Lizzie S First Parade

[06:43] <Yanmei> It was cold. Somehow, far colder than Paris-2 was, even around this time of year. -
[06:46] <Yanmei> Zhang Yanmei was ready for it, however, judging from the thick, long, coat she was wearing. It was brand new. Her previous one, all brown and suave looking, had been ruined during certain… incidents some weeks prior. -
[06:54] <Yanmei> The replacement was white enough so that the falling snow blended into it. The same was true of little Lizzie's hooded coat, as Yanmei guided her through the security check point of Leningrad's NERV branch and out onto the surrounding streets.
[06:56] <AdEvaGM> [Behind her, wearing a long black double-breasted overcoat trimmed with fur was Isaiah, who was rugged up to the full. Woolly gloves, boots- they were quite the contrast to his pale face and hair.-
[06:56] <AdEvaGM> ["Snowsnow~" Cooed Lizzie, jumping up and down and swinging her clumsy hands through the air at snowflakes.]
[07:04] <Yanmei> "We should have seen about grabbing a translator," Yanmei murmured, trying to grip one of Lizzie's flailing hands again, least she run off, and then grinned at Isaiah. "Unless you've learned Russian when I wasn't looking?"
[07:06] <AdEvaGM> ["As a matter of fact, I have!" He said with a grin.]
[07:07] <Yanmei> "Wh-what? Really?"
[07:07] <AdEvaGM> ["Of course. I did it this morning." Said Isaiah, grinning yet more broadly.]
[07:12] <Yanmei> "Oh yeah?" Yanmei chuckled. "Then you can hail us a cab to the parade site with no trouble?"
[07:13] <AdEvaGM> ["No, of course not. The translator can, though."]
[07:19] * Yanmei made a little face at him. "How misleading~"
[07:23] <AdEvaGM> ["And here I thought you knew all about my skill with tongues~"-
[07:24] <AdEvaGM> [Lizzie bent down to run her gloved hand through the snow. "Maamaa play?"]
[07:29] <Yanmei> "Hehehe… Lizzie! Shall we throw snowballs at Daddy? Remember how?" Yanmei scooped up a handful and packed it into a ball to demonstrate.
[07:37] <AdEvaGM> ["Snowballs!" She scooped up her own handful and packed it together. "One~ Two~" She threw the snowball at Isaiah, who barely leapt out of the way.-
[07:37] <AdEvaGM> ["Two on one? No fair!"]
[07:42] <Yanmei> "Now, now. You've faced worse odds?" Yanmei lobbed her own snowball at him.
[07:58] <AdEvaGM> [It caught him on the chest. "Oof! Damn you." He grabbed one of his own and hurled it back.-
[07:58] <AdEvaGM> [There was a polite cough nearby.]
[08:05] * Yanmei -snapped- into the more appropriate demeanor that she reserved for work, although not before the snowball landed. It did so against her cheek, but fortunately a sharp gasp and a hand to the spot where it hit was all the reaction that came with it.
[08:10] <AdEvaGM> [An Ayanami was standing there, wearing a simple light blue coat. She had red hair. "I am Ayanami Ni. Mr. Gabriel asked me to be your translator. I'll be happy to assist."-
[08:10] <AdEvaGM> [Isaiah let out a snicker.]
[08:18] <Yanmei> "Yes, thank you, Ni, for helping us out." She transitioned into a smile and light cough. "You'll excuse us. We were just, ah… demonstrating a game to Lizzie."
[08:21] <AdEvaGM> ["I see." Said Ni neutrally.-
[08:21] <AdEvaGM> ["Thanks for coming, though, seriously." Said Isaiah. "We appreciate it."-
[08:21] <AdEvaGM> ["It's no hassle. Shall we go?"]
[08:26] <Yanmei> "Let's!" Yanmei moved to usher Lizzie along again. "Say hello, sweetie."
[08:26] <AdEvaGM> ["Hihi!"-
[08:27] <AdEvaGM> [Ni knelt down a little. "Hello. What's your name?"-
[08:27] <AdEvaGM> ["Lizzie!"]
[08:29] <Yanmei> "It'll be her first parade?" Yanmei beamed down at her. "She's very excited, aren't you Lizzie."
[08:30] <AdEvaGM> [She nodded enthusiastically.-
[08:30] <AdEvaGM> ["Well, in that case, we should probably get going." Said Ni, rising. "Do you have transport?"]
[08:31] <Yanmei> "Not yet. We were thinking of grabbing a cab."
[08:33] <AdEvaGM> ["You can use my car." Said Ni.]
[08:34] <Yanmei> "Your car?" Yanmei blinked. "You don't mind?"
[08:36] <AdEvaGM> ["Not at all."-
[08:36] <AdEvaGM> ["That'd be really great." Said Isaiah enthusiastically.]
[08:42] <Yanmei> "Shall we, then?"
[08:43] <AdEvaGM> [She nodded.-
[08:44] <AdEvaGM> [The car was simple, functional and black. It was rather warmer inside than it was outside- a fact Yanmei would miss 20 minutes later when they parked in an inner-city multi-storey carpark. The wind was picking up, sending a chill through her skin.]
[08:53] * Yanmei chattered happily with Ni along the way, asking about the car and when she had gotten it, and - trying to ignore the chill - about Leningrad itself. "I know these events don't happen every day. What do you do for fun in the city when you can get away?"
[09:02] <AdEvaGM> ["It depends. Sometimes I read, or speak with Natasha. She knows the city quite well, in fact, has a lot of information about it."-
[09:02] <AdEvaGM> [They began to walk to their destination- the side of the main road leading through Leningrad-2, where people were already thronging on the sides.]
[09:10] <Yanmei> "Have you been to any of the theatres? Oh, or the ballet?" Yanmei glanced between her and the streets eagerly, and then noticed the very short Lizzie. "Ack. Isaiah, I don't think she can see…"
[09:13] <AdEvaGM> ["Hmm." Isaiah frowned. "We could put her up on my shoulders."]
[09:15] <Yanmei> "Right. Come here, sweetie…" And Yanmei reached for her to do just that.
[09:25] <AdEvaGM> [She lifted up her arms eagerly, and within a few seconds she was perched on Isaiah's shoulders, peering out over the street.-
[09:26] <AdEvaGM> ["I'll be happy to give you a running commentary." Said Ni. "I'm sure there'll be things you won't be familiar with."]
[09:35] <Yanmei> "That would be wonderful! Thanks a lot."
[09:42] <AdEvaGM> [Ni nodded. And then-
[09:45] <AdEvaGM> [It was as though a current had passed through the crowd. Excited murmurs and on-the-spot shifting spread amongst the watchers.-
[09:46] <AdEvaGM> ["It's about to start. It'll start with the Choir." Said Ni. "It always starts with the choir."]
[09:51] <Yanmei> "I see! Singers…" Yanmei craned her neck a little, peering along with the rest of the audience.
[09:58] <AdEvaGM> [They began to emerge at the end of the street- a great company of tall men, wearing crisp uniforms, marching in perfect order. They opened their mouths and sang in great powerful voices.-
[09:59] <AdEvaGM> [The people thronging the street began to sing in kind. "It's the anthem." Said Ni.]
[10:01] <Yanmei> "Oh," Yanmei said back. She didn't even try to follow along, knowing full well how much she would mangle it. But she stood up a little straighter and tried to look respectful, as the occasion called for.
[10:04] <AdEvaGM> [Lizzie let out a squeal of excitement, clapping her hands enthusiastically at the spectacle. The Choir passed on, their voices carrying for a while, before…-
[10:07] <AdEvaGM> ["The infantry." Said Ni. And indeed they were- companies from the Leningrad-2 Division marched in perfect unison down the main road, sparkling in dress uniforms that consisted of long coats and caps, railguns held at attention over their shoulders, a flagbearer carrying along the Soviet flag.-
[10:09] <AdEvaGM> [After that came the armour- imposing new battletanks bearing fierce Bolter Cannons and Maser Repeaters on the side.-
[10:09] <AdEvaGM> ["New vehicles." Said Ni.]
[10:10] <Yanmei> "Amazing," Yanmei noted, studying them with particular care. "First time I've seen these models up close? How about you?"
[10:11] <AdEvaGM> ["No, I've seen one or two of these before…"-
[10:11] <AdEvaGM> [The air filled with the howls of jet engines as a wing of brand-new fighter jets screamed over the sky, special red cloud trace left in their wake.-
[10:12] <AdEvaGM> ["Maamaa! Plane!"-
[10:16] <AdEvaGM> [The ground shook, and people began to gasp, pointing down the road. Yanmei would easily see why- a shape, 20 metres tall, maybe a little less, had stepped onto an intersection, forming an arch beneath which troops and tanks flowed. It was, without doubt, a Thruster Dreadnought.]
[10:21] <Yanmei> The jets… those actually made her smile falter as memories of similar models crashing came back to her. The Dreadnought made her eyes widen however, some of the previous delight surging back to her. "So they really are still using them!"
[10:27] <AdEvaGM> ["Of course. They intend to add four more to the one they have in Leningrad-2. They want a full five of them here by 2019."-
[10:28] <AdEvaGM> [The troops and tanks marched on, replaced by- and the sight of them caused gasps and the odd sound of shock amongst the crowd- Iron Guard.-
[10:29] <AdEvaGM> [… Except, Yanmei would realise, they weren't, not exactly. They were smaller, only a little taller than six feet, and the armour was less bulky, more streamlined, with interlocking plates that made her think of medieval knights. They wore helmets that had a strange, bear-like look to them- but they looked extremely ferocious nevertheless, bearing bolters and swords on their hips.]
[10:32] * Yanmei kept a decent, calm poker face. "What's their story? They don't quite look like the ones we've encountered before?"
[10:37] <AdEvaGM> ["They're not. They're normal human beings." Said Ni. She paused. "Mostly. They're not -enhanced-, but they're elite of the elite, commando-level. Someone developed specialised power armour for normal humans to wear… And here you go."]
[10:42] <Yanmei> "Oh… well, then! Maybe they'll end up mass-producing some of it for regular soldiers too, eventually?"
[10:44] <AdEvaGM> ["Possible."-
[10:46] <AdEvaGM> [The elites seemed to understand that their presence was unnerving adults and reducing a few small children to tears- in fact, it seemed as though they had planned a way to diffuse some of that from the start. They- in unison- took off their helmets and showed smiles and waves that didn't quite hide the grim cut of their faces. Behind them came army technicians, a little less prim and
[10:46] <AdEvaGM> perfect than the other marchers- they had sacks and threw things into the audience. Toys or flowers or the like- one of them bounced off Isaiah's head and into Lizzie's hands- it was a smiling bear wearing a crisp general's uniform.]
[10:53] * Yanmei grinned - a show of appreciation for the showmanship, clapping along as the crowd's tension eased. It turned into outright giggling at Lizzie's gift. "That's just adorable… And nicely done, Isaiah~"
[10:54] <AdEvaGM> "Hah. Thanks." Said Isaiah, grinning wryly.-
[10:55] <AdEvaGM> ["Daadaa! Bear!" She shook General Bear enthusiastically, bouncing it up and down upon his head.-
[14:02] <Minaplo> ["The parade is nearing an end. After that there'll be a short speech, and lunch." Said Ni. "The lunches are usually popular."]
[14:03] <Yanmei> "No way… will they really serve lunch to all of these people? There are so many!"
[14:04] <Minaplo> ["It'll probably take awhile, but yes."]
[14:05] <Yanmei> "Hehe, impressive! No wonder so many civilians seem to love the military. I wonder if we could convince the Mayor of Paris to work something like that out with NERV or President Mazarin."
[14:09] <Minaplo> ["I wouldn't know." Said Ni.-
[14:09] <Minaplo> ["Can you imagine Raphael marching down the street?" Said Isaiah with a grin. "The ladies would be going wild…"]
[14:10] <Yanmei> "All the more reason to do it!" Yanmei smirked. "I'll pass the idea along~"
[14:10] <Minaplo> ["Be careful, though. It's only a hop, step and jump away from a pilot march- in plugsuits…"]
[14:14] <Yanmei‘> She saw a crowd of leering James Riels, and shook her head to clear away the image. Yanmei coughed delicately. "Surely, there would be some mandate about wearing our proper uniforms instead."
[14:15] <Minaplo> ["Not necessarily." Said Ni.]
[14:16] <Yanmei> "You’re not speaking from experience, are you~" she teased.
[14:19] <Minaplo> ["I am." Said Ni plainly.]
[14:19] <Yanmei> "Was it fun? Were you nervous?"
[14:20] <Minaplo> ["Not at all. It was interesting, seeing the people and speaking to them."]
[14:23] <Yanmei> "See, I would think so too! Did you all have to do it? Volkova was probably one big mass of shakes."
[14:23] <Minaplo> ["Natasha handled herself quite well." Said Ni with a slight edge.]
[14:27] <Yanmei> "Did she now?" Yanmei smiled. "That's great! She's totally come a long way?"
[14:28] <Minaplo> ["Mmm. Shall we move on?"]
[14:28] <Yanmei> "Ah? Certainly."
[14:32] <Minaplo> ["We should stick close." Said Isaiah, taking Yanmei's hand. "Looks pretty crowded…"-
[14:38] <Minaplo> [And indeed- the crowds had followed the marching procession down the road and into a large paved square- a statue of a man- Lenin, apparently- stood in the middle, in front of an imposing stone and marble government building.]
[14:43] <Yanmei> Yanmei, of course, followed along, peering up at the statue and building curiously. Eventually, her gaze shifted, searching for nearby podium setups.
[14:50] <Minaplo> [They were lined- from what she could see- on the very edges of the square. "Sausages and bread." Said Ni.]
[14:55] <Yanmei> "Smells very nice." Yanmei nodded. And indeed it did. It had been a while since she'd eaten, but she stood resolute anyway. She wondered if Lizzie was feeling it too, despite the snacks she'd given her earlier.
[15:00] <Minaplo> [Lizzie was looking around very interestedly, as though something had caught her attention…-
[15:03] <Minaplo> ["The Mayor is about to give his speech. Do you want me to translate?"]
[15:05] <Yanmei> "Thank you, Ni. Just the general highlights would be okay?"
[15:09] <Minaplo> [She nodded.-
[15:09] <Minaplo> [The gist was simple and nothing Yanmei was not used to. Better times were awaiting everyone- everything would be easier, everyone would be safe, no one would be allowed to hurt them.-
[15:10] <Minaplo> [This last point became rather premature- a second later, there were sounds- machine gun fire, it sounded like- and suddenly all hell broke loose. People swarmed left and right- someone ran into Yanmei, knocking her down, her grip on Isaiah's hand slipping.]
[15:17] * Yanmei hissed, first with alarm, and then at the fleeting pain, and then with alarm again as she staggered back to her feet. "Isaiah! Ni?!"
[15:24] <Minaplo> [No response, only screams- the gunfire spat out again, and was answered in kind by the telltale sound of bolters.]
[15:34] <Yanmei> Her head was whirling, now. Isaiah and Lizzie, gone… but she couldn't stand her ground either, with the crowd pushing around her. First urge was to struggle against it, in the direction where the two had been just moments ago, but of course they weren't there. They weren't -anywhere-!
[15:39] <Minaplo> [She saw shapes, now- someone was grabbing her by the arm and pulling her up. A man in a suit, wearing mirrored shades.]
[15:42] <Yanmei> "Hey!" She blurted it out in English. Scanned him quickly for obvious weapons or badges…
[15:43] <Minaplo> ["Don't worry." He said in French. "I'm with S2."]
[15:45] * Yanmei almost gave a sigh of relief… but she held it in, natural suspicions arising. "ID?" And then she paused, listening to the continuing screams and gunfire. "Safety, and then ID," she amended. "Let's go!"
[15:46] <Minaplo> [He nodded, pulling her to her feet- she could hear the sound of screams and crying children. Was one of them…?-
[15:47] <Minaplo> [The Agent got her to the edge of the square, where she was, at least, in no danger of trampling. He took out a NERV ID and flashed it.]
[15:49] <Yanmei> "I was with others!" She was half yelling now, to be heard. "Gabriel-Wei, and Pilot Ni, and… Elizabeth Bellamy!"
[15:51] <Minaplo> [He held his hand up to his ear, where Yanmei could see some sort of small bead sitting within it. "No- Gabriel-Wei and the Bellamy child. Yes-"-
[15:51] <Minaplo> ["…" He nodded. "It looks like they've been found."]
[15:55] * Yanmei exhaled, relief spreading visibly across her face. "Can we meet up with them?"
[16:04] <Minaplo> ["They're on the other side of the square at the moment. We'll have to wait."]
[16:05] * Yanmei let her eyes rove around the remaining panic, feeling her nerves tighten a little once more. "What's happening? There was gunfire!"
[16:20] <Minaplo> ["I don't know yet." Said the agent.-
[16:20] <Minaplo> [Someone emerged from the crowd- someone Yanmei recognised. Ni!]
[16:24] * Yanmei waved her over frantically, hurrying a few steps closer herself. "God, are you okay?"
[16:26] <Minaplo> ["I'm fine." Said Ni, looking a little worried nevertheless. "Looks like a cell of separatists decided to attack."]
[16:32] <Yanmei> "Of course…" Yanmei groaned, and shook her head. "How's it turning out? Do you know?"
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["The elites were nearby, it ended as you might expect. It's the panic that's the hassle."]
[16:35] <Yanmei> "Isaiah and Elizabeth are okay, at least. If we hang on for a little longer, we can catch up to them?"
[16:38] <Minaplo> [Ni nodded. "That's good to hear."-
[16:39] <Minaplo> [All in all it'd take about forty-five minutes to pacify the crowds- many of which were siphoned off into the side streets to thin out the square. Near one end of the square Yanmei would see cratered walls and splashes of red- the telltale sign of a battle involving bolters.-
[16:40] <Minaplo> [Several S2 men approached Yanmei now, Isaiah in tow- a Lizzie who'd been clearly crying holding his hand. "Maamaa!" She tore from his grip and ran over to Yanmei, latching onto her. "Maamaamaamaamaamaaa…"]
[16:42] * Yanmei promptly ignored the dirty sidewalk and knelt and stroked her hair comfortingly with one hand, the other going around her for a hug. "Were you a brave girl?"
[16:44] <Minaplo> ["She was. She stayed close to daddy and did what she was told." Said Isaiah warmly, kneeling down next to her- he caught Yanmei's eye. "You alright?"]
[16:49] * Yanmei smiled back at him, now a great deal more tiredly than she might have before the fray. "I am. Just glad you're both in one piece! Um…" She regarded the S2 agents collectively, standing and still holding Lizzie close. "Thank you."
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["Not a problem, ma'am."-
[16:49] <Minaplo> [Lizzie shakily put a hand into her coat, where she'd hidden General Bear. "Bear dirty." She said sadly. "Clean him, ok, maamaa?"]
[16:52] <Yanmei> It was so surreal that it almost made her laugh. She held it back, though, for Lizzie's sake. "Of course~ When we get back, we'll fix him up. Did you drop him?"
[16:52] <Minaplo> [She nodded slowly, sniffling as tears filled her eyes.]
[16:53] <Yanmei> "Aw, don't worry, don't worry," She cooed, stroking her hair again. A glance to Ni. "Maybe we should call it a day. Would you join us for dinner when we get back?"
[16:54] <Minaplo> ["I'd be happy to." Said Ni.]
[16:56] <Yanmei> "Good! I'll treat you guys too," she offered, glancing back to the agents. Why not? Marianne had given her a little extra for the trip in addition to her allowance.
[16:59] <Minaplo> ["We were just doing our jobs, ma'am." Said one, the oldest.]
[17:03] <Yanmei> "Yeah, but still… we're still pretty grateful, so…"
[17:03] <Minaplo> ["We'd be happy to." Said a younger one.-
[17:04] <Minaplo> ["Hey now." The older one frowned.-
[17:04] <Minaplo> ["Oh, be quiet- since when have you turned down free food?"-
[17:04] <Minaplo> [The old one grumbled.]
[17:07] <Yanmei> "Hehe… then it's settled. Come find us when you get in, okay?" Yanmei turned to and winked at Ni. "Now. Shall we?"
[17:11] <Minaplo> [Ni nodded with a small smile. "Let's."]

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