For A Message From Silas

[15:24] <Aline> The sound of a mournful violin echoed through the rooms of a modest, though well-appointed, apartment in one of Paris-2's many receding housing complexes. Of course… this was no ordinary sound, or at least no sound produced by an entirely ordinary person. But she was quiet aside from her music, this girl. It was empty, one person was out, another hadn't decided whether she was living here
[15:24] <Aline> or not - so that left Aline with an apartment all to herself, and she felt most comfortable with her practice when she was alone…
[15:25] <GM> [A sound joined the singing of the violin- a discordant, modern sound. The sound of her mobile phone.]
[15:27] * Aline basically instantly set down the instrument on her desk, the bow laid atop it with little fanfare. Who the heck would be calling now? Nonetheless, she popped it open and checked. "Hello?"
[15:28] <GM> ["Aline Blanc?"]
[15:30] * Aline stared… well, towards the phone, confusedly. "Yes, speaking. Who is this?"
[15:30] <GM> ["My name is Silas. We need to talk."]
[15:31] * Aline spontaneously gulped. "…Okay… about what?"
[15:37] <GM> ["Not on the phone. I have a person who carries my messages for me in the city. I want you to go to the place where you had the noodles with Ikari."]
[15:40] * Aline …slowly responded. "Ohh…kay… I'll do it, but just to let you know, my paranoia senses are sort of tingling at this. But I'll still honor it. It'll be about 15 minutes' walk."
[15:40] <GM> ["That is all." -Click-]
[15:48] * Aline lowered the phone, then put it away… and took about 2 of those minutes (she intentionally overestimated the time, it was more like 10-12 minutes) to write a note that went along the lines of ["Went out get some noodles. I left at around 5pm sharp, and while I was thinking of going shopping, we should be careful anyway - Thinking that maybe we should make a little rule that if I'm
[15:48] * Aline not back in like 4 hours (or when you're home if you come home after that), you should at least try to figure out where I am - even just call me, okay? After all those attacks I'm a bit worried."] …That should have enough a contingency. She stuck it on the fridge, and… took a moment to heft up her zweihander, gingerly placing it in its scabbard, and… strapping it on to go into town.
[15:48] * Aline With a goddamn sword. At least it wouldn't be as conspicuous as the shotgun!… sorta. Whatever. And thus, armed as if she was an RPG protagonist in a modern fantasy setting, Aline headed out to have a word over some noodles.
[15:51] <GM> [The noodle stand was mostly empty, except for the attendant (of course), that one guy who -always- ate at that place, every day, same time, same bowl- and a prim-looking young woman with a briefcase in a long white dress.]
[15:52] * Aline made the reasonable-ish assumption that the woman with the briefcase was her messenger in question. Of course… how to go about this… How… It was actually about half a minute that Aline spent going over her approach, before with bit of a resigned look, she just walked over to the woman. "Hello?"
[15:54] <GM> [The woman jumped a little, startled, knocking over her bowl of noodles in the process. She stared at them mournfully. "Those cost me four francs…"]
[15:55] * Aline blushed at that. "…Er… I could… reimburse you?" She looked at her purse, but didn't reach into it yet.
[15:56] <GM> ["Er…" The woman stared at the bowl, and then over at Aline, letting out a quiet squeak. "I'm no good at this…" She muttered, looking a little frayed. "P-Please come with me."]
[15:58] * Aline raised her brow a little at that, but then smiled. "It's okay. I don't really know, either." But… she did so, politely waiting for the woman to get up and get moving. One thing Aline /did/ do, though, was keep her distance. But she tried not to look like she was keeping her distance. Which seemed awkward enough that she just… just… walked casually.
[15:59] <GM> [The woman stood, briefcase still in hand, casting a sad look back at her noodles, before she turned and started walking away, toward a a nearly-deserted park.]
[16:01] * Aline followed along, of course - looking around mostly to see if there were any obvious signs of… anything weird. She doubted that such things would be at all apparent but… worth trying. Even if it made her look a bit like a wary animal…
[16:03] <GM> [The woman sat down at one of the tables, looking around nervously herself.]
[16:05] * Aline sat down with her, and… leaned back in her seat, adjusting a little to account for the scabbarded blade she was lugging around. She considered starting an impromptu staring contest, but that would just… be entirely inappropriate.
[16:06] <GM> [The woman turned the briefcase towards her, and opened it, taking out… A laptop, along with two sets of earphones and microphones. She plugged both sets in, offering one to Aline.]
[16:07] * Aline …stared for an entirely different reason, but then slowly nodded, putting them on. Her whole body tensed, though.
[16:15] <GM> [The woman opened the laptop lid- which flared to life. The woman quickly tapped through the login and OS booting, and started whispering to herself… But through some trick of the headset, Aline could hear what she said perfectly. "U-Um, which wireless do I use? … Right, Comixplace201, but what's the WEP Code? Uhm…" The woman bit her lip for a moment, before tapping something else out, and taking a sigh of relief. She turned the laptop towards Aline. It was showing a video feed of… Shinji, who was staring back at her. But… He was wearing a visor that covered his eyes, a well as much of his forehead.]
[16:17] * Aline …stared forwards, and - possibly picked up by the microphone - she exhaled suddenly in… some sort of dull shock, like something she was almost expecting, yet wasn't. But she didn't say anything yet.
[16:19] <GM> ["Aline Blanc?"]
[16:19] * Aline stared and… "Y… yes. Speaking. Again."
[16:20] <GM> ["My name is Silas Caine."]
[16:22] * Aline slowly nodded, though her voice was quivering. She did try to whisper, assuming that that was part of the reason for all of these shenanigans. "Ah. So… uh… er… what had you wanted to… talk about?"
[16:23] <Silas‘Caine> "I wanted to talk about you." Said Silas gently.
[16:24] <Aline> "Like… wh-what about me?" Aline looked /intensely/ awkward, but she still didn’t want to suddenly burst out with something stupid.
[16:24] <Silas‘Caine> "Are you alright? You probably feel miserable, and I don’t blame you."
[16:26] * Aline bit her lip, looking down slightly. "That doesn't even begin to describe it. I'm trying to just… talk. You should already know. Or not? I don't even know…"
[16:27] <Silas‘Caine> "…" Silas looked away for a moment, then back. "Please, don’t hate me."
[16:28] * Aline shook her head suddenly. "It's not hate. It's… something else. It's… I… I don't have words for it. 'Miserable' will have to do for now."
[16:29] <Silas‘Caine> "I understand." Said Silas. "But I need you to know why this happened."
[16:31] <Aline> "…Then go ahead." While Aline’s voice seemed a little flat, there was also a very, well, depressed sound to it.
[16:35] <Silas‘Caine> "I am Azariah Caine’s only son." Said Silas. "Ten years ago, I was killed in a NeoSpartan Camp, where I served. Or at least, that's the official story. In reality, my father was able to preserve my memories, knowledge and my own conscience before my body died."
[16:36] * Aline …very slowly nodded. "Something reminiscent of how EVA operational souls work." Clinical, though.
[16:39] <Silas‘Caine> "In a sense… Yes." Said Silas. "Shinji Ikari was chosen… His ability to pilot an Evangelion appealed to my father, amongst other things…"
[16:40] * Aline bit her lip, hard. Really hard, actually. "…What other things. Isn’t that first thing a relatively common trait anyway?"
[16:41] <Silas‘Caine> "Well. Ability to pilot as well as possessing a fully functioning Evangelion unit…" Said Silas uncertainly. "But, it was also because Shinji Ikari is the son of Gendo and Yui Ikari."
[16:43] * Aline tilted her head. "…They’re relatively important figures but I'm not following how that's all that special. Infiltration's right out, as you probably know."
[16:45] <Silas‘Caine> "Yes." Said Silas. "However, my father suspected that the Ikaris may have used conditioning techniques available to them to hide critical data within his mind. That was not the case." Said Silas. "But… My father believes that Shinji’s mind was nevertheless exceptionally pliable and… Easy to change…"
[16:47] * Aline …just collapsed, at that. As in literally crumpled against the table, quite possibly even creating a bit of microphone noise. "I had been trying to help him, you know. There were a lot of social issues I was working through." Her tone waved a bit, but short of those small deviations, Aline just /powered through/ the sentences with sheer flat words.
[16:50] <Silas‘Caine> "Forgive me." Said Silas sadly. "But there is something more I need to tell you."
[16:51] <Aline> "I know. I know." Aline continued, slowly picking herself up. "I said so many times that my burden is the truth, no matter how painful. I can’t stop now."
[16:58] * Silas‘Caine nodded slowly. "The Shinji you know is… I guess you could say he is dead." Said Silas softly. "But part of him lives on." Silas raised a hand, flexed the fingers. "Transferring my conscience is a dangerous, incomplete process, and not all of me is transferred. I’ve lost memories and abilities I used to possess, and where I've lost them, they have been replaced by his. I can play the Cello, now." he smiled sadly. "I never used to be able to play the Cello. But… What I'm trying to say…" He sighed.-
[16:59] <Silas‘Caine> "I sorted through his memories, his feelings. I tried to find how he thought of you, and… Perhaps negative memories. To see… But… There weren’t any. He didn't resent you at all, or hold any bitterness or hatred towards you, not even a little bit. He genuinely loved you fully, in every way."
[17:03] * Aline nodded. "I… I already knew that. He was the gentlest… I guess most harmless, from a more cynical point of view… person I knew. I don't know if you even got this one, but I remember telling him that he'd have to raise his hand against me for me to think he was trying to hurt me. I'd literally have to be struck by him to even /think/ that. I know someone at least who was amazed
[17:03] * Aline at that fact. Knew, anyway. They're dead too." She sighed. "I assume the memory fragments don't really connect to a personality much, do they?"
[17:05] <Silas‘Caine> "In the end, he was too weak to use the memory fragments to preserve who he was." Silas said softly.
[17:07] * Aline let out a… very, very long sigh. "At least that makes it less ambiguous." She said half-heartedly. "There’s been too much death of /that/ sort recently. To think, 15 years ago it'd be considered impossible to even think of. Now it happens every other month."
[17:13] <Silas‘Caine> "Lauren, please." Said Silas.-
[17:14] <Silas`Caine> [The woman nodded, and reached into the briefcase- pulling out a photograph which she handed to Aline. A photograph of a smiling Shinji and a smiling Aline.-
[17:14] <Silas`Caine> "He carried this with him."
[17:15] * Aline nearly /swiped/ that from the woman’s - Lauren's - hand. And just… didn't even look at it longer than she needed to identify it. She just held onto it, face-down. The hand doing so twitched randomly.
[17:17] <Silas‘Caine> "My father did the wrong thing." Said Silas.
[17:23] * Aline was spending quite a long time just clenching the other hand of hers to the table edge. A whole minute. Maybe two, before she finally croaked out a token reply. "Understatement. Grossly. It could’ve been avoided. Could've been compromised over. The material's there. Fast-developing clones. Soul transferrence. But he took instead of shared." Aline suddenly made this bizarre choke-cough
[17:23] * Aline sound and looked straight up. Tears were running down her face, and her glasses were stained with them too. "Like humans. Like the Angels. No truce, no compromise, no way for two, only one, one, one. Stupid cruel world. So stupid."
[17:26] <Silas‘Caine> "Forgive me." Said Silas. And for awhile he was quiet, contemplative. "… There is something I have to know."
[17:29] * Aline stared long, trying to bore holes into space and time to breach through that visor and beyond the head underneath it. A stare so hard that she was going through someone likely on the other side of the world. "You were the means, not the end. You’ve done nothing to need forgiveness for. Ask it. While I can still answer." Her words grew more terse and forced-sounding as the sentences
[17:29] * Aline went on…
[17:30] <Silas‘Caine> "If… You could bring him back, back to… Back to who he was… And the price was ending my own existence, would you take it?"
[17:36] * Aline stared -even more-, and… then covered her face while resting it on the table. "If it had to be that way… …I don’t know. I'd want to, but you… you don't want to know what that'd be like. I was scared of just the /possibility/. Can't be two. Always one. If the world was right you'd either have your own new body or have returned to the cycle. But it's not. One can't exist while
[17:36] * Aline the other does. Same stupid condition. Pay either my love for him or your father's love for you. I guess my love isn't as… hurtful on such a large scale. That's what I'd go with, but only if I had no choice. There should be room for both. There /should/ be a third option."
[17:39] <Silas‘Caine> "I understand." He said. "Then I have only one more thing to say."
[17:42] <Aline> "…Sorry. That’s a sadistic question with a sadistic answer. I… still don't hate /you/. But go on." Aline sounded like she was… almost begging.
[17:47] <Silas‘Caine> The boy reached up, grabbing his visor, and with one sharp toss, tore it off of his face. Blue eyes stared back at Aline, bloodshot and sore-looking, whilst visible beneath his shortened fringe were scars and other surgical tissue- Aline would see that the locations were identical to the place she put her Interface Headset to pilot 00. "I urge you, Aline, to move on. Love him still but do not wait for him to return to you, because I know for a fact that he is gone!" Said Silas with finality. "I say this because a glimmer of his love for you yet remains inside my head. You cannot dwell on him any longer. The dreams- the hopes and plans the two of you made are impossible. Please, -please- forget them all. When we next meet, we will be enemies, and I cannot stay my hand on the battlefield."
[17:55] * Aline closed her eyes… and let that last tear drop. "I told you, this has already happened too often. I know he’s dead. I had been waiting to say the same to you. Face any NERV force, whether I'm involved or not, they or I /will/ shoot to kill if needed." She then opened her eyes again. "The soul is all that ever matters. Your father's act… pray you are nowhere near me when I meet
[17:55] * Aline him. I am as much monster as maiden, Silas." Aline said that with similar finality, but it was one hard-won out of deep self-loathing. "You don't need to see that."
[17:59] <Silas‘Caine> "My father, as loathsome as he is, has worthy goals." Said Silas sadly. "That is why I will fight. To protect his ideal world. To bring about the ascension of our species. Goodbye, Aline." Said Silas. "Lauren, please."-
[17:59] <Silas`Caine> [The laptop cut out, leaving Aline with a nervous, and deeply sympathetic Lauren.]
[18:01] * Aline stared up at Lauren, then. "So that’s that." She stared out into the park around them. "I'll protect you from retribution. But this… I can't leave this unspoken, otherwise. You're just the messenger. Don't be afraid of me." …She seemed to be going into a litany of apologies.
[18:03] <Silas‘Caine> ["…" Lauren quickly started to pack away the laptop, and the headsets. "Um… Miss Blanc…"]
[18:03] * Aline turned back to look at her. "…Yes?"
[18:04] <Silas`Caine> ["Do you believe in God?"]
[18:06] * Aline stared, not that thousand-kilometer world-crossing stare, but one of disbelief. "I… don’t know what to believe. There are /things/ like gods, but I can't say that I know if there is /a/ God."
[18:07] <Silas‘Caine> [Lauren nodded, shakily. "I… Understand." She whispered. Then, suddenly, she lunged, grabbing Aline’s hand. "Please-! Please, you have to do me a favour."]
[18:10] * Aline blinked. "What… what could I possibly even do for you?"
[18:10] <Silas‘Caine> ["You can kill him." Said Lauren sadly. "Every second my darling Silas spends in this state hurts me to my very core. Please kill him! Destroy his headset. Destroy the suppression headset. Free him."]
[18:11] * Aline stared wide-eyed. "Suppression… headset…?" Of course, she had thought of other things, too.
[18:17] <Silas`Caine> ["Silas doesn’t know it, but… The conditioning is not yet complete. Not yet." Said Lauren frantically. "Such a process requires time. Lots of time. If Silas's memories and personality act too aggressively towards the template's, they'll cause irreparable damage to the mental state, rendering the body braindead. So Silas's thoughts are actually kept nulled, within the body, and can only function if plugged into the Suppression Headset. The Headset modulates the growth of the overwriting, keeping it gentle enough to prevent permanent damage. If he can't use the Headset at least once per day, his thoughts will start to die in the brain's buffers…"]
[18:27] * Aline slowly nodded. "I suppose it's… good that you know. Given what I've heard, I'm inclined to believe your technical knowledge. But…" She shook her head heavily. "I'll have to be extremely careful, then. Though why he'd lie like that… whether because he was told otherwise or didn't know better, just… Ugh. None of this is worth that."
[19:20] <Silas‘Caine> ["My darling Silas." Lauren sighed sadly. "He is scared. He wants to live, but he hates that he does so. You saw it. He was afraid that you’d hate him. Expecting it nevertheless. And you can bet that Azariah would have done whatever he could to ensure his son wasn't able to kill himself…"]
[19:24] * Aline scrunched her face in… resignation. And disgust. Actually mostly disgust. "I'm not really surprised at /that/. It's… I don't even want to begin. It's… such a repulsive discipline - and to do it to his own son, and not just to try to bring him back. I'd ask what the hell went wrong here, but…" She then sighed deeply. "It won't matter. You heard me rattle on about morality
[19:24] * Aline enough."
[19:26] <Silas‘Caine> ["…" Lauren looked defeated and miserable. Quietly she locked the briefcase and held it in her lap.]
[19:28] <Aline> "…Sorry. You probably didn’t need to hear that." Aline looked up to the sky. "All this talk about ideal worlds and right and wrong and…" Yet another sigh. "…Still lots of people stuck in the middle."
[19:30] <Silas‘Caine> ["They’re sick." Muttered Lauren. "All of them. Sick."]
[19:31] * Aline looked a bit bewildered at that. "…They?…" She then thought. "…The people making those plans and claims?"
[19:32] <Silas‘Caine> ["The Caines." Said Lauren, staring up at Aline with eyes full of hurt and bitterness. "All of them think they’re making a better world, and all of them don't give a damn about the people they hurt."]
[19:38] * Aline nodded. "…I know that all too well. Mostly. Of course, the one I know the effects of are Elisha, at least until his brother decided to barge into my life. Even so…" She shook her head. "How can a better world be created on a foundation that isn't compassion? It… it doesn't even make any sense. Yanmei - Zhang Yanmei, you know - mocks me for being so idealistic, but… for being
[19:38] * Aline so 'idealistic' I can't begin to comprehend what all of… of…" Aline gestured widely at the whole city. "/This/ even is."
[19:40] <Silas‘Caine> [Lauren stood up. "Idealism can be colder and more heartless than the most pragmatic of people…"]
[19:46] * Aline stood up as well, though she had a distant look on her face. "Only when you sacrifice your heart for it. It’s like I told her… One of the things about humanity, that this war against the Angels brought to light, is that…" She put her hands to her chest, as if to hold them over her heart. "Humans are the ones who make sacrifices - they have something, anything at all, that's
[19:46] * Aline worth keeping, that might be in danger. But there's…" Tap. Aline tapped her foot to keep count. "The sacrifices we need to make. The sacrifices we're afraid to make… and the one we make when we stop actually cherishing anything. They all… they all made that last one. Single-mindedness like that… You're right. That probably /is/ some level of sickness, a sane mind would never sink
[19:46] * Aline to that."
[19:50] <Silas`Caine> ["…" Lauren looked up at Aline for a moment, before flicking her gaze back down. "Goodbye, Miss Blanc." She said, starting to move away.]
[19:52] * Aline waved, though even the gesture, let alone her voice, was tinged with regret. "…Bye." And she was left to return to her apartment, glad at least that she evaded a kidnapping attempt, or for that matter having Sophie all freaking out looking for her and then sending Section 2 after her and so on.

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