This Too Shall Pass 3 3 4

[08:17] <Minaplo> [It had been a long two hours.-
[08:22] <Minaplo> [The first item on Vera's agenda today had been attending a high-level meeting between herself, Adler, VC Levin and Commander Salazar. Much of the meeting was focused on intelligence reports, commands from the Ministry, and data regarding the Campo Grande disaster.-
[08:23] <Minaplo> [Now the meeting was starting to wrap up…-
[08:23] <Minaplo> ["How have your own investigations been proceeding, Colonel?" Asked Salazar.]
[08:24] * Vera folded her arms, which had been previously just resting at her side. "Reasonably, though we've reached a point where action is probably more valuable than 'safe' skulking…"
[08:28] <Minaplo> ["I see. The Ministry agrees, and so do some other parties as well." Said Salazar.-
[08:29] <Minaplo> ["We've been given several offers for help." Said Gabriel.]
[08:30] * Vera then proceeded to raise a brow at that. "…Have we."
[08:37] <Minaplo> ["Japan has given us aid, of course, but it seems your clandestine alliance is bearing fruit in other ways. Princess Sakurako wants to meet with you to unofficially offer other forms of aid. Technology, expertise…"]
[08:40] <Vera> "…Intriguing." Vera said, with a soft smile that suggested she wasn't /complaining/, even if it sounded rather surprising! "I'd be fine with a meeting of that sort."
[08:48] <Minaplo> ["Good to hear."-
[08:48] <Minaplo> ["The UN and UEF both have also sent aid, but more to the point both have offered to dispatch investigation teams to assist." Said Gabriel.-
[08:49] <Minaplo> ["… The Ministry has already accepted, and both teams will be placed under your command."]
[08:49] * Vera raised a finger, which twitched in place. "…This could get awkward, since we had reason to suspect a UN Solomon Prime was involved…"
[08:57] <Minaplo> ["Agreed." Said Salazar. "However, the UN investigation team isn't bringing any Solomon Primes."-
[08:58] <Minaplo> ["Furthermore, with the existence of powerful AT Field users on both sides, the Ministry isn't convinced that the UN is to blame yet." Said Gabriel. "So they want you to use this opportunity to investigate both factions… Watch their teams for ulterior motives."]
[09:00] * Vera simply nodded. "I had figured that would be the thrust, yes. I suppose I'll have to brush up on my 'neutral presentation of facts' arts." She didn't quite flex to crack her knuckles, but Vera stretched as if she thought of doing it.
[09:07] <Minaplo> ["We have every confidence in you, Colonel." Said Salazar. "Captain Silva's been forwarded the relevant personality profiles; I recommend you and your team go through them in Ops, after you've told them about the Princess's offer."]
[09:09] <Vera> "I imagine that'd be a useful thing to do, yes. …I mean, it'd help to know how to coordinate them if nothing else."
[09:10] <Minaplo> ["Agreed."-
[09:10] <Minaplo> ["Dismissed, Colonel."]
[09:16] <Vera> "Of course, Commander." Vera said, before starting to whirl about and leave!
[09:19] <Minaplo> [… And back out to Ops.-
[09:19] <Minaplo> [… Where apparently something had stirred up a mess.-
[09:19] <Minaplo> ["Hey, I wasn't meaning no disrespect, Captain Silva, ma'am!" Said Kader, his hands up defensively.-
[09:21] <Minaplo> [Captain de Franco Silva on the other hand was standing in front of her chair, a withering expression on her face. "Then see to it that you watch your words more carefully in the future."]
[09:24] * Vera ended up walking in with an expression that somehow conveyed both dismay and utter lack of surprise. "…What's this…? Captain Silva, what did my subordinate…" She trailed off, giving Kader a vague glance.
[09:26] <Minaplo> ["Mr. Kader apparently believes that he is qualified to judge how Pilot Salazar handles grief."-
[09:26] <Minaplo> ["It's not- I-" Kader sighed. "I wasn't meaning it as a slight, ma'am. It's just not what I'm used to."]
[09:30] * Vera …paused. This, for once, might be more ambiguous than the usual Kader incident. "…With due respect to you and condolences for your daughter's loss, Captain Silva, I'd be inclined to say that - speaking more directly than he should Kader may have - he isn't without grounds. Mostly because it would be considered unusual. …Not that that forgives the ostensible breach of tact."
[09:30] * Vera There was a vague 'hint hint' headcrane at Kader.
[09:34] <Minaplo> [Kader had the good grace to look abashed.-
[09:35] <Minaplo> ["Well…" Captain Silva sighed. "As you say, Colonel. But this is a family matter."]
[09:37] * Vera nodded calmly. "I'm sorry for intervening like that. It's not comfortable to have people on the outside saying you or your family is somehow 'acting wrong', but it's within expected bounds of behavior /enough/ that… perhaps securing the apology would suffice for now. I think he's been fairly humbled on the matter, hopefully. Because the problem that put your daughter into this
[09:37] * Vera situation hasn't seen answers nor justice yet, and that perhaps should be our focus more than ever."
[09:38] <Minaplo> ["Agreed, Colonel."]
[09:42] * Vera smiled warmly and softly, in the space of an attempt at giving comfort. "Thank you, Captain. …But, I had some business that the Commander felt Ops should handle, and I agreed readily. Two items - the first is, quite simply, that Princess Sakurako of Japan wishes to extend aid to us - tech, expertise, that sort of thing."
[09:43] <Minaplo> ["Huuh. Do you know if she's visiting personally?" Said Rosamund.]
[09:46] <Vera> "I heard the phrase 'unofficial meeting'." Vera explained, sounding vaguely coy.
[09:49] <Minaplo> ["Mmhmmm."-
[09:56] <Minaplo> ["So the Princess is coming here, huh." Said Kader, contemplative.-
[09:57] <Minaplo> ["Already fantasising, Kader?" Asked Pereira, his tone dry.-
[09:58] <Minaplo> ["Not a chance, old boy." Said Kader sleekly. "I'm not a moron. Princess Sakurako's more than just a pretty face. Japan's parliament is under her thumb, and she did it all on her own resources. She's a serious player."-
[09:58] <Minaplo> ["You should show some respect." He added loftily.]
[09:59] * Vera just smirked, though that smirk was carefully timed and designed to show the level of amusement at Smugder.
[10:07] <Minaplo> ["Whatever." Said Rosamund. "Kader's Kader. I bet if you'd been there in Istanbul you would've been panting like a dog-"-
[10:09] <Minaplo> ["- Until someone gave you some booze, then I'd be laughing." Said Kader. "Laughing forever…"-
[10:09] <Minaplo> [As the two began to squabble, Pereira turned towards Vera. "What else is on the agenda, ma'am?"]
[10:10] * Vera folded her arms, glancing at Pereira, who was reliable in that way. Or most ways, really. "Ah yes, we also need to go over the personality profiles and other dossier-like-information on the UEF and UN investigation teams being sent our way."
[10:12] <Minaplo> [That shut them up.-
[10:13] <Minaplo> ["Whoa, we're getting investigation teams?" Asked Kader.-
[10:13] <Minaplo> ["From both of 'em?" Chimed in Rosamund.]
[10:14] <Vera> "Apparently from both of them, yes! …Which means in addition to putting Cav-01 under the Tarp of Secrecy, we should be wary of going too deep into 'a Prime totally did it isn't that right UN guys?'"
[10:15] <Minaplo> ["Okay. I'll make sure to put on my Pereira face." Said Kader. He coughed. "Dem Colombians did it!"-
[10:15] <Minaplo> [Pereira's expression was flatter than the walls.]
[10:19] * Vera smirked, though it was more a predatory amusement this time. Vera, yes, was capable of multiple smirk configurations. It's a high-Fel thing. "Rib your comrades too much more, Kader, and you'll have a chest of solid bone." Which was maybe not the least cryptic pun-joke. "…But really just state the other facts - like the high AT Field, et cetera - neutrally, and sort of… beg the
[10:19] * Vera question without answering it yourself."
[10:20] <Minaplo> ["Understood." Said Pereira.-
[10:21] <Minaplo> ["Ma'am, I don't think you understand Iron Guard physiology that well if you think that's a thing I don't already have." Added Kader.-
[10:21] <Minaplo> ["Regardless." Said Captain Silva quickly. "Colonel, I have the profiles on hand if you want to go through them."]
[10:25] * Vera nodded succinctly. "Fair enough. And yes, I would like that, Captain Silva."
[10:25] <Minaplo> ["UN or UEF first?"]
[10:27] * Vera pondered that, but only for a few seconds. "…Let's do UEF first."
[10:28] <Minaplo> ["Understood."-
[10:28] <Minaplo> ["The UEF has sent a… Curious individual to lead their team."-
[10:29] <Minaplo> [An image flashed up on the holofield. It was a… Sketch. A dark-skinned man with vague features.-
[10:29] <Minaplo> ["Uh, this was the image they sent us." Said Silva. "Apparently they're sending Australian guerrilla leader John Brown to head their team."-
[10:29] <Minaplo> [Rosamund's face lit up.]
[10:32] * Vera tilted her head. "…I admit there's some tactical wisdom there. And I suppose given his reputation, it's not like he's in any danger. Unless he is. …But nonetheless this is an /intriguing/ start to matters."
[10:35] <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah, I've heard of this guy." Said Kader. "Or a bunch of rumours at least."-
[10:36] <Minaplo> ["I haven't." Said Pereira. "Is there anything I should be on the lookout for whilst he's around, ma'am?"]
[10:38] * Vera paused significantly. "…The best way to describe John Brown is to give up in describing him. He's made a life around there being nigh-infinite uncertainty as to who he is, what he's thinking, and if he's even /there/. In a sense, he's the platonic ideal of invisible warfare, given a human body and sent to Australia."
[10:42] <Minaplo> ["I see."-
[10:42] <Minaplo> ["We can't even know for sure if it's really John Brown coming." Said Rosamund brightly.]
[10:42] * Vera nodded firmly. "But we'll get a reasonable Brown-like experience so it doesn't /really/ matter."
[10:46] <Minaplo> ["Understood."-
[10:47] <Minaplo> [The sketch image faded, replaced with two others- a middle-aged blonde white man with a hard-lined face, and a young darker-skinned woman with dark brown hair and eyes.-
[10:48] <Minaplo> ["Brown's bringing two attendants." Said Silva. "His supposed right-hand man, Martin Barrington, and a technician from his group, Emily Unaipon."-
[10:48] <Minaplo> ["Hey. She's super cute." Said Kader brightly.]
[10:56] * Vera smiled again, approaching a Near Smirk Level. "Alleged and supposed aside, that should be fairly useful, but if only because I expect decent things from his outfit."
[10:58] <Minaplo> ["Agreed." Said Rosamund.-
[10:58] <Minaplo> [Kader merely beamed.-
[10:58] <Minaplo> ["Next up is a figure of some notoriety." Said Silva.-
[11:00] <Minaplo> [A young man with jasper-blue eyes, sharp cheekbones, a fedora perched on his head. He was smirking. "He goes by the name of 'Mister Blue'. Some sort of eccentric who did mercenary work for the LN and before that, criminal groups." Said Silva. "Apparently he was deeply involved in NERV's spat with Parisian organised crime somehow."]
[11:01] * Vera vaguely eyed the photo. "Well, at least the eyes make the name accurate. …But honestly, Captain Silva, the moment the phrase 'UEF Team' was processed by me mentally, the notion of receiving some manner of eccentric in large numbers was all but guaranteed."
[11:16] <Minaplo> [Silva smirked.-
[11:16] <Minaplo> ["He's also bringing an aide." A young fair-skinned woman, black-haired, wearing glasses, flashed up onto the holofield. "Medea Leona. We don't know much about her, but her profile says she's adept at disguise, stealth and close quarters combat."-
[11:17] <Minaplo> ["Double cute." Said Kader with a grin.]
[11:20] * Vera considered it a little. "…She probably has some kind of story, maybe even an important one? …But sadly we won't likely know it for now. Still, they definitely seem to have the idea we'll need stealth operatives."
[11:20] <Minaplo> ["Can't argue with that." Said Rosamund.-
[11:20] <Minaplo> ["Finally…" Silva continued.-
[11:22] <Minaplo> [Leona's face faded, replaced with a new one. A young man, with bright red hair, ostentatious gold-rimmed glasses and bright green eyes. He had a smug, disdainful look. "Arthur Chelmondely, codename Brofessor. An information broker apparently owing favours to Mr. Blue in some way. He's useless in a fight, but we already know of his skill and of his institute."]
[11:23] * Vera paused. Paused significantly. "…I guess the Chancellor listened a bit /too/ well."
[11:27] <Minaplo> ["… Oho." Kader chirped.]
[11:36] * Vera frowned. "There, you have it, don't get /too/ smug." Unusually not-on-top-of-things.
[11:37] <Minaplo> ["Promise I won't~"-
[11:38] <Minaplo> ["Onto the UN, ma'am?" Asked Silva.]
[11:39] * Vera nodded to the Captain. "Yes. …Though without Primes, it'll be interesting to see how the UN can possibly compete in furnishing a rogue's gallery themselves. Yet somehow I almost expect one."
[11:52] <Minaplo> [Silva chuckled.-
[11:55] <Minaplo> [Brofessor's face vanished, replaced by a young woman's. She had a bright, heart-shaped face with light brown wavy hair. "Sarah Holt-Caine will be heading the UN mission. In fact, it seems the UN's team is primarily made up of Promised Land agents." Said Silva.]
[11:56] * Vera snapped her fingers. "Aha. That'd be how they'll compete. …Though even then, Promised Land isn't that bad? …They're like. The best PR face the UN can manage."
[12:03] <Minaplo> [There was an expectant silence from the consoles.-
[12:03] <Minaplo> ["Well, Kader?" Said Rosamund.-
[12:03] <Minaplo> ["Well what?"-
[12:03] <Minaplo> ["Not gonna mention how cute she is?"-
[12:05] <Minaplo> ["Considering she was in Istanbul, chances are you beat me to it." Said Kader. "Poor thing'll never look at breadsticks the same way."-
[12:05] <Minaplo> [Rosamund went beet red, her eyes widening in alarm.-
[12:05] <Minaplo> ["…" Pereira shook his head. "Any thoughts from your meeting with her, ma'am?"]
[12:07] * Vera considered that. "Honestly, she seems like a reasonable woman? A bit lovey-dovey if I remember correctly, in private, but a bit of a headstrong streak is the only other thing I can think of. Even then, it's rather subtle piecemeal gleanings I have."
[12:15] <Minaplo> ["Understood."-
[12:18] <Minaplo> ["She's travelling with two Promisedlander agents." Said Silva. Two more images appeared on the holofield, both young men; one was handsome with a long blonde ponytail; the other was pale, thin, with black hair and nervous amber eyes. "The blonde's Frederick Ackerman; the other one is Eliphas Meir, son of NERV Berlin's Friedrich Meir. Both are field agents, ex-NeoSpartans skilled in combat
[12:18] <Minaplo> and stealth. Ackerman's CQC, Meir's long range."]
[12:19] * Vera regarded the carefuly. "Do we know too mcuh more about them? …Though well, the pictures seem to establish what I need to know a little - that Frederick appears to be a bit more charismatic, and Eliphas is more… awkward."
[12:20] <Minaplo> ["I'm afraid that's mostly it." Said Silva. "The profiles have brief histories, but are mostly about skill sets."]
[12:22] * Vera puffed a bit of air, not /quite/ a sigh. "I figured."
[12:28] <Minaplo> ["Moving on."-
[12:31] <Minaplo> [The pictures faded, replaced by another- a handsome Chinese man with an elegant, smooth face and black hair. He had a confident look. "Apparently this man's a newcomer to Promised Land, but he's famous in his own right. Wu Yuanzhang. He was one of China's greatest warlords in the post-Impact reunification wars and was Liu Lin's archnemesis. Back then, he was known as Emperor Qianwu of
[12:31] <Minaplo> New Shu, but he's been kind of an enigma since his state fell."]
[12:34] * Vera regarded the man rather curiously. "A self-styled emperor warlord, and an enemy of a UEF general. …At least we should be glad they didn't send any of their Chinese officers in the UEF team to cause friction with him." A pause and lip-purse. "Still, more enigmas. First Brown, now him…"
[12:35] <Minaplo> ["Quite. Nonetheless he had a reputation at the time as being a very capable individual, but that was 17 years ago."]
[12:47] <Vera> "I suppose it was." Vera admitted. "I guess we'll learn more as it happens."
[12:51] <Minaplo> ["Mmm."-
[12:52] <Minaplo> ["Two more profiles." Said Silva.-
[12:53] <Minaplo> [Two new faces flickered onto the screen. Both were young women, dark-skinned; the one on the left had a hard, angular face, whilst the other's was considerably gentler, with large soft eyes. "Abeni Hamilton Elemide and Ebele Natalie Achebe." Said Silva. "The coordinator and long-ranged specialist of the UN-aligned special operation military group 'Walpurgis Night'."]
[13:06] * Vera …paused. "That is in no way an ominous name for an organization." She deadpanned, before looking at the two women. "…African, likely, but I see, I see. I'll probably need to be prepared for some level of internal squabbling and other silliness with Abeni, if looks tell anything."
[13:08] <Minaplo> ["Do you want me to forward the files on Walpurgis Night to you, Colonel?" Asked Silva.]
[13:09] * Vera turned to the Captain, nodding. "I'd appreciate it, Captain."
[13:09] <Minaplo> ["Understood, ma'am. That's all for the profiles."]
[13:12] <Minaplo> ["Also, ma'am…"-
[13:13] <Minaplo> ["Both sides have requested permission to bring a small escort of rank-and-file military and specialists with them as well. Ministry has permitted this, but they'll be barracked in a different location."]
[13:16] <Vera> "…I'm not that surprised. I figure we further have our own monitoring regime in place both in case they do anything stupid, and just because in this kind of state of war between them…" Vera wiggled her fingers. "Spies spying on spies. But that settled, it looks like we're going to be readying ourselves for a potential comedy epic the likes of which the world likely hasn't seen since
[13:16] <Vera> the /Old/ Soviet Union's cold war with the West." She said with a sense of finality that permeated even into the plot flow of the mini itself, achieving Metapause. (110% less hostile than Metatron.)
[00:57] <Minaplo> […-
[00:57] <Minaplo> [The Cavaleiro Base had a special reception hall put aside for visitors.-
[00:58] <Minaplo> [Admittedly, the base- being a secret military installation buried under the ground, accessable only through a different identical dummy installation also buried underground, didn't get many visitors for whom a reception hall was necessary.-
[01:16] <Minaplo> [And yet here it was: a warm, well-lit room, perhaps thirty metres wide and fifty long. It eschewed with the surovite bulkhead look; the walls instead were papered with dark green wallpaper, highlighted with a flowing golden flower pattern along the seams; the floor was carpeted a plush dark blue.-
[01:19] <Minaplo> [The hall also had a collection of furniture- mahogany tables, chairs, drinks cabinets, leather sofas- all things that could be brought out at a moment's notice to make the room sustain a longer party if needed. However, most of it was currently in storage except for the burgundy sofas.-
[01:22] <Minaplo> [Today- in a few minutes in fact- the hall was to play host to a special guest: Princess Sakurako of Japan.-
[01:28] <Minaplo> [Despite this the welcoming committee was made up of but four people. Commander Horacio Mateus Salazar stood in the middle, wearing an FCB dress uniform as befitting his station. To his right was Monica de Franco Silva, the XO of Operations; she too wore a dress uniform. Standing in the middle was Eufemia De Franco Salazar; unlike her parents, she wore the dress uniform of a Brazilian Army
[01:28] <Minaplo> captain.-
[01:28] <Minaplo> [Despite his rank, Salazar wasn't in charge of this welcome. That responsibility belonged to the fourth person in the room…]
[01:30] * Vera would be that person, chosen probably because of her role in facilitating this in the first place. Now, a modest table had been requisitioned to hold any drinks or snacks (or tablet computers/etc) offered, and she herself was standing near it, but not reclining on it or any such slouchy conduct like that. No, instead, she was upright and proper, in a dress uniform fitting /her/
[01:30] * Vera rank, with a light smile as well.
[01:37] <Minaplo> ["Feeling confident, Colonel?" Asked Commander Salazar.]
[01:38] * Vera turned to the Commander, nodding. "Reasonably so. It's possible the Princess might come up with some kind of unexpected thing that may well make me sweat, but it's not overly /likely/?"
[01:40] <Minaplo> ["I'm curious to see what would make you sweat, Colonel." Said Silva.]
[01:41] * Vera chuckled a little. "I feel it almost boastful that my first response would be 'So am I'. Yet I can't just assume I'll do everything without ample struggle. Tends to not work out well."
[01:55] <Minaplo> [("Colonel Kuromiya, our guest has arrived. She's being escorted to the Hall now.") Came a voice over Vera's comm.]
[01:57] * Vera soon nodded her head and - because nodding doesn't work on audio-only comms - replying with an "Alright, thank you."
[02:13] <Minaplo> [Ten minutes later, the forward doors opened.-
[02:14] <Minaplo> [A pair of FCB security agents entered, followed closely by Princess Sakurako and two aides.-
[02:16] <Minaplo> [Sakurako was a tall, fair-skinned young woman with straight black hair that fell beyond her shoulders, cut to a sharp edge. She walked with a long smooth gait that betrayed not even a hint of reluctance.-
[02:20] <Minaplo> [Sakurako wore a well-fitted navy blue business suit and a knee-length long matching pencil skirt over a white dress shirt and dark stockings; she wore a pair of navy blue heels as well. On her ears were a pair of rose gold earrings shaped like flowers, the light giving them a fine pink hue.-
[02:20] <Minaplo> [The procession came to a halt in the middle of the room, giving Vera ample time to greet their guests.]
[02:23] * Vera did indeed great them, smiling soft and genial, but standing firm ad precise. "Greetings, Princess, and welcome to our rather out-of-the-way corner of Brazil. Greetings as well to your two companions." She also significantly bowed.
[02:30] <Minaplo> [A moment later, the Salazar family did the same; Eufemia first, elegantly and cleanly, then Monica; Horacio was last, a little stilted and awkward.-
[02:31] <Minaplo> ["Thank you very much for your hospitable welcome, Madame Colonel." Said Sakurako, bowing as well; her aides did the same.]
[02:34] * Vera nodded her head slowly. "Those with me today are our commander, Horacio Mateus Salazar, the Operations department XO Monica de Franco Silva, and Captain Eufemia De Franco Salazar." Smoothly, one to the next without skipping beats.
[02:40] <Minaplo> ["How do you do, ma'am." Said Horacio.-
[02:40] <Minaplo> ["Very well, thank you." Said Sakurako.-
[02:44] <Minaplo> [She gestured to the aide on her right, a petite woman with brown hair, done up in a bun. "This is my secretary, Mitsuko Asakura-"-
[02:44] <Minaplo> [Asakura bowed-
[02:49] <Minaplo> [… Then to the aide on her left, a black-haired man of average height, wearing a sharp suit- he looked alert. "Taro Fujiwara, my chief of security."-
[02:49] <Minaplo> [He too bowed.]
[02:50] * Vera respectfully returned the bows, smiling still. "Well-met, all of you."
[22:04] <Minaplo> [Sakurako nodded in acknowledgement.-
[22:06] <Minaplo> ["Shall we attend to the business at hand, Colonel?"]
[22:07] <Vera> "Of course we should, Princess." Vera said with only the mildest of polite delays, softly smiling.
[22:18] <Minaplo> [Sakurako gave Vera another polite nod, and waited for her to lead onto some sort of counsel room.]
[22:22] * Vera nodded her head once, and… "Yes, this way please." She gave brief glances at the Salazars and Sakurako's retinue, before leading her primary guest into such a room. Not painfully opulent, but decently appointed for this kind of purpose.
[22:27] <Minaplo> [And so Sakurako followed.-
[22:27] <Minaplo> ["First, allow me to express my condolences about Brazil's recent troubles, Colonel. I know this must be a trying period for you and your country."]
[22:29] * Vera had, in the process of moving, smoothly sat and gestured for Sakurako to sit. But that settled… "Yes, I would say it is. Thousands dead, and an arguably quite confusing and deep plot seemingly involved in the act. Regardless, thank you."
[22:32] <Minaplo> ["Have your investigations been proceeding well?"]
[22:34] <Vera> "I would say reasonably so. There have been multiple important pieces of information we've found that put us closer to an answer… but there's a certain level of 'questions whose answers are, themselves, questions' going on with it." Vera confided.
[22:41] <Minaplo> ["Have your operatives been forced to defend themselves as of yet?"]
[22:44] * Vera blinked once, willing to reveal slight uncertainty about the question. "I don't believe so, whether you mean physically or politically. There was an incident before this happened - a kidnapping - that might be related, though, so I suppose that might count."
[22:47] <Minaplo> ["A kidnapping? Please continue."]
[22:51] <Vera> "Yes. …Eufemia Salazar was the victim, and we have reason to believe that the means her kidnappers had used to breach our security, are somewhat peculiar to one of the potential suspects or abetters of the Campo Grande attack. Namely, a personal AT Field peculiarity."
[22:52] <Minaplo> ["Bold of them."]
[22:55] <Vera> "Exceedingly! Though it was likely somewhat by proxy, given that it was something of a chain of mental-influence 'powers' in use with intermediaries involved, in the kidnapping." But Vera shifted slightly, legs moving a bit in her seat. "But the fact remains that there are a few improbabilities, or even impossibilities, that also suggest they worked with some sort of backing."
[22:56] <Minaplo> ["Have you identified the backers as of yet?"]
[23:02] <Vera> "Not enough to openly accuse them, no." Vera initially stated, with the slightest trail to suggest she wasn't quite done. "The evidence surrounding the actual N2 attack suggests an AT Field user of incredible precision and ability was responsible for delivering the warhead via a Dirac Jaunt. Our current hypothesis is that it is beyond the ken of an Ayanami or even a high-level Iron Guard
[23:02] <Vera> Apostle, Paladin, or the like to be that precise with a Jaunt, so we suspect that, unless an Angel somehow came up with the plan, or the unlikely case of a Brother from that rebellion in Italy was capable of that level of power… then it is likely the mysterious Solomon Primes are powerful enough to do that. Thus, we've been looking most closely at the UN being somehow involved - a fact
[23:02] <Vera> that will make cooperating with UEF and UN investigators coming to aid us… complicated."
[23:08] <Minaplo> ["Agreed. It's safe to assume you'll be monitoring them closely?"]
[23:10] <Vera> "Or, really, both. As much as we don't think the UEF has an AT user capable of such, it'd pay to monitor them with similar stringence for both appearances, and in case there are things they slip that Brazilian intelligence wasn't aware of."
[23:13] <Minaplo> ["On the topic, what do you know about the anti-UN insurgency group known as Vercingetorix?"]
[23:14] <Vera> "Not very much. That they exist, mainly." Vera freely admitted.
[23:14] <Minaplo> ["Mmm."-
[23:14] <Minaplo> ["We have reason to believe they may be in league with the Federation. Shall I explain?"]
[23:14] * Vera gently waved her hand. "Ah, sure, go ahead."
[23:15] <Minaplo> ["How familiar are you with the Ikari family?"]
[23:17] * Vera paid a bit more attention there. "Enough to know that they had a large hand in NERV since before its inception, and that the survivors of the family sided with the UEF."
[23:24] <Minaplo> [Sakurako nodded.-
[23:25] <Minaplo> ["Ikari Yutada- the mother of Dr. Ikari Yui- had a great deal of influence in NERV, the UN, and in Japan's political, economic and scientific circles. Recently it seems, he has fallen out of grace somewhat and has gone on the run."-
[23:26] <Minaplo> ["Our agents are currently trying to find him. However, it seems we're not alone in that. Public Security Bureau reports indicate that Vercingetorix may be operating within Japan's borders, trying to retrieve Ikari as well as certain other former employees of NERV Japan who went into hiding."]
[23:28] * Vera pondered that, thinking of the likely implications of this. "…This does seem to line up with something the UEF would want, if they indeed are sided with them. But… do we know what caused the fall from grace, and the mass of people with ties to NERV Japan going into hiding? That, in particular, might explain as much as that Vercingetorix agents are looking for them."
[23:44] <Minaplo> ["I believe a UN power struggle saw Ikari ousted from the privilege he enjoyed." Said Sakurako. "NERV Japan aligned with the Federation after their break from the UN, but as you can expect, having the Federation or the UN control a military base four hundred metres from Kasumigaseki is not in Japan's best interests. We've since taken possession of it- they seem to have fled before
[23:45] <Minaplo> that."]
[23:48] * Vera nodded in acknowledgement. "So essentially, they could not continue employment, since Japan had no desire for the compromise to her sovereignity. …I asked that, because I suspect Vercingetorix might be the Federation's front in a war-of-spies on Japanese soil with UN agents. Were it only Japan retaking the base, I would imagine the Federation personnel could simply leave - unless
[23:48] * Vera I am greatly misappraising the nature of the repossession."
[23:49] <Minaplo> ["Naturally Japan would prefer to keep such individuals on its own soil." Said Sakurako. "We have little interest in seeing such rare expertise and knowledge lost to Japan and its allies, especially at the gain of a potential enemy."-
[23:49] <Minaplo> ["But that said, we have reason to believe that you're right about the presence of UN agents in Japan."]
[23:55] <Vera> "So a bit of my being correct and wrong at the same time, by what you know." Vera said, to illustrate her own thoughts on the matter. "But I can understand your hesitation. Any independent nation with significant assets is probably going to be courted by both sides of the war - and, on the flipside, potentially undermined by both sides of the war. I think the real test is more to see who's
[23:55] <Vera> more willing to do the latter."
[23:56] <Minaplo> ["Agreed."-
[23:57] <Minaplo> ["Vercingetorix, in any case- an avenue to explore, especially if they do have powerful AT Field users as some rumours suggest."]
[00:00] <Vera> "Yes, I figured that would've been the option. While I imagine the bulk of them are ex-LN, they might have something unprecedented, which /would/ fit our criteria." Vera said.
[00:10] <Minaplo> ["Agreed."-
[00:10] <Minaplo> ["Back to our main topic- what is your next move?"]
[00:14] <Vera> "Regardless of who might be backing them and providing the superior AT user… we nonetheless have good reason to believe that Paladin Konstantina, an Iron Paladin and warlord in the contested regions of South America, is likely involved in the attack. So we intend to try to infiltrate her operation to learn more about the matter, in hopes that we might be able to both conclusively identify
[00:14] <Vera> more about her backers, and potentially ease an assault if that's what it takes."
[00:19] <Minaplo> ["I see. Japan is willing to provide intelligence and expertise as requested."]
[00:24] * Vera smiled gently, making it subtle /enough/ to seem appropriate rather than exaggerated. "That is good, thank you. I imagine that the expertise I'm most interested in would be any experience with hostile warlords - perhaps a counter-Chinese operative might be aware of that? - followed by perhaps even more, expertise on bioexotics, both to help formulate extra strategies against
[00:24] * Vera Konstantina and her supporters, and to further pin down who might be responsible for planting the N2 weapon. As for intelligence… knowledge of UN and UEF operations that might imply any movements - supplies, personnel, or talented AT users - needed to have made the attack happen, or in support of South American warlords would be helpful - and I imagine the Japanese intelligence services
[00:24] * Vera might also know more about the Oceanian black market than Brazil does. It's our suspicion that the N2 warhead itself may have been plucked from those that made it there or into Africa's black market."
[00:38] <Minaplo> ["As fortune would have it, Japan has been developing counter-strategies against bioexotics, specifically Iron Guard."]
[00:39] * Vera naturally seemed interested in that. "Oh? We, as much as we have our own Guard, do still have biotypical soldiers that will have trouble with them otherwise."
[00:41] <Minaplo> ["You say what we think." Said Sakurako. "Out of all of the advantages the Guard possess, what would you say would be the three most decisive?"]
[00:44] <Vera> "Mm… Probably the most decisive would be their increased physical ability - very especially resilience - ability to equip heavier weapons with ease, and in the case of certain classes, possession of AT Field abilities."
[00:59] <Minaplo> ["Agreed."-
[01:00] <Minaplo> [Sakurako reached into her jacket and took out a small holo, which she placed on the table.-
[01:00] <Minaplo> [A second later it flared into life, projecting an image into the air.-
[01:01] <Minaplo> [At first glance it looked like Vera was looking at an AC Suit, albeit a small one. However, she'd notice it was too small to be a real suit and furthermore, it was closer to a mid-way point between power armour and an AC Suit.-
[01:02] <Minaplo> ["This is the Goju Shiki Tactical Trooper Battlesuit." Said Sakurako.]
[01:04] * Vera appraised the suit now, regarding it carefully, even craning her head around a bit. "So essentially it readily attempts to get at least two out of three of those traits? …I recall some science fiction exploring that size of battle armor, so I guess it's good to see that the gap between AC Suit and power armor is bridged."
[01:06] <Minaplo> ["The UN is known to deploy a type of battlesuit." Said Sakurako. "Often it's fielded by Magistrates on the battlefield."-
[01:06] <Minaplo> ["This is our take on it. Yes, it's an attempt to combine heavy defensive ability with the ability to wield advanced weaponry- without needing potentially lethal and lengthy modifications to the body."]
[01:16] <Vera> "…Indeed. It has a different tactical role as well, likely, than the seeming endorsement of the Magistrate-as-supersoldier/knight doctrine the UN seems to deploy theirs with."
[01:16] <Minaplo> ["Yes."-
[01:17] <Minaplo> ["Japan has currently produced 25 Goju Shiki- as a gift to our allies in time of need, we offer 8 suits as a gift."]
[01:20] * Vera thought about that, tilting her head. "Which is a reasonable and appreciated gift. I'm somewhat even surprised that it's 8 rather than a lower number, since it is still largely a Japanese defensive initiative - howerful, with 25 already produced, you're likely to make more. Though…" Vera once again smiled, though it was somewhat knowing. "I suspect the army's R&D would love to
[01:20] * Vera reverse-engineer one of them. Perhaps a compromise on that front would be to have a copy of the schematics, but take less actual suits? It almost seems like an insult to the workmanship to consider dismantling it unnecessarily."
[01:49] <Minaplo> ["Schematics and an old test-type can be provided, yes."]
[01:52] <Vera> "Thank you for humoring us. Asking for proliferation of the newest innovations can be a lot to ask, so i'm glad you agreed." Vera said, and to be honest, she looked genuinely pleased. "I believe that's a reasonable material contribution, though. As Brazil does have a good military baseline to work from, and to be abundantly fair, the information and expertise would be of /great/ value,
[01:52] <Vera> since anything that moves towards finding the ultimate orchestrator has vast consequences on the world - ones I feel justice is served by realizing."
[01:53] <Minaplo> ["Agreed." Said Sakurako.-
[01:54] <Minaplo> ["On the topic, what do you know, if anything, about the expertise being provided by the Federation and the UN?"]
[02:05] * Vera drummed her fingers, once. "I know that both groups are a fair amount more eclectic than is to be expected from formal governments. In the Federation's case, their significant history as the bulk of NERV makes that… make a lot of sense, really? NERV was rather often… strange. But to see it from the UN is a surprise, though less so. I should explain." Vera said, knowing she was
[02:05] * Vera digressing. "The Federation's team includes notorious figures, formerly-underground operatives, and their retinues. However, that notoriety is also based on obvious skill. The UN's… largely composed of mercenaries. While the UEF can't seem to agree on too many sources - Australia and the European criminal underground - the UN is almost entirely paramilitary. The Promised Land company, and a special operations unit with the very friendly name of 'Walpurgis Night'."
[23:01] <@Mianplo> ["Who specifically from Promised Land?"]
[23:04] * Vera briefly paused, to dredge it up from memory. "I believe Ms. Holt-Caine, and three members - Frederick Ackerman, Eliphas Meir - of the same Meir as NERV Berlin's Meir - and, of all people, Wu Yuanzhang."
[23:10] <@Mianplo> [Sakurako's eyebrows rose enough to meet her hairline. "Wu Yuanzhang? The Qianwu Emperor of New Shu?"]
[23:11] * Vera nodded, with a certain cadence of grim assurance. "Such would be correct. That he's resurfaced there of all places is strange, even for myself, who only distantly academically knows of him."
[23:13] <@Mianplo> ["Indeed. To my knowledge, he was still living the humble, clandestine existence he'd lived since losing to the Republic."]
[23:14] <Vera> "…I have to wonder if there isn't some form of ulterior motive for his joining Promised Land - which is, for all that it might not literally be so, tantamount to a UN experiment in UEF-style eccentricity."
[23:27] <@Mianplo> [Sakurako chuckled.-
[23:28] <@Mianplo> ["I agree. I have my own thoughts on this, but what do you suspect Promised Land is up to, recruiting him?"]
[23:30] <Vera> "I'm not entirely sure, but the fastest hunch is to mess with the UEF's Chinese officers." Vera said rather quickly.
[23:34] <@Mianplo> ["Such as whom?"]
[23:35] * Vera reclined slightly. "I'd imagine first and foremost, their general, Liu Lin."
[23:36] <@Mianplo> ["Hmm…"]
[23:38] * Vera then leaned back forwards. "If it's any consolation, the fastest hunch need not be the most accurate theory. I just know the UN seems fond of psy-ops against the UEF, and surely there is some form of puzzlement on his involvement, or exploitable past relationship present. It could even merely be for something as banal as his skill, or familiarity with Chinese territory and resources."
[23:44] <@Mianplo> [Sakurako folded her hands together and frowned at the table for a few seconds. Eventually she spoke up.-
[23:44] <@Mianplo> ["What we discuss next is to remain secret between you and me. Not even your commanders may know."]
[23:46] * Vera …took her own turn to raise a brow. But after a few seconds herself to think of that, she bowed her head momentarily. "…I can and will accept such confidence."
[23:53] <@Mianplo> ["I've been in secret talks with Ezra Caine."]
[23:57] * Vera blinked. "…I see." That wasn't quite what she was expecting, but she didn't know what to expect in the first place. "Are there details you particularly want me to hear about this?"
[00:03] <@Mianplo> ["Well, as you yourself understand, the League of Non-Aligned States is at best a makeshift alliance, and at worst an informal, unreliable network of Also-Rans."]
[00:06] * Vera had to agree. "Yes. I can admit, while we're speaking in confidence, that I wondered what Japan's position was, given the notable /public/ overtures of strength and dogged independence, on that issue."
[00:12] <@Mianplo> ["Mmm."-
[00:22] <@Mianplo> ["Ezra Caine is the very model of the crafty owl; he quietly does dangerous things as they suit his purpose." Said Sakurako. "He will not long abide living under another's control."-
[00:22] <@Mianplo> ["He- separate of his authority as a UN commander- has approached me with the idea of crystalising the League into a more definite third pole of power."]
[00:27] * Vera thought about that for a good amount of time. "…A third pole of power. …What would that entail? Some kind of alignment into a firmer power-bloc like the two belligerents are now? I mean, I could see there being some positive sentiment for a move of that sort in Brazilian politics, though there are also those who are beholden to one or the other side in an assumption that one
[00:27] * Vera must eventually align. Still…" She trailed for a moment, before bridging her palms a bit over the desk. "Someone who chafes under another's control, who does crafty things as he wills. He must have some sort of 'endgame', whether noble or pragmatic."
[00:28] <@Mianplo> ["Agreed."-
[00:33] <@Mianplo> ["In preliminary talks, he stated that if he could commandeer resources from the UN, perhaps as part of a factional splintering, he could use those resources to form a type of pan-Pacific alliance." Said Sakurako.-
[00:41] <@Mianplo> ["With this context, then, I'm comfortable in coming to two conclusions."-
[00:45] <@Mianplo> ["The first is that Ezra Caine recruited Wu because he intends to add China to this alliance." Said Sakurako. "Simply put, China isn't as powerful as it looks. Over the past 16 years, much of its time and resources have been tied up trying to suppress its subjugated states and securing ample food supplies. Trust and respect for the Chinese Federal government among the people has been
[00:45] <@Mianplo> declining steadily over the last eight years. Many people in the southlands and west, especially those in the desertified regions, have fond memories of New Shu and its Emperor. Finally, recent events, such as the Angel attack on Beijing-2 and other cities, or the Angelspawn swarms in Mongolia, Siberia and the western basin have eroded its ability to maintain control."-
[00:46] <@Mianplo> ["Ezra Caine has the perfect way to bring China into his orbit- by allowing Wu Yuanzhang to return with greater support, this time as a heroic redeemer of the State."]
[00:49] * Vera nodded. "…China's problems no doubt are a major disruption to the UEF's operations, though not as disruptive, likely, as traditional Soviet aggression. So done carefully, this would actually work."
[00:51] <@Mianplo> ["Agreed."-
[00:52] <@Mianplo> ["My second conclusion is that sending Promised Land agents to you was not a coincidence." Said Sakurako. "I strongly suspect that Holt-Caine is here to broach the third-pole idea to Brazil."]
[00:58] <Vera> "…Mm." Vera said, in thought and ponderance. "It'd make sense. Who better but his wife? I remember just an hour or two ago, characterizing her and him as 'lovey-dovey' with each other. …So in actuality, if you're right, that'd put this farther from the 'personable PR face in contrast to what is the UN's new typical' theory I had. …And also means I should probably be most cautious of
[00:58] <Vera> the Walpurgis Night girls, in addition to the appropriated ex-criminals of the UEF's team. Because they likely have more direct connections to the UN leadership, rather than being a third-pole emissary."
(23:36) <@AdEvaGM> ["You suspect they're out to watch the Promisedlanders?"]
(23:38) * Vera tapped a finger on the desk. "That seems like a reasonable hypothesis. Even if they aren't, I should probably still be wary simply for their lack of the Promisedlanders' motivations."
(23:42) <@AdEvaGM> ["What do you know about their motives?"]
(23:43) <Vera> "Scant little, if you mean Walpurgis Night. …Which is why I feel so cautious."
(23:48) <@AdEvaGM> ["Mmm."-
(23:49) <@AdEvaGM> ["Are you confident, Colonel, regarding the impact these 'experts' will have on your mission? If necessary, I can disatch some of my agents to assist you."]
(23:51) * Vera thought about that for a moment, before laying flat the tapping-finger's hand. "I don't think it'll be necessary, personally. I personally think trying to outwardly appear thankful and embracing of their support would be better than, in this case unannounced to them, getting a countermeasure. If you feel a desire to leverage more help I'd appreciate it all the same, but best not
(23:51) * Vera to alarm the two powers."
(00:03) <@AdEvaGM> ["Agreed."-
(00:10) <@AdEvaGM> ["Now, regarding some other business. I'd like to bring to your attention certain curious fluctuations in global commodities recently…"-
(00:10) <@AdEvaGM> [And so the business shifted away into other topics- discussions lasting more than a few hours.-
(00:11) <@AdEvaGM> [Eventually they'd end, and Vera would go home- as would the Princess, taking a quick journey back to Japan. She was too busy to take in the sights of Sao Paulo.-
(00:11) <@AdEvaGM> […-
(00:18) <@AdEvaGM> [Kader spun in his chair. "The investigation teams should be arriving any minute now, Colonel."-
(00:19) <@AdEvaGM> [It had been a slow day, made slower by a mounting sense of tension within Sao Paulo Base.-
(00:20) <@AdEvaGM> [It was… Understandable, of course. Vera herself had spent hours today ensuring that anything hinting at the existence of a big bad Evangelion was hidden and removed. It had been an intensive job.-
(00:21) <@AdEvaGM> [Just to sell the lie a little harder, the Cavaleiro cage had been quickly remodelled to support Dragaos. They'd even gone so far as to conspicuously start running 'flight tests' with Eufemia in a Dragao simulator.]
(00:22) * Vera certainly had been up to more extensive and 'real' concealment options than merely the 'tarp of secrecy' she had hinted at now days back. But that didn't matter, for right now she was seated at her own chair, not quite the martial throne of command, but still quite authoritative. "…Now we get to see them."
(00:34) <@AdEvaGM> ["Who'll be first, do you reckon?" Asked Rosamund.]
(00:35) <Vera> "…I'm not entirely sure. Maybe that Brown guy will suddenly reveal themselves to have been Pereira all along. …Though really it could be anyone."
(00:38) <@AdEvaGM> ["That Brown guy's crazy." Said Kader slowly. "Imagine having to impersonate Pereira…"-
(00:39) <@AdEvaGM> [Pereira shot him a dark look.-
(00:39) <@AdEvaGM> ["… Out of curiosity, which would you prefer to be first?" Asked Rosamund.]
(00:40) * Vera raised a finger. Thought on that for a good while. "…Probably Holt-Caine, actually? She's the least likely to be… Too entertaining, if you catch my drift."
(00:50) <@AdEvaGM> ["Mmm, fair enough!"-
(00:57) <@AdEvaGM> […-
(00:58) <@AdEvaGM> ["Colonel, the first lot's arrived." Said Kader.-
(00:58) <@AdEvaGM> ["UN."]
(00:59) * Vera simply nodded her head at that. "Alright, let's see them."
(01:18) <@AdEvaGM> [Vera and her bridge crew quickly headed off toward the reception hall.-
(01:18) <@AdEvaGM> [They didn't have to wait long.-
(01:24) <@AdEvaGM> [A group of six entered, walking in a casual formation. At their head was Sarah Holt-Caine, wearing her Promised Land dress uniform- a close, tight-collared long-sleeved jacket and a pair of long trousers and shiny black dress shoes. The jacket was desert yellow and had little in the way of ostentatiousness- only a pair of black shoulder marks bearing four red stripes.-
(01:33) <@AdEvaGM> [Behind her walked Wu Yuanzhang. He was a tall man, handsome; his skin was flawless, his black hair neatly combed back into a little bun tied together with a golden hairpin. He sported a trimmed goatee and thin moustache on his face. Like Sarah, he wore a Promised Land dress uniform, although over it he wore a red linen coat.-
(01:37) <@AdEvaGM> [Then came the Witches. Abeni Hamilton Elemide was short and scrawny, easily the shortest in the group. She had medium-length hair, combed back and kept close to the scalp. Unlike Wu or Holt-Caine, she wore a unique outfit: a light blue jacket under a white hoodie and a pair of jeans, tucked into high boots. She wore fingerless gloves, and over her eyes were a pair of thick sunglasses with an extremely dark tint.-
(01:44) <@AdEvaGM> [Next came Ebele Natalie Achebe, a taller girl with a gentle, round face and short brown hair. She wore a short-sleeved white t-shirt, over which she wore a black sleeveless jacket; she wore a knee-length white skirt and a pair of boots that matched her fellow Witch. She was grinning and chatting away to…-
(01:46) <@AdEvaGM> [Frederick Ackerman, a tall, strong-looking young man with long blonde hair tied back into a ponytail. He wore a Promised Land uniform, the jacket open, revealing a white shirt beneath.-
(01:52) <@AdEvaGM> [And finally, bringing up the rear was Eliphas Meir. He was thin and pale, with long black hair only emphasising his paleness. He constantly tugged at his tight Promised Land collar uneasily; every few seconds he glanced around the room quickly, his right hand hovering near his holster, which was noticeably empty. He had bright yellow eyes…-
(01:53) <@AdEvaGM> ["Hello again, Colonel." Said Sarah with a bright smile.]
(01:55) * Vera regarded them all, one by one. Sunglasses, hm. Unease and caution - best to spend an extra few seconds looking at him (with a disarming smile). A bit of swagger elsewise among them, but… well, regardless. "Hello, hello. I trust there weren't any issues on your way here?"
(02:05) <@AdEvaGM> ["None at all." Said Sarah. She quickly crossed the distance between them and bundled Vera into a tight hug. She was so warm!-
(02:05) <@AdEvaGM> ["I'm so sorry…"]
(02:07) * Vera was maybe a bit surprised at that. "…Eh? …For… …I mean it's not like…" Twitch.
(02:15) <@AdEvaGM> [Sarah didn't seem to pay attention to Vera's mumblings. She pulled away, her eyes soft with fondness. "We would've come to help you with or without the UN."-
(02:17) <@AdEvaGM> ["Not that the deep vaults of the United Nations are unwelcome." Said Wu Yuanzhang, stepping forward. He had a firm, warm, dignified voice. "We have yet to be introduced, have we?"]
(02:19) * Vera eventually stopped, likewise, before looking to Yuanzhang. "…You have some level of preceding reputation, but… I believe we haven't, and certainly not formally. Colonel Vera Freitas."
(02:30) <@AdEvaGM> [He clasped his hands together across his chest. "Wu Yuanzhang, Captain in Promised Land. My humblest thanks for your warm welcome."]
(02:35) * Vera nodded her head gently, before putting a smile on back. "I see, I see. That's good."
(02:39) <@AdEvaGM> [Vera would notice Frederick at the back of the formation turn toward Rosamund and shoot her a quick wink.-
(02:40) <@AdEvaGM> ["What's first on our agenda, Colonel?" Asked Sarah.]
(02:44) * Vera focused back on the issue at hand… "Right now, I think acclimation, understanding the resources available to you, and then a basic catch-up on the situation. I mean, we also have to manage the incoming Federation team too, so it's better to have the both of you on the same page."
(02:48) <@AdEvaGM> ["… Incoming Federation team?"]
(02:52) <Vera> "Ah, you weren't told." Vera said. "…Well, they sent an investigation team, too. …I've been doing a fair amount of groundwork to keep the two teams from conflicting - and that goes for them too - but… Better you hear it from me than find out in the first meeting."
[13:37] <@Minaplo> ["… Hm. I see…" Said Sarah. "Well, it's not what I was expecting, but we'll all do our best to work with them and spare you any trouble. Isn't that right?"-
[13:38] <@Minaplo> [Wu, Ackerman and Meir all nodded, but Abeni merely smirked a little.-
[13:38] <@Minaplo> ["Are you aware of their team composition as of yet?" Asked Wu.]
[13:42] * Vera nodded. "We are, yes. They're… interesting people. Though by most standards and expectations, either of your companies making up this group of your own are… interesting, by conventional military standards." Vera tried to smile softly. "It seems to be endemic to the post-Impact military world to have a series of eccentrics, each more unique than the last, in charge. I don't
[13:42] * Vera exclude myself so please, do not take that as an insult."
[13:47] <@Minaplo> [Wu raised one arched eyebrow.-
[13:50] <@Minaplo> [But Sarah smiled. "In that case then, I'll take it as a compliment, Colonel."]
[13:51] * Vera had an awkward countenance. "Be that as it may, I believe there's not that many specific clashes of personality? …Unless I end up not knowing one person's history or another, that is. But yes, I'll also keep an eye on things, because it'd be /roundly terrible/ for me representing Brazil as a host, to end up allowing you to have a bad time on my watch."
[13:55] <@Minaplo> ["Are we permitted to see their stated composition for ourselves?" Asked Wu.]
[14:01] <Vera> "…It's not like you won't find out on your own soon enough, because very likely both teams will be sharing notes with the same people here." Vera said, slightly sheepishly. "Aware it sort of puts you at a social advantage, though. But I can say that they have brought on a man who has the literally colorful name of Mr. Blue, an aide of his John Brown, Brown's right-hand-man and his lead
[14:01] <Vera> technician, and the information broker who goes by the codename of 'the Brofessor'." You could feel Vera sort of cringing at the title. "I mean, I can read off the names I left out but they're sadly people whose own fame is preceded by their direct leaders."
[14:04] <@Minaplo> ["Brown, eh? Interesting." Said Wu.-
[14:07] <@Minaplo> ["Ah, Colonel." Said Sarah. "Forgive me for being forward, but do we have somewhere to stay? Some of us are a bit worn out."]
[14:11] * Vera quickly replied. "Don't worry about such forwardness. We've gotten quarters blocks ready for you." And she dug through a small stack of papers she definitely had around her, just happening to have had their residence papers on-hand. And a map. Which she had all prepared roughly 10-15 minutes beforehand. "There, a general map to get around with, and I noted the rooms you've been
[14:11] * Vera allocated."
[14:14] <@Minaplo> ["Thank you. You don't mind if we break for now?"]
[14:15] <Vera> "I don't mind in the slightest. I figure the travel and security processes were sufficiently tiring, no? We're in an entirely different hemisphere from your likely prior postings."
[14:19] <@Minaplo> [Sarah beamed. "Well then- I think I'll take these chicks to their barn. Let me know when you want us to meet, Colonel."]
[14:20] <Vera> "I will!" Vera swiftly said, with a bit of a wave~
[14:21] <@Minaplo> [And so they headed off, Ackerman giving Rosamund a wave as he went.-
[14:22] <@Minaplo> ["Well well." Said Kader slowly.]
[14:22] * Vera …thus tilted her head to Kader. "…Oh?"
[14:23] <@Minaplo> ["Wanna hear what I picked up?"]
[14:24] * Vera had this slight expression on her face, like one of contemplation, of wariness. "…Sure."
[14:41] <@Minaplo> ["They were pretty alarmed at the Federation squad thing." Said Kader. "Except for the girl in glasses, Abeni. She seemed, uh… Amused."-
[14:42] <@Minaplo> ["Let's see. Oh, the twitchy guy at the back's already thinking on how to murder us all." He said lightly. "The answer, by the way, is bolter rounds, bolter rounds, bolter rounds. With a positron pistol for me." He added smugly.-
[14:43] <@Minaplo> [Pereira gave him a narrow look.-
[14:43] <@Minaplo> ["Don't worry though, his bro there's more interested in the opposite with you, Rosamund." Said Kader.-
[14:43] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, you didn't need to be psychic to figure that out." Said Rosamund, rolling her eyes.-
[14:45] <@Minaplo> ["In general, they're more apprehensive and suspicious than when they arrived. The Wu guy's hard to read though."]
[14:47] * Vera frowned. "…I'm not surprised at all. I imagine the Federation group will be just as fun in that sense." Beat. "…Seriously, bolters for everyone? Someone isn't an overly creative fighter." But a long sigh. "Still, I still have… for lack of a better word, unpleasant prickly feelings about this Walpurgis Night group. So Abeni being /amused/…" She trailed off.
[14:49] <@Minaplo> ["Ahem. Positron pistol." Said Kader.-
[14:49] <@Minaplo> ["I don't like it." Said Pereira. "I'll make sure to keep a close eye on that one."]
[15:02] <Vera> "Yeah, you're definitely right." Vera let a beat pass. "…I'm going to imagine the Federation team is hot on their heels."
[15:03] <@Minaplo> ["They're supposed to be arriving within the hour." Said Rosamund.]
[15:04] <Vera> "…Thought so. Either way that should give us some time for the UN team to not bump into them before we've given the word. …I'm sure Mr. Murder, Bolters, and Positrons will have a minor aneurysm if that happens."
[15:08] <@Minaplo> […-
[15:10] <@Minaplo> [After about forty minutes of waiting, their other guests would arrive.-
[15:22] <@Minaplo> [The doors opened.-
[15:25] <@Minaplo> [They entered, six of them, walking in a staggered V-formation, each step they took long and confident. At the very front was John Brown, a dark-skinned man of average height and average weight, wearing what looked like Federation field fatigues. On his feet were a pair of brown boots, and on his head a slouch hat.-
[15:29] <@Minaplo> [To his left was Martin Barrington- a tall man with short blonde hair, wearing a nondescript officer's uniform. To his left was Emily Unaipon, a girl of moderate height wearing a bright yellow t-shirt and a pair of jeans.-
[15:32] <@Minaplo> [To Brown's right was none other than Mr. Blue, putting as much swagger into his step as he possibly could. A smirk seemed permanently affixed to his face, and his hat was tilted ever so slightly forward, whilst his thumbs were tucked firmly behind his belt buckle.-
[15:38] <@Minaplo> [To Blue's right was Medea Leona, her expression carefully neutral. She wore a simple white shirt and black skirt over long lace-up boots.-
[15:39] <@Minaplo> [And finally to her right…-
[15:40] <@Minaplo> [The Brofessor was very, very carefully not looking at anything.-
[15:41] <@Minaplo> [He was outrageously overdressed for someone trying to be inconspicuous. He wore a long black coattail jacket over a white button-up dress shirt, replete with golden bow tie; long black silk trousers over hard-soled black leather boots, with little golden ribbons on the tongue; his glasses were gold-rimmed, and he wore white opera gloves on each hand, one of which he'd tastelessly put a large golden ring on over.-
[15:43] <@Minaplo> [They walked across the room in less-than-perfect formation, which was only further ruined when the Brofessor gracelessly tripped and fell over his own feet. The others did not stop to help.-
[15:43] <@Minaplo> ["G'day, colonel." Said Brown, taking his hat off to her.]
[15:45] * Vera naturally had her eyes focused on exactly the person who didn't want to be looked at. Astonished, confused, and deeply embarrassed (Seriously, that outfit…). But she snapped at /rapid/ pace to attend to Brown instead. "Greetings, greetings. …" She would pause. To let Arthur have some vague semblance of recovered dignity before she dropped the bombshell of the UN team.
[15:54] <@Minaplo> [The Brofessor pulled himself to his feet and shuffled over to the rest of the group, his face now beet red.-
[15:55] <@Minaplo> ["I reckon we don't need much introduction." Said Brown.-
[15:55] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, you know of all of us." Said Blue innocently.]
[15:57] <Vera> "We had dossiers, and you have reputations. …But it's worth noting, we received a team from the UN too, less than an hour ago. …As I said to them as well, I'd prefer we keep awkwardness-" A sigh. "-involving the both of you to a minimum, since the chances of an unexpected encounter approach probability-1."
[16:10] <@Minaplo> ["Nah, it's alright, we all knew the UN was gonna send a team." Said Brown. "Won't cause you any fuss, colonel."]
[16:11] <Vera> "…" Mild surprise. "And yet the UN, had no idea. …Amusing. I think." But Vera then just shook her head. "Either way, that's good to hear. Was there anything you wanted to do or say at this early stage, before either of you got to work?"
[16:18] <@Minaplo> ["I did have one question." Said Blue.]
[16:18] * Vera looked to Blue. "And that was…?"
[16:19] <@Minaplo> ["Why's your telepath bleedin'?"]
[16:22] * Vera paused. …And cast part of her vision to Kader. "…If it's Brown, just… don't, Kader." She somehow suspected it had something to do with him and Kader reading him.
[16:22] <@Minaplo> ["Shhh." Muttered Kader, dabbing at his bleeding nose furiously.-
[16:23] <@Minaplo> ["Actually, are telepaths gonna be standard?" Asked Blue. "Because you see, half of us are nuts and that would be bad."]
[16:24] * Vera scrunched her face a little bit. "…He's a liason to our telepath unit and otherwise a bridge officer. …Other than that? Ah. …I'll get a subordinate to tell you how to avoid running into Telepatica officers too much." Beat. "Especially if this is going to happen often."
[16:28] <@Minaplo> ["Happen often? Yeah, I think so." Said Blue.-
[16:29] <@Minaplo> ["Hey, Art." Said Rosamund brightly.-
[16:29] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, hi." Said Brofessor shortly, firmly staring at his feet.]
[16:30] * Vera …had to address that at some point, and didn't know how to say what she needed to without sounding cruel. "…Yes indeed." She settled with.
[16:37] <@Minaplo> ["We got rooms, colonel?" Asked Brown.]
[16:38] * Vera produced sheafs of paper! "A map, with your rooms marked, and other general welcoming materials." Which she got printed out… 10 minutes beforehand. Hmmm.
[16:38] <@Minaplo> [Brown took them.-
[16:38] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, this says it's for the UN."]
[16:42] * Vera blinked. …And then just leaned over to verify, without a word.
[16:48] <@Minaplo> [And then he lightly smacked her in the face with them. "Gotcha."-
[16:49] <@Minaplo> [Martin rubbed the bridge of his nose.]
[16:50] <Vera> "I suppose you did." Vera said, before righting herself. "But better that than a disaster."
[16:51] <@Minaplo> [Brown grinned. "Alright you lot, off we go, chop chop…"-
[16:51] <@Minaplo> [The Federation contigent began to head off.-
[16:51] <@Minaplo> [… Then Blue turned to Medea and gave her a nod.-
[16:52] <@Minaplo> [She smiled, and put her hand on the Brofessor's shoulder. With a light bit of pressure and a well-placed twist she was able to turn him around and propel him right toward Vera.-
[16:53] <@Minaplo> ["Uh-"-
[16:53] <@Minaplo> [The Brofessor turned toward his companions, but they were already too far away.-
[16:53] <@Minaplo> ["…"-
[16:53] <@Minaplo> [He turned back toward Vera, his gaze carefully pinned on her hairline. "H…ello."]
[16:58] <Vera> "…Hi." Vera said, a bit flapped but not nearly as much. "I'd suggest a more casual venue than this for catching up." She had, to wit, raised her hand as if to block just in case the propulsion was too strong. "…But they really latched onto my loosely mentioning it, didn't they?"
[16:59] <@Minaplo> ["… Yeeees." He said slowly. "Yes they did."-
[16:59] <@Minaplo> [Behind Vera, Kader snickered.]
[17:01] * Vera didn't even look at him. The thought of glaring at him and the meta-conceptualization of how it didn't /merit/ the crane of her head would suffice. "Still, you should… …… Is there even a more dapper man in the UEF who won't be messing with you? …Er. Just. …You should probably get some rest."
[17:02] <@Minaplo> ["Y… Yeah." He said slowly. "I… Will uh… Do that."-
[17:02] <@Minaplo> ["…"-
[17:02] <@Minaplo> [With that, he practically bolted for the exit.-
[17:03] <@Minaplo> ["… Pfffft." Kader croaked, clearly trying to stop himself from laughing.]
[17:05] <Vera> "…Ahem." Vera said. "On the meta-analysis, the Federation team is more bizarre."
[17:09] <@Minaplo> ["I know of bizarrer things." Said Kader smugly.]
[17:11] <Vera> "And I'm sure the latrine block would be a good second person to tell it to." Vera replied, more than a bit annoyed that the probable implication on who he meant.
[17:40] <@Minaplo> ["Uh… Sorry ma'am." Said Kader, lowering his head.]
[17:41] * Vera …simply nodded. "Thank you. …Still. It's something to keep in mind. Genial, but prone to interfering. Careful eyes must be kept on him. Brown, that is."
[17:42] <@Minaplo> ["Already on it." Said Pereira.-
[17:42] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, on that topic." Said Kader quickly. "This lot aren't fun to be around, let me just say that right now."]
[17:43] * Vera turned now to Kader with a more sympathetic expression. "…I picked up on that. …Am I just imagining things, or does Brown have some kind of complex so bad even his /soul/ is… …weird?"
[17:51] <@Minaplo> ["You know, I have no idea." Said Kader. "Here's the thing: there are some techniques people focus on when they know someone like me are around. Wu knows about one of them, that's why he spent the entire time he was with us mentally reciting passages of Laozi."-
[17:54] <@Minaplo> ["Sometimes it works, sometimes it don't." Said Kader. "But Brown wasn't doing any of that."-
[17:59] <@Minaplo> ["Brown just…" Kader made vague grasping gestures in the air. "I don't even know, but for a second it felt like I was reading my own mind."]
[17:59] <Vera> "…" Vera didn't know how to parse that, at first. "…That is some Being John Malkovich shit right there."
[18:00] <@Minaplo> [Pereira tilted his head and frowned.-
[18:02] <@Minaplo> ["It's disturbing, alright." Said Kader darkly. "It threw me out, in any case. Actually kinda hurt."-
[18:03] <@Minaplo> ["So you're saying he hit you with a Brown note." Said Rosamund.-
[18:03] <@Minaplo> ["Oh fuck off."]
[18:04] <Vera> "…Yeah I get the sense that this kind of thing is serious business, Prescott."
[18:05] <@Minaplo> ["C'mon." Said Rosamund. "You're an idiot if you expected John Brown to be beaten by passive mind-reading. That was never gonna happen."]
[18:40] * Vera tilted her head. "…Well. That's the sort of thing that you expect, but that usually reality says isn't likely, but yet /is/. Or…" She returned to a normal position. "I have no idea."
[18:47] <@Minaplo> ["In any case, Colonel, I suggest we return to Ops and begin working out how to deal with this lot." Said Pereira.]
[18:48] * Vera briefly scratched her chin, and then… "Very much a good idea, Pereira."
[18:49] <@Minaplo> [And with that, the Brazilian team turned and headed back to Ops, the reality of the task before them starting to slowly sink in.]

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