For Gifts From A Mentor

[21:08] <Yanmei> Having not yet gotten the hang of driving an actual car by herself, Yanmei arrived at the house of a friend and teacher by cab just a day or two after her birthday. On the way, she preened in the back seat. Her hair was getting longer, sort of an undefined in-between look that fell not quite to her shoulders rather than an actual bob nowadays. She still wore it loose, pulled back by a tasteful black and white polkadot headband. It matched the pattern of the dress she was wearing as well.-
[21:13] <Yanmei> When they pulled up to their destination, Yanmei peered from her window to check it carefully against the slip of paper that she had written the address on.
[21:16] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [The de Orleans estate could not be mistaken.-
[21:18] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> [It wasn’t as grand as some of the other places Yanmei had been to, such as the Palais d'Etoile, but it was nevertheless a stately manor, a level of luxury far higher than 99% of Paris-2 and indeed, France in general could attain. A wide, manicured yard with a fountain and marble pavement led out onto the gates, whilst the manor itself was composed of an artistic neo-classical facade taking up two wings and the centre. Despite this, it had the intangible feel of a country house to it- as if its main purpose was to house its owner only some of the time.]
[21:21] <Yanmei> A worried expression crossed Yanmei's face. She should have known that someone as influencial as de Orleans would live in a place so elaborate. Maybe this was as big of a shock as it was because he'd always seemed so humble. -
[21:22] <Yanmei> Still, his choice of residence could not negate their relationship. She collected herself, put on her most relaxed smile, paid and tipped the driver, and then emerged.
[21:24] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Yanmei would find a woman, dressed in a plain blue dress waiting for her at the gate. "Mademoiselle Zhang?"]
[21:26] <Yanmei> "That’s me!" she said cheerfully. "It's a pleasure to meet you." His daughter? Granddaughter most likely.
[21:36] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [The woman gave Yanmei a bow. "Monsieur de Orleans is waiting you inside. Please follow me."]
[21:40] <Yanmei`> "Right!" She waited for the lady to lead the way, trying hard not to stare at her or the surrounding estate to the point of being rude. It was certainly an opportunity to look at de Orleans’ personal tastes.
[21:43] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [The woman led the way, down the straight, pleasant marble path towards the front door, which were a rich, dark mahogany. Despite their heavyset look, Yanmei’s guide opened them with little trouble.-
[21:51] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [The interior lacked the opulence of the President’s Office, but nevertheless possessed a good deal of aristocratic grandeur. Portraits decorated the walls, displaying proud men, elegant women; many bore a crest of a blue shield, three fleur-de-lis, and three triangle topped off with a white horizontal bar across the points.-
[21:51] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [The woman led Yanmei into what was unmistakeably a living room; bookshelves lined the walls, and a large table sat at the far end of the room, opposite a flashy TV.-
[21:52] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> The dapper de Orleans was sitting at said table, an assortment of papers and books surrounding him. As Yanmei entered, he looked up. "Ah, Yanmei. How nice of you to come."
[21:54] <Yanmei> "Monsieur de Orleans!" Yanmei approached cheerfully. "Thank you for inviting me. And that -you- for showing me the way." She smiled back at her guide. "I’m sure I would have gotten lost if I'd tried to find him myself."
[21:56] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["At Mademoiselle’s pleasure." Said the woman demurely, bowing again and departing the room, closing the door behind her.]
[21:57] * Yanmei nodded in parting, and then blinked over at the books and papers surrounding her host. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything?"
[21:58] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Nothing too enthralling. Pilot candidacies for EVA-08. Sit down, please." He gestured to a chair.
[21:59] * Yanmei …did so, although her blood ran cold at that. "Has the pilot for 07 already been determined? Although it’s a test model, I would presume that it needs one?"
[21:59] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Mmm. Pilots, actually."
[22:01] <Yanmei> More than one! That didn’t make her feel any better. "The units in Paris seem like they're a selective bunch. You'll excuse me for finding it a little surprising…"
[22:01] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Surprising that they’re so selective, or that 07 has more than one?"
[22:02] <Yanmei> "That 07 requires more than one. I assumed that most of the EVAs would but like the ones we have here in terms of pilot selection."
[22:02] <Yanmei> ^be like
[22:03] * @Gilles‘de`Orleans shook his head, chuckling a little. "EVA-07 is special. It’s different from other EVA models in many ways."
[22:03] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
[22:04] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Well. I want to imagine yourself in the Entry Plug. Now, how do you move your Evangelion?"
[22:07] <Yanmei> "A combination of visualization and moving the controls physically."
[22:07] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> "That’s right." Said de Orleans. "Have you ever been inside a Plug with anyone else at the same time?"
[22:08] <Yanmei> "That's never happened. At least, not to me."
[22:08] * @Gilles‘de`Orleans nods slowly. "Of course. But I want you to imagine another pilot being inside with you."
[22:10] <Yanmei> "Would that pilot also be trying to control the EVA?" She had a feeling that 04 would resort to some retaliation. He barely put up with being piloted at all.
[22:11] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> "Yes. In fact, you’re both capable of inputting commands via the neurological Synchronisation interface."
[22:12] <Yanmei> "That seems like it would be a disaster? Unless the pilot and I were perfectly in tune with each other."
[22:13] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Exactly."
[22:15] <Yanmei> "Are you saying that 07 is designed so that a primary and secondary pilot can work together within it?" Yanmei frowned at this concepualization. "Or are you saying that you’ve discover two pilots that can work together that well?"
[22:16] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Yes." Said de Orleans happily. "EVA-07 is designed to carry -two- Entry Plugs within it at once, side by side, that allow both pilots to Synchronise. Theoretically, if the two pilots are perfectly in tune with each other, then their combined willpowers would create an Evangelion faster and more powerful than a single-pilot one. But. What sort of pilots would be capable of that feat?"
[22:18] <Yanmei> "I don’t know," she admitted. "It seems impossible. Even long-term childhood friends or siblings would have trouble accomplishing that. Individuals are individuals, after all?"
[22:19] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "You’re quite right." Said de Orleans. "That said, there are in fact special people who -are- capable of the feat, although they're rare, they're not unheard of. People who are in a sense already a little 'synchronised' to each other."
[22:25] <Yanmei> "… like who?" Yanmei blinked. "Who has been considered for this?"
[22:26] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "There are, all in all, two pairs eligible." de Orleans slid two folders towards Yanmei.
[22:27] * Yanmei took them cautious, and opened them, one by one to examine the profiles within. He’d handed them over so easily that she couldn't help but be a little surprised… and encouraged.
[22:35] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [The first file detailed Sophia and Elene Simonides, two girls from southern Greece; they were identical, monozygotic twins, aged 15 years of age.-
[22:38] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> [The second file detailed Isabelle and Adrian Bellamy, a young Australian pair who were romantically engaged and actually parents despite being only 15 years of age. They fiercely claimed to be married despite no paperwork and currently lived in NERV care.]
[22:40] <Yanmei> "Parents!" said Yanmei in astonishment. "They have a kid?" She thought about that more. "They have a small kid, but they’re still being considered?"
[22:51] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "The fact that they have a child is the only reason they -are- being considered." Said de Orleans. "It’s some sciencey thing. But apparently, for some people who are eligible to pilot an EVA, if they conceive a child together it might be able to replicate the same sort of innate 'synchronisation' possessed by identical twins… Although I admit the technicalities escape me…"
[22:55] <Yanmei> "I… see." She didn't really see, peering down blankly at the profile photos attached to their descriptions. Speaking in terms of practicality, a child would be both a reason for them to refuse the assignment, and a powerful leverage point for NERV.-
[22:56] <Yanmei> "Monsieur de Orleans?"
[22:56] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Yes, Yanmei?"
[22:58] <Yanmei> "Suppose a selected pilot refuses to cooperate? Would NERV move on to other considered candidates, or do they have an alternative policy in place." She closed the folder.-
[23:01] <Yanmei> "I was just thinking of the conflict that would happen if one person in either of these pairs was reluctant to pilot, and the detrimental effect it would have on controling 07. It seems that this unit, maybe even more than the others, requires harmony between pilot and EVA, let alone pilot and pilot."
[23:04] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> "Valid points, to be sure." Said de Orleans. "But, well. Actually ensuring that the pilots work together is not my department. But, actually getting to the point where a pilot agrees to the program at all? Now, I -can- tell you about that. Shall I proceed?"
[23:05] <Yanmei> "Please do," Yanmei nodded
[23:15] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> "Well. First and foremost, this doesn’t involve the special Neospartan pilots- they're treated as employees the moment the begin training. But for others… Well, NERV makes a request of the prospective pilot. If the prospective pilot says yes, then all's well. If they say no, then offers are made. Let's see…" de Orleans tapped his fingers together. "Let's take the Bellamys. Neither of them are capable of holding down a job thanks to the sorry state of their homeland's economy. Without NERV they and their young daughter would be living on the street. If one of the two say 'no', then NERV offers the obvious; a guaranteed, comfortable life for their child, with free, high-quality education once she is of age- until then the child would, of course, live with them as a family. Furthermore, should either of them die, the survivor will be granted many special benefits and is no longer required to pilot. Should they both die then their daughter will, of course, be maintained. If they refuse then, well, NERV takes special consideration to point out that the length of a piloting contract, along with their high salaries, means that they will invariably end up as millionaires by the end of their tenure. Should they refuse yet again, then there isn't much NERV can do without employing what we call the Right of Paramount Authority, which is only useful in -some- countries."
[23:19] <Yanmei> "I thought so," Yanmei muttered. Offering so many irresistable benefits. "The Right of Paramount Authority. Is that as-" Imperialistic? "-powerful as it sounds?"
[23:22] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Yes and no. See, NERV is part of the UN. Which gives it some rights, the Right of Paramount Authority being one of them. Simply put, NERV- and the UN- have the power to activate a law in any nation’s legal system, but with the UN acting as the executor and the ultimate benefactor. So, for example, imagine taxation laws. The UN can use the Right of Paramount Authority to, for example, activate a certain tax in such a way that all of the income generated by that tax goes to the UN, not to the country. Can you see how this could be used if a prospective pilot is stubborn?"
[23:27] <Yanmei> "…they would go that far for one person? That's a lot of innocent people getting caught in the crossfire, isn't it?"
[23:33] * @Gilles‘de`Orleans chuckles. "Oh, heavens no. The UN would never use the Right of Paramount Authority on a tax law, even if they can- and especially not for one person. No, that was just an example. It’s simple. Tell me, Yanmei, back home, what would you do when you turned 18?"
[23:35] <Yanmei> "Attended school at a university, probably. I might have even sought a job to support myself and moved out on my own."
[23:36] * @Gilles‘de`Orleans smiles. "Are you sure you’re not missing a critical point there?"
[23:40] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei looked a little uncomfortable. "You mean… the mandatory enlistment."
[23:44] * @Gilles‘de`Orleans chuckles. "That’s right. Here's a fun fact: after Second Impact, mandatory enlistment became a trait in many, many countries that had done away with it. Some countries -including China- implemented an emergency draft law that meant that they could order a person to become a soldier at any time at any age. Australia was actually one of the first to implement such laws…" He tapped the dossiers. "If a pilot adamantly refuses the benefits offered by NERV, and NERV refuses to simply choose a less difficult candidate, then it'll use Paramount Authority to activate a draft law and immediately draft that person into NERV. Although, that said, the person -does- get all of those many benefits anyway."
[23:48] <Yanmei> Sobering. So even if she had gone against everyone back then, she still wouldn't have had a choice. She'd always had the notion that that was the case, but now it was confirmed. "It's a sneaky way to get around the issue, I'll admit."
[23:50] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "It is." Said de Orleans. "But, well, those are how things are. But I would like your opinion. Which of those two pairs would you choose?"
[23:56] <Yanmei> After hearing that, she was supposed to pick one, huh? She stared mutely at the closed folders for a few moments.
[23:59] * @Gilles`de`Orleans waited patiently, a warm look on his face.
[00:05] <Yanmei> "Th-the Bellamys," she mumbled at last. "They’ve already been living on NERV's support. And the compensation offered to their child would be incredible. However… would it be too much to ask that NERV solicit the other pair if the offer is refused?"
[00:06] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Oh? You mean, instead of instituting the draft, going straight to the Simonides girls?"
[00:09] <Yanmei> "Right. Although I wouldn’t be too pleased if they ended up being drafted instead. No matter how you look at it, it's a bit cruel to force someone into a situation they don't want to be in?"
[00:12] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "It is cruel, I agree." Said de Orleans gravely. "But the alternative is more pressing, is it not? EVA-07 needs pilots. These are the only candidates. If they refuse, do we simply say ’Oh, well', scrap the entire Evangelion? What happens then if a million people end up dying because of that choice?"
[00:16] <Yanmei> "Why are so many EVAs even necessary? The three of us here in Paris-2 have been doing an acceptable job, haven't we? As more of them are created, we'll face more difficult decisions like this one. And of course, there's also the international political ramifications to consider…"
[00:17] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Well, let me stop you there, Yanmei. I want you to picture this scenario- you and the other pilots are in Paris-2. Yes? Let us say you are enjoying a movie in a theatre."
[00:20] * Yanmei nodded. Not too hard to imagine.
[00:23] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> "You have your mobile phone off, of course. During your movie, an Angel attacks a city. An Angel of comparable power to Qaphsiel, say. Let us say it attacks… Beijing-2. NERV Command rings you, of course your phone is off. Section Two agents burst into the theatre and come to take you to the Geofront. Let us say this takes thirty minutes. The Evangelions are prepared. Another ten minutes? Then they are deployed… But, the problem is that Beijing-2 is a good two or three days away by Evangelion carrier. Meaning, by the time you arrive in Bejing-2, the city will be destroyed, millions dead and the entirety of NERV’s facilities and personnel destroyed and dead."
[00:27] <Yanmei> "So units are spread out across the world to prevent that sort of thing from happening. And possibly in such a manner that said units can team up and support each other in an emergency, correct?"
[00:28] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Theoretically, yes."
[00:29] <Yanmei> "Theoretically? I see. There simply aren’t enough units to do that yet, hence their being manufactured."
[00:30] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Indeed!" Said de Orleans enthusiastically, as if buoyed by Yanmei’s comprehension.
[00:37] <Yanmei> "But couldn't someone argue that the geographical distribution of the Angels' attacks are focused enough not to warrant such an elaborate effort? Aside from one or two, they've all been around the French area, haven't they?"
[00:38] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "They have, yes…" Said de Orleans. "And what happened during those ’one or two' other times?"
[00:40] <Yanmei> "Berlin-2. But that wasn't a matter of us not being able to reach them. You know how close Germany is."
[00:44] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "I do. And yet…" de Orleans tapped the table. "And yet. Defeating Qaphsiel still required all three Evangelions and the fortified defenses and infrastructure of Paris-2. I’ve heard the arguments for and against reinforcing Berlin-2. Nevertheless, the matter still stands that those 'one or two' other incidents are not irrelevant, nor are they meaningless, and by dint of attacking a city that was not Paris-2, all other cities are thus valid targets."
[00:49] <Yanmei> "What will the UN do with all of these units after the Angels are all destroyed? And for that matter, how many units are they relying on NERV to make? Given the cost of their creation, building enough units to create a support network like that goes a bit beyond my imagination."
[00:56] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "The UN demands 20 units by the end of 2016." Said de Orleans. "And the costs for construction and maintenance of the Evangelions -is- extremely high, it’s true. However, NERV predicts that by the end of 2016, EVA technology will be advanced enough that many of the expensive maintenance requirements will be rendered obselete- and furthermore, they also predict an Evangelion will, by the end of 2016, be capable of unlimited operation time and permanent sustained flight, allowing for extreme mobility and reduced operating costs. The rough estimate is that by the target date, operating 20 units then will be equal to operating 5 units now." de Orleans leaned back in his chair. "As for what will happen to the units after the Angels are destroyed? … I suspect a few might be kept around. Maybe to act as part of the UN Peacekeeping Forces, or, more likely, as tools that will rapidly accelerate human technology and scientific understandings."
[01:00] <Yanmei> "That sounds like a question you've answered many times before," Yanmei gave him a small smile. "You didn't even need to stop and think about the dates and numbers involved. I've one last question, if you don't mind?"
[01:03] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "I most certainly do have to answer that question often. But please proceed."
[01:14] <Yanmei> "Why did you let me select the potential pilots for 07? I’m not on the Instrumentality Committee, and I'm not a Director for NERV, so it probably doesn't have many ramifications outside of this room. Was it curiosity?"
[01:15] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "There are two reasons. First and foremost, I value your opinion. You’re an intelligent girl, and you know what it's like to be a Pilot. You're also probably one of the few willing to tolerate a politician like me." Said de Orleans.-
[01:15] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "And the other reason is this. May I have the Bellamys’ folder back, please?"
[01:17] * Yanmei handed it back, as requested. The praise should have made her feel good, or at least better than she felt now.
[01:17] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "I decided to myself to follow whatever decision you advised. With that in mind, I will now fully endorse the Bellamys as the pilots of EVA-07, under your advice."
[01:21] * Yanmei was… taken aback. "Just like that?" Had she influenced him that easily? Would he influence the others as well when it came time to make a final decision?
[01:24] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> "Indeed." He took a stamp off of his desk and stamped it onto the front of the folder. "I believe that, not counting myself, support for either pair is just about equal. So, in essence, by me endorsing the Bellamys, I have essentially deciding that they should pilot- that is, to say, -you- have essentially decided that they should pilot, so, they will."
[01:27] <Yanmei> "I see." This was what she wanted. There was no need to feel guilty about it. If such an influence would save Isaiah down the road, then she should be happy! "Thank you! It means a lot to have your faith in such a monumental decison."
[01:35] * @Gilles`de`Orleans slid the folder to one side and smiled. "It is power, is it not? The ability to make such decisions, but… Ah. We’ve become distracted! I called you here for another reason entirely, today…"
[01:38] <Yanmei> "Oh?" She smiled hard. "Do you have some more stories to share?"
[01:39] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Yes and no." He chuckled. "You never informed me your birthday was coming up!"
[01:42] <Yanmei> "O-oh, that?" Yanmei chuckled sheepishly. "It’s just a birthday…" She wasn't some little kid who got excited and expected tons of gifts and favors because of it. Although-
[01:43] <Yanmei> the thought of 04 in that silly party hat really did make her smile a little more broadly
[01:47] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "’Just a birthday'? Don't be silly. Birthdays are a special occasion! No need to belittle it. Either way, after discussing it with the gentle young man who seems to share your apartment I found you a special gift."
[01:50] <Yanmei> "Y-you were talking with Isaiah?" Shock! She had to fumble through it to to get back to her etiquette, and even that didn't work out completely. "You didn't have to. N-not that I'm belittling it, or my birthday. It's very kind of you."
[01:55] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Isaiah… Ah yes, that’s right." de Orleans reached out into a nearby briefcase, pulling out what looked like a DVD case. "A friend? Partner?" He smiled, placing the case down in front of Yanmei.
[01:58] <Yanmei> "A very very special friend," she said, reaching for the case. She looked at it one last time before she started to open it.
[02:00] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [The case itself was blank. And inside was, as expected, a DVD.-
[02:00] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> "It’s a DVD. In fact, it's a recording. Go on, ask."
[02:00] <Yanmei> "Heh heh. What's recorded on it?"
[02:06] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "It is a recording of a standard EVA Pilot selection meeting, held between the Committee and the three heads of NERV’s most powerful branches: France, that is, Commander Fontaine, Japan, headed by Commander Ikari Gendo, and Germany, headed by Commander Friedrich Meir. The meeting was held in late 2013, and, as is customary with these things, a witness with a close relationship to the prospective pilot in question was extensively interviewed by the entire meeting. That witness was Zhang Mingzhu."
[02:11] <Yanmei> There was no hiding the sharp intake of breath from that, though she did feel self-conscious about it afterward. "With this, I can see what happened during that meeting?"
[02:12] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "That’s right. You can see how a pilot decision meeting operates, and what questions are asked of a witness… And how your mother answered, naturally. Why don't you watch it here?"
[02:15] * Yanmei nodded, holding the disk very carefully, as if she was worried that it would suddenly shatter or be snatched away. "You don't mind?"
[02:15] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Of course not! After all, I was there for it, you know."
[02:18] <Yanmei> "Heh. Right! Thank you." She glanced around for a dvd player.
[13:24] <Yanmei> And so Yanmei wandered over to it to insert the DVD, navigate quickly through any bare-bones menus, and to hurry backward a few steps least she obstruct the view.
[13:27] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [The screen resolved into a recording… A high quality recording admittedly. It was a large room dominated by eight benches, each one organised so that the whole formed an octagonal shape. One bench, slightly higher than the others, showed Mary Caine sitting there; Yanmei would recognise de Orleans sitting to her right, Washington to her left, Shardlake to his left and another man she didn’t know next to de Orleans.-
[13:28] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [The other three people she couldn’t see just yet, thanks to the angle. "Ninth of October, 2013." Said Mary Caine. "Meeting to establish the validity of one Zhang Yanmei, citizen of the Chinese Federation, as an Evangelion pilot."]
[13:31] * Yanmei nearly fidgetted. It was a silly sensation, since she was hardly on the spot now. It was just a recording, and one that she was keeping a careful eye on for glimpses of her mother as well.
[13:52] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Witness in attendance: Zhang Mingzhu. Let’s not waste time." Said Mary Caine. A light flickered in the centre of the octagon, and a small one-man elevator rose out of the ground, Zhang Mingzhu within.]
[13:54] <Yanmei> "Rather to the point, hm?" She… stepped back a bit further in order to take a chair for herself, but she remained on the edge of her seat quite literally.
[13:57] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Zhang Mingzhu. You stand before the Human Instrumentality Committee and the three highest ranked members of NERV. Everything you say will be recorded. As such, you are considered to be under oath as per the NERV Charter and the UN Constitution. Are you aware of this binding?"-
[13:57] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Yes."-
[13:58] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Mary Caine folded her hands together. "All of us, starting from me and proceeding clockwise, will ask you two or three questions which you are encouraged to answer promptly. Are you prepared?"-
[13:59] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I am prepared."]
[14:00] <Yanmei> Of course she was prepared. She looked so professional, but that was hardly new. But Yanmei was also examining Caine as well, trying to get a feeling for her and those sitting with her. Mannerisms, facial expressions… things that she might encounter later.
[14:02] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Mary Caine looked firm. Unyielding. She did not fidget. She barely blinked. She stared, fully and hardly at Mingzhu.-
[14:02] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["You are Zhang Yanmei’s mother, correct?"-
[14:02] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["That is correct."-
[14:03] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["How old is she this year?" Asked Caine.-
[14:04] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["She turns 13 on the 28th of November." Said Mingzhu.-
[14:05] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["After Impact. Noted." Said Caine. "And her current occupation?"-
[14:06] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["A student at Deng Xiaopeng High School."]
[14:12] * Yanmei nodded as if agreeing with her. Hearing the name of her old school brought back flashes of happy memories, but she could dwell on those later
[14:16] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["And in what areas does Zhang Yanmei excel, academically?"-
[14:30] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["She has done well in Chinese History and the Social Studies." Said Mingzhu. "She is also doing acceptably well in English Studies."]
[14:32] <Yanmei> She knew that? Yanmei blinked, thinking of missed parent-teacher conferences and test scores she thought had gone ignored.
[14:33] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["And extracurricular wise?"-
[14:34] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["She is active in athletics at her school. Sprinting, track and field. She keeps in top physical shape."]
[14:36] <Yanmei> More memories, this time mixed with longing and sadness. She kept a stiff upper lip, however, hands clasped in her lap.
[14:37] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I see." said Caine. "Intelligent, with acceptable academic achievements and a high level of physical fitness. Washington? Would you like to proceed?"-
[14:39] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I would." The eagle-faced man known as Theodore Washington leaned forward. "Miss Zhang, you aren’t married, are you?"-
[14:39] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["I’m not, no."-
[14:39] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["So you raised Zhang Yanmei yourself?"-
[14:39] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I did."]
[14:42] * Yanmei switched her scrutiny to Washington now. She had only seen him in holographic form before after all. Maybe Leon Freeman could introduce them some day.
[14:45] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Has she been a disobedient or disrespectful child?"-
[14:45] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["No. She is perfectly obedient and respectful to not only myself but also other adults. She is polite and well-kept."]
[14:47] <Yanmei> Some vain part of her wondered with bated breath if Washington would compliment her mom on her parenting skills.
[14:49] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I find that hard to believe." Said Washington bluntly. "A single mother with a time-intensive career rarely breeds such a child without a good dose of the authoritarian and the draconian. You haven’t required to discipline her as a child? What about behavioural boundaries now that she's reaching adolescense?"-
[14:51] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Mingzhu stared at him, and whilst there wasn’t any overt anger in those eyes Yanmei would feel a sudden, ingrained chill down her spine. "I prefer to consider myself authoritative as opposed to authoritarian. However, even as a young girl she never gave me trouble. She was always very, very well-behaved that I myself haven't had to overly discipline her outside of the obvious that happens with any child."]
[14:57] * Yanmei suppressed an actual shiver. Washington was more of a jerk than she'd thought, so he deserved a few angry looks. Still, he was wrong, wasn't he? Was she weird or something? Or was this just their way of trying to shake up her Mom?
[14:58] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["I see. And what about her interactions with other children? Did she ever try to hurt them or bully them? Perhaps as an outlet for repressed anger due to a claustrophobic home life?"-
[14:58] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["… No."-
[14:58] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "This is Washington’s little game." Said de Orleans from the table, smiling. "He's trying to rile your mother up, you see."
[14:59] <Yanmei> "I thought as much. He'll probably find it difficult, though?"
[15:00] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Washington is quite adept at infuriating people. You’ll see."-
[15:02] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["And of yourself, Miss Zhang? Is it possible that you’re advocation of your daughter is a desire to see her gone? No doubt an annoying child is quite the, ah, dead weight to a ruthlessly career-oriented woman such as yourself. Throw her off to NERV and receive the benefits- how can it go wrong? Am I right?" There was a definite hint of a sneer there.]
[15:04] * Yanmei …clenched her hands. Doubt and worry seeped onto her face. Those were similar to the questions she had asked herself all this time. For a moment, she struggled with the urge to jump at the TV and shut off th DVD.
[15:06] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [There was a definite hint of anger in Mingzhu’s face, and Yanmei would see, just for a second, her mother's hands clench and unclench. But when the woman spoke it was with her usual sense of poise. "I assure you that's a false assumption. If I wanted Yanmei out of my hair I would've sent her to live with her uncle. I have no desire to see my daughter go anywhere."-
[15:07] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["No further questions. Shardlake."-
[15:07] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [The British Committee member nodded, clasping his hands together. "Let’s return to Zhang Yanmei's academic records for a moment, shall we…?"]
[15:09] * Yanmei …did not quite relax at that. Her academic records. And if Washington was supposed to be the infuriating one, Shardlake was supposed to be the anal retentive one. She remembered that clearly from Ariadne's lessons.
[15:11] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Poor results in chemistry. Poor results in physics. Average in mathematics." Said Shardlake, his tone highly critical. "Explain this."-
[15:11] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Mingzhu seemed honestly more taken aback by this criticism than she did the accusations of her being a horrible mother. "Well- That is, to say, she is more artistically minded."-
[15:12] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["’Artistically minded'?" Asked Shardlake, with a perfect balance of skepticism and disapproval.-
[15:13] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["She… Has never shown much fondness for science, or mathematics. She does as well as she needs to be in mathematics, but I doubt she sees herself as much of a scientist."-
[15:14] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["And yet you yourself are an advanced engineer in the employ of NERV." Said Shardlake. "Surely some of that would rub off on your daughter?"-
[15:14] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["It would seem not." Said Mingzhu quietly.]
[15:16] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei looked down. Now she was the one clenching and unclenching her hands. "Listening to him, you’d think I didn't try my best at it back then," she muttered under her breath.
[15:18] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "I believe that’s exactly what he was implying." Said de Orleans cheerfully. "Shardlake detests laziness, and unfortunately for you and me both, he was one of -those- people in school. The ones who excelled at everything."
[15:20] <Yanmei> "I see." She carefully tried to rally herself. "I'd shudder to think what that man would say if he saw my grades nowadays. French has… made school even more difficult."
[15:21] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "’You expect a little thing like a terrorist attack to stop your studies? Back in my day we had to put up with the Germans!' Mimicked de Orleans."
[15:22] * Yanmei could not help but giggle at that. "Nicely done," she grinned.
[15:22] * Gilles‘de`Orleans smiled happily. "You’re not the only person to ever suffer at the hands of Shardlake's venemous criticism."-
[15:26] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["The girl is clearly intelligent enough to do well in these subjects if she were to put her mind to it. Perhaps extra study is in order? It’s your fault as a parent that she's lacking aptitude in these areas. Either that or the girl is lazy. Extra study, perhaps at the cost of something less important, like socialising or free time… Unlike my colleague here, I suspect you're far too weak a mother."]
[15:31] * Yanmei felt the urge to fidget again. The old insecurities Shardlake was stirring up were things she had thought she had buried. She could still remember crumpling up and throwing away failing test grades before getting home. She hadn't been sure that her mother would see them -
[15:33] <Yanmei> but he couldn't risk that -disappointment-. Or the subsequent measures that might be taken to make her perform better. Her running practice might have even come under fire as a distraction.
[15:35] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["…" Mingzhu stared at Shardlake for a moment. "Noted, Mr. Shardlake. Nevertheless I’ll continue to deal with her as I see fit. The Evangelions do not require intense theoretical knowledge to operate, after all."-
[15:37] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["A solid point." Said Shardlake. "Still, a troubling set of circumstances. However- Commander Ikari, I yield to you."-
[15:38] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Ikari Gendo leaned forward. This was the first time Yanmei’d seen his face; a solid jawline, with a neatly-trimmed beard running across said jawline; a small goatee. A pair of glasses, with blue eyes behind them.]
[15:40] * Yanmei scrutinized him. Commander Ikari was the director for NERV Japan, was married to super scientist Yui Ikari, and was one hell of a big shot in his own right. -
[15:41] <Yanmei> He was also the father to Shinji and Rei. She couldn't imagine -not- running into him at some point, but even from this point she couldn't fathom what to say to him aside from awkward condolences.
[15:47] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Does your daughter have many friends?" Asked Ikari.-
[15:48] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["She is fairly popular, yes." Said Mingzhu hesitantly. "I admit to not knowing names, but she is often being entertained by friends or at parties."-
[15:48] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Any of them have strong political ties?"-
[15:49] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I… Do not know, but I don’t think so." Said Mingzhu.-
[15:50] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Do you have any political enemies, Zhang Mingzhu?"-
[15:50] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I do not."-
[15:50] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["So in your belief, there are no currently existing reasons that your daughter or yourself would be targetted for a terrorist attack or a politically motivated kidnapping? Or any of her friends?"-
[15:50] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["There are not."]
[16:32] <Yanmei> Thinking about such a thing seemed… oddly quaint now. Yanmei nearly smiled to herself. But after a moment realized how rude it was under the circumstances, and forced any traces of it from her face.
[16:34] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Do you think she would fit in well with her colleagues? From what I have heard, you suggest she takes well to authority and is friendly. But there is a high chance of her colleagues being Neospartans… They might not give her much respect."-
[16:34] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I don’t think that's much of a problem." Said Mingzhu firmly. "If they don't respect her on meeting she'd ensure that they grow to do so."]
[16:37] <Yanmei> Respect? From Neospartans? Well, she didn't think any -hated- her, at least. Her mom sounded so confident, though…
[16:38] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["No further questions." Ikari fell silent.-
[16:38] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Your daughter is not aware of the existence of the Evangelions, is she?" Asked… Commander Fontaine. She was sitting directly opposite Mary Caine.-
[16:38] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["She is not, no."-
[16:40] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Mm… She doesn’t have any history of mental trauma?"-
[16:40] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["No. No mental problems."-
[16:40] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["And she never knew her father… Tell me, how likely is it that your daughter will take piloting seriously?"-
[16:41] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I think she will treat it with the gravitas the situation requires…"]
[16:43] <Yanmei> What, did they think she would treat 04 like a toy or something? Or ditch practice in cases when it wasn’t absolutely neccesary? Yanmei tossed her hair with a silent scoff.
[16:45] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Being a pilot is not like being a soldier." Said Fontaine. "It’s mentally taxing and requires a good deal of endurance and willpower. Honestly, there are not many reasons we should choose your daughter when there are a bevy of more competently trained and conditioned Neospartans willing to take the position."]
[16:47] <Yanmei> So why did they? Her critical frown only seemed to grow more critical.
[16:48] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Furthermore, do you even know if your daughter would -want- to do this?" Asked Fontaine. "What about her own ambitions?"-
[16:48] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I cannot say. She is still too young to think of a career or the like." Said Mingzhu.]
[16:49] <Yanmei> W-wait a minute…
[16:51] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["But what of her current interests? Her sports, her history and social scores…?"-
[16:51] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["…" Mingzhu frowned tightly. "As I said. Still too young to think of a career."]
[16:54] <Yanmei> That wasn’t fair. What about running? What about her future at school? She hadn't been able to think of what she wanted to do with herself back then - or now - but that didn't mean that she wouldn't eventually…
[17:00] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["You don’t approve of Yanmei's current direction, do you, Miss Zhang?" Asked Fontaine carefully.-
[17:01] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["I… It’s not that I do not approve. I merely want to make sure she has all the options in front of her first. So she is instilled with genuine ambition instead of settling for something she merely enjoys."]
[17:05] <Yanmei> Confusion and slight distress mingled inside of her. What did that mean? What was wrong with doing something she liked?
[17:06] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["I dislike this angle of disrupting a girl’s life when we have perfectly acceptable Neospartans available." Said Fontaine. "No further questions."-
[17:07] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["What are your daughter’s policies on violence? Her philosophies? Would she kill another human being if asked?" Asked Commander Meir of Germany.-
[17:08] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["She would require training to do that. But I have not bred her to be a murderer." Said Mingzhu. The woman gave off the distinct feeling of being frazzled by now- there was a protesting, tired edge to her words.]
[17:09] * Yanmei was thinking quietly to herself now, still a little shaken by the previous line of questioning. Tired… she didn’t blame her for being tired at this point.
[17:10] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["But do you think she has the temperament to kill another?" Asked Meir. "The killer’s instinct? Basically, could your daughter become our monster on demand?"-
[17:10] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["… No." Admitted Mingzhu.]
[17:12] <Yanmei> "…" Who would even ask something like that? Is that what they expected from her?
[17:14] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Our Neospartan pilots are trained to be able to kill. They do it professionally and dispassionately. We cannot have any potential pilots shy away from causing pain, even if the creature being hurt is an alien… But it’s equally dangerous to have someone bloodthirsty pilot an EVA unit. No further questions."-
[17:15] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [The HIC member Yanmei didn’t recognise sat forward. He had thick eyebrows and a deep, brooding expression.-
[17:15] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Vladimir Romanov. Russia." said de Orleans.-
[17:17] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["How likely is it that your daughter would become a vulnerable individual far from home?" Asked Romanov.-
[17:17] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Vulnerable?"-
[17:21] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Mm. How close is she to her homeland? If she were to have to depart for a good long time she might easily become homesick and feel lonely."-
[17:22] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["… I am sure she would be tough enough to endure that."]
[17:23] <Yanmei> That much was true. She started to relax a little again, bit by bit. She had lived up to her mother’s expectations in that way, at least.
[17:25] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["What about romantic partners? Girls her age can form attachments easily and become very disrupted should they break, especially if they’ve become sexually active. The last thing we need is an Evangelion in the hands of a moping, pining teenage girl, Miss Zhang."-
[17:26] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["…! Indeed! But I assure you Yanmei has no such attachments." She said with a tone that suggested that the very idea was confronting.]
[17:27] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei looked away briefly to hide the guilt in her eyes. "Of… of course i didn’t."
[17:29] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["No further questions on my part. It seems obvious that she has no history of substance abuse or medical problems…"-
[17:29] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Ahem." The gentle voice of de Orleans from the recording. "Miss Zhang, do you love your daughter?"-
[17:29] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["…! What-" Mingzhu was taken aback. "What kind of question is that?"]
[17:31] * Yanmei blinked at that too, glancing at the real de Orleans with some embarrassment, as if she too had the same question in mind.
[17:31] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Give me a minute." Said the real de Orleans, winking. "This is where it gets good."-
[17:33] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["A simple question, miss Zhang. Do you love her?"-
[17:34] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Yes… Yes. Of course I do. She’s my daughter." Said Mingzhu quietly. "I love her."-
[17:34] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["So I have a question. You were willing to answer our questions and you have done your best to frame your daughter in an appealing light. Tell me truly, you wish for her to become a pilot, yes?"-
[17:34] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I do."-
[17:34] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Why?"]
[17:37] <Yanmei> "Why?" Yanmei echoed. She guessed on instinct. "Because it would make her proud." But it felt like an incomplete answer at best.
[17:51] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I was 22 during Second Impact. A fresh university graduate. I was 8 months pregnant. My partner died in the floods." She said, in the iron tone of someone who had long since come to terms with a troubled past. "I escaped the flooding. With a car, no less. I gave birth to Yanmei in a medical tent. I wasn’t alone. The level of chaos in China was unimaginable." Said Mingzhu quietly. "After that, I was able to stay with some family and rebuild. I tried to study an advanced course, but it was… Hard. From the very beginning. Most of the large cities were either destroyed, like Guangzhou or Shanghai, or utterly swamped with refugees. Most universities weren't operating at all. It was a difficult time to be alive. But I was also a woman without a partner- and I'm sure that the women in his conference know how quickly women's rights eroded in some countries. Women have often had trouble finding high-paying or ambitious work in China." Slowly but surely, Mingzhu's composure was starting to return.-
[17:56] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["I’m not going to lie and say that everything I did in the post-Impact world was for Yanmei. It simply wasn't. Many of the things I did because I had to do it for myself, or because I had the opportunity to further my own goals. And I was rewarded for it." Said Mingzhu. "I was hired by Beijing-2 reconstruction projects, and then later on I became part of NERV, where my talents were recognised. But then I started to think about my daughter's future, because I felt that mine was now secure. I did not want my daughter to live as I did, having to struggle against everything to achieve her own ambition. I didn't want her to have to feel like she should settle for something… Simple. Something ordinary. My daughter, I thought, should do something grand with her life instead of just be another citizen in a country of 400 million. So… When I was approached about the possibility of her becoming an Evangelion pilot, I knew that this was the opportunity I had been waiting for.-
[18:00] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["She might not appreciate what I’m trying to do. She might hate me or resent me, but that's alright. I don't care if she abandons me, because if that's part of the price I have to pay to see her achieve her full potential, then so be it. But I -know- that she will excel in this. She is healthy, enthusiastic, obedient, intelligent. She is my daughter! She -will- save the world, and once that role comes to an end the world she saved will reward her for it. Every door will be open to her. She can do whatever she wishes, without any limit due to gender role, or expectation, or ethnicity or anything. She will be free, and in a thousand years time, people will -still- remember her name."]
[18:03] * Yanmei merely gazed at the screen, speechless. All of that… She swallowed a few times, shifting her eyes to the carpet of the room instead, trying to decide what to think. This was how her mother truly felt?
[18:08] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["I see…" Said the de Orleans of 2013. "No further questions."-
[18:08] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Then we thank you for your contribution, Miss Zhang." Said Caine.-
[18:09] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["My honour." Said Mingzhu, bowing slightly as the elevator started to slide into thr ground.-
[18:10] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Very well." Caine leaned back. "We have heard the arguments, interviewed the mother. Let us hold the vote. Should we, the Human Instrumentality Committee and the three Commanders of NERV’s largest branches, agree to designate Zhang Yanmei as the Third Child, pilot of an Evangelion Unit, protector of human existence? I say, aye."-
[18:10] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Aye." Said Washington.-
[18:10] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["… Aye." Said Shardlake.-
[18:11] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["…" Ikari clasped his hands together. "Aye."-
[18:11] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Nay." Said Fontaine.-
[18:11] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Nay." Said Meir.-
[18:11] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Aye." Said Romanov.-
[18:11] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Aye." Said de Orleans.-
[18:11] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Six to two. Motion is passed."]
[18:13] <Yanmei> "And… it ends with a vote, just as I was told," Yanmei murmured. She was still very distracted, but she was coming around gradually.
[18:14] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "A vote. A sham vote, in a sense." Said de Orleans with a smile. "The Committee always votes the same way. But… That is how it is. What do you think of that?"
[18:15] <Yanmei> "It’s a lot to take in," she admitted. Yanmei wavered with the emotions that had threatened to overcome her near the end, but did her best to sweep them neatly out of the way.-
[18:19] <Yanmei> "It's a gauntlet of difficult questions designed to nudge the witness out of their comfort zone and to reveal flaws in the candidate. If my mother had lost her cool and started yelling - not that she would - I wonder how that would have effected things."
[18:23] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "In a sense, providing she still said what she said, her hypothetical tantrum would have changed little. We wanted to reveal flaws in you, it’s true, but we also wanted to get a feel for your -strengths- as a person. Of course, her staying in control helped considerably to strengthen the legitimacy of her claims. But it is true that you are a generally solid candidate." Said de Orleans. "You are also one of the few people capable of synchronising with 04, which only helped that cause. But, do you know what -is- fascinating?"
[18:24] <Yanmei> "What's that?"
[18:24] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "It isn’t shown here, but afterwards, in a more informal manner, we discussed -why- we voted the way we did- or rather, Meir and Fontaine discussed why they voted against you."
[18:25] <Yanmei> "I was wondering that," she admitted. Or, she would have gotten to wondering about it after she'd had a bit more time to think and digest what she had seen.
[18:25] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Would you like to hear why?"
[18:26] * Yanmei nodded.
[23:11] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Meir is a very conservative individual when it comes to the Evangelions. He believes the only people willing to pilot them are soldiers; people willing to die. Professionals. He believed you didn’t have what it took."
[23:13] * Yanmei nodded. "I doubt he would be the only one to think that? I'm sure there are members of the public and NERV who agree."
[23:15] * Gilles‘de`Orleans nodded slowly. "Indeed. Meir was heavily connected with the Neospartan project, so you can see why he might have that bias for other reasons, too."
[23:16] <Yanmei> The ever-talented Neospartans. "It did come as a surprise that there weren’t more of them piloting. Their numbers are about even with non-Neospartan pilots, maybe a little less. But what about Commander Fontaine?"
[23:18] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Ah, well. Commander Fontaine is an odd woman. She challenged your appointment for two reasons."
[23:21] <Yanmei> "She also seemed bothered by the fact that I wasn’t a Neospartan," Yanmei noted. Maybe she was bothered by the fact that she wasn't Alexandre in particular? But that would imply that the lady felt bad for him, or indeed, felt anything toward him.
[23:27] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "That was part of it. But… Hm. How can I put it. She believed that you shouldn’t be a Pilot because Fontaine is of the opinion that the only people who pilot it are people who realise the full potential of their station. People who realise fully exactly what they're going into and have the ambition to use that to its fullest extent in all facets of their life. In essence, she didn't believe your ambitions were up to her standard."
[23:31] <Yanmei> Ambition again. Yanmei glanced away, troubled. Her mother hadn't cared for her lack of clear ambition either. "It's not like I've failed to capitalize on my position when needed?" she said.
[23:34] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Ah, I know. But it’s not how Fontaine sees it, exactly. What can I say? However, that does lead into the second point." Said de Orleans. "She felt that, since your ambitions didn't seem appropriate to her eyes… Taking you out of a situation where you were thriving, and clear to achieve whatever ambitions -you- then wanted, into a situation alien to your wants, would be a paramount cruelty and supremely unfair to you."
[23:37] <Yanmei> "Commander -Fontaine- said that?" Yanmei looked back at him in shock now. Would that thought even occur to someone who was as focused on NERV's mission as she was? It was… startlingly insightful.
[23:40] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "She did. You seem a little surprised."
[23:42] <Yanmei> "It doesn’t seem like she would take the pilot's feelings into consideration when making a decision like this."
[23:45] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Mmm. She does, surprisingly enough. She never ignores the pilot’s feelings… It's just that she -also- takes the pragmatic into consideration as well, and often one outweighs the other. You were something of a special case."
[23:47] <Yanmei> "Special? I wonder why that was." Weird, weird, weird. Between this and discussions of Mazarin, her view of Fontaine was starting to get a bit… cloudy as of late. She didn't like it.
[23:49] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Well. You -are- the most normal of all the pilots. Perhaps she just wanted to spare you that fate. A normal person and a normal life…?"
[23:52] <Yanmei> "…" So if Fontaine had gotten her way, she would still be living peacefully in Beijing. The two of them actually wanting the same thing in their respective roles… that was difficult to accept.
[23:53] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Maybe you should ask her about it."
[23:54] <Yanmei> "I’m not sure that's the best idea. We're not on the greatest of terms right now. But I want to thank you for showing this recording to me. It's given me a lot to think about."
[23:55] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "That’s my pleasure. Will you be staying for tea? Lucille the Maid is very interested in you, you know."
[23:57] <Yanmei> "Is she?" The lady that led her in? "In that case, I'll certainly stay. I… admit that I haven't been in the company of maids too often, though."
[23:59] * Gilles‘de`Orleans chuckles. "There are fewer maids nowadays, it’s true. But Lucille is one of them. She's more of a friend, actually. Her family have been assisting the de Orleans for generations- why, her mother was my nanny. I used to mind Lucille when I was a teen- how the tables have turned, hm?"
[00:02] * Yanmei laughed softly. "So they have! I should compliment you both on how lovely the house looks as well. You can tell that it's kept it great order."
[00:03] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Ah, thank you." Said de Orleans. "It actually belonged to my father, who built it as a country getaway house. This was long before Paris-2, of course." He winked. "Of course, I have no one to pass it on to…"
[00:06] <Yanmei> "No?" Yanmei blinked in surprise, and then backpeddled a little. Likely the result of Second Impact. "I’m sorry. I had no idea."
[00:08] * Gilles‘de`Orleans chuckled. "Don’t apologise. It's not like I lost anything. I simply never married. I am an eternal bachelor…" He let out a little sigh and smiled. "It can be a little depressing, I think, getting to be as old as I am without children. You get to my age and you feel as though everything is over and done… But with children, well, you want to see how it turns out… Well, no matter."
[00:13] <Yanmei> "You're an awfully busy person, though. Maybe it's for the best? Kids can be pretty distracting."
[00:16] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "So can friends."
[00:17] * Yanmei mock-pouted. "Are you calling me a distraction, Monsieur de Orleans?"
[00:18] * Gilles`de`Orleans chuckles. "No, I’m calling your friend Isaiah a distraction." He put on a critical, overblown British accent. "Clearly your grades would be better if you stopped associating with him…"
[00:21] * Yanmei giggled a little, but, it hit a little close to home since actually did sound like the sort of criticism she might eventually encounter. Was he really a distraction? "I'm probably lucky my current guardian loves him and doesn't see him that way at all."
[00:22] * Gilles‘de`Orleans chuckles indulgently. "Well. Let me ask you this: even if he is a distraction, is he worth it?"
[00:23] <Yanmei> "I’d say so. He's a very good friend, and I've relied on his support and understanding during difficult moments. I want to protect him."
[00:24] * Gilles‘de`Orleans nodded slowly. "You see? I think that’s how I feel about not having children. They might be a distraction, but sometimes I would like someone to protect and love."
[00:28] <Yanmei> "Ah, I see." Could she make an offer to him? If she did, it would be pretty presumptuous. He wasn't like Marianne. They had only known each other for a few months. "We should hang out more often," is what she said instead. "I feel like I always learn so much when we meet and chat."
[00:32] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Indeed." Said de Orleans. "And it’s fascinating to see how -you- digest information as well."
[00:35] <Yanmei> "Me?" She glanced back at the DVD a little wryly. "I wasn't doing as much of that today as I'd hoped. Instead of analysing, I was getting caught up with the answers that I was hearing. But… I suppose that remark isn't just limited to reactions to your birthday gift?"
[00:36] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Of course not." Said de Orleans with a chuckle. "Simply put, watching you digest information shows how you learn. And if anything I am hoping you learn things from me, which you say you do."
[00:42] <Yanmei> "I do!" Yanmei nodded in agreement. "I’ve learned a lot. And I genuinely enjoy our discussions, too. Sometimes I wonder if there aren't more things I could do for you in exchange for some of the lessons we've had."
[00:44] * Gilles‘de`Orleans chuckles. "You do plenty for me already. You keep me company!"
[00:46] <Yanmei> "Well, then. I’ll continue to do that!" she grinned.
[00:46] * Gilles‘de`Orleans merely smiled.-
[00:47] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [The door opened, and Lucille the maid entered, carrying a tray of tea with several teacups. She set it down on the table. "Monsieur. Mademoiselle."]
[00:48] <Yanmei> "Thank you~" Yanmei almost hesistated to touch the delicate little cups personally. "Is it all right if you join us?"
[00:51] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Lucille looked over at de Orleans, who smiled. The maid smiled in return, pulling out a chair and sitting down. "That’s fine."]
[00:52] <Yanmei> "So, then," she began, and launched into some cheerful small talk to entertain their new maid guest.

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