Cherry Blossom Procession 4 7 16

[17:45] * Sept raised the visor of his welding mask and took a long look at the seam between plates. It looked more or less the same as the others, which was what Sera had to go by in finalizing the Iron Guard Scout Armor. It was far from tested enough to be ready for anything other than a trial run, but it was another project for Sera to pass his time with.-
[17:48] <Sept> Aleksandr's workshop in Technical was quiet, and seemed more spacious without his booming voice to contend with. Sera took off his mask, shut off the gas flow and sat down by the large workbench lining one wall of the room, littered with tools and technical illustrations of weaponry.
[17:58] <Raphael> He wouldn't have long to enjoy the peace and quiet, judging by the steady sound of approaching footfalls that became audible once his tools were quieted. Soon enough Raphael appeared in the doorway, dressed in a fresh uniform, a thick, heavy-looking binder of papers tucked beneath his arm.-
[17:59] <Raphael> "Pilot de Pteres," he said. He looked a little wary - maybe even nervous? - but he offered a respectful nod nonetheless. "Colonel Surova said I might find you here."
[18:02] <Sept> "Oh, Raphael." Sera spun around on the stool to face him, his expression blank. "Whaddya need?"
[18:09] <Raphael> "I had some questions, while we still have time." he said, giving the binder a pat with his free hand. "Could you spare a moment?"
[18:12] <Sept> "I'd be happy to — I can only pretend to be busy for so long before I go crazy. Have a seat if you'd like?"
[18:30] <Raphael> "Thank you."-
[18:30] <Raphael> He reached for a chair, only to pause as he registered its size. "… ah. This was a Techmarine lab?"
[18:35] <Sept> "Yeah. I'm apprenticing for Aleks- the not French one. He's a bit of a character."
[18:37] * Raphael dragged the chair a little closer and took a seat, not minding that it was a ridiculous visual. "He survived the coup?"
[18:43] <Sept> "Yeah, he's doing okay in jail. Lucky, I guess?"
[18:46] <Raphael> "By the standards of the day, I suppose."-
[18:47] <Raphael> He hesitated, then tried again. "… good work with Akagi."
[18:51] * Sept smirked. "You're fucking right it was. Couldn't have done it without Rei, but I think I did alright, too."
[19:10] <Raphael> A pause. A frown. With a moment's effort he seemed able to dismiss it.-
[19:10] <Raphael> "Yes. Well."-
[19:11] <Raphael> "I had questions regarding what happens when we're done with the Synfront."
[19:11] <Sept> "Oh, alright. Go ahead."
[19:15] <Raphael> "You… as Ezekiel explained to me, the intent is to unify the element of Cai— Elisha's self - including you - and in doing so recreate a messianic FAR entity, who will act out the rest of the plan. Is that a fair summation?"
[19:19] <Sept> "Yes," Sera replied slowly. "The amount of agency is contingent on other things. But yes."
[19:21] * Raphael nodded. "But you are… still a representative element, yes? What you know now, the FAR should know also."
[19:24] <Sept> "All reasonable opinions point to yes. A comforting way to think about it would be that I, as the most alive and whole fragment, would be more than just background data in this arrangement."
[19:25] <Raphael> "Good, good."-
[19:26] <Raphael> "I had a request then, Mr. de Pteres," he said carefully. "Would you be willing to carry a message for me? To whatever that being may be."
[19:31] * Sept took a deep breath, considering it. Then, he nodded.-
[19:31] <Sept> "Sure."
[19:33] * Raphael just nodded for a moment, but then seemed to change tack. "What do you want from this, Sera? Just freedom from Destiny, or is there more to it than that?"-
[19:34] <Raphael> "I know you and I disagree on some of what's to come, but I'd genuinely like to understand."
[19:44] <Sept> "Hm. Well, yes. Destiny's yoke is a part of my personal reasons. Even then, I could have dropped all of this at almost any point if I really wanted my own life that bad. I could have. But I didn't, because there's things that I believe in, like most people. I'll… see if I can put this as unambiguously as possible."-
[19:48] <Sept> "I want humanity and Angels both to do well. That means they have to both be better than they are now, because- well, it's not like pointless wars and everything will disappear by subduing Lilith and Adam. I believe that betterment comes from awareness, or clarity. If we can lift the fog that prevents us from seeing anything other than ourselves, we may have a chance."-
[19:49] <Sept> "Does that get you anywhere?"
[19:54] <Raphael> "It does," he said. "Thank you."-
[19:55] <Raphael> "Does that clarity, as you put it, require us to be remade? And if it does, would it even be "humanity" on the other side?" he asked. His voice was even and polite, and he watched Sera with interest. "Ikari liked to go on about how we were defined by our imperfection, our limitations, moreso than anything else. We were accidents at our root."-
[19:56] <Raphael> "I think I agree with him, even if I disagree with his conclusions after that."
[20:05] <Sept> "Well." Sera made a difficult expression, then caught himself.-
[20:06] <Sept> "And that didn't mean I'm lying or disagreeing with you, it's just that things this big always have conditions, okay? Give me a second," he said, tapping his fingers together.
[20:06] * Raphael nodded and waited.
[20:16] <Sept> "Okay. Remake? Yes, but only- "only" in the sense that you're already familiar with. Humanity? I would say it's still humanity. Maybe it'll finally be humanity? The internal and interpersonal contradictions and complexities are at the core of humanity. The external struggle — famine, pestilence — I don't think those have done us any favors. We could do with less. The AT Field offers
[20:16] <Sept> us an… easy and sustainable solution, without erasing hardships in the way that led to the FAR's stagnation."
[20:19] <Raphael> Another, slower nod as he processed that. "Alright. I can certainly see where you're coming from in that. If it's something you already have to do to release us from Lilith, we may as well get what we can from the exchange, right?"
[20:24] <Sept> "It can be a dangerous line of thinking. But yes. Something I want to emphasize, though."-
[20:26] <Sept> "I won't do it alone. I need everyone to come to an agreement about this. If they can't, humanity can judge me as they see fit and find another way. That's the only way this works."
[20:29] * Raphael seemed to relax, and for a moment he looked unmistakeably relieved. "Good. Excellent. I hoped that would be the case…"-
[20:31] * Raphael took a moment to collect his thoughts, then rapped his knuckles against the lid of the binder laid across his knees. "The message I would like you to carry forward - to your FAR self and the planet as a whole - is that we have more than way to sever ourselves from Destiny. We have a choice."
[20:33] <Sept> "Ah." Sera straightened up a little. "What are those?"
[20:35] <Raphael> "Elisha's way, and Azariah's way," he said.-
[20:35] <Raphael> "The second method has already been applied to me."
[20:37] <Sept> "Huh?"
[20:38] <Raphael> "Azariah Caine severed me from Destiny immediately before his death," Raphael said seriously. "I didn't know until Mortens hinted at it, but it's been independently confirmed by people I trust in the time since then."
[20:43] <Sept> "Hm. Is there anything more you can tell me about it? The circumstances, the method, the effects?"
[20:49] <Raphael> He handed the binder to Sera. If he were to look inside, Sera would find pages of reports and recovered sources, some dating back to the LN and beyond. He would recognize some of the work as Surov's, and there was occasional handwriting in the margins that had to have been Tsubaki's.-
[20:50] <Raphael> "That's everything we could find. Incomplete, but the last time I spoke with Akagi she said it should be enough to go on," he said quietly. "It's a kind of seal around the soul - Mortens called it the Aegis - but writing it requires the power of a Seed. Without it, the best we can manage is a shallow imitation."
[20:51] <Raphael> "Azariah did it with the Cradle, but Shinji can't repeat it."
[20:55] * Sept leafed through the pages, frowning a little.-
[20:56] <Sept> "…interesting. I believe you. Can I… borrow this?"
[20:59] <Raphael> "It's yours," he said simply. "Surov processed most of the data himself, in case we couldn't trust standard security. Only half a dozen people before you knew about this, and I'd prefer it stayed that way."
[21:00] <Sept> "Ah. I understand. I'll burn it or cache it or something."
[21:02] * Raphael inclined his head. "Thank you."-
[21:02] <Raphael> "May I be honest, Sera?"
[21:04] * Sept reluctantly took his eyes off the pages and looked up at Raphael. "Of course."
[21:11] <Raphael> "We've had our differences, but I genuinely do believe you when you say you want the best for us. I want the same thing," he said plainly. "Personally? I don't want to be remade in Elisha Caine's image."-
[21:11] <Raphael> "Even so, all I ask is that you give our species the choice. If they decide on Elisha's way, so be it. If they decide to stay flawed and imperfect and human, so be it. We deserve to rule ourselves for once. That's all."
[21:16] * Sept nodded slowly, and stayed quiet for a while.-
[21:16] <Sept> "Guess there's nothing I can say to change your mind."
[21:19] * Raphael shook his head. "But I'm not the only one with a vote. There will be plenty who side with you, I'm sure."
[21:28] <Sept> "Hah, of course. I don't know if it's any comfort, but I do agree with you."
[21:32] <Raphael> "Why does it matter what I think, Pilot?" he asked, tilting his head. "I promise the question's not facetious, I really don't understand why it should."
[21:46] <Sept> "No, I- that's what I'm getting at. I wouldn't vote for it, either. It doesn't matter what we think, we'll still have to make a decision with everyone."-
[21:52] <Sept> "It's just that since you've made your decision, it's okay for me to say that. I don't want to put into action a plan I didn't make, be held accountable for unfathomable crimes I didn't commit and irreversibly change a world I haven't learned to understand. That's just about the most unfair thing I can think of."
[21:59] <Raphael> "Oh," it was a very small sound that seemed to be trying to to communicate a great deal.-
[21:59] <Raphael> "I-… yes, sir. I'd say it is," he said eventually, real sympathy in his voice.
[22:03] * Sept didn't give any particular reaction to that.-
[22:06] <Sept> "But I'm glad there was someone besides Albus still capable of speaking for Azariah, in whatever roundabout way." Sera raised his chin slightly. "And that makes me even more confident I can go do my goddamn best, which is a lot, and the correct choice will win out."
[22:13] * Raphael gave a faint smile. "Well sir, I'm pleased to offer whatever small bit of help I can. I suspect you'll all need it."
[22:16] <Sept> "I imagine we will. Thanks for the help, in any case."
[22:23] <Raphael> "Happy to," he said, and as he stood he offered out a hand.-
[22:23] <Raphael> "I hope every version of you gets a world they can be happy with, Sera," he said. "Especially the one who tried to hustle me at pool. I liked him."
[22:26] <Sept> "Time will tell, eh?" Sera hopped down and shook his hand firmly.
[22:29] <Raphael> "I'd imagine so, sir," he said. "Enjoy your evening, Pilot de Pteres. I'll see you out there tomorrow."-
[22:29] <Raphael> He turned for the door.
[22:30] <Sept> "Mhm, you too," said Sera, turning back to the table to leaf through the binder.

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