Misato Relaxes

[15:08] <@Minaplo> [The steam rose from the water in pale, languid curls, mixing in with the scent of jasmine and vanilla bath salts. A layer of bubbles skipped along the surface of the water, nearly hiding the occupant except for her neck and head.-
[15:08] <@Minaplo> [Long days of restless, irritating hospital rest had segued immediately into long days of exhaustive, dawn-to-dusk and sometimes dawn-to-dawn work. For Major Misato Katsuragi, the ability to spend an hour or two soaking in a hot spa, surrounded by lovely perfumes, washing away the sweat and relaxing tired limbs was little less than heavenly.-
[15:08] <@Minaplo> [And as if it weren't perfect enough… Misato reached out of the bath, drying her arm on a towel. Her clothes hung on a chair near the spa, her jacket draped over the back, everything else piled haphazardly on top of one another. Reaching into this pile of garments, she pulled out a strange black glove. Admiring it, she slipped it on and held it up in front of her.-
[15:08] <@Minaplo> [On the other side of the battleship, Raphael Guillory's phone would start to beep with a text message.]
[15:18] <Raphael> It would take some time - he was on duty, after all. Leaving required finding a willing officer to cover the rest of his shift, and slipping away without drawing attention… but after a short, and fairly convincing series of texts, he found himself going to the trouble.-
[15:18] <Raphael> And so it was that nearly twenty minutes later a head - Shinji Ikari's, if one didn't know better - poked past the door of Katsuragi's spa, still looking slightly bewildered. "Major…?"
[15:23] <@Minaplo> ["I was wondering where you are." Muttered Misato. "You must be the only man I know who makes a woman in a spa -wait-."]
[15:25] <Raphael> "I was on duty." Raphael complains, slipping through the door and shutting it behind him. He's still in his work uniform, a few creases showing after a day of wear.
[15:26] <@Minaplo> ["They -would- keep you on duty, wouldn't they? Ugh, that's so unfair. I finally get some time off and they make my Raffy-kun work…"-
[15:27] <@Minaplo> [The foamy, bubbly surface of the water was disturbed as Misato made some movement- folding her arms, as it turned out. "Well I'll forgive you in that case~ God knows the work never ends here… It's criminal. It's like the moment Marianne realises she has people of her calibre around she instantly decides to press them into service."]
[15:29] <Raphael> "Terrible, I know. It's almost as though we're military officers." Raphael smiles, taking a seat on one of the benches ringing the spa.
[15:33] <@Minaplo> [She gave him a dark look. "Did I drag you away from anything too important?"]
[15:35] <Raphael> "Just more work on the D-Titans. The Thruster staff are double-checking the AI routines before we move onto field tests."
[15:36] <@Minaplo> ["Oh right~ how -are- you getting on with Raffytron?"]
[15:48] <Raphael> "Too idiosyncratic for a piloting AI." Raphael says sourly. "Honestly, I would've asked for something less… well, less -vocal- if Suzie didn't seem quite so attached to it."
[15:52] <@Minaplo> ["I think it's cute." Said Misato brightly.-
[15:53] <@Minaplo> ["… I might not be a good judge, though. If you command Eva pilots for long enough you lose sense of what counts as 'too idiosyncratic'."]
[15:58] <Raphael> "Mmm." Raphael murmurs, grabbing one of the packets of bath salts from beside the pool and glancing over the packaging in silence.
[15:59] <@Minaplo> ["There's room for you in here, you know~"]
[16:06] <Raphael> "Hmm?" He glances up, his attention snapping back into the present and leaving him looking somewhat sheepish.-
[16:06] <Raphael> "… Ah. Sorry, Major." He chuckles, beginning to work on the buttons of his shirt.
[16:15] <@Minaplo> ["…" Her playful smile becomes a slight frown. "Everything alright?"]
[16:45] <Raphael> He nods. The shoes are off as well now, and he places them neatly next to the growing pile of folded clothes on the bench. "Yeah. I've just got a lot on my mind."
[16:48] <@Minaplo> ["What is it, Raffy-kun?"]
[16:54] <Raphael> "I'm just thinking about the girls, that's all." He gives her a small smile before pulling off his singlet and sliding into the water. "There's a lot going on for them right now…"
[17:00] <@Minaplo> [The water is amazing. The heat of the water seems to soak through Raphael's skin and into his work-weary bones more than any bed could. Compared to the cool air of the battleship's rooms, it was extremely relaxing.-
[17:00] <@Minaplo> ["That Rei…" Murmured Misato. "It sounds like a huge mess went down. I'm glad you recovered Alphonse, but I'm not wrong if I guess it was a little too by-the-teeth for you, all that, right?"]
[17:22] <Raphael> "Not at all." He sighs, settling down next to Misato. "They both put themselves in a lot of danger…"
[17:58] <@Minaplo> [Even in amidst the hot water, Misato stands out as being warm and soft. She slides a little closer, pressing up against him slightly. "At least Rei's makes for a good story. The love-struck maiden unleashing a rampage of revenge for her beloved…"-
[17:58] <@Minaplo> ["The story of the wunderkind who nearly set himself on fire is… Aheh, less fitting~"]
[18:00] <Raphael> "He's still claiming it was under control." Raphael says with another shake of his head.
[18:01] <@Minaplo> ["Think he could've made it out without your help?"]
6[15:07] * @Raphael face twists in indecision. "… Maybe." He shrugs.
[15:23] <Minaplo> ["So what should I take away from this, in the unlikely event that I'm ambushed and kidnapped?"]
[15:28] <@Raphael> "Perhaps don't start with setting your own safehouse on fire?"
[15:29] <Minaplo> ["Mmmm, I think I can manage that…" She gave him a playful grin, poking him in the ribs. "So just stay put until my knight in shining armor kicks the front door in?"]
[15:36] * @Raphael smiles a little, catching her arm and reeling her a bit closer. "We both know you'd be out of there before I could try, Major."-
[15:36] <@Raphael> "Although I /would/ do my very best."
[15:37] <Minaplo> ["Oho. The idea of a romantic rescue by my dashing Raffy might keep me put a little longer…"-
[15:37] <Minaplo> ["… This raises an important question, though." She said, a malicious glee starting to flicker in her eyes.]
[15:38] <@Raphael> "What's that?"
[15:39] <Minaplo> ["Does this make Alphonse the damsel in distress to Rei's prince charming~?"]
[15:40] * @Raphael rolls his eyes. "A few of the SOS have come to a similar conclusion."
[15:41] <Minaplo> [There was a gleeful cackle. "I think I need to pay him a visit."]
[15:43] * @Raphael taps her lightly on the head. "I wouldn't let Rei find out. She's… somewhat protective of the boy since we brought him back."
[15:49] <Minaplo> ["Protective? On a scale of 1 to Yanmei, how protective do we mean?"]
[15:59] <@Raphael> "She's not quite lurking in the bushes yet, but I suspect that's mostly because they're both still in hospital."
[16:00] <Minaplo> ["Hmmm. So Auntie Misato will need a good disguise…"-
[16:00] <Minaplo> ["Maybe a nurse~?"]
[16:03] <@Raphael> "Not as useful as you might think. She's been doing her best to vet them as they arrive."-
[16:03] <@Raphael> A very slight pause. "… Also, visiting teenage boys in the guise of a nurse is considered unsporting."
[16:05] <Minaplo> ["But I've had plenty of experience!" Said Misato enthusiastically. "… Watching them at any rate."-
[16:05] <Minaplo> [She lifted her right leg out of the water, tapping a bundle of scar tissue around her thigh and knee. "I can't believe it -scarred-."]
[16:10] * @Raphael gives her a sympathetic smile, laying a light hand on the scars. "It could have been much worse, Major. I'll have you with a few scars over the alternatives any day."
[16:16] <Minaplo> ["So would I~" She says warmly, but there's gratitude in her eyes.-
[16:16] <Minaplo> ["… Oh, Surov paid me a visit in hospital, did I tell you?"]
[16:17] * @Raphael 's expression grows fractionally colder at the mention of the name, but he manages to keep up the smile. "You didn't, I'm afraid."
[16:19] <Minaplo> ["Mmm, he said something about my request being processed…"]
[16:19] * @Raphael frowns. "Your request…?"
[16:22] <Minaplo> ["He was a bit vague, but it was something to do with a mini-something, I dunno what…"]
[19:59] <Raphael> "… Major." Raphael murmurs. "Major, being involved with Surov's work is dangerous to begin with. To be involved without knowing what he's doing is lunacy."
[20:00] <Minaplo> ["You're right, but I was bed-bound and it sort of slipped my mind…" She lifted a hand out of the water, holding it in front of her in apology. "Hehehe~…?"]
[20:02] <Raphael> Raphael's eyes narrow a little at that, but he takes her hand nonetheless. "You wouldn't be lying to me, would you Major?"
[20:07] <Minaplo> ["Lying? I know better than to lie when Surov's involved. Maybe… It was something he was afraid I'd try to shut down if I knew all the details! Yeah! That's probably it." She nodded firmly.]
[20:08] <Raphael> "Now I'm going to have to talk to Surov…" Raphael sighs.
[20:08] <Minaplo> ["Pff. You should do what I do in these situations."]
[20:09] <Raphael> "What's that?"
[20:09] <Minaplo> ["Send an underling to do it~"]
[20:09] <Minaplo> [Thousands of miles away, Hyuga Makoto's ears burned red and he didn't know why.]
[20:12] * Raphael smiles faintly. "How did you ever survive before you climbed ranks, hmm?"
[20:14] <Minaplo> ["… My winning smile?"]
[20:15] <Raphael> "Uh huh."
[20:19] <Minaplo> ["You should be asking me how I survived after I climbed ranks. Being the OD for Tokyo-2 was hard work. Some days I had to get up at 11 AM!"]
[20:20] * Raphael has no response for that. His silent, flat stare was answer enough.
[20:21] <Minaplo> ["You got off a lot easier than I did, you know. They didn't give -me- a cute secretary. I got Hyuga."]
[20:23] <Raphael> "Mana's not a secretary!"
[20:24] <Minaplo> ["So you admit she's cute~"]
[20:25] <Raphael> "I did nothing of the sort!"
[20:26] <Minaplo> ["Oh, so you just happened to think of Mana when I said 'cute secretary'~?"]
[20:31] <Raphael> "Well… she…" His cheeks are quite pink by this point, and the colour is rapidly moving to his ears. He takes a deep breath and makes a desperate grab for composure. "She's the closest thing I have to an assistant. I don't need to agree with the terms to make an educated guess, ma'am."
[20:33] <Minaplo> ["Well, it's all moot, because I clearly meant Leon Thomas."]
[20:35] <Raphael> "You find Thomas attractive?"
[20:37] <Minaplo> ["Of course. The way he growls when he talks, the sheen of light on his leathery face…"]
[20:43] <Raphael> "You're not funny, ma'am." He says, followed by a quick poke to her side below the water.
[20:48] <Minaplo2> [She jumps a little, sending hot water and foamy bubbles in all directions for a second. "Still, at least she's helpful to you, right?"]
[20:51] <Raphael> "Oh, absolutely. When it comes to the bureaucracy and paperwork in the SOS I'd have a hard time doing my job without her."
[20:52] <Minaplo2> ["You get a lot of paperwork in SOS?"]
[20:54] <Raphael> "More than you'd think. Requisitions, mission reports, keeping the rest of the organization informed about our status…" A shrug. "It adds up."
[20:57] <Minaplo2> ["It does sound like a lot of work." She said sympathetically, patting his arm. "… But it could be worse~"]
[20:57] <Raphael> "Ah?"
[20:58] <Minaplo2> ["Imagine being a NERV OD and you've just had a battle. Fortunately for you, you won the fight. Unfortunately for you, it was a -city- battle and now you have to spend the next forty-eight hours sorting through damage reports and insurance claims."]
[21:00] * Raphael winces. "They leave that to ODs?"
[21:01] <Minaplo2> ["Depends. Sometimes you get off lucky and that's passed off to another department. Sometimes…"-
[21:02] <Minaplo2> ["Well, let's just say that ODs hate being around Marianne after a city battle because she's a master of pawning that crap off."]
[21:13] <Raphael> That gets a chuckle. "Colonel Lachapelle did teach her everything she knows, I suppose…"
[21:14] <Minaplo2> ["Oh, I wouldn't have put it past -that- guy to do sneaky crap like that."-
[21:16] <Minaplo2> [She settled deeper into the water, her head resting languidly on his shoulder, yawning as she did so. "Oh, I could go to sleep here…"]
[21:29] * Raphael rests his head against hers in turn. "Mmm. It's fairly relaxing, I must to say."
[21:29] <Minaplo2> ["We don't have anything like this back in Tokyo-2. I -wish- we did. It'd be amazing. I envy you jerks on this flashy battleship, I really do."]
[21:36] <Raphael> "It's nice having you here like this." He says gently, finding her hand. "I'd prefer if it hadn't been due to a hospital stay, but I'll take what I can."
[21:37] <Minaplo2> ["Ah~" She gives his hand a squeeze when he eventually finds her own.-
[21:38] <Minaplo2> ["I'll be here for awhile yet to wear out my welcome~ it's not like there's much reason to go back to Japan right now anyway."]
[21:51] <Raphael> "I know, I know." He nods. "… And I wouldn't worry too much about wearing out your welcome. Not with me, at least."
[21:52] <Minaplo2> ["Aww, that's sweet~"-
[21:52] <Minaplo2> ["… Although I suppose when it comes to this place, there's a score of people more likely to do that before me~"]
[21:58] <Raphael> "Quite." He smiles.
[21:59] <Minaplo2> ["I don't envy Marianne at all." Prattled Misato cheerfully. "Imagine having to command Paris's new squadron? Asuka herself is hard enough to handle, let alone making her the highest ranked of the pilots. She must be impossible…"]
[22:02] <Raphael> "Oh, she's not all that bad. She's nice enough when you get past all of the posturing. " Raphael says. "Although that temper of hers is quite a problem…"
[22:04] <Minaplo2> ["Oh, it's gotten better. Trust me, once upon a time she was basically a ticking time bomb of teutonic fury and hair…"]
[22:04] <Raphael> "Is that right?"
[22:06] <Minaplo2> ["Mmmhm! She got off because, you know, back then she was basically the only Eva pilot worth a damn, but somehow I don't think it's a coincidence that she was only one of two Neospartan pilots~"]
[22:10] <Minaplo2> «three*»
[22:21] <Raphael> "The anger was another side-effect of the Neospartan training, I take it?"
[22:22] <Minaplo2> ["I'm not sure. I'd bet it was- she's always been very proud, but she seemed really aggressive back before the Angels really started to attack. She even started picking fights."]
[22:29] <Raphael> "It sounds as though the Angels just gave her a better outlet."
[22:33] <Minaplo2> ["Maybe. Although of course, once the Angels began attacking en masse she started to have a real crisis of faith, so to speak."]
[14:45] * Raphael nods. "Given her perceived failings in battle?"
[14:49] <Minaplo> ["Right. For years she was our only true combat pilot, and the weight of protecting Germany- or the world- fell on her shoulders. And she was the only bearer of it for a long time. Naturally, she felt that if we were relying on her like that, then that's all we needed- her and her alone."-
[14:50] <Minaplo> ["When Asuka loses a battle, she isn't just disappointed that her skills weren't up to scratch or whatever. For her, every time, it's like a bodyguard who keeps letting his charges die. She feels a lot of -responsibility-, even if maybe she shouldn't so much."]
[14:57] <Raphael> Another nod. "Though I don't claim to know her well, whether by temperament or her NeoSpartan history it seems that she's the closest thing to a career soldier the Pilots have. Her reactions aren't too surprising."
[15:02] <Minaplo> ["Yeah… Still, it looks like she's started to learn to be a part of a team, now, and she's even managed to be a little better about going down in combat. It's a nice change~"]
[15:14] <Raphael> "Mmm. No doubt having some stable relationships helped with that."
[15:16] <Minaplo> ["Mmmhm." Misato smirked. "You know, I tried to help her with that…"]
[15:19] * Raphael gives her a flat look. "… I'm sure you did."
[15:20] <Minaplo> ["No, really, I did. Back when I was assigned to NERV Germany…"]
[15:25] <Raphael> "When was this?" He asks, raising an eyebrow.
[15:31] <Minaplo> ["Hmm? It was actually my first assignment, didn't you know? This was before NERV Japan was operational. Back then I was both Operations Director and a UN Liaison- Kaji took over that position when I left, whilst they had to recruit Harken in for OD. I was there long enough to get to know Asuka a little, though."]
[15:33] <Raphael> "I don't think you've mentioned it before…" He says thoughtfully, before shrugging. "Did the two of you get along?"
[15:35] <Minaplo> ["Asuka's Asuka. I was willing to put up with her if she was willing to put up with me. There was a kind of friendship there." She smirked. "At least, she didn't -dislike- me~"]
[15:36] * Raphael smiles. "Well, that's nice to know. And perhaps as much as we can hope for from her."
[15:37] <Minaplo> [Misato grinned. "A little bit like Yanmei, hm?"]
[15:38] <Raphael> "In a lot of ways." He chuckles. "Although I don't know if Pilot Zhang's -quite- as bad…"
[15:41] <Minaplo> ["I suppose it depends on the time and audience."-
[15:42] <Minaplo> [A series of beeps sounded through the air- Raphael would know that it was someone ringing the electronic doorbell.-
[15:42] <Minaplo> ["Seriously…?"]
[15:45] <Raphael> Raphael just sighs, pulling her even closer with his arm around her waist. "We could just…" He waves a hand vaguely, as if dismissing the noise. It was a strange thing to hear Raphael suggest, but now that he was here he found it very difficult to swallow the idea of moving.
[15:47] <Minaplo> ["Mmm, true. If it's anything important, they'll send me a message on my glove." She reached over and shook her black glove. "OD standard, you know~ it's basically mini-holographic computer."-
[15:47] <Minaplo> [Beep beep.]
[15:49] <Raphael> Raphael manages to hold his ground for a few seconds longer, but in the end it's his better nature that wins out. He sighs again and lifts himself out of the water, searching around for a towel. "I just need to see what they want."
[15:50] <Minaplo> [Misato giggles. "Oh, Raffy."-
[15:51] <Minaplo> [The towels on display are pastel pink and deliciously fluffy, made for maximum comfort.]
[15:52] * Raphael quickly ties one around his waist and throws his uniform jacket on as well in an attempt to convey some measure of professionalism, however minimal it was when paired with a fluffy towel. Only then does he poke his head out through a crack in the door.-
[15:52] <Raphael> "What is it?"
[15:54] <Minaplo> [A woman wearing a NERV Technical Division jumpsuit was standing outside the door. In her arms was a huge box, about 1.2 cubic metres large. She was struggling with the weight a little. "D… Delivery for Major Katsuragi?"]
[15:57] <Raphael> "Wha-" He's opened the door to assist her before he pays any mind to just what he's wearing, trying to take most of the weight. "You're… delivering this to her /here/?"
[15:58] <Minaplo> [It's lucky Raphael was intending to take the box, because the moment he does the woman backs away, her face going bright red as she openly stares at Raphael's… towel. "Um."]
[16:00] * Raphael 's own blush quickly follows as he follows her gaze - He hadn't so much as bothered to do up one or two of the jacket's buttons, and beyond that…-
[16:01] <Raphael> "Nevermind! I'll… I'll, uh, take it from here!" Raphael says a little too loudly.
[16:01] <Minaplo> [The woman flatly runs away, leaving Raphael alone in the doorway with the heavy box.-
[16:01] <Minaplo> [And it -is- heavy…]
[16:03] * Raphael bears the weight for a few seconds longer, squeezing his eyes shut and trying to fight away the blush before he staggers back inside. He manages to set the box down safely inside, and seems in quite a hurry to shut and lock the door behind him.
[16:03] <Raphael> "…"
[16:04] <Minaplo> [Misato appears in the doorway of the bathroom now, wearing her own fluffy towel. "Everything ok?"]
[16:05] <Raphael> "Fine! Everything's fine." Raphael says quickly, turning to face her. The blush is gone now - Mostly. "Why are packages being delivered to you in the spa, Major?"
[16:07] <Minaplo> [She put a hand to her cheek thoughtfully. "It must be pretty important. Shouldn't it have been sent to my bedroom? I guess whoever sent it is tracking my glove… Impatient, huh?"]
[16:09] <Raphael> "Very." Raphael murmurs, looking at the box with a hint of mistrust. "Odd that they'd track you by the glove but not inform you that it was coming."
[16:10] <Minaplo> ["That -is- odd." Said Misato, eyeing the box.-
[16:11] <Minaplo> [It was made of very thick cardboard, with layers of duct tape carefully pasted over the opening.-
[16:11] <Minaplo> [… It suddenly shook.]
[16:14] * Raphael reacted remarkably quickly, placing himself in the empty space between Misato and the box. "Get my pistol for me, would you Major?" Raphael said calmly. "It's with my clothes."
[16:15] <Minaplo> [Misato had jumped a little when the box shook, but nodded, quickly heading back into the spa room and returning with the pistol.-
[16:16] <Minaplo> ["Don't shoot on reflex, ok?" Said Misato, holding it out to him. "It could be Pen-Pen or something. It wouldn't be the first time he's done something like this."]
[16:17] * Raphael gives her a momentary odd look at that, but he nods as he takes the pistol. "Of course, ma'am." Raphael says, stepping up to the box and beginning to work on the duct tape.
[16:23] <Minaplo> [It took a minute or two to unwrap the layers and layers of duct tape. Once he had, he'd open the flaps to find…-
[16:23] <Minaplo> [That the cardboard box was built around a foam box, with a simple lid now between Raphael and the mysterious cargo.]
[16:24] * Raphael holds his pistol steady with his right hand, his body held tense and ready as he flips open the lid with his foot.
[16:25] <Minaplo> [There was… Something inside. And it was alive.-
[16:33] <Minaplo> [It was a bulky, ungainly-looking creature. The body was heavy-booking, made of dark, non-reflective black flesh. White pouldron-like bone covered the shoulders, which tapered off into disproportionately long black arms, with hands terminating in a three-clawed hand. Spikes of bone jutted from its elbows. Its black legs were long, but too thin-looking to sustain the body. White gill-like objects were embedded into its thighs. Embedded in the middle of its chest was a red core-like object, surrounded by several ribs jutting out of the body. The face was thin, long, tapering off into a point like a bird's beak, or a plague doctor's mask. All in all, if it stood, it would be a little over a metre tall.-
[16:33] <Minaplo> [It was a miniature Annihilator, and right now its arms were curled up around its knees, sitting in a bed of linens, covered by a thin sheet of fabric, clearly fast asleep. It was snoring gently.]
[16:39] * Raphael stared at it for a few long seconds, not moving or even breathing. The anger finds its way into his expression slowly - a tightening around the eyes, and a faint hint of a snarl around his lips - but it's there all the same.-
[16:39] <Raphael> He lowers the pistol.
[16:39] <Raphael> It's pointed towards the thing's core.
[16:47] <Minaplo> ["Raphael, wait!" Said Misato sharply.]
[16:48] <Raphael> Raphael offers no response but a small sigh and a glance towards her out of the corner of his eye, but he doesn't make any move to fire.
[16:49] <Minaplo> [Misato marches over to the box, and has a look inside.-
[16:50] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[16:50] <Minaplo> ["… I don't understand."]
[16:51] <Raphael> "Some idiot's idea of a joke." Raphael mutters, more genuine anger in his voice than Misato would be used to hearing. "I'll deal with it."
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["Hold on, Raphael." Said Misato gently. "If you're going to take care of it, wouldn't it be better if you were more prepared first?"]
[16:54] <Raphael> "I'll manage." He says flatly. "Would you move away from it, Major? Please?"
[16:59] <Minaplo> ["Raphael, no. If this thing has even half the capabilities of a -real- Annihilator, you're not going to kill it wielding an officer's sidearm and wearing a towel. Why don't we close the box back up, take it to Technical, and tell them to deal with it?"]
[17:01] <Raphael> "… Fine." He says, stepping forward and beginning to box the Annihilator back up with shaking hands. "I have a few words for Technical anyway."
[17:04] <Minaplo> [Misato nods, slowly, reaching out to rub his cheek fondly before she heads over to one of the clothing stalls, her towel quickly being replaced with a pair of black trousers and a red coat.]
[17:08] * Raphael spares a box a long, silent look when Misato departs, before turning away to retrieve his own clothes.
[17:10] <Minaplo> ["Want me to carry the box?" Asks Misato when Raphael returns.]
[17:11] <Raphael> "It's fine, Major." He says, hauling the box into his arms with a grunt of strain. "I've got it."
[17:13] <Minaplo> ["Alright."-
[17:15] <Minaplo> [It would be about an eight minute walk to the Technical Division's science lab on the Battleship. It was sparsely populated today- you had some people in the corner (Raphael recognised a few Thruster scientists) working on weapons development, a few in -that- corner working on propulsion. The main area of the lab, built around a MAGI supercomputer, was occupied by only a few people- Surov, one or two scientists Raphael didn't recognise, and Ezekiel, the Emissary, who was answering questions.]
[17:30] <Raphael> An easy decision. Raphael made a beeline towards Surov without so much as a second thought.
[17:33] <Minaplo> ["Your phrasing is difficult to understand, Ezekiel." Said Surov, his back to Raphael and Ezekiel both. "But I believe I comprehend your message. In truth, the concept of comparing it to music had occured to me briefly-"-
[17:33] <Minaplo> [Surov turned, his eyes focusing on Raphael. "What is it, Guillory?"]
[17:36] <Raphael> Raphael set down the box on one of the lab tables with a dull, heavy clonking sound, giving Surov a dark look. "What is this?" He asks, pointing.
[17:37] <Minaplo> [Misato was at Raphael's side, looking less angry, but still deeply disapproving.-
[17:37] <Minaplo> [Surov looks over at the box for a moment.-
[17:40] <Minaplo> ["It is a standard NERV issue 1.25 cubic metre cardboard box with impact-absorbing foam liner. Within the box is one Miniature Friend-Type Annihilator and five cotton sheets." Said Surov, looking up at Raphael expectantly. "Will that be all, Guillory?"]
[17:42] <Raphael> "Please do not test me, Barzilai." Raphael says quietly.
[17:44] <Minaplo> ["Were you not testing me, asking what was in the box?" Asked Surov irritably. "If you have questions, ask them, otherwise, get out."]
[17:46] <Raphael> "Why are you sending Major Katsuragi an Annihilator, Surov?" He says.
[17:55] <Minaplo> ["She ordered me to make her a miniature, harmless Annihilator duplicate." Said Surov. "It took me three weeks and four million six hundred thousand four thousand three hundred and ninety-two francs, but I did as requested."-
[17:56] <Minaplo> ["Wait, what? I don't remember that." Said Misato, frowning.]
[17:58] <Raphael> "…" Raphael finds himself trading a good portion of his anger for confusion, his glancing between Surov and Misato. A miniature Annihilator…? A dim memory nagged at him, tugging at his attention.-
[17:59] <Raphael> A moment later his eyes narrow again. "… When was this?"
[17:59] <Minaplo> ["For reference's sake, three days after the attack on the Geofront." Said Surov.-
[18:00] <Minaplo> ["Huh?" Misato turned to Raphael frowning. "But I was in hospital, they had me highly medicated for a week after the attack."]
[18:03] * Raphael shuts his eyes, fists clenched. "I know." He sighs. "Surov, you spent more than four and a half million francs on an order she gave while under the influence of painkillers and sedatives."
[18:04] <Minaplo> ["… I see."-
[18:05] <Minaplo> [Misato covers her face with her hands, either out of shame or something else.-
[18:06] <Minaplo> ["I am glad to say, nevertheless, that it was not a waste. We learned a great deal from the experimentation." Said Surov. "You will, of course, have to keep it."]
[18:09] <Raphael> "Absolutely not." He snaps. "Either Technical takes it for observation, or it will be disposed of."
[18:11] <Minaplo> ["Are you serious?" Asked Surov irritably. "I go to all this work to create a customised request, and you tell me to take it back?"-
[18:12] <Minaplo> [A new voice entered the fray. The soft, now worried tones of Ezekiel. "… Disposed of?" He asked.]
[18:18] * Raphael glances towards the voice, seeming to really /notice/ Ezekiel for the first time. "My apologies, Emissary. I'm afraid these creatures are rather dangerous. Major Katsuragi has only just finished recovering from the wounds she sustained fighting one, and…" A flicker of some other emotion flashes across his face, and he adjusts his course.-
[18:18] <Raphael> "… They're a security risk."
[18:22] <Minaplo> ["Hardly dangerous." Said Surov dismissively. "In fact, I went out of my way to ensure that it would -improve- Major Katsuragi's safety."]
[18:33] * Raphael 's jaw clenches, but instead of putting forward another counterargument he turns his gaze towards Misato.
[18:37] <Minaplo> [Misato lets out a long sigh, looking back at Raphael- and then over to Surov. "… Look, I'm not Rei. I don't know if I'd be able to… Handle that kind of thing. At least, Rei -understands- how these things work… Are you sure you don't want to try asking Chiisana or something if she wants it?"-
[18:37] <Minaplo> [Misato looks at Raphael after this, clearly looking for encouragement for her brilliant idea.]
[18:41] * Raphael winces slightly. "Surely she wouldn't…"
[18:42] <Minaplo> ["No? I mean…"-
[18:44] <Minaplo> ["Whoever it is had better want it." Said Surov. "I designed the Friend-Type Annihilator so that it imprints on the first person it sees. Once that is done, it will be inseparably loyal to its 'parent', and separating it would be painful to it- traumatic. It would probably die, and that would be a waste."-
[18:44] <Minaplo> ["What?" Misato turned to Surov. "Seriously…?"]
[18:50] <Raphael> "The Colonel will be hearing about this, Surov." Raphael says cooly.
[18:53] <Minaplo> ["Would you prefer it not by loyal to anyone?" Asked Surov. "Enough. If neither of you want it, leave it here and go. I will have one of the interns begin to ask any appropriate individuals."]
[18:54] <Minaplo> <be loyal*>
[18:58] * Raphael looks at Misato. "What do you want to do, Major?"
[19:02] <Minaplo> ["Well…" She scratched the back of her neck nervously. "If Surov's right, then… It's not -that- much of a risk. A-And it is kind of cute." She admitted in a mumble, blushing lightly.]
[19:31] * Raphael rubs his face. "Please hold it here overnight, Doctor. We'll let you know one way or another in the morning."
[20:23] <Minaplo> ["Very well." Said Surov, turning his back on them both.-
[20:23] <Minaplo> [Ezekiel looked at them both, a sad, concerned look on his face, but he said nothing.-
[20:23] <Minaplo> ["C'mon." Said Misato, turning to leave.]
[20:25] * Raphael spares Ezekiel a short, apologetic glance, and then he too turns to go.

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