Cherry Blossom Procession 4 4 1

[13:00] * Yanmei never failed to feel a slight pang of dissatisfaction whenever she boarded the mighty Gendo, the UEF's latest battleship. There was something about the decor that she couldn't put her finger on… something about it was far less infurating than the Dorian, but it was less interesting at the same time. The layout was, however, basically the same, so this was a very puzzling phenomenon indeed. -
[13:07] <Yanmei> Today the similarities were bothering her for a different reason than usual. She passed through several routine security pat-downs and scans, trying hard not to think about who might be locked up on board the Dorian's own prison area and failing quite badly. When she was at last free to continue, she marched on at a brisk pace, straightening her uniform. -
[13:10] <Yanmei> Each cell had a single, transparent Surovite wall to allow guards, cameras, visitors and the like to see what the inmates were doing at any given time from the prison's main hallway. Each contained a bed, bolted down to the floor, and not much else. They are all also empty… except for one.
[13:17] <Aline> One where a girl in a simple outfit, just a dark grey jumpsuit (the tracksuit was uh, ruined) with modestly long white hair, was sitting on said bed, feet kicking back and forth. She was obviously waiting.
[13:22] <Yanmei> On each side of the transparent wall was a simple phone receiver. Yanmei picked hers up, and gestured for Aline to do the same.
[13:22] <Aline> Which she did, walking over to pick it up and put it to her head. "So."
[13:24] <Yanmei> "So." Yanmei echoed. There was a brief moment of dignified silence… and then it ended. "What is even your deal, Blanc?!"
[13:26] * Aline just waited, with a small eye-close that looked like she was treating being yelled at as if she was in high winds. "…Being killed, soul-bound to the Eternity Drive, neuro-conditioned to hate my former friends based on latent stress, and just now breaking free because someone wanted Lilith so badly that they'd use a hacky method to try to rip my soul out. I mean, I think that's it."
[13:29] <Yanmei> "You're free?" Yanmei's eyes narrowed a bit. "Any way you can prove that?"
[13:30] <Aline> "…Can you like, tell if a soul is missing a fragment or linked to the drive or whatever? Like… I think that's how she did it." Beat. "…Also sorry for being a total skeeve during that. I couldn't really think of anything better to goad you with and I was kinda… …looking at things in a way that was kinda very warped?"
[13:34] <Yanmei> "Hmph. Looked like you and Joan had plenty to talk about back then. Well, whatever. It didn't bother me one bit!"
[13:37] * Aline shrugged. "'m allowed to apologize anyway." She said. "…Naturally there's going to be a lot of adjustment…? Getting through lost time, restoring trust, dealing with issues at hand…"
[13:42] <Yanmei> "Issues at hand…" Yanmei echoed. "Like how you got free in the first place. Could you go back and describe that in a little more detail?"
[13:45] <Aline> "Yeah…" Aline waved her other hand a little. "Basically, I was doing beach volleyball training for my phantoms - long story - when something hit the Synfront. Then like… a headache, a burning sensation, and… I was in the Louvre, but I couldn't really remember much."
[13:46] * Mogatron (~ten.dshqrabme.pchd.83-252-6-67-ho|nortagoM#ten.dshqrabme.pchd.83-252-6-67-ho|nortagoM) has joined #nervfrance
[13:48] <Yanmei> "Uh…huh." Yanmei was staring at her in confusion. "Go on."
[13:50] * Aline let out a low chuckle. "It was clearly a headtrip kind of thing. So I was there… crowds of people rushed around, then vanished, a few times. …Then Kaworu turns up. Tells me he's basically a shard of his-her-their soul put in me to prevent this sort of thing. And that the attack on the Synfront gave him an opportunity. So like… I learned about the conditioning and then… was given a choice to embrace the new identity
[13:50] * Aline or take the old. No points for guessing which way I went. The Synfront fucking sucks, though I think you know that really well anyway."
[13:51] <Yanmei> "It does," Yanmei agreed. "Although I don't remember them having volleyball games the last time I was there."
[13:54] <Aline> "…I apparently worked together with Ezra to be a force for positive change. That and uh, tip about Solomon Primes - they're allowed to manage their phantoms however they see fit." Aline noted with almost-amusement. "…So anyway, then Kaworu basically is falling apart because I 'spent' that soulpiece to reboot my memories, so… I was basically exhorted to figure out a way out, or the Drive'd just crush me back into amnesia again.
[13:54] <Aline> …so I eventually heard this… song, or chant. And I followed it through the place, until I saw an angel statue with a crack in it, gleaming with shiny light and business like that. Angel, mind you, like traditional winged type, though it had a Guard's proportions. Also the pope was there to greet me."
[13:58] <Yanmei> Yanmei's expression went flat. That statue…. "I'm assuming the Pope thing is something your subconscious made up, right?"
[13:59] <Aline> "…He gave his full name, Max… somethingorother, that I didn't know. So you tell me."
[14:02] <Yanmei> Yanmei scowled. "Max… Father Max? Why was the Pope in your Eternity Drive headspace place?!"
[14:03] * Aline shook her head briefly. "…Because he was saying that 'an iron guard' was performing a ritual to draw me out. And I knew that was to get Lilith from me. And he told me that 'that young man' hijacked said ritual for a bit, and I had to act somehow or I'd either get pulled out or be trapped. …So I'd guess he was there because somehow this Guard was psychically… connecting him to it."
[14:11] <Yanmei> "That's concerning. Um… Was he in pain or anything?"
[14:13] * Aline frowned. "Not at the time? …He did sorta seem obviously stressed though."
[14:14] <Yanmei> "What happened after you talked to him?"
[14:15] <Aline> "Well, I had to act, so I did. That whole 'song'… I decided to sing it, and get the souls in the drive to sing it with me. We almost didn't have enough power to do it, but… 00's Elisha found me in there, and that was enough of a push to break the statue and open a big old breach. Now, I have no idea what the physical consquences of that were for the Guard and company, but for me… it released me."
[14:22] <Yanmei> "Does Mary Caine know about this? I mean, she clearly must. But you didn't encounter her at all during any of this?"
[14:25] <Aline> "…Not at all." Aline admitted. "…I get the sense that she might've been uh. Incapacitated by it."
[14:29] <Yanmei> "Interesting…" Yanmei didn't quite smile. "Do you feel, like, any sort of regret about that?"
[14:34] <Aline> "…I sorta regret that the Primes are going to be fucked over, Ezra's lost some ground to mess up Mary with, my Phantoms are probably going to be… reassigned? Disposed of? I have no idea. And my family's still there. You understand that I had a tiny, tiny window to escape in."
[14:41] <Yanmei> "Oh… Yeah, all of that is pretty unfortunate. But you still came back despite all of those circumstances?"
[14:45] <Aline> "Yeah." Aline simply said… or simply said at first. "…You guys are my friends. I still love Shinji. I believe more in your cause than… Mary's…" She said the last with disgust. "Or, her dad's. Or Lilith's. I can't even tell who's really the ringleader anymore. …and why would I knowingly live a lie?"
[15:02] <Yanmei> "I guess your motives are understandable enough," Yanmei muttered. "Everyone involved in this mess is a jerk. Excluding our side, anyway?"
[12:59] <Aline> "Sera de Pteres." Aline said, swiftly and without hesitation. "…" A loose smile. "The UEF has jerks, it's just that they're not dedicated to the idea of jerkish things."
[13:04] <Yanmei> "Well. Most of us?" she agreed. "But not all of us. When we recover some of the people taken hostage during the coup you'll see what I mean."
[13:09] <Aline> "No, I get that most of you - us - aren't terrible people. If I have to explain I will but. …like I knew Sera for years. I've met Surov. Little Aline is like a perfect fusion of sulky teenager and brutal 3-year-old. …But the /cause/ is right."
[13:18] <Yanmei> "All right. I'll take that," Yanmei said with a faint smile. "And you're ready to jump back in to assist us with our cause?"
[13:21] * Aline nodded. "I am. …I know that trust is an issue, and short of some hard AT scanning and general words, I'm still liable to get a few odd looks and/or adult Chiisana stabbings out of it."
[13:23] <Yanmei> "The Empress won't hurt you unless she feels she must? She might be a little intimidating, but she's also a proper lady and no stranger to restraint. That said, if you do turn out to be lying, she might end up stabbing me instead for endangering everyone further?"
[13:26] <Aline> "…Empress." Aline mouthed briefly. "Uh, I'll ask later, I know about her from that whole mission and from what Mary's goons got as intel but not… quite that. Uhm. Anyway. …It really did seem like she was just looking for an excuse though. I mean… uh… you know? Just going 'oh aha, that's a trick too!' like a cheesy supervillain."
[13:34] <Yanmei> "Yeah, she has some trust issues. There's also a non-zero chance that she was a supervillain before she joined up with us. But she's on our side, and we're trying to understand each other, so try not to take it too personally, okay?"
[13:36] * Aline paused. "That would explain it, wouldn't it. …Erm. Yeah. I guess - as much as she probably considers this a luxury for herself too - I have the luxury of being able to blame her for succeeding at killing me if it comes to that. So until then I'll be patient."
[13:44] <Yanmei> "Hah. Thanks. I guess…?" Yanmei shook her head. "In any case, do you want me to pass along any messages while you're waiting here? You came so suddenly that we're not entirely certain what to do with you in the long-term sense."
[14:07] * Aline thought about that, scratching her chin with the hand not holding the phone. "…I'm not sure who's around? I guess just a basic message to the people deciding things that I'm willing to submit to AT scanning and other means to corroborate my claims, and maybe to whoever you have with technical that when this blows over I'll let them - within reason - study all the extra junk they added to 00. I… already kind of think I
[14:07] * Aline should give Shinji some space, and I guess the rest can wait until we're more settled."
[14:14] <Yanmei> "Somehow I don't think Ikari will need much space? In fact, I need to make sure he doesn't kick down the cell door in order to see you," Yanmei sighed. "As for the other stuff, I'll pass it along."
[14:18] <Aline> "I mean more in like… to calm down first?" Aline said awkwardly. "But… yeah, sure. I mean I'll want to talk to people eventually. Even Sera."
[14:20] <Yanmei> "He'll probably be the second in line to see you after Ikari? God help us if they run into each other, though." Yanmei rolled her eyes. "Anyway, you might be underestimating how much people missed you around here?"
[14:23] * Aline looked to the side a bit sheepishly. "A little, yeah. I uh. …I remember for a while missing connections, and then miss murderpants - …more like murder royal gown - welcoming me made me feel 'well shit, because Mary fucked my head sideways I'm at least a few satans now'."
[14:33] <Yanmei> "Miss Murderpants?" Yanmei's eyes narrowed. "You mean Joan?"
[14:39] <Aline> "The Empress. …Don't tell her I called her that, I imagine she, uh. Would consider it undignified at best. But, you know, impressions…" Aline sighed.
[14:45] <Yanmei> "Oh. Yeah, I won't tell her. She probably isn't listening either. I hope."
[14:46] * Aline conspiratorially glanced. "We'll see. I mean, really it's just a first-impressions thing."
[14:51] <Yanmei> "You should talk to her more. I feel like you two would find some common ground, eventually."
[14:55] <Aline> "Well, probably." Aline admitted. "After I get a clean bill of 'not going to murder you all' first. Or as much of one as I can get."
[15:04] <Yanmei> "C'mon, let's relax a little here? You're going to be fine unless you betray us."
[15:05] * Aline slowly nodded. "I know, I know…"
[15:31] <Yanmei> "Good. Because it sucked when you switched sides the last time! Even though it wasn't your fault." She glared for a moment, and then frowned down at her watch. "I need to go calm down the UEF heads and explain to them what's going on."
[15:42] <Aline> "Ah, alright. I'll be here, obviously." A dull, slightly wry chuckle.
[15:46] <Yanmei> "Yeah. Um… Welcome back, I guess."

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