For Meeting A Lonely Fan

[21:34] * Yanmei …was not in the best of moods. She took a moment to glower at the door of Natasha's assigned guest room. It hadn't been difficult to get the information about which one it was from the receptionist's desk, but now that she was here, she was certain that there was something behind the door that would make her feel even worse. -
[21:35] <Yanmei> She put on a smile, though. Perfected it carefully. Then, she knocked.
[21:35] <Natasha> "Come in!"
[21:37] * Yanmei obliged. "Miss Volkova? It's Pilot Zhang. How are you today?"
[21:47] <Natasha> The room was small- Yanmei knew the type. Simple, with a bed, a desk, a wardrobe. Natasha had collected up her plush toys and action figures and placed them on her bed. She herself was sitting at her desk- painting what looked to be a completed resin model kit of EVA-00. She looked up- and turned red. "U-Um."
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[21:49] * Yanmei closed the door firmly behind her, and casually leaned against it. No place to run this time. "Aha. Playing with toys again? Do you mind if we chat while you do that?"
[21:50] <Natasha> "U-U-Uh." Natasha eyed the door, a familiar expression of panic crossing her face. She looked up at Yanmei with pitiful, panicking eyes. "T-That is f-fine."
[21:54] <Yanmei> "Good. There’s a lot we don't know about each other, after all?" She smiled harder. "Which school do you go to? I attend Saint Louis High School. Classes are about to start back up. There was a bit of a break before, you know, thanks to it sustaining damage."
[21:56] <Natasha> "U-U-Uh, I-I-I d-don't a-attend s-school."
[21:56] <Yanmei> "No?" she looked surprised. "Why not?"
[21:59] * Natasha looked flustered and awkward, but she stood up and rushed over to her wardrobe- going through what appeared to be a suitcase of sorts. Eventually, she pulled out a picture frame and showed it to Yanmei.-
[21:59] <Natasha> It wasn't… Exactly a picture frame. It was a framed degree, written in Russian. Natasha seemed acutely uncomfortable.
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[22:00] <Yanmei> "Ehhh?" She… almost couldn't believe what she was seeing. This girl was a college graduate?! "That's… impressive. Which field did you study?"
[22:07] <Natasha> "U-U-U-Um." Natasha blushed deeply at the compliment. "M-Military S-Strategy and M-Modern M-Military H-History, m-majoring in T-the h-h-h-h-h-" The girl started to stutter wildly.
[22:13] <Yanmei> "A military tactician? Heh heh. That's perfect." She stepped forward. "The others and me were discussing this sort of thing recently. How to become better tacticians so we can make better decisions. Studying other battles in history are a great way to do that, hm?"
[22:16] <Natasha> "Y-Y-Yes." Blurted out Natasha, shaking her head furiously in shame. "D-D-D-Did you k-know th-that f-for the B-B-Battle of A-A-Austerlitz, N-Na-Napoleon B-Boneparte d-d-deliberately w-weakened h-his r-right flank t-to t-trick the A-Austrian-R-Russian forces i-into f-focusing on t-that part, s-so he could b-break their c-centre?" She blathered, grabbing at the first fact that came into her head.
[22:18] <Yanmei> "Fascinating." She crossed the room, then, sitting down on the bed, toppling a few of the toys in the process. "Seems a bit cruel to his own men, though, using them like decoys like that?"
[22:22] <Natasha> "W-W-Well." Natasha stared at the toys as they toppled, and her hand twitched. "W-W-Well, t-the f-flank h-held and t-the Austrian-R-Russians d-didn't d-do as m-much d-d-amage as e-expected, a-and N-Napoleon w-won a great v-victory, s-so it was p-probably t-tactically w-worth it…"
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[22:33] <Yanmei> "Well, that was lucky for them~ If I were a soldier, though, I would have been furious." She crossed her legs. "Do you play chess, Volkova? You'd probably be really beastly at it."
[22:35] <Natasha> "U-U-Um, I-I know h-how to play, b-but I was n-never v-very g-good at it."
[22:38] <Yanmei> "Same here. But that's a shock coming from you, since you know so much."
[22:39] <Natasha> "I-I don't play v-very often." Said Natasha, who stumbled over to her toppld toys and started setting them up straight again. "I-I o-only u-used to p-play a-at school a-and I n-never won."
[22:43] <Yanmei> "So your opponents were somehow even more beastly." Yanmei sighed. "They say that genius is only relative. Oh well~" She shifted her weight, sending a few more figurines toppling. "Whoops! Excuse me."
[23:05] * Natasha whined, setting them straight again. "P-P-Please be c-careful. A-And m-my opponents w-were all NeoSpartans…"
[23:13] * Yanmei examined a 04 figurine. Only briefly, however before she swapped it out for a less unnerving 00 doll. "I guess that explains it. Normal kids are way behind when it comes to you guys. Ah, I'm almost jealous!" Still gripping 00, she stood up abruptly. "I wish I was finished with school, at least. I'd go shopping and play sports all day every day."
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[23:21] <Yanmei> [23:05] * Natasha whined, setting them straight again. "P-P-Please be c-careful. A-And m-my opponents w-were all NeoSpartans…"
[23:21] <Yanmei> [23:13] * Yanmei examined a 04 figurine. Only briefly, however before she swapped it out for a less unnerving 00 doll. "I guess that explains it. Normal kids are way behind when it comes to you guys. Ah, I’m almost jealous!" Still gripping 00, she stood up abruptly. "I wish I was finished with school, at least. I'd go shopping and play sports all day every day."
[23:23] * Natasha stared protectively at the doll before looking up at Yanmei. "Y-You don't like school? B-But…"
[23:27] <Yanmei> "Since transferring to school here, homework takes twice as long. And I have additional lessons to worry about, too. Tutoring in French and all." She flashed a grin. "However, school is still very important, and an important part of being a well-rounded citizen. So I have to go and make the most of it."
[23:28] <Natasha> "T-T-That's right. A-And you make friends…"
[23:32] <Yanmei> "You took the words right out my mouth." She turned to the girl with a nod. "Say, Volkova. Did you have a lot of friends when you were in school?"
[23:34] * Natasha shook her head. "I-I w-wasn't… W-Well l-liked b-by the NeoSpartans. T-They thought I-I was the weakest…"
[23:35] <Yanmei> "And what do they think now? And furthermore, what do you think?"
[23:37] <Natasha> "I-I haven't really spoken to a-another… I-In a while." Mumbled Natasha. She scratched the back of her neck, and looked up at Yanmei. "I-I passed the p-program. S-So I… I'm w-worthy to be called a NeoSpartan… B-But…"
[23:40] <Yanmei> "But you're still unsure. Otherwise, you would have gotten over your worries and talked to at least one other by now. Although, I suppose there was no reason to, since they looked down on you?"
[23:44] <Natasha> "Y-Yeah…"
[23:45] * Natasha seemed hesitant. Definitely uncertain. She didn't like to think about this…
[23:47] * Yanmei looked the girl up and down for a moment, her smile growing sweeter. "Hey. Let's fight each other. Or… spar, I should say."
[23:47] <Natasha> "H-Huh? What!?"
[23:50] <Yanmei> "I say things like 'I like sports,' but the truth is, my health has declined a lot since becoming a pilot. Aside from that, I've only been training for a short time compared to you. I have a feeling I'll barely keep up? But still." She made some vague gesture with 00. "I want to see for myself how strong or weak you are."
[23:51] <Natasha> "Um." Natasha flushed, getting to her feet. "I-I d-don't think… I-If you want me to…"
Session Time: Fri Jun 10 00:00:00 2011
[00:02] <Yanmei> "Good!" Yanmei beamed. "Not here, though. This facility has some great training features. We should use them." She patted Natasha gently on the shoulder and tried to guide her toward the door. "It's comparatively close to the EVA hangar too. So if you haven't had a tour of it already, maybe afterward…"
[00:02] <Natasha> "Um… A-Alright." Said Natasha meekly, letting Yanmei guide her.
[00:09] <Yanmei> [It wouldn't be long before the pair found themselves in the large room that the pilots had come to know as the spot where private melee combat lessons were held - although its usage was certainly open to the rest of NERV's employees as well. Its floor was covered with stiff, gray tumbling mats, and after some fumbling around with a key, Yanmei would open a large closet to a supply of protective gear and mock weapons.]
[00:10] <Yanmei> "Bare-fisted, or should we use weapons? Your choice."
[00:10] <Natasha> "… Um, weapons."
[00:13] * Yanmei snatched up and twirled a pair of combat knives. Or… things that were meant to approximate them, anyway. "Don't forget to grab some padding too." She tried not to sound too cheerful
[00:15] * Natasha took a long wooden blade- the proximation of a long sword. She made sure to grab the padding, too!
[00:25] <Yanmei> Adjusting the last of her gear as the two made their way to the center of the mat, Yanmei gave her weapons one last twirl, and… "Here we go! Ready or not!!" She dashed at the poor girl and sliced… air.
[00:32] * Natasha leaned smoothly back- although Yanmei's strike was off enough for it to not be needed. She twirled the blade in a guarded stance before smacking it two-handed into Yanmei's ribs.
[00:42] * Yanmei grunted, but tried to keep going. Her slices were decently fast, but when the first one landed and bounced off the padding easily, a horrible realization dawned on her. This was not working.
[00:48] * Natasha barely grunted as the blow bounced off- and swept forward with a strike straight at Yanmei's head! … Only to feint at the last second and swing low.
[00:56] * Yanmei blinked at the sudden redirection, but when the actual strike missed, she lashed at Natasha again.
[00:57] * Natasha had a certain rhythm to her movements, and as she leaned back she made a return swipe at Yanmei- that went wide as well!
[01:02] * Yanmei struck again, this time slower, but that was because she was taking her time focusing. What the hey… if Natasha couldn't feel it behind that padding, that just meant she could hit her more, right?
[01:04] * Natasha ignored the blow. "Y-Yaaaaaah!" Two furious, crushing swings of the blade!
[01:05] * Yanmei deflected, a little surprised by the force behind it. "Hehehe. That's the spirit!"
[01:07] <Natasha> "!" Natasha was open…!
[01:12] * Yanmei took advantage of it with a sharp blow of her own, following through with all of her strength!
[01:23] <Natasha> "Guh…" Natasha felt that one- but it wasn't enough to stop her returning a blow!
[01:25] * Yanmei scrambled to avoid it and found herself… with her back inches away from the open supply closet. Had they really traveled that far off center? No matter. She dumped her knives, snatching two, sturdier blunt clubs instead.
[01:30] <Natasha> Natasha's eyes widened- and she threw the sword aside. In a spectacle worthy of an action movie, she did three backflips and flung open another closet- and took out a heavy-looking one-handed hammer.
[01:31] <Yanmei> Tch. Show off. Yanmei ran at her swinging one club hard, but it skimmed just barely past Natasha.
[01:46] * Natasha leaned back… Then, with sudden quickness, kneed Yanmei straight in the gut- then, pulling her leg back, kicked her in her off-knee!
[01:47] <Yanmei> "Ghk-!!!" She felt that. But the padded armor protected her from the worst of it, leaving her on the floor but just a little surprised.
[01:49] * Natasha followed it up with surprising ruthlessness, twirling her hammer in her hand before swinging it down on Yanmei!
[01:54] * Yanmei was not too surprised to deflect the blow with a club before it slammed into her, bouncing the head of the hammer to the floor next to her instead. She scrambled to her feet, and breathing much harder than before, spun her other club at Natasha, going far far far too wide to hit.
[02:05] * Natasha countered this time- whirling the hammer down hard on Yanmei's right shoulder.
[02:09] <Yanmei> Which sent her whirling herself! Back into the open doors of the same closet from before, her clubs dropping from her hands. Struggling to catch her breath, and to figure out where her enemy was standing again, and yanked a fresh weapon from the rack - an enormous poleaxe. The axe part sagged abruptly toward the ground as soon as it was free, and she stared at it, surprised at the weight in comparison to the others
[02:10] <Natasha> "…" Natasha dropped the hammer, and bolted forward, unarmed- but she couldn't find purchase. She held off for now…
[02:13] <Yanmei> "Ha!" A second to adjust for weight after the other girl held herself at bay. Yanmei lifted it overhead and brought it down, clumsily, practically glowing in excitement.
[02:15] <Natasha> The blade missed easily- and Natasha let off a whip-crack like smack to Yanmei's arm, barely noticeable…
[02:17] * Yanmei just tried again, beaming! Winning or loosing didn't matter. As long as she hit -someone- with this thing! It was big enough to sting without or without padding!
[02:19] * Natasha dodged again- but this time, with a sudden ferocity, knocked the axe aside with a kick and tackled Yanmei, pinning her arms back!
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[02:21] <Yanmei> "Wh-wha?! Yanmei certainly wasn't anticipating -that-. She struggled.
[02:28] * Natasha tried to elbow Yanmei now in the ribs, but that damn padding-!
[02:29] <Yanmei> Momentarily forgetting the axe, Yanmei finally managed to wriggle herself around, rolling Natasha beneath her instead.
[02:30] <Natasha> It… Worked! "Wh-What, no-!"
[02:31] <Yanmei> "Give up?" Yanmei demanded.
[02:32] <Natasha> "…!" A sudden knee to Yanmei's gut- and once again Yanmei would be rolled over and pinned down. "N-Never…!"
[02:34] <Yanmei> "Urk!" Again with the knees to the gut! Yanmei growled under her breath, and tried to swing herself by to the top of the heap, but she couldn't seem to get enough momentum, unlike last time. "Nnngh!"
[02:39] <Natasha> "D-Do -you- give up?!"
[02:42] * Yanmei gave her a pouting look. For a while, she struggled some more, and then she groaned. "F-fine. Fine."
[02:44] <Natasha> "W-wait, really?"
[02:44] <Yanmei> "Why do you sound so surprised?"
[02:47] <Natasha> "I-I… I didn't think I'd win." Natasha didn't move, but just sort of stared at Yanmei in wonder. "N-Not against a superior opponent…"
[02:50] <Yanmei> "Heh. Superior. In terms of weapon choice and technique, I made so many mistakes. You had the upper hand for the entire fight." She frowned. "It's always like this. In 04, too. Ah… could you let me go, please?"
[02:56] <Natasha> "E-Erm. C-C-Can't I j-just s-savor the moment for a bit?"
[02:57] <Yanmei> "In this position?" Yanmei sighed, tired. Come on, give her a break, here…
[02:59] <Natasha> "E-Er…" Natasha suddenly let Yanmei go and rolled to the side, bringing her knees up to her chin. "S-Sorry…"
[03:02] * Yanmei sat up. Tried to. The padding made it hard, and she had to roll over and push herself up with her hands. "Stop that, okay? You can't be moping around if you're going to see the EVAs up close, right?"
[03:05] <Natasha> "…" Natasha blushed, and started to peel off the padding. "S-Sorry. E-Er! I I-I mean…"
[03:08] <Yanmei> "Calm down, Volkova." She started stripping her own padding off, too, casting another look to the weapons. The big axe in particular made her feel a strange longing. "Let's clean this place up before we go, okay?"
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[03:10] <Natasha> "A-Alright. A-A-and, um, please…"
[03:10] <Yanmei> "Yes?"
[03:11] <Natasha> "Please, c-call me Natasha…"
[03:14] <Yanmei> "…" Axe. She smiled, though. "Of course, Natasha."
[03:25] * Natasha gave Yanmei a warm, if uncertain, timid smile. "Thank you." She started to clean up!
[03:27] * Yanmei smiled back, naturally. She did her part to clean up too! And after that, it was on to the cages. Despite the destination and the company, there was a distinct lack of dread pumping through Yanmei's veins at the moment. Leftover adrenaline had taken its place for now.
[03:32] <Natasha> Before long, they'd finished, and Natasha was waiting for Yanmei!
[03:36] * Yanmei led the way, of course. "This way, please~" Along the way, she pointed out various sites of interest - an alternate route to the Operation Director's office, a room that was sometimes used for poker games and various other activities for staff when off-duty, a few more doors that led to mysterious things in the Science Division, the door to the weapons hangar. -
[03:39] <Yanmei> There was something off about the cages when they arrived, and Yanmei wasn't really sure why until they were on their way to the EVA-level platforms by elevator. There were fewer people around. Perhaps that's because there weren't any battles or testing going on today, unlike nearly all of the other times she had visited.
[03:39] <Yanmei> Finally they stopped, and the doors opened…
[03:45] <Natasha> [They emerged into the open- and instantly, within sight were… Them. The three Evangelions- an unusual, red one- a green and orange, thickly armoured model- and the confident-looking, fierce purple-and-white EVA-04. Tall- 40 metres tall-, peerless… Suspended for now in thick, hardened bakelite, but nevertheless in view.-
[03:45] * Natasha let out a gasp next to Yanmei, and retreated backwards.
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[03:47] <Yanmei> "A big change from your dolls, huh?" Yanmei chuckled. She didn’t seem to eager to step forward much further herself, but at least she was being casual about it. "Is it your first time seeing one this close?"
[03:47] <Natasha> "Y-Y-Yes…"
[03:48] <Yanmei> "Well." She flourished a hand toward 04. "This is reality. And if you're going to pilot too? You should get used to this much, at least."
[03:52] * Natasha bowed her head and mumbled something, shaking a little.
[03:54] <Yanmei> Did she finally get it? How scary these damned things were? Heaven help her when she actually climbed inside of one. "Hm. I'm sorry, but I can't quite hear what you're saying…"
[03:55] <Natasha> "I-I feel s-so small…"
[03:59] <Yanmei> "Yes. It… takes some getting used to." She -still- wasn't used to it. She regarded them, 04 and 00 in particular, recalling both the earthquake incident and the berserking. God, now she remembered why she -hated- being here.
[03:59] <Natasha> "T-T-they're s-so magnificent…" Natasha was… Crying.
[04:00] <Yanmei> "…!" Yanmei stared. "W-wait! What's wrong? Why are you…?"
[04:02] * Natasha sank to her knees, covering her eyes. "T-This… I-I… I-I will n-never b-be able to p-pilot… I-I-I am too p-pathetic…"
[04:10] <Yanmei> "Now, now. I don't see how that makes a difference?" Yanmei folded her arms, watching placidly. "If you were a pilot, you'd have to do it anyway, no matter how you felt. Weren't those the conditions of your NeoSpartan project?"
[04:11] <Natasha> "B-But I'm scared…"
[04:14] <Yanmei> "Of course you're scared. Just look at them! But… fear is something that can be dealt with. If you do something enough times, it even ceases to exist."
[04:16] <Natasha> "H…" Natasha was trembling. "I-I'm n-not scared of them."
[04:17] <Yanmei> "…eh?"
[04:18] <Natasha> "I-I'm s-scared of… Myself. I-I'm not… Worthy…"
[04:23] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei's face fell into a rather flat expression. "Oh." She wondered about nudging her further onto the platform and going back down without her, but then Isaiah flashed through her mind, putting a stop to that. "It's not as if they're flawless," she muttered. "And it's not like you're so flawed that you're not capable of doing it."
[04:24] <Natasha> "… D-Do you mean that…?"
[04:26] <Yanmei> "Yes, on both counts," she said firmly. "I do mean it."
[04:28] * Natasha looked up at Yanmei with big, pleading eyes that seemed to -scream- 'trust me'. "W-Will you teach me…?"
[04:29] <Yanmei> "Huh? Teach you to pilot?"
[04:30] <Natasha> "N-No… T-Teach me t-to… N-Not be scared."
[04:35] <Yanmei> Taken aback. "That's… like teaching someone how to love, or how to not feel angry about something. I can teach you how to not -act- scared, but your feelings are something you'll have to change."
[04:42] <Natasha> "How…?"
[04:44] <Yanmei> "By pushing yourself to do what scares you and finding out that it's not so scary after all. By figuring out that ultimately, the people around you are just as flawed as you are, if not more in some cases. By accepting yourself, including your good points. Especially your good points."
[04:44] <Natasha> "Like what…?"
[04:48] <Yanmei> "You've proven that you're intelligent, and that you can fight like hell. You're not a mean person, generally fine to get along with, even if you're extremely nervous at times." Yanmei sighed. "I've talked with you for all but a few hours, and even I can tell that. If you got out and talked to people - normal people, I mean - you would discover a lot more of those things too."
[04:51] * Natasha blushed. "… P-Please show me. I-I want to m-meet p-people, b-but I d-don't know w-what to do…"
[04:56] <Yanmei> "Come on, now. Just do what you did with me today. Ditch the toys at home, ask people what their interests are, and let them go on about it, and look for common ground. You can practice on the few people you already know until you get comfortable with it. Like Isaiah, and Miss Delacour and such."
[04:59] <Natasha> "W-What are your interests?"
[05:09] <Yanmei> "I like fencing and I'm in the drama club at school, which is fun." Just practicing. That was fine. "I also bought a moped, which is really fun to ride. Have you ever ridden one?"
[05:10] <Natasha> "N-No. C-Can you take me to your school?"
[05:17] <Yanmei> "Well… I dunno. I guess that would be okay? I don't think anyone's there at the moment, so it might be a little boring."
[05:18] <Natasha> "W-Well, I mean." She blushed. "I-I want to 'hang out'… S-Sometime. W-With you a-and y-your friends."
[05:24] <Yanmei> "Yeah, yeah, that's fine too. That's something we can kind of do here too. You really should have stuck around when Miss Delacour and me opened that welcome basket the other day. There were some really nice things in it."
[05:25] * Natasha slowly rose to her feet. "I… I-I didn't think you liked me."
[05:26] <Yanmei> "Let's just say that I'm… getting used to you."
[05:28] * Natasha sniffled. "T-That's a nice thing to say." She said, genuinely. "B-Both you and Isaiah are so nice. A-and to think I snapped at him at first."
[05:28] <Yanmei> "You did? How come?"
[05:29] <Natasha> "H-He ripped up a NERV rallying poster, a-and I d-did not know he was who he was. S-So I was angry, b-because I thought he was offending the pilots, b-but I apologised."
[05:32] <Yanmei> "It's just a poster. Weird that he would rip it up, though? It doesn't sound like something he'd…" she trailed off, staring at 04 for a moment.
[05:33] <Natasha> [04 did not stare back.-
[05:33] <Natasha> "H-He said he did not like seeing the pilots… Like that."
[05:35] <Yanmei> "Like that?" Puzzling. "I'm not sure that that means. He said the pilots, right?"
[05:36] <Natasha> "Yes. B-but he was with a little girl, so he might have not wanted to tell?" A shrug. "He is a nice boy, so I forgive him."
[05:38] <Yanmei> "He is a nice boy. A really cherished friend of mine, too." Something glinted in her eye as she stared at the mech, but she turned to go, gesturing for Natasha to follow her. "Let's head back now, OK?"
[05:38] <Natasha> "Alright. T-thank you."
[05:41] <Yanmei> "Of course." She waited until she was inside before pressing a button, prompting the doors to close.

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