He Said Survival Isn T The Be All And End All

[12:53] <Yanmei> Lunchtime~ But rather than eat at the cafeteria, a certain pilot made her way to a certain office, juggling cups of soup and two sandwiches. Her arms were a little too full to knock, so she called through the door. "Special delivery!"
[12:57] * Isaiah opened the door. "…?" He blinked. "Yanyan~ Come in!" He flung the door open, grinning. "Excellent. I was feeling pretty hungry."
[13:00] <Yanmei> "Glad I stopped by, then." She stepped in - cautious to look out for prowling and impatient wolves - and arranged the food on the boy's desk. Lately, she had had reasons to avoid him, but she could never do it for very long. Was it habit that compelled her to do this, or…? Her thought trailed off, and she gazed at him out of the corner of her eye.
[13:01] <Isaiah> [Lupe padded over to Yanmei. He sat, staring up at her expectantly. Sniff.-
[13:02] <Isaiah> "So am I. It's been a pretty slow day." He sat down, giving her a big grin, and grabbing a cup of soup. "You've been pretty busy recently."
[13:06] <Yanmei> "Yeah, I'm sorry about that." She broke a sandwich in half and offered some to Lupe. It was roast beef. "The new pilots are around, so I was helping them out. Plus all those tests at school… ugh."
[13:06] <Isaiah> [Lupe eyed the sandwich, then snapped it out of Yanmei's hands…!-
[13:06] <Isaiah> "Yeah? What are they like?"
[13:10] * Yanmei jumped slightly! She never could get used to that. "They're okay. The wife is… really cool. Really smart. And the husband acts like a loud goof, but he's talented too. With computers." She smiled at him. "You'll probably meet them soon."
[13:10] <Isaiah> "Hehehe. I'm looking forward to it. What about the baby?"
[13:12] <Yanmei> "Adorable! You have to see her to believe it. Maybe you could ask them to babysit sometime~"
[13:12] <Isaiah> "I'd like that." Said Isaiah with a grin. "Speaking of which. How's Rosalie?"
[13:16] <Yanmei> "Energetic. She's aleady turning into a good cook." Yanmei smiled softly. "I feel a bit better knowing she can take care of herself."
[13:16] * Isaiah smiles. "You know… I think she's good for you."
[13:17] <Yanmei> "Eh?" Yanmei looked up in surprise.
[13:19] * Isaiah nodded. "Being there for her will make you feel better about yourself, trust me."
[13:22] <Yanmei> "But, you know, I already feel pretty good about myself," she grinned. "What about you and your boy? Rene?"
[13:24] <Isaiah> "Ah…" Isaiah's face became a little troubled. "He's a very nice boy. Bullied, though."
[13:26] <Yanmei> "He's a little scrawny," she sighed. "That's the way kids are sometimes."
[13:28] <Isaiah> "Yeah." Muttered Isaiah. "It's not fair- I've tried to talk to him about ways of getting around the problem."
[13:28] <Yanmei> "Like how?"
[13:31] <Isaiah> "Making friends. Trying to just ignore them, or… Coming to get me." He admitted.
[13:31] <Yanmei> "You'd be a good protector," Yanmei smiled.
[13:34] <Isaiah> "…" Isaiah smiled contentedly. He was quiet, enjoying the moment.-
[13:34] <Isaiah> "Oh. Guess who rang today."
[13:35] <Yanmei> "Who would that be?" Yanmei leaned against a wall, the other half of her sandwich dangling from one hand, forgotten.
[13:36] <Isaiah> "Emma Rousseau. You remember her, right? Our fencing teacher. She was really cool."
[13:36] <Yanmei> "Oh yeah… what's she up to these days?"
[13:37] <Isaiah> "University." Said Isaiah. "She had a message for you, though."
[13:38] <Yanmei> "For me?" Yanmei's brow wrinkled a bit in puzzlement.
[13:39] <Isaiah> "Yeah. She's moved out and her budget's a little tight." Isaiah smiles. "She also may have heard that you required a tutor for some subjects…"
[13:40] <Yanmei> "!" Yanmei rubbed her forehead. "… how the heck did she find out about that?"
[13:41] <Isaiah> "My money's on a certain captain."
[13:45] <Yanmei> "Marianne…" Yanmei looked down a moment, her expression changing as if she wasn't sure whether to smile or look annoyed. "Well, if we can help each other out, we may as well? Did she leave a number?"
[13:46] <Isaiah> "Yeah, she did." Said Isaiah, with a smile. He starts sipping at the soup now, idly picking up an envelope in his inbox.
[13:48] <Yanmei> "Thank you for passing things along," she added. "You're always looking out for me too."
[13:49] <Isaiah> "Of course." Said Isaiah with a fond smile. "Why wouldn't I? I love you." A letter-opener appeared in his hand as he opened the envelope.
[13:52] <Yanmei> "I just… appreciate it. A lot."
[13:54] * Isaiah withdrew the letter from within the envelope. "Hehehe. You're cute when you're like this." He says with a smile, his eyes flicking towards the letter now.
[13:57] <Yanmei> "Cute, huh?" she muttered, amused. It was funny, him of all people calling her that.
[13:58] <Isaiah> "Y…" Whatever he was about to say faltered and trailed off as he read the letter.
[13:58] <Yanmei> "…?" Yanmei pushed off the wall, staring. "Isaiah?"
[13:59] <Isaiah> "…" He went pale. "Pilot candidacy hearing… 15th of March…"
[14:01] <Yanmei> "…" So it really was that. She looked away again, pained, miserable.
[14:02] <Isaiah> "Zhang Yanmei in attendance to… Give evidence as to the pilot's applicability…"
[14:05] * Yanmei just stood there. In her mind, she ad gone over things to say at this moment, but she couldn't find anything now that it was really here. Words of reassurance, even after her failures… she balled her hands into fists.
[14:07] * Isaiah folded the letter up and threw it back onto the desk with a shaky hand. "B-beware the ides of March, huh?" He said with a very uncertain little attempt at a reassuring laugh.
[14:11] * Yanmei gave the barest hint of a smile, and then moved forward a little bit. "Don't give up, okay?"
[14:14] * Isaiah looks up at Yanmei. "I-I… I won't." He says, shaking a little, but his gaze is determined. "If… If this motion passes, they'll send me away. To Boston. And we'll be separated…"
[14:20] <Yanmei> "I've been working hard." Yanmei shook her head. "As hard as I can to make sure it doesn't happen. But it's more than being seperated. It's being a pilot, too. It's having people decide that one their own, and throwing you into the job without giving you a way out! It's…" A mix of fury and dismay, and outright pain shone in her eyes.
[14:21] <Yanmei> ^on their own
[14:22] * Isaiah stood up, quickly walking around the desk and over to Yanmei. He looked her in the eye, put his hands on her shoulders. "It's not going to happen, Yanyan." He said, shakily, but bravely. "It -won't-."
[14:27] <Yanmei> "No. It won't." She returned his gaze with a determined one, a furious one. "We'll stop them."
[14:30] <Isaiah> "We will." He pulled her towards him, resting his forehead against her's. "We need to speak to her."
[14:33] <Yanmei> "You want to?!" Surprised caused a little skip in her anger. But only a little one. "If she's going to do something like that, she won't do it without looking into the face of the person she's trying to sacrifice." She gently caught his wrist. "Let's do it. Right now."
[14:39] <Isaiah> "Right." Said Isaiah, nodding firmly. "Be back in a moment, Lupe."
[14:42] * Yanmei led the way to the elevator. Once the doors closed, she told him what had happened before, in her previous conversation with Fontaine. She fought back her nerves now, staring at the doors, waiting for them to open. "She's a tough one."
[14:43] <Isaiah> "Then we have to be tougher." He took her hand in his, and held it.
[14:46] * Yanmei nodded, and threw her head back, bracing herself with a firm expression.
[14:46] <Isaiah> [The elevator doors opened.-
[14:47] <Isaiah> [The massive office spread out in front of Yanmei and Isaiah, black tiles below, tiles above, those wide, sloped windows… Glimmering, arcane lights casting an ethereal light on the form of the Commander at her desk.]
[14:50] <Yanmei> Her first time in here. She had to pause at the decor… and then she stepped forward. "Hello, Commander. We meet again."
[14:54] <Isaiah> [Fontaine looked up, very slowly. "Zhang…" She paused. "Gabriel-Wei."-
[14:54] <Isaiah> "Commander Fontaine." He saluted.
[14:57] <Yanmei> "We hope we're not interrupting anything. It's just that we thought we'd have a little discussion."
[14:59] <Isaiah> ["…" Fontaine sighed. "Come in."]
[15:04] * Yanmei made the distance across the office, still holding Isaiah's hand. What was this place? Well, it didn't really matter. No matter where the discussion took place, it had to happen. "You may have gathered that the letter of notification came," she said, as they got nearer.
[15:06] <Isaiah> ["I assumed that to be the case. Please sit down, both of you."]
[15:13] * Yanmei did so, without hesitation. She glanced over at Isaiah.
[15:14] * Isaiah sat down as well. He was still holding Yanmei's hand.-
[15:14] <Isaiah> ["Are you here to try to convince me to change my mind?"]
[15:17] <Yanmei> "Naturally. But we also thought it was important to do something else at the same time."
[15:21] <Isaiah> ["What's that?"]
[15:23] <Yanmei> "If you're going to decide his future for him, the least you could do is listen to what he has to say about it. It's not like he'll be able to say anything at the hearing itself, after all."
[15:36] <Isaiah> ["It's only fair." Said Ginevre after a pause. She turned to Isaiah.-
[15:46] <Isaiah> "…" Isaiah took a deep breath. "Commander Fontaine. Before we begin, I want you to know that I understand that NERV's mandate is of the highest priority." He said. "I know that unless the Angels can be defeated, we won't have a world. And that… My ambitions, the things I want to do… Are meaningless in a dead world." His voice was quiet.
[15:47] * Yanmei kept quiet, simply watching and listening for now.
[15:48] <Isaiah> ["You're correct." Said Ginevre. "The hopes of one person are meaningless against the survival of our entire race. Yours. Mine. Yanmei's. For any person to elevate theirselves above that is not only utterly selfish, but also pointless."]
[15:52] <Yanmei> A flicker of resentment across her face. Yanmei, still, held her tongue.
[15:57] <Isaiah> "But…" He paused. "But survival isn't enough, Commander Fontaine. People… People can make a choice. Survival isn't the be-all and end-all, Commander Fontaine. You know. You've seen or heard people who have -chosen- to die, for an ideal, or something like that… Something greater than simply living another day." He looked down at his feet. "Once upon a time, Commander Fontaine, all I was was a boy who existed, nothing more. My life was one day after another with nothing to make it worthwhile. Dreams that seemed impossible to me, dead hopes… Loveless, lonely. There were days where I strongly considered the idea that it wasn't worth it, that living just for another day to live… Wasn't doing anything but hurting me."
[10:43] * Yanmei listened on, now a fair deal more sombered by his words.
[10:47] <Isaiah> [Commander Fontaine was quiet.-
[10:56] <Isaiah> "I found Yanmei, Commander Fontaine." Said Isaiah. "She gave me hope, and she gave me love. Happiness- a sense of what I wanted from the world, something beyond just living. I have a reason, now. And I realise that…" He shook his head. "People are made up by what they believe. Commander Fontaine…" He stared down at his feet before looking up. "If you make me a pilot, you're betraying humanity. You're safeguarding their survival by doing the wrong thing. You're sacrificing the collective soul of everyone on Earth- a life saved by the wrong means… Can that really be a life worth living?"
[11:02] <Yanmei> Well put. Yanmei waited for Fontaine's response now, biting her own tongue.
[11:04] <Isaiah> ["You're wrong, Mr. Gabriel-Wei." Said Commander Fontaine wearily.-
[11:04] <Isaiah> "… Am I?"-
[11:08] <Isaiah> ["The 'collective soul' of humanity has always demanded sacrifices of the individual, no matter who or what that individual is. From the very dawn of humanity, the soldier has been ordered to die, the serf ordered to work, the wise man ordered to teach, the guide ordered to lead." She said. "Society is and always has been a twisted tree nourished by the blood of those who die for it. Nothing has changed. If the pilots are to fight and die for that tree to grow, so be it."]
[11:17] <Yanmei> "There's a difference between those people, who were groomed for a role of self-sacrifice for humanity's sake, and us. We already -have- different futures that we were working for." Yanmei frowned. "In a system like this one, a pilot's decision to assume the role is more or less meaningless, as they can't refuse to begin with due to NERV's influence.-
[11:19] <Yanmei> "By extension, doesn't that remove any actual meaning from those sacrifices? Any pride for fighting for humanity's sake?"
[11:28] <Isaiah> ["Shouldn't fighting to save humanity be enough?"]
[11:35] <Yanmei> "Maybe. A person could adopt that as their reason to fight and carry on. But not everyone's the same. Not everyone is going to think that's enough. Some people need a more personal reason to survive. Humanity is… a faceless conceptualization after all, isn't it?"
[11:44] <Isaiah> [Fontaine eyed Yanmei. "It's not. It can be as simple as the person sitting next to you. You'd fight to protect your family, wouldn't you? Without asking. Do you-"-
[11:52] <Isaiah> "This isn't going anywhere." Isaiah stood up, his face taut with determination- and anger. "Commander Fontaine. You say you want to protect humanity, and I certainly don't want humanity to die out, but where's the choice? You don't -own- me, Commander Fontaine! I belong to myself! A person should be allowed to make a choice of their own free will. Taking that away from me… You're reducing me to a tool. Would you treat -everyone- like this? Just draft them up and throw them into war? When does it end, Commander? If you can treat one person as a tool, you can treat the entire species as one. And I refuse. I… I reject that!" He shouted, his voice loud and clear. "I don't -want- to pilot! All it'll do is break me. I don't have the talent for it. I don't have the mentality for it."-
[11:53] <Isaiah> His hand gripped tighter around Yanmei's. "Please, Commander. Please… All I want to do is be happy. All I want is to stay where I am, at Yanmei's side. I can still help protect humanity. I'm not abandoning it. But…" He bowed his head. "My place is -here-."
[12:00] * Yanmei gave Isaiah a wide-eyed blink. For once, she seemed to be the calmer of the two, or at least… a little more quieter. "There's… no tapdancing around it now. He's -right-. You don't give people a way out of it… the selection process doesn't even allow a potential pilot to say what they think about the job in person." Yanmei looked away, bitterly.-
[12:01] <Yanmei> " "We're not just pieces on a chessboard, or bodies to fill whatever plan you and the other Directors have concieved."
[12:05] <Isaiah> [Commander Fontaine stared at them both. She didn't say anything.]
[12:10] * Yanmei let the silence drift on for a time. It was uncomfortable, but she didn't break it because of that. It was because she wanted to add one more thing. "The late Atticus Nelson once described his life as a Neospartan - even as a graduate - as something like slavery." She forced herself to stare back, expecting to see rage there,-
[12:10] <Yanmei> the sort of rage that she'd seen during their chat in the Riviera all those months ago. "How many more people does that have to extend to?"
[12:13] <Isaiah> [Ginevre… Broke eye contact, looking down at her hands.-
[12:14] <Isaiah> ["Elisha wanted to free humanity. We both did." She murmured.]
[12:20] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei… frowned. She didn't know if she had it in her to be sympathetic to the lady. So instead she just listened.
[12:22] <Isaiah> ["I've given up so much, fought so much. Elisha… Gave everything he had, to become what he is." A moment of silence. "I thought that since he made the sacrifice, sacrifices in the name of our goal were necessary and required. But he made that choice of his own free will. I wanted to stop him. When he told me about it, my old dream of a family burned so painfully that I… I almost tried to stop him." She clasped her hands together. "I love him so much. I wanted him by my side."]
[12:30] <Yanmei> "They were important sacrifices, but… ones he made himself. You can't force someone to do the same without their consent." Yanmei looked -acutely- uncomfortable now. She looked down, almost fidgeting. "But there are still people who have to live with the effects from those decisions."
[12:34] <Isaiah> ["Yes." Said Ginevre. "The weight is -so- heavy. So heavy on my shoulders." She looked, for a second, very old…-
[12:35] <Isaiah> [But the moment passed. She looked up, her mask restored. "Please leave my office. I require time to myself."]
[12:36] <Yanmei> "We understand." Yanmei rose from her chair with a little half-bow. "Thank you for talking with us."
[12:37] * Isaiah rose as well.-
[12:37] <Isaiah> [Ginevre nodded to them both.]
[12:40] * Yanmei took the lead, heading back toward the elevator. She decided not to look back over her shoulder for the entire short journey.
[12:40] * Isaiah followed. He didn't look back either as the elevator doors closed.-
[12:41] * Isaiah took a deep breath.
[12:42] <Yanmei> "How do you feel?" she said quietly.
[12:43] <Isaiah> "Nervous." He let out his breath. "I don't know if what we did helped or not, but she seemed to be considering it, right?"
[12:48] <Yanmei> "Compared to our last meeting, it feels like an improvement." Yanmei sighed, leaning against a wall of the elevator. "It's all because of you…"
[12:50] * Isaiah shook his head. "I would never have been able to say what I did usually. I think…" He looked over at her, and smiled. "I don't think either of us had a chance to change her mind working alone."
[12:56] <Yanmei> "Maybe you're right." She seemed fairly exhausted now, though, despite the warm glance she gave him. "We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, there are one or two other people to still convince."
[12:58] * Isaiah nodded slowly. "It isn't going to be easy, huh?" He said. He walked over to her, running a hand through her hair. "Are you alright?"
[13:03] * Yanmei reached up and touched his hand with her own. "Don't you worry! Because of this, I feel more capable… more energized. We can make it work."
[13:08] <Isaiah> "We can." He smiled. "We have about a week and a half until the date… I -know- we can turn it around before then. If anyone can do it, it's you… And me."
[13:13] <Yanmei> "Yeah. It'll be no problem if it's us together." Still holding his hand, she patiently waited for the elevator to stop moving.
[13:19] <Isaiah> [Eventually, the elevator ground to a halt, the doors opening- both of them feeling a little lighter than they had when they'd first entered.]

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