This is the diary & short stories of Shalee Lianne Cerra, in the fictitious universe, New Eden, in the game of Eve Online. Come be a part of her world...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Entry Twenty: Blackmail

"There is always a time to rest and contemplate the life we lead." The Confessional, Archbishop

"I will ask you this: What is more important to you, Zenton or PIE?"
" I don't have to choose. He is not forcing me to."
"You realize such close ties with a known pirate will hurt you?"
"They know how I feel about him."
"They do not care?"
"He isn't red to us, long as it stays out of the public they arent likely to care. If he goes red though...well. I dont know."
"It is a matter of time untill he does."
"How can you know?"
"You realize how long I have been around killers and the like? "Pirates" as you call them. I know their tendancies."
"I don't know anything about you."
"You know I hold the keys to your salvation or ruin. I have already offered you salvation. Should you displease me I will disclose the information I have on you to Praetorian authorities."
"Why are you doing this to me? Why.."
"The reason is my own."
"You have no honor. I fulfilled my contract, I did my job and it is over. I am not that person anymore, and if you think you can blackmail me then think again. If you go to my superiors theres a good chance they wont believe you. And if they do.... I'll join Zenton and Ill make sure to tell him about these little threats against me. He wont like it."

She jolted up in bed, her heart racing as she frantically glanced around the dark room, trying to make sense of where she was. Realization slowly seeped through the fog of sleep, and she started to calm, realizing she had been dreaming.

She slid to the side of the bed and stood, trailing her hands through her long hair, trying to shake off the dream, though it'd do little good. Despite it being a dream, it had happened.

"Bastard." she whispered to herself as she padded across the thick carpet and sat in a chair by the window, activating both the camera & coffee drone.

"I really don't know where to begin. So many things have happened over the last three days."

She exhaled a long, frustrated breath as she mentally started piecing it all together, trying to remember what she had last recorded.

"He promised me that it was over, that it was some stupid mistake and that everything would be okay. He asked me to believe in him, in us. He said he loved me and wanted to be with me. He said "I promise that nothing like that will ever happen again."

She shook her head.

"He didn't even make it twenty four hours."

"He couldn't even tell me in private. He waited til I was surrounded by a few other pilots at Paradise before finding me and laying it on us all. Just like that, out of the fracking blue. It was as if all of the promises he had made, all of the things he said meant nothing. What was I supposed to think? He said one thing and did another, and then expected me to be okay with it? I wasn't sure what to believe at that point."

"And then he leaned over and whispered to me that it had nothing to do with us, that we were still okay.""As if I don't have a choice in the matter?"

"I lost it. He should know me better than that. He should know that I won't just sit by while he does this to himself. He has no idea what he is in for, he can't even begin to imagine the hell that he will someday face. Because it will happen. His actions will haunt him, every innocent life he has taken will haunt him."

"He halfheartedly tried to argue with me, saying that we kill the Minmatars every day, that it was the same thing. I told him no, it wasn't. Those are soldiers we fight, men and women who choose to be on the war front. It isn't the same at all. After that he could barely look me in the eye, and just ended up leaving."

She shrugged.

"I didn't mean to get so drunk. Thank God Jhaelee and Darius was there, following me around to make sure I didn't end up doing something stupid. We left Paradise as the brass started pouring in and ended up at the Basilica. Leopold was there and I vaguely remember telling him that I wasn't in the mood for his sarcasm. I still haven't gotten around to sending him an apology..."

"The next day I woke up with a hellish hangover and decided that I wouldn't be any good out on the front line. I lounged around the apartment a bit and went stir crazy after a few hours. Anyhow, what's better for a hangover but another drink?"

"I ended up at Paradise and had a few drinks with Darius and Raphael. Raph and I had just talked the day before about Zenton, he had asked what my relationship was with him. I told him I had loved Zenton and he pretty much told me I was a heretic for even making such a claim. He said that love was a divine power and that only God can love and we shouldn't be so arrogant as to think we could be like him."

"Of course that set me off. He and I argued back and forth and finally called a truce on the subject because neither was going to relent. However, I found him easy to talk to on other subjects. I told him all about Garst..."

"The next day he must have had it on his mind because he brought it up again at Paradise. I told him he was wrong, that I had spoken to Michael Priboj about it and that Michael was both brass and a priest, so he'd know."

"That shut him up."

"I probably shouldn't have said it, I promised Michael I'd not bring it up with him, but it isn't my fault Raphael decided to bring it up with me." she said, followed by a heavy sigh.

Her thoughts drifted to Zenton again.

"Yesterday I promised Jhaele that I wouldn't check Zenton's security status. She knew how upset I'd be and wanted me to just take it easy while she and Darius went out to the warfront. I did as she asked for the entire day as much as it killed me to do so, until last night that is. It had dropped to negative 4.5. I felt sick and hurt and a thousand other emotions and all I wanted to do was talk to him. He wasn't answering his comms and I didn't know what else to do..."

She rubbed her hand across her face then to the back of her neck, kneeding the tight muscle.

"I went to look for him in the only place I could think of. In that moment I didn't care if one of Mitara's spies saw me there or not, I just wanted to find him. I ended up finding Koronakesh instead. Suprisingly he wasn't as much of a bastard as I've thought him to be these past weeks."

"As I was leaving the Last Gate, I got a comm call from VC."

She fell silent for a moment, lost in thought.

"It all makes sense now. Why he was watching me, why he had been comming me. He knows. He knows everything, who I was... what I've done. He wants me to leave the Praetoria, says I don't belong there, I told him it wasn't any of his business what I do now. And then...then he threatened me. He tried to blackmail me, demanding an obscene amount of isk and if I don't pay up, he will go to my superiors."

She shook her head.

"But I wont give in, I'm just not going to play his mindgames, I'm not going to let him play me like a puppet because I know his kind. If I did manage to scrape, borrow and plead that kind of money, it wouldn't be enough. He'd just do it again."

The conversation she had with Michael at St. Alms played through her mind.

"What could you have possibly done that would ruin your career in the Praetoria? I guess it doesn't matter. You're honestly repentiant about it. If you've asked God for forgiveness, and honestly try to live each day right by him, he gladly grants it."
"It matters. But I've changed. I'm not that person anymore."
"Have you been forgiven for it?"
"By God?"
"I have asked for forgiveness."
"But you don't feel as though you have been granted it."
"That doesn't matter, there are still consequences for certain actions, long after the crime has been committed."
"Very true. I am still responsible for my actions before I was a priest. Do you feel as though your actions before you joined PIE would warrant your dismissal should they be made public?"
"Why do you assume it was before I joined PIE?"
"Were that the case, can you really hold Zenton accountable for being two-faced and hypocritical?""No. And that is why I will not betray him."
"If you continue your sins, without remorse, how does that make you different from Zenton if he continues piracy?"
"I've not continued my sins."
"But you don't feel as though your forgiven. Why?"
"Forgiven by God, but by the Praetoria...I doubt it..."

She sighed heavily as she terminated the recording.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Entry Nineteen: Confusion

"He stepped down from the Heavens to judge the unworthy and redeem the pure." The Scriptures, Revelation 2:12

Activate Log

The hovering camera drone started recording on command, showing the young ensign planetside, laying in a field of snow. She blinked several times as flakes clung to her lashes.

"I really needed to just get away and think for a while, so here I am..."

She rolled her head from side to side, looking around. Her punisher was parked nearby, dusted with a thin white layer. There were old trees on the edge of the field, blanketed with snow. It was just past twilight, the sky dark and heavy with clouds.

"It's quite, at least."

She sat up and shook her head furiously, slinging snow. Trailing her gloved hand across her face, she looked to the camera.

"So I went back that day to the Praetorian Hall, hoping to run into Mitara. Some strange part of me that thought I should've confided the truth to her, though I really don't know why. She is possibly the only one who would try to help him from the upper echelons. Zenton is a good pilot, one of their best. He is more dedicated than half in the ranks. The rest...meh. They would hang him out to dry. I love Garst dearly as a friend but I don't think he'd show any compassion what-so-ever for someone who is on the verge of following in Koronakesh's footsteps."

"Anyhow, waiting around I started chatting with an old PIE pilot who has long since left the corp. Alistair Cononach, I think his name was. He was an interesting guy, lots of old stories about the brass in their early days. As we spoke some of the others started pouring in, a few new ensigns, like Markanus and a few of the brass that I'm not all that familiar with."

"And then Zenton showed up, acting so casual about the whole thing, as if he had every right to be there. I tried to pretend I hadn't seen him, but he started talking to me in front of everyone. I told him to stop, and that I never wanted to speak to him again."

"Probably not the best choice of words in front of my superiors, but I was furious. I mean, fine if you want to be a pirate, leave the Praetoria and break my heart in the process, but the malicious things he had said to Koronakesh in front of Jhaelee? No. Unforgivable. I wasn't about to talk to him, I would have rather died. Calling me a whore to that bastard pirate? Gods I hated him in that moment. And he just stood there in the Praetoria Hall as if he had every right to be there, wearing that uniform, pulling rank on me. I guess he didn't know at that point that I knew what he had said."

The comm conversation between herself and Jhaelee played through her mind.

"Of her odd time she spent at the Basillica, this one feels she may have been a bit rude, but does not regret it."
"What happened?"
"In her presence, Zenton Karvash and another that she did not recognize, a Koronakesh, spoke of many things. Despite not understanding much of what they talked of, this one felt herself becoming cross."
"What did they say?"
"Of the subjects they discussed, Sha came up. They talked of a Skyhook and spoke in non-positive fashion of Sha, So this one, in a moment of anger, rudely excused herself. While not the grandest of displays, she felt better afterwards."
"Koronakesh...oh dear. It is best to stay far away from him. He is a manipulating bastard....wait... Zenton spoke poorly of me..?"
"Not knowing all the details, this one can not be sure, but Zenton did seemed to jest about Sha's sudden 'jumping poles' and exchanged comments in such a fashion with this Koronakesh."
"Jumping poles..? What did he mean by that?"
"It was not a phrase this one had heard before. As for meaning, this one can only guess it is intended to mean a switching of partners."
"Oh. I see."

"Saifuddin called me out for my attitude. Apparently adding 'sir' to the end of a smartassed remark doesn't qualify as showing proper respect for rank. Saif and Michael Priboj seperated us at that point, not wanting any more of a scene out in public."

"I went with Priboj, though I hadn't really intended on saying anything, him being the brass and all, I just wanted to get away from Zen. Michael took me to the Cathedral of Saint Alms, giving me enough time to cool down along the way."

"I ended up staying far longer than necessary, and confessing entirely too much. I barely know the man and yet I told him all about Zenton, everything he had said and done. At least it was off the record."

Her thoughts drifted to Saint Alms.

"I'm not going to sugar-coat it. You're in love with a murderer, a murderer who murders for pleasure... without remorse, nor want for forgiveness. You're also tasked with rooting out such evil, as you're a Praetorian. If you do not report what you know and somehow you slip and tell someone else and word gets out that you're holding back vital evidence of this crime..."
"So you've got a few options. 1. Report what you know to an Admiral or Captain. 2. Leave PIE and join Zenton Pirating. 3. Say nothing and hope no one finds out."
"...I can't betray him."
"You must decide which path you wish to tread. I can only show you which ones lie before you, but I cannot carry you down either."

"After I left the chapel I ended up at the Utopian Dream, far away from the Empire. I just wanted to forget it all. I was half drunk when Zenton found me...well no, completely drunk is more like it. At first I told him he was no Lieutenant where we were, just another smuck I could tell to fuck off. Naturally he stayed to argue, wanting me to forgive him."

"I ...I don't know whats going on with you. You were a murderer for pleasure and did it without remorse, you took pleasure in it...and then you left me and I thought we were over. I just don't know whats going on anymore."
"I did ...and I don't know why.. I have no explaination. I had no remorse at the time but when I spoke to you in the Basilica the shame of what I had done caught me and I couldn't stay..."
"I wish you hadn't of left me.."
"I haven't left you, I just couldn't stay in the Basilica, I was far to ashamed of my actions, I got caught up in it all... it can happen so quick..."
"What do you want Zenton.""What do I want?"
"Yes. What do you want. From life, from the Praetoria...from me..."
"I want to spend it with you, and for us both to be happy no matter where we are, Praetoria or elsewhere. I love you Shalee your all that matters in my life."

"We stayed together that night and I thought everything was going to be okay, that I was going to get my happily ever after..."

She bit on her bottom lip, frowning. Rolling to her knees, she scooped up a fistfull of snow and tightened it into a snowball, standing to pummel it against the side of her ship.

"I woke up in the middle of the night and he was gone."

She repeated the procedure a few more times, chucking the balls against the lowered ramp.

"I looked for him the next day at the Basilica. I ran into Koronakesh first and asked him about what Zenton had told him. Kor denied anything untoward being said. Which obviously makes me think Kor is lying. The man never misses an opportunity to manipulate a situation."

"Aldrith came in as I was leaving. I asked him if he kept security tapes of the place. He told me no, though he was in and out of the area when Zenton and Kor had been there talking. He picked up some things with his auditory implants and offered to tell me what he knew. He played some pieces back on a data pad."

"I don't know what to make of it all. It's like trying to fit a puzzle together without having all of the pieces. Aldrith only overheard a few things and nothing that I had specifically asked him for."

She threw another snowball, it thudded against the cargo-bay door.

"I still don't know if I can trust him or not. When I am with him I think I can but...I don't know. Theres something going on with him still, I just wish he would trust me enough to tell me."

"It's like he is two different people. The man I once knew and loved and trusted...and then theres this other side of him, a darker, scarier side and I can't go through that again. I wont. He is begining to remind me of my Father, the way he presented one face to the world and other to me and my brothers."

She tipped her chin up and closed her eyes, letting the snow fall against her face.

"I guess for now I'll have to try and trust him. I really don't want to lose him. Michael said I had three options, so for now...this is how it has to be."

"I mean, out of all the people he should be able to trust, why not me? I've told him so much about myself, I have confessed everything to him. I'm no stranger to temptation, of walking on the darker side of life. I've been there, I've lived it and I know it's irrestitable pull. I know.."

Sadistic images of her past flashed through her mind. She quickly forced them away.

"It's not like I've not been tempted lately."

She hesitated.

"There was a man from the Basilica, a red. He had been watching me and caught me on a bad day, I don't know. I accepted his comm call. He was nice at first, luring me in with questions of how I was feeling and then he started telling me that he could help me forget it all. I asked how. He said he had "technology to help erase my fear, implants to make me forget." For a half second I considered it. To forget all that I had done? To have all of the guilt and pain completely gone. But then I realized that I would be giving up all emotion and all memory. I told him I couldn't, I wouldn't risk losing love."

"Ironic isn't it?"

She threw her last snowball at the camera drone, covering it's recording lense before walking off towards her ship.

Terminate Log.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Entry Eighteen: Betrayal

"..The enemies of the outside had to be defeated and the enemies of the inside controlled." The Scriptures, Book II

Activate Log

The feed shows Shalee perched on a crate inside the cargo hold of her Retribution, hiding away from the world. She wears her flight uniform with her hair hanging messily around her pale face. Dark smudges beneath her eyes reveal a lack of sleep. Absently she tosses a data pad from hand to hand as she taps her boot against the crate.

"I've been so busy I've not been keeping up with this. For days my main concern was the war front, I barely slept, just kept pushing myself to get out there and make a difference."

"I've flown with a lot of different people over the last odd week or so, both in the militia and in pure golden fleets. Usually I avoid militia because I'm still so new to it all and really don't want to horribly embarass myself, or the Praetoria for that matter. However if Invelious is FCing I will join up. Theres something about him that I like, I feel comfortable under his command."

"I've even flown with Captain Newelle a time or two and from what I can tell, she doesn't hold a grudge from what we had talked about in the Basilica. I have so much respect for her, even if she is the brass."

She exhales a long, frustrated breath.

"Well, everything had seemed okay up until last night..."

Distress etches her delicate features.

"It was like a nightmare. I was at the Basilica talking with Garst and Darius when Zenton showed up. I went over to speak with him and he couldn't even look me in the eye. In that moment I knew something was wrong. I could just feel it, like a heavyness laying on me. I started to panic as I asked him what he had done...?"


"One frackking word and my whole world came undone. I didn't want to believe it but at the same time, I could feel it was true, the way he was looking at me, so intense, so harsh. It wasn't a god damned joke."

"I just fell apart. I couldn't help it...I mean, gods, Zenton? Doing piracy? It was too unfrackingbelievable. I've loved him for so long now and thought I knew everything about him.... but was all a lie."

"So then, everything else becomes a blur. I knew that there were others nearby but I didn't care. I just started screaming at him, begging him not to do this, pleading with him to tell me it was a lie...and he wouldn't."

She flicks the tips of her fingers across her cheek swiping away a tear as their final words echo through her mind over and over.

"I am sorry Shalee."
"What am I supposed to do now? Just let you go? Just say okay, be a god damned pirate knowing that it is forbidden for me to talk to you once you go red? Just pretend like you're not breaking my heart? I don't even know who you are anymore. How could you do this to us? I've fought so hard to be here with you and you're just throwing it all away ... I hate this. I hate it...I hate what you are becoming...
"I...I need to go."
"'re leaving me."
"Go then. Just go."

"And so he left. I fell apart and thank God Darius was there to pick up the pieces. He helped me out of the Basilica and somewhere along the way I vaguely remember Leopold there, smirking as if he found it all very amusing. I think he said something to me but for the life of me I can't remember what it was now. I was in a complete daze."

"Darius stayed and talked with me until I was calm enough to go home alone. He he was so very kind, I will never forget it. As soon as I left him I got a call from Mitara asking me if I knew anything about Zenton's leaving the Praetorian comm channels. Of course I lied and told her no."

"And after that I just laid awake all night, obsessing over it and then this morning I went to the Praetoria head quarters to see if I could find anything out. Zenton was still listed on the flight schedule and I didn't hear any talk out in the public hall about his leaving."

"I hung around for a while to see if Mitara would show up, hoping to discreetly find out anything at all. While I was waiting I ran into Leopold again. What a bastard. He didn't say anything, though I could tell by that arrogant little smirk that he wanted to. I was a bit rude to him and got called out by Lieutenant Hiigaren."

"Ensign Jhaelee came over because she could tell I was upset. She got me away from Leo and sat and talked with me for a long time...but then I just had to leave. I was just on the verge of tears and really didn't want to break down in public like that. Especially not near the headquarters."

"Everything seems so wrong, it's like a nightmare that I can't wake up from. Zenton? How could he do this to us? It just makes no sense, I put so much faith in him, loved him beyond everything...and he betrays me?"

"I feel like dying.."

"...if only that were possible."

Terminate Log.


Sunlight streamed through stained glass inside the cathedral where Ensign Shalee Lianne knelt before the statue of Empress Jamyl.
Pulling back the hood of her cloak, she lifted her face and gazed up at the Empress, lost in thought.
A kalediscope of colors played across her delicate features. The reflected light illuminated the statue, giving the eerie sense that it was animated. Alive.
Shalee started to pray automatically, her voice a soft whisper in the empty chamber.

"The word of the Lord is pure,
It is a shield for the faithful,
Brought unto men by the Angels,
As a guilding light in the darkness."

As she prayed, her thoughts drifted to the confrontation in the Amarrian Basilica with Lieutenant Garst Tyrell.

"I don't BELIEVE in your God." she had screamed.

They had argued hotly, each struggling to make the other understand. Somewhere along the way he had broken through her resolve and forced her to confront her feelings.

"Repent is too short and meaningless without God. He loves you and it's time you loved him back."
"Love? He can't love me Garst. How can he love me and let me suffer all of those years? How? I am just so angry with him!"
"Of course he does! Maybe we can't see his plans. He works on scales we can barely imagine but everything he has done has made you stronger. More independent. And now is your final test. To return his love and bring things full circle...God has a plan and you are part of it."

A plan.

She stared at the statue of Jamyl, musing on Garst's words. The Empress had been a beloved heir then forced to commit a ritualistic suicide. How horrible it must have been for her in those final days, knowing that she would have to die. How betrayed she must have felt. A thousand questions flickered through her mind. Did Jamyl ever doubt God in those final hours? Was she brave? Did she ever question his plan for her?

She uttered the scripture from the Apocalypse Verses as she stared at the statue, finding real meaning in them for the first time in her life.

"At the end of days when they descendWatch for the coming of the ArkFor within itSalvation is carried."

Shalee made the sign of the cross, dropping her head revently as the words from her coronation speech echoed in the back of her mind.

"I am the harbinger of hope. I am the sword of the righteous, and to all who hear my words I say this, what you give to this Empire I shall give back unto you."

In that moment she realized that the Empress represented everything that Shalee was desperate for. Hope. Strength. Change. Rebirth.

Jamyl was a living incarnate of God's plan. The Empress had suffered far more than any capsuleer and despite it all, she survived it and was stronger for it. She never faltered.

Shalee dropped her head again and started to fervently pray.

"Benevolent leader, mother of mercy and hope, forgive me. Help me to walk the path of your righteousness, to be an example as you have been to your people. Give me strength to prevail in battle in your name, the faith to uphold all that is good and holy, and give compassion and mercy to those who deserve it."

She tipped her chin up and stared at the statue.

"Great Empress, I dedicate myself to you."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Entry Seventeen: Choices

One can repent and pray for forgiveness. - The Scriptures, Kuria 4:23

Activate Log.

The video snapped into view, showing Shalee languidly stretched out on a bench, tucked away in a private alcove inside the Basilica.

"Last night Beaux, Talfryn, Larzah, Zenton and I took out battlecruisers for wormhole exploration. Despite not finding much, I was really glad to have been invited to go. It was my first time flying my Prophecy. I've had the ship for a while now sitting in the Amarr hangar though I've only recently trained the skills to fly it."

A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth."A part of me was reluctant to take it out because Zenton gave it to me."

"As we returned to Amarr, all the Praetorian pilots were invited to Paradise to celebrate Captain Newell's one year anniversay. I almost didn't go but at the last minute I popped in, just to make an appearance. I don't know where I stand with Mitara these days so I think it's better to just avoid her all together. Also I figured the brass would be there as well and it's probably best to avoid them too."

"I've never seen the place so busy. I really didn't stay long, chatted with Darius for a few minutes then left. Garst noticed."

A breeze ruffled her hair, blowing it off of her face. Self consciously she brushed it back into place with her fingers to hide the slight bruise along her cheek.

"He followed me to the Basilica, or maybe it was just some kind of ironic twist of fate that he showed up then, who knows."

She fell silent for a moment.

"It was a bad combination I think, him being intoxicated and me being on the verge of a breakdown."

She absently picked at leaf from the vine that twisted around the alcove.

"I've just been so restless and tired. I want to sleep, I want to relax. I want to be who I am without having to hide, without having to live in fear. Always wondering if this is going to be the day they find out the whole truth."

She wetted her lips.

"And it all just boiled up to the point where I couldn't hold it back anymore. I was just so sick of it all, and there he was, looking at me expectantly, saying he wanted to help me."

"We took a walk around the gardens and he asked me again, practically pleaded with me to be honest with him."

"So I told him. Just like that I told him. Everything. About the past, about V. Every single little thing I told him and all he could do was stare at me for the longest of moments, shocked."

She lifted her fingers, touching her cheek lightly."He was so god damned angry. He started yelling and screaming, then he backhanded me and all I could do was brace myself because I know he wanted to kill me."

"I think in that moment I wanted him to kill me too."

"I just wanted it over" she whispered.

"Somewhere along the way he calmed and then he started talking about God, how I could be forgiven if I would repent."

"I told him I didn't even know how, and that I wasn't sure if I wanted to, because I was just so angry at God."

Restlessly she shifted on the bench.

"In that moment the truth packed a harder punch than Garst had."

"I do believe. I'm just angry with him, angry for all that has happened. Garst told me God loved me and that there was a purpose for everything, that it would be revealed in time. He said I needed to repent and beg for forgiveness and that if I was truely sincere, he would help me."

She shook her head.

"He wiped away my tears and held me til I stopped crying."

"I left with him because I couldn't face Zenton after that. I didn't want him to see my bruised, tear stained face and do something we'd all regret later. I want to explain everything that has happened while we are on Inis, far away from everyone else."

She glanced across the open garden to the chapel on the opposite side.

"Today I prayed and for the first time in a very long time, I think God actually heard me..."

Terminate Log.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Entry Sixteen: Retribution

We are the shepherds in the dark, his Angels of Mercy. - Scriptures, Book of Reclaiming 4:45

Activate Log.

The recording flickered on suddenly, showing her sitting on the lowered ramp of a Retribution. Her long red hair was pulled back by a discarded strand of cut wire. Her black flight suit was unzipped to her waist, the top slouched around her hips. She wore a thin grey tank beneath it. Her knees were bent with her datapad propped up against them. For the last hour she'd been struggling to write something.

"So our CEO proposed a contest to the Corp. Write something about our most august Empress, it can be anything, a sermon, poem, whatever. Normally I wouldn't give two fracks about it, but seeing how theres prize money involved I thought I'd give it a shot. A few mil can go a long way to fatten an Ensign's wallet and mine is looking a little bleak after buying this baby here."

She tapped her hand against the Retro's ramp.

"Got her for a steal actually. She belonged to some dumb pen-pushing officer from the Echa Raiders. One day he gets a notion to join the front lines, ships up in this beauty fresh off the market, didn't even take it out for a test flight either mind you, jumps straight into combat and bam, warps right into a nest of reds at zero with his wingman right behind him. He gets locked and scram'd as his wingman explodes a half second later. The rest of the fleet warps in and he manages to make it out, though it didn't do him much good in the end. He got back to his hangar with his wingman smeared across his screen and just lost it. Blowed his brains out in the cockpit."

She shrugged, her expression indifferent.

"Pilots are a superstious lot but I can't afford to be. Anyhow, she cleaned up real nice and I don't think she can bring me any worse luck than I already have. Not like I'm lighting up the killboards with my wins."

She laid the datapad beside her and stretched her legs out.

"I can't fly her yet, though in roughly ten days I should be able to take her out. Lieutenant Tyrell has been giving me some pointers on flying it, he recently has been using a Retro in the war though he doesn't much care for them. He says the enemies like to primary them too much for his comfort."

"Speaking of Garst, I ran into him off duty last night at Paradise. I ended up having a few drinks with him and a recruit by the name of Darius. Nice enough guy. Garst was on his best behavior thank God. I think he's afraid of setting me off or something. It's a bit ironic how he treats me now, not because of what I revealed to him but in spite of it."

"An even stranger thing happened before that. I was docked up in Lantorn when I got a message that I was requested at the Praetoria Public Hall by the slave of Michael Priboj. I met up with him in one of the private rooms there, curious to why Priboj had an interest in me. Apparently he has been following my brief career and wants to offer his help, though the slave was never specific on how he wished to help me. I just find it all a bit strange. Usually the brass doesn't take much notice of me unless it is in a negative way."

She frowned.

"Like Captain Newell for instance. Two nights ago I stopped by the Basilica hoping to find Zenton and found her instead, talking to Koronakesh. She immediatelly pulled me to the side and apologized for jumping to conclusions about why I had gone to the SkyHook. She said that Kor was trying to manipulate her, insinuating the worst, even trying to bring down Zenton and Garst with me. She said that she overreacted and well, what could I say? I had been chewing on that anger for days, just waiting to spit in her face, Captain or not, but no, she just had to go and apologize."

"So I forgave her, then we started talking about other things. She said she wanted to talk to me as a sister, off duty. Gods, I was a naive little fool to believe that. Anyhow, she started telling me about how she was 'burned out'. She made me feel really sorry for her, then I tried to make her feel better by opening up a bit. I should have learned my lesson with Garst, I know. I should know that the brass is still the brass even if they are not in uniform."

"She got offended when I told her she needed to find something else to live for besides God and Empire."

"She told me that my thoughts were borderline heresy in some circles. I told her that thinking wasn't a crime, and that I was out there everyday fighting a war in God's name, that my actions were pure and true and that she had nothing on me."

"She then said I sounded like Koronakesh and that is when I lost my temper. I told her that I'd had just about enough of it, that I was nothing like that manipulating bastard and I was tired of being compared to him."

She sighed as she absentmindedly rocked her feet from side to side, tapping her boots against the metallic ramp.

"I am many things but I'm no traitor."

She suddenly frowned as she thought about V.

"Well. Not anymore."

Terminate Log.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Entry Fifteen: Dying

When the ears hear only the mouth shouting and the eyes see only the fingers broken, the world has turned and God has gone. - The Scriptures, Apocalypse Verses 8:18

Activate Log.

Shalee is stretched out across her bed. The room is dark save for a hint of light glowing beneath the doors and a sliver of light streaking across the bottom of the closed window.

"Koronakesh is a bastard. He is the one who told Mitara about me going to the SkyHook. Apparently the two of them are friendly again since he is no longer a red. Though I fail to see how that matters in the grand scheme of things. If he couldn't be trusted a few days ago, he shouldn't all-of-a-sudden be trusted now. He told me she even went as far as to invite him to the Basilica! Gods! I bet he just couldn't wait to go running his mouth about me going to the SkyHook to get me in trouble. No doubt he was still angry with me in the first place for telling on him. Oh well. Superior or not, Mitara is going to hear what I have to say about this. I don't think it is fair to threaten my career over him and now she is inviting him to the Amarrian Basilica! The nerve. I bet she has a thing for him, wouldn't suprise me in the least."

"She had the audacity to send an apology to me via Zenton the other day. I was annoyed, not that she apologized but she couldn't do it to my face."

"Anyhow, it was just a bad day all around."

"Zenton, Jhaelee, and I went plexing with Kheth from the 24th Crusade. It went okay til the very end, til we were finished and heading back to Lantorn. I lost my ship in a trap on one of the gates. A pirate whom we had engaged much earlier had waited all of that time for us. As much as I hated losing that ship and being podded, I have to admire his patience and skill. He managed to take down both Zenton and I, pods and all."

She shifted in the bed, restlessly kicking the sheet off of her.

"Theres nothing worse than being podded. Dying. They try to tell you that it isn't a real death, that the body is just an instrument and what matters is the soul, but it is hard to believe that when you're watching laser beams barreling into your structure while being scrammed and jammed and knowing that you're completely fracked. You have but a nano second to respond. You tense. Smoke rolls through the cockpit and you desperately try every emergency evasive sequence that you can think of. You know it is in vain but self presevation kicks in and you have to try something. And then you eject because you know you've lost your ship, but in that moment it doesn't matter. Surviving matters. Material things are just that, material and unimportant and you focus all of your essence on that one damn button on the tatical display. Warp. For the love of God and Empire, warp, warp, WARP. You scream at the god damned display desperately as if that is somehow going to make it work any better. And then you hear that saccharine sweet, automated voice announcing it's all over. Some kind of paralyzing serum is released into your bloodstream so you don't actually feel the moment of impact. Everything is a blurr after that."

"You wake up sometime later suspended in a vat of goo, blinded by light, bombarded with a surreal amount of memories, your senses are disoriented and you just try to make sense of what the frack is happening even if you've been through the process a thousand times before."

"I hate it. The med techs barely give you time to get yourself together before slapping you into a new pod and sending you on your way. It's so cold and clinical, no one even cares that you've just died, that you've lost a part of yourself and that some piece of you is out there floating around in space. Or even worse, that your enemy broke open your pod and stole what was left of you. And you really don't want to think about what they end up doing with it."

"Usually it's best to just jump back into the action straight away. Don't stop to think about it, don't dwell on it. Ship up and get back out there on the front lines, that way you don't have to think about it."

She rolled her head to the side, looking at the window and noting the light beneath it. It was simulated, of course. There was no night or day on a space station.

"I probably shouldn't be here now, thinking about it."

She sighed.

"But I don't know where else to be at the moment. I can't stand the thoughts of getting back into a pod right now. Zenton is busy out on the lines so Inis is out. Can't go to the Basilica because I don't want to run into that tattle-telling bastard Koronakesh. The Utopia Dream is way out in zero making the rounds so that is out. God forbid I go to the Skyhook or Last Gate, not worth losing my career over, what little career that I do have. Maybe Paradise..."

She shifted on the bed again, frustrated.

"But then I'd chance running into Garst. He apologized to me the other night for not being there when I needed him, thinking that my transmission to him was a cry for help. He still doesn't believe me though, thinks I've fabricated the whole thing. Said I must have been dreaming or drunk when I sent it."

She shrugged.

"I wish he were right."

Terminate Log.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Entry Fourteen: Ranting

Time of infinity to grief our misgivings, time of eternity to stray without God's guidance. - The Scriptures, Kuria 4:23

Activate Log.

The young pilot activated the recording drone as soon as she stepped into the apartment. She started to speak as she undid her cloak.

"Inis activate." The holographic wall flickered in response, displaying the lake that she and Zenton frequented on their downtime.

"I don't know what the hell is going on. Out of no where Captain Newell pulls me into her office with Zenton and starts in on me about the Skyhook. She asks if I know what it is, I told her yes, then she asked me if I had been there 'a simple yes or no will do'. What a bitch. I told her yes, that I had in fact been there with Koronakesh a while ago and that I had told her or Laerise about it. And just like that, I was dismissed."

She tossed the cloak over a chair on her way into the bedroom as the camera drone followed in pursuit. As she unzipped her flight suit, she sat on the edge of the bed and began unlacing her boots.

"What is the big fracking deal anyhow? So I spoke to a former Praetorian after he left our ranks. I wanted to find out what was going on and if I could help him in any way. I just love how they think speaking to a red is the biggest crime in New Eden. And God forbid someone have a drink in a nonsanctioned bar. Not like I was doing anything horribly wrong! It was just a simple conversation weeks ago and they are just now making a fuss over it?"

She kicked one boot off, then the other. As she stood, she shimmied out of her flight suit and left in the floor beside her boots. Beneath it she wore a black sports bra and loose fitting black boy styled shorts.

"So then I headed over to Paradise to catch up with Zenton, I wanted to know what she had to say to him. Apparently they are riding his ass now too in regards to me, as if he is my keeper or something. I'm pretty sick of it. If they have something to say to me, then say it to my face, stop going behind my back to Zenton. He isn't responsible for my actions, no more than anyone else in the Praetoria is."

She disappeared from view as she went into the bathroom. The sound of water running could be heard. She stepped back into the bedroom with a toothbrush in her mouth, pulling it out to continue her ranting.

"They just make me so damned angry!" Frustrated, she kicked her boot across the room. It thudded against the wall and caused the holographic water to ripple.

"And to top it off, Garst thinks I am a liar." She dashed back into the bathroom to turn the water off in the tub. A few seconds later she returned to the bedroom door, leaning against the frame.

"A liar. I can't believe I really thought I could somehow reach him. I can't believe I trusted him enough to tell him the truth and he threw it back in my face, calling it disgusting. Oh gods, the things he said to me. He looked like he wanted to wrap his hands around my throat until I admitted that I lied. I had no choice but to tell him what he wanted to hear, that I did lie about the whole thing. He was so angry, I've never seen him like that before, never imagined he could be so vastly different than what I thought him to be."

She hesitated as if a thought occured to her.

"There you go. No one is really what they seem, are they?"

"Afterwards, I talked to Zenton about it. I told him that I didn't think I really belonged in the Praetoria and that I should leave before I jeopardize his career more so than I have. It's just so frustrating, trying day after day to be the kind of person that belongs there. It's not like I haven't tried. Anyhow, he told me that he would support whatever I chose to do, but that he selfishly wanted me to stay. I think that if I left, he would too, that he would follow me, but that's just not fair. He belongs with them."

She glanced over to the lake scene, deep in thought.

"And I belong with him."

Terminate Log.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Entry Thirteen: Confessions

And in this moment of terrible distress the skies opened with a loud shriek and angels, bright as the sun was black, descended down to earth and their beauty soothed all the people and the animals alike. - Chapter I of the Epitoth

Activate Log.

The camera drone refocused as the image of Shalee Lianne Cerra, Praetorian Ensign, suddenly started pacing the length of the room. The holographic wall behind her shifted with the movement, giving the illusion that she was walking through a moonlit garden. She paused as suddenly as she started and sighed, tugging her hand through her long glossy red curls, completely frustrated.

"Last night I happened to met up with Lieutenant Garst Tyrell at the Paradise Found. He was the only other in the bar so of course we ended up talking and drinking most of the night. He could tell something was upsetting me but I couldn't really tell him what. I did mention that I was having nightmares but I wouldn't tell him what they were about. He tried his best to get it out of me but it was pointless. I can't confide in Garst, he is the last man I could really tell everything to. He is so passionate about his beliefs, so ardently devoted to God and Empire that if I should tell him that I truely don't believe in God he would no doubt turn me over to the Inquisition and have me burned as a heretic."

Shalee fell silent for a moment.

"I did dance around the subject though I probably shouldn't have. He chalked my questions of faith up to intoxication and youth. He wanted to believe that, I think. He doesn't want to believe that I could be anything other than a God-fearing, Empress-worsphing, devoted Praetorian as himself. He tried to warn me saying that 'the road to damnation is paved with shades of grey and what ifs'. Garst is a good man, a good soldier, and a good friend. I shouldn't have said anything at all, I shouldn't have given him an inkling of how I feel or who I really am."

The recording drone scanned in on her face. Her tawny brows drew together as she considered the unasked question. Who are you?

"One of my tutors used to say we are the sum of our choices, the product of our experiences. We are who we choose to be."

A wisful smile tuged at the corners of her mouth.

"I haven't thought of him in forever. He was my tutor on Giaiaelenostros Prime, or Gia Prime for short. Gia Prime was a space station in the middle of no where, a stopping point for haulers and locals from the nearby astroid colonies. We lived in a pent house there sometimes. Usually we travelled between places, sometimes palaces, sometimes remote villages in nameless locations."

Her expression morphed into something darker, her eyes clouded with shadows as she started to remember the past.

"My Father owned it all. Ou'ranos Cerra, husband to Jea Cerra, father to my three older brothers and myself."

She glanced down at the ground, her fingers wound through her hair again.

"He was a holder, a favorite at the royal courts, a prestigious Amarrian who executed charm as as a lethal weapon. Everyone loved him. My brothers and I thought of him as a God. We adored both of our parents really. We had everything... perfect, charmed lives."

"That is, until I was seven." Her body visibly tensed. "I went into my mother's room....."

A tear dripped from the corner of her eye."I had just finished with evening prayers."

A soft humid breeze ruffled the sheer white drapes that hung over the opened windows. The translucent fabric rippled out into the room, bringing the scent of the night air. Moonlight slanted across the enormous ornate bed. A young mother lay clutching the silky sheets, her knuckles white. Her scream reverberated throughout the room and echoed into the hall.The seven year old dashed down the corridor and threw back the door, pausing at the entrace. Her vivid blue gaze quickly panned across the room, seeing four tall beings drapped in stark white and amber robes around the bed. Each wore an elogated porcelin white mask.

"Shalee! No!" Her mother screamed. Her fingers twisted in the sheets as her head arched back into the pillow. She sobbed "You must not take my children, I will not allow you to harm them!"

One turned to look at the child, his head tilted a questioning angle. Another nodded, and the first moved towards the girl, dragging her by the arm into the corridor, closing the door behind him.

She could hear her mother's muffled cries on the other side. She started to tremble, then tried to pull away "Please, let me go."

"Child. Be still." His voice was silky smooth as he tightened his grasp "I am not going to hurt you."

"Wh-what are you doing to my mommy?"

"You're mother is going away to be with God." He whispered.

Shalee jerked, trying to pull away from him "No!" He yanked her arm and tugged her to him, kneeling as he placed his gloved hand against her mouth.

"Listen to me." He whispered behind the mask. "You must be brave for her, do you understand? Your mother is very special to God and needs to be with him. She has done her duty and now is time she reaps her rewards."

Her eyes widen as she struggled against his grasp, shaking her head no.

"Shalee, stop. You must understand that this is her fate, to be with God."

Her mother's screams stopped suddenly and Shalee relaxed. He dropped his hand from her mouth.

An eerie silence hung over the hall for what seemed like an eternity to her, and then was broken by the sharp cry of an infant. A few seconds later another, higher pitched cry joined the first.

"The babies came?"

He nodded to her "Shhh it will soon be over now." He whispered in a soothing tone. A few moments later the cries faded and all was silent once more. "There now, see? Everything is as God wills it."

"May I see them? May I see Mother? Please?"

"No child, they will follow your Mother to heaven."

Her chin trembled as the tears threatened to fall "No! I don't want her to go! Don't take them anywhere!" She tried to yank out of his arms again.

She turned her head as the bedroom door opened. A sliver of light slanted across her face, the cloying scent of blood and incense wafted from the room, nausating her. In a glance, Shalee saw her mother in the distance, still stretched across the bed. Her dark hair was plastered against her forehead, her nightgown drenched in blood. It was everywhere, smeared across the sheets, splattered against the wall, dripping down the robes of those who still stood by the bed.

A scream caught in the back of her throat as terror seized her. The next moment was a blurr. She felt something sting her arm, looking down she saw the needle being withdrawn. The drug burned through her blood, causing her eyelids to droop. She tried to fight, tried to scream but couldn't move. Paralyzed, she felt herself being lifted. He was talking to her but she couldn't quite make out the words, they seemed far away as if someone were talking to her behind a closed door. She strained to hear, tried to look at him but couldn't. Lights blurred and then suddenly everything was still and dark.

"They killed her and the twin babies she was carrying. I was just seven... I didn't know what it meant, what they were doing, who they were. I heard them...but I didn't know. The next morning I woke up, wondering if it was a nightmare. It couldn't be real, my mother couldn't be dead. I rushed to her room but she wasn't there. Everything was new. The bed had been changed, there were new rugs, new paint on the walls. Everything was different and she was gone. I went downstairs and my Father and brothers were there, having breakfast. As if it were just any other ordinary day."

Shalee rubbed her face with her hands as if trying to brush away the memories. "I demanded to know where my mother was and all they could do was look at me. My brothers said nothing, out of fear? I never knew. My Father took me into his office, into his arms and held me as I cried. I told him everything, what I saw, what I heard. He told me that the men I saw were seafrim, God's angels to take mother and the babies to heaven. He said I was a very special little girl to have witnessed one of God's miracles. He said that it was so special I should never ever speak of it again, that it was a secret between God and me, and that I should feel very blessed to have seen God's chosen seafrim."

"I believed him. I believed him because I wanted to believe him, I wanted to think it was all part of God's plan, that they were angels and I was special."

She choked out a laugh.

"Special. Chosen, even. To watch blood raiders in their sadistic ritual as they murdered my mother and drank the blood of those two innocent babies."

She rubbed her hands together furiously as if she were freezing, still pacing the length of the room.

"He was a charlatan, a deceiver. He made me believe it all. For the next six years I put it from my mind. It was easier to believe him and not think about it."

"I was thirteen." She paused in front of the holographic wall as the scence changed into a rainstorm hovering over an ocean. The faint sound of waves lapping against a shore and gentle thunder filled the background. "Only thirteen when I found out just how special I really was. I was forbidden to enter the North Chapel on our property. Father had said it was too dangerous, that the place was very old and dilapidated and that I should avoid it at all costs."

"And I did until I saw strange lights out that way one night. I went to tell Father about the lights but he was no where to be found, nor were any of my brothers so I decided to investigate it for myself."

She gets a faraway look in her eyes as her features become strained.

"I shouldn't have went down there. I have often wondered what my life would have been like if I had not opened those doors."

We are the sum of our choices...

"If I would not have chosen to go there perhaps even now I could still believe in God."

"I could exist in a naive world with the rest of the Amarrians, believing that God is merciful, that we are chosen, supreme. I could live the rest of my days in a blurr of innocence, believing what is force fed to us from birth."

"Opening those doors was like opening my eyes to reality. A dark, horrific reality, where my Father used God's name to commit the most atrocious crimes."

"You see, my Father had made his fortune in slaves, that I had always known, but I had assumed they were sold for profit. I never noticed when they went missing from the house even, another would be there to take their place and lift drifted comfortably by. I was a child, it never occured to me that something nefarious was going on right beneath my nose."

"But that night I could deny it no longer. In that chapel the truth was spread out before me. The walls were lined with shackles, half decomposed corpses hung, completely drained. The floor was sticky beneath my feet. And oh god, the smell. The smell of so much blood, it took me back to that night when I was seven...and I knew the truth."

"I tried to run but they caught me and this time I couldn't be lied to. I was chained and gagged to stop my screaming. I don't know how many days I was left there, starved for food and water, light and mercy. Every night they came and forced me to watch their sadistic and vulgar blood games."

Shalee glanced to the camera drone with tears streaking down her cheeks.

"They kept telling me I was one of them, their blood was my blood, that I belonged to them, that this was my true nature, that I should embrace it. I was so thirsty."

She darted her tongue out, licking away the tears.

"I don't know how many days had passed before I succumbed. My brother pricked his hand and held the sliver of blood against my lips. His hand was in my hair, coaxing me, whispering to me to be brave."

We are the sum of our choices...

"I tasted it...and then I drank it greedily. I was one of them. I was their loving sister, dutiful daughter, and willing pupil. Night after night they inducted me into their blood games. We became the inquisitors of the heathens, and everything we did, every horrible crime was okay because it was in the name of God."

"Eventually I was trusted enough to move into the house again. Even though I was physically free, I was so mind-fracked that I couldn't even think of running away."

"By day I lived in a daze, I continued my lessons, helped my Father entertain his guests, played the part of dutiful, God-fearing Amarrian daughter and presented to the world a picture of normalcy and privilege."

"By night I delivered the word of God to those my family had chosen, and then helped deliver their souls to or God. What did he care about the method or what became of the vessels left behind? What did he care as long as the end goal was achieved?"

She shivered.

"I lost count of the years after that. None of it mattered anyhow, it wasn't me, not really. It was as if I were on the sidelines, watching someone else invade my body, making it commit murder. I became deaf to my own voice, how could I say those things? How could I preach those words? How could I take an innocent life simply because they refused to believe in my God? How could I torture them so, watch them beg for mercy that I knew would only come through repentance and then death. How could I then...."

Silence. A long moment of silence as she stands there, gazing off into the unseen.

"There was one woman." She shakes her head as if denying it "She looked into my eyes and she saw me. She really, really saw me. I told her to repent and she told me that my mother would be ashamed, that she saw my mother and that I should open my eyes and I would see her too. That I would know the truth." She brushed a hand across her face, swiping away the tears. "I would have none of it. I gutted her, felt her warm blood on my hands and then I drained her, giving her to my Father as a gift."

She slumped down and drew her knees up to her chest. "But she was right. After that I saw her face everywhere, haunting me, pleading with me to open my eyes to the truth. And one day I did, just like that. One random day the reality of what I had become hit me so hard...I just broke down."

We are the sum of our choices...

"I tried to kill myself. I just wanted to die, to end it all. I prayed to God for forgiveness and begged him to take me to my mother. It was all I wanted, just to be done with this life."

"They say with enough money you can buy anything and they are right. My Father bought my immortality. I woke up in some hospital some weeks later in a cloned body."

"And that is when I stopped believing in God."

Somewhere along the way she realized she'd stopped narrating a simple journal entry. She stood and made her way to the camera drone, programming it to duplicate to Garst Tyrell's inbox.

"It took me seven more years to escape him and I only became free because he defied the Empress and refused to release his slaves. That is the only way I have escaped. You think you can threaten me into believing in God? You think there is anything you can do to me that I have not done to another? Do you really think I even care what happens now? I cannot die. I cannot be forgiven because those who could forgive me are dead. There is no punishment that I can face that I've not faced before. I do not believe in your God, Garst, because if he does exist, I will have no part of him. He is cruel and unmerciful."

She cups her hand against her mouth then slowly trails it upwards, threading her fingers through her long auburn hair. "Can you understand any of this? Can you understand what I am trying to tell you? You preach to me of bringing the 'light of God to the unfortunate of New Eden' and tell me there is no room for grey, only 'black and white'." She stared into the camera "And with that, I do agree. Every day we fight a war for the Empire, we kill, slaughter, and pod those whom our Empress has deemed an enemy. Theres no grey in that, it is all murder. For whatever reasons, the end result is the same."

"We are the sum of our choices. We choose every day to put on that uniform and fly under the Amarrian flag, to kill in the name of God and Empire....and yet, we are all the same underneath it all. We are all like my Father and nothing ever really changes. I put on a smile to the world and pretend I am a normal, God-fearing, Amarrian pilot with a pious nature and nobody even cares to question it."

"So there it is Garst, the truth in all of it's horrific glory. Do what you must with it."

She killed the transmission after sending another copy to Zenton. If she were to suddenly disappear, at least he would know why.

Terminate Log.