This Too Shall Pass 3 1 13

[09:42] <Yanmei> Yanmei tossed her hair as she headed along one of the hallways containing the officer quarters on the Dorian Lachapelle. Boarding was still a complicated business, with many rooms still being damaged, a few containing multiple people, and lots of personnel being temporarily assigned to the Geofront and the Liberty Bell instead of the battleship to clear up more space. Fortunately, the good crew had gotten at least two or three guest rooms back into livable condition. One of them had a pair of esteemed guests staying in them right now, in fact. -
[09:43] <Yanmei> This room was where Yanmei stopped, primping one last time before pressing the little buzzer next to it. "Open open~"
[09:50] <Minaplo> [The door lock turned green, and opened.-
[09:54] <Minaplo> [Mazarin was sitting there, wearing a sharp austere grey suit with a plain red tie. He sat behind his desk, working away on a computer.-
[09:54] <Minaplo> [Anchored on the wall to his right was a teleconference monitor, which he'd been using to talk with his aides and ministers.-
[09:55] <Minaplo> ["Hello, Yanmei." He said with a small smile. "Please come in."]
[09:57] <Yanmei> "Mr. President," Yanmei said cheerfully. She did come in, finding a chair for herself. "How've you been?"
[10:01] <Minaplo> ["Very busy. I'm sure you're familiar with the experience."]
[10:09] <Yanmei> "Crazy busy," she agreed. "Lots of meetings and… war. You know how it is."
[10:10] <Minaplo> ["Quite."-
[10:13] <Minaplo> ["You have without a doubt read about the founder of the French Fifth Republic and war hero Charles de Gaulle?"]
[10:18] <Yanmei> "A little…"
[10:26] <Minaplo> ["He founded the Fifth Republic, the political system in which France currently resides, because the system of the Third and Fourth republics was too brittle, too polarised. In 1938, Leon Blum- a socialist- served as Prime Minister. His opposition voiced their beliefs quite succintly: 'Better Hitler than Blum'."-
[10:27] <Minaplo> ["And of course they got their wish. Isn't that interesting? When the Germans invaded in 1940, many influential personalities in the government and the military decided they would prefer a fascist German regime over a socialist French one."-
[10:28] <Minaplo> ["After the war ended, this same political system was resurrected, and for 18 years it led to the same problems. In 1958, there was a crisis in Algeria- a French territory," he said with a small, knowing smile.-
[10:28] <Minaplo> ["France was on the brink of revolution and civil war. Powerful elements, including the military, demanded that Charles de Gaulle be installed as the head of a new government."-
[10:29] <Minaplo> ["And he was. He created our Fifth Republic, with its political system designed to give greater powers to the executive- the President."-
[10:29] <Minaplo> [Mazarin shook his head, smiling wryly.-
[10:31] <Minaplo> ["And ten years later, in the May of 1968, an even larger crisis shook the country. Strikes! The world's first ever national general strike. Students protesting, seizing universities… It was a social revolution, and it brought the entire economy to a halt."-
[10:32] <Minaplo> ["De Gaulle cracked down, but like so many times in history that only enflamed the people. Everything worsened…"-
[10:32] * Retrieving #nervfrance modes…
[10:32] * Waiting 9 seconds for previous request
[10:33] <Minaplo> ["So here, at the height of a revolution, the country in chaos, what does the founder of France's new political system, the one that empowers the President, what does he do?"-
[10:35] <Minaplo> ["He flees to Germany!" Said Mazarin. "For several hours, the location of the President of France is a mystery. No one knows where he is. The government loses its head. The Prime Minister is offered a firearm to protect himself. Bureaucrats begin burning documents. Ministers start trying to flee the country. Others empty their bank accounts."-
[10:35] <Minaplo> ["Of course, after that he came right back, although he resigned after a year."-
[10:37] <Minaplo> [Mazarin gave Yanmei a grim smile. "Now, let's look at the modern day. France's President has been gone for two weeks. And this time the crisis is far greater than some striking workers. A hundred years after the end of World War One, Germany's once again beating at our door, and I was nowhere to be found."-
[10:38] <Minaplo> ["You cannot even begin to imagine what I'm having to do right now to put things back in order. The things we are going to have to do."]
[10:45] <Yanmei> "…" -
[10:49] <CakeyCake> "'We'? Um… You mean letting you go back to the Grand Palais, ASAP?"
[10:52] * CakeyCake is now known as Yanmei
[10:53] <Minaplo> [Mazarin chuckled.-
[10:54] <Minaplo> ["No, Yanmei. I mean you're going to have to work together to confront our gravest enemy. I mean, of course, the French Parliament."-
[10:57] <Minaplo> ["I've been gone for two weeks! We're lucky they haven't managed to set fire to the Palais Orleans." He said, shaking his head.-
[11:01] <Minaplo> ["In my absense, Parliament's had to run everything themselves, and without me there to play the system, they've started getting ideas. My opponents in the UMP are using it as an argument to reverse my reforms and force a dismissal of my cabinet. My enemies in my own party, the Socialists, are using it to try to weaken me. Then you have all these other opportunists…"-
[11:01] <Minaplo> ["And if you think I'm the only one in risk of being tarred and feathered, you are very mistaken. As far as they're concerned, you and I have dragged France into a war, and you and I together will have to soothe their worries."]
[11:04] <Yanmei> "So what's the quickest, easiest way to do that? Or to, alternately, weaken them so much that they can no longer be a threat?"
[11:06] <Minaplo> ["Military coup?"]
[11:07] <Yanmei> "R-really? You think we should do that?"
[11:09] <Minaplo> ["Of course not." He said. "If the Federation leads a coup of one of its most powerful members, that'll only weaken our greater strategic position. You know how paranoid those Soviets can be…"-
[11:09] <Minaplo> ["But you did say quickest and easiest. Unfortunately 'quick and easy' isn't an option here. If you want to come out of this without losing something valuable, you and I are going to need to do this the old fashioned way: outplay the bastards."]
[11:14] <Yanmei> "By telling the truth. And spinning it like crazy."
[11:16] <Minaplo> ["More than that. I'm going to give them you."]
[11:16] <Yanmei> "What."
[11:16] <Minaplo> ["Allow me to explain." Said Mazarin.-
[11:19] <Minaplo> ["These politicians know that they can't just attack me directly. If we were less popular, then perhaps, but in truth we have both flattered France's people with good living and firm defense, and they regard us well for it. Their entire plan of attack is to erode away our credibility in stages."-
[11:25] <Minaplo> ["And so I'm going to push you forth, draw attention to you, and they'll take it like piranhas. Do you know the three things which make you such an attractive target?"]
[11:26] <Yanmei> "I'm afraid to ask," she said slowly, "but what?"
[11:29] <Minaplo> ["The first element is that you're an outsider. You aren't famous because of money. You aren't here because you've spent years making connections or dealing in favours to special interests. You're a political intruder, a nobody who burst into the political spotlight because of their glorious military performance. These entrenched politicians know that when that happens, when people like
[11:29] <Minaplo> our friend de Gaulle or, of course, Napoleon Bonaparte, reach power like that, it rarely goes well for them. The fact that you're a foreigner only makes it more galling."-
[11:33] <Minaplo> ["The second element is that you're seen as inexperienced. You've gone from dealing in mostly personal combat to suddenly acting as the head of an international superior body… They know that you work closely with people such as myself and the American President. To them, that doesn't smack of prodigious talent, it smacks of puppetry. Of you being a figurehead. They think that if you're
[11:33] <Minaplo> forced to stand on your own two feet without Linden and I supporting you directly, feeding you answers, that you'll collapse like a house of cards."-
[11:35] <Minaplo> ["And finally, the third element is that you are a young female." He said solemnly. "In the eyes of the old men of Parliament, that by itself makes it hard for them to take you seriously. To them, you should be at home, hitting the books and studying for your baccalaureat, or else be obsessed with things such as clothing or makeup or boys or music. Frivolous. That's what they see. What's
[11:35] <Minaplo> what they expect."-
[11:35] <Minaplo> ["But you and I know differently, don't we?"]
[11:38] <Yanmei> "Of course!" Yanmei huffed, irritated at the mere implication. "We'll show those old fools what a young woman can do!"
[11:44] <Minaplo> ["Yes, yes we will."-
[11:45] <Minaplo> ["Which is why when the Parliament summons you to face a full house inquiry before their full number, you will go, alone, and answer their questions, alone, and you will humiliate all of them. Alone."]
[11:46] <Yanmei> "…"
[11:47] <Minaplo> ["I have every confidence that you will verbally, intellectually and socially destroy them." He said warmly. "Whole careers will be left in tatters by your passing. I might sell tickets."]
[11:54] <Yanmei> "Of course, there will be time for lots of coaching before I have to go in. Alone. Right?"
[11:56] <Minaplo> ["There will be…"-
[11:56] <Minaplo> [He peered over at his computer.-
[11:56] <Minaplo> ["Time for three days of… Advice-giving on certain matters." He said.-
[11:57] <Minaplo> ["But by and large this has to be seen as your work. As coming from you. You need to speak with your own voice, not ours. We can give you outlines on what you're likely to encounter in their questioning, but the answers should be your own."]
[12:01] <Yanmei> "And this is really going to help you and the UEF too? Really for sure?"
[12:02] <Minaplo> ["It won't put an end to our troubles, but it'll weaken our political opponents for some time and give you real political credit."-
[12:03] <Minaplo> ["After all, if they're allowed to succeed, you might find that I've been replaced with a much more recalcitrant leader." He said calmly. "One who might be willing to sign a treaty with Germany and the UN and leave the UEF to fend for itself."]
[12:08] <Yanmei> "And what do we do if something goes wrong? B-by sabotage, of course, because that's the only way it would? I wouldn't put it past Caine to sneak a bomb under the podium I'll be using, or to pay someone in Parliment to be extra mean and bring up all sorts of lies, or to pull the fire alarm when I'm in the middle of a speech…"
[12:11] <Minaplo> ["We'll have our security detail be sure to go over everything three and four times." Said Mazarin. "And if they pull the fire alarm, then we'll simply reschedule."-
[12:11] <Minaplo> ["And if you think a politician needs to be paid by Mary Caine in order to lie then you may be giving them too much credit."]
[12:15] <Yanmei> "You're probably right about that," Yanmei muttered. "It looks like you've thought of everything?"
[12:19] <Minaplo> ["It's a talent."-
[12:20] <Minaplo> [He folded his hands together and peered keenly down at her with those piercing, stern blue eyes of his. "Why don't you meet back here tonight? President Linden, myself, your mother, Fontaine and Delacour will all be here to help give advice and outline the challenges."]
[12:21] <Yanmei> "My -mother- too?"
[12:22] <Minaplo> ["Unless you'd prefer she didn't come…?"]
[12:23] <Yanmei> "W-well. I mean. It's not like I'm insecure? She can come if she wants…"
[12:26] <Minaplo> ["The choice of course is with you."-
[12:26] <Minaplo> ["It might also be worth bringing along those two snakes from Seele, but that's your choice…"]
[12:27] * Yanmei groaned. -
[12:29] <Yanmei> "I guess there's no one better to pick out flaws and outline underhanded tactics and such. Maybe we should have left them in Singapore…"
[12:33] <Minaplo> ["Left them? No. Even in this state, they are at least out of the enemy's grasp."-
[12:33] <Minaplo> [Mazarin sighed, leaning back in his chair. "It really is a bother, all of this. Having to settle the fools in the gallery so we can get along with the job."]
[12:36] <Yanmei> "But it's something you seem used to. Like it's part of the job?"
[12:39] <Minaplo> ["It is part of the job. Let me be clear, Yanmei. This is my tenth year in office, and for much of that time my modus operandi has been to embroil Parliament in conflict with each other, with the idea that if they're busy fighting themselves they'll be too busy to notice me quietly working away."-
[12:43] <Minaplo> ["It has worked, but… The effort." He shook his head.-
[12:44] <Minaplo> ["Does it seem worth it to you? The system, I mean. Look at these old fools. We're stuck in a war, and all they can think about is toppling the leader."]
[12:47] <Yanmei> "Without the system you wouldn't be here, though? And in the next ten or twenty years, you'll step down and a new person will become president, and that same system will keep him or her in line if they're a raging jerk. So maybe it has its upsides too."
[12:49] <Minaplo> ["Let me ask you a different yet related question. Do you think I'm a good leader?"]
(02:53) * Yanmei blinked in surprise. "Of course? You're one of the strongest ones I know."
(02:53) <Minaplo> ["Pardon me, I don't mean good as in skill or strength, but good as in morality, ethics."]
(03:02) <Yanmei> "Yes, as far as I'm concerned. It's impossible to lead a country or… a military faction without some gray morality. But you're not harvesting the souls of the dead or financing the production of clones or gods. I think you're doing the best you can and that you're trying to do what's right by the people following you. Right?"
(03:05) <Minaplo> ["But that doesn't give me carte blanche to commit moral wrongs. Unless you're saying it does? Certain ones, at least."]
(03:17) <Yanmei> "No, it doesn't. Just, it's a little complicated. Where is this coming from, if I may ask?"
(03:18) <Minaplo> ["Let me make a statement to you."-
(03:18) <Minaplo> ["The worst thing a leader can be is not to be evil, but to be incompetent. Do you agree?"]
(03:19) * Yanmei nodded quietly.
(03:22) <Minaplo> ["In that case, by what reason do we tolerate incompetent leaders like the ones I deal with in Parliament?"]
(03:24) <Yanmei> "Because we can't get rid of them? Or because they have something that makes them valuable in spite of their incompetence."
(03:25) <Minaplo> ["Quite. We can't get rid of them. The only 'proper' way to replace them is through fickle elections."-
(03:26) <Minaplo> [He sighed, swivelling his chair to the right. "I think I've grown bitter in my old age. I wasn't quite so hostile to the system when I was a young man."-
(03:27) <Minaplo> ["But I can't shake this dislike for… Democracy, I suppose. Or at least our versions of it. It feels like a system that prevents the abuse of poor leaders but shackles the hands of good ones, as well. A system of mediocrity."-
(03:30) <Minaplo> ["And honestly in my later years I admit to feeling it doesn't do enough to prevent poor leaders from abusing the system." He said. "When Linden knocked over the United States, she realised that the only way to uproot the deep corruption in its political class was to abolish said class and replace them with AI. France isn't so far gone, of course, but money and favours have their say, and their capital can often outweigh the capital of the people."-
(03:33) <Minaplo> ["I try to run a government for the people, Yanmei. I think I've done well. I don't want to see civil rights curtailed. I want a society where the best can rise to the top. I'm just not sure this system is facilitating that as well as it could."]
(03:36) <Yanmei> "What system would?"
(03:38) <Minaplo> ["Well." He smiled thinly. "One thing's for sure: the idea of our species being ruled by an immortal emperor or empress on a throne of souls is not exactly what I would call a solution…"]
(03:43) <Yanmei> "Fully agreed?" Yanmei sighed. "If only everyone felt that way…"
(03:50) <Minaplo> ["That's part of the problem, isn't it?" He said.-
(03:51) <Minaplo> ["If being ruled by a god-emperor is what's best for humanity, does its competency outweigh the fact that our choice means nothing? After all, as they say, no one dissents in Heaven."-
(03:58) <Minaplo> ["Then again, the ninth President of the United States, William Henry Harrison, said the following: 'We admit of no government by divine right. The only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed'. An idea engraved into the hearts of our societies, that- that the right of power comes from the people. Yet if a system serves the people poorly…?"-
(03:59) <Minaplo> ["Ah. You don't need to listen to me wax sorrowful about politics." He said wryly, shaking his head.]
(04:06) <Yanmei> "No, you raise some good points. Even if the system is flawed, at least it was something decided, in theory, by 'the people'." -
(04:16) <Yanmei> "It sounds to me like a group that doesn't have a choice in what happens to them will either stagnate or turn bitter and rebel. Neither of which is all that good? Well. Rebellion can be. But that itself is a choice too, right?"
(04:18) <Minaplo> ["Hmm…"-
(04:19) <Minaplo> ["Maybe. Or maybe not." He said. "There have been many people in history who've given no right of power to their people, yet been celebrated. I think many people really are quite happy if they live in a competent system that meets their needs and lets them be."-
(04:19) <Minaplo> ["My name is mud in Spain after the aquisition of the country. Its people were up in arms, rioting, striking…"-
(04:22) <Minaplo> ["Yet when the Spaniard in the street realised that he was going home with one and a half times his usual pay, buying food that was a quarter of the price it had once been, and paying rent that had dropped by a hundred francs… All of a sudden the fight seemed to go out of them."-
(04:22) <Minaplo> ["Of course, there have been many wars of independence around the world. I just wonder how many of them are started by happy, well-fed people earning good wages."]
[22:59] <Yanmei> "Maybe not a lot?" Yanmei admitted. "But there's traditionally at least a bit of the aristocracy involved in every rebellion, right? People who have the time and money to learn about the government and to compare it to others around the world…"
[23:07] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, naturally, you have the idealistic elite. The ones with ideas. But they draw their drive from lofty sources, things like theories and ideologies and writings. Many of them have always lived in economic security. They don't have the experience of what that insecurity feels like. Those who have felt it might have ideals, of course, but take away that insecurity and they'll forget those ideals out of fear of returning to that stage."-
[23:10] <@Minaplo> ["And honestly, who can blame them. If a system provides you with steady and satisfactory income, comfortable shelter and the security of knowing tomorrow will be as safe as today, well… Isn't that what a system's supposed to provide?"-
[23:13] <@Minaplo> ["But I don't need to tell you that most of the time, if the aristocracy rebels, it isn't to seize economic security or obtain their own prosperity. It's to protect what is already their own from encroachment, either from a powerful overlord or from a powerless underclass. The elite is traditionally conservative in this regard, because to protect the status quo, nine times out of ten, means to protect their own prosperity."-
[23:16] <@Minaplo> ["I can give you a dozen examples." He said. "In France alone you have a dozen counter-revolutions where conservative or reactionary elites worked to restore the status quo… From attempts to restore the ancien regime all the way up to those little snakes to gave France over to the Nazis."-
[23:17] <@Minaplo> ["Have you heard of la Fronde?"]
[23:19] <Yanmei> "'The sling'…?" She tried to think back to her history classes at school. "Um. Of course? But I wouldn't mind a refresher…"
[23:21] <@Minaplo> ["The Fronde was a series of civil wars in French history. 17th century, during the reign of le Roi-Soleil, Louis XIV- although he was only a young boy then."-
[23:25] <@Minaplo> ["One one side, you had, at first, the French parlements courts of appeals, one in particular- the Parisian one- capable of limiting the acts of the King. Later on, you had nobles and princes."-
[23:27] <@Minaplo> ["And they were fighting against the King. Well, not him personally, but against his royal court. You see, the previous Chief Minister was a man named Richelieu. Cardinal Richelieu. And, long story short, he embarked on a program to curtail the power of France's aristocracy and concentrate the power of the state in the hands of the king. When Richelieu died, this task was taken up by his successor, another cardinal."-
[23:28] <@Minaplo> ["The nobles weren't fighting to overthrow the king, per se, or to correct some injustice. They were fighting to protect feudal liberties, such as exemptions from taxation or the right to block the powers of the royal court. At the time, things were so disorganised that a king might issue an edict, but a lord in this land would refuse it, or a lord in this land might twist it around…"-
[23:29] <@Minaplo> ["In any case, the situation, which had benefitted the nobility for so long, which had allowed them to protect their wealth and control the peasants and the bourgeois classes was coming to an end. And they fought and squealed to let the party continue."-
[23:30] <@Minaplo> ["And of course a mighty war had just ended in Europe- the Thirty Years War-"-
[23:31] <@Minaplo> [He leaned forward. "And if you ever learn about the fundamentals of the sovereign state, you will study this war and the treaty of Westphalia, which ended it-"-
[23:33] <@Minaplo> ["And at the time, the nobility still more or less controlled the military, as in they led the armies, so on and so forth."-
[23:34] <@Minaplo> ["Long story short? The nobility failed. Their forces were spent, their energies wasted. It was the last time the aristocracy tried to curtail the rise of the king. They failed, and the door was open to make France a powerful, centralised state with a powerful central leader."-
[23:40] <@Minaplo> ["And some hundred and fifty years later, the King's great-great-great grandson was brought low by the French Revolution. A new, 'popular' government, run by a gifted, steadfast, idealistic lawyer named Robespierre- one of those promising elites we discussed earlier- dragged that grandson before a guillotine and beheaded him. He was only the first. Over the next two years, the popular government's Terreur saw tens of thousands die… All in a conflict between two new parties of elites fighting over the control of the state."]
[23:52] * Yanmei listened quietly, with the hope that she would remember it longer than she had the stories she'd heard in history class. "Well. I guess one thing we can say is that we aren't exactly in danger of having the same thing happen nowadays. Right…?"
[23:52] <@Minaplo> ["Do you know what happened to Robespierre?"]
[23:54] <Yanmei> "Did he end up dead? He must have made a million enemies, after all."
[23:55] <@Minaplo> [Mazarin smiled humourlessly.-
[23:57] <@Minaplo> ["The idealistic young lawyer, the man who burned with passion for the rights of mankind, who wished to bring about a just republic, who hated unscrupulousness, who loathed incompetence, who hated crooked government- why, he was convicted as a dictator as a tyrant and as an enemy of freedom. He died beneath the guillotine like the King before him."-
[23:59] <@Minaplo> ["They called Robespierre l'Incorruptible for his stoic, pure dedication to his ideals. He was driven by nothing but the realisation of his dream. Yet that didn't stop him from preaching that terror could be used to bring about his ideal world of pure virtue. That didn't stop him from meeting the same fate as his predecessor, did it?"-
[00:01] <@Minaplo> ["Tell me this. If such a man can be convicted of tyranny, and rightfully so, who are we to say that we don't face the same danger? Truly, when you think of these things- a hatred of incompetence, unfailing conviction to one's ideal, and the willingness to see atrocities done for it…"-
[00:01] <@Minaplo> ["Who is it that you really see in your mind's eye?"]
[00:05] * Yanmei pursed her lips together. "That could be used to describe a lot of people. But you're talking about -her-, aren't you? Caine?"
[00:06] <@Minaplo> ["Of course."-
[00:09] <@Minaplo> ["In all this time, have you never wondered what it is Mary Caine fights for? What ideal could be so precious to her that she would see the deaths of millions done in its name?"]
[00:16] <Yanmei> "It's irrelevant at this point, isn't it? If she hasn't even tried to sway the resistance against her by telling people what she wants, then it can't be all that grand."
[00:17] <@Minaplo> [Mazarin shook his head slowly.-
[00:18] <@Minaplo> ["That isn't good enough, Yanmei. Tell me, whose fighting style is easier for you to predict? Ayanami Rei's, or the Solomon who you fought during my assassination attempt?"]
[00:21] <Yanmei> "…? Rei's of course."
[00:22] <@Minaplo> ["Of course. Because you're familiar with her, and you know how she thinks. If you know how someone thinks, you can to a point predict what they're most likely to do- simply put, the more you know about a target, the greater power over them you have. This is Ephraim von Brandt's preferred weapon. And it is a sharp rapier indeed."-
[00:23] <@Minaplo> ["So I'll ask you again: have you never wondered for what cause Caine fights?"]
[00:27] <Yanmei> "It would be useful to know," she said warily, still a bit sullen.
[00:28] <@Minaplo> [He pulled open a drawer of his desk and pulled out a small book, which he threw in front of her.-
[00:28] <@Minaplo> ["Caine wrote this shortly after graduating from university. It's a political treatise."]
[00:29] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei stared down at it, her eyebrows creeping higher. -
[00:30] <Yanmei> "How long have you had this?"
[00:30] <@Minaplo> ["Let's see. Do you remember the last time we met at the chateau de Orleans?"]
[00:32] * Yanmei nodded, still staring. "That was… a long time ago."
[00:32] <@Minaplo> ["Yes. Well, I stole this book from de Orleans' library on that very day. I had to wait for a meeting where he would have more than one prominent guest, both of whom he would be, for various reasons, unwilling to openly accuse."-
[00:33] <@Minaplo> ["And as it turned out, you were a perfect, if unwitting accomplice. I now share with you the bounty of my larceny."-
[00:35] <@Minaplo> [The book's cover was plain, light cream. It had, on the bottom, Mary Caine's name on it in a very basic font. The book's title was 'The Ever-Distant Virtue'.-
[00:36] <@Minaplo> ["As you can tell, it looks like it was printed by a very off-the-chart publisher. I doubt she had even more than 50 copies made. Only enough to give to friends."]
[00:38] <Yanmei> "Hm. Do you think De Orleans was considered one of those 'friends'?" she picked it up. Slowly leafed through the first few pages without reading much.
[00:45] <@Minaplo> ["Probably not. Perhaps she gave a few to her father…"-
[00:46] <@Minaplo> ["Still, you'll want to turn to page 6, Chapter 1: Of a Certain Madman. Read the first few paragraphs and then tell me what you think."]
[00:47] * Yanmei did so with a grudging curiosity.
[01:21] <Yanmei> "…it's oddly sensible," she eventually muttered. "And, as stated, ironic that one of the world's top political and military elites feels that way about inequality."
[01:24] <@Minaplo> ["Yes. Later in the book she wonders how differently her life had turned out if everyone in the world had the same education and opportunities that she had. She predicts that in such a world, one not distorted by the 'elite', that she would be rather… Average. Well, in her own words, an exemplary archaeologist, but certainly not a world leader."]
[01:32] * Yanmei frowned. "I can't argue against any of this. How do we use it to our advantage, though?"
[01:35] <@Minaplo> ["I have my own theories, but I'll ask you now. What do you think her goal is now? What she hopes to achieve?"]
[01:54] <Yanmei> "Perfect equality? I mean, everyone's equal in the Eternity Drive. Or, alternately, in a giant LCL puddle. Or, alternately, under her rule if she finds a way to replace Lilith."
[01:57] <@Minaplo> ["Look at that passage again." Said Mazarin. "A world in which everyone's strengths are fully realised. She's not talking about equality, Yanmei. She's talking about a society where people- everyone- is in the role which is best suited to them. A perfect meritocracy."]
[02:03] * Yanmei frowned more deeply. "That leaves out the first two options, then. But the last… I mean, she could shape global society however she wanted if she did that?"
[02:04] <@Minaplo> ["Yes, that's entirely possible."-
[02:05] <@Minaplo> ["And if she did that, it wouldn't really matter what she did or who she killed, would it? SHe achieves that power and it's like a giant reset switch."-
[02:05] <@Minaplo> ["But do you know what I find most interesting?"]
[02:05] <Yanmei> "What?"
[02:06] <@Minaplo> ["The role she assigns herself in this 'new world' isn't that of its ruler… It's just one person amongst many. Just an archaeologist."]
[02:07] <Yanmei> "But that's not possible. She can't just give that power away once she's gained it?"
[02:08] <@Minaplo> ["But if she can't, then her ideal is impossible, isn't it?"]
[02:11] <Yanmei> "Yeah. But she must have already realized and accounted for that, right?"
[02:12] <@Minaplo> ["Yes. Which means that she's found some way to both achieve that ideal world- and give up that power. Otherwise she wouldn't be doing it."-
[02:13] <@Minaplo> ["But if you've learned anything tonight, it's that I don't stop at just the ideal. I look to see what needs, what voids are being filled."-
[02:13] <@Minaplo> ["It's such a curious vocation. Archaeologist. Why do you think she picked that of all things?"]
[02:15] <Yanmei> "Maybe it's something she liked studying but could never pursue it properly? Her dad was supposedly a bit of an asshole."
[02:17] <@Minaplo> ["Quite right."-
[02:19] <@Minaplo> [He took something out of his drawer and placed it in front of Yanmei. "This I stole from Ginevre. Rather, Henriette stole it. Ginevre's taken something of a shine to the girl, and I asked Henriette if she could keep an eye out for anything she deemed… Interesting. Apparently Ginevre let her look through Elisha's old photo album, and…"-
[02:21] <@Minaplo> [It was a snippet of what looked like a university newspaper. It showed a young woman with fashionable neck-length blonde hair, fair skin, blue eyes and a pretty, clean and clear face with a generous smile. She was holding some sort of award. Beneath it was the caption Mary Caine, pictured, accepting an award as part of her work in the Archaeology Dept. Of…-
[02:22] <@Minaplo> ["So it's something she liked to study. Something she enjoyed. The first theory I had was that she would be trying to pull a Cincinnatus or a George Washington. Serving only so long as to realise the ideal before retiring to a quiet life."-
[02:23] <@Minaplo> ["But I realised that that was wrong. Cincinnatus, Washington… They had peaceful lives before they were summoned for duty. Lives to go back to. It wasn't the same here."-
[02:23] <@Minaplo> [Mazarin leaned forward. "What if she's committed to this ideal for more than idealistic reasons? What if this is the only way she can have a life of peace and happiness?"]
[02:29] <Yanmei> "That's just sad," she muttered.
[13:02] <Yanmei> [02:29] <Yanmei> "That's just sad," she muttered.
[13:07] <@Minaplo> ["Yes, it is."-
[13:07] <@Minaplo> ["But there's another way we can use this information."]
[13:10] <Yanmei> "How? It's not like we can make her dream come true and use it for leverage?"
[13:13] <@Minaplo> ["No. This isn't about how we can use it to defeat Caine. It's about how we can use it to protect ourselves. Keep in your memory the fates of Robespierre and Caine, and never fall into the trap of thinking yourself invincible to their fall."]
[13:17] <Yanmei> "…yeah, you're right. I guess it could happen even to the mighty leader of the UEF?"
[13:24] <@Minaplo> ["Mmm."-
[13:24] <@Minaplo> ["Do you know what happened in the aftermath of Robespierre's execution and the fall of his party?"]
[13:25] <Yanmei> "What? France certainly didn't regress…?"
[13:30] <@Minaplo> ["Well, I wouldn't say that exactly, but it was definitely a chaotic period. The government changed several times in form and leadership. Of course, it was a government trying to put an end to a civil war and create a new type of government and resolve internal factionalism. And at the same time, the crowned heads of Europe were sending their armies to invade France, because they feared
[13:30] <@Minaplo> that if this revolution would execute one king, what stopped them from executing another? Or all of them?"-
[13:39] <@Minaplo> ["There were rebellions and attempted coups, even in Paris. After the government created the Constitution of 1795, royalists in Paris rose up to try to overthrow the national convention and restore the monarchy. This was known as the revolt of 13 Vendemiaire- as the month was called under the revolutionary calendar."-
[13:41] <@Minaplo> ["After this, the government was reformed into the Directoire, which was… Hm. If the failing of Robespierre was idealism driven to its grim extreme, then the Directoire of Paul Barras was cynical, self-interested and venal."-
[13:41] <@Minaplo> ["Do you know what happened to the Directoire in the end?"]
[13:43] <Yanmei> "Was he also executed?" Yanmei guessed, sensing a pattern with France's leaders. "In another rebellion?"
[13:43] <@Minaplo> ["Barras? No. Barras was overthrown, and was allowed to live the rest of his life in luxury."-
[13:43] <@Minaplo> ["But he was overthrown. By Bonaparte."]
[13:45] <Yanmei> "Hah," she said smugly. "Mr Uptight Bonaparte. Yeah, I know quite a lot about him at least?"
[13:46] <@Minaplo> [Mazarin chuckled.-
[13:47] <@Minaplo> ["Bonaparte wasn't an idealist. Oh, he used idealistic means as part of his reign. He liberalised France and Europe, replacing centuries of confused, twisted, unfair feudal law with a clean civil code. He introduced new, effective taxes… And of course he overran half of Europe in the space of ten years."-
[13:48] <@Minaplo> ["But he was never an idealist. He was pragmatic. He knew it was better to give the people safety and prosperity now than to torture them with complex idealistic utopias."-
[13:49] <@Minaplo> ["The same sort of revolution is playing out now, only it's a world revolution. The question is where you see your place in it. Are you the King to be felled by the idealist, are you just another Robespierre fighting to see their own ideal realised, or are you a Bonaparte?"]
[14:00] <Yanmei> "My only option is to be Bonaparte? The others all met such lousy ends… and I'm not sure I'm arrogant or idealistic enough to be them." Yanmei tossed her hair. "Being pragmatic… do you think I'm a pragmatic leader, Mr. President?"
[14:05] <@Minaplo> ["I think it's too early to judge…"]
[14:08] <Yanmei> "Mmph." She looked vaguely disappointed at that. "Then… which do you think you're most like?"
[14:10] <@Minaplo> ["Me? Oh, I'm a different breed entirely." He said with a smile. "When I discussed the Fronde, I mentioned Cardinal Richelieu's successor. Do you know what his name was?"]
[14:12] * Yanmei shook her head.
[14:13] <@Minaplo> ["His name was Giulio Mazzarino or, in French, Jules Mazarin." Said Mazarin with a wink.]
[14:21] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei smirked. "An old relative, huh? So it's a family tradition~"
[14:22] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, I'm not so sure if we're truly related. Maybe a great-great grandfather just liked the name…?"-
[14:24] <@Minaplo> ["There are more stories I could tell you, of course, but at that point it would truly be just an indulgence on my part. You're sure to be busy, Yanmei, and I wouldn't want to detain you."]
[14:29] * Yanmei shook her head. "It's ok! I won't have another meeting for a few more hours? Though… if you're going to tell a story, why not tell one about how you got so sneaky? Books and student newspaper clippings… that's not very Presidenty, you know~"
[14:32] <@Minaplo> ["No, Presidents prefer to steal on a much grander scale. Spain, for example."-
[14:34] <@Minaplo> ["In any case, it's a talent I picked up in younger days. Knowing when and where to lift papers or documents can help greatly in the political arts…"-
[14:38] <@Minaplo> ["Speaking of which, did you really try to enlist my daughter in espionage on my person?" Asked Mazarin, his pencil-thin eyebrows drawing together hawkishly.]
[14:45] <Yanmei> "What do you mean?" she chuckled desperately. "We were just talking. You know, innocently? As we do. Anyway, that would be inappropriate. And why would I spy on you?"
[14:46] <@Minaplo> ["Due to my spending time with a certain lovely lady?"]
[14:49] <Yanmei> "My mom? Heh. Come on. It's not like I kept watch every time you two visited Blue's Bar or anything?"
[14:50] <@Minaplo> ["Sophie says otherwise. Speaking of which, that was your mistake. Henriette went to Sophie to ask for help on skullduggery, and…"]
[14:54] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei rubbed the bridge of her nose. Just great. "I thought she'd be too busy on the Bridge to keep up with such things," she muttered.
[14:55] <@Minaplo> ["Please. It took pushing a tiny human through her abdomen to make her finally stop working. Don't underestimate my niece's work ethic so."]
[15:05] <Yanmei> "Hmph. Well, that explains why you've been teaching Henriette? How long did she pester you before you gave in?"
[15:05] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, I volunteered."]
[15:05] <Yanmei> "…oh?"
[15:07] <@Minaplo> ["Well, Henriette is always so willing to help her father any way she can, you see… And this just happens to help herself at the same time."]
[15:10] * Yanmei was starting to get a bad feeling. She laughed lightly to cover it. "But she's not in politics yet? How does swiping documents help her?"
[15:10] <@Minaplo> ["Practice."]
[15:12] <Yanmei> "I… suppose. Heh. Maybe I should start practicing too~"
[15:13] <@Minaplo> ["Please refrain from lifting my daughter's goods. If she were to retaliate, well… Imagine the secrets you must have…"]
[15:17] <Yanmei> "I wouldn't do that to dear Henriette. Anyway, there are lots of other people on the ship to try it on?"
[15:18] <@Minaplo> ["Quite true. Please refrain from lifting any of my goods. Trust me, I'll know."]
[15:21] * Yanmei flashed him one of her brilliant smiles. "I wouldn't dream of it Mr President~"
[15:22] <@Minaplo> ["Good."]
[15:26] <Yanmei> "Now then. Since we're already together, why don't we get a head start and strategize a bit more about this whole Parliament business…"

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