This Too Shall Pass 3 4 2

[22:57] <AdEvaGM> [Yet again Yanmei would find herself in a conference room.-
[23:03] <AdEvaGM> [It seemed like some days were nothing but an endless parade of meetings. Just yesterday she'd spent three exhausting hours mediating between a furious Soviet diplomat and the Commander of the Far Eastern District against the Chinese governor of Heilongjiang and the Prefect of Daxinganling because an earthquake and mass flood had changed the course of the Black Dragon River by sixty miles
[23:03] <AdEvaGM> northward; the Governor insisted this made the territory Chinese. The Soviets were deeply unimpressed.-
[23:03] <AdEvaGM> [And yet here she was, again… This time about an issue that seemed far more serious than squabbling in Dongbei.-
[23:04] <AdEvaGM> [At least this time it didn't seem adversarial.-
[23:07] <AdEvaGM> [The gathering today had its fair fill of scientists. There was Surov, of course, as well as Ginevre Fontaine and Ritsuko Akagi.-
[23:07] <AdEvaGM> [But there were others as well- two other pilots. Sera and Tsubaki, Tsubaki currently dreamily staring into space.-
[23:07] <AdEvaGM> [Then finally there were the commanders… Misato Katsuragi, sitting next to Raphael Guillory.-
[23:12] <AdEvaGM> ["… The Angel then used the stream to as a carrier. It infected the emitter, then proceeded to spread through our systems. We were able to intercept and contain it, thanks to Sarasvati's efforts and Dr. Riel's experience." Said Surov dully.-
[23:13] <AdEvaGM> ["It was only after the chaos subsided that we realised that someone had actually reincorporised after all. She was taken to medical…" Surov came to a halt, giving Raphael an uncertain look.]
[23:14] <Raphael> Raphael gave off the impression that he'd been corralled into his chair by force; he was hunched and tense, gaze locked on some nondescript point on the opposite wall. His arms were folded across his chest with one hand tapping restlessly against his elbow.
[23:17] <Sept> Sera's expression didn't betray too much. He'd been busy so far ruining Tsubaki's hair with his ruffling, but seemed to pay more attention now that Surov was getting to the end of his summary.
[23:17] * Yanmei followed this interaction - or lackthereof - with her eyes, glancing first to Raphael and then back to Surov. Her brow creased. "The person was injured during the chaos," she guessed. "Or isn't generally doing so well?"
[23:19] <AdEvaGM> ["She's perfectly healthy, if currently in a deep sleep. She's projected to wake up within the next 72 hours." Said Surov.-
[23:19] <AdEvaGM> [Misato glanced up at the table; a second later she bit her lip and took Raphael's hand.]
[23:23] <Yanmei> "Well! That's good." Was it, though? She was getting mixed messages. "Do we know anything about her?"
[23:23] <Raphael> "It's my sister."-
[23:23] <Raphael> Raphael's voice was controlled, even if the rest of him wasn't. The overall effect was anything but comforting. "She used my sister's soul."
[23:23] <Yanmei> "…"
[23:26] <Raphael> "She's been in the Eternity Drive since Impact. Caine threw her soul at us as a weapon." The tapping was picking up speed. "At me."
[23:28] <AdEvaGM> [The room was silent. None of the scientists seemed willing to speak up.-
[23:28] <Sept> "Are we sure? I didn't realize they were… picked out."
[23:28] <AdEvaGM> [Misato squeezed Raphael's hand a little tighter.]
[23:31] <Raphael> "… I don't know." He finally moved his gaze from the wall to actually look at Sera. "They think so."
[23:33] <Sept> "Would Yui know?"
[23:33] <AdEvaGM> ["There's nothing stopping Caine from isolating an individual soul from the Drive." Said Surov.-
[23:34] <AdEvaGM> ["We have no way of knowing for certain if this soul is truly that of Miss Guillory, but the circumstances suggest that is exactly who it is."]
[23:39] <Yanmei> "We'll have to wait until she wakes up before getting any more concrete clues, I suppose." Yanmei folded her arms. "Not that we expect her to remember what happened?"
[23:40] <Sept> "Mm."
[23:41] <Raphael> Tap tap tap. Raphael looked to Surov. "Riel said it was a soul free of the Eternity Drive. What did that mean?"
[23:42] <AdEvaGM> ["It is within Caine's power to remove a soul from the Drive, but partition it so that a piece remains behind inside the Drive." Said Surov. "This is what she does with the Solomon Primes; she keeps the Psyche of the soul within the Drive so it can be dominated by her."-
[23:42] <AdEvaGM> ["The soul of Miss Guillory is… completely removed from it. That is, it is entirely whole. She has not been partitioned in any way. Caine cannot touch her."]
[23:44] <Raphael> "Why?" It looked to be a question he was directing at himself as much as Surov.
[23:44] <Sept> "Then, since she's been separately reincorporized… There's essentially no chance of the soul having been tampered with?"
[23:45] <AdEvaGM> ["That is what we believe, but it is prudent to take precautions." Said Surov to Sera.-
[23:46] <AdEvaGM> [Then he turned to Raphael. "Caine would've known that we would've scanned her back when she was presumed Ayanami Roku. If we'd scanned her and realised she'd been partitioned, then her plan to use her to detect Asgard Base would've been instantly foiled. She took a risk on freeing the soul and letting conditioning and the hidden Roku fragment do its work."]
[00:01] <Raphael> "…" Raphael went back to staring at the wall.
[00:02] <Yanmei> "And how did she know that the Angel would stay dormant in this arrangement until the right time? Was it even necessary to include it at all?"
[00:03] <AdEvaGM> ["I can only offer conjecture." Said Surov. "Dr. Fontaine?"-
[00:05] <AdEvaGM> ["We can assume that the angel Ireul was nothing but a trap designed to trigger if we reincorporised Guillory." Said Ginevre. "Which, considering how quickly her border degraded, would be a foreseeable outcome."-
[00:05] <AdEvaGM> ["Ireul's presence had nothing to do with Guillory." Said Ginevre. "Its sole purpose was to hijack our systems and force the battleship- and EVA-03- to self-destruct."-
[00:07] <AdEvaGM> ["… Unfortunately, I suspect that this attack was related to- certain descriptions of the attack at Asgard." Said Ginevre. "Specifically, eye witness reports suggest that some sort of AT Field effect was used to hijack the computer systems."-
[00:09] <AdEvaGM> ["If my suspicions are correct, and I hope they are not, someone on the UN perfected a method of creating Angelic lifeforms based on Ireul's abilities, and used one of these to take over Asgard." Said Ginevre. "If that's the case, then it seems likely that they were able to manipulate the full Ireul, the one we saw here, into waiting for the best possible moment to strike."]
[00:11] <Yanmei> "Could Ireul somehow be chained to the Eternity Drive the way that the Solomon Primes are? I don't see how else you could manipulate it…"
[00:12] <AdEvaGM> ["… It's difficult to say." Said Surov.-
[00:13] <AdEvaGM> ["Ireul is… Not like other Angels." He said. "This Angel was able to transmit itself through an internet connection with ease disguised as an email. It's impossible to determine without studying it intensively."]
[00:17] <Sept> "And, well. They have its Eve, right?"
[00:18] <AdEvaGM> ["So they do." Said Ginevre.]
[00:18] <Raphael> "What state is it in now?"
[00:20] * Sept looked back towards Raphael. "The Eve? That'd be Joan. So… quite controlled. And Ireul is… how did you contain it?"
[00:21] <Raphael> "Iruel, yes."
[00:21] <AdEvaGM> ["…"-
[00:25] <AdEvaGM> [Surov sighed. "It tried to take control of Sarasvati during the operation. She lured it into herself, then had Dr. Riel seal it with her programme. It is currently safely contained within a disconnected partition of Sarasvati's brain, 'encoding' itself as memories of her life."]
[00:27] * Raphael turned to stare at Surov, visibly paling as he spoke.
[00:28] <AdEvaGM> [Surov's expression was carefully blank.]
[00:28] <Sept> "Is she alright?"
[00:28] <Yanmei> "That…" Yanmei sucked in a breath. "Can we transfer it out of Sarasvati without hurting her? Maybe to another partition in some… isolated computer or something?"
[00:29] <AdEvaGM> [Surov was silent for a few moments. He clasped his hands together and rested them on the table.-
[00:30] <AdEvaGM> ["Sarasvati's life is not in danger." Said Surov finally. "And we can transfer Ireul without too much of a problem."-
[00:31] <AdEvaGM> ["However, I have no way of knowing exactly what damage it may have done to my daughter's memories or personality on the way in. She is currently in prolonged recouperation mode due to damage sustained to her internal systems. I… Do not know what she will be like when she emerges from it."]
[00:34] <Sept> "Oh. I'm sorry."
[00:37] <Raphael> "… I will take formal responsibility for this." Raphael said, a new, raw edge to his voice. He was looking at his hand now, the one Misato still held. "I… I pushed for this course of action. They knew I would. It was a trap that caused harm to Sarasvati and could have ended the lives of everyone on this ship."-
[00:37] <Raphael> "This is my fault."
[00:38] <AdEvaGM> ["…"-
[00:39] <AdEvaGM> ["I want it known that if any action is taken against Guillory based on accusations of responsibility, then I will immediately tender my resignation." Said Surov. "If any blame can be placed on him, it can be placed on me tenfold. I would have tried to reincorporise her even if Guillory had no part in it. As the chief of science- no, as Barzilai Surov, I should have anticipated this plot."]
[00:41] <Raphael> "…"
[00:42] <Yanmei> "Both of you are absurd," Yanmei said sharply. "Blame belongs to the people who dumped this timebomb on us to begin with? We have more important things to worry about than people being disciplined for things that were out of their hands, so just stop it."
[00:43] <Sept> "I agree. Your feelings of guilt are correct, yet whatever precautions we had, with Sarasvati's help, were successful. Continue to do better. Right?"
[00:45] <AdEvaGM> [Misato looked at Raphael; she didn't smile. But her eyes, her expression- it was very tender.]
[00:47] <Raphael> "… Right." His voice didn't have a lot of strength to it. "Yes, ma'am."
[00:57] <AdEvaGM> [Surov was silent for a few seconds-
[01:01] <AdEvaGM> [… He then sighed and nodded to Yanmei and Sera both. "Yes, Chancellor. From now on I'll redouble my efforts. I'll work so that you'll never have reason to doubt Technical again."]
[01:02] * Sept faced the gesture awkwardly and nodded back.
[01:03] * Yanmei also nodded, seemingly satisfied -
[01:03] <Yanmei> "So." She folded her hands on the tabletop. "Let's think about what our options are now. Should we let the Angel stay in Sarasvati? Or should we take some time to think about how to remove it?"
[01:04] <Sept> "Surely Sarasvati isn't a safe, um, box for something like Ireul. She's been doing exceptionally well in field operations, hasn't she?"
[01:07] <AdEvaGM> ["She has been, yes," Said Surov firmly. "But it is generally unwise to risk a sealed Angel in such an environment, especially when it could have access to WMDs in the worst case scenario."-
[01:07] <AdEvaGM> ["I have some- ideas on what we might handle it."]
[01:09] <Yanmei> "Oh good? If you wouldn't mind elaborating…"
[01:13] <AdEvaGM> ["Removing Ireul should not pose any technical problems." Said Surov. "But more to the point I believe we can use this to our own advantage. I have old components- inferior prototype components of Sarasvati's own. We could transfer Ireul to the head and torso of one of these. Containing it won't be a challenge- from there we could study it, communicate with it and ultimately, aim to give
[01:13] <AdEvaGM> the UN a taste of their own medicine for a change."]
[01:16] <Sept> "Dangerous as always, but sounds valuable. You had a safer option?"
[01:17] * Yanmei smiled faintly at this plan, apparently finding something satisfying in it. She stayed quiet to let Surov answer that.
[01:18] <AdEvaGM> ["Seal it in a machine and hide it in a vault." Said Surov simply. "Or, if we ascertain that is free of the Drive, destroy it."]
[01:22] <Sept> "I have no qualms with tempting fate communicating with this Angel. But how would we do it? Assign a team? Who'll have the keys?"
[01:26] <Yanmei> "Riel was the one who sealed it, correct? Seems like she would be a critical component to determining how it operates and how to communicate with it."
[01:28] * Sept seemed to agree with that, nodding.
[01:30] <Raphael> "If she's willing to work with it again."
[01:31] <AdEvaGM> [Surov nodded. "Dr. Riel was very shaken by the incident. However, any progress relies on her participation."-
[01:34] <AdEvaGM> ["Dr. Riel's methods of containing and defeating Ireul so far have relied on thinking ahead, creating paths of least resistance for the Angel then forcing it to evolve in a way that traps itself. I believe that with some work and tests, we can control its evolution and so permit it to communicate with us. Locking it into a sociable but harmless form would be the first step."-
[01:34] <AdEvaGM> ["Then we would work on gaining a powerful tool- or a powerful ally, depending."]
[01:37] <Sept> "So I guess she'll need some time."
[01:37] <AdEvaGM> ["Yes." Said Surov.]
[01:38] <Sept> "Would it be difficult to lock it away safely in the meantime?"
[01:38] <AdEvaGM> ["No."]
[01:39] <Sept> "That'd seem, to me, like the most sensible way forward. Keep it locked up until we're ready to tackle it with all the resources we need."
[01:40] <AdEvaGM> [Surov nodded.]
[01:40] <Yanmei> "Agreed. And, of course, you'll alert us about any additional equipment you'll need as you go forward?"
[01:41] <AdEvaGM> ["Of course."]
[01:44] <Yanmei> "Good. Then we have some starting points. Surov, Guillory, while we're waiting on Riel, feel free to take any time off you need for, well, personal reasons."
[01:45] <Raphael> "Thank you, Chancellor." Raphael seemed to have used his short period of silence to summon up the remains of his composure. He was sitting a little straighter and his voice was stronger, although he still had a grip on Misato's hands.-
[01:45] <Raphael> "There's one final point to consider, if I may."
[01:46] <Yanmei> "Yes?"
[01:54] <Raphael> "If you'd asked me a week ago what I would have given to have Caitlin back I would have offered nearly anything," Raphael said. He took a long breath, and it shook. "Caine would know that. And Caine would also know that she's fresh from leaving wounds like that everyone within the UEF that she could lay her hands on."-
[01:54] <Raphael> "Sending her here was a reminder that she can play God with the lives of our loved ones, and give back what she's taken away. Plenty of people would take hold of an idea like that. Her existence here is a second critical blow to our morale waiting to happen."
[01:57] * Sept tapped on the table, but said nothing, just glancing at Tsubaki.
[01:59] <Yanmei> "Assuming that everyone knows who she is and how she returned," said Yanmei slowly.
[02:00] <Raphael> "Yes." His voice was a little quieter at that. "But enough will. Are you telling me that the idea of Marianne finding out about this doesn't scare you?"
[02:00] <AdEvaGM> [Misato, Ginevre and Ritsuko all winced in unison.]
[02:01] <Sept> "It's inevitable, I think…"
[02:02] <Yanmei> "It could go the other way too," Yanmei said hopefully. "Serving as a reminder of what's at stake here."
[02:02] <Raphael> "Maybe." He didn't seem convinced.
[02:03] <AdEvaGM> ["May I make an observation?" Said Ginevre.]
[02:03] <Yanmei> "Certainly."
[02:06] <AdEvaGM> ["It will be nearly impossible to hide this from our inner circle." Said Ginevre. "Marianne knew about the test, knew when it would occur and would almost certainly find out about an Angel wreaking havoc on our most critical strategic asset. Questions would be asked. The existence of your sister, Sir Guillory, will not be easy to hide from those in power."-
[02:07] <AdEvaGM> ["I admit, the idea of Amatore or others finding out about this doesn't appeal." Said Ginevre slowly.-
[02:08] <AdEvaGM> ["… However, everyone at this table has lost someone close to them. And everyone at this table has had time to come to terms with individuals such as the Ayanamis, or Silas Caine."-
[02:08] <AdEvaGM> ["I understand that the wounds are raw. I would definitely not want to publicise this event at all for your sake and her own, Sir Guillory."-
[02:10] <AdEvaGM> ["But if Caine wishes to demonstrate her mastery over life and death, than so be it; your sister will not be the last. We have to trust in the resilience of our commanders, and do what is in young Miss Guillory's best interests, whatever they end up being."]
[02:11] <Raphael> Raphael was quiet for a few long seconds at that, but eventually he managed to nod. "… I'll cede to clearer judgement then, ma'am."
[02:11] <Raphael> "And thank you."
[02:12] <AdEvaGM> ["…" Surov shook his head. "I want to raise a related issue."]
[02:13] <Sept> "Hm?"
[02:13] <Yanmei> "Yes…?" said Yanmei thoughtfully.
[02:13] <AdEvaGM> ["I wish to discuss certain elements regarding Miss Guillory's form and circumstances."-
[02:14] <AdEvaGM> ["… But in respect to General Guillory's situation, I will refrain from doing so without his permission."]
[02:16] <Raphael> Raphael gave Misato an uncertain look.
[02:16] <AdEvaGM> [Misato… Well, she shared it with interest.]
[02:17] <Raphael> Well that was no help. "… Permission granted, Doctor."
[02:19] <AdEvaGM> [Surov nodded.-
[02:20] <AdEvaGM> ["The first note I would like to raise is that by all available metrics, the reincorporisation attempt failed. Yet there she is."-
[02:20] <AdEvaGM> ["Simply put, the cause for her reincorporisation is unknown."]
[02:22] <Raphael> "Could it have been a side-effect of Ireul?"
[02:22] <Yanmei> "That would have been my first guess too."
[02:23] <AdEvaGM> ["Very unlikely." Said Ritsuko. "Ireul was in our systems before the… 'natural' reincorporisation began."-
[02:23] <AdEvaGM> ["Besides, I'm honestly not sure if that's something Ireul could've done in its form. We don't know anything about it at all." Said Ritsuko.-
[02:24] <AdEvaGM> ["An odd couple." Said Ginevre. "Ireul and Joan- I wonder."]
[02:25] * Raphael frowned at the table, although tired as he was it made him look more confused than upset.
[02:25] <Yanmei> "Ugh. No." said Yanmei flatly. "Let's -not- wonder."
[02:26] <AdEvaGM> ["… I beg your pardon?"]
[02:27] <Sept> "What if the absence of Ireul triggered the natural reincorporization process?" Sera said, cleanly cutting past the interjection. "It's very uncommon for it to occur that way, but."
[02:30] <AdEvaGM> ["Possible." Said Surov. "But as you say, very uncommon."-
[02:34] <AdEvaGM> ["There are other factors involved. We don't know how the process affected her memories or personality- but she has been strongly physically altered." Said Surov. "Instead of being an 11-year-old child, she appears to be closer to 16 or 17, and she possesses phenotypical traits normally possessed by Ayanami Roku- one of her eyes is red, for example, and she has natural streaks of burgundy
[02:34] <AdEvaGM> hair. Physically, too, she has traits one would expect from an Ayanami- she's very healthy and I suspect will be physically impressive in strength, speed and endurance."-
[02:35] <AdEvaGM> ["However… I've never heard of something like this happening before." Said Surov. "Such a fusion between the core identity and the vestigial identity forced onto it is- new."]
[02:38] <Sept> "Guillory's influence, with his AT field or otherwise…?"
[02:38] * Raphael scowled, but it was directed at the table instead of Sept.
[02:39] <AdEvaGM> ["That would only reinforce the core identity." Said Surov.]
[02:39] <Raphael> "I assumed it was just a side-effect of whatever they did to her soul to make her June…" Raphael muttered.
[02:40] <AdEvaGM> ["I would too, but that element was removed and restored to Roku before dissolution." Said Surov.]
[02:40] <Sept> "Ah," Sera nodded, turning back to Yanmei as if to signify his dropping that line of thought.
[02:41] * Raphael just sighed and nodded, clearly out of his depth.
[02:42] * Yanmei rubbed her forehead. "I don't think I have any alternative ideas. We could interview everyone involved in the attempt and ask if they noticed anything odd, but…"
[02:43] <AdEvaGM> [Tsubaki had at some point whipped out a manga book from her bag and was supposedly reading it, although anyone could tell that it was upside down.-
[02:43] <AdEvaGM> ["Mm. I will investigate."-
[02:45] <AdEvaGM> ["… One last point." Said Surov. He turned to Raphael. "Guillory, it is probably too early to begin making arrangements for your sister's safekeeping. But Technical and I have offered certain points of assistance."]
[02:48] * Raphael seemed rather caught off guard by the idea. "You have?"
[02:49] <AdEvaGM> [Surov nodded.-
[02:51] <AdEvaGM> ["You probably don't need us to tell you this, but we figured it was worth suggesting exposing her to the Ayanami sisters." Said Ritsuko. "Their experience in traversing the gap between child to adult will prove invaluable."-
[02:52] <AdEvaGM> ["I am also placing my own services at your disposal, and I am sure Sarasvati will as well." Said Surov.-
[02:52] <AdEvaGM> ["… Furthermore, we are also willing to make adaptations to your form a top priority." Said Surov. "We believe it would help the transition process if your sister weren't forced to believe that her brother had become Japanese."]
[02:54] * Sept pretended the smile was caused by Tsubaki's reading habits and not Surov. He poked at the side of the book, miming a circular motion for Tsubaki.
[02:55] <AdEvaGM> [Tsubaki dutifully followered his motion with her head, causing it to mostly waggle clock-wise.]
[02:58] <Raphael> The pause that followed could be blamed on stress and exhaustion. At worst it was a useful excuse. "… Oh. Uh. Thank you very much, Surov. I think all of that would be helpful."
[02:59] <AdEvaGM> ["Also, Maya will volunteer to help mind Suzanne." Said Ritsuko.]
[03:00] <Raphael> For a split-second he actually managed to smile. "Thank you. I think she'd like that…"
[03:01] <AdEvaGM> [Ritsuko nodded.-
[03:01] <AdEvaGM> ["The Riels have also volunteered to provide special educational materials to help catch her up with the Post-Impact Century." Said Surov.]
[03:04] * Raphael opened his mouth to reply before settling for a nod. He ended with his head bowed, which served to disguise the way he was blinking a little too quickly.
[03:05] * Sept had given up with Tsubaki, in the meantime, giving her a pat on the head and returning his attention to the matters discussed.
[03:05] <Yanmei> Yanmei's expression took on a vaguely suspicious look at that announcement, but she stayed quiet.
[03:07] <AdEvaGM> [Misato leaned in- she wrapped an arm around Raphael's waist and rested her head on his shoulder.-
[03:08] <AdEvaGM> ["That's all from your Technical department, Chancellor." Said Surov. "Do we have any other items on the agenda?"]
[03:11] <Yanmei> "No. Not today. If no one else has any points they'd like to bring up, we'll adjourn."
[03:12] <AdEvaGM> [There was a chime over the comm systems. ("Ops to Chancellor Zhang.") Came Archibald's voice.]
[03:13] * Raphael was silent, resting his head on Misato's without worrying about their audience.
[03:13] * Yanmei answered. "Zhang here. Go ahead?"
[03:15] <AdEvaGM> [("Ma'am, Prefect Han's permitted Chinese police officers to arrest a fugitive in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. Ambassador Chenkov's demanding instant arbitration from you.")]
[03:16] <Sept> "Tsucchin, you hungry?"
[03:17] <AdEvaGM> ["Uh-huh. I want curry. And milkshakes."]
[03:18] * ZackSleep is now known as Zack
[03:19] <Yanmei> "I. See." She face went taunt. "I'll be there in a moment. Zhang out." Yanmei disconnected and stood up, rubbing the back of her neck. "Everyone go home. Surov. Guillory." She nodded in their directions and turned, hurrying for the door.
[03:20] * Sept was already going, Tsubaki in tow. "Cafe, Blue's or home-cooked?"
[03:21] <AdEvaGM> ["Blue's! I wanna see the cute man again."]
[03:21] <Sept> "The..?"
[03:23] <AdEvaGM> ["Cute man!"-
[03:23] <AdEvaGM> [The rest of the table were leaving as well.-
[03:23] <AdEvaGM> [Surov got to his feet. "Admiral. General." He said, turning to Raphael. He gave them both a firm nod.-
[03:24] <AdEvaGM> [With that, he walked out, followed by Ginevre.-
[03:24] <AdEvaGM> ["She means Yanmei's cousin, Sera." Said Ritsuko with a sigh. "He said a nice thing to her and she nearly had a nosebleed…"-
[03:24] <AdEvaGM> [Ritsuko nonetheless stopped by Raphael as she went. She hesitated for a moment- then threw her arms quickly around Misato and Raphael both. "Hang in there, huh?"-
[03:24] <AdEvaGM> [A second later she too was gone.]
[03:29] <Raphael> Raphael managed to hold himself together until the doors finally closed. Only then did the tears finally start.

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