For Befriending An Old Man

[12:52] <Ariadne‘Delacour> [On the 2nd of November- a scant two days or so after the halloween debacle- Yanmei would soon find herself in a limousine, zipping down the road next to Ariadne, heading for a particular district she’d been to only once, with Isaiah- the Diplomatic District. Specifically, the US Embassy.]
[12:55] <Yanmei> "This is an early birthday present," a grinning Yanmei declared as she sat across from Ariadne. "Thanks for this." She was dressed in her suit again, deciding that it was more low-key than her NERV military uniform. There were only a handfull of people whose attention she wanted to draw today.
[12:56] <Ariadne‘Delacour> "Hahaha. That’s alright." Said Ariadne. "I owe you, anyway."
[12:58] <Yanmei> "Are you sure? I'm pretty sure getting me in to see the President of France squared us. But who's keeping track, hm?"
[13:03] <Ariadne‘Delacour> "That’s right." She pats Yanmei on the cheek.-
[13:04] <Ariadne‘Delacour> [Time passes, and eventually they come to the ornate, imposing structure of the US Embassy. After a quick checkin with the guards, the limousine is allowed access.-
[13:04] <Ariadne`Delacour> [The grounds of the embassy are expansive and wide, with a garden and a small copse of trees- but of course, most of it is dominated by an exquisite paved area, centred around an ornate fountain (angels dancing).-
[13:05] <Ariadne`Delacour> "Now remember, we’re on American soil. So be on your best behaviour." Said Ariadne solemnly. "No flirting with any boys."
[13:09] <Yanmei> "I don't flirt. Such a misleading thing to say," Yanmei complained as she followed Ariadne, straightening her already immaculate clothing. "Anyway, there are just a bunch of old guys here, right?"
[13:16] <Ariadne‘Delacour> "Oh, you’d be surprised~" Said Ariadne lightly, as they passed two well-dressed, young US soldiers at attention and proceeded into the foyer. "But today we -are- dealing with old men, that's true. The things I do for you…"
[13:18] <Yanmei> "Like you don't have to deal with them all the time anyway. At least today you have some company." But her voice was quieting. She got the sense that they were approaching the 'professional zone'.
[13:23] <Ariadne‘Delacour> [And how professional it was. Serious faces and serious people abound. Yanmei wasn’t the only one keeping her voice quiet.-
[13:24] * Ariadne‘Delacour led Yanmei through the corridors, and into what appeared to be a large boardroom, although its table was mostly deserted except for a Mr. Freeman, a few other American diplomats, an older man with grey hair in a snappy suit (who Yanmei would probably identify as de Orleans)- and finally, a holographic projection of a man she didn’t know.
[13:26] * Yanmei stared at the holograph for a moment. Interesting. A video conference screen wasn't enough? She did smile and offer a little distant wave to Freeman, however, sticking by Ariadne's side rather than approaching immediately.
[13:29] * Ariadne‘Delacour leaned down towards Yanmei. "That’s Theodore Washington, the American Instrumentality Committee member." She whispered, nodding at the hologram.
[13:30] <Yanmei> "What, he couldn't come to the embassy in person? Isn't this an important meeting?"
[13:31] * Ariadne‘Delacour seemed a little divided on that. "Well, he’s in the US… And this meeting probably won't amount to much."
[13:34] <Yanmei> "Oh." Still, Yanmei opened the purse she was carrying, and pulled out a notepad and a pen, like a good little student. She would do her best to figure out what was happening… and to take notes beyond that.
[13:36] <Ariadne‘Delacour> [Ariadne sat down, no doubt followed by Yanmei.-
[13:38] <Ariadne`Delacour> ["Let us begin, then, now that our attache to NERV has arrived." Said Mr. Washington. He was a tall man, with a hawklike nose and clear, angular features. "First and foremost, let us assess the situation. Mr. Freeman, please restate for all present the United States’ desires."-
[13:39] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Well." He cleared his throat. "As you are no doubt aware, Mr. Washington…" Mr. Freeman turned to face de Orleans directly. "NERV Boston is currently busy working on EVA-07, as well as parts of EVA-08. We were also building parts for EVA-05 and EVA-06, but both of these units have been assigned to other places- Japan and the New Soviet Union, specifically." Mr. Freeman cleared his throat again. "Our desires are simple- we want EVA-07 to remain in Boston."
[13:40] <Ariadne`Delacour> ]
[13:42] * Yanmei glanced briefly at Ariadne, tensing slightly. "Are they that close to completion?" she whispered. It seemed like just yesterday they had completed and assigned pilots to Units 05 and 06.
[13:43] * Ariadne`Delacour leaned towards Yanmei. "They’re about 6-7 months away on 08. EVA-07 is about 2 months away, though." She whispered.
[13:46] <Yanmei> "I see." Not much time left. She pressed her lips together briefly in concern, and then brushed that feeing off, turning back to the meeting.
[14:12] <Ariadne‘Delacour> [Washington pressed a button, and over the middle of the table, two images flickered to life- one of them was a tall, but surprisingly heavyset Evangelion, painted orange with white highlights. The word EVA-07 was stamped upon its chest and arms. Its chest seemed wider and fatter than a usual EVA unit’s, and it possessed eight eyes. The other… Was almost identical to EVA-04, but it was gleaming white with red highlights.]
[14:16] * Yanmei raised an eyebrow, but that was the extent of her reaction to the images. The EVAs themselves had never particularly interested her. They really did look just about finished, however. They even had decided on the paint jobs. "How many are they planning to create?" she muttered.
[14:17] <Ariadne‘Delacour> "’Enough'." Said Ariadne.-
[14:18] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["These are the projected schematics of the EVA units." Said Washington. A green grid appeared over the units- EVA-07 showing "85% Complete" and EVA-08 showing "19% complete". "Miss Delacour, if you will."-
[14:20] * Ariadne`Delacour stood up, clearing her throat. "Right. EVA-07 is a new model designed to operate differently to other models. Although the fundamentals are easy enough to build, NERV requires EVA-07 for testing purposes, and so it’ll be assigned to our Eva test facilities in Algeria." She nodded and smiled. "EVA-08 is based almost identically off of the successful EVA-04 frame, and NERV will probably assign it to Boston."
[14:24] <Yanmei> Boston. Algeria. Yanmei wrote fast, the words flowing in a mix of french and chinese. Her pen stopped, though, as a realization hit. Wait, Algeria? Really?
[14:25] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Hmmmmm." Mr. Freeman seemed to be deep in thought. "That’s still a 7 month delay on giving the US some of the protection it needs, though."-
[14:27] <Ariadne‘Delacour> "Can’t be helped, I'm afraid." Said Ariadne with a helpless smile. "There really is no other place for 07."-
[14:27] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Even though Algeria is currently in a state of near chaos?" Muttered Mr. Freeman. "Haven’t Liberated Nations forces already crossed the border?"]
[14:28] * Yanmei nodded along with this, glancing back and forth between the two. Her sentiments exactly. Maybe Fontaine or whoever was in charge of the decision was going senile?
[14:36] <Ariadne‘Delacour> [Ariadne waves a delicate hand. "NERV is confident that UN forces in the area would be able to keep the line held. And if not, well, Paris-2 is only a day away or so."]
[14:39] <Yanmei> "…" Close enough to pull a pilot from this region. Not that distance had stopped them from making such switches before, she recalled ruefully. Why -were- they so intend on the Algerian facility? Surely NERV had research facilities in areas that were less dangerous. Was it self-centered to think that it would be used as a backup in case the three Paris Units were defeated? Tucking it in a place that accessible certain
[14:40] <Yanmei> -certainly had that benefit…
[14:45] <Ariadne`Delacour> ["Acceptable." Said Washington with a clear voice that suggested that the topic was done.-
[14:46] <Ariadne`Delacour> ["Let’s move on to some of the component production values and trades between Boston and Paris, with the intent to maximise the efficiency of the construction…"-
[14:47] <Ariadne‘Delacour> [Hours passed. Most of it was taken up by… Well. Things like maximising industrial output or finding new sources of goods and resources for the NERV component factories, or even singularly minute things like whether to use metric or imperial in the hypothetical event of an EVA unit solely built by America. (They decided on metric.)]
[14:49] <Yanmei> Boring things. Yanmei put on her most alert look, though, pen scrawling notes as they went along. After a few hours, it was starting to become a strain. Surely, they would be finished soon.
[14:56] <Ariadne`Delacour> ["And I do believe that’s all we have to cover today." Said Mr. Washington.]
[14:58] <Yanmei> Relief. Yanmei held it in, though, throwing a quick glance in Ariadne's direction. She half-expected her to look openly happy about it, but then again, this was her job, so…
[14:59] * Ariadne‘Delacour was looking relaxed and professional!-
[15:00] <Ariadne`Delacour> [But… Slowly, the people started to file out. Washington’s image vanished with a beep, and Mr. Freeman was one of the first to go.]
[15:02] * Yanmei stood, giving her a little nod. There was a notable target in this room, and it would be a bad thing to let it get away without introducing herself first. "I'll be right back, okay?" And she donned her most disarming smile before turning and striding toward him.
[15:04] <Ariadne‘Delacour> [Mr. de Orleans had said very little during the entire meeting, perhaps giving a ’mm' or a nod at certain points. He was heading for the door, but he seemed to take his time.]
[15:07] <Yanmei> "Fascinating meeting, wouldn't you say?" She fell into step alongside him, smile still plastered on.
[15:09] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Not really, young lady." Said de Orleans in superlative Chinese. He had a very rich, lovely voice.]
[15:14] <Yanmei> "Hm? Well, I suppose it’s different for someone who gets to attend them all the time?" She followed his lead, switching to Chinese as well, trying to match his formality. She extended a hand. "Zhang Yanmei, of NERV's Paris division."
[15:16] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["A pleasure." He said, giving her a warm smile as he took her hand and shook it firmly. He had very clear grey eyes. "It’s rare that I meet someone of your calibre during my usual dull day."]
[15:19] <Yanmei> Her calibre of what? "Oh, I'm nothing special. Just following my curiosity at what goes on during these sorts of meetings. Thanks to an associate of mine, I was able to obtainn permission to attend today."
[15:21] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["I say? What an interesting curiosity." de Orleans turned to look over at Ariadne, giving her a warm smile before turning back to Yanmei. "Well, I’m glad you enjoyed it so much, Miss Zhang."]
[15:30] <Yanmei> "Why thank you," she grinned. "I hope you don't mind me asking, but what sort of meeting would you find interesting? If it would make participants more productive, then maybe it wouldn't hurt to throw in some topics that are even more interesting."
[15:32] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Please, miss." He smiled. "If I hear the word ’productive' again today I might cry."]
[15:34] <Yanmei> "I'll right. I'll rephrase that. What can be done to make meetings less grueling?"
[15:35] <Ariadne‘Delacour> [de Orleans looked back at the bare table. "Snacks." He said promptly.]
[15:36] * Yanmei snickered a little at that. "Good answer. Would you happen to feel like grabbing lunch?"
[15:37] <Ariadne`Delacour> ["That sounds like a fine idea." Said de Orleans brightly.]
[15:44] * Yanmei led the way! Or rather, followed the signs to the catered lunchroom while she pretended to know what she was doing. The spread was… more high class than expected. Perhaps she was too used to the lunchrooms at NERV and at school, but sitting across the table from de Orleans, she suddenly had flashbacks to some of the more expensive resturants that she had happened on since starting this career.
[15:51] <Ariadne`Delacour> [de Orleans had a plate of pizza before him, woodfired Italian style- but it was -high class- pizza, obviously.]
[15:54] * Yanmei had the foresight to take a glance around for any familiar faces. There were some that she wouldn’t have minded, like Ariandne and Mr. Freeman. There were others that she -would- have minded, like Commander Fontaine. And then there were the other NERV Directors…
[15:55] <Ariadne‘Delacour> [Ariadne was around, of course, never going to let her charge leave her sight! But she was chatting amiably with a friend, it seemed, at a distant table.]
[15:57] <Yanmei> Satisfied, she turned back around. "So you work for the UN, correct? You must get to travel to all sorts of interesting places. Are you originally from Paris?"
[16:01] <Ariadne`Delacour> ["Actually, I’m from Orleans." Said de Orleans with a humourous smile.]
[16:05] <Yanmei> "What a coincidence that is," Yanmei chuckled. She couldn't tell if he was joking or not, and so decided to be ambiguous about the response. "I happen to be from Zhangjiajie myself."
[16:08] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Indeed? Did you enjoy it there?"]
[16:13] <Yanmei> "Heh heh. That was a joke. Zhang? Zhangjiajie?" She toyed with her own food - a cup of healthy chopped fruit, and little else. "In French I think it translates to… ’Zhang family homeland'? But I actually never visited it before. I grew up in Beijing. Mostly. Until I was five or so, I lived someplace else, but it was such a long time ago that I can barely remember."-
[16:16] <Yanmei> That was a bold lie. She could remember quite clearly. Small houses, many of them broken, with stretches of ruined farmland between them. A bigger house filled with warm people and stern lectures alike. A mother that was actually around, when she didn't have her nose stuck in textbooks and manuals.-
[16:17] <Yanmei> "About what you said before. Is it really strange for me to be curious enough to come here? Granted, I dont exactly see many other pilots around? But…"
[16:20] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Oho, I see." de Orleans chuckled appreciatively. "Forgive me, I am getting on in years and my wit is not as sharp as it used to be. But…" He paused, his hands open on the table. "It’s just rare to see it in one so young. Not that it doesn't happen, of course."]
[16:28] <Yanmei> "Well, the decisions made here effect me after all. I guess it's fine to wait until news trickles down to me naturally, but I'm finding that I can't be satisfied with that anymore." She sighed, slipping some wisdom into her voice. "The events that kick-started the current issues in Algeria… if I and my collegues had been more aware of the world outside of our own branch, things wouldn't have, well, exploded as they d
[16:33] <Yanmei> - as they did."
[16:34] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Really?" Asked de Orleans in surprise.]
[16:38] * Yanmei gazed back at him with a measure of perhaps equal surprise. "Well, it probably would have at some point. But NERV may not have been dragged into it as they were during those terrorist incidents." Wary now. Did he and the other UN officials really not know about de Pteres’ roll in that? -
[16:40] <Yanmei> "We affect the world beyond the organization, and the world does the same to us. I suppose that's what I'm really getting at?"
[16:42] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Ah, hmmm." de Orelans seemed contemplative. "I see, miss Zhang, I see indeed what you say." He leaned forward, locking gazes with her. "You may be right…"]
[16:47] * Yanmei held her own steady gaze. Interesting. Was this what it felt like to slip off a mountain path and to hang, dangling helplessly by the arms, thanks to a simple mistake?
[16:52] <Ariadne`Delacour> ["What would you have done if you had known, I wonder?"]
[16:59] <Yanmei> "About the desperation that led the former Ambassador to attack us? Tried to dissuade him, of course. It’s a dangerous thing to involve oneself in politics between two countries, but I don't see why I couldn't try to deflect some of the aggression aimed at us? What would you have done?"
[16:52] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["What would you have done if you had known, I wonder?"]
[16:59] <Yanmei> "About the desperation that led the former Ambassador to attack us? Tried to dissuade him, of course. It’s a dangerous thing to involve oneself in politics between two countries, but I don't see why I couldn't try to deflect some of the aggression aimed at us? What would you have done?"
[17:01] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Oh… I guess I’m not sure." Said the old man helplessly. "It's possible that the ambassador was a sort of patsy. Terrorists will be terrorists, you know, and they tend to go after high profile targets…"]
[17:04] <Yanmei> "It's worth a try," Yanmei shrugged. "Just because something is unlikely to change doesn't mean that we shouldn't make the effort."
[17:07] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Hmm, that’s true…" Said the old man after a moment.]
[17:11] * Yanmei watched him carefully while pretending not to be obvious about it. "…surely, there must be some things in the world that you would like to see changed as well."
[17:13] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Hm?" The old man seemed surprised at the question. "Naturally, there are."]
[17:16] <Yanmei> "I thought so. Naturally, you wouldn’t have remained this line of work if there wasn't." She flashed him a friendly smile. "I'm still determining what it is I want to change. But maybe someday we can help each other with those matters."
[17:17] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Maybe." Said de Orleans with a chuckle. "Although I might be long gone by the time you join this line of work."]
[17:20] <Yanmei> "It could be earlier than you think."
[17:20] <Ariadne`Delacour> ["Oh, is that so? My apologies."]
[17:23] * Yanmei blinked, and then chuckled herself. "There’s no need for apologies, is there?" Was there? Was there something ominous about this line of work?
[17:24] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Well, I mean…" The man blushed slightly and looked down at his pizza. "I was afraid I had offended you."]
[17:27] <Yanmei> "Oh! Not at all." She smiled warmly. Clearly, she was reading too much into things. She should back up. Relax a little. "Maybe I should apologise for misunderstanding?"
[17:27] <Ariadne`Delacour> ["No, no, its fine."]
[17:35] <Yanmei> "In any case, thank you for humoring me. I may go on about changes to the world and everything, but the reality is that it’s quite difficult to introduce them without signficant time and backing. I do have more support and influence than most people would at my age. However…" she shrugged. "I'm also aware of my limitations."
[17:36] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["It’s wise to understand your limitations." Said de Orleans cheerfully. "It's also wise to know how to expand them."]
[17:37] <Yanmei> "Expand them? How?"
[17:42] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Well. If you’re -really- that interested in what goes on here, you might consider asking someone to tutor you."]
[17:46] <Yanmei> "Hmm…" She clasped her hands together. "Mr de Orleans of the esteemed United Nations. Would you please tutor me?"
[17:47] <Ariadne‘Delacour> ["Since you asked so nicely, it would be my pleasure, miss Zhang."]
[17:48] <Yanmei> "Excellent!" Yanmei beamed. "I’ll be the best student that I can."
[17:49] <Ariadne`Delacour> ["I have no doubt."]

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