For The Questioning Of Humanity

[00:09] <Yanmei> [October 18th, 2015]-
[00:15] <Yanmei> Today was a cloudy, ominous day. The air hung heavy with a sort of silent vibration, the precursor to audible thunder. The magnificent fortress that was the Louvre Museum had emerged from beneath its construction tarps a while ago, and stood proudly, restored -
[00:19] <Yanmei> There were few tourists lingering outside of the building today, perhaps frightened off by the threat of rain, or frightened from the city itself for more disturbing reasons. Whatever the case, a young lady in a yellow scarf, short plaid skirt, and stylish boots wasn't exactly getting her fill of people-watching as she observed the building and its visitors from a nearby bench.
[00:29] <Aline> On quite the other hand, there was a girl walking out of the building who didn't seem to be feeling that same sense of dread. While her hair was the most obvious sign of who she was, she at least could also be distinguished from those around her by the dark-blue dress she wore, and the purple-with-gold-trim capelet(!) she wore on top of it. She hadn't yet noticed the other girl, though…
[00:35] <Yanmei> But the other girl had noticed her. And was hesitating at this unexpected development. Finally, she lifted a hand in the air, and waved, trying to attract her attention.
[00:38] * Aline could see the hand, and… quickly knew whose it was. But she had to try, right? …So she walked closer, until finally she made it over to where the other was waiting. "Oh, huh, you're at the Louvre too?"
[00:44] <Yanmei> "Yeah. I'm on break or something… just for a little while." Zhang Yanmei crossed her ankles under the bench and leaned back a little. "I guess sometimes a person's got to get out a little?"
[00:45] * Aline decided to sit down on a nearby - that is to say adjacent - bench. "Way you say it, it makes it sound like you think you're not supposed to have a break."
[00:48] <Yanmei> "It's not that." Was it? Why did she feel guilty about this one, then? Yanmei sighed. "What about you, Blanc? It looks like you're having a good time."
[00:53] * Aline leaned back against the back of the bench, and sighed a little. "Sorta. I've already /seen/ the normal exhibits, like… 5 times by now. I used to live here, and unlike Sera it wasn't time spent jumping from roof to roof. So…" She then shrugged helplessly. "I needed something to keep my thoughts focused, I guess."
[00:57] * Yanmei nodded, perhaps to herself, a little sympathy simmering her eyes. For a time, she just studied the sparse crowd milling before them. "I'm sorry about what happened," she said at last.
[00:58] * Aline just… sat. "You didn't have anything to do with it happening, so you're not the one I want an apology from." But then Aline turned and smiled… very weakly. "Thanks for the sympathy, though."
[01:02] <Yanmei> "I can't help but feel sympathetic. It's the worst kind of unfair for someone to have that forced on him. In any case, give Shinji my regards, won't you? I don't know him very well, but…"
[01:06] * Aline nodded slowly, partially looking out into… the sky. "Yeah. I'll do that. From here, I just want to make sure it's as easy for him as possible. That isn't much, but at least he has someone who's been there. As I think I said, I've already been through different forms of what he's been through, even before this…" She sighed, no longer looking off into nowhere. "I guess Isaiah
[01:06] * Aline isn't like that. Someone you don't just protect from harm, but who… needs that much help just to be 'normal'."
[01:10] <Yanmei> "'Normal'? How would you define that, exactly?" she said wryly. She thought to the boy's jerkface father, and his own talents, and his painful shyness.
[01:11] * SyntaxTerror has joined #NERVFrance
[01:13] * Aline waved a hand. "Oh, I'm not defining it /that/ harshly, just… Not terrified of being close to anyone at all, being a little confident in himself, that sort of thing. Isaiah was shy when I first remember seeing him, but he bounded back from that /quickly/."
[01:16] <Yanmei> "He… got better when he started making friends," Yanmei admitted. "I think the issue was that he wanted them very badly, but didn't know how to do it. Plus with all the bullying…" She frowned a little to herself. "He's a little like Natasha. But Shinji was scared of getting close, huh?"
[01:20] <Aline> "Yeah. Literally and figuratively. He's much…" Aline blushed. "…Much better about that now. But with Rei dying and being chosen as a pilot… Now the self-confidence is a problem." She frowned and furrowed her brows a little. "He thought he was selfish for feeling bad and wanting someone to help make him feel better, right after she died. It's… I don't mean this mean-like, but that
[01:20] <Aline> doesn't actually make sense. I did try to help convince him he was worth the attention and that he couldn't just be alone like that. It's just…" Aline gripped air, as if reaching for some unseen object, before clenching the hand. "…Things I have trouble understanding the reason for."
[01:26] * Lappy‘Happy has joined #NERVFrance
[01:26] <Yanmei> "That doesn’t sound too out there, though? Confidence issues or not."
[01:29] * Aline sighed. "I know. That's kinda why it bothers me that I feel that way. It's… like… blaming himself and feeling bad makes sense." Her face looked pretty… melancholic? "But to think that he's so bad as to not even deserve comfort… he couldn't have done anything to prevent it. He's still her brother and the son of her mother so he deserves as much if not more attention… That
[01:29] * Aline he let it go that far, feels so strange to me. And that it feels strange, when… yeah, when you're right about it not being that bad… That bothers me too."
[01:34] <Yanmei> "Are you beginning to suspect that you're not normal either, then?" There was a hint of a smile there.
[01:38] * Aline tried to smile, but it came only halfway - because it was trying to curl into a sort of deathly-serious expression. Specifically, the kind that accompanies 'oh god' or similar exclamations. "Suspect? Yan-yan, I /know/ I'm not."
[01:45] <Yanmei> "No kidding." Yanmei, on the contrary was outright chuckling now, especially at seeing the intrusion of that -seriousness- on her face, but she stopped soon afterward. "Well, whatever. I don't know why you're so bothered by it? So you're a little more out of touch about those sort of things. It never seemed to bother you that much before?"
[01:47] * Aline …softened her expression a little. "Er… I don't know. I guess because it's gotten worse. And I have even more trouble understanding you, or understanding Sera, than before." Aline looked at the ground. "Gah… Sera, he's… a piece of work."
[01:50] <Yanmei> "I guess. He has a knack for getting himself in trouble, anyway. And… spacing out."
[01:53] <Aline> "And the… weirdest things. Something about… uh… I don't even know. He's obsessed with keeping memories alive by… what, living them? Not abandoning the things they belong to? I can't make heads or tails of it but it sounds so far unhinged that it makes me feel /damn/ sane." Aline tried her best to make a goofy smile. "This after I stared at you like that and said I knew I wasn't
[01:53] <Aline> normal, so… just… wow."
[01:59] <Yanmei> "If it's any consolation, I've no clue how his mind works either," she snickered. "But then, it's like… I guess sometimes when I try to talk to him, it's like there's an invisible wall between us. It's something I haven't really thought about tearing down, though? I don't even know if it's possible."
[02:02] * Aline held a sort of neutral expression, letting her mouth hang open the tiniest bit. "…I was dumb enough to just try on reflex - you know, explaining logically what was wrong with one claim or another. I… had to put him together piece by piece. Just perfectly fine after that like nothing happened, but… It's weird." She kicked a foot back and forth. "Sorry, probably better not to
[02:02] * Aline gossip about him too much. I just had a conversation with him a few days ago that was surreal like what I've been saying. Do you have any interesting things to say?"
[02:08] <Yanmei> "Interesting? Things in general?" Yanmei shrugged. "Same old, same old. Isaiah's the same, Marianne's getting better… There's stuff I'm working on, and the time has arrived to switch from research to action. That'll be fun." A sort of grim humor.-
[02:10] <Yanmei> "What else? Ah… in the realm of stuff you're probably interested in, NERV was likely resposible for the Thruster Solace incident."
[02:16] * Aline tilted her head a little, but then nodded. "Ah. That makes sense, though it's a bit of a messy and unethical way to do it." She… though, shrugged. "I'll admit, it doesn't really feel as important to me. I've sort of… How to put…" Aline put a finger up to her lip, and pause for a good while in thought. "Been… well, my research has been more Angelic in nature. Some skullduggery
[02:16] * Aline about a robot, even if it was dangerous and a big issue, feels… little in comparison." The sudden 'dip' in her tone was easy to tell, though - something she felt actually bothered about. Or unsure. Something like that. "Though I've been worrying about Shinji too… that research has been… Mmm, closer to my heart."
[02:22] <Yanmei> "So you don't feel worried about working for an organization that would endanger hundreds of thousands for resources, so long as they provide you with lots of nice data on Angels, hm?" Yanmei was outright amused, now. Something to cover the creepy feeling that came over her at that last line.
[02:27] * Aline frowned… deeply. "I shouldn't have said that, then. It's… like… I feel bad about it. I feel pretty disgusted at the fact that it was just a ploy, yet…" She shook her head. "The thing that makes it feel lesser to me is not that somehow getting 'nice data' makes it not matter. It's that… I'm worried about things that endanger billions - and I know on a level that isn't just
[02:27] * Aline 'Because NERV told me so' - and that put into question not my allegiances and what I'm doing, but… who I am and what I'm supposed to /be/."
[02:33] <Yanmei> "What you're supposed to be? Who you are? Is your identity that wrapped up around piloting?" She seemed… vaguely troubled. Something wasn't matching up here.
[02:37] * Aline shook her head… then looked around. Thankfully, the population had /really/ thinned out. While it wasn't raining, the clouds had grown even more oppressive, and by now they were almost the only people in this particular courtyard. "It's… Hm. I think… this is going to sound very weird, so I'm going to try to lead up to it. Did you ever listen to the recordings of the last Angel
[02:37] * Aline battle? After you had dropped?… specifically, did you hear what I said right before I killed…" Aline stopped to take a breath. "Before I killed him? The Angel, that is."
[02:41] <Yanmei> "I saw the footage, anyway. Accompanied by a 'here's where you screwed up again' internal pep talk. What was I supposed to be keeping an ear out for?"
[02:43] <Aline> "I made a speech. It was… well, I bet it may have sounded odd if you were worried about it instead of what we might've done right or wrong. I said things like…" Aline closed her eyes, her tone having that certain distance of reciting from memory. "That he knew not what he did. That I forgave him. That even in spite of that, he had to die. And that I apologized to him. Now…" Aline
[02:43] <Aline> opened her eyes suddenly. "Why do you think I would've said that? If you don't want to say anything, I'll just go on."
[02:48] <Yanmei> "If I had to guess? It was because you were making fun of it." Yanmei shrugged. "There's nothing more infurating than hearing something like that from the mouth of an opponent."
[02:49] <Yanmei> "Providing that the Angel could understand our language, anyway. Well, it certainly did seem worked up…"
[02:52] * Aline smiled. It had equal measures of wistfulness and pain. "The Angels can't hear our radio transmissions, so far. They communicate in other ways. I know this. I know this because he /had/ 'spoken' to me. He was angry. Upset. Screaming for his mother, demanding to know where she was… But with the sorrow of a lost child. And I knew that that could not happen, because… I was right
[02:52] * Aline earlier. It /is/ a war between our races, and the loser is…" Aline sighed very deeply. "…Erased completely. That's not all of it, but… given that? I meant what I said honestly."
[03:03] * Yanmei sighed. "You'll forgive me, but it still sounds a little insulting even if it wasn't meant to be." It was a distracted criticism, though. Something about the idea of Angels communicating with people was a little unsettling. All too clearly, she recalled the sensation of synching with Unit-04.
[03:15] <Aline> "Oh, yeah, I don't doubt. It probably sounded as insulting as it did because of a sort of… maybe crude pity." Aline started to drum her fingers together. "Apparently, we met again. The original 'discussion' left… a part of him in me. More of that magic psychic stuff, because I don't quite know myself. He was… far more coherent. Curious. Sad. Didn't understand a lot of things about
[03:15] <Aline> emotions and the like, and in a dream/hallucination uh… thing, we actually metaphorically went over that. But that's… well, not that important to this. We spoke, and the last of him… left me. I guess to truly die? I don't know…" Aline frowned even more. "Thinking about that, and then his desire to find his mother… back when he still had his body that is… Well, it made me aware
[03:15] <Aline> that he felt this… /invitation/, like a compulsion yet gentler somehow." Her expression then became amazingly worried. She wasn't crying but her eyes started to waver like she might. "The thing that makes me so worried is that… Some time before that, I felt the same thing. I mean /literally/ the same, right down to what I was being compelled to."
[03:20] <Yanmei> "What do you mean 'the same'?" Yanmei uncrossed her ankles, and then crossed them again, the other foot on top now. "I don't really get it? But maybe that similarity was why it reached out to you in the first place. If you see someone who feels the same way you do about something, doesn't it make it easier to form a connection?"
[03:25] * Aline nodded, very shakily. Also sitting sideways to look more closely at Yanmei. "I mean like… to…" She stopped cold at that. "To want… to… join with the mother of the Angels. To… to start what we call Third Impact. It felt /exactly/ the same. I could feel his emotions, and it was the same damn thing. Verbatim, similar in emotion and intent. It was… a… a siren call. I don't
[03:25] * Aline think you or Sera have felt it. I don't think you're supposed to." Gulp. Aline swallowed air, and clutched the seat of the bench with one hand. "Humans aren't supposed to."
[03:28] * Yanmei stared, disbelieving, connecting the dots all too quickly. "Just… just what in the hell are you saying?"
[03:34] * Aline stared back, looking terrified, mouth gaping wide until she finally spoke again. "I wish I knew. It's just… I heard the Angels' call. It's not that one of them shared the feeling - I heard it /on my own/. Between that, and how /intense/ all of that… weird psychic stuff is, I really don't know what I am anymore. I guess I'm still somewhat human? It's just… there's enough to
[03:34] * Aline put that into doubt."
[03:40] <Yanmei> How was she supposed to take this? How was -anyone- supposed to take this? Yanmei frowned at nothing for a while, fingertips working against the edge of her own bench. "EVAs are part Angel, aren't they? Couldn't it have come from that? Some…compulsion while you were piloting? Or did the urge happen outside of the entry plug?"
[03:42] * Aline pouted - not cutely, but out of flat not-knowing-what-to-do. "Outside. In NERV's halls, but outside the plug."
[03:50] <Yanmei> "Oh." What to do? She was still piloting instead of being locked up in a windowless cell in NERV HQ somewhere, so either she hadn't told anyone or the explanation for this came from someplace else. Yanmei closed her eyes quietly. She was -not- going to get panicky and worked up about this. -
[03:51] <Yanmei> "So you've been conducting all that research because of this, then?"
[03:52] * Aline nodded, with a grim look on her face. "Or, rather, I'm even more concerned with it now. I have to know as much as I can, in case something… happens to me. That maybe if I know well enough I can avoid it. Or try to come back to myself. Or… something. I don't even know what I'm getting ready for. I don't know if I'm actually even correct about this. But I'm terrified of the
[03:52] * Aline possibility."
[04:00] <Yanmei> "I don't know what to say…" Yanmei murmured. 'It will be all right' came to mind, but it was so transparent… "It's so out of my expertise that I don't know how to begin to help. I'm not even sure if we're supposed to know what the Angels are being drawn to."
[04:13] * Aline looked back up at the skies. "No, I guess we're not. Things that'd be… too painful, or just too hard to even grasp. The place where those things are, is where that knowledge lives too." But she did smile softly. "I just want you to know… It takes a lot of trust to even reveal these kinds of things. It's my burden, I guess? Just like how Sera's is pain. I guess I didn't know
[04:13] * Aline yours for a good long time, but… If you'll let me be weird and poetic…" Aline's head tilted back to stare at Yanmei. "Your burden is humanity - or I guess I should say, keeping the rest of us grounded in it. I mean, I'm the one with the knowledge to handle my secrets - even if some of them terrify me like this. Sera's the one with the obsession to handle the pain he suffers to keep us
[04:13] * Aline safe - even if he overdoes it enough that we have to make sure he doesn't just suicide on us some day. So… You're the one who knows how to talk and listen and who remembers - even when sometimes you feel too angry or sad or lost to do it perfectly all the time - how to be human. I know it sounds all silly and symbolic, but…" Aline's eyes closed, and she let out a heavy breath. "That's
[04:13] * Aline why I can trust you with what I'm afraid of. Even if… even if I seem strange and you get angry at my weird behavior… you'll know how to keep me feeling human." She opened her eyes, with a bit of kindness in her smile. "As long as you don't go telling everybody, you shouldn't worry too much about how secret what I've told you is. Just relax… I can take care of that. Just make sure
[04:13] * Aline yourself and Isaiah are safe, and watch out for the things that don't add up, and you should be fine."
[04:24] <Yanmei> To ground them in humanity. Yanmei wanted to fidget and look away. But she wouldn't have looked reliable if she had done that. Above all things, she needed to be reliable and handle things. "I know how to handle secrets, Blanc. That's not what I'm worried about." Remembered clouds of rage, of releases at the flash of a combat knife-
[04:27] <Yanmei> Remembered what she'd felt when she'd heard Atticus' backstory. But those were things she could bury deep. She was an adult, after all, and this was important. "I'm a pragmatic person, Blanc. It feels as silly to respond to it as it is to hear it, but… I'll try my best in this symbolic role."
[04:33] * Aline …put a hand on Yanmei's shoulder, and kept smiling. It… it was a bittersweet smile, actually. "That's fine. I don't care if you freak out, if you get mad, if you think what I say is silly nonsense… as long as you're still there for me. We might sound crazy to each other just because we think so differently, but… we're stuck in this together. That's the whole 'family' thing.
[04:33] * Aline It's that we're stuck being yanked between horror and wonder and human hatred and inhuman apocalypse and just all these things nobody our age should have to live through - but because we're all in the same boat, even if we cope with it differently, we can try to comfort each other. You know?"
[04:40] <Yanmei> "Yeah. I know. There's nothing to gain from harming each other, and everything to lose. After all, we wouldn't have made it this far without each other." Things she had echoed to herself before. "We should comfort each other. I'll try to remember…"
[04:45] * Aline …seemed maybe a bit confused by that. "…Almost sounds like something's stopping you. Not to be rude."
[04:48] <Yanmei> "Does it?" She looked a little confused herself. Maybe even a little worried. "Was there something like that? I don't think so…"
[04:51] <Aline> "Oh, just… your tone. It's like… you've forgotten to before. Or that you have to go over it cost-benefit-wise." Aline sighed. "Is there something wrong? Is the stress getting to you?… I mean even if you have to keep quiet enough to not make a scene or go somewhere else or something, you can uh… yell at me or scream or do something else like that if you really have to."
[04:59] <Yanmei> "Heh. I'm fine, Blanc. I'm not really interested in yelling at anyone right now. There have been times when I've been frustrated enough to forget or something. But that's a natural thing."
[05:01] * Aline …nodded like she was rather unsure. "Ah. I guess I…" Then she looked at her hands. "…have no idea, then. Or what I was hearing in that tone."
[05:09] * Yanmei shrugged, smiling. "I'm not really sure either? Maybe it was your imagination." She stretched a little. "Anyway, you should find some way of keeping yourself from getting too stressed out too."
[05:14] <Aline> "Yeah, I really should. I've got a lot to think about, that's for sure." Aline drummed her fingers now, at least not staring at them too. "Not entirely sure what, though."
[05:19] <Yanmei> "Come on, you must have something like that. Like… running or…"
[05:28] * Aline thought. "…I guess I play games and watch shows but sometimes it seems… too little, too late." She shuffled her feet along the ground. "If I'm too bothered, I can't get the mental composure needed to even do that - to appreciate the show or to play the game. So it doesn't work very well."
[05:31] <Yanmei> "That's no good," said Yanmei matter-of-factly. "You should be doing, not absorbing things when you're in that state. Even if it's mindless, like punching a sandbag over and over again."
[05:39] * Aline shuddered at that. "…I'd get bored and then start thinking of the things again, though… I mean if I just… punched something over and over again or such."
[05:41] <Yanmei> "Then what? Swimming?" Yanmei frowned a little. "I don't know what has the right balance of thought and thoughlessness for you."
[05:46] * Aline slowly nodded. "…Yeah, I should do that more often. I'll have to use the indoor pool at school a lot because…" She rolled her eyes. "You can guess why. But yeah. Sorry to be uh… so weird and hard to advise."
[05:52] <Yanmei> "Those aren't things you have to apologize for." A tiny digital beeping noise went off, and Yanmei looked down at her watch for a moment.
[05:55] * Aline blinked. "…I take it your 'break' is over?" There was a brief glance in the distance… before she actually giggled a bit. "Don't make yourself late on account of your alien friend, okay?" But Aline winked. "I kid, I kid. But if you have to go, go."
[06:01] * Yanmei made a little face at the joke, and got to her feet. "Enjoy your day off, okay? I'll see you around."
[06:02] * Aline stood up too. "Yeah, I'll try."

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