorenz. Was he chatting with diplomats? Drinking all the wine?
(15:34) <Minaplo> [He was in fact drinking some wine, but he was chatting to someone- the Canadian Prime Minister who, after a few minutes, headed away.]
(15:40) <Yanmei> The path was clear. Yanmei tossed her head, and sauntered right up to him. "Lovely gathering, isn't it~?"
(15:48) <Minaplo> ["Hrm." Keel Lorenz was a broad-shouldered man, tall and unbowed by age. He had a firm, tough face: the lines along his cheek and mouth gave it the faint impression of a bulldog's jowls.-
(15:49) <Minaplo> ["You're Zhang Yanmei. The UEF Chancellor." He said with a frown. He had dark blue eyes.]
(15:51) <Yanmei> "Yes, I am?" She flashed him a winning smile. "And you're the influencial Keel Lorenz."
(15:56) <Minaplo> ["So you know me."]
(16:00) <Yanmei> "Well. I know your reputation. And that you're apparently throwing your hat in with Mary Caine and the UN."
(16:03) <Minaplo> [He didn't say anything to that; he just continued to stare at her.]
(16:25) * Yanmei kept up her smile, tilting her head slightly. "Am I wrong?"
(16:27) <Minaplo> ["Do you think you're wrong?"]
(16:28) <Yanmei> "No. Although I'm sure there's a good reason for it."
(16:30) <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
(16:32) <Yanmei> "Yes. Like, maybe you're not backing the UN so much as you're trying to protect your home country."
(16:33) <Minaplo> ["Possibly."]
(16:39) <Yanmei> "Or you could simply believe in the Caines' vision for the world's future."
(16:40) <Minaplo> ["Also possible. Which do you believe?"]
(16:47) <Yanmei> "I believe it's for a far more complex reason than either of those."
(16:52) <Minaplo> ["One that you understand?"]
(16:54) * Yanmei sighed reluctantly. "Maybe not, no."
(16:55) <Minaplo> ["Hm."]
(14:35) <Yanmei> "Of course, if you felt like talking about it I wouldn't mind listening."
(14:39) <Minaplo> ["Appealing to a lecturer's bias to lecture, hm?" He said with a smile.]
(14:42) <Yanmei> "Nothing wrong with that, is there?" she said with a smile of her own.
(14:46) <Minaplo> ["No, no…"-
(14:46) <Minaplo> ["Alright, then. If you were in my position, can you guess my reasons for, at least, not supporting the Federation?"]
(14:48) <Yanmei> "Less firepower, fewer personal connections, the home country situation I mentioned earlier, and Caine's rampage against… certain representatives in the United Nations."
(14:50) <Minaplo> ["Keep going."]
(14:52) <Yanmei> "Disapproval over the UEF's own members, I suppose." She glanced across the room for Mazarin. Was he still unfirebombed? "Or maybe you just disagree with our ideals in general."
(14:54) <Minaplo> [Mazarin remained blissfully unimmolated.-
(14:55) <Minaplo> ["Disapproval of your clients is… A strong contender." Said Lorenz. "Now, if you could recite your ideals for me…?"]
(15:08) <Yanmei> "To continue protecting humanity from threats against its continued existence, including those machinations set in place by the current and former heads of the United Nations."
(15:09) <Minaplo> ["And what machinations would those be?"]
(15:11) <Yanmei> "Surely, you have a better idea of that than even I do."
(15:16) <Minaplo> ["Assume that I don't."]
(15:24) <Yanmei> "…" -
(15:28) <Yanmei> "It's a really long story. There's the Eternity Drive, for starters…"
(15:29) <Minaplo> [Lorenz took a mouthful of wine.]
(15:31) <Yanmei> "Which is a device or a system that traps the souls of the dead in a horrifyingly large scale?"
(15:43) <Minaplo> [Lorenz paused slightly in his swallow.-
(15:43) <Minaplo> [Then he lowered his glass. "I see. Yet more references to 'necrotech'."]
(15:45) <Yanmei> "'Yet more'…? Excuse me. I don't remember referencing this before?"
(15:55) <Minaplo> ["You're not the first one to reference necrotech, no." Said Lorenz. "I was referring to other references to it I'd heard from others."]
(16:02) <Yanmei> "So this is like an elephant in the room. More people know about it than we'd both expect?"
(16:05) <Minaplo> ["Well, you understand that this "Eternity Drive" is not the only entry in the Necrotech category, yes?"]
(16:08) <Yanmei> "Judging from its name, I'll assume you're referring to any technology that involves housing or transferring souls."
(16:08) <Minaplo> ["That's right."]
(16:11) <Yanmei> "That's not necessarily common knowledge for everyone, but yeah, I'm sure about half the people here know about it?"
(16:13) <Minaplo> ["And you of course would know better than most, considering your career."]
(16:15) <Yanmei> "Of course? It's the first time I've actually heard that term, though."
(16:17) <Minaplo> ["We're keen to invent new terms to categorise the proliferation of new things we've run into over the past few years." Said Lorenz. "Bioexotic, Necrotech…"-
(16:17) <Minaplo> ["But, Chancellor, let us remain on-topic." Said Lorenz. "Do you oppose Necrotech, then?"]
(16:21) <Yanmei> "I oppose this form of it? Its application to individuals raised enough ethical questions as it is. Now it's being used on just about every person on the planet."
(16:24) <Minaplo> ["So it's a question of scale, then." Said Lorenz. "The UN's use of necrotech is bad because it affects everyone, but the Federation's use of necrotech is acceptable because it only affects a few."]
(16:36) <Yanmei> "The circumstances are different. Our necrotech is more like a legacy from the time when it and NERV were one and the same. It's still every bit as dubious, but it's basically become a necessary evil in order to keep going. If there's a justification behind what the UN's doing, I haven't heard it."
(16:37) <Minaplo> ["I'm sure the UN has one." Said Lorenz. "Perhaps it feels it necessary to defeat the Federation, just like, regardless of their status as a 'legacy' or not, you still choose to use the Evangelions due to their necessity."-
(16:41) <Minaplo> ["All of this hinges on whether you believe such a thing as a 'necessary' evil ever truly exists as anything less than an evil." Said Lorenz. "Here, allow me to demonstrate. Choose an evil act, one that in your eyes, is never justified."]
(16:44) <Yanmei> "Attacking and killing unarmed children."
(16:45) <Minaplo> ["Very well." Said Lorenz. "Now then, if you had to choose, who would you align yourself with? One who had killed twenty unarmed children, or one who had killed a million unarmed children?"]
(16:51) <Yanmei> "And there's no third option? Just one or the other?"
(16:54) <Minaplo> ["So if given the choice, you would prefer to side with neither party."]
(16:58) <Yanmei> "Why not? Who benefits from it either way? And if I or someone else is getting something out of it, is it massive enough to betray my ideals?"
(17:00) <Minaplo> ["Then you understand that when it comes to events, scale is secondary to the evil of the act itself." Said Lorenz. He didn't continue; he just gave Yanmei a long, penetrating stare.-
(17:01) <Minaplo> [… Then someone suddenly grabbed Yanmei's arm. A tall, elegant, beautiful blonde someone with lustrous, twinkling blue eyes.-
(17:01) <Minaplo> ["Fa~ther~". Said Juno Winter-Lorenz. "You aren't bullying sweet Chancellor Zhang?"-
(17:01) <Minaplo> [Lorenz gave her a dark look.-
(17:01) <Minaplo> ["It looked like bullying." Said Juno with a sweet smile.]
(17:10) <Yanmei> "Hardly." Yanmei flashed a bright smile at her. "We were just having a friendly chat?"
(13:17) <Minaplo> ["With my father? Please. He's a grumpy old man, why don't we leave him alone?"]
(13:23) <Yanmei> "Regardless of your daughter's words," said Yanmei turning back to Keel Lorenz, "this was a pleasure? Hopefully we can have another chat sometime in the future."
(13:26) <Minaplo> ["I'll make time for it. Have a good day, Chancellor." He held out his hand for her to take.]
(13:29) * Yanmei shook it, firmly, and then, giving him one last smile, turned to follow Juno's lead.
(13:34) <Minaplo> [Juno led Yanmei away back toward the drinks table; she grabbed a glass of wine and gestured to a nearby waiter, from which she took a small pad of sushi. "I couldn't let you just stay there all couped up with him, you understand, my chancellor?"]
(13:37) <Yanmei> "Oh?" she said politely, waiting for her to continue. The sushi looked good, but she restrained herself.
(13:38) <Minaplo> ["It would be very selfish of him!"]
(13:41) <Yanmei> "This is a surprise?" she said with a little smirk. "I didn't think you were all that interested in me."
(13:42) <Minaplo> ["Why would you say that?"]
(13:46) <Yanmei> "Well, this is the first time you've looked my way the entire evening, as far as I can tell. Unless you've been doing it in secret…"
(13:47) <Minaplo> [Her eyes twinkled delightedly; she smiled. "Maybe I have…"]
(13:54) <Yanmei> "Hmm. I wonder what was running through your mind while you were looking."
(14:07) <Minaplo> ["A fine question."-
(14:08) <Minaplo> [She lifted the sushi to her fine red lips and bit down gently on the morsel, keeping her eyes on Yanmei's.]
(14:10) <Yanmei> "…That is, was there something in particular you wanted to discuss?"
(14:13) <Minaplo> ["Of course. You."]
(14:15) <Yanmei> "You mean my position in the UEF? Or my take on all of this?" she gestured to the fabulous party going on around them.
(14:16) <Minaplo> ["You make it sound so businesslike." Said Juno; she shook her head.]
(14:17) <Yanmei> "Sorry. I'm guessing based on what I know about your new position with the UN. Congratulations, by the way?"
(14:17) <Minaplo> ["Heh."-
(14:20) <Minaplo> ["So, a Chinese schoolgirl who became a war hero, and then a politician." Said Juno. "All very interesting, but right now I want to hear more about that schoolgirl."]
(14:34) <Yanmei> "That's an… unusual request." Yanmei blinked. "I mean, I was an excellent student and super popular back in the day~ But no one actually asks to hear about that. I graduated a while ago anyway. Maybe I should start with my hobbies instead."
(14:35) <Minaplo> ["You understand that I'm not interested just in the school part, but also the girl part. Feel free to start wherever you like."]
(14:39) <Yanmei> "All right. Hobbies it is. I'm a natural-born sprinter, you know. Always have been, aside from a few periods when I was on shakey medical ground. And now. Because I don't have as much time for it as I used to? But I love it a lot. That and sparring. Do you have any hobbies that you like too?"
(14:41) <Minaplo> ["A sprinter!" Said Juno with a delighted smile. "That explains a lot."]
(14:43) <Yanmei> "Does it?"
(14:51) <Minaplo> ["You have a sprinter's build, my chancellor. I can tell- I used to be a sprinter myself when I was a young girl." Said Juno with a smile. "These days I'm more of a marathon runner."]
(14:55) <Yanmei> "Impressive. That takes a huge amount of stamina. It must've been hard building it up."
(14:57) <Minaplo> ["Practice makes perfect." She said warmly. "So you were a sprinter. How was it? Did you sprint for your school team?"]
(15:00) <Yanmei> "Yeah, in middle school. During high school, though, there were all sorts of circumstances that kept me from doing it."
(15:01) <Minaplo> ["You mentioned medical reasons…"]
(15:01) <Yanmei> "Yeah. A nasty leg injury. Also, Angel attacks."
(15:02) <Minaplo> ["Ah, I'm sorry to hear that." She said, a soft frown appearing on her brow. "That must've been torture…"]
(15:11) <Yanmei> "It… was hard to cope with," Yanmei admitted. "In the grand scheme of things, though, I guess I was still pretty lucky? After a couple of years I was eventually able to get fixed up with surgery."
(15:11) <Minaplo> ["I bet you went right back to sprinting!"]
(15:14) <Yanmei> "I did! I mean, it was too late to join the track team, but I trained on my own. Do you know what it's like to be able to run your hardest after ages of not being able to? It's an incredible feeling?"
(15:14) <Minaplo> ["A rush of freedom!"]
(15:15) <Yanmei> "Exactly!"
(12:04) <Minaplo> ["You still sprint now? You must…"]
(12:06) <Yanmei> "Of course? Whenever I can. We have a track on our ship, so that makes it easy. It needs to be bigger, though," she added with a slight frown.
(12:16) <Minaplo> ["It's always in use?"]
(12:27) <Yanmei> "Not just the track. The entire training area is almost always being used by someone or another, even during non-peak hours. If you want to be alone, what you really want to do is do up to the deck really late at night after your work's done, and then just run around that instead. Not that I'm ever actually alone alone. There are the usual security measures and personnel up there, and
(12:27) <Yanmei> I usually end up bringing my pet guard wolf with me because he needs exercise too."
(12:27) <Minaplo> [Juno's eyes lit up. "You have a wolf?"]
(12:30) <Yanmei> "Yes. Well. He's my husband's, anyway," she admitted. "Nursed him back from an injury that a crazy, strung-out wilderness buff gave him and then eventually adopted him."
(12:33) <Minaplo> ["That's great." Said Juno with a grin. "To see the chancellor leading around a big wild wolf- perhaps you should practice more publicly."-
(12:35) <Minaplo> ["But. But, my chancellor. Now you most give me something special."]
(12:38) <Yanmei> "And what might that be?" she tilted her head curiously.
(12:42) <Minaplo> ["A promise." Said Juno, leaning in slightly. "That one day, you and I will have a race."]
(12:45) <Yanmei> "Hah." Yanmei tossed her hair. "You might regret that? But fine. That sounds good to me."
(12:46) <Minaplo> ["Even if I lose it'll be well worth it to see you in action."]
(12:48) <Yanmei> "To be fair, I'm curious about how quickly you run too. It's always great to have a challenge?"
(12:52) <Minaplo> ["I'm quite fast. But like I said, I'm more trained for marathons these days. Going slower, but longer. More appropriate, I think."]
(12:53) <Yanmei> "What are the training facilities like where you're stationed?"
(12:54) <Minaplo> ["You'd know better than I do, NERV bases all look alike."-
(12:55) <Minaplo> ["So. Sprinting, what else did that schoolgirl do?"]
(12:58) <Yanmei> "The Synfront isn't a typical NERV base," Yanmei pointed out, but she grudgingly went along with the diversion. "That schoolgirl did some acting and fencing once she was brought over to Europe and learned some French. No stage plays, though. Never could make the commitment."
(13:01) <Minaplo> ["Not much need for a German general to be in Kenya, my chancellor." Said Juno.-
(13:02) <Minaplo> ["Acting, though. I wonder if you could see yourself as a movie star perhaps?"
(13:02) <Minaplo> ]
(13:06) <Yanmei> "That would be the life!" Yanmei laughed. "But not necessarily a movie star. I think I just liked being in the spotlight back then? Sadly, I never got to do even a single commercial, not even when I was still with NERV."
(13:07) <Minaplo> ["That's strange." Said Juno. "Everyone in Germany can cite Lady Asuka's commercials by heart…"]
(13:11) <Yanmei> "I don't doubt it. I still don't get why she and her squad got to do it, and not the Paris squad. Instead we got… I dunno, more dumb action figures of us produced? Oh, and that movie, I guess."
(13:15) <Minaplo> ["Most of the commercials are just Lady Asuka. I think they only made one with Hachi and Go." Said Juno.-
(13:15) <Minaplo> ["And they were government ones, too." She smiled fondly. "'I might be the best pilot, but I'm only as good as the shoulders of the people I sit on! German shoulders are the broadest and tallest in the earth, so use 'em to fix Berlin, on the double! Lady Asuka demands it!'"]
(13:17) <Yanmei> "That's… very Asuka. I wonder if she actually wrote her own lines?"
(13:18) <Minaplo> ["I think she did. Unlike the lines they wrote for that movie…?" She gave Yanmei an intrigued look.]
(13:20) * Yanmei shook her head. "We hardly had any input on that at all? I mean, they came and interviewed us before they wrote the script, but after that…" she shrugged.
(13:23) <Minaplo> ["An intriguing movie."]
(13:24) <Yanmei> "Hm? What did you like about it?"
(13:24) <Minaplo> ["Well, it was very lush."]
(13:25) <Yanmei> "Lush…? Ah, you mean, like, stylish?"
(13:26) <Minaplo> ["Yes. It was attractive, is what I mean. Colourful, pretty."]
(13:27) <Yanmei> "Yeah. I think the art director really went to town with the whole Paris backdrop. Especially the night scenes?"
(13:33) <Minaplo> ["It was gorgeous. I remember one scene, with all the stars, and being able to see the constellations…"-
(13:34) <Minaplo> [Juno let out a warm sigh. "I do enjoy my movies. Have you seen The Ghost of Sunlight?"]
(13:36) <Yanmei> "No. Based on your expression it must be pretty good, though."
(13:37) <Minaplo> ["I'll make you a promise. The next chance we have, I'll take you to go see it."]
(13:53) <Yanmei> "That's two promises in one night." Yanmei grinned. "I have to say, I'm a little suprised."
(13:53) <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
(13:54) <Yanmei> "I'm not exactly hanging out with your favorite people these days? But you're still being really nice to me."
(13:56) <Minaplo> ["I'm not hanging out with any of your favourites either, I imagine." Said Juno with a sweet smile. "Still, what can I say? I find you fascinating."]
(14:06) <Yanmei> "I see." She smiled back brightly. "Well, I find you very interesting as well, and I hope we'll see more of each other."
(14:08) <Minaplo> ["So do I."-
(14:09) <Minaplo> [She reached into her uniform pocket and tugged out a holophone. "How about a picture?"]
(14:16) <Yanmei> "Another time, perhaps. Maybe after that movie." Still smiling, she extended her hand.
(14:16) <Minaplo> ["Fair enough, my chancellor."-
(14:17) <Minaplo> [Juno put the holophone away, took Yanmei's hand and shook it firmly. "Until next time, then."]
(14:18) <Yanmei> "Right!" she said, and then, cheerfully, parted ways and began slipping back through the crowd.
(14:27) <Minaplo> [She would feel Juno's eyes on the back of her neck for a few seconds longer, then…]
(14:38) <Minaplo> -fin-

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