For The Love Of Life 1 4 3

[16:33] <Minaplo> [Mary Caine was sitting at her desk in the middle of her expansive office, alone, for now. Before her lay a data tablet, on which she was reading a report.-
[16:36] <Minaplo> [Around her office sat objects of bygone eras, framed behind glass cabinets. Old bronze age helmets, swords from the middle ages, pottery from thirty different civilizations across five continents. Books in dead languages. Old, dead things, felt today only by their silent legacy.-
[16:36] <Minaplo> [The heavy doors to the office slid open, and a woman walked in.-
[16:40] <Minaplo> [She was young, absolutely no older than 20. She was of maybe average height, and was fit and lithe. Her hair was quite long, and straight, and blonde; her eyes were blue. She wore a crisp, straight black suit over a white dress shirt, with a black tie. Her flat shoes clopped on the hard ground as she walked through the door and up the ramp until she stood opposite Caine.-
[16:46] <Minaplo> [She did not hesitate or fidget in Caine's presence, and when Caine looked up, the woman looked her squarely in the eye without flinching. "You received my report?" Asked the blonde woman.-
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["I did." Said Mary. "I'm reading it now. Have a seat."-
[16:50] <Minaplo> [But the blonde woman was already tapping her foot on the ground. The tile slid open, and a leather chair emerged, on which the blonde woman sat.-
[16:50] <Minaplo> ["I was disappointed to hear of the loss of the Slaughterdroid." Said Caine.-
[16:51] <Minaplo> ["Not to mention the loss of four research assistants." She continued. "The details are vague- what happened, exactly?"-
[16:52] <Minaplo> ["Anti-tampering measures, would you believe it." Said the blonde woman, leaning back in her chair, fingertips pushed together, one leg folded over the other.-
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["I would." Said Caine coolly. "Explosives?"-
[16:55] <Minaplo> ["Electrical discharge. Electrocuted the assistants, junked the Slaughterdroid's internal systems." Said the blonde woman. "Triggered by us attempting to study its inner workings."-
[16:56] <Minaplo> [There was a pause. Caine lifted the data tablet up, tapping its surface twice.-
[16:57] <Minaplo> ["I was hoping studying the Slaughterdroid might give us something useful." Said Caine. "Something we could use to subvert Surov's pet android."-
[16:57] <Minaplo> ["Well, we now know that mechanical tampering is out of the question." Said the blonde woman with a small, lopsided smirk.-
[16:58] <Minaplo> [Caine did not smile.-
[17:00] <Minaplo> ["We did learn something that might be useful." Said the blonde woman. "If we assume that Sarasvati incorporates more advanced renditions of the components used for the Slaughterdroid, then it gives us some insight into her basic capabilities."-
[17:02] <Minaplo> [Caine looked back at her tablet, tapping the screen. An image appeared of a caucasian girl, 17 or 18 by general reckoning, with large green eyes and medium-length reddish hair. "Go on."-
[17:12] <Minaplo> ["Advanced portable positron reactor for power, some of those marvellous synthetic muscular forms that Surov does so well." Said the blonde woman with a small smirk. "Computational power on par with a single MAGI system, a solid surovite shell, a sophisticated sensor suite… All in all, if I had to wager a guess, physically on par with a Solomon Prime, with all the intelligence of a supercomputer."-
[17:14] <Minaplo> ["And we can expect -more- from the pet android." Said Caine quietly. "Surov doesn't waste time, does he?"-
[17:15] <Minaplo> ["Has he ever?" Asked the blonde woman dryly.-
[17:21] <Minaplo> [Caine gave a very short shake of the head. "What else?"-
[17:29] <Minaplo> ["From our autopsy, we can tick off one of our suspicions as correct." Said the blonde woman. "The components we recovered were quite rugged, of course… But we suspected, like the MAGI, that functions optimally in a specific environment."-
[17:30] <Minaplo> ["Low temperature." Said Caine quietly. "Like the MAGI cold towers."-
[17:30] <Minaplo> ["Exactly."-
[17:30] <Minaplo> [There was another pause.-
[17:31] <Minaplo> ["I read the report studying the behaviour of the pet android." Said Caine. "It said that it reported… feeling 'homesick'."-
[17:33] <Minaplo> ["Indeed." Said the blonde woman, her smirk widening. "Seems she misses her father. I'm sure you understand what a tribulation that is."-
[17:34] <Minaplo> [Caine's eyes narrowed. She ignored the insult. "Is it capable of emotion? At least a facsimile of emotion?"-
[17:36] <Minaplo> ["We're not certain, although Sarasvati does display behaviour one could categorise as emotional." Said the blonde woman. "The Slaughterdroid had a MAGI-style personality imprinting, presumably Surov's. I'm not sure if the same has been used here, or she uses something much more advanced… Or Surov cheated."-
[17:36] <Minaplo> ["Cheated."-
[17:37] <Minaplo> [The blonde woman tutted. "True emotion comes from within. The soul. Our bodies imperfectly render it like a mediocre translator might render a language."-
[17:38] <Minaplo> ["You think he placed a soul inside the pet?" Caine frowned. "That would-"-
[17:38] <Minaplo> ["Be cheating."-
[17:39] <Minaplo> ["I was going to say 'Evangelion-like'." Said Caine coolly.-
[17:39] <Minaplo> ["Still cheating." The blonde woman grinned, showing white clean teeth.-
[17:41] <Minaplo> [Caine placed the data tablet down on the table. "The question remains: how do we subvert it? How do we make it do what we want? My conditioning techniques are made for human beings. We can't physically alter its behaviour without having it self-terminate… Where does that leave us?"-
[17:42] <Minaplo> ["Trickery." Said the blonde woman. "Emotional manipulation. Old school techniques."-
[17:44] <Minaplo> ["So it seems." Caine said quietly. "Very well. Let us outline our goal: the location of the hidden Federation base that we know exists somewhere, yet cannot discern where exactly it is."-
[17:44] <Minaplo> ["We have a goal, and now we need a method." Said the blonde woman. "Lesser of two Evils ploy? We could just bomb a continent- say, South America- and appeal to her humanity."-
[17:47] <Minaplo> ["Gauche." Said Caine. "We're assuming it would value the lives of a hundred million strangers to the few it knows. The weak-willed like Zhang may not want that on their conscience, but I expect more from any creation of Surov."-
[17:47] <Minaplo> ["Agreed." Said the blonde woman. "Incentives? Can we bribe her somehow?"-
[17:55] <Minaplo> ["Again, assuming we can offer it anything it values more than the people it knows." Said Caine.-
[17:56] <Minaplo> ["Bluff?" Offered the blonde woman. "Lead her to believe we have her father, and promise good treatment in return for compliance."-
[17:56] <Minaplo> ["It wouldn't be stupid enough to fall for that without verifying it in person." Said Caine.-
[17:56] <Minaplo> ["Body double? Clone?"-
[17:57] <Minaplo> ["It would have to be a flawless double to fool its senses." Said Caine.-
[18:12] <Minaplo> ["I don't suppose we could rely on body cues or tells, either." Said the blonde woman.-
[18:17] <Minaplo> ["Doubtful." Said Caine. "This would be easier if you simply knew about the bases."-
[18:20] <Minaplo> [The blonde woman shook her head with a small smile. "SEELE wasn't always so omnipotent. Ikari knew about the Asian bases, so we might find out once his soul heals. The Europe bases we're aware of, but only Launceston knows about any North American or South American ones."-
[18:20] <Minaplo> ["Might be easier to just kidnap or kill him." Mused Caine.-
[18:21] <Minaplo> ["Now who's gauche?" Said the blonde woman with a smile. "Do that and they'll run into hiding, never mind that it'd break our 'truce'."-
[18:21] <Minaplo> ["I'm aware." Muttered Caine.-
[18:22] <Minaplo> [There was a pause.-
[18:27] <Minaplo> [The blonde woman was staring out at the artifacts, a hand on her chin. "No bribes, no threats, no killings or clones. This is a game of deception."-
[18:34] <Minaplo> [Caine followed the gaze towards the same object- an ancient Chinese compass chariot, designed to always point in the same direction no matter where it was turned.-
[18:34] <Minaplo> ["Point east and march west." Said Caine.-
[18:43] <Minaplo> ["She'll be expecting a trick." Said the blonde woman. "So we must give her one. Feed her a ploy that she'll identify as a ploy, and use that to hide a second ploy playing off her behaviour in response to the first."-
[18:47] <Minaplo> ["You have something in mind." Said Caine.-
[18:50] <Minaplo> ["I do. First and foremost, let's turn up the temperature in her room." Said the blonde woman with a sweet smile. "It won't make her stupid, but she finds it discomforting, and it does slow her down. Even better if she realises why we're doing it."-
[18:53] <Minaplo> ["And then?"-
[18:54] <Minaplo> ["Leave that to me."-
[18:54] <Minaplo> […-
[18:55] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati's cell was little more than an empty white box.-
[18:59] <Minaplo> [The blonde woman was standing outside of the room's solitary door. A small viewscreen to the left of the door let the blonde woman see what was happening within, which wasn't a lot. Sarasvati was walking around the room, periodically tapping her hands against the wall, then moving on to tap at another part. She had been doing this incessantly since she'd arrived.-
[19:01] <Minaplo> [Physically, Sarasvati looked, at least at first, like a normal human being. She was tall, about 5'10, and she had a slender, light form- efficient, was the word the blonde woman thought of. It reminded her of the Evangelions, not for the first time.-
[19:04] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati had skin; artificial human skin, similar to Caine's own. It was fair and flawless and perfectly even in tone. She had hair, too; reddish hair, that looked like perfectly normal human hair. And she had eyes, perfectly normal green human eyes, identical in pattern to that of Surov himself. And she was beautiful, with a perfectly proportioned, perfectly symmetrical face with a perfectly little nose and perfectly red lips.-
[19:05] <Minaplo> [Which was the problem. It wasn't the perfection of paradise but the perfection of mass production- the perfection of copying. The perfect beauty was perfectly fake.-
[19:05] <Minaplo> [They didn't call Surov the Dollmaker for nothing.-
[19:05] <Minaplo> [The blonde woman tapped a button on the side of the door, and it opened. The instant it began to move, Sarasvati swivelled on her heel to face the door.-
[19:05] <Minaplo> [The blonde woman stepped inside.-
[19:06] <Minaplo> ["Hello, Sarasvati." She said, smiling warmly.-
[19:07] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati didn't reply instantly. She kept her eyes on the blonde woman; the blonde woman could see her pupils dilate, and then contract. Artificial pupils. Focusing? Zooming?-
[19:08] <Minaplo> [Then, after a second, Sarasvati took a step back and began to tap against that part of the wall; after a few seconds she continued, her unending pattern restarting… Although this time she kept her eyes firmly on the blonde woman's face.-
[19:08] <Minaplo> ["Who are you?" Asked Sarasvati. Her voice was even, measured. Perfect tone and perfect pace. Unnatural to human ears.-
[19:09] <Minaplo> ["You may call me Eve." Said the blonde woman.-
[19:10] <Minaplo> ["Is that your real name?" Asked Sarasvati as she tapped the wall.-
[19:10] <Minaplo> [Eve smiled, but didn't answer the question. "I'd like to conduct a physical examination on you, Sarasvati, if you don't mind."-
[19:10] <Minaplo> ["Why?" Tap tap tap.-
[19:11] <Minaplo> ["Because I'm curious about you, Sarasvati."-
[19:11] <Minaplo> ["Why?" Replied Sarasvati.-
[19:11] <Minaplo> ["Because you're unique. Because we don't really understand how you work. We would like to find out."-
[19:11] <Minaplo> ["Why?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[19:12] <Minaplo> [Whys, all the way down. "Do I need a reason to seek knowledge, Sarasvati?"-
[19:14] <Minaplo> ["No." Said Sarasvati. Tap tap. Step. Tap Tap. "But I think you have one to seek knowledge about me."-
[19:15] <Minaplo> ["A reason beyond curiosity?"-
[19:18] <Minaplo> ["Yes." Tap tap. "A practical reason. To discover my weaknesses. To understand how to control me."-
[19:18] <Minaplo> ["That seems a little paranoid." Said Eve.-
[19:18] <Minaplo> ["It is not." tap tap. "Father taught me that Mary Caine seeks to understand things only so she can control them."-
[19:20] <Minaplo> ["I'm not Mary Caine." Said Eve, taking out a data tablet from her suit jacket.-
[19:20] <Minaplo> ["You work for Mary Caine." Tap tap.-
[19:20] <Minaplo> ["I do." Said Eve with a smile. "Who do you work for, Sarasvati?"-
[19:20] <Minaplo> [No words. Step. Tap tap.-
[19:21] <Minaplo> ["You don't know?" Asked Eve.-
[19:21] <Minaplo> [Step. Tap tap.-
[19:21] <Minaplo> ["Oh, I see. You're not going to answer my questions." Said Eve. "In case you give something away."-
[19:22] <Minaplo> [Step. Tap tap.-
[19:22] <Minaplo> ["Rude." Said Eve with a shake of the head. "After I answered all of yours?"-
[19:23] <Minaplo> [Step. Tap tap. Sarasvati never blinked as she stared at Eve. Another unsettling trait.-
[19:25] <Minaplo> ["I see we're not going anywhere with this." Said Eve, frowning. "Alright, let's put it aside for now. Let's forget about the exam. I just want to talk."-
[19:25] <Minaplo> ["Why?"-
[19:29] <Minaplo> ["Because you fascinate me, Sarasvati." Said Eve. "You're unique. You're an android, a superior being, but you have human trappings- human form, and you have some human behaviours. I just want to understand you a little more as an individual."-
[19:29] <Minaplo> ["To manipulate me." Said Sarasvati. Tap tap. Step.-
[19:30] <Minaplo> ["To understand you." Stressed Eve. "Like any curious rational person."-
[19:30] <Minaplo> ["You must understand someone in order to manipulate them." Said Sarasvati. Tap tap.-
[19:32] <Minaplo> ["True, all successful manipulations rely on understanding, but not all understanding leads to manipulation." Said Eve. "Here, I'll make you a deal. You may ask me as many questions as you like. I will answer truthfully, and when you are done, I will leave. I won't ask you anything, I won't try to manipulate you… This is all in your hands."-
[19:32] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati was silent for a moment. Step. Tap tap. Then…-
[19:33] <Minaplo> ["Why are you wearing a suit?"-
[19:33] <Minaplo> ["I like how I look in it." Said Eve.-
[19:34] <Minaplo> ["Are you a scientist?"-
[19:34] <Minaplo> ["Yes."-
[19:34] <Minaplo> ["What discipline?"-
[19:34] <Minaplo> ["Metaphysical biology, conventional biology, chemistry and physics." Said Eve.-
[19:35] <Minaplo> ["Are there other clothes you like wearing?" Asked Sarasvati. Step. Tap tap.-
[19:35] <Minaplo> ["Yes." Said Eve patiently.-
[19:35] <Minaplo> ["Why did you wear a suit today, then?" Step. Tap tap.-
[19:36] <Minaplo> ["Because it gives off a professional vibe. It demonstrates that I consider this important." Said Eve.-
[19:37] <Minaplo> ["What materials does your suit use?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[19:37] <Minaplo> ["Silk for the jacket and trousers, linen for the shirt."-
[19:37] <Minaplo> ["Was it expensive?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[19:37] <Minaplo> ["Very expensive." Said Eve with a grin.-
[19:38] <Minaplo> ["Would you be angry if I tore it up?" Asked Sarasvati. Tap tap.-
[19:38] <Minaplo> ["Probably." Said Eve, unflappable.-
[19:39] <Minaplo> ["Is Eve your real name?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[19:39] <Minaplo> ["No." Said Eve.-
[19:39] <Minaplo> ["What is your real name?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[19:39] <Minaplo> ["A secret." Said Eve, her grin widening.-
[19:40] <Minaplo> ["What is your position here?" Asked Sarasvati. Tap tap.-
[19:41] <Minaplo> ["I'm an advisor to Mary Caine."-
[19:41] <Minaplo> [Step. Tap tap. "So you're close to her?"-
[19:41] <Minaplo> ["Yes." Said Eve.-
[19:42] <Minaplo> ["Did she order you to manipulate me?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[19:42] <Minaplo> ["No." Said Eve with a smile. "Mary Caine doesn't order me around."-
[19:42] <Minaplo> ["Why am I here?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[19:43] <Minaplo> ["We recovered you during the Geofront assault." Said Eve. "We brought you here for safekeeping."-
[19:43] <Minaplo> ["You took me away from father's lab. That is kidnapping." Said Sarasvati.-
[19:44] <Minaplo> [Eve chuckled. "As you say. I won't deny that you're a high value individual."-
[19:44] <Minaplo> ["What happened to Luke?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[19:49] <Minaplo> ["Luke?" Eve's smile faltered. Who was Luke?-
[19:49] <Minaplo> ["The Lictor." Said Sarasvati.-
[19:55] <Minaplo> ["Oh." Damn. "I'm afraid Luke had an accident."-
[19:55] <Minaplo> ["He's dead, isn't he?"-
[20:01] <Minaplo> ["I'm afraid so." Said Eve.-
[20:02] <Minaplo> ["How?" Asked Sarasvati. Her tap-tap-step pattern didn't stop, but her tone had changed. It was harder. Angrier.-
[20:04] <Minaplo> ["A member of the robotics team tried to open up the Slau- Luke's head to study his internal workings. I'm sorry."-
[20:06] <Minaplo> ["You triggered his anti-tampering system." Said Sarasvati. Accusing.-
[20:08] <Minaplo> ["I'm afraid we did." Said Eve.-
[20:09] <Minaplo> ["That is why you are doing this. Wanting to do examinations. Talk. You realise you cannot just take me apart or reprogram me."-
[20:11] <Minaplo> [Eve sighed. "No. We never intended to take you apart."-
[20:12] <Minaplo> ["You are lying." Said Sarasvati. Tap tap. Step.-
[20:13] <Minaplo> ["Why don't we move on?" Said Eve quickly.-
[20:13] <Minaplo> ["No. No more questions. I do not want to speak to you anymore." Said Sarasvati. "Go away."-
[20:14] <Minaplo> ["Sarasvati, be reasonable." Said Eve gently.-
[20:15] <Minaplo> ["Go away." Said Sarasvati again, in the same tone.-
[20:16] <Minaplo> ["Alright." Said Eve. "I'll go. Give you some time to grieve. Goodbye, Sarasvati."-
[20:17] <Minaplo> [And Eve turned and left, leaving Sarasvati along to tap the walls.-
[14:58] <Minaplo> [Eve returned three hours later. But this time she had an escort in five Stormtroopers.-
[14:59] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati had spent every minute of those three hours repeating her pattern of tapping on the walls. Just like last time, she paused when Eve entered, turning to look at the newcomer for a minute- before continuing the pattern without breaking eye contact.-
[15:00] <Minaplo> ["You are being moved." Said Eve.-
[15:00] <Minaplo> ["Why?" Asked Sarasvati immediately.-
[15:03] <Minaplo> ["We have decided that a sterile testing chamber is inappropriate as a holding cell for you." Said Eve.-
[15:04] <Minaplo> ["Where am I being moved?" She stopped tapping now, standing straight, her arms at her sides. Sarasvati did not fidget.-
[15:06] <Minaplo> ["Somewhere more appropriate." Said Eve, pausing for a second, a small smile on her lips before continuing. "A small apartment, you might say. I think you will find it more stimulating than this box."-
[15:10] <Minaplo> [After a second, Sarasvati nodded once.-
[15:23] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati was escorted through the halls, closely watched by the Stormtroopers. After about twenty minutes, they arrived at their destination. The door opened, and Eve led Sarasvati into what would be her new home.-
[15:25] <Minaplo> [It was small, but it seemed pleasant enough to the eye. The main room was carpeted with a red and white criss-cross pattern; the room itself doubled as a bedroom and living room in one, with a single bed with blue sheets sitting against the wall in the middle of the room, opposite a wide black television.-
[15:25] <Minaplo> [The room also had a wardrobe and walk-in closet, and had three adjourning rooms separated by doors- a kitchenette, a bathroom and a laundry.-
[15:30] <Minaplo> ["Do you like it?" Asked Eve.-
[15:31] <Minaplo> ["It is fine." Said Sarasvati. She was slowly taking it all in, turning a critical eye onto every object and every surface. Her eyes alighted on one object- a mass-produced painting of some Mediterranean seaside landscape. She walked over to it, stared at it for a minute, then slightly adjusted it to the left so that it was perfectly centred.-
[15:33] <Minaplo> ["We also want you to have this." Eve reached into her suit jacket and took out a white computer tablet, which she held out to Sarasvati, who took it.-
[15:34] <Minaplo> ["It has some e-books on it." Said Eve. "And it has access to a custom tailoring service provided in the Synfront. Do you like clothes, Sarasvati?"-
[15:43] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati turned to look at Eve. "Yes. My father and I have had many sessions comparing various garments and patterns, seeing what complements my appearance, style and requirements."-
[15:43] <Minaplo> ["Good." Said Eve with a grin. "Feel free to use the service as much as you like, then. I'm sure you'll want to get out of that white gown you're in now."-
[15:44] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati looked down at the tablet, turning it on.-
[15:44] <Minaplo> ["Do you have any other requests?" Asked Eve.-
[15:45] <Minaplo> ["Two and a half kilograms of scrap metal and a Mark 2 L-Tech Laser Cutter." Said Sarasvati instantly.-
[15:45] <Minaplo> [There was a pause.-
[15:45] <Minaplo> ["You want metal and a laser cutter?" Asked Eve, eyes narrowing. "Why?"-
[15:46] <Minaplo> ["For my own purposes." Said Sarasvati.-
[15:46] <Minaplo> ["These things could be turned into weapons." Said Eve slowly.-#
#0[15:47] <Minaplo> ["The M2 Laser Cutter's beam would take ten minutes to cut through a Stormtrooper's armour, and I suspect any metal you give me would not be strong enough to do much good either. I would be better off physically beating them to death with my hands."-
[15:47] <Minaplo> [There was some awkward shuffling from the Stormtroopers at the door.-
[15:51] <Minaplo> [Eve smiled. "Fair enough. I'll have these things provided to you as soon as possible. Until then, settle in, become comfortable. Do you eat?"-
[15:52] <Minaplo> ["I can eat." Said Sarasvati, who still hadn't looked up from the tablet. "It is not necessary, but I possess fluidic nano-machines that can break down and synthesise the minerals for useful purposes."-
[15:53] <Minaplo> ["You have a digestive system?" Asked Eve, frowning, leaning forward slightly.-
[15:54] <Minaplo> ["If that is what you want to call it." Sarasvati turned around, heading for the bed.-
[15:54] <Minaplo> ["But do you taste? Do you have taste receptors, anything like that?" Asked Eve, following.-
[15:54] <Minaplo> ["Go away." Said Sarasvati.-
[16:04] <Minaplo> [Eve stopped, her frown deepening, before she let out a sigh. "Very well, I'll leave you to it."-
[16:04] <Minaplo> [And with that, Eve turned around and left, the door closing behind her.-
[01:38] <Minaplo> [Once Eve and the Stormtroopers were gone, Sarasvati went still. Her eyes moved slowly left and right before she approached a corner of the room.-
[01:41] <Minaplo> [Without apparent reason she placed her tablet onto the bed, shifted the bedside table out of the way, and pushed the bed over until it was up against the wall, covering the corner. After that, she climbed onto the bed, collected the tablet, and sat in the corner, back against the wall, legs tucked up against her chest.-
[01:42] <Minaplo> [Spying a small USB-like data port on the bottom of the data tablet, Sarasvati placed a finger against it. Before the second was out the tablet began to flash, dozens of windows opening and closing at once, programs executing and searches and orders being placed.-
[01:57] <Minaplo> [The poor tablet, in its default state, had no hope of maintaining the pace of her operation. That hadn't been a problem- allowing it to use even a little of her own innate processing ability had been enough to bring it to a satisfactory condition.-
[02:20] <Minaplo> [In less than half a minute, Sarasvati had optimised the tablet, boosted its wireless receiver, taken control of and adjusted her room's climate settings (lowering the temperature as low as the climate settings would allow), organised her food and drink deliveries, ordered sixteen different outfits (including a sharp business suit, black dress, tasteful and appropriate orange sari and a linen nightgown) and had begun systematically testing the security of the Synfront's local network.-
[02:37] <Minaplo> [It would take an hour before Sarasvati's requests began to arrive. The food and drink (what little there was of each; the drink mostly consisted of extra-chilled water) arrived, along with some of her outfits- some had to be tailor-made, however, and would take longer.-
[02:39] <Minaplo> [Most importantly, however, was the delivery of a sizeable, rough chunk of dull grey metal and an accompanying laser cutter. Sarasvati accepted all of these, sorting out the clothes and food before taking the metal and the cutter over to the kitchen bench.-
[02:49] <Minaplo> [Her attempts at probing the Synfront's network had yielded mixed results. The defenses were strong, as was to be expected from a MAGI-operated base, and as the time had progressed, her avenues had narrowed. She'd had to make triply-sure that she'd cleaned the tablet of bugs and the like that might share her secrets to her captors.-
[03:04] <Minaplo> [Her father had left numerous backdoors and little secrets hidden inside the Synfront's MAGI system and network before he'd left. Backdoors designed specifically to allow him to access the MAGI remotely, receive stolen data from carefully hidden spies… It had even once allowed him to hack and combat the system, although the backlash had left him dazed and shocked for days after.-
[03:04] <Minaplo> [But right now, Sarasvati was not concerned with this.-
[03:11] <Minaplo> [She picked up the laser cutter and began to work, firing a low-intensity red cutting beam towards the metal chunk. It slowly carved some of the metal away.-
[03:11] <Minaplo> [And so, Sarasvati began to work.-
[03:16] <Minaplo> [She was working at peak efficiency, but even then this was a slow, precise, careful job that took her some five hours to complete. During that time, her gaze never drifted and her hand never wavered.-
[03:41] <Minaplo> [Over the course of her work, a shape began to take form. A roughly oblong shape, on which a small round boulder perched. The laser cutter whittled away more metal, until the vague outline of appendages began to form…-
[03:42] <Minaplo> [Eventually, a good chunk of the metal had been burned off, and after this it was mainly detail.-
[03:42] <Minaplo> [But she would be finished. And when she was…-
[03:43] <Minaplo> [Where a chunk of metal had once sat, now sat a figurine, the light glinting off its shiny, polished metal surface. A humanoid figure, taller than a human, more heavily built, with a head resembling a grim skull and long, powerful arms.-
[03:43] <Minaplo> [A small, accurate rendition of the Lictor Slaughterdroid.-
[03:44] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati put the cutter aside, staring down at the figurine. Her eyes blinked, once.-
[03:45] <Minaplo> ["Sorry, Luke." She said, the only words she'd said in hours. Sarasvati leaned forward, planting a small, quick kiss on the top of the figurine's head.]
[…]
[18:40] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati's actions had not gone unwatched.-
[18:49] <Minaplo> [It would've been impossible for Sarasvati to root out every single camera or listening bug in her apartment- although she made a good effort of it. Some of the clothes Sarasvati had ordered- particularly the plain ones- had been torn up into strips or bandages, which had been placed over whichever camera she could, pinned into place by jabbing some of the sharper pieces of scrap metal into the plaster of the wall, the wooden frame of her bed, and a dozen other places.-
[18:50] <Minaplo> [In other places, where cameras or bugs listened to her from metal objects, she simply melted over them with the laser cutter.-
[18:52] <Minaplo> [It had not taken long for the most obvious, overt, or older bugs to be neutralised. But after a certain threshold had been crossed, the difficulty in finding them became much, much harder.-
[18:57] <Minaplo> [Finding them became a challenge in and of itself, but that wasn't all- the actual neutralisation was becoming more difficult. Sarasvati had swept the bathroom clean of bugs, or so she had thought, only to find a fiendishly small and difficult to detect nano-camera sitting on the sink.-
[18:58] <Minaplo> [She'd returned half an hour later, only to detect another six throughout the shower cubicle. Sarasvati neutralised them- a task that took twenty minutes- then, staring up at the showerhead, turned the water on.-
[18:59] <Minaplo> [After a five second burst, at least thirty extra nano-sized bugs had somehow been deposited in the cubicle, all of them in or near locations where water had fallen. They were entering through the water.-
[19:00] <Minaplo> [Anyone who used this shower would soon find their body coated in teeming bugs, providing visual, audio and olfactory cues; detecting heat, energy sources; a myriad of other things came to mind.-
[19:01] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati didn't experience the literal sensation of skin-crawling, but if she did, this would've triggered it with ease.-
[19:04] <Minaplo> [After that, Saravati stopped bothering trying to hunt down the bugs. They were so easily replaceable, and so difficult to remove, that at this point, the act of hunting them would give her captors more data about her capabilities than the bugs would by themselves. She couldn't win that game, and so she didn't play.-
[19:57] <Minaplo> [All of this data the bugs collected was sent to one place- Data Collection Laboratory N4. Built into the Synfront's -expansive- scientific facilities, Lab N4 was currently the haunt of Eve and her team of observers.-
[20:13] <Minaplo> [Eve sat in an office chair, her legs up on a white flakboard desk in front of her, her hands steepled together across her stomach. She had been silent for an hour as her team discussed Sarasvati, all of them with questions that as yet went unanswered.-
[20:18] <Minaplo> ["She clearly knows that we're testing her." Said one of her team irritably, a short, balding man with grey hair. "The bugs, the climate controls, the deliberately unoptimised tablet…"-
[20:20] <Minaplo> ["What, running out of avenues?" Said another member of the team, a tall, young blonde-haired man with a clean, clear face and a smile twisted permanently in a cocky smirk.-
[20:26] <Minaplo> ["She's covering them." Said the balding man, scowling. "Here's what we have: she wants to escape. We at least know that. We know she can access Surov's backdoors. We don't know if she knows that we know-"-
[20:27] <Minaplo> [The cocky man grimaced-
[20:29] <Minaplo> ["- about the backdoors and are eavesdropping, don't make that face." Snapped the balding man. "The MAGI predicts that she will attempt to use them to coordinate with outside sources…"-
[20:43] <Minaplo> ["… And she ain't biting." Said the cocky man, leaning against a bench. He folded his arms. "She'll be smart and wait. Wait for a damned long time if she has to, 'til time favours her."-
[20:43] <Minaplo> ["Of course. She has no reason to rush." Said the balding man.-
[20:43] <Minaplo> [Eve clapped her hands once. Baldy and Cocky both stopped and turned to look at her immediately.-
[20:50] <Minaplo> ["She has the luxury to wait. We do not." Said Eve. "First objective: give her an impetus."-
[20:51] <Minaplo> ["Henrik," Said Eve. The balding man nodded once.-
[21:11] <Minaplo> ["How do we give her an impetus? Quickly, now." Said Eve.-
[21:11] <Minaplo> ["Quickly might be asking too much." Said the cocky man.-
[21:11] <Minaplo> ["Hush, McCoy, let him think." Said Eve sharply.-
[21:12] <Minaplo> [McCoy coughed, nodding his head once. Henrik let himself smile just a little.-
[22:31] <Minaplo> ["Zap the rat?" Suggested Henrik. "We could make her current situation unbearable in any way possible. Turn her room into a furnace, reduce her control, wear her down until she can't stand it…"-
[22:31] <Minaplo> ["Hmm." Eve considered it for a second, then turned towards McCoy. "And you?"-
[22:32] <Minaplo> ["We're on a time limit; give her one too." Said McCoy. "Make her believe that we're coming close to pouncing on the backdoors."-
[22:32] <Minaplo> ["Good, good." Said Eve. She turned towards Henrik again.-
[22:35] <Minaplo> ["Carrot." Said Henrik. "Leak her information of some calamity. As she's the only one who'll know of said calamity, she'll be compelled to leave to spread word."-
[22:36] <Minaplo> ["Risky." Said McCoy. "She ain't gonna fall for that if the backdoors're open!"-
[22:39] <Minaplo> ["True." Said Henrik. "What if we encoded it? Information that she couldn't send through the MAGI?"-
[22:52] <Minaplo> ["A Surein-Optodata rod?" Asked McCoy.-
[22:59] <Minaplo> [Eve sighed, reaching into the breast pocket of her suit and taking out a small white box. She opened it; within were four small black and white Belgian pralines in the shape of love hearts. She took one out, put the box away and bit into her treat.-
[23:01] <Minaplo> ["If Surov's own android daughter can't read, copy and transmit Surein-Optodata using nothing but her body, I'd be surprised." Said Eve.-
[23:03] <Minaplo> ["Fuck." Swore McCoy.-
[23:13] <Minaplo> ["I really thought that was a good idea, too." Said Henrik, letting out a wordless grumble.-
[23:15] <Minaplo> [The room fell silent. The two male scientists were frowning, sighing or looking in one way or another dejected.-
[23:15] <Minaplo> [Eve, however, was smiling. A small, satisfied little smile.-
[23:22] <Minaplo> ["Thought of something?" Asked McCoy.-
[23:22] <Minaplo> ["The perfect something." Said Eve. "A way to tie all of your plans together in one perfect package…"-
[…]
[17:49] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati had been standing in the middle of the room, tablet in hand, doing a by-now routine test of the network when the door chime sounded.-
[18:09] <Minaplo> [The door opened before she could get to it. Standing in the doorway was… Eve.-
[18:12] <Minaplo> ["What do you want?" Asked Sarasvati instantly.-
[18:14] <Minaplo> ["You shouldn't be so harsh." Said Eve, frowning. Her arms were folded.-
[18:14] <Minaplo> ["Why not?"-
[18:15] <Minaplo> ["It's rude, of course." Said Eve.-
[18:15] <Minaplo> [There was a moment's pause.-
[18:15] <Minaplo> ["Go away." Said Sarasvati, stepping forward to close the door. By force if necessary.-
[18:16] <Minaplo> [Eve held a hand out. "Wait. I'm here for a reason."-
[18:16] <Minaplo> ["What reason?"-
[18:48] <Minaplo> [Eve clapped her hands together. "See, all this time I've been thinking about how to make your stay a little easier." Said Eve. "And then it came to me like divine inspiration-"-
[18:48] <Minaplo> ["Hurry up." Said Sarasvati curtly.-
[18:55] <Minaplo> ["Alright, alright." Eve held her hands up placatingly. "I've brought a guest for you."-
[18:58] <Minaplo> [Eve stepped aside, and a Stormtrooper appeared, escorting someone else- a girl. Sarasvati's eyes widened slightly- the optical sensors in her eyes analysing what she saw: Ayanami Roku. An injured Roku.-
[19:03] <Minaplo> [She had bandages wrapped around her forehead; a gauze eyepatch over her left eye; Sarasvati could perceive a line of stitches beneath the bandages on the left side of her head- surgical incisions made to treat a skull fracture. She was wearing a plain red dress that fell to her knees and plain black shoes- yet Sarasvati could see the other, hidden injuries. The wrappings around her chest and stomach, the faint suggestions of biogel use…-
[19:04] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati's eyes narrowed, her vision focusing on Roku's face. The glassy look and blank expression- recognisable symptoms of extensive psychological trauma or conditioning.-
[19:07] <Minaplo> ["Who is she…?" Asked Roku, her voice a quiet mumble.-
[19:08] <Minaplo> ["This is Sarasvati." Said Eve. "She's the daughter of Dr Surov. You and her will be roommates for a while."-
[19:08] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati's narrow gaze flicked from Roku to Eve. "Those injuries. How?"-
[19:08] <Minaplo> ["She tried to escape." Said Eve with a small smile.-
[19:13] <Minaplo> [For a second, Sarasvati's analysis of Eve's face took on a more martial turn. Within a second she'd formulated a plan that would take 0.85 seconds to execute and would ultimately result in Eve's brain matter being ejected in several large chunks out through the back of her skull.-
[19:14] <Minaplo> [However, Sarasvati's father had taught her that business came before pleasure, and so she turned back towards Roku. "Please come inside."-
[19:15] <Minaplo> [Roku didn't move.-
[19:15] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati walked to the threshold of the door, offering her hands out to Roku for stability.-
[19:16] <Minaplo> ["You're just another trap." Whispered Roku.-
[19:17] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati shook her head. "I am no trap." Said Sarasvati. "I am a friend."-
[19:19] <Minaplo> ["No. You're going to pretend to be, and…"-
[19:20] <Minaplo> ["To what end, Roku?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[19:21] <Minaplo> ["…" Roku shook her head.-
[19:25] <Minaplo> [The Stormtrooper murmured a quiet, soothing sound, gently pushing Roku forward towards Sarasvati. The girl nearly stumbled, and Sarasvati reached out, grabbing her arms.-
[19:29] <Minaplo> [Roku was still for a moment, trembling, before she slowly, with Sarasvati's help, steadied herself. Aided by Sarasvati so, she managed to make it over the threshold.-
[19:29] <Minaplo> ["Have f-" began Eve. Sarasvati closed the door before she finished.-
[19:31] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati helped Roku over to the bed, letting her sit down before returning to the middle of the room, giving Roku her space.-
[19:32] <Minaplo> [There was silence, heavy and awkward. It filled the room for a good twenty minutes, Roku spending the time staring at the wall, before she finally turned to Sarasvati and spoke.-
[19:33] <Minaplo> ["You're not biotypical, are you?" Asked Roku.-
[19:34] <Minaplo> ["No." Said Sarasvati, who had been working on her tablet. She put it aside. "I'm an android built by Barzilai Surov- my father."-
[19:34] <Minaplo> ["An android?" Roku stared, and for a moment that glassy look gave way. "I didn't know he could do that…"-
[19:34] <Minaplo> ["Most would agree with you." Said Sarasvati. "I am somewhat illegal."-
[19:34] <Minaplo> ["Oh." Said Roku.-
[19:36] <Minaplo> ["Computer intelligences like my own, without any sort of control limitations, are illegal under UN Law." Said Sarasvati.-
[19:36] <Minaplo> ["Oh." She said again. "People are afraid of a… Uhm…"-
[19:37] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati watched patiently until Roku finished.-
[19:37] <Minaplo> ["A 'colossus' scenario or something?"-
[19:38] <Minaplo> ["I would assume so." Said Sarasvati.-
[19:38] <Minaplo> [There was another pause, but before the pause could more properly turn into a silence, Sarasvati spoke again.-
[19:39] <Minaplo> ["I don't intend to take over the world." Said Sarasvati. "So please don't worry."-
[19:48] <Minaplo> ["Oh."-
[19:49] <Minaplo> ["Did you really get those injuries trying to escape, Roku?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[19:49] <Minaplo> ["…" Roku looked away.-
[19:50] <Minaplo> ["Sorry." Said Sarasvati. "Not the time. Do you want something to eat or drink?"-
[19:53] <Minaplo> [No response.-
[19:56] <Minaplo> ["We have milk." Offered Sarasvati. "And meat. Beef, chicken. Vegetables. We have carrots. Potatoes. Sweet potatoes. Pumpkin. There is fennel and leek here, and onions. Lettuce, tomatoes. Some grains. We have rice." Sarasvati looked over at the pantry and refrigerator. "I can make you something if you want, but I am a bad cook. I may poison you, but it would be an accident."-
[19:57] <Minaplo> ["I can cook." Murmured Roku.-
[19:57] <Minaplo> ["Feel free." Said Sarasvati, giving Roku a small smile.-
[20:01] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati walked over, holding out a hand, which Roku took with some hesitation. Sarasvati escorted Roku to the kitchen, placed the apron around her, and then for the next twenty minutes, simply helped. Fetched ingredients, utensils, pans, dishes…-
[20:02] <Minaplo> [Roku may not have trusted herself to walk, but even through injury and trauma she knew what she was doing here better than anywhere else. Before long she was walking- slowly- without even really realising that she went unaided, and the kitchen was being filled with the cheerful light and heat of fire and the warm smells of cooking food.-
[20:03] <Minaplo> ["Why is there so much food here?" Asked Roku as she pushed strips of beef around on the frying pan.-
[20:03] <Minaplo> ["I eat it." Said Sarasvati.-
[20:03] <Minaplo> ["You can eat?"-
[20:03] <Minaplo> ["I have a digestive system, yes." Said Sarasvati with a smile.-
[20:03] <Minaplo> ["But you don't need one."-
[20:03] <Minaplo> ["No." Said Sarasvati. "But it is sometimes useful."-
[20:05] <Minaplo> ["Why have it if you don't need it?" Asked Roku.-
[20:07] <Minaplo> ["My father says that the best way to understand human beings is to understand the day-to-day requirements and actions that shape their experiences." Said Sarasvati. "A digestive system allows me to experience eating and, to some extent, hunger, like a human would."-
[20:07] <Minaplo> ["Oh."-
[20:33] <Minaplo> [They continued in silence, Roku adding cream and tomato sauce to the mix. "Why don't you know how to cook?"-
[20:36] <Minaplo> ["Various reasons."-
[20:36] <Minaplo> ["You can't just save the knowledge into your… Memory?" Asked Roku.-
0[20:44] <Minaplo> ["I could." Said Sarasvati. "But my current internet access is limited. It precludes recipes." Said Sarasvati. She tried smiling a little wider for Roku. "I can't- nor would want to- copy the entire content of the internet into my on-board memory, either. At home, I save most of the unimportant or incidental pieces of information I come across to my personal networks."-
[20:45] <Minaplo> ["Even then, it'd only be recipes. Actual skill is- difficult- to simply 'upload' into me."-
[20:45] <Minaplo> ["Oh." Said Roku. "I didn't realise…"-
[20:45] <Minaplo> ["It's fine. What are you making, Roku?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[20:45] <Minaplo> ["Beef stroganoff with rice…"-
[20:55] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati turned her attention towards the dish. A very slight frown creased her features. "My father has it sometimes."-
[20:56] <Minaplo> ["You haven't?"-
[21:14] <Minaplo> ["I don't remember if I have or not." Said Sarasvati.-
[21:15] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[21:35] <Minaplo> [It wouldn't be long before the meal was finished. Well sauteed strips of tender beef in a creamy sauce, with mushrooms and onions, on a bed of rice. Roku scooped the meal into two bowls- one for herself and one for Sarasvati. They sat down to eat, Roku shifting the chair a little away from Sarasvati first.-
[21:49] <Minaplo> [They ate. Sarasvati too, in even, measured mouthfuls. Roku, however, had somehow found her appetite- she dug in, eating with enthusiasm through the meal.-
[22:02] <Minaplo> [It didn't involve as much conversation as Sarasvati had hoped. In fact Roku was silent for most of it, until the meal was gone and the dishes washed. There was a little more colour in her cheeks, yet she's gone quiet again and wouldn't make eye contact.-
[22:46] <Minaplo> [After the meal, Roku returned to the bed, sitting back down on it, falling silent.-
[22:48] <Minaplo> [It was only after an hour of this- Roku sitting silently, Sarasvati working- that Roku spoke.-
[23:14] <Minaplo> ["It was a day after I got out of hospital." She said. "After dying when Isaiah went berserk."-
[23:14] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati paused, turning to give Roku her full attention.-
[23:16] <Minaplo> ["I was taken home by my lover." Said Roku. "His name w-was Aksel Heiden. A Solomon Knight who had a squad of E-Destroyers under his command. He stayed over the night. I… I-I took some of his information and sent it to NERV."-
[23:17] <Minaplo> ["The day after, h-he went on a mission and was ambushed. He was wiped out by… By NERV, I guess." Her voice was dull. She just -stared- as she spoke, not even blinking.-
[23:17] <Minaplo> ["The OD- N-Narendra-" She froze, placing a hand over her head.-
[23:17] <Minaplo> ["Go on, Roku." Said Sarasvati.-
[23:20] <Minaplo> ["He came. He told me Aksel was dead." Said Roku dully. "He was going to force me to tell him about how I met Aksel, and other things, and I snapped. I tried to run, but he caught me and he beat me. He just kept kicking me over and over. He called me arrogant. He called me a whore."-
[23:20] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati nodded once.-
0[23:22] <Minaplo> ["They took me to the hospital, and I was treated, and then they put a black bag over my head and I became fuzzy and woke up in this other room. It was cold. They took all my clothes and strapped me to a metal chair. Mary Caine was there. She asked me questions."-
[23:24] <Minaplo> ["I didn't answer, so they- they did something to my head. Lots of images I can't remember. Then I told them everything, and now my memories are all muddled up and there's something I'm supposed to -do- or -remember- but now I'm like this and I can't focus."-
[23:25] <Minaplo> ["What happened…?" Murmured Roku to herself.-
[23:25] <Minaplo> ["You were conditioned." Said Sarasvati. "They conditioned you to obey them, it seems."-
[23:25] <Minaplo> ["Oh."-
[23:26] <Minaplo> ["Aksel Heiden." Said Sarasvati. "A clone of Raphael Guillory?"-
[23:26] <Minaplo> [Roku looked up at her. "Yes. How-"-
[23:27] <Minaplo> ["He had four subordinates. Philippe Joffre was one of them?" Continued Sarasvati.-
[23:27] <Minaplo> ["Yes. Yes, how-"-
[23:28] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati crossed the distance, kneeling down to look Roku in the eye. Then she smiled, reaching out to stroke the side of Roku's face gently. "Narendra is a liar. Aksel Heiden was taken alive along with all of his unit. They're being held captive right now, unarmed and safe."-
[23:31] <Minaplo> [Roku's eye widened. Her breath caught in her throat. At that moment, all of Roku's attention, for the first time since they'd met, was on Sarasvati, not lost in the past or in the mist of her trauma.-
[23:42] <Minaplo> [She began to breathe, shallowly, and her eye closed, filling with tears. Within a second she'd clapped her hands over her eyes- and started to sob.-
Session Time: Sun Aug 24 00:00:00 2014
[00:37] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati leaned forward, wrapping her arms around Roku tightly, drawing her in closer. Roku recoiled at the touch of this still-stranger, and for a brief moment tried to push Sarasvati away. Obligingly Sarasvati pulled back, but within a second Roku was reaching out for her, seeking the unfamiliar warmth. Roku settled into Sarasvati's arms- and sobbed. "Alive…"-
[00:43] <Minaplo> [Then all of a sudden Roku pulled away, the relief in her eyes replaced by fear. "S-Sarasvati…"-
[00:45] <Minaplo> ["What is it?"-
[00:45] <Minaplo> ["Something- something's going to happen." Said Roku. "Something terrible. I…"-
[00:45] <Minaplo> ["Go on, Roku. What is it?"-
[00:46] <Minaplo> ["I… I…" She shook her head. "I don't- I don't know. I remember… I remember that I found something else."-
[00:46] <Minaplo> ["Some thing else?"-
[00:46] <Minaplo> ["Information?" Said Roku. "Or some… Plot. Some plot to try to wipe out NERV."-
[00:47] <Minaplo> ["But you don't remember any details." Said Sarasvati.-
[00:47] <Minaplo> ["No. Everytime I try, I keep… Nngh. It hurts to try."-
[00:51] <Minaplo> ["Conditioning." Said Sarasvati. "They must've tried to erase the memory of it. Yes, that makes sense." Said Sarasvati, standing. "You found something out. Narendra lied, telling you Aksel died in order to upset you. Trying to make you easier to condition, more pliable. But you're an Ayanami. You have a stronger AT Field. Unless they disrupted that Field, any conditioning would become harder."-
[00:53] <Minaplo> ["So you still remember finding the information, even if you don't remember what it is." Said Sarasvati. "Is there anything else you remember?"-
0[00:54] <Minaplo> ["I remember it was going to happen… Soon." Roku shook her head. "Somewhere around May… May 7th or 8th."-
[00:55] <Minaplo> ["And you said the plot was going to try to wipe out NERV." Said Sarasvati.-
[00:56] <Minaplo> ["We… We have to warn them." Said Roku quietly.-
[00:56] <Minaplo> ["Today is May the 3rd. We have at best, four days to escape." Said Sarasvati. "Four days to leave, try to treat your conditioning, reveal the plot, and then spoil it."-
[00:57] <Minaplo> ["This is not a schedule I care for." She added.-
[00:57] <Minaplo> ["Escape." Roku breathed the word like a desperate prayer. "Is it possible?"-
[00:59] <Minaplo> ["Extremely difficult." Said Sarasvati. "From memory, between us and escape right now are three million Stormtroopers, over twenty thousand fighting vehicles, more than a hundred E-Destroyers, four Dysangelions and Mary Caine herself."-
[01:01] <Minaplo> ["And we have to rescue Juu." Said Roku.-
[01:02] <Minaplo> ["That is honestly something I can take or leave." Said Sarasvati. "The objective is already nearly impossible."-
0[01:06] <Minaplo> ["We -will- rescue Juu." Said Roku, firmly. "This place scares her. It gives her nightmares. I won't leave a sister behind in this hell."-
[01:07] <Minaplo> ["I understand, Roku." Said Sarasvati calmly. "But the choice very well may be between rescuing your sister for a few minutes, or saving everyone we hold dear."-
[01:08] <Minaplo> ["But she -hates- this place!"-
0[01:09] <Minaplo> ["Everyone hates this place." Said Sarasvati. "Including myself. Roku, if we can escape, we can come back for her later, with help."-
[01:09] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[01:10] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati walked over to her side, and knelt down next to her. "They killed my brother."-
[01:11] <Minaplo> [Roku's head whipped up, her eye widening. "Your brother-!"-
[01:13] <Minaplo> ["They tried to interfere with his inner workings, and he self-destructed." Said Sarasvati, her tone calm. "I wish I could have rescued him, too. But I can not. And the chances are that we will not even come close to rescuing Juu."-
[01:15] <Minaplo> ["…" Roku looked down at her hands. One was bandaged from where one of Narenda's stray stamps had crushed it into the ground. "I'm sorry…"-
[01:17] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati reached out, smoothing some of Roku's hair back behind her ear. Then she leaned in, giving Roku a quick kiss, startling her girl out of her reverie.-
[01:17] <Minaplo> ["What…? Why did you-?"-
[01:19] <Minaplo> ["Solidarity." Said Sarasvati. "Comfort. You enjoy kisses. I hope."-
[01:20] <Minaplo> [Before Roku could respond, Sarasvati was already walking towards the tablet. "You said you told them everything. Do you know if you had access to all of the backdoors and workarounds my father built in?"-
[01:28] <Minaplo> ["Uh." Roku, still wrongfooted, shook her head. "I-I think I did."-
[01:29] <Minaplo> ["So sending out requests for help is out of the question." Said Sarasvati. "That limits our options considerably. I may have to use more force than I had hoped."-
[01:30] <Minaplo> [And so it went. Sarasvati sounded out ideas, Roku offered some limited insight. The hours wore on.-
[01:31] <Minaplo> [Roku eventually became dizzy and sleepy, and Sarasvati tucked her in, giving her another kiss before seeing her off to sleep. Sarasvati, however, continued to work.-
[01:33] <Minaplo> [Hours had passed- Sarasvati was currently considering the value in trying to brute-force hack the MAGI and simply taking control of the entire Synfront (dismissed because of lack of adequate access) when she suddenly paused and turned her head.-
[01:34] <Minaplo> [She looked down at her pad. She accessed the environmental controls of the room, and turned them down. Five minutes later she did that again.-
[01:34] <Minaplo> [No effect.-
[01:35] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati then knew what had happened. She sensed the heat in the air, the extra energy devoted to cooling systems. She turned, opened the fridge and drank several mouthfuls of cold water from the chilled bottle within.-
[01:35] <Minaplo> [Eve had locked her out of the environmental controls. Eve was turning the heat up, literally.-
[01:36] <Minaplo> [The temperature continued to increase over the course of the hour. By the time it finally levelled out, the room temperature sat at 41.5 degrees celsius.-
[01:37] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati watched the sleeping Roku, feebly kicking off the covers, sweating, looking almost feverish.-
[01:38] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati was angry. Eve had finally crossed the line into torture.-
[01:39] <Minaplo> ["Fuck." Swore Sarasvati, hoping that the word might provide a cathartic release to her anger.-
[01:39] <Minaplo> [It did not.-
0[18:01] <Minaplo> [Roku pulled herself up from the tousled, twisted sheets. She felt -awful-, weak and enervated. Her hair and skin were drenched and sweat, and she felt more tired than she had before she fell asleep.-
0[18:11] <Minaplo> [She had a raw ache in her eyes, which only accentuated the painful dull throb from her head injuries. Roku slowly pulled herself up off the bed, breathing in sharply at the sudden stab of pain in her chest and stomach.-
[18:19] <Minaplo> [Roku looked over at the kitchen bench. It had been… Occupied.-
[18:20] <Minaplo> [The contents of the fridge, it seems, had been taken out and piled on top of the bench. Several cuts of meat, some simple cheese, tomato and barbeque sauce, cream… The shelves.-
[18:33] <Minaplo> [Roku frowned at the sight. What was Sarasvati playing at? Was the refigerator broken?-
[18:44] <Minaplo> [Roku walked- slowly- over to the kitchen, pausing every so often to stabilise herself on the wall or bench. Eventually she reached the fridge, and opened the door.-
0[19:25] <Minaplo> [A blast of soothing cold surrounded Roku. The shelves of the fridge had indeed been removed, and now occupying the space was Sarasvati. She was sitting down, her legs tucked up against her chest, wearing a soaking wet white dress that clung to her body. Sarasvati was, in fact, wet all over, her skin damp with little waterdrops, her hair hanging flat against her skin. The source of this wetness was obvious: Sarasvati was holding a bottle of ice-cold water above her head, pouring it down over herself.-
[19:26] <Minaplo> [She looked up at Roku as the door opened. She wasn't shivering, even as the water flowed over her face and down onto her body.-
[19:26] <Minaplo> [There was silence for a moment, broken only by the soft splashing of water.-
[19:26] <Minaplo> ["… Hi." Said Roku hesitantly.-
[19:26] <Minaplo> ["Hi." Said Sarasvati.-
[19:31] <Minaplo> ["What are you doing?" Asked Roku.-
[19:31] <Minaplo> ["Regulating my temperature." Said Sarasvati.-
[19:31] <Minaplo> ["…" Roku looked around. "It -is- really hot. What happened?"-
[19:32] <Minaplo> ["Eve took control of the climate controls. Turning the heat up to slow me down."-
[19:32] <Minaplo> [Roku tilted her head.-
[19:33] <Minaplo> ["Overheating does not bode well for a portable positron reactor. The heat forces me to reduce my energy output in order to prevent a catastrophic failure."-
[19:33] <Minaplo> ["…" Roku's eye widened. "Catastrophic failure? What -sort- of failure?"-
[19:35] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati smiled. "Don't worry. The chance of my containment field collapsing and leading to a small-scale antimatter explosion is only zero-point-five percent."-
[19:38] <Minaplo> ["That's great." Said Roku, looking only a little horrified. "Um, is it ok if I use the shower?"-
[19:39] <Minaplo> ["It's your shower too." Said Sarasvati. "I haven't used it because the water contains hundreds of sensor nanomachines designed to spy on us and then infiltrate the apartment."-
[19:40] <Minaplo> ["What…?" Roku took a step back, her jaw dropping. "That's disgusting!"-
[19:41] <Minaplo> ["I would not be surprised if every shower in the Synfront had the same capability. It's likely that you've already been subjected to it, so perhaps that will help you feel better about the nanomachine infestation."-
[19:43] <Minaplo> ["…" Roku's cheeks went red, her mind unstoppably casting itself back to romantic nights and evenings with Aksel… She turned around, a hand over her mouth. "Oh my god." She murmured, horrified. "I hate this place so much."-
[19:43] <Minaplo> ["Quite." Said Sarasvati. "Do you need my help?"-
[19:43] <Minaplo> ["Ugh… N-No, thank you. I-I think I'll just… Do something."-
[19:44] <Minaplo> ["Very well." Said Sarasvati. She reached out, grabbed the edge of the fridge door, and pulled it shut.-
[19:47] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[19:47] <Minaplo> [Roku left Sarasvati to her devices. Roku herself… She wasn't sure what to do. The heat made her so -weak-, even a little nauseous…-
[19:49] <Minaplo> [She needed to take her mind off it. She fired up the stove and oven- it might seem strange that adding extra heat would help, but the heat of the stove was dry, as opposed to the slimy, muggy humidity that Eve had apparently felt was appropriate to inflict on them. Roku began to slowly work through all of the products Sarasvati had evicted in her annexation of the fridge, cooking and converting them into a form more appropriate for long-term preservation, with the help of a dozen or so tupperware containers.-
0[20:12] <Minaplo> [Her resistance to the idea of having a shower had worn down as she worked, as the heat slowed her down, the ever-present sweat on her body irritated and disgusted her, and the lure of the cool water became too strong. She headed into the bathroom, shucked off her sweat-lined clothes, and headed into the shower. After hesitating for a couple of minutes, she turned the faucet- and was inundated with cold water.-
[20:26] <Minaplo> [The sudden shock of the gold caused Roku to gasp out. It was already hard to breathe, but almost instantly she felt the heat flowing out of her body beneath the icy cool water. She closed her eyes and, for a few minutes, enjoyed being something other than itchy, sweaty, muggy and hot.-
[20:46] <Minaplo> [But after a few minutes of this, the luxury of the cool water began to fade, and the realisation began to sink in. Tiny little machines, with cameras or sensors, crawling over her skin, sinking into her pores, crawling into her ears or mouth… Utter, utter vulnerability. A nakedness deeper than skin. The revulsion hit her all at once, and she began to gag.-
[20:46] <Minaplo> [She turned on her heel, reeling from the water now, trying to flee- only to slip on the wet floor and tumble out of the shower, crashing into the ground on her left side, almost cracking her head injury against the floor.-
[20:59] <Minaplo> [Her head rang, she found it hard to breathe, and although she tried, she couldn't seem to lift herself up off the floor. Roku lay there, feeble and weak, her breath coming out in short, sharp gasps.-
[21:01] <Minaplo> [Battered, broken. In a hellhole with no chance of escape. Unable to take a shower. Unable to walk very far unaided. Unable to leave, to just -go- somewhere. Her Aksel thousands of miles away- she envied him- and her sisters probably just as far. She envied them, too. Her hand clenched into a fist; she bit down on her tongue, choking back the angry, -furious- sobs.-
[21:02] <Minaplo> [Why me? She wondered. Out of all of us, why was I assigned to the Synfront? She began to slowly pull herself away from the shower as best she could, spreading her AT Field to pull herself along. Why couldn't I have been assigned to Boston, or Beijing, or Berlin?-
[21:16] <Minaplo> [Wretched fucking nightmare hole in the ground, nothing more than a giant prison. She hissed. I hate this place. I hate this place. I want to burn it all down!-
[21:26] <Minaplo> ["Roku? Do you need help?" Asked a voice through the door.-
[21:35] <Minaplo> [Roku couldn't answer. Not yet. Nearly on the verge of breakdown, all she could do was bash a hand against the floor three times.-
[21:49] <Minaplo> [The door opened, revealing Sarasvati- carelessly dripping water onto the carpet in the main room. Sarasvati swept in, gently lifted Roku off the ground, and took her out of the bathroom. Within five minutes, Roku was dried, dressed in one of Sarasvati's saris, and placed at the dinner table, where Sarasvati had cooked one of Roku's tupperwared meals.-
[22:01] <Minaplo> [And so they sat. Roku, staring down at her meal, her head throbbing in pain, dampening her otherwise sharp hunger, fighting the urge to cry out and scream and smash on the walls. And Sarasvati, opposite her, eating in even, measured movements, dripping water constantly.-
[22:04] <Minaplo> ["How are your injuries?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[22:05] <Minaplo> ["Painful." Said Roku shortly. "I think I made them worse."-
[22:06] <Minaplo> ["You did, but not by enough to set back your healing schedule. I estimate, and hope, that you should be well enough to walk unaided, and fight, within two days."-
[22:07] <Minaplo> ["Oh." Said Roku. "I see."-
0[22:18] <Minaplo> [The rest of the meal was silent after that. After finishing the food, Sarasvati headed back to her refigerator to work, and Roku went back to the bed. She stared at the roof for hours, full of anger and -misery- and -boredom- and having no way to relieve any of it.-
[22:20] <Minaplo> [She didn't even realise she'd fallen asleep until she suddenly found herself on her side, staring at the mattress.-
[22:29] <Minaplo> [Roku rolled over to face the living room now. Sarasvati, much to her surprise (since it was as hot as ever) wasn't in the refrigerator, but was standing in the middle of the room once again.-
[22:33] <Minaplo> ["Mmmgh."-
[22:35] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati turned her head towards Roku and smiled. "You've been asleep for 14 hours."-
[22:45] <Minaplo> ["… Didn't feel that long." Muttered Roku. "y'not in the fridge…?"-
[22:46] <Minaplo> ["Eve cut the power to the refrigerator." Said Sarasvati. "I tried the freezer instead, but she cut the power to that an hour after I tried."-
[22:48] <Minaplo> ["Oh." Said Roku quietly. She swung herself out of bed, slowly walked over to the kitchen bench… Where she saw a pile of empty tupperware containers- the same she used for her cooking- sitting by the sink, washed.-
[22:49] <Minaplo> ["The food." Roku turned to -stare- at Sarasvati. "She took the food?"-
[22:49] <Minaplo> ["No. I ate it." Said Sarasvati.-
[22:49] <Minaplo> ["You -ate all the food-?"-
[22:49] <Minaplo> ["Most of it. I left enough for you. Two days worth." Said Sarasvati.-
[22:49] <Minaplo> ["Why?!"-
[22:50] <Minaplo> ["I had to cut my reactor's output due to the heat." Said Sarasvati. "I tried to supplement my energy stores through food. It is inefficient. I think I made a miscalculation."-
[22:54] <Minaplo> ["You don't say." Said Roku. She grit her teeth.-
[22:55] <Minaplo> [If she were being honest with herself, then Roku had to admit she wasn't sure -why- this made her so upset, only that it did, and Sarasvati, unlike the source of literally every other woe Roku was suffering, wasn't safe and out of reach, unable to be affected.-
[22:58] <Minaplo> ["There's no reason to be upset." Said Sarasvati, cocking her head to one side. "As I said, I ensured that there's enough left for you. I wouldn't let you starve."-
[23:02] <Minaplo> ["Are you sure? You didn't miscalculate?" Asked Roku sarcastically.-
[23:02] <Minaplo> ["Don't be rude."-
[23:20] <Minaplo> ["'Don't be rude'. You ate all of -this- without asking. Nevermind that you cleaned the fridge out first to make room. You say you're trying to plan to get us out of here, but you don't tell me anything, ask me anything… You're constantly doing -everything-, and I'm just -here-, injured and slow and useless, with no strength, no ideas and no- decisions, or anything! You're- weird, most of the time you just stand there and say things in this calm, patient voice, then sometimes you're all touchy and you hug me and- and kiss me! I don't even know you! And you- you seem to know a lot more about me, and I'm getting so tired of that."-
[23:27] <Minaplo> ["I'm so sick of being in this heat, in this -room-, this entire PLACE!" Shouted Roku. "I want to feel -grass-, I want to see the fucking sky! I want to go where -I- want to go! I'm so sick of this place! I'm sick of it! I'm sick of being -in pain-, I'm sick of this fucking war, I'm sick of being a spy, I'm sick of NERV! I'm a person! I'm a human being, I should have the right to -not be in this fucking hole-."-
0[23:28] <Minaplo> ["I want to wear my own clothes again. I want to sleep in a bed that's -mine-, with the man I love, without having to constantly worry about whether it'll all be taken away from me at any given time. I want to be able to cook as much as I want, watch whatever movies I want, travel if I want. I want- I want to go home."-
[23:30] <Minaplo> ["I want to go home." She said again, holding her hands over her eyes, her shoulders trembling, the tears building.-
[23:31] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati watched all of this with a neutral expression. Near the end, she lowered her head, staring down at her hands- then up at Roku with a vague, confused expression. Cautiously she approached Roku, and reached out to pat Roku's shoulder.-
[23:31] <Minaplo> ["I want to go home, too." Said Sarasvati. "I'm sorry, Roku. I did not realise that I made you uncomfortable, or made you feel useless."-
[23:38] <Minaplo> [Roku muttered, waving a hand towards Sarasvati. "It's not really your fault."-
[23:38] <Minaplo> [There was a pause.-
[23:38] <Minaplo> ["Roku, I have an escape plan, but I need your help." Said Sarasvati eventually.-
[23:42] <Minaplo> [Roku slowly looked up at her, moving her hand away from her eye. She sniffled a little, wiping at it. "You… You do?"-
[23:43] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati brought Roku away from the kitchen, into the middle of the room. "You can still use your AT Field?"-
[23:43] <Minaplo> ["Yeah."-
[23:53] <Minaplo> ["After I ate the food, I put in a request on my tablet to request more." Said Sarasvati. "From previous experience, the food delivery is accompanied by a pair of Stormtroopers."-
[23:53] <Minaplo> ["Alright…"-
[00:13] <Minaplo> ["My father and I analysed Stormtrooper armour taken from some of the dead after the Children of Adam attack on the Geofront. There are weaknesses we can exploit." Said Sarasvati. "Here is my idea. When they arrive to deliver the food, you use your AT Field to launch these-" she offered a pair of sharpened metal stakes- scrap metal leftovers, in fact, 'sharpened' with the laser cutter- "Into a small module with a small green light near the base of the skull. This will kill them both instantly. More importantly, destroying the module will prevent the armour from dispatching a 'dead man's switch' signal back to Stormtrooper HQ. This gives us perhaps three or four precious minutes to put on the armour, then flee. I can use the wireless suite of the suit to tap into local electronic resources to help us escape. Optimally, we should disable another pair of Stormtroopers at some point and swap our suits with theirs, throwing off the scent."-
[00:20] <Minaplo> ["Meanwhile, I will attempt to access a number of systems. Firstly, the Synfront Interception Network. I intend to cause it to pick up a number of false signals that are intended to be mistaken as incoming Evangelions from NERV. This will draw our most dangerous enemies away from us. Secondly, the Synfront Surveillance systems. I intend to insert looped inputs into the systems shortly before we enter their range, causing them to ignore us. Thirdly, the Synfront Automated Defense systems. Activate them, set them to maximum aggression, and erase their Friendly Identification protocols. Our ultimate goal is to access the hangar bays, where we can steal some sort of aircraft."-
[00:20] <Minaplo> [Roku stared.-
[00:21] <Minaplo> ["I do not know what sort of aircraft." Admitted Sarasvati. "I am open to a broad category of vehicles."-
[00:21] <Minaplo> ["That's not what worries me." Said Roku. "This sounds… Really, really risky. Are you sure you can even do all of those things?"-
[00:21] <Minaplo> ["No."-
[00:22] <Minaplo> ["Great." Muttered Roku. "Also, won't the auto-turrets count us as targets, too?"-
[00:22] <Minaplo> ["Undoubtedly."-
0[00:23] <Minaplo> ["And you want to screw about with the surveillance, but what do we do about the surveillance that sees us -before- you screw with it?"-
[00:25] <Minaplo> ["Disable them." Offered Sarasvati. "I can handle that. I expect we will be detected eventually- the best we can do is delay that, keep moving, and sow chaos."-
[00:25] <Minaplo> [Roku sighed.-
[00:25] <Minaplo> ["When will the food delivery arrive?"-
[00:26] <Minaplo> ["Tomorrow at 10 AM." Said Sarasvati.-

[00:38] <Minaplo> [Roku fidgetted, her hands under the table, toying with the hem of her dress. The pair of sharpened stakes sat in front of her, small, narrow, and deadly.-
[00:41] <Minaplo> ["One minute to 10. Be ready." Said Sarasvati.-
[00:42] <Minaplo> ["Got it." Said Roku curtly. Sarasvati's constant time-checks had done nothing to soothe Roku's nerves.-
[00:42] <Minaplo> [Ultimately, 10 AM came, and went- it wasn't until 10:03 AM that the door chimed, Roku starting nervously. She got to her feet- her gait steadier and more confident than it had been since she arrived- and went to the door.-
[00:48] <Minaplo> [The door opened, revealing the two Stormtroopers- one was of average height, the other was unusually tall. "Sorry for the delay." Said the tall one in a strong, calm voice.-
[00:49] <Minaplo> [Roku went pale.-
[00:54] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati watched as the Stormtroopers carried in a box of fresh foodstuffs, placing them down by the table. Sarasvati watched as the tall one spoke to Roku, asking about her health. Sarasvati watched as the two troopers, in the perfect blind spot she'd set up…-
[00:54] <Minaplo> [… Went un-killed.-
[00:54] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati watched as the two Stormtroopers turned and left, the door closing behind them, the stakes unused.-
[00:55] <Minaplo> [There was silence. Roku's head was bowed.-
[00:55] <Minaplo> ["Roku." Said Sarasvati calmly. "Why did you not -do as we planned-?"-
[00:59] <Minaplo> ["I-I'm sorry." Said Roku, turning towards Sarasvati. Her eyes were downcast, her bottom lip trembling. "I was ready. I was. But- but the tall trooper, he was there when I was… W-Was beaten. He stopped Narendra from killing me. He took me to the hospital district. He visited me and kept me company, and- I couldn't, Sarasvati, I just couldn't.-
[01:00] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati stood up. She walked over to a nearby wall, stared at it critically for a moment, then surgically slammed a fist into it, leaving an alarmingly sizeable dent.-
[01:00] <Minaplo> [This does not work. Still furious.-
[01:00] <Minaplo> ["It was Eve. She must have anticipated that we might try to attack the Troopers. I hate her." Said Sarasvati calmly.-
[01:01] <Minaplo> ["What do we do now…?" Asked Roku.-
[01:01] <Minaplo> ["There is nothing we can do. We only have a day left. I am unsure if we can non-lethally subdue a Trooper without the Dead Man's Switch alerting Stormtrooper HQ as to the sudden change in status." Said Sarasvati. "We are simply out of time and options."-
[01:05] <Minaplo> [Roku slumped against the wall and slid down it until she was sitting. "S-Shit…"-
[01:05] <Minaplo> ["Shit." Agreed Sarasvati quietly.-

[01:07] <Minaplo> [The door opened at around 9 AM the next morning.-
[01:07] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati looked up from her tablet- now essentially useless- to see Eve standing in the doorway. "Go away."-
0[01:08] <Minaplo> ["You're even grumpier than usual." Said Eve, stepping over the threshold. She was smiling brightly. "Heat getting to you?"-
[01:08] <Minaplo> ["Go away."-
[01:12] <Minaplo> ["Not this time." Said Eve happily. "Pack your things, Sarasvati. We're moving you."-
[01:12] <Minaplo> ["Moving me? Where?"-
[01:26] <Minaplo> ["You know what? We're going to give you a choice." Said Eve. "You can choose from Khabarovsk Listening Post, Juneau Listening Post, Nuuk Listening Post, or Lapland Listening Post."-
[01:54] <Minaplo> ["You're taking me away from the Synfront. Why?"-
[01:55] <Minaplo> ["Obvious." Said Eve. "They won't think to look for you in the arse end of nowhere."-
[01:55] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati stared at Eve levelly for a moment. Was NERV trying to rescue them?-
[02:00] <Minaplo> [Was an operation happening soon…? Nevertheless, this gave Sarasvati an idea.-
[02:01] <Minaplo> ["Juneau." Said Sarasvati. "We will go to Juneau."-
[02:03] <Minaplo> ["'We'?" Eve stared at Sarasvati, seeming to- seeming- to not understand. "Oh, I get it. No no, Roku's staying here."-
[02:06] <Minaplo> ["Why?" Demanded Sarasvati.-
[02:07] <Minaplo> ["We have our reasons." Said Eve. "Make sure you're ready in four hours. Goodbye." She turned to leave.-
[02:10] <Minaplo> ["Wait!" Said Sarasvati, taking a step forward. "Roku has to come with me."-
[02:10] <Minaplo> ["Unfortunately impossible." Eve headed to the door, began to step over the threshold-
[02:15] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati looked over at Roku- lying on the bed, asleep- then back towards Eve. "You wanted to know my workings."-
[02:15] <Minaplo> [Eve paused.-
[02:18] <Minaplo> [She turned on her heel to look at Sarasvati. She didn't say anything, merely watched.-
[02:18] <Minaplo> ["I will let you perform a physical examination." Said Sarasvati. "And inform you as to some of my capabilities."-
[02:21] <Minaplo> [Eve didn't say anything.-
[02:22] <Minaplo> ["My power plant. My processing speeds. My memory system. My pseudobiological capabilities."-
[02:22] <Minaplo> ["Deal." Said Eve.-
[02:27] <Minaplo> [Eve stepped through the door, which closed behind her. Half an hour later she was back with an examination kit.-
[02:33] <Minaplo> [And so Sarasvati spoke. She explained to Eve about the miniature positron power plant embedded in her chest that provided her with her energy, and about the cooling systems designed to dump its intense heat generation out of her body; she told Eve about how the heat sinks were not entirely optimised, creating a flaw that made Sarasvati sensitive to external heat sources; she told Eve about her mental abilities, about how her sheer processing power eclipsed that of the MAGI, and how she had an extensive on-board memory capability that she could supplement through networked memory when at home.-
[02:34] <Minaplo> [She explained to Eve about the nanomachines that were propelled around her body in a fluid; the nanomachines that maintained her internal structure, broke down food and drink…-
[02:34] <Minaplo> [She explained calmly and honestly, each precious secret a little bit of her lost to secure Roku's safety.-
[02:38] <Minaplo> [And then came time for the physical examination. The first thing Eve did was take Sarasvati's arm- who did not resist- and run a hand along the inner side of it.-
[02:40] <Minaplo> ["Your skin, it's obviously artificial- it feels very soft, though. And a little warm." Eve pulled at the skin, pinching it, then letting it go- it quickly snapped back into place. "And the elasticity is very… human."-
[02:40] <Minaplo> ["Did it hurt when I pinched it?" Asked Eve.-
[02:42] <Minaplo> ["The sensation was negative, yes." Said Sarasvati. "It is ultimately biological in origin, created by the same principles behind barzilite."-
0[02:42] <Minaplo> ["So it's protective, too?" Asked Eve.-
[02:42] <Minaplo> ["Yes."-
[02:43] <Minaplo> [The entire examination was like this. Despite having been told stories of Sarasvati's incredible capabilities, Eve was ultimately fascinated by the things Sarasvati found to be relatively mundane.-
[02:43] <Minaplo> ["The sensations, the- nerves? How do they work?"-
[02:45] <Minaplo> ["Similar in theory to a human being's." Said Sarasvati. "Extremely small sensors built into my frame and flesh. Like humans, they are denser in areas associated with sensitive manipulation, such as my fingers."-
[02:45] <Minaplo> ["I don't suppose your father built you with erogenous zones?" Asked Eve with a smirk.-
[02:46] <Minaplo> [Sarasvati actually had to suppress the urge to tell her to go away. "No."-
[02:46] <Minaplo> ["Alright. Let's have a look at your hair."-
[02:46] <Minaplo> ["Why? What's so important about my hair?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[02:50] <Minaplo> [Eve ignored the question, instead running her hands through Sarasvati's hair, then grabbing one of the curls, straightening it out- and then watching it spring back into place. "How does it work?"-
[02:50] <Minaplo> ["A different kind of fiber." Said Sarasvati. "I can control its colour and its length, as well as its remembered shape."-
[02:50] <Minaplo> ["Why red curls?" Asked Eve.-
[02:51] <Minaplo> ["I found the look pleasing."-
[02:51] <Minaplo> [This throw-away line seemed to excite Eve even more. "That aesthetic sense again. So you chose your own hair, because you thought it looked good? Incredible."-
[02:52] <Minaplo> ["It is not incredible!" Said Sarasvati, her voice raising. "My mental abilities, my construction- that is incredible. Favouring one pattern of hair over another is not."-
[02:53] <Minaplo> ["Not amongst humans, no. But you're not human." Said Eve.-
[02:54] <Minaplo> ["Why do you find this so important? My father designed me to have aesthetic senses that would develop with time, no different than a human would." Said Sarasvati.-
[02:54] <Minaplo> ["Here's what I find fascinating, Sarasvati." Said Eve. "Your father? Surov? One of the coldest, most clinically pragmatic men to have lived, no doubt."-
[02:57] <Minaplo> ["Yet when I look at you, I see that despite all of your completely expected and amazing ability, he has gone to incredible lengths to ensure that his systems, his design for you, fell in line with a very human outlook. Soft skin." Eve grabbed Sarasvati's wrist. "Nanomachine tubes closer to the surface- I can feel a pulse." Eve grabbed Sarasvati's hair. "Hair that springs back into shape, feels real." She placed a finger on Sarasvati's throat. "The capacity to eat."-
[02:57] <Minaplo> ["Why on Earth would Barzilai Surov go to such lengths to make his super-android daughter feel so much like a real girl? Now that is the interesting question."-
[02:58] <Minaplo> ["So I would understand humans from their own perspective-"-
[02:58] <Minaplo> ["No no no. I'm sure that's a useful element, but since when has Surov given a toss about understanding others?" Said Eve, scoffing.-
[02:59] <Minaplo> ["You misunderstand him." Said Sarasvati defensively. "My father cares greatly about the ability to care about others."-
[03:00] <Minaplo> ["That's adorable." Said Eve. She grinned, then ruffled Sarasvati's hair. "All done."-
[03:00] <Minaplo> [If Sarasvati did not have a plan to enact, she would have struck Eve right then and there.-
[03:06] <Minaplo> [Eve got to her feet, packing away her examining kit. "It looks good, by the way. Very cute."-
0[03:06] <Minaplo> ["Go away."-
[03:06] <Minaplo> [Eve beamed. "Make sure you're ready in four hours."-

[15:16] <@Minaplo> [If Sarasvati's response to leaving the Synfront had been one of caution, than Roku's was one of unbridled enthusiasm.-
[15:18] <@Minaplo> ["We will be going to Alaska." Said Sarasvati as she watched Roku pace around the room, unable to sit down. "It will not be that great a change."-
[15:18] <@Minaplo> ["I hear Alaska's beautiful, though."-
[15:19] <@Minaplo> ["We will not -see- any of it. We will be prisoners in a remote listening post built into a mountain." Said Sarasvati.-
[15:26] <@Minaplo> ["Who cares? We'll be out of this hellhole." Said Roku. "No Eve, no Narendra, no Mary Caine. None of the fucking -miasma- of this place."-
[15:26] <@Minaplo> ["It will be cold. Very cold." Said Sarasvati.-
[15:26] <@Minaplo> ["Good! I'm done with the heat."-
[15:28] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati simply stared.-
[15:33] <@Minaplo> [When the time came to leave, they were escorted- again by the tall Trooper- through the halls of the Synfront. Instantly the temperature dropped, much to Roku's relief.-
[15:40] <@Minaplo> [They were taken to an aircraft hangar- like all hangars, huge and cavernous, although this one was clearly underground, the roof littered with a dozen access ports for cargo elevators.-
[15:41] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati and Roku were loaded into a special jet craft- one with a windowless compartment for prisoners.-
[15:42] <@Minaplo> [There was a single bench for sitting, and so they sat. Their cell door closed, they heard the cargo door seal, and…-
[15:42] <@Minaplo> [Taking off was a somewhat laborious process. 15 minutes to lift it up into the roof and then through a specially cleared access port in the Synfront's shell.-
[15:52] <@Minaplo> [And then, with a single muted roar of the engines, they were off.-
[15:52] <@Minaplo> ["We're out." Murmured Roku.-
[15:52] <@Minaplo> ["Yes." Said Sarasvati.-
[15:55] <@Minaplo> ["I'm gone. We're gone. The Synfront's -behind us-." A broad grin began to spread across Roku's face. "I'm gone, and I'm never going back."-
[16:03] <@Minaplo> ["Not even to destroy it?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[16:03] <@Minaplo> ["That's the exception."-
[16:06] <@Minaplo> ["We're heading northwest." Murmured Sarasvati. "Across the continental US, I estimate. Curious, but that works to our favour."-
[16:06] <@Minaplo> ["What do you mean?" Asked Roku.-
[16:06] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati shook her head.-
[16:12] <@Minaplo> [The hours passed. And passed. And passed. Slowly.-
[16:12] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati sat quietly the entire time, but Roku, already excited at her sudden 'freedom', was practically climbing the walls in irritation.-
[16:21] <@Minaplo> ["I hate being confined like this." Muttered Roku. "Do you know how long it is to Juneau?"-
[16:22] <@Minaplo> ["Another four hours."-
[16:22] <@Minaplo> ["Oh -God-."-
[16:26] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati stood. "Roku, how many people are on the craft besides us?"-
[16:26] <@Minaplo> [Roku closed her eyes, focusing for a second.-
[16:27] <@Minaplo> ["Five." Said Roku. "Two pilots, I think…? The rest must be troopers or something-"-
[16:36] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati got to her feet and, in one smooth motion, leapt across the cell and drove her leg square into the door. Roku watched as the metal warped at the hinges, the join buckling and twisting, the impact point buckling outwards… Before the door was torn from its frame, smashing against the opposite wall.-
[16:38] <@Minaplo> [There were shouts of alarm to Sarasvati's left- the direction of the cockpit. She turned-
[16:47] <@Minaplo> [A pair of Stormtroopers, armed with pulse carbines, took aim and fired, a slew of pulse bolts lighting up the hallway. Several of the painful blue shots struck Sarasvati along the arm and body, burning away at her flesh and revealing the surovite shell beneath.-
[16:48] <@Minaplo> [It didn't stop her. She leapt down the hallway, grabbed the nearest Trooper by the head and smashed him as hard as she could against the wall, enough to leave a dent in its surface. He slumped, letting out a short gurgle of pain.-
[16:49] <@Minaplo> [The other trooper dropped his gun and tugged a short surovite sword out of the chestplate of his armour. He lunged-
[16:49] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati caught the blade-
[16:50] <@Minaplo> [And kicked him hard in the chest, enough to send him staggering into the opposite wall. Without his sword, of course.-
[16:55] <@Minaplo> [The other Trooper had recovered (barely) by this point- he grabbed his carbine, pointed it at Sarasvati-
[17:04] <@Minaplo> [She levelled her right hand towards his chest. Her fingertips crackled with an erratic orange light for a split second, before converging in the centre of her palm. Three pulses of concussive force burst outwards, striking his chest. The first cracked his armour plate; the second shattered it, striking him in the chest; the third tore through it entirely, a splatter of blood exploding against the wall.-
[17:10] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati turned as the second Trooper got back to his feet. He charged-
[17:10] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati reversed the sword, lifted it to her shoulder, and struck.-
[17:11] <@Minaplo> [He was impaled through the throat all the way to the hilt.-
[19:47] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati pulled the sword free, a lash of blood making the sword's path. He gurgled and fell.-
[19:50] <@Minaplo> [There was a moment of silence as Roku followed Sarasvati out, her eyes widening slightly at the gore. "Wow. You don't hold back." Muttered Roku as she picked up one of the carbines.-
[19:51] <@Minaplo> ["I thought you said there were three troopers?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[19:51] <@Minaplo> ["There we-"-
[19:52] <@Minaplo> [The air to Sarasvati's left shimmered suddenly. Before the haze cleared, a flashing, shining blade lashed out, catching Sarasvati three times along the arm and shoulder. Sarasvati reeled back- greenish fluid spurted from her wounds- and raised her sword to block another attack.-
[19:53] <@Minaplo> [The image resolved for a moment- the robes and helmet of an Adept- before the target moved, making it extremely hard to pick out.-
[19:53] <@Minaplo> ["Roku-"-
[19:53] <@Minaplo> ["Can't. Neutralised." Said Roku, raising her carbine.-
[19:54] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati was still, her left arm hanging uselessly at her side. She showed no pained expression, but the damage was obvious.-
[19:55] <@Minaplo> ["Be ready, Roku." Said Sarasvati. "The obvious thing would be to attack from my right."-
[19:55] <@Minaplo> [A second passed, then-
[19:56] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati reacted with alarming speed, swinging her sword out to parry an attack, not from the right- but from the left again.-
[19:56] <@Minaplo> [The two blades clashed for a moment before the Adept pulled away, vanishing once again.-
[19:58] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati shook her left arm- it twitched a little, mostly accomplishing nothing but ensuring that more green fluid poured onto the floor. She began to circle around…-
[19:58] <@Minaplo> [Roku saw it before Sarasvati did. "Sara! Behind you!"-
[20:00] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati wheeled on the ball of her heel, swinging on the attack this time instead of trying to evade. The Adept's sword cut into Sarasvati's collarbone before being torn away- not deep enough to cause real damage. Trickles of green fluid began to seep onto Sarasvati's chest from the wound.-
[20:01] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati began to circle again. It won't attack Roku. The instant it does, it leaves itself open to me.-
[20:02] <@Minaplo> [The next attack came from the front, a thrust aimed for Sarasvati's eye. She ducked it, barely- she felt the sword cut through some of her curls- and lashed out with her left leg, catching the Adept -somewhere-. It stumbled, before its image faded once again.-
[20:03] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati circled around- until she stood where she had when the Adept had savaged her arm. She suddenly lunged forward into an empty space- and caught nothing.-
[20:03] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati went still. She waited for the next attack.-
[20:04] <@Minaplo> [All of a sudden Sarasvati turned, sharply, her left arm flailing out, jets of green fluid firing into the air from her injuries. One of the jets hit an object in mid-air.-
[20:04] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati -lunged-. She threw her sword- it struck- and then, right hand out flat, fingertips glowing. Another three shots from her concussive blaster.-
[20:05] <@Minaplo> [Crack! Crack! The first shot missed- the second, square in the chest, and the third, directly between the eyes, crushing the helmet into the Adept's face, shards of bone and glass driven into the brain.-
[20:06] <@Minaplo> [It staggered backwards and collapsed, its sword glowing bright yellow for a second before dissolving into ash.-
[20:08] <@Minaplo> [Roku let out a long, low breath. "Lucky." She muttered.-
[20:09] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati glanced back at her- then pointed at the rough circle of green fluid she'd made on the floor as she'd paced around. The fluid was disturbed in one area- the area where the Adept had just been.-
[20:09] <@Minaplo> ["Oh."-
[20:10] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati turned towards the end of the room- an armoured door. The door to the cockpit.-
[20:10] <@Minaplo> [-
[20:16] <@Minaplo> [Andile sipped his coffee.-
[20:17] <@Minaplo> ["Quiet day." He said, peering over the rim at his cup out through the front window. The US Mid-west unfurled some 50,000 feet below, a long, endless, mostly flat plain.-
[20:18] <@Minaplo> [Makena, his co-pilot, leaned back in his chair and sighed. "Skies seem clear."-
[20:27] <@Minaplo> ["Lucky." Said Andile. "Thought the Americans would be more awake."-
[20:31] <@Minaplo> [Makena shrugged. "Command specced this route as opposed to the Pacific. Must've anticipated lax USAF."-
[20:31] <@Minaplo> ["Guess so." Andile took another mouthful.-
[20:31] <@Minaplo> ["Good coffee." He said.-
[20:32] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah." Said Makena.-
[20:33] <@Minaplo> ["Wife called from Brazil this morning." Said Andile.-
[20:34] <@Minaplo> ["She good?" Asked Makena.-
[20:34] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah. Kids are good too." Said Andile.-
[20:34] <@Minaplo> ["Good." Said Makena.-
[20:34] <@Minaplo> [Andile took another mouthful.-
[20:34] <@Minaplo> ["Damn good coffee."-
[20:34] <@Minaplo> [Conversations become inane on long flights.-
[20:37] <@Minaplo> [Yet inanity was preferable to the loud, plane-shaking -clang- that occurred after Andile's next mouthful.-
[20:37] <@Minaplo> ["What the hell-?" Makena turned in his seat, staring behind them.-
[20:37] <@Minaplo> ["I spilled my drink!" Whined Andile, trying to wipe the hot coffee off of his shirt and crotch.-
[20:43] <@Minaplo> ["What was that…?" Asked Makena, wiping at his sweating forehead. "A bomb?"-
[20:43] <@Minaplo> ["A bomb?" Andile paused in his frantic coffee-wiping to stare at Makena in horror.-
[20:46] <@Minaplo> [The sound of gunfire.-
[20:46] <@Minaplo> [Dying screams.-
[20:46] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, it's the prisoner." Said Makena.-
[20:46] <@Minaplo> ["…"-
[20:46] <@Minaplo> ["We could radio HQ." Said Andile.-
[20:47] <@Minaplo> ["We could." Said Makena. He was turning around, his hand reaching towards the comms.-
[20:47] <@Minaplo> [The sound of something crunching painfully.-
[20:47] <@Minaplo> [Makena's hand overshot the comms, instead opening a compartment where he kept an eclectic assortment of items. He grabbed a roll of duct tape out.-
[20:48] <@Minaplo> ["Oh no." Said Andile.-
[20:48] <@Minaplo> ["I told you I had a plan in case she broke out." Said Makena.-
[20:48] <@Minaplo> ["Oh no."-
[20:48] <@Minaplo> [Makena was already pulling the duct tape loose, wrapping it around his feet. "Can you tie my hands?"-
[20:49] <@Minaplo> [A minute later, when Sarasvati burst through the door, she'd find the controls unmanned, the two pilots sitting in the corner, their hands and feet bound by duct tape, one of them trying awkwardly to shake the roll off of his wrists.-
[20:49] <@Minaplo> ["We surrender." Said one.-
[20:49] <@Minaplo> ["You live." Said Sarasvati.-
[20:50] <@Minaplo> [The two of them let out relieved gasps.-
[20:50] <@Minaplo> [Roku entered after her, turning to stare at the pilots. "… Wow."-
[20:50] <@Minaplo> ["Fighting superhumans is above our paygrade." Said one.-
[20:51] <@Minaplo> ["I was a school teacher, you know." Said the other. "Now I just fly the planes."-
[20:52] <@Minaplo> ["If they find that you have surrendered, will they have you executed?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[20:52] <@Minaplo> ["Only if it looks like we surrendered without a fight." Said one.-
[20:52] <@Minaplo> ["I see." Sarasvati turned towards the controls. "Disabling surveillance systems. Roku, please begin beating them."-
[20:52] <@Minaplo> ["What?!"-
[20:53] <@Minaplo> ["Do as she says." Said the pilot. "You're doing us a favour."-
[20:55] <@Minaplo> [And so Sarasvati worked. "Accessing the long range communications. Need to send an encoded message, will erase after."-
[20:55] <@Minaplo> [Crack! Whack! "Ugh!" "Auggh!"-
[20:56] <@Minaplo> ["Maintaining the craft's flight pattern to Juneau Listening Post. With the logs erased, they won't be sure when the escape happened." She paused. "May have to take the dead bodies with us."-
[20:57] <@Minaplo> [Crunch! Smash! "Gggggaaaaa-" "Holy shit, his nose!"-
[20:57] <@Minaplo> ["Roku, can you lift the bodies -and- us with your AT Field?"-
[20:57] <@Minaplo> [Roku paused, gingerly wiping a bit of noseblood off of her foot. "That sounds like a lot to carry."-
[20:57] <@Minaplo> ["Understood. Pilots, where do you keep the parachutes?"-
[20:58] <@Minaplo> ["Supply closet, back of the plane." Said the co-pilot.-
[20:58] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati nodded, turning to look at them. "Thank you for your co-operation. One more round should suffice, Roku."-
[20:59] <@Minaplo> [Thwack! Creck!-
[20:59] <@Minaplo> [-
[20:59] <@Minaplo> ["On three." Said Sarasvati, her voice loud over the roar of the air.-
[20:59] <@Minaplo> [Roku nodded.-
[20:59] <@Minaplo> ["One, two, three!"-
[21:00] <@Minaplo> [With a heave, they pushed the three corpses- all in parachute harnesses- down the cargo ramp. Within a second they were all in free fall.-
[21:00] <@Minaplo> [Roku reached over, grabbed Sarasvati with both arms- and the two of them -leapt-.
[21:02] <@Minaplo> [The United States spread out beneath them. An endless land stretching in every direction. Far, far away for now, but not for long.-
[21:03] <@Minaplo> [The wind blew through their hair, tugged at their clothes. Roku was grinning- and within a few seconds she was -screaming-, whooping in pure delight.-
[21:04] <@Minaplo> ["Freeeeee!" She screamed as loud as she could. "Freeeeeeeee!"-
[21:05] <@Minaplo> [At a pre-determined moment in their fall, Roku reached out to the tumbling corpses below them, her AT Field reaching out. The parachute cords were pulled; huge white billowy canvases exploded out of the packs, pulling the corpses sharply upwards. Roku and Sarasvati quickly overtook them.-
[21:06] <@Minaplo> [After that, Roku focused her own Field, slowing their descent, slowing- then halting it, reversing it, pirouetting in midair, revelling in -flight-.-
[21:06] <@Minaplo> ["Woooooo!" Cried Roku as they climbed, Sarasvati clinging to her helplessly.-
[21:06] <@Minaplo> ["Less reckless speed, if you please!" Said Sarasvati loudly.-
[21:06] <@Minaplo> ["Never!" Shouted Roku gleefully, looking up-
[21:06] <@Minaplo> [They stopped so suddenly that Sarasvati was nearly torn from her arms.-
[21:07] <@Minaplo> ["What-" Began Sarasvati.-
[21:07] <@Minaplo> ["The -moon-." Whispered Roku. "Look at it."-
[21:08] <@Minaplo> [And so Sarasvati did.-
[21:10] <@Minaplo> [The silver moon hung in the evening sky, a glowing disc… Except it wasn't so silver anymore. A large portion of it was covered in a gleaming, pulsating red dome, like an angry scarlet boil.-
[21:11] <@Minaplo> ["What -is- that?" Murmured Roku in horror.-
[21:11] <@Minaplo> ["I don't know." Said Sarasvati quietly.-
[21:12] <@Minaplo> [They stared at it for a few long moments…-
[21:12] <@Minaplo> [… And then, quite suddenly, they fell.-
[21:12] <@Minaplo> ["Why are we falling?" Asked Sarasvati.-
[21:12] <@Minaplo> ["I-I-…" Roku shook her head. "Neutralised!"-
[21:12] <@Minaplo> ["What? How?"-
[21:12] <@Minaplo> [The Adept hurtled past them, shorn of its parachute.-
[21:13] <@Minaplo> [The neutralisation let up for a second as the Adept righted itself, about 20 metres away. The robed armour on its chest had reformed, and the helmet was unmarked.-
[21:14] <@Minaplo> ["Didn't you kill him?" Asked Roku.-
[21:14] <@Minaplo> ["I thought so. Apparently these ones regenerate." Said Sarasvati.-
[21:15] <@Minaplo> [They stared at each other for a few seconds.-
[21:15] <@Minaplo> [Then they acted at the same time. Sarasvati threw out her right hand, firing concussion blasts, a second too slow as the Adept hurtled out of the way, its image vanishing into nothing.-
[21:16] <@Minaplo> ["Any ideas?" Asked Roku.-
[21:18] <@Minaplo> ["The armour is cloaking my errant fluid." Said Sarasvati. "Interesting."-
[21:18] <@Minaplo> ["That wasn't an idea!"-
[21:18] <@Minaplo> ["I know." Said Sarasvati. "To be honest, our options at the present are rather limited."-
[21:21] <@Minaplo> [A split second of howling wind-
[21:22] <@Minaplo> [Then something very fast and solid smashed into them both, knocking them apart.-
[21:22] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati fell, angling her hand upwards-
[21:23] <@Minaplo> [But the Adept had Roku, was clinging to her, struggling with her in mid-air. They traded blows, the Adept seeming to gain the upper hand. A solid punch to Roku's head injury- she let out a groan of pain. Another, and another.-
[21:24] <@Minaplo> [The Adept's combat tactics seemed mostly to be based on finding Roku's pre-existing injuries and attacking them as viciously as possible. Unfortunately it was working.-
[21:25] <@Minaplo> [Roku's blows were growing more feeble, her struggling weakening. A strike to her kidneys caused her to groan, and Sarasvati could see the small gob of blood burst out of her mouth.-
[21:25] <@Minaplo> [Sarasvati aimed.-
[21:25] <@Minaplo> [She fired.-
[21:26] <@Minaplo> [The Adept spun in mid-air, Roku taken unwillingly for the ride, but even with that, a single blow struck home, catching the Adept in the shoulder. The blow tore the Adept off of Roku, sending it flying away-
[21:28] <@Minaplo> [The Adept caught its balance, wheeling about to strike Roku again.-
[21:29] <@Minaplo> [It never had the chance. Before Sarasvati could fire, a reddish shape, moving at speeds rendering it a little more than a blur, appeared out of -nowhere-, striking the Adept square in the middle of the chest.-
[21:30] <@Minaplo> [The shape struggled for a moment- then, with a single intense -pull-, tore the Adept apart, straight down the middle.-
[21:31] <@Minaplo> [Roku, dazed, shook her head- nearly slipped into unconsciousness. Then she stirred again, managed to regain control of her Field, and wheeled herself upright, before heading down to catch Sarasvati.-
[21:31] <@Minaplo> [It was then that they turned to look at their benefactor.-
[21:32] <@Minaplo> [A heavily armoured figure, clad in thickly-plated red armour with a fearsome, ornate helmet and a red-black mantle wrapped around its body, billowing impressively in the wind. Its fists were enveloped in a pale blue field of shimmering energy.-
[21:32] <@Minaplo> [The shape slowly lowered towards them until it was about level.-
[21:32] <@Minaplo> ["Vercingetorix." Said Sarasvati. "I was afraid you did not receive my message."-
[21:33] <@Minaplo> ["I nearly didn't." Said Vercingetorix. He turned to look at Roku. "… Roku?"-
[21:33] <@Minaplo> ["Uhh." Roku said.-
[21:34] <@Minaplo> ["Don't be afraid." Said Vercingetorix, reaching forward to grab her hand- the power field deactivating a second before he touched her. "It's me, Shinji!"-
[21:34] <@Minaplo> ["Shinji?" Said Roku and Sarasvati at the same time.-
[21:35] <@Minaplo> ["It's you- it's the real you, isn't it, Roku?" He said, his enthusiasm evident in his voice despite the epic distortion of the helmet. "Wow- this is incredible! Now of all times, you escape…"-
[21:36] <@Minaplo> ["I, uh…" Roku mumbled.-
[21:36] <@Minaplo> ["This is very unorthodox." Said Sarasvati.-
[21:37] <@Minaplo> ["No kidding!" Vercingetorix suddenly leapt forward- Roku squeaked- and embraced them both. "Roku! Everyone was so worried- wait until they get back and see that the real you escaped!"-
[21:37] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, and your dad'll be happy to see you again, Sarasvati." Said Vercingetorix.-
[21:37] <@Minaplo> ["You recognise me, despite-?"-
[21:37] <@Minaplo> ["My dad kept your face in his contacts list."-
[21:38] <@Minaplo> ["'Dad'?" Roku started. "What the hell-"-
[21:38] <@Minaplo> ["We have many questions." Said Sarasvati. "But the airspace over Wyoming is not the time or place. Can you take us to the Battleship, Vercingetorix?"-
[21:39] <@Minaplo> ["I can't." Said Vercingetorix. "It's on the Moon."-
[21:39] <@Minaplo> ["The Moon? Why? What's-" Started Roku.-
[21:39] <@Minaplo> ["Very well." Cut in Sarasvati. "We will settle for Asgard."-
[21:39] <@Minaplo> ["I'd be taking you there anyway." Said Vercingetorix.-
[21:39] <@Minaplo> ["Wait-" Started Roku.-
[21:40] <@Minaplo> ["You guys ready?" Said Vercingetorix. "No need to waste time… On three."-
[21:40] <@Minaplo> ["Hold on-"-
[21:40] <@Minaplo> ["Three!"-
[21:40] <@Minaplo> [And with a -shunk- as the air suddenly filled the void- the three of them vanished.]

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