Sera S Dilemma

[07:26] <Minaplo> ["Alright, de Pteres." Came Alex's voice. "You can enter the Plug now."-
[07:29] <Minaplo> [It had been some three days since the catastrophe in the desert, and Asgard Base had been working overtime. With limited connections to NERV's supply pool, they suddenly had to rebuild three Evangelions. Despite this, work was progressing surprisingly quickly. Admittedly, a good deal of this was due to the superior regenerative abilities of the damaged units they had.-
[07:30] <Minaplo> [EVA-01 had taken an absurd amount of damage, and at the present most of its body was completely unarmoured, except for its torso, shoulder pylons, head and upper arms. The Entry Plug was ready, however- and it was obvious that Asgard Base wanted to start testing as soon as possible.]
[07:33] <Sept> "You double-checked the limiter circuits, I'm sure? They might've gotten damaged when I tried to disable them."
[07:34] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, don't worry. You should've just yanked the cable out instead of screwing with the circuits, but plugsuit tech is designed to take a few scrapes."]
[07:35] <Sept> "Mm. Entering." Sera got settled inside the plug, scanning the insides for changes. "Ready," he announced.
[07:38] <Minaplo> [No changes on the inside.-
[07:38] <Minaplo> ["Alright. Beginning first stage connection. LCL inundation commencing.-
[07:39] <Minaplo> [As per usual, the LCL was pumped in, and flowed to the very top of the plug…-
[07:39] <Minaplo> ["Beginning second stage connection. Synchronizing nerve pulses, commencing."-
[07:39] <Minaplo> [There was a flash of light and 'signal static' as Sera's nervous system began to mesh with that of the creature around him.-
[07:40] <Minaplo> [… But barely a milisecond into the process, the static abruptly faded away- and all Sera saw was the interior of the plug. All he felt was his own body.-
[07:41] <Minaplo> ["That can't be right." Muttered Alex. "Synch ratio's barely breaching 0.5%."]
[07:42] <Sept> "Of- of course it's not right. I… don't blame you, the equipment isn't optimal down here. Mistakes happen."
[07:44] <Minaplo> ["There's nothing wrong with our equipment." Said Alex, a little more tersely than perhaps he should've. "We logged perfectly normal results for Zhang and Gabriel earlier… Ugh, better safe than sorry. Get out, we'll replace the Plug with a standard model and see where that gets us."-
[07:45] <Minaplo> [They replaced the plug, the plugsuit- nothing. They went through several different combinations of the two, over the course of three hours, to no appreciable change in result. They tried to recalibrate the MAGI system- and still the result didn't change.-
[07:45] <Minaplo> ["I'm sorry, Sera." Said Alex heavily. "I think at this point that we can decisively conclude that your synch ratio has completely bottomed out."]
[07:48] <Sept> "I don't understand. There's any number of reasons, but to do it so suddenly…"
[07:49] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I don't understand it either. Look, let's… Call it a day for now. Get out, have a shower, go get something to eat for dinner, and we'll try something else tomorrow. Get an early night's sleep or something."]
[07:52] <Sept> "I'll- I'll do that, but we should analyse the data from the Angel, too, compare it with Raphael's. This is how it began last time, too, see." Sera took a deep breath to try and calm himself, brain clearly grasping at straws now. "Try it, though. I'll… be back tomorrow. Seeyou."
[08:00] <Minaplo> ["Alright, de Pteres. See ya."-
[08:03] <Minaplo> [Behind him, EVA-01's eyes went dark, and the cage's lights were shut off.]
[08:08] * Sept sighed, wandering through the halls deep in thought, missing a turn more than once. He was headed for the apartments.
[08:18] <Yanmei> There was a chime from the far end of one of the hallways he happened to turn onto, and a set of elevator doors opened to reveal one Yanmei. She was dressed in a manner that was somewhat more "her" today. Stylish dark jeans, a delicate blue blouse, boots. -
[08:21] <Yanmei> She was frowning to herself, arms folded, eyebrows knit, and it was a second before she saw him and waved a hand in his direction, a small distracted smile replacing the darker expression. "Hey!"
[08:28] * Sept stopped from the sudden noise, taking a moment to really come to a conclusion regarding its intent. "Yanmei!" It wasn't much of a greeting - there was a sense of urgency to his voice, and he walked up to her, unable to resist the urge to glance behind his shoulder. "Something's up- wrong, even. One's not listening, the test was a complete bust..!"
[08:32] <Yanmei> "What test-" Memories from earlier that day hit hard. She drew the conclusion from that, his tone of voice, and still more creeping memories from another life. She hissed through her teeth, a pained noise, and shook her head. -
[08:33] <Yanmei> "The -synch test-? What do you mean it was a bust? You were synching just fine a few days ago?"
[08:38] <Sept> "Zero point five," he said, rubbing the forearm of his handless arm. "Think back to the fight, did you feel anything? If there's any way we could eliminate the possibility of being in an altered timeline…"
[08:41] * Yanmei shook her head again, watching the nervous gesture - and the arm it centered around - with a little apprehension of her own. "No. I dunno? I didn't feel anything the first time either, with that illusionary world."
[08:48] <Sept> "I'll look into it. And other than that, I might have become incompatible because of everything, or he's just refusing… Maybe he's had enough. They'd have to have Anselme go instead..!"
[08:55] <Yanmei> The elevator doors had closed behind her while they were talking. Now the quiet sound of approaching footsteps prompted Yanmei to step back towards it. "Here," she said firmly. "Let's go somewhere and talk about this."
[08:57] <Sept> "Right. Thanks. It's easier this way. Talking to someone else." Sera followed briskly at her side to await the elevator.
[09:02] <Yanmei> It would take a few minutes of walking after the elevator ride, but Yanmei soon led him to an office door. It was locked firmly, but a key handily solved that. -
[09:06] <Yanmei> Inside was an odd mix of comforts and professionalism. A light blue couch with several comfortable arm chairs for visitors. A wall-mounted screen that could have either been a tv or a computer monitor. There were shelves filled with books and one or two framed pictures. -
[09:07] <Yanmei> There was a kitchen area as well, which Yanmei headed over to promptly. "I think there might be beer here. Do you want one? Oh - please close the door, too."
[09:11] <Sept> "Mm," Sera shut the door, yanking the handle another time or two to make sure. "Yes, yes, please. Whose is this?"
[09:13] <Yanmei> "Captain Hyuga's. If there's one place on this base that isn't bugged, this would be it?" She returned with a lone can of inexpensive local beer and held it out to him.
[09:18] <Sept> "…I see. Reasonable assumption." Sera accepted the can with a mechanical hand, cracked it open and drank deeply. When he stopped, he took a few deep breaths and started to finally calm down. "I don't know what to tell you. It… could be anything."
[09:21] <Yanmei> "Like what?" Yanmei sank slowly into one of the chairs. "It's so abrupt? There might be something wrong with 01 itself."
[09:26] <Sept> "Alexandre was sure it wasn't a hardware problem, so it'd have to be with his soul. I mean, what if he finally had enough of my hesitation? Without 01, I have nothing to bargain with. Elisha can just wait for me to die while he indoctrinates the reserve pilot he -knows they have-, and his plan would still work."
[09:29] <Yanmei> "No it wouldn't. Look at the situation we're in? Our best shot against that Angel is with veteran pilots, not some new kid." She was frowning deeply now, again. "We have one more shot against it and that's it. If we fail, everything's over."
[09:34] <Sept> "What if, by ensuring defeat, he's making the Angel do the heavy lifting to reunite his fragments?"
[09:37] <Yanmei> "I… guess that's possible? But it feels off somehow."
[09:42] <Sept> "I agree it's not like him, I'm just guessing. Elisha would prefer to secure his victory more directly. But he wouldn't trust it to anyone he has no control over. That said… if there's something wrong with my AT field or his, some kind of erosion effect, what can we do?"
[09:48] <Yanmei> "Maybe permanent synchronization would help. If it was your field, that is." But she sounded unsure. "I doubt doing something like that would be easy or anything to take lightly."
[09:53] <Sept> "Oh, that's true, I think. It's a last resort. It's -something-." Sera took another sip of the beer, finishing the can. He looked at it for a moment before putting it down. "If it was just Joshua somehow interfering, we'd already be on our way to a solution. If I got shitfaced enough, my brain should run out of capacity to simulate him, eliminating that distraction, for a time."
[09:59] <Yanmei> "Is that how it works?" Yanmei looked curious. "So whenever you need a break from him you could just come here and drink until he's gone for a while."
[10:08] <Sept> "I've been tempted. But I know my AT field reads the same as ever, so… I know he's not real in that respect. Your brain just gets too proficient at lying for its own good, after a time. But you know what they say about glass houses." Sera turned to face another chair, raising his voice and elaborating with histrionic hand motions. "'Oh, Joshua, your opinion means nothing, you're just a
[10:08] <Sept> fragment, a construct, you're not a real boy!'"
[10:09] <Minaplo> ["Much could be said for you, Sera de Pteres."-
[10:09] <Minaplo> [Neither of them had heard the door opening. And yet it had.-
[10:11] <Minaplo> ["And so to see you here, opining about unit rejection and psychological nonsense is unsurprising, even as you overlook obvious possible answers to your problems."-
[10:13] <Minaplo> [Standing in the doorway, wearing a black turtleneck sweater, long grey trousers, leather shoes and a dark blue coat-
[10:14] <Minaplo> [Was Gendo Ikari. His skin was much paler these days, and waxy, and unhealthy; and his eyes were lined with deep dark bags. His beard looked scraggly and thin, as though he had shaven it off and then had neglected to trim it as it grew back. But he was still standing tall, and his voice hadn't changed a bit.]
[10:18] * Sept glanced behind him toward the doorway, eyes widening – he glanced at Yanmei, back toward the door, and at Yanmei again, with the most neutral expression he could manage, one hand fiddling with the empty beer can.
[10:20] * Yanmei was on her feet before the voice fully registered. Now she simply stared, wrestling with shock and confusion. "C-Commander," she managed finally. A long pause followed as she carefully worked out what to say next. "I see you're not actually dead. Would you care for a seat?"
[10:24] <Sept> With that, Sera dared take a longer look at the man, a plethora of different emotions fighting for dominance.
[10:26] <Minaplo> ["Optimism, Zhang. You look on a dead man." Said Gendo curtly. He crossed the room and took a can of beer from Hyuga's fridge, before sitting down on one of the chairs- one opposite both of them.-
[10:27] <Minaplo> ["I died the day I was shot by the Spectre, and I am dead now." He pulled open the tab and took a long draught from the can- his hands were covered in black leather gloves.]
[10:31] * Yanmei looked as though she'd be more comfortable pacing around the room than sitting back down, but she did so anyway. "I… see. To what do we owe the pleasure of this visit from beyond the grave, then?"
[10:32] * Sept kept his mouth shut, still lost by the sudden pace of things.
[10:42] <Minaplo> [He put the beer down, and folded his hands together, partially obscuring his mouth.-
[10:45] <Minaplo> ["Things are irreversibly, swiftly moving toward the climax. It no longer pays for me to hide myself from certain people, yourselves included. I am here to do what I have always done- ensure that you and others like you do not break the world with your fumblings."-
[10:45] <Minaplo> [He reached into his coat and threw a newspaper down on the table. A large picture was on the front of the UN Human Instrumentality Committee, with the headline HEAD OF HIC RESPONDS TO ANGEL ATTACK.-
[10:46] <Minaplo> ["Caine has granted you both temporary amnesty in light of Michael's attack. That is the first thing."]
[10:47] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyes narrowed as she stared down at the photo. She said nothing.
[10:49] <Sept> "Mmh." Sera was unimpressed so far. "She's moving into the open?"
[10:52] <Minaplo> ["Yes. This 'amnesty' is a trap. She is using it because I think Michael took her off-guard. But now she realises she can throw NERV units at him, wiping Michael out and crushing most of NERV's power at the same time. If Michael is defeated, she will immediately move to capture you both- and everyone else."]
[10:57] <Yanmei> "So we plan some counter-attack? Or we sit in this base and do nothing, forcing her to use her own resources in subduing the Angel. Like those Dysangelions…"
[10:58] <Minaplo> [Ikari didn't respond, instead glancing toward Sera to see his response.]
[10:59] * Sept mulled this over for a while. "Dysangelion backup wouldn't hurt either way. Michael was strong enough already."
[11:00] <Minaplo> ["How would you force her, then?"]
[11:03] <Sept> "-If- negotiations don't work, we can throw all those expendable NERV resources away before an attack."
[11:05] <Minaplo> [Ikari looked back at Yanmei to see her reaction.]
[11:10] <Yanmei> "Negotiations?" Yanmei frowned deeply. "Don't you think that's a waste of time at this point? Better to just reject the offer outright. The only problem is that the public will hate us for it? And it may put the lives of the remaining pilots at risk."
[11:11] <Minaplo> [Ikari smirked.]
[11:13] <Sept> "Hate us? For sending their parents and siblings and children home? For telling them they don't have to die for nothing in -our- pointless conflict..?!"
[11:15] <Minaplo> [Ikari's eyes flicked back towards Yanmei.]
[11:17] <Yanmei> "They'll hate us for not cooperating with Caine in what appears to be a reasonable effort to consolidate humanity's firepower against a threat," she said calmly. She reached over and tapped the newspaper. "Why do you think this news is being broadcast openly like this?" -
[11:21] <Yanmei> "Either she turns the world against us, or the world pressures us into working with her. She wins public support either way? That was probably her plan. That's what I'm referring to."
[11:23] <Minaplo> ["Your bugbears are showing."]
[11:25] <Sept> "I… think they're better than that, Yanmei. We can try and give them something closer to the truth, for once."
[11:27] <Minaplo> ["Your bugbears are showing as well."]
[11:28] <Yanmei> "Our…? Excuse me?" she eyed Ikari, carefully arranging her face into a neutral expression.
[11:29] <Minaplo> ["You care too much for something as meaningless as public opinion." Said Ikari curtly. He turned to Sera. "And you don't seem to grasp Caine's intent."-
[11:31] <Minaplo> ["She won't negotiate. Negotiations require compromise and conquest requires nothing. And she cares nothing for NERV's so-called 'expendable' resources. Her -goal- is for NERV to expend so many of its Evangelion units fighting Michael that NERV cannot resist her. And for -that- to occur, all she needs to do is sit back and do nothing."]
[11:34] <Yanmei> Meaningless?! Yanmei held her tongue, keeping her face carefully in check.
[11:35] <Sept> "..yes, that makes sense," Sera said, tiredly.
[11:35] <Minaplo> [Ikari nodded, but declined to speak, simply eyeing the two of them.]
[11:38] <Yanmei> "If we withold our Evas, it would theoretically force her to act instead? The resulting loss would even the playing field. But that turns this situation into a very dangerous game of chicken."
[11:43] <Sept> "I guess between you two and Aline, that would be all you need to ensure nearly all of NERV's pilots stay still. Blackmail will remain a possibility."
[11:46] <Minaplo> ["Stay still? More likely flee." Murmured Ikari. "When Michael attacks Paris-2, staying still will help NERV not at all…"]
[11:48] <Yanmei> "Very true. There's no way that we can 'abduct' all of the pilots beforehand, is there?" Yanmei was frowning slightly again. "Caine could, possibly, force some of them or their commanding officers to act as she sees fit."
[11:49] <Minaplo> ["And once Michael enters Terminal Dogma and consumes Lilith I suppose the question will be moot anyway…" He muttered.]
[11:55] <Yanmei> "Commander~? Do you have a less risky plan in mind? Feel free to share." she flourished a hand politely in Gendo's direction.
[11:56] <Sept> "Yes. But didn't -you- manage to hide Tsubaki and several of the Units for a time? Hiding wounded pilots and equipment away would leave Dogma relatively defenseless, but still leave you with a force to maneuver with."
[12:02] <Minaplo> ["Finally." Muttered Gendo.-
[12:06] <Minaplo> ["Yes. To both." He turned to Sera. "Your idea is a good one, and since I refuse to risk Tsubaki on the front line, it will be her duty to do exactly this. It allows NERV to fulfill its role without risking being finished off in a single blow. It does allow Caine mostly unfettered access to Lilith's body, but that might be an acceptable gambit at this juncture."-
[12:07] <Minaplo> [He turned back to Yanmei. "As to your question, I was considering simply attacking the Dysangelions with Zeruel and seeing how that worked."]
[12:10] <Sept> "Based on its earlier performance, I think the Dys pilots would easily match up to it. It would certainly tie them up for a minute or two."
[12:11] <Minaplo> [Ikari didn't respond to that, but simply glanced towards Sera.]
[12:14] <Sept> "With Joan off hunting Yanmei and Tsubaki coming to aid Zeruel halfway through – don't you agree?"
[12:15] * Yanmei looked vaguely uneasy at the mention of that thing. She glanced between the two of them, hardly a judge on the mysterious 'friendly Angel' and its capabilities.
[12:19] <Minaplo> ["I do not." Said Ikari eventually. "Although you typically underestimate Angels, so I am once again unsurprised by your opinion."]
[12:21] * Sept looked to the side sullenly. "Your Angel, your call."
[07:56] <Minaplo> ["In that case, you will be on hand to lead me to some of Caine's hidden resources and bases, which she no doubt possesses." Said Gendo coolly.]
[07:59] <Sept> "-Unlikely-," he said slowly and with emphasis, looking back at him.
[08:00] <Minaplo> ["You will do it. You were quick to allow them to devastate one of my bases, and you will repay me for my loss- or you can languish as you are now, trapped within a meaningless bracket of synchronization until doomsday claims you."]
[08:03] <Sept> "…and when you deem me unworthy again, we'll be back in square one? I might as well retire now."
[08:05] <Minaplo> ["Again? You are always unworthy in my eyes. The only thing that changes is if you are useful, and if you cannot be useful to me, you will be useful to no one."]
[08:11] * Sept stayed quiet for a while longer. "I won't do it," he repeated, less forcefully.
[08:12] <Minaplo> ["So you value your loyalty to that woman more than you desire to pilot." Gendot turned to Yanmei. "I think that says more than I could, Zhang."]
[08:12] <Minaplo> <Gendo*>
[08:16] <Yanmei> "It does. Although, probably not in the way you'd expect?" She was glaring at them -both- now in flat disappointment.
[08:16] <Sept> "You of all people, painting it in black and white. I know where that path leads. It is unsustainable for me."-
[08:16] <Sept> "I just want to live."
[08:19] <Minaplo> ["Then leave."]
[08:26] * Sept pushed his chair back and stood up, hands on the table. His expression was surprisingly neutral. "What do I have, a few weeks, months, before it's time to kill me?"
[08:27] <Minaplo> [Gendo turns his gaze back to Yanmei. "What would you say to that, Zhang? Does he have a right to fear death from a dead man?"]
[08:32] * Yanmei shifted a wary glance back in Gendo's direction. "I would?" she said simply. "If I was in his position. But what does Mary Caine intend to do differently, de Pteres?"
[08:32] <Minaplo> [Ikari folded his hands together and waited for Sera's response.]
[08:43] * Sept glanced at each of them, gaze settling somewhere between them. "You're asking me to take part in his campaign, to bear responsibility for the Exarch's decisions for eternity. To pick a side in a conflict I don't agree with."-
[08:44] <Sept> "I'd rather betray everyone than choose who of them has to die."
[08:47] <Minaplo> [Ikari's eyes swept towards Yanmei now. He remained silent.]
[08:51] <Yanmei> "So you plan to just stay neutral during the entire affair?" She searched him carefully with her eyes. "Even under the most despicable coercion tactics?"
[09:00] * Sept hesitated. "Can I promise that..? She'll try to recover 01 if it's unmanned, and if I pilot again, he can whisper to me. I'm not sure if I can…" He looked up at her again. "Is that what you want?"
[09:01] <Minaplo> ["It is best not to answer that, Zhang. Not yet."]
[09:02] * Yanmei had, in fact, opened her mouth to reply, and now found herself responding to a different person instead. "What do you mean?"
[09:05] <Minaplo> ["Trust me or not, I do not care. But if you make this decision without being aware of your own direction, then you will inexorably make a mistake. And the mistakes of the people in this room have the power to doom humanity- and more."]
[09:09] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei exhaled slowly. "It's not like I was looking for a pledge or a promise to begin with? Just some insight." -
[09:13] <Yanmei> "In any case, if you can do something for his synch ratio, I think you had better do it? I don't think you can convince him to do anything this way."
[09:14] <Minaplo> [Ikari's left eyebrow rose. Just a little. Maybe half a centimetre.-
[09:14] <Minaplo> ["Why do you want to live, de Pteres?"]
[09:26] <Sept> A long pause. "If… If the world is ending, this'll be the last chance we get. If it's my duty to return to Elisha, it's the only chance to do so without the disgusting parts of him. Either way, I've never seen a better time to do more than just stay alive."
[09:33] <Minaplo> ["Elisha Caine had many disagreeable traits."-
[09:41] <Minaplo> ["But his hope for humanity was not one of them. He worked hard and works still to ensure the world does not end. You are part of his plans, yes. You had a hand in creating them, yes- this is true as well. But his plans- your plans- do not end with your death. If there is one thing that is true for both you and Elisha Caine, it is that death is but a temporary obstacle to your will."-
[09:41] <Minaplo> ["If you wish to leave, then you may do so. I will not stop you, and I will not hunt you or kill you."-
[09:41] <Minaplo> ["But consider, if you will, that perhaps the Evangelion is not at fault for the result today. Perhaps it is not a case of the Eva rejecting the pilot. Perhaps here, it is the pilot rejecting the Eva."]
[09:51] * Sept was still standing, but he was clearly not the one with power in the conversation. "I didn't ignore that! If it's my hesitation and mistrust that are the obstacle, what am I supposed to do? What kind of proof can anyone give me?"
[09:52] <Minaplo> [Ikari's eyes turned to Zhang.]
[10:06] * Yanmei very nearly scowled back. "I think it's fine not to trust anyone so long as you have a clear goal of your own in mind. With that set, you can see who matches up to it, and who doesn't, and who to convert to your cause and who to disregard." -
[10:14] <Yanmei> "So, maybe the key is looking at what you want and how you're striving to solidify those plans. If Elisha ended up in the 'disregarded' catagory, then…" she shrugged.
[10:14] <Minaplo> ["Maybe. Maybe not."-
[10:14] <Minaplo> ["Or perhaps there are no proofs for you to be satisfied with, and your only recourse, Sera de Pteres, is to have faith in your god."]
[10:26] <Sept> "Fuck you. Whatever faith I had in him was gone when he had his slave kill me, and when he sent me after an ally's life pointlessly."
[10:30] <Minaplo> ["Kill you. Truly a travesty, to be forced to feel how he feels, to experience what he felt, to find yourself lost in the aftermath." Muttered Ikari, before turning his gaze back to Yanmei.]
[10:34] <Yanmei> "If you expect me to say 'you should forgive him,' I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed?"
[10:35] <Minaplo> ["I am always disappointed when it comes to you people."-
[10:36] <Minaplo> ["But that is not what I wanted from you, no. Have you forgiven him, Zhang?"]
[10:38] <Yanmei> "I have. But I would not expect, say, Isaiah to. It took many years to get to that point, and a lot of thinking."
[10:39] <Minaplo> ["I am not expecting forgiveness from that one, either."-
[10:39] <Minaplo> ["But do you trust him?"]
[10:42] <Yanmei> "I feel as if I understand him better," she said carefully. "Which is why I know to trust him on some things and not at all on others?"
[10:45] <Minaplo> ["Like what?"]
[10:54] <Yanmei> "I feel a certain attachment from him. I doubt he would try to seriously harm me or Lizzie, and I feel like he genuinely wants to protect me. Among other things, his attack on Isaiah was justified with something like that, and I think there's a kernel of truth to it?" -
[10:59] <Yanmei> "But there are lots of other things about the big picture that I was kept in the dark about out of necessity. And even though he talks an awful lot, if he thought I would find some compenent of it distressing - like, to the point that it would jeopardize his plans - I doubt he'd clue me in on it until he had absolutely no choice."
[11:00] <Minaplo> [He nodded, a brief jerk of the head.-
[11:00] <Minaplo> ["And do you understand him, Sera de Pteres?"]
[11:01] <Sept> "Sometimes," he admitted.
[11:02] <Minaplo> ["And I suppose if I asked Blanc, she too would understand him- sometimes."-
[11:03] <Minaplo> ["And do you understand de Pteres, Zhang?"]
[11:04] <Yanmei> "Yes, sometimes."
[11:05] <Minaplo> ["Perhaps all together, the three of you would understand enough of him to form a complete picture. Perhaps not."-
[11:06] <Minaplo> ["But enough of this line." Ikari grabbed the can of beer and took another deep draught.-
[11:07] <Minaplo> ["De Pteres, either leave or sit down, do not hover so. If you care to stay, then I will answer whatever questions the pair of you might have- or else I will simply listen to the two of you."]
[11:14] * Sept sat back down, finally, leaning back with arms crossed on his lap. "This," he motioned to Gendo. "is all part of his original plan? Or the plan of you two, I suppose?"
[11:14] <Minaplo> ["Asgard Base?"]
[11:15] <Sept> "Vercingetorix."
[11:20] <Minaplo> ["Not exactly. It is a very broad interpretation of the intent of the original plan, we will say. We definitely never intended to create some kind of resistance movement. It was done because I wished to counter Mary Caine's influence."]
[11:25] <Yanmei> "Because more subtle subversions are no longer possible?" Yanmei guessed. "She was planning to crush NERV as soon as it served its purpose in her eyes. Maybe even before then…"
[11:26] <Minaplo> ["Yes. Couple that with Caine's intent to kill me…"]
[11:28] <Yanmei> "Using the Spectre, correct?" Yanmei's voice stiffened slightly.
[11:29] <Minaplo> ["So it seemed."]
[11:30] <Yanmei> "Afterward she spent a lot of time protecting us in Paris-2? Any idea why?"
[11:32] <Minaplo> ["For the same reason Caine did not seek to kill you the instant you fell into her hands. The pilots of Paris-2 have a use- and so the Spectre, I presume, was placed there to ensure that these tools were not damaged- or destroyed. I suspect that is why the Spectre spent so much time slaughtering Paris-2's criminals…"]
[11:33] <Yanmei> "Well, yes. But I was asking if you had any idea what that purpose was?"
[11:34] <Minaplo> ["I have- theories."]
[11:35] * Yanmei nodded expectantly.
[11:35] <Minaplo> [Gendo glanced towards Sera, giving him the opportunity to input anything into here.]
[11:38] <Sept> "I've got nothing on the Spectre. Yanmei's the one with anything besides combat experience with her."
[11:45] <Yanmei> "Actually, I was wondering what Caine was planning to do? The Spectre, she just seems to follow the orders given to her."
[11:59] * Sept shrugged. "The Angels are still in the way. Isn't that enough?"
[12:00] <Minaplo> ["Intentional ignorance on your part. That you give faith to Mary and deny it to Elisha is selfish at best."-
[12:01] <Minaplo> [Ikari turned to face both of them. "You are, overall, not -needed- to defeat the Angels. Your defeating the Angels is a prerequisite to other things, perhaps- and Caine knows that if she wants to reshape the world to her ideal, she will need 00, 01 and 04."]
[12:08] * Yanmei nodded slowly. Her eyes had narrowed somewhat.
[12:13] <Minaplo> [Ikari remained silent for the present.]
[12:14] <Sept> As did Sept, arms crossed, staring into the distance, looking slightly bored now.
[12:17] <Yanmei> "But having us in good health isn't enough? She wants control as well." She hesitated. "That psychoactive drug from before… when she visited the Geofront's brig. That was from your people, wasn't it?"
[12:19] <Minaplo> ["The one you gave to de Pteres, to help protect him from Caine's conditioning? Yes. I gave the same drug to Liu Lin."]
[12:22] <Yanmei> "But not Commander Hohenzollern. And no such drug reached me after my capture. How are you accurately predicting who will be conditioned? Is there some pattern?"
[12:23] <Minaplo> ["Well." Ikari's voice was thick with sarcasm.-
[12:24] <Minaplo> ["I suppose I could have jaunted into your cell in the Synfront and shoved the drug into your hands, I am sure that would've gone swimmingly."-
[12:26] <Minaplo> ["De Pteres and Lin had the drug before they arrived at the Synfront, mainly because I knew they would be going there. Was I expecting your Eva units to go to the Synfront and be attacked by a completely new unit? I am not omniscient."-
[12:27] <Minaplo> ["If you expect me to hand out psychoactive drugs to someone like Hohenzollern, you're sadly mistaken." Said Ikari darkly. "… Ultimately, once you -were- captured I had no idea what was going to happen to you. I suspected she wouldn't try to condition you, because your status as possessing a Libido bond makes it difficult to do such mundane things to you."]
[12:33] * ZackSleep is now known as Zack
[12:33] <Yanmei> "Is that so? It's the first time I've had -that- detail drawn to my attention." Yanmei absently tossed her hair. "And Hohenzollern is what to you, exactly~?"
[12:35] <Minaplo> ["One not to be trusted- less because she is a threat, and more because she is a fool."]
[21:34] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
[21:38] <Sept> "I don't know what her game is, but it's not difficult to hit a nerve on her."
[21:41] <Minaplo> ["Mm." Said Ikari, nodding in agreement with de Pteres. "She bears deep grudges, and she can be overly emotional, but simply put she is too easy to manipulate and control. She may think herself to be the equal of Fontaine, Caine or myself, but she is really very similar to Meir… Both are fools."]
[21:45] <Yanmei> "Hmm." For a few moments, Yanmei went quietly thoughtful about something.
[21:48] <Minaplo> [Ikari was satisfied to simply drain his beer. He promptly went into the kitchen and began to ferret about in the refrigerator and pantry, gathering a collection of objects- cheese, several types of meats, pickles and garnishes, sauces, and several slices of soft white bread- and began to make himself a pair of sandwiches.]
[21:53] * Sept tracked his movements carefully. "How far do you intend to take this? At what point is Elisha the only one who understands what's coming next?"
[21:55] <Minaplo> [Ikari put his food on a plate, grabbed another beer and carried it over to the table. He ignored the question for a few slow mouthfuls.-
[21:56] <Minaplo> ["A difficult question. Needless to say that right now, there are several people who understand what is coming next- and there are no people who understand what is coming next. Elisha will be the only one who understands the moment he is utterly victorious- and not a moment beforr or after."]
[22:00] * Yanmei seemed to be drawn out of herself as the conversation picked up again. "So all we really have are our immediate goals: defeat the Angels and Caine. Correct?"
[22:02] <Minaplo> [Ikari hesitated.-
[22:03] <Minaplo> ["… Yes, that is correct, although the possibility of us achieving either goal is suspsect… There is more - detail- to it, but the fundamentals are as such."]
[22:09] <Yanmei> "Could you please elaborate on those details?"
[22:10] <Minaplo> [Ikari took several more bites of his sandwich, washed down with beer. He was ready to respond, of course- he was waiting to see if de Pteres would interject or not.]
[22:12] <Sept> "Aside from not being defeated in the process. There's more than enough ways to assure mutual destruction here."
[22:16] <Minaplo> ["You are not wrong."-
[22:26] <Minaplo> [Ikari turned to look at them both, now. "Understand that this is a war, not a new one, nor one brewing on the horizon- it is a war that has been raging for at least 18 years, or longer. It is not entirely a physical war nor a spiritual one. In some ways, it is like a game of chess: there are multiple layers of advantages, including that of mere men and machines or control of land, but beyond that as well- shifting initiatives, and the intent to develop their forces so as to prepare for the final single act that will bring the board to a close. Sacrifices- yes, of millions or ten millions of men, or even entire countries- are considered acceptable in order to achieve a greater victory. Ultimately, it is a war in which one side can rule the world and wield the greatest army in history- and still lose if the other side has all its pieces in the right place."-
[22:27] <Minaplo> ["But more than this, it is different from other wars. It is not a war to control land or to overthrow governments or seize resources. This is a greater war, a war of ideals, where the strongest vision will be victorious divorced of all else. And the prize of this war is nothing less than the fate and souls of all humanity- and perhaps even that of the stars themselves."-
[22:28] <Minaplo> ["Do you understand what I am saying?"]
[22:34] <Sept> "Yes," Sera answered in a less-than-attentive tone. "The most perfect preparations only convey the slightest advantage over the actual conflict. But with absolute power on the line, that advantage is worth anything and everything." He looked down at his nails, swearing in French to himself.
[22:36] * Yanmei simply nodded along. Her demeanor had shifted to something more morose now.
[22:37] <Minaplo> ["Mmm… That is one part of it."-
[22:39] <Minaplo> ["Let me offer a different question. Imagine if none of the key players existed. Imagine if the Caine family died at the hands of the Nazis eighty years ago- and so never found the Dead Sea Scrolls. Imagine that Doctor Katsuragi never went to Antarctica, never discovered Adam, never unleashed the Angels. Imagine I died in a brawl in my high school days- and so never introduced Elisha Caine to Katsuragi, or that Caine never met Ginevre Fontaine."-
[22:41] <Minaplo> ["Would this war have started without them? Would we be dealing with Angels? Evangelions? Or would humanity keep trundling along in the same way, going through ebbs and flows, with nothing more to trouble its sleep than society's pressures and economic woes?"]
[22:45] <Sept> "I don't know. Wouldn't the Angels have found this world either way?"
[22:45] <Minaplo> [Ikari didn't answer immediately, instead waiting for Yanmei's response first.]
[22:48] <Yanmei> "Maybe eventually? Maybe hundreds or thousands of years in the future something would happen. Someone else might find Adam or Lilith might wake up. Presently, in that alternate timeline, things would probably still be pretty mundane."
[22:49] <Minaplo> ["Mmm. No, that is incorrect. To say that is to ignore what I had hoped you would learn."-
[22:50] <Minaplo> ["The Angels, of course, were born here, released onto the world due to the awakening of Adam. Theoretically, if you stopped Adam's awakening, one would stop the Angels before they even began."-
[22:51] <Minaplo> ["But it is not a matter of chance or some collection of happy coincidences. Some years ago you both came to me in my office, and I both asked you a question you could not answer. I asked- Why do you pilot Eva?"-
[22:51] <Minaplo> ["And what was the answer I eventually provided for both of you?"]
[22:56] <Yanmei> "'It's your destiny,'" Yanmei mumbled, with a faint air of irritation.
[22:58] * Sept didn't seem to recall that especially fondly, either.
[23:00] <Minaplo> ["Yes. It was your destiny to pilot Eva, as it was Elisha Caine's destiny to discover Lilith, sleeping beneath the disturbed plains of the Île-de-France. Just as it was Katsuragi's destiny to discover Adam- and the Lance of Longinus, and Lilith's essence- beneath the frozen stone of Antarctica."-
[23:05] <Minaplo> ["So ultimately, it does not matter if all the key players of this game were dead- there would be others to fulfil the same role. Lilith intended to be found at this time, just as she intended for someone to awake Adam. Yes, it is confronting, but it is the truth. For Lilith's powers were weak due to her state- but more than powerful enough to shape the development of our species, our civilizations, to this one single point. And that is where the perspective must shift. It is more than just Elisha versus Mary, or even NERV versus the Angels. It is nothing less than a battle of wills- on one side, the machinations of the creator being, Lilith; on the other, the hopes and dreams of our deeply flawed species, fighting and striving for freedom."]
[23:11] <Sept> "All of these plans have planned to overthrow her from the beginning. Even if the Angels, LN and whatever have been the priority objectives, we haven't forgotten about that."
[23:12] <Minaplo> ["Incorrect."-
[23:14] <Minaplo> ["Only one plan was designed to cast down Destiny, to remove Lilith's mask of dominion and see it worn by none- Elisha Caine's plan. Do you think Mary desires to free humanity from Destiny?"]
[23:17] <Sept> "Overthrow, not end," Sera said irritatedly.
[23:19] <Minaplo> ["So you admit that Caine intends to replace Lilith, not free humanity."]
[23:21] <Sept> "…"-
[23:21] <Sept> "Sure. I'm not going to insult you by saying otherwise. You know her."
[23:23] <Yanmei> Yanmei's expression had soured slightly, but she stayed quiet.
[23:23] <Minaplo> ["You seem to know somewhat more of her plans than you do of Elisha's, it seems. By all means, enlighten us. Allow us to see her perspective."]
[23:28] <Sept> "No use."
[23:30] <Yanmei> "How so?"
[23:31] <Minaplo> [Ikari finished his first sandwich and allowed for this interlude to play out.]
[23:38] <Sept> "There's nothing for you to gain from her perspective. I couldn't convince you of anything. She's just as much family as Elisha. Her plans for this world, -and- her methods are," Pause as he searched for the words. "-utterly- morally irredeemable. And she's the one holding the cards. Her resources and data are limitless. The Dysangelions are -better than us-."
[23:39] <Minaplo> [Ikari remained silent.]
[23:45] <Yanmei> "Implying that we can't really win isn't going to do much to deter us from fighting her," said Yanmei slowly. "Or from wanting to know the ideals we're really fighting against."
[23:47] <Minaplo> [Ikari went to work on his second sandwich, starting with a small bite on each corner, then on each of the remaining four edges, counter-clockwise in a methodical pattern. Yanmei would find the gesture strikingly familiar- it was the same way Rei ate her sandwiches, too, strangely enough.]
[23:54] <Yanmei> "…" She tried not to stare. This was easy, as there was still a very important conversation going on.
[23:57] * Sept hesitated. "You're making this difficult for me. I don't report all of Elisha's thoughts to her lieutenants, do I?"-
[23:57] <Sept> A pause. "I don't," he clarified.
[00:00] <Minaplo> [Ikari swallowed. "I am not the one making this difficult." He muttered. "I am trying to fight to see Elisha's ideal realised, not because it is his ideal, but because the ideal itself is noble- to end Destiny, to give humanity its freedom, to allow it to be -more-
than just a resource for a greater power."-
[00:01] <Minaplo> ["If you do not believe that is worth pursuing, then yes, I can see how that would make such things difficult- but it would be you making it difficult, not I."]
[00:15] * Sept looked away from them, eyes narrowed and downcast, thinking. After a few moments, he got up to find another drink in the fridge. Returning with it, he sat down again. "Eden Base, then. That's the simplest path for her."
[00:16] <Yanmei> "Eden? You mean the Gastalt Consciousness?"
[00:17] <Minaplo> [Ikari waited for Sera to respond to Yanmei first, for now content to work on his sandwich.]
[00:20] <Sept> "That's what I said," Sera said, cracking the can open and getting started on it. "If you controlled the creators, you could easily make the Evangelion into flawless arks."
[00:23] <Minaplo> ["Arks holding all of humanity." Murmured Ikari. "In an endless, unceasing mass. No pain, no suffering- no barriers between individuals. No secrets. Everyone would know intimately everyone else."]
[00:26] <Yanmei> "And she and the rest of the Human Instrumentality Committee would preside over those arks instead of joining the rest of humanity." Yanmei sighed. "Yeah. I've heard that story before?"
[00:27] <Minaplo> ["Mmm."]
[00:32] <Yanmei> "But why? Why do this? The idea originated with her dad, so shouldn't it have died with him?"
[00:32] <Minaplo> [Ikari let out a dubious snort.]
[00:34] <Yanmei> "I meant that she had no obligation to carry it on, right? Not that… he would stay dead… or anything." She cleared her throat in a desperate bid to come off as less lame than she felt.
[00:35] <Minaplo> ["Mary does not follow this idea because it is her father's idea. She follows it because she believes the idea has merit." Said Ikari. "Ideas routinely outlive their creators…"]
[00:37] * Sept laughed a bit at that. "Yes, that. She practically inherited the Drive, as well. So it was clear she wouldn't share Jeremiah's fate and this was something she could accomplish in her lifetime."
[00:39] <Minaplo> ["And what ideal drives this? Is it aversion to pain? A want to alleviate humanity's suffering? Or is it control?"]
[00:53] * Yanmei raised an eyebrow at that, before glancing over at Sera again
[00:55] <Sept> "I think she's tired of this world being indifferent. Of course she wants control, and… She wants humanity to be the best it possibly can. Better than the FAR, at least."
[00:56] <Minaplo> [It is at this point that Ikari chokes on his sandwich.-
[00:59] <Minaplo> [It takes him a minute of coughing and spluttering before the blockage in his throat becomes dislodged. He washes it down properly this time with beer, and then turns to stare at Sera with a face unusually full of emotion- incredulity. Angry amusement. Disgust.-
[01:00] <Minaplo> ["Better than the FAR! Now that is hubris. And it is madness. Caine is an imbecile for even thinking it possible with her hands."]
[01:02] * Sept took a long sip of his beer in the meantime. "I wouldn't know."
[01:03] <Minaplo> ["You would. Perhaps."-
[01:07] <Minaplo> ["Let us avoid that avenue of disappointment, however. I think, ultimately, you are right. I don't think she wants to end suffering or pain." Ikari folded his hands together again. "Mary Caine once said something to me- she said that the weak, the ones who ran from life's challenges, the ones who backed away, withdrew- these deserved… Oblivion."-
[01:09] <Minaplo> ["Nevertheless, this was a necessary diversion but no less a diversion for that. There is still the issue of the fight against Destiny- and Elisha's plans to enact this victory."]
[01:11] <Yanmei> "He's supposedly planning to change everyone's AT Fields," Yanmei muttered, drumming her fingers on the arm of her chair.
[01:13] <Minaplo> [Ikari waited again for Sera's input, taking the chance to finish the sandwich.]
[01:14] <Sept> "A reasonably strong AT field should be essential to overcoming Destiny, yes."
[01:16] <Minaplo> ["That is one element. A strong AT Field… If I had to draw an example, imagine everyone possessing the abilities of, say, an Ayanami. Not the monstrous power of an Angel- but more than enough to resist Low Destiny's threats of famine, disease, and Gaia's fury."]
[01:19] <Yanmei> "In doing this, he would also ruin Mary Caine's plans, obviously. She's made some guesses about what he's up to."
[01:19] <Minaplo> ["Speak."]
[01:22] <Yanmei> "She says that he's using EVA-00 specifically to ascend to Lilith's level and to become a new Seed for humanity. That would allow him to transform everyone?"
[01:23] <Minaplo> [Ikari mulled the question.-
[01:32] <Minaplo> ["No, I do not believe he intends to use EVA-00 to become a Seed. It is good intuition, but it is a 'near-miss'. EVA-00 is necessary, and he could use EVA-00 to transform humanity, but he needs EVA-01 and EVA-04 to achieve his true goal. I believe his plan is to use EVA-00 to merge with Lilith, and use EVA-04 to merge with Adam, whilst EVA-01 merges with humanity. As the component pieces emerge together, Elisha is reunified into a single being with the power of Lilith, the power of Adam- and the will of humanity in him. He will be a being equal in power to the mightiest of the First Ancestral Race- a true godlike being. This is because only a being more truly powerful than Lilith can sever her ties to humanity. Once this is done, then he will- diminish. He will divide into three parts- Lilith, Adam, and the Human Seed. Lilith and Adam will be sent out to follow their own fates, rebuild on new worlds- and Elisha, as the Human Seed, will doom himself to be a sleeping god, unable, perhaps, to assist humanity beyond what he already has- but giving them true free will at last."]
[01:37] * Yanmei went rigid, her blood running ice cold. She stared at Gendo, and then eventually tore her gaze away, searching for her composure somewhere on the office's carpet.
[01:40] <Sept> "That sounds about right. His version would include a fair few more titles and drama, but… Yanmei?" Sera reached for his can, nearly empty again.
[01:43] <Yanmei> "Ah?" Her head jerked up. "What? Yes?"
[01:46] * Sept examined her for a few moments before frowning. "Didn't you know about this?"
[01:48] <Yanmei> "Of… of -course- I did! Heh. Heh heh…" She nodded firmly, folding her arms. "I mean, who doesn't know? Old news and all that…"
[01:50] <Minaplo> ["If you have questions, now is the time to ask them."]
[01:54] <Sept> "For fuck's sake, Elisha… I'm sorry, I should've been clear with you on that possibility, too."
[01:59] <Yanmei> "No, that's- I mean, I already knew, okay?" She could already feel it… the heat swelling up on her face. She tried to will it away, clapping her hands briskly. "Questions, questions, let's see… Um. The other Evas? What happens to them afterwards?"
[01:59] <Minaplo> [Ikari smiled darkly.-
[02:02] <Minaplo> ["The Master Models will certainly be rendered inert. The souls of the Master units are the same souls of their pilots, divided- one half to the unit, one to the pilot. The souls in question came from the 'Disciples', the twelve honour guards of Lilith that you saw in Terminal Dogma. With the ascension of the Solemn Exarch, their souls will be reunified- their ancient bodies destroyed, finally allowing them the freedom to live proper lives."-
[02:03] <Minaplo> ["As for the other models? They may remain Evangelions…"-
[02:03] <Minaplo> ["… Or they may be allowed to pass on and reincarnate…"-
[02:04] <Minaplo> ["Or, as their souls still hum with memories and identities of their lives before the Eva, they may be allowed to be- restored as they were."-
[02:04] <Minaplo> [A sorrowful shadow crossed Gendo Ikari's face at this. "Even my Rei."]
[02:11] <Yanmei> "…" So that was it. Yanmei absently ran her hand through her hair, glancing briefly away as f giving the man a moment of privacy. But that ended soon. "The decision of how they'll return is up to them, though?"
[02:11] <Minaplo> ["I believe so. It is… Their freedom."]
[02:12] <Yanmei> "I see."
[02:14] <Minaplo> ["Any other questions?"]
[02:16] <Yanmei> "The Eternity Drive… he'll destroy it, right? Or is that up to us?"
[02:18] <Minaplo> ["The Eternity Drive has to be destroyed. The souls will be freed, and allowed to flow into him to be reborn- as they should be."]
[02:19] <Sept> "But is that a prerequisite to Elisha's plan, or just a consequence?"
[02:23] <Minaplo> ["I suspect it is… Not going to stop him from ascending as the Solemn Exarch. But the device itself is, I suspect, designed to redirect the flow of humanity's souls. Instead of flowing into Lilith, they flow into the Drive. But it is, I -think-, designed specifically for a Lilith who is weak. It will probably not redirect souls from flowing into the Human Seed, and I doubt it will, say, steal Lilith's children from their new world either."]
[02:25] <Yanmei> "So it's a nonfactor." Yanmei exhaled, relieved. "That's good?"
[02:30] <Sept> "Mm. Yes. It's a very resilient construct. Another question, then. What do you want with Tsubaki?"
[02:32] <Minaplo> [Ikari considered the question.-
[02:33] <Minaplo> ["A happy and fulfilling life for my eldest child." He replied dryly.]
[02:38] <Sept> "And if someone were to abduct her again, threaten her? Would you change or stop any part of your plans?"
[02:42] * Yanmei glanced between the two of them, a hand discretely over her mouth. So the parentage thing was true after all…!
[02:43] <Minaplo> ["Some of these plans require Tsubaki to be safe, in my care. So in that sense, then I would have to change or stop them- out of necessity, until I rescued her." Ikari said, folding his hands together. "As I did so before, if you care to remember."-
[02:45] <Minaplo> ["Or are you asking me to hypothetically choose in a mutually exclusive fashion? To choose if Tsubaki's safety were -leveraged- in return for my abandoning my plans?"]
[02:53] <Sept> "If she's enough to use as leverage against you… I can accept that. Just trying to make sense of the events so far."
[02:54] <Minaplo> ["It is a difficult question to answer. Anyone who -did- take Tsubaki would be better trying to -keep- her than leveraging her against me."]
[02:58] <Sept> "What do you mean?"
[02:58] <Minaplo> ["I have hidden a half of Lilith's soul in Tsubaki's E-Type field."]
[03:00] <Yanmei> "…!" Yanmei sat up straight. "You what?"
[03:00] <Minaplo> [Ikari sighed. "I have hidden a half of Lilith's soul in Tsubaki's E-Type field." He repeated tonelessly.]
[03:02] <Sept> "That fits a little better," Sera said drily.
[03:12] * Yanmei shook her head, looking just a little bit dazed. She sat back in her seat, and slowly pulled one of her lines of thought out into the open. "As long as we're asking about loved ones? About Isaiah…"
[03:12] <Minaplo> ["What about him?"]
[03:15] <Yanmei> "Is it true? About his dna contributing to the creation of Eugenia Ranvier?"
[03:16] <Minaplo> [Ikari's eyebrows rose slightly. "Yes."]
[03:19] <Yanmei> Yanmei's took on a darker scowl. "I understand that you and your wife were supervising that project. How could you?! There had better not be any other people walking around with his dna in them!"
[03:20] <Yanmei> ^Yanmei's face
[03:21] * Sept smirked at that, steepling his hands in front of himself.
[03:21] <Minaplo> ["Only Isaiah himself." Said Ikari coolly. "… And potentially yourself, depending on what you've been doing in the last few hours." He added nastily.]
[03:25] <Yanmei> "What?!" Yanmei stood up, face once again red. She folded her arms with a huff. "I think we're done here. If you're all out of vulgar and immature insults, that is." She tossed her hair.
[03:28] <Minaplo> ["Sit down, Zhang. I am not done yet."]
[03:28] <Yanmei> "I'll stand, thank you." She said primly.
[03:28] <Minaplo> ["Do as you will."-
[03:29] <Minaplo> ["Earlier, de Pteres portrayed a picture of our current conflict as being a hopeless struggle."-
[03:30] <Minaplo> ["Do you understand how he is wrong?"]
[03:31] * Sept tapped a finger on a mechanical wrist impatiently.
[03:36] <Yanmei> "In a straight up battle, he's correct. Caine has more than enough firepower to end us pretty easily? However," she shifted in place, "Elisha has all of the pieces he needs for his plan in place, while Caine is still scrabbling to get hers together while simultaneously putting down a resistance. Technically, Elisha's side has the advantage in this race, and if they put down the remaining Angels, they'll stay ahead."
[03:38] <Minaplo> [Ikari nodded. "We have the initiative for now. If we lose it, then yes- we are without hope. But we are not so weak that Mary can simply walk in and take that from us."-
[03:39] <Minaplo> [Without drama or ado, he tugged the glove off of his right hand. "And Mary Caine does -not- have all of the cards."-
[03:40] <Minaplo> [He held his hand out, palm outward- and a second later, the skin of his palm split, receding around- a stark white eyeball with an angry red iris. It remained there for a second, before receding back into his arm.]
[03:43] * Sept covered his eyes, rubbing his forehead with one hand. "Did -not- have to see that. Please, explain."
[07:55] * Yanmei had gone all stiff again. There was a slight movement across her face, as if it had started to twist into a different expression before she noticed and tried to smooth it back out again. "Yes. Please."
[08:00] <Minaplo> [Ikari's expression changed subtly. He wasn't smiling, but… Perhaps he was amused in some way.-
[08:05] <Minaplo> ["Implanted into my hand is the Cradle of Adam. When Adam emerged during Second Impact, she was struck down by the Lance of Longinus, and she exploded- and this is what happened to her body, reduced to a tiny, embryonic form. Merged with the half of a powerful Angelic soul, using this allows me to control my body, defend myself, grant me immense power, even create Angels."-
[08:05] <Minaplo> ["The cost is accordingly high."]
[08:10] <Sept> "Even for death, you've been doing this for quite a while. You're getting some decent fucking value off this."
[08:12] <Yanmei> "Wait. -How- long? How high of a cost are we talking here?"
[08:19] <Minaplo> ["Since May last year." Said Ikari. "So about nine months or so."-
[08:25] <Minaplo> ["And the cost? Death. Not the sudden death from gunshot or knife, but a slow one, a painful one. Only a being of comparable power- or biology- could hope to safely control Adam, and I am neither. Instead, with every use of its power my body is forced to rely on it more and more, entrusting myself to a virulent, ever-changing, powerful organism that cares not for me. Over time, my muscles
[08:25] <Minaplo> will wither and become atrophied; my eyes will go blank and see nothing; my hearing will fade; my bones will become brittle and weak; my organs will suffer and shut down and eventually I will die, in agony."-
[08:26] <Minaplo> ["As I said, I am a dead man. I traded the sudden death of a sniper's shot for the long death of Adam."]
[08:31] <Yanmei> "…"
[08:32] <Sept> "You're quite sure this won't backfire as you start deteriorating further?"
[08:37] <Minaplo> ["Sure? No. There's a real chance it will. What I am sure about is that without this, our chances of success are zero."]
[08:40] <Sept> "But if that happens, is there some way we can ensure the damage stays to a minimum? If we kill you, will Adam be able to do anything independently?"
[08:44] <Yanmei> "The cradle is just a shell without a soul, right? That wouldn't happen…"
[08:45] <Minaplo> ["No. the Cradle of Adam is inert, unable to act. If I die, or am killed, then all one needs to do is take the Cradle and keep it safe. Keep it out of the hands of Caine's soldiers."-
[08:45] * Raphael has quit IRC (Quit: )
[08:46] <Minaplo> ["It is not empty. There is a portion of the Angel Ramliel's soul within, but it is just a power source for the AT Field- it is in itself dormant and will not awaken. For this matter, however, it is very important it is kept away from Caine's elites- the Solomons."-
[08:46] <Minaplo> ["And obviously it should not be anywhere near indepenent Angels."-
[08:47] <Minaplo> ["And for the sake of safety, it ought to be kept away from Evangelions if it can be helped."-
[08:47] <Minaplo> ["Proximity to Lilith isn't recommended either."-
[08:47] <Minaplo> ["So all in all, it is quite safe."]
[08:52] * Sept pondered this for a moment. "Got it. Should come in handy."
[08:56] <Yanmei> "So I have a question? Angels that die have their souls return to that thing, correct? So… where are they going now?"
[08:56] <Minaplo> [Ikari didn't respond. He simply raised the hand in question.]
[08:58] * Sept raised an eyebrow in interest, but didn't otherwise react.
[08:59] <Yanmei> "Wait, what? Still?! What are the effects?"
[09:00] <Minaplo> ["No effects. The Angels' souls return to the Cradle, and there they lay dormant until reborn- as happened to Zeruel, when I took the soul of the Angel Shoftiel and birthed it from the Cradle."]
[09:05] <Yanmei> "Oh. Good." She nodded, torn between relief and uneasiness. "So eliminating the rest of them won't cause any problems. And the soul of Adam itself is somewhere else, so…"
[09:08] * Suzune has joined #nervfrance
[09:10] <Minaplo> ["Indeed."]
[09:12] * Yanmei worked her mouth slightly, as if on the verge of another question, but in the end she decided to pass on it, looking away.
[09:13] <Minaplo> ["Say it."]
[09:13] <Sept> "Hm?"
[09:13] <Minaplo> [Ikari nodded toward Yanmei.]
[09:14] <Yanmei> "I won't," she said firmly. "I have reasons not to."
[09:14] <Minaplo> ["Very well."-
[09:19] <Minaplo> ["But yes, we have the Cradle of Adam." Said Ikari, folding his hands together. "And we possess still the soul of Lilith, and so long as we control Paris-2's air, we can prevent any easy thefts of Lilith's body or her Disciples. We now possess the Elisha Units, of course, and we have in our possession the True Lance of Longinus- and the Ever-Slaying Sword of Excalibur."]
[09:29] * Yanmei nodded thoughtfully. "It's a big advantage? But if Caine's determined to take them for herself…"
[09:29] <Sept> "Mm." Sera tapped on the table. "Maybe we've reached some kind of understanding regarding your actions, today."
[09:32] <Minaplo> ["Caine will have a fight on her hands if she tries. She still has to move carefully- she is powerful, but she knows as well as I that some of these prizes are dangerous even without a wielder."-
[09:35] <Minaplo> [Ikari turned to Sera. "A phrase that would be difficult to apply to yourself, even with the benefit of generous doubt. Besides, there are still other things to discuss- your near-nonexistent Synchronization Ratio, for example."]
[09:40] * Sept took a deep, annoyed breath. "Go ahead."
[09:43] <Minaplo> ["Your Ratio has dropped violently within a short period of time. This is almost unheard of when it comes to Evangelions." He reached down to take a swig of beer.-
[09:43] <Minaplo> ["As you have already no doubt suspected, it is possible that Unit-01 is rejecting you."-
[09:45] <Minaplo> ["There could be multiple reasons for this. Evangelions can be temperamental, proud- and by definition the Elisha Units feel passions more strongly than even other Evangelions. I doubt it is something petty such as offense regarding a slight. More likely, it is trying to protect you, or feels that you do not trust it, or that your actions may endanger its goals."-
[09:54] <Minaplo> ["On the other hand, it is possible that Unit-01 has had enough. The bond between a pilot and an Evangelion is not to be taken lightly, and nor is the Evangelion unit to be taken for granted. Such creations will tire of a pilot's neglect over time, and simply reject them when the last straw breaks the camel's back."]
[09:56] <Sept> "-Yes-, all possibilities I thought of. Did you have any advice beyond introspection?"
[09:59] <Minaplo> ["What advice are you looking for? Do you think this can be fixed by simply modifying Entry Plugs? Changing Plugsuits? Recalibrating the MAGI system? If you are going to seek advice beyond 'introspection' then you will be looking, as per usual, in the wrong area."]
[10:03] <Sept> "Then what -is- it that you wanted to discuss? You've already more than suggested that I'm the problem, of course I'm going to look for solutions there!"
[10:04] <Minaplo> ["Because your capacity for looking, for perspective, is famously poor." Said Gendo sleekly. "I said earlier that there was an alternative cause. It is an 'introspective' cause, yes, but it may not have occured to you, or the implications: that you are rejecting the Evangelion instead."]
[10:07] <Sept> "Amd O"
[10:08] <Sept> <Computer, erase previous line>
[10:12] <Sept> "And I'm telling you I heard you the first time, and had already agreed about the -possibility-! You come here looking for allies, but refuse to act like a civil adult for one goddamn moment. Knock it the fuck off!"
[10:17] <Minaplo> ["Then leave. Go. You are no longer needed here. I need to speak to Zhang, and if you will not listen then there is nothing I can do to help you. You may feel free to try your possibilities, your introspection, and I wish you all the success you deserve. If you ultimately fail, then I may deign to assist you then."-
[10:17] <Minaplo> [And Ikari promptly turned back towards Yanmei.]
[10:22] * Yanmei had been watching the two of them in silence up to that point, and now she sighed. "De Pteres… Wait a minute, both of you."
[10:25] * Sept had been in no hurry to get up, so he just settled there, leaning back with one arm on the table. His irritation was showing, but he was otherwise keeping himself in check.
[10:26] <Minaplo> ["Be quick, Zhang."]
[10:31] <Yanmei> "You should take your own advice, Commander. You -both- know as well as I do that we don't have time for trial and error here? So if you're going to assist him with this introspection - with tips, our guiding him or whatever - then please get to the point and -do- it. And you," -
[10:36] <Yanmei> She frowned at Sera. "Yeah, I know this is frustrating, and annoying, and really freaky and everything? But show some patience. You were doing really well until now, so I know you -can-." She tossed her hair. "This is like a spat between 10-year-olds, for god's sake."
[10:37] <Minaplo> ["I am trying to assist him." Said Ikari irritably.]
[10:38] <Yanmei> "Don't argue," she said sharply. "Shake hands - metaphorically, or whatever - and try again."
[10:39] <Sept> "Agreed," Sera simply said, darkly. "I apologise. You've told me some things I'm aware of. Can you share whatever else it is you know about this?"
[10:39] <Minaplo> [Ikari turned back towards Sera. "Fine. I apologise too."-
[10:41] <Minaplo> ["I do not know exact details. But I have- notes- taken from the behaviour of the Evangelions and from Zeruel. Some of it is self-researched, some is taken from the observations of NERV's technical divisions. Here is what I know."-
[10:43] <Minaplo> ["Early on, our approach to synchronization was very much around throwing mud at a wall and seeing what stuck. We found that when the pilot of an Evangelion has some sort of affinity with the soul of the unit- for example, filial bonds or friendship, or ideology- then synchronization is much more successful."-
[10:43] <Minaplo> ["So naturally, your synchronization should be perfectly fine with EVA-01, as you are both just facets of the same soul."-
[10:45] <Minaplo> ["Informing this is what NERV calls the 'Run-to-Mother Theory'. A level of dependence on the Evangelion leads to synchronization is the simplified outline. In times when you have no hope but to rely on the Evangelion, your synchronization can strengthen. Of course, the extreme version of this is when an Evangelion berserks to protect the pilot."-
[10:45] <Minaplo> [His eyes flicked towards Yanmei at that.-
[10:48] <Minaplo> ["Ultimately, that is part of the reason why NERV recruited from young, impressionable pilots… Or rather, why only young impressionable pilots seem to possess any worthwhile synchronization ratios. It is far easier for a young boy or girl to depend, to need, to 'run to mother', than an adult."-
[10:51] <Minaplo> ["The inverse of this is likely to be true. A low synchonization ratio can imply that the pilot does not depend on the Evangelion, does not 'run to mother' as much as it should. Despair also plays its part: an Evangelion pilot can change the world through their actions. For a pilot to feel so despairing that they believe their actions inside and outside the plug to be equally worthless,
[10:51] <Minaplo> their ratio will diminish until they have something they want to work for- something to protect, perhaps."-
[10:55] <Minaplo> ["To bring this back to you, it is possible that your synchonization ratio has collapsed because you are full of despair- or because the implicit affinity between your portion of soul and Unit 01's portion has weakened, or been diminished somehow. The intrinsic bond between you and 01 relies on you both being portions of the same person. Should, in some way, you try to establish yourself
[10:55] <Minaplo> as an individual defined by not being Elisha Caine, then your synchronization ratio will do nothing but collapse."]
[11:00] <Sept> "Huh," Sera said, shifting his posture. "Interesting."
[11:04] <Minaplo> ["Any questions?"]
[11:06] <Sept> "I don't think so. I'll see about some avenues and try to desperately find you again if I fail. That is all?"
[11:07] <Minaplo> ["Almost. If you do require my assistance, and I am not here, ask Hyuga to call me."]
[11:09] * Yanmei shifted uncomfortably in her chair, the slight redness on her face from the berserking portion of the explanation just now fading completely away.
[11:14] <Sept> "Very well. Fuck you, Gendo," he said neutrally as he got up, as a kind of farewell. Eye contact was maintained until the very end.
[11:15] <Minaplo> ["Fuck you too, Sera."]
[11:16] <Sept> And soon enough, only the two of them remained. Fortunately for Sera, the exit worked this time and wasn't hiding a team of security guards.
[11:17] <Minaplo> [Ikari turned to Yanmei as though nothing had happened. "Now then, we must talk."]
[11:18] <Yanmei> "About what?"
[11:18] <Minaplo> ["Zeruel sends his regards."]
[11:20] <Yanmei> "…why?" her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What interest am I to that guy? Just because he helped out in one battle before he died…"
[11:31] <Minaplo> [Ikari's eyebrows rose a little.-
[11:32] <Minaplo> ["You helped free him from domination from another. And when battle came, he willingly sacrificed himself to give you the opportunity for victory. Of course you are of interest to him."]
[11:37] <Yanmei> "…" Gradually, she sank back in her chair. "He was a weird one," she muttered. "04 took over and was trying to kill him, not free him. And the reason he took those fatal wounds in the space battle was because I couldn't finish off the Sixteenth quickly enough."
[11:38] <Minaplo> ["The reason he took those fatal wounds was because he was no match for a fully-powered Archangel, and he knew that. You would not have been victorious without his assistance, but he knew what his fate was."]
[11:43] <Yanmei> "Why did he do that, anyway?"
[11:45] <Minaplo> ["I care to hear why you think he did it first."]
[11:47] <Yanmei> "I don't have the slightest idea? Maybe he thought he owed it to us because we spared his life before."
[11:48] <Minaplo> ["He did it because it was the right thing for him to do. Because he is sympathetic to the Lilin."]
[11:51] <Yanmei> "Of course he is. You wouldn't have resurrected an Angel that was hopelessly hostile to humanity if you needed it to help with your plans."
[11:52] <Minaplo> ["I appreciate your understanding that I am not an imbecile. Guillory was not quite able to make that leap without aid…"-
[11:52] <Minaplo> ["Nevertheless, Zhang, I thought you of all people would understand Zeruel."]
[11:54] <Yanmei> Guillory…? She raised and eyebrow at that. "How do you mean?"
[11:56] <Minaplo> ["You fight Angels, and you have slain many, but I think you understand them. Their motives, their thoughts. You know they have honour, like Michael, or sympathy like Shoftiel and Zeruel. You know that they wail for their lost loves- as Elemiah did- as strongly as you have many times before."-
[11:57] <Minaplo> ["Perhaps I am wrong. I had simply hoped that you had the capacity to respect them and understand them."]
[12:03] <Yanmei> "This whole time, it was our job to eliminate them! Now you're asking me to understand and respect them, just because of some… some similarities?" Anger, or perhaps mortification, flushed her face. "Why? Why do you know about Elemiah?"
[12:06] <Minaplo> ["The Angel who 'donated' a portion of its soul to power the Cradle is none other than Ramliel. Ramliel felt Elemiah's lament even after death." Said Ikari.-
[12:08] <Minaplo> ["And I am not asking you anything." He said, and an edge of tiredness was in his voice. "I had simply hoped. The Angels are our kin, another sign of the tragedy of this conflict. In the past, they and we were one."-
[12:10] <Minaplo> ["I am unsure if you were aware that your father- your spiritual progenitor- was amongst the Angels you have fought? Azrael. The blade he wielded has served you well, once you inherited it."]
[12:13] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei frowned deeply. "At the time I had no idea? I suspected something like that later on, though, because it was Metatron's Adam."
[12:14] <Minaplo> ["Yes."-
[12:20] <Minaplo> ["You should meet with Zeruel."]
[12:22] <Yanmei> "Huh?!" Her shoulders came forward, away from the backrest of the chair. "W-why? Blanc is the usual Angel Whisperer, not me."
[12:28] <Minaplo> ["What will she learn that she hasn't already learned? But you, however- you are used to seeing Angels through a filter of blood. In another time, another world, you might have counted your foes as your friends. If Elisha's plan bears fruit, then the Angels will be allowed to live elsewhere, to rebuild."-
[12:28] <Minaplo> ["And I think it is important that you learn why they deserve the chance."]
[12:32] <Yanmei> "A chance!" She couldn't hide the incredulity in her voice or on her face. "You believe that? And 04, who hates them even more than -I- do, believes it too?"
[12:35] <Minaplo> ["Elisha Caine has always believed it." Said Ikari.-
[12:35] <Minaplo> ["I will organise a time for you to meet him. Be prepared."]
[12:39] * Yanmei was scowling, but the expression was aimed elsewhere as she thought dark thoughts. Everything about this seemed like a trap. But why would Ikari…? -
[12:41] <Yanmei> "You're certain that it isn't, like. Tricking you or anything?"
[12:43] <Minaplo> ["To what end? If I were in Zeruel's place and were not honest, I would simply devour me and the Cradle and give birth to a new Adam."]
[12:43] <Yanmei> "…fair point," she said grudgingly.
[12:46] <Minaplo> ["Now then. I wished to discuss this amnesty Caine has granted. Temporary as it is, I believe we can use it to your advantage."]
[12:47] <Yanmei> "How's that?" This was a little bit more her element. "It means I can move freely, but what could I do?"
[12:51] <Minaplo> ["We could repost you- and by extension, Gabriel-Wei and your foster daughter- back onto the battleship. You will be free to mingle with your friends and companions once again."]
[13:15] <Yanmei> "Heh. It sounds really nice? But I'm worried about the security there. If Lizzie stays hidden in a place like this, then there's no danger of Caine's people getting to her." A pause. "Less danger," she corrected.
[13:16] <Minaplo> ["Arrangements can be made to protect her wherever she goes."]
[13:18] <Yanmei> "I'm sure arrangements were made to protect her back then too."
[13:21] <Minaplo> ["I have been informed that NERV may have a tailor-made bodyguard designed for Elizabeth on hand, if that helps to influence your decision."]
[13:23] <Yanmei> "And who would that be? Anyone capable of standing up to Caine's weirdo special ops? A group of five or more Iron Guards might be sufficient…"
[13:24] <Minaplo> ["I believe it is some kind of highly resilient construct programmed to be loyal unto death to a specified individual."]
[13:31] <Yanmei> "So… like, a robot?" She considered it carefully. "I'll sleep on it. I'm concerned with leaving the other two pilots behind, but to make contact with people and to make preparations for after the escape would be a huge boon?"
[13:33] <Minaplo> ["Tsubaki needs to stay here to be safe. And de Pteres should stay here because I do not trust him."-
[13:36] <Minaplo> ["Furthermore, having you and Unit 04 back on the Battleship will allow you to access some of the newer weapons available to NERV, which I think you will appreciate."]
[13:38] <Yanmei> "I see." A small smile… that turned gradually into a smirk. "I think you just implied that you trusted me, Commander~"
[13:39] <Minaplo> ["Zhang, I trust you because I know that your hatred for Mary Caine far outweighs your hatred for possibly any other living thing in the universe."]
[13:43] * Yanmei opened her mouth to correct that… and found little worth correcting, so she closed it again.
[13:43] <Minaplo> ["There is another task I require of you, should you accept your reposting to the battleship."]
[13:43] <Yanmei> "Yes?"
[13:45] <Minaplo> ["You are to investigate the Ayanamis. I have been placing my hopes on the idea that the Ayanamis' personalities would outgrow and overwhelm the conditioning placed on them, but I have no idea if it has worked. You are to ascertain whether it has or not."]
[13:49] <Yanmei> "I'll… see what I can do." Her own curiosity was starting to rise at the prospect.
[13:49] <Minaplo> ["Then you accept."]
[13:54] <Yanmei> "I do. Although I'll add this disclaimer in the process: I have been calling you 'Commander' as a courtesy. Not because I still hold you to that rank. I'm doing this as a favor, not as an order."
[13:57] <Minaplo> ["Mmm."-
[13:58] <Minaplo> ["Any final questions?"]
[14:00] <Yanmei> "I assume I'll get a file of some kind covering the details of their original conditioning?"
[14:01] <Minaplo> ["With as much information as I know, yes."]
[14:02] <Yanmei> "All right, that's fine. No other questions, then."
[14:12] <Minaplo> ["Very well." He stood up and, without ado, left.-
[14:12] <Minaplo> [There were four or five cans of beer on the coffee table now, as well as the crumb-filled plate…]
[14:12] <Yanmei> "…bastards."
[14:13] <Minaplo> [The door opened, and Yanmei heard footsteps…-
[14:14] <Minaplo> ["My door's unlocked again, is someone h-"-
[14:14] <Minaplo> [Captain Hyuga stared at Yanmei flatly. "… What are you doing with all that beer?!"]
[14:16] <Yanmei> In her mind, Yanmei reiterated the swear in one or two other languages. "Oh, you know…" she laughed. "It's like a party? Why don't you join me?"
[14:18] <Yanmei> [00:17] <Yanmei> In her mind, Yanmei reiterated the swear in one or two other languages. "Oh, you know…" she laughed. "It's like a party? Why don't you join me?"
[14:19] <Mibbit‘Haplo> ["No way, Mini-Misato. Go clean this up- I can’t believe I let Kaji convince me to give you a key…"]
[14:23] <Yanmei> "M-Mini-Misato?! You don't mean that, do you, Captain?" She gave him a sad, bright-eyed look, even as she collected the beer cans.
[14:26] <Mibbit‘Haplo> ["I do, Mini-Misato." He said, shaking his head. "This is exactly the type of thing she does…"]
[14:31] * Yanmei bitterly held her tongue against the barbs. Before long the cans were in the garbage, and Yanmei was finished washing up the plate, grumpily. "There. I bet Misato wouldn’t clean up after herself~ Now you can stop calling me that."
[14:39] <Mibbit‘Haplo> ["Sorry, Mini-Misato." Said Hyuga, folding his arms. "You’ve gone too far this time."]
[14:41] <Yanmei> "Hmph. You won't tell the real Misato about this, will you?"
[14:42] <Mibbit‘Haplo> ["I won’t, if you behave." He said firmly. "Out you go. Go on."]
[14:44] <Yanmei> And Yanmei did so, making her way out into the hallway. "Fine, fine. See you later…" -
[14:44] <Yanmei> It could have been worse, she supposed. There was only one witness and no cameras.

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