Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori

<Marianne> [[Session 38: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. Date: 25th January, 2017. Episode Title: The old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.-
<Marianne> [The NERV briefing room- a wide ampitheatre- was in use once more. The lights were on now, the computer projection screen unused. Marianne sat in a chair in the front row- next to her was Frederic, and next to him, Sophie. A uniformed, mildly scruffy-looking man- a new face- sat by the computer consoles.-
<Marianne> [The pilots were told to meet here at 9 AM- and not to be late. Currently, they were waiting.]
*Aline didn't intend to disappoint on that front, arriving a few minutes early… this time, noting the officialness of the situation, coming in NERV uniform, cleaned and pressed (since she didn't wear it tons anyway).
<Yanmei> The Violet Pilot made her arrival a little before nine, smiling at the crew, dressed in her officer uniform. She seemed to be in her usual pleasant mood today, although a little distracted.
*Sept sat there waiting as well, fiddling with some small, cheap-looking pendant - a memento from somewhere long ago that he'd rediscovered earlier that day. He was in his usual casual clothes, paying the rest of the room no particular attention.
<Marianne> [A few other people were there too. Ikari and Thomas were sitting up at the back in a recessive partition, Ikari looking neutral, Thomas looking slightly uncomfortable.-
*Marianne stood up. "Good. You're all here. I'm not going to waste time." She turned to the scruffy fellow. "Everyone, this is the new Tactical Operator for EVA-04, replacing myself. James?"-
<Marianne> [The man looked up, waving- his hand was missing its little finger. "James is the name. Dr. James Riel if you want to be, you know, specific."]
*Yanmei bobbed her head, smile flourishing a bit wider. "Welcome to NERV, Dr. James Riel. I'm Zhang Yanmei, pilot of 04. I'll be counting on your support~"
*Sept raised his head for a few moments to study Riel's face, before returning to his previous activity of being rather thoroughly indifferent.
*Aline leaned forwards slightly, blinking… but then she smiled cordially. "Greetings, Doctor."
<Marianne> ["Oh, hey. It's you. Aline, right? We met before."-
<Marianne> [Yanmei would, at this point, notice Rei subtly slipping into the room, taking a seat next to her, dressed in her NERV uniform.]
<Yanmei> Smiles, smiles, all around! She smiled at Rei too, in greeting.
*Aline blinked a bit. "Huh, we did? You… do seem familiar, ish. But I guess if I don't know from where then it's probably not really befitting an official briefing, even if it was just bumping into one another~"
<Sept> ["I guess you can't remember every man who's "seduced" you," W noted drily.]
*Aline just leaned back in her seat, stewing.
<Marianne> "The two of you can talk later." Said Marianne.-
<Marianne> "The reason for this briefing is probably still a mystery to you all, but… To put it simply, the Liberated Nations have started to move. In a -big- way. Big enough to require a structured briefing on their goals and capabilities."
*Sept perked up. "Big enough to require retaliation?"
*Aline waved her hand idly. "Even if, probably not immediately, right?"
<Yanmei> "At least, probably not by us…" Yanmei's eyes had narrowed slightly.
<Marianne> "Big enough to require immediate response, within the next two weeks."
*Sept nodded. "I see. Please go on."
*Aline remained silent, but her expression was definitely more serious now.
*Yanmei also held her tongue.
<Marianne> "James? Begin the uplink with the other branches."-
<Marianne> ["Yes, ma'am." James fiddled with the console, and the lights went dark.-
<Marianne> [Three special blue lights flickered into existence on the roof, projecting three independent holograms- Alphonse Wellesley, Augustus Harken and Misato Katsuragi.-
<Marianne> [At Yanmei's side, Rei shifted nervously.-
<Marianne> "Captain Katsuragi, if you please."-
<Marianne> ["Yes, ma'am!" Misato nodded, and the wide computer screen on the wall flickered to life, creating a projection of the world- before zooming in on Southeast Asia, then zooming in on Singapore.-
<Marianne> ["On the 19th of January, last week, that is- LN forces attacked the city of Singapore, destroying the Over the Rainbow Battlegroup and routing EVA-13. They used new Solace models capable of rapid underwater movement and amphibious deployment."-
<Marianne> [Photographs taken from EVA-13's combat computer activated, showing long-legged, thick-armed robots with cylindrical hands- Progressive Rams just visible under the armored collars- with smooth, vaguely fishlike heads and a slit on the very top. An array of thrusters and jets adorned its legs and torso.]
*Yanmei patted Rei on the hand absently, but most of her attention was on the photos. Talented technicians…
<Sept> "Are our Dreadnoughts capable of underwater deployment yet?"
*Aline stared at the photos as well, finding the units very… odd-looking. But obviously effective, so… "Er, Sera… as loathe as I am to admit, currently more of our power is in EVA technology, and even then we have a very limited number."
<Marianne> "The Dreadnoughts aren't designed for underwater combat, so even if they were, they'd be at a disadvantage. They're most useful as a gun platform or fire support platform." Said Marianne.
<Sept> "I will look into how they can be used to our -advantage-, then. For now, they will suffice as they are."
<Marianne> "Actually? That's my job. Your job is to pilot 01 and take orders. Too many cooks spoil the broth, especially amateurs. Keep that in mind."
<Sept> "Dorian seems to have bequeathed this particular task to me. You may go on."
*Aline gazed at Sera a little… oddly, but then remembered something, and just shook her head.
<Yanmei> "What? How? Owning stock in a company doesn't equate to having technical knowhow -or- the ability to apply it to military situations. Unless there's something you're not telling us?"
<Aline> "…He means the shareholder's obligation to improve the performance of the company, but this really isn't the time…"
<Sept> "Aline is correct," Sera nodded.
<Marianne> "We don't have time for this. We'll continue on."-
<Marianne> "But de Pteres? You are -my- subordinate. I have a rank, and that rank is 'Colonel'. That rank was granted to me with the intent that those who serve under me treat me with the respect that rank deserves. Either you speak to me with that respect, or you shut the hell up. Do I make myself clear?"
<Sept> "Of course. My intention was not to offend."
<Marianne> "Good. Alright."-
<Marianne> She turned back towards the map. "The attack on Singapore isn't unique. Scouting and satellite intelligence have reported four separate LN army groups on the move."-
<Marianne> The world map reappeared, with the UN territories (North America, Europe, most of Asia) being blue, with the LN territories (South America, most of Africa bar the north coast, and Southeast Asia) being red. Four large green dots appeared- one in Mexico, one in Mali, one in northern Sudan, and the 4th in Singapore.
*Aline scratched her chin. "So a directed, multifront assault… They must have had a sufficient chance to arm up with that technology, then… and of course now, we're presented with the problem of dealing with that."
<Sept> "That's right. But exactly what threat do the armies pose at their current locations, and exactly how will we react?"
*Yanmei tapped her heel against the floor a few times, but was otherwise quiet.
<Marianne> "With each army, the threat is measured by the size and strength of their superheavy units, as well as the surmised ability of their leader. As such, we'll begin by analysing the LN's First Superheavy Regiment."-
<Marianne> a cursor selected the dot in Mali, and another display appeared. This one was titled 'Estimated Strength'.-
<Marianne> [The display suggested that the First Regiment possessed roughly 30-50 Second Generation Solaces, as well as anywhere between 1 to 10 T-RIDEN-T units.-
<Marianne> [However, the two most intriguing points centred around something else. First: the leader was listed as "General Silas Caine", along with a picture of his recognisable face.-
<Marianne> [Secondly, the display listed the First Regiment as possessing "One B2-Class Positron Land Battleship".]
<Yanmei> "Now that's interesting. Their land battleship? Have we seen this thing in action yet?"
*Sept got a bit caught on Silas' picture, but eventually registered the other information, too.
*Aline raised a brow at the land battleship note, too. "…at least they're polite enough to make it blatantly clear they have positron weaponry. Not that I like how much trouble that causes any AT-field users."
<Marianne> "Indeed." Said Marianne. "We haven't seen it in action. However, we do know the basics. It's long- about 500 metres long- and it uses a massive positron power array to function. It hovers at a height of about 100 metres above the ground and acts as a platform for Solaces and T-RIDEN-Ts to use as a base. It's -bristling- with weaponry- bit weapons, too. Railguns, Positron cannons, you name it. Finally, it has a weapon at the bow that we've dubbed the 'Doomsday Cannon'- six Great Positron Cannons surrounding a larger, more powerful cannon that runs the length of the entire ship."
*Aline almost scoffed, but held it back. "That'd almost sound ridiculously overkill if I didn't pilot the class of weapon most likely to be its intended target."
<Sept> "I see. That'll most likely complicate any attempt to approach and engage directly, then."
<Yanmei> "Considering what a single positron cannon is capable of…" Yanmei frowned. "On the other hand, we just can't leave it alone."
<Marianne> "Yes and no. As powerful as it is, leaving it alone is suicide. However, for all of its strength, it has some verified and assumed weaknesses that'd make it a challenging, but winnable battle if we were to engage it… Were it not for its Solaces and T-RIDEN-Ts. We need to figure out a way of attacking it -after- depleting its superheavy complement."
<Yanmei> "Is the cannon mobile enough to fire at an angle that would reach orbit? Say, directly above it? Those Solaces can't be capable of reaching space on their own power, right? Maybe we could use an extra-long-range sniping tactic to bring down their numbers before engaging."
*Aline looked at Yanmei. "To be entirely technical, the gun can be anywhere, literally anywhere, as long as an AT-Tactician-role pilot can operate it in that location. Portals, remember?"
<Sept> "Or directly below it? An on-site detachment would greatly improve the efficiency of any sniper or artillery units."
<Yanmei> "I remember, thanks. I was looking for a place where we wouldn't be detected or ambushed ourselves by other units. Hence, space. Unless they have space-ready units too…?"
<Marianne> "Ahem."-
<Marianne> "To answer these questions- we don't know if the Doomsday Cannon can fire at an angle. However, the rest of the structure possesses long range weapons- Positron Cannons as well as Heavy Railguns- mounted on turrets that give it anti-air and anti-space capabilities. It doesn't sound like a stretch to assume they could hit an Eva through its own Dirac portal, either."
<Yanmei> "Hm, so much for that?" Yanmei leaned back, amicably. "Other options?"
*Aline nodded at that. "Ah, ah, that's… yeah. I know I pulled the same stunt myself a few times, and… well. I guess we can't really beat around the bush, can we? We just have to kill it to pieces with everything we can allow to be thrown at it, no?"
<Sept> "Like deploying an N2 device directly onto the Battleship?"
<Marianne> "The actual battleplan itself will take time to formulate and come into action once our other objectives have been cleared. There are still a lot of unknowns and other factors we need to take into consideration first."-
<Marianne> ["An N2 mine could work." Said Harken slowly. "But once you press the big red button there's no telling what might happen."-
<Marianne> ["Besides, they've probably taken something as obvious as an N2 strike into consideration." Said Alphonse, rubbing his chin. "Unless you were to use it in a certain way…"-
<Marianne> "In any case, our first actions regarding the First Regiment will be a defensive stance. We expect the First to move up through Algeria and into Spain before making for Paris, so we'll try to stop them in Spain."
<Yanmei> "…we're not going to try to stop them in Algeria? Does that mean we'll be evacuating and abandoning our base there?"
*Aline blinked. "…You know, there is that. Or are they just going to barrel past it for the main objective?"
<Sept> "I did say "directly"…" Sera muttered. "And do we have time to clear out the civilian areas in between?"
<Yanmei> "Would you? With the research and manufacturing facilities they have? Assuming that those were restored…"
*Aline shook her head. "…Depends on how desperately I wanted to hit the Paris-2 objectives, but point."
<Marianne> "Eden Base lacks the ability to adequately resist the Regiment by itself. Apart from being isolated, it's also understaffed. EVA-11 and EVA-16 aren't ready yet, and EVA-07 isn't able to defend Eden by itself. By pulling EVA-07 back, fighting a rearguard action when applicable, we can hopefully buy enough time to consolidate our defenses in Spain and repel the First Regiment. Once that's
<Marianne> done, 07, 11 and 16 can launch a counter-attack."
*Marianne turned to Sera. "The simple fact of the matter is that trying to 'clear out' the civilian areas in Algeria would be futile anyway."
*Sept shrugged. "They can decide their fate for themselves, then. I don't suppose there's a lot we can do in Spain in preparation?"
*Yanmei seemed to be directed by something, but it was a passing moment in which her frown deepened and her gaze fogged over a little.
<Yanmei> ^distracted
*Aline frowned at Sera, and thought. "…
<Aline> *Surely, there's… something that can be done to prepare in Spain. Moving EVAs at the very least. We /did/ have within two weeks."
<Marianne> "Yes, that's partly the reason as to why clearing out Algeria is futile- few Algerians want to leave. A good many of them prefer the LN to the UN." Said Marianne. "And in fact, there -is- quite a bit we can do in Spain. Should evacuating from Algeria buy us enough time, we can fortify some of the coasts and make the area fit for fighting."
<Sept> "That seems favourable, as long as they can't just go around us. The distraction will be welcome."
*Yanmei snapped back slowly. "The three of us are going to be on the front lines there too, I assume? Any special orders that we should be aware of yet?"
<Aline> "It seems likely we will be."
<Marianne> "That's right. That allows us to field a solid four to six Eva units in Spain alone." Said Marianne. "Orders-wise? Stick to a defensive mentality. Try not to pursue enemy units- remember, we're dealing with Silas Caine, and he'll undoubtedly try to divide and destroy the forces he faces. If you move out of formation, you'll probably be killed."-
<Marianne> ["There is one thing we would like to see, although it isn't necessary." Said Alphonse. "Try to disable enemy units as opposed to destroying them outright. Enemy superheavies we can disable like that allow us to capture and use them for ourselves, and we're rather lacking in the conventional superheavy department."]
<Yanmei> "Makes sense."
<Aline> "Especially given their power, too, as far as conventional units go."
<Sept> "We'll try, Alphonse. I'm sure we can work that into the plan itself, as well."
<Marianne> [Alphonse nodded.-
<Marianne> "One final thing regarding the First Regiment, before we move onto the others- Silas Caine. He's a priority target, although he's unlikely to ever take the field himself. If he does, however, take whatever pains you can to bring him down, within reason."
*Aline muttered something. "…Out of timeframe for salvage if possible…" But then spoke back up. "I'd certainly agree he's priority, sir."
<Sept> "We'll take care of him," Sera nodded.
*Yanmei nodded for her part as well.
<Marianne> "Any questions before we move on?"
*Aline shook her head. "Not on this part, ma'am."
<Sept> ["Did you have the intention of glossing over the possibility of the pilots facing captured NeoSpartans, Colonel? Or have they already advanced to the command of the other Regiments?"]
<Yanmei> "Captured? Or do you mean 'defected'?"
<Aline> "Given the conditioning, it's both, Yan-yan…" Aline said with a slightly pouty expression.
<Sept> ["The enemy's psychology is none of my concern. For whatever reason, the persons in question remain at their free use, and will quite royally fuck up your meticulous plans if not properly prepared for. Wouldn't be the first time."]
*Marianne shook her head. "Yes, of course it's a possibility. Keep that in mind, pilots, although I'm sure you were all aware of the fact. You may very well encounter Viviane Fournier and Edgar Chevalier piloting a T-RIDEN-T out on the field. Don't let it affect your personal judgement on the battlefield."
<Sept> "…what does that mean? We're… to treat them as every other combatant?"
<Marianne> "Yes."
*Aline waved a hand, though the seemingly devil-may-care implications of that gesture were totally nulled by the concerned look on her face. "We were told that we should try to disable the units for capture, anyway. So that isn't quite as terrible as it sounds. Though…" A frown, thus amplifying the prior effect. "It's still pretty bad. But if we let psychological warfare triumph against
*Aline us, we may well have already lost."
*Sept kept his eyes on Marianne for a few long moments, then turned his eyes back down. "As you wish."
<Marianne> "We'll try our best to get them back, Sera." Reassured Marianne, before she turned to Alphonse. "Captain Wellesley, would you like to brief us all on the Second Regiment?"-
<Marianne> ["Very well." Alphonse turned towards the computer screen, which realigned itself towards the Second Regiment- the one based in Mexico.-
<Marianne> ["The Second Regiment doesn't possess a Land Battleship. It's made up of the standard fare of 40-50 Solaces and a handful of T-RIDEN-Ts. However, the threat it poses is probably larger in the long term than even the First Regiment."]
*Yanmei scrutinized the image of North America with silent expectancy.
<Sept> "Because of their location, or something else?"
*Aline pondered that. "It… sounds like location, but it could be something else. I can't guess yet."
<Marianne> ["Two reasons. Firstly, the Regiment's led by Colonel Minerva Linden." He gestured towards the map- a photograph appeared of a smiling, unassuming teenage girl with straight black hair. "She was a friend of mine in the NeoAlexander Project- one of the few to graduate, like myself. She used to suffer from sometimes crippling depressive mood swings, but when she was firing on all cylinders
<Marianne> she could ruin me in a fair fight. Which this most certainly is. North America's defense falls to NERV Boston, but as of today the only Evangelion we have that's close to operational is EVA-08, which has consistently rejected every piloting candidate yet."]
<Yanmei> "So we have no advantage. And the distance from other NERV bases makes it difficult to get backup."
<Aline> "…Sounds pretty grim, really…"
<Sept> "Yes. Can't we send anyone over? Maybe Natasha?"
<Marianne> ["Hhn." Harken spoke up now. "The Leningrad Evangelions are being merged with the Berlin Evas to head off the Third Regiment before it can pick up steam." He said.-
<Marianne> ["EVA-09 and 10 -should- be functional within a month." Said Alphonse. "Still…"-
<Marianne> [Misato shook her head. "If it gets too bad, I'll send Shinji-kun over to help out."-
<Marianne> ["Ah. How does that sound then, de Pteres?"]
<Sept> "It is better than nothing. But a designated Boston pilot would still be ideal. We shouldn't have to compromise one branch's safety for the potential safety of others."
*Aline lowered her head. "…Only if he's not alone. They were able to rout a lone EVA. But… I figure you've already planned to only deploy teams." But, she did have this grim expression on her face. "Yeesh. If I were an Angel, this would be the best time to attack ever. Not that they really pay that much attention to human politics."
*Yanmei split a glance between the Singapore node and the one in Mexico, and her face hardened just a little. "That's another thing that's been bothering me? If all the active EVA units are fighting the LN, how do we deal with an Angel attack? Granted, the hope is that these individual battles don't take too long? But still…"
<Marianne> ["We'll see what we can do. Fielding any less than two Evas at once is suicide, so…" Noted Alphonse.-
<Marianne> "In regards to an Angel attack, the best thing we can do is hope that statistics continue to favour us, and the Angels attack us when we're in a position to defend against them. In other words, if an Angel attacks Paris-2, then we'll simply have to bring any available units to fight it- for the Parisian Evas, this means either flying back or, if we can, using Dirac manipulations. We've
<Marianne> managed to bring our Dreadnought complement up to three, and considering their performance in the Ramliel battle, they're definitely a big help, but we shouldn't rely on them to defeat an Angel by themselves."
*Aline nodded. "Given that the First Dreadnaught was blasted clear into the countryside by a maneuver that can be repelled with even the thinnest of spread AT Field patterns… Yes, best not to rely on them. But they'll at least delay the Angel until we can teleport in. Though…" Aline added. "Based on calculations from the s…pace force against Ramliel, you should know that a Dirac
*Aline teleportation probably needs at least three units together, maybe even four. So they may be forced to delay an Angel much longer than already anticipated, if we're forced to fly back."
<Yanmei> "It would be different if we captured enough enemy units to bulk up our forces to a point that we wouldn't be so dependant on the EVAs in the LN battles. Wishful thinking at this early point, though?"
*Marianne nodded slowly. "Sadly, yes. And that's a possibility as well, which is why it's important for EVA-07 to retreat to Spain and meet up with us." Said Marianne. "However…" She was staring at Sera thoughtfully.
<Sept> "Hmm." Sera stared right back.
<Marianne> "It's tempting to suggest that we leave EVA-01 with F-Type equipment to guard Paris-2 and give other units time to reinforce."
*Aline thought on that. "…Given how damnably durable 01 is, that /almost/ sounds reasonable. But I would think Sera should have some say in that, since there's still a sort of 'almost' to that reasonability."
<Sept> "It may be tempting, but I would not recommend breaking up the three of us. I have reason to believe what happened last time was not just a stroke of bad luck. And unless you have an alternate plan for dealing with the battleship, you may want to have us present as soon as possible."
*Yanmei looked uneasy herself. "The Angels are getting stronger, aren't they? Even if 01 -is- durable…"
*Marianne seemed pensive, essentially as if she'd heard the points before. "Hmm. It's something to think about, at least. Overstretching can be dangerous, but so can completely abandoning one front." She sighed. "If only all LN pilots were like Captain Tobias Linden, huh?"
*Aline raised a brow. "He was very polite about the whole Angel battle and berserk incident thing. But we won't even have that anymore."
<Yanmei> "…?" It took a second to make the connection based on heresay, and her frown shifted a little. "Colonel. About that battle in Singapore…"
<Marianne> "Yes?"
<Yanmei> "How badly was EVA-13 damaged? Do you think the result - with a forced retreat - would be duplicated if a single Parisian EVA was sent to the front instead of two of them? I don't like what those T-RIDEN-Ts can do to them, but if we were going to split the Parisian team up in any way, wouldn't that be preferable?"-
<Yanmei> "Two EVAs have a better chance of covering each other and surviving during an Angel attack than a lone one? And…" she frowned at the map. "There will be three other units there, hopefully, for support. The ones from Eden."
*Marianne turned to Misato.-
<Marianne> ["EVA-13's left arm was disabled, and whilst it could've continued fighting it took significant damage to every limb. Of course, Mass Production Evas tend to have significantly lighter armour- but on the same vein? The Aqua Solaces fired a -lot- of shots off. Most of them missed, but enough hit that, with a few more lucky shots here and there, we could've lost an Eva unit."-
*Marianne nodded before turning back towards Yanmei. "That's a good way of doing it. Leave two at home and send one to the front."-
<Marianne> ["Assuming you split them up at all. De Pteres is right about one thing." Said Alphonse. "The Paris-2 Evas -are- used to fighting as a unit, and splitting them up might affect unit cohesiveness. The Ayanamis are fine pilots-" There was a very brief moment where he glanced up at Rei, a smile on his face, before he glanced back at Marianne. "But they can't replace esprit de corps."]
<Sept> "The Evangelions are not separate beings, it goes beyond esprit de corps. But on the whole, Alphonse is correct."
*Aline smiled. "There is that. And we each fit roles as a single unit, down to variable ranges of engagement for each EVA and the like." She added something else, though. "…But another thing the Paris-2 EVAs are, is accustomed to fighting against Angels. However, we do have experience against human superheavies as well."
*Yanmei nodded. Suppressed a giggle at Rei in the seriousness of this meeting. "Hm. Quite frankly, we are at our best when the three of us are working together in battle. I guess it's one of those things that should only be considered in an emergency, then?"
<Marianne> [Rei glanced at Yanmei, clearly a little embarrassed.-
<Marianne> "Yes. It seems like." Said Marianne.-
<Marianne> "So then. Those are the major issues facing us as of this moment. The LN's Third and Fourth Regiments are threats as well, but we feel far more confident about facing them. If we're lucky, we might defeat them fast enough to swing around and relieve Paris and Boston of its burden."
<Aline> "Aye. Well, it's good to know that half of the enemy units aren't as bad as the other half."
<Yanmei> "Yeah, we're lucky," Yanmei muttered, referring to the map again. "It'd be great to put a stop to things in those areas soon."
<Marianne> "That it will."-
<Marianne> ["It'll be good to be out on the field again." Muttered Harken. "Idly. De Pteres."]
<Sept> "…Yes?"
<Marianne> ["I've had some of the boys in Hamburg whip up a new toy. A little birdie told me you have a fondness for grappling hooks and the like, so I figured I'd ask- would you care to test out an E-Scale rope blade?"]
<Sept> "I would not mind, no. I will have to judge whether such an implement is suitable for what is ahead, of course."
<Marianne> ["I'm sure you'll figure out how to handle it sooner or later."-
*Marianne nodded. "For the record, Captain Harken will be, as you know, striking into Egypt to attack the Third Regiment, which is led by a tough old boot named Manuel Medina Rubio. Captain Katsuragi will be trying to reclaim Southeast Asia from General Willem van de Laar. Keep those names in mind, just in case we have any nasty surprises. Speaking of which."-
<Marianne> [Misato nodded. "The Second Generation Solaces have received upgrades to their power plants. I won't bog you down with the details- long story short, they can be blown up safely without having to stick to headshots."]
*Aline smiled rather broadly at that. "No more screwing around trying to be careful with fission plants. Excellent!"
<Sept> "That's good news. Capturing them will be much simpler, as long as they still behave otherwise similarly. "
<Yanmei> "But they're still pretty heavily armored everywhere else, I'll bet. Unless one of their upgrades included changes to that too?" She looked almost hopeful.
<Marianne> ["Some of the specialised units- the Aquas, I mean- seemed to… Well, let's just say that whatever Sho hit with her Prog Sword, it didn't do a damn thing, alright?"-
<Marianne> "Also. A report from the Thruster Team suggests that the developers of this Aqua Solace were working off early-days templates drawn when the program was first laid down. Which means, if reports are correct, then you may at some point be facing aerial assault Solaces as well."
*Aline tilted her head back and forth. "Given that all EVAs are now aerial assault to one degree or another, that isn't that bad. And they'll probably have sliiightly lighter armor to get airborne without the AT Field crap we pull."
*Marianne nodded. "That's probably right. Either way, the standard rules apply- move fast, get in close, don't let them catch you still, and whenever possible, destroy them in one hit -or- disable them. Aiming for the legs is a good policy. Sera, getting in close fast will be your tactic of choice- Yanmei, melee combat for you when you're facing clumps of enemies, or short ranged firepower
*Marianne if facing alone ones. And Aline- try firing from long distance, or using your AT Field to destroy groups."
<Yanmei> "Yes, Colonel."
*Aline made a curt nod. "Acknowledged!"
<Sept> "Of course. We'll do our best."
*Marianne nodded. "One final note- the T-RIDEN-Ts. They may be big, but they go down fast. If they get set up the way they like, however, it'll ruin us- hit them hard before they can do so. Hit melee T-RIDEN-Ts with heavy weapons, and engage fire support ones in melee."
*Yanmei nodded, wishing that there weren't so many of them. "Right."
<Aline> "…Probably best to remember that…"
<Sept> "Concentrate and you'll avoid mistakes. We've done it before."
*Marianne nodded. "Alright. Any last questions?"
*Aline shook her head. "Not here."
<Yanmei> "None for now? But if I could have a private word with you when you have a moment, ma'am, I'd really appreciate it."
<Sept> "No questions…" Sera dug the pendant from a pocket and returned to examining it idly, waiting for the aftermeeting to die down.
*Marianne nodded. "Dismissed." She turned towards Yanmei.
*Yanmei waited for the connections to switch off and for people to file off before going ahead. "I'll see you later, Rei. Everyone."
*Aline wandered off probably last, casting a weird suspicious glance at W (if he was there as opposed to commenting from afar) and a less suspicious but still weird glance at James… before actually leaving.
<Sept> "Yes. See you, Yanmei." Sera walked out as well, as requested. He cast a curious glance at W on his way out as well. The latter… stayed just long enough to cast doubt as to whether he was going to leave at all. And then strolled out casually.
<Marianne> [Rei stared longingly as the Alphonse connection vanished (but not before they shared a little wave). Already Rei's hand was shooting into a pocket, grabbing a pink mobile phone. "Y-Yes. See you soon, Meimei." She followed the others out.-
<Marianne> [James just gave Aline his biggest not-a-pervert smile he could.]
*Yanmei couldn't help but smirk a little as Rei went off to do the obvious. She returned to seriousness soon afterward though, gazing a Marianne. "Just some clarifications about one or two things, Colonel. About the non-combatants stationed at Eden Base right now? Where will they be relocated to in order to avoid capture by the LN forces?"
<Marianne> "Do you mean certain little almost two year olds, by any chance?" Asked Marianne, a smile starting to form.
<Yanmei> "Um… m-maybe." She'd thought she was being subtle!
<Marianne> "You're so adorable when Lizzie comes up." Marianne was beaming now. "She'll probably be relocated to wherever we base EVA-07, in refugee housing or, perhaps, back in Paris-2, if Isabelle wishes it."
*Yanmei looked a little hopeful at that! "I'm glad…" To her credit, she was not doing the embarrassed substitute parent blush. "At least she'll be safe, wherever she goes, even if it turns out not to be here after all."
<Marianne> "She'll be in good hands, wherever she goes."
*Yanmei nodded… but then that hope started to dim a bit. "Speaking of refugees, have you heard about what's happening around the Beijing camps? When I was there at the beginning of the month, there were a lot of abductions going on. But they were strange…"
<Marianne> "Abductions? I haven't…"
*Yanmei nodded. "I know that that area is Director Zhang's jurisdiction, but… I don't think it's an issue with the NERV employees in the area. It's the civilians and Federation Reserve Forces. They've been attributing these incidents to dangerous looters hanging around after the city was demolished, but… the people doing it don't seem all that interested in valuables."-
<Yanmei> "They're targetting even small children, who wouldn't have much at all, and they've left behind the equipment used by abducted Reserve members. Stuff that would be valuable? There are no bodies, nothing."
<Marianne> "It's strange, you're right." Muttered Marianne. "here, let's sit down. I think I might be able to explain…"
*Yanmei took a seat, her face grim.
<Marianne> "There are a lot of reasons why people might go missing in that way." Said Marianne. "Can you think of any?"
<Yanmei> "Human trafficking comes to mind," she mumbled. "Or, it might be a scare tactic to turn survivors against the government and military for failing to protect them."
<Marianne> "Those are certainly possibilities." Said Marianne. "I'd say human trafficking would be a big part. Scare tactic… That's possible, but a little too complex. A little too conspiracy theory." She sighed. "In Second Impact, when people went missing… Well, do you want me to tell you a few stories?"
*Yanmei paused, and then nodded. "Please."
<Marianne> "I remember that sometimes, people would go missing, and when it wasn't human trafficking… Their families might end up being approached about ransoms. You'd be surprised how well this worked. There was a saying that the fastest organisations to recover from 2I were the crime organisations."
<Yanmei> "…" The wealthy Cao Ling kidnapped for ransom? That didn't seem to be too far of a stretch. It was almost a little embarassing, this realization. "You're saying that this is just the same thing?"
<Marianne> "It definitely could be. There are other alternatives as well. Ones worse than that."
<Yanmei> "I can imagine," she murmured.
<Marianne> "The thing you have to understand, Yanmei, is that catastrophes like this can bring out the best in some people, but the reverse is true. That's a cliche, I know, but it's true. Lots of people die, and you have some people just -snap-. They go insane. They might've lost loved ones, or the disaster sends them over the edge. But suddenly you have people acting like animals. Doing things
<Marianne> without reason or sense. Back during Impact, you had people vanish and were found dead, often mutilated- usually by the same few people who'd just started -killing-. Similarly, more than a few young girls were found raped in the ruins. It's a sad thing to contemplate, but the same thing is probably happening in Beijing too. It's the same thing that always happens."
<Yanmei> "Yeah. I understand." Depressing. She glanced down. "I've heard some stories. I guess I… just didn't make that connection? Heh. Blinded by sentimentality, maybe? Or I was thinking it was more organized than that." She nodded to Marianne. "Thank you, Colonel. I'd been thinking about it a lot."
<Marianne> "It's alright." She smiled. "Yanmei?"
<Yanmei> "Yes?"
<Marianne> "Don't forget what I just said, alright? Sometimes, all it takes is one bad day to turn some people into monsters. To make them do horrible things. We have to be better then that. We can't -ever- let ourselves reach that point. It goes double for us, because we're soldiers. We inflict pain and death as our way of life. We have our reasons for doing so, but at the end of the day, we can't
<Marianne> -ever- forget that by our actions, we are committing a deadly sin."
<Yanmei> "…" Yanmei nodded again, her eyes firm. "I'll remember that. I won't turn into a monster."
<Marianne> "I know you won't, sweetie. Now- why don't you go abduct that boy of yours and go have yourself a nice topside lunch?"
<Yanmei> "Hm? You won't be joining us?"
<Marianne> "Sorry. I've got a few things I need to take care of…"
<Yanmei> "Maybe another time, then?" Yanmei parted with a smile. "See you later, ma'am."
<Marianne> "See you, Sous-Lieutenant."

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