He Said She S The Real Deal Alright Isabelle

[13:33] <Yanmei> Tea time. And Yanmei was dressed as well as she could for such an occassion, in a modest emerald-colored dress with long sleeves and a striking spiderweb-like pattern near the bottom of the skirt. She emerged from her cab, gazing up at the massive estate spread out beyond the iron gate entrance. She… would probably never get used to this place. The sheer size of it…
[13:35] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Just like last time, there was someone waiting for her- a woman in a plain blue dress, who bowed as Yanmei stepped out of the taxi. "Mademoiselle Zhang. Welcome back."]
[13:39] <Yanmei> "Hello, Miss Lucille. How are things going today?" She stepped up to the maid with a smile, bobbing her head in a greeting.
[13:45] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["They’re fine. There are many guests here today." The maid opened the gate for Yanmei.]
[13:47] <Yanmei> "Ah? More company?" Yanmei was curious now. Gripping her clutch purse, she prepared to follow her. "I hope they haven't been keeping you too busy…"
[13:49] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Not really." Lucille smiled a little, and started walking slowly towards the door. "The President is here, as are two others: the Bellamies."]
[13:51] * Yanmei froze in her tracks for a moment. "The Bellamies." Maybe she had misheard. Oh god, let her have misheard…
[13:56] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Yes. Along with their child. A little girl. She is rather well-behaved for an infant."]
[13:59] <Yanmei> "Their… little girl, too." She could run away. But what sort of impression would she make by leaving? "I see. I will be very glad to meet them." It took effort… but she made herself continue, following Lucille.
[14:01] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Lucille led Yanmei up the steps, through the hall… Their footsteps echoed off the hard floor.-
[14:02] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [They came to a closed door, behind which Yanmei could hear voices.]
[14:06] * Yanmei … steeled herself. Deep breath. She had done what she had to do, and she couldn’t regret it now. Even if they hated her, wasn't facing them with dignity the least she could do? She exhaled, uttered a smiling thank you to her guide, and then knocked lightly.
[14:15] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> A familiar voice. "Come in!"
[14:16] <Yanmei> "Monsieur de Orleans!" She swept into the room, all smiles. "It’s been a long time. Thank you for having me."
[14:23] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Ah, Yanmei!" The old man looked as jovial as ever, sitting at the table, a cup of tea in his hand. "Please join us."-
[14:24] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [There were other people present. President Mazarin gave Yanmei a nod. "Fine to see you again."-
[14:24] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [And two teenagers. One a thin, wiry tall boy with brown hair to his shoulders and a slightly pinched face; the other a girl with long blonde hair. The boy had been pushing a pram back and forth, but he froze now, staring at Yanmei. "Whoa."]
[14:30] <Yanmei> "Thank you. I believe I will." She did as requested, sliding into a chair, and offering the President of France a grin and wink. The reaction from the boy suggested that… the couple were just as startled about this as she was. "Mr and Mrs Bellamy." She switched to English. It would be easier for them to understand, right? "Please allow me to welcome you to Paris-2. Have you just arrived recently?"
[14:32] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["T-That’s right." Said the girl.-
[14:32] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["…" The boy stared at her narrowly, walking over to her and bending down to peer at her face. "You’re Zhang Yanmei, huh."]
[14:37] <Yanmei> She would not look uncomfortable. She -refused- to look uncomfortable. God, she was uncomfortable… "Yes." She gazed back at him, holding her ground. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
[14:39] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [He scrutinised her, his eyes narrowing to mere slits… Then leaned back. "She’s the real deal alright, Isabelle!" Quickly, he grabbed a napkin off the table and thrust it at Yanmei.-
[14:39] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Can I have your autograph?!"]
[14:45] <Yanmei> "Er." A few seconds longer than usual to switch gears. She chuckled, a note of relief just barely wrapped up in it. "You absolutely can!" She dug through her purse for a pen. "It feels a little strange being asked that by a collegue, though? But then, I guess I’m making assumptions about what happened to bring you here…"
[14:51] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["A colleague." He grinned. "D’you hear that, Isabelle?"-
[14:51] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Yes, Adrian." Said the girl, smiling over at Yanmei. "Er. I’m Isabelle. This is Adrian. We're supposed to be new pilots? But…" She looked over at de Orleans.-
[14:52] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Mr. de Orleans said no one knew except him and a few others. Did he tell you?"]
[15:01] <Yanmei> "Let’s just say that I have a bit of an information network going," she smiled, resisting the urge to glance at de Orleans and watch his expression. "It's pretty small, though? But paying attention to new pilots is of particular interest to me. I remember what it was like to be new at this…"
[15:03] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["An information network?!" Asked Adrian, his eyes wide. "Whoa! You have spies and everything, don’t you? It's the maid, isn't it?!"-
[15:04] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Chill, Adrian. I know you’re nervous-"-
[15:04] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["I’m not nervous!"]
[15:11] <Yanmei> "Heh heh." This was going to be a pretty lively discussion, wasn't it? "Well, nevermind about the spy maids. Have you been staying here, or is NERV setting you up with lodging? Maybe we could hang out a little at work."
[15:14] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["They gave us an apartmen awhile ago, but it was destroyed, so Mr. de Orleans is letting us stay with him." Said Isabelle.-
[15:15] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Ah yes." The dry voice of the President. "I am glad I’m not part of the civic bureaucracy of Paris-2. They're being worked so hard they've almost stopped being the miserable bloodsuckers they are."]
[15:18] <Yanmei> "Ah. The last fight was pretty… out of hand, huh?" Yanmei sighed. "Sorry about that, Mr President. You too." She glanced from him to the couple. "It's no excuse, but the Angel surprised us a few times and really went to town wrecking the cityscape."
[15:23] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["That it did. I cannot really blame -you- for it, Zhang, because in all honesty you dealt with it fairly quickly." Said the President, waving away her apology.-
[15:24] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I saw that. It was pretty wild." Said Isabelle. "What’s it… Like?"]
[15:28] <Yanmei> "It's… hard to put into words. It seems like it's different for each pilot. For some it's a rush of power, for others it's terrifying. For others still, it's a chance to show what they're made of. For me, at least, combat is just about following orders and the distractions that make it hard to do so. Like being shot at with beams of superheated energy." She smiled serenely.
[15:36] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Whoa." Murmured Adrian. "You’re a real hardcore go-get-em terminator, huh?"-
[15:36] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Isabelle was eyeing Yanmei critically, as if weighing up what she said.]
[15:39] <Yanmei> "It’s not that, exactly." Yanmei tilted her head a little. "It's just that paying attention to your Operations Director and his strategies make the difference between life and death a lot of the time. Teamwork, too, which is usually factored into those strategies, but sometimes you have to do it on the fly. Communication disruptions are really obnoxious…"
[15:41] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["I bet you panic pretty bad." Said Isabelle.]
[15:42] <Yanmei> "…" She did -not- just say that. Yanmei blinked at her. "What makes you say that?"
[15:44] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Isabelle shrugged a little. "Soldiers often tend to panic when they’re cut off from command. I can't imagine it's much easier fighting a giant monster."]
[15:50] <Yanmei> "It's not," she admitted. Now it was her turned to weigh Isabelle's words carefully. "But somehow or another, we've pulled through even when it happens. And speaking of command… Commander Ginevre Fontaine has been mysteriously scarce for a while now. I want to believe that it was because she personally escorted the three of you here, but…"
[15:58] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "I hear she’s been busy overseeing NERV's branch in Algeria." Said de Orleans.-
[15:58] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Hey, that’s where we're going, right?" Asked Adrian.]
[16:01] <Yanmei> "Is that so? Maybe you'll cross paths with her once you're there. I know her son also requested a transfer to that facility, so you'll probably see him around, at least."
[16:01] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Hey! That reminds me!" Adrian grabbed Yanmei’s shoulder. "Hey, you should have a look at my little girl~"]
[16:04] <Yanmei> "Well, sure!" Yanmei beamed at him. "I bet she's a beautiful kid."
[16:06] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["The beautifulest!" Said Adrian proudly. "Is that a word? Aw, heck, who cares! Come on!" He grabbed the pram, turning it slightly so Yanmei could see.-
[16:06] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [A baby girl, no older than 1 year, in a pink one-piece, asleep, a little toy bear tucked under an arm.]
[16:09] <Yanmei> "Awww… she really is! Whether that’s a word or not?" She smiled, first down at the little baby, and then at her parents in turn. "You must be really proud."
[16:16] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Her name is Elizabeth." Said Isabelle gently.-
[16:16] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["We sure as hell are. It hasn’t been easy, let me tell you." Said Adrian cheerfully.]
[16:21] <Yanmei> "How old is she? Elizabeth… it's a pretty elegant name!"
[16:24] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Ten months. And thanks!" Said Adrian. "It was my ma’s name."]
[16:28] <Yanmei> "It's a long story, but the name of my firstborn has already been decided somehow," she chuckled. "Though that probably won't happen for a while now. It's a little weird sounding, though?" Her gaze strafed over to Mazarin, and her smile broadened with a little hint of mischief. "I bet this is bringing up memories for certain people of this group, though~ Mr. President is a pretty devoted dad too."
[16:39] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["That’s true. I have a daughter of my own. Henriette. It's pretty sappy to say, but she's my pride and joy." Said Mazarin.-
[16:40] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Hah! Don’t worry, Mr. Pres! Lizzie's my pride too." Said Adrian, grinning.-
[16:40] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Isabelle turned to Yanmei. "We’ve tried to do our best." She said. "It's… A real mess to raise a kid like this…"]
[16:43] <Yanmei> "Has NERV been pretty supportive so far, at least?" she sounded a touch worried about that, actually.
[16:44] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["NERV’s the only reason we've been able to stay alive." Said Adrian, giving Yanmei a thumbs up. "Without them we'd be starving on the streets-"-
[16:44] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Or killed by a gang." Muttered Isabelle darkly. "Or drafted into a Lib Squad."]
[16:51] <Yanmei> There was… a surge of something akin to relief at that. Not -complete- relief, because the alternative for these two and their baby was worse than she had imagined. "It’s pretty demanding work. It also sounds like it's darn well worth it. Listen." She put a hand to her chest. "I don't know how much pull I have in Algeria, but I'd be happy to help you guys-
[16:53] <Yanmei> with anything you need while you're visiting. Monsieur de Orleans is probably such a good host that I'm not sure how much difference it would make, but I'd like to offer all the same."
[16:53] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Isabelle nodded once. "It’s appreciated-"-
[16:54] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [… Adrian was a lot more responsive. "-Really-? That’d be awesome! We have a lot we have to learn, and de Orleans is fantastic but he's not a pilot, you know? You can show us the ropes and everything!"]
[16:57] <Yanmei> "Ah? Show you how to pilot?" It caught her off guard. She deliberated for a moment. "Well, I can show you some things. Maybe connect you with a scientist who can describe AT Field Manipulation a bit better than I can. Maybe… a tour of the Paris Headquarters too?"
[16:59] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["-The- Geofront? What’s it like?!"]
[17:00] <Yanmei> "Big. Really really Big."
[17:00] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["-How- big?"]
[17:11] <Yanmei> "Unfathomably big. I don’t know how many levels there are to it, but the elevators take ages to get anywhere. There is just about anything you could imagine there as well, even areas devoted to agriculture."
[17:12] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Agriculture?"-
[17:12] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["That must be in case the city’s destroyed and the Geofront's besieged." Said Isabelle. "What're the staff like?"]
[17:18] <Yanmei> "All over the place. You have bridge operators who place bets during fights, and gruff professional millitary types, and scientists with their heads stuck in the clouds. A real mixed bag." A moment of quiet reflection. "I wouldn't say that everyone's close. Not by a longshot. Even disagreements among pilots is pretty frequent these days. However~" Yanmei stretched a little,
[17:18] <Yanmei> "When it comes down to it, we can all pull ourselves together -fast-. Giant monsters are an excellent reason to put differences aside, after all."
[17:20] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["So you’re stickin' together where it counts, huh?"]
[17:20] <Yanmei> "Exactly. We've no choice to."
[17:22] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Well. We don’t have to worry about that, do we, honey?" Asked Adrian, draping his arms around Isabelle and grinning.-
[17:22] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["No, we don’t." Said Isabelle, kissing him on the cheek.]
[17:29] <Yanmei> They were so… different. But maybe that was why they would work really well together, like complementary colors on the same art piece. They were… really lucky.
[17:31] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Adrian." de Orleans smiled. "Didn’t you ask Lucille about dinner awhile ago?"-
[17:32] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Oh! Oh yeah, that’s right, she asked me for help…"-
[17:34] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Why don’t you and Isabelle go help together? I hear you're both fairly accomplished at cooking…"-
[17:34] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Hey, that’s a great idea." Said Adrian. "Why don't we-" "… Heh, sure."-
[17:34] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Adrian grinned at Yanmei. "It was fun meeting you! And you too, Mr. Prez."]
[17:36] <Yanmei> "The pleasure was mine," she smiled back, and then shifted that same smile to Isabelle. "I’ll phone later about the tour, okay?"
[17:37] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Hah, sure!" He grinned, and Isabelle stood up, taking ahold of the pram.-
[17:37] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I’ll see you around, Yanmei."]
[17:37] <Yanmei> "Bye for now!" She saw the family off with a cheerful little wave.
[17:39] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [They waved back, and then… Were out.-
[17:39] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "So. What do you think?"
[17:41] <Yanmei> "They seemed pretty confident about things. Excited, too." Was that how it was to -want- to work as a pilot? She smiled wryly. "They made me feel like an old-timer, somehow."
[17:42] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "A veteran of piloting, hm?" Asked de Orleans.-
[17:42] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["You certainly are far more experienced. You are essentially a teacher to the new recruits." Said Mazarin.]
[17:45] <Yanmei> "I’ll try my best, of course. Three years already. One year, since the attacks started. It's hard to belive that it's been that long."
[17:46] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Let us hope the rest of the years pass by without too much trouble." Said de Orleans.-
[17:46] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "That said. There is something I wished to discuss with you today."
[17:48] <Yanmei> "Yes?" She glanced between him and Mazarin. Curious.
[17:48] * Gilles`de`Orleans patted something on the table. A folder.-
[17:49] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "EVA-08 is nearing completion, although it’s still a good few months away yet. However, the pilot selection rigmarole has already begun." de Orleans pushed the folder across the table.
[17:53] <Yanmei> "Already, has it?" Yanmei reached for the folder. If NERV-Japan's projects meant anything, this would be the last pilot selection meeting, wouldn't it? She flipped it open quickly, a sharp motion, to get the suspense over with.
[17:53] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "This is the next candidate we’ll be considering."-
[17:54] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [A young French-Chinese boy with blue eyes, blonde hair- a gentle, lovely face Yanmei knew all too well. Isaiah.]
[17:57] * Yanmei stopped breathing for a moment. When she started up again, it was actually a little painful. So. So it finally happened. She made as if to close the folder again, slowly. "I… see."
[17:58] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "The candidate hearing is on the 15th of March. The Instrumentality Committee requests your attendance."
[18:00] <Yanmei> "Me?" A little too much of a coincidence, wasn’t it? She gazed up at de Orleans in particular.
[18:01] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "That’s right. As you know, every hearing involves someone close to the candidate being subjected to a gauntlet of questions by the Committee, in conjunction with the heads of the three largest NERV branches. You are believed to be the person most perfectly suited to that."
[18:06] <Yanmei> "…" She already knew those things, but… she shook her head mentally, trying to clear it. "Yes, of course. I'll be prepared for the 15th, then. May I ask what your current thoughts on the candidate are, Monsieur de Orleans?"
[18:08] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "An intelligent young man who is surprisingly spirited despite his slightly unassuming form…" de Orleans tapped his fingers together.-
[18:09] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "If he is chosen, he’ll be assigned to Boston, along with the Prototype Mass Production Pilot and another of that series. Since he has… Well, history with them, he'll probably gel well with his teammates."
[18:10] <Yanmei> Fucking Ikaris.-
[18:11] <Yanmei> But Yanmei was busy scrunitizing de Orleans now, searching for any hint of an equivalant of an encouraging wink. "…"
[18:12] * Gilles‘de`Orleans offered no reassuring wink, or soft smile. His face was gentle, but lined with tiredness and a weary sort of sorrow.-
[18:13] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Mazarin was quiet, watching them both.]
[18:19] <Yanmei> That bad… of course things were this bad. Her eyes had hardened, not at him in particular, but something not there in the room with them. "Thank you for the news. This is confidential information, I presume? I won’t let him know about it."
[18:22] * Gilles‘de`Orleans nodded. "The candidate will not be informed until a week before the proceeding. He’ll be in attendance, although he won't be participating personally."
[18:24] <Yanmei> "H-he'll be listening to everything said?" Her stare turned confused. "That… hasn't happened before, has it? Why now?"
[18:25] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Fontaine requested that he have the right to hear the proceedings."
[18:31] <Yanmei> Something in her stare was suddenly set ablaze, and her words shook between the struggle of properness against rage. "Of course. Of course, she did. Why wouldn’t she…"
[18:31] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["This must be something of a shock." Said Mazarin.]
[18:34] <Yanmei> "Y-yes. A shock. You could say that." She tried to will the red mist away and made slow but steady progress. Finally, she could see the two gentlemen in front of her again, however dimly. "Would… it be rude of me to excuse myself?"
[18:35] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Of course not." Said de Orleans kindly.-
[18:35] <Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Why don’t I take you home? We can talk on the way." Said Mazarin.]
[18:36] <Yanmei> "You don't mind?" she blinked up at Mazarn, seeing him a little more clearly.
[18:36] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Of course I don’t."]
[18:38] <Yanmei> "Then… I'll take you up on your offer." She started to stand, and she bowed to de Orleans in parting. "Thanks again for having me over."
[18:39] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "You light this house up whenever you grace it, Yanmei." Said de Orleans, chuckling.-
[18:39] <Gilles`de`Orleans> [Mazarin stood. "Thank you for the tea."]
[12:39] <Mazarin> [15 minutes later, Yanmei would find herself in the back seat of Mazarin’s car- shiny and black, but a little understated, especially compared to the President's office.-
[12:40] * Mazarin was silent, staring out the window. He was in the back too, of course.
[12:45] * Yanmei was also unusually quiet, hands in lap, her gaze settled mindlessly on her own window. For a time, that is. "It was really a surprise to find you at Gilles de Orleans' home today. Are the two of you friends?"
[12:46] <Mazarin> "Let's say acquaintances." Said Mazarin quietly.
[12:48] <Yanmei> "I see." She hadn't broken eye contact with the window. "He's taught me many things recently."
[12:52] <Mazarin> "Oh?"
[12:56] <Yanmei> "Yes. But now he might not be able to give me much advice."
[12:56] <Mazarin> "On saving Gabriel-Wei?"
[12:57] <Yanmei> "That's right. Because of his position."
[12:58] * Mazarin nodded slowly. "Yes. Fortunately, he took precautions." Mazarin looked over at her now.-
[12:58] <Mazarin> "It wasn't on a whim that de Orleans invited both you and I to his chateau."
[13:01] <Yanmei> Yanmei's reflection in the glass reacted faintly. Blink. Slight movement of the lips before speaking. "…I thought it was a little too much of a coincidence, between your presence and the news he broke."
[13:02] <Mazarin> "You're as sharp as ever." Said Mazarin solemnly. "de Orleans cannot help you, but he can help me help you. The truth is, he doesn't want to do this."
[13:07] <Yanmei> "No, probably not," she agreed. "But what about you? With our previous conversations, I had the impression that you wouldn't help either."
[13:12] <Mazarin> "In truth, I probably shouldn't." Said Mazarin in agreement. "But have you ever been to a courtroom, Yanmei?"
[13:13] * Yanmei shook her head.
[13:17] <Mazarin> "Well. I have." He paused. "Have you ever wondered why lawyers defend people who are charged of awful crimes, like murderers or rapists? Cases where the evidence is so stacked against the person that to defend them is impossible, but they do it anyway?"
[13:18] <Yanmei> "It's just part of the job, isn't it?" she guessed. Her voice was vaguely puzzled.
[13:19] <Mazarin> "But what job is that? To defend anyone who'll pay you?"
[13:22] <Yanmei> "I don't know. Maybe there's some sort of lawyer's duty wrapped up in it too. Like the way that police and civil military units have a duty to protect the public?"
[13:23] * Mazarin nodded.-
[13:25] <Mazarin> "Lawyers defend suspects because everyone has the right to a fair trial, no matter what they've done- and furthermore, the courts are supposed to uphold the truth, not be an arena where the skilled lawyer wins. If both sides, prosecution and defense, have competent lawyers, then whatever the result is the product of the truth, and nothing else." Mazarin stared at Yanmei.-
[13:27] <Mazarin> "Lawyers fight the unwinnable battles because they ought to be fought. You're fighting a battle here and the odds are so unbalanced that you have almost no hope of winning." He frowned. "I don't think the Committee should just get what they want because they're powerful and you're not. I'm not here to take one side over the other: I'm here to ensure that the two sides are as equal as possible."
[13:34] * Yanmei looked at him at last, her eyes going round with surprise. She had to remind herself that someone calling the Committee unfair and overpowered shouldn't be too much of a shock, especially considering his own political position. It was more surprising that someone was willing to do something about it, even in a removed symbolic fashion.-
[13:35] <Yanmei> "Um… thank you. Even if you're not taking sides, it means a lot."
[13:38] * Mazarin smiled.-
[13:38] <Mazarin> "The first problem you have is that of the Committee majority."
[13:41] <Yanmei> "I know a little about them from de Orleans. Their personalities make it seem as if they'll be difficult to sway, though."
[13:42] <Mazarin> "Yes, they will be." Said Mazarin. "Eight people sit on the council to select a pilot. Five of them are Committee members, and the Committee always- -always- vote the same way."
[13:44] <Yanmei> "What should I do?"
[13:44] <Mazarin> "Assassinate them." Said Mazarin.
[13:45] * Yanmei stared blankly.
[13:45] <Mazarin> "That was a joke."
[13:46] <Yanmei> An expression of vague disappointment crossed Yanmei's face… but she quickly covered it with a chuckle. "Heh. You had me going there for a minute!"
[13:47] <Mazarin> "Yes. I find assassination jokes are the best way to get us in the mindset to utterly ruin a person." Mazarin smiled dangerously.-
[13:49] <Mazarin> "The truth is, however, that the Committee are unbribable, cannot be blackmailed, injured, threatened or killed by you or me. Out of the five of them, four of them don't know you. That leaves us with de Orleans."
[13:53] <Yanmei> "He won't try to stay impartial during this? It's true that he and I are friends, but wouldn't he be criticized for letting a personal relationship effect his job?"
[13:54] <Mazarin> "Unfortunately, the truth is he will almost certainly remain impartial, but…" Mazarin tapped his fingers against the windowsil.-
[13:55] <Mazarin> "… The truth is, the Committee members are all immune to criticism, even from each other."
[13:59] <Yanmei> "So… say we manage to convince him fairly. That still leaves the other four Committee members, unless de Orleans manages to persuade them before the final vote or I find a way to pander to each of them in a way that effects how they'll vote. From what you said, however, the latter seems unlikely."
[14:03] <Mazarin> "Yes." Said Mazarin quietly. "You won't be able to persuade the rest of the Committee. Luckily you won't need to."
[14:09] <Yanmei> "So he'll be enough then? And force of voting habits, I suppose, if they all tend to cast the same vote anyway."
[14:09] * Mazarin shakes his head.-
[14:10] <Mazarin> "Eight people in the council. If you persuade one of the Committee- de Orleans- and persuade the three NERV Directors, it'll be a 4-4 split, and the motion will fail."
[14:13] * Yanmei sagged a little at that. "Fontaine and Ikari will never vote against the motion. I'm almost sure that one of them had a hand in pushing for it in the first place."
[14:13] <Mazarin> "Ikari will."
[14:15] * Yanmei chuckled bitterly. "Why is that?"
[14:16] <Mazarin> "de Orleans told me a secret." Said Mazarin. "Ikari wants Isaiah as a pilot- but not for 08. He wants him as a backup for 05. He'll challenge the motion."
[14:19] <Yanmei> "Not the purest of motivations, but it's better than nothing," she sighed. "Meir seems like he won't be a problem, given that Isaiah is a civilian and has suffered combat-related trauma already. Fontaine, though…"
[14:19] <Mazarin> "Fontaine is tricky." Said Mazarin. "She's pragmatic, but she has her weaknesses we can exploit."
[14:22] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
[14:23] <Mazarin> "She has her bouts of… Gentleness." Said Mazarin. "Moments where she'll be sympathetic to your cause before she crushes the impulse down." He frowned slightly.-
[14:23] <Mazarin> "She also loathes Mary Caine."
[14:25] <Yanmei> "Yes, I'd heard about their conflicts before. I just don't know how to use it just yet."
[14:25] <Mazarin> "You and I should speak to her. Together."
[14:26] <Yanmei> "Mary Caine?" Yanmei's head jerked back ever so slightly. "Or Fontaine?"
[14:26] <Mazarin> "Fontaine." Mazarin smirked. "I'm not yet convinced that Mary Caine -isn't- a robot."
[14:28] * Yanmei cracked a smile at that. The prospect of talking to Fontaine prevented it from growing very large, however. "Is that a good idea? She and I have never really gotten along either."
[14:31] <Mazarin> "I'll be there to make sure you both behave."
[14:35] <Yanmei> "Hm." Doubt lingered. Still… "I'll trust you on this Mr. President. You know her better than I do, so…"
[14:36] * Mazarin nodded. "That said, she might not work with us. We need to figure out a way to make her see that this is a bad idea. Any thoughts?"
[14:39] <Yanmei> "I could give a long list of why it's a bad idea. I don't know if it's anything -she'd- care about… Isaiah's emotional and mental state, for example, and the difficult past he's had until now."
[14:39] <Mazarin> "Hm, no. Those won't sustain it. Anything else?"
[14:47] <Yanmei> "…before, in a previous hearing, she voted against a motion because she thought it was cruel to remove a child from a situation in which they were thriving to place them in another situation that they had absolutely no desire for. Isaiah is not that different."
[14:48] <Mazarin> "Indeed?" An arched eyebrow of surprise. "Perhaps we can use that to our advantage."
[14:50] <Yanmei> "Yes." Yanmei nodded. "How did de Orleans phrase it? Ah… it was a matter of that particular child not having a grand enough ambition to take advantage of the position being offered to them."
[14:51] <Mazarin> "And what are Isaiah's ambitions?"
[14:52] <Yanmei> "He wants to get married and have a family." Yanmei glanced out the back window, even though de Orleans' mansion was long gone.
[14:53] <Mazarin> "I see." Murmured Mazarin.-
[14:53] <Mazarin> "Well, if there was ever an ambition that was ill-suited for an Eva pilot, -and- likely to tempt the kernal of sympathy in Fontaine's heart, it'd be that. I remember when her own ambitions were identical."
[14:54] <Yanmei> "What, seriously? They were?"
[15:02] <Mazarin> "Oh yes." He smiled. "I told you she was far different as a youth, remember? She was a far gentler person with normal ambitions." His smile faded. "Her ambitions seemingly died when she discovered she was actually unable to have children."
[15:04] <Yanmei> "Unable? But… that doesn't make sense. Alexandre…"
[15:05] * Mazarin smiled coldly. "You forget who her husband was. Elisha Caine, the miracle worker. Gave her the impossible whilst simultaneously disdaining her ambitions as being too… Human. Too mundane."
[15:06] * Yanmei fell silent. She had a weird feeling. Like being back in Japan all over again.
[15:07] <Mazarin> "So no. Alexandre Fontaine is most certainly her biological son. I recall him as a child."
[15:08] <Yanmei> "Oh yeah? Before he was sent away, I take it."
[15:10] * Mazarin nodded. "Oh yes. He was quite a cheerful little boy. A little shy, a little quick to tears, but very smart, very kind. He had this teddybear… Actually, it was a teddybear I gave to Ginny when I met her, as a little girl herself. Alexandre the teddybear… I always wondered if she named him after the bear."
[15:14] * Yanmei snickered a little. Named after a child's toy instead of the other way around. If she poked fun at him for it, would he glare at her or would he stare in confusion?
[15:15] <Mazarin> "But indeed, that is something we might be able to use. She might still have a soft spot for such ambitions. And they're certainly not the kind of ambition Elisha Caine would approve."
[15:18] <Yanmei> "We should probably try to arrange a meeting as soon as possible, then. Should I alert you when she's back in town?"
[15:19] <Mazarin> "Oh, trust me." Said Mazarin sourly. "I'll know when she returns."
[15:22] <Yanmei> "Hm? That doesn't sound like the sort of tone you'd use if you were referring to a capable informaton network," Yanmei grinned a little. "Are you expecting a visit from -her- maybe?"
[15:23] <Mazarin> "In a manner of speaking."
[15:24] <Yanmei> "Then I'll leave it to you to set things up."
[15:25] * Mazarin nodded.-
[15:25] <Mazarin> [It wasn't long before the car came to a stop.-
[15:25] <Mazarin> "This is your block?"
[15:28] <Yanmei> "That's right." Yanmei unbuckled her seatbelt and reached for the door. "I can make it from here. Thank you very much for the lift… and the advice, too."
[15:29] <Mazarin> "Not an issue." He smiled. "Good luck, Yanmei."
[15:31] <Yanmei> "Thanks. I'll probably need it?" she offered a last smile before tugging at the handle and stepping out onto the pavement. "So long!"
[15:33] * Mazarin nodded to her.-
[15:33] <Mazarin> [… Shortly after, the car sped off.]
[15:36] <Yanmei> It wasn't long before Yanmei found erself staring up at her apartment building. She was supposed to go inside.-
[15:38] <Yanmei> But she knew who was probably home at the moment, helping himself to a quick lunch between shifts. She paled a little… and then backed off, hesitantly at first, but then turning and striding more boldly. She didn't know where she would go or how many hours she would be away, but she would need to collect herself before she saw him again.

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