For The Cheering Of Ariadne

[22:15] <Ariadne> [NERV has a new member! Having arrived with the pilots straight off the deck of the Enterprise, Ariadne Delacour- UN Attache to NERV- was quick to move into her office. It was, as befitting her position, spacious, accomodating, filled with all she'd need…-
[22:15] <Ariadne> … And was about to receive a visitor.
[22:19] <Yanmei> A knock at the door. Or the doorframe, if the door itself was already left open.
[22:21] <Ariadne> ["A-And then, Ms. Delacour, you should have seen it, it was the most incredible thing! Evangelion unit 04 went wild! It was all 'Roarrrr!' and then the Angel tried to run away, and it grabbed it and started to rip out its organs-" The door opened, revealing a brown-haired girl that Yanmei didn't know. She was rattling off facts in Russian-accented French. She wasn't looking at Yanmei as she opened it.-
[22:21] <Ariadne> ["It was to-" She turned to look at Yanmei… Turned crimson, and tried to hide the EVA-04 action figure she was holding behind her.]
[22:26] * Yanmei …gripped the fruit basket that she was carrying a little harder, and chuckled, a little weakly at first, and with more oomph as her acting skills kicked in. "Eh heh heh. Hehehe. Don't mind me! Just making a little delivery. I don't believe we've met, though?"
[22:29] <Ariadne> ["Um." The girl seemed stunned, and only blushed a deeper red as Yanmei spoke. "O-Oh-Oh-Oh. Oh." She retreated inside and sat on a chair primly, her face bright red.-
[22:31] <Ariadne> [The interior of the office was, as noted, comfortable and equipped with all the things a person would conceivably need in the Geofront. (Ariadne even had her own coffee maker.)-
[22:32] * Ariadne was sitting at a desk, blinking- a little stunned herself. A line of… Evangelion plush toys and action figures stood on her desk, some of them in poses. When Yanmei entered, a faint expression of hope crossed Ariadne's face. "Pilot Zhang! Thank G- I mean, welcome."
[22:34] <Yanmei> "Hello, Miss Delacour. Or… is there a formal title that I should address you by since you're a part of NERV?" There was a powerful urge to swing at the girl's head with the fruit basket as she turned and fled, compounded by the sight of those silly toys somehow, but Yanmei resisted it. Bad manners. Instead, she looked for a place to set it down.-
[22:39] <Yanmei> It was oversized, piled high with the usual local fruits, like oranges, peaches, grapes and the like, and some non-fruits like cheese and chocolate too, all wrapped in a large sheet of celophane. A very large red and white ribbon with the word "WELCOME" printed on it trailed from its handle.
[22:41] <Ariadne> "Please call me Ariadne. And… Wow, is this for me?"
[22:44] <Yanmei> "Of course! It's not exactly tradition? But everyone deserves to feel welcomed when they come to a new place."
[22:45] <Ariadne> "Aww. Thank you!" Ariadne smiled sweetly. She gave a little sniff… She couldn't be that affected though, surely. "Please come and share it with me… Oh. Have you met Natasha?"
[22:48] <Yanmei> "Nope!" She nodded another greeting at the girl, with a smile that filtered the bad feelings from her face. "I'm Zhang Yanmei. It's a pleasure."
[22:48] <Ariadne> ["U-Um."-
[22:49] <Ariadne> "This is Natasha Volkova. She's a potential pilot, from Russia."
[22:52] <Yanmei> "I see! Staying around long? Or wait…" She blinked. "Are you the top candidate to pilot 05?"
[22:53] <Ariadne> ["E-EVA 06…" Mumbled Natasha.-
[22:53] <Ariadne> "Natasha is a -very- big fan." Said Ariadne dryly.
[22:58] <Yanmei> [08:55] * Yanmei let out another chuckle. "I can see that? Well, I hope you find 06 to be even more 'awesome' than 04 is."
[22:59] <Ariadne> [Natasha reddened. "I-I t-think y-you and the other pilots are e-even better…"]
[23:05] <Yanmei> "Why, thank you! We're still learning, though. Most of what we've accomplished has been through teamwork." This girl… wasn't a NeoSpartan. They tended to be either unimpressed, on in one case, outright oblivious. Resting the basket on a spare chair, she backed off a little to give Ariadne the honor of opening it. "Have you been training long, Miss Volkova?"
[23:06] <Ariadne> [Natasha nods her head proudly, but shies away from Yanmei's eyes. "I have, Pilot Zhang! I am one of the NeoSpartans- trained from childhood. I-it is a title I hold with distinction."-
[23:06] <Ariadne> "Ooh, is this Belgian chocolate?"
[23:13] <Yanmei> "It is! There's some brie there too. Shoot. If we had some wine, it would be perfect?" It was a good way to distract herself from how startled she felt at Natasha's announcement. "We've met a lot of NeoSpartans lately! The other pilots and me. You must know Alexandre Fontaine and Asuka Langley-Soryu, then? I'm… a little surprised. You seem much less… er, competative than they were toward us?"
[23:14] <Ariadne> ["Oh yes, I do know of them." Natasha smiled, still blushing. "B-But I respect you all. Y-You are all heroes who do a soldier's job without being a soldier. Y-You are amazing."]
[23:15] * Ariadne reached under her desk, pulling out a bottle of wine. … It was a little empty, but she put it on the table and grinned.
[23:22] * Yanmei grinned back at Ariadne, and then gestured for Natasha to join them. "We simply do what we must. But how do you like France? Do you like chocolate?"
[23:23] <Ariadne> ["O-Oh, I…" Natasha got to her feet, and… "A-Actually, I should go."]
[23:25] <Yanmei> "Really? Ah. Business matters to attend to?"
[23:25] <Ariadne> ["Um. Yes. Yes, that is it. I must meet with-" She is rushing out of the room and all Yanmei can catch is a "Goodbye!" before the door closes.-
[23:26] * Ariadne lets out a quiet, deep breath.
[23:26] <Yanmei> "She… practically ran out of here." Yanmei flipped her hair, amused. "Am I that scary?"
[23:29] <Ariadne> "I doubt you scared her, exactly. She spent a -lot- of time before you came here espousing how amazing you were. I think she's just hero-shy."
[23:29] <Ariadne> "A -looot- of time…"
[23:31] * Yanmei eyes the remaining action figures on the desk. "What a strange kid. I take it you two know each other from somewhere, though?"
[23:32] <Ariadne> "Sort of. I was with NERV Russia for a time." Ariadne smiled. "She… Well. She's a good kid, but a little lonely, and doesn't really have anyone to look up to."
[23:33] * Yanmei sighed. "They really should put more pilots in the same places. With the exception of those of us in France, it seems like everyones scattered off in other countries by themselves."
[23:34] <Ariadne> "It's how NERV operates. Best to cover a wide area with a bunch of single Evangelions instead of covering one or two smaller areas with a clump. You're lucky in that regard."
[23:39] <Yanmei> "Yeah, but… they should think about the pilots' well being too?" Yanmei folded her arms. "The incident in Berlin-2, and the fight afterward here in Paris-2 illustrated how important it was to be fighting alongside other Evas. If we had fought the angel one-on-one, I'm certain that the three of us would have been killed, or at least defeated as badly as Asuka had been."
[23:40] <Ariadne> "Oh, I don't disagree. But with all the world's powerful nations screaming for an Eva…" A glass of wine was placed in front of Yanmei. … A pause. "Oh, you probably don't drink."
[23:42] <Yanmei> "Well, I've grown accustomed to drinking? Marianne lets me. That's my guardian here in France, by the way." She picked up the glass and took a quick sip.
[23:43] <Ariadne> "Ah, I see~" Ariadne poured another glass for herself. "A toast, then. To us?"
[23:44] <Yanmei> "Yes!" Yanmei raised her glass. "To us! And to welcome baskets."
[23:44] <Ariadne> Tink! Ariadne drains her glass with almost unseemly haste.
[23:45] * Yanmei tries to keep up at first, but it's a little too much. She has to drink more slowly!
[23:48] <Ariadne> "Oh, man." A giggle. "That Fontaine is a -bitch-, isn't she?"
[23:50] * Yanmei looked at her in surprise! It gave way to a knowing look, a vague twinkle in her eye, despite the noncommital reply. "…you know that these offices are probably bugged, right? This whole facility is like that. Cameras and audio recordings everywhere."
[23:54] * Ariadne waved a hand. "I don't think Fontaine is the sort to shoot me in the head for calling her a bitch."
[23:58] * Yanmei swirls her wine, trying to decide how to handle this. People typically didn't go around -saying- that stuff openly. And while she didn't disagree, maybe she had more of a reason to be discreet about it. "Has she been mean to you since you arrived? I imagine you had to meet her…"
[00:09] <Ariadne> "…" Ariadne bit her lip.
[00:12] <Yanmei> "…" That certainly answered things, didn't it? But it made it easier to have Ariadne on her side and not Fontaine's if she really was a link to the UN. "Let me apologize. She, well… doesn't seem to be a people person?"
[00:13] <Ariadne> "Erm… No. No she's not." Ariadne had a little, shaky smile on her face as she took another full glass of wine. "I-I lost something."
[00:15] <Yanmei> "Lost something?" Opportunity. "Is that why she was mad? Can I help you look for it? Maybe we can find it together."
[00:17] <Ariadne> "N-No, it… It was stolen. On the Enterprise."
[00:19] <Yanmei> "By someone on the crew?" Yanmei looked surprised. And then a little frown graced her. "It would be pretty hard to narrow down the suspect, huh?"
[00:21] <Ariadne> "I-I'm not sure." Mumbled Ariadne. "A-and it would be, yes. It… It was very important."
[00:22] <Yanmei> "And… it can't be easily replaced?"
[00:23] <Ariadne> "It's… Singular."
[00:26] <Yanmei> "I see." Yanmei peered down at the fruit basket in thought. "If there's any way at all I can help…"
[00:30] <Ariadne> "Ah, well. You can help cheer me up?" A grin.
[00:41] <Yanmei> "You mean the basket doesn't do that already?" Yanmei grinned back and then placed her wine on the desk next to a miniature 00. "What do you like to do for fun?"
[00:43] <Ariadne> "Ooh, I don't know." Said Ariadne. She picked through the basket, pulled out an apple. "You know, I like talking. Just about anything. I find it relaxing to just… Chat, you know? Ask me something."
[00:44] <Yanmei> "Do you have an apartment here yet?"
[00:45] <Ariadne> "Sort of. Not really. They've given me a bedroom here in the Geofront if I want it."
[00:47] <Yanmei> "That's no fun." She frowned. "You'll be here long-term, won't you? It would be better to have a real home."
[00:48] <Ariadne> "Yeah, that's true. Where should I look?"
[00:54] <Yanmei> "Well, the most important thing to look for in an apartment is the view. Something overlooking the river would be fantastic! But a lot of those buildings are old and don't recede during Angel attacks, so you could lose a lot of your stuff if something went wrong."
[00:56] <Ariadne> "Hmm. So you're saying, an apartment with a good view that recedes?"
[00:57] <Yanmei> "Yes! Exactly." Yanmei nodded knowingly. "NERV picked out the apartment where Marianne and I are staying? But if I could choose, it would really be something like that."
[00:58] <Ariadne> "I'll keep that in mind, alright? We can have a big party when I find it~"
[00:59] <Yanmei> "Sounds great! We should invite the others, too. The pilots, and Natasha, and Dorian~" She kept an eye out for a reaction.
[01:00] <Ariadne> "Dorian…?" Ariadne frowned. "Mm…"
[01:06] <Yanmei> "Hehehe. Well, you two will have to work together, I'm sure? So you should try to cooperate." Saying it to this half of the relationship probably wasn't as good as saying it to -Dorian- specifically. But it still amused her a little.
[01:07] * Ariadne lets out a sigh. "I know, I know, but it's just…" A deep frown! "It's uncomfortable…"
[01:11] <Yanmei> "But the more often you're around each other, the more comfortable it will eventually become. Like slipping into a really hot bath."
[01:12] * Ariadne suddenly blushed. "Y-You shouldn't put it like that." A quick glass of wine down the hatch! She was emptying the bottle… "L-Listen. What do you think of him, anyway?"
[01:16] <Yanmei> "He's a nice enough guy when he isn't causing trouble. Level-headed, easy to talk to. I've gone to him for advice a few times, and the things he said were really good!"
[01:16] <Ariadne> "Oh, really? What sort of advice?"
[01:18] <Yanmei> "Political advice. Within NERV and in other respects too, although I have a feeling he was partially just causing trouble with the latter."
[01:19] <Ariadne> "Ooh, political advice?" Ariadne's eyes lit up. "I didn't know you had political aspirations!"
[01:21] <Yanmei> "Well, I'm just trying it out? People told me I should look into having a career in that field, so I thought I would poke around in it. School elections, for example… although those might have been canceled this year on account of the school itself sustaining lots of damage in the last battle."
[01:22] <Ariadne> "Oh dear! Your school was damaged…" Ariadne shook her head. "But why don't you tell me about it? I'm really curious. I ran for president at my school as well, you know~"
[01:23] <Yanmei> "Did you win?"
[01:24] <Ariadne> "Yes." Ariadne beamed. "Dorian wanted to run himself, but he realised early on that no one really wanted to vote for him, so he became my aide."
[01:32] <Yanmei> "Huh? That's surprisingly humble of him." She smirked a little, and then sighed. "My aide is a good friend of mine. I didn't know him all that well when he volunteered for the position, but things are different now. The opponents include Alexandre Fontaine, and someone else who's more widely known, respected, and vicious."
[01:32] <Ariadne> "Go on~" Ariadne leaned forward, eyes gleaming. "Tell me all about them. All three!"
[01:35] <Yanmei> She was really getting into it, wasn't she? Even beyond an adult just humoring these type of school activities. "The kid I just described is favored to win - Niles Windsor-Yamato. He's got the charm and connections, but he also has the intelligence network too, thanks to the second-in-command of his campaign being a sneaky kid with access to the school paper."
[01:37] <Ariadne> "Ooh. Always a bad combination, that. Veeeeery bad. I can see why he's favoured."
[01:41] <Yanmei> "I know, right? So the Major suggested that Fontaine and I work together to defeat him before taking shots at each other. But that has… required more restraint than even I'm used to." She frowned. "Alexandre and Niles have been rivals for a long time. They're similar. The difference is that the former isn't quite as ruthless or highly regarded, and that his runningmate is a little weird.-
[01:42] <Yanmei> "He's pretty popular among the sports-minded people at school, and can at least pull votes that way. But it doesn't compare to having and information network at your disposal."
[01:43] <Ariadne> "Hm… No, it doesn't." Ariadne rubbed her chin. "Still, back in my day, the sporty people are a pretty important target group. What's it like in yours?"
[01:46] <Yanmei> "I'd say it's still important? A lot of school clubs are still based around sports, so…" she shrugged. "My target group for the campaign is a lot more spotty. It's why I'm considered an underdog in this."
[01:47] <Ariadne> "Oh? An underdog?" Ariadne bit into her apple. It was crunchy and fresh. "What's your target?"
[01:50] <Yanmei> "I started out by appealing to fringe groups on one side, and then working my way to a more general appeal. I dunno. It feels like I've had to work harder to figure out where I stand because I'm not as established in this sort of thing as those other two guys are."
[01:51] <Ariadne> "Hmm. I see." Ariadne seemed to be pondering something… "What about your aide? What does he bring to the table?"
[01:58] <Yanmei> "W-well. He has a lot of interests that are just radically different than mine. He's in the math club, for example, and gets on well with the sciences. So there are people he knows who share those interests. He's also aware of people who hate Windsor-Yamato in particular, which is a boon."
[01:58] <Ariadne> "A-aha. I -thought- so."
[01:59] <Yanmei> "Huh? Thought what?"
[02:00] <Ariadne> "Niles with the proto-socialites and the news." Ariadne counted on her fingers- one. "Alexandre with the sportsies." Two! "And you have the nerds~" Three.
[02:01] <Yanmei> "You don't have to put it like that!" she complained, a rush of color coming to her face.
[02:02] <Ariadne> "Huh?" Ariadne seemed a little… Taken aback. "Oh, I wasn't being mean. Who do you think I had on -my- side in school?" A wink.
[02:04] <Yanmei> "Um… oh." She tried to relax a little again. "Sorry about that! Maybe I've just been hanging out with people who are too prone to teasing and making fun lately."
[02:05] <Ariadne> "Aww. Have people been picking on you?"
[02:06] <Yanmei> "Now you really are teasing aren't you?" She made a face. "Don't you worry. I can hold my own~"
[02:06] <Ariadne> "Admit it. You really want to tease me, don't you?"
[02:08] <Yanmei> "Who, me?" She gave her a look that was chock-full of innocence. "Miss Delacour, please! We're both professionals. I wouldn't dream of teasing you~"
[02:09] <Ariadne> "Hmhmhmhm. Oh no. I can see it in your eyes."
[02:17] <Yanmei> "Hehehe. I believe you're mistaken~" She eyed the figurines left scattered on her desk, and smirked. "I was wondering how many of these were actually yours, though~"
[02:18] <Ariadne> "Ahahaha. None of them were mine. Natasha's left them behind in her rush."
[02:24] <Yanmei> "You mean everyone in the UN hasn't bought one of these yet? I would have thought they'd be irresistable."
[02:27] <Ariadne> "Oh, gosh. Not really. Action figures and toys aren't my thing." She lifted one of the EVA-04 action figures, and with a chuckle, pushed a button. The back slid open and a tiny little entry plug shot out- which Ariadne then pressed the top off. A little clip-hatch opened up to reveal what was undeniably a half-inch tall Yanmei in a plugsuit.-
[02:27] <Ariadne> [At that point though, Yanmei's phone started to ring.]
[02:29] * Yanmei …was gaping at that to the point that the ring actually made her jump a little. She clutched at her phone and raised it to her ear.
[02:33] <Yanmei> "Hm? Well you sound happy. What is it, Isaiah?"
[02:35] <Yanmei> "Oh, right, the wolf! Healed up, is it?"
[02:39] <Yanmei> "Right, right. I'll drop by in a few. Er… maybe pick up some treats along the way? What would it eat?"
[02:40] * Ariadne is staring at Yanmei flatly because what.
[02:41] <Yanmei> "Maybe we'll get lucky and they'll have a slab of raw venison around?" Yanmei noticed the look, and offered a somewhat sheepish grin. "I should go now. But I'll see you soon!"
[02:43] <Yanmei> "Hehe. No problem!" She hung up, then. "Ah. A friend of mine just had a new pet brought into his office here. Would you like to see?"
[02:43] <Ariadne> "… A wolf?"
[02:44] <Yanmei> "It's… a long story. We rescued it on vacation, after it got a permenant injury. Releasing it back into the wild would have been sensible but heartless, so…"
[02:45] <Ariadne> "… Ah." Ariadne blinked, but stood up. "Sure. I'll come along. I'm curious to see what sort of friend keeps a pet wolf, anyway…"
[02:47] * Yanmei kept a cryptic smile at that, and started to lead the way. "This way, please. We'll have to stop by the canteen first, though. Have you been there before?"
[02:48] <Ariadne> "I have! But that's fine. Lead on~"
[02:50] * Yanmei did so, already anticipating her surprise. But, more importantly, the joy of introducing one friend to another.

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