This Too Shall Pass 3 2 10

[23:13] <Yanmei> There were no physical spotlights blazing away in Yanmei's face, but she neverthless felt the heat of dozens and dozens of eyes honed keenly on her all at once. -
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[23:21] <Yanmei> Dolled up in her best uniform, head held stubbornly high, she stood at the center of the hemicycle where France's National Assembly gathered to conduct its regular business in the Palais Bourbon. From her vantage point, it was a confronting horseshoe formation of glossy tiered desks, frowning faces, suits, and the occassional glimpse of red velvet between each row. -
[23:26] <Yanmei> The introduction, made quickly by a member of Parliament she did not recognize, was coming to an end now, and she did her best to stand even straighter, bracing herself for the incoming barrage with a polite smile, ready to take the microphone at the right signal.
[23:31] <Minaplo> ["Ah-hmm."-
[23:33] <Minaplo> [Standing opposite Yanmei was Martin Pierre Villeneuve.-
[23:38] <Minaplo> [Villeneuve was of average height, maybe slightly below, 5'6 or so. He was a doughty man, looking almost but not quite fat; he had a solid wrecking-ball presence about him. He had short brown hair, greying slightly at the temples, and keen, small grey eyes and a pair of thick eyebrows. He wore a tailored suit, a blue tie, and a pair of hard-soled leather shoes. It made for loud, echoing
[23:38] <Minaplo> footfalls around the quiet ampitheatric room.-
[23:40] <Minaplo> [He stood straight. His expression was firm yet neutral, solemn but not sombre. He clasped his hands together behind his back.-
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[23:48] <Minaplo> ["Zhang Yanmei." He said, his strong voice carrying around the room. "You stand before this assembly as a citizen of France and nothing more, to answer the questions of this body regarding your actions and the actions of your contemporaries. Do you dispute this position?"]
[23:50] <Yanmei> "I do not," she said plainly, staring back at him.
[23:59] <Minaplo> ["So you relinquish your claim to head an authority greater than the authority of this assembly?" Said Villeneuve.]
Session Time: Fri May 15 00:00:00 2015
[00:14] <Yanmei> "I'll be happy to answer any questions from the perspective of a French citizen, as my citizenship, to my knowledge, has not been revoked. My status as a French citizen and my position as Chancellor of the United Earth Federation, however, have never been mutually exclusive. I fail to see why you would imply otherwise."
[00:24] <Minaplo> ["Oh, I hardly think they're exclusive." Said Villeneuve. "But this inquiry will seek to question you in your role as Chancellor as well as citizen."-
[00:26] <Minaplo> ["The question is whether you submit to the power of this Assembly, Zhang Yanmei. Does the position of Chancellor answer to the authority of the French Assembly, or does it not?"]
[00:54] <Yanmei> "The position of Chancellor, strictly speaking, has the responsibility to address the concerns of its allied nations? But it -answers- to the authority of said nations collectively, rather than individually, as in this case."
[01:02] <Minaplo> ["This collective authority… Does it have a name?"]
[01:13] <Yanmei> "That would be the Federation Council? It's similar in nature to your own National Assembly."
[08:54] <Yanmei> "The fact that France is represented in the Council means that it has a direct channel for airing grievances about the UEF's actions or, alternately, altering them before they are executed? This means that your nation - as all of our allied nations - has significant influence over the UEF, if that was that something you were concerned about."
[09:10] <Minaplo> ["Yet your position was cemented even before the first blow was struck." Said Villeneuve. "The NERV coup of the Geofront, the action which announced the formation of the UEF- it was a unilateral action on your part. This body was not informed of the attack in advance, nor was the Federation Council in existence at the time. We were not given a chance to deliberate as to the purpose or wisdom
[09:10] <Minaplo> of the coup. In all things it was akin to the actions of a rogue military formation. Do you deny it?"]
[09:38] <Yanmei> "Spreading news of the coup risked said plans being leaked to the UN and the destruction of our faction before it was created," she said simply. "And we recognize how risky such a move was? Which is why the Federation's Council now exists."
[10:30] <Minaplo> ["Yes, of course. Secrecy was paramount in the creation of your faction." Said Villeneuve. "In fact, it was so secret many of us still aren't sure as to its agenda." Villeneuve walked towards her at an angle, keeping her on his right. "Ms. Zhang, you will inform this body as to the purposes of the April 2 attack on the Geofront! For what purpose did you declare war on the United Nations?
[10:30] <Minaplo> What justification can you offer for plunging the world into war yet again despite the already-existing threat of the Angels?"]
[10:57] <Yanmei> "The April 2 -revolt-," she emphasized, "was due to several factors coming to light around the German UN rep and head of the Instrumentality Committee. First, was her role in drawing out the war between humanity and the remaining Angels. Second was the implications of the weapon and soldier manufacturing projects taking place in the Synfront - that is, weapons and soldiers not suitable for Angel Combat being created at an astounding rate toward the end of the conflict between humanity and that Angels. Third was the UN's failure to restrict any of these things, and the continued unsustainable stress that it was putting on its allied nations."
[11:14] <Yanmei> She was clasping her hands together a little tighter now, a few faint dots of sweat appearing along her hairline.
[11:26] <Minaplo> [Villeneuve came closer, only a metre away now. Yanmei could smell his expensive cologne.-
[11:26] <Minaplo> [He smiled in a friendly, warm way.-
[11:27] <Minaplo> ["Ms. Zhang, you must forgive me." He said. "I understand this is not your forte here- that you've been thrown here as a sacrifice by older, more cynical men. I don't mean to make you feel-" he took out a handkerchief- bright blue- and held it to her forehead delicately.-
[11:27] <Minaplo> [The eyes of everyone in the room was on that handkerchief.-
[11:28] <Minaplo> ["Uncomfortable." He put the handkerchief back in its pocket. Villeneuve turned, his back to Yanmei, and walked; when he was a few metres away he half-turned, speaking to Yanmei from a 90-degree angle, his body facing the assembly.-
[11:31] <Minaplo> ["Ms. Zhang, you accuse the United Nations of drawing out the war with the Angels, yet is it not true that NERV's coup involved at least the majority of NERV's designated Evangelion units? Was it not NERV's mandate to combat the Angels? How can you accuse the UN of drawing out the Angelic war when the ones with the weapons designed purely for that purpose were busy scheming against its
[11:31] <Minaplo> benefactors?"-
[11:34] <Minaplo> ["And is it not true that the location of the Synfront is a dangerous one? Dealing with powerful LN remnant entities? Is it not true that these 'Impact Ferals' pose a great threat to the people of the continent? Why do you leap to the conclusion that it was to target you? Ms. Zhang, how do you know these weapons and soldiers were intended to target you? How do you know they weren't to
[11:34] <Minaplo> prevent another Brother Insurrection? Ms Zhang, how do you know these weapons and soldiers were not intended to target recidivist states or Impact Ferals or Iron Guard? Ms. Zhang, why do you think you were the target? Don't wait for the transcribe to keep up, answer me! Yes or no!"]
[12:06] <Yanmei> "I will address each of your questions in turn." Her voice was stiff, as she fumbled with her rage and humiliation, but she managed to keep at least some semblence of superficial calm. "Any implications about the Evas not being used for their intended purpose under NERV or the UEF are -baseless-, given their response to the threats posed by the last few Angels. The UN, on the other hand, was in the possession of several Dysangelion units that were conspicuously absent during -all- battles involving said Angels. These are units that were created well before the UEF was formed, and thus far have only appeared in battles to show off how proficient they are as Anti-Eva weapons. Additionally, creating an entire army of cloned soldiers -in secret- to deal with Impact ferals or Iron Guards is not only unnecessary given the existing level of war technology and willing volunteers, but obviously comes with its own package of ethical questions. Why would someone risk that level of scrutiny if they were going after wildlife or dangerous soilders that were already recognized to be a threat to our existing global society?"
[12:28] <Minaplo> [Villeneuve turned fully now, facing her properly. He was glaring at her, his left hand curling into a fist for just a second…]
[12:52] * Yanmei smiled sweetly back at him. "You are a kind man, Mr. Villeneuve. Someone who dislikes war as much as you do must admit that there are three things very wrong with this picture. We have the creation of those soldiers in the first place. People born to be, for all we know, disposable despite having thoughts, feelings, personalities and senses of their own. So the first problem we have is the crime that is being committed against them. Next is the implication of what those soldiers and their weapons were supposed to be used for? Even in the unlikely scenario that they weren't created to be used on UN or NERV-affilliated personnel, the secrets surrounding them suggests that their purpose isn't one officially sanctioned by, well, anyone. Finally we have the stunning failure of the UN itself. Its members were kept either in the dark about this, or in a worst case scenario, were quietly complicit in whatever plan the Synfront was prepping for. Isn't that one of the reasons why your nation stepped away from it when given the opportunity? That dangerous lack of transparency compounded with ethical reasons? Certainly, it couldn't be just for monetary reasons…"
[12:54] <Minaplo> ["… Hm."-
[12:54] <Minaplo> [Villeneuve smiled.-
[12:59] <Minaplo> ["17th of January, 2018." He said. "The Angel called 'Metatron' launched an attack at the Synfront. I believe you were there. Reports from that battle are muddled and confused, but you were taken into custody and charged with a series of crimes against the New World Law."-
[13:03] <Minaplo> ["But that's not what's most interesting. Because that wasn't the last Angel attack on the Synfront, was it, Ms. Zhang? February 10th, 2018!" He turned back to the Assembly. "An unidentified Angel assaults the Synfront and causes extensive damage to one of humanity's most important bases. This Angel attacked at later dates as well including during the April 2 Coup. This Angel, we now know,
[13:03] <Minaplo> was listed on the Federation's 'Exemption Clause' to the Istanbul Summit's anti-Angel Extinquishment Compact!" He turned back to Yanmei. "Which proves that the Angel was working with the Federation, or rather the conspirator-ringleaders who founded it, as early as February 10th at least! Considering that, too, was a secret beforehand, I table the theory before this assembly that despite
[13:03] <Minaplo> your protestations, Ms. Zhang, the UN's military buildup was not to combat us."-
[13:03] <Minaplo> ["It was to combat you, the true threat, because you were making deals with our enemy. Do you deny it?"]
[08:48] * Yanmei sighed. "That is a very serious accusation, Mr. Villeneuve. I hope you have evidence to back it up, because, as I said before, we -defeated- humanity's Angelic enemies. You know, the ones killing millions of people with their attacks? Cooperation with non-aggressive Angelic entities is something that NERV has done before, without condemnation from the world as a whole. With the Angel known as Shoftiel and the emissary sent to us by the 26th Angel, it was understood that interacting with them in a non-hostile fashion would improve humanity's chances of survival. Interacting with them -also- taught us that some of these creatures had deviating tendencies from the defaulting destructive mode. Aside from seemingly calculated attacks on isolated UN bases, how has this mystery Angel threatened humanity as a whole? Moreover, based on our understanding of the time and resources needed to complete Evangelion-scaled units, you understand that the construction of the Dysangelions - or at least their conception - would have had to predate the appearence of the mystery Angel by quite some time, correct?"
[09:00] <Minaplo> ["Fond of double standards, aren't you?" Said Villeneuve. "How is it that you expect us to take you at your word regarding this Angel's intentions, yet should the UN develop a new series of Evangelion-type you make like a sheriff of old, ringing your bell and shouting 'Fear! Fire! Foes' to all within earshot? Why do you believe it acceptable for us to assume good faith on behalf of an
[09:00] <Minaplo> inscrutable alien entity, yet assume bad faith of the organisation to which you once answered?"-
[09:02] <Minaplo> ["And don't speak to me of evidence, Ms. Zhang, when you bring before this body accusations with no proof of your own." Said Villeneuve. "If the UN had struck the first blow against you and yours, then perhaps I would place burden of evidence on them. But they did not- you did, and if you wish to prove that blow was in good faith then now is the time. By all means, give us your proof
[09:02] <Minaplo> of evil intent on behalf of the UN. We wait."]
[10:21] <Yanmei> "I would argue that the UN's shoddy public attempt to frame me for crimes against humanity, and its later unprovoked attack on the president of France and France's UN representitive would count as a first blow against me and also this nation," she said coldly. "Things they've -never- answered for, if you want to talk about double standards. But fine. What about its actions while the UEF's leadership was missing? How many times did they solicit peace from France or any of the UEF's allied countries? Why did they turn their soldiers on unarmed child civilians? Why did they murder one of France's Eva pilots without providing any explanations? Is this brutality just something we should expect from them now? No questions asked?"
[10:54] <Minaplo> [Yanmei would clearly see the deep blood-red tinge filling Villeneuve's blustery cheeks…]
[11:11] <Yanmei> "In fact, it occurs to me that my original argument against the UN today wasn't that it was -evil- but dangerously incompetent? That is, the way it was operating grossly violated all sorts of human rights, and that its reps were letting them get away with far too much, either willfully or without realizing they were doing those things in the first place. In fact, I'd wager that if France and its other nations expected the same accountability from it as they apparently expect from me and the United Earth Federation, we would not even be in this war. That said," she smiled, addressing the assembly beyond him, "I absolutely will do my best to honor those expectations and to be much better with transparency than the UN would ever deign to be."
[11:15] <Minaplo> ["Really now?" Said Villeneuve. "Then Ms. Zhang, by all means let us, and the world at large, hear of your plans to advance liberty and independence for the people of Ukraine, the people of Belarus, of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, of Finland… Those same people who rose up and waved the globe-on-blue as the UN forces rolled back the Red Army. Let's hear your timetable to give them their
[11:15] <Minaplo> freedom, hm?"-
[11:16] <Minaplo> ["And at the same time, let's hear about your intent to free the oppressed Vietnamese, and the Koreans, and the Mongolians, Burmese, Thai, Malays, Laotians and Tibetans that have been shackled to Chinese 'democracy' in the East."-
[11:19] <Minaplo> ["And of course, you'll no doubt be willing to discuss with us all at length how you intend to punish known enemies of human rights." Said Villeneuve, his voice swelling powerfully. "Men such as Barzilai Surov, who conducted and performed endless abuses and perversions for the LN. A man your organisation protected even before the coup!"-
[11:20] <Minaplo> ["And perhaps, whilst you belabour the UN for its military attack on a military installation, you'll discuss justice for the non-combatants that die every time your pet Angel attacks the Synfront? Or the six thousand soldiers of the Synfront garrison that Aline Blanc liquefied with her AT Field during the Angel attack on the base?"-
[11:22] <Minaplo> ["The body waits to hear you outline your plan to bring liberty, equality and fraternity to the world, Ms. Zhang. I trust you'll not disappoint."]
[11:45] <Yanmei> "Our goal is to work with governing nations like China to find alternate ways of acquiring resources and labor? We do want freedom for many nations, but we want it to be obtained as bloodlessly as possible. The UEF does have an internal judicial system, by the way? Trials and sentences concerning human rights violations made by our own people will be processed through it. Finally, while noncombatants are an unfortunate percentage of casualties in a lot of battles, there is a stark difference between them dying in the line of fire and explicitly targeting them even after ascertaining their threat level. Thankfully, some of the new agreements we signed at the Istanbul summit will greatly reduce incidents of both kinds in the future. For the record, the liquidation incident occurred through no fault of Aline Blanc. She communicated her intentions to UN personnel clearly before making her attack. Why that information was not conveyed to ground-level soldiers during the battle is an question that can only be answered by Synfront command."
[11:59] <Minaplo> ["But Ms. Zhang…"-
[11:59] <Minaplo> […-
[12:00] <Minaplo> [The inquiry took hours, in the end. Long, exhaustive hours.-
[12:00] <Minaplo> [Yet Yanmei stood firm.-
[12:01] <Minaplo> [The Assembly watched as Villeneuve, although formidable and intimidating, was slowly ground down, any momentum he had slowly crumbling away against Yanmei's front. In the end, he'd very visibly gone toe to toe with what many had judged as a slip of a girl, a puppet- and had met his match.-
[12:01] <Minaplo> [By the time Villeneuve surrendered the floor, both combatants had been weary and tired. Villeneuve looked dazed, even a little despondent.-
[12:02] <Minaplo> [He wasn't the last, though. There were other questioners, but they weren't as ferocious as Villeneuve and Yanmei was able to deflect them handily. Some were from 'her' faction, and so their questions were essentially setups to allow her to discuss all the good the Federation was doing.-
[12:03] <Minaplo> [Eventually, the sunlight through the windows would turn a dusky, faded orange. Soon after the inquiry ended, and Yanmei would finally, blessedly…-
[12:03] <Minaplo> [Be able to leave and reunite with her retinue waiting in a side room, whoever that might be.]
[12:06] <Yanmei> The escape was drawn out… she had to at least pretend that she didn't want to bolt out of there as quickly as humanly possible, despite the reality. So she took a slow stroll over to the room, quietly closing the door behind her and looking around.
[12:17] <Yanmei> It was a small room, with a couch and a tv mounted on the wall. Or was it a monitor…? In any case, she reserved a tired smile for the two stuck waiting in there for her: her secretary and her favorite OD.
[12:27] <Minaplo> [Marianne and Ariadne turned to look at her. They both jumped to their feet at the same time.-
[12:28] <Minaplo> [Marianne reached Yanmei first. She grabbed Yanmei around the shoulders and pulled her into a tight, warm hug.-
[12:28] <Minaplo> [Ariadne was next, throwing her arms around them both. "You did it!"-
[12:29] <Minaplo> ["I'm so proud-" Said Marianne in hushed tones.-
[12:29] <Minaplo> ["Let's get drunk!" Shouted Ariadne.]
[12:39] * Yanmei laughed, hugging back. "I'll have a little? But not here. Not unless I want a bunch of scrutiny that they'll try to twist to their advantage. These old guys play hardball…"
[12:39] <Minaplo> ["Seriously." Said Marianne. "But you- you gave them hardball right back!"]
[12:41] <Yanmei> "Surprised the hell out of them~" she preened. "Some sacrifice, huh?"
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[12:47] <Minaplo> [Yanmei felt Ariadne give her a big kiss on the cheek. "Did you see how red and puffy Villeneuve got?"]
[12:52] <Yanmei> "My greatist triumph was not kicking him after that handkerchief bit. Hmph! That jerk…"
[12:54] <Minaplo> ["Ugh. I can't believe he did that." Said Ariadne. "Wasn't he a creep?!"]
[12:57] <Yanmei> "I know right? Ugh. Let's hurry up and go home now. I don't want to stick around any longer than I have to?"
[13:00] <Minaplo> ["Of course~" Said Ariadne.-
[13:01] <Minaplo> ["Not a problem, sweetheart." Said Marianne, kissing Yanmei on the forehead. "I'm so proud of you…"]
[13:02] <Yanmei> "Thanks… I wouldn't have gotten through it without all that coaching, though? So thanks for that too."
[13:04] <Minaplo> ["Anytime~" Said Ariadne cheerfully.-
[13:04] <Minaplo> [Marianne pulled away, but she kept a tight grip on Yanmei's hand. "Let's leave these geezers to it."]
[13:14] * Yanmei was happy to keep a hold on Marianne's hand too, and even happier to lead the way out of the room. With luck, it would be her last time there. Maybe the last time having a huge debate like that ever? One thing was clear, though… with this and the summit over, she could finally get back to less complex tasks, like training and paperwork. The simple things~

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