This Too Shall Pass 3 4 8

[21:07] <Minaplo> [Maybe this had been a bad idea…?-
[21:09] <Minaplo> [The Peace March had long since left Marseilles, a streaming tide of humanity of hundreds of thousands, coming from all walks of life- deserting soldiers, African refugees, scared parents, solemn preachers and fierce activists.-
[21:09] <Minaplo> [At the moment, the movement had camped on the east bank of the Rhone river, halfway to Lyon- one of France's major cities.-
[21:11] <Minaplo> [And so last night Yanmei had been flown out to meet them…-
[21:13] <Minaplo> [She'd been put up in a spare bedroom in the local town hall, along with Ariadne and Isaiah. A restless night passed and a dread morning arose- even though the sky was clear and the sun was shining, it still felt weighty.-
[21:14] <Minaplo> [At 1 PM, Yanmei had been escorted to where their debate would occur- a stage erected atop a hill. Large projection screens and sound systems would broadcast the debate between her and Cartier to a crowd tens of thousands strong.-
[21:15] <Minaplo> […-
[21:16] <Minaplo> [Yanmei and her supportive retinue were backstage now- backstage being a tent set up for her on a grassy field. It was five minutes until go-time. Thoughts of Prefect Han, the Simurgh and Aline were driven by her mind by the constant reverb of the crowd's chatting and singing.]
[21:23] * Yanmei took deep breaths as the minutes ticked by. The size of this crowd was beyong anything she'd ever dealt with before. Would it riot if she said the wrong thing? -
[21:30] <Yanmei> She was sitting in one of the simple folding chairs that had been provided for her, rolling a bottle of water slowly between her hands. As usual, she was in her dress uniform, her hair swept over one shoulder in a low ponytail. Eventually, she squared her shoulders, a small smile on her face. There was no backing out of this mess now. Whatever happened, she would just have to bear it.
[21:31] <Minaplo> [Isaiah was sitting next to her, a hand on her shoulder- he too was quiet.-
[21:32] <Minaplo> ["… Looks like they're summoning you." Said Ariadne. Ariadne had been perfectly calm and composed… Yet her hands and spent the last hour nearly permanently curled into tight fists.]
[21:36] <Yanmei> "It's about time?" Yanmei stood up, and tossed her ponytail. "The sooner we do this, the sooner we can go back and crash in that nice guest room again~ Right guys?"
[21:36] <Minaplo> ["Right." Said Isaiah with a smile.-
[21:36] <Minaplo> [Ariadne chuckled. "Good luck, Yanyan."]
[21:40] <Yanmei> "Thanks." She leaned over and pecked Isaiah quickly on the cheek before turning to the exit. "Watch and be amazed!"
[21:40] <Minaplo> […-
[21:43] <Minaplo> [There were a flight of cheap metal steps leading up to the back of the stage.-
[21:44] <Minaplo> [There were a few people at the top of these- techies mostly, making sure the projectors and sound equipment worked smoothly.-
[21:45] <Minaplo> [One of them, however, stood out. A dusky-skinned man of average height with a firm, strong face. He had short black wavy hair and hazel eyes. He wore a priest's black cassock… Yanmei recognised him immediately.-
[21:46] <Minaplo> ["Good afternoon, Chancellor Zhang." Said Francois Cartier. He had a powerful, deep voice.]
[21:51] <Yanmei> "Father Cartier." Yanmei extended a hand. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you?"
[21:52] <Minaplo> ["And you too, Chancellor." He said, taking her hand and firmly shaking it. "How are you feeling?"]
[21:57] <Yanmei> "Eager? I'm hoping to answer as many questions as I can today." Her smile broadened. "And, of course, I'm interested in hearing a master orator in his element? You have quite the reputation…"
[21:59] <Minaplo> ["Haha. Well, it seems we both have a lot to live up to in that case!"]
[22:06] <Yanmei> "Heh. Well, I don't know how I measure up to all of this." She gestured to the curtain, indicating the massive crowd stretching beyond it. "It's incredible. Actually, even though we'll be on opposing sides during this debate, I want you to know that I respect what you've done here."
[22:19] <Minaplo> ["Well, thank you very much." Said Cartier.-
[22:19] <Minaplo> ["Shall we?"]
[22:22] * Yanmei nodded, peering around one last time before stepping… wherever she was directed to step in preparation for the start of this.
[22:49] <Minaplo> [The stage platform shook slightly beneath her feet- it was primarily scaffold platform, she now realised.-
[22:50] <Minaplo> [The first thing Yanmei would notice after this was the audience…-
[22:50] <Minaplo> [A hundred thousand strong, stretching in every direction, a great sea of humanity, some sitting, many standing. The afternoon sun was no deterrent.-
[22:51] <Minaplo> [As Yanmei and Cartier emerged, the audience began to cheer; the stage reverberated and trembled with the force of their voices.-
[22:51] <Minaplo> [Somehow, Yanmei suspected they weren't cheering for her.]
[22:54] <Yanmei> Of course. Nevertheless, she stood tall and smiling, looking almost mildly relaxed.
[23:00] <Minaplo> [a pair of podiums had been set up with microphones for them. Cartier quickly went to his.-
[23:00] <Minaplo> ["Quiet, please." He said, his voice booming out across the crowd. "Quiet…"-
[23:01] <Minaplo> [The crowd quickly began to settle. Where once their voices had set the stage to shaking, they now… Stood in anticipated silence.-
[23:02] <Minaplo> ["Good afternoon, proud pilgrims of the Marseilles March." Said Cartier. "So far into our journey and still you walk with me. Your tireless resolution is an example to all, and you do me proud."-
[23:02] <Minaplo> [The audience rapidly set to applauding and cheering, but Cartier quieted them with a raised hand.-
[23:03] <Minaplo> ["Our voices have not gone unheard." Said Cartier. "And not even the highest of the high can ignore them."-
[23:03] <Minaplo> ["So here today, to try to explain herself and her comrades, is the Chancellor of the Federation, Zhang Yanmei-"-
[23:03] <Minaplo> [The crowd's voices rose with scorn, hurling insults and booing loudly.-
[23:04] <Minaplo> [("Murderer!") ("Blackleg!") ("You're prolonging the war!") ("Down with tyrants!")-
[23:05] <Minaplo> ["That will be all." Said Cartier firmly. "Loud though our voices may be, we too must give all a space to speak and ears to listen, lest we judge with arrogance."-
[23:05] <Minaplo> ["Chancellor, the stage is yours."]
[23:26] <Yanmei> "Thank you, Father Cartier. And thank you everyone, for allowing me some of your time today?" Yanmei faced the crowd head on with a smile. If those jeers from before had affected her, it didn't show on her face. "It's true that it was impossible to ignore all the hard work you've put into these demonstrations, to the extent that making a personal appearence here became an immediate priority
[23:26] <Yanmei> for me as soon as I learned of the opportunity. Peace is absolutely a noble goal, and I applaud you for your dedication. Today, to show that I have nothing to hide, I would like to address concerns you have around the Federation's involvement in this latest war. I hope that we can all come away from this with a little more understanding about each others' points of view. If we could begin…"
[23:26] <Yanmei> she glanced over to Cartier.
[23:30] <Minaplo> [Cartier nodded.-
[23:30] <Minaplo> ["Chancellor Zhang, how long do you expect this war to rage?"]
[23:43] <Yanmei> "Neither the UN nor the Federation have infinite resources. We are also very aware of the scale and nature of the weapons being deployed in this war? Ideally, we're looking at a period that's maxes out at around a year's length of time."
[23:43] <Yanmei> ^that maxes out
[23:47] <Minaplo> ["That long? But why, Chancellor? The LN War lasted a little over six months, and look how much chaos it caused."]
[23:53] <Yanmei> "It may well be shorter than a year?" Yanmei pointed out. "But both sides are making use of technology that's developed rapidly since the LN War. Improved armor, vehicles and weapons that - while keeping soldiers safer - might also prolong battles."
[00:12] <Minaplo> [There were murmurs amongst the crowd- some sections began hurling the odd ("Tyrant!") ("Homebreaker!"), but many of them seemed to be showing muted reactions…-
[00:14] <Minaplo> ["But Chancellor, so much money has been spent, and will be spent on war machines… The ink of scholars is greater than the blood of soldiers, Chancellor! What will be left for the rest of us once the war is done? What of the tired and poor driven from their homes, both near and abroad?" His voice was filling with confidence and strength. "What will be done for those who have nothing? What
[00:14] <Minaplo> will be left for them?"]
[00:41] <Yanmei> "Aid," Yanmei said simply. "Monetary, medical and labor to assist with rebuilding efforts. Moreover, the UEF strives to see a post-war world that benefits from the capabilities of our Evas? That's why we are contributing a lot of effort to research terraforming, as proposed by Alexandria's esteemed Ibrahim Muhammad al-Maghrebi during a recent Summit in Istanbul. The end result would not
[00:41] <Yanmei> only make it easier to support returning refugees, but would open up currently unusable land for more people to migrate into."
[00:48] <Minaplo> ["But how long will it take for this aid to be distributed, these processes to run their course?"]
[01:05] <Yanmei> "Even under the best conditions - that is, assuming this technology ready to go at the end of the war - it would take at least a decade to terraform some of the desert regions we have in mind. Smaller farmland regions, however, should be able to produce food much more quickly. Other types of aid, absolutely, can be distributed immediately following the war if we draw on outside volunteers
[01:05] <Yanmei> and both combat and non-combat UEF staff. And yes, to clarify, this would be aid and not occupation; hence the use of non-combat personnel."
[01:38] <Minaplo> [… However, it seemed this didn't go down well.-
[01:39] <Minaplo> [Swayed perhaps by Cartier's oratory, many in the crowd, especially the refugees, became restive. ("A DECADE?!")("AID NOW!")("WE WANT TO GO HOME!")("LIAR!")("CHEAT!")-
[01:41] <Minaplo> [("NO MONEY FOR EVAS!")("NO TO EVAS!")-
[01:42] <Minaplo> [A rotten lettuce flew out of the audience, narrowly missing Yanmei's head.-
[01:42] <Minaplo> ["Enough!" Ordered Cartier. The authority in his voice travelled hard and far, and all but the rowdiest in the crowd began to settle.-
[01:44] <Minaplo> ["Chancellor, it's time for us to confront the core question." Said Cartier.-
[01:44] <Minaplo> ["This war. Why is it happening? I ask you what cause gives us the right to war with our brothers in Germany, Austria, Poland and beyond? To inflict even more suffering on the peoples of Africa, still recovering from the wrath of the Angels?"]
[08:29] <Yanmei> "Our reasons for the initial formation of the United Earth Federation were based on concerns about the UN's ethics? And as this war has gone on, we've felt justified in making the decision to resist it. We… have suffered, just as many of you have, with the loss of many loved ones. Innocent civilians targetted by the UN just because they had relationships with UEF personnel. We live in constant fear something happening to the loved ones who remain. This is not a new fear for many of us. Prior to the war, when I was personally incarcerated by the UN in Africa for charges that were never proven, the UN secured my cooperation and compliance by kidnapping my own young daughter, bringing her to the base where I was held, and constantly threatening her well being." -
[08:39] <Yanmei> Her voice held a raw edge of anger now. She wrestled with it and eventually buried it as she continued. "This is how the UN operates. And their crimes affect more than just the soldiers working for them or opposing them? When I eventually fled from that UN base, I witnessed how regions neglected by the United Nations had developed. The people living there were warm, strong, and hard working, but they lived in the broken ruins of once-prosperous cities, literally tearing each other to pieces over basic supplies like food and water. Why? The UN was fully aware of their plight, and had abandoned them to distribute its aid to other nations for political reasons. They deserved better. The world deserves better! And the UEF is resolved take over and to give the world what it deserves!"
[09:21] <Minaplo> [… This seemed to trigger something in the crowd. Perhaps it was Yanmei's impassioned tone, or the strength in her voice.-
[09:21] <Minaplo> [But they quieted down, and started to listen. Some even started to cry- remembering cities of their own, thrown down and destroyed.-
[09:21] <Minaplo> [Cartier was silent, standing at his podium.-
[09:21] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[09:21] <Minaplo> [But eventually he looked up toward the sky, then over at Yanmei.-
[09:23] <Minaplo> ["To march for peace means to march for those who may not raise their voices." He said. "Those who, should they speak against tyranny and injustice, are threatened, silenced, killed."-
[09:24] <Minaplo> ["And so I use my voice on their behalf." Said Cartier, his voice gaining in strength. "What of the Ukrainians, Chancellor? What of the Lithuanians, the Estonians, the Latvians and Finns? What of the Vietnamese, the Burmese, the Laotians and Thai? Of the Koreans and Mongolians and the Tibetans? Of the Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans and Spaniards? Of the Irish and Scottish, of the Khazaks
[09:24] <Minaplo> and the Uzbeks and the Afghans and Azeri?"-
[09:25] <Minaplo> ["All of these are free people, forced into bondage and slavery by the nations of the Federation- by the Chinese, the Soviets, the French and the British- what of these people? What will you do for them? What can you possibly do for them? What power do you have to bring true freedom to all the people of the world?"]
[09:55] <Yanmei> "We haven't forgotten about them. The reason many of these areas were originally subjugated was because those members of the Federation could not sustain themselves - or grow - without their resources and labor. After the war, we intend to use non-violent means to advocate for solutions that both sides will be satisfied with. This will not be easy. Each of the cases you mentioned have their own unique circumstances that must be examined and taken into account. Generally, though, the UEF has the ability to mediate trade negotiations and to develop supplemental technology that may lessen the compulsion that many UEF member feel to hold on to these territories."
[10:12] <Minaplo> [As far as arguments go, there were no doubt members of the audience who had problems with it.-
[10:12] <Minaplo> [Yet…-
[10:13] <Minaplo> [Here, in front of the crowd, in Cartier's home turf so to speak, it seemed that Yanmei was the one who had presence, who had the force of will to give her answers credence.-
[10:13] <Minaplo> [More questions were asked.-
[10:13] <Minaplo> [Questions about goals, about what would happen if the Federation lost…-
[10:14] <Minaplo> [… Yet Yanmei had answers.-
[10:15] <Minaplo> [By the time the debate had finished, and Yanmei would be allowed to leave, the rally- the crowd which had started with chanting, singing, and heckling- had started to disperse.-
[10:15] <Minaplo> [Yanmei could go, now. Back to her tent.-
[10:15] <Minaplo> [Cartier stood by his podium, head down, quiet and still.-
[10:15] <Minaplo> [Perhaps he already knew that his Peace March had been filled with doubt.-
[10:16] <Minaplo> [Maybe he already knew the March would barely have another 100 kilometres in it before it dwindled away.]
[10:19] * Yanmei quietly said her goodbyes to him before stepping down and walking over to the tent where her entourage was. She should have felt elated… but she didn't. When she pulled back the flap to greet Ariadne and Isaiah again, her face was grim, a far cry from what it had been even at the start of her appearance.
[10:23] <Minaplo> ["Hey…"-
[10:23] <Minaplo> [Isaiah reached her first, gathering her up in his arms. "Oh sweetheart, are you alright?"-
[10:23] <Minaplo> ["I don't believe it." Muttered Ariadne, following after him. "You actually fuckin' did it…!"]
[10:25] * Yanmei patted Isaiah on the back gently. "Yeah…" She gave Ariadne a wan smile. "What a relief, huh? And yeah, I'm fine. Just glad that it's over."
[10:27] <Minaplo> ["You're incredible…" Murmured Ariadne.-
[10:27] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[10:27] <Minaplo> [Isaiah smoothly swept Yanmei off her feet, holding her to his chest. "God, you're exhausted. I can feel it." He said. "Why don't we get you back to the room, huh?"]
[10:32] <Yanmei> "Sounds like a good plan? I'm gonna sleep for, like, a year." Another back-pat, and a bigger grin. "Gotta let me walk, though. I'll get picked on if the critics see me in damsel mode."
[10:32] <Minaplo> ["But I like carrying you~"]
[10:33] * Yanmei snuggled him. "You can always carry me once we're back on the ship~"
[10:34] <Minaplo> ["Fair enough~"-
[10:34] <Minaplo> [Reluctantly, he set her back down.-
[10:35] <Minaplo> ["You really were wonderful out there, though."]
[10:40] <Yanmei> "Thanks. And thanks for coming along. Both of you."
[10:40] <Minaplo> ["Anytime." Said Ariadne.-
[10:41] <Minaplo> [Isaiah held out his hand to Yanmei. "Wouldn't have it any other way."]
[10:43] * Yanmei grasped it happily. "Let's go, shall we?"
[10:43] <Minaplo> ["Let's."]

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