For The Awful News

[17:04] * Aline reached the point of the elevator ride, that… /unusually/ slow ride up to the Commander's office. She tugged at her uniform, still a bit unsure of just how she was supposed to prevent herself… but nonetheless… nonetheless? She was standing there relatively confident. Even though it was merely a day after Halloween, she had already undone the costume, up to and including
[17:04] * Aline washing out the dye (such as it was) and getting rid of those damnably irritating contacts. So now, all Aline had to do was wait for the door to open.
[17:08] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> [The door opened, leading to the Commander’s office.-
[17:09] * @Ginevre‘Fontaine was sitting down. She looked up, her hands clasped- her face was unreadable at this range. "Aline. Please, come in."
[17:14] * Aline strode in, moving closer. She had a… vague smile, but that somewhat unreadable look made Aline a bit worried. Either way, she came close enough to reach the desk. The smile did gain an edge of worry. To be called here… "Hello…" Aline took a breath. "Mom, and Commander alike." She blushed a little. "I’ll get used to it, don't worry. But… Mm. I'd ask what you called me for,
[17:14] * Aline but I think I'll know too quickly for that to matter."
[17:15] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "…" Ginevre hung her head slightly. "I’m sorry, Aline. At around 9 PM last night, cooperative efforts between NERV France and NERV Japan ascertained that… EVA-05 and its escort were lost mid-transit."
[17:20] * Aline stared, causing her worry to deepen from just a slight note, to an outright frown. "…L-l… lost…" She took her seat in a way that made it more look like her legs just gave out. "Do we have… any idea what the circumstances were?"
[17:22] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "We believe EVA-05 has fallen into the hands of terrorist forces."
[17:27] * Aline …stared. Wide-mouthed, with… a sense of pain. "An EVA unit… in their hands. …And him…" She spent a few seconds thinking about this, and sighed. "At least I don’t have to be under the illusion it was to get at me. He was made its designated pilot, so… at least, considering the nature of piloting, he is going to be kept for use as /their/ pilot." Aline drooped in her seat
[17:28] * Aline even further. "Also means they're not the ill-trained fools that attacked me and the others…"
[17:30] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "… No. Part of their apparent plan involved hacking and altering MAGI data files." Said Ginevre quietly. "They were very, very skilled…"
[17:34] * Aline was… amply shocked at that, too. "…Dear god, the MAGI?… To be able to do that…" Aline’s mind raced. "…So this is the 'third front' I had once described. Humanity defending itself, the first. The Angels, the second. …And some aspect out to subvert the goals of humanity, the third. Whoever the hell these people are, they have to have had ties to this organization. The
[17:34] * Aline same tactics taught to the NeoSpartans - even if executed by overly-green recruits - hacking the MAGI… Those are not skills that spread wide and far. But you likely already knew far better than I do now."
[17:36] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Yes." Murmured Ginevre. "This… Was the third front that we had been fearing this entire time. This is the work of the man known as Azariah."
[17:40] * Aline softly nodded, but then looked on with confusion. "Azariah…?"
[17:41] <@Ginevre`Fontaine> "I would like to tell you a story. Now would be a good time to ask for refreshment."
[17:43] <Aline> "Right. …Maybe a cup of tea would set the right mood for that…" Aline said, if a bit sheepishly.
[17:44] * @Ginevre`Fontaine stood, and headed over to her kitchen that sat in a corner of the office. Before long, she returned with a cup of tea and a cup of hot chocolate, the former of which she gave to Aline.-
[17:45] <@Ginevre`Fontaine> "48 years ago, Elisha Caine was born. The third of three children."
[17:47] * Aline gave a little smile. "Thank you for the tea." - which was said /before/ the story began. But then she began to sip and listen.
[17:52] <@Ginevre`Fontaine> "He had a sister and a brother. The eldest, the sister, was Mary Caine. His brother was Azariah Caine."
[17:57] <Aline> "Ah… So his brother…" Aline shook her head. "I can imagine some painful incident - or a painful history - leading to this."
[18:01] <@Ginevre`Fontaine> "Ideological differences." Said Ginevre. "Mary wished for things to be one way. Azariah disagreed. The Caines are a powerful family." She sipped her chocolate. "They utterly controlled Gehirn inside and out, as well as many other organisations and institutions. When Azariah split, part of their support base went with him."
[18:05] * Aline took her own sip. "…So a disagreement on how to…" She considered something. "…To conduct, effectively, the world. Certainly large in scale."
[18:11] <@Ginevre`Fontaine> "Essentially." Ginevre sipped her chocolate. "Azariah took data with him. Research. Scientists. People who had worked on Project E, people who had worked on the MAGI." She leaned back in her chair. "Azariah had his own specialties, as well."
[18:13] <Aline> "Right. Though I obviously would not know which. I of course know that…" Aline lowered her head briefly, before looking back at Ginevre. "Elisha’s was biology and similar sciences, to a level beyond many."
[18:17] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Biology and metaphysical biology are the two you will hear most often. It was Elisha who first discovered and ’created' the AT Field, after all." She placed her mug down on the table. "But Azariah was competent at biology, too. But his main focus was neurology."
[18:21] * Aline raised a brow in mid-sip. "Neurology, hm? Were there any specific breakthroughs he excelled at, then?"
[18:22] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Conditioning."
[18:23] * Aline …took on a look of unimaginable horror. "…So this is the man that has him…"
[18:25] <@Ginevre`Fontaine> "That’s right. Under Azariah's direction, the first NeoSpartans were conditioned and programmed to be loyal to Gehirn and to the project. Which is why we have long since started heavily restricting the amount of NeoSpartans eligible for piloting." Said Ginevre. "Azariah was a genius, much like his siblings. …" A pause. "… He could take a person and completely rebuild their personalities from the ground up."
[18:29] * Aline deepened that look into one of… despair and extremely vehement hatred - only through that strength of it was she not simply collapsing into tears. "A… d-d-despicable trade. To touch the mind, the most glorious thing a human has… and only care about ripping it apart…"
[19:16] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "It wasn’t all so… Like that. Azariah's techniques were used in limited form to cure psychological disorders." A shadow crossed Ginevre's face. "… But that isn't quite the worst."
[19:18] * Aline stared back, wide-eyed. Bewildered, even. "…What could even be worse? Just literally tearing apart their identity and leaving nothing left? Or… I… I don't know."
[19:20] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "With the world’s greatest resources at his disposal, with all of the technology at his hands, with the expertise of literally all of the world's greatest minds… Azariah never perfected his work. It was flawed. -They- were flawed." Ginevre's hands twitched, balled into fists. "Now he has far fewer resources, probably outdated technology, access to less brilliance…"
[19:24] * Aline …twitched herself. She already felt bad, and hearing this… "Th… they? What the hell did he do…? What the hell does he think he still /can/ do!?"
[19:33] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "How many NeoSpartans do you know are well-adjusted people?" Asked Ginevre. "That is his work at its very best."
[19:34] * Aline slowly… very slowly nodded. "Effectively none. Alexandre is the only one that comes close, and I worry that he probably has things under the surface…"
[19:35] <@Ginevre`Fontaine> "Alexandre was never conditioned by Azariah." Said Ginevre. "Elisha forbid it."
[19:36] <Aline> "Well, that’s good. I suspected he might do that, but… well…" Aline just… sighed. "Then that concern can be explained in mundane ways. None of the /non/-NeoSpartan pilots are fine, mentally, either. Possibly just coincidence."
[19:38] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "…" Ginevre was silent on that for a moment, before she turned to look away. "Conditioning was only one part of it. Much of it involved adding fake memories to an individual’s memory, but the reverse is also true. That is, Azariah now has access to all of Shinji's memories…"
[19:44] <Aline> "…Yeah." Aline thought for a good long while on what implications that might have had. "…Anything his mother told him, that he ended up seeing, that he got from contact with… 05… and anything I said." She sighed. "At least, at least I didn't give out all that many 'unusual facts'. I think only something that turned out to be wrong anyway - because I was terrified for my life."
[19:44] <Aline> Suddenly, though… "Wait. I know of another NeoSpartan that has no surface-visible mental issues. Atticus Nelson."
[19:47] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "You’re right." Said Ginevre. "Atticus Nelson was able to actively defeat the conditioning."
[19:54] * Aline smiled a bit broader at that. "Yeah. So it's… possible. It's… well…" Aline sighed distantly. "At least it's better than it could be, in a sort of sad way. 05 is one of the most ornery units I know, and while I'm… terrified that Shinji might not have the willpower to resist… 05's soul will. Were it me I might have been able to survive for a bit, and 00 would just go along
[19:54] * Aline with whatever happened. Yanmei… could go either way. 04 I can't judge. And, well… Sera would… unfortunately probably fold like a house of cards. But 01, ah… a different story entirely. Asuka, despite her problems, has /quite/ the fight in her. Natasha I suppose is the other major risk. So…" Aline finally let a tear slide down, even though her face was smiling. "As terrible a blow
[19:54] * Aline as it is to me… at least it could have been worse. I just hope we can get him /and/ his unit back before too much damage is done…"
[19:57] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Sept wouldn’t fold." Said Ginevre quietly. "He and Atticus are alike in that. Do you know what Atticus did to defeat the conditioning?"
[19:58] * Aline looked /surprised/ at that. "What… seriously?… Er… Sorry, I must not know something important. Please, tell me - I don't know that."
[20:03] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "He clung to his memories. He clung to them so tightly and securely that everything around him became an injustice to him, an endless crime. He steeped himself in negative thoughts and emotions, and used those thoughts to keep himself secured to those memories in his head. He didn’t even realise it, but every time he struck out at another NeoSpartan- the time he broke Akagi's fingers, or broke four of Chevalier's ribs, or nearly did permanent damage to Fournier's left leg with a piece of glass - he reinforced his memories, his violent and lonely childhood. As he fought, it came to life in his actions, and he was able to shake off the conditioning. Sept, in his own way, is much the same. He so rigidly clings and fights for his memories- his concept of how he is and how his surroundings should be- that he would never break."
[20:08] * Aline blinked. Then her eyes fluttered rapidly as that blink became something more solid. "…So something that otherwise would be madness… worked in that circumstance. I guess I'm so used to Sera… nearly breaking down whenever I talk about anything more complicated than… than… I don't even know what the lower limit is. But I guess that that's a road to maintaining yourself when
[20:08] * Aline memory is the weapon pounding away at that - rather than direct willpower, emotions, or the like." But she sighed. "…I guess that means my natural curiosity makes me one of the weakest against that form of assault, doesn't it?"
[20:11] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "I am unsure. I was never the neurologist." A small smile. "But… Nevertheless, I am worried. Shinji is a boy too sweet to break so cruelly…"
[20:14] * Aline nodded. "Absolutely not. And to take an EVA unit when they’re already opposed to NERV itself… that's a dire threat. I… I really don't want to have to meet him in battle as the opposing force." The tears that were flowing earlier slowly increased. "…I imagine that the damage is very difficult to reverse, isn't it?"
[20:15] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "We have the technology to reverse the conditioning… But only if he’s able to resist it, at least partially." Said Ginevre sadly. "… Unfortunately, I have yet more bad news."
[20:16] * Aline …twitched. "…Oh god, what /else/? Er… please go on…"
[20:17] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "I believe I have some level of insight into what Azariah may intend to do, now that he has an Evangelion."
[20:20] <Aline> "…What, then? Since… after all, I might be forced to stop it without anything but what I already know at-hand. And because it’s my burden, as I said." Aline's expression hardened, even as she held in the urge to just belt out and cry. "I can imagine it must be horrible, though."
[20:23] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "When Azariah left, Project Eva was not yet complete. He stole all the data he could on them, however, when he fled." A dubious look. "I believe that he intends to try to use data from EVA-05 to create his own Evangelions… However, he is not Elisha, and it is simply not enough to directly reverse-engineer an Evangelion. I can predict with come certainty what any Eva-like creation that even come near Azariah’s hands is going to become."
[20:24] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> «some*»
[20:28] * Aline …shook her head. "My mind is guessing that it’d be some kind of misbegotten fleshbeast - and I say that knowing that an EVA unit can end up looking not that pretty with the armor off. Probably of scarred mind as he tries to…" Aline had to force down nigh-literal bile. "…'condition' the internal soul to make up for his lack of control technology."
[20:29] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Yes. Do you remember the berserk incident that happened in Belgium, all those months ago?"
[20:31] <Aline> "Yes. I do. It… was the closest to actual trauma that an /EVA/ would inflict upon me, and I was just near it. I am not as unlucky as that one’s actual pilot in that regard, but it… definitely stayed in memory." Aline sighed ruefully. "Does that perchance mean that that's all that he will end up unleashing?"
[20:32] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Essentially. The damage to any pilots will be… Astronomical."
[20:34] * Aline bit her tongue slightly. "Or anything else. A berserk unit does not comprehend restraint, it seems. So basically he’d just… point it in the general direction of his enemies and let it go. And he doesn't even have to foot the bill afterwards!… It's… amazingly perfect as a terror weapon. Which is… not a compliment."
[20:36] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Mm." Ginevre sighed. "Azariah used to -like- me. He used to be my friend… To think that he’s reached -that- point sickens me."
[20:39] * Aline frowned. "…This almost seems like a pattern. People unsure what to think of Elisha. People afraid or resentful of you. People justifiably disgusted at what Azariah has become… no doubt the third and final Caine child has their own share of reputation in that way." The frown deepened. "What happened? It… it seems as if any happiness your and your husband's family might have
[20:39] * Aline had, just… exploded. Violently. And has now become all… this."
[20:42] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "I guess it was unavoidable." Said Ginevre neutrally. "To be honest, my husband’s life was always a little turbulent."
[20:46] <Aline> "Mmm." Aline could tell that tone. She didn't want to press too hard. "I can imagine, especially if the entire Caine family had as much influence as it sounds like they did. Power is a great strain on one's life - whether because it corrupts, for those who are susceptible to it - or because it makes inordinate demands."
[20:48] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Indeed." A sigh. "I remember, Elisha, the first time he’d told me he'd killed someone…"
[20:51] * Aline drooped at that. "…I hope he wasn't as… messed-up as I got, when he did it. Assuming it was with his own hands."
[20:52] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "No. He told me about it calmly." Said Ginevre, standing up and draining her hot chocolate. "We were 22 at the time, and he’d first killed at the age of 14. An assassin. Fortunately, Elisha was trained in combat…"
[20:56] <Aline> "…Wow. That long ago… Someone that young, skilled at combat… Pre-Impact?" Aline looked… honestly surprised.
[21:00] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Yes. He… Was a special case. His family- the Caines- were powerful, even then, and knew they’d be targetted. So, when Elisha was 8 years old, he was trained to fight, using six knives. Two on the hips, and four on the chest. The chest knives were short, throwing blades, and the ones on the hips were for hand use. By the time I'd met him, though, he'd admitted to falling a little out of practice."
[21:03] * Aline had this distant look of amusement. "Lots of knives. Sounds like Sera… Sounds a lot like him, actually. At least, in terms of combat. Kid loves his knives…"
[21:04] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "I’ve noticed. Knives are a very useful weapon and tool…" Ginevre walked, now. She walked around the table, sitting on it on Aline's side.
[21:09] * Aline sort of followed her with her gaze, but didn't get up or otherwise move. "Yeah… I remember reading this thing in military about the kukhri. Amazing knife, though it's more like a sword. Useful for everything from combat to table manners to cutting small trees. He could do worse for a weapon of choice, even with normal knives."
[21:11] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "…" Ginevre smiled sadly. She reached out and put a finger on Aline’s lips. "That's enough."
[21:14] <Aline> "S-s-sorry. I didn't know what else to say." Aline looked pretty embarassed at that!
[21:16] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Shhh." She took her hand away and opened her arms. "It’s alright to cry."
[21:21] * Aline very, very slowly looked up… and the tears dripped a little. "It feels… weird. I'm sad but it…" She sniffled loudly. "It feels hard to, now. Not because of some idea of keeping appearances or something. I just… feel stuck, now."
[21:27] * @Ginevre‘Fontaine puts a hand out on Aline’s cheek, stroking it gently with her thumb. "Do you remember saying goodbye…?"
[21:33] <Aline> "Y-y-yes I… do. Very clearly." She sucked in a breath. "It was surprisingly happy, considering. He was afraid of his new 'job', yet… glad for all that I had done for him. We were talking about the future, and what we might do after all this was over…" Sure enough, that made her feel… well, worse, but freer to let it out. "Now all I have is the fear that they're going to kill him
[21:33] <Aline> without even being dignified enough to do it to his body. He might make it through, but I… Just… I just wish it wasn't after I had fought so hard to make the both of us happy!"
[21:36] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "Everything will be alright." Murmured Ginny. "I promise you’ll see him again." And she gathered the girl up into a tight hug.
[21:40] * Aline hugged back, and hard at that. "Thank you… I'll be ready when and if we're needed as part of that. Because it might be my love being held, but he's still being held by someone who's become a-" Sniffle. "-threat to the world."
[21:40] * @Ginevre‘Fontaine stroked Aline’s hair. "That's right." She murmured. "… Aline…?"
[21:43] <Aline> "Y-y-yeah?" It was getting harder for Aline to speak without interruption… and Ginevre's clothing was prrobably getting a bit wet.
[21:44] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "If… You meet him on the battlefield again, and he’s not who he was… Will you still fight him?"
[21:47] * Aline …swallowed nothing. "I'd h-have to bite it back hard, but… I'd uh… uh… try to. I'd work on d-d-disabling whatever unit he was piloting - decapitation, removing the limbs, that sort of thing. The EVA can recover from that… Shinji can be treated for what they did to him if he has some of him is-is left. But he… he can't come back if I t-" Aline /finally/ let out a bigger
[21:47] * Aline sob. "If-if-if I breach the plug."
[21:52] * @Ginevre‘Fontaine patted Aline gently on the back. "That’s good to hear. It is good to adhere to our mission… But to lose ourselves doing it, to sacrifice those we love…"
[21:53] * Aline nodded. "…Is inexcusable. Is… exactly what we're fighting against now, too." She sighed. "Though not in the case of the Angels. This seems to be a specifically human malady, so far…"
[21:56] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "What do you mean…?"
[22:00] * Aline …swallowed again, and tried to get back some of her composure. "Azariah sacrifices his family, his friends, the wife of his brother, to attain whatever different end he wanted. By taking an irreconcilable difference, then becoming bitter and broken… he does what we ourselves must avoid." Aline then had this sort of… strange look on her face. Like she was thoughtful, yet
[22:01] * Aline speaking from another world. "The Angels… are lonely creatures, though. We outnumber them millions to one and presumably always will, for as long as this war continues. The only love they know is from their mother… and even then, it is perhaps distant, and they long for her anyway. With that being their only bond /and/ their mission… what is there to sacrifice? Nothing."
[22:04] * @Ginevre`Fontaine nodded quietly. She embraced Aline a little tighter. "And so they fear nothing. There is nothing to sacrifice, because they have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by our annihilation."
[22:07] * Aline met the tightening without hesitation. "Exactly… So all the sacrifices are left for humanity to make. The ones needed, the ones we’re afraid we need… and the ones that just mean we've lost the best things about being human."
[22:10] <@Ginevre‘Fontaine> "A bitter cost…"
[22:14] * Aline took in a big breath, with more than a bit of snuffling from the after-effects of crying that much sounding in response. "But that’s what we have to pay for what we /do/ have. After all, there are, again, no sacrifices if there is nothing worth keeping. As long as we can remember that… That'll be at least something. We're not sad flailing creatures - we can love and cherish and
[22:14] * Aline learn and protect, because we aren't alone."
[22:16] <@Ginevre`Fontaine> "Not alone." She repeated, her voice a subtle whisper. "Nor are you, even now…"
[22:22] <Aline> "Yeah…" And Aline threw herself into the hug, letting the rest of her tears flow…

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License