Cherry Blossom Procession 4 2 18

[23:21] * Yanmei sat primly in the Captain's chair of The Dorian Lachapelle's bridge. It was a fine chair. Self-heating, plenty of shiny, powerful buttons, and even a switch that could make it rotate that the user's will. Technically it was Marianne's chair, but she wouldn't be back from her break for a while yet. Anyway, it was way more suited for Chancellor than a common Adeptus Marshal, wasn't it? She eyed the console in front of it, wondering if it was overkill to put her feet up on it.
[23:30] <Minaplo> ["Feeling comfortable, Yanmei?" Asked Frederic, sitting in his own smaller chair a few metres away.]
[23:31] <Yanmei> "Absolutely~" She preened. "What are you guys working on, anyway?"
[23:36] <Minaplo> ["Routine bridge stuff." Said Frederic. "The usual."-
[23:36] <Minaplo> ["Archibald, you still keeping an eye on Shinji's giant die?" Asked Frederic.-
[23:37] <Minaplo> ["Yes, sir." Said Archibald seriously. Out the window, the diamond-like angel Ramiel hovered over Paris-2, reflecting the beautiful sunny day in its clear blue surfaces.]
[23:40] <Yanmei> "It looks like something that belongs in a museum? It's all… abstract," Yanmei muttered.
[23:42] <Minaplo> ["On the contrary, ma'am, it is an octohedron." Said Archibald.]
[23:45] <Yanmei> "I'll rephrase that: It's weird-looking. It doesn't even have a face!"
[23:45] <Minaplo> ["On the contrary, ma'am, it has eight faces."]
[23:48] <Yanmei> "That's not what I mean?" she shot her a sulky look.
[23:49] <Minaplo> [Archibald's expression was carefully professional. "My apologies, ma'am."-
[23:49] <Minaplo> ["It's not weird-looking that's the problem." Said Sophie. "It's a perfectly normal blue octohedron."-
[23:50] <Minaplo> ["Except that life doesn't look like blue octohedrons, it looks like, well… Things with one face and a bunch of limbs. Not that. That's weird."-
[23:50] <Minaplo> ["I think it's pretty." Said Casey. "Like a big shiny space diamond."]
[23:54] <Yanmei> "It might be hiding a mouth somewhere." Yanmei eyed it suspiciously. "Like if an enemy gets too close to it, it might open up down the center like it's a hinge, showing off thousands upon thousands of pointy teeth. Then… Chomp!"
[23:54] <Minaplo> ["That's stupid." Said Casey.-
[23:55] <Minaplo> ["The thing that bothers me is that it doesn't seem to have a visible core." Said Frederic. "Very weird…"-
[23:55] <Minaplo> [At that moment, the door opened and someone stepped out into the bridge.-
[23:56] <Minaplo> ["My analysis implies that the Angel's core is buried in the absolute centre of the body." Said Sarasvati.-
[23:57] <Minaplo> [The crew wheeled about on their chairs, surprise showing on every face. "Sarasvati? You're back?" Said Frederic.-
[23:58] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati stood in the doorway, sporting the white with blue cuffs, collar and trouser striped official uniform of a Technical officer.]
[00:03] * Yanmei gleefully pressed the rotate button on her chair so that she too was facing the door. -
[00:04] <Yanmei> "Hey! Welcome back?"
[00:14] <Minaplo> ["Thank you very much." Said Sarasvati, her smile bright and cheerful. "I am pleased to report that I am fully capable for active duty in all forms once again!"]
[00:18] <Yanmei> "Glad to hear it? We'll get you set up in Technical before the end of the week. I'm sure they have a lot of projects waiting for you. Like… the MP Eva stuff."
[00:20] <Minaplo> ["Yes, my father has outlined the situation." Said Sarasvati. "Would you like to discuss it in the ready room, Madame Chancellor?"]
[00:22] * Yanmei peered down at her chair for a moment with a faintly mournful expression. "Certainly?" she said at last, and stood up to lead the way.
[00:30] <Minaplo> [And Sarasvati followed, taking a seat at the table.]
[00:34] <Yanmei> "I trust that you've been kept up to date with most of our recent events. Do you have any thoughts on them? Or questions?"
[00:36] <Minaplo> ["Yes." Said Sarasvati. "Please tell me about what you intend regarding the MP Evas, the Shadowpeople, the German negotiations, the Soviet Union and the Eternity Drive."]
[00:45] * Yanmei resisted the urge to bury her face in her hands. "I don't know. About any of it. The MP Evas are in stasis until we can look at them more closely and figure out that they're not a threat. I'd like to reach an agreement in which we can ally with both the Germans and the Soviets while moving our civilians to a less volatile country. Our best bet for the Shadowpeople is to make them allies and to somehow find a place for them at the end of the war. And the Eternity Drive is… we know what it is, at least, but getting rid of it means killing people, which is always a troubling thing."
[00:46] <Minaplo> ["Please elaborate."]
[00:50] <Yanmei> "On all of them?"
[00:58] <Minaplo> ["Yes, please. If it helps, you might choose which you feel is the most pressing."]
[01:07] * Yanmei took a breath. "As I mentioned before, the Master Models are currently in stasis. The danger to them - and us - is that Mary Caine may have retained some control over them and the Ayanamis. Our guest, Mr. de Orleans, explained the danger to us? And quite frankly, we shouldn't take any chances with it. A task force has been dispatched to study the Master Models and to make sure, once and for all, that they don't have a berserk switch or a more composed murder-mode switch that Caine can trigger remotely. We're almost positive that the secret lies with those black things we found on their cores, but only time will tell."
[01:09] <Minaplo> ["The black boxes." Said Sarasvati. "The simplest answer would be to block the signal, but in reality there is no way of telling what that might do to the Ayanamis."]
[01:13] <Yanmei> "We could try testing it on one, just temporarily? But that might be horrible for the Ayanami selected."
[01:22] <Minaplo> ["Optimally, it would be an Ayanami whose soul fragments have merged fully." Said Sarasvati. "But that is still an ongoing process. We will have to rely on a volunteer."]
[01:27] <Yanmei> "And if no one steps forward?"
[01:31] <Minaplo> ["Offer incentives in escalating amounts until someone does." Said Sarasvati. "Besides, one of them will volunteer if it means protecting the others."-
[01:32] <Minaplo> ["I request that Ayanami Rei be disbarred from volunteering, however."]
[01:36] <Yanmei> "What's your reasoning behind that?"
[01:42] <Minaplo> ["Ayanami Rei is not like the other Ayanamis." Said Sarasvati. "Her creation involved different techniques and conditioning than were used on her sisters. Furthermore, she has been exposed to deep Angelic mental connection multiple times among other things. If she is tested, then I cannot vouch that the results will be representative of the Ayanami cohort."]
[01:48] <Yanmei> "I see. Heh. You know, it's funny. She's the sort who would probably jump to volunteer right away despite the risks."
[01:49] <Minaplo> ["I know." Said Sarasvati warmly.]
[23:09] <Yanmei> "You may have missed the news, but she was a big hit in the U.K. you know. Maybe she had a future in politics?"
[23:14] <Minaplo> ["I was able to follow the election campaign. Ayanami Rei did very well. I look forward to speaking to her soon about how well she did." Said Sarasvati with a smile. "Should we move on to your other concerns?"]
[23:17] <Yanmei> "Ah, sure. That would be the Shadowmen? If we're going in order from most to least urgent. They are camping out on the moon with a rotating Eva guard to look affter them. Talks have not yet been scheduled with their representative, but they need to be very soon. Everyone is terrified of what will happen if we let them get too close."
[23:22] <Minaplo> ["What do you think?"]
[23:24] <Yanmei> "If we don't ally with them, then we have to kill them. But killing them if they're sentient doesn't seem quite right. They're like extra terrifying civilians at this point."
[23:34] <Minaplo> ["Agreed. However, this is not an unprecedented situation."]
[23:36] <Yanmei> "What do you mean?"
[23:40] <Minaplo> ["There are a milieu of dangerous entities within the Federation. Broadly, they divide into two categories."-
[23:42] <Minaplo> ["The first category are entities which are extremely dangerous, but are kept around because the danger they pose is outweighed by the danger they offset. For example, the Evangelions and the Cradle of Adam."-
[23:46] <Minaplo> ["The second category are entities which are extremely dangerous, but are tolerated because of their usefulness and because of extenuating circumstances that contains their threat. For example, the soul fragments of Lilith, Vercingetorix's Angels, Excalibur, Ezekiel, the Lances of Cassius and Longinus, the Iron Guard, Akagi Tsubaki, the Empress Chiisana, and myself."-
[23:48] <Minaplo> ["Since the Shadowpeople are nonessential, they must by definition fall into either the second category, or be destroyed. If we suppose to place them within the second category, then we should study our methods of containing these other threats, identify what works, and see if it can be reapplied to the Shadowpeople."]
[23:56] <Yanmei> "Okay. The things that work so far, based on that, are associations through friends and family, not having another place to go to, terrifying magic contracts, compulsion, having a common enemy and… either curiosity or philosophical reasons I don't fully understand. Ezekiel is tricky."
[23:57] <Minaplo> ["Ezekiel is tricky." Said Sarasvati with a nod. "I, it is wrong to say that I do not trust him. But he is more powerful than he lets us believe he is."]
[23:59] <Yanmei> "Considering his origins, I'm not too surprised. Did he say something to you about it?"
[00:01] <Minaplo> ["He has made unexplained references to possessing a different, more powerful form before. I cannot find any records of it being demonstrated, however, but considering that his vessel is the Philosopher's Stone, I imagine it to be at least on par with an Angel."]
[00:02] <Yanmei> "…" -
[00:03] <Yanmei> "But he has no reason to use that form on us right?"
[00:04] <Minaplo> ["He has so far been nothing but helpful."]
[00:07] <Yanmei> "Hrm. He has. But he's been pretty grumpy at times too?"
[00:10] <Minaplo> ["Everyone is entitled to be grumpy." Said Sarasvati with a smile. "Besides, he has often had good reasons to be grumpy."]
[00:13] <Yanmei> "Like what? It's not like we pester him to do things for us that much…"
[00:25] <Minaplo> ["He was especially agitated regarding the excursion to reforge the Lance of Cassius due to the risk it posed to reality."]
[00:29] <Yanmei> "Yeah but I assumed he felt a little better about it after taking it out on Go," muttered Yanmei.
[00:31] <Minaplo> ["Rather the opposite. He does not seem to enjoy doing that, so it made him feel worse in the long run."]
[00:39] <Yanmei> "Oh. So now we have to figure out what helps him vent stress. Kittens maybe…?"
[00:40] <Minaplo> ["He can handle himself. Let us return to the question of the Shadowpeople."]
[00:42] <Yanmei> "Hmph. Fine. To figure out how we can appeal to them we have to talk to them? But Jer-, ah, Alexandre Fontaine had something interesting to say about the situation. He felt that we could appeal to their need to belond someplace? To create a place for them to live peacefully after the war."
[00:45] <Minaplo> ["So their aid and good behaviour in exchange for a land of their own after the war." Said Sarasvati. "Yes, that is a very Alexandre Fontaine suggestion."]
[00:46] <Yanmei> "No it's not! Where are we even going to get the land for that?"
[00:48] <Minaplo> ["How many Shadowpeople do we have in our care?"]
[00:57] <Yanmei> "200,000."
[01:04] <Minaplo> ["In the grand scheme of things, 200,000 people are not difficult to settle, especially when so much of the earth's population is either uninhabited, depopulated or inhospitable." Said Sarasvati. "Consider agriculture: in terms of pure energy consumption, it is much more efficient to grow crops than it is to consume animals. Yet we still graze animals instead of converting grazing land to
[01:04] <Minaplo> produce crops. The reason is that the grazeland cannot produce the crops we want, but it can produce the feed for those animals. Thus we use the animals to make unproductive land productive. The Shadowmen can fill a similar niche- they thrive in hot temperatures and are capable of photosynthesis. If they were resettled in unoccupied desert areas, they could live peacefully there. They
[01:04] <Minaplo> could even maintain solar farms, giving them an economic connection to human society."]
[06:33] <Yanmei> "Is giving them a connection to human society a great idea? The minute there's a conflict between their community and an outside human community there's going to be a mob with pitchforks and tanks marching onto their farms. And there will be an incident, either real or imagined. That's just what happens when senient people interact with each other?"
[06:35] <Minaplo> ["There are two solutions to that problem. The first is that you send the Shadowpeople somewhere without any people at all, with no connections, even if they want it- essentially complete exile."-
[06:36] <Minaplo> ["The second is that you manage those conflicts." Said Sarasvati. "Resettlement is only viable in the case of a full Federation victory. If that should happen, then it will be the mandate of the Federation to resolve conflicts amongst its citizens and members."]
[06:48] * Yanmei groaned quietly under her breath. "If that is something we do, we'll need to sort out the land situation before we do anything else. Africa, for example, is full of blighted land? But I'm sure there are refugees out there who still have ties to those places. We'll need to find and compensate them to stamp out the possibility of descendants trying to claim it years down the road once it becomes habitable again."
[06:50] <Minaplo> ["Agreed."]
[06:57] <Yanmei> "Anything else we're missing? I'm sure there must be."
[06:58] <Minaplo> ["Regarding the case of the Shadowpeople?"]
[07:01] <Yanmei> "Yes. I guess we should remember to them what they think, and to make sure the land we purchase isn't sacred to the locals or some place that puts them in the crossfire between nations or other groups. I bet there's a lot of other stuff to consider that I haven't thought of yet?"
[07:04] <Minaplo> ["We will have time to establish a task force dedicated to this situation- they can research the details."]
[07:06] <Yanmei> "I suppose you're right."
[07:08] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati nodded.-
[07:08] <Minaplo> ["May I move to a different topic?"]
[07:09] <Yanmei> "Certainly?"
[07:14] <Minaplo> ["Let us discuss the tension between ourselves and the Soviet Union."]
[07:17] <Yanmei> "Sure? But it's not like we've actually done much to them. They just resent us."
[07:18] <Minaplo> ["And your decision to enter peace negotiations with Germany exacerbates that tension."]
[07:25] <Yanmei> "God help us if they were to somehow find out about Winter-Lorenz's proposal? 'Dump the Soviets. Hook up with Germany instead'."
[07:30] <Minaplo> ["There is some merit to her proposal." Said Sarasvati.]
[07:31] <Yanmei> "I know. Everyone I've mentioned it to seems very interested in taking her up on it?"
[07:36] <Minaplo> ["That is to be expected. We have prominent Germans in our military command, after all. Furthermore, the Soviets have generated many problems for us, from war crimes to the ongoing controversy generated by the Soviet rule of Ukraine, Belarus, Finland and the Baltic countries. It is an illiberal country with a paranoid, suspicious government and inefficient bureaucracy."-
[07:37] <Minaplo> ["On the other hand, Germany is wealthy, well-organised with a powerful technological base, and is esteemed for its respect for national independence. It was powerful enough to at one point threaten Moscow and Paris at the same time- and so would make a powerful ally, well worth the cost of losing the Soviet Union."-
[07:38] <Minaplo> ["However, there are other reasons to be dubious of our relationship with the Soviet Union that have recently come to my attention, Chancellor."]
[07:38] <Yanmei> "Yeah?"
[07:42] <Minaplo> ["You are aware of course of the uprising in Finland." Said Sarasvati. "It has been raging for some months now, and pro-independence groups control much of the country outside of the major urban centres."]
[07:44] <Yanmei> "Yeah." Yanmei lowered her eyes a bit.
[07:46] <Minaplo> ["It may not have come to your attention, but we received an intelligence tip around the time of the Istanbul Summit. Apparently whilst the Germans had hoped and planned for a Finnish uprising, it was triggered before the Germans had intended, so they were not involved in fermenting it. The weapons were provided by some other organisation, funded through a series of proxies and shell
[07:46] <Minaplo> corporations."]
[07:52] * Yanmei blinked. "I was not aware of that, no. But how does that affect our decision to leave?"
[07:53] <Minaplo> ["Because through connections and information gathering, I have traced the source of the funding- back to Premier Kuzmin himself."]
[07:54] <Yanmei> "W-what the hell?! Why?"
[08:02] <Minaplo> ["I cannot say." Said Sarasvati. "Perhaps it is a political ploy. Perhaps it is conscience on his part. Nonetheless, he is doing it secretly, behind the backs of his own government. Unfortunately for him, the Soviet high command has discovered his deception- or soon will."-
[08:05] <Minaplo> ["The Soviet military has long been at odds with Kuzmin, and they already have plans to remove him so long as they have a good reason. Soon, then, they will have all the excuse they need to launch a coup d'etat, remove him, and install General Mikhail Menshikov as provisional premier."]
[08:07] <Yanmei> "Who probably has a higher chance of betraying us. Damn." Yanmei sank back in her chair and glared at the wall behind Sarasvati.
[08:08] <Minaplo> ["Unfortunately, our troubles do not end there."]
[08:09] <Yanmei> "Go on."
[08:10] <Minaplo> ["Have you heard of the Council of Sekhmet?"]
[08:12] <Yanmei> "Are they like… Russia's version of SEELE?"
[08:12] <Minaplo> ["No." Said Sarasvati. "They are a clandestine faction within Finland's uprising coalition, but the most powerful one."]
[08:16] <Yanmei> "So what do they even want? What's their goal?"
[08:18] <Minaplo> ["That might be harder to explain, but it might make recent events in Finland more explicable. You know of course about the Shadowpeople incursion into Sweden?"]
[08:18] <Yanmei> "How could I forget?"
[08:19] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati nodded. "I have recovered some footage from a Council of Sekhmet service. Shall I play it for you?"]
[08:20] <Yanmei> "Please go ahead?"
[08:22] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati placed a small datarod into the table console. A moment later it produced a 2d hologram projected onto the air.-
[08:30] <Minaplo> [It featured a broad, open hall, primarily made of wood floors and brick walls. There were high, narrow windows and the roof could not quite be seen.-
[08:31] <Minaplo> [The hall was packed with people kneeling, shoulder to shoulder, squished together like sardines. The people looked tired, miserable and underfed; many were dirty and only a few had undamaged clothes. Despite the crowding, they left two areas free- a lane running down the middle of the room, and a raised dais at the far end.-
[08:32] <Minaplo> [Sitting on this dais were two ferocious-looking armoured lions, their tails flicking idly; they eyed the crowd disinterestedly.-
[08:32] <Minaplo> [There was a door on the wall between the lions, and in front of the door- an altar of stone, on which sat a golden box.-
[08:35] <Minaplo> [The crowd, however, was starting to get restless. They didn't become violent with each other, but rather began to shift and squirm and mutter.-
[08:37] <Minaplo> [The mutterings started to pick up strength, however. Then someone shouted-
[22:38] <Minaplo> ["Osiris!"-
[22:39] <Minaplo> [… And suddenly the cry spread throughout the crowd. Within a minute, they were all shouting it, raising their hoarse voices as loudly as possible. The lions bristled slightly, but remained where they were.-
[22:40] <Minaplo> [Just when the roar of 'Osiris!' could get no louder, the door opened- and out came a tall, bulky shape. It wore robes of blue, but the robes did not hide its frame- the frame of Iron Guard power armour.-
[22:41] <Minaplo> [The Iron Guard wore a helmet with a tall crest that reminded Yanmei of pharaonic masks. More than that however, it also carried a golden staff in its right hand.-
[22:41] <Minaplo> [As the Guard emerged, the crowd fell completely silent.-
[22:43] <Minaplo> ["Welcome," said the Guard, his voice clear and honeyed, "To the Council of Sekhmet. You have come here seeking safety, you have come seeking salvation, you have come seeking life- and here you will find it!"-
[22:44] <Minaplo> [The crowd let out an adoring cheer. The Guard raised his free hand, and they fell silent.-
[22:45] <Minaplo> ["But eternal life comes to only the elect, those who are worthy. Those who love the Lady of the Moon and the Sun Mountain and the Starbird. Those who yearn to make a new world, a better world- and those who despise the Federation that took your saviours away."-
[22:46] <Minaplo> [Cries of condemnation, now- Yanmei could hear more than a few calling for her death.-
[22:46] <Minaplo> ["Those of you with the courage to be tested, step forward now!" Shouted the Guard.-
[22:47] <Minaplo> [The first two ranks of the crowd instantly leapt to their feet- many of them slipping, at least three or four falling right back down- and ran toward the Guard.-
[22:48] <Minaplo> [The Guard had turned away now, and had opened the golden box. He withdrew from it two cups, which he held out to the two nearest typicals. "Drink quickly, then pass it to the one next to you."-
[22:48] <Minaplo> [And they did, drinking swiftly- and shortly- before passing it on. Before long, the cups were empty, and a full twenty people had drunk.-
[22:48] <Minaplo> [The Guard took the cups back.-
[22:48] <Minaplo> [Nothing happened.-
[22:49] <Minaplo> [In fact nothing seemed to happen for a good minute.-
[22:49] <Minaplo> [Then quite suddenly, one of the typicals at the front of the group convulsed violently. He clutched at his chest, jerked his head upwards- then collapsed.-
[22:50] <Minaplo> [Then another began to shudder- then another. Before long the air was filled with their cries of pain- then they all stopped.-
[22:54] <Minaplo> [Then one began to shamble to his feet. He looked dazed and unfocused; he stared off into space.-
[22:54] <Minaplo> [The others began to rise as well; before long, all but a few had stood.-
[22:55] <Minaplo> [Of those who remained on the floor, however, Yanmei could see only one- and something very strange was happening: his chest was pulsating.-
[22:56] <Minaplo> [All of a sudden there was a sickening crack, and Yanmei could see that the man's ribs, all of them, had broken; he screamed.-
[22:56] <Minaplo> [A second later his arms bent backwards to the point of breaking, as did his legs.-
[22:57] <Minaplo> [He jerked his head back and forth- Yanmei couldn't quite see his expression. His scream grew harsh and bloody.-
[22:58] <Minaplo> [The Iron Guard moved toward him, the drone-typicals parting automatically. With one swift swing of his hand, an AT blade appeared and severed the broken man's arm off at the shoulder.-
[22:59] <Minaplo> [Blood gushed from the wound, but only for a few seconds before it suddenly stopped.-
[22:59] <Minaplo> [The flesh around the wound now began to bulge and grow, reminding Yanmei of tumorous growths. The bulges spread downwards, as though mimicking an arm, vaguely-
[23:00] <Minaplo> [Then they burst open! The man had grown a new arm.-
[23:00] <Minaplo> [An arm strangely disproportionate to the rest of his body. It was longer, and thicker, bulging with muscular growth.-
[23:00] <Minaplo> [The man's screams stopped. He stared at his new arm-
[23:01] <Minaplo> [Then, one at a time, he tore his other limbs off one by one. As they had before, tumours formed, then burst to form new, more powerful limbs.-
[23:01] <Minaplo> [Finally the man raised his hands and plunged them into his own chest, where he began to systematically rip out parts of his body, including bone and organ.-
[23:01] <Minaplo> [As before, tumours grew- and when they finally burst, the man had changed.-
[23:02] <Minaplo> [He stood up. Where he had been about five and a half feet before, he now stood just over seven feet tall. He looked muscular, powerful-
[23:02] <Minaplo> [The recording stopped.-
[23:03] <Minaplo> ["The Council of Sekhmet are Iron Guard apostles corrupted by the Metatron Virus." Said Sarasvati. "And as you can see, they have adapted the power of the virus in new ways. They are now using it to mutate human beings into Iron Guard."]
[23:06] * Yanmei had watched the recording with mute disgust. Now she shook her head mournfully. "Why do we always have to deal with this? Cults and other weird stuff. Ugh. How the hell do we even combat this outside of storming, well, wherever that is?"
[23:10] <Minaplo> ["That is part of the problem." Said Sarasvati. "The Soviet Union is now on a path that cannot be averted. Once the new government is established, Menshikov's distrust of us will feed into the paranoid government. They will not trust us. In fact, I suspect they will not allow us into Finland at all."-
[23:12] <Minaplo> ["They have almost certainly underestimated the problem they are facing. They think they can handle the rebellion by themselves. They will try, and they will fail." Said Sarasvati. "The only ones with the power to end this before it turns into a massive disaster is the Federation and the United Nations. Unfortunately, once Menshikov is in power, the only options we have are to invade Finland without permission- which will absolutely ensure the end of our alliance with the USSR."-
[23:13] <Minaplo> ["If we respect the alliance, however, then I estimate that the Council of Sekhmet will have grown between ten thousand and a hundred thousand corrupted Iron Guard by December, depending on their ability to refine the process and an infection growth vector scale."]
[23:24] <Yanmei> "Either way we lose the Soviets as allies. The course of action with the least amount of loss of civilian life would be marching in now, nevermind about waiting for the change in leadership. We could convince Kuzmin while he's still in power and go in without picking a fight with the Soviets."
[23:35] <Minaplo> ["Haste is preferable, but do not hold any illusion- once we go in, the military will see it as Kuzmin selling out, and will depose him."-
[23:35] <Minaplo> ["More pressingly, there is evidence that Menshikov has set up surveillance around our civilian camps."]
[23:37] <Yanmei> "I knew it." Yanmei grit her teeth. "We need to pull them out of there immediately before everything goes to hell. We could settle them in the States instead."
[23:40] <Minaplo> ["Agreed. Unfortunately, Menshikov is not an idiot. He is likely to have plans in place that will trigger if he realises we're pulling people out. He might have bombs, or dirac jammers, or all kinds of things. He cannot stop us from doing whatever we want, but he can ensure he kills some of our people doing so."]
[23:41] * Suzune is now known as Aline
[23:47] <Yanmei> "Fantastic. So our options are to get backing from someone respected outside of this conflict, or to screw with his surveillance."
[23:47] <Minaplo> ["I have an idea."]
[23:48] <Yanmei> "Yes?"
[23:48] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati took out a datapad and handed it to Yanmei.]
[23:49] * Yanmei stared. "Who even came up with this?"
[23:49] <Minaplo> ["I did."]
[23:52] <Yanmei> "I don't know what to say? No one will suspect it, that's for damned sure." She stared down at the datapad for a minute longer and then sighed. "I'll need to talk to a lot of people before approving it, but I want to explore this."
[23:56] <Minaplo> ["I believe it, so to speak, kills two birds with one stone." Said Sarasvati with a smile.-
[23:56] <Minaplo> ["Does all of this mean then that you will intend to accept peace and an alliance with Germany?"]
Session Time: Sun Sep 11 00:00:00 2016
[00:00] <Yanmei> "Yes. I would also like to retain a peaceful relationship with the Soviets, but if that's not possible…"
[00:01] <Minaplo> ["I recommend you ask the command staff to begin preparing plans for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Even if somehow we do not need them, having them on hand will help."]
[00:08] <Yanmei> "Yes, I agree. We'll have to keep it all hushed up, of course."
[00:09] <Minaplo> [She nodded. "Of course."]
[00:18] <Yanmei> "Now, the final thing to talk about would be the Eternity Drive? How much has your father told you about the new developments?"
[00:22] <Minaplo> ["Everything."]
[00:24] <Yanmei> "Then you know the plan that de Orleans posed to us."
[00:25] <Minaplo> ["Yes."]
[00:25] <Yanmei> "What do you think?"
[00:36] <Minaplo> ["In what way?"]
[00:38] <Yanmei> "Do you think we should follow his plan and kill the known Pillars in order to get what we want?"
[00:40] <Minaplo> ["… I think it is a sound plan from a strategic perspective." Said Sarasvati.-
[00:40] <Minaplo> ["I would have no compunctions against destroying the Deva, or killing de Orleans- he is after all willing. But Athena Caine is another matter. She is an innocent."]
[00:43] <Yanmei> "Yeah. That's bothering me too? Also… I'm not keen on killing de Orleans, willingness or not."
[00:44] <Minaplo> ["He's your friend, that's to be expected."]
[00:47] <Yanmei> "He is, yeah. Plus we just got him back after thinking he'd been killed? Doing that just isn't right."
[00:52] <Minaplo> ["Unfortunately, the Eternity Drive must be destroyed, or at least destabilised in the short term." Said Sarasvati. "It might not seem right, but if he is willing to die for the cause, then that is an opportunity we cannot simply ignore."]
[00:53] <Yanmei> "If we captured and killed more Devas, then maybe we could."
[00:56] <Minaplo> ["You were fortunate enough to capture one." Said Sarasvati. "Now that we have de Orleans, Mary Caine will know that we know of her weakness. If the other Devas are threatened with capture, she will do whatever she can to retrieve them, even if it means breaking treatires. Are you willing to fight through six, seven, eight or nine Mass Production Evangelions? Are your subordinates?"]
[00:58] <Yanmei> "Probably not," Yanmei grumbled.
[01:02] <Minaplo> ["More to the point, have you considered that the human targets we have to kill will be as difficult to kill morally as de Orleans or Athena? To be a candidate means having a good deal of exposure to LCL. What if Mary Caine turned Ayanami Rei into a pillar? What if she turned you into a pillar during your captivity? What about Isaiah?"]
[01:10] <Yanmei> "She probably did this on purpose just to infuriate us? Making us actually kill people we know… She's the damn worst!"
[01:15] <Minaplo> ["She knows her enemy. That's the power of the Eternity Drive."]
[01:20] <Yanmei> "We should look for alternatives just to deny her the satisfaction."
[01:20] <Minaplo> ["But that gives her time." Said Sarasvati. "Either way, she still wins something."]
[01:22] <Yanmei> "I wish we could just kill von Brandt. That would upset her and we'd gain something from it. Assuming he's a Pillar."
[01:29] <Minaplo> ["She tends to keep him close. We would have to kill some other Pillars first."]
[01:41] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei folded her arms, still frowning. "I guess that's it, then."
[01:41] <Minaplo> ["I am sorry." Said Sarasvati gently; she held a hand out to Yanmei. "I know this must be difficult."]
[01:47] <Yanmei> "It's fine," she muttered. She accepted the hand, though, reaching out and squeezing it slightly.
[01:49] <Minaplo> ["… I think it is good that de Orleans has someone who cares about him like this." Said Sarasvati quietly. "To me it seems as though he is willing to die because he does not think anyone cares."]
[01:52] <Yanmei> "He's puzzling. He has all that wealth and charisma and warmth, and he still didn't create deep connections with people?"
[01:56] <Minaplo> ["I think his position in SEELE ensured that more than any other factor." Said Sarasvati. "But he is very lonely. I wonder how much instrumentality was a solution, and how much was a desire to connect with other people…"]
[01:59] <Yanmei> "You've noticed that too, huh? Have you spoken to him much since he came onboard?"
[02:06] <Minaplo> ["Not at all." Said Sarasvati. "… But I wonder about the people of SEELE often."]
[02:12] * Yanmei bristled slightly, remembering the other members of SEELE. "The rest of them are pretty much jerks."
[02:13] <Minaplo> ["People say that about my father, too. But I love him very much." Said Sarasvati quietly.]
[02:16] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei glanced away awkwardly. "Sorry."
[02:21] <Minaplo> ["It is alright." Said Sarasvati with a smile. "Might I tell you of my observations?"]
[02:21] <Yanmei> "Sure."
[13:33] <Minaplo> ["Nigel Shardlake has a strict routine to which he unbendingly applies. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, he performs rigorous workouts in the gymnasium; on every other day he performs a lighter regimen. Between his workout and his dinner- which he eats no later than 7 PM-, he works. At current, his focus is on studying various topics. He pays close attention to the politics of many countries. He keeps up to date with twenty-two scientific journals ranging from physics to chemistry to psychology."-
[13:35] <Minaplo> ["After dinner, Shardlake will roam the ship. He often spends his time in Main Engineering, where he usually asks questions of the staff on duty. Occasionally, he will spend between one to two hours working alongside them, doing whatever needs doing."-
[13:37] <Minaplo> ["He often spends time with Romanov. They seem to enjoy each other's company, but most of their discussion is about work. Occasionally, Shardlake discusses his children. He often worries about them."]
[13:46] * Yanmei was silent, confused. Where could she be going with this?
[13:52] <Minaplo> ["Vladimir Romanov has a more varied schedule. He often keeps to himself, but in ways that allow him to watch others. He eats little and sometimes skips meals. Despite this, if approached by someone, he is almost always willing to talk, and will do so for as long as they like. He rarely approaches others. I did once see him approach Princess Alexandrina, and the two had a conversation that lasted for an hour and twelve minutes before Alexandrina left."-
[14:02] <Minaplo> ["Romanov spends much time researching, often people. He often studies people of power around or just after the time of Impact, especially people with ties to SEELE. Most recently he has started researching SEELE affiliates who were in operation in Russia around the time of Impact. He seems to have taken an interest in the orphanage processes at play there."-
[14:08] <Minaplo> ["Often, he will watch the Evangelions in their cages. He just stares at them. There is a spot in the hangar where he can see them, but it is very difficult to be seen- he will sit there and watch. Sometimes he falls asleep. When he does, he sometimes talks fearfully."]
[14:10] <Yanmei> "What are you trying to say? You're… making them sound like helpful people with deep fears and troubles of their own."
[14:14] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati paused for a moment, but only for a moment.-
[14:16] <Minaplo> ["Yutada Ikari is a very emotional man. He spends much time with his wife, and the two dote on each other even in public. He also enjoys being around Yui Ikari, and he also goes out of his way to spend time with the Ayanamis whenever possible. Both he and Chisato Sanada have shown an interest in me- they invited me to dinner once I was fully ready for duty. I accepted."-
[14:19] <Minaplo> ["Although he tries to maintain good cheer, Ikari sometimes becomes highly frustrated with the state of his body, how it limits his mobility and burdens others. Sometimes he is in pain, and it interferes with his sleep, making him irritable and snappish. He hates asking for help with this situation, and if he does, he makes sure to pay anyone back as best he can."-
[14:22] <Minaplo> ["Ever since he has learned of the role he played in creating the Eternity Drive, he has been prone to sharp mood swings. At times he becomes severely depressed and will talk to no one. He has told Yui Ikari that her mother- his first wife- must necessarily be one of the souls he inadvertently caught, and so he blames himself deeply for that."-
[14:22] <Minaplo> ["Yesterday, he went out onto the deck, stared at Ramiel, and then started to cry when he thought no one was watching."]
[14:22] <Yanmei> "…"
[14:26] <Minaplo> ["Can you recite the common reasons people hate the members of SEELE?" Said Sarasvati.]
[14:34] <Yanmei> "Because they're held responsible for Second Impact and were part of a conspiracy to cause Third Impact plus Instrumentality. Also there's this general suspicion. They could easily be plotting against us? Maybe they're using us. They're sneaky like that."
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["Yes, that's all true." Said Sarasvati. "But if you had to give me one reason for why you hate them?"]
[14:39] * Yanmei looked slightly uncomfortable. That sounded weirdly similar to something a certain psychologist would say. -
[14:40] <Yanmei> "I don't hate them. They give me ample reasons to dislike them, though? The biggest reason is that I don't trust them."
[14:42] <Minaplo> ["Because they deceived you before?"]
[14:47] <Yanmei> "They deceived everybody. But more than that, just think about their past goals? Ikari aside, don't they all still want Instrumentality? Couldn't they manipulate any one of us into triggering it somehow? They might still be thinking about a way to win this, even with their diminished power."
[14:47] <Minaplo> ["Why do they want Instrumentality?"]
[14:49] <Yanmei> "Because of their loneliness. Allegedly."
[14:50] <Minaplo> ["Is that the only reason?"]
[14:55] <Yanmei> "No. I'm sure they also wanted ultimate control over humanity as well."
[14:57] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati nodded. "What else? How did all of this begin?"]
[15:03] <Yanmei> "I mean, it basically began with Old Man Caine and his crazy scrolls, and that prophecy of doom? Weren't they trying to route a disaster?"
[15:27] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati nodded.-
[15:28] <Minaplo> ["I make no excuses for the things SEELE have done. But it is worth remembering that they have been bearing the responsibility of trying to save the human race for sixty years. As you have learned regarding what it might take to destroy the Drive, such a responsibility demands sacrifices."]
[15:48] <Yanmei> "Mmph." Yanmei folded her arms again and glanced away grumpily, but she didn't argue. "I will try to remember that? I don't think I've been uncivil to them so far."
[15:50] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati smiled; she stood up, walked over and wrapped Yanmei in a warm, tight hug.-
[15:50] <Minaplo> ["I trust you, Yanmei. You are important to me, and whatever you do, I will support you."]
[15:55] <Yanmei> That seemed to take her off guard! After a moment, she reciprocated, patting her on the back. "Thank you. I appreciate it. I… It's good to have you back."
[15:56] <Minaplo> ["Thank you very much."]

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