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