Komm Susser Tod 2 5 4

[16:54] <Raphael> "There's no need to take that tone, Miss Chiisana."-
[16:54] <Raphael> Engineering, though outrageously cutting-edge by most standards, was a pale imitation of the facilities the UEF had once had access to in the Geofront. Though the return to Earth was mere days away, for the moment they were making do.-
[16:54] <Raphael> For June - the twelfth Ayanami, currently reduced to LCL as she awaited her chance to return to the waking world - this left her in one of Dorian's reconstitution tanks. Orange fluid floated in a bath of clear surovite, with a cover of similar material sealed over the top to ensure no foreign materials could make their way in, and no LCL could make its way out.-
[16:54] <Raphael> All this sat inside a cramped, locked room, with access only available via the observation bay sitting on the other side of a one-way mirror. It was here that two figures sat, letting faint sounds of conversation drift through the now open door.-
[16:54] <Raphael> "I thought it was necessary at the time, that's all." Raphael said mildly, swiping through a seemingly endless series of briefings and reports on the tablet computer he was balancing on his lap. He was seated in a wheelchair, his injuries still not healed enough for crutches or unaided walking.
[16:56] <@Minaplo> ["Well, so long as you thought it was necessary." Said Chiisana sardonically, her arms folded.-
[17:02] <@Minaplo> [The days where Chii had easy access to a flamboyant wardrobe had long since gone. She now wore a thick olive one-piece jumpsuit, lined with pockets; it was zipped up to the top, its collar hiding her chin. Over that she wore a dark brown body-length poor weather coat. Her long, once-shiny hair was tied back into a simple ponytail that trailed down her back. All in all, it was a much starker, more spartan outfit than she usually wore, and it only reinforced the natural sharpness and authority of her bearing.-
[17:04] <@Minaplo> ["I mean, Honestly…! It's not -Makoto- imbecilic, but it's close…"]
[17:09] * Raphael sighed, setting the tablet aside and turned his full attention to Chiisana. "Your sister was going to die if I didn't help her. I regret that I worried you all, truly, but I don't think the action's as foolish or wrong-headed as you're making it out to be."
[17:24] <@Minaplo> ["Are you absolutely sure there was no other way to give Rei those few extra seconds? Maybe one involving a gun? Maybe a grenade? Did you even try shouting 'Look, it's Zhang Yanmei'?"]
[17:27] <Raphael> "I struggle to bother an Iron Guard with anything smaller than a bolter, let alone a Prime. The Yanmei idea is worth some thought though," He added, smiling a little, "I'll keep it in mind for next time."
[17:29] <@Minaplo> ["I'm sure you will."-
[17:32] <@Minaplo> [She huffed lightly, turning back towards the Junequarium, one long leg folded perfectly over the other. "Well, you survived, at least. And so did Rei, which is good, as I'd prefer she not have to be rebodied if we can help it." She let out a small sigh. "You're extraordinarily lucky to have not been eviscerated."]
[17:38] <Raphael> "I am." He admitted as he reached out to lay a hand on her shoulder. "… I suppose this means you won't allow me to speak poorly of Colonel Hyuga any more."
[17:42] <@Minaplo> ["Hmph~" Chiisana ran a hand gaily through her hair. "Only if you're gentle about it. I believe propriety dictates that only I'm allowed to be truly rough with him now."]
[17:45] * Raphael smiled. "If you say so, ma'am. I'll allow it if it means I get to see you happy."
[17:48] <@Minaplo> [She beamed in return. "I think I'll be very happy, yes."-
[17:48] <@Minaplo> ["And even better, it means I finally have a chance to put all that advice Misato gave me to use!"]
[17:50] <Raphael> "… even knowing you're joking does nothing to stop me feeling horrified." Raphael said, paling ever so slightly.
[17:51] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, it could be worse." Said Chii, her grin becoming positively catlike. "I saw Go and Tsubaki speaking to James Riel the other day."-
[17:51] <@Minaplo> ["I can't be certain, but I'm fairly sure I heard Tsubaki mention something called 'Fifty Shades of Rei'…?"]
[17:52] * Raphael stared. He stared for some time. Eventually he shivered.-
[17:52] <Raphael> "That man should not be allowed around children."
[17:53] <@Minaplo> [Chiisana let out a small, smug giggle.-
[17:59] <@Minaplo> ["Still, though. It's a shame you missed the wedding. It was quite the occasion." She said cheerfully. "A lot of memorable things happened. I mean, I made up and out with Makoto, but you missed the spirit who conjured furry animals up for the children, or the four hour Iron Guard clan dance-off… Sera got in a fight, too!"]
[18:01] * Raphael let out a long sigh. "Misato told me. It was with the NeoSpartans this time?"
[18:03] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, that's right. I don't know all the details, but it sounds like he was acting a little too… Nice… About Mary Caine. And one of the Neos splashed him with her drink, blamed him for Blanc's death, then stormed out."-
[18:03] <@Minaplo> ["I give it a B-." She added loftily. "It doesn't beat the time Savage pushed Bruce into him and he tried to assault the boy."]
[18:05] * Raphael gives her a stern look. "No need for schadenfreude, Chiisana."
[18:08] <@Minaplo> ["No need, but it's very satisfying." Said Chiisana sweetly. "Anyway, he was escorted off to security for that little stunt."]
[18:09] <Raphael> "Mmm." Raphael murmurs, shaking his head slightly as he reaches for the tablet again. "I try to empathise with the boy, but he does not make it remotely easy."
[18:13] <@Minaplo> ["Ah, well. So long as he doesn't hurt anyone too seriously…"]
[18:15] <Raphael> "Of course…"-
[18:16] <Raphael> Raphael fell silent for a moment, eyes turned back onto one of the briefings loaded onto his tablet. When he spoke up again, it was a little more hesitantly. "… May I ask you a question Miss Chiisana?"
[19:09] <@Minaplo> ["Of course."]
[19:21] * Raphael was quiet a few seconds longer, tapping his finger gently against the face of his tablet as he gathered his thoughts. "… People have spoken to me a lot these past few days as though nothing is changed or… lost when a person is rebodied. As though there is perfect continuity. Do you believe it?"
[19:22] <@Minaplo> ["Of course things are changed, in the sense that the individual will have undergone the trauma of dying." Said Chiisana. "Which leaves marks. But I suspect that's not what you mean…"]
[19:26] <Raphael> "Not precisely what I meant, no. To put it another way…" He frowned. "If I -hadn't- stepped in and Rei had been killed, would you consider her new body to be the same person? I know the scientists say the soul provides continuity, but…"
[19:27] <@Minaplo> ["Yes, I would."]
[19:28] * Raphael nods, but the frown remains. "I believe you, but I still worry…"
[19:30] <@Minaplo> ["You worry that she wouldn't be the same? Or you worry that you wouldn't see her as the same?"]
[19:35] <Raphael> "Both." He says, looking over at the reconstitution tank. "I worry that she'd lose something, some spark. Perhaps she'd gain something different in its place. Sometimes I feel as though the changes to my shape destroyed the person I was, even if what replaced it was better."-
[19:36] <Raphael> "… or maybe I'd be so busy looking for flaws and changes that our relationship would change in a way I couldn't take back."
[19:40] <@Minaplo> ["I see…"-
[19:42] <@Minaplo> ["So you think the cause of the change would be the new body, the process of rebodiment, not the event that killed her?"]
[19:43] <Raphael> "In my unscientific way, yes."
[19:44] <@Minaplo> [She chuckled quietly. "I understand. Actually, I remember, when I was very young, wondering the same thing."]
[19:44] <Raphael> "Oh?"
[19:45] <@Minaplo> ["Quite. Around that time, we had just started to become aware of Rei's growing pains. Of course, we didn't quite have that issue."-
[19:47] <@Minaplo> ["I remember being in some science lab somewhere, I think Yui had just brought me along to watch and play. I overheard a lot, scientists talking about… Memories, neurology, psychology, that sort of thing."-
[19:48] <@Minaplo> ["So I did what seemed to be the only sensible thing." She said with a snort. "I went to Gendo's office, sat down in his chair and asked him about the rebodyment process, whether it could change a person… I mentioned reincarnation, about how much input 'soul continuity' had on people who had completely different experiences each time they reincarnated."-
[19:49] <@Minaplo> ["Well, you knew Gendo. That old bastard was never, ever without a response."]
[19:51] * Raphael offered her a small but significant wince. "No. No he was not."
[19:51] <@Minaplo> [She laughed.-
[19:52] <@Minaplo> ["He walked around the table and took my hand. Then he walked me all the way out of base to his car. He drove us out into the city. It was the first time I'd left the Minifront."-
[19:54] <@Minaplo> ["I still remember all the looks I got thanks to my hair and skin and eyes." Said Chii. "It was an… Unnerving experience. Still, all throughout that he held my hand. He took me to shops- bookshops, clothing shops, a video shop, an ice creamery… Heh, I remember him telling me it was impolite to walk and eat ice cream at the same time, but if I didn't tell Yui, then he wouldn't either."]
[19:56] <Raphael> "That was… surprisingly human for the man." Raphael said, obviously caught off-guard. "Not that I thought he was incapable of it, maybe just incapable of showing it."
[19:59] <@Minaplo> ["Understandable." Said Chii with a grin. "Shinji once told Maya that Gendo never held his hand as a kid 'because it's hard to bend down with a stick up your ass.'"]
[20:01] * Raphael stifled a smile with great effort. "… Yes. Well." He cleared his throat. "What happened then?"
[20:04] <@Minaplo> ["Took me to an orchestra." Said Chii. "They were having a two-hour concert, music from the baroque European era, I think. I remember sitting entranced by it all, all the sounds and the rhythms and the instruments- and all the hard working musicians…"-
[20:06] <@Minaplo> ["Then after we left, he took me to another, smaller concert, not an orchestra- a rock band, I think. An hour in, they started playing a song. He leaned over to me and said 'does this sound familiar'? I said it did, and he pointed out that it was a rock cover of one of the baroque songs we'd just seen done by the full orchestra."-
[20:07] <@Minaplo> ["He said, 'if you've heard a song before, you can recognise the theme even if a lot of the elements change. In the end, the instrument is just an instrument- it's there to facilitate the music and nothing more. The core remains the same.'"]
[15:03] <Raphael> "But surely the instrument still matters," he persisted.
[15:18] <@Minaplo> ["Of course, but people don't come for the instruments, they come for the music."]
[15:20] <Raphael> "Hmm."
[15:23] <@Minaplo> [Chii sniffled. She quickly wiped some sudden tears out of her eyes and cleared her throat.-
[15:24] <@Minaplo> ["Pardon me. It's just- that's one of my precious memories. I don't talk about it very often, because it hurts to think about how things could've turned out otherwise. Idle dreams."]
[15:27] * Raphael returned to himself at the noise, turning to face Chii with a hint of surprise and shame.-
[15:27] <Raphael> "… I'm sorry, Chiisana. I was being self-involved." He reached out to put an arm around her, but slowly and ready to pull away if it seemed she wanted him to. "Thank you for sharing that with me, even when you know it hurts."
[15:34] <@Minaplo> ["It's alright." She said, giving him a smile and a dismissive little wave. "Just because it hurts shouldn't take away from the fact that it's still a sweet memory. Besides, it really is what helped ground my thinking about all this."]
[15:35] <Raphael> "It was good of him. It was the right thing to do."
[15:38] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, it was."-
[15:38] <@Minaplo> ["I don't know how much it'll help with your doubts, though." Said Chiisana. "But it's the best way I can think of to try to get you to see how I- we- look at it."]
[15:40] <Raphael> "I appreciate that." He said, pulling himself awkwardly - and a little stiffly - out of the hug. "And… I can try to see it that way. I -will- try-." He ammended.-
[15:44] <Raphael> "… thank you for indulging me, ma'am. You're the only one I could think to talk to about this." He gave her a little smile. "I know you'll just see it for what it is - an old man trying to adjust his point of view."
[15:45] <@Minaplo> ["I understand." She said with a warm smile.-
[15:46] <@Minaplo> ["But if you're an old man, does that mean you think Misato's an old woman…?"]
[15:46] <Raphael> "…"-
[15:47] <Raphael> "Nooooooooo." He said very slowly and carefully, annunciating the sound as he made a subtle glance back towards the door.
[15:48] <@Minaplo> ["So that's the sort of man you are." Said Chiisana seriously. "Raphael Guillory, christmas cake eater…"]
[15:49] <Raphael> "I am being entirely serious! She's only 30!" Raphael said, his voice rising in alarm.
[15:55] <@Minaplo> ["No wonder Linden used to take you to pastry shops. She thought you were a literal cake eater."]
[15:58] <Raphael> "Your Hyuga is taking his life in his hands." Raphael said sourly.
[16:01] <@Minaplo> ["Hmhmhm~"-
[16:01] <@Minaplo> [At this point, Raphael would hear the door open, the hinges squeaking slightly.]
[16:03] * Raphael winces to himself before turning very slowly and carefully so as not to jostle his bandages, almost certain he would find Misato looming in the doorway.
[16:14] <@Minaplo> [Standing in the doorway was a man.-
[16:14] <@Minaplo> [Or rather, an Iron Guard.-
[16:15] <@Minaplo> [He was over seven foot tall and wearing a clean white linen robe tied with a purple sash that had been thrown over a shoulder. He had long, lustrous blonde hair that seemed to almost glow with light.-
[16:17] <@Minaplo> [His face was strong and powerful without looking hard. It was also unmarked by scars or blemishes. He had bright, piercing blue eyes and warm, lovely lips.-
[16:19] <@Minaplo> ["Far be it being in my nature to intrude without interlude for purposeful interviews." Said the Iron Guard. "But would you be objectionable to the proposal of my presence?"]
[16:21] <Raphael> Certainly not someone he had expected, but he managed to moderate his surprise as he painstakingly brought his chair around, giving Chiisana a glance on his way past.-
[16:22] <Raphael> "No, sir." He says, offering his good hand when he'd finally finished turning - it had only provided him extra time to process the flowery speech, after all. "Raphael Guillory."
[16:24] <@Minaplo> ["Far be it from my place to purport omniscience, but I reassure you that that was known to me beforehand." He said with a smile, reaching over to shake Raphael's hand. The Guard's hand was massive, although oddly slimmer and more delicate-looking than most. It could still wrap around Raphael's head and crush it like a grape, but…-
[16:24] <@Minaplo> [Perhaps it would crush it delicately?-
[16:24] <@Minaplo> ["And you must be the redoutable Chiisana Himesama." He said, turning to Chii.-
[16:25] <@Minaplo> ["Quite." She said, giving him a short bow.-
[16:25] <@Minaplo> ["Please forgive the rudeness of my entrance and permit my nomenclature to egress my lips." He said with a smile, closing his eyes. He had a soft, supple voice.-
[16:25] <@Minaplo> ["I am Albus Mortens, Apostle Prime and Last Son of Azariah Caine."]
[16:30] <Raphael> "With the Wizard Army," Raphael nodded. That much was obvious of course - most of the Iron Guards on the ship now were - but the last part of the introduction seemed like an excuse to reevaluate the situation.-
[16:31] <Raphael> "… It's nice to meet you, Albus. I apologize for not being able to offer you a seat." He gave the man a lopsided smile. "Just visiting Technical?"
[16:32] <@Minaplo> [No matter. Albus had pulled a leather-upholstered chair (more of a -throne-, it was so big) out of nowhere and was now sitting down, one leg crossed elegantly over the other.-
[16:32] <@Minaplo> ["Partly. I also came to find you."-
[16:33] <@Minaplo> [Chii's eyebrows were creeping into her hairline.]
[16:35] <Raphael> "Did you?" Raphael kept smiling as he tried to recall what he could from the information they possessed on the Wizard Army's Apostles. He did not look at Chiisana. Instead he was acutely aware of his own body and what it currently could not do.-
[16:35] <Raphael> "I apologize if I made you search too far. I know we're rather hidden away in here."
[16:38] <@Minaplo> ["No obstacle." Said Albus.]
[16:39] <Raphael> "Of course. What can I help you with, Mr. Mortens?"
[16:41] <@Minaplo> ["I made the acquaintance of a proud warrior in the body of a tiny girl who believed you might desire lunch." Said Albus, holding out an MRE.]
[16:43] <Raphael> It took him a split second, but as soon as that had passed he was laughing.-
[16:43] <Raphael> "You met Suzie, hmm?" He asked, reaching for the MRE.
[16:45] <@Minaplo> ["She has found common cause with a particular member of our extraordinary coterie named Duncan."]
[16:46] <Raphael> "She has." He smiled, setting the food in his lap for a moment. "We've had a few conversations in passing ourselves. He seems like a good man."
[16:53] <@Minaplo> ["A terribly inconvenient one, but yes."-
[16:54] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, yes. I heard about the time he told Zhang Yanmei that she had to wear a radsuit, even though the leak to Engineering had been fixed." Said Chii, smirking.]
[16:56] <Raphael> "… Yes, well. It's not as though he falls under our command structure, and I'm sure Yanmei wouldn't hold a grudge." Not even remotely true, of course, but it was best to be polite.
[16:59] <@Minaplo> ["Holding grudges. So passe." Said Albus, shaking his head slowly, his blonde hair moving in a sleek wave.]
[17:06] <Raphael> "Mmm." He took the opportunity to glance over at Chiisana as the conversation lapsed into a lull.
[17:14] <@Minaplo> [Chii's expression was pleasant enough, but she was watching him quite closely.-
[17:15] <@Minaplo> ["May I make an inquiry most personal regarding the circumstances of your choice of locale?" Asked Albus.]
[17:39] <Raphael> "Ye-… oh. Yes." He scratches at his neck awkwardly, getting lost in the syntax. "One of Miss Chiisana's sisters is going through reconstitution, and we were keeping her company in our way."
[17:41] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, I see. Another victim of the seemingly insouciant capability of the Last Angel…"]
[17:50] * Raphael shakes his head. "She had some difficulties slightly earlier than that, but I'm afraid it's a fairly private matter."
[17:52] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, I see. Most perturbatory."-
[17:54] <@Minaplo> [He stood up, walking over to the LCL tank and gently placing a hand on the surface. "A most confounding, counterintuitive concept, no? That this liquid might contain a soul."]
[17:58] <Raphael> "Quite." Raphael agreed, turning his chair just enough so that he could take in both the window and the throne, his back to one of the observation room walls. "Something I still struggle to understand, I admit."
[18:10] <@Minaplo> ["Far be it for me to make false claims, especially in natures such as this- I cannot conceive of considering myself an expert on these matters." Said Albus. "Yet…"-
[18:14] <@Minaplo> ["I know she's in there." He said quietly. "Aware if not awake. Dreaming a pleasant dream or confronting unpleasant truths. I wonder if she dreams of home, wherever that might be? Or of family? Perhaps she is considering what promises or threatening fates led her to where she is now. I wonder if she wishes there were someone else in there."-
[18:16] <@Minaplo> [Chii glanced over at Raphael. Her eyebrows had drawn together; it gave her a worried, nervous look.]
[18:31] * Raphael stared at the Guardsman's back with a face blank of any expression at all save, perhaps, for a trace of bewilderment. "…"
(15:30) <@Minaplo> [Albus turned- elegantly- in midair, managing to, as part of the same movement, pull his throne sleekly over the floor, landing just where he intended to sit.-
(15:31) <@Minaplo> ["What do you think?"]
(15:47) <Raphael> "… I don't know." Raphael said after a moment of thought. "The way it's been explained to me by Technical, disencorporation is a kind of… lack of self, but then I've heard anecdotal reports that seem to suggest otherwise. Periods of self-reflection, perhaps, or personal spirit journeys. My understanding of it isn't the most scientific, as you may be able to tell."
(15:54) <@Minaplo> ["Ah." He nodded sagely. "Yes, I am well-acquainted with the laborious explanatory efforts of Technical divisions. I find their loquacious chinwagging long-winded and confusing."-
(15:54) <@Minaplo> [Chii stared at him flatly.-
(15:57) <@Minaplo> ["In my own experience, disincorporation is not a lack of self exactly." He said. "But a lack of self-definition. That might sound identical, but there are subtle differences."-
(16:05) <@Minaplo> [He raised a hand towards the LCL-filled tank. "When you lose self-definition, you are reduced to this. Now we know that this is nutrient-rich, oxygenated liquid. It is pumped into Eva plugs during operation. It also flows from Lilith, and in prehistoric times flowed into the oceand and created life."-
(16:09) <@Minaplo> ["It's biological potential, and that's mirrored in what the spirit experiences." Said Albus. "It took years of evolution to mould that liquid into stable biological forms, and so it takes years of experiences to mould a consciousness into a defined identity. That is what your reports reference. The 'spirit journeys' are the soul, lacking self-definition, seeking to define itself, and how does one do that without questioning their identity, reflecting on themselves, and rebuilding it back up?"]
(16:16) <Raphael> "Hmm. Entirely reasonable." Raphael said, looking back over at the tanks.-
(16:17) <Raphael> "You have experience with this, though?"
(16:19) <@Minaplo> [He smiled, placing a hand on his chest. "Far be it for me to claim unvalidated expertise." Said Albus. "But the subject extracted incomparable scrutiny from my father."]
(16:26) <Raphael> "Ah." Raphael said, shifting his full attention back to Albus. "Yes, that would make sense."
(16:32) <@Minaplo> ["He believed the process could be a veritable psychological disorder panacea." Said Albus.]
(16:34) <Raphael> "Really? That seems like a rather extreme treatment process."
(16:43) <@Minaplo> ["Indeed you think so?" Said Albus. "My father was a psychologist. He had watched clients undergo veritable years of unavailing treatment. My father believed that if he could refine the process and null the risk, then the entrenched cases, the ones without hope, could be cured within three weeks."]
(16:46) * Raphael made a thoughtful noise. "Admittedly I am looking at it the process it is now, not the one it could be. It's not as though plenty of common medical procedures were not extreme ones in their infancy."
(16:48) <@Minaplo> ["And the process would actually work, unlike lobotomy." Said Chiisana.-
(16:48) <@Minaplo> [albus winced slightly. "The dreaded L-Word."-
(16:49) <@Minaplo> ["But furthermore, I do believe, it was my father's way of trying to seek atonement."]
(16:55) <Raphael> "For his early work with NERV?" Raphael asked curiously. "… Actually, it would've been GEHIRN, wouldn't it?"
(17:00) <@Minaplo> ["Yes. My father was part of Project Evangelion, where he worked on neuroconditioning the Evas themselves. Later on his talents would be put to use on the NeoSpartan project."]
(17:05) * Raphael nods. "I'd heard about his involvement with the NeoSpartans, at least. I can understand why that would have an impact…"
(17:12) <@Minaplo> ["Indeed." Said Albus. "Many of the people who worked on the project were filled with guilt, pain and remorse. My father was no different."-
(17:14) <@Minaplo> ["In truth, many of those same people understand that their actions are beyond redemption in the eyes of any except God." Said Albus. "That their actions, no matter the reason, left a stain most indelible."]
(17:23) <Raphael> "But Mr. Caine felt burdened to try?"
(17:27) <@Minaplo> ["Yes, he was. In the process he also became convinced of the risk to humanity that his… Family posed."]
(17:37) * Raphael nodded silently, not quite willing to step into that minefield of his own voilition. He stole a glance at Chiisana.
(17:47) <@Minaplo> [Chiisana returned it, looking apprehensive.-
(17:48) <@Minaplo> ["You were both there when he died." Said Albus quietly.]
(17:51) <Raphael> "I was." Raphael said, folding his working arm across his chest. This, at least, is a question he can address head-on.
(17:52) <@Minaplo> ["Yes." Said Chii, nodding slowly.-
(17:53) <@Minaplo> ["What was he like when he died?" Asked Albus.]
(18:04) <Raphael> "Warped, physically at least. He had taken an Angel into himself and was utilising its power." Raphael said. His voice was firm, but he seemed to be proceeding as gently as he could. "I was told at the time that the Angel was influencing him, but I could not truly say."
(18:05) <@Minaplo> ["He did something, did he not?"}
(18:08) * Raphael gave the Guardsman a difficult to read look. "He did several somethings. Did you mean one in particular?"
(18:09) <@Minaplo> ["Something to you… Or someone close to you."]
(18:11) <Raphael> "He did."
(18:15) <@Minaplo> ["Please tell me what you experienced."]
(18:19) <Raphael> "To what end, Albus?" Raphael said, and his tone remains fairly gentle. "I apologise for being difficult, but I have my concerns about this discussion."
(18:24) <@Minaplo> ["Concerns? By all means I am happy to discuss them."]
(18:28) <Raphael> "I know I am not particularly well-liked among many Guardsmen, particularly LN loyalists. I accept and understand this, so long as the disagreements remain nonviolent. So far they have, which I am grateful for." Raphael massages his left bicep absently, working out some kink in the muscle.-
(18:30) <Raphael> "But I believe I have reasonable cause for concern when the "Last Son of Azariah" begins asking me about my involvement in the events of his death. I intend no disrespect, I only aim to be clear about my reservations."
(18:36) <@Minaplo> ["I intend no violence on you due to your actions involving my father's death." Said Albus. "Now or later, or on your family, or your friends. Now I understand your misgivings, but truly, a man who knows what I know would understand that, even if I were the sort to seek vengeance on you for your actions against my father, knows that taking that vengeance now would impugn my chances to retrieve my father's soul later, and with all due respect, killing you simply would not be a priority."-
(18:38) <@Minaplo> ["My father would have begged forgiveness on your behalf, and I would not be his last true son if I did not grant his wish. Which is not to say that it does not hurt, nor is it to say that the desire to enact a most terrible and cold vengeance on you is alien to me. It is not in my nature to lie: there was a time where both were very true. Now only one is true, and it is not the vengefulness that remains."]
(18:43) * Raphael kept watching Albus closely for a few seconds longer, but the real wariness seemed. to be gone from the look. "… I understand. Thank you for your honesty, Mr. Mortens. I can't offer an apology for that pain that's worth much, but I would like to give one regardless."
(18:45) <@Minaplo> ["You're welcome." Said Albus with a short, slow nod of acknowledgement.]
(18:47) <Raphael> Another glance shot towards Chiisana. "All that said, I believe I can answer your question."
(18:54) <@Minaplo> [Chiisana had been very quiet and reserved ever since they'd started talking about what had happened in the Synfront. Her hands were folded over her lap and her face was slightly downcast.-
(18:54) <@Minaplo> ["Please." Said Albus.]
(18:58) <Raphael> "Mr. Caine made mental contact with both myself and other members of my squad in some sort of AT scan, although I would hazard a guess that is not the event you were searching for." Raphael said slowly, acutely aware of Chiisana's discomfort. "He made a far more traumatic attack on Rei Ayanami in the moments before his death via direct contact."
(19:00) <@Minaplo> ["Please continue."]
(19:06) <Raphael> "He buried the hand with the Angelic implants into her chest, and she started screaming. The flesh moved around his hand like water." Raphael said, his voice growing tense at the memory. "It took weeks for her nightmares to subside. We're not entirely sure what he did."
(19:08) <@Minaplo> ["… Hm." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "And marks were left on you as well, I think. If I had to guess, I would say you, too, encountered some form of vision shortly after as well?"]
(19:09) * Raphael frowned - and it was a frown slightly deeper than one might expect for the simple question that prompted it. "Why do you say that?"
(19:10) <@Minaplo> ["Far be it for me to position myself intentionally as an authority, but I suspect I know what he did."]
(18:17) <Raphael> "Do you?"
(18:27) <@Minaplo> ["What you and Rei now possess is something we call the Aegis of Azariah."]
(18:30) * Raphael eyed Albus in resolute silence for a moment. "… I see." He said, with a tone that seemed to suggest the precise opposite.
(18:41) <@Minaplo> ["It is a- spiritual shield, you could say, designed to protect you from external AT Field influence."]
(18:46) <Raphael> [18:44] <Raphael> "And why would he do that?" Raphael asked, a little more guardedly this time.
(18:50) <Mianplo> ["Far be it for me to claim absolute expertise on the way he thought." Said Albus. "But I can hazard a guess. When confronted with an Ayanami, he probably was operating under the theory that the Ayanamis-" he gestured towards Chii- "Are conditioned in special ways as part of the project that brought about their new lives. Not only mental ones, but spiritual ones as well. Considering that this was Rei of all people, it would be reasonable to assume that one of his foes intended to use her as a lynchpin in some plan or scheme… Essentially, granting her the Aegis of Azariah would turn her into a wild card."]
(18:55) * Raphael chewed this over for a long moment, his index finger beating out a slow rhythm as he regarded Albus and Chiisana both. "… alright. Assuming I believe that logic, applying the same to me would make no sense."
(18:56) <Mianplo> ["Really? No sense at all?" Said Albus. "Why?"]
(19:01) <Raphael> "I was, fundamentally, a nobody." Raphael said mildly, with no particular judgement. His easy tone aside, he was watched Albus closely. "A useful soldier at best, and hardly a part of any scheme."
(19:06) <Mianplo> ["Nonsense! The instant, the very -picosecond- you befriended Rei Ayanami you became an incidental yet inextricable part of any scheme in which she is an element. Even if the part you played would be that of a redundancy, to emotionally manipulate her into doing something she would've done if she were conditioned."]
(19:10) * Raphael gave the man a stony look, but this time he offered no retort.
(19:13) <Mianplo> ["I understand that you feel secure using your seeming insignificance as a protection against the machinations of the mighty, but you have simply done too many things, moved in too many circles, to remain out of sight of someone who would use pin-pointed murder against the family members of her enemy en-masse, hoping that the ripple effects would achieve her goals if direct action failed."]
(19:14) <Raphael> "… Point taken." Raphael admitted finally.
(19:16) <Mianplo> ["So he shielded Rei, and then shielded Raphael to shield Rei emotionally." Said Chiisana. "That's great, but there's more than one way to Rei's heart, and I'd wager that whilst Raphael is a big one, it's not the -biggest-."-
(19:16) <Mianplo> ["Yes, well…"-
(19:17) <Mianplo> [Albus shrugged helplessly. "The gregarious, as they say, are gonna gregarious."]
(19:22) * Raphael looked momentarily bewildered by the Guardsman's newest strange speech pattern, but Chiisana's point seemed more pressing. "As Chiisana says, shielding me achieves little if that was his intent." He gave a one-shouldered shrug.-
(19:22) <Raphael> "I am willing to assume that this protection is not something we can replicate?"
(19:24) <Mianplo> ["No. Which is not to say that it is strictly impossible but rather that it is beyond our means to achieve it in a timely fashion."]
(19:25) <Raphael> "A matter of power or a matter of practice?"
(19:25) <Mianplo> ["Both. To replicate it would require the Cradle of Adam and my father's expertise."]
(19:28) <Raphael> "Unfortunate." Raphael says, frowning in the direction of the reconstitution tank as he collects his thoughts.
(19:35) <Mianplo> ["Quite."-
(19:36) <Mianplo> ["In any case. I myself possess the Aegis." Said Albus. "So that makes us like spiritual brothers."]
(20:11) <Raphael> "… I see." Raphael said slowly, not quite sure what to make of the proclamation. "You have it for similar purposes?"
(20:12) <Mianplo> ["Yes. I've found it quite useful."]
(20:12) <Raphael> "Ah?"
(20:16) <Mianplo> ["Here and there." Said Albus. "The two of you are not the only individuals in the world to broadcast mind-altering AT Field effects, I'll have you know."-
(20:17) <Mianplo> ["Uh…?" Chii coughed, straightening up.]
(20:17) * Raphael glances away, awkwardly scratching at his neck. "… Yes. Well."
(20:19) <Mianplo> ["There are some forests in Tanzania that now contain mutated trees that produce a similar effect. Fact."]
(20:22) <Raphael> That earned a raised eyebrow.-
(20:22) <Raphael> "Really?" He asked, genuinely curious despite himself. "Due to Metatron's attack?"
(20:24) <Mianplo> ["Yes indeed. I dare not proclaim myself to be an expert on Post-angelbellum African xenofloric mutative effects, of course. But there are many curious and terrible things to be found in many of the places that weren't obliterated. This forest, for example, would lure in nearby travellers, who would stay there long enough to either die of exposure or be devoured by animals."]
(20:27) <Raphael> "Excellent. We were really running out of things to worry about." Raphael deadpans.
(20:28) <Mianplo> ["There are plus sides too, of course."]
(20:30) <Raphael> "Oh, most likely, yes." Raphael acknowledged, repeating that hunched shrugging motion.
(20:30) <Mianplo> ["Why, in that very same forest I found flowers that, when properly prepared, have impressive restorative effects!"]
(20:32) <Raphael> "What happens when it's prepared incorrectly?" Raphael asked, having ascertained the arc of this particular conversation.
(20:33) <Mianplo> ["You hallucinate for six to eight hours and then your cerebellum ruptures."-
(20:33) <Mianplo> ["It was not a pleasant experience." He said, wincing slightly.]
(20:34) <Raphael> "Mmm." Raphael murmured, clearly unsurprised.
(20:35) <Mianplo> ["In fact, since I have seized your attention so raptly…"-
(20:35) <Mianplo> [A large book appeared in Albus's hands.-
(20:37) <Mianplo> ["Why don't I read you some of my notes?" He opened it to a random page. "Ah! Here is a most amazing entry on the Mankilling Eagle…"]
(20:39) <Raphael> There was no simple escape from this, no way to slip out the door that was not both excrutiatingly slow and tremendously obvious. Instead he was left to shoot a desperate glance in the direction of Chiisana.
(20:40) <Mianplo> ["Have you met Remy Fabien Awala?" Said Chiisana instantly, sharing Raphael's desperate expression for just a second before her ladylike poise returned.-
(20:40) <Mianplo> ["Remy Fabien…?"-
(20:41) <Mianplo> ["He's a Neospartan. He's keeping a trio of Armored Lions on the Liberty Bell. I hear he has all kinds of notes on Angelspawn and Ferals…"-
(20:41) <Mianplo> ["Really now? How curious!"]
(20:45) <Raphael> Raphael was happy to seize on the opportunity. "He works with them in a repurposed cell in the brig if you're ever interested. Very keen to show them off, in my passing experience."
(20:46) <Mianplo> ["Fascinating. And he's just a biotypical?"]
(20:46) <Raphael> "To the best of my knowledge."
(20:47) <Mianplo> ["Very curious…"-
(20:47) <Mianplo> [Albus stroked his cheeks for a few seconds.-
(20:48) <Mianplo> ["Then I shall see if he would be interested in a frank exchange of concepts, theories and ideas."]
(20:50) <Raphael> "Understood, sir." Raphael nodded, relaxing in his seat a fraction. "Thank you for coming to speak with us, at least."
(20:50) <Mianplo> ["You are most welcome."-
(20:51) <Mianplo> [He stood, managing to make the action somehow encompass pushing his throne and his book back into a dirac sea.-
(20:51) <Mianplo> ["Of course you may call on me if you need any assistance."]
(20:52) <Raphael> "Of course. I'll pass on the information to those who might need it."
(20:52) <Mianplo> [Chiisana nodded enthusiastically.-
(20:52) <Mianplo> ["Good day, then." He said with a bow- before heading out of the room.]
(20:55) <Raphael> … Raphael watched him go, listening to his unusually light footfalls recede down the corridor before finally turning to face Chiisana with a single eyebrow slightly raised.
(20:55) <Mianplo> [Chii stared back at Raphael.-
(20:56) <Mianplo> [Then slowly she started to smile- then grin, then started giggling.]
(20:57) * Raphael just shook his head as he rubbed at the bridge of his nose as if trying to ward of a headache.

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