This Too Shall Pass 3 4 7

[23:26] <Raphael> The transition from childhood to adulthood was, when you truly stopped to look at it, a marvel of engineering. As tumultuous as it could be to dance along a razor's edge of physiological, psychological and sociological changes, most managed to survive the transition to a body drastically different from the one they began with.-
[23:27] <Raphael> … this process was complicated in the case of those unfortunate enough to be unceremoniously dumped into a new body in the space of a day. Luckily Raphael had some experience with the process.-
[23:27] <Raphael> Regardless, it served to explain why it was nearly an hour later than normal by the time Raphael had finished his morning routine and emerged into the living space of the room he shared with Suzie. There were a handful of bloody nicks along his jaw line, but otherwise he seemed to look truly like his old self for the first time since his surgery. His hair was neatly combed and parted, and he looked clean, collected and - most of all - comfortable.
[23:34] <@Minaplo> [Suzie, meanwhile, was standing on a machine that seemed to be made up primarily of pedals, bars and poles. She had a sheen of sweat on her face as she gripped tightly onto one pole above her head, then carefully lifted one leg up until her knee touched her chest.-
[23:35] <@Minaplo> [Then the leg was lowered, and it was time to start on the new one.-
[23:36] <@Minaplo> [As Raphael came out, she relaxed with a sigh of relief and turned to look at him.-
[23:37] <@Minaplo> ["Wow." She said, letting out a breath. "You look good, Raffy!"-
[23:38] <@Minaplo> ["… You probably shoulda sharped your razor on something other than your face though." She added casually.]
[23:44] <Raphael> "You were hoping I cut myself just so you could use that one, hmm?" He smiled as he pulled a chair over to sit down opposite her exercise machine.
[23:45] <@Minaplo> ["Heehee."-
[23:45] <@Minaplo> [She stared at him, her face bright and open, her eyes wide as she took him in.-
[23:47] <@Minaplo> [The day before had seen Raphael return home really rather late, after Suzie's bed time. Suzie, however, had managed to trick Maya into playing a video game adaptation of one of her favourite animes… Then had craftily parlayed it into Maya playing some of her own recommendations. So Raphael had come home to a wide awake Suzie and a shame-faced looking Maya.-
[23:48] <@Minaplo> [Suzie had been delighted to see Raphael back. She'd stumbled as best as she could over to him and grabbed onto his hands… Where she'd felt his missing finger.-
[23:48] <@Minaplo> [There had been some tears.-
[23:48] <@Minaplo> [But she had hugged him ever tighter.-
[00:00] <@Minaplo> ["You going out today, Raffy?"]
[00:04] <Raphael> "Mhmm. I need to check in on Blue's for a start. There hasn't been quite as much time to keep an eye on things as I expected…"
[00:06] <@Minaplo> ["Can I come with?"]
[00:08] <Raphael> "Of course," he beamed. "I'll leave you to make sure Yanmei's cousin's staying in line?"
[00:12] <@Minaplo> ["Uh-huh." Said Suzie. "I'll make him work three times as hard."]
[00:14] <Raphael> "Attagirl." He gestured at the machine. "You're really making headway with your exercises."
[00:16] <@Minaplo> ["Thanks." Said Suzie. "It's really hard, though… But I can feel myself getting strong." She said with a little grin. "I was able to walk for five minutes last night."]
[00:19] <Raphael> "You're a tough one, you know that? I've seen soliders struggle with this sort of thing." He favoured her with a proud, paternal smile.-
[00:19] <Raphael> "… you might even get Lucas to use his prosthetics a bit more. He said you were making him look bad."
[00:22] <@Minaplo> ["Good." Said Suzie firmly. "Emma lets him get away with it, that's why…"]
[00:28] <Raphael> "He has his reasons. I think it'd be good for him, though."
[00:31] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah."-
[00:31] <@Minaplo> ["Hey, Raffy?"]
[00:32] <Raphael> "Uh huh?"
[00:33] <@Minaplo> ["When's Sara coming back…?"]
[00:35] <Raphael> "…" Raphael gave the floor a hard look for a moment before he could make eye contact again. "We… don't know, sweetheart. Surov says she's getting better, but she was very badly hurt…"
[00:36] <@Minaplo> [Suzie frowned deep, her thin eyebrows drawing tightly together. "Can we see her?"]
[00:37] <Raphael> "We can ask. I don't see Surov having a problem with it, but she's not here on the ship right now."
[00:38] <@Minaplo> ["Where is she?"]
[00:39] <Raphael> "Back at the Geofront. She has a room of her own there with some special equipment to help her rest."
[00:40] <@Minaplo> ["Hrrrm."]
[00:46] * Raphael gave her a sympathetic look. "She's your friend, hon. If you need to see her we'll find you a way to see her. I'm sure Navah wants to go anyway…"
[00:47] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah…" Suzie sighed- then scowled and began vindictively exercising her leg muscles again. "Nope mope." She muttered.]
[00:51] * Raphael watched her quietly for a while, his expression a little more muted since the change in topic. "… It's been a strange week, hasn't it?"
[14:04] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." Said Suzie slowly. "It's weird, but I feel like something's gonna happen…"]
[14:05] <Raphael> "More than what's happened already?"
[14:06] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. Like, lots has happened, but…"-
[14:08] <Minaplo> ["Blue's gone, Sara's hurt, you changed back, and you said Surov was nice to you." Said Suzie. "It feels like lots of things are changing. I dunno if that's all that's gonna change, I guess…?"]
[14:09] <Raphael> "Hm."-
[14:10] <Raphael> "… I think you're probably right. It's frightening when you don't know when that change will be good or bad, huh?"
[14:10] <Minaplo> ["Yeah."-
[14:11] <Minaplo> ["You were scared, weren't you?" Said Suzie. "When they were changing you."]
[14:13] * Raphael nodded a little, watching her with the sharp, bright eyes. "I was."
[14:14] <Minaplo> ["I was too."]
[14:14] <Raphael> "Yeah?"
[14:17] <Minaplo> ["I asked what was different this time, and Ezekiel just said 'he was there' and didn't really say how that helped and I wasn't sure." She said with a frown. "Since Aline turned you into her boyfriend, I thought… What if Tsubaki turned you into her big sister? Or Sera de Pteres?"-
[14:17] <Minaplo> ["Or if it didn't work and you turned into a slug or something…" She sighed.]
[14:19] * Raphael made a face, though it wasn't entirely clear which part of it he had reacted to. Still, he leaned a little closer.-
[14:19] <Raphael> "Do you want to hear a secret?"
[14:20] <Minaplo> ["Sure."]
[14:21] <Raphael> "I had a dream the night before that I was turned into…" He paused, gesturing as if trying to find the shape of it. "Just a foot. With an eye coming out of it on a stalk."
[14:24] <Minaplo> ["…"]
[14:25] <Raphael> "Still better than Sera, I think." He smirked.
[14:26] <Minaplo> ["Ohhhhhhhh." She giggled.]
[14:27] * Raphael laughed along with her. "Don't repeat that one, ok?"-
[14:28] <Raphael> "What I'm trying to say is that I think it was… sensible to be worried, given everything that happened."
[14:28] <Minaplo> ["Okay." Said Suzie, nodding firmly.-
[14:29] <Minaplo> ["… If you were a foot, would socks be your underwear?"]
[14:32] <Raphael> "… that's a good question." Was it? Was it really?-
[14:32] <Raphael> "It'd be more like a body stocking, I'd think…"
[14:33] <Minaplo> ["… So for underwear, a foot would wear a thong?"]
[14:33] <Raphael> "That's a bad joke."
[14:34] <Minaplo> [Suzie preened. "They call them that in Australia. Terry told me."-
[14:34] <Minaplo> ["Australians have dumb names."]
[14:34] <Raphael> "They do, little one," Raphael said solemnly.
[14:36] <Minaplo> [Suzie smirked; then she finally, with a gasp of relief, let her legs and posture slacken.-
[14:36] <Minaplo> ["Think I'm done for today." She said, flopping down. "Wanna go?"]
[14:39] * Raphael stood up and planted a kiss on her forehead before ruffling her hair. "If you're ready. Sure you wouldn't like to take a shower first?"
[14:40] <Minaplo> ["Hrm. Guess I should."]
[14:42] <Raphael> "Mhmm. I'll make a few phone calls while you get ready, alright?"
[14:45] <Minaplo> ["Okay."-
[14:45] <Minaplo> […-
[14:46] <Minaplo> [Suzie had the joystick of her electric wheelchair locked firmly in the forward position, setting a real clip of a pace for Raphael to match.-
[14:47] <Minaplo> [She'd taken the opportunity to change, too; she was now sporting a pair of jeans and a pink t-shirt featuring a beaming cartoon Rei and a scowling cartoon Ni.-
[14:47] <Minaplo> ["Raffy?"]
[14:50] <Raphael> Raphael had considered asking her to slow down, but at best it was an opportunity to test his longer stride and at worst it was good exercise.-
[14:50] <Raphael> Besides, he knew he would just be letting her win.-
[14:50] <Raphael> "Mmm?"
[14:51] <Minaplo> ["So… Your little sister's still asleep, huh?"]
[14:54] <Raphael> His stride faltered, but only for a split second. He kept his eyes ahead. "… She is."
[14:56] <Minaplo> ["… Is it okay to talk about her, Raffy?"]
[15:03] <Raphael> Raphael sighed.-
[15:03] <Raphael> "Sorry," he murmured, glancing over at her. "It is. You never need to worry about asking me questions, ok? It's just that I'm…" He trailed off uncertainly.
[15:05] <Minaplo> ["Worried?"]
[15:09] <Raphael> "Worried's part of it." He nodded. "And scared."-
[15:09] <Raphael> "That just makes helping you even more important, though." He gave her shoulder a quick squeeze.
[15:10] <Minaplo> [Suzie gently rested her head on his arm for a second.-
[15:11] <Minaplo> ["What's gonna happen to her?"]
[15:12] <Raphael> "We're not quite sure yet. We're going to look after her as best we can, to try and help her get used to things…"-
[15:12] <Raphael> "But there's a lot we still don't know."
[15:14] <Minaplo> ["Okay… What's she like?"]
[15:26] * Raphael smiled a little, but he was staring at the floor ahead. "She was just-… is just one of the gentlest people I've ever known. She's tough, though," he chuckled to himself, "She had a way of holding the four of us together, and making sure we never got too lost in our own problems. Even though she was the littlest…"
[15:05] <Minaplo> ["That doesn't sound too bad…"]
[15:07] <Raphael> "No. Not at all…"
[15:18] <Minaplo> ["What'd she do for fun, though?"]
[15:51] <Raphael> "…"-
[15:52] <Raphael> "The town we lived in was built on a hill running down to the sea," he said quietly. "The school was near the bottom, so every day the four of us would walk home together. Except one day…"-
[15:52] <Raphael> "She would have been about ten. Lucas and Marie were ahead of us - bickering, like they always were - and Caitlin started tugging on my hand and gesturing," he raised a finger up to his lip, imitating the memory, "Like she had a secret for me."-
[15:53] <Raphael> "… It turned out she'd found a place off the side of the track, up the side of a little rock face just past the trees. If you climbed it right, it led you to a little… shelf. A tiny thing, just big enough for two people to perch on. You had to dangle your legs off the edge, but if you got up there you could see everything. You were just high enough above the main square for the town to look small without the detail disappearing."-
[15:53] <Raphael> "I have no idea how she found it. She never said anything about it. We sat there quietly for a while, and then she took out a sketchbook and started to draw."-
[15:53] <Raphael> "That first day she sketched the whole town, but the next time we went she spotted an ice-cream truck by a fountain and she drew that instead. Always little details, little stories I wouldn't have noticed. We did it once or twice a week for nearly a year. We never told the others where we went. It was our time."-
[15:54] <Raphael> "She was still little. Her drawings weren't perfect but she was smart, and she watched everything. You could never slip anything past her, and she was always seemed to know something about everything; She'd come out with facts about animals, or books or places. Even when we were kids I knew she was going to be brighter than me."
[16:06] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[16:07] <Minaplo> ["That sounds really nice." Said Suzie quietly. "I think I'm gonna get along with her."]
[16:13] * Raphael nodded fervently, brushing a hand quickly along his face as if to straighten his fringe. "Yeah, sweetheart. I think so too."
[16:16] <Minaplo> [Raphael's military comm suddenly buzzed.]
[16:19] * Raphael had to take a deep breath before he answered, but when he did his voice was steady. "Hello?"
[16:21] <Minaplo> [("Sir Guillory, this is Dr. Tenma. Caitlin is starting to wake up.")]
[16:25] * Raphael swallowed hard. "… I'll be there right away."
[16:26] <Minaplo> ["Do you want me to go on alone?" Asked Suzie.]
[16:30] * Raphael had to exchange a few more words with Tenma before he could hang up the phone and turn his attention to Suzie. There was no hiding just how scared he felt. "Can you get to Blue's? I'll send Lietenant Ibuki to you."
[16:32] <Minaplo> ["Okay."-
[16:32] <Minaplo> [She reached out and firmly grabbed his hand. "It'll be okay, Raffy."]
[16:33] * Raphael stared at the hand for a split second before leaning down to gather her up in a tight hug.
[16:34] <Minaplo> [She squeezed him tightly, as tightly as her little arms allowed. "Love you."]
[16:35] <Raphael> "Love you too, kiddo."-
[16:37] <Raphael> And then he was off - at a fast walk at first before he seemed to give up on appearances and moved to an outright run.
[16:39] <Minaplo> […-
[16:43] <Minaplo> [Tenma and Ignatenko were already there, outside the room. "She's stirring, but hasn't fully woken yet." Said Tenma as Raphael arrived.]
[16:45] <Raphael> "What's the process here?" There was a sheen of sweat on Raphael's face that he paid no mind to as he shifted restlessly on the balls of his feet.
[16:47] <Minaplo> ["Optimally, you'll be inside to greet her whilst Technical arrives to provide support in case anything unusual happens. We also have security forces on hand as well. I've already called Technical; Surov should be here soon."]
[17:04] * Raphael nodded, looking towards the door. "Is there anything I need to be careful of, physically or psychologically?"
[17:09] <Minaplo> ["She's likely to not recognise you at first, and she's just as likely to find her new body strange and unusual." Said Tenma. "She's likely to be quite strong too if it comes to it. Generally, avoid overloading her with too much Post-Impact knowledge all at once."]
[17:12] <Raphael> "I think I can handle that." He took a deep breath and squared his shoulders.-
[17:12] <Raphael> "… I should go."
[17:15] <Minaplo> ["Good luck."]
[17:29] <Raphael> Raphael nodded and stepped through the door.
[17:35] <Minaplo> [Caitlin lay on the bed.-
[17:36] <Minaplo> [The last time Raphael had seen her in here, she'd been completely still apart from her breathing; but now she tossed and turned, a light sheen of sweat on her face.]
[17:46] * Raphael was quiet as he entered. He could hear Caitlin's laboured breathing even over the hiss and beep of the machines that monitored her. There was a chair alongside her bed, but he didn't use it yet; Instead he dampened a rag with the aid of a jug of water and set to wiping some of the sweat away from her forehead.
[17:54] <Minaplo> ["Nnngh…"-
[17:57] <Minaplo> [Her eyes began to flutter.]
[18:02] * Raphael stayed quiet to let her wake in her own time, leaving the rag on her forehead as he sat down in the chair. He folded his hands on the bedside next to one of her own, almost but not quite touching…
[18:06] <Minaplo> ["Mmmf…"-
[18:07] <Minaplo> [She went still for a moment-
[18:07] <Minaplo> [… Then her eyes opened.-
[18:07] <Minaplo> [Gentle eyes, one amber like Raphael's, the other a right red like Rei's- or like Roku's.-
[18:08] <Minaplo> [She blinked several times. Her eyes closed…-
[18:08] <Minaplo> [Then she grumbled a little and opened them again, turning towards Raphael.-
[18:09] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[18:09] <Minaplo> [Her brow furrowed. "Huh…?"]
[18:21] <Raphael> "…" Raphael swallowed, and raised his hands placatingly.-
[18:22] <Raphael> "It's ok. You're safe, take your time."
[18:25] <Minaplo> ["W… Who are you?" She muttered uncertainly, eyeing his face.-
[18:25] <Minaplo> ["… Raffy…?" She said after a few seconds, her tone hesitant and doubtful.]
[18:32] <Raphael> For a moment he could only nod, not quite trusting his voice. "… I-it's me."
[18:33] <Minaplo> ["R…"-
[18:34] <Minaplo> ["W-Why do you look so old?"]
[18:39] <Raphael> "…" He blinked quickly, but he didn't look away. "… You've been away for a while, kiddo."
[19:05] <Minaplo> ["Away…?"-
[19:06] <Minaplo> ["What d-"-
[19:06] <Minaplo> [She suddenly froze.-
[19:06] <Minaplo> ["My voice." She whispered. Her eyes widened.]
[19:22] * Raphael took her hand with a great deal of care. His eyes remained locked on hers, trying to project calm. "I'll try to explain, but first I need you to take a deep breath, ok?"
[19:25] <Minaplo> ["… Uh-huh."-
[19:25] <Minaplo> [She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.-
[19:25] <Minaplo> ["… My body feels-" She stopped herself, opened her eyes and stared at Raphael. "S-Sorry…"]
[19:32] <Raphael> "It's ok, Caity." He rubbed her hand gently.-
[19:32] <Raphael> "Can you… tell me the last thing you remember?"
[19:54] <Minaplo> ["Uhm…"-
[19:54] <Minaplo> ["A tent. It was wet and damp. I felt hot and cold."]
[20:12] <Raphael> "You were very, very sick. It meant you weren't with us for a while," He said gently. "The doctors think you're going to be ok now, though."
[20:13] <Minaplo> ["Oh."-
[20:14] <Minaplo> ["I feel okay…" She said slowly. "A little weird, though. My body feels odd."-
[20:14] <Minaplo> ["Is that why?"]
[20:23] <Raphael> "That's… part of it." He finally broke eye contact for a moment, looking at the bed he was leaning against. "You're a bit older now, and the doctors needed to do a bit of work to get you better. There are some people on their way who might be able to help with that."
[20:24] <Minaplo> ["Oh. Well…"-
[20:24] <Minaplo> [Caitlin sighed. "How much older?"]
[20:29] <Raphael> "…"-
[20:30] <Raphael> He forced himself to meet her eye again. "It's been seventeen years since you became sick."
[20:30] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[20:30] <Minaplo> [Caitlin paused for a second, then-
[20:30] <Minaplo> ["I'm 27?!"]
[20:31] <Minaplo> <28*>
[20:53] <Raphael> The urge to look away long enough to shoot a panicked glance at the door was strong, but he fought it. Even so, he was visibly rattled; the calm facade had begun to collapse.-
[20:53] <Raphael> "N-not quite. You're-" He paused and tried to rally his own strength, his grip around her hand tightening. "… Do you trust me, little one?"
[20:54] <Minaplo> [Caitlin placed her free hand on Raphael's own immediately and squeezed it. Her grip was easily as firm as his own. "Of course, Raffy!"]
[21:11] <Raphael> Strangely this only seemed to make him more distressed. "… Ok."-
[21:11] <Raphael> And all at once he seemed to break. The calm collapsed completely as he bundled his sister up in a tight hug. "I missed you so much."
[21:13] <Minaplo> ["R-Raffy!"-
[21:13] <Minaplo> [She put her arms around him and squeezed tightly. "I-It's okay, Raffy… I'm here now!"]
[21:17] <Raphael> Raphael didn't let go. He hadn't started to cry openly, but his shoulders seemed to be trembling with the effort of restraining it. "I'm sorry-… I shouldn't be-…"
[21:18] <Minaplo> [There was a knock at the door.]
[21:21] <Raphael> Raphael ignored it for a long moment before he finally pulled away. He ran the back of his knuckles across his eyes, looking oddly shamefaced. "… Those'll be your doctors. Should I…?"
[21:23] <Minaplo> ["I… Sure."]
[21:26] * Raphael nodded weakly. "Come in."
[21:29] <Minaplo> [The door opened; in came Doctor Delgado, along with Dr. Tenma and James.-
[21:30] <Minaplo> ["Hello, Raphael." Said Delgado, giving both him and Caitlin a warm smile. "And good morning to you, too."-
[21:30] <Minaplo> ["Uh, hello…"]
[19:38] <Raphael> Raphael seemed to have gathered just enough energy to raise his head to meet the eyes of the arriving doctors, which only served to reveal just how red his eyes were. He still held on to Caitlin's hand.-
[19:38] <Raphael> "Caity, these are some of the people that've been helping you. Doctor Tenma, Doctor Delgado and James Riel," he said, pointing each one out as he went. "They're here to help with whatever you need, alright?"
[19:39] <Mianplo> ["Okay." Said Caitlin slowly. "I'm not still sick, am I?"-
[19:40] <Mianplo> ["Not at all." Said Tenma with a smile. "You're perfectly fine."-
[19:40] <Mianplo> ["Oh." Said Caitlin, frowning a little down at her lap.-
[19:42] <Mianplo> [Delgado placed his hand firmly on Raphael's shoulder. "What do you need, Caitlin?"-
[19:43] <Mianplo> ["Uh… W-Well. I'm really confused." Said Caitlin. "I-I don't know what's really going on, and this is so confusing, and Raffy says I'm 28 now…! Where's the rest of my family?"]
[19:45] * Raphael cringed, carefully keeping his attention away from Delgado. "Lucas will be here any minute now, I'm sure. I was just a little closer when I got the news." He glanced at Tenma to seek confirmation.
[19:48] <Mianplo> ["And… Mama and papa?"]
[20:01] <Raphael> Raphael's face grew a few shades paler, and this time he did glance at Delgado.-
[20:01] <Raphael> "Caitlin-" He swallowed. "Mum, Dad and Marie… we lost them during the floods. You don't-… do you remember?"
[20:02] <Mianplo> ["Sometimes they find people after floods." She said in a small squeak of a voice. Her head sank against her chest.]
[20:07] <Raphael> Raphael's mouth opened to try and form some sort of response, but for a long time he simply couldn't find anything to say. "… I'm sorry."
[20:27] <Mianplo> ["… It's alright." She said with a tremble in her voice. Caitlin lifted Raphael's hand up to her cheek for a second and held it there.-
[20:27] <Mianplo> [Her eyes filled with tears- but only for a few seconds.]
[20:33] <Raphael> "No. It's not." He murmured. "It might be someday, but for now…"-
[20:33] <Raphael> He shook his head and looked at Delgado. "What answers can we give her?"
[20:35] <Mianplo> ["I'm sure we could answer almost any question you give us, Caitlin." Said Delgado.-
[20:35] <Mianplo> ["I… I don't even know where to start."-
[20:37] <Mianplo> ["… I wonder if it'd help if Raphael explained a little about what's happened since your last memories." Said Delgado. He turned to Raphael. "We shouldn't rush things, of course, but a brief overview of the Angels and how the world's changed might not be amiss."]
[20:43] <Raphael> "… Ok." He nodded with a little more strength this time.-
[20:43] <Raphael> "Some of this might seem strange, so you can stop me any time you have questions, alright?" He said, wiping a few errant tears away from Caitlin's cheek with a thumb.
[20:44] <Mianplo> ["Uh-Uh huh."]
[20:51] <Raphael> "The first thing you should know is that the earthquakes and disasters that happened all over the world because of an explosion that destroyed Antarctica," he said. "There was a lot of chaos and war as people tried to recover."-
[20:51] <Raphael> "Eventually the United Nations managed to ease some of the fighting, but there's a lot of places like Australia that are still very badly damaged."
[20:52] <Mianplo> ["And that's what made it flood at home?"]
[21:05] <Raphael> "The truth is that…" He frowned and considered his words. "This is one of those strange things I mentioned, but some scientists had found an… alien in Antarctica, and they accidentally woke it up. That's what caused the explosion and the disasters."
[21:08] <Mianplo> ["…… What?"-
[21:09] <Mianplo> [Her eyes darted around the room from Raphael's face to Delgado's to Tenma's to James.-
[21:09] <Mianplo> [Their expressions were solemn.-
[21:09] <Mianplo> ["… An alien?"]
[21:12] <Raphael> "I know it's a lot to take in, but I promise it's the truth." He gave her a humourless smile. "In fact, for a long time the story seemed so unbelievable that people were told it had all been caused by a meteor."
[21:25] <Mianplo> ["… An alien…"-
[21:25] <Mianplo> ["So it caused everything. Why?"]
[21:36] <Raphael> "Well, the first one - which we call Adam - seems to have just not appreciated the scientists investigating it," Raphael said. "That might have been the end of it, but the explosion scattered its children across the world where they were left to grow. Most people didn't know that until they began to attack us in 2015. For reasons nobody's ever been able to explain to me we decided to call them Angels."
[21:42] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[21:43] <Minaplo> ["S-So… We're under attack by aliens called Angels?"]
[21:46] <Raphael> "We were," he said, in a voice he hoped was soothing. "A few weeks ago we defeated the last of the ones that meant us harm."
[22:16] <Mianplo> ["And… It's been…"-
[22:17] <Mianplo> ["Two or three years since they started, right?"]
[22:18] <Raphael> "About three, right."
[22:19] <Mianplo> ["I'm glad you're okay then…"]
[22:31] * Raphael caught her up in another hug. "Me too, kiddo."-
[22:31] <Raphael> "There's been good things, too," he said quickly. "The sort of things you used to talk about from your books, like robots and ships that can fly…"
[22:33] <Mianplo> ["Really…?!" She said, her eyes widening.]
[22:34] <Raphael> The surprise prompted a real smile from Raphael for the first time since he'd entered. "Really. We're on one of those ships right now."
[22:36] <Mianplo> ["… No way."]
[22:37] <Raphael> "And…" He paused for effect, as if ready to produce a magic trick, "James, would you mind showing Caity your arm?"
[22:38] <Mianplo> [James dutifully held out his… Perfectly fine right arm.-
[22:38] <Mianplo> ["Your other arm, you idiot." Said Tenma.-
[22:38] <Mianplo> ["Oh, right."-
[22:38] <Mianplo> [With a grin, James held out his left- pulling back the sleeve as he did so to reveal more of the shiny surovite arm, right up to the joint elbow.-
[22:39] <Mianplo> [Caitlin's eyes went dinnerplate-wide. "He has a robot arm!" She squeaked.]
[22:43] * Raphael shot James a deeply grateful look out of sight of Caitlin, and his smile hadn't dimmed. "He does. They're not very common yet, but this sort of thing could help a lot of people…"
[22:50] <Mianplo> ["In the time you've been away, we've learned how to give sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf." Said Tenma. "We've been able to make robotic arms, robotic legs, even build human organs out of scratch. We've even learned how to cure cancer."-
[22:53] <Mianplo> ["Have you ever wanted to go into space?" Asked James.-
[22:53] <Mianplo> ["… Who hasn't?"-
[22:54] <Mianplo> ["Well." James grinned. "Not only is space travel easy, we've already put men on Mars and we might even have colonies on it by 2030."-
[22:54] <Mianplo> ["Oh my god." Murmured Caitlin breathlessly. "I've woken up in the future…"]
[22:58] * Raphael actually let out a laugh. "Oh, just you wait. There's a lot to show you."
[22:59] <Mianplo> ["All this and your brother hasn't even told you what he does for a living." Said James.-
[22:59] <Mianplo> ["…?" Caitlin eyed Raphael questioningly.]
[23:06] * Raphael rubbed his neck. "The Angels were big creatures, and things like tanks and bombs didn't do much to hurt them. We developed other ways of fighting them instead, including building giant robots on the same scale…"
[23:09] <Mianplo> ["…" Her eyes narrowed. "You…?"]
[23:10] <Raphael> "… well, the robots needed pilots."
[23:10] <Mianplo> ["… No way…!"]
[23:16] <Raphael> "Way." The smile was back in force. "We have bigger devices called Evangelions that were the real protection from Angels, but I was one of the first people to pilot what we call a Superheavy. They're more like the normal robots you might be imagining."
[23:18] <Mianplo> ["So you fought them in your robot?!"]
[23:19] * Raphael nodded. "A few times."
[23:19] <Mianplo> ["T-That's crazy…"]
[23:21] <Raphael> "It was pretty crazy, but we managed to get through it."
[23:23] <Mianplo> [Caitlin let out a short, low huff of disbelief. For a moment she was content to stare down at her hands, her eyes wide; she quietly mouthed a series of terms to herself.-
[23:23] <Mianplo> ["You said we're… On a flying ship?"]
[23:25] <Raphael> "Mhmm. It's called the Dorian Lachapelle, or sometimes just the Dorian. We named it for one of the Generals who helped save Paris from an Angel attack."
[23:26] <Mianplo> ["The Dorian." She said to herself. "W-Where are we now?"-
[23:26] <Mianplo> ["We're over Paris now." Said James.-
[23:26] <Mianplo> ["…"-
[23:27] <Mianplo> ["I wanna see." She said suddenly, turning to Raphael. "Can I see?"]
[23:28] * Raphael didn't respond immediately, instead turning towards the doctors for assistance.
[23:29] <Mianplo> [Delgado and Tenma looked at each other for a few seconds.-
[23:29] <Mianplo> ["I… Don't see why not." Said Tenma. "You're not hurt in any way."-
[23:29] <Mianplo> ["Mmm, agreed. It might help put things into perspective." Said Delgado. "James, why don't you go ask Ignatenko for a set of one-size civilian clothing?"-
[23:30] <Mianplo> ["Uh, sure."-
[23:30] <Mianplo> [James scampered off.]
[23:33] * Raphael , meanwhile, had turned his attention back to Caitlin. "You're sure you feel well enough…? You only just woke up."
[23:34] <Mianplo> ["I don't feel dizzy or anything…" Said Caitlin.]
[23:37] <Raphael> "Hmm." He was quiet a moment as he peered at her closely, only to finally nod. "There's a lot we haven't had a chance to talk about yet, but you can ask me questions as we go. I'll text Lucas and have him meet us on the deck, ok?"
[23:37] <Mianplo> ["Okay."-
[23:38] <Mianplo> [James returned a minute later bearing a bundle of simple, plain white clothes. "Here you go."-
[23:41] <Mianplo> ["We'll just be outside." Said Delgado.-
[23:41] <Mianplo> [With that, Tenma, James and Delgado began filing out.]
[23:44] * Raphael stood up as well. "Just call through the door if you need anything, alright? Take whatever time you need."
[23:44] <Mianplo> ["Okay."]
[23:44] <Raphael> With that Raphael left as well.
[23:46] <Mianplo> [Once Raphael had closed the door behind him, Delgado clapped him on the shoulder. "How are you feeling, Raphael?"]
[23:51] * Raphael let out a shaky breath and his shoulders sagged a little under Delgado's hand. "I'm trying to take this for what it is instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's… not quite working."-
[23:53] <Raphael> "I don't want Mary to poison this, but I have to expect it…" He muttered.
[23:54] <Mianplo> ["What makes you think there's a shoe waiting in the wings?"]
[23:57] <Raphael> "Every single move Caine has made in the past."
[23:57] <Mianplo> ["Granted, but have you considered that shoe's already dropped?" Said Delgado.]
[23:58] <Raphael> "… yes," he admitted, looking at his shoes.
[23:59] <Mianplo> [Delgado squeezed Raphael's shoulder tightly.-
[00:00] <Mianplo> ["Forgive me for being so forward, but may I offer my own interpretation of things?"]
[00:00] <Raphael> "Please."
[00:02] <Mianplo> ["Von Brandt would, I think, anticipate a response of this nature from you." Said Delgado. "He's a twisted master of using a man's own troubles against himself with the lightest of suggestions. I think von Brandt would find the idea of you voluntarily punishing yourself like this, waiting for the catastrophe, no doubt damaging your relationship with your sister, far more damaging than any
[00:02] <Mianplo> scheme he could possibly craft."]
[00:05] * Raphael gave the doctor a wan smile. "So I'm so reliable in my own self-sabotage that someone can plan for it?"
[00:09] <Mianplo> ["In my experience as a physician of the mind, my dear Raphael, I've found that nearly everyone has ways of self-sabotaging reliably."-
[00:10] <Mianplo> ["As far as character weaknesses go, it's nothing compared to the sort of person who'd use them for their own advantage."]
[00:11] * Raphael sighed and gave the doctor a nod.-
[00:12] <Raphael> "… what do I do if she asks about her appearance? The Ayanami markers won't go unnoticed out on the ship."
[00:14] <Mianplo> ["You know Caitlin better than I possibly could. What sort of answer do you think would suit her needs the most?"]
[00:18] <Raphael> "I don't know if the change in her appearance would bother her, as such. If I explained it was a side effect of her treatment she'd probably be fine…"
[00:21] <Mianplo> ["Alright. What sort of broad image are you intending to sketch for her?"]
[00:31] * Raphael considered that. "… I'd tell her that she looks a lot like she might expect of her older self, but that there are some details - her eyes, her hair - that are different, but not completely new."
[00:32] <Mianplo> ["And if she asks why, you're going to tell her it has to do with her treatment."]
[00:38] * Raphael shuffled on the balls of his feet. "Would telling her more be a problem?"
[00:40] <Mianplo> ["That's a question only you can answer fully. Will she be expecting more? Will she discover more on her own? How quickly is she liable to pick up on clues that she's missing the whole story?"]
[00:42] <Raphael> Raphael sighed. "… she'll know there's more to the story if I'm not fully truthful. That's why I ask."-
[00:42] <Raphael> "I'd like to avoid bending the truth with her, but only if the truth isn't going to be harmful to her health."
[00:45] <Mianplo> ["Perhaps what we need is more time to discover her reaction to certain other things." Said Delgado. "If she finds accepting the nature of the soul confronting, then telling her the full truth might cause real damage… Otherwise, we may be able to ease her into it."]
[00:50] <Raphael> "And is that something I should assess…?"
[00:50] <Mianplo> ["I think it's something we could probably do together." Said Delgado.]
[00:51] * Raphael nodded. "So broad answers for now."
[00:52] <Mianplo> ["Mmm."-
[00:53] <Mianplo> [The door opened slowly. "Um… I'm ready."-
[00:56] <Mianplo> [Caitlin had been given a plain white t-shirt, long trousers and a pair of simple white sneakers. She was quite tall- not as tall as Raphael, but taller than he had been as Shinji. And she looked very healthy and fit as well- slim, toned and strong looking. Her hair fell in a sheet down to her shoulders.-
[00:57] <Mianplo> ["It was so weird, getting dressed…" She said quietly. "It was- freaky. Like I wasn't even in my own body. Nothing seemed to be the way I remembered at all."]
[01:08] * Raphael gave her a sympathetic look, having stood up a little straighter as she emerged. "We're asking you to take in a lot all at once, I know. Are you ok?"
[01:09] <Mianplo> ["I think so."]
[01:10] <Raphael> "Do you still want to go?"
[01:11] <Mianplo> ["Uh-huh. I wanna see the sky."]
[01:13] <Raphael> Even with all his misgivings, that was enough to make Raphael smile. "… well, who am I to say no to that?"-
[01:14] <Raphael> "We'll see you when we return, Doctor?"
[01:14] <Mianplo> ["Of course." Said Delgado with a smile.-
[01:15] <Mianplo> […-
[01:16] <Mianplo> [The blast doors of Medical's high security wing slid open.-
[01:16] <Mianplo> [… They were barely out the door before they heard shouting.-
[01:16] <Mianplo> [("LET ME PASS-")-
[01:17] <Mianplo> [("UNLIKELY!")-
[01:17] <Mianplo> [("I AM ESCORTING A GUEST-")-
[01:17] <Mianplo> [("NO ENTRY, SLITHERFACE!")-
[01:18] <Mianplo> [Raphael would then hear a resounding crash; the entire floor shook. Caitlin squeaked and instantly took his hand.-
[01:18] <Mianplo> [… Down the end of the hall, Raphael would see a particularly unfortunate sight- his brother, sitting in his chair, flinching away from…-
[01:19] <Mianplo> [… Ban-Ban. Who had just tried to push past an Iron Guard…-
[01:20] <Mianplo> [Who had shoved him back, resulting in Ban-Ban grabbing the Guard with all four arms and slamming him head first into the nearest wall.-
[01:20] <Mianplo> ["Oh my god. Oh my god." Said Caitlin quickly; Raphael could feel her rapid breaths on the back of his neck. "W-What-"]
[01:25] * Raphael shut his eyes for a moment and counted to three. When he opened them again he was standing tall, and he turned to give Caitlin a confident, sunny smile. "You're safe, Caity. Nobody here's going to hurt you."-
[01:27] <Raphael> … which was slightly undermined by just how sharp Raphael's tone was when he turned back to address the matter at hand. "Enough."
[01:28] <Mianplo> [Ban-Ban had fallen into his predatory crouch, ready to defend himself- when Raphael spoke, he suddenly straightened up and jerked his head towards him.-
[01:28] <Mianplo> ["Oh, hello there, Uncle Raffy." Said Ban-Ban. "I'm sorry you had to see that shameful display-"-
[01:29] <Mianplo> [Caitlin grabbed Raphael's sides tight enough to actually cause pain; she jerked backwards. "Whysitspeaking?!"-
[01:30] <Mianplo> ["… Oh." Ban-Ban froze for a second; he glanced over at Lucas. "… I should be going."-
[01:31] <Mianplo> [With that, Ban-Ban hurried away; just him moving was enough for Caitlin to nearly bolt in the opposite direction. "Aaaah!"]
[01:36] * Raphael was actually wincing in pain, and by the time he'd managed to slow down Caitlin Ban-Ban was long gone. He sighed, keeping a tight hold on one of her hands.-
[01:38] <Raphael> "Caity. Listen to me." He met her eye-to-eye. "The people here are friendly, I promise. I'm not going to let anything happen to you."
[01:38] <Mianplo> ["I-I-I-"-
[01:39] <Mianplo> ["Hehadfourarms-"]
[01:41] <Raphael> "He did. And James had a robot arm, remember?" He smiled a bit. "I've known Ban-Ban for a years. Do you know who delivered the first human born on Mars?"
[01:42] <Mianplo> ["H… He's a doctor?"]
[01:45] <Raphael> "He's a nurse."
[01:45] <Mianplo> ["…"-
[01:45] <Mianplo> [Caitlin let out a strange, squeaky little huff. But her grasp slackened.-
[01:46] <Mianplo> [… Meanwhile, the Iron Guard had, with a growl, pulled its head out of the wall, shaken some of the plaster off, and had bolted after Ban-Ban. ("SLITHERFACE!")-
[01:46] <Mianplo> ["… Is that a doctor?" She whispered.]
[01:48] <Raphael> "No, that's just an idiot." He rubbed his no doubt bruised side with one hand. So much for a gentle introduction to the modern world…
[01:48] <Mianplo> ["A big idiot." She muttered. "He looked like he could lift our car."-
[01:49] <Mianplo> [The squeak of rubber reached Raphael's ears. "Hey, Raffy." Muttered Lucas. "Sorry I'm late… Would you believe I got lost? I'm bloody hopeless…"]
[01:53] * Raphael turned enough to catch sight of Lucas, a movement which also served to open a line of sight to Caitlin. "I'd believe it," he said, giving him a tired smile. "Are you alright?"
[01:55] <Mianplo> ["Yeah, I'm okay."-
[01:55] <Mianplo> ["…"-
[01:56] <Mianplo> [Caitlin stared at Lucas. "… Lucas? I-is that you?"-
[01:56] <Mianplo> [Lucas stared back. For a second, he said nothing, his mouth falling open. "…"-
[01:56] <Mianplo> ["… C… Caity?"-
[01:57] <Mianplo> [Lucas's eyes suddenly began to well up even as Caitlin moved, nearly hurling herself into Lucas's chair; she threw her arms around his neck. "Lucas-"-
[01:57] <Mianplo> [He fiercely grabbed her into a tight hug- and instantly began to sob into her shoulder.]
[02:05] * Raphael stood back in silence. Initially he watched them, wearing a hard to read expression… but after a moment he turned his attention to the floor instead.
[17:24] <Minaplo> [Caitlin remained in his arms for what seemed like minutes. The expression on her face was downcast and serious.-
[17:35] <Minaplo> [When Lucas finally released her he did it slowly, almost reluctantly; he kept a grip on her hands as she pulled back. "L-Look at you…" He gasped.-
[17:35] <Minaplo> ["Raffy says I'm 28 now." Said Caitlin slowly.-
[17:36] <Minaplo> ["… Lucas, you're hurt."-
[17:36] <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah, h-heh. Just a bad memory of the old days…"]
[17:38] <Oat> "He's in line to get one of those robot legs fairly soon," Raphael said from the sidelines.
[17:59] <Minaplo> ["R-Really…?"-
[18:00] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." Said Lucas with a smile- a genuine, warm smile despite its shakiness. "I-I mean, I got a prosthetic, but I'm told the robot leg'll be better in every way…"-
[18:01] <Minaplo> ["Okay. That's good! That's good…"-
[18:02] <Minaplo> ["Uh, Raffy and I were going to look outside- can you come with us?" She said quickly.-
[18:02] <Minaplo> ["… Of course." Said Lucas with a smile. "It's not even a problem."]
[18:08] * Raphael didn't say anything more, but the small, happy smile he wore said enough.
[18:57] <Minaplo> […-
[19:04] <Minaplo> [Perhaps wisely, the Guillories' path to the deck took the scenic route, skirting around the Promenade in the process- and thus avoiding the crowds of off-duty techies, patrolling marines and idle Iron Guard.-
[19:04] <Minaplo> ["It's a big ship, huh?" Said Lucas. "I get lost in it all the time."-
[19:05] <Minaplo> ["How big is it really?" Asked Caitlin- her right hand in Lucas's and her left in Raphael's.]
[19:17] <Raphael> It had taken some time after their encounter in Medical for Raphael to relax; his mind occupied by trying to plan for other encounters that might frighten or upset Caitlin. Which was almost certainly why she had silently seized his hand some minutes later: A silent request for him to relax. And unusually, it seemed to have worked…-
[19:17] <Raphael> "Over one and a half kilometres long and just over 250 metres wide. It's more like a flying city than a warship."
[19:18] <Minaplo> ["Wow…" She said slowly. "That's huge!"-
[19:18] <Minaplo> ["It can also go underwater or into space, or so I've been told." Said Lucas.-
[19:19] <Minaplo> ["Underwater, too?"-
[19:21] <Minaplo> [Before Raphael could interject, however, he would suddenly hear the faint whisper of crinkling fabric, the whoosh of something in motion- and the sudden weight of something on his shoulders.-
[19:23] <Minaplo> [Lucas and Caitlin both started; Caitlin let out a squeak whilst Lucas emitted what could only be described as an energetic groan.-
[19:23] <Minaplo> [All Raphael would see were a pair of little girl feet, dangling down around his chest, wearing white socks with a pair of dark red shoes…-
[19:24] <Minaplo> ["Surprise." Said Eevi.]
[19:30] <Raphael> He recognized the shoes, at least, which was thankfully enough to stop Raphael's startled jump from turning into anything more definitive. In fact his smile recovered in record time as he craned his neck to try and get a glimpse of her, and he was reminded that no matter what one might expect of a tiny Iron Guard the girl was unusually light.-
[19:30] <Raphael> "You got me, alright. Hi Eevi."
[19:32] <Minaplo> ["Hi Raffy. You look different now." She said. She reached around and, after a few seconds of pawing his face, tapped him on the nose.-
[19:32] <Minaplo> ["Boop. Your nose is funny."]
[19:34] * Raphael sighed. "Did Rei tell you to-… Nevermind."-
[19:35] <Minaplo> ["Auntie Chii did!"]
[19:35] <Raphael> "… of course she did."-
[19:38] <Raphael> He turned to face the pair of them towards Lucas and Caitlin, and despite the exchange he was still smiling. "Caitlin, this is Eevi. She's a…" He paused, wondering how to begin untangling the nature of just what she was. "… she's a friend. Eevi, this is Caitlin and… oh, I suppose you already know Lucas."
[19:40] <Minaplo> ["Yep." said Lucas and Eevi at the same time.-
[19:41] <Minaplo> ["O-Oh." Said Caitlin slowly. "H… Hi, Eevi."-
[19:42] <Minaplo> ["Hi, Caitlin." Said Eevi.-
[19:42] <Minaplo> ["Where did you come from this time?" Asked Lucas.-
[19:42] <Minaplo> ["Ceiling." Said Eevi.-
[19:42] <Minaplo> [Caitlin and Lucas both looked up simultaneously. The ceiling was completely flat; there was nothing to grip onto.-
[19:42] <Minaplo> [Caitlin frowned, shooting Eevi a nervous look.]
[19:52] * Raphael gave her a little smile. "It's ok, really. It's one of those… future problems you mentioned. Eevi can do some funny things that look like magic, but there's science behind it. Right Eevi?"
[19:55] <Minaplo> ["Right." Said Eevi.-
[19:56] <Minaplo> ["M… Magic?" Said Caitlin, her eyes once again wide- but this time they narrowed. "Am I really here? Maybe I'm dreaming. Waking up in a world full of magic and robots…"-
[19:57] <Minaplo> [Eevi pulled herself off Raphael's shoulders and jumped into the air, where she stubbornly refused to fall.-
[19:57] <Minaplo> ["…" Caitlin stared.-
[19:58] <Minaplo> [Eevi stared back, gently floating down to look at Caitlin face-to-face.-
[20:00] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[20:00] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[20:00] <Minaplo> ["This is your sister, right, Raffy? She's really cute." Said Eevi.-
[20:00] <Minaplo> [Caitlin's response was a sharp gasp. "W-wh-Why is she flying?!"]
[20:02] * Raphael placed a firm hand on Eevi's head and pressed down until the girl was back on solid ground.-
[20:03] <Raphael> "Yes it is, and she's still getting used to things." He said seriously. "So please try not to scare her, hmm?"
[20:04] <Minaplo> [For Raphael, it felt like trying to press down on a bath toy, albeit one that had red hair and could bench-press a truck.-
[20:20] <Minaplo> ["Sorry." Said Eevi. The resistance against Raphael's hand suddenly vanished; Eevi instead bounded forward and gave Caitlin a fiercely tight hug around the middle, burying her head against Caitlin's chest.-
[20:21] <Minaplo> ["Buh-" Muttered Caitlin in surprise, but she returned the hug, more out of reflex than anything. "Jeez…"]
[20:24] <Raphael> "Eevi's a good girl, she just forgets herself sometimes," he said gently. "She's been through some hard times too."
[20:28] <Minaplo> ["Oh."-
[20:28] <Minaplo> [Caitlin didn't say anything else, but she did tighten her grip a little.-
[20:28] <Minaplo> ["What're you doing all the way out here anyway?" Asked Lucas.-
[20:29] <Minaplo> ["Looking for Timur."]
[20:30] <Raphael> "He left on his own?" Raphael asked, a little bit of honest concern showing through.
[20:35] <Minaplo> ["No." Eevi's clutch on Caitlin showed no signs of weakening. "Daji lured him away from me when I was eating."]
[20:36] <Raphael> "… Mmm. We should ask Technical about implanting a tracker."-
[20:37] * Raphael frowned, glancing up the hallway. "Do you need help looking for him? I could call Rei."
[20:41] <Minaplo> ["Oh, it's okay. If I really get worried I can ping until I find him." Said Eevi. "I'm doing it like this 'cuz I wanna work on my ruthless predator skills."-
[20:41] <Minaplo> [Lucas covered his mouth with the back of his hand.]
[20:42] <Raphael> Raphael's lip twisted as he stifled a smile. "… Better you than Timur, I suppose."
[20:43] <Minaplo> ["Timur is learning a better lesson." Said Eevi flatly.]
[20:43] <Raphael> "Oh?"
[20:43] <Minaplo> ["Never trust a fox."]
[20:48] <Raphael> What started as a chuckle quickly turned into a full-blown laugh. "An important lesson indeed."
[20:50] <Minaplo> [Lucas began to laugh as well.-
[20:50] <Minaplo> [Caitlin giggled as well… For a few seconds.-
[20:51] <Minaplo> ["Wait, is Timur a pet? Is he a kitty cat or a puppy dog?"-
[20:51] <Minaplo> ["He's an Armored Lion." Said Eevi warmly.-
[20:51] <Minaplo> ["… A what?"]
[20:58] <Minaplo> […-
[20:58] <Minaplo> [The elevator slid slowly up toward the deck.-
[20:59] <Minaplo> [They'd left Eevi behind to train her Ruthless Predator Skills; however, something of Eevi went with them nonetheless.-
[20:59] <Minaplo> ["B-But that sounds really dangerous!" Said Caitlin.-
[21:01] <Minaplo> ["No kidding, right?" Said Lucas. "They're a lot more common these days though- the UN's tried to hush 'em up, but…"-
[21:01] <Minaplo> [The elevator came to a stop. With a 'ding!', the doors slid open.-
[21:01] <Minaplo> [Caitlin sighed. "Oh…!"-
[21:02] <Minaplo> [It was a clear blue sky, dotted here and there with free puffs of white cloud. The sun shone warmly and brightly down on the gleaming deck of the Dorian Lachapelle.]
[21:07] * Raphael beamed, taking a step out and placing one hand in front of the door to hold it open. "There's a viewing deck over there if you'd like to get a better look."
[21:18] <Minaplo> [Caitlin didn't need telling twice; she instantly tore out of the elevator and across the deck, making long, quick strides.-
[21:18] <Minaplo> [She quickly ran right up to the edge of the viewing deck and peered out over it.-
[21:18] <Minaplo> ["Wow!" They heard her exclaim, even from the elevator.-
[21:19] <Minaplo> ["… Man, she's in high spirits." Said Lucas with a chuckle.]
[21:20] * Raphael nodded. "Are you as relieved as I am?"
[21:21] <Minaplo> ["Heh, is it obvious?"]
[21:21] <Raphael> "Mmhmm. Although I suppose there's more difficult things to come…"-
[21:21] <Raphael> "One thing at a time."
[21:42] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." Said Lucas.-
[21:42] <Minaplo> ["I… Having her back feels incredible."]
[21:47] <Raphael> "I know. I was expecting… Honestly, I don't know what I was expecting. Not this."
[21:49] <Minaplo> ["Yeah."-
[21:49] <Minaplo> [("Raffy! Lucas! C'mon!")]
[21:51] <Raphael> "… You heard her." He smiled as he headed for the deck.
[22:14] <Minaplo> [Caitlin was still engrossed in the view by the time they arrived.-
[22:14] <Minaplo> ["This is Paris, right?"]
[22:14] * Raphael took a spot at the railing next to her, examining the skyline below. "That's right."
[22:17] <Minaplo> ["Do you live here now?"]
[22:20] <Raphael> "We did for a while, but there were a lot of Angel attacks here. Right now I live on the //Dorian
and Lucas is living in Russia."
[22:25] <Minaplo> ["But… Russia's so far away."]
[22:25] * Raphael glanced at Lucas. "… do you want to tell her about Jaunting, or should I?"
[22:28] <Minaplo> ["You do it. It'll sound more convincing that way."]
[22:29] <Raphael> "You just enjoy watching me try to make it convincing." He scowled.
[22:31] <Minaplo> ["Ain't gonna lie, bro, it's pretty funny."]
[22:31] <Raphael> "Ugh."-
[22:34] * Raphael gave his brother a dark look and turned back to Caitlin. "Well, Caity, the proper name for those tricks Eevi was showing off is 'AT Manipulation'. And one of the things that lets us do is teleport."
[22:34] <Minaplo> ["Y-You can teleport?!"]
[22:36] <Raphael> "We can't, but we have people who can. Some of the bigger robots I mentioned - the Evangelions? - can do it as well."
[22:54] <Minaplo> ["R-Really. Can Eevi do it?"]
[22:58] <Raphael> "Eevi can't, but some of her aunts can," Raphael said. "You usually need an Evangelion to do it safely, though, except for a few special cases."
[23:03] <Minaplo> ["How far?"]
[23:04] <Raphael> "How far can they travel?"
[23:09] <Minaplo> ["Yeah."]
[23:09] <Raphael> "I haven't heard an exact limit, if there is one. There's reports of Jaunting as far as Pluto."
[23:10] <Minaplo> ["-Pluto-?!"-
[23:10] <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah, Pluto's not a planet anymore." Said Lucas.-
[23:10] <Minaplo> ["It's not?!"]
[23:10] <Raphael> "One thing at a damn time, Lucas," Raphael muttered.
[18:19] <Minaplo> ["What happened to Pluto?!"]
[18:22] <Raphael> "Nothing happened to it, but scientists decided it wasn't big enough to be called a proper planet. It's a… dwarf planet now, I believe?"
[18:25] <Minaplo> ["Oh."-
[18:29] <Minaplo> [Caitlin spent a few seconds in silence- before turning back to her view.-
[18:29] <Minaplo> ["Everything's so weird now." She murmured. "Giant robots and alien monsters and teleporting and flying…"]
[18:32] <Raphael> "… I know, hon. I'm sorry it's all happened so fast." He reached out, putting an arm around one of her shoulders.-
[18:33] <Raphael> "I know it might not seem that way right now, but most of it really is pretty exciting once you get beyond how strange it seems."
[18:36] <Minaplo> ["Yeah… I-I mean, some of it's scary and some of it's really weird, but…"-
[18:38] <Minaplo> ["It's still amazing." She murmured. "It's like waking up in a book."]
[18:43] <Raphael> "A good one, I hope."
[18:45] <Minaplo> ["A better one than before."]
[18:45] <Raphael> "…" He nodded a little. "I suppose that much is true."
[18:47] <Minaplo> ["Mmm…"-
[18:49] <Minaplo> [Caitlin stared out at the vista- Paris-2 gleaming in the sun, surrounded by beautiful verdant forests and welcoming fields…-
[18:50] <Minaplo> ["I wish mama and papa and Marie could see this." She said quietly.]
[18:55] <Raphael> … he wasn't surprised by the comment; if anything he'd expected it to come earlier. That didn't stop a little lump from forming in his throat, and he tightened his arm around her shoulders in response.-
[18:55] <Raphael> "We all do, little one. I… think they'd have liked it."
[18:57] <Minaplo> [Lucas rolled up a little closer and took her hand in his own.-
[18:58] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[18:58] <Minaplo> [Caitlin rested her head against Raphael's side.]
[19:11] <Raphael> And there they stayed for what felt like hours. It was a moment at least two of those involved had never expected to have again, and nobody seemed quite willing to break the spell.-
[19:11] <Raphael> But eventually a knot in his shoulder forced Raphael to move, jostling him and Caitlin out of their thoughts. He turned his head slightly, taking in both his siblings through his peripheral vision.-
[19:11] <Raphael> "Do you mind if we talk to you about some things, Caity? There's a few people Lucas and I might need to tell you about before you run into them by accident…"
[19:12] <Minaplo> ["Y-Yeah, okay." She said, nodding her head quickly.]
[19:14] <Raphael> "Lucas, do you want to start? Your list…" He frowned self-consciously. "Well, it's a little shorter."
[19:53] <Minaplo> ["Okay."-
[19:57] <Minaplo> [Lucas cleared his throat. "So. Uh… Your big brother's married."-
[19:58] <Minaplo> [Caitlin stared at him. Then she clapped her hands over her mouth and gasped.-
[19:59] <Minaplo> ["Her name's Emma." Said Lucas with a grin. "She's great. You'll get to meet her real soon, too."-
[19:59] <Minaplo> ["Oh my god, you're married."-
[19:59] <Minaplo> ["Yep. And you know what's even better?"-
[19:59] <Minaplo> ["What?"-
[20:00] <Minaplo> ["We've got a baby on the way~"-
[20:00] <Minaplo> [Caitlin gasped again. "A baby- I'm, I'm gonna be an aunt?"-
[20:00] <Minaplo> ["Yep!"]
[20:03] * Raphael grinned as well. "And you won't have to wait too long, either. Only three more months until the due date…"
[20:03] <Minaplo> ["Do we know if it's a boy or girl?" She asked.-
[20:03] <Minaplo> ["Not yet!"]
[20:06] <Raphael> "Emma wants it to be a surprise. Lucas, meanwhile…" He raised one of his hands out past the railing and made an exaggerated see-sawing motion.
[20:09] <Minaplo> ["Yeah yeah." Said Lucas. "It's like you see the christmas present, you can't open it but you wanna peek inside to see what it is, y'know? I'm jittery and stuff!"-
[20:09] <Minaplo> [Caitlin giggled.]
[20:19] <Raphael> "Still, Emma's wonderful. You two are going to get along, I'm sure."
[20:19] <Minaplo> ["Mmmhm." Said Lucas with a grin.-
[20:19] <Minaplo> ["I hope so." Said Caitlin.-
[20:22] <Minaplo> ["Welp, that's my side done. Raffy's turn now."-
[20:22] <Minaplo> [Caitlin spun around, staring at Raphael with big expectant eyes.]
[20:33] <Raphael> "My situation is a little harder to explain, but let's try."-
[20:34] <Raphael> "I'm not married, but I do have a—" Raphael frowned, the natural next choice of word fitting strangely in his mouth. "… I've been in a relationship with a lady named Misato for nearly a year and a half. She used to manage the Evangelions in Tokyo, but now she lives here on the ship."
[20:37] <Minaplo> ["M-Misato." Murmured Caitlin, rolling the unfamiliar name around in her mouth.-
[20:38] <Minaplo> ["They're adorable together." Stage whispered Lucas. Caitlin instantly blushed and giggled.]
[20:42] <Raphael> "… Yes. Well." Raphael tried to smother his pleased smile with a cough and pressed on.-
[20:48] <Raphael> "I'm not quite a dad in the same way Lucas is about to be, but I did adopt a little girl. Her name's Suzie." He shot Caitlin a smile. "She's very excited to meet you, believe me."
[20:52] <Minaplo> ["Suzie! That's a cute name. What grade's she in?"]
[20:55] <Raphael> "Third," he said proudly. "Her classes have been a little disrupted since we moved to the ship, but luckily we have enough kids here now that they've arranged a makeshift school."
[21:06] <Minaplo> ["Oh, wow. A school, too?"]
[21:09] <Raphael> "Not a real school, but we have a few teachers to deal with those children who can't or won't be separated from their parents. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing."
[21:13] <Minaplo> [Caitlin nodded several times quickly.]
[21:25] <Raphael> "And finally there's Rei who is… a little more complicated to explain. Her mother is still around, but I met her at the same time as I met Suzie and I looked after her a lot while she lived away from her family. She's very important to me." He looked at Caitlin again. "Does that make sense?"
[21:33] <Minaplo> ["You're like a second home, right?"]
[21:36] * Raphael nodded quickly, seeming slightly relieved. "That's a good way of putting it."-
[21:37] <Minaplo> ["I thought Ray was a boy's name though…?"]
[21:39] * Raphael looked momentarily confused before he seemed to catch on to his own mistake. "… Oh! It certainly can be, but in this case it's actually another Japanese name. It's spelt R-E-I, but it sounds the same."
[21:43] <Minaplo> ["Oh. Ohh."]
[21:45] <Raphael> "I see why you were confused, don't worry. I should've explained." He ruffled her hair fondly.-
[21:45] <Raphael> "In any case, Rei also looks after Eevi and Ban-Ban. That's how I know both of them so well."
[21:45] <Minaplo> ["Oh."-
[21:45] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[21:45] <Minaplo> ["What? She looks after…?"]
[21:49] * Raphael nodded. "She does. Ban-Ban was originally born from one of the Angels, but Rei raised him. He's been living with her and helping us ever since."
[21:51] <Minaplo> ["S-So… He's… Like Rei's…"-
[21:51] <Minaplo> ["Kid?"]
[21:52] <Raphael> "Something like that. That's how she thinks of him, certainly."
[21:54] <Minaplo> ["Ban-Ban looks weird and sounds weirder because of it, but people around here quickly learn to get over that." Said Lucas. "The folks on this ship are a little… Used to unusual."-
[21:54] <Minaplo> ["Hmm." Said Caitlin quietly.]
[21:57] <Raphael> "But," Raphael said quickly, "I think we all understand if it takes you a little longer. I'll make sure he knows what happened. There's a lot of people on the ship who are looking out for you already, so you can take all of this at your own pace."-
[21:58] <Raphael> "And for what it's worth it took me a very long time to not be afraid of him. I feel awful for it, looking back."
[22:00] <Minaplo> ["I-I'll try." She said quietly. "He did throw that idiot through a wall, though…"-
[22:03] <Minaplo> ["I'll be honest, Caity, Ban-Ban's a real gentle guy." Said Lucas. "That idiot, and the rest of his kind, can throw a car a hundred metres if they feel up for it. Ban-Ban was probably frightened."-
[22:04] <Minaplo> ["In fact, Ban-Ban once delivered a baby in an emergency! That's how you know he's a real hero."-
[22:04] <Minaplo> ["A-A baby…"]
[22:07] <Minaplo> [She turned to Raphael. "Oh, the one on Mars…"]
[22:11] <Raphael> "Mhmm," he agreed. "The elevators weren't working and he was the only one who could climb up to help the mother."
[22:11] <Minaplo> ["H-He looks like he could be pretty good at climbing."]
[22:13] * Raphael nodded a little too hard at that before he caught himself.-
[22:18] <Raphael> "A lot of people on the ship are like Ban-Ban: Not exactly normal humans but good people regardless. There's no harm in being wary, of course."
[22:19] <Minaplo> [She nodded quickly. "Okay. I'll keep it in mind."]
[22:23] <Raphael> "There's more people that I could tell you about, but I don't want to force too many names onto you at once. You've already got more than your fair share," he said. "Don't worry if you have trouble remembering them all."
[22:24] <Minaplo> ["Okay. Emma, Mi…sato, Suzie, Rei…"]
[22:25] <Raphael> "Hmm. Maybe I should pile some more on after all…"
[22:28] <Minaplo> ["It probably wouldn't hurt to educate her about our glorious leaders." Said Lucas with a grin.]
[15:59] <Raphael> "… Mmm, I suppose so. I didn't want to overload her." He looked Caitlin's way to try and assess her thoughts on the matter.
[16:03] <Minaplo> ["Later, okay?" She said.]
[16:04] <Raphael> "Yeah, that sounds best. I can even introduce you in person…"
[16:05] <Minaplo> ["I-Is that alright?"]
[16:06] * Raphael smiled. "It should be. Chancellor Zhang's a fairly friendly young lady."
[16:07] <Minaplo> ["Our leader's a lady?"]
[16:10] <Raphael> "Lots of our leaders are," he laughed. "And the Chancellor's an Evangelion pilot as well. She's rather impressive."
[16:10] <Minaplo> ["Wow!"-
[16:11] <Minaplo> ["Heck, even the American President's a young lady." Said Lucas. "But that's Raffy's department." He added with a smirk.]
[16:13] * Raphael let out an inarticulate mutter of disapproval, staring daggers in Lucas' direction.
[16:13] <Raphael> "… Minerva might want to meet you as well, actually," he admitted a moment later. "She's heard a bit about you."
[16:15] <Minaplo> ["Y-Yeah? Like what?"]
[16:16] <Raphael> "Oh, just old family stories. Nothing too incriminating," he smiled. "I told her you were recovering the last time we spoke."
[16:17] <Minaplo> ["W-wait, how come you're speaking with the president of America and telling stories about me?"]
[16:20] * Raphael looked momentarily awkward, but it came and went quickly enough to perhaps escape her notice. "… Well, we're friends. I've spent a lot of time working with her in the last year or so."
[16:21] <Minaplo> [Lucas shot Raffy a gleeful look over Caitlin's shoulder.-
[16:21] <Minaplo> ["But… But she's a President!"]
[16:23] <Raphael> Raphael put a great deal of effort into ignoring said looks. "Presidents can have friends too, Caity."
[16:24] <Minaplo> ["I know that! But… It's just weird…"]
[16:26] <Raphael> "… I suppose it is," he said eventually. "It certainly would've been unthinkable a few years ago. I've stumbled into some very powerful friends."
[16:28] <Minaplo> ["W-Well, that's not too bad. I… Do feel a little nervous about ending up at a party with Presidents and stuff…"-
[16:29] <Minaplo> ["He hasn't told you the half of it. Did you know he taught shooting skills to the Princess of Britain?" Said Lucas.]
[16:30] <Raphael> "It sounds bizarre when you put it like that…"
[16:31] <Minaplo> ["No kidding." Muttered Caitlin, looking slightly dazed.]
[16:33] <Raphael> "We were trying not to overload her, Lucas," Raphael sighed.
[16:34] <Minaplo> ["Bro, at this point, nearly anything we could talk about would reveal new and interesting facets about your secret agent life."]
[16:35] <Raphael> "Not everything! There are normal things…"-
[16:35] <Raphael> … although it was clear he was not rushing to suggest them.
[16:36] <Minaplo> ["… Um, like food?" Suggested Caitlin awkwardly.-
[16:36] <Minaplo> ["Nice and subtle." Said Lucas with a chuckle.]
[17:47] <Raphael> "Exactly," he nodded, his expression completely serious. "I eat food sometimes, like a normal person."
[17:47] <Raphael> "Unicorn burgers, for example."
[18:13] <Minaplo> ["Only bad people eat unicorns!"]
[18:15] <Raphael> "Maybe in the past…"
[18:17] <Minaplo> [Caitlin stared at him, her lips pressed firmly together in indignation.]
[18:18] * Raphael opened his mouth… and made an exaggerated chewing motion. "Delicious."
[18:21] <Minaplo> ["I don't like you anymore. Hmph."]
[18:22] * Raphael laughed and gave her an affectionate squeeze. "No lying, Caity."
[18:29] <Minaplo> ["I would never." She parroted firmly.]
[18:46] <Raphael> "Heh. Can't argue with that, I suppose."
[18:47] <Minaplo> [Lucas chuckled. "Anyway. C'mon, let's get you fed-"-
[18:48] <Minaplo> [A reverberation, distant yet easily felt, rippled through the hull; they felt it in their bodies.-
[19:33] <Minaplo> [Then they saw it on the flight deck below. A heavy metal cage had risen out of the deck, rising on a recessive platform. As it reached the top, it deployed a pair of magnetic tracks; these quickly connected with a much longer identical set permanently attached to the flight deck.-
[19:33] <Minaplo> [Caitlin's gaze was inexorably drawn downward. "…?!"-
[19:38] <Minaplo> [The cage restraints released with a loud, noisy blast.-
[19:41] <Minaplo> [An Evangelion stood there. Tall, lithe and powerful, its dense, layered armour a clear blue with red highlights. This Eva bore no weapons; it needed nothing but its hands.-
[19:41] <Minaplo> [EVA-05.-
[19:42] <Minaplo> [A sudden visible electric spark ran through the rails; a second later the Eva lowered its stance.-
[19:43] <Minaplo> [With a blast of sound and speed that shook Raphael's ears, EVA-05 launched, hurtling violently towards the edge of the deck. Before long it had been thrown clear off the side- it tumbled away.-
[19:43] <Minaplo> [Caitlin screamed-
[19:44] <Minaplo> [… And a second later the Eva re-emerged, blasting up into the sky on four glowing wings of light. It came to a stop in the air for a moment, its arms wide… then it fell gracefully, spinning elegantly through the air, dropping into a tight, quick dive before it burst off towards the east.-
[19:45] <Minaplo> ["My god!" Cried Caitlin, clapping her hands over her mouth, her eyes as wide as saucers. "Is that a…?!"]


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