She Said About Suzanne Sartre

[17:41] <@Jeanne‘Simon> [… Ping. Ping. Raphael’s first hint of consciousness would be the reassuring rhythmic sound of a hospital machine beeping…]
[17:51] * Raphael is quite used to coming awake all at once, so that first hint would rapidly be followed by a second and third as he struggles to pull open unusually leaden eyelids and sort through a mire of jumbled memories to work out why he's in an unfamiliar bed.
[17:54] <@Jeanne‘Simon> [He’s covered in bandages and his body is sore- he feels like he's been hit by a mack truck, which, all things considered, is not terribly far from the truth. He's also missing a little finger on his right hand. These are fairly telling clues.]
[18:04] * Raphael finally manages to snap enough pieces of his memory together - the angel, the tunnels, that final brutal battle with the Reaper - to realize where exactly he must be, and the thought sends him rocketing into a sitting position… which only serves to leave him doubled over his knees and hissing through gritted teeth as the pain wracks his upper body.
[18:08] <@Luna‘Riel> [The door opens.-
[18:09] <@Luna`Riel> ["… Mr Guillory? Sir?" Asked a female voice.]
[18:12] <Raphael> "Present," he says, surprised to find just how hoarse his voice is. He straightens up as the pain subsides, making sure to be a little slower this time.
[18:14] <@Luna`Riel> [A middle-aged woman with mid-length brown hair. Behind her was the familiar face of Captain Marianne Amatore-Deforest. "It’s good to see you awake, Wing Commander." Said Marianne, entering the room after the doctor.-
[18:16] <@Luna‘Riel> ["My name’s Marie Paget, I'll be your doctor during your stay here." Said the Doctor, trying a kind smile that didn't really wipe the tiredness from her face. "How're you feeling?"]
[18:22] * Raphael waves it off. "Fine, fine. I seem to be alive," he says, absently flexing the fingers of his right hand as he speaks, "How are pilots and the children, Doctor? And what's the situation with the angel?"
[18:23] <@Luna‘Riel> ["The pilots are alive. All of them except Blanc ended up here. All of the children who came to our care were- were fine." The woman paused, wavering for a second. "Some of them are still in hospital, of course…"-
[18:23] <@Luna`Riel> ["The Angel was destroyed." Said Marianne.]
[18:28] <Raphael> A little of the tension on his face seems to ease away at that, and he nods with a bit of care. "That’s something, then."
[18:32] <@Luna‘Riel> ["Yes. About the best that we can hope for without access to a time machine. Dr. Paget, if we could have a moment for, er, army stuff?"-
[18:33] <@Luna`Riel> ["Mm?" Dr. Paget looked up and blinked, before nodding in comprehension. "Alright. Just call me if you need anything, alright, Mr. Guillory?" The doctor gave him another weary smile then headed out.-
[18:34] <@Luna`Riel> [Marianne smiled, before pulling over a chair and sitting down. "You probably weren’t aware- I wouldn't be either if I woke up like that- but that was the mother of one of the little girls you saved. Rosalie."]
[18:39] * Raphael lets out a slow sigh and reaches up to rub at his eyes. "Pilot Zhang's charge," he says, suddenly sounding a little weary, "I… didn't hear her last name while we were down there or maybe I would have remembered. What state's the poor girl in now? She looked catatonic by the end."
[18:40] <Raphael> «Zhang*»
[18:42] <@Luna‘Riel> ["Well, she’s having to do therapy to regain the use of her hand, but she should make an eventual full recovery. Psychologically… Well." Marianne shook her head. "I doubt Rosalie will ever willingly enter a tunnel again. She's being kept here because it's easier for Marie to reach her- it's driving Marie to exhaustion a little."]
[18:50] <Raphael> "Mmm. I'm glad to hear about the hand, at the very least. Those things didn't go by halves when it came to wounds, I fear…" he says, glancing towards the foot of the bed. "Speaking of which, Captain, would you mind passing me my chart?"
[18:51] <@Luna‘Riel> [Marianne reached over and grabbed the chart, handing it to Raphael.]
[18:58] * Raphael blinked in an attempt to clear his bleary vision before quietly reading aloud as he scans the forms. "Two broken ribs, a punctured lung, assorted lacerations and bruising, finger required amputation, possible nerve damage to the hand…" He continues to eye the forms for a moment before glancing up at Marianne and frowning. "I’ve been out for six days?"
[19:00] <@Luna‘Riel> ["They’ve kept you a little sedated, I think, just in case, but yes."]
[19:15] * Raphael actually looks a little annoyed at that. "A shame. NERV probably needs all hands on deck for the cleanup, not to mention the battle itself."
[19:18] <@Luna‘Riel> ["You weren’t in much of a state to fight, Wing Commander." Said Marianne. "You already did us a tremendous service by bringing the pilots through safely. Once they downed Malchediel, the rest of the offspring died with it." She smiled a very little smile, the look of a woman who knew he wouldn't like what he heard next. "You'll be in this bed for the next seven weeks."]
[19:24] * Raphael gives the Captain a hard look, his lips pressed tightly together and for a moment he looks like he's going to argue the point… but eventually he just relents in the face of that smirk, letting out a little grumble of frustration.
[19:26] <@Luna‘Riel> ["Don’t look so down, Wing Commander. There'll be plenty to do here. In fact, you're already going to be -very- busy soon, despite your bedded state. That's why I'm here, in fact."]
[19:28] <Raphael> "… oh?" There's more than a hint of suspicion there.
[19:30] <@Luna‘Riel> [Marianne tossed an envelope onto his chest. It was addressed to him from Director Fontaine.]
[19:38] * Raphael raises an eyebrow at the sender, glancing up at Marianne again. He tears the envelope open in short order, pushing past the wince of pain that comes of getting his right hand involved, and sets about examining the contents.
[19:45] <@Luna`Riel> [The letter, in summary, was simple: thank you for saving the pilots, Raphael’s service was exemplary, Raphael was being promoted to Group Captain, and Commander Fontaine was lodging a request that Raphael be transferred to something called the 1st French Super-Heavy Regiment.]
[19:51] * Raphael skims the letter a second time in case he missed some critical context on the first pass, but nothing seems to emerge. "… I'm sorry, Captain, but I have to admit that I'm not familiar with such a unit. Is there more to this?"
[19:54] <@Luna‘Riel> ["Well. Yes." She opened her briefcase and started sorting about for files.-
[19:55] <@Luna`Riel> ["Before I go on, did you ever used to watch cartoons as a kid, Group Captain? Maybe something with robots in it? The giant kind."]
[20:05] <Raphael> "…" The staring continues for a few moments as she sorts through the files. "… if you mean the sort that were inevitably piloted by people vastly too young for the job then I have some dim memories," he says with a wry smile, "I’m not sure any kid can really escape them."
[20:07] <@Luna‘Riel> ["Funny how prophetic they turned out to be." Said Marianne with an equally wry smile. She placed a folder in front of Raphael. It was marked: THRUSTER DREADNAUGHT PROJECT REPORT (March).-
[20:08] <@Luna`Riel> ["There you go."]
[20:21] * Raphael flips open the folder on his lap and starts leafing through the contents with an increasingly skeptical expression. "You’re planning to integrate these?"
[20:22] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["Yes, that’s right. A sort of pre-Evangelion deployment stopgap, and… A unit that excels at ground control." Marianne's face darkened.]
[20:30] * Raphael nods slowly. "It's definitely something we need to work on," he agrees, neatening the edges of the stack of papers before laying the whole folder on his bedside table. It's a process that requires swapping hands as he finds the limitations of his drip. "Have they named my replacement for the First Wing? I lost a dozen of the unit on the ground before I met up with the kids, and
[20:30] * Raphael God knows who else survived…"
[20:36] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["Cecille de Bretagne." Her eyes flickered down towards her hands for a moment, before she said, softly, "I’m sorry about your unit, Group Captain."]
[20:48] * Raphael shuts his eyes for a moment and tries to smile. "So am I. Still, they were true soldiers until the very last. I just wish I could have done more for them," he says, finally meeting Marianne's gaze again. "If it's not too much to ask, Captain, would you be able to find me a casualty list for the unit? I know it's not really your department, but if I'm stuck here for seven weeks I'll
[20:48] * Raphael have to make calls until I can visit in person."
[20:50] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["Certainly." Said Marianne. "I’ll try my best. Ah…" … "There's one other thing too."]
[20:57] <Raphael> "On top of the promotion and new assignment?" he says, smile a little bit more honest now.
[20:59] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["Well. It’s something a little more personal. Something Pilot Ayanami was concerned about. About Suzanne Sartre."]
[21:04] <Raphael> The smile drops away in an instant, face suddenly serious and watchful as soon as that name is dropped. "… is she ok?"
[21:11] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["She’s… Well, alive. She actually woke up a day or two ago. But… The damage to her leg was extensive. Permanent. She won't be able to use it again." Marianne's face was gentle and sad. "The Sartres were both… They were both killed in the attack."]
[21:24] <Raphael> Another long, long sigh, followed by a muttered curse. "Poor, poor girl. That's… a lot to wake up to. Does she already know?"
[21:25] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["Doctor Clement told her personally."]
[21:33] <Raphael> "Good… that’s good," Raphael says, glancing towards the window with a deep frown. "What was Rei hoping I could do? I owe Suzanne a few favours, and the poor kid deserves any help she can get."
[21:44] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["… Well." Marianne shifted slightly uncomfortably. "Rei feels… A little guilty about what happened. And she wants to help Suzanne out, but she isn’t an adult. She's deeply insecure about looking after someone like that, especially given her role, so she's asking you to help her look after Suzanne as best you can."]
[22:00] * Raphael falls silent at that, mulling it over as he reaches up to scratch at the six days worth of stubble that's formed across the line of his jaw. "… I'm not opposed to the idea, honestly," he says eventually. "I like the kid. But I still have my duties with NERV, and Ayanami… wait, did you say Rei was a -pilot-?"
[22:01] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["Oh dear." Marianne frowned. "I keep forgetting not everyone knows that."]
[22:22] * Raphael chuckles. "Regardless… I’d want to know that the situation either or both of us could provide for us was the one she needed - that's not something I'm really equipped to decide - and I'd also want to know it's what she wanted. Suzanne doesn't have any family elsewhere?"
[22:29] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["Not that we can tell. Our records on the Sartres are a little incomplete, and according to them they lost contact with whatever family they had during Second Impact. It’s a pretty common story, all told." She rubbed her chin. "Suzanne's parents were both part of the Parisian Guard, 1st Infantry and 2nd Armored Regiments. Both were almost completely wiped out during the fighting, but… She's the daughter of soldiers." A pause… "… She was asking for you."]
[22:37] <Raphael> "Mmm. I'll get one of the doctors to clear me to head down there before the end of the day, even if it means a wheelchair." He pronounces the last word with the sort of distaste usually reserved for poisonous animals.
[22:38] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["Oh God. I’ve heard that before. Dorian? You're a lot younger than I remember." Said Marianne dryly.]
[22:44] <Raphael> "You're either greatly overestimating the Colonel's age or underestimating my own, Captain. I'd be quite pleased with either, truth be told."
[22:49] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["You know, sometimes I forget he’s in his thirties. He's so crotchety that he feels far older." Said Marianne, with a grin. "But you can't be that old, Group Captain. Your hair's a bit grey, but your face says twenty-six."]
[22:56] <Raphael> "… I'm loathe to even correct you on that. Unless you're kidding, at which point I'm required to inform you that your flattery card is now quite overdrawn."
[22:58] <Adrian‘Bellamy> [Marianne laughed. "Does that make you the flattery bank, Group Captain?"]
[22:59] * Raphael smiled a little. "If you intend to torture this metaphor even further."
[22:59] <Adrian`Bellamy> ["God, was it that obvious?"]
[23:04] <Raphael> "My role as a flattery banker doesn’t quite cover the rent, so I moonlight as a human rights commissioner for figures of speech."
[23:06] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["I think you’re going to have to indict yourself for that one, then."]
[23:06] <Raphael> "So it would seem."
[23:08] <Adrian‘Bellamy> [Marianne chuckled. "You’re an intriguing man, Group Captain Guillory. I think Suzanne'll be in capable hands if you go down that path. Besides, it also means we get to christen your Dreadnought as 'Papa Raffy's ride', which is going to never, ever stop being funny to a certain subset of NERV employee." Namely the sort who felt the correct response to an Evangelion uppercutting an Angel was 'FUCK YEAH!'.]
[23:17] * Raphael lets out a small groan and covers his face with his working hand. "Don't even remind me. I've seen the recut battle footage set to music."
[23:20] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["That’s -nothing-. You realise you're going to have to talk to the Thruster Weapons Development Team. Each and every one of them is -exactly- the sort of scientist who has the mindset to think of a weapon that is six battle rifles strapped together. I'm not entirely convinced their development sessions -aren't- just nerdier frat parties."]
[23:33] * Raphael just grins at that, still chuckling as he looks back to where a small part of the Dreadnaught's weapons specs peeks out from its manilla folder. It is… extensive. "Oh, right. Captain, you're Pilot Zhang's guardian while she's in Paris, correct?"
[23:34] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["That’s right."]
[23:37] <Raphael> "How is she doing? She performed exceptionally well in the tunnels - an absolute credit to herself and her training - and she has a hell of a game face for someone so young, but it was… tough. Between the pressure and the kids and what happened to her boyfriend…"
[23:41] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["Ah…" Marianne let out a looong sigh. "It’s been a little touch and go. She was hit by a dangerous attack during the battle that rendered her and Isaiah unconscious for several days…"]
[23:43] <Raphael> "Did she come through alright?" he asks, faintly concerned now.
[23:43] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["Yeah. They’re both awake and… Well, inseparable, for the most part. She has a few superficial injuries, but Isaiah is going to be in hospital even longer than you are."]
[23:46] <Raphael> "He's lucky to be alive at all given to what that thing in the tunnels did to him," Raphael murmurs with a frown, "Not that I'd ever tell her as much."
[23:46] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["What -did- happen?"]
[23:55] <Raphael> "Well he’d taken enough wounds to require some serious treatment by the time our two groups found each other again, but we happened to have the poor luck of attracting the big brother to whatever the scientists have decided to call the smaller spawn while I was asleep. Suffice to say the damned thing could fire some sort of acidic spray, and… Isaiah, you said? Well, he wasn't quite fast
[23:55] <Raphael> enough to get out of the way. I doubt he would have made it if Yanmei hadn't been quick with the biogel."
[23:55] <Adrian‘Bellamy> ["It fired -acid-?"]
[23:59] * Raphael nods solemnly. "I believe something similar went through my head, yes. You would think that the armour as thick as a tank and scythe-claws would be enough, but the Angels seem to pride themselves on having their bases covered."
[00:02] <Adrian`Bellamy> ["We’ve learned that the hard way." Muttered Marianne. "The beasts we dubbed 'Banshees', by the way." She said. "Would you mind discussing what else happened down there?"]
[14:06] * Raphael is quiet for another long moment, hand returning to tracing his jaw and clearly wishing for some time with a razor. "I can do that, yes. It seems I’m a few days overdue on a report as it is," he says, nodding a little and making a painful effort to sit up a little straighter.-
[14:06] <Raphael> "I can only really tell you what happened to Pilots Zhang, Ayanami and I, sadly. We were separated from the other children almost as soon as we entered the tunnels in some sort of structural collapse. The situation was abysmal, really. We had minimal equipment, and those things… the banshees, well they were in their element. They used the vents to ambush us at every opportunity, and they
[14:06] <Raphael> had numbers on their side. The young ones were injured early on – I underestimated the enemies in numbers and speed – but Ayanami saved Suzanne by manifesting some sort of AT Field."
[14:07] <Raphael> "I can only really tell you what happened to Pilots Zhang, Ayanami and I, sadly. We were separated from the other children almost as soon as we entered the tunnels in some sort of structural collapse. The situation was abysmal, really. We had minimal equipment, and those things… the banshees, well they were in their element. They used the vents to ambush us at every opportunity, and they
[14:07] <Raphael> had numbers on their side. The young ones were injured early on - I underestimated the enemies in numbers and speed - but Ayanami saved Suzanne by manifesting some sort of AT Field."
[14:09] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Ah. That must’ve come as something of a surprise to you."]
[14:14] <Raphael> "A little, yes," he agrees with a very small smile. "But Miss Zhang seemed to know about it, and I wasn't about to make an issue of it in a combat situation. And if she's a Pilot… well, it's not my job to question NERV."
[14:15] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne nodded appreciatively. "In dark tunnels, surrounded by monsters is hardly the time for quibbles, no." She shook her head. "It’s horrifying to think of what happened to those poor children down there… What happened after that?"]
[14:23] <Raphael> "Whatever Rei did seemed to act like something of a beacon. First came another wave of the banshees, but we dealt with a few the remaining ones grew agitated and fled. That was the first time we encountered the spawn that injured Isaiah," Raphael said, frowning a little at the memory. "Luckily we managed to get into one of the smaller tunnels before it could engage us. It was too big to
[14:23] <Raphael> follow us, but it still tried. It collapsed the whole entryway as it tried to get through."
[14:26] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Good grief. The entire entryway? That’s horrifying."]
[14:35] * Raphael just nods. "Things proceeded fairly slowly after that. The banshees came in waves. We managed to find a weapons cache as our ammo was running low, so I must give my thanks to whomever made that addition to the tunnels," he says. "Eventually we managed to find the second group, with Pilots Blanc and de Pteres, at the elevator. They'd taken significant losses in the meantime. Two
[14:35] * Raphael children and a fellow student dead, along with significant wounds to those remaining."
[14:37] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne nodded very slowly, her face dark. "I’ve spoken to Isaiah about some of the events which happened. He said they fell into a trap. It's…" She shook her head. "There was a little girl, Alexandrine. He said that one of the Banshees coated the walls with her."]
[14:44] * Raphael goes very still for a moment, but his face remains otherwise calm and unreadable. "… if only we could have stayed together."
[14:47] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne nodded sadly. "Despite all the suffering, Group Captain, we’re honestly lucky you all pulled through as well as you did."]
[14:53] <Raphael> "I know. And as long as I had seen all three of those pilots arrive on the elevator safely I would have considered it a successful mission regardless of any other losses, considering the odds against us," he says with a sigh. "I've lost plenty of people on operations before, but at least soldiers know the risks."
[14:59] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Yeah…" Said Marianne. There was a trace of guilt in her voice. "Over seventy thousand civilian casualties… I-I keep wondering what I could’ve done differently to make that number smaller. I don't know if I could've done anything better, but the idea that we can be on the top of our game and still lose so many isn't comforting."]
[15:05] <Raphael> "Agreed," Raphael says with a fervent nod. "… seventy thousand, is it? I suppose I shouldn't be surprised given everything I saw down there. The blasted things were -built- for urban extermination." There's the first faint trace of anger in his voice at that, but he shuts it down with a scowl. "What's the situation like in the city? I can't imagine it's pleasant."
[15:10] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["… Turbulent." Said Marianne with a sigh. "Overall, we lost over a hundred thousand. Military casualties were nearly in the thirty thousands. that’s one third of the city's static population, gone. People are living the city in droves- the MAGI estimates the end population will be at best, below a hundred thousand. The ones remaining are the hardcore, the ones who have nowhere to go, the ones who are willing to risk it. A -lot- of people are upset. A lot of people are hurting, and a lot of them are out in the streets, trying to do -something- with their hurt. Ultimately, we're the ones getting blamed…"]
[15:14] * Raphael sighs again. "Not surprising. Although I do have to wonder what more they suppose we could have done, even in the logic of grief."
[15:21] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Well…" Marianne shifted uncomfortably. "Having all of our defenses paralysed, whilst not exactly our fault… It’s still something we should've prevented." She sighed. "And to add insult to injury, NERV doesn't pay civilian compensation."]
[15:30] <Raphael> "… true, I suppose. I just struggle to see how it's NERV's job to provide compensation for events like this when it already takes all our effort and funds just to provide as much protection as we do," he says, but his words are more thoughtful than annoyed. Still, after a moment's contemplation he simply shrugs. "Regardless, I am curious as to what caused the blackout. Did the angel have
[15:30] <Raphael> EMP or electronic warfare capabilities?"
[15:33] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Worse. I don’t know all the details, but it looks like a separate, whole Angel was working with our main foe. It could travel along electric currents or through computer circuitry. It piggybacked onto a data package sent from Switzerland, infiltrated a science lab, caused the Interception Grid to fluctuate- sending a signal to our foe- and then shut down the power. An hour or so after that, it rebooted the power grid and tried to hack NERV's MAGI system. It almost triggered the Geofront's Self Destruct sequence."]
[15:36] <Raphael> "Clever," he murmurs, with a little bit of admiration there in spite of himself. "So the Angels have finally begun to cooperate intentionally, and not just by accident like the Ninth and Tenth?"
[15:38] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["It seems that way." Said Marianne dubiously. "It’s not the best of news, is it?"]
[15:43] <Raphael> "Not particularly, but to my mind it was only a matter of time. Who knows whether the other Angels know about our battles with their bretheren, but they must be aware that we have enough trouble fending them off when they operate independently…"
[15:51] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne frowned. "I wonder why they’ve been so solitary up until now?"]
[16:23] <Raphael> "Who knows with things that alien? I've long since given up trying to work out the damn things," Raphael says, looking a little weary. "It's possible this pair were just an anomaly, but in terms of planning a defense it makes more sense to just assume this might happen again."
[16:24] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne nodded slowly.-
[16:26] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> ["I suppose we’ll see what the Colonel thinks of this. He's incandescent that it happened at all, but…" She stood up. "I suppose you'll be wanting a wheelchair."]
[18:16] <Raphael> "Mmm, I suppose so," he says, looking down at his wounded hand and giving it another experimental flex. "I don't suppose you'd be kind enough to give me a hand getting down to Suzanne's ward, Captain? I hate to say it, but I don't think this hand's up to the task of dealing with a wheelchair quite yet."
[18:17] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["That isn’t a problem at all, Group Captain. If you're going to be piloting a Thruster Dreadnought you should probably get used to having me push you around." There was a dangerous gleam in her eye.]
[18:20] * Raphael 's lip twists into a thin little smirk, his own eyes glinting in amusement. "It's going to be like that, is it?"
[18:23] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["I -am- being made the Super-Heavy’s commanding officer, Group Captain." Said Marianne. "Considering my experience with super-heavy equipment and the like… And Dorian's own occupation directing the Evangelions…" She quickly headed out, and returned with a wheelchair, wheeling it up to the side. She offered him her support.]
[18:31] <Raphael> "Well then," he says as she returns, "If you're going to be my commanding officer then I should probably let you know that I'm quite happy to be called by my first name, Captain." He eases himself off the bed, face composed apart from tightly gritted teeth. Without leaning on Marianne he takes one hobbling step without on the leg where the banshee cut deep into flesh and muscle before
[18:31] <Raphael> easing himself into the chair.
[18:32] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne nods, impressed at the man’s ability to bear pain. She commandeered the wheelchair and pushed him out into the hallway. "And outside of a combat situation, you can call me Marianne, Raphael."]
[18:34] <Raphael> «hobbling step on*»
[18:35] <Raphael> "I'll keep that in mind, then," he says, smiling back at her. He does look a little paler for the movement, though.
[18:37] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne smiled back, and then… Pushed him along.-
[18:38] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> [Through the corridors, coming to a different section of the hospital. To a certain door, which she opened- and then pushed Raphael through.-
[18:39] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> [The room was, like most hospital rooms, white, but it was a window room, giving the occupant a view of the Geofront, lit up by the panel-caught sunlight.-
[18:40] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> [The occupant was laying in bed. She was a child- six years old- with long black hair. Her face, which had been tough and as firm as it could be during the tunnel horrors, was now weak and shattered, tear-streaked and forlorn. She stared at her first guest- Rei, sitting in a wheelchair, looking bone-tired. She didn’t hear them come in.-
[18:40] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["I brought you a guest, Suzanne." Said Marianne kindly.-
[18:40] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> [The girl looked over. "R-Raffy…?"]
[18:44] * Raphael has to hold back a wince as he sees that expression, feeling a twinge of pain somewhere deep in his heart at the sight of it. "Hey there, kiddo," he says, giving her his biggest, warmest smile which… while not exactly -huge-, was still quite a change of expression for someone as reserved as Raphael. "I’m sorry I couldn't be here sooner."
[18:49] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["H-H-Hi, R-Raffy." The girl stared at him with eyes that seemed bigger for the tears. She took a big gulp. "A-Are you ok?"-
[18:50] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Wing Commander-san…" Rei nodded, the act nearly making her doze right there and then.]
[18:55] <Raphael> "A-ok, Suzanne. A bit of rest did me good, I think." He says this while giving Rei a worried look, but it’s not long before he turns back to the wounded girl again. "But don't worry about me. How are you?" he asks gently.
[18:57] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["I-I’ve been better." She said, with a heroic effort, rubbing her eyes hard. "I-It hurts…"]
[19:03] <Raphael> "I know, hon," he says, giving Marianne a quick look of warning before pulling himself to his feet and very carefully taking a seat on the edge of Suzanne's bed, careful not to jostle her leg. Once this is done he reaches out and places one of his hands over one of the girl's own.
[19:12] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Affection. That’s all it took to break that kind of mask. The moment Raphael touched the girl's hand her brows drew together, and… She gripped his hand as hard as she can- and she broke apart. Any attempt at keeping herself in check fell by the wayside. She sobbed. Huge streams of tears pouring down her face and wails that were loud and heartrending- the sort of cry that was made to attract a mother, or a father, a cry for help- a cry to people who were never coming back. It was ugly, it was raw, and it was relentless. The pain had built up. And it hadn't gone away.-
[19:12] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [In her chair, Rei bowed her head, tears- far more silent ones- flowing down her own cheeks.]
[19:22] * Raphael just shut his eyes tightly for a moment, his hand tightening around Suzanne’s, momentarily frozen by some internal indecision. However a moment later he reaches out with his other arm, wounded hand and all, and wraps it around Suzanne's shuddering shoulders in a hesitant, unpracticed hug.-
[19:23] <Raphael> He doesn't say a word. She needs this, gut-wrenching as it might be.
[19:25] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [She howled, collapsing into his arms without an iota of resistance, her frame shaking violently. "I-I want m-my dad…" She gasped out. "M-My mum- I-I want my mum…" The same, painful words, over and over…]
[19:32] <Raphael> "…" Raphael just holds her, allowing the tiny girl be swallowed up in his arms. "I know, kiddo. I’m sorry. I'm so, so sorry."
[19:34] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [She sobs, repeating her painful mantra for awhile… Before slowly the sobs subside, but her words… Don’t get any easier to handle. "W-Why, Raffy? W-Why t-them…"]
[19:41] <Raphael> "I…" He hesitates, whatever platitudes of command he had memorized dying on his lips dying in the face of this. "… I don't know, Suzanne. I wish I did. I just know it's not fair."
[19:43] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Suzanne crumples against him. Eventually her eyes start flickering as grief turns to depressed exhaustion. "It’s not fair." She mumbled wearily. "I-I don't… Have anyone… left…"]
[19:46] <Raphael> "… we're not going to let you be alone, Suzanne. /I'm/ not going to let you be alone."
[19:47] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["R-Raffy…" Was all she uttered, bowing her head a little. She was… Drained, now. Very drained indeed.]
[19:49] <Raphael> "Isn’t that right, Pilot Ayanami?" he asks, glancing up at Rei with a determined stare.
[19:51] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Rei nodded, forcing away the half-lidded tiredness for a moment. "R-Right, Wing Commander-san. We’ll both look after you, Suzie-chan. I promise. Every day…"]
[20:02] <Raphael> "Right. See? That's two people already." He doesn't smile down at her, but it's a warm look nonetheless. "Now… I know we're not your parents. But I'm not going to make you do this on your own. What do you say, partner?"
[20:05] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["…" She stares up at him, then tightly closes her eyes and puts a pair of shaking arms around Raphael’s neck. She sniffles. "R-Raffy…" It's all she can really say… But he can feel her mute gratitude.]
[20:13] <Raphael> "We'll get through this, I promise you," he murmurs, giving her one giant squeeze in return before pulling back a little.
[20:13] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [The girl totters a little before she falls backward, more of a slump than a crash, onto the bed. Her eyes are already closing. She mumbles a little under her breath- Raphael can hear his name, barely- before she’s out.]
[20:17] * Raphael waits until her eyes are shut… and then a few seconds more, waiting for the slow rhythmic breathing of sleep before he reaches up to cover his face with one hand, letting out a long, shaky breath. "God above…"
[20:19] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne reaches out, puts a hand on his shoulder. "You did as best you can, Raphael. This is something that’s never, ever easy…"-
[20:20] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Rei was staring at Suzanne with the sort of look that comes to a person in that moment between exhaustion and unconsciousness that lets a person think outside their box. "She… Would probably do anything to have her mummy and daddy back." Says Rei quietly. "Anything…"]
[20:34] <Raphael> "I’m sure she would," Raphael says eventually, moving his hand away with a final pinch to the bridge of his nose. By the time he's looking up at Rei his composure is fully intact once more. "Ayanami, when was the last time you slept?"
[20:36] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Two days ago, Wing Commander-san." Said Rei. "They keep giving me the sleepy drugs. I nearly fell asleep yesterday watching Isaiah so no silver-haired vixens tried to snuggle him, and Yanmei is going to be angry if she finds out, so shh." She rubbed at her eyes.]
[20:42] <Raphael> "…" Raphael just stared for a moment, one eyebrow waaay up, but he shakes his head and moves on. "Pilot Ayanami, did you know I just recieved a promotion?"
[20:50] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> ["Really? Congratulations, Wing Commander-san!" She said earnestly, her face full of youthful innocence.]
[20:51] <Raphael> "Indeed. Group Captain, in fact. So… in honour of that, I have a very important order for you. For the good of all the people you protect."
[20:51] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> ["What’s that, Group Captain Wing Commander-san?"]
[20:53] <Raphael> "Go and get some sleep. I'll get a new bed brought in here if it makes you feel better."
[20:53] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Alright, Group Captain Wing Commander-san, sir. Please do that for me." Without further ado, she lowered her head and fell asleep.]
[20:55] <Raphael> "… these kids," he mutters, shaking his head in silent laughter.
[20:57] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> ["They’re quite something." Said Marianne with a smile. "You're not really sure how to handle them at first, and then they sort of grow on you."]
[21:03] <Raphael> "Yes, that sounds about right." He turns and gives Marianne a smile. "I suspect I'm lucky that Ayanami was too exhausted to remember pilots are outside my command structure…"
[21:06] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne smiles back. "She isn’t the sort of girl to correct you on that anyway. Very obedient." Her smile faded a little. "Just the way they like it, I guess. Tell me, Raphael. How much faith do you have in your sense of credibility?"]
[21:14] * Raphael gives her a curious look. "I would like too believe that I have a rather good sense of such things…"
[21:15] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne nodded slowly. "Good. I also believe you deserve an explanation or two. Why don’t I take you back to your room, nip off to grab some food, and I can tell you about our friend here."]
[21:19] <Raphael> "…" A moment to consider that, eyes moving towards the window and its view of the Geofront before he nods very slowly. "I believe I'd appreciate that greatly, Capta-… Marianne."
[21:24] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [She nodded, and started pushing him back to his room.-
[21:24] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> [Once there, she helped him onto the bed if necessary, then headed for the door. "What’ll you have?"]
[21:30] <Raphael> "Six days without solids and God only knows how many types of drugs… maybe I should take it slow. Rice or pasta if they have it please, Captain."
[21:30] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Fantastic." Said Marianne, her face lighting up a little at the mention of pasta. "I’ll be back shortly."-
[21:35] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [She returned awhile later with a plastic bag with two piping hot portable food containers, and another plastic bag containing a milkshake straight from NERV’s cafeteria. The smell of fresh spaghetti bolognaise reached Raphael's nose. She placed one container on his bedside table along with a fork. For Marianne, the sheer smell conjured memories of home- of her mother, and solid, hearty home-cooked food. "It's hot, so be careful."]
[21:50] <Raphael> "Certainly, mother," he says with a smirk. He scoops up the container and rests it on the hospital blankets to control the heat. "Mmm. I'm not sure whether this is the days without food talking, but this smells marvelous."
[21:51] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["It smells pretty good to me, too. I don’t think I've eaten anything more than a sandwich for a week."]
[21:54] <Raphael> "What have they had you doing since the attack?"
[21:54] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Cleanup, mostly. They’ve been putting me to work on organising logistics for the Super-Heavy Regiment too." She smiled. "I'm no stranger to having to eat on the go, Raphael. I've just been… Worried, that's all. Too worried to sit down and eat."]
[22:00] * Raphael gives Marianne a sympathetic nod. "That's understandable. Between Yanmei's condition… well, everything else…"
[22:00] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [She nodded. "Right, you understand. But the worrisome knot in my gut’s starting to unravel, and I need to fill that space with something solid, you know?"]
[22:09] <Raphael> "Absolutely," he says, cracking open the container and making a start on the bolognaise. "So… you said there was something I should know about Rei?"
[22:09] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Right." Marianne followed suit, and pulled out her milkshake, sipping it first. "You know she’s a little… Different."]
[22:10] <Raphael> "There have been some hints, yes."
[22:11] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne nodded. "Let me start from the beginning. Have you heard of the Ikari Family?"]
[22:15] * Raphael nods. "Ikari Gendo, Commander of the Tokyo branch. Not to mention Pilot Ikari. That correct?"
[22:18] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> [Marianne nodded. "Good. Of course, Commander Ikari and Pilot Ikari have a wife and mother, respectively, and that woman is Dr. Ikari Yui. A rather well-known scientist who worked on the Evangelions before NERV was NERV." There was a pause.-
[22:18] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> ["She and Ikari Gendo had a daughter."]
[22:24] * Raphael frowns a little at that, but simply nods and allows Marianne to continue.
[22:25] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> ["You recall, last year, that there was a terrorist attack on Paris-2. They targetted the schools and a few other places."]
[22:30] <Raphael> "Right," he says, "LN-aligned troops."
[22:31] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> [Marianne nodded. "Right. Ikari Yui was in the city at the time. Pilot Ikari was with them- although he wasn’t a pilot at the time- to see Pilot Blanc, his girlfriend. His little sister, six year old Ikari Rei, was with them. She was killed in the attack."]
[22:37] <Raphael> Something in Raphael's gaze… shifts. There's the beginnings of understanding there. "… I read as much in the reports, yes. A tragedy."
[22:49] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne nodded slowly. "Very much so. It… Affected Dr. Ikari deeply." Marianne frowned, staring down at her bolognaise. "… NERV began a project to create the perfect Evangelion pilot. Unlike the NeoSpartan Project, this wasn’t by taking normal humans and training them, but by growing a batch of clones in completely controlled circumstances. Completely designed to be superior in every way with no undesired variables. Dr. Ikari was in charge of this project. She used the genetic material of her own daughter- who she, herself, had designed to be genetically superior to a human being whilst in the womb- to act as the template of these Mass-Produced Pilots. Furthermore, they merged said template with that of Angelic genetic material. Combine it with extra gene therapy and accelerated growth, and the result were twelve pilots, stronger, faster and tougher than all but the most superior of humans, capable of projecting their own AT Field at the personal scale, and being programmed to be completely obedient to their creators."-
[22:51] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne looked up at Raphael. "NERV numbers its projects starting at zero, Raphael. EVA-00, for instance. The first Mass-Produced Pilot was named Mass Produced Pilot Zero, or, in Japanese, MP-Pilot Rei." Marianne took a deep breath. "Dr. Ikari saw that product as her own daughter reborn."]
[23:03] * Raphael stares down at the bolognaise, stirring it in endless circles with his cheap plastic fork. His breathing is slow and calm, but there’s something angry in the look. "… and how does she see herself? Pilot Ayanami, I mean."
[23:15] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["She… Has had a rocky path. At the very beginning, Dr. Ikari treated her as Ikari Rei. Lodged her in Ikari Rei’s old room, with all of Rei's old clothes and toys. She… Has all of Ikari Rei's memories." Said Marianne gently. "She thought of herself as Ikari Rei, but no one else did. In fact many people she adored and loved as Ikari Rei rejected or spurned her, causing considerable heartache. I believe it was the concert actions of Zhang and Blanc that convinced Ayanami to try to find her -own- identity. Slowly, she's been moving away from the idea of her being a grown up Ikari Rei and has started to reinvent herself as… As the girl you know. A sixteen-year old schoolgirl pilot, who wants to help the people she loves, make friends, be gentle and kind to everyone, and, ah… Fight in the name of justice and love as a magical girl."]
[23:20] <Raphael> "Ah yes, she was… uh, saying something about that last part while we were in the tunnels," he says. In spite of the anger still showing behind his eyes he manages to smile. "Did you know she has a costume?"
[23:21] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Ah… Yes. I didn’t see it, but I think she showed it to Isaiah once. She thinks very highly of him, I think. -Very- highly." Said Marianne, hoping Raphael would get the hint.]
[23:30] <Raphael> "… ah." He winces a little, nodding. "So she and Yanmei are… hmm."
[23:32] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["… Rather close. Rei… Well. She admires Yanmei immensely. She sees her as the best big sister in the world and wants to ’grow up' to be her." Marianne started on her pasta. "As you can see, it's a little awkward, especially if you consider Yanmei's… Er, protectiveness of him."]
[23:39] * Raphael is busy working through his own lunch. "Yes, well. Teenage love triangles are bad enough without… essentially everything else you've described. I don't envy them."
[23:41] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne chuckled. "I don’t have too much worry. Isaiah is firmly devoted to Yanmei. It'll be a bit hard for Rei, but…" She tucked into her pasta with gusto. "Hey, you should come over for dinner sometime. Isaiah's a good cook, and Yanmei is pretty good at it too."]
[23:47] * Raphael makes a thoughtful noise past a mouthful of food. "I think I'd like that, Captain."
[23:50] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["Good." Said Marianne.-
[23:51] <@Gilles`de`Orleans> ["So I’m a little curious. How -do- you see the pilots?"]
[00:03] <Raphael> "Well…," One more heaping forkful and the bolognaise is finished and placed on the bedside table, "They have my utmost respect, no doubt about that. Like most of the rest of the military I had my doubts about whether it was right or sane to give the job to people so young, but… given everything I've seen since their deployment, I'd say they've long since earned their place in the entry
[00:03] <Raphael> plug."-
[00:05] <Raphael> "Still, I've seen child soldiers before. I worry about the long term effects of simple military training on a teenager, let alone the psychological pressures of exposure to something like an Angel."
[00:09] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> ["It’s worrying to say the least." Said Marianne. "They -seem- to be coping ok for now, but who knows what they'll look like by the end. Especially once they're no longer a part of NERV. I think the constant exposure to civilian life helps a little, but…" She shook her head. "It's an awful burden. Yanmei feels it especially keenly…"]
[00:11] <Raphael> "Is that so?"
[00:15] * CakeyCake (~ten.nozirev.soif.apalhp.871-301-2-801-loop|3tmretrac#ten.nozirev.soif.apalhp.871-301-2-801-loop|3tmretrac) has joined #nervfrance2
[00:17] <@Gilles‘de`Orleans> [Marianne nodded. "Unlike the other pilots, she was plucked from her homeland and taken halfway across the world, away from her mother, her friends, the only life she knew, to a country where she didn’t speak the language and didn't know anybody. Then she had her leg damaged during that incident…" Marianne shook her head. "She hides it well, but she doesn't want this."]
[00:24] <Raphael> "Ah… so she was more or less conscripted." That earns a little frown disapproval. "I'd heard horror stories about the pilot selection process, but it's hard to know what's exaggeration or outright lies when it comes to scuttlebutt."
[00:25] <@Marianne> "Mmm. She wasn't literally conscripted, but…" Marianne nodded.-
[00:28] <@Marianne> Soon, her container joined Raphael's. "Well. It was fun getting to know you, Group Captain Wing Commander Papa Raphael." Teased Marianne. "But, I think I should go see about that bed for our lovely little magical girl. You take it easy, alright?"
[00:33] * Raphael gives Marianne a smile and a nod. "It's not as though I have many other choices, Captain. Seven weeks…" he mutters, sighing a little. "Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help with the Dreadnaught program from here."
[00:34] * @Marianne smirks. "There is one thing."
[00:34] <Raphael> "And what's that?"
[00:35] <@Marianne> "I need two lists from you. The first is the name of any logistics crew you're particularly attached to or impressed with from your time in the Air Force, along with the names of any pilots you felt were exceptionally good. The second, I need you to come up with a personal colour scheme for your ridiculous stompy robot of death."
[00:37] * Raphael spends a few moments staring down Marianne after that last note. "Is it allowed to be something respectable and understated, or is that against NERV policy?"
[00:39] <@Marianne> "The Thruster Design team are adamant about scrounging up the head platings from some of the larger angelspawn and bolting it to the top of your cockpit." Said Marianne. "And no, you may not keep it respectable and understated. If it doesn't stand out from the urban morass, you're going to be trod upon."-
[00:39] <@Marianne> A wider smirk. "Or bombed."
[00:42] <Raphael> "… I see that you have the talent of a ranking officer for truly selling a new promotion, Marianne."
[00:43] <@Marianne> "I wouldn't want you to think this job was going to be any safer than your last, Raphael. That's not how NERV works." She grinned, and headed for the door.-
[00:44] <@Marianne> "Oh. One last thing?"
[00:44] * Raphael raises an eyebrow. "Another last thing?"
[00:45] <@Marianne> "I know, I should sell electronics."-
[00:45] <@Marianne> She winked. "President Mazarin called. He wants you to meet him as soon as you feel up to it."
[00:50] <Raphael> … all the ridiculous amount of revelations and surprises Raphael had been privy to barely two hours after waking up in this hospital bed and this would /still/ be the first time Marianne saw the soldier look genuinely surprised. Shocked might be a better word. "W-wha…" he takes a moment, letting out a sheepish cough and getting the steel back in his voice. "Are you certain he has the
[00:50] <Raphael> right person, Captain?"
[00:53] <@Marianne> "Hm. Raphael Guillory, saved the lives of the pilots of Paris-2's last, greatest hope, accomplished VTOL combatant, tall dark and handsome with a dry, mildly snarky sense of humour? How many of you can there be?"
[00:53] * @Marianne is of course smirking like a cat.
[01:01] * Raphael coughs again, apparently more as a stalling tactic this time. "If you insist, Marianne. Will I have to make an appointment of some sort?"
[01:03] <@Marianne> "I suspect you might, once he's back at the Palace, but he specifically mentioned that he's set up a special arrangement to just waive you along if you catch him whilst he's still in hospital. Not -this- hospital, but he is."
[01:06] * Raphael nods slowly. "Ah, so he took injuries as well. Well then, I'll be able to get the details from you once the doctors clear me to make the visit, I imagine?"
[01:07] * @Marianne nodded. "You know where I am. Rest up, Raphael. Take it easy!"
[01:07] <Raphael> "Right… right, I will." He still looked a little shell-shocked.
[01:07] * @Marianne was out the door~

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License