The Princess Of Wales S Request

[15:18] <Minaplo> ["… And ultimately," Said Gosselin, gesturing towards the holographic map, "The mission was a success above and beyond the projected estimates. The recovered soldiers are already looking to be redeployed to Kent, and none of our VIPs suffered anything worse than scratches."]
[15:30] * Raphael inclines his head modestly from his position next to the Captain, hands folded neatly in front of him. The short gap between their arrival on the battleship and the debrief was enough for him to find a clean uniform in his size and to wash the grime and sweat from his face.-
[15:30] <Raphael> All in all he looks rather presentable for a man who just survived a zombie apocalypse before being pursued by something that seemed to be drawn straight from Revelations.
[15:39] <Minaplo> ["What can we learn from this?" Asked Marianne. "Tactical opinions on the situation, Guillory?"]
[15:43] <Raphael> A thoughtful pause. "My primary concern right now is that we're facing an increasing number of hostiles with personal-scale AT capabilities, and we have no real way of dealing with them. Whatever hits we scored on the larger angelspawn were down to luck. With respect, ma'am, I'd recommend a continued focus on small-scale positron weapons or any other method to disrupt AT fields."
[15:48] <Minaplo> [Marianne nodded. "If only we had some way to reliably disrupt AT Fields on the ground…"-
[15:49] <Minaplo> ["The most reliable way is for entities on our side who possess AT Fields to join the battle, but we're short on those." Said Frederic.]
[15:55] <Raphael> "Indeed." He agrees, gazing thoughtfully at the projection for a moment. "… Beyond that, ma'am, I would wager that nothing short of a full deployment of Evangelions could retake England at this point, and we're already under enough pressure to make that difficult. In my opinion, we'd be best to direct our resources towards containment until we can do more."
[15:56] <Minaplo> [Marianne nodded. "Containment we can handle. We're already moving to fortify and proof a line from Kent through to Bristol. With any luck, we'll be able to hold that until a viable solution arises."-
[15:57] <Minaplo> ["What do you think the Committee response will be?" Asked Frederic.]
[16:02] * Raphael frowns very slightly. "… I couldn't really venture a guess, sir. Although I imagine that Councillor Shardlake will not be pleased that we're not doing more."
[16:05] <Minaplo> ["He should be grateful that he's alive at all." Said Marianne.-
[16:05] <Minaplo> ["Between Shardlake and Washington, that's two Councillors that barely represent a country." Noted Frederic.]
[16:09] <Raphael> "I'm not sure that's enough to honestly diminish their power, though." Raphael says, the faint frown staying firmly in place.
[16:11] <Minaplo> ["Arseholes." Growled Leon Thomas, sitting at Raphael's side.-
[16:12] <Minaplo> ["Ahem." Marianne coughed. "Well, we have a day before we're scheduled to send the SOS back to Paris. I have a few suggestions as to what you ought to do with that time, Guillory."]
[16:13] <Raphael> "Ah?" Raphael says, his professional demeanour slipping back into place as the frown disappears and he sits up a little straighter.
[16:21] <Minaplo> ["It might be a good idea to discuss the greater political situation with Raskova, see what NERV command and others think of this."]
[16:24] * Raphael shifts slightly, nodding. "… Of course, ma'am."
[16:26] <Minaplo> ["You may also want to speak to Princess Alexandrina." Said Marianne. "She's… We told her about her family, and she requested to speak to you."]
[16:28] <Raphael> Another frown, although there's a definite hint of sympathy there. "Why me?'#
[16:30] <Minaplo> ["Why not?"]
[16:33] <Raphael> "… Fair enough." He says after a silent moment, shrugging. "I suppose I just didn't expect to be dealing with royalty, ma'am. Child or not."
[16:35] <Minaplo> ["Would you rather stick with the low standard of elected head of states?" Asked Frederic wryly.]
[16:35] <Minaplo> <Heads of state*>
[16:37] <Raphael> "Your wit continues to astound, sir." Raphael says blandly.
[16:38] <Minaplo> ["In any case, Frederic has a point." Said Marianne. "Compared to President Linden…"]
[16:39] <Raphael> "True. I'll check in on her, ma'am. With everything that's happened, I imagine she needs /someone/ to talk to."
[16:40] <Minaplo> ["Her cousin's on board- he was on holiday in the south of England, we brought him in as a precaution- but you're right." Said Marianne.-
[16:42] <Minaplo> ["You might also want to have a word with our Varangians at some point." Said Frederic.]
[16:46] <Raphael> "I'll see to it." He says, giving them another nod. He gives the projection another long look, staring at the worryingly thin line that divides infected from uninfected. A small sigh.-
[16:46] <Raphael> "Will that be all?"#
[16:50] <Minaplo> [A nod. "You did well out there, Guillory." Said Marianne. "Good work."]
[16:54] <Raphael> For the first time in the debriefing, Raphael manages a small - if tired - smile. "Thank you, Colonel. I'm just pleased we managed to get almost everyone out safely." He says, pushing back his chair as he gets to his feet.#
[17:02] <Minaplo> [Thomas got to his feet as well. "Rurikovich seems surprised we suffered so few casualties."]
[17:03] <Raphael> "So am I, to tell you the truth."
[17:06] <Minaplo> ["Mmh. We were close. A few wrong strokes here and there and we'd all be dead. Well, you'd all be dead." He added bitterly.]
[17:09] * Raphael 's eyebrow raises a hair, giving Thomas a quiet look. "… Quite, sir." He says after a moment, before giving the three of them a sharp salute.
[17:10] <Minaplo> [Thomas salutes as well- a bitter reminder that Raphael actually outranks -him-.-
[17:10] <Minaplo> ["C'mon, I'll walk you out."-
[17:10] <Minaplo> [Frederic and Marianne return the salutes; or at least Marianne does. Frederic merely gives them a nod.]
[17:14] * Raphael lets his hand fall back to his side and favours the both of them with another smile - a friendly one, now that the meeting is done and he allows himself to consider them both as something other than his superiors.-
[17:15] <Raphael> And a moment later the door to the meeting room hisses open, and he ventures back out into the halls of the land battleship.
[17:28] <Minaplo> [Two Fire Regiment troopers are on guard outside the door, both of them throwing Raphael a salute as he passes.-
[17:28] <Minaplo> ["Look at that shiny new tech." Mutters Thomas as they walk out of earshot. "If we'd had some of that maybe we wouldn't have lost so many men in the Sea. Arseholes." He added bitterly.]#
#6[17:33] * Raphael returns the gesture on the way past, before he folds his hands behind his back and falls into step beside Thomas. "I'm not fond of the fact that they're being stationed within NERV, but there's no way around it. Even if everyone in Command understands exactly why they're being placed here…"
[17:37] <Minaplo> ["Yep." Spat Thomas. "But we can't deny that we're understaffed, either."]
[17:40] <Raphael> "No. Operating with our forces alone would make another situation like the Dirac debacle a massacre at best."
[17:40] <Minaplo> ["Mmh." Thomas grumbled.-
[17:40] <Minaplo> ["So where are you going now, then?"]
[17:43] <Raphael> "I think it'd be best to check on the Princess for now." Raphael says after a moment of thought. "I really shouldn't have seemed so hesitant back in the debrief, but being put in these situations is still… a little strange."
[17:44] <Minaplo> ["Right." Said Thomas with a brief nod. "I might go check in on the mob, then."]
[17:51] <Raphael> "Good idea, sir. Give Captain Kirkpatrick my regards."
[17:51] <Minaplo> ["Right, I will." Said Thomas gruffly as he plodded off.]
[17:53] * Raphael glances down at his watch for a moment, before turning down a different corridor and heading for the section of the ship where the princess was most likely to be staying.
[17:59] <Minaplo> [In one of the special quarters the battleship had set aside for VIPs such as her; Silas Caine had obviously seized upon an excuse to add yet more opulence to the ship.-
[17:59] <Minaplo> [Two Storm Troopers stood at guard outside the door.]
[18:02] * Raphael gives the more ridiculous bits of decor a look as he walks that seems faintly disapproving - while he hardly minded soldiers having a bit of comfort, years spent on aircraft carriers had instilled upon him an idea that This Was Not How Military Craft Should Look.-
[18:03] <Raphael> Still, he pauses in front of the guards, giving them a nod and a small smile and offering his ID.
[18:04] <Minaplo> [One soldier takes what seems like a cursory look before he nods. "Checks out, sir. I'll inform the princess."-
[18:04] <Minaplo> [He taps a button on an intercom next to the door- "Brigadier General Raphael Guillory requesting permission to enter."-
[18:04] <Minaplo> ["Let him in." Came a male voice.]
[18:07] <Raphael> A small frown at the unexpected voice, but it passes quickly. Another guard, most likely. "Thank you, soldier." He says with a second nod, tucking the ID away and putting on his most professional expression despite the bone-deep exhaustion the day had left him with.
[18:10] <Minaplo> [The door opens. Within is a bedroom- a spacious one, about the size of his apartment's living room and kitchen combined; despite the size, however, it lacks the egregious splashes of opulence that marks much of the battleship. A four-poster bed dominates one wall; its immaculate dark red blankets and sheets show it hasn't been used yet. A rich mahogany dressing table sits against the door's opposite wall, replete with mirror. A set of four velvet-lined chairs sit around a small round dining table.-
[18:12] <Minaplo> [There are two people in the room- he recognises the profile of Princess Alexandrina, standing at one of the windows, back turned to him. Next to her is a man- at best eighteen years old, with a youthful, keen face and a pair of glasses. His appearance is distinctly Eurasian, adhering totally to neither Western or Eastern features completely. It's the man who turns to look at Raphael, an expectant look on his face.]
[18:16] * Raphael scans the room - and the man within - warily, but he brings one hand up in a salute. "Pardon, sir. I hope I'm not interrupting, but I understand the Princess requested my presence?'
[18:18] <Minaplo> [The man turns to the Princess. "Should I leave, Vicky?"-
[18:19] <Minaplo> ["If you please, Niles." Said Alexandrina quietly. He nodded archly.-
[18:19] <Minaplo> ["I'll be back when you need me, Vicky." He turned and gave Raphael a quick nod. "General."-#
[18:19] <Minaplo> [A few seconds later it was just Alexandrina and Raphael, alone.]
[18:22] <Raphael> He holds the salute out of habit, waiting for her to turn or give him some acknowledgement. He barely even notices, the habit ingrained over the course of decades. What he does notice is that… well, that he's utterly uncertain about what he should be saying.-
[18:24] <Raphael> "… I apologize for the delay, Your Highness." He says eventually. "We had to attend to debriefings."
[18:29] <Minaplo> [She turns around, now, and returns the salute, although it's a salute in the British fashion. "That is quite alright, Sir Guillory."-
[18:30] <Minaplo> [She had a sombre face- but with the large, green-grey eyes and the silvery hair that frames her face, he'd realise that it was a face that looked sombre and solemn naturally.]
[18:32] * Raphael lowers his hand after a moment, but remains straight-backed where he stands. "You're unhurt, ma'am?"
[18:35] <Minaplo> ["Yes, thank you. It's due to your efforts and those of your soldiers that I am so. Please give them my regards."]
[18:37] <Raphael> "Of course. I'm sure Chief Sergeant Hugues will be pleased."
[18:37] <Minaplo> ["Was he the one who assisted my egress?"]#
[18:39] <Raphael> "Indeed, ma'am. I apologize for the rough treatment."
[18:40] <Minaplo> [The Princess shook her head. "No need to apologise. I trust you yourself are mostly uninjured?"]
[18:44] <Raphael> "I'm fine, thank you. We were lucky in that regard." He nods. "The casualties amongst your own forces and Squad R are a great loss, but considering the odds…"
[13:14] <Minaplo> [A grave shadow crossed her face. "Many more have given their lives, and many more still."]
[13:22] * Raphael hesitates at seeing that look on the face of someone so young. It shouldn't rattle him, not after seeing the same look a hundred times over during Second Impact, and then more and again during his time with NERV, and yet…-
[13:22] <Raphael> "You needed me for something, Your Highness?"
[13:29] <Minaplo> ["You are correct, Sir Guillory." She looked away for just a second, a tiny glipse at vulnerability- but a second later she was staring Raphael squarely in the eye, her face a granite mask of stern determination. "I wish to be educated in the ways of war."]
[13:42] <Raphael> "…" Raphael's own expression remains almost as unmoving, but the pause and a fractional raise of one eyebrow would be enough to give away his surprise to anyone paying attention. "I… see." He says slowly. "Because of what happened in London, ma'am?"
[13:46] <Minaplo> ["More accurately, due to what is happening in all of Britain." Said Alexandrina, her voice as stern as her face. "I won't sit idly by when others are dying in my place."]
[13:57] <Raphael> A small nod of assent from Raphael at that. "And are you sure I'm the right person to provide you with these lessons, ma'am? While I understand your reasons, most of my experience lies in small unit tactics and aerial warfare, and unless I misunderstand you you're looking for something… broader. NERV has many people far more skilled in those areas than I am."
[14:02] <Minaplo> [She nodded. "A reasonable observation, but if I am to be educated in matters of warfare I wish to be educated in all facets. It's true that you may not be able to provide me with strategic training, but in those areas you mentioned- as well as that of personal combat- you are quite accomplished."]
[14:19] <Raphael> "Personal combat as well, hmm? Not a terrible thing to consider." He asks, pausing to consider the idea. "… Well, Your Highness, I'll have to discuss the idea with my superiors when we return home, but I personally can't find any fault with the idea. Although I would ask that you don't hurry to put yourself in further danger, after everything that's happened."
[14:22] <Minaplo> [She nodded. "I understand your concern. But my father-" She broke off for a second, staring with faraway eyes at the table; she blinked several times then turned her gaze back to Raphael. "… At the very least, my father may have lived long enough to escape his ship if he possessed combat training. At the very least, it is a matter of personal safety, and at most- a desire to #actively#take back my country."]
[14:35] <Raphael> "I completely understand, ma'am." He says after a moment, voice and posture softening as Alexandrina mentions her father. "… You'll have to forgive me, ma'am, it's probably wrong to ask this so directly, but are you alright?"
[14:46] <Minaplo> [Alexandrina took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a few seconds. Her expression was composed and collected, but Raphael knew from experience the faint signs of a strong composure pushed to breaking point. "In truth I am not, Sir Guillory. A part of me- thinks I should have died just as Britain is dying, as everything seems hopeless right now." She took another deep breath and stood tall- and Raphael would probably notice that, back straight and head up she was a little taller than he was. "There is nothing I can do except soldier on, however, so that is what I will do."]#
[15:06] <Raphael> "Understood, ma'am. And you're right not to let it destroy you." He says gently. "… If I may, though? Please try not to take it all upon yourself. Find someone you can trust and let what you're feeling out, and do it before you bury it too deep." And despite his carefully professional tone, something about his voice conveys a heavy weight of experience on that point.
[15:08] <Minaplo> [Alexandrina nodded sombrely. "Thank you for your concern, Sir Guillory. I'll keep your advice in mind."]
[15:10] <Raphael> "Thank you, Your Highness." He says, resuming his former, more professional stance. "Did you require anything else?"
[15:10] <Minaplo> ["That is all for now, Sir Guillory. Thank you for your time."]
[15:12] <Raphael> "Not at all, ma'am." He says, and with another salute he turns on his heel and heads for the door.

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