Worship Whom Else? / For Am I Not, This Day, Whate'er I Please?

(10:27:12) AdEvaGM: [It wasn't like being asleep.-
(10:27:44) AdEvaGM: [Everything was empty. There was nothing to see, and nothing to be seen, and millions of years passed unrecorded, unimportant because nothing felt the flow of time.-
(10:29:13) AdEvaGM: [Was this the universe? Why was it empty?-
(10:51:29) AdEvaGM: [Perhaps… Because it doesn't exist, was the answer.]
(10:57:23) AdEvaPlayer: [But this place inhabited by nothing… where was it? There had been something, somewhere, once upon a time, hadn't there?]
(11:00:19) AdEvaGM: [Time? What was time?]
(11:02:28) AdEvaPlayer: [What, for that matter, was empty? It was all relative to the viewer. Of which there were none.]
(11:03:34) AdEvaGM: [What if there, once upon a time, had been the -idea- of time, created by the -idea- of a viewer?]
(11:08:28) AdEvaPlayer: [It was within the realm of conceivable possibilities, but what could the idea accomplish? There was Nothing to apply it to, after all.]
(11:12:10) AdEvaGM: [That which views changes the viewed. By merely existing, the Nothing becomes something else. It can change. It can become something else.-
(11:14:35) AdEvaGM: [And when that happens, the universe ceases to exist- it ceases to be infinite. Instead, it simply becomes the space that contains the idea of that viewer, whatever it is.]
(11:21:03) AdEvaPlayer: [Finitude cultivates viewpoints. Viewpoints cultivate more ideas, and eventually, individuals.]
(11:22:54) AdEvaGM: [What was this Individual?]
(12:05:38) AdEvaPlayer: [Seraphiel, He Who Is Shackled To The Ground By The Burden Of His Wings.]
(12:10:20) AdEvaGM: [There was a spark.-
(12:10:45) AdEvaGM: [And… Sound. Like a train, barreling down the tracks…-
(12:11:09) AdEvaGM: [No. It wasn't a train, it was something else, something carrying Seraphiel away from the ground…-
(12:11:38) AdEvaGM: [It was an elevator, the doors sliding open, beckoning those without to enter within.]
(12:12:49) » AdEvaPlayer is now known as Seraphiel
(12:17:19) Seraphiel: He was in the elevator, now, unsure of how he got there, or what would happen next. He wanted to know what was happening outside, if there was someone, or some-thing- else. But he couldn't think of a way to see past the walls.
(12:27:12) AdEvaGM: [The elevator doors slid closed.-
(12:32:25) » AdEvaGM is now known as Elisha
(12:32:36) Elisha: "Where does it begin?" A voice.
(12:38:17) Seraphiel: [On a rooftop in Paris-2, overlooking the Bastille, a boy was crying his heart out. He was all alone.]
(12:43:19) » Elisha is now known as Freya‘Solheim
(12:43:42) Freya`Solheim: Quiet footsteps that he barely heard thanks to those tears, but…-
(12:43:51) Freya`Solheim: "Hey… What’re you doing up here, little kid?"
(12:50:23) Seraphiel: [The child looked up. He was definitely elementary school-aged, but it was hard to make any estimates more accurate than that. It took a while for him to catch his breath and get an intelligible word out, all the while staring at the girl like she was an alien. "I… I, I d-don't knoooooow," he managed to utter before he buried his face in his hands and started crying loudly again.]
(12:53:49) Freya‘Solheim: "…" The girl had short blonde hair and a pale face- her expression was at first simply curious, but it was slowly softening. She walked over to him.-
(12:53:56) Freya`Solheim: "Well, it seems kinda dumb to cry over nothing."
(13:02:46) Seraphiel: [He wiped at his eyes again, trying to stem the flow of tears. Eventually, he managed to look up again. The boy had short black hair and deep blue eyes. He was clad in a plain white shirt and ill-fitting sweatpants. From the size, one could’ve made the assumption they were salvaged from elsewhere… but they were immaculate and wrinkleless, as if they had never before been used. It was a very windy day, especially that high up, and it might've contributed to the boy's shivering in addition to the obvious reason. "A-alone… cold, d-don't know… what I should do…"]
(13:06:56) * Freya‘Solheim was wearing -sensible- clothing. A dark green hoodie over long pants under a thick black skirt. A brown bag was held in her hand, and as she stared out over the distant rooftops of the slowly emerging Paris-2, she reached into her paper bag and pulled out a small clump of fresh, deliciously hot bread and popped it in her mouth.-
(13:07:02) Freya`Solheim: "What do you wanna do?"
(13:08:32) Seraphiel: [The boy grew silent, suddenly. He just stared at the bread and the bag in awe.]
(13:09:32) Freya`Solheim: "Well?" She turned to look at him, then down at her bag.(13:11:45) Seraphiel: ["Wh… What is that..?"]
(13:11:51) Freya`Solheim: "This is bread."
(13:13:17) Seraphiel: ["…It’s… it -smells good-."]
(13:13:56) Freya‘Solheim: "Yeah, that’s 'cause it's fresh and hot." She ripped off a bit more. "You want some?"
(13:16:13) Seraphiel: ["Y-yes!" His hands made a strange motion, like he was going to reach out, but then reconsidered.]
(13:17:05) Freya‘Solheim: "Aheh. Hold on." She held the bag a little away. "This is mine, and it took me some work to get it, you know. So if you want some, you have to do me a favour."
(13:19:03) Seraphiel: ["What you want me to do..?" He said quietly, hopefully. His sniffling had mostly died down by now.]
(13:20:06) Freya`Solheim: "Well, first you have to tell me your name."
(13:22:58) Seraphiel: [The boy was taken aback by that. "N-name..?"]
(13:24:39) Freya`Solheim: "Yeah. What do people call you?"
(13:29:31) Seraphiel: ["S…" He paused to think. "Raphim… Sera? Of Pte… Pterie? Ptere?" He looked up at the girl hopefully, with the face of one who’s wildly unsure of their answer, and afraid of the consequences.]
(13:31:53) * Freya‘Solheim tilted her head. "Huh? Seraofptere?" She frowned.
(13:34:01) Seraphiel: ["I think… It is wrong, isn’t it? I-it is not a name. I am sorry…"]
(13:36:05) Freya‘Solheim: "What? Hold on." Said Freya. "If you say it like this… Sera… De Pteres… It sounds totally like a name."
(13:38:13) Seraphiel: ["It does..? Th-that’s my name, then! Thank you..!" He seemed to have all but forgotten about the bread at this point, in the face of this new dilemma.]
(13:38:36) Freya‘Solheim: "Kinda long though, huh…"
(13:39:11) Seraphiel: ["W-we can make it shorter! I’m sure it'd be alright!"]
(13:42:13) Freya‘Solheim: "Well, Sera doesn’t shorten very well. 'Ser'? 'Se'? But…"-
(13:42:40) Freya‘Solheim: She pondered for a second. "I know! Why don’t we join the first part of your last name and the first part of your first name? 'Sede'.-
(13:42:46) Freya‘Solheim: "… Wait, no, that’s dumb…"
(13:45:24) Seraphiel: ["C-can I be Sept? Does that sound dumb?"]
(13:46:43) Freya‘Solheim: "Sept…?" She pondered it. "Sept. Sept. I kinda like it. It rolls well."
(13:47:56) » Seraphiel is now known as Sept
(13:54:10) * Sept had a radiant smile on his face. "It’s a great name!"
(13:54:32) Freya‘Solheim: "Yeah. Yeah, it is." She held out a clump of bread. "Here you go, Sept."
(13:56:23) * Sept accepted it carefully, but as soon as it was in his hands, he immediately stuffed half of it in his mouth, chewing excitedly.
(13:56:56) Freya`Solheim: "You like it?"
(13:59:40) * Sept nodded repeatedly, afraid to pause for fear of the bread suddenly becoming less delicious. New tears were glimmering in his eyes as he ate, as if he’d never had fresh bread before in his life.
(14:03:27) Freya‘Solheim: "Would you like some more, Sept?"
(14:04:31) Sept: "Yes. What do you want?"
(14:05:06) Freya`Solheim: "Well, getting this bread can be tricky some days. I have to do a lot of work for it." She grinned. "You know, you’ve got a pretty cute face. That could be really helpful in getting us both bread."
(14:08:17) Sept: "We could get -more- bread together?"
(14:09:19) Freya‘Solheim: "Yeah, sure. C’mon, let's get going whilst it's fresh!"
(14:12:18) Sept: "A-alright..!" Sera stumbled to his feet and made for the fire escape, where the girl had come from, and where a world full of delicious, fresh bread no doubt awaited. But before he got there, his eyes found something else. "What is that?" He asked, pointing toward the people thronging around the massive building.
(14:13:04) Freya‘Solheim: "That?" Her eyes followed where he pointed. "Oh, that? That’s the Bastille."
(14:13:25) Sept: "It's beautiful…"
(14:14:53) Freya‘Solheim: "You think so?" Said Freya. "It’s a bit strange, I guess. It used to be this prison or something that everyone hated, but we cleaned it out and now it's special and important."
(14:17:05) Sept: "All those people must be very lucky to see it up close like that…"
(14:17:58) Freya‘Solheim: "Well, it’s not too much to get inside. A little fee, or you can sneak in."
(14:18:40) Sept: "Really..? C-could we do that?"
(14:19:31) Freya‘Solheim: "Yeah, sure!"
(14:21:45) Sept: "Thank you! Let’s go, th- um. Can I… ask you a question?"
(14:23:46) Freya‘Solheim: "Sure."
(14:24:44) Sept: "What should I call you..?"
(14:24:59) Freya`Solheim: "Oh, me?" She grinned.-
(14:25:03) Freya`Solheim: "Freya. Freya Solheim!"
(14:26:51) Sept: "Freya," Sera nodded. "Let’s go find some bread, then, Freya!"-
(14:27:40) » Sept is now known as Seraphiel
(14:29:20) » Freya‘Solheim is now known as Elisha
(14:30:52) Seraphiel: [-The two had found more bread. And they had explored the Bastille. Or, they had tried to. Sera de Pteres had panicked not far into their visit, discovering his acute fear of crowds, and it was all Freya Solheim could do to not lose him in the throng and let the situation turn into something much worse before she could get him away.]
(14:32:12) Elisha: "Fear and loneliness." Said a voice. "So many things to fear, and so many reasons especially to fear loneliness."-
(14:32:19) Elisha: [Back on the elevator, moving slowly along…-
(14:32:37) Elisha: "Would he have been surprised to realise that it was always like this? Even for his predecessor?"
(14:34:32) Seraphiel: "Had he had the capacity to realise he had one… yes."
(14:39:57) * Seraphiel stood lit by the soft light of the elevator, blue, slightly tired eyes gazing out from under a head of short, black hair. He stayed silent as the movement kept on.
(14:46:27) Elisha: [The doors opened, once more…-
(14:59:47) Elisha: Screams and tears. Screams not of pain, but of mindless fear- exposure to some unimagined horror. A bedroom- a child, no older than seven or eight, wearing a simple nightgown, was thrashing about under the covers, screaming.
(15:03:15) Seraphiel: It sounded strangely familiar (not in a pure sensory way, but he -knew- that it did). What could frighten a child so?
(15:07:36) Elisha: [A light appeared as a door opened- standing framed in the light was another boy, a little taller, with blonde hair and familiar blue eyes; a gentle, worried expression on his face. He hurried into the room, sitting on the edge of the bed, reaching out to put his hands on the dreamer’s shoulders. "El, wake up. El, it's alright. It's just a nightmare. El!"-
(15:12:08) Elisha: The boy- El- shook his head frantically, although he seemed to go stock-still as the blonde boy touched him. Stirring, sitting up shakily, he shook his head. "Azariah…" He blurted out, before dissolving into tears.
(15:17:33) Seraphiel: Definitely familiar. Of course, Sera had never dared suspect or hope for something like that. Who would ever have known? The Caines' family life was never documented despite, or because, of the power they held. But the soul of the boy was the same, it seemed like no amount of nurture would change that.
(15:27:19) Elisha: ["What was it, El?" Asked Azariah gently, putting an arm around Elisha's shoulders.-
(15:29:27) Elisha: "It…" Elisha shuffled in close, resting his head gratefully on Azariah's shoulder. "I-I saw that… That mannequin again…"-
(15:29:48) Elisha: ["The one with the hollow eyes?"-
(15:30:05) Elisha: "Y-Yeah… I-It was going to hurt me, and I felt so lonely…"
(15:34:06) Seraphiel: Sera de Pteres wouldn't have taken that as more than well-meaning consolation, and never as truth. But he knew.
(15:42:11) Elisha: ["Well, it's alright. It's just a bad dream, El. It's never going to hurt you."-
(15:42:51) Elisha: "B-But why do I keep having them, Azariah? It's- It's stupid and… It-it isn't something I should -do-."-
(15:44:39) Elisha: ["I can't say, little brother. Maybe you're just… Well, maybe you're just easily spooked, but you just don't like talking about stuff that scares you, so you go to bed all afraid."]
(15:50:19) Seraphiel: It had never really entered either of their minds, had it? To just talk about the hard things they chose to bear. It wouldn't have been their burden to bear, then. It had never been an option.
(15:53:46) Elisha: "Well…" Elisha paused, then shook his head. "I-It's just a stupid dream. I can handle it." He mumbled. "Azariah? I'm hungry. Can we get something to eat?"-
(15:53:53) Elisha: ["To eat? It's nearly midnight."-
(15:54:04) Elisha: "So? I don't care."-
(15:54:24) Elisha: ["… Well, if you say so. Come on, then. After we get you something to eat, I'll take you back to your room."-
(15:54:50) Elisha: "W-Wait. Can't I sleep in your room tonight?" Asked Elisha hopefully. The boy was already sliding off the bed, grabbing a pair of thin glasses off the bedside table.-
(15:55:20) Elisha: ["… Fine." Said Azariah, smiling. "But only because it's you. Let's go."-
(15:55:44) * Elisha nodded, following on. "I'm… I'm glad you were around to help me, Azariah."-
(15:55:54) Elisha: ["I'll try to make it a habit."]
(15:59:13) Seraphiel: But they had both made it through by having the sheer luck to have people who cared about them.
(15:59:49) Elisha: [The image flickered, and vanished, the doors closing.-
(16:00:01) Elisha: "Luck? Is that really all it was?" Asked a voice.
(16:03:31) Seraphiel: "Call it luck, call it charm or destiny, the situation does not change."-
(16:06:08) * Seraphiel adjusted his glasses and frowned. "The hardships may have bred people capable of extraordinary things, but those flaws also ultimately formed the wall, the dead end they both found themselves in. It was, in the end, a losing strategy."
(16:08:41) Elisha: "A dead end- the ultimate result of a life and a half's worth of suffering, of striving?"
(16:12:49) Seraphiel: "Unfortunate, but true. Many things were accomplished, others saved. But compared to all the suffering… not yet enough."
(16:13:34) Elisha: "For that, what -would- have to be accomplished to balance the suffering?"
(16:18:44) Seraphiel: "Absolute victory over all they fought against."
(16:19:23) Elisha: "And is that an unachievable goal?"
(16:21:18) Seraphiel: "For a god? Of course not."
(16:22:08) Elisha: "Then the suffering and defeat of the past may yet still be vindicated in the future."
(16:24:25) Seraphiel: "As long as the memory remains."
(16:25:48) Elisha: "Memory…"-
(16:25:56) Elisha: "Do they fear their enemies?"
(16:28:34) Seraphiel: "Adversity never stopped them. Only the flaws that stemmed from themselves did, hostility or not."
(16:29:59) Elisha: "Flaws…"
(16:36:28) Seraphiel: "Proud, persistent, yet craving attention and guidance. Skewed sense of value. Greedy. Confrontational. All of which are useful qualities if controlled. None of them were."
(16:40:31) Elisha: "If these flaws had been controlled, tempered, how might things have changed?"
(16:44:02) Seraphiel: "Thought the issues might have been minor at first, every one of them saw them overcompensate and inevitably fail in some greater way later on."
(16:45:18) Elisha: "Then the problems lay ever in the roots."-
(16:45:21) Elisha: [The doors opened.]
(16:45:51) » ZackSleep is now known as ZackClass
(16:47:48) Seraphiel: [It was a well-lit alley, but here, far away from the beating heart of Paris-2, no amount of sunlight could drive the rats away.-]
(16:47:52) » Seraphiel is now known as Sept
(16:53:18) * Sept was currently busy yelling at the top of his lungs at a tough-looking young man, somewhat taller than him and maybe a year or two under the age of twenty. Sera was unarmed, the man held a pipe, the likes of which had probably never been used in constructing Paris-2, but had to be ordered with a month's notice from a specialty store or some shit. Possibly because of this, the man had a smug grin on his face as the boy continued his outburst. "I KNOW YOU TOOK IT! I ALREADY HEARD IT FROM YOUR FRIENDS!"
(16:55:34) Elisha: ["Oh yeah? You wanna go ahead and prove that, rooftop rat?" Said the man smugly, unconsciously shifting the hand holding the pipe up so that the pipe rested across both hands.]
(17:02:57) Sept: "WE SAW YOUR GIRL WITH THE PENDANT YESTERDAY! IT WASN'T YOURS, AND IT WASN'T -FOR- HER, AND YOU HAVE TO GET IT BACK TO ME!" Sera took a hurried step closer, and continued glaring.
(17:04:32) Elisha: ["Hmmmmmm." The man seemed thoughtful. "A pendant? Let me think. Silver, was it? With a little, ooh, yes, I think I remember the shape. Sorta like a circle…"]
(17:09:17) * Sept lowered his voice to a more normal level. For now. "Yeah. And it's -mine-."
(17:10:48) Elisha: ["Ssssorry." The man snickered. "It's gone, bud. But hey, if you give me… Let's say, 300 francs, I might be able to find it again, if you know what I mean."]
(17:12:52) Sept: "-What?- You'd have me pay for my own property? No! You'll get it -back to me- by tomorrow!" Another step forward, this time slower.
(17:15:23) Elisha: ["Sorry." The man's eyes were gleaming with a nasty, base light. "Pay or don't. Not my problem."]
(17:20:59) * Sept shuddered with hatred. How dare he do this to him! But shouldn't he have taken better care of the pendant to begin with..? -No-. They couldn't get away with this, it'd never stop, and eventually she'd hear about it… Sera drew a knife from under his shirt. "A finger for every day I don't have it back."
(17:24:01) Elisha: [The man -laughed-.-
(17:26:56) Elisha: ["Oh, you're not serious, are you, little boy?" He said mockingly. "You're threatening -me-? Listen real careful, rooftop rat. I'm -the- Henri of 22nd. The last motherfuckers to mess with me went home missing -legs-, or missing lives. So here, let me give you a bit of advice, real good advice, free of charge- learn when to walk, rooftop rat. Learn when you're beat, when it's better to
(17:26:57) Elisha: swallow your pride and just suck it up. You're only a kid, so I'll let you off easy this time. Why don't you go back to sucking on the Norwegian's tits and leave the adults to it, eh?"]
(17:34:11) * Sept seethed for a moment as the man's words sunk in. Then, he flew at him, screaming. First, he went for the fingers on the hand holding the pipe… but when Henri took an unsteady step back, surprised by the ineffectiveness of his infamy, the boy saw another opportunity. He tackled the man with all his weight, both of them falling to the ground. Henri had managed to raise his pipe in the chaos, and was about to find the back of Sera's head with it… When he instead found a knife in his throat.-
(17:34:53) Sept: Time passed, and things may or may not have happened. Sera remembered none of it afterwards. But he came to sobbing into the shoulder of Freya Solheim, in a place he considered safe.
(17:39:48) » Elisha is now known as Freya‘Solheim
(17:39:59) Freya`Solheim: "Oh, Sept…" Said Freya gently, sympathetically.
(17:44:25) Sept: Suddenly, Sera gasped and looked at her face with an urgent-looking expression. "I have to go back. Th-they have to know, they’re the only ones who c-can make it right again I have to pay don't I-"
(17:45:33) Freya‘Solheim: "Sept." She shook her head. "No, Sept. You’ve paid enough."
(17:49:12) Sept: "Y-you're a liar…" he told her shirt.
(17:50:32) Freya‘Solheim: "Don’t say that." Said Freya quietly. "What would you be getting? What would you be paying with? It's alright, Sept. It's over, alright?"
(17:52:57) Sept: "I k-killed a part of Paris-2. It'll never be the same. Never."
(17:55:11) Freya‘Solheim: "Sept…" She let out a quiet sigh, patted him on the head. "Yes it will. People like that will always exist, Sept, and Paris-2 will just keep on living, no matter whatever happens to them."
(17:58:46) Sept: "I-it’s still not right… I… There has to be something I can do…"-
(17:59:00) » Sept is now known as Seraphiel
(18:01:10) Seraphiel: [And he'd spend several days fasting, desperate for something, anything to punish him. It wasn't out of a conscious effort to stop himself from doing it again. Or, at least, it hadn't worked that way…]
(18:01:28) » Freya‘Solheim is now known as Elisha
(18:01:51) Elisha: "And what was the conclusion that he came to, in the end?"
(18:07:04) Seraphiel: "If there was one… It was that he hadn’t been ready. That he had been too weak. It made him capable of causing enormous grief to a dear friend. But without the proper reasons… He could have destroyed himself."
(18:08:49) Elisha: "A curious conclusion, such as it was. As absolutist as the other, but far more internal."
(18:15:55) * Seraphiel smiled and pushed up his glasses, twirling the knife around in his other hand before making it disappear in its holster again. "As befits the individual, of course."
[20:38] <Elisha> "A divergence, perhaps, but still inextricably linked by their base, extreme natures…"-
[20:39] <Elisha> [The doors to the elevator opened once more, this time into a luxurious living room. A young teenage boy- with glasses, blue eyes, and long black hair that reached to his shoulders- was sitting- or rather, lounging on a chair, a book in his hand, looking utterly unconcerned about anything else…-
[20:39] <Elisha> [… But there was a sound. A rustling, the clinking of glass, and he looked up suddenly, alert.]
[20:45] <Seraphiel> Home invasion? Something more sinister? He knew where this was leading by now, but kept watching passively.
[20:53] * Elisha stood up now, quietly walking over to a thick curtain. There was none of the uncontrolled fury of Sera de Pteres in his actions- each step was measured and careful, but taken with all the confidence of a cat on a thin plank. He pulled the curtain around himself, a knife flicking out of a sleeve…
[20:59] * Seraphiel examined the boy's demeanor and motions carefully, as one might examine a priceless work of art in a museum, with the barest hint of a smile.
[21:00] <Elisha> [The glass window shattered.-
[21:01] <Elisha> [Suspended on a cable, a man dressed like a SpecOps officer swung in, landing quickly. He moved fast, bringing a rifle up and tracing it across the room.-
[21:01] <Elisha> [Within half a second, he would've trained it on the bulge in the curtain, but that was all Elisha needed, springing from the curtain quickly, jabbing the knife into the man's kidneys.-
[21:02] <Elisha> [The man let out a short scream, but before he could turn, Elisha tackled him to the ground, knee in his back, hand around the assassin's neck. He squeezed…]
[21:04] <Seraphiel> Despite all the calmness and calculation earlier… there was something else here. He wasn't using the most efficient way to kill this man, this threat. He was saying something, whether it was to the intruder or himself.
[21:06] <Elisha> It was the actions of a man who, despite having just witnessed an assassin swing into his window… Felt completely safe. He felt as though he had the luxury to take a few more seconds to strangle his attacker slowly. As though the attacker deserved it for his insolence- for daring to think he could hurt Elisha Caine.-
[21:09] <Elisha> [A door burst open, and another assassin stumbled in- and quickly fell to his knees, bleeding of gunshots to the chest. In his wake, Azariah walked through the doorway, ejecting a cartridge from his shotgun. "Why?! Why would you- you -fool-? Is this how you wanted to die?!"]
[21:30] <Seraphiel> But, of course, the most important part was what came after - his reaction to what had, undeniably, come to him naturally only moments earlier.
[21:37] <Elisha> Elisha's hands tightened, and the man's life… Finally slipped away.-
[21:38] <Elisha> He sat there, upon his fallen foe, took his hands away. He stared down at them, as if contemplating something…-
[21:39] <Elisha> "Azariah." Said Elisha quietly. "Azariah, I feel cold."-
[21:40] <Elisha> [Azariah looked up. He'd been reloading his shotgun, but now he paused, his concerns shifting quickly. He ran to Elisha's side. "El? Are you hurt?"-
[21:41] <Elisha> "No. No, I killed him without-" Elisha shook his head. "I killed him, Azariah. It all happened… It was so strange. It was so easy, so quick, as though I weren't even thinking." He pulled out the knife. Elisha's words were calm, but his hands trembled slowly.-
[21:42] <Elisha> ["He was going to kill you." Said Azariah gently, putting a hand on Elisha's shoulder. "It was his choice to come here… You can't blame yourself. You could only do what you had to do." Azariah wasn't looking at Elisha now- he was staring down, blinking away tears.-
[21:42] <Elisha> ["Why? What did we do…? I don't want to die. I don't want to be killed! I haven't -done- anything!"]
[21:52] <Elisha> [Another door opened. This time, Mary Caine stalked through it, hands clutching bloody knives, blood across her face and clothes. None of it her's.-
[21:52] <Elisha> ["I accounted for four. Azariah. How many did you take down?"-
[21:52] <Elisha> ["Two."-
[21:52] <Elisha> [Mary stared coldly at Elisha. "What are you doing?"-
[21:53] * Elisha swallowed, looking up. There was a real fear on his face now, and he couldn't look her in the eye.-
[21:53] <Elisha> "M-Mary, h-he just attacked, and I k-killed him! He made me kill him, but I didn't do anything- why-?"-
[21:55] <Elisha> ["Fool." Snapped Mary. "Haven't you learned yet? It doesn't matter if you did anything or not. There isn't any justice. There's only destiny- you don't need to do anything for things to happen to you. He attacked you. So what? The world is full of dangers like that. Do you think the world cares whether you did anything or not? It doesn't."-
[21:55] * Elisha 's hands tightened. "That's… That's stupid."-
[21:55] <Elisha> [Mary shrugged, cleaning off her knives.-
[21:56] <Elisha> "Didn't you hear me? I said it's stupid!"-
[21:56] <Elisha> ["I don't really care what you think, Elisha."-
[21:56] <Elisha> "Well you should." Said Elisha angrily. "What kind of a place to live is this?! One where you can get attacked by other people for no reason?! I'm- I'm not going to stand for it. If the world is so broken, then it ought to be fixed!"-
[21:56] <Elisha> ["By you?"-
[21:57] * Elisha was quiet as he thought about this, biting his lip- before nodding. "By me."-
[21:57] <Elisha> ["Why you?"-
[21:57] <Elisha> "Why -not- me?!"-
[21:57] <Elisha> [Mary was already nearly out the door. "You aren't strong enough to change the world."-
[21:58] <Elisha> "-!" Elisha glowered. "You- I -am-. Just you watch. I'll change this world and everything in it- it'll never be the same again!"
[21:59] <Seraphiel> Sera de Pteres had always assumed Elisha Caine had all the power he could ever need, so that he could treat everyone as equals, and do the Right Thing. That had been stupid as well. The kind of drive to repair things broken, and to keep safe those still intact, could only begin from a spark, from conflict.
[22:04] <Elisha> [The elevator doors closed…-
[22:08] <Elisha> "And that was what typified Elisha Caine's life. Conflict, not within himself, but with the wider world. The world he tried to change." Said the voice. "So confident he was, so utterly -focused- on that goal, that even the disparate parts of his psyche dissuaded him or kept him from his goal… Even they worked together."
[22:14] <Seraphiel> "A common enemy to unite feuding parties. Not a long-term solution by any scale… but it worked for them. They never had the option to live out casual, calm lives, facing the everyday trials of man. And if they did, they never considered it for a second. And to let the world refuse to change after all that effort… Would be unspeakable."
[22:19] <Elisha> "Decisions that would force other human beings to consider their actions for months or years- he took in seconds. To be so focused- one can be forgiven for expecting nothing but success. How far does that focus go? How much does it -change-?"
[22:28] <Seraphiel> "Such focus can never truly be lost. To leave it aside before death would be to discard everything one has achieved with it." Seraphiel weighed all the data carefully, idly twirling a lock of hair around a finger. "But it can grow wider, encompassing more, never faltering. Remarkable though they both were, neither was enough. The world needs -more-."
[22:33] <Elisha> "More Elisha Caines? Or someone merely to bear his torch?"
[22:36] <Seraphiel> "The torch is irrelevant, now. But its flame may yet fuel another, as may Sera de Pteres'. The world needs a brighter light, one it won't be able to ignore."
[22:39] <Elisha> "The fuel of the old, and the fuel of the new, will create the light needed. But there must be other sources. Other consciences, giving their experiences and strengths to this one idea…"
[22:53] <Seraphiel> "Of course. And somehow, both of them found that. Moths, drawn to their flame… and eventually burned." The doors parted again.-
[22:56] <Seraphiel> [The room's good-to-decent acoustics had never been a point of criticism to him. In fact, after just a few weeks, Sera de Pteres had learned to love that confined space, as well as the people within, to treasure them as something unique, and feared every week that something would change to take it away from him. To take her away. Yet they kept coming back, every time. And together they
[22:56] <Seraphiel> would make wonderful melodies and teach him more beautiful ones each week.]
[23:01] <Elisha> ["How are you going, Sera?" Asked Viviane, sitting next to him, smiling at him shyly, a flute in her hands. "I keep messing up the first crescendo on the Magic Flute- have you heard of that one?"]
[23:09] <Seraphiel> [Sera shook his head. "I don't think so, Viviane. If you could hum it..?" He was quite sure he knew what she was talking about.]
[23:10] <Elisha> ["Well, it's like this-"-
[23:11] <Elisha> [She hummed. "You remember this tune, right?" She pointed out at the orchestra that sat at the centre of the Opera House's grand ampitheatre. "Give them a second. They'll play it, and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. It's such a joyous tune."]
[23:16] <Seraphiel> ["Ah. I think I do, Viviane. But can they make it sound as good as you did..?" It might've been easy to mistake it as a compliment, but knowing the boy, it was probably an honest question. There was little that could ever ruin such an evening.]
[23:19] <Elisha> [Viviane blushed, glancing around the small practice room as though embarrassed someone might overhear. "I-I'm not that good, Sera. B-But if you thought I was, then… Well, t-that'd be wonderful…"]
[23:32] <Seraphiel> "Of course you did, Viviane. And they way they all played with you, it just made it sound even more…" The waves lapped around them, almost drowning out the words as he whispered them. "…beautiful. I love you, Viviane."
[23:40] <Elisha> ["I-I love you too, Sera. Thank you…"-
[23:40] <Elisha> [Closing elevator doors…]
[23:44] <Seraphiel> "But was all that trust necessary? Were his friends, his family worthy of any of it? The boy was let down, betrayed… killed. Would he have ended up somewhere worse had he not trusted Ginevre Fontaine? Would he ever have been in -that- place if he had not trusted Elisha Caine's warning?"
[23:58] <Elisha> "Perhaps. Perhaps not. Who can say? Only what has been observed are we certain upon. And thus one thing is certain: not even death or betrayal was enough to stop Sera de Pteres -or- Elisha Caine from returning to their world."
[00:07] <Seraphiel> "The question is whether or not they can revive the things around them as well. The things that made them great, while leaving their weaknesses behind."
[00:13] <Elisha> "To purge their spirits, to forge new, shining paragons from the crucible."
[00:19] * Seraphiel patted the thin woodwind in an inside chest pocket. "To keep safe the memories of those gone, until they may return by their own strength."
[00:21] <Elisha> "And to lead those who dedicated their lives to them- to guide the faithful once more."-
[00:21] <Elisha> [The doors opened…-
[00:23] <Elisha> [Ginevre Fontaine, so much younger than he'd seen her. Sitting on a chair, her hair shiny and long and clean… Her face was gentler and calmer than he could ever remember being.]
[00:36] <Seraphiel> Of course. Sera de Pteres had avoided thinking about it too much. About whether the changes to her personality had been through all the trauma, or her bond with Elisha Caine.
[00:42] <Elisha> "I knew you'd come." Said Elisha, walking over to her. He sat down opposite her, a neat table with a white cloth separating them.-
[00:43] <Elisha> He was tall, and very handsome, with clear blue eyes and long, well-kept black hair.-
[00:44] <Elisha> [Ginevre smiled, her cheeks flushing lightly. "I couldn't say no. Not that I think this is a great idea mind, but…"-
[00:44] * Elisha shifted a little, now, patting the hook that hung over the balcony railing. "I couldn't stay away."
[00:49] <Seraphiel> All that came as second nature to Caine. De Pteres tried to actively avoid manipulating others, even if it was for something as simple as forming a relationship.
[00:55] <Elisha> [Ginevre emerged, dressed in mildly embarrassing woollen pyjamas. "Did you really…? It must be about sixty feet, you fool. What were you doing? You could've gotten yourself hurt!"-
[00:56] <Elisha> "So?"-
[00:57] <Elisha> He smiled, putting his arms around her. The coolness of the sea air, the feel of the beach sand beneath his feet. "I'd suffer any pain to reach you, to be with you, to give you the world you deserve."-
[00:57] <Elisha> And he meant it.
[01:06] <Seraphiel> They did, didn't they? And no obstacles - least of all physical ones - would be impossible to overcome for them. The grappling hook, custom-built for Sera de Pteres' weight and stature… He'd overcome great difficulties for something he cared about deeply.
[01:10] <Elisha> "Which begs the question… Do they do this for some abstract ideal? Or for the far more human emotion of love? What is their motivation, in the end?"
[01:13] <Seraphiel> "To keep those they treasure away from harm - "Love" is as good a word as any. And maybe, just maybe, if they work hard enough and everything else is done, they'll be able to redeem themselves in the end, too."
[01:14] <Elisha> "And thus they go from selfishness and egotism to selflessness and altruism. The pathway of life is incomplete without that crucial step."
[01:19] <Seraphiel> "Yet, how far down that path would they have gone when the very things they treasured would have started to become obstacles themselves?"
[01:22] <Elisha> [The doors opened…-
[01:26] <Elisha> [Yanmei, her eyes hurt, but also furious, a horrified and sobbing Isaiah at her side…-
[01:30] <Elisha> [Viviane, in the cockpit of a T-RIDEN-T, her face twisted into hatred, tears streaming from her eyes as she cut down Sera's allies…-
[01:31] <Elisha> [Ginevre, raising her pistol as Sera walked away- and unloading six shoots into his back.]
[01:39] <Seraphiel> "Yet, each time his reaction was the same. He was truly ready to pay anything they could wish for. He accepted the past, never regretting or rationalising it away. He only felt pity for the pain the others had to bear, no matter who it was caused by. He never asked Ginevre Fontaine why she had shot him. As the light of the world faded around him, all he wanted her to know was that it would
[01:39] <Seraphiel> be alright."
[01:42] <Elisha> "And it would be alright." Said the voice. "Elisha Caine was watching over him."
[01:49] <Seraphiel> "He came through in the end. A fitting end to a story, in my eyes. It wasn't the first time he'd tried, after all. Just a final little bit of justice, to reward his efforts in the end."
[01:55] <Elisha> "End?"-
[01:56] <Elisha> "He is a scion of Caine, the first child of the new world. This is no end. For him, unseen, unobserved, exist one million futures."
[01:58] <Seraphiel> "Such is the nature of stories. Though one may end, a reiteration, a retelling, a reimaiging will always arise."
[02:14] <Elisha> "And thus does the story grow…"-
[02:14] <Elisha> [The elevator doors opened.]
[02:22] <Seraphiel> ["Look, how important could this company be, Freya? They're just some backwater replacement part supplier. Why would I spend time listening to what they have to say?" Chairman de Pteres strolled down the hallway, briefly stopping to swipe a glass of champagne off a secretary on the way to a separate meeting. He downed it in one go. "We still control most of the Euro-American industries.
[02:22] <Seraphiel> Wouldn't you say that's enough?" It was, mostly, a rhetorical question. There was always more to fix, more territories to take from less skilled and perceptive men.]
[02:28] <Elisha> ["You're absolutely right, chairman." Freya followed after, wearing a sharp business suit. "But they have strong profit margins, and good potential for growth. Just like Unity Corp did before you took over."]
[02:29] <Seraphiel> "And we can't just let them develop on their own because..?"
[02:30] <Elisha> ["Because then their money wouldn't be our money, obviously. Besides, I'm sure Unity Corp could funnel a lot of money into it to boost growth."]
[02:32] <Seraphiel> "It feels like cheating if we just grow our own sibling companies," Sera remarked glumly.
[02:33] <Elisha> ["Oh, Sept." Freya grinned, shaking her head. "You want to give them their own two-feet chance, huh?"]
[02:36] <Seraphiel> "Yes! And then we could set up competitors for them under different names and train the hell out of them through deviously designed market events, and-"
[02:38] <Elisha> ["Seeeept." Freya frowned. "That's going to cost a -lot- of money…"]
[02:40] <Seraphiel> "But they'll be so much better for it! If they're just starting, they haven't had time to experience anything, don't you know national -and- corporate identities are forged in defeat? And -then- we can buy them, when they have a bit of pride and -character-!"
[02:44] <Elisha> ["… Alright, if you say so. Come on, they're just this way-"]
[02:56] <Seraphiel> "Right, right," he muttered as he took a breath before opening the door. "Hello. Sorry for the misunderstanding, and you've come such a long way, but I'm afraid Unity isn't looking for partners in your are-"-
[02:59] <Elisha> ["Ah, Mr. de Pteres." A loud, booming voice cut across his. "We were wondering when you'd show up. Here's the deal. You want us as part of your corporation- well, we want investments if you want us. Investments equal to our entire profit margin for the first 5 years. And after that, we want assurances that you'll cover any potential deficits we might incur."]
[03:06] <Seraphiel> "Oh? Those are pretty steep terms. What makes you think we have any need of upstarts like you?"-
[03:11] <Seraphiel> ["Because you and your tendrils should've been backing out of Asia more than a year ago! Your designs and practices have grown stagnant, and the market is starting to realise that. Your time is over, and your only choice is whether you want to aid us in exerting control over it, or allow chaos to rule the continent, like it was before your company came along. We will retain complete autonomy
[03:11] <Seraphiel> in decisions within our geographical borders, however. This is the closest you'll get to having a share of the market in our land."-]
[03:12] <Seraphiel> "Oh?" Sera repeated, this time with the faintest smile. "Freya, could you cancel the next one? This could take a while." He leaned forward and let himself grin wider. "Let's negotiate."
[03:17] <Elisha> [The doors closed…-
[03:17] <Elisha> "Just one of many potential futures…"
[03:19] <Seraphiel> "Great influence, direct and indirect, over most lands inhabited by man. Yet so often devoid of meaning. It does not feel like a solution. It feels like a desperate replacement of what once was."
[03:23] <Elisha> "The institutions of man are little replacement for the glory of godhood. It is a choice between glory and peace, and for some that is no choice at all."
[03:28] <Seraphiel> "But could he really be content without Evangelion, now, were he to devote more effort to it?"
[03:36] <Elisha> "Perhaps. What is it that drives him towards Evangelion?"
[03:43] <Seraphiel> "Elisha Caine. The power to change the world, to not have to settle with repairing singular problems one at a time. The thrill of battle. His friends. The biggest issue is - can he live with not feeling the world get better, without evil sinking its literal fangs into his skin on a regular basis?"
[03:44] <Elisha> "Of course he can. He can grow, he can adapt. He will find some other way to combat evil, to put his fingers to the pulse of the world."
[03:46] <Seraphiel> "Possible, but how likely?"
[03:55] <Elisha> "That is uncertain…"
[04:05] <Seraphiel> "It is a path he wouldn't be able to face alone. That much is certain." The doors again.-
[04:11] <Seraphiel> [The wind was strong so high up, and easily drowned out the noises of the harnesses as they descended down the side of the skyscraper. The familiar lights and noises of the Paris-2 nightlife spread out far below them. "We'll end it here, where it began. W, any movement inside?"-
[04:11] <Seraphiel> ["We established I'd tell you if there was, knock it off."-]
[04:12] <Seraphiel> [Sept sighed. "Ready, Viviane?" He nodded to his side, where his partner waited.]
[04:14] <Elisha> [Next to him, mostly shrouded in the shadows, Viviane nodded.]
[04:19] <Seraphiel> ["Just remember what Asuka taught you, and you'll be fine." Sera counted down from three with his fingers, and jumped off the wall while loosening the rope, propelling him toward a lower-floor window. "DAINAMIKKU-!"]
[04:20] <Elisha> [And right behind him was Viviane. "-ENTORI!"-
[04:20] <Elisha> [The window shattered- smashed into a million pieces, moonlight reflecting palely off of the shards.]
[04:24] <Seraphiel> [The two of them tumbled inside. "We're inside. Look for the safe, start at W's predic-" "I don't predict, I know." "Start there. I'll secure the-" A faint sound caught his attention, suddenly. "Wait. Something's wrong."]
[04:26] <Elisha> [Viviane rolled into a shadowy corner, knife out. She gave him a questioning look.]
[04:34] <Seraphiel> ["How did you know we were onto you, Malachi? Was it Brazil? Or Hong Kong?" He asked the darkness.]
[04:35] <Elisha> [Clap. Clap. Clap. A vague outline of a man was hidden in the shadows.-
[04:38] <Elisha> ["You haven't changed, de Pteres. Or what is it do they call you, now? The Twilight Star? When I saw what you did in Hong Kong I knew immediately who it was."]
[04:42] <Seraphiel> ["You got that one for free. You'll have to fight the rest of the way. Come out so we can settle this."]
[04:43] <Elisha> ["Fine, as you w-"-
[04:44] <Elisha> [A bright beam of maser energy burst a hole into the floor at Sera's foot- then another, then another.]
[04:47] <Seraphiel> [Sera took a step back, ready for more incoming fire. "Hey! What the hell was that?"]
[04:50] <Elisha> ["I went out of my way to replace my eye…" A face emerged now, a gleaming digital Maser-eye emerging from what was once an empty socket.-
[04:50] <Elisha> ["My looks -can- kill!" Bursts of energy-!]
[04:57] <Seraphiel> [Sera tumbled to the side once, twice - and finally behind a table. It would only give him cover for a second or two. But it'd be enough. He was hoping he wouldn't have to use it here. "Anselme! Now!"]
[04:59] <Elisha> [A pulse of mas energy from Malachi's eye…-
[05:00] <Elisha> [… Meant he didn't see the pulse coming towards him. It hit him square in the eye, which shorted out, sending Malachi stumbling back in pian.-
[05:05] <Elisha> [From the building over, barely visible in his little alcove, was the 14 year old Anselme Desrosiers, cradling a Long Mas. "Gotcha."]
[05:06] <Seraphiel> ["Thanks. Viviane, do you have the safe?"]
[05:07] <Elisha> ["I have it. It's all ours."]
[05:12] <Seraphiel> ["No, there's one more thing. We won't have to crack it. He could think we're bluffing if he doesn't think we can get it open. W, I'm putting you on the speaker. Parlor scene's all set up."-]
[05:14] <Seraphiel> [Not even the static crackling of their encrypted communications could mask the glee dripping from W's voice. "Well, you see, what we learned about your safe in Rio was that you had several layers of codes."-]
[05:18] <Seraphiel> ["And in Hong Kong, you got as sloppy as my guys did, and we learned two of those layers were fake and would instantly incinerate the contents. Now, of the two remaining layers, one was a breeze since I'd cracked the code in your old St. Louis editorials before we even started looking for your safe. And the numeral key… Let's just say I had a hunch. I saw what you did there, with Fermat
[05:18] <Seraphiel> and whatnot. I used the same joke on my case way back. So you know you got beat by the best. Don't feel bad, it happens to everyone else. W…" He savored the pause. "out."]
[05:31] <Seraphiel> [And so it was that the safe clicked open. Saved them the trouble of carrying something so heavy out with them, too. Viviane took out the papers and the key… and stopped. The safe had made a 'beep' sound. A second passed. It did it again. "OUT, NOW!" Sera yelled, and made for the windows.]
[05:36] <Elisha> [Viviane -bolted-. For a second it didn't seem as though she'd make it…-
[05:36] <Elisha> [But a quick grab of the rope, and she swung, just as the bomb…]
[05:43] <Seraphiel> [Sera leapt straight through the closest window, turning around in the air and firing the grappling hook at a lower-level window. But as the bomb went off, the blast wave shook the cable loose, sending Sera plummeting down. He saw the shards of glass and wall tumbling through the sky above him, mingling with the stars…]
[05:47] <Elisha> ["Sera! Sera -no-" Viviane swung, trying to shoot her hook at his cable- it caught, only to sever it completely…-
[05:48] <Elisha> [Anselme had to fight the urge to dive, to save him on instinct, knowing full well it'd only lead to a grisly death with Sera as a mattress.]
[05:51] <Seraphiel> [The voice on the radio flared to life again, badly broken up by the wind, but barely intelligible. "Lis…n…We……t..him….got him…on't be ab….to threate…yone else…"-]
[05:52] <Seraphiel> ["…be..alr..t…now."] And there was silence once more above Paris-2.
[05:57] <Elisha> [The doors closed…-
[05:57] <Elisha> "Is this such a life?"
[06:01] <Seraphiel> "He would enjoy it, certainly. But is it a solution, or a dream? Does it really matter?"
[21:31] <Elisha> "The future can shape just as the past. Many people base themselves on what might happen or on what they might want in the future."
[21:40] <Seraphiel> "Or what others might -not- want. To deny destiny is enough of an accomplishment for many."
[21:42] <Elisha> "Then if that is so, then any path chosen is as valid as the others regardless of the life lived before the path is chosen, so long as the choice is made freely."
[21:51] <Seraphiel> "No one has an obligation to do any of the things that have been done here, nor to carry them for those gone before. His path is of great importance. But the choice must remain open."
[21:59] <Elisha> "Much of that importance comes from the strength of that choice, to do as he sees fit…"-
[21:59] <Elisha> [The doors opened…]
[22:08] <Seraphiel> ["Freya? Are we ready to open?"]
[22:10] <Elisha> ["Mmmhmm! Just a-" Freya finished her last knot on her apron. "There we are!"]
[22:17] <Seraphiel> ["Right! Here's for another succesful week!" Sera marched to the door and thrust it open, letting the lack of customers flow in.-]
[22:21] <Seraphiel> [The Boulangerie de Guillaume was the only bakery in the northern French hamlet, so one might've assumed there would be more business to be found. Yet Sera de Pteres and Freya Solheim were barely making enough money for a profit. Making ends meet was not difficult - the rent was low enough and running a bakery made sure they had plenty to eat. It was a comfortable living, all told.]
[22:23] <Elisha> ["Ah, nothing like the smell of untouched bread in the morning. Seriously, who needs customers anyway?"]
[22:29] <Seraphiel> ["Not us~ It's a Monday, anyway, so it's alright. It should pick up around noon. We can rest until then!"-]
[22:35] <Seraphiel> [Still, a few customers stopped by throughout the morning, as well as a couple of social calls. The people of the town had been quite polite and quick to befriend the newcomers - and a young couple moving in was a rarity in these places, anyway. Sure enough, several more people turned up around noon, and after a few hours, it was quiet again. Sera was spending time in the back of the shop,
[22:35] <Seraphiel> leaning through a window overlooking the neighbouring woods, relaxing in the fresh breeze.]
[22:42] <Yanmei> The door opened with the usual chime. More customers? A very young voice was talking on the way in… something about cupcakes.
[22:46] <Seraphiel> [A short pause, then approaching steps, and an energetic voice. "Heyyy welcome how can I hellllllo." He almost stumbled as he came through the doorway, then just stood there, stunned. "Hello," he repeated weakly.]
[22:53] * Yanmei smiled at him. It was a fair cry from the sort of smile that occassionally made its way into the political section of the daily news, or the NERV brand advertisements that made it onto billboards and passing buses.-
[22:59] <Yanmei> It was… soft, vaguely nostalgic, maybe even a little awkward in its own way. She was dressed down today too - cropped khaki pants, sleeveless violet blouse, gym shoes. Her hair hung freely, having long-ago been freed from pigtails for professional reasons. -
[23:01] <Yanmei> There was a little girl with her, perhaps 6 or 7 years old, blonde curly hair, simple blue dress with band-aids on her knees. She was still going on about cupcakes, and the best type of frosting to put on them, which was obviously blue. "Hi Sera," Yanmei said at last, and the kid fell briefly silent. "Been a long time?"
[23:09] <Seraphiel> ["Yes? I mean, yes. Hi, Yanmei." As he regained his senses, a guilty expression appeared on his face for a moment, until he caught himself. "Cupcakes," he said. "Come on in. Or should we go out? It's a nice day, so we can use the tables outside. Go ahead, we'll be right with you…"]
[23:12] <Yanmei> "Mm." Yanmei nodded, and took a backward step. "He's parking the car now, but I hope you won't mind if someone else joins us?"
[23:19] <Seraphiel> [Sera paused for just a moment. "No, of course not," he smiled, and disappeared into the back room again. He took a few deep breaths and waited for the guests to clear out. With Freya's help, he collected a wide assortment of baked goods and a few drinks. Then, he swept outside with the trays. "Sorry for the wait, guys, I hope these'll be enough…"]
[23:27] <Yanmei> The little girl beamed at the trays, but remembered her manners long enough to utter a 'thank you' before reaching for it. Yanmei was a little more subdued now… and there was a third person with them too.
[23:29] <Elisha> [He'd just finished parking the car, dressed in a neat button-up white shirt, long black trousers and a cream overcoat. Bright blue eyes, and a head of bright blonde curls- clear, fresh skin. "It's been awhile, Sera."]
[23:36] <Seraphiel> [He turned to face the newcomer with a smile. "It has. Good to see you doing so well." He offered a hand as Isaiah approached.]
[23:37] <Elisha> [Isaiah shook it. "The same. Is this your place? This is incredible…"-
[23:38] <Elisha> [Freya looked up from where she'd been edging cupcakes towards the girl. "Hey, Isaiah! You're looking -well-~"-
[23:38] <Elisha> ["The same to you, Freya."]
[23:42] <Seraphiel> ["Incredible?" Sera laughed. "Thanks. But compared to how you live… It really isn't much, is it? Sit, sit." Sera offered the man a chair while taking up two others with Freya, and proceeding to nibble on a croissant while idly enjoying the enthusiasm the girl displayed toward the pastries.]
[23:45] * Yanmei coughed delicately, edging slightly toward Isaiah. Now that handshakes and greetings had been exchanged without incident, she was looking a little more relaxed. "By the way… You guys always seemed to be in love with Paris. When we heard that you came all the way out here, it was kind of a surprise? What made you do it?"
[23:52] <Seraphiel> ["Mm." Sera's expression changed a bit. "Somewhere along the line I just realised… I had too much in Paris. It was a lot of things to drag around, in the end. I had no reason to carry that weight anymore." He paused.-]
[23:53] <Seraphiel> ["Viviane still visits," he remarked in a lighter tone, hoping to salvage the conversation. He nodded toward the wall, where a poster advertising Lady Fournier's latest tour hanged by all the worn and tattered lost-and-found notices.]
[23:58] <Yanmei> "Does she? That's great! She must get so tired travelling all the time. This seems like a nice place to take a break?"
[00:01] <Seraphiel> ["That's exactly what it is. Is that what you're doing here? Taking a break? I'm sure even you've got to feel like you're burning out every now and then."]
[00:11] <Yanmei> "It's something like that, yeah. I'm actually a little envious of you guys?" Yanmei reached for a drink. "I have a few more debts that I need to settle before I can settle in a laid-back place like this. President Mazarin, by the way, sends his regards."
[00:17] <Seraphiel> ["I'm sure he does." Sept managed to keep most of the enmity from his voice, though it still sounded somewhat flat. "You could try to be more subtle, you know. At least when Jeanne's here, she pretends to be a tourist from a different country every time. But with some of the others, it's like they aren't even trying."]
[00:23] <Yanmei> "Ah…" Yanmei rubbed the back of her neck, a decidedly un-elegant gesture for a seemingly elegant woman. "It's something that crossed my mind, but it was, like… 'wouldn't it be weird to see him after all this time while pretending to be someone else?' Maybe they're thinking the same things too."
[00:26] <Seraphiel> ["I guess. So how are the two- I guess three of you, doing? -Really-."]
[00:32] <Yanmei> "We get by. Isn't that right?" She smiled at Isaiah. "Sometimes it's hard to see each other when we want to, but we try. Isaiah's hours at the hospital have gotten a lot more flexible lately, and I haven't had to go overseas for a few weeks, so that helps. Outings like these are… really special, you know?"
[00:33] <Elisha> [Isaiah beamed, reaching out to stroke the little girl's hair. "Something to treasure."]
[00:38] <Seraphiel> ["I -don't- know, really. But this is a good place to do that, in any case. If there's anything you need to know about the place, I can probably help you with it."]
[00:47] <Yanmei> "Thank you, Sera." Yanmei smiled at him, and at Freya too. "We'll do the same, as far as any questions or news about Paris is concerned. Any hotels that you could recommend?"
[00:58] <Seraphiel> [He tapped on the table for a moment. "I'll have to get a map, but I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding a room or two, this time of year. Hmm.-"]
[00:58] <Seraphiel> ["You're -really- here on vacation, not to ask for my help with something?"]
[01:01] * Yanmei looked surprised, and then a little wounded. "Is that what you think this is about? There aren't any hidden motives here. We just wanted to see how you were doing."
[01:06] <Seraphiel> ["Oh, no, I didn't mean you'd… sometimes I think it'd be fun to get back. You know."]
[01:12] <Yanmei> "Oh! Oh… I thought you were pretty happy here, though?"
[01:17] <Seraphiel> ["Of course I am. But… it's not a matter of 'happy' or 'satisfied'. You were there. I learned I could soar, and now I have to concentrate on being able to walk." He breathed a short sigh and waved a hand dismissively. "Nevermind. I shouldn't be talking about that. I've got a lot here."]
[01:18] <Elisha> [Freya gave him a worried sidelong look.]
[01:26] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei blinked and then sat back in her chair thoughtfully. "Would you like to attend an event that I'm throwing this month? It's for charity. Non-formal. There will be music involved. What do you say, de Pteres?"
[01:31] <Seraphiel> [Sera made a difficult face. "I'd like to say yes, but… I'll have to think about it, Yanmei. Anyone attending I'd know?"]
[01:36] <Yanmei> "A few. Mr. Alexandre Fontaine will be in attendance, among others."-
[01:37] <Yanmei> "Mr. Jerkface~" sang the little girl.-
[01:38] <Yanmei> Her mother went briefly red, and laughed. "W-where do kids come up with this stuff? That's not very nice, honey."
[01:40] <Elisha> [Isaiah snorted, leaning over. "Your best widdle friend Oscar will be there, sweetie~"]
[01:41] <Seraphiel> ["Look at you, all mature and adult-y," Sera laughed. "Oscar?"]
[01:47] <Yanmei> "Alex's son," she whispered. "Cute little kid, but it seems like inherited a few tendencies from Asuka…"
[01:55] <Seraphiel> ["At least it's just a few, though? I'm sure he can't be -that- bad…"]
[01:55] <Seraphiel> ["Now, about those hotels…"-]
[02:01] <Seraphiel> [And the night continued, with potentially awkward reminiscing mostly avoided mostly through the power of common acquaintances. Slightly more potent drinks were shared, and the guests were led to their accommodations. Sera refused to make any promises about showing up, for now, out of genuine indecision. If he went and ended up being swept back into those circles and that dance, would it
[02:01] <Seraphiel> invalidate all he had here? And what about just letting Yanmei down? She was the one who had come all this way, deliberately or not, and offered him that chance. They were not good choices.-]
[02:02] <Seraphiel> [The doors slid shut once more. But they were choices, and that's what he had wanted.]
[02:03] <Elisha> "There is something missing."
[02:14] <Seraphiel> "Many important paths are forever left in the shadows, but one more stands out."
[02:18] <Elisha> "The absolute path."-
[02:18] <Elisha> [The elevator doors opened…-
[02:18] <Elisha> [Into nothingness.]
[02:22] <Seraphiel> To where it began. "How?"
[02:28] <Elisha> "The ultimate sacrifice, laid out at genesis."-
[02:28] <Elisha> [Within the nothingness, a spark of light appeared.]
[02:35] * Seraphiel shied away from the light briefly, but tried to approach, eyes squinting.
[02:36] <Elisha> [The light glowed, growing brighter and brighter, until… Quite suddenly, it engulfed Seraphiel completely.-
[02:37] <Elisha> [The elevator vanished. All around him was simply light.]
[02:43] * Seraphiel resisted the temptation to call out or question the circumstances. Instead, he waited.
[02:44] <Elisha> "The absolute end."-
[02:44] <Elisha> "No matter the path you take."-
[02:45] <Elisha> "Began here, and it ends here."-
[02:45] <Elisha> "You were…"-
[02:45] <Elisha> "You always will be…"-
[02:46] <Elisha> "Elisha Caine."
[02:56] <Seraphiel> "Nothing is static. Not even Elisha Caine. The only path it may be, but there is enough still shrouded in shadow."
[02:58] <Elisha> "Shrouded, it is."-
[02:58] <Elisha> "It falls to us to ensure this inevitability."-
[03:00] <Elisha> "The Flesh of Lilith."-
[03:00] <Elisha> "The Soul of Mankind."-
[03:00] <Elisha> "Master of none."-
[03:00] <Elisha> "Falls only to God itself."-
[03:01] <Elisha> "Requires all elements…"-
[03:01] <Elisha> "Unified once more."-
[03:01] <Elisha> "The Zeroth Angel."-
[03:01] <Elisha> "Lucifer."
[03:09] <Seraphiel> "Or the world may never be pried off its course. And that's why changing it at this juncture is inevitable."
[03:12] <Elisha> "The great inevitability…"-
[03:14] <Elisha> "It all relies on this reunion."-
[03:14] <Elisha> "Create something greater than the sum of its parts, even before division."
[03:23] <Seraphiel> "Yet the inevitable will not be easy. Many will stand in our way."
[03:24] <Elisha> "And thus here we are."-
[03:24] <Elisha> "A chance to remake yourself."-
[03:24] <Elisha> "But what you need to be."-
[03:25] <Elisha> "To ensure our place."
[03:28] <Seraphiel> "This time, Sera de Pteres will be ready for it."
[17:56] <Ayanami‘Juu> "Affirm yourself."
[17:56] <Ayanami`Juu> []*
[18:23] <Seraphiel> "I am Seraphiel, the one who is destined to reunite the stray pieces. I will be Sera de Pteres, protector of Earth, but more than that, protector of his own - of his land, of his friends and property. I will exert my influence over the events that are to shape the new world. I will make right the wrongs left behind by the mistakes of Elisha Caine and Sera de Pteres." Seraphiel prepared
[18:23] <Seraphiel> himself, dusting what could only be assumed to be void dust off his coat, and adjusting his glasses. He stood somewhat taller than Sera de Pteres had, now, and his hair still hung at the comfortable length Elisha Caine had enjoyed his. But very little about him made one think of the calculating man of great speeches Caine had been known as for so long. He -would- be Sera de Pteres. Perhaps
[18:24] <Seraphiel> more than he had ever been. "I will be free."
[18:42] <Ayanami`Juu> "Then be free. Let your wings chain you down no longer."-
[18:42] <Ayanami`Juu> [A door appeared, floating in the void. Everything went dark- but the door itself glowed with light.]
[18:47] * Seraphiel thought he could hear, or -know-, music beyond the door. One more look across the vast void… and he flung it open.
[18:53] <Ayanami`Juu> [Light flowed out, enveloping him, filling the void irrevocably with existence. Beneath Seraphiel’s feet, grass grew, flowers bloomed; as the light spread out, trees shot up out of the soil. The light flowed through the sky, leaving stars in its wake, shining down on the virgin earth. It left rivers flowing behind it as it trailed over the ground. This was the new world, the world of creation- the world of the future. This was the secret ever distant in the souls of humanity- the existence of the ever-present Paradise.-
[18:54] <Ayanami‘Juu> [A glowing hand reached out of that nexus of light, held out to him.]
[19:01] <Seraphiel> "Walk peacefully on heaven’s streets. You've served your time in hell," Seraphiel said to the memories of the ones gone before him. He took hold of the hand. "I'll see this through to the end."
[19:03] <Ayanami‘Juu> [It was an action that was so simple, but the thought of it and its execution seemed to stretch out across all eternity. As he took hold of the hand, it vanished-
[19:04] <Ayanami`Juu> [The world behind him fell away as he was ripped into that glowing rift, from the plains of Paradise…-
[19:05] <Ayanami`Juu> [From a realm where he was God, to a realm where he was, for now, just one single small organism amongst the glimmering trillion trillion stars of the Universe.-
[19:05] <Ayanami`Juu> [… Beneath him, something felt cold and hard. He couldn’t see, and he felt moist and damp…]
[19:10] * Seraphiel stirred. He didn't have much time, and needed a way out. He tried to get up, find his feet.
[19:11] <Ayanami‘Juu> ["-A?" Vague voices were around him. He could feel as though someone was there, but…-
[19:11] <Ayanami`Juu> [His body felt numb, but it slowly started to respond to his movements. He slipped and fell hard.]
[19:13] * Seraphiel tried to curse, ignoring the pain, hoping it’d wake his body up enough to get..! Out..! Before…
[19:14] <Ayanami‘Juu> ["-Era!" Someone reached out. He felt warmth on his shoulder, someone’s hand…]
[19:17] * Seraphiel supported himself on the stranger as well as he could, still trying to make his way out, away, anywhere. He needed space to remember - he couldn't afford to forget - what exactly was it..?
[19:19] <Ayanami‘Juu> [Something was wrapped around him. A towel. "Sera…" His vision was starting to clear, barely- he could see a blur, a person, a crop of blonde hair… He was being led away somewhere.]
[19:21] <Seraphiel> "No," he protested. "Wait. Not yet." Images - too many to make sense of - if he could just hold on to a few…
[19:25] <Ayanami`Juu> [In some ways it felt like a dream, like he was trying to hold water in cupped hands.-
[19:25] <Ayanami`Juu> ["You’re alright, Sera. You're safe." He was being lowered onto something- a stretcher…]
[19:30] <Seraphiel> "'Safe'..?" No, he had to concentrate, he'd remembered his dreams before. When Elisha had showed him… When… And then, it was all gone. "Too late…" Sera de Pteres closed his eyes, and gave up on trying to be someone else.

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