This Too Shall Pass 3 3

[21:38] <Mianplo> [END OF EVANGELION. 11th of July, 2018. Location: The Dorian Lachapelle. "This Too Shall Pass" 3.3-
[21:51] <Yanmei> Despite the success of the battle, the debriefing that followed just a few hours later had been somber and confusing, with many questions left unanswered and far more attendees than the people who had actually participated in the fight. Fortunately, it had also been a short one. Over in just 30 minutes, most of the ODs and their subordinates, scientists, medical staff and Eva pilots were
[21:51] <Yanmei> already filtering out of the room, muttering darkly amongst themselves. -
[21:59] <Yanmei> Before long, there were just a handful remaining: the UEF's Chancellor, who was slouching tiredly with bandages peeking out from the left sleeve of her uniform, Ayanmai Rei, Raphael Guillory, the calm Ezekiel and Sera de Pteres.
[22:03] * Sept hadn't bothered to even pretend the meeting would be over so easily, and just stayed in his seat, tapping the table in front of him quietly.
[22:05] <Yanmei> The imposing Vercingetorix, who had been quiet throughout the debriefing, was also still seated at the conference table.
[22:07] * Raphael was seated next to Rei, frowning as he tapped through a tablet loaded with readouts and information that had been cited during the debrief.
[22:09] <Mianplo> [Rei had a quiet, thoughtful expression on her face, her hands clasped neatly across her chest. Ezekiel's expression was also, as noted, calm. And no one could read Vercingetorix.]
[22:13] <Yanmei> "So what are we all thinking?" Yanmei asked once she was sure they were alone. "About, well, Blanc?"
[22:19] * Sept kept his eyes on the table ahead. "Strategically? We can deal with it. It's a mess, but no more than it's been so far."
[22:22] <Raphael> "She's deploying firepower at least on par with Scholastica," Raphael noted, locking the tablet. "That's not a minor problem. And the morale ramifications are… an issue."-
[22:22] <Raphael> He managed not to look at Vercingetorix as he said it.
[22:28] <Sept> "Correct. But ideally, we'll succeed in undermining the motivations of other important UN personnel, too. Right?"
[22:29] <Raphael> "Perhaps."
[22:30] <Sept> "So she's our new priority on that list."
[22:31] * Yanmei frowed deeply. "How, though?"
[22:37] <Sept> "Capture her, open a dialog, speculate wildly," Sera shrugged, still maintaining a grave expression. "Use contacts. Ezra can't possibly approve of her treatment."
[22:39] <Mianplo> ["… She spoke to me as though she'd chosen this on her own terms." Said Rei quietly. "She didn't sound like she wanted to serve Mary, but felt it was the best choice."]
[22:41] <Raphael> "… That doesn't necessarily mean anything," Raphael said, his tone a little gentler than before. "Caine has enough conditioning abilities on her side that we can't take that as gospel."-
[22:42] <Raphael> "And it's entirely possible he -does- approve. We only know the face he showed us during the Istanbul negotiations," Raphael said to Sera, "And I'll note that it's highly possible he knew about this at that time."
[22:42] <Sept> "Obviously. But I think we can rule out simple conditioning. There would've been no need to kill her for something like that. There's more to this."
[22:43] <Mianplo> ["Lilith." Said Vercingetorix simply.]
[22:44] * Raphael was quiet at that. It was above his pay-grade.
[22:45] <Yanmei> "Please elaborate," Yanmei said quietly.
[22:55] <Mianplo> ["Aline's soul was sealing a half of Lilith." Said Vercingetorix. "That makes everything more complicated. Ezekiel, if a Seed's soul is divided and one half placed into an E-Type, where does that half go if the E-Type dies?"-
[22:55] <Mianplo> ["Once the barrier of the soul has degraded, the half will typically try to join with the other half." Said Ezekiel.-
[22:55] <Mianplo> ["Right. But it hasn't." Said Vercingetorix. "Which means Mary Caine's extracted it somehow, or something like that."]
[23:02] <Raphael> "… would it be possible to shackle a soul like that with the Eternity Drive?"
[23:04] * Sept fished out his ornate whistle necklace to bite on the end briefly, seemingly as a stress reaction. "To transfer it, at least. Same end result for her."
[23:08] <Mianplo> ["It would be difficult to simply place Lilith's soul within the Eternity Drive and control it." Said Ezekiel. "Even in a divided state, Lilith is in her element there, surrounded as she is by her children's souls whilst they are in a dormant state, especially if Mary Caine has used a piece of Lilith's body as a foci for the Drive."-
[23:09] <Mianplo> ["There are very few entities that can truly control even a fragment of a Seed's light. An E-Type with enough strength could do it."]
[23:12] <Yanmei> "Ugh. So maybe that's why she brought back Blanc? To keep her around as a handy storage vessel for Lilith that's actually conditioned or coerced into being loyal to her? But why put her back on the battlefield if that's the case…?"
[23:15] <Raphael> "To shake us up, to deploy extra firepower until they make up the Evangelion shortfall with further DEVAs or MPs… there's a fair few reasons, ma'am," Raphael noted.
[23:15] <Mianplo> ["It's not like NERV didn't do basically the same thing with three different vessels for three years, Meimei." Said Rei.]
[23:16] <Raphael> "And all of this is before we get into the more metaphysical reasons, which I'm hardly qualified to comment on."
[23:17] <Yanmei> "Look, this doesn't seem half as dire as the situation we were in with the Angels? Caine seemed like she was doing just fine -without- deploying 00. Just saying."
[23:20] <Sept> "Do you think she wasn't forced into this move, meaning she would've made it exactly for non-combat reasons?"
[23:25] <Yanmei> "I don't know what her reasoning is, but this is stupid and reckless and -stupid-. How dare she!"
[23:26] <Mianplo> ["What if she has a use in combat beyond just weapons?" Said Vercingetorix. "A special kind of weapon that only a Lilith vessel could use."]
[23:31] * Sept just nodded sharply at Yanmei's outburst. "We didn't see anything like that, did we? She'd be able to safely use certain types of artifacts, maybe, but I don't think you could… -do- anything with half a Seed."
[23:32] <Mianplo> ["It's entirely possible to 'do' something with half a Seed." Said Ezekiel.]
[23:33] <Sept> "Right. Those capabilities would have to stem from something Mary has access to and we don't, yes?"
[23:34] <Mianplo> ["The ability to allow a vessel to tap a Seed's soul without a catastrophic failure."]
[23:35] * Raphael looked a little uneasy. "… as in, what Aline had done in the past with Voriel?"
[23:35] <Mianplo> ["That, yes."]
[23:36] <Raphael> "…"
[23:38] <Sept> "Please elaborate. Does her not having to rely on Voriel change anything?"
[23:41] <Mianplo> ["Voriel awoke Leenie's half of Lilith in the battle with Gabriel." Said Rei. "And Lilith went crazy and took over Leenie and EVA-00, and was on the way to regenerating."-
[23:42] <Minaplo> ["That's the result of a vessel trying to take in their own hands the power of a Seed without the appropriate preparations." Said Ezekiel to Sera. "Voriel was not special, he was just in the right position to force the attempt."]
[23:47] <Yanmei> "I don't suppose there's any way for us to prevent a controlled, weaponized repeat of that incident?"
[23:48] <Minaplo> ["I highly doubt Mary Caine has the power to control that without deploying multiple Evangelions." Said Ezekiel. "And such a defense is too easily broken. In that situation, it would be as much a risk to Caine as to us."]
[23:50] <Yanmei> "Ok, good. At least that's something. It's only the other weird Seed powers we have to watch out for…"
[23:51] <Minaplo> ["Optimally, Caine would probably desire a method that taps into Lilith's power in only safe, limited ways." Said Ezekiel.-
[23:51] <Minaplo> ["… Hm." Rei was quietly listening.]
[23:52] <Sept> "We'll be in a much better position to allocate resources against it if we can narrow the field down first. Got ideas, Rei?"
[23:53] <Raphael> "… Why Rei?" The response was a little more suspicious than Raphael had likely intended.
[23:56] <Sept> "…no reason. Carry on," Sera said in a lower voice and looked away for a moment.
[23:57] * Raphael kept staring for a moment before shaking his head and turning back to Yanmei.
[23:57] <Minaplo> ["Um. I was just thinking." Said Rei. "Wasn't Azariah trying to build a god machine deliberately intending to control Lilith?"]
[00:00] <Yanmei> "But that was just a pipe dream. Wasn't it?" She eyed Raphael.
[00:01] <Raphael> … who in turn looked at Ezekiel after a moment of deer-in-headlights uncertainty.
[00:02] <Sept> "It wouldn't be unthinkable that Mary's repurposed some of it for her own machinations…"
[00:03] <Minaplo> ["If Caine had access to it, that is almost certain." Said Ezekiel. "But to be honest I am unsure how far Azariah was able to progress in pursuit of his goal. We would have to speak to a specialist. A LN scientist, one trusted with the most difficult and most extraordinary of challenges…"-
[00:06] <Minaplo> [Fifteen minutes later, Surov entered. "You called, Zhang?"]
[00:08] <Yanmei> "Hello doctor. Have a seat? We were just discussing some LN tech, and felt that it was appropriate to have an expert confirm something."
[00:12] <Minaplo> ["I see." Said Surov.-
[00:12] <Minaplo> [He took a seat.]
[00:13] * Raphael didn't seem to be bristling quite as much as he would've been in the past when put in Surov's presence, for whatever reason. He waited for Yanmei to continue.
[00:14] * Sept had had quite enough daily interaction with the man, too, and left the initiative to someone else.
[00:14] <Minaplo> ["Hi, Dr. Surov."-
[00:14] <Minaplo> ["Hello, Ms. Ayanami." Said Surov.]
[00:14] <Yanmei> "Um. Is it true that the LN worked on and completed a machine that was capable of controlling one of the FAR Seeds? Lilith in particular?"
[00:16] <Minaplo> ["We called it the DEM."]
[00:17] <Sept> "Haven't heard of it. Can you tell us about it?"
[00:22] <Minaplo> ["The DEM was based on the idea that if synchronization technology had the power to control an Evangelion, then it could conceivably, with enough modifications and improvements to the system, be used to control a Seed."]
[00:26] <Sept> "Alright. So what did it need to function? What were the… modifications?"
[00:35] <Minaplo> ["Synchronization primarily requires three elements." Said Surov. "A control interface, an entity capable of being controlled, and a connection between the two. For an Evangelion, the control interface is the Entry Plug, which fuses with an Eva's central nervous system. The entity of course is an Evangelion with a compatible soul, conditioned and lobotomised into docility and affixed with
[00:35] <Minaplo> numbing restraining armour. And the connection is the synch ratio that unifies the pilot and the soul, allowing the pilot to send commands on the soul's behalf."]
[00:38] <Yanmei> "So you created an entry plug that could be inserted into the body of a weakened Seed…? And then came up with someone who could synch with it?"
[00:39] <Minaplo> ["No no no." Said Surov condescendingly. "You're making it sound simple."]
[00:42] <Sept> "God forbid. Did you get to find out if a regular E-Type would be sufficient for the process, or if you needed an Evangelion too?"
[00:45] <Minaplo> [Surov shook his head. "A single E-Type wouldn't suffice. We tried that already. Don't you remember Eugenia Ranvier and the Third Impact she nearly started? No. A divided soul would have to be the key no matter what."-
[00:47] <Minaplo> ["The idea I ultimately felt had the best chance of success would be as follows:"-
[00:47] <Minaplo> ["One, convert Lilith's body into an Evangelion-type body."-
[00:50] <Minaplo> ["Two, divide Lilith's soul into seven components."-
[00:50] <Minaplo> ["Three, place each component into one of the Eves."-
[00:50] <Minaplo> ["Four, use those Eves as the collective 'soul' of the Lilith-Evangelion."-
[00:50] <Minaplo> ["And Five, find someone who could synchronize with all seven."]
[00:54] <Yanmei> "And you found someone who could synch like that, did you?"
[00:55] <Minaplo> ["Of course we didn't. We weren't even able to achieve step one! Why do you think we were able to test step five?!"]
[00:56] * Raphael gave Surov a chilly look.
[00:56] <Sept> "Could any of that be streamlined with current tech, like Dysangelions or DEVAs?" Sera asked, trying to push past.
[00:56] * Yanmei glared back at him, seething, but waited until he had answered.
[00:56] <Minaplo> [Surov gave both Raphael and Yanmei a withering look of disdain.-
[00:57] <Minaplo> [(Of course, Surov personally couldn't look in both places at once, so Raphael was glared at by three two utility mechadendrites and a medical probe.)-
[00:57] <Minaplo> <-three>
[00:59] <Minaplo> ["I don't know." Said Surov. "The Dysangelions used by Caine differ to the one the LN developed. The one you destroyed, Zhang." Said Surov, although there was no malice in it. "I suspect that the Dysangelions, with their Angelic nature, are likely to be kept away from the proceedings."-
[01:00] <Minaplo> ["And I don't know enough about the Devas to say."]
[01:04] * Raphael kept staring at the mechadendrites, apparently out of pure stubbornness.
[01:05] <Raphael> "Could that be part of the reason they kept 00, aside from its effects on us?"
[01:06] <Minaplo> -
[01:09] <Minaplo> ["Considering that 00 is literally Lilith's legs torn from her body, permitted to regenerate, then encased in armour, likely." Said Surov.-
[01:09] <Minaplo> ["On the other hand, preventing us from reunifying the Trinity Units is also a prime motivator."]
[01:11] <Raphael> "…" That stopped him dead. He looked over to Yanmei, apparently looking for external confirmation.
[01:12] * Yanmei was nodding along. "So whatever Caine's planning, it looks like our best chance of stopping it is to beat up 00 and Blanc and take them into custody. Which is something we were planning on doing anyway?"
[01:13] <Sept> "Yeah, like we discussed," Sera said, in lieu of a smug smile.-
[01:14] <Sept> "We were also blindly speculating about the reasoning Mary would've had to kill Aline, and the possible status and applications of her half of Lilith. Any input there, Surov?"
[01:16] <Minaplo> ["Well." Surov shrugged. "I think the logic behind the DEM is sound, and Caine would try to duplicate it. So in this case, kill Blanc, then divide Aline's soul, put her willpower in the Eternity Drive and the Lilith-half in the rest. Empower Blanc to be able to safely tap Lilith, use the Eternity Drive to control Blanc, and Caine controls the Drive. Simple."-
[01:16] <Minaplo> ["… Hm." Rei frowned to herself.]
[01:17] <Yanmei> "What's up, Rei?"
[01:19] <Minaplo> ["How does Mary Caine even control the Drive by herself?"]
[01:21] <Sept> "Not by being biotypical, that's for sure."
[01:23] <Yanmei> "Um." Yanmei looked vaguely uncomfortable. "That's one way of putting it? All we have are theories, mind you, but she's… way beyond an Iron Guard or even a Solomon."
[01:28] <Sept> "A Seed would obviously work, but. We don't know the limits of a DEVA. That's the first place I'd look."
[01:30] <Sept> "And the DEM should… well, the same principle applies to control of the Drive, right?"
[01:30] <Minaplo> ["I have no idea. The Eternity Drive is an enigma." Said Surov.]
[01:32] <Sept> "Ah. I guess it is."
[01:32] <Yanmei> "An Eva could control the Drive under the right circumstances. Isn't that right?" she glanced to Ezekiel.
[01:35] <Minaplo> ["As the Evangelions are derived from the flesh of Seeds, yes."]
[01:36] <Raphael> "You think she has an Evangelion of her own?" He frowned. "… no. Too old for that."
[01:38] <Yanmei> "Actually… Ezekiel has a theory about Caine herself being an Eva."
[01:39] * Sept opened his mouth to speak, but reconsidered and just nodded at that.
[01:39] <Raphael> "…"
[01:40] <Raphael> "Oh. Good."
[01:40] <Minaplo> [Rei gently took Raphael's hand and squeezed it.-
[01:41] <Minaplo> ["But… How does that work?" Asked Rei.]
[01:42] <Sept> "Do you mean- some kind of pilot-scale Evangelion or a hybrid like the Dysangelion units?"
[01:43] <Minaplo> ["The theory was that the Mary Caine we see is an old body piloted remotely, and the true body is an Evangelion elsewhere."]
[01:44] <Raphael> "… not that far from a Dysangelion after all," Raphael said as he returned the little squeeze.
[01:47] <Sept> "Ah-ah. Sounding too simple again."
[01:47] * Yanmei frowned briefly at Surov, as if remembering his slight from before. -
[01:47] <Raphael> Raphael's jaw tensed a fraction, but he didn't respond.
[01:48] <Minaplo> [Surov smirked.]
[01:48] <Yanmei> "So obviously, while one of ours could replace her in that role, actually finding her and wrestling it away from her is not going to be a simple matter?"
[01:51] <Sept> "And we don't necessarily have anyone capable of withstanding a permanent synch with the thing. Tsubaki has a hard enough time as is."
[01:52] <Yanmei> "It wouldn't have to be permanent? Just long enough to shut the damned thing down for good."
[01:53] <Raphael> "… Are we sure that's how it works? There's some kind of off-switch?"
[01:54] <Yanmei> "I don't know? But I figure if someone has total control of it, they should be, theoretically, capable of finding or creating one."
[01:54] <Sept> "I think we're pretty confident it'll respond to violence, too, if we can just get to it."
[01:55] <Minaplo> ["… Hm." Rei seemed thoughtful.]
[01:55] * Raphael nodded, seeming to find more solid footing with Sera's plan.
[01:56] * Yanmei smiled at that, cracking her knuckles a bit. "Also a good idea. What's wrong, Rei?"
[01:57] <Minaplo> ["Ezekiel-san said that Evangelions are made from the body of Seeds, right?"]
[02:11] <Sept> "That he did. Got an idea?"
[02:13] <Minaplo> ["Well, if Evas come from Seeds, and Seeds can carry souls, then how do we know that Mary Caine isn't also the Eternity Drive?"]
[02:16] <Yanmei> "Um. That's a really good point?" Yanmei said, glancing around the table.
[02:17] <Sept> "I think there's still something crucial separating an Eva and a Seed in that regard. I know we don't know the mechanism she's using, but. I suppose the Eden Base experiments were technically similar, if more primitive…"
[02:18] * Raphael was watching this exchange silently, but with interest.
[02:19] <Yanmei> "Either way, it shouldn't change our actions much? I mean… if we killed or disabled her, that would still be the end of the Drive."
[02:20] <Sept> "Yes."
[21:39] <Mianplo> ["The problem is finding it." Said Vercingetorix.]
[21:41] <Raphael> "Vercingetorix has told me in the past that the room you saw was likely just a terminal. That the reasonable thing would be to decentralize the actual system across Europe at the very least," he frowned. "Of course that hypothesis didn't take into account the Evangelion theory. Who knows how that changes things?"
[21:48] <Sept> "If it's hidden, then yes, we need a way to locate it or sabotage it from the outside, and I'm sure the Drive won't be flimsy enough to collapse from some input anomaly."
[21:52] <Yanmei> "We have to be careful about this," Yanmei said glumly. "Maybe if we had access to that terminal we could actually track it down… Through spies?"
[21:53] <Mianplo> ["They would have to be super-good spies…" Said Rei.]
[21:54] <Yanmei> "They'd also have to be located in the Synfront? Which poses a problem. We don't have anyone there, I think."
[21:55] <Mianplo> ["I have. No one in critical places, however." Said Vercingetorix.]
[21:55] <Sept> "And security for the terminals won't be just some rank-and-file soldiers. I think getting a spy in there is impossible."
[21:57] <Yanmei> "An invasion is also impossible at this point."
[21:58] <Sept> "A jaunt directly inside? We don't have precise coordinates or anything…"
[22:01] <Yanmei> "Which is also a problem? The Synfront is super huge. We could end up getting that team killed if they jaunt in at the wrong place and are spotted."
[22:02] <Mianplo> ["More to the point, assault jaunting into the Synfront's happened enough times that I suspect a dirac interdiction grid's been established within the fortress itself." Said Vercingetorix. "There's so many individuals with powerful AT Fields that we're likely to be almost immediately detected- and then whoever's inside will be unable to extract themselves."-
[22:03] <Mianplo> ["Even if we did trace it, assuming the true host of the Drive is an Evangelion or something similar, it'll probably be moved immediately."]
[22:10] <Sept> "So if we wanted to go in with an attack, it'd have to be a one-way trip and have an immediate effect for any hope of accomplishing something. And that's pointless for the terminal."
[22:13] <Yanmei> "I wish there was just some way to take down the host's defenses remotely or something. Or, like, some scrying method that would get past whatever's concealing it? Then we could bypass the Synfront entirely."
[22:14] <Mianplo> ["We don't even know the nature of those defenses." Said Surov.-
[22:15] <Mianplo> ["…Hm." Rei was staring at Raphael with a contemplative expression on her face.]
[22:15] * Raphael gave her a curious look. "What is it?"
[22:16] <Mianplo> ["We can't put anyone inside the Synfront. And we don't know where or what the host really is, right?" Asked Rei.]
[22:17] <Raphael> "Mhmm."
[22:18] <Mianplo> ["But whatever the Host is, Mary and her dad couldn't make it by themselves, right?" Said Rei. "They must've had help. It takes hundreds of people months or years to build one Eva…"-
[22:19] <Mianplo> ["So our first step should be figuring out who probably worked on it, finding one of those, and flipping them to our side, right?"]
[22:20] <Raphael> "She could've had them all killed," Raphael noted. "It would fit the prior pattern."
[22:23] <Yanmei> "Very true? But we shouldn't give up without at least trying. Maybe someone was so irreplacable that they were saved in order to build later Evas."
[22:24] * Raphael nodded. "Possibly. It's the best lead we have, at least."-
[22:25] <Raphael> … he turned slowly to look at Surov. "I'm assuming you weren't involved, Doctor?"
[22:25] <Raphael> … he turned slowly to look at Surov. "I'm assuming you weren't involved, Doctor?"
[22:26] <Mianplo> ["No, actually." Said Surov. "Which is telling."]
[22:26] * Raphael nods. "Best to check."
[22:32] <Mianplo> [Surov shook his head.-
[22:34] <Mianplo> ["According to legend, Ivan the Terrible, after witnessing the beauty of St. Basil's Cathedral, blinded the architect, Postnik Yakovlev so he would never create anything greater." Said Surov. "It's probably untrue, but it's not an unheard-of idea."-
[22:36] <Mianplo> ["But if we've learned anything from the Crystal Massacre it's that Caine knows the ripple effects of mass executions." Said Surov. "If she really killed hundreds of people, then there must be traces. People who vanished, who went on trips and never returned, even something as banal as gossip about prominent scientists being found dead. The people Caine chose would've been experts,
[22:36] <Mianplo> geniuses… If she really killed all of them, then even that would leave a pattern that we can analyse."]
[22:38] <Sept> "There's definitely other LN top science staff still out there. Some of them will be working openly, but do we have the resources to go track down anyone who's gone missing, or in hiding?"
[22:42] <Yanmei> "We have the MAGI and quite a few information-gathering experts, including an actual information broker. How many resources we'll need for the actual extraction depends entirely on where our target is located… so we can sort that out once we actually -know-. Anyway, this is important enough to justify throwing a whole bunch of time and manpower at it."
[22:43] <Sept> "It… seems like the way to go, if our only other option is waiting."
[22:43] <Raphael> "Agreed."
[22:44] <Mianplo> ["We have more than a MAGI. We have my daughter." Said Surov with pride.-
[22:44] <Mianplo> ["… Hm!" Rei suddenly clapped her hands. "I have an idea, Meimei."]
[22:44] <Yanmei> "Oh yeah?"
[22:47] <Mianplo> ["I have three ideas." Said Rei, puffing her chest out, clearly pleased with herself.-
[22:48] <Mianplo> ["Firstly, I bet the people who'd know most about either the Drive or people who worked on it would be people who had something to gain from it or Caine, right? So we should see if those old men from Seele know anything."-
[22:49] <Mianplo> ["Secondly, my grandpa Yutada used to be Seele too. We should bring him in from Japan and see what he knows, right?"-
[22:49] <Mianplo> ["And lastly, we have that guy W, who has LN people in his group too. I bet he has all kinds of connections with that lot."]
[22:50] * Sept nodded at the suggestions calmly. "Of course. What's this Yutada doing now?"
[22:51] <Mianplo> ["Hiding." Said Vercingetorix.]
[22:52] <Sept> "Under our protection?"
[22:52] <Mianplo> ["… Sort of."]
[22:53] <Raphael> "Sort of?"
[23:00] <Mianplo> ["Ikari went into protection along with many other defectors from NERV Japan, including Vice-Director Fuyutsuki. Specifically, into the protection of a V-Network cell." Said Vercingetorix.-
[23:00] <Mianplo> ["… Unfortunately that was some time ago. When the previous Vercingetorix passed."-
[23:00] <Mianplo> ["…" Rei looked down at her folded hands.-
[23:01] <Mianplo> ["Since then, they've gone to ground and we've lost almost all contact with the cell. Whatever communications we do get are often short, disjointed and using old methods such as morse code."-
[23:07] <Mianplo> ["Chances are they're being pursued by both UN agents and Japan's Public Security Bureau."]
[23:11] <Yanmei> "Ugh… what a disaster? Ok. We'll put together a team that can collect information about our missing scientists in general and who can assist the cell with whatever problems they're having. They might be more inclined to talk to us if we do?"
[23:12] <Sept> "Assuming no traps and so forth. I agree."
[23:13] <Mianplo> [Rei beamed.]
[23:20] * Yanmei nodded as if to herself. "Rei, you can be on it! And Sarasvati too, if she has time with all of her other duties."
[23:20] <Mianplo> ["Yay! And Raffy too?"]
[23:21] * Yanmei glanced at him curiously. "You want to?"
[23:23] * Raphael looked a little uneasy, and it took him a second to respond. "… Perhaps we can discuss that later, ma'am?"
[23:23] <Yanmei> "All right, then."
[23:24] <Sept> "That's a clear path forward regarding the Drive. And with Aline… we're committed to more or less wait and see if an opportunity presents itself to capture her or find out more?"
[23:25] <Yanmei> "Yeah. I mean, there's not much else we can do there…"
[23:26] <Mianplo> ["If that's all, then I have one more matter to discuss." Said Ezekiel.]
[23:27] <Sept> "Did anyone have anything they wanted to air about Aline? Any problems about us facing her in combat again?"
[23:28] <Mianplo> ["… No problems." Said Rei firmly. "I'm going to bring her back. I promised."]
[23:29] <Yanmei> "Me too," said Yanmei, but her face had darkened a little again just thinking about it.
[23:29] * Raphael shook his head as he squeezed Rei's hand.
[23:30] * Sept nodded. "That much we can have. Even her death isn't an obstacle to that mission."
[23:31] <Sept> "Then. Ezekiel?"
[23:31] <Mianplo> [Rei squeezed Raphael's hand back; she gave him a favoured smile.-
[23:31] <Mianplo> [Vercingetorix remained silent.-
[23:31] <Mianplo> [Ezekiel focused his gaze on a point above the table.-
[23:33] <Mianplo> [A small flat hole appeared in reality; out of it fell… Gemstones! Each of them were teardrop-shaped and were entirely rounded edges, made of dozens of colours: beautiful blue and fiery reds, flourishing greens and deep purples…-
[23:33] <Mianplo> [They poured onto the table, stopping only when the portal vanished. A small mound of maybe a hundred gemstones now sat there.]
[23:35] * Yanmei seemed to know where this was heading. She sombered up immediately, hands clasped in her lap.
[23:36] * Sept leaned back in his chair and sunk in it a little, hands hidden under the table.
[23:36] * Raphael , by contrast, seemed utterly confused.
[23:40] <Mianplo> ["As requested, our countermeasure for the Eternity Drive." Said Ezekiel. "These are Eternity Tears."-
[23:42] <Mianplo> ["Eternity Tears may be placed within the body." Said Ezekiel, turning to Raphael. "In the event that one of you falls in battle, the Tear will 'catch' your Light and seal it within, keeping it out of reach of the Eternity Drive. The Tear will then emerge from the body, allowing comrades to collect it and keep it safe."]
[23:44] * Sept eyed the pile of gems for a while before looking up at Ezekiel. "Do we have as many as we can use?"
[23:45] <Mianplo> ["So far I have a thousand. They're easily produced, so with time I can increase that number."]
[23:45] * Raphael was busy staring at the gems himself, wide-eyed with surprise. For a moment he looked as though he was about to reach out and grab one.
[23:46] <Sept> "I'd like it on record that having a countermeasure will make going public about the Eternity Drive a lot easier, morale-wise."
[23:46] <Mianplo> ["Help yourself, Raphael." Said Ezekiel. "In fact, would you care to be my demonstration on how to use one?"-
[23:46] <Mianplo> ["Agreed." Said Vercingetorix.]
[23:47] <Raphael> "… Oh," Raphael seemed a little shamefaced at being caught out, but he nodded. "Of course, sir."
[23:48] <Mianplo> ["Take one."]
[23:52] * Raphael shared a look with Rei, but the hesitation didn't last. He reached out and grabbed one from the edge of the pile to ensure he didn't touch more than one.
[23:54] <Mianplo> [It felt warm and smooth.-
[23:57] <Mianplo> ["Now place it against the flesh of your chest." Said Ezekiel.]
[00:01] <Raphael> "…" Raphael quickly undid just enough buttons on his shirt to reveal below his collarbones. He took a breath and held it as he pressed the gem against his skin.
[00:01] <Mianplo> ["Now push firmly."]
[00:02] <Raphael> He did.
[00:03] <Mianplo> [Raphael would feel a sudden burst of warmth in his body. A second later, his finger was pushing against bare skin. The Tear was gone.-
[00:03] <Mianplo> [Everyone else would see the Tear sink into Raphael's chest as though the flesh were water…]
[00:05] <Raphael> "… Huh," he said slowly, staring at the unmarked flesh with an odd mix of curiosity and alarm.
[00:05] * Yanmei shifted around in her chair, looking suddenly uncomfortable. She watched Raphael quite closely for reactions. "Painless, right?"
[00:06] <Raphael> "Surprisingly so."
[00:09] <Sept> "Also good. Helps with rolling these out."
[00:11] <Mianplo> ["Hm."-
[00:12] <Mianplo> [Rei beckoned at one of the red gems; it quickly shot into her hand.-
[00:12] <Mianplo> ["It's so pretty. And warm!"-
[00:13] <Mianplo> ["… Hm, interesting."-
[00:13] <Mianplo> ["Yes. As Rei has discovered, the Tears have a secondary purpose as well." Said Ezekiel.]
[00:14] <Yanmei> "A hand warmer?" Yanmei guessed with a wry smile.
[00:14] <Sept> "What's that?"
[00:14] <Mianplo> [Rei poked her tongue out at Yanmei.-
[00:14] <Raphael> Raphael had to smile a little at Yanmei's comment.
[00:17] <Mianplo> [Ezekiel smiled a little. "Tears can store a limited amount of… AT Field energy." He said. "It takes time for a Tear to be fully charged, and most of your specialist wielders will only be able to charge two or three at best, but the energy within the Tears can be expended to provide a boost of power for a limited time."]
[00:20] <Sept> "It's not enough for Evangelion-scale applications, I assume."
[00:21] <Mianplo> ["No."-
[00:22] <Mianplo> [Rei quickly unbuttoned the top two buttons of her blouse and pushed the gem against her chest; it, too, rippled into the flesh like water.]
[00:23] * Raphael winced as he watched it, seeming more unsettled than he'd been when he'd been performing the same action on himself.
[00:24] * Yanmei picked up one of her own, but didn't insert it yet, instead turning it around in her hands to observe the pretty purple color. "This is going to bring up so many questions among the crew? But thank you for making these, Ezekiel."
[00:25] <Mianplo> ["You understand this is the one extraordinary favour I may perform for you, yes?"]
[00:25] <Sept> "Exactly. You'll have to figure out a bunch of things for it. Incorporate this into wills, maybe, like a rescuscitation clause."
[00:28] * Yanmei nodded at both of them. "Yeah, I know? And I assume that anyone with an AT Field should be able to find these, making retrieval relatively easy."
[00:30] <Raphael> "I'll go through the specifics with my squad leaders immediately, if you'll allow it," Raphael said. "Give people some time to adjust to the idea and put some retrieval plans into place."
[00:33] <Yanmei> "That'll be for the best," Yanmei sighed. "I'll explain it to the ODs and other higher-ranks."
[00:33] <Raphael> "Would you like me to keep the exact nature of the Eternity Drive out of it for now, Chancellor?"
[00:35] <Yanmei> "We'll delay the announcement about that for two to three weeks. The gems are going to be difficult enough for people to understand? I don't think we should overwhelm them."
[00:35] <Raphael> "Agreed."
[00:36] <Sept> "Won't they feel tricked into it that way?"
[00:38] <Yanmei> "What would you suggest, then?"
[00:40] <Sept> "A single official announcement about the Drive and Tears, and then letting your people opt in?" Sera shrugged.
[00:41] <Mianplo> ["Do people really need to know about the Eternity Drive?" Said Surov.]
[00:43] <Yanmei> "They'll want to know why we came up with this technology and what the point of using it is. Otherwise, why would anyone ever want to make their soul a collectable item after they die?"
[00:44] <Raphael> "… I'm not sure," Raphael said carefully. "I can say that making death an even more horrifying prospect while we're at war might not be in our best interests, however."
[00:45] <Raphael> «however I can say*»
[00:45] <Sept> "And yet we're trying to be the side that doesn't decide the fate of worlds in secret back room deals."
[00:46] <Mianplo> ["Not a point you want to push, de Pteres." Said Vercingetorix.]
[00:46] <Raphael> "Mmm."
[00:48] <Sept> "It… actually is, but that's fine."
[00:51] <Mianplo> ["Then perhaps you should leave the table." Said Vercingetorix. "I'd dare not force you to commit to hypocrisy."]
[00:52] <Yanmei> "Stop it," Yanmei said, frowning at Vercingetorix. "We're getting off track."
[00:52] <Raphael> … whatever Raphael's first response to Sera was he makes a visible effort to bite it back and try again. "Announcing it plays into her hands. It will collapse our morale, and when it filters out to the wider world without proof we will look utterly mad. Whatever hope we have of justifying our actions against the UN to the broader public will be gone the moment that happens."
[00:53] * Sept didn't seem fazed, and just nodded to Raphael with his eyes closed. "Your troops, your call."
[00:54] <Raphael> "Not really, sir, but I appreciate your consent."
[00:57] <Yanmei> "I… do not like the idea of it leaking to the rest of the world without the proof to back it up. And you're right. Explaining to everyone about it might result in that. But the alternative is just as weird from a morale standpoint? Asking people to insert these things without any explanations at all will look incredibly shady."
[00:59] <Mianplo> ["Then make a fake explanation." Said Surov, his tone dry. "These gemstones help shield you from negative effects that occur due to exposure to highly powerful AT Fields. Done."-
[00:59] <Mianplo> ["Was that so hard?"]
[00:59] * Raphael nodded a little.
[01:01] * Sept made a distasteful expression, but stayed quiet.
[01:06] <Yanmei> "People are going to notice that that's not true," said Yanmei flatly. "I'll come up with something. And we'll reveal the truth once we have the proof for it? Although that might lead to its own period of backlash."
[01:09] <Mianplo> ["As you like." Said Surov.]
[01:13] <Sept> "Ditto. You'll be able to figure it out."
[01:14] * Raphael just nodded, his attention on the remaining gems.
[01:15] <Sept> "I'll pass on mine, by the way. I hope that's fine."
[01:16] <Yanmei> "It's your decision," said Yanmei simply. "I guess… that's it, then. Anything else before we begin to distribute them?"
[01:18] <Raphael> "That's all from me, Chancellor."
[01:18] * Sept just shook his head.
[01:20] <Yanmei> "Then let's adjourn? Thank you all for your ideas."
[01:22] <Sept> "Yep," Sera said, pushed himself away from the table and got to his feet.
[01:23] * Raphael did the same, waiting long enough for Rei to collect herself before heading for the door.
[01:23] <Mianplo> [Surov was already halfway to the door.-
[01:23] <Mianplo> [Vercingetorix and Ezekiel stood up; V bowed slightly to Yanmei before leaving, whilst Ezekiel simply vanished into thin air.-
[01:26] <Mianplo> [Rei stood and flashed Raphael a smile before heading to Yanmei's side. She quickly grabbed Yanmei's arm and hugged against it. "Meimei, I just want to let you know that you, Zaizai and Lizzie are all invited for dinner tonight at my place, okay?"]
[01:28] <Yanmei> "A-ah?" Yanmei blinked in surprised and then slowly lapsed into a smile. "Ok, then. We'll be there!"
[01:29] <Mianplo> ["Thanks. I'll be cooking you all something special, ok?"-
[01:29] <Mianplo> [And with that, Rei headed back to Raphael's side.]
[01:35] * Yanmei was the last one in the meeting room after everyone else had strolled out or vanished. She sank back into her chair, rubbing her head for a good while, and then eventually after ten or so minutes had passed, stood up and went for the door as well, turning off the lights on the way.

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