Sovereignty: Minmatar Republic
Security Level: 0.4
Fourteen hours earlier....
She had docked in Vard after an extensive patrol across the Bleaks and Devoid, continuously scanning for military compounds to reclaim. Exhausted, she sent Raphael a message telling him she'd have to cancel on the drinks they were going to meet up for after they finished their route.
Her thoughts were all over the place as she went through the motions of exiting her pod, barely mindful of the disengaging process. She ignored the slaves who helped her, not deliberately or maliciously, she was just too tired to notice their presence.
Once cleaned up and dressed in a standard PIE pilot flight suit, she clipped her Lieutenant JG pin to her collar, wondering what it would be like to wear the tag of the brass. How must it feel to be a captain? An admiral? She couldn't even fathom shouldering that kind of responsibility. The work she did now exhausted her, she couldn't imagine what it must be like for them.
Trailing her hands through her long damp hair, she twisted it up as she stepped out of her personal quarters.
Her Intaki steward came forward "Lieutenant will you be staying aboard tonight?"
"No, I need a little time off ship. I'll be in my apartment if I am needed. Goodnight."
The Intaki smiled warmly to her and nodded "See you in a few hours."
Shalee left the malediction and made her way to the small apartment she rented under an assumed name on the space station, unaware that she was being followed.
Thirteen hours earlier...
She had ducked into a shop to order a bottle of wine and some food to go. As she waited for her order to be filled she debated on comming Saint. If he were close by they could have a drink in her apartment instead of the usual Pax Praetoria lounge that most of the junior officers were spending their time at these days. She pulled out her comm and hesitated, thinking that if word got out she met up with an Ensign for a drink in her private quarters, she'd catch hell for it. Even if it was an innocent thing, it didn't matter. She had learned along the way that appearances were everything. It really doesn't matter what you do so as long as the world at large thinks you're doing the right thing. And there were so many people out there already who was eager to bring her down, malicious backstabbing people who would exploit the slightest thing to cast her in a negative light.
She slid the comm back into her pocket and made the long walk to her apartment, carrying two bags filled with food and various other things she'd need for the next few nights. She made a mental note to have the apartment stocked since she'd be spending the majority of her downtime on Vard in the next few weeks. It was priority and it made her patrols easier if she started off in the system.
A palm scan gave her entrance into the apartment. As she stepped through the open door, she glanced over her shoulder having an eerie sense of being watched.
Twelve hours earlier...
A camera done hovered around her as she sat in the center of her bed, her food spread about her picnic style. In the background the local news droned on, all propoganda for the Minmatars. She paid little attention to it except to scoff at something or other here and there. Her wine bottle was half empty and she was already feeling the affects of it. Drowsy and relaxed, she yawned before starting her recording.
"The last week has been a strange one. Many have returned from planetside, including Garst, Jhaelee, and Dante. We threw Garst an impomptu welcome back party at the Pax, though for some reason he didn't stay very long. He seemed upset actually, no idea why. Jhaelee was there as well. I was pleased to see her though I don't think Saint was. I guess he had never met her before and was unaware of her manner of speaking. He thought she was mocking him. I tried to explain it to him but by that point both of them had lost their temper and it was an impossible situation. And to make matters worse, Jhaelee was having some sort of memory problem and seemed awfully confused. I requested that she go check herself into medical for a scan because clearly something is wrong."
"As for Dante, I've yet to see him. He may not even remember me." She shrugged to the idea. "It has been quite some time after all."
"One by one they are returning...except for Michael. I've been to St. Alms every single day since the last time I seen him hoping that he would find me there but so far, nothing. It's just an empty cathedral now. Of course I can't help but to worry, though I pray that everything is alright."
"Things are somewhat unstable with Zenton at the moment. It seems we are never really on the same page in our relationship. We started out on a lie, but then I confessed everything and thought from that moment on everything would be okay. And then somewhere along the way he loses his fucking mind, quits PIE, dabbles into piracy. After that hellish week we came to a truce of sorts, he made promises though in the process he broke some of them. Eventually we get things worked out, or so I think until a random encounter with a pilot from Ghost Festival on a space station in Tzvi. I had stopped there to pick up a module and let the crew have a few moments of downtime. The station has a capsuleers garden there, so I had a look around. Out of the blue this pirate started speaking to me. I recognized the angel cartel insignia immediately, I had seen it before, when Koronakesh had shown me his all those months ago. I was pretty rude to the man, considering. But, this is how it has to be. I know that every word I say in public is a reflection on PIE and I will not have my career jeopardized by conversation with some random pirate. Anyhow, he said something that caught my attention. He knew Zenton, not personally, but said that Zenton had applied to Ghost Festival."
"In that moment I could have killed him. How could he lie to me like that? How could he, after all of these months, deliberately keep something so important from me? He has maintained that his foray into piracy was shortlived, a day at most...but apparently he had the time and mind to apply to the notorious Ghost Festival corporation? Had he been accepted, we would have become instant enemies."
"Later that night Zenton dropped by the Pax. I couldn't help but be upset with him. I told him I knew and that I was heartbroken that he never told me, that I had to find out from some stranger. Apparently our relationship lacks trust and honesty."
Standing, she started to clear off the debris scattered across the bed and tossed the empty containers into a nearby bin. "We are supposed to meet at Inis soon but with both of us committed to seperate causes, it seems like we rarely have the time to see each other. Before, it was easier. When he was in PIE our goals were the same, our patrols were the same. With him in DIA, more often than not he is somewhere out in Metropolis."
"I guess I should just be thankful that he is with Invelious's boys instead of Ghost Festival."
Yawning, she moved back over to her bed and stretched out after dimming the lights.
Ten hours earlier...
Macabre dreams piled on top of one another. Her sleep, fitful and unrestless as nightmares plagued her. And suddenly she was jerked out of that hellish surreal world into another, darker place. She blinked several times, trying to adjust her vision to the darkness of her apartment. Lucidity came instantly as she felt herself being dragged from the bed. Terror seized her as adrenaline pumped through her. Instincts took over and she fought, kicking and screaming and clawing at her attackers.
Hands clasped tightly around her arms and thighs as they pulled her into the bare kitchen.
Two men clothed in black robes held her down, the hoods pulled up to cover their heads. She could barely make out a pale white mask beneath it.
Her wrists and ankles were tied to a chair.
One of them backhanded her, bloodying her nose.
She trembled involuntarily, teeth chattering, terror bright in her eyes. Hysterical with fear, she tried to force her thoughts into figuring out who they were and why they were here. To remember the details.
"We know who you are and what you've done."
"What do you want from me?"
"What? I don't understand."
"You're sticking your nose into places it doesn't belong."
"I don't know what you mean."
"Yes, you do."
"No I don't!"
"You're the reason they don't believe Michael Priboj is not dead."
Michael? Oh god, this was about Michael?!
"He is dead. You will convince anyone who asks you about him that he is, in fact, dead. Do you understand?"
"I...I think I do."
"If we have to come back..."
One of the lackeys punched her in the stomach. She choked, gasped for breath."I said I wouldn't tell! I swear to God I wont tell anyone anything else!"
"Your life depends on it...and those you love. Think of Zenton ...you continue to make things difficult for us and we will certainly make things difficult for him."
Her head was yanked back by her hair, her mouth forced open. A solution was poured down her throat. She tried to spit it out and was rewarded by another punch in the stomach. Again, the drug was forced into her mouth, this time the underside of her chin slammed against, forcing her mouth closed.
"And now you will sleep. Dream. Hallucinate." He rubbed his thumb beneath her nose, smearing away the blood. "And maybe you will think this was just another nightmare in that fucked up head of yours."
The room started to spin. Light bleeded into the darkness. His voice seemed very far away.
"Say another word about Michael and I'll inform your CEO that you're doing drugs. How do you think that is going to look on your record? Do you really think your precious PIE is going to give you the benefit of the doubt? You think they will believe you?"
She opened her mouth to protest but words died on her tongue. She couldn't speak.
She was vaguely aware of the pressure being lifted from her wrists and ankles. She was left in her bedroom to sleep it off. The security feeds would be manipulated should she check later to show that no one had ever been in her apartment.