In The Room Of A Fallen Hero

[17:09] <Dorian> [The command centre. Dorian is sitting at his usual post… His chair seems a little bulkier, for some reason. A little more streamlined, perhaps. Nevertheless, Vice-Commander Leon Thomas is sitting in the big Commander's chair. Aline Blanc has been summoned.]
[17:14] * Aline arrived, wearing a somewhat modest and unassuming blue dress and long white scarf, stepping calmly. Though… A lot of things in her head made her wonder just what she was summoned for! It was a mystery… Little was said, to boot.
[17:18] <Dorian> ["Aline~" Said Sophie, giggling at her from her console. She was very… Contrasted against Dorian and the VC, who were, it has to be noted, staring at a large holographic face- the President's face.-
[17:19] <Dorian> ["I promise the hearings won't take any longer than a few months." Said President Mazarin smoothly. "But do pass on my regards to the pilots. They're all an amazing example, and I will be inducting all of them into the Legion d'Honneur the moment I can pencil it into my schedule."-
[17:19] <Dorian> ["Shhh~" Said Sophie, putting a finger to her lips at Aline.]
[17:20] * Aline was remaining quiet! …Though she did quirk a brow at the President's offhand comment about her. She wasn't sure what the hearings were about though…
[17:21] <Dorian> [There was grumbling from the VC. "Turn it off, Major. We've seen this video eight times now and I'm -fairly sure- we don't need to see it again just for your benefit."-
[17:21] <Dorian> "Are you sure, sir? I'm sure, if we all saw it one more time, I'd be able to discern any hidden message the President might intend to express."-
[17:22] <Dorian> ["Quite sure!"]
[17:25] * Aline stared on, remaining silent, but… Observing. She did get the impression that, again, the tail end she was -meant- to see, but the rest… no, no, stay quiet until addressed! Due protocol.
[17:26] <Dorian> ["Sir, Aline's here." Said Sophie cheerfully.-
[17:26] <Dorian> "Hum? Ah." Dorian turned around, facing Aline. "Aline! I was hoping you'd show up."
[17:28] * Aline politely nodded. "Mm-hm, you or someone called me over, right? And I heard the specifically-pertaining-to-myself-and-the-other-pilots part of that recording so I think we can all give the Vice-Commander a respite!" A sort of smiling blush, at that. At least she was in high spirits.
[17:34] <Dorian> "Ah, yes. That." Dorian furrowed his brow. "Funnily enough, that -was- just a coincidence. You might not've heard. But the Commander's been arrested."
[17:35] * Aline broooowraised. "Eh? For what?" Unlike Sera, she hadn't been focused that well on the Imperative One business so wasn't able to guess it firsthand.
[17:36] <Dorian> ["For God's sake. Stop -saying- it like that, Dorian. She hasn't been arrested."-
[17:36] <Dorian> "Sir, please don't take away one of the joys of my life." Dorian slowly began spinning his wheelchair around in a circle. "The Commander's been arrested~ The Commander's been arrested~"-
[17:37] <Dorian> ["Oi." Leon Thomas sighed. "The President of France has charged Commander Fontaine with breaching NERV's Code of Conduct and Charter by allegedly misusing Imperative One, saying it wasn't needed. So she's having to deal with lots of hearings now before the International Justice Court."]
[17:39] * Aline tilted her head. "…But isn't the use of it based entirely on MAGI statistics, which were cited immediately before she declared it, in earshot of me and others?" She looked confused. "I mean, I can see why a national leader might be unamused at a risk analysis being all it takes to transfer control of his capital to a paramilitary organization, but… If that's the agreed parameter
[17:39] * Aline than isn't this not a violation of any such code?"
[17:46] <Dorian> ["Yes, it is." Said Leon. "Which is why the MAGI Supercomputers are going to be analysed for tampering."]
[17:49] * Aline siiiiighed, the sigh only a precociously brilliant teenager lamenting the behavior of adults could give. It was a rare privelidge. "She ceded it after the incident, her actions were entirely pragmatic and life-saving, and I'd trust the MAGI right until the moment someone could prove that, I dunno, it was secretly the Nth Angel. So this is just powermongering immaturity!" She huffed.
[17:49] * Aline "Like -children-, the leaders of the world."
[17:50] <Dorian> "Ah-ah-ah." Dorian waved a finger. "I have an alternative theory."
[17:51] <Aline> "…Ah?"
[17:53] <Dorian> "See, the President -supports- NERV, but his parliament aren't very fond of us. And everyone in this room knows he can't prove a damn thing. So, he might be doing us a favour -and- saving face. He challenges NERV. He loses, proving to the world that not even he can stop NERV in the primacy of his mission. And he 'sadly' tells his Parliament that France needs to pay reparations to NERV."-
[17:53] <Dorian> "Especially if they damage the MAGI." Dorian grinned. "The President -likes- the Commander. I don't think he'd try to screw her over."
[17:57] * Aline slowly nodded. "I admit, I thought it was pressure from someone else. He did seem, after the weird weird play-acting, rather nice and shrewd. But…" She still sighed and tried to make a bit of a petulant pout. "If his parliament had half a lick of insight they'd just wait for a -serious- breach and act on -that-!" …A further thought. "And uh. I know you probably can't interfere
[17:57] * Aline too much but if the MAGI personality cores could be backed up during the process, I'd appreciate it. I have a…" She paused. Musn't say too much. "…bit of a respect for artificial personae like the three in our system. And it'd be insulting to Dr. Riel's work."
[17:58] <Dorian> "Trust me. The Doctor is already on it." Said Dorian. "The mind of the MAGI was based on her mother's. If anyone is going to handle that thing with care, it'll be her."-
[17:58] <Dorian> ["… Major. Maybe we should stop deviating and tell Miss Blanc what we actually intended to tell her." Said Leon.]
[17:59] * Aline clasped her palms and widened her eyes expectantly. "Yes, yes, I would appreciate that!"
[18:02] <Dorian> "It's about Asuka."
[18:02] * Aline widened her eyes even more. It was getting a little bit unnerving, if adorably so. "…What… what about her?"
[18:04] <Dorian> "She's…" Dorian paused, looking up at the VC, before looking at Aline. "She's in the Hospital Department, waiting for you."
[18:08] * Aline seemed to like. Hard to describe. Snap-unravel with all that latent tension. "Wow so she not only survived but you took her to here in Paris-2 and she's specifically waiting for me and… uh…" Aline put a hand to her chest. "Need to breathe…"
[18:09] <Dorian> "Well, she only arrived a few hours ago from Hamburg, and she's not -specifically- waiting. We just thought you'd like to see her."
[18:12] * Aline deflated. Which is a gentler form of tension release than snap-unravelling. "…Oh, okay. Even so, yes, I'd like to do that. I've been sort of meaning to get my visiting hours out of the way, and I guess I can start with the one who I didn't even know was alive or dead until seconds ago!"
[18:15] <Dorian> "Do keep in mind she's heavily sedated, so be gentle." Dorian gives Aline a nod. "Off you go."
[18:16] * Aline nodded. "No, I wouldn't do anything untoward~" And off she went! Though she did smile at Sophie, just for being equally cute and cheery. Off, off, off to the hospital department~~
[18:17] <Dorian> [The hospital department. It'd been a lot busier recently, ever since the battle… There'd been a lot of casualties, and not enough undamaged hospitals. Nevertheless, it was big enough that it still remained somewhat uncrowded, much like Paris-2.-
[18:17] <Dorian> [The receptionist sat on duty.]
[18:19] * Aline waved politely to the receptionist. As per usual, because of her earlier, more intensive mental care regime (also the monthly refills of the light antidepressants she used), Aline was reeeeelatively familiar with the receptions staff. "Hello there. Could I be directed to the current bed of one Asuka Langley-Soryu, as a visitor?~"
[18:20] <Dorian> ["You certainly may, Pilot Blanc. It's in the Intensive Care Ward A, room 6B."]
[18:21] <Aline> "Right! Thank you~" …And so, Aline slowly, gently went off to head to that ward, and that room, taking in the sights as she went - and trying to smile and be polite to anyone she may have run across during her walk.
[18:23] <Dorian> [Aline got more than a few smiles back. She was -popular-. She was more than that; she was a hero.-
[18:24] <Dorian> [But eventually, she came to a room. The door was closed, but through a window, Aline could see, peeking out behind the gap between the curtains and a wall… Red hair.]
[18:25] * Aline tried the first instinct - that is, to try to quietly open the door. Best not to jar a highly wounded person with loud noises, after all.
[18:27] <Dorian> [The door opened easily enough. It was a quiet room, with a heart monitor being the only sound in the room.]
[18:28] * Aline went on in, then, caaarefully closing the door behind herself, and slowly moving in. Let's see if the girl was awake and able to notice her presence, first, before trying to wake her up. …Also to have a chance to look at her and see what her condition was. Discreetly!
[18:31] <Dorian> [Asuka was awake, staring blearily at her curtain. She hadn't seen Aline yet.-
[18:33] <Dorian> [The girl… Was a mess. She was dressed in a simple hospital nightgown, but of her legs, one of them was in a cast, the other wrapped completely in gauze. Her arms were bare, and covered in scars- not only burn scars but the scars of tears and rips, the fateful product of her high Synch Ratio near the end and the Guardians' assault on her limbs.-
[18:33] <Dorian> [A whole side of her face was wrapped up, and her right eye couldn't be seen at all.]
[18:36] * Aline frowned internally… That… that thing sure liked burning people. She heard about Yan-yan's burn wounds too. It was rather… bad. But… well, she'd just have to try to be nice. And, moreover, since the girl as already conscious, to a certain degree thereof… "Ah, hi… This is Aline, I just wanted to… make a little visit to see you, since I heard about how you got transferred
[18:36] * Aline here."
[18:38] * Asuka‘ turned slowly, painfully slowly- it probably did hurt to move. Her eye fell on Aline for a moment, and she stared.
[18:41] * Aline cold-sweated at what looked like obvious pain. "Oh-oh should I have just sorta walked in front of where you were looking?… Er. If that’s okay with you, anyway." She looked pretty nervous! Someone so aggressive and RAR normally… Aline had no idea how she'd act while delirious on sedatives!
[18:41] * Asuka‘ blinked. It was a slow blink. Slowly, she turned away again.-
[18:42] <Asuka`> Eventually, she spoke. Her words were slurred, and she spoke in French that was shaky at best, but her words were intelligible. "Don’t… Look at me, First Child."
[18:45] * Aline paused… and… turned her head away a little. "Okay. Just start speaking in English if you think that's easier. Sadly I haven't worked on my German much, though…" A bit of a sigh. "I don't want to impose too much. I just wanted to check in. If you'd rather I left…"
[18:46] <Asuka‘> "Check in…?" Said Asuka hoarsely. "Why?"
[18:51] * Aline shrugged her shoulders. "Well. Basically, to make sure you were recovering well. It’s only fair, considering the wounds you and Yanmei and Sera all took that I didn't. I don't know what you think about this, but I do want you to remain alive, healthy, and strong."
[18:51] <Asuka‘> "Why?" Asked Asuka again. "What’s the point?"
[18:54] * Aline …twitched. Out of a sort of 'oh god how do I explain this' impulse. "People shouldn't be left alone, especially when they're suffering." She decided to leave it at that. Getting too much into ~sisterhood~ or ~I care for you~ would not end well. Or so she feared.
[18:57] <Asuka‘> "…" Asuka glared at the wall. "D-don’t bother, First Child." She choked out. "It's done. I'm done. Don't waste your time on me anymore."
[19:04] * Aline frowned deeply. And was perhaps again glad that she wasn't being looked at. "Let's do it this way. Are you saying that because of how severe the wounds are? Because you lost a battle and might take weeks to get back into service? Because it's Paris-2 that keeps getting attacked? Any one of those things?… I'm not saying this to drive in the knife, but because I really can't understand
[19:04] * Aline what motivates you right now." A very sad tone… "We were born in different worlds. And I'm trying to at least tell you what silly civilian-life things make me 'waste' my time on you. In a way that you'll at least understand enough to know in terms familiar to you. …I don't mean to hammer this into you when you're hopped up on sedatives but…" Aline slowly curled up a fist, just to try
[19:04] * Aline to control her inner tension. "…I'm being left no choice."
[19:07] * Asuka‘ achingly turns her head, staring at Aline with that painful blue eye. "I was supposed to be the unstoppable trooper." She said dully.
[19:15] * Aline slowly nodded. "…Did anyone tell you how hard it hit us here? Pretty badly. If me and Sera hadn’t been there, Yanmei wouldn't have just been blown up and barely alive, but it would've had the time to do the same thing that it did to you and Berlin-2. 01 was losing body parts left and right. It…" Aline shook her head. "You just can't be unstoppable when there's only one of you.
[19:15] * Aline It'd have been impossible for any one of us here to have stood up as long as you did, but… without backup, another set of hands and eyes, it just couldn't be done. An army is never one person! Why they thought to leave you there with no backup confuses me, but even if it was just some lowly person that you and they both knew wasn't as good as you, just being there to distract the enemy
[19:15] * Aline would have worked! I… I don't know how to put this in any more words, but you can't be alone. You can't define yourself when you're the only thing there is, you know?… don't you? The best is there not to be the one and only, the best is there to show the way for everyone else. I mean… I learned, just from watching you, everything that we needed to know to win that fight. That's what
[19:15] * Aline it means." …Aline could do better at controlling herself, though. All through that speech her voice had been progressively getting more and more concerned…
[19:19] * Asuka‘ started trembling. She shook her head from left to right frantically, ignoring the pain, pursing her lips like a baby refusing to eat. "No no no no nonononononono…"
[19:21] * Aline mouth-gaped and blank stared. "Buhhh I what I… which thing did I…" …System failure. Please consult an operator to reboot your Aline and have a nice day.
[19:25] <Asuka`> "I don’t I don't I don't I don't I -don't-!" Shouted Asuka, her eye crazed, gripping her arms tightly. "I don't I don't I don't I don't…" She lowered her head, whispering to herself.
[19:32] * Aline …leaned against the wall, veeeery obviously shaken by the fact that she apparently brought this on! "Ah…" …She thought better of saying something more elaborate than a mere noise.
[19:33] <Asuka‘> "Mmmmmmm…" Asuka’s shaking stopped. She seemed utterly still at that point… But her sound formed a word, eventually. "M…Mama…"
[19:38] * Aline … …just sort of still stared a bit. And nodded a little, as if trying, -trying- to comfort her without looking too doting. The sheer -stress- of having to witness that was enough to leave a few tears sliding down her face, though…
[19:40] <Asuka‘> "They… Didn’t want us, mama…" Whispered Asuka, trying instinctively to bring her legs up to her chin- and quickly shouted in pain, enough to push her head back into the pillows. She stared up at the roof dully. "M-mama…"
[19:42] * Aline opened her mouth, and closed it again. What was she supposed to do? What was… …wait. Waaaait. Her own voice was cracking just from sympathy alone, but Aline had to try something. She couldn't just stand there and let this happen. "…Who?"
[19:44] * Asuka‘ turned her head toward Aline again. A moment of lucidity seemed to glimmer there. "No… One. I… Had to be… Wanted. I had to be… seen. I had to be the… best." Her voice cracked. "They don’t… Want a nobody…" Asuka closed her eye as it glimmered with moisture.
[19:56] * Aline stared, and wiped at her eyes a little. "…But I'm here. I won't let that hold me back." Aline shook her head even more. "Please. I… if I say I care… I… I'm afraid to tell you that. But… I have to." Deep breaths, deep breaths. -Try- to be a little more upbeat than the person breaking in front of you. "It doesn't matter. You're still… you were -raised- to be this. It still
[19:56] * Aline shows. I… I respect you more for being here and being hurt and actually saying it. It… it takes a strong heart to let someone, anyone in, even if you're just shouting to the world for it." …Yeah, let's just forget about that whole trying-to-be-upbeat thing. It isn't working. "I'd want somebody who could admit they fell, and get back up anyway, Asuka. I know I'm just one person, but…
[19:56] * Aline that's what I want. That's enough for me. Please, please try to understand…"
[19:59] * Asuka‘ opened her eye, staring once again at Aline. She stared for a long time, unblinkingly.-
[19:59] <Asuka`> With a groggy, uncertain arm she started groping about near the bedside table, trying to grasp her clock.
[20:01] * Aline sort of flitted about, trying to keep a relatively ’okay' distance… but wasn't going to help -just- yet. She was still paranoid about that pride… At least about little things like clocks.
[20:04] * Asuka‘ reached the clock with her hand… Only to push it away with her fingertips accidentally. Her fingers scrabbled on the top of the table uselessly.
[20:09] * Aline …decided to relent, and caaarefully slide it closer. Just a bit closer. She -certainly- wasn’t going to just hand it to her. Yet.
[20:19] * Asuka‘ … Managed to grap onto the clock. She pulled it closer to her, stared at it for a moment… Then slumped, her arm dangling by her side.
[20:24] * Aline really did not know what the hell just happened. "…Should I… uh… Do… something else…?"
[20:26] <Asuka`> "What… What’s the point in it if I can't do anything without you helping me?" She said groggily.
[20:34] * Aline slowly gathered a biiiit more composure. "…Because I wouldn't be able to do it without -you- helping -me-. Because it'd be something… greater than one person could do."
[20:35] <Asuka‘> "Can… I still be part… of something greater than myself… And still be the best?"
[20:38] <Aline> "Yes! That’s…" Aline smiled broadly. "…That's what they call a leader."
[20:40] <Asuka‘> "Leader…" Asuka pulled her arm up onto the bed. "Leader. I… Lead. I lead. And… Everyone follows me." Asuka let out a tired, tired, weary sigh. "I… will lead…" her eye is closing.
[20:42] * Aline knelt closer to the bed, and… let her tone get even softer than it already was, even watchful and kind. "Yeah… That’s the Asuka I remember meeting." Some part of her thought that that might also be falling asleep from post-sedation fatigue. We shall Wait And See.
[20:44] <Asuka‘> "…" Asuka’s eye closed. It looks like she was out.
[20:44] * Aline nodded again, if only just to herself, and stood up, to let herself out quietly.
[20:45] <Asuka‘> [It was an empty hallway. Well. Almost empty. As Aline exited it, a voice called out from down the hall- "Aline."]
[20:46] * Aline stopped suddenly, and turned to look in the direction of the voice. "…Ah?"
[20:49] <Asuka`> [It was a man, in a hospital gown. A lot of his body was bandaged, and Aline could see them crisscrossing his body even through the gown. He was in a wheelchair, and he had a weak, dilapidated look on his face. He was smiling faintly though, and if there was one feature that stood out, it was the pure white hair upon his head.]
[20:51] * Aline … … …staaaared. "…How…" …And she rushed towards him, though wisely decided -not- to turn this into a tackle-hug. I mean god she’d probably break something!
[20:53] <Asuka`> ["A building collapsed on me. Thank God-" Cough cough. "…Those floors are made to collapse in a -safe- way." He smiled a little more, and held out his arms. "No more hows."]

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