Hannelore S Invitation

[14:18] <Yanmei> Yanmei had been hard at work for the past hours or so. First jogging, and then weapons training, and then shadowboxing, pretending that it was an eyeless Angelspawn or a smirking Mafioso that she was hitting instead of air. Finally, a shower. She sprawled out on the couch afterward in a t-shirt and fleecy pajama bottoms, tired but profoundly unsatisfied.
[14:27] <Minaplo> [At her feet was a bright yellow little lion cub- Reggie, still small and cute but rapidly growing larger. As Yanmei had trained and boxed he'd spent the time leaping around her feet nipping at her feels, thinking it was a game; like Yanmei, he too seemed to be tired, lolling on his side.-
[14:27] <Minaplo> [Out on the balcony, Fino cleaned his feathers, safe in a special warm open-air 'house' Marianne had bought him. Outside, a light snow was starting to fall on the city.]
[14:33] <Yanmei> Stupid Marianne, pampering that stupid bird. She shot Fino a dirty look and rolled over. She was starting to get the suspicion that she cared more about him than she did about her. Why did she have to be at work now? Were they doing… more of those Chantry scans? She shuddered inwardly.
[14:36] <Minaplo> [The seconds ticked over into minutes, then longer…-
[14:36] <Minaplo> [But before Yanmei could drift off into a doze, there was a knock at the door. Rap-rap-rap, a firm hand.]
[14:40] <Yanmei> "Eh?" Yanmei groped around on a nearby coffee table before hoisting herself up and found a sheathed combat knife. "Coming…" she muttered, and stumbled for the door. "Who is it?"
[14:45] <Minaplo> ["It's Hannelore."]
[14:50] <Yanmei> "…" A long, long pause. Yanmei stared down at her pants. There were little pink ducks printed on it, and no fast way to cover them up. "R-right. Just a minute~" She peeked through the peephole to see if it was really her, and then slowly undid the latches, opening the door just a little whilst trying to keep her lower half out of sight. "Hi! This is a surprise…"
[14:54] <Minaplo> ["Good evening." Said Hannelore brightly, looking ever so much more crisper and, at the moment, well dressed than Yanmei, a long, elegant silky black skirt, black stockings and a creamy blouse- over which she wore a fur-trimmed black winter coat. In a well-manicured hand she held a large brown thin parcel of some kind. Her clever eyes momentarily glanced towards the door- as if discerning exactly what Yanmei was wearing despite the barrier. "Am I interrupting?"]
[14:58] <Yanmei> "Not at all, Comm- ah, Hannelore." What was with those elegant civilian clothes? What was with that stare?! She tried to hide a bit more, now practically off balance from the effort. "It's always a pleasure to see you! How have you been?"
[15:00] <Minaplo> ["Busy. As always. So much paperwork! Ah… May I come in?"]
[15:05] <Yanmei> How to dodge this…? "Well, you see, you might catch a cold if you do. My… pet isn't feeling well. It's incredibly contageous?"
[15:10] <Minaplo> ["My dear Yanmei, it's quite fine." Said Hannelore, holding up her hands in apology. Yanmei would notice that the envelope bore her name on it- for a second- just as Hannelore tucked it away in her coat. "I wished to see if you would be happy to accompany me into the city today. It's just, a Michelin-star restaurant has reopened its doors in La Defense and they sent me an invitation for two, you see- very exclusive, but I suppose I'll have to ask Blanc about it instead…"]
[15:22] <Yanmei> This cruel woman… Exclusive. Invitation only. Yanmei glanced to the pink duckies, and the sleepy cub slumped on the floor of her livingroom, and then back to her Commander. She drew in a deep breath. "I would… happily accompany you." She pulled the door open a little wider. "Won't you please come in?"
[15:23] <Minaplo> [She smiled. "I would love to, but if you need a moment to make yourself presentable, I don't mind."]
[15:38] <Yanmei> A wave of relief. Wait, was it that obvious that she wasn't presentable? "Well, I'll have to see what sort of nice things I can wear to the restaurant? And I'd hate to leave you standing here while I took the time. One moment." The door shut. There was a flurry of movement behind it. A few minutes later, it opened again, with Yanmei wearing gym shorts instead of the dreaded pants. Now, the door was open fully. "Come in, please~"
[15:41] <Minaplo> [And so she did, taking a look around the apartment and seeming to nod approvingly at the decor. Regulus looked up at her curiously before flopping back down.-
[15:41] <Minaplo> ["I have something for you, actually."]
[15:43] <Yanmei> "Oh?" Yanmei blinked, following her over once the door was shut again.
[15:44] <Minaplo> [She reached into her coat and pulled out that envelope again. "As you know, S2 searches all mail go and from the pilots."]
[15:46] <Yanmei> "Yes, they do." She adopted a carefully neutral tone, and eyed that envelope curiously. "So you decided to hand-deliver something instead?"
[15:47] <Minaplo> ["More. I've given S2 orders not to search your mail to and from anymore. They were quite happy to be able to free up the manpower, and," She held the envelope out. "Love needs its privacy, especially young love. This is from your Boston-based paramour, as I think you can guess."]
[15:53] <Yanmei> "Wh-what? Hahaha…" Yanmei laughed lightly, pretending that her face didn't feel suddenly and inexplicably warm. "I'm sure it's innocent. Like a totally professional report of something?"
[15:54] <Minaplo> ["Well, whatever it is, I'm sure it's none of my business. Do you mind if I use your bathroom for a moment?"]
[15:55] <Yanmei> "Oh, please, go right ahead, ma'am! I'll just… take that letter off your hands for now…"
[15:56] <Minaplo> [Hannelore handed the envelope over and then absconded, leaving Yanmei quite alone.]
[15:57] * Yanmei leaned over to make sure she was completely gone, and then… quickly tore open the envelope to read the contents of the letter.
[15:58] <Minaplo> [It was, in fact, two letters and a small handful of photographs.-
[16:01] <Minaplo> [In the first letter, Isaiah had written about how things were in Boston- he'd clearly taken the time to do this properly, with his perfect handwriting; he poured his feelings out into it over several pages. He talked about how cold it was now, how it was always freezing in America every winter due to the albedo; how the cold and the quiet made him think of her. He wrote about the various sights in Boston, now, about how they'd put up a huge tree for Christmas; other things too, like how the Government had just started showing off some new fighter craft. He talked of less mundane things as well- Rei and Alphonse were spending even more time together now, it was impossible to catch them by themselves sometimes.-
[16:02] <Minaplo> [He wrote about how it seemed like 08 was becoming strangely moody in the last few synch tests. He had a weird feeling sometimes, like he was a dog sensing an earthquake that never came. But mostly he just missed Yanmei- and little Lizzie, of course. He signed off with his deepest affections.-
[16:03] <Minaplo> [As for the photographs? And the other letter? Well…-
[16:05] <Minaplo> [Yanmei would have a few minutes to read and/or hide the evidence before Hannelore returned, looking even more refreshed than she already had.]
[16:08] * Yanmei had heard her coming, and was in the process of desperately trying to cram the evidence into the envelope and standing up hastily! "Yes! Well!" she covered further with one of her most disarming smiles. "I should get ready! You know, for the lunch?"
[16:26] <Minaplo> ["Of course." Said Hannelore with an indulgent smile. "Take your time."]
[16:42] <Yanmei> "Thanks~" Clutching the letter tightly, she hurried back to her room. When she emerged again, she was dressed in a sleek emerald-colored dress and black heels… and no chestplate. She glanced over her shoulder to where it still lay on her bed, a touch of worry in her eyes.
[16:43] <Yanmei> Still, she tried to brush it off. "Are we ready to go?"
[16:46] <Minaplo> ["I should say so," Said Hannelore, who had been playfully toying with Regulus. She stood up. "You look nice. Very elegant, very seductive."]
[16:49] <Yanmei> "You're too kind~ I don't think I can match your elegance, though."
[16:50] <Minaplo> ["Oh? Then if I'm more elegant, perhaps you're more seductive?" She asked slyly.]
[16:54] <Yanmei> Had she deduced what had accompanied that letter after all? Yanmei coughed delicately. "Y-you know, I recently bought a new coat," she said conversationally, and went for the closet and the long, black belted coat that hung inside. "My last one got a little messed up?"
[16:55] <Minaplo> ["Oh?" Hannelore threw her own coat on.]
[16:56] <Yanmei> "A little fire accident. Luckily, no one was hurt much."
[16:56] <Minaplo> ["A fire accident?" Hannelore's eyes widened a little. "I see… Well, come on. We shouldn't be late."]
[17:00] <Yanmei> "Right! Be good, Reggie, we'll be back soon." Yanmei hurried to the door, and waited for Hannelore to take the lead to her sporty car.
[17:09] <Minaplo> [And before long they were off, two lovely elegant ladies in elegant clothes in an elegant car, outshining all the little people around them.-
[17:11] <Minaplo> [Before long they would find a parking spot near to their mark- the Creme de la Creme restaurant in La Defense, a particularly sumptuous looking place that had taken full advantage of both a strong reputation and copious insurance payouts. The restaurant was bedecked in little fairy lights, wrapped around the Neo-Classical pillars and gilded windows of this place. Within the windows, portraits of a handsomely arrogant man smirked at them.]
[02:21] * Yanmei gazed up at it, fighting to tuck the awe away. It reminded her of a castle. She had been in one or two before, of course, but this time she was a little on edge. Lots of people. Suppose there was an explosion? Some kind of Spawn attack? "It's gorgeous," she murmured.
[02:26] <Minaplo> ["Wait until you taste the food."]
[02:29] <Yanmei> "You sound like someone who's experienced it already."
[02:30] <Minaplo> ["I've had the chance to sample Mr. Beauregard's cooking before."]
[02:32] <Yanmei> "Really? So you're acquaintances?"
[02:32] <Minaplo> ["No. I mean, he had to work somewhere whilst his restaurant was being rebuilt, his ego couldn't go without such a long break."]
[02:35] <Yanmei> "I see~ Oh well. I was looking forward to meeting such a really important chef. Who else do you think got invitations?"
[02:36] <Minaplo> ["I'm not sure, actually. I think we'll find a few stuffy old men in here for sure…"]
[02:40] <Yanmei> "Old men, huh?" She eyed the windows, and the many glimpses divided among them. "We'll see, I guess? Shall we?"
[02:41] <Minaplo> ["Let's."-
[02:42] <Minaplo> [The inside was just as palatial as the outside. A pinched-looking maitre d' took the invitation, scrutinised it suspiciously, then sent for someone to lead them to their seats.-
[02:42] <Minaplo> [It was a lovely seat, though; a snug and secure wall seat with unbelievably comfortable velvet cushions right next to the open fire, which warmed them greatly. Two menus were already there waiting for them.]
[02:45] * Yanmei eyed their surroundings, still trying to look more cool and collected than openly impressed. "You know… when you come back here, you should bring a date with you."
[02:45] <Minaplo> ["Who says I haven't brought a date this time?"]
[02:48] <Yanmei> "Very funny," Yanmei grinned at her. "You'll get my letter-writing boyfriend upset~"
[02:48] <Minaplo> ["Will you tell him that in one of your professional reports?" She grinned back. "I'm sorry. Lieutenant Gagnier made me promise to say that."]
[02:50] <Yanmei> "Her-! You should take everything she says with a grain of salt, ma'am. -Everything-."
[02:51] <Minaplo> ["Perhaps you can tell her that yourself." Said Hannelore, nodding at something over Yanmei's shoulder.]
[02:53] * Yanmei turned. She had a feeling she wasn't going to like what she saw…
[02:54] <Minaplo> [Sitting up on a second floor seat, above the mere plebeian masses, was none other than President Mazarin, his little daughter Henriette, and Sophie Gagnier herself. President Mazarin gave her a dry smile and tipped a glass of wine towards her in favour before sipping it.]
[02:57] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei nodded to him and smiled graciously. Oh god, what were they telling him?! Henriette and Sophie were the worst possible guest combination!
[02:59] <Minaplo> [Hannelore gave them a little wave, which was returned.-
[03:01] <Minaplo> [… But then Yanmei would notice someone sitting on the bottom floor, near a corner. A large, imposing man in a crisp Italian suit, with a powerful build, aquiline features and a full black beard- white streaks in both hair and beard. He was laughing heartily, draining a glass of wine. Sitting opposite him- sporting a black eye that he tried to hide- was Leonardo Parrino.]
[03:07] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyes widened with sheer incredulity and for a few moments she could only stare. "Oh… oh god…" -
[03:09] <Yanmei> A rather curious thing began to happen… some of the adrenaline she thought she had worked off with her exercises came swirling back to her. Her fist clenched beneath the table.
[03:09] <Minaplo> ["Something the matter?"]
[03:13] <Yanmei> "Someone I know, that's all." There was a touch of accusation in her voice, but when she faced Hohenzollern again, it sort of faded into something more guilty. "It's possible that you haven't read Jeanne Simon's report on it yet…"
[03:15] <Minaplo> ["Is this about your jaunt into the abandoned Métro stations?"]
[03:17] <Yanmei> "So you -did- read it."
[03:17] <Minaplo> ["I did."]
[03:18] <Yanmei> "What are your impressions, if I may ask?"
[03:21] <Minaplo> ["Risky." Said Hannelore. "Although you four are no doubt skilled, it was a dangerous situation that could've ended disastrously."]
[03:26] <Yanmei> "There were a lot of unexpected elements," Yanmei admitted. "Including that scrap at the end of things."
[03:27] <Minaplo> ["Yes. It could've been -very- problematic for a lot of people if that situation had played out differently."]
[03:30] <Yanmei> "Yeah. I've been thinking about that a lot." She directed her eyes back to the distant table. "You know, the man who instigated the fight with us is sitting right over there."
[03:30] <Minaplo> ["I'm aware."]
[03:34] <Yanmei> "You seem awfully calm about it?"
[03:34] <Minaplo> ["He isn't going to attack us here."]
[03:36] <Yanmei> "You never know…"
[03:42] <Minaplo> ["He'd be an idiot to do it in a public place under the President's nose."]
[03:44] <Yanmei> "He's proven himself to be a pretty big idiot before."
[03:44] <Minaplo> ["Attacking you in the station was stupid, but it's a different kind of stupid as opposed to attacking you in public. Don't pay him any attention."]
[03:49] <Yanmei> The long, wary glance at the gentleman in question came to an end. "The outcome of this mission… do you think it will effect whether or not we'll be allowed to continue searching for that kid with S2?"
[03:51] <Minaplo> ["Most definitely."]
[03:54] <Yanmei> "You'll break de Pteres' heart, you know."
[03:55] <Minaplo> ["Better his heart than his life."]
[03:59] * Yanmei rubbed her forehead briefly. "There still aren't any more leads, are there?"
[03:59] <Minaplo> ["Nothing substantial. But come, we should order instead of worrying about little nasty problems."]
[08:28] <Yanmei> "They aren't little problems," Yanmei muttered, reaching for her menu.
[08:29] <Minaplo> ["No, but everything is easier when broken into little chunks." Said Hannelore with a smile, picking up her menu. "Oh, is it alright if I pay for you, or would you prefer to pay yourself?"]
[08:30] * Raphael has quit IRC (Ping timeout)
[08:30] * Raphael has joined #nervfrance
[08:35] * Yanmei hesitated. She'd simply assumed that Hannelore was paying the bill because she'd invited her. Was it rude to confirm that she wanted her to straight out? There weren't any prices listed here, not even for the beverages. "If you would be so kind…"
[08:37] <Minaplo> ["That's quite alright." Hannelore leaned over and said quietly, "If you ask me, the prices here are outrageously expensive, but then it has to match the chef's ego…"]
[08:41] * Yanmei chuckled. "I was hoping the prices would actually be a sign of the food's quality? But, ah well. Thank you very much."
[08:42] <Minaplo> ["Ah, my dear, if you wish to know the quality of the food, you must look to the quality of the patron~"]
[08:44] <Yanmei> "Then we're in luck~ Well. For the most part." Another critical look at Leo Parrino's table.
[08:51] <Minaplo> [Hannelore chuckled and consulted her menu.-
[08:51] <Minaplo> ["Ah, tell me. Have you ever had ortolans?" She asked- before shaking her head. "What a silly question. Of course you haven't."]
[08:53] <Yanmei> "Should I take that as a recommendation?"
[08:54] <Minaplo> ["You won't find it on this menu. It's illegal, unfortunately."]
[08:55] <Yanmei> "Oh, I see…"
[08:55] <Minaplo> ["I had one back before Impact. Do you know what they are?"]
[08:55] * Yanmei shook her head.
[08:57] <Minaplo> ["They are these little songbirds, captured from the wild, taken and fed endlessly. Then the birds are drowned in armagnac, a type of brandy, then roasted whole. Then a napkin is placed over your head- to savour the aroma and hide the mess, and perhaps even to hide from God- then the bird is eaten whole, bones and all."]
[09:00] <Yanmei> A vaguely uncomfortable feeling began to creep over her. "French cuisine can be pretty cruel. You've had this meal yourself before?"
[09:03] <Minaplo> ["Yes. It was… Incredibly delicious. Nothing like I've ever had before… But I -did- feel guilty about it, and it is extremely messy."]
[09:09] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei was peering at her menu again. "Maybe I'll stick with the pear and red onion gratin today." They couldn't torture plants, now, could they?
[09:10] <Minaplo> ["And I might have the soupe aux Mazarin for a starter…"]
[09:12] <Yanmei> "Ah…? They named a meal after Mazarin?"
[09:13] <Minaplo> ["A truffle soup, yes."]
[09:15] <Yanmei> "Hm… you know, there was a deli downtown that sold sandwiches named after the EVA pilots. I think it might be gone now, though?"
[09:15] <Minaplo> ["Oh? I wonder what a Yanmei Sandwich would consist of…"]
[09:22] <Yanmei> "Pork, mushrooms, onions and a sweet and spicy sauce. Supposedly. It's not like I stopped there a few times out of curiousity or anything?"
[09:23] <Minaplo> ["Ah, I see. Onions- because you make people cry~?"]
[09:24] <Yanmei> "When do I ever do things like that?" Yanmei huffed. "I'm surprised at you, ma'am!"
[09:25] <Minaplo> ["Oh, forgive me!" Said Hannelore. "I didn't mean to imply that you -had-, rather, such a pretty young lady- you've probably broken many boys' hearts…"]
[09:26] <Yanmei> "Well, I couldn't say~" She tried to keep her smile up.
[09:30] <Minaplo> ["I see…" Hannelore let out a curiously wistful little chuckle as she leaned back.]
[09:36] <Yanmei> Thinking of days gone by? Her own romantic adventures? It was a way to get the spotlight off some sad thoughts, so Yanmei went along with it. "Is there anyone that you like, ma'am?"
[09:36] <Minaplo> ["Me?" Hannelore chuckled sadly. "No, not these days."]
[09:37] <Yanmei> "Ah, I see. Oh, maybe we should call a waiter over."
[09:39] <Minaplo> ["A good idea." Hannelore said, gesturing a waiter over.]
[09:40] <Yanmei> Yanmei made her order for the pears and - almost as an afterthought - a salad on the side. Also, a small glass of white wine.
[09:42] <Minaplo> [Hannelore ordered the soupe aux Mazarin along with salade olivier and a glass of her own, before turning back to Yanmei.-
[09:42] <Minaplo> ["Sadly enough, you're luckier in romance than I am, I'm afraid."]
[09:43] <Yanmei> "Do you want to talk about it?"
[09:43] <Minaplo> ["If you're curious. It's disappoint, but hardly anything I obsess or hurt over."]
[09:48] <Yanmei> "That's a relief. There are so many romances that seem to end suddenly and sadly."
[09:48] <Minaplo> ["Yes. In fact, my first relationship was like that."]
[09:49] <Yanmei> "Ah. I'm sorry…"
[09:50] <Minaplo> ["Don't be so cautious." Said Hannelore. "I don't mind."]
[09:52] <Yanmei> "Right, right…" She tried to shake the unsettled feeling off and to proceed. "What was he like?"
[09:54] <Minaplo> ["Young and foolish." Said Hannelore. "We were brought together by our parents- it was all arranged, you see- and he was… Interested in me, but I think not very attached. More curious about women than anything."]
[09:59] <Yanmei> "How young are we talking about, here? High school, maybe?"
[10:02] <Minaplo> ["I was, at least. I believe I was about fifteen at the time." She gave Yanmei a dark look. "He was seventeen."]
[10:05] <Yanmei> "I see," she said smoothly. "But you eventually learned to get along?"
[10:07] <Minaplo> ["In a sense." Said Hannelore teasingly.]
[10:08] <Yanmei> "Eh?" She colored somewhat, remembering details from her own first relationship. "S-so, what happened?"
[10:09] <Minaplo> ["Well, he met someone else."]
[10:12] <Yanmei> "Seriously?" Yanmei frowned. "That's pretty jerky."
[10:13] <Minaplo> ["Yes indeed. He went to college- so I rarely saw him- and then one day I get a letter saying that he's met someone else…" Her eyes narrowed. "Can you believe I gave my virginity to that man?"]
[10:17] <Yanmei> "That's just plain awful!" Yanmei's own face had darkened quite a bit. "A letter! At least tell someone in person!"
[10:19] <Minaplo> ["Yes." She sighed. "I rarely saw him after that, although when I did it was always with his lovely wife."]
[10:20] <Yanmei> "His parents must have been furious for him breaking things off to be with someone else."
[10:21] <Minaplo> ["Mr. Caine was rather furious, yes."]
[10:21] <Yanmei> "…"
[10:24] <Minaplo> ["I know what you're thinking, and yes, unfortunately, my first boyfriend - and, horribly, sexual partner- was Elisha "God complex" Caine."]
[10:26] * Yanmei raised a hand to her face and groaned. "Ugh… God, really?"
[10:30] <Minaplo> ["Really."-
[10:30] <Minaplo> [Their glasses of wine arrived, and Hannelore took a stout mouthful.-
[10:31] <Minaplo> ["You know what?"]
[10:31] <Yanmei> "What?" Yanmei had started taking more hesitant sips from her own glass.
[10:34] <Minaplo> ["You're lucky to have gotten someone like Isaiah on your first try. Someone -loyal-."]
[10:34] <Yanmei> "He wasn't my first try…"
[10:35] <Minaplo> ["O-Oh…"]
[10:37] <Yanmei> "It was okay when we were together, but when I was sent here to Paris he couldn't handle the long-distance thing. I was really bitter about it for a while? But we made up, kinda, and over the long years I've come to regard him fondly again. Just not in that way…"
[10:39] <Minaplo> ["Ah." Hannelore nodded slowly. "Were you- er, set on him?"]
[10:41] * Yanmei turned that question over thoughtfully in her mind. "I don't know. I liked him a lot. He told me that things would still be okay. I believed him."
[10:42] <Minaplo> ["I wonder if he believed himself."]
[10:43] <Yanmei> "I couldn't say. I'd like to think he did?"
[10:44] <Minaplo> ["Yes." Hannelore stared quietly at her glass of wine. "Mind if I ask a personal question?"]
[10:44] <Yanmei> "Please go ahead."
[10:48] <Minaplo> ["Knowing how things turn out now, if you had another chance would you try to preserve your first relationship?"]
[10:51] <Yanmei> "I would have ended things before I came overseas and saved us both the grief. I don't know if there's any way I actually -could- have preserved it."
[10:51] <Minaplo> ["But if you could have."]
[10:52] <Yanmei> "…I don't think I would have. We've both moved on, and I think we can find happiness without being together."
[10:54] <Minaplo> ["I see."-
[10:54] <Minaplo> ["… Sorry. God, I'm prying."]
[10:56] * Yanmei smiled and shook her head. "It's fine. I don't mind talking about these things either."
[10:57] <Minaplo> ["Well, it's good to be open and honest about it, I think."-
[10:57] <Minaplo> ["… Mind, I could tell you a few things about young Mr. Elisha Caine that he'd hate for you to hear."]
[11:01] <Yanmei> "Is that so?" Yanmei smirked. "…like what?"
[11:01] <Minaplo> ["… They might not be suitable for your innocent nature."]
[11:03] <Yanmei> "Wait, what? Gah… I thought we were talking about embarrassing stories! Like awkward, dorky teenage stuff."
[11:04] <Minaplo> ["It was -definitely- awkward and dorky, let me tell you that right now." Said Hannelore quickly.]
[11:06] <Yanmei> "Oh my god… that's more than enough details, thank you."
[11:11] <Minaplo> ["If you say so~ Now would be a good time to talk to you about something else."]
[11:12] <Yanmei> "I never did get a chance to tell you about my trip to Nairobi… the good and the bad."
[11:12] <Minaplo> ["Nairobi?"]
[11:14] <Yanmei> "Yes, the Synfront. It was… I've never been in a place like that before. It seemed like they were lightyears ahead of us in every way."
[11:14] <Minaplo> ["The technology in the Synfront is -very- advanced, yes. Remarkable place, if a bit- inhuman."]
[11:16] <Yanmei> "Yes, that's the other thing." Yanmei gazed down at her wine worriedly. "I can see why they sent Elizabeth to me instead of letting the staff raise her there. We did get to see how her mother was doing."
[11:17] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[11:19] <Yanmei> "I'm concerned about her. Her morale is very low, and the Chantry readings are much more intense than I thought they would be."
[11:21] <Minaplo> ["Yes, I've heard that they're very taxing…"]
[11:23] <Yanmei> "It wasn't an official description, but I was told that scientists there would try to make the process as safe as they could. That she would be doing the readings from inside an EVA or with some other buffer in place to protect her. That didn't seem to be the actual case."
[11:24] <Minaplo> ["No, it doesn't -look- like it is, but she's actually safer than you'd think. It's a complicated process- but it definitely involves using an Eva for safety."]
[11:25] <Yanmei> "…I don't understand. There wasn't anything -there-. Just this weird machine that connected her to the Chantry and physical restraints to keep her from hurting herself."
[11:29] <Minaplo> ["The machine connects to- it's not a fully working unit, but it's an Evangelion body."]
[11:30] <Yanmei> "So… she's actually safe?" She looked a little dubious.
[11:32] <Minaplo> ["She hurts herself, and sometimes the strain is too much for her, but otherwise her life isn't in danger."]
[11:36] * Yanmei said nothing for a moment. There was no way for her to verify it one way or the other. If she looked at the Synfront's secret tech files - assuming that it even had any or she could get access to them - maybe she could. Then again, maybe there were fabrications floating around on it too…-
[11:37] <Yanmei> "I'm still concerned about her mental health. She's lost everything, and has to undergo that strain fairly frequently as well. It also looks like she's pretty isolated, emotionally speaking."
[11:38] <Minaplo> ["Hm." Hannelore frowned, rubbing her chin. "Do you want me to speak to the Synfront Commander? See if I can't make things a little easier?"]
[11:40] <Yanmei> "That would be wonderful. I'm sure she would be a little better if she at least had someone to talk to."
[02:04] <Minaplo> ["I really did think she'd be taken care of better than this…"]
[02:06] <Yanmei> "If it helps, I think part of the problem is that her peers are afraid of her. She does seem a little otherworldly these days? And also… you can tell that she misses her daughter very much."
[02:06] <Minaplo> ["… You've been a good mother to Elizabeth. Don't blame yourself for being a good carer."]
[02:06] * Rynol has joined #nervfrance2
[02:08] <Yanmei> "She thinks that I'm her mother. She's afraid of Isabelle. I don't know how to fix that."
[02:08] <Minaplo> ["It sounds like a job for the Psychiatry department."]
[02:10] * Yanmei went silent, mulling it over.
[02:12] <Minaplo> [Hannelore took the opportunity of silence to partake of her truffle soup.]
[02:14] <Yanmei> A few more moments went by, before Yanmei joined her, picking up her own fork. "Thank you, by the way. For listening."
[02:16] <Minaplo> ["You're welcome." Said Hannelore with a smile. "Thank you, too."]
[02:17] <Yanmei> "Think nothing of it?"
[02:17] <Minaplo> ["I will, anyway. Actually…"]
[02:18] <Yanmei> "…yes?"
[02:18] <Minaplo> ["De Orleans gave me an idea, and I think it's a good one."]
[02:19] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
[02:21] <Minaplo> ["NERV has been investigating potential pilots to take up control of EVA-06."]
[02:22] <Yanmei> "Have they made a decision yet?" Her tone lapsed into something more businesslike.
[02:23] <Minaplo> ["No. There are a few candidates, and I wanted your opinion on them."]
[02:25] <Yanmei> A short pause. "Are you sure that's a good idea?"
[02:25] <Minaplo> ["I do. You know two of the candidates after all."]
[02:27] <Yanmei> "Do I?" Even more wariness now. She imagined Lizzie in a little plugsuit and suddenly felt ill.
[02:30] <Minaplo> ["Yes. Niles Windsor-Yamato and Elena Clement."]
[02:31] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei rested her fork aside again. "Does Dr. Clement know?"
[02:35] <Minaplo> ["Yes, he does."]
[02:36] <Yanmei> "His reaction?"
[02:39] <Minaplo> ["He knew this day might come eventually."]
[02:42] <Yanmei> "Neither of them have Natasha's training, and I'm not sure they have the nerve. It's a difficult choice."
[02:46] <Minaplo> ["But you know them both- why don't you tell me about them?"]
[02:55] <Yanmei> "Clement is intelligent and logical, with a particular knack for science studies. Shows compassion for small children, has a soft spot for Weiss-Xylander, and seems hardworking enough. In a bad situation, however, I have doubts about whether she'll be able to keep her head. She's a bit of a wuss…"
[02:56] <Minaplo> ["Do you have any examples I might be able to use?"]
[02:57] <Yanmei> "Um… not exactly. It's just a feeling I have from watching her behavior in class. She doesn't seem like the sort of kid who handles conflict well."
[02:58] <Minaplo> ["Hmm… I see." She said. "What about Windsor-Yamato?"]
[03:03] <Yanmei> "Ambitious and cocksure. He's the head of the debate team, and in the fencing team. He acts like he knows everything, but his physical conditioning is mediocre without there being… um, I guess a catalyst or a rival to compete against."
[03:04] <Minaplo> ["Really?" She seemed surprised.]
[03:09] <Yanmei> "A certain student attended school with us. A person who was brilliant in his own right despite being a comeplete and utter jerk. Really, he gave Windsor-Yamato a run for his money in academics and school clubs, and Windsor-Yamato performed brilliantly, trying to be the best. -
[03:11] <Yanmei> "After that student transferred, I don't think I've seen him work quite as hard, I guess. And I don't recall -ever- seeing him in a life or death situation before. I'm not even sure how he would react."
[03:11] <Minaplo> ["Well, as a NeoSpartan, I'm sure he'd do well nevertheless."]
[03:12] <Yanmei> "…Beg pardon?"
[03:12] <Minaplo> ["Windsor-Yamato is a member of the NeoSpartan program."]
[03:13] <Yanmei> "…" A sour look crossed her face. "I didn't realize."
[03:17] <Minaplo> ["He personally remembers the period poorly, I believe. In any case." She coughed. "Windsor-Yamato and Clement are both candidates, but Windsor's cousin is also a candidate."]
[03:17] <Yanmei> "A cousin?"
[03:18] <Minaplo> ["Princess Alexandrina of the United Kingdom."]
[03:19] <Yanmei> "Princess…" Yanmei trailed off, as a realization hit. "Windsor-Yamato is -royalty-?!"
[03:23] <Minaplo> ["Wait, you didn't know?!"]
[03:24] <Yanmei> "Does -he- know? Why hasn't he been bragging about this?"
[03:30] <Minaplo> ["He does, of course. Perhaps he felt relying on his position would be too easy…"]
[03:35] <Yanmei> "What… what about that Princess? Is the HIC really okay with using someone so important as a pilot?"
[03:36] <Minaplo> ["If the shoe fits, I believe is the saying. EVA-06 is a picky unit."]
[03:40] <Yanmei> "Hm." She tried to settle down again. "Are there any of those three that you feel strongly about so far?"
[03:46] <Minaplo> ["NeoSpartans make the best soldiers, so… Windsor-Yamato."]
[03:48] <Yanmei> "I'm inclined to agree? But I'd rather take some time and think it oover carefully before casting my endorsement."
[03:49] <Minaplo> ["I understand."]
[03:56] * Yanmei nodded, picking at her meal again. It was amazing… "Was there anything else about the selection process that you wanted to talk about?"
[04:08] <Minaplo> ["No. Just a question about yourself and your colleagues."]
[04:10] <Yanmei> "Sure. What is it?"
[04:11] <Minaplo> ["Who would you say is the most reliable of all the pilots?"]
[04:13] <Yanmei> "All of them?" She regarded her curiously. "Probably… Ayanami Rei at this point. Why?"
[04:13] <Minaplo> ["Just curious. Rei, you say? Why's that?"]
[04:18] <Yanmei> "She's had her defeats, but she never stops trying. Moreover, she also always tries her best to encourage her the teammates that she commands. I say this without really knowing how Ikari's death affected her? But, she's… stable."
[04:19] <Yanmei> ^the teammates
[04:19] * Oat has joined #nervfrance2
[04:19] <Minaplo> [A sagacious nod. "A fair argument. And the most unreliable?"]
[04:20] <Yanmei> "Before, I would have said Natasha. Now I'm not so sure."
[04:21] * Raphael has quit IRC (Ping timeout)
[04:21] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[04:21] * Oat is now known as Raphael
[04:24] <Yanmei> "She had… a lot of issues because of her upbringing in the NeoSpartan Project. Inadequacies, self-esteem issues, and so forth."
[04:24] <Minaplo> ["Yes, that's true." Said Hohenzollern with a sigh.-
[04:24] <Minaplo> ["Alright, then. Out of just you four, who's the most reliable?"]
[04:25] <Yanmei> "In battle? De Pteres."
[04:26] <Minaplo> ["Ah, but… Volkova was very reliable in battle too, you know."]
[04:27] <Yanmei> "-I- recall her dropping the ball and crying a lot."
[04:29] <Minaplo> ["Really?"]
[04:29] <Yanmei> "Yes," she said primly.
[04:29] <Minaplo> ["I'd love to hear some examples."]
[04:33] <Yanmei> "I don't have many. My contact with her in battle was somewhat limited? But the battle with the Sixteenth Angel, Ramliel."
[04:34] <Minaplo> ["Go on."]
[04:36] <Yanmei> A long silence followed. "I'm sure there was another time. I just can't seem to recall it, you see."
[04:38] <Minaplo> ["I see…" Hannelore took some of her soup. "I'm sorry, Yanmei, but Colonel Amatore's report on the Ramliel conflict mentioned Volkova as the Eva contributing the most to the ground defense portion of the conflict."]
[04:41] <Yanmei> "I see. My understanding of that event was that she was emotionally coming apart at the seams."
[04:42] <Minaplo> ["My understanding is that that's something of an occupational risk when it comes to the Angels. The pilots who can keep firing…"]
[04:45] <Yanmei> "You would use that as a measure of strength, then. What other qualities do you consider for something like that?"
[04:45] <Minaplo> ["Let me put it to you like this: of the pilots, I consider you to be the most overall reliable, and de Pteres the most unreliable. That should tell you of my metric."]
[04:50] <Yanmei> "I see." Yanmei smiled warmly at her. "Thank you. I -do- try. De Pteres can be… unpredictable at times, so I can see why you'd say that."
[17:31] <Minaplo> ["Yes." Hannelore took a sip of wine. "I have to ask what my predecessors were doing at times."]
[17:33] <Yanmei> "What do you mean?"
[17:34] <Minaplo> ["If I'd found that one of my subordinates was plotting murder I would've imprisoned him on the spot."]
[17:38] <Yanmei> "Well, to be fair, no one ever caught him during the plotting phase."
[17:40] <Minaplo> ["…" Hannelore looked away, a pained expression on her face before turning back to face Yanmei. "I…"-
[17:41] <Minaplo> [But before she could continue, a waiter had approached their table, bearing a bottle of wine in an iced bucket. "White wine, compliments of the gentleman at yonder table." He nodded at somewhere behind Yanmei.]
[17:42] <Yanmei> "Ah?" She rallied against the confusion of the sudden intrusion and followed his gaze.
[17:46] <Minaplo> [It was the Parrino table, but there was a third guest there, a man rudely wearing a hat. The 'Babysitter', his eyes focused on her unerringly. He sardonically tipped his hat.]
[17:46] * Yanmei gave him her prettiest smile. "Send it back, please."
[17:48] <Minaplo> ["Send it back, madame?"]
[17:52] <Yanmei> "Yes, please. Let them know that I appreciate the sentiment." She regarded Hannelore, half-expecting a nod of agreement or approval.
[17:53] <Minaplo> [Which is exactly what Hannelore gave.-
[17:53] <Minaplo> [The waiter, nonplussed, took the wine back to Mr. Babysitter's table.-
[17:59] <Minaplo> [A smirk emerged on Mr. Babysitter's face.]
[18:01] * Yanmei held her smile. Mainly to mask how annoyed that made her. "That was the other gentleman we met in the subway, by the way?"
[18:01] <Minaplo> ["Do you want him arrested?"]
[18:03] * Yanmei regarded her in surprise. "Is that okay? I thought this was a 'no aggression zone'."
[18:04] <Minaplo> ["To hell with no aggression. I'll leave it in your hands."]
[18:11] <Yanmei> "Can you arrest Parrino instead? There's still some questions he has yet to answer…"
[18:12] <Minaplo> ["We can arrest them all at once. My team don't believe in half-assing this sort of thing."]
[18:13] <Yanmei> "That's fine too. They'll do it discreetly, won't they?"
[18:14] <Minaplo> ["Is that a problem?"]
[18:15] <Yanmei> "It's preferable. This is too nice a place to make a huge scene in?" Yanmei smiled.
[18:19] <Minaplo> ["I understand." She reached down into her small purse and opened it up, rifling through it for something.-
[18:20] <Minaplo> [She took out what looked like an electronic cigarette, turned it on and put it into her mouth, taking a smoke, the end of the cigarette lighting up momentarily.-
[18:20] <Minaplo> [By pure coincidence it seemed to be pointing at the Parrinos' table…]
[18:23] <Yanmei> That easy? No cell phone calls or code words, or…? Yanmei took a drink from the wine that she had personally ordered as she waited to see what would happen next.
[18:23] <Minaplo> [… What happened was that Mr. Babysitter suddenly looked up at the roof, frowning in puzzlement.]
[18:24] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei hesitantly, quietly, did the same.
[18:27] <Minaplo> ["Shit." Muttered Hannelore. Mr. Babysitter had said something quietly- and now Leonardo had stood, and was walking towards them.]
[18:30] <Yanmei> "What do we do?" Yanmei hissed. She didn't know what had happened, but she knew that whatever it was Hannelore had been planning had gone bad.
[18:32] <Minaplo> ["The young one's coming toward us."]
[18:54] * Yanmei eyes Hannelore ever for a fraction of a second, suddenly acutely aware of her fabled badness under pressure and pushes her chair back, rising as if to greet him. One hand still clutched her half-drunken glass of white wine. "Get ready."
[18:56] <Minaplo> [Hannelore eyed her cautiously.-
[18:56] <Minaplo> [Leonardo smirked as Yanmei rose, his right hand reaching into his jacket- going for a gun!]
[18:57] <Yanmei> And Yanmei's glass-bearing hand whipped into action! Wine!
[18:58] <Minaplo> [White wine flashed into his face, too fast for him to stop it. It seeped into his injuries and under his bandages- he closed his eyes, hands shooting to his face. "Aaaaargh!"-
[18:59] <Minaplo> [The noise brought the attention of everyone in the restaurant- Mr. Babysitter was already getting to his feet, as was Don Parrino. What was Yanmei going to do…?!]
[19:28] <Yanmei> What else -could- she do? She flailed at him frantically with her fists, her face flushed with a mix of humiliation and adrenaline. "Hurry! Grab some cover!"
[19:30] <Minaplo> ["Augh! Not again-" The fists connected, a brutal smack to the chest sending him stumbling back into a chair.-
[19:31] <Minaplo> ["Oh for fuck's sake!" Snapped Mr. Babysitter. "I'm never getting on a plane with you guys -ever-. Can't do -anything- right. Can't beat up a girl, can't have lunch…" He got to his feet and grabbed Parrino's arm. "Time to go now!"]
[19:36] <Yanmei> The blows kept coming. She knew that there would be -worse- trouble if she stopped, and where the hell were S2?! "How dare you assault two harmless ladies dining out!"
[19:39] <Yanmei> She braced herself, lifted a leg high on wobbling heels, and then slammed it into him with enough force to send him back another few feet at least.
[19:42] <Minaplo> [More than that. One of her punches broke his nose with a horrible crack- he screamed, his voice terribly high-pitched, blood everywhere- and the kick hit his knee at just the right angle to snap it backward. He was more or less hurled through a table- collecting a candelabra, two bowls of soupe aux Mazarin, a bottle of wine, eight escargot and a salade russe- before landing on the other side, legs still on the table- one bent crookedly- the tablecloth stained and ruined, the wine pouring steadily onto his face, the soup coating his clothes.-
[19:43] <Minaplo> [Don Parrino reached his hand into his jacket- only for Mr. Babysitter to slap it away. "Let's go let's go let's go we need to go now run run run from the authorities-"-
[19:44] <Minaplo> [Parrino wasn't alone. A squad of goons sitting next to them stood as well, also reaching for their jackets-
[19:44] <Minaplo> [… But Yanmei wasn't alone. A group of well-dressed men who had been sitting next to -her- table rose as well and pulled out their weapons first. Bolt pistol, three mas pistols.]
[19:48] * Yanmei stared at them, and their weapons in particular. Then, blood-splattered and breathing hard, she turned a long, murderous glare at the goons across the dining room. "Don't. Even. THINK about it!"
[19:55] <Minaplo> [The goons look at each other nervously. They ultimately operated off of a primal Alpha-Wolf drive, following the strongest. Their capo had just been curbstomped by a girl who was about six inches shorter than him and probably forty pounds less.-
[19:55] <Minaplo> [She was now Alpha-Wolf. They put their hands into the air unhesitatingly.-
[19:56] <Minaplo> [Don Parrino glared at them murderously, but followed suit slowly. "I'll fucking have you for this! You, you beat up my son, I'll have your little girl -dead-, you little chink bi-"-
[19:57] <Minaplo> ["SHUT UP!" Snapped Mr. Babysitter. "YOU CANNOT DO -ANYTHING- RIGHT! STOP MOVING YOUR MOUTH!"]
[20:10] <Yanmei> "Listen to the man," Yanmei chimed in darkly. "I don't think you -realize- how lucky your fuck-up of a son is." She stepped toward the mess caused by said son, and salvaged a remarkably undisturbed bottle of wine that was rolling around next to him. She turned away. "Think I'll have that drink now after all, thank you~"
[20:11] <Minaplo> [There was a sudden hush throughout the restaurant. Then-
[20:11] <Minaplo> [Applause. People were- they were clapping?]
[20:13] <Yanmei> It took her off-guard. That much was clear from the expression she made when she looked up at everyone.
[20:15] <Minaplo> [On the top balcony, President Mazarin- who was hastily stuffing a semiauto pistol back into his jacket- grabbed a glass of wine and toasted it to Yanmei's favour.-
[20:16] <Minaplo> [One person wasn't clapping, though. Mr. Babysitter was staring at Yanmei- then around at the clapping spectators- then back at the glaring, scowling Don.-
[20:17] <Minaplo> ["Don."-
[20:17] <Minaplo> ["What?"-
[20:17] <Minaplo> ["Get down."-
[20:18] <Minaplo> [Parrino turned to stare at Mr. Babysitter for a moment, eyes narrow- he shuffled toward the ground, an action noticed by the Agents. They trained their guns on the Don…-
[20:19] <Minaplo> [Mr. Babysitter was -fast-. The first thing he did was kick out at their table, knocking it over- plates crashed everywhere. Simultaneously he dove in behind the table, throwing something at the wall behind him. It was a little dagger.-
[20:19] <Minaplo> [The Dagger embedded itself within the plaster. A second later, it made a little noise.-
[20:19] <Minaplo> ["Tink!"-
[20:20] <Minaplo> [The wall gave way, exploding outward in a shower of masonry, plaster and dust. At the same time, white smoke- military smoke- began exuding forth from the table, shrouding the area even moreso.]
[20:23] * Yanmei cried out, which was a mistake because it only got her a mouthful of dust and coughing fit. She cupped her hands over her mouth and nose, struggling to recover.
[20:24] <Minaplo> [There was gunfire- the S2 agents had fired- someone cried out in pain…-
[20:25] <Minaplo> [The smoke cleared about fifteen seconds later. Many of the goons had hit the deck, and Don Parrino- who had made a dash for the hole in the wall- had been shot in the arm. He cradled it, leaning against the wall.-
[20:25] <Minaplo> [Hannelore reached out and grabbed Yanmei's shoulder. "Are you alright?"]
[20:27] * Yanmei gazed at her a moment and nodded. "Y-yeah," she rasped. "What about you?"
[20:27] <Minaplo> ["I'm fine." Her hair was a bit of a mess, but she hardly cared. "We should go-"-
[20:27] <Minaplo> [There was a cry of absolute outrage from the back of the restaurant. Apparently the arrogant head chef had found out what was happening.]
[20:28] * Yanmei winced at that. "Yeah," she agreed. "Let's get out of here. Quickly!"
[20:31] <Minaplo> [The S2 agents moved in to form a guard around the two of them. Quickly and hastily they were ushered out…-
[20:31] <Minaplo> [Screams of rage followed them as they left. The chef was furious.-
[20:31] <Minaplo> [Apparently the food was worth far, far more than the wall.]

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