Regret is forever. Across Time, across your lives, across all the deaths and the hate and despair, and the love and the hope... Regret is forever. You've carried regret with you. Lots of regrets, and the pile only grows bigger. This is one you can add, you think. He's starting to sweat, one hundred fifty minutes in, and you know he'll break eventually. It's only a matter of time. But you'll regret it.You'll regret making a grown man sob for his mother, like a ten year old boy. You'll regret breaking someone that went into battle with you, and even for the briefest of moments, helped you carry the millstone around your neck. But it needs done.Through your blood-stained history, your blood-stained hands, and the years, you've done a lot of things you regret. But this, you think, this might be one of the things you regret most. Wiping Beijing and Moscow off the map with thermonuclear fire, fifteen lives ago? That's a regret. But not a big one, not like when you made love to Mari and then smothered her with a pillow, thirty-three lives and deaths ago. You know what the end of the world is. It's not bad men, laughing as civilization crumbles, humanity burns, and the innocent die in droves. It's good men, or even bad men with a sense of right and wrong and when to apply it, it's good men doing nothing. Or, you know, deep in your heart of hearts, doing everything they possibly can, because they think it's the right thing.
So four hours ago, you were sitting in a hospital waiting room in the Geofront, waiting for someone to give you an update on the kids. It never came. Finally, bored, you headed deep into the heart of the Geofront, where only prisoners and their captors and interrogators go. Sitting across the blank metal table, in blank metal chairs, in the blank metal room, is Smith. Peter Smith, First Lieutenant in the US Army, Counter-Intelligence, before his medical discharge. Twenty-seven years of age, decorated three times for valor during the Impact Wars, and he tried to smother you with your pillow, in Nevada, while a fourteen year old girl slept across the room from you.He knows you could break every bone in his body, but you haven't. You could water board him, hook his testicles up to a car battery, pull his fingernails from his fingers, flay him within an inch of his life. Instead, you sat across from him, and simply stared. And it's getting to him. He's sweating harder, now, while you ponder the paradox of good men standing by and doing nothing, or worse, doing horrible, monstrous things, in the pursuit of 'the right thing'.So you sit. And you stare into his eyes, but not really seeing anything, because you're lost, lost in memories of fire and ash and love, love that's thrown you into a crucible again and again, striving for something intangible, something ~better~ for the children you'd come to love.Finally, he breaks. “I'll talk, damn your Irish eyes. I'll talk.” Keep staring. You want him to spill his fucking guts about everything, and if he's going to do that, he's gotta start talking on his own. “Why, Smith? Why? I trusted you with my flank, and I almost get smothered for my troubles.”Write-in.
>>35590510>[X] Keep staring. You want him to spill his fucking guts about everything, and if he's going to do that, he's gotta start talking on his own.ALL THE WAY THROUGH
>>35590510> Keep staring. You want him to spill his fucking guts about everything, and if he's going to do that, he's gotta start talking on his own.
>>35590510>[X] Keep staring. You want him to spill his fucking guts about everything, and if he's going to do that, he's gotta start talking on his own.
> Keep staring. You want him to spill his fucking guts about everything, and if he's going to do that, he's gotta start talking on his own.
Your phone begins buzzing in the breast pocket of your gray suit coat, and you ignore it. Smith's eyes flick to your chest, and then back to your eyes. You haven't moved an inch in one hundred and sixty-six minutes, now, and your muscles want to tremble. You ignore the signals your body is sending you, the phone buzzing in your pocket, the sweat slowly trickling down the side of your face.“Turn up the heat,” you had ordered the gunbull outside, before entering yourself, and you both were feeling it. Smith, however, had never endured Selection, capitalized, over the Brecon Beacons and the Elan Valley, or resistance to interrogation. You know all the tricks in the book, learned from the rough end. You haven't had much chance to put those skills to the test, but you remember sweating in a ditch, silently crawling towards your objective. You had made it, and then they had subjected you to Resistance to Interrogation anyway. But you're digressing, aren't you? No one here to talk to, anyway. Smith's not even a person anymore, is he? One hundred seventy-four minutes. He's sweating harder, now, searching your eyes for something that isn't there- compassion. You had all the compassion scorched from you as you burned to death in a corridor in the Geofront seventy-eight lives ago, still desperately trying to protect the Kids.It always comes down to those children, doesn't it? But what if it's not the kids that are the lynchpins of your suffering, but yourself? Suicide didn't work, you distinctly remember shoving the barrel of your gun into your mouth, savoring the metallic taste for the briefest of instants and then-(1/2)
Smith swallows desperately, across from you, breaking you from your thoughts. You were almost onto something, there. No matter, if it's important it'll come back to you. One hundred eighty-nine minutes. He swallows again, and then speaks.“It was a dead drop in my mailbox, all right? Forty thousand dollars, make sure you didn't make it back from Nevada. No signature, no nothing. I figured I could make it look like an accident, right, and everything would be okay. That's why the plane went up, see? I wasn't going to be on it, I was going to be taking a dump when you boarded, but you threw that out the window when we took the other bird, and I had to come up with a way to get you out of the picture. There never was any threat at Nevada, I called it in myself so I could get you there early, throw you off your game.” “Is that all of it?” Keep staring.Write-in
>>35591392>"There's more."Don't elaborate. Just keep staring.
>>35591368>You had all the compassion scorched from you as you burned to death in a corridor in the Geofront seventy-eight lives ago, still desperately trying to protect the Kids.Oh, that HADN'T been retconned, we hadn't seen Lilly and that shit for awhile.
>>35591392> Keep staring
>>35591392> Keep staringSlow night.
>>35591931It's probably those two weeks I had to take off because work and school. People thought I was dead, people dropped the quest. Shit happens.
>>35591970I'm still here for you, baby.It's a great quest!
>>35591970Honestly I'm just completely confused at what's happening.
>>35591392> Keep staring.
>>35592007Someone snuck up on Dec while he was sleeping, ad then proceeded to show how unsafe the kids were regardless of all the protection he's given then so far.Enemies in the Geofront, and it's best to confront someone with a known connection - in this case, the guy who almost killed him.
>>35592007Dude, what's not to get, we're interrogating Smith, the guy who tried to kill us in Nevada, all the while having flashbacks to our other lives. Pretty simple shit..
>>35591643It's a good combination; this
>>35592117>Someone snuck up on Dec while he was sleepingIn the hospital right? I understood that part, although I'm wondering why there weren't more guards considering that the pilots have been targeted multiple times.>ad then proceeded to show how unsafe the kids were regardless of all the protection he's given then so far.See, I just don't get why someone would want the children dead. The EVAs are a huge taxation on every single country, and there's no guarantee that exchanging pilots would work.So I don't particularly see why someone would be threatening the pilots. But I also don't see why someone would be threatening Dec either, so far we haven't done much aside from protect the pilots from people, which as stated up there, is an issue for everybody.In short, I'm really confused why anyone would want to be harming the pilots. Or why they'd intimidate Dec for that matter, we've only been a bodyguard and Angel killer, we haven't dipped into too much shadowrunning politically nor have we been a thorn in anyone's side. Hell, through quick thinking and training we've probably helped the pilots overcome angels more than NERV, which in the long term is basically everyone's goal.
>>35592329We're just that good, anon.Perhaps it's because of the threat we pose after the Angels are all dealt with?
>>35592329>In the hospital right? I understood that part, although I'm wondering why there weren't more guards considering that the pilots have been targeted multiple times.They're in NERV's facilities. Of course they're "safe".
>>35592518Well, SEELE controls all of the nations, and their goal is instrumentality. Which also requires the pilots, specifically Shinji.As good as we are, I honestly doubt we'd be able to go against 100 or so armed soldiers with tanks, aircraft and artillery backing. And SEELE controls a million times that.>>35592560I refuse to believe NERV is this incompetent, I may as well start believing that Gendo put that knife there himself just to scare us into being more protective.
>>35592626>Seele controls everythingAnd yet Declan has, in his past lives, caused unbelievable levels of destruction; going as far as to appeal to an Unit-01, and then successfully pilot it, shows that he is a fucking monster of a man when shit gets real. Not even the super-illuminati has shit on him. Lilly is basically a god, and the Christmas cake has fallen hard for the Dec-man.I you have me a good hour or so, I could think up a reason, but right now I'm too tired.
>>35592835But see, SEELE, NERV, and the pilots as well, don't know about that. They don't know anything about it. And yet it seems they're treating us as if we're more than human, like we're capable of destruction on N2 Mine barrage levels, or an Evangelion itself.
The watch on your wrist ticks slowly. Smith glances into your eyes again, and then he looks away just as fast. “There's more.” Smith swallows again at your pronouncement, glances at your tie- neatly checkered blue and subtle gray. Your favorite tie, actually. “Of course there's more, but I don't know it. Someone had to be able to come up with the kind of money to just stick forty thousand dollars, cash, in my mailbox, didn't they? I imagine if you went back and looked at the security tape, you'd be able to find out who did it. But you can't, can you? Security tape is probably gone, replaced with a blank. Someone's in the system, changing things, moving things, maybe... leaving things in conspicuous places?”You don't react. Of course you don't, you're a fucking machine when you need to be, unflagging, enduring, going on and on and on. Instead, you stand. Smith rattles his handcuffed hands against the table, grinning at you.“You're worried, aren't you? Maybe moving scared, maybe someone's done something a little odd, recently, but you couldn't place it, maybe-” he's cut off by the rapping of your fist against the metal door, which clinks open slowly as one of the gunbulls lets you out, and then moves in to get Smith on his feet.“You get all you needed, sir?” The other one, the one you told to turn the temperature up, asks.  “I got all I needed, thanks.” “Not really. Don't let him get comfortable.” Write-in.
>>35592626>I refuse to believe NERV is this incompetentThey are as competent as they need to be. If the pilots are incompetent, overconfident, and emotionally broken, SEELE's goals are easier to attain.They never wanted Asuka alive in the end, they just wanted Unit01 with a pilot that is so emotionally broken he does not resist.Any kind of move we make that empowers the Children is a move against whoever is pulling the strings (SEELE). >>35591392>There never was any threat at NevadaSuper Bullshit 64, there was that janitor that shot us.
>>35593012>"For now, anyways - keep up the heat, don't let him get comfortable."
>>35593060>If the pilots are incompetent, overconfident, and emotionally broken, SEELE's goals are easier to attain.Only post-angels, and post-angels only the 01 matters. And we're FAR, far away, from that right now. Far. Very far.In the meantime, the pilots need to be capable of defeating the angels, because if the angels beat NERV, SEELE goes down the shitter. So no, you're pretty wrong there.
>>35593012"Keep him alive."Saying we got all we needed will probably get him executed.If he's going to be kept alive, whoever is coming to clean up will have to kill him, which lets us set up ways to catch them.We should find and talk to Kaji.>>35593121"Capable of defeating the angels" does not necessarily imply "well-adjusted," "competent," or "emotionally stable."
>>35593175SEELE's goals don't necessarily need the pilots not to be "well-adjusted," "competent," or "emotionally stable."Aside from Shinji at the end.
>>35593195Yes, so, in that way, NERV/SEELE are perfectly competent at achieving their goals. Not knowing those goals is a problem, but ultimately we can imply that their goals do not involve well-adjusted etc pilots.
>>35593012"Not really. Keep him alive."
Don'tcha just hate office politics?
>>35593419We'll kill our way to the top.
>>35593195ITS SIMPLE.WE REMOVE THE GENDO.
>>35593573Not really, Gendo isn't even the problem here.
>>35593095Well, this I suppose.
>>35593593Gendo placed the knife, anon.Don't believe the lies.
“For now,” you say. “Don't let him get comfortable, keep the heat up. And keep him alive. I know you guys learned how to gunbull from guards in the American South, but I don't want this one 'shot while attempting escape,' got it?”“Got it, sir,” you're told. After thanking them for their time, you leave, and head back to the topmost levels. Alone with your thoughts, you find an elevator. There was no real threat in Nevada? The janitor that got the drop on you- perhaps Smith was keeping something back, lying to you. Your phone buzzes short and sharp, once, and then falls silent again. Retrieving it, you find that an unknown number tried to call you. They didn't leave a message. A vague sense of discomfort comes over you, not related to anything you can put a finger on.Putting the phone back, you check your pistol and magazines. They're all still secure, and while you're not at ease, the sense of vague discomfort has dispersed as the elevator moved upwards. Poking your head into the office after getting off the elevator, you see if there's anything urgent needing your attention. There isn't, so instead you head up to the surface, and breathe in the clean air. It's August, still, and there might be a hint of fall in the air- scientists are saying the Earth has corrected it's axial shift a degree or two, since Second Impact, bringing hope that eventually there might be relief to the currently largely endless summer. You'll welcome the cold, you think. A chance to wear sweaters and scarves again, and drink hot chocolate spiked with cream liqueur. Still, you think, it'll be nice if it happens. But scientists are wrong, a lot of the time. Your phone buzzes again in your pocket, and when you check it it's a text from Johann, telling you he's arrived in Tokyo. That was fast, you think. Maybe he was less drunk than he lead you to believe? Meet Johann at the airport. Johann's a big boy, he can meet you at the pub. Write-in.
>>35594517[X] Johann's a big boy, he can meet you at the pub.Don't wanna tip our hand just yet. "He just happened to be in town and we're catching up" sounds good. And hell, we probably WILL catch up with each other at the bar, where laser mikes are free to record our entirely innocent conversation.
>>35594517>[x] Johann's a big boy, he can meet you at the pub.
>>35594517> Johann's a big boy, he can meet you at the pub.
>>35594517>[x] Meet Johann at the airport.
Hes a big boy mangWHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG
>>35592329Agree with everything here, 100%Nobody benefits from the pilots biting the dust, especially not as leverage against their security guard to do something. And cut back on what anyway?>>35591392>Forty thousand dollarsThis moron.What kind of idiot accepts a random job to blow up a plane and kill the bodyguard of the most important people on earth for 40k? Especially with what he'd probably make?That's like chucking a grenade at a visiting president because someone slipped you an envelope with a hundred dollar bill and a note telling you to.I mean 40 thousand. That's enough to buy a car. Not a luxury car, a non-terrible car. And he was going to blow up a multimillion dollar plane and kill several people.This moron/
>>35596111QM's never made sense, see: Russian "Secretary", Pilots never having guards, 4vs2 on Israfel resulting in a complete loss
>>35596111Not like the quest's been believable on any real level for awhile now anyway, just deal with it and move on
>>35596111Tangfag's always done batshit things, and had his NPCs do batshit things.You should expect it by now
>>35596111That said, it's surprisingly easy to convince people to do dumb things. One time a kid pointed a (water) pistol at the president's limo on a dare. The secret service was a couple of hair triggers away from lightning him up with Uzis.
You know Johann will find you at the Paddy's eventually. Will he be shitfaced? Hopefully not. Will you? Well, in the immortal words of someone you knew, it's beer o'clock somewhere. You haven't had a drink in a few days, and the pounding headache behind your eyes is telling you you can rectify that, and soon. You hail a cab- you don't feel like having to worry about driving, and you need the personal time, anyway, to get your head screwed on straight.The cabby is sullen and silent, much like you, and the ride passes quietly, save for a news broadcast. Could you be doing something to help the kids learn how to act, to move, to ~think~ as a team? Probably. But saving their lives is more import than making sure they don't wind up with a few bruises, isn't it? Is this a case of a decent man doing the wrong thing for the right reason? The fact you can't distance yourself enough is troubling, you think.When you step into the pub, an almost solid wave of cigarette smoke, sweat, and stench of alcohol hit you. Finding a corner pool table not occupied, you set up shop with an unlit cigarette in your mouth and a big pitcher of an English ale, sweating in the heat of the pub and August midday.Taking off your coat, loosening your tie, untucking your shirt, and rolling the sleeves up, you get to work shooting pool. Eventually someone comes along and tries to scalp you, but you wind up sharking him, and he slinks off, ashamed, and less rich by four dollars. When Johann arrives, you're on your second pitcher beer. He seems to home in on you, and latches on to you with an enormous hug.“Is good to see you again. How did Nevada turn out, Declan?” “Nevada turned out... Interesting. Definitely interesting.” “Nothing extreme. Got shot a couple times, almost smothered. The usual.” Write-in
>>35596314Some girl also threw a badger at Theodore Roosevelt once. He kept it in the White House as a pet.
>>35596385>[x] “Nevada turned out... Interesting. Definitely interesting.”
>>35596385>[x] “Nothing extreme. Got shot a couple times, almost smothered. The usual.”
>>35596385> “Nothing extreme. Got shot a couple times, almost smothered. The usual.”"Office politics are just the worst ya know?"
>>35596385> “Nothing extreme. Got shot a couple times, almost smothered. The usual.”
>“Nothing extreme,” you tell him as you try to crush his ribs in return. “Just got shot a couple of times, almost smothered, once. You know, the usual.”“Yes,” he says with a grin as he drains your pitcher of beer. “The usual. I know. Tell me, what brings me to lovely Japan?”“I don't know,” you admit. “I need help, though. Someone not on the payroll, someone that can follow people after hours without raising suspicion, someone not afraid to drag someone into a dark alley and beat them. I'm tracked by automated systems.”“Does not the large level of automation mean we are having the eavesdropped on us, Declan?”“Eavesdropping,” you correct idly, “and no. Paddy, the owner, installed a mike blocking device. All they're picking up on is that this place is too loud to pick up on our conversation.”“Smart,” he says admiringly. “Where is this Paddy? I wish to buy him drink, that he can so easily defeat statist monitoring of legal citizens going about legal business.”“Dead,” you say with a shrug. “Died of sudden heart failure on his sixty-fifth birthday. Tricky Dicky runs it for Paddy's kids, back in Britain.”“It happens,” Johann says with a shrug. “So tell me what my job will be, Declan.” “Well, for now, I need you to follow [WHO?] for me.” “Stay outside the house where I'm staying as live-in protection. You see anyone snooping around, you grab them for me.” Write-in
>>35597706Do we even know who he should tail? Anyone tailing us probably doesn't need to snoop around, they know everything about us already.
>>35597817Karling, Gendo, Fuyutsuki, Katsuragi, Kaji?
>>35597706>"Well, for now,I need you to follow the section two director for me"
>>35597878Is that Karling?
>>35597894Is that his name? Fuck,I am terrible with names.
>>35597706> Kaji. And outside the house.At least for now. Double/triple agents are obviously bad news.
>>35597706>Tail Karling.Guys been a pain in the ass since day one, and it's not difficult to believe he might be in on heavier shit.
>>35598199yeah, let's tail 'im
Ugh, the opener for work tomorrow called in sick before close tonight, and they just called me. We're going to have to cut this one short, guys, I have to go in tomorrow morning fairly early. We'll open the next thread with detailing Johann to tail Karling. I'm very sorry, guys.
>>35598563I thought slavery was outlawed?
>>35598595Not in a right to work state. I could tell them I can't come in, sure, but that'll mean they cut my hours on the next schedule made because, "Hey, he didn't want to open Saturday morning when the opportunity came up, obviously he doesn't want to work."
>>35598625I love you, tang.Make sure not to disappear again!