Komm Susser Tod 2 5 2

[15:25] <Minaplo> [The fog was thick and dark, like it had a volume to it, a real density that belied its appearance. It would move if you waved your hand in it, but it would move resentfully and grudgingly. Moving through it was like trying to walk through a low sandbar.-
[15:30] <Minaplo> [It was opaque, too. It would be easier to peer through muddy water. Not that there was any light, or at least not a light source. She could see the fog, somehow, but that was all she could see.-
[15:36] <Minaplo> [She sang to herself, an old trick to keep time. The song's verses averaged out to 60 seconds each, and there were six verses; sing it ten times and you have an hour.-
[15:37] <Minaplo> [But even the sound seemed to travel slowly in this place, and before long her voice was lost in a dozen slow repetitions of her song floating through the fog.-
[15:39] <Minaplo> [Besides, the leaden ache in her arms and legs told her she'd been walking for hours. Not even sure where she was supposed to go. What she was trying to find.-
[15:41] <Minaplo> [As the story went, this was the sort of situation that would turn people around. A long flat plain with zero visibility: without visual cues, you'd attempt to walk in a straight line, but be turned in a gradual circle due to the milimetres of difference between the length of one leg and the length of the other. She tried to correct it, but at the present she wasn't sure if the story was true or even which of her legs was longer.-
[15:41] <Minaplo> [Wandering aimlessly, not sure where to go; and clearly not heading in that direction if all she was doing was walking in a circle.-
[15:42] <Minaplo> [What was the point, then?-
[15:43] <Minaplo> […-
[15:43] <Minaplo> [She'd fallen. Fallen into the fog. Not sure if she fell asleep, tripped, or was pushed. Not even sure what exactly she was lying on.-
[15:45] <Minaplo> [She tried to stand up, only to find she couldn't. At first she thought it was exhaustion.-
[15:46] <Minaplo> [But instead, she realised that her extremities had caught on something. No- something had spread her arms and legs open, then had pinned them down with… Something. She couldn't see what it was.-
[15:46] <Minaplo> [All she could see was the fog.-
[15:47] <Minaplo> [She felt something moving over her legs. Several somethings, skittering rapidly up onto her stomach, then onto her shoulders. She twisted and turned, trying to see.-
[15:47] <Minaplo> [It was…-
[15:48] <Minaplo> [Imagine someone has been told to make an artistic model of a jellyfish using only repurposed industrial parts, and that would be a good start. The creature was all metal, made up predominantly of an old rusty valve handle, the sort you saw on gas tanks or propellant canisters.-
[15:48] <Minaplo> [Supporting the handle were a dozen thin metal wires.-
[15:50] <Minaplo> [There were two of them, one on each shoulder. They crawled up her neck and onto her face. She shook her head from side to side as viciously as possible, trying to dislodge them, but it didn't work.-
[15:51] <Minaplo> [Then she felt something. A dozen pinpricks of pain on each cheek. She didn't have to see to guess what was happening.-
[15:52] <Minaplo> [The metal jellyfish's wires began digging into the skin of her cheeks, burrowing deeper and deeper. Once they'd gotten through the skin, they snaked through the sides of her head. A few seconds later the pricks of pain became full-blown waves of white-hot agony: the wires were inserting themselves into her jaw muscles.-
[15:53] <Minaplo> [Her shaking became wilder, but this only made the pain worse as she felt the wires thrash and tear inside her face. They burrowed deeper, and as they did so she began to realise the incredible strength within those thin little snaky wires.-
[15:53] <Minaplo> [After a few seconds, they stopped moving. The base of the valve handles was now attached firmly to the hinges of her jaw.-
[15:54] <Minaplo> [Perhaps it was the pain, making her irrational, baffling her senses, but she began to see shapes from the fog. Eyes, mouths. Hands. So many…-
[15:54] <Minaplo> [She tried to scream, but her jaw had been wired shut.-
[15:55] <Minaplo> […-
[15:55] <Minaplo> [With a sudden shaking gasp, Fatima Nejem awoke.-
[16:01] <Minaplo> [It took a few seconds for her to parse her unfamiliar surroundings. White metal walls, bright fluro light strips on the roof. A cotton sheet pulled over her, a pillow under her head. The beeping of machines.-
[16:03] <Minaplo> ["Hi, hospital." Said Fatima slowly.-
[16:04] <Minaplo> [She brought her hands up to her face- her right arm had a drip in it, she saw- and began rubbing her eyes.-
[16:05] <Minaplo> [Not a second later she pulled her hands away. In the darkness, she'd thought she'd seen…-
[16:05] <Minaplo> […-
[16:06] <Minaplo> [Fatima looked to her left.-
[16:07] <Minaplo> [Sitting there in the chair, knees up against her chest, head lolling backwards with her mouth open was Ebele Natalie Achebe. Too thin for her height, a little gangly, with short black hair and brown eyes.-
[16:08] <Minaplo> ["Ebele."-
[16:11] <Minaplo> [Fatima's voice was soft, but it was enough to rouse Ebele. Her head snapped forward, her eyes opened, and she was halfway out of her seat before Fatima could wave her down.-
[16:12] <Minaplo> [Ebele took a second to take Fatima in. "Oh, you're awake."-
[16:12] <Minaplo> ["I am."-
[16:13] <Minaplo> ["You look terrible."-
[16:14] <Minaplo> [Fatima gave her a flat look, flipping a thumb at Ebele derisively.-
[16:16] <Minaplo> ["Well, you do." Said Ebele, as though it were a self-evident truth. She grinned, got to her feet and flumped down next to Fatima. Ebele wrapped an arm around Fatima's shoulders, letting Fatima rest in the crook. "How you feel?"-
[16:16] <Minaplo> ["I suspect I feel as terrible as I look." Said Fatima. "I've been out for… Four days?"-
[16:16] <Minaplo> ["Three." Said Ebele.-
[16:18] <Minaplo> ["Damn. I was hoping for the record. Ah, well."-
[16:18] <Minaplo> ["Next time."-
[16:18] <Minaplo> ["Next time." Agreed Fatima. "Anyway. Tired, starving. Send for a doctor so I can get out of here."-
[16:18] <Minaplo> ["And if he doesn't let you go?"-
[16:19] <Minaplo> ["Then I'll eat the doctor."-
[16:20] <Minaplo> ["Fair enough." Said Ebele, giving Fatima a kiss on the forehead before running off.-
[16:21] <Minaplo> [Twenty minutes later, Fatima was disconnected and fully dressed into a pair of jeans, a white shirt and an olive sweater vest. The doctor had looked as though he'd wanted to protest, but ultimately lost his nerve.-
[16:23] <Minaplo> [It was only after Fatima left the hospital that she realised something was… Off.-
[16:23] <Minaplo> ["Oh."-
[16:23] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"-
[16:24] <Minaplo> ["This isn't a Synfront corridor." Said Fatima. "Where are we?"-
[16:24] <Minaplo> ["We're on the Damocles." Said Ebele.-
[16:26] <Minaplo> ["Oh. Why?"-
[16:26] <Minaplo> [Ebele shrugged. "I dunno. Ask Abeni."-
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["Uh-huh. Did we win?"-
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["What, fighting the Angel?"-
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["Mmm."-
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, you won." Said Ebele.-
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["Okay, good." Said Fatima, letting out a small sigh of relief. "I was… Nevermind."-
[16:42] <Minaplo> [Ebele stared at Fatima for a few seconds, then gave her a small nod and began leading her away.-
[16:52] <Minaplo> [15 minutes of walking brought them to the common room of a shared dorm, apparently put aside for squads of E-Destroyer pilots or the like. The common room split off into three smaller bedrooms, each home to two living spaces.-
[17:09] <Minaplo> [The common room was carpeted with a warm pale yellow carpet, whilst the walls were wallpapered in sky blue, the edges of the wallpaper decorated with flowery, flowing images and symbols. In the centre of the room was a large round dark brown wooden table, looking heavy and solid, big enough to sit at least seven or eight people. Five wooden chairs with high backs and soft burgundy cushions sat around the table, completing the set.-
[17:36] <Minaplo> [There were sofas as well, four of them, fat, comfy-looking black sofas, three to a seat, with squishy cushions. Two of them had been used recently: on one of them, a small tower of books sat haphazardly, the base made up of two or three small ones, whilst on top balanced a large paperback, its perch precarious; the other sofa was home to a glossy black leather bag- judging by the black-stained white rags poking out the top, it was a metal polishing kit.-
[17:51] <Minaplo> [Hanging on a wall over one of the doors- the wall opposite the two used sofas- was a large flatscreen television. It was on, showing some sort of dramatic movie.-
[18:11] <Minaplo> ["They're out?" Asked Fatima.-
[18:11] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I dunno where they went…"-
[12:18] <Minaplo> ["Damn." Said Fatima.-
[12:20] <Minaplo> [Fatima walked over to one of the unused couches, lazily flopping over onto it face-down. "Uggh."-
[12:21] <Minaplo> [Despite there being multiple perfectly good chares, Ebele went and sat on the table itself. "What's up, honey?"-
[12:23] <Minaplo> ["Been asleep for three days." Muttered Fatima. "Wanna sleep for another three."-
[12:23] <Minaplo> ["Aw."-
[12:31] <Minaplo> ["Never felt so tired. Ever." Said Fatima. "And my arms and legs are sore. And I'm hungry."-
[12:33] <Minaplo> ["Want me to cook you something?" Asked Ebele.-
[12:33] <Minaplo> ["Huh? We've got a kitchen?"-
[12:33] <Minaplo> [Ebele nodded at a side door. "Yup."-
[12:39] <Minaplo> ["You're the best~" Said Fatima, giving her a sleepy but warm smile.-
[12:40] <Minaplo> ["Anything you want special?"-
[12:40] <Minaplo> ["Just go with your gut." Said Fatima. "I won't be fussy, so long as it doesn't kill me."-
[12:53] <Minaplo> ["Got it. You just rest about, right? I'll come get you when I'm done." Said Ebele, hopping off the table.-
[13:05] <Minaplo> ["Okay."-
[13:06] <Minaplo> [By then, Fatima had already buried her head into a squishy cushion. She heard the kitchen door open and shut.-
[13:22] <Minaplo> […-
[13:30] <Minaplo> [Through the heavy muffling of sleep, Fatima dimly sensed someone stroking her hair.-
[13:30] <Minaplo> [She felt cold…-
[13:30] <Minaplo> ["Muh." Muttered Fatima, curling up. Someone laughed.-
[13:43] <Minaplo> [The hand stroking her hair crept down her neck, brushing against the sensitive flesh there. Fatima squirmed, and the fingers struck, digging in, tickling. Fatima jammed the hand between shoulder and neck, and opened her eyes. "Mrg."-
[13:49] <Minaplo> [Sitting on the sofa's armrest was Abeni Hamilton Elemide- thin and petite, neck-length hair swept back, a teasing half-smile on her lips. "Good morning, beautiful."-
[13:51] <Minaplo> ["Shut up." Said Fatima, giving her a dark look. She made a token effort of resistance, rolling over to face the back of the sofa stubbornly, but a few seconds later had rolled back over, sniffing at the air- the air laden with the smell of hot meats and breads and soups and vegetables…-
[13:51] <Minaplo> [Fatima's stomach growled.-
[13:54] <Minaplo> [There was a fourth person in the room- taller than the others, with broad shoulders, fair skin and bright red wavy hair. Florence Menzies Kuti- the last Witch. She was sitting at the table, her head being propped up by her arm. "Glad to see you up, Fatima."-
[15:03] <Minaplo> ["Ta. You ok, Florence?"-
[15:03] <Minaplo> ["Hah." Florence smiled wryly. "No, I'm annoyed. We want to eat and Ebele's waiting on you."-
[15:04] <Minaplo> ["Alright, alright…" Muttered Fatima. Despite the protest in her body and in spite of the alluring temptation of warm sleep, she pulled herself up out of the sofa and staggered over to the table.-
[16:00] <Minaplo> [The kitchen door opened. "You lot! Help me carry this out!"-
[16:00] <Minaplo> [Fatima moved to stand, but Florence pushed her back down. "No no, you stay."-
[16:00] <Minaplo> ["Hmf."-
[16:38] <Minaplo> [The procession of dishes came out. There were plates of rich, distinctive peanut stew, meatless, spread out over a bed of couscous; a single large bowl of split pea soup, heavy with cream and lemon juice; and a communal plate of sauteed lamb pieces, lightly coated in a layer of tangy salts and spices, alongside fresh dates.-
[17:07] <Minaplo> ["…" With barely-concealed impatience, Fatima waited out the irritating little 'steps' to setting up. Laying out the plates, making sure everyone was served, pouring drinks, slowly laying down napkins…-
[17:24] <Minaplo> [The instant it was all finished, Fatima began to eat as hastily as she could without looking undignified or causing an unsightly mess. She wolfed down the peanut stew within a few minutes, replacing it with mounds of dates and lamb and a small bowl of soup.-
[17:24] <Minaplo> [Her sisters went on talking away, although Fatima had actually faded out of the conversation at this point…-
[17:29] <Minaplo> ["… Fatima!"-
[17:30] <Minaplo> ["Hmg?" Fatima looked up, startled. She took a second to swallow the chunk of lamb in her mouth. "What?"-
[17:38] <Minaplo> ["So's my food really that good or are you really that hungry?" Asked Ebele, leaning back in her chair, smirking.-
[17:42] <Minaplo> ["Oh, err…"-
[17:42] <Minaplo> [Abeni, sitting to Fatima's left, lifted up Fatima's plate suspiciously.-
[17:42] <Minaplo> ["What are you doing?"-
[17:43] <Minaplo> ["Just checking." Abeni put the plate down. "Nope, no legs. Your food's not going anywhere."-
[17:43] <Minaplo> [Florence rolled her eyes.-
[17:45] <Minaplo> ["Cut me some slack." Said Fatima, scratching her left shoulder absently. "You try sleeping for a week and see how you feel, huh?"-
[17:47] <Minaplo> ["Three days is like, not even half a week." Said Abeni. She folded her hands behind her head, leaning her chair back so that it balanced precariously on its rear legs.-
[17:48] <Minaplo> ["I don't think it matters past the second day." Said Fatima. She eyed Abeni for a second… Then quick as a flash, snapped her left hand out, snatching some lamb chunks from Abeni's plate.-
[17:49] <Minaplo> ["Oi!" Abeni tried to lean forward- too quickly. Her balance shifted, and the chair toppled, smacking into the ground with a dulled -whud-.-
[17:55] <Minaplo> [Ebele began laughing, clapping her hands. Florence merely shook her head and grinned. "She never learns…"-
[18:01] <Minaplo> [Fatima popped a stolen piece of lamb into her mouth, smiling sweetly, hands folded over her lap all prim and proper.-
[18:02] <Minaplo> [With a grumble and a string of elaborate curses, Abeni pulled herself back onto her feet and kicked the chair back into a standing position. She sat down, her face bright red. "Fucker."-
[18:05] <Minaplo> ["Funny." Said Fatima, still beaming. "Still faster than you, huh? Wonder how much longer I'd need to be out for that to change…"-
[18:05] <Minaplo> ["A week'd do it. Wanna try?"-
[18:05] <Minaplo> ["Oh, a week? That's a little conservative…"-
[18:08] <Minaplo> ["Three weeks." Said Florence, cutting in.-
[18:08] <Minaplo> ["Three-?!" Started Abeni.-
[18:08] <Minaplo> ["With sedatives."-
[18:08] <Minaplo> ["Sed-"-
[18:09] <Minaplo> ["Concussion, too." Said Florence, closing her eyes. "Slowed in time…"-
[18:09] <Minaplo> ["You done?"-
[18:10] <Minaplo> ["With one of those problems you see in games that reverse your controls."-
[18:10] <Minaplo> ["I think that's a neurological disease of some kind." Said Ebele.-
[18:11] <Minaplo> [Abeni gave them all a flat look. "All things I'm capable of dishing out if y'all wanna push the point." She muttered.-
[18:11] <Minaplo> ["… And wearing buttery shoes. Now I'm done." Said Florence.-
[18:13] <Minaplo> ["What, already? I was just starting to enjoy myself." Said Fatima, leaning back, a glass of orange juice in her hand. "By all means, continue to imagine all the horrible shit you're putting this version of me through."-
[18:14] <Minaplo> ["This all reminds me of an interesting paradox." Said Ebele.-
[18:14] <Minaplo> ["Oh really?" Asked Abeni.-
[18:15] <Minaplo> ["If you strap buttered toast to the back of a cat, then dropped them out a window, what would happen…?"-
[18:15] <Minaplo> [There was a moment's pause.-
[18:16] <Minaplo> ["… Arrested for animal cruelty?" Suggested Florence.-
[18:37] <Minaplo> ["Well no, what'd happen to the cat-"-
[18:37] <Minaplo> ["It'd probably break a leg." Said Abeni.-
[18:38] <Minaplo> ["But, you see, toast always falls buttered-side down-"-
[18:38] <Minaplo> ["Wouldn't the cat pull the toast off?" Asked Florence.-
[18:38] <Minaplo> ["No no, you'd tie it to them-"-
[18:38] <Minaplo> ["Hah! Obviously you've never tried tying things to cats!"-
[18:39] <Minaplo> ["And you have, Florence?" Asked Abeni, perking up.-
[18:39] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. I once tried tying a piece of cheese to a cat." Said Florence.-
[18:39] <Minaplo> ["Why?"-
[18:39] <Minaplo> ["I figured it'd attract rats."-
[18:40] <Minaplo> [Fatima collapsed, her shoulders shaking violently, her hands over her face, laughing so hard that she couldn't make a noise beyond tiny little breathless gasps.-
[18:42] <Minaplo> [The rest of the meal continued in more or less the same vein, and after about thirty minutes the plates had been licked clean, the drinks had been drained and the sink was full. Again, they made Fatima sit whilst they cleaned up, despite Fatima's protests.-
[19:04] <Minaplo> [But Fatima had to admit that despite that all, she was starting to fade again. Full of food and still tired, she started pining for bed.-
[19:10] <Minaplo> [At this point, her sisters had taken up positions on their sofas again. Florence had finished cleaning her sword and was now lying down, playing a handheld games console she had resting on her chest. Abeni had curled up with her books, whilst Ebele was sitting next to Fatima, trying to keep Fatima's attention drawn to a series of long notes.-
[19:11] <Minaplo> ["… Sorry." Said Fatima eventually. "I'm out of it tonight. Bedtime, I think."-
[19:12] <Minaplo> ["Oh." Ebele quickly put her notes aside and put her arms around Fatima's shoulders. Fatima fondly bumped her forehead against Ebele's before standing up.-
[19:14] <Minaplo> ["Rest up." Said Florence, holding a hand out to Fatima. Fatima squeezed it as she went past.-
[19:14] <Minaplo> ["Nighty, Fatima." Said Abeni. "You wanna borrow a book to read?"-
[19:14] <Minaplo> ["No thanks." Said Fatima. "Goodnight, everyone."-
[19:14] <Minaplo> […-
[19:15] <Minaplo> [She'd slept for ten hours. The common room was deserted.-
[19:17] <Minaplo> [Fatima showered, the heavy sleepy weighty feeling sloughing off as she soaked in the hot water. After that, she had a glass of milk and a boiled egg for breakfast before heading out.-
[19:18] <Minaplo> [… Only, she realised, she had no idea where anything was.-
[19:18] <Minaplo> [Fatima stood in the corridor outside the door to her room, rocking on the balls of her feet lightly. Left looked identical to right. Where was she even trying to go?-
[19:19] <Minaplo> [Ultimately she decided that not knowing where anything was didn't matter if she had no goal in mind. She turned left and started to walk.-
[19:21] <Minaplo> [The Damocles wasn't nearly as ostentatious as the Dorian had been. The cafeteria was a much more spartan affair- no nymphs, no holographic orchestra- although the food was better than usual military fare. The promenade had been given over to laboratories- no bar and grill here, no bookshop.-
[19:22] <Minaplo> [There were some entertainment facilities but even these had a physical bent. A military training room. Sporting fields- basketball, tennis, hockey. No elaborate gilded theatres or massive chess rooms.-
[19:23] <Minaplo> [After an hour of idle exploration, Fatima would spy a door to a curiously-titled room: Observatory Deck.-
[19:23] <Minaplo> [She entered.-
[19:24] <Minaplo> [The Observatory Deck was a two-storey deal, with the door on the bottom storey, whilst a ramp led up to an elevated flat space above. The far wall and part of the roof was not square or rectangular, but rounded, like a half-dome.-
[19:26] <Minaplo> [Fatima walked up the ramp up onto the top deck. Along the wall was a computer console, with what looked like a dozen options.-
[19:43] <Minaplo> [She studied the console- presumably this room had a function after all. "Ah."-
[19:43] <Minaplo> [After a few seconds, she pressed one of the buttons- one marked 'Open Observatory Shield'.-
[19:44] <Minaplo> [A loud mechanic rumble rippled through the room. Fatima looked over her shoulder, a little nervous, as though someone would walk in and tell her she was somewhere she wasn't supposed to be.-
[19:52] <Minaplo> [Slowly, the round walls of the Observatory gave way- they separated down the middle, the two halves slowly receding into the walls.-
[19:52] <Minaplo> [Fatima's eyes widened; she let out a gasp.-
[20:35] <Minaplo> [She knew what she'd see, of course, but that was different from actually seeing it. A vast expanse of velvety-black, serving as nothing but a canvas for an endless array of stars, arrayed in what looked like strokes across the void; lustrous, bright streams lighting up the darkness.-
[20:41] <Minaplo> [Fatima took it all in, running from one end of the room to the other so she could look closer at a particular part of the view. It took her fifteen minutes to remember that there were directional controls.-
[20:42] <Minaplo> [After that, she began to rotate the observatory, filling her view with other things. It wouldn't take her long to focus on Earth.-
[20:43] <Minaplo> [It was… Smaller than she'd anticipated. They must've been rather far away.-
[20:46] <Minaplo> [But it was still lovely. Impossibly beautiful, even with its scars. And there were so many of them, ugly and red and raw. Antarctica was a constantly pulsating, shifting sea of angry, dissonant colours. Blue ocean gave way to ripping red, orange, black, then the pure negative space at the heart of the Dead Sea.-
[21:04] <Minaplo> [The current view of the Earth settled over east Asia…-
[21:04] <Minaplo> [The door to the room opened. Fatima turned around.-
[21:05] <Minaplo> [Ephraim von Brandt entered the Observatory, his hard shoes making for distinctive donk-donk footsteps. He walked up the ramp, turned to look at her and smiled. "Ah, hello, Fatima."-
[21:06] <Minaplo> ["Mr von Brandt." Said Fatima in return. She gave him a smile and a respectful nod.-
[21:11] <Minaplo> [He walked over to her- although not too closely. He studied the Earth for a second before turning to her. "How are you feeling?"-
[21:13] <Minaplo> ["I feel fine, sir. All things considered." She said.-
[21:17] <Minaplo> ["Yes, all things considered." Said von Brandt. "I suppose knowing that without you, our view would be rather more blighted helps take the edge off, doesn't it?"-
[21:18] <Minaplo> [A light blush crept into her cheeks. "I would not go so far as to say that, sir." Said Fatima. "It took all of us to achieve victory."-
[21:24] <Minaplo> ["True, but I'm glad you were there in either case." He said with a smile.-
[21:25] <Minaplo> [There was a moment's pause.-
[21:25] <Minaplo> ["Here to enjoy the view, sir?" Asked Fatima.-
[21:26] <Minaplo> ["That's right." He said. "I come here every day if I can."-
[21:29] <Minaplo> ["I can understand why, sir."-
[21:30] <Minaplo> ["Yes, it's a gorgeous sight, but that's not why I come here."-
[21:30] <Minaplo> ["Pardon me, sir." Said Fatima.-
[21:31] <Minaplo> ["It's fine." He said with a smile. "I simply like to… Contemplate in here, I suppose. To think. Do you mind if I change direction?"-
[21:31] <Minaplo> ["Not at all, sir."-
[21:32] <Minaplo> [He rotated the observatory away from the Earth, back so that the entirety of the display was taken up by the starfield.-
[21:35] <Minaplo> ["If I may be so forward ask to ask what you think when you see this?" He asked.-
[21:37] <Minaplo> ["My thoughts?" Fatima frowned, turning towards the view. "I am not sure if I can satisfy your curiosity, sir. When I see this, I admire its beauty. I pick out patterns…"-
[21:37] <Minaplo> ["Mmhmm…?"-
[21:37] <Minaplo> ["I-I am no philosopher, sir." Said Fatima, fidgetting.-
[21:38] <Minaplo> ["What, you don't have a deep well of intricately layered thoughts about the broad infinite cosmos? The nerve, young lady. What have you been doing with your life?"-
[21:38] <Minaplo> ["Taking other peoples', sir."-
[21:39] <Minaplo> ["True enough!" He said, smiling and shaking his head. "But in all seriousness, I was simply curious as to how it made you feel. You seem to feel awe, at the very least."-
[21:40] <Minaplo> ["I think anyone would feel awe if they saw this, sir." Said Fatima.-
[21:40] <Minaplo> ["True. Most people do. The great cosmos- it's very good at inspiring awe. What about fear?"-
[21:41] <Minaplo> [She looked back at the stars- and shook her head. "Sorry, sir. No fear from me."-
[21:47] <Minaplo> ["I see! Well that's good, though." Said von Brandt.-
[21:48] <Minaplo> ["Do you feel fear, sir?"-
[21:48] <Minaplo> ["Me? Ah… You know, I never used to." Said von Brandt, staring out into the starfield. "I wish I could say the same was true now, but I admit there's a little fear there."-
[21:48] <Minaplo> ["Because of the Angels, sir?"-
[21:49] <Minaplo> ["Hm? Oh, no. Not the Angels. The Angels came from Earth, after all." Said von Brandt.-
[21:51] <Minaplo> ["When people talk about being afraid of the cosmos, it's typically in terms of existential dread." He said. "Unless they're talking about meteors or gamma ray bursts or black holes, of course. But usually, it's because when compared to the sheer scale of eternity, their own lives seem meaningless."-
[21:51] <Minaplo> ["I see." Said Fatima.-
[21:51] <Minaplo> ["You don't feel any of that?"-
[21:53] <Minaplo> [She smiled a little. "I believe that the will of God means we all have some important meaning to play, sir. Just because we do not change the universe with our every breath does not make us meaningless."-
[21:53] <Minaplo> ["Ah, of course." He smiled. "Faith. So rare nowadays, at least in the religious sense. We keep the old trappings of course, but…"-
[21:53] <Minaplo> ["Why do you think that is, sir?"-
[21:54] <Minaplo> ["Ah, well. I can't say." Said von Brandt. "I never believed to begin with, but I would say those who lost their faith lost it due to the sheer horror of Second Impact. Or perhaps it was lost when people began seeing what Angels and Evangelions could do."-
[21:55] <Minaplo> ["That always bothered me, sir." Said Fatima.-
[21:55] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"-
[21:56] <Minaplo> ["We live in an age of miracles, after all." Said Fatima with a wry smile. "An age where entities can bend reality at will, make the established laws of nature meaningless."-
[21:57] <Minaplo> ["Ah, of course. It's reset the board, you might say. The possibility of some greater being who could do that on a cosmic scale seems easier to believe now." Said von Brandt. "And yet…"-
[22:03] <Minaplo> ["And yet it is not as though there has been some great awakening of faith." Said Fatima. "Only dangerous cults like the Children of Adam."-
[22:05] <Minaplo> ["It is curious, no doubt." Said von Brandt. "Perhaps this is why God, if he exists, doesn't show himself so overtly."-
[22:05] <Minaplo> ["Possible, sir."-
[22:06] <Minaplo> ["But no, it's good that you have your faith." Said von Brandt. "I even admire it. Men like me, why, we have to put our faith in other, more terrible things."-
[22:06] <Minaplo> [Fatima didn't say anything.-
[22:07] <Minaplo> ["A question for you." Said von Brandt. "Let us say we live in an uncaring universe. Yet it is one in which we possess the power to shape reality through thought, as per the AT Field."-
[22:07] <Minaplo> [She nodded.-
[22:08] <Minaplo> ["Now imagine that humanity had power enough to impose its will on the universe." Said von Brandt. "What if we made the universe care?"-
[22:09] <Minaplo> ["Like…"-
[22:10] <Minaplo> ["Like as in, if we reshaped its very nature, gave it a… Character, if you will. A mindfulness." Said von Brandt.-
[22:10] <Minaplo> ["As in, what if we created God?"-
[22:10] <Minaplo> ["Mmm… It fits." He said after a second.-
[22:11] <Minaplo> ["An interesting situation, sir."-
[22:11] <Minaplo> ["Quite. But would existence be better for it?" Asked von Brandt. "What if we made the universe care, only to find out that it hated us…?"-
[22:19] <Minaplo> ["Could we not change it again?" Asked Fatima.-
[22:19] <Minaplo> ["We could try, of course, but it is easier to impose your will on nothing than to impose it on something." Said von Brandt.-
[22:22] <Minaplo> ["I see. Then I suppose it would be bad for us."-
[22:23] <Minaplo> ["Quite right." Said von Brandt.-
[22:24] <Minaplo> ["Sorry. I am unsure as to the point of this, sir."-
[22:26] <Minaplo> ["Ah, my apologies, Fatima." Said von Brandt. "All I wanted to say was that there are many who feel dread because the universe is uncaring. But the universe to care would be a far worse thing. Imagine if all the power of the cosmos was aware of -you-, and judged you as wanting… Terrifying stuff."-
[22:26] <Minaplo> ["Very, sir."-
[22:29] <Minaplo> ["Quite. Such thoughts keep me awake at night, I admit." Said von Brandt. "I was curious if you felt the same, but it seems not." He let out a little sigh, giving her a smile. "Mary thinks I'm a little foolish."-
[22:31] <Minaplo> ["Madame Caine seems very practically-minded, sir."-
[22:31] <Minaplo> ["Ahaha, ouch. Am I really that bad…?"-
[22:31] <Minaplo> [Fatima faltered slightly. "I did not mean insult, sir-"-
[22:31] <Minaplo> ["I'm playing, Fatima. Just playing. In truth, I agree with you, and her in fact, although it's not because she's practical that she thinks me foolish."-
[22:32] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"-
[22:32] <Minaplo> ["She just tells me that I have nothing to fear so long as she's around to keep the big bad universe at bay." He said, laughing.-
[22:33] <Minaplo> [Fatima smiled. "I understand now, sir. Faith in terrible things."-
[22:33] <Minaplo> ["Ah, got it in one." Said von Brandt. "It seems you've uncovered my goddess."-
[22:34] <Minaplo> ["In retrospect, it seems obvious, sir."-
[22:34] <Minaplo> ["In retrospect, most things seem obvious." Said von Brandt.-
[22:35] <Minaplo> ["True, sir."-
[22:35] <Minaplo> [A pause.-
[22:36] <Minaplo> ["They barred you from seeing me whilst I was in captivity." Said von Brandt.-
[22:36] <Minaplo> ["They did, sir. I tried to see you, but they felt it was a bad idea." Said Fatima.-
[22:36] <Minaplo> ["Understandable." Said von Brandt. "You're not the only person they tried that with…"-
[22:36] <Minaplo> ["…?"-
[22:37] <Minaplo> ["Nevermind." He said with a smile. "I was tempted to ask about William, but I felt that might be a poor idea. Did you see him?"-
[22:38] <Minaplo> [Fatima's smile faded. She clasped her hands together. "I did. He was still in his coma."-
[22:38] <Minaplo> [von Brandt nodded slowly. "I'm so sorry, Fatima. I know he would've been thrilled to see you."-
[22:39] <Minaplo> ["…" She was silent for a moment. "How was it that you were rescued?"-
[22:41] <Minaplo> ["After the Adeptus Evangelion Corps returned from Metatron's moon, the Damocles attacked and caught them off-guard. During the chaos, we were able to land some boarding parties on their vessel, and the Solomon Primes rescued me."-
[22:41] <Minaplo> ["I see. You were not able to save William too…?"-
[22:42] <Minaplo> ["I am afraid not." Said von Brandt. "I know that our forces tried. I was easy to rescue because of my link to Mary, but William…? Not so much. And resistance was fierce. We lost Hauptmann."-
[22:43] <Minaplo> ["Hauptmann? Oh, no…" Fatima shook her head slowly. "That is bad news."-
[22:44] <Minaplo> ["Very. He's a good man."-
[22:44] <Minaplo> ["T-The ship. What happened? Was it destroyed…?"-
[22:45] <Minaplo> ["No. It managed to escape through a chaotic dirac jump." Said von Brandt. "We have no idea where it went, or if it is even in one piece, but the smart thing to do is to assume it takes more than that to kill the AEC."-
[22:46] <Minaplo> ["But you don't know if William's alive?"-
[22:47] <Minaplo> ["Mary will be able to tell you very soon if he is." Said von Brandt, without a hint of his usual smile. "Have hope, Fatima. He's a strong young man. He'll come back to you if you have faith in him."-
[22:55] <Minaplo> ["…" She was looking down at her feet. She didn't respond for a few seconds. "S… Sorry. I just-"-
[22:56] <Minaplo> ["You're worried." Said von Brandt. "Who wouldn't be worried? I know he means a lot to you. He means a lot to me as well."-
[22:56] <Minaplo> ["Of-Of course." Said Fatima quietly. She took a deep breath.-
[22:57] <Minaplo> ["Sir, my memories of the battle end after Metatron destroyed my unit." She said. "I do not know what really happened after."-
[22:58] <Minaplo> ["Ah… I see. Your sisters couldn't tell you?" He asked.-
[22:58] <Minaplo> ["I intended to ask." Said Fatima. "But for some reason I could not bring myself to do that."-
[23:06] * Zack is now known as ZackSleep
[23:09] <Minaplo> ["I see." Said von Brandt. "Well then, allow me. After Metatron destroyed your unit, it went berserk. It took EVA-00 and Aline Blanc and, when you all emerged out of the Egg, you escaped to us along with 00 and Aline."-
[23:09] <Minaplo> ["Ah-?!" Fatima looked up suddenly. "Blanc is here?"-
[23:10] <Minaplo> [He sucked his teeth for a second. "I'm… Not sure how to say this, Fatima, but I'm afraid Aline Blanc is dead."-
[23:10] <Minaplo> ["W-What…?"-
[23:11] <Minaplo> ["She was special." Said von Brandt. "That is to say, she possessed a great power. A power that Mary needs to further her goals. Aline Blanc refused to join Mary, so Mary had her put to death."-
[23:11] <Minaplo> ["Ex… Executed…?"-
[23:12] <Minaplo> ["I'm afraid so."-
[23:12] <Minaplo> [Fatima stared off into space for a few long seconds, fighting a sudden sensation of vertigo.-
[23:12] <Minaplo> [She took a few long deep breaths, fighting down the urge to start hyperventilating. "But what about William?!"-
[23:17] <Minaplo> ["I know." Said von Brandt. "That's something of a problem-"-
[23:18] <Minaplo> ["A problem?! He- he loves her." Said Fatima. "When he finds out, it'll destroy him."-
[23:18] <Minaplo> [Von Brandt nodded once, slowly. "I know."-
[23:18] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[23:19] <Minaplo> ["There's something else on your mind." Said von Brandt.-
[23:19] <Minaplo> ["It's not important."-
[23:19] <Minaplo> ["Ah. So it's about your feelings. Say it."-
[23:20] <Minaplo> ["… When he finds out what I did- taking her- then…"-
[23:20] <Minaplo> [Von Brandt let out a sigh. "Yes, he may very well blame you for what happened."-
[23:24] <Minaplo> ["But I didn't do anything wrong." Said Fatima. "My unit went berserk! I had no control over anything…"-
[23:25] <Minaplo> ["That's not what they're going to tell him." Said von Brandt. "In truth, it's in their best interests to poison as many of the wells of his past as possible."-
[23:25] <Minaplo> ["Well of course it is!" She shouted. "And that's really easy when you go and execute the woman he loves!"-
[23:29] <Minaplo> ["You're absolutely right." Said von Brandt, bowing his head. "We prioritised other goals above the wellbeing of you and William. I can only ask your forgiveness for your pain."-
[15:27] <Minaplo> [Fatima stared at him for a few seconds, her balled fists uncurling slowly. "…"-
[15:38] <Minaplo> ["Aline was his wish." Said Fatima, her voice carefully calm. "This was a very deliberate betrayal."-
[15:38] <Minaplo> ["You mean in the sense that we knew full well what we were doing when we did it?" Asked von Brandt.-
[15:38] <Minaplo> ["Correct."-
[15:41] <Minaplo> ["Then yes, you are of course absolutely right once again." Said von Brandt. "Please, do not misunderstand. I did not want to do it. I want the best for William. And as the man who developed the framework that he was trained in, I know exactly what it means to deliberately deny a Templar his one wish."-
[15:42] <Minaplo> ["But I am afraid that Mary and I had to do what was best for humanity. His wish simply was not of comparable priority."-
[15:42] <Minaplo> ["The best for humanity." Said Fatima quietly. She walked over to the observatory controls, refocusing them on Earth.-
[15:43] <Minaplo> ["Can we really reach the best for humanity by trampling on hopes and shattering dreams?"-
[15:46] <Minaplo> ["A wise question." Said von Brandt. "You've heard of the phrase 'The ends justify the means'?"-
[15:46] <Minaplo> ["Of course. But-"-
[15:51] <Minaplo> ["Of course, it's a very simplistic view of consequentialism." Said von Brandt. "Things are rarely as simple as all that. Too much depends on the character of the agent involved."-
[15:51] <Minaplo> [Fatima turned to look at von Brandt quizzically.-
[15:51] <Minaplo> ["Have you heard of Sir Bernard Williams?" Asked von Brandt.-
[15:52] <Minaplo> [Fatima shook her head.-
[15:55] <Minaplo> ["Ah. He died in Impact, but he was one of the great philosophers of our time." Said von Brandt with a smile. "He was not a great fan of consequentialism. May I go on?"-
[15:55] <Minaplo> ["You may."-
[15:58] <Minaplo> ["Williams claimed that consequentialism's problem was that it alienated the actor." Said von Brandt. "That is, in a philosophy that argued that the ends are more important than the means, that achieving an outcome is of prime importance, then it does not matter who is performing the action. That is to say, we do not become actors making decisions, but simply… The means by which outcomes occur."-
[15:58] <Minaplo> ["I see." Said Fatima uncertainly.-
[16:09] <Minaplo> ["Allow me to give an example." Said von Brandt. "Imagine you are a slave worker toiling in the mines of a brutal dictator. One day, there is a revolt. You did not take part, however. A hundred slaves are lined up in a group. You are taken aside and told to shoot the ringleader. If you do, the other ninety-nine slaves will be spared. If you do not, however, all hundred slaves will be shot then and there."-
[16:14] <Minaplo> ["What would you do?" Asked von Brandt.-
[16:28] <Minaplo> ["…" Fatima shot von Brandt a dark look. "That's a cheap manipulation. If Ebele were here she'd beat you up."-
[16:29] <Minaplo> ["Trust me, Fatima, not everything I say and do is a manipulation, cheap or no." Said von Brandt. "It is easy for people to speak 'logically' about ethical dilemmas when they haven't personally been involved in them."-
[16:29] <Minaplo> ["So your choice of conundrum was just to make me honest?"-
[16:46] <Minaplo> [von Brandt unfurled his hand towards her. "What would you do?"-
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["…" She thought for a minute.-
[16:52] <Minaplo> ["If I kill the ringleader, then ninety-nine people live. If I don't, a hundred die." Said Fatima. "So shouldn't I do what allows more people to survive?"-
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["So are you saying it doesn't matter if the killing is done by you or by the dictator or his men?" Asked von Brandt.-
[16:54] <Minaplo> ["Well, I didn't say that."-
[17:00] <Minaplo> ["But haven't you only considered the consequences?" Asked von Brandt. "Your point of comparison was arithmetic. Ninety-nine live, zero die, so the first option must be better, regardless of the actual situation, or the actors involved."-
[17:01] <Minaplo> ["What's your point?"-
[17:04] <Minaplo> ["Williams argued that there's a moral distinction between someone dying because I killed them, and someone dying as a by-effect of an action or omission of action on my part." Said von Brandt. "Consequentialism focuses purely on the outcome- that is, someone dying. It removed that important distinction. The consequentialist mindset argues that my killing someone is just as bad as me letting someone else kill them because I refuse to."-
[17:12] <Minaplo> ["So what, I'm supposed to just let a hundred people die?" Said Fatima.-
[17:16] <Minaplo> ["Look at you, trying to find a simple solution." Said von Brandt with a smile. "I'm not offering one answer one way or another. What I'm saying is that there's more to the situation than arithmetic- the hand holding the gun is as important as the number of heads the bullets hit."-
[17:17] <Minaplo> ["… I've done that, though." She said after a moment's thought. "I've killed one person to save a hundred. Or more so. Assassinated warlords so the UN could pacify the area. Killed generals and destabilised armies to allow for easier, less bloody victories."-
[17:20] <Minaplo> ["Yes, you have." Said von Brandt. "I wonder what thoughts those memories arouse in you."-
[17:22] <Minaplo> ["Not regret." Said Fatima. "I killed evil people to protect the innocent."-
[17:22] <Minaplo> ["But have you killed the innocent to protect the innocent?" Asked von Brandt.-
[17:22] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[17:24] <Minaplo> ["Funny." Said von Brandt. "You began this by asking of me if the best path for humanity was paved with shattered dreams. But it seems to me that anyone willing to shoot that rebel ringleader to save ninety-nine others would know that answer better than I ever could."-
[17:25] <Minaplo> ["But hold on." Said Fatima. "Is that exactly what you have all done, dozens of times? Is this not the same thing, but scaled up? A million for humanity? You tell me all of this, but you all seem very willing to shoot whoever needs shooting to find the right outcome."-
[17:26] <Minaplo> [Von Brandt smiled.-
[17:28] <Minaplo> ["One of the things Williams warned against was that consequentialism, as I said, alienates the moral actor. Our status as moral actors, making decisions, is removed. We become simply empty vessels enacting consequences."-
[17:28] <Minaplo> [Fatima eyed him silently.-
[17:31] <Minaplo> ["And therein lies the other problem. It demands too much. It demands -everything-. Our personal preferences, commitments, our individuality must be sacrificed, because only by becoming impersonal to actions do you find the ability to truly enact perfect consequentialism."-
[17:31] <Minaplo> ["The vessel has to be emptied to make room, huh?" Said Fatima wryly.-
[17:32] <Minaplo> ["Hence the empty vessel." Said von Brandt.-
[17:32] <Minaplo> ["Could such a person ever even exist?" Asked Fatima.-
[17:32] <Minaplo> [Von Brandt paused. He looked over at the Earth for a long quiet minute.-
[17:33] <Minaplo> ["If she did exist, then in my eyes she would be no less than God."-
[17:34] <Minaplo> ["…" Fatima felt a chill down the back of her spine.-
[17:34] <Minaplo> ["Faith in terrible things." Said von Brandt with a smile, now turning towards Fatima.-
[17:37] <Minaplo> ["Caine." Murmured Fatima. "I know of her… Control over certain things. Over life and death. Could she not reverse Blanc's death?"-
[17:57] <Minaplo> [Von Brandt let out a chuckle. "You know, you really are quite remarkable. You must be a very selfless lover."-
[18:01] <Minaplo> ["What do you mean?"-
[18:03] <Minaplo> ["I know you and William were intimately close." Said von Brandt. "A little carelessly too, if I remember-"-
[18:04] <Minaplo> ["Uhm. What does that…?" Fatima reddened.-
[18:05] <Minaplo> ["Well, I mean in the sense that for a time, he was yours. Then all of a sudden he… Wasn't. He was looking for someone else." Said von Brandt. "Many people would find that hurtful, even traumatic. Lesser people would be a little glad that their lover's rival had died. Yet here you are wondering how to reverse that! Remarkable…"-
[18:06] <Minaplo> ["I fear more that he would never speak to me again if he knew the role I played. Which you say he most certainly will." Said Fatima. "That is the opposite of selfless."-
[18:07] <Minaplo> ["Point. My apologies. For what it's worth, I had believed that you simply wanted what was best for him."-
[18:08] <Minaplo> [Fatima stared. Then she started to laugh, a high-pitched incredulous laugh.-
[18:08] <Minaplo> ["What do you find so funny?" Asked von Brandt with a polite smile.-
[18:09] <Minaplo> ["It is not at all about wanting the best for him. It is about respecting his decisions." Said Fatima. "If I truly wanted what was best for him, then I would have pulled him out of this life years ago."-
[18:09] <Minaplo> ["You say that as though you didn't try that very thing, Fatima."-
[18:10] <Minaplo> ["Not nearly as hard as I should have."-
[18:12] <Minaplo> ["But you still tried." Said von Brandt. "As you said, you had to respect his decisions. Even if they hurt you?"-
[18:12] <Minaplo> ["Of course." Said Fatima.-
[18:12] <Minaplo> ["That's still remarkable. You don't feel any anger or hatred at Blanc at all?"-
[18:13] <Minaplo> ["Of course I feel angry. Angry at hurt. But Blanc did nothing except exist." Said Fatima. "William chose to leave, to chase her. Why would I blame Blanc for William's actions?"-
[18:14] <Minaplo> ["Many would. Which is why I'm doubly glad that you don't." Said von Brandt.-
[18:16] <Minaplo> ["For the record," He continued. "I think the boy would've been happier if he'd stayed with you."-
[18:16] <Minaplo> ["Do you- no, nevermind."-
[18:17] <Minaplo> ["No, go on." Said von Brandt.-
[18:17] <Minaplo> ["You know him in a different way than I do. Do you- do you know why he didn't stay with me?"-
[18:18] <Minaplo> ["… I could offer theories." Said von Brandt.-
[18:18] <Minaplo> ["Please."-
[18:19] <Minaplo> ["William has always had a big heart." Said von Brandt. "And he's always been quick to fall in love."-
[18:20] <Minaplo> ["True. Unsatisfying, though." Said Fatima. "Loyalty is a type of love, too."-
[18:21] <Minaplo> ["Absolutely. So we have to look at some other theories." He entwined his hands together, the pointers on each hand pointing upwards at his chin. "There's always the possibility that it was the irresistable draw of the Adam to his E-Type. Few who realise they possess that bond, even on a purely spiritual level, can resist it."-
[18:22] <Minaplo> ["The same doesn't seem to be true in reverse, though? From what I was told, Blanc was fairly resolute in rejecting William."-
[18:23] <Minaplo> ["Oh, in many cases the E-Type will be drawn to their Adam, yes." Said von Brandt. "But it is weaker for them. It is the role of the E-Type to hold the reins, not to be bound by them."-
[18:23] <Minaplo> ["That hardly seems fair."-
[18:24] <Minaplo> ["That would be because the bonds weren't supposed to be fair." Said von Brandt. "Never forget that beneath the folklorish, romantic dream appeal of the Libido Effect lies a simple truth: it is a pragmatic measure to bind a loyal protector to a person of importance."-
[18:28] <Minaplo> ["Your simple truth is an ugly truth." Said Fatima. "I find it hard to look at Zhang Yanmei and Isaiah Gabriel and see a relationship of master and servant."-
[18:30] <Minaplo> ["Well, that may be an oversimplification." Said von Brandt. "The Libido Bond is a metaphysical binding. The love- and the reasons that love exists in the first place- is what permits it to exist in the first place. Those bindings have a pragmatic purpose, yes, but they rely on love existing."-
[18:31] <Minaplo> ["So the only thing that stops it from becoming a relationship of master and servant is love and respect." Said Fatima.-
[18:31] <Minaplo> ["That's the long and short of it." Said von Brandt.-
[18:32] <Minaplo> ["Yet the pull is greater for one member than the other…?"-
[18:33] <Minaplo> ["Quite true."-
[18:33] <Minaplo> ["So the E-Type can distort the Adam's life even without trying…"-
[18:34] <Minaplo> ["P…ossible, but I have to ask whether you think that takes the choice out of William's hands or not."-
[18:36] <Minaplo> ["It's an influence, I think, but I would still say the choice lies with him." Said Fatima. "I am not going to disrespect him and say he has no control over his own actions. Many people can overrule influences and do every day."-
[18:36] <Minaplo> ["Mmm. My, he's not getting off the hook that easily, is he?"-
[18:37] <Minaplo> [Fatima gave him a cool, wry smile.-
[18:40] <Minaplo> ["Then there's the third theory." Said von Brandt. "Remembering that William knew Aline as a child, and were very close friends, it is easy to conclude that she formed a cherished part of his memories. A part of himself he could never really forget or overlook. Bolstered by our friend the Libido Effect of course."-
[18:41] <Minaplo> ["That sounds unsettling when applied to children." Said Fatima.-
[18:41] <Minaplo> ["It does, doesn't it? Ikari used to prefer the term 'Red String Effect', but not everyone would understand what that means."-
[18:42] <Minaplo> ["Hasn't stopped scientists before." Said Fatima.-
[18:42] <Minaplo> [von Brandt let out a chuckle.-
[18:43] <Minaplo> ["But if that were the case." Said Fatima. "Then his real mistake would not be trying to pursue a part of who he was- there would be more to it than just attraction. Memory, questions, self-identity…"-
[18:43] <Minaplo> ["His real mistake would have been falling in love with me in the first place."-
[18:46] <Minaplo> [Von Brandt didn't say anything. He only gave her a sympathetic look.-
[18:48] <Minaplo> ["Hah. Perhaps I already knew all these answers." Said Fatima blithely. "Maybe it's time I accepted my lot and just tried to move on."-
[18:48] <Minaplo> ["Young lady, that doesn't solve the problem, it just hides it." Said von Brandt gently.-
[18:48] <Minaplo> ["Problem?"-
[18:51] <Minaplo> ["You gave your heart to someone in full, and then that person chose someone else over you." Said von Brandt. "The idea that you could bare your all for someone, be seen in totality, then found wanting compared to another… When I listen to the hurt behind your words, that's what I hear. The idea that you're somehow lacking in worth on some fundamental level. Trust me when I say that you aren't."-
[18:51] <Minaplo> [Fatima smiled. "Then why did he leave me?"-
[18:54] <Minaplo> ["Maybe he was afraid he wouldn't measure up?"-
[18:55] <Minaplo> ["That's sweet of you to say." Said Fatima. "But for some reason I don't believe you."-
[18:56] <Minaplo> ["Understandable." He smiled. "I'm so sorry, my dear. The only person who can really answer your question is William. Until you speak to him, until you know for yourself, you'll find it very hard to move on, as you say."-
[18:57] <Minaplo> [He turned back towards the Earth. "Inshallah, you may even fulfill your heart's desire."-
[18:58] <Minaplo> ["… I should go." Said Fatima. "Thank you for your time, Mr. von Brandt."-
[18:58] <Minaplo> ["Thank you, my dear. I hope you have a good day."-
[18:59] <Minaplo> ["The same to you." She said politely. Then, Fatima turned and walked down the ramp, and out the door… Leaving von Brandt alone with his view.]

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