Post Session 1

[06:24] <Minaplo> [Post-Session 1: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. Date: 19th of April, 2021.-
[06:24] <Minaplo> ["Beginning Synchronisation test."-
[06:25] <Minaplo> [The Entry Plugs were lowered into the simulation chamber. Synchronisation would soon begin.-
[06:26] <Minaplo> [Every week, on Saturday, this practice continued, ritual-like. Long after the need to do so had disappeared.-
[06:26] <Minaplo> [The weeks after the Archangel Raphael's demise had been like many others. Scans, high alert, constant readiness, looking for a foe that would attack any day now.-
[06:27] <Minaplo> [But the days turned into weeks. And the weeks into months, as the Angelspawn numbers dwindled and dwindled.-
[06:27] <Minaplo> [Months became years.-
[06:27] <Minaplo> [It had been a year since the Eva units had been sallied. There had been an earthquake, a disaster…-
[06:28] <Minaplo> [That was what the Evas were for, now. They were no longer the front line. They were cleanup.-
[06:30] <Minaplo> ["How are we feeling, guys?" Asked Frederic. "I know today's a bad day. But…"]
[06:34] <Yanmei> "…it's fine, Gosselin." Yanmei's hair floated oddly in the LCL, pulled back in a simple braid that ran down her back, pigtails long abandoned for something more elegant. But… her synch ratio was already lower than recent tests. She wasn't focusing.
[06:36] * Aline on the other hand had her loose hair, which billowed every which way. Normally she'd be spiking her ratio or otherwise being anomalous, but for whatever reason, it was keeping stable. Possibly the same thing plaguing Yanmei…? "We'll manage."
[06:37] <Sept> "Bet you today's dinner I'll do better than last time." Sera's glasses were still the same, treasured through all these years. He'd gotten used to keeping them on for the tests… it wasn't like 01's eyes would've been any help to him anymore. His hair, the way he dressed… religiously similar to how he always had since becoming himself. But his eyes behind the glasses were -tired-,
[06:37] <Sept> betraying the failures and years of overworking himself.
[06:41] <Minaplo> [Dr. Surov stared flatly at the results.-
[06:43] <Minaplo> [He raised a small audio recorder and pressed the button. "Blanc stable on 71%. Zhang dropping below usual, now at 39%. De Pteres has dropped. 0.4% to 1.8%." He lowered the recorder. "Why is Unit 01 rejecting de Pteres?" He asked to himself. "Even beyond the expected aging decay seen amongst all three pilots, this is an unusual result."]
[06:48] <Sept> "I -told- you we need an overhaul of the plug interface. If you'd just take a look at the designs I sent you, Surov..!"
[06:48] * Aline decided to politely remain silent, but she couldn't help but look around a little bit, almost nervously. Long had she pondered the questions of where the Angels went, what they were doing, and what would happen if they attacked now, now when they had all slipped significantly. Rusted. She caught her head lolling towards where 01 was…
[06:50] <Yanmei> "Sera. Do we really need to discuss this now?" Yanmei kept her eyes closed, barely even moving in her plug. Base provocation is what it was. Stupid Surov…
[06:52] <Sept> A pause, and a resigned tone afterwards. "…no, we don't. We've got time."
[06:52] <Minaplo> [Surov ignored him. "Unit 01 systematically rejected every pilot except de Pteres, but now it is rejecting de Pteres as well. It's plausible that Unit-01 has transferred its 'preference' to someone else, but whom…?"-
[06:53] <Minaplo> ["Sir?" Sophie's voice. She'd just entered the testing lab. "How long until the tests are over? Only, the funeral begins in an hour, and they're going to be late otherwise…"-
[06:53] <Minaplo> [Surov ignored her, too.-
[06:53] <Minaplo> ["Another five." Said Frederic.]
[06:57] <Yanmei> Five minutes. Just another five. Yanmei moved at last, shifting position, dark eyes opening slowly to observe the familiar controls. "We should have skipped the tests entirely," she muttered under her breath. "Just for today."
[06:58] <Minaplo> ["Why?" Asked Surov.]
[07:01] <Yanmei> "How much of a difference would it have made?" She regarded Surov placidly. "How much of a need for these weekly tests is there anymore?"
[07:01] * Sept said nothing, just lay back in the plug, trying to search for that lost fragment in vain.
[07:02] <Minaplo> ["Rigor is critical." Said Surov. "I will not repeat this same argument again."-
[07:02] * Aline was also silent. She had long ago decided that arguing with Surov was futile. Even said as much a few times. So instead, Aline contented herself with folding her arms and leaning back with a grim look.
[07:02] <Minaplo> [She was right in that aspect. The man was utterly implacable.-
[07:03] <Minaplo> [The rest of the tests continued, then the plugs were withdrawn, the LCL drained.-
[07:03] <Minaplo> ["Um, I've placed your formal clothes in your change rooms." Said Sophie. "Please be quick- I'll be waiting in Lot 1."]
[07:05] <Sept> "We'll be there." Sera promptly exited the plug that was no longer his, and wandered off to change.
[07:06] <Yanmei> "Yes, Sophie. Sera, we'll meet you out there, yeah?" Yanmei climbed out of her own plug quietly. "Let's go, Aline."
[07:06] <Sept> "Yeah," he replied.
[07:08] * Aline got up, heading off. "Right, Yanmei, Sera." She said simply, and began to walk.
[07:09] <Minaplo> [After changing, it was then off into Sophie's car. Their driver was quiet- no, sombre, preoccupied as she drove.-
[07:09] <Minaplo> [Yanmei's phone beeped- a text.]
[07:09] * Yanmei yanked it out and peered down at it.
[07:12] <Yanmei> "Ah. It's Isaiah again." She began to reply. "He's… been handling himself surprisingly well."
[07:13] <Aline> "Considering. But I guess there's something to be said about his resolve."
[07:16] <Yanmei> "Maybe he's just gotten used to loss." A certain sadness creeped into her voice… but she discovered it herself and straightened her shoulders as if that would will it away from everyone's minds. "Anyway…"
[07:18] <Sept> "He'll be at the ceremony, though, won't he?"
[07:18] <Yanmei> "Of course. He and Lizzie are waiting at the church right now."
[07:20] * Aline nodded gently. "Right, then."
[07:21] <Sept> "Right. I was afraid they might've… Right."
[07:22] <Yanmei> "Heh. Don't worry. He, at least, is allowed to take breaks from work."
[07:26] <Sept> "Haha. Yeah, I guess they wouldn't really mind…"
[07:28] * Aline remained quiet at that, but was willing to make little gestures of comprehension on and off.
[07:28] <Minaplo> [And the car sped on.-
[07:29] <Minaplo> [After a twenty minute ride, they came to a funeral parlour- a wide, low building on a green hill, surrounded by gardens and trees, fountains and a lake. It was peaceful and quiet.-
[07:30] <Minaplo> [A crowd were milling about, many of them familiar faces. Yui Ikari in a black, simple dress, mute, dabbing at her eyes. Gendo Ikari at her side, impassive; Shinji looking distant a little further off.-
[07:33] <Minaplo> [Isaiah was sitting on a bench next to Elizabeth and Chiisana Himesama; Elizabeth was fidgetting, but Chiisana didn't seem to want to move at all. Her blue hair had gone grey, and was drab and shabby, falling out; her frame was wasted and emaciated, her skin almost translucent; a walking stick had long replaced her umbrella. Here sat the last of the Ayanamis, nothing more than a shadow of
[07:33] <Minaplo> her former glory, but still great simply to exist.-
[07:36] <Minaplo> [William was there. His contract had been shorter than the others; his ended in 2018, not 2025; after being dropped he'd gone on to missionary and charity work all over the world. He stood there now, wearing a long black coat over a priest's robe, speaking to three people- Major Misato Katsuragi, who was smiling in that polite, unhappy way people did when they were sad; next to her was
[07:36] <Minaplo> Raphael Guillory and Suzanne Sartre, the latter of which now stood on two legs, thanks to the miracle of science; but nevertheless she stood with her head bowed low.-
[07:36] <Minaplo> [Alphonse was nowhere to be seen.]
[07:41] <Raphael> Raphael's form is still shaped in Shinji Ikari's likeness, although over a year has seen it diverge enough to make them easy enough to distinguish the two, and right now he has one arm lying gently across Suzanne's shoulders. His own eyes are still dry, but they don't move away from some point in the middle distance. Though his expression is as still as ever he just seems… numb. Tired.
[07:41] <Raphael> However the pain was there for all to see if they took a look at his eyes, and it was as raw and ragged as an exposed nerve.
[07:46] * Yanmei beelined for the bench where her family was, greeting Isaiah with a quick peck on the cheek. The other faces didn't go unnoticed either, her eyes lingering at Raphael in particular with an unreadable expression in them, before turning back to her family. "How was the trip?"
[07:47] <Minaplo> ["Long." Said Isaiah with a short smile. "Better with you and Lizzie waiting for me, but…" He shuddered, just a little, putting an arm around Elizabeth. "How're you holding up?"]
[07:49] * Aline had long ago decided to filter out in her own direction, naturally heading over towards Shinji for simple, obvious reasons. She smiled that soft, awkward smile much like the one Misato was wearing, but greeted him all the same. "Hi. I'd ask how you're doing, but I think we both know the answer to that." She had, much as feared, remained with her current choices rather than drop
[07:49] * Aline everything to go to William. But that was probably a thing for another time, another place.
[07:49] * Sept diverged from his fellow pilots as they arrived, and went around solemnly greeting everyone appropriate. When he stopped to shake Raphael's hand, he stopped as if to say something, not letting go of his hand.
[07:51] <Yanmei> "You know me," she sighed, and took another glance around. "…Alphonse didn't make it?" No. Saying that out loud sounded downright trite.
[07:51] <Minaplo> [Shinji looked up at her, giving her a little smile. "… Yeah. Are you ok?" His face was reserved, not impassive, but unreadable. In its own way, he was shutting things out.-
[07:53] <Minaplo> ["He's inside." Said Isaiah. "With Premier Savage. I think he's not really interested in talking to anyone."]
[07:54] * Raphael does manage to turn his attention to Sept in time to return the handshake in a perfunctory way. Only as the pause stretches out does he seem to come back to himself enough to summon up a small glimpse of his usual expression… which lasts only a moment before collapsing again. "Thank you for coming, Sera."
[07:56] * Aline kept on that same smile, but nodded as well. "I've been better, but…" She looked into the distance, eyes briefly passing over the others, even more briefly lingering on the Awkward Handshake going on now, before sweeping back to Shinji. "I don't know. I guess I feel a little numb about it all."
[07:57] <Yanmei> "Understandably." Yanmei nodded. She greeted Elizabeth, by comfortingly rubbing her shoulder, and then eyed the woman next to her. "Madame Himesama…" She showed the proper respect with a salute. "How are you feeling?"
[07:59] <Sept> There were many things he was supposed to say. "I'm sorry, Raphael," he finally uttered. It covered most of those things. He let go, looked elsewhere and hovered somewhere out of the way.
[08:00] <Minaplo> [William gave Raphael a supportive nod, before he started walking after Sera, saying nothing, but walking alongside him.-
[08:00] <Minaplo> ["… I guess we'll be starting soon." Said Misato.-
[08:01] <Minaplo> ["I know what you mean." Said Shinji to Aline, staring into the group before him. "… I'm not sure how to feel about it all."-
[08:02] <Minaplo> [Chiisana smiled at Yanmei. "It hurts, my dear. Just to keep my eyes open right now is a struggle."-
[08:03] <Minaplo> ["But I've never shied away from struggles, and if I am to lose this one it will not be due to me throwing in the towel. It's left to me to make sure all the chairs are put away and the lights turned off, after all."]
[08:05] * Raphael watches Sera silently for a moment, before giving him a small nod. There was gratitude there, even through the pain.-
[08:05] <Raphael> "…" His arm tightens around Suzanne protectively a little as Misato speaks. "I know. Everything should be in order" His eyes return to that spot in the middle distance.
[08:05] <Aline> "Yeah…" Aline reached to grab one of his hands, just to have some kind of anchor. "I suppose, after a while, it became inevitable. Which itself is almost as sad as it is numbing."
[08:06] <Yanmei> "I understand." Yanmei relaxed her posture a bit, and lowered her hand, not quite smiling back, her eyes sad again. "I'm sorry for your loss." Losses. "If there's anything I can do to make things easier…"
[08:08] * Sept stopped, waiting for a moment to ensure William did as well. "You're a dove," he said.
[08:09] <Minaplo> ["… I'm sick of funerals." Said Misato, sighing.-
[08:10] <Minaplo> ["I wonder how she felt." Murmured Shinji. "Heh. I guess it doesn't matter. Rei was always the same, no matter what…"-
[08:11] <Minaplo> ["If you could support me, Yanmei- I am afraid…" Her eyes narrowed. "I may become rather excitable during the service."-
[08:11] <Minaplo> [William was silent for a time as Sera spoke. Eventually, he replied. "Yes, I am."]
[08:13] <Sept> "A hawk-dove game only works if there's a resource to fight over. There was nothing there. We convinced ourselves and each other…"
[08:16] <Raphael> "Rei would hate this." He says tonelessly. "She'd be trying to cheer us up."
[08:17] <Yanmei> "Excitable, Madame? You?" Yanmei offered a small smile now.
[08:17] * Aline gave a little squeeze. "You're right, you know. Unflappable to the last."
[08:18] <Minaplo> ["… And now the hawk has no purpose." Said William quietly.-
[08:19] <Minaplo> [There was a sort of choked sob from Suzanne. Apparently she was thinking the same.-
[08:20] <Minaplo> ["We'll just have to do a good job in her place." Said Misato, putting an arm around Raphael's waist.-
[08:22] <Minaplo> ["Indeed." Chiisana struggled to her feet- Isaiah sprang up and helped her. "I will give that son of a bitch a piece of my mind if it's the last thing I ever do." Said Chiisana darkly, eyeing Gendo Ikari. "Mind you, it probably will be- but it'd be worth it."-
[08:23] <Minaplo> ["It's too much." Said Shinji, shaking his head. "Too much. It's too sad to think about. She didn't deserve to die like this."]
[08:24] <Sept> "None. I think… I think it all began with Rei. Maybe this is finally the beginning of our end."
[08:25] <Minaplo> ["Sera." Said William quietly. "Look at me."]
[08:27] <Yanmei> "I see." Yanmei followed her gaze. "That's something I'd like to see myself? -Someone- has to." She held back the urge to offer her arm, as it seemed that Isaiah had already done so in a way. "Ready to go inside?"
[08:27] <Minaplo> [She nodded. Elizabeth ran over to Yanmei and took her hand. "Everybody's sad, mama."]
[08:29] * Sept did. The words sounded… patronising, to him. But he looked into William's eyes, even if he didn't face him directly.
[08:31] * Raphael swallows hard and nods, straightening up with some effort. For a moment he just stands there, providing what support he could to Suzie even as he leans against Misato in search of the same, but after a while there was only one thing left to say: "It's time."
[08:31] <Minaplo> [William stepped forward and hugged Sera, tightly- they'd never been close, and yet…-
[08:31] <Minaplo> [He didn't add anything.-
[08:32] <Yanmei> "I know, sweetie." Yanmei gave her hand a little squeeze. "Rei was very well-loved. We can't help being sad that she's gone away."
[08:34] <Minaplo> [Behind Yanmei, Isaiah had gone quiet, quieter than usual- his breath caught in his throat, but he didn't say anything.-
[08:34] <Minaplo> ["Alright. Let's go inside." Said Misato gently.]
[08:37] <Sept> "Ah..?" Sera was caught off guard, to say the least. Though he did answer the embrace, if incredibly awkwardly. "William, what..?"
[08:38] <Raphael> A little tremble goes through him for a moment, but he moves nonetheless. He's careful to keep his gaze away from the other Ayanamis… they only served to conjure memories of the months that came before. All the pain and hopelessness as she'd slipped away.
[08:40] <Minaplo> ["this isn't the beginning of the end, Sera." Whispered William. "Something has ended, but the end is not yet. Let yourself be carried if you must, for a time, but don't lose sight of it all."-
[08:42] <Minaplo> [Shinji sighed, turning to Aline. "Come on. Let's go inside."]
[08:42] <Yanmei> "Isaiah…" Yanmei paused, glancing back at him. Then, she drifted back, taking his other hand with her own free one, forming a four-person line.
[08:43] <Minaplo> [He smiled at her, grateful, clearly, and let her head.]
[08:43] <Sept> "…yeah. That'd be helpful, wouldn't it?" Sera extricated himself.
[08:46] <Minaplo> [The parlour within was simple, pews lining a central aisle lined with red carpet. A guestbook sat at the front double doors.-
[08:48] <Minaplo> [At the very end of this aisle sat a casket on an altar, the ground in front of it covered with flowers of all colours and types. Picture frames lined the casket and the altar.-
[08:49] <Minaplo> [Pictures of her smiling, laughing; a picture of her with her kitten, Nene; her first birthday; a picture of Rei in her wedding dress, looking absolutely radiant…-
[08:50] <Minaplo> [Only two people were sitting in the front row. The slumped, long-haired form of Alphonse Wellesley; sitting next to him in a black robe was Terence. Neither of them were moving.]
[08:56] * Raphael quietly takes a seat in the front row next to Alphonse without a word, letting Suzanne take the next one over. He can only look at those photographs for a moment or two before he's forced to turn away.
[08:57] * Aline would eventually take her seat alongside Shinji. wordlessly, a bit further towards the back.
[08:58] <Yanmei> The Zhang-Wei clan was on route to a nearby position, right behind the first row. Yanmei gazed at Terrance a moment, as if trying to glean some sort of update from him about Alphonse's state. It didn't look good…
[08:59] <Minaplo> [Suzanne didn't last that long. One look at the photographs, and she looks up at Raphael with an utterly heartbroken expression. "… I miss Rei."-
[09:00] <Minaplo> [A second later she's -sobbing-, tears flowing down her cheeks, and the reaction spreads quickly. A second later Alphonse starts shaking violently in his seat as his own tears flow.]
[09:01] * Sept hung back at first, waiting for the others' cues. He couldn't feel comfortable taking a seat anywhere near the front, and just settled on a seat somewhere around Aline, yet leaving her and Shinji their space.
[09:02] <Minaplo> [Gendo and Yui settled up near the front, Yui shuddering and weeping as she saw those pictures- Gendo's expression unreadable. He simply stared at the pictures of Rei, his eyes hidden behind his glasses.]
[09:03] * Aline held a bit tighter to the hand she had never really let go of, sniffling slightly but managing to hold back actual tears. Was this will, or…?
[09:06] <Minaplo> ["This… Didn't have to happen." Said Shinji, wiping at his eyes. "This could've been avoided… Why…?"-
[09:07] <Minaplo> [William entered after most of the others, and like Sera he took up position at the back.]
[09:07] * Yanmei heard the tears before she saw them, and she steeled herself, anticipation welling up as she thought about Isaiah's state too. Alphonse and the Guillories were so close… and… she let go of Elizabeth's hand, briefly, reaching out to grasp the former's shoulder.
[09:08] * Aline sighed deeply. "I don't know why. That's…" Sniff. "…the worst part."
[09:11] * Sept cast small glances at everyone gathered… wondering what exactly he was doing there. He avoided others' eyes as well as he could.
[09:14] * Raphael doesn't join the others as the tears begin to flow, not even as he looks down at Suzanne, but his breathing is uneven as struggles with the choking sensation that seems to have settled in his chest. His focus seems to have narrowed to encompass only parts of the room: Alphonse on one side, Suzanne on the other, and the seemingly endless array of photos on the altar. "I know,
[09:14] * Raphael sweetheart. I do too…"
[09:19] <Minaplo> [Suzanne's tears aren't stopping. Misato pats her on the shoulder, trying to be as comforting as she can- but it's clear that she, too, is at a loss.-
[09:21] <Minaplo> [Isaiah shakily grabs Yanmei's hand and squeezes it as tightly as he can, even as his tears start to flow.-
[09:23] <Minaplo> [Shinji's, however, slowly stop flowing, and when he emerges from his grief his face is a dead, taut mask.-
[09:25] <Minaplo> [The celebrant- an older man, with thinning grey hair- steps up to the front of the congregation. "We are gathered here today to mourn the passing and celebrate the life of Rei Wellesley-Ayanami…"-
[09:35] <Minaplo> [Much of the ceremony seems to glide by. Her life, originating in Japan, her career as a pilot, being assigned to Boston, meeting Alphonse, falling in love…-
[09:36] <Minaplo> [Their marriage in 2019, and her eventual death, three weeks ago, her hand held by her Al-chan.-
[09:38] <Minaplo> [He spoke of how Rei won the heart of everyone she met with her kindness, her compassion and happiness. How even in her last precious moments, she was smiling.-
[09:39] <Minaplo> [When it is eventually time for Alphonse to speak, he isn't able to make it to the podium by himself- Terence guides him, gently, along the way.-
[09:39] <Minaplo> ["R… Rei…"]
[09:42] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei watched, pained. She was holding Isaiah's hand still, patting it quietly, resting in close to him. She stole a quick look at Chiisana.
[09:44] <Minaplo> [Alphonse is pale and his eyes are red raw. There is an utterly helpless look in his eyes, the look of a person who simply doesn't know what to do with themselves. In truth, he hasn't eaten in days, and hasn't slept in weeks.-
[09:45] <Minaplo> ["I-I dunno what I'm gonna do." He mutters. It's not a speech, not anything prepared. His usual delicate words just run into each other, slurred, a total mess. "I don't have anything anymore."-
[09:45] <Minaplo> [Chiisana is sitting as straight as she can, her face impassive. She almost looks proud…]
[09:46] * Aline stared forwards, looking… sympathetic, now?
[09:47] * Sept was looking at Alphonse with a strange expression. There was definitely great sadness in there, but also a wealth of other emotions.
[09:48] * Raphael feels himself tense, even through the numbing daze that shelters him from all of this. His first instinct is to stand, to go to him, but with Suzanne already sobbing in his arms… The most he can do is try to catch Terence's eye.
[09:52] <Minaplo> [Terence gives Raphael a solid nod. The big man is sombre and clearly affected, but his face is a mask of strength as he reaches out to support Alphonse.-
[09:52] <Minaplo> ["I miss her." Mumbles Alphonse. "I just want her back."-
[09:52] <Minaplo> [There's nothing more he can say. Words fail him; in the next few moments he is gently guided back to his seat.-
[09:53] <Minaplo> [Isaiah's face is twisted in sadness and pain; Shinji is staring at the ground dazedly. "That's how this all started."]
[09:57] * Yanmei …slowly got up. She gave Isaiah a last small smile, and then parted hands, moving for the podium.
[09:57] * Aline sighed at hearing Shinji's words. "And yet…" She muttered quietly in response as Yanmei got up.
[09:57] * Raphael waits until Alphonse is back in his seat before gently reching over to grip the young man's shoulder. There's nothing more to say. There's no real comfort to be found here…
[10:00] <Sept> It was how it all had started, wasn't it? It could be a lesson. Sera dared not speak up, no matter how much he wanted to.
[10:02] <Yanmei> "Rei was…" Yanmei gazed out at her audience, a slim figure in a decorated black business suit, hair pulled back and still slightly shiny from her earlier shower. Slowly she groped for and carefully shaped her words. It was far from her first public speech, yet her eyes seemed to be searching for someone. "Rei was a teacher. But, I think she was too modest to call herself that." -
[10:05] <Yanmei> "There are lessons to be learned from her birth, the shaping of her life, and her graceful last moments. And it seems that each of those lessons are pushing us all toward kindness and acceptance."-
[10:09] <Yanmei> "She… struggled to find herself. We -all- struggle with that but she… she had more difficulties than usual from the beginning. The person she found, however, was gentle, caring, cheerful, strong and forgiving and she gave us all the gift of getting to know that person. The real her!"-
[10:14] <Yanmei> "That is her real gift to humanity. Not her occupation." She was on firm ground by now, a certain passion starting to kindle in her eyes as she went on. "And along with that, I would hope that she also gave us the courage to shape ourselves and to define our own destinies to seek our own romances and pleasures and views of the world." She paused.
[10:17] * Raphael is nodding slowly, still doing his best to comfort Suzie even with his own head bowed.
[10:18] <Minaplo> [Suzanne's tears have seemingly stopped, but now she's mute and staring off into space as she leans against Raphael.-
[10:18] <Minaplo> [Isaiah, too, is nodding, and as Yanmei speaks a strange, fey look comes to Chiisana's eye.-
[10:19] <Minaplo> ["Despite the odds." Mumbled Shinji.]
[10:19] * Aline nodded, not just at the speech, but at Shinji. She herself was still a little bit distant, but not heavily so…
[10:23] * Sept was nodding to himself very slowly at the speech. "That's right," he breathed.
[10:25] <Yanmei> "Remember Rei." She said finally, firmly. "The great hero, the great leader, the sweet young lady that we all knew and the love and lessons she gave us, too. While I wish I could have said this to her before it was too late, I do not hesitate to say it now. I think it's less than she deserves, actually?"-
[10:25] <Yanmei> "Thank you, Ayanami Rei."
[10:26] <Yanmei> And with that she pulled back from the podium, finished.
[10:27] <Minaplo> ["Thank you, indeed." Chiisana rose, at this, and leaning on her cane, began to walk shakily to the front.]
[10:29] * Yanmei blinked, and smiled, moving forward to offer a hand if needed.
[10:31] <Minaplo> [Chiisana nodded at Yanmei, although continuing by herself- wanting Yanmei there just in case. She stepped up to the podium slowly and carefully.-
[10:34] <Minaplo> ["Rei deserved a lot. She gave a lot." Said Chiisana, planting her walking stick on the ground, leaning on it. "And it seems to me that she sure as hell didn't get what was owed to her."]
[10:37] <Yanmei> "…" Oh boy… but she couldn't be surprised. Yanmei just hung back, watching for reactions.
[10:37] * Raphael has untangled his arms from Suzanne's in a flash, and he leans forward… not quite getting up yet, but clearly ready if needed. "Miss Chiisana…" He says, the numbness making his words sound dull and toneless.
[10:38] * Sept raised his head and stared at the Ayanami, mouth slightly open.
[10:42] * Aline continued to stare, but her head started ti list to one side, curious.
[10:43] <Minaplo> ["You will have to forgive me." Said Chiisana. "It's deeply inappropriate to air these things here, but this is the only chance I'll have, because my dear 'father'-" she shot a look towards Gendo- "Refuses to speak or talk to me, so here I am."]
[10:45] <Raphael> "Then at least let me take the two of you both outside, Chiisana." He says, a bit of his normal strength creeping back in as he gets to his feet. He glances back at Alphonse. "I understand, you know I do, but this is… not right."
[10:49] * Sept leaned forward in interest, not entirely aware of it himself. He gave Chiisana the subtlest of nods.
[10:50] <Minaplo> [She shoots daggers at Gendo, who, with a sigh, gets to his feet. "If that's what you want, then yes, let us do this outside."]
[10:53] <Raphael> "Thank you, ma'am." He says… and with only the slightest of hesitations - looking too long at her face as he tries to bite back another wave of grief - he offers her his arm as he did many years ago.
[10:54] <Yanmei> "Miss Himesama? Will you be all right, the three of you?"
[10:55] <Minaplo> ["He might not be once I'm done." She growls, but she takes Raphael's arm. She's thin and frail and light- so horribly light.-
[10:55] <Minaplo> [Suzanne stays back with Misato, looking frightened and scared.]
[10:58] * Raphael pauses long enough to motion to Terry to continue things before leading the two of them back towards the main doors.
[11:01] * Yanmei took that to mean that she would be okay. Although she did look meaningfully at Raphael as they left, heading back to her own seat calmly.
[11:03] * Sept looked at the people heading outside, each in turn… but it was more of a pitying look than anything else. He stayed put.
[11:04] * Aline remained seated too, slightly uneasy, but otherwise okay.
[11:05] <Minaplo> [The awkward silence dragged on for a few seconds before Terence stood up and took the podium.-
[11:06] <Minaplo> ["Let's… Move on."-
[11:07] <Minaplo> [The rest of the ceremony proceeded… The events outside eventually took a back seat to the events within. There didn't seem to be much more to say.-
[11:09] <Minaplo> [After the liturgies, the prayers, the speeches, all that was left was to take Rei away. Not to be buried- but to be taken to her heartland, back to her home, where she had built her new life.-
[11:10] <Minaplo> [Alphonse went with her, not bothering to stay around for wakes or any such nonsense. He didn't have the heart.-
[11:11] <Minaplo> [It was a deeply gloomy group that congregated in the hall.]
[11:16] <Sept> Indeed it was. Sera, however, seemed to be deep in thought now, compared to the general depression of when he had arrived here.
[11:16] * Yanmei had done the rounds as people had exited seating area, shaking hands and offering condolences where it applied. Now the tide of mourners was starting to die down, and she allowed herself a moment introspection, drifted back toward the other pilots.
[11:18] * Aline was quiet and, maybe not quite forlorn, but a bit distant still…
[11:20] <Yanmei> "…a question," Yanmei finally said. She had folded her arms, and wasn't looking at either one of them directly. "An old one that someone asked me long ago. Do you guys believe in heaven?"
[11:25] <Sept> "…no. I might have, once upon a time. But that ship has sailed."
[11:27] <Yanmei> "I understand the appeal now. A little space where all your lost loved ones will wait to greet you." She moved to rub her face, but stopped automatically out of makeup concerns. "Ugh. I'm such a wreck today?"
[11:29] * Aline nodded. "It's a day of sadness, it's to be expected…"
[11:30] <Sept> "You're doing fine. No one's taking this well."
[11:31] <Yanmei> "I suppose. You two are handling it well yourselves."
[11:32] <Minaplo> [A large tanned hand would fell on Yanmei's shoulder. "The three of you have always been made of firmer stuff." Said Terence, his left hand holding a plate of pastries and sausage rolls.]
[11:32] <Aline> "I'm… numbed, that's why." Aline explained simply, before Terence /appeared/. "Ah, snacks would be nice, thank you."
[11:33] <Minaplo> ["These are mine."]
[11:34] <Sept> "Hmh. That's right. We grew up to a whole different world."
[11:35] * Aline managed to smile. "Aheh, right."
[11:35] <Yanmei> "I guess they're not serving ice cream here, are they?" Yanmei had turned with a smile to face him properly. "It's been a while, Premier Savage"
[11:36] <Minaplo> ["They should." Said Terence darkly. "Rei would have wanted it." He nevertheless offered Aline his plate, if she so wished. "Oh, and don't call me that. Treat me like you always did."]
[11:37] * Raphael has quit IRC (Quit: <Mina‘Haplo> ’T' is for Tao, who is Tsundere as hell :|)
[11:37] * Aline was polite enough to refuse, given the circumstance. "Mm…"
[11:37] * Raphael has joined #nervfrance
[11:41] <Yanmei> "All right." Yanmei gave a little sigh. "And how are you holding up, Terence?"
[11:41] <Sept> "Yeah. We haven't been seeing a lot of you." They weren't words of a warm reunion.
[11:43] <Minaplo> ["Ah, well." He shifts his hand across Yanmei's shoulders and gives her a friendly squeeze. "Well, I've been busy. Australia and all." He takes a deep sigh. "I'm fine, Yanmei. Rei was a fine young lady, but I am certain I'll meet her again some day."]
[11:45] <Yanmei> "Ah?" she looked up at him with surprise, not at the gesture, but at his words.
[11:48] <Minaplo> ["I take the long view." Said Terry quietly. "We all come from something, we all go to something when we die, no? Well, I suppose it's a cycle- there was once a Rei, there will be a Rei."]
[11:50] <Sept> "I understand the intention is admirable, but I wouldn't say that out loud," Sera said coldly.
[11:54] <Yanmei> "Sera. Relax. He didn't mean anything by it."
[11:56] <Minaplo> ["Hey, Aline-" Shinji, having broken off from a conversation with his mother. "Hey… I-I'm thinking I might… Go. Do you want to come with me?"]
[11:57] <Minaplo> ["Heh. Let the boy speak his mind, Yanmei." Said Terry. "And I'll speak mine."]
[11:59] <Yanmei> "Fine, fine…"
[12:00] * Raphael has quit IRC (Quit: <Mina‘Haplo> ’T' is for Tao, who is Tsundere as hell :|)
[12:01] <Sept> "I have no reason to start an argument with you about unrelated persons. Rei did well for herself. That is -all-."
[12:03] * Aline stood up, walking over to Shinji. "Ah…" She looked over at Terry and Sera, but then back at Shinji. "Certainly."
[12:05] <Minaplo> ["… Alright." He put an arm around Aline's shoulders and led her off.-
[12:05] <Yanmei> "So long, Aline." She bobbed her head in Shinji's direction as well.
[12:05] <Minaplo> [Terry nodded slowly. "See you, girl. Hang in there."]
[12:08] * Aline nodded, made a little smile back at them, but… then was lead off indeed!
[12:09] * Aline has quit IRC (Quit: )
[12:16] <Yanmei> "By the way, Terrence… have you heard from the Lindens recently? There's an election coming up over in the States."
[12:18] <Minaplo> ["I've spoken to Minerva, yes. She seems confident about her chances…"]
[12:19] <Yanmei> "I thought I'd see her here, actually." Yanmei glanced around, disappointed. "I guess she's really busy with it?"
[12:19] <Minaplo> ["I was able to make the trip, but… I guess her responsibilities are just bigger."]
[12:21] <Yanmei> "Hm. I haven't seen the new President of France, either."
[12:23] <Minaplo> ["He's an idiot." Sighed Terry.]
[12:24] <Yanmei> "Heh. Don't worry. I doubt he'll be there long?" Yanmei chuckled. "Hey, Sera. Have you met him yet?"
[12:25] <Sept> "I've succesfully avoided doing so. See above for the reason."
[12:27] <Yanmei> "Lucky," Yanmei said wryly. "He's visited the Embassy often enough for me to run into him on occassion. It's unavoidable."
[12:32] <Sept> "Yet somehow you make it through day after day without stabbing anyone. It's amazing."
[12:33] <Minaplo> [Terry lets out a low chuckle at that. "Ah, I know how that feels. In any case. I'll leave you two to it." He says. "It's been good to see you all again… I admit, there are times where I miss the old days. Stay out of trouble."]
[12:35] <Yanmei> "You too. Visit more often!" Yanmei gave him a pat on the arm as he disengaged.
[12:36] <Sept> "Or maybe we'll come visit you when things start back up again. Goodbye."
[12:36] <Minaplo> [He gave them a wave and headed off.]
[12:37] <Yanmei> "Good old days, huh?" Yanmei murmured once he was out of earshot. "…"
[12:39] <Sept> "'Relax. He didn't mean anything by it'."
[12:41] <Yanmei> "Har har. I hope they at least serve wine here." She glanced around again. "They weren't that good. Or bad. But there are some guys I still wish I could see regularly."
[12:44] <Sept> "Of course. Well… maybe moreso for you. But much more than that, it's the answers we never got that irk me."-
[12:45] <Sept> "Whose resolve was the greatest? Whose plan the most cunning? Were any of us -right-?"
[12:50] <Yanmei> "I almost wish I could say that we could still find out. But…" she smiled again, softly. "We've become obsolete, haven't we? I doubt they'll even dig up new pilots if we decide to leave. The Ayanamis won't be replaced. There's no need."
[12:57] <Sept> "You're right, of course. The fighting just kept us from realising we were stuck in this limbo the entire time. Take the thrill of it away, and…"
[13:03] * Minaplo is now known as Minaplo|Sleep
[13:03] <Yanmei> "It's like being empty, right?" Her gaze grew a little distant. "Like those dumb simulations. If they're keeping us here, they could at least…"
[13:05] <Sept> "At least what? Send living game down into our pit instead of cooked meat?"
[13:08] <Yanmei> "That's one way of putting it." A long pause. "It's not like I -miss- him or anything," she clarified.
[13:10] <Sept> "I do. Try looking at it from his perspective."
[13:12] <Yanmei> "I have. Best case scenario, he's bored as hell right now. Worst case…" she trailed off.
[13:13] <Sept> "Yeah. 'least we have therapists, right?" Sera laughed pathetically and inappropriately.
[13:15] * Yanmei smiled with him for the moment. "Surov is an idiot."
[13:19] <Sept> "Agreed. Gendo, too. Maybe she'll break his nose."
[13:21] * Yanmei laughed at that. It was a far livier sound than she usually put out during formal occassions. "It'd suck if we missed out on seeing that? But even still." She shook her head. "Want to join me in seeing if they are indeed serving wine?"
[13:23] * Sept pondered for a moment. "Sure, fuck it. Remember that party Rei threw with Gendo and everyone? She'd want us to."
[13:24] <Yanmei> "Absolutely." She gave a firm nod. "Shall we~?"
[13:26] <Sept> "We shall!" Sera exclaimed just a little too loudly, patting her on the shoulder. And together they shalled.

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