This Too Shall Pass 3 2 16

[08:19] * Sept threw his coat back on and left it open as he headed out into the impromptu jazz lounge. On the way out, he found an out-of-the-way spot he could pause at for a moment, looking at the band and the crowd in turn.-
[08:20] <Sept> Longing for something to do with his hands, he fished a cigarette out of a uniform pocket to twiddle between his fingers.
[08:29] <AdEvaGM> [It had been visible for all of fifteen seconds when a nearby waitress gave him an evil eye. "No smoking!"]
[08:35] * Sept cast her a flat look, hesitated, and stuffed the deathstick back in its container with a bit of wiggling. "Hey, you!" He called back to the waitress. "Is Viviane in today?"
[08:36] <AdEvaGM> ["Fournier?"]
[08:36] <Sept> "Yeah. How many do you have?"
[08:39] <AdEvaGM> ["One on the staff, three regulars with the name."]
[08:45] * Sept tugged on the sleeve of the glove on his replaced hand, having erased his options with the cigarette. "Impressive," he said, sounding sincere. "Is she around?"
[08:48] <AdEvaGM> ["Not today."]
[08:52] <Sept> "Right. It's nothing urgent, but could I get you to give her a message?"
[08:53] <AdEvaGM> ["I guess."]
[08:59] <Sept> "Hmm. Just tell her I'd like to check in with her, follow up on some stuff, if she doesn't mind. Any idea when I might run into her?"
[09:02] <AdEvaGM> ["Her room. Maybe the main cafeteria. Sometimes she likes to go out on the deck."]
[09:08] <Sept> "Right, I'll check back sometime. Thank you very much."
[09:09] <AdEvaGM> ["Uh-huh."]
[09:12] * Sept straightened himself out and took a few more moments to consider the band while buttoning up his coat again.
[09:22] <AdEvaGM> [It wasn't the best he'd ever seen, but they were good at playing easy, ambient tunes that help put everyone at ease.]
[09:33] * Sept tooks his leave, begrudgingly thankful for how popular the place had become. The space of Blue's Bar, Grill, Tailory & Obituaries eventually opened up into the blessed space and silence of the promenade. Sera made sure to cherish every step of that walk back into the maze of corridors and stairs leading back to his quarters.
[09:36] <AdEvaGM> […-
[09:36] <AdEvaGM> [The air was thick with tension.-
[09:36] <AdEvaGM> [Sera could feel their eyes on him. Scrutinising. Judging.-
[09:37] <AdEvaGM> [The pressure was insane.-
[09:38] <AdEvaGM> [He, Little Aline and Armin occupied the corners of a triangle. Periodically, their gaze flicked to each other, before back to Sera.-
[09:38] <AdEvaGM> [His face full of accusation, Armin opened his mouth and intoned the words.-
[09:38] <AdEvaGM> ["Any sixes?"-
[09:38] <AdEvaGM> ["Go Fish." Said Little Aline.-
[09:38] <AdEvaGM> ["No!"]
[09:48] * Sept collected his cards impassively and reorganized his hand.
[09:49] <AdEvaGM> ["Gimme your fuckin' nines, Sera." Said Liline.]
[09:54] * Sept shifted another card to the front of his hand before raising his head. "My what?"
[09:55] <AdEvaGM> ["Your nines!"]
[09:56] <Sept> "I just got them, though."
[09:58] <AdEvaGM> ["And now they're mine, fucktopus."]
[10:02] * Sept laughed and handed the pair over. "Fine, asshole. See where that gets you."
[10:03] <AdEvaGM> ["Aww yiss." She pulled out four nines, showed them off, and slapped them down.-
[10:04] <AdEvaGM> ["So was your meeting alright?" Asked Armin.]
[10:06] <Sept> "Wasn't no meeting. Well, there was one with Blue once I ran into Yanmei, but. You know how those go."
[10:12] <AdEvaGM> ["Mmm?"]
[10:16] <Sept> "He can be grating," Sera understated.
[10:19] <AdEvaGM> ["Why? What did he say this time?"]
[10:21] <Sept> "Don't worry about it. I'm done with it for now."
[10:28] <AdEvaGM> ["I see."]
[10:32] <Sept> "He's got that greasy feel, like he's always all 'look at me, I'm too tactically and socially useful and vouched for to be kicked off the ship'."
[10:32] <AdEvaGM> ["Jealous?" Said Liline with a smirk.]
[10:33] * Sept looked up from his cards. "Well, I wouldn't be an asshole about it if I was in his position."
[10:40] <Minaplo> ["How come?" Asked Liline.]
[10:46] <Sept> "He's got everything he wants, doesn't he? Is it your turn?"
[10:47] <Minaplo> ["No, it's yours, dumbass, and does that mean you'd stop being an asshole if you had everything you wanted?"]
[10:48] <Sept> "Sure I would! Sixes, Armin."
[10:49] <Minaplo> ["Humf." He handed three sixes over.-
[10:49] <Minaplo> ["So whaddya want, then?" Said Liline.]
[10:54] <Sept> "I get another try, right? Fives? I want power to change things, and popular support. Although, if humanity were to get its shit together and save itself, I'd be fine with that."
[11:09] <Minaplo> [With a grumble, Armin gave Sera two fives.-
[11:09] <Minaplo> ["Well you sure have been workin' on Point Number Two." Said Liline sweetly.]
[11:16] <Sept> "It's been tough," Sera admitted and slapped down his book of fives. "You wanna be my PR manager?"
[11:23] <Minaplo> ["Done." Said Liline. "First piece of advice: no happy-sucking the world's most beloved ingenue."]
[11:25] * Sept cast her a puzzled look. "No what?"
[11:26] <Minaplo> ["She's referring to the incident with that thing and Rei." Said Armin.]
[11:28] <Sept> "-Oh-, I thought you meant- yeah, no. That's… correct. I looked like an asshole there again, right? Sorry about that."
[11:29] <Minaplo> ["Motherfucker's lucky they didn't throw you off the side."]
[11:30] <Sept> "But they didn't, because I'm occasionally very useful, and aren't smug about it. You've gotta give me that."
[11:32] <Minaplo> ["You're always smug about it! You're like permaBlue."]
[11:34] * Sept looked openly insulted. "Absolutely not! When am I ever not humble about my place here?"
[11:35] <Minaplo> ["All the time. Keep up, fucktoberfest."]
[11:36] <Sept> "But that's wrong!"
[11:37] <Minaplo> ["Oh, look at you, Mr. Absolute Statements. Not so humble now, are ya?"]
[11:43] <Sept> "That doesn't-!" Sera looked for a moment like he was holding his breath. "That's completely different! Just because I-I try to be decisive doesn't mean I can't be wrong!"
[11:45] <Minaplo> ["Makes you look like an arrogant motherfucker though. Sorry."]
[11:50] <Sept> "So, -what-, I have to preface everything with 'I think' and 'what if you look at it like this'? There's plenty of people who speak in plurals and certainties!"
[11:51] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, but they aren't fuckups. Until you cease being a fuckup, fuckup, you slap 'I think' to everything you say."]
[11:53] <Sept> "…"
[11:54] <Minaplo> ["Your turn, fuckalope."]
[12:00] <Sept> "Twos. I think you think I'm a fuckup. I think there are people who trust me to do the right thing when it comes to that."-
[12:00] <Sept> "And I don't see you having a fucking problem with absolutes."
[12:02] <Minaplo> ["Damnit." Armin relinquished his twos.-
[12:02] <Minaplo> ["Oh, so now absolutes are a problem for you." Said Liline. "Typical!"]
[12:04] <Sept> "They're not! I said they're not a problem for you, so it's clearly not impossible to carry on a legitimate conversation like that! Aces!"
[12:05] <Minaplo> ["Go Fish!" Said Armin, preening.-
[12:05] <Minaplo> ["Wow, I had no idea you were so offended by my absolutes." Said Liline. "Why? Is it because you think I'm a fuckup?"]
[12:08] <Sept> "What the hell are you talking about? No!"
[12:10] <Minaplo> ["Aces!" Said Armin.-
[12:11] <Minaplo> ["Then I can use 'em because I'm not a fuckup." Said Liline. "QED."]
[12:15] <Sept> "Fuck you," Sera said tiredly, with a hint of laughter seeping through.
[12:16] <Minaplo> ["Aces please."]
[12:22] <Sept> "Fine." Sera handed over one.
[12:28] <Minaplo> ["Twos. Did you see Viviane at the grill?"]
[12:33] <Sept> "Nope." He returned Armin's twos, plus one.
[12:36] <Minaplo> ["Fours. Are you going to visit her?"]
[12:38] <Sept> "Left her a message. She can figure it out if she wants to." Another card passed to Armin.
[12:43] <Minaplo> ["Eights, Liline."-
[12:44] <Minaplo> ["Go fish."-
[12:44] <Minaplo> [There was a flurry of card-grabbing.-
[12:45] <Minaplo> ["Are you going to see her at work?" Asked Armin.]
[12:46] <Sept> "Probably. Seems impolite to hunt her down."
[12:49] <Minaplo> ["Need help?" Asked Liline.]
[12:54] <Sept> "Help?" Sera asked, warily.
[12:56] <Minaplo> ["Gettin' you two together, y'know… Maybe make it seem less 'impolite'."]
[12:58] <Sept> "That would be lying, and I'm not in a hurry."
[12:59] <AdEvaGM> ["Why not?"]
[13:05] <Sept> "There's nothing urgent about her situation. Why would you think that?"
[13:06] <AdEvaGM> ["What about yours, fuckington?"]
[13:13] <Sept> "It's irrelevant, and I'm fine. I'm sorry, but making sure everything's alright with Viviane isn't going to change my life."
[13:17] <AdEvaGM> ["I'm not talkin' about 'making sure everything's alright', dumbass!"]
[13:19] <Sept> "Are you saying I urgently need a girlfriend, then? Because that'd sound terribly inconsiderate towards her."
[13:20] <AdEvaGM> ["Uh-huuuuh."-
[13:20] <AdEvaGM> [Liline made… Hand gestures.-
[13:20] <AdEvaGM> [They were lewd. Let's move on.]
[13:22] <Sept> "You're the one trying to play Unwarranted Cupid here."
[13:24] <AdEvaGM> ["Unwarranted but not unwanted!"]
[13:26] <Sept> "Thanks. I don't want that to be added to the set of rumors circling around."
(13:59:39) AdEvaGM: ["Like you and Akagi?" Said Liline.]
(14:02:03) Sept: "That one's harmless."
(14:02:41) AdEvaGM: ["Is it?"]
(14:03:33) Sept: "I think so."-
(14:03:56) Sept: "…which one are there rumors about?"
(14:04:05) AdEvaGM: ["Both, duh."]
(14:11:24) * Sept eyed her suspiciously. "Still. Harmless. They're both good friends, so it's easy to twist or get wrong. I don't understand why or who, but that's that."
(14:11:45) AdEvaGM: ["Didn't you share a big ol' wet one with her at the wedding?"]
(14:12:30) Sept: "…like I said. Easy to misunderstand."
(14:14:32) AdEvaGM: ["Also, you shared a room with her…"]
(14:17:28) Sept: "Yes! -So it's understandable-. Should it bother me?"
(14:19:17) AdEvaGM: ["Well, I dunno if it should, but if it does, I can help."]
(14:22:06) Sept: "It doesn't. I don't think tired rumors are getting in the way of my job or my life."
(14:33:31) AdEvaGM: ["If you say so. Threes."-
(14:33:34) AdEvaGM: […]
(14:53:54) Sept: Blue's again, a few days later. Sera was dressed in his more usual casual style today, clad in a blue track coat and looking right at home in some kind of suburban setting. He stopped one of the waitresses. "Hey. I'm looking for Viviane Fournier. She should be working?"
(14:59:12) AdEvaGM: ["She's on break."]
(15:02:35) * Sept pointed in a couple haphazard directions. "Where might I catch her, then?"
(15:03:51) AdEvaGM: [The waitress nodded sharply towards the back of the room, where- distinctive in her black-tie and tails- was Viviane, leaning over an arcade machine, clearly focused on something.]
(15:13:56) Sept: "Thanks," he nodded to her and went off on his way, examining Viviane and her occupation as he approached.
(15:18:44) AdEvaGM: [It looked like a copy of Lovely Eva Fighter…-
(15:19:47) AdEvaGM: [She was playing as an Iron Guard of some kind. He seemed to be having very little trouble knocking a computer-controlled Sera around a schoolroom arena.]
(15:24:20) Sept: "They coded me in as a pushover again?" Sera lamented, standing a little way off to the side, craning a bit to get a view of part of the screen.
(15:25:31) AdEvaGM: ["Guh!" Viviane nearly leapt a foot in the air. She turned on her heel and nearly tripped.-
(15:25:44) AdEvaGM: [Her attention gone, Cyber-Sera began beating on her Iron Guard.-
(15:25:46) AdEvaGM: ["W-What are you doing?!"]
(15:32:59) Sept: "Calm down," Sera laughed, keeping his hands in his coat's front pockets. "What I'm doing is looking for you. I wanted to have a bit of a talk with you, just to follow up on everything one last time. D'you have time after work?"-
(15:34:54) Sept: He nodded back to the cabinet. "You shouldn't let him off that easy. And if you'd rather get us out of your hair for good, that's fine too. It's up to you."
(15:37:46) AdEvaGM: ["A-After work?"-
(15:39:27) AdEvaGM: [Viviane's eyes darted nervously between him and the arcade machine, then down at her feet before returning to his face.-
(15:39:35) AdEvaGM: [The Iron Guard continued to take a pounding.-
(15:40:36) AdEvaGM: ["Uhm… S-Sure." She said quickly.]
(15:42:27) Sept: "Great, I'll meet you on the promenade… when?"
(15:50:16) AdEvaGM: ["Uh…"-
(15:50:33) AdEvaGM: ["Eight? Eight's a time, right?"-
(15:50:41) AdEvaGM: ["Er, a good time, I mean, it's obviously a time…"]
(15:57:27) Sept: "Yeah, that's fine," he nodded with a friendly smile, glossing right over the stuttering. "I'll be back around eight. See you then?"
(16:03:11) AdEvaGM: ["Kay."]
(16:08:37) * Sept nodded to her again, turned around and walked back through the restaurant, arms at his sides to better weave through any traffic. He was pretty happy to finally be doing -something- about this. But it wouldn't be the first time that satisfaction preceded something terrible.
(16:22:33) AdEvaGM: […-
(16:23:02) AdEvaGM: [It was 8 o'clock. Where was Sera waiting, exactly, on the promenade?]
(16:27:37) Sept: A bit further along from Blue's, he was loitering on a bench by one of the empty storefronts, head tilted back and looking like he was sleeping. Looking like a more relaxed Keanu Reeves, perhaps.
(16:34:54) AdEvaGM: [Footsteps.-
(16:35:37) AdEvaGM: [Viviane stopped a few feet away, staring at him awkwardly. She was still wearing her tails, but over it she wore an unfamiliar, thick-looking woollen black coat.]
(16:38:08) * Sept blinked at her for a bit and rubbed an eye. Maybe he'd really been sleeping? "Hey. How're you doing? We haven't really met since you started working."
(16:38:34) AdEvaGM: ["Yeah… Busy, I guess. Work and the war and all…"]
(16:42:19) Sept: "I was a bit surprised to hear you were still around, really. Um. Do you want a seat, or should we take a walk?"
(16:56:52) AdEvaGM: ["Uh, I-I can sit."-
(16:57:04) AdEvaGM: [She hesitantly took a seat on the chair, perched on the edge.]
(17:03:56) * Sept crossed his feet and turned towards her slightly. "In general, I just want to know you're aware of all your options going forward, right? So this job you've got, first of all. Has it been working out?"
(17:04:38) AdEvaGM: ["Um, it feels like a good fit so far." She said.-
(17:04:51) AdEvaGM: ["Get it? Fit, working out?" She smiled a little.-
(17:04:55) AdEvaGM: ["That was lame…"]
(17:06:56) Sept: "Heh. I wouldn't have got it. I don't think I'm good with puns. Maybe in French. But they'd be worse, definitely. You mostly wait tables, right?"
(17:07:56) AdEvaGM: ["I mostly play music, actually."]
(17:10:35) Sept: "Ah. That sounds fun - and you're on good terms with Blue and the staff?"
(17:27:57) AdEvaGM: ["Yeah." Said Viviane. "They're all pretty cool people. Blue's a bit of a tease, but he looks after you."]
(17:31:20) Sept: "That's good."-
(17:31:37) Sept: "Did you consider leaving the ship when you got the chance…?"
(17:35:41) AdEvaGM: ["Mmm, yeah, I did…"]
(17:36:07) Sept: "So what made you stay?"
(17:36:59) AdEvaGM: ["Where would I go if I did?" She said quietly. "Siberia with everyone else? I hate the cold…"-
(17:37:07) AdEvaGM: ["I don't know anyone."-
(17:37:22) AdEvaGM: ["Only the people here on this ship. The people staying behind."]
(17:44:51) Sept: "Mm. I understand that, but… we could certainly help you set up wherever you want. Our people have spread out pretty far and wide, you know."
(17:47:12) AdEvaGM: ["I don't even know where I'd want to go…"]
(17:49:35) Sept: "That's a separate problem, don't you think?" Sera grinned.
(17:49:49) AdEvaGM: ["Uh… Is it?"]
(17:56:34) Sept: "Your imagination, right?"
(17:57:40) AdEvaGM: ["Eh?"]
(18:00:29) Sept: "You can't figure out where you want to go, so you stay here. I don't mean to pry into your things, but that doesn't sound like much of a line of reasoning, does it?"
(18:05:07) AdEvaGM: ["But I don't know where to go." Protested Viviane. "I barely know anything about the world, a-and haven't had time to learn. And it's pretty dangerous right now anyway…"-
(18:05:35) AdEvaGM: ["If I don't know where I want to go, or don't even know what I'm looking for in a destination, then here's better."]
(18:10:22) Sept: "…well, yeah. I can't argue against that." Sera sat up straight again, leaning on his legs and looking out across the promenade. "So you're… hm, how do I put this. Are you happy?"
(18:15:35) AdEvaGM: [Viviane clasped her hands together and placed them reservedly in her lap. "I guess I am. I'm comfortable, at least, and I feel… Uhm…"-
(18:15:40) AdEvaGM: [She shrugged helplessly.-
(18:16:08) AdEvaGM: ["I don't feel like I'm wasting my time, I guess."]
(18:19:48) Sept: "Right."
(18:20:38) AdEvaGM: ["Mmm…"-
(18:20:47) AdEvaGM: [She awkwardly rubbed her knees together.]
(18:36:51) * Sept exhaled deeply. "I still don't really know what to do about you, you know. Felix's sort of washed his hands by now, since you're clearly stable and handling yourself fine. I just want you to know you're free to go anywhere, and we'll give you some limited support, and you're free to pursue your past if that ever makes you happier."-
(18:37:15) * Sept raised his hands slightly. "So there."
(18:48:50) AdEvaGM: ["Um… Thanks."-
(18:49:08) AdEvaGM: ["… You're kind of a weird person, but you're helpful, I guess."]
(18:57:53) Sept: "Well. Thanks. I guess I'm a bit hung up on stuff like this. Don't let 'just because' hold you back from anything, alright?"
(18:59:04) AdEvaGM: ["N-No worries!"-
(18:59:07) AdEvaGM: ["… D-Do you?"]
(19:02:02) * Sept looked back at her for a bit, turning the question over. "I'd hope not," he replied plainly before turning away again.
(19:07:24) AdEvaGM: ["…"-
(19:07:26) AdEvaGM: […-
(19:07:30) AdEvaGM: ["… Um!"]
(19:08:10) Sept: "Hm?"
(19:09:08) AdEvaGM: ["C-Can I ask you something…? Please don't think I'm weird."]
(19:11:43) * Sept re-crossed his legs to turn towards her again. "Of course, go ahead. It'd be unfair for me to- you know. I'm plenty weird. Bring it."
(19:17:29) AdEvaGM: ["Have you ever, uh…" She reddened, looked down at her knees.-
(19:17:42) AdEvaGM: ["Have you ever like… Felt the urge to kill someone?"]
(19:24:38) * Sept narrowed his eyes a bit, looking across the promenade. But he didn't need to consider his answer at any length. "Yes."
(19:25:26) AdEvaGM: ["Like… In normal places? Like you've been out at the shops or you've been at school and you've just felt the desire to kill someone for no reason?"]
(19:29:48) Sept: "Still yes. I may know what you mean, but it's not something I live with anymore."
(19:31:11) AdEvaGM: ["Okay. Sorry."]
(19:35:40) Sept: "No, not 'sorry'! That's really important, Viviane!"
(19:36:15) AdEvaGM: ["Huh?"]
(19:39:53) Sept: "Right. Okay."-
(19:46:44) Sept: "I'm obviously not the person you should be relying on for anything other than peer support, but first of all, it's not normal, and can become -very- dangerous for all involved. Alright?"
(19:48:34) AdEvaGM: ["I… Wasn't talking about myself."]
(19:51:56) Sept: "Alright. Talk to me, then."
(19:52:36) AdEvaGM: [She shrugged.-
(19:53:20) AdEvaGM: ["I dunno. Felix told me that it's something that might happen. Mr. Blue says he does, says he thinks about it all the t-time." Viviane averted her eyes.-
(19:54:03) AdEvaGM: ["Says he's got tricks and stuff to handle it."-
(19:54:33) AdEvaGM: ["I was just… I dunno. Maybe from what everyone says and how you reacted… That was someone I used to be?"]
(19:58:44) Sept: "Well, yes."
(19:59:03) AdEvaGM: ["…"]
(20:02:16) Sept: "What are you thinking?"
(20:03:15) AdEvaGM: ["… I dunno." She said quietly. "Maybe it's better if we don't talk about this anymore."]
(20:07:56) * Sept looked at her sideways. "If you don't want. But you weren't a bad person. Important distinction."
(20:20:57) AdEvaGM: ["But I wanted to kill people!"]
(20:27:12) Sept: "Sure. I… don't know what to tell you. But that's simply not all of it."
(20:33:14) AdEvaGM: ["… That's pretty vague."]
(20:37:45) Sept: "You can argue endlessly about a person like that. Looking at time, place and other circumstances, you can't even agree whose fault the whole thing is. That's understandable, right?"
(20:40:40) AdEvaGM: ["… I guess."]
(20:45:38) Sept: "I'm not gonna say anything you didn't ask for. But don't take what you have for granted.
(12:16:17) Mianplo: ["…" She shifted in her seat, turning her legs to point away from him. "I don't."]
(12:28:06) Sept: "That's good." Sera looked away for a moment before turning back, a thoughtful look on him. "How'd you want to proceed?"
(12:28:48) Mianplo: ["Proceed… Where?"]
(12:33:42) Sept: "Wherever. I mean this whole thing with me and everyone else bothering you. I guess you want to stay on board for now."-
(12:36:36) Sept: "But if you want us to look at options, places elsewhere that might suit you, or if you want us to let you figure it out without any oversight on the ship. I just wanted to make sure you're settling properly," Sera said, not entirely convinced, "and I'm satisfied you are."
(12:37:44) Mianplo: ["Okay…"-
(12:37:48) Mianplo: ["I'll keep that in mind."]
(12:38:28) Sept: "Th-That's it?"
(12:39:08) Mianplo: ["That's it." Said Viviane quietly.]
(12:44:58) * Sept clapped his hands together softly and rubbed his legs. "Right, well… good. That's all I wanted to talk about."
(12:51:01) Mianplo: ["Is it?"]
(12:55:05) Sept: There was a hint of a reaction from Sera as he faced away yet again, considering something for several seconds. "Um."
(12:57:17) Mianplo: ["Go on…"]
(13:02:38) Sept: "Look, I have you at a disadvantage, right?" Sera blurted out. "That makes this very uncomfortable for me. And I have no idea where I stand with you or how to deal with you, and I'm probably the only one stressing out over this."-
(13:06:06) Sept: "So I'd like to at least figure that out — I mean, not at least, that's all."
(13:07:41) Mianplo: ["How to deal with me…?" Viviane said slowly.-
(13:08:10) Mianplo: ["I get it." She said after a second. "It makes sense. We had history?"]
(13:11:18) Sept: "Sure," he continued, still looking ahead, leaning on his knees and fiddling with his hands. "I mean, arguably, plenty of people did, but me being me, I can't just act like it's business as usual."
(13:16:03) Mianplo: ["Is there something you need from me?" Asked Viviane. "Or is this something you gotta work through yourself?"]
(13:21:01) Sept: "Well, I- had some kind of an idea." He leaned back and looked at her again, picking his words carefully. "I'm not looking for a relationship, right? Maybe that sounds weird, but I have to say that."
(13:22:47) Mianplo: ["O-Oh, well." Her cheeks flushed pink. "Makes two of us, right?"-
(13:22:51) Mianplo: ["Haha." She laughed nervously.]
(13:28:08) * Sept couldn't help the smile forming on his face at that, but he had to forge on. "But if- if you're going to be sticking around, I'd feel a lot better if we weren't complete strangers."-
(13:29:37) Sept: "So if you feel at all comfortable with it, I was hoping I could get your help for a music thing?"
(13:33:25) Mianplo: ["A music thing?"]
(13:36:51) Sept: "Like, hm, a composition or a performance. For Blue's, maybe. I owe him something like that."
(13:37:05) Mianplo: ["Hmm… I suppose I can."]
(13:40:04) Sept: "I haven't played in ages, and I haven't really tried with this hand, but I have time. I can catch up…"
(13:45:03) Mianplo: [She nodded.]
(14:00:42) Sept: "Great. Great… So it'd be something like meeting up at Blue's or wherever, twice, once a week. I can bring some ideas to the table, and you tell me why they sound terrible, see where we get. Maybe it doesn't work out at all or produce anything, but we can. Establish a rapport. Would that be fine?"
(14:01:10) Mianplo: ["Uh… Sure."]
(14:05:28) Sept: "Is there a regular time you'd prefer? I could maybe get Blue to count this as work for you, don't know…"
(14:06:07) Minaplo: ["Can I talk with him about it? Find a good time?"]
(14:07:00) Sept: "Yeah, yes, of course. Should I get back to you or…"
(14:07:21) Minaplo: ["Sure."]
(14:10:13) Sept: "Alright! We'll see how it goes." Sera stood up with a hop and stretched a bit. "And I'll see you around?"
(14:13:24) Mianplo: ["Uh-huh."]
(14:18:33) Sept: "Thanks for the time," Sera said with one last solemn nod before turning to walk away, hands in his coat pockets again.
(14:30:37) Sept: […]
(14:33:11) Sept: No matter how many times Sera visited Engineering, he kept expecting the decontamination corridor set up in front of it. So it was this time as he came pattering down the stair case, lightly touching on each step before finding the landing with a bit of a skid.
(14:35:22) Mianplo: [Engineering was as bustling and busy as ever.-
(14:36:30) Mianplo: [Who would he be looking for today?]
(14:38:03) Sept: Ritsuko was the safe choice, but Surov, maybe Sarasvati would definitely do as well. Anyone on the dais…?
(14:41:25) Mianplo: [Actually, it was Maya Ibuki on the dais.-
(14:41:26) Mianplo: [Uh oh.]
(14:43:55) Sept: Uh oh is right. No eye contact and just circle past to the right, it's fine.
(14:45:01) Mianplo: ["GREETINGS, APPRENTICE DE PTERES!" boomed a voice. Half the heads in the room turned.]
(14:48:50) Sept: "…yes. Right." Sera turned around and raised a hand in greeting, but it looked more like an act of confession. "Hey! Going alright?"
(14:49:59) Mianplo: [Tech Guard Aleksandr marched over, a small army of techies almost diving out of the way.-
(14:50:20) Mianplo: ["I have been looking for you."]
(14:54:00) * Sept fought the urge to take a step back in the face of the intimidating figure. "I have a- I have quarters, Xander." He looked at the Guard suspiciously. "Why'd you want to find me?"
(14:56:09) Mianplo: ["I have something for you."]
(14:57:25) * Sept put a hand on his hip, still unsure what to make of this. "Alright? What is it?"
(14:59:31) Mianplo: ["A gift… And a test." He said in what he clearly thought was a sly voice.]
(15:01:12) Sept: "Alright… Lay it on me," he said, straightening himself out as well as he could.
(15:01:43) Mianplo: ["This way." Aleksandr began walking off toward his favourite workshop room… On the other side of Engineering.-
(15:01:50) Mianplo: [Sera could feel Ibuki's gaze…]
(15:05:55) Sept: It's fine, Sera told himself. She can't actually bore holes through you. No need for an AT Field. Don't make a scene. "A test, huh," he said, just to look like he was actually talking with Aleksandr.
(15:07:29) Mianplo: ["And a gift!"-
(15:07:44) Mianplo: [They somehow made it to his workshop unscathed…-
(15:07:53) Mianplo: [The workshop was as dissolute as ever.-
(15:07:58) Mianplo: ["It's on the table."-
(15:10:23) Mianplo: [It was… A bolter. Specifically, a Storm Bolter- a heavy weapon that resembled two bolters strapped together in a single casing. They were rare weapons, because only Iron Guard could fire them without breaking something.-
(15:11:08) Mianplo: [Sera had worked on a few of these before, enough to tell that it was an unusual version. It looked slimmer than a standard Iron Guard Storm Bolter, smaller, with odd ergonomic choices around the handle that he couldn't identify.]
(15:15:19) Sept: "The bolter?" Sera looked at the Guard, then at the firearm, and approached the table. "Is it both of the things?"
(15:16:50) Mianplo: ["Yes." Said Aleksandr. "It is a Storm Bolter, something I have been working on. A design that can be wielded by mortal men. This is a test type copy."-
(15:16:55) Mianplo: ["You get the first one."]
(15:19:35) Sept: "Well, I'm honored, Aleksandr." Sera carefully pulled it closer to him on the table, making note of some of the parts that had been streamlined to accommodate for the additions. "And the test? It blows up to see if I -am- mortal?"
(15:27:23) Minaplo: ["Hahahaha. No. The test is that it isn't finished." Said Aleksandr with an evil gleam in his eye. "That's your duty."]
(15:31:39) Sept: "…ah," Sera caught on. That meant it'd just blow up slightly later. "What have you done to it so far? Same power output?"
(15:36:22) Minaplo: ["Secret."]
(15:44:10) Sept: "So how am I supposed to…?" Sera picked up the weapon and turned it over in his hands.
(15:44:49) Minaplo: ["That's your job."]
(15:47:48) Sept: "Cool. I'll see what I can do," he concluded, the death gaze outside the furthest thing from his mind by now. "How much time do I have?"
(15:48:19) Minaplo: ["Unlimited."]
(15:52:47) Sept: "Well, technically, yes," Sera admitted. "I'll take a look at it now and come take a real shot at it tom- Hm. Maybe not tomorrow, but day after at the latest."-
(15:55:06) * Sept set the Storm Bolter back on the table, pulled up his right sleeve and grabbed a set of precision screwdrivers. "I just agreed to start a bit of a creative project that might cut into my unlimited time…"
(15:55:41) Minaplo: ["Indeed?"]
(16:00:05) Sept: "Music. Composition and performance both, maybe." He started disassembling the device, hoping to start with the power supply. But it wasn't guaranteed to work the same way as a more standard bolter…
(16:02:27) Minaplo: ["Ho, I didn't know you were musical."]
(16:09:54) Sept: "I played flute in school. My girlfriend…" Sera paused for a moment, seemingly unsatisfied with the word. "She played violin. I picked it up for a bit, too, after we parted ways. And Blanc helped me with that… So now I'm collaborating with a violin player for this thing." Part of the exterior for the back end was loose, now. If he removed the exhaust module at the top, the other bits would start to follow…-
(16:10:07) Sept: "It's all very meaningful," he summarized.
(16:11:43) Minaplo: ["I see. My wife played piano."]
(16:12:53) Sept: "Oh?"
(16:13:10) Minaplo: ["Yes. Very well."]
(16:14:16) Sept: "Was that a big selling point for you?"
(16:15:03) Minaplo: ["I would have loved her if she could not tell ivory from ebony, if that answers your question."]
(16:21:20) Sept: "Heh." The thing was really starting to come apart now. Sera placed the components on the table in roughly the order of assembly, glancing back at Aleksandr both because of his story, and to check for any sign of disapproval, meaning some kind of error. "Good times?"
(16:22:13) Minaplo: ["Yes." Said Aleksandr. He sighed. "Very good times."]
(16:27:13) Sept: "That was before your Guard days?"
(16:30:10) Minaplo: ["Yes. That was before Impact."]
(16:31:25) Sept: "Ah. I'm sorry."
(16:31:39) Minaplo: ["Don't worry about it."]
(16:35:46) * Sept nodded, returning his full attention to the task at hand. "I don't get it. The handle's angled differently, but the direction of the recoil should be the same. How are you supposed to fire this?"
(16:36:16) Minaplo: ["The answer's in your hands."]
(16:59:20) Sept: "It is?"-
(17:03:28) Sept: Sera pored over the pile of components twice before his eyes hit upon one that was familiar in a different way from the rest. It looked like a socket for something, like a missing module or a power cable. He held it up for the Guard to see. "Aleksandr? Where'd you get this?"
(17:03:41) Minaplo: ["Made it."]
(17:08:30) Sept: "What the hell…" Sera muttered, examining the oval connector disc for a bit longer, before setting it down. He moved a few of the other parts around, reattaching them. "And everything else is here. So the bolter -is- functional. Just not complete?"
(17:09:03) Minaplo: ["Heh."]
(17:19:14) Sept: A few minutes and brief panic caused by a mysterious leftover screw later, Sera was trying the weight of the customized Storm Bolter. His artificial hand was resting on the table by itself, replaced by the stock of the bolter attaching directly to his wrist and, subsequently, the reinforced bone structure in it. He leaned around awkwardly to make sure the safety was still on.-
(17:22:40) Sept: "It's throwing my weight way the fuck off, of course, but… I guess it must be usable." He turned around, the weaponized arm trailing behind the rest of him, supported by his other hand. "Still strides ahead of a Power Claw."
(17:23:28) Minaplo: ["It will feel better in Power Armour."]
(17:24:44) Sept: "I wouldn't make a very attractive G-" He looked at the Guard suspiciously again.-
(17:24:48) Sept: "You didn't, right?"
(17:26:11) Minaplo: ["Heh heh."]
(17:28:33) Sept: "No way! You solved mass-produced Guard armor?"
(17:40:11) Minaplo: ["Hah. I didn't make you a new suit." Said Aleksandr. He thumbed toward a nearby steel shed.]
(17:46:51) Sept: "What, looted off some diminutive Stormtrooper?" Sera detached the bolter and hoisted it up on the table, approached the shed and dragged the door open with one hand. "Not that that wouldn't be cool…"
(17:55:52) Minaplo: [It wasn't Stormtrooper armour.-
(17:58:09) Minaplo: [It was Iron Guard Scout Armour. Smaller, slimmer, yet still superior to regular Power Armour.-
(17:58:24) Minaplo: [This suit… Was currently dirtied and damaged in multiple places. But it was still usable.-
(17:58:55) Minaplo: ["The Guard who owned this suit was killed permanently." Said Aleksandr. "It's useless to us now. But…"-
(17:59:42) Minaplo: ["I've stripped out some of the features. We Guard interface with our armour through body ports, which you don't and can't have, so it won't be as useful. But it's still a good deal, lightweight, and the cloak can camo to any surface perfectly."]
(18:05:13) Sept: "…"
(18:08:03) Minaplo: ["But I'm sure you'd prefer your spirit armour thingy…"]
(18:16:16) Sept: "Hey, fuck you, we'd need more than Earth's technology to reforge it with perfect camouflage. This is…" Sera looked conflicted, and tried to scratch his head with his left hand, before realizing he didn't have it. "Well, it's not something I would've asked for. But if it works half as well as you say it does, it'll save me…"
(18:20:11) Minaplo: ["Well, it doesn't. Because you still have to fix it first."]
(18:26:06) * Sept nodded. "I'll do it. I honestly believe it may save me sometime. Anything special?"
(18:27:44) Minaplo: ["I've given you an out and configured the gauntlet for your hand and gun."]
(18:35:47) Sept: "Wow. Thanks! So it's just a full run-through of everything else? I don't know if I'm up to it, but it's got some kind of diagnostic, right…?"
(18:36:41) Minaplo: ["You'll need to fix that first."]
(18:42:08) Sept: "Oof." Sera inspected the exterior of the suit closely, idly trying to rub some of the singe marks off. "Sounds like I need more time than I've got now."
(18:43:01) Minaplo: ["You know, this stuff is so second nature to me that I do it as a type of meditation." He said, resting a hand on Sera's shoulder. "It's just nuts, bolts, components. No chance at play, just your skill. You focus on that, you can block out everything else and truly test your ability."]
(18:50:50) Sept: "Yeah? But it takes forever to get to that point. You can't get in the flow if you can't… recognize everything that can go wrong with those nuts and bolts and components."-
(18:50:55) Sept: "I think."
(18:53:34) Mianplo: ["You think I haven't seen you at work?" Said Aleksandr. "You don't know nearly enough, but… You have a talent for it, I think. You don't see it. I do."]
(18:59:55) * Sept stood back up and faced him, leaving the shed door open. "…thanks. But don't call it 'talent'. I've just had time to think about it."
(19:04:52) Mianplo: ["That works."]
(19:07:59) * Sept gave the man's arm a pat and went to retrieve his hand. "But hey, I should keep going. Oh, um. If I die, just give the suit to Yanmei or something, okay?"
(19:11:49) Mianplo: ["Will do."]
(19:16:04) * Sept clicked his hand into place and switched the neural transmitters on. The gloved fingers twitching to life without the pins-and-needles sensation of bloodflow was still strange, to say the least. "I'll see you around, Xander!" he shouted over his shoulder to the Tech Guard as he left, flexing the fingers on both hands.
(19:50:48) Mianplo: [The dais was empty. For a glorious second, Sera might think he was free.-
(19:50:53) Mianplo: [Sera was wrong.-
(19:50:57) Mianplo: ["Hmph."-
(19:51:46) Mianplo: [No, his persistent predator was right next to him, arms folded, mouth twisted into replete disapproval, her eyes burning into him with such ferocity…-
(19:52:31) Mianplo: [She wasn't supposed to be that intimidating, really. She was a fair shorter than Sera, quite slender and probably didn't have much in the way of combat experience. She didn't even have an AT Field.-
(19:53:13) Mianplo: [It should've frightened her, yet she very obviously wasn't. That was alarming.]
(19:56:16) Sept: "M-Maya." Sera's hand found the switch for the workshop door and hit it, hearing the whirr-clack behind him, but never taking his eyes off -her-.
(20:01:36) Mianplo: ["You cad." She hissed.]
(20:02:54) Sept: "Maya. Maya, what is a cad?" Sera held up his hands in front of him. "Look, I just want to…"
(20:08:14) Mianplo: ["A heartless man who toys with a woman's heart!" Said Maya heatedly, cutting him off. "Akagi-Senpai trusted you. She trusted you with her gentle heart, and you just play with it like it's a toy! How could you?!"-
(20:08:21) Mianplo: [At this point, people were starting to stare.-
(20:08:30) Mianplo: [Sera heard a nearby Iron Guard tsk.]
(20:12:31) Sept: "Maya!" Sera looked and sounded quite cornered as he backed up the two paces against the workshop door. "S-Stop that, I'm sorry!"
(20:12:56) Mianplo: ["Have you apologised to Akagi-Senpai!?"]
(20:15:36) Sept: "N-No, I mean, for what, -please stand back-!" Sera's voice was a fascinating combination of an agitated scream and a whisper.
(20:17:20) Mianplo: ["Toying with her and her sister at the same time? Why?" She closed her eyes, placed her hands against her cheeks. W-Were those tears?-
(20:17:29) Mianplo: ["It's just so cruel! I thought you were a good person…"]
(20:23:10) Sept: "Ididn'tdoanything!" Sera squealed. "P-Please, justletme-" Sera took a few rapid breaths. "Just. Talk to me. I don't know what I did. Right? Maya?"
(20:26:57) Mianplo: ["Akagi-senpai trusted you to look after Tsucchin." Said Maya, her voice atremble. "But now you're romancing Akagi-senpai too? It's not fair!"]
(20:30:57) Sept: "-I'm romancing no one-!" Sera yelled, having regained his voice. His hands were still in a moderately defensive posture in front of him, though.
(20:31:50) Mianplo: ["Don't deny it! I saw you with Akagi-Senpai at the wedding!"-
(20:32:04) Mianplo: ["Oh, goodness." Said the nearby Iron Guard.]
(20:34:56) Sept: "Wedding…?"-
(20:36:52) Sept: It clicked, and Sera's mind switched gears. His hands dropped by him, then balled up into fists. He took half of a deep breath.-
(20:37:26) Sept: "I GAVE HER -SMOKES-! SHE WAS OUT!" he practically screamed.-
(20:37:36) Sept: "I'VE BEEN AVOIDING YOU FOR DAYS- WEEKS, FOR THIS?!"-
(20:38:24) Sept: He lowered his voice back to a whisper. "You- You're -unbelievable-. I hope everything you love turns to -ashes-."
(20:39:10) Mianplo: [She gasped. Her eyes widened.-
(20:39:56) Mianplo: [Then she struck him. Across the face. It hurt… More than it should've. "You jerk-"-
(20:40:08) Mianplo: ["Whoa whoa whoa!" Came a new voice- Ritsuko's. "What on Earth is going on?!"]
(20:44:55) * Sept didn't flinch, but he could feel his cheek getting sore and red. He kept staring at Maya with all the force he could muster after her psychic blitzkrieg and his outburst. "-Nothing-! There was never -anything- going on!"
(20:45:28) Mianplo: ["You two. My office. Get moving." Said Ritsuko, her tone deadly calm.]
(20:51:30) Sept: "…of course," Sera said, trying to find his businesslike tone. He turned, finally letting his eyes off Maya and rubbing the side of his face briefly with one hand.
(20:53:11) Mianplo: [Ritsuko's office was looking a little cluttered. Gadgets stewn haphazardly across her desk. A few bent, lipstick-marked cigarette butts in a crystal ashtray, next to a few empty bottles of iced tea. There was a white-furred cat on a pillow in the corner, which watched Sera with suspicious blue eyes.-
(20:53:39) Mianplo: [Ritsuko closed the door behind them.-
(20:53:45) Mianplo: ["So." Said Ritsuko, turning slowly on her heel.-
(20:55:29) Mianplo: […-
(20:56:31) Mianplo: [Ritsuko had skilfully extracted everything she needed out of them. Like a magician, she had brought the truth out from them both and then presented it so they could see how absurd they'd been.-
(20:58:39) Mianplo: ["So." Said Ritsuko patiently. "Maya, I want you to apologise to Sera for accosting him, calling him a cad and actually paying attention to rumours you heard from Katsuragi, James Riel, Bruce Savage and Weiss-Xylander."-
(21:00:02) Mianplo: [Maya sniffled and ran a hand across her burning cheek. She turned toward Sera. "S-Sorry."]
(11:05:53) * Sept exhaled deeply and lowered his crossed arms somewhat, chewing his lip. It took a bit of an effort to actually face her. "Right. And I'm- sorry I acted so…" Another breath. "suspiciously, and for not confronting you about it like a person. I'm sorry I yelled at you. No one's made me feel like that in a long time and I. Guess I panicked. I'm… sure you like plenty of nice things, and I don't want anything bad to happen to them."
(11:17:29) @Mianplo: ["O-Okay."-
(11:17:42) @Mianplo: ["Now then." Said Ritsuko. "I want the two of you to stand and bow."]
(11:18:32) Sept: "That's hardly culturally appropriate…"
(11:29:03) @Mianplo: ["Do I have to repeat myself?"]
(11:31:56) Sept: "…of course not." Sera took a step back from Maya, facing her with one arm across his stomach.
(11:32:50) @Mianplo: [Maya stood up straight, folded her hands demurely across her lap-
(11:32:58) @Mianplo: [Then she bowed lowly.]
(11:33:33) * Sept mimicked the gesture as well as he could.
(11:35:10) @Mianplo: ["Very good." Said Ritsuko patiently.-
(11:35:24) @Mianplo: ["So what're you doing down in Engineering, Sera?"]
(11:41:25) * Sept straightened himself out with a final look at Maya. "…needed input from you or Surov. I think- I was told it'd be good for me to know more about Evangelion. 'Everything', specifically. You know I did a bunch of reading into the engineering issues, but I don't know how to get started with all the metabiological advancements."-
(11:42:25) Sept: "Let alone DEVA or Dysangelion differences." His tone of voice was still firmly in confession mode, and he was powerless to do anything about it.
(11:46:43) @Mianplo: ["Hmm, I see. So do you just want us to teach you what we know, or are we supposed to help you find something in particular?"]
(11:52:38) Sept: "I'm not sure yet." Sera nodded sideways, considering it. "So the former. If there's a way that doesn't waste your time, though…"
(11:59:31) Minaplo: ["One idea comes to mind." Said Ritsuko. "But when you say 'everything'…"]
(12:02:18) Sept: "What is it?"
(12:03:11) Minaplo: ["Well, do you mean literally everything?"]
(12:06:24) Sept: "No way to know, is there? I've got my hunch that it's something about souls, connections to Seeds or something, but if uncovering secrets was as easy as that…"
(12:08:12) Minaplo: ["Why the hunch?"]
(12:12:20) Sept: "Why would anything else be that important? Well, some kind of weakness or untapped potential, I guess… But it's easy to ignore that with all the manpower we have on figuring out their combat potential."
(12:16:04) Minaplo: ["Who told you to do this?" Asked Maya suddenly.]
(12:19:07) Sept: "Ezra Caine," Sera replied confidently, with a quick glance back towards her.
(12:21:13) Minaplo: ["Hmmm." Ritsuko frowned. She took out a cigarette.-
(12:21:44) Minaplo: ["You're thinking something, Maya?" Asked Ritsuko as shit lit up.-
(12:24:17) Minaplo: ["Well… Who is Ezra Caine?" Asked Maya, still staring at Sera. "I mean, like, I know of him, but who is he?"]
(12:29:21) * Sept crossed his arms and turned halfway between the two women, looking at Maya. "He's one of the other Caines, not usually in good relations at all with the main- with our branch. But Mary needed an outward face for the UN since she's incapable of compromise and busy with who knows what, and Ezra was a capable and well-liked leader."-
(12:29:35) Sept: "Or that's the official story, and there's no benefit to going against it, anyway."
(12:30:35) Minaplo: ["And your assumption is that he wants you to find out something he already knows, right?"]
(12:32:20) Sept: "He might not have all the details, even. But yes. I see no harm in it."
(12:35:33) Minaplo: ["Alright. So what's he likely to know himself?"]
(12:41:44) Sept: "I… couldn't tell you. He's just as likely to know about secret weapons, spies and their newest Eva advancements as he is about the Eternity Drive and at least -something- about their plans beyond it."
(12:45:37) Minaplo: ["But he would know that you wouldn't be able to study the Dysangelions or the Devas." Said Maya. "Because we don't have any to study."]
(12:53:19) * Sept shook his head, eyes faced slightly downward. "But we might, eventually. And when we do, I think looking at what separates them would be huge, even if it wasn't required. Um." He looked up at the two of them again. "But yes, obviously we'd start with our Evas."
(12:55:06) Minaplo: ["If you want to start with the souls- I know the identity of each Eva." Said Maya. "So if you're not sure, I can fill that in…"]
(13:06:21) Sept: "Mm. I stopped being so concerned with them a while ago, so I never finished looking for the last ones." Sera did a quick count of the active Evangelions. "02, 07, 08 and 21 were mysteries to me, I think."
(13:39:38) Minaplo: ["Mm… 02 is Kyoko Zeppelin-Soryu." Said Maya. "Pilot Langley-Soryu's mother."-
(13:40:23) Minaplo: ["07 is Yulia Romanova, Vladimir Romanov's daughter and the mother of Natasha Volkova and Vasily Volkov."-
(13:40:37) Minaplo: ["08 is Wei Liyi, Gabriel-Wei's mother."-
(13:41:00) Minaplo: ["And 21 is Dorian Lachapelle." She finished, slowly.]
(13:44:34) Sept: "Yeah. See my face? It's not surprised. You people and mothers…"-
(13:45:01) Minaplo: [Maya gave him a split-second look of hurt 'what-did-I-do'.]
(13:46:30) Sept: "Not that I would've guessed him in William's unit…" Sera continued, rubbing his chin in complete ignorance. "Guess the timing worked out. Those two don't have any relation I don't know about, right?"
(13:47:37) Minaplo: ["Shared experiences." Said Ritsuko. "In truth, Matthias Holmstrom would probably be a better fit… I guess they finagled something in order to secure a place for a more dependable agent."]
(13:48:32) Sept: "Mm. Finagling was definitely a factor. What do you mean, shared experiences?"
(13:49:36) Minaplo: ["Well, you know when you experience something, and someone else experiences something similar…?" Said Ritsuko.-
(13:49:42) Minaplo: ["Don't be mean, Senpai."-
(13:49:50) Minaplo: ["Oh, hush. I'm allowed to tease him."]
(13:52:37) Sept: "You got me, Senpai. Every time I open my heart. Child soldier, some kind of trauma, or what?"
(13:54:07) Minaplo: ["Trauma, similar ideals…" Said Ritsuko. "When I investigated it, the answer I was given was that they'd both spent years of their life trying to stem the worst of humanity's suffering."]
(13:57:02) Sept: "And that was good enough for you?"
(13:59:23) Minaplo: ["Well… Not entirely." Said Ritsuko. "I'd probably put it down to his Adam-type soul just having a high level of natural compatibility with a rather unfussy unit."]
(14:00:57) * Sept nodded, counting something down with his fingers quickly. "And then the Ayanamis. They… have souls, right?"-
(14:00:59) Sept: "I mean, their Evas. They're not that exceptional?"
(14:02:53) Minaplo: ["Do you know about the Disciples of Lilith?" Asked Maya.]
(14:08:13) Sept: "Just… by name, I think. The ones that were in Terminal Dogma?"
(14:08:32) Minaplo: ["Yeah." Said Maya.-
(14:10:17) Minaplo: ["The Disciples are powerful beings." Said Ritsuko. "When Adam and Lilith first met, Longinus sealed Adam and made her inert. Lilith tried to absorb her and used Adam's power to empower twelve Lilim souls. Twelve was all she was able to make before the Lance of Longinus sealed her and averted disaster."]
(14:16:09) Sept: "They're related to Elisha's apotheosis, and quite probably required for it. Do you know if they had any special purpose when they were created?"
(14:18:17) Minaplo: ["I don't." Said Ritsuko. "Some sort of clause for Lilith, perhaps. She might've known that Longinus would seal her, and so created them for some purpose, one related to Lilith's own renewal. But this is only conjecture."]
(14:21:18) Sept: "Got it."
(14:22:54) Minaplo: ["So what next?" Asked Maya.]
(14:27:19) Sept: "Well. Evas are normally entirely independent of both Seeds, right?"
(14:27:50) Minaplo: ["Sort of…"-
(14:30:16) Minaplo: ["The Evas are, with one exception, made with the flesh of Adam." Said Ritsuko. "But they possess the souls of Lilith's children. That makes them something not of Lilith, nor of Adam. So yes, that makes them independent of either Seeds- any pilots within are also independent."-
(14:31:02) Minaplo: ["Theoretically, however, an Eva with a deeply dormant or weakened soul could be commanded by Adam if Adam were awakened."]
(14:33:30) Sept: "Is there any way to actively weaken a soul like that? Through an attack or long-term treatment?"
(14:35:03) Minaplo: ["Hmmmm. Soul division." Said Ritsuko. "That's the obvious answer- soul division weakens a soul greatly, and although the pieces will try to regenerate their missing wholes, if they're kept properly dormant at that time, they can't, and are weak besides for some time."]
(14:40:43) Sept: "Does that necessarily require access to the core in hangar conditions?"
(14:44:16) Minaplo: ["Yeah. It would require us to take the souls out and divide them, then place a portion back in."-
(14:44:38) Minaplo: ["The Ayanami souls are all divided." Said Maya. "One half for pilot, one half for Eva. In case you didn't know."]
(14:49:50) Sept: "I got that. And from what we know, Dysangelions are similar to an extent. Do we know anything about sufficiently powerful Evas -with- divided souls being able to influence the soul's non-Eva portions in any meaningful way? I… have a feeling Isaiah won't do for a textbook case for that."
(14:52:14) Minaplo: ["Non-Eva portions? What do you mean?" Asked Maya.]
(14:56:18) Sept: "I mean," said Sera, shifting his weight to better convey his thoughts. "Do the Ayanamis' Evangelion units have power over their human forms or the souls housed in those forms when they're not piloting? Or the other way around?"
(14:58:42) Minaplo: ["They don't." Said Ritsuko. "The Ayanami Evas are dormant, proper dormant, to the Ayanami pilots. At least as far as we know. That was the idea…"-
(14:59:27) Minaplo: ["Outside of the Eva, the Ayanamis aren't able to order the Evas around like a Prime does- at least, not that we know of- but the Ayanamis are able to draw on the Eva and their original bodies to power their own AT Fields."]
(15:10:06) Sept: Another nod. "What about permanently hurting or disabling the Eva by getting at the pilot? Intensive neutralization, torture, stuff like that? If they're drawing power from it, there must be some kind of two-way street there through to the core. Of course the difference in power is still several orders of magnitude…"
(15:46:40) Minaplo: ["… Hmm." Ritsuko frowned. "I admit, I don't know all that much about this particular topic. You might want to go to Dr. Ikari- she'll be able to tell you anything."]
(15:56:19) Sept: "That's fine. Something on those lines I've been wondering… Gendo mentioned something along those lines sometime, but. What exactly does it take to produce a person who's independent from Lilith's influence - or separate someone from it?"
(15:57:18) Minaplo: ["Produce someone independent from Lilith… I dunno." Said Ritsuko. "And separating someone from it? Permanently, the only real way is to change Lilith herself and make her separate you."]
(16:02:50) Sept: "And no amount of AT fields is going to change that?"
(16:04:15) Minaplo: ["Not practically. I suppose if a human being had an incredibly powerful AT Field they could override Lilith-"-
(16:04:25) Minaplo: ["Didn't Dr. Ikari say that Shi-" Began Maya.-
(16:04:34) Minaplo: [Ritsuko let out an awkward sort of frayed hiss.-
(16:04:43) Minaplo: ["Errr, Vercingetorix end up kind of immune?"-
(16:04:59) Minaplo: ["Yeah, but we dunno if that's separate from Adam's effects or not."]
(16:07:28) * Sept shook his head despondently. The point of even having a Vercingetorix kept rapidly fading. "What do you mean, 'kind of'?"
(16:09:00) Minaplo: ["Well, I mean, in the sense that he's immune but he's also paying a big price for it." Said Maya awkwardly.]
(16:11:49) Sept: "Oh, okay," Sera said, sounding positively surprised by such a simple answer. "I guess I'll… have to talk to her at some point, then."
(16:12:36) Minaplo: ["Yeah." Said Maya.]
(16:13:21) Sept: "Tips?"
(16:15:58) Minaplo: ["On talking to Dr. Ikari?" Said Ritsuko.]
(16:18:52) Sept: "Yeah," Sera said, like he was stating the obvious.
(16:19:07) Minaplo: ["Well, a good start would be not to use her as a human shield…"-
(16:19:17) Minaplo: ["W-What…?" Maya's eyes widened- then instantly narrowed.]
(16:24:47) Sept: "No- no, we're not going there," Sera said, diplomatically. "That's out of context."-
(16:25:19) Minaplo: ["Hmph!"]
(16:25:19) Sept: "Out of very, very bad context, but we're not going there."
(16:26:56) Minaplo: ["Well." Said Ritsuko, smirking smugly. "Try speaking to her like a normal human being?"-
(16:27:07) Minaplo: ["Or are you afraid she'll just outright refuse you based on your previous history?"]
(16:32:37) Sept: "Well, maybe I am. Not much I can do about that, though."
(16:33:11) Minaplo: ["I can help you. Two things." Said Ritsuko.]
(16:36:06) Sept: "What?"
(16:37:11) Minaplo: ["Firstly, you should just tell Dr. Ikari that you're trying to do this to help the Ayanamis or because you think something's threatening them. That'll make her open right up."]
(16:39:51) Sept: "I'm not gonna lie to her. But alright."
(16:41:06) Minaplo: ["Secondly, for the time being I'm going to assign Maya to you." Said Ritsuko. "She knows enough to answer most of your general questions, it keeps me free, and she can smooth the way with various people that might otherwise be less willing to answer."-
(16:41:12) Minaplo: [Maya pouted.]
(16:50:37) Sept: "Right…" Sera scratched his temple. "Well, honestly, I've been pretty busy today, so I thought I might just stop by and see how Tsucchin's doing and head back. I can handle Ikari another time."
(16:51:29) Minaplo: ["Alright." Said Ritsuko.]
(16:59:41) Sept: "Oh." Sera squinted a little. "I don't suppose you have any documentation on how we implant souls into things…? My recollection of how that works is pretty crappy, so it might give me something…"
(17:00:20) Minaplo: ["Sure. I'll prepare a file for you."]
(17:01:47) Sept: "Thanks," he nodded, looking apologetic. "I know I'm just stumbling around through all this, but I appreciate it."
(17:07:38) Minaplo: ["It's fine." Said Ritsuko with a smile.]
(17:11:55) Sept: "Mm!" Sera nodded happily. "I'll grab it next time, then. I'll see you?"
(17:12:06) Minaplo: ["You will."]
(17:14:57) Sept: "Heh." Sera took a step back from the two of them, turned around and walked past Maya out of the room, back into the comfortable, judgmental depths of Engineering.
(15:07:23) @Minaplo: [Off to see Tsubaki, then?]
(15:09:43) Sept: If she wasn't busy with… whatever it is she does. Wouldn't hurt to check, anyway.-
(15:10:01) Sept: Well, considering the events so far, it might just hurt his reputation further.
(15:21:29) @Minaplo: [Fighting a losing battle, Sera. Onward!-
(15:31:11) @Minaplo: [Tsubaki would be with EVA-03… In the very back of Engineering, sealed away from the rest of the section by massive black blast doors. Luckily, there were smaller doors for Sera to pass through.-
(15:35:08) @Minaplo: [EVA-03 stood, restrained across the arms and wings, its top half obscured by a twisted shell of cables and connectors shaped into a harness. These were plugged into four pipe-like structures, about nine metres in diameter, jutting out of the wall. Clear stripes were built into the pipes' sides, and every few seconds these glowed with a bright kaleidoscopic light. Each pulse was accompanied
(15:35:08) @Minaplo: by a deep reverberation throughout the room, regular and steady like a heartbeat.-
(15:37:06) @Minaplo: [There were decks ringing the room, surrounding 03. Near the top was a series of consoles where Sera could speak to Tsubaki, interred within the Eva. A series of mobile platforms would take him up and down to wherever he needed to go.]
(15:47:13) * Sept fiddled with his clothes for a bit, looking like he was checking his pockets for something as he gauged the mood in 03's little hollow. Calm enough…?
(15:47:35) @Minaplo: [Everything seemed calm. No one was here, at least…]
(15:50:12) Sept: "Right," he said, straightening himself out and heading for the lift platforms. For a moment, Sera wondered why he was even allowed in here so easily, but he knew better than to jinx it.
(15:52:40) @Minaplo: [The lift platforms worked with an easy row of buttons.]
(15:56:05) * Sept hit the button for ascending.-
(15:56:10) Sept: If only it were that easy.
(15:57:46) @Minaplo: [Well, this one was. It went up.-
(15:59:02) @Minaplo: [On reaching the top deck, Sera would notice that the largest of the screens built into the console bank was dedicated to a live feed inside Tsubaki's plug. There was a microphone nearby…-
(15:59:29) @Minaplo: [Tsubaki was visible on said feed, herself staring into a display in her Plug- some sort of list, but he was too far away to really see.]
(16:02:45) Sept: "Heeey," Sera called out as he arrived to the consoles on his glorious, flat mechanized mount.-
(16:02:53) Sept: The microphone was on, right?
(16:04:45) @Minaplo: [It was, and as he approached, Tsubaki turned to face him.-
(16:05:17) @Minaplo: [She was sitting up straight and proper in the Plug; her eyes were wide open, clear and bright.-
(16:05:33) @Minaplo: [… Until they were squeezed shut. A few seconds of looking at Sera rendered her breathless with giggles.]
(16:08:47) Sept: "-What-?" Sera smiled awkwardly and immediately brought a hand to his face to see if there was something on it. His glasses were fine…
(16:10:29) @Minaplo: [Tsubaki twisted onto her side, leaning back against her chair. She stretched her arms and legs out, emphasising her natural curves… The effect was ruined by her constant giggling. "Aren't you… Pff… here to seduce me, you awful cad?"-
(16:10:36) @Minaplo: [She instantly collapsed into fits of laughter.]
(16:16:34) Sept: "N-No!" Goddamnit, they'd gotten to her already?! Additionally, Sera wasn't really sure how to take this from her. He settled on trying to compose himself and put on some kind of aloof air. "No, I'm not. So there."
(16:17:55) Mianplo: ["Well good. I don't want to be seduced."]
(16:18:22) Sept: "-Good-. Hmph."-
(16:19:40) * Sept relaxed, facing the monitor squarely again. "I just thought I'd stop by. How did you hear about that, anyway?"
(16:24:42) Mianplo: ["I saw the whole thing." Said Tsubaki. "I see everything in here. I saw you having Wellingtons with Yanmei and Blue. They looked pretty good. Shame you didn't save me any."]
(16:27:43) * Sept looked at her sharply, hesitating with his words. "…ah. I- I see."
(16:28:54) Mianplo: ["Don't worry!" Said Tsubaki, frowning. "I don't watch you all the time."]
(16:29:53) Sept: "You can't hear everything, right?"
(16:30:11) Mianplo: ["I can if I want to."]
(16:31:26) Sept: "Didn't realize you'd taken over for Jeanne."
(16:32:08) Mianplo: ["That's really mean." Said Tsubaki. "I should dangle you over the edge and shake that rudeness right out of you."]
(16:37:11) Sept: "I… hold on to it pretty tightly."
(16:37:33) Mianplo: ["I can shake pretty hard!"-
(16:38:24) Mianplo: ["… But I shouldn't." Said Tsubaki with a sigh. "Marianne told me I'm not supposed to use mama's powers inconsiderately. So to answer your question, I can hear everything but I don't."]
(16:44:08) * Sept nodded slowly. "I guess I'm fine with that. Not that… you need my approval. We wouldn't be here without you."
(16:45:56) Mianplo: ["That's right." Said Tsubaki.-
(16:46:23) Mianplo: ["Or we'd have to use Yanmei or Isaiah… But they're not very good at it." Sighed Tsubaki.-
(16:46:53) Mianplo: [She turned toward the screen again. "I want your approval, though, onii-chan. Don't forget that."-
(16:46:57) Mianplo: [Tsubaki beamed.]
(16:54:22) Sept: "Heheh." A blush crept up Sera's cheeks as he was caught off guard again. "Fine, fine. You know you barely need to ask for it."
(16:54:51) Mianplo: ["Hehe~"-
(16:55:08) Mianplo: [She glanced back at her list- with one hand, she was typing on a holographic keyboard.-
(16:56:42) Mianplo: ["I'm kind of disappointed though, Onii-chan." Said Tsubaki.]
(16:58:22) Sept: "Huh? With my lunch yesterday?"
(16:58:35) Mianplo: ["Nah."-
(16:58:55) Mianplo: ["I just wasn't expecting Maya-chan to shake you up so much is all. What happened there?"]
(17:00:26) Sept: "…"-
(17:01:19) Sept: "Yeah, I wonder," he said, leaning on the platform railing.
(17:05:56) Mianplo: ["Maybe…"-
(17:07:10) Mianplo: ["Maybe she reminds you of someone who used to kick your butt a lot." Said Tsubaki. "Then again, Maya-chan feels a lot like a sister naturally… She's really warm and friendly, honest."-
(17:07:46) Mianplo: ["Although," continued Tsubaki casually, "If you wanted me to screw her up a little for your sake, just say the word…"]
(17:13:09) Sept: "What do you m- Um. I mean, please don't. I think Ritsuko would like us to get along."-
(17:17:13) Sept: "But I thought about that, and… I don't know. Let's assume I miss Freya. I still don't- need her for anything. But it still doesn't make sense for Maya to have that kind of effect…"
(17:19:33) Mianplo: ["How did you feel when Maya went for you?"]
(17:26:12) Sept: "Trapped?" Sera suggested. "Not dangerously, but she actually surprised me to begin with, and… mmh." He made a difficult face as he tried to figure it out. "I feel like I should be worried about it. I'm very conscious of the things I feel and let myself feel, but I couldn't find a way out of that other than getting selfishly angry at her and blaming her for the whole thing…"
(17:30:45) Minaplo: ["How do you feel when people that aren't Maya go for you? Someone like Marianne, or Terry, or whoever else you've upset…"]
(17:34:56) Sept: "Annoyed or insulted, at most. Well, Marianne and Terry don't try to publicly shame me, either. Her aggression was just on a different level. Right?"
(17:47:57) Minaplo: ["Maybe. I dunno if just being more aggressive really does it for you."]
(17:58:01) Sept: "Well, maybe. But what do I care what Maya thinks? Or some as- dumb Guard in Engineering?"
[19:29] <@Mianplo> ["Maybe you do care." Said Tsubaki, sounding pleased with herself. "Maybe you care a lot~"]
[19:36] <Sept> "…" Sera folded his arms and started tapping on his sleeve anxiously with a finger. "I guess I'd care if it affected you and Ritsuko. But still…"
[19:39] <@Mianplo> ["Maybe you don't care if people are angry at you in most cases, but you might care if people are scared or upset." Said Tsubaki.-
[19:39] <@Mianplo> ["I mean, it helps that Maya's pretty cute, right…?"]
[19:43] <Sept> "S-Sure," he said, more or less admitting defeat. "I don't see why that's relevant, but you're clearly the expert on my emotions…"
[19:51] <@Mianplo> ["Don't be silly." Said Tsubaki with laugh. "I just happen to know a few weak spots is all…"-
[19:51] <@Mianplo> [For a few seconds, Tsubaki was silent. The only sound came from the responsive soft beeps of her holographic keyboard.]
[19:52] <Sept> "…what else can you do from there?"
[19:54] <@Mianplo> ["In what way?"]
[19:55] <Sept> "What else -do- you do in there," Sera corrected himself.
[19:59] <@Mianplo> ["Monitor for hidden intruders. Keep an eye on active AT Fields." Said Tsubaki. "Right now, I'm writing up my journal. I have lots of things I want to do, but I become forgetful and cloudy outside of the Plug, so I keep forgetting to do them. So I write a journal to tell me what to do."-
[19:59] <@Mianplo> ["… Only I keep forgetting to download it from the Plug afterwards." She said with a sigh.]
[20:03] <Sept> "Can I help?" Sera spoke up before he could catch himself.-
[20:03] <Sept> "I mean, should I?"
[20:04] <@Mianplo> ["What, download it for me?"]
[20:04] <Sept> "I guess?"
[20:05] <@Mianplo> ["Okay. But only if you promise not to peek at it."]
[20:07] <Sept> "Alright," he nodded. "But you'll have to promise you're not going to get in trouble for it."
[20:07] <@Mianplo> ["Why would I get in trouble?"]
[20:09] <Sept> "'Dear Tsucchin, remember to dangle Sera off the ship and shake the rudeness out of him'?"
[20:10] <@Mianplo> [She laughed.-
[20:10] <@Mianplo> ["Only if you peek…"]
[20:12] <Sept> "Well, then we're fine. I promise not to peek at your journal."
[20:13] <@Mianplo> ["And I promise not to plan to dangle you off the ship."]
(13:15:04) Sept: "It's not me I'm worried about!"
(13:15:21) @Mianplo: ["Oh?" She asked, her voice silky.]
(13:16:00) Sept: "Can you promise me you're not getting yourself in trouble with this," Sera repeated.
(13:17:00) @Mianplo: ["If I were, wouldn't you have heard before now?" Said Tsubaki. "I'm bored, not a bully…"]
(13:17:50) Sept: "So promise me."
(13:18:20) @Mianplo: ["Fiiine. I promise I'm not getting myself in trouble with this."]
(13:20:18) * Sept nodded firmly. "So you want me to get it once your shift ends?"
(13:21:02) @Mianplo: ["Uh-huh."]
(13:30:42) Sept: "Mm. I'll take care of it. When are you getting off, today?"
(13:41:44) @Mianplo: ["Mm… In three hours. Keep me company until then."]
(13:43:33) Sept: "…"-
(13:45:47) Sept: "Of course," Sera smiled and sat down on the platform, stretching his legs. "What do you want to talk about?"
(13:48:09) @Mianplo: ["Hmmm. Tell me a funny joke."]
(13:55:47) Sept: "Why are Seras so cheap to make?"
(13:57:10) @Mianplo: ["Why?"]
(13:58:03) Sept: "They're mostly water and a whole bunch of salt."
(13:58:41) @Mianplo: ["… I don't get it."]
(13:59:10) Sept: "Because I complain a lot. Maybe you had to be there?"
(13:59:50) @Mianplo: ["Does salt complain a lot?"]
(14:00:16) Sept: "Y-"-
(14:01:34) * Sept stayed quiet for a good ten seconds. "You're killing me, Tsubaki."
(14:02:55) @Mianplo: ["Have you considered eating less salt?"]
(14:04:06) Sept: "I'm going to be up all night thinking about this."
(14:04:45) @Mianplo: ["What if they made you with water and soy sauce?"]
(14:07:14) Sept: "What about it?"
(14:07:36) @Mianplo: ["Would that work?"]
(14:08:27) Sept: "They could make it work. What were we talking about?"
(14:09:22) @Mianplo: ["Keeping me entertained."]
(14:10:12) Sept: "Well, what about some stories? We'll take turns or something."
(14:10:53) @Mianplo: ["Okay. Should we pick what type of story?"]
(14:11:18) Sept: "If you want. What do you mean by what type?"
(14:14:18) @Mianplo: ["Y'know. Horror story, dirty story, funny story, sad story…"]
(14:17:24) Sept: "Oh. Mm."
(14:17:54) @Mianplo: ["So…?"]
(14:18:26) Sept: "I'm leaving it up to you."
(14:21:03) @Mianplo: ["Alright. Scare me."]
(14:23:12) Sept: "Um. I'll try."
(14:25:04) @Mianplo: ["Go on."]
(14:27:25) Sept: "But you know about everything scary that's happened to us."
(14:30:54) @Mianplo: ["Fine. Then I'll tell you scary stories and you can tell me dirty stories." Said Tsubaki with a huff.]
(14:36:35) Sept: "You know I don't have dirty stories!" Sera said, urgently.
(14:37:20) @Mianplo: ["… Aren't you hanging out with Little Aline?"]
(14:39:10) Sept: Sera's mouth made a tight, narrow line. "Maybe. But that's all weird gossip I don't want to touch…"
(14:40:06) @Mianplo: ["Fine. I'll do scary and dirty, you do funny and sad."]
(14:42:22) Sept: "F-Fine."
(14:55:07) @Mianplo: ["You first."]
(14:56:36) Sept: "How about the one where an adorable, innocent girl is accused of murder?"
(14:57:20) @Mianplo: [Tsubaki squinted suspiciously at him.]
(14:57:40) Sept: "The girl is you."
(14:58:18) @Mianplo: ["Wow."]
(14:59:59) Sept: "Does that count? I don't know what you're looking for!"
(15:00:54) @Mianplo: ["Geez, you're bad at this…" Tsubaki sighed. "Tell me a story that either makes me laugh or makes me sad or… Entertains me. Something I haven't heard before."]
(15:13:40) Sept: "Okay, okay, you could've said so…"-
(15:14:13) Sept: "You know anything about old Paris?"
(15:15:25) @Mianplo: ["I know it was old."]
(15:19:09) Sept: "Okay. Well, you know how most of it got ruined and we just built Paris-2 instead? And added receding architecture and some extra attractions to convince the more nostalgic people to move, too?"
(15:20:32) @Mianplo: ["And tourists!"]
(15:25:34) Sept: "Uh huh. So they rebuilt the Eiffel tower, the Louvre, and made a big deal out of building the Bastille, which they only finished later. But there'd still be people who wouldn't be happy with living in what was, what did they say…"-
(15:25:44) Sept: "A 'Disneyland knockoff'?"
(15:26:44) @Mianplo: ["Rude."]
(15:33:55) Sept: "Yeah. So they said they salvaged as much of the old city as possible. There's plaques on all sorts of buildings that certify them as part of the old city. So people paid fortunes to live in them, in the beginning."
(15:34:18) @Mianplo: ["Oopsie."]
(15:35:46) Sept: "Well, I'm sure some of them were real…"-
(15:40:12) Sept: "There was this guy — he was mute, Freya thought he wasn't born that way, that it was some kind of Impact trauma. This was when they were still building the Tower. So he'd run off somewhere every night, and it turned out he was sneaking into the Tower. Every single night."
(15:40:46) @Mianplo: ["Was he homeless?"]
(15:47:46) Sept: "Yeah. I mean, hm. Probably. Must've been, at least after a while of doing that? He was really friendly with a lot of people, great with his hands, built all sorts of things with the poor communities. But at night, he'd be a different person. Shifty, violent if you tried to get too close. And he'd climb onto the unfinished Eiffel tower, or get kicked out trying. You know what it was, in the end?"
(15:49:05) @Mianplo: ["What?"]
(15:51:11) Sept: "He couldn't sleep anywhere else. Because they'd said the first Paris-2 Tower was built entirely out of the reforged components of the original."
(15:51:40) @Mianplo: ["Yikes."]
(15:52:20) Sept: "So then they found out it wasn't."
(15:53:03) @Mianplo: ["W-What happened…?"]
(15:56:08) Sept: "They found most of it and some other stuff buried across several landfills. Some investigative journalist type thing. Now that I think about it, it must've been a leak… There was a huge outrage, anyway."
(15:56:28) @Mianplo: ["What happened to the guy?"]
(15:58:06) Sept: "Dunno."-
(16:00:04) Sept: "There were a bunch of people trying to build settlements in the ruins and around the landfills after that. Basically cults. But then, there were people convinced he'd just turned into a ghost. You know, like one of those urban legend things?"-
(16:00:41) Sept: "Or maybe he just got his shit together. I didn't see him after that, but I didn't really even know him."
(16:01:42) @Mianplo: ["Maybe Freya knows…"-
(16:01:52) @Mianplo: [Tap tap tap on the keyboard. "Added it to my journal."]
(16:04:22) Sept: "Yeah, we can all get together and figure out the mystery of the Eiffel man once the war's over."
(16:09:28) @Mianplo: ["We definitely will." Said Tsubaki, a little forcefully.]
(16:16:00) Sept: "You know she didn't do anything bad, right?"
(16:16:31) @Mianplo: ["Who?"]
(16:18:36) Sept: "Freya."
(16:18:57) @Mianplo: ["Okay." Said Tsubaki. "I never thought otherwise."]
(16:20:45) Sept: "Right. She was still hired by NERV somehow, but I really wanted to trust her, and still do."
(16:22:01) @Mianplo: ["I like Freya." Said Tsubaki warmly. "She was always kind. I have the sense it was more than just a job for her, Onii-chan."-
(16:22:11) @Mianplo: ["Hehe. Remember that time she got a hug pillow?"]
(16:22:48) Sept: "Yeah. That was. A christmas, alright."
(16:23:07) @Mianplo: ["You know what she did with it?"]
(16:25:21) Sept: "N… No?"
(16:25:38) @Mianplo: ["Do you wanna know what she did with it…?" Added Tsubaki in a sultry tone.]
(16:25:53) Sept: "Is this your dirty story or scary story?"
(16:26:16) @Mianplo: ["Oh sweet Onii-chan…"-
(16:26:22) @Mianplo: [The light in Tsubaki's plug went dark.-
(16:26:46) @Mianplo: [A second later, a single dim light appeared from a port on her plugsuit, flashing up towards her face.-
(16:26:53) @Mianplo: ["It is clearly both."]
(16:28:49) Sept: "…" Sera straightened himself out against the railing to see Tsubaki's monitor just a bit better. "Okay, fine. I'm ready to hear this," he said defiantly.
(16:32:45) @Mianplo: ["She gave it away."]
(16:34:53) Sept: "Nah, she wouldn't."
(16:35:11) @Mianplo: ["No, she definitely did."]
(16:36:43) * Sept eyed her monitor incredulously. "To wh-"-
(16:36:54) Sept: "Not to you?"
(16:38:42) @Mianplo: [A low, dark chuckle filled the plug- and the room.]
(16:39:08) Sept: "It wasn't intended for unironic use!"
(16:40:07) @Mianplo: ["Don't worry. I forgot it at the Minifront one day."]
(16:40:56) Sept: "I… see. So now it's," Sera paused ominously. "Just out there?"
(16:41:32) @Mianplo: ["Somewhere out there." Said Tsubaki.-
(16:41:42) @Mianplo: ["… That said, it's close by. In fact, it's on this very ship…"]
(16:42:58) Sept: "Come on," Sera said, doing his best to be unreceptive again.
(16:45:53) @Mianplo: ["When you leave this room, you'll never look at another person the same way again." Said Tsubaki quietly. "You'll be looking into their eyes, wondering…"-
(16:46:03) @Mianplo: ["'Has this person snuggled my dakimakura'?"]
(16:49:22) Sept: "…"-
(16:49:26) Sept: She was right.
(16:50:05) @Mianplo: [Tsubaki let her fell mirth fill the void once again.]
(16:53:38) Sept: "The worst… I don't have time to get to the bottom of this."
(17:01:23) @Mianplo: ["Someone does."]
(17:03:00) Sept: "Hm?"
(17:03:25) @Mianplo: ["Nothing~"]
(17:03:35) Sept: "No, it's not!"
(17:03:53) @Mianplo: ["Heeheehee."]
(17:06:34) Sept: "What the hell, Tsubaki?!"
(17:07:22) @Mianplo: ["I'm just saying, I bet Little Aline could find it…"]
(17:08:52) Sept: "That's going to spawn a whole new host of rumors!"
(17:09:21) @Mianplo: ["Could force the true culprit into the open."]
(17:09:52) Sept: "They're not a culprit, they allegedly grabbed a forgotten hug pillow!"
(17:10:37) @Mianplo: ["Trust me. They're definitely a culprit."]
(17:11:53) Sept: "And you won't tell me who it is…?"
(17:13:45) @Mianplo: ["I really shouldn't. It'd be a naughty thing of me to start talking about what I see or hear, you understand. It'd get me into trouble."]
(17:15:09) Sept: "Urgh…"
(17:16:10) @Mianplo: ["Love you, Onii-chan."]
(17:20:36) Sept: "Love you too," he muttered.
(17:22:02) Minaplo: ["Another story?"]
(17:23:52) * Sept considered it, then shook his head. "Actually, there's something I've been wanting to talk about first."
(17:37:18) Minaplo: ["Oh?"]
(17:41:57) Sept: "You… remember when we were at the Synfront?"
(17:42:16) Minaplo: ["Yeah. I nearly fell down a staircase. You saved me."-
(17:42:35) Minaplo: ["Also, something about walnuts…? It's a confusing period. They kept me away from mama for a long time."]
(17:43:17) Sept: "Wal- Um. So just before the staircase thing. We were arguing about something, and I still feel really bad about it."
(17:44:49) Minaplo: ["What was it?"]
(17:46:07) Sept: "So you don't remember."
(17:46:32) Minaplo: ["I might, but you'd have to jog my memory first. Sorry."]
(17:49:50) Sept: "This may be obvious, but I was being horrible at explaining myself. And it's a selfish thing to worry about in the first place…"-
(17:50:41) Sept: "I was trying to convince you to not, mm. To not hold on to me too tightly, because I might 'have' to do things that hurt you or others."
(17:55:50) Minaplo: ["Oh, I see… I would probably have seen that as a type of rejection. Which would be mean."]
(17:58:09) Sept: "S-Sure. And I feel bad about that, and I'm sorry. But I don't want to betray anyone, just… do the right thing. And I got in trouble for pissing people off trying to say it again, at Yanmei's wedding."
(17:58:47) Minaplo: ["I saw that."]
(17:59:02) Sept: "I bet you did. I bet you watched the instant replay for a week."
(17:59:26) Minaplo: ["Silly. I don't like seeing you hurt." Said Tsubaki.-
(18:00:29) Minaplo: ["I traded it to James for my BLs, but that's beside the point." She added cheekily.-
(18:00:49) Minaplo: ["Still, sometimes you say some… Strange things. Or things that don't go down well."-
(18:05:45) Minaplo: ["I'm not saying that just because it makes people angry, you shouldn't think it." Said Tsubaki. "But you should know who you can and can't share that sort of thing with. Have one mind for friends and another for everyone else."]
(18:13:47) Sept: "Mm, I understand that. I wouldn't feel satisfied if I wasn't completely honest about ideals with everyone."-
(18:14:22) Sept: "But I understand it's not my place to ask to be comfortable with all of my choices."-
(18:14:40) Sept: "Aaaand that sounds even more self-absorbed. You see where this always goes."
(18:15:51) Minaplo: [Tsubaki giggled.-
(18:19:40) Minaplo: ["I understand, though. Do you want to be honest with everyone because you feel they deserve honesty, or because you deserve to be heard?"]
(18:21:37) Sept: "Heh," Sera smirked at that. "First one, of course. There has to be something we're doing better than Mary. Otherwise, what's the point? That's how I see it."
(18:22:15) Minaplo: ["Then why did you keep Eve's identity from Blue?"]
(18:24:47) Sept: "I thought you didn't listen to everything."
(18:26:31) Minaplo: ["I don't." Said Tsubaki with a small smile. "But I listen to a few things."]
(18:29:34) Sept: "Of course."-
(18:31:07) Sept: "I can't speak for Yanmei, but I wasn't worried he'd immediately turn around and tell everyone. It's a matter of courtesy. How do I…"-
(18:32:06) * Sept paused for a moment. "Even if you know it wouldn't hurt anyone or anything, you can't know her kin would know that. Is that fine?"
(18:36:49) Minaplo: ["I see. So it's like confidentiality."]
(18:41:06) Sept: "Sure, same end result. Not my decision to make, and there was nothing urgent about it."
(18:41:23) Minaplo: ["Hmmm."-
(18:44:59) Minaplo: ["You know, sometimes I'm not sure if you're a pragmatist or a virtues kinda guy."]
(18:46:13) Sept: "'I am large, I contain multitudes'," Sera answered with a smile.
(18:48:02) Minaplo: ["'Bushido is realised in the presence of death'."]
(18:49:06) Sept: "Ah… Was that said ironically?"
(18:50:23) Minaplo: ["I dunno, it was just a random quote. I didn't wanna feel left out. 'Bushido is realised in the presence of death. This means choosing death whenever there is a choice between life and death. There is no other reasoning.'"]
(18:52:43) Sept: "Sun Zi?"
(18:53:09) Minaplo: ["Bushido is a Japanese thing, Onii-chan. Sun Zi was Chinese. That's racist."]
(18:53:40) Sept: "…oh. Sorry."-
(18:54:09) Sept: "Walt Whitman," Sera diverted. "Something about self-contradiction."
(18:54:24) Minaplo: ["Oh, I get it."-
(18:57:23) Minaplo: ["Yamamoto Tsunetomo. Wrote 'Hagakure'. 'When we calmly think of death morning and evening and are in despair, We are able to gain freedom in the way of the Samurai. Only then can we fulfil our duty without making mistakes in life.'"-
(18:57:43) Minaplo: ["You should give him a read. He touches on ways to explain faults and ideals to a person without offending them."]
(19:01:18) * Sept gave her a nod. "Alright. I'll add it to my journal."
(12:58:21) Minaplo: ["You keep a journal?"]
(13:01:21) Sept: "Nah. I mean, I have one, but I don't keep- I was just making a joke."
(13:02:14) Minaplo: ["Were you making fun of me…?"]
(13:04:51) Sept: "I don't think so. I liked keeping a journal."
(13:05:34) Minaplo: ["You should do it again, then."]
(13:08:52) Sept: "I have a journal, and I write in it for fun," Sera tried to explain. "Your advice is just too important to put in it."
(13:12:16) Minaplo: ["… You're so weird."-
(13:14:12) Minaplo: [… And so the hours went past, with stories of horror, fun and mystery being exchanged.-
(13:15:08) Minaplo: [Tsubaki continued chatting away, heedless of the passage of time.-
(13:17:46) Minaplo: ["… So then Mana began asking about-"-
(13:18:00) Minaplo: [There was the low pressurised hiss of one of the small doors opening.-
(13:18:04) Minaplo: [Tsubaki froze.]
(13:20:28) * Sept yawned and stretched quite hyperbolically and stood back up on his platform. Leaning over the railing, he peeked down.
(13:22:22) Minaplo: [Ritsuko, Maya, and a handful of technicians.-
(13:22:55) Minaplo: [A few seconds later they climbed onto the same platform Sera had used, and rose to the top level.-
(13:23:03) Minaplo: [Tsubaki wasn't looking at them.-
(13:23:40) Minaplo: ["Still here, huh." Said Ritsuko blandly to Sera as they approached.-
(13:24:10) Minaplo: ["Tsucchin. It's time to get out now."-
(13:24:15) Minaplo: [Tsubaki didn't respond.]
(13:31:24) Sept: "I'll be here, Tsubaki," Sera said from his vantage point off to the side, trying not to sound as coercive. He glanced back at the cable-wrapped 03, then turned to watch Ritsuko.
(13:35:28) Mianplo: [Ritsuko and her team approached the consoles.-
(13:35:50) Mianplo: ["You'll see me tomorrow?" Asked Tsubaki quickly, hurriedly.]
(13:39:52) Sept: "I think so," Sera nodded. "I've got business here for a few days."
(13:53:55) Minaplo: ["You promise?"]
(13:57:33) Sept: "Can't. But I'll be here."
(13:59:07) Minaplo: ["No! Promise me!"-
(13:59:15) Minaplo: [Ritsuko and Maya exchanged nervous looks.]
(14:03:24) Sept: "Who else is gonna listen to my crappy stories?" Sera asked her, his tone still calm.
(14:08:56) Minaplo: ["…"-
(14:09:51) Minaplo: [The video feed cut out, leaving nothing but 'SOUND ONLY' behind in large red block letters.-
(14:10:57) Minaplo: ["Tsucchin." Said Ritsuko, her tone patient. "Ten seconds, okay?"-
(14:11:01) Minaplo: ["…"-
(14:11:31) Minaplo: [Ritsuko began to count down.-
(14:12:04) Minaplo: [By the time she reached 'five', Sera would hear a low frantic intelligible whisper from the speakers.-
(14:12:46) Minaplo: ["Three… Two…" Ritsuko looked at Maya and gave her a short, curt nod. "One."-
(14:13:01) Minaplo: ["Cutting synch." Said Maya. She confirmed the action on the console.-
(14:14:00) Minaplo: [Silence.-
(14:14:02) Minaplo: [Then-
(14:15:03) Minaplo: [A scream, high and shrill, ear-splitting in intensity. It cut right through the walls and buried deep into one's ones.-
(14:15:38) Minaplo: [It died in a gurgle. Ritsuko's team were already moving towards a higher level of platforms which emerged from the wall, so they could open up the plug.]
(14:19:59) * Sept looked away from the team, a deeply unsatisfied look on his face. His hands were still gripping the railing behind his back, and he forced them open.
(14:23:34) Minaplo: [Ritsuko didn't turn around. She kept staring down at her console, her face unreadable.-
(14:25:26) Minaplo: [A few minutes later, her team re-emerged. Tsubaki lay supine and catatonic between them on a stretcher, her face blank, eyes unfocused.-
(14:25:46) Minaplo: [They quickly took her away.-
(14:26:20) Minaplo: [Ritsuko, Sera and Maya were left, Maya keeping her head down, quickly working to put in commands and routines for the system.]
(14:29:08) Sept: "Every time? Or did I make it that much harder for her?" He was looking at the wall in front of him.
(14:30:43) Minaplo: ["It's usually pretty bad." Said Ritsuko. "That one was worse than most."-
(14:32:39) Minaplo: [Maya worked away.-
(14:33:06) Minaplo: [The instant she was finished she turned on her heel, staring daggers into Sera's head. "Why couldn't you just make the promise?!"]
(14:35:03) Sept: "She would've known I was lying. No question."
(14:36:34) Minaplo: ["Then why'd she bother asking at all, huh?"]
(14:38:16) * Sept looked sideways at Maya. "Because she was scared out of her mind and still wanted to comfort herself with it. Right?"
(14:39:28) Minaplo: ["That's right." Said Maya. "You could've helped. But you chose not to."]
(14:45:26) Sept: "You're being foolish about this, Maya. I'll be there for her."
(14:47:43) Minaplo: ["Now who's trying to comfort themselves, huh?" Said Maya angrily, rubbing a hand across her eyes. She was already storming towards the platform.-
(14:49:10) Minaplo: ["You're unbelievable." She snapped on the way out. "I won't ever forgive this."-
(14:49:27) Minaplo: [A few seconds later, she too was gone, leaving Sera and Ritsuko alone.-
(14:49:55) Minaplo: [Ritsuko let out a tiny sigh. She took a cigarette out of her coat and lit it up.]
(14:52:44) * Sept took one out, looked at it, then sighed in frustration and stuffed it back in the box. "I'm gonna need feedback on this. This isn't sustainable. Correct?"
(14:55:32) Minaplo: ["… Yes, you're correct." Said Ritsuko. "It was bad enough when it was limited to a once-a-week ratio test. Now she's doing eight hour shifts nearly every day. She barely has time to adjust in between shifts… It's only making the withdrawal periods worse, I'm afraid."]
(14:58:53) * Sept hesitated, took out the cigarette again, only to roll it back and forth between two gloved fingers, slowly. "I think seeing her here regularly will help. But it's not a solution."-
(14:59:50) Sept: "Can I get at the plug computer's personal databank without raising any flags?"
(15:00:23) Minaplo: ["You'll need her login and password."]
(15:01:07) Sept: "Do you have them?"
(15:02:19) Minaplo: ["Her login's 'T2M-AkagiT'. You should know her password."]
(15:08:23) Sept: "Mm. I'd like to try and help her reconcile. Help her start a dialogue, in a sense."
(15:09:13) Minaplo: ["I see."]
(15:10:03) Sept: "Better ideas?"
(15:11:18) Minaplo: ["That's fine for now, unless you know of a way to make my mother stop it."]
(15:12:40) Sept: "I could make good on my promise to synch with her."
(15:14:45) Minaplo: ["That'd be a start." Said Ritsuko diffidently.]
(15:20:10) Sept: "But considering the circumstances, I suppose I'm delaying that, too," Sera said, without humor. "I'll do my best."
(15:20:43) Minaplo: ["Heh."]
(15:22:02) Sept: "Or maybe I'll just romance all of you."-
(15:22:06) Sept: "Whatever the fuck that means."
(15:25:01) Minaplo: [Ritsuko didn't repy. She just took a puff of her cigarette.]
(15:27:25) Sept: "You got that file for me?"
(15:28:17) Minaplo: ["Sorry, you'll have to get it yourself."]
(15:29:42) Sept: "I mean the one I asked you about earlier."
(15:31:34) Minaplo: ["I left it in my office. Same drive I used last time."]
(15:33:45) Sept: "Sure. I was just trying to coax you out of here," Sera said.
(15:35:52) Minaplo: ["Well, I'll leave you to it then." Said Ritsuko. She turned and stepped onto the platform.-
(15:36:04) Minaplo: [As the platform slipped out of sight, Sera would hear her remark:-
(15:36:21) Minaplo: ["Offers everything and promises nothing… Maya was right. You really are a cad."]
(15:37:59) Sept: "We'll see," Sera raised his voice to make sure it carried back, and got to work on the computer.
(15:38:20) Minaplo: [What password would Sera try?]
(15:40:08) Sept: Just 'sera', to begin with. The self-absorbed asshole he was.
(15:42:49) Mianplo: [No result… Maybe variations would work?]
(15:44:43) Sept: First-letter capitals and all capitals were next…
(15:48:23) Mianplo: [No good. Sera would remember at this point that his own password mandated a single number.]
(15:49:57) Sept: Simple number substitutions… 3 for e, 4 for a, or just adding 1 to the end.
(15:52:25) Mianplo: [Sera1 worked.]
(15:54:15) * Sept shook his head. But what could you really do with these things? He started looking for a file that might be Tsubaki's 'journal'. It would've been recently edited, at least…
(15:55:32) Mianplo: [It the most recent file available.]
(16:00:32) * Sept copied it safely onto his empty thumb drive, making a mental note of encrypting it later. Did everything else on the computer seem normal…?
(16:01:14) Minaplo: [It seemed fine. Most of the data was taken up with text files, audio files, pictures and videos.]
(16:02:55) Sept: It was probably best for Sera's mental health to leave those alone. He logged out, grabbed his USB drive and gave EVA-03 one final look before heading down.

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