Franco Gets Political

[13:37] <Minaplo> ["Doctor Khalef." Said Violet, as Fionn and Kayoko left. "What can you tell me about the Echidna Clan?"]
[13:44] <Inara> "Isolationist, almost to the point that I'm surprised they're getting wrapped up in this. Also they're ridiculously tough, even for Immortals. Like, good like even managing to kill one temporarily. Aggressive too, but not psychotic. Maybe they're advancing because they smell a good fight and they want the challenge…"
[13:47] <Minaplo> ["Isolationist and durable," personalities etched in stone, "Would they have given Mr. Wellesley-Ayanami a hard time?"]
[13:51] <Inara> "Of course! Even in a best case scenario he was probably dealing with weeks of drunken hazing and other nonsense."
[13:55] <Minaplo> ["Something that a Twiceborn would struggle to handle?" Asked Violet.]
[13:56] <Inara> "Probably. Why?"
[13:57] <Minaplo> ["I'm wondering… Why not send an Immortal to do his job? Why not send, say, one of your clan?"]
[13:59] <Inara> "Well… they could have. But look at the guy. He's not dead, so clearly they went easy on him. Or maybe he talked his way out of a lot of it. Either way, it turned out just fine."
[14:01] <Minaplo> ["He's an Ayanami." Said Idris. "It's wise not to underestimate them."-
[14:01] <Minaplo> [Franco huffed.]
[14:07] <Inara> "Is something wrong, Commander?"
[14:08] <Minaplo> [Franco looked around- and sighed.-
[14:09] <Minaplo> ["At the risk of sounding like a contrarian out to ruin the party for everyone else… I don't really like the concept of the Ayanamis."]
[14:11] * Inara blinked. "Why not?"
[14:15] <Minaplo> [Zima and Tran were giving Franco dark looks.-
[14:17] <Minaplo> ["Here's an exercise," Said Franco warily. "How many of the original Ayanami sisters can you name?"]
[14:20] <Inara> "I dunno. But there were originally twelve of them, right?"
[14:21] <Minaplo> ["Mhm."]
[14:29] <Rora> "Well, Ni Ayanami is one of the Guardians' Councillors. And I rather enjoy a lot of Go's filmography, especially recently," Rora piped up. "…Um. If we're still on names, anyway."
[14:31] <Minaplo> ["Mmhm." Said Franco. "Of the others, Rei is a government minister, San runs a massive media empire, Chiisana was the first of our new Evangelions, and Julianna is a systems governor."-
[14:34] <Minaplo> [He pointed at Idris. "Tutored by an Ayanami Eva." Then at Rora. "Answers to an Ayanami." Then at Violet. "Also a fan of Go's filmography." A thumb over his shoulder at Gregory. "Has a monthly subscription to San's pioneer newspaper."-
[14:34] <Minaplo> ["Sure do, sir." Said Gregory.-
[14:35] <Minaplo> [Franco pointed at Tran. "I don't even need to say it."-
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["Hey."-
[14:35] <Minaplo> [And then he pointed at Zima. "And… Hm."-
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["My little sister's name is Alrei, short for Alphonse-Rei." Said Zima helpfully.-
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["That's weird, Zima."-
[14:36] <Minaplo> ["I don't think it's weird." They said. "My name's Koumei, short for Kourosh-Yanmei. It's a cultural thing."-
[14:36] <Minaplo> ["Double-Franco." Zima muttered under their breath.-
[14:37] <Minaplo> ["Anyway." Franco turned back toward Rora and Inara. "Do you see the picture I'm painting? The Ayanami family are massively influential. How many famous politicians, generals and celebrities do you think our friendly Mr. Fionn Wellesley-Ayanami met before the age of ten? Because I'm betting it was a lot."]
[14:39] <Inara> "Well, yeah, that goes without saying. But what are you implying here? That he got his job just because of his family?"
[14:42] <Minaplo> ["I'm not saying that's for certain." Said Franco. "I'm not trying to pin wrongdoing on the Ayanamis. I'm a Primogen. I spoke to all of them in the Gestalt, and those are good memories."-
[14:44] <Minaplo> ["… But, considering how enmeshed they are in positions of power, how can you be sure Mr. Wellesley-Ayanami earned his position solely on merit? How do you go about dividing his position into 'ability' and 'connections' when he can't swing a cat at a family reunion without hitting someone important?"]
[14:51] <Inara> "Question: If the man is effective at what he does, should any of that matter?"
[14:53] <Minaplo> ["Because the idea of promoting on merit is that you know they're effective before they actually have to start working." Said Franco patiently. "It's not enough to be happy with an outcome- the path itself has to be more rigorous than a roll of the dice."-
[14:56] <Minaplo> ["And those connections interfere with the process, because it becomes hard for people to determine if they're really seeing his talents, or whether they're seeing his name and network and unconsciously mistaking them for talents." Said Franco. "Did you find him attractive, Doctor? Mr. Mist?"]
[14:58] * Rora blinked. "I…not to me, personally? But I would understand others finding him so."
[14:58] <Inara> "No comment."
[15:02] <Minaplo> ["Well, alright. Is anyone willing to admit to finding the obviously handsome man handsome?" Asked Franco.-
[15:02] <Minaplo> [Tran eyed Franco, then warily raised a hand.-
[15:05] <Minaplo> ["There we are." Said Franco. "Now, as attractive as he is personally, how easy is it to disconnect that from his name, from the known quantity that is his family?"-
[15:06] <Minaplo> ["I wasn't thinking about his family, sir." Said Tran, a hint of threat in her voice.-
[15:08] <Minaplo> ["I believe you, ensign." Said Franco. "But depending on what you want, then those things are noise. If anyone in this room were to look at him and think 'Hm, I want a long-term relationship with him', then his family name is noise, because it influences your decision- even subconsciously!- but doesn't actually inform whether or not a long-term relationship will be successful or not. Do you see what I mean?"]
[15:19] <Rora> "…I am unsure that I see any realistic solution to your quandary, if what you seek is for people to make decisions without influence whatsoever; existence doesn't take place within a vacuum." He shrugged. "On some level, we must be able to trust each other in spite of our inevitable biases, yes?"
[15:24] <Minaplo> ["I know we can't solve it perfectly, but we can minimise it." Said Franco. "Being able to trust each other, etcetera, sounds nice, but we're dealing with practical problems with actual ramifications. At the basic level, I'm talking about being doubly stringent on people who come from families like the Ayanamis. Make the testing and procedures a good deal more rigorous for them."]
[15:28] <Inara> "Wouldn't the logical thing to do under those circumstances just be to conceal their identities until they make it through and have established themselves properly?"
[15:32] <Minaplo> ["That would be the smart thing to do." Said Idris happily.-
[15:33] <Minaplo> ["But they'd have to conceal their identities from their families as well." Said Franco. "Unless those families had not even informal pull… Which is impossible because of the family's pull."]
[15:39] <Inara> "What if the families were in on the deception? If they're pretending not to know the kid until the time is right, while setting things up for after their big reveal."
[15:40] <Minaplo> ["And that's what I'm talking about." Said Franco excitedly. "When families like this start accumulating power, then eventually, there's going to be a kid who can't make it on ability, and has to rely on family connections to get 'em in. All that does is create a feedback loop of power flowing to the same family, except with a gradual increase in the people willing to abuse it."-
[15:40] <Minaplo> ["Basically, we're talking about a family of aristocrats."]
[15:49] <Rora> "I…" Rora sighed. "Franco, what you are suggesting - it is an enormous problem, with no real actionable solutions that I can see. If what you are saying is true, then the only option is to be prejudiced against Ayanamis on principle, which is obviously wrong."
[15:49] <Minaplo> ["I would argue that it's not obviously wrong at all."]
[15:50] <Rora> "…What?"
[15:53] <Minaplo> ["I'm not saying prejudice in the form of hate or exclusion." Said Franco. "I'm talking about a very specific form of prejudice related to the balance of power. It starts with understanding that our society, as a whole mechanism, is biased towards the Ayanamis, but in their favour. So we introduce a counter-bias with an intent to tip the scales back toward equilibrium. It's the same reason why if you screw up, it's Captain Hyuga who takes the blame, because her power brings greater scrutiny."]
[16:02] * Rora glowed in various troubled shades. "…I…still find this idea deeply objectionable. But, let us say this counter-bias is brought to bear. Can you truly trust that it will be free of any Ayanami influence whatsoever? Forever? And further, if we normalize that, then where does all of this stop? How do we decide which family is the next 'Ayanami'?"
[16:07] <Minaplo> ["Mr. Mist, I assure you that, as 'deeply objectionable' as you claim to find it, you practice this principle in your life for sure." Said Franco. "And you don't even realise it."-
[16:07] <Minaplo> [Franco opened his mouth to speak, when Gregory cut in.-
[16:08] <Minaplo> ["Commander, ship decloaking directly ahead!"-
[16:09] <Minaplo> [A small craft appeared in front of the Valletta. It was tiny- barely larger than a Superheavy- but its markings gave it away as an Overseer craft.-
[16:09] <Minaplo> ["We're being hailed." Said Gregory.-
[16:09] <Minaplo> ["Put it through, but notify the Captain." Said Franco.-
[16:10] <Minaplo> [The viewscreen resolved to show Planter, sitting in a chair, relaxed. "Good day to you, crew of the Valletta. May I speak to Captain Hyuga?"]

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