Von Brandt S Appointment

[14:00] <Yanmei> The ship was already docked and waiting, its occupants scrambling madly to prepare for the Angel's approach. -
[14:03] <Yanmei> Yanmei had been among them until just a short while ago. She'd done some tests and training, unable to revel in any downtime since Rei's trial had come to an end. She hadn't even gotten the chance to see Pettigrew for coffee the way she had promised. -
[14:08] <Yanmei> And in fact, even though they were right up against the French coastline now, the thought of going home to her and Marianne's apartment had seemed insane. There was too much for Marianne to keep track of without worrying about the pilots wandering off. Besides, the ship was much safer. -
[14:14] <Yanmei> Fewer spies. Fewer Solomons. Fewer mafia bastards and cultist stragglers. And yet, here Yanmei was, coasting along the quiet streets of Paris in her violet hatchback. All it had taken to bring her here was a short phone call from a certain someone on the outside and a lift in a VTOL. The windows were down, blasting her and her passenger with air, and her shoulders were tight and tense, her
[14:14] <Yanmei> eyes keenly skimming the familiar road ahead of them.
[14:23] <Minaplo> ["This place is emptier than usual." Said Asuka, who in contrast to Yanmei was holding herself with almost flippant ease. "All the civilians moved off elsewhere…"]
[14:26] <Yanmei> "Of course? They had to evacuate the place out of fear of everyone getting killed in the battle. Boston was the same way?"
[14:28] <Minaplo> ["What a pain. This place is even more boring now."-
[14:30] <Minaplo> [There was a low-level rumbling, and Yanmei would have to slow down- and stop. A bright yellow vehicle- a huge tank- rolled out into the intersection in front of her, from her right; it was flanked by a pair of AC Suits. The three vehicles moved past, leaving Yanmei to continue.]
[14:32] * Yanmei watched them pass by with narrowed eyes… and then pressed foward as quickly as she could without risking control of her car as if eager to get away before more of them came. "I don't like it much either," she muttered. "It's creepy."
[14:36] <Minaplo> ["Wussy."]
[14:37] <Yanmei> "-You're- wussy. I'm just reasonably cautious~"
[14:38] <Minaplo> [Asuka poked her tongue out.-
[14:38] <Minaplo> ["Where'we going, anyway?"]
[14:39] <Yanmei> "An important friend's estate? Your Jerkface knows him pretty well too."
[14:43] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[14:44] <Yanmei> "His name is Gilles de Orleans? He's a big shot with the UN. To be honest, I'm surprised that he's still around instead of safely leaving like everyone else."
[14:45] <Minaplo> ["Eh? The HIC member?"]
[14:46] <Yanmei> "You know him?"
[14:48] <Minaplo> ["He's one of the HIC! Of course I do!"]
[14:53] <Yanmei> "Hmmm~? Well, I guess you would have at least heard of him at some point? Anyway, I doubt he would have called me out here without good reason."
[14:53] <Minaplo> [Asuka muttered.]
[14:54] * Yanmei didn't catch what she said… but that didn't keep her from smirking smugly for the rest of the way. Not that they had far left to go. -
[14:55] <Yanmei> Before long, they were pulling up to the front gate and Yanmei was climbing out of the car to ring the buzzer mounted next to it.
[15:03] <Minaplo> [The chateau was much like Yanmei had remembered it… Although, she noted, there was a VTOL on the front yard, one of the futuristic yellow ones that the Stormtroopers used.-
[15:03] <Minaplo> [The front doors opened, and out came Lucille, dressed as usual in a blue dress. She walked over to the gate and opened it, bowing. "Welcome back, Mademoiselle Zhang."]
[15:06] <Yanmei> "Miss Lucille. It's good to see you again?" She grinned, and for the first time since their arrival in Paris, her happiness seemed to outwiegh her tension. "How have you been?"
[15:09] <Minaplo> ["I have been well. Please introduce your guest, Mademoiselle Zhang."]
[15:11] <Yanmei> "Of course. This is Asuka Langley Soryu, a fellow pilot of mine. Asuka, this is Miss Lucille, Mr. de Orleans' assistant and bodyguard."
[15:14] <Minaplo> ["Yo." Asuka gave Lucille a lazy wave. "Bodyguard, huh? Yeah, I can imagine…"-
[15:15] <Minaplo> [There was a weird tone to her voice. Mocking?-
[15:15] <Minaplo> ["Would you like to come inside?" Asked Lucille politely.]
[15:17] <Yanmei> "Please." Yanmei shot her an apologetic look. Why hadn't she dragged along someone who was better behaved in polite company…?
[15:19] <Minaplo> [Lucille led them back into the chateau. It was familiar enough to Yanmei, but for Asuka it was the first time she'd seen it. She folded her arms and looked around, trying to put on a facade of disinterest.-
[15:19] <Minaplo> ["Hey, maidy girl, is there anything to eat in this place?"-
[15:20] <Minaplo> ["But of course." Lucille turned. "If you come this way, I will bring you to the kitchens. Mademoiselle Zhang, Monsieur de Orleans is waiting in his usual room."]
[15:21] <Yanmei> "R-right…" she tried to read Lucille's expression before they parted ways. Was she secretly going to ninjastab Asuka?
[15:24] <Minaplo> [but Lucille's expression was blank and professional as she led Asuka off.-
[15:25] <Minaplo> [Which left Yanmei to head off towards de Orleans's library room- the room with the large table and books. As Yanmei approached the door, she heard something within- quiet murmurings. People talking?]
[15:25] * Yanmei knocked politely, of course, to make her presence known to those inside.
[15:30] <Minaplo> ["Come in, please."]
[15:32] * Yanmei daintily did so, her smile radiant. "Hello Monsieur de Orleans~ It's been a long time?"
[15:39] <Minaplo> [De Orleans was sitting at his table, a cup of tea in front of him, wearing a crisp, neat suit. He looked much as he always did- a little older, perhaps, but not yet stooped or bent. "Zhang Yanmei." He smiled. "Welcome back."-
[15:42] <Minaplo> [But he wasn't alone. There was a man in the room as well, standing by a window, facing away from Yanmei; he was tall and thin, and his hands were folded behind his back, gloved in black. He wore a white uniform with a long white coat, with yellow and red stripes across the hems and edges- the uniform of a New World Magistrate. He didn't turn as Yanmei entered.]
[15:45] * Yanmei didn't address the mystery man just yet, although she did hone in on the style of the uniform briefly… -
[15:46] <Yanmei> "Thank you. And thank you for the generous invitation to your home? It's good to be back."
[15:46] <Minaplo> ["How are you feeling?"]
[15:50] <Yanmei> "Great! I had some time to rest up on the journey back to Europe? I do feel a little rude for interrupting, though?" she kept smiling, although now there was a tinge of apology to it. "I hadn't realized that you would have another guest over."
[15:58] <Minaplo> ["Oh, it's quite fine. I did invite you, after all." de Orleans turned to the guest. "Please, introduce yourself…"-
[16:02] <Minaplo> [The man turned on his heel.-
[16:07] <Minaplo> [He had a strange face, not unattractive, but strange. He had a strong jaw with a defined jawline, as well as high, distinguished cheekbones. His skin however looked soft and smooth, and his hair was a rich black; it was long and straight, parted down the middle, and fell to just past his neck. He wore unassuming bifocals and smooth, full eyebrows.-
[16:09] <Minaplo> ["Captain Zhang Yanmei." The man bowed, and smiled. "I was just reviewing a few fascinating things I've heard about you recently. I've heard that you successfully defended a fellow pilot at Court Martial- and at your age! What a remarkable achievement. I salute your ability."]
[16:10] <Yanmei> "Why, thank you." she smiled graciously. "Although, it was hardly a singlehanded effort, Mr…?"
[16:12] <Minaplo> ["Von Brandt. Ephraim Siskin von Brandt."]
[16:27] <Yanmei> "Von Brandt," Yanmei echoed, simply. She took in his uniform once more, with a greater eye for the details, and saluted briefly just to be on the safe side. "A pleasure."
[16:29] <Minaplo> ["Ephraim here is about to take a very special position." Said de Orleans warmly.]
[16:29] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
[16:34] <Minaplo> ["I have been chosen to take the free seat on the Human Instrumentality Committee." Said von Brandt. He had a very warm, lovely voice.]
[16:35] <Yanmei> "Congratulations!" said Yanmei brightly. "The two of you will be colleagues, then."
[16:36] <Minaplo> ["That's right." Said von Brandt. "It'll be a challenging task, no doubt…"]
[16:40] <Yanmei> "Oh, certainly, but I'm sure you'll find a way to fit right in."
[16:56] <Minaplo> ["I would hope so."-
[16:57] <Minaplo> ["I know it was probably a faux pas on my part," Said de Orleans. "Pulling you out here whilst you're preparing for battle. But I felt it might be good for you, amongst other things."]
[17:02] <Yanmei> "Think nothing of it. I always appreciate the chance to chat and meet new people~ Actually, I've brought someone along with me to say hello. Miss Lucille is chatting with her in the kitchen right now."
[17:06] <Minaplo> ["Indeed?"]
[17:07] <Yanmei> "Yes. I'm sure they'll be along shortly. In the meantime, maybe we could catch up a little?"
[17:12] <Minaplo> ["Naturally. Please have a seat."]
[17:16] * Yanmei cheerfully did so, smoothing down her skirt. "I trust you've been doing well since I've been away?"
[17:17] <Minaplo> ["Well enough. There've been complications here recently, of course."]
[17:21] <Yanmei> "I can imagine. First the demonstrations and now the Angel. Will you be evacuating soon, like the rest of the city has?"
[17:23] <Minaplo> ["I'll be evacuating, yes, but not in the same way as the rest of the city- I'll be evacuating with the government to Orleans. On that note, I'm actually meeting with President Mazarin tomorrow- why don't you come along with me?"]
[17:24] <Yanmei> "I would be happy to!" She beamed. President Mazarin~~~
[17:30] <Minaplo> [von Brandt chuckled. "The President has a loyal voter in you, doesn't he?"]
[17:35] <Yanmei> "Well, we've been friends for a while? And with recent developments, I didn't know if I would be able to see him personally again."
[17:35] <Minaplo> ["Tomorrow evening will be your last chance for awhile, I think." Said de Orleans.]
[17:37] <Yanmei> "I see. I'll have to check with Command to be sure, but I'm positive I'll be fine to come along."
[17:39] <Minaplo> ["What about your fiance?" Asked von Brandt. "Young Mister Gabriel-Wei? The one with such amazing mathematics results…"]
[17:40] <Yanmei> "I see that you've been very thorough with your research."
[17:45] <Minaplo> ["I have flawless memory." Said von Brandt, smiling as he tapped his forehead. "I remember almost everything I've encountered."]
[17:46] <Yanmei> "I see! A useful skill for your profession, I trust?"
[17:49] <Minaplo> ["A useful skill for any profession, I would think."]
[17:59] <Yanmei> "Naturally~" Yanmei nodded. "You'll forgive me, but what do you specialize in?"
[18:01] <Minaplo> ["Psychology."]
[18:07] <Yanmei> …would Caine's lot actually care enough to hire a mental health care professional for their facilities, let alone appoint them to a seat on the HIC? -
[18:08] <Yanmei> "Interesting. I bet your patients are very lucky, then~"
[18:26] <Minaplo> [Swift muffled footsteps from outside the door, becoming louder.-
[18:28] <Minaplo> [The door suddenly burst open, Asuka standing in the frame. Her arms were full, carrying a big silver platter on which sat fifteen or so cupcakes with various icings- vanilla, strawberry, lemon- a plate of what looked like chicken wings, and a plate of cheeses.-
[18:29] <Minaplo> ["Mmmmf! Foodshgud, meddygal's kewkedwell-" She crowed happily, swallowing down a cupcake. She looked around the room, and her one good eye fell on von Brandt.-
[18:29] <Minaplo> ["Asuka Langley Soryu." von Brandt smiled a smile… If Yanmei had to describe it, it'd be 'fatherly'.-
[18:30] <Minaplo> ["Look at you. So tall and healthy and fit! Remarkable…"-
[18:30] <Minaplo> [There was a crash. Asuka's hands had slackened, the silver platter falling to the ground, cupcakes and chicken and cheese going all over the carpeted floor.-
[18:31] <Minaplo> [Her face was paper-white, and her eye was widened in what could only be abject terror.]
[13:14] * Yanmei was halfway out of her seat at the clatter, startled. Her eyes darted from Asuka to von Brandt and back, and very quickly the light of some sort of understanding - maybe even some grim resignation - began to break through the haze of confusion there. "Asuka?"
[13:20] <Minaplo> ["Hm." von Brandt walked around the table, approaching Asuka. "My dear, look at this mess-"-
[13:20] <Minaplo> ["NO!" Asuka took a step backwards, the floor slippery with oils from her dropped food. She lost her footing and fell backwards.-
[13:21] <Minaplo> ["Whatever has gotten into you?" von Brandt chided, still giving her that smile. He stepped over the debris and held out a hand-
[13:22] <Minaplo> [… Which Asuka slapped away, rolling over and scrabbling on the floor like a terrified cat. She was running before she even managed to pick herself up, her head turning to glance over her shoulder, giving Yanmei but a small glimpse of her face- an expression of genuine animal fear written all over it.]
[13:33] <Yanmei> "Doctor von Brandt," Yanmei made her voice loud and firm enough to ensure that she attracted his attention as she smoothly strode for the two of them - the frantic Asuka in particular - aiming to bodily step between them if necessary. "And Monsieur de Orleans. Would the two of you be so good as to call for Miss Lucille?"
[13:35] <Minaplo> [Asuka was more or less gone at this point, out of visual sight- and soon audial as the sound of the front door slamming could be heard.-
[13:36] <Minaplo> ["Of… Of course." Said de Orleans. He seemed genuinely shaken by the experience, but coughed, straightened up and pressed a button on his wristwatch. Within a minute, Lucille arrived.-
[13:36] <Minaplo> [von Brandt shook his head, clucking to himself disappointedly as he returned to staring out the window.]
[13:41] <Yanmei> Yanmei, for her part, apologised profusely for her guest's behavior to all three of the others gathered in the room with her. "I should go find her," she decided out loud. "She's a long way from the Battleship, after all? If you'll excuse me…"
[13:45] <Minaplo> ["Of course." Said de Orleans, whilst Lucille took care of the mess.]
[13:50] <Yanmei> Yanmei gave von Brandt one last fleeting glance as she turned to head off, and before long she found herself on de Orleans' doorstep, exhaling slowly and blinking around dazedly in the bright sunlight.
[13:59] <Minaplo> [Asuka wasn't anywhere visible at first, but Yanmei would espy her and her red hair- sitting on the back seat of Yanmei's car, her knees tucked up against her chest and her arms over her head.]
[14:02] * Yanmei cursed under her breath, hesitating for just a moment. Then, she moved past the gate, leaving it ajar behind her, and went for the driver's seat of the car. She opened the door, climbed in, and shut it, eyes warily on the back seat to catch a reaction or two.
[14:07] <Minaplo> ["… Sorry."]
[14:10] <Yanmei> For the second time that day, Yanmei's eyes widened in shock. She shook her head hard, and tried to recover. "Look, don't worry about it? No one's mad at you. Just… what happened?"
[14:11] <Minaplo> ["I got… I got scared."]
[14:13] <Yanmei> "No kidding?" She shifted, draping an arm over the back of the seat to get a better look at her.
[14:17] <Minaplo> ["You wanna know what's up, don't you?"}
[14:18] <Yanmei> "Are you okay with telling me?"
[14:20] <Minaplo> ["If I don't, you'll probably just find out some other way, and… You wanna know more about that guy."]
[14:21] <Yanmei> "He's dangerous somehow, isn't he?"
[14:22] <Minaplo> ["Heh. In the grand scheme of things, I guess he's just small fry. It's not like he can lift a car or fight off an army."]
[14:25] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyes lowered. "He's just been appointed to the Human Instrumentality Committee."
[14:26] <Minaplo> ["Tch…"-
[14:26] <Minaplo> ["Ephraim Siskin von Brandt." Muttered Asuka. "The Head of Psychology for the NeoSpartan programme."]
[14:29] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei grunted under her breath. "How sad is it that I'm starting to get a picture just from that little bit of information?"
[14:31] <Minaplo> ["D-Don't assume anything." Asuka's voice broke, and she stopped herself, trembling, before trying to calm herself down. "H-He isn't the sort of guy you can just…"]
[14:34] <Yanmei> "All right, all right," she said quickly. "No assumptions? I'll shut up and let you tell it."
[14:36] <Minaplo> ["He was in charge of some of our conditioning." She said slowly. "Not our neuro-conditioning, but… 'old-style' conditioning. And he was good at it, too." She said quietly.]
[14:38] * Yanmei waited for her to go on, uneasily.
[14:52] <Minaplo> ["The first time I killed another student, it-it was an accident, but… He…"-
[14:52] <Minaplo> [Thoughts. Blood. A room. Blood. Sticky to her neck. A gas. Laughing. Crying. Terrified. Blood. A face.]
[14:57] <Yanmei> "Asuka?" Yanmei's voice was quiet, worried.
[15:01] <Minaplo> ["He… Put me in a room. It was full of blood, and the- the body…"-
[15:02] <Minaplo> ["There was a gas in the air, it made me feel light-headed and giddy. The blood was up to my c-chest, and it kept rising, and I had to stay in there for hours. T-To get used to blood, he said."]
[15:04] <Yanmei> "What the hell…?" she breathed. Her grip on the car seat became a bit tighter now.
[15:05] <Minaplo> ["If he w-wanted, he could change how you thought." She muttered. "Make you…"-
[15:06] <Minaplo> [Thoughts. Who do you see?-
[15:06] <Minaplo> [Alexandre, Thomas, Abraham, Riku, Pavel.-
[15:06] <Minaplo> [Abraham? There's no Abraham here, my dear Asuka.-
[15:07] <Minaplo> [He's the third one there, he has long black hair-
[15:07] <Minaplo> don't understand how you could be so wrong.//
[15:12] <Yanmei> "Make you…?"
[15:13] <Minaplo> ["F… Forget people. People you just forget ever existed. S-So many faces I-I've only just started to remember…"]
[15:18] <Yanmei> "…" Confusion and worry flooded her. This was the sort of man he was? "I'm sorry. I wouldn't have brought you here if I'd known you two would meet up. It's no wonder you ran away…"
[15:25] <Minaplo> ["He was scary. He could… Nothing was safe. He could make you talk to yourself, so he would learn your s-secrets, and…"-
[15:25] <Minaplo> [Have you spoken to Sofie?-
[15:25] <Minaplo> [I don't know who that is.-
[15:26] <Minaplo> ["Make you remember…"-
[15:26] <Minaplo> [Your best friend. She's waiting for you right now.-
[15:26] <Minaplo> [No, I don't know her-
[15:27] <Minaplo> [I am so sorry, my dear Asuka. But you must be persuaded to see the truth.-
[15:27] <Minaplo> ["People who never existed, too."]
[15:31] <Yanmei> "Why? Why go that far…?"
[15:33] <Minaplo> ["He had tricks. Make you remember someone as your best friend, then trick you into seeing -him- as your best friend, and…" She shivered, and swallowed painfully. "You never… Knew… You could never ever be perfectly sure about -anything-. Was this person under his control? Was this person -him-? It was like he was God."]
[15:36] * Yanmei bit her lip hard for a time. "He did that to everyone in the program?"
[15:36] <Minaplo> ["I have no idea. But everyone was terrified of him. Some people said they saw him when they didn't, some people weren't sure if visits with him were dreams or not."-
[15:36] <Minaplo> ["But we all knew him. And we all had our name for him."]
[15:37] <Yanmei> "What was that?"
[15:37] <Minaplo> ["Nightmare."]
[15:40] <Yanmei> "Can't think of anything more appropriate," Yanmei muttered. The disgust was plain in her voice. -
[15:41] <Yanmei> "Tell me what you want me to do now, Asuka. Should we go home?"
[15:42] <Minaplo> ["I…" Asuka's face went red with shame and humiliation. "I need to go home. I… I pissed myself."]
[15:45] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei, to her credit, kept her face perfectly calm. "Say no more?" She faced back around and put one hand on the wheel. "Hadn't planned it, but… let's stop at the old apartment for a minute on the way? There's something I wanted to grab."
[15:48] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, ok. Sorry. Kinda ruined your meetup."]
[15:49] <Yanmei> "It's ok. He invited me along to see him and another friend tomorrow? Ah. Actually, let me call and explain what's going on to him before he worries." She pulled out her cell phone and flipped over to De Orleans' number.
[15:52] <Minaplo> ["De Orleans residence." Lucille's voice.]
[15:53] <Yanmei> "Miss Lucille? It's Yanmei. I found her."
[15:53] <Minaplo> ["I am glad to hear that, Mademoiselle Zhang."]
[15:55] <Yanmei> "Thank you. We've… decided that it's best to take her back to the ship for now. Could you please pass my regrets along to the others?"
[16:02] <Minaplo> ["Of course."]
[16:04] <Yanmei> "And please let Monsieur know that'll call ahead about tomorrow's plans. And…" she flushed slightly red again now. "I'm very, very, very sorry about the carpet."
[16:19] <Minaplo> ["It is fine. Good evening, Mademoiselle."-
[16:19] <Minaplo> [Asuka was staring at Yanmei oddly.]
[16:21] * Yanmei stared down at the phone for a second until she spotted Asuka again, and hastily faced forward, slipping her keys into the ignition. "It's a long drive, so hang on for a bit?"
[16:22] <Minaplo> ["You're not -that- upset about the carpet, right?" Asked Asuka suspiciously.]
[16:29] <Yanmei> "Well, Lucille is the one who will have to clean it? So it's only fitting to be as apologetic as possible about it to her."
[16:30] <Minaplo> ["H-Hmph. But it's not -that- important."]
[16:31] <Yanmei> "She's probably pretty scary when she's annoyed…"
[16:32] <Minaplo> ["She's a maid, and excuse me, I think you should be more worried about me than some dumb carpet."]
[16:35] <Yanmei> "What, you think I'm not?"
[16:39] <Minaplo> ["Y-You should be so worried about me that you should forget about the carpet for like, three days." Asuka folded her arms and tossed her head.]
[16:50] <Yanmei> "Ah~ I get it. You want me to follow you around for the next few days and constantly hound you, the way a certain overly worried God-botherer would~"
[16:54] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, right." Asuka scoffed. "… Just drive, dumbface."]
[16:59] * Yanmei hid her smile. "Know what?"
[16:59] <Minaplo> ["What?"]
[17:02] <Yanmei> "Between you and me? Someone like Asuka the Great is worth more than a million carpets."
[17:06] <Minaplo> ["…" Asuka looked away out the window, trying to hide her burning red face. She sniffed a little, wiping at her good eye.]
[17:14] <Yanmei> Yanmei, for Asuka's sake, pretended that she didn't notice.

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