Cherry Blossom Procession 4 7 11

[17:16] <Minaplo> [Sera's shuttle VTOL finally came to rest on the Sword of Damocles' hangar floor.-
[17:19] <Minaplo> [The hangar was a bustling place. Technicians ran about with trolleys and toolkits, many working on the two dozen or so Superheavies that were bound within the wall-aligned cages. Others pushed crates of materials onto cargo VTOLs- goods to be shipped back to the Gendo and the Dorian. Assisting in these were Adepts and Phantoms, many wearing casual clothes rather than the dramatic robes and armour.]
[17:31] <Syntax> Sera, in his casual but UEF-branded outfit, stepped off the VTOL and looked around for a moment. Years ago, the stirring of a busy hangar like this would've made him deeply uneasy or worse. He was a lot more comfortable in his own skin now, or just more jaded. Matter of perspective.-
[17:32] <Syntax> He headed out of the hangar into the stairwells. Would he still be able to find the captain-or-whatever's office by himself?
[17:33] <Minaplo> [The layouts of the three Achaemenes battleships were more or less identical, so he definitely would.-
[17:35] <Minaplo> [Of course, the ship's layout was familiar; its occupants were not. He passed by a blonde Phantom wearing a vivid inverse-polkadot sundress with a blood-red pair of elbow gloves, who gave him a long and obvious look up and down before walking past with a knowing smirk on her face.-
[17:35] <Minaplo> [He also passed other, non-Phantom youths, who gave him a familiar look of Neospartan-bitten suspicion.-
[17:35] <Minaplo> [But yes, he would find that captain's ready room easily enough.]
[17:40] * Syntax didn't try to avoid the looks people would give him, just staring right back. He buzzed himself in, regardless.
[17:45] <Minaplo> [And was soon permitted entry.-
[17:46] <Minaplo> [Ezra Caine sat at his desk. He wore his uniform, albeit improperly; the jacket was open, revealing the white high-collared shirt beneath.-
[17:46] <Minaplo> ["Sera." He rose from his seat, walked around the desk and held out his hand. "How're you going?"]
[17:53] <Syntax> "Not bad," Sera said, walking out into the center of the room as the door closed behind him. "These kinds of situations suit me best, anyway. What about you?"
[17:56] <Syntax> He also shook Ezra's hand. He's not that terrible.
[17:57] <Minaplo> ["I'm good, thanks." Said Ezra. "It's kind of funny, though; I always dreamed about being able to stop time for a few days, but I never expected it to be this… Stressful."]
[18:01] <Syntax> "What's stressful about it? I'm sure it is, but…"
[18:27] <Minaplo> ["The constant rush of repairs and tactical briefings, mostly."]
[18:31] <Syntax> "Oh. I wouldn't know about those."
[18:33] <Minaplo> ["So what have you been up to?"]
[18:40] <Syntax> "Same old, doing everything I can. 01 had some issues after it lost its soul, and there's some prototype personal-scale equipment I need to finish work on before we go."-
[18:42] <Syntax> "Overall, it feels like this is the least busy I've been in months. I should even have time for a bunch of non-essential social calls."
[19:40] <Minaplo> ["Like this one?"]
[19:48] <Sept> "Well, no. I couldn't avoid this," Sera said, with a bothered look on his face as he looked at Ezra. The two weren't far apart in terms of height, but the inch or two that Ezra had on him definitely wasn't lost on Sera.
[19:49] <Minaplo> ["You probably could've, but go on, take a seat."]
[19:55] <Sept> "Right." Sera did so, pulling the chair back a little and holding his hands together in his lap.
[19:55] <Minaplo> [Ezra took a seat as well.-
[19:56] <Minaplo> ["So what do you need?"]
[20:00] <Sept> "Right," Sera repeated, clearly uncomfortable. "So, the thing is, you did all this stupid heroic crap. So the question actually is what do you need."
[20:02] <Minaplo> ["A two week holiday on a tropical beach with my lovely wife?"]
[20:04] <Sept> "I'm being serious, Ezra."
[20:04] <Minaplo> ["Alright, alright." Said Ezra, giving Sera one of those dangerous winning smiles. "I was hoping you might loosen up a little- you're all coiled up and tense, it's putting me on edge."]
[20:06] * Sept sighed. "If I'm tense, it's because I knew you'd be weird about this!"
[20:09] <Minaplo> ["Weird?"]
[20:12] <Sept> "You betrayed Mary, helped me and didn't even think about what you want out of it! Who does that?"
[20:14] <Minaplo> ["Hey, who says I haven't thought about what I want out of it?"]
[20:15] <Sept> "'Warm fuzzies' isn't an answer."
[20:17] <Minaplo> ["It's not my answer, but why can't it be?"]
[20:33] <Sept> "Because you can get that from anyone. If you need a betrayal for that, the world's beyond hope."
[20:40] <Minaplo> ["Okay."-
[20:40] <Minaplo> ["Should I tell you what I want, then?"]
[20:44] <Sept> "Please. I can get out of your hair if you do."
[20:46] <Minaplo> ["I'm having fun, though."]
[20:49] <Sept> "That's good. I've had fun talking with you before. This is a bit different, obviously."
[20:50] <Minaplo> ["Alright." Said Ezra, his smile fading a little.-
[20:50] <Minaplo> ["Here's what I want out of all this: an end to the war." Said Ezra. "Actually, war is putting it a little small- I want an end to this whole epoch of human history."]
[20:55] <Sept> "I'm. I'm doing that anyway. Mary is doing that anyway."
[20:58] <Minaplo> ["Yes, but you and Mary have different visions for the next epoch."]
[21:01] <Sept> "And you really just want mine. Or not Mary's. Is that right?"
[21:05] <Minaplo> ["Essentially."]
[21:10] <Sept> "W-Well, I'm honored." Sera paused for a moment. "If there's nothing I can give you now, then… Well, there's a question I ask everyone, but maybe that's easier for you to answer. What do you want for that new world? Is there something that's wrong with this one, or something you really want?"
[21:10] <Minaplo> ["I want a world where child soldiers aren't a thing."]
[21:12] <Sept> "That seems pretty likely. I'm sure a lot of people will want that."
[21:14] <GONEplo> ["Agreed. I want more than that, though."]
[21:14] <Sept> "Mhm?"
[21:15] <GONEplo> ["A unified world, not one fleabitten by war and strife."]
[21:19] <Sept> "We'll- probably try to do that. I mean, there's no way everyone wouldn't want that."
[21:20] <Minaplo> ["Lots of people don't."]
[21:24] <Sept> "Well, no. But when they have an outside perspective, I think they will."
[21:36] <Minaplo> ["Maybe…"]
[21:45] <Sept> "If you're worried about that, you can make a suggestion."
[21:50] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[22:03] <Sept> "If that's the favor you want. To make sure that's the world we make, or whatever. I can't put words in your mouth."
[22:05] <Minaplo> ["I see… So you're not just asking out of curiosity. You're taking requests."]
[22:13] <Sept> "If I went around asking people what kind of world they want to have or what they'd do before the end of the world, that'd be weird. Obviously I'm taking requests. And yours weighs heavier than some right now."
[22:18] <Minaplo> ["Why?"-
[22:18] <Minaplo> ["Also, people ask that question all the time here."]
[22:27] <Sept> "Huh. I guess that sounds like the kind of place you'd foster."-
[22:27] <Sept> "That's probably not a bad thing," Sera added, after hesitating.
[22:32] <Minaplo> ["Mm. Everyone has ideas on what they want the world to be."]
[22:34] <Sept> "Everyone didn't single-handedly save me from oblivion. You did."
[22:43] <Minaplo> ["Well… Thank you."]
[22:52] <Sept> "…you're welcome."
[23:02] <Minaplo> [Ezra was silent for a moment.-
[23:02] <Minaplo> ["Now it's my turn to be a little uncomfortable."]
[23:03] <Sept> "Feel free?"
[23:05] <Minaplo> ["Heh."-
[23:05] <Minaplo> ["You might've noticed that I have a fraught relationship with the family."]
[23:10] <Sept> "Right, yes. I have."
[23:12] <Minaplo> ["I try to stay away from the family trade of deciding the fate of the world unilaterally. Part of why I supported the Federation in the end was because I disliked Mary's strict idea of the future."-
[23:12] <Minaplo> ["… So I appreciate the weight you're giving me, but I want it known that I'm uncomfortable with you enacting my requests without you, eh… Running it by everyone else first."]
[23:14] <Sept> "And you're also worried people, as a whole, won't make the right choice."
[23:14] <Minaplo> ["… Kind of, yeah."]
[23:15] <Sept> "Those don't really go together well, huh."
[23:17] <Minaplo> ["Not really, no." Said Ezra.-
[23:18] <Minaplo> ["From what I've gleaned, part of the idea of Elisha's whole plan is to remake humanity into a form free of many of the things that make us do bad decisions." He said. "But if you subject that to humanity's will, then it's a little bit like locking a key inside the box the key opens."]
[23:25] <Sept> "I get that. Yet, what Elisha would like very much to see is a humanity that can pull itself out of that mire. One that doesn't need a Caine's unilateral decision, if you will."-
[23:39] <Sept> "And, you know, it's not much of a distinction, but. There aren't that many options for mankind at this point. So it's not like there's anyone just 'making that decision', it's just that, offered by us, those options now exist in the world, and it's up to everyone else to decide between them."-
[23:40] <Sept> "If all of us just do everything we can, there's… a balance, yeah?"
[23:41] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I see."]
[23:47] <Sept> "Right," Sera said, falling silent again.
[23:51] <Minaplo> ["Well. You've heard what I feel most strongly about."]
[00:01] <Sept> "Yeah. And there's really nothing else you want to ask of me right now?"
[00:11] <Minaplo> ["In terms of wanting you to do something that advances my interest… Maybe a few things."]
[00:18] <Sept> "Go ahead."
[00:22] <Minaplo> ["A lot of the world has been damaged in the past three hundred years." Said Ezra.]
[00:28] <Sept> "I've heard stories to that effect," Sera nodded seriously.
[00:40] <Minaplo> ["Regenerating them would be a good idea."]
[00:45] <Sept> "Yeah. Well, we do have pretty good plans for terraforming and stuff, and I think the Federation's promised a bunch of stuff like that. I can't give that to you in two days, obviously. But you mean in the long term."
[00:54] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. Fixing the climate, so on."]
[16:03] <Sept> "I'll do what I can to ensure things are on the right course there, while I still can. Is that good enough?"
[16:05] <Minaplo> ["Sure."]
[16:06] <Sept> "You said there was something else?"
[16:08] <Minaplo> ["Keep my people safe."]
[16:08] <Sept> "What, all of them?"
[16:09] <Minaplo> ["As best you can."]
[16:14] <Sept> "Ah." Sera thought about it for a moment, looking away. "I can do that. I promise to protect them."
[16:19] <Minaplo> ["Thank you."]
[16:23] <Sept> "Is that… everything?"
[16:25] <Minaplo> ["I think so."]
[16:28] <Sept> "Okay. Right. Thanks, Ezra."
[16:30] <Minaplo> ["You're welcome."]
[16:38] <Sept> "Also," Sera said, looking equal parts nervous and annoyed. Like a Sera does. "W-while you don't owe me anything, there's something I'd like to ask of you."
[16:42] <Minaplo> [Ezra leaned forward slightly, looking equal parts amused and sympathetic, like an Ezra does. "Of course I'll listen to your request."]
[16:43] <Sept> "Did you hear about Alexandre?"
[16:44] <Minaplo> ["I did." Said Ezra, his expression growing serious once again.]
[16:47] <Sept> "Of course. But- there's nothing you can do right now, of course, but I'm worried they'll do something stupid later. I'll probably be indisposed during the battles, but you may have a better perspective, be in a better position to help them. Maybe you won't. But if you can just keep an eye out."
[16:51] <Minaplo> ["Sure."]
[16:54] <Sept> "I- really need them alive, that's all. I mean, I need- you know what I mean."
[16:56] <Minaplo> ["Heh, I do. It's alright."]
[16:58] <Sept> "Okay. Phew. I think that's everything." Sera stood up from his chair.-
[16:58] <Sept> "Good luck, then."
[16:59] <Minaplo> ["Hm, you don't want to stay for drinks?"]
[17:01] <Sept> "No," said Sera flatly. "You're joking, right?"
[17:01] <Minaplo> ["Why would I be joking?" Asked Ezra, a bottle of wine already in hand.]
[17:03] <Sept> "We have like fifty hours left! I'm not spending it on drinks!"
[17:05] <Minaplo> [Ezra was already pouring two glasses out.-
[17:05] <Minaplo> ["It won't take that long!"]
[17:09] <Sept> "You're a fucking lunatic," Sera said, shaking his head. "Thanks for saving humanity."-
[17:09] * Sept turned around to leave.
[17:14] <Minaplo> ["Hey."]
[17:15] * Sept stopped after two steps, hesitated, and turned back to face Ezra again. "W-what?"
[17:16] <Minaplo> [Ezra pushed the glass of wine towards Sera's edge of the desk.-
[17:16] <Minaplo> ["Forget drinks. Let's have a drink then, lunatic to lunatic, before the end of the world."]
[17:22] <Sept> "We've already had this talk. We've both got what we needed."
[17:25] <Minaplo> [Ezra simply stared at him as he raised his own glass. "If we survive this, I'm gonna make a friend outta you somehow."-
[17:26] <Minaplo> ["And if we don't, well… Let this be your last image of me." He downed the glass.]
[17:28] <Sept> "…"
[17:29] * Sept walked over, grabbed the glass, downed its contents and put it back on the table.-
[17:30] <Sept> He hesitated for a moment, settled for wishing Ezra "good luck" and walked out.

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