De Orleans Friendship

06[08:02] * Yanmei had gone with one of her nicer outfits today - a pretty, fluttery pale green dress with matching low-heeled shoes. Her hair was pulled back into a low ponytale at the base of her neck, and she was wearing her 'business face' and she walked the halls. -
01[08:07] <Yanmei> She breezed past a few vacant officer quarters before coming to one with a pair of sentries stationed outside of it, checking the clipboard she carried with her to make sure it was the right room number and giving both men easy smiles. "Hello. May I go in to say hello to her?"
[08:12] <Minaplo> [The two sentries saluted in unison. "Of course, sir!"]
06[08:15] * Yanmei returned the salute, of course, and then went for the door, knocking on it first to give the person inside a heads up. She opened it swiftly, stepped inside with a chirpy 'Good morning!', and let it close behind her.
[08:19] <Minaplo> [The room within was clean and, much like the other 'guest' rooms, luxurious bordering on extravagant. A huge four-poster bed with silky curtains, a gilded vanity table…-
[08:21] <Minaplo> [One of the walls was a glorious fresco, with Silas Caine sitting centre-point, naked but for a dazzling and extremely long cloth-of-gold robe that covered his lower boder and was draped over one shoulder, a green laurel sitting in his hair, a sceptre lying in the crook of his arm. It had the effect of making him look both underdressed yet overdressed.-
[08:24] <Minaplo> [Surrounding him were his family and allies in various divine-like forms, his father sitting opposite him, dressed in a similar way yet with a much less ornate robe; a pretty but unassuming woman whom was assumedly his mother stood behind him. Amidst the small crowd Yanmei could recognise a few others. Elisha, most intriguingly, wearing a white and purple toga; several other people he didn't
[08:24] <Minaplo> recognise; as well as three girls who were recognisably Ayanamis, each one dressed identifiably as Athena, Aphrodite and Artemis, with Aphrodite-nami being almost completely naked except for a golden sash around her waist.-
[08:24] <Minaplo> [Yanmei's attention would be drawn, however, to a notable commotion in the room.-
[08:26] <Minaplo> [Hannelore Kriemhild Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was standing in the centre of her room, clutching tightly onto a vacuum cleaner.-
[08:29] <Minaplo> [The trick was that there was something -else- clutching it as well. A Brother-hologram, trying to pry it from her grasp- or she was trying to pry it from his. They wrestled over it furiously.-
[08:29] <Minaplo> [In the background, another Brother-gram was cleaning a mirror.]
01[08:30] <Yanmei> That earned a very long and confused stare. "H-Hannelore?"
[08:30] <Minaplo> ["Help me!"]
01[08:35] <Yanmei> "Terminate Brothers!" She said loudly.
[08:36] <Minaplo> [And with that, the Brothers simply vanished. Hohenzollern nearly tumbled backward from overcompensation, whilst over by the mirror, a cleaning rag and a bottle of glass cleaning spray fell to the ground.]
01[08:40] <Yanmei> And Yanmei hurried across the room to her. "You okay? What was -that- about?"
[08:42] <Minaplo> ["Stupid battleship crap." She grumbled, grabbing Yanmei's hand and pulling herself up.-
[08:42] <Minaplo> [She was wearing a familiar, fashionable black turtleneck sweater and pair of jeans, but she was only wearing black socks- no shoes.-
[08:42] <Minaplo> ["It's a bit of a long story, it can probably wait. Sorry about that."]
01[08:44] <Yanmei> "Hm." She nodded uncertainly. "Are you okay to talk for a minute? There are some things I need to ask you?"
[08:44] <Minaplo> ["Yeah? Hold on, let's sit down."-
[08:45] <Minaplo> [She glanced over to the bed. "Or we could lay down. I mean, it's such a -big- bed, it'd be a shame not to use it."]
06[08:46] * Yanmei tsked. "I'm on the job, you know~ If it looks like I'm napping, the Colonel will yell at me."
[08:51] <Minaplo> ["Do you mind if I lay on the bed, then?" She grinned.]
06[08:55] * Yanmei gestured towards it amicably, as if to say 'feel free'. She pulled the stool from the vanity closer to the bed for herself, and perched on it.
[08:56] <Minaplo> [Hannelore jumped onto the bed, planting face-first.-
[08:56] <Minaplo> [She lay still for a minute, then flopped over, waving her arms up and down as though she was making snow angels.-
[08:56] <Minaplo> ["God, this is amazing."-
[08:57] <Minaplo> [Clearly delighted, she put her hands under her head and found a more comfortable spot. "So what does Zhang Yanmei need from this… Prisoner? Defector?"]
01[08:58] <Yanmei> "Well, first of all, I was checking in to make sure you were comfortable and unharmed? I mean, how did you fare during the big battle?"
[09:00] <Minaplo> ["Unharmed." She grinned. "You should've seen it, actually. It was pretty great."-
[09:02] <Minaplo> ["See, at first I was in Operations, right, sitting in the Commander's Centre with Raskova and a squad of Stormtroopers. As the battle started getting really bad, I told Raskova to go and join the fight with the bodyguard. She was hesitant, but she did so."-
[09:03] <Minaplo> ["Then I turned on the Centre's defenses and recessed into the ground, and then watched it all unfold. I saw Hauptmann escape, off with some Adepts so he could dirac out, your Marines and some Iron Guard storm Ops…-
[09:03] <Minaplo> ["Then somehow, someone managed to activate my console and force it to rise out of the ground!" She laughed.-
[09:03] <Minaplo> ["I wasn't exactly worried about losing, but I was scared now, because I had no idea how they'd treat me, you know."-
[09:03] <Minaplo> ["And then I hear a gun cock behind me and turn around, and you know who I saw?"]
01[09:04] <Yanmei> "Who?" She did a quick count of the people she'd seen in the battered, broken Bridge that day. "Katsuragi?"
[09:05] <Minaplo> ["Nope!" She laughed harder.-
[09:05] <Minaplo> "Get this: it was Ginevre Fontaine herself! What was she doing there on the front line anyway?"-
[09:05] <Minaplo> ["But she had armour on, and she had a gun, and it was pointed at me." She leaned in towards Yanmei. "Do you know what she said?"-
[09:05] <Minaplo> ["'You're sitting in my chair.'"]
06[09:07] * Yanmei pulled back slightly, hand over her mouth. It was pretty obvious that she was trying hard not to burst out laughing herself. "A-and then?"
[09:08] <Minaplo> ["Then I wet myself."]
01[09:08] <Yanmei> "S-seriously?"
[09:10] <Minaplo> ["I was slightly drunk, and… Look, if you'd seen her eyes at that point… I was completely convinced that she was gonna shoot me right then and there. So I kinda lost control, and after that I just began to sob." She laughed a little more.-
[09:10] <Minaplo> ["I dunno what it was. I just was thinking, 'I'm the third Commander of NERV… And my command ends with me captured in my own office, pissing myself.'"]
01[09:12] <Yanmei> "In front of your predecessor, no less? I had no idea they'd even let her go out there!"
[09:17] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, well… They did."-
[09:17] <Minaplo> [She flopped back onto the bed. "Then they brought me here."]
01[09:19] <Yanmei> "Sorry," she said awkwardly. "I know it was insanely stressful? Probably still is."
[09:20] <Minaplo> ["Hmm…"-
[09:20] <Minaplo> ["You know, I'm not so sure." Hohenzollern stared at the roof. "It's been a strange week."]
06[09:24] * Yanmei watched her for a second, and then glanced down at her clipboard. "We were thinking about offering you some work? Sitting in the same room will eventually get boring no matter how -" she eyed the fresco "- interesting the accomodations are initially."
[09:26] <Minaplo> ["Agreed. Although," She sat up. "That fresco's been entertaining me for -days-. Okay, maybe more 'intrigued' than entertained. Like, I keep asking… Why is the Ayanami naked?"]
01[09:31] <Yanmei> "Oh god. You haven't seen anything yet." Yanmei rolled his eyes. "Silas Caine had a thing for them and his followers felt the need to express it in their artwork over and over again? Apparently he was okay with being nude a lot himself, too."
[09:31] <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah, I've noticed. I don't mind that, honestly, you know." She said brightly.-
[09:34] <Minaplo> ["But I just keep wondering… Are those measurements accurate? How do they keep their forms so trim and perfect? And…"-
[09:35] <Minaplo> ["… Elisha's in there, too. I tried to ruin him somehow, but the painting just cleaned itself. It was incredibly lame."]
01[09:39] <Yanmei> "It does that. If it helps, lots of people have just hang curtains or rugs over the artwork in their rooms. You could request one easily."
[09:40] <Minaplo> ["I'll keep that in mind. Er, sorry. You were actually asking me something before I got distracted by nude clones?"]
01[09:44] <Yanmei> "Yup. A job. You have your pick? You could work in technical, which would be pretty awesome given your background, or you could join a budget task force I'm putting together. Since you've experience allocating funds at your old university and within NERV, you should be able to handle that too."
[09:47] <Minaplo> ["What else ya got?"]
01[09:50] <Yanmei> "Eh? You're not interested in either of those?"
[09:56] <Minaplo> ["Just want to see my full options."]
01[09:58] <Yanmei> "That's pretty much what we've got? Unless you have some ideas yourself." Yanmei pondered. "We'd put you on diplomacy duty, but there's a big risk of Caine going after you if you set foot outside the ship."
[10:02] <Minaplo> ["You're mean."-
[10:02] <Minaplo> ["You say I have my pick… Of two options! One is working in the technical division, the other is accounting."]
01[10:11] <Yanmei> "Those were the options we came up. Here. What do you want to do? If you tell me, we can work something out. Advising? Marketing? We could transfer you to do some personnel management in another base, I'll bet."
[10:14] <Minaplo> ["Well…" She frowned.-
[10:15] <Minaplo> ["Here's the problem. What am I, Yanmei? At the centre of it all, in my heart, I'm a mathematician and a Meta-biologist. I'm not a leader, or a diplomat. I can organise things, sure. So… Ugh, I would be good for -either- of the jobs you chose, it's just…"-
[10:15] <Minaplo> ["Well, it's Surov."]
01[10:16] <Yanmei> "He's not an easy man to work with," she said sympathetically.
[10:17] <Minaplo> ["He's bossy and creepy. If you want me to work in Technical, then the only way I'll accept is if you make me head of Technical completely."]
01[10:25] <Yanmei> "That won't work?" she said unhappily. "As much as I wouldn't mind demoting him, I can't shake up our current operations like that. The tech crews are stressed enough as is. What about the accounting angle?"
[10:25] <Minaplo> ["Mmmf." She gave Yanmei a dark look. "Fine. But if a better job opens up, you better give it to me right away!"]
01[10:27] <Yanmei> "Of course I will! Don't worry."
[10:27] <Minaplo> ["I appreciate it."]
06[10:30] * Yanmei scribbled a few things down in her notes. "Um. There was something else I wanted to ask you. Strictly off the books, of course."
[10:30] <Minaplo> ["Yeah?"]
01[10:31] <Yanmei> "You knew Gilles de Orleans pretty well? So… I wanted to ask what you thought of him as a person."
[10:33] <Minaplo> ["De Orleans? Why?"]
06[10:37] * Yanmei lowered her clipboard slowly. "I've been asking myself questions lately. About his loyalty? He was always good to me, and it always seemed like he was using his power to fight against Caine, but maybe that's just what he wanted me to believe. Do you know what I mean?"
03[10:37] * ZackSleep is now known as Zack
[10:38] <Minaplo> ["Mmm… Yeah, I do. De Orleans always wanted to make himself look like your friend, no matter what."]
01[10:38] <Yanmei> "Do you think he really was my friend?" She looked a little troubled now, frowning slightly.
[10:40] <Minaplo> ["… I'm not sure. But…"-
[10:41] <Minaplo> [She sighed. "It's cynical, but people who try to live through life by befriending everyone rarely become that powerful without stabbing a few of them in the back."]
01[10:44] <Yanmei> "I can believe it. That's just the way the world is?" -
01[10:45] <Yanmei> She was quiet for a few more beats. "He and Caine never -seemed- very chummy, but then again the whole HIC seemed to hate each other? I wonder what's happened to him…"
[10:48] <Minaplo> ["He's probably… You know."]
01[10:49] <Yanmei> "Yeah."
[10:50] <Minaplo> ["I'm… Not gonna come down in judgement either way. In the end, you don't really want to know whether he intended to betray you or not, does it?"-
[10:51] <Minaplo> <Do you*>
[10:54] <Minaplo> ["In the end, it all comes down to this: Either you think he was a good man, or he wasn't. If he was a good man, and there should be no doubt in your mind that he was loyal to you. Or he was not, in which case, it does not matter what he thought of you."]
01[10:56] <Yanmei> "Thank you." Yanmei stood up. "You're probably right? It helps to think of things that way."
[10:56] <Minaplo> ["Heh. I actually helped…?"]
01[10:57] <Yanmei> "Yup!" Yanmei grinned at her. "Maybe I should put 'motivational speaker' down as a possible job option for you…"
[10:57] <Minaplo> ["Hah! No sell."]
01[11:04] <Yanmei> "Hehe. You know what I -will- do? I'll talk to Marianne about lightening up the guard around here and just giving you a standard bodyguard. Frankly, the guys outside have been more about your own protection than anything."
[11:04] <Minaplo> ["Oh really~?"]
01[11:04] <Yanmei> "Really~ You're not convinced?"
[11:05] <Minaplo> ["No! I'm just wondering… If the guys outside are for my protection, and you're lightening up the guard… Does that mean you want me vulnerable?"]
01[11:06] <Yanmei> "I just want you to be able to move around freely and take in all the wonderful artwork this ship has to offer."
[11:06] <Minaplo> ["Tsk."]
06[11:07] * Yanmei chuckled. "I'll be in touch, okay?"
[11:07] <Minaplo> ["Wait, you're going?"]
01[11:08] <Yanmei> "Yeah. There are a few more people I have to meet with today. And then it's all paperwork and endless phone calls…"
[11:08] <Minaplo> ["Heh. Get used to it, but."-
[11:08] <Minaplo> ["You don't want to hear about what happened when you came in?"]
01[11:10] <Yanmei> "… as unbelievable as it seems? I'd nearly forgetten about that." She reclaimed her seat, now deeply amused. "What -were- you doing?"
[11:10] <Minaplo> ["It all began last night."]
06[11:12] * Yanmei nodded, following along curiously.
[11:12] <Minaplo> ["I was a little… You know. Down."]
01[11:13] <Yanmei> "Right. Understandable?"
[11:14] <Minaplo> ["Right, right. And the last few nights, I've been… You know. Having a few drinks."]
06[11:16] * Yanmei nodded slowly. Where was this leading exactly?
[11:30] <Minaplo> ["Last night… I was down to my last bottle. I uncorked it and was getting ready to pour it into the glass, when I looked up and saw myself in the mirror." She pointed at the mirror the Brother had been cleaning.-
[11:32] <Minaplo> ["And… I hated it. I hated what I saw. Here was this going-nowhere woman, a failure… Just nothing but a shadow of who I used to be. I threw the glass at the mirror, it went everywhere…"-
[11:34] <Minaplo> ["The shards… I wasn't hurt, but I was so surprised that I dropped the wine bottle, and it cracked."-
[11:35] <Minaplo> [She laughed a little to herself. "I went to bed… Probably the first night in a long time where I haven't been drunk doing so. I thought about all kinds of things."-
[11:35] <Minaplo> ["About how stupid it was to lose control, how powerless I was… How ashamed I was that I'd just turned into some drunk."-
[11:36] <Minaplo> ["Then…" She became even more solemn, serious. "It came to me at midnight, Yanmei, like a flash out of nowhere. I realised that it wasn't that I was ashamed for being a drunk at all."-
[11:36] <Minaplo> ["I really began to drink shortly after I joined NERV, after I realised what I was a part of, what my role truly was, the effects of what I was doing. I drunk because I was ashamed, Yanmei."-
[11:40] <Minaplo> ["I decided today, this morning, that… That was it. That part of my life was behind me. I was going to get some help, cut back on the wine, and start to take control, start being part of something I believed in."-
[11:40] <Minaplo> [She smiled.]
01[11:44] <Yanmei> And Yanmei smiled back at her, warmly. -
01[11:45] <Yanmei> "I'm hoping we're worthy of being that something. I promise, I at least, will try my hardest."
[11:47] <Minaplo> ["Thank you."-
[12:03] <Minaplo> ["… Anyway, as for how that story comes to the scene you saw today, I decided I'd clean up my own mess. So I tried to ferret about for a vacuum cleaner, but then the two Brothers just came through the door carrying that cleaning crap with them. I wanted to do it myself, you know? But… By the time you came in, they were already done…"]
01[12:11] <Yanmei> "Sorry about that… they're just programed to do that sort of stuff?" Yanmei absently smoothed down her hair. "But I'm happy to help any other way I can? Do you need to schedule an appointment with Castillo or anything, or so you think you're good?"
[12:12] <Minaplo> ["I think I can handle that myself, but I wouldn't mind you coming to visit me~"]
01[12:14] <Yanmei> "Consider it done? You can come by and visit me any time too, once we get the guard stuff sorted out~"
[12:14] <Minaplo> ["Right!"]
06[22:25] * Yanmei said her goodbyes warmly, and before long was in the hallway again. She didn't have far to go this time. The door she was looking for was practically right around the corner, with another lone sentry sitting outside of it. She smiled and saluted. "Hi!"
[22:30] <Minaplo> [He saluted. "Captain Zhang, sir!"]
01[22:32] <Yanmei> "Thanks for the hard work. I'm going in to talk with them for a little while."
[22:32] <Minaplo> ["Yes, sir!"]
01[22:33] <Yanmei> So Yanmei knocked gently, just as she had with Hohenzollern's room, paused a moment, and then entered. "Miss Lucille?"
[22:37] <Minaplo> [This room was somewhat plainer than Hohenzollern's. There were no frescoes of divine Silases, smug Elishas or nude Ayanamis here. It was more akin to a high-quality but sensible apartment. Two good beds, a television, an en suite, a bookcase…-
[22:37] <Minaplo> [There were three, four depending on your definition, people in here.-
[22:38] <Minaplo> [Lucille, wearing simple long pants and a white t-shirt, was sitting at a desk, working on a computer- she'd turned around at the knock.-
[22:39] <Minaplo> [Two little girls were sitting on a bed, talking- Padma, who didn't look at Yanmei directly when she came in but made constant furtive glances towards her; and next to her, Eevi, who was much more animated and open.-
[22:42] <Minaplo> [And of course, where there was Eevi, there was Felix, lying paws-up on the carpet, rolling back and forth trying to scratch an itch on his back.-
[22:42] <Minaplo> ["Mademoiselle Zhang," Began Lucille, standing up.]
01[22:44] <Yanmei> "Please, relax. I came to see how you both were doing." She paused at the tiger, and then smiled at the two girls. "Hello Miss Padma. Eevi."
[22:51] <Minaplo> ["Hello!" Said Eevi, smiling.-
[22:51] <Minaplo> ["…" Padma sort of gave Yanmei a side-wave. "Hi."-
[22:51] <Minaplo> [Lucille hesitated, then settled back down. "What can I do for you, Mademoiselle Zhang?"]
06[22:53] * Yanmei found a chair for herself… which was really just the edge of the unoccupied bed. "I'm sorry it's taken me a while to check up on you. Really, I just wanted to talk a bit? How are you finding the accomodations?"
[22:53] <Minaplo> ["Fine, thank you."]
06[22:56] * Yanmei nodded, almost a little absently. They hadn't really had many conversations without de Orleans around. A strange, awkward feeling was building up. -
01[22:56] <Yanmei> "I'm sorry," she said quietly. "About. Well. Everything."
[22:59] <Minaplo> ["Thank you very much." Said Lucille quietly.]
01[23:00] <Yanmei> "Are you okay? Is Padma okay? If you two need anything, you only have to ask for it."
[23:02] <Minaplo> ["We'll manage, I believe."]
06[23:03] * Yanmei nodded again. For a few moments, she lapsed into silence.
[23:05] <Minaplo> ["Thank you for your concern, Mademoiselle Zhang, but what I need right now are answers to questions, and I don't believe you have them."]
01[23:07] <Yanmei> "You mean, like, his whereabouts?" She eyed the computer from her spot, but didn't get much of a view of what was on the screen.
[23:17] <Minaplo> ["That's one. Here's another: why spare Mazarin? I was defenseless, the Prime could've taken two birds with one stone."]
01[23:20] <Yanmei> "He was going to," she said quietly. "That was his original plan."
[23:20] <Minaplo> ["How do you know that?"]
01[23:22] <Yanmei> "Because he told me? Back then, when we were fighting in the hallway." She steeled herself, looking up straight into her eyes. "You have to believe me when I say I tried to save both of them. I thought that if I could defeat the Prime, everyone could get away?"
[23:33] <Minaplo> [She watched Yanmei now with intense, dark eyes.]
01[23:39] <Yanmei> "But I screwed up, and couldn't help anyone." A deep breath. "Leaving one of them was the Prime's idea. So I would 'owe' him and be more inclined to help him with a future request."
[23:40] <Minaplo> ["And he chose de Orleans to take. I see."]
01[23:41] <Yanmei> "No."
[23:41] <Minaplo> ["…"]
01[23:43] <Yanmei> "He… told me to pick one."
[23:43] <Minaplo> ["And you chose de Orleans. Why?"]
01[23:50] <Yanmei> "…" She gazed at her, trying to read her. It was an oddly reasonable question, given the circumstances. "I didn't -want- to pick either of them. They both helped me? Both guided and befriended me. But Padma, I thought, at least had you if something happened. What would happen to Henriette if Mazarin died…?"
[23:51] <Minaplo> ["Eevi, why don't you take Padma for a walk?" Said Lucille suddenly.-
[23:52] <Minaplo> ["… Alright." Eevi took Padma's hand, guiding her onto the tiger. All three of them quickly padded out.-
[23:52] <Minaplo> [Lucille stared at the door, her jaw tight, before she got to her feet, starting to pace back and forth. "So that was your logic. You were thinking of the children?"]
01[23:57] <Yanmei> "It was the only way that I could make a decision." Her fists balled in her lap. "How could I pick either one of them?"
[23:59] <Minaplo> [A muscle pulsed in Lucille's neck.-
Session Time: Sun Feb 09 00:00:00 2014
[00:00] <Minaplo> ["No, I understand. It's perfectly logical." She said curtly, tightly, as though trying to control herself. "It makes perfect sense, I don't fault your decision at all."-
[00:01] <Minaplo> [Without warning, Lucille struck out, smashing her fist into the television. It broke through the glass monitor, the electronics inside and finally out the back of the plastic casing. The monitor was shattered instantly.-
[00:01] <Minaplo> [She pulled her hand back, glass shards having slashed and cut up the flesh across her knuckles, her arm. She stared at the blood in an almost detached way.]
06[00:03] * Yanmei was staring at her, wide eyed, having jumped to her feet at the crash. She took a step back…
[00:04] <Minaplo> ["Say it. Say what I know you're going to say."]
01[00:07] <Yanmei> "I'm sorry." Her voice undulated a little. "I'm so sorry. It was my fault. So if you and Padma hate me, I understand completely."
[00:08] <Minaplo> [Lucille stared at Yanmei.-
[00:09] <Minaplo> [Then she turned around, rubbing her face in a hard, frenetic way. "As I thought. You do not understand."]
06[00:11] * Yanmei stared at her quietly, clearly -not- understanding, given the now confused cast of her eyes.
[00:20] <Minaplo> ["My mother was a maid for the de Orleans family." Said Lucille curtly. "She nurtured their children, cleaned their house and acted as a bodyguard as needed. So did her mother, and her mother. I'm just like them."-
[00:22] <Minaplo> ["It isn't easy." Said Lucille, turning back to Yanmei. "From the moment you can talk, you have to learn social etiquette, names, practices of a dozen different cultures. From the age of six onwards, combat training begins. Hand-to-hand at first, then at the age of nine, firearms."]
01[00:24] <Yanmei> "I… I see." Did she really? The closest she could compare it to was the NeoSpartan training, and that sent shivers down her spine.
[00:25] <Minaplo> ["He was kind to me." Said Lucille. "He would break the rules, give me extra food, earn my trust. I became loyal to him."-
[00:26] <Minaplo> ["… Or so it seemed, but, what if that was just part of the training? They knew he did it, I was sure of it. Either he was being manipulated, or I was."-
[00:28] <Minaplo> ["That's what you don't understand, Mademoiselle Zhang. I've never been given a choice about this life would be about. De Orleans has had my life from the moment I was conceived. It's not my life to give up, and it never was. I was always going to be this- his protector, his carer."-
[00:30] <Minaplo> ["Ever since he's been gone, I've been- directionless. No one has told me what to do. After a few days, some part of me long-buried began to wake up again, some part that had resented not owning my life, some part that had once tried anything to earn it back. I began to realise that this was… My new reality."-
[00:31] <Minaplo> ["Now, you come here, and you tell me that you condemned de Orleans to death not because you hated him, or because he was an enemy, or simply because you liked the President more, but because of Padma was there, and Padma had me to care for her, so I could raise and bring about another de Orleans into the world? No! That is not fair! I won't do it! I refuse!"]
01[00:36] <Yanmei> Taken aback was an understatement. Yanmei slowly found her seat again, and stared down at the carpet. "I thought," she mumbled, and then slowly ran her fingers through her hair. "I mean, I had no clue? I thought he was like your family, so I…" -
01[00:42] <Yanmei> But she didn't finish that thought either. For a long time, she just stared down, trying to sort everything out in her mind.
[23:23] <Minaplo> [Lucille didn't look at her, facing away, staring at the destroyed television.]
01[23:27] <Yanmei> "No one… will force you to," she said finally. "There's no one here to do that? And th-the mistake was mine, not yours." She raised her head, slowly. "I let him die for no reason… The very least I can do is make sure that his new daughter is cared for by someone who chose to do it."
[23:50] <Minaplo> ["Fine."]
01[23:56] <Yanmei> "… should I go?"
Session Time: Mon Feb 10 00:00:00 2014
[00:03] <Minaplo> ["… Why? I still have some questions. No doubt you do as well."]
01[00:05] <Yanmei> "All right." She nodded lethargically. "What else did you want to know?"
[00:09] <Minaplo> ["What do I do now?"]
01[00:11] <Yanmei> "What do you mean? You've been thinking about that since you came here, right?"
[00:14] <Minaplo> ["Yes. But… I still don't know what."]
01[00:18] <Yanmei> "You could always stick around until you decide? Look around the ship and try different jobs on for size…"
[00:20] <Minaplo> ["I suppose."]
01[00:23] <Yanmei> "If you get tired of it, we could always let you off near one of our bases. You have lots of language experience, so you could get by with traveling the world too?"
[00:27] <Minaplo> ["During a war?"]
01[00:28] <Yanmei> "The war won't last forever."
[00:29] <Minaplo> ["I see."]
01[00:31] <Yanmei> "What do you think?"
[00:33] <Minaplo> ["It makes sense. I'll take your advice." She turned around, smiling a little darkly. "Maybe I'll apply for work at that Grill. The proprietor and I have more than a little in common, it'd seem, if he's trying to pass himself off as a bartender."]
01[00:34] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei looked a little worried at that. "You, ah. Happen to recognize him?"
[00:37] <Minaplo> ["No. I simply had access to NERV's security files about him."]
01[00:43] <Yanmei> "I see." A long, curious pause. "Do you still have access to those files?"
[00:43] <Minaplo> ["Yes. Why?"]
01[00:45] <Yanmei> "I don't suppose you'd be willing to divulge the access codes so that certain people who can only acquire heavily censored information through S2 will no longer have to go through them to see personnel records?"
[00:49] <Minaplo> ["Why?" Asked Lucille in confusion. "Isn't this your revolution?"]
06[00:53] * Yanmei paused, blinking in surprise. "I… suppose it is? Maybe I can get to see all sorts of stuff now…"
[00:54] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[00:54] <Minaplo> [Lucille stared at Yanmei with a sort of mix of condescension and pity.]
01[00:55] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei flushed with embarrassment and cleared her throat. "Anyway, what else would you like to know?"
[00:57] <Minaplo> ["You're still thinking as a pilot, aren't you? As a subordinate. It hasn't sunk in yet that you're the leader now."]
01[00:58] <Yanmei> "It's a new experience, yes," she said grudgingly.
[01:00] <Minaplo> [Lucille sighed.-
[01:01] <Minaplo> ["Then perhaps it's best if I stayed and helped you. As an advisor, as a bodyguard. I'm good at that, and I'd be a great benefit to you."]
01[01:02] <Yanmei> "Isn't that the sort of career you wanted to get away from, though?"
[01:04] <Minaplo> ["I just wanted the choice." She said coldly.]
01[01:07] <Yanmei> "…if you're sure, then I certainly wouldn't mind the help," she decided.
[01:09] <Minaplo> ["Fine. But I expect to be paid well. I expect to have some free time. Holiday time. And no contracts. I leave when I want."]
01[01:12] <Yanmei> "That doesn't sound too unreasonable?" There was a faint air of wonder about her, as if she wasn't sure how this conversation was taking place. "Will you watch Lizzie sometimes for me too? Or will that require extra pay?"
[01:16] <Minaplo> [Lucille stared at Yanmei for a long few seconds.-
[01:20] <Minaplo> ["Very well. But I have no intention of acting as a maid. I insist on being treated as a secretary of some importance. Furthermore, I also demand access to the best equipment."]
01[01:25] <Yanmei> "All right. No maid stuff? And certainly no uniforms. Equipment shouldn't be a problem either."
[01:27] <Minaplo> ["And I'll expect to know where you are at all times and whom you're meeting with and why."]
01[01:27] <Yanmei> "A-all times?"
[01:29] <Minaplo> [Lucille extended to her full height, her form suddenly feeling that much larger despite her slim form. It reminded Yanmei of a cobra filling its hood.]
01[01:32] <Yanmei> As bad as S2. Except scarier. Yanmei repressed a shiver. "Can I ask you something?"
[01:33] <Minaplo> ["What is it?"]
01[01:35] <Yanmei> "You're… really doing this of your own volition? Like…" she shifted around on her bed-seat a moment. "You don't have any ties to SEELE personally, right? Or anyone else who would try to keep a close eye on me?"
[01:36] <Minaplo> ["You suspect that I might be a spy. There's hope for you yet."-
[01:37] <Minaplo> ["What matters is if you trust me or not. If you trust me or don't trust me, then it doesn't matter one bit what I say. With that in mind, however, I can say that no, I don't."]
06[01:41] * Yanmei scrutinized her, trying to see if she was telling the truth or not. With her, it had always been difficult…
[01:44] <Minaplo> [Lucille folded her arms.]
06[01:48] * Yanmei decided to try something new. "Do you know if de Orleans was doing that sort of thing as well? Like… espionage? Or trying to influence me in ways Caine would approve of?"
[01:49] <Minaplo> ["Ah. You want to know if he was using you."]
06[01:52] * Yanmei simply nodded, eyes fixed on her.
[01:53] <Minaplo> ["Not an easy question to ask." Said Lucille. "De Orleans…"-
[01:54] <Minaplo> [She shook her head, picking up two shards from the broken monitor. Blood still coursed faintly down her arm and hand.-
[01:54] <Minaplo> ["Do you see these two shards?" She held them up, so that each surface reflected Yanmei.]
06[01:55] * Yanmei nodded. "Yeah…?"
[01:55] <Minaplo> ["What do you see in them?"]
01[01:56] <Yanmei> "I see myself?"
[01:56] <Minaplo> [She nodded, then moved them to be more far away. Each shard reflected Yanmei, but at a different angle. "What about now?"]
01[01:58] <Yanmei> "It's just a slightly different view of the same thing…"
[01:59] <Minaplo> [She placed one shard on a bench. Lucille then walked with the other over to the door, holding up her shard. Each shard still reflected Yanmei, but…-
[01:59] <Minaplo> [If she was looking at one, she'd see her face, but the other would reflect her side.-
[02:00] <Minaplo> ["What about now?"]
01[02:01] <Yanmei> "The view is drastically different for each one?"
[02:02] <Minaplo> ["Yet it still reflects the same thing."]
01[02:02] <Yanmei> "Right."
[02:03] <Minaplo> ["And comes from the same monitor."-
[02:04] <Minaplo> ["What if I put ten, a hundred, a thousand shards all around this room, all pointed at you? All the shards would come from the same place, reflect the same thing, but show a different angle, a different view. And how many shards could you keep in view at any one time?"-
[02:05] <Minaplo> ["That's why I have trouble answering your question, because that's how de Orleans thought. He approached topics from a thousand different viewpoints, each one with its own specific approach and attitude. It was impossible to know every single viewpoint."]
01[02:08] <Yanmei> "Is…something like that really possible? I mean, was he really that complex? Or was he good at making people think he was that complex?"
[02:09] <Minaplo> ["Now you see the problem." Said Lucille with a smile. "Brilliant, isn't it? Not even I know."]
01[02:14] <Yanmei> "Even though you knew him for your entire life?"
[02:18] <Minaplo> [She nodded. "That was the sort of man he was."-
[02:18] <Minaplo> [Lucille sat down next to Yanmei on the edge of the bed. "I can offer you some theories."]
01[02:20] <Yanmei> "Theories are good," she said with a bit of hope.
[02:22] <Minaplo> ["I think he liked you. I think that he genuinely valued your company. He always seemed to eat a little better after a visit from you. In that regard, I believe that he considered you to be a true friend."-
[02:22] <Minaplo> ["But."-
[02:22] <Minaplo> ["Here's the problem." Said Lucille. "With the way his mind works, there could certainly have been a part of him who thought of you -only- as a true friend, but there would've been another part that thought of you only as a pawn, and he could've swapped between them at will."-
[02:24] <Minaplo> ["I do know this: he was very conscious of the fact, from the second the two of you met, that you befriended him in order to influence Evangelion Unit 08's piloting decision. He allowed himself to 'play' into your hands there to earn your trust, but I have no idea if he did it to genuinely help you, or just to build up that connection."-
[02:25] <Minaplo> ["I do know, however, that he never actively betrayed you or sold you out. I cannot say whether or not he never planned to, however. When a man wears nothing but masks, there is no such thing as a 'true' face."]
01[02:31] <Yanmei> "I see. I think I understand?" But she sounded a little sad, actually. "I didn't think he did, but everyone around here acts so cautious when it comes to him. Not that they lack a good reason, I guess?"
[02:33] <Minaplo> ["Yanmei, I need you to understand that de Orleans was not a harmless old man." Said Lucille. "Some of the things I've been ordered to do… Don't make for good conversation. Have I ever been required to assassinate someone? No. But have I been ordered to kidnap a man's daughter and hold her for ransom? Yes. And I did it, as well."]
01[23:30] <Yanmei> "I know that? I mean… not about the kidnapping. But if you're thinking about it logically, he couldn't be as harmless as he leads people to believe?" -
01[23:32] <Yanmei> "But if he thought we were friends, and I thought we were, then why wouldn't I feel bad for backstabbing him?"
[23:33] <Minaplo> ["… I can't really debate that, I suppose."]
01[23:39] <Yanmei> "Anyway? This all hits a little too close to home." She rubbed her forehead tiredly. "Let's talk about more professional stuff."
[23:48] <Minaplo> ["You want to know about secrets he entrusted me with regarding SEELE? I understand."]
01[23:52] <Yanmei> "Did he tell you any?" Yanmei didn't look exactly hopeful. "SEELE is a pretty big secret? So…"
[23:52] <Minaplo> ["I was his secret keeper. Anything that was too risky to store on a computer, he stored in me. So this time, you've hit jackpot."]
01[23:58] <Yanmei> "That's… kind of risky of him too." Yanmei blinked a few times and then settled, hands in her lap. "Hm. Then, would you know why Caine is making such a drastic change in management now? First Washington, and then de Orleans, and then my mother. Washington and Mom are only a part of the HIC as far as I know? But still… Is she that scared of opposition from the people she's been partners with until now?"
Session Time: Wed Feb 12 00:00:00 2014
[00:01] <Minaplo> ["I don't know for sure what de Orleans's feelings on it were, but for awhile now, several members of SEELE's inner circle- de Orleans, Shardlake, Washington and Romanov- have become unsettled, for various reasons. Washington felt SEELE had sold him out by agreeing to Linden's terms. Shardlake is beginning to suspect that Caine has no intention of carrying out the plan of Instrumentality,
[00:02] <Minaplo> which she promised them. Romanov and- possibly, de Orleans, or possibly not- have simply started to have second thoughts. About Caine's intentions, her goals… Whether Instrumentality is worth it in the first place."]
01[00:07] <Yanmei> "I didn't realize? I had suspected that de Orleans was having second thoughts about it, and Washington had good reason to be upset? But it seems like they're all about to fight each other."
[00:09] <Minaplo> ["SEELE's cohesiveness was strongest when all the members were more or less equal in power. Consider this: Washington was rendered powerless. Shardlake's country was nearly destroyed. De Orleans's country was about to defect, and Romanov has always had trouble exerting influence over the Soviet Union."-
[00:09] <Minaplo> ["Caine's power has only grown, though. Germany remains as loyal to the UN as ever, she controls powerful factories and large armies…"-
[00:10] <Minaplo> ["I think it's possible, with the right activities and persuasions on your part, to recruit Shardlake and Romanov to your side."]
01[00:14] <Yanmei> "Is that a good idea?" Her eyes narrowed. "They have the funds to help us out, but the -last- thing we need is to give them influence over any of our activities. This is our war for independence, not some inter-SEELE grudgematch."
[00:16] <Minaplo> ["Understandable, but they have more than funds. They have connections. They have information. SEELE is more than just those five people. You knock out Shardlake and Romanov, and you can open a lot of doors around the world. You don't even need to give them much influence, you just have to offer them something superior to their current situation. These people are survivors. They'll go for
[00:16] <Minaplo> the winning side, or failing that, the side that won't destroy them as a matter of course the moment the war ends."]
01[00:20] <Yanmei> "We have quite a few connections of our own? If we use them at all it will be only as a desperate last resort," she said firmly. "And even then, with some sort of insurance."
[00:21] <Minaplo> ["Again, understandable, but there's no guarantee that Caine won't kill them in a few weeks and thus deny us the opportunity."-
[00:22] <Minaplo> [Lucille stood up suddenly, alarmed- but it was only the door opening, a pair of Brothers gliding in, one carrying a vacuum cleaner, the other a replacement television.-
[00:22] <Minaplo> [Lucille glared at them, then resolutely sat back down as if to ignore them.-
[00:22] <Minaplo> ["Nevertheless, there are some things you ought to know about both of them, Shardlake and Romanov. Especially the latter."]
01[00:23] <Yanmei> "…all right? What about them?"
[00:28] <Minaplo> ["Romanov has several children, but not all of them are alive. He had a daughter… Yulia."]
06[00:29] * Yanmei nodded simply
[00:30] <Minaplo> ["She married a man named Ilia Volkov."]
01[00:30] <Yanmei> "…W-what?"
[00:30] <Minaplo> ["And then she had two twin children- Vasily and Natasha. They were taken away from her, and even in her dying hours she screamed to be reunited with her babies."]
01[00:36] <Yanmei> "Natasha and her brother… were Romanov's grandchildren? And he put them in the Neospartan program?"
[00:40] <Minaplo> ["Not exactly. To shore up their control over Romanov, the Caines- first Jeremiah, then Mary- allowed for them to be kidnapped and smuggled throughout Eurasia as part of the slave trade that was booming at the time. Then they saw to it that they were rescued, but Vasily was killed in the operation, so Caine convinced Romanov that the best solution would be to place Vasily in an Eva, allowing
[00:40] <Minaplo> him to preserve his self-awareness, whilst Natasha would be trained up as a pilot. It pleased Romanov, because he wanted to keep a close eye on his grand-daughter, but it also allowed him to feel as though he had gained influence with such a powerful granddaughter."]
01[00:42] <Yanmei> "No way… he didn't see through their lies?"
[00:43] <Minaplo> ["He might've suspected it, but there wasn't any proof."-
[00:43] <Minaplo> ["Here's the other thing. You've overlooked a key detail."]
01[00:44] <Yanmei> "What would that be?"
[00:44] <Minaplo> ["The mother."]
01[00:45] <Yanmei> "But… you said she died, right?" She sounded uneasy; she knew what happened to dead people.
[00:46] <Minaplo> ["Think about it. She died, screaming, begging to be reunited with her twin children."]
01[00:51] <Yanmei> "…" She shook her head. "What are you saying? Did they actually try to grant her request? The unit the Simonides twins are piloting…"
[00:51] <Minaplo> [She nodded.]
01[00:53] <Yanmei> "Oh god. The whole time… Did Romanov approve of this?"
[00:55] <Minaplo> ["I don't think he did." Said Lucille. She leaned toward Yanmei. "You see? You tell this to Romanov, and you offer proof, and he'll wash his hands of SEELE in an instant."]
01[00:58] <Yanmei> "Proof… MAGI records, maybe?" She still seemed rather unsettled.
[00:58] <Minaplo> ["I have some files that would prove it. SEELE certified."]
01[01:02] <Yanmei> "That's awfully convenient," she remarked. "What other files do you have with you?"
[01:05] <Minaplo> ["Quite a lot. De Orleans always made sure that certain files were copied and hidden- several times- so that if Caine or the others betrayed him, the risk of them destroying every copy was low."]
01[01:10] <Yanmei> "We'll want to go over them all thoroughly."
[01:11] <Minaplo> ["Of course."]
01[01:15] <Yanmei> "You said you had information about Shardlake too?"
[01:16] <Minaplo> [A nod.]
01[01:17] <Yanmei> "Don't tell me," a wry smile, "He's some other pilot's grandfather? Great-grandfather?"
[01:19] <Minaplo> ["Have you ever heard of the family 'Langley'? They're scientists, often dealing with weapons development… And Shardlake himself owns many arms factories and corporations…"]
01[01:23] <Yanmei> "Asuka will love this, I'me sure…"
[01:24] <Minaplo> ["Of course, Shardlake's eldest daughter married a Langley, whose son in turn married Zeppelin-Soryu…"]
01[01:26] <Yanmei> "Miss Lucille?"
[01:26] <Minaplo> ["Yes?"]
01[01:27] <Yanmei> "Is it normal for so many entire family trees to be wrapped up in the same organization like this?"
[01:28] <Minaplo> [Lucille gave Yanmei a dismayed look.-
[01:28] <Minaplo> ["I was kidding about the Langley thing."]
01[01:32] <Yanmei> "Of…course you were? I was kidding about the family tree thing too?" She chuckled desperately. "Asuka's way too boorish to be related?"
[01:33] <Minaplo> [Lucille looked at Yanmei with mild confusion.-
[01:35] <Minaplo> ["There is one question you should be asking though." Said Lucille. "Of course its natural for powerful families like these to rely on their own resources to power their organisations… But it's a curious coincidence that one of SEELE's most powerful members, and one of the founders of Gehirn, just so happened to have two A-Type grandchildren… One of which was the Adam for an Eve.
[01:35] <Minaplo> Remember, the ratio of A-Types to New-Type humans like me is 1:1,500,000…"]
01[01:47] <Yanmei> "It is a little too unreal?" Yanmei agreed. "What do you make of it?"
[01:49] <Minaplo> ["I think…"-
[01:50] <Minaplo> [There was a knock at the door, which slid open to reveal Eevi, riding on Felix, Padma sitting behind and clinging to Eevi's dress tightly. "We're back." Said Eevi.-
[01:50] <Minaplo> ["Ah."]
01[01:54] <Yanmei> "Welcome back~" Yanmei beamed at them. "Miss Padma? We were just talking about a surprise for you…"
[01:56] <Minaplo> ["A surprise?" She peeked out over Eevi's shoulder curiously.]
01[01:57] <Yanmei> "How do you feel about moving into your very own room for a while? Just like a grown-up?"
[01:58] <Minaplo> ["Without Lucille?"]
01[01:59] <Yanmei> "Right!"
[02:02] <Minaplo> [Lucille watched on, not saying anything.-
[02:03] <Minaplo> [Padma looked hesitant, indecisive. "But… Who'll be there to watch me?"]
01[02:07] <Yanmei> "There will be lots of people? Friends, and people like the man standing outside can drop by and keep an eye on you."
[02:10] <Minaplo> [Padma looked uncomfortable.-
[02:10] <Minaplo> ["Padma has nightmares." Said Eevi, a little sternly. She was watching Yanmei keenly. "Every night."]
01[02:11] <Yanmei> "She does?" Yanmei glanced to Lucille. Maybe it was a bad idea, then…
[02:11] <Minaplo> [Lucille shifted a little awkwardly in her seat. "She does. It's alright. Padma, you can stay here tonight."-
[02:12] <Minaplo> [She muttered to Yanmei out of the corner of her mouth. "She may as well stay until we sort this out properly."]
06[02:15] * Yanmei nodded appreciatively. "That's fine too? It was just a thought." She offered the girls one last smile before turning to go. "I'll see you later, Miss Lucille."
[02:22] <Minaplo> ["Goodbye, Yanmei."-
[02:22] <Minaplo> [But Yanmei wouldn't leave that easily…-
[02:23] <Minaplo> [Eevi hopped up, leaping from the tiger's back into Yanmei's arms, wrapping her own around Yanmei's neck. "Hehehe."]
01[02:24] <Yanmei> "Oof! What's this? An ambush?"
[02:27] <Minaplo> ["It's a Love Ambush. Rei does it." She snuggled Yanmei closely, giving her a big kiss on the cheek. "Auntie Yanyan's pretty~"]
06[02:30] * Yanmei laughed with mingling suprise and amusement. This was Eevi now, huh…? "If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were after something~"
[02:31] <Minaplo> ["Kisses!"-
[02:32] <Minaplo> [Padma remained sitting on the tiger, staring up at Yanmei with big eyes…]
01[02:42] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei managed a slightly awkward peck on the cheek for Eevi. Then, with a bit more ease, she leaned over and ruffled Padma's hair warmly. "I'll see you both later too. Unless you want to come with me to pay a visit to Miss Delacour…"
[02:43] <Minaplo> ["I'll stay." Eevi jumped back onto Felix- who had long since started to lie down lazily. "Bye, Auntie~"]
[02:43] <Minaplo> [Padma gave Yanmei a wave and a little smile.]
06[02:45] * Yanmei gave them the biggest smile back that she could. "Goodbye girls. Miss Lucille." She then turned to go. -
01[02:46] <Yanmei> It wasn't until she was out the door and around the corner, out of sight of the sentry, that she let her shoulders sag a little. Slowly, she raised a hand to cover her face.

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