Cherry Blossom Procession 4 3 B

[14:47] <Minaplo> [Mary Caine sat at her desk and worked.-
[14:50] <Minaplo> [It was silent, except for the faint tapping of her fingers on various holographic displays and pads, but she wasn't alone. Sitting opposite her was von Brandt, one leg folded over the other, a book balanced on his lap.-
[14:57] <Minaplo> ["Out of curiosity, when was the last time you had a full night's sleep?" Asked von Brandt.-
[14:59] <Minaplo> ["Sometime in July, I think." Said Mary; she didn't stop in her work in order to reply.-
[15:01] <Minaplo> [Von Brandt sighed and looked up from his book. "I thought so. That really isn't very healthy, you know. There's being strong and then there's simply being cavalier with your own mental health…"-
[15:03] <Minaplo> ["Spare me the pedantic lecture, Ephraim." Said Mary with a sigh. "I don't have a choice but to stay awake."-
[15:04] <Minaplo> ["Is that really true, though? I'm sure you would find some way to make it work." Said von Brandt. Suddenly he brightened. "In fact, I'm sure you would if you slept on it for a while."-
[15:04] <Minaplo> [Mary finally paused; she fixed him with a cold look. "What is with you today?"-
[15:05] <Minaplo> ["What do you mean?" Asked von Brandt. "I'm just looking out for your wellbeing, dustmouse. Would you do a marathon without warmups? Well, sleep is like a warmup, but for mental health, you know…"-
[15:07] <Minaplo> ["It's more than that. Earlier you were asking questions about my diet, then my physical regime, and now my sleep patterns. Why am I being subjected to a very slow-burn checkup?" Asked Mary.-
[15:09] <Minaplo> ["You skip meals, you don't sleep, you spend most of the day in… All this." Von Brandt sighed. "I'm just worried about you…"-
[15:09] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[15:10] <Minaplo> [Mary sighed. She rubbed a hand over her face- but then she smiled. "This business is nearly over, one way or another. Then we'll spend some time together, I promise."-
[15:11] <Minaplo> [von Brandt gave her a flat look. "When you phrase it like that, you make me sound like a needy child begging a parent for attention."-
[15:11] <Minaplo> ["It made you happy, didn't it? I felt it, so don't lie."-
[15:12] <Minaplo> [von Brandt gave her a sour look, then turned away slightly before returning back to his book. "I just wonder sometimes what she'd think if she saw you like this."-
[15:15] <Minaplo> [Mary Caine opened her mouth to reply- but instead let out a pained groan. She touched her right temple gingerly.-
[15:19] <Minaplo> ["See? There you go." Said von Brandt brightly. "Now you have a headache. I told you so-"-
[15:20] <Minaplo> [Mary shook her head- but as she went to speak, she suddenly started to cough- until she coughed a gob of blood onto her desk.-
[15:22] <Minaplo> [The smile fell from von Brandt's face; he leapt to his feet. "Mary-?!"-
[15:25] <Minaplo> ["S-Something's wrong." Said Mary; she rose, shaking from the effort. "The Drive-"-
[15:27] <Minaplo> [Then something trembled Mary, and she threw her head back; from her eyes and mouth came a light, bright and unwavering. It shone upon the roof and burned through it, bursting toward the cavernous ceiling of the Synfront.-
[15:27] <Minaplo> [The shockwave of the emission hurled von Brandt and his chair away from her a full eight metres; he tucked into a ball and landed painfully, bouncing slightly before coming to a stop.-
[15:30] <Minaplo> [She was now too bright to look at directly, von Brandt found. "What's happening…?"-
[15:30] <Minaplo> […-
[15:34] <Minaplo> ]
[15:40] * Aline could be found, not that anyone was looking, in a rec room somewhere not quite in the heart of the Prime complex, but near enough that it was where phantoms could act… normally. Her little pod, her little army of cloned girls were involved in sports - they had gotten a beach volleyball court (even if there wasn't sand…) set up, and others were running around the track at the outer reaches, competing for times, for
[15:40] * Aline performance… This was, for her, her 'discretionary phantom training' session of the week, and the girl was doing it with mild cheer, at the moment on the sidelines of the volleyball court acting as referee. "Oh! Good spike, that's just barely in bounds~"
[16:06] <Minaplo> [The Phantom who'd performed the spike- Lana Valiant- landed and threw Aline a firm thumbs-up.-
[16:07] <Minaplo> ["I think you Floated." Accused a Phantom on the other side- one named Carina- even as she ran back to knock the ball toward a front-rower, who threw it back over.-
[16:07] <Minaplo> ["I didn't!" Shouted Lana. "I don't cheat anymore!"]
[16:10] * Aline chuckled loudly. "If it helps, I wasn't looking on that level… But settle it on the court~ I do still need to think of more nuanced rules, but… hm hm…" She mused lightly, willing to at least, somewhat, enjoy this.
[16:16] <Minaplo> ["Oh I'll settle it, alright." Muttered Carina. As the ball flew back to her team, she ran up, leapt into the air, ripples of force manifesting around her fists…-
[16:17] <Minaplo> [… Then for a moment, everything went still. The ball hung in mid-air over the net; the ripples froze; even the Phantoms had stopped moving.-
[16:18] <Minaplo> [Then everything abruptly 'started' once again- heralded by the Synfront suddenly shaking. The ball flew erratically past Carina, who missed her landing and instead bounded into the net.]
[16:22] * Aline was, needless to say, very alarmed by that, and immediately sent out a ping, her AT field racing to try to see what the hell was going on. "W… what? Okay, I'm gonna figure out what that was, hang on!"
[16:34] <Minaplo> [The Phantoms had stopped in alarm as well, and now stared at Aline with expressions of expectation, worry and concern. The ball bounced away and was ignored.-
[16:41] <Minaplo> [As Aline expanded her Field, she'd feel something else- something intangible, a sort of background noise she'd forgotten she used to hear- start to contract. Slowly at first, and then with great force.-
[16:42] <Minaplo> [A second later, her head burned with pain. Her head burned as though a hot knife had been shoved into the back of her eyes. She felt her AT Field start to distort, wrap around uncontrollably, completely beyond her grasp…]
[16:44] * Aline gasped sharply, and then… clutched at her head, starting to sag. "What.. what is… this pressure…?!" She maybe didn't quite appreciate how that came out, but that would be because she was falling to her knees and trying not to scream!
[16:48] <Minaplo> [Dimly she heard the shouts of horror and fear from her Phantoms, maybe felt their footsteps…-
[16:49] <Minaplo> [But it didn't matter. Within seconds, something cold and wet crawled across her skin, it felt like- something bone-chilling cold. It crawled up her body until its slime filled her eyes, the heat within coming up against the cold without.-
[16:49] <Minaplo> […-
[17:01] <Minaplo> [Aline came to within a place she knew, not well, perhaps, but nonetheless knew- the Louvre in Paris.-
[17:01] <Minaplo> [Albeit, it was a Louvre stripped of its artwork, with blank walls and bare pillars where once paintings and sculptures had sat.-
[17:03] <Minaplo> [She was alone.-
[17:05] <Minaplo> [At the same time, it was difficult for Aline to pinpoint how she'd actually arrived here. Her memory- all of it- seemed infuriatingly foggy, as though focusing too hard on remembering would simply disperse what wisps of memory she had…]
[17:06] * Aline had almost tried instantly. That she thought there was some… snarky thing to say about it being the Louvre. But it didn't come to her. About… something happening, but… it was distant. looking around, uncertain, uncertain. Aline eventually cupped around her lips and just, yelled. "Hello?"
[17:20] <Minaplo> [For a second, the Louvre was full-to-bursting with people, so many that they pressed and jostled her as they went past.-
[17:20] <Minaplo> [The hubbub was deafening, yet out of all that, Aline thought that she heard someone speak her name…-
[17:21] <Minaplo> [And then the crowds vanished once again.]
[17:23] * Aline held her head at it - or tried, and for a second she felt like … …stress. Something was familiar about the stress, but she couldn't figure out why. Like something she knew about. Crowds… But she couldn't piece it together, and just… shuddered. "Wh… who said…?"
[17:26] <Minaplo> [The crowds rippled into existence for another moment, but this time someone remained behind.-
[17:28] <Minaplo> [A slender young man with red eyes and grey hair, sitting on a pillar, a knowing smile on his face. "It's been awhile," he said.]
[17:29] * Aline stared at him now… hands held bridged over her waist, arms down. "…K… Kaworu." She said, as if testing it, seeing if it'd fade and scatter. It didn't. "…I g… guess it has." She flushed brightly, but wasn't even sure why.
[17:35] <Minaplo> [He chuckled.-
[17:36] <Minaplo> ["You don't remember much right now, do you?" He said.]
[17:40] * Aline shook her head, sighing. "No. Things bubble up as if on a cue, then… vanish. I remembered your name, at least."
[17:41] <Minaplo> ["That's good."-
[17:42] <Minaplo> ["The circumstances as to why I am here may be a bit confusing." He folded his hands together and leaned forward. "The 'me' you remember is dead. But before I died, I placed a little part of myself within you, with the intent to help keep you safe during your unimaginably unfair obstacles."-
[17:44] <Minaplo> ["Now, this little part of me will act one last time to set things right, and in doing so, burn out forever." His smile widened. "I will make things clear: at some point, someone tampered with your memories."-
[17:45] <Minaplo> ["The work they did was thorough, and they made sure to connect the new memories to your old ones in such a way that it seems logical, even enticing." Kaworu kicked his heels as he mulled over his next words.-
[17:48] <Minaplo> ["I cannot undo the changes, and in truth it is not my place. What I can do is stabilise this turmoil for a little while, allowing you nothing more than a possibility."-
[17:49] <Minaplo> ["You cannot exist in both identities anymore. You must choose one or the other, but even though one is constructed from the outside, you have the choice whether to fully embrace it, to make it as real as it can. Choosing one way or another will open up some opportunities whilst closing others."-
[17:49] <Minaplo> ["Are you ready, Aline?"]
[17:50] * Aline seized a breath in her throat, held it, and then exhaled. "…A choice. …A means to… I see." She looked down for a second, and then stared forwards. Blue eyes to red. "I'm ready."
[17:51] <Minaplo> ["Excellent. I look forward to seeing what you choose. It is entirely up to you… There is no wrong or right option."-
[17:52] <Minaplo> [The crowd appeared again, a little longer this time; when it faded, two more people remained.-
[17:52] <Minaplo> [To Aline's left was a tall man with blonde hair and blue eyes. He wore a tan uniform and had a confidently gentle smile on his face.-
[17:53] <Minaplo> [To her right was a young man of average height, dark haired and blue-eyed. He didn't wear a uniform, only a white button-up shirt and a pair of black trousers. His expression was uncertain…]
[17:55] * Aline evaluated the two of them, thinking. One, older, confident. …Military man of some sort, but not harsh. Not… hm. Then to the other. Average, plain-looking, uneasy. She tried to think of things about him, because he seemed harder to put to words. …Impressions, images, but indistinct, faded. Unrecognizable. "…Ezra… and Shinji. Two lives, then, represented by…?"
[18:05] <Hopeplo> ["By two individuals most associated with those lives." Said Kaworu.-
[18:06] <Hopeplo> ["I don't know if choosing this life is the right option." Said Ezra. "It's a vicious one. One of oppression and fear."-
[18:07] <Hopeplo> ["But you made your own space out of it. You flourished within it, so that's something you should be proud of remembering." Said Ezra. "This life was forced on you by someone who hoped to tie your destiny to their commands, but you decided to subvert them in your own time and in your own way."-
[18:08] <Hopeplo> ["You created a plan, to wait for the right moment before striking, when your enemy was weakest. In this way, a glorious victory would be yours."-
[18:10] <Hopeplo> ["But mostly it was a life of little victories." Said Ezra. "Quiet pride at seeing your Phantoms flourish, happy as was possible in this grim place. Coming with me and Sarah to the falls, showing Joan a way to live besides her own anger and resentment… It was a life full of bleakness, but you were, in your own way, adding colour to it, bit by bit."]
[18:16] * Aline slowly nodded her head. "It sounds… dark. I like being a source of happiness to those people, but… it seems. Dangerous. But yet, I have to at least consider who I leave behind by leaving it." She mused… before turning to Shinji.
[18:20] <Hopeplo> [Shinji nodded slowly. "Right now, you think of us as enemies… But it wasn't always like that. You were part of our family."-
[18:21] <Hopeplo> ["Even then, you were making plans. Plans for all of us, dealing with the fate of our very souls, promising that you'd try to find the best answer for all of us, knowing that it might be impossible…"-
[18:22] <Hopeplo> ["… Your life was difficult here, too. It was full of political schemes and secret societies trying to control everything. For years you fought to break free of that all, and just when you managed it, you were taken from us."-
[18:26] <Hopeplo> ["We… Managed. We grew stronger without you. We followed your plans, though, and in reality we haven't ever managed to fill the void you left…"-
[18:29] <Hopeplo> ["But you were, and still are, one of us. You left behind friends who relied on you, allies who looked up to you- and people who loved you. I was one of them."-
[18:31] <Hopeplo> ["It wasn't always a good time." Said Shinji, shaking his head. "You fought sometimes with people. Yanmei, Sera… A few others. Sometimes things just didn't click. You resented parts of who they were."-
[18:32] <Hopeplo> ["I failed you on many occasions. I'm not a good person, and sometimes when I was in pain, or insecure, I hurt you a lot. In truth, I don't think I deserve to have you back."-
[18:37] <Hopeplo> ["I can't really promise that this life ends happily." Said Shinji. "There is a lot at stake, and a lot of confusion, pain and fear…"-
[18:41] <Hopeplo> ["But you're still our special Aline. The same Aline who used to revel in joy every time she found a new possibility for her powers. The same Aline who took a terrifying enemy and pushed them into the sun. The same Aline who once had a little bit too much wine in front of my parents… The same Aline who stuck by me, faults and all."]
[18:43] * Aline …paused. Paused for a long time, as memories… stayed at arm's length. She couldn't recall them herself, but she could hear them, now. Distant, but. …so much. She knew pretty clearly, just from this… which was fake, which was real. But wasn't she given an opportunity? To… to choose a life, regardless of which one it was. …looks between them. But… -
[18:45] * Aline approached Shinji, and as if just doing that awoke… something in her. Her heart felt like it skipped a beat now, and she… lowered her head. "…I'm sorry Ezra. I shone what little light I could, but I can tell what is true, and what is false. And even then… I can't just embrace someone who took me. From those I loved - not just those I could admire, or who I was given to help and raise, or… any number of things.
[18:45] * Aline And… sure I fought with them, but I'd be in an even worse place if I stayed with the life they thrust on me. …I want to go home, Shinji."
[18:48] <Hopeplo> [Ezra smiled, nodded- and faded away.-
[18:49] <Hopeplo> [Relief spread across Shinji's expression. He let out a long, anxious breath, then gave her a small smile. He held out his hand. "Welcome home, Aline."]
[18:50] * Aline didn't bother with an attempt at a handshake or anything. …She just dashed forward and hugged him.
[18:50] <Hopeplo> ["Oof-"-
[18:50] <Hopeplo> [He reflexively put his arms around her, too. He was faint and fragile, but he was warm, and getting warmer all the time.-
[18:51] <Hopeplo> ["Thank you…"-
[18:52] <Hopeplo> [With that, Shinji shone with a delicate light for a few seconds before dissolving into a firmament. As he did so, the fog within Aline's mind cleared.-
[18:52] <Hopeplo> [She remembered everything. The lies, the manipulations, they fell away, put in their rightful place.-
[18:52] <Hopeplo> [Aline's mind was whole once again.-
[18:54] <Hopeplo> ["This is the second time someone has tried to trap you in a false life." Said Kaworu, laughing. "But it never really seems to stick, does it…?"-
[18:55] <Hopeplo> ["Unfortunately, leaving the lies behind is one thing, but these things are never easy. There's always a fight after, and this is no different. You know what I mean, right?"-
[18:55] <Hopeplo> [As he spoke, the crowd returned- and this time they didn't go away. They jostled Aline, pressing against her- not deliberately, or maliciously, but simply because they too were being pushed.-
[18:57] <Hopeplo> [They appeared so quickly that Aline barely had time to register the change to the Louvre. Paintings reappeared, sculptures broke free from pillars- but instead of the fine art one might expect, the paintings showed memories, the sculptures people.-
[18:57] <Hopeplo> [Yet even as they appeared, the crowd began to push into those as well, and began to erode them…-
[18:57] <Hopeplo> [This, then, was the Eternity Drive- and these were the blind souls within.]
[19:02] * Aline knew then. …The Drive. As it all came back she understood what had happened. Mary had not merely conditioned her, but used the Drive to suppress attempts for her real memories to resurface, or for her to break free, or… anything. "…So either I leave or…" It all goes away again. What could she do now? Fight? Push? …She tried, experimentally, to push at them, to wrestle, and drew out will in doing so. This will
[19:02] * Aline happen. She will escape. "S… Scatter, ephemeral lives!" She barked in mid-push, as if it'd do anything.
[19:05] <Hopeplo> [The people nearest to her did indeed scatter, and were pushed away quite firmly- before long she had a free space of about a metre around her, and it seemed as though the people struggled to come any closer than that.-
[19:06] <Hopeplo> [Yet come closer they did, if only by inches. It seemed as though what space she'd gained was slowly being eroded…-
[19:07] <Hopeplo> ["My time is nearly up." Said Kaworu softly. "So I can give you only this last guide: think. Where did this opportunity come from? Something must have happened to the Drive, correct?"]
[19:09] * Aline indeed thought, even as she took on a warding stance, remembered from what melee training she had. …Her body, now filled with memories, ached for a staff or spear to carry, but it wasn't there and she didn't have the time to experiment with willing one into place. Instead… "So if this is my memory, or a palace of memory… so if they're the souls of the drive… or…" She wracked. "…Regardless. I should find whatever
[19:09] * Aline punched the hole in, then. Find it, and…" -
[19:10] * Aline gained a possibly uncharacteristically mischievous grin. "Gouge it into a rift." And so, she cast her sight to the distance, to see around, through the souls. …To light, to darkness, to something Not Of Here.
[19:12] <Hopeplo> [It wasn't something she saw, though, but something she heard- faintly, over the din- sonorous chanting, calm and controlled amidst this chaos.]
[19:14] * Aline knew the space she was in. Knew what she could do, what did and didn't matter. So… quite casually, Aline walked on top of the crowd. Jumped up. Stood on a head. Stood astride another head. Just strode and walked without a care for shifting bodies underneath, and strained an ear. "Sing the breach, o chorus." What better time to be ham than now?
[19:22] <Hopeplo> [And so she went, the crowds spilling like dominos as she went.-
[19:22] <Hopeplo> [Before long, she came to the source…-
[19:23] <Hopeplo> [It was a statue of an angel, its expression handsome yet blank. It faced away from her, its wings spread- and it was between the wings that the breach resided, a crack in the marble.-
[19:23] <Hopeplo> [Sitting at the foot of the angel was an older man, his dark hair starting to grey. He didn't look as though he belonged to the crowd. He had an old, tired expression, but he was singing as well.-
[19:24] <Hopeplo> [As Aline approached, he looked up, and smiled wearily. "He was right. Hello, Aline Blanc."]
[19:27] * Aline stared. Old man, greying… she couldn't recall, and now knew this was no fault of delusion or trickery - she just didn't know. "…So. He… Someone isn't just breaking into the Drive… but. …Looking for me." Aline folded her arms, staring him down, regarding the angel statue. …Something was… Her instincts screamed. Someone was doing this, and their motive must be known.
[19:31] <Hopeplo> ["You might not know who I am… But I owe you an apology." He stood. "My name is Max Heppenheimer, but I am known more commonly as Pope Pius. I am afraid that I have done ill to you in the past."]
[19:34] * Aline instinctively bowed her head, even if… long ago the fire of religion had left her, or at least, it couldn't survive the kind of world an Eva pilot lived in for her. The man still deserved respect due as what he was. "…Done ill?" Stupid, but instinctually correct-seeming guess: "…Him, right? …Mikhail?"
[19:35] <Hopeplo> ["Yes. I was responsible for looking after him." Said Max. "But I did not do a good enough job, did not look in the right places… And so he became twisted."-
[19:36] <Hopeplo> ["He… Is recovering, but I am afraid that my life is spent. I did not do enough to protect him… And thus harmed you."]
[19:43] * Aline nodded again, integrating it into her bow. "…Spent." …She let that echo, thinking about what it meant. That he was here. …Dead? But he was at the breach. How do you breach the Drive? With what? …Did you need souls? Later. "Farbeit for me to say this of a pope, but I forgive you for what you did, or did in inaction. …As long as lives and souls are healed…" She trailed off. "There must not be much time left, though."
[19:45] <Hopeplo> ["No." He sighed. "A powerful Iron Guard apostle has hijacked the Dorian. He tried to use my daughter- Freya Solheim- to breach into the Drive and steal Lilith's soul. But Freya fled, and now he is using me- someone who once loved Mary and thus knows something of her soul- as well as some others in her place."-
[19:46] <Hopeplo> ["The young man with us has hijacked the ritual, but he cannot sustain it for long. You must widen the breach and escape on your own terms, away from the Guard's grasp and from Mary's… From there, you will be able to meet with the others…"]
[19:51] * Aline began to guess, her thoughts spinning to it. Breaking into the Drive. Looking for her. …For Lilith, that would be the only reason. She was useful, was valuable, but she was not nearly as crucial. Not to them. A short, short sigh. "…I know what I carry he cannot have. He cannot have me either, but he cannot have this. …" She reached into herself with her mind, or thoughts really, drawing inwards. It was like manifesting
[19:51] * Aline an AT power for the first time - you understand that inside the soul is a light, and that it sings. It sings and shines and then… touches will. Will shapes soul, soul's force shapes the world. If there was an edifice… She reached to it with a glance. This was… the apostle? Some tool? If she knew its nature and flaws…
[19:59] <Hopeplo> [The physique, she saw, was that of a Guard- strangely distorted from the human form.-
[19:59] <Hopeplo> [The light around the breach was prismatic, flickering with various colours…-
[20:00] <Hopeplo> [So long as this 'angel' existed, the breach was controlled by it, and could only go in one direction. So how to destroy the angel whilst maintaining the breach long enough for her to escape?]
[20:09] * Aline saw, then. Saw… but also heard. "…Then…" She turned behind her, to the un-place in the distance, to fragments of memory. There, in the distance but watching, she knew the blind souls drifted. "Sing." She said, first in a small voice. Then reached higher, gesticulating with her hands as if a conductor signalling start. "Sing! Sing! Sing the song that opens the way, sing with me, sing the breach and sing the freedom.
[20:09] * Aline I who awakes and has will, I who awakes and has the soul that will one day bring a new kind, and even now contains a piece of your mother. SING FOR ME!" …And she began, herself. Gesturing like a conductor again, not caring how, but going with her flow, her emotions. Sing the breach large before she smashed it, and she knew she would. Eyes narrowing on those features. Seeing the cracks, the flaws. Symbols, unreal,
[20:09] * Aline but… reflective of the truth. She sang the chant, as it grew louder from her, with passion. …She may not have had the best singing voice, but she had the feeling of it. This was now or never, do or die, or even worse than death that death may die. A lilting wave, growing.
[20:12] <Hopeplo> [The crowd stumbled blindly.-
[20:12] <Hopeplo> [The reaction to Aline's exhortations were confusion and fear, at first. Graudally, the ones closest to Aline began to haltingly join in the singing…-
[20:13] <Hopeplo> [As they joined, they stopped jostling one another. Eventually there were souls who weren't being pushed around and they, too, began to join in.-
[20:13] <Hopeplo> [The song grew in strength, and the breach began to expand…-
[20:13] <Hopeplo> [Cracks started to ripple across the marble skin of the apostle.-
[20:13] <Hopeplo> [The souls' voices grew in strength and in number, accelerating the progress of the cracks.-
[20:14] <Hopeplo> [… But something happened. Aline reached a bottleneck, a limit to how many souls she could coerce into her song. The cracks stopped spreading… And slowly began to reverse.-
[20:14] <Hopeplo> [She simply didn't have the power to reach more than she already was…]
[20:17] * Aline felt her fist clench, as she kept going. Here, all was passion, right? …Well. Will. Passion was of will, will was of the soul, the self-def- Ahem. Focus. She still sang but her thoughts raced. Power. …But what power, where? If she remembered right, she was tapping on Lilith already. So then… Well it was half. Still! …She couldn't lead them yet, she couldn't… she gestured, even as one fist clenched, She sang,
[20:17] * Aline though eyes shifted. Where! She exhorted to nobody with her inner monologue. Where is more?!
[20:20] <Hopeplo> […-
[20:20] <Hopeplo> [… …-
[20:20] <Hopeplo> [The breach was starting to close.-
[20:20] <Hopeplo> [The music was growing fainter, and souls were starting to drift away from the song.-
[20:21] <Hopeplo> [It seemed as though Aline would end up trapped in this hell after all…-
[20:21] <Hopeplo> [Her memories gone, her will once again enslaved to another…-
[20:21] <Hopeplo> [The breach thinned. Before long its light was starting to flicker…-
[20:22] <Hopeplo> ["Please." Murmured Max.]
[20:23] * Aline stopped. …Stopped long enough to look to Max. She had a look on her face that suggested she had an idea of what he might be thinking before she even saw it. It wasn't a happy look. "…Mmn?"
[20:24] <Hopeplo> [Max stared at her imploringly. "Please…"-
[20:24] <Hopeplo> [Sudden footsteps, loud and leaden, rang across the room.-
[20:24] <Hopeplo> [The sound of well-heeled leather shoes slapping firmly against the tiled floors.-
[20:26] <Hopeplo> [A man approached. He was tall, with a toned, well-built physique. He wore a red shirt and white trousers. His hair was messy black and his eyes were bright, clear blue.-
[20:26] <Hopeplo> [He walked up behind Aline, raised his arms to mimic her, and smiled.-
[20:26] <Hopeplo> ["Here is your power." Said Elisha Caine.]
[20:36] * Aline turned to him. "…Then. …let…" She broke into the cadence of the song, but gained a different stance than a conductor. "Let it be heard. That we will not be broken even when we bend." Her cadence naturally fell into the melody of the chant. "Bend, bend and not break, stand and fight, stand for right." Arm folding back, starting to wind up for something. "Never. Never before, never now, and never again. In your blind
[20:36] * Aline death and solitude… go." Other hand pulling forwards, to brace, legs poising backwards. She briefly bumped into Elisha, but just made a goofy smile at him for it. "…Go, flow. …For who are we but accidents of the cosmos, who are we but those that would be stomped flat? See this angel, this apparition of god." Then, her position was in full tension. "But we are those who bare fangs at god!" Then she pushed forward and
[20:36] * Aline struck, palm seeming to force itself like a wedge into the very heart of the statue, pushing on the fracture's last remnant and spreading it. "WE ARE STRONG!"
[20:45] <Hopeplo> [For an instant, the Louvre's voices were united in song.-
[20:45] <Hopeplo> [It was all it took. Cracks spread around the angel in every direction in the space of a second.-
[20:47] <Hopeplo> [… ANd then, the angel shattered, but instead of sending shrapnel eveywhere the little pieces disintegrated into harmless light within seconds.-
[20:48] <Hopeplo> [The breach was free. And it was expanding. It swallowed Max, Elisha, and finally, Aline…-
[20:48] <Hopeplo> […-
[20:48] <Hopeplo> [… …-
[20:48] <Hopeplo> [EVA-00's eyes flashed.-
[20:48] <Hopeplo> [For the first time in what felt like years, Aline Blanc was in the entry plug of her own free will.]
[20:55] * Aline knew what she had to do. …There were missing pieces. There were loopholes left unclosed. She had family down there. She had people who may well be her children. She had friends. As the girl's hands went over the displays, working everything into place, starting what she could, even as she knew 00 would do a whole lot himself? She considered, just for a moment, what was about to happen. "…Goodbye. Let us hope uou're still
[20:55] * Aline here to see that color and light I brought into your lives when I return." Hands had clasped like a prayer, before she drew them to the control surfaces - if only to have something to grip with certainty. "Now, to go where we are needed." -
[20:56] <Aline> It took nothing more than the sound of air sucking into a void. Eva-00 was gone.
[20:59] <Hopeplo> [Ever so faintly, ringing in her ears, fading with the seconds, was the last laugh of Kaworu Nagisa…]

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