She Said She Could Still Be Alive

[14:30] <Yanmei> Nearly noon. With a notepad and pen in hand, a figure worked her way through the endless gray hallways of NERV's Paris branch. The facility was teeming with more people than she had ever seen it - white coats hurriedly rushing past, mechanics in jumpsuits calling out to each other in languages she couldn't quite follow, only the occassional glimpse of a familiar face in roving bands of uniformed military-types.-
[14:38] <Yanmei> On a different day, she might have tried to shoot the breeze. Now it was all just a dizzying blur to her. Her head was pounding, and the world was tinted blue thanks to the sunglasses she was wearing, and she had to keep up a fast pace because she was almost certainly late. The hallways eventually took her to a large set of guarded doors.-
[14:39] <Yanmei> Slightly winded now, she saluated and made her attempt to pass as quietly as she could. There were already voices coming from inside…
[14:47] <@Lucas‘Guillory> [A glowing table projecting a holographic image dominated the room, whilst the rest of it was taken up with an amphitheatre-style arrangement of seats. Half the seats were taken, whilst standing around the table were five figures; Colonel Lachapelle, Captain Katsuragi, a stiff, straight-backed man with grey hair; and a boy Yanmei didn’t recognise, who was somewhat shorter than her, with wavy blonde hair and brown eyes. He looked about her age, but he was wearing a Captain's uniform as well. The last person was of course Marianne, who looked nervous and worried.-
[14:48] <@Lucas‘Guillory> [The hologram was of the Earth; or a corner of the earth, with Ramliel projected a little away, connected by an oscillating beam of light. Eight tiny little dots seemed to be orbiting Ramliel.-
[14:50] <@Lucas`Guillory> ["The N2 strikes were confirmed hits, but they didn’t do anything." Said Dorian. He was responding to a question.-
[14:52] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["So it’s obvious that it's immune to direct attacks, no matter their strength." Said the boy-Captain. "Katsuragi, what did we learn about its sentinels' capabilities?"-
[14:56] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["…" Misato stared flatly at the boy, before turning towards Dorian, an eyebrow twitching. "The data relayed from our decoy-Evas seems to suggest that the Sentinels possess highly accurate weapon systems and automatically attack anything within 500 to 600 metres of the epicentre of the phase shift." She said. "Direct attacks on the Sentinels so far haven’t gone very well…"-
[14:57] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["Hum? What do you mean?" Asked the grey-haired man.-
[14:57] <@Lucas`Guillory> ["We lost three automated weapon satellites just for trying…"]
[15:03] * Yanmei sought the closest empty seat to the entrance that she could find and fumbled with her notepad, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. She hadn’t bothered with pigtails today. Whatever. She tried to focus, frowning to herself.
[15:13] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["I spoke with Riel and Ikari down in Technical." Said Dorian. "The Dirac Sea isn’t entirely an internal creation. From what our satellites are picking up, it's being sustained by the sentinels as well…"-
[15:16] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["So we need to destroy the Sentinels before we can attack the actual Angel itself." Said Misato. "But the only chance we have…"-
[15:16] <@Lucas`Guillory> [The boy broke in. "Sending a team of Evas into space directly."-
[15:16] <@Lucas`Guillory> [Misato shot him a dark look.]
[15:21] <Yanmei> She recalled something like that being mentioned before. Her heart twisted a little, but she steeled herself and furrowed her brow, staring harder at the notepad. Two sets of equipment that would make their EVAs space ready.-
[15:24] <Yanmei> But what did that mean for everyone else? If she had to pick two among them that could finish those Sentinal things… She sketched a vague shape on her pad, with eight smaller shapes around it. Put the initals ALS closer to them, and then AT much further away. Like it was even her call?
[15:33] <@Lucas`Guillory> ["Alphonse is right. With the E-Type suits from Hamburg and Tokyo, we can send a full four Evas into Space." Said Dorian. "Keeping three on the ground for defense and support, along with the Superheavies-" he nodded at Marianne- ", the four we send up can be entirely focused on direct assault."-
[15:34] <@Lucas`Guillory> ["Tsubaki should be on the team being sent into space." Said Misato. "She can get them up there fast… The others…?"-
[15:35] <@Lucas`Guillory> ["Well obviously, the Eva Team Leader should lead the attack." Said Alphonse, turning smoothly to stare at Yanmei. "Isn’t that right, Madame Zhang?"]
[15:43] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei stopped writing, the pressure of dozens of eyes pressing in around her. It was a second before she lifted her head and aimed a hidden stare at the stage itself. Something cool to say… something to reassure them all. "…huh?" Fuck. -
[15:47] <Yanmei> She refocused. Made herself smile. "No objections, I mean? I'm assuming Colonel Lachapelle will be the one among you that we'll be taking orders from?"
[15:47] <Yanmei> She refocused. Made herself smile. "No objections, I mean? I'm assuming Colonel Lachapelle will be the one among you that we'll be taking orders from?"
[15:56] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["Of course." Began Misato. "And I’ll take-"-
[15:57] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["The defense of Paris-2 will be my task." Said Alphonse, causing Misato to redden in anger. "But why don’t you come over here? Someone of your caliber should not feel as though they have to stand on the sidelines- I'm curious to see who you'd take with you into space."]
[16:02] <Yanmei> "I'll have to decline today? But thank you." She managed to throw a little charm behind that smile, as distracted as it was. Then her second-guessing kicked in, and she straightened her shoulders and threw her head back a bit. "That decision depends on what the fuction of the EVAs left on the ground will be, and I haven't heard that yet. Damage control?"
[16:06] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["We b-" he began.-
[16:07] <@Lucas`Guillory> ["We think the Angel can send Spawn to attack the city." Said Misato, overriding the boy. "So we need ground Evas to protect the city, as well as used long-range weapons to strike the targets in space when the defenses are down."]
[16:12] <Yanmei> Spawn. Yanmei swallowed something back. "I-I see…" She looked down at her notepad again. "I was under the impression that…that bombs were used in the Angel’s last attack? It makes Blanc a good choice for the ground crew, as her AT abilities have been able to shield wide areas from explosive attacks before.-
[16:16] <Yanmei> "A second person could focus on long-range strikes, and a third should focus on melee. Ikari or de Pteres are the obvious choices for the latter. For the former…" she trailed off with a frown.
[16:19] <@Lucas‘Guillory> [Dorian nodded. "Volkova focuses on long ranged attacks, so we could form a defense team of Ikari, Blanc and Volkova…"-
[16:20] <@Lucas`Guillory> [A hand would fall on Yanmei’s shoulder- that of Marianne, a solemn look on her face.]
[16:23] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyes blinked and widened in surprise behind her sunglasses. She'd been on the stage until a moment ago, hadn't she?
[16:24] <@Lucas‘Guillory> [Her hand tightened, a little squeeze.-
[16:26] <@Lucas`Guillory> ["Is that all in terms of deployment, at least?" Asked Marianne quietly.-
[16:26] <@Lucas`Guillory> [Dorian mulled this, and nodded. "Yes, I think so. We seem to have the first two stages down, so… Time for a break."]
[16:30] <Yanmei> A break. A lunch break? It was about noon after all. She wasn’t very hungry, though. As the audience started to stir, she stood up herself, but she found it hard to look Marianne in the eye. "Things sure are crazy today," she mumbled.
[16:45] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["That they are. Come on. Why don’t we go get a drink in private? Quickly, before Misato comes over…"]
[16:50] * Yanmei glanced over to the stage again briefly. "The cafeteria isn't exactly going to be private with all these guests around." she tried to smile. "Lead the way, though?"
[16:51] <@Lucas‘Guillory> [Misato was distracted by Alphonse, who she was trying to lecture, only to be repeatedly shut down.-
[16:52] <@Lucas`Guillory> ["My office won’t be. Let's go." Said Marianne with a smile, escorting Yanmei out into a crowded hallway…-
[16:52] <@Lucas‘Guillory> [Then a crowded elevator…-
[16:53] <@Lucas`Guillory> [Then finally into the peace and quiet of her office. It was a relatively large and comfortable office, with a coffee table and a sofa, and a big table and minifridge.]
[16:58] <Yanmei> "When did they move you to an office this huge?" Yanmei joked, moving to the sofa. It -did- feel private, and it felt comfortable, too. Like someone could sleep in here for a few nights in a row if they had to.
[17:00] <@Lucas`Guillory> ["Ever since they put me in charge of the Superheavies." She grabbed a bottle of wine from the fridge. "Glass?"]
[17:03] <Yanmei> "Sure, thank you." She leaned back and gazed up at the ceiling for a bit. "Did you stay here last night?"
[17:04] <@Lucas`Guillory> ["Yeah. I, uh…" An awkward pause, before she returned to the couch. "Did Isaiah take you home?"]
[17:14] <Yanmei> "Yeah." She still wasn’t looking at her. "He. He did that. I… I told him to go with Elizabeth today, to someplace that's safer, though."
[17:17] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["He argue much?" Marianne sat down, passing a glass to Yanmei.]
[17:21] <Yanmei> "He wanted to stay here, but I think he understood." She tried to straighten her shoulder. "I’m okay, though? I'm here, after all." His doing as well. But she didn't need to know that.
[17:28] <@Lucas‘Guillory> [Marianne stared at Yanmei worriedly. "Um…" She reached out tentatively and took Yanmei’s hand. "Are… Are you sure you're ok? I'm here for you, hon. If you need me…"]
[17:38] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei didn't answer. She didn't pull away from her touch, though. In fact, her fingers were closing around and squeezing back. Tightly.
[17:51] <@Lucas‘Guillory> [Marianne squeezed tightly in return, even tighter in fact. She didn’t say much else- she just put her arms around Yanmei and pulled her close.]
[17:57] * Yanmei shut her eyes. She wanted to think of this as only comforting, but it -hurt- too. "Should I have stayed in bed after all today?" Her voice was already getting a little more hoarse. She swallowed hard.
[18:03] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["Did… Did you want to…?"]
[18:09] <Yanmei> "It doesn’t matter." Yanmei shook her head. "I'm here and I can't go back home yet." Home. She shook her head harder.
[18:12] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["It -does- matter, hon." Said Marianne quietly. "I… I’m looking after you. A-and I'm going to look after you. A lot better than I have…"]
[18:17] * Yanmei stopped, trying to figure out how to take that. "You said that you would come to my track meets before."
[18:19] <@Lucas‘Guillory> [Marianne nodded quickly. "I-I did. And I promise that I will…"]
[18:21] * Yanmei nodded too, a jerky motion, her eyes growing blank again. "She said that she would see me running in a stadium someday. That’s what she said…"
[18:23] <@Lucas‘Guillory> ["…" Marianne squeezed tightly. "W-What… What if… She could still be alive…"]
[18:25] <Yanmei> "Do you really think so?"
[18:27] <@Lucas`Guillory> ["I hope so, hon. I really really hope so… I-It isn’t fair on you." A squeeze, again. "A-And one day I want to be there with her in that stadium…"]
[14:09] <Yanmei> Still alive. Berlin-2's disaster had had survivors. Asuka, and Aline's dad, and even Meir somehow. Was it okay to hope for something like that? She thought about it hard, scooting closer to her guardian. "Are there excavation crews there? I guess everyone would be busy gathering here instead, though?"
[14:14] <@Misato‘> [Marianne held her tight. "There… There are some scouts. But most of the area is deserted because people are afraid that Ramliel could come back. B-But… Your mother’s tough. So I expect that she'll survive until someone finds her. She's faced worse before, right…?"]
[14:19] <Yanmei> "Tough." She murmured. It sounded so… right. "Too tough to die like that. I want to believe that. I really really…""
[14:23] <@Misato‘> ["If anyone could, it’d be her. But… But if she didn't…" Marianne closed her eyes. "She'd… Die happy, because she had such a tough and worthy daughter."]
[14:27] <Yanmei> Silence for a little while. Yanmei stared at the light glinting off the mouth of the bottle. When shhe finally spoke, her voice shook dangerously. "I'm s-something she can be proud of?"
[14:33] <@Misato‘> ["S-She…" Marianne swallowed. "S-She always told me that she was. She and I talked… Sometimes. And she…"]
[14:39] <Yanmei> She? Yanmei’s eyes were locked on her with that, a little brighter than usual.
[14:50] <@Misato‘> ["She… She talked about you once. I-I was worried. I was afraid of what might happen to you if something bad happened to her. S-She told me that she wasn’t afraid, b-because she had a lot of faith in you…"]
[14:58] <Yanmei> Yanmei's gaze slipped away, straying aimlessly until it settled onto her own lap, at the careless creases in her uniform today. She felt a little dizzy again. Her mom was proud. She had faith in her!
[15:03] <@Misato‘> ["Yanmei…"]
[15:04] <Yanmei> "Ah?" she looked up again abruptly. "Y-yes?"
[15:04] <@Misato`> ["I-I’m proud of you too." She said quietly. There was a lot of sorrow in her face. "You have no idea how much. We all are."]
[15:13] * Yanmei stared, but it was only a matter of time before her vision started misting up again. She wiped her eyes hastily with the cuff of her jacket, pulling off her sunglasses first. Said eyes were already puffy and red-rimmed, and as if aware of how terrible the looked, she tried to smile the effect away.-
[15:15] <Yanmei> "That means," she mumbled, "that I have to do my best, doesn't it?" She squeezed her hand, gazing down again almost bashfully. "Th-thank you, Marianne. For everything."
[15:24] <@Misato‘> [A gentle hand ran through Yanmei’s hair. "It's been my pleasure, sweetheart…"-
[15:25] <@Misato‘> ["Yanmei?"]
[15:25] <Yanmei> "Yes?"
[15:26] <@Misato`> ["If you want to stay here awhile… And think about things, or… Or just cry to yourself, you can. I’m here…"]
[15:28] <Yanmei> "But the rest of that meeting…"
[15:28] <@Misato‘> ["They won’t miss me." Said Marianne, smiling ruefully.]
[15:31] * Yanmei studied her a moment, and then leaned over and carefully placed the glasses on an end table. "Thinking wouldn't be so bad," she admitted to herself. She started to curl up into a more comfortable position.
[15:33] <@Misato‘> ["No, it wouldn’t." Murmured Marianne, stroking Yanmei's hair gently as she let the girl settle down. "I love you, Yanyan."]
[15:41] <Yanmei> "I love you too, Marianne," she murmured. Misery and gratitude all at once. Someone was skipping an important business meeting just to comfort her like this, but… a desperate yearning to see someone else there haunted her. A sort of stupor fell over her before long, and she was more vaguely grateful for that as well.
1[15:44] <@Misato‘> [There wasn’t much more that Marianne could give. She had already told too many lies in the name of making Yanmei feel better- she couldn't make those lies come true. So she sat there, holding Yanmei tightly, and praying -praying- that it would be alright.]

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