Cherry Blossom Procession 4 5 3

[15:33] * Yanmei lurked along the hallways of the Gendo, peering slyly into each office as she passed. She wasn't sure if she was heading in the right direction. Her own temporary office - or temporary home, given that she had been sleeping, eating and spending all her free time there during the past two days - was on another floor and she wasn't too familiar with this portion of the ship. -
[15:39] <Yanmei> A lot of the people she passed were unfamiliar too. Nevertheless, she persisted until she came upon a row of doors that had not been left open. It was time to start taking chances… she pressed the buzzer on one, waited for it to open, and then got some proper directions from the nice lady who answered. When she found herself at the door of the office she really wanted several minutes
[15:39] <Yanmei> later, she pushed yet another buzzer and waited for the reply from within.
[15:57] <Minaplo> ["Enter."]
[16:02] * Yanmei did so. "Morning," she said, glancing around from the threshold.
[16:06] <Minaplo> ["Morning yourself, Chancellor." Said Jeanne Simon, sitting behind her desk. She looked up. "What do you need?"]
[16:11] * Yanmei paused. This was unusual. They hardly ever talked face-to-face these days. In fact, there were times when Yanmei even suspected that the woman tried to avoid her. -
[16:12] <Yanmei> "Just following up on some things? Seeing how you're doing. If maybe you might have any additional info that'll help with our upcoming mission? No one knows the Dorian better than you do, right?" she grinned.
[16:20] <Minaplo> ["Patently untrue."]
[16:26] <Yanmei> "Well… sure, if you count Akagi, I guess?"
[16:27] <Minaplo> ["More than that. Mortens probably knows it better, as does Surov. And the designer of the ship itself, of course."-
[16:27] <Minaplo> ["I would not be surprised if the Brothers or the Keepers knew more too, subconsciously."-
[16:27] <Minaplo> ["I'm rather far down the food chain on this one."]
[16:29] <Yanmei> "Oh. Well. How much do you know about the prison cells?"
[16:29] <Minaplo> ["That I know a fair bit about. Standard transparent surovite cells, equipped with remote phone, surveillance feeds in the walls and a full suite of compliance-inducing equipment."]
[16:32] <Yanmei> "Any way to bust those cells open quickly by force?"
[16:32] <Minaplo> ["Heavy weapons."]
[16:37] <Yanmei> "What about ways to get in and out of those blocks without being detected?"
[16:38] <Minaplo> ["With or without damaging them?"]
[16:42] <Yanmei> "Without? Don't want to risk injuring anyone locked inside."
[16:43] <Minaplo> ["You're talking secret passageways, then."]
[16:45] <Yanmei> "Sure."
[16:47] <Minaplo> ["None."]
[16:51] <Yanmei> "Mmph. Ok. What about just plain bruteforcing our way in?"
[16:51] <Minaplo> ["That would be the heavy weapons."]
[16:57] * Yanmei sighed, and rubbed her head. "What about some sort of massive override code that could affect the ship's entire security system? If we don't have one now, I think we should invest in one when this is over. Naturally, only the Chancellor would have access to it…"
[16:58] <Minaplo> ["There is a way to open every cell at once…"]
[16:59] <Yanmei> "There is?" Yanmei's eyes shone with hope.
[17:00] <Minaplo> ["You can do it by accessing the central command terminal at the heart of the prison complex. They've likely changed the code, but it's possible to hack past it. Problem is, many of our best hackers were captured."]
[17:02] <Yanmei> "Oh. That's out, then."
[17:02] <Minaplo> ["Not necessarily."]
[17:02] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
[17:03] <Minaplo> ["There are other hackers we could use…" Said Simon, fiddling with a holo for a moment. "You know Japan's sent a counter-terrorism team to help us?"]
[17:04] <Yanmei> "Yeah, I know. Are they good enough to stand up to, say, a brainwashed or coerced Surov, for example?"
[17:05] <Minaplo> ["I'm not sure…"]
[17:09] <Yanmei> "Guess the only way to find out is to talk to them. I'll do that this afternoon." Yanmei pulled out her tablet to make a note of it.
[17:10] <Minaplo> [Simon seemed to smirk for a split second, but nodded. "Got it."]
[17:12] <Yanmei> "And speaking of future plans…" Yanmei looked up from the screen. "What do we do about Akagi? Hell, in the unlikely event that Albus himself ends up captured by the end of this, what do we do with him? How feasible would it be to contain either of them?"
[17:15] <Minaplo> ["Mmm. Bullet could do it."]
[17:17] <Yanmei> "We're not killing Akagi."
[17:17] <Minaplo> ["No?"]
[17:18] <Yanmei> "No. Not unless we have no other choice."
[17:19] <Minaplo> ["People are going to die in exchange for keeping Akagi alive. Are you alright with that?"]
[17:23] <Yanmei> "No. Of course I'm not! I don't want anyone dead! Except Albus and his willing cronies. And Mary Caine. But that's something else."
[17:24] <Minaplo> ["Then how do you justify sparing Akagi?"]
[17:29] <Yanmei> "Admittedly… I don't know if I can. Not if she fights us."
[17:29] <Minaplo> ["And she probably will."]
[17:30] <Yanmei> "Yeah. Yeah, she probably will."
[17:30] <Minaplo> ["Mmhmm."-
[17:31] <Minaplo> ["The safest way of securing Akagi alive is to destroy her Evangelion."]
[17:33] <Yanmei> "Easier said than done as long as she's connected to the battleship."
[17:35] <Minaplo> ["Them's the breaks."]
[17:44] <Yanmei> "How many of your guys were taken along with the Dorian?"
[17:45] <Minaplo> ["Four hundred and eleven."]
[17:46] * Yanmei winced. "I'm sorry."
[17:49] <Minaplo> ["Reckon you can work a little harder to save 'em this time?"]
[17:59] <Yanmei> A slightly sullen tone now. "You'll be pleased to know that I'm already working damn hard."
[18:08] <Minaplo> ["Well that's good. Just be ready to make hard decisions."]
{-pause-}
[13:06] <CakeyCake> "I know that already? I'm not a child anymore… I'm getting used to doing things like that."
[13:12] <Mianplo> ["Good."]
[13:18] <CakeyCake> "Do you have any plans for after we win? Security measures to make sure this doesn't happen again? I get the feeling that hooking up Evas to our ships is going to be a bad idea from this point forward."
[13:20] <Mianplo> ["From what I've been told, hooking Evas to ships is too powerful a military edge." Said Simon. "From here on out though, we should limit it to only the most stable of pilots… And put in more systems and failsafes that will crash the pilot or the Eva in case of a problem."-
[13:20] <Mianplo> ["You might want to speak to a scientist about that, though."]
[13:24] <CakeyCake> "Heh. We screwed up, didn't we? Akagi had that outburst and everything with 06. If we'd stopped using her back then, we wouldn't be having this problem."
[13:30] <Mianplo> ["THat's right." Said Simon. "Same if we'd just ditched Albus somewhere."]
[13:31] <CakeyCake> "Albus was… Albus. But we never had proof that he was plotting stuff."
[13:41] <Mianplo> ["But you never trusted him."]
[13:43] <CakeyCake> "Mainly because he worked under that W guy for a while."
[13:45] <Mianplo> ["Well you probably shouldn't have let someone you didn't trust wander around so freely."]
[13:57] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei frowned, but she didn't deny it either. For a while she was quiet.
[14:00] <Minaplo> ["And we certainly can't let it happen again."]
[14:02] <Yanmei> "No, we certainly can't."
[14:05] <Minaplo> [Simon sat back in her chair. "Anything else?"]
[14:07] <Yanmei> "No. I guess keep a careful eye on Blanc and Gamelin while they're on board. Ah… Have you and Gamelin reconnected yet?"
[14:08] <Minaplo> ["What's that supposed to mean? The Gamelin I knew is dead."]
[14:14] <Yanmei> "Maybe. But this Gamelin says he remembers everything from before his, um. Transformation."
[14:15] <Minaplo> ["That's great, so do the Ayanamis. Doesn't make them Rei Ikari."]
[14:21] <Yanmei> "Fine, fine. Just watch him, ok?"
[14:22] <Minaplo> ["Don't need to be told twice."]
[14:24] * Yanmei nodded. "I'll head off, then. I still have to track down some more people? I'll see you later."
[14:25] <Minaplo> ["Mmhmm. Keep busy."]
[14:35] <Yanmei> "Hah. I don't think you have to worry about me not being busy. Later." She backed out into the hallway, and glanced around. Ok. Over to the guest dorms, then…
[14:38] <Minaplo> […-
[14:39] <Minaplo> [Many of the Gendo's dormitories had a special configuration: between four to eight bedrooms, each built around a common area that contained a fully-stocked kitchen, dining area, bathroom and often a couch with a television. It was comfortable, but in a simpler, plainer way than the sumptuous extravagance of the Dorian. It reminded Yanmei more of a homely Parisian apartment, if a bit on the roomy side.-
[14:55] <Minaplo> [The door opened for Yanmei, revealing a brown-haired bespectacled man, wearing a real casual rainbow-coloured t-shirt and pair of long trousers.-
[14:56] <Minaplo> ["Oh." He suddenly straightened up and bowed. "Chancellor Zhang."]
[15:00] * Yanmei hesitated for a fraction of a moment, and then returned the gesture. "Morning. I've come to introduce myself? But it seems like you already know me by sight."
[15:02] <Minaplo> ["Of course, ma'am."]
[15:10] <Yanmei> "Is the rest of your team available? I'd like to say hi to all of you."
[13:01] <Minaplo> ["My apologies, but most of my team are currently out. There are a few still here, if you would like to meet them."]
[13:03] <Yanmei> "I'd be happy to!" She beamed at him.
[13:07] <Minaplo> [He ushered Yanmei into the room.-
[13:10] <Minaplo> ["Oh, I forgot to introduce myself, didn't I?" He said with a frown. "I'm Subaru Hirano, head of ERAD."]
[13:14] <Yanmei> "Ah! Inspector-Captain Hirano. I've read up on you a little? Thank you for coming to our assistance."
[13:15] <Minaplo> ["You're quite welcome, Chancellor." He said with another short bow.-
[13:15] <Minaplo> ["This is Inspector Carter Bright, one of our combat and investigation specialists." Said Hirano, gesturing toward a man in the kitchen.-
[13:16] <Minaplo> [To Yanmei's surprise (or perhaps not?), he didn't look Japanese, and when he turned and spoke to her, he sounded like an American. "Good to meet you, Madame Chancellor." He said with his own bow, although for a moment it looked as though he was about to offer a hand to shake.]
[13:22] <Yanmei> "The same to you, Inspector." Once again, she returned the bow, and then extended a hand as she straightened up. "Welcome to our fair battleship!"
[13:26] <Minaplo> [He took her hand and shook it firmly. "Thank you for the warm welcome," He said with a bright smile. "Wish it could've been under better circumstances…"]
[13:32] <Yanmei> "You and me both? But we can't really change that. Anyway, thank you for coming aboard to help. How long have you been with ERAD?"
[13:33] <Minaplo> ["Well, I was one of its first members…"]
[13:37] <Yanmei> "A founding member! Very impressive. You must be really skilled and experienced, then!"
[13:37] <Minaplo> ["H-Heh, well…"-
[13:37] <Minaplo> ["Don't let him be modest. He's extremely good at what he does." Said Hirano. "He's not the only one here though…"-
[13:37] <Minaplo> [Yanmei swore she heard him mutter 'unfortunately' to himself under his breath.]
[13:48] * Yanmei glanced around after that cue. "Of course. And these other people are…?"
[13:49] <Minaplo> ["Our, er, cyberwarfare specialist. Do you want to speak to her…?"]
[13:51] <Yanmei> "Certainly! Care to join us, Inspector Bright?"
[13:52] <Minaplo> ["I'm good, thank you."-
[13:55] <Minaplo> [Hirano led Yanmei to one of the dorm doors. He knocked on it sharply a few times.-
[13:56] <Minaplo> [There was an angry, irritated response in what sounded like a young woman's voice.-
[13:56] <Minaplo> [Hirano shouted back through the door, his own tone one of annoyance.-
[13:56] <Minaplo> [The woman behind the door snapped back at him. Hirano replied in kind- Yanmei heard her own name in his words.-
[13:57] <Minaplo> [The woman scoffed, then went quiet. Hirano shook his head. "She needs a minute."]
[14:00] <Yanmei> "Sounds like she needs more than 'a minute'," Yanmei remarked with a faint smirk.
[14:03] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, well, she's kind of… Untidy."]
[14:05] <Yanmei> "Ahh~" she said amicably.
[14:07] <Minaplo> [A few awkward minutes passed, until eventually the woman on the other side of the door called out.-
[14:07] <Minaplo> ["She's ready." Said Hirano. He opened the door.-
[14:08] <Minaplo> [The room within was a bedroom. It took Yanmei a moment to realise that, since it was… Obscured.-
[14:09] <Minaplo> [A huge hill of dirty clothes sat in one corner, blocking the wardrobe. Across the ground were strewn empty food wrappers and the odd empty glass or even plate. Towers of haphazardly stacked books sat dotted around the room.-
[14:10] <Minaplo> [Sitting on the bed itself was a young woman with long black hair and a pair of glasses. She was skinny, and wore a pair of shorts and a long-sleeved white t-shirt. A pair of headphones sat around her neck. In front of her was a laptop computer. Her bed was a mess of twisted sheets and rumpled pillows.-
[14:10] <Minaplo> [She looked up at Yanmei. "Hi."]
[14:11] <Yanmei> "Hello." Remembering her previous greetings, she bowed politely. "I'm Zhang Yanmei of the UEF. Welcome to the Gendo!"
[14:13] <Minaplo> ["Neat. I'm Ami Ito."]
[14:15] <Yanmei> "It's a pleasure, Ms. Ito. You're ERAD's cyberwarfare expert?"
[14:16] <Minaplo> ["Yep. Who do you work for?"]
[14:21] <Yanmei> "Ah…? The United Earth Federation? You know, the UEF?"
[14:25] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, and who does it work for?"]
[14:30] <Yanmei> "Well… since it's a federation of different countries, you could say that it works for various different national governments."
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["Of course you'd have people believe that, but who does it really work for, huh?"-
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["Oh God." Muttered Hirano.-
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["Who're the secret wizards behind the curtain, huh, 'Chancellor'?!" Said Ami, scowling.]
[14:39] <Yanmei> "Just me and my officers, I'm afraid," said Yanmei lightly. "I'm afraid that secret wizards and illuminati and such don't actually exist."
[14:41] <Minaplo> ["Bullshit." Said Ami. "Isn't it true that the UN were run by a secret cultist cabal?!"]
[14:42] <Yanmei> "Were they?" Yanmei cocked her head to the side. "Where are you getting that information from?"
[14:45] <Minaplo> ["Around."]
[14:48] <Yanmei> "Around where? Are there rumors online or something…?"

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