Cherry Blossom Procession 4 2 42

[14:32] <Hopeplo> [Have you ever been lost in a city?-
[14:32] <Hopeplo> [A city where all the alleyways look alike and there aren't any landmarks around for you to find your way?-
[14:33] <Hopeplo> [Because the flying battleship Dorian Lachapelle was very much like a city. A narrow, confusing city with few landmarks and many, many corridors and rooms that looked identical. There were signs, of course, but they themselves could be confusing to those who didn't know any better…-
[14:36] <Hopeplo> [Caitlin Guillory felt a flutter of panic in her chest. The corridors around her were all alike, the rooms nearby didn't seem to be marked… She'd been hoping to go to the observatory, but somewhere she'd turned herself around.-
[14:38] <Hopeplo> ["Hello?" She shouted, hoping for someone to hear…-
[14:39] <Hopeplo> ["H-Hello? Can anyone help me? Hello? I'm lost…"-
[14:39] <Hopeplo> [No response.-
[14:40] <Hopeplo> [Caitlin turned down a random corridor and ran. "Hello?! Hello! Help! Help-"-
[14:40] <Hopeplo> ["What's all the noise about?"-
[14:41] <Hopeplo> [Caitlin startled, whipping about on her left foot.-
[14:42] <Hopeplo> [Standing in the doorway of a nearby room was a rather tall girl with black hair. She wore a simple white blouse and a long black skirt.-
[14:42] <Hopeplo> [Caitlin stared at her- then let out a long breath. "H-Hi. Sorry. I'm lost."-
[14:42] <Hopeplo> [The girl sighed. "Where were you going?"-
[14:43] <Hopeplo> [Caitlin frowned- now that she thought about it, she was sure the girl had been pointed out to her sometime or the other… "I was going to the observatory. Uh, is your name Henriette?"-
[14:44] <Hopeplo> ["Why indeed it is." Said Henriette. She approached Caitlin, shaking her head. "You're incredibly lost. These are the warehouses where they store all the gaudy art."-
[14:45] <Hopeplo> ["O-Oh." Said Caitlin.-
[14:45] <Hopeplo> ["Come on, I'll lead you back to the promenade." Said Henriette graciously, tossing her fine head of hair.-
[14:45] <Hopeplo> […-
[14:46] <Hopeplo> ["But I tried using the left-hand rule, but that just made me even more lost somehow." Protested Caitlin as they emerged onto the promenade.-
[14:46] <Hopeplo> ["Strange. Perhaps someone was playing a practical joke." Said Henriette.-
[14:46] <Hopeplo> ["A practical joke? How?"-
[14:47] <Hopeplo> ["Oh, you know. Teleportation or illusion or somesuch." Said Henriette idly. "Let's find something to eat. Have you been to Restful before?"-
[14:47] <Hopeplo> [Caitlin frowned- she tried to dwell on Henriette's earlier statement, but Henriette's brisk pace left her no other choice but to go with the flow. "Uh, I haven't."-
[14:47] <Hopeplo> ["Pity. Did you bring any money?" Asked Henriette.-
[14:48] <Hopeplo> ["N-No…"-
[14:48] <Hopeplo> ["That's fine. We'll just find a rich mark and trick them into paying for us." Said Henriette as they walked through the front door.-
[14:48] <Hopeplo> [Henriette scanned the room before falling on a specific person. She smirked. "And there we go."-
[14:49] <Hopeplo> [A moment later she sat herself down next to said mark- a certain purple-haired young lady. "Why good evening. If it isn't my third favourite plum-haired person in the world."]
[14:53] * Yanmei paused, her fork halfway to her mouth. In front of her was a lush salad dotted with cherry tomatoes and dried cranberries. Her phone was off to one side as well, text messages displayed for all to see. -
[14:56] <Yanmei> "Henriette," Yanmei said somewhat warily reaching to secure the phone. Then she registered that the future world leader wasn't by herself, and then softened considerably, breaking into a warm smile. "And Guillory's sister! Welcome?"
[14:59] <Hopeplo> ["Hello, Ms. Zhang." Said Caitlin warmly- and a little shyly. "How're you?"]
[15:01] <Yanmei> "Busy, but that's normal. Are you two out having fun tonight?"
[15:02] <Hopeplo> ["In a kind." Said Henriette airily. "Caitlin got lost, but I brought her back to safe harbour~"]
[15:05] <Yanmei> "Hmm? That's awfully kind of you. Did you ask for something in return?"
[15:06] <Hopeplo> [Henriette beamed.-
[15:06] <Hopeplo> ["I was going to the observatory." Said Caitlin. "But I ended up being where… Uh, Ms. Henriette says where they keep a bunch of art?"]
[15:08] <Yanmei> "Oh. Oh." Yanmei cleared her throat. "Yeah, you were way off. You're lucky you ran into her? Although I wonder what she was doing down there and if her father knows about it…"
[15:11] <Hopeplo> ["My father was hoping to give a certain someone a gift." Said Henriette.]
[15:12] <Yanmei> "What? Who? What gift?"
[15:12] <Hopeplo> ["That would be telling." Said Henriette.]
[15:15] <Yanmei> "What's wrong with telling?"
[15:15] <Hopeplo> ["Nothing, of course." Said Henriette. "So long as I'm encouraged properly…"]
[15:15] * Yanmei sighed. "I'll hear you out. What do you want?"
[15:16] <Hopeplo> [Caitlin had watched this exchange with a mix of trepidation and awe.-
[15:16] <Hopeplo> ["Lunch for both of us. And drinks, of course." Said Henriette sweetly.]
[15:19] <Yanmei> "Hmmm. As long as you keep it under a reasonable price. Sometimes I get the feeling you think I'm wealthy or something."
[15:25] <Hopeplo> ["You married into wealth~"]
[15:31] <Yanmei> "Not enough wealth to cover your lunches infinitely! We're still on a budget for as long as this war lasts, just like everyone else."
[15:33] <Hopeplo> ["Of course, of course." Said Henriette idly. "But everything here is reasonably priced, so it's not an issue, is it?"]
[15:35] <Yanmei> "Well… I suppose it's not like Blue's, where you can buy the priciest cuts of steak and wine available."
[15:35] <Hopeplo> [Henriette inclined her head and smiled angelically.]
[15:37] * Yanmei eyed her suspiciously before turning to her other guest. "Miss Caitlin, is this your first time eating here?"
[15:38] <Hopeplo> ["Yeah, it is."]
[15:40] <Yanmei> "They offer a great baked potato dish with lots of toppings. The hot chocolate is also wonderful? It's more of a dessert than a drink."
[15:48] <Hopeplo> ["That sounds really great, thank you." Said Caitlin warmly.-
[15:48] <Hopeplo> ["I'll have the salmon with the italian salad and lemon glaze." Said Henriette lightly.]
[15:53] * Yanmei called a server over and relayed the orders to her, adding in a second mug of hot chocolate for Henriette's sake. -
[15:55] <Yanmei> "So will you guys continue on to the observatory after you're done here?"
[15:56] <Hopeplo> ["Maybe. We'll see how I am for time." Said Caitlin. "I wish I hadn't gotten lost…"]
[15:58] <Yanmei> "It happens to everyone? Even I had an incident or two when we first got this ship."
[15:58] <Hopeplo> ["Did you really?" Said Henriette, her eyes lighting up.]
[16:02] <Yanmei> "Yeah. And things were even creepier back then because there was this hologram system intalled? Imagine wandering around in a dark, confusing series of hangars forever, with the occassional, unhelpful glowing figure appearing in the distance and then disappearing like a ghost…"
[16:04] <Hopeplo> ["That sounds cool!" Said Caitlin, her eyes widening.]
[16:09] <Yanmei> "W-well, I mean, it wasn't terrible. I kept my cool, of course, because that's just the sort of person I am." Yanmei winked. "Still, the holograms didn't help me get any less lost. Marshal Amatore-DeForest had to eventually come find me. Fortunately, there were lots of cameras in that area of the ship too."
[16:10] <Hopeplo> ["How adorable. I've never become lost even once!" Said Henriette.]
[16:14] <Yanmei> "I'm sure? I'm also sure it's not because of the fact that you had plenty of guides and playmates who knew where things were around here when you first boarded."
[16:15] <Hopeplo> ["Or I just made my own map."]
[16:20] <Yanmei> "Tch. That's also cheating."
[16:20] <Hopeplo> ["It's not cheating. Weren't you ever taught basic survival as a child?"]
[16:25] <Yanmei> "As a teenager I was," said Yanmei bitterly. "I'd like to know who taught you, exactly."
[16:25] <Hopeplo> ["My school, obviously?"]
[16:26] * Yanmei frowned.
[16:27] <Hopeplo> ["What?" said Henriette airily.]
[16:29] <Yanmei> "Schools don't usually teach that?"
[16:33] <Hopeplo> ["Yours didn't, maybe." Said Henriette. "Lots of schools in France teach survival skills in the first five years. The same way schools in Japan are required to give all of their middle school students fifty hours of combat training a year, increasing to a hundred when they become high school students."-
[16:33] <Hopeplo> ["You must've gone to a pretty backward school~"]
[16:36] <Yanmei> "My schools were all great! Plenty of cute teachers all the way up until I had to come to France~ And of course, there was all that boring rigorous mental stuff too."
[16:39] <Hopeplo> [Henriette made a face.-
[16:39] <Hopeplo> ["I liked school, usually." said Caitlin. "… But mine never taught me survival."]
[16:43] <Yanmei> "Are you both still keeping up with your studies now? I admit, it's not quite like a regular school, but I think our ship has some okay teachers and tutors."
[16:44] <Hopeplo> ["Oh, yes." Said Caitlin brightly. "I go a lot. It's a lot of fun… I also have Hemingway." Said Caitlin, raising her arm to show off her arm-mounted computer.]
[14:28] * Yanmei studied it carefully. "Let me guess. You've been paying visits to Technical?"
[14:30] <Hopeplo> ["Sometimes." Said Caitlin. "There's a lot of friendly people down in Technical. I don't go there as often as Suzie does, though…"-
[14:31] <Hopeplo> ["You know, now that I think about it, why didn't you just ask Hemingway to show you where to go?" Asked Henriette.-
[14:31] <Hopeplo> ["… Oh." Said Caitlin with a frown.]
[14:32] * Yanmei chuckled. "Hey, no harm done, right? If she had, you would have missed your opportunity to kidnap her, and then we wouldn't be eating lunch together."
[14:34] <Hopeplo> ["That's true, but it's something to keep in mind." Said Henriette.-
[14:35] <Hopeplo> ["Wouldn't want to be taken by the Iron Guard Snatcher, after all…" She added idly.]
[14:36] * Yanmei scoffed. "What's that? Is the great Henriette being taken in by urban legends~?"
[14:37] <Hopeplo> [But Caitlin was watching, her brow furrowed.-
[14:38] <Hopeplo> ["When Aline Blanc stole this ship, it was empty." Said Henriette. "… Or so everyone thought. But in reality, there was one thing aboard at the time- a murderous Iron Guard who stalks the lowest, most twisted decks. They say it's quieter and stealthier than your average Guard, that it can move in a flash from shadow to shadow…"]
[14:42] <Yanmei> "Like I said, an urban legend?" Yanmei waved her hand dismissively. "If this mystery Guard was around as long as that, we would have picked him up on camera or during one of the scans of the ship."
[14:43] <Hopeplo> ["Oh, the scans try. But for some reason, they see him… Then just delete themselves. It's like he's in the very cameras…"]
[14:44] <Yanmei> "Don't listen to her, Caitlin. She's just trying to make us nervous?"
[14:47] <Hopeplo> ["They even say it can creep into other machines. Like mobile phones."]
[14:47] <Yanmei> "Oh yeah? What does this silly Guard of yours even look like?"
[14:50] <Hopeplo> ["Well it's tall." Said Henriette. "And it's got long, powerful arms, hulking legs and a small head… Oh, and it's covered in armour."]
[14:51] <Yanmei> "Very distinct from the hundreds of other Iron Guard we have with us."
[14:51] <Hopeplo> ["Exactly, so how would you know…?"]
[14:53] <Yanmei> "Because it's silly, that's why. What are your sources? I bet one of them was James Riel. This seems like the sort of rumor he'd start."
[14:53] <Hopeplo> ["Of course not. My first source is Minerva Linden."-
[14:53] <Hopeplo> ["The American President told you a dumb ghost story?" Muttered Caitlin.]
[14:56] <Yanmei> "It's unusual. She's normally pretty dignified…"
[14:56] <Hopeplo> [Henriette merely laughed.]
[14:57] <Yanmei> "What's so funny, hm?" Yanmei gave her a nudge.
[14:58] <Hopeplo> ["Sorry, I can't tell you. It's for special friends of the President only~"]
[15:00] <Yanmei> "Is this some sort of rebellion thing? You know how much she and your dad end up bickering with each other."
[15:01] <Hopeplo> ["Don't be ridiculous." Said Henriette loftily. "My father and Linden have professional disagreements, but they don't mean each other any ill will. Besides, I'm allowed to make friends with whomever I like."]
[15:05] <Yanmei> "Even Iron Guard ghosts? Is that why you were looking around near the art storage rooms~? That's adorable."
[15:06] <Hopeplo> [Henriette sighed. "Why is the idea of an Iron Guard ghost so unbelievable?"]
[15:06] <Yanmei> "Because ghosts don't exist," said Yanmei plainly.
[15:07] <Hopeplo> ["Oh, don't they?"]
[15:07] <Yanmei> "You have evidence to the contrary?"
[15:08] <Hopeplo> ["Lots of seemingly impossible things have happened recently." Said Henriette. "Look at the Evangelions. Or you becoming Chancellor. That suggests there could be ghosts!"-
[15:08] <Hopeplo> ["Besides, it's not actually a ghost, it's just an Iron Guard that was nearly completely destroyed- and grew back wrong." Said Henriette, her down dark and sinister.]
[15:11] <Yanmei> "My chancellorhood is not a supernatural phenomenon!" Yanmei folded her arms and huffed.
[15:13] <Hopeplo> ["Either way, they'll be telling horror stories about it for decades." Said Henriette.]
[15:14] <Yanmei> "Alright, you. Suppose you'd actually found this crazy Guard down there. Did you have a plan about what to do then, when you're face-to-face?"
[15:14] <Hopeplo> ["Befriend it, of course." Said Henriette.]
[15:16] <Yanmei> "Or get chopped to bits."
[15:18] <Hopeplo> ["No, you see, there's another part of this story that I haven't told you about." Said Henriette.]
[15:18] <Yanmei> "Oh really?"
[15:20] <Hopeplo> ["Yes, really." Said Henriette, tossing her hair. "Apparently, this Iron Guard will hunt and kill anyone… Except for one type of person."]
[15:22] <Yanmei> "Yeah?"
[15:27] <Hopeplo> ["Pretty young ladies with black hair and blue eyes."]
[15:28] * Yanmei rolled her eyes. "More like silly little girls with equally silly faces."
[15:30] <Hopeplo> ["You're just bitter, considering you're neither black haired, blue eyed, pretty, or a lady."]
[15:32] <Yanmei> "What a thing to say to someone who's paying for your lunch out of the kindness of her heart? Maybe I'll cancel your order…"
[15:32] <Hopeplo> ["You called me a silly little girl." Said Henriette. "You're hardly the epitome of good taste."]
[15:44] <Yanmei> "Oh please. Anyone would call you silly. It's probably your middle name. Henriette "Sillypants" Mazarin."
[15:46] <Hopeplo> [Caitlin giggled.-
[15:46] <Hopeplo> [Henriette shot Yanmei and Caitlin both a dark look. "Sillypants? Is that the best you can do?"]
[15:55] <Yanmei> "Not at all~ Do you want me to go harder on you~?"
[15:56] <Hopeplo> ["Do your worst."]
[16:01] <Yanmei> "Not only are you a sillypants, but you're an ultra sillypants. Please tone it down when you're watching Lizzie for me next week. We wouldn't want your silliness to rub off on her?"
[16:02] <Hopeplo> [Henriette laughed.]
[16:06] <Yanmei> "And what's funny this time?"
[16:08] <Hopeplo> ["When I said 'do your worst', I meant 'hurt me', not 'throw your worst insults at me'."]
[16:10] <Yanmei> "Tch. And you can do better?"
[16:11] <Hopeplo> ["This whole conversation has been an example of me doing better so far." Said Henriette idly.]
[16:11] <Yanmei> "Caitlin. As our unofficial judge, how much do you agree with that?"
[16:12] <Hopeplo> ["U-Um." Caitlin looked around nervously.-
[16:12] <Hopeplo> ["H-Hey, isn't it funny?" She said hurriedly. "The Ayanami that runs this restaurant has hair like me, kinda! Haha…?"]
[16:18] <Yanmei> "Hah." Yanmei echoed smugly. "It's fine if you don't want to say it out loud? In our hearts we already know the answer…"
[16:21] <Hopeplo> ["Yes, you don't need to say it out loud, dear Caitlin~" Said Henriette. "Yanmei would prefer that because it'd mean you didn't make her loss public."]
[16:22] <Yanmei> "She's clearly sparing your feelings, Sillypants."
[16:24] <Hopeplo> ["Perhaps we should ask a more confident mediator." Said Henriette.]
[16:25] * Yanmei immediately began peering around for such a mediator. Who was even nearby?
[16:28] <Hopeplo> [There was Roku, of course. And in one corner was Maya, eating a roll of sushi whilst flicking through a book. Bruce Savage sat by himself at a table in the middle of the room, tucking into a fish.]
[16:32] * Yanmei eyed her prey with narrowed eyes before standing up. "Oh Savage~~~" she called. "Come here for a minute, okay~~~?"
[16:34] <Hopeplo> [Bruce startled, and eyed her with deep misgiving as he rose and walked over. "W-What is it, ma'am?"]
[16:37] <Yanmei> "Settle a bet for us? Between Henriette and myself, which one do you think is generally more cutting and witty and which one is sillier?"
[16:39] <Hopeplo> ["… Aren't you both kinda silly?"]
[16:41] <Yanmei> "What?!" Yanmei glowered at him.
[16:41] <Hopeplo> ["How dare you." Said Henriette coldly.-
[16:42] <Hopeplo> ["I- uh." Bruce suddenly reddened. "I thought- this was a joke…?"]
[16:47] <Yanmei> "Unbelievable," Yanmei folded her arms. "You're dismissed. Forever."
[16:48] <Hopeplo> [Bruce took a step back in horror. "What?!"-
[16:48] <Hopeplo> ["Absolutely dismissed." Said Henriette icily; she too folded her arms. "What a hapless no-body no-friends you are."]
[16:52] <Yanmei> "Indeed! We'll never ask you to judge another bet for us! Ever!"
[16:53] <Hopeplo> ["Y-You mean it?" Said Bruce, suddenly sounding relieved.]
[16:55] * Yanmei narrowed her eyes further, seething. "Please go back to your table."
[17:00] <Hopeplo> [Bruce flashed back to his table in unseemly haste.]
[17:01] <Yanmei> "Idiot," Yanmei muttered when he was gone. "Jeanne Simon will hear of this!"
[17:03] <Hopeplo> ["What an absolute baboon." Said Henriette darkly.-
[17:03] <Hopeplo> [But Caitlin was giggling breathlessly, both hands clapped over her mouth.]
[17:08] * Yanmei sullenly settled back into her chair. "We'll call it a draw this time."
13:59] <Hopeplo> ["A draw is good," said Roku, now appearing at the table with their food. "Hi, Yanmei."]
[14:00] <Yanmei> "Hi Roku~ How's the business going?"
[14:02] <Hopeplo> ["It's going well, thanks." Said Roku brightly. "Restful remains restful, even if a few people- like yourself- risk making it a rowdy locale."]
[14:07] <Yanmei> "Hm. I think that means she wants you to keep it down a bit, Henriette."
[14:08] <Hopeplo> ["I think you both need to be a little less combative in public." Said Roku sweetly, resting her arm on Yanmei's shoulder. "Sets a bad example, no matter how adorable the two of you are, hm?"]
[14:11] * Yanmei turned slightly pink, glancing Caitlin's way for a brief moment. "Fine. We'll both tone it down?"
[14:13] <Hopeplo> ["That'd be good. I'd hate for this to become a habit, honey." Said Roku fondly. "After the wonderful scene your Prime Minister showed us all the other day…"]
[14:15] <Yanmei> "Wait, what scene?"
[14:18] <Hopeplo> ["Oh, you didn't hear?" Said Roku, who at some point had taken a seat. "Oh yes, he was sitting in here, and then Go came in, and the two began bickering~" A delighted trill entered Roku's voice. "Apparently the two are having baths together, now? And Go's rather insistent on them?"-
[14:18] <Hopeplo> [Henriette's eyebrows rose, whilst Caitlin flushed slightly.-
[14:19] <Hopeplo> ["Why didn't she tell me she'd snagged the PM? I mean, he's a bit young, but I guess I'm hardly one to talk on that point, am I?" Said Roku.]
[14:20] <Yanmei> "He's actually quite a bit older than her. 28 or 29 I think. He's just scrawny?"
[14:20] <Hopeplo> ["Oh. Whoops."]
[14:22] <Yanmei> "But still…" Yanmei smirked, clearly pleased. "I guess people are finally starting to take notice of them~ Now there's no way they can deny their hidden feelings."
[14:25] <Hopeplo> ["God, they're trying to hide it, that's right. Rustami made a big old scene about not being an Ayanami lover- that's what Maya called him…" Roku sighed. "Honestly, they're almost as bad as you at it."]
[14:33] <Yanmei> "I can't imagine what you're talking about," said Yanmei primly, and then glanced over at where Maya had been eating, wondering if her presence there was a coincidence. "Does Ibuki just hang around here all day waiting for interesting things to happen?"
[14:34] <Hopeplo> [Maya perked up at that, as though she'd heard them talking about her… Somehow. Now she eyed them openly.-
[14:34] <Hopeplo> ["No, she just likes the food." Said Roku brightly. "As you do, of course~?"]
[14:36] <Yanmei> "Of course," Yanmei confirmed easily, and gave Maya an innocent wave.
[14:41] <Hopeplo> ["It's really good, Ms. Roku." Said Caitlin brightly. She dug into her baked potato dish, which was covered in a layer of golden-brown cheese, little bits of bacon and rivulets of sour cream.-
[14:41] <Hopeplo> [Maya, meanwhile, waved back at Yanmei enthusiastically.-
[14:42] <Hopeplo> ["Thanks, honey." Said Roku warmly, rounding toward Caitlin. "Ohh, right, you're Caitlin, huh? Raffy's little sister?"]
[14:44] <Yanmei> "That's right~ She and Henriette are having a day out together. I'll be paying for their meals, by the way."
[14:44] <Hopeplo> ["Oh, good on you." Said Roku.-
[14:44] <Hopeplo> ["You know Raffy too, Ms. Roku?" Asked Caitlin curiously.-
[14:45] <Hopeplo> ["Yeah." Said Roku brightly. "Well. Pretty much everyone knows him, but I guess he makes a special effort to look out for us Ayanamis."]
[14:50] <Yanmei> "Your brother's super popular? Even if he is kinda grumpy."
[14:54] <Hopeplo> ["Super popular? Raffy?"]
[14:58] <Yanmei> "Yup! He's a crazy shot with a gun and a skilled pilot and before this war with the UN started he was pretty popular with some of the girls working with him? Somehow, though, he ended up in a relationship with Katsuragi, dashing many many dreams."
[15:00] <Hopeplo> ["Popular with the girls, huh?" Said Caitlin, her eyes widening. "How many? Who? Tell me!"]
[15:02] <Yanmei> "Countless girls," said Yanmei seriously. "Too many to comprehend? I believe the President of the United States had a crush on him for a little while…"
[15:02] <Hopeplo> ["What?!"]
[15:05] <Yanmei> "It's true? She would supposedly get all giddy and smiley when he was around, and he would get uncomfortable about it because he's a hopeless professional."
[15:12] <Hopeplo> ["Or because he was attracted to her in return." Said Henriette smugly.]
[15:14] <Yanmei> "Maybe!" said Yanmei with an innocent smile. "Maybe you should ask him about that, Miss Caitlin."
[15:17] <Hopeplo> ["Maybe I will." Said Caitlin. "I hear she's brilliantly smart, and very pretty too…"]
[15:21] <Yanmei> "She does okay. You know… you could ask him to introduce you!"
[15:23] <Hopeplo> ["R-Really?!"]
[15:25] <Yanmei> "Why not? They're friends nowadays. It wouldn't be too hard?"
[15:25] <Hopeplo> ["W-Wow." Said Caitlin, her eyes saucer-wide.-
[15:26] <Hopeplo> ["It's hardly that impressive." Said Henriette. "If you think about it, you're getting all giddy about meeting the president of a second-rate power whilst having lunch with the most powerful person on Earth…"-
[15:26] <Hopeplo> ["Shhh, it's different." Said Caitlin firmly.]
[15:28] * Yanmei preened. "Well, I don't know about the most powerful, but…~"
[15:28] <Hopeplo> ["I suppose there's Mary Caine…" Said Henriette.]
[15:29] <Yanmei> "More like Mary Lame." Yanmei tossed her hair.
[15:30] <Hopeplo> ["Wow, that was terrible." Said Roku.]
[15:31] <Yanmei> "N-no it- I mean, I think I heard Blue say that once. That must be where it came from. Yeah."
[15:31] <Hopeplo> ["Then that means you're repeating Blue's bad insults, which is even sadder."]
[15:35] * Yanmei grumbled, turning her attention hastily back to her salad. "Could I get a glass of wine to go with this, please?"
[15:37] <Hopeplo> ["Of course." Said Roku; she rose. "I'm looking forward to being your friend, Caitlin." She said warmly. "I bet you have a lot of stories we're all dying to hear~"-
[15:37] <Hopeplo> [Caitlin gave Roku a look of guileless cheer.]
[15:46] * Yanmei glanced between them, and then smiled at Caitlin too. "Of course, we're friends now too, right?"
[15:47] <Hopeplo> ["Yes!" Said Caitlin cheerfully as Roku walked away. "Raffy's gonna be so happy when he hears about it."]
[15:52] <Yanmei> "Sure he will! Y'know, speaking of stories, have you run into any other interesting people on the ship?"
[15:56] <Hopeplo> ["Lots of interesting people. You know Rei, right?"
[15:56] <Hopeplo> ]
[15:56] <Yanmei> "Oh yeah, of course? She's pretty kind, isn't she?"
[16:03] <Hopeplo> ["She's lovely." Said Caitlin glowingly. "You should see Raffy when she's around, too…"]
[16:05] <Yanmei> "I don't know the details? But he's kind of like a father figure since Rei's dad passed away."
[16:09] <Hopeplo> ["Yeah." Said Caitlin, a slight frown crossing her face for a moment. "But he gets really happy and cheerful when she's around."]
[16:12] <Yanmei> "Is that bad?" said Yanmei cautiously.
[16:13] <Hopeplo> ["No, why would it?"]
[16:15] <Yanmei> "Hmm, there's no reason. You just seemed kinda thoughtful about it for a minute."
[16:15] <Hopeplo> ["Oh. Well, you said her dad…"]
[16:20] <Yanmei> "Oh, right. Sorry. I misunderstood?"
[16:20] <Hopeplo> [Caitlin nodded. "It's ok."-
[16:21] <Hopeplo> ["… I guess that means Ms. Roku doesn't have a dad anymore either, huh?"]
[16:22] <Yanmei> "That's right, since they're sisters."
[16:24] <Hopeplo> ["Hmm."-
[16:24] <Hopeplo> [At that moment, Roku returned with a glass of red wine for Yanmei. "Enjoy~", she said, before returning to the front desk.-
[16:24] <Hopeplo> ["I hope Ms. Roku's okay." Said Caitlin quietly.]
[16:27] <Yanmei> "It happened quite a while ago? And she's working hard, surrounding herself with positive people and happy customers. I'd say she's coping rather well."
[16:33] <Hopeplo> ["Yeah…" Said Caitlin admiringly. Yanmei would note that she was running a hand through the burgundy-red part of her hair thoughtfully…]
[16:35] <Yanmei> "You know who's also working hard?" said Yanmei quickly. "Our Prime Minister, Rustami. He's been planning a party, you know?"
[16:36] <Hopeplo> ["Huh?" Said Caitlin, looking back at Yanmei. "A party?"]
[16:38] <Yanmei> "Yeah! Food, dancing, mingling, games. I think there's going to be a special section for kids like you guys. You know, you'll probably get to meet my Lizzie there!"
[16:38] <Hopeplo> ["Ooh, your baby girl?" Said Caitlin delightedly.-
[16:39] <Hopeplo> ["We won't be at the party itself." Said Henriette irritably. "We're going to some sort of babysitting dinner elsewhere…"]
[16:41] <Yanmei> "Hey, don't knock it. He's going to make sure you guys have fun too? And yes, my baby girl. She's super talented and friendly? For some reason she also seems pretty attached to certain grumpy people in our present company…"
[16:41] <Hopeplo> ["Your daughter simply has a discerning taste in friends." Said Henriette stiffly.-
[16:42] <Hopeplo> ["That sounds pretty cool." Said Caitlin with a grin. "Is Ms. Roku gonna be there? At the big party?"]
[16:45] <Yanmei> "I, uh… think she might be busy helping with catering. I wonder if President Linden will be there…"
[16:52] <Hopeplo> ["Hmmmm."-
[16:52] <Hopeplo> ["Maybe I should ask Ms. Roku if I can get a job here…"]
[17:00] <Yanmei> "Hey. You're looking for work?" Yanmei frowned a little. "Are Guillory's finances okay?"
[21:31] <Hopeplo> ["Rude." Muttered Henriette.-
[21:31] <Hopeplo> ["I-I think so." Said Caitlin in surprise. "He never complains about being broke or anything…"-
[21:31] <Hopeplo> ["Unlike Yanmei…" Added Henriette.]
[21:32] <Yanmei> "I do not!" Yanmei huffed. "But. Why do you want to work? Wouldn't it be more fun to play and relax and focus on your studies?"
[21:34] <Hopeplo> ["I dunno. I bet Ms. Roku could teach me a lot… And it'd get me out meeting new people too."]
[21:36] <Yanmei> "You could do that at Blue's too. I know for a fact that they're hiring~"
[21:37] <Hopeplo> [Henriette's eyebrows rose.-
[21:37] <Hopeplo> ["Hmmmmm." Caitlin frowned thoughtfully.]
[22:02] * Zack is now known as ZackFood
[22:03] <Yanmei> "Or… they could probably get you a volunteer position in Technical. Or in Medical. Isaiah sometimes works there. You're not limited to working with food or anything."
[22:14] <Hopeplo> ["Yeah, that's true." Said Caitlin. "But it sounds like it'd be more fun…"]
[22:17] <Yanmei> "I see. So Henriette. If you could volunteer anywhere on the ship, where would you do it?"
[22:18] <Hopeplo> ["Medical, of course."]
[22:18] <Yanmei> "You're not squeamish or anything~?"
[22:21] <Hopeplo> ["Of course not." Said Henriette. "Besides, it wouldn't be so bad if I were, if it meant Isaiah comforting me…"]
[22:22] * Yanmei frowned! "He'd be busy with his own duties, of course?"
[22:24] <Hopeplo> ["Of course. And I'd be helping him."]
[22:28] <Yanmei> "Helping his operate on people? And do complex math to measure medicine? And coddle messy little babies?"
[22:32] <Hopeplo> ["Of course. I've already helped him coddle you."]
[22:33] <Yanmei> "You're the baby. Always clinging to him whenever he's around…"
[22:36] <Hopeplo> ["Can you blame me?"]
[22:42] <Yanmei> "It's true that he's awesome~ But you could follow my lead and show a little restraint?"
[22:45] <Hopeplo> ["Too much restraint on your end."]
[22:47] <Yanmei> "Nonsense. You almost make me sound like I'm negligent?"
[22:48] <Hopeplo> [Henriette smirked.]
[22:50] <Yanmei> "Tch." Yanmei glanced elsewhere. Was Caitlin, at least, enjoying her food?
[22:53] <Hopeplo> [She was at that. And of course, the conversation seemed to have shifted away from Roku…]
[22:56] <Yanmei> At long last! Yanmei almost heaved a sigh of relief at that. "I wouldn't mind of Miss Caitlin met him," she said primly. "He's a very sweet guy, and very gentle."
[22:56] <Hopeplo> ["He's your husband, right?" She said.]
[22:57] <Yanmei> "That's right. He's also an Eva pilot and a doctor in training."
[23:04] <Hopeplo> ["He sounds really cool."]
[23:05] <Yanmei> "He is~ Would you care to see some pictures?"
[23:08] <Hopeplo> ["S-Sure."]
[23:12] * Yanmei whipped out her phone again, to show her. There were a series of them… one of a grinning Isaiah in hospital scrubs with a squirmy bundled baby in his arms, one of him in a dressy suit with a sheepish expression on his face as he stared into the camera, one of him giving a little blonde girl a piggyback ride while a red fox scampered about his ankles…
[23:19] <Hopeplo> [Caitlin leaned in to look. "Awwww, that's adorable~ is that your little girl? Is that, um, Lizzie…?"]
[23:23] <Yanmei> "That's right~ Lizzie and her pet fox, Daji. They're inseparable? Oh! Speaking of animals, did you know there's a zoo here on the ship? Henriette, you should show her one of these days after you're finished with the observatory."
[23:24] <Hopeplo> ["Oh, yes, of course…"-
[23:25] <Hopeplo> [And so the three of them settled down to a fine meal- paid all on the chancellor's dime, of course- and an amiable chat- improved occasionally by Yanmei and Henriette bickering like old friends…]

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