For Meeting The President

[13:13] <Yanmei> The waiting rooms of the Palais de l'Elysee were lavish places. In one such room rested plush rugs decorated with gold threads, a high ceiling, and walls painted the color of eggshells with realistic landscape paintings neatly hanging from them. -
[13:14] <Yanmei> There was also a girl there, sitting on one of the soft leather-covered seats provided for guests. She was dressed neatly in a business suit and conservative flat shoes, and at intervals she would rise and stand mindlessly at the window, fingers drumming nervously on the sill until she remembered that she was supposed to be acting composed and made herself sit down again.
[13:21] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> ["Nervous?" Asked Ariadne, with a smirk.]
[13:22] <Yanmei> "OF course not." The girl flipped her bobbed violet hair. "I do this sort of thing all the time."
[13:22] <Mortimer`Mazarin> ["Oh yeah? With who?"]
[13:23] <Yanmei> "With… with people. I have -lots- of important contacts," she said vaguely.
[13:24] <Mortimer`Mazarin> ["Name ten."]
[13:26] <Yanmei> "Uh… um…" Yanmei hastily checked her watch. "It sure is taking a long time." When in doubt, change the subject?
[13:26] <Mortimer`Mazarin> [Ariadne smirked. "The President is a busy man."-
[13:27] <Mortimer`Mazarin> [At that moment, the door opened, revealing a certain man Yanmei would be vaguely familiar with, perhaps- the US Attache, Leon Freeman. "… Oh, Miss Zhang?" He asked curiously. "Fancy meeting you here."]
[13:29] * Yanmei blinked in surprise. "Ah! Mr. Freeman! It’s been a while, hasn't it?" Seeing him brought back memories of flashing cameras and drills of question after question. She straightened her shoulders. Meeting with the President? Surely she could handle that too. "How are you doing?"
[13:32] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> ["I’ve been doing fine." He said smoothly. "Just meeting with the President regarding the Evangelion deployments… Nothing too important." He waved his hand dismissively. "How're you?"]
[13:37] <Yanmei> "Well, you know, I think I'm supposed to meet with him next." She made a similar dismissive wave. "I'm here for my own matters instead of official NERV business. Courtesy of my associate, Miss. Ariadne Delacour." She gestured to said associate with a smile. "Have you two met?"
[13:39] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> ["Ah, Miss Delacour. Once or twice." Leon nodded to Ariadne, who smiled prettily and returned the gesture. "Nice to see you again, Leon." "Likewise. But, I’d best get going- busy busy." He gave them both a smile. "I'll leave you ladies to it."]
[13:41] <Yanmei> "Aw, so soon? Well, it was good seeing you again, Mr. Freeman. Please take care."
[13:42] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> ["Same to you." He departed.-
[13:43] <Mortimer`Mazarin> ["Mademoiselle Zhang?" Came a pleasant, if clipped and authoritative voice from the room Freeman had just left.]
[13:46] * Yanmei stiffened for a fraction of a moment as the stomach butterflies came swarming back to her full force. But she threw on a smile, daring to peek into the room beyond. "Yes…?"
[13:48] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Please, come in." Said the President, seated behind a luxurious-looking desk, made of matured mahogany and gilded. The room itself was sumptuous, with white and gold walls, a highly elaborate chandelier, and a view of a grand garden.]
[13:51] <Yanmei> The room itself was stunning. It took another fraction of a second to find her lost voice again. "Yes sir." And enter she did, striding up to the desk and offering a hand. "Thank you for taking a few minutes to meet with me. I know you’re a very busy man." Ariadne's words, almost exactly.
[13:55] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> ["Mr. President." Said Ariadne warmly, sweeping into the room behind Yanmei.-
[13:56] * Mortimer`Mazarin stood up from his desk and shoot Yanmei’s hand. He was tall, standing at 6'2 and being made to look even taller by his almost hawkish gauntness. "I should be the one thanking you." He looked up and smiled at Ariadne. "Miss Delacour."]
[13:56] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> «shook*»
[14:00] * Yanmei took a seat. With Ariadne behind her, she felt much better somehow, and yet with the threat of teasing looming overhead, she wasn’t sure if she should be. "The Palace is fascinating. It's the first time I've ever been inside, you know," she started conversationally.
[14:00] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Indeed?" Asked Mortimer pleasantly, sitting back down and folding his hands across his lap.
[14:03] <Yanmei> "That’s right." Yanmei nodded cheerfully. "If I've met people, it's only been through events that NERV was sending representatives to. Today, however, I'm not on official business, as you might have gathered."
[14:04] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Indeed." Said Mortimer.
[14:09] <Yanmei> "Have you ever been inside of NERV Headquarters, Mr. President? I’m afraid that it doesn't compare visually, but we would certainly treat you with hospitality. If you'd like to make a visit in return, please feel free."
[14:09] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "I’ll keep that in mind, should I ever receive an invite to the fabled Geofront." Said Mazarin pleasantly.-
[14:10] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> [Ariadne smiled, and leaned over to Yanmei.]
[14:11] * Yanmei gave Ariadne a little nod and smile of her own.-
[14:12] <Yanmei> "I’m… a little surprised that hasn't happened already? The Commander really should try to be a little more friendly," she chuckled.
[14:13] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> [Ariadne rose from her seat, patting Yanmei on the shoulder. "I’m so sorry to run so soon, Mr. President, but I actually have an appointment with someone in the Palais…"-
[14:13] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Oh? Then have a good day, Miss Delacour."-
[14:14] <Mortimer`Mazarin> ["Same for you, Mr. President." She said pleasantly, before hightailing it out. Leaving Yanmei alone with the President.-
[14:14] * Mortimer`Mazarin turned his blue gaze back towards Yanmei. "The Commander is very protective of her little slice of heaven."
[14:17] <Yanmei> "Perhaps it’s a fickle sort of protectiveness, if the hearings in Hague were any indication," she said pleasantly. Whoops. What did she let slip out? This was -not- the time to go on the attack for that.
[14:20] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Whatever could you mean?" He quirked an eyebrow.
[14:25] <Yanmei> "Well. I suppose I’m referring to your interesting relationship to the Commander and to NERV itself. You do things like acting as the persecution against her during her trial, and you say that you've never recieved an invitation to the Geofront from her. Yet, you've obviously provided a lot of support to NERV, even after its latest debacles. -
[14:27] <Yanmei> Moreover, overt power struggles between you and the Commander seem notably… absent from my perspective. It's made me curious. And that curiosity has brought me here today."
[14:28] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Ah. How interesting." Mortimer quirked an eyebrow. "So you’re curious as to the nature of our relationship."
[14:29] <Yanmei> "Indeed," she said pleasantly. "There are many who wouldn't be a supportive if they were in your position. Or, in other cases, so seemingly distant on a personal level."
[14:30] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "I’m curious. Why didn't you ask Ginevre Fontaine herself?"
[14:31] <Yanmei> "Because I'm interested in your point of view, of course," she smiled.
[14:33] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "I see." Mazarin put his hands on his desk. "I assume you won’t be satisfied if I say that I act merely because I am farsighted enough to assist our only line of defense against an extraterrestrial threat?"
[14:35] <Yanmei> "Your even asking that implies that there's something more going on."
[14:39] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Hahaha. How bold." Mazarin stood up, walking over to a nearby drinks cabinet. He poured himself a glass of amber liquid. "Would you care for a bit of wine, Mademoiselle Zhang?"
[14:41] <Yanmei> "Why yes, thank you, Mr. President." She had gotten used to the bitter taste of wine long ago. But she wondered why no one ever offered sweet and delicious drinks during meetings and formal events instead.
[14:42] * Mortimer`Mazarin returned to the table, putting a glass of red wine down in front of Yanmei. The President sat. "Well then. Where should I begin?"
[14:45] * Yanmei took her glass, and held it, eyes on him. Incredibly, her hands weren’t shaking hard enough to cause massive ripples to flow across the surface of the liquid, and she thought that she even managed to exude peaceful patience as she waited for him to find a starting place.
[14:47] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Well. Why don’t I begin at the very beginning? When the Commander and I met."
[14:48] * Yanmei nodded enthusiastically. "I assume it happened after you were sworn in sometime?"
[14:48] * Mortimer‘Mazarin chuckled. "No. Actually, I was ten years old."
[14:51] <Yanmei> "That long ago?" Harsh lessons of etiquette reasserted themselves, booting her surprise momentarily aside. "Not that it was -that- long ago. You have such a youthful countenance, Mr President."
[14:53] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Oh, please." Mortimer chuckled. "I’m fifty years old this year, Mademoiselle Zhang. The fact that I still have my natural hair colour despite my age and my position is impressive, nevertheless. But, let's see." He leaned back in his chair and looked up at the roof. "It was 1975. A Friday. It was… 3 PM."
[14:55] <Yanmei> "You… remember it down to the hour?" A slight sinking feeling. It must have been a very significant meeting.
[14:56] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "I surmise, since it was as school was ending, and my school always ended at 3 PM." He smiled.
[14:57] <Yanmei> "Oh, well, naturally!" She nodded, smiling, bidding him to go on.
[14:58] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "It was raining. Incredibly heavily, and I had left my umbrella at home." He smiled wistfully. "So I was rushing home on my bicycle."
[15:00] * Yanmei was trying to imagine the President as a soaked ten year old on a bike. Yanmei was failing horribly. She gave another nod to show that she was still keeping up.
[15:01] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Well, as one might imagine, rushing on a bicycle during a heavy storm was not a good combination, and I slipped."
[15:02] * Yanmei winced a little. "Were you okay?"
[15:03] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "It was a minor fall." Said Mortimer, waving his hand and taking a sip of his drink. "However, in the time it took for me to stand from my fall- rubbing my knees- it’s always the knees, isn't it?- I found that someone had come to my aid. A little girl of six years old, determinedly holding this feeble little umbrella over my head."
[15:06] <Yanmei> "… the Commander?" What the hell was with that sweet childlike gesture? She took a small drink from her own glass to kill the disbelief on her face.
[15:07] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "That’s right! Although at the time she was just Ginevre Fontaine. It was funny." He chuckled. "See, when school was over, she turned left and I turned right, because our houses were at opposite ends of the town, but that day she'd seen that I hadn't taken an umbrella, and ran after me instead of going home."
[15:09] <Yanmei> "That's awfully considerate." What could she have been up to? No… if she had been six years old at the time, maybe it was actually nothing? It was a hard pill to swallow. "So you became friends after that?"
[15:10] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "That’s right! She rode home with me, and by the time we arrived, the roads were flooded out, so my parents gave her the spare bedroom for the weekend. And yes. After that, we became friends."
[15:12] <Yanmei> "I see." Yanmei stared down at her wine for a moment. "So you've been friends for the forty years after that? You must have grown close."
[15:14] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Oh, yes." Said Mortimer. "See, as a child, Ginevre didn’t have many friends. She was very timid and shy, and she also felt very awkward, because she was so tall and attracted a lot of attention because of that. I was her best friend until I turned 20 or so."
[15:16] <Yanmei> "The Commander was timid? The same Ginevre Fontaine who is sitting on her throne in the Geofront now?"
[15:17] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Oh, yes." Mortimer laughed. "Very shy. Also very idealistic. She was a girl who believed that all the world needed was more love to fix all of its myriad issues."
[15:17] <Yanmei> "Wh-what?"
[15:18] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "You seem surprised!"
[15:20] <Yanmei> "Do I? I suppose it’s because… I am surprised," she said quietly. There was a slight bit of wariness, too, as if she was wondering whether or not to believe him.
[15:22] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> A level of pensiveness covers Mortimer’s face. "It must be hard for you to grasp, but it's nevertheless the truth. Young Ginny was one of the sweetest people I've ever known. With a heart full of love and no friends to share it with, she used to adopt stray cats in the alleys and feed them on the weekends. As she grew up, she became less shy, but even then rarely expanded her friendship group." He smiled wistfully.-
[15:23] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Do you know what changed?"
[15:24] <Yanmei> "Did something happen during Second impact? Or… because of it?" It seemed to be the answer to most things that made dramatic ripples in people’s lives. She thought briefly about Dorian.
[15:25] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "No." Mortimer shook his head. "A far simpler reason: she fell in love."
[15:27] <Yanmei> "With Dr. Caine?" Yanmei guessed when she had stopped blinking in surprise.
[15:29] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Yes. Although he was simply Elisha Caine, then." A note of dissatisfaction crossed Mortimer’s face. "They met at a pre-university orientation. A very prestigious campus…" He shrugged. "And he simply swept her off of her feet."
[15:30] <Yanmei> "I see. Were you attending the same school at the time?"
[15:31] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Yes, but I was in a vastly different department. Caine and Ginny were in the Science Faculty; I was arts. I was hoping that, once she’d joined the campus, we would become even closer, but…"
[15:33] <Yanmei> "…but she was wrapped up in him instead," she guessed, trying to read his face. He hadn't liked Elisha Caine much, and this was probably the reason why.
[15:34] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "That’s right." Said Mortimer. His face was mostly neutral, but his eyes were narrowed. "And in a few short years, the sweet girl I'd grown to love was dead."
[15:38] <Yanmei> "…she changed that quickly? It must have been terrible to watch…"
[15:42] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Elisha Caine was unlike anyone else I’ve ever known." Murmured Mortimer. "He was brilliant, to be sure. He was probably the greatest mind of his time. And he was never cruel to his friends or those he loved, and I know he made Ginny happy. But…" Mortimer frowned. "He -influenced- people. He made them see the world as he saw it, and he was fundamentally unhappy with what he saw. He wanted to create a new world, by his ideals… And he laughed at those who had 'normal', every day ideals." The frown grew bitter. "Like myself. He scorned my political ambitions, calling them 'mere human ideals', and gloried in his own 'transhuman' ones. And Ginny followed."
[15:49] <Yanmei> Something about that had caught her attention to the point where she had taken to staring. Then, abuptly, her dark eyes thrust aside. "That sounds very familiar," she said, perhaps a bit haltingly, as she tried to wring the disgust out of her voice before it reached the open.
[15:49] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Oh?"
[15:53] <Yanmei> "It’s… nothing. A certain cultural undercurrent that has persisted in NERV for a while now, I suppose you could say." She smiled. "Please continue."
[15:55] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "I would rather hear about this undercurrent, if you will."
[16:04] <Yanmei> "It’s a natural escalation, given the nature of our work? People revel in the fact that they can defy physics, protect the world, build the world's greatest warmachines and so forth, and either ignore practical matters like politics or use it only to those ends, sacrificing others along the way. In either case, they make it clear that such matters are beneath them."
[16:06] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Mmm. Yes." Mortimer nodded slowly. "My experiences with certain representations of your organisation- including your fellow pilots- have demonstrated as much, and I’ll not lie when it concerns me greatly. My distaste for Elisha Caine cannot be underestimated, and yet he permeates every facet of NERV. Have you seen the security tapes of the incident Pilot de Pteres created? With the Algerian Ambassador?"
[16:08] <Yanmei> "I've been… preoccupied with personal matters. I only heard about the incident second hand," she said almost apologetically. "The two of them got into a terrible argument, didn't they?"
[16:12] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "You could say that. In reality, Sera de Pteres is almost solely to blame." Muttered Mortimer darkly. "The Ambassdor requested, it seems, awhile ago, that de Pteres confront me regarding my pending acquisition of Algeria. It seems de Pteres said he would, then forgot about it. I suppose that can be forgiven, considering the turn of events after the fall of Berlin-2. However…" Mortimer steepled his fingers. "When the Ambassador confronted de Pteres about the issue after seeing a concert in the Opera House, de Pteres reacted furiously, insulting and belittling the Ambassador for daring to ask his help, before outright physically assaulting him."
[16:16] <Yanmei> "-De Pteres- did that? Mild mannered Sept?" Alarm turned slowly to introspection. "He’s been more aggressive lately, it seems? Ah. I should offer apologies for his behavior. But thinking about him doing that… takes getting used to."
[16:20] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Mm." Mortimer leaned back. "Some of the things he said were… It was as if Elisha Caine lived and walked again." He said. "Considering how similar the two look… It was quite frightening."
[16:23] <Yanmei> "…" She filed the comment about Sept’s appearence under things to think about carefully later. Most of her mind was settled uneasily on more obvious concerns. Like what the hell syncing with that EVA was doing to the kid. "H-How influencial would you say that Caine was back then?"
[16:25] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Back when? There are thirty years of history between now and when I first met Caine."
[16:28] <Yanmei> "Good point. In general, then? He managed to change Commander Fontaine so drastically. Was it a common thing for him to do that to people? To persuade them over to his way of thinking to the point that they would leave their former selves behind?"
[16:31] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "Sometimes. Yes and no. It depended on the person." He frowned. "Ginny could be very impressionable, and she was incredibly trusting, too. Other people… I remember Caine and Ginny’s best friends from university. Ikari Yui and Rokubungi Gendo. They were changed, too, but it was less drastic- although I didn't know them much at all before that." A shrug. "I was totally unchanged, probably due to my intense dislike for the man. It varied."
[16:39] * Yanmei had hardened her gaze a little as Mazarin added those names to the conversation, but now it softened because she was conscious of it. "I hope you'll keep it between us, but I don't think that I would care for the man very much either, had I the opportunity to meet him. Not that I don't appreciate the great strides that he made in founding NERV and -
[16:40] <Yanmei> the protectors of the planet." One part honesty and one part PR. It was as close as she could get to letting her feelings out. She heaved an inward sigh. "Thank you very much for humoring my questions, Mr President. If there are any that you would like to ask me too, feel free. It's only fair."
[16:41] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Certainly. What are you intending to do after NERV’s mandate is fulfilled?"
[16:42] <Yanmei> "I've been told that I should pursue a political career. So maybe I'll return home and try that."
[16:43] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "A political career, you say? Any reason beyond what others have told you?"
[16:45] <Yanmei> "I still have plenty of time to decide if there is a reason like that. Right now, I’m just testing the waters a little."
[16:46] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "I see." Said Mortimer. "Any familial aspirations?"
[16:47] <Yanmei> "Familial? As in… settling down with someone and getting married and having children?"
[16:47] <Mortimer`Mazarin> "That’s right."
[16:49] * Yanmei scrutinized him carefully. It felt as if she was walking into a trap carefully laid by Dorian or Ariadne, or both of them. She would say no, and he would say 'let me introduce you to someone before you decide' and it would turn into a blind date with that -jerkface- Alex Fontaine.-
[16:50] <Yanmei> "I haven't really considered it," she said after a long pause. "I'm not sure that raising a family is right for me."
[16:50] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Is that so?" Asked Mortimer, surprised. "Whyever for?"
[16:51] <Yanmei> "I don’t think I have the sort of personality that's suited for motherhood."
[16:52] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Indeed? What do you think a mother should be like, then?"
[16:57] <Yanmei> "Someone who protects her children and sometimes praises them. Or at the very least, someone who acknowledges them when they fail or succeed or need something." She frowned. "Saying it aloud, however… it doesn’t sound like too much to ask for, does it?"
[17:00] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "No. It doesn’t." Murmured Mortimer with a smile. "Being a parent is a challenging experience, but a rewarding one. I like to think I've done a fairly good job of it myself."
[17:00] <Yanmei> "You have children?"
[17:04] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "A girl, Henriette. She’s 10."
[17:07] <Yanmei> "How nice!" She smiled, and winked. "Let me guess. You're the sort who turns into a doting father whenever she steps in the room, right?"
[17:08] * Mortimer‘Mazarin smirked. "Well, she -is- my pride and joy. Would you like me to call her and find out?"
[17:09] <Yanmei> "I’m not too great with kids myself? But I'll leave that decision up to you," she grinned. And then the grin faded a little. "May I ask you one last question first?"
[17:10] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "What is it?"
[17:14] <Yanmei> "You’ll continue to support Commander Fontaine in the future, right? Even if there are aspects of her ideals that you don't agree with?"
[17:16] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Certainly, I will not withdraw my support from NERV. To do so would be to commit a form of suicide." Said Mortimer. "On the other hand, you can rest assured that if there are things she does that I do not agree with… I will take steps to rectify those disagreeable situations."
[17:21] <Yanmei> A small sliver of hope. So maybe the man sitting in front of her wouldn’t necessarily become an enemy after all. "I'm actually happy to hear that. A person can be supportive to a cause or another person without sacrificing everything in that support. Including their own personal ideals."
[17:23] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Mmm. Although people often do."
[17:25] <Yanmei> "Yeah, they do." She wondered how much he knew about everything that went on in NERV. How dilligent was his spy, anyway?
[17:27] * Mortimer`Mazarin leaned back in his chair. "It’s a shame, now that I think about it. I wish I had some way of showing you who Ginny once was."
[17:30] * Yanmei smiled. "It's fine. If I did know her - or who she used to be - it would just make the current situation even harder to deal with."
[17:31] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "I suppose." He seemed a little disappointed.
[17:34] <Yanmei> "Sorry." Yanmei gave a little apologetic shrug. "But I did enjoy talking with you about it, Mr. President. It’s been educational!"
[17:35] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "That isn’t a problem. Do you have anything else you wish to ask?"
[17:37] <Yanmei> "Well. Could I ask you to support me too, if I ever do get up to speed in politics?" She gave a half-joking chuckle.
[17:39] <Mortimer‘Mazarin> "Hah. We’ll see." He said with a smile.
[17:40] <Yanmei> "You can't blame me for trying, at least." She offered him a hand for a parting shake. "Goodbye for now, Mr. President."
[17:41] * Mortimer‘Mazarin stood up, shaking Yanmei’s hand. "Goodbye. Remember that you're always welcome here. The same goes for your teammates."
[17:42] <Yanmei> "I'll relay the message," she smiled, and with that, she turned to go.
[17:43] * Mortimer`Mazarin drank the rest of his drink. And once Yanmei was gone, let out a sigh. "Ginny. Whatever are you doing, in that miserable hole…?"

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