Raphael S Neighbor

<@Raphael> "- Of course, Colonel. Certainly. I'll be right there." The beep of a phone disconnecting.-
<@Raphael> Sunday morning, and Raphael's pulling himself out of bed with a sigh and going in search of a clean uniform. It may be his day off, but he's used to such things being taken with a pinch of salt. According to Marianne there was a VIP waiting in the Geofront that needed an escort out to their quarters, and he was the best person for the job - As far as calls in to the Geofront on his days away went, this one was fairly benign. It was an interruption, certainly, but nothing to be nervous about.-
<@Raphael> … Or at least it wouldn't have been, had he not heard the faint sound of giggling as he hung up the phone.
<@Raphael> « fairly benign. It was an interruption, certainly, but nothing to be nervous about.-*»
<Minaplo> [At least it was a quiet morning. With the troubles in Italy and China quieted, Paris-2 seemed to have slowed down to catch its breath. People enjoyed their day off, lolling about in parks, chatting in cafes and restaurants, seeing movies…]
<@Raphael> All of which he observed from the driver's seat of his car as he navigated his way down the familiar roads that led to the Geofront, where his VIP guest was supposedly waiting…
<Minaplo> [Apparently, whoever it was had decided to spare him the ordeal of parking his car in one of the NERV car elevators and entering the Geofront itself. Waiting by one of the entrances- one he'd been directed to- was Captain Gosselin, looking as relaxed as he ever did, speaking to a straight-backed, fairly short young woman with short black hair and a large suitcase.]
*Raphael stared, actually going slightly pale as he makes a jerky turn into the small road that swings past the entrance. He pulls up alongside the pair, hoping quietly that it's simply a mistake as he lowers the automatic window. "Good morning, Captain."
<Minaplo> ["Hey, here he is." Says Frederic with a grin. "Morning, Guillory. Come out and say hello."]
<@Raphael> Seeing no other option, Raphael does so. For a split-second as he climbs out his back is turned to the visitor, and he uses the opportunity to give Fred a very dark look indeed… and yet somehow he has a polite smile on a heartbeat later as he turns to the VIP. "Good day, ma'am." He says, offering her a hand.
<Minaplo> [The lieutenant- according to her rank insignia- had given him a salute as he stepped out. On being offered a hand she slowly reached out and took it to shake, as though surprised. "Lieutenant Cornelia Archibald, sir."-
<Minaplo> ["Lieutenant Archibald's the Chief Weapons Officer on the battleship." Said Fred, who had merely grinned evilly at Raphael's look.]
*Raphael gives the Lieutenant an awkward smile at the confusion, looking apologetic. "I see. It's nice to meet you, Lieutenant." He says, glancing over at Fred and doing best to ignore the Captain's amusement. "This is our VIP, I take it?"
<Minaplo> ["That's right." Said Fred. "We figured you were the best person to escort her to her new lodgings."]
<@Raphael> "And why's that, sir?"
<Minaplo> ["Her lodgings are right next door to yours."]
<@Raphael> "… A-… a-ahaha." He says, managing only the barest mimicry of polite laughter. "Of course. I see."
<Minaplo> [Archibald looks from Frederic to Raphael with a faintly quizzical expression. "I hope that is not disruptive, sir."]
*Raphael looks back Archibald and makes a hurried dismissive gesture. "No, Lieutenant, not at all." He says hurriedly, giving her a more sincere smile this time. "You'll have to ignore me, ma'am, I'm afraid I'm not entirely awake yet."
<Minaplo> ["I understand, sir."-
<Minaplo> ["Archibald, why don't you go put your luggage away whilst I have a word with the good Captain?"-
<Minaplo> ["Yes, sir." And she moved to do just that.]
*Raphael reaches inside the car to unlock the boot, turning back to the Captain as Cornelia moves away and giving him an expectant look.
<Minaplo> ["Look, this isn't my fault." Said Frederick in a quiet voice. "This is just how things work out, that's all."]
<@Raphael> "Of course, sir. I understand how crowded Paris can be." He mutters, actually beginning to sound a little annoyed.
<Minaplo> ["Don't you give me that. Would you rather we toss her willy-nilly into the city by herself?"]
<@Raphael> "… No. Of course not." He says, anger fading as he manages to compose himself. He rubs at his neck. "But are you sure this is the best solution? And just to be clear, I'm not simply asking for my sake."
<Minaplo> ["Quite sure." Said Frederic. "Don't worry about it. Besides, think of all the fun the two of you could have together. I hear she's quite the drinker, and she's an old friend of Alphonse's as well- think of the gossip, yeah?"]
*Raphael is silent a few moments longer, but it's obvious enough that he's been beaten. He nods. "… Of course, sir. Pardon me."
<Minaplo> [The sound of the boot closing. Archibald turns to look at them, waiting patiently.-
<Minaplo> ["Godspeed, my friend." Says Frederic solemnly.]
*Raphael manages to restrain his sigh as he gives the Captain a salute before returning to the car, pausing to open Archibald's door on the way around to his own.
<Minaplo> ["Thank you, sir." She says, stepping into the seat and closing it herself.]
*Raphael 's own door shuts a moment later, and soon enough they're pulling away from the Geofront and leaving Captain Gosselin behind them. "Pardon the confusion back there, ma'am."
<Minaplo> ["Not a problem, sir." She says crisply, turning her attention to the scrolling scenery outside the passenger's window.]
<@Raphael> It passes like that for a few more minutes, the hum of the engine and passing traffic the only sound until Raphael speaks up again. "The Land Battleship's quite a posting, Lieutenant. How have you been finding it?"
<Minaplo> ["I'm adjusting well, sir, thank you for asking. In truth, theDorian Lachapelle is, once one sees past the trappings and scale, nothing too far outside my realm of experience. I think it's taking me more effort to adjust to NERV than to the battleship, sir."]
*Raphael chuckles. "Yes, well, NERV tends to have that effect on some of us." He says with a small smile. "… But what /is/ your realm of experience, if you don't mind my asking?"
<Minaplo> ["Royal Navy, sir." She said. "Twelve months pirate-hunting on a Destroyer, and I served during the LN War on a ballistic missile submarine, striking shipping in the Atlantic."]
*Raphael nods slowly, turning on the indicator as he changes lanes. "That's tough work. I know the Royal Navy were involved in some heavy operations during the war."
<Minaplo> ["Yes, sir."]
<@Raphael> "And with that background… mmm, I can imagine that the move to NERV may have been something of a culture shock. I remember having some problems of my own."
<Minaplo> ["Yes, sir." A pause. "… Am I clear to speak freely here, sir?"]
<@Raphael> "Of course, Lieutenant."
<Minaplo> ["If I may be so bold as to say, NERV seems to cultivate a great deal of… Eccentricity."]
*Raphael laughs again, nodding all the while. "Something of an understatement, ma'am. Have you met the Thruster science team yet?"
<Minaplo> ["Yes, sir. They were rather enthusiastic about the Battleship's weapons systems…"]
<@Raphael> "It doesn't take much to provoke excitement from that team, I'm afraid." He shakes his head slowly. "I've never quite made up my mind on why NERV seems to foster 'eccentricity', as you put it. One theory goes that it's simply the most effecient coping mechanism for dealing with some of the darker parts of our job. Of course, I would personally prefer we attempted to maintain a more professional atmosphere, but I seem to be one of the few."
<@Raphael> «one of the few."
<@Raphael> »
<Minaplo> ["Apparently, sir."-
<Minaplo> ["… That reminds me, actually, sir. I met Pilot de Pteres and Zhang yesterday."]
*Raphael winces faintly. "… Aha. And how did that go?"
<Minaplo> ["I wasn't prepared, sir. I admit I halfway suspect it was some kind of hazing ritual." Muttered Archibald. "De Pteres started by asking me out."]
*Raphael lets out a quiet sigh. "Please allow me to apologize on his behalf, ma'am. Pilot de Pteres can be… difficult, especially for new acquaintances."
<Minaplo> ["Yes, sir." Said Archibald quietly. "… Are you aware, sir, that he seems to have visions of controlling NERV personally as a worldwide independent entity? He mentioned becoming a god a few times as well."]
<@Raphael> "… Yes. He does that, from time to time." Raphael says mildly.-
<@Raphael> "I'm afraid that, while all of the Eva pilots have been put under enormous strain by their position, de Pteres may be the one showing the largest psychological side-effects."
<Minaplo> [It was probably more Raphael's blasé attitude that convinced her more than anything. "Well, on the positive side, Pilot Zhang seemed to be quite sensible, sir."]
*Raphael nods. "Pilot Zhang's a very bright young lady, yes. Between her personal life and her work with the Evas there's a lot of weight on her shoulders, but she copes with it remarkably well."
<Minaplo> ["Glad to hear it, sir."]
<@Raphael> "… Pilot de Pteres is a person beneath all the ego, I must point out. It's a shame that so few people get to see that."
<Minaplo> ["Of course, sir." She said politely.]
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*Raphael chuckles. "Not that I expect you to believe it. Spouting dreams of apotheosis isn't the finest way to make a first impression."
<Minaplo> ["I admit, sir, he could've timed it a little better, yes." She said with a small smile. "I'm not entirely surprised, though, sir. It must be hard not to let such things go to one's head when one can pilot a war machine that can shrug off N2 mines."]
<@Raphael> «Is a decent person*(Massively delayed)»
<@Raphael> "Essentially, ma'am. Psychological trauma and that sort of power don't mix particularly well." He says with a sigh.-
<@Raphael> He's silent for a few moments, turning off the main road and on to a narrower street. "Captain Gosselin mentioned you were an old friend of Major Wellesley, Lieutenant?"
<Minaplo> ["You could say that, sir." Says Archibald. "We were both trained at the same facility."]
<@Raphael> "Ah. You were with the NeoAlexander project, then?"
<Minaplo> ["… You know about that, sir?"]
<@Raphael> "Mmm. Alphonse has spoken about it from time to time."
<Minaplo> ["I see. You're acquainted with the Major, sir?"]
<@Raphael> "I am. He's been in a relationship with Rei Ayanami of the Boston unit for a while now, and she and I are rather close. "
<Minaplo> ["I see, sir."]
<@Raphael> "… I'm acquainted with President Linden as well, come to think of it." He says after a moment of thought. "The NeoAlexanders seem to be becoming rather prominent lately."
<Minaplo> ["I suspect that you won't meet many more after me, sir."]
*Raphael gives her a sidelong look, wondering whether he's made a mistake. "No, Lieutenant?"
<Minaplo> ["You were bound to hear of Major Wellesley and President Linden before long, sir." She says, and she doesn't seem offended or upset. "They're the great success stories of the project, the créme de la créme. No other Companion can really compare, sir. We've been spread out through a great many conventional armies, and I don't think any have been assigned to the French Expeditionary
<Minaplo> Force."]
<@Raphael> "… I see.
<@Raphael> "… I see." He says slowly. "Well, regardless of that, you still seem to have done an impressive job of proving yourself, ma'am. Regardless of the eccentricities of NERV staff, they make a point of only recruiting the best."
<Minaplo> [She nodded. "Thank you, sir."]
*Raphael waves his hand as he pulls into the parking lot of one of the plain, unassuming apartment buildings that seem to litter every part of Paris. Unique architecture had fallen by the wayside in a city that seemed to be rebuilt on a monthly basis.-
<@Raphael> "Here we are, Lieutenant. Did the Captain let you know your apartment number?"
<Minaplo> ["Yes, sir. Thank you for the escort."]
<@Raphael> "Not a problem, ma'am. Would you like a hand with your bag?"
<Minaplo> ["No sir, thank you. I can handle it." She gave him a nod, opening the door and stepping out.]
*Raphael follows a moment later, waiting until Cornelia had recovered her bags before locking the car and leading the way towards the foyer. Overall it seemed to be going better than he had expected. Perhaps Gosselin had been right after all…

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