Cherry Blossom Procession 4 7 12

[23:39] * Sept reached the top of the staircase and paused, catching his breath from the ascent. He was carrying a thermos in one hand and wearing a thick coat, whose buttons he checked before unlocking and pushing open the door of the deck. The wind from the pressure difference hit him in the face, but calmed down quickly. Sera wandered out onto the deck, determined to efficiently refresh himself
[23:39] * Sept with his allotted break.
[23:50] <Minaplo> [Every break needs a few things to be truly refreshing, and before long, one of those alleged things would reach his ears: the twang of a guitar.-
[23:50] <Minaplo> [As he wandered around the deck, he'd see the source- Eufemia, the new pilot, sitting by herself on a bench, watching a frozen world around her.]
[23:59] * Sept hadn't scheduled for this. But it was a little late to back down. He approached the pilot at a plodding pace and stopped, waiting for a pause in the idle music.
[00:30] <Minaplo> [And eventually it did.-
[00:30] <Minaplo> ["Oh, hello."]
[00:33] <Sept> "Hello. You seem… well?"
[00:35] <Minaplo> ["Did I seem unwell before?"]
[00:40] <Sept> "No, but… well, this is rude, now, for me to interrupt your moment, but what I mean is I thought you'd take the news more heavily. The things that happened earlier."
[00:44] <Minaplo> ["The news about the Cavaleiro?"]
[00:45] <Sept> "The what?"
[00:46] <Minaplo> ["CAV-01."]
[00:50] <Sept> "Oh. Sorry. Yes. They are Evangelions, though, so I don't take full responsibility. You can't just start renaming things when you want."-
[00:50] <Sept> "…"-
[00:50] <Minaplo> ["Can."]
[00:50] <Sept> "You- what."
[00:53] <Minaplo> ["'Evangelion'. It's Greek for 'The Good News', meaning the redemption of humanity through Christ. What does that have to do with a 40 metre tall cybernetic war machine? Cavaleiro means 'Knight', because they're armoured and not just anyone can pilot them. It makes sense."]
[01:02] <Sept> "I… cannot reasonably convey how mad that makes me right now. They're not war machines, they're the instruments of humanity's deliverance."
[01:06] <Minaplo> ["Abstractly, yes, in that they kill things that want to hurt humanity." Said Eufemia. "Same can be said for a bomb, that doesn't make it divine."]
[01:07] <Sept> "…"-
[01:10] <Sept> Sera walked around Eufemia to her front, stared at her for a moment, sat down on the other end of her bench and began unscrewing the top off his thermos.
[01:11] <Minaplo> [She looked over at him. She was smiling. She had always been smiling.]
[01:20] <Sept> Sera poured coffee into the cap and took a sip. It was scalding hot. He stared out for a few more moments.-
[01:20] <Sept> "I know you're wrong, but I don't know why. You win, I think."
[01:22] <Minaplo> ["I like winning, so I do it a lot." Said Eufemia. "May I have some coffee?"]
[01:26] <Sept> "Well, I'm on break, so you're lucky. You may. It's very hot."-
[01:28] <Sept> Sera looked at the thermos next to him, and at the cup in his left hand.-
[01:29] <Sept> He solved the riddle of insufficient cups by opening a Dirac cache, taking out a second thermos, unscrewing its cap and tossing the rest of the thermos back in.-
[01:29] <Sept> He poured coffee into the second cup and held it out to Eufemia.
[01:30] <Minaplo> [Eufemia took a cup and drank a deep, deep mouthful.-
[01:31] <Minaplo> ["Thank you. I really like your dirac caching."]
[01:35] <Sept> "Thanks. Can't claim credit for it. But I'm glad it's there."
[01:36] <Minaplo> ["Yes."-
[01:36] <Minaplo> ["This coffee is okay."]
[01:40] <Sept> "It's very high in coffee content," Sera agreed.-
[01:42] <Sept> "Oh, shit. Your sister. Right. How are you doing?"
[01:42] <Minaplo> ["I've been thinking about a lot of things. I haven't been saying a lot of things, though. I should tell you."]
[01:48] <Sept> "I don't know if I can do anything to help, but maybe I can understand what you've been through, a little?"-
[01:48] <Sept> Sera drained the rest of his coffee and set the cup down for the moment.
[01:54] <Minaplo> ["We're the same. I knew it from the moment I saw you, but I didn't know why. Now I do."]
[01:56] <Sept> "That's a hell of an instinct…"
[02:00] <Minaplo> ["Yes. I don't understand it myself."-
[02:00] <Minaplo> ["Let me start from the beginning."]
[02:01] <Sept> "Go ahead."
[02:04] <Minaplo> ["My sister and I are twins. I'm Eufemia, she's Eulalia."-
[02:06] <Minaplo> ["Do you know what they mean? They both mean 'well-spoken'. The 'eu' part means good, like in utopia- or Evangelion, only the u-v change happens through latin. 'Femia' and 'Lalia' both mean to speak or to talk."]
[02:10] <Sept> "Oh. I had no idea, no."
[02:10] <Minaplo> ["Yes."-
[02:13] <Minaplo> ["Both of our names came from saints. Saint Euphemia was martyred in 303 for refusing to sacrifice to the god of war, and the Romans tortured her more than the others because she was the youngest. Saint Eulalia was martyred in 303 for refusing to give up her faith. She was 13. I don't know how old Euphemia was."]
[02:16] * Sept opened his mouth to speak. Then he closed it.
[02:19] <Minaplo> ["My second name's Eliana, which means 'God has answered', and Eulalia's second name is Eva, which is usually just the name for Eve in Portuguese, but for her was short for Evangelina, which is actually Spanish. We had a relative with the name who was born and raised abroad. That's where we took the name from. You already know what Evangelina means."]
[02:23] <Sept> "Mmh. I've had it a little bit with judeochristian names, now. But that's not your fault."
[02:23] <Minaplo> ["No. It's my parents'. They conceived us in a church."]
[02:28] <Sept> "Oh, good."
[02:29] <Minaplo> [She grinned. "That was a joke. They didn't. I don't think they've ever had sex in a church."-
[02:29] <Minaplo> ["I wouldn't want to."]
[02:31] <Sept> "Oh. R-right. So they weren't weirdos, just really into shitty thematic names."
[02:32] <Minaplo> ["They probably thought it was cute. At least we have pretty names."-
[02:35] <Minaplo> ["Dad's a scientist, mama's a soldier. He went to work for Gehirn when we were four, so we stayed with mama on the army camp. She taught us to fight. We really liked it." Her smile softened. "Eulalia and I were really close. Inseparable."-
[02:38] <Minaplo> ["After he finished his work with Gehirn, he came home and we lived with him. Then Gran Colombia invaded, and Belem-2- our home city- was besieged. We were out of the city at the time, but we ended up leading a guerrilla resistance against the Gran Colombians. I ended up leading the resistance into breaking the siege. But after it was broken, a sniper shot Eulalia dead during the victory parade."]
[02:40] <Sept> "…I'd heard some of that. That's awful."
[02:41] <Minaplo> ["It was."-
[02:43] <Minaplo> [Her smile fell. "It… Hurt. The instant it happened, I felt torn apart. Lots of people say that about grief, but I completely changed. I found it harder to connect to other people, and I lacked the energy to do much. I had a string of boyfriends and girlfriends, but it never went anywhere. They wanted something, and I couldn't give it. Didn't know how to give it. Intimacy… I struggled to really be involved with anyone who I didn't know before my sister's death."]
[02:47] <Sept> "You had to learn how to cope with a limited set of tools."
[02:49] <Minaplo> ["Yes. Repetition, duty, clear objectives- these motivated me a little." Said Eufemia. "But mostly I was passive."-
[02:50] <Minaplo> ["Now I know why. Eulalia isn't my twin sister in the normal sense." Said Eufemia. "Most twins are two souls born at the same time. But something went strange with us. We're a single soul, split in half."]
[02:52] <Sept> "Mm. Did things change when you began piloting the Eva, then?"
[02:58] <Minaplo> ["Not a lot. I don't think my father understood the situation. He trapped her soul shortly after she died. From what I've been told, it should've fused with mine within a few weeks- but obviously it couldn't. So I was left with Logos, whilst my sister took Eros and Thanatos, and you understand now."]
[03:13] <Sept> "Yeah. Has anyone… looked into that, since then?"
[03:15] <Minaplo> ["Into what exactly?"]
[03:24] <Sept> "You know. How your soul's compensated. I'd think having at least the exposure to her soul would've helped in some way. Maybe."
[03:25] <Minaplo> ["That's what I've been thinking about." Said Eufemia. "Being in the Cavaleiro doesn't seem to have done it, but apparently CAV-01 went… Strange in the last fight. Like berserk in a way. Ever since… I've been feeling things."]
[03:34] <Sept> "Oh. Um. That's good?"
[03:38] <Minaplo> ["Better than it used to be. I'm feeling things I stopped feeling when Eulalia died. I'm still sorting my way through it, but I think it'll be a lot better."]
[03:53] <Sept> "That's great. I'm happy you can be so positive about it."-
[03:57] <Minaplo> ["I'm playing my guitar more."]
[04:02] <Sept> "Where'd you learn to play?"
[04:03] <Minaplo> ["Eulalia learned it first. There were guys who played it. She learned it from them. I think she started because she wanted to impress them, but she grew to like it properly in the end. I liked it right from the start."-
[04:03] <Minaplo> ["But it might be fun to play it in order to impress someone else."]
[04:09] <Sept> "I think it can certainly be a good motivator."
[04:13] <Minaplo> ["Yes."-
[04:14] <Minaplo> ["Will you tell me about yourself now?"]
[04:16] <Sept> "Huh? Like what?"
[04:17] <Minaplo> ["I want to get to know you better." Said Eufemia. "I need things beyond us being the same."]
[04:22] <Sept> "Right. I don't know what that means. I play music as well, I guess?"
[04:22] <Minaplo> ["Yes?"]
[04:24] <Sept> "Yes. Piccolo and violin."
[04:24] <Minaplo> ["Oh. Hm!"]
[04:28] <Sept> "The flute I learned in school, Aline taught me the basics of violin later. Practiced a bunch by myself."
[04:30] <Minaplo> ["That's very cool."]
[04:32] <Sept> "I liked playing music. I hope I can keep doing it."
[04:34] <Minaplo> ["I do too. Both of those."]
[04:42] <Sept> "Hmm," Sera said. He adjusted the hood of his coat and looked towards the sun, still shining down from the same position it had for the past 40-odd hours.
[04:43] <Minaplo> ["Are you having trouble sleeping?"]
[04:48] * Sept laughed, suddenly, catching himself off-guard.-
[04:50] <Sept> "No, no, not at all. Me and sleep are just taking a break right now. While I get everything sorted. I couldn't let myself throw time to waste in a situation like this. This is something else I like to do."
[04:52] <Minaplo> ["Hmm."]
[04:56] <Sept> "I'm good at the sprint to the finish line. Or what I think is the finish line, anyway."
[04:57] <Minaplo> ["Useful. I'm more of a marathon runner, metaphorically."-
[04:58] <Minaplo> ["… It would have been better if I'd been with you all from the start."]
[05:04] <Sept> "Yeah. But then, you would've just been sitting in South America. We can't unite the pilots, that would be dangerous, don't be stupid, Sera."-
[05:04] <Sept> "Fucking politicians."
[05:04] <Minaplo> ["Yes, fucking politicians, but I don't mean it like that. Being with you the same way Yanmei was."]
[05:07] <Sept> "…"-
[05:07] <Sept> "Hm."
[05:08] <Minaplo> ["I don't know how to explain it. I'm new. Cav isn't very old, only about eight months." She said. "But I see the rest of you. You're all amazing… And you have this unsaid cameraderie. Something I'll never have. I want it, though."]
[05:18] * Sept made a sound like clearing his throat, then turned away to take another sip of coffee.-
[05:19] <Sept> "I-I don't know what to say to that. I think they all start with "don't", though?"
[05:20] <Minaplo> ["I want to anyway. I like wanting things."]
[05:25] <Sept> "Right. I… I guess you can do that. But I wouldn't wish this on anyone."
[05:26] <Minaplo> ["I know. I can see it. You all have scars, that's obvious even without knowing your history. Yet I can't help but be envious of that intimacy."]
[05:34] <Sept> "What intimacy?"
[15:43] <Minaplo> ["It sounds grisly, but you have all suffered together." Said Eufemia. "And conquered together. Experiences no one else can share, or really understand. The only ones who can are those who were part of it from the beginning."]
[15:53] <Sept> "But that goes for everyone everywhere!"
[15:55] <Minaplo> ["Not everyone everywhere is a Cavaleiro pilot."]
[16:01] * Sept stared at the sky for a few moments before the words registered, and he grumbled.-
[16:01] <Sept> "You can name it yourself when you make your own robot beast."
[16:04] <Minaplo> ["I wasn't referring to the Evangelions." She said.]
[16:06] <Sept> "Oh. Well, there's a bunch of war heroes and Eva pilots in the world."
[16:06] <Minaplo> ["And only one Cavaleiro pilot."]
[16:12] <Sept> "S-so what?"
[16:13] <Minaplo> ["I didn't care before, but now I do. I'm lonely."]
[16:19] <Sept> "There's no way you can't make friends here. There's plenty of pilots who were stationed by themselves, too."
[16:20] <Minaplo> ["Like who?"]
[16:25] <Sept> "Like… Um."-
[16:25] <Sept> "I guess they're all dead… Oh, Asuka!"-
[16:25] <Sept> "…oh. Asuka."
[16:29] <Minaplo> [Eufemia stared at him, her eyes wide. She blinked rapidly a few times.]
[16:33] <Sept> "Well, I was wrong again. Congratulations, you're gonna die lonely."
[16:39] <Minaplo> ["That's a horrible thing to say."]
[16:43] * Sept shrugged.-
[16:43] <Sept> "So, do something about it."
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["I was hoping you'd be more helpful."-
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["Fine."-
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["Give me all of your coffee."]
[16:53] <Sept> "Haha, no. I'm getting back to work right after this, and I'd crash in five minutes."
[16:54] <Minaplo> ["Wasn't asking. Give it to me or I'll rename you."]
[16:57] <Sept> "People do that all the time. That's not a threat."
[16:58] <Minaplo> ["Fine. Give me your coffee and your work, and then go sleep. I'll do all of it."]
[17:00] <Sept> "Nuh-uh. Has to be me."
[17:01] <Minaplo> ["All of it has to be you? Every bit of it?"]
[17:10] <Sept> "Every last bit. Sorry."
[17:12] <Minaplo> ["Like what?"]
[17:18] <Sept> "Like making sure 01 is working right."
[17:20] <Minaplo> ["What does that involve?"]
[17:23] <Sept> "Well, we did a test synchronization, and it seemed okay, so now I'm going through all of the data to make sure."
[17:24] <Minaplo> ["Do you really think it won't work?"]
[17:26] <Sept> "…"
[17:28] <Minaplo> ["I think you know 01 better than that." Said Eufemia, taking a mouthful of coffee. "It's not really about technology or data or readouts. It's about trust."]
[17:32] <Sept> "Yeah, but I've got his soul now. It's a bit different."
[17:33] <Minaplo> ["Different, but not actually worse. You have his soul. That means it'll always work for you."]
[17:37] <Sept> "You'd think it would. Look."-
[17:38] <Minaplo> ["Just saying that I'm right."]
[17:41] <Sept> "I don't care! I-I just came here to check if you were okay, because I've screwed up people's lives with things like that before. So just stop analyzing me, alright? There's a psychologist on the ship for that."
[17:45] <Minaplo> ["If you came to check up on me, you shouldn't have said I was going to die lonely. That really hurt."]
[17:53] <Sept> "That- that is obviously not true, you're surrounded by so many people. Every single person on this ship will be taken care of."
[17:54] <Minaplo> ["Like you've never stood in a crowd and felt isolated?"]
[18:01] <Sept> "Of course I have. This is- look, just get to the point. I don't like being played with."
[18:02] <Minaplo> ["There is no point. I feel lonely and vulnerable. I admitted that openly. You responsed in a sarcastic and cruel way. I wasn't trying to get you to do anything. I was just talking about how I felt."]
[18:09] <Sept> "I see. Right, um. Give me a moment, okay?"
[18:10] <Minaplo> ["Okay."]
[18:19] * Sept clutched his head, ruffled his hair vigorously and looked out at the deck for about a full minute.-
[18:20] <Minaplo> [The wind caught the hair and blew it around. It was majestic as fuck.]
[18:26] <Sept> "Here's how I feel about this. I want to be friends with you. I'm not going to be around for much longer, so I think that would be stupid, so I'd rather see you build lasting bonds. I know for a fact that if you approach the pilots, the Neos, or the ex-NERV staff, they'll welcome you and understand you. You're not alone at all."
[18:27] <Minaplo> ["Okay. Is it okay if I have some help from you? Nothing intensive. You have some badness going on. Sorry."]
[18:34] <Sept> "It's always okay to ask. What is it?"
[18:34] <Minaplo> ["Who should I start with?"]
[18:36] <Sept> "I think you and Tsubaki would get along well."
[18:39] <Minaplo> ["Who else?"]
[18:48] <Sept> "Misato Katsuragi is a handful, but she means well, I think. She knows all of the Japanese pilots well. First superheavy regiment, Alexandre and the others. He… takes social advice very seriously sometimes, but he means well, too."
[18:50] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. I hope he lives."]
[18:55] <Sept> "I… do, too. Didn't mean to bring up sad stuff again, sorry."
[18:56] <Minaplo> ["It's good. It's natural that you'd think of him, because you're giving me social advice. Who else?"]
[19:03] <Sept> "I don't really know. Some people have bands on board, or they just perform by themselves somewhere on the promenade. Look for stuff through your interests."
[19:03] <Minaplo> ["Okay."]
[19:21] <Sept> "It'll be better, you know. I can promise that."
[19:21] <Minaplo> ["Thank you. I trust you on that."]
[19:21] <Sept> "Thanks."
[19:23] <Minaplo> ["…"]
[19:27] <Sept> "Well. That'll do it for my break," Sera said, standing up from the bench with effort. "I'm gonna get back to it."
[19:27] <Minaplo> ["Okay."]
[19:29] <Sept> "If you need anything or want advice on something, you can still come find me. And I'll… call you if I need help?"
[19:29] <Minaplo> ["Sounds good."]
[19:32] <Sept> "Great. Take care, Eufemia."
[19:32] <Minaplo> ["I will. You too."]
[19:35] * Sept nodded, cached his empty thermos and cup and walked off with a weight to his steps.
[19:36] <Minaplo> [Before he could leave earshot, Eufemia picked up her guitar and played, a quiet, soulful little tune.]

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