Komm Susser Tod 2 2 5

[22:29] <@Minaplo> [They were on a boat and in fact had been on a boat for over a day now.-
[22:44] <@Minaplo> [Blue, Rei, Raphael and Sera- along with a woman none of them had met before named Melodie- had gathered together on the 13th of May, and had spoken to Vercingetorix. He had, with Zeruel's help, transported them onto a boat in the middle of the Pacific, captained by a man Raphael, at least, knew well- Celestyn Wilwudski, who explained that this was Vercingetorix's private Pacific yacht and that he had offered it for them to use as a base and as a transport. As to why this was necessary…-
[22:46] <@Minaplo> ["Ok, so, we're right on course for Singapore, should be there in another day or so." Said Blue, who had assembled them in what seemed to be some sort of dining room, which consisted of plush benches built into a panelled wooden wall around the centrepiece of the room- a large round mahogany table. "When we get in there, we'll shack up at some local place and from there, try to contact Alves's lot, assuming they're not all dead. Questions?"]
[22:50] <Raphael> "What happens if they are dead?" Raphael asks. He's standing just behind Rei's shoulder, feet planted to adjust to the sway of the boat on the waves. His UEF uniform has been abandoned in favour of neat but unassuming plainclothes.
[22:53] <@Minaplo> ["Then we enjoy the local cuisine until our rendezvous time."]
[22:53] <Sept> "Natural charm?" Sera offered tiredly. The discomfort from teleporting down, being out at sea and in the presence of AT users still hadn't quite worn off. It'd do so any minute. He'd decided so 24 hours ago. "There must be other, less reliable ways of contacting them…"
[22:58] * Raphael makes a quiet noise and settles back against the sideboard, allowing Blue to take the floor again. It seemed for a moment as though he wanted to say more, but he seemed to think better of it.
[23:00] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, look, we'll be going through every less reliable way I can think of." Said Blue. "But it'll all be for nought if they're dead, so our first goal- first, goal, listen up- is to find out information about whether or not our contacts in the city are still alive. It won't be obvious. You'll need to ask around, see if folks have heard of any disturbances recently, unexplained deaths…"]
[23:03] <Raphael> "Do Caine's assassinations follow any reliable patterns? Any weapons or methods we could use to narrow down the search?"
[23:03] <Raphael> <could target*>
[23:06] <Sept> Not unless there was a note left behind saying their debt had been paid in full, Sera wanted to say, but couldn't while being struck by another wave of nausea. He just shook his head and tried to look out onto the open sea for comfort.
[23:09] <@Minaplo> ["They fall into two broad categories: stealthy poisoning and sending in those ninja-phantom thingies, methinks. First category, you'll hear of healthy people having heart attacks or strokes, and they'll never be having them in -public-, curiously. Second category, hear talk of bloody crime scenes with what looks like slashing or cutting wounds, but no found weapons and no witnesses or heard gunshots."]
[23:14] <Sept> "'s not like they'd look like regular stabbings, either. If they're not hushes up, there'll be rumors."
[23:14] <Sept> <hushed*>
[23:18] * Raphael nods. "It seems like asking all of this is likely to earn us the wrong sort of attention, especially if Caine still has people in the area. I'd suggest we operate in pairs at the very least."
[23:19] <@Minaplo> ["Exactly what I was thinking." Said Blue, clicking his fingers. "Ah, Raffy, I knew bringing you was a grand ol' idea."-
[23:19] <@Minaplo> [Melodie rolled her eyes.]
[23:23] <Sept> "What are you suggesting? I have Armin for protection, but Asian street work isn't what I was sent here for."
[23:25] <Raphael> "Not that I'd deny the help, Pilot de Pteres, but I'd ask else you could be sent for." Raphael says mildly, happily taking the distraction from Blue.
[23:30] <Sept> "Further protection, an ambassador for negotiations… I'll gladly pound the pavement alone for leads, but I mean I could use someone who understood the locals."
[23:31] * Raphael glances at Blue.
[23:31] <@Minaplo> ["Most of 'em speak English, Sera, you're cool." He says glibly.]
[23:33] <Sept> "Yeah, yeah. I'll be fine. 'nything else for now?"
[23:40] <@Minaplo> ["Well yes, actually. The most important and hopefully short but probably long part of this meeting: let's discuss any weaknesses or flaws you might've seen in this plan of ours."]
[23:42] <Sept> "…right. Someone get me a bottle of water? Let's dig into this."
[23:43] <@Minaplo> [Rei was quick to fetch Sera that bottle.]
[23:44] <Raphael> "You know my concerns already." Raphael says, stepping aside to let Rei past. "Bringing two of the only functional Eva pilots we have is incredibly unwise."
[23:45] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, well. I agree, I was expectin' Yanmei to veto this one comin'." Said Blue, nodding towards Sera. "But, welp…"]
[23:47] <Sept> "Thanks." He accepted the offering, holding the bottle against his face for a while, hoping to get better via osmosis. "Also two of the safest ground operatives. As long as we aren't shut out re: information, we can deal with this as quickly as we have to."
[23:49] <Raphael> A nod, if a slightly reluctant one. "That much is true. And providing we're careful about who we talk to and how we should avoid drawing an unnecessary amount of attention."
[23:50] <@Minaplo> ["But isn't that also part of the problem?" Asked Rei. "They call Singapore the gate-way to the Pacific because it's got the best shipyards in Asia. There's a UN invasion force on the way, so everyone'll be really on edge."-
[23:51] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, all true." Said Blue. "So uh, be extra… Cool, folks. Try not to mention the invasion too much."]
[23:54] <Sept> "'course. How do we stay in touch, if we're splitting up like this?"
[23:55] <@Minaplo> ["Got a set of old walkie-talkies if we feel like using them. Otherwise, I figure if we're all staying somewhere, we could just deal with meeting up at the end of the day…"]
[23:57] * Sept took a swig from the bottle. It didn't look like it tasted good. "With the rendezvous point as a backup. Any code words, information we can use to vouch for ourselves if we run into your contacts..?"
[23:59] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, sure. Try this: 'Who shattered the rose?'"]
[00:01] <Sept> "And?"
[00:01] <@Minaplo> ["Well the answer is 'Zhang Yanmei'."]
[00:02] <Sept> "Ah. I… Alright."
[00:03] <Raphael> This time it's Raphael's turn to roll his eyes.
[00:07] <@Minaplo> ["Ok, what else?"]
[00:09] <Sept> "What do we do if Blue's setting us up? Surely we'd still be able to secure the rendezvous point together?"
[00:10] <@Minaplo> [And now Blue got to roll his eyes.-
[00:10] <@Minaplo> ["Don't say that." Said Rei firmly. "He's not setting anyone up."]
[00:12] * Sept nodded. "Of course not. Because it'd be very difficult to trap us down here, yes?"
[00:13] * Raphael 's response comes a few seconds after Rei's. "… Yes. And we could secure the rendevous." Raphael said, with the certainty of a man who's considered the possibility. "I'm confident in his motives right now, though, otherwise I wouldn't have helped set up the op."
[00:16] <Sept> "That's good. No further questions," Sera said, raising a hand in resignation.
[00:16] <@Minaplo> ["What, really?"]
[00:17] <Sept> "What, 'what'? I want air."
[00:18] <@Minaplo> ["Man, I had a fuckin' list of solutions here to some questions I was hoping you'd answer."-
[00:18] <@Minaplo> ["You can go out on deck, you know." Muttered Rei.]
[00:20] <Sept> "Yeah, we can go all day out there if it doesn't require an official meeting space."
[00:20] <Raphael> "Don't be difficult, Blue." Raphael says warningly.
[00:22] <@Minaplo> ["Alright, alright. Oy."-
[00:24] <@Minaplo> ["Ok. Here were some questions." He cleared his throat. "'What do we do about money?' 'What about the fact that we're all very recognisable?' 'What are some of the local customs and places of Singapore?'"-
[00:25] <@Minaplo> ["Anyway, we've got some cash on hand, I can give you all guidebooks, and best of all, Melodie here has -disguises-."]
[00:28] * Raphael sends an uncertain glance Melodie's way. He'd still not been given a straight answer about the woman and had, in fact, been specifically directed to /stop/ asking questions. Hardly comforting.-
[00:28] <Raphael> "I see."
[00:28] <Sept> "What kind?"
[00:30] <@Minaplo> ["The kind that works." Said Blue. "Melodie, do you want to take this?"-
[00:31] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, ok." Melodie stood up. "I've worked out a disguise tailored to each of you." She said. "Guillory?"]
[00:32] <Raphael> "Ma'am?"
[00:33] <@Minaplo> ["Your face has a very gentle, soft base." She said, reaching out to stroke along his jawline. "But it also tends to be rather neutral, which means for you we'll be relying on a strong cosmetic base. Using my techniques, we'll give you a different chin, jawline, thicker eyebrows, a moustache… A few other things."-
[00:33] <@Minaplo> [Rei is already grinning.]
[00:36] * Raphael is most decidedly not, but he bears the contact without frowning or flinching away. "… Right."
[00:38] * Sept cracked a bit of a smile at that, suspecting this was one of the qualities Melodie had been hired for.
[00:41] <@Minaplo> ["De Pteres, you get a haircut." She says abruptly, fixing him with a look that would pin a bird to a wall. "Your hand stays behind. Your hair… We'll dye it something. Brown, red maybe. Let's see if we can give you a limp as well, make your features heavier around the face."]
[00:44] <Sept> "Whoa, whoa, you want me to go in a cripple?"
[00:45] <@Minaplo> ["That a problem?" She challenged.]
[00:45] * Raphael is frowning a little at the sudden shift in Melodie's demeanour, more than a little troubled by what it suggests.
[00:46] <Sept> "…fine. Armin's gonna have to hang around with me in human form, then."
[00:47] <@Minaplo> ["… Well." Blue coughed. "You weren't thinking of carrying an eldritch glowing lance around one of the most crowded cities in Asia, were you?"]
[00:48] <Sept> "It could be wrapped," Sera defended himself.
[00:50] <@Minaplo> ["So now you have a long lance-shaped package with you. Ok, this is an improvement."]
[00:53] <Sept> "Yeah, I get you." He glanced away, a sign of weakness.
[00:57] <@Minaplo> [Melodie nodded fiercely, before turning to Rei, her expression instantly softening. "And you, Rei, I've tried to cut pack on cosmetics. You have very distinct features, so if we hide them you'll blend right in. For you, I've prepared some brown contact lenses, a pair of tinted sunglasses, and a headscarf drawn from local fashions. We dye your eyebrows, and the headscarf will do the rest. It'll hide your hair, your neck- so all need to do is darken your face a little and we'll be fine. I've picked out a fine silk pink headscarf for you, patterned with little white blossoms. I hope you like it."-
[00:57] <@Minaplo> [Rei beamed. "That sounds cool."]
[01:00] * Raphael does smile a little at Rei's enthusiasm, if nothing else.
[01:03] <Sept> "Yeah, that all sounds plausible."
[01:12] <@Minaplo> ["Awesome. Okay." Blue leapt off the table. "You can all go now. Wilwudski's doing us tempura-battered calamari with dipping sauces. Get them squids into ya, Sera."]
[01:15] <Sept> "…" Sera screwed the bottle shut and headed out the door to find his way back onto the deck.
[01:18] <Raphael> "Right." Raphael nods, pushing away from his own perch with considerably less flair. "Thank you Blue, Miss Melodie."-
[01:18] <Raphael> With a quick smile Rei's way he heads for the door and follows Sera out and… after a moment of consideration, keeps following him on the way up to the deck. Some fresh air could hardly hurt.
[01:28] * Sept grabs onto the railing for some comfort, leaning out tiredly. He took some water, swirled it around his mouth and spat it out into the infinite blue. "Beats the other ship. Barely."
[01:36] <Raphael> "It's going to take me another week to get used to the temperature again when we go back, though." Raphael says, taking up a spot next to Sera.
[01:41] <Sept> "Yeah? I wasn't used to it when we -left-. At least I had an excuse to keep moving. What're they having you do?"
[01:46] <Raphael> "They've got me preparing plans for Vercingetorix's strikes right now, but I was working on the problem of the Stormtrooper cells before that. Miss Sarasvati's scanner took a good deal of the pressure off there."
[01:51] <Sept> "Ah. That's great to hear. Never thought Surov'd pull something like that."
[01:53] <Raphael> "Like what? Sarasvati?"
[01:56] * Sept continued to look out onto the ocean. "Planning to retire, or even leave his title. With all of the work he's done to improve himself, that's just… not how I thought of his quest. I'm just projecting, obviously."
[01:59] <Raphael> "Ah." Raphael nods, flexing his hands on the guard railing accompanied by the faint pop of a knuckle cracking. "To hear him tell it, securing a place for her was the reason he worked with us in the first place."
[02:08] <Sept> "Of course. Him and Azariah and their dolls… It's a hell of a thing to be obsessed with. Not just planning for a successor, but…" Sera tapped on the railing and glanced at Raphael before quickly turning back to the ocean. "To actually make them. Make a person and demand legitimacy."
[02:16] <Raphael> "…" Raphael's posture becomes a few degrees less relaxed, even as he keeps his attention on the water. Dolls… "Surely a sentient being deserves legitimacy?"
[02:24] <Sept> "Yes, yes, of course, now that they're -here-, it's only sensible to grant them every right, treat them with the same respect as a different nationality, race, a clone, an Angel… But making the plan and carrying it out." Sera turned towards him again, leaning back on the railing, keeping his gaze. "You see how mad that is?"
[02:34] * Raphael matches the stare with a cool one of his own. "… To a point, although I'm not sure whether our reasons are the same."
[02:37] <Sept> "…"-
[02:39] <Sept> "What do you talk about with other people? With your crew? Inconsequential things still exist, right?"
[03:07] * Raphael doesn't respond for some time, studying Sera's face with narrow eyes. He seems to have closed in on himself, guarding as many emotional tells as he can manage.-
[03:07] <Raphael> "… Sure. Seen any good movies lately, Pilot de Pteres?"
[03:08] <Sept> "Nah. We watched some in…" He trailed off.-
[03:08] <Sept> "No," he tried again. "You?"
[03:11] * Raphael makes a thoughtful noise. "Anne of Green Gables was better than I recalled."
[03:14] <Sept> "Doesn't ring a bell. That's not the deaf-blind girl?"
[03:17] <Raphael> "Afraid not." Raphael says, and with that his attention shifts back towards the ocean.-
[03:19] <Raphael> And there it'd stay, at least for long enough for the silence to be punctuated by the distant calls of seabirds. "… I didn't have a chance to thank any of you for everything you did to defeat Metatron. You deserve better than what we can offer right now, with everything else, but you did an amazing thing."
[03:23] <Sept> "Yeah." Sera had relaxed a little, caught off guard by the directness. He breathed in and looked straight again at the opposite side of the ship. "M-Metatron wasn't a monster."
[03:27] * Raphael gives Sera a sidelong look, a little more openly curious this time. "Oh?"
[03:33] <Sept> "She had a good plan for the world. A really good plan. We just killed her because we have slightly better ones."-
[03:34] * Sept tightened his grip on the railing, then pushed himself off and took a few steps toward the centre line of the deck, wobbling on the second one. "When does that get to be said? Who gets to say that?"
[22:03] * @Raphael turns to keep Sera in view, glad Blue was not here to introduce Sera to the world of Caine Logic. "… Why does it have to come back to plans, Sera? We destroyed her because we would all be dead otherwise. It wasn't a fair choice, but it /was/ the only choice."
[22:22] <Sept> "Because-" Sera spread his arms and spun back around to face him. "Because it's not. It's -not-! It's done -now-, yes, and I don't want us to be another conqueror writing shitty history!"-
[22:24] <Sept> "I'm overjoyed we're here now, but unless we want to hand over everything to Mary, I need help to -set this right- and pave the way forward. I'm no authority. So I don't know how to relay that to people like you."
[22:27] * @Raphael gives Sera a long look - the look of someone trying extremely hard to not write off the person in front of him as crazy. At least not yet. "Try. Because I don't understand, but I'm willing to listen."
[22:37] * Sept opened and shut his mouth once, taking his time. "So. We've clearly proven humans and Angels have intangible, resilient souls not tied to their physical forms, yes..?"
[22:37] <@Raphael> "As far as my limited understading goes."
[22:43] <Sept> "Well, they're technically immortal, and humanity's and Angelkind's both come from a larger pool, a race that used to exist."-
[22:47] <Sept> "Now, you might ask, why are they now distinct life forms, and I'd answer, because they were facing a war they couldn't win as their race's development had stalled, so they divide their people up, go their separate ways to grow stronger, let evolution do its job. Yeah?"
[22:51] <@Raphael> "Yes. Four Seeds of Knowledge, three of Life." Raphael says, his expression still guarded and neutral.
[22:53] <Sept> "Ye- who the fuck've -you- been talking to?"
[22:59] * @Raphael smiles just a little at that. It's not an entirely pleasant change. "People like me can know things too. Gendo shared some things in the time before his passing."
[23:06] <Sept> "Yeah, of course. So- Considering the danger all Seeds face, what kind of asshole would intentionally manipulate a weaker Seed to survive at the cost of a stronger one?"
[23:10] <@Raphael> "As a pure thought exercise, wouldn't the stronger seed be the one that -did- survive?"
[23:18] * Sept deflated slightly. "…yes, that's a way of looking at it. But we don't- have to consider that now. As long as everyone's focused on just survival, we're not creating any options. Mary's the one who wants humanity to come out of this stronger!"
[23:21] <@Raphael> "…"-
[23:22] <@Raphael> "I think I understand what you mean now." He says, with a small sigh. It seems almost… sad. "And yet… the plan is to let all three Seeds survive, isn't that right?"
[23:28] <Sept> "Yeah, in… essentially, yeah. That would be… better."
[23:33] <@Raphael> "And to do that you needed humanity to survive. You could not enact a plan like that if the Angels destroyed us, obviously, and we could not bargain with the Angels for whatever reason." He's still watching Sept very closely. "Therefore it would seem to me like temporarily destroying the Angels -was- the only option."
[23:38] * Sept took a breath and just sat down on the deck, having had enough of the wobbliness. He finished his bottle of water and left it on his lap. "Following that logic, so it was to her. And she's the representative of the Angels in people's minds right now. Yes?"
[23:39] <@Raphael> "I suppose."
[23:42] <Sept> "So is there anything we can do to fix that image of her, or do we need to find a new way to work with Angels? I don't think Zeruel counts."#
[00:02] <@Raphael> "I think that way will find itself if and when we're not forced to fight over territory like animals. Which was, for all its trappings, all our war was." He frowns, looking up at the clouds. "I think the course of this war has shown how much we -can- accept as a worthy, sentient being when it's not trying to kill us."-
[00:02] <@Raphael> "… which neatly leads us back to Sarasvati, I might add." He notes, not looking away from the sky.
[00:07] <Sept> "Uh huh." Sera paused for a while. "And the Angels that -did- kill thousands of us? I'd like to believe it'd be as simple as Surov throwing away his post."
[00:16] <@Raphael> "It helps that most of us don't see by souls. A new body might mean a new chance."
[00:23] <Sept> "Yeah, alright. That gives me some idea of what to look for. But focusing a press release around the return of the Enemy isn't the way forward."
[00:26] * @Raphael does look this time, frowning again. "… No, I wouldn't think so."
[00:33] <Sept> It was Sera's turn to lean back and look to the skies. "Right."
[00:38] <@Raphael> Again, conversation was abandoned for a time in favour of the sound of waves and seabirds. It was not, to be fair, an unpleasant diversion.-
[00:41] <@Raphael> "… So all three of you accepted the plan? Unmake and remake humanity in Elisha Caine's image?"
[00:43] <Sept> "More or less."

-cont'd-

(15:25:05) Raphael: "I didn't really believe Ikari when he told me you had, to tell you the truth."
(15:31:50) @Sept: "Well, I don't know what kinds of coercion they used with Aline and Yanmei, but accepting that has come to be one of the few constants of my existence, at least."
(15:31:56) ยป Sept (-o) Sept
(15:45:01) * Raphael glances at Sept. "I find myself a bit disappointed, even if I don't strictly disagree."
(15:45:37) Sept: "Huh?"
(15:55:32) * Raphael scuffs the toe of his boot against the deck in a restless, repetitive gesture. "It's hard to explain. I-… I /hate/ the plan, as it's been explained to me. I've been coerced - as you put it - into going along with it because it /seems/ to be the only way we survive, not that I could ever hope to stop it. I suppose I was holding out hope that I could let you all stop it for me. Cowardly, really."
(16:03:11) Sept: "Heh." Sera rolled the empty water bottle back and forth in his hands, the light refracting every which way in odd patterns. "I've agonised enough over the same thing. It's the best option, but it comes at a price of prolonged struggle and a lot of death right now. But that's not what bothers you about it, is it?"
(16:09:20) * Raphael smiles thinly. "Oh, it bothers me. I'd have to be a sociopath for it to be otherwise. There's just more to it."-
(16:09:28) Raphael: "If I'm honest, the idea of letting you, or Elisha, or anyone else reshape the entire planet into their image of what it should be makes me sick."
(16:14:05) * Sept weighed this, looking around for a bit, not looking entirely serious about the comment. "Yeah, no," he concluded. "I can't help with that. Destiny's already got us plenty fucked with these wars and whatever. Something has to go."-
(16:16:07) Sept: He paused for a bit again, looking past Raphael through the bottom of the bottle. "Would you… still say that if you hadn't already been reshaped by others?"
(16:22:05) * Raphael bites his tongue for a moment, letting a bright burst of anger subside. "Probably not. If I hadn't been reshaped by others I would hardly have had cause to wonder if doing so had effectively killed the person I was."
(16:32:06) Sept: "You cling to the old, keep up these military manners… But you've also spent your time with NERV- and UEF," he caught himself, "getting cozy enough, right?"
(16:34:51) Raphael: "…" Raphael turns to look at Sera with narrowed eyes. "What are you talking about?"
(16:42:04) * Sept looks back at him with one eye closed, not lowering the bottle. "You still spend time looking to other people for an identity. People that are also involved in the war, NERV, all that. Have you found any peace of mind so far?"
(16:48:42) Raphael: "…" His jaw clenches, but otherwise he's still as he stares. He's quiet for one… two… three long, deep breaths. "I suppose not all of us have the considerable mental fortitude it requires to force away everyone who comes into contact with us, sir."
(17:00:18) Sept: "…" Sera looked back at him for a while, then, squarely and expressionlessly. "Well," he said, clapping his hands together and getting back on his feet, at least steadily for now. "No offence. You'll still be a mystery to me. That's my fault only."
(17:03:48) Raphael: "The feeling is mutual, Sera." Raphael says flatly.
(17:15:28) * Sept smiled a little. "Maybe we can figure it out over a drink once everything's over? At Annette's? Or is that era over?"
(17:22:09) * Raphael sighs again. "… Sure, Sera. If we make it that far, I think I could manage."
(17:30:19) * Sept smiled wider. "Goes for the both of us. I'll hold you to that."
(17:33:12) * Raphael watches the Pilot for a few seconds longer before nodding once and turning towards the stairs. "I'm going to see to Blue's plan. Glad you're feeling better, Pilot."
(17:36:07) Sept: "Oh, I'm sure it'll come back soon. Soon as I head inside. I'll see you there."

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