Mary S Shadow

[06:35] <Sept> Recorded birdsong echoed through the Geofront wilderness as Sera de Pteres lay on the grass, looking up at the domed sky. He'd been allowed to keep his own clothes for this stay, but a bracelet still identified him as a patient. He was humming some kind of tune that somehow fit into the rhythm of the looping chirps.
[06:40] <Yanmei> With time, some new noises edged in amid the chirps. The sound of footsteps growing louder. Female voices muttering about something.
[06:42] <Aline> Mutter mutter indeed! Surely, amidst them, he might recognize those voice tones?
[06:43] * Sept stopped his humming and sat up, looking mildly worried.-
[06:43] <Sept> "Shut up, we have important business first."
[06:48] <Yanmei> "…and then the Colonel was all, like, 'You're off the case.' And I-?" A slight pause. More footsteps. Two figures cresting a hill overlooking the spot where Sera lay.
[06:50] * Sept looked up at them. "Case? What case? Did something happen?"
[06:52] * Aline shook her head at Yanmei. "Well, /considering/…" But then she noticed Sera too, with a frown. "…The one with the S2 rogue guy and the guy with the knives and the mafia and /everyone else shady/."
[06:55] <Yanmei> "Heh, seriously?" Zhang Yanmei peered down at him as they approached. She was moving slowly and stiffly, and there was a worn, battered appearence to her. "Whew. How are you feeling? You're not an easy person to find, de Pteres."
[06:58] <Sept> "Ahh, yeah, I remember, you beat someone up- you beat Leonardo up again." Sera made a vague hand motion, indicating himself. "I'm fine, how much did you hear? And did you find any of them?"
[07:01] <Yanmei> "…they said you had a mental breakdown." Finally close enough, Yanmei sat down on the grass herself. She wasn't looking at him now. "A lot's happened."
[07:02] * Aline walked over, and sat down a bit away from the both of them, but still within the 'zone' around them. "Yeah. And Yan-yan here keeps almost getting killed during said happenings, mostly."
[07:03] <Yanmei> "None of that was my fault," Yanmei grumped.
[07:06] <Sept> "That's not good." Sera opened his mouth, hesitated for a while. "What did you find?"
[07:07] * Aline sighed. "I'll let her start off, since she has more to say."
[07:11] <Yanmei> "I've been chasing Gamelin. They were reluctant about letting me help Section 2 with it after the last time, in the ghost station, but I managed to convince them that it would be okay somehow. Um… We think he's involved in some other disappearences. People with ties to NERV and the Thruster Corporation who could provide him with technology. There were also some run-ins with weapons smugglers and the Children of Adam."
[07:15] * Sept looked nervously at the bushes a little ways off for a moment. "More disappearances? He really could have the resources to attack us?" He was fidgeting with his hands a lot.
[07:19] <Raphael> "That's why NERV fears S2 defections, I'm afraid." Comes a fourth voice, followed a moment later by the rustling of branches nearby as a stretch of underbrush breaks open to reveal a red-faced Raphael, his uniform notably less perfect than normal. A stubborn twig is clinging to one shoulder.-
[07:20] <Raphael> He brought a compact walkie-talkie up to his mouth. "I've found him, Captain." A crackling reply sounded a moment later, along with what sounded like laughter. Raphael grumbles and switches off the device, tucking it away on his belt without explanation.
[07:21] * Aline turned around rather firmly, all of a sudden. "…Oh, hey. I was actually hoping I could get something from you on /my/ end of the case."
[07:22] * Yanmei eyed Raphael, silent questions all over her face.
[07:23] <Sept> "NO, WAIT!!" Sera yelled out, quite a bit too loudly.-
[07:24] <Sept> "W-we have to talk about Mary, first. It's important."
[07:24] * Aline tuuuurned /again/. "Uwha?"
[07:25] <Yanmei> "Mary Caine?" She was trying not to look as confused about that sudden interjection as she felt.
[07:27] * Raphael nods, glancing at Aline to reply when… well, that. His mouth pulls into a tight line and he nods grimly. "… Yes. That was what I was here for, Sera."
[07:30] <Sept> "She, she has this place Jeremiah built that she called the Eternity Drive it catches people's souls they don't go back to Lilith so she can kill us for at least centuries." A deep intake of breath. "And she has complete access to the memories of everyone who's dead she has Azariah and she has Natasha and she can do whatever she wants, we can't stop her and there's a person in my head he's
[07:31] <Sept> Mary's son and he says to tell you it's nice to meet you." A deep exhalation with his eyes closed, accompanied by a slight shiver.
[07:34] * Aline …stared. "…The cycle of reincarnation's /suspended/?!" She was actively fighting to keep her voice down, and… "That… but that's…"
[07:36] * Raphael goes frighteningly still, and this time when any hint of emotion drops from his face it doesn't seem to be to mask anything going on behind it. Slowly he casts a sidelong glance at Yanmei, utterly silent.
[07:38] * Yanmei didn't move at first after that either. She was staring with a sort of tumultuous expression suggesting that she was still… doing something internally. Somehow she found the glance from Raphael and read some expectation behind it, which forced her to open her mouth. "What did she do to you?"
[07:45] * Sept forced his tone to regain some semblance of composure. "Y-yeah, if we can't find it and do something, our only hope would be to do something with these lives, but she knows most of our secrets since people keep dying. And I don't know what she did to me, there's no way to prove she did anything. Since I went mad in prison, already. But I thought about it, and I think. I think it's
[07:45] * Sept something like what they did to Viviane. That he's a… compromise between her ideals and my personality. The closest me that would be loyal to her." A pause. "He agrees."
[07:48] * Aline stammered a few times impotently. "W… what th-the hell. But… there's… gotta be some way left. We need a chance. We… we can't… It's not perfect. Anything we've never told a soul, we can't have turned against us unless we die. We… we we we need to…" She took a deep, heady breath, and it's as if she had forgotten Raphael was there, and just re-realized he was present.
[07:48] * Aline "Oh r-right you're there."
[07:49] <Sept> "Oh. Hi, Raphael."
[07:50] * Raphael is looking up at the false sky, paying Aline's panic no mind. His expression remains still and serene. "Is what he's talking about plausible?" He asks, voice mild.
[07:54] * Yanmei had shut her eyes tightly for a moment. "Sera, this thing… this Eternity thing. Is it possible that she just made you belive that it exists? So that she could have some extra measure of control over you?"
[07:57] * Aline on the other hand took a few more deep breaths, and looked at Raphael. "It could work depending on how much you could scale-up the technology responsible for capturing souls with the thing what is it uh oh right salvaging. If you… if you scale up the technology enough and use some kind of extender like maybe the tech used in the AT detection grid you might be able to get something
[07:57] * Aline capable of drawing souls inwards on itself and if they built some kind of megastructural thing but earth-scale not like space megastructures why did I even use that word uh… uh… but big thing does big… soul… sucky… uh…" Aline's gaze was losing focus.
[08:00] <Raphael> "I see." He says. "And how long has she had this machine?"
[08:01] <Sept> "-Of course- it's possible. But… very, very unlikely. I should be able to notice that, even if I -was- drugged, and she showed me how it worked, the memories, there's no way she or I made those up."-
[08:04] <Sept> "It's a chamber, deeper than anything, a few miles across, round… I don't know how long she would've had it, but if I know Jeremiah, he must have had it near enough to finished in his time, if not completely - does she have -his- memories, too..?"
[08:09] * Raphael seemed to take the core points from Sept's words and discarded the more neurotic mumblings, just as he had with Aline. All it draws is a nod, though, as he continues to coldly regard the sky. "I see."
[08:10] * Aline blinked.
[08:11] <Aline> "…Miles… across…" Aline seemed to have slowed down, at least. "The time's not right. But I think I know how to find it…"
[08:12] * Yanmei had, for her part, gone completely silent.
[08:14] <Raphael> "You do? Excellent. We'll have to know that before Mary Caine is dealt with." Raphael says, just as calmly and practically as he had asked his earlier questions.
[08:16] <Sept> "Yeah, that would be… a start."
[08:16] * Aline frowned. "It… it needs an EVA. Use the mental image t-to… Jaunt into the machine."
[08:18] <Sept> "To jaunt it into… urgh."
[08:27] * Sept shook his head sharply, and cast a glance at Raphael. "Since when have you been interested in Caine business, anyway?"
[08:30] * Raphael gives Sept a cold look. "It's not enough that her machine would likely hold my mother, father and both sisters, if it exists?"
[08:33] <Yanmei> "I think the question is, 'why come here to learn about this in the first place'?" Yanmei stirred at last, opening her eyes. "Did you have some clue about what was going on when you arrived? You said you were here to talk about her specifically."
[08:34] * Aline was finally being able to parse things outside of lurid stories and sudden stimuli… "…Yeah."
[08:34] <Sept> "Y-yes, if that was enough then we'd have an army behind us already? How did a -soldier- come this deep into it to begin with?"
[08:39] <Raphael> "Hohenzollern told me Caine was coming to deal with you after I tried to talk her down following your latest indiscretion. I've heard enough about her to doubt that would be something you'd enjoy, and the fact that you were committed to Psych immediately after suggested it was worse than I expected." He says distractedly, slowly beginning to pace. "I was coming to check on you, and to see
[08:39] <Raphael> what I could do."
[08:45] <Sept> "That doesn't mean anything!" Sera barked. He glanced back up at Raphael. "I-I mean, that… doesn't mean we can trust you or her, does it. Rationally. She'd have to know you'd find out, so the gesture doesn't mean anything…"
[08:45] * Aline looked at Sera. "…But we're all trusting you when you talk about this Eternity Drive…"
[08:46] <Yanmei> "Hohenzollern." There was a certain disappointed edge to her voice. "No, he's right. Hohenzollern isn't on our side. We've known that for ages."
[08:48] * Raphael 's anger seems to flare all at once as he rounds on Sera. "I'm not an idiot, de Pteres." He snarls. "Of course she was toying with me, the same way she was when she "accidentally" hinted at you attempting to kill the Ayanamis. And yet I'm still here! Is that enough for you?"
[08:49] * Aline folded her hands, looking between Raphael and Sera, but not quite having the time to speak.
[08:51] <Sept> "Thank you, Zhang. We can't- Yanmei," he corrected himself. "…we can't forget that. L-look, I'm sorry, I'm not quite on top of everything."
[09:00] <Raphael> "…" Raphael eases back and returns to pacing, but the anger doesn't quite disappear. "Regardless. Whether or not you trust me, I do not intend to allow Caine to keep a machine like that if it happens to exist. Or to escape judgement for her part in it."
[09:02] * Yanmei considered this quietly. "Whatever the woman's intentions are, you now know the truth. What you do now should be up to you? And speaking of truths… there were some other ones that needed to be revealed today, right?"
[09:06] * Aline nodded her head. "R-r-right. I uh… I never got to say my part of the investigations." Aline paused, but only for a split second. "Well uh! I ended up… tackling the mafia side of things. The Babysitter, as it were, apparently was /making/ the mafia try to kidnap us or something, and managed to show up the don - not that that was that hard - and stuff. But not only that, but he's
[09:06] * Aline a former LN deep-infiltration agent, and 'beyond human'… Raphael, you might know him as Mr. Blue."
[09:10] * Raphael stops his pacing and eyes Aline closely. "… He's with the /mafia/?"
[09:10] <Aline> "No. He now probably /runs/ the mafia." Is Aline's snap response.
[09:11] <Sept> "More codenames? So he's another one of those W people? Should've guessed by what he's caused."
[09:12] <Yanmei> "We should have brought him in…" Yanmei muttered, eyes narrowing somewhat. "If only he hadn't gotten away…"
[09:13] <Sept> "If only we'd been in any condition for another fight."
[09:13] <Raphael> "He's not with W, unless I've greatly misjudged the both of them." Raphael mutters. "Blue's made two attempts to kill members of my team since he resurfaced, although we've only just realized it was him. He put one in the hospital by throwing him from a balcony, and he would have slit my medic's throat if she hadn't had unexpected company."
[09:13] * Aline tilted her head. "…Revenge?"
[09:15] <Raphael> "Likely, although the first attack seemed just as motivated by a wish to recover his hat."
[09:17] * Aline slowly nodded. "Yeah. I admit, Mr. Green warned me that he was likely to have motivations far more grandiose than mere profit. Possibly more than mere revenge, actually."
[09:19] <Sept> "…Mister Green. How many of these guys are there?"
[09:19] <Raphael> "There were three, but one of them was caught in a burning apartment building during the initial raids."-
[09:20] <Raphael> A pause, as Raphael considers something. "… Although we thought Blue was also killed in a fire in Germany, so that's not as much comfort as it should be."
[09:22] <Aline> "Mmm. Let's hope they don't try to reunite the gang or something. We have /enough/ shady organizations and insurgencies brewing."
[09:22] * Yanmei winced and then shook her head. "Think Blue's connected to the Children of Adam cell here in Paris? They seemed big on abductions when I ran into them. If they're also following Gamelin, then our encounter in the subway system with the Mafia makes a little more sense as well."
[09:25] <Raphael> "It's… not impossible. He's been involved with those groups before. I assume, given your research, that you know both he and Mr. Green were in charge of the LN teams we discovered planning your assassinations some time ago?"
[09:25] <Yanmei> "S-seriously?" she eyed Aline as if for confirmation.
[09:26] * Aline shook her head. "I didn't actually pick that up?… Pick that up. But it definitely makes sense."
[09:28] * Raphael nods. "We captured as much of the cell as we could, but we assumed they were killed en route to Germany. Clearly at least Mr. Blue escaped, but there's been no confirmation about the others."
[09:30] <Sept> "Mm. That's plenty of motive to come after us. So he's actually been after us for… years?"
[09:30] * Aline raised a finger. "Without the LN, he might have a far, far more convoluted fate in store for us. Or at least that's my suspicion."
[09:32] <Yanmei> "What do you mean?"
[09:35] * Aline looked down. "Well, first of all, killing us would mean not getting the ransom money, which is the /most likely/ pitch he gave to the mafia. I don't really know if he'd go back on his word, but he seems the type not to. I figure that there might be some kind of big-game plan like ours or Caine's afoot. He might be working with someone else, but that… that's speculation."
[09:38] <Sept> "It's not unreasonable to expect that. He's dangerous, and we have to get rid of him one way or another."
[09:39] <Yanmei> "We'd have to catch him first. That's been a bit of a problem?"
[09:40] * Raphael frowns at Aline, still looking a little too on edge to slide back into a more professional demeanour. "I do wonder if you may be giving him too much credit, ma'am, at least when it comes to plans of his own. Still I know that he is exceedingly dangerous, and I think the three of you would do well to stay as far away from him as possible. Now that we know he is directly targeting
[09:40] * Raphael Pilots, I may finally be able to encourage a more active search…"
[09:44] * Aline drummed her fingers together. "True, he might not /quite/ have that scale of ambition… but yeah. He's still a threat."
[09:49] <Sept> "I guess you'll keep us updated on your progress with Blue, then. If we can get you any resources or anything… Meanwhile, we'll try to figure out what to do with-" Sera closed his eyes tightly for a moment. "With Mary," he finished strainedly.
[09:50] * Yanmei glanced away at that name for a second, and then turned back. "There's something else."
[09:51] * Sept looked at her. He wasn't being hopeful about any further topics to this discussion. "..yes?"
[09:55] <Yanmei> "It's Gamelin. He seems… to have a strange interest in Excalibur rather than in the EVAs or NERV itself. I hinted at it before, but he might have the ability to bypass our security systems using the technology he's stolen. That, in addition to the spawn he has and the manpower he's collected means that he's capable of striking at any time."
[09:57] <Aline> "…Excalibur. You don't think that might have something to do with it being Adam's sword…?"
[10:00] <Raphael> "… I'm sorry to be a step behind, ma'am, but Gamelin has an angelspawn?"
[10:01] <Sept> "More of an assassin type than anything else we've seen. Leaves a trail not very different from the Phantom. Cloaking, poison… that kind of thing."
[10:02] * Raphael looks rather perplexed by the discovery, but at that moment he seems happy to leave further questions to those who know the full story.
[10:03] <Yanmei> "Mind, it might be more than one single spawn." She frowned, frustrated. "Excalibur is more than a sword. It's sentient. It might be calling to them - Gamelin included. Or…"
[10:08] * Aline was reminded of something now years back, and shook slightly. Even so… "Or?"
[10:13] <Yanmei> "I don't know. I'm still piecing it out in my mind?" Yanmei rubbed her head tiredly. "I was once told that Excalibur was not just a weapon, but a vessel. A place where Adam could store its soul. It's… sorry, it's confusing. I don't know what'll happen, exactly."
[10:16] <Raphael> "I assume that replica of yours doesn't pose the same threat?"
[10:16] <Yanmei> "They've looked it over thoroughly. It's completely safe?"
[10:17] * Raphael just nods, but he's still frowning.
[10:21] <Aline> "Right. It's probably… well. Dead."
[10:22] <Yanmei> "The replica is just that - a replica scaled down from the original thing. Like a figurine of a living person."
[10:23] <Sept> "If he -is- working with someone and he had Adam's soul… that might be a risk to look out for. I never found out the specifics, but an Eve of Lilith will always be capable of sealing Adam's soul within themselves. And that would result in bad things."
[10:25] * Aline shuddered. Again. Well, okay, she 'shook' before. But /now/ she was shuddering. "I c-can imagine. But there's only seven such souls at all, and less that we know are active. I think."
[10:29] <Yanmei> "Bad things," Yanmei muttered, frowning to herself. She rubbed her head again and sighed. "Instead speculating, we should be focused on finding the guy."
[10:32] <Raphael> Raphael speaks up again, seeming to find himself on much firmer, more practical conceptual ground now. "Gamelin will be much more difficult to find than Mr. Blue and his mafia contacts, if he's operating alone. Regardless, it seems you're turning up leads… even if I'm not sure it's wise for you to be directly involved in the legwork, ma'am."
[10:32] * Aline nodded ruefully. "Yeah, it's pretty dangerous?"
[10:34] <Yanmei> Her face darkened slightly. "I was -so- close, though? That meddling Colonel…"
[10:35] <Raphael> "That 'meddling Colonel' has your best interests at heart, Pilot Zhang." Raphael says reproachfully.
[10:39] <Yanmei> "I know, but…" A flicker of regret ran through her face for the split second that she focused on Sera. Then it was gone again. "I still had something I had to get back."
[10:42] <Sept> "Did you?"
[10:44] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei's head snapped up again, and she -glared- at him.
[10:45] * Aline looked between them, once again remaining worriedly silent.
[10:50] <Sept> "I mean. Did you get it back."
[10:51] <Yanmei> "No. No, I didn't."
[10:52] * Raphael winces at Sera, but stays quiet.
[10:54] <Sept> "Oh. Right."
[10:56] <Minaplo> [There was a loud clunking sound from far above- from the Geofront roof.-
[10:58] <Minaplo> [If they looked up, they would see the heavy cargo elevator- itself capable of lifting a squad of Evangelions- starting to descend from the roof. Within were a dozen VTOLs, bearing- visible from a distance- the markings of the other NERV branches.-
[11:02] <Minaplo> [Two AC Suits- the large, fifteen-foot tall vehicle suits the Storm Troopers used for heavy support- flew up towards the elevator, escorting it down towards HQ.]
[11:07] <Raphael> "… Ah." Raphael glances up at the display as if surprised to see them, despite the fact that he'd been hearing of the visit for the past month. He lets out a quiet sigh. "I should go and see to Rei and the Major. I told them I'd be waiting…" But now, of course, it's quite clear that his heart doesn't seem to be in it.
[11:08] * Aline solemnly nodded. "…Do try to be careful…"
[11:09] <Yanmei> "Yeah. See you later, Captain."
[11:09] * Sept turned his head upwards at the noise, but wasn't particularly interested at the inevitable politics they might've signified. "Yeah… Don't die, right?"-
[11:09] <Sept> "…I don't suppose either of you brought any snacks? We could have a picnic."
[11:10] * Raphael nods solemnly to the three of them, before heading quietly back towards the base proper, hands in his pockets.
[11:11] * Aline stood up off the grass, and looked over at Sera. "…I think the mood for a picnic has kind of passed." But she looked up into the distance. "I should probably greet Shinji, for what it's worth."
[11:12] <Yanmei> "Yeah." Yanmei sighed. "You know, Akagi will be there too, probably. Should we send her over?"
[11:16] <Sept> "I'll… I guess it'd be good to see her, even if… mmh. If she has time."
[11:17] <Aline> "I'm sure she will." Aline said with a little shrug… before starting to head off.
[11:19] <Sept> "Yeah, she probably does. Stay safe, please."
[11:19] <Yanmei> Yanmei rose as well, brushing the grass off her pants. "See you later, de Pteres."
[11:22] * Sept , on the other hand, lay back down, looking up at the remnants of the escort party. "See you."
[11:24] <Yanmei> It wasn't long before she was gone as well, leaving him alone.
[11:31] <Sept> And as the birdsong seemed to grow stronger again in the absence of people…-
[11:31] <Sept> "Fuck you. You can't expect tact from a mental patient."-
[11:32] <Sept> "No, I had my reasons the other times, too."-
[11:32] <Sept> "Get your own relationships to worry about!"

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