This Too Shall Pass 3 2 22

(19:55) <Minaplo> [Vercingetorix's yacht burst into reality some fifty metres above the deck.-
(20:01) <Minaplo> [It was a sleek, 16-metre long black and dark red VTOL of a most ultra-modern design, similar to the Stormbird gunship. Indeed similar to the Stormbird it was heavily armed, possessing several gun turrets and launchers on both top and bottom. Slits along the wings and the rear of the vessel glowed with engine wash, as did large round repulsor-engines built into the bottom of the design.-
(20:06) <Minaplo> [Nonetheless it was a quiet runner, much quieter than a regular Stormbird.-
(20:06) <Minaplo> [Within a minute it set down, the engines slowly dying out, landing pads emerging.-
(20:09) <Minaplo> [A few seconds after it landed, the external hull of the cockpit block opened up with a hydraulic hiss, revealing an AC Suit- one similar to an Assault Wolf, although, again, customised with a red and black design.-
(20:10) <Minaplo> [The AC Suit in turn fell to one knee and opened up- allowing Vercingetorix himself to jump out.-
(20:10) <Minaplo> [His cape billowed around him for a few seconds as he stood there, unflinching as the AC Suit closed back up and reintegrated itself with the yacht.-
(20:14) <Minaplo> [The yacht's side entrance opened up much less ostentatiously- the door unfolding out into a ramp.-
(20:19) <Minaplo> [Ayanami Ni stepped out. She was wearing a white leather coat with a white fur collar over a dark blue turtleneck and a short black skirt that reached just over halfway to the knee, along with a pair of neat black ladies' shoes and dark stockings.-
(20:22) <Minaplo> [Across her left shoulder and right hip was a satchel bag, out of which poked the head of a tortoiseshell-and-white kitten.-
(20:23) <Minaplo> [Ni looked over at Vercingetorix- standing there, cape billowing around him…-
(20:23) <Minaplo> [She huffed.-
(20:23) <Minaplo> [Instead, she made a beeline for the 'welcoming committee'… Which just consisted of a single man.-
(20:23) <Minaplo> ["Hi, Raphael."]
(20:33) <Tao> In Vercingetorix's defense, it did seem to have captured his audience's attention, even if Raphael's response was to stare with his eyebrow slightly askew. In fact, he seemed more than a little surprised when Ni appeared in front of him.-
(20:33) <Tao> "Hello, Ni," Raphael said, recovering from his momentary shock to offer her a smile as he took her in properly. "That's a lovely outfit."
(20:40) <Minaplo> ["Oh, thank you." Said Ni warmly, preening a little as she did a quick twirl.-
(20:40) <Minaplo> ["Mew!"-
(20:40) <Minaplo> [Vercingetorix approached.-
(20:41) <Minaplo> [In his armour, he loomed over the both of them, only adding to its intimidating visage. "Guillory."]
(20:48) <Tao> "Vercingetorix," He replied, inclining his head slightly while also trying to crane his neck to meet the mask's narrowed lenses. "Pleased to see you."
(20:50) * Tao is now known as Raphael
(20:51) <Minaplo> ["When's the meeting?"]
(20:54) * Raphael shifted his jacket cuff just enough to reveal a light watch strapped to his wrist. "… Twenty minutes or so," he said, glancing between both of the new arrivals, "Did you want to go straight there, or is there something else I could help you both to in the meantime?"
(20:56) <Minaplo> ["Take me."-
(20:56) <Minaplo> [Ni rolled her eyes. "I'll come along, Raphael."]
(21:02) <Raphael> "Wonderful," Raphael said, taking the brevity in stride. It was simple enough to pretend Gendo was still inside the suit. "Follow me."-
(21:02) <Raphael> … soon enough they were in the elevator and descending deeper into the Bell. "That's an impressive ship, sir."
(21:04) <Minaplo> ["You should see the inside." Said Ni. "It's air-conditioned, there's a chilled refrigerator, a large double-bed in case Darth Vader here needs a nap…"-
(21:05) <Minaplo> [Within the safety of the elevator, Vercingetorix allowed himself a little more freedom in his actions: he reached out and roughly messed up Ni's hair.]
(21:10) <Raphael> … which seemed to make Raphael relax a touch in turn, judging by the change in his stance. "You two are managing?"
(21:17) <Minaplo> [Shinji nodded once.-
21:18) <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I'm doing alright." Said Ni. "Less work for me these days… Say hello to Raphael, Napoleon."-
(21:18) <Minaplo> ["Mew!"]
(21:43) <Raphael> He smiled, giving the little thing a scratch under the chin with one gloved hand. "… Does he really behave well enough to let you carry him around in that thing? Nene's always scurrying away at the first sign of someone new."
(21:45) <Minaplo> [The kitten rubbed its jawbone against Raphael's hand.-
(21:45) <Minaplo> ["Hmhm, of course. They know there's nothing to fear with mama around."-
(21:46) <Minaplo> ["Also, Nene's got a hyperactive streak." Said Ni with a sigh. "I think I saw four or so scratches on Alphonse's arm yesterday."]
(21:50) <Raphael> "I'm sure he'll keep the limb, ma'am."
(21:52) <Minaplo> ["Supposing they were Nene's fault." Said Shinji.-
(21:53) <Minaplo> ["Hmmm?"-
(21:53) <Minaplo> ["You're forgetting Eevi and her pet lion."-
(21:53) <Minaplo> ["Oh, that's true…" Ni eyed Raphael. "Did you hear about that?"]
(21:58) <Raphael> Strangely Raphael seemed to be in the process of restraining a wince during the initial part of their exchange. "… oh, yes. Rei's very pleased with it all. Alphonse slightly less so, but it makes her and Eevi happy…"
(22:03) <Minaplo> ["That much is true." Said Ni. "It's cute enough, and those two can handle it… But Alphonse…"-
(22:04) <Minaplo> ["Well." She said with a sigh. "I suppose he knew what he was getting into when he fell in love with one of us. No use complaining now."-
(22:04) <Minaplo> [The elevator stopped and the doors quickly slid open.]
(15:03) <Raphael> "Worth remembering that Ban-Ban was around before they even met, I suppose," he chuckled, stepping off the elevator and standing to one side to let his companions pass.
(15:05) <Minaplo> ["True enough." Said Ni.-
(15:06) <Minaplo> [They stepped out, the elevator shutting behind them.-
(15:07) <Minaplo> ["Are you part of this meeting, Raphael, or are you just escorting Mr. Dark Lord to the venue?" Asked Ni lightly.]
(15:10) <Raphael> "Just an escort, ma'am," he said, leading them past a T-Junction and through a security door that required his keycard. "It seems the President hoped for a quiet word with Mr. Vercingetorix."
(15:13) <Minaplo> ["Oh, good. You don't mind keeping me company then?"]
(15:14) * Raphael gave her a bright smile. "Of course not."-
(15:15) <Raphael> "Although I was hoping we could have a chat afterwards if you had the time, sir?" He added, glancing back up to Vercy.
(15:23) <Minaplo> ["Mmm."-
(15:25) <Minaplo> [It wouldn't be long before they were standing outside of Linden's office door, the impassive faces of a pair of St. Francis's guards scowling at them.-
(15:25) <Minaplo> [Vercingetorix entered without a word and shut it behind them- leaving Ni and Raphael outside.]
(15:31) <Raphael> Raphael brow was furrowed slightly as he watched the door, but he made an effort to clear his expression as he turned to Ni again. "So. Shall we find somewhere to wait, ma'am?"
(15:34) <Minaplo> ["Sure. Somewhere circuitous? The idea of him getting lost trying to find me is funny."]
(15:36) * Cakephone2 (~291.142.73.21|ekacyekaC#291.142.73.21|ekacyekaC) Quit (Ping timeout)
(15:36) <Raphael> Raphael's smile was poorly hidden. "We can try. I'm not sure how well that will work on him, though…"
(15:38) <Minaplo> ["Hmmm, that's true. A shame. Do you have anywhere quiet, then?"]
(15:42) <Raphael> Another quick glance to his watch. "The officer's rec room should be quiet enough at the moment, I think. Follow me?"-
(15:42) <Raphael> Providing there was no argument he was quick to lead the way, leaving the scowling guards behind.
(15:45) <Minaplo> [The rec room was indeed quiet.-
(15:46) <Raphael> «officers'*»
(15:47) <Minaplo> [Ni was quick to put on a kettle and grab a teabag. "So how are you finding Russia? Tea, by the way?"]
(15:56) <Raphael> "I'd love some, thanks," Raphael said, taking a seat at the kitchenette's table. "And… it's acceptable. I'm not sure the circumstances would allow me to /like/ even the most pleasant of surroundings, mind."
(15:56) <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah?"-
(15:58) <Minaplo> ["By the way, how do you take it? Milk? Sugar? There's jam and lemon here too."]
(16:02) <Raphael> "Just milk, thank you."-
(16:03) <Raphael> "But yes, I suspect that being separated from my family for the purposes of a world war is not the optimal way of experiencing new surroundings," he said, smiling a little despite his words.
(16:08) <Minaplo> ["Yeah, agreed." Said Ni.-
(16:08) <Minaplo> ["I never had too much of a chance to enjoy Russia even when we weren't at war."]
(16:12) <Raphael> "I know…" He said, sighing a little. "The situation you were left in was a failure on NERV's part."
(16:24) <Minaplo> ["Nerv and the USSR both." Said Ni firmly. "If they had supported us as they were supposed to instead of playing spy games, Natasha might still be alive."]
(16:26) <Raphael> "… she might," Raphael admitted.-
(16:28) <Raphael> "How have things been for you on the Dorian?"
(16:29) <Minaplo> ["… Better."-
(16:30) <Minaplo> ["It's easier to trust people on the Dory. Also, I'm closer to my sisters and I'm not being run ragged."]
(16:31) * Raphael nodded a little. "That's good. A small step forward, at least."-
(16:32) <Raphael> "Has there been any word about Kyuu's rebodiment?"
(16:33) <Minaplo> ["Might be another month or so." Said Ni. "Juu, Julie and Nana are up next."]
(16:34) <Raphael> "Poor girls…"
(16:37) <Minaplo> ["No kidding." Said Ni with a sigh. "I'm especially worried about Juu…"]
(16:41) <Raphael> "I agree. She's been through this too many times already," he said quietly. "Has anyone spoken to Sergeant Chevalier about it all?"
(16:49) <Minaplo> ["Chevalier?"]
(16:53) <Raphael> "Edgar Chevalier, currently piloting within Eagle Squadron," Raphael clarified. "I understand the two of them have a relationship, if not a particularly official one."
(16:54) <Minaplo> [Ni's eyes narrowed. "Sorry. First I've heard of it."]
(17:03) <Raphael> "It's possible it stayed as a friendship. I know they were close after the end of the LN War, but I didn't see her as often as some of your other sisters."
(17:04) <Minaplo> ["I haven't seen much of her either, all told."]
(17:05) * Raphael nodded a little. "I think you girls do well to keep in contact as much as you do, but it's not surprising that there's some gaps."
(17:15) <Minaplo> ["I think Rei's the only one who really manages it, honestly."]
(17:17) <Raphael> "I wouldn't be surprised. I'm glad you all had at least one sister deployed with you during your time at separate bases, at least."
(17:24) <Minaplo> ["Mmm. Honestly, despite what I've said I feel like it was the best combination of having someone you knew close by whilst being able to explore on your own terms, if you understand me."-
(17:24) <Minaplo> ["Take Beijing for instance."]
(17:25) * Raphael nodded a little, allowing Ni to continue.
(17:38) <Minaplo> ["Three of my sisters deployed there- Chii, Julie and Nana- yet Julie became the real socialite, which is a little surprising considering Chii's there."-
(17:38) <Minaplo> ["Also, Nana- ah, did you hear about Nana and the Zhangs?"]
(17:42) <Tao> "A little. Rei told me Yanmei did not take it particularly well…"
(17:44) * Tao is now known as Raphael
(17:45) <Minaplo> ["Well… I can sympathise." Said Ni. "I've seen how Rei reacts to Kyuu sometimes. It doesn't help that Nana modelled herself on Yanmei to a certain extent."]
(17:47) * Raphael nodded. "It's a difficult situation, certainly. You girls took direction where you could find it in the early days, and you shouldn't be blamed for that. On the other hand, it can't be easy to be the unwitting model…"
(17:50) <Minaplo> ["Quite right. Of course, I imagine Zhang of all people is more than a little sensitive about her image being co-opted, and for understandable reasons."]
(17:50) <Raphael> "No doubt."
(17:59) <Minaplo> [The kettle had finished boiling, and Ni quickly set about making tea- Raphael's with milk, whilst her own had plenty of jam and sugar.-
(17:59) <Minaplo> ["Here you go." Said Ni, handing his before she sat down.-
(18:01) <Minaplo> ["You know, all this talk about me and mine and I've barely asked about you. How are you going? Keeping sharp?"]
(18:13) <Raphael> "Fairly," he smiled. "Not that I've been on the frontlines since the battles around Moscow. Russia has been trying to minimize our involvement where possible, but I imagine that's bound to change once they open the lines through Belarus."
(18:14) <Minaplo> ["Those bastards are at it again, huh?"]
(18:15) <Raphael> "I wouldn't phrase it that way of course, ma'am."
(18:17) <Minaplo> ["Of course not."-
(18:17) <Minaplo> ["They tried the same thing when Finland was attacked by Metatron." Said Ni with a sigh. "So don't worry, you're not alone."-
(18:18) <Minaplo> ["Mew!"-
(18:19) <Minaplo> [Ni paused for a moment to stroke her kitten's head before turning back to Raphael. "Have they decided to keep you on this front for now, or is there the hope of you being reassigned?"]
(18:22) * Raphael took a sip of his tea as he considered this. "… I suspect if they keep refusing to make use of us Command will have us reassigned to somewhere where we can do more than run the Bell's CAG. Which in turn is possibly the sort of thing the Soviets are hoping for."
(18:23) <Minaplo> ["They don't have a hope without you, surely…?"]
(18:34) <Raphael> "They're flushed with their early successes, I think."
(18:39) <Minaplo> ["Well how long does that last? Until the UN piledrives half the Red Army with a Dysangelion?"]
(18:42) <Raphael> "Something like that," he sighed. "Their High Command is still locked in the old mindset. Perhaps they think they can destroy a Dysangelion with enough tanks."
(18:45) <Minaplo> ["Hmph."-
(18:46) <Minaplo> ["It's a shame they're dealing with the lives of so many people, both in and out of the army. If they weren't then I could hope for a solid defeat on their part to shake them out of it."]
(18:49) <Raphael> "I imagine it will happen with or without our help. We just need to mitigate the damage as much as possible."
(18:52) <Minaplo> ["Mmm… Fair enough."-
(18:53) <Minaplo> ["Still, you can't fault the team you're going with. Sho and the Twins? That's a pretty solid pair."]
(17:20) <Raphael> "Mmm, we hope so. We're expecting Dysangelion deployment at the very least, and you know how hard those monsters hit…" Raphael said, frowning down at the table.
[19:15] <Minaplo> ["I remember being shown the logs, yes." Said Ni. "04 and San fighting a Dysangelion off the US East Coast, and only barely winning…"]
[19:28] <Raphael> "Still," he said, forcing a smile, "The rules for dealing with them are the same as with any Evangelion. We'll be fine."
[19:35] <Minaplo> ["What rules would that be?"]
[19:50] <Raphael> "Most commonly? Deal with the AT Field, provide a hard target they can't afford to ignore and then redirect as much firepower as you can afford to spare onto their position," he grinned. "Hardly a nuanced strategy, but if we have an advantage it's that we can usually field five railcannon-scale weapons for every Evangelion."
(14:37) <Minaplo> ["So basically a similar sort of strategy that we used against the Angels."]
(14:37) <Raphael> "More or less."
(14:44) <Minaplo> ["I see."-
(14:44) <Minaplo> ["You'll make sure to keep Sho and the Twins safe, then?" Asked Ni, her tone almost suspicious.]
(14:48) <Raphael> "As much as I'm able, ma'am," he said, reaching out to give the kitten another scritch.
(15:01) <Minaplo> ["Mew!"-
(15:04) <Minaplo> [Ni was content to take that as an answer; he instead worked on draining her tea cup.]
(15:05) * Reiska|Nap is now known as Reiska
(15:31) <Raphael> Meanwhile Raphael's tea was left largely forgotten as he continued playing with the cat. "How's Shinji managing?"
(15:32) <Minaplo> ["Mew!"-
(15:33) <Minaplo> ["Ah… Hm."-
(15:38) <Minaplo> ["Well… He's not spending all his time moping?" Offered Ni hopefully with a slightly too wide smile.]
(15:40) * Raphael gave her a flat look. "I've known Rei long enough to recognise that smile, ma'am."
(15:40) <Minaplo> ["Mrph."-
(15:41) <Minaplo> ["I don't know what to say." Said Ni. "To be blunt I expected him to fall apart, but he's kind of done the opposite, in a scary way."]
(15:55) * Raphael sighed, sitting back in his chair a little to allow the kitten to return to his mother.-
(15:55) <Raphael> "… I'm no psychiatrist, but it's not an uncommon pattern in my experience. There were plenty of examples after Impact."
(15:56) <Minaplo> ["Mmmm, if you say so." Said Ni. "He, uh, bitched Harken out recently…"]
(15:57) <Raphael> "… Really?"
(15:58) <Minaplo> ["Really. They were sitting in the spa together- Zhang took us on some sort of retreat to try to cheer everyone up, you see- and Shinji had been quiet until Harken began talking about losing his grandson and about how he didn't care if he lived or died."-
(15:58) <Minaplo> ["So Shinji stood up, bitched the old guy out for being a weak coward who owed it to his grandson to live to feel the pain, then walked off."]
(16:05) <Raphael> "… Ah." Raphael muttered, contemplating this in silence for a few seconds. "I suppose it's too much to hope that he's been speaking to someone to try and help with all of this?"
(16:14) <Minaplo> ["Heh. People have tried. I get nowhere, Rei's busy, and mother's a grieving widow herself, so the math isn't reassuring."]
(16:18) * Raphael nodded a little. "… Well, I can at least try. Maybe we'll have more luck with someone he isn't related to."-
(16:18) <Raphael> "And it might be worth calling Doctor Delgado and seeing if he can make Shinji a priority case."
(16:23) <Minaplo> ["Not much luck there. Shinji refuses."]
(16:24) <Raphael> "Always an excellent sign."
(16:25) <Minaplo> ["He's… Stubborn, yes." Said Ni with a sigh. "Unyielding."]
(16:37) <Raphael> "Mmm…" He murmured, toying with the handle of his mug.-
(16:37) <Raphael> "The usual rules hold true, ma'am. If there's anything I can do to help you and yours, you just need to let me know. It's a difficult time for everyone right now, and we need to stick together."
(16:43) <Minaplo> ["Thanks. You're welcome to him if you feel up to it."]
(16:44) <Raphael> "I'll certainly try."-
(16:44) <Raphael> "Rei has already assigned me to try and help your mother, too" he said with a weak smile.
(16:48) <Minaplo> ["Yes, I heard about that. How do you feel about it?"]
(16:51) <Raphael> "I don't think it's her greatest plan, but you know what trying to argue with her is like…" he said.
(16:52) <Minaplo> ["Well, it's more than just wanting you to help mother." Said Ni. "Rei's actively trying to make the two of you make up."]
(16:55) <Raphael> "Believe me, I know," he sighed, folding his hands. "-That's- a trickier proposition for both sides, I think."
(16:55) <Minaplo> ["Mmm?"]
(17:04) * Raphael let out a long breath, and his words came out slowly and deliberately. "There's little to put Yui and I on the same side of matters that -isn't- tied to you girls. We can put on polite faces in Rei's company - which, I would add, we almost always have - but if she's asking us to put all of that aside? I can't see that as likely."
(17:04) <Minaplo> ["Mmm, why not?"]
(17:32) * Zack is now known as ZackSleep
(18:37) * Syntax (~if.tenretniand.bb.631-342-571-18|xatnyS#if.tenretniand.bb.631-342-571-18|xatnyS) has joined #nervfrance
(18:50) <Raphael> "Mending fences doesn't really work if neither party is willing or able to change the things that caused a rift in the first place."
(18:52) <Minaplo> ["Then that leads the question as to what it is you're unwilling to change on your end, at least."]
(18:58) * Raphael took a sip of his (by now entirely cooled) cup of tea in an attempt to play for time.-
(18:58) <Raphael> "… Some of them aren't my place to discuss, Ni."
(19:00) <Minaplo> ["Leaving aside that particular note, that means that there clearly are some that are…"]
(19:17) * Raphael gave her a long look over the top of his cup. "-Maybe-. That said, I don't think it's responsible to speak poorly of your mother to you girls."
(19:25) <Minaplo> ["Well." Ni smiled wide and sweet, her eyes narrowing. "If it makes you feel better, why don't you tell it to Napoleon and I'll just happen to overhear?"-
(19:25) <Minaplo> ["Mew?"]
(19:26) <Raphael> "… You're not going to give this up are you, ma'am?"
(19:27) <Minaplo> ["Sorry. I'm not in the mindset to let issues stew by themselves."]
[15:28] <Raphael> "And I appreciate that, but really I wouldn't say that they're -stewing- as such…."
[15:30] <Minaplo> [Ni opened her mouth to retort, but was interrupted at the last second.-
[15:30] <Minaplo> ["It is over." Said Vercingetorix in the doorway.]
[15:34] * Raphael shot Ni an apologetic grimace, but showed little hesitation towards taking this new gap in a deeply uncomfortable conversation. He stood, one hand still on his mug. "That was quick, sir."
[15:35] <Minaplo> [Ni shot them both a dirty look.-
[15:35] <Minaplo> ["I despise wasting time." Said Vercingetorix shortly.]
[15:36] <Raphael> "Naturally," he nodded. "You can still afford some to me before you leave, I hope?"
[15:36] <Minaplo> ["Yes."]
[15:37] <Raphael> "Excellent. The deck, then? We shouldn't be overheard."
[15:38] <Minaplo> ["Very well."-
[15:38] <Minaplo> [He turned and left.-
[15:38] <Minaplo> [There were a few short moments between Vercingetorix leaving and Raphael following…-
[15:38] <Minaplo> ["We'll continue this talk later." Said Ni darkly, scooping her kitten up into her bag.-
[15:38] <Minaplo> ["Mew…"]
[15:40] <Raphael> "Yes ma'am," Raphael said, giving her a quick stone-faced salute before hurrying on his way.
[15:41] <Minaplo> […-
[15:42] <Minaplo> [The deck of the Bell was a long, expansive flat place, marked with landing ramps, runways and, along the edges, gun turrets.-
[15:43] <Minaplo> [Vercingetorix stood near the edge; below him was the endless expanse of Russia, a flat plain of tall, brooding forests, rivers and multitude lakes.]
[16:04] * Raphael found a spot alongside him, leaning on the railing in the long shadow cast by a gun emplacement.-
[16:04] <Raphael> "You're doing a very good impression of your father, sir."
[16:06] <Minaplo> ["What do you need, Raphael?"]
[16:16] <Raphael> Raphael watched the horizon, apparently unperturbed. "Checking in. Rei, Misato and Suzanne all gave me very strict orders to see how you were doing."
[16:16] <Minaplo> ["I'm fine. Is that all?"]
[16:22] <Raphael> "Ni seems to think you gave General Harken a fine talking to."
[16:25] <Minaplo> ["Correct. Get to the point, please."]
[16:32] <Raphael> "With all due respect, sir, this is the point," Raphael said, his tone taking on a hard edge. "You need to be talking to -someone-, and by all reports that's not what's happening."
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["I see."-
[16:35] <Minaplo> ["What I need to be doing is taking action, but your concern is noted." Said Vercingetorix blandly. He turned around.-
[16:37] <Minaplo> ["Is that all you had to say, Raphael?"]
[16:40] <Raphael> "Not really," Raphael said. He remained against the railing, watching the hills drift by below. "I have plenty to say, but in the interest of getting to the point: You should know that your father was wrong."
[16:41] <Minaplo> ["Really. About what?"]
[16:42] <Raphael> "About the world being better when you stopped being Shinji and started being Vercingetorix."
[16:44] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[16:45] <Minaplo> [Shinji was quiet for a few seconds, then slowly shook his head. "It doesn't matter. The world needs Vercingetorix more than it needs Shinji Ikari."]
[16:45] <Raphael> "Why?"
[16:47] <Minaplo> ["Shinji Ikari thought he was a good person."-
[16:50] <Minaplo> ["When Guangzhou was invaded by the LN, NERV sent a combat team to intercept the Superheavies there. Because he thought he was a good person, he hesitated to fight the manned units there, the Tridents. He kept hesitating even when the city caught fire and EVA-03 was so brutalised that its pilot had to be put on life support. Eventually, 05 took over and did what he should've done in the
[16:50] <Minaplo> first place."-
[16:54] <Minaplo> ["When Brother invaded Italy, NERV's first combat team was defeated, and Aline Blanc was captured. Because he thought he was a good person, he hated the idea of getting into the Eva, of making his sister fight, of knowing that it'd be her rage that carried the day. He hated it, even though he knew it was the only way he could save Aline, the only way he could make a difference."-
[16:59] <Minaplo> ["When Michael invaded the UN, NERV sent a huge combat team to face him, and it was destroyed. Shinji Ikari should've died, but Michael spared him, except the exposure changed his AT Field, gave him a strange sight that allowed him to see people in a more truthful manner. Because he thought he was a good person, he hid himself away, covered his eyes and swore never to use it, even if it
[16:59] <Minaplo> meant he should never see again. He didn't want others to feel the pain of having what he saw revealed to them, even if it could help."-
[16:59] <Minaplo> ["Except then he started to see himself."-
[16:59] <Minaplo> ["And that he thought was goodness was really only weakness, an unwillingness to act."-
[17:00] <Minaplo> ["Vercingetorix doesn't hesitate. Vercingetorix uses the abilities he has, and he doesn't hide from the truth. So that's why the world needs Vercingetorix more than it needs Shinji Ikari."]
[17:06] * Raphael finally turned away from the vista beyond the ship's edge, folding his arms as he met the lenses that hid Vercingetorix's eyes.-
[17:06] <Raphael> "I see your point," Raphael nodded, "I'd even agree with some of them. However equating goodness - a willingness to let people in - with an unwillingness to act seems intellectually dishonest, if I may say so."
[17:09] <Minaplo> ["You don't understand." Said Shinji. "Shinji wasn't good. He just thought he was. It's possible to be a good person and still capable of acting."-
[17:10] <Minaplo> ["I'd say it's just as dishonest to equate goodness with letting others in, just because that definition advances your interests in the here and now."]
[17:11] * Raphael smiled just slightly. "Admittedly true."-
[17:14] <Raphael> "So I suppose my question instead becomes why you can't make the choice to become a good person capable of acting instead of seeing yourself subsumed by the role your father left for you?"
[17:16] <Minaplo> ["You don't consider Vercingetorix to be a good person, then?"]
[17:16] <Raphael> "Beside the point."
[17:18] <Minaplo> ["It isn't." Said Shinji. "Either you don't consider Vercingetorix to be good… Or you do, and you're asking me to be something else."-
[17:20] <Minaplo> ["If the former's true, then I simply think you're wrong. And if the latter's true, then I don't know what you want from me. Should I hang up the identity, the armour, its resources, leave it all behind me?"]
[17:32] <Raphael> "I am not -interested- in Vercingetorix," Raphael said flatly as he drew himself up to his full height - an act that still left him nearly two and a half feet shorter. "I am interested in Shinji Ikari."-
[17:32] <Raphael> "Before your father died that was who he asked me to aid, even if you tried to push me away. No matter what he said in some idiot message he wanted Shinji Ikari protected, not Vercingetorix. And he kept his word to save my family from the Eternity Drive, so I fully intend to keep mine."-
[17:32] <Raphael> "I'll protect you from yourself if I have to." He said, giving the mask a hard look. "Sir."
[17:37] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[17:37] <Minaplo> ["Alright. So you want to help me, then?"]
[17:37] * Raphael nodded once.
[17:38] <Minaplo> ["Then you can start by apologising to my mother."]
[17:39] <Raphael> A muscle along the edge of his jaw twitched fretfully for a moment, but otherwise Raphael's expression remained unchanged. "… Yes sir."
[17:41] <Minaplo> ["The next time you clash with her, I want you to remember that she's had less than a few months to deal with losing the love of her life." Said Shinji. "And I want you both to remember that you're on the same side."-
[17:42] <Minaplo> ["It was my sister who died, my sister whose face was used. If I can make peace with that, then you can be a man and do the same."]
[17:44] <Raphael> "…" That resulted in a longer silence. No tells in his expression just time, just a subtle change in his eyes. A bit of shame?
[17:44] <Raphael> "Yes." That was all.
[17:46] <Minaplo> ["Thank you."-
[17:47] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[17:47] <Minaplo> [Shinji reached out slowly with his right hand. He placed it against Raphael's jawline softly.-
[17:48] <Minaplo> ["You still have my face."]
[18:05] <Raphael> … of all the topics that had been broached in the conversation, that was the first to allow a slight hint of alarm onto his face.-
[18:05] <Raphael> "So I'm told, sir."
[18:06] <Minaplo> ["It bothers you in some way, doesn't it?"]
[18:07] <Raphael> "It doesn't bother me to be you," he said after a moment of thought. "It just bothers me not to be me."
[18:10] <Minaplo> ["When's the transformation process?"]
[18:13] <Raphael> "There's… no set date yet," He said. "There's been bigger concerns of late."
[18:14] <Minaplo> ["I see. I'll speak to Surov about it."]
[18:17] <Raphael> "Yes, sir."
[18:24] <Minaplo> ["On the topic, have you spoken to Roku?"]
[18:26] * Raphael shook his head. "I haven't, I'm afraid. I was trying to before our deployment, but she was still being isolated."
[18:27] <Minaplo> ["Mmmm. Hopefully you have the chance before her visits start up."]
[18:28] <Raphael> "Mmm. Chiisana's already told me to see her as soon as I'm able. How's she faring?"
[18:30] <Minaplo> ["Better than expected." Said Shinji. "Still troubled by what happened to her, of course, but she's extremely happy to hear about the agreement to let her have visits with her partner."]
[18:37] <Raphael> "… There's a lot to talk to her about, though," he said with a frown. "I'm told June's close to finishing her reincorporisation process."
[18:40] <Minaplo> ["Yeah."-
[18:40] <Minaplo> ["There's a possibility you'll be reassigned to the Dorian soon. If so, you should be there for it."]
[18:45] * Raphael nodded firmly. "That's my intention. Colonel Surova seems hopeful about our chances."
[18:47] <Minaplo> ["That's good."-
[18:47] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[18:47] <Minaplo> ["Raphael, I want to ask you something." Said Shinji, dropping his hand.]
[18:48] <Raphael> "Of course."
[18:50] <Minaplo> ["This world's going to be remade soon." Said Shinji. "Amongst other things, the souls in the Eternity Drive will be freed."-
[18:51] <Minaplo> ["I think the powers that be will give those souls a chance to be reincarnated- or to be remade, like the Neospartan children were in Eden."-
[18:52] <Minaplo> ["If that's really what's happening, who amongst that number would you want to see again…?"]
[18:55] <Raphael> "My family," he said. "My parents and sisters. Suzanne's parents. A hundred others."
[18:57] * Zack is now known as ZackSleep
[18:58] <Minaplo> ["I see." Said Shinji, yet his tone was a little lighter than it had been.-
[18:59] <Minaplo> ["So we all really do want the same thing, then."]
[19:00] <Raphael> "So it would seem, sir."-
[19:01] <Raphael> He visibly hesitated for a moment before pressing on. "And may I ask you a question?"
[19:01] <Minaplo> ["Yes."]
[19:02] <Raphael> "How sure are you that that is what's happening? That what we've been told about all of this is true?"
[19:03] <Minaplo> ["Very sure."]
[19:03] <Raphael> "Because you have to be?"
[19:04] <Minaplo> ["No." Said Shinji. "Because I tapped the knowledge and wisdom of others, Raphael."]
[19:06] * Raphael nodded slowly, watching impassive mask for some sort of clue. "… I see. Thank you, sir."
[19:11] <Minaplo> ["If you have questions or doubts, then I'd refer you to Ezekiel." Said Shinji.]
[19:12] <Raphael> "Of course. I might take that suggestion when I'm back aboard the Dorian."
[19:13] <Minaplo> [Shinji nodded. "Good."-
[19:14] <Minaplo> [It went unspoken, yet it was clear that the matter at hand had been addressed. With that, Shinji began heading toward the elevator.]
[19:19] * Raphael followed, his hands behind his back and a slight smile on his face. Only once he was inside with his back against the wall did he speak up again once more.-
[19:19] <Raphael> "One more thing, sir," he said, withdrawing a folded. letter-sized envelope from his breast pocket and offering it to Shinji. On the front, written in a child's bubble writing was the name 'Zeruel'. "From Suzanne. She said she tried to give it to you directly, but…"
[19:20] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[19:20] <Minaplo> [The doors closed cleanly shut.]

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